Although the view that punishment is to be justified on utilitarian grounds has obvious appeal, an examination of utilitarianism reveals that, consistently and accurately interpreted, it dictates unjust punishments which are unacceptable to the common moral consciousness. In this rule?utilitarianism is no more satisfactory than is act?utilitarianism. Although the production of the greatest good, or the greatest happiness, of the greatest number is obviously a relevant consideration when determining which punishments may properly be inflicted, the question as to which punishment (...) is just is a distinct and more basic question and one which must be answered before we can determine which punishments are morally permissible. That a retributivist theory, which is a particular application of a general principle of justice, can account more satisfactorily for our notion of justice in punishment is a positive reason in its support. (shrink)
In Section I, the purely conceptual issue as to whether animals other than human beings, all or some, may possess rights is examined. This is approached via a consideration of the concept of a moral right, and by way of examining the claims of sentience, consciousness, capacities for pleasure and pain, having desires, possessing interests, self-consciousness, rationality in various senses. It is argued that only beings possessed actually or potentially of the capacity to be morally self-determining can be possessors of (...) rights. In Section II, normative questions concerning the rights animals might possess if they were to be capable of possessing rights are discussed. The approach followed is that of considering the kinds of argument advanced in support of human rights, and whether these arguments, and the rights they are claimed to establish, are transferable to animals, and whether there are or might be specifically animal rights. In Section III the question of what is or could be the goal of one who recognizes and seeks to respect all rights, animal and human, is raised. In particular, the issue as to whether a goal of maximizing the satisfaction of rights could remain a coherent one if animal rights are acknowledged, is explored. (shrink)
The right to privacy is one of the rights most widely demanded today. Privacy has not always so been demanded. The reasons for the present concern for privacy are complex and obscure. They obviously relate both to the possibilities for very considerable enjoyment of privacy by the bulk of people living in affluent societies brought about by twentieth-century affluence, and to the development of very efficient methods of thoroughly and systematically invading this newly found privacy. However, interesting and important as (...) it is as a socio-philosophical inquiry, the concern of this paper is not with why privacy has come to be so highly prized, but rather with whether it is rightly prized, and if so, when and why. This means that my concern will be with what privacy is, what is its domain, whether there is a right to privacy, and, if so, whether it is an ultimate, basic, albeit, a prima facie right, or simply a conditional right. (shrink)
This article discusses the nature of euthanasia, and the way in which redevelopment of the concept of euthanasia in some influential recent philosophical writing has led to morally less discriminating killing/letting die/not saving being misdescribed as euthanasia. Peter Singer's defence of non-voluntary ‘euthanasia’of defective infants in his influential book Practical Ethics is critically evaluated. We argue that Singer's pseudo-euthanasia arguments in Practical Ethics are unsatisfactory as approaches to determining the legitimacy of killing, and that these arguments present a total utilitarian (...) improvement policy—not a case for non-voluntary euthanasia. (shrink)
The moral case for experimentation on animals rests both on the goods to be realized, the evils to be avoided thereby, and on the duty to respect persons and to secure them in the enjoyment of their natural moral rights. Some experimentation on animals presents no problems of justification as it involves no harm at all to the animals which are the subject of experiments and is such as to seek to achieve an advance in knowledge. Experiments on non-sentient animals, (...) like those on plant life, may harm the subjects but in ways that in themselves need raise no morally significant issues. Moral issues may arise if the subjects of experiments are members of an endangered species and for like reasons but not simply on account of the harm caused by the experiment to the subjects. Other experimentation on animals is to be justified solely in terms of its benefit to animals, even though it involves harm to the animals upon which experiments are performed. There