The concept of human dignity is increasingly invoked in bioethical debate and, indeed, in international instruments concerned with biotechnology and biomedicine. While some commentators consider appeals to human dignity to be little more than rhetoric and not worthy of serious consideration, the authors of this groundbreaking new study give such appeals distinct and defensible meaning through an application of the moral theory of Alan Gewirth.
Alan Gewirth's Reason and Morality , in which he set forth the Principle of Generic Consistency, is a major work of modern ethical theory that, though much debated and highly respected, has yet to gain full acceptance. Deryck Beyleveld contends that this resistance stems from misunderstanding of the method and logical operations of Gewirth's central argument. In this book Beyleveld seeks to remedy this deficiency. His rigorous reconstruction of Gewirth's argument gives its various parts their most compelling formulation and clarifies (...) its essential logical structure. Beyleveld then classifies all the criticisms that Gewirth's argument has received and measures them against his reconstruction of the argument. The overall result is an immensely rich picture of the argument, in which all of its complex issues and key moves are clearly displayed and its validity can finally be discerned. The comprehensiveness of Beyleveld's treatment provides ready access to the entire debate surrounding the foundational argument of Reason and Morality . It will be required reading for all who are interested in Gewirth's theory and deontological ethics and will be of central importance to moral and legal theorists. (shrink)
The philosophical debate about the concept of Law is dominated by two traditions: Legal Positivism and Natural-Law Theory. Within Anglo-American Jurisprudence, Legal Positivism is unquestionably the more popular approach. Whilst in recent years there have been a number of assaults upon this ruling view, opposition to Legal Positivism is still very much at the margins of contempory Jurisprudence, The authors of this major work argue, however, that Legal Positivism should be rejected, contending that it is incorrect not in some minor (...) detail but in what they take to be its central tenet, the thesis that the concept of law is morally neutral. Their contention amounts to a rejection of Legal Positivism in favour of Natural-Law Theory. Law as a Moral Judgment is an important and controversial contribution to Jurisprudence. It puts forward a coherent and well argued case which will have to be answered by those of opposed opinion. (shrink)
Alan Gewirth's _Reason and Morality_, in which he set forth the Principle of Generic Consistency, is a major work of modern ethical theory that, though much debated and highly respected, has yet to gain full acceptance. Deryck Beyleveld contends that this resistance stems from misunderstanding of the method and logical operations of Gewirth's central argument. In this book Beyleveld seeks to remedy this deficiency. His rigorous reconstruction of Gewirth's argument gives its various parts their most compelling formulation and clarifies its (...) essential logical structure. Beyleveld then classifies all the criticisms that Gewirth's argument has received and measures them against his reconstruction of the argument. The overall result is an immensely rich picture of the argument, in which all of its complex issues and key moves are clearly displayed and its validity can finally be discerned. The comprehensiveness of Beyleveld's treatment provides ready access to the entire debate surrounding the foundational argument of _Reason and Morality_. It will be required reading for all who are interested in Gewirth's theory and deontological ethics and will be of central importance to moral and legal theorists. (shrink)
According to Bernard Williams, attempts to justify a categorically binding impartial principle fail because they can only establish categorically binding requirements on action by making them non-universalizable , and can only establish impartial requirements by rendering them inapplicable to real agents . But, an individual cannot be the particular agent the individual is without being an agent every bit as much as an individual cannot be an agent without being the particular agent that the individual is. On this basis, it (...) is argued that, when the actual Gewirthian argument for a categorically binding impartial principle is presented, which Williams does not do, his objections to it do not hold and the argument establishes that agents are categorically bound to accept a substantive impartial principle that, at the same time, permits them to live lives that respect their own personal interests. Consequently, Williams’ dilemma is false. (shrink)
This paper analyses the main challenges to the idea that we should and can represent future generations in our present policymaking. It argues that these challenges can and should be approached from the perspective of human rights. To this end it introduces and sketches the main features of a human rights framework derived from the moral theory of Alan Gewirth. It indicates how this framework can be grounded philosophically, sketches the main features and open questions of the framework and its (...) grounding, and shows how it can be used to deal with the challenges to the idea that future generations have rights that can be represented in our policymaking. (shrink)
