I discuss Ingmar Persson’s recent argument that the LevellingDownObjection could be worse for prioritarians than for egalitarians. Persson’s argument depends upon the claim that indifference to changes in the average prioritarian value of benefits implies indifference to changes in the overall prioritarian value of a state of affairs. As I show, however, sensible conceptions of prioritarianism have no such implication. Therefore prioritarians have nothing to fear from the LevellingDownObjection.
Derek Parfit has argued that, in contrast to prioritarianism, egalitarianism is exposed to the levellingdownobjection, i.e., the objection that it is absurd that a change which consists merely in the betteroff losing some of their well-being should be in one way for the better. In reply, this paper contends that (1) there is a plausible form of egalitarianism which is equivalent to another form of prioritarianism than the Parfitian one, a relational rather than an (...) absolute form of prioritarianism, and that (2), although this relational or egalitarian form of prioritarianism is hit by the levellingdownobjection, the Parfitian form is also hit by it, or worse objections, if it is fully worked out. (shrink)
I have earlier argued that, like egalitarianism, prioritarianism is exposed to the levellingdownobjection—which I do not find serious—but also that it faces related, more serious objections that egalitarianism avoids. In this paper I reply to Thomas Porter’s attempt to rebut this argument. I also trace the more serious objections to prioritarianism to the fact that it implies the desirability of welfare diffusion, i.e. that it is better all things considered if a quantity of welfare is (...) distributed over as many recipients as possible, so that each recipient gets a minimal benefit, and that the outcome would still be in one respect better, even if the quantity of welfare was reduced. In contrast to egalitarianism, prioritarianism therefore implies that it is in one respect better if an equality, or a solitary individual, is located at lower rather than a higher level of welfare. (shrink)
The levelling-downobjection rejects the egalitarian view that it is intrinsically good to eliminate the inequality of an outcome by lowering the relevant good of those better off to the level of those worse off. Larry Temkin suggests that the position underlying this objection is an exclusionary version of the person-affecting view, in which an outcome can be better or worse only if persons are affected for better or worse. Temkin then defends egalitarianism by rejecting this (...) position. In this essay, I avoid Temkin's conclusion by arguing that the levelling-downobjection is best understood as resting on an alternative position, which involves a distinction between those non-person-affecting ideals that posit value as tied to individuals in a particular manner and those that do not. Taken as the basis of the levelling-downobjection, this position allows us consistently to reject egalitarianism while accepting many plausible non-person-affecting ideals. (shrink)
The paper returns to the question whether equality in distribution is valuable in itself, or, if you like, whether it is intrinsically valuable. Its bulk is an examination of two familiar arguments against the intrinsic value of distributional equality: the levellingdownobjection and the objection that equality violates some person-affecting condition, in that its realisation does not improve the lot of people.
In an important piece of work Derek Parfit distinguishes two different forms of egalitarianism, ‘Deontic’ and ‘Telic’ (Parfit 1995; see also Parfit 1997). He contrasts these with what he calls the Priority View, which is not strictly a form of egalitarianism at all, since it is not essentially concerned with how well off people are relative to each other. His main aim is to generate an adequate taxonomy of the positions available, but in the process he draws attention to some (...) of the different problems they face. I shall argue that there are forms of egalitarianism overlooked by Parfit which avoid the problems encountered by Deontic and Telic Egalitarians. (shrink)
The levellingdownobjection is the most serious objection to the principle of equality, but we think it can be conclusively defeated. It is serious because it pits the principle of equality squarely against the welfares of the persons whose welfares or resources are equalized. It suggests that there is something perverse about the principle of equality. In this paper, we argue that levellingdown is not an implication of the principle of equality. To (...) show this we offer a defence of, and partial elaboration of, what we call a common good conception of the principle of equality, which principle favours states in which everyone is better off to those in which everyone is worse off. We contrast this with what we call a purely structural conception of the principle of equality. The common good conception of equality involves two basic components: (1) in each circumstance there exists an ideal egalitarian distribution, which distributes equally all the available good in the distribution with the highest average welfare and (2) in evaluating how just the world is, it will matter how far the actual distribution is from the ideal distribution. The ideal egalitarian distribution in the circumstance is Pareto optimal and the approximation rule implies that Pareto superior states are less unjust than Pareto inferior states. 1. (shrink)
Many think that equality is an intrinsic value. However, this view, especially when based on a consequential foundation, faces familiar objections related to the claim that equality is sometimes good for none and bad for some: most notably the levellingdownobjection. This article explores a unique (consequential) conception of equality, as part of a more general conception of fairness concerning the resolution of interpersonal conflicts, which is not exposed to these objections.
