Many writers accept the following thesis about responsibility: (R) For one to be responsible for something is for one to be such that it is fitting that one be the object of some reactive attitude with respect to that thing. This thesis bears a striking resemblance to a thesis about value that is also accepted by many writers: (V) For something to be good (or neutral, or bad) is for it to be such that it is fitting that it be (...) the object of some pro-attitude (or indifference, or some contra-attitude). V has been the subject of intense debate in recent years, in part because of its incorporation into what has come to be called the “buck-passing” account of value. In particular, V is open to three challenges: that it is not necessarily the case that whatever is good is the fitting object of a pro-attitude; that it is not necessarily the case that whatever is the fitting object of a pro-attitude is good; and that, even if there is a strict equivalence between what is good and what is the fitting object of a pro-attitude, still the former is not to be analyzed in terms of the latter. The resemblance between V and R has not been previously commented on, but, once it is recognized, it is clear that R is open to challenges that resemble those to which V is vulnerable. This paper explores both the challenges to V and the parallel challenges to R and discusses responses that may be given to these challenges. The interrelation between V and R is then examined, and a general lesson is drawn concerning how to adjudicate disputes about the nature of moral responsibility. (shrink)
The ancient question of what a good life consists in is currently the focus of intense debate. There are two aspects to this debate: the first concerns how the concept of a good life is to be understood; the second concerns what kinds of life fall within the extension of this concept. In this paper, I will attend only to the first, conceptual aspect and not to the second, substantive aspect. More precisely, I will address the preliminary, underlying question of (...) how to understand what it is in general for something to be good for someone, from which an understanding of the more particular concept of a good life may be derived. (shrink)
Ray Kurzweil and others have posited that the confluence of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and genetic engineering will soon produce posthuman beings that will far surpass us in power and intelligence. Just as black holes constitute a ldquo;singularityrdquo; from which no information can escape, posthumans will constitute a ldquo;singularity:rdquo; whose aims and capacities lie beyond our ken. I argue that technological posthumanists, whether wittingly or unwittingly, draw upon the long-standing Christian discourse of ldquo;theosis,rdquo; according to which humans are capable of (...) being God or god-like. From St. Paul and Luther to Hegel and Kurzweil, the idea of human self-deification plays a prominent role. Hegel in particular emphasizes that God becomes wholly actualized only in the process by which humanity achieves absolute consciousness. Kurzweil agrees that God becomes fully actual only through historical processes that illuminate and thus transform the entire universe. The difference is that for Kurzweil and many other posthumanists, our offspringmdash;the posthumansmdash;will carry out this extraordinary process. What will happen to Home sapiens in the meantime is a daunting question. (shrink)
Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value. The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.” Extrinsic value is value that is not intrinsic.
Every choice we make is set against a background of massive ignorance about our past, our future, our circumstances, and ourselves. Philosophers are divided on the moral significance of such ignorance. Some say that it has a direct impact on how we ought to behave - the question of what our moral obligations are; others deny this, claiming that it only affects how we ought to be judged in light of the behaviour in which we choose to engage - the (...) question of what responsibility we bear for our choices. Michael Zimmerman claims that our ignorance has an important bearing on both questions, and offers an account of moral obligation and moral responsibility that is sharply at odds with the prevailing wisdom. His book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
Many philosophers hold that whether an act is overall morally obligatory is an ‘objective’ matter, many that it is a ‘subjective’ matter, and some that it is both. The idea that it is or can be both may seem to promise a helpful answer to the question ‘What ought I to do when I do not know what I ought to do?’ In this article, three broad views are distinguished regarding what it is that obligation essentially concerns: the maximization of (...) actual value, the maximization of expected value, and the perceived maximization of actual value. The first and third views are rejected; the second view is then refined and defended. The unfortunate upshot is that there may be no very helpful answer to the question just mentioned. As to the question posed in the title of the article, the answer unsurprisingly depends on what ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ are taken to mean. (Published Online November 24 2006). (shrink)
This paper considers three general views about the nature of moral obligation and three particular answers (with which these views are typically associated) concerning the following question: if on Monday you lend me a book that I promise to return to you by Friday, what precisely is my obligation to you and what constitutes its fulfillment? The example is borrowed from W.D. Ross, who in The Right and the Good proposed what he called the Objective View of obligation, from (...) which he inferred what is here called the First Answer to the question. In Foundations of Ethics Ross repudiated the Objective View in favor of the Subjective View, from which he inferred a Second Answer. In this paper each of the Objective and Subjective Views and the First and Second Answers are rejected in favor of the Prospective View and a Third Answer. The implications of the Prospective View for another question closely related to the original question are then investigated: what precisely is your right regarding my returning the book and what constitutes its satisfaction? (shrink)
Recent Work on Intrinsic Value brings together for the first time many of the most important and influential writings on the topic of intrinsic value to have appeared in the last half-century. During this period, inquiry into the nature of intrinsic value has intensified to such an extent that at the moment it is one of the hottest topics in the field of theoretical ethics. The contributions to this volume have been selected in such a way that all of the (...) fundamental questions concerning the nature of intrinsic value are treated in depth and from a variety of viewpoints. These questions include how to understand the concept of intrinsic value, what sorts of things can have intrinsic value, and how to compute intrinsic value. The editors have added an introduction that ties these questions together and places the contributions in context, and they have also provided an extensive bibliography. The result is a comprehensive, balanced, and detailed picture of current thinking about intrinsic value, one that provides an indispensable backdrop against which future writings on the topic may be assessed. (shrink)
