"In 1776, the American Declaration of Independence appealed to "the Laws of nature and of Nature's God" and affirmed "these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain ...
Philosophy Through Science Fiction offers a fun, challenging, and accessible way in to the issues of philosophy through the genre of science fiction. Tackling problems such as the possibility of time travel, or what makes someone the same person over time, the authors take a four-pronged approach to each issue, providing a clear and concise introduction to each subject amd a science fiction story that exemplifies a feature of the philosophical discussion ú historical and contemporary philosophical texts that investigate the (...) issue with rigor, and ú glossary, plot profiles of pertinent science fiction stories and films, and questions for further reflection. Philosophy Through Science Fiction includes stories from contemporary science fiction writers including Greg Egan and Mike Resnick, as well as from classic authors like Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein. Philosophy readings include historical pieces Rene Descartes and David Hume, and include contemporary pieces by John Searle and Mary Midgley. (shrink)
What is the nature of law? Does our obligation to obey the law extend to unjust laws? From what source do lawmakers derive legitimate authority? What principles should guide us in the design of political institutions? These essays by prominent contemporary philosophers explore how these questions were addressed by ancient political thinkers. Classical theories of human nature and their implications for political theory are examined, as is the meaning of freedom and coercion in Plato's thought and his idea that philosophers (...) should be political rulers. Other essays ask what we can learn from ancient thinkers like Aristotle about the principles of constitutional design or the limits of political obligation. (shrink)
TheFederalist, written by (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison) in 1787-1788 in defense of the proposed constitution of the United States, endorses a fundamental principle of political legitimacy: namely, This essay argues that this principlemay be traced back to Plato. Part I of the essay seeks to show that Plato's Statesman offers a clearer understanding of the rule of reason than his more famous Republic, and it also indicates how this principle gave rise to the ideal of constitutionalism, which (...) was adopted and reformulated by Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero, as well as moderns including Locke and Montesquieu. Part II argues that TheFederalist agrees with Plato when it argues that popular sovereignty must be tempered by the rule of reason. A proper distance should be maintained between the people and the actual exercise of power in order that political decisions be based on reason rather than passion. The people must therefore act through a federal system divided between national government and state governments, and these governments must themselves possess separated powers which control each other by means of checks and balances. Indeed, federalism itself may be viewed as a modern counterpart of Plato's which unites naturally disparate and opposed parts of the city-state into a concordant whole. In declaring, TheFederalist concedes that politics is the art of the possible. But statesmanship is not an exercise in pragmatism devoid of principles. Here shares Plato's vision of politics as a that is, an attempt to approximate the ideal of rational governance as far as possible in ordinary politics. (shrink)
The Federalist, written by “Publius” (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison) in 1787-1788 in defense of the proposed constitution of the United States, endorses a fundamental principle of political legitimacy: namely, “it is the reason of the public alone, that ought to control and regulate the government.” This essay argues that this principle—the rule of reason—may be traced back to Plato. Part I of the essay seeks to show that Plato's Statesman offers a clearer understanding of the rule of (...) reason than his more famous Republic, and it also indicates how this principle gave rise to the ideal of constitutionalism, which was adopted and reformulated by Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero, as well as moderns including Locke and Montesquieu. Part II argues that The Federalist agrees with Plato when it argues that popular sovereignty must be tempered by the rule of reason. A proper distance should be maintained between the people and the actual exercise of power in order that political decisions be based on reason rather than passion. The people must therefore act through a federal system divided between national government and state governments, and these governments must themselves possess separated powers which control each other by means of checks and balances. Indeed, federalism itself may be viewed as a modern counterpart of Plato's “art of weaving,” which unites naturally disparate and opposed parts of the city-state into a concordant whole. In declaring, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” The Federalist concedes that politics is the art of the possible. But statesmanship is not an exercise in pragmatism devoid of principles. Here “Publius” shares Plato's vision of politics as a “second sailing,” that is, an attempt to approximate the ideal of rational governance as far as possible in ordinary politics. Footnotesa This paper was originally presented at a meeting of the Symposium on Political Thought at Bowling Green State University. I am very grateful to the participants for their helpful suggestions, including Peter Celello, Albert Dzur, Neil Englehart, Jefferson Holcomb, David Jackson, Melissa Miller, Terrence Watson, and Adam White. I also received valuable criticisms from David Keyt, Ellen Frankel Paul, and the other contributors to this volume. (shrink)
