No matter how it is viewed, as a plausible version of anti-utilitarianism or of non-consequentialist, or even as a plausible version of deontology, the theory of prima facie duties certainly makes W. D. Ross one of the most important moral philosopher of the twentieth-century. By outlining his pluralistic deontology, this paper attempts to argue for a positive answer to the question of whether Ross’s theory can offer a solution to the issue of conflicting duties. If such a solution (...) is convincing, as I believe it is, it would indicate the possibility to justify within the deontological framework, i.e., without committing to the principle of good-maximizing, those “hard cases” where people should break a promise or other (prima facie) duty in order to prevent a disastrous outcome. The theory of prima facie duties might then suggest that deontology and utilitarianism would likely be reconcilable. (shrink)
Joshua Greene has put forward the bold empirical hypothesis that deontology is a confabulation of moral emotions. Deontological philosophy does not steam from "true" moral reasoning, but from emotional reactions, backed up by post hoc rationalizations which play no role in generating the initial moral beliefs. In this paper, I will argue against the confabulation hypothesis. First, I will highlight several points in Greene’s discussion of confabulation, and identify two possible models. Then, I will argue that the evidence does (...) not illustrate the relevant model of deontological confabulation. In fact, I will make the case that deontology is unlikely to be a confabulation because alarm-like emotions, which allegedly drive deontological theorizing, are resistant to be subject to confabulation. I will end by clarifying what kind of claims can the confabulation data support. The upshot of the final section is that confabulation data cannot be used to undermine deontological theory in itself, and ironically, if one commits to the claim that a deontological justification is a confabulation in a particular case, then the data suggests that in general deontology has a prima facie validity. (shrink)
According to the “Textbook View,” there is an extensional dispute between consequentialists and deontologists, in virtue of the fact that only the latter defend “agent-relative” principles—principles that require an agent to have a special concern with making sure that she does not perform certain types of action. I argue that, contra the Textbook View, there are agent-neutral versions of deontology. I also argue that there need be no extensional disagreement between the deontologist and consequentialist, as characterized by the Textbook (...) View. (shrink)
It is commonly held that all deontological moral theories are agent-relative in the sense that they give each agent a special concern that she does not perform acts of a certain type rather than a general concern with the actions of all agents. Recently, Tom Dougherty has challenged this orthodoxy by arguing that agent-neutral deontology is possible. In this article I counter Dougherty's arguments and show that agent-neutral deontology is not possible.
This paper identifies the different normative ethical arguments stated and suggested by Arjuna and Krishna in the Gītā , analyzes those arguments, examines the interrelations between those arguments, and demonstrates that, contrary to a common view, both Arjuna and Krishna advance ethical theories of a broad consequentialist nature. It is shown that Krishna’s ethical theory, in particular, is a distinctive kind of rule-consequentialism that takes as intrinsically valuable the twin consequences of mokṣa and lokasaṃgraha . It is also argued that (...) Krishna’s teachings in the Gītā gain in depth, coherence, and critical relevance what they lose in simplicity when the ethical theory underlying those teachings is understood as a consequentialism of this kind rather than as a deontology. (shrink)
Defenders of doxastic voluntarism accept that we can voluntarily commit ourselves to propositions, including belief-contravening propositions. Thus, defenders of doxastic voluntarism allow that we can choose to believe propositions that are negatively implicated by our evidence. In this paper it is argued that the conjunction of epistemic deontology and doxastic voluntarism as it applies to ordinary cases of belief-contravening propositional commitments is incompatible with evidentialism. In this paper ED and DV will be assumed and this negative result will be (...) used to suggest that voluntary belief-contravening commitments are not themselves beliefs and that these sorts of commitments are not governed by evidentialism. So, the apparent incompatibility of the package views noted above can be resolved without ceding evidentialism with respect to beliefs. (shrink)
