This essay argues in favor of retaining the positive/normative distinction in economics, in spite of developments in methodology and epistemology that have cast doubt on the possibility of a “value-free” economics. The central claim is that it is worthwhile to distinguish between positive economic analysis and normative judgments, even if economics is viewed as being permeated with ethical values. This argument is presented without trying either to demonstrate that there is a profound epistemological difference between science and ethics or to (...) show that positive science can afford us access to objective reality. (shrink)
Taking a refreshingly hands-on approach to introductory ethics, A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox provides students with a set of tools to help them understand and make a constructive difference in real-life moral controversies. Thoroughly optimistic, it invites students to approach ethical issues with a reconstructive intent, making room for more and better options than the traditional "pro" and "con" positions that have grown up around tough problems like abortion and animal rights. Ideal for introductory and applied ethics courses, this unique (...) text does not treat ethics as a purely academic, historical, or theoretical subject, but as a wide-ranging and ongoing set of challenges that calls for multiple and interwoven kinds of intelligence. It covers the skills that are most vital to making real progress in ethics, including paying careful attention to the values at stake on all sides of an issue; looking for creative opportunities within difficult problems; critical-thinking skills such as defining key terms and making sure to judge similar cases alike; and learning how to engage in constructive dialogue. Instructors can readily use the experiential and applied activities inspired by this "toolbox" of practical skills to design an interactive and collaborative ethics course. Students can carry these essential skills directly from this book into such projects as campaigning for environmental awareness and staffing local homeless shelters. In addition to his own discussion, Weston includes gripping and provocative short selections from essayists, activists, and philosophers, and also cites his own students. Extensive "Exercises and Notes" sections end each chapter, and a detailed appendix offers instructors advice on how to use the Toolbox in the classroom. (shrink)
The last decade has seen the transformation of the study of sexuality from a marginalized effort to a fully respected discipline at many major universities. There are numerous publications devoted solely to the topic and queer theory, a force to be reckoned with, has its own celebrities. Nonetheless, queer studies is considered to be the brainchild of the humanities, with the social sciences slowly coming around to apply its principles to empirical research. Long, Slow Burn, a powerful collection of essays (...) by Kath Weston, argues that social science has been talking about sex all along; to deny this one would have to overlook Kinsey's pioneering sex research in the 1950s, or the psychiatrist Evelyn Hooker's pathbreaking study of homosexuality, but also in the "sex talk" that lies at the heart of classic debates on kinship, inequality, cognition, and other foundational topics in the social sciences. What is different now, Weston claims, is the way sexuality has been isolated from other contemporary issues. Long, Slow Burn lays out a radically different approach to the study of sexuality. Not content with its ghettoization as a contained subfield, Weston refuses to draw an artificial line around sexuality. Her essays do not attempt to make sexuality a discrete object of study. Rather, each essay "sexes up" a conventional subject, such as kinship, race or labor, proving that once you start paying attention to sexuality, you can never look at social issues in the same way again. Long, Slow Burn offers an intervention, an attempt to see sexuality as it permeates the multiple fibers of our social fabric. It demonstrates that sexuality has always been a part of the social sciences, but more importantly, is the key to their future. (shrink)
"A Workbook for Arguments" builds on Anthony Weston's "Rulebook for Arguments" to provide a complete textbook for a course in critical thinking or informal logic. "Workbook" includes: The entire text of "Rulebook," supplemented with extensive further explanations and exercises. Homework exercises adapted from a wide range of arguments from newspapers, philosophical texts, literature, movies, videos, and other sources. Practical advice to help students succeed when applying the "Rulebook's" rules to the examples in the homework exercises. Suggestions for further practice, (...) outlining activities that students can do by themselves or with classmates to improve their skills. Detailed instructions for in-class activities and take-home assignments designed to engage students. An appendix on mapping arguments, giving students a solid introduction to this vital skill in constructing complex and multi-step arguments and evaluating them. Model answers to odd-numbered problems, including commentaries on the strengths and weaknesses of selected sample answers and further discussion of some of the substantive intellectual, philosophical, or ethical issues they raise. (shrink)
