There is a strong tendency in the scholarly and sub-scholarly literature on terrorism to treat it as something like an ideology. There is an equally strong tendency to treat it as always immoral. Both tendencies go hand in hand with a considerable degree of unclarity about the meaning of the term ‘terrorism’. I shall try to dispel this unclarity and I shall argue that the first tendency is the product of confusion and that once this is understood, we can see, (...) in the light of a more definite analysis of terrorism, that the second tendency raises issues of inconsistency, and even hypocrisy. Finally, I shall make some tentative suggestions about what categories of target may be morally legitimate objects of revolutionary violence, and I shall discuss some lines of objection to my overall approach. (shrink)
This essay considers the relationship between the Bhagavad Gita as a transnational text and its changing role in Indian political thought. Indian liberals used it to mark out the boundaries between the public sphere they desired and a reformed Hinduism. Indian intellectuals also used the image of Krishna to construct an all-wise founder figure for the new India. Meanwhile, in the transnational sphere of debate, the Gita came to represent India itself in the works of theosophists, spiritual relativists and a (...) variety of intellectual radicals, who approved of the text's ambivalent view of the relationship between political action and the World Spirit. After the First World War, Indian liberals, notably Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, philosopher and later India's second president, used Krishna's words to urge a new and humane international politics infused with the ideal of “detached action”. (shrink)
Hume's doctrine of natural belief allows that certain beliefs are justifiably held by all men without regard to the quality of the evidence which may be produced in their favour. Examples are belief in an external world and belief in the veracity of our senses. According to R. J. Butler, Hume argues in the Dialogues that belief in God is of this sort. More recently John Hick has argued that for some people it is as natural to believe in God (...) as to believe in an external world. I shall first inquire what Hume understands by reasonable belief and by natural belief. I shall then use the results of this investigation to argue, against Butler, that belief in God is not a natural belief; and against Hick, more briefly, that his thesis is not viable in as far as it depends upon Hume's doctrine of natural belief. These discussions are important to the philosophy of religion since by means of natural beliefs it could be urged that belief in God is something justifiable without reference to reason or evidence: a position which would be of immense value to the theist. (shrink)
Our trust in the word of others is often dismissed as unworthy, because the illusory ideal of "autonomous knowledge" has prevailed in the debate about the nature of knowledge. Yet we are profoundly dependent on others for a vast amount of what any of us claim to know. Coady explores the nature of testimony in order to show how it might be justified as a source of knowledge, and uses the insights that he has developed to challenge certain widespread assumptions (...) in the areas of history, law, mathematics, and psychology. (shrink)
Although there are many different philosophical hares that could be started by the use of the term ‘historical fact’ I am interested in pursuing one that is related to the historian's attitude to testimony. By way of preliminary, however, I should say something about my use of the word ‘fact’. A contrast that sets off my use best is probably that between fact and theory. This distinction is at once methodological and epistemological in that it concerns the structure of inquiry (...) as well as the structure of secure belief. As far as inquiry is concerned it is plausible to suppose that an investigation begins with a problem or a puzzle, the delineation of which requires certain data in the form of propositions that are known to be true, or are taken for granted or commonly agreed upon as sufficiently secure to provide a grounding for the inquiry. It is to cover such data that I am using the word ‘fact’ and hence it will not refer to just any true proposition. Theories however stand as the outcome of inquiry and involve generality and inference and classification in a way that facts do not. It is interesting that the term ‘datum’ came into use in English at the same time that the word ‘fact’, which had meant ‘a deed or action’, acquired the sort of meaning that interests me here. (shrink)
In this response to Jonny Anomaly’s ‘Is Obesity a Public Health Problem?’ I argue, contra the author that public health actually increases individuals’ abilities to choose actions that further their health goals, specifically in the case of obesity. The intractability of obesity as an individual medical problem combined with the health benefits of modest (5–10 per cent of body weight) weight loss suggest that public health measures helping people make small changes in eating habits improve population health. I argue that (...) such measures are available to public health via behavioral economic research and policy proposals from libertarian paternalists. I respond to author’s claim that obesity does not constitute a public health problem because: (i) it is not an epidemic and (ii) obesity reduction is not a public good. I argue that epidemic status is not required for classification as a public health problem, but that obesity does have the status of an epidemic. I also point out flaws in author’s reasoning about obesity, public health and social costs. I conclude by suggesting that public health, in partnership with stakeholders and other areas of government, is poised to help create conditions for modest weight loss and increased population health overall. (shrink)
This book presents a clear and critical view of the orthodox logical empiricist tradition, pointing the way to significant developments for the understanding of science both as research and as culture.
