The moral philosophy of Levinas offers a stark prospectus of impossibility for corporate ethics. It differs from most traditional ethical theories in that, for Levinas, the ethical develops in a personal meeting of one with the Other, rather than residing in some internal deliberation of the moral subject. Levinasian ethics emphasizes an infinite personal responsibility arising for each of us in the face of the Other and in the presence of the Third. It stresses the imperious demand we experience to (...) be open to, prepared for and impassioned with that which we may not know, or recognize, about ourselves or about the Other. Such a demand transcends our intellectual and/or rational potential; it involves us in a carnal and somatic bodily experience of otherness. If we are to speak of Levinasian ethics in a business context, it cannot be a matter of corporate ethics but only a matter of individual managerial ethics. What such an ethics would be like is yet to be outlined. This paper proposes a series of questions and suggestions that will explicate some key terms of a practice organized around a Levinasian vocabulary of otherness, responsibility, proximity, diachrony and justice. (shrink)
In this paper we reconsider Adam Smith’s ethics, what he means by self-interest and the role this plays in the famous “invisible hand.” Our efforts focus in part on the misreading of “the invisible hand” by certain economists with a view to legitimizing their neoclassical economic paradigm. Through exegesis and by reference to notions that are developed in Smith’s two major works, we deconstruct Smith’s ideas of conscience, justice, self-interest, and the invisible hand. We amplify Smith’s insistence, through his notions (...) of the virtues, that as human beings, and by analogy, organizations, we are intrinsically social, rather than selfish and or egoistically self-centered. Thus, we have responsibilities to and because of others. We conclude that such a managerialist preoccupation with shareholder value is challenged, if not completely refuted, by taking seriously the social character of Smith’s complex vision of commerce. (shrink)
A surprising conclusion of modern political economy is that democracies with highly ignorant voters can still deliver very good results as long as voters' errors balance each other out. This result is known as the Miracle of Aggregation. This paper begins by reviewing a large body of evidence against this Miracle. Empirically, voters' errors tend to be systematic; they compound rather than cancel. Furthermore, since most citizens vote for the policies they believe are best for society, systematic errors lead voters (...) to support socially suboptimal policies. The paper then considers the case for “paternalistically” vetoing popular but misguided democratic decisions, presenting several arguments that overruling democratic decisions is much less objectionable than overruling individual decisions. In fact, since democracies routinely adopt paternalistic policies, the opponent of paternalism for individual decisions should embrace paternalism for democratic decisions. The paper concludes by considering several different mechanisms for improving upon majority rule. (shrink)
In this essay, Ryan Bevan explores the pedagogical implications of taking virtue epistemology as the philosophical foundation of educational theory rather than following the instrumentalist approach that is currently dominant. According to Bevan, the critical thinking strategies characteristic of instrumentalism generally work to further the vocationalization of educational discourse as well as the cultivation of unreflective moral agents. He contends that critical thinking should be expanded beyond its rationalist criteria to focus on the process of inquiry. Such a (...) virtue epistemology approach, according to Bevan, has the potential to uncover and change fundamental misconceptions that pervade current theoretical assumptions by encouraging learners to engage in a more inclusive inquiry that draws out alternative perspectives. Bevan concludes that citizenship education in particular can benefit greatly from this more expansive theory with concrete pedagogical implications. (shrink)
There is general agreement, which I share, that among the earliest of Western philosophers were three of the very greatest: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Each of these is on record as saying something – and it is almost the same thing – about the nature of philosophy itself that goes to the heart of the matter. Aristotle said: ‘It is owing to their wonder that men now begin, and first began, to philosophise’ . And Plato wrote, putting his words into (...) the mouth of Socrates: ‘This sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin’. (shrink)
A central dispute in understanding Frege’s philosophy concerns how the sense of a complex expression relates to the senses of its component expressions. According to one reading, the sense of a complex expression is a whole built from the senses of the component expressions. On this interpretation, Frege is an early proponent of structured propositions. A rival reading says that senses compose by functional application: the sense of a complex expression is the value of the function denoted by its functional (...) component for the arguments denoted by its remaining components. I argue that two non-negotiable Fregean theses entail that senses compose by functional application. One thesis is that referents compose by functional application. The other thesis is that an expression in an indirect context refers to its customary sense. (shrink)
This is a revised and enlarged version of Bryan Magee's widely praised study of Schopenhauer, the most comprehensive book on this great philosopher. It contains a brief biography of Schopenhauer, a systematic exposition of his thought, and a critical discussion of the problems to which it gives rise and of its influence on a wide range of thinkers and artists. For this new edition Magee has added three new chapters and made many minor revisions and corrections throughout. This new (...) edition will consolidate the book's standing as the definitive study of Schopenhauer. (shrink)
The focus of Norton's book is the distinction between objectives and values in developing environmental policies. Norton argues that environmentalism is a coalition of many groups working toward common objectives, but unlike other social action movements the environmental coalition does not have shared moral principles.
