Philips defends a middle ground between the view that there is a set of standards binding on rational beings as such (universalism) and the view that differences in morals reduce ultimately to matters of taste (skepticism). He begins with a sustained critique of universalist moral theories and some familiar approaches to concrete moral questions that presuppose them (most appeals to intuitions, respect for person's moralities, and versions of contractarianism and wide reflective equilibrium). He goes on to criticize major recent attempts (...) to develop nonuniversalist alternatives to skepticism, arguing that they rely on excessively abstract and philosophically indefensible preference satisfaction theories of the good. According to Philips's positive alternative, moral standards are justified to the extent that they support reasonably valued ways of life. He devotes considerable attention to clarifying this idea and draws conclusions from it about the role and limits of reason in ethics. Philips's theory provides us with a theoretical basis for dealing with actual moral controversies and for approaching questions of applied and professional ethics in a systematic way. (shrink)
This book introduces the reader to ethics by examining a current and important debate. During the last fifty years the orthodox position in ethics has been a broadly non-cognitivist one: since there are no moral facts, moral remarks are best understood, not as attempting to describe the world, but as having some other function - such as expressing the attitudes or preferences of the speaker. In recent years this position has been increasingly challenged by moral realists who maintain that there (...) are moral facts; there is a truth of the matter in ethics, which is independent of our views, and which we seek to discover. Unfortunately much of this interesting debate found in the work of McDowell, Wiggins, Putnam, Blackburn and others is not easily accessible to undergraduates. McNaughton presents many of the major issues in ethics by way of a clear exposition of both sides of this argument and assumes no prior knowledge of philosophy. Topics discussed include: moral observation, moral motivation, amoralism and wickedness, moral weakness, cultural relativism and utilitarianism. The book concludes that a convincing case can be made out for a radical form of moral realism in which moral virtue is found, not in the following of correct moral principles, but rather in the development of moral sensitivity. Moral Vision is a clear and engaged introduction to an important, and often troubling, debate. (shrink)
Philosophers since ancient times have pondered how we can know whether moral claims are true or false. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed widespread skepticism concerning the possibility of moral knowledge. Indeed, some argued that moral statements lacked cognitive content altogether, because they were not susceptible to empirical verification. The British philosopher A. J. Ayer contends that 'They are pure expressions of feeling and as such do not come under the category of truth and falsehood. They are unverifiable (...) ... because they do not express genuine propositions.' The second half of the twentieth century brought a revival of interest among philosophers in moral and political questions. Whether or not ethics can be founded upon a rational basis continues to preoccupy the philosophical community even now. (shrink)
Social action is central to social thought. This centrality reflects the overwhelming causal significance of action for social life, the centrality of action to any account of social phenomena, and the fact that conventions and normativity are features of human activity. This book provides philosophical analyses of fundamental categories of human social action, including cooperative action, conventional action, social norm governed action, and the actions of the occupants of organizational roles. A distinctive feature of the book is that it applies (...) these theories of social action categories to some important moral issues that arise in social contexts such as the collective responsibility for environmental pollution, humanitarian intervention, and dealing with the rights of minority groups. Avoiding both the excessively atomistic individualism of rational choice theorists and implausible collectivist assumptions, this important book will be widely read by philosophers of the social sciences, political scientists and sociologists. (shrink)
From a moral point of view we think of ourselves as capable of responsible actions. From a scientific point of view we think of ourselves as animals whose behavior, however highly evolved, conforms to natural scientific laws. Natural Agency argues that these different perspectives can be reconciled, despite the skepticism of many philosophers who have argued that "free will" is impossible under "scientific determinism." This skepticism is best overcome according to the author, by defending a causal theory of action, that (...) is by establishing that actions are constituted by behavioral events with the appropriate kind of mental causal history. He sets out a rich and subtle argument for such a theory and defends it against its critics. Thus the book demonstrates the importance of philosophical work in action theory for the central metaphysical task of understanding our place in nature. (shrink)
Moral relativism attracts and repels. What is defensible in it and what is to be rejected? Do we as human beings have no shared standards by which we can understand one another? Can we abstain from judging one another's practices? Do we truly have divergent views about what constitutes good and evil, virtue and vice, harm and welfare, dignity and humiliation, or is there some underlying commonality that trumps it all? These questions turn up everywhere, from Montaigne's essay on cannibals, (...) to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to the debate over female genital mutilation. They become ever more urgent with the growth of mass immigration, the rise of religious extremism, the challenges of Islamist terrorism, the rise of identity politics, and the resentment at colonialism and the massive disparities of wealth and power between North and South. Are human rights and humanitarian interventions just the latest form of cultural imperialism? By what right do we judge particular practices as barbaric? Who are the real barbarians? In this provocative new book, the distinguished social theorist Steven Lukes takes an incisive and enlightening look at these and other challenging questions and considers the very foundations of what we believe, why we believe it, and whether there is a profound discord between "us" and "them.". (shrink)
Introduction -- The self-interest based contractarian response to the skeptic -- A feminist ethics response to the skeptic -- Deformed desires -- Self-interest versus morality -- The amoralist -- The motive skeptic -- The interdependency thesis.
