This paper examines the commonplace assertion that utilitarianism allows for and even, at times, requires the punishment of the innocent. It traces the origins of this doctrine to the writings of the British Idealists and the subsequent development of what is called the post-utilitarian paradigm which posits various justifications for punishment such as retribution, deterrence and reform, finds all of them inadequate, and then, with the addition of other ideas, reconciles them. The idea of deterrence is falsely depicted as the (...) utilitarian contribution to the theory of punishment, while deterrence in fact is one of several elements in the utilitarian theory. The mistake comes from ignoring the pain-pleasure dimension of Benthamite utilitarianism and from regarding the principle of utility itself as the sole criterion of action in a ‘top-down’ fashion. (shrink)
This article considers Bentham's response to the criticism of utilitarianism that it allows for and may even require the sacrifice of some members of society in order to increase overall happiness. It begins with the contrast between the principle of utility and the contrasting principle of sympathy and antipathy to show that Bentham regarded the main achievement of his principle as overcoming the subjectivity he found in all other philosophical theories. This subjectivism, especially prevalent in theories of rights, might well (...) lead to the sacrifice of the individual. The principle of utility was presented as an ‘objective’ theory that avoided the difficulties of other moral and political theories. The article also considers the importance of universally applicable ends, such as security and equality, as part of the principle of utility, and especially Bentham's view of maximizing pleasure as being a distributive rather than an aggregative idea. The article concludes by criticizing H. L. A. Hart's interpretation of the role of equality and rights in Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and argues that Mill's doctrine of moral rights builds on foundations originally established by Bentham, foundations which would preclude the sacrifice of individuals. (shrink)
My topic is personal identity, or rather, our identity. There is general, but not, of course, unanimous, agreement that it is wrong to give an account of what is involved in, and essential to, our persistence over time which requires the existence of immaterial entities, but, it seems to me, there is no consensus about how, within, what might be called this naturalistic framework, we should best procede. This lack of consensus, no doubt, reflects the difficulty, which must strike anyone (...) who has considered the issue, of achieving, just in one's own thinking, a reflective equilibrium. The theory of personal identity, I feel, provides a curious contrast. On the one side, it seems highly important to know what sort of thing we are, but, on the other, it is hard to find any answer which has a ‘solid’ feel. (shrink)
Listening to someone from some distance in a crowded room you may experience the following phenomenon: when looking at them speak, you may both hear and see where the source of the sounds is; but when your eyes are turned elsewhere, you may no longer be able to detect exactly where the voice must be coming from. With your eyes again fixed on the speaker, and the movement of her lips a clear sense of the source of the sound will (...) return. This ‘ventriloquist’ effect reflects the ways in which visual cognition can dominate auditory perception. And this phenomenological observation is one what you can verify or disconfirm in your own case just by the slightest reflection on what it is like for you to listen to someone with or without visual contact with them. (shrink)
This is the twenty-sixth volume in the Library of Living Philosophers, a series founded by Paul A. Schilpp in 1939 and edited by him until 1981, when the editorship was taken over by Lewis E. Hahn. This volume follows the design of previous volumes. As Schilpp conceived this series, every volume would have the following elements: an intellectual autobiography of the philosopher, a series of expository and critical articles written by exponents and opponents of the philosopher's thought, replies to these (...) critics and commentators by the philosopher, and as nearly complete a bibliography of the published work of the philosopher as possible. (shrink)
We argue that neuroeconomics should be a mechanistic science. We defend this view as preferable both to a revolutionary perspective, according to which classical economics is eliminated in favour of neuroeconomics, and to a classical economic perspective, according to which economics is insulated from facts about psychology and neuroscience. We argue that, like other mechanistic sciences, neuroeconomics will earn its keep to the extent that it either reconfigures how economists think about decision-making or how neuroscientists think about brain mechanisms underlying (...) behaviour. We discuss some ways that the search for mechanisms can bring about such top-down and bottom-up revision, and we consider some examples from the recent neuroeconomics literature of how varieties of progress of this sort might be achieved. (shrink)
Christology seems to fall fairly clearly into two divisions. The first is concerned with the truth of the two propositions: ‘Christ is God’ and ‘Christ is a man’. The second is concerned with the mutual compatibility of these propositions. The first part of Christology tends to confine itself to what is sometimes called ‘positive theology’: that is to say, it is largely given over to examining the Jons revelationis —let us not prejudge currently burning issues by asking what this is—to (...) see what evidence can be found for the truth of these propositions. Clearly, the methods used will be above all those of New Testament exegesis. The second part of Christology will necessarily consist entirely of that speculative theology which is contrasted with positive theology. Even if the earliest speculation on this topic is to be found in the New Testament itself and thus becomes fair game for the exegetes, any attempt to relate the primary truths, ‘Christ is God’ and ‘Christ is a man’, to eachother is a work of reflection, and in the terminology I am using speculative. (shrink)
In this essay, Hegel attempted to show how Fichte’s Science of Knowledge was an advance from the position of Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, and how Schelling (and incidentally Hegel himself) had made a further advance from the position of Fichte.
