Frankfurt cases are purported counterexamples to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, which implies that we are not morally responsible for unavoidable actions. A major permutation of the counterexample strategy features buffered alternatives; this permutation is designed to overcome an influential defense of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities. Here we defend the buffering strategy against two recent objections, both of which stress the timing of an agent’s decision. We argue that attributions of moral responsibility aren’t time-sensitive in the way the objectors (...) suppose. We then turn to the crucial question of when an action is relevantly avoidable—when, in the parlance of the literature, an alternative possibility is robust. We call attention to two plausible tests for robustness that merit further consideration, showing that the agents in buffered Frankfurt cases don’t pass these tests, despite being morally responsible for their actions. (shrink)
Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Practices: Process and Criteria for Evaluating Adaptations of Norms and Standards in Health Care Institutions Content Type Journal Article Pages 327-339 DOI 10.1007/s10730-009-9115-8 Authors Matthew R. Hunt, McMaster University Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Montreal Canada Journal HEC Forum Online ISSN 1572-8498 Print ISSN 0956-2737 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 4.
Victorian physics meets industrial capitalism Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-6 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9554-0 Authors Bruce J. Hunt, History Department, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station B7000, Austin, TX 78712-0220, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The Tractatus de Anima of John Blund was a discovery of Father Daniel Callus, but he did not live to complete the edition. The treatise was written c. 1200, and is the earliest known philosophical work by an Oxford Master. It grafts the new learning derived from Avicenna and Aristotle onto older stocks. Its great interest is that it enables us to study the way in which the first generation of scholars used the translations of Greek and Arabic philosophical and (...) scientific texts which had just become available in Western Europe. The edition was completed by Dr R. W. Hunt, Keeper of Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. (shrink)
Lester Hunt reviews Tara Smith's Viable Values: A Study of the Root and Reward of Morality. He finds it an excellent contribution to the ongoing discussion of Objectivist ethics. Especially noteworthy, he says, are Smith's treatment of the concept of intrinsic value, her use of the concept of flourishing, and her treatment of the relations between the interests of different people. Though the book provides no sustained discussion of casuistical applications, epistemological assumptions, or potentially interesting side-issues, it raises many (...) provocative questions that will fuel further debate. (shrink)
Lester Hunt argues that, despite its being too narrow in the topics it treats, Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi's What Art Is offers a fascinating account of Ayn Rand's views on art and, in addition, constitutes a major contribution to Objectivist aesthetics.
This book examines major ethical issues in nursing practice. Eschewing the abstract approaches of bioethics and medical ethics, it takes as its point of departure the difficulties nurses experience practicing within the confines of a bioethical model of health and illness and a hierarchical, technocratic health care system. The book's contributors discuss the role of the nurse in relation to issues of informed consent, privacy, dignity and confidentiality. The book also considers nursing accountability in relation to the contemporary Western health (...) care system as a whole. New and critical essays examine the nature of professional codes, care, medical judgement, nursing research and the law. The contributors also deal openly and honestly with controversial issues faced by nurses such as euthanasia, the epidemiology of HIV and the care of the elderly. (shrink)
Gerald Cohen's critique of John Rawls's theory of justice is that it is concerned only with the justice of social institutions, and must thus arbitrarily draw a line between those inequalities excluded and those allowed by the basic structure. Cohen claims that a proper concern with the interests of the least advantaged would rule out 'incentives' for 'talented' individuals. I argue that Rawls's assumption that the subject of justice is the basic structure of society does not arbitrarily restrict the concerns (...) of political justice, as Cohen claims. Further, I argue that it does not allow 'deep' inequalities within a just basic structure. When properly understood, Rawls's theory of justice is strongly egalitarian, taken as a theory of fairness in the way the burdens and benefits of social cooperation are distributed, even if it is not as egalitarian as Cohen wishes. (shrink)
