Like all theories that account for moral motivation, Francis Hutcheson's moral sense theory faces two related challenges. The skeptical challenge calls into question what reasons an agent has to be moral at all. The priority challenge asks why an agent's reasons to be moral tend to outweigh her non-moral reasons to act. I argue a defender of Hutcheson can respond to these challenges by building on unique features of his account. She can respond to skeptical challenge by drawing a direct (...) parallel between an agent's reasons to pursue natural, self-directed goods and her reasons to pursue moral goods. This parallel, however, makes establishing the significance of morality difficult. Given this difficulty, a separate aspect of Hutcheson's account, the additional weight given to benevolence in our assessment of mixed actions, can be used to respond to the priority challenge. (shrink)
Contractualists characterize morality as fundamentally concerning how people relate to one another. Insofar as someone treats others in a way that they can accept, her actions are permissible. If someone’s actions cannot be justified to others, she acts wrongly. By relying on this idea of justifiability to others, contractualists can account for the wrongness of acts by appealing to a wide variety of reasons. For instance, contractualists can explain why murder is wrong by appealing to the death of innocents and (...) explain the wrongness of plagiarism in terms of the importance of authenticity and originality. Someone can reasonably reject letting people act on principles that allow murder or plagiarism, at least in part, for those reasons. While this flexibility is a strength of contractualism, it also complicates explaining how the fact that an act is wrong itself provides a reason against doing it. Put differently, if the death of innocents explains the wrongness of murder, why take the .. (shrink)
Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, “I” arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here? I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the “strange loop”—a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is the one called “I.” The “I” is the nexus in our brain, one of many symbols seeming (...) to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse. How can a mysterious abstraction be real—or is our “I” merely a convenient fiction? Does an “I” exert genuine power over the particles in our brain, or is it helplessly pushed around by the laws of physics? These are the mysteries tackled in I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter's first book-length journey into philosophy since Gödel, Escher, Bach. Compulsively readable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is a moving and profound inquiry into the nature of mind. (shrink)
In this engaging book, Douglas Anderson begins with the assumption that philosophy—the Greek love of wisdom—is alive and well in American culture. At the same time, professional philosophy remains relatively invisible. Anderson traverses American life to find places in the wider culture where professional philosophy in the distinctively American tradition can strike up a conversation. How might American philosophers talk to us about our religious experience, or political engagement, or literature—or even, popular music? Anderson’s second aim is to find (...) places where philosophy happens in nonprofessional guises—cultural places such as country music, rock’n roll, and Beat literature. He not only enlarges the tradition of American philosophers such as John Dewey and William James by examining lesser-known figures such as Henry Bugbee and Thomas Davidson, but finds the theme and ideas of American philosophy in some unexpected places, such as the music of Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, and Bruce Springsteen, and the writingsof Jack Kerouac.The idea of “philosophy Americana” trades on the emergent genre of “music Americana,” rooted in traditional themes and styles yet engaging our present experiences. The music is “popular” but not thoroughly driven by economic considerations, and Anderson seeks out an analogous role for philosophical practice, where philosophy and popular culture are co-adventurers in the life of ideas. Philosophy Americana takes seriously Emerson’s quest for the extraordinary in the ordinary and James’s belief that popular philosophy can still be philosophy. (shrink)
The Issues at Issue: Heidegger declares metaphor to be a function of metaphysics. Ricoeur's tension theory of metaphor takes the understanding of metaphor beyond metaphysics. Ricoeur's theory of metaphor is a theory of metaphorical statement not of naming. The classical, lexical theory of metaphor focuses on a primary meaning of each metaphor. As such metaphor is merely ornamentation in language. What it names could more appropriately be accomplished in literal language. In contrast, metaphor is understood by Ricoeur to be a (...) semantic event made possible by three kinds of tensions. One may understand symbols to function with the same metaphorical tensions. In the case of symbols, however, these tensions function not at the level of the sentence but rather of the narrative. Metaphor and symbol both have an ‘ontological priority’ over other elements of discourse and experience. They ‘work’ because of the event character of both understanding and experience. Understanding and experience have event as their condition of possibility. Metaphor and symbol both have a ‘temporal priority’, as well, for they serve as the shock to think ‘more’. This can occur, however, because they are part of a circularity that is non-metaphysical, that is, the circularity of the event character of the Being-of beings. Hence, just as metaphors are always ‘larger’ than the sentence, so are symbols always ‘larger’ than the narrative. (shrink)
