In this article we argue that puzzle of tax compliance can be explained, at least in part, by recognizing the typically neglected role of ethics in individual behavior; that is, individuals do not always behave as the selfish, rational, self-interested individuals portrayed in the standard neoclassical paradigm, but rather are often motivated by many other factors that have as their main foundation some aspects of “ethics.” We argue that it is not possible to understand fully an individual’s compliance decisions without (...) considering in some form these ethical dimensions. Specifically, we argue here that there is much direct and indirect evidence that ethics differ across individuals and that these differences matter in significant ways for their compliance decisions. We then put this in the larger context of the inability of the standard neoclassical paradigm to explain compliance of at least some individuals, and we suggest several possible avenues by which theory can be expanded to incorporate ethics. We conclude by arguing that a full house of compliance strategies is needed to combat tax evasion, strategies that include the traditional “enforcement” paradigm suggested by and consistent with neoclassical theory, a less traditional “service” paradigm that recognizes the important role of a “kinder and gentler” tax administration in encouraging compliance, and, importantly, a new “trust” paradigm that is built on the foundation of ethics, in which the tax administration must recognize that it can erode the ethics of taxpayers by its own decisions. (shrink)
According to the self-defense view, the moral justification of punishment is derived from the moral justification of an earlier threat of punishment for an offense. According to the forfeiture view, criminals can justly be punished because they have forfeited certain rights in virtue of their crimes. The paper defends three theses about these two views. (1) The self-defense view is false because the right to threaten retaliation is not independent of the right to carry out that threat. (2) A more (...) plausible account of the right to threaten says instead that the right to retaliate is primary to the right to threaten, and that the former right in turn arises because aggressors forfeit the right not to suffer retaliation. (3) The ?fair warning thesis,? according to which just punishment must be preceded by a threat, is less plausible than first appearances suggest and is therefore no serious obstacle to the view of threats described above. (shrink)
In this article I will describe the main elements of the Norwegian presss moral confrontation with the Government Pension Funds ethical investment management when it was in an introductory phase in early 2005, with special emphasis on one newspaper, Stavanger Aftenblad. The press criticized the funds fresh investment profile and intended exclusionary practice before it had really started in earnest. Then I will focus on how the presss unilateral criticism of the funds investment practice at the time overshadowed a discussion (...) of any defects in the ethical principles for investment. And I will focus on the presss lack of distinguishing between information and sensation. In conclusion I point out that in 2006 the press has abandoned its critical stance from 2005 and has now a tendency to idealize the funds exclusionary practice and the underlying principles. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize the standard argument for deontological egalitarianism, understood as the thesis that there is a moral claim to have an equal share of well-being or whatever other good counts. That argument is based on the idea that equals should be treated equally. I connect the debate over egalitarianism with that over comparative justice. A common theme is a general skepticism against comparative claims. I argue (i) that there can be no claim to equality based simply on (...) the fact of equal worth as that fact itself does not have any value for the supposed claim holder; and (ii) intuitions that suggest otherwise can be explained away without appealing to comparative claims. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the view that persons have a claim to deserved treatment, including many forms of punishment, against an objection resting on the principle that it is not possible to have a claim to harmful treatment. I do not challenge this principle, but argue, rather, that the harms wrongdoers typically deserve either (a) are not genuine harms at all (for reasons relevant to their being deserved) or (b) are not relevant to the content of these wrongdoers' claims.