In normative ethics there has been a long-standing debate between consequentialists and deontologists. To settle this dispute moral theorists have often used a selective approach. They have focused on particular aspects of our moral practice and have teased out what consequentialists and deontologists have to say about it. One of the focal points of this debate has been the morality of promising. In this paper I review arguments on both sides and examine whether consequentialists or deontologists offer us a more (...) plausible account of promissory obligation. My conclusion is negative. Given the arguments on the table, I argue, we should conclude that the debate is in a stalemate. It is, therefore, hard to see how the issue of promissory obligation could help us choose between consequentialism and deontology. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Threshold-Hell Christianity conflicts with the pro-life position on abortion. The specific type of Christianity is that which also accepts threshold deontology and the existence of hell. Threshold deontology is the view that ordinarily moral duties consist of non-consequentialist side-constraints on the pursuit of the good but that in some cases these side-constraints are overridden. My strategy is to establish that a person who brings about an abortion guarantees that the aborted individual goes (...) to heaven and that it is morally permissible to guarantee someone goes to heaven. It follows that if Threshold-Hell Christianity is true, then abortion is morally permissible. (shrink)
There is a tendency to use data from neuroscience, cognitive science and experimental psychology to rail against philosophical ethics. Recently, Joshua Greene has argued that deontological judgments tend to be supported by emotional responses to irrelevant features, whereas consequentialist judgments are more reliable because they tend to be supported by cognitive processes. In this article, I will analyse the evidence used by Greene to suggest a different kind of argument against deontology, which I will call the argument from self-defeating (...) beliefs. The charge of this type of argument amounts to exposing a psychological nature of deontological judgements that is supposedly rejected by deontologists. I will argue that the alleged evidence is poorly understood, mixed and indeterminate, failing to endorse general conclusions about the psychological processes underlying deontological judgements. (shrink)
The paper challenges William Alston’s argument against doxastic deontology, the view that we have epistemic duties concerning our beliefs. The core of the argument is that doxastic deontology requires voluntary control over our beliefs, which we do not have. The idea that doxastic deontology requires voluntary control is supposed to follow from the principle that ought implies can. The paper argues that this is wrong: in the OIC principle which regulates our doxastic duties the “can” does not (...) stand for the ability to shape our beliefs voluntarily. As an examination of everyday examples shows, it stands for cognitive competence, the reliable ability to acquire beliefs in compliance with the epistemic norms. The doxastic OIC principle asserts, in brief, that one is only obliged to believe something if one’s cognitive capacities are sufficiently strong. It is also explained why the doxastic duties do not require voluntary control as opposed to moral duties. This understanding of doxastic duties saves our everyday doxastic deontic judgments from Alston’s argument, but does not help the deontological conception of justification, which understands justification as not violating one’s epistemic duties. It actually provides another argument against the deontological conception: if the OIC regulating our doxastic duties is construed as suggested, the deontological conception of justification implies that one’s doxastic duties and, consequently, whether one’s belief is justified depend on one’s cognitive competence. Since cognitive competence varies from person to person, justification will not matter to truth and knowledge in the way epistemic justification is supposed to do. (shrink)
It seems that we can know moral truths. We are also rather reluctant to defer to moral testimony. But it’s not obvious how moral cognitivism is compatible with pessimism about moral testimony. If moral truths are knowable, shouldn’t it be possible for others to know moral truths you don’t know, so that it is wise for you to defer to what they say? Or, alternatively, if it’s always reasonable to refuse to defer to the wisest among us, doesn’t this show (...) that morality is not genuinely cognitive? There is a tension in our commonsense moral epistemology. In this chapter I (a) explicate this tension, (b) criticize how others have attempted to resolve it, and finally (c) explain how Rossian deontology helps us see that the tension is only apparent: morality is indeed knowable, despite the fact that it is usually wise to refuse to defer to moral testimony. (shrink)
Deontological theories face difficulties in accounting for situations involving risk; the most natural ways of extending deontological principles to such situations have unpalatable consequences. In extending ethical principles to decision under risk, theorists often assume the risk must be incorporated into the theory by means of a function from the product of probability assignments to certain values. Deontologists should reject this assumption; essentially different actions are available to the agent when she cannot know that a certain act is in her (...) power, so we cannot simply understand her choice situation as a “risk-weighted” version of choice under certainty. (shrink)