Axiological egalitarianism claims that an outcome improves at least in some respect if the value it contains is more evenly distributed. In this paper I defend this form of egalitarianism and identify some of its corollaries. First, I consider and reject the levellingdownobjection. I then point out that egalitarianism casts doubt on the traditional view of the value of life in terms of maximization. Further, I argue that this theory also questions anthropocentric conceptions of value.
Our purpose in this paper is to consider a procedural objection to the death penalty. According to this objection, even if the death penalty is deemed, substantively speaking, a morally acceptable punishment for at least some murderers, since only a small proportion of those guilty of aggravated murder are sentenced to death and executed, while the majority of murderers escape capital punishment as a result of arbitrariness and discrimination, capital punishment should be abolished. Our targets in this paper (...) are two recent attempts, by Thomas Hurka and Michael Cholbi respectively, to defend the view that âlevelling downâ (that is, reducing the punishment imposed on a criminal from the punishment he absolutely deserves to a less severe punishment in order to achieve proportionality relative to the criminals who have escaped the punishment they absolutely deserve) is, in the context of capital punishment, morally permissible. We argue that both Hurka and Cholbi fail to show why the arbitrariness and discrimination objection impugns the death penalty. (shrink)
This article discusses Jan Narvesons Welfare and Wealth, Poverty and Justice in Todays World, and Is World Poverty a Moral Problem for the Wealthy? and their relation to my Thinking about the Needy, Justice, and International Organizations. Section 2 points out that Narvesons concerns differ from mine, so that often his claims and mine fail to engage each other. For example, his focus is on the poor, mine the needy, and while many poor are needy, and vice versa, our obligations (...) may differ regarding the poor than regarding the needy. Also, Narveson invokes a narrow conception of morality as those rules that government or society may compel people to follow. Given a broader, more plausible, conception of morality, many of Narvesons claims actually support my substantive views. Section 3 shows that many of Narvesons claims are relevant to the best means of aiding the needy, but do not challenge the validity of that end. This is true, for example, of his claims about the role of poor governments, the importance of freedom, the undesirability of mere handouts, and the effects of bad economic policies. Section 4 defends the importance of my distinction between acting justly and acting for reasons of justice. It illustrates that on several widely shared conceptions of justice there might be agent-neutralreasons of justice to aid the needy, even if from an agent-relative perspective one would not be acting unjustly if one failed to do so. Section 5 contests Narvesons portrayal of egalitarianism as concerned about inequality of wealth, per se, as insensitive to prior wrongs, and as holding that the worse-off have a right to be made better off at the expense of the well-off. In addition, it rejects Narvesons contention that egalitarians violate impartiality, and aim to impose their personal tastes on others. Section 6 challenges a fundamental assumption underlying Narvesons doctrine of mutual advantage. In addition, it denies that egalitarians are irrational merely because equality can conflict with the pareto principle. More generally, by appealing to impersonal ideals, it challenges the widely held view that the pareto principle is a condition of rationality. Section 7 argues that Narvesons meta-ethical assumptions are controversial, internally inconsistent, in tension with his normative views, and ultimately a version of skepticism. In addition, it challenges Narvesons view about the role intuitions play in moral theory. Section 8 clarifies points where Narvesons discussion of my views may be misleading. Finally, the paper notes the role that moral reasons may play in deliberation and action, but emphasizes the philosophical and theoretical nature of my work. My aim is to determine the moral considerations that are relevant to how people should act regarding the needy. Whether people will actually be moved to so act, for those reasons or otherwise, is another matter. (shrink)
Rationality (or something similar) is usually given as the relevant difference between all humans and animals; the reason humans do but animals do not deserve moral consideration. But according to the Argument from Marginal Cases not all humans are rational, yet if such (marginal) humans are morally considerable despite lacking rationality it would be arbitrary to deny animals with similar capacities a similar level of moral consideration. The slippery slope objection has it that although marginal humans are not strictly (...) speaking morally considerable, we should give them moral consideration because if we do not we will slide down a slippery slope where we end up by not giving normal humans due consideration. I argue that this objection fails to show that marginal humans have the kind of direct moral status proponents of the slippery slope argument have in mind. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that (Teleological) Egalitarianism is objectionable by breaking a person-affecting claim to the effect that an outcome cannot be better in any respect - such as that of equality - if it is better for nobody. So, he presents the Priorty View, i.e., the policy of giving priority to benefiting the worse-off, which avoids this objection. But it is here argued, first, that there is another person-affecting claim that this view violates. Secondly, Egalitarianism can be construed (...) as person-affecting in a weaker sense. Thirdly, it is possible to construct a Relational version of the Priority View which incorporates the Egalitarian value of just equality in this sense. Two reasons are given for why this Relational View and Egalitarianism are superior to the Parfitian Absolute Priority View. However, no attempt is made to abjudicate between the first two views, the main point being that they both accept the value of just equality in the same sense. (shrink)
