It is shown by means of a simple example that a good explanation of an event is not necessarily corroborated by the occurrence of that event. It is also shown that this contention follows symbolically if an explanation having higher "explicativity" than another is regarded as better.
... Press for their editorial perspicacity, to the National Institutes of Health for the partial financial support they gave me while I was writing some of the chapters, and to Donald Michie for suggesting the title Good Thinking.
This paper examines Duhem’s concept of goodsense as an attempt to support a non rule-governed account of rationality in theory choice. Faced with the underdetermination of theory by evidence thesis and the continuity thesis, Duhem tried to account for the ability of scientists to choose theories that continuously grow to a natural classification. I will examine the concept of goodsense and the problems that stem from it. I will also present a recent attempt by (...) David Stump to link goodsense to virtue epistemology. I will argue that even though this approach can be useful for the better comprehension of the concept of goodsense, there are some substantial differences between virtue epistemologists and Duhem. In the light of this reconstruction of goodsense, I will propose a possible way to interpret the concept of goodsense, which overcomes the noted problems and fits better with Duhem’s views on scientific method and motivation in developing the concept of goodsense. (shrink)
There has been a significant interest in the recent literature in developing a solution to the problem of theory choice which is both normative and descriptive, but agent-based rather than rule-based, originating from Pierre Duhem’s notion of ‘goodsense’. In this paper we present the properties Duhem attributes to goodsense in different contexts, before examining its current reconstructions advanced in the literature and their limitations. We propose an alternative account of goodsense, seen (...) as promoting social consensus in science, and show that it is superior to its rivals in two respects: it is more faithful to Duhemian goodsense, and it cashes out the effect that virtues have on scientific progress. We then defend the social consensus account against objections that highlight the positive role of diversity and division of labour in science. (shrink)
In his essay ‘‘Of the Standard of Taste,’’ Hume argues that artworks with morally flawed outlooks (including Homer's poems) are, to some extent, aesthetically flawed. While Hume's remarks regarding the relationship between art and morality have influenced contemporary aestheticians, Hume's own position has struck many people as incoherent. For Hume appears to entangle himself in two separate contradictions. First, Hume seems to claim both that true judges should not enter into vicious sentiments and that true judges should adopt the standpoint (...) of an artwork's intended audience. But The Iliad, say, was obviously intended for an audience that shared Homer's flawed moral outlook. Second, Hume appears to claim that our moral sentiments are both highly resistant to change and extremely fragile. This essay defends Hume against these two objections by drawing increased attention to the role that Hume's aesthetics assigns to the faculty of goodsense or sound reason. (shrink)
This paper explores Kant's concept of the highest good and the postulate of the existence of God arising from it. Kant has two concepts of the highest good standing in tension with one another, an immanent and a transcendent one. I provide a systematic exposition of the constituents of both variants and show how Kant’s arguments are prone to confusion through a conflation of both concepts. I argue that once these confusions are sorted out Kant’s claim regarding the (...) need to postulate God’s existence from a moral point of view makes much more sense. (shrink)
On the question of precisely what role common sense (or related datum like folk psychology, trust in pre-theoretic/intuitive judgments, etc.) should have in reigning in the possible excesses of our philosophical methods, the so-called ‘continental’ answer to this question, for the vast majority, would be “as little as possible”, whereas the analytic answer for the vast majority would be “a reasonably central one”. While this difference at the level of both rhetoric and meta-philosophy is sometimes – perhaps often – (...) problematised by the actual philosophical practices of representative philosophers of either tradition, I will argue that this norm (and its absence) nonetheless continues to play an important justificatory role in relation to the use of some rather different methodological practices. In particular, many analytic philosophers not only explicitly invoke the value of common sense, but they also implicitly value it via techniques like conceptual analysis that want to explicate folk psychology and/or lay bare what is already embedded in the linguistic norms of a given culture, the widespread use of thought experiments and the way they function as ‘intuition pumps’, as well as the