Can war ever be justified? Why is it wrong to kill? In this new book Richard Norman looks at these and other related questions, and thereby examines the possibility and nature of rational moral argument. Practical examples, such as the Gulf War and the Falklands War, are used to show that, whilst moral philosophy can offer no easy answers, it is a worthwhile enterprise which sheds light on many pressing contemporary problems. A combination of lucid exposition and original argument (...) makes this the ideal introduction to both the particular debate about the ethics of killing and war, and also to the fundamental issues of moral philosophy itself. (shrink)
There are at least three times as many nations as states in the world today. This book addresses some of the special challenges that arise when two or more national communities re the same (multinational) state. As a work in normative political philosophy its principal aim is to evaluate the political and institutional choices of citizens and governments in states with rival nationalist discourses and nation-building projects. The first chapter takes stock of a decade of intense philosophical and sociological debates (...) about the nature of nations and nationalism. Norman identifies points of consensus in these debates, as well as issues that do not have to be definitively resolved in order to proceed with normative theorizing. He recommends thinking of nationalism as a form of discourse, a way of arguing and mobilizing support, and not primarily as a belief in a principle. A liberal nationalist, then, is someone who uses nationalist arguments, or appeals to nationalist sentiments, in order to rally support for liberal policies. The rest of the book is taken up with the three big political and institutional choices in multinational states. First, what can political actors and governments legitimately do to shape citizens' national identity or identities? This is the core question in the ethics of nation-building, or what Norman calls national engineering. Second, how can minority and majority national communities each be given an adequate degree of self-determination, including equal rights to carry out nation-building projects, within a democratic federal state? Finally, even in a world where most national minorities cannot have their own state, how should the constitutions of multinational federations regulate secessionist politics within the rule of law and the ideals of democracy? More than a decade after Yael Tamir's ground-breaking Liberal Nationalism, Norman finds that these three great practical and institutional questions have still rarely been addressed within a comprehensive normative theory of nationalism. (shrink)
The concepts of freedom and equality lie at the heart of much contemporary political debate. But how, exactly, are these concepts to be understood? And do they really represent desirable political values? Norman begins from the premise that freedom and equality are rooted in human experience, and thus have a real and objective content. He then argues that the attempt to clarify these concepts is therefore not just a matter of idle philosophical speculation, but also a matter of practical (...) politics, for the philosophical conclusions we reach also have important implications for the day-to-day world of political action. Touching on the work of such influential thinkers as Mill, Berlin, Hayek, Nozick, Rawls, and Williams, this book serves as a valuable introduction to the central issues in political philosophy. (shrink)
Norman Daniels, in applying Rawls’ theory of justice to the issue of human health, ideally presupposes that society exists in a state of moderate scarcity. However, faced with problems like climate change, many societies find that their state of moderate scarcity is increasingly under threat. The first part of this essay aims to determine the consequences for Daniels’ theory of just health when we incorporate into Rawls’ understanding of justice the idea that the condition of moderate scarcity can fail. (...) Most significantly, I argue for a generation-neutral principle of basic needs that is lexically prior to Rawls’ familiar principles of justice. The second part of this paper aims to demonstrate how my reformulated version of Daniels’ conception of just health can help to justify action on climate change and guide climate policy within liberal-egalitarian societies. (shrink)
Can torture be morally justified? I shall criticise arguments that have been adduced against torture and demonstrate that torture can be justified more easily than most philosophers dealing with the question are prepared to admit. It can be justified not only in ticking nuclear bomb cases but also in less spectacular ticking bomb cases and even in the socalled Dirty Harry cases. There is no morally relevant difference between self-defensive killing. of a culpable aggressor and torturing someone who is (...) culpable of a deadly threat that can be averted only by torturing him. Nevertheless, I shall argue that torture should not be institutionalised, for example by torture warrants. (shrink)
