Abstract -/- Most discussions of risk are developed in broadly consequentialist terms, focusing on the outcomes of risks as such. This paper will provide an alternative account of risk from a virtue ethical perspective, shifting the focus to the decision to take the risk. Making ethical decisions about risk is, we will argue, not fundamentally about the actual chain of events that the decision sets in process, but about the reasonableness of the decision to take the risk in the first (...) place. A virtue ethical account of risk is needed because the notion of the ‘reasonableness’ of the decision to take the risk is affected by the complexity of the moral status of particular instances of risk-taking and the risk-taker’s responsiveness to these contextual features. The very idea of ‘reasonable risk’ welcomes judgments about the nature of the risk itself, raises questions about complicity, culpability and responsibility, while at its heart, involves a judgement about the justification of risk which unavoidably focuses our attention on the character of the individuals involved in risk making decisions. -/- Keywords: Risk; ethics; morality; responsibility; virtue; choice; reasons . (shrink)
Making decisions with an, often significant, element of risk seems to be an integral part of many of the projects of the diverse profession of engineering. Whether it be decisions about the design of products, manufacturing processes, public works, or developing technological solutions to environmental, social and global problems, risk taking seems inherent to the profession. Despite this, little attention has been paid to the topic and specifically to how our understanding of engineering as a distinctive profession might affect how (...) we should make decisions under risk. This paper seeks to remedy this, firstly by offering a nuanced account of risk and then by considering how specific claims about our understanding of engineering as a social profession, with corresponding social values and obligations, should inform how we make decisions about risk in this context. (shrink)
This article examines when deceptive withholding of information is ethically acceptable in research. The first half analyses the concept of deception. We argue that there are two types of accounts of deception: normative and non-normative, and argue that non-normative accounts are preferable. The second half of the article argues that the relevant ethical question which ethics committees should focus on is not whether the person from whom the information is withheld will be deceived, but rather on the reasonableness of withholding (...) the information from the person who is deceived. We further argue that the reasonableness of withholding information is dependent on the context. The last section examines how the context of research should shape our judgements about the circumstances in which withholding information from research participants is ethically acceptable. We argue that some important features of research make it more difficult to justify withholding information in the context of research than elsewhere. (shrink)
Few contemporary philosophers have made as wide-ranging and insightful a contribution to philosophical debate as John Cottingham. This collection brings together friends, colleagues and former students of Cottingham, to discuss major themes of his work on moral philosophy. Presented in three parts the collection focuses on the debate on partiality, impartiality and character; the role of emotions and reason in the good life; the meaning of a worthwhile life and the place of theistic considerations in it. The original contributions to (...) this volume celebrate Cottingham’s work by embracing and furthering his arguments and, at times, in the best spirit of philosophical engagement, challenging and confronting them. The volume concludes with Cottingham’s specially commissioned responses to the contributions. (shrink)
Moral luck poses a problem for out conception of responsibility because it highlights a tension between morality and lack of control. Michael Slote’s common-sense virtue ethics claims to avoid this problem. However there are a number of objections to this claim. Firstly, it is not clear that Slote fully appreciates the problem posed by moral luck. Secondly, Slote’s move from the moral to the ethical is problematic. Thirdly it is not clear why we should want to abandon judgements of moral (...) blame in favour of judgements of ethical deplorability. Finally this paper defends an alternative solution to the problem of moral luck, which focuses on judgements of probability, but which has been rejected by Slote. (shrink)
This book considers two different approaches to moral luck--the Aristotelian vulnerability to factors outside the agent's control and the Kantian ambition to make morality immune to luck--and concludes that both approaches have more in common than previously thought. At the same time, it also considers recent developments in the field of virtue ethics and neo-kantianism.
This collection brings together original essays demonstrating the cutting edge of philosophical research in medical ethics. With contributions from a range of established and up-and-coming authors, it examines topics at the forefront of medical technology, such as ethical issues raised by developments in how we research stem cells and genetic engineering, as well as new questions raised by methodological changes in how we approach medical ethics.
In 1993 the Law Lords upheld the original conviction of five men under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act for participating in sado-masochistic practices. Although the five men were fully consenting adults, the Law Lords held that consent did not constitute a defence to acts of violence within a sado-masochistic context. This paper examines the judgements in this case and argues that sado-masochistic practices are no different from the known exceptions cited by the court to the idea that consent (...) is no defence to violence (sport, parental chastisement and surgery). It also argues that if we can make sense of rape as a non-consensual, violent act, expressed through sex, then we can make sense of sado-masochism as a consensual sexual act, expressed through violence. (shrink)