Jewish Biomedical Law deals with the controversial issues of abortion, assisted reproduction, genetics, the obligation to heal, patient autonomy, treatment of the terminally ill, the definition of death, organ donations, and the allocation of scarce medical resources in Jewish Law. -/- The volume focuses upon the complex interplay between legal and moral elements in the decision-making process, particularly when questions of life and death (such as abortion and treatment of the terminally ill) are involved. Sinclair argues that the moral (...) element in Jewish biomedical law is of a universal, rational nature, and its theoretical basis may be located in a weak form of Natural law theory regarding the value of human life in the Jewish legal tradition. -/- The concept of patient autonomy in Jewish biomedical law is more limited than in contemporary liberal jurisprudence, and is based upon theological as well as strictly legal elements. The influence of scientific thinking upon the decision-making process in Jewish biomedical law is illustrated in a discussion of the contemporary debate concerning the permissibility of heart transplants. -/- In most chapters, Jewish law is compared and contrasted with Canon and Common Law, and the volume also discusses the role played by Jewish biomedical law in modern, secular Israeli law. In this context, it addresses the thorny issue of combining religious law with democratic principles within the framework of a secular legal system. (shrink)
This paper applies the theory of teleosemantics to the issue of moral content. Two versions of teleosemantics are distinguished: input-based and output-based. It is argued that applying either to the case of moral judgements generates the conclusion that such judgements have both descriptive (belief-like) and directive (desire-like) content, intimately entwined. This conclusion directly validates neither descriptivism nor expressivism, but the application of teleosemantics to moral content does leave the descriptivist with explanatory challenges which the expressivist does not face. Since teleosemantics (...) ties content to function, the paper also offers an account of the evolutionary function of moral judgements. (shrink)
This paper is a reply to Michael Lynch's "Truth, Value and Epistemic Expressivism" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research for 2009. It argues that Lynch's argument against expressivism fails because of an ambiguity in the employed notion of an 'epistemically disengaged standpoint'.
In this paper I argue that the explanationist argument in favour of moral realism fails. According to this argument, the ability of putative moral properties to feature in good explanations provides strong evidence for, or entails, the metaphysical claims of moral realism. Some have rejected this argument by denying that moral explanations are ever good explanations. My criticism is different. I argue that even if we accept that moral explanations are (sometimes) good explanations the metaphysical claims of realism do not (...) follow. (shrink)
This paper advances three necessary conditions on a successful account of sentential negation. First, the ability to explain the constancy of sentential meaning across negated and unnegated contexts (the Fregean Condition). Second, the ability to explain why sentences and their negations are inconsistent, and inconsistent in virtue of the meaning of negation (the Semantic Condition). Third, the ability of the account to generalize regardless of the topic of the negated sentence (the Generality Condition). The paper discusses three accounts of negation (...) available to moral expressivists. The first—the dominant commitment account—fails to meet the Fregean Condition. The two remaining accounts—commitment semantics and the expression account—satisfy all three conditions. A recent argument that the dominant commitment account is the only option available to expressivists is considered and rejected. (shrink)
What are the conditions on a successful naturalistic account of moral properties? In this paper I discuss one such condition: the possibility of moral concepts playing a role in good empirical theories on a par with those of the natural and social sciences. I argue that Peter Railton’s influential account of moral rightness fails to meet this condition, and thus is only viable in the hands of a naturalist who doesn’t insist on it. This conclusion generalises to all versions of (...) naturalism that give a significant role to a dispositional characterisation of moral properties. I also argue, however, that the epistemological and semantic motivations behind naturalism are consistent with a version of naturalism that doesn’t insist on the explanatory condition. The conclusion is that those naturalists who are attracted to accounts of moral properties such as Railton’s would do better not to insist on this\break condition. (shrink)
Ever since Kant published his Critique of Pure Reason, most philosophers have taken the distinction between science and philosophy to depend upon the existence of a class of truths specially amenable to philosophical investigation. In recent times, Quine's arguments against the analytic- synthetic distinction have cast doubt over the existence of such a class of special philosophical truths and consequently many now doubt that there is a sharp distinction between science and philosophy. In this paper, I present a perfectly sharp (...) distinction between science and philosophy which does not depend upon any distinction between philosophical and scientifi c truths. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore have recently criticized Davidson's methodology of radical interpretation because of its apparent failure to reflect how actual interpretation is achieved. Responding to such complaints, Davidson claims that he is not interested in the empirical issues surrounding actual interpretation but instead focuses on the question of what conditions make interpretation possible. It is argued that this exchange between Fodor and Lepore on one side, and Davidson on the other, cannot be viewed simply as a naturalist reaction (...) to non-naturalist philosophical inquiry. Through a careful excavation of the hidden assumptions and commitments underlying this debate, we recognize a more serious disagreement over the intellectual obligations of naturalism; a position with a firm hold on current philosophical imaginations. In the process, we gain a new appreciation for how such commitments shape these naturalist positions, and recognize that any resolution to this specific debate will require careful attention to the divergent commitments that are its real source. (shrink)
The moral belief problem is that of reconciling expressivism in ethics with both minimalism in the philosophy of language and the syntactic discipline of moral sentences. It is argued that the problem can be solved by distinguishing minimal and robust senses of belief, where a minimal belief is any state of mind expressed by sincere assertoric use of a syntactically disciplined sentence and a robust belief is a minimal belief with some additional property R. Two attempts to specify R are (...) discussed, both based on the thought that beliefs are states that aim at truth. According to the first, robust beliefs are criticisable to the extent that their content fails to match the state of the world. This sense fails to distinguish robust beliefs from minimal beliefs. According to the second, robust beliefs function to have their content match the state of the world. This sense succeeds in distinguishing robust beliefs from minimal beliefs. The conclusion is that the debate concerning the cognitive status of moral convictions needs to address the issue of the function of moral convictions. Evolutionary theorising may be relevant, but will not be decisive, in answering this question. (shrink)
