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  1. Christopher Cowley (2014). Moral Responsibility. Routledge.
    How and to what degree are we responsible for our characters, our lives, our misfortunes, our relationships and our children? This question is at the heart of "Moral Responsibility". The book explores accusations and denials of moral responsibility for particular acts, responsibility for character, and the role of luck and fate in ethics. Moral responsibility as the grounds for a retributivist theory of punishment is examined, alongside discussions of forgiveness, parental responsibility, and responsibility before God. The book also discusses collective (...)
     
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  2. Christopher Cowley (2013). Euthanasia in Psychiatry Can Never Be Justified. A Reply to Wijsbek. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 34 (3):227-238.
    In a recent article, Henri Wijsbek discusses the 1991 Chabot “psychiatric euthanasia” case in the Netherlands, and argues that Chabot was justified in helping his patient to die. Dutch legislation at the time permitted physician assisted suicide when the patient’s condition is severe, hopeless, and unbearable. The Dutch Supreme Court agreed with Chabot that the patient met these criteria because of her justified depression, even though she was somatically healthy. Wijsbek argues that in this case, the patient’s integrity had been (...)
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  3. Christopher Cowley (2012). The Ethics of Forgiveness: A Collection of Essays. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (2):289-294.
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Volume 20, Issue 2, Page 289-294, May 2012.
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  4. Christopher Cowley (2011). Expertise, Wisdom and Moral Philosophers: A Response to Gesang. Bioethics 26 (6):337-342.
    In a recent issue of Bioethics, Bernard Gesang asks whether a moral philosopher possesses greater moral expertise than a non-philosopher, and his answer is a qualified yes, based not so much on his infallible access to the truth, but on the quality of his theoretically-informed moral justifications. I reject Gesang's claim that there is such a thing as moral expertise, although the moral philosopher may well make a valid contribution to the ethics committee as a concerned and educated citizen. I (...)
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  5. Christopher Cowley (2011). Understanding Another's Wrongdoing. Philosophy and Literature 35 (1):79-90.
    In Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov is an impoverished university student who commits a brutal double-murder of an old money-lender and her sister, and then for much of the novel manages to evade detection.1 He is racked by guilt and anxiety from the act. Sonia is a young woman who lives with her parents and several siblings. Her father is an alcoholic, unable to hold down a job, and Sonia has therefore become a prostitute to support the family. (...)
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  6. Christopher Cowley (2010). Learning to Love. Philosophical Topics 38 (1):1-15.
    Imagine that you find yourself in a situation of considerable adversity and apparent permanence. Does it make sense for me to advise you to learn to love your situation? I argue that such advice is capable of a robust meaning beyond the mere expression of compassion, and far beyond the pragmatic advice to ‘accept it’ or ‘make the best of it’. I respond to the objections that love cannot be commanded, and that I am counselling pernicious forms of self-deception or (...)
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  7. Christopher Cowley (2010). The Irreducibility of the Personal Perspective in Ethics. A Reply to Baccarini. Etica E Politica 12 (1):377-385.
    Elvio Baccarini has responded generously to my book Medical Ethics: Ordinary Concepts, Ordinary Lives , but I would like to respond to three of his criticisms: first, about the role that theory ought to play in, and in relation to, moral experience; second, about my defence of a doctor’s right to conscientiously object to performing legal abortions; and third, to the reality of posthumous harm. Baccarini claims that I have overstated my claims, and drawn illegitimate metaphysical conclusions from people’s ordinary (...)
     
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  8. Christopher Cowley (2010). Why Genuine Forgiveness Must Be Elective and Unconditional. Ethical Perspectives 17 (4):556.
    Charles Griswold’s 2007 book Forgiveness argues that genuine forgiveness of an unexcused, unjustified and unignored offence must be normgoverned and conditional. In the same way that gift-giving is governed by norms of appropriateness, so too is forgiveness; and the appropriateness of forgiving is centrally dependent on the offender’s repentance. In response, I claim that genuine forgiveness must always be elective and unconditional, and therefore genuinely unpredictable, no matter how much – or how little – the offender repents. I consider and (...)
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  9. Christopher Cowley (2008). Book Reviews. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):347-351.
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  10. Christopher Cowley (2007). Medical Ethics, Ordinary Concepts, and Ordinary Lives. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Mainstream philosophical discussions of ethics usually involve either a search for a problem-solving theory (such as utilitarianism), or an exploration of ontological status (of things like obligations or reasons). This book will argue that such efforts are often misplaced. Instead, the proper starting point should always be the actual words and deeds of ordinary people in ordinary disagreements; for the ethical concepts in play can only derive their full meaning within the context of ordinary human lives. This will require a (...)
     
