In this piece I address the question of how the two parts of the *Metaphysics of Morals* are to be related to each other through invocation of the notion of practical schematism. In the process I argue that understanding the notion of moral teleology will help us address the relationship between Kant's principles of right, virtue and the categorical imperative.
The article offers a critical assessment of an article on “Corporate Legitimacy as Deliberation” by Guido Palazzo and Andreas Scherer in this journal. We share the concern about the precarious legitimacy of globally active corporations, infringing on the legitimacy of democracy at large. There is no quarrel with Palazzo/Scherer’s diagnosis, which focuses on the consequences of globalization and ensuing challenges for corporate social responsibilities. However, we disagree with the “solutions” offered by them. In a first step we refute the idea (...) of a legitimacy of morals, maintaining that morality is a premodern mode of creating legitimacy. Even worse, moral is becoming a dangerous commodity under conditions of fundamental global disagreements and antagonisms. We secondly refute the concept of the “politicized corporation”, maintaining that Palazzo/Scherer disregard the consequences of functional differentiation of modern societies and, in particular, disregard the wisdom of political restraint and constitutional guarantees for the autonomy of different spheres of society. Finally, we refute a seemingly romantic notion of deliberation, maintaining that deliberation and deliberative democracy is a worthy idea, which, however, has no place in the real world of globalized contexts. On the other hand, we also find enough common ground and common concern with Palazzo/Scherer to validate a fruitful discourse. (shrink)
Conflicts of interest are rampant in the American medical community. Today it is not uncommon for doctors to refer patients to clinics or labs in which they have a financial interest (40% of physicians in Florida invest in medical centers); for hospitals to offer incentives to physicians who refer patients (a practice that can lead to unnecessary hospitalization); or for drug companies to provide lucrative give-aways to entice doctors to use their "brand name" drugs (which are much more expensive than (...) generic drugs). In Medicine, Money and Morals, Marc A. Rodwin draws on his own experience as a health lawyer--and his research in health ethics, law, and policy--to reveal how financial conflicts of interest can and do negatively affect the quality of patient care. He shows that the problem has become worse over the last century and provides many actual examples of how doctors' decisions are influenced by financial considerations. We learn how two California physicians, for example, resumed referrals to Pasadena General Hospital only after the hospital started paying $70 per patient (their referrals grew from 14 in one month to 82 in the next). As Rodwin writes, incentives such as this can inhibit a doctor from taking action when a hospital fails to provide proper service, and may also lead to the unnecessary hospitalization of patients. We also learn of a Wyeth-Ayerst Labs promotion in which physicians who started patients on INDERAL (a drug for high blood pressure, angina, and migraines) received 1000 mileage points on American Airlines for each patient (studies show that promotions such as this have a direct effect on a doctor's choice of drug). Rodwin reveals why the medical community has failed to regulate conflicts of interest: peer review has little authority, state licensing boards are usually ignorant of abuses, and the AMA code of ethics has historically been recommended rather than required. He examines what can be learned from the way society has coped with the conflicts of interest of other professionals --lawyers, government officials, and businessmen--all of which are held to higher standards of accountability than doctors. And he recommends that efforts be made to prohibit and regulate certain kinds of activity (such as kickbacks and self-referrals), to monitor and regulate conduct, and to provide penalties for improper conduct. Our failure to face physicians' conflicts of interest has distorted the way medicine is practiced, compromised the loyalty of doctors to patients, and harmed society, the integrity of the medical profession, and patients. For those concerned with the quality of health care or medical ethics, Medicine, Money and Morals is a provocative look into the current health care crisis and a powerful prescription for change. (shrink)
Against Patrick Devlin, H. L. A. Hart rejects the enforcement of morals as such. Hart defends an expanded version of John Stuart Mill’s harm principle, but this expanded version is no more defensible than Mill’s original claim. Hart’s discussion fails to clarify what is really at stake in controversies regarding the moral acceptability of criminal prohibition of such activities as suicide and assisted suicide, recreational drug use, prostitution, and so on. Regarding the enforcement of morals as such, we (...) should acknowledge that the jury is still out. (shrink)