In this paper, I consider the question of whether crime victims can be said to have a moral right to see their victimizers punished that could explain why they often feel wronged or cheated when the state fails to punish offenders. In the first part, I explain what I mean by a “right to punishment” and what it is for such a right to “explain” the frustrated crime victim’s reaction. In the second part, I distinguish such a right from a (...) Lockean-style right to punish, which is also shown incapable of providing the needed explanation. In the third part I argue that it is difficult to identify any benefit such that the right to punishment could plausibly be understood as a right to that benefit. I discuss two main candidates here: the vaguely Hegelian idea that punishment is itself some sort of restitution for the wrong done to the victim; and the idea, due to Victor Tadros, that punishment is a form of compensation for wrongdoing by contributing indirectly to protecting victims from future harm. In the final section, I suggest instead that the frustrated crime victim’s reaction, when justified, is best explained, not by the violation of any right to punishment, but rather by the state’s failure to treat the victim as an equal. (shrink)
I argue that a defense of deontological restrictions need not resort to what I call the 'Good/Bad asymmetry', according to which it is morally more important to avoid harming others than to prevent just such harm. I replace this paradoxical asymmetry with two non-paradoxical ones. These are the following: We ought to treat an act of preventing harm to persons precisely as such , rather than as the causing of a benefit; but we ought to treat an act that causes (...) harm precisely as such , rather than as the prevention of a benefit. It is morally more important not to cause harm than to cause benefit. I show how we can use those asymmetries, together with certain other assumptions, to defend restrictions. I also offer a partial defense of the first of the two asymmetries. (shrink)
I distinguish between two forms of consequentialism: reductionist and anti-reductionist. Reductionist consequentialism holds that the deontic properties of rightness and wrongness are identical with the axiological properties of optimality and suboptimality, respectively. Anti-reductionist consequentialism denies this identification, hence accepting what I call the autonomy of the deontic. In this article I ignore reductionist consequentialism. Instead I argue that anti-reductionist consequentialism is deeply problematic or even incoherent. Simply put, the main point is that the criterion of rightness of any ethical theory (...) that respects the autonomy of the deontic must entail that an object that meets that criterion is an action, and anti-reductionist consequentialism does not meet that requirement (while certain competing theories arguably do). (shrink)
Atomism is defined as the view that the moral value of any object is ultimately determined by simple features whose contribution to the value of an object is always the same, independently of context. A morally fundamental feature, in a given context, is defined as one whose contribution in that context is determined by no other value fact. Three theses are defended, which together entail atomism: (1) All objects have their moral value ultimately in virtue of morally fundamental features; (2) (...) If a feature is morally fundamental, then its contribution is always the same; (3) Morally fundamental features are simple. (shrink)
This paper offers a partial justification of so-called "deontological restrictions." Specifically it defends the "self/other asymmetry," that we are morally obligated to treat our own agency, and thus its results, as specially important. The argument rests on a picture of moral obligation of a broadly Kantian sort. In particular, it rests on the basic normative assumption that our fundamental obligations are determined by the principles which a rational being as such would follow. These include principles which it is not essential (...) for rational beings to accept, but acceptance of which we could non-arbitrarily attribute to them simply in their capacity as rational. Among these principles is the asymmetry mentioned above. (shrink)
This paper argues that to any agent‐relative value maker there will correspond an agent‐neutral value maker, and the latter explains the former; and that to each agent‐relative constitutive ground there corresponds a neutral one, and the latter explains the former. It follows from , if not from , that agent‐neutral value exists if agent‐relative value does.
Two generally recognized moral duties are to reciprocate benefits one has received from others and to compensate harms one has done to others. In this paper I want to show that it is not possible to give an adequate account of either duty – or at least one that corresponds to our actual practices – within a contractualist moral theory of the type developed by T. M. Scanlon (1982, 1998). This fact is interesting in its own right, as contractualism is (...) a leading contemporary contender among deontological moral theories, and the two duties I have mentioned are fairly standard ingredients of such theories. But it also serves to highlight a general problem with contractualism, at least in Scanlon’s version – namely its one-dimensional view of the keystone of any plausible deontological theory: the idea of respect for persons. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a partial defense of a constitutivist view according to which it is possible to defend fundamental requirements of practical reason by appeal to facts about what is constitutive of rational agency. I show how it is possible for that approach to circumvent the ‘is’/’ought’ problem as well as the requirement that it be possible to act contrary to practical reason. But I do not attempt to establish any particular fundamental requirement. The key ideas are that (...) such a requirement is not genuine if it is arbitrary, and that it is arbitrary just in case (a) it needs explanation and (b) that explanation could not, even in principle, be provided. (shrink)
The paper argues that promise rights presuppose independently existing (if not pre-existing) claims. The argument relies on the Bifurcation Thesis, according to which all claims, and all rights, can be exhaustively divided into two categories: capacity based and exercise based.
