This article proposes to take seriously Lord Hoffmann's influential restatement of the rules of contractual interpretation. Consequently, it seeks to investigate the ‘common sense principles by which any serious utterance would be interpreted in ordinary life’, with the aid of theoretical insights from psycholinguistics, pragmatics and the philosophy of language. Such an investigation provides a principled explanation for some of the key features of our legal rules of interpretation, such as the objective principle and the importance of the factual matrix (...) and the parties' reasonable expectations. It is shown that the intended meaning of a contractual document goes far beyond the ordinary linguistic meaning of the document, and even far beyond the information that crossed the drafter's mind. The common sense principles are then used to explain some key cases on the interpretation of contracts. (shrink)
The norms of a legal system are relevant in deciding on people's rights and duties within that system. Some norms that are not part of a legal system are also relevant within it: norms of foreign legal systems, games, clubs, contracts, grammar, and so on. What distinguishes the norms of a legal system from the norms merely relevant within it? Where, in other words, are law's boundaries? There are three existing answers in the literature, from Kramer, Shapiro, and Raz. (...) None succeed. A better answer starts with a distinction between two types of legal relevance: direct and indirect. Norms of a legal system are directly relevant within it. Norms that are not part of a legal system are at most indirectly relevant within it. Thus, the two types of norms are distinguished by the directness of their relevance. (shrink)
Growing inequality and its implications for democratic polity suggest that corporate social responsibility has not proved itself in twenty-first century business, largely as it lacks clear criteria of demarcation for businesses to follow. Today the problem is viewed by many commentators as an ethical challenge to business itself. In response to this challenge, we begin by examining Porter and Kramer’s :64–77, 2011) call for a shift from a social responsibility to a shared value framework and the need to respond (...) to the problem of the ‘separation thesis’ between business and ethics :89–118, 1996; Harris and Freeman, Bus Ethics Q 18:541–548, 2008). We identify the eighteenth century economist and philosopher Adam Smith in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments as a source for an ethical approach to business. Building on his central concept of ‘sympathy’, we introduce the idea of the Impartial Spectator Test, which we argue builds on traditional stakeholder perspectives and which provides an objective route to ethical criteria of demarcation. We conclude by assessing how this approach adds to the existing debate around social responsibility and shared value. (shrink)
Adam Świeżyński | : The experience of loneliness is usually seen as a negative aspect of human existence and something to overcome. However, it is worth trying to break free, if only on a trial basis, from the established traditional perception of loneliness, and strive to reduce it immediately from being one of the main sources of human affliction and to rethink its importance in human life. In order to do this, we must first consider the question of the (...) essence of loneliness, and then examine the question of its axiological status, i.e. its value. The ontological dimension and the axiological dimension of the issue should include the opportunity to construct the concept of human loneliness, by taking into account its internal and external aspect. The purpose of this paper is to propose an outline concept of loneliness, which, on the basis of findings on its essence, seeks to determine its axiological nature. The designated point of departure is the biblical image of human loneliness presented in Genesis. | : L’expérience de la solitude est souvent perçue comme un aspect négatif de l’existence humaine, nécessitant d’être surmonté. Il convient cependant d’essayer de se libérer de cette perception figée de la solitude, selon laquelle celle-ci est réduite immédiatement à l’une des sources fondamentales du malheur humain, et d’essayer de revisiter le sens qu’elle a l’égard de la vie humaine. Pour ceci, il est nécessaire dans un premier lieu de considérer l’être de la solitude pour ensuite analyser son statut axiologique. La dimension axiologique et ontologique de la question évoquée devraient ensemble permettre de construire une conception de la solitude considérant sont aspect extérieur et intérieur. L’objet de cet écrit est de proposer une esquisse de la conception de la solitude qui en partant des précisions sur son être a pour objectif de définir son caractère axiologique. L’image de la solitude humaine telle que présentée dans la Genèse sera prise comme point de départ. (shrink)
This is a reply to de Sousa's 'Emotional Truth', in which he argues that emotions can be objective, as propositional truths are. I say that it is better to distinguish between truth and accuracy, and agree with de Sousa to the extent of arguing that emotions can be more or less accurate, that is, based on the facts as they are.