Since the end of the Cold War, there has been increasing interest in the global dimensions of a host of public policy issues - issues involving war and peace, terrorism, international law, regulation of commerce, environmental protection, and disparities of wealth, income, and access to medical care. Especially pressing is the question of whether it is possible to formulate principles of justice that are valid not merely within a single society but across national borders. The thirteen essays in this volume (...) explore a range of issues that are central to contemporary discussions of global politics. Written by prominent philosophers, political scientists, economists, and legal theorists, they offer valuable contributions to current debates over the nature of justice and its implications for the development of international law and international institutions. (shrink)
This collection of essays is dedicated to the memory of the late Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, who died in 2002. The publication of Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia in 1974 revived serious interest in natural rights liberalism, which, beginning in the latter half of the eighteenth century, had been eclipsed by a succession of antithetical political theories including utilitarianism, progressivism, and various egalitarian and collectivist ideologies. Some of our contributors critique Nozick's political philosophy. Other contributors examine earlier figures in the (...) liberal tradition, most notably John Locke, whose Second Treatise of Government, published in the late seventeenth century, profoundly influenced the American founders. The remaining authors analyze natural rights liberalism's central doctrines. (shrink)
What is a person? What makes me the same person today that I was yesterday or will be tomorrow? Philosophers have long pondered these questions. In Plato's Symposium, Socrates observed that all of us are constantly undergoing change: we experience physical changes to our bodies, as well as changes in our 'manners, customs, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, [and] fears'. Aristotle theorized that there must be some underlying 'substratum' that remains the same even as we undergo these changes. John Locke rejected (...) Aristotle's view and reformulated the problem of personal identity in his own way: is a person a physical organism that persists through time, or is a person identified by the persistence of psychological states, by memory? These essays - written by prominent philosophers and legal and economic theorists - offer valuable insights into the nature of personal identity and its implications for morality and public policy. (shrink)
Divisions abound as to whether politics should be held responsible to a higher moral standard or whether pragmatic considerations, or realpolitik, should prevail. The two poles are represented most conspicuously by Aristotle (for whom the proper aim of politics is moral virtue) and Machiavelli (whose prince exalted political pragmatism over morality). The fourteen contributions to this volume address perennial concerns in political and moral theory. They underscore the rekindled yearning of many to hold the political realm to a higher standard (...) despite the skepticism of dissenters who question the likelihood, or even the desirability, of success. (shrink)
A central idea in moral and political philosophy, 'autonomy' is generally understood as some form of self-governance or self-direction. Certain Stoics, modern philosophers such as Spinoza, and most importantly, Immanuel Kant, are among the great philosophers who have offered important insights on the concept. Some theorists analyze autonomy in terms of the self being moved by its higher-order desires. Others argue that autonomy must be understood in terms of acting from reason or from a sense of moral duty independent of (...) the passions. Autonomy seems closely related to the notion of freedom, but in what sense: freedom from coercion, freedom from psychological constraints, or freedom from material necessity? Various approaches to these and similar questions yield different implications for public policy. Is capitalism, social democracy or socialism more favorable to autonomy? The essays in this volume address these important questions. (shrink)
Technological innovations and social developments have led to dramatic changes in the practice of medicine and in the way that scientists conduct medical research. Change has brought beneficial consequences, yet these gains have come at a cost, for many modern medical practices raise troubling ethical questions: Should life be sustained mechanically when the brain's functions have ceased? Should potential parents be permitted to manipulate the genetic characteristics of their embryos? Should society ration medical care to control costs? Should fetal stem (...) cells be experimented upon in an effort to eventually palliate or cure debilitating diseases? Bioethicists analyze and assess moral dilemmas raised by medical research and innovative treatments; they also counsel healthcare practitioners, patients, and their families. In this anthology, fifteen philosophers, social scientists, and academic lawyers assess various aspects of this field. (shrink)
Philosophers since ancient times have pondered how we can know whether moral claims are true or false. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed widespread skepticism concerning the possibility of moral knowledge. Indeed, some argued that moral statements lacked cognitive content altogether, because they were not susceptible to empirical verification. The British philosopher A. J. Ayer contends that 'They are pure expressions of feeling and as such do not come under the category of truth and falsehood. They are unverifiable (...) ... because they do not express genuine propositions.' The second half of the twentieth century brought a revival of interest among philosophers in moral and political questions. Whether or not ethics can be founded upon a rational basis continues to preoccupy the philosophical community even now. (shrink)
These essays address some of the most intriguing questions raised by natural law theory and its implications for law, morality, and public policy. some of the essays explore the implications that natural law theory has for jurisprudence, asking what natural law suggests about the use of legal devices such as constitutions and precedents. Other essays examine the connections between natural law and various political concepts, such as citizens' rights and the obligation of citizens to obey their government.
