Sidgwick's defence of esoteric morality has been heavily criticized, for example in Bernard Williams's condemnation of it as 'Government House utilitarianism.' It is also at odds with the idea of morality defended by Kant, Rawls, Bernard Gert, Brad Hooker, and T.M. Scanlon. Yet it does seem to be an implication of consequentialism that it is sometimes right to do in secret what it would not be right to do openly, or to advocate publicly. We defend Sidgwick on this issue, and (...) show that accepting the possibility of esoteric morality makes it possible to explain why we should accept consequentialism, even while we may feel disapproval towards some of its implications. (shrink)
Evolutionary accounts of the origins of human morality may lead us to doubt the truth of our moral judgments. Sidgwick tried to vindicate ethics from this kind of external attack. However, he ended The Methods in despair over another problem—an apparent conflict between rational egoism and universal benevolence, which he called the “dualism of practical reason.” Drawing on Sidgwick, we show that one way of defending objectivity in ethics against Sharon Street’s recent evolutionary critique also puts us in a position (...) to support a bold claim: the dualism of practical reason can be resolved in favor of impartiality. (shrink)
PeterSinger is probably the best-known and most controversial ethicist in the world today. He rigorously applies utilitarian moral theory to issues such as world poverty, the environment, abortion, euthanasia and, most famously, animal welfare. He has also written a book about his grandfather, David Oppenheim, who died in Theresienstadt concentration camp. He is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.
Acrobat version This book In Defense of Animals ] provides a platform for the new animal liberation movement. A diverse group of people share this platform: university philosophers, a zoologist, a lawyer, militant activists who are ready to break the law to further their cause, and respected political lobbyists who are entirely at home in parliamentary offices. Their common ground is that they are all, in their very different ways, taking part in the struggle for animal liberation. This struggle is (...) a new phenomenon. It marks an expansion of our moral horizons beyond our own species and is thus a significant stage in the development of human ethics. The aim of this introduction is to show why the movement is so significant, first by contrasting it with earlier movements against cruelty for animals, and then by setting out the distinctive ethical stance which lies behind the new movement. (shrink)
You don't say much about who you are teaching, or what subject you teach, but you do seem to see a need to justify what you are doing. Perhaps you're teaching underprivileged children, opening their minds to possibilities that might otherwise never have occurred to them. Or maybe you're teaching the children of affluent families and opening their eyes to the big moral issues they will face in life — like global poverty, and climate change. If you're doing something like (...) this, then stick with it. Giving money isn't the only way to make a difference. (shrink)
The New Yorker calls him "the most influential living philosopher." His critics call him "the most dangerous man in the world." PeterSinger, the De Camp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, is most widely and controversially known for his view that animals have the same moral status as humans. He is the author of many books, including Practical Ethics (1979), Rethinking Life and Death (1995), and Animal Liberation (1975), which has sold more than (...) 450,000 copies. This year he published Writings on an Ethical Life (Ecco Press) and A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation (Yale University Press), which argues that the left must replace Marx with Darwin if it is to remain a viable force. (shrink)
0:52 <span class='Hi'>Peter</span> Singer: Killing a disabled infant is sometimes not wrong. Given that the infant, like any infant, is not a person, as I see it, I think that itâ€™s ethically defensible to say we do not have to continue its life. It doesnâ€™t have a right to life.
PeterSinger's remarkably clear and comprehensive Practical Ethics has become a classic introduction to applied ethics since its publication in 1979 and has been translated into many languages. For this second edition the author has revised all the existing chapters, added two new ones, and updated the bibliography. He has also added an appendix describing some of the deep misunderstanding of and consequent violent reaction to the book in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland where the book has tested the (...) limits of freedom of speech. The focus of the book is the application of ethics to difficult and controversial social questions. (shrink)
PeterSinger identifies the central vision that unifies Marx's thought, enabling us to grasp Marx's views as a whole. He sees him as a philosopher primarily concerned with human freedom, rather than as an economist or a social scientist. In plain English, he explains alienation, historical materialism, the economic theory of Capital, and Marx's ideas of communism, and concludes with an assessment of Marx's legacy.
Hegel is regarded as one of the most influential figures on modern political and intellectual development. After painting Hegel's life and times in broad strokes, PeterSinger goes on to tackle some of the more challenging aspects of Hegel's philosophy. Offering a broad discussion of Hegel's ideas and an account of his major works, Singer explains what have often been considered abstruse and obscure ideas in a clear and inviting manner.