general aim to achieve ‘reflective equilibrium’ between our intuitions and reflective judgments in epistemology and political philosophy. Such methods, I will argue, enshrine a conservative, or, more positively, a modest understanding of the philosophical project in that it is invested in cohering with both a given body of knowledge and common sense. These methods are notably less perspicuous in continental philosophy. To bring some of the reasons why this might be so to the fore, this paper considers Deleuze’s sustained attack on both good and common sense, which he argues are fundamental to the prevalence of a dogmatic image of thought. If Deleuze is right about this, and if the analytic tradition distils and perfects certain methods that are closely associated with this image of thought, then we have here a rather stark methodological contrast that calls for elaboration and evaluation. (shrink)
This paper aims to return Wittgenstein's Tractatus to its original stature by showing that it is not the self-repudiating work commentators take it to be, but the consistent masterpiece its author believed it was at the time he wrote it. The Tractatus has been considered self-repudiating for two reasons: it refers to its own propositions as ‘nonsensical’, and it makes what Peter Hacker calls ‘paradoxical ineffability claims’ – that is, its remarks are themselves instances of what it says (...) cannot be said. I address the first problem by showing that, on Wittgenstein's view, nonsense is primarily a technically descriptive, not a defamatory, qualification, and is not indicative of Wittgenstein rejecting or disavowing his own Tractarian ‘propositions’. I then dissolve the paradoxical ineffability claim by making a technical distinction, based on Wittgenstein's own theory and practice, between saying and speaking. (shrink)
The main purpose of the paper is to investigate the relevance and significance of the concept of common good in contemporary society. First, I make a brief historical remark about the philosophical concept of common good. I will argue that the concept is rooted in the ancient Greek philosophical understanding of society, namely as polis, whereby human being is thought to have an end that is not merely individual but also collective. I then discuss how societies have significantly (...) changed over the years and how the current global order resembles the situation during the time of Alexander the Great, whose vision it was to establish a cosmopolis, literally a global city. In the end, I consider whether the notion of common good in itself has lost its relevance in the face of the manifold social changes. I bring my discussion to a close with a note on the universality and naturality of the common good of humankind. (shrink)
Unlike the radical historicist and the radical logicist, the moderate historicist in the philosophy of science adopts the position that neither purely a priori (i.e., logical or philosophical) nor purely historical considerations alone determine the acceptability of a philosophical analysis of science. A dilemma arising from the nature of this position is first described and then it is argued that what is perhaps the most plausible way of avoiding this dilemma is doomed to failure. A particular example of this attempt (...) at escaping the dilemma is considered in some detail, and along the way evidence is amassed in support of the view that no non-trivial statement of moderate historicism will be coherent. (shrink)
I discuss the role played by ordinary or everyday experience in the origin of philosophy. I begin with a discussion of the disappearance of production from the tripartite Aristotelian division of the arts and sciences, and indicate how production reappears as the assimilation of both theory and practice. If knowing is making, then there is no distinction between philosophy and poetry. In particular, the everyday or pre-theoretical world loses its status as the original source and subject-matter of philosophy It becomes (...) an artifact, and in the age of science, an artifact of the "folk-world." The result is the deterioration of human nature, and science is deprived of its human significance. The first step back to clarity is to show that words like "reason" and "good," the core of moral competence, are identical at their root with phronesisor the rationality of common sense. (shrink)
One of the major puzzling themes in the history of Platonism is how theology is integrated with philosophy. In particular, one may well wonder how Plato's superordinate first principle of all, Idea of the Good, comes to be understood by his disciples as a mind or in some way possessing personal attributes. In what sense is the Good supposed to be God? In this paper I explore some Platonic accounts of the first principle of all in order (...) to understand where the integration of the personal into the metaphysical is organic and where it is not. I conclude that the “ontological” and the “henological” construals of the first principle of all differ in their openness to “intellectualizing” that principle. (shrink)