The principle of alternate possibilities (PAP), making the ability to do otherwise a necessary condition for moral responsibility, is supposed by Harry Frankfurt, John Fischer, and others to succumb to a peculiar kind of counterexample. The paper reviews the main problems with the counterexample that have surfaced over the years, and shows how most can be addressed within the terms of the current debate. But one problem seems ineliminable: because Frankfurt''s example relies on a counterfactual intervener to preclude alternatives to (...) the person''s action, it is not possible for it to preclude all alternatives (intervention that is contingent upon a trigger cannot bring it about that the trigger never occurred). This makes it possible for the determined PAPist to maintain that some pre-intervention deviation is always available to ground moral responsibility.In reply, the critic of PAP can examine all the candidate deviations and argue their irrelevance to moral responsibility (a daunting prospect); or the critic can dispense with counterfactual intervention altogether. The paper pursues the second of these strategies, developing three examples of noncounterfactual intervention in which (i) the agent has no alternatives (and a fortiori no morally relevant alternatives), yet (ii) there is just as much reason to think that the agent is morally responsible as there was in Frankfurt''s original example. The new counterexamples do suffer from one liability, but this is insufficient in the end to repair PAP''s conceptual connection between moral responsibility and alternate possibilities. (shrink)
The concept of approximate truth plays a prominent role in most versions of scientific realism. However, adequately conceptualizing ?approximate truth? has proved challenging. This article argues that the goal of articulating the concept of approximate truth can be advanced by first investigating the processes by which science accords theories the status of accepted or rejected. Accordingly, this article uses a path diagram model as a visual heuristic for the purpose of showing the processes in science that are involved in determining (...) a theory's status. This ?inductive realist? model of theory status then serves as a starting point for explicating an inductive realist view of approximate truth that, it is argued, can explain instances of the success of science, but does not (1) require science's theories to be strictly true in any world or (2) require a metric for measuring how close an approximately true theory is to some strictly true theory. To show the advantages of the inductive realist approach to approximate truth, an example of a major success story of science, the successful eradication of smallpox, is reviewed and then explained. (shrink)
The most serious challenge to Frankfurt-type counterexamples to the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) comes in the form of a dilemma: either the counterexample presupposes determinism, in which case it begs the question; or it does not presuppose determinism, in which case it fails to deliver on its promise to eliminate all alternatives that might plausibly be thought to satisfy PAP. I respond to this challenge with a counterexample in which considering an alternative course of action is a necessary condition (...) for deciding to act otherwise, and the agent does not in fact consider the alternative. I call this a “buffer case,” because the morally relevant alternative is “buffered” by the requirement that the agent first consider the alternative. Suppose further that the agent’s considering an alternative action—entering the buffer zone—is what would trigger the counterfactual intervener. Then it would appear that PAP-relevant alternatives are out of reach. I defend this counterexample to PAP against three objections: that considering an alternative is itself a morally relevant alternative; that buffer cases can be shown to contain other alternatives that arguably satisfy PAP; and that even if the agent’s present access to PAP-relevant alternatives were eliminated, PAP could still be satisfied in virtue of earlier alternatives. I conclude that alternative possibilities are a normal symptom, but not an essential constituent, of moral agency. (shrink)
In a number of earlier papers I have attempted to defend the providential utility of simple foreknowledge as a via media between the accounts of divine providence offered by Molinists, on the one hand, and ‘open theists’, on the other. In the current issue of this journal, Michael Robinson argues that my response to one of the standard difficulties for simple foreknowledge – that its providential employment would generate explanatory loops – is inadequate. In the following paper I answer Robinson's (...) charge. (shrink)
Teaching ethics poses a dilemma for professors of business. First, they have little or no formal training in ethics. Second, they have established ethical values that they may not want to impose upon their students. What is needed is a well-recognized, yet non-sectarian model to facilitate the clarification of ethical questions. Gestalt theory offers such a framework. Four Gestalt principles facilitate ethical clarification and another four Gestalt principles anesthetize ethical clarification. This article examines each principle, illustrates that principle through current (...) business examples, and offers exercises for developing each principle. (shrink)
What I would like to try to show here, to the extent that I can do so briefly, is that Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternal recurrence of the same things is - whatever else it might be in addition to this - an ethical idea. Considering it as such, I will argue, promises to shed light both on the content of Nietzsche's ethics and on the idea of recurrence.