If we agree with the notion of a global community, then we must extend our concepts of justice, fairness, and equity beyond national borders by supporting measures to decrease global warming and to increase foreign aid, argues PeterSinger.
What is ethics? Where does it come from? Can we really hope to find any rational way of deciding how we ought to live? If we can, what would it be like, and how are we going to know when we have found it? To capture the essentials of what we know about the origins and nature of ethics, PeterSinger has drawn on anthropology, evolution, game theory, and works of fiction, in addition to the classic moral philosophy (...) of such thinkers as Nietzsche, Kant, and Confucius. By choosing some of the finest pieces of writing, old and new, in and about ethics, he conveys the intellectual excitement of the search for answers to basic questions about how we ought to live. From the debates of Socrates and the profound writing of Rousseau to Jane Goodall's reflections on the ethics of chimpanzee kinship and Luther's commentary on the Sixth Commandment (thou shalt not kill), this engaging reader offers a complete and thorough introduction to the fascinating world of ethical debate. (shrink)
This volume collects a wealth of articles covering a range of topics of practical concern in the field of ethics, including active and passive euthanasia, abortion, organ transplants, capital punishment, the consequences of human actions, slavery, overpopulation, the separate spheres of men and women, animal rights, and game theory and the nuclear arms race. The contributors are Thomas Nagel, David Hume, James Rachels, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Michael Tooley, John Harris, John Stuart Mill, Louis Pascal, Jonathan Glover, Derek Parfit, R.M. Hare, (...) Janet Radcliffe Richards, PeterSinger, and Nicholas Measor. (shrink)
B'Imagine that you could choose a book that everyone in the world would read. My choice would be this book.' Roger Crisp, Ethics -/- Many people have an uneasy feeling that they may be missing out on something basic that would give their lives a significance it currently lacks. But how should we live? What is there to stop us behaving selfishly? In a highly readable account which makes reference to a wide variety of sources and everyday issues, Peter (...)Singer suggests that the conventional pursuit of self-interest is individually and collectively self-defeating. Taking into consideration the beliefs of Jesus, Kant, Rousseau, and Adam Smith amongst others, he looks at a number of different cultures, including America, Japan, and the Aborigines to assess whether or not selfishness is in our genes and how we may find greater satisfaction in an ethical lifestyle. (shrink)
This collection of articles pays homage to the creativity and scientific rigor Jerome Singer has brought to the study of consciousness and play. It will interest personality, social, clinical and developmental psychologists alike.
In the Brazilian film "Central Station," Dora is a retired schoolteacher who makes ends meet by sitting at the station writing letters for illiterate people. Suddenly she has an opportunity to pocket $1,000. All she has to do is persuade a homeless 9-year-old boy to follow her to an address she has been given. (She is told he will be adopted by wealthy foreigners.) She delivers the boy, gets the money, spends some of it on a television set and settles (...) down to enjoy her new acquisition. Her neighbor spoils the fun, however, by telling her that the boy was too old to be adopted —he will be killed and his organs sold for transplantation. Perhaps Dora knew this all along, but after her neighbor's plain speaking, she spends a troubled night. In the morning Dora resolves to take the boy back. (shrink)
In the Brazilian film "Central Station," Dora is a retired schoolteacher who makes ends meet by sitting at the station writing letters for illiterate people. Suddenly she has an opportunity to pocket $1,000. All she has to do is persuade a homeless 9-year-old boy to follow her to an address she has been given. (She is told he will be adopted by wealthy foreigners.) She delivers the boy, gets the money, spends some of it on a television set and settles (...) down to enjoy her new acquisition. Her neighbor spoils the fun, however, by telling her that the boy was too old to be adopted â€”he will be killed and his organs sold for transplantation. Perhaps Dora knew this all along, but after her neighbor's plain speaking, she spends a troubled night. In the morning Dora resolves to take the boy back. (shrink)
Even though it has always seemed to me so evidently erroneous, the view that we must test our normative theories against our intuitions has continued to have many adherents [...]. But now it faces its most serious challenge yet, in the form of Peter Unger's Living High and Letting Die. On one level this book is an attempt to tighten the argument I advanced in 'Famine, affluence and morality'. Unger argues that we do wrong when we fail to (...) send money to overseas aid organizations that will use it to save many lives. But he does much more than that. He makes his argument by presenting a wide variety of examples and telling us about the intuitive responses that he had found most people - especially his students - have to them. The responses are very difficult to reconcile with each other. Unger then offers explanations for them. His explanations are devastating for the view that we should take our intuitive responses to particular cases as the test of a sound theory, because the explanations show that our intuitive judgments are based on things that are obviously of no moral significance at all. Here is an example. Unger uses some variants on the 'trolley problem', much discussed by philosophers during the past thirty years. The problem is posed by a runaway trolley rolling down the railway track, on course to kill several innocent people further down the line. In one version of the problem you can throw a switch that will divert the trolley down another track, where it will kill just one innocent person. In another version, there is no switch, but you could push a very heavy person off a bridge in front of the trolley. The heavy person will be killed, but the trolley will be stopped and the six people will be saved. Most people think that you should throw the switch, thus causing one to die, rather than six; but they think it would be wrong to push the heavy person off the bridge into the path of the trolley. To a consequentialist this difference is puzzling. In both achieve this outcome? A Kantian, however, can claim that the responses show that our intuitions are in line with the Kantian idea that it is wrong to use someone as a means, even if by doing so there is a net saving of innocent human life.. (shrink)
In opposing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, Peter Harrell '02 in his April 3 column claims that the example of the Netherlands — so far the only country in the world where both of these practices take place openly and without fear of prosecution — shows that this would be a dangerous course to follow. But none of the evidence that he offers allows him to draw this conclusion.