This article tries to make sense of the concept of the highest good (eternal bliss) in Søren Kierkegaard by comparing it to the analysis of the highest good found in Immanuel Kant. The comparison with Kant’s more systematic analysis helps us clarify the meaning and importance of the concept in Kierkegaard as well as to shed new light on the conceptual relation between Kant and Kierkegaard. The article argues that the concept of the highest good is (...) of systematic importance in Kierkegaard, although previous research has tended to overlook this, no doubt due to Kierkegaard’s cryptic use of the concept. It is argued that Kierkegaard’s concept of the highest good is much closer to Kant’s than what previous research has indicated. In particular, Kant and Kierkegaard see the highest good not only as comprising of virtue and happiness (bliss), but also as being the Kingdom of God. (shrink)
‘Good’ is nothing specific but is transcendentally or generally applied over specific, and specified, ‘categories’. These ‘categories’ may be seen—at least for the purposes of this note—as under Platonic Forms. The rule that instances under a category or form need a Form to be under is valid. It may be tautological: but this is OK for rules. Not being specific, however, ‘good’ neither needs nor can have a specifying Form. So, on these grounds, the Form of the (...) class='Hi'>Good is otious. Any rule of the kind, ‘Everything needs a Form, so good needs a Form of the Good’ is mistaken, in that good is not a kind, but a transcendental. To give a Form to the transcendental ‘good’ is a mistake: it is a Rylian category mistake. And the Form of the Good either does no work, or works unprofitably in any but an aesthetic sense. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that mental disorder is a valid concept only in so far as it is an extension of or continuous with the concept of physical disorder. A valid extension has to meet two criteria: determination and coherence. Essentialists meet these criteria through necessary and sufficient conditions for being a disorder. Two Wittgensteinian alternatives to essentialism are considered and assessed against the two criteria. These are the family resemblance approach and the secondary sense approach. Where the focus (...) is solely on the characteristics or attributes of things, both these approaches seem to fail to meet the criteria for valid extension. However, this focus on attributes is mistaken. The criteria for valid extension are met in the case of family resemblance by the pattern of characteristics associated with a concept, and by the limits of intelligibility of applying a concept. Secondary sense, though it may have some claims to be a good account of the relation between physical and mental disorder, cannot claim to meet the two criteria of valid extension. (shrink)
We are living in an era when the focus of human relationships with the world is shifting from execution and physical impact to control and cognitive/informational interaction. This emerging, increasingly informational world is our new ecology, an infosphere that presents the grounds for a cognitive revolution based on interactions in networks of biological and artificial, intelligent agents. After the industrial revolution, which extended the human body through mechanical machinery, the cognitive revolution extends the human mind/cognition through information-processing machinery. These novel (...) circumstances come with new qualities and preferences demanding new conceptualizations. We have some work ahead of us to establish value systems and practices extended from the real to the increasingly virtual/info-computational. This paper first presents a current view of the virtual versus the real and then offers an interpretation framework based on an info-computational understanding of cognition in which agency implies computational processing of informational structures of the world as an infosphere. The notion of “good life” is discussed in light of different ideals of well-being in the infosphere, connecting virtuality as a space of potential and alternative worlds for an agent for whom the reality is a space of actual experiences, in the sense of Deleuze. Even though info-computational framework enables us to see both the real world and the diversity of virtual worlds in terms of computational processes on informational structures, based on a distinct layered cognitive architecture of all physical agents, there is clear difference between potential worlds of the virtual and actual agent’s experiences made in the real. Info-computationalism enables insight into the mechanisms of infosphere and elucidates its importance as cognitively predominant environment and communication media. The conclusion is that by cocooning ourselves in an elaborate info-computational infrastructure of the virtual, we may be increasingly isolating ourselves from the reality of direct experience of the world. The biggest challenges of the cognitive revolution may not be technological but ethical. They are about the nature of being human and its values. (shrink)
