In his 1991 book ‘Consciousness Explained', Daniel Dennett presents his “Multiple Drafts” model of consciousness. Central to his theory is the rejection of the notion of ‘qualia'; of the existence of the purported ‘qualitative character' of conscious experience that many argue rules out the possibility of a purely materialist theory of mind. In eliminating qualia from his theory of consciousness, Dennett claims to be following in the footsteps of Wittgenstein, who also had much to say regarding the nature of ‘private' (...) experience. In this paper I reject this claim and argue that the elimination of qualia plays no part in Wittgenstein's radical understanding of conscious experience. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(1) 2005: 33-43. (shrink)
Mason and McCall Smith's classic textbook discusses the relationship of medical practice and ethics with the operation of the law. The subjects covered include natural and assisted reproduction, the impact of modern genetics on medicine, medical confidentiality, consent to medical treatment, the use of resources and problems surrounding death in the new medical era. It is of significance to anyone with an interest in the ethical and legal practice of medicine.
James Lenman argues that consequentialism fails as a moral theory because it is impossible to predict the long-term consequences of our actions. I agree that it is impossible to predict the long-term consequences of actions, but argue that this does not count as a strike against consequentialism. I focus on the principle of indifference, which tells us to treat unforeseeable consequences as cancelling each other out, and hence value-neutral. I argue that though we cannot defend this principle independently, we cannot (...) do without it in practical rationality. Thus abandoning the principle of indifference would involve abandoning all of rationality, not just consequentialist reasoning. I suggest that we should understand the principle as P. F. Strawson understands inductive reasoning – as being part of rationality. Correspondence:c1 Elinor.Mason@colorado.edu. (shrink)
Marilyn Mason, education officer of the British Humanist Association, asks whether an adequate moral education must involve religion, and reflects on the way that attitudes to moral education have changed over the last fifty years.
: Focusing on a textbook controversy that emerged in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in 1974, Mason explores the discursive production of white ethnicity in the rhetorical, visual, and political strategies used during an organized protest against the new multicultural curriculum adopted by the local school board. What the author finds puzzling is the ways in which these productions of "soul" and "nation" enabled unlikely political alliances between national conservative elites and the local, historically left-leaning working class protesters. The author (...) argues that "soul" is reproduced through racialized discourse signifying the spiritual and ethnic purity of whiteness, the consolidation of white ethnicity, and the spirit of white resistance, articulated through campaigns to save children from future captivity in an "alien" world. Through this on-site theoretical analysis, the author demonstrates how a right-wing narrative of victimhood facilitates the reproduction of ethnic identification among the protesters, whose whiteness apparently can be jeopardized by reading the "wrong" books. (shrink)
Mason on the question: "What are the most important unsolved questions in political philosophy and/or related disciplines and what are the prospects for progress?" Political philosophy rarely, if ever, solves problems once and for all. Old problems usually persist despite attempts to resolve them, and even when they are successfully resolved, new ones arise from the ashes of the old. In my view, however, it would be a mistake to conclude from this that political philosophy makes no progress. We (...) should not measure progress in terms of problems solved or questions answered, but rather in terms of improved understanding. Progress occurs though clarifying the question that is being asked and by coming to a better understanding of which answers to that question are coherent. I think considerable progress has been made in the study of justice, in the sense that we understand the issues much better, though there are still many that we do not understand very well, for example, issues to do with the moral significance of national or state boundaries, and the issue of when justice requires people to bear the costs of their behaviour. I do not doubt that progress, in the sense of improved understanding, will be made on these issues as they come to the forefront of political philosophy. (shrink)
