Abstract:In this paper, I suggest that the moral incompetence in narcissism is associated with a particular type of emotional incompetence, namely the incompetence to experience the moral emotions, such as empathy, solidarity, loyalty, or love. I then move on to discussing the ethical ramifications of this incompetence, primarily from the point of view of sentimentalist ethics, and conclude that emotional incompetence does not in fact reduce the moral responsibility of a narcissist person, whether diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or not. (...) My argument is based on the three criteria of moral responsibility proposed by Philip Pettit, namely those of value relevance, value judgment, and value sensitivity. I suggest that a sentimentalist ethical perspective entails that the satisfaction of two of the mentioned criteria (awareness of the social meaning of one’s choices and sufficient control of one’s actions) constitutes a moral obligation for the agent to satisfy the third criterion, namely to develop the appropriate moral sensibility and competence to actually choose morally correctly. This type of structure of obligation elucidates why narcissism is at the same time a moral failure and a psychopathology. At the same time, my argument portrays narcissism as a particular type of personality disturbance that almost uniquely reaffirms the role of moral re-education as the psychotherapeutic approach. This conclusion points to a potential revival of some of the precepts of Pinel’s affective psycho-pathology, dating back to the very beginnings of the psychotherapeutic clinic. (shrink)
The paper discusses the manner and extent to which Epicurean ethics can serve as a general philosophy of life, capable of supporting philosophical practice in the form of philosophical counseling. Unlike the modern age academic philosophy, the philosophical practice movement portrays the philosopher as a personal or corporate adviser, one who helps people make sense of their experiences and find optimum solutions within the context of their values and general preferences. Philosophical counseling may rest on almost any school of philosophy, (...) ranging — in the Western tradition from Platonism to the philosophy of language or logic. While any specialist school of philosophy may serve valuable purposes by elucidating specific aspects of one’s experiences and directing future action, the more ‘generalist’ the philosophy used as the basis for counseling is, the broader and more far-reaching its potential impact on the person undergoing counseling. Epicurean ethics is a prime example of a philosophy of life that is suitable for philosophical counseling today. Its closer examination reveals that, contrary to superficial opinion, it is not opposed to Stoicism and may in fact incorporate Stoicism and its antecedent virtues (including many Christian virtues) in a simple yet comprehensive practical system of directions for modern counseling. (shrink)
Joseph Agassi’s last book, The Philosophy of Practical Affairs, offers a comprehensive look at key philosophical topics and doctrines with a common focus on the role of rationality, the evolution of rationality and the relationship between rationality and akin phenomena. A key topic he addresses is the relationship between rationality and magic. This dichotomy reverberates on a number of areas of applied philosophy, including philosophical practice and philosophically informed psychotherapy. Agassi’s views on magic offer a fundamentally rationalist view of the (...) phenomenon of magic, however they open up significant inroads into nuanced insights of how magic can be seen as a cognitively significant complement to rationality in the strict sense. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Why Narcissists Are Morally ResponsibleAleksandar Fatic, PhDIn his insightful commentary of ‘Narcissism as a moral incompetence,’ Professor Pies proposes several principal objections to my line of argument. First, Pies mentions that I embrace a Platonic essentialism and a ‘binary’ view of narcissism, whilst in fact narcissistic traits present themselves in degrees, within a continuum of pathology.Let us clarify the meaning of essentialism. When applied to the phenomenology of narcissism, (...) Platonic essentialism would imply that there is an idea, or ideal, of ‘pure’ narcissism, which governs our cognition of narcissistic phenomenology. Without an ‘essentialist’ understanding of what narcissism as a more or less pure phenomenon would look like, it would make no semantic or logical sense to speak of various ‘types’ or ‘degrees’ of narcissism. In the 1940s, in The Concept of Mind, Gilbert Ryle offered the now infamous logical analysis of ‘false’ and ‘true coins’: if there were not true coins of which we had some idea, it would be logically impossible to speak of counterfeit coins (McDermid, 2004; Ryle, 1949, pp. 94–99). There are shoddily produced coins that bear only a vague resemblance to the original idea or mint of the real coin, however, for each we would ultimately have to decide whether the resemblance is sufficient for it to be considered a real coin. Shoddily produced coins represent various ‘degrees’ of resemblance of the idea, or form, of a coin, but to call them coins, and to decide whether they are true coins or not, it is a logical presupposition that we must first have an ‘idea’ of what an ‘ideal’ real coin is like. This, at its core, is essentialism.There is no escape from this type