Erving Goffman’s “Asylums” is a key text in the development of contemporary, community-orientated mental health practice. It has survived as a trenchant critique of the asylum as total institution, and its publication in 1961 in book form marked a further stage in the discrediting of the asylum model of mental health care. In this paper, some responses from a range of disciplines to this text, 50 years on, are presented. A consultant psychiatrist with a special interest in cultural psychiatry and (...) mental health legislation, two collaborating psychotherapists in adult and forensic mental health, a philosopher, and a recent medical graduate, present their varying responses to the text. The editors present these with the hope of encouraging further dialogue and debate from service users, carers, clinicians, and academics and researchers across a range of disciplines. (shrink)
We draw on ancient Greek philosophy and contemporary psychosocial theorists to analyse the ethical implications of social policies implemented through the welfare state with the espoused objective of achieving social inclusion. We argue that many such policies establish a boundary between domains of inclusion and exclusion that perversely maintains the very problem such policies are designed to solve. They then also provide ?rationalisations? for social exclusion which imply that such states can be explained?that they are ethical, and so legitimate. We (...) illustrate our argument with reference to a specific area of social policy?Improving Access to Psychological Therapies?and discuss how it impacts on our own area of practice as state employed psychotherapists. We analyse how this policy frames aspects of social exclusion (un(der)employment?) as a ?psychological? problem: a move that grants the excluded a specific kind of identity and then locates the problem of exclusion in this identity. We invoke Plato's Republic to show how this offer of psychological ?help? subliminally suggests that these mental disorders result from individuals' failures to ?know their place? and to ?mind their own business?, rather than as a consequence of complex networks of social (dis)orders, exclusions and injustices within which we are all embedded. (shrink)
Philosophers of education attempting to develop a reasoned programme of moral education often struggle with the fact that moral philosophy provides many diverse and conflicting accounts of the ethical life. Typically, attempts to resolve the conflict by demonstrating the superiority or priority of a chosen ethical framework have often played out in applied philosophy of education in terms of the development of rival, and often incompatible, moral education curricula. However, recent developments in scholarship have evinced a move to a more (...) pluralistic account of moral education, incorporating insights from a variety of moral paradigms. This shift offers opportunities in the application of moral theory to contemporary issues in education.This essay seeks to define different approaches to pluralism in moral education and critically assess them. Finally, I show how recent work by T.M. Scanlon on moral permissibility stands as an excellent example of how developments in moral theory can make important contributions at the level of applied philosophy to the furtherance of a comprehensive account of moral education in ways that require neither a narrow monolithic nor a radically pluralistic approach. (shrink)
In "What We Owe to Each Other", T. M. Scanlon argues that one should save the greater number when faced with the choice between saving one life and two or more different lives. It is, Scanlon claims, a virtue of this argument that it does not appeal to the claims of groups of individuals but only to the claims of individuals. I demonstrate that this argument for saving the greater number, indeed, depends, contrary to what Scanlon says, (...) upon an appeal to the claim of a group of individuals to be saved. (shrink)
In this new book Moral Dimensions, T. M. Scanlon (2008) explores the ethical significance of the intentions and motives with which people act. According to Scanlon, these intentions and motives do not have any direct bearing on the permissibility of the act. Thus, Scanlon claims that the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) is mistaken. However, the way in which someone is motivated to act has a direct bearing on what Scanlon calls the act's "meaning". One (...) particularly important kind of "meaning" that an act can have consists in the ways in which it is appropriate for various people to blame the agent for the act. So the book ends with an extended analysis of blame and blameworthiness. (shrink)
We often say that one reason is stronger, or weightier, than another. These are metaphors. What does normative strength or weight really consist in? Scanlon (2014) offers a novel answer to this question. His answer appeals to counterfactuals of various kinds. I argue that appealing to counterfactuals leads to deep problems for his view.