The association of women with caring dispositions and thinking has become a persistent theme in recent feminist writing. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is the impetus that has been provided by the empirical work of Carol Gilligan on women’s moral development. The fact that this association is not merely an ideologically or philosophically postulated one, but is argued for on empirical grounds, tends to add to its credibility. Another reason for the resilience of the association (...) is the existence of an increasingly prominent theme in feminist thought and action that focuses on the importance of women’s difference from men, both as a fact and as a goal. Within this theme, there are various views on what the relevant differences are between women and men, and why the differences ought to be emphasized and properly respected. Women’s caring, as will be seen, turns out to have a ﬁrm presence in all of these views, and as a result, many women argue that caring should form the basis of a distinctive feminist ethic. On these views, women’s approaches to understanding moral situations, deﬁning selfconceptions, choosing goals and roles, and guiding behaviour, should all be informed by and based upon dispositions of caring. However, if this idea of a feminist ethic of care is to be plausible, it will need to be reconciled with another strong theme in feminism, according to which in fundamental moral respects women ought not be considered or treated differently from men. We will examine the standing of a feminist ethic of care in the context of this tension between the difference theme and the sameness theme in feminism. The discussion begins by re-characterizing the justice and care debate in terms of impartialist and partialist ethical perspectives, and it then goes on to indicate the various ways in which women’s presumed disposition to caring and partialism ﬁnds prominence within the difference theme. The central focus of the discussion, however, will be the question of how to reconcile the conﬂict that exists between impartialist, justice-based moral thinking, and a partialist, caring approach to morality.. (shrink)
There is now a regular season for discussing drugs in sports, one that arrives every year with the Tour de France. This year, the overall leader, two other riders, and two teams were expelled or withdrew from the race as a result of failing, or missing, drug tests. The eventual winner, Alberto Contador, is himself alleged to have had a positive test result last year. So many leading cyclists have tested positive for drugs, or have admitted, from the safety (...) of retirement, that they used them, that one can plausibly doubt that it is possible to be competitive in this event otherwise. (shrink)
For millennia, philosophers have speculated about the origins of ethics. Recent research in evolutionary psychology and the neurosciences has shed light on that question. But this research also has normative significance. A standard way of arguing against a normative ethical theory is to show that in some circumstances the theory leads to judgments that are contrary to our common moral intuitions. If, however, these moral intuitions are the biological residue of our evolutionary history, it is not clear why we should (...) regard them as having any normative force. Research in the neurosciences should therefore lead us to reconsider the role of intuitions in normative ethics. (shrink)
As I write this, in November 1971, people are dying in East Bengal from lack of food, shelter, and medical caxc. The suffering and death that are occurring there now axe not inevitable, 1101; unavoidable in any fatalistic sense of the term. Constant poverty, a cyclone, and a civil war have turned at least nine million people into destitute refugees; nevertheless, it is not beyond Lhe capacity of the richer nations to give enough assistance to reduce any further suffering to (...) very small proportions. The decisions arid actions of human beings can prevent this kind of suffering. Unfortunately, human beings have not made the necessary decisions. At the individual level, people have, with very few exceptions, not responded to the situation in any signihczmt way. Generally speaking, people have not given large sums to relief funds; they have not written t0 their parliamentaxy representatives demanding increased government assistance; they have not demonstrated in the streets, held symbolic fasts, or done anything else directed toward providing thc refugees with the means to satisfy their essential needs. At thc government level, no govcrmmcnt has given the sort of massive aid that would enable the refugees to survive fm: more than a few days. Britain, for instance, has given rather more than most countries. It has, to date, given £14,750,000. For comparative purposes, B1~itain’s share of thc nonreccverabla development costs of the Anglo-French Concorde project is already in excess of £275,000,000, and on present estimates will reach £440,000,¤00. The implication is that the British government values a supersonic transport more than thirty times as.. (shrink)
