The essays in this volume illuminate a central topic in ethical theory: moral dilemmas. Some contemporary philosophers dispute the traditional view that a true moral dilemma -- a situation in which a person has two irreconcilable moral duties -- cannot exist. This collection provides the historical background to the ongoing debate with selections from Kant, Mill, Bradley, and Ross. The best recent work on the question is represented in essays by Donagan, Foot, Hare, Marcus, Nagel, van Fraassen, Williams, and others.
Our lives are such that moral wrongdoing is sometimes inescapable for us. We have moral responsibilities to persons which may conflict and which it is wrong to violate even when they do conflict. Christopher W. Gowans argues that we must accept this conclusion if we are to make sense of our moral experience and the way in which persons are valuable to us. In defending this position, he critically examines the recent moral dilemmas debate. He maintains that what is important (...) in this debate is not whether there are irresolvable moral conflicts, but whether there are moral conflicts in which wrongdoing is unavoidable. Though it would be incoherent to conclude moral deliberation by deciding to perform incompatible actions, he argues that there is nothing incoherent in supposing that we have conflicting moral responsibilities. In this way, he shows that it is possible to capture the intuitions of those who have defended the idea of moral dilemmas while meeting the objections of those who have rejected this idea. Gowans carefully evaluates utilitarian and Kantian analyses of moral dilemmas. He argues that these approaches eliminate genuine moral conflict only by displacing persons as direct objects of moral concern. As an alternative, he develops a more concrete account in which moral responsibilities to persons are central. The book also includes discussions of Melville's Billy Budd, methodology in moral philosophy, moral pluralism, moral tragedy, and "dirty hands" in politics. (shrink)
The first book of its kind, Buddhist Moral Philosophy: An Introduction introduces the reader to contemporary philosophical interpretations and analyses of Buddhist ethics. It begins with a survey of traditional Buddhist ethical thought and practice, mainly in the Pali Canon and early Mahāyāna schools, and an account of the emergence of Buddhist moral philosophy as a distinct discipline in the modern world. It then examines recent debates about karma, rebirth and nirvana, well-being, normative ethics, moral objectivity, moral psychology, and the (...) issue of freedom, responsibility and determinism. The book also introduces the reader to philosophical discussions of topics in socially engaged Buddhism such as human rights, war and peace, and environmental ethics. (shrink)
It is usually assumed that what Lewis says about the given in Mind and the World-Order (MWO) and An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation (AKV) is essentially the same, and that both works are defenses of foundationalism. However, this assumption faces two problems: first, it is difficult to bring Lewis's diverse remarks on the given into coherence, especially when those in MWO are compared with those in AKV; and second, though AKV is a defense of foundationalism, there is much in (...) MWO that can be read as a critique of foundationalism. In this paper a different reading of Lewis is proposed, one that avoids these problems. This is developed by going farther back in Lewis, to his Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, The Place of Intuition in Knowledge (PIK). By tracing Lewis's discussion of the given from PIK through MWO up to AKV, it is shown that the phrase 'the given' is used to refer to two different doctrines, and that Lewis's position on foundationalism undergoes a fundamental change, roughly, from indifference to rejection to acceptance. (shrink)
I argue that the Buddha did not discuss the free will and determinism problem because he only considered issues relating to overcoming suffering and his teaching about this did not raise the problem. As represented in the Nikāyas, the heart of his teaching was an empirically based account of the causes of suffering and how to modify these to end suffering. It was primarily a practical teaching about how to achieve this goal, more a craft knowledge than a philosophical theory (...) of causality. Similarly, the no-self teaching was more about living selflessly than about developing a theoretical analysis of agency. (shrink)
The Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism of Philippa Foot and Rosalind Hursthouse purports to establish a naturalistic criterion for the virtues. Specifically, by developing a parallel between the natural ends of nonhuman animals and the natural ends of human beings, they argue that character traits are justified as virtues by the extent to which they promote and do not inhibit natural ends such as self-preservation, reproduction, and the well-being of one’s social group. I argue that the approach of Foot and Hursthouse cannot (...) provide a basis for moral universalism, the widely-accepted idea that each human being has moral worth and thus deserves significant moral consideration. Foot and Hursthouse both depict a virtuous agent as implicitly acting in accord with moral universalism. However, with respect to charity, a virtue they both emphasize, their naturalistic criterion (especially in the more elaborate form developed by Hursthouse) at best provides a warrant for a restricted form of charity that extends only to a limited number of persons. There is nothing in the natural ends of human beings, as Foot and Hursthouse understand these, that gives us a reason for having any concern for the well-being of human beings as such. (shrink)