_Plato_ explores the thought of a man who, in a literary career of fifty years, generated ideas that have pervaded history from antiquity to today. After laying out the basics of Plato’s intellectual development and considering his complex relationship with Socrates, Andrew Mason offers a thematic approach to help readers navigate through an often challenging body of work. Throughout, this concise volume traces the development of continuing themes in Plato’s dialogues and considers the relevance of these themes for modern (...) thought. Drawing on recent scholarship, this engaging introduction offers the ideal, up-to-date overview of a figure who remains essential reading in western history and philosophy. (shrink)
Focusing on a textbook controversy that emerged in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in 1974, Mason explores the discursive production of white ethnicity in the rhetorical, visual, and political strategies used during an organized protest against the new multicultural curriculum adopted by the local school board. What the author finds puzzling is the ways in which these productions of "soul" and "nation" enabled unlikely political alliances between national conservative elites and the local, historically left-leaning working class protesters. The author argues (...) that "soul" is reproduced through racialized discourse signifying the spiritual and ethnic purity of whiteness, the consolidation of white ethnicity, and the spirit of white resistance, articulated through campaigns to save children from future captivity in an "alien" world. Through this on-site theoretical analysis, the author demonstrates how a right-wing narrative of victimhood facilitates the reproduction of ethnic identification among the protesters, whose whiteness apparently can be jeopardized by reading the "wrong" books. (shrink)
Jeffrey A. Mason has written an informative, accessible guide to today's most popular form of philosophical writing, the journal-length essay. The Philosopher's Address does what no other book on the market has attempted: it takes the reader behind the scenes of the writing process to expose the rhetorical underpinnings of philosophical texts. Mason argues that readers need to understand why philosophical writing is constructed as it is, and to be aware of the rhetorical devices by which authors seek (...) to persuade them if they are to engage fully with these texts. This book is intended for a broad audience of specialists and students alike. Professional scholars will appreciate Mason's astute discussion of current trends within analytic philosophy, while students will benefit greatly from his comprehensive understanding of the social context in which philosophical discourse is produced, its various and competing schools of thought, and the theoretical concepts that inform them. (shrink)
"Equality of opportunity for all" is a fine piece of political rhetoric but the ideal that lies behind it is slippery to say the least. This book defends a particular account of the ideal and its place in a more radical version of what it is to level the playing field.
Peter Singer has argued for a radical anti-intuitionism on the basis of recent empirical research into the psychological and evolutionary origins of moral intuition. There is, however, a gap between the putative genealogy of moral intuition that Singer offers and his desired methodological claim. I explore three ways to bridge the gap, and argue that the promising way is to construe the genealogy as a debunking genealogy. I sketch an account of how debunking arguments work, and then show that this (...) causes problems for Singer, since utilitarianism itself is liable to be debunked. Finally, I suggest how we can take lessons for ethics from the empirical work, but that the result is a far more restricted kind of anti-intuitionism than Singer was hoping for. (shrink)
This new edition of Law and Medical Ethics continues to chart the ever-widening field that the topics cover. The interplay between the health caring professions and the public during the period intervening since the last edition has, perhaps, been mainly dominated by wide-ranging changes in the administration of the National Health Service and of the professions themselves but these have been paralleled by important developments in medical jurisprudence.