are many poisons and diseases to which animals and not human beings are exposed which give rise to the need for experiments to determine effective therapies, treatments, or other remedies. Examples include annual rye grass toxicity, foot-and-mouth disease, the many fowl diseases, and so on. Human beings commonly have an interest in successfully experimenting to find effective remedies, either a financial interest as with farm animals, race horses and the like, amusement interest as with pets, or a concern not to have a species or variety become extinct. The moral case for such experiments may be strengthened by reference to such interests if they in turn have a moral basis, but generally it does not depend for its validity on this. Other experimentation that harms the animals involved is to be justified in terms of the benefits to be realized and evils lessened for persons by the knowledge and the use of the knowledge gained, where the knowledge is used to secure the enjoyment of their moral rights by persons. Much experimentation benefits both persons, contributing to the securing of their enjoyment of their moral rights, and animals which do not possess moral rights, and is to be morally justified on both counts. Obviously a great amount of experimentation occurs today which does not admit of justification along any of these lines, and hence, is such that it must be condemned as being morally wrong. (shrink)
The first section restates and elaborates on my argument in "rights," "philosophical quarterly", 1965, Arguing that rights are not explicable as claims, Powers, Expectations, Liberties. Equally, Statements about rights, Often being logically prior to such statements, Are not reducible to such statements. In section two, This claim is supported by reference to distinctions it is vital to draw between rights, Which do not parallel those to be drawn between kinds of duties. We need to distinguish "real" rights which may be (...) partially or completely unfulfillable, "conditional" rights which, If morally unfulfillable, Cease to be rights at all, And "prima facie" rights proper which are always rights, Basic, Ultimate, Rights, Whether or not it is physically or morally possible fully to acknowledge them. In section three, The ultimate basis of rights is examined. It is argued that for any moral right to exist, Some right(s) must be intrinsic to a possessor, And hence based on what he is and what he can become. (shrink)
Liberalism is commonly believed, especially by its exponents, to be opposed to interference by way of enforcing value judgments or concerning itself with the individual's morality. My concern is to show that this is not so and that liberalism is all the better for this. Many elements have contributed to liberal thought as we know it today, the major elements being the liberalism of which Locke is the most celebrated exponent, which is based upon a belief in natural, human rights; (...) the liberalism of which Kant is the best known exponent, which is based on respect for persons as ends in themselves; and the liberalism of Bentham and the Mills, which is based upon utilitarian ethical theories and most especially with concern for pleasure and the reduction of pain. These different elements of liberalism have led to different emphases and different political and social arrangements, but all have involved a concern to safeguard values and to use force to that end. Today they constitute strands of thought which go to make up liberal thought as we now know it, hence it is not simply a historical fact about liberalism, but a fact about its philosophical basis, that liberalism is firmly involved in certain value and moral commitments. In the remainder of this paper I shall seek to bring this out. (shrink)
IT IS ARGUED THAT LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS DOES NOT DEAL WITH\nTHE PROBLEM OF UNIVERSALS IN A SATISFACTORY WAY. THE\nCONTRIBUTIONS OF RYLE, WITTGENSTEIN AND PEARS ARE\nCONSIDERED. IT IS HELD THAT THE PROBLEM OF UNIVERSALS IS A\nGENUINE METAPHYSICAL PROBLEM AND DOES NOT ADMIT OF BEING\nDISPOSED OF BY CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS. MOREOVER, THE FAILURE\nOF ATTEMPTS BY LINGUISTIC ANALYSTS HERE MUST CAST DOUBT ON\nTHE SOUNDNESS OF THEIR BOLD ANTIMETAPHYSICAL CLAIMS. IT IS\nCONCLUDED THAT THE PROBLEM OF UNIVERSALS IS NOT PRIMARILY\nONE OF NAMING, BUT RATHER OF RESEMBLANCES. (STAFF).
The concept of prima facie duty is deemed important by ross and the author. The author thinks ross and others have not elucidated the concept and the relation between prima facie and 'absolute' duty. He concludes that "we must explain the obligatoriness of absolute duties in terms of prima facie duties, As being derived from them, And not vice versa, As ross attempted." (staff).
