According to radical moral particularists such as Jonathan Dancy, there are no substantive moral principles. And yet, few particularists wish to deny that something very like moral principles do indeed play a significant role in our everyday moral practice. Loathe at dismissing this as mere error on the part of everyday moral agents, particularists have proposed a number of alternative accounts of the practice. The aim of all of these accounts is to make sense of our appeal to general moral (...) truths in both reaching and justifying our particular moral judgments without thereby violating the particularists' stricture against substantive moral principles. In this paper, I argue that the most prominent non-substantive accounts of moral generalities appealed to by radical particularists – the heuristic account and default reasons accounts – fail in this aim. (shrink)
There is an obvious affinity between virtue ethics and particularism. Both stress the complexify of the moral life, the inadequacy of rule-following as a guide to moral deliberation, and the importance of judgement in discerning the morally relevant features of particular situations. Yet it remains an open question how deep the affinity goes. I argue that the radical form of particularism defended by Jonathan Dancy has surprisingly strong implications for virtue ethics. Adopting such a view would require the virtue theorist (...) either to adopt an unattractive model of moral motivation or to embrace a fairly strong version of the unity of the virtues. (shrink)
In this essay, I defend an account of right action that I shall call “asymmetrical virtue particularism.” An action, on this account, is right just insofar as it is overall virtuous. But the virtuousness of an action in any particular respect, X, is deontically variant; it can fail to be right-making, either because it is deontically irrelevant or because it is wrong-making. Finally, the account is asymmetrical insofar as the viciousness of actions is not deontically variant; if any action is (...) vicious in some respect Y, then Y is always a wrong-making feature of any action whatever that has Y. (shrink)
Although we are sympathetic to his central thesis about the illusion of will, having previously advanced a similar proposal, Wegner's account of hypnosis is flawed. Hypnotic behavior derives from specific suggestions that are given, rather than from the induction, of trance, and it can be observed in 90% of the population. Thus, it is very pertinent to the illusion of will. However, Wegner exaggerates the loss of subjective will in hypnosis.
This study used a laboratory experiment with monetary incentives to test the impact of three personal factors (moral reasoning, value orientation and risk preference), and three situational factors (the presence/absence of audits, tax inequity, and peer reporting behavior), while controlling for the impact of other demographic characteristics, on tax compliance. Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) reveals that all the main effects analyzed are statistically significant and robustly influence tax compliance behavior. These results highlight the importance of obtaining a proper understanding of (...) these factors for developing effective policies for increasing the level of compliance, and indicate that standard enforcement polices based on punishment alone should be supplemented by an information system that would acquaint tax payers with the compliance level of other tax payers; reinforce the concept of fairness of the tax system among tax payers; and develop programs that enhance and appeal to a taxpayer''s moral conscience and reinforce social cohesion. (shrink)
In the traditional fix-it model of medical decision making, the identified problem is typically characterized by a diagnosis that indicates a deviation from normalcy. When a medical problem is multifaceted and the available interventions are only partially effective, a broader vision of the health care endeavor is needed. What matters to the patient, and what should matter to the practitioner, is the patient's future possibilities. More specifically, what is important is the character of the alternative futures that the patient could (...) have and choosing among them so as to achieve the best future possible, with the ranking of outcomes determined by the patient's preferences. This paper describes the fix-it model, presents and defends the outcomes-based model, and demonstrates that the latter is useful in developing normative conceptions of informed consent and decision making and in establishing a basis for societal involvement in the decision making process. Finally, several shortcomings of the model will be acknowledged. (shrink)
Geography is experiencing a 'moral turn' in its research interests and practices. There is also a flourishing interest in animal geographies that intersects this turn, and is concurrent with wider scholarly efforts to reincorporate animals and nature” into our ethical and social theories. This article intervenes in a dispute between Michael Dear and Richard Symanski. The dispute is over the culling of wild horses in Australia, and I intervene to explore how geography deepens our moral understanding of the animallhuman dialectic. (...) I begin by situating the inquiry into ethics and animals in geography. Next, I provide a synopsis of Dear and Symanski's comments on 'animal rights', followed in 'turn by discussions of moral value and value paradigms. I then introduce a value paradigm termed geocentrism as a geographical account of our moral relations to animals. Finally, I discuss the wider significance of this debate for geographical ethics, moral philosophy and social theory. (shrink)