Thomas Scanlon and Derek Parfit have recently defended a meta-ethical view that is supposed to satisfy realistic intuitions about morality, without the metaphysical implications that many find hard to accept in other realist views. Both philosophers argue that truths in the normative domain do not have ontological implications, while truths in the scientific domain presuppose a metaphysical reality. What distinguishes Scanlon and Parfit’s approach from other realistic meta-ethical theories is that they maintain that normative entities exist in a (...) way that is different from (some) non-normative entities. Moreover, they think that this view about the way normative entities exist helps to answer the metaphysical worries that are often thought to plague non-naturalism. To make sense of this idea, I develop their view as a version of alethic pluralism: the position that there is more than one truth property. I argue, however, that when their view is developed in this way it fails to satisfy realistic intuitions about morality. This shows that on a plausible and initially promising reading of what it takes for a normative entity to exist in a way that is different from non-normative entities, Parfit’s and Scanlon’s non-metaphysical moral realism fails to be more realistic than contemporary versions of anti-realism. (shrink)
In his book Moral Dimensions. Permissibility, Meaning, Blame , T.M. Scanlon proposes a new account of permissibility, and argues, against the doctrine of double effect (DDE), that intentions do not matter for permissibility. I argue that Scanlon's account of permissibility as based on what the agent should have known at the time of action does not sufficiently take into account Scanlon's own emphasis on permissibility as a question for the deliberating agent. A proper account of permissibility, based (...) on the agent's actual beliefs, will allow us to revise the principle Scanlon proposes for regulating the use of violence in war, and to show that, while the DDE as such might be invalid, its focus on intentions does point toward an important element which Scanlon's proposal lacks, viz. the requirement that the agent believes that her actions will have certain consequences and can be justified for that reason. (shrink)
An introduction to the March, 2005 symposium “The Political Theory of Organizations: A Retrospective Examination of Christopher McMahon’s Authority and Democracy” held in San Francisco as part of the Society for Business Ethics Group Meeting at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.
This article examines the philosophical teaching of a colorful Oxford alumnus and Roman Catholic convert, Christopher Davenport, also known as Franciscus à Sancta Clara or Francis Coventry. At the peak of Puritan power during the English Interregnum and after five of his Franciscan confrères had perished for their missionary work, our author tried boldly to claim modern cosmology and atomism as the unrecognized fruits of medieval Scotism. His hope was to revive English pride in the golden age of medieval (...) Oxford and to defend English Franciscans as more legitimately patriotic and scientifically progressive than Puritan millenarians. (shrink)
According to the Principle of Double Effect (PDE), there are conditions under which it would be morally justifiable to cause some harm as a foreseen side-effect of one's action even though it would not be justifiable to form and execute the intention of causing the same harm. If we take the kind of justification in question to be that of moral permissibility, this principle correctly maps common intuitions about when it would be permissible to act in certain ways. T.M. (...) class='Hi'>Scanlon argues that the PDE so interpreted is problematic, as it returns implausible verdicts in other scenarios. Scanlon is unable to account for the common pattern of moral reasoning that we employ in the relevant cases. I argue that we can account for this pattern while avoiding implausible verdicts if we interpret the PDE as a principle about when it is licit to inflict harm rather than when it is permissible to do so, and if we connect the concept of the licit with that of the permissible in the right way. (shrink)
I argue that Scanlon's Value of Choice View does not offer a plausible account of substantive responsibility. I offer a new account, which I call the Potential Value of Opportunities View. On this view, when a person is in a position to freely and capably make an informed choice, we assess her situation not by the outcome she achieves but by the potential value of her opportunities. This value depends on the value of the various things that she can (...) achieve through her choices, as well as on how disposed she is to choose her better options and avoid her worse options. This view explains the priority we give to preventing harm that a person cannot avoid by choosing appropriately over harm that a person can so avoid by the fact that the second person has a valuable opportunity that the first does not have. It explains the importance of protecting people against choosing badly by the value of being placed in circumstances in which one is disposed to choose well, and the disvalue of being exposed to the danger of coming to harm by choosing badly. (shrink)
