This article considers two different, yet related, theoretical approaches that could be employed to ground the anarchist critique of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary practice, and thus of the state in general: the State-Primacy Theory and the Quadruplex Theory. The State-Primacy Theory appears to be consistent with several of Bakunin's claims about the state. However, the Quadruplex Theory might, in fact, turn out to be no less consistent with Bakunin's claims than the State-Primacy Theory. In addition, the Quadruplex Theory seems no less capable (...) of supporting the anarchist critique of Marxism-Leninism than the State-Primacy Theory. The article concludes by considering two possible refinements that might be made to the Quadruplex Theory. (shrink)
By distinguishing between contributory values and overall value, and by arguing that contributory values are variable values insofar as they contribute diminishing marginal overall value, this article helps to establish the superiority of a certain kind of maximizing, value-pluralist axiology over both sufficientarianism and prioritarianism, as well as over all varieties of value-monism, including utilitarianism and pure egalitarianism.
There has been a process of moral extensionism within environmental ethics from anthropocentrism, through zoocentrism, to ecocentrism. This article maps key elements of that process, and concludes that each of these ethical positions fails as a fully adequate, environmentalist ethic, and does so because of an implicit assumption that is common within normative theory. This notwithstanding, each position may well contribute a value. The problem that then arises is how to trade off those values against each other when they conflict. (...) The solution here proposed is to employ multidimensional isovalue-contours along with a multidimensional practicability-frontier. This would result in a rich, value-pluralist environmentalist ethic that enjoined different outcomes to those enjoined by purely anthropocentric, zoocentric or ecocentric ethics. (shrink)
This article considers several of the most famous arguments for our being under a moral obligation to preserve species, and finds them all wanting. The most promising argument for preserving all varieties of species might seem to be an aesthetic one. Unfortunately, the suggestion that the moral basis for the preservation of species should be construed as similar to the moral basis for the preservation of a work of art seems to presume (what are now widely regarded as) erroneous conceptualizations (...) of "species". The article concludes by arguing that more promising approaches to how "species" ought to be conceptualized suggest that the preservation of species should be construed as of far greater aesthetic importance than is suggested by focusing upon the preservation of any single work of art. Hence, if we have a moral obligation to preserve a single artwork, then we have a far greater moral obligation to preserve species than has often been presumed. (shrink)
abstract First, Allen Buchanan, in the version of his paper entitled 'Philosophy and public policy: a role for social moral epistemology' that he presented at the workshop on 'Philosophy and Public Policy' held at the British Academy in London on March 8 th 2008, seems to imply that professional, academic philosophers have had little impact upon public policy. I mention an area where it can be argued in response that they have had a more benign, as well as a more (...) widespread, influence on society than Buchanan acknowledges in that version of his paper: in legislation concerning animal welfare. Second, I question whether or not the liberal commitment to freedom of religion is compatible with the ethics of belief that Buchanan appears to advocate. (shrink)
Recently in this journal, Michael Huemer has attempted to refute egalitarianism. His strategy consists in: first, distinguishing between three possible worlds (one with an equal distribution of well-being, one with an unequal distribution at every moment but with an equal distribution overall, and one with an unequal distribution at every moment as well as overall); second, showing that the first world is equal in value to the second world; third, dividing the second and third worlds into two temporal segments each, (...) then showing that none of the temporal segments possesses greater moral value than any other, thereby demonstrating that the second and third worlds as a whole are equal in value; and finally, concluding that none of the three worlds has more value than any other. The present article rebuts Huemer’s critique of egalitarianism first, and most importantly, by showing that his core argument rests upon an equivocation, and second, by refuting his supplementary arguments. (shrink)
Three interlocking features appear to underpin Rawlss justification of political compliance within the context of political liberalism: namely, a specific territory; a specific society; and a specific conception of what it is to be reasonable. When any one feature is subject to critical examination, while presupposing that the other two are acceptable, Rawlss argument for political compliance may seem persuasive. But when all three features are critically examined together, his justification of political compliance within political liberalism can be seen to (...) lack cogency. Thus, political compliance fails to be justified by a free-standing political liberalism. Key Words: philosophical anarchism political duties political liberalism political obligation Rawls. (shrink)
As Rawls's thought evolved from his 1958 article Justice as Fairness to the 1996 edition of his book Political Liberalism, his response to the problem of political compliance would seem to have undergone a number of changes. This article critically evaluates the development of Rawls's various explicit or implied arguments that serve to justify compliance to just social arrangements, and concludes that the problem of political compliance remains without any cogent solution within the vast corpus of Rawls's work. Key Words: (...) liberalism philosophical anarchism political duties political obligation Rawls. (shrink)
Genuine altruism would appear to be incompatible with evolutionary theory. And yet altruistic behavior would seem to occur, at least on occasion. This article first considers a game-theoretical attempt at solving this seeming paradox, before considering agroup selectionist approach. Neither approach, as they stand, would seem to render genuine, as opposed to reciprocal, altruism compatible with the theory of evolution. The article concludes by offering an alternative game-theoretical solution to the problem of altruism.
