Some moral disagreements are so persistent that we suspect they are deep: we would disagree even when we have all relevant information and no one makes any mistakes (this is also known as faultless disagreement). The possibility of deep disagreement is thought to drive cognitivists toward relativism, but most cognitivists reject relativism. There is an alternative. According to divergentism, cognitivists can reject relativism while allowing for deep disagreement. This view has rarely been defended at length, but many philosophers have implicitly (...) endorsed its elements. I will defend it. (shrink)
The worst possible way to resolve this issue is to leave it up to individual choice. There is no known social good coming from the conquest of death (Bailey, 1999). - Daniel Callahan Dramatically extending the human lifespan seems increasingly possible. Many bioethicists object that life-extension will have Malthusian consequences as new Methuselahs accumulate, generation by generation. I argue for a Life-Years Response to the Malthusian Objection. If even a minority of each generation chooses life-extension, denying it to them deprives (...) them of many years of extra life, and their total extra life-years are likely to exceed the total life-years of a majority who do not want life-extension. This is a greater harm to those who want extended life than the Malthusian harms to those who refuse extended life, both because losing an extra year of life is worse than enduring a year of Malthusian conditions, and because the would-be Methuselahs have more life-years at stake. Therefore, even if life-extension seems likely to cause severe overcrowding and resource shortages, that threat is not sufficient to justify society in restricting the development or availability of life-extension. (shrink)
Moral and legal judgments sometimes depend on personal traits in this sense: the subject offers good reasons for her judgment, but if she had a different social or ideological background, her judgment would be different. If you would judge the constitutionality of restrictions on abortion differently if you were not a secular liberal, is your judgment really based on the arguments you find convincing, or do you find them so only because you are a secular liberal? I argue that a (...) judgment can be based on the considerations the subject claims as justification even when it depends on personal traits. (shrink)
It is a guilty secret that many college professors sell the complimentary desk copies that they receive from textbook publishers for cash. This article attempts to shed light on the undercover practice by looking at the resale of complimentary textbooks by faculty from four perspectives. Part One provides an overview of the college textbook industry, the business reasons that motivate publishers to provide complimentary desk copies to faculty, and the economic consequences of the entry of the textbooks into the used (...) book market. Part Two examines the legal characteristics of complimentary desk copies in terms of their ownership and any contractual duties that may arise from their receipt. Part Three looks at legislative efforts to curb the practice, and Part Four reviews university policies addressing the issue. In Part Five, the ethical implications of faculty selling desk copies are examined, with a special focus on this practice in a business school. The Conclusion considers the future of the sale of complimentary copies in light of the move to e-books and other initiatives by authors and textbook publishers to circumvent the practice. (shrink)
We sometimes decide what to do by applying moral principles to cases, but this is harder than it looks. Principles are more general than cases, and sometimes it is hard to tell whether and how a principle applies to a given case. Sometimes two conflicting principles seem to apply to the same case. To handle these problems, we use a kind of judgment to ascertain whether and how a principle applies to a given case, or which principle to follow when (...) two principles seem to conflict. But what do we discern when we make such judgments—that is, what makes such judgments correct? The obvious answer is that they are made correct by whatever makes other moral judgments correct. However, that cannot be right, for a principle can be inconsistent with morality yet still apply in a particular way to a given case. If the principle is inconsistent with morality, then morality cannot be what we discern when we judge whether and how that principle applies to a given case. I offer an alternative account of what makes such judgments correct. (shrink)
Moral decision procedures such as principlism or casuistry require intuition at certain junctures, as when a principle seems indeterminate, or principles conflict, or we wonder which paradigm case is most relevantly similar to the instant case. However, intuitions are widely thought to lack epistemic justification, and many ethicists urge that such decision procedures dispense with intuition in favor of forms of reasoning that provide discursive justification. I argue that discursive justification does not eliminate or minimize the need for intuition, or (...) constrain our intuitions. However, this is not a problem, for intuitions can be justified in easy or obvious cases, and decision procedures should be understood as heuristic devices for reaching judgments about harder cases that approximate the justified intuitions we would have about cases under ideal conditions, where hard cases become easy. Similarly, the forms of reasoning which provide discursive justification help decision procedures perform this heuristic function not by avoiding intuition, but by making such heuristics more accurate. Nonetheless, it is possible to demand too much justification; many clinical ethicists lack the time and philosophical training to reach the more elaborate levels of discursive justification. We should keep moral decision procedures simple and user-friendly so that they will provide what justification can be achieved under clinical conditions, rather than trying to maximize our epistemic justification out of an overstated concern about intuition. (shrink)