In this major new work, Matthew Kramer seeks to establish two main conclusions. On the one hand, moral requirements are strongly objective. On the other hand, the objectivity of ethics is itself an ethical matter that rests primarily on ethical considerations. Moral realism - the doctrine that morality is indeed objective - is a moral doctrine. Major new volume in our new series _New Directions in Ethics_ Takes on the big picture - defending the objectivity of ethics whilst rejecting (...) the grounds of much of the existing debate between realists and anti-realists Cuts across both ethical theory and metaethics Distinguished by the quality of the scholarship and its ambitious range. (shrink)
‘The Principles of the Pure Type Theory’ is a translation of Leon Chwistek's 1922 paper ‘Zasady czystej teorii typów’. It summarizes Chwistek's results from a series of studies of the logic of Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica which were published between 1912 and 1924. Chwistek's main argument involves a criticism of the axiom of reducibility. Moreover, ‘The Principles of the Pure Type Theory’ is a source for Chwistek's views on an issue in Whitehead and Russell's ‘no-class theory of classes’ involving (...) the notion of ‘scope’. (shrink)
Alston's perceptual account of mystical experience fails to show how it is that the sort of predicates that are used to describe God in these experiences could be derived from perception, even though the ascription of matched predicates in the natural order are not derived in the manner Alston has in mind. In contrast, if one looks to research on shared attention between individuals as mediated by mirror neurons, then one can give a perceptual account of mystical experience which draws (...) a tighter connection between what is reported in mystical reports and the most similar reports in the natural order. (shrink)
We define a notion of difference-making for partial grounds of a fact in rough analogy to existing notions of difference-making for causes of an event. Using orthodox assumptions about ground, we show that it induces a non-trivial division with examples of partial grounds on both sides. We then demonstrate the theoretical fruitfulness of the notion by applying it to the analysis of a certain kind of putative counter-example to the transitivity of ground recently described by Jonathan Schaffer. First, we show (...) that our conceptual apparatus of difference-making enables us to give a much clearer description than Schaffer does of what makes the relevant instances of transitivity appear problematic. Second, we suggest that difference-making is best seen as a mark of good grounding-based explanations rather than a necessary condition on grounding, and argue that this enables us to deal with the counter-example in a satisfactory way. Along the way, we show that Schaffer's own proposal for salvaging a form of transitivity by moving to a contrastive conception of ground is unsuccessful. We conclude by sketching some natural strategies for extending our proposal to a more comprehensive account of grounding-based explanations. (shrink)
This thoughtful new abridgment is enriched by the brilliant commentary which accompanies it. In it, Laurence Dickey argues that the _Wealth of Nations_ contains--and conceals--a great deal of how Smith actually thought a commercial society works. Guided by his conviction that the so-called Adam Smith Problem--the relationship between ethics and economics in Smith's thinking--is a core element in the argument of the work itself, Dickey's commentary focuses on the devices Smith uses to ground his economics in broadly ethical and (...) social categories. An unparalleled guide to an often difficult and perplexing work. (shrink)
The foundation for a system of morals, this 1749 work is a landmark of moral and political thought. Its highly original theories of conscience, moral judgment, and virtue offer a reconstruction of the Enlightenment concept of social science, embracing both political economy and theories of law and government.
Metaphysical grounding is standardly taken to be irreflexive: nothing grounds itself. Kit Fine has presented some puzzles that appear to contradict this principle. I construct a particularly simple variant of those puzzles that is independent of several of the assumptions required by Fine, instead employing quantification into sentence position. Various possible responses to Fine's puzzles thus turn out to apply only in a restricted range of cases.
This book is an uncompromising defense of legal positivism that insists on the separability of law and morality. After distinguishing among three facets of morality, Kramer explores a variety of ways in which law has been perceived as integrally connected to each of those facets. The book concludes with a detailed discussion of the obligation to obey the law--a discussion that highlights the strengths of legal positivism in the domain of political philosophy as much as in the domain of (...) jurisprudence. (shrink)
What is objectivity? What is the rule of law? Are the operations of legal systems objective? If so, in what ways and to what degrees are they objective? Does anything of importance depend on the objectivity of law? These are some of the principal questions addressed by Matthew H. Kramer in this lucid and wide-ranging study that introduces readers to vital areas of philosophical enquiry. As Kramer shows, objectivity and the rule of law are complicated phenomena, each comprising (...) a number of distinct though overlapping dimensions. Although the connections between objectivity and the rule of law are intimate, they are also densely multi-faceted. (shrink)
Matthew Kramer has recently defended a novel justification for the death penalty, something he calls the purgative rationale. According to this rationale, the death penalty can be justifiably implemented if it is necessary in order to purge defilingly evil offenders from a moral community. Kramer claims that this rationale overcomes the problems associated with traditional rationales for the death penalty. Although Kramer is to be commended for carving out a novel niche in a well-worn dialectical space, I (...) argue that his rationale falls somewhat short of the mark. By his own lights, a successful justification of the death penalty must show that death is the minimally invasive, most humane means to some legitimate moral end. But even if we grant that his rationale picks out a legitimate moral end, there are at least three alternatives to death, either ignored or not fully considered by Kramer, which would seem to satisfy that end in a less invasive, more humane manner. (shrink)
In his 2010 paper ‘Grounding and Truth-Functions’, Fabrice Correia has developed the first and so far only proposal for a logic of ground based on a worldly conception of facts. In this paper, we show that the logic allows the derivation of implausible grounding claims. We then generalize these results and draw some conclusions concerning the structural features of ground and its associated notion of relevance, which has so far not received the attention it deserves.
