Contemporary Christian ethics encounters the challenge to communicate genuinely Christian normative orientations within the scientific debate in such a way as to render these orientations comprehensible, and to maintain or enhance their plausibility even for non-Christians. This essay, therefore, proceeds from a biblical motif, takes up certain themes from the Christian tradition (in particular the idea of social justice), and connects both with a compelling contemporary approach to ethics by secular moral philosophy, i.e. with Axel Honneth's reception (...) of Hegel, as based on Hegel's theory of recognition. As a first step, elements of an ethics of recognition are developed on the basis of an anthropological recourse to the conditions of intersubjective encounters. These conditions are then brought to bear on the idea of social justice, as developed in the social-Catholic tradition, and as systematically explored in the Pastoral Letter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice For All (1986). Proceeding from this basis, aspects of a Christian ethics of community service with regard to long-term care can be defined. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. (...)Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epistemically unacceptable in doing so. He contends that Christian beliefs are warranted to the extent that they are formed by properly functioning cognitive (...) faculties, thus, insofar as they are warranted, Christian beliefs are knowledge if they are true. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne is one of the most influential contemporary proponents of the analytical philosophy of religion. He is, above all, a traditional theist. However, his interests are very wide-ranging. He has written about nearly all central theological and philosophical issues such as epistemology, metaphysics, theory of mind and ethics. During the “Münstersche Vorlesungen 2007” students and faculty members of the Department of Philosophy at Münster University entered into a skilful and interesting discussion concerning most of Swinburne’s positions. This volume presents (...) their contributions as well as Swinburne's replies. (shrink)
What is a person? This fundamental question is a perennial concern of philosophers and theologians. But, Christian Smith here argues, it also lies at the center of the social scientist’s quest to interpret and explain social life. In this ambitious book, Smith presents a new model for social theory that does justice to the best of our humanistic visions of people, life, and society. Finding much current thinking on personhood to be confusing or misleading, Smith finds inspiration in critical (...) realism and personalism. Drawing on these ideas, he constructs a theory of personhood that forges a middle path between the extremes of positivist science and relativism. Smith then builds on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and William Sewell to demonstrate the importance of personhood to our understanding of social structures. From there he broadens his scope to consider how we can know what is good in personal and social life and what sociology can tell us about human rights and dignity. Innovative, critical, and constructive,_ What Is a Person?_ offers an inspiring vision of a social science committed to pursuing causal explanations, interpretive understanding, and general knowledge in the service of truth and the moral good. (shrink)
Philosophers have argued about the nature and the very existence of free will for centuries. Today, many scientists and scientifically minded commentators are skeptical that it exists, especially when it is understood to require the ability to choose between alternative possibilities. If the laws of physics govern everything that happens, they argue, then how can our choices be free? Believers in free will must be misled by habit, sentiment, or religious doctrine. Why Free Will Is Real defies scientific orthodoxy and (...) presents a bold new defense of free will in the same naturalistic terms that are usually deployed against it. -/- Unlike those who defend free will by giving up the idea that it requires alternative possibilities to choose from, Christian List retains this idea as central, resisting the tendency to defend free will by watering it down. He concedes that free will and its prerequisites—intentional agency, alternative possibilities, and causal control over our actions—cannot be found among the fundamental physical features of the natural world. But, he argues, that’s not where we should be looking. Free will is a “higher-level” phenomenon found at the level of psychology. It is like other phenomena that emerge from physical processes but are autonomous from them and not best understood in fundamental physical terms—like an ecosystem or the economy. When we discover it in its proper context, acknowledging that free will is real is not just scientifically respectable; it is indispensable for explaining our world. (shrink)
What is it for there to be a God, and what reason is there for supposing him to conform to the claims of Christian doctrine? In this pivotal volume of his tetralogy, Richard Swinburne builds a rigorous metaphysical system for describing the world, and applies this to assessing the worth of the Christian tenets of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Part I is dedicated to analyzing the categories needed to address accounts of the divine nature--substance, cause, time, and (...) necessity. Part II begins by setting out, in terms of these categories, the fundamental doctrine of Western religions--that there is a God. After pointing out some of the different ways in which this doctrine can be developed, Swinburne spells out the simplest possible account of divine nature. He then goes on to clarify the implications of this account for the specifically Christian doctrines of the Trinity (that God is "three persons in one substance") and of the Incarnation (that God became incarnate in Jesus Christ). Swinburne finds that there are good reasons to believe the Christian additions to the core Western idea of God. The Christian God builds upon Swinburne's acclaimed previous work to form a self-contained text which will no doubt become a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
It is often argued that higher-level special-science properties cannot be causally efficacious since the lower-level physical properties on which they supervene are doing all the causal work. This claim is usually derived from an exclusion principle stating that if a higherlevel property F supervenes on a physical property F* that is causally sufficient for a property G, then F cannot cause G. We employ an account of causation as differencemaking to show that the truth or falsity of this principle is (...) a contingent matter and derive necessary and sufficient conditions under which a version of it holds. We argue that one important instance of the principle, far from undermining non-reductive physicalism, actually supports the causal autonomy of certain higher-level properties. (shrink)
The goal of this book is to develop a new framework for thinking about what moral character looks like today. My central claim will be that most people have moral character traits, but at the same time they do not have either the traditional ...
