In this paper, I examine the difference between decision-making by soldiers and commanders, compared with leaders of the nation. Decision-makingin the armed forces is prudential reasoning concerned with the best means to achieve given military objectives. I argue that those in the military cannot rationally make the moral choice to risk the lives of their own soldiers or jeopardize their mission in order to protect the lives of enemy civilians. This does not vindicate the realists who deny that morality applies (...) to war. Moral constraints set out in war conventions foster the illusion that by following rules of war, soldiers and their leaders have done all anyone needs to do in terms of moral choice concerning war. Political leaders should instead engage in moral reasoning by considering other means besides war, even the option of changing objectives. Such reasoning differs from prudential reasoning not in scope but in type. (shrink)
There are two contrasting paradigms for dealing with terrorists: war and law enforcement. In this paper, I first discuss how the just war theory assesses the military response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. I argue that the ethical problems with the U.S. attack on Afghanistan in response to 9/11 concern principles of jus ad bellum besides just cause. I show that the principles of right intention, last resort, proportionality and likelihood of success were violated. Furthermore, both (...) jus in bello principles of proportionality and discrimination were not satisfied in targeting terrorists in places where civilians not linked to them live. The law enforcement that takes place in liberal democracies is fully respectful and protective of innocent lives. Crime is dealt with by apprehending lawbreakers and putting them on trial if possible, and by keeping criminal elements on the loose away from potential victims. Good law enforcement also includes acting to remove causes of crime. I examine how this model applies to the problem of terrorism and address objections concerning the impossibility ofeliminating terrorism, the slowness of success, and the possibility that there are “nut cases” who hate America no matter what. (shrink)
This article employs a sociological analysis of the changing role and mission of higher education from that of a ?public good? to that of a service industry. In this regard, the rise of modern universities as corporate enterprises in the recent decades has often neglected the important dimension of education as a process of enlightenment, with its ethical and moral dimensions. The author tries to put into perspective the relevance of searching for an ?ethical university? by proposing to integrate the (...) important notion of Enlightenment as formulated by Kant, Newman's idea of the university and other similar western ideals, with the eastern ideas of the Confucian Classic The Great Learning, in order to suggest how the quest for an ?ethical university? might materialize in the future. (shrink)
Philosophical problems with the concept of wronging someone in bringing the person into existence, especially the non-identity problem, have been much discussed in connection with forms of assisted reproduction that carry risks of harms either greater than or not otherwise present in natural reproduction. In this essay, I discuss the meaning of claims of wrongful life, distinguishing them from claims of wrongful disability. Attempts to conceptualize wrongful disability in terms of either the harmed existence of the offspring, or the possibility (...) of less harmful alternatives, are found unsatisfactory. A contractualist approach that provides an account of wronging that is independent of harming is considered. Finally, I present a new approach that necessitates an account of reasons for procreation that could justify harm to the offspring. These reasons are not the kind that require or prohibit actions of certain types, but refl ect what theagent sees as intrinsically valuable in acting. (shrink)
What do philosophers have to say about war beyond appeal to the just war doctrine? I suggest that they should concern themselves with the harmful consequences of war for the people who experience it. The ancient Greek tragedian Euripides was a moral philosopher of his time who wrote the plays Hecuba and The Trojan Women from the perspective of the losers in the Trojan War. There are striking parallels to the U.S. war in Iraq that began in 2003. Lessons that (...) can be learned from Euripides include how good people learn to hate, how aggression has its own logic of necessary brutality, how each side is unable to recognize how much they are like their enemies, how the desire to end a war quickly disregards the cost to civilians, and how irrational the fear of the enemy can be. (shrink)
Is genetic technology a special case, for which patents are inappropriate? I discuss concerns about commodification of human genes that are the common heritage of humankind. Genetic technology has the potential to irreversibly change the basis of our humanity. Public ownership of genetic technology is a democratic alternative to patenting.
I argue that the moral distinction in double effect cases rests on a difference not in intention as traditionally stated in the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE), but in desire. The traditional DDE has difficulty ensuring that an agent intends the bad effect just in those cases where what he does is morally objectionable. I show firstly that the mental state of a rational agent who is certain that a side-effect will occur satisfies Bratman's criteria for intending that effect. I (...) then clarify the nature of the moral distinction in double effect cases and how it can be used to evaluate the moral blameworthiness of agents rather than the moral status of acts. The agent's blameworthiness is reduced not by his lack of intention but by his desire not to bring about the side-effect, and the 'counterfactual test' can be used to determine whether he desires the effect in acting. In my version, the DDE has its rationale in virtue ethics; it is not liable to abuse as the traditional version is; and it makes more plausible distinctions when applied to standard examples. (shrink)