Our trust in the word of others is often dismissed as unworthy, because the illusory ideal of "autonomous knowledge" has prevailed in the debate about the nature of knowledge. Yet we are profoundly dependent on others for a vast amount of what any of us claim to know. Coady explores the nature of testimony in order to show how it might be justified as a source of knowledge, and uses the insights that he has developed to challenge certain widespread (...) assumptions in the areas of history, law, mathematics, and psychology. (shrink)
Coady explores the challenges that morality poses to politics. He confronts the complex intellectual tradition known as realism, which seems to deny any relevance of morality to politics, especially international politics. He argues that, although realism has many serious faults, it has lessons to teach us: in particular, it cautions us against the dangers of moralism in thinking about politics and particularly foreign affairs. Morality must not be confused with moralism: Coady characterizes various forms of moralism and sketches (...) their distorting influence on a realistic political morality. He seeks to restore the concept of ideals to an important place in philosophical discussion, and to give it a particular pertinence in the discussion of politics. He deals with the fashionable idea of "dirty hands," according to which good politics will necessarily involve some degree of moral taint or corruption. Finally, he examines the controversial issue of the role of lying and deception in politics. Along the way Coady offers illuminating discussion of historical and current political controversies. This lucid book will provoke and stimulate anyone interested in the interface of morality and politics. (shrink)
The traditional, intuitively appealing, test for causation in tort law, known as 'the but-for test' has been subjected to what are widely believed to be devastating criticisms by Tony Honore, and Richard Wright, amongst others. I argue that the but-for test can withstand these criticisms. Contrary to what is now widely believed. there is no inconsistency between the but-for test and ordinary language, commonsense, or sound legal principle.
To walk or not to walk: Should a batsman acknowledge his own dismissal by leaving the wicket without even waiting for the umpire's decision? David Coady and Samir Chopra examine this flashpoint ethical debate in cricket.
This article focuses on the ethical implications of so-called ‘collateral damage’. It develops a moral typology of collateral harm to innocents which occurs as a side effect of military or quasi-military action. Distinguishing between accidental and incidental collateral damage, it introduces four categories of such damage: negligent, oblivious, knowing, and reckless collateral damage. Objecting mainstream versions of the doctrine of double effect, in the article it is argued that in order for any collateral damage to be morally permissible, violent agents (...) must comply with high standards of care. In order for incidental harm to be permissible, an agent must take pains to avoid such harm even at higher cost to him. Adding to the doctrine, it is argued that accidentally, but negligently caused collateral damage may be just as difficult to excuse as incidental harm. Only if high precautionary standards of care are met, unintended harm to innocents – incidental or accidental – can be permissible. In practice, such a strong commitment to avoiding harm to civilians may well lead us to question more generally and rethink more radically how violent conflicts ought to be fought, how military violence ought to be used and whether there are better ways of achieving those aims that we think are legitimate than those we are currently taking. (shrink)
This paper begins with a discussion of different definitions of “terrorism” and endorses one version of a tactical definition, so-called because it treats terrorism as involving the use of a quite specific tactic in the pursuit of political ends, namely, violent attacks upon the innocent. This contrasts with a political status definition in which “terrorism” is defined as any form of sub-state political violence against the state. Some consequences of the tactical definition are explored, notably the fact that (unlike the (...) political status definition) it allows for the possibility of state terrorism against individuals, sub-state groups and other states. But a major problem for the tactical definition is the account to be given of “the innocent.” In line with justwar thinking, the idea of “the innocent” is unpacked in terms of the concept of non-combatants and this in turn is treated as the category of those who are not prosecuting the harm that allows for a legitimate violent response. Problems with this approach are explored, with particular reference to criticisms made by Gregory Kavka. The recent drive to expand the class of those who may be legitimately attacked is subjected to scrutiny. Particular attention is paid to the role of “collective responsibility” and “deserving your government” in these arguments. (shrink)
I describe two concepts of epistemic injustice. The first of these concepts is explained through a critique of Alvin Goldman's veritistic social epistemology. The second is closely based on Miranda Fricker's concept of epistemic injustice. I argue that there is a tension between these two forms of epistemic injustice and tentatively suggest some ways of resolving the tension.