Can one be happy and free, and nonetheless be moral? This question occurs at the core of daily life and is, as well, a question as old as philosophy itself. In _Can Virtue Make Us Happy? The Art of Living and Morality, _Otfried Höffe, one of Europe’s most well-known philosophers, offers a far-reaching and foundational work in philosophical ethics. As long as one understands "happiness" purely as a feeling of subjective well-being, Höffe argues, there is at best only an accidental (...) unity between it and morality. However, if one means by "happiness" the quality of doing well in the sense of one’s own successful existence, then one must include actions that undoubtedly have a moral character and are named virtues. He uses clear and general language to present what one understands by "happiness" and "freedom" while illuminating the blind alleys in the history of philosophy as well as the difficulties raised by the issues themselves. What has priority: good ends or right action? Is freedom always anarchy? Is it possible to think of a freedom enhanced by morality? Is "morality" only a pretty word for stupidity? Does humanity have a good or a bad character? Is there such a thing as evil? Höffe offers us enlightened philosophical reflection and foundational orientation but no simple formulas; this is precisely what is at stake because anyone who wishes to live a self-determined life rejects any and all formulas. (shrink)
The research described here contributes to the extant empirical research on business ethics education by examining outcomes drawn from the literature on positive organizational scholarship (POS). The general research question explored is whether a course on ethical decision-making in business could positively influence students’ confidence in their abilities to handle ethical problems at work (i.e., moral efficacy), boost the relative importance of ethics in their work lives (i.e., moral meaningfulness), and encourage them to be more courageous in raising ethical problems (...) at work even if it is unpopular (i.e., moral courage). Specifically, the study used a rigorous quasi-experimental pretest–posttest research design with a treatment (N = 30) and control group (N = 30) to investigate whether a graduate-level course in business ethics could influence students’ levels of moral efficacy, meaningfulness, and courage. Findings revealed that participants in the business ethics treatment course experienced significant positive increases in each of the three outcome variables as compared to the control group. The largest increase was in moral efficacy, followed by moral courage, and finally, moral meaningfulness. These findings are discussed in the context of the current research on business ethics education and POS. Implications for future research are discussed. (shrink)
This work seeks to address the absence of serious theological discussion in our culture and in our material society. McGaughey creates two new paradigms for the validity of faith and experience and discusses Christianity in the new century as a 'Faith Seeking Understanding.'.
Essays from some of the 20th century's greatest thinkers explore topics as diverse as artificial intelligence, evolution, science fiction, philosophy, reductionism, and consciousness, presenting a variety of conflicting visions of the self and the soul. Illustrations.
The American thinker Charles Sanders Peirce, best known as the founder of pragmatism, has been influential not only in the pragmatic tradition but more recently in the philosophy of science and the study of semiotics, or sign theory. Strands of System provides an accessible overview of Peirce's systematic philosophy for those who are beginning to explore his thinking and its import for more recent trends in philosophy.
Ethical conduct is the hallmark of excellence in engineering and scientific research, design, and practice. While undergraduate and graduate programs in these areas routinely emphasize ethical conduct, few receive formal ethics training as part of their curricula. The first purpose of this research study was to assess the relative effectiveness of ethics education in enhancing individuals’ general knowledge of the responsible conduct of research practices and their level of moral reasoning. Secondly, we examined the effects of ethics education on the (...) positive psychological outcomes of perspective-taking, moral efficacy, moral courage, and moral meaningfulness. To examine our research hypotheses, we utilized a pretest–posttest quasi-experimental design consisting of three ethics education groups (control, embedded modules, and stand-alone courses). Findings revealed that both embedded and stand alone courses were effective in enhancing participants’ perspective-taking, moral efficacy, and moral courage. Moral meaningfulness was marginally enhanced for the embedded module condition. Moral judgment and knowledge of responsible conduct of research practices were not influenced by either ethics education condition. Contrary to expectations, stand alone courses were not superior to embedded modules in influencing the positive psychological outcomes investigated. Implications of these findings for future research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
The goals of this research were to (1) explore the direct effects of and interactions between magnitude of consequences and various types of proximity - social, psychological, and physical - on the ethical decision-making process and (2) investigate the influence of empathy on the ethical decision-making process. A carpal tunnel syndrome vignette and questionnaire were administered to a sample of human resource management professionals to test the hypothesized relationships. Significant relationships were found for the main effects between magnitude of consequences (...) and principle-based evaluation, cognitive empathy and principle-based evaluation, and empathy and moral intention. Physical proximity moderated the relationships between magnitude of consequences and utilitarian evaluation as well as magnitude of consequences and moral intention. Cognitive empathy moderated the relationships between magnitude of consequences and principle-based evaluation and physical proximity and utilitarian evaluation. Affective empathy marginally moderated the relationship between physical proximity and principle-based evaluation. Future research directions, management implications, and strengths and weaknesses of the research are discussed. (shrink)