This paper elaborates and defends an expressivist account of the claims of mind-independence embedded in ordinary moral thought. In response to objections from Zangwill and Jenkins it is argued that the expressivist 'internal reading' of such claims is compatible with their conceptual status and that the only 'external reading' available doesn't commit expressivisists to any sort of subjectivism. In the process a 'commitment-theoretic' account of the semantics of conditionals and negations is defended.
Moral discourse is propositionally clothed, that is, it exhibits those features – such as the ability of its sentences to intelligibly embed in conditionals and other unasserted contexts – that have been taken by some philosophers to be constitutive of discourses that express propositions. If there is nothing more to a mental state being a belief than it being characteristically expressed by sentences that are propositionally clothed then the version of expressivism which accepts that moral discourse is propositionally clothed (‘quasi-realism’) (...) is self-refuting. Fortunately for quasi-realists, this view of belief, which I label ‘minimalism’, is false. I present three arguments against it and dismiss two possible defences (the first drawn from the work of Wright, the second given by Harcourt). The conclusion is that the issue between expressivists and their opponents cannot be settled by the mere fact that moral discourse wears propositional clothing. (shrink)
In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism , a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p . According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it explains why, in (...) certain circumstances, A would be motivated to φ. I then give an argument favouring motivationalism, namely that promotionalism entails that agents have reasons to perform physically impossible actions, whereas motivationalism entails that there are no such reasons. Although this is a version of the ‘Too Many Reasons’ objection to promotionalism, I show that existing responses to that problem do not transfer to the case of reasons to perform physically impossible actions. In the penultimate section I consider and reject some objections to motivationalism made by promotionalists. The conclusion is that Humeans about reasons for action should prefer motivationalism. (shrink)
This paper assesses the potential of organisational culture as a means for improving ethics in organisations. Organisational culture is recognised as one determinant of how people behave, more or less ethically, in organisations. It is also incresingly understood as an attribute that management can and should influence to improve organisational performance. When things go wrong in organisations, managers look to the culture as both the source of problems and the basis for solutions. Two models of organisational culture and ethical behaviour (...) are evaluated. They rest on different understandings of organisational culture and the processes by which ethics are enhanced. Firstly, the prevailing approach holds that creating a unitary cohesive culture around core moral values is the solution to enhancing ethical behaviour. Both the feasibility and desirability of this approach, in terms of ethical outcomes, is questioned. The second model queries the existence of organisational culture at all, arguing that organisations are nothing more than shifting coalitions of subcultures. In this second model, the very porousness of the subcultures provides a catalyst for the scrutiny and critique of norms and practices. Such diversity and debate is construed as potentially a better safeguard for ethical behaviour than the uniformity promised by the unitary, strong culture model. (shrink)
Many expressivists have employed a claim about the practicality of morality in support of their view that moral convictions are not purely descriptive mental states. In this paper I argue that all extant arguments of this form fail. I distinguish several versions of such arguments and argue that in each case either the sense of practicality the argument employs is too weak, in which case there is no reason to think that descriptive states cannot be practical or the sense of (...) practicality the argument employs is too strong, in which case there is no reason to think moral convictions are practical. I also discuss and dismiss an attempted patch of such arguments provided by Humean Psychology. The conclusion is that expressivists need to look to sources other than the alleged practicality of morality to support their position. In concluding remarks I suggest one such alternative. (shrink)
Recent trends in philosophical naturalism have their chief source in Quine's influential call to 'naturalize' epistemology, which recommended that philosophical concerns be seen as simply one part of a scientifically informed attempt to understand the natural world. The result is the view described as 'scientific naturalism' where philosophy now must defer to science when addressing questions of knowledge, meaning and existence. This naturalist turn is sometimes portrayed as a novel and radical transformation of philosophy, one that holds the promise of (...) genuine philosophical progress. However, there have been many other twentieth century American philosophers trained in different contexts and issues who have been .. (shrink)
Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. (1) Moral practice has a certain face-value, (2) only realism can vindicate this face value, and (3) the face-value needs vindicating. Two potential problems with such arguments are discussed. The first is taking the relevant face-value to involve explicitly realist commitments; the second is underestimating the power of non-realist strategies to vindicate that face-value. Case studies of each (...) of these errors are presented, drawn from the writings of Shafer-Landau, Brink and McNaughton, and from recent work in experimental metaethics. The paper then considers weak presumptive arguments, according to which both realist and non-realist vindications of moral practice are possible, but the realist vindications are more natural. It is argued that there is no sense of ‘natural’ available that can make these arguments work. The conclusion is that all extant presumptive arguments for moral realism fail. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the common practice of employing moral predicates as explaining phrases can be accommodated on an expressivist account of moral practice. This account does not treat moral explanations as in any way second-rate or derivative, since it subsumes moral explanations under the general theory of program explanations (as defended by Jackson and Pettit). It follows that the phenomenon of moral explanations cannot be used to adjudicate the debate between expressivism and its rivals.
