Our shared moral framework is negotiated as part of the social contract. Some elements of that framework are established (tell the truth under oath), but other elements lack an overlapping consensus (just when can an individual lie to protect his or her privacy?). The tidy bits of our accepted moral framework have been codified, becoming the subject of legal rather than ethical consideration. Those elements remaining in the realm of ethics seem fragmented and inconsistent. Yet, our engineering students will need (...) to navigate the broken ground of this complex moral landscape. A minimalist approach would leave our students with formulated dogma—principles of right and wrong such as the National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics for Engineers—but without any insight into the genesis of these principles. A slightly deeper, micro-ethics approach would teach our students to solve ethical problems by applying heuristics—giving our students a rational process to manipulate ethical dilemmas using the same principles simply referenced a priori by dogma. A macro-ethics approach—helping students to inductively construct a posteriori principles from case studies—goes beyond the simple statement or manipulation of principles, but falls short of linking personal moral principles to the larger, social context. Ultimately, it is this social context that requires both the application of ethical principles, and the negotiation of moral values—from an understanding of meta-ethics. (shrink)
This is a paper about the problem of realism in meta-ethics (and, I hope, also in other areas, but that hope is so far pretty speculative). But it is not about the problem of whether realism is true. It is about the problem of what realism is. More specifically, it is about the question of what divides meta-ethical realists from irrealists. I start with a potted history of the Good Old Days.
In this paper I argue for the importance of pursuing Buddhist Meta-Ethics. Most contemporary studies of the nature of Buddhist Ethics proceed in isolation from the highly sophisticated epistemological theories developed within the Buddhist tradition. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that an intimate relationship holds between ethics and epistemology in Buddhism. To show this, I focus on Damien Keown's influential virtue ethical theorisation of Buddhist Ethics and demonstrate the conflicts that arise when it is brought into (...) dialogue with a contemporary exposition of two prominent Buddhist epistemological theories; namely, Dunne´s exposition of the views of Dharmakīrti and Candrakīrti. I highlight certain points of conflict between these ethical and epistemological theories and will argue that the resolution of this conflict requires revision (either in interpretation of theories or in the theories themselves) by all parties. I shall conclude by arguing for substantive revision to these theories via an engagement with this conflict and, in so doing, hope to exemplify some of the virtues of engaging with a meta-ethical methodology for the advancement of the respective domains of inquiry. (shrink)
In the mid-20th century, descriptive meta-ethics addressed a number of central questions, such as whether there is a necessary connection between moral judgment and motivation, whether moral reasons are absolute or relative, and whether moral judgments express attitudes or describe states of affairs. I maintain that much of this work in mid-20th century meta-ethics proceeded on an assumption that there is good reason to question. The assumption was that our ordinary discourse is uniform and determinate enough to vindicate (...) one side or the other of these meta-ethical debates. I suggest that ordinary moral discourse may be much less uniform and determinate than 20th century meta-ethics assumed. (shrink)
It has been argued that ethically correct robots should be able to reason about right and wrong. In order to do so, they must have a set of do’s and don’ts at their disposal. However, such a list may be inconsistent, incomplete or otherwise unsatisfactory, depending on the reasoning principles that one employs. For this reason, it might be desirable if robots were to some extent able to reason about their own reasoning—in other words, if they had some meta-ethical capacities. (...) In this paper, we sketch how one might go about designing robots that have such capacities. We show that the field of computational meta-ethics can profit from the same tools as have been used in computational metaphysics. (shrink)
The author takes up three metaphysical conceptions of morality — realism, projectivism, constructivism — and the account of justification or reason that makes these pictures possible. It is argued that the right meta-ethical conception should be the one that entails the most plausible conception of reason-giving, rather than by any other consideration. Realism and projectivism, when understood in ways consistent with their fundamental commitments, generate unsatisfactory models of justification; constructivism alone does not. The author also argues for a particular interpretation (...) of how “objective moral obligation” is to be understood within constructivism. (shrink)
Meta-ethical discussions commonly distinguish 'subjectivism' from 'emotivism', or 'expressivism'. But Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit have argued that plausible assumptions in the philosophy of language entail that expressivism collapses into subjectivism. Though there have been responses to their argument, I think the responses have not adequately diagnosed the real weakness in it. I suggest my own diagnosis, and defend expressivism as a viable theory distinct from subjectivism.
This paper analyses the concept of empirical ethics as well as three meta-ethical fallacies that empirical ethics is said to face: the is-ought problem, the naturalistic fallacy and violation of the fact-value distinction. Moreover, it answers the question of whether empirical ethics (necessarily) commits these three basic meta-ethical fallacies.
