Patricia Williams made a number of claims concerning the methods and practise of cladistic analysis and classification. Her argument rests upon the distinction of two kinds of hierarchy: a divisional hierarchy depicting evolutionary descent and the Linnean hierarchy describing taxonomic groups in a classification. Williams goes on to outline five problems with cladistics that lead her to the conclusion that systematists should eliminate cladism as a school of biological taxonomy and to replace it either with something that is (...) philosophically coherent or to replace it with pure methodology, untainted by theory (Williams 1992, 151). Williams makes a number of points which she feels collectively add up to insurmountable problems for cladistics. We examine Williams' views concerning the two hierarchies and consider what cladists currently understand about the status of ancestors. We will demonstrate that Williams has seriously misunderstood many modern commentators on this subject and all of her five persistent problems are derivable from this misunderstanding. Some persons believe and argue, on grounds approaching faith it seems to me, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of evolution. Others have found to their surprise, and sometimes dismay, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of systematics. Nelson (1989, 67). (shrink)
Henry James and the Philosophical Novel breaks fresh ground by examining James's unique position as a philosophical novelist, closely associated with the climate of ideas generated by his brother William. It considers storytelling as a mode of philosophical enquiry, showing how a range of distinguished thinkers have relied on fictional narrative as a technique for formulating and clarifying their ideas; and investigates (with close reference to his novels) the affiliations between James's practice as a novelist and contemporary epistemological, moral, and (...) linguistic concerns. (shrink)
Global palaeoclimate reconstructions have been invaluable to our understanding of the causes and effects of climate change, but single-temperature representations of the oceanic mixed layer for data–model comparisons are outdated, and the time for a paradigm shift in marine palaeoclimate reconstruction is overdue. The new paradigm in marine palaeoclimate reconstruction stems the loss of valuable climate information and instead presents a holistic and nuanced interpretation of multi-dimensional oceanographic processes and responses. A wealth of environmental information is hidden within the US (...) Geological Survey's Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) marine palaeoclimate reconstruction, and we introduce here a plan to incorporate all valuable climate data into the next generation of PRISM products. Beyond the global approach and focus, we plan to incorporate regional climate dynamics with emphasis on processes, integrating multiple environmental proxies wherever available in order to better characterize the mixed layer, and developing a finer time slice within the Mid-Piacenzian Age of the Pliocene, complemented by underused proxies that offer snapshots into environmental conditions. The result will be a proxy-rich, temporally nested, process-oriented approach in a digital format—a relational database with geographic information system capabilities comprising a three-dimensional grid representing the surface layer, with a plethora of data in each cell. (shrink)
A discussion of egoism and altruism as related both to ethical theory and moral psychology. Williams considers and rejects various arguments for and against the existence of egoistic motives and the rationality of someone motivated by self-interest. He ultimately attempts to give a more Humean defense of altruism, as opposed to the more Kantian defenses found in Thomas Nagel, for example.