Kenneth Goodpaster has criticized ethicists like Feinberg and Frankena for too narrowly circumscribing the range of moral considerability, urging instead that “nothing short of the condition of being alive” is a satisfactory criterion. Goodpaster overlooks at least one crucial objection: that his own “condition of being alive” may aIso be too narrow a criterion of moral considerability, since “being in existence” is at least as plausible and nonarbitrary a criterion as is Goodpaster’s. I show that each of the arguments that (...) Goodpaster musters in support of his criterion can be used equally weIl to bolster “being in existence” as a test of moral considerability. Moreover, I argue that “being in existence” appears to be a stronger criterion overall, since it is broader. Until or unless a fuller justification is forthcoming of “being alive” as a satisfactory criterion of moral considerability-a justification which must demonstrate that “mere things,” included under the condition of “being in existence,” do not deserve moral consideration--Goodpaster’sthesis is confronted with a serious problem. (shrink)
The authors empirically examine the nature and extent of ethical problems confronting senior level AICPA members (CPAs) and examine the effectiveness of partner actions and codes of ethics in reducing ethical problems. The results indicate that the most difficult ethical problems (frequency reported) were: client requests to alter tax returns and commit tax fraud, conflict of interest and independence, client requests to alter financial statements, personal-professional problems, and fee problems. Analysis of attitudes toward ethics in the accounting profession indicated that (...) (1) CPAs perceive that opportunities exist in the accounting profession to engage in unethical behavior, (2) CPAs, in general, do not believe that unethical behavior leads to success, and (3) when top management (partners) reprimand unethical behavior, the ethical problems perceived by CPAs seem to be reduced. (shrink)
Bans on guns are typically considered a "liberal" policy, if only because those who support them generally consider themselves to be politically liberal in some sense or other.(1) We will argue, however, that broad bans on firearms are in fact not liberal policies at all. The policy of a state that disarms its citizenry conflicts with more than one of the fundamental principles of liberalism.
Ian Carter argues against what he calls the ?specific freedom thesis?, which claims that in asking whether our society or any individual is free, all we need or can intelligibly concern ourselves with is their freedom to do this or that specific thing. Carter claims that issues of overall freedom are politically and morally important and that, in valuing freedom as such, liberals should be committed to a measure of freedom overall. This paper argues against Carter?s further claim that rejection (...) of the specific freedom thesis requires rejection of morally based determinations of degrees of overall freedom. Using a concept of freedom as a capacity to pursue one?s interests, it is argued that the value of freedom overall is not reducible to the value of specific freedoms, and that conditions of action can be determined as constraints only within the context of their impact on freedom overall. Taking the case of coercive proposals, it is argued that we must evaluate the morality of the circumstances in which conditional proposals are made if we are to weigh the opportunities and constraints contained in the proposal to determine whether its recipient suffers a loss of overall freedom. We must therefore appeal to values other than that of liberty itself to determine degrees of liberty overall, which we require in turn to determine whether threats or offers are coercive. (shrink)
In Poetic Justice Martha Nussbaum undertakes to explain how “story-telling and literary imagining” can supply “essential ingredients in a rational argument” and thereby improve public discourse regarding important ethical, political, and legal issues.
This paper assesses Brian Barry's attempt in Why Social Justice Matters to argue the importance of social justice. Barry seeks to dismiss the ideological misunderstandings that have prevented recognition of the importance of social justice. He also suggests that a robust conception of social justice will be needed to guide policies that solve the problems of the modern world. I argue that the issue of social justice has suffered neglect because of the influence of different ideas of social justice than (...) Barry's rather than a misunderstanding among politicians and media pundits of generally shared intuitions of justice. These different ideas of justice must be shown to be wanting. In doing this, I argue that any adequate theory of social justice must address the issue of the fairness of starting points in peoples' lives. I point out that any such theory requires such revolutionary change that it contradicts the presuppositions of public policy and thus cannot serve to guide public policy solutions to the problems that Barry wants addressed. I argue that a 'non-ideal' theory of justice and principles for making unjust societies fairer, with more modest proposals for change, will better serve as a guide to public policy. (shrink)
How should we deal with apparent causation involving events that have not happened when omissions are cited as causes or when something is said to prevent some event? Phil Dowe claims that causal statements about preventions and omissions are ‘quasi-causal' claims about what would have been a cause, if the omitted event had happened or been caused if the prevention had not occurred. However, one important theory of the logic of causal statements – Donald Davidson's – allows us to take (...) causal statements about omissions and preventions as direct causal statements about events that are counterfactually described. This analysis provides a basis for solving a number of puzzles about ‘negative' events. Any ‘intuition' of difference between causal statements employing such descriptions and others employing positive descriptions of events is also explained. With omissions, where this intuition has some basis, it is shown that nevertheless omissions do really cause outcomes. (shrink)
. HIV/AIDS has changed from a disease of white gay men in the United States to a pandemic that largely involves women and dependent children in developing countries. Many theologies of disease are necessary to cope with the variety of expressions of this pandemic. Christian theoethical reflection on HIV/AIDS has been largely focused on sexual ethics, with uneven and mainly unhelpful results. Among the ethical issues that shape future useful conversations are globalized economics and resource sharing, the morality and economics (...) of the pharmaceutical industry, and the need for sex education and access to reproductive choice. Considering such issues in international, interreligious, multiscientific contexts is a concrete next step for the religion-and-science dialogue. It will put the powerful tools of both fields to the service of the common good. (shrink)
Book Information Hegel's Idea of Freedom. Hegel's Idea of Freedom Alan Patten Oxford University Press 1999 xiii + 216 Hardback £30 By Alan Patten. Oxford University Press. Pp. xiii + 216. Hardback:£30.
