Standard theory and practice is to equate competence to make decisions regarding one’s medical treatment with the possession of certain rational capacities, including the capacity to understand and appreciate the prognosis of the available treatment options. Standard theory and practice also prefer to treat as competent patients who make treatment decisions on the basis of religious commitments, even when those commitments appear to interfere with the patients’ ability to understand the relevant information. This paper argues that such decision-makers are in (...) fact incapacitated, but that community and societal commitments to respecting religion may nevertheless provide reasons to respect their decisions. (shrink)
Many people believe hope’s most important function is to bolster us in despairinducing circumstances. A related but less dramatic view is that instilling or reinforcing hope for a state of affairs is a good way to get people to act to promote that state of affairs. I propose that we conceive of hope as, most paradigmatically, the expression of desire in imagination. I then trace through the implications of this conception for, first, how hope influences motivation and, second, what forms (...) of hope are rational. (shrink)
In their classic, Principles of Biomedical Ethics (now in its fifth edition), Beauchamp and Childress, describe a puzzling case: A man who generally exhibits normal behavior patterns is involuntarily committed to a mental institution as the result of bizarre self-destructive behavior (pulling out an eye and cutting off a hand). This behavior results from his unusual religious beliefs. … [H]is peculiar actions follow “reasonably” from his religious beliefs. …While analysis in terms of limited competence might at first appear plausible, such (...) an analysis entails that persons with unorthodox or bizarre religious beliefs are less than competent, even if they reason clearly in light of their beliefs. (shrink)
The standard foil for recent theories of hope is the belief-desire analysis advocated by Hobbes, Day, Downie, and others. According to this analysis, to hope for S is no more and no less than to desire S while believing S is possible but not certain. Opponents of the belief-desire analysis argue that it fails to capture one or another distinctive feature or function of hope: that hope helps one resist the temptation to despair;2 that hope engages the sophisticated capacities of (...) human agency, such as planning;3 or that hope involves the imagination in ways desire need not.4 Here, I focus on the role of imagination in hope, and discuss its implications for hope’s relation to practical commitment or end-setting. (shrink)
Ethical or moral assessments are ubiquitous, from the international political arena, where world leaders debate the morality of the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, to private family interactions, where children accuse their parents of being unfair. In this class, we engage with this essential component of our lives philosophically. Our activity is philosophical in that we seek to understand moral questions before trying to answer them, and our primary aim is always to hone our critical reasoning skills. These skills will serve (...) you well, long after the details of this class have faded from memory. (shrink)
The extent of the approval with which Western culture views the attitude of hope can scarcely be exaggerated. Hope is seen as that which sustains us through wartime, death camps, slavery, natural disaster, extreme disease and disability—it is a light, a beacon, the last spark that fuels us when all else has failed. Hope is also seen as a moral and spiritual virtue—hoping for moral progress in this world, and salvation in the next, is at the heart of a meaningful (...) human life. A positive view of hope infuses Western theology since Aquinas; utopian political philosophy, positive psychology, the self-help culture, the clinical research community, a wide range of activist groups, and a great deal of political rhetoric all maintain the affirmation of hope. The only qualm commonly expressed about hope is that it is sometimes “false:” that is, based on lies or misconceptions. False hope is bad because, first, it is bad to be deceived and, second, it may suck up resources better spent elsewhere. False hope, though, is not genuine hope, and genuine hope is an essential human good. My book Wanting to Pull Clouds will argue that the popular view of hope is vastly and dangerously oversimplified. Much more insidious than false hope is hope that is “genuine” and not based on lies or misconceptions, but that nevertheless bears important conceptual and empirical connections to passivity, inattention, excuse-making and wishful thinking. To be clear, this is not an anti-hope project. Rather, it examines the mechanisms that make hope desirable and virtuous, when it is these things; it becomes clear in the course of this examination that these very.. (shrink)
