Should people get vaccinated for the sake of others? What could ground—and limit—the normative claim that people ought to do so? In this paper, we propose a reasons-based consequentialist account of vaccination for the benefit of others. We outline eight harm-based and probabilistic factors that, we argue, give people moral reasons to get vaccinated. Instead of understanding other-directed vaccination in terms of binary moral duties (i.e., where people either have or do not have a moral duty to get vaccinated), we (...) develop a scalar approach according to which people can have stronger or weaker moral reasons to get vaccinated in view of the moral good of vaccination. One advantage of our approach is that it can capture why a person might have strong moral reasons to get vaccinated with Vaccine A, but only weak moral reasons to get vaccinated with Vaccine B. We discuss theoretical strengths of our approach and provide a case study of vaccination against COVID-19 to demonstrate its practical significance. (shrink)
The growth of positive psychology has birthed debate on the nature of what “positive” really means. Conceptualizations of positive attributes vary across psychological perspectives, and it appears these definitional differences stem from standards for “positive” espoused by three normative ethical frameworks: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. When definitions of “positive” do not align with one of these ethical schools, it appears researchers rely on preference to distinguish positive attributes. In either case, issues arise when researchers do not make their theoretical (...) alignment explicit, leading to value-laden, often subjective criteria being smuggled into science as a description of what is positive. To foster a deeper critical understanding of the different approaches, we examine how these conceptual definitions of positive attributes (mis)align with their ethical traditions or fail to align with an ethical school. (shrink)
In his 1972 paper “A Short Refutation Ethical Egoism,” Richmond Campbell purports to refute ethical egoism via a simple reductio. Although his argument has received critical attention, it has not been satisfactorily answered. In this paper I answer it, for reasons that go well beyond my immediate topic. Campbell’s argument calls for an answer partly because, as I show, if it succeeds against ethical egoism, then variations of it refute many other normative ethical theories, such as act utilitarianism.
The Golden Rule (“what you want done [or not done] to yourself, do [or don’t do] to others”) is the most widely accepted summary statement of human morality, and even today it continues to have philosophical supporters. This article argues that the Golden Rule suffers from four faults, the first two related to the ethics of justice and the second two related to the ethics of benevolence. One, it fails to explain how to deal with non-reciprocation. Two, it fails to (...) make clear that my obligations are obligations regardless of how I would wish to be treated by others. Three, it lacks any special value in explaining the right occasions for benevolence. And, four, it has no power to motivate benevolence. (shrink)
According to a common judgement, a social planner should often use a lottery to decide which of two people should receive a good. This judgement undermines one of the best-known arguments for utilitarianism, due to John C. Harsanyi, and more generally undermines axiomatic arguments for utilitarianism and similar views. In this paper we ask which combinations of views about (a) the social planner’s attitude to risk and inequality, and (b) the subjects’ attitudes to risk are consistent with the aforementioned judgement. (...) We find that the class of combinations of views that can plausibly accommodate this judgement is quite limited. But one theory does better than others: the theory of chance-sensitive utility. (shrink)
La tradición filosófica de los enfoques morales se basa predominantemente en conceptos y teorías metafísicas y teológicas. Entre los conceptos tradicionales de la ética, el más destacado es la Teoría del Mandato Divino (DCT). Según TCD, Dios da fundamentos morales a la humanidad desde su creación ya a través de revelaciones. Así, la moral y la divinidad serían inseparables de la civilización más remota. Estos conceptos se sumergen en un marco teológico y son mayoritariamente aceptados por la mayoría de los (...) seguidores de las tres tradiciones Abrahámicas: judaísmo, cristianismo e islam, que abarcan la mayor parte de la población humana. Teniendo como fundamento la fe y la Revelación, las Teorías del Mandato Divino no están estrictamente sujetas a ningún tipo de demostración. Los opositores a la concepción moral del Mandato Divino, basados en la imposibilidad de demostrar sus supuestos metafísicos y religiosos, han intentado durante muchos siglos desvalorizar su importancia. Apoyan el argumento de que la teoría no muestra evidencia material y coherencia lógica y, por ello, no puede ser tenida en cuenta para fines científicos o filosóficos. Es solo una creencia y como tal debe entenderse. Además de estas posiciones extremas, muchos otros conceptos atacan las teorías del Mandato Divino, de una forma u otra, en parte o en su totalidad. Muchos filósofos y científicos sociales, desde la filosofía griega clásica hasta la actualidad, por ejemplo, sostienen que la moralidad es solo una construcción y, por lo tanto, culturalmente relativa y culturalmente determinada. Sin embargo, esto trae a colación muchas otras discusiones y plantea el desafío de determinar cuál es el sentido de la cultura, qué elementos de la cultura son moralmente determinantes y, finalmente, cuáles son los límites de esta relatividad. Los deterministas morales, por su parte, afirman que todo lo relacionado con el comportamiento humano, incluida la moralidad, está determinado en sus causas, ya que no existe el libre albedrío. Más recientemente, los pensadores modernos han argumentado que existe una ciencia rigurosa de la moralidad. Sin embargo, el método científico por sí solo, a pesar de explicar varios hechos y evidencias, no puede aclarar todo el contenido y significado de la ética. La comprensión moral requiere una visión más amplia y un acuerdo entre los filósofos, lo que nunca