Do animals other than humans feel pain? How do we know? Well, how do we know if anyone, human or nonhuman, feels pain? We know that we ourselves can feel pain. We know this from the direct experience of pain that we have when, for instance, somebody presses a lighted cigarette against the back of our hand. But how do we know that anyone else feels pain? We cannot directly experience anyone else's pain, whether that "anyone" is our best friend (...) or a stray dog. Pain is a state of consciousness, a "mental event", and as such it can never be observed. Behavior like writhing, screaming, or drawing one's hand away from the lighted cigarette is not pain itself; nor are the recordings a neurologist might make of activity within the brain observations of pain itself. Pain is something that we feel, and we can only infer that others are feeling it from various external indications. (shrink)
If an experiment on a small number of animals can cure a disease that affects tens of thousands, it could be justifiable. Whether this is really the case in Professor Aziz’s experiments, about which I was asked in the BBC2 documentary Monkeys, Rats and Me: Animal Testing, is a question I have not studied sufficiently to offer an opinion about. Certainly it has been disputed. In my book Animal Liberation I propose asking experimenters who use animals if they would be (...) prepared to carry out their experiments on human beings at a similar mental level — say, those born with irreversible brain damage. (shrink)
What is a human life worth? You may not want to put a price tag on a it. But if we really had to, most of us would agree that the value of a human life would be in the millions. Consistent with the foundations of our democracy and our frequently professed belief in the inherent dignity of human beings, we would also agree that all humans are created equal, at least to the extent of denying that differences of sex, (...) ethnicity, nationality and place of residence change the value of a human life. (shrink)
The association of women with caring dispositions and thinking has become a persistent theme in recent feminist writing. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is the impetus that has been provided by the empirical work of Carol Gilligan on women’s moral development. The fact that this association is not merely an ideologically or philosophically postulated one, but is argued for on empirical grounds, tends to add to its credibility. Another reason for the resilience of the association (...) is the existence of an increasingly prominent theme in feminist thought and action that focuses on the importance of women’s difference from men, both as a fact and as a goal. Within this theme, there are various views on what the relevant differences are between women and men, and why the differences ought to be emphasized and properly respected. Women’s caring, as will be seen, turns out to have a firm presence in all of these views, and as a result, many women argue that caring should form the basis of a distinctive feminist ethic. On these views, women’s approaches to understanding moral situations, defining selfconceptions, choosing goals and roles, and guiding behaviour, should all be informed by and based upon dispositions of caring. However, if this idea of a feminist ethic of care is to be plausible, it will need to be reconciled with another strong theme in feminism, according to which in fundamental moral respects women ought not be considered or treated differently from men. (shrink)
To challenge my students to think about the ethics of what we owe to people in need, I ask them to imagine that their route to the university takes them past a shallow pond. One morning, I say to them, you notice a child has fallen in and appears to be drowning. To wade in and pull the child out would be easy but it will mean that you get your clothes wet and muddy, and by the time you go (...) home and change you will have missed your first class. (shrink)
The idea behind Lauren Slater's book is simple but ingenious: pluck 10 leading experiments in 20th-century psychology from the pages of the scientific journals in which they were first published, dust off the painfully academic style in which they were written up, add some personal details about the experimenters and retell them as intellectual adventures that help us to understand who we are and what our minds are like.
