I consider backtracking reasoning: that is, reasoning from backtracking counterfactuals such as if Hitler had won the war, he would have invaded Russia six weeks earlier. Backtracking counterfactuals often strike us as true. Despite that, reasoning from them just as often strikes us as illegitimate. A number of diagnoses have been offered of the illegitimacy of such backtracking reasoning which invoke the fixity of the past, or the direction of causation. I argue against such diagnoses, and in favor of one (...) that invokes a principle I call the fixity of reasons. Backtracking reasoning violates the fixity of reasons. But, the fixity of reasons is a principle that must be observed in order to engage in practical reasoning at all. (shrink)
In this original and challenging study, Andre; Gallois proposes and defends a new thesis about the character of our knowledge of our own intentional states. Taking up issues at the centre of attention in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and epistemology, he examines accounts of self-knowledge by such philosophers as Donald Davidson, Tyler Burge and Crispin Wright, and advances his own view that, without relying on observation, we are able justifiably to attribute to ourselves propositional attitudes, such as (...) belief, that we consciously hold. His study will be of wide interest to philosophers concerned with questions about self-knowledge. (shrink)
Occasions of Identity is an exploration of timeless philosophical issues about persistence, change, time, and sameness. AndreGallois offers a critical survey of various rival views about the nature of identity and change, and puts forward his own original theory. He supports the idea of occasional identities, arguing that it is coherent and helpful to suppose that things can be identical at one time but distinct at another. Gallois defends this view, demonstrating how it can solve puzzles (...) about persistence dating back to the Ancient Greeks, and investigates the metaphysical consequences of rejecting the necessity and eternity of identities. (shrink)
In my article "berkeley's master argument" I attempt to show that an argument berkeley uses in the 'dialogues' and 'principles' to support his contention that whatever is perceivable is perceived can be seen as an illuminating attempt to relate conceptualizing, Imaging and perceiving. In consequence it cannot be dismissed as resting on an elementary fallacy, But reflects on the conditions for the self ascription of experience.
Traditionally, this puzzle has been solved in various ways. Aristotle, for example, distinguished between “accidental” and “essential” changes. Accidental changes are ones that don't result in a change in an objects' identity after the change, such as when a house is painted, or one's hair turns gray, etc. Aristotle thought of these as changes in the accidental properties of a thing. Essential changes, by contrast, are those which don't preserve the identity of the object when it changes, such as when (...) a house burns to the ground and becomes ashes, or when someone dies. Armed with these distinctions, Aristotle would then say that, in the case of accidental changes, (1) and (2) are both false—a changing thing can really change one of its “accidental properties” and yet literally remain one and the same thing before and after the change. (shrink)
Can war ever be justified? Why is it wrong to kill? In this new book Richard Norman looks at these and other related questions, and thereby examines the possibility and nature of rational moral argument. Practical examples, such as the Gulf War and the Falklands War, are used to show that, whilst moral philosophy can offer no easy answers, it is a worthwhile enterprise which sheds light on many pressing contemporary problems. A combination of lucid exposition and original argument (...) makes this the ideal introduction to both the particular debate about the ethics of killing and war, and also to the fundamental issues of moral philosophy itself. (shrink)
There are at least three times as many nations as states in the world today. This book addresses some of the special challenges that arise when two or more national communities re the same (multinational) state. As a work in normative political philosophy its principal aim is to evaluate the political and institutional choices of citizens and governments in states with rival nationalist discourses and nation-building projects. The first chapter takes stock of a decade of intense philosophical and sociological debates (...) about the nature of nations and nationalism. Norman identifies points of consensus in these debates, as well as issues that do not have to be definitively resolved in order to proceed with normative theorizing. He recommends thinking of nationalism as a form of discourse, a way of arguing and mobilizing support, and not primarily as a belief in a principle. A liberal nationalist, then, is someone who uses nationalist arguments, or appeals to nationalist sentiments, in order to rally support for liberal policies. The rest of the book is taken up with the three big political and institutional choices in multinational states. First, what can political actors and governments legitimately do to shape citizens' national identity or identities? This is the core question in the ethics of nation-building, or what Norman calls national engineering. Second, how can minority and majority national communities each be given an adequate degree of self-determination, including equal rights to carry out nation-building projects, within a democratic federal state? Finally, even in a world where most national minorities cannot have their own state, how should the constitutions of multinational federations regulate secessionist politics within the rule of law and the ideals of democracy? More than a decade after Yael Tamir's ground-breaking Liberal Nationalism, Norman finds that these three great practical and institutional questions have still rarely been addressed within a comprehensive normative theory of nationalism. (shrink)
The concepts of freedom and equality lie at the heart of much contemporary political debate. But how, exactly, are these concepts to be understood? And do they really represent desirable political values? Norman begins from the premise that freedom and equality are rooted in human experience, and thus have a real and objective content. He then argues that the attempt to clarify these concepts is therefore not just a matter of idle philosophical speculation, but also a matter of practical (...) politics, for the philosophical conclusions we reach also have important implications for the day-to-day world of political action. Touching on the work of such influential thinkers as Mill, Berlin, Hayek, Nozick, Rawls, and Williams, this book serves as a valuable introduction to the central issues in political philosophy. (shrink)
