An international line-up of fourteen distinguished philosophers presents new essays in honor of JamesGriffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University. The essays take up topics relating to well-being and morality, prominent themes in contemporary ethics and particularly in Griffin's work. Griffin himself provides replies to these essays, offering a fascinating development of his own thinking on these topics.
This volume in honor of Miriam Griffin brings together seventeen international specialists. Their essays range from Socrates to late antiquity, with a particular focus on Cicero. Subjects covered include the Stoics and Cynics, Roman law, the formulation of imperial power, Jews and Christians, "performance philosophy," Augustine, late Platonism, and women philosophers.
JamesGriffin asks how, and how much, we can improve our ethical standards not lift our behaviour closer to our standards but refine the standards themselves. To give an answer to this question it is necessary to answer most of the questions of ethics. So Value Judgement includes discussion of what a good life is like, where the boundaries of the `natural world' come, how values relate to that world, how great human capacitiesthe ones important to ethicsare, and (...) where moral norms come from. -/- Throughout the book the question of what philosophy can contribute to ethics repeatedly arises. Philosophical traditions, such as most forms of utilitarianism and deontology and virtue ethics, are, Griffin contends, too ambitious. Ethics cannot be what philosophers in those traditions expect it to be because agents cannot be what their philosophies need them to be. -/- This clear, compelling, and original account of ethics will be of interest to anyone concerned with thinking about values: not only philosophers but legal, political, and economic theorists as well. L. (shrink)
"Well-being," "welfare," "utility," and "quality of life," all closely related concepts, are at the center of morality, politics, law, and economics. Griffin's book, while primarily a volume of moral philosophy, is relevant to all of these subjects. Griffin offers answers to three central questions about well-being: what is the best way to understand it, can it be measured, and where should it fit in moral and political thought. With its breadth of investigation and depth of insight, this work (...) holds significance for philosophers as well as for those interested in political and economic theory and jurisprudence. (shrink)
For this Clarendon Paperback, Dr Griffin has written a new Postscript to bring the original book fully up to date. She discusses further important and controversial questions of fact or interpretation in the light of the scholarship of the intervening years and provides additional argument where necessary. -/- The connection between Seneca's prose works and his career as a first-century Roman statesman is problematic. Although he writes in the first person, he tells us little of his external life or (...) of the people and events that formed its setting. Miriam Griffin addresses the problem by first reconstructing Seneca's career using only outside sources and his de Clementia and Apocolocyntosis, whose political purposes are undisputed. In the second part of the book she studies Seneca's treatment of subjects of political significance, including his views on slavery, provincial policy, wealth, and suicide. On the whole, the word of the philosopher is found to illuminate the work of the statesman, but notable exceptions emerge, and the links that are revealed vary from theme to theme and rarely accord with traditional autobiographical interpretations of Seneca's works. (shrink)
The article tries to qualify the contentious issue of whetherthere is a human right to welfare. Our notion of human rightsis practically without criteria for distinguishing between whenit is used correctly and when incorrectly. The first step inany satisfactory resolution of the issue about welfare rightsis to supply duly determinate criteria. I then consider thechief reasons for doubting that there is a human right towelfare, in the light of what seem to be, all things considered,the best criteria to attach to (...) the notion of a human right. (shrink)
The best philosophical account of human rights regards them as protections of the values we attach to human agency. The international law of human rights is embodied in a large number of declarations, conventions, covenants, charters, and judicial decisions. There are many discrepancies between the lists of human rights that emerge from these two authoritative sources. This lecture explores the significance of these discrepancies.
This review of Bolton & Hill's (B&H) Mind, Meaning, & Mental Disorder examines their non-reductionist yet realist position on mental content. Their arguments are compared to the writings of Dennett and Millikan, where determining function is central to determining information-processing capabilities. The normative nature of function (malfunction) is considered as is its relation to mental states more broadly. Their Wittgensteinian view of meaning as action is accepted as insightful and useful, though some questions remain about their theory of meaning and (...) its applicability to psychological phenomena. (shrink)
The mutual interaction of philosophy and Roman political and cultural life has aroused more and more interest in recent years among students of classical literature, Roman history, and ancient philosophy. In this volume, which gathers together some of the papers originally delivered at a series of seminars in the University of Oxford, scholars from all three disciplines explore the role of Platonism and Aristotelianism in Roman intellectual, cultural, and political life from the second century BC to the third century AD.