Abstract It is widely believed that to be a conspiracy theorist is to suffer from a form of irrationality. After considering the merits and defects of a variety of accounts of what it is to be a conspiracy theorist, I draw three conclusions. One, on the best definitions of what it is to be a conspiracy theorist, conspiracy theorists do not deserve their reputation for irrationality. Two, there may be occasions on which we should settle for an inferior definition which (...) entails that conspiracy theorists are after all irrational. Three, if and when we do this, we should recognise that conspiracy theorists so understood are at one end of a spectrum, and the really worrying form of irrationality is at the other end. (shrink)
Any attempt to justify war in the fashion of just war theories risks underestimating its morally problematic nature. This becomes clear if we ask how the individual soldier or citizen is supposed to use just war theory in his own thinking. Michael Walzer's recent book, Just and Unjust Wars, illustrates the problem nicely. Walzer's view is that whether a state is justified in going to war is not a matter for the citizen to judge, and with regard to the way (...) the war is conducted the individual soldier can have only minimal moral responsibility for what is done. Walzer's position is criticized in detail and the conclusion drawn that such an understanding of just war theory undermines the theory's significance as a moral outlook on war. It is also argued that a more pertinent version of just war theory must have strong implications for social change. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman claims that the conventional media is in decline as a result of competition from the blogosphere, and that this is a threat to our epistemic wellbeing and, as a result, a threat to good democratic decision-making. He supports this claim with three common complaints about the blogosphere: first, that it is undermining professional journalism, second, that, unlike the conventional media, it lacks ‘balance’, and finally that it is a parasite on the conventional media. I defend the blogosphere against (...) these charges. I argue that the blogosphere has benefited us epistemically and improved our democratic practices, and that there is every reason to expect that it will continue to do so. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman has criticized the idea that, when evaluating the opinions of experts who disagree, a novice should “go by the numbers”. Although Goldman is right that this is often a bad idea, his argument involves an appeal to a principle, which I call the non-independence principle, which is not in general true. Goldman's formal argument for this principle depends on an illegitimate assumption, and the examples he uses to make it seem intuitively plausible are not convincing. The failure of (...) this principle has significant implications, not only for the issue Goldman is directly addressing, but also for the epistemology of rumors, and for our understanding of the value of epistemic independence. I conclude by using the economics literature on information cascades to highlight an important truth which Goldman's principle gestures toward, and by mounting a qualified defense of the practice of going by the numbers. (shrink)
Conspiracy theories have a bad reputation. This is especially true in the academy and in the media. Within these institutions, to describe someone as a conspiracy theorist is often to imply that his or her views should not be taken seriously. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that philosophers have tended to ignore the topic, despite the enduring appeal of conspiracy theories in popular culture. Recently, however, some philosophers have at least treated conspiracy theorists respectfully enough to try to articulate (...) where they go wrong.I begin this paper by clarifying the nature of conspiracy theories. I then argue against some recent critiques of conspiracy theories. Many criticisms of conspiracy theories are unfounded. I also argue that unwillingness to entertain conspiracy theories is an intellectual and moral failing. I end by suggesting an Aristotelian approach to the issue, according to which the intellectual virtue of realism is a golden mean between the intellectual vices of paranoia and naivety. (shrink)
Just war theory entails that some wars may be morally unjustifiable, and hence citizens may be right to object morally to their government''s waging of a war and to their being compelled to serve in it. Given the evils attendant upon even justified war, this fact sharply restricts any obligation to die for the state, and raises important questions about the appropriate state response to selective conscientious objectors. This paper argues that such people should be legally accommodated, and discusses objections (...) to doing so, in particular, the possible erosion of the state''s capacity to wage justified war, the unfairness of granting such exemptions from military service, and the impossibility of determining genuinely conscientious objection. (shrink)
Rumours are widely held to be both epistemically and morally suspect. This article concentrates on the epistemic arguments against rumours, since the moral arguments tend to be dependent on them. I conclude that the usual arguments against believing rumours and engaging in rumour-mongering are extremely weak. I compare the epistemic status of rumours to the epistemic status of some rival methods of acquiring information, and conclude that rumours are an important and irreplaceable source of justified belief and knowledge.
The latter part of the twentieth century saw the Chinese economy moving towards a socialist market economy rather than a planned system. Despite growing interest in Chinese business ethics, little work has examined ethical issues concerning the Chinese sales force. This study draws from existing work on Chinese and Western business and sales ethics to develop hypotheses regarding the perceptions of unethical selling behaviour of modern Chinese salespeople. A survey of Chinese sales executives is conducted and statistically analysed. Results are (...) compared with those reported in previous US-based research with regard to differences in perceptions of unethical selling behaviour. The results indicate that contemporary Chinese salespeople were more favourably disposed than expected towards unethical selling behaviour, and also more favourably disposed than previously studied US salespeople. Younger Chinese salespeople evaluated unethical behaviours more favourably than older ones. The results are discussed, along with implications for theory, practice and future work. (shrink)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's thinking about ethics and Christianity is a fascinating attempt to combine different, and often conflicting, strands in the Christian intellectual tradition. In this article, I outline his thinking, analyse the advantages and disadvantages in his approach, and relate it to developments in contemporary philosophy. His critique of an excessive stress upon principles and abstraction in opposition to a concern for concrete circumstances is, I argue, best seen as a necessary critique of what I call moralism rather than morality. (...) It is also related to recent philosophical theories of particularism and the debates about ‘emergency ethics’ in current philosophy. On the negative side, Bonhoeffer has a tendency to treat non-Christian ethics as necessarily relativist and at times is excessively influenced by the elements in Christian theological tradition that are hostile to the natural and to non-Christian philosophy. In addition, his invocation of ‘the Divine mandates’ seems to have undesirable implications for some genuine values in liberal democratic theory and practice. (shrink)