A meta-ethical analysis demonstrates that care ethics is a grounded in a distinct mode of moral reasoning. This is comprised primarily of the rejection of principles such as impartiality, and the endorsement of emotional or moral virtues such as compassion, as well as the notion that the preservation of relations may override the interests of the individuals involved in them. The main conclusion of such a meta-ethical analysis is that such meta-ethical foundations of care ethics are not sound. Reasonable alternatives (...) for care ethics may be its formulation as an additional principle within an established principlist framework, or the move to a dialogical ethics, where the good to be acted upon is not decided in advance but rather critically discussed and established within the encounter of the parties involved. (shrink)
Over the last fifteen years, Michael Smith has written a series of seminal essays about the nature of belief and desire, the status of normative judgment, and the relevance of the views we take on both these topics to the accounts we give of our nature as free and responsible agents. This long awaited collection comprises some of the most influential of Smith's essays. Among the topics covered are: the Humean theory of motivating reasons, the nature of normative reasons, Williams (...) and Korsgaard on internal and external reasons, the nature of self-control, weakness of will, compulsion, freedom, responsibility, the analysis of our rational capacities, moral realism, the dispositional theory of value, the supervenience of the normative on the non-normative, the error theory, rationalist treatments of moral judgment, the practicality requirement on moral judgment and non-cognivist. This collection will be of interest to students in philosophy and psychology. (shrink)
This article deals with cross-cultural ethics. It discusses the grid-group model and is ethical implications. We try to show how cross-cultural ethics remain possible under this paradigm of ethical relativism. We discuss the theory of discourse and apply it to intercultural communication. Finally we offer some rules for (an ethical) intercultural discourse, which also may be interpreted as metanorms for cross-cultural interaction.
The study of morality continues to flourish in contemporary philosophy. As the chapters of this Companion illustrate, new and exciting work is being done on a wide range of topics from the objectivity of morality to the relationship between morality and religious, biological, and feminist concerns. Along with this vast amount of work has come a proliferation of technical terminology and competing positions. The goal of this chapter is to provide an overview of the terrain in contemporary ethics.
The education of students and professionals in business ethics is an increasingly important goal on the agenda of business schools and corporations. The present study provides a meta-analysis of 25 previously conducted business ethics instructional programs. The role of criteria, study design, participant characteristics, quality of instruction, instructional content, instructional program characteristics, and characteristics of instructional methods as moderators of the effectiveness of business ethics instruction were examined. Overall, results indicate that business ethics instructional programs have a minimal impact on (...) increasing outcomes related to ethical perceptions, behavior, or awareness. However, specific criteria, content, and methodological moderators of effectiveness shed light on potential recommendations for improving business ethics instruction. Implications for future research and practice in business ethics are discussed. (shrink)
The education of students and professionals in business ethics is an increasingly important goal on the agenda of business schools and corporations. The present study provides a meta-analysis of 25 previously conducted business ethics instructional programs. The role of criteria, study design, participant characteristics, quality of instruction, instructional content, instructional program characteristics, and characteristics of instructional methods as moderators of the effectiveness of business ethics instruction were examined. Overall, results indicate that business ethics instructional programs have a minimal␣impact on increasing (...) outcomes related to ethical perceptions, behavior, or awareness. However, specific criteria, content, and methodological moderators of effectiveness shed light on potential recommendations for␣improving business ethics instruction. Implications for␣future research and practice in business ethics are discussed. (shrink)
Scholars have proposed a number of courses and programs intended to improve the ethical behavior of scientists in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the scientific enterprise. In the present study, we conducted a quantitative meta-analysis based on 26 previous ethics program evaluation efforts, and the results showed that the overall effectiveness of ethics instruction was modest. The effects of ethics instruction, however, were related to a number of instructional program factors, such as course content and delivery methods, in (...) addition to factors of the evaluation study itself, such as the field of investigator and criterion measure utilized. An examination of the characteristics contributing to the relative effectiveness of instructional programs revealed that more successful programs were conducted as seminars separate from the standard curricula rather than being embedded in existing courses. Furthermore, more successful programs were case based and interactive, and they allowed participants to learn and practice the application of real-world ethical decision-making skills. The implications of these findings for future course development and evaluation are discussed. (shrink)
We propose extending business ethics education beyond the formal curriculum to the hidden curriculum where messages about ethics and values are implicitly sent and received. In this meta-learning approach, students learn by becoming active participants in an honorable business school community where real ethical issues are openly discussed and acted upon. When combined with formal ethics instruction, this meta-learning approach provides a framework for a proposed comprehensive program of business ethics education.
The main purpose of this paper is to defend traditional ethical theory (utilitarianism and deontology) for its application in business against a more recent model consisting of utility, rights, and justice. This is done in three parts: First, we provide a conceptual argument for the superiority of the traditional model; second, we demonstrate these points through an examination of three short cases; and third, we argue for the capability of the traditional model to account for universals and particulars in ethics.