Political violence in the form of wars, insurgencies, terrorism and violent rebellion constitutes a major human challenge. C. A. J. Coady brings a philosophical and ethical perspective as he places the problems of war and political violence in the frame of reflective ethics. In this book, Coady re-examines a range of urgent problems pertinent to political violence against the background of a contemporary approach to just war thinking. The problems examined include: the right to make war and conduct war, terrorism, (...) revolution, humanitarianism, mercenary warriors, the ideal of peace and the right way to end war. Coady attempts to vindicate the contemporary relevance of the just war tradition to current problems without applying the tradition in a merely mechanical or uncritical fashion. (shrink)
The ‘beautiful axiom’ to which Dickens refers is a central feature of Thomas Hobbes' thinking but its precise role in his moral philosophy remains unclear. I shall here attempt both to dispel the unclarity and to evaluate the adequacy of the position that emerges. Given the high level of contemporary interest in Hobbes' thought, both within and beyond philosophical circles, this is an enterprise of considerable importance. None the less, my interest is not merely interpretative, since the assessment of Hobbes' (...) attitude to ‘the beautiful axiom’ raises important and difficult questions about what might be termed the preconditions of morality. (shrink)
Peter Geach supports his case that the religion of Thomas Hobbes was both genuine and a version of Socinianism principally by comparing the theological and scriptural sections of Leviathan with the main doctrines of Socinianism and its latter-day developments in Unitarianism and Christadelphianism. He pays particular attention to comparisons with the Racovian Catechism, the theological writings of Joseph Priestley and the Christadelphian document Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts.
Dr Ian Ramsey has made considerable use of the word ‘disclosure’ in what he has to say about religion and in his attempts to give an account of the meaning of religious language. He sometimes speaks of ‘discernment’ or ‘insight’ but ‘disclosure’ is the word he normally favours. In what follows I shall ask: what a disclosure is, to what extent Dr Ramsey's use of the notion leads to confusions, and what questions have to be faced in order to resolve (...) these confusions. (shrink)
Seneca the Younger's tragedies are adaptations from the Greek. C. A. J. Littlewood emphasizes the place of these plays in the Latin literature and in the philosophical context of the reign of the emperor Nero. Stoics dismissed public reality as theatre, as illusion. The artificiality of Senecan tragedy, the consciousness that its own dramatic worlds are literary constructs, responds to this contemporary philosophical perception.