In recent years, the mutual interaction between philosophy and Roman political and cultural life has aroused much interest. In this collection of papers, originally delivered at the seminar on Philosophy and Roman Society at the University of Oxford, scholars from several disciplines investigate this interaction in the late Republic and early Empire, with particular emphasis on the formative period of the first century B.C. The book presents chapters on key digures such as Posidonius, Antiochus of Ascalon, Philodemus, Lucretius, Cicero, and (...) Plutarch, as well as general essays on "Philosophy, Politics, and Politicians at Rome", and "Roman Rulers and the Philosophic Adviser," with contributions from Julia Annas, P.A. Brunt, David Sedley, and others. (shrink)
Based on Davenport’s (1998) social audit, we examined six firms’ corporate social responsibility activities within the beer industry in an effort to identify and compare these firms’ industry social standing. The results have implications in our understanding and assessment of corporate citizenship practices both within and across business industry groups.
Imagine playing a game of chess with such poorly carved pieces that it is well nigh impossible to tell the difference between them. The bishops, knights, pawns, etc., are, by your lights, perceptually indistinguishable. Imagine still that your opponent can see these differences quite clearly, much to your dismay. You might be able to begin the game with a memorized opening, perhaps, but it wouldn’t take long to lose track of the ongoings and your resignation would soon follow. It’s not (...) a fair game, to be.. (shrink)
Rather than to focus upon a particular ‘right to life’, we should consider what rights there are pertaining to our lives and to our living. There are different sorts. There are, for instance, rights that constitute absences of particular duties and rights that correspond to the duties of other agents or agencies. There are also natural and non-natural rights and duties. Different people in different contexts can have different moral duties and different moral rights including rights to life. The question (...) of the moral rights there are to and pertaining to life is considered with reference to JamesGriffin’s account of human rights. Also considered is the question of who or what can be a bearer of them. (shrink)
Does human well-being consist in pleasure, the satisfaction of desires, or some set of goods such as knowledge, friendship, and accomplishment? Does being moral contribute to well-being, and is there a conflict between people's self-interest and the moral demands on them? Are the values of well-being and of morality measurable? Are such values objective? What is the relation between such values and the natural world? And how much can philosophical theory help us in our answers to these and similar questions? (...) Issues such as these provide the focus for much of the work of JamesGriffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, in whose honour Well-Being and Morality has been prepared. They are also among the main topics of these fourteen new essays by an international array of leading philosophers. Professor Griffin himself provides a further discussion of central themes in his thought, specially written in response to contributions to this volume. (shrink)
Despite the prevalence of human rights discourse, the very idea or concept of a human right remains obscure. In particular, it is unclear what is supposed to be special or distinctive about human rights. In this paper, we consider two recent attempts to answer this challenge, JamesGriffin’s “personhood account” and Charles Beitz’s “practice-based account”, and argue that neither is entirely satisfactory. We then conclude with a suggestion for what a more adequate account might look like – what (...) we call the “structural pluralist account” of human rights. (shrink)
The distinguished theologian, David Ray Griffin, has advanced a set of thirteen theses intended to characterize (what he calls) “Neo-Darwinism” and which he contrasts with “Intelligent Design”. Griffin maintains that Neo-Darwinism is “atheistic” in forgoing a creator but suggests that, by adopting a more modest scientific naturalism and embracing a more naturalistic theology, it is possible to find “a third way” that reconciles religion and science. The considerations adduced here suggest that Griffin has promised more than he (...) can deliver. On his account, God is in laws of nature; therefore, any influence He exerts is natural rather than supernatural. But if the differences God makes are not empirically detectable, then Griffin’s account is just as objectionable as a theory of supernatural intervention. And Griffin has not shown that evolution as distinct from his idiosyncratic sense of Neo-Darwinism is incompatible with theism. (shrink)
This paper examines the long dialogue between Africana phenomenology and Africana feminism. In particular, it examines the exchanges between WEB Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Lewis Gordon and Sylvia Wynter on the one hand, and a number of black feminists on the other, including bell hooks, Natasha Barnes, Farrah Griffin, and Joy James. The primary outcome of the survey of these exchanges is that the pro-feminist spaces created by black male phenomenologists have all been insufficient for the full representation (...) of the black female voice. In the words of Sylvia Wynter, such a full representation can only come through "a feminism in its own name". (shrink)