lograron. Todas estas preguntas tienen muchas configuraciones diferentes, dependiendo de cada línea filosófica, e inician análisis complejos y debates interminables, ya que muchos de ellos son recíprocamente conflictivos. Independientemente de la validez de alguno o todos los elementos de esta discusión y de su significado como universo filosófico de este trabajo, el objetivo de nuestro estudio es demostrar y justificar la existencia y el significado de los arquetipos morales prehistóricos que surgen directamente de principios fundamentales, necesita esfuerzos sociales y de supervivencia. Estos arquetipos son la definición del fundamento esencial de la ética, su agregación al inconsciente colectivo y su correspondiente organización lógica y transmisión a las etapas evolutivas del genoma humano y a las distintas relaciones espacio-temporales, independientemente de cualquier experiencia contemporánea de los individuos. El sistema definido por estos arquetipos compone un modelo social humano evolutivo. (shrink)
In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins’ argues that evolution, being a process of ruthless competition, results in selfish behavior. Human nature is short-sighted and amoral due to our genes. But he also insists humans have a unique capacity for moral behavior: Using reason we can suppress the natural instincts and act against our nature. In this chapter I show that Dawkins view is as old as the theory of evolution itself. It was first advocated by T.H. Huxley and criticized by (...) Peter Kropotkin. Kropotkin’s theory of mutual aid builds upon Darwin and seeks to establish a naturalistic grounding of human morality in the social instincts necessary for all social animals. This avoids the dualism implied in Dawkins’ and Huxley’s theories. It also raises questions of biological essentialism and determinism which the chapter discusses. Finally, the chapter compares the thoughts of Dawkins and Kropotkin with those of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche would have rejected Dawkins’ version of atheism that retains Christian views of the wickedness of bodily instincts. He was also critical of egalitarian movements which he thought were based in ressentiment. I show that Kropotkin’s views were in some ways quite close to Nietzsche’s as both advocate an affirmation of life. (shrink)
This article is an introduction to the concept of dominion without a ruler, as is so often observable in digital contexts, i.e., the compulsion to be "always on" and to be constantly networking, leading to new norms and a new kind of relational subject position in the digital age.
In this paper, I propose a solution to a challenge formulated by Judith Jarvis Thomson: We have to explain why the moral asymmetry between doing and allowing harm is a deep feature of our moral thinking. In a nutshell, my solution is this: It could not be otherwise. Accepting the asymmetry is indispensable for the construction and maintenance of stable moral communities. -/- My argument centrally involves mental resource management. Moral communities depend on their members’ commitment to moral norms. And, (...) I argue, community members can only be committed to these norms in the required ways without overextending their mental resources if morality contains the doing/allowing asymmetry. -/- This has two noteworthy implications. Firstly, we can and should stop discussing the asymmetry in normative ethics and, instead, regard it as “moral axiom” we cannot but accept. Secondly, even consequentialists have to accept the asymmetry but, by doing so, their view loses part of its intuitive appeal. Lastly, I turn to an objection. One might think that my indispensability argument confuses issues in moral psychology with issues in normative ethics. I reject the objection on broadly pragmatist grounds. (shrink)
In this paper I sketch a socially situated account of responsible agency, the main tenet of which is that the powers that constitute responsible agency are themselves socially constituted. I explain in detail the constitution relation between responsibility-relevant powers and social context and provide detailed examples of how it is realized by focusing on what I call ‘expectations-generating social factors’ such as social practices, cultural scripts, social roles, socially available self-conceptions, and political and legal institutions. I then bring my account (...) to bear on the debate about the exculpatory potential of moral ignorance. I show that a prominent position in this debate – the position that denies that moral ignorance exculpates – is grounded on an individualistic and acontextualist conception of moral capacities, moral cognition, and blameworthiness, and that this conception leads those philosophers who endorse it to make a number of questionable claims regarding the ability of ordinary agents to overcome their moral ignorance and the culpability they bear for the latter. I conclude by indicating how my socially situated account addresses the issue of moral ignorance. (shrink)
The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics is traditionally formulated in terms of whether true counterfactuals of freedom about the future (true subjunctive conditionals concerning what someone would freely do in the future if they were in certain circumstances) even partly determine an agent's present moral obligations. But the very assumption that there are true counterfactuals of freedom about the future conflicts with the idea that freedom requires a metaphysically open future. We develop probabilism as a solution to the actualism/possibilism debate, a (...) solution that accommodates an open future requirement for freedom. We argue that probabilism resolves the conflicting intuitions that arise between actualists and possibilists and maintains certain distinct advantages over actualism and possibilism. (shrink)
Kantian views of moral status can be summed up as those beings with moral agency have moral status. Several science fiction narratives offer an alternative to this view in which granting others moral status is what it means to have moral agency. This blog post looks at Orson Scott Card's novel "Speaker for the Dead" and examines how the narrative supports tis alternative view of the relationship between moral status and moral agency.