of essentialism in any rigorous argument, because Platonic essentialism is the foundation of the very meanings of the concepts we use. Plato’s ideas are paradigms, where the particular instantiations of their qualities are called ‘phenomena’ (Sedley, 2016; Taylor, 2016). Thus, the nuanced expression of ideas or forms in their various phenomena is the very substance of the essentialist theory of ideas. It appears that Professor Pies is also a Platonic essentialist, as am I.So why is it often impossible in clinical practice to ascribe necessary and sufficient conditions to narcissism? Well, let us remember Rosenhan’s experiments (1973). Rosenhan illustrates how the same individuals were diagnosed with very different disorders by different clinicians at roughly the same time, and how healthy individuals, once they had been instructed to ‘fake’ psychotic symptoms, remained under the same or more serious [End Page 177] diagnoses even when they stopped pretending and behaved completely normally. The reason for the arbitrariness of psych-diagnoses is the insufficiency of the psych-diagnostic language, including the actual diagnostic criteria, a kind of Lacanian ‘lack’ that is built into the very structure of psychodiagnostics (Ruti, 2008), and not a metaphysics behind such use of diagnostic language, whether it is essentialist or non-essentialist. Whether a particular patient actually has NPD or not in practice comes down to a consensual judgement—one that has been notoriously lacking in the history of psychiatry (Verhaeghe, 2008, pp. 71–125).Second, Pies suggests that empathy is ‘a complex, multidimensional construct comprising cognitive and affective components.’ I do not think this is a correct understanding of empathy. In fact, it is a conceptual revision of the original concept of empathy, which is one of a moral emotion (Kauppinen, 2014). What Pies calls ‘cognitive empathy,’ namely the ability to recognize and influence the emotions of others is an entirely different quality capacity that has recently been called ‘emotional intelligence’ (e.g., Conte, 2005). Many Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by an exceptionally high emotional intelligence and an almost complete lack of empathy, which allows them to use their emotional intelligence to manipulate and mistreat others. Surely such emotionally intelligent, but highly malignant strategies would not be considered ‘empathy.”Relatedly, Pies objects to Slote’s alleged view that only actions arising from factual empathy are morally justifiable. This is a ‘naturalist fallacy’ in reading Slote. The natural fallacy is a confusion between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought.’ Slote actually argues that only actions that are consistent with... (shrink)
While most discussions of corruption focus on administration, institutions, the law and public policy, little attention in the debate about societal reform is paid to the “internalities” of anti-corruption efforts, specifically to character-formation and issues of personal and corporate integrity. While the word “integrity” is frequently mentioned as the goal to be achieved through institutional reforms, even in criminal prosecutions, the specifically philosophical aspects of character-formation and the development of corporate and individual virtues in a rational and systematic way tend (...) to be neglected. This paper focuses on the “internalities” of anti-corruption work with special emphasis on the pre-requisites that need to be ensured on behalf of the social elites in order for proper individual and collective character- formation to take place throughout the society. The author argues that a systematic pursuit of socially recognised virtues, both those pertaining to society as a whole and those specific to particular professions and social groups, is the most comprehensive and strategically justified way of pursuing anti-corruption policy, while institutional and penal policies can only serve an auxiliary role. The pursuit of institutional and criminal justice policies against corruption in a society that is subject to increasing relativism with regard to values and morality is at best ineffective, and at worst socially destructive. Thus the paper suggests a re-examination of the social discourse on the level of what the author calls “value strategy” and the gradual building of a plan to create and solidify specifically designed features of “corporate character” for key sectors of the society. This approach can serve as the main long-term strategy to improve the public profile of integrity and reinforce morality in both the public and civil sectors. (shrink)
The paper discusses three aspects of belonging to religious systems of belief within a modern liberal society, namely (1) the sincerity and consistency of belief, (2) the possibility of exteriorization of belief through broader social interactions or transactions, and (3) the relationship between religious belief and the modern concept of affirmative tolerance, or affirmation of differences, which has become a pronounced public policy in multicultural liberal societies. The author argues that, while negative tolerance allows sincere religious belief to flourish in (...) the private sphere and for benevolence to be shown to those who are seen as mistaken in their beliefs, affirmative tolerance opens an array of logical issues. The demand to extend potential substantive validation to opposed beliefs produces the ricochet effect of de-validating