This research on the ethics of meaningful work examined how types of job-related harm and their magnitude of consequences influenced components of ethical decision-making. The research also investigated the moderating effects of individual differences on the relation between the MOC and the ethical decision-making elements for each type of harm. Using a sample of 185 Chinese professionals, a between-subjects, fully crossed experimental scenario design revealed that physical and economic job-related harm were recognized as moral issues to a greater extent than (...) cognitive or emotional harm. Second, physical job-related harm stimulated a higher level of moral evaluations than economic and cognitive harm. Third, individuals intended to act ethically when MOC was high versus low. Finally, experience with layoffs and IMO helped explain the relations between MOC and moral evaluations for economic and cognitive job-related harm, respectively. Implications for research and management are discussed. (shrink)
This collection of essays aims to mark a place for American philosophy as it moves into the twenty-first century. Taking their cue from the work of Peirce, James, Santayana, Dewey, Mead, Buchler, and others, the contributors assess and employ philosophy as an activity taking place within experience and culture. Within the broad background of the American tradition, the essays reveal a variety of approaches to the transition in which American philosophy is currently engaged. Some of the pieces argue from an (...) historical dialogue with the tradition, some are more polemically involved with American philosophy’s current status among the contemporary philosophical "schools," and still others seek to reveal the possibilities for the future of American philosophy. In thus addressing past, present, and future, the pieces, taken together, outline a trajectory for American philosophy that reinvents its importance from a new angle of vision. (shrink)
I argue that Plato believes that the soul must be both the principle of motion and the subject of cognition because it moves things specifically by means of its thoughts. I begin by arguing that the soul moves things by means of such acts as examination and deliberation, and that this view is developed in response to Anaxagoras. I then argue that every kind of soul enjoys a kind of cognition, with even plant souls having a form of Aristotelian discrimination (...) (krisis), and that there is therefore no completely unintelligent, evil soul in the cosmos that can explain disorderly motions; as a result, the soul is not the principle of all motion but only motion in the cosmos after it has been ordered by the Demiurge. (shrink)
In 1856, the English photographer Francis Frith set out on the first of three tours of Egypt and the Holy Lands. Traveling up the Nile and then on to the Sinai, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, Frith systematically crafted exquisite pictures of ruins, landscapes, and legendary sites. He then published his views in England and America in a variety of formats, becoming something of a celebrity in photographic circles. This book, the first to place Frith's Egyptian and Levantine images in cultural (...) context, reveals the distinct meanings these ostensibly "topographic" pictures held for the photographer and his Victorian audience. A Quaker by birth and an entrepreneur by nature, Frith brought to his photographic projects a sense of mission: to revive and confirm the stories of the Bible, while offering the region to armchair travelers as a seamless Oriental milieu of Romantic reverie. Francis Frith in Egypt and Palestine narrates the political, intellectual, and social concerns that make Frith representative of England's encounter with the East in the nineteenth century. Historian of photography Douglas R. Nickel brings a sophisticated interdisciplinary approach to bear on the subject in order to expose the complexity of Frith's image-making, setting the photographs against a Victorian backdrop of religious debate, imperialist thought, Romantic philosophy, and Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics. (shrink)
In 1905 William James wrote an essay in McClure's Magazine recalling the importance to his own work of the Scottish-born philosopher Thomas Davidson. In the essay, James states that Davidson was "essentially a teacher." What is interesting when one looks at Davidson's life and work is that, for Davidson, teaching does seem to be an essential feature of what it means to be a philosopher. Here, I develop how Davidson construes this linking of philosophy and teaching with a concluding emphasis (...) on the two schools he established: Glenmore, a summer philosophy program in the Adirondacks and the "Breadwinners' College," an open school he began for working persons in New York City. I offer this as a discussion paper so that James's recollection of Davidson's importance to his own work may provoke us to consider how we presently understand the linking of teaching and philosophy. This seems especially appropriate for an academic culture such as ours in which much of our time is spent teaching and in which we are often primarily evaluated by a separate category of professional "research." The American tradition has "lost" any number of its important.. (shrink)
I argue that, according to Plato, the body is the sole cause of psychic disorders. This view is expressed at Timaeus 86b in an ambiguous sentence that has been widely misunderstood by translators and commentators. The goal of this article is to offer a new understanding of Plato’s text and view. In the first section, I argue that although the body is the result of the gods’ best efforts, their sub-optimal materials meant that the soul is constantly vulnerable to the (...) body’s influences. In the second section, I argue that every psychic disorder is a disruption of the motions of the inner psychic circles by the body; moreover, I defend my translation of 86b. In the final section, I argue that the goal of education is to restore the circles to their original orbits, and I disarm a possible objection that bad education is also a cause of psychic disorder. (shrink)