The status quo on parental licensing in most Western jurisdictions is that licensing is required in the case of adoption but not in the case of assisted or unassisted biological reproduction. To have a child via adoption, one must fulfill licensing requirements, which, beyond the usual home study, can include mandatory participation in parenting classes. One is exempt from these requirements, however, if one has a child via biological reproduction, including assisted reproduction involving donor gametes or a contract pregnancy. In (...) an earlier paper, we challenged this system of parental licensing by showing that arguments in favour of it do not succeed. One argument we failed to consider, however, is that prospective biological parents have a right to reproduce that protects them against the sort of state interference that is involved in parental licensing. According to this argument, because prospective adoptive parents do not exercise a similar right when attempting to become parents, they are not similarly protected. In this paper, we argue that this reproductive rights argument, like other arguments in favour of the status quo on parental licensing, is flawed. We also question whether people in fact have a right to reproduce, and in doing so distinguish this right from others that we think are legitimate, including a right to become a parent and a right to bodily autonomy. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to argue that the principled approach to hearsay is consistent with the rule of law. I begin by contrasting an instrumental conception of the rule of law with a conception that views the rule of law in primarily normative terms. I then turn my attention to a recent criticism of the Supreme Court of Canada’s principled approach to hearsay and suggest that if Michael Oakeshott’s normative interpretation of the rule of law is adopted, there (...) is no tension between the principled approach to hearsay and the rule of law. (shrink)
The process of adopting a child is “not for the faint of heart.” This is what we were told the first time we, as a couple, began this process. Part of the challenge lies in fulfilling the licensing requirements for adoption, which, beyond the usual home study, can include mandatory participation in parenting classes. The question naturally arises for many people who are subjected to these requirements whether they are morally justified. We tackle this question in this paper. In our (...) view, while strong reasons exist in favour of licensing adoptive parents, these reasons support the licensing not only of adoptive parents, but of all or some subset of so-called “natural” parents as well. We therefore conclude that the status quo with respect to parental licensing, according to which only adoptive parents need to be licensed, is morally unjustified. (shrink)
In broad outline, the chapter proceeds as follows. As indicated above, the Voluntary Act Principle has two components. The first part, the act component, claims that criminal liability can be imposed on an accused only for the performance of an act. The second part, the voluntariness component, claims that criminal liability can be imposed on an accused only for the voluntary performance of an act. I will argue that both components of the Voluntary Act Principle are in need of amendment. (...) I will first indicate why I think the act component of the Voluntary Act Principle is in tension with the criminal law’s own conception of the necessary conditions for criminal liability, and suggest a relatively simple fix. I will then argue that what is really at work in the voluntariness component of the Voluntary Act Principle is not so much voluntariness but rather what some authors have called the practical agency condition. In making my argument I will appeal to Harry Frankfurt’s hierarchical account of the will in the hopes of illuminating what it means for an action to belong to an agent, and thus, what it means for an agent to be responsible for something she has done. (shrink)
This paper is about the remedy of disgorgement for breach of contract. In it I argue for two conclusions. I first argue that, prima facie at least, disgorgement damages for breach of contract present something of a puzzle. But second, I argue that if we pay close attention to the notion of contractual performance, this puzzle can be resolved in a way that is consistent with principles of corrective justice. In particular, I suggest that even if a contract gives the (...) promisee a right to only the promisor's performance of the contract, such a right can sometimes entail the acquisition by the promisee of certain rights of ownership. And in situations in which such rights are acquired, the disappointed promisee is entitled to the gains realized by the promisor in breach of contract by reason of the fact that such gains are something to which the promisee has an antecedent right. (shrink)
This article concerns the problem of factual uncertainty in negligence law. We argue that negligence law’s insistence that fair terms of interaction be maintained between individuals—a requirement that typically manifests itself in the need for the plaintiff to prove factual or “but-for” causation—sometimes allows for the imposition of liability in the absence of such proof. In particular, we argue that the but-for requirement can be abandoned in certain situations where multiple defendants have imposed the same unreasonable risk on a plaintiff, (...) where the plaintiff suffers the very sort of harm that rendered the risk unreasonable, and where the plaintiff cannot prove which of the defendants was the but-for cause of her loss. This approach provides one way to understand the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Resurfice Corp. v. Hanke. We find support for our approach in various concepts that underlie negligence liability quite generally. These underlying concepts are normative in nature, and manifest core notions of justice and fairness. We argue that approaches to the problem of factual uncertainty that appeal to such normative principles to make sense of atypical cases of causation are in no way inconsistent with the nature and structure of negligence law. Rather, the opposite is true: in taking negligence law seriously as law, such approaches are instead reflective and supportive of it. (shrink)