one’s own beliefs. This creates difficulties for religious communities when issues at stake are beliefs that, in the respective belief-systems, are definitive of the moral goodness and moral badness. Upon a more careful examination of the logical relations between the soteriological promises characteristic of what is sometimes called the ‘substantive’ layer of religiousness, on the one hand, and the public expectation of a tolerant coexistence of religious communities on a social level, on the other hand, it becomes clear that the tolerance required can only be a negative tolerance. Any expectation of affirmative tolerance de-values the soteriological script of the respective system of religious belief, and is thus likely to lead to serious disturbances in a liberal context of multi-cultural coexistence. The author argues that the recent political announcements of a ‘failure of the multicultural experiment’ are caused by the aggressive pursuit of ‘affirmative tolerance’ rather than by any in-built intolerance of others in any of the large religious belief systems now prevalent in the liberal democratic world. (shrink)
The need for philosophical practice to integrate various methods, both conceptual and those based on the use of emotions, raises the question as to whether its methodology is necessarily eclectic, in terms of the collection of various methodologies used in philosophy, or whether there is a way to move beyond eclecticism. This is the main subject of this paper. In other words, the question is whether there is such a thing as an ‘integrative’ methodology and, if so, what distinguishes such (...) a method from mere eclecticism. In this text, we define the methodological procedure of integrativeness as the process of systematizing perspectives into an orientational answer to the demands of a specific problem. What differentiates such an approach from mere summation is a new contribution that results from a synergistic and systematic meeting of positions and argumentations whose final result differs from its initial elements. Diversity in the form of a multidimensional relationship towards life and the world results in numerous perspectives, which is a value that should be cultivated and integrated into a reflective and actional perception of the world. (shrink)
The essay examines the central role that pleasure plays in a wide range of conceptualisations of happiness or ‘good life’, from Epicurean hedonism, to Christian asceticism, to contemporary cases of pastoral and philosophical counselling. Despite the apparent moral chasm between hedonists and ascetics, a look at the practices promoted by Epicurus and the Christian monastic fathers reveals striking similarities. The reason is that, at a fundamental level, both parties agree that one should reject the vulgar pleasures that society glorifies, and (...) develop a refined attitude that seeks the appropriate and natural pleasures, while ignoring the harmful or unnecessary ones. And such an attitude can only be acquired through moral training, either by philosophical instruction and reflection, or by pastoral counselling. We highlight some important parallels regarding the connection between pleasure and happiness, as conceived by Epicureans and monastic fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. We begin by discussing elements of Epicureanism that can also be found in its rival philosophical schools and Christianity, mainly the emphasis on forming the right conception of happiness and acting in accordance with it. We then examine the connection between morality and happiness in the Christian Orthodox monasticism. We argue that Christian ascetic ethics not only condone some types of pleasures, but in fact require them as elements of happiness in this life that play an instrumental role for the Christian soteriological dogma. The argument has wider philosophical significance because it shows that pleasure is indeed a fundamental conceptual ingredient of happiness across different normative ethical contexts. (shrink)
The book provides a comparative analysis of the criminal justice systems in the post-Communist 'transitional' countries of Eastern Europe and examines the underlying value-matrix for changes in the various aspects of these systems.
The book explores the communicative and deliberative context for punishment and discusses the extent to which institutional punishment is an implicit language, conveying not only the values and norms, but also the collective experience and collective expectations of a community.
The paper examines the potential of sympathy as defined by Max Scheler to found a normative ethics. Scheler perceives sympathy in predominantly instinctivist terms, and insists that, while it accounts for a comprehensive range of human interactions, it cannot be a basis for ethics. However, Scheler does not convincingly argue against an ethics of sympathy. A closer examination of his account of sympathy reveals that this account in fact suggests a strong possibility of an ethics of sympathy, which would also (...) encompass other segments of Scheler's systematic view of sympathy, including seeing sympathy as a foundation for cognition, emotions, and a certain a priori collective knowledge. (shrink)
The book is a collection of essays in philosophy of language. The connecting theme of the essays is that they explore the reach and role of conventions in facilitating both communication and the normative evaluation of actions and expressions.
