We assess J. Baird Callicott’s attempt in Earth’s Insights to reconcile his land ethic with the “environmental ethics” of indigenous peoples. We critique the rejection of ethical pluralism that informs this attempted rapprochement. We also assess Callicott’s strategy of grounding his land ethic in a postmodern scientific world view by contrasting it with the roles of “respect” and narrative in indigenous “ethics.”.
Recently, some philosophers have suggested that a form of robust realism about ethics, or normativity more generally, does not face a significant explanatory burden in metaphysics. I call this view metaphysically quietist normative realism . This paper argues that while this view can appear to constitute an attractive alternative to more traditional forms of normative realism, it cannot deliver on this promise. I examine Scanlon’s attempt to defend such a quietist realism, and argue that rather than silencing metaphysical questions about (...) normative reasons, his defense at best succeeds only in shifting the focus of metaphysical enquiry. I then set aside the details of Scanlon’s view, and argue on general grounds that that the quietist realist cannot finesse a crucial metanormative task: to explain the contrast between the correct normative system and alternative putatively normative standards. (shrink)
The tenuous claims of cost-benefit analysis to guide policy so as to promote welfare turn on measuring welfare by preference satisfaction and taking willingness-to-pay to indicate preferences. Yet it is obvious that people's preferences are not always self-interested and that false beliefs may lead people to prefer what is worse for them even when people are self-interested. So welfare is not preference satisfaction, and hence it appears that cost-benefit analysis and welfare economics in general rely on a mistaken theory of (...) well-being. This essay explores the difficulties, criticizes standard defences of welfare economics, and then offers a new partial defence that maintains that welfare economics is independent of any philosophical theory of well-being. Welfare economics requires nothing more than an evidential connection between preference and welfare: in circumstances in which people are concerned with their own interests and reasonably good judges of what will serve their interests, their preferences will be reliable indicators of what is good for them. (shrink)
Could God have created a better universe? Well, the fundamental scientific laws and parameters of the universe have to be within a certain miniscule range, for a life-sustaining universe to develop: the universe must be ‘Fine Tuned’. Therefore the ‘embryonic universe’ that came into existence with the ‘big bang’ had to be either exactly as it was or within a certain tiny range, for there to develop a life-sustaining universe. If it is better that there exist a life-sustaining universe than (...) not, then it was better that the embryonic universe was one of this small set of very similar embryonic universes than that it was not. Furthermore, there are no firm grounds for claiming that of this small set of very similar embryonic universes, there is one which would have developed into a universe better than ours. Therefore there are no firm grounds for claiming that God could have created a better universe than ours. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that the ethical supervenes on the natural, where this is roughly the claim that it is impossible for two circumstances to be identical in all natural respects, but different in their ethical respects. This chapter refines and defends the traditional thought that this fact poses a significant challenge to ethical non-naturalism, a view on which ethical properties are fundamentally different in kind from natural properties. The challenge can be encapsulated in three core claims which the chapter (...) defends: that a defensible non-naturalism is committed to the supervenience of the ethical, that this commits the non-naturalist to a brute necessary connection between properties of distinct kinds, and that commitment to such brute connections counts against the non-naturalist’s view. Each of these claims has recently been challenged. Against Nicholas Sturgeon’s recent doubts about the dialectical force of supervenience, this chapter defends a supervenience thesis as deserving to be common ground among ethical realists. It is then argued that attempts to explain supervenience on behalf of the non-naturalist either fail as explanations, generate near-identical explanatory burdens elsewhere, or appeal to commitments that are inconsistent with core motivations for non-naturalism. The chapter concludes that, suitably refined, the traditional argument against nonnaturalism from supervenience is alive and well. (shrink)
