This book has two principle aims. The first is to criticize moral relativism by criticizing the claim that there are deep and rationally intractable moral disagreements. The second is to develop an account of morality and moral inquiry that allows for moral objectivity of a sort that relativists would deny, without modeling moral inquiry on scientific inquiry.
W.D. Ross was the most important opponent of utilitarianism and consequentialism in British moral philosophy between 1861 and 1939. In Rossian Ethics, David Phillips offers the first monograph devoted exclusively to Ross's seminal contribution to moral philosophy. The book has two connected aims. The first is to interpret and evaluate Ross's moral theory. The second is to articulate a distinctive view intermediate between consequentialism and absolutist deontology, which Phillips calls "classical deontology.".
I argue that Mackie's approach to practical reasons is attractive and unjustly neglected. In particular I argue that it is much more plausible than the kind of instrumentalist approach famously articulated by Bernard Williams. This matters for Mackie's arguments for moral skepticism. Contra Richard Joyce, I argue that it is a serious mistake to invoke instrumentalism in arguing for moral skepticism.
I provide a novel kind of argument for moral relativism which combines a general quasi-indexical semantics for the most important thin moral terms with an indeterminacy thesis. I then argue that the version of moral relativism supported by this strategy of argument allows for good rejoinders to the three most important and familiar objections to moral relativism.
Butler’s famous arguments in Sermon XI, designed to refute psychological egoism and to mitigate conflict between self-interest and benevolence, turn out to depend crucially on his own distinctive conception of self-interest. Butler does not notice the availability of several alternative conceptions of self-interest. Some such alternatives are available within the framework of Butler’s moral psychology; others can be developed outside that framework. There are a number of interesting reasons to prefer one or other such account of the ordinary concept of (...) self-interest; but, ultimately, no such reasons prove decisive, and we should reject the idea that there is a uniquely correct account of self-interest. Since Butler’s arguments require the unique adequacy of his own distinctive conception of self-interest, they must be rejected. (shrink)
Butler's famous arguments in Sermon XI, designed to refute psychological egoism and to mitigate conflict between self-interest and benevolence, turn out to depend crucially on his own distinctive conception of self-interest. Butler does not notice the availability of several alternative conceptions of self-interest. Some such alternatives are available within the framework of Butler's moral psychology; others can be developed outside that framework. There are a number of interesting reasons to prefer one or other such account of the ordinary concept of (...) self-interest; but, ultimately, no such reasons prove decisive, and we should reject the idea that there is a uniquely correct account of self-interest. Since Butler's arguments require the unique adequacy of his own distinctive conception of self-interest, they must be rejected. (shrink)
Derek Parfit claims that “Williams and Mackie…do not use the normative concepts that I and other Non-Naturalists use.” Whatever we think of Parfit’s interpretation of Williams, his interpretation of Mackie should be rejected. For understandable historical reasons, Mackie’s texts are ambiguous. But if we apply to the interpretation of Mackie the same principle of charity Parfit employs in interpreting Williams, we find decisive reason to interpret Mackie as using the same normative concepts as Non-Naturalists.
This article presents a comprehensive study of the offence of trauma ek pronoias (intentional wounding) in Athenian law. Part I catalogues every occurrence of the words traËma and titr¿skv in the Attic orators and concludes that the requisite physical element of trauma ek pronoias was the use of a weapon. Part II analyses all attested trauma lawsuits and concludes that the requisite mental element of the offence was a bare intent to wound. Part III addresses the procedural evidence for trauma (...) ek pronoias and concludes that the action for trauma was a graphê, not a dikê. Two appendices discuss the use of the terms trauma and pronoia in Plato¿s Laws and Aristotle¿s Rhetoric and a reference to trauma ek pronoias in Lucian¿s Timon. (shrink)
I argue for an interpretation of Hume on practical reason different both from the traditional instrumentalist interpretation and the more recent nihilist interpretation. Both involve reading Hume as making normative claims. On the nihilist interpretation, Hume denies that either passions or actions can violate authoritative norms of reason; on the instrumentalist interpretation, Hume denies that passions can violate authoritative norms of reason, but holds that instrumentally irrational actions violate the one such authoritative norm. I argue instead for a purely psychological (...) interpretation of T 2.3.3 and parallel passages in T 3.1.1. As I interpret him, Hume does not here even address the question whether passions or actions can violate authoritative norms. His conclusion is merely that a person’s beliefs cannot conflict with her passions. (shrink)
Sidgwick famously argued that there is an unresolvable conflict between two methods of ethics, utilitarianism and egoism: the dualism of practical reason. On the usual interpretation, the dualism undermines practical reason. I argue instead that Sidgwick's writing suggests an important truth about practical reason: though not incoherent, practical reason is, to a large and perhaps unfortunate degree, indeterminate.