This article is about the distinction between justification and excuse, a distinction which, while familiar, remains controversial. My discussion focuses on three questions. First, what is the distinction? Second, why is it important? And third, what are some areas of inquiry in which the distinction might be philosophically fruitful? I suggest that the distinction has practical and theoretical consequences, and is therefore worth taking seriously; I highlight two philosophical issues in which the distinction might play a useful role; but I (...) express skepticism about the prospects for drawing a firm distinction between justification and excuse. (shrink)
According to a familiar and influential view, rights are not absolute. To the contrary, they can sometimes be permissibly interfered with. I find such a view of rights attractive. John Oberdiek thinks otherwise. In a recent paper in this journal, Oberdiek has argued that any account of rights that incorporates a distinction between infringing and violating a right is indefensible. My aim in this paper is to argue that Oberdiek's worries are misplaced. The paper proceeds as follows. After some terminological (...) stage-setting I present a familiar puzzle about rights and compensation and argue that the proper response to the puzzle is to distinguish between various ways in which rights can be interfered with. I then turn to a discussion of the general theoretical picture on which this account of rights rests, and I present some reasons for thinking that Oberdiek's criticisms of that picture are not successful. My conclusion is that the distinction between infringing and violating a right is a plausible one, and that an account of rights that rests on it is not for that reason problematic. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to argue that justification should not be conceived of in purely objective terms. In arguing for that conclusion I focus in particular on Paul Robinson’s presentation of that position, since it is the most sophisticated defense of the objective account of justification in the literature. My main point will be that the distinction drawn by robinson between objective and subjective accounts of justification is problematic, and that careful attention to the role played by reasonableness (...) in subjectivist accounts of justification reveals that the apparent puzzles Robinson raises for subjectivism are merely apparent. I will suggest that we ought to be reasonable subjectivists about justification, where “reasonableness” is understood in a particular manner. This has consequences for various other issues, including how we make sense of mistaken justification, and I will have something to say about those issues as they arise along the way. (shrink)
We discuss two kinds of quotation, namely indirect quotation (e.g., 'Anita said that Mexico is beautiful') and pure quotation (e.g., 'Mexico' has six letters). With respect to each, we have both a negative and a positive plaint. The negative plaint is that the strict Davidsonian (1968, 1979a) treatment of indirect and pure quotation cannot be correct. The positive plaint is an alternative account of how quotation of these two sorts works.
Byrne & Hilbert (B&H) argue that colors are reflectance properties of objects. They also claim that a necessary condition for something's being a color is that it causally explain – or be causally implicated in the explanation of – our perceptions of color. I argue that these two positions are in conflict.
Many contemporary philosophers of mind are concerned to defend a thesis called a posteriori physicalism. This thesis has two parts, one metaphysical, and the other epistemological. The metaphysical part of the thesis—the physicalist part—is the claim that the psychological nature of the actual world is wholly physical. The epistemological part of the thesis—the a posteriori part—is the claim that no a priori connection holds between psychological nature and physical nature. Despite its attractiveness, however, a familiar argument alleges that a posteriori (...) physicalism cannot be true. This argument is sometimes called the Property Dualism Argument Against Physicalism. In this paper, I consider Stephen White’s version of the Property Dualism Argument and argue that it fails. I distinguish two ways in which the argument’s crucial notion might be understood, and I argue that on neither way of understanding it is the Property Dualism Argument compelling. (shrink)
Neil Campbell has argued that certain problems with the doctrine of psycho-physical supervenience can be overcome if supervenience is viewed as a relation between predicates rather than as a relation between properties. Campbell suggests that, when properly understood, this predicate version of supervenience "expresses a form of psycho-physical dependence that might be useful to those who wish to argue for a supervenience-based physicalism”. In this note I indicate why I think we ought to resist this suggestion. First, I argue quite (...) generally that any appeal to a distinction between predicates and properties is irrelevant to issues concerning physicalism and supervenience. And, second, I argue that Campbell's own predicate version of supervenience fails to capture a notion of dependence that physicalists are likely to find useful. I conclude that viewing supervenience as a relation between predicates does not help in articulating a more plausible version of physicalism. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that certain so-called conceivability arguments fail to show that a currently popular version of physicalism in the philosophy of mind is false. Concentrating on an argument due to David Chalmers, I first argue that Chalmers misrepresents the relation between conceivability and possibility. I then argue that the intuition behind the conceivability of so-called zombie worlds can be accounted for without having to suppose that such worlds are genuinely conceivable. I conclude with some general remarks about (...) the nature of conceivability. (shrink)
DH Mellor has argued that there can be no negative, disjunctive, or conjunctive properties. This argument has been criticized by Alex Oliver on the grounds that it rests on a contentious identity criterion for facts, but it seems to me that a simpler criticism is available. According to this criticism, the problem with Mellor's argument is that it trades on an ambiguity in the semantics of the phrase "the fact that", according to which "the fact that" can be understood as (...) creating either an intensional or an extensional context. (shrink)