Moral behaviour, and more recently wisdom and prudence, are emerging as areas of interest in the study of business ethics and management. The purpose of this article is to illustrate that Cicero—lawyer, politician, orator and prolific writer, and one of the earliest experts in the field recognised the significance of moral behaviour in his society. Cicero wrote ‘Moral Duties’ (De Officiis) about 44 BC. He addressed the four cardinal virtues wisdom, justice, courage and temperance, illustrating how practical wisdom, theoretical/conceptual wisdom (...) and justice were viewed in Rome of the first century BC. ‘Moral Duties’ is a letter admonishing his son, Marcus. It refers to personal behaviour, business practice and analyses terms such as good faith and criminal fraud. In addition, it contains material which would be suitable for tutorials/seminars and discussions, particularly in the areas of critical thinking in business ethics and general management. A study of De Officiis in respect to present day management and business practice could give a wider perspective to business ethics and management students. If concepts such as moral virtue, moral propriety and moral goodness, many of which seem to be ignored in business situations today, are to be embedded in business leaders of the future, it is reasonable to expect that these qualities will be analysed and discussed by business students today. Further, a study of Cicero’s six-step approach, when preparing an address/speech, could be useful and productive for practitioners and students in this area. (shrink)
The "only pretension, of which I am tenacious," wrote Hazlitt, "is that of being a metaphysician"; but his metaphysics, and particularly what this book identifies as his power principle, has until now been neglected. This exciting book studies Hazlitt's development of the power principle as a counter to the pleasure principle of the Utilitarians, and examines the revelation of power in his philosophy of discourse, his account of imaginative structure, his theory of genius, and his moral theory.
In Professional Ethics and Civic Morals , Emile Durkheim outlined the core of his theory of morality and social rights which was to dominate his work throughout the course of his life. In Durkheim's view, sociology is a science of morals which are objective social facts, and these moral regulations form the basis of individual rights and obligations. This book is crucial to an understanding of Durkheim's sociology because it contains his much-neglected theory of the state as a (...) moral institution, and it provides an understanding of his critique of anomie and egoistic individualism. The growing interest in cultural revolution and moral regulation make this edition of Durkheim's classic work especially timely. The new preface by Bryan Turner sets the book in its intellectual and historical context, and illustrates the relevance of this work to present day debates on the state, society, and moral regulation. (shrink)
Flanagan (1991) was the first contemporary philosopher to suggest that a modularity of morals hypothesis (MMH) was worth consideration by cognitive science. There is now a serious empirically informed proposal that moral competence is best explained in terms of moral modules-evolutionarily ancient, fast-acting, automatic reactions to particular sociomoral experiences (Haidt & Joseph, 2007). MMH fleshes out an idea nascent in Aristotle, Mencius, and Darwin. We discuss the evidence for MMH, specifically an ancient version, “Mencian Moral Modularity,” which claims four (...) innate modules, and “Social Intuitionist Modularity,” which claims five innate modules. We compare these two moral modularity models, discuss whether the postulated modules are best conceived as perceptual/Fodorian or emotional/Darwinian, and consider whether assuming MMH true has any normative ethical consequences whatsoever. The discussion of MMH reconnects cognitive science with normative ethics in a way that involves the reassertion of the “is-ought” problem. We explain in a new way what this problem is and why it would not yield. The reason does not involve the logic of “ought,” but rather the plasticity of human nature and the realistic options to “grow” and “do” human nature in multifarious legitimate ways. (shrink)
Kant argues that morals should not only constrain politics, but that morals and politics properly understood cannot conflict. Such an uncompromising stance on the relation of morals to politics has been branded unrealistic and even politically irresponsible. While justice can afford to be blind, politics must keep its eyes wide open. In response to this charge I argue that Kant’s position on the relation of morals to politics is both morally uncompromising and yet politically flexible, both (...) principled and practical. Kantian justice is not blind to circumstances, and we need not abandon our convictions in order to be politically responsible. Indeed, Kant argues that future political progress can only be achieved when the coerced rule of right is coupled with the non-coerced rule of virtue. For Kant, freedom and justice are intertwined with publicity, and publicity depends upon the critical acumen and moral candour of an enlightened and virtuous citizenry. (shrink)
Codes are a well known and popular but weak form of ethical regulation in medical practice. There is, however, a lack of research on the relations between moral judgments and ethical Codes, or on the possibility of morally justifying these Codes. Our analysis begins by showing, given the Nuremberg Code, how a typical reference to natural law has historically served as moral justification. We then indicate, following the analyses of H. T. Engelhardt, Jr., and A. MacIntyre, why such general moral (...) justifications of codes must necessarily fail in a society of ââmoral strangersâ Going beyond Engelhardt we argue, that after the genealogical suspicion in morals raised by Nietzsche, not even Engelhardt's "principle of permission" can be rationally justified in a strong sense â a problem of transcendental argumentation in morals already realized by I. Kant. Therefore, we propose to abandon the project of providing general justifications for moral judgements and to replace it with a hermeneutical analysis of ethical meanings in real-world situations, starting with the archetypal ethical situation, the encounter with the Other (E. Levinas). (shrink)
Economist and evolutionary game theorist Daniel Friedman demonstrates that our moral codes and our market systems-while often in conflict-are really devices evolved to achieve similar ends, and that society functions best when morals and markets are in balance with each other.
