This book articulates a systematic vision of an international legal system grounded in the commitment to justice for all persons. It provides a probing exploration of the moral issues involved in disputes about secession, ethno-national conflict, "the right of self-determination of peoples," human rights, and the legitimacy of the international legal system itself. Buchanan advances vigorous criticisms of the central dogmas of international relations and international law, arguing that the international legal system should make justice, not simply peace among states, (...) a primary goal, and rejecting the view that it is permissible for a state to conduct its foreign policies exclusively according to what is in the "national interest." He also shows that the only alternatives are not rigid adherence to existing international law or lawless chaos in which the world's one superpower pursues its own interests without constraints. This book not only criticizes the existing international legal order, but also offers morally defensible and practicable principles for reforming it. Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination will find a broad readership in political science, international law, and political philosophy. (shrink)
This book is the most comprehensive treatment available of one of the most urgent--and yet in some respects most neglected--problems in bioethics: decisionmaking for incompetents. Part I develops a general theory for making treatment and care decisions for patients who are not competent to decide for themselves. It provides an in-depth analysis of competence, articulates and defends a coherent set of principles to specify suitable surrogate decisionmakers and to guide their choices, examines the value of advance directives, and investigates the (...) role that considerations of cost ought to play in decisions concerning incompetents. Part II applies this theoretical framework to the distinctive problems of three important classes of individuals, many of whom are incompetent: minors, the elderly, and psychiatric patients. The authors' approach combines a probing analysis of fundamental issues in ethical theory with a sensitive awareness of the concrete realities of health care institutions and the highly personal and individual character of difficult practical problems. Its broad scope will appeal to health professionals, moral philosophers and lawyers alike. (shrink)
All theories of the right to secede either understand the right as a remedial right only or also recognize a primary right to secede. By a right in this context is meant a general, not a special, right (one generated through promising, contract, or some special relationship). Remedial Right Only Theories assert that a group has a general right to secede if and only if it has suffered certain injustices, for which secession is the appropriate remedy of last resort.1 Different (...) Remedial Right Only Theories identify different injustices as warranting the remedy of secession. (shrink)
The authors articulate a global public standard for the normative legitimacy of global governance institutions. This standard can provide the basis for principled criticism of global governance institutions and guide reform efforts in circumstances in which people disagree deeply about the demands of global justice and the role that global governance institutions should play in meeting them.
Appeals to the idea of human nature are frequent in the voluminous literature on the ethics of enhancing human beings through biotechnology. Two chief concerns about the impact of enhancements on human nature have been voiced. The first is that enhancement may alter or destroy human nature. The second is that if enhancement alters or destroys human nature, this will undercut our ability to ascertain the good because, for us, the good is determined by our nature. The first concern assumes (...) that altering or destroying human nature is in itself a bad thing. The second concern assumes that human nature provides a standard without which we cannot make coherent, defensible judgments about what is good. I will argue (1) that there is nothing wrong, per se, with altering or destroying human nature, because, on a plausible understanding of what human nature is, it contains bad as well as good characteristics and there is no reason to believe that eliminating some of the bad would so imperil the good as to make the elimination of the bad impermissible, and (2) that altering or destroying human nature need not result in the loss of our ability to make judgments about the good, because we possess a conception of the good by which we can and do evaluate human nature. I will argue that appeals to human nature tend to obscure rather than illuminate the debate over the ethics of enhancement and can be eliminated in favor of more cogent considerations. (shrink)
Many philosophers invoke the "wisdom of nature" in arguing for varying degrees of caution in the development and use of genetic enhancement technologies. Because they view natural selection as akin to a master engineer that creates functionally and morally optimal design, these authors tend to regard genetic intervention with suspicion. In Part II, we examine and ultimately reject the evolutionary assumptions that underlie the master engineer analogy (MEA). By highlighting the constraints on ordinary unassisted evolution, we show how intentional genetic (...) modification can overcome many of the natural impediments to the human good. Our contention is that genetic engineering offers a solution that is more eff icient, reliable, versatile, and morally palatable than the lumbering juggernaut of Darwinian evolution. In Part III, we evaluate a recent attempt to ground precautionary enhancement heuristics in adaptive etiology. Our problem with this approach is two-fold: first, it is based on the same "strong adaptationist" interpretation of evolution that motivates the flawed MEA, and second, the etiological concept of function on which it relies provides indirect and potentially misleading information about the likely consequences of genetic intervention. We offer instead enhancement criteria based on causal relationships in ontogeny. We conclude that rather than grounding a presumption against deliberate genetic modification, the causal structure of the living world gives us good moral reason to pursue it. (shrink)
Accountability is the key to ensuring the fairness of rules governing the preventive use of force. Buchanan and Keohane propose a scheme that would make those promoting and those rejecting the preventive use of force more accountable.
