A number of health care professionals assert a right to be exempt from performing some actions currently designated as part of their standard professional responsibilities. Most advocates claim that they should be excused from these duties simply by averring that they are conscientiously opposed to performing them. They believe that they need not explain or justify their decisions to anyone; nor should they suffer any undesirable consequences of such refusal. Those who claim this right err by blurring or conflating three (...) issues about the nature and role of conscience, and its significance in determining what other people should permit them to do (or not do). Many who criticize those asserting an exemption conflate the same questions and blur the same distinctions, if not expressly, by failing to acknowledge that sometimes a morally serious agent should not do what she might otherwise be expected to do. Neither side seems to acknowledge that in some cases both claims are true: a conscientious professional should not do her professional duty AND others need not permit or excuse her refusal. I identify these conflations and specify conditions in which a professional might reasonably refuse to do what she is required to do. Then I identify conditions in which the public should exempt a professional from some of her responsibilities. I argue that professionals should refuse far less often than most advocates do . . . and that they should be even less frequently exempt for that failure. Finally, there are compelling reasons why we could not implement a consistent moral policy giving advocates what they want, likely not even in qualified form. (shrink)
We think about personal relationships in two distinct ways. The first focuses on relationships between blood relatives: parents and their children, siblings, and perhaps first cousins. The second focuses on intimacy: relationships where each individual is honest to and trusting of the other; each cares for the other and seeks the other’s company. In this article I ask how these two conceptions are, can be, or should be linked. Should we strive to make all relationships with kin intimate? Even if (...) the answer is a qualified “No,” does that mean relationships with kin are not valuable? I offer some tentative answers to these questions. Despite its limitations, I hope this provides a framework from which future exploration of these issues might profitably begin. (shrink)
A growing number of medical professionals claim a right of conscience, a right to refuse to perform any professional duty they deem immoral—and to do so with impunity. We argue that professionals do not have the unqualified right of conscience. At most they have a highly qualified right. We focus on the claims of pharmacists, since they are the professionals most commonly claiming this right.
Many of us assume we must either oppose or support gun control. Not so. We have a range of alternatives. Even this way of speaking oversimplifies our choices since there are two distinct scales on which to place alternatives. One scale concerns the degree (if at all) to which guns should be abolished. This scale moves from those who want no abolition (NA) of any guns, through those who want moderate abolition (MA) - to forbid access to some subclasses of (...) guns - to those who want absolute abolition (AA). The second scale concerns the restrictions (if any) on those guns that are available to private citizens. This scale moves from those who want absolute restrictions (AR) through those who want moderate restrictions (MR) to those who want no restrictions (NR) at all. Restrictions vary not only in strength but also in content. We could restrict who owns guns, how they obtain them, where and how they store them, and where and how they can carry them. (shrink)
Our actions, individually and collectively, inevitably affect others, ourselves, and our institutions. They shape the people we become and the kind of world we inhabit. Sometimes those consequences are positive, a giant leap for moral humankind. Other times they are morally regressive. This propensity of current actions to shape the future is morally important. But slippery slope arguments are a poor way to capture it. That is not to say we can never develop cogent slippery slope arguments. Nonetheless, given their (...) most common usage, it would be prudent to avoid them in moral and political debate. They are often fallacious and have often been used for ill. They are normally used to defend the moral status quo. Even when they are cogent, we can always find an alternate way to capture their insights. Finally, by accepting that the moral roads on which we travel are slippery, we become better able to successfully navigate them. (shrink)
In this essay I shall argue that the state should require all parents to be licensed. My main goal is to demonstrate that the licensing of parents is theoretically desirable, though I shall also argue that a workable and just licensing program actually could be established.