Being a formal and general as well as the most widely accepted approach to practical rationality, rational decision theory should be crucial for justifying rational morals. In particular, acting morally should also (nearly always) be rational in decision theoretic terms. After defending this thesis, in the critical part of the paper two strategies to develop morals following this insight are criticized: game theoretical ethics of cooperation and ethical intuitionism. The central structural objections to ethics of cooperation are that (...) they too directly aim at the rationality of moral action and that they to do not encompass moral values or a moral desirability function. The constructive half of the paper takes up these criticisms by developing a two-part strategy to bring rationality and morals in line. The first part is to define ‘moral desirability’. This is done, using multi-attribute utility theory, by equating several adequate components of an individual’s comprehensive (rational) utility function with the moral desirability function. The second part is to introduce mechanisms, institutions, in particular socially valid moral norms, that provide further motivation for acting in accordance with morals. (shrink)
Moral phenomenology is (roughly) the study of those features of occurrent mental states with moral significance which are accessible through direct introspection, whether or not such states possess phenomenal character – a what-it-is-likeness. In this paper, as the title indicates, we introduce and make prefatory remarks about moral phenomenology and its significance for ethics. After providing a brief taxonomy of types of moral experience, we proceed to consider questions about the commonality within and distinctiveness of such experiences, with an eye (...) on some of the main philosophical issues in ethics and how moral phenomenology might be brought to bear on them. In discussing such matters, we consider some of the doubts about moral phenomenology and its value to ethics that are brought up by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Michael Gill in their contributions to this issue. (shrink)
I scrutinize the relationship between the way emotions give rise to modal judgement and the metaphysical necessity we ascribe to the latter. While moral concepts are often described as response-dependent, I propose to analyse them as response-enabled or grokking. I discuss how grokkingness is embedded in the emotional mechanisms that provoke imaginative resistance; how it shapes our manifest image of the world and the place of morality in it; the latter’s deep contingency as contrasted to its metaphysical necessity; and what (...) is essential to a moral outlook notwithstanding deep contingency. (shrink)
To compose a Christian book on exemplary Christian living, Ambrose appropriates and criticizes Cicero's book on "duties," "De officiis." In many passages within the moral part of his "Summa of Theology," Thomas Aquinas incorporates quotations from both Cicero and Ambrose. Comparison of the three texts raises issues about the relation of genres to terms, arguments, rules, and ideals in religious teaching. Genre becomes a useful category for analyzing religious rhetoric only when it is conceived as a set of persuasive or (...) pedagogical relations below a text's surface disposition. (shrink)
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)
Abstract I address questions about values in model-making in engineering, specifically: Might the role of values be attributable solely to interests involved in specifying and using the model? Selected examples illustrate the surprisingly wide variety of things one must take into account in the model- making itself. The notions of system (as used in engineering thermodynamics), and physically similar systems (as used in the physical sciences) are important and powerful in determining what is relevant to an engineering model. Another example (...) (windfarms) illustrates how an idea to completely re-characterize, or reframe, an engineering problem arose during model-making. I employ a qualitative analogue of the notion of physically similar systems. Historical cases can thus be drawn upon; I illustrate with a comparison between a geoengineering proposal to inject, or spray, sulfate aerosols, and two different historical cases involving the spraying of DDT (fire ant eradication; malaria eradication). The current geoengineering proposal is seen to be like the disastrous and counterproductive case, and unlike the successful case, of the spraying of DDT. I conclude by explaining my view that model-making in science is analogous to moral perception in action, drawing on a view in moral theory that has come to be called moral particularism. (shrink)
