Brenda Almond throws down a timely challenge to liberal consensus about personal relationships. She maintains that the traditional family is fragmenting in Western societies, causing serious social problems. She urges that we reconsider our attitudes to sex and reproduction in order to strengthen our most important social institution, the family.
Those who would defend liberal democracy in today?s changing world face a new toleration debate. While we still want to help our children grow up to see the world from other perspectives than their own, we are no longer as sure as we were that we know what toleration means or what it entails. Where education is concerned, it seems the focus is on tolerance as an attitude?encouraging people to be tolerant?but where the public debate is concerned, the focus is (...) narrower. It becomes a question of what should be tolerated and what the law should allow or proscribe. But however interpreted, the underlying unclarity remains and it inevitably affects educational choices. Must we approve as well as permit? Must we refrain from judgement? Is tolerance something that is due to people themselves or does it include their views and opinions? And how should we respond if it should turn out to be impossible to tolerate one group or view without discriminating against another? In this paper I discuss two particular aspects of the new toleration debate, both of which involve presuppositions about personal and family life and religious and cultural identity. These are: (1) the moral and political issues prompted by the presence of newcomers in societies with different religious and cultural traditions from their own; and (2) a new and combative form of secularism within those societies. (shrink)
In response to Lawrence Blum?s critique of my paper ?Education for tolerance?, I argue that the state should not use its control of schools and the content of teaching to impose a new and controversial interpretation of parenthood, nor to preempt parents? right to an education for their children that is consistent with their own religious and moral convictions.
First, two aspects of the partiality issue are identified: (1) Is it right/reasonable for professionals to favour their clients interests over either those of other individuals or those of society in general? (2) Are special non-universalisable obligations attached to certain professional roles?Second, some comments are made on the notions of partiality and reasonableness. On partiality, the assumption that only two positions are possible – a detached universalism or a partialist egoism – is challenged and it is suggested that partiality, e.g. (...) to family members, lies between these two positions, being neither a form of egoism, nor of impersonal detachment. On reasonableness, it is pointed out that reasonable is an ambiguous concept, eliding the notions of the morally right and the rational. (shrink)
This timely collection of introductory essays provides a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to, and survey of, the major moral debates of today. Wide coverage and introduction to the main issues and arguments of applied ethics Each chapter specially commissioned to introduce newcomers Comprehensive notes and reading guides.
A sign seen in the Philosophy Department of the University of Uppsala reads: A philosopher is one who will deliver a paper on the Hangman's Paradox at a conference on capital punishment. I might take as a supporting example of this tendency to focus on the irrelevant or the inappropriate a real paper to a medico-legal conference on organ transplants which argued that it would be morally justifiable to remove a heart from a healthy would-be heart donor. There are also (...) many amusing and intelligent papers on the ‘survival lottery’—a hypothetical arrangement which would allow individuals to be seized and cannibalised for their organs. These articles are light-hearted exercises in argumentative ingenuity, harmless in themselves, but they are offered in a world in which street children in Brazil are snatched for their kidneys, Chinese political dissidents have their organs seized officially at their place of execution, and poor peasants in Turkey and India sell their own kidneys or those of their relatives, for money. At the same time, the most frequently cited paper on the fraught topic of abortion is one in which pregnancy is compared to the plight of one unwillingly or unintentionally connected to a violinist who temporarily needs the link in order to survive. (shrink)
This volume is a lively, wide-ranging introduction to ethics. It provides accessible coverage of the main ethical theories which offer the basis for an exploration of key issues and recent developments in applied ethics. The author's approach differs from other recent introductions, eschewing the utilitarian approach in favor of a rights and virtue ethics alternative.
In What's the Matter with Liberalism? Ronald Beiner diagnoses the ills of liberalism along the three broad fronts where it is now widely challenged: its pretensions to moral neutrality; its lack of cultural standards; and its inability to deal with crime, unemployment, family breakdown, homeless?ness, rampant consumerism, and global environmental and economic problems. But even in its minimalist classical formulation, liberalism entails a substantive moral position, and is committed to resisting the violations of rights that lead to the crises with (...) which Beiner is concerned. (shrink)
One of the explanations frequently offered for current social problems is the breakdown of the family as an institution and the decline of values such as trust and responsibility that were until recently associated with it. While the philosophical position of many commentators in this area is rooted in a broadly utilitarian social philosophy, there is a case for an alternative?i.e. non-utilitarian?philosophical point of view. The essential requirement for such an alternative approach is that it accords a place to certain (...) moral absolutes: promises, principles, obligations, and the rights accruing to others as a result of those obligations. Currently procreation, marriage, and family life are being subjected to unprecedented shifts in both meaning and practice, and this is a situation in which a Kantian approach, especially the Kantian dictum that persons should not be treated solely as means to other people's ends, can find new contemporary applications. An unqualified utilitarian spirit has led us into a world where parenthood and child-raising have been split from each other and where money changes hands for the elements of child-making and for the labour of gestation. The pressure for the new constructivist consensus is strong, but so is the case against a trivial or unnecessary extension of choice in procreation and against the increasing commercialisation of human conception. In these circumstances, Kantian ethics has a distinctive role to play in assessing the values at issue in today's ?new families? debate. (shrink)
The present century has witnessed human crimes on an unprecedented scale. It has also seen the decline of ethics as a major element in higher education and as an academic study forming an important aspect of philosophy.
Although T.L.S. Sprigge described idealist philosophy as the stage beyond religion, his pantheistic idealism, while not itself a religion, offers a conception of God that seeks to meet the aspiration of human beings to understand their own place in the universe. While he shared with most mid twentieth century British philosophers a basic assumption of the primacy of experience, Sprigge took this strong empiricist assumption in a Berkeleyian rather than a Humean direction. This enabled him to find a place for (...) the phenomenon of religious consciousness, which he saw as the source of a yearning that can be met by absolute idealism's conception of a 'Whole' that encompasses ourselves and all aspects of our world. He describes this recognition as the faltering adumbration of a truth - one that is sometimes encountered in aesthetic experience, and sometimes more directly in the lives of mystics.The metaphysical basis for this form of absolute idealism is provided by a concept of time in which each fleeting 'now' has a fixed and permanent place, and by a theory of identity according to which personal individuality is dissolved in a unitary 'Whole'. (shrink)
Philosophy, as I conceive it, is a journey and a quest. Conducted individually, it is nevertheless a collective attempt on the part of human beings from differing cultures and times to make sense of the arbitrary contingency of human existence, to find meaning in life. So understood, the impulse to philosophise needs no explanation or apology. It belongs to us all, and it exerts its own categorical imperative. Here I may quote the words of a wise woman, an invented contributor (...) to this debate, who spoke of the common mind, the common store of wisdom which has the power to outlast the individual. ‘For this’, she said, ‘is what philosophy is: not an esoteric discipline, but the common endeavour of the human race to understand and come to terms with its own perilous, fragile and ultimately ephemeral existence’. (shrink)