Maimonides expresses the view that being is goodness; evil is a deprivation of being and goodness. This view is prominent in Neoplatonism but has strong roots in Aristotle as well. While Maimonides problematizes moral language of good and evil, he makes use of an ontological sense of Necessary Existence as the absolute good. Plotinus wrote that beings are the beautiful. Avicenna adds that the pure good is Necessary Existence, which is free of deficiency, as it has (...) no possibility of lacking existence. This notion has a strong Aristotelian core. Despite his strictures on language about the divine, Maimonides allows himself to express this vision—an affective-aesthetic appreciation as well as a purely cognitive one. Being is the absolute good, the source of ontological beauty and value. (shrink)
In genomic research the ideal standard of free, informed, prior, and explicit consent is believed to restrict important research studies. For certain types of genomic research other forms of consent are therefore proposed which are ethically justified by an appeal to the common good. This notion is often used in a general sense and this forms a weak basis for the use of weaker forms of consent. Here we examine how the notion of the common good can (...) be related to individual health, health care, and genomic research and we use this analysis to propose more precise criteria to justify forms of consent which diverge from the ideal standard. (shrink)
Is it a good time to be alive? Is ours a good society to be alive in? Is it possible to have a good life in our time? And finally, does a good life consist of having a good time? Are happiness and “a good life” interchangeable? These are the questions that Mortimer Adler addresses himself to. The heart of the book lies in its conception of the good life for man, which provides (...) the standard for measuring a century, a society, or a culture: for upon that turns the meaning of each man’s primary moral right – his right to the pursuit of happiness. The moral philosophy that Dr. Adler expounds in terms of this conception he calls “the ethics of common sense,” because it is as a defense and development of the common-sense answer to the question “can I really make a good life for myself?”. (shrink)
Olfactory perception appears to be linked to personality traits. This study aimed to determine whether personality traits influence human attitudes toward sense of smell. Two-hundred participants’ attitudes toward their senses of smell and their personality traits were measured using two self-administered questionnaires: the Importance of Olfaction Questionnaire and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R). Demographics and olfactory function were also assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. Gender-induced differences were present in attitudes toward sense of smell. Women participants were more dependent (...) than men participants on olfactory cues for daily decision-making. In addition, as participants evaluated their own olfactory functions more positively, they relied more on olfactory information in everyday life. To determine a relationship between personality traits and attitudes toward sense of smell, Spearman partial correlation analyses were conducted with controlling the factors that might influence attitudes with respect to sense of smell (i.e., gender and self-awareness of olfactory function) as covariates. Participants who scoring high in lie-scale (i.e., socially desirable and faking good) tended to use olfactory cues both for daily decision-making related to social communication and product purchase. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate a significant association between personality traits and attitudes toward sense of smell. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, for Spinoza, the power to produce effects through one's nature alone is the key constituent of the good life. Indeed, to exist in the strict sense is to be the causal source of effects. On this reading, a temporally long life that is entirely governed by causal factors external to one's essence is not a genuine existence.
What account of evaluative expressions, such as ‘is beautiful’, ‘is generous’ or ‘is good’, should a Fregean adopt? Given Frege’s claim that predicates can have both a sense and a reference in addition to their extension, an interesting range of only partially explored theoretical possibilities opens to Frege and his followers. My intention here is to briefly present these putative possibilities and explore one of them, namely David Wiggins’ claim that evaluative predicates refer to non-natural concepts and have (...) a sense which is sentiment-involving. In order to defend this claim against objections which aim at showing that evaluative concepts do not really exist, I shall suggest that our awareness of evaluative concepts involves affective (or emotive) states. (shrink)
This paper explores the prospects of different forms of moral error theory. It is argued that only a suitably local error theory would make goodsense of the fact that it is possible to give and receive genuinely good moral advice.