What grounds human rights? How do we determine that something is a human right? JamesGriffin has persuasively argued that the notion of agency should determine the content of human rights. However, Griffin's agency account faces the question of why agency should be the sole ground for human rights. For example, can Griffin's notion of agency by itself adequately explain such human rights as that against torture? Or, has Griffin offered a plausible explanation as to (...) why one should not broaden the ground for human rights to include other elements of a good life such as freedom from great pain, understanding, deep personal relations, and so on? These concerns have been raised regarding Griffin's agency account, but in his new book, On Human Rights , Griffin has offered new arguments in support of his view that agency is the sole ground for human rights. In this paper, I examine these new arguments, and I argue that Griffin's arguments are ultimately unsuccessful. (shrink)
There has been growing interest in, and scholarly attention to, issues and questions that arise within the subject matter domain we may call "human rights theory". See, in particular, Amartya Sen, "Elements of a Theory of Human Rights," 32 Philosophy & Public Affairs 315 (2004); James W. Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights (rev. ed. 2006); Michael J. Perry, Toward a Theory of Human Rights: Religion, Law, Courts (2007); JamesGriffin, On Human Rights (2008); Nicholas Wolterstorff, Justice: (...) Rights and Wrongs (2008). This essay - a version of which will appear in a multi-authored collection of essays to be published by Oxford University Press in 2009 - is intended as a contribution to human rights theory. These are the principal questions, or sets of questions, I address in the essay:1. What is the morality of human rights - by which I mean the morality that, according to the International Bill of Human Rights, is the principal warrant for the law of human rights?2. How does the morality of human rights warrant the law of human rights?3. Some human-rights-claims are legal claims, but some are moral claims, and some are both. What does a human-rights-claim of the legal sort mean? A human-rights-claim of the moral sort? And when does it make sense to think of a right that only some human beings have - children, for example - as a human right?4. Is there a plausible secular ground for the morality of human rights?5. At the end of the proverbial day, what difference does it make - why should we care - if there is no plausible secular ground for the morality of human rights?Comments and questions welcome. (shrink)
It is a crucial question whether practicalities should have an impact in developing an applicable theory of human rights—and if, how (far) such constraints can be justified. In the course of the non-ideal turn of today’s political philosophy, any entitlements (and social entitlements in particular) stand under the proviso of practical feasibility. It would, after all, be unreasonable to demand something which is, under the given political and economic circumstances, unachievable. Thus, many theorist—particularly those belonging to the liberal camp—begin to (...) question the very idea of social human rights on grounds of practical infeasibility. This new minimalism about human rights motivates an immanent critique arguing that even if we were to proceed from a liberal framework, we would still wind up with a justification of the full list of social human rights. In the first part of this article, I will present the central positions of the debate presented by Amartya Sen, Maurice Cranston and Pablo Gilabert. Initially arguing that a minimalism of human rights on grounds of practical infeasibility alone proves unjustifiable, however, I shall open up two further perspectives, which allow practical infeasibilities to become normatively determinate. Discussing contributions by JamesGriffin and Charles Beitz, I will defend the thesis that certain feasibility constraints on (social) human rights can be justified on the condition that they are grounded either in a normative idea of the appropriate implementation of these rights or in reflection of the practical function of a theory of human rights. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there is no moral justification for the conviction that rights should be reserved to humans. In particular, I reject JamesGriffin’s view on the moral relevance of the cultural dimension of humanity. Drawing from the original notion of individual right introduced in the Middle Ages and the development of this notion in the eighteenth century, I emphasise that the practice of according rights is justified by the interest in safeguarding the powers of (...) reason and autonomy that some individuals can exercise. Since we are in no position to rule out that non-humans can exercise these capacities, I conclude that rights should not be reserved to humans. This will lead to a reformulation of the reasons why so-called ‘marginal’ humans and non-human animals can be granted some basic rights. Being human is neither necessary nor sufficient for holding rights. All individuals, human or non-human, who can exercise reason and autonomy to some extent can be accorded basic rights in virtue of their having morally relevant preferences. (shrink)