In his article 'The Evil of Death' (henceforth: ED) Harry Silverstein argues that a proper refutation of the Epicurean view that death is not an evil requires the adoption of a particular revisionary ontology, which Silverstein, following Quine, calls 'four-dimensionalism'.1 In 'The Evil of Death Revisited' (henceforth: EDR) Silverstein reaffirms his earlier position and responds to several criticisms, including some targeted at his ontology. There remain, however, serious problems with Silverstein's argument, and I shall highlight five major ones below. (...) I conclude that Silverstein has not shown that an appeal to four-dimensionalism facilitates a refutation of Epicurus, although a consideration of some of Silverstein's points helps to indicate the limited scope of the Epicurean thesis. (shrink)
Souls play a huge part in the Harry Potter story. Voldemort creates six Horcruxes, thereby dividing his own soul into seven parts, and Harry must destroy all of the Horcruxes before Voldemort can die. At different points in the books, several main characters (Harry, Sirius, and Dudley) narrowly avoid having their souls sucked out of them by a dementor; Barty Crouch, Jr., does not escape this fate. So what is the soul? In Harry Potter’s world, it (...) is clear that people have souls, and that these souls generally survive bodily death. But it is not entirely obvious how souls work and what their nature is. Over the centuries, philosophers and theologians have proposed various different accounts of the soul, and have argued about which is an accurate picture. In this chapter, I will survey some of the major philosophical accounts of the soul before turning to the question of how souls work in Rowling’s books and whether her picture of the soul is plausible. (shrink)
In his writings on school choice and educational justice, Harry Brighouse presents normative evaluations of various choice systems. This paper responds to Brighouse's claim that it is inadequate to criticise these evaluations with reference to empirical data concerning the effects of school choice.
. Michael Polanyi saw his epistemology as restoring the capacity of a scientific age to believe again in the reality of God known through religion. This central feature of Polanyi’s thought, discussed in my book The Way of Discovery, is disputed by Harry Prosch, co-author with Polanyi of Meaning. Prosch’s argument is that while in Polanyi’s view science deals with an independent reality, religion and theology do not and are only works of our imagination. This article answers Prosch with (...) a review of Polanyi’s Christian affiliations, his conceptions of the common ground of science and religion, the levels of reality to which both science and religion provide access, and his expressed aim to liberate faith from scientific dogmatism. (shrink)
Norman Daniels argues that health is important for justice because it affects the distribution of opportunities. He claims that a just society should guarantee fair opportunities by promoting and restoring the “normal functioning” of its citizens, that is, their health. The scope of citizens' mutual obligations with respect to health is defined by a reasonable agreement that, according to Daniels, should be based on the distinction between normal functioning and pathology drawn by the biomedical sciences. This paper deals with (...) the question whether it is legitimate to ascribe the responsibility of defining this important moral boundary to the biomedical sciences, which Daniels regards as value neutral. Daniels appeals to Christopher Boorse's sophisticated bio-statistical theory (BST) to show the plausibility of a value-neutral distinction between normal functioning and pathology. Here I argue that a careful analysis of the concept of normal functioning, such as the one offered by the recent critique by Elselijn Kingma, shows that it depends from evaluative assumptions. This, I argue, implies that Daniels's theory must give up its naturalistic commitments. In the conclusion, the paper offers a detailed discussion and an objection to one of Daniels's arguments in favor of a moderate form of normativism that remains too close to Boorse's naturalism. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to discuss Norman Kretzmann's account of Aquinas's discussion of will in God. According to Kretzmann, Aquinas's reasoning seems to leave no place for choice on God's part, since, on Aquinas's account, God is not free not to will Himself. And so this leads to the problem about God's willing things other than Himself. On this, Kretzmann finds serious problems with Thomas's position. Kretzmann argues that Aquinas should have drawn necessitarian conclusions from his account (...) of divine will. Moreover, in light of one reading of De veritate, q. 24, a. 3, but one not accepted by the Leonine edition, Kretzmann also maintains that Aquinas practically conceded this necessitarian view of God's creative activity in that text. My purpose will be, after presenting Kretzmann's presentation and defence of Aquinas's attribution of will to God, to examine critically his claim that Thomas should have concluded that God is not free not to create, and to determine whether a stronger argument can be made in support of Aquinas's position in light of his texts. (shrink)