Many people profess to believe that acting morally, or as we ought to act, involves the self-conscious acceptance of some (quite specific) constraints or rules that place limits both on the pursuit of our own interests and on our pursuit of the general good. Though these people do not regard the furtherance of our own interests or the pursuit of the general good as ignoble ends, or ones that we are morally required to eschew, they believe that neither can be (...) regarded as providing us with morally sufficient reason to take action. Those who hold such a view believe that there are certain sorts of acts that are wrong in themselves, and thus morally unacceptable means to the pursuit of any ends, even ends that are morally admirable, or morally obligatory. (How strong the prohibition is against performing such acts is a matter that will be taken up later.) Philosophers call such ethical views ‘deontological’ (from the Greek deon , ‘duty’), and contrast them to views that are ‘teleological’ in structure (from telos , Greek for ‘goal’). Those who hold teleological views reject the view that there are special kinds of acts that are right or wrong in themselves. For teleologists, the rightness or wrongness of our acts is determined by a comparative assessment of their consequences. [...] The focus of this essay is on deontological theories. (shrink)
How should deontological theories that prohibit actions of type K — such as intentionally killing an innocent person — deal with cases of uncertainty as to whether a particular action is of type K? Frank Jackson and Michael Smith, who raise this problem in their paper "Absolutist Moral Theories and Uncertainty" (2006), focus on a case where a skier is about to cause the death of ten innocent people — we don’t know for sure whether on purpose or not — (...) by causing an avalanche; and we can only save the people by shooting the skier. One possible deontological attitude towards such uncertainty is what Jackson and Smith call the threshold view, according to which whether or not the deontological constraint applies depends on our degree of (justified) certainty meets a given threshold. Jackson and Smith argue against the threshold view that it leads to implausible paradoxical moral dilemmas in a special kind of case. In this response, we show that the threshold view can avoid these implausible moral dilemmas, as long as the relevant deontological constraint is grounded in individualistic patient-based considerations, such as what an individual person is entitled to object to. (shrink)
Deontological ethicists generally agree that there is a way of harming others such that it is wrong to harm others in that way for the sake of producing a comparable but greater benefit for others. Given plausible assumptions about this type of harm, this principle yields the paradoxical result that it may be wrong to do A, wrong to do B, but permissible to do (A and B).
Holly Smith has recently argued that Subjective Deontological Moral Theories (SDM theories) cannot adequately account for agents’ duties to gather information. I defend SDM theories against this charge and argue that they can account for agents’ duties to inform themselves. Along the way, I develop some principles governing how SDM theories, and deontological moral theories in general, should assign ‘deontic value’ or ‘deontic weight’ to particular actions.
Matthias Steup has developed a compatibilist account of doxastic control, according to which one’s beliefs are under one’s control if and only if they have a “good” causal history. Paradigmatically good causal histories include being caused to believe what one’s evidence indicates, whereas bad ones include those that indicate that the believer is blatantly irrational or mentally ill. I argue that if this is the only kind of control that we have over our beliefs, then our beliefs are not properly (...) subject to epistemic evaluation in deontological terms. I take as premises the claims (1) that acts which violate a deontic standard must be under the control of the agent that performs them, and (2) that deontic standards are deontic standards only if there is both something that it is to comply with them, and something that it is to violate them. The argument proceeds by showing that any belief which one might take to violate a deontic standard of a distinctively epistemic kind has a “bad” causal history, and so is, according to the compatibilist account, not under our control. Since these beliefs are not under our control, it follows from premise (1) that they do not violate any deontic standards of a distinctively epistemic kind. It then follows, from premise (2), that there are no deontic standards, of a distinctively epistemic kind, that govern belief. So if we have only compatibilist control over our beliefs, our beliefs are not properly subject to epistemic evaluation in deontological terms. (shrink)
Abstract: In this article, I consider some of the similarities and differences between deontologism in ethics and epistemology. In particular, I highlight two salient differences between them. I aim to show that by highlighting these differences we can see that epistemic deontologism does not imply epistemic internalism and that it is not a thesis primarily about epistemic permissibility . These differences are: (1) deontologism in epistemology has a quasi -teleological feature (not shared with moral deontologism) in that it does not (...) require that one abide by epistemic duties for the sake of (and not merely in accordance with) those very duties; and (2) in ethics, the relevant options we speak of are whether someone acts or does not act; in epistemology, we have an analogous further option: we can speak of whether someone believes that p , fails to believe that p , or withholds judgment about that p. (shrink)