Michael Ruse, in Taking Darwin Seriously seeks to establish that taking Darwin seriously requires us to treat morality as subjective and naturalistic. I argue that, if morality is not objective, then we have no good reason for being moral if we can avoid detection and punishment. As a consequence, we will only continue to behave morally as long as we remain ignorant of Ruse''s theory, that is, as long as the cat is not let out of the bag. Ruse offers (...) a number of arguments to show that his theory can overcome such problems. I argue that they all fail. Ruse also argues that he can offer a naturalistic account of ethics which steps around the naturalistic fallacy and avoids the confusion of reasons with causes. His principal argument for this view is an analogy between spiritualism and morality. I argue that this analogy fails. (shrink)
This paper presents a direction for narrative ethics based on ethical ideas found in the works of Michel Foucault. Narrative ethics is understood here at the meta-level of cultural discourse to see how the moral subject is constituted by the discursive practices that structure the contemporary debate on reproductive technologies. At this level it becomes meta-narrative-ethics. After a theoretical discussion, this paper uses two literary narratives representing the polarized views in the debate to show how the moral subject may be (...) compelled to relate to its self. Ethics is redefined as Foucauldian rapport Ã soi, and ethical analysis, at this meta-level, shows how the moral self is intimately connected to cultural discourse. (shrink)
It sometimes happens that advances in one area of philosophy can be applied to a quite different area of philosophy, and that the result is an unexpected significant advance. I think that this is true of the philosophy of time and meta-ethics. Developments in the philosophy of time have led to a new understanding of the relation between semantics and metaphysics. Applying these insights to the field of meta-ethics, I will argue, can suggest a new position with respect (...) to moral discourse and moral reality. This new position retains the advantages of theories like moral realism and naturalism, yet is immune to many of their difficulties. (shrink)
This contribution is a criticism of some points David Carr brings forward both in his 1991 book (Educating the Virtues) but even more so in his 1996 article in this journal (After Kohlberg: Some Implications of an Ethics of Virtue for the Theory of Moral Education and Development). With the help of a virtue approach Carr tries to solve the moral objectivism-moral relativism dilemma and the deontologism-consequentialism dilemma in ethics. I will argue that his attempt, though very interesting, suffers from (...) some serious flaws and that, either, Carr's position is much closer to a Kantian approach than Carr thinks, or Carr's position needs a good deal of clarification. (shrink)
My topic is the old debate between moral realists and moral expressivists. Although I will eventually adopt a Pyrrhonian position, as usual, my main goal is neither to argue for this position nor to resolve this debate but only to explore some new options that mix together realism and expressivism in various ways. Nothing that I say will be conclusive, but I hope that some of it will be suggestive.
This thesis defends a hedonistic theory of value consisting of two main components. Part 1 offers a theory of pleasure. Pleasures are experiences distinguished by a distinct phenomenological quality. This quality is attitudinal in nature: it is the feeling of liking. The pleasure experience is also an object of this attitude: when feeling pleasure, we like what we feel, and part of how it feels is how this liking feels: Pleasures are Internally Liked Experiences. Pleasure plays a central role in (...) the motivational system such that pleasure tends to influence, and in turn be influenced by, other motivational, dispositional and evaluative states of the agent. While this connection is strong, it is often indirect and contingent - the necessary attitudinal connection is a matter of how pleasure feels, not of how it functions. -/- Part 2 is concerned with the nature of value. What kind of problem is it that value poses, and what ought a theory of value to do? In face of the fundamental disagreements that persist over these questions, we try to gather and systemize what we can agree upon about value, and then develop a theory that accounts for (enough of) those things. Meta-ethical naturalism, as developed here, is the view that value is a natural property, identified via the role “value” plays according to the best systematization of moral and evaluative thought. The theory engaging meta-ethics with the scientific investigation of matters relevant to value: we need to understand the causal processes behind our beliefs in order to make an informed decision about which of the competing theories offers the best explanation of value. Finally, the argument is made that the nature and function of pleasure shows it to play the kind of explanatory role necessary for a sound naturalistic reduction of value: it makes many of our beliefs about value true, and it is causally responsible for most of our attributions and beliefs about value. (shrink)
Given the proliferation of research regarding the ethical development of students in general, and business students in particular, it is difficult to draw conclusions from the contradictory results of many studies. In this meta-analysis of empirical studies from 1985 through 1994, the relationships of gender, age and undergraduate major to the ethical attitudes and behavior of business students are analyzed. The results indicate that female students exhibit stronger ethical attitudes than males. The same is also true for older versus younger (...) students. However, the relationship with undergraduate major is still difficult to interpret. (shrink)
Richard Hare argues that the fundamental assumptions of Kant's ethical system should have led Kant to utilitarianism, had Kant not confused a norm's generality with its universality, and hence adopted rigorist, deontological norms. Several authors, including Jens Timmermann, have argued contra Hare that the gap between Kantian and utilitarian/consequentialist ethics is fundamental and cannot be bridged. This article shows that Timmermann's claims rely on a systematic failure to separate normative and metaethical aspects of each view, and that Hare's attempt to (...) bridge the gap between Kantian and consequentialist ethics is immune to Timmermann's criticisms. Furthermore, the term “Kantian ethics” is often misleading, and should typically be qualified as either “Kantian rationalism” or “Kantian deontology” in order to avoid confusions of the sort Timmermann falls into. (shrink)
Kane's ambitious and bold book presents a sustained argument for an ethical theory that gives an account of right action and the good life. The general structure of the main argument is presented and specific points are critically discussed.