Some philosophers have been attracted to the idea that morality is an autonomous domain. One version of this idea is the thesis that non-moral claims are irrelevant to the justification of fundamental normative ethical theories. However, this autonomy thesis appears to be in tension with a pair of apparent features of metaethical theorizing. On one hand, metaethics seemingly aims to explain how morality fits into our broader conception of the world. On the other, metaethical theorizing appears to have potential normative (...) ethical implications. This apparent tension may help to explain some contemporary worries about metaethics as a philosophical project. This paper examines three responses to this tension. The first response seeks to resolve the tension by claiming that metaethical theories must be neutral between normative ethical theories. The second response seeks to eliminate the tension by appealing to a deep divide between practical and theoretical reasoning. I show that each of these responses would require a radical reconception of metaethics. I argue that such a reconception is not required in order to resolve the apparent tension between metaethics and the autonomy thesis. I show that this tension is merely apparent, and can be dissolved without casting doubt on metaethics as a project. I argue that on the picture that results, whether the autonomy thesis is true itself depends upon metaethical fact. (shrink)
The article reviews recent developments in England in the law of necessity as a defence to crime and calls for its further extension. It argues that the defence of necessity presents the criminal law with difficult questions of competing values and the ordering of harms. English law has taken a nuanced position on the respective roles of the courts and the legislature in the ordering of harms, although the development of the law has been pragmatic rather than coherently theorised. The (...) law has granted necessity some scope as an exculpatory principle in the law of general defences, but it has also respected the primacy of the legislature as the legitimate arbiter of many of the competitions of value that necessity throws up. The recognition of necessity has not been in the form of a single unified defence of that name. Rather it has taken the form of a number of defences, based on a principle of necessity, but with different nomenclature and different rationales. This approach to necessity is defended as right in terms of principle and policy. Any further development of necessity as a general defence should be restricted to two contexts, namely those of emergencies, and of conflicts of duty, where a danger of death or serious injury is present. (shrink)
Symposium contribution on Mark Schroeder's Slaves of the Passions. Argues that Schroeder's account of agent-neutral reasons cannot be made to work, that the limited scope of his distinctive proposal in the epistemology of reasons undermines its plausibility, and that Schroeder faces an uncomfortable tension between the initial motivation for his view and the details of the view he develops.
This paper begins by setting out an intuitive case for ethical veganism: the thesis that it is typically wrong to consume animal products. This case begins with the intuitive claim that it is wrong to set fire to a cat. I then raise a methodological challenge: this is an intuitive argument for a revisionary conclusion. Even if we grant that we cannot both believe that it is permissible to drink milk, and that it is wrong to set fire to cats, (...) this leaves open the question of which of these judgments we should abandon. I consider and reject three strategies for addressing this question: more methodologically naïve moral theorizing, appeal to systematic normative theory, and attacking nonmoral presuppositions. I argue that philosophically satisfying resolution of the conflict requires debunking our grounds for belief in one of the conflicting claims. Finally, I argue that ethical veganism is supported by consideration of the most salient debunking arguments available. (shrink)
Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgments of moral wrongness, for example from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for generating apparent counterexamples to any informative specification of the (...) moral attitudes. This may appear to be a lethal objection to non-cognitivism, but a similar recipe challenges attempts by non-cognitivism’s competitors to specify the conditions underwriting the contrast between genuine and merely apparent moral disagreement. Because of its generality, this specification problem requires a systematic response, which, we argue, is most easily available for the non-cognitivist. Building on premisses congenial to the non-cognitivist tradition, we make the following claims: (1) In paradigmatic cases, wrongness-judgements constitute a certain complex but functionally unified state, and paradigmatic wrongness-judgments form a functional kind, preserved by homeostatic mechanisms. (2) Because of the practical function of such judgements, we should expect judges’ intuitive understanding of agreement and disagreement to be accommodating, treating states departing from the paradigm in various ways as wrongness-judgements. (3) This explains the intuitive judgements required by the counterexample-generating recipe, and more generally why various kinds of amoralists are seen as making genuine wrongness-judgements. (shrink)