Abstract Kung?sun Lung's thesis on ?White Horse [is] not Horse? has been solved by A. C. Graham on the basis of a part/whole logic and by Chad Hansen on that and a ?mass?noun? hypothesis. We present it as a case of reducing White Horse to its two most telling marks and then, on the basis of the goodSense (instead of Reference) in a Negative Logic?the pragmatics of locating X as the remainder left over when all non?X's have (...) been removed?show how a stable hand, receiving an order for White Horse would scan first for Horse by removing all non?horse shapes and then for White by removing all colours except White. This way we can prove how indeed ?A request for White Horse cannot be satisfied by Black and Brown that fills an order for Horse... (because) to exclude some colour [in the second scan] is not the same as to exclude yet no colour [in the first scan].? No part/whole or mass?sum is presumed. The whole discussion is set in the context of shifting criteria for judging name from Confucius to Hsun?tzu. (shrink)
Among Aristotle’s criticisms of the Form of the Good is his claim that the knowledge of such a Good could be of no practical relevance to everyday rational agency, e.g. on the part of craftspeople. This critique turns out to hinge ultimately on the deeply different assumptions made by Plato and Aristotle about the relation of ‘good’ and ‘good for’. Plato insists on the conceptual priority of the former; and Plato wins the argument.
It is now generally understood that constraints play an important role in commonsense moral thinking and generally accepted that they cannot be accommodated by ordinary, traditional consequentialism. Some have seen this as the most conclusive evidence that consequentialism is hopelessly wrong,1 while others have seen it as the most conclusive evidence that moral common sense is hopelessly paradoxical.2 Fortunately, or so it is widely thought, in the last twenty-five years a new research program, that of Agent-Relative Teleology, has come (...) to the rescue on all sides. While consequentialism says that every agent ought always to do that action that will bring about the most good, according to Agent- Relative Teleology. (shrink)
Medieval views of both divine goodness and the doctrine of hell are examined and shown to be incompatible with our best understandings of goodness. The only manner in which God could be good to those in hell – by permitting their continued existence – is not sufficient to outweigh ‘the dreadful pains of eternal fire’. One might claim that God is good to them in the retributive sense; but I argue that retributive punishment is inadequate justification of (...) eternal torment. The medieval notions of goodness and hell seem to make God more a sadistic torturer than a caring parent. Eleonore Stump, accepting the medievals' axiology, ameliorates the doctrine of hell. However, I argue that her Dantean version of hell fails because not to be in certain circumstances is rationally preferable to continued existence. In addition, life under those conditions would result in frustration, not fulfilment, of one's second nature and would result in a progressive loss of being. Indeed, it seems more reasonable to reject the identity of being and goodness which both the medievals and Stump embrace or to accept being as a prima facie good that is defeasible in the face of eternal damnation. (shrink)
Political philosophers have been concerned for some time with the epistemic caliber of the general public, qua the body that is, ultimately, tasked with political decision-making in democratic societies. Unfortunately, the empirical data paints a pretty dismal picture here, indicating that the public tends to be largely ignorant on the issues relevant to governance. To make matters worse, social psychological research on how ignorance tends to breed overconfidence gives us reason to believe that the public will not only lack knowledge (...) on the relevant issues, but also wisdom, in the Socratic sense of an awareness of your ignorance. It might be thought that an obvious remedy would be to increase the knowledge and wisdom of the public. However, as far as sound political decision-making and action is concerned, there is nothing particularly valuable about knowledge or wisdom per se—irrespective of what account of wisdom available in the literature we opt for. In fact, it might just be that what the public needs is nothing but the most basic epistemic good: true belief. (shrink)
Scientists and laypeople alike use the sense of understanding that an explanation conveys as a cue to good or correct explanation. Although the occurrence of this sense or feeling of understanding is neither necessary nor sufficient for good explanation, it does drive judgments of the plausibility and, ultimately, the acceptability, of an explanation. This paper presents evidence that the sense of understanding is in part the routine consequence of two well-documented biases in cognitive psychology: overconfidence (...) and hindsight. In light of the prevalence of counterfeit understanding in the history of science, I argue that many forms of cognitive achievement do not involve a sense of understanding, and that only the truth or accuracy of an explanation make the sense of understanding a valid cue to genuine understanding. (shrink)
