Applied Ethics


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What kind of academic inquiry can best help humanity make progress towards as good a world as possible?  Why are philosophers apparently so uninterested in this question?  Is it because most believe the kind of academic inquiry we have today, devoted primarily to the pursuit of knoweldge and technological know-how, is the best that we can have, judged from the perspective of helping humanity make progress towards a better world?  Why are philosophers apparently so uninterested in arguments which seem to show decisively that inquiry restricted to the pursuit of knowledge is both profoundly irrational, and a menace?  The successful pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how, dissociated from a more fundamental concern to help humanity resolve conflicts and problems of living in increasingly cooperatively rational ways, is almost bound to lead to trouble.  Scientific knowledge and technological know-how enormously increase our power to act - for some of us at ... (read more)
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If you come across this paper while researching philosophy of love, you should watch this:
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I have noticed a small literature on Okin's objection to libertarianism. But I question whether this should be discussed under the heading of "Okin's objection". A very similar objection has been around for centuries by Robert Filmer, which the author briefly mentions but does not present. Filmer's objection is now discussed under the heading of the paradox of self-ownership.

It says that, given common knowledge, we cannot endorse both these propositions, which are essential to (standard?) libertarianism:
(1) Each person owns themselves.
(2) Each person owns the products of their labour.

According to Filmer, a person is the product of their parents' labour so they do not own themselves by (2).

Okin's version says that a person is the product of their mother's labour so they do not own themselves. (It seems she does not give a male parent even 0.000001% labour contribution.)

If the focus is mainly on whether a libertarian can say that individuals are self-owners, I feel it is unfair to discus ... (read more)
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I am trying to start a discussion for teaching INSEPARABILITY OF LOGIC AND ETHICS. A COLLEAGUE WROTE: I'm going to be teaching your "Inseparability of Logic and Ethics" in a couple weeks. I was wondering if you had any tips on doing so or thoughts about points to emphasize. I've always loved the paper and found your pedagogical techniques quite helpful.
MY ADVICE TO MY COLLEAGUE: First, before assigning the paper to be read, ask the students to look up “ethics” and “logic” in a dictionary or other reference work and then to write a paragraph on what the two have to do with each other. Second, after the students were supposed to have read the paper, ask them what they got out of it. Just let them talk and prompt them where necessary. No contentiousness. Third, read the first page aloud to them and see what happens. As you go read chunks aloud and ask questions—just like I did teaching you Tarski’s truth-definition paper. Fourth, go around the clas ... (read more)


► JOHN CORCORAN AND WILLIAM FRANK, Cosmic Justice Hypotheses.

  This applied-logic lecture builds on [1] arguing that character traits fostered by logic serve clarity and understanding in ethics, confirming hopeful views of Alfred Tarski [2, Preface, and personal communication].

  Hypotheses in one strict usage are propositions not known to be true and not known to be false or—more loosely—propositions so considered for discussion purposes [1, p. 38].

   Logic studies hypotheses by determining their implications (propositions they imply) and their implicants (propositions that imply them). Logic also studies hypotheses by seeing how variations affect implications and implicants. People versed in logical methods are more inclined to enjoy working with hypotheses and less inclined to dismiss them or to accept them without sufficient evidence.

  Cosmic Justice Hypotheses (CJHs), such as “in the fullness of time every act will be rewarded or punished in exact proportion to its goodness or badness ... (read more)


The writing describes a new sort of individual, “a delude”. People like Hitler would well fit the description. He was mentally healthy, however overwhelmed by grossly deluded opinions.

Here is the description from the text: 

"Even when a person is born possessing a healthy mental state, the familial and environmental assault during childhood with deluded opinions and behavior can be the basis for an individual to develop into a delude, an individual in a deluded mental state. In this writing, the label fool, or imbecile, is sometimes interchangeable with the underlying primary conditions of the delude. A fool is predisposed to accept deluded opinions as true; however, he or she can have an overall good awareness of social norms and laws that he or she learned to comply with. A fool is not, because of his mental condition alone, a villain. In contrast, the delude typically develops overwhelming extreme views. These views can be held as more important than any social or legal consideration ... (read more)

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Any disagreement, agreement, argument or any evaluation would do. Need a help from you all to write a critical review for this article.
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(1) That sentient life will one day come to an end is no solace for those sentients existing and suffering today.

(2) Whether it is better to have been or not to have been is a Cartesian koan I can ponder concrerning myself, but not one I have a right to decide concerning another sentient that is or has been; all the less right have I to create or support the creation of another sentient, out of nothing.

(3) Pain and pleasure are incommensurable; only pain is pertinent to moral musings like these: No number of orgasms (for me) compensates for one fallen sparrow; and, again, the sparrow’s pains or solaces are not for me to weigh -- for the sparrow.

(4) Christianity is particularly self-righteous and presumptuous on such questions, always ready to sanction temporal risk and suffering for the bodies of others for the salvation of their immaterial, immortal souls, sub specie aeternitatis.

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This was a solid paper guys I really must commend you for the excellent work. With that said, I do agree with you about Raz's arguments. They seemed to possess little to no substance whatsoever and his argument of self-interest towards the end seemed to be more of a forfeiture of his premise than anything else. I will at least credit him for attempting to untangle the knots in this complex field we call moral philosophy but I had some major objections while reading. Please do correct me if I speak ignorantly or from a misinformed position.

1. Raz says to be moral is to see value in others and one's self. This value is derived from the virtue of being a person. Are we to take it that the recognition of this value disregards how we cultivate that value through action which subsequently has consequences? If I see value in someone, but still decide to take away their life because I perceive myself to be more valuable, am I moral or not.

2. A refutation of point 1 would be that to see value ... (read more)
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I look for an article by Bernard Williams on the notion of nature. I cannot remember the references or the book in which it is located. I think the text is in a book whose title is something like Thinking of nature, but I'm not sure.
If s.o. can help me, I'd be very grateful.
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Many medical research protocols pay for medical care for subjects who do not have insurance but bill insurance companies if they do. Is this ethical?

e.g. 2 subjects in a cancer chemo protocol, each has an annual income of $100,000:

A Has chosen to pay for insurance. His insurance is billed for care.

B Has no insurance. He pays nothing.

 Is this ethical?

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