Investigations into ethical judgments generally seem fuzzy as to the relevant research domain. We first attempted to clarify the construct and determine domain parameters. This attempt required addressing difficulties associated with pinpointing relevant literature, most notably the varied nomenclature used to refer to ethical judgments (individual evaluations of actions’ ethicality). Given this variation in construct nomenclature and the difficulties it presented in identifying pertinent focal studies, we elected to focus on research that cited papers featuring prominent and often-used measures of (...) ethical judgments (primarily, but not exclusively, the Multidimensional Ethics Scale). Our review of these studies indicated a preponderance of inferences and conclusions unwarranted by empirical evidence (likely attributable at least partly to inconsistent nomenclature). Moreover, ethical judgments related consistently to few respondent characteristics or any other variables, emergent relationships may not always be especially meaningful, and much research seems inclined to repetition of already verified findings. Although we concluded that knowledge about ethical judgments seems not to have advanced appreciably after decades of investigation, we suggested a possible path forward that focuses on the content of what is actually being judged as reflected in the myriad of vignettes used in the literature to elicit judgments. (shrink)
Daydreaming appears to have a complex relationship with life satisfaction and happiness. Here we demonstrate that the facets of daydreaming that predict life satisfaction differ between men and women , that the content of daydreams tends to be social others , and that who we daydream about influences the relation between daydreaming and happiness variables like life satisfaction, loneliness, and perceived social support . Specifically, daydreaming about people not close to us predicts more loneliness and less perceived social support, whereas (...) daydreaming about close others predicts greater life satisfaction. Importantly, these patterns hold even when actual social network depth and breadth are statistically controlled, although these associations tend to be small in magnitude. Individual differences and the content of daydreams are thus important to consider when examining how happiness relates to spontaneous thoughts. (shrink)
: This response seeks to pick up on the key questions and concerns raised by Nancy C. M. Hartsock and Karen Houle in their critiques of The Spectacle of Violence. I mold my response around two emotions that are never far from the question of violence: fear and hope. Is it fear of ambiguity that stops us from delicately blending the experiential with the discursive, the nodal with the circular, the corporeal with the epistemic, or the oppressive with the constitutive? (...) If so, we can only hope that the power of such ambivalence lies in its ability to unsettle these treasured lines of force. (shrink)
Ethics and associated values influence not only managerial behavior but also managerial success (England and Lee, 1973). Gender socialization theory hypothesizes gender differences in ethics variables whether or not individuals are full time employees; occupational socialization hypothesizes gender similarity in employees. The conflicting hypotheses were investigated using questionnaire responses from a sample of 308 individuals. Analysis of variance and hierarchical regression yielded unexpected results. Although no significant gender differences emerged in individuals lacking full time employment, significant differences existed between employed (...) women and men, with women appearing more ethical. While occupational socialization predicts an interaction between employment status and gender, these group differences were opposite to those predicted. An implication for the two theories and the current conflicting research support is that these commonly used theories may be of limited usefulness. Some alternative concepts are proposed. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker claims that a “gap” in collective hermeneutical resources with respect to the social experiences of marginalized groups prevents members of those groups from understanding their own experiences (Fricker 2007). I argue that because Fricker misdescribes dominant hermeneutical resources as collective, she fails to locate the ethically bad epistemic practices that maintain gaps in dominant hermeneutical resources even while alternative interpretations are in fact offered by non-dominant discourses. Fricker's analysis of hermeneutical injustice does not account for the possibility that (...) marginalized groups can be silenced relative to dominant discourses without being prevented from understanding or expressing their own social experiences. I suggest that a gap in dominant hermeneutical resources is ambiguous between two kinds of unknowing: hermeneutical injustice suffered by members of marginalized groups, and epistemically and ethically blameworthy ignorance perpetrated by members of dominant groups. (shrink)
Despite contemporary moral philosophers' renewed attention to the moral significance of emotions, the attitudinal repertoire with which they equip the mature moral agent remains stunted. One attitude moral philosophers neglect (if not disown) is contempt. While acknowledging the nastiness of contempt, I here correct the neglect by providing an account of the moral psychology of contempt. In the process, I defend the moral propriety of certain tokens of properly person-focused contempt against some prominent objections -- among them, objections stemming from (...) Kantian worries that contempt is incompatible with the respect we owe to persons as such. (shrink)