The untimely passing of Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Newell, AM, came as a shock to many in the bioethics world. As well as an obituary, this article notes a number of important themes in his work, and provides a select bibliography. Christopher's major contribution to this field is that he was one of a handful of scholars who made disability not only an acceptable area of bioethics—indeed a vital, central, fertile area of enquiry. Crucially Christopher emphasised that (...) where we do ethics is actually in everyday life—while we mourn his passing, his rich work and example will continue to inspire bioethical inquiry. (shrink)
This paper is about Christopher Wren’s engravings for Thomas Willis’ The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves of 1664. It is a study in the intersection of medicine and art in 17th century Britain. Willis, an eminent English physician and anatomist, was a major figure in the development of modern neurology, and The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves was his most famous and influential book. Wren was Willis’ assistant and medical artist. I discuss the visual strategies employed by (...) Wren to present their research and frame it as genuine knowledge. (shrink)
In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in various (...) spheres of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
Professor Christopher Stead was Ely Professor of Divinity from 1971 until his retirement in 1980 and one of the great contributors to the Oxford Patristic Conferences for many years. In this paper I reflect on his work in Patristics, and I attempt to understand how his interests diverged from the other major contributors in the same period, and how they were formed by his philosophical milieu and the spirit of the age. As a case study to illustrate and diagnose (...) his approach, I shall focus on a debate between Stead and Rowan Williams about the significance of the word idios in Arius's theology (in the course of which I also make some suggestions of my own about the issue). (shrink)
T. M. Scanlon's magisterial book What We Owe to Each Other is surely one of the most sophisticated and important works of moral philosophy to have appeared for many years. It raises fundamental questions about all the main aspects of the subject, and I hope and expect that it will have a decisive influence on the shape and direction of moral philosophy in the years to come. In this essay I shall focus on four sets of issues raised by (...)Scanlon's systematic argument, with the aim of clarifying some of Scanlon's central assumptions and presenting alternatives at several key points. The perspective from which I offer these comments is that of a reader who is sympathetic to Scanlon's general approach but not yet convinced on various points of detail. (shrink)
In Being Realistic About Reasons T. M. Scanlon argues that particular fact about reasons are explained by contingent non-normative facts together with pure normative principles. A question then arises about the modal status of these pure principles. Scanlon maintains that they are necessary in a sense, and suggests that they are ‘metaphysically’ necessary. I argue that the best view for Scanlon to take, given his other commitments, is that these pure normative principles are metaphysically contingent in some (...) cases and necessary only in a weaker sense. (shrink)
Decisions to use antibiotics require that patient interests are balanced against the public good, that is, control of antibiotic resistance. Patients carry the risks of suboptimal antibiotic treatment and many physicians are reluctant to impose even small avoidable risks on patients. At the same time, antibiotics are overused and antibiotic-resistant microbes are contributing an increasing burden of adverse patient outcomes. It is the criteria that we can use to reject the use of antibiotics that is the focus of this paper. (...)Scanlon's contractualism explains why antibiotics should not be used to gain small benefits, even when the direct costs of antibiotics are low. We know that some individuals now (and probably more in the future will) carry a burden of irretrievable harm as a consequence of treatment- (antibiotic-) resistant infection. If we accept that the dominant justification for use of antibiotics is to prevent irretrievable harm to an individual or contact, then the use of antibiotics for self-limiting conditions, or for the treatment of individuals with conditions for which antibiotics do not substantially impact on outcomes (eg, in the latter stages of terminal illness), or for access based on preference or willingness to pay (internet or over-the-counter access), or the use of antibiotics as animal growth promoters can be rejected. Scanlon's approach also suggests that, with few new antibiotics in the pipeline and an increasing burden of disease attributable to resistant microbes, control of the spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes should be given increasing priority. (shrink)
This is a longer critical notice of T.M. Scanlon's book Moral Dimensions. The main crux of the article is to investigate how Scanlon's claims about the moral significance of intentions and reactive attitudes in this book fit with the earlier contractualist ethical theory which he presented in What We Owe to Each Other.