The paper deals with a perspective of Christian philosophy on artificial memory erasuse for psychotherapeutic purposes. Its central question is whether a safe and reliable technology of memory erasure, once it is available, would be acceptable from a Christian ethics point of view. The main facet of this question is related to the Christian ethics requirement of contrition for the past wrongs, which in the case of memory erasure of particulary troubling experiences and personal choices would not be possible. The (...) paper argues that there are limits to the ethical significance of contrition in the writings of the leading Christian fathers on the theme, where excessive suffering and inability to forgive oneself for one’s actions is an impediment to the achivement of tranquility of mind and spiritual redemption, rather than a prerequisite for it. The paper thus concludes that there is no hindrance in principle from the Christian ethics point of view to pursuing a voluntary and selective memory erasure as a psychotherapeutic technique once a fully adequate technology is available. (shrink)
This paper examines the conceptual matrix of philosophical counseling, and philosophical practice generally, which distinguishes philosophical practice from mainstream theoretical philosophy. I argue that the essence of philosophical practice is the realization and radicalization of Pierre Hadot’s paradigmshifting view of ‘Philosophy as a Way of Life,’ through the projection of philosophical concepts and methods to the goal of attainment of the good life by moral education and character-building. The base-line concept of the good life that the paper works with is (...) the relatively uncontroversial concept of a life based on sustained reflected pleasures that are both socially desirable and individually fulfilling. I argue that this type of concept of the good life as qualified pleasure is inherent in any doctrinal account of what it is to lead a good life, including the ones that emphasise asceticism, such as Christian philosophy of life and ethics. Finally the paper concludes that projections of the good life by philosophical counselors are reflective on philosophical counselor themselves: philosophical counseling is a way of ‘the good life’ that aims to use the resources of philosophy as a whole to help others build the moral qualities and character required to reach their own good lives. By projecting philosophical concepts and methods to the applied conceptual matrix of moral education and the good life, philosophical counseling emancipates philosophy as a whole from its current remoteness and isolation into an active, and reflective, role in the real lives of ordinary people. This heralds a paradigm shift in philosophy, from the pseudo-science that much of mainstream philosophy painstakingly pretends to be to an intellectual powerhouse for the enhancement of the quality, clarity and integrity of life, which was the reason philosophy initially emerged for, both in the Western and in the Eastern philosophical traditions. (shrink)
The paper discusses the conceptualisation of mental disorder as a representation, rather than an illness, and relates this perspective to the modern understanding of mental health as a healthy »narrative« or life story. The author proceeds to briefly consider the evolution of concepts of illness in psychiatry and a gradual reappearance of Lacanian psychoanalysis and psychiatry. The key concepts of Lacanian psychotherapy pave the way to a growing together of standard psychotherapy and modern philosophical practice within the novel concept of (...) integrative psychotherapy. (shrink)
The paper explores the extent to which Epicurean ethics as a general philosophy of life can be integrated in a composite pragmatist approach to philosophical counseling. Epicureanism emerged in a historical era that was very different from the modern time and addressed a different philosophical ethos of the time. This alone makes it difficult for Epicureanism to satisfy all of the normative criteria for a modern ethics. On the other hand, the paper discusses aspects of the modern ‘external’, duty- and (...) demand-driven ethics that may contribute to the emergence of some of the main issues for modern philosophical counseling. The author points out aspects of Epicurean ethics that are potentially powerful tools to address the issues of mood and meaning in philosophical counseling, and thus serve as a contemporary complement to a complex duty-bound, yet pragmatist view of ethics. (shrink)
While most discussions of corruption focus on administration, institutions, the law and public policy, little attention in the debate about societal reform is paid to the?internalities? of anti-corruption efforts, specifically to character-formation and issues of personal and corporate integrity. While the word?integrity? is frequently mentioned as the goal to be achieved through institutional reforms, even in criminal prosecutions, the specifically philosophical aspects of character-formation and the development of corporate and individual virtues in a rational and systematic way tend to be (...) neglected. This paper focuses on the?internalities? of anti-corruption work with special emphasis on the pre-requisites that need to be ensured on behalf of the social elites in order for proper individual and collective character-formation to take place throughout the society. The author argues that a systematic pursuit of socially recognized virtues, both those pertaining to society as a whole and those