Plato's dialogues use several terms for the concept of well-being, which concept plays a central ethical role as the ultimate goal for action and a central political role as the proper aim for states. But the dialogues also reveal sharp debate about what human well-being is. I argue that they endorse a Socratic conception of well-being as virtuous activity, by considering and rejecting several alternatives, including an ordinary conception that lists a variety of goods, a Protagorean conception that identifies one's (...) well-being with what appears one to be one's well-being, and hedonistic conceptions. (shrink)
By considering carefully Socrates' invocations of 'compulsion' in Plato's Republic, I seek to explain how both justice and compulsion are crucial to the philosophers' decision to rule in Kallipolis, so that this decision does not contradict Socrates' central thesis that it is always in one's interests to act justly. On my account, the compulsion is provided by a law, made by the city's lawgivers, that requires people raised to be philosophers take turns ruling. Justice by itself does not require the (...) philosophers to rule, but it does require them to obey just laws. I also consider the implications of this view for Plato's politics. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of vulnerability in the basis of business ethics by criticizing its role in giving a moral substantial character to fiduciary duties to shareholders. The target is Marcoux’s (Bus Ethics Q 13(1):1–24, 2003) argument for morally substantial fiduciary duties vis-à-vis the multifiduciary stakeholder theory. Rather than proceed to support the stakeholder paradigm, a conception of vulnerability is combined with Heath’s 2004) “market failure” view of the ethical obligations of managers as falling out of their roles as (...) professionals involved in the institution of the market. The result is the core of a theoretically defensible and managerially motivating and deployable ethic. (shrink)
Aristotle's treatment of the choice between the political and contemplative lives (in EN I 5 and X 7-8) can seem awkward. To offer one explanation of this, I argue that when he invokes self-sufficience (autarkeia) as a criterion for this choice, he appeals to two different and incompatible specifications of "lacking nothing." On one specification, suitable to a human being living as a political animal and thus seeking to realize his end as an engaged citizen of a polis, a person (...) lacks nothing by possessing a wide range of goods that directly require other people. On the other, more suitable to a god or a beast, a person lacks nothing by having no need of goods that directly require other people. The ambiguity of this criterion renders the choice between the political and contemplative lives difficult. (shrink)
At least Sachs' well-known essay, many readers of Plato's Republic have worried that there is a gap between the challenge posed to Socrates--to show that it is always in one's interest to act justly--and his response--to show that it is always in one's interest to have a just soul. The most popular response has been that Socrates fills this gap in Books Five through Seven by supposing that knowledge of the Forms motivates those with just souls to act justly. I (...) offer some complaints about this gap-filling strategy and offer an alternative account, according to which there was never a gap. On my account, Socrates assumes that no one can have a just soul unless they have been raised well and that anyone who is raised well will act justly. On this view, the account of moral education in Books Two through Four is the key to understanding the connection between psychological and practical justice. I argue that this account makes better sense of what the Republic says, and that it attributes to Plato a more plausible moral psychology. (shrink)
I reject the traditional picture of philosophical withdrawal in the Hellenistic Age by showing how both Epicureans and Stoics oppose, in different ways, the Platonic and Aristotelian assumption that contemplative activity is the greatest good for a human being. Chrysippus the Stoic agrees with Plato and Aristotle that the greatest good for a human being is virtuous activity, but he denies that contemplation exercises virtue. Epicurus more thoroughly rejects the assumption that the greatest good for a human being is virtuous (...) activity. He maintains that the greatest good for a human being is the tranquility that virtuous activity always and contemplative activity sometimes brings about. (shrink)
