In this essay I will argue that, preconceptions notwithstanding, Immanuel Kant does have an environmental ethics which uniquely contributes to two current debates in the field. First, he transcends the controversy between individualistic and holistic approaches to nature with a theory that considers humanity in terms of the autonomy of moral individuals and nature in terms of the integrity of functional wholes. Second, he diminishes the gulf between Conservationism and Preservationism. He does this by constructing an ideal-regarding conception of the (...) former that values nature not as "merely" a thing to be used by human preferences and translated by markets, but as an essential component and prerequisite to the intrinsic autonomy of human beings. Simultaneously, he argues for a definition of preservation which places responsibility on humanity to harmonize moral agency with the functional integrity of natural systems. Here humanity and nature become the two unique and equally important components of what we might call the greater " Kantian ecosystem." In addition to the theoretical contributions of Kant's approach to our appreciation of the duties we owe to our natural environment, I will also suggest that Kantian Conservationism and Kantian Preservationism provide a sound moral basis for public policy arguments that wish to take the intrinsic value of humanity and nature into account. By requiring decision makers to consider citizens as ethical ends and nature as a functional end-in-itself, public choice becomes a process of restricting the use of the "kingdom of nature" to the essential requirements of the "kingdom of ends.". (shrink)
In _The Moral Austerity of Environmental Decision Making_ a group of prominent environmental ethicists, policy analysts, political theorists, and legal experts challenges the dominating influence of market principles and assumptions on the formulation of environmental policy. Emphasizing the concept of sustainability and the centrality of moral deliberation to democracy, they examine the possibilities for a wider variety of moral principles to play an active role in defining “good” environmental decisions. If environmental policy is to be responsible to humanity and to (...) nature in the twenty-first century, they argue, it is imperative that the discourse acknowledge and integrate additional normative assumptions and principles other than those endorsed by the market paradigm. The contributors search for these assumptions and principles in short arguments and debates over the role of science, social justice, instrumental value, and intrinsic value in contemporary environmental policy. In their discussion of moral alternatives to enrich environmental decision making and in their search for a less austere and more robust role for normative discourse in practical policy making, they analyze a series of original case studies that deal with environmental sustainability and natural resources policy including pollution, land use, environmental law, globalism, and public lands. The unique structure of the book—which features the core contributors responding in a discourse format to the central chapters’ essays and debates—helps to highlight the role personal and public values play in democratic decision making generally and in the field of environmental politics specifically. _Contributors._ Joe Bowersox, David Brower, Susan Buck, Celia Campbell-Mohn, JohnMartinGillroy, Joel Kassiola, Jan Laitos, William Lowry, Bryan Norton, Robert Paehlke, Barry G. Rabe, Mark Sagoff, Anna K. Schwab, Bob Pepperman Taylor, Jonathan Wiener. (shrink)
In this essay, I argue that environmental risk is a strategic situation that places the individual citizen in the position of an imprisoned rider who is being exploited without his or her knowledge by the preferences of others. I contend that what is at stake in policy decisions regarding environmental risk is not numerical probabilities or consistent, complete, transitive preferences for individual welfare, but rather respect for the human agency of the individual. Human agency is a prerequisite to one’s utility (...) function and is threatened and exploited in the strategic situation that produces the imprisoned rider. This problem is created by the policy maker’s assumption that his or her task is to assume rational preferences and aggregate them. The guidelines for evaluation and justification of policy should move beyondwelfare preferences and involve an active state protecting human agency and empowering the imprisoned rider. Only in this way can we free all citizens from fear of exploitation by those who would impose collective and irreversible risk on each of them in violation of their unconditional right to their own agency. (shrink)
In this essay, I argue that environmental risk is a strategic situation that places the individual citizen in the position of an imprisoned rider who is being exploited without his or her knowledge by the preferences of others. I contend that what is at stake in policy decisions regarding environmental risk is not numerical probabilities or consistent, complete, transitive preferences for individual welfare, but rather respect for the human agency of the individual. Human agency is a prerequisite to one’s utility (...) function and is threatened and exploited in the strategic situation that produces the imprisoned rider. This problem is created by the policy maker’s assumption that his or her task is to assume rational preferences and aggregate them. The guidelines for evaluation and justification of policy should move beyondwelfare preferences and involve an active state protecting human agency and empowering the imprisoned rider. Only in this way can we free all citizens (a priori) from fear of exploitation by those who would impose collective and irreversible risk on each of them in violation of their unconditional right to their own agency. (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)
. In a number of papers I have sought to discuss and cast some doubt on a certain strategy of response to an argument that purports to show that God's foreknowledge is incompatible with human freedom. This argument proceeds from the alleged ‘fixity of the past’ to the conclusion that God's foreknowledge is incompatible with human freedom. William Lane Craig has criticized my approach to these issues. Here I should like to respond to some of Craig's claims. My goal is (...) to attempt to achieve a clearer, more penetrating view of some of the issues pertaining to the relationship between God's foreknowledge and human freedom. The focus here will be on a strategy of response to the incompatibilist's argument which is associated with William of Ockham. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that while his criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global and (...) local arguments from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
This is a selection of essays on moral responsibility that represent the major components of JohnMartin 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)
The Metaphysics of Free Will provides a through statement of the major grounds for skepticism about the reality of free will and moral responsibility. The author identifies and explains the sort of control that is associated with personhood and accountability, and shows how it is consistent with causal determinism. In so doing, out view of ourselves as morally responsible agents is protected against the disturbing changes posed by science and religion.