Epistemic deontology is the view that the concept of epistemic justification is deontological: a justified belief is, by definition, an epistemically permissible belief. I defend this view against the argument from doxastic involuntarism, according to which our doxastic attitudes are not under our voluntary control, and thus are not proper objects for deontological evaluation. I argue that, in order to assess this argument, we must distinguish between a compatibilist and a libertarian construal of the concept of voluntary control. If (...) we endorse a compatibilist construal, it turns out that we enjoy voluntary control over our doxastic attitudes after all. If, on the other hand, we endorse a libertarian construal, the result is that, for our doxastic attitudes to be suitable objects of deontological evaluation, they need not be under our voluntary control. (shrink)
We tend to prescribe and appraise doxastic states in terms that are broadly deontic. According to a simple argument, such prescriptions and appraisals are improper, because they wrongly presuppose that our doxastic states are voluntary. One strategy for resisting this argument, recently endorsed by a number of philosophers, is to claim that our doxastic states are in fact voluntary (This strategy has been pursued by Steup 2008 ; Weatherson 2008 ). In this paper I argue that this strategy is neither (...) successful nor necessary. Our doxastic states are not voluntary in any interesting sense. But once we see why our doxastic states are not voluntary, we can also see that there is no apparent reason to think that deontic prescriptions and appraisals—epistemic ones, at any rate—presuppose doxastic voluntarism. Indeed, there is good reason to deny that they do so. Finally, I diagnose the misleading attraction of the idea that what I call ‘epistemic deontology’ presupposes doxastic voluntarism. (shrink)
In response to the so-called “paradox of deontology,” many have argued that the agent-relativity of deontological constraints accounts for why an agent may not kill one in order to prevent five others from being killed. Constraints provide reasons for particular agents not to kill, not reasons to minimize overall killings. In this paper, I tease out the significance of an underappreciated aspect of this agent-relative position, i.e. it provides no guidance as to what an agent ought to do when (...) faced with the prospect of killing one in order to prevent herself from killing five. After rejecting mere agent-relativity, the view that agents are morally permitted to violate constraints in order to minimize their overall violations, I offer a view that this is both agent- and time-relative, and show how this view exemplifies the underlying motivations for deontological constraints while successfully responding to both the inter- and intra-personal paradoxes of deontology. (shrink)
Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason. Deontological ethics is a mere rationalization of these (...) emotions. Accordingly Greene maintains that deontology should be abandoned. This paper is a defense of deontological ethical theory. It argues that Greene’s argument against deontology needs further support. Greene’s empirical evidence is open to alternative interpretations. In particular, it is not clear that Greene’s characterization of alarm-like emotions that are relative to culture and personal experience is empirically tenable. Moreover, it is implausible that such emotions produce specifically deontological judgments. A rival sentimentalist view, according to which all moral judgments are determined by emotion, is at least as plausible given the empirical evidence and independently supported by philosophical theory. I therefore call for an improvement of Greene’s argument. (shrink)
Mind perception is the essence of moral judgment. Broadly, moral standing is linked to perceptions of mind, with moral responsibility tied to perceived agency, and moral rights tied to perceived experience. More specifically, moral judgments are based on a fundamental template of two perceived minds—an intentional agent and a suffering patient. This dyadic template grows out of the universal power of harm, and serves as a cognitive working model through which even atypical moral events are understood. Thus, all instances of (...) immorality are perceived to involve both blameworthy agents (i.e., acts) and suffering victims (i.e., consequences). Because moral cognition simultaneously concerns acts and consequences, theories which focus primarily on acts (i.e., deontology) or consequences (i.e., utilitarianism) do not accurately describe moral cognition. Indeed, the phenomenon of dyadic completion suggests that deontological and utilitarian concerns are not only simultaneously active, but also typically compatible and reinforcing: wrong acts have harmful consequences, and harmful consequences stem from wrong acts. The cognitive fusion of acts with consequences suggests that normative conflicts between deontology and utilitarianism are not reflected in everyday moral judgment. This in turn suggests that empirical conclusions drawn from moral dilemmas that pit utilitarianism against deontology—i.e., trolley problems—give an skewed account of moral cognition. (shrink)
This paper comprises three sections. First, we offer a traditional defence of deontology, in the manner of, for example, W.D. Ross (1965). The leading idea of such a defence is that the right is independent of the good. Second, we modify the now standard account of the distinction, in terms of the agent-relative/agentneutral divide, between deontology and consequentialism. (This modification is necessary if indirect consequentialism is to count as a form of consequentialism.) Third, we challenge a value-based defence (...) of deontology proposed by Quinn (1993), Kamm (1989, 1992), and Nagel (1995). (shrink)