Plato's Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? The puzzles in Book One prepare for this question, and Glaucon and Adeimantus make it explicit at the beginning of Book Two. To answer the question, Socrates takes a long way around, sketching an account of a good city on the grounds that a good city would be just and that defining justice as a virtue of a city would help to define justice as (...) a virtue of a human being. Socrates is finally close to answering the question after he characterizes justice as a personal virtue at the end of Book Four, but he is interrupted and challenged to defend some of the more controversial features of the good city he has sketched. In Books Five through Seven, he addresses this challenge, arguing (in effect) that the just city and the just human being as he has sketched them are in fact good and are in principle possible. After this long digression, Socrates in Books Eight and Nine finally delivers three "proofs" that it is always better to be just than unjust. Then, because Socrates wants not only to show that it is always better to be just but also to convince Glaucon and Adeimantus of this point, and because Socrates' proofs are opposed by the teachings of poets, he bolsters his case in Book Ten by indicting the poets' claims to represent the truth and by offering a new myth that is consonant with his proofs. (shrink)
Positioning Du Bois's arguments in The Souls of Black Folk (1903) within social theory enhances our understanding of the phenomenological dimensions of racial oppression and of how oppressed groups build on members' differences, as well as on what they share, to construct a cosmopolitan and richly textured community. Du Bois wrote Souls just at the beginning of the Great Migration but indicated that geographical dispersion would deepen racial solidarity, enhance the meaningfulness of community, and emancipate individual group members through participation (...) in mainstream society while maintaining their black identity. Du Bois's writings have powerful implications for understanding how to promote racial justice, and contemporary readers might consider that they have implications for social justice more generally. An analysis of black newspapers that were published during the period of 1900 to 1935 illustrates how Du Bois's conceptions were woven into discourse and everyday practices. (shrink)
Introduction to the Scientific Proof of the Natural Moral Law -/- This paper proves that Aquinas has a means of demonstrating and deriving both moral goodness and the natural moral law from human nature alone. Aquinas scientifically proves the existence of the natural moral law as the natural rule of human operations from human nature alone. The distinction between moral goodness and transcendental goodness is affirmed. This provides the intellectual tools to refute the G.E. Moore (Principles of Ethics) attack against (...) the natural law as committing a "naturalistic fallacy". This article proves that instead Moore commits the fallacy of equivocation between moral goodness and transcendental goodness in his very assertion of a "naturalistic fallacy" by the proponents of the natural moral law. In the process the new deontological/kantian theory of natural law as articulated by John Finnis, Robert George, and Germain Grisez is false historically and philosophically. Ethical naturalism is affirmed as a result. (shrink)
In his recent work, T.M. Scanlon has argued for a relationship based theory of blame. For Scanlon moral blame involves the modification of the moral relationship. He holds that this relationship obtains among all rational beings. George Sher has recently argued that Scanlon’s theory cannot account for blame between strangers. Following Sher, I argue that Scanlon’s account of blame precludes complete strangers and that his conception of the moral relationship is fundamentally inconsistent with his theory of blame generally. I contend (...) that Scanlon’s moral relationship, in itself, precludes the possibility of blaming on his account. (shrink)
Aristotle’s account of external goods in Nicomachean Ethics I 8-12 is often thought to amend his narrow claim that happiness is virtuous activity. I argue, to the contrary, that on Aristotle’s account, external goods are necessary for happiness only because they are necessary for virtuous activity. My case innovates in three main respects: I offer a new map of EN I 8-12; I identify two mechanisms to explain why virtuous activity requires external goods, including a psychological need for external goods; (...) and I show the relevance of Aristotle’s distinction between wishing and choosing. On the view I attribute to Aristotle our capacity to choose virtuously requires, first, that we wish for external goods (because virtue requires the right attitudes of evaluation) and, second, that these wishes are generally fulfilled (because the social consequences and psychological pain of unfulfilled wishes undermine our opportunity to act virtuously and to take pleasure in acting virtuously). I close with discussion of how Aristotelians should defend this approach. (shrink)
How does Plato account for political legitimacy in the Republic? In the first half of these brief comments, I consider Fred Miller's proposal that Plato endorses "the rule of reason." In the second, I offer an alternative, according to which it is wisdom that earns rulers legitimacy.