This stimulating and wide-ranging book mounts a profound enquiry into some of the most pressing questions of our age, by examining the relationship between biological science and Christianity. The history of biological discovery is explored from the point of view of a leading philosopher and ethicist. What effect should modern biological theory and practice have on Christian understanding of ethics? How much of that theory and practice should Christians endorse? Can Christians, for example, agree that biological changes are not governed (...) by transcendent values, or that there are no clear or essential boundaries between species? To what extent can 'Nature' set our standards? Professor Clark takes a reasoned look at biological theory since Darwin and argues that an orthodox Christian philosophy is better able to accommodate the truth of such theory than is the sort of progressive, meliorist interpretation of Christian doctrine which is usually offered as the properly 'modern' option. (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 volume collects some influential essays in which Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of philosophical problems: the way in which our judgments relate to the world. This debate has centered on realism, or the view that what we say is validated by the way things stand in the world, and a variety of oppositions to it. Prominent among the latter are expressive and projective theories, but also a relaxed pluralism that (...) discourages the view that there are substantial issues at stake. The figure of the "quasi-realist" dramatizes the difficulty of conducting these debates. Typically philosophers thinking of themselves as realists will believe that they alone can give a proper or literal account of some of our attachments--to truth, to facts, to the independent world, to knowledge and certainty. The quasi-realist challenge, developed by Blackburn in this volume, is that we can have those attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle. The cases treated here include the theories of value and knowledge, modality, probability, causation, intentionality and rule-following, and explanation. A substantial new introduction has been added, drawing together some of the central themes. The essays articulate a fresh alternative to a primitive realist/anti-realist opposition, and their cumulative effect is to yield a new appreciation of the delicacy of the debate in these central areas. (shrink)
This book offers the fullest and most sophisticated account of Gert's influential moral theory, a model first articulated in the classic work The Moral Rules: A New Rational Foundation for Morality, published in 1970. In this final revision, Gert makes clear that the moral rules are only one part of an informal system that does not provide unique answers to every moral question but does always provide a range of morally acceptable options. A new chapter on reasons includes an account (...) of what makes one reason better than another and a second new chapter is devoted to the question of justifying violations of the rules. Moral impartiality, the moral ideals, and virtue and vice, are all treated in greater detail. Throughout, Gert attempts to answer all of the challenges that his work has provoked. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive study of the ethics of G. E. Moore, the most important English-speaking ethicist of the twentieth century. Moore's ethical project, set out in his seminal text Principia Ethica, is to preserve common moral insight from skepticism and, in effect, persuade his readers to accept the objective character of goodness. Brian Hutchinson explores Moore's arguments in detail and in the process relates the ethical thought to Moore's anti-skeptical epistemology. Moore was, without perhaps fully realizing it, skeptical (...) about the very enterprise of philosophy itself, and in this regard, as Brian Hutchinson reveals, was much closer in his thinking to Wittgenstein than has been previously realized. This book shows Moore's ethical work to be much richer and more sophisticated than his critics have acknowledged. (shrink)
Simon Blackburn puts forward a compelling and original philosophy of human motivation and morality. Why do we behave as we do? Can we improve? Is our ethics at war with our passions, or is it an upshot of those passions? Blackburn seeks the answers to such questions in an exploration of the nature of moral emotions and the structures of human motivation. He develops a naturalistic ethics, which integrates our understanding of ethics with the rest of our understanding of the (...) world we live in. His theory does not debunk the ethical by reducing it to the non-ethical, and it banishes the spectres of scepticism and relativism that have haunted recent moral philosophy. Ruling Passions reveals how ethics can maintain its authority even though it is rooted in the very emotions and motivations that it exists to control. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers have grown increasingly skeptical toward both morality and moral theory. Some argue that moral theory is a radically misguided enterprise that does not illuminate moral practice, while others simply deny the value of morality in human life. In this important new book, Louden responds to the arguments of both "anti-morality" and "anti-theory" skeptics. In Part One, he develops and defends an alternative conception of morality, which, he argues, captures more of the central features of both Aristotelian and Kantian (...) ethics than do other contemporary models, and enables the central importance of morality to be convincingly reaffirmed. In Louden's model, morality is primarily a matter of what one does to oneself, rather than what one does or does not do to others. This model eliminates the gulf that many anti-morality critics say exists between morality's demands and the personal point of view. Louden further argues that morality's primary focus should be on agents and their lives, rather than on right actions, and that it is always better to be morally better--i.e. it is impossible to be "too moral." Part Two presents Louden's alternative conception of moral theory. Here again he draws on the work of Aristotle and Kant, showing that their moral theories have far more in common than is usually thought, and that those features that they share can be the basis for a viable moral theory that is immune to the standard anti-theory objections. Louden reaffirms the necessity and importance of moral theory in human life, and shows that moral theories fulfill a variety of genuine and indispensable human needs. (shrink)
In Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, editors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons bring together eleven specially commissioned essays by distinguished moral philosophers exploring the nature and possibility of moral knowledge. Each essay represents a major position within the exciting field of moral epistemology in which a proponent of the position presents and defends his or her view and locates it vis-a-vis competing views. The authors include established philosophers such as Peter Railton, Robert Audi, Richard Brandt, and Simon Blackburn, (...) as well as newer voices in the field. Topics covered include moral skepticism, moral truth, projectivism, contractarianism, coherentism, feminist views, quasi-realism, and pragmatism. The lively and clear selections do not presuppose specialized knowledge of philosophy, and the philosophical vocabulary used throughout the anthology is uniform, in order to facilitate understanding by those not familiar with the field. The first chapter includes a sustained critical discussion of the major views represented in the following chapters, thereby furnishing beginning students with appropriate background to understand the selections. The volume is further enhanced by an index and an extensive bibliography. An excellent text for undergraduate and graduate courses, Moral Knowledge provides the most up-to-date work on moral knowledge and justification. (shrink)
This book is a systematic and constructive treatment of a number of traditional issues at the foundations of ethics. These issues concern the objectivity of ethics, the possibility and nature of moral knowledge, the relationship between the moral point of view and a scientific or naturalist world-view, the nature of moral value and obligation, and the role of morality in a person's rational lifeplan. In striking contrast to traditional and more recent work in the field, David Brink offers an integrated (...) defense of the objectivity of ethics. (shrink)
What does it mean for emotion to be well-constituted? What distinguishes good feeling from (just) feeling good? Is there such a distinction at all? The answer to these questions becomes clearer if we realize that for an emotion to be all it seems, it must be responsible as well as responsive to what it is about. It may be that good feeling depends on feeling truly if we are to be really moved, moved in the way that avoids the need (...) for constant, fretful replenishment and reinforcement. To be sound, emotions may need to be capable of genuineness, depth, and other kinds of integrity. And that, in turn, may require certain virtues of mind, such as truthfulness, temperateness, and even courage, that are more familiar at the level of action. The governing aim of this book is to demonstrate that there can be problems of a structural kind with the adequacy of emotions and the emotional life. (shrink)
Practical philosophy and ethics -- Practical tortise raising -- Truth, beauty, and goodness -- Dilemmas: dithering, plumping, and grief -- Group minds and expressive harm -- Trust, cooperation, and human psychology -- Must we weep for sentimentalism? -- Through thick and thin -- Perspectives, fictions, errors, play -- The steps from doing to saying -- Success semantics -- Wittgenstein's irrealism -- Circles, finks, smells, and biconditionals -- The absolute conception: Putnam vs. Williams -- Julius Caesar and George Berkeley play leapfrog (...) -- The majesty of reason -- Fiction and conviction. (shrink)
Expressivism - the sophisticated contemporary incarnation of the noncognitivist research program of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare - is no longer the province of metaethicists alone. Its comprehensive view about the nature of both normative language and normative thought has also recently been applied to many topics elsewhere in philosophy - including logic, probability, mental and linguistic content, knowledge, epistemic modals, belief, the a priori, and even quantifiers. Yet the semantic commitments of expressivism are still poorly understood and have not been (...) very far developed. As argued within, expressivists have not yet even managed to solve the "negation problem" - to explain why atomic normative sentences are inconsistent with their negations. As a result, it is far from clear that expressivism even could be true, let alone whether it is. Being For seeks to evaluate the semantic commitments of expressivism, by showing how an expressivist semantics would work, what it can do, and what kind of assumptions would be required, in order for it to do it. Building on a highly general understanding of the basic ideas of expressivism, it argues that expressivists can solve the negation problem - but only in one kind of way. It shows how this insight paves the way for an explanatorily powerful, constructive expressivist semantics, which solves many of what have been taken to be the deepest problems for expressivism. But it also argues that no account with these advantages can be generalized to deal with constructions like tense, modals, or binary quantifiers. Expressivism, the book argues, is coherent and interesting, but false. (shrink)
Are all moral truths relative or do certain moral truths hold for all cultures and people? In Moral Relativism: A Reader, this and related questions are addressed by twenty-one contemporary moral philosophers and thinkers. This engaging and nontechnical anthology, the only up-to-date collection devoted solely to the topic of moral relativism, is accessible to a wide range of readers including undergraduate students from various disciplines. The selections are organized under six main topics: (1) General Issues; (2) Relativism and Moral Diversity; (...) (3) On the Coherence of Moral Relativism; (4) Defense and Criticism; (5) Relativism, Realism, and Rationality; and (6) Case Study on Relativism. Contributors include Ruth Benedict, Richard Brandt, Thomas L. Carson, Philippa Foot, Gordon Graham, Gilbert Harman, Loretta M. Kopelman, David Lyons, J. L. Mackie, Michele Moody-Adams, Paul K. Moser, Thomas Nagel, Martha Nussbaum, Karl Popper, Betsy Postow, James Rachels, W. D. Ross, T. M. Scanlon, William Graham Sumner, and Carl Wellman. The volume concludes with a case study on female circumcision/genital mutilation that vividly brings into focus the practical aspects and implications of moral relativism. An ideal primary text for courses in moral relativism, Moral Relativism: A Reader can also be used as a supplementary text for introductory courses in ethics and for courses in various disciplines--anthropology, sociology, theology, political science, and cultural studies--that discuss relativism. The volume's pedagogical and research value is enhanced by a topical bibliography on moral relativism and a substantial general introduction that includes explanatory summaries of the twenty selections. (shrink)
We typically assume that the standard for what is beautiful lies in the eye of the beholder. Yet this is not the case when we consider morality; what we deem morally good is not usually a matter of opinion. Such thoughts push us toward being realists about moral properties, but a cogent theory of moral realism has long been an elusive philosophical goal. Paul Bloomfield here offers a rigorous defense of moral realism, developing an ontology for morality that models the (...) property of being morally good on the property of being physically healthy. The model is assembled systematically; it first presents the metaphysics of healthiness and goodness, then explains our epistemic access to properties such as these, adds a complementary analysis of the semantics and syntax of moral discourse, and finishes with a discussion of how we become motivated to act morally. Bloomfield closely attends to the traditional challenges facing moral realism, and the discussion nimbly ranges from modern medical theory to ancient theories of virtue, and from animal navigation to the nature of normativity. Maintaining a highly readable style throughout, Moral Reality yields one of the most compelling theories of moral realism to date and will appeal to philosophers working on issues in metaphysics or moral philosophy. (shrink)