This interview with Charles Taylor explores a central concern throughout his work, viz., his concern to confront the challenges presented by the process of ‘disenchantment’ in the modern world. It focuses especially on what is involved in seeking a kind of ‘re-enchantment.' A key issue that is discussed is the relationship of Taylor’s theism to his effort of seeking re-enchantment. Some other related issues that are explored pertain to questions surrounding Taylor’s argument against the standard secularization thesis that views secularization (...) as a process involving the ineluctable fading away of religion. Additionally, the relationship between Taylor’s religious views and his philosophical work is discussed. (shrink)
What is the relation between the rules of war covered by the war convention and the source of their normative authority? According to Michael Walzer, these rules have normative authority by virtue of being widely established in theory and practice and conforming to our moral sensibilities. It is striking that his influential account of just war has a conventionalist grounding similar to his more scrutinized general theory of justice. Indeed, we should question whether a shared moral understanding is an adequate (...) basis for morally obligating parties who might challenge the rules under the war convention. I argue that rules of war need the support of moral judgments whose normative authority is ultimately not conventional in nature. Reasonable objections to the war convention exert pressure to revise its standard principles or to admit that these principles lack general moral force. Such objections, inchoate though they may be in international political discourse, seem a source of commonly voiced skepticism of morality in international relations. Debate about the merits of alternative principles of just war has the advantage of engaging with this skepticism. This opens up the possibility that less powerful or more conscientious parties could play a constructive role in a public and more democratic discourse of just war. Key Words: Karl von Clausewitz convention Gilbert Harman just war theory morality normative authority political realism war the war convention Michael Walzer. (shrink)
Ethnomethodology is in trouble, its conceptual apparatus prone to indifference or misunderstanding both from "conventional" sociologists and from its own practitioners. This article describes some of these loci of confusion and suggests that they have a common root in the relationship between ethnomethodology and conventional sociology. Ethnomethodologists' desire to find a principled theoretical framework for dealing with this relationship is shown to be the common basis for subsequent confusion, and some of the corollaries of their putative solution(s) are elaborated with (...) regard to their philosophical and programmatic implications. Key Words: ethnomethodology social constructionism situated action social structures. (shrink)
Normative realists might be assumed to have few worries about semantics. After all, a realist might initially hope to simply adopt the best semantic theory about ordinary descriptive language. However, beginning with the non-cognitivist appropriation of the open question argument, a number of philosophers have posed serious objections to the realist’s ability to offer a plausible semantic theory. This paper introduces the two most influential semantic challenges to normative realism: the open question argument, and the Moral Twin Earth argument. It (...) explains the major replies to these challenges offered by realists, and locates these challenges within the broader debate over what sort of semantic theories might be plausible candidates for a normative realist to adopt. (shrink)
Common sense supports the idea that we can have morally significantreasons for giving priority to the interests of persons for whom wehave special concern. Yet there is a real question about the natureof such reasons. Many people seem to believe that there are biologicalor metaphysical special relations, such as family, race, religion orpersonal identity, which are in themselves morally important and thussupply reasons for special concern. I maintain that there are nogrounds for accepting this. What matters morally, I argue, is (...) thesubstance of personal or wider social relationships. My ``substantivist''account of the source of morally salient reasons for special concernis positioned between nonreductionist and strong voluntarist views ofspecial responsibilities. Substantivism is more plausible than theseviews and has important implications for how we approach morallyweighing personal versus impartial reasons. (shrink)
This article combines the disciplines of textual/linguistic analysis, anthropology, and perceptual psychology to examine selected ancient Jewish mystical texts that claim to describe the praxis for ascents into heaven and encounters with angelic spirits in order to reconstruct the psychosocial context of these literary works. Specifically, the article examines Hekhalot or "Divine Palaces" texts that deal with hydromancy, giving attention to their mythic–symbolic assumptions, their described preparatory and triggering rituals, and their accounts of the ASC (altered states of consciousness) visions (...) resulting from these rituals that are experienced by the practitioners. The article suggests that these accounts correlate with ASC practices identified in the literature and additionally suggests that although the mystical texts are written to resemble biblical accounts of revelatory experiences, the texts under consideration are more than works of fabulous imagination; they are literary artifacts of an actual ecstatic ASC praxis among the Jews of Late Antiquity. (shrink)