What can--and what can't--philosophy do? What are its ethical risks--and its possible rewards? How does it differ from science? In Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline , Bernard Williams addresses these questions and presents a striking vision of philosophy as fundamentally different from science in its aims and methods even though there is still in philosophy "something that counts as getting it right." Written with his distinctive combination of rigor, imagination, depth, and humanism, the book amply demonstrates why Williams (...) was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Spanning his career from his first publication to one of his last lectures, the book's previously unpublished or uncollected essays address metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as the scope and limits of philosophy itself. The essays are unified by Williams's constant concern that philosophy maintain contact with the human problems that animate it in the first place. As the book's editor, A. W. Moore, writes in his introduction, the title essay is "a kind of manifesto for Williams's conception of his own life's work." It is where he most directly asks "what philosophy can and cannot contribute to the project of making sense of things"--answering that what philosophy can best help make sense of is "being human." Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline is one of three posthumous books by Williams to be published by Princeton University Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument was published in the fall of 2005. The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy is being published shortly after the present volume. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘ p and I do not believe that p ’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a (...) form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it must explain why Moorean beliefs are irrational yet, according to Chan, their grammatical third-person transpositions are not, even though the same proposition is believed. But the solution can only explain this asymmetry by relying on a formulation of the ground of the irrationality of Moorean beliefs that presupposes precisely such asymmetry. I reply that it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the irrationality that the contents of Moorean beliefs be restricted to the grammatical first-person. What has to be explained is rather that such grammatical non-first-person transpositions sometimes, but not always, result in the disappearance of irrationality. Describing this phenomenon requires the grammatical first-person/non-first person distinction. The pragmatic solution explains the phenomenon once it is formulated in de se terms. But the grammatical first-person/non-first-person distinction is independent of, and a fortiori, different from, the de se /non- de se distinction presupposed by pragmatic solution, although both involve the first person broadly construed. Therefore the pragmatic solution is not circular. Building on the work of Green and Williams I also distinguish between the irrationality of Moorean beliefs and their absurdity. I argue that while all irrational Moorean beliefs are absurd, some Moorean beliefs are absurd but not irrational. I explain this absurdity in a way that is not circular either. (shrink)
This book explores the tradition of the 'science of man' in French medicine of the era 1750-1850, focusing on controversies about the nature of the 'physical-moral' relation and their effects on the role of medicine in French society. Its chief purpose is to recover the history of a holistic tradition in French medicine that has been neglected because it lay outside the mainstream themes of modern medicine, which include experimental, reductionist, and localistic conceptions of health and disease. Professor Williams (...) also challenges existing historiography, which argues that the 'anthropological' approach to medicine was a short-term by-product of the leftist politics of the French Revolution. This work argues instead that the medical science of man long outlived the Revolution, that it spanned traditional ideological divisions, and that it reflected the shared aim of French physicians, whatever their politics, to claim broad cultural authority in French society. (shrink)
Although there has been critical analysis of how the informed consent process functions in relation to participation in research and particular ethical 'dilemmas', there has been little examination of consenting to more routine medical procedures. We report a qualitative study of 25 women who consented to surgery. Of these, nine were ambivalent or opposed to having an operation. When faced with a consent form, women's accounts suggest that they rarely do anything other than obey professionals' requests for a signature. An (...) interactionist analysis suggests that women's capacity to act is reduced by the hospital structure of tacit, socially-imposed rules of conduct. Bourdieu's concepts of habitus, capital and symbolic power/violence show how the practical logic that women apply confers a 'sense of place' relative to professionals. Women experience deficits in capital that constrain their ability to exercise choice. This work demonstrates the weakness of the consent process as a safeguard of autonomy. (shrink)
The Architecture of Theology presents a fresh reading of Christian theology, re-interpreting discussions of theological method and considering them in light of contemporary philosophical debates. A. N. Williams re-evaluates the traditional theological warrants (scripture, tradition, and reason) and the concept of systematic theology, arguing that Christian theology is inherently systematic, reflecting the rationality and relationality of its two chief subjects, 'God and other things as they are related to God'(Aquinas). The roles of the theological warrants are assessed, showing how (...) they are necessarily interdependent. Contemporary philosophical discussions of the structure of reasoning are also examined; these have conventionally contrasted foundationalist and coherentist accounts. A contemporary consensus has emerged, however, of a chastened foundationalism or hybrid foundationalism-coherentism, in light of which arguments are understood both as reasoning from foundational propositions and as gaining plausibility from the coherence of claims with one another. -/- The Christian tradition anticipated these developments: theological arguments exhibit a dual structure, with propositions underwritten to some extent by their dependence on scripture and tradition and to some extent by their coherence with one another in integrated webs, or systems. Christian theology is therefore shown to be systematic in its fundamental structure, whether or not a given argument forms part of a 'systematic theology'. The systematicity of Christian theology is related to its subject matter, 'God and other things as they are related to God'. Theology's two chief subjects (God and humanity) are characterised by rationality and relationality. These are also the qualities of Christian theology itself: it is a double mimesis, reflecting in its very structures of reasoning its subject matter. -/- The order, harmony and coherence of those structures, however, have an aesthetic appeal which has the potential to appeal for its very beauty, rather than its truth. Williams presents a careful examination of the tradition of theological aesthetics, asking whether the beauty of systematic structures counts for or against theological truth. (shrink)
3734 π +-? +-e+ decays have been observed in a propane bubble chamber and the angular distribution of the positions found to be The decay and absorption of ?? -mesons in propane have also been investigated.