Long claimed to be the dominant conception of practical reason, the Humean theory that reasons for action are instrumental, or explained by desires, is the basis for a range of worries about the objective prescriptivity of morality. As a result, it has come under intense attack in recent decades. A wide variety of arguments have been advanced which purport to show that it is false, or surprisingly, even that it is incoherent. Slaves of the Passions aims to set the record (...) straight, by advancing a version of the Humean theory of reasons which withstands this sophisticated array of objections. Schroeder defends a radical new view which, if correct, means that the commitments of the Humean theory have been widely misunderstood. Along the way, he raises and addresses questions about the fundamental structure of reasons, the nature of normative explanations, the aims of and challenges facing reductive views in metaethics, the weight of reasons, the nature of desire, moral epistemology, and most importantly, the relationship between agent-relational and agent-neutral reasons for action. (shrink)
James Griffin asks how, and how much, we can improve our ethical standards not lift our behaviour closer to our standards but refine the standards themselves. To give an answer to this question it is necessary to answer most of the questions of ethics. So Value Judgement includes discussion of what a good life is like, where the boundaries of the `natural world' come, how values relate to that world, how great human capacitiesthe ones important to ethicsare, and where moral (...) norms come from. -/- Throughout the book the question of what philosophy can contribute to ethics repeatedly arises. Philosophical traditions, such as most forms of utilitarianism and deontology and virtue ethics, are, Griffin contends, too ambitious. Ethics cannot be what philosophers in those traditions expect it to be because agents cannot be what their philosophies need them to be. -/- This clear, compelling, and original account of ethics will be of interest to anyone concerned with thinking about values: not only philosophers but legal, political, and economic theorists as well. L. (shrink)
Since September 11, 2001, many people in the United States have been more inclined to use the language of good and evil, and to be more comfortable with the idea that certain moral standards are objective (true independently of what anyone happens to think of them). Some people, especially those who are not religious, are not sure how to substantiate this view. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? provides a basis for exploring these doubts and ultimately defends the objectivity of (...) ethics. Engaging and accessible, it is the first introduction to meta-ethics written especially for students and general readers with no philosophical background. Focusing on the issues at the foundation of morality, it poses such questions as: How can we know what is right and wrong? Does ethical objectivity require God? Why should I be moral? Where do moral standards come from? What is a moral value, and how can it exist in a scientific world? Do cultural diversity and persistent moral disagreement support moral skepticism? Writing in a clear and lively style and employing many examples to illustrate theoretical arguments, Russ Shafer-Landau identifies the many weaknesses in contemporary moral skepticism and devotes considerable attention to presenting, and critiquing, the most difficult objections to his view. Also included in the book are a helpful summary of all the major arguments covered, as well as a glossary of key philosophical terms. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? is ideal for a variety of philosophy courses and compelling reading for anyone interested in ethics. (shrink)
Introduction -- What is personal responsibility? -- Ordinary language -- Common conceptions -- What do philosophers mean by responsibility? -- Personally responsible for what? -- What do philosophers think? part I -- Causes -- Capacity -- Control -- Choice versus brute luck -- Second-order attitudes -- Equality of opportunity -- Deservingness -- Reasonableness -- Reciprocity -- Equal shares -- Combining criteria -- What do philosophers think? part II -- Utility -- Self-respect -- Autonomy -- Human flourishing -- Natural duties and (...) special obligations -- A matter of perspectives -- Combining values -- What do politicians think? -- A brief typology -- International comparisons -- Welfare reform -- Healthcare reform -- Rights and responsibilities -- On the responsibilities of politicians -- What do ordinary people think? -- Why ask? -- Attitudes to welfare claimants -- When push comes to shove -- Perceptions and reality -- Further international comparisons -- The trouble with opinion surveys -- Four contemporary issues in focus -- Unemployment -- Health -- Drug abuse -- Personal debt and financial rewards -- So how do we decide? -- Getting the public involved -- Citizens juries -- Answering some potential criticisms. (shrink)
The relations between reason, motivation and value present problems which, though ancient, remain intractable. If values are objective and rational how can they move us and if they are dependent on our contingent desires how can they be rational? E. J. Bond makes a bold attack on this dilemma. The widespread view among philosophers today is that judgements contain an irreducible element of personal commitment. To this Professor Bond proposes an account of values as objective and value judgements as true (...) or false, employing a distinction between grounding and motivating reasons to establish their connection with action. He defines and tests his position against a number of recent theories, providing in the process forceful criticism of Williams, Wiggins, Foot, Narveson and Nagel, among others. A distinctive contribution to the subject, it will stimulate interest and worthwhile debate among philosophers, while also serving as an introduction to this vital topic. (shrink)
Non-cognitivists deny that moral judgement is belief but claim instead that it is the expression of an emotional attitude. Standardly, non-cognitivists deny that moral sentences even purport to represent moral reality and so have developed non-standard semantics for moral discourse. Mark Eli Kalderon argues for a version of non-cognitivism that eschews such controversial semantics; morality, he argues, is a fiction by means of which our emotional attitudes are conveyed. His book will be essential reading for anyone working across moral philosophy, (...) epistemology, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow (...) from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking—staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms—if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies"—might such an explanation actually undermine morality's central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject. (shrink)
Epithets and attitudes -- When truth gives out -- What the emotivists should have said -- What's the matter with relativism? -- Matters of taste -- Appendix 1 : what can be said? -- Appendix 2 : relativism and contextualism about knowledge.