This paper aims to illuminate some issues in the equality, priority, or what debate. I characterize egalitarianism and prioritarianism, respond to the view that we should care about sufficiency or compassion rather than equality or priority, discuss the levellingdownobjection, and illustrate the significance of the distinction between prioritarianism and egalitarianism, establishing that the former is no substitute for the latter. In addition, I respond to Bertil Tungodden's views regarding the Slogan, the levellingdown (...)objection, the Pareto Principle, leximin, the principle of personal good, strict moderate egalitarianism, the Hammond Equity Condition, the intersection approach, and non-aggregative reasoning. (shrink)
It is common to define egalitarianism in terms of an inequality ordering, which is supposed to have some weight in overall evaluations of outcomes. Egalitarianism, thus defined, implies that levellingdown makes the outcome better in respect of reducing inequality; however, the levellingdownobjection claims there can be nothing good about levellingdown. The priority view, on the other hand, does not have this implication. This paper challenges the common view. The standard (...) definition of egalitarianism implicitly assumes a context. Once this context is made clear, it is easily seen that egalitarianism could be defined alternatively in terms of valuing a benefit to a person inversely to how well off he is relative to others. The levellingdownobjection does not follow from this definition. Moreover, the common definition does not separate egalitarian orderings from prioritarian ones. It is useful to do this by requiring that on egalitarianism, additively separable orderings should be excluded. But this requirement is stated as a condition on the alternative definition of egalitarianism, from which the levellingdownobjection does not follow. (shrink)
The Slogan holds that one situation cannot be worse (or better) than another unless there is someone for whom it is worse (or better). This principle appears to provide the basis for the levelling-downobjection to teleological egalitarianism. Larry Temkin, however, argues that the Slogan is not a plausible moral ideal, since it stands against not just teleological egalitarianism, but also values such as freedom, rights, autonomy, virtue and desert. I argue that the Slogan is a plausible (...) moral principle, one that provides a suitable moral basis for the levelling-downobjection to teleological egalitarianism. Contrary to Temkin, freedom, autonomy, virtue, and rights can all be understood in person-affecting terms, while equality of outcome cannot. Moreover, the Slogan is open to a variety of different ideas about how we should weight or rank people's gains and losses. This flexibility allows the Slogan to accommodate ideals such as prioritarianism and desert. (shrink)
Some people believe that the equality of people's well-being makes an outcome better, other things being constant. Call this Telic Egalitarianism. In this paper I will propose a new interpretation of Telic Egalitarianism, and compare it with the interpretation that is proposed by Derek Parfit 1995 and widely accepted by many philosophers. I will argue that my proposed interpretation is more plausible than Parfit's. One of the virtues in my interpretation is that it shows his LevellingDown (...) class='Hi'>Objection does not undermine Telic Egalitarianism. I also believe that my interpretation better explains the important similarity and difference between Telic Egalitarianism and his proposed Priority View. (shrink)
Roughly, according to conditional egalitarianism, equality is non-instrumentally valuable, but only if it benefits at least one individual. Some political theorists have argued that conditional egalitarianism has the important virtue that it allows egalitarians to avoid the so-called objection. However, in the present article I argue that conditional egalitarianism does not offer the egalitarian a plausible escape route from this objection. First, I explain the levellingdownobjection and suggest some particular concerns from which it (...) derives its force. Then I provide a more precise definition of conditional egalitarianism. Finally, I give two arguments against this principle. According to the first, it violates the transitivity of the betterness relation (or more specifically, ). According to the second, there is no plausible explanation of why equality must benefit at least one individual in order to be non-instrumentally valuable. (shrink)
Abstract Following Temkin's Inequality I take my point of departure in an individualistic approach according to which a situation is bad in respect of inequality to the extent individuals in it have egalitarian complaints. After having criticised some of Temkin's notions of inequality, I argue that there are two proper egalitarian conceptions, the Equal Share Conception and the Place Conception. The first concerns how much welfare an individual can claim to have in order to have what she should have in (...) virtue of equality. The second concerns an individual's egalitarian complaint in so far as it depends on her place in a situation's distribution of welfare. I argue that the first conception can be employed in a defence of Telic Egalitarianism against Derek Parfit's LevellingDownObjection and that the second one can explain why this objection may seem so convincing. I also argue that Telic Egalitarianism, understood according to the first conception, in one respect is preferable to Parfit's Priority View. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that egalitarianism is exposed to a levellingdownobjection because it implies, implausibly, that a change, which consists only in the better-off sinking to the level of the worse-off, is in one respect better, though it is better for nobody. He claims that, in contrast, the prioritarian view that benefits to the worse-off have greater moral weight escapes this objection. This article contends, first, that prioritarianism is equally affected by the levelling (...)downobjection as is egalitarianism, but that this objection lacks force. Secondly, prioritarianism is less plausible than egalitarianism because it implies that lowering the level of equality by diffusing a quantity of welfare equally over as many recipients as possible is for the better all things considered, and that the outcome of such welfare diffusion would still be better in one respect, even if the quantity of welfare was radically reduced. (shrink)
The moral philosopher Dan Brock has argued that equality of health outcomes “even if achievable” is problematic as a goal in its own right—because it is open to the levellingdownobjection. The levellingdownobjection to egalitarianism has received surprisingly little attention in the bioethics literature on distribution of health and healthcare and deserves more attention. This paper discusses and accepts an example given by Brock showing that prioritarianism and egalitarianism may judge distributions (...) of health outcomes differently. We should accept that levellingdown is never a good thing, all things considered, but that equality often is. By discussing variants of Brock’s example, it is demonstrated that if equality, prioritarianism and aggregation are combined, as in a population-wide summary measure of health, such as the health achievement index, this combined set of principles is not open to levellingdown. The paper suggests—although a more thorough investigation of the properties of the achievement index is needed—that this measure (a) is always sensitive to inequality in health, (b) is always sensitive to average health, (c) can assign priority to those with lowest health outcomes and (d) is not sensitive to levellingdown. Levellingdown is not an embarrassment for egalitarians if they adopt a pluralist theory that integrates fairness with goodness. Equality is not the only value egalitarians promote. But equality is so important that we should not reject it. (shrink)
In this dissertation, I discuss two distributive principles in moral philosophy: Derek Parfit's Prioritarianism and Egalitarianism. I attempt to defend a version of Egalitarianism, which I call Weighted Egalitarianism. Although Parfit claims that Egalitarianism is subject to what he calls the LevellingDownObjection, I show (a) that my proposed Weighted Egalitarianism is not subject to the Objection, and (b) that it gives priority to the worse off people. The real difference between the two principles lies (...) in how the weight of each person's well-being is determined. Prioritarianism assumes that there is a moral scale of the goodness of well-being, independently of distributions of people's well-being. I raise two objections to this claim: firstly, it is hard to believe that the choice of the level of well-being affects our distributive judgement; secondly, it is hard to believe that there is such a moral scale independently of distributions of people's well-being. On the other hand, Weighted Egalitarianism claims that the weight is given by the rank order position of the person in the ranking by well-being level. This means that, in Weighted Egalitarianism, the goodness of a distribution is an increasing, linear function of people's well-being. Weighted Egalitarianism is not affected by the choice of the level of people's well-being. Nor does it require require the moral scale of the goodness of well-being independently of distributions of people's well-being. Leximin, which might be a version of Prioritarianism, avoids my objections. But it is hard to support Leximin, because it rules out the trade off between the better off and the worse off. I conclude that Weighted Egalitarianism is more acceptable than Prioritarianism. (shrink)
Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift argue that education is a positional good; this, they hold, implies that there is a qualified case for leveling down educational provision. In this essay, Ben Kotzee discusses Brighouse and Swift's argument for leveling down. He holds that the argument fails in its own terms and that, in presenting the problem of educational justice as one of balancing education's positional and nonpositional benefits, Brighouse and Swift lose sight of what a consideration of the (...) nonpositional benefits by itself can reveal. Instead of focusing on education's positional benefits, Kotzee investigates what emphasizing education's nonpositional benefits would imply for educational justice. Drawing on recent work in social epistemology, Kotzee holds that theories of educational justice would benefit from a consideration of the virtue of epistemic justice, and he outlines solutions to a number of problems in the area from this perspective. (shrink)