Workplace spirituality research has side-stepped religion by focusing on the function of belief rather than its substance. Although establishing a unified foundation for research, the functional approach cannot shed light on issues of workplace pluralism, individual or institutional faith-work integration, or the institutional roles of religion in economic activity. To remedy this, we revisit definitions of spirituality and argue for the place of a belief-based approach to workplace religion. Additionally, we describe the construction of a 15-item measure of workplace religion (...) informed by Judaism and Christianity – the Faith at Work Scale (FWS). A stratified random sample (n = 234) of managers and professionals assisted in refining the FWS which exhibits a single factor structure (Eigenvalue = 8.88; variance accounted for = 59.22%) that is internally consistent (Cronbach's α = 0.77) and demonstrates convergent validity with the Faith Maturity Scale (r = 0.81, p> 0.0001). The scale shows lower skew and kurtosis with Mainline and Catholic adherents than with Mormons and Evangelicals. Validation of the scale among Jewish and diverse Christian adherants would extend research in workplace religion. (shrink)
By shifting the focus of analysis from forgetting and remembering to interpreting and making-meaning, Erdelyi allows theoretical consideration of repression to move beyond the heuristic assumption that personal memory is necessarily private memory. In this commentary, repression is considered to be a collective process in which memories are shaped by the need for coherence between individual and social narratives.
It is widely thought that abortion on the grounds of fetal abnormality is morally justified. More controversially, Peter Singer has argued that some infants with severe disabilities ought to be killed. Many disability rights activists object that such claims and practices express disrespect toward disabled persons, even if fetuses and infants are only potentially persons. This can seem puzzling. If disabled fetuses are not members of the community of disabled persons, how can our treatment of the former express disrespect toward (...) the latter? In what follows, I shall argue for two claims: first, the he puzzle is only apparent because whether we respect someone depends not only on how we do treat him but also on how we would treat him were circumstances different, and secondly, “substitutionary arguments” for selective terminations of disabled fetuses or infants do express disrespect toward disabled persons, even if fetuses and infants are only potentially persons. (shrink)
We disagree with two of Rendell and Whitehead's assertions. Culture may be an ancestral characteristic of terrestrial cetacean ancestors; not derived via marine variability, modern cetacean mobility, or any living cetacean social structure. Furthermore, evidence for vocal behavior as culture, social stability, and cognitive ability, is richer in birds than Rendell and Whitehead portray and comparable to that of cetaceans and primates.
The fields of environmental ethics and of religion and ecology have been shaped by Lynn White Jr.'s thesis that the roots of ecological crisis lie in religious cosmology. Independent critical movements in both fields, however, now question this methodological legacy and argue for alternative ways of inquiry. For religious ethics, the twin controversies cast doubt on prevailing ways of connecting environmental problems to religious deliberations because the criticisms raise questions about what counts as an environmental problem, how religious traditions (...) change, and whether ethicists should approach problems and traditions with reformist commitments. This article examines the critiques of White's legacy and presents a pluralist alternative that focuses religious ethics on the contextual strategies produced by moral communities as they confront environmental problems. (shrink)
In this article I bring together Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray's engagements with Sigmund Freud's vexed attempt to step beyond the pleasure principle. Derrida's speculations on the name, the house and the practice of Freud find him inadvertently rewriting the conditions of the autobiographical as that which erases as much as inscribes, while Irigaray requires a sexually different modelling of what we call language if the experience of the girl is to be addressed. Yet Irigaray uncannily repeats the teleological gesture (...) of laying claim to a legacy, diagnosed in Freud by Derrida, even as this legacy is newly imagined as that of the feminine to which Freud remained blind. I then interweave these revised stakes of the fort-da game as they are expressed in two experimental films; Lynn Hershman Leeson's feature Conceiving Ada (USA, 1997) and Hussein Chalayan's short Absent Presence (UK/Turkey, 2005). One self-consciously concerns the recovery of ‘lost’ women from history (da!), the other investigates the treatment of the foreigner staged with an all-female cast (in which the instability of foreign objects can secure no fortification for the scientific subject). The films differently engage fantasies concerning genetics, and differently engage the projection of a legacy as teleological ambition. Privileging Derrida's transformation of the pleasure into the postal principle as that which invokes ‘Tele–without telos’, I ask after the transmissibility of this ambition. (shrink)