Honoring a living will typically involves treating an incompetent patient in accord with preferences she once had, but whose objects she can no longer understand. How do we respect her precedent autonomy by giving her what she used to want? There is a similar problem with subsequent consent: How can we justify interfering with someone''s autonomy on the grounds that she will later consent to the interference, if she refuses now?Both problems arise on the assumption that, to respect someone''s autonomy, (...) any preferences we respect must be among that person''s current preferences. I argue that this is not always true. Just as we can celebrate an event long after it happens, so can we respect someone''s wishes long before or after she has that wish. In the contexts of precedent autonomy and subsequent consent, the wishes are often preferences about which of two other, conflicting preferences to satisfy. When someone has two conflicting preferences, and a third preference on how to resolve that conflict, to respect his autonomy we must respect that third preference. People with declining competence may have a resolution preference earlier, favoring the earlier conflicting preference (precedent autonomy), whereas those with rising competence may have it later, favoring the later conflicting preference (subsequent consent). To respect autonomy in such cases we must respect not a current, but a former or later preference. (shrink)
Patients sometimes request procedures their doctors find morally objectionable. Do doctors have a right of conscientious refusal? I argue that conscientious refusal is justified only if the doctor's refusal does not make the patient worse off than she would have been had she gone to another doctor in the first place. From this approach I derive conclusions about the duty to refer and facilitate transfer, whether doctors may provide 'moral counseling,' whether doctors are obligated to provide objectionable procedures when no (...) other doctor is available, why the moral consensus among doctors seems relevant even though it does not determine whether something is morally acceptable, and whether doctors should stay out of fields whose standard procedures they find morally unacceptable. (shrink)
Sometimes the mentally ill have sufficient mental capacity to refuse treatment competently, and others have a moral duty to respect their refusal. However, those with episodic mental disorders may wish to precommit themselves to treatment, using Ulysses contracts known as “mental health advance directives.” How can health care providers justify enforcing such contracts over an agent’s current, competent refusal? I argue that providers respect an agent’s autonomy not retrospectively—by reference to his or her past wishes—and not merely synchronically—so that the (...) agent gets what he or she wants right now—but diachronically and prospectively, acting so that the agent can shape his or her circumstances as the agent wishes over time, for the agent will experience the consequences of providers’ actions over time. Mental health directives accomplish this, so they are a way of respecting the agent’s autonomy even when providers override the agent’s current competent refusal. (shrink)
Life-extension was the focus for the 10th annual Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, held last September at Cambridge University. This scientific convention included a panel of several bioethicists, including Art Caplan, John Harris, and others. The presentations on the ethics of life-extension are reviewed here.
Most discussions of medical futility try to answer the Futility Question: when is a medical procedure futile? No answer enjoys universal support. Some futility policies say that the health care provider will answer this question when the provider and patient (or surrogate decisionmaker) cannot agree. This raises the Decision Question: who has the moral authority to decide what to do in cases where futility is disputed? I look for a procedural answer to this question, an answer that does not turn (...) on whether a given party happens to answer the Futility Question correctly. I argue that these policies get it right; the provider should decide because providers have a right of conscientious refusal that extends to refusing procedures on grounds of futility. This is a procedural answer because providers have this right even if they are sincerely mistaken about whether a procedure is futile. (shrink)
We analyzed a sample of 356 forms containing information that Colorado law legally requires both licensed and unlicensed therapists to disclose to clients. The majority of forms contained the legally mandated information; fewer forms contained ethically desirable information. The average readability grade level was 15.74, corresponding to upper-level college, and 63.9% of the forms reached the highest (most difficult) readability grade of 17 +. Therapists are obeying the law, but do not appear to be taking advantage of the opportunity to (...) provide their clients useful information in an accessible way. (shrink)
On the face of things, the concept of 'profession' does not appear philosophically problematic: just survey the dozen or so occupations everyone calls professions and list their common attributes. Typically, it is said that law, medicine, teaching and other..