Christine Korsgaard claims that Gewirth’s argument for morality fails to demonstrate that there is a categorically binding principle on action because it operates with the assumption that reasons for action are essentially private. This attribution is unfounded and Korsgaard’s own argument for moral obligation, in its appeal to Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument to establish that reasons for action are essentially public, is misdirected and unnecessary. Gewirth’s attempt to demonstrate a strictly a priori connection between a moral principle and the concept (...) of being an agent as such is essentially Kantian, and recognizing that the Principle of Hypothetical Imperatives is categorically binding requires Kantians to accept that Gewirth’s Principle of Generic Consistency is the supreme practical principle. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment can be, or otherwise ought to be, regarded as a transcendental phenomenology of hope. Kant states repeatedly that CPoJ mediates between the first two Critiques, or between the theoretical knowledge we arrive at on the basis of understanding and reason’s foundational role for practical philosophy. In other words, exercising the power of judgment is implicated whenever we try to bring together the (...) ethical issue of strictly determining our actions on the one hand and the necessity to act in the physical world on the other. We will argue that this mediating function is properly understood only if the ideations produced by self-understanding are characterized as objects of rationally required hope or fear. (shrink)
Alan Gewirth’s claim that agents contradict that they are agents if they do not accept that the principle of generic consistency is the supreme principle of practical rationality has been greeted with widespread scepticism. The aim of this article is not to defend this claim but to show that if the first and least controversial of the three stages of Gewirth’s argument for the PGC is sound, then agents must interpret and give effect to human rights in ways consistent with (...) the PGC, or deny that human beings are equal in dignity and rights or that they are agents. Implications for the interpretation of the international legal system of human rights inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 are sketched. (shrink)
As one of the most important ethicists to emerge since the Second World War, Alan Gewirth continues to influence philosophical debates concerning morality. In this ground-breaking book, Gewirth's neo-Kantianism, and the communitarian problems discussed, form a dialogue on the foundation of moral theory. Themes of agent-centered constraints, the formal structure of theories, and the relationship between freedom and duty are examined along with such new perspectives as feminism, the Stoics, and Sartre. Gewirth offers a picture of the philosopher's theory and (...) its applications, providing a richer, more complete critical assessement than any which has occurred to date. (shrink)
This paper challenges the view, commonly held inbiolaw and bioethics, that there can be no proprietaryrights in our own bodies or body parts. Whether thestarting point is the post-intervention informedconsent regime of Article 22 of the Convention ofHuman Rights and Biomedicine or the traditional(exclusionary) understanding of private property it isargued that property in our own bodies or body partsis presupposed. Although these arguments do notdemonstrate that there is property of this kind (forthat, a full-scale justification of the institution ofprivate property (...) would be required), they suggestnevertheless that the commonly held view has animmanent property logic that has not yet been drawnout or appreciated. (shrink)
In a community that takes rights seriously, consent features pervasively in both moral and legal discourse as a justifying reason: stated simply, where there is consent, there can be no complaint. However, without a clear appreciation of the nature of a consent-based justification, its integrity, both in principle and in practice, is liable to be compromised. This book examines the role of consent as a procedural justification, discussing the prerequisites for an adequate consent -- in particular, that an agent with (...) the relevant capacity has made an unforced and informed choice, that the consent has been clearly signalled, and that the scope of the authorisation covers the act in question. It goes on to highlight both the Fallacy of Necessity (where there is no consent, there must be a wrong) and the Fallacy of Sufficiency (where there is consent, there cannot be a wrong). Finally, the extent to which the authority of law itself rests on consent is considered. If the familiarity of consent-based justification engenders confusion and contempt, the analysis in this book acts as a corrective, identifying a range of abusive or misguided practices that variously under-value or over-value consent, that fictionalise it or that are fixated by it, and that treat it too casually or too cautiously. In short, the analysis in Consent in the Law points the way towards recognising an important procedural justification for precisely what it is as well as giving it a more coherent application. (shrink)
This book presents a comprehensive analysis of Kant’s justification of the categorical imperative. The book contests the standard interpretation of Kant’s views by arguing that he never abandoned his view about this as expressed in his Groundwork. It is distinctive in the way in which it places Kant’s argument in the context of his transcendental philosophy as a whole, which is essential to understand it as an argument from within human agential self-understanding. The book reviews that existing literature, then presents (...) a logical construction of Kant’s argument, which it defends by examining what Kant has to say about synthetic a priori practical propositions in the context of his transcendental philosophy as a whole, and by a detailed examination of how he presents his argument in the Second Critique and the Groundwork. Particular attention is given to the views of two scholars who share many of the views expressed in this book: Klaus Steigleder and Michael Wolff. Special attention is also given to the views of Owen Ware, who, while sharing many of our arguments has a very different overall view. The concluding chapter provides a statement about the validity of Kant’s argument. (shrink)
The philosophical concept of the self has had a hard time for a long time. The scepticism that lay behind Hume’s ‘bundle’ theory has been made manifest in ‘post-philosophical’ claims that the self or subject is not so much a ‘something’ that ties together a bundle of sense impressions, but is rather to be seen as an effect of a system of power relations, or an illusory presupposition of the relational properties of syntax.
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