Building artificial moral agents (AMAs) underscores the fragmentary character of presently available models of human ethical behavior. It is a distinctly different enterprise from either the attempt by moral philosophers to illuminate the “ought” of ethics or the research by cognitive scientists directed at revealing the mechanisms that influence moral psychology, and yet it draws on both. Philosophers and cognitive scientists have tended to stress the importance of particular cognitive mechanisms, e.g., reasoning, moral sentiments, heuristics, intuitions, or a moral grammar, (...) in the making of moral decisions. However, assembling a system from the bottom-up which is capable of accommodating moral considerations draws attention to the importance of a much wider array of mechanisms in honing moral intelligence. Moral machines need not emulate human cognitive faculties in order to function satisfactorily in responding to morally significant situations. But working through methods for building AMAs will have a profound effect in deepening an appreciation for the many mechanisms that contribute to a moral acumen, and the manner in which these mechanisms work together. Building AMAs highlights the need for a comprehensive model of how humans arrive at satisfactory moral judgments. (shrink)
Companies have a moral responsibility to treat customers fairly. One way for companies to do so is to allow their employees to exercise reasonableness in their interactions with customers. We define reasonableness as a latitude or space that exists around expectations in the delivery of service. In this paper, we explore the concept of reasonableness from a customer’s perspective (i.e., perceived reasonableness) and the role that the morals of service personnel play in customers’ perceptions of reasonableness. First, through an (...) open-ended survey on customers’ unreasonable service experiences, we identify themes of perceived reasonableness. We also discuss the role that the morals of service personnel play within these themes. Second, in order to identify the relationships between these themes, we create a cognitive map and discuss the implications of the identified relationships. Finally, we provide directions for future research on reasonableness. (shrink)
This essay deals with Kant’s concept of friendship and tries to relate it to Kantian moral, legal and political theories. As a way to present an introduction to the topic, the text begins by bringing Aristotle’s concept and forms of friendship. After that, the concept and forms of friendship Kant presented both in his Doctrine of Virtue (The Metaphysic of Morals) and Lectures on Ethics are handled. Then the text approaches the problems and the advantages of Kant’s concept of (...) friendship and, last but not least, under the inspiration of Aristotle, it tries to bring Kant’s theory of friendship closer to his moral, legal and political theories. (shrink)
At the heart of one major approach to ethics—an approach counting among its proponents Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas—is the conviction that ethics is fundamentally related to what kind of persons we are. Many of Plato’s dialogues, for example, focus on what kind of persons we ought to be and begin with examinations of particular virtues: What is the nature of justice? Republic) What is the nature of piety? Euthyphro) What is the nature of temperance? Charmides) What is the nature (...) of courage? Laches) On the assumption that what kind of person one is is constituted by one’s character, the link between moral character and virtue is clear. We can think of one’s moral character as primarily a function of whether she has or lacks various moral virtues and vices. The virtues and vices that comprise one’s moral character are typically understood as dispositions to behave in certain ways in certain sorts of circumstances. For instance, an honest person is disposed to telling the truth when asked. These dispositions are typically understood as relatively stable and long-term. Further, they are also typically understood to be robust, that is, consistent across a wide-spectrum of conditions. We are unlikely, for example, to think that an individual who tells the truth to her friends but consistently lies to her parents and teachers possesses the virtue of honesty. Moral character, like most issues in moral psychology, stands at the intersection of issues in both normative ethics and empirical psychology. This suggests that there are conceivably two general approaches one could take when elucidating the nature of moral character. One could approach moral character primarily by focusing on standards set by normative ethics ; whether people can or do live up to these standards is irrelevant. Alternatively, one could approach moral character under the guideline that normative ethics ought to be constrained by psychology. On this second approach, it’s not that the normative/descriptive distinction disappears; instead, it is just that a theory of moral character ought to be appropriately constrained by what social psychology tells us moral agents are in fact like.. (shrink)