In this provocative new examination of the philosophical, moral and religious significance of literature, Michael Weston explores the role of literature in both analytic and continental traditions. He initiates a dialogue between them and investigates the growing importance of these issues for major contemporary thinkers. Each chapter explores a philosopher or literary figure who has written on the relation between literature and the good life, such as Derrida, Kierkegaard, Murdoch and Blanchot. Challenging and insightful, Philosophy, Literature and the Human (...) Good is ideal for all students of philosophy and literature. (shrink)
Kierkegaard and Modern Continental Philosophy provides a radical alternative to modern continental critiques of traditional philosophy. Michael Weston examines the possibility of an ethical critique of philosophy and questions the jurisdiction of philosophy over both ethics and religion. He explores Kierkegaard's writings in light of the modern continental thinking that has sought to "overcome" or "end" philosophy. Nietzsche and later thinkers such as Heidegger and Derrida challenged the metaphysical tradition in philosophy and undermined the credibility of ethics and religion. (...) Kierkegaard's work, while acknowledged as a precursor to these developments, has been criticized for its continuing dependence on metaphysical assumptions. Weston offers a major re-assessment of Kierkegaard's philosophy and argues that its radical nature has been overlooked. He identifies the comic and ironic tone infusing Kierkegaard's work and examines the philosopher's practice of publishing under bizarre pseudonyms. Weston argues that Kierkegaard's writings engage in an ethical critique of philosophy; they identify ethics as the non-philosophical site from which philosophy can be criticized. The book demonstrates how this ethical critique applies not only to metaphysics but also to modern continental thought. (shrink)
Work‐related stress is too often neglected by employers and rarely seen as an ethical issue by them. Its moral implications are explored here by the Senior Corporate Policy Manager at City and Inner London North Training and Enterprise Council, 80 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3DP. Sue Bryan, M.A., A.M.I.P.D., is also completing an Executive MBA degree at London Business School.
"A Workbook for Arguments" builds on Anthony Weston’s "A Rulebook for Arguments" to provide a complete textbook for a course in critical thinking or informal logic. The second edition adds: Updated and improved homework exercises—nearly one third are new—to ensure that the examples continue to resonate with students. Increased coverage of scientific reasoning, demonstrating how scientific reasoning dovetails with critical thinking more generally Two new activities in which students analyze arguments in their original form, as provided in brief selections (...) from the original texts. This edition continues to include The entire text of "Rulebook," supplemented with extensive explanations and exercises. Homework exercises adapted from a wide range of arguments in a wide variety of sources. Practical advice to help students succeed. Model answers to odd-numbered problems, including commentaries on the strengths and weaknesses of selected sample answers and further discussion of some of the substantive intellectual, philosophical, or ethical issues they raise. Detailed instructions for in-class activities and take-home assignments. An appendix on mapping arguments, giving students a solid introduction to this vital skill in constructing complex and multi-step arguments and evaluating them. (shrink)
In _Kierkegaard and Modern European Philosophy: An Introduction_ Michael Weston argues that, despite being acknowledged as a precursor to Nietzsche and post-Nietzschean thinkers such as Heidegger and Derrida, the radical nature of Kierkegaard's critique of philosophy has been missed. Weston examines and explains the metaphysical tradition, as exemplified by Plato and Hegel, and the post-metaphysical critiques of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Derrida. He shows how Kierkegaard's ethical critique of philosophy undermines the former and escapes the latter. He considers another (...) ethical critique of philosophy, that of Levinas, before identifying ethics as the non-philosophical site where philosophy can be criticised. _Kierkegaard and Modern European Philosophy: An Introduction_ argues that, by refusing to allow philosophy jurisdiction over ethics and religion, Kieregaard's critique applies as much to modern continental thought as to the metaphysical thought it seeks to undermine. (shrink)
This paper describes a theory of accuracy or approximate truth and applies it to problems in the realist interpretation of scientific theories. It argues not only that realism requires approximate truth, but that an adequate theory of approximation also presupposes some elements of a realist interpretation of theories. The paper distinguishes approximate truth from vagueness, probability and verisimilitude, and applies it to problems of confirmation and deduction from inaccurate premises. Basic results are cited, but details appear elsewhere. Objections are surveyed, (...) including arguments by Miller, Laymon, and Laudan. Comparison is made with Niiniluoto's theory of verisimilitude, and the utility of his theory for realism assessed. (shrink)
In this essay I propose an environmental ethic in the pragmatic vein. I begin by suggesting that the contemporary debate in environmental ethics is forced into a familiar but highly restrictive set of distinctions and problems by the traditional notion of intrinsic value, particularly by its demands that intrinsic values be self-sufficient, abstract, and justified in special ways. I criticize this notion and develop an alternativewhich stresses the interdependent structure of values, a structure which at once roots them deeply in (...) our selves and at the same time opens them to critical challenge and change. Finally, I apply this alternative view back to environmental ethics. It becomes easy to justify respect for other life forms and concern for the natural environment, and indeed many of the standard arguments only become stronger, once the demand to establish intrinsic values is removed. (shrink)