A defense of amorality as both philosophically justified and practicably livable. While in synch with their underlying aim of grounding human existence in a naturalistic metaphysics, this book takes both the new atheism and the mainstream of modern ethical philosophy to task for maintaining a complacent embrace of morality. It advocates instead replacing the language of morality with a language of desire. The book begins with an analysis of what morality is and then argues that the concept is not instantiated (...) in reality. Following this, the question of belief in morality is addressed: How would human life be affected if we accepted that morality does not exist? The book argues that at the very least, a moralist would have little to complain about in an amoral world, and at best we might hope for a world that was more to our liking overall. An extended look at the human encounter with nonhuman animals serves as an illustration of amorality’s potential to make both theoretical and practical headway in resolving heretofore intractable ethical problems. (shrink)
A. Moral impartialism is a theory in normative ethics. Moral internalism is a theory in meta-ethics. One’s manner of twining normative ethics and meta-ethics varies according to his or her position on the relations of normative ethics and metaphysics, as to in what ways ethics needs analysis, or ontology, or metaphysics, if it needs any of these at all. This large question is the deeper background of this paper. Here I will show why impartialism and internalism both need (...) each other and disturb each other when joined in a prescriptive moral philosophy. If the fundamental notions within internalism and impartialism are to be sustainable and complementary, then the forms of these two theories required for this result will greatly differ from the meta-ethical and metaphysical forms in which they are now commonly seen. (shrink)
One reason for the widespread resistance to evolutionary accounts of the origins of humanity is the fear that they undermine morality: if morality is based on nothing more than evolved dispositions, it would be shown to be illusory, many people suspect. This view is shared by some philosophers who take their work on the evolutionary origins of morality to undermine moral realism. If they are right, we are faced with an unpalatable choice: to reject morality on scientific grounds, or to (...) reject our best- confirmed scientific explanation of our origins in order to save morality. Fortunately, as I show, we have no reason to accept the deflationary claims of some evolutionary ethicists: morality, as we ordinarily understand it, is fully compatible with evolution. (shrink)
Philosophers should consider a hybrid meta-ethical theory that includes elements of both moral expressivism and moral error theory. Proponents of such an expressivist-error theory hold that all moral utterances are either expressions of attitudes or expressions of false beliefs. Such a hybrid theory has two advantages over pure expressivism, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express beliefs, and hybrid theorists can provide a simpler solution to the Frege-Geach (...) problem. The hybrid theory has three advantages over pure error theory, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express attitudes, hybrid theorists can more easily explain moral motivation, and hybrid theorists can avoid the implausible claim that all moral discourse is radically mistaken. Accordingly, such a hybrid theory should be more attractive than pure expressivism or pure error theory to philosophers who are skeptical about moral facts and truth. (shrink)
The Queen's College, Oxford, UK In his article `Facts and Principles', G.A. Cohen attempts to refute constructivist approaches to justification by showing that, contrary to what their proponents claim, fundamental normative principles are fact- in sensitive. We argue that Cohen's `fact-insensitivity thesis' does not provide a successful refutation of constructivism because it pertains to an area of meta-ethics which differs from the one tackled by constructivists. While Cohen's thesis concerns the logical structure of normative principles, constructivists ask how normative (...) principles should be justified . In particular, their claim that justified fundamental normative principles are fact-sensitive follows from a commitment to agnosticism about the existence of objective moral facts. We therefore conclude that, in order to refute constructivism, Cohen would have to address questions of justification, and take a stand on those long-standing meta-ethical debates about the ontological status of moral notions (for example, realism versus anti-realism) with respect to which he himself wants to remain agnostic. Key Words: John Rawls normative justification realism versus anti-realism methodological versus substantive principles. (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)
There is a difference between an object's being good simpliciter and an object's being good of its kind, and the vast majority of philosophers have supposed that it is the former variety of goodness that is relevant to ethics. I argue that one may be a meta-ethical realist while employing the notion of good of a kind to the exclusion of good simpliciter; I call such a view kindism. I distinguish between two varieties of kindism, explicate the details of one (...) of those varieties, and defend (that variety of) kindism against possible objections. (shrink)
In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows that they (...) do not know everything. And it could not be the case that we do not know that there is thought when we believe that there is thought and that we do not know that we do not know everything. I address several objections to the claim that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief. It might seem that arguing against the error theory on the grounds that it entails that no one knows anything is just providing a Moorean argument against the moral error theory. I show that even if my argument against the error theory is indeed a Moorean one, it avoids Streumer's, McPherson's and Olson's objections to previous Moorean arguments against the error theory and is a more powerful argument against the error theory than Moore's argument against external world skepticism is against external world skepticism. (shrink)
Contemporary Kantianism is often regarded as both a position within normative ethics and as an alternative to metaethical moral realism. We argue that it is not clear how contemporary Kantianism can distinguish itself from moral realism. There are many Kantian positions. For reasons of space we focus on the position of one of the most prominent, contemporary Kantians, Christine Korsgaard. Our claim is that she fails to show either that Kantianism is different or that it is better than realism. Our (...) strategy is to argue that what are supposed to be claims that conflict with realism in fact do not. (shrink)
We can distinguish between ambitious metanormative constructivism and a variety of other constructivist projects in ethics and metaethics. Ambitious metanormative constructivism is the project of either developing a type of new metanormative theory, worthy of the label “constructivism”, that is distinct from the existing types of metaethical, or metanormative, theories already on the table—various realisms, non-cognitivisms, error-theories and so on—or showing that the questions that lead to these existing types of theories are somehow fundamentally confused. Natural ways of pursuing the (...) project of ambitious metanormative constructivism lead to certain obvious, and related, worries about whether the ambitions are really being achieved—that is whether we really are being given a distinctive theory. I will argue that responding to these initial worries pushes ambitious metanormative constructivism towards adopting a kind of position that I will call “constructivism all the way down”. Such a position does see off most of the above initial worries. Drawing on the work of Ralph Walker and Crispin Wright, I argue, however, that it faces a distinct objection that is a descendent of Bertrand Russell’s Bishop Stubbs objection against coherentist theories of truth. I grant that the constructivist need not be a coherentist about truth. I argue, however, that despite this the constructivist cannot escape my version of the objection. I also distinguish between this objection and various traditional charges of circularity, regress, relativism, or psychologistic reductionism. (shrink)