Questions about the role of luck in attributions of moral responsibility have troubled theorists for some time. In this paper I will explicate a position that acknowledges luck as a contributing factor to most, if not all, outcomes and consequences while denying luck the exculpatory role that some theorists contend it plays. I begin by going through the characterization of two perspectives on luck offered by Susan Wolf. From there I outline two necessary conditions for the legitimate attribution of praise (...) or blame. The first condition is that of Control. The second condition is the agent's creation of "undue risk". I revisit Wolfs two perspectives and break down the relationship between the necessary conditions and each perspective. I contend that a legitimate theory of moral responsibility must allow for factors outside of an agent's control when attempting to attribute praise or blame. Luck can be seen as one of these factors and it should not be seen as playing an exculpatory role. (shrink)
I defend the Stoicizing view that Socrates in the Euthydemus really means what he says when he says that wisdom is the only good for a human being. By taking the deniers' case seriously and extending my Stoicizing interpretation to the Euthydemus as a whole, I aim to show how the dialogue calls into question three prominent assumptions that the deniers make, assumptions that reach far beyond the Euthydemus and that are made by more than just the deniers. First, the (...) deniers misread Socrates' argument that wisdom is the only good because they misunderstand what makes a protreptic argument successful. I show that the Euthydemus both raises a difficult question about reasons one might have for radical change in view and suggests a sophisticated answer. Second, the deniers' philosophical doubts about the Stoic claim rest on a mistaken interpretation of Socrates' ethical theory. I show that the Euthydemus offers a more plausible picture of Socratic eudaimonism that accommodates the Stoic claim. Third, when the deniers rely on evidence outside the Euthydemus to cast doubt on the Stoicizing reading, they rely on a dubious methodological assumption about how to read Plato's Socratic dialogues. I argue that the Euthydemus calls for a different approach. (shrink)
I argue that the Stoics were right to portray Socrates as a cosmopolitan, because this portrait is fully consistent with the Socrates of Plato's Socratic dialogues. His rejection of ordinary political engagement in favor of an extraordinary way of doing the political work of improving others lives by examining them is also the rejection of locally engaged politics in favor of benefiting human beings as such. It is less clear whether his cosmopolitanism is moderate (admitting special obligations to benefit compatriots (...) alongside general obligations to benefit humans as such) or strict (denying the special obligations), but I argue that the evidence of Socrates' attachment to Athens, in the Crito and elsewhere, is compatible with his being a strict cosmopolitan. (shrink)
The last several decades have witnessed an explosion of research in Platonic philosophy. A central focus of his philosophical effort, Plato's psychology is of interest both in its own right and as fundamental to his metaphysical and moral theories. This anthology offers, for the first time, a collection of the best classic and recent essays on cenral topics of Plato's psychological theory, including essays on the nature of the soul, studies of the tripartite soul for which Plato argues in the (...) Republic, and analyses of his varied arguments for immortality. With a comprehensive introduction to the major issues of Plato's psychology and an up-to-date bibliography of work on the relevant issues, this much-needed text makes the study of Plato's psychology accessible to scholars in ancient Greek philosophy, classics, and history of psychology. (shrink)
What does Socrates mean by suggesting that no one can understand the nature of the soul "without the nature of the whole" (Phaedrus 270c)? I raise epistemological and metaphysical questions for Mary Louise Gill's proposal that he means us to consider the whole environment, and I make a case for the old-fashioned interpretation that he means us to consider the whole cosmos.
Plutarch charges that Stoic theory is inconsistent with Stoic political engagement no matter what they decide to do, because the Stoics' endorsement of the political life is inconsistent with their cosmopolitan rejection of ordinary politics (Stoic.rep., ab init.). Drawing on evidence from Chrysippus and Seneca, I develop an argument that answers this charge, and I draw out two interesting implications of the argument. The first implication is for scholars of ancient Stoicism who like to say that Stoicism is apolitical. The (...) argument I reconstruct turns on the political importance of the practice of giving and taking advice, and in this way makes clear a philosophically significant way in which Stoic ethics is itself political. The second implication is for moral and political theorists who are quick to contrast cosmopolitanism with patriotic political engagement. My Chrysippean and Senecan argument shows how Stoics could envision local political engagement as an instantiation of cosmopolitan commitments. (shrink)
Resurgent nationalisms and disputes over educational curricula have brought to the fore an old debate between cosmopolitans and patriots. The cosmopolitans emphasize our moral obligations to all human beings, while the patriots argue that our greatest moral obligations lie closer to hand, within our political community. My dissertation concerns the roots of this debate by focusing on the first philosophers in the West to devise an ethical theory which is fully committed to the strictly cosmopolitan denial that we have any (...) obligations to fellow citizens qua fellow citizens, the Greek Stoics of the third century scBCE. I discuss the arguments they offer for their strict cosmopolitanism, and I demonstrate how they argue in favor of the locally engaged political life in spite of their strict cosmopolitanism. For perspective, my dissertation also includes a background chapter on Plato and Aristotle and a chapter on the development of Stoic cosmopolitanism in Cicero. ;An introductory chapter clarifies the conflict between cosmopolitanism and patriotism. The first chapter concerns the Socrates of Plato's early dialogues, who seems to recognize obligations to all human beings, and the mature Plato and Aristotle, who do not develop the cosmopolitan implications of Socratic ethics. Chapter Two argues that the early Stoics ground their strict cosmopolitanism in certain assumptions about cosmic nature, and in Chapter Three, I reconstruct how Chrysippus' On Lives endorses the political life in spite of his strictly cosmopolitan commitments. The fourth chapter discusses the retreat in Cicero's De Officiis to a more limited Stoic cosmopolitanism which recognizes special obligations to fellow citizens. A brief concluding chapter relates the findings of the dissertation both to some broad historical questions about the origins and subsequent development of cosmopolitanism and to an argument for special obligations to fellow citizens which is prominent in the contemporary literature. (shrink)
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