Integral Ecology uses multiple perspectives to analyze environmental problems. Four of Integral Ecology's major analytical perspectives (known as the quadrants) correspond to the four divisions of the liberal arts and sciences: fine arts, natural science, social science, and humanities. Integral Ecology also utilizes the analytical perspective provided by the idea of cultural moral development. This perspective helps to reveal how stakeholders at different developmental stages disclose a phenomenon, in this case, a tropical forest that loggers propose to clear-cut. Integral Ecology (...) takes into account all pertinent perspectives, in order to arrive at the best possible solution to environmental problems and conflicts. (shrink)
This paper argues that Moore's principle of organic unities is false. Advocates of the principle have failed to take note of the distinction between actual intrinsic value and virtual intrinsic value. Purported cases of organic unities, where the actual intrinsic value of a part of a whole is allegedly defeated by the actual intrinsic value of the whole itself, are more plausibly seen as cases where the part in question has no actual intrinsic value but instead a plurality of merely (...) virtual intrinsic values. (shrink)
The principal aim of this book is to develop and defend an analysis of the concept of moral obligation. The analysis is neutral regarding competing substantive theories of obligation, whether consequentialist or deontological in character. What it seeks to do is generate new solutions to a range of philosophical problems concerning obligation and its application. Amongst these problems are deontic paradoxes, the supersession of obligation, conditional obligation, prima facie obligation, actualism and possibilism, dilemmas, supererogation, and cooperation. By virtue of its (...) normative neutrality, the analysis provides a theoretical framework within which competing theories of obligation can be developed and assessed. This study is a major contribution to metaethics that will be of particular interest to all philosophers concerned with normative ethical theory. (shrink)
Kent Bach has argued that certain traditional problems of action theory (conceming the individuation of actions, their timing, their location, and the manner in which they enter into causal relations) arise only on the supposition that actions are events, and he has argued further that actions are not events. In this paper these arguments are examined and rejected.
Recent disclosures regarding the relationship between Heidegger’s thought and his own version of National Socialism have led me to rethink my earlier efforts to portray Heidegger as a forerunner of deep ecology. His political problems have provided ammunition for critics, such as Murray Bookchin, who regard deep ecology as a reactionary movement. In this essay, I argue that, despite some similarities, Heidegger’s thought and deep ecology are in many ways incompatible, in part because deep ecologists—in spite of their criticism of (...) the ecologically destructive character of technological modernity—generally support a “progressive” idea of human evolution. (shrink)
J. Baird Callicott seeks to resolve the problem of the intrinsic value of nature by utilizing a nondualistic paradigm derived from quantum theory. His approach is twofold. According to his less radical approach, quantum theory shows that properties once considered to be “primary” and “objective” are in fact the products of interactions between observer and observed. Values are also the products of such interactions. According to his more radical approach, quantum theory’s doctrine of internal relations is the model for the (...) idea that everything is intrinsically valuable because the “I” is intrinsically valuable and related to everything else. I argue that humanity’s treatment of nature will become respectful only as humanity’s awareness evolves toward nondualism, and that such nondualistic awareness will not be produced by changes in scientific theory alone. Nevertheless, as Callicott suggests, such changes may be harbingers of evolutionary trends in human awareness. I conclude with a sketch of how nondualism, especially in its panentheistic version, provides the basis for environmental ethics. (shrink)
Deep ecologists have criticized reform environmentalists for not being sufficiently radical in their attempts to curb human exploitation of the nonhuman world. Ecofeminists, however, maintain that deep ecologists, too, are not sufficiently radical, for they have neglected the cmcial role played by patriarchalism in shaping the cultural categories responsible for Western humanity’s domination of Nature. According to eco-feminists, only by replacing those categories-including atomism, hierarchalism, dualism, and androcentrism - can humanity learn to dweIl in harmony with nonhuman beings. After reviewing (...) the eco-feminist critique both of reform environmentalism and of deep ecology, I sketch a critical dialogue between eco-feminism and deep ecology. (shrink)
Recently several philosophers have argued that environmental reform movements cannot halt humankind’s destruction of the biosphere because they still operate within the anthropocentric humanism that forms the root of the ecological crisis. According to “radical” environmentalists, disaster can be averted only if we adopt a nonanthropocentric understanding of reality that teaches us to live harmoniouslyon the Earth. Martin Heidegger agrees that humanism leads human beings beyond their proper limits while forcing other beings beyond their limits as weIl. The doctrine of (...) the “rights of man” justifies human exploitation of nonhuman beings. Paradoxically, however, the doctrine of rights for nonhuman beings does not escape the orbit of humanism. According to Heidegger, a nonanthropocentric conception of humanity and its relation to nature must go beyond the doctrine of rights. We can dweIl harmoniously on Earth only by submitting to our primary obligation: to be open for the Being of beings. We need a new way of understanding Being, a new ethos, that lets beings manifest themselves not merely as objects for human ends, but as intrinsically important. Heidegger calls this ethos the “fourfold” of earth and sky, gods and mortals. Humanists argue that Heidegger is wrong to abandon the principle of human rights in favor of the notion that we are obligated to “let beings be,” while some radical environmentalists accuse hirn of being a humanist because he supposedly overestimates the importance of humankind’s ability to speak. Heidegger insists, however, that language makes possible culture, without which thereis no human experience of nature. An environmentally sound ethos. can arise, according to Heidegger, only from a shift within the cultural heritage of the West. Richard Rorty agrees that we must become open for a new “conversation” with the West, even if this requires abandoning traditionally important fields such as epistemology. The need to develop a new understanding of Being is so great that thinkers from the analytic and continental traditions of philosophy are finally initiating a long-overdue dialogue. (shrink)