This study explored the relationship of current incidences of academic dishonesty with future norm/rule-violating behavior. Data were collected from 154 college students enrolled in introductory and upper-level psychology students at a large Midwest public university who received credit for participating. The sample included students from many different majors and all years of study. Participants completed a self-report survey that included a measure of Academic Dishonesty (including three subscales: Self-Dishonest, Social Falsifying, and Plagiarism) and an Imagined Futures Scale (five subscales that (...) included Norm/Rule Violating, Physically Threatening, Culturally Diverse, Emotionally Distressing, and Agentic Futures). Correlation analyses indicated a significant positive relationship between all three Academic Dishonesty subscales and an imagined norm/rule-violating future. Further, regression analyses revealed social falsifying as being significantly predictive of a norm/ rule-violating future. Suggestions are made alerting educators to the importance of monitoring and discouraging academic dishonesty as it may lead to rule-violating behavior in the future. (shrink)
An ethics-based epistemology is necessary for environmental philosophy—a sharply different approach from the epistemology-based ethics that the field has inherited, mostly implicitly, from mainstream ethics. In this paper, we try to uncover this inherited epistemology and point toward an alternative. In section two, we outline a general contrast between an ethics-based epistemology and an epistemology-based ethics. In section three, we examine the relationship between ethics and epistemology in an ethics-based epistemology, drawing extensively on examples from indigenous cultures. We briefly explore (...) several striking implications of an ethics-based epistemology in sections four and five. (shrink)
The Greek word eoikos can be translated in various ways. It can be used to describe similarity, plausibility or even suitability. This book explores the philosophical exploitation of its multiple meanings by three philosophers, Xenophanes, Parmenides and Plato. It offers new interpretations of the way that each employs the term to describe the status of their philosophy, tracing the development of this philosophical use of eoikos from the fallibilism of Xenophanes through the deceptive cosmology of Parmenides to Plato's Timaeus. The (...) central premise of the book is that, in reflecting on the eoikos status of their accounts, Xenophanes, Parmenides and Plato are manipulating the contexts and connotations of the term as it has been used by their predecessors. By focusing on this continuity in the development of the philosophical use of eoikos, the book serves to enhance our understanding of the epistemology and methodology of Xenophanes, Parmenides and Plato's Timaeus. (shrink)
The issue of the relation between financial derivatives, money and crisis remains one of on-going debate within Marxism. This paper takes issue with a recent contribution to this debate by Tony Norfield. We contend that the relationship between financial derivatives and the concept of ‘money’ needs to be framed in the context of a changing understanding of liquidity, and that issues of crisis and renewed accumulation are better understood though this path than via debates about speculative versus real investment and (...) productive versus unproductive capital. Indeed these latter taxonomies are being superseded by current developments within finance, and Marxian analysis needs to be attuned to these current developments. (shrink)
The major point of contention among the philosophers and mathematicians who have written about the independence results for the continuum hypothesis (CH) and related questions in set theory has been the question of whether these results give reason to doubt that the independent statements have definite truth values. This paper concerns the views of G. Kreisel, who gives arguments based on second order logic that the CH does have a truth value. The view defended here is that although Kreisel's conclusion (...) is correct, his arguments are unsatisfactory. Later sections of the paper advance a different argument that the independence results do not show lack of truth values. (shrink)
A Practical Companion to Ethics, Fourth Edition, is a concise and accessible introduction to the basic attitudes and skills that make ethics work, like thinking for oneself, creative and integrative problem-solving, and keeping an open mind. This unique volume illuminates the broad kinds of practical intelligence required in moral judgment, complementing the narrower theoretical considerations that often dominate ethics courses. The optimistic tone and brisk pace of the narrative provide an entertaining and intelligent guide to "everyday" morality. The fourth edition (...) features a new chapter on ethical theories; significantly revised and expanded chapters on conflicts of value and creative problem- solving in ethics; and a new concluding chapter on "Making a Difference, " which explains how students can incorporate ethical thinking and practice into their daily lives. (shrink)