The maturing of metaethics has been accompanied by widespread, but relatively unarticulated, discontent that mainstream metaethics is fundamentally on the wrong track. The malcontents we have in mind do not simply champion a competitor to the likes of noncognitivism or realism; they disapprove of the supposed presuppositions of the existing debate. Their aim is not to generate a new theory within metaethics, but to go beyond metaethics and to transcend the distinctions it draws between metaethics and normative ethics and between (...) cognitivism and non-cognitivism. In our experience, the differences with traditional metaethics go deep enough that it can feel as if two different paradigms are talking past each other. We attempt to bring clarity and focus to this rather inchoate debate by simultaneously articulating the general issues involved and engaging in a detailed case study of one of the prominent representatives of this discontent, Christine Korsgaard. We argue that Korsgaard fails to go beyond metaethics–indeed, fails even to provide a theory within metaethics. Our strategy for showing this is to argue that her claims are compatible with both cognitivism and non-cognitivism. We have argued elsewhere that her distinctive claims are compatible with realism. Here we focus on the crucial role that claims about agency and the will seem to play her in work and, according to our interpretation, in her attempts to go beyond mainstream metaethics. We show in detail that these claims are actually compatible with non-cognitivism. Though our discussion often focuses on her work in particular, it has clear implications for other attempts to obviate the debates of traditional metaethics. (shrink)
This paper surveys contemporary accounts of error theory and fictionalism. It introduces these categories to those new to metaethics by beginning with moral nihilism, the view that nothing really is right or wrong. One main motivation is that the scientific worldview seems to have no place for rightness or wrongness. Within contemporary metaethics there is a family of theories that makes similar claims. These are the theories that are usually classified as forms of error theory or fictionalism though there are (...) different ways of accepting some form of the view that nothing is really write or wrong. A range of different ways of going in the light of such a realization is also proposed. The resulting taxonomy of positions is quite complicated and sometimes surprising. One surprise will be that some positions plausibly classified as error theories or forms of fictionalism do not quite seem to be forms of nihilism. (shrink)
This article aims to clarify the view that thick concepts are irreducibly thick. I do this by putting the disentangling argument in its place and then setting out what nonreductivists about the thick are committed to. To distinguish the view from possible reductive accounts, defenders of irreducible thickness are, I argue, committed to the claim that evaluative concepts and properties are nonevaluatively shapeless. This in turn requires a commitment to (radical) holism and particularism. Nonreductivists are also committed to the claim (...) that a thick concept is in itself evaluative, and not evaluative because of any link to thin evaluation. (shrink)
Using traditional meta-analytic techniques, we compile relevant research to enhance conceptual appreciation of ethical climate theory (ECT) as it has been studied in the descriptive and applied ethics literature. We explore the various treatments of ethical climate to understand how the theoretical framework has developed. Furthermore, we provide a comprehensive picture of how the theory has been extended by describing the individual-level work climate outcomes commonly studied in this theoretical context. Meta-analysis allows us to resolve inconsistencies in previous findings as (...) well as confirm the central tenets of the overall ethical climate framework. In addition, we consider the ethical climate relationships in the larger context of the␣theoretical framework, using path analysis to test the structural relationships. Overall, our results provide evidence of the relationships between ethical climate perceptions and individual-level work outcomes. Based on our analyses, we offer future research directions important for further development of ECT. (shrink)
Many believe that objective morality requires a theistic foundation. I maintain that there are sui generis objective ethical facts that do not reduce to natural or supernatural facts. On my view, objective morality does not require an external foundation of any kind. After explaining my view, I defend it against a variety of objections posed by William Wainwright, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland.
The familiar argument from disagreement has been an important focal point of discussion in contemporary meta-ethics. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of interdisciplinary work between philosophers and psychologists about moral psychology. Working within this trend, John Doris and Alexandra Plakias have made a tentative version of the argument from disagreement on empirical grounds. Doris and Plakias present empirical evidence in support of premise 4, that ethics is beset by fundamental disagreement. They examine Richard Brandt on (...) Hopi ethics and, especially, Richard E. Nisbett & Dov Cohen on cultures of honor to make a prima facie version of this case. This raises important questions. Are Doris and Plakias correct that there is even a prima facie empirical basis for moral anti-realism? What sort of empirical contribution can be made to such debates in meta-ethics? I argue that we should have reservations about the prospects of empirical contributions to the argument from disagreement. Specifically, before empirical results from psychology can be used to offer conclusions about meta-ethical issues, more careful attention must be paid to normative ethics, and especially to normative theory. There are two parts to this position. First, there is good reason to think that the evidence we currently have about moral disagreement is irrelevant to the meta-ethical debate. Second, the relevant evidence is useless for meta-ethical purposes on its own. Instead, it must be combined with normative theorizing about value pluralism. (shrink)
Fictionalism has recently returned as a standard response to ontologically problematic domains. This article assesses moral fictionalism. It argues (i) that a correct understanding of the dialectical situation in contemporary metaethics shows that fictionalism is only an interesting new alternative if it can provide a new account of normative content: what is it that I am thinking or saying when I think or say that I ought to do something; and (ii) that fictionalism, qua fictionalism, does not provide us with (...) any new resources for providing such an account. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to undermine a basic assumption of theories of well-being, one that I call well-being invariabilism. I argue that much of what makes existing theories of well-being inadequate stems from the invariabilist assumption. After distinguishing and explaining well-being invariabilism and well-being variabilism, I show that the most widely-held theories of well-being—hedonism, desire-satisfaction, and pluralist objective-list theories—presuppose invariabilism and that a large class of the objections to them arise because of it. My aim is to show that (...) abandoning invariabilism and adopting variabilism is a sensible first step for those aiming to formulate more plausible theories of well-being. After considering objections to my argument, I explain what a variabilist theory of well-being would be like and show that well-being variabilism need not be any threat to the project of formulating theories of well-being that deliver general principles concerning well-being enhancement. (shrink)
We argue against a positive case Enoch offers for thinking that there are non-natural normative properties. Enoch had argued that there is a general difference in how we should treat preference disputes and factual disputes--a difference that shows that normative disputes look more like factual disputes than like preference disputes. We argue that that is not so.