Virtue ethics is now well established as a substantive, independent normative theory. It was not always so. The revival of virtue ethics was initially spurred by influential criticisms of other normative theories, especially those made by Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, John McDowell, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Bernard Williams. 1 Because of this heritage, virtue ethics is often associated with anti-theory movements in ethics and more recently, moral particularism. There are, however, quite a few different approaches to ethics that can reasonably claim (...) to be versions of virtue ethics. The predominant strand of virtue ethics is broadly Aristotelian, although some accounts bear little resemblance to Aristotle's. In its most general form, virtue ethics is compatible with a wide range of meta-ethical and normative commitments. This diversity makes it difficult to compare virtue ethics as such with other normative theories. It can also be a challenge to see just what the various versions of virtue ethics have in common with each other. Three major types of virtue ethics are represented in the books by Rosalind Hursthouse, Michael Slote, and Christine Swanton, recommended in the following section. Each of these book sets forward a considerably self-standing form of virtue ethics. The authors differ on central issues such as the relationship between virtue and flourishing and the link between virtuous agents and right or virtuous actions. Unlike Swanton and Slote, Hursthouse defends a version of ethical naturalism that has affinities with theories recently defended by Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre. 2 Slote's theory is agent-based, meaning that his account derives judgments about the moral status of actions from moral features of agents. Hursthouse and Swanton defend theories according to which the moral status of an action depends on its broader relationship to human flourishing (Hursthouse) or whether it hits the target of a virtue (Swanton). Although these three books presently form the core of contemporary virtue ethics, there are other approaches that might reasonably be described as versions of virtue ethics, such as those presented by Julia Driver, Linda Zagzebski, and Robert Adams. 3 There are also, of course, a large number of articles in which authors defend or criticize tenets that are central to most versions of virtue ethics. Some recent articles on especially important topics are listed in the following section. Current 'hot topics' in virtue ethics include whether its account of right action is adequate and whether virtue ethics is at odds with empirical psychology. Articles on these debates and others are listed in the following section. Author Recommends: Books These three books are foundational works in contemporary virtue ethics, and represent quite different approaches to virtue ethics. For each book, I have also listed an article by the same author in which he or she articulates some similar themes. Those pressed for time or space on a syllabus might start by examining those articles. 1. Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Hursthouse defends a eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics with Aristotelian affinities. *See also Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Normative Virtue Ethics.' How Should One Live? Ed. Roger Crisp. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. 19–36. 2. Slote, Michael. Morals from Motives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Slote defends a version of virtue ethics based on evaluations of motives, drawing on historical figures like Martineau, Hutcheson, and Hume. Note that this book represents a fairly significant departure from his first book in virtue ethics, From Morality to Virtue (New York: Oxford, 1992). *See also Slote, Michael. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.' Virtue Ethics . Ed. Roger Crisp and Michael Slote. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 3. Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Swanton defends a pluralistic, non-eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics that draws on influences ranging from Aristotle to Nietzsche to contemporary psychoanalytic theory. *See also Swanton, Christine. 'A Virtue Ethical Account of Right Action.' Ethics 112 (2001): 32–52. Articles The following is a selection of articles that address some of the central and controversial topics within virtue ethics. 1. Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing.' Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 78.2 (2004): 61–75. This article addresses the problem of action guidance and the role that an account of right action should play in virtue ethics. 2. Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of the Ethics of Virtue.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Eds. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 83–96. This article articulates the central problems faced by versions of virtue ethics that rely on a conception of human flourishing. 3. Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2003): 324–39. This article raises objections about insularity and circularity to accounts of right action presented by Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton. 4. Doris, John M. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics.' Nous 32 (1998): 504–30. This article argues that situationist psychology undermines the concept of a character trait on which virtue ethicists rely. An expanded version of this criticism can be found in Doris, Lack of Character, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 5. Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Virtue Theory and Abortion.' Philosophy and Public Affairs 20.3 (1991): 223–46. This article argues that virtue ethics is capable of providing action guidance in the difficult problem of abortion. 6. Johnson, Robert N. 'Virtue and Right.' Ethics 113 (2003): 810–34. This article raises several objections against the accounts of right action in virtue ethics, one of which is that they cannot make sense of the rightness of self-improving actions. The criticism is directly primarily at Hursthouse's theory, but Swanton and Slote are discussed as well. 7. Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character.' Ethics 114 (2004): 458–91. This article argues that situationist critiques of virtue ethics rely on a mistaken understanding of virtuous character. 8. Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers.' Philosophical Studies 109 (2002): 197– 222. This article argues for an ideal observer-style account of right action in virtue ethics. 9. Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Ed. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 32–53. This article presents a view of the virtues on which the virtues are excellences in spheres of activity. Although the spheres are common to all humans, the manifestation of excellence in a given sphere is subject to cultural variation. 10. Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution.' Mind 111 (2002): 47–68. This article addresses the situationist critique of character traits by arguing that virtue ethics does not depend on the concept of a character trait as Doris and others understand it. 11. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics.' Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2008): 665–78. This article addresses the relationship between virtue ethics and radical moral particularism, arguing that the latter may have undesirable consequences for virtue ethicists unless they accept the unity of the virtues. 12. Stohr, Karen. 'Contemporary Virtue Ethics.' Philosophy Compass 1.1 (January 2006): 22–7. This article provides an overview and analysis of contemporary virtue ethics. It includes discussion of main problems and challenges for the future. 13. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue.' Journal of Ethics 7 (2003): 339–63. This article raises problems for the commonly accepted distinction between virtue and continence, arguing that the mixed emotions normally associated with continence are sometimes characteristic of virtue instead. 14. van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 50–69. This article defends agent-based virtue ethics against objections that it cannot distinguish agent-appraisal from act-appraisal and that it cannot provide adequate action guidance. Anthologies 1. Crisp, Roger, ed. How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. This is one of the first virtue ethics anthologies published, and so reflects a correspondingly earlier picture of the field. The essays, however, are important and interesting in their own right, and cover a broad array of topics. 2. Crisp, Roger and Michael Slote, eds. Virtue Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. This anthology was published over a decade ago and does not capture recent developments in the field. It is, however, an admirably thorough collection of the most influential essays from the early days of virtue ethics, both promoting and criticizing it. 3. Darwall, Stephen, ed. Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. This anthology is distinctive in that it includes material from Aristotle, Hutcheson, and Hume, along with some central contemporary sources. 4. Walker, Rebecca L. and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. Working Virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. This recent anthology focuses on applied virtue ethics and has an excellent selection of essays by influential thinkers on topics including the environment, business, medicine, war, and poverty. Online Sources 'Virtue Ethics', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/ Entry written by Rosalind Hursthouse and updated in 2007. 'Bibliography on Virtue Ethics', maintained by Jörg Schroth. http://www.ethikseite.de/bib/cvirtue.pdf Extensive list of work published in virtue ethics. Updated regularly, listed in both alphabetical and chronological order, and contains abstracts of papers. 'Janusblog', maintained by Guy Axtell. http://janusblog.squarespace.com/ Blog devoted to current work in virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, although with an emphasis on the latter. It contains spirited discussion among the many contributors, as well as a library of papers. Sample Syllabus This syllabus is for a graduate seminar or intense upper-level undergraduate course. Books for purchase for this course might include the Crisp and Slote anthology, the Walker and Ivanhoe anthology, and Hursthouse's On Virtue Ethics. Week 1: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Anscombe, Elizabeth. 'Modern Moral Philosophy' (Crisp and Slote) Foot, Philippa. 'Virtues and Vices' (Crisp and Slote) MacIntyre, Alasdair. 'The Nature of the Virtues' (Crisp and Slote) Week 2: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Stocker, Michael. 'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories' (Crisp and Slote) Williams, Bernard. 'Morality, the Peculiar Institution' (Crisp and Slote) McDowell, John. 'Virtue and Reason' (Crisp and Slote) Week 3: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part I Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Practical Wisdom: A Mundane Account.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106.3 (2006): 283–307. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics' Week 4: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part II Stark, Susan. 'Virtue and Emotion.' Nous 33.5 (2001): 440–55. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue' Week 5: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part III Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of an Ethics of Virtue' Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach' MacIntyre, Alasdair. Dependent Rational Animals, chapter 10 Week 6: Agent-Based Virtue Ethics Slote, Michael 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics' (Crisp and Slote) Slote, Michael, Morals from Motives, chapters 1 and 3 Week 7: Pluralistic Virtue Ethics Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View , chapters 3, 4, and 11. Week 8: The Situationist Critique of Virtue Ethics Doris, John. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics' Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character' Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution' Merritt, Maria. 'Aristotelian Virtue and the Interpersonal Aspect of Ethical Character.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 23–49. Week 11: Right Action – Problems Johnson, Robert. 'Virtue and Right' Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action' Week 12: Right Action – Virtue Ethics Solutions Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing' van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance' Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers' Week 13: Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles Pelligrino, Edmund. 'Professing Medicine, Virtue Based Ethics, and the Retrieval of Professionalism' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Swanton, Christine. 'Virtue Ethics, Role Ethics, and Business Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Sherman, Nancy. 'Virtue and a Warrier's Anger' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Week 14: Virtue Ethics and the Non-Human World Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Environmental Virtue Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Walker, Rebecca. 'The Good Life for Non-Human Animals: What Virtue Requires of Humans' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Focus Questions 1. What is the relationship between virtue and flourishing? Are the virtues necessary for flourishing? Sufficient? 2. Can virtue ethics provide an adequate account of right action? 3. On what concept of a character trait does virtue ethics rely, and does situationist psychology undermine it? 4. Is the project of ethical naturalism a plausible one? To what extent does the success of Aristotelian virtue ethics depend on it? 5. How does virtue ethics affect the way that applied ethics is done? (shrink)
Rebecca Bennett, in a recent paper dismissing Julian Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficence, advances both a negative and a positive thesis. The negative thesis holds that the principle's theoretical foundation – the notion of impersonal harm or non-person-affecting wrong – is indefensible. Therefore, there can be no obligations of the sort that the principle asserts. The positive thesis, on the other hand, attempts to plug an explanatory gap that arises once the principle has been rejected. That is, it holds (...) that the intuitions of those who adhere to the principle are not genuine moral intuitions, but instead simply give voice to mere (non-moral) preferences. This paper, while agreeing that Savulescu's principle does not express a genuine moral obligation, takes issue with both of Bennett's theses. It is suggested that the argument for the negative thesis is either weak or question-begging, while there is insufficient reason to suppose the positive thesis true. (shrink)
Controversy about Lynn White’s thesis that medieval Christianity is to blame for our current environmental crisis has done little to challenge the basic structure of White’s argument and has taken little account of recent work done by medieval scholars. White’s ecotheological critics, in particular, have often failed to come to grips with White’s position. In this paper, I question White’s reading of history on both interpretative and factual grounds and argue that religious values cannot be treated independently of the (...) political, economic, and social conditions that sustain them. I conclude that medieval religious values were more complex than White suggests: rather than causing technological innovation, they more likely provided a justification for other activity taking place for other reasons. (shrink)
Blair's assertion that fluid intelligence (gF) is distinct from general intelligence (g) is contradictory to cumulative evidence from intelligence research, including extant and novel evidence about generational IQ gains (Lynn–Flynn effect). Because of the near unity of gF and g, his hypothetical concept of gF' (gF “purged” of g variance) may well be a phlogiston theory. (Published Online April 5 2006).
ExcerptThe Summer 2010 issue of Telos contained an article by Rebecca E. Karl in which she alleged that, as President of the Association for Asian Studies, I argued in an “inaugural AAS speech’” that “the current appeal to a Confucian-inspired harmonious society (hexie shehui) provides evidence for the fact that the old Confucian lack of rights-thinking is the cultural basis for the CCP's lack of rights thinking.”1 No citation or footnote was offered for this allegation. First, let me clarify (...) that I never delivered an “inaugural AAS speech.” My official speech as president of the Association for Asian Studies was…. (shrink)