André Gallois’s Occasions of Identity injects a refreshing new perspective into an old debate. Actually, what is new is the advocacy of the perspective: Gallois takes up a view that many consider a non-starter, and shows this reaction to be premature. The debate is over the right way to understand the traditional puzzles involving two things being in the same place at the same time; the perspective is that identity can hold temporarily (and contingently). Suppose an amoeba, name (...) it AMOEBA, divides in two. One of the resultant amoebas, POND, lives in a pond; the other, SLIDE, is examined on a slide in a laboratory. Does AMOEBA survive this process, and if so, does it survive as POND or SLIDE? If we stipulate that POND and SLIDE are symmetrically related to AMOEBA then it seems arbitrary to identify AMOEBA with exactly one of POND and SLIDE. But we cannot identify AMOEBA with each, for then by the transitivity and symmetry of identity we would wrongly identify POND and SLIDE. We are left with the conclusion that AMOEBA is identical to neither. But this seems wrong too; surely fission does not result in death. So just what does happen to AMOEBA? How to respond to this and related cases (involving statues and their constituting hunks of matter, cats and their undetached parts, and so on) has been much discussed.1 There are many proposals, each with distinctive strengths and weaknesses. To these Gallois adds his own, which runs as follows. After division, there are two amoebas, POND and SLIDE, each of which existed before division. But it does not follow that there were two amoebas before division. Though POND and SLIDE are numerically distinct after division, they were numerically identical before division. The identity relation can hold temporarily, or occasionally, as Gallois puts it. My sense is that this sort of claim is regarded by most metaphysicians as downright wacky. And yet there is something very natural about it. Why distinguish POND and SLIDE today because they will differ tomorrow? I suspect the “wackiness” reaction has two sources, one based on Leibniz’s Law.. (shrink)
This article surveys recent work on the idea of "citizenship", not as a legal category, but as a normative ideal of membership and participation. We focus on two emerging issues. First, whereas traditional notions of citizenship assume that membership and participation are promoted by the possession of rights, many theorists now emphasize civic responsibilities. Second, whereas traditional theories assume that citizenship provides a common status and identity, some theorists now argue that the distinctive needs and identities of certain groups -such (...) as women, ethnic minorities, the disabled - can only be accommodated through "group-differentiated citizenship". The writings of neo-conservatives, participatory democrats, civic republicans, feminists, civil society theorists, virtue theorists and cultural pluralists are surveyed. (shrink)
This paper raises a challenge for those who assume that corporate social responsibility and good corporate governance naturally go hand-in-hand. The recent spate of corporate scandals in the United States and elsewhere has dramatized, once again, the severity of the agency problems that may arise between managers and shareholders. These scandals remind us that even if we adopt an extremely narrow concept of managerial responsibility – such that we recognize no social responsibility beyond the obligation to maximize shareholder value – (...) there may still be very serious difficulties associated with the effective institutionalization of this obligation. It also suggests that if we broaden managerial responsibility, in order to include extensive responsibilities to various other stakeholder groups, we may seriously exacerbate these agency problems, making it even more difficult to impose effective discipline upon managers. Hence, our central question: is a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility institutionally feasible? In searching for an answer, we revisit the history of public management, and in particular, the experience of social-democratic governments during the 1960s and 1970s, and their attempts to impose social responsibility upon the managers of nationalized industries. The results of this inquiry are less than encouraging for proponents of corporate social responsibility. In fact, the history of public-sector management presents a number of stark warnings, which we would do well to heed if we wish to reconcile robust social responsibility with effective corporate governance. (shrink)
This paper looks at conflicts of interest in the not-for-profit sector. It examines the nature of conflicts of interest and why they are of ethical concern, and then focuses on the way not-for-profit organisations are especially prone to and vulnerable to conflict-of-interest scandals. Conflicts of interest corrode trust; and stakeholder trust (particularly from donors) is the lifeblood of most charities. We focus on some specific challenges faced by charitable organisations providing funding for scientific (usually medical) research, and examine a case (...) study involving such an organisation. One of the principal problems for charities of this kind is that they often distribute their funds within a relatively small research community (defined by the boundaries of a small region, like an American state or Spanish Autonomous region, or a small country), and it often proves difficult to find high-level researchers within the jurisdiction to adjudicate impartially the research grants. We suggest and recommend options appropriate for our case study and for many other organisations in similar situations. (shrink)
Business Ethics and medical ethics are in principle compatible: In particular, the tools of business ethics can be useful to those doing healthcare ethics. Health care could be conducted as a business and maintain its moral core.
: New genetic technologies continue to emerge that allow us to control the genetic endowment of future children. Increasingly the claim is made that it is morally "irresponsible" for parents to fail to use such technologies when they know their possible children are at risk for a serious genetic disorder. We believe such charges are often unwarranted. Our goal in this article is to offer a careful conceptual analysis of the language of irresponsibility in an effort to encourage more care (...) in its use. Two of our more important sub-claims are: (1) A fair judgment of genetic irresponsibility necessarily requires a thick background description of the specific reproductive choice; and (2) there is no necessary connection between an act's being morally wrong and its being irresponsible. These are distinct judgments requiring distinct justifications. (shrink)
HOWARD POOLE ARGUES THAT "THERE IS A RATIONAL NECESSITY LINKING NEGATIVE ATTITUDES TO PORNOGRAPHY WITH A READINESS TO IMPOSE CENSORSHIP." HIS ARGUMENT HAS THREE PREMISES: FIRST, THAT TO CALL SOMETHING OBSCENE IS TO EXPRESS STRONG BUT OFTEN NONMORAL DISAPPROVAL; SECOND, THAT THIS STRONG DISAPPROVAL COMMITS ONE TO SEEK LEGISLATION KEEPING THE MATERIAL FROM CHILDREN; THIRD, THAT SUCH LEGISLATION IS A FORM OF CENSORSHIP. I QUESTION EACH PREMISE.