This paper examines whether patriotism and other forms of group partiality can be justified and what are the moral limits on actions performed to benefit countries and other groups. In particular, I ask whether partiality toward one’s country (or other groups) can justify attacking enemy civilians to achieve victory or other political goals. Using a rule utilitarian approach, I then (a) defend the legitimacy of “moderate” patriotic partiality but (b) argue that noncombatant immunity imposes an absolute constraint on what may (...) be done to promote the interests of a country or other group involved in warfare or other forms of violent conflict. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to describe some of John Stuart Mill’s views about property rights in land and some implications he drew for public policy. While Mill defends private ownership of land, he emphasizes the ways in which ownership of land is an anomaly that does not fit neatly into the usual views about private ownership. While most of MiII’s discussion assumes the importance of maximizing the productivity of land, he anticipates contemporary environmentalists by also expressing concerns about (...) excessive exploitation of land for productive use. I extrapolate from these remarks to suggest changes that Mill might have favored regarding ownership rights ina world in which people aimed to decrease productivity. And, I suggest, it is a virtue of utilitarianism that it so readily supports changes in important principles when circumstances change significantly. (shrink)
This is an attempt to clarify the ways in which traditional empiricist theories of mind lend support to sceptical doubts about physical objects. I argue that a crucial role is played by the assumption that having a concept consists of being able to recognize instances of that concept. I further argue that this view of concept possession is false so that any sceptical view based on empiricist assumptions about the mind is unwarranted.
R. Abelson argues that the identity theory is false because it is possible to have an infinite number of thoughts (e.G. Of natural numbers) while the number of possible brain states is finite. The refutation fails because it conflates the logical possibility of having infinite thoughts with the actual ability to have them. The latter depends on many contingent facts, One of which may be the number of possible brain states.