Judith Thomson argues that a fetus may have a right to life yet lack the right to use its mother's body to stay alive. According to Kenneth Einar Himma, Thomson's argument applies only to cases where the parties meet two conditions. First, they must and, second, they must be Himma devises a case involving conjoined twins to show why the mother–fetus case does not meet these conditions.
The point of Judith Jarvis Thomson's violinist example is to establish that one person, A, can acquire a right to use the body of another person, B, if and only if B performs some kind of affirmative act that gives A such a right. On her view, the reason it is permissible for you to unplug yourself from the violinist is that you did nothing to give the violinist a right to use your body: the violinist was plugged into you (...) without your consent. Thus it follows that the mere fact that A needs use of B's body to survive is not enough to give rise to a right in A to use B's body. Accordingly, Thomson concludes, the claim that the fetus has a right to life does not imply abortion is morally impermissible. (shrink)
In the final chapter of their book A Subject With No Object, John Burgess and Gideon Rosen raise the question of the value of the nominalistic reconstructions of mathematics that have been put forward in recent years, asking specifically what this body of work is good for. The authors conclude that these reconstructions are all inferior to current versions of mathematics (or science) and make no advances in science. This paper investigates the reasoning that led to such a negative appraisal, (...) and it produces a rebuttal to this reasoning. I am grateful to the following mathematicians who were kind enough to provide me with their thoughts about nonstandard analysis: Martin Davis, Laura Chihara, Ted Chihara, Steve Galovich, Bonnie Gold, and especially Roger Simons, whose comments about an earlier version of this paper were very helpful. Thanks also go to two referees for their useful suggestions and criticisms of an earlier version of this paper. (shrink)
This, the twenty-seventh volume in the annual series of publications by the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, features a number of distinguised contributors addressing the topic of criminal justice. Part I considers "The Moral and Metaphysical Sources of the Criminal Law," with contributions by Michael S. Moore, Lawrence Rosen, and Martin Shapiro. The four chapters in Part II all relate, more or less directly, to the issue of retribution, with papers by Hugo Adam Bedau, Michael Davis, Jeffrie (...) G. Murphy, and R. B. Brandt. In the following part, Dennis F. Thompson, Christopher D. Stone, and Susan Wolf deal with the special problem of criminal responsibility in government-one of great importance in modern society. The fourth and final part, echoing the topic of NOMOS XXIV, Ethics, Economics, and the Law , addresses the economic theory of crime. The section includes contributions by Alvin K. Klevorick, Richard A. Posner, Jules L. Coleman, and Stephen J. Schulhofer. A valuable bibiography on criminal justice by Andrew C. Blanar concludes this volume of NOMOS. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Acknowledgements -- Notes on Contributors -- Introduction--K.Petrus -- H. Paul Grice's Defense of the Analytic/Synthetic Distinction and Its Unintended Historical Consequences in Twentieth Century Analytical Philosophy--J.Atlas -- Paul Grice and the Philosopher of Ordinary Language--S.Chapman -- Some Aspects on Reasons and Retionality--J.Baker -- The Total Content of What a Speaker Means--A.Martinich -- Showing and Meaning--M.Green -- Communicative Acts - With and Without Understanding--C.Plunze -- Perillocutionary Acts. A Gricean Approach--K.Petrus -- William James + 40: Issues in the (...) Investigation of Implicature--L.Horn -- Grice on Presupposition--A.Bezuidenhout -- Irregular Negations: Implicature and Idiom Theories--W.Davis -- Grice's Calculability Criterion and Speaker Meaning--J.Saul -- A Gricean View on Intrusive Implicatures--M.Simons -- Three Theories of Implicature: Default Theory, Relevance and Minimalism--E.Borg -- Contextualism--N.Kompa -- Index. (shrink)