Most current dental ethics curricula use a deontological approach to biomedical and dental ethics that emphasizes adherence to duties and principles as properties that determine whether an act is ethical. But the actual ethical orientation of students is typically unknown. The purpose of the current study was to determine the ethical orientation of dental students in resolving clinical ethical dilemmas. First-year students from one school were invited to participate in an electronic survey that included eight vignettes featuring ethical conflicts common (...) to the health care setting. The Multidimensional Ethics Scale was used to evaluate the students’ ethical judgments of these conflicts. Students rated each vignette along 13 ethically relevant items using a 7-point scale. Nine of the thirteen items were analyzed because they represent the dominant ethical theories, including deontology. One hundred sixteen dental students successfully completed the survey. Of the analyzed items, those associated with deontology had comparatively weak associations with whether students judged the action to be ethical and whether students judged themselves likely to perform the action. Whether an action was judged to be caring had the strongest association with whether the action was judged to be ethical and whether students judged themselves likely to perform the action. These results suggest that adherence to duties or principles has weaker association with students’ ethical judgments and behavior compared to caring, which was found to be more influential in their ethical judgments and behavior. Current dental school curricula with a primary focus on deontology may no. (shrink)
Current discussions of business ethics usually only consider deontological and utilitarian approaches. What is missing is a discussion of traditional teleology, often referred to as virtue ethics. While deontology and teleology are useful, they both suffer insufficiencies. Traditional teleology, while deontological in many respects, does not object to utilitarian style calculations as long as they are contained within a moral framework that is not utilitarian in its origin. It contains the best of both approaches and can be used to (...) focus on the individual''s role within an organization. More work is needed in exposing students and faculty to traditional teleology and its place in business ethic''s discussions. (shrink)
The paradox of deontology, as the name suggests, is generally thought to pose a problem for deontological theory, particularly for agent-centered restrictions. I argue that it is neither a paradox nor a problem for restrictions. On the contrary, the cases that are alleged to generate the paradox presuppose restrictions, which shifts the burden to the opponent of restrictions.
Provided you start from suitable intuitions, it is easy enough to construct a whole range of arguments any or all of which might be called “the paradox of deontology.” Suppose you think that the role of agency is to bring about goodness, and that it's good to observe deontological constraints. Then it will follow that you should bring about the observing of deontological constraints. And if in some particular context the way to bring about such observings is via a (...) breach of one or more deontological constraints, so be it. Or suppose, more strongly, that you think that the role of agency is to bring about maximal goodness, and that the keeping of the maximum number of deontological constraints is a crucial part of maximal goodness. Then it will follow that you should bring this about. And again, if the route to doing this sometimes runs via the breaching of one or more deontological constraints, so be it. For a non-consequentialist, the way to challenge this supposed paradox is simply to deny that the role of agency is to bring about goodness. This is true because not all reasons are future-directed: some reasons arise from the past or the present, or arise without any time-index. Kant sees this way out of the paradox, and takes it. So far, so good. But Kant goes further, into more complex and strictly Kantian moves against consequentialism; and it is less clear that this further is better. (shrink)
It is currently fashionable to hold that deontology induces internalism. That is, those who think that epistemic justification is essentially a matter of duty fulfillment are thought to have a good reason for accepting internalism in epistemology. I shall argue that no deontological conception of epistemic justification provides a good reason for endorsing internalism. My main contention is that a requirement having to do with epistemic defeat---a requirement that many externalists impose on knowledge---guarantees the only sorts of deontological justification (...) that have a chance at inducing internalism. Given this compatibility of externalism and deontology, we may safely conclude that deontology by itself doesn’t lend support to internalism. (shrink)
Part One of this essay considered familiar ways of characterizing deontology, which focus on the notions of the good and the right. Here we will take up alternative approaches, which stress the type of reasons for actions that are generated by deontological theories. Although some of these alternative conceptualizations of deontology also employ a distinction between the good and the right, all mark the basic contrast between deontology and teleology in terms of reasons to act.