A notable achievement of T.M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other is its sustained critique of welfarist consequentialism. Consequentialism is the doctrine that one morally ought always to do an act, of the alternatives, that brings about a state of affairs that is no less good than any other one could bring about. Welfarism is the view that what makes a state of affairs better or worse is some increasing function of the welfare for persons realized in it. (...) I shall argue that Scanlon’s critique, though containing much of interest, fails on its own terms. (shrink)
According to some contemporary nonnaturalists about normativity , normative facts exist in an ontologically non-committing sense. These nonnaturalists face an explanatory burden. They must explain their claim that normative facts exist in such a sense. I identify criteria for an adequate explanation, and extract five distinct candidate explanations from the writings of these authors . I assess each. None is both informative and recognizable as a version of contemporary nonnaturalism. In light of this, I assess the best options for proponents (...) of this view. (shrink)
This “open letter” to Christopher Boorse is a response to his influential naturalist analysis of disease from the perspective of linguistic-analytic value theory. The key linguistic-analytic point against Boorse is that, although defining disease value free, he continue to use the term with clear evaluative connotations. A descriptivist analysis of disease would allow value-free definition consistently with value-laden use: but descriptivism fails when applied to mental disorder because it depends on shared values whereas the values relevant to mental disorders (...) are highly diverse. A part-function analysis, similarly, although initially persuasive for physical disorders, fails with the psychotic mental disorders because these, characteristically, involve disturbances of the rationality of the person as a whole. The difficulties encountered in applying naturalism to mental disorders point, linguistic-analytically, to the possibility that there is, after all, an evaluative element of meaning, deeply hidden but still logically operative, in the concept of disease. (shrink)
I distinguish several arguments Kamm and Scanlon make against Taurek's claim that it is permissible to save smaller groups of people rather than larger. I then argue that none succeeds. This is a companion to my "Saving the Few.".
This article offers a critique of Thomas Scanlon's well-known account of promissory obligation by reference to the rights of promisees. Scanlon's account invokes a moral principle, the "principle of fidelity". Now, corresponding to a promisor's obligation to perform is a promisee's right to performance. It is argued that one cannot account for this right in terms of Scanlon's principle. This is so in spite of a clause in the principle relating to the promisee's "consent", which might have (...) been thought to do the trick. Most likely this argument can be applied to all "moral principle" accounts of promissory obligation. An alternative both to these and to "social practice" accounts is needed. (shrink)
According to one formulation of Scanlon’s contractualist principle, certain acts are wrong if they are permitted by principles that are reasonably rejectable because they permit such acts. According to the redundancy objection, if a principle is reasonably rejectable because it permits actions which have feature F, such actions are wrong simply in virtue of having F and not because their having F makes principles permitting them reasonably rejectable. Consequently Scanlon’s contractualist principle adds nothing to the reasons we have (...) not to act wrongly and is redundant. (shrink)
Roger Crisp has inspired two important criticisms of Scanlon's buck-passing account of value. I defend buck-passing from the wrong kind of reasons criticism, and the reasons and the good objection. I support Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen's dual role of reasons in refuting the wrong kind of reasons criticism, even where its authors claim it fails. Crisp's reasons and the good objection contends that the property of goodness is buck-passing in virtue of its formality. I argue that Crisp conflates general and (...) formal properties, and that Scanlon is ambiguous about whether the formal property of a reason can stop the buck. Drawing from Wallace, I respond to Crisp's reasons and the good objection by developing an augmented buck-passing account of reasons and value, where the buck is passed consistently from the formal properties of both to the substantive properties of considerations and evaluative attitudes. I end by describing two unresolved problems for buck-passers. (shrink)
Paul Grice warned that ‘the nature of conventional implicature needs to be examined before any free use of it, for explanatory purposes, can be indulged in’ (1978/1989: 46). Christopher Potts heeds this warning, brilliantly and boldly. Starting with a definition drawn from Grice’s few brief remarks on the subject, he distinguishes conventional implicature from other phenomena with which it might be confused, identifies a variety of common but little-studied kinds of expressions that give rise to it, and develops a (...) formal, multidimensional semantic framework for systematically capturing its distinctive character. The book is a virtuosic blend of astute descriptive observations and technically sophisticated formulations. Fortunately for the technically unsophisticated reader, the descriptive observations can be appreciated on their own. (shrink)
