Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle is a collection of essays composed by students and friends of Thomas L. Pangle to honor his seminal work and outstanding guidance in the study of political philosophy. These essays examine both Socrates' and modern political philosophers' attempts to answer the question of the right life for human beings, as those attempts are introduced and elaborated in the work of thinkers from Homer and Thucydides to Nietzsche and Charles Taylor.
Most people believe that there are limits to the sacrifices that morality can demand. Although it would often be meritorious, we are not, in fact, morally required to do all that we can to promote overall good. What's more, most people also believe that certain types of acts are simply forbidden, morally off limits, even when necessary for promoting the overall good. In this provocative analysis Kagan maintains that despite the intuitive appeal of these views, they cannot be adequately (...) defended. In criticizing arguments for limited moral requirements as well as those for unconditionally prohibited acts, Kagan offers a sustained attack on two of the most basic features of ordinary common sense morality. (shrink)
There is one thing we can be sure of: we are all going to die. But once we accept that fact, the questions begin. In this thought-provoking book, philosophy professor Shelly Kagan examines the myriad questions that arise when we confront the meaning of mortality. Do we have reason to believe in the existence of immortal souls? Or should we accept an account according to which people are just material objects, nothing more? Can we make sense of the idea (...) of surviving the death of one’s body? If I won’t exist after I die, can death truly be _bad_ for me? Would immortality be desirable? Is fear of death appropriate? Is suicide ever justified? How should I _live_ in the face of death? Written in an informal and conversational style, this stimulating and provocative book challenges many widely held views about death, as it invites the reader to take a fresh look at one of the central features of the human condition—the fact that we will die. (shrink)
Shelly Kagan argues for a hierarchical position in animal ethics where people count more than animals do, and some animals count more than others. In arguing for his account of morality, Kagan sets out what needs to be done to establish our obligations toward animals and to fulfil our duties to them.
What are the limits of well-being? This question nicely captures one of the central debates concerning the nature of the individual human good. For rival theories differ as to what sort of facts directly constitute a person's being well-off. On some views, well-being is limited to the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. But other views push the boundaries of well-being beyond this, so that it encompasses a variety of mental states, not merely pleasure alone. Some theories then (...) draw the line here, limiting well-being to the presence of the appropriately broadened set of mental states. But still others extend the limits of well-being even further, so that it is constituted in part by facts that are not themselves mental states at all; on such views, well-being is partly constituted by states of affairs that are “external” to the individual's experiences. In this essay, I want to explore some of this debate by focusing on a particular stretch of the dialectic. That is, I want to think hard about a particular connected series of arguments and counterarguments. These arguments – or, at least, the concerns they seek to express – emerge naturally in the give and take of philosophical discussion. Together they make up a rather simple story, whose plot, in very rough terms, is this: first there is an attempt to push the limits of well-being outward, moving from a narrow to a broader conception; then comes the claim that the resulting notion is too broad, and so we must retreat to a narrower conception after all. (shrink)
According to the dominant philosophical tradition, intrinsic value must depend solely upon intrinsic properties. By appealing to various examples, however, I argue that we should at least leave open the possibility that in some cases intrinsic value may be based in part on relational properties. Indeed, I argue that we should even be open to the possibility that an object''s intrinsic value may sometimes depend (in part) on its instrumental value. If this is right, of course, then the traditional contrast (...) between intrinsic value and instrumental value is mistaken. (shrink)
Peter Singer famously argued in Animal Liberation that almost all of us are speciesists, unjustifiably favoring the interests of humans over the similar interests of other animals. Although I long found that charge compelling, I now find myself having doubts. This article starts by trying to get clear about the nature of speciesism, and then argues that Singer's attempt to show that speciesism is a mere prejudice is unsuccessful. I also argue that most of us are not actually speciesists at (...) all, but rather accept a view I call modal personism. Although I am not confident that modal personism can be adequately defended, it is, at the very least, a philosophical view worthy of further consideration. (shrink)
Moral desert -- Fault forfeits first -- Desert graphs -- Skylines -- Other shapes -- Placing peaks -- The ratio view -- Similar offense -- Graphing comparative desert -- Variation -- Groups -- Desert taken as a whole -- Reservations.