How does the brain bind together visual features that are processed concurrently by different neurons into a unified percept suitable for processes such as object recognition? Here, we describe how simple, commonly accepted principles of neural processing can interact over time to solve the brain's binding problem. We focus on mechanisms of neural inhibition and top-down feedback. Specifically, we describe how inhibition creates competition among neural populations that code different features, effectively suppressing irrelevant information, and thus minimizing illusory conjunctions. (...) Top-down feedback contributes to binding in a similar manner, but by reinforcing relevant features. Together, inhibition and top-down feedback contribute to a competitive environment that ensures only the most appropriate features are bound together. We demonstrate this overall proposal using a biologically realistic neural model of vision that processes features across a hierarchy of interconnected brain areas. Finally, we argue that temporal synchrony plays only a limited role in binding -- it does not simultaneously bind multiple objects, but does aid in creating additional contrast between relevant and irrelevant features. Thus, our overall theory constitutes a solution to the binding problem that relies only on simple neural principles without any binding-specific processes. (shrink)
Many philosophers have claimed that we might do well to adopt a hybrid theory of well-being: a theory that incorporates both an objective-value constraint and a pro-attitude constraint. Hybrid theories are attractive for two main reasons. First, unlike desire theories of well-being, hybrid theories need not worry about the problem of defective desires. This is so because, unlike desire theories, hybrid theories place an objective-value constraint on well-being. Second, unlike objectivist theories of well-being, hybrid theories need not worry about being (...) overly alienating. This is so because, unlike objectivist theories, hybrid theories place a pro-attitude constraint on well-being. However, from the point of view of objectivists, hybrid theories are not objectivist enough, and this can be seen clearly in missing-desires cases. For instance, hybrid theories entail that, if someone lacks the desire for health, then health is not a component of her well-being. This, objectivists say, is implausible. It is obvious, objectivists say, that someone’s life goes better for herself inasmuch as she is healthy, and hence that health is a component of her welfare. This paper focuses on the missing-desires objection (as leveled by objectivists) to hybrid theories of well-being. My argument is that the missing-desires objection can be answered in a way that is generally convincing and, in particular, in a way that pays a good deal of respect to objectivist intuitions about well-being. My hope, then, is that this paper will help to persuade objectivists about well-being to become hybrid theorists. (shrink)
Since time immemorial, the phenomenon of leadership and its understanding has attracted the attention of the business world because of its important role in human groups. Nevertheless, for years efforts to understand this concept have only been centred on people in leadership roles, thus overlooking an important aspect in its understanding: the necessary moral dimension which is implicit in the relationship between leader and follower. As an illustrative example of the importance of considering good morality in leadership, an empirical study (...) is conducted in which a good performance of the "leader-follower" relationship is reflected when individuals perceive ethical leadership in higher hierarchical managerial levels. To be precise, findings of this study demonstrate that follower job response is improved through an ethics trickle-down partial effect from the Top Manager to the immediate supervisor, and also reveal both key aspects and managerial level on which the practice of ethical leadership should rest upon to have a stronger effect on the follower positive job response. Practical implications of these findings and directions for future research are finally presented. (shrink)
This style of argument comes up everywhere in the philosophy of practical reason, leveled against theories of the norm of means-end coherence on intention, against Humean theories of reasons, and many other places. It comes up in normative moral theory – for example, in arguments against buck-passing. It comes up in epistemology, in discussions of how to account for the rational connection between believing the premises of a valid argument and believing its conclusion. And it comes up in political philosophy, (...) where one of its most salient occurrences is in the so-called ‘leveling down’ objection to egalitarianism. (shrink)
Consequentialism, many philosophers have claimed, asks too much of us to be a plausible ethical theory. Indeed, the theory's severe demandingness is often claimed to be its chief flaw. My thesis is that as we come to better understand this objection, we see that, even if it signals or tracks the existence of a real problem for Consequentialism, it cannot itself be a fundamental problem with the view. The objection cannot itself provide good reason to break with Consequentialism, (...) because it must presuppose prior and independent breaks with the view. The way the objection measures the demandingness of an ethical theory reflects rather than justifies being in the grip of key anti-Consequentialist conclusions. We should reject Consequentialism independently of the Objection or not at all. Thus, we can reduce by one the list of worrisome fundamental complaints against Consequentialism. (shrink)
In this paper I consider Saul Kripke’s famous Humphrey objection to David Lewis’s views on de re modality and argue that responses to this objection currently on the market fail to mitigate its force in any significant way.
