In a recent article, Michael Otsuka and Alex Voorhoeve present an argument against the so-called ‘Priority View’ of distribution.1 According to that view, as stated by Derek Parﬁt, ‘beneﬁting people matters more the worse off these people are’, by virtue of the fact that a person’s utility has ‘diminishing marginal moral importance’ the better off she is.2 Otsuka and Voorhoeve claim that, because this view fails to reﬂect a signiﬁcant difference between the intrapersonal and the interpersonal, it should be rejected. (...) Their initial counter-example (pp. 171–4) asks us to imagine a young adult who is told that she is going to develop a mobility-affecting condition and has a 50 per cent chance of developing each of the following. (shrink)
In recent decades, the idea has become common that so-called virtue ethics constitutes a third option in ethics in addition to consequentialism and deontology. This paper argues that, if we understand ethical theories as accounts of right and wrong action, this is not so. Virtue ethics turns out to be a form of deontology (that is, non-consequentialism). The paper then moves to consider the Aristotelian distinction between right or virtuous action on the one hand, and acting rightly or virtuously on (...) the other. It is claimed that virtue might play an important role in an explanation of acting virtuously (as it does in Aristotle’s ethics), but that such explanations can be charged with ‘double-counting’ the moral value of the virtues. The paper concludes that, if we focus on the question of the value of virtue, rather than on the notion of right action, there is room for a self-standing and important view which could be described as virtue ethics. (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of some themes from Justice: Rights and Wrongs, by Nicholas Wolterstorff. The paper begins with a discussion of Wolterstorff’s distinction between justice as inherent rights and justice as inherent worth. It is suggested that what especially distinguishes Wolterstorff’s position is his grounding of rights in divine love. An elucidation and defence of an Aristotelian eudaimonist grounding for rights is offered. The paper ends with a critique of the ideas that human well-being can be understood in (...) terms of what God desires for us and that our worth depends on God’s love. (shrink)
Abstract: The aim of this essay is to test the claim that epistemologists—virtue epistemologists in particular—have much to learn from virtue ethics. The essay begins with an outline of virtue ethics itself. This section concludes that a pure form of virtue ethics is likely to be unattractive, so the virtue epistemologist should examine the "impure" views of real philosophers. Aristotle is usually held up as the paradigm virtue ethicist. His doctrine of the mean is described, and it is explained how (...) that doctrine can provide a framework for an account of epistemic virtue. The conclusion of the essay is that a virtue epistemology based on analogies with virtue ethics, though well worth developing and considering, will face several challenges in fulfilling the significant promises that have been made on its behalf. (shrink)
This article is a response to some of Philip Stratton-Lake’s criticisms of an earlier paper of mine in this journal, on the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account of goodness. Some elucidation is offered of the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem and of T. M. Scanlon’s view, and the question is raised of the role of goodness in the view outlined by Stratton-Lake.
This paper concerns the relation between goodness, or value, and practical reasons, and in particular the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account (BPA) of that relation recently offered by T. M. Scanlon, according to which goodness is not reason-providing but merely the higher-order property of possessing lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond in certain ways. The paper begins by briefly describing BPA and the motivation for it, noting that Scanlon now accepts that the lower-order properties in question may be evaluative. He also (...) insists that the BPA is not biconditional (wisely, since otherwise goodness becomes a ‘Cambridge property’), which leaves him with the task of explaining why goodness arises only in a sub-set of cases in which lower-order properties ground reasons. Having rejected two attempts to do this, based on elucidation of the responses and of the reasons, I suggest that Scanlon may claim that goodness arises in, and only in, cases where the lower-order properties are evaluative and that goodness itself provides us with a way of distinguishing the evaluative from the non-evaluative. In other words, he should retain the negative component of BPA, according to which being good is not itself reason-providing, while surrendering the positive, according to which the property of goodness is merely the higher-order property of having lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of the emotion of compassion or pity, and the corresponding virtue. It begins by placing the emotion of compassion in the moral conceptual landscape, and then moves to reject the currently dominant view, a version of Aristotelianism developed by Martha Nussbaum, in favour of a non-cognitive conception of compassion as a feeling. An alternative neo-Aristotelian account is then outlined. The relation of the virtue of compassion to other virtues is plotted, and some doubts sown about (...) its practical significance. (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of Jonathan Dancy's book Ethics Without Principles (2004). Holism about reasons is distinguished into a weak version, which allows for invariant reasons, and a strong, which doesn't. Four problems with Dancy's arguments for strong holism are identified. (1) A plausible particularism based on it will be close to generalism. (2) Dancy rests his case on common-sense morality, without justifying it. (3) His examples are of non-ultimate reasons. (4) There are certain universal principles it is hard (...) not to see as invariant, such as that the fact that some action causes of suffering to a non-rational being always counts against it. The main difficulty with weak holism is that justification can be seen as analogous to explanation, which will give us an atomistic and generalist conception of a normative reason. Key Words: Dancy generalism holism particularism reasons. (shrink)
John Broome's ground-breaking Weighing Lives makes precise, and supplies arguments previously lacking for, several views which for centuries have been central to the utilitarian tradition. In gratitude for his enlightening arguments, I shall repay him in this paper by showing how he could make things easier for himself by denying neutrality and accepting hedonism.