The great irony of the work of right-to-life advocates who sought in vain to prolong Terri Schiavo's life is that all the publicity about the case has triggered a surge in the number of people completing advance declarations, making it clear that they do not wish to continue to live in circumstances like those in which Schiavo lived for the fifteen years before her death. Thus, the fight over the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube is likely to significantly increase the (...) number of feeding tubes removed. More broadly, the case has revived interest in the full range of right-to-die questions, including issues like active voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide-which, because they require a patient to be competent to make decisions, raise ethical questions very different from those at issue in the Schiavo case. (shrink)
The isolation of the Netherlands as the only country in which voluntary euthanasia is legal is about to end. In October 2001 the Belgian Senate voted by almost a 2:1 margin to allow doctors to act on a patient's request for assistance in dying. The legislation is expected to pass the lower house shortly. That the Netherlands' closest neighbor is likely to be the next country to take this step should provide food for thought among those who have denounced voluntary (...) euthanasia in the Netherlands as rife with abuses. If that were really the case, why would the country that is better placed than all others to know what goes on in the Netherlands – not only because of its geographical proximity, but because most of its people are Dutch-speaking – be ready to copy the Dutch model? (shrink)
George W. Bush has often emphasized the importance of taking responsibility for the decisions one makes. "America, at its best," he has said, "is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected." When he was governor of Texas, he told an audience at Texas A&M University: "Always remember: you are responsible for the decisions you make." That seems a plausible moral stance. But over the past few months, it has become difficult to understand what Bush might mean by the (...) idea that we are responsible for our decisions. (shrink)
In his book A Charge to Keep, George W. Bush writes of his decision to "recommit my heart to Jesus Christ." He traces it to a walk along the beach in Maine with the Christian evangelist Billy Graham. Conversing with Graham, Bush was "humbled to learn that God had sent His Son to die for a sinner like me." After his decision to recommit himself to Jesus, Bush tells us, he began to read the Bible regularly and joined a Bible (...) study group. Later, when Bush describes a visit to Israel that he and his wife, Laura, made in 1998, we get a further insight into his view of the Gospels as history. George and Laura went, he tells us, to the Sea of Galilee and "stood atop the hill where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount." It was, he adds, "an overwhelming feeling to stand in the spot where the most famous speech in the history of the world was delivered, the spot where Jesus outlined the character and conduct of a believer and gave his disciples and the world the beatitudes, the golden rule, and the Lord's Prayer." Bush concludes his account of his visit to Israel by saying he knows that faith changes lives, because "faith changed mine." This faith is something that enables him to build his life on "a foundation that will not shift.". (shrink)
When times are hard and governments are looking for ways to reduce expenditure, a book like Anarchy, State, and Utopia is about the last thing we need. That will be the reaction of some readers to this book. It is, of course, an unfair reaction, since a work of philosophy that consists of rigorous argument and needle-sharp analysis with absolutely none of the unsupported vague waffle that characterizes too many philosophy books must be welcomed whatever we think of its conclusions. (...) The chances of Gerald Ford reasoning his way through Nozick's book to the conviction that he ought to cut back the activities of the state in fields like welfare, education, and health are not high. The book will probably do more good in raising the level of philosophical discussion than it will do harm in practical politics. (shrink)
More than a billion people now live on less than the purchasing-power equivalent, in their own country, of what can be bought in the United States for $1. In the year 2000, Americans made private donations for foreign aid of all kinds totaling about $4 per person, or roughly $20 per family. Through their government, they gave an additional $10 per person, or $50 per family. That makes a total of $70 per family.
Now that the United States is again considering going to war, it is timely to reassess the last war fought by the Bush Administration. Was the war in Afghanistan a just war? If not, our scrutiny of present moves towards another US-initiated war will need to be that much more strict.
As the war goes on, the casualties inevitably rise: American and British combatants, Australian and British journalists, Iraqi combatants, and Iraqi civilians are being killed. How many lives is it justifiable to sacrifice to protect our security, and to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship?