People ordinarily make sense of their own behavior and that of others by invoking concepts like belief, desire, and intention. Philosophers refer to this network of concepts and related principles as ‘folk psychology.’ The prevailing view of folk psychology among philosophers of mind and psychologists is that it is a proto-scientific theory whose function is to explain and predict behavior. Recent studies call this view into question by suggesting that moral considerations play an essential role in the application of (...) certain folk-psychological concepts (Knobe 2003a, 2003b, 2004; Knobe & Burra forthcoming; Nadelhoffer forthcoming). If the function of folk psychology were just to predict and explain behavior, moral considerations wouldn’t have any obvious role to play. Since they do play a role, it seems probable that folk psychology has a function other than, or at least in addition to, that of predicting and explaining behavior. It is our assumption—an assumption our interlocutors presumably share—that, since moral considerations play an essential role in the application of certain folk-psychological concepts, getting clear on the nature and extent of this role is indispensable to arriving at a proper understanding of folk psychology. Nadelhoffer’s paper addresses the importance of moral considerations to the application of a specific folk-psychological concept—the concept of intentional action. He is concerned to explain, in particular, why people are more likely to regard a sideeffect of an action as brought about intentionally when that side-effect is harmful than when it is beneficial. His hypothesis is that one’s judgment as to whether a given sideeffect was brought about intentionally is influenced by the amount of praise or blame one assigns. Since people typically blame the agent for bad side-effects but don’t praise the agent for good ones, Nadelhoffer claims, they tend to regard bad side-effects as intentional and good ones as unintentional. (shrink)
Nelkin presents a simple and natural account of freedom and moral responsibility which responds to the great variety of challenges to the idea that we are free and responsible, before ultimately reaffirming our conception of ourselves as agents. Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility begins with a defense of the rational abilities view, according to which one is responsible for an action if and only if one acts with the ability to recognize and act for good reasons. The (...) view is compatibilist -- that is, on the view defended, responsibility is compatible with determinism -- and one of its striking features is a certain asymmetry: it requires the ability to do otherwise for responsibility when actions are praiseworthy, but not when they are blameworthy. In defending and elaborating the view, Nelkin questions long-held assumptions such as those concerning the relation between fairness and blame and the nature of so-called reactive attitudes such as resentment and forgiveness. Her argument not only fits with a metaphysical picture of causation -- agent-causation -- often assumed to be available only to incompatibilist accounts, but receives positive support from the intuitively appealing Ought Implies Can Principle, and establishes a new interpretation of freedom and moral responsibility that dovetails with a compelling account of our inescapable commitments as rational agents. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, on Kant's view, the work of genius serves as a sensible exhibition of the Idea of the highest good. In other words, the work of genius serves as a special sign that the world is hospitable to our moral ends and that the realization of our moral vocation in such a world may indeed be possible. In the first part of the paper, I demonstrate that the purpose of the highest good is (...) not to strengthen our motivation to accept the moral law as binding for us but, rather, to strengthen our motivation to persist in our already existent moral dispositions. In the second part, I show that the works of genius exhibit the Idea of the highest good and, consequently, strengthen our hope in its realization. Drawing on the results of the second part, the third part of the paper demonstrates that beauty, of both art and nature, symbolizes morality in a more substantive sense than that suggested by Henry Allison's “formalistic” interpretation. Since, on my view, fine art in Kant serves as a sensible representation of an undetermined conceptual content, or the Idea of the highest good, the fourth part of the paper addresses the vexed question of whether Kant's account of fine art already anticipates the cognitive role later attributed to it by the German Idealists. (shrink)