Although systems for licensing professionals are far from perfect, and their problems and costs should not be ignored, they are justified as a necessary means of protecting innocent people's vital interests. Licensing defends patients from inept doctors, pharmacists, and physical therapists; it protects clients from unqualified lawyers. We should protect people who are highly vulnerable to those who are supposed to serve them, those with whom they have a special relationship. Requiring professionals to be licensed is the most plausible way (...) of doing that. Given the overwhelming support for the licensing of these professionals, I find it odd that so many people categorically reject proposals to license parents. Although the relationship between a parent and her children is different in some respects, it is also relevantly similar to that between a professional and those she serves. To defend these claims, I show how and why the rationale for licensing parents parallels the rational for licensing professionals. I then ask whether such a program could be justifiably implemented. Finally, I describe and reject what I see as the flawed view of the relationship between parents and their children. (shrink)
Biomedical researchers claim there is significant biomedical information about humans which can be discovered only through experiments on intact animal systems (AMA p. 2). Although epidemiological studies, computer simulations, clinical investigation, and cell and tissue cultures have become important weapons in the biomedical scientists' arsenal, these are primarily "adjuncts to the use of animals in research" (Sigma Xi p. 76). Controlled laboratory experiments are the core of the scientific enterprise. Biomedical researchers claim these should be conducted on intact biological systems, (...) whole animals. By observing the effects of various stimuli in non-human animals, we can form legitimate expectations about the likely effects of these stimuli in humans. Perhaps more importantly, we can understand the biomedical condition's causal mechanisms. (shrink)
Ethical relativism is the thesis that ethical principles or judgments are relative to the individual or culture. When stated so vaguely relativism is embraced by numerous lay persons and a sizeable contingent of philosophers. Other philosophers, however, find the thesis patently false, even wonder how anyone could seriously entertain it. Both factions are on to something, yet both miss something significant as well. Those who whole-heartedly embrace relativism note salient respects in which ethics is relative, yet erroneously infer that ethical (...) values are noxiously subjective. Those who reject relativism do so because they think ethics is subject to rational scrutiny, that moral views can be correct or incorrect. But in rejecting objectionable features of relativism they overlook significant yet non-pernicious ways in which ethics is relative. (shrink)
History teems with instances of “man’s inhumanity to man.” Some wrongs are perpetrated by individuals; most ghastly evils were committed by groups or nations. Other horrific evils were established and sustained by legal systems and supported by cultural mores. This demands explanation. I describe and evaluate four common explanations of evil before discussing more mundane and psychologically informed explanations of wrong-doing. Examining these latter forms helps isolate an additional factor which, if acknowledged, empowers us to diagnose, cope with, and prevent (...) many ordinary and serious moral wrongs. In so doing, I do not assert that the explanations of first call are never appropriate. I claim only that their role is smaller than many of us reflexively suppose, and that the role of the later feature I identify is more significant, in part, because it supports and amplifies the more mundane and psychologically informed factors prompting wrong-doing. (shrink)
When most people think of legal punishment, they envision a judge or jury convicting a person for a crime, and then sentencing that person in accordance with clearly prescribed penalties, as specified in the criminal law. The person serves the sentence, is released (perhaps a bit early for A good behavior"), and then welcomed back into society as a full-functioning member, adorned with all the rights and responsibilities of ordinary citizens.
When theorists have studied humor, they often assumed that laughter was either a necessary or a sufficient condition of humor. It is neither. Although humorous events usually evoke laughter, they do not do so invariably. Humor may evoke smiles or smirks which fall short of laughter. Thus it is not a necessary condition. Nor is it a sufficient condition. People may laugh because they are uncomfortable (nervous laughter), they may laugh at someone (derisive laughter), they may laugh because they are (...) insane or mentally imbalanced (hysterical laughter), or they may laugh because they are physiologically induced to do so (as when someone tickles them relentlessly). Perhaps these other forms of laughter are philosophically interesting, but they are not forms of humor and so are beyond the reach of this essay. (shrink)
Claude Bernard, the father of scientific physiology, believed that if medicine was to become truly scientiifc, it would have to be based on rigorous and controlled animal experiments. Bernard instituted a paradigm which has shaped physiological practice for most of the twentieth century. ln this paper we examine how Bernards commitment to hypothetico-deductivism and determinism led to (a) his rejection of the theory of evolution; (b) his minima/ization of the role of clinical medicine and epidemiological studies; and (c) his conclusion (...) that experiments on nonhuman animals were, "entirely conclusive for the toxicology and hygiene of man". We examine some negative consequences of Bernardianism for twentieth century medicine, and argue that physio/ogy's continued adherence to Bernardianism has caused it to diverge from the other biological sciences which have become increasingly infused with evolutionary theory. (shrink)
Current profess ional and la y lore ove rlook the ro le of hone sty in develop ing and s ustaining intimate relationships. We w ish to ass ert its importa nce. W e begin b y analyz ing the no tion of intimac y. An intim ate encounter or exchange, we argue, is one in which one verbally or non-verbally privately reveals something about oneself, and does so in a sensitive, trusting way. An intimate relationship is one marked by (...) regular intