According to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. In what follows, I want to defend this principle against an apparent counterexample offered recently by Derk Pereboom (Living without free will, 2001; Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 29: 228-247, 2005). Pereboom's case, a variant of what are known as Trankfurt cases,' is important for it attempts to overcome a dilemma posed for earlier alleged counterexamples to (...) PAP. However, I will argue that by paying closer attention to the details of Pereboom's example, we see that his example fails to show a way between the horns of the dilemma posed for the earlier Frankfurt examples. (shrink)
An orthodox view in marketing ethics is that it is morally impermissible to market goods to specially vulnerable populations in ways that take advantage of their vulnerabilities. In his signature article “Marketing and the Vulnerable,” Brenkert (Bus Ethics Q Ruffin Ser 1:7–20, 1998) provided the first substantive defense of this position, one which has become a well-established view in marketing ethics. In what follows, we throw new light on marketing to the vulnerable by critically evaluating key components of Brenkert’s general (...) arguments. Specifically, we contend that Brenkert has failed to offer us any persuasive reasons to think that it is immoral to market to the vulnerable in ways that take advantage of their vulnerability. Although Brenkert does highlight the fact that the specially vulnerable are at greater risk of being harmed by already immoral marketing practices (e.g., deception, manipulation), he fails to establish that the specially vulnerable are a unique moral category of market clients or that there are special moral standards that apply to them. Moreover, even if Brenkert’s position were theoretically defensible, the practical implications of his position are far less tenable than he suggests. If our criticisms are sound, then Brenkert and others who endorse his position are seriously mistaken regarding how one can permissibly market products to vulnerable populations, and, in addition, they have improperly categorized certain morally permissible marketing practices as being immoral. (shrink)
Omissions are metaphysically puzzling: Are they something or are they nothing? This paper develops and defends the constitution view of omissions, according to which a correct analysis of a person’s omission has the form “S omitted to X by Y-ing,” where her Y-ing is what constitutes her not-X-ing. The paper explains why the constitution view should be preferred to other views of omissions and defends the view against objections.
There is an important contemporary debate in moral responsibility about whether the following asymmetry thesis is true: moral responsibility for actions does not require alternative possibilities but moral responsibility for omissions does. In this paper, we do two things. First, we consider and reject a recent argument against the asymmetry thesis, contending that the argument fails because it rests on a false view about the metaphysics of omissions. Second, we develop and defend a new argument against the asymmetry thesis, one (...) that avoids the problem with the first argument by not resting on any assumptions about what omissions are metaphysically. (shrink)
This book is a collection of new essays on the libertarian position on free will and related issues that focuses specifically on the views of philosopher Robert Kane. Written by a distinguished group of philosophers, the essays range from various areas of philosophy including metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of mind.
According to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. Pereboom (Living without free will, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29:228–247, 2005) has developed an influential version of a Frankfurt case, known as “Tax Evasion,” which he believes is a counterexample to PAP. Ginet (Journal of Ethics 6:305–309, 2002) raises a key objection against Pereboom’s case, known as “the timing objection.” The (...) main claim of the timing objection is that we need to pay close attention to the precise time at which people act in order to determine what they can, and cannot, be morally responsible for. Recently, Pereboom (The philosophy of free will, Oxford University Press, New York, 2012) has defended his position against this objection by developing a new Frankfurt case called “Tax Cut.” In this paper, I assess this new development. I argue that Tax Cut is just as vulnerable to the timing objection as Pereboom’s original case, Tax Evasion. Thus, Pereboom’s response to the timing objection fails, leaving PAP intact from the threat of both of his Frankfurt cases. Along the way, I further motivate and develop the timing objection, and explore the distinction between derivative and non-derivative responsibility. (shrink)
According to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), people are morally responsible for what they do only if they could have done otherwise. Over the last few decades, this principle has dominated discussions of free will and moral responsibility. One important strand of this discussion concerns the Frankfurt-type cases or Frankfurt cases, originally developed by Frankfurt (J Philos 66:829–839, 1969), which are alleged counterexamples to PAP. One way in which proponents of PAP have responded to these purported counterexamples is by (...) arguing that they fall prey to a dilemma, both horns of which undermine their cogency. Recently, Fischer (Philos Rev 119: 315–336, 2010) has defended the Frankfurt cases against one horn of this dilemma. In this essay, I criticize Fischer’s defense of the Frankfurt cases and argue that he does not successfully show how the cases can avoid this horn of the dilemma. If I am right, then, despite Fischer’s claims to the contrary, the original dilemma plaguing the cases still stands. (shrink)