Understanding value in terms of fitting attitudes is all the rage these days. According to this fitting attitude analysis of value (FA-analysis for short) what is good is what it is fitting to favour in some sense. Many aspects of the FA-analysis have been discussed. In particular, a lot of discussion has been concerned with the wrong-reason objection: it can be fitting to have an attitude towards something for reasons that have nothing to do with the value the (...) thing has in itself. Much less attention has been paid to the problem of identifying the relevant attitudes in virtue of which value is supposed to be defined. An old complaint, however, is that the FA-analysis is bound to be circular, because the fitting attitude is best seen as an evaluative judgement or an evaluative experience. In this paper, I am arguing that the challenge to find a non-circular account is deepened by the fact that on many popular non-evaluative understandings of favouring, there are good states of affairs that it is never fitting to favour, because it is logically impossible or irrational to favour them. I will also show that the remaining candidate of favouring, 'imaginative emotional feeling', will generate a new version of the wrong-reason objection if it is put to use in the FA-account. I shall conclude that the prospects of finding a non-circular FA-analysis look bleak. (shrink)
Sometimes I despair of my philosophical colleagues. They are so conservative. I don’t mean this in a political sense. In conventional party-political terms, most professional philosophers are probably well to the left of centre. As a group, they have a strong sense of fairness and little commitment to the social status quo. But this political openmindedness doesn’t normally carry over to their day jobs. When it comes to philosophical ideas, they are congenitally suspicious of intellectual innovation. In their (...) eyes, a good philosophical theory is one that agrees with the views found on the Clapham omnibus. Few philosophers, in the English-speaking world at least, think of philosophy as a source of radical new ideas. Rather they view it as way of systematising the everyday reactions of ordinary people. (shrink)
Many Christian philosophers believe that it is a great good that human beings are free to choose between good and evil – so good, indeed, that God is justiﬁed in putting up with a great many evil choices for the sake of it. But many of the same Christian philosophers also believe that God is essentially good – good in every possible world. Unlike his sinful human creatures, God cannot choose between good and evil. (...) In that sense, he is not ‘morally free’. (shrink)
Technologies fulfill a social role in the sense that they influence the moral actions of people, often in unintended and unforeseen ways. Scientists and engineers are already accepting much responsibility for the technological, economical and environmental aspects of their work. This article asks them to take an extra step, and now also consider the social role of their products. The aim is to enable engineers to take a prospective responsibility for the future social roles of their technologies by providing (...) them with a matrix that helps to explore in advance how emerging technologies might plausibly affect the reasons behind people’s (moral) actions. On the horizontal axis of the matrix, we distinguished the three basic types of reasons that play a role in practical judgment: what is the case, what can be done and what should be done. On the vertical axis we distinguished the morally relevant classes of issues: stakeholders, consequences and the good life. To illustrate how this matrix may work in practice, the final section applies the matrix to the case of the Google PowerMeter. (shrink)
The Dalai Lama once wrote that the object of human existence was to be happy. This sounds extremely glib as happiness in the popular imagination is a feeling and in the words of the song 'the greatest gift that we possess'. On the other hand, von Hugel wrote 'Religion has never made me happy;it's no use shutting your eyes to the fact that the deeper you go, the more alone you will find yourself' This small masterpiece by the late Fr (...) Herbert McCabe of the Dominican order steers a steady courss between these two extremes. We feels instinctively that human beings are designed to enjoy themselves and to be happy and yet we are told that suffering is good for the soul. But in the Catholic tradition the true object of human existence is the vision of God and nothing less than this will ever make us truly happy. But Fr McCabe explores much deeper issues. Is Happiness a pleasure or a pain? You hardly know. Certainly it is not a comfort for comfort spells seciurity and hapiness can take you out of yourself to a degree where all secutiry is left behind. Behind a feeling of exultation, you can sense the flame of incandescent terror. This short book is entirely original and will further enhance McCabe's posthumous reputation. (shrink)