Axiomatic utility theory plays a foundational role in some accounts of normative principles. In this context, it is sometimes argued that transitivity of “better than” is a logical truth. Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels use various examples to argue that “better than” is non–transitive, and that transitivity is not a logical truth. These examples typically involve some sort of “discontinuity.” In his discussion of one of these examples, John Broome suggests that we should reject the claim which involves “discontinuity.” We (...) can, I suggest, make sense of the examples which Temkin uses while sacrificing neither transitivity nor “discontinuity.” This response to Temkin's examples involves developing and modifying JamesGriffin's account of “discontinuity.” If the account of “discontinuity” seems implausible, that is because of a failure to allow for vagueness. A similar argument can be made in the context of the well-known “repugnant conclusion.” Footnotes1 This paper emerged from a discussion in one of John Broome's seminars. I am very grateful to John Broome, Erik Carlson, JamesGriffin, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Stuart Rachels, and Larry Temkin for allowing me to read various forthcoming manuscripts which are mentioned in the paper. I am also extremely grateful to Gustaf Arrhenius, Walter Bossert, Luc Bovens, John Broome, Richard Cookson, Robin Cubitt, JamesGriffin, Graham Loomes, Ben McQuillin, Shepley Orr, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Stuart Rachels, Bob Sugden, and two anonymous referees for comments on earlier versions. Any errors or omissions are mine. (shrink)
According to a standard picture, for any two comparable objects and a basis for comparison, either one is greater than the other or they are equal with respect to the basis. This picture has been called the Trichotomy Thesis, and although it is intuitive and plausible, it has been called into question by such philosophers as Derek Parfit, JamesGriffin, Joseph Raz, and Ruth Chang. Changâs discussion is particularly rich, for she proposes and provides a detailed account of (...) a possible fourth relation that, she argues, provides a satisfying explanation of hard cases of comparison. In this paper, I will examine a version of the main argument against the Trichotomy Thesis and attempt to show that it is unsound. (shrink)
JamesGriffin (1986, 1997, 2000) and Ruth Chang (1997) have argued that alternatives (and values) can be comparable when it is neither true that one is better than the other, nor true that they are exactly equal in value. The relation which holds between them has gone under various names: the alternatives are ‘roughly equal in value’ (Griffin) or ‘on a par’ (Chang). In this paper, I give a formal analysis of this relation. This analysis allows us (...) to distinguish between two slightly different notions of ‘at least as good as’. It is argued that the distinction between these notions is important for discussions of rationality, as is the distinction between ‘rough equality’ or ‘parity’ and incomparability. (shrink)
The vagueness view holds that when evaluative comparisons are hard, there is indeterminacy about which comparative relation holds. It is sceptical about whether there are any incommensurate items (in some domain). The sceptical element of John Broome’s version of this view rests on a controversial principle. Robert Sugden advances a similar view which does not depend on this principle. Sugden’s argument fails as a vagueness view because it assumes rather than shows that there are no incommensurate items (in some domain). (...) Nonetheless, I argue that an interpretation of his argument constitutes a defensible vagueness view which is supported by intuition about examples. On this interpretation Sugden’s view can be mapped onto Broome’s application of a supervaluationist view of vagueness. It is also (on this reading) a close relative of JamesGriffin’s ‘rough equality’ view when this is interpreted in terms of vagueness. On an alternative interpretation Sugden’s view is not sceptical about incommensurateness. On this interpretation he does not defend a vagueness view and is ‘sceptical’ about the contribution of the philosophical literature to our understanding of rational choice. (shrink)
Although the value of health is universally agreed upon, its definition is not. Both the WHO and the UN define health in terms of well-being. They advocate a globally shared responsibility that all of us — states, international organizations, pharmaceutical corporations, civil society, and individuals — bear for the health (that is, the well-being) of the world's population. In this paper I argue that this current well-being conception of health is troublesome. Its problem resides precisely in the fact that the (...) well-being conception of health, as an all-encompassing label, does not properly distinguish between the different realities of health and the different demands of justice, which arise in each case. In addressing responsibilities related to the right to health, we need to work with a more differentiated vocabulary, which can account for these different realities. A crucial distinction to bear in mind, for the purposes of moral deliberation and the crafting of political and legal institutions, is the difference between basic and non-basic health needs. This distinction is crucial because we have presumably more stringent obligations and rights in relation to human needs that are basic, as they justify stronger moral claims, than those grounded on non-basic human needs. It is important to keep this moral distinction in mind because many of the world's problems regarding the right to health relate to basic health needs. By conflating these needs with less essential ones, we risk confusing different types of moral claims and weakening the overall case for establishing duties regarding the right to health. There is, therefore, a practical need to reevaluate the current normative conception of health so that it distinguishes, within the broad scope of well-being, between what is basic and what is not. My aim here is to shed light onto this distinction and to show the need for this differentiation. I do so, first, by providing, on the basis of David Miller's concept of basic needs, an account of basic health needs and, secondly, by mounting a defense of the basic needs approach to the right to health, arguing against JamesGriffin who opposes the basic needs approach. (shrink)