The aim of the present research was to develop a difficulty model for logical reasoning problems involving complex ordered arrays used in the Graduate Record Examination. The approach used involved breaking down the problems into their basic cognitive elements such as the complexity of the rules used, the number of mental models required to represent the problem, and question type. Weightings for these different elements were derived from two experimental studies and from the reasoning literature. Based on these weights, difficulty (...) models were developed which were then tested against new data. The models had excellent predictive validity and showed the relative influence of rule based factors and factors relating to the number of underlying models. Different difficulty models were needed for different question types, suggesting that people used a variety of approaches and, at a wider level, that both mental models and mental rules may be used in reasoning. (shrink)
Pairing Thus Spoke Zarathustra with On the Genealogy of Morality foregrounds tensions between artistic creation and critical interpretation in Nietzsche's work. From The Birth of Tragedy to his genesis of the concept, Will to Power, Nietzsche describes the real, or ?what is,? in terms of a creative, form-giving force. We might therefore read Zarathustra?a linguistically experimental, richly allegorical, self-reflexive, modernist prose poem?as the pre-eminent, artistic mode of philosophical expression, at least for Nietzsche. But Zarathustra is followed by a sober Abhandlung (...) (treatise), which professes a scientific goal of ?getting to the bottom of things? by uncovering the contingency, origin, and fabricated nature of supposedly eternal, ?given? values. These instantiations of Nietzsche-the-artist and Nietzsche-the-critic suggest art's ?double? or contradictory nature?a nature that accents its kinship with philosophy. Zarathustra and the Genealogy, read together, hint that the destruction of idols?or de-constructive, critical interpretation more generally?is not just supplemental to, but a necessary moment within the aesthetic itself. (shrink)
In this essay I discuss the limits of recent attempts to develop a neo-Aristotelian virtue ethic on the basis of a commitment to ‘ethical naturalism.’ By ‘ethical naturalism’ I mean the view that ethics can be founded on claims about what it is for human beings to flourish qua member of the human species, which is analogous to what it is for plants and other animals to flourish qua member of their particular species. Drawing on Charles Taylor’s account of ‘strong (...) evaluation,’ I argue that there are important features of our ethical life that can only be properly understood from a first-personal or phenomenological standpoint as contrasted with the third-personal standpoint of ethical naturalism: viz., (1) The sense of ‘nobility’ in performing virtuous actions for their own sake as a constitutive part of the good life; (2) The nature and extent of other-regarding concern; and (3) The issue of ‘the meaning of life,’ which also raises the issue of the place of ‘transcendence’ in an account of the good life. While I emphasize the need for a deeper engagement with our first-personal evaluative experience, I also discuss the interdependence of the first-personal and third-personal perspectives in the ethical life. (shrink)
This article argues that the best way to pursue systematic normative ethical theorizing involves metaethical enquiry. My argument builds upon two central claims. First, I argue that plausible metaethical accounts can have implications that can help to resolve the methodological controversies facing normative ethics. Second, I argue that metaethical research is at least roughly as well supported as normative ethical research. I conclude by examining the implications of my thesis. Inter alia, it shows that the common practice of engaging in (...) systematic normative theorizing uninformed by metaethical commitments offers a significant and troubling hostage to metaethical fortune. (shrink)
We propose a framework for analyzing the development, operation and failure to survive of all things, living, non-living or organized groupings. This framework is a sequence of developments that improve survival capability. Framework processes range from origination of any entity/system, to the development of increased survival capability and development of life-forms and organizations that use intelligence. This work deals with a series of developmental changes that arise from the uncovering of emergent properties. The framework is intended to be general, but (...) we see a potential to apply it to scientific topics such as the exploration of the origin of life or the search for life beyond Earth, and to understand some biological issues in evolution and symbiosis, and also to apply to social systems that do not seem to be operating well, to determine their problems and correct them. (shrink)
