Formal representations of values and norms are employed in several academic disciplines and specialties, such as economics, jurisprudence, decision theory, and social choice theory. Sven Ove Hansson closely examines such foundational issues as the values of wholes and the values of their parts, the connections between values and norms, how values can be decision-guiding and the structure of normative codes with formal precision. Models of change in both preferences and norms are offered, as well as a new method to base (...) the logic of norms on that of preferences. Hansson has developed a unified formal representation of values and norms that reflects both their static and their dynamic properties. This formalized treatment, carried out in terms of both informal value theory and precise logical detail, will contribute to the clarification of certain issues in the basic philosophical theory of values and norms. (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)
Introduction -- Waking up -- Getting ready -- Travelling to work -- Being at work -- Going to the doctor -- Having lunch with your parents -- Bunking off -- Shopping -- Booking a holiday -- Going to the gym -- Taking a bath -- Reading a book -- Watching TV -- Cooking and eating dinner -- Going to a party -- Arguing with your partner -- Having sex -- Falling asleep and dreaming.
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)
In our lives, we aim to achieve welfare for ourselves, that is, to live good lives. But we also have another, more impartial perspective, where we aim to balance our concern for our own welfare against a concern for the welfare of others. This is a perspective of justice. Nils Holtug examines these two perspectives and the relations between them. -/- The first part of the book is concerned with prudence; more precisely, with what the necessary and sufficient conditions are (...) for having a self-interest in a particular benefit. It includes discussions of the extent to which self-interest depends on preferences, personal identity, and what matters in survival. It also considers the issue of whether it can benefit (or harm) a person to come into existence and what the implications are for our theory of self-interest. A 'prudential view' is defended, according to which a person has a present self-interest in a future benefit if and only if she stands in a relation of continuous physical realization of (appropriate) psychology to the beneficiary, where the strength of the self-interest depends both on the size of the benefit and on the strength of this relation. -/- The second part of the book concerns distributive justice and so how to distribute welfare or self-interest fulfilment over individuals. It includes discussions of welfarism, egalitarianism and prioritarianism, population ethics, the importance of personal identity and what matters for distributive justice, and the importance of all these issues for various topics in applied ethics, including the badness of death. Here, a version of prioritarianism is defended, according to which, roughly, the moral value of a benefit to an individual at a time depends on both the size of the benefit and on the individual's self-interest, at that time, in the other benefits that accrue to her at this and other times. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: The meaning of life -- Richard Taylor, The meaning of life -- Thomas Nagel, The absurd -- Richard Hare, Nothing matters -- W.D. Joske, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- Robert Nozick, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- David Schmidtz, The meanings of life -- Part II: Creating people -- Derek Parfit, Whether causing someone to exist can benefit this person -- John Leslie, Why not let life ecome extinct? -- James Lenman, On becoming (...) extinct -- David Benatar, Why it is better never to come into existence -- Part III: Death -- Stephen E. Rosenbaum, How to be dead and not care : a defense of epicurus -- GeorgePpitcher, The misfortunes of the dead -- Steven Luper, Annihilation -- Fred Fldman, Some puzzles about the evil of death -- Frederick Kaufman, Pre-vital and post-mortem non-existence -- David B. Suits, Why death is not bad for the one who died -- Part IV: Suicide -- David Hume, Of suicide -- Immanuel Kant, Suicide and duty -- David Benatar, Suicide : a qualified defence -- Part V: Immortality -- James Lenman, Immortality : a letter -- Bernard Williams, The Makropulos case : reflections on the tedium of immortality -- John Martin Fischer, Why immortality is not so bad -- Christine Overall, from here to eternity : is it good to live forever? -- Part VI: Optimism and pessimism -- Margaret A. Boden, Optimism -- Michaelis Michael and Peter Caldwell, The consolations of optimism -- Bruce N. Waller, The sad truth : optimism, pessimism, and pragmatism -- Arthur Schopenhauer, On the suffering of the world. (shrink)
