One of the explanations frequently offered for current social problems is the breakdown of the family as an institution and the decline of values such as trust and responsibility that were until recently associated with it. While the philosophical position of many commentators in this area is rooted in a broadly utilitarian social philosophy, there is a case for an alternative?i.e. non-utilitarian?philosophical point of view. The essential requirement for such an alternative approach is that it accords a place to certain (...) moral absolutes: promises, principles, obligations, and the rights accruing to others as a result of those obligations. Currently procreation, marriage, and family life are being subjected to unprecedented shifts in both meaning and practice, and this is a situation in which a Kantian approach, especially the Kantian dictum that persons should not be treated solely as means to other people's ends, can find new contemporary applications. An unqualified utilitarian spirit has led us into a world where parenthood and child-raising have been split from each other and where money changes hands for the elements of child-making and for the labour of gestation. The pressure for the new constructivist consensus is strong, but so is the case against a trivial or unnecessary extension of choice in procreation and against the increasing commercialisation of human conception. In these circumstances, Kantian ethics has a distinctive role to play in assessing the values at issue in today's ?new families? debate. (shrink)
Brenda Almond throws down a timely challenge to liberal consensus about personal relationships. She maintains that the traditional family is fragmenting in Western societies, and that this fragmentation is a cause of serious social problems. She urges that we reconsider our attitudes to sex and reproduction in order to strengthen our most important social institution, the family, which is the key to ensuring healthy relationships between parents and children and a secure upbringing for the citizens of the future. -/- Anyone (...) who is concerned about how the framework of society is changing, anyone who has to face difficult personal decisions about parenthood or family relationships, will find this book compelling. It may disturb deep convictions, or offer an unwelcome message; but it is compassionate as well as controversial. (shrink)
First, two aspects of the partiality issue are identified: (1) Is it right/reasonable for professionals to favour their clients interests over either those of other individuals or those of society in general? (2) Are special non-universalisable obligations attached to certain professional roles?Second, some comments are made on the notions of partiality and reasonableness. On partiality, the assumption that only two positions are possible – a detached universalism or a partialist egoism – is challenged and it is suggested that partiality, e.g. (...) to family members, lies between these two positions, being neither a form of egoism, nor of impersonal detachment. On reasonableness, it is pointed out that reasonable is an ambiguous concept, eliding the notions of the morally right and the rational. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1 Free to Choose -- 2 Born Selfish? -- 3 Pursuing Happiness -- 4 Relativist Mutations -- 5 The Resort to Rights -- 6 Principles and Intuitions -- 7 Virtue and Context -- 8 Personal Connections -- 9 Matters of Life and Death -- 10 Equality and Diversity -- 11 Freedom, Justice and Conflict -- 12 Temperance, Harmony and Environment -- Postscript: The Traveller's Return -- Key to the Characters -- Reading Guides and Bibliographies -- Index.
In What's the Matter with Liberalism? Ronald Beiner diagnoses the ills of liberalism along the three broad fronts where it is now widely challenged: its pretensions to moral neutrality; its lack of cultural standards; and its inability to deal with crime, unemployment, family breakdown, homeless?ness, rampant consumerism, and global environmental and economic problems. But even in its minimalist classical formulation, liberalism entails a substantive moral position, and is committed to resisting the violations of rights that lead to the crises (...) with which Beiner is concerned. (shrink)