BackgroundThe potential contribution of community engagement to addressing ethical challenges for international biomedical research is well described, but there is relatively little documented experience of community engagement to inform its development in practice. This paper draws on experiences around community engagement and informed consent during a genetic cohort study in Kenya to contribute to understanding the strengths and challenges of community engagement in supporting ethical research practice, focusing on issues of communication, the role of field workers in 'doing ethics' on (...) the ground and the challenges of community consultation.MethodsThe findings are based on action research methods, including analysis of community engagement documentation and the observations of the authors closely involved in their development and implementation. Qualitative and quantitative content analysis has been used for documentation of staff meetings and trainings, a meeting with 24 community leaders, and 40 large public and 70 small community group meetings. Meeting minutes from a purposive sample of six community representative groups have been analysed using a thematic framework approach.ResultsField workers described challenges around misunderstandings about research, perceived pressure for recruitment and challenges in explaining the study. During consultation, leaders expressed support for the study and screening for sickle cell disease. In community meetings, there was a common interpretation of research as medical care. Concerns centred on unfamiliar procedures. After explanations of study procedures to leaders and community members, few questions were asked about export of samples or the archiving of samples for future research.ConclusionsCommunity engagement enabled researchers to take account of staff and community opinions and issues during the study and adapt messages and methods to address emerging ethical challenges. Field workers conducting informed consent faced complex issues and their understanding, attitudes and communication skills were key influences on ethical practice. Community consultation was a challenging concept to put into practice, illustrating the complexity of assessing information needs and levels of deliberation that are appropriate to a given study. (shrink)
Inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars, Michael Williams launches an all-out attack on what he calls "phenomenalism," the idea that our knowledge of the world rests on a perceptual or experiential foundation. The point of this wider-than-normal usage of the term "phenomenalism," according to which even some forms of direct realism deserve to be called phenomenalistic, is to call attention to important continuities of thought between theories often thought to be competitors. Williams's target is not phenomenalism in (...) its classical sense-datum and reductionist form but empiricism generally. Williams examines and rejects the idea that, unless our beliefs are answerable to a "given" element in experience, objective knowledge will be impossible. Groundless Belief was first published in 1977. This second edition contains a new afterword in which Williams places his arguments in the context of some current discussions of coherentism versus the Myth of the Given and explains their relation to subsequent developments in his own epistemological views. (shrink)
Father Williams explains how the conscience is formed through our training and experiences and informed by the Holy Spirit, making it an essential tool for daily living. He uses familiar and surprising characters to illustrate the positive choices conscience can direct--and the disaster that results when a conscience is undeveloped or ignored. Questions he tackles include "Is it more important to be smart or good?""Is there a morally right thing to do in every situation?" and "Is the Christian moral (...) life an exciting adventure, or a necessary burden?" Rich, provocative, and practical for everyday decision making, KNOWING RIGHT FROM WRONG is a must-read for all who hunger for personal holiness. (shrink)
What is epistemology or 'the theory of knowledge'? What is it really about? Why does it matter? What makes theorising about knowledge 'philosophical'? Why do some philosophers argue that epistemology - perhaps even philosophy itself - is dead? In this exciting and original introduction, Michael Williams shows how epistemological theorizing is sensitive to a range of questions about the nature, limits, methods, and value of knowing. He pays special attention to the challenge of philosophical scepticism: does our 'knowledge' rest (...) on brute assumptions? Does the rational outlook undermine itself? -/- Williams explains and criticises all the main contemporary philopsophical perspectives on human knowledge, such as foundationalism, the coherence theory, and 'naturalistic' theories. As an alternative to all of them, he defends his distinctive contextualist approach. While accessible to the undergraduate and general reader, this book contains Williams' own original ideas and is essential reading for all philosophers concerned with the theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Williams, Robyn I was briefly a religious person - only on a form. When we crossed into Pakistan, having hitch-hiked from London en route to Sydney in 1966, there came a point where you could not just put a line through where it said 'religion'. I suddenly discovered what to do. I wrote 'Congregationalist hedonist'. All the officials loved it. We had lots of fun together.