The use of the term "applied ethics" to denote a particular field of moral inquiry (distinct from but related to both normative ethics and meta-ethics) is a relatively new phenomenon. The individuation of applied ethics as a special division of moral investigation gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, largely as a response to early twentieth- century moral philosophy's overwhelming concentration on moral semantics and its apparent inattention to practical moral problems that arose in the wake of significant social (...) and technological transformations. The field of applied ethics is now a well established, professional domain sustained by institutional research centers, professional academic appointments, and devoted journals. As the field of applied ethics grew and developed, its contributors predominantly advocated consequentialist and deontological approaches to the problems they address; but lately a significant number of moral philosophers have begun to bring the resources of virtue ethics to bear upon the ever-evolving subject matters of applied ethics. (shrink)
If we think in terms of mainstream, "analytic" classifications of metaethical theories, then basically every major type of metaethical theory has been ascribed to Nietzsche. In one of the first attempts to assess Nietzsche’s views on foundational questions in value theory in the light of contemporary metaethics, John Wilcox writes: -/- The term "metaethics" was coined after Nietzsche’s time, but the issues were very much on his mind and figure prominently in his writings. … The difficulty is not that Nietzsche (...) did not deal with such issues. The trouble rather is that on these issues, as on so many others, Nietzsche seems so contradictory—he seems to be on both sides, or on all sides, at once. … Consequently, a large portion of the present study … consists of an effort to show just how complex, just how apparently contradictory, Nietzsche’s metaethical suggestions are. (Wilcox 1974: 5) -/- I plan to follow Wilcox’s lead—at least initially. I will show how a wide range of apparently conflicting metaethical theories have been ascribed to Nietzsche on the basis of his writings. I will end, however, with serious consideration of the view that perhaps Nietzsche simply does not have what we would now regard as a metaethical stance. (shrink)
Though Nietzsche traditionally often used to be interpreted as a nihilist, a range of possible metaethical interpretations, including varieties of realism, subjectivism and fictionalism, have emerged in the secondary literature. Recently the possibility that Nietzsche is a non-cognitivist has been broached. If one sees Hume as a central non-cognitivist figure, as recent non-cognitivists such as Simon Blackburn have, then the similarities between Nietzsche and Hume can make this reading seem plausible. This paper assesses the general plausibility of interpreting Nietzsche as (...) a non-cognitivist. Non-cognitivism can mean various things and so some attempt is made to lay out the various kinds of non-cognitivism one might ascribe to Nietzsche. As part of the overall assessment of the plausibility of a non-cognitivist Nietzsche, the paper considers in detail the arguments of Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick on behalf of a non-cognitivist reading. It argues, however, that there is insufficient evidence to justify the interpretation and that the analogy to Hume is unhelpful. (shrink)
Bernard Reginster, in his book THE AFFIRMATION OF LIFE: NIETZSCHE ON OVERCOMING NIHILISM, takes up the challenge of figuring out what Nietzsche might mean by nihilism and the revaluation of values. He argues that there is an alternative, normative subjectivist interpretation of Nietzsche's views on nihilism and revaluation that makes as much sense as—indeed, he often clearly leans toward thinking that it makes more sense than—a fictionalist reading of Nietzsche. I argue that his arguments do not succeed. Once we have (...) looked carefully at the details of the positions and the arguments ascribed to Nietzsche, the fictionalist option is the more charitable interpretation of the texts. I focus on the metaethical issues that play a central role for Reginster in his articulation of Nietzsche's nihilism and Nietzsche's strategy for overcoming nihilism. (shrink)
There is a widespread, popular view—and one I basically endorse—that Nietzsche is, in one sense of the word, a nihilist. As Arthur Danto put it some time ago, according to Nietzsche, “there is nothing in [the world] which might sensibly be supposed to have value.” As interpreters of Nietzsche, though, we cannot simply stop here. Nietzsche's higher men, Übermenschen, “genuine philosophers”, free spirits—the types Nietzsche wants to bring forth from the human, all-too-human herds he sees around him with the fish (...) hooks, as he says, of his books—seem to engage in what looks like valuing. These free spirits are supposed to revalue the old values—revaluing, as is clear from the texts, is not simply to remove the old values from circulation (Nietzsche uses “umwerten” and not “entwerten”)—and they are supposed to create new values. And, of course, Nietzsche himself, free spirit that he is, takes on the task of revaluing all values and seems to assert many a strident evaluation. So we need to say more here. What are Nietzsche and his free spirits up to when they engage in what looks, for all the world, like a practice of valuing? What is the practice of valuing Nietzsche is recommending for his free spirits? I argue for two claims: (i) First, we end up facing an interpretive puzzle when we attempt to explain how Nietzsche's free spirits are supposed to engage in a practice of valuing. (ii) Second, we can solve the interpretive puzzle by taking Nietzsche's free spirits to be engaged in a fictionalist simulacrum of valuing. (shrink)