This essay reconsiders Davidson’s critical attribution of the scheme–content distinction to Quine’s naturalized epistemology. It focuses on Davidson’s complaint that the presence of this distinction leads Quine to mistakenly construe neural input as evidence. While committed to this distinction, Quine’s epistemology does not attempt to locate a justificatory foundation in sensory experience and does not then equate neural intake with evidence. Quine’s central epistemological task is an explanatory one that attempts to scientifically clarify the route from stimulus to science. Davidson’s (...) critical remarks wrongly assign concerns to Quine’s view that it does not have and further obscures the status of his naturalized conception of epistemology. (shrink)
In this article, we document the growing influence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the realm of socially responsible investing (SRI). Drawing from ethical and economic perspectives on stakeholder management and agency theory, we develop a framework to understand how and when NGOs will be most influential in shaping the ethical and social responsibility orientations of business using the emergence of SRI as the primary influencing vehicle. We find that NGOs have opportunities to influence corporate conduct via direct, indirect, and interactive (...) influences on the investment community, and that the overall influence of NGOs as major actors in socially responsible investment is growing, with attendant consequences for corporate strategy, governance, and social performance. (shrink)
It is hardly a secret that with the philosophy of David Hume a conception of habit comes to occupy center-stage within epistemological and psychological reflection. Habit or custom is the "great guide of human life,"1 particularly in that it conditions, as the ground of the association of ideas, all our inductions concerning the objects of experience, and our beliefs that causal relations obtain between them. Yet according to Hume, we cannot say what habit itself is. Certainly, An Enquiry Concerning Human (...) Understanding describes a general and apparently common conception of "habit or custom"—terms which are presented as synonymous—in the following manner: "Wherever the repetition of any particular act or operation .. (shrink)
The main theme of the article is the tension between the obligation to preserve life, and the value of timely death. This tension is resolved by distinguishing between precipitating death, which is prohibited, and merely removing an impediment to it, which is permitted. In contemporary Jewish law, a distinction is made between therapy, which may be discontinued, and life-support, which must be maintained until the establishment of death. Another theme is that of “soft” patient autonomy, and its role in dealing (...) with the dying in both traditional Jewish law and Israel’s Terminal Patient Law, 2005. Preventing suffering in relation to a dying person, and praying for his or her death are also discussed in the article. (shrink)
"The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice." (Martin Luther King) -/- A moral explanation is an explanation of a particular or type of event (or fact or state of affairs) that features moral terms in the explaining phrase. Here are some examples. First, one way of the above quote is as the claim that, in the broad sweep of history, societies tend toward more just institutions, and that they do so precisely because these institutions (...) are just. This is a moral explanation of social development. Second, historians might claim that “The injustice of slavery contributed to its demise”: this is a moral explanation of a historical event. Third, I might say that “I believe that Hitler was morally depraved because he was morally depraved”: this is a moral explanation of a moral belief. Finally, philosophers sometimes say things like “In the original Trolley case, it is morally right to flick the switch, because this will lead to the morally best outcome”: this is a moral explanation of a particular moral fact. -/- The issue of the availability of moral explanations of these types is relevant to both normative ethics and metaethics. In normative ethics the availability of moral explanations is bound up with the possibility of general normative theories. In metaethics the issue of moral explanations is closely tied to the doctrine of moral realism. In what follows I first trace the relevance of moral explanations to normative ethics and metaethics, before considering some examples in detail. (shrink)
One of the major historical effects of Quine’s attacks upon the analytic-synthetic distinction has been to popularise the belief that philosophy is continuous with science. Currently, most philosophers believe that such continuity is an inevitable consequence of naturalism. This article argues that though Quine’s semantic holism does imply that there is no sharp distinction between truths discoverable by scientific investigation and truths discoverable by philosophical investigation, it also implies that there is a perfectly sharp and natural distinction between natural science (...) and naturalistic philosophy. (shrink)