Your classic Jaguar XK 120 stands useless by the roadside. Why? Because you gave priority to the admittedly gorgeous 6 cylinder straight six engine; because you privileged the highest value part. Rubber pipes perish, though, and now thanks to a leak in a cheap hose the head gasket has blown. You are stranded and facing a costly bill. More seriously, your mechanical gaffe is a sign of your misunderstanding of Deleuze. Like Sir William Lyons, he engineers systems where the concept (...) of priority must not be confused with independence, separateness, abstraction or ethical superiority. As a good engineer, Deleuze's constructions are holistic and opposed to abstract hierarchies: if a crucial small, actual part perishes in a particular practical situation where it has a role to play, then it does not matter how much virtual power you have in reserve. Your feet are still in a pool of hot water as you survey the wasted potential of actual motion and ideal expressions, hand made in Coventry. (shrink)
Burning fossil fuel in the North American continent contributes more to the CO2 global warming problem than in any other continent. The resulting climate changes are expected to alter food production. The overall changes in temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide, insect pests, plant pathogens, and weeds associated with global warming are projected to reduce food production in North America. However, in Africa, the projected slight rise in rainfall is encouraging, especially since Africa already suffers from severe shortages of rainfall. For all (...) regions, a reduction in fossil fuel burning is vital. Adoption of sound ecological resource management, especially soil and water conservation and the prevention of deforestation, is important. Together, these steps will benefit agriculture, the environment, farmers, and society as a whole. (shrink)
In 2004, the United States Sentencing Commission amended the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to allow firms that create "effective compliance and ethics programs" to receive better treatment if prosecuted for fraud. Effective compliance and ethics, however, appear to be limited to activities focused on complying with the firms' internal legal and ethical standards. We explored a potential connection between the firms' external corporate social responsibility (CSR) behaviors and internal compliance: Is there an organizationally valid relationship between these two firm activities? That (...) is, when organizations demonstrate CSR with behaviors external to the firm, such as employee volunteerism, are their employees more likely to demonstrate uncompromised legal and ethical compliance behavior internally? We collected data from 164 working professionals enrolled in a top-tier MBA program in the southeastern United States regarding their employer-sponsored volunteer activities and their intentions to comply in various organizational compliance vignettes. We found that employer-sponsored volunteerism is associated with uncompromised compliance choices in one of the three vignettes. This finding indicates preliminary support for further inquiry into the relationship within the firm between external CSR behaviors and policies regarding organizational compliance. Post hoc analyses suggest that employersponsored volunteerism is strongly associated with a positive organizational identity, but organizational identity is not associated with the significant compliance vignette. This evidence suggests that the underlying mechanism that connects external CSR behaviors and internal compliance intentions is complex and requires future study. (shrink)
There is increasing evidence for the efficacy of non-medical strategies to improve mental health and well-being. Get into Reading is a shared reading intervention which has demonstrable acceptability and feasibility. This paper explores potential catalysts for change resulting from Get into Reading. Two weekly reading groups ran for 12 months, in a GP surgery and a mental health drop-in centre, for people with a GP diagnosis of depression and a validated severity measure. Data collection included quantitative measures at the outset (...) and end of the study, digital recording of sessions, observation and reflective diaries. Qualitative data were analysed thematically and critically compared with digital recordings. The evidence suggested a reduction in depressive symptoms for Get into Reading group participants. Three potential catalysts for change were identified: literary form and content, including the balance between prose and poetry; group facilitation, including social awareness and communicative skills; and group processes, including reflective and syntactic mirroring. This study has generated hypotheses about potential change processes of Get into Reading groups. Evidence of clinical efficacy was limited by small sample size, participant attrition and lack of controls. The focus on depression limited the generalisability of findings to other clinical groups or in non-clinical settings. Further research is needed, including assessment of the social and economic impact and substantial trials of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this intervention. (shrink)