Scanlon suggests a buck-passing account of goodness. To say that something is good is not to give a reason to, say, favour it; rather it is to say that there are such reasons. When it comes to wrongness, however, Scanlon rejects a buck-passing account: to say that j ing is wrong is, on his view, to give a sufficient moral reason not to j. Philip Stratton-Lake 2003 argues that Scanlon can evade a redundancy objection against his ( (...) class='Hi'>Scanlon’s) view of wrongness by adopting a buck-passing account of wrongness. We argue that this manoeuvre does not succeed. Scanlon’s notion of wrongness rests on the idea of a reasonably rejectable principle. As Stratton-Lake points out, Scanlon offers two accounts, one in terms of permission, the other in terms of proscription. The permission account is tricky to formulate. Scanlon’s account (quoted in Stratton-Lake 2003: 71) might suggest any of the following four formulations (where the principles in question are principles ‘governing how one may act’ (Scanlon.. (shrink)
In the opening chapter of What We Owe To Each Other, Tim Scanlon produces a sustained critique of a Humean conception of practical reason. Scanlon claims he will argue that unless having a desire just is to see something as a reason, desires play no role in the explanation or justification of action. Yet his specific arguments against Humeanism all employ a very austere understanding of desire , and attempt to show that desires so understood are not up (...) to any explanatory or justificatory task. Since the standard model represents only one understanding of desire his specific arguments cannot establish his stated general thesis. I show how a more robust conception of desire will leave the Humean account safe from Scanlon’s specific arguments. (shrink)
This paper is a short review of T.M. Scanlon's book What We Owe to Each Other. The book itself is already a philosophical classic. It defends a contractualist ethical theory but also has many interesting things to say about reasons, value, well-being, promises, relativism, and so on.
In his recent book, Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus, Christopher Brown has argued that the metaphysics of St. Thomas is preferable to contemporary analyticviews because it can solve the “problem of material constitution” (PMC) without requiring us to relinquish any of the common-sense beliefs that generate that problem. In this critical study, I show that in the case of both substances and aggregates, Brown’s Aquinas endorses views that are extremely implausible. Consequently, even if it is granted that the (...) solutions to the PMC fall right out of his views, it is still not clear that this gives us reason to prefer his ontology to its competitors. I also consider Brown’s take on the status of the human being after death. (shrink)
Christopher Bennett has argued that state support of conjugal relationships can be founded on the unique contribution such relationships make to the autonomy of their participants by providing them with various forms of recognition and support unavailable elsewhere. I argue that, in part because a long history of interaction between two people who need each other’s validation tends to produce less meaningful responses over time, long-term conjugal relationships are unlikely to provide autonomy-enhancing support to their participants. To the extent (...) that intimate relationships can provide a unique form of reciprocal support, Bennett fails to show that couples have an advantage over multiple-partner arrangements in doing so. (shrink)
A relatively detailed review (~ 4000 words) of Christopher Mole's (2010) book "Attention is Cognitive Unison". I suggest that Mole makes a good case against many types of reductivist accounts of attention, using the right kind of methodology. Yet, I argue that his adverbialist theory is not the best articulation of the crucial anti-reductivist insight. The distinction between adverbial and process-first phenomena he draws remains unclear, anti-reductivist process theories can escapte his arguments, and finally I provide an argument for (...) why no personal level adverbialism can provide a complete and unified theory of attention. Despite my disagreements, I have learned a lot from engaging with Mole's book. It's a central contribution to the new philosophical literature on attention. (shrink)
Christopher Johnson has put forward in this journal the view that ad hominem reasoning may be more generally reasonable than is allowed by writers such as myself, basing his view on virtue epistemology. I review his account, as well as the standard account, of ad hominem reasoning, and show how the standard account would handle the cases he sketches in defense of his own view. I then give four criticisms of his view generally: the problems of virtue conflict, vagueness, (...) conflation of speech acts, and self-defeating counsel. I then discuss four reasons why the standard account is superior: it better fits legal reality, the account of other fallacies, psychological science, and political reality. (shrink)