Philosophy and Kafka is a collection of original essays interrogating the relationship of literature and philosophy. The essays either discuss specific philosophical commentaries on Kafka’s work, consider the possible relevance of certain philosophical outlooks for examining Kafka’s writings, or examine Kafka’s writings in terms of a specific philosophical theme, such as communication and subjectivity, language and meaning, knowledge and truth, the human/animal divide, justice, and freedom.
Moral Realism is a systematic defence of the idea that there are objective moral standards. Russ Shafer-Landau argues that there are moral principles that are true independently of what anyone, anywhere, happens to think of them. His central thesis, as well as the many novel supporting arguments used to defend it, will spark much controversy among those concerned with the foundations of ethics.
This paper reconstructs what I take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism. The argument claims that given the extent of evolutionary influence on our moral faculties, and assuming the truth of moral realism, it would be a massive coincidence were our moral faculties reliable ones. Given this coincidence, any presumptive warrant enjoyed by our moral beliefs is defeated. So if moral realism is true, then we can have no warranted moral beliefs, and (...) hence no moral knowledge. In response, I first develop what is perhaps the most natural reply on behalf of realism namely, that many of our highly presumptively warranted moral beliefs are immune to evolutionary influence and so can be used to assess and eventually resuscitate the epistemic merits of those that have been subject to such influence. I then identify five distinct ways in which the charge of massive coincidence has been understood and defended. I argue that each interpretation is subject to serious worries. If I am right, these putative defeaters are themselves subject to defeat. Thus many of our moral beliefs continue to be highly warranted, even if moral realism is true. (shrink)
Our project in this essay is to showcase nonnaturalistic moral realism’s resources for responding to metaphysical and epistemological objections by taking the view in some new directions. The central thesis we will argue for is that there is a battery of substantive moral propositions that are also nonnaturalistic conceptual truths. We call these propositions the moral fixed points. We will argue that they must find a place in any system of moral norms that applies to beings like us, in worlds (...) similar to our own. By committing themselves to true propositions of these sorts, nonnaturalists can fashion a view that is highly attractive in its own right, and resistant to the most prominent objections that have been pressed against it. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: The good life -- Hedonism : its powerful appeal -- Is happiness all that matters? -- Getting what you want -- Problems for the desire theory -- Part II: Doing the right thing -- Morality and religion -- Natural law theory -- Psychological egoism -- Ethical egoism -- Consequentialism : its nature and attractions -- Consequentialism : its difficulties -- The kantian perspective : fairness and justice -- The kantian perspective : autonomy and respect -- The (...) social contract tradition : theory and attractions -- The social contract tradition : problems and prospects -- Ethical pluralism and absolute moral rules -- Ethical pluralism : prima facie duties and ethical particularism -- Virtue ethics -- Feminist ethics -- Part III: The status of morality -- Ethical relativism -- Moral nihilism -- Ten arguments against moral objectivity. (shrink)
Since September 11, 2001, many people in the United States have been more inclined to use the language of good and evil, and to be more comfortable with the idea that certain moral standards are objective (true independently of what anyone happens to think of them). Some people, especially those who are not religious, are not sure how to substantiate this view. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? provides a basis for exploring these doubts and ultimately defends the objectivity of (...) ethics. Engaging and accessible, it is the first introduction to meta-ethics written especially for students and general readers with no philosophical background. Focusing on the issues at the foundation of morality, it poses such questions as: How can we know what is right and wrong? Does ethical objectivity require God? Why should I be moral? Where do moral standards come from? What is a moral value, and how can it exist in a scientific world? Do cultural diversity and persistent moral disagreement support moral skepticism? Writing in a clear and lively style and employing many examples to illustrate theoretical arguments, Russ Shafer-Landau identifies the many weaknesses in contemporary moral skepticism and devotes considerable attention to presenting, and critiquing, the most difficult objections to his view. Also included in the book are a helpful summary of all the major arguments covered, as well as a glossary of key philosophical terms. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? is ideal for a variety of philosophy courses and compelling reading for anyone interested in ethics. (shrink)
In his paper, ‘A critique of religious fictionalism’, Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, ‘Can an atheist believe in God?’. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