A new volume of philosophical essays by Bernard Williams. The book is a successor to Problems of the Self, but whereas that volume dealt mainly with questions of personal identity, Moral Luck centres on questions of moral philosophy and the theory of rational action. That whole area has of course been strikingly reinvigorated over the last deacde, and philosophers have both broadened and deepened their concerns in a way that now makes much earlier moral and political philosophy look sterile (...) and trivial. Moral Luck contains a number of essays that have contributed influentially to this development. Among the recurring themes are the moral and philosophical limitations of utilitarianism, the notion of integrity, relativism, and problems of moral conflict and rational choice. The work presented here is marked by a high degree of imagination and acuity, and also conveys a strong sense of psychological reality. The volume will be a stimulating source of ideas and arguments for all philosophers and a wide range of other readers. (shrink)
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. This is a revised version of Professor (...) Smart's famous essay 'an outline of a system of utilitarian ethics', first published in 1961 but long unobtainable. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. Both authors are agreed on utilitarianism's importance: it cuts across a number of different philosophical disputes and combines a systematic account of mata-ethical problems with a distinctive and substantive moral stand. It thus is, or involves, philosophy in both the traditional and the narrower, professional sense of the word, and is a key topic (often the first topic) in introductory philosophy courses. This book should also be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists. (shrink)
– The paper defends a naturalistic version of modal actualism according to which what is metaphysically possible is determined by dispositions found in the actual world. We argue that there is just one world—this one—and that all genuine possibilities are anchored by the dispositions exemplified in this world. This is the case regardless of whether or not those dispositions are manifested. As long as the possibility is one that would obtain were the relevant disposition manifested, it is a genuine possibility. (...) Furthermore, by starting from actual dispositional properties and branching out, we are able to include possibilities that are quite far removed from any state of affairs that happens to obtain, while still providing a natural and actual grounding of possibility. Stressing the importance of ontological considerations in any theory of possibility, it is argued that the account of possibility in terms of dispositional properties provides a more palatable ontology than those of its competitors. Coming at it from the other direction, the dispositional account of possibility also provides motivation for taking an ontology of dispositions more seriously. As well as the relevant dispositional notions required to lay out the view, the paper discusses the dispositional realism needed as the basis for the account of possibility. (shrink)
The existence of an idea of a missing shade of blue contradicts Hume's first principle that simple ideas all derive from corresponding simple impressions. Hume dismisses the exception to his principle as unimportant. Why does he do so? His later account of distinctions of reason suggests a systematic way of dealing with simple ideas not derived from simple impressions. Why does he not return to the problem of the missing shade, having offered that account? Several suggestions as to Hume's solution (...) of the problem of the missing shade (not all appealing to distinctions of reason) are explored with an eye both to their adequacy as Humean solutions and their value as clues to his dismissal of the problem. Hypotheses concerning the latter perplexity are formulated and discussed as well. Senses in which the missing shade of blue is or may be a red herring are identified. In course, this author names Hume's missing shade marjorie grene. Historians of philosophy will want to adopt this nomenclature. (shrink)
[Michael Williams] A response to Sosa's criticisms of Sellars's account of the relation between knowledge and experience, noting that Sellars excludes merely animal knowledge, and hopes to bypass epistemology by an adequate philosophy of mind and language. /// [Ernest Sosa] I give an exposition and critical discussion of Sellars's Myth of the Given, and especially of its epistemic side. In later writings Sellars takes a pragmatist turn in his epistemology. This is explored and compared with his earlier critique of (...) givenist mythology. In response to Michael Williams, it is argued that these issues are importantly independent of philosophy of language or mind, and that my own take on them does not commit me to any absurd radical foundationalism on language or mind. My own take is in line with Descartes' two-level epistemology of cognitio and scientia, a bifurcation that protects him from vicious circularity, and is adaptable for an epistemology naturalized (not supernaturalized), whether in the way of Quine, or Moore, or Davidson. (shrink)
