In this paper I review and provide a qualified defence of Samaritanism—Christopher Heath Wellman's novel approach to the old-fashioned problem of political obligation. I outline Wellman's theory, clarifying the details, and defend an amended version against a variety of objections concerning, successively, an alleged conflation of duties of care and beneficence, a difficulty concerning the distinction of perfect and imperfect duties, a problem deriving from the 'particularity requirement', and related issues deriving from the international applications of Samaritan values.
Using a variet y of classical sources, we identify the Owl of Minerva as the European Little Owl (Athene noctua) and describe its habits. Our not-altogether- serious conclusion is that Hegel was wrong to state that the Owl of Minerva begins its flight only at the falling of the dusk.
If the commands of authority are peremptory and content-independent directives, it is a great puzzle why any rational autonomous agent should accept them as morally binding, as Robert Paul Wolff and others have argued. I analyse the peremptory and content-independent quality of authoritative directives and argue that all earthly authorities operate within a specified domain. I investigate three candidates for the role of universally applicable boundary conditions–morality, harm to self, and absurdity. I conclude that commands are authoritative only when intra (...) vires, i.e. issued within the proper domain of the authority. Wolff's challenge is not met, hut it is shown to be less forbidding. (shrink)
This essay argues that Mark C. Murphy's original contribution to natural law ethics succeeds in finding a way between older metaphysical and newer purely practical approaches in this genre. Murphy's reconstruction of the function argument, critique of subjectivist theories of well-being, and rigorous formulation of a flexible welfarist theory of value deserve careful attention. I defend Kant against Murphy's critique and argue that Murphy faces the problem of showing that all his basic goods are morally inviolable. Although I endorse Murphy's (...) critique of radical virtue ethics, I raise objections to the basic moral norms he derives from his list of goods, and to the analysis of peace of mind and happiness as basic goods. (shrink)
I attempt to show that it is notphilosophically incompetent to ground politicalobligation in feelings of gratitude. But theargument needs to be stated carefully.Gratitude must be distinguished fromreciprocity. It applies only to good governmentwhich provides benefits to citizens for whichthey ought to feel grateful. It applies only tocitizens who accept that their feelings ofgratitude are properly demonstrated by anacceptance on their part of the duties ofcitizenship. It does not apply to citizenswhose benefits are purchased at the expense ofthe unjust treatment of (...) fellow citizens. (shrink)
Hegel's philosophy is essential to the history of ideas and to the development of philosophy and thought ever since. His Philosophy of Right is one of the great works in political philosophy and its importance to contemporary philosophy has been ongoing. It offers very important contributions to topics of great interest in political philosophy from discussions of persons and rights, property, punishment, moral psychology, civil society, freedom and war. Most significant is the work's relation to Marxist thought and its major (...) critique of Kant. Dudley Knowles provides the most accessible introduction to this monumental work. He reviews Hegel's life and the background to the work and carefully explains and discusses the key concepts of Hegel's thought. (shrink)
The resilience of utilitarian ethics in the face of unremitting criticism can be explained in part by its use of various strategies of indirect utilitarianism. The success of these strategies throws up a distinctive problem: how can one measure the utility of moral rules, large-scale social institutions or character traits distinctive of virtues? Reading Hume as a utilitarian of sorts in his treatment of justice (and rejecting contractarian readings), I explain his conservative endorsement of entrenched social practices as a consequence (...) of his broadly functionalist approach. I claim that this account has enough merit to ground conservativism in ethics as a satisfactory default position. Projects for reform rather than established institutions are the proper object of utilitarian assessment, thus finessing the problem of measurement I opened up initially. (shrink)