specific to particular professions and social groups, is the most comprehensive and strategically justified way of pursuing anti-corruption policy, while institutional and penal policies can only serve an auxiliary role. The pursuit of institutional and criminal justice policies against corruption in a society that is subject to increasing relativism with regard to values and morality is at best ineffective, and at worst socially destructive. Thus the paper suggests a re-examination of the social discourse on the level of what the author calls?value strategy? and the gradual building of a plan to create and solidify specifically designed features of?corporate character? for key sectors of the society. This approach can serve as the main long-term strategy to improve the public profile of integrity and reinforce morality in both the public and civil sectors. Aktuelne rasprave o korupciji vecinom su usredsredjene na pitanja o administraciji, institucijama, pravu i javnoj politici. Istovremeno, nedovoljno paznje se poklanja raspravi o unutrasnjim faktorima antikorupcijskih napora u drustvenim reformama. S jedne strane, rec?integritet? se cesto pominje kao cilj koji institucionalnim reformama treba postici. S druge strane, medjutim, specificno filozofski aspekti formiranja karaktera i razvijanja korporativnih i individualnih vrlina, na racionalan i sistematski nacin, uglavnom se zanemaruju. Ovaj tekst se bavi unutrasnjim faktorima antikorupcijskog delovanja, sa posebnim naglaskom na pretpostavke formiranja individualnog i kolektivnog karaktera cije je ostvarivanje u rukama drustvenih elita. Autor argumentise da je sistematsko unapredjivanje drustveno prepoznatih vrlina, kako onih koji se odnose na celo drustvo, tako i onih koje su specificne za pojedine profesije i drustvene grupe, najobuhvatniji i strateski najopravdaniji nacin za sprovodjenje antikorupcijske politike, dok institucionalna, a posebno kaznena politika, mogu igrati samo dopunsku ulogu. Naglasavanje institucionalne, a posebno krivicno-pravne politike, u jednom drustvu koje inace karakterise moralni i vrednosni relativizam, u najboljem slucaju je neefikasno, a u najgorem slucaju drustveno destruktivno. Stoga se u tekstu sugerise preispitivanje drustvenog diskursa na nivou onoga sto autor naziva?vrednosnom strategijom? i postepena izgradnja i ucvrscivanje posebno odredjenih aspekata?korporativnog karaktera? za pojedine kljucne sektore drustva. Ovaj pristup moze biti dugorocna drustvena strategija za unapredjivanje javnog profila integriteta i za jacanje morala kako u javnom, tako i u privatnom i gradjanskom delu drustva. (shrink)
A resurgence of scholarly work on proof of God?s existence is noticeable over the past decade, with considerable emphasis on attempts to provide?analytic proof? based on the meanings and logic of various identity statements which constitute premises of the syllogisms of the?proof?. Most recently perhaps, Emmanuel Rutten?s?modal-epistemic proof? has drawn serious academic attention. Like other?analytic? and strictly logical proofs of God?s existence, Rutten?s proof has been found flawed. In this paper I discuss the possibility of an?ethics-based? identity proof of God?s (...) existence. Such a proof, the first version of which, I believe, has been offered, indirectly, by Nikolai Lossky, utilizes the form and structure of the analytic proof, but fundamentally rests on the perception of moral values we associate with God and Godliness. The nature of the proof shifts the focus of the very attempt to?prove? God?s existence from what I believe is an unreasonable standard, unattainable even in?proving? the existence of the more mundane world, towards a more functional, practical and attainable standard. The proof proposed initially by Lossky, and in a more systematic form here, I believe, shows the indubitable existence of God in the sense of his moral presence in the lives of the faithful, at least with the same degree of certainty as the presence or?existence? of anything else that can be epistemically proven in principle. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss John Searle?s selective view of intentionality of mental states, and place it in the context of impairment to personal identity that occurs in mental illness. I criticize Searle?s view that intentionality characterizes some but not all mental states; I do so both on principled and on empirical grounds. I then proceed to examine the narrative theory of self, advanced by Paul Ricoeur, Marya Schechtman and others, and explore the extent to which the theory fits a (...) more generalized view of intentionality that would apply to all mental states. This discussion is followed by a brief consideration of the way in which the modern DSM-based psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, reductively and mechanistically, dispenses with the issues of?strong ontology?, namely the life events and values that mental states might in fact reach for, even when ostensibly without reference. In this sense, DSM-inspired psychiatry is based on a Searlian view of mental states. It is contrasted with the narrative theory of self which, rather than defining madness by clusters of symptoms, seeks to understand the underlying ontology of reference by looking for both the initial script of the person?s?life narrative? and for ruptures and knots in that narrative that might give rise to madness. Finally I discuss and evaluate the perspective of personality enhancement through counseling aimed at repairing the personal narrative. nema. (shrink)