A continuous objection to virtue ethics has been its alleged inadequacy in providing a distinctive account of right action and determinate action guidance. The virtue ethical criterion “An action is right if and only if it is what a virtuous agent would characteristically (i.e., acting in character) do in the circumstances,” has been claimed by some to give wrong results in some cases, and thus doomed to failure. However, I argue that the opponents who raise these objections overlook an important (...) distinction between “action assessment” and “action guidance” in virtue ethics. Once this distinction which is alien to other dominant moral theories is taken into consideration, I show that virtue ethics can supply a distinctive theory of right action and sufficient action guidance. Moreover, I will demonstrate that this distinction allows us to see that virtue ethics has some structural advantages that enable it to provide multiple guidance strategies to different agents with differential cognitive and moral developmental levels. Finally, I will argue that while theories that tell moral agents what to do by providing exact answers might affect moral agency in negative ways by frustrating the development of an integrated moral character, virtue ethics also avoids this effect. (shrink)
The use of predictive machine learning algorithms is increasingly common to guide or even take decisions in both public and private settings. Their use is touted by some as a potentially useful method to avoid discriminatory decisions since they are, allegedly, neutral, objective, and can be evaluated in ways no human decisions can. By (fully or partly) outsourcing a decision process to an algorithm, it should allow human organizations to clearly define the parameters of the decision and to, in principle, (...) remove human biases. Yet, in practice, the use of algorithms can still be the source of wrongful discriminatory decisions based on at least three of their features: the data-mining process and the categorizations they rely on can reconduct human biases, their automaticity and predictive design can lead them to rely on wrongful generalizations, and their opaque nature is at odds with democratic requirements. We highlight that the two latter aspects of algorithms and their significance for discrimination are too often overlooked in contemporary literature. Though these problems are not all insurmountable, we argue that it is necessary to clearly define the conditions under which a machine learning decision tool can be used. We identify and propose three main guidelines to properly constrain the deployment of machine learning algorithms in society: algorithms should be vetted to ensure that they do not unduly affect historically marginalized groups; they should not systematically override or replace human decision-making processes; and the decision reached using an algorithm should always be explainable and justifiable. (shrink)
According to the orthodox view, the goodness of a life depends exclusively on the things that actually happened within it, such as its pleasures and pains, the satisfaction of its subject’s preferences, or the presence of various objective goods and bads. In this paper, I argue that the goodness of a life also depends on what could have happened, but didn’t. I then propose that this view helps us resolve ethical puzzles concerning the standards for a life worth living for (...) animals and the significance of a life’s shape. (shrink)
This article offers a new account of the moral substance of shame. Through careful reflection on the motives and intentional structure of shame, I defend the claim that shame is an egocentric and morally blind emotion. I argue that shame is rooted in our desire for social affirmation and constituted by our ability to sense how we appear to others. What makes shame egocentric is that in shame we are essentially concerned about our own social worth and pained by the (...) perception of our self as socially worthless. In itself, shame entails no morally pertinent concern about others or understanding of what is morally significant. I contrast shame with the possibility of relating to others—and to oneself—with love and care. Indeed, I propose that love is essential for moral understanding and motivation. The argument of the article unfolds through critical appraisals of the main strategies for defending the moral value of shame. First, against the claim that shame entails respect for others, I argue that shame's sensitivity to the opinions of others is motivated by egocentric self-concern. Second, against the view that shame over failures to live up to moral values is morally valuable, I argue that regardless of whether the values guiding our shame are moral or not, the perspective of shame is oblivious to their moral meaning. Third, against the claim that shame is crucial for self-understanding, I argue that the desire for affirmation that drives shame is a powerful source of self-deception. (shrink)
Some goals have special significance to agents. For instance, an agent could find her life worth living because she is pursuing her current goal, and the agent could also think that her previous life has no value because she did not pursue the current goal. If an agent’s current goal has special importance to the agent, then in terms of prudence the agent’s decision to obtain her current goal could be permissible even in the case where achieving her previous goal (...) brings out larger advantages. A widely endorsed thesis of prudence (i.e. the temporal neutrality thesis) does not successfully explain this phenomenon of goal achievement. Furthermore, the present-aim thesis and the harmony thesis also fail in explaining why an agent has prudential reason to prioritize her current goal. This paper introduces a new thesis of prudence, according to which an agent’s caring is significant in deciding whether the agent’s actions are prudentially permissible. In particular, after introducing this thesis named the care thesis, I argue that the care thesis can explain why an agent has reason to prioritize her current goal if the agent finds her life worth living due to her current goal. It is permissible that an agent obtains her current goal rather than previous goal because achieving her current goal benefits the agent’s cared one (i.e. the self who pursues her current goal). (shrink)