Darker skin correlates with reduced opportunities and negative health outcomes. Recent discoveries related to the genes associated with skin tone, and the historical use of cosmetics to conform to racist appearance standards, suggest effective skin-lightening products may soon become available. This article examines whether medical interventions of this sort should be permitted, subsidized, or restricted, using Norman Daniels's framework for determining what justice requires in terms of protecting health. I argue that Daniels's expansive view of the requirements of justice (...) in meeting health needs offers some support for recognizing a societal obligation to provide this kind of ‘enhancement,’ in light of the strong connections between skin tone and health outcomes. On balance, however, Daniels's framework offers compelling reasons to reject insurance coverage for skin-lightening medical interventions, including the likely ineffectiveness of such technologies in mitigating racial health disparities, and the danger that covering skin-lightening enhancements would undermine public support for cooperative schemes that protect health. In fact, justice may require limiting access to these technologies because of their potential to exacerbate the negative effects of racism. (shrink)
With respect to the ethical debate about the treatment of animals in biomedical and behavioral research, Harry F. Harlow represents a paradox. On the one hand, his work on monkey cognition and social development fostered a view of the animals as having rich subjective lives filled with intention and emotion. On the other, he has been criticized for the conduct of research that seemed to ignore the ethical implications of his own discoveries. The basis of this contradiction is discussed (...) and propositions for current research practice are presented. (shrink)
Norman Bowie wrote an article on the moral obligations of multinational corporations in 1987. This paper is a response to Bowie, but more importantly, it is designed to articulate the force and substance of the pragmatist philosophy developed by Richard Rorty. In his article, Bowie suggested that moral universalism (which he endorses) is the only credible method of doing business ethics across cultures and that cultural relativism and ethnocentrism are not. Bowie, in a manner surprisingly common among contemporary philosophers, (...) lumps Rorty into a bad guy category without careful analysis of his philosophy and ascribes to him views which clearly do not fit. I attempt to provide both a more careful articulation of Rorty's views, and to use his pragmatism to illustrate an approach to business ethics which is more fruitful than Bowie's. This brand of philosophy follows the Enlightenment spirit of toleration and attempts to set aside questions of Truth, whether religious or philosophical, and have ethics centered around what James called that which is good in the way of belief. Rather than looking for metaphysical foundations or some type of external justification, ethicists perform their craft from within the cultural traditions, narratives and practices of their society. (shrink)
Could age be a valid criterion for rationing? In Just health, Norman Daniels argues that under certain circumstances age rationing is prudent, and therefore a morally permissible strategy to tackle the problem of resource scarcity. Crucial to his argument is the distinction between two problem-settings of intergenerational equity: equity among age groups and equity among birth cohorts. While fairness between age groups can involve unequal benefit treatment in different life stages, fairness between birth cohorts implies enjoying approximate equality in (...) benefit ratios. Although both questions of fairness are distinct, the resolution of the one depends on resolution of the other. In this paper, I investigate whether Daniels’ account of age rationing could be defended as a fair way of setting limits to healthcare entitlements. I will focus on two main points. First, I will consider whether the age group problem could be resolved without appealing to a conception of the good. Second, I will demonstrate that the connection between the age group problem and the birth cohort problem runs deeper than Daniels initially thought—and that it ultimately suggests a method for prioritisation in problem solving strategies. (shrink)
Just Health, by the well-known American philosopher Norman Daniels, has the ambitious goal of presenting ‘an integrated theory of justice and population health, to address a set of theoretical and real-world challenges to that theory, and to demonstrate that the theory can guide our practice with regard to health both here and abroad.’ (1)1 Daniels's fundamental question is what we owe each other in the way of the protection and promotion of health. He thinks this is fruitfully dealt with (...) by breaking it down and answering three separate questions: (i) what is the moral importance of health? (ii) when are differences in health unjust? and (iii) how should we meet health needs fairly when we cannot meet them all? (11). (shrink)
by Alonzo L Hamby Noam Chomsky The Guardian, March 8, 1996 Harry Truman is a marvellous subject for a serious biography and after decades of 'scholarly engagement' with the subject, Alonzo Hamby is well qualified to write one. As he says, Truman was a 'man of the people,' whose life 'exemplifies' many aspects of 'the American experience'. In April 1945, 'knowing little more about diplomatic arrangements and military progress than what one would read in a good newspaper, he suddenly (...) found himself responsible for overseeing the end of the war and the establishment of a new global order'. 'You, more than any other man, have saved western civilisation,' Churchill informed him. It was a 'nearvisionary achievement,' in Hamby's judgment. (shrink)
