This collection of previously unpublished essays addresses a number of issues arising out of philosophical controversies over the possibility of genuine moral dilemmas. Issues addressed include the form of a moral dilemma; the paradoxes a moral dilemma is said to entail; the question of whether a moral dilemma must exhibit inconsistency; the role of intractable circumstances in occasioning moral dilemmas; and the plausibility of supposing that there might be rational ways of addressing moral dilemmas in practice. The contributors, writing from (...) a number of widely differing points of view, include Simon Blackburn, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Alan Donagan, Terrance McConnell, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Mary Mothersill, Norman Dahl, David Brink, Peter Railton, Thomas E. Hill, Jr., Christopher Gowans, and H.E. Mason. (shrink)
In this commentary I focus on similarities, discrepancies, and problems in the four large theoretical perspectives on emotions presented in this issue. Focusing on the approaches’ ideas about the functionality of emotions, I will discuss limitations that call for smaller and more focused theories.
I argue, first, that the deprived individuals whose predicaments Nussbaum cites as examples of "adaptive preference" do not in fact prefer the conditions of their lives to what we should regard as more desirable alternatives, indeed that we believe they are badly off precisely because they are not living the lives they would prefer to live if they had other options and were aware of them. Secondly, I argue that even where individuals in deprived circumstances acquire tastes for conditions that (...) we regard as bad, they are typically better off having their acquired preferences satisfied. If they are badly off it is because they cannot get what we and they, would regard as more desirable alternatives. Preference utilitarianism explains why individuals in such circumstances are badly off whether they have adapted to their deprived circumstances or not. Even if they prefer the conditions of their lives to all other available alternatives, most would prefer alternatives that are not available to them which would, on the preferentist account, make them better off. And that, on the preferentist account, is the basis for a radical critique of unjust institutions that limit people's options and prevent them from getting what they want. (shrink)
Even in the absence of overt discrimination, women are often channelled into different directions from their male counterparts by the network of incentives and disincentives which constitute what has been called a ‘discriminatory environment’. On the account of freedom and coercion developed in this essay, the incentives and disincentives which typically figure in discriminatory environments are not coercive. Nevertheless such environments, it is argued, are morally objectionable on independent grounds.
Museums are safe spaces for the objects they hold and for the persons that visit them, providing environments that can function in therapeutic ways. Within the wide range of objects, there is enough diversity to help guests discover what similarities they have with others as well as what makes them unique as individuals. Within exhibits, individuals can explore themselves through the reactions they have to particular pieces, through the observation of what holds their attention within the environment, and through the (...) awareness and development of their contemplative mind. Museums can introduce transpersonal information, add information to previous transpersonal experiences, and even promote expanded states of awareness. With direction, guests can use museums to learn about themselves, thus optimizing the therapeutic potentials of these institutions. (shrink)
Kant's philosophy of arithmetic / by Charles Parsons -- Visual geometry / by James Hopkins -- The proof-structure of Kant's transcendental deduction / by Dieter Henrich -- Imagination and perception / by P.F. Strawson -- Kant's categories and their schematism / by Lauchlan Chipman -- Transcendental arguments / by Barry Stroud -- Strawson on transcendental idealism / by H.E. Matthews -- Self-knowledge / by W.H. Walsh -- The age and size of the world / by Jonathan Bennett.