This Introduction has three sections, on "logical fatalism," "theological fatalism," and the problem of future contingents, respectively. In the first two sections, we focus on the crucial idea of "dependence" and the role it plays it fatalistic arguments. Arguably, the primary response to the problems of logical and theological fatalism invokes the claim that the relevant past truths or divine beliefs depend on what we do, and therefore needn't be held fixed when evaluating what we can do. We call the (...) sort of dependence needed for this response to be successful "dependence with a capital 'd'": Dependence. We consider different accounts of Dependence, especially the account implicit in the so-called "Ockhamist" response to the fatalistic arguments. Finally, we present the problem of future contingents: what could "ground" truths about the undetermined future? On the other hand, how could all such propositions fail to be true? (shrink)
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- JohnMartin 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 -- JohnMartin 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) -- JohnMartin 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 JohnMartin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
Fischer here defends the contention that moral responsibility is associated with "deep control", which is "in-between" two untenable extreme positions: "superficial control" and "total control". He defends this "middle way" against the proponents of more--and less--robust notions of the freedom required for moral responsibility. Fischer offers a new solution to the Luck Problem, as well as providing a defense of the compatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility.
Introduction : death, metaphysics, and morality / JohnMartin Fischer Death knocks / Woody Allen Rationality and the fear of death / Jeffrie G. Murphy Death / Thomas Nagel The Makropulos case : reflections on the tedium of immortality / Bernard Williams The evil of death / Harry S. Silverstein How to be dead and not care : a defense of Epicurus / Stephen E. Rosenbaum The dead / Palle Yourgrau The misfortunes of the dead / George Pitcher (...) Harm to others / Joel Feinberg Reasons and persons / Derek Parfit Why is death bad? / Anthony L. Brueckner and JohnMartin Fischer Death and the value of life / Jeff McMahan Annihilation / Steven Luper-Foy Epicurus and annihilation / Stephen E. Rosenbaum Some puzzles about the evil of death / Fred Feldman Well-being and time / J. David Velleman. (shrink)
Control-based models of moral responsibility typically employ a notion of "tracing," according to which moral responsibility requires an exercise of control either immediately prior to the behavior in question or at some suitable point prior to the behavior. Responsibility, on this view, requires tracing back to control. But various philosophers, including Manuel Vargas and Angela Smith, have presented cases in which the plausibility of tracing is challenged. In this paper we discuss the examples and we argue that they do not (...) in fact impugn an attractive and natural tracing component. Our discussion can function in part as a defense of a control-based account of moral responsibility, but also as simply a defense of tracing. (shrink)
The first, the Transfer Version, employs an inference principle concerning the transfer of one's powerlessness with respect to certain facts. The principle says, roughly, "If a person is powerless over one thing, and powerless over that thing's leading to another, then the person is powerless over the second thing". The key premises are the Fixity of the Past and the Fixity of the Laws. Fischer defends the transfer principle against objections that have been raised by Anthony Kenny and Michael Slote.
Our aim in this paper is to put the concept of moral responsibility under a microscope. At the lowest level of magnification, it appears unified. But Gary Watson has taught us that if we zoom in, we will find that moral responsibility has two faces: attributability and accountability. Or, to describe the two faces in different terms, there is a difference between being responsible and holding responsible. It is one thing to talk about the connection the agent has with her (...) action; it is quite another to talk about the potential interaction the agent might have with her moral community. It turns out, though, that the faces of moral responsibility can themselves be viewed under an even higher level of magnification. If moral responsibility has two faces, then our aim in this paper is to examine their features. To do so reveals subtle distinctions in our concept of moral responsibility and its interaction with surrounding issues that, we argue, can help illuminate various debates in the literature. (shrink)
In this paper we critically evaluate Trenton Merricks’s recent attempt to provide a “new” way of defending compatibilism about divine foreknowledge and human freedom. We take issue with Merricks’s claim that his approach is fundamentally different from Ockhamism. We also seek to highlight the implausibility of Merricks’s rejection of the assumption of the fixity of the past, and we also develop a critique of the Merricks’s crucial notion of “dependence.”.
The Frankfurt cases have been thought by some philosophers to show that moral responsibility does not require genuine metaphysical access to alternative possibilities. But various philosophers have rejected this putative "lesson" of the cases, and they have put forward a powerful "Dilemma Defense." In the last decade or so, many philosophers have been persuaded by the Dilemma Defense that the Frankfurt cases do not show what Frankfurt (and others) thought they show. This essay presents a template for a general strategy (...) of response to the Dilemma Defense. It thus seeks to provide further support for the author's view that the Frankfurt cases help to establish that moral responsibility does not require alternative possibilities. (shrink)
Introduction: God and Freedom JohnMartin Fischer Imagine that in some remote part of Connecticut there is a computer that has stored in its memory all truths about your life — past, present, and future. The computer contains all the ...
We typically think we have free will. But how could we have free will, if for anything we do, it was already true in the distant past that we would do that thing? Or how could we have free will, if God already knows in advance all the details of our lives? Such issues raise the specter of "fatalism". This book collects sixteen previously published articles on fatalism, truths about the future, and the relationship between divine foreknowledge and human freedom, (...) and includes a substantial new introductory essay and bibliography. Many of the pieces collected here build bridges between discussions of human freedom and recent developments in other areas of metaphysics, such as philosophy of time and the nature of metaphysical "dependence". Ideal for courses in free will, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion, Freedom, Fatalism, and Foreknowledge will encourage important new directions in thinking about free will, time, and truth. (shrink)
In this essay I shall begin by sketching a "Frankfurt-type example." I shall then lay out a disturbing challenge to the claim I have made above that these examples help us to make significant progress in the debates about the relationship between moral responsibility and causal determinism. I then will provide a reply to this challenge, and the reply will point toward a more refined formulation of the important contribution I believe Frankfurt has made to defending a certain sort of (...) compatibilism. (shrink)