This new volume of philosophical papers by Bernard Williams is divided into three sections: the first Action, Freedom, Responsibility, the second Philosophy, Evolution and the Human Sciences; in which appears the essay which gives the collection its title; and the third Ethics, which contains essays closely related to his 1983 book Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Like the two earlier volumes of Williams's papers published by Cambridge University Press, Problems of the Self and Moral Luck, this volume (...) will be welcomed by all readers with a serious interest in philosophy. It is published alongside a volume of essays on Williams's work, World, Mind, and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams, edited by J. E. J. Altham and Ross Harrison, which provides a reappraisal of his work by other distinguished thinkers in the field. (shrink)
This article criticizes Mathias Risse and Richard Zeckhauser's recent utilitarian defense of racial profiling. I use a novel thought-experiment to argue that even if a negative phenomenon could be reduced by profiling members of certain groups who happen to be disproportionately associated with it, the practice can be implausible. Specifically, I explore the possibility that in a given society, platinum blondes have a higher per capita incidence of a serious sexually transmitted disease, D. And I argue that doctors and health (...) officials in the society would not be justified in profiling such blondes, given that there is nothing about being a platinum blonde that causes one to have D. (shrink)
I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious ‘Ramsey Test’. Even in a weak form, this makes counterfactuals subject to the very argument that Lewis used to persuade the majority of the philosophical community that indicative conditionals were in hot water. I outline two reactions: to indicativize the debate on counterfactuals; or to counterfactualize the debate on indicatives.
G. E. Moore observed that to assert, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' would be 'absurd'. Over half a century later, such sayings continue to perplex philosophers. In the definitive treatment of the famous paradox, Green and Williams explain its history and relevance and present new essays by leading thinkers in the area.
This paper looks at whether the tenets of Islam are consistent with the 'Ten Principles' of responsible business outlined in the UN Global Compact. The paper concludes that with the possible exception of Islam's focus on personal responsibility and the non-recognition of the corporation as a legal person, which could undermine the concept of corporate responsibility, there is no divergence between the tenets of the religion and the principles of the UN Global Compact. Indeed, Islam often goes further and has (...) the advantage of clearer codification of ethical standards as well as a set of explicit enforcement mechanisms. Focusing on this convergence of values could be useful in the development of a new understanding of CSR in a global context and help avert the threatened "clash of civilisations". (shrink)
I respond to Ned Block’s claim that it is ridiculous to suppose that consciousness is a cultural construction based on language and learned in childhood. Block is wrong to dismiss social constructivist theories of consciousness on account of it being ludicrous that conscious experience is anything but a biological feature of our animal heritage, characterized by sensory experience, evolved over millions of years. By defending social constructivism in terms of both Julian Jaynes’ behaviorism and J.J. Gibson’s ecological psychology, I draw (...) a distinction between the experience or what-it-is-like of nonhuman animals engaging with the environment and the secret theater of speechless monologue that is familiar to a linguistically competent human adult. This distinction grounds the argument that consciousness proper should be seen as learned rather than innate and shared with nonhuman animals. Upon establishing this claim, I defend the Jaynesian definition of consciousness as a social–linguistic construct learned in childhood, structured in terms of lexical metaphors and narrative practice. Finally, I employ the Jaynesian distinction between cognition and consciousness to bridge the explanatory gap and deflate the supposed hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)