How are law and morality connected, how do they interact, and in what ways are they distinct? In Part I of this book, Matthew Kramer argues that moral principles can enter into the law of any jurisdiction. He contends that legal officials can invoke moral principles as laws for resolving disputes, and that they can also invoke them as threshold tests which ordinary laws must satisfy. In opposition to many other theorists, Kramer argues that these functions of moral (...) principles are consistent with all the essential characteristics of any legal system. Part II reaffirms the legal positivist argument that law and morality are separable, arguing against the position of natural-law theory, which portrays legal requirements as a species of moral requirements. Kramer contends that even though the existence of a legal system in any sizeable society is essential for the realization of fundamental moral values, law is not inherently moral either in its effects or in its motivational underpinnings. In the final part, Kramer contests the widespread view that people whose conduct is meticulously careful cannot be held morally responsible for harmful effects of their actions. Through this argument, he reveals that fault-independent liability is present even more prominently in morality than in the law. Through a variety of arguments, Where Law and Morality Meet highlights both some surprising affinities and some striking divergences between morality and law. (shrink)
Tolerance for blood transfusion risks is very low, as evidenced by the implementation of expensive blood tests and the rejection of gay men as blood donors. Is this low risk tolerance supported by the precautionary principle, as defenders of such policies claim? We discuss three constraints on applying the precautionary principle and show that respecting these implies tolerating certain risks. Consistency means that the precautionary principle cannot prescribe precautions that it must simultaneously forbid taking, considering the harms they might cause. (...) Avoiding counterproductivity requires rejecting precautions that cause more harm than they prevent. Proportionality forbids taking precautions that are more harmful than adequate alternatives. When applying these constraints, we argue, attention should not be restricted to harms that are human caused or that affect human health or the environment. Tolerating transfusion risks can be justified if available precautions have serious side effects, such as high social or economic costs. (shrink)
This collection of essays forms a lively debate over the fundamental characteristics of legal and moral rights. The essays examine whether rights fundamentally protect individuals' interests or whether they instead fundamentally enable individuals to make choices.
This paper seeks to clarify and defend the proposition that moral realism is best elaborated as a moral doctrine. I begin by upholding Ronald Dworkin’s anti-Archimedean critique of the error theory against some strictures by Michael Smith, and I then briefly suggest how a proponent of moral realism as a moral doctrine would respond to Smith’s defense of the Archimedeanism of expressivism. Thereafter, this paper moves to its chief endeavor. By differentiating clearly between expressivism and quasi-realism, the paper highlights both (...) their distinctness and their compatibility. In so doing, it underscores the affinities between Blackburnian quasi-realism and moral realism as a moral doctrine. Finally, this paper contends—in line with my earlier work on these matters—that moral realism as a moral doctrine points to the need for some reorienting of meta-ethical enquiries rather than for the abandoning of them. (shrink)
A lot of research has recently been done on the topic of ground, and in particular on the logic of ground. According to a broad consensus in that debate, ground is hyperintensional in the sense that even logically equivalent truths may differ with respect to what grounds them, and what they ground. This renders pressing the question of what we may take to be the ground-theoretic content of a true statement, i.e. that aspect of the statement’s overall content to which (...) ground is sensitive. I propose a novel answer to this question, namely that ground tracks how, rather than just by what, a statement is made true. I develop that answer in the form of a formal theory of ground-theoretic content and show how the resulting framework may be used to articulate plausible theories of ground, including in particular a popular account of the grounds of truth-functionally complex truths that has proved difficult to accommodate on alternative views of content. (shrink)
Recently, some philosophers have argued that we should take quantification of any order to be a legitimate and irreducible, sui generis kind of quantification. In particular, they hold that a semantic theory for higher-order quantification must itself be couched in higher-order terms. Øystein Linnebo has criticized such views on the grounds that they are committed to general claims about the semantic values of expressions that are by their own lights inexpressible. I show that Linnebo's objection rests on the assumption of (...) a notion of semantic value or contribution which both applies to expressions of any order, and picks out, for each expression, an extra-linguistic correlate of that expression. I go on to argue that higher-orderists can plausibly reject this assumption, by means of a hierarchy of notions they can use to describe the extra-lingustic correlates of expressions of different orders. (shrink)
The authors of this book engage in essay form in a lively debate over the fundamental characteristics of legal and moral rights. They examine whether rights fundamentally protect individuals' interests or whether they instead fundamentally enable individuals to make choices. In the course of this debate the authors address many questions through which they clarify, though not finally resolve, a number of controversial present-day political debates, including those over abortion, euthanasia, and animal rights.
The morality of interrogational torture has been the subject of heated debate in recent years. In explaining why torture is morally wrong, Kramer engages in deep philosophical reflections on the nature of morality and on moral conflicts.
Taking a fresh look at a central controversy in criminal law theory, The Ethics of Capital Punishment presents a rationale for the death penalty grounded in a theory of the nature of evil and the nature of defilement. Original, unsettling, and deeply controversial, it will be an essential reference point for future debates on the subject.
Some important recent articles, including one in this journal, have sought to devise theories of rights that can transcend the longstanding debate between the Interest Theory and the Will Theory. The present essay argues that those efforts fail and that the Interest Theory and the Will Theory withstand the criticisms that have been levelled against them. To be sure, the criticisms have been valuable in that they have prompted the amplification and clarification of the two dominant theories of rights; but (...) their upshot has been to reveal the need for the improvement, rather than the abandonment, of those theories. (shrink)