After reading Fouts' Next Of Kin I was speechless. I can express how wonderful it is to learn from an individual whose humility, concern for life and compassion is his life work. I simply could not put the book down! It was one of the most thoughtful, eye-opening, and educated books that I have ever read. Having the opportunity to listen to Roger Fouts speak on book tour, my heart opened to his message of compassion; his willingness to express his (...) feelings and experiences to a group of strangers further enhanced my view of this incredible individual. A book that will change your life and the way you see our next of kin and the fellow animals of this world. (shrink)
Since coming to Princeton, I have been impressed by two things: how rich the University is, and how seriously ethics is taken here. The wealth is evident to anyone who walks around the campus or uses the library. In comments marking President Shapiro's planned retirement from the presidency, it has been said that one of his achievements was to build the University's endowment from $2 billion to $8 billion. At a dinner a few months ago, a senior Princeton administrator told (...) me proudly that, on a per-student basis, Princeton is now the richest university in the world. (shrink)
George W. Bush is not only America’s president, but also its most prominent moralist. No other president in living memory has spoken so often about good and evil, right and wrong. His inaugural address was a call to build “a single nation of justice and opportunity.” A year later, he famously proclaimed North Korea, Iran and Iraq to be an “axis of evil,” and in contrast, he called the United States “a moral nation.” He defends his tax policy in moral (...) terms, saying that it is fair, and gives back to taxpayers what is rightfully theirs. The case he makes for free trade is “not just monetary, but moral.” Open trade is a “moral imperative.” Another “moral imperative,” he says, is alleviating hunger and poverty throughout the world. He has said that “America’s greatest economic need is higher ethical standards.” In setting out the “Bush doctrine,” which defends preemptive strikes against those who might threaten America with weapons of mass destruction, he asserted: “Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place.” But in what moral truths does the president believe? Considering how much the president says about ethics, it is surprising how little serious discussion there has been of the moral philosophy of George W. Bush. (shrink)
This is exciting medical researchers because it means that, at least in theory, the cells from an early embryo could eliminate the need for organ transplants entirely, cure leukaemia, enable people with diabetes to manufacture insulin, treat Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and repair the nerve systems of quadriplegics. Though these prospects are still far from realisation, results achieved by Oliver Brustle at the University of Bonn Medical Centre have brought them a step closer. In an article published in Science on (...) July 30, Brustle reported that he was able to repair the damaged nervous systems of rats using cells taken from embryos. (shrink)
Liver transplantation is the treatment of choice for many forms of liver disease. Unfortunately, the scarcity of cadaveric donor livers limits the availability of this technique. To improve the availability of liver transplantation, surgeons have developed the capability of removing a portion of liver from a live donor and transplanting it into a recipient. A few liver transplants using living donors have been performed worldwide.Our purpose was to analyze the ethics of liver transplants using living donors and to propose guidelines (...) for the procedure before it was introduced in the United States. We used a process of research ethics consultation that involves a collaboration between clinical investigators and clinical ethicists. We concluded that it was ethically appropriate to perform liver transplantation using living donors in a small series of patients on a trial basis, and we published our ethical guidelines in a medical journal before the procedure was introduced. We recommend this prospective, public approach for the introduction of other innovative therapies in medicine and surgery. (shrink)
George W. Bush is not only America’s president, but also its most prominent moralist. No other president in living memory has spoken so often about good and evil, right and wrong. […] But in what moral truths does the president believe? Considering how much the president says about ethics, it is surprising how little serious discussion there has been of the moral philosophy of George W. Bush.
Reason's capacity to take us where we did not expect to go could also lead to a curious diversion from what one might expect to be the straight line of evolution. We have evolved a capacity to reason because it helps us to survive and reproduce. But if reason is an escalator, then although the first part of the journey may help us to survive and reproduce, we may go further than we needed to go for this purpose alone. We (...) may even end up somewhere that creates tension with other aspects of our nature. In this respect, there may after all be some validity in Kant's picture of tension between our capacity to reason, and what it may lead us to see as the right thing to do, and our more basic desires. We can live with the contradictions only up to a point. (shrink)
As modern cultures become more secular, celebrities seem to fill the roles once occupied by the gods of old. Sometimes the differences between the two start to blur. Some people insist Elvis never died. Or was that Jim Morrison? The recent tributes to Princess Diana ten years after her death show that she is starting to ascend into the celebrity pantheon. Has Diana become a new kind of saint? If so, what does that tell us about some people’s need to (...) have someone to revere—preferably someone who did not live out a normal life-span? (shrink)
That question has been with us ever since medical technology began pushing back the limits of viability from the traditional 28 weeks of gestation to something closer to 23 weeks today. It requires ethical reflection about when a human life is worth trying to save and what role the risk of serious disability should play in that decision.
Ever since August 2001, when President Bush announced his shaky compromise policy on federal funding for research on stem cells, American scientists have been charging that the policy severely impedes progress in this promising new area. Bush's policy allowed federal funding only for research using stem cell lines that were in existence on the date of his speech. Thus, he maintained, such funding would not encourage anyone to destroy human embryos to obtain stem cells, because if they did so, the (...) newly created stem cell lines could not be developed or studied with federal funding. (shrink)
What country has the most advanced animal protection legislation in the world? If you guessed the United States, go to the bottom of the class. The United States lags far behind all 25 nations of the European Union, and most other developed nations as well, such as Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. To gauge just how far behind the United States is, consider these three facts.