What must the world be like, and what must we agents be like, in order to be morally responsible for our actions? In Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility, Dana Nelkin develops and defends what she dubs the ‘rational abilities’ view (RA) of moral responsibility. On this compatibilist view, an agent is morally responsible for an action, in a sense which makes it appropriate to hold her accountable for that action, if she has ‘the ability to do the (...) right thing for the right reasons, or a good thing for good reasons’ (7). The most distinctive features of Nelkin’s view are that (i) the conditions for moral responsibility are asymmetric, (ii) those conditions are compatibilist, that is, consistent with a deterministic world, (iii) in which causal relations hold between substances (rather than events) some of which are agents. An agent exercises her rational abilities when she is determined by her nature to act for certain reasons. (shrink)
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) raises serious moral questions concerning the parent-child relationship. Good parents accept their children unconditionally: they do not reject/attack them because they do not have the features they want. There is nothing wrong with treating a child as someone who can help promote some other worthwhile end, providing the child is also respected as an end in him or herself. However, if the child's presence is not valued in itself, regardless of any further benefits it brings, (...) the child is not being treated as an end in the full sense of the term. In this paper, I argue that these principles apply to human embryos, as well as to born human offspring: the human moral subject is a bodily being, whose interests and rights begin with the onset of his or her bodily life. The rights of the living, bodily human individual include a right not to be attacked/abandoned because of his or her genetic profile. PGD is harmful to the parent-child relationship, and we give mixed messages to parents by expecting them to show unconditional commitment to offspring after birth, while inviting them to take a very different approach at the prenatal stage. (shrink)
What is happiness? How is it related to morality and virtue? Does living with illusion promote or diminish happiness? Is it better to pursue happiness with a partner than alone? Philosopher Mike W. Martin addresses these and other questions as he connects the meaning of happiness with the philosophical notion of "the good life." Defining happiness as loving one's life and valuing it in ways manifested by ample enjoyment and a deep sense of meaning, Martin explores the ways (...) in which happiness interacts with all other dimensions of good lives--in particular with moral decency and goodness, authenticity, mental health, self-fulfillment, and meaningfulness. He interweaves a variety of examples from memoirs, novels, and films along the way, connecting his discussion of the philosophical issues to related topics that interest all of us: virtue, love, philanthropy, suffering, simplicity, balancing work and leisure, and much more. Drawing on wide-ranging and robust evidence, Martin also makes the case that we need a "politics of happiness" whereby government would apply the results of recent "happiness studies" in psychology to public policy. (shrink)
In his recent book The Good in the Right Robert Audi presents one of the most complete contemporary arguments for moral intuitionism. By clearing-out of unnecessary and out-of-date posits and commitments of traditional intuitionist accounts he manages to establish a moderate (and in a sense also minimal) version of intuitionism that can be further developed metaethically (e.g. Kantian intuitionism, value-based intuitionism) as well as normatively (e.g. by varying the list of prima facie duties). Central posits of his study (...) of moral intuitionism are various epistemological commitments, as, for instance, the nature of self-evident moral judgments, intuition and moral knowledge. He usefully distinguishes between two uses/notions of intuitionism in moral philosophy, the epistemological one and the overall one. Epistemological intuitionism is a position claiming that the basic moral beliefs and principles could be known non-inferentially and are justified through their understanding or intuitions. Overall moral intuitionism is built upon three basic features: (a) moral pluralism: there is an irreducible plurality of basic moral commitments (principles, prima facie duties); (b) each of the principles aims to a different kind of ground for action that underlies e.g. the prima facie duty in question and is epistemically accessible to ordinary moral agents; and (c) each moral principle is in some sense intuitively known by those who adequately understand it. (Audi 2004, 21) W. D. Ross's ethics is a paradigm case of the latter position, while other prominent representatives of either epistemological or overall intuitionism are H. Sidgwick, G. E. Moore, H. A. Prichard, C. D. Broad, and A. C. Ewing. (shrink)