Medical analogies are commonly invoked in both Indian Buddhist dharma and Hellenistic philosophy. In the Pāli Canon, nirvana (or, in Pāli,nibbāna) is depicted as a form of health, and the Buddha is portrayed as a doctor who helps us attain it. Much later in the tradition, Śāntideva described the Buddha’s teaching as ‘the sole medicine for the ailments of the world, the mine of all success and happiness.’ Cicero expressed the view of many Hellenistic philosophers when he said that philosophy (...) is ‘a medical science for the mind.’ He thought we should ‘hand ourselves over to philosophy, and let ourselves be healed.’ ‘For as long as these ills [of the mind] remain,’ he wrote, ‘we cannot attain to happiness.’ There are many different forms of medical analogy in these two traditions, but the most general form may be stated as follows: just as medicine cures bodily diseases and brings about physical health, so Buddhist dharma or Hellenistic philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health—where psychological health is understood as the highest form of happiness or well-being. Insofar as Buddhist dharma involves philosophy, as it does, both renditions of the analogy may be said to declare that philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health. This feature of the analogy—philosophy as analogous to medical treatment—has attracted considerable attention. (shrink)
Buddhist thought flourished in India for well over a thousand years after the life of the Buddha around the fifth century BCE. During this time there were many diverse developments, but for the purpose of the overview in this chapter, two central traditions will be featured. The first centers on the original teaching of the Buddha as represented in a set of texts written in Pāli called the “Three Baskets”. The second tradition is rooted in a set of texts written (...) in Sanskrit called the “Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras” that began to emerge a few centuries later, around the beginning of the new millennium. These texts constitute the historical heart of Mahāyāna Buddhism. This chapter demonstrates that in both traditions Buddhist thought in India was fundamentally concerned with ethical values. (shrink)
Kant has long been taxed with an inability to explain the detailed normative content of our lives by making universalizability the sole arbiter of our values. Korsgaard addresses one form of this critique by defending a Kantian theory amended by a seemingly attractive conception of practical identities. Identities are dependent on the contingent circumstances of each person's world. Hence, obligations issuing from them differ from Kantian moral obligations in not applying to all persons. Still, Korsgaard takes Kantian autonomy to mean (...) the normativity of all obligations is rooted in universalizability. The wealth of values informing our lives is thus said to be accommodated within a Kantian framework.After briefly explaining Korsgaard’s understanding of practical identities and their role in her reformation of Kant's moral philosophy, I argue that she gives an inadequate explanation of how the obligations that arise from a person’s practical identities derive their authority from the person's will. I then consider how her position might be developed to meet this objection in accordance with her allegiance to “constructivism” and I argue that the epistemic commitments of people’s actual identities makes it unlikely that such a development could preserve Kantian autonomy as she interprets it. (shrink)
Kant has long been taxed with an inability to explain the detailed normative content of our lives by making universalizability the sole arbiter of our values. Korsgaard addresses one form of this critique by defending a Kantian theory amended by a seemingly attractive conception of practical identities. Identities are dependent on the contingent circumstances of each person's world. Hence, obligations issuing from them differ from Kantian moral obligations in not applying to all persons. Still, Korsgaard takes Kantian autonomy to mean (...) the normativity of all obligations is rooted in universalizability. The wealth of values informing our lives is thus said to be accommodated within a Kantian framework. After briefly explaining Korsgaard's understanding of practical identities and their role in her reformation of Kant's moral philosophy, I argue that she gives an inadequate explanation of how the obligations that arise from a person's practical identities derive their authority from the person's will. I then consider how her position might be developed to meet this objection in accordance with her allegiance to “constructivism” and I argue that the epistemic commitments of people's actual identities makes it unlikely that such a development could preserve Kantian autonomy as she interprets it. (shrink)
Can moral disagreements be rationally resolved? Can universal human rights be defended in face of moral disagreements? The problem of moral disagreement is one of the central problems in moral thinking. It also provides a stimulating stepping-stone to some of the perennial problems of philosophy, such as relativism, scepticism, and objectivity. _Moral Disagreements_ is the first anthology to bring together classic and contemporary readings on this key topic. Clearly divided into five parts; The Historical Debate; Voices from Anthropology; Challenges to (...) Moral Objectivity; Defenses of Moral Objectivity; and New Directions, the anthology presents readings from the following key thinkers: * Sextus, Empiricus, Chagnon, Wong, MacIntyre * Aquinas, Shweder, Brink, Rawls * Montaigne, Turner, Nussbaum, Narayan * Hume, Mackie, Gewirth * Nietzsche, Williams, Berlin. A distinctive feature of the anthology is that it brings philosophers into dialogue with well-known anthropologists. Also included is a comprehensive introduction by Christopher Gowans, introducing the problem of moral disagreement to those coming to the topic for the first time. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: Abstract Introduction The Confrontation of Aristotelian Virtue Ethics and Moral Relativism Foot's Challenge MacIntyre's Tradition ‐ Based Defense of the Virtues Nussbaum's Non ‐ Relative Virtues The Ethical Naturalism of Foot and Hursthouse References.
