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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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If you have any questions or comments on "The Zygote Argument is Invalid", I would enjoy discussing them on this thread!

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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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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I want to draw a distinction between a "nation" (or other group) in terms of the individuals that make it up  and that "nation" (or other group) as a unified body. The former is entirely made up of reductive qualities; it has properties just in case the individuals have the property.  So the British nation loves tea, the Korean nation loves Kimchee and the German nation loves sausages etc.  The "unified body" has emergent qualities; sovereignty, a foreign policy, institutions, a seat at the United Nations etc.
It seems to me that the first "nation" can have some properties, in virtue of it's members having those properties that conflict with similar emergent properties of the second "nation".  For example Germany's actions in World War 1 were, at least thought to be, in the interest of Germany.  But that would appear to be "Germany" in the second sense of "nation". It doesn't seem to have advanced or even be aimed at advancing the individuals that made up the nation. 

That's two paragraphs ... (read more)
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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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    The general (perhaps only the Western) view is that there is little to no contribution to ancient political thought from Asia. In recent scholarships, Indian and Chinese scholars have argued that Kautilya's Arthashastra (some include Manu’s Laws) and Confucius' Analects have much to contribute to ancient political thought and even contemporary relevance, and have reconstructed them so.

    Besides Confucianism and Hinduism, does Buddhism or the Buddha have anything to say about socio-political organization? Some have asserted that the Buddha was a political realist, i.e. even though he favored some kind of a tribal democratic republic (as shown in how the sangha is structured), a colossal socio-political transformation was taking place in Northern India during his time, where powerful monarchical systems were emerging, and the Buddha made his attempts to influence its development in a certain direction (The Pali Canon, Digha Nikaya presents some evidences to this).

     ... (read more)

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In the article "Towards Perpetual Peace" Kant articulates several articles that would lead us to a state of peace. The third of the definitive articles is the article: Cosmopolitan Right shall be limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality.

Kant states that "hospitality means the right of a stranger not to be treated with hostility when he arrives on someone else's territory"(PP).However, at the beginning of the part on the Three Definitive Principles of a Perpetual Peace, Kant argues that any one who is not under a civil constitution can be treated as a stranger, because his/her unlawful status is a "permanent threat" to me (PP). These two claims seem to contradict each other.

According to me there are two possibilities:

1) The right of a stranger only applies to strangers who are under a civil constitution, i.e. citizens of a state. This, however, already qualifies the stranger, and the stranger ceases to be a total stranger. In the treatment of the third article, Kant however does q ... (read more)

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  • r. dw, 2013-07-12 : I believe what Kant means is that the individual's ethics or critique of judgment is founded in that of the State wh... (read more)
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Can anyone out there recommend a good historical study of the various strategies used throughout history to persuade the citizens of ancient (?) and modern societies to accept and use inconvertible fiat currencies?
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I think that the main argument -and incidentally an appealing one- for capitalism is the idea that private property must be respected -as a moral imperative. That is, no one should take another's money (or what have you). Locke, for example, claimed that there are three natural rights: life, liberty, and property. And the champion of modern capitalism, M. Rothbard, also endorsed this view repeatedly. Furthermore, he took the property right to be entailed by the property right on one's own body:

Thus every man having a natural right to (or being proprietor of) his own person and his own actions and labor, which we call property, it certainly follows, that no man can have a right to the person or property of another: And if every man has a right to his person and property; he has also a right to defend them
--Introduction to The Ethics of Liberty

If a man has the right to the self ownership, to the control of his life, then in the real world he must also have the right to sustain his lif ... (read more)
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Just wondering if the irony of an article about the high quality of open science research being situated behind a pay wall was lost on anybody...

Accodding to Rawls, an individual's possession of a productive talent only justifies an inequitable distribution of primary goods in her favor when that distribution incentivizes productivity in a way that benefits the worst-off. But what about talents whose very exercise seems to require that their possessors have significantly more leisure than their fellowmen? Doesn't the leisure required for the exercise of these talents provide a justification for inequitable distribution quite apart from any consideration of incentives?
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Hello everyone,

I was wondering if someone can refer me to a quote from PL or related writings regarding the following assertions:

"Admittedly Rawls allows starting with a modus vivendi justification that will eventually lead to a principled acceptance of political liberalism."

I can't seem to locate the exact quote proving this (though I think I've read it somewhere in PL or subsequent related writings).

Many thanks in advance for any help.
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Reply to NDPR review of Benner, Machiavelli’s Ethics.

Posted on May 5, 2010 by dikaiosis

My book Machiavelli’s Ethics was recently reviewed by Cary J. Nederman in the Notre Dame Philosophical Review. Here is the review:

Nederman published a book on Machiavelli (Machiavelli: A Beginner’s Guide, Oneworld Publications, March 2009) a few months before mine came out. Since our aims and approaches are very different, disagreements are to be expected. However, the review also contains some serious misrepresentations of my arguments. As the NDPR does not have a policy of publishing authors’ replies to reviews, I try to set the record (partly) straight here.    (Comments welcome)

1. Nederman thinks that I deal in an unjustifiably selective way with recent Machiavelli scholarship. He writes, “the way in which the preceding literature is or is not brought to bear on the arguments of this book has, in my opinion, the effect of distorting the record and, at times, of ... (read more)


This is, for the most part, a lovely paper – very clear, very helpful. At the moment I have just one quibble. It has to do with the following sentence:

“(Most of my fellow libertarians think that that the error in the Mind argument  - they agree with my conviction that that’s where the error is to be found – can be exposed by reflection of the concept of “agent causation. “ “  [p.23]

It's a monster - right?

Suppose there were a machine (M) which could pass a very strong version of the Turing test.

The jury is still out as to whether that would mean the machine has some kind of sentience. And it might be natural to think that we can't decide whether that machine has rights (or which rights it has) until we know whether it is sentient (or which kind of sentient it is). For typically, we think humans have rights by virtue either of their having interests, or else, their having something one might call "dignity." Interests seem most naturally to involve sentience on the part of the interested. And whatever "dignity" is, again it seems fairly clear that it involves sentience.

(Not that every bearer of rights has to be sentient, but at least, it is typically thought that a bearer of rights needs to be of a kind which typically does have sentience.)

So if we don't know whether M is sentient--even if M can pass a strong Turing test--then it'd seem we don't know whether M is a bearer of ... (read more)
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