It seems that the debate between objective and subjective consequentialists might be resolved by appealing to the ought implies can principle. Howard-Snyder has suggested that if one does not know how to do something, cannot do it, and thus one cannot have an obligation to do it. I argue that this depends on an overly rich conception of ability, and that we need to look beyond the ought implies can principle to answer the question. Once we do so, it appears (...) that Prichard might have been at least partly right when he claimed that obligations are tryings. I go some way to defending a diluted version of Prichard's view. (shrink)
Knowledge about ethical judgments has not advanced appreciably after decades of research. Such research, however, has rarely addressed the possible importance of the content of such judgments; that is, the material appearing in the brief vignettes or scenarios on which survey respondents base their evaluations. Indeed, this content has seemed an afterthought in most investigations. This paper closely examined the vast array of vignettes that have appeared in relevant research in an effort to reduce this proliferation to a more concise (...) set of overarching vignette themes. Six generic themes emerged from this process, labeled here as Dilemma, Classic, Conspiracy, Sophie’s Choice, Runaway Trolley, and Whistle Blowing. Each of these themes is characterized by a unique combination of four key factors that include the extent of protagonist personal benefit from relevant vignette activities and victim salience in vignette descriptions. Theme identification enabled inherent ambiguities in vignettes that threaten construct validity to come into sharp focus, provided clues regarding appropriate vignette construction, and may help to make sense of patterns of empirical findings that heretofore have seemed difficult to explain. (shrink)
In an important piece of work Derek Parfit distinguishes two different forms of egalitarianism, ‘Deontic’ and ‘Telic’. He contrasts these with what he calls the Priority View, which is not strictly a form of egalitarianism at all, since it is not essentially concerned with how well off people are relative to each other. His main aim is to generate an adequate taxonomy of the positions available, but in the process he draws attention to some of the different problems they face. (...) I shall argue that there are forms of egalitarianism overlooked by Parfit which avoid the problems encountered by Deontic and Telic Egalitarians. (shrink)
Update on donation of bodily material in the UKIn March 2010, the Human Tissue Authority announced that the first pooled kidney transplants, each involving three living donors and three recipients, had been performed in the UK. 1 While the vast majority of living donor transplants take place between people who are genetically related or are otherwise emotionally close, the Human Tissue Act 2004 introduced greater flexibility, permitting, for example, altruistic, paired and pooled donation. The HTA commented that these types of (...) donation represent one in three of all kidney transplants in the UK. Under the system of paired and pooled donation, in which someone needs a donor organ and has a friend or relative willing to donate, but the two are not compatible with each other, they can pair up with one or more other incompatible donor and recipient pairs in an organ exchange. In paired donation, donor A gives an organ to recipient B and donor B gives to recipient A; in pooled donation, more than two donor–recipient pairs take part in an organ exchange, coordinated by the HTA . Under the human tissue legislation, all cases of paired and pooled donation need to be considered by an independent assessor and approved by a panel of at least three members of the HTA, to ensure that all parties fully understand the risks involved and the donors are not under any pressure to donate.The first pooled transplant took place late in 2009, and was followed shortly afterwards by a second. Several paired living kidney transplants, involving two couples, had already taken place, however, with 16 such transplants going ahead between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009. Also in March 2010, a …. (shrink)
In this paper I present a new argument for prospectivism: the view that, for a consequentialist, rightness depends on what is prospectively best rather than what would actually be best. Prospective bestness depends on the agent’s epistemic position, though exactly how that works is not straightforward. I clarify various possible versions of prospectivism, which differ in how far they go in relativizing to the agent’s limitations. My argument for prospectivism is an argument for moderately objective prospectivism, according to which the (...) right thing to do is what would make sense given reasonable beliefs, reasonable probability estimates and a reasonable understanding of value. My argument is an argument for this form of prospectivism over objectivism. Arguments about prospectivism and objectivism usually use an example with the following form: an agent has a choice between options, one she knows would be acceptable, while the other could either be catastrophic or very good. Objectivists argue that the right thing to do is what would in fact be best (though the agent cannot know which option that is) while prospectivists argue that the agent’s ignorance is relevant, and the right thing to do is to compromise. The question is how we should understand the underlying argument. It is not about action