In _War by Agreement_ (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), Yitzhak Benbaji and Daniel Statman argue that the ‘war convention’ – i.e. the international laws and conventions that are widely accepted to govern the use of force between sovereign states – represents a morally binding contract. On their understanding, the war convention replaces a pre-contractual morality governed by principles that so-called reductive individualists have identified and argued for over the past twenty years. This paper argues that if we (...) take Benbaji and Statman’s contractarian interpretation of the war convention seriously, we have to conclude that its _in bello_ rules have moral force only in contexts where its _ad bellum_ rules were breached non-culpably. While Benbaji and Statman do not attend to this limitation of their argument, it has important ramifications in practice, as it is frequently unclear in the context of war whether one’s adversary is acting in good faith. (shrink)
[If you find this article interesting, let me mention another of my articles, “On Deducing Ethical Egoism from Psychological Egoism” (Theoria, 2023), which in many ways is a more thorough treatment of the topic. But it’s not an expanded version of this one. For instance, each article addresses arguments not addressed in the other.] Philosophers generally reject the view that psychological egoism (suitably supplemented with further premises) entails ethical egoism. Their rejections are generally unsatisfying. Some are too brief to win (...) confidence; others employ an uncharitable statement of psychological egoism. This is unfortunate, for the view that psychological egoism entails ethical egoism is philosophically significant (and not without proponents). Although it ultimately deserves rejection, it warrants better treatment than it typically receives. I thus examine it in some detail. Among other things, I carefully consider some original, sophisticated attempts to establish it, having first taken care to produce proper formulations of ethical and psychological egoism. (shrink)
This book contains diverse and critical reflections on Richard Rorty’s contributions to ethics, an aspect of his thought that has been relatively neglected. Together, they demonstrate that Rorty offers a compelling and coherent ethical vision. The book's chapters, grouped thematically, explore Rorty’s emphasis on the importance of moral imagination, social relations, language, and literature as instrumental for ethical self-transformation, as well as for strengthening what Rorty called "social hope," which entails constant work toward a more democratic, inclusive, and cosmopolitan society (...) and world. -/- Several contributors address the ethical implications of Rorty’s commitment to a vision of political liberalism without philosophical foundations. Others offer critical examinations of Rorty’s claim that our private or individual projects of self-creation can or should be held apart from our public goals of ameliorating social conditions and reducing cruelty and suffering. Some contributors explore hurdles that impede the practical applications of certain of Rorty's ideas. -/- The Ethics of Richard Rorty will appeal to scholars and advanced students interested in American philosophy and ethics. (shrink)
Moralization is a social-psychological process through which morally neutral issues take on moral significance. Often linked to health and disease, moralization may sometimes lead to good outcomes; yet moralization is often detrimental to individuals and to society as a whole. It is therefore important to be able to identify when moralization is inappropriate. In this paper, we offer a systematic normative approach to the evaluation of moralization. We introduce and develop the concept of ‘mismoralization’, which is when moralization is metaethically (...) unjustified. In order to identify mismoralization, we argue that one must engage in metaethical analysis of moralization processes while paying close attention to the relevant facts. We briefly discuss one historical example and two contemporary cases related to COVID-19 that we contend to have been mismoralized in public health. We propose a remedy of de-moralization that begins by identifying mismoralization and that proceeds by neutralizing inapt moral content. De-moralization calls for epistemic and moral humility. It should lead us to pull away from our tendency to moralize—as individuals and as social groups—whenever and wherever moralization is unjustified. (shrink)
This chapter centers around law's capacity to constitute practical reasons. In discussing this theme, consideration is given to law's artifactual character. The discussion falls into two main parts. In Section 1, I critically examine a skeptical line of thought about law's capacity to constitute reasons for action, which draws, in part, on law's artifactuality. I argue for a somewhat less skeptical (but still qualified) stance, according to which the fact that a legal directive has been issued can (notwithstanding the artifactuality (...) involved) be a reason for action, yet one that is underpinned by bedrock values which (under certain conditions and constraints) law is apt to serve. In Section 2, I consider whether, and in what sense, law can acquire an even more 'robust' status as a source of practical reasons. I focus particularly on Joseph Raz's position about the normative force of (legitimate) legal authority and on an alternative position I have proposed and advocated elsewhere. (shrink)
This handbook is currently in development, with individual articles publishing online in advance of print publication. At this time, we cannot add information about unpublished articles in this handbook, however the table of contents will continue to grow as additional articles pass through the review process and are added to the site. Please note that the online publication date for this handbook is the date that the first article in the title was published online. For more information, please read the (...) site FAQs. (shrink)
Morality, according to some theories, demands a lot of us. One way to defend such demanding moral theories is through an appeal to the division of normativity; on this picture, morality is only one of the normative domains that guides us, so it should be expected that we often fail to follow that guidance. This paper defends the division of normativity as a response to demandingness objections against an alternative: moral rationalism. It does this by addressing and refuting three arguments: (...) the argument from blameworthiness, the argument from agency, and the argument from authority. In turn, I show that none of these arguments work as responses to the division of normativity – if normativity generally is divided, so too must be blameworthiness, agency, and authority. (shrink)