This essay reconsiders the place of meaning within Quine’s naturalism. It takes as its point of departure Davidson’s claim that Quine’s linguistic behaviorism entails a form of semantic externalism. It then further locates this claim within the Davidson-Quine debate concerning whether the proximal or distal stimulus is the relevant determinant of semantic content. An interpretation of Quine’s developing views on translation and epistemology is defended that rejects Davidson’s view that Quine be read as a proto-externalist. Quine’s empirical evaluation of translation (...) entails no positive theoretical doctrine concerning how meaning is determined, but concludes that communication is a theoretically unquantifiable practical art or skill. Moreover, his ongoing epistemological development highlights theoretical concerns that diverge in fundamental ways from Davidson’s interest in semantics. Quine then hasreasons for resisting the entailment to semantic externalism that Davidson finds in his work. These reasons should have also ledhim to question the scientific legitimacy of Davidson’s concern with content determination. (shrink)
Mining companies in Australia are increasingly required to interact with Indigenous groups as stakeholders following Native Title legislation in the early 1990s. A study of five mining companies in Australia reveals that they now undertake a range of programs involving Indigenous communities, to assist with access to land, and to enhance their public profile. However, most of these initiatives emanate from carefully quarantined sections of mining companies. Drawing upon cross-cultural and diversity research in particular, this paper contends that only initiatives (...) that strive towards power sharing with Indigenous groups and strategies for broadening the organizational interface with Indigenous groups, will contribute to more ethical practices in mining and other companies. (shrink)
Abstract In thinking about moral education, the unit of selection almost invariably is the individual. But educational institutions and educational programmes can be moral or immoral. This is the subject matter of my Kohlberg Lecture. In his later years, particularly, Kohlberg was adding to the individual concern for the institution as the unit of selection. It is here that I join with him in this lecture. ? This is the text of the fourth annual Kohlberg Memorial Lecture which was delivered (...) at the 16th annual conference of the Association for Moral Education, Athens, Georgia, USA, 9 November 1991. (shrink)
This article treats the use of sonification in Percy Military Training Hospital’s intensive care unit, through an interview with Anaesthetist Professor Bruno Debien. It starts with a description of the environment completed by some technical information concerning the equipment. This is followed by a commented transcription of the interview with Bruno Debien and concludes with reflections on the nature of audio alarms and their relation to different modes of listening.
In comparing his conception of empiricism with that of other like-minded philosophers at the end of his 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism,' W. V. Quine famously emphasized the broader scope of his pragmatist commitment in these terms:Carnap, Lewis, and others take a pragmatic stand on the question of choosing between language forms, scientific frameworks; but their pragmatism leaves off at the imagined boundary between the analytic and the synthetic. In repudiating such a boundary I espouse a more thorough pragmatism.Such remarks have (...) resulted in Quine's work being associated with the American pragmatist tradition, where he is viewed as either continuing or reviving some of the main themes and issues representative of .. (shrink)
"[The authors] artfully piece together important essays in educational policy and philosophy. . . . The book deals in detail with such issues as teacher professionalization, moral responsibility of public schools, accountability, and ethical codes of practice. Must reading for teachers, administrators, and professors in schools and departments of education." --Choice.
This essay explores the tension between those who find value in the example of the religious life and others who take the intellectual bankruptcy of religious doctrines as recommending the complete abandonment of religion. It briefly describes John Dewey’s attempt to overcome this tension through a rethinking of the religious life and the sources of its continuing value and purpose. Dewey responds to this conflict over religion by attempting to emancipate its fundamental valuefrom the constraints of any supernatural affiliation. He (...) thereby suggests a more inclusive conception of the religious experience that permeates all aspects of social life. It is argued that Dewey’s attempt to find alternative outlets for religious values within our larger social community provides a better platform for dialogue across social divisions, since it does not begin from a secular standpoint that simply rejects the import of any sort of religious value. (shrink)
The book shows that Heidegger's Aristotle interpretation of the 1920s is integral to his thinking as an attempt to lead metaphysics back to its own presuppositions, and that his reflection on art in the 1930s necessitates a revision of this interpretation itself. It argues that it is only in tracing this movement of Heidegger's Aristotle interpretation that we can adequately engage with the historical significance of his thinking, and with the fate of metaphysics and aesthetics in the present age.