This paper concerns Alan Turing’s ideas about machines, mathematical methods of proof, and intelligence. By the late 1930s, Kurt Gödel and other logicians, including Turing himself, had shown that no finite set of rules could be used to generate all true mathematical statements. Yet according to Turing, there was no upper bound to the number of mathematical truths provable by intelligent human beings, for they could invent new rules and methods of proof. So, the output of a human mathematician, for (...) Turing, was not a computable sequence (i.e., one that could be generated by a Turing machine). Since computers only contained a finite number of instructions (or programs), one might argue, they could not reproduce human intelligence. Turing called this the “mathematical objection” to his view that machines can think. Logico-mathematical reasons, stemming from his own work, helped to convince Turing that it should be possible to reproduce human intelligence, and eventually compete with it, by developing the appropriate kind of digital computer. He felt it should be possible to program a computer so that it could learn or discover new rules, overcoming the limitations imposed by the incompleteness and undecidability results in the same way that human mathematicians presumably do. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. Three approaches to conscientious objection in health care: conscience absolutism, the incompatibility thesis, and compromise; 3. Ethical limitations on the exercise of conscience; 4. Pharmacies, health care institutions, and conscientious objection; 5. Students, residents, and conscience-based exemptions; 6. Conscience clauses: too little and too much protection; References.
Abortion is the central issue in the conscientious objection debate. In this article I demonstrate why this is so for two philosophical viewpoints prominent in American culture. One, represented by Patrick Lee and Robert P. George, holds that the fundamental moral value of being human can be found in bare life and the other, represented by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, holds that this fundamental value is found in the life that can choose and determine itself. First, I articulate (...) Lee and George’s philosophical theory and demonstrate how the fundamental moral value of their theory, personhood, is represented in the issue of abortion. Second, I examine Beauchamp and Childress’ theoretical vision and demonstrate how their fundamental moral value, the right to autonomous self-determination, is represented in abortion. Third, I sketch the theoretical and practical dynamics of the conscientious objection debate as well as each author’s understanding of conscience. Fourth, I demonstrate how abortion, which represents their respective fundamental value, shapes each perspectives’ approach to the conscientious objection debate. I conclude that because each theory finds its fundamental value represented in the issue of abortion, each perspective is bound to engage the conscientious objection debate in a way that centers on the issue of abortion. (shrink)
A standard criticism of act-utilitarianism is that it is only indirectly concerned with the distribution of welfare between individuals and, therefore, does not take adequate account of the separateness between individuals. In response a number of philosophers have argued that act-utilitarianism is only vulnerable to that objection because it adheres to a theory of the good which ignores non-welfarist sources of intrinsic value such as justice. Fred Feldman, for example, argues that intrinsic value is independently generated by the receipt (...) of welfare and the degree to which receipt accords with the demands of justice, and that an action is right insofar as it maximizes the sum of both those sources of value. In response it is argued that justicized consequentialism only blocks the objection at the expense of presupposing deontological constraints. In addition, it is argued that the value of justice cannot be explained non-deontically and, therefore, that the proposed theory is not consequentialist all the way down. (shrink)
Dogged resistance to demanding moral views frequently takes the form of The Demandingness Objection. Premise (1): Moral view V demands too much of us. Premise (2): If a moral view demands too much of us, then it is mistaken. Conclusion: Therefore, moral view V is mistaken. Objections of this form harass major theories in normative ethics as well as prominent moral views in applied ethics and political philosophy. The present paper does the following: (i) it clarifies and distinguishes between (...) various demandingness objections in the philosophical literature, (ii) identifies a formidable and interesting form of the demandingness objection that targets a wide scope of moral views, and (iii) defuses this objection by developing a local skeptical argument from unreliability the form of which may, interestingly, be effectively deployed in other areas of philosophy. (shrink)