This book first reviews Miller's theory of Mixed Traits, as developed in his 2013 book Moral Character: An Empirical Theory. It then engages extensively with situations, the CAPS model in social psychology, and the Big Five Model in personality psychology. It ends by taking up implications for his view in meta-ethics (a modified error theory) and normative ethics (a challenge for virtue ethics).
This chapter discusses the relation between Christian Wolff's philosophy and the methodological views of early modern experimental philosophers. The chapter argues for three claims. First, Wolff's system relies on experience at every step and his views on experiments, observations, hypotheses, and the a priori are in line with those of experimental philosophers. Second, the study of Wolff's views demonstrates the influence of experimental philosophy in early eighteenth-century Germany. Third, references to Wolff's empiricism and rationalism are best identified or replaced (...) with references to his endorsement of the tenets of experimental philosophers and of a mathematical demonstrative method. (shrink)
Applied Christian Ethics addresses selected themes in Christian social ethics. Part one shows the roots of contributors in the realist school; part two focuses on different levels of the significance of economics for social justice; and part three deals with both existential experience and government policy in war and peace issues.
What turns the continuous flow of experience into perceptually distinct objects? Can our verbal descriptions unambiguously capture what it is like to see, hear, or feel? How might we reason about the testimony that perception alone discloses? Christian Coseru proposes a rigorous and highly original way to answer these questions by developing a framework for understanding perception as a mode of apprehension that is intentionally constituted, pragmatically oriented, and causally effective. By engaging with recent discussions in phenomenology and analytic (...) philosophy of mind, but also by drawing on the work of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, Coseru offers a sustained argument that Buddhist philosophers, in particular those who follow the tradition of inquiry initiated by Dign?ga and Dharmak?rti, have much to offer when it comes to explaining why epistemological disputes about the evidential role of perceptual experience cannot satisfactorily be resolved without taking into account the structure of our cognitive awareness. -/- Perceiving Reality examines the function of perception and its relation to attention, language, and discursive thought, and provides new ways of conceptualizing the Buddhist defense of the reflexivity thesis of consciousness-namely, that each cognitive event is to be understood as involving a pre-reflective implicit awareness of its own occurrence. Coseru advances an innovative approach to Buddhist philosophy of mind in the form of phenomenological naturalism, and moves beyond comparative approaches to philosophy by emphasizing the continuity of concerns between Buddhist and Western philosophical accounts of the nature of perceptual content and the character of perceptual consciousness. (shrink)
Christian ethics applied to economics and business has a long tradition. This dates back at least to the thirteenth century, with noteworthy developments in the four following centuries and again in the last century. Christian faith and reason intertwine to bring about principles, criteria, and guidelines for action and a set of virtues with relevance for economic activity. Christian spirituality, with 2000 years of history, has been embedded in Christianity from its beginning, but the application to modern (...) business activity is relatively recent. This article introduces a special issue which, we hope, will make its own small contribution to the developments of both Christian ethics and spirituality in the leading business organizations. After a short historical overview and a consideration of the current situation of Christian ethics and spirituality in business, we introduce the papers selected for this issue. (shrink)
Since a couple of decades, the notion of a precautionary principle plays a central and increasingly influential role in international as well as national policy and regulation regarding the environment and the use of technology. Urging society to take action in the face of potential risks of human activities in these areas, the recent focus on climate change has further sharpened the importance of this idea. However, the idea of a precautionary principle has also been problematised and criticised by scientists, (...) scholars and policy activists, and been accused of almost every intellectual sin imaginable: unclarity, impracticality, arbitrariness and moral as well as political unsoundness. In that light, the very idea of precaution as an ideal for policy making rather comes out as a dead end. On the basis of these contrasting starting points, Christian Munthe undertakes an innovative, in-depth philosophical analysis of what the idea of a precautionary principle is and should be about. A novel theory of the ethics of imposing risks is developed and used as a foundation for defending the idea of precaution in environmental and technological policy making against its critics, while at the same time avoiding a number of identified flaws. The theory is shown to have far-reaching consequences for areas such as bio-, information- and nuclear technology, and global environmental policy in areas such as climate change. The author argues that, while the price we pay for precaution must not be too high, we have to be prepared to pay it in order to act ethically defensible. A number of practical suggestions for precautionary regulation and policy making are made on the basis of this, and some challenges to basic ethical theory as well as consumerist societies, the global political order and liberal democracy are identified. (shrink)