The primary purpose of this book is to examine the logical features common to all the sciences. Each science proceeds by inventing general principles from which are deduced the consequences to be tested by observation and experiment; the author shows how the implications of this process explain some of its more baffling features and resolves many of the difficulties that philosophers have found in them. His exposition is by way of detailed examples.
Philosophers often find themselves in disagreement with contemporary philosophers they know full well to be their epistemic superiors on the topics relevant to the disagreement. This looks epistemically irresponsible. I offer a detailed investigation of this problem of the reflective epistemic renegade. I argue that although in some cases the renegade is not epistemically blameworthy, and the renegade situation is significantly less common than most would think, in a troublesome number of cases in which the situation arises the renegade is (...) blameworthy in her disagreement with recognized epistemic superiors. I also offer some thoughts on what it would mean for philosophical practice for us to refrain from being renegades. Finally, I show how a new kind of radical skepticism emerges from modest theses regarding the renegade. (shrink)
Semantics in the Montagovian tradition combines two basic tenets. One tenet is that the semantic value of a sentence is an intension, a function from points of evaluations into truth-values. The other tenet is that the semantic value of a composite expression is the result of applying the function denoted by one component to arguments denoted by the other components. Many philosophers object to intensional semantics on the grounds that intensionally equivalent sentences do not substitute salva veritate into attitude ascriptions. (...) They propose instead that the semantic values of sentences must be structured propositions. In rejecting intensional semantics, philosophers who endorse structured propositions also usually reject functional compositionality, undermining both tenets of the Montagovian programme. I defend a semantic theory that incorporates both structured propositions and functional compositionality. I argue that this semantic theory can preserve many explanatory benefits of Montague semantics. Finally, I show how treating composition functional application can resolve core problems internal to a theory of structured propositions. (shrink)
Many philosophers are sceptical about the power of philosophy to refute commonsensical claims. They look at the famous attempts and judge them inconclusive. I prove that even if those famous attempts are failures, there are alternative successful philosophical proofs against commonsensical claims. After presenting the proofs I briefly comment on their significance.
In epistemology the nagging voice of the sceptic has always been present, whispering that 'You can't know that you have hands, or just about anything else, because for all you know your whole life is a dream.' Philosophers have recently devised ingenious ways to argue against and silence this voice, but Bryan Frances now presents a highly original argument template for generating new kinds of radical scepticism, ones that hold even if all the clever anti-sceptical fixes defeat the traditional (...) sceptic. Sharp, witty, and fun to read, Scepticism Comes Alive will be highly provocative for anyone interested in knowledge and its limits. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the question of how to nurture and develop conscientiousness thinkers and future citizens of diverse liberal-democratic societies from the perspective of virtue epistemology. More specifically, I examine this question in terms of how public schools might frame engagement with religious perspectives in the classroom. I begin by distinguishing between good and bad conscientiousness through an exploration of current work in the field of virtue epistemology. I then follow Kenneth Strike in his defense of the need (...) for a more robust engagement with religious perspectives as a liberal educational imperative. I argue that basing a framework for engagement on VE, particularly the notion of subjective justification, has significant benefits. My main interest in developing a framework for what I deem to be a necessary supplemental dimension of citizenship education focused on religious engagement is in underlining the responsibility that liberal educators have in regulating what is often a highly contentious and unfortunately caddish debate surrounding religion and the religious. I conclude that by eschewing this responsibility educators are potentially missing out on significant resources for supporting the liberal-democratic educational agenda. (shrink)