Natural law theory has been undergoing a revival, especially in political philosophy and jurisprudence. Yet, most fundamentally, natural law theory is not a political theory, but a moral theory, or more accurately a theory of practical rationality. According to the natural law account of practical rationality, the basic reasons for actions are basic goods that are grounded in the nature of human beings. Practical rationality aims to identify and characterize reasons for action and to explain how choice between actions worth (...) performing can be appropriately governed by rational standards. These standards are justified by reference to features of the human goods that are the fundamental reasons for action. This book is a defence of a contemporary natural law theory of practical rationality, demonstrating its inherent plausibility and engaging systematically with rival egoist, consequentialist, Kantian and virtue accounts. (shrink)
“What do you see when you look at your face in the mirror?” asks J. David Velleman in introducing his philosophical theory of action. He takes this simple act of self-scrutiny as a model for the reflective reasoning of rational agents: our efforts to understand our existence and conduct are aided by our efforts to make it intelligible. Reflective reasoning, Velleman argues, constitutes practical reasoning. By applying this conception, _Practical Reflection_ develops philosophical accounts of intention, free will, and the foundation (...) of morals. This new edition of _Practical Reflection_ contains the original 1989 text along with a new introduction and is the latest entry in The David Hume Series of Philosophy and Cognitive Science Reissues, which keeps in print previously published indispensable works in the area of cognitive science. _ _ _ _. (shrink)
Using a variet y of classical sources, we identify the Owl of Minerva as the European Little Owl and describe its habits. Our not-altogether- serious conclusion is that Hegel was wrong to state that the Owl of Minerva begins its flight only at the falling of the dusk.
In this paper I review and provide a qualified defence of Samaritanism—Christopher Heath Wellman's novel approach to the old-fashioned problem of political obligation. I outline Wellman's theory, clarifying the details, and defend an amended version against a variety of objections concerning, successively, an alleged conflation of duties of care and beneficence, a difficulty concerning the distinction of perfect and imperfect duties, a problem deriving from the 'particularity requirement', and related issues deriving from the international applications of Samaritan values.
Political obligation is concerned with the clash between the individual’s claim to self-governance and the right of the state to claim obedience. It is a central and ancient problem in political philosophy. In this authoritative introduction, Dudley Knowles frames the problem of obligation in terms of the duties citizens have to the state and each other. Drawing on a wide range of key works in political philosophy, from Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume and G. W. F. Hegel to John (...) Rawls, A. John Simmons, Joseph Raz and Ronald Dworkin, Political Obligation: A Critical Introduction is an ideal starting point for those coming to the topic for the first time, as well as being an original and distinctive contribution to the literature. Knowles distinguishes the philosophical problem of obligation - which types of argument may successfully ground the legitimacy of the state and the duties of citizens - from the political problem of obligation - whether successful arguments apply to the actual citizens of particular states. Against the anarchist and modern skeptics, Knowles claims that a plurality of arguments promise success when carefully formulated and defended, and discusses in turn ancient and modern theories of social contract and consent, fairness and gratitude, utilitarianism, justice and a Samaritan duty of care for others. Against modern communitarians, he defends a distinctive liberalism: ‘the state proposes, the citizen disposes’. (shrink)
I attempt to show that it is notphilosophically incompetent to ground politicalobligation in feelings of gratitude. But theargument needs to be stated carefully.Gratitude must be distinguished fromreciprocity. It applies only to good governmentwhich provides benefits to citizens for whichthey ought to feel grateful. It applies only tocitizens who accept that their feelings ofgratitude are properly demonstrated by anacceptance on their part of the duties ofcitizenship. It does not apply to citizenswhose benefits are purchased at the expense ofthe unjust treatment of (...) fellow citizens. (shrink)
The resilience of utilitarian ethics in the face of unremitting criticism can be explained in part by its use of various strategies of indirect utilitarianism. The success of these strategies throws up a distinctive problem: how can one measure the utility of moral rules, large-scale social institutions or character traits distinctive of virtues? Reading Hume as a utilitarian of sorts in his treatment of justice, I explain his conservative endorsement of entrenched social practices as a consequence of his broadly functionalist (...) approach. I claim that this account has enough merit to ground conservativism in ethics as a satisfactory default position. Projects for reform rather than established institutions are the proper object of utilitarian assessment, thus finessing the problem of measurement I opened up initially. (shrink)
Hegel is one of the most important figures in the history of ideas and political thought. His _Philosophy of Right_ is widely recognised as one of the greatest works of political philosophy. _Hegel and the Philosophy of Right_ introduces and assesses: * Hegel's life and the background of the _Philosophy of Right_ * The ideas and text of the _Philosophy of Right_ * The continuing importance of Hegel's work to philosophy and political thought.
This essay argues that Mark C. Murphy's original contribution to natural law ethics succeeds in finding a way between older metaphysical and newer purely practical approaches in this genre. Murphy's reconstruction of the function argument, critique of subjectivist theories of well-being, and rigorous formulation of a flexible welfarist theory of value deserve careful attention. I defend Kant against Murphy's critique and argue that Murphy faces the problem of showing that all his basic goods are morally inviolable. Although I endorse Murphy's (...) critique of radical virtue ethics, I raise objections to the basic moral norms he derives from his list of goods, and to the analysis of peace of mind and happiness as basic goods. (shrink)
If the commands of authority are peremptory and content-independent directives, it is a great puzzle why any rational autonomous agent should accept them as morally binding, as Robert Paul Wolff and others have argued. I analyse the peremptory and content-independent quality of authoritative directives and argue that all earthly authorities operate within a specified domain. I investigate three candidates for the role of universally applicable boundary conditions–morality, harm to self, and absurdity. I conclude that commands are authoritative only when intra (...) vires, i.e. issued within the proper domain of the authority. Wolff's challenge is not met, hut it is shown to be less forbidding. (shrink)