UTONOMY IS VERY HIGHLY PRAISED as something that it is always good to have, and always good to have more of rather than less of.1 The idea seems to be that persons should be autonomous whatever else they might be, and that should act autonomously whatever else it is that they might do. Kantians are fond of saying that a person is autonomous if she or he chooses to live in accordance with the dictates of reason. This, in turn, directly (...) links autonomy to morality, which for Kantians is an ineliminable aspect of reason. I shall discuss this view in Section II. Of course, it is also the case that autonomy is widely heralded as a good by those who do not accept Kant’s philosophical moorings. For instance, to say that women should be more autonomous is not thereby to say that they should be more embracing of this or that moral set of principles. In fact, it is not clear that this assertion pertains to acting morally at all. Autonomy, like liberty, seems to be regarded as a good whatever the philosophical leanings of people might be. In either case, the more the better. (shrink)
The terrorists will win because they have nothing to lose if they try and fail, whereas we here in the West have become so concerned with the amenities of life (such as our gas-guzzling SUVs) that, lest we should have to forgo them, we would rather appease evil itself.
This essay looks at the impact that technology is having upon friendship. For as we all know, it is nothing at all to see friends at a restaurant table all engaged in texting rather than talking to one another.
This essay aims to capture the intuition that the moral person is, in virtue of being such, favored over the immoral person to lead a meaningful life. It is argued that the reason for this is that the moral person is open to affirmation from others in a way that the immoral person is not. Central to the argument is that idea of psychological health. Being affirmed by others is a fundamental aspect of being psychologically health. Thus, being moral and (...) being psychologically healthy are said to dovetail with respect to leading a meaningful life. The argument regarding psychological health draws upon, and extends, P. F. Strawson’s seminal essay “Freedom and Resentment”. Also in this regard, Wittgenstein’s argument against the possibility of a private language is extended to social behavior generally. (shrink)
This essay is a commentary upon "Race and Kant" by Thomas Hill, Jr and Bernard Boxill. They argue that although Kant in his anthropological writings took blacks to be inferior, his moral theory requires that they be shown the proper moral respect since blacks are persons nonetheless. I argue that this argument is sound, because the conception of inferiority that Kant attributed to blacks does not permit showing them the proper moral respect. Imagine a defective Mercedes Benz and a Ford (...) Pinto. These two cars are not inferior in the same sort of way. For Kant, I argue, the inferiority of blacks is more akin to that of a Ford Pinto; for he undoubtedly took blacks to be perpetual children. Chilren are persons, too; however, no one has ever supposed that moral theory applies to children in the full way that it applies to adults. (shrink)
This essay is a discussion of the radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. It is an assessment of the moral advice that she dispenses her radio show, and kinds of criticisms to which she has been subjected.
This essay is part of a symposium on affirmative action that took place at the University of Cincinnati with the distinguished legal scholar Ronald Dworkin. I argue against affirmative action. And I discuss at length the votes of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas. I develop the idea of idiosyncratic excellence; and I argue that diversity is a weakness insofar as it (a) an excuse for social myopia and (b)an impediment to individuals seeing beyond their (...) differences and affirming the excellences that they witness. The expected publication date, Univ of Cinn Law Review, is March 2004. (shrink)
The essay discuss the issue of comparing the American Slavery and the Holocaust, and the extent to which the ideology of the American dream has fueled invidious comparisons between the two peoples. Just as murder and rape are wrongs to be understood in their own right, I argue that a like claim holds for American Slavery and the Holocuast. The essay further points out that we should be weary of supposing that wrongdoing is the sort of the thing for which (...) compensation is at all possible. (shrink)
While I agree with Punzo's central thesis that virtue ethics is superior to Kantian ethics, the aims of my comments are twofold. On the one hand, I draw attention to some ways in which Punzo overstates the case against Kantian ethics, noting that unattainable ideals as such are no mark against a moral theory. On the other, I build upon Punzo's insights in order to bring into sharper focus the superiority of virtue ethics. Accordingly, I distinguish between inter-species (Kantian ethics) (...) and intra-species (virtue ethics) morality, maintaining that the former, unlike the latter, invariably proves too wide of the mark. (shrink)
Moral philosophy is at its best when it takes human psychology seriously. Such are the instincts of Thomas Wren. His engaging book Caring About Morality is an attempt to offer an account of human motivation that is true to human psychology, but which captures the spirit of Kantian morality without Kantian metaphysics. I argue that there are some fundamental psychological considerations which Wren does not take into account, and which are an obstacle to the success of his project. Moral motivation, (...) 1 suggest, is much more tied to the psychological histories of persons than Wren allows. (shrink)
Abstract While moral ideals are of the utmost importance, the truth of the matter is that we live in a world that falls considerably short of the ideal. Drawing upon a variety of theoretical considerations from both psychology and philosophy, 1 aim to make explicit some of the concrete steps that can be taken to overcome patterns of injustice. To this end, the ideas of textured affirmation and moral deference are developed.
Although there are many variations on the theme, so much is made of the good of moral autonomy that it is difficult not to suppose that there is everything to be said for being morally autonomous and nothing at all to be said for being morally nonautonomous. However, this view of moral autonomy cannot be made to square with the well-received fact that most people are morally nonautonomous — not, at any rate, unless one is prepared to maintain that most (...) people are irrational in this respect. I am not. Thus, I reject what I take to be the prevailing view of moral autonomy. I argue that it is false that (1) moral autonomy is such that it is rational for every person to prefer being morally autonomous to being morally nonautonomous, but true that (2) moral autonomy is such that if anyone is morally autonomous, then it is rational for him to prefer being morally autonomous to being morally nonautonomous. (shrink)