An "avalanche," a "flood"—these terms have been used to describe not natural disasters but the money flowing to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At the time of writing, the total given to public appeals has reached $1.3 billion. Of this, according to a New York Times survey, $353 million has been raised exclusively for the families of about 400 police officers, firefighters, and other uniformed personnel who died trying to save others. That comes to $880,000 for each family. (...) Families of victims who were not in uniform will receive much less, because the remaining funds must be spread over a much larger number of people, including those who have lost their jobs because of the attacks. (shrink)
For a very long time, the scientific and animal welfare communities have faced each other across a seemingly unbridgeable divide. Each side tends to view the other in simplistic and distorted terms. Animal welfare advocates see scientists as, at worst, sadists who enjoy torturing animals, and at best, as self-interested careerists intent on building careers out of publishing more papers and getting more grants, irrespective of the cost to animals. Scientists committed to research see the animal movement as consisting of, (...) at best, ignorant, simple-minded people awash in emotion and sensationalism, and at worst, violent and dangerous fanatics who claim to care for animals but are indifferent to human suffering. (shrink)
The unknown author of Genesis portrayed God as first creating the animals and then making man in his own image. Ever since, western tradition has tried to draw a sharp divide between ourselves and other animals. Even after Darwin had shown the continuities between ourselves and other apes, we have tried to cling to the idea that there is something quite unique to human beings, some way in which we differ, not only in degree, but also in kind, from animals. (...) The most popular candidate for that unique distinction is our use of language. (shrink)
Those are the words of Pope John Paul II, speaking in March 2004 to an international congress held in Rome. The conference was on "Life-sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas," and it was organized by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and the Pontifical Academy for Life. The pope was able to cut through all the ethical dilemmas. Although he acknowledged that a patient in a persistent vegetative state, or PVS, "shows no evident sign of (...) selfawareness or of awareness of the environment, and seems unable to interact with others or to react to specific stimuli," he said that they should be kept alive indefinitely. Such patients, he insisted, "retain their human dignity in all its fullness" and "the loving gaze of God the Father continues to fall upon them." For this reason, he said, it is obligatory to continue to provide them with food and water, even if this can only be done through a tube. The pope added that to withdraw the tube, knowing that it will lead to the death of the patient, is "euthanasia by omission.". (shrink)
Representative Tom Coburn (R- Okla.), a supporter of a measure passed by the House of Representatives to Congress to overturn Oregon's law allowing physician-assisted suicide, said these words on Jim Lehrer's News Hour, last October 27. Is it possible that Representative Coburn really cannot see the flagrant contradiction between wishing the United States to be "the freest nation in the world" and insisting on ramming the belief that life has value down the throats of terminally ill people who have made (...) careful, considered, and well-grounded decisions that they do not want to continue to live? (shrink)
Consider the idea that moral rules must be suitable for public acknowledgement and acceptance, i.e., that moral rules must be suitable for being ‘widely known and explicitly recognized’, suitable for teaching as part of moral education, suitable for guiding behaviour and reactions to behaviour, and thus suitable for justifying one’s behaviour to others. This idea is now most often associated with John Rawls, who traces it back through Kurt Baier to Kant. My book developing ruleconsequentialism, Ideal Code, Real World, accepted (...) the ‘publicity requirement’ on moral rules. Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and PeterSinger attack my moral theory on precisely this matter. Here I reply to their attack. The question under discussion is whether moral rightness is a matter of the application of principles or rules that must be suitable for public acceptance. No, answered Henry Sidgwick, holding that perhaps the principles that determine moral right and wrong should be kept secret, because publicizing these principles would not maximize utility. Since I think not-purely utilitarian forms of consequentialism may be more plausible than purely utilitarian forms, let me make the point in terms of consequentialism instead of utilitarianism. The standard form of act-consequentialism is maximizing and ‘global’, i.e., direct about everything. This act-consequentialism includes, among the acts to be evaluated by their consequences, instances of espousing principles, teaching morality, blaming, feeling indignation, feeling guilt, and punishing. On this form of act-consequentialism, an act that maximizes good consequences might be one that others should blame and even punish, since blaming and punishing the agent of the good-maximizing act might also for some reason maximize good consequences. Likewise, on this standard form of act-consequentialism, it may be right to do what it would be right neither to advocate openly nor even to recommend privately. All these ideas are entailed by the kind of act-consequentialism that evaluates, by their consequences, all ‘acts’—in a very broad sense of the term that takes in not only acts of doing or allowing but also acts of blaming, punishing, and recommending. De Lazari-Radek and Singer accept that there are strong consequentialist considerations in support of ‘board support for transparency in ethics’ and avoiding esoteric morality in most circumstances.. (shrink)