Scanlonian contractualism rejects the consequentialist assumptions about morality, value, and rationality in virtue of which deontological constraints appear paradoxical. And yet, Jeffrey Brand-Ballard and Robert Shaver have claimed that it cannot succeed in defending the said restrictions. That is because they see Scanlon’s tie-breaking argument as threatening to justify aggregation in paradox of deontology cases. I argue that this claim rests upon a failure to appreciate contractualism’s relational character. Once we take this feature of the view into account, it (...) becomes clear that the tie-breaking argument is ruled out in cases where the only way for us to prevent several killings would be to commit one ourselves. To show this, I provide a contractualist explanation of why our duty not to harm persons is stricter than our duty to help them when they are threatened with harm. I conclude by distinguishing two ways in which this defense of deontological restrictions might bring contractualism objectionably close to absolutism. (shrink)
It is currently fashionable to hold that deontology induces internalism. That is, those who think that epistemic justification is essentially a matter of duty fulfillment are thought to have a good reason for accepting internalism in epistemology. I shall argue that no deontological conception of epistemic justification provides a good reason for endorsing internalism. My main contention is that a requirement having to do with epistemic defeat-a requirement that many externalists impose on knowledge-guarantees the only sorts of deontological justification (...) that have a chance at inducing internalism. Given this compatibility of externalism and deontology, we may safely conclude that deontology by itself doesn't lend support to internalism. (shrink)
Deontology brings together some of the most significant philosophical work on ethics, presenting canonical essays on core questions in moral philosophy. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative theory.
In The Methods of Ethics Henry Sidgwick argued against deontology and for consequentialism. More specifically, he stated four conditions for self-evident moral truth and argued that, whereas no deontological principles satisfy all four conditions, the principles that generate consequentialism do. This article argues that both his critique of deontology and his defence of consequentialism fail, largely for the same reason: that he did not clearly grasp the concept W. D. Ross later introduced of a prima facie duty or (...) duty other things equal. The moderate deontology Ross's concept allows avoids many of Sidgwick's objections. And Sidgwick's statements of his own axioms equivocate in exactly the same way for which he criticized deontological ones. Only if they are read as other things equal can they seem intuitive and earn widespread agreement; but that form is too weak to ground consequentialism. And in the form that does yield consequentialism they are neither intuitive nor widely accepted. Sidgwick's arguments against a rival view and for his own were, in multiple ways, unfair. (shrink)
Deontology holds that the rules or principles that govern the permissibility of actions cannot be derived simply from the goal of promoting good consequences. The definition has to be given negatively because there is still much disagreement about what positively grounds these rules or principles. The articles in this special issue—collected mostly from papers presented at a conference sponsored by the Institute for Law and Philosophy at Rutgers UniversityOne paper in this issue, from Gerhard Øverland, was not presented at (...) the conference with the rest. He was scheduled to present his paper, but could not attend the conference because he was diagnosed with cancer. He died of cancer shortly after submitting his article to this issue. This is a great loss to his friends and collaborators, and to the philosophical community as a whole.—cover a fairly representative range of these different views. The truth about deontology—including whether it is true at all—is important to criminal law in .. (shrink)
I argue that Greene’s research, although fascinating for many reasons, doesn’t undermine deontological moral philosophy. This is because both sentimentalist and rationalist moral epistemologies, applied to deontological value, predict exactly the data Greene has found. My discussion proceeds in three steps. In the first section I summarize Greene’s brief against deontology. In the second section I draw on standard accounts of moral emotions to suggest that there are ‘deontological emotions’ made rational by appearances of ‘deontological value.’ Finally, I outline (...) a modest but realist intuitionist account of moral intuitions that connects deontological emotion to putative deontological value in a way that predicts Greene’s findings. (shrink)
Beneficent clinical usage of placebos has been a problem for the application of Kant’s deontology in medical ethics, which, in its strictest form, rejects deception universally. Some defenders of deontology have countered this by arguing placebos can be used by a physician without necessarily being deceptive. In this paper we argue that such a manipulation of Kant’s absolutism is not credible, and therefore, that we should look beyond deontology in our consideration of placebo usage in clinical practice. (...) We conclude that Kant’s deontology cannot be made compatible with placebo use in clinical practice due to the primacy it affords to the principle of autonomy. (shrink)