guidance. Moderately objective prospectivism is not action guiding, because an actual agent may not have access to reasonable beliefs, probability estimates and so on. Another common argument is that the objective notion is the primary one. I show that there are no good grounds for this claim. My argument uses the distinction between rightness and goodness to show that a consequentialist theory, that bases rightness on goodness, should take into account how much goodness is at stake. Crucially, potential losses as well as gains are relevant. So long as goodness, rather than rightness, is in the driving seat, we should not be ‘bestness fetishists’. As the name suggest, this would be an irrational privileging of the best option. This argument does not apply to pure deontology: a pure deontology does not use the notion of goodness at all, and so there is nothing to compromise with. If the agent does not know what is right, there is nothing further to say. I end by arguing against a recent strategy that aims to show that although objectivism is true (the right option is the best one), we should sometimes do what is wrong (i.e. what is prospectively best). I argue that in so far as this is correct it is simply prospectivism with awkward terminology. (shrink)
Philosophical suspicions about the place of shame in the psychology of the mature moral agent are in tension with the commonplace assumption that to call a person shameless purports to mark a fault, arguably a moral fault. I shift philosophical suspicions away from shame and toward its absence in the shameless by focusing attention on phenomena of shamelessness. In redirecting our attention, I clarify the nature of the failing to which ascriptions of shamelessness might refer and defend the thought that, (...) as an evasion of moral self-censure, shamelessness can be morally pernicious. Far from foregoing shame, I conclude, we should be mindful of its moral importance and unapologetic in its defense. (shrink)
Individuals who disagree that organizational interests legitimately supersede those of the wider society may experience conflict between their personal standards of ethics and those demanded by an employing organization, a conflict that is well documented. An additional question is whether or not individuals capable of complex moral reasoning experience greater conflict than those reasoning at a less developed level. This question was first positioned in a theoretical framework and then investigated using 115 survey responses from a student sample. Correlational analysis (...) and hierarchical regression indicated that individuals scoring high on the Defining Issues Test measure of Kohlberg's stages of moral development experienced significantly greater workplace ethical conflict than low scorers. The finding that complex moral reasoners perceive greater conflict between their personal standards and typical organizational demands raises the issue of what reasoning orientation is rewarded in organizations. Individuals capable of complex moral reasoning may be likely to leave traditional organizations due to high conflict but more ethically friendly organizations for complex reasoners seem unlikely unless these people occupy influential positions. (shrink)
In these remarks on Feldman's recent book, Pleasure and the Good Life, I concentrate on Feldman's account of pleasure as attitudinal. I argue that an account of pleasure according to which pleasure need not have any feel is implausible. I suggest that Feldman could avoid this problem but retain the advantages of his attitudinal hedonism by giving an account of the attitude such that the attitude has a feel.
A number of egalitarians have reached the conclusion that inequalities are just provided that they are the outcome of holding people appropriately responsible for their choices, and that only inequalities which can be traced back to the circumstances in which people happen to find themselves are objectionable. But this form of egalitarianism needs to be supplemented with an account of when it is appropriate to hold people responsible for their choices that is properly sensitive to the profound effects of socialisation. (...) Two of the most promising attempts to develop such an account-those of Ronald Dworkin and John Roemer-are found to be problematic in the light of a range of cases where gender socialisation influences values and aspirations. (shrink)
Current research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) illustrates the growing sense of discord surrounding the ‘business of doing good’ (Dobers and Springett, Corp Soc Responsib Environ Manage 17(2):63–69, 2010). Central to these concerns is that CSR risks becoming an over-simplified and peripheral part of corporate strategy. Rather than transforming the dominant corporate discourse, it is argued that CSR and related concepts are limited to “emancipatory rhetoric…defined by narrow business interests and serve to curtail interests of external stakeholders.” (Banerjee, Crit Sociol (...) 34(1):52, 2008). The paper addresses gaps in the literature and challenges current thinking on corporate governance and CSR by offering a new conceptual framework that responds to the concerns of researchers and practitioners. The limited focus of existing analyses is extended by a holistic approach to corporate governance and social responsibility that integrates company, shareholder and wider stakeholder concerns. A defensive stance is avoided by delineating key stages of the governance process and aligning profit centred and social responsibility concerns to produce a business-based rationale for minimising risk and mainstreaming CSR. (shrink)