In this paper I offer a partial defense of a constitutivist view according to which it is possible to defend fundamental requirements of practical reason by appeal to facts about what is constitutive of rational agency. I show how it is possible for that approach to circumvent the ‘is’/’ought’ problem as well as the requirement that it be possible to act contrary to practical reason. But I do not attempt to establish any particular fundamental requirement. The key ideas are that (...) such a requirement is not genuine if it is arbitrary, and that it is arbitrary just in case it needs explanation and that explanation could not, even in principle, be provided. (shrink)
The intentions to simulate human cognition are permanently increasing. Nonetheless, our knowledge about human cognition is based on fragments of different points of view. Hence, it is necessary to examine which demands these points of view make on technologies aiming at simulating human cognition. In this paper it is argued that no technology can function beyond the cognitive abilities of its constructor. It seems that the cognitive limits and constrains of the constructor will also be implanted in the technologies. It (...) is perhaps the right time to think about what kind of future we are going to create by means of an artificial cognition built upon fragmentary, and many times confusing, premises. (shrink)
According to what we could call the "liberal" theory of distributive justice, people do not deserve the money they are able to make in the market for contributing to the economy. Yet the standard arguments for that view, which center on the fact that persons have very limited control over the size of their contributions, would also seem to imply that persons cannot deserve admiration, appreciation, esteem, praise and so on for these and other contributions. The control asymmetry is this: (...) the first conclusion of these arguments is acceptable but the second not. This paper is an effort to defend that claim, but without appeal to the notion of control. (shrink)
This paper discusses trust between stakeholders, with special emphasis on a new theory from the social sciences and ends up by focusing on a multidimensional dilemma between trust and control. Harald Grimen, an influential philosopher, social scientist and ethicist in Norway, defined trust as a communicative action between a trust-giver and a trust-receiver, characterized by the giver taking few precautions. This first part of his theory provides the basis for a specified interpretation of trust as a collective undertaking among stakeholders (...) in modern organizations, such as financial companies, constituting chains of trust. The phenomenon of cooperation is fundamental in such chains. Grimen’s theoretical focus on trust as a single action, and on the chain of cooperation as several interconnected actions, represents a corrective to the psychological and individualistic profile of mainstream research on trust and converges toward principal-agent theories. The paper uses Grimen’s theory to work out a hypothesis about a chain of trust between stakeholders in the financial industry, promoting a multi-efficient cooperation between them. The multi-efficiency of chains of trust is also discussed in connection with the risk of violating different ethical norms. The risk brings to focus the corresponding need for chains of control as a means to reduce the risk of violations of norms. But the chain of control has not only this advantage, but also a disadvantage. The inefficiency of chains of control is a severe hindrance to the efficiency of the chain of trust, even if it reduces the risk of violation of norms. The paper ends by underscoring a multidimensional dilemma typical for cooperation between stakeholders in modern organizations, i.e. the fundamental dilemma between the advantages and disadvantages of both chains of trust and chains of control. (shrink)
The paper addresses a puzzle about the proportionality requirement on self-defense due to L. Alexander. Indirectly the puzzle is also relevant to the proportionality requirement on punishment, insofar as the right to punish is derived from the right to self-defense. Alexander argues that there is no proportionality requirement on either self-defense or punishment, as long as the aggressor/offender has been forewarned of the risk of a disproportional response. To support his position Alexander appeals to some puzzle cases, challenging us to (...) explain why the requirement applies in some of them when it clearly does not in others. The paper responds to his challenge by answering two questions: why does the proportionality requirement exist in the first place, and when does it apply? The paper argues that the requirement holds because of our need to protect our rights from violation, and that it applies to cases where the person defending his rights counts as having imposed a cost on one of the offender’s options. An account is offered of when such cost imposition occurs. (shrink)
The paper presents a compatibilist explanation of why manipulated agents are not responsible for the actions that result from the manipulation. I first show that an agent’s having reason to resent being manipulated into action is a sufficient condition for his not being responsible for that action, and so an adequate explanation of the latter fact in standard cases in which the agent does have reason to resent. I then consider some cases in which, apparently, manipulation is not cause for (...) resentment, and suggest a way of generalizing the original explanation. I also compare the suggested approach with alternatives. (shrink)
It is possible for persons to deserve evaluative attitudes such as admiration and disdain. There is an apparent asymmetry between positive and negative attitudes, however. While the latter appear to be subject to what I will call a "control requirement," the former do not appear to be so subject. I attempt to explain away this asymmetry by appeal to pragmatic factors.