Presence as ordinarily understood requires spatio-temporal proximity. If however Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is understood in this way it would take a miracle to secure multiple location and an additional miracle to cover it up so that the presence of Christ where the Eucharist was celebrated made no empirical difference. And, while multiple location is logically possible, such metaphysical miracles—miracles of distinction without difference, which have no empirical import—are problematic. I propose an account of Eucharist according to which Christ (...) is indeed really and objectively present in the religiously required sense, without benefit of metaphysical miracles. According to the proposed account, which draws upon Searle’s discussion of “social ontology” in The Construction of Social Reality and The Making of the Social World, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is an institutional fact. I argue that such an account satisfies the requirements for a real presence doctrine. (shrink)
It is difficult to reconcile claims about the Father's role as the progenitor of Trinitarian Persons with commitment to the equality of the persons, a problem that is especially acute for Social Trinitarians. I propose a metatheological account of the doctrine of the Trinity that facilitates the reconciliation of these two claims. On the proposed account, ‘Father’ is systematically ambiguous. Within economic contexts, those which characterize God's relation to the world, ‘Father’ refers to the First Person of the Trinity; within (...) theological contexts, which purport to describe intra-Trinitarian relations, it refers to the Trinity in toto-thus in holding that the Son and Holy Spirit proceed from the Father we affirm that the Trinity is the source and unifying principle of Trinitarian Persons. While this account is solves a nagging problem for Social Trinitarians it is theologically minimalist to the extent that it is compatible with both Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism, and with heterodox Modalist and Tri-theist doctrines as well. Its only theological cost is incompatibility with the Filioque Clause, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son—and arguably that may be a benefit. (shrink)
The doctrine of the Trinity developed in response to a range of theological interests, among them the project of reconciling claims about the divinity of Christ with monotheism and massaging Christian doctrine into the ambient (largely Platonic) philosophical framework of the period. More recently the Trinity doctrine has been deployed to promote normative claims concerning human nature, human relationships and social justice. During the past two decades analytic philosophers of religion have increasingly engaged with the doctrine. There are, however, a (...) number of foundational questions that have not been addressed in the philosophical literature. The Trinity: A Philosophical Investigation considers the competing accounts of the Trinity doctrine, whether orthodox or heterodox, and aims to respond to objections and explicate their motivations and entailments. (shrink)
Prima facie, relative identity looks like a perfect fit for the doctrine of the Trinity since it allows us to say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each of which is a Trinitarian Person, are the same God but not the same Person. Nevertheless, relative identity solutions to logic puzzles concerning the doctrine of the Trinity have not, in recent years, been much pursued. Critics worry that relative identity accounts are unintuitive, uninformative or unintelligible. I suggest that the relative (...) identity account is worth a second look and argue that it provides a coherent account of the doctrine of the Trinity. (shrink)
No one has the right to say what should be done to their body after deathIn my opinion any concept of property in the human body either during life or after death is biologically inaccurate and morally wrong. The body should be regarded as on loan to the individual from the biomass, to which the cadaver will inevitably return. Development of immunosuppressive drugs has resulted in the cadaver becoming a unique and invaluable resource to those who will benefit from organ (...) donation. Faced with the biological reality, the moral error of any concept of property in the body, and the quantitative failure of voluntary organ donation, I believe that the right of control over the cadaver should be vested in the state as representative of those who may benefit from organ donation.How one regards the dead human body, the cadaver, is in part governed by one’s familiarity with it. At the present time, very few people ever see a cadaver which has not in some way been altered after death, and even fewer touch, handle, deal in any way with the dead human body. In developed countries, death itself most frequently occurs away from the home, in an institution, under the supervision of professional caregivers. For most people, ideas concerning the cadaver, its nature, the proper way to deal with it, are formed under these conditions.As a pathologist specialising in forensic pathology, for 50 years I have been at the other end of the spectrum of experience. In my daily work I have been privileged to examine the cadaver in all its stages after death from the immediate postmortem moments through all the stages of decomposition to bare bones. Working in a relatively small community, I have sometimes been charged with examining the body of someone I …. (shrink)
The ethical issues around decision making on behalf of infants have been illuminated by two empirical research studies carried out in Scotland. In-depth interviews with 176 medical and nursing staff and with 108 parents of babies for whom there was discussion of treatment withholding/withdrawal, generated a wealth of data on both the decision making process and the management of cases. Both staff and parents believe that parents should be involved in treatment limitation decisions on behalf of their babies. However, whilst (...) many doctors and nurses consider the ultimate responsibility too great for families to carry, the majority of parents wish to be the final arbiters. We offer explanations for the differences in perception found in the two groups. The results of these empirical studies provide both aids to ethical reflection and guidance for clinicians dealing with these vulnerable families. They demonstrate the value of empirical data in the philosophical debate. (shrink)
Nozick’s Experience Machine thought experiment is generally taken to make a compelling, if not conclusive, case against philosophical hedonism. I argue that it does not and, indeed, that regardless of the results, it cannot provide any reason to accept or reject either hedonism or any other philosophical account of wellbeing since it presupposes preferentism, the desire-satisfaction account ofwellbeing. Preferentists cannot take any comfort from the results of such thought experiments because they assume preferentism and therefore cannot establish it. Neither can (...) anyone else, since only a preferentist should accept the terms of the thought experiment. (shrink)