Moral relativism is often regarded as both fatally flawed and incompatible with liberalism. This book aims to show why such criticism is misconceived. First, it argues that relativism provides a plausible account of moral justification. Drawing on the contemporary relatavist and universalist analyses of thinkers such as Harman, Nagel and Habermas, it develops an alternative account of coherence relativism.
There has recently been a good deal of interest in moral sentimentalism, but most of that interest has been exclusively either in metaethical questions about the meaning of moral terms or in normative issues about benevolence and/or caring and their place in morality. In Moral Sentimentalism Michael Slote attempts to deal with both sorts of issues and to do so, primarily, in terms of the notion or phenomenon of empathy. Hume sought to do something like this over two centuries ago, (...) though he didn't have the term "empathy" and used "sympathy" instead; and in effect Slote is seeking to give moral sentimentalism a "second wind" in and for contemporary circumstances. By relying systematically on empathy in its account of normative morality and in what it has to say about the meaning of moral vocabulary, Moral Sentimentalism offers a unified overall ethical picture that can then be tested against ethical rationalism. Rationalism has recently dominated the scene in ethics, but by showing how sentimentalism can make coherent and intuitive sense of such preferred rationalist notions as autonomy, respect, and justice--and by showing how a sentimentalism based in empathy can deal with ethically significant aspects of the moral life that rationalism tends to ignore or skimp on--Slote hopes a wider and more active debate between rationalism and sentimentalism can be set in motion. There are signs that sentimentalist modes of thought are gaining new footholds on the way ethics is done, and this new book is very hopeful about these possibilities. (shrink)
The essays in this volume address questions about responsibility that arise in moral philosophy and legal theory. Some analyse different theories of causality, asking which theory offers the best account of human agency and the most satisfactory resolution of troubling controversies about free will and determinism. Some essays look at responsibility in the legal realm, seeking to determine how the law should assign liability for negligence, or whether the courts should allow defendants to offer excuses for their wrongdoing or to (...) claim some form of 'diminished responsibility'. Other essays explore libertarian views about political freedom and accountability, asking whether libertarian positions on consent, contract law, and responsibility are consistent, or whether restitution is superior to retribution or deterrence as a basis for a theory of corrective justice. Still others examine the notion of partial or divided responsibility, or the relationship between responsibility and the emotions. (shrink)
Moral Realism is a systematic defence of the idea that there are objective moral standards. Russ Shafer-Landau argues that there are moral principles that are true independently of what anyone, anywhere, happens to think of them. His central thesis, as well as the many novel supporting arguments used to defend it, will spark much controversy among those concerned with the foundations of ethics.
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)
This multidisciplinary collection explores three key concepts underpinning psychiatry -- explanation, phenomenology, and nosology -- and their continuing relevance in an age of neuroimaging and genetic analysis. An introduction by Kenneth S. Kendler lays out the philosophical grounding of psychiatric practice. The first section addresses the concept of explanation, from the difficulties in describing complex behavior to the categorization of psychological and biological causality. In the second section, contributors discuss experience, including the complex and vexing issue of how self-agency and (...) free will affect mental health. The third and final section examines the organizational difficulties in psychiatric nosology and the instability of the existing diagnostic system. Each chapter has both an introduction by the editors and a concluding comment by another of the book's contributors. Contributors: John Campbell, Ph.D.; Thomas Fuchs, M.D., Ph.D.; Shaun Gallagher, Ph.D.; Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.; Sandra D. Mitchell, Ph.D.; Dominic P. Murphy, Ph.D.; Josef Parnas, M.D., Dr.Med.Sci.; Louis A. Sass, Ph.D.; Kenneth F. Schaffner, M.D., Ph.D.; James F. Woodward, Ph.D.; Peter Zachar, Ph.D. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors go on (...) to offer a sustained defense of the thesis that moral responsibility is compatible with causal determinism. (shrink)
For over thirty years, Robert Audi has produced important work in ethics, epistemology, and the theory of action. This volume features thirteen new critical essays on Audi by a distinguished group of authors: Fred Adams, William Alston, Laurence BonJour, Roger Crisp, Elizabeth Fricker, Bernard Gert, Thomas Hurka, Hugh McCann, Al Mele, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Raimo Tuomela, Candace Vogler, and Timothy Williamson. Audi's introductory essay provides a thematic overview interconnecting his views in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of action. The volume concludes with (...) his comprehensive response essay that yields an illuminating dialog with all his critics and often extends his previous work. (shrink)