According to the dominant philosophical tradition, intrinsic value must depend solely upon intrinsic properties. By appealing to various examples, however, I argue that we should at least leave open the possibility that in some cases intrinsic value may be based in part on relational properties. Indeed, I argue that we should even be open to the possibility that an object's intrinsic value may sometimes depend on its instrumental value. If this is right, of course, then the traditional contrast between intrinsic (...) value and instrumental value is mistaken. (shrink)
Typically, discussions of well-being focus almost exclusively on the positive aspects of well-being, those elements which directly contribute to a life going well, or better. It is generally assumed, without comment, that there is no need to explicitly discuss ill-being as well—that is, the part of the theory of well-being that specifies the elements which directly contribute to a life going badly, or less well—since (or so it is thought) this raises no special difficulties or problems. But this common assumption (...) is a mistake, since it is far from obvious how to extend even familiar theories of well-being so as to explicitly cover ill-being as well. This paper acts as an introduction to ill-being, noting some of the interesting and overlooked problems ill-being raises for qualitative hedonism, preference theory, and objective list theories. Particular attention is paid, by way of illustration, to the claim that knowledge is an objective good. Assuming this is so, what exactly is the opposite of knowledge, the objective bad which lowers one’s well-being in the same way that knowledge raises it? (shrink)
Many proposed moral principles are such that it would be difficult or impossible to always correctly identify which act is required by that principle in a given situation. To deal with this problem, theorists typically offer various methods of determining what to do in the face of epistemic limitations, and we are then told that the right thing to do – given these limitations – is to perform the act identified by the given method. But since the method and the (...) underlying principle can diverge, it would seem that in such cases we are being given contradictory advice: some particular act will be both right and not right. Various attempts to resolve this apparent paradox are surveyed, but none are completely satisfactory. (shrink)
Anyone who reflects on the way we go about arguing for or against moral claims is likely to be struck by the central importance we give to thinking about cases. Intuitive reactions to cases—real or imagined—are carefully noted, and then appealed to as providing reason to accept various claims. When trying on a general moral theory for size, for example, we typically get a feel for its overall plausibility by considering its implications in a range of cases. Similarly, when we (...) try to refine the statement of a principle meant to cover a fairly specific part of morality, we guide ourselves by testing the various possible revisions against a carefully constructed set of cases. And when arguing against a claim, we take ourselves to have shown something significant if we can find an intuitively compelling counterexample, and such counterexamples almost always take the form of a description of one or another case where the implications of the claim in question seem implausible. Even when we find ourselves faced with a case where we have no immediate and clear reaction, or where we have such a reaction, but others don't share it and we need to persuade them, in what is probably the most common way of trying to make progress we consider various analogies and disanalogies; that is to say, we appeal to still other cases, and by seeing what we want to say there, we discover what it is plausible to say in the original case. In these and other ways, then, the appeal to cases plays a central and ubiquitous role in our moral thinking. (shrink)
Shelly Kagan argues in his ‘What's Wrong with Speciesism?’ for four provocative claims: 1. speciesism is not necessarily a mere prejudice; 2. most people are not speciesists; 3. ‘modal personism’ more closely reflects what most people believe, and 4. modal personism might be true. In this article, I object to Kagan's account of what constitutes a ‘mere prejudice’, and I object to the sort of argument he uses to show that most people are not speciesist. I then attempt (...) to motivate, and defend what I take to be the best version of modal personism; answer several problems for the view; and raise other problems that I think are harder to answer. (shrink)
Benefit/cost analysis is a technique for evaluating programs, procedures, and actions; it is not a moral theory. There is significant controversy over the moral justification of benefit/cost analysis. When a procedure for evaluating social policy is challenged on moral grounds, defenders frequently seek a justification by construing the procedure as the practical embodiment of a correct moral theory. This has the apparent advantage of avoiding difficult empirical questions concerning such matters as the consequences of using the procedure. So, for example, (...) defenders of benefit/cost analysis are frequently tempted to argue that this procedure just is the calculation of moral Tightness – perhaps that what it means for an action to be morally right is just for it to have the best benefit-to-cost ratio given the accounts of “benefit” and “cost” that BCA employs. They suggest, in defense of BCA, that they have found the moral calculus – Bentham's “unabashed arithmetic of morals.” To defend BCA in this manner is to commit oneself to one member of a family of moral theories and, also, to the view that if a procedure is the direct implementation of a correct moral theory, then it is a justified procedure. Neither of these commitments is desirable, and so the temptation to justify BCA by direct appeal to a B/C moral theory should be resisted; it constitutes an unwarranted short cut to moral foundations – in this case, an unsound foundation. Critics of BCA are quick to point out the flaws of B/C moral theories, and to conclude that these undermine the justification of BCA. But the failure to justify BCA by a direct appeal to B/C moral theory does not show that the technique is unjustified. There is hope for BCA, even if it does not lie with B/C moral theory. (shrink)