The essays in this volume examine the nature of human flourishing and its relationship to a variety of other key concepts in moral theory. Some of them trace the link between flourishing and human nature, asking whether a theory of human nature can allow us to develop an objective list of goods that are of value to all agents, regardless of their individual purposes or aims. Some essays look at the role of friendships or parent-child relationships in a good life, (...) or seek to determine whether an ethical theory based on human flourishing can accommodate concern for others for their own sake. Other essays analyze the function of families or other social-political institutions in promoting the flourishing of individuals. Still others explore the implications of flourishing for political theory, asking whether considerations of human flourishing can help us to derive principles of social justice. (shrink)
The essays in this volume address questions about responsibility that arise in moral philosophy and legal theory. Some analyse different theories of causality, asking which theory offers the best account of human agency and the most satisfactory resolution of troubling controversies about free will and determinism. Some essays look at responsibility in the legal realm, seeking to determine how the law should assign liability for negligence, or whether the courts should allow defendants to offer excuses for their wrongdoing or to (...) claim some form of 'diminished responsibility'. Other essays explore libertarian views about political freedom and accountability, asking whether libertarian positions on consent, contract law, and responsibility are consistent, or whether restitution is superior to retribution or deterrence as a basis for a theory of corrective justice. Still others examine the notion of partial or divided responsibility, or the relationship between responsibility and the emotions. (shrink)
This comprehensive study of Aristotle's Politics argues that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. Miller challenges the widely held view that the concept of rights is alien to Aristotle's thought, and presents evidence for talk of rights in Aristotle's writings. He argues further that Aristotle's theory of justice supports claims of individual rights that are political and based in nature.
These essays represent the latest research of a number of prominent political theorists. The essays explore the role of government, the nature of public discourse and the obligations of citizens. Some examine the sources of our need for government, asking what form of government we should establish and whether a single form can be suitable for all societies. Some seek to discover the proper aims of government - asking, for example, whether government should promote equality among its citizens or whether (...) it should allow inequalities in the hope of raising everyone's level of well-being. Others explore government's role in ensuring citizens' autonomy and in protecting their rights to pursue their own interests and projects. Still others examine the processes through which policies are formulated and debated, asking what forms of public deliberation are likely to produce the best results. (shrink)
The twelve essays in this collection address questions about justice and social institutions designed to secure it. Some explore the relationship between justice and equality, asking whether societies should strive to eliminate inequalities in their citizens' levels of opportunity or welfare. Some consider whether societies are obligated to provide their less fortunate citizens with some minimum level of subsistence, or whether the provision of such relief is best left to private charitable organisations. Some essays look at the relationship between justice (...) and other values, such as mutual consent, the protection of property rights, or the elimination of exploitation. Others deal with the rules governing specific practices, such as the distribution of health care, the pursuit of academic inquiry and research, or the assignment of punishments. Still others propose and defend principles for designing and evaluating social institutions. (shrink)
What is the good life? This question captured the attention of ancient philosophers and it remains with us today, because it compels us to consider what it is to be human. To inquire about the good life is to ask, not about the proper conduct in one specific situation, but about the proper course of an entire life. It is to ask what we ought to make of ourselves as moral beings, what standards we ought to follow, and what goals (...) we ought to aspire to. But does it make sense to talk about the good life or the human good, or are there many human goods and many ways of living a good life? If there are many goods, then ow are they related, and how are we to determine whether one good outweighs another? Does living one's own life well leave room for concern for the well-being of others? Are there other non-moral concerns that may sometimes take precedence over living a good life? These are a few of the questions that will be addressed by the essays in this issue. (shrink)
PLATO ARGUES THAT ANTICIPATORY PLEASURES MAY BE FALSE. THE STRUCTURE OF HIS ARGUMENT IS CLARIFIED. THE CRUX IS NOT THE INFERENCE FROM 'FALSE BELIEF' TO 'FALSE PICTURE' TO 'FALSE PLEASURE,' BUT THE DOCTRINE THAT THROUGH MENTAL IMAGERY PLEASURE, LIKE BELIEF, MAY TAKE AS OBJECTS UNREALIZED STATES OF AFFAIRS. ASSUMING FALSITY IS A BAD-MAKING CHARACTERISTIC, SOCRATES USES THE THESIS AGAINST HEDONISM. THE INTERPRETATIONS OF GOSLING, KENNY, AND MCLAUGHLIN ARE CRITICIZED.