Perhaps the most impressive environmental ethic developed to date in any detail is Robin Attfield's biocentric consequentialism. Indeed, on first study, it appears sufficiently impressive that, before presenting any alternative theoretical approach, one would first need to establish why one should not simply embrace Attfield's. After outlining a seemingly decisive flaw in his theory, and then criticizing his response to it, this article adumbrates a very different theoretical basis for an environmental ethic: namely, a value-pluralist one. In so doing, it (...) seeks to give due weight to anthropocentric, zoocentric, biocentric and ecocentric considerations, and argues that the various values involved require trading off. This can be accomplished by employing multidimensional indifference curves. Moreover, after considering a three-dimensional indifference plane superimposed upon a three-dimensional possibility frontier, it becomes apparent that a moral-pluralist environmental ethic is, contrary to widespread assumptions, capable, in principle at least, of providing determinate answers to moral questions. (shrink)
For two decades, egalitarian analytical philosophers have sought to identify the metric to be employed in order to ascertain whether any distribution is equal or not. This essay provides a review of the seminal contributions to this debate by Amartya Sen, Ronald Dworkin, Richard Arneson and G.A. Cohen.
Holmes Rolston, III has argued that there are times when we should save nature rather than feed people. In arguing thus, Rolston appears tacitly to share a number of assumptions with Garrett Hardin regarding the causes of human overpopulation. Those assumptions are most likely erroneous. Rather than our facing the choice between saving nature or feeding people, we will not save nature unless we feed people.
On the basis of our apparent obligations to future generations, it would seem that we are morally obliged to reduce the risk our environmentally destructive behaviour poses for their well-being. But if, rather than choosing to destroy the environment, we are in fact driven to do so, then any obligation to reduce our environmental impact requires an understanding of the mechanism driving our behaviour. This article argues that the State-Primacy Theory provides a plausible explanation for the nature of that mechanism, (...) and concludes that the most common strategies offered as a response to our environmental impact are most likely to be insufficiently radical to meet our seeming obligations effectively. (shrink)
What might be termed 'the problem of morality' concerns how freedom-restricting principles may be justified, given that we value our freedom. Perhaps an answer can be found in freedom itself. For if the most obvious reason for rejecting moral demands is that they invade one's personal freedom, then the price of freedom from invasive demands that others would otherwise make may well require everyone accepting freedom in general, say, as a value that provides sufficient reason for adhering to principles that (...) serve to maximize, or at least safeguard, freedom in general. But then it is precisely such a value, freedom in general, which can be argued to ground an adequate moral system. Hence whereas the value of freedom appears at first sight to pose problems for moral systems, it can be employed to ground a certain variety of them. (shrink)
It appears to have been established that it is not possible for us to harm distant future generations by failing to adopt long-range welfare policies which would conserve resources or limit pollution. By exploring a number of possible worlds, the present article shows, first, that the argument appears to be at least as telling against Aristotelian, rights-based and Rawlsian approaches as it seems to be against utilitarianism, but second, and most importantly, that it only holds if we fail to view (...) moral agents as individuals. The article also concludes that the argument has profoundly counter-intuitive implications. (shrink)
It has been argued that there is an irreconcilable difference between those advocating animal liberation or animal rights, on the one hand, and those preferring a wider environmental ethic, which includes concern for non-sentient life-forms and species preservation, on the other. In contrast, I argue that it is possible to provide foundations for both seemingly environmentalist positions by exploring some of the potential of a 'collective-projectivist' reading of Hume – one that seems more consistent with Hume's texts than other readings. (...) In short, this article seeks to advance our understanding of some of the possibilities within Humean moral theory, while simultaneously providing new foundations for both animal welfare and a wider environmental ethic. (shrink)
This volume analyzes authoritarian, reformist, Marxist and anarchist approaches to the environmental problem, exposing the relationships between environmental crises, economic structures and the role of the state.
Ascertaining the optimum global population raises not just substantive moral problems but also philosophical ones, too. In particular, serious problems arise for utilitarianism. For example, should one attempt to bring about the greatest total happiness or the highest level of average happiness? This article argues that neither approach on its own provides a satisfactory answer, and nor do rights-based or Rawlsian approaches, either. Instead, what is required is a multidimensional approach to moral questions—one which recognises the plurality of our values. (...) Such an approach can be formalised by employing multidimensional indifference-curves. Moreover, whereas classical utilitarianism might be thought to enjoin us to bring about a larger global population, a multidimensional approach clearly suggests a significant reduction in human numbers. (shrink)