This article presents the first results of a study of the decisions made by health professionals in South Australia concerning the management of death, dying, and euthanasia, and focuses on the findings concerning the attitudes and practices of medical practitioners. Mail-back, self-administered questionnaires were posted in August 1991 to a ten per cent sample of 494 medical practitioners in South Australia randomly selected from the list published by the Medical Board of South Australia. A total response rate of 68 per (...) cent was obtained, 60 per cent of which (298) were usable returns. It was found that forty-seven per cent had received requests from patients to hasten their deaths. Nineteen per cent had taken active steps which had brought about the death of a patient. Sixty-eight per cent thought that guidelines for withholding and withdrawal of treatment should be established. Forty-five per cent were in favour of legalisation of active euthanasia under certain circumstances. (shrink)
In the past thirty years, two fundamental issues have emerged in the philosophy of science. One concerns the appropriate attitude we should take towards scientific theories--whether we should regard them as true or merely empirically adequate, for example. The other concerns the nature of scientific theories and models and how these might best be represented. In this ambitious book, da Costa and French bring these two issues together by arguing that theories and models should be regarded as partially rather than (...) wholly true. They adopt a framework that sheds new light on issues to do with belief, theory acceptance, and the realism-antirealism debate. The new machinery of "partial structures" that they develop offers a new perspective from which to view the nature of scientific models and their heuristic development. Their conclusions will be of wide interest to philosophers and historians of science. (shrink)
Health care professionals’ and trainees’ conceptions of their responsibilities to patients can change over time for a number of reasons: evolving career goals, desires to serve different patient populations, and changing family obligations, for example. Some changes in conceptions of responsibility are healthy, but others express moral damage. Clinicians’ changes in their conceptions of what they are responsible for express moral damage when their responses to others express a meager, rather than robust, sense of what they owe others. At least (...) two important expressions of moral damage in the context of health care are these: callousness and divestiture. Callousness describes the poor condition of a clinician's capacity for moral perception; when her capacity to accurately appreciate features of moral relevance that configure others’ needs, vulnerabilities, and desert of care diminishes, such that she fails to respond with care to those for whom she has duties to care, she is callous. Callousness has been explored in detail elsewhere,1 and so the focus of this paper is divestiture. A clinician divests when the value of responding with care to others becomes less centrally and importantly constitutive of his personal and professional identity. Divestiture has important consequences for patients and health professions education, which I will explore here. (shrink)
This paper examines ways in which current moral values are influenced by earlier patterns of thinking carried forward in root metaphors whose meanings were often framed by the analogues settled upon in the past by thinkers who were influenced by the silences and prejudices of their culture. It is argued that such tacitly inherited metaphors reproduce the myth of the individual as a moral agent and that this both is ecologically unsustainable and undermines other important ways of understanding the individual. (...) In various ways the form of critical thinking to which it gives rise stands in the way of individuals exercising what Gregory Bateson refers to as their ?ecological intelligence? in a manner that properly takes account of the interdependent nature of cultural and natural ecologies. It is argued that if in the West (at least) a shift could be made to relying on ?ecology? as the dominant root metaphor the whole system of Western moral values would undergo a radical change to one better suited to a current Western environmental situation. (shrink)
Coady explores the challenges that morality poses to politics. He confronts the complex intellectual tradition known as realism, which seems to deny any relevance of morality to politics, especially international politics. He argues that, although realism has many serious faults, it has lessons to teach us: in particular, it cautions us against the dangers of moralism in thinking about politics and particularly foreign affairs. Morality must not be confused with moralism: Coady characterizes various forms of moralism and sketches their distorting (...) influence on a realistic political morality. He seeks to restore the concept of ideals to an important place in philosophical discussion, and to give it a particular pertinence in the discussion of politics. He deals with the fashionable idea of "dirty hands," according to which good politics will necessarily involve some degree of moral taint or corruption. Finally, he examines the controversial issue of the role of lying and deception in politics. Along the way Coady offers illuminating discussion of historical and current political controversies. This lucid book will provoke and stimulate anyone interested in the interface of morality and politics. (shrink)
This article uses Hegel’s analysis of the Romantic form to elucidate the relationship between aesthetic space and subjectivity in modernist painting (Paul Klee) and cinema (Sergei Eisenstein). The movement that brings art to realization in Hegel thus includes genres and modalities of art that did not exist in his time: in cinema and modernist painting, the Idea or truth of art evolves and brings itself to completion. Plasticity, the movement of aesthetic form toward self-expression, abandons the rigid substantiality it achieves (...) in the Classical era and acquires unprecedented range, depth and resilience. In the Romantic form, the dynamism of the concept surfaces in full force and aesthetic boundaries expand. The emergence here of a new type of visual space is determined by a subjectivity that abandons the concrete, corporeal individuality associated with sculpture (most explicitly in Classical art) and imparts on sensuous form the fluidity of inner life. Music and poetry converge in the visual object which now assumes cinematic modality, a modality that also finds expression in modernist painting. (shrink)