Recent philosophical discussion about the relation between fiction and reality pays little attention to our moral involvement with literature. Frank Palmer's purpose is to investigate how our appreciation of literary works calls upon and develops our capacity for moral understanding. He explores a wide range of philosophical questions about the relation of art to morality, and challenges theories that he regards as incompatible with a humane view of literary art. Palmer considers, in particular, the extent to which the values and (...) moral concepts involved in our understanding of human beings can be said to enter into our understanding of, and response to, fictional characters. The scope of his discussion encompasses literary aesthetics, ethics, and epistemology, and he makes extensive reference to literary examples. (shrink)
A theory of morality acceptable to humanists must be one that can be accepted independently of religion. In this paper, I argue that while there is such a theory, it is a non-standard one, and its acceptance would have some far-reaching consequences. As one might expect, the theory is similar to others in various ways. But it is not the same as any of them. Indeed, it is a radically new theory. Like Hume’s ethics, it is founded on our natural (...) sociability, and feelings of empathy for others. Like Aristotle’s theory, it incorporates an ethics of virtue. Like Kant’s theory, it regards the set of moral principles as those appropriate for a socially ideal society. But unlike Kant’s theory, it is essentially utilitarian. I call it ‘social contractual utilitarianism’. (shrink)
Alison Denham examines the ways in which our engagement with literary art, and metaphorical discourse in particular, informs our moral beliefs. She considers to what extent moral and metaphorical discourses are capable of truth or falsehood, warrant or justification, and how it is that we understand these discourses. This vital new study offers a fresh view of the nature of the moral and the metaphorical, and the relations between art and morality.
Sustainable investment (SI), which integrates social, environmental and ethical issues, has grown from a niche market of individual ethical investors to embrace institutional investors (e.g. pension funds) resulting in £764 billion in assets under management in the UK alone [Eurosif, 2008 : ‘European SRI Study 2008’ (Eurosif, Paris)]. Explaining this growth is complex, involving shifts in personal and collective values, reactions to corporate scandals, scientific and media pronouncements about climate change, Government initiatives, responses from financial markets and the influence of (...) SI innovators in The City of London. The article examines the influence of human agency through interviews with 14 SI champions who have variously been responsible for launching SI funds and changing investment processes and organisational structures in order to enhance SI. Interviewees were asked about their motivations and persuasive strategies, the obstacles they faced and how they overcame them as well as broader implications of SI for financial markets. The following key categories inform the results and the discussion: Values; Conservatism, Antipathy and Incredulity; Optimism and Sympathy from Insiders; The Social and Political Context; The Business Case; Organisational Constraints; Inappropriate forms of Remuneration; Short-termism; The Nature of Capitalism. Three discourses were also identified. The first is the necessity to make a business case for SI; the second is the benefits that SI can bring to the quest of overcoming short-termism; the third is a belief that for SI to have a significant influence, greater government intervention is required. (shrink)
This collection examines prevalent assumptions in moral reasoning which are often accepted uncritically in medical ethics. It introduces a range of perspectives from philosophy and medicine on the nature of moral reasoning and relates these to illustrative problems, such as New Reproductive Technologies, the treatment of sick children, the assessment of quality of life, genetics, involuntary psychiatric treatment and abortion. In each case, the contributors address the nature and worth of the moral theories involved in discussions of the relevant issues, (...) and focus on the types of reasoning which are employed. 'Medical ethics is in danger of becoming a subject kept afloat by a series of platitudes about respect for persons or the importance of autonomy. This book is a bold and imaginative attempt to break away from such rhetoric into genuine informative dialogue between philosophers and doctors, with no search after consensus.' Mary Warnock. (shrink)
Author comments on the changes in the philosophy of immunology that have occurred since the publication of his book The Immune Self: Theory or Metaphor?, as well as on the dangers, misunderstandings and expectations in this area. Finally, he presents his account of moral agency in the context of his own works discussing this question.
Selbstgerechtes Wohlwollen in der Psychoanalyse - J. Körner: Mitleid. Das Ende der Empathie - II. Moral und das Böse - P. Stoellger: Lesarten des Bösen - R. Bittner: Verwüstung durch Moral? - III. Moral als Gewalt?
