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)
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)
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)
Da Costa and French explore the consequences of adopting a 'pragmatic' notion of truth in the philosophy of science. Their framework sheds new light on issues to do with belief, theory acceptance, and the realism-antirealism debate, as well as the nature of scientific models and their heuristic development.
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)
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 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)
The question I wish to explore is this: Does idealism conflict with common sense? Unfortunately, the answer I give may seem like a rather banal one: It depends. What do we mean by ‘idealism’ and ‘common sense?’ I distinguish three main varieties of idealism: absolute idealism, Berkeleyan idealism, and dualistic idealism. After clarifying what is meant by common sense, I consider whether our three idealisms run afoul of it. The first does, but the latter two don’t. I conclude that while (...) Moore’s famous common sense critique is sound against external world skepticism, against Berkeleyan idealism and dualist idealism it is unavailing. (shrink)
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)
Ten new essays critique the practice of armed humanitarian intervention, whereby one state sends its armed forces into another to protect citizens against major human rights abuses. The contributors examine a range of concerns, for instance about potential adverse effects and about ulterior motives.
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)
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)
This book seeks to examine the mutual interplay between existentialism and Christian belief as seen through the work of three existentialist thinkers who were also committed Christians - a Spaniard, a Russian, and a Frenchman. They are compared with each other and with leading non-religious existentialists. The major themes studied include reason, freedom, the self, belief, hope, love, suffering, and immortality.
Originally published in 1981, this book provides a detailed account of the emergence of the children's rights movement, and analyses the concept of a right. It considers the justifications which may be sought when rights are claimed. Particular attention is given to the problem which arises when different rights are seen to be in conflict with each other or with other kinds of moral consideration. These arguments are then examined with regard to such special features of children as their incomplete (...) but developing rationality and their material dependence on adults. (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.
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)
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)
In an article in Philosophy R. G. Swinburne set out to argue that none of Hume's formal objections to the design argument ‘have any validity against a carefully articulated version of the argument’ . This, he maintained, is largely because Hume's criticisms ‘are bad criticisms of the argument in any form’ . The ensuing controversy between Swinburne and Olding 1 has focused upon the acceptable/unacceptable aspects of the dualism presupposed in Swinburne's defence of the design argument; upon whether any simplification (...) is achieved by reducing scientific explanation to agent explanation; and upon the problems which arise from taking a man's acting upon his body as the analogy for understanding a disembodied agent acting upon matter. In this article I shall refer to the Swinburne-Olding controversy when appropriate but my main concern is to return to Swinburne's original article and argue, seriatim , that Hume's individual criticisms of the design argument are for the most part a great deal more powerful than Swinburne allowed. I shall contend that cumulatively they destroy the design argument as any sort of rational foundation for theistic belief. But first I shall indicate briefly the character of the argument together with one or two of the distinctions and refinements in terms of which it has been found helpful to carry on the discussion in recent years. (shrink)
This thought-provoking book examines exactly what people mean when they accuse others of being “moralistic”. Written by an international team of philosophers Analyses what the “vice” of moralism might be and contrasts this with a genuine concern for morality Contributors draw upon literary sources, philosophical theories and political theory Helps readers to appreciate the role that morality really plays in our judgements and decisions.
This volume contains the selected discourses of four seventeenth-century philosophers, carefully chosen to illustrate the tenets characteristic of the influential movement known as Cambridge Platonism. Fundamental to their beliefs is the statement most clearly voiced by Benjamin Whichcote, their leader by common consent, that the spiritual is not opposed to the rational, nor Grace to nature. Religion is based on reason, even in the presence of 'mystery'. Free will and Grace are not mutually exclusive. The editor's comprehensive introduction delineates the (...) main principles of the Cambridge Platonists, in the light of their heritage. It compares their attitude to contemporary thought, stressing their mistrust both of institutionalised religion and of the rising tide of materialism. The sermons are reprinted from the original texts and fully annotated with comparisons and references to a wide range of works. The editor also includes a useful list for further reading, biographical notes and a comprehensive index. (shrink)
Recent developments such as the 'new wars' or the growing privatisation of warfare, and the ever more sophisticated military technology, present the military with difficult ethical challenges. This book offers a selection of the best scholarly articles on military ethics published in recent decades. It gives a hearing to all the main ethical approaches to war: just war theory, consequentialism, and pacifism. Part I includes essays on justice of war (jus ad bellum), focussing on defence against aggression and humanitarian armed (...) intervention, but also addressing topics such as conscientious objection and the relation of patriotism to war. Articles in Part II deal with the central problems of justice in war (jus in bello): civilian immunity and 'collateral damage' to civilian life and property. Essays in Part III look into the moral issues facing the military as a profession, such as the civil - military relations, the responsibilities of officers to their soldiers and to their military superiors, and the status and responsibilities of prisoners of war. (shrink)
"One basic and underlying assumption of this investigation will be that there is a distinct continuity and development in Berkeley's thought which can be traced through all of his reflective analyses of the problem of perception." The essay argues for Berkeley's theory of perception as a "prototype of the phenomenalists." It argues also for Berkeley's incorporation of elements from the representative theory of perception. Of special interest is the treatment of Berkeley's doctrine of "suggestion" and its connection with the role (...) of imagination in the perception of physical objects. The linguistic aspect of Berkeley's work is minimized. Berkeley's theory of notions receives only a passing reference. The last third of the book is a clear and useful discussion of Berkeley and contemporary phenomenalism. It is suggested, though not shown, that Berkeley has affinity with contemporary phenomenology of perception.--A. S. C. (shrink)
This is the first book to address philosophically the moral and political underpinnings of terrorism and anti-terrorism. It brings together authors with different attitudes and original perspectives on attitudes and ethical and practical justifications for terrorism.
The Moral Limits of Law analyzes the related debates concerning the moral obligation to obey the law, conscientious citizenship, and state legitimacy. Modern societies are drawn in a tension between the centripetal pull of the local and the centrifugal stress of the global. Boundaries that once appeared permanent are now permeable: transnational legal, economic, and trade institutions increasingly erode the autonomy of states. Nonetheless transnational principles are still typically effected through state law. For law's subjects, this tension brings into focus (...) the interaction of legal and moral obligations and the legitimacy of state authority. This volume incorporates a comprehensive critical analysis of the methodology and substance of the debates in recent legal, political, and moral philosophy, regarding political obligation and the moral obligation to obey the law. The author argues that traditional accounts of political obligation that assume a bounded conception of the polity are no longer tenable. Higgins therefore presents an original theory of the conscientious agent's attitude towards law that accommodates the contemporary social tension between local and global obligations. (shrink)
The basis of Muslim philosophy and science is the instruction embedded in the Quran. At an early date this tradition was enlarged and strengthened by the infiltration into Muslim culture of Greek philosophy and science through the translation of Greek classics by Muslims. The Indian tradition of thought also made its contribution. This book traces the development and interaction of these strands in Muslim thinking. The author is concerned to show both how philosophy and science are related to specifically religious (...) thought, and how they have made distinctive contributions to method and discovery. (shrink)