The question of how to affirm one's life in view of suffering and loss is central to Nietzsche's philosophy. He shows, I claim, that one can affirm one's life as a whole, conceived as necessary in all its elements, while also despising parts of it. Yet he mostly pictures such life-affirmation as achievable only via an atheistic theodicy that relies on a key ambition of the very system of morality that he famously attacks: namely to explain or justify suffering in (...) terms of a higher end to which it is essential. I argue that affirmation of one's life is more powerful without the crutch of any theodicy, and point to Job as a paragon of one who can affirm his life without seeking an answer to the question of the meaning or value of suffering – indeed who can dispense altogether with that question. (shrink)
Directed duties are duties that an agent owes to some party – a party who would be wronged if the duty were violated. A ‘direction problem’ asks what it is about a duty in virtue of which it is directed towards one party, if any, rather than another. I discuss three theories of moral direction: control, demand and interest theories. Although none of these theories can be rejected out of hand, all three face serious difficulties.
I argue that some instances of constitutional religious establishment can be consistent with an expressivist interpretation of democratic legitimacy. Whether official religious endorsements disparage or exclude religious minorities depends on a number of contextual considerations, including the philosophical content of the religion in question, the attitudes of the majority, and the underlying purpose of the official status of the religious doctrine.
I distinguish two ways that a cultural practice may be inherently objectionable. I reject the claim that polygamy is inherently "vicious" because asymmetric marriages are inevitably inegalitarian. I argue that there is good reason to think polygamy is inherently "bankrupt" insofar as a cultural ideal of asymmetric marriage presupposes stereotypical gender roles.
Gopal Sreenivasan’s “hybrid theory” states that a moral duty is directed toward an individual because her interests justify the assignment of control over the duty. An alternative “plain theory” states that the individual’s interests justify the duty itself. I argue that a strong moral status constraint explains Sreenivasan’s instrumentalization objection to a Razian plain theory but that his own model violates this constraint. I suggest how both approaches can be reformulated to satisfy the constraint, and I argue that a reformulated (...) plain theory can also avoid an insufficiency objection. The hybrid approach consequently has no clear advantage over the plain approach. (shrink)
Instrumentalism about moral compromise in politics appears inconsistent with accepting both the existence of non-instrumental or principled reasons for moral compromise in close personal friendships and a rich ideal of civic friendship. Using a robust conception of political reconciliation during democratic transitions as an example of civic friendship, I argue that all three claims are compatible. Spouses have principled reasons for compromise because they commit to sharing responsibility for their joint success as partners in life, and not because their relationship (...) involves strong affective attitudes of goodwill, solidarity, trust, and the like. Since shared responsibility for ends is an inappropriate element in the political relationship between citizens, the members of a divided society may manifest the constitutive attitudes of political reconciliation without any commitment to principled reasons for moral compromise. (shrink)
I argue against Rawls's claim that the liberal principle of legitimacy would be selected in the original position in addition to a democratic principle. Since a religious democracy could satisfy the democratic principle, the parties in the original position would not exclude it as illegitimate.