We are interestingly ambivalent about romantic love, in a number of cases. Consider a man who abuses his wife, but is also passionate about her and easily distraught at the thought of losing her. There is some sense in which he loves her, but another in which he absolutely does not. Consider, too, a longtime partner who feels she has rather suddenly “fallen out of love” with the person to whom she was once devoted. She continues to feel there is (...) some sense in which she loves this person, but another in which she does not. And again, many people seem to both believe in love at first sight and think that the only true lovers are those whose feelings have withstood the tests of time and difficulty. In this paper, I propose that Kant’s conception of human feeling, desire, and motivation provides an unusually compelling account—both of ambiguous cases of romantic love and of love more generally. This proposal is not as shocking as it would have been 30 years ago, but I suspect it is still surprising to many, whom have been persuaded at most that there is room in Kant’s moral theory for feeling to play a positive supportive role in moral motivation; my proposal here is that Kant’s broader vision of human motivation—moral and nonmoral—tightly fits the phenomenon of love and, perhaps, emotions in general. (shrink)
It is a commonplace in both the popular imagination and the philosophical literature that hope has a special kind of motivational force. This commonplace underwrites the conviction that hope alone is capable of bolstering us in despairinducing circumstances, as well as the strategy of appealing to hope in the political realm. In section 1, I argue that, to the contrary, hope’s motivational essence is not special or unique—it is simply that of an endorsed desire. The commonplace is not entirely mistaken, (...) however, because standard ways of expressing hope do have motivational influence that is different in kind from that of desire. In sections 2 through 4, I examine one of these ways of expressing hope, fantasizing, and argue that fantasies can present us with reasons to modify our goals and projects in multiple ways. (shrink)
The significance of private standards and associated local level initiatives in agri-food value chains are increasingly recognised. However whilst issues related to compliance and impact at the smallholder or worker level have frequently been analysed, the governance implications in terms of how private standards affect national level institutions, public, private and non-governmental, have had less attention. This article applies an extended value chain framework for critical analysis of Private Standards Initiatives (PSIs) in agrifood chains, drawing on primary research on PSIs (...) operating in Kenyan horticulture (Horticulture Ethical Business Initiative and KenyaGAP). The paper explores the legislative, executive and judicial aspects of governance in these southern PSIs highlighting how different stakeholders shape debates and act with agency. It is argued that governance is exercised ‘beyond the vertical’ in that one can identify wider horizontal processes of governance, including how the scope of key debates is constructed (especially in legislative governance) but analysis of executive governance emphasises the dominant role of the lead buyers. (shrink)
Apologies are strange. They are, in a certain sense, very small. An apology is just a gesture—a set of words, a physical posture, perhaps a gift. But an apology can also be very powerful—this power is implicit in the facts that it can be difficult to offer an apology and that, when we are wronged, we may want an apology very much. More, even we have been severely wronged, we are sometimes willing to forgive or pardon the wrongdoer, if we (...) receive a sincere apology. In this paper, I want to begin to figure out how a mere gesture can be so powerful. The philosophers who discuss apology generally do not go into much detail, and they discuss it almost exclusively in connection with forgiveness. 2 I, too, will discuss apology’s power to provide reason to forgive, but in order to provide the resources to examine another power. Some apologies, I will argue, fail to provide reason to forgive, but nevertheless do provide the recipient a reason to maintain a relationship with the wrongdoer, or to allow the wrongdoer to remain in her community. To be clear: the “powers” I am interested in are reason-giving powers, or powers to make certain beliefs, attitudes, or actions rational. Apologies also, no doubt, have a sort of bare causal power. The sight of a vicious, racist, cruel war criminal on his knees and in tears, sincerely begging forgiveness, may inspire in us pity or even compassion, in spite of what we believe we have reason to feel. “I can’t help but feel sorry for the bastard,” we may say, even while believing that.. (shrink)
How do we encourage patients to be hopeful without exploiting their hope? A medical researcher or a pharmaceutical company can take unfair advantage of someone's hope by much subtler means than simply giving misinformation. Hope shapes deliberation, and therefore can make deliberation better or worse, by the deliberator's own standards of deliberation.
Refusing to pursue recent and possible future developments in medical research is itself a morally momentous decision—and that inaction has consequences Cohen and other right-wing thinkers refuse to acknowledge. -/- .
Significant effort has been devoted to locating a good argument for Kant's Formula of Humanity. In this paper, I contrast two arguments, based on Kant's text, for the Formula of Humanity. The first, which I call the 'Valued Ends' argument, is an influential and appealing argument developed most notably by Christine Korsgaard and Allen Wood. Notwithstanding the appeal and influence of this argument, it ultimately fails on several counts. I therefore present as an alternative the 'Autonomy' argument, which is largely (...) inspired by the failings of the Valued Ends argument. (shrink)