What kind of animals are human beings? And how do our visions of the human shape our theories of social action and institutions? In Moral, Believing Animals>, Christian Smith advances a creative theory of human persons and culture that offers innovative, challenging answers to these and other fundamental questions in sociological, cultural, and religious theory. Smith suggests that human beings have a peculiar set of capacities and proclivities that distinguishes them significantly from other animals on this planet. Despite the (...) vast differences in humanity between cultures and across history, no matter how differently people narrate their lives and histories, there remains an underlying structure of human personhood that helps to order human culture, history, and narration. Drawing on important recent insights in moral philosophy, epistemology, and narrative studies, Smith argues that humans are animals who have an inescapable moral and spiritual dimension. They cannot avoid a fundamental moral orientation in life and this, says Smith, has profound consequences for how sociology must study human beings. (shrink)
In _An Introduction to Kant’s Aesthetics_, Christian Wenzel discusses and demystifies Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, guiding the reader each step of the way and placing key points of discussion in the context of Kant’s other work. Explains difficult concepts in plain language, using numerous examples and a helpful glossary. Proceeds in the same order as Kant’s text for ease of reference and comprehension. Includes an illuminating foreword by Henry E. Allison. Offers twenty-six further-reading sections, commenting briefly (...) on books and articles from the English, German, and French, that are relevant for each topic Provides an extensive bibliography and a chapter summarizing Kant's main points. (shrink)
Is equality a distributive value or does it rather point to the quality of social relationships? This article criticizes the distributive character of luck egalitarian theories of justice and fleshes out the central characteristics of an alternative, relational approach to equality. It examines a central objection to distributive theories: that such theories cannot account for the significance of how institutions treat people (as opposed to the outcomes they bring about). I discuss two variants of this objection: first, that distributive theories (...) fail to account for the importance of how institutions cause good shortfalls and, second, that they fail to account for the normative attitude of social and political institutions expressed in different ways of treating people. The article argues that the causal variant of the objection has only very limited reach, and endorses the expressive variant: the attitudes expressed by institutions in their treatment of persons, such as contempt or neglect, generate potentially unjust social relationships and hierarchies. This should be the focus of a relational egalitarian approach to social justice. The article proceeds to explain how it is possible that artificial agents such as institutions have attitudes and how these attitudes are not reducible to those of the individuals that sustain them, and argues that distributive theories cannot be so modified as to account for such attitudes. It concludes by indicating several directions for the development of more worked-out conceptions of relational equality on this basis. (shrink)
This book explores Nietzsche's philosophical naturalism in its historical context, showing that his position is best understood against the background of encounters between neo-Kantianism and the life sciences in the nineteenth century. Analyzing most of Nietzsche's writings from the late 1860s onwards, Christian J. Emden reconstructs Nietzsche's naturalism and argues for a new understanding of his account of nature and normativity. Emden proposes historical reasons why Nietzsche came to adopt the position he did; his genealogy of values and his (...) account of a will to power are as much influenced by Kantian thought as they are by nineteenth-century debates on teleology, biological functions, and theories of evolution. This rich and wide-ranging study will be of interest to scholars and students of Nietzsche, the history of modern philosophy, intellectual history, and history of science. (shrink)
My object is to suggest some ways of amplifying and applying Bochenski's account, 1 in order to bring out its value for philosophical investigation of the doctrines of particular religious communities.