Every body cell of an animal or human being contains the same complete set of genes. In theory any of these cells can be used to start a new embryo. The technique has been employed in the case of frogs. The nucleus is taken out of a body cell of a frog and implanted in an enucleated frog's egg. The resulting egg cell is stimulated to develop into a normal frog, and will be an exact copy of that frog which (...) provided the nucleus with all the genetic information. In normal sexual reproduction, two parents each contribute half their genes, but in the case of cloning, one parent passes on all his or her genes. (shrink)
William Perm summarized the Magna Carta thus: “First, It asserts Englishmen to be free; that's Liberty. Secondly, they that have free-holds, that's Property.” Since at least the seventeenth century, liberals have not only understood liberty and property to be fundamental, but to be somehow intimately related or interwoven. Here, however, consensus ends; liberals present an array of competing accounts of the relation between liberty and property. Many, for instance, defend an essentially instrumental view, typically seeing private property as justified because (...) it is necessary to maintain or protect other, more basic, liberty rights. Important to our constitutional tradition has been the idea that “[t]he right to property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.” Along similar lines, it has been argued that only an economic system based on private property disperses power and resources, ensuring that private people in civil society have the resources to oppose the state and give effect to basic liberties. Alternatively, it is sometimes claimed that only those with property develop the independent characters that are necessary to preserve a regime of liberty. But not only have liberals insisted that, property is a means of preserving liberty, they have often conceived of it as an embodiment of liberty, or as a type of liberty, or indeed as identical to liberty. This latter view is popular among contemporary libertarians or classical liberals. Jan Narveson, for instance, bluntly asserts that “Liberty is Property,” while John Gray insists that “[t]he connection between property and the basic liberties is constitutive and not just instrumental.”. (shrink)
Although Caenorhabditis elegans was chosen and modified to be an organism that would facilitate a reductionist program for neurogenetics, recent research has provided evidence for properties that are emergent from the neurons. While neurogenetic advances have been made using C. elegans which may be useful in explaining human neurobiology, there are severe limitations on C. elegans to explain any significant human behavior.