Objectives To review the extant literature on HIV criminal laws, and to determine the impact of these laws on public health practice.Methods The available research on this topic was obtained and reviewed.Results The extant literature addressed three main topics: people's awareness of HIV criminal laws; people's perceptions of HIV criminal laws; and the potential effects of HIV criminal laws on people's sexual, HIV-status disclosure and healthcare-seeking practices. Within these categories, the literature demonstrated a high level of awareness of HIV criminal (...) laws, but a poor comprehension of these laws. For perceptions, on the whole, the quantitative research identified support for, while the qualitative literature indicated opposition to, these laws. Lastly, the behavioural effects of HIV criminal laws appear to be complex and non-linear.Conclusions A review of the extant literature from a public health perspective leads to the conclusion that HIV criminal laws undermine public health. (shrink)
Contemporary nonanthropocentic environmental ethics is profoundly shaped by the very anthropocentrism that it tries to transcend. New values only slowly struggle free of old contexts. Recognizing this struggle, however, opens a space for—indeed, necessitates—alternative models for contemporary environmental ethics. Rather than trying to unify or fine-tune our theories, we require more pluralistic andexploratory methods. We cannot reach theoretical finality; we can only co-evolve an ethic with transformed practices.
The technical results presented here on continuity and approximate implication are obviously incomplete. In particular, a syntactic characterization of approximate implication is highly desirable. Nevertheless, I believe the results above do show that the theory has considerable promise for application to the areas mentioned at the top of the paper.Formulation and defense of realist interpretations of science, for example, require approximate truth because we hardly ever have evidence that a particular scientific theory corresponds perfectly with a portion of the real (...) world. Realists need to assert, then, that evidence for a theory is evidence for its approximate truth, not its truth (see  and ). Approximate truth is, however, a vague notion, and specification of quantity terms and of a sense of approximation are needed to make precise applications of it. Suitability of both vocabulary and sense of approximation depend on the subject matter, and their selection is a partly empirical matter that raises complex issues. In light of the number of common inferences which are not continuous, realists also need to be concerned about indiscriminate use of deductive logic to derive consequences from approximately true theories. These issues will be considered further in a future paper.Approximate truth also has potential application in areas of artificial intelligence that require inference from inaccurate data. In the ‘qualitative’ physical theories of de Kleer and Brown , for example, ‘qualitative’ values are derived by partitioning the real numbers into regions. Inferences leading from inside to outside a region must be identified and avoided, and approximate implication and continuity may prove useful in doing this. More generally, growing use of predicate logic as a programming language invites application of the theory of approximate truth as a symbolic substitute for numerical evaluation of computation errors. This too will be the subject of a future paper. (shrink)
The familiar “centrisms” in environmental ethics aim to make ethics progressively more inclusive by expanding a single circle of moral consideration I propose a radically different kind of geometry. Multicentrism envisions a world of irreducibly diverse and multiple centers of being and value—not one single circle, of whatever size or growth rate, but many circles, partly overlapping, each with its own center. Moral consideration necessarily becomes plural and ongoing, and moral action takes place within an open-ended context of negotiation and (...) covenant. Much critical and constructive work, both in environmental ethics proper and in many related fields, is already multicentric in spirit. It needs to be drawn together into an explicit, alternative environmental-ethical “platform.”. (shrink)
Supporting Hamilton’s inclusive fitness theory, archival analyses of inheritance patterns in wills have revealed that people invest more of their estates in kin of closer genetic relatedness. Recent classroom experiments have shown that this genetic relatedness effect is stronger for relatives of direct lineage (children, grandchildren) than for relatives of collateral lineage (siblings, nieces, nephews). In the present research, multilevel modeling of more than 1,000 British Columbian wills revealed a positive effect of genetic relatedness on proportions of estates allocated to (...) relatives. This effect was qualified by an interaction with lineage, such that it was stronger for direct than for collateral relatives. Exploratory analyses of the moderating role of benefactors’ sex and estate values showed the genetic relatedness effect was stronger among female and wealthier benefactors. The importance of these moderators to understanding kin investment in modern humans is discussed. (shrink)
Disvaluing nature—a cognitive act—usually leads quickly to devaluing it too: to real-world exploitation and destruction. Worse, in fact, nature in its devalued state can then be held up as an excuse and justification for the initial disvaluation. In this way, dismissal and destruction perpetuate themselves. I call this process “self-validating reduction.” It is crucial to recognize the cycle of self-validating reduction, both in general and specifically as it applies to nature, if we are to have any chance of reversing it.