According to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. Widerker (Philosophical Perspectives 14: 181-201, 2000) offers an intriguing argument for PAP as it applies to moral blameworthiness. His argument is known as the “What-should-he-have-done defense” of PAP or the “W-defense” for short. In a recent article, Capes (Philosophical Studies 150: 61-77, 2010) attacks Widerker’s argument by rejecting the central premise on which it rests, namely, (...) the premise that a person is blameworthy for his action only if in the circumstances it would be morally reasonable to expect him not to have acted as he did. In this paper, I show that Capes’ criticism does not undermine this premise and, to this extent, Widerker’s argument is safe from Capes’ attack. (shrink)
According to the libertarian view of free will, people sometimes act freely, but this freedom is incompatible with causal determinism. Goetz has developed an important and unusual libertarian view of free will. Rather than simply arguing that a person's free actions cannot be causally determined, Goetz argues that they cannot be caused at all. According to Goetz, in order for a person to act freely, her actions must be uncaused.1 My aim in this essay is to evaluate Goetz's “noncausal” libertarian (...) view of free will. In section 1, I outline Goetz's view. In section 2, I develop two criticisms of his view. In section 3, I develop an improved “positive” account of the noncausal view, which takes Goetz's metaphysical framework as its point of departure but is not subject to the criticisms that plague his development of this framework. Finally, in section 4, I respond to some objections to my proposed noncausal view. (shrink)
Alfred Mele and David Robb (1998, 2003) offer what they claim is a counter-example to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), the principle that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. In their example, a person makes a decision by his own indeterministic causal process though antecedent circumstances ensure he could not have done otherwise. Specifically, a simultaneously occurring process in him would deterministically cause the decision at the precise time (...) it actually occurs if he were not to make it 'on his own' i.e. without being deterministically caused.Their case is designed to avoid a well-known dilemma that has plagued earlier apparent counterexamples of this sort. We argue, however, that Mele andRobb's example does not have all the features necessary in order for it to undermine PAP. It still fails to avoid the original dilemma. (shrink)
Like most other sciences, behavior analysis adopts an assumption of uniformity, namely that principles discovered under controlled conditions apply outside the laboratory as well. Since the boundary between public and private depends on the vantage point of the observer, observability is not an inherent property of behavior. From this perspective, private events are assumed to enter into the same orderly relations as public behavior, and the distinction between public and private events is merely a practical one. Private events play no (...) role in the experimental analysis of behavior, but they permit us to make sense of many commonplace phenomena where controlled observation is impossible but unsystematic data are available. Such interpretive exercises serve both to guide research and to displace occult explanations. (shrink)
Issues management (IM) is becoming widely accepted in the business-and-society literature as a policy tool to enhance the social performance of corporations. Its acceptance is based on the presumption that firms have incorporated ethical norms into their decision-making process. This paper argues that IM is simply a technique to identify, analyze, and respond to social issues. It can be used either to improve or forestall corporate social performance. Different values will steer IM practitioners in different policy directions.If IM is to (...) be more than a social gadget, designed to promote the firm's narrow economic objectives, it must be self-consciously grounded in ethics. Stakeholder analysis and the comprehensive corporate ethic are concepts that can help forge links between ethics and the administrative process, between values and decision-making in IM. (shrink)
Idealogically motivated responses to the Bishops' Letter have heightened the divisiveness of subsequent dialogue at the expense of its rigor. Schumpeter's metaphor of creative destruction provides a vehicle for reconciliation between advocates of politics and markets. His most distinguishing characteristic of capitalism extols its productive and dynamic properties. It underscores its relentless and unmanageable side that transforms institutional structures as well. The capitalist engine is driven by a perennial gale that creates and destroys at the same time; thus there is (...) a necessary role for both entrepreneurs and planners in a mixed economy. The bishops' call for collaboration is also subject to the Schumpeterian metaphor. Major process changes without new institutional forms are inconsistent with the historical experience of U.S. pluralist society. (shrink)
Locke denied that ideas of secondary qualities resemble their causes. It has been suggested that Locke denied this because he accepted a mechanical corpuscular hypothesis about the constitution of objects. This paper shows that this and other usual explanations of Locke's denial are mistaken. Further, it suggests an alternative relationship between the scientific account and Locke's philosophical views, and finally it provides Locke's real justification for his claim that ideas of secondary qualities do not resemble their causes.