In these three Tanner lectures, distinguished ethical theorist Allan Gibbard explores the nature of normative thought and the bases of ethics. In the first lecture he explores the role of intuitions in moral thinking and offers a way of thinking about the intuitive method of moral inquiry that both places this activity within the natural world and makes sense of it as an indispensable part of our lives as planners. In the second and third lectures he takes up the kind (...) of substantive ethical inquiry he has described in the first lecture, asking how we might live together on terms that none of us could reasonably reject. Since working at cross purposes loses fruits that might stem from cooperation, he argues, any consistent ethos that meets this test would be, in a crucial way, utilitarian. It would reconcile our individual aims to establish, in Kant's phrase, a "kingdom of ends." The volume also contains an introduction by Barry Stroud, the volume editor, critiques by Michael Bratman (Stanford University), John Broome (Oxford University), and F. M. Kamm (Harvard University), and Gibbard's responses. (shrink)
The scholars who defend or dispute moral relativism, the idea that a moral principle cannot be applied to people whose culture does not accept it, have concerned themselves with either the philosophical or anthropological aspects of relativism. This study, shows that in order to arrive at a definitive appraisal of moral relativism, it is necessary to understand and investigate both its anthropological and philosophical aspects. Carefully examining the arguments for and against moral relativism, Cook exposes not only that anthropologists have (...) failed in their attempt to support relativism with evidence of cultural differences, but that moral absolutists have been equally unsuccessful in their attempts to refute it. He argues that these conflicting positions are both guilty of an artificial and unrealistic view of morality and proposes a more subtle and complex account of morality. (shrink)
Explaining Value is a selection of the best of Gilbert Harman's shorter writings in moral philosophy. The thirteen essays are divided into four sections, which focus in turn on moral relativism, values and valuing, character traits and virtue ethics, and ways of explaining aspects of morality. Harman's distinctive approach to moral philosophy has provoked much interest; this volume offers a fascinating conspectus of his most important work in the area.
Metaethics, understood as a distinct branch of ethics, is often traced to G. E. Moore's 1903 classic, Principia Ethica. Whereas normative ethics is concerned to answer first-order moral questions about what is good and bad, right and wrong, metaethics is concerned to answer second-order non-moral questions about the semantics, metaphysics, and epistemology of moral thought and discourse. Moore has continued to exert a powerful influence, and the sixteen essays here (most of them specially written for the volume) represent the most (...) up-to-date work in metaethics after, and in some cases directly inspired by, the work of Moore. Contributors include Robert Audi, Stephen Barker, Paul Bloomfield, Panayot Butchvarvov, Jonathan Dancy, Stephen Darwall, Jamie Dreier, Allan Gibbard, Brad Hooker, Terry Horgan, Connie Rosati, Russ Shafer-Landau, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Michael Smith, Philip Stratton-Lake, Sigrun Svavarsdottir, Mark Timmons, and Judith Jarvis Thompson. (shrink)
This is a reissue, with new introduction, of Susan Sauvé Meyer's 1993 book, in which she presents a comprehensive examination of Aristotle's accounts of voluntariness in the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics. She makes the case that these constitute a theory of moral responsibility--albeit one with important differences from modern theories. Highlights of the discussion include a reconstruction of the dialectical argument in the Eudemian Ethics II 6-9, and a demonstration that the definitions of 'voluntary' and 'involuntary' in Nicomachean Ethics III (...) 1 are the culmination of that argument. By identifying the paradigms of voluntariness and involuntariness that Aristotle begins with and the opponents (most notably Plato) he addresses, Meyer explains notoriously puzzling features of the Nicomachean account--such as Aristotle's requirement that involuntary agents experience pain or regret. Other familiar features of Aristotle's account are cast in a new light. That we are responsible for the characters we develop turns out not to be a necessary condition of responsible agency. That voluntary action has its "origin" in the agent and that our actions are "up to us to do and not to do"--often interpreted as implying a libertarian conception of agency--turn out to be perfectly compatible with causal determinism, a point Meyer makes by locating these locutions in the context of Aristotle's general understanding of causality. While Aristotle does not himself face or address worries that determinism is incompatible with responsibility, his causal repertoire provides the resources for a powerful response to incompatibilist arguments. On this and other fronts Aristotle's is a view to be taken seriously by theorists of moral responsibility. (shrink)
Moral realism of a paradigmatic sort -- Defending the parallel -- The parity premise -- Epistemic nihilism -- Epistemic expressivism : traditional views -- Epistemic expressivism : nontraditional views -- Epistemic reductionism -- Three objections to the core argument.
According to how we treat others, we acquire merit or guilt, deserve praise or blame, and receive reward or punishment, looking in the end for atonement. In this study distinguished theological philosopher Richard Swinburne examines how these moral concepts apply to humans in their dealings with each other, and analyzes these findings, determining which versions of traditional Christian doctrines--sin and original sin, redemption, sanctification, and heaven and hell--are considered morally acceptable.
