Natural law theory founds moral judgments on what, given the nature of human beings and ever-present circumstances, enables people to live together in thriving communities. The cognitive features of moral judgments--the claims of literal truth for these judgments about these matters and the readiness to have the judgments stand or fall with the evidence for those claims come front and centre with this characterization of natural law theory. Both what is good for human beings and what it is right and (...) wrong for them to do are matters of fact implied by what is required for their thriving; and so it is reasonable to hold that natural law theory is a variety of moral realism. So, if Hume is not a moral realist, he is not a natural law theorist. But I shall argue that Hume is not a moral realis; and this is what I shall undertake to do, in the course of establishing that he is a natural law theorist, indeed, a human nature natural law theorist. (shrink)
My point of departure in the book Meeting Needs was the conviction that the concept of needs has moral force, but the force has been dissipated and anyway made hard to see by multiple complications including but not confined to multiple abuses. I now think that is only half the problem.
The correlativity of rights and obligations is one of the few stock topics in the basic repertory of English-speaking philosophy th-t is considered suitable for assignment to philosophers specializing in political philosophy. It is a topic perennially discussed, chiefly for reasons that have little to do with its importance: namely, just because it is a recognized topic and because it appears to be a safely tidy one that lends itself readily to being tidied up further by formal or quasi-formal considerations. (...) For my part, I wish more effort went into discussing less tractable subjects like the individuation of rights and their delimitation vis-à-vis one another.What I have to contribute to the subject of correlativity, returning to the scene of my comments on David Lyons’ paper, “The Correlativity of Rights and Duties,” is mainly a stint of annual or biennial repair-work, designed to restore the obvious — the truth that rights do imply obligations and cannot be understood without accepting this implication. (shrink)
Models of culture and representations of changes in culture as changes between such models can be validated without making unreasonable departures from the validating conditions for basic narratives. Von Wright's logic of norms provides a useful analysis of the concept of rule and hence a basis for constructing models of cultures as systems of rules. As illustrations from historical work on the eighteenth-century origins of the British permanent civil service and on administrative developments in Tudor England show, the logic of (...) norms brings to light the logical issues that are of critical importance to changes in culture. These issues, like the models on which they depend, involve human expectations through involving human conventions; but one must also acknowledge parallel systems of description which can figure in covering-law explanations. (shrink)
On the approach to discussions of policy choices that treats such discussions as instances of issue-processing, the joint use of the logic of questions and the logic of rules gives precise formulation to two sorts of issues. To one sort of issue belong issue-circumscribing questions; to another sort, issues-simplicter, which consist of disjunctions of policy proposals – so many proposed social rules – that are answers, in the case of each disjunction, to a given issue-circumscribing question. Work in pragma-dialectics can (...) take over the issue-processing approach; and by doing so add to the pragma-dialectical repertory further dimensions in the analysis of issues and in protocol-narratives of discussion. The analysis and narratives would now include accounts of how issue-circumscribing questions generate initial standpoints and how discussions sometimes end with compromises between standpoints. Further research questions follow about transformations of issues and the comparison of successive rounds of discussion. A narrative of one period of discussion during `the War on Drugs' in the United States illustrates these points. (shrink)
Setting Up the Problem. What personal responsibilities do we, people living in rich countries, have for relieving miseries in the less fortunate countries? A great variety of prophets and philosophers urge us without qualification to do everything that we can. I mean, everything. Sartre holds that everybody “carries the weight of the whole world upon his shoulders; he is responsible for the world and for himself in whatever has to do with the character of their being.” Lévinas joins in: “I (...) am responsible for others without expecting any return, should it cost me my life. Any return is [the others’] business.” Peter Unger, following Peter Singer, asks us to do all that we can do to relieve suffering; and insists that the only limit, while the suffering continues, is our capacity to help. Jesus speaks most trenchantly of all: If you are to be saved, “Sell all you have and give it to the poor”, to which may be joined the injunction, powerfully worded in the Moffatt translation of the Bible, “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. (shrink)
What I propose to do in this paper is to demonstrate the versatility of the concept of rules—to show that it is versatile and at least in part just how. I shall first exhibit this versatility in the context of games proper; then—on the other side of the analogy of rules—in other social contexts, where social scientists may discern games by analogy. Finally, I shall sketch the attractions that the liberties which may be taken with it impart to the concept (...) of. rules. My argument, even if it does all these things, will fall short of proving that social scientists take all the available liberties; but it will, I think, indicate that it is worth investigating which liberties they do take, and when. I myself would postpone until such investigations have been made the question how much the analogy of rules contributes to the progress of the social sciences. (shrink)
From Gillian Brock’s vigorous probing of my treatment of meeting needs in my book of that title I have learned a good deal; and from the article published in Dialogue, which concerns in particular the connection that I made between justice and needs, I have certainly learned how my arguments for that connection might have been expressed more cogently. Yet I think that the arguments I intended, and even the arguments I expressed, escape her criticisms. She quotes a number of (...) leading assertions drawn one by one from my text, but consolidates into one argument what are best regarded as three different, though connected, arguments, to the disadvantage of their respective strengths. She also disregards, to their disadvantage, the distinction between “respect for a person M’s position”—my phrasing, meaning M’s position under some assignment of benefits and burdens—and “respect for a person M”—a notion that does not come into the three arguments. (shrink)
There are many fine things in Alvin I. Goldman's paper 'Toward a Theory of Social Power' - much ingenuity, a good deal of exact careful thinking, some splendid feats of quasi-symbolical construction. There are also at least two places where the wiring short-circuits.