This short book divides equally into two parts. In the first half, Gert describes what he calls "common morality"-"the moral system that thoughtful people use, usually implicitly, when they make moral decisions and judgments" ; and in the second part, he justifies it. As set out in the first half of the book, common morality comprises moral ideals, moral rules, and a two-step procedure to decide whether one of the rules can be justifiably violated. The idea behind this test is, (...) roughly, that if one is not sure whether some rule can be broken, one describes the morally relevant features of the proposed act before considering the consequences of all other persons knowing that the violating act is allowed and the consequences of them knowing the act is prohibited. If the former consequences are sufficiently acceptable in comparison to the latter, then violating the rule is justified. In Gert's words: "morality requires that a person never violates a moral rule unless she would be willing for everyone to know that they are allowed to violate the rule in the same circumstances". For me, the strength of Gert's description rests on his-in my mind, correct- assertion that there is not a single correct answer to every moral question. There is agreement on many ethical matters but where there is not, this need not reflect poorly on a theory of morality-there may be more than one correct answer to a moral question. Equally rational people will disagree about the outcome of this second step; some will believe a rule can be violated, others not. This difference explains why morality does not provide uniquely correct answers to every moral question. (shrink)
There is a growing interest in researching the plight, health, and social care needs of forced migrants and the complex ethical issues related to researching this vulnerable group. Conducting health and social care research with forced migrants is a sensitive and complex issue and can place emotional demands on contributors, requiring high ethical and moral standards which safeguard participants, researchers and the integrity of the study. Researchers and those who review research need to be sensitive to the needs, privacy and (...) fears of participants. In addition to the medical and personal benefits that can be obtained from undertaking research with forced migrants, there comes the risk of stigmatization, exploitation and harm. This paper identifies some, but by no means all, key ethical issues confronting researchers, these dilemmas include the complex issues of language and translation, immigration status, contextual issues, lack of familiarity with the research process, issues of informed consent and safeguarding anonymity. Confidentiality, sensitivity to cultural traditions and values, and avoiding re-traumatization also need to be considered as this knowledge can minimize research risks and protect the rights and welfare of research participants. This paper will draw upon experience of working with refugees and asylum seekers for many years and from experience gained from small-scale qualitative research undertaken with Somali and Ethiopian forced migrants. It argues for the need for a consistent, robust, ethical framework to ensure that the ‘researcher’ does not inadvertently ‘do harm’ by infringing on the security, privacy and well-being of the subjects of the research. This paper in turn adds to the knowledge base on good practice and research ethics and is hoped that it will provide useful guidance for those undertaking the ethical review for this type of research. (shrink)
According to the noncausal libertarian view of free will, in order for a person’s action to be free, it must be uncaused. A standard criticism of this view—the control objection—is that a person cannot have control over whether an uncaused action occurs and, so, such an action cannot be free. The background to this criticism is the claim that control over action is plausibly a causal rather than noncausal matter. In this paper, I defend noncausal libertarianism against the control objection (...) by developing a new noncausal theory of control. What emerges is not simply a defense of noncausal libertarianism against the control objection but a new theory of control more generally. (shrink)
Field and Hineline have shown how pervasive and insidious is the tendency to make dispositional attributions, even among those who criticize the practice, and they identify a bias for models of contiguous causation as one reason for this tendency. They argue that order can be found at multiple scales of analysis and that in some cases a translation to a model of contiguous causation is impossible. I suggest that pragmatic considerations are sufficient to justify a particular scale of analysis and (...) observe that behavioral principles are fundamentally extended in time. However, I argue that accounting for variance is the goal of science; when events at one level are indeed mediated by those at another, more of the variance can be accounted for by considering both, and there is no principled reason for considering only one. (shrink)
The research guided by the correspondence metaphor is lauded for its emphasis on functional analysis, but the term “correspondence” itself needs clarification. Of the two terms in the relationship, only one is well defined. It is suggested that behavior at acquisition needs to be analyzed and that molecular principles from the learning laboratory might be useful in doing so.