This paper argues that, if we are committed to a Pro-choice stance with regard to selective abortion for disability, we will be unable to justify the prohibition of sex-selective abortion (SSA), for two reasons. First, familiar Pro-choice arguments in favour of a woman’s right to select against fetal impairment also support, by parity of reasoning, a right to choose SSA. Second, rejection of the criticisms of selective abortion for disability levelled by disability theorists also disposes, by implication, of the key (...) objections to SSA, as developed, most notably, by feminists. The paper, then, consists of a conditional defence of SSA, under which SSA should be available, and protected by a right, if selective abortion for disability is. Opponents of SSA might respond by conceding additional restrictions on selection against disabled fetuses. It should become clear throughout the paper, however, that any such new restrictions would be unacceptably onerous for women. (shrink)
David Hume's relatively short essay 'Of the Standard of Taste' deals with some of the most difficult issues in aesthetic theory. Apart from giving a few pregnant remarks, near the end of his discussion, on the role of morality in aesthetic evaluation, Hume tries to reconcile the idea that tastes are subjective (in the sense of not being answerable to the facts) with the idea that some objects of taste are better than others. 'Tastes', in this context, are the pleasures (...) or displeasures that a person can take in the beauties of poems, paintings, and other artistic compositions (though Hume also wants to stress the continuities between tastes, so understood, and the bodily sense of taste). The position at which Hume arrives in the essay (despite some dialectical unclarity) is that some people – the 'true judges'– determine by their 'joint verdict' which works are meritorious. This solution continues to exercise a fascination, as does Hume's complicated route to it. Author Recommends: Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. This paper places 'Of the Standard of Taste' in an especially rich context, and asks why Hume concentrates on true judges instead of the improvement of one's own taste. Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 177–208. This chapter, embedded in an exposition of Mothersill's 'First Thesis' (the denial that there are principles of taste) and 'Second Thesis' (the affirmation that some judgments of taste are genuine judgments), gives a detailed running commentary on Hume's essay. A shorter self-contained version of the chapter appeared as 'Hume and the Paradox of Taste' in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology , 2nd ed., eds. George Dickie, Richard Sclafani, and Ronald Roblin (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1989, 269–86). Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. An importance recent article, Levinson's piece argues that the 'real' difficulty with Hume's essay has gone unnoticed: why should I care about what Hume's true judges think? Christopher Williams, 'Some Questions in Hume's Aesthetics', Philosophy Compass 2/2 (2007). This article provides a brief overview of the topics discussed under weeks 3–5 in the sample syllabus below. It is intended to provide a roadmap for the particular set of readings listed there. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. This is a stimulating paper in moral philosophy that treats Hume's essay on taste as a model for a serious subjectivism. Wiggins then presents his own brand of subjectivism as an alternative to Hume's. Online Materials: Hume's Aesthetics (Ted Gracyk): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-aesthetics/ Sample Syllabus: Recommended background reading on Hume's historical context: Peter Kivy, The Seventh Sense: Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics , 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially Part III. Recommended background reading on the general topic of taste: David A. Whewell, 'Taste', Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 415–18. Dabney Townsend and Carolyn Korsmeyer, 'Taste', Encyclopedia of Aesthetics , ed. Michael Kelly (New York, NY and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 4:355–62. Ted Cohen, 'The Philosophy of Taste: Thoughts on the Idea', Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics , ed. Peter Kivy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 167–73. Week 1: Hume on beauty, art, and aesthetic judgment in the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals The following references are usable for any complete edition of the Treatise or Enquiry Treatise , 2.1.8 ('Of Beauty and Deformity') Treatise , 2.2.5 ('Of Our Esteem for the Rich and Powerful') Treatise , 2.2.8 ('Of Malice and Envy'), final three paragraphs Treatise , 2.2.11 ('Of the Amorous Passion, or Love Betwixt the Sexes') Treatise , 3.1.2 ('Moral Distinctions Deriv'd from a Moral Sense') Treatise , 3.3.1 ('Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues') Treatise , 3.3.5 ('Some Farther Reflexions Concerning the Natural Virtues') Enquiry , Appendix 1 ('Of moral sentiment') Week 2: Hume's essays Essays Moral, Political, and Literary , ed. Eugene Miller (Indianapolis, IN: LibertyClassics, 1985) is the most commonly used edition today. 'Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion' 'Of Eloquence' 'Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences' 'Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing' 'Of Tragedy' 'Of the Standard of Taste' Week 3: Circularity–Virtuous or Vicious? Peter Kivy, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: Breaking the Circle', British Journal of Aesthetics (1967): 57–66. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. Week 4: Rules of Art Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984), 177–208. James Shelley, 'Hume's Double Standard of Taste', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (1994): 437–45. Nick Zangwill, 'Hume, Taste, and Teleology', The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 149–65. Week 5: The True Judge Malcolm Budd, 'Hume and Kant', 'Hume's Standard of Taste', 'Hume and Human Nature', Values of Art (London: Allen Lane, 1995), 16–24 . Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. Week 6: Moralism in Aesthetic Judgment: Hume and Beyond Kendall Walton, 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1994): 27–50. Richard Moran, 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination', Philosophical Review (1994): 75–106. Tamar Szabo-Gendler, 'The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance', Journal of Philosophy (2000): 55–81. Focus Questions 1. How does Hume distinguish between matters of 'fact' and 'sentiment'? 2. What is a 'rule of art', and are there any rules? 3. Can a bad critic be 'silenced'? 4. What are the characteristics of good critics? 5. Should we expect good critics to agree on the merits of a work, and should I care about becoming a good critic myself? 6. Is it possible to distinguish variations in taste for which we should expect a standard and variations for which it is 'vain' to have such an expectation? 7. How is the excellence of a work related to the exercise of taste? 8. If a work of literature has a moral outlook that differs from our own, should we consider the work defective on literary grounds? (shrink)
This article argues that doctors and other health care professionals should be obliged to provide emergency treatment to those in immediate and nearby need regardless of the absence of any prior professional relationship between the parties. It concludes that the common law should accordingly recognize a specific duty of ‘medical rescue’. It examines some of the conventional objections to affirmative duties, finding them unconvincing in this particular context. It draws on two recent appellate decisions, one Australian and the other English, (...) for support, as well as on more general arguments concerning moral sentiment, professional ethics, public expectation, and respect for human rights. (shrink)
[Andrew Williams] It is difficult for prioritarians to explain the degree to which justice requires redress for misfortune in a way that avoids imposing unreasonably high costs on more advantaged individuals whilst also economising on intuitionist appeals to judgment. An appeal to hypothetical insurance may be able to solve the problems of cost and judgment more successfully, and can also be defended from critics who claim that resource egalitarianism is best understood to favour the ex post elimination of envy (...) over individual endowments. /// [Michael Otsuka] Inequality is intrinsically bad when and because it is unfair. It follows that the ideal of equality is not necessarily realised by a distribution of resources which is envy-free prior to the resolution of risks against which people have an equal opportunity to insure. Even if the upshot of such an ex ante envyfree distribution is just, it is not necessarily fair. (shrink)
Philosophers usually discuss responsibility in terms of responsibility for past actions or as a question about the nature of moral agency. Yet the word responsibility is fairly modern, whereas these topics arguably represent timeless concerns about human agency. This paper investigates another use of responsibility, that is particularly important to modern liberal societies: responsibility as a virtue that can be demonstrated by individuals and organisations. The paper notes its initial importance in political contexts, and seeks to explain why we now (...) demand responsibility in all spheres of life. In reply, I highlight the distinctively institutional character of modern liberal societies: institutions specify many of the particular responsibilities each of us must fulfil, but also require responsibility to sustain them and address their failings. My overall argument is that the virtue of responsibility occupies a distinctive place in the moral needs, and moral achievements, of liberal societies; and this, in turn, explains why it now occupies such a prominent place in our moral discourse. (shrink)