This paper is a plea for hedonism to be taken more seriously. It begins by charting hedonism's decline, and suggests that this is a result of two major objections: the claim that hedonism is the 'philosophy of swine', reducing all value to a single common denominator, and Nozick's 'experience machine' objection. There follows some elucidation of the nature of hedonism, and of enjoyment in particular. Two types of theory of enjoyment are outlined-intemalism, according to which enjoyment has some special 'feeling (...) tone'. and externalism, according to which enjoyment is any kind of experience to which we take some special attitude, such as that of desire. lnternalism-the traditional view--is defended against current externalist orthodoxy. The paper ends with responses to the philosophy of swine and the experience machine objections. (shrink)
In Reasons and the Good Roger Crisp answers some of the oldest questions in moral philosophy. Claiming that a fundamental issue in normative ethics is what ultimate reasons for action we might have, he argues that the best statements of such reasons will not employ moral concepts. He investigates and explains the nature of reasons themselves; his account of how we come to know them combines an intuitionist epistemology with elements of Pyrrhonist scepticism. He defends a hedonistic theory of well-being (...) and an account of practical reason according to which we can give some, though not overriding, priority to our own good over that of others. The book develops original lines of argument within a framework of some traditional but currently less popular views. (shrink)
Does human well-being consist in pleasure, the satisfaction of desires, or some set of goods such as knowledge, friendship, and accomplishment? Does being moral contribute to well-being, and is there a conflict between people's self-interest and the moral demands on them? Are the values of well-being and of morality measurable? Are such values objective? What is the relation between such values and the natural world? And how much can philosophical theory help us in our answers to these and similar questions? (...) Issues such as these provide the focus for much of the work of James Griffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, in whose honour Well-Being and Morality has been prepared. They are also among the main topics of these fourteen new essays by an international array of leading philosophers. Professor Griffin himself provides a further discussion of central themes in his thought, specially written in response to contributions to this volume. (shrink)
An international line-up of fourteen distinguished philosophers presents new essays in honor of James Griffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University. The essays take up topics relating to well-being and morality, prominent themes in contemporary ethics and particularly in Griffin's work. Griffin himself provides replies to these essays, offering a fascinating development of his own thinking on these topics.
We critically evaluate the ways in which competence in medical ethics has been evaluated. We report the initial stage in the development of a relevant, reliable and valid instrument to evaluate core critical thinking skills in medical ethics. This instrument can be used to evaluate the impact of medical ethics education programmes and to assess whether medical students have achieved a satisfactory level of performance of core skills and knowledge in medical ethics, within and across institutions.
A distinguished group of philosophers and management teachers here reflect on the status and prospect of business ethics, drawing on perspectives from philosophy, anthropology, management, history, social science methodology, and education.
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century. Its advocacy of utilitarianism--the view that individual and political action should be directed at the "greatest happiness"--not only influenced political life, but attracted a great deal of criticism. This is the first book dedicated to the interpretation and critical discussion of this significant work.
This volume brings together much of the most influential work undertaken in the field of virtue ethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, the collection includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtue ethics; some later criticisms of the (...) revival of virtue ethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtue ethics. (shrink)
The last few years have seen a remarkable revival of interest in the virtues, which have regained their central role in moral philosophy. This thought-provoking new collection is a much-needed survey of virtue ethics and virtue theory. The specially commissioned articles by an international team of philosophers represent the state of the art in this subject and will set the agenda for future work in the area. The contributors--including Lawrence Blum, John Cottingham, Julia Driver, Rosalind Hursthouse, Terence Irwin, Susan Moller (...) Okin, Onora O'Neill, Michael Slote, Michael Stocker, and David Wiggins--cover practical virtue ethics, ancient views of the virtues, impartiality and partiality, Kant, utilitarianism, human nature, natural and artificial virtues, virtue and the good life, the vices, emotions, politics, feminism, moral education, and community. (shrink)
We take welfarism in moral theory to be the claim that the well-being of individuals matters and is the only consideration that fundamentally matters, from a moral point of view. We argue that criticisms of welfarism due to G.E. Moore, Donald Regan, Charles Taylor and Amartya Sen all fail. The final section of our paper is a critical survey of the problems which remain for welfarists in moral theory.