What is happiness? How is it related to morality and virtue? Does living with illusion promote or diminish happiness? Is it better to pursue happiness with a partner than alone? Philosopher Mike W. Martin addresses these and other questions as he connects the meaning of happiness with the philosophical notion of "the good life." Defining happiness as loving one's life and valuing it in ways manifested by ample enjoyment and a deep sense of meaning, Martin explores the ways in which (...) happiness interacts with all other dimensions of good lives--in particular with moral decency and goodness, authenticity, mental health, self-fulfillment, and meaningfulness. He interweaves a variety of examples from memoirs, novels, and films along the way, connecting his discussion of the philosophical issues to related topics that interest all of us: virtue, love, philanthropy, suffering, simplicity, balancing work and leisure, and much more. Drawing on wide-ranging and robust evidence, Martin also makes the case that we need a "politics of happiness" whereby government would apply the results of recent "happiness studies" in psychology to public policy. (shrink)
David Lyons is one of the preeminent philosophers of law active in the United States. This volume comprises essays written over a period of twenty years in which Professor Lyons outlines his fundamental views about the nature of law and its relation to morality and justice. The underlying theme of the book is that a system of law has only a tenuous connection with morality and justice. Contrary to those legal theorists who maintain that no matter how bad the law (...) of a community might be, strict conformity to existing law automatically dispenses "formal" justice, Professor Lyons contends that the law must earn the respect that it demands. Moreover, we cannot, as some would suggest, interpret law in a value-neutral manner. Rather courts should interpret statutes, judicial precedents, and constitutional provisions in terms of values that would justify those laws. In this way officials can promote the justifiability of what they do to people in the name of law, and can help the law live up to its moral pretensions. (shrink)
Alan Millar examines our understanding of why people think and act as they do. His key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework in terms of which we seek to understand each other. Millar defends a conception according to which normativity is linked to reasons. On this basis he examines the structure of certain normative commitments incurred by having propositional attitudes. Controversially, he argues that ascriptions of beliefs and intentions in and of themselves attribute (...) normative commitments and that this has implications for the psychology of believing and intending. Indeed, all propositional attitudes of the sort we ascribe to people have a normative dimension, since possessing the concepts that the attitudes implicate is of its very nature commitment-incurring. The ramifications of these views for our understanding of people is explored. Millar offers illuminating discussions of reasons for belief and reasons for action; the explanation of beliefs and actions in terms of the subject's reasons; the idea that simulation has a key role in understanding people; and the limits of explanation in terms of propositional attitudes. He compares and contrasts the commitments incurred by propositional attitudes with those incurred by participating in practices, arguing that the former should not be assimilated to the latter. Understanding People will be of great interest to most philosophers of mind, as well as to those working on practical and theoretical reasoning. (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? It is a question that has intrigued the great philosophers--and has been hilariously lampooned by Monty Python. Indeed, the whole idea strikes many of us as vaguely pompous, a little absurd. Is there one profound and mysterious meaning to life, a single ultimate purpose behind human existence? In What's It All About?, Julian Baggini says no, there is no single meaning. Instead, Baggini argues meaning can be found in a variety of ways, in this (...) life. He succinctly breaks down six answers people commonly suggest when considering what life is all about--helping others, serving humanity, being happy, becoming successful, enjoying each day as if it were your last, and "freeing your mind." By reducing the vague, mysterious question of meaning to a series of more specific (if thoroughly unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting. If the meaning of life is not a mystery, if leading meaningful lives is within the power of us all, then we can look around us and see the many ways in which life can have purpose. We can see the value of happiness while accepting it is not everything. We can see the value of success, without interpreting that too narrowly. We can see the value of seizing the day as well as helping others lead meaningful lives. We can recognize the value of love, as perhaps the most powerful motivator of all. Illustrating his argument with the thoughts of many of the great philosophers and examples drawn from everyday life, Baggini convincingly shows that the search for meaning is personal and within the power of each of us to find. (shrink)