To provide the three-way comparisons needed to test existing theories, we compared (1) most-stressful memories to other memories and (2) involuntary to voluntary memories (3) in 75 community dwelling adults with and 42 without a current diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each rated their three most-stressful, three most-positive, seven most-important and 15 word-cued autobiographical memories, and completed tests of personality and mood. Involuntary memories were then recorded and rated as they occurred for 2 weeks. Standard mechanisms of cognition and (...) affect applied to extreme events accounted for the properties of stressful memories. Involuntary memories had greater emotional intensity than voluntary memories, but were not more frequently related to traumatic events. The emotional intensity, rehearsal, and centrality to the life story of both voluntary and involuntary memories, rather than incoherence of voluntary traumatic memories and enhanced availability of involuntary traumatic memories, were the properties of autobiographical memories associated with PTSD. (shrink)
: Pharmacogenetics offers the prospect of an era of safer and more effective drugs, as well as more individualized use of drug therapies. Before the benefits of pharmacogenetics can be realized, the ethical issues that arise in research and clinical application of pharmacogenetic technologies must be addressed. The ethical issues raised by pharmacogenetics can be addressed under six headings: (1) regulatory oversight, (2) confidentiality and privacy, (3) informed consent, (4) availability of drugs, (5) access, and (6) clinicians' changing responsibilities in (...) the era of pharmacogenetic medicine. We analyze each of these categories of ethical issues and provide policy approaches for addressing them. (shrink)
This study examines the relation between firms’ corporate philanthropic giving and their performance in three other social domains – employee relations, environmental issues, and product safety. Based on a sample of 384 U.S. companies and using data pooled from 1998 through 2000, we find that worse performers in the other social areas are both more likely to make charitable contributions and that the extent of their giving is larger than for better performers. Analyses of each separate area of social performance, (...) however, indicate that the relation between giving and negative social performance (cited concerns) only holds for the environmental issues and product safety areas. We find no significant association between corporate philanthropy and employee relations concerns. In general, these findings suggest that corporate philanthropy may be more a tool of legitimization than a measure of corporate social responsibility. (shrink)
A reconsideration of mill's theory of "higher pleasures," construed as a way of evaluating changes in preferences or character that result from changes in social environment. mill's account is criticized and partly reconstructed in light of modern preference theory, but viewed favorably as an illuminating attempt to address a fundamental problem in moral evaluation of social institutions. mill's advocacy of the higher pleasures is defended in particular against the charge that it is incompatible with his commitment to liberty.
The ability to reason independently from one's own goals or beliefs has long been recognised as a key characteristic of the development of formal operational thought. In this article we present the results of a study that examined the correlates of this ability in a group of 10-year-old children ( N = 61). Participants were presented with conditional and relational reasoning items, where the content was manipulated such that the conclusion to the arguments were either congruent, neutral, or incongruent with (...) beliefs, and either logically valid or logically invalid. Participants also received a measure of working memory capacity (the counting span task) and a measure of inhibitory control (the stop signal task). Indices of belief bias and logical reasoning on belief-based problems were predicted independently by both measures. In contrast logical reasoning on belief neutral problems was predicted by working memory alone. The findings suggest that executive functions play a key role in the development of children's ability to decontextualise their thinking. (shrink)
In this article we consider the value and effective use of ethics courses and case study pedagogy, analyze media ethics cases in 3 textbooks, support changing primary actors in many future text case studies, and call for the addition of ethical issues most relevant to the professional positions students will hold after graduation.
This article reports three experiments that investigated the relationship between working memory capacity and syllogistic and five-term series spatial inference. A series of complex and simple verbal and spatial working memory measures were employed. Correlational analyses showed that verbal and spatial working memory span tasks consistently predicted syllogistic and spatial reasoning performance. A confirmatory factor analysis showed that three factors best accounted for the data--a verbal, a spatial, and a general factor. Syllogistic reasoning performance loaded all three factors, whilst spatial (...) reasoning loaded only the general factor. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of reasoning theories and contemporary accounts of the structure of working memory. (shrink)