The ‘publicity requirement on moral rules’ refers to the idea that moral rules must be suitable for public acknowledgement and acceptance. The idea is that moral rules must be suitable for being ‘widely known and explicitly recognized’, suitable for teaching as part of moral education, suitable for guiding behaviour and reactions to behaviour, and thus suitable for justifying one’s behaviour to others. The publicity requirement is now most often associated with John Rawls, who traces it back through Kurt Baier to (...) Kant.1 Ideal Code, Real World, my book defending rule-consequentialism, accepted the publicity requirement.2 In this issue of Ratio, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and PeterSinger attack the publicity requirement.3 Here is my reply. Is moral rightness is a matter of the application of principles or rules that must be suitable for public acceptance? No, answered Henry Sidgwick, holding that perhaps the principles that determine moral right and wrong should be kept secret, because publicizing these principles would not maximize utility.4 Since I think that forms of consequentialism that are not purely utilitarian may be more plausible than forms that are purely utilitarian, let me make the point in terms of consequentialism instead of utilitarianism. The standard form of act-consequentialism is maximizing and ‘global’, i.e., direct about everything.5 This act-consequentialism includes, among the acts to be evaluated by their consequences, instances of espousing principles, teaching morality, blaming, feeling indignation, feeling guilt, and punishing. According to this form of act-consequentialism, an act that maximizes good consequences might be one that others should blame and even punish, since blaming and punishing the agent of the good-maximizing act might also for some reason maximize good consequences. Likewise, on this standard form of actconsequentialism, it may be right to do what it would be right neither to advocate openly nor even to recommend privately.. (shrink)
A common objection to utilitarianism is that it clashes with our common moral intuitions. Understanding the role that heuristics play in moral judgments undermines this objection. It also indicates why we should not use John Rawls' model of reflective equilibrium as the basis for testing normative moral theories.
Honesty requires, Margaret Somerville writes in Death Talk, that those who engage in the euthanasia debate disclose their position. She is against euthanasia. When I began reading her book, I was for legalizing voluntary euthanasia. Having finished her book, I still am.
Este artículo examina los presupuestos metodológicos, axiológicos y normativos en los que descansa la que posiblemente sea la obra más conocida de PeterSinger, Liberación animal. Se exploran las tensiones entre la posición normativa, de compromisos mínimos, que se intenta adoptar en esa obra, y las posiciones de Singer acerca del utilitarismo de las preferencias y el argumento de la reemplazabilidad. Se buscará elucidar en particular el modo en el que surgen tales tensiones al abordarse la consideración (...) del agregacionismo y el interés en vivir en relación con el uso de animales no humanos. This paper examines the methodological, axiological and normative assumptions on which Animal Liberation -arguably the most poular work by PeterSinger- rests. It explores the tensions between the normative position this book intends to adopt, which tries to compromise as little as possible with any specific normative theory, and Singer's views on preference utilitarianism and the replaceability argument. In particular, the paper tries to assess the way in which such tensions arise when aggregationism and the question of the interest in living are considered in relation to the use of nonhuman animals. (shrink)
Bonnie Steinbock argues that PeterSinger has made an important contribution to remind us that animals deserve very special consideration, but that he fails to make a compelling case against "speciesism.".
This paper addresses PeterSinger's claim that cognitive ability can function as a universal criterion for measuring moral worth. I argue that Singer fails to adequately represent cognitive capacity as the object of moral knowledge at stake in his theory. He thus fails to put forth credible knowledge claims, which undermines both the trustworthiness of his moral theories and the morality of the actions called for by these theories. I situate Singer's methods within feminist critiques of (...) moral reasoning and moral epistemology, and argue that Singer's methods are problematic for moral reasoning because they abstract from their object valuable contextual features. I further develop this claim by showing the importance of embodiment for the construal of objects of moral knowledge. Finally, I develop the moral and scholarly implications of this critique. By showing that the abstract, universal methods of reasoning Singer employs cannot credibly construe the objects of ethical inquiry, I call into question the validity of these methods as a means to moral knowledge in general. Furthermore, since moral reasoning takes place within an embodied moral landscape, it is itself a moral enterprise. Singer's moral reasoning, and ours, must be held accountable for its knowledge claims as well as its concrete effects in the world. (shrink)
As we begin our exploration of our relationship with animals, we come face to face with PeterSinger and his insistence that speciesism is a vice. It is important to come to know what he means by speciesism, why he regards it as a moral mistake.