Featuring new selections chosen by coeditor Lewis Vaughn, the third edition of Louis P. Pojman's The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature brings together an extensive and varied collection of ninety-one classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, the book uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed in each chapter. Literary works by Camus, Hawthorne, Hugo, Huxley, Ibsen, Le Guin, (...) Melville, Orwell, Styron, Tolstoy, and many others lead students into such philosophical concepts and issues as relativism; utilitarianism; virtue ethics; the meaning of life; freedom and autonomy; sex, love, and marriage; animal rights; and terrorism. Once introduced, these topics are developed further through readings by philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nozick, Singer, and Sartre. This unique anthology emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics texts. It also incorporates chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches of the writers. The third edition brings the collection up-to-date, adding selections by Jane English, William Frankena, Don Marquis, John Stuart Mill, Mary Midgley, Thomas Nagel, Judith Jarvis Thomson, and J.O. Urmson. It also features a new chapter on euthanasia with essays by Dan W. Brock, J. Gay-Williams, and James Rachels. Ideal for introductory ethics courses, The Moral Life, Third Edition, also provides an engaging gateway into personal and social ethics for general readers. (shrink)
Now in its fourth edition, Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn's acclaimed The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature brings together an extensive and varied collection of eighty-five classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, the book uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed. Literary works by Angelou, Camus, Hawthorne, Huxley, Ibsen, Le Guin, Melville, Orwell, Styron, Tolstoy, and many (...) others lead students into such philosophical concepts and issues as relativism; utilitarianism; virtue ethics; the meaning of life; freedom and autonomy; sex, love, and marriage; animal rights; and terrorism. These topics are developed further through readings by philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Singer, Sartre, Nagel, and Thomson. This unique anthology emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics texts. It also incorporates chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches of the writers. The fourth edition features five new readings--by James Rachels, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Levin, John Corvino, and Stephen Nathanson--and a new appendix on how to write a philosophy paper. A new Companion Website features resources for both students and instructors including reading summaries; true/false, multiple-choice, and essay questions; and PowerPoint slides. Ideal for introductory ethics courses, The Moral Life, Fourth Edition, also provides an engaging gateway into personal and social ethics for general readers. (shrink)
How are general relations of law and morality typically conceived in an environment of Anglo-saxon common law? This paper considers some classical common law methods and traditions as these have confronted and been overlaid with modern ideas of legal positivism. While classical common law treated a community and its morality as the cultural foundation of law, legal positivism's analytical separation of law and morals, allied with liberal approaches to legal regulation, have made the relationship of legal and moral principles (...) more complex and contested. Using ideas from Durkheim's and Weber's sociology, I argue that the traditional common law emphasis on an inductive, empirical treatment of moral practices has continuing merit, but in contemporary conditions the vague idea of community embedded in classical common law thought must be replaced with a much more precise conceptualisation of coexisting communities, whose moral bonds are diverse and require a corresponding diversity of forms of legal recognition or protection. (shrink)
Is morality rational? In this book Gauthier argues that moral principles are principles of rational choice. He proposes a principle whereby choice is made on an agreed basis of cooperation, rather than according to what would give an individual the greatest expectation of value. He shows that such a principle not only ensures mutual benefit and fairness, thus satisfying the standards of morality, but also that each person may actually expect greater utility by adhering to morality, even though the choice (...) did not have that end primarily in view. In resolving what may appear to be a paradox, the author establishes morals on the firm foundation of reason. Gauthier's argument includes an account of value, linking it to preference and utility; a discussion of the curcumstances in which morality is unnecessary; and an application of morals by agreement to relations between peoples at different levels of development and different generations. Finally, he reflects on the assumptions about individuality and community made by his account of rationality and morality. (shrink)