Abstract: This working paper focuses on the question whether there is a therapeutic imperative that, in specific situations, would oblige us to perform genome editing at the germline level in the context of assisted reproduction. The answer to this central question is discussed primarily with reference to specific scenarios where preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) does not represent an acceptable alternative to germline genome editing based on either medical, or ethical, or – from the perspective of the potential parents – moral (...) or religious grounds. This article deals with four different types of case constellations that result from these possible reasons against PGD as well as from the necessity or dispensability of a subsequent “control PGD.” These cases are discussed based on hypotheses concerning contextual factors and theoretical assumptions. In conclusion, we point out that if our assumptions are correct, there is probably no therapeutic imperative for genome editing at the germline level. We draw this rationale from the fact that germline interventions are likely not person-affecting. However, we caution the reader that our result is preliminary and needs to be more carefully examined in future work in light of the bioethical debate and potential objections. -/- // Abstract: Im Zentrum dieses Working Papers steht die Frage, ob es einen therapeutischen Imperativ geben kann, der uns, in bestimmten Situationen, verpflichten würde, eine Genomeditierung (genome editing) auf Keimbahnebene im Rahmen der assistierten Befruchtung vorzunehmen. Die Antwort auf diese zentrale Frage wird insbesondere mit Bezug auf Fälle diskutiert, in denen das Verfahren der Präimplantationsdiagnostik (PID) keine aus entweder medizinischen oder ethischen oder – aus Sicht der potentiellen Eltern – moralischen bzw. religiösen Gründen akzeptable Alternative zu einem Keimbahneingriff darstellt. Die möglichen Gründe gegen die PID sowie die Erforderlichkeit oder Verzichtbarkeit einer nachfolgenden «Kontroll-PID» ergeben vier verschiedene Fallkonstellationen, denen sich der Beitrag zuwendet. Auf Grundlage von Hypothesen zu kontextuellen Faktoren und theoretischen Annahmen diskutieren wir diese Fälle. Im Ergebnis verweisen wir darauf, dass es, wenn unsere Annahmen zutreffen, vermutlich keinen therapeutischen Imperativ zum genome editing auf Keimbahnebene gibt. Dies begründet sich daraus, dass der Keimbahneingriff vermutlich nicht als personenbezogen (person-affecting) zu bezeichnen ist. Wir weisen jedoch darauf hin, dass unser Ergebnis vorläufig ist und unter Berücksichtigung der bioethischen Debatte und möglicher Einwände genauer geprüft werden muss. -/- // Résumé: Ce Working Paper se concentre sur la question de l’existence d’un impératif thérapeutique qui, dans des situations spécifiques, nous obligerait à réaliser une édition du génome au niveau de la lignée germinale dans le cadre de la procréation assistée. Afin de répondre à cette question centrale nous développons quatre scénarios spécifiques dans lesquels le diagnostic préimplantatoire (DPI) ne représente pas une alternative acceptable à l’édition du génome germinal pour des raisons médicales, éthiques ou – du point de vue des futurs parents – morales ou religieuses. Cet article traite de quatre constellations différentes de cas résultant des raisons mises en avant pour s'opposer au DPI ainsi que de la nécessité ou de l’inutilité d’un ultérieur « DPI de contrôle » Ces cas sont discutés sur la base d’hypothèses portant sur les facteurs contextuels et sur les présupposés théoriques. En conclusion, nous soulignons que si nos hypothèses sont correctes, il n’y a probablement aucun impératif thérapeutique justifiant l’édition du génome au niveau de la lignée germinale. Nous arrivons à cette conclusion parce qu’une intervention au niveau de la lignée germinale n’est probablement pas susceptible d’affecter la personne. Cependant, nous mettons en garde le lecteur sur le fait que notre conclusion est préliminaire et qu’elle doit être examinée avec soin dans des futurs travaux instruits par le débat bioéthique et par les éventuelles objections. (shrink)
Does our life have value for us after we die? Despite the importance of such a question, many would find it absurd, even incoherent. Once we are dead, the thought goes, we are no longer around to have any wellbeing at all. However, in this paper I argue that this common thought is mistaken. In order to make sense of some of our most central normative thoughts and practices, we must hold that a person can have wellbeing after they die. (...) I provide two arguments for this claim on the basis of postmortem harms and benefits as well as the lasting significance of death. I suggest two ways of underwriting posthumous wellbeing. (shrink)
Harm is one of the central concepts of ethics so it would be good to offer an account of it. Many accounts appeal to a baseline: they say that you harm someone if you leave them worse off than in the baseline case. In this paper, I draw some lessons regarding what counts as an appropriate baseline and explore what these general lessons reveal about the nature of harm. In the process of so doing, I argue that a certain rarely-discussed (...) account of harm -- the worse than nothing account of harm -- does a particularly good job at identifying a baseline. This account says you harm someone if you leave them worse off than if you had done nothing to them. (shrink)
As standardly understood, for an act to be optional is for it to be permissible but not required. Supererogatory acts are commonly taken to be optional in this way. In “Supererogation, Optionality and Cost”, Claire Benn rejects this common view: she argues that optionality so understood—permissible but not required—cannot be the sort of optionality involved in supererogation. As an alternative, she offers a novel account of the optionality of supererogatory acts: the “comparative cost” account. In this paper, we rebut Benn’s (...) objection to the common view that supererogation involves optionality as standardly understood. We also point out that her objection, if it worked, would equally undermine her own comparative cost proposal. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that a modified version of well-being subjectivism can avoid the standard, yet unintuitive, conclusion that morally horrible acts may contribute to an agent’s well-being. To make my case, I argue that “Modified Subjectivists” need not accept such conclusions about well-being so long as they accept the following three theoretical addenda: 1) there are a plurality of values pertaining to well-being, 2) there are some objective goods, even if they do not directly contribute to well-being, and (...) 3) some of these values and goods are bound-up with one another. (shrink)
