The Forum and the Tower tackles a fascinating and perennial topic: the relationship between the academy and the world of politics. For all the talk about the remoteness of ivory tower ideas from 'the real world,' it is the case that ideas do in fact have consequences. In recent US history, the careers of Henry Kissinger and Daniel Patrick Moynihan illustrate how ideas drive politics. Oftentimes the translations of ideas into action results in severe distortions of their original meaning, but (...) the relationship between ideas and revolutionary political and social change is a constant. The accomplished Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon traces this crucial relationship from Greek times, taking readers through the Roman Empire, Renaissance Italy, the English revolution, the Federalist era in the US, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the Concert of Europe, the progressive era, and the New Deal/World War II era. Her aim is to utilize history to show how intellectuals and politicians can work productively. That has in fact happened in recent times: the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the product of a team of philosophers and political theorists working alongside Eleanor Roosevelt. That declaration has had a lasting and positive effect on world politics, revolutionizing the terms of the discussion and setting new benchmarks for states to follow. She closes with a consideration of intellectuals in American politics in more recent times. (shrink)
In the contemporary debate on moral status, it is not uncommon to find philosophers who embrace the following basic moral principle: -/- The Principle of Full Moral Status: The degree to which an entity E possesses moral status is proportional to the degree to which E possesses morally relevant properties until a threshold degree of morally relevant properties possession is reached, whereupon the degree to which E possesses morally relevant properties may continue to increase, but the degree to which E (...) possesses moral status remains the same. -/- One philosopher who has contributed significantly to the contemporary debate on moral status and embraces the Principle of Full Moral Status is Mary Anne Warren. Warren holds not only that it is possible for some entities to possess full moral status, but that some entities actually do, e.g., normal adult human beings. I argue that two of Warren’s primary arguments for the Principle of Full Moral Status—the Argument from Pragmatism and the Argument from Explanatory Power—are significantly flawed. (shrink)
In her book, Moral Status, Mary Anne Warren defends a comprehensive theory of the moral status of various entities. Under this theory, she argues that animals may have some moral rights but that their rights are much weaker in strength than the rights of humans, who have rights in the fullest, strongest sense. Subsequently, Warren believes that our duties to animals are far weaker than our duties to other humans. This weakness is especially evident from the fact that Warren (...) believes that it is frequently permissible for humans to kill animals for food. Warren’s argument for her view consists primarily in the belief that we have inevitable practical conflicts with animals that make it impossible to grant them equal rights without sacrificing basic human interests. However, her arguments fail to justify her conclusions. In particular, Warren fails to justify her beliefs that animals do not have an equal right to life and that it is permissible for humans to kill animals for food. (shrink)
The “Phoenix Case” brought into public scrutiny a contemporary debate in Catholic moral theology over competing views on the relation of the object of the act to the physical structure of acts that arise from moral choices. A procedure that was described by hospital officials and their parent company as an indirect abortion was judged by the local ordinary, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, as a direct abortion. A debate ensued between Bishop Olmsted and Catholic Health Care West and their advisors. Eventually, (...) Bishop Olmsted excommunicated Sister Margaret Mary McBride for her role on the ethics committee approving the procedure and publicly announced his refusal to recognize the hospital as authentically Catholic. This author addresses the theological position of the hospital and addresses implications for other professionals in Catholic health care facing similar dilemmas. (shrink)
Warren’s goal is to present a ‘multi-criterial’ account of moral status—she eschews any view that holds ‘X has moral status iff X has N’ (where ‘N’ might be life, or personhood, or sentience, for example). Moral status, she asserts, is a more complex affair: it comes in degrees and there are a variety of sufficient conditions. The first part of the book (roughly three quarters of it) is devoted to outlining some standard ‘uni-lateral’ accounts, criticising them in so far as (...) they purport to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for status, but selecting the plausible parts of each to come together later in the multi-criterial account. (shrink)
: If liberal theory is to move forward, it must take the political nature of family relations seriously. The beginnings of such a liberalism appear in Mary Wollstonecraft's work. Wollstonecraft's depiction of the family as a fundamentally political institution extends liberal values into the private sphere by promoting the ideal of marriage as friendship. However, while her model of marriage diminishes arbitrary power in family relations, she seems unable to incorporate enduring sexual relations between married partners.
In 1997, five decades after the publication of the landmark Hempel-Oppenheim article "Studies in the Logic of Explanation"(, 1970) Wesley Salmon published Causality and Explanation, a book that re-addresses the issue of scientific explanation. He provided an overview of the basic approaches to scientific explanation, stressed their weaknesses, and offered novel insights. However, he failed to mention Mary Hesse's approach to the topic and analyze her standpoint. This essay brings front and center Hesse's approach to scientific explanation formulated in (...) the 1960s and argues that rereading Hesse's account one can overcome the criticisms addressed towards another influential theory of explanation that of Bas van Fraassen's. Furthermore, it could bring the traditional philosophy of science into a fruitful conversation with science and technology studies and gender studies in science, technology and medicine. (shrink)
In what follows I will briefly address (1) Mahowald's work on Josiah Royce, (2) her advocacy for "cultural feminism" and its implications for American philosophy and work still to be done, (3) her promotion of a critical pragmatism and the need to provide a pragmatist critique not only of gender injustice but all forms of injustice, and (4) Mahowald's argument for the strategy of "standpoint theory," a strategy that offers great promise for future work in American philosophy.
The resercher Ann Talbot presents in this book one of the more complex and in-depth studies ever written about the influence of travel literature on the work of the British philospher John Locke (1632-1704). At the end of the 18th century the study of travel literature was an alternative to academic studies. The philosopher John Locke recommended with enthousiasm these books as a way to comprehend human understanding. Several members of the Royal Society like John Harris (1966-1719) affirmed that the (...) learning that could be obtained through these books was different from the one that provided the educative system of that time. Travel literature could make see the source of the ignorance of the ancients; it stressed the curiosities and extraordinary facts and led to a revision of beliefs and scientific theories of the ancient world. Besides the account of a broad diversity of sujects contributed to the creation of matters of fact, and this was important in order to put rational limits to the descriptions of the world that were commonly accepted. (shrink)