In this article, I define and then defend the principle of information closure (pic) against a sceptical objection similar to the one discussed by Dretske in relation to the principle of epistemic closure. If I am successful, given that pic is equivalent to the axiom of distribution and that the latter is one of the conditions that discriminate between normal and non-normal modal logics, a main result of such a defence is that one potentially good reason to look for (...) a formalization of the logic of “ $S$ S is informed that $p$ p ” among the non-normal modal logics, which reject the axiom, is also removed. This is not to argue that the logic of “ $S$ S is informed that $p$ p ” should be a normal modal logic, but that it could still be insofar as the objection that it could not be, based on the sceptical objection against pic, has been removed. In other word, I shall argue that the sceptical objection against pic fails, so such an objection provides no ground to abandon the normal modal logic B (also known as KTB) as a formalization of “ $S$ S is informed that $p$ p ”, which remains plausible insofar as this specific obstacle is concerned. (shrink)
This is part of a symposium on conscientious objection and religious freedom inspired by the US Catholic Church's claim that being forced to pay for health insurance that covers abortions (the effect of 'Obamacare')is the equivalent of forcing pacifists to fight. This article takes issue with this claim, and shows that while it would be unjust on democratic principles to force pacifists to fight, given their willingness to serve their country in other ways, there is no democratic objection (...) to forcing those who believe abortion to be murder to pay for health insurance coverage that includes abortion. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that van Fraassen’s “bad lot objection” against Inference to the Best Explanation [IBE] severely misses its mark. First, I show that the objection holds no special relevance to IBE; if the bad lot objection poses a serious problem for IBE, then it poses a serious problem for any inference form whatever. Second, I argue that, thankfully, it does not pose a serious threat to any inference form. Rather, the objection misguidedly blames (...) a form of inference for not achieving what it never set out to achieve in the first place. (shrink)
The Many Gods Objection (MGO) is widely viewed as a decisive criticism of Pascal’s Wager. By introducing a plurality of hypotheses with infinite expected utility into the decision matrix, the wagerer is left without adequate grounds to decide between them. However, some have attempted to rebut this objection by employing various criteria drawn from the theological tradition. Unfortunately, such defenses do little good for an argument that is supposed to be an apologetic aimed at atheists and agnostics. The (...) purpose of this paper is to offer a defensive strategy of a different sort, one more suited to the Wager’s apologetic aim and status as a decision under ignorance. Instead of turning to criteria independent of the Wager, it will be shown that there are characteristics already built into its decision theoretic structure that can be used to block many categories of theological hypotheses including MGO’s more outrageous “cooked-up” hypotheses and “philosophers’ fictions”. (shrink)
Considerations of virtue and character appear from time to time in the agricultural biotechnology literature. Critics of the technologies often suggest that they are contrary to some virtue (usually humility) or do not fit with the image of ourselves and the human place in the world that we ought to embrace. In this article, I consider the aretaic or virtue-based objection that to engage in agricultural biotechnology is to exhibit arrogance, hubris, and disaffection. In section one, I discuss Gary (...) Comstock's treatment of this objection. In section two, I provide an alternative interpretation of the objection that more accurately reflects the concerns of those who offer the criticism than does Comstock's standard interpretation. In sections three and four, I assess the objection. I argue that despite its merits, the objection does not justify global opposition to agricultural biotechnology. Instead, it favors a limited endorsement position not unlike the one defended by Comstock. (shrink)
Whilst there have been serious attempts to locate the practice of male circumcision for religious motives in the context of the (respective) religion's narrative and community, the debate, when referring to a clinical context, is often more nuanced. This article will contribute further to the debate by contextualising the Islamic practice of male circumcision within the clinical setting typical of a contemporary hospital. It specifically develops an additional complication; namely, the child has a pre-existing blood disorder. As an approach to (...) contributing to the circumcision debate further, the ethics of a conscientious objection for secular motives towards a religiously-motivated clinical intervention will be explored. Overall, the discussion will provide relevance for such debates within the value-systems of a multi-cultural society. This article replicates several approaches to deconstructing a request for conscientious refusal of non-therapeutic circumcision by a Clinical Ethics Committee (CEC), bringing to light certain contradictions that occur in normatively categorizing motives for performing the circumcision. (shrink)