This article compares and contrasts Hans Kelsen's concept of normative imputation, in the Lecture Course of 1926, with the concepts of peripheral and central imputation, in The Pure Theory of Law of 1934. In this process, a wider and more significant distinction is revealed within the development of Hans Kelsen's theory of positive law. This distinction represents a shift in Kelsen's philosophical allegiance from the Neo-Kantianism of Windelband to that of Cohen. This, in turn, reflects a broader disengagement of The (...) Pure Theory of Law from the more direct connection with a political project of a civitas maxima envisaged by the Lecture Course. (shrink)
The paper argues that an internal debate within Wittgensteinian philosophy leads to issues associated rather with the later philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Rush Rhees's identification of the limitations of the notion of a “language game” to illuminate the relation between language and reality leads to his discussion of what is involved in the “reality” of language: “anything that is said has sense-if living has sense, not otherwise.” But what is it for living to have sense? Peter Winch provides an interpretation (...) and application of Rhees's argument in his discussion of the “reality” of Zande witchcraft and magic in “Understanding a Primitive Society”. There he argues that such sense is provided by a language game concerned with the ineradicable contingency of human life, such as (he claims) Zande witchcraft to be. I argue, however, that Winch's account fails to answer the question why Zande witchcraft can find no application within our lives. I suggest that answering this requires us to raise the question of why Zande witchcraft “fits” with their other practices but cannot with ours, a question of “sense” which cannot be answered by reference to another language game. I use Joseph Epes Brown's account of Native American cultures (in Epes Brown 2001) as an exemplification of a form of coherence that constitutes what we may call a “world”. I then discuss what is involved in this, relating this coherence to a relation to the temporal, which provides an internal connection between the senses of the “real” embodied in the different linguistic practices of these cultures. I relate this to the later Heidegger's account of the “History of Being”, of the historical worlds of Western culture and increasingly of the planet. I conclude with an indication of concerns and issues this approach raises, ones characteristic of “Continental” rather than Wittgensteinian philosophy. (shrink)
James Lovelock’s “Gaia hypothesis”-the suggestion that life on Earth functions in essential ways as one organism, as a single living entity-is extraordinarily suggestive for environmental philosophy. What exactly it suggests, however, is not yet so clear. Although many of Lovelock’s own ethical conclusions are rather distressing for environmental ethics, there are other possible approaches to the Gaia Hypothesis. Ethical philosophers might take Gaia to be analogous to a “person” and thus to have the same sorts of values that more familiar (...) sorts of persons have. Deep ecologists might find in the Gaia hypothesis a means by which to transform and reunderstand our concrete experience of the world. This essay canvasses some of the strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities of each approach. (shrink)
In 1809 the radical English philosopher, novelist, and historian William Godwin published Essay on Sepulchres?a proposal to mark the burial sites of the morally great with a simple wooden cross. This paper explores Godwin's essay in terms of his evolution as moral philosopher and historian. While Godwin is commonly renowned as a utilitarian rationalist given to optimistic assertions on human perfectibility, this essay demonstrates the extent to which his moral theory depended on emotion and intuition and how he came to (...) posit an alternative mode of historical perception which queried the progressivist assumptions of ?Enlightenment? historiography. (shrink)
Creativity for Critical Thinkers is a how-to book in creative thinking, specifically orientated towards college courses in critical thinking and with a strong appeal to the general reader as well. It offers a vital but often overlooked set of thinking skills: multiplying options, brainstorming, lateral thinking, reframing problems, and many others. These skills are reinforced by applications and exercises covering a wide range of topics, from the annoyance of everyday life to the largest issues on the world stage.