Are there nonhuman animals who behave morally? In this paper I answer this question in the affirmative by applying the framework of care ethics to the animal morality debate. According to care ethics, empathic care is the wellspring of morality in humans. While there have been several suggestive analyses of nonhuman animals as empathic, much of the literature within the animal morality debate has marginalized analyses from the perspective of care ethics. In this paper I examine care ethics to extract (...) its core commitments to what is required for moral care: emotional motivation that enables the intentional meeting of another’s needs, and forward-looking responsibility in particular relationships. What is not required, I argue, are metarepresentational capacities or the ability to scrutinize one’s reasons for action, and thus being retrospectively accountable. This minimal account of moral care is illustrated by moral practices of parental care seen in many nonhuman animal species. In response to the worry that parental care in nonhuman animals lacks all evaluation and is therefore nonmoral I point to cultural differences in human parenting and to normativity in nonhuman animals. (shrink)
This essay is a lengthy response to six contributors to a special issue edited by Adeshina Afolayan and devoted to critical discussions of _A Relational Moral Theory: African Ethics in and Beyond the Continent_. Key topics include: the proper role of metaphysics when doing moral philosophy; the appropriate aims of moral philosophy in the light of relational values and properties; the ir/relevance of imperceptible agents for an African ethic; the un/attractiveness of the principle that one morally should promote the common (...) good; the nature of virtue (vice) and its relation to rightness (wrongness); and how to capture self-regarding virtues and duties to oneself theoretically. (shrink)
‘Rationality’ here only concerns knowledge, e.g., ways to acquire scientific knowledge. Many factors are required for human rationality to exist and develop, e.g., life and evidence-based education. Rationality’s need for those factors, hence their value to rationality, is rationally-unquestionable. Those factors require certain educational, moral, political, social, health-care etc values to be practised. This implies a pro-rationality education-theory and related values-theory, with one obligatory, general end – a uniquely rationally-unquestionable end. That theory has deeply-humanly-meaningful, universal applications: the theory has implications (...) for current and all possible educational, moral etc issues. The theory’s sub-values prescribe much prescribed by some other theories, e.g., broad and deep knowledge-acquisition, critical thinking, non-sexism, non-racism, types of liberty, holistic flourishing, happiness, unselfishness and fairness. However, other theories lack pro-rationality theory’s maximum possible rational-unquestionability, internal coherence and coherence with rationality. The theory encourages freedom in a-rationality areas, areas irrelevant to its obligatory end. The theory inherently requires its advocates to be (self )critical, rationally viewing their human-suggested specifics as often fallible or unavoidably approximate. Similarly for students and educators. (shrink)
the proclivity of many people to classify human acts as good or bad calls into mind the import of ETHICS. The penchant for classification warrants the evaluation of the bases for saying that one is bad or good action. Normally, human act is ethical if it is in accordance with what one would relatively expect in view of the events or the circumstances and unethical if the action is not called for by the circumstances, or a person whose behavior is (...) disorderly and inconsistent. The same observations harbor on perception rather than on paradigms and frameworks which ethicists have somehow perfected to classify bad behavior into one division and good behavior into another. The study of ETHICS will therefore increase proficiency at least in moral decision making. Likewise, knowledge of the course will give students certain techniques for evaluating others’ action as moral or immoral, including their own. ETHICS is the science of action but the action herein alluded to is not the action that concerns those that are unconscious and spontaneous. Action here is that resulting from intellect and will herein referred to as human act. ETHICS is both a theoretical and a practical discipline. The language of ethics refers to rights, duties, and values. One of the goals of ethics is to explore the nature of moral experience, its universality, and its diversity. Another is to provide intellectual analysis of values, and value conflicts in order to define man’s duties. Also, it is oriented toward the determination of right decisions. In order to do that, it is necessary to go step by step, analyzing, first, the facts of the case, second, the values at stake, and third, the duties. In short, ETHICS has the very practical purpose of helping us to choose, decide, and act morally. It should enable us to discover defects in the action of others and to avoid defects in our own action. (shrink)
Folter gilt weithin als paradigmatisches Beispiel einer Verletzung der Menschenwürde. Doch was macht Folter zu einem so eindeutigen Fall einer Menschenwürdeverletzung? Das ist die Leitfrage dieses Beitrags. Dazu werden zwei Menschenwürdetheorien herangezogen und auf ihr Potential hin untersucht, die Folter als paradigmatische Menschenwürdeverletzung verständlich zu machen: zum einen Ralf Stoeckers Theorie, die die individuelle Identität und die darauf aufbauende kontingente Würde in den Mittelpunkt stellt; zum anderen meine Theorie, die die menschliche Orientierung an einem sinnvollen Leben ins Zentrum rückt.