Cross-sector social partnerships are often studied from a macro and meso perspective, also in an attempt to assess effectiveness and societal impact. This article pays specific attention to the micro perspective, i.e. individual interactions between and within organizations related to partnerships that address the ‘social good’. By focusing on the potential effects and mechanisms at the level of individuals and the organization(s) with which they interact, it aims to help fill a gap in research on partnerships, including more insight into (...) the process of interaction. We conceptually explore micro level interactions, and how partnership effects may ‘trickle down’ (e.g. from management to employees), or ‘trickle up’ (from employees to management) or ‘trickle round’ (e.g. between employees). Based on the literature from various disciplines, we discuss how more generic theories on social exchange and contagion, social learning and attraction-selection-attrition can help shed light on micro level interactions in a partnership, considering in particular transmission mechanisms via employees, top and middle management, and customers. In this way, partnerships can have wider benefits, as individuals have multiple roles and effects at the micro level can spread to the meso and macro levels as well. Implications for research and practice are outlined. (shrink)
In Canada, as in many developed countries, healthcare conscientious objection is growing in visibility, if not in incidence. Yet the country's health professional policies on conscientious objection are in disarray. The article reports the results of a comprehensive review of policies relevant to conscientious objection for four Canadian health professions: medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry. Where relevant policies exist in many Canadian provinces, there is much controversy and potential for confusion, due to policy inconsistencies and terminological vagueness. (...) Meanwhile, in Canada's three most northerly territories with significant Aboriginal populations, whose already precarious health is influenced by funding and practitioner shortages, there are major policy gaps applicable to conscientious objection. In many parts of the country, as a result of health professionals' conscientious refusals, access to some legal health services – including but not limited to reproductive health services such as abortion – has been seriously impeded. Although policy reform on conscientious conflicts may be difficult, and may generate strenuous opposition from some professional groups, for the sake of both patients and providers, such policy change must become an urgent priority. (shrink)
This paper argues that the four most plausible arguments compatible with public reason for an outright legal ban on all forms of polygamy are unvictorious. I consider the types of arguments political liberals would have to insist on, and precisely how strongly, in order for a general prohibition against polygamy to be justified, while also considering what general attitude towards "marriage" and legal recognition of the right to marry are most consistent with political liberalism. I argue that a liberal state (...) should get out of the "marriage business" by leveling down to a universal status of "civil union" neutral as to the gender and affective purpose of domestic partnerships. I then refute what I regard as the four most plausible rational objections to offering this civil union status to multi-member domestic partnerships. The most common objection to polygamy is on grounds of gender equality, more specifically, female equality. But advancing this argument forcefully often involves neglecting the tendency of political liberalism (by whatever name it goes in contemporary, complex, multicultural societies) to tolerate a certain amount of inequality in private, within the bounds of robust and meaningful freedoms of choice and exit. Properly understood, polygamy involves no inherent statement about the essential inferiority of women, and certainly not more than many other existing practices and institutions (including many expressions of the main monotheistic religions) which political liberals regard as tolerable, even reasonable. Arguments from the welfare of children, fairness in the spousal market, and the abuse of family subsidies are also considered and found insufficient for excluding polygamy. (shrink)
In this article, I propose a new way of thinking about natural necessity and a new way of thinking about biological laws. I suggest that much of the lack of progress in making a positive case for distinctively biological laws is that we’ve been looking for necessity in the wrong place. The trend has been to look for exceptionlessness at the level of the outcomes of biological processes and to build one’s claims about necessity off of that. However, as Beatty (...) (1995) observed, even when we are lucky enough to find a biological ‘rule’ of some sort, that rule is apt to be a victim of ‘the rule-breaking capabilities of evolutionary change’. If indeed no distinctively biological generalization—even an exceptionless one—is safe, we need to locate necessity elsewhere. A good place to start is, I think, precisely the point at which Beatty sees the possibility of lawhood as breaking down—namely, at the level of chances. 1 The ‘Necessity’ Objection to Biological Laws2 Necessary Chances2.1 Necessary chances: random drift2.2 Necessary chances: fitness3 But is it Biological?4 Conclusion. (shrink)