“The genealogy of morals” is, most famously, a pair of genealogies: that of the good/evil dichotomy in the First Treatise, and that of the bad conscience in the Second Treatise. But the straightforward presentation of these two narratives is subverted even before it begins. Nietzsche classifies the book not as a treatise or inquiry but as a “polemic”; voices interrupt the narrative to insist that much is left unsaid; the narratives are framed by, of all things, reflections on the (...) scientific conscience; Nietzsche declares the entire enterprise to be a contribution to the critique of “the value of values”; the two genealogies of the first two Treatises overlap and various points and ultimately converge in a discussion of the “meaning” of the “ascetic ideal.” Whatever one makes of these complications, two tentative conclusions can be drawn. Nietzsche is profoundly concerned with the status of his genealogy. And genealogy does not function as reportage, primarily concerned with the accurate depiction of events; rather, it aims to reveal something about the status of “moral values” and the possibility of an alternative to them. (shrink)
Kant's Moral Law: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals ranks with Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Ethics as one of the most important works of moral philosophy ever written. In Moral Law, Kant argues that a human action is only morally good if it is done from a sense of duty, and that a duty is a formal principle based not on self-interest or from a consideration of what results might follow. From this he derived his famous and controversial maxim, (...) the categorical imperative: "Act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature." H. J. Paton's translation remains the standard in English for this work. It retains all of Kant's liveliness of mind, suppressed intellectual excitement, moral earnestness, and pleasure in words. The commentary and detailed analysis that Paton provides is an invaluable and necessary guide for the student and general reader. (shrink)
The centennial of Dewey & Tuft’s Ethics (1908) provides a timely opportunity to reflect both on Dewey’s intellectual debt to utilitarian thought, and on his critique of it. In this paper I examine Dewey’s assessment of utilitarianism, but also his developing view of the good (ends; consequences), the right (rules; obligations) and the virtuous (approbations; standards) as “three independent factors in morals.” This doctrine (found most clearly in the 2nd edition of 1932) as I argue in the last sections, (...) has significant forward-going implications for debates in ethics, insofar as it functions to deflate debates among ethicists that turns on claims about the conceptual primacy of any one of these three ethical concepts over the other two. To find what “permanent value each group contributes to the clarification and direction of reflective morality” was the task Dewey set for himself. But to carry that project through demands showing also why the application of considerations of ends, rules, and virtues to problems of practice is not quite as many self-described utilitarians, deontologists, and virtue ethicists conceive it. (shrink)
Jesse Prinz argues that recent work in philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology supports two radical hypotheses about the nature of morality: moral values are based on emotional responses, and these emotional responses are inculcated by culture, not hard-wired through natural selection. In the first half of the book, Jesse Prinz defends the hypothesis that morality has an emotional foundation. Evidence from brain imaging, social psychology, and psychopathology suggest that, when we judge something to be right or wrong, we are merely expressing (...) our emotions. Prinz argues that these emotions do not track objective features of reality; rather, the rightness and wrongness of an act consists in the fact that people are disposed to have certain emotions towards it. In the second half of the book, he turns to a defense of moral relativism. Moral facts depend on emotional responses, and emotional responses vary from culture to culture. Prinz surveys the anthropological record to establish moral variation, and he draws on cultural history to show how attitudes toward practices such as cannibalism and marriage change over time. He also criticizes evidence from animal behavior and child development that has been taken to support the claim that moral attitudes are hard-wired by natural selection. Prinz concludes that there is no single true morality, but he also argues that some moral values are better than others; moral progress is possible. Throughout the book, Prinz relates his views to contemporary and historical work in philosophical ethics. His views echo themes in the writings of David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche, but Prinz supports, extends, and revises these classic theories using the resources of cutting-edge cognitive science. The Emotional Construction of Morals will stimulate and challenge anyone who is curious about the nature and origin of moral values. (shrink)
The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is Kant's central contribution to moral philosophy, and has inspired controversy ever since it was first published in 1785. Kant champions the insights of 'common human understanding' against what he sees as the dangerous perversions of ethical theory. Morality is revealed to be a matter of human autonomy: Kant locates the source of the 'categorical imperative' within each and every human will. However, he also portrays everyday morality in a way that many (...) readers find difficult to accept. The Groundwork is a short book, but its argument is dense, intricate and at times treacherous. This commentary explains Kant's arguments paragraph by paragraph, and also contains an introduction, a synopsis of the argument, six short interpretative essays on key topics of the Groundwork, and a glossary of key terms. It will be an indispensable tool for anyone wishing to study the Groundwork in detail. (shrink)
