Where do we draw the line between individual and collective responsibilities? Can collectives be „morally responsible‟ in the same way that individuals can? This paper explores the Bystander Effect – how an individual‟s sense of personal responsibility can become „diffused‟ when they become part of a collective. This is compared to the issue of the collective responsibility of the „developed world‟ to aid the „Third World‟ that ethicists, such Peter Singer and Iris Marion Young believe to be true. I consider (...) that perhaps because their theories concentrate too heavily on collective responsibility, they are rendered practically ineffectual by the phenomenon of the Bystander Effect. I suggest that this effect may be overcome if means to „infuse‟, rather than „diffuse‟, the individuals‟ sense of personal and collective responsibility are encouraged. For example, educating people of the logic of the „prisoner‟s dilemma‟ metaphor – that is, that if each individual takes their own responsibility seriously, then the collective can become more effectual. In such ways, the Bystander Effect associated with issues of global poverty could be overcome, at least to a certain extent, by moving individuals‟ focus away from feeling uninspired by their diffusion of responsibility, and towards individual responsibility being promoted in a way that makes them feel as though their combined efforts will make an effectual collective. (shrink)
To date the wealth of literature on abortion has been dedicated to resolving the question of its legal and moral permissibility in relation to the fetus and pregnant woman as subjects of moral standing. This has created a dichotomised way of talking about abortion chiefly in terms of conflicting rights; as a „wrongful‟ versus „legitimate‟ form of killing. The tension between this individualistic rights-based discourse and the „ethic of care‟ to which women are often expected to conform in their moral (...) deliberations gives rise to a stigmatising picture of a woman who aborts as „callous‟ or „selfish.‟ Males who share in abortion decisions are rarely subject to the same type of criticism. In this paper I aim to conceptualise the impact of normative femininity and social judgement on women‟s capacity for moral self-determination in abortion contexts within the framework of an injustice. I will do so by examining women‟s discursive participation with respect to abortion, and by analysing the impact that abortion stigma has on women‟s moral agency and lived experience. This will enable me to demonstrate how women may be uniquely subject to a hermeneutical injustice, which in abortion contexts gives way to a phenomenological injustice. (shrink)
Within Plato's Socratic Dialogues we routinely observe the character of Socrates employing a formal, yet largely unexplained method of investigation into the beliefs that his interlocutors hold as true. Socrates even goes so far as to claim there will be discord within them their whole life should they not be able refute one of his controversial and counter-intuitive revealed truths. With the beliefs under investigation striking to the core of how one should live a good life, this paper seeks to (...) investigate whether Socrates' formal method justifies him in making the claims he does. After exposing the methodology of his technique, we turn to investigate the theory of truth that the method represents, seeking to ascertain a greater understanding of what truth means to Socrates when he makes the claim that a belief is true. (shrink)
Moral nihilism (the denial of the existence of objective moral values) has been argued for for thousands of years. Despite such arguments this view is by no means the majority view. One of the most influential moral nihilists of the 20th Century was John Leslie Mackie, who gave arguments for this position. These arguments, despite many objections, have not been convincingly or decisively overcome. If the arguments are still good, why is moral nihilism such an uncommon view? One possible reason (...) that this view is not more popular among moral philosophers is because it seems to lead to unacceptable consequences: moral fictionalism or abolitionism. I will argue that such philosophers are correct in rejecting moral fictionalism as unacceptable; but that abolitionism is actually a rational, reasonable position that should not cast doubt upon our morally nihilistic beliefs. (shrink)
This article challenges and builds upon the language-centred model of understanding found in Gadamer‟s hermeneutics. The alternative that is developed employs a concept of embodied understanding, derived from the work of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, which is better able to comprehend that which lies on the borders of language such as animality, infant development and aesthetic experience.
Though much philosophical and theological debate centres on various aspects of religious life, the very definition of a religious life in any given tradition is often unclear. This paper focuses on Christianity and asks, what does it mean to be a Christian? Kierkegaard‟s authorship offers an insightful conception of Christian being. An ontological account of being in „correct relation‟ and an ethical imperative to imitate Christ and love one‟s neighbour constitute Kierkegaard‟s idea of what it means to be a Christian. (...) This paper will also discuss whether Kierkegaard over-emphasises the individual aspect of religious life at the expense of the communal aspect. What will be affirmed throughout is that Kierkegaard‟s ontological and ethical conception of Christian being illuminates the issue today as it did for 19th century Danish religion. (shrink)
Most people think there are things we ought to believe, and things we ought not to believe, otherwise means-ends rationality wouldn‟t be possible. But are there things that we ought to believe, or ought not to believe, irrespective of our ends? Clifford (1879) and James (1896) have different views about how this question should be answered. Clifford has an absolutist view, that it is always morally wrong for one to believe something upon insufficient evidence or reasoning. James argues that there (...) are special cases in which one is entitled to believe upon insufficient evidence or reasoning. After examining their arguments, I argue for an alternative position, in which we are morally obliged to change our beliefs in response to certain situations we are faced with in our everyday lives. The view that Clifford and I share is that a belief itself (but not only belief itself) can be morally wrong, independently of any wrong actions the belief in question causes. While it could be objected that we have no control over what we believe, and hence can‟t be held morally responsible for our beliefs, I contend that moral realisation causes the necessary change in the morally deficient belief we realise we have. Since Clifford and James both intended their views to be applied to religious belief, I will also discuss one important application for the ideas discussed in this essay, namely the implication these arguments have for religious belief. (shrink)