In this article, I ask whether Korsgaard’s ethics can be reconciled with a hermeneutic understanding of the human subject. Hermeneutics, inspired by Nietzsche, has traditionally been skeptical about the notion that moral principles have authority over us. But Korsgaard’s account of normativity as grounded in self-consciousness and its reflective distance from beliefs and desires is strikingly similar to Gadamer’s description of human beings as distant and ‘free’ from their environment. The question hermeneutics poses to deontology is how a finite (...) subject can be bound unconditionally by principles, when our understanding of them is always historically mediated and partial. I argue that Gadamer’s notion of the subject matter of understanding (the Sache) allows us to see that we understand our principles as interpretations of fully determined principles. What binds us is the principle that we are always revising our way toward, but whose content we never completely determine. (shrink)
A critical edition of three works of Bentham, Deontology and The Article on Utilitarianism were previously unpublished. Together with An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, they provide a comrehensive exposition of Bentham's views. Based entirely on manuscripts by Bentham of his amanuenses, this edition's full introduction linking the three works. Each work is supplemented with detailed and critical notes.
This article is a first assessment of the Italian Code of deontology for nurses (revised in 1999) on the basis of data collected from focus groups with nurses taking part in the Ethical Codes in Nursing (ECN) project. We illustrate the professional context in which the Code was introduced and explain why the 1999 revision was necessary in the light of changes affecting the Italian nursing profession. The most remarkable findings concern professional autonomy and responsibility, and how the Code (...) is thought of as a set of guidelines for nursing practice. We discuss these issues, underlining that the 1999 Code represents a valuable instrument for ethical reflection and examination, a stimulus for putting the moral sense of the nursing profession into action, and that it represents a new era for professional nursing practice in Italy. The results of the analysis also deserve further qualitative study and future consideration. (shrink)
Toward a Genealogy of 'Deontology' ROBERT B. LOUDEN [A]ny choice of a conceptual scheme presupposes values. Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth, and History tN Va'HICS AS ELS~.WHEI~, the basic categories used by writers to mark the conceptual terrain of their field profoundly affect readers' understanding of what is important within the field. And in ethics , most writers who habitually employ the currently accepted categories of their discipline have no knowledge of the particular history of these categories -- of who (...) first coined them, of the purposes for which they were originally intended, of how their meanings have shifted over the years, of how ascending categories have displaced descending ones, of who is primarily responsible for their current meanings, etc. As an illustration of this claim, I propose to examine the history of'deontology' in ethics, with an aim to making the recent topographical shifts within the field less "unknown to ourselves. ''~ Who was the first author to employ "the general, ugly, and familiar head- 1Cf. Nietzsche's opening remark in The Genealogy of Morals: "We are unknown to ourselves, we seekers after knowledge [w/r Erkennendon]" . It is perhaps worth noting at the outset that the following exercise in moral genealogy is not terribly Nietzschean -- I myself accept very little of the specifics of his attack on morality. However, I do concur with Nietzsche's general conviction that moral philosophers.. (shrink)
_Developing Deontology_ consists of six new essays in ethical theory by leading contemporary moral philosophers. Each essay considers concepts prominent in the development of deontological approaches to ethics, and these essays offer an invaluable contribution to that development. Essays are contributed by Michael Smith, Philip Stratton-Lake, Ralph Wedgewood, David Owens, Peter Vallentyne, and Elizabeth Harman - all leading contemporary moral philosophers Each essay offers an original and previously unpublished contribution to the subject A significant addition to the field for anyone (...) with an interest in the development of deontology The collection is edited by a leading philosophical scholar. (shrink)
This article explores four topics raised by Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina's treatment of constrained deontology. First, it examines whether mathematical threshold functions are the proper way to think about limits on deontology, given the discontinuities of our moral judgments and the desired phenomenology of rule-following. Second, it asks whether constrained deontology is appropriate for public as well as private decision-making, taking issue with the book's conclusion that deontological options are inapplicable to public decision-making, whereas deontological constraints (...) are applicable. Third, it examines the issue of the relationship between deontology and efficiency, asking whether deontological constraints should yield in situations where everyone would expect to benefit from their suspension, either ex ante or ex post . Finally, the article concludes that constrained deontology is susceptible to political abuse because of the many degrees of freedom involved in identifying constrained actions and the point at which those constraints yield to consequentialist benefits. (shrink)