This paper argues that to any agent‐relative value maker there will correspond an agent‐neutral value maker, and the latter explains the former; and that to each agent‐relative constitutive ground there corresponds a neutral one, and the latter explains the former. It follows from, if not from, that agent‐neutral value exists if agent‐relative value does.
This book's thirty essays explore philosophically the nature and morality of sexual perversion, cybersex, masturbation, homosexuality, contraception, same-sex marriage, promiscuity, pedophilia, date rape, sexual objectification, teacher-student relationships, pornography, and prostitution. Authors include Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Nagel, Alan Goldman, John Finnis, Sallie Tisdale, Robin West, Alan Wertheimer, John Corvino, Cheshire Calhoun, Jerome Neu, and Alan Soble, among others. A valuable resource for sex researchers as well as undergraduate courses in the philosophy of sex.
This article explores the writings and thought on the Decalogue of the eminent nineteenth-century English poet, Christina Rossetti, especially in her volume, “Letter and Spirit. Notes on the Commandments”. It offers a corrective to several imbalances in the existing literature. First, scholars who admire Rossetti as a literary figure often neglect and even misunderstand or distort her Christian thought. Second, the study of the history of biblical interpretation has generally excluded women's voices. Third, a preoccupation with the rise of (...) biblical criticism has led scholars to ignore the continuation of devotional and ecclesial readings of Scripture in the nineteenth century and beyond. Rossetti's biblical interpretation is richly attentive to the women of the Bible and to the interests of women readers. It also reflects her Anglo-Catholic identity. Christina Rossetti offers a heightened treatment of the Decalogue which invites readers to realize that the implications of each of the Ten Commandments go wider and deeper than they have hitherto assumed, thereby awakening a greater sense of their own sinfulness. (shrink)
Closely based on the dramatist’s personal experience, Christina Reid’s The Belle of the Belfast City offers a commentary on the life of the Protestant working class in the capital of Northern Ireland in the 1980s from a woman’s perspective. It shows the way eroticism is successfully used by the female characters as a source of emancipation as well as a means not only to secure their strong position in the private domain of the household, but also to challenge the (...) patriarchal structures that prevail in the Irish public sphere. The analysis of the play proposed in this essay focuses on the contrast between the presentation of its male and female characters. I will demonstrate that, while the former group desperately cling to the idea of preserving the social status quo, the latter display a more progressive outlook on the social and sexual politics of the country. In particular, I will investigate how the tensions between the representatives of the two sexes reveal themselves in the corporal sphere. I will argue that, as opposed to the erotically-inhibited and physically-inarticulate male characters, the female dramatis personae take advantage of being more connected to their bodies and use their physicality in an erotic fashion to subvert the rules of the patriarchal system and its strict moral code that limits their social roles to those of respectful mothers, obedient sisters or virtuous wives. (shrink)