In these essays, John Skorupski develops a distinctive and systematic moral philosophy. He examines the central ethical concepts of reasons, the good, and morality, and applies the results to issues of culture and politics. Ethical Explorations firmly connects liberal politics to its ethical ideal, and links that ideal to modern morality and modern ideas of the good.
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 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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
We all have moral beliefs. What if we are unsure about what to believe about a serious moral issue, or if one belief conflicts with another that we hold with equal conviction? When such conflicts and doubts occur, we try to make our beliefs cohere, and are forced to engage in a moral inquiry. Michael R. DePaul argues that we have to make our beliefs cohere, but that the current coherence methods are seriously flawed. Methods such as that which (...) John Rawls has proposed are intellectualist and mechanical. DePaul argues that it is not just arguments that need to be considered in moral inquiry. The ability to make sensitive moral judgements is vital to any philosophical inquiry into morality. The inquirer must consider how life experiences and experiences with literature, film, theater, music and art have influenced the capacity to make moral judgments, and attempt to insure that this capacity is neither naive nor corrupted. Balance and Refinement is the only book to focus primarily on epistemological and methodological questions in moral realism. The author raises issues of moral conversions, the possibility of naivete and corruption, and the significant role of life experience and experiences with the arts in moral inquiry. He also discusses the role of literature in moral inquiry. This title will make a valuable contribution to epistemology, ethics, and moral theory. (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)
An ethic for wrongdoers -- Repaying moral debts : self-punishment and restitution -- Changing one's heart, changing the past : repentance and moral transformation -- Reforming relationships : the reconciliation theory of atonement -- Forgiveness, self-forgiveness, and redemption -- Making amends for crime : an evaluation of restorative justice -- Collective atonement : making amends to the Magdalen penitents.
Hume and the problem of theory and practice in philosophy and political theory -- Hume's naturalism and skepticism in the treatise and his appeal from theory to practice -- The systematic theory of theory of the treatise of human nature -- The behaviorist theory of practice of the treatise -- The practical philosophies of skepticism and commercial humanism -- The common sense theory of theory of the enquiries, essays, and history of England -- The common sense theory of practice of (...) the later works -- Hume, theory, and practice today. (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.
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)
Javier Muguerza’s Ethics and Perplexity makes a highly original contribution to the debate over dialogical reason. The work opens with a letter that establishes a parallel between Ethics and Perplexity and Maimonides’s classic Guide of the Perplexed. It concludes with an interview that repeatedly strikes sparks on Spanish philosophy’s emergence from its “long quarantine,” as Muguerza puts it. These informal pieces—witty, informative, conversational—orbit the nucleus of the work: a formidable critique of dialogical reason. The result is a volume by turns (...) vivid and profound. (shrink)
This is a book on morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, I defend a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons.
All contentious moral issues--from gay marriage to abortion and affirmative action--raise difficult questions about the justification of moral beliefs. How can we be justified in holding on to our own moral beliefs while recognizing that other intelligent people feel quite differently and that many moral beliefs are distorted by self-interest and by corrupt cultures? Even when almost everyone agrees--e.g. that experimental surgery without consent is immoral--can we know that such beliefs are true? If so, how? These profound questions lead to (...) fundamental issues about the nature of morality, language, metaphysics, justification, and knowledge. They also have tremendous practical importance in handling controversial moral questions in health care ethics, politics, law, and education. Sinnott-Armstrong here provides an extensive overview of these difficult subjects, looking at a wide variety of questions, including: Are any moral beliefs true? Are any justified? What is justified belief? The second half of the book explores various moral theories that have grappled with these issues, such as naturalism, normativism, intuitionism, and coherentism, all of which are attempts to answer moral skepticism. Sinnott-Armstrong argues that all these approaches fail to rule out moral nihilism--the view that nothing is really morally wrong or right, bad or good. Then he develops his own novel theory,--"moderate Pyrrhonian moral skepticism"--which concludes that some moral beliefs can be justified out of a modest contrast class but no moral beliefs can be justified out of an extreme contrast class. While explaining this original position and criticizing alternatives, Sinnott-Armstrong provides a wide-ranging survey of the epistemology of moral beliefs. (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.
We are often uncertain how to behave morally in complex situations. In this controversial study, Ted Lockhart contends that moral philosophy has failed to address how we make such moral decisions. Adapting decision theory to the task of decision-making under moral uncertainly, he proposes that we should not always act how we feel we ought to act, and that sometimes we should act against what we feel to be morally right. Lockhart also discusses abortion extensively and proposes new ways to (...) deal with the ethical and moral issues which surround it. (shrink)
These thirteen original essays, whose authors include some of the world's leading philosophers, examine themes from the work of the Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore (1873-1958), and demonstrate his considerable continuing influence on philosophical debate. Part I bears on epistemological topics, such as skepticism about the external world, the significance of common sense, and theories of perception. Part II is devoted to themes in ethics, such as Moore's open question argument, his non-naturalism, utilitarianism, and his notion of organic unities.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
This is a selection of essays on moral responsibility that represent the major components of John Martin Fischer's overall approach to freedom of the will and moral responsibility. The collection exhibits the overall structure of Fischer's view and shows how the various elements fit together to form a comprehensive framework for analyzing free will and moral responsibility. The topics include deliberation and practical reasoning, freedom of the will, freedom of action, various notions of control, and moral accountability. The essays seek (...) to provide a foundation for our practices of holding each other (and ourselves) morally and legally accountable for our behavior. A crucial move is the distinction between two kinds of control. According to Fischer, "regulative control" involves freedom to choose and do otherwise ("alternative possibilities"), whereas "guidance control" does not. Fischer contends that guidance control is all the freedom we need to be morally responsible agents. Further, he contends that such control is fully compatible with causal determinism. Additionally, Fischer argues that we do not need genuine access to alternative possibilities in order for there to be a legitimate point to practical reasoning. Fischer's overall framework contains an argument for the contention that guidance control, and not regulative control, is associated with moral responsibility, a sketch of a comprehensive theory of moral responsibility (that ties together responsibility for actions, omissions, consequences, and character), and an account of the value of moral responsibility. On this account, the value of exhibiting freedom (of the relevant sort) and thus being morally responsible for one's behavior is a species of the value of artistic self-expression. (shrink)
This book is aimed primarily at the practitioners of morals such as psychiatrists,lawyers and policy-makers. My professional background is clinical psychiatry It is divided into three parts. The first of these provides an overview of moral theory, morality in non-human species and recent developments in neuroscience that are of relevance to moral and legal responsibility. In the second part I offer a new paradigm of free action based on the overlaps between free will, moral value and art. In the overlap (...) between free will and moral value we find moral responsibility and moral autonomy. Free will and art share characteristics of originality, spontaneity and creativity. Art and moral value are related by way of the moral content of art and the formal similarities of moral and aesthetic judgments. In the overlap between art, free will and moral value we find religious belief, the creation of moral value and the creation of moral identity. In the third part, I discuss the application of these ideas to common clinical conditions such as eating disorders, addictions, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and the dissociative disorders. Wherever possible, I illustrate the points that are made with real-life clinical examples. I finish by considering how ideas of free will and responsibility are relevant to psychotherapy. (shrink)