I argue that four-dimensionalism and the desire satisfaction account of well-being are incompatible. For every person whose desires are satisfied, there will be many shorter-lived individuals (‘person-stages’ or ‘subpersons’) who share the person’s desires but who do not exist long enough to see those desires satisfied; not only this, but in many cases their desires are frustrated so that the desires of the beings in whom they are embedded as proper temporal parts may be fulfilled. I call this the frustrating (...) problem for four-dimensionalism. In the first half of the paper I lay the groundwork for understanding the frustrating problem, and then in the second half, I will examine six possible responses to the frustrating problem on behalf of the four-dimensionalist, (i) the Parfit (1984) inspired claim that identity is not what matters, (ii) the personal pronoun revisionism of Noonan (2010), (iii) the indirect concern account of Hudson (2001), (iv) the sensible stages account of Lewis (1986), (v) a multiple-concepts account of desire satisfaction, and (vi) a No Desire View according to which subpersons have no mental states and thus no desires to frustrate. I argue that none of these solutions will help the four-dimensionalist; she does better to reject the desire satisfaction theory, while the defender of the desire satisfaction theory does better to reject four-dimensionalism. (shrink)
Contribution to a book symposium on David Velleman's THE POSSIBILITY OF PRACTICAL REASON. In this book, Velleman argues that agency is compatible with a causal conception of the world, since the role of the agent can be played in this conception by an aim of self-knowledge instantiated in the mechanisms governing mental states. This article argues (i) that he must show what at the causal level plays the role of the agent's awareness of the normative guise of reasons and (ii) (...) that any attempt to provide the needed metaethical account of the normative property of being a reason will either be implausible or require serious changes in his "story of motivation". (shrink)
What features does a norm have to have such that we really ought to follow it? This paper argues that norms are authoritative when they are justified in a particular sense. However, this brand of justification is not any of those with which we are currently familiar. The authority of norms is not a matter of moral, epistemic or prudential justification. It depends instead on what I call "justification simpliciter." The concept of justification simpliciter is defined and defended in this (...) paper. (shrink)
In THE GENEALOGY OF MORALITY Nietzsche assess the value of the value judgments of morality from the perspective of human flourishing. His positive descriptions of the “higher men” he hopes for and the negative descriptions of the decadent humans he thinks morality unfortunately supports both point to a particular substantive conception of what such flourishing comes to. The Genealogy, however, presents us with a puzzle: why does Nietzsche’s own evaluative standard not receive a genealogical critique? The answer to this puzzle, (...) I argue, lies in recognizing the centrality of the notion of “life”, and its connection to power, in Nietzsche’s overall account. Leiter has argued that his “Millian Model” provides the most charitable reconstruction of appeals to a privileged evaluative standard of power; this model ascribes an inference from a strong doctrine of the will to power according to which only power can be desired. I propose a “Benthamite Model” that ascribes an inference from the inescapability of a tendency towards power, a tendency that is essential to life. I argue that this model avoids the objections Leiter directs at the Millian Model. (shrink)
This monograph provides a critical examination of autonomy in connection to moral knowledge. Drawing on Aristotle’s moral psychology, it is argued that moral judgments aim at knowledge; however, this does not undermine their action-guiding character.
Many philosophers have suggested that metaethical scepticism is an inherently unstable position. Recently, Dworkin has offered an argument to this effect, claiming that (a) metaethical scepticism entails a set of first-order moral claims, and (b) this set of claims is internally inconsistent. The present essay shows why this argument fails. Along the way, it situates a plausible anti-realist semantics within the range of options for dealing with uncontroversially non-referring terms, like ‘unicorns’.
Charles Pigden has argued for a logical Is/Ought gap on the grounds of the conservativeness of logic. I offer a counter-example which shows that Pigden’s argument is unsound and that there need be no logical gap between Is-premises and an Ought-conclusion. My counter-example is an argument which is logically valid, has only Is-premises and an Ought-conclusion, does not purport to violate the conservativeness of logic, and does not rely on controversial assumptions about Aristotelian biology or 'institutional facts.'.
Dans cet article, nous proposons de montrer expérimentalement que le "sens commun" n'est en matière moral ni complètement objectiviste ni complètement relativiste, mais qu'un même individu peut être tantôt objectiviste tantôt relativiste. De même, nous montrons que les jugements de goût portant sur le prédicat "dégoûtant" ne sont pas toujours relativiste mais peuvent varier selon le contexte entre objectivisme et relativisme.