Although John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice does not deal specifically with the ethics of environmental concerns, it can generally be applied to give justification for the prudent and continent use of our natural resources. The argument takes two forms: one dealing with the immediate effects of environmental impact and the other, delayed effects. Immediate effects, which impact the present society, should besubject to environmental controls because they affect health and opportunity, social primary goods to be dispensed by society. Delayed (...) environmental impacts, affecting future generations, are also subject to control because future generations have a just claim upon our natural resources-the generation to which a person belongs is an arbitrary contingency which should not exclude persons not yet born from consideration in the original contract of society. (shrink)
In this essay I describe how contractarianism might approach interspecies welfare conflicts. I start by discussing a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. I argue that contractors can agree to norms that would acknowledge the “moral standing” of some animals. I then discuss how the norms emerging from contractarian agreement might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement is likely to express some partiality to humans in a way that discounts the welfare of (...) some or all animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve depending upon how the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (shrink)
_Ethical Theory: An Anthology_ is an authoritative collection of key essays by top scholars in the field, addressing core issues including consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, as well as traditionally underrepresented topics such as moral knowledge and moral responsibility. Brings together seventy-six classic and contemporary pieces by renowned philosophers, from classic writing by Hume and Kant to contemporary writing by Derek Parfit, Susan Wolf, and Judith Jarvis Thomson Guides students through key areas in the field, among them consequentialism, deontology, contractarianism, (...) and virtue ethics Includes coverage of metaethics, normative ethics, and practical ethics Reaches beyond traditional texts by also including important, but usually underrepresented, topics such as moral knowledge, moral standing, moral responsibility, and ethical particularism Raises questions about the status and rational authority of morality. (shrink)
The traditional conception of ethical theory sees it as the project of developing a coherent set of rules from which one can infer all determinate moral verdicts. I am not optimistic about the prospects for constructing such a theory. To explain this pessimism, we need to understand what moral rules are and what roles they might play in ethical theory.
In this paper I offer two arguments designed to defend the existence of categorical reasons, which I define as those justifying considerations that obtain independently of their relation to an agent's commitments. The first argument is based on certain paradigm cases meant to reveal difficulties for practical instrumentalism—the view, as I define it here, that categorical reasons do not exist, because all reasons must serve the commitments of the agents to whom they apply. The second argument relies on considerations of (...) responsibility and blame to establish the existence of categorical reasons. (shrink)
Andrew Collier is the boldest defender of objectivity - in science, knowledge, thought, action, politics, morality and religion. In this tribute and acknowledgement of the influence his work has had on a wide readership, his colleagues show that they have been stimulated by his thinking and offer challenging responses. This wide-ranging book covers key areas with which defenders of objectivity often have to engage. Sections are devoted to the following: 'objectivity of value', 'objectivity and everyday knowledge', 'objectivity in political (...) economy', 'objectivity and reflexivity', 'objectivity, postmodernism and feminism', 'objectivity and nature'. The diverse contributions range from social and political thought to philosophy, reflecting the central themes of Collier's work. (shrink)
There are striking parallels, largely unexplored in the literature, between skeptical arguments against theism and against moral realism. After sketching four arguments meant to do this double duty, I restrict my attention to an explanatory argument that claims that we have most reason to deny the existence of moral facts (and so, by extrapolation, theistic ones), because such putative facts have no causal-explanatory power. I reject the proposed parity, and offer reasons to think that the potential vulnerabilities of moral realism (...) on this front are quite different from those of the theist. Key Words: causal power explanatory power Gilbert Harman moral facts moral realism theism. (shrink)
I criticize an important argument of Michael Smith, from his recent book The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). Smith's argument, if sound, would undermine one form of moral externalism 2013 that which insists that moral judgements only contingently motivate their authors. Smith claims that externalists must view good agents as always prompted by the motive of duty, and that possession of such a motive impugns the goodness of the agent. I argue (i) that externalists do not (ordinarily) need to assign (...) moral agents such as a motive, and (ii) that possession of this motive, when properly understood, is morally admirable. (shrink)
This important collection of essays by Andrew Feenberg presents his critical theory of technology, an innovative approach to philosophy and sociology of technology based on a synthesis of ideas drawn from STS and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. The volume includes chapters on citizenship, modernity, and Heidegger and Marcuse.