This book, written by four internationally renowned bioethicists and first published in 2000, was the first systematic treatment of the fundamental ethical issues underlying the application of genetic technologies to human beings. Probing the implications of the remarkable advances in genetics, the authors ask how should these affect our understanding of distributive justice, equality of opportunity, the rights and obligations as parents, the meaning of disability, and the role of the concept of human nature in ethical theory and practice. The (...) book offers a historical context to contemporary debate over the use of these technologies by examining the eugenics movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The questions raised in this book will be of interest to any reflective reader concerned about science and society and the rapid development of biotechnology, as well as to professionals in such areas as philosophy, bioethics, medical ethics, health management, law, and political science. (shrink)
The distinctive aim of applied ethics is to provide guidance as to how we ought to act, as individuals and as shapers of social policies. In this essay, I argue that applied ethics as currently practiced is inadequate and ought to be transformed to incorporate what I shall call social moral epistemology. This is a branch of social epistemology, the study of the social practices and institutions that promote the formation, preservation, and transmission of true beliefs. For example, social epistemologists (...) critically evaluate the comparative advantages of adversarial versus inquisitorial criminal proceedings as mechanisms for the discovery of truth. (shrink)
Much of the debate about the ethics of enhancement has proceeded according to two framing assumptions. The first is that although enhancement carries large social risks, the chief benefits of enhancement are to those who are enhanced (or their parents, in the case of enhancing the traits of children). The second is that, because we now understand the wrongs of state-driven eugenics, enhancements, at least in liberal societies, will be personal goods, chosen or not chosen in a market for enhancement (...) services. This article argues that both framing assumptions must be rejected, once it is understood that some enhancements— especially those that are most likely to garner resources and become widespread— will increase human productivity. Once one appreciates the productivity-increasing potential of enhancements, one can begin to see that enhancement need not be primarily a zero sum affair, that the social costs of forgoing enhancements may be great, and that the state may well take an interest in facilitating biomedical enhancements, just as it does in facilitating education and other productivity-increasing traditional enhancements. Appreciating the productivity-increasing potential of enhancements also makes it possible to view the enhancement debate in a new light, through the lens of the ethics of development. (shrink)
This volume collects Allen Buchanan's previously published articles with a focus on ethics and international law, specifically with regard to human rights, the legitimacy of international institutions, and the ethics of force across borders. The work fits together tightly in its systematic interconnections, and collectively it makes the case for a holistic and systematic approach to issues that are at the forefront of current discussions in political and legal philosophy- issues that have traditionally been seen as separate.
abstract Part 1 of this essay argues that one of the most important contributions of philosophers to sound public policy may be to combat the influence of bad Philosophy (which includes, but is not limited to, bad Philosophy produced by accredited academic philosophers). Part 2 argues that the conventional conception of Practical Ethics (CPE) that philosophers bring to issues of public policy is defective because it fails to take seriously the phenomenon of the subversion of morality, the role of false (...) factual beliefs in this subversion, and the vulnerability to the exploitation of our moral powers that our social-epistemic dependency entails. Given the serious risks of the subversion of morality through the propagation of false factual beliefs, CPE's near exclusive emphasis on identifying sound moral principles greatly constrains its potential contribution to the Negative Task of Practical Ethics, the endeavour to reduce the incidence of the most grievously wrong behaviour. Practical ethicists should focus more on the ethics of believing, and develop a more sophisticated conception of the moral and epistemic virtues of individuals and of institutions, one that includes protective meta-virtues, whose function it is to guard us against the more frequent and predictable subversions of morality, including those subversions that are facilitated by the processes of belief-formation that our social institutions and practices foster. (shrink)
In Better than Human, noted bioethicist Allen Buchanan grapples with the ethical dilemmas of the medical revolution and biomedical enhancements. One problem, he argues, is that the debate over these enhancements has divided into polar extremes--into denunciations of meddling in the natural order, or else a heady optimism that we can cure all that ails humanity. In fact, Buchanan notes, the human genome has always been unstable, and intervention is no offense against nature.
Ethical problems in business include not only genuine moral dilemmas and compliance problems but also problems arising from the distinctive characteristics of imperfect duties. Collective action by business to perfect imperfect duties can yield significant benefits. Sucharrrangements can reduce temptations to moral laxity, achieve greater efficiency by eliminating redundancies and gaps that plague uncoordinated individual efforts, reap economies of scale and achieve success where benefits can be provided only if a certain threshold of resources can be brought to bear on (...) a social problem; solve assurance problems where voluntary compliance by some parties depends upon their perception that competitors are doing their fair share, and produce higher levels of contribution than would occur through independent action in response to imperfect duties, stimulated by the perception that there is a fair distribution of burdens of contribution among all parties involved. (shrink)
This book brings together ten influential essays on justice and healthcare, written by a major figure in bioethics and political philosophy. What emerges is a systematic and unified approach to the issues that challenges widely-held dogmas and unsettles the framing assumptions of a number of prominent debates. Unlike most work in bioethics, this book takes the problem of implementing justice seriously, exploring the relationship between institutions, incentives, and moral commitments.