This engaging, interactive and pedagogical introduction to ethics combines the best features of a textbook and an anthology. The Moral Domain: Guided Readings in Philosophical and Literary Texts contains numerous readings from key philosophical writings in ethics along with captivating literary selections that bring the ethical issues to life. Offering extensive excerpts from major figures in the history of Western ethics--Aquinas, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill and Plato--the book also integrates work from non-Western perspectives, including selections from the Bhagavad Gita, (...) Confucian views and Hsun-Tzu. It also represents women's voices with readings by Julia Annas, Sarah Broadie, Carol Gilligan, Martha Nussbaum and others. Literary selections--including work from the Bible, Camus, Dostoevsky, Golding, Sophocles, Tolstoy, Twain and Wharton--enable students to grasp deep ethical concepts at an intuitive level. The Moral Domain features a unique built-in study guide that helps students to better comprehend and interact with the material. It introduces each selection with orienting questions and then intersperses explanations, commentary and study questions (designed to test comprehension and provoke reflection) throughout the readings. Each chapter includes a "Further Discussion and Applications" section that demonstrates how ethical theory affects such contemporary moral debates and problems as abortion, euthanasia, feminism, hunger, warfare and more. An exemplary text for introduction to ethics and moral philosophy courses, The Moral Domain provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to all facets of ethics; its foundations, history, debates and current real-life controversies. (shrink)
This fresh and engaging work by noted philosopher Joel Kupperman centers on "value"--in the sense of what is worth having or worthy being in life. Kupperman looks first at how judgments of values manifest themselves, whether there can be evidence for them, and whether a realistic account is appropriate. Kupperman then goes on to examine the relations between judgments of value and those of what it is best to do, and whether value has any proper role in social policy. Kupperman (...) rejects the notion that there is any one primary value, and argues instead for a pluralistic understanding of value. He contends that value must be viewed as strongly contextual; the value of a particular set of experiences in one's life can depend heavily on how they fit in or provide contrast with other elements. (shrink)
David Brink presents a study of T. H. Green's Prolegomena to Ethics (1883), a classic of British idealism. Green develops a perfectionist ethical theory that brings together the best elements in the ancient and modern traditions and that provides the moral foundations for Green's own influential brand of liberalism. Brink's book situates the Prolegomena in its intellectual context, examines its main themes, and explains Green's enduring significance for the history of ethics and contemporary ethical theory.
Philosophy of religion in the Anglo-American tradition experienced a 'rebirth' following the 1955 publication of New Essays in Philosophical Theology (eds. Antony Flew and Alisdair MacIntyre). Fifty years later, this volume of New Essays offers a sampling of the best work in what is now a very active field, written by some of its most prominent members. A substantial introduction sketches the developments of the last half-century, while also describing the 'ethics of belief' debate in epistemology and showing how it (...) connects to explicitly religious concerns and to the topics of the individual contributions. The book is a Festschrift for Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, edited by two of his former students. (shrink)
Where can I find answers? -- Is life sacred? -- Is it bad to die? -- Which deaths are worse? -- Might I live on? -- Should I take the elixir of life? -- Who's who? -- Is it all meaningless? -- Should there be more, and better, people? -- Does reality matter?
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, eds., (...) The good, the right, life and death (Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing, 2006) -- "Why immortality is not so bad," International journal of philosophical studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (September 1994) -- John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl, "Philosophical models of immortality in science fiction," in George Slusser et. al., eds., Immortal engines : life extension and immortality in science fiction and fantasy (Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Press, 1996) -- "Epicureanism about death and immortality," Journal of ethics, vol. 10, no. 4 -- "Stories," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 20 -- "Free will, death, and immortality : the role of narrative," Philosophical papers (Special issue : meaning in life) volume 34, number 3, November 2005 -- "Stories and the meaning of life," revised and expanded version of "A reply to Pereboom, Zimmerman, and Smith," part of a book symposium on John Martin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
"Well-being," "welfare," "utility," and "quality of life," all closely related concepts, are at the center of morality, politics, law, and economics. Griffin's book, while primarily a volume of moral philosophy, is relevant to all of these subjects. Griffin offers answers to three central questions about well-being: what is the best way to understand it, can it be measured, and where should it fit in moral and political thought. With its breadth of investigation and depth of insight, this work holds significance (...) for philosophers as well as for those interested in political and economic theory and jurisprudence. (shrink)
Drawing on ideas presented in the Bible, Jewish teachings, and his experience as a psychotherapist, Lerner examines the roots of the vague discontent felt by so many Americans about our political system and explains how values can be put back into these broken politics.