I argue that Judith Jarvis Thomson's attack on consequentialism, premised on the semantic claim that all goodness is goodness-in-a-way, is less powerful and less precisely targeted than she supposes. For we can develop an argument against pure obligation or categorical imperatives that is largely parallel to Thomson's argument against pure goodness. The right response to both arguments is that the existence of pure goodness or pure obligation is neither semantically rule out nor semantically guaranteed.
Sidgwick believes that his own proto-utilitarian axioms satisfy criteria for self-evidence, while the principles of common sense morality, including the principle requiring fidelity to promises, do not. I articulate Sidgwick's argument for this claim, in Book III of the Methods, but suggest that it fails: its official version is vulnerable to a charge of unfairness, and its unofficial version cannot establish Sidgwick's view against Ross's.
My aim in Sidgwickian Ethics is to interpret and evaluate the central argument of The Methods of Ethics, in a way that brings out the important conceptual and historical connections between Sidgwick’s views and contemporary moral philosophy. Sidgwick defines a “method of ethics” as “any rational procedure by which we determine what individual human beings ‘ought’ – or what it is ‘right’ for them – to do, or to seek to realise by voluntary action” (ME 1). He finds just three (...) such methods “impl.. (shrink)
In this interesting book, Marcel Lieberman develops a novel and sustained argument for moral realism. He focuses on the psychological phenomenon of commitment, and argues that commitments psychologically require realist beliefs: paradigmatically, one cannot be committed to, say, social equality, without believing that social equality is genuinely valuable. In so arguing, he disagrees with those, on both sides of the debate over moral realism, who have argued that moral realism makes little practical difference. He draws on and criticizes a number (...) of important and influential figures, most particularly Rorty, Gibbard and Velleman, but his range of reference goes well beyond familiar figures in contemporary metaethics, taking in also inter alii Ricoeur, Gabriel Marcel, and rational expectations theorists in economics. (shrink)
It is a great privilege to have one’s work critiqued by such a distinguished trio of philosophers and Sidgwick scholars. I owe further debts to Anthony and Rob, who were the OUP referees for my book. As will have been quite evident from the preceding discussion, they would not want to be held responsible for the book’s detailed contents, on which they gave me much excellent commentary. But, in thanking them here, I do want to say in particular that it (...) seems to me the published version is much.. (shrink)
This paper advances critical Fair Trade literature by exploring reasons for and lessons from uneven and unequal lived experiences of Fairtrade certification. Fieldwork was conducted in 2007 and 2008 to explore views and develop interpretations from various actors directly and indirectly participating in a Fairtrade certified sugar organization in Malawi. By exploring an embedded social and political context in a production place, and challenging assumptions and expectations of a Fair Trade community empowerment approach, research reveals intended and unintended consequences since (...) certification. Findings propose lessons to adopt more nuanced understandings of place and context in Fair Trade approaches to facilitate more balanced community empowerment outcomes. (shrink)
This paper describes a 'structural typology' to assist in the analysis of ways in which policy-makers in one country explore educational provision in another and seek to 'borrow' from it. In this analysis we look specifically at England's 'cross-national attraction' to education in Germany over the past 200 years. The paper aims to provide an analytical programme to use in comparative education and to facilitate exploration of the importance of context in shaping educational phenomena.
Hybrid theories of rationality of the sort developed by Bernard Gert have significant attractions. I argue, though, that Gert's is not the only way to formulate a hybrid view, and not the best. An improved hybrid view would draw on Sidgwick as well as on Gert.