This book offers a unified collection of published and unpublished papers by Robert Audi, a renowned defender of the rationalist position in ethics. Taken together, the essays present a vigorous, broadly-based argument in moral epistemology and a related account of reasons for action and their bearing on moral justification and moral character. Part I details Audi's compelling moral epistemology while Part II offers a unique vision of ethical concepts and an account of moral explanation, as well as a powerful model (...) of moral realism. Part III extends this account of moral explanation to moral responsibility for both actions and character and to the relation between virtue and the actions that express it. Part IV elaborates a theory of reasons for action that locates them in relation to three of their traditionally major sources: desire, moral judgment, and value. Clear and illuminating, Audi's introduction outlines and interconnects the self-contained but cumulatively arranged essays. It also places them in relation to classical and contemporary literature, and directs readers to large segments of thematically connected material spread throughout the book. Audi ends with a powerfully synthetic final essay. (shrink)
This book argues that moral desert should be excluded as a consideration in normative and applied ethics, as it is likely that no-one ever morally deserves anything for their actions and, if they do, it is in most cases impossible to know what. I also explain how moral deliberation in relation to punishment, distributive justice and personal morality can proceed without appeals to moral desert.
Machine generated contents note: Preface; 1. The author and the book; 2. First principles; 3. Causation; 4. Skepticism; 5. Determinism; 6. Passions, sympathy, and others' minds; 7. Motivation: reason and the calm passions; 8. Moral sense, reason, and moral skepticism; 9. The foundations of morals; Bibliography and further reading; Index.
A collection of long, detailed interviews with philosophers and scientists who work on issues in ethics and moral psychology. The researchers interviewed include Galen Strawson, Philiip Zimbardo, Stephen Stich, Jonathan Haidt, Frans De Waal, Michael Ruse, Joshua Greene, Liane Young, Joe Henrich, and William Ian Miller.
This is a book about normativity -- where the central normative terms are words like 'ought' and 'should' and their equivalents in other languages. It has three parts: The first part is about the semantics of normative discourse: what it means to talk about what ought to be the case. The second part is about the metaphysics of normative properties and relations: what is the nature of those properties and relations (if any) whose pattern of instantiation makes propositions about what (...) ought to be the case true. The third part is about the epistemology of normative beliefs: how we could ever know, or even have rational or justified belief in, propositions about what ought to be the case. (shrink)
Can we trust our intuitive judgments of right and wrong? Are moral judgements objective? What reason do we have to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong? In Conversations on Ethics, Alex Voorhoeve elicits answers to these questions from eleven outstanding philosophers and social scientists: Ken Binmore; Philippa Foot; Harry Frankfurt; Allan Gibbard; Daniel Kahneman; Frances Kamm; Alasdair MacIntyre; T. M. Scanlon; Peter Singer; David Velleman; Bernard Williams. The exchanges are direct, open, and sharp, and give a (...) clear account of these thinkers' core ideas about ethics. They also provide unique insights into their intellectual development - how they became interested in ethics, and how they conceived the ideas for which they became famous. Conversations on Ethics will engage anyone interested in moral philosophy. (shrink)
Expressivism - the sophisticated contemporary incarnation of the noncognitivist research program of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare - is no longer the province of metaethicists alone. Its comprehensive view about the nature of both normative language and normative thought has also recently been applied to many topics elsewhere in philosophy - including logic, probability, mental and linguistic content, knowledge, epistemic modals, belief, the a priori, and even quantifiers. [...] Expressivism, the book argues, is coherent and interesting, but false.
The purpose of this book is to formulate a way of thinking about issues of power, moral identity, and ethical norms by developing a theory of responsibility from a specifically theological viewpoint; the author thereby makes clear the significance for Christian commitment of current reflection on moral responsibility. The concept of responsibility is relatively new in ethics, but the drastic extension of human power through various technological developments has lately thrown into question the way human beings conceive of themselves as (...) morally accountable agents. It is this radical extension of power in our time which poses the need for a new paradigm of responsibility in ethics. Schweiker engages in an informed way with what is therefore a highly topical discussion. By developing a coherent theory of responsibility, and inquiring as to its source, the author demonstrates the unique contribution of Christian faith to ethics in our time. (shrink)
Rescued in 1972 from a storeroom in which rats and seeping water had severely damaged the fifty-year-old manuscript, this text is the earliest major work (1919-1921) of the great Russian philosopher M. M. Bakhtin. Toward a Philosophy of the Act contains the first occurrences of themes that occupied Bakhtin throughout his long career. The topics of authoring, responsibility, self and other, the moral significance of "outsideness," participatory thinking, the implications for the individual subject of having "no-alibi in existence," the difference (...) between the world as experienced in actions and the world as represented in discourse--all are broached here in the heat of discovery. This is the "heart of the heart" of Bakhtin, the center of the dialogue between being and language, the world and mind, "the given" and "the created" that forms the core of Bakhtin's distinctive dialogism. A special feature of this work is Bakhtin's struggle with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Put very simply, this text is an attempt to go beyond Kant's formulation of the ethical imperative. Toward a Philosophy of the Act will be important for scholars across the humanities as they grapple with the increasingly vexed relationship between aesthetics and ethics. (shrink)