New Waves in Ethics brings together the leading future figures in ethics broadly construed, with essays ranging from meta-ethics and normative ethics to applied ethics and political philosophy. Topics include new work on experimental philosophy, feminism, and global justice, incorporating perspectives informed from historical and contemporary approaches alike. An ideal collection for anyone interested in the most important debates in ethics and political philosophy, as well as those with an interest in the latest significant contributions from the leading new (...) generation of philosophers working in ethics. (shrink)
Sidgwickian Ethics provides a highly compelling treatment of the main meta-ethical and normative ethical doctrines found in Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. In this note, I dwell on three of its theses. In §I, I question Phillips’s account of Sidgwick’s moral epistemology. In §II, I argue in favour of a specific solution to the puzzle that he finds in this epistemology. In §III, I try to defend Sidgwick against the charge that his argument against dogmatic intuitionism is unfair to (...) its advocates. (shrink)
In this paper I outline Donald Davidson’s account of two forms of irrationality, akrasia and self-deception, and relate this account to ethical action and belief. His view of irrationality is generally a Freudian one, to the effect that agents must compartmentalize both offending particular mental contents, and governing second order principles. Davidson also hints that his account of akrasia and self-deception might show certain normative and meta-ethical theories to be irrational, insofar as they too engender irrationality. I explore these hints, (...) and hopefully show both that Davidson is correct about irrationality and correct that certain ethical theories (e.g. Kantian deontology and certain forms of moral realism) engender irrationality as well. I believe this to be no great loss to ethics generally, but will hopefully aid our understanding of how ethical action and belief actually happen. (shrink)
I critically discuss contemporary work in African, i.e., sub-Saharan, moral philosophy that has been written in English. I begin by providing an overview of the profession, after which I consider some of the major issues in normative ethics, then discuss a few of the more noteworthy research in applied ethics, and finally take up the key issues in meta-ethics. My aim is to highlight discussions that should be of interest to an ethicist working anywhere in the world, focusing on (...) ideas characteristic of the sub-Saharan region that are under-appreciated not merely for the purpose of comparative ethics, but also for substantive ethical argumentation. In particular, I maintain that there are kinds of communitarian and vitalist approaches to morality commonly held by sub-Saharan philosophers that international scholars should take seriously as genuine rivals to utilitarian, Kantian, contractarian, and care-oriented outlooks that dominate contemporary Euro-American discussion of ethically right action. (shrink)
Evolutionary ethics (EE) is a branch of philosophy that arouses both fascination and deep suspicion. It claims that Darwinian mechanisms and evolutionary data on animal sociality are relevant to ethical reflection. This field of study is often misunderstood and rarely fails to conjure up images of Social Darwinism as a vector for nasty ideologies and policies. However, it is worth resisting the temptation to reduce EE to Social Darwinism and developing an objective analysis of whether it is appropriate to adopt (...) an evolutionary approach in ethics. The purpose of this article is to ‘dedemonise’ EE while exploring its limits. I shall begin by presenting two ways of integrating a Darwinian way of thinking into the context of social and political sciences : Social Darwinism and what one could label ‘Pro-social Darwinism’. Next I will point out some of the fundamental errors on which Social Darwinism is grounded; this will help in understanding why contemporary evolutionary ethicists cannot possibly hold the views defended by this theory (unless they are inclined to intellectual dishonesty). On the contrary, EE seems more akin to a Pro-social Darwinian approach, except for the fact that it restricts its reflections to theoretical ethics. The second part of the paper (sections 3 to 7) provides a clear and detailed picture of EE as well as an analysis of its relevance at the different levels of ethics (descriptive, meta-, normative and practical). Special focus will be given to questions relating to the genesis of morals and the delicate shift from facts to norms. (shrink)
In the literature on African moral philosophy, it is common to find normative conclusions about the way we ought to act directly drawn from purported metaphysical facts about the nature of ourselves and the world. For example, Kwame Gyekye, the most influential sub-Saharan political philosopher, attempts to defend moderate communitarianism, roughly the view that agents have strong duties to support others in ways that do not violate human rights, by contending that it follows from the dual nature of the self (...) as both social and individual. In this article, I critically analyze this sort of rationale, and contend that it is unsound. I propose several reconstructions, but conclude that they cannot plausibly bridge the ‘is-ought gap’, and that similar arguments found in the field of African ethics, such as the frequent claim we must treat nature with respect since everything in the universe is interdependent, also fail to do so. (shrink)
Business ethics should include illicit businesses as targets of investigation. For, though such businesses violate human rights they have been largely ignored by business ethicists. It is time to surmount this indifference in view of recent international efforts to define illicit businesses for regulatory purposes. Standing in the way, however, is a meta-ethical question as to whether any business can be declared unqualifiedly immoral. In support of an affirmative answer I address a number of counter-indications by comparing approaches to organized (...) crime and to corporate crime, comparing the ethical critique of businesses studied in business ethics and those socially banned, and comparing the business ethics assumption as to businesses’ ethicality to societal ethical neutrality regarding war-related businesses. My conclusion: to help advance respect for human rights, business ethicists should apply their expertise to the task of defining illicit businesses. (shrink)
The ethics of Public Relations is changing: the pragmatical approach is giving way to the dialogical approach. Pragmatical PR Ethics concentrates on issues and cases and hardly has a conceptual core. Dialogical PR Ethics concentrates on procedures and structures and uses symmetric communication as its core concept. Both approaches of PR ethics have their strong and weak points. A meta-ethical framework is presented to combine both approaches.