This is the penultimate draft of a paper originally presented at the Hart-Fuller at 50 conference, held at the NYU Law School in February 2008. A revised version will appear in the NYU Law Review. The paper seeks to clarify and assess HLA Hart's famous claim that legal positivism somehow involves a 'separation of law and morals.' The paper contends that Hart's 'separability thesis should not be confused with the 'social thesis,' with the 'sources thesis,' or with a methodological (...) thesis about jurisprudence. Hart's thesis denies the existence of necessary (conceptual) connections between law and morality. But that thesis is false: there are many necessary connections between law and morality, some of them conceptually significant. Among these is an important negative connection: law is of its nature morally fallible and morally risky. Lon Fuller emphasised the 'internal morality of law,' the 'morality that makes law possible'. Hart stressed that there is also an immorality that law makes possible. Law's nature is seen not only in its internal virtues, in legality, but also in its internal vices, in legalism. (shrink)
Morals from Motives develops a virtue ethics inspired more by Hume and Hutcheson's moral sentimentalism than by recently-influential Aristotelianism. It argues that a reconfigured and expanded "morality of caring" can offer a general account of right and wrong action as well as social justice. Expanding the frontiers of ethics, it goes on to show how a motive-based "pure" virtue theory can also help us to understand the nature of human well-being and practical reason.
This is the only book devoted entirely to The Metaphysics of Morals. Seventeen essays by leading contemporary Kant scholars cover such topics as Kant's views on rights, punishment, contract, practical reasoning, revolution, freedom, virtue, legislation, happiness, moral judgement, love, respect, duties to oneself, and motivation.
I extract some philosophical morals from some aspects of Lagrangian mechanics. (A companion paper will present similar morals from Hamiltonian mechanics and Hamilton-Jacobi theory.) One main moral concerns methodology: Lagrangian mechanics provides a level of description of phenomena which has been largely ignored by philosophers, since it falls between their accustomed levels---``laws of nature'' and ``models''. Another main moral concerns ontology: the ontology of Lagrangian mechanics is both more subtle and more problematic than philosophers often realize. The treatment (...) of Lagrangian mechanics provides an introduction to the subject for philosophers, and is technically elementary. In particular, it is confined to systems with a finite number of degrees of freedom, and for the most part eschews modern geometry. (shrink)
This paper contains an overview of the essays contained in the Mind and morals anthology plus a critical discussion of certain themes raised in many of these essays concerning the bearing of recent work in cognitive science on the traditional project of moral theory. Specifically, I argue for the following claims: (1) authors like Virginia Held, who appear to be antagonistic toward the methodological naturalism of Owen Flanagan, Andy Clark, Paul Churchland, and others, are really in fundamental agreement with (...) the naturalists (at least once the naturalist view is suitably clarified); (2) the prototype theory of moral concepts that is inspired by recent work in cognitive science does not necessarily jeopardize the aim of systematization characteristic of traditional moral theory; (3) nor does it threaten certain widely accepted views about moral rationality that is part of traditional moral theorizing. Moreover, I speculate that (4) recent work in cognitive science can be expected to play a corroborative role in the justification of theories in ethics, but we should probably not expect this work to yield new insights and directions in ethics. Finally, (5) Fodor's recent critique of cognitive science makes clear the perils of methodological ethical naturalism. (shrink)
Shortly before his death, David Hume declared his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (1751) to be the best of his many writings. In this highly influential work, Hume sets out his theory of justice and benevolence and the other virtues, and argues that morality is founded on the natural feelings or sentiments of humankind. The text printed in this edition is the Clarendon critical edition of Hume's works. This volume also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a (...) glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings. (shrink)
Aristotle and Confucius are pivotal figures in world history; nevertheless, Western and Eastern cultures have in modern times largely abandoned the insights of these masters. Remastering Morals is the first book-length scholarly comparison of the ethics of Aristotle and Confucius. May Sim's comparisons offer fresh interpretations of the central teachings of both men. More than a catalog of similarities and differences, her study brings two great traditions into dialog so that each is able to learn from the other. This (...) is essential reading for anyone interested in virtue-oriented ethics. (shrink)