What should authorities establish as the job of ethics committees and review boards? Two answers are: review of proposals for consistency with the duly established and applicable code and review of proposals for ethical acceptability. The present paper argues that these two jobs come apart in principle and in practice. On grounds of practicality, publicity and separation of powers, it argues that the relevant authorities do better to establish code-consistency review and not ethics-consistency review. It also rebuts bad code and (...) independence arguments for the opposite view. It then argues that authorities at present variously specify both code-consistency and ethics-consistency jobs, but most are also unclear on this issue. The paper then argues that they should reform the job of review boards and ethics committees, by clearly establishing code-consistency review and disestablishing ethics-consistency review, and through related reform of the basic orientation, focus, name, and expertise profile of these bodies and their actions. (shrink)
We take welfarism in moral theory to be the claim that the well-being of individuals matters and is the only consideration that fundamentally matters, from a moral point of view. We argue that criticisms of welfarism due to G.E. Moore, Donald Regan, Charles Taylor and Amartya Sen all fail. The final section of our paper is a critical survey of the problems which remain for welfarists in moral theory.
The question of realism - that is, whether God exists independently of human beings - is central to much contemporary theology and church life. It is also an important topic in the philosophy of religion. This book discusses the relationship between realism and Christian faith in a thorough and systematic way and uses the resources of both philosophy and theology to argue for a Christocentric narrative realism. Many previous defences of realism have attempted to model Christian belief on scientific theory (...) but Moore argues that this comparison is misleading and inadequate on both theological and philosophical grounds. In dialogue with speech act theory and critiques of realism by both non-realists and Wittgensteinians, a new account of the meaningfulness of Christian language is proposed. Moore uses this to develop a regulative conception of realism according to which God's independent reality is shown principally in Christ and then through Christian practices and the lives of Christians. (shrink)
This paper argues that many leading ethical theories are incomplete, in that they fail to account for both right and wrong. It also argues that some leading ethical theories are inconsistent, in that they allow that an act can be both right and wrong. The paper also considers responses on behalf of the target theories.
Thomas Scanlon influentially argues that, in the provision of reasons to act or believe, goodness and value ‘pass the buck’ to other properties. This paper first extends his arguments: if Scanlon shows that goodness and value pass the buck, then relevantly analogous arguments show that, contrary to Scanlon, duty and wrongness too pass this same buck. The paper then reverses Scanlon’s buck-passing arguments: if they show that goodness and value pass the reason-providing buck, then reasons themselves also pass the buck (...) for providing goodness, value, duty, and wrongness. What to make of all this? The paper argues for scepticism about the significance of Scanlon’s buck-passing arguments for ethics. (shrink)
What job should authorities give to review boards? We are grateful to Soren Holm, Rosamond Rhodes, Julian Savulescu and G Owen Schaefer for their thoughtful commentaries on our answer.1–4 Here we add to the discussion. Let us summarise the claims for which we argued.5 Relevant authorities can task boards with review for consistency with duly established code, thereby making code-consistent activities apt for approval and code-inconsistent activities apt for rejection. They can instead task boards with review for ethical acceptability, making (...) ethically acceptable activities apt for approval and ethically unacceptable activities apt for rejection. For every proposal a board might consider, these two different jobs establish different review bases, and their approvals and rejections also sometimes conflict. Some international and national statements require ECR, others instead require CCR, and others again seem either to require both or just to run the two together. Those responsible for these statements should make them clearer and better aligned here. For reasons of practicality, publicity and separation of powers, authorities do better to task boards with CCR and not ECR. These arguments also count against establishing any code with content that in effect collapses CCR into ECR. If our arguments withstand robust scrutiny, authorities should also remove ‘ethics’ and cognate terms from the names of these boards and their review activities and emphasise code expertise not ethics expertise in the required skill sets of boards. Our article noted that ‘ethical considerations informed the genesis of these boards and express their aspirations’. Rhodes similarly notes: ‘the authors and endorsers of research ethics codes, declarations and regulations … articulating the ethical standards for conducting human subject research’ and ‘This framework embeds the ethical parameters of human subject research into the moral missions of institutions’. Schaefer too …. (shrink)