"The book defends the thesis that the concept of self-cultivation philosophy is an informative interpretive framework for comprehending and reflecting on several philosophical outlooks in India, the Greco-Roman world and China. On the basis of an understanding of human nature and the place of human beings in the world, self-cultivation philosophies maintain that our lives can and should be substantially transformed from what is judged to be a problematic, untutored condition of human beings, our existential starting-point, into what is put (...) forward as an ideal state of being. We are to do this by undertaking a set of therapeutic or spiritual exercises guided by some philosophical analysis. The self-cultivation philosophies in India are expressed in: the Bhagavad Gītā; the Sāṃkhya and Yoga philosophies of Īśvarakṛṣṇa and Patañjali; and teaching of the Buddha and his followers Buddhaghosa and Śāntideva. The philosophies originating in Greece, with subsequent development in the Roman period, are the most prominent Hellenistic approaches: the Epicureanism of Epicurus, Lucretius and Philodemus; the Stoicism of Chrysippus, Epictetus and Seneca; and Pyrrho and the Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus. The self-cultivation philosophies from China are the early Confucian outlooks of Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi; the classical Daoist perspectives of the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi; and the Chan tradition of Bodhidharma, Huineng and Linji"--. (shrink)
The paper is a defense of the thesis that there are situations in which morally virtuous persons who are epistemic peers may disagree about what to do without either person being rationally required to change his or her judgment (a version of the Steadfast position in the epistemology of disagreement debate). The argument is based in part on similarities between decisions of virtuous agents and other practical decisions such as a baseball manager’s decision to change pitchers during a game. In (...) both cases, the role and responsibilities of the person making the decision and the complexities of the decision favor the Steadfast position. At the end of the paper, the argument for this position is compared with discussions of traditional arguments against moral objectivity that are based onmoral disagreements, and it is suggested that they involve rather different considerations. (shrink)
It is often observed that there is little or no moral philosophy in classical Indian Buddhist thought. This is sometimes believed to be surprising since obviously there is an ethical teaching in Buddhism and clearly there are other forms of Buddhist philosophy. In my view, there is something that can plausibly be called moral philosophy in Indian Buddhism, but it is not quite what many people have expected because they have approached the issue from a specific understanding of philosophy that (...) is too limited. I propose to defend this interpretation by reshaping Mark Siderits’ concept of fusion philosophy. The fusion I will propose reveals a form of moral philosophy that may be called self-cultivation philosophy. I will argue that this was a common activity in ancient Chinese, Greek and Indian cultures—including especially early Buddhist thought and practice. (shrink)
The integrity of corporate product advocates (advertisers and salespersons) is questionable for the same reason the integrity of lawyers is questionable. In both cases the requirements of a professional role inevitably lead to forms of deception. However, the integrity of lawyers has been taken to be a more serious issue than the integrity of product advocates. I consider why this is so, and I conclude that we should pay more attention to the integrity issue in the corporate case. In addition, (...) I consider a parallel set of arguments that purport to justify a lack of integrity among product advocates and lawyers respectively. According to these arguments, a great social good is obtained from the institutions, corporate and legal, of which these persons are essential participants. Against these arguments, I emphasize the overriding importance of integrity, both within institutions and in society at large. (shrink)