"Healing the past helps restructure the present, which then becomes the hope for the future." As we approach a new millennium, many of us are fearing for the future while hungering for a vision of our place in a sacred whole. The immense changes of the last hundred years have severed our sense of connection to a spiritual lineage that gave past generations the strength to meet life's challenges and bequeath wisdom to their descendants. In this inspirational yet down-to-earth book, (...) renowned healer and lecturer Denise Linn draws on her own story, as well as her Native American heritage and other ancient cultures, to guide you through acts of personal power that can reopen the wellspring of ancestral wisdom within you. By finding your roots and honoring your forebears--biological or adoptive, ethnic, cultural, mythological, and spiritual--you take your place as both a descendant and an ancestor. Defining who your ancestors are is a journey of self-discovery. Discovering who you are helps you break free from negative family patterns, embrace the positive, and create your own unique traditions. By fashioning a spiritual legacy through loving acts, you create energy to empower your future descendants. This fascinating guide teaches you to - Get in touch with the strength and spirit of your ancestors - Explore your personal myth - Restructure your past - Heal the family tree - Speak to your descendants through the art of giving - Revive rituals and create traditions for the twenty-first century With real-life stories and practical, easy-to-use exercises and meditations, Sacred Legacies shows how the choices we make in our own lives--however small--can forge a link with the future and help create a powerful new reality for all humanity and the planet. (shrink)
Have evolution, science and the trappings of the modern world killed off God irrevocably? And what do we lose if we choose not to believe in him? From Newton and Descartes to Darwin and the discovery of the genome, religion has been pushed back further and further while science has gained ground. But what fills the void that religion leaves behind? This book is an attempt to look at these questions and to suggest a third way between the easy consolations (...) of religion and the persuasive force of science that the everyday modern reader can engage with. (shrink)
The last few years have seen a remarkable revival of interest in the virtues, which have regained their central role in moral philosophy. This thought-provoking new collection is a much-needed survey of virtue ethics and virtue theory. The specially commissioned articles by an international team of philosophers represent the state of the art in this subject and will set the agenda for future work in the area. The contributors--including Lawrence Blum, John Cottingham, Julia Driver, Rosalind Hursthouse, Terence Irwin, Susan Moller (...) Okin, Onora O'Neill, Michael Slote, Michael Stocker, and David Wiggins--cover practical virtue ethics, ancient views of the virtues, impartiality and partiality, Kant, utilitarianism, human nature, natural and artificial virtues, virtue and the good life, the vices, emotions, politics, feminism, moral education, and community. (shrink)
The Long Life invites the reader to range widely from the writings of Plato through to recent philosophical work by Derek Parfit, Bernard Williams, and others, and from Shakespeare's King Lear through works by Thomas Mann, Balzac, Dickens, Beckett, Stevie Smith, Philip Larkin, to more recent writing by Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and J. M. Coetzee. -/- Helen Small argues that if we want to understand old age, we have to think more fundamentally about what it means to be a (...) person, to have a life, to have (or lead) a good life, to be part of a just society. What did Plato mean when he suggested that old age was the best place from which to practice philosophy - or Thomas Mann when he defined old age as the best time to be a writer - and were they right? If we think, as Aristotle did, that a good life requires the active pursuit of virtue, how will our view of later life be affected? If we think that lives and persons are unified, much as stories are said to be unified, how will our thinking about old age differ from that of someone who thinks that lives and/or persons can be strongly discontinuous? In a just society, what constitutes a fair distribution of limited resources between the young and the old? How, if at all, should recent developments in the theory of evolutionary senescence alter our thinking about what it means to grow old? -/- This is a groundbreaking book, deep as well as broad, and likely to alter the way in which we talk about one of the great social concerns of our time - the growing numbers of those living to be old, and the growing proportion of the old to the young. (shrink)
Table of Contents: Politics, morality, and pluralism -- Liberal morality and political legitimacy -- Political legitimacy and social justice -- Williams's concept of the political -- Legitimacy, stability, and morality -- The politics of morality -- A moral point of view -- Manners and morality -- Morality and conflict -- Moral conflict and political theory -- The morality of politics -- Feminism and multiculturalism -- A defense of culture -- Politics and normative conflict -- The political as moral viewpoint -- (...) Morality and politics: a review -- Political unity and pluralism -- The liberal archipelago -- Loose linkage and political legitimacy -- Political unity and the body politic -- Social justice and political unity -- The bonds of civility -- Nationhood and the liberal polity -- The nature of nationhood -- Pluralism and nationalism -- Nationalism and social justice -- Deliberative democracy and the liberal polity -- Liberalism and democracy -- Democracy and deliberative discourse -- The terms of deliberative discourse -- Normative discourse and political legitimacy -- Deliberative democracy and intragroup politics -- Group autonomy and intergroup discourse -- Politics, history, and reason -- Principle and justice in the liberal polity -- Liberal institutions and liberal ideals -- Stopping history -- Rationalism and politics. (shrink)