The literature on the life and work of American psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan is used to provide a critique of Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever. Derrida’s concept of archival violence relies on psychoanalysis both for its epistemology and for its exemplar of archival violence. The Sullivan literature shows how these positions become antagonistic when Derrida’s work is used to think about Freud’s critics. The published literature on Sullivan is described as a queer archive that has been strongly shaped by historical (...) shifts in discourses about homosexuality, but that continues to stimulate and frustrate attempts to know the essential truth about Sullivan. Sullivan scholars have been quick to read his personality theory as autobiography, belittling the importance of friendship in Sullivan’s developmental theory, which differentiates it from the heteronormative Oedipal narrative. It is argued that Derrida’s mode of critique would entrench rather than unearth such heteronormative historiographical moves. Scholars are invited to put Sullivan’s biographies and published works to a broader range of uses in the human sciences. (shrink)
Harry Frankfurt's conception of care and love has largely been considered a seductive theory of personality, but an untenable and irresponsible theory of moral normativity. Contrary to that interpretation, this article aims at showing that it is possible to remain faithful to Frankfurt's metaphysical premises while not falling into some moral relativism. First, by comparing Frankfurt's and Heidegger's conceptions of care, I show that Frankfurt's subordination of ethics to carology apparently commits him to a neutral foundationalism. In the next (...) step, I argue that his calling into question of the relation between rationality and morality does indeed subject moral normativity to some subjective and contingent limits. And finally, I show that the objections raised against such a conclusion can be answered by shifting Frankfurt's frontier between contingency and necessity and by exploiting his concept of wholeheartedness. (shrink)
Harry Harlow is credited with the discovery of learning set, a process whereby problem solving becomes essentially complete in a single trial of training. Harlow described that process as one that freed his primates from arduous trial-and-error learning. The capacity of the learner to acquire learning sets was in positive association with the complexity and maturation of their brains. It is here argued that Harlow's successful conveyance of learning-set phenomena is of historic significance to the philosophy of psychology. Learning (...) set is said to reflect the affirmation or rejection of hypotheses. Hypotheses are generated by the learner's brain, not its muscles. Thus, learning-set research served to advance the perspective that even nonhuman primates think and that their thinking reflects the active processing of information accrued from efforts to solve problems. Their learning processes are not simply the strengthening of some motor responses over others. Hence, learning-set research served to advance studies of animals as rational agents. This trend is serving to supplant the radical-behavioristic models, formulated earlier this century, with models predicated on rational processes for animals' complex learning and behavior. (shrink)
This article presents a response to Néron and Norman’s contention that the language of citizenship is helpful in thinking about the political dimensions of corporate responsibilities. We argue that Néron and Norman’s main conclusions are valid but offer an extension of their analysis to incorporate extant streams of literature dealing with the political role of the corporation. We also propose that the perspective on citizenship adopted by Néron and Norman is rather narrow, andtherefore provide some alternative ways (...) in which corporations and citizenship might be brought together. We conclude by suggesting that, rather than simply applying the concept of citizenship to corporations, we now need to go further in exploring how corporations might play an active role in reconfiguring the whole notion of citizenship itself. (shrink)
This commentary suggests how Norman's dual control model of vision can be fitted into a broader general model of the control of behaviour by direct (on-line) and indirect (off-line) processes. Some general principles of behavioural organization, development, and competition are described and their specific application to vision is noted.
Norman Finkelstein, a prominent political scientist specializing in the Palestine-Israel conundrum, on which he has authored five highly praised books, was denied tenure at DePaul University by the President, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, on June 8, 2007. After examining the particulars of the case, it strikes me as so obviously wrong to deny him tenure that the tenure procedure at DePaul constitutes a reductio ad absurdum of a university system which allows such a thing to happen.
Walter of Bibbesworth’s late thirteenth-century versified treatise on French vocabulary relevant to the management of estates in Britain has the first extensive list of animal vocalizations in a European vernacular. Many of the Anglo-Norman French names for animals and their sounds are glossed in Middle English, inviting both diachronic and synchronic views of the capacity of these languages for onomatopoetic formation and reflection on the interest of these social and linguistic communities in zoosemiotics.