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  11. Christopher Cowley (2006). A Renewed Objection Of Universalisability. Philosophical Writings 31 (1).
    In 1965 Peter Winch published ‘The Universalisability of Moral Judgements’. I feel that the argument in this paper has never been successfully refuted, and that it remains relevant to many contemporary debates in moral philosophy. Winch argued against the widespread assumption that a moral judgement, if true, ought to be universalisable for all people in relevantly similar situations. He considers the example of Captain Vere in Melville’s ‘Billy Budd’: Vere managed to condemn a man he considered innocent, while Winch concludes (...)
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  12. Christopher Cowley (2006). Suicide is Neither Rational nor Irrational. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (5):495 - 504.
    Richard Brandt, following Hume, famously argued that suicide could be rational. In this he was going against a common ‘absolutist’ view that suicide is irrational almost by definition. Arguments to the effect that suicide is morally permissible or prohibited tend to follow from one’s position on this first issue of rationality. I want to argue that the concept of rationality is not appropriately ascribed – or withheld – to the victim or the act or the desire to commit the act. (...)
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  13. Christopher Cowley (2006). The Role of Perspectives in Ethics. Ethical Perspectives 13 (1):11-30.
    Most modern moral philosophy is what I call ‘Impersonalist.’ It claims, quite plausibly, that the particular identity of the moral agent has nothing to do with the rightness or bestness of a given course of action, with the overriding moral reasons supporting such an action, nor with the moral obligation placed upon the agent to perform it.In addition, the Impersonalist account assumes what I call a Humean model of practical reasoning, whereby perception, deliberation, decision, and action are all logically separate (...)
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  14. Christopher Cowley & Alena Dvorakova (2006). Richard Terdiman, Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 26 (3):225-227.
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  15. Christopher Cowley (2005). A New Defence of Williams's Reasons-Internalism. Philosophical Investigations 28 (4):346–368.
  16. Christopher Cowley (2005). A New Rejection of Moral Expertise. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 8 (3):273-279.
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  17. Christopher Cowley (2005). Changing One's Mind on Moral Matters. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (3):277 - 290.
    Contemporary moral philosophy assumes an account of what it means to legitimately change one’s mind in ethics, and I wish to challenge this account by enlarging the category of the legitimate. I am just as eager to avoid illegitimate mind-changing brought on by deceit or brainwashing, but I claim that legitimacy should be defined in terms of transparency of method. A social reformer should not be embarrassed to admit that he acquired many beliefs about justice while reading Dickens. As such, (...)
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  18. Christopher Cowley (2004). Moral Necessity and the Personal. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):123-138.
    I claim that the dominant moral-realist understanding of action and moral responsibility cannot provide a comprehensive account of morality since it neglects the irreducibly personal component of the individual’s moral experience. This is not to embrace non-cognitivism, however; indeed, I challenge the whole realist framework of most contemporary moral philosophy. To this end I explore the phenomenon of moral necessity, exemplified by Luther’s declaration that he “has to” continue his protests against the church. I am careful to distinguish this kind (...)
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  19. Christopher Cowley (2004). The Diane Pretty Case and the Occasional Impotence of Justification in Ethics. Ethical Perspectives 11 (4):250-258.
    Most discussions in ethics argue that a certain practice or act is morally justified, with any underlying theory taken as supporting a guide to general action by aiding discovery of the objectively and singularly right thing to do. I suggest that this oversimplifies the agent’s own experience of the moral dilemma, and I take the recent English case of Diane Pretty’s request for assisted suicide as an example. Here the law reacted one way, despite the obvious sympathy many felt for (...)
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  20. Christopher Cowley (2003). The Conjoined Twins and the Limits of Rationality in Applied Ethics. Bioethics 17 (1):69–88.
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  21. Christopher Cowley (2001). Moral Dilemmas in Greek Tragedies: A Discussion of Aeschylus's Agamemnon and Sophokles's Antigone. Etica E Politica 3 (1).
    By looking at the situations faced by the protagonists of two classic plays , I try to shed light on what it means to face an insoluble moral dilemma, what it might mean to deal with it, and how the dilemma can reveal certain crucial information about the decision-maker to us readers-spectators, to other characters in the play who witness, or are implicated by, the incident, as well as, and perhaps most importantly, to the protagonist himself. In so doing, I (...)
     
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  22. Christopher Cowley (2000). Forgiving the Unrepentant. Etica E Politica 2 (1).
    Forgiveness is one possible response by a 'victim' to a specific act of wrongdoing, especially when the 'wrongdoer' apologises and invites joint condemnation of the act , perhaps explaining the source of misjudgement or ignorance that brought it about. In this paper, however, I will ask what the victim can do when faced with an unrepentant wrongdoer, perhaps some-one who even refuses to acknowledge that a wrong act was committed or that the victim 'really' suffered . Importantly, I will ask (...)
     
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