The paper analyses Rawls's teleology/deontology distinction, and his concept of priority of the right. The first part of the paper aims both 1) to clarify what is distinctive about Rawls's deontology/teleology distinction (thus sorting out some existing confusion in the literature, especially regarding the conflation of such distinction with that between consequentialism and nonconsequentialism); and 2) to cash out the rich taxonomy of moral theories that such a distinction helpfully allows us to develop. The second part of the (...) paper examines the concept of priority of the right. It argues that such a concept should not be identified with that of deontology— indeed, deontological theories do not necessarily assign priority to the right over the good. However, it contends that the concept of priority of the right is essential to explaining what specific kind of deontological theory "justice as fairness" is. Justice as fairness is a deontological theory which assigns priority to the right as a consequence of its commitment to a neutral position with respect to different accounts of what is ultimately valuable and good. (shrink)
The paper aims at offering a pedagogical perspective as part of the debate on philosophical practices with children, referring particularly to educational deontology matters emerging when “uncomfortable” questions occur. Many of the questions which arise during sessions of philosophical are left unanswered, being perceived as uncomfortable. Our reflection is on what educational deontology requires in order to deal with the challenge that these kinds of questions bring along. Starting from the concept of deontology proposed by the educationalist (...) Mariagrazia Contini and embracing Jana Mohr Lone’s idea of children’s comfort with uncertainty, the paper offers a discussion on what we mean by educational responsibility when undertaking the task of facilitating a community of philosophical inquiry with children. The paper concludes that the facilitator should be present, attentive, capable of good listening. She/he should be a model, a good example for the community: available to listen and answer back, respectful, sensitive, capable of mind shifts and humble. Moreover, a facilitator should be trained to a reflexive thinking: she/he needs to be well aware of her/his cognitive schemes, the premises of her/his knowledge, the social and cultural paradigms she/he refers to. All this “intangible background” needs to be made explicit in order to be aware of the frames that shape each educational action. (shrink)
The distinction between teleology and deontology is today almost universally accepted within practical philosophy, but deontology is and has from the beginning been subordinate to utili-tarianism. ‘Deontology’ was constructed by Bentham to signify the art and science of private morality within a utilitarian worldview. The classical distinction was constructed by Broad as a refinement of Sidgwick’s utilitarianism, and then adopted by Frankena. To Broad it signified two opposite tendencies in ethics, in Frankena’s textbooks, however, it becomes an (...) exclusive distinction, where de-ontology signifies disregard for consequences, and it is therefore almost impossible to think of deontology as a framework for a com-prehensive ethical theory. This conception, however, is adopted by Rawls, and in his contractarian interpretation of deontology it is in fact no more within the sphere of ethics. (shrink)
Current moral philosophy is often seen as essentially a debate between the two great traditions of consequentialism and deontology. Although there has been considerable work clarifying consequentialism, deontology is more often attacked or defended than analyzed. Just how we are to understand the very idea of a deontological ethic? We shall see that competing conceptions of deontology have been advanced in recent ethical thinking, leading to differences in classifying ethical theories. If we do not focus on implausible (...) versions, the idea of a deontological ethic is far more attractive than most philosophers have thought. Indeed, I shall argue that in an important sense, only a deontological ethic can be plausible. (shrink)
Deontological moral theories may forbid a particular action in certain circumstances even though performing it would result in fewer actions of the forbidden type. This is the paradox of deontology, and the first two sections of the essay explicate this paradox and criticize some ways in which deontologists have responded to it. Thereafter, however, I come to the assistance of the deontologist. The third and fourth sections discuss the conditions that must be met before this paradox poses a genuine (...) problem and the likelihood of those conditions being satisfied. Then, with a nod to rule utilitarianism, I show that the deontologist has an important, albeit pragmatic line of rebuttal, which in conjunction with other considerations raised in the essay can assist nonconsequentialists to disarm the paradox of deontology. (shrink)