Is Utilitarianism Bad for Women? Philosophers and policy-makers concerned with the ethics, economics, and politics of development argue that the phenomenon of ‘adaptive preference’ makes preference-utilitarian measures of well-being untenable. Poor women in the Global South, they suggest, adapt to deprivation and oppression and may come to prefer states of affairs that are not conducive to flourishing. This critique, however, assumes a questionable understanding of preference utilitarianism and, more fundamentally, of the concept of preference that figures in such accounts. If (...) well-being is understood as preference-satisfaction it is easy to see why poor women in the Global South are badly off: even if they do not desire more favorable conditions they nevertheless prefer them, and that preference is not satisfied. Preferentism provides a rationale for improving economic conditions and dismantling the unjust institutions that prevent them from climbing higher on their preference-rankings. Utilitarianism, therefore, insofar as utility is understood as preference satisfaction, is good for women. (shrink)
Critics suggest that without some "objective" account of well-being we cannot explain why satisfying some preferences is, as we believe, better than satisfying others, why satisfying some preferences may leave us on net worse off or why, in a range of cases, we should reject life-adjustment in favor of life-improvement. I defend a subjective welfarist understanding of well-being against such objections by reconstructing the Amartya Sen's capability approach as a preferentist account of well-being. According to the proposed account preference satisfaction (...) alone—possible as well as actual—is of value. States of affairs contribute to well-being because and to the extent that they satisfy actual or nearby possible preferences, and are fruitful, that is, compatible with a range states that satisfy further actual or nearby possible preferences. The proposed account solves the problem of adaptive preference. Individuals whose preferences are "deformed" are satisfied with fruitless states of affairs, which constrain their options so that they are incapable of satisfying a wide range of nearby possible preferences—preferences they "could easily have had." Recognizing the value of capabilities as well as actual attainments allows us to explain why individuals who satisfy "deformed" or perverse preferences may not on net benefit from doing so. More fundamentally, it explains why some states are, as Sen suggests, bad, awful or gruesome while others are good, excellent or superb without appeal to any objective account of value. (shrink)
Standard pedagogy treats topics in general relativity (GR) in terms of tensor formulations in curved space-time. An alternative approach based on treating the vacuum as a polarizable medium is presented here. The polarizable vacuum (PV) approach to GR, derived from a model by Dicke and related to the “THεμ” formalism used in comparative studies of gravitational theories, provides additional insight into what is meant by a curved metric. While reproducing the results predicted by GR for standard (weak-field) astrophysical conditions, for (...) strong fields a divergence of predictions in the two formalisms (GR vs. PV) provides fertile ground for both laboratory and astrophysical tests to compare the two approaches. (shrink)
Representatives from eight European countries compared the legal, ethical and professional settings within which decision making for neonates takes place. When it comes to limiting treatment there is general agreement across all countries that overly aggressive treatment is to be discouraged. Nevertheless, strong emphasis has been placed on the need for compassionate care even where cure is not possible. Where a child will die irrespective of medical intervention, there is widespread acceptance of the practice of limiting aggressive treatment or alleviating (...) suffering even if death may be hastened as a result. Where the infant could be saved but the future outlook is bleak there is more debate, but only two countries have tested the courts with such cases. When it comes to the active intentional ending of life, the legal position is standard across Europe; it is prohibited. However, recognising those intractable situations where death may be lingering and unpleasant, Dutch paediatricians have reported that they do sometimes assist babies to die with parental consent. Two cases have been tried through the courts and recent official recommendations have set out standards by which such actions may be assessed. (shrink)
This paper develops an account of scientific objectivity for a relativist theory of evidence. It briefly reviews the character and shortcomings of empiricist and wholist treatments of theory acceptance and objectivity and argues that the relativist account of evidence developed by the author in an earlier essay offers a more satisfactory framework within which to approach questions of justification and intertheoretic comparison. The difficulty with relativism is that it seems to eliminate objectivity from scientific method. Reconceiving objectivity as a function (...) of the social character of science, rather than of individually practiced methods, allows us to claim that science is objective even if relativism is true, and provides a more realistic account of scientific objectivity than is possible on either the empiricist or the wholist accounts. (shrink)
A certain familiar but “deep” joke, which might be called “The Tattletale’s Paradox,” embodies a logical confusion that figures crucially in some discussions of substantive philosophical issues. “I can’t tell you the secret,” it runs, “because if I did it wouldn’t be a secret.” It is easy enough to detect the trick involved here: to tell a secret is not to make known a piece of information that is a secret at the time that it is revealed, but rather to (...) tell a story which was a secret but ceases to be one in the telling. The air of paradox arises insofar as we confuse the two claims. (shrink)
Pursuant to the Doctrine of Consumer Sovereignty, we believe that tobacco companies should be compelled to disclose their ingredients so that the public health community can make more informed recommendations in order to protect consumer autonomy and sovereignty. However, a recent decision by the First Circuit precludes such a disclosure since it would be unduly burdensome to the industry, while granting only minimal gains to the public. We argue that many of the Court’s key claims rest on a misunderstanding of (...) the science and chemistry of tobacco products. In our view, a mandatory disclosure of ingredients would more effectively protect the public interest, whilst posing minimal burdens on the tobacco industry. (shrink)
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