Although previous ethical analyses of management buyouts have presented useful insights, they have been flawed in three major ways. First, they define the transaction too narrowly, emphasizing the going private aspect and ignoring the leveraged aspect. Leveraging alters the nature of the transaction substantially and warrants additional ethical analysis. Second, these previous analyses ignore the impact of buyouts on non-stockholder constituents of the firm, an omission which renders their implicit utilitarian approach incomplete. Third, these analyses do not include Rawlsian, libertarian, (...) or Kantian perspectives on ethics. This paper addresses these shortcomings and finds the ethical status of leveraged management buyouts to be highly suspect. (shrink)
Open theists deny that God knows future contingents. Most open theists justify this denial by adopting the position that there are no future contingent truths to be known. In this paper we examine some of the arguments put forward for this position in two recent articles in this journal, one by Dale Tuggy and one by Alan Rhoda, Gregory Boyd, and Thomas Belt. The arguments concern time, modality, and the semantics of ‘will’ statements. We explain why we find none of (...) these arguments persuasive. This wide road leads only to destruction. (shrink)
Can mystics intuit something of what modern physicists calculate? And if so, how? The question of the relation between the classical mysticisms and modern science is approached in Part I in terms of the multiple forms and definitions of 'truth value'. Intuition/epiphany, pragmatism, coherence, and correspondence are considered as forms of truth that have also been proposed for unitive mystical experience. Since 'correspondence' or 'representation' has been the definition at the core of modern science, it in particular is approached by (...) combining Lakoff and Johnson on the roots of all abstract knowledge in physical metaphor and Gibson on the ecological array of perception as the template from which such metaphors must be drawn. A series of similarities between the maximally inclusive metaphors underlying unitive mystical experience and cosmological physics, as abstracted from an ecological array already resonant with multiple levels of physical reality, suggests a basis for the correspondence between these otherwise distinct cognitive domains. Part II extends this approach to widely posited cross cultural values of spiritual or mystical realization, in terms of gratitude, compassion, faith, and inner freedom. When fully embodied as forms of personal conduct, these are also ultimately derivable from the openness and flow patternings of the ecological array itself. The possibility that the more abstract spiritual values of the major world mysticisms exemplify not only revelatory and pragmatic forms of truth, but are also broadly correspondent with both the principles of immediate concrete perception and modern physics, may eventually allow a contemporary re- formulation of the microcosm-macrocosm unities basic to traditional cultures. (shrink)
Martin Luther King, Jr drew upon his early grounding in family and church to forge a praxis of egalitarian justice in the rigidly segregated American South of his youth. King?s ethical outlook was eclectic, reflecting the influence of such figures as Mays, Davis, Rauschenbusch, Niebuhr, Thurman and Gandhi, alongside such doctrines as personalism and liberalism, nationalism and realism. Yet King?s subsequent academic study more nearly enhanced than restructured his early, formative exposure to black church and community. King became committed to (...) nonviolence, not as passive resistance, but as an active, aggressive, individual and self?improving solution to problems of gross injustice in society. Nonviolence for King was not an end, but a means, to the achievement of what he called ?Beloved Community? (shrink)
This article explores whether theory-ladenness makes empirical testing an inse cure foundation for objectivity. Specifically, this article uses path diagrams as visual heuristics to assist in (1) developing a parsimonious representation of the traditional empiricist view of empirical testing, (2) showing how the "New Image" view ostensibly threatens the objectivity of science, (3) proposing a unified, realist theory of empirical testing, (4) developing a representation of the unified theory, (5) exploring several potential threats to objectivity, (6) discussing the proposed theory's (...) implications for social science, and (7) adumbrating three foundational premises for scientific realism. (shrink)