Traditional conservative arguments against the possibility of moral progress relied on underevidenced assumptions about the limitations of human nature. Contemporary thinkers have attempted to fill this empirical gap in the conservative argument by appealing to evolutionary science. Such “evoconservative” arguments fail because they overstate the explanatory reach of evolutionary theory. We maintain that no adequate evolutionary explanation has been given for important features of human morality, namely cosmopolitan and other “inclusivist” moral commitments. We attribute these evolutionarily anomalous features to a (...) capacity for open-ended normativity, which presents a serious obstacle to theorists who wish to draw substantive moral and political lessons from human evolutionary history. (shrink)
This essay articulates a crucial and neglected element of a general theory of the ethics of bureaucratic organizations, both private andpublic. The key to the approach developed here is the thesis that the distinctive ethical principles applicable to bureaucratic organizations are responses to the distinctive agency-risks that arise from the nature of bureaucratic organizations as complex webs of principal/agent relationships. It is argued that the most important and distinctive ethical principles for bureaucratic organizations express commitments on the part of bureaucrats (...) that function to reduce the agency risks that are inherent in such organizations. This approach to the ethics of bureaucratic organizations is shown to be more illuminating than those that concentrate exclusively or primarily on determining the conditions for corporate responsibility or on the idea that the ethical obligations distinctive of bureaucracies are role-derived. (shrink)
: Pharmacogenetics offers the prospect of an era of safer and more effective drugs, as well as more individualized use of drug therapies. Before the benefits of pharmacogenetics can be realized, the ethical issues that arise in research and clinical application of pharmacogenetic technologies must be addressed. The ethical issues raised by pharmacogenetics can be addressed under six headings: regulatory oversight, confidentiality and privacy, informed consent, availability of drugs, access, and clinicians' changing responsibilities in the era of pharmacogenetic medicine. We (...) analyze each of these categories of ethical issues and provide policy approaches for addressing them. (shrink)
Ethical problems in business include not only genuine moral dilemmas and compliance problems but also problems arising from the distinctive characteristics of imperfect duties. Collective action by business to perfect imperfect duties can yield significant benefits. Sucharrrangements can (1) reduce temptations to moral laxity, (2) achieve greater efficiency by eliminating redundancies and gaps that plague uncoordinated individual efforts, (3) reap economies of scale and achieve success where benefits can be provided only if a certain threshold of resources can be brought (...) to bear on a social problem; (4) solve assurance problems where voluntary compliance by some parties depends upon their perception that competitors are doing their fair share, and (5) produce higher levels of contribution than would occur through independent action in response to imperfect duties, stimulated by the perception that there is a fair distribution of burdens of contribution among all parties involved. (shrink)
The Nobel prize-winning molecular biologist Walter Gilbert described the mapping and sequencing of the human genome as “the grail of molecular biology.” The implication, endorsed by enthusiasts for the new genetics, is that possessing a comprehensive knowledge of human genetics, like possessing the Holy Grail, will give us miraculous powers to heal the sick, and to reduce human suffering and disabilities. Indeed, the rhetoric invoked to garner public support for the Human Genome Project appears to appeal to the best of (...) the Western tradition's enthusiasm for progress: the idea of improving human lives through the practical application of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
We consider two different types of alternatives to the Security Council for authorizing military action across borders: a democratic coalition and a precommitment regime, by which a state could authorize intervention within its territory in advance and designate the intervenors.
There are several reasons for the current prominence of global health issues. Among the most important is the growing awareness that some risks to health are global in scope and can only be countered by global cooperation. In addition, human rights discourse and, more generally, the articulation of a coherent cosmopolitan ethical perspective that acknowledges the importance of all persons, regardless of where they live, provide a normative basis for taking global health seriously as a moral issue. In this paper (...) we begin the task of translating the vague commitment to doing something to improve global health into a coherent set of more determinate obligations. One chief conclusion of our inquiry is that the responsibilities of states regarding global health are both more determinate and more extensive than is usually assumed. We also argue, however, that institutional innovation will be needed to achieve a more comprehensive, fair distribution of concrete responsibilities regarding global health and to provide effective mechanisms for holding various state and nonstate actors accountable for fulfilling them. (shrink)
There is a puzzling disconnect between recent philosophical literature on equality and the modern theory and practice of human rights. This disconnect is puzzling because the modern human rights movement is arguably the most salient and powerful manifestation of the commitment to equality in our time. One likely source of this disconnect is the tendency of contributors to the philosophical literature on equality to focus on justice within the state, considered in isolation. This article begins the task of connection. Section (...) II outlines a philosophical conception of human rights, the Modest Objectivist View, according to which the list of human rights is grounded in descriptive and normative egalitarian assumptions about what is required to help ensure that every individual has the opportunity for a minimally good or decent human life. Next, I explore the resources of the Modest Objectivist View for rationally reconstructing the conventional conception of human rights. Section III examines challenges to the Modest Objectivist Views egalitarian assumptions. Section IV explores the question of whether the minimal egalitarianism of the Modest Objectivist View is compatible with the more robust egalitarianisms advanced in recent philosophical literature. I conclude that the minimalist egalitarianism of human rights is compatible with more robust egalitarian principles, once we understand the distinctive function of human rights as standards of transnational justice. Key Words: basic interests decent human life egalitarianism equality minimally good life Modest Objectivist View minimalism opportunity for a decent life transnational justice. (shrink)