The problem posed in this paper is 'Can those interferences with liberty of expression which are necessary and desirable be indicated in some simple, general way, e.g. in terms of some principle or principles of the kinds with which J. S. Mill sought to delimit the interferences with freedom of action?' It is argued that although J. S. Mill sought to defend 'the fullest freedom of expression', he in fact allowed important interferences of kinds which render the formulation of a (...) principle covering them difficult. Further, it is maintained that the important liberal arguments advanced by the great exponents of liberalism are such that they admit as being necessary, legitimate, and desirable, a wide range and variety of interferences, where these interferences are such that they must be determined in the light of the facts in the concrete situation and not on the basis of some general principle. (shrink)
In the area of politics one is not surprised to encounter bias, prejudice, rationalization, special pleading; yet rarely does one encounter these phenomena so often, so blatantly, as in the area relating to equality. Indeed, even among those whose job it is to be impartial, rational, informed, namely, philosophers, one finds less objectivity, less evidence of a genuine search for the truth, and a greater concern to press preconceived views than elsewhere in their work. Among Western philosophers, there is a (...) very widespread commitment to equality as a political value. So deep has been and is the commitment in theory at least, to this value, that concern for knowledge and truth have been subordinated to it by many — as in the refusal to allow or determination to discourage research into racial differences, for fear that the results of such research may lead to a lesser political commitment to equality. Yet, for all this professed concern for equality, a genuine lover of equality could be excused for being perplexed by the attitudes of those who profess such a concern for equality. (shrink)
Many, including some celebrated liberal theorists, defend liberty on empirical, prudential, utilitarian grounds such that if practical considerations or changed circumstances were to make intolerance more useful than tolerance, they would be committed to a policy of intolerance. Their theories are therefore liberal only contingently. They cannot be denied the title "liberal," for, apart from historical usage, a theory is liberal if it proceeds on the basis of a high evaluation of liberty whether or not the evaluation rests purely on (...) contingent facts. Other liberals defend liberty for its own sake as well as for its utility, and argue that the sole function of the state consists in preserving or promoting liberty. Other theorists stress liberty as the supreme good but take note of the relevance and importance of other goods, e.g., happiness, justice, well-being, fraternity. They too, because of their stress on liberty, and because they include some of the most celebrated exponents of liberalism, must be included as liberals. (shrink)
Has a moral agent really done his duty when he has done what he wronglybelieves to be his duty? Is it right to act in accord with one's beliefs, even when they are mistaken? Or are we always obliged to perform that act which is objectively obligatory? In some such ways as these the problem as to whether one's ‘objective duty’ or one's ‘subjective duty’ is one's real duty has been posed. It might be argued that the objective view is (...) plainly right and that there appears to be a problem only because moral language is here being misused; that the problem is seen to be no problem once we accurately and fully describe acts based on erroneous beliefs. But this is like arguing that there is no problem as to whether the killing of innocent persons is intrinsically wrong, since we can describe each act involving killing in a long-hand way which circumvents the problem concerning the principle. (shrink)
In this Paper I am concerned to argue that the traditionally and contemporarily important arguments for a liberal society do provide a justification for what may fairly be called a liberal society. However, many liberals may wish to deny that the society which these arguments are seen to justify when their various limitations and qualifications are noted, can properly be called liberal, for it is less committed to non-interference with liberty than is the liberal society which those who advance these (...) arguments believe to be justified by them. (shrink)
The three works to be examined here are concerned in their various ways with the rationality of ethics. Baier is concerned almost exclusively with bringing out the rationality of ethics, and in the process develops a new/old ethical theory. Ginsberg's concern with "the rational ethic" is rather subsidiary to his main themes, namely the unsoundness of cultural relativism and the truth concerning the relevance of the findings of sociology and other social sciences to ethics. Mackinnon is largely concerned with the (...) meta-ethical problem of the "different styles of reasoning" in ethics, and hence with the problem of the inter-relation of ethics and metaphysics on various levels, logical, historical and psychological. (shrink)