Sometimes we must choose between competing claims to aid or assistance, and sometimes those competing claims differ in strength and quantity. In such cases, we must decide whether the claims on each opposing side can be aggregated. Relevance views argue that a set of claims can be aggregated only if they are sufficiently strong (compared to the claims with which they compete) to be morally relevant to the decision. Relevance views come in two flavours: Local Relevance and Global Relevance. This (...) paper presents a trilemma for both. Namely, that neither view can capture our intuition in tie-break cases, without forfeiting our intuitions in other important cases. The paper then presents a way to salvage relevance views and capture all our intuitions using a Hybrid view. By distinguishing between two types of relevance we can combine the strengths of Local and Global Relevance views such that we can hold all our intuitions, consistently and in a non-ad-hoc manner. Building on this, the paper demonstrates how we might amend the strongest formulation of a Relevance view, into a Hybrid account. The main focus of this paper is to develop a relevance view that can capture all the intuitions we have; however deeper justifications will still be needed for a full account of any relevance view. Thus, the end of the paper briefly considers what deeper justification might support the Hybrid view, indicating the direction such literature might go. Lastly, the paper considers the advantages of this view over a rival Hybrid view. (shrink)
Handeln, Personsein, Menschenwürde und zahlreiche Fragen der Angewandten Ethik – das ist das weite Spektrum dieser Festschrift und auch des Denkens von Ralf Stoecker, dem sie gewidmet ist. Ganz in seinem Geiste laden die Beiträge des Bandes dazu ein, zusammen zu denken und zusammenzudenken, was – möglicherweise – zusammengehört.
The paper discusses the normative grounds for recognizing a watchdog role to the news media as concerns the dissemination of information about an institutional failure menacing a well-ordered society. This is, for example, the case of the news media’s role in the diffusion of whistleblowers’ disclosures. We argue that many popular justifications for the watchdog role of the news media (as a ‘fourth estate’; a trustee of the people’s right to know; expert communicator) fail to ground that role in some (...) unique feature that makes the news media special as concerns the performance of the role. We offer an alternative argument that shows how the watchdog role of the news media shares a justificatory ground with the role that any member of a well-ordered society has in terms of a general duty of answerability in the face of institutional failures. Although this duty does not bear only on the news media, we concede that in some contingent circumstances the news media might be better positioned to discharge it and, therefore, to initiate corrective actions of institutional failures effectively and conscientiously. However, the establishment of the news media’s responsibility in this sense is an empirical, not a conceptual or a normative matter. (shrink)
I defend cultural relativism against the following objections: The analogy between motion and morality is flawed. Cultural relativism has greater potential to be harmful to our daily lives than is cultural absolutism. We made moral progress when we moved from slavery to equality. There are some moral principles that are accepted by all cultures around the world. Moral argumentation is impossible within the framework of cultural relativism. We construct arguments for and against cultures.
