Moral reasoning is individual or collective practical reasoning about what, morally, one ought to do. Philosophical examination of moral reasoning faces both distinctive puzzles — about how we recognize moral considerations and cope with conflicts among them and about how they move us to act — and distinctive opportunities for gleaning insight about what we ought to do from how we reason about what we ought to do.
This paper develops and explores the idea of moral entanglements: the ways in which, through innocent transactions with others, we can unintendedly accrue special obligations to them. More particularly, the paper explains intimacy-based moral entanglements, to which we become liable by accepting another's waiver of privacy rights. Sometimes, having entered into others' private affairs for innocent or even helpful reasons, one discovers needs of theirs that then become the focus of special duties of care. The general duty to warn them (...) of their need cannot directly account for the full extent of these duties, but does indicate why a silent retreat is impermissible. The special duties of care importantly rest on a transfer of responsibilities that accompanies the privacy waivers. The result is a special obligation of beneficence that, while grounded in a voluntary transaction, was never voluntarily undertaken. Impartialist views of beneficence cannot capture the relevant phenomena well. (shrink)
As part of the conference commemorating Theoria's 75th anniversary, a round table discussion on philosophy publishing was held in Bergendal, Sollentuna, Sweden, on 1 October 2010. Bengt Hansson was the chair, and the other participants were eight editors-in-chief of philosophy journals: Hans van Ditmarsch (Journal of Philosophical Logic), Pascal Engel (Dialectica), Sven Ove Hansson (Theoria), Vincent Hendricks (Synthese), Søren Holm (Journal of Medical Ethics), Pauline Jacobson (Linguistics and Philosophy), Anthonie Meijers (Philosophical Explorations), Henry S. Richardson (Ethics) and Hans Rott (Erkenntnis).
This review essay on three recent books on John Rawls’s theory of justice, by Catherine Audard, Samuel Freeman, and Thomas Pogge, describes the great boon they offer serious students of Rawls. They form a united front in firmly and definitively rebuffing Robert Nozick’s libertarian critique, Michael Sandel’s communitarian critique, and more generally critiques of “neutralist liberalism,” as well as in affirming the basic unity of Rawls’s position. At a deeper level, however, they diverge, and in ways that, this essay suggests, (...) go astray on subtle questions of interpretation: Freeman overemphasizes reciprocity, Pogge miscasts Rawls as a consequentialist, and Audard exaggerates the Kantian aspect of Rawls’s core, continuing commitment to “doctrinal autonomy.”. (shrink)
Recent work on incidental fndings, concentrating on the difcult problems posed by the ambiguous results often generated by high-tech medicine, has proceeded largely independently from recent work on medical researchers' ancillary-care obligations, the obligations that researchers have to deal with diseases or conditions besides the one(s) under study. This paper contends that the two topics are morally linked, and specifcally that a sound understanding of ancillary-care obligations will center them on incidental fndings. The paper sets out and defends an understanding (...) of ancillary-care obligations, which is based on the idea that when participants signed up for a study they may — independently of their beliefs and expectations and of those of the researchers — be taken to have partially entrusted certain aspects of their health into the researchers' hands. This partial-entrustment model of ancillary-care obligations, in turn, has substantive implications for how to deal ethically with incidental fndings; for instance, it suggests that researchers have no moral obligation to hunt for incidental fndings. (shrink)
A Theory of Freedom and Government has provided a systematic basis for republican theory in the idea of freedom as non-domination. Can a pure republican view, which confines itself to the normative resources thus afforded, adequately address the full range of issues of social justice? This article argues that while there are many sorts of structural injustice with which a pure republican view can well cope, unfair disparities in political influence, of the kind that Rawls labeled failures of the fair (...) value of the equal political liberties, cannot be well addressed by a pure republican view. In arguing the point, the article assesses the reach not only of the core ideal of freedom as non-domination itself, but also of three further layers in Pettits republican theory: its suggestion that domination is to be minimized, its account of a set of institutions needed to restrict domination, and its requirement that, to prevent governments from having the power to act arbitrarily and so to dominate, they be made responsive to the common good. Some of these further conceptual resources are shown to be of no help in addressing unfair disparities in political influence, while the ones that are promising are so only because they rely on distinctively liberal ideals, and so depart from a pure republican basis. Key Words: republicanism liberalism justice common good non-domination fair value Philip Pettit John Rawls. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum has powerfully argued in Frontiers ofJustice and elsewhere that John Rawls’s sort of social-contract theory cannot usefully be deployed to deal with issues pertaining to justice for the disabled. To counter this claim, this article deploys Rawls’s sort of social-contract theory in order to deal with issues pertaining to justice for the disabled—or, since, as Nussbaum stresses, we all have some degree of disability—for the severely disabled. In this way, rather than questioning one by one Nussbaum’s interpretive claims (...) about Rawls’s view, one can simply see how the Rawlsian framework can work in application to this issue. Following Rawls’s lead, the paper utilizes the idealized “initial choice situation” as an analytic and comparative device for examining alternative principles of justice, developing three different interpretations of the initial choice situation that each correspond to a different set of principles that apply to people of all levels of disability. One of these sets of principles is a simple extension of Rawls’s, one is very close to what Nussbaum herself recommends, and the third is a kind of hybrid. In this way, it is shown not only that Rawls’s social-contract device can usefully be applied to these issues, but also that it is helpful for exploring the deep commitments underlying each of these competing sets of principles. (shrink)
The notion that it is useful to specify norms progressively in order to resolve doubts about what to do, which I developed initially in a 1990 article, has been only partly assimilated by the bioethics literature. The thought is not just that it is helpful to work with relatively specific norms. It is more than that: specification can replace deductive subsumption and balancing. Here I argue against two versions of reliance on balancing that are prominent in recent bioethical discussions. Without (...) meaning to address the substance or the overall merits of either view I criticize, I attack Gert, Culver and Clouser's implicit reliance on some overall dimension of balancing as a basis of resolving conflicts among norms and Beauchamp and Childress's residual acceptance of 'justified balancing'. The former authors' description of resolving conflicts depends upon a type of value commensurability that (as they otherwise seem to admit) does not obtain, while the latter authors' role for justified balancing would be better served by continued specification. (shrink)
Henry Richardson argues that we can determine our ends rationally. He constructs a rich and original theory of how we can reason about our final goals. Richardson defuses the counter-arguments for the limits of rational deliberation, and develops interesting ideas about how his model might be extended to interpersonal deliberation of ends, taking him to the borders of political theory. Along the way Richardson offers illuminating discussions of, inter alia, Aristotle, Aquinas, Sidgwick, and Dewey, as well as the work of (...) several contemporary philosophers. (shrink)
This article develops a uniform interpretation of "pursuit for the sake of an end", explaining what an "unqualified final" end (sought solely for its own sake) offers that a (merely) final one does not and providing an improved account of what Aristotle means by an "ultimate end". This interpretation sheds light on (1) the regress argument at the outset of "N.E." I.2, (2) the way Aristotle argues for the existence of a highest good, (3) the special contribution of "self-sufficiency" (autarkeia) (...) within that good, and (4) the potential flexibility of Aristotle's view about the content of the highest good. (shrink)