In Morals By Agreement, David Gauthier concludes that under certain conditions it is rational for an agent to be disposed to choose in accordance with a fair cooperative scheme rather than to choose the course of action that maximizes his utility. This is only one of a number of important claims advanced in that book. In particular, he also propounds a distinctive view concerning what counts as a fair cooperative arrangement. The thesis concerning the rationality of adopting a cooperative disposition (...) is, however, logically independent of his substantive view of a fair cooperative scheme and is itself central to the project as a whole. Gauthier's concern is to establish that certain moral principles are those that fully rational, self-interested persons would agree to take as regulative of their dealings with one another – that a contractarian approach, in this sense, can provide an adequate basis for a theory of morality. (shrink)
Theaetetus, asked what knowledge is, replies that geometry and the other mathematical disciplines are knowledge, and so are crafts like cobbling. Socrates points out that it does not help him to be told how many kinds of knowledge there are when his problem is to know what knowledge itself is, what it means to call geometry or a craft knowledge in the first place—he insists on the generality of his question in the way he often does when his interlocutor, asked (...) for a definition, cites instead cases of the concept to be defined. (shrink)
The goal of neuroeconomics is a mathematical theory of how the brain implements decisions, that is tied to behaviour. This theory is likely to show some decisions for which rational-choice theory is a good approximation, to provide a deeper level of distinction among competing behavioural alternatives, and to provide empirical inspiration for economics to incorporate more nuanced ideas about endogeneity of preferences, individual difference, emotions, endogeneous regulation of states, and so forth. I also address some concerns about rhetoric and practical (...) epistemology. Neuroscience articles are necessarily speculative and the science has proceeded rapidly because of that rhetorical convention. Single-study papers are encouraged and are necessarily limited in what can be inferred, so the sturdiest cumulation of results, and the best guide forward, comes in review journals which compile results and suggest themes. The potential of neuroeconomics is in combining the clearest experimental paradigms and statistical methods in economics, with the unprecedented capacity to measure a range of neural and cognitive activity that economists like Edgeworth, Fisher and Ramsey daydreamed about but did not have. (shrink)
Those familiar with Ayn Rand's ethical writings may know that she discusses issues in metaethics, and that she defended the objectivity of morality during the heyday of early non-cognitivism. But neither her metaethics, in general, nor her views on moral objectivity, in particular, have received wide study. This article elucidates some aspects of her thought in these areas, focusing on Rand's conception of the way in which moral values serve a biologically based human need, and on her account of moral (...) values as both essentially practical and epistemically objective in a sense fundamentally continuous with the objectivity of science. The bearing of her epistemological writings on her ethical thought is emphasized throughout, and her epistemology is defended against a line of criticism inspired by John McDowell's criticism of the so-called “myth of the given.”. (shrink)
If theism is true, then there exists a being to which we appropriately refer with the term ‘God’. This point is analytic. Any object to which we appropriately refer with the term ‘God’ bears certain properties – e.g. omniscience, omnipotence and moral perfection. While the analyticity of this point may be a matter of debate, I find no problem granting its necessary truth , at least for the purposes of this paper. There are properties essential to the appropriate wearing of (...) the title ‘God’. Does it follow from these claims that the object to which we appropriately apply the term ‘God’ bears the properties in question – omniscience, omnipotence, etc. – essentially? Is God essentially God? Or is it possible that the being to whom we refer with ‘God’ exist but not be God? Many would assume that the answers to these questions are obvious – that God is God essentially, or not at all. However, I wish to argue that there may be properties essential to Godhood, but not essential to the being that is God. (shrink)
Some of the commentators on Intricate Ethics complain of my method. One finds the main ideas ‘Kammouflaged’ because the relevant causal distinctions are so fine-grained and the cases that illustrate them so numerous. Some say that they do not have the intuitions about many cases that I have, that I concoct dubious and ad hoc distinctions and invest them with moral significance; I am Ptolemaic in that new crystalline spheres and epicycles are constantly being added in an attempt to fix (...) the appearances. (shrink)
Following the practice of human beings everywhere historians distinguish the real or most significant cause of an occurrence or state of affairs from ‘less important considerations’, ‘precipitating circumstances’, or ‘mere conditions’. I shall term claims that some phenomenon is most basically to be attributed to some one of the factors causally necessary for its occurrence attributive causal explanations or causal attributions and discuss here the extent to which moral convictions are constitutive of them.
Why did Hume drop sympathy as a key concept of his moral philosophy, and why—on the other hand—did Smith make it into the ‘didactic principle’ of his Theory of Moral Sentiments? These questions confront us with the basic issue of ethical theory concerning human nature. My point in dealing with these questions is to show what views of human nature their respective choices involved. And my procedure will be to take a close look at the revisions they made to their (...) ethical theories to bring out the contrasting aspects of their views of human nature. (shrink)