Moral functioning is a defining feature of human personhood and human social life. Moral Psychology provides an integrative and evaluative overview of the theoretical and empirical traditions that have attempted to make sense of moral cognition, prosocial behavior, and the development of virtuous character.This is the first book to integrate a comprehensive review of the psychological literatures with allied traditions in ethics. Moral rationality and decisionmaking; the development of the sense of fairness and justice, and of prosocial dispositions; as well (...) as the notion of moral self and moral identity and their relation to issues of character and virtue are fully discussed in the rich contexts provided by psychological and philosophical paradigms. Lapsley emphasizes parenting and educational strategies for influencing moral behavior, reasoning, and character development, and charts a line of research for the “post-Kohlbergian era” in moral psychology.This book will be an invaluable text for advanced courses in moral psychology, as taught in departments of psychology, education, and philosophy. It will also prove to be a standard reference work for researchers and ethicists alike. (shrink)
The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the eminent scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition with a substantial introduction by Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross. Ross's book is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and Stratton-Lake provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's great (...) work today. (shrink)
This volume is a revised, enlarged, and broadened version of Gert's classic 1970 book, The Moral Rules. Advocating an approach he terms "morality as impartial rationality," Gert here presents a full discussion of his moral theory, adding a wealth of new illuminating detail to his analysis of the concepts--rationality/irrationality, good/evil, and impartiality--by which he defines morality. He constructs a "moral system" that includes rules prohibiting the kinds of actions that cause evil, procedures for determining when violation of the rules is (...) permitted, and ideals which encourage actions that prevent or relieve suffering. To be valid, Gert argues, any such system must be "a public system that applies to all rational persons." The book concludes with a discussion of medical ethics, demonstrating the link between moral theory and its application to real moral problems. (shrink)
Disagreement is common: even informed, intelligent, and generally reasonable people often come to different conclusions when confronted with what seems to be the same evidence. Can the competing conclusions be reasonable? If not, what can we reasonably think about the situation? This volume examines the epistemology of disagreement. Philosophical questions about disagreement arise in various areas, notably politics, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion: but this will be the first book focusing on the general epistemic issues arising from informed (...) disagreement. Ten leading philosophers offer specially written essays which together will offer a starting-point for future work on this topic. (shrink)
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he (...) argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
This book defends a form of ethical intuitionism, according to which (i) there are objective moral truths; (ii) we know some of these truths through a kind of immediate, intellectual awareness, or "intuition"; and (iii) our knowledge of moral truths gives us reasons for action independent of our desires. The author rebuts all the major objections to this theory and shows that the alternative theories about the nature of ethics all face grave difficulties.
Just as there are rational requirements on thought, there are rational requirements on action. This book defends a conception of ethics, and a related conception of human nature, according to which altruism is included among the basic rational requirements on desire and action. Altruism itself depends on the recognition of the reality of other persons, and on the equivalent capacity to regard oneself as merely one individual among many.
The foundation for a system of morals, this 1749 work is a landmark of moral and political thought. Its highly original theories of conscience, moral judgment, and virtue offer a reconstruction of the Enlightenment concept of social science, embracing both political economy and theories of law and government.
In this book, Allen Wood investigates Kant's conception of ethical theory, using it to develop a viable approach to the rights and moral duties of human beings. By remaining closer to Kant's own view of the aims of ethics, Wood's understanding of Kantian ethics differs from the received "constructivist" interpretation, especially on such matters as the ground and function of ethical principles, the nature of ethical reasoning and autonomy as the ground of ethics.
Is unethical conduct necessarily irrational? Answering this question requires giving an account of practical reason, of practical good, and of the source or point of wrongdoing. By the time most contemporary philosophers have done the first two, they have lost sight of the third, chalking up bad action to rashness, weakness of will, or ignorance. In this book, Candace Vogler does all three, taking as her guides scholars who contemplated why some people perform evil deeds. In doing so, she sets (...) out to at once engage and redirect contemporary debates about ethics, practical reason, and normativity. -/- Staged as a limited defense of a standard view of practical reason (an ancestor of contemporary instrumentalist views), Vogler's essay develops Aquinas's remark about three ways an action might be desirable into an exhaustive system for categorizing reasons for acting. Drawing on Elizabeth Anscombe's pioneering work on intention, Vogler argues that one sort (means/end or calculative reasons for acting) sets the terms for all sound work on practical rationality. -/- She takes up Aquinas's work on evil throughout, arguing that he provides us with a systematic theory of immorality that takes seriously the goods at issue in wrongdoing and the reasons for unethical conduct. Vogler argues that, shorn of its theological context, this theory leaves us with no systematic, uncontroversial way of arguing that wrongdoing is necessarily contrary to reason. (shrink)
Introduction -- Ethics and politics -- Ethical judgments -- Pleasure and desire -- Free will -- Ethical principles and methods -- Egoism and self-love -- Chapter viii-intuitionism -- Good -- Book II: Egoism -- The principle and method of egoism -- Empirical hedonism -- Empirical hedonism (continued) -- Objective hedonism and common sense -- Happiness and duty -- Deductive hedonism -- Book III: Intuitionism -- Intuitionism -- Virtue and duty -- The intellectual virtues -- Benevolence -- Justice -- Laws and (...) promises -- Classification of duties. truth -- Other social duties and virtues -- Self-regarding virtues -- Courage, humility, etc. -- Review of the morality of common sense -- Motives or springs of action as subjects of moral judgment -- Philosophical intuitionism -- Ultimate good -- Book IV: Utilitarianism -- The meaning of utilitarianism -- The proof of utilitarianism -- The relation of utilitarianism to the morality of common sense -- The method of utilitarianism -- The method of utilitarianism (continued) -- Concluding chapter: The mutual relations of the three methods. (shrink)