By what steps, historically, did morality emerge? Our remote ancestors evolved into social animals. Sociality requires, among other things, restraints on disruptive sexual, hostile, aggressive, vengeful, and acquisitive behavior. Since we are innately social and not social by convention, we can assume the biological evolution of the emotional equipment – numerous predispositions to want, fear, feel anxious or secure – required for social living, just as we can assume cultural evolution of various means to control antisocial behavior and reinforce the (...) prosocial kind. Small clans consisting, say, of several extended families whose members cooperated in hunting, gathering, defense, and child-rearing could not exist without a combination of innate and social restraints on individual behavior. I shall argue for a naturalistic theory of morality, by which I do not mean the definitional claims G.E. Moore sought to refute, but a broader and more complex theory that maintains that a sufficient understanding of human nature, history, and culture can fully explain morality; that nothing is left hanging. A theory that coherently brings together the needed biological, psychological, and cultural facts I shall call a philosophical anthropology; it is a theory that: 1) takes the good for humans – both an ultimate good and other important goods – to depend on human nature; 2) argues that a rudimentary but improving scientific and philosophical theory of human nature now exists, and thus denies that people are “essenceless”; 3) takes this theory to be evolutionary and historical, making the question “How did morality originate?” pivotal for ethical theory, but leaves open the empirical question of the relative importance of biological and cultural evolution; and 4) takes the origin of the moral ideas to be explainable in terms of human nature and history. (shrink)
Owners of businesses represent an interesting case in the study of the intersection of personal and corporate philanthropic values. Because individuals who own businesses have the means and the ability to act on philanthropic motivations through the medium of their businesses, it is interesting to explore the extent to which their corporate contributions to nonprofits are philanthropic in nature or instrumentally motivated, as in the instance of cause related marketing. The trade-offs between cause related marketing and corporate support of nonprofits (...) are complex. Although larger firms are increasing their investments in cause related marketing, the extent of and motivations for adoption of cause related marketing among privately held businesses is less well understood. This study of 478 businesses which are supporters of arts organizations shows that privately held businesses of medium size (300 to 500 employees) are participating in cause related marketing to a significant degree. The adoption rate of cause related marketing is about 40%, and the primary benefits sought are company image enhancement and product marketing support. Adoption of cause related marketing among privately held and smaller enterprises will grow as CEOs exhibit satisfaction with the results of their program, intend to engage in positive word of mouth about it, and plan to allocate more resources to it. (shrink)
Over the past ten years or so, there has been a renewed interest in the moral education theory of punishment. The attractions of the theory are numerous, not least of which is that it offers hopes for a breakthrough in the apparently intractable debate between deterrence theorists and retributivists. Nevertheless, I believe there are severe problems with recent formulations of the theory. First, contemporary educationists all place great emphasis on autonomy, yet fail to show how continued respect for autonomy is (...) compatible with achievement of their stated punitive goals. Second, educationists have, and possibly must, take incarceration as the best available punitive sanction. Yet it is unclear how morally educative such a punishment will be. Third, contemporary educationists view punishment as a benefit to be conferred on an offender. But educationists have not succeeded in arguing that society is obligated to confer such benefits, nor have they adequately defended the Platonic moral psychology necessary to show that moral education is always a benefit to justly punished offenders. Fourth, contemporary educationists are hopeful that an indeterminate sentencing policy can be avoided, but I argue that such a policy is an ineliminable component of an educationist justification of punishment. Finally, I raise some doubts about the scope that educationist goals ought to have in any comprehensive theory of punishment. (shrink)
A substantial collection of seminal articles, Foundations of Ethics covers all of the major issues in metaethics. Covers all of the major issues in metaethics including moral metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology, and philosophy of language. Provides an unparalleled offering of primary sources and expert commentary for students of ethical theory. Includes seminal essays by ethicists such as G.E. Moore, Simon Blackburn, Gilbert Harman, Christine Korsgaard, Michael Smith, Bernard Williams, Jonathan Dancy, and many other leading figures of ethical theory.
The Oxford Monographs On Criminal Law And Justice series aims to cover all aspects of criminal law and procedure including criminal evidence. the scope of the series is wide, encompassing both practical and theoretical works. Series Editor: Professor Andrew Ashworth, Vinerian Professor of English Law, All Souls College, Oxford. This volume is a thematic collection of essays on sentencing theory by leading writers. The essays fall into three groups. Part I considers the underlying justifications for the imposition of punishment (...) by the State, and examines the relationship between victims, offenders and the State. Part II addresses a number of areas of sentencing policy that have given rise to particular difficulty, such as the sentencing of drug offenders, the rationale for discounting sentences for multiple offenders, the existence of special sentencing for young offenders, and cases where the injury done to the victim is of a different magnitude from what might have been expected. Part III raises various questions about the unequal impact on offenders of different sentencing measures, and examines the extent to which sentences should be adjusted to take account of these different impacts and of broader social inequalities. This volume is dedicated to Professor Andrew von Hirsch, whose continuing work on sentencing theory provided the stimulus for the collection. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Metaethics is the only publication devoted exclusively to original philosophical work in the foundations of ethics. It provides an annual selection of much of the best new scholarship being done in the field.