This article summarizes the main themes in the book What is Emotion? by Jerome Kagan (Yale University Press, 2007). The issues considered include: (1) the advantage of studying each phase of the cascade that begins with a brain reaction to an incentive and ends with an appraisal of a feeling state and/or a behavioral reaction; (2) distinguishing among appraisals with different origins; (3) replacing the current concern with consequences with more attention to the features of the brain and feeling (...) states; (4) a recognition of the weak relation between the language used to describe a feeling and both the underlying brain profile and a response; and (5) the reasons for variation in the feelings evoked by an incentive and for the appraisals of the feelings. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to present the theoretical and philosophical assumptions of the Nursing Manifesto , written by three activist scholars whose objective was to promote emancipatory nursing research, practice, and education within the dialogue and praxis of social justice. Inspired by discussions with a number of nurse philosophers at the 2008 Knowledge Conference in Boston, two of the original Manifesto authors and two colleagues discussed the need to explicate emancipatory knowing as it emerged from the Manifesto . (...) Our analysis yielded an epistemological framework based on liberation principles to advance praxis in the discipline of nursing. This paper adds to what is already known on this topic, as there is not an explicit contribution to the literature of this specific Manifesto , its significance, and utility for the discipline. While each of us have written on emancipatory knowing and social justice in a variety of works, it is in this article that we identify, as a unit of knowledge production and as a direction towards praxis, a set of critical values that arose from the emancipatory conscience-ness and intention seen in the framework of the Nursing Manifesto. (shrink)
The coupling-constitution fallacy claims that arguments for extended cognition involve the inference of “x and y constitute z” from “x is coupled to y” and that such inferences are fallacious. We argue that the coupling-constitution fallacy fails in its goal to undermine the hypothesis of extended cognition: appeal to the coupling-constitution fallacy to rule out possible empirical counterexamples to intracranialism is fallacious. We demonstrate that appeals to coupling-constitution worries are problematic by constructing the fallacious argument against the hypothesis of extended (...) cognition. We consider several objections to our argument and ﬁnd them insufficient to rebut our conclusion. (shrink)
Like many people these days, I believe there is no general moral obligation to obey the law. I shall explain why there is no such moral obligation – and I shall clarify what I mean when I say there is no moral obligation to obey the law – as we proceed. But also like many people, I am unhappy with a position that would say there was no moral obligation to obey the law and then say no more about the (...) law's moral significance. In our thinking about law in a resonably just society, we have a strong inclination to invest law with a sort of moral halo. It does not feel right to suggest that law is a morally neutral social fact, nor to suggest that law is merely a useful social technique. In this essay, I shall try to account in part for law's moral halo. Because I share the widespread inclination to invest law with this halo, I shall not be interested in a merely historical account of how we come to see law with a halo – a pure “error theory” of law's halo, if you will. I want to justify the halo. On the other hand, the main way to justify the halo is to get clear just what law's moral significance is. It is unlikely that at the end of the process of clarification the halo will have exactly the shape or luminance that it had at the beginning. (shrink)
We introduce a realist, unextravagant interpretation of quantum theory that builds on the existing physical structure of the theory and allows experiments to have definite outcomes but leaves the theory’s basic dynamical content essentially intact. Much as classical systems have specific states that evolve along definite trajectories through configuration spaces, the traditional formulation of quantum theory permits assuming that closed quantum systems have specific states that evolve unitarily along definite trajectories through Hilbert spaces, and our interpretation extends this intuitive picture (...) of states and Hilbert-space trajectories to the more realistic case of open quantum systems despite the generic development of entanglement. We provide independent justification for the partial-trace operation for density matrices, reformulate wave-function collapse in terms of an underlying interpolating dynamics, derive the Born rule from deeper principles, resolve several open questions regarding ontological stability and dynamics, address a number of familiar no-go theorems, and argue that our interpretation is ultimately compatible with Lorentz invariance. Along the way, we also investigate a number of unexplored features of quantum theory, including an interesting geometrical structure—which we call subsystem space—that we believe merits further study. We conclude with a summary, a list of criteria for future work on quantum foundations, and further research directions. We include an appendix that briefly reviews the traditional Copenhagen interpretation and the measurement problem of quantum theory, as well as the instrumentalist approach and a collection of foundational theorems not otherwise discussed in the main text. (shrink)