Humanity stands at a precipice. -/- Our species could survive for millions of generations — enough time to end disease, poverty, and injustice; to reach new heights of flourishing. But this vast future is at risk. With the advent of nuclear weapons, humanity entered a new age, gaining the power to destroy ourselves, without the wisdom to ensure we won’t. Since then, these dangers have only multiplied, from climate change to engineered pandemics and unaligned artificial intelligence. If we do not (...) act fast to reach a place of safety, it may soon be too late. -/- The Precipice explores the science behind the risks we face. It puts them in the context of the greater story of humanity: showing how ending these risks is among the most pressing moral issues of our time. And it points the way forward, to the actions and strategies we can take today to safeguard humanity’s future. (shrink)
My objective of this paper is to suggest and workout a more credible form of the Principle of Beneficence from the common essential elements of the three major ethical theories (Deontology, Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics) that will try to overcome the over-demanding objection of Utilitarianism and the rigorism of Kant’s Deontology. After analyzing these three moral systems, I find that beneficence lies within the very essence of humanity. Human beings are superior to other creatures in the world due to rationality (...) and humanity. From the humanitarian ground, a common goodness lies within every human. Beneficence, as a moral principle, is derived from this inner humanity of every individual. Despite their initial differences, utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics recognize this fundamental humanitarian disposition of doing good for all as a part of being a morally better person. The principle of beneficence as I suggest, is different from its consequential utilitarian notion suggested by Mill. This version of beneficence is more credible as it does not impose excessive demands upon an individual to develop any maximum beneficial outcome following utilitarian calculation of beneficence over cost, and it also strives to overcome the rigorous duty-based theory of Kantian deontology by appealing to the fundamental virtue of humanity. Finally, the credibility of this form of beneficence comes from the underlying transcendental humanism which is the chief feature of Indian tradition. (shrink)
Recent years have seen a surge of interest in implicit bias. Driving this concern is the thesis, apparently established by tests such as the IAT, that people who hold egalitarian explicit attitudes and beliefs, are often influenced by implicit mental processes that operate independently from, and are largely insensitive to, their explicit attitudes. We argue that implicit bias testing in social and empirical psychology does not, and without a fundamental shift in focus could not, establish this startling thesis. We suggest (...) that implicit bias research has been conducted in light of inadequate theories of racism and sexism. As a result, such testing has not sufficiently controlled for subjects’ prejudiced explicit beliefs and emotions, and has not ruled out the possibility that explicit prejudice best explains test subjects’ discriminatory associations and behavior. (shrink)
The book is intended for use in professional ethics, engineering ethics, environmental studies, computer sciences, and technology studies. Our rationale for developing it is two-fold. First, to create an excellent and accessible textbook for students at all levels of learning. Second, to include recent developments in ethics on topics such as gender, race and inequality, while providing updated case studies of interest to students, teachers, and professionals in these areas. The approach that we take is committed to a pluralist and (...) interdisciplinary framework, guided by considerations of equity and inclusion. Our goal is to facilitate learning by taking a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to relevant issues that encompass ethical theory, applied ethical reasoning, and the professional dimensions of engineering with a particular focus on sustainability and technology. (shrink)
Partiality is the special concern that we display for ourselves and other people with whom we stand in some special personal relationship. It is a central theme in moral philosophy, both ancient and modern. Questions about the justification of partiality arise in the context of enquiry into several moral topics, including the good life and the role in it of our personal commitments; the demands of impartial morality, equality, and other moral ideals; and commonsense ideas about supererogation. This paper provides (...) an overview of the debate on the ethics of partiality through the lens of the domains of permissible and required partiality. After outlining the conceptual space, I first discuss agent-centred moral options that concern permissions not to do what would be impartially optimal. I then focus on required partiality, which concerns associative duties that go beyond our general duties to others and require us to give special priority to people who are close to us. I discuss some notable features of associative duties and the two main objections that have been raised against them: the Voluntarist and the Distributive objections. I then turn to the justification of partiality, focusing on underivative approaches and reasons-based frameworks. I discuss the reductionism and non-reductionism debate: the question whether partiality is derivative or fundamental. I survey arguments for ‘the big three’, according to which partiality is justified by appeal to the special value of either projects, personal relationships, or individuals. I conclude by discussing four newly emerging areas in the debate: normative transitions of various personal relationships, relationships with AI, epistemic partiality, and negative partiality, which concerns the negative analogue of our positive personal relationships. (shrink)
The 14-day rule restricts the culturing of human embryos in vitro for the purposes of scientific research for no longer than 14 days. Since researchers recently developed the capability to exceed the 14-day limit, pressure to modify the rule has started to build. Sophia McCully argues that the limit should be extended to 28 days, listing numerous potential benefits of doing so. We contend that McCully has not engaged with the main reasons why the Warnock Committee set such a limit, (...) and these still remain valid. As a result, her case for an extension of the 14-day rule is not persuasive. (shrink)
The idea that conscious control, or more specifically akratic wrongdoing, is a necessary condition for blameworthiness has durable appeal. This position has been explicitly championed by volitionist philosophers, and its tacit influence is broadly felt. Many responses have been offered to the akrasia requirement espoused by volitionists. These responses often take the form of counterexamples involving blameworthy ignorance: i.e., cases where an agent didn’t act akratically, but where they nevertheless seem blameworthy. These counterexamples have generally led to an impasse in (...) the debate, with volitionists maintaining that the ignorant agents are blameless. In this paper, I explore a different sort of counterexample: I consider agents who have acted akratically, but whose very conscious awareness of their wrongdoing complicates their blameworthiness. I call these cases of “complex akrasia,” and I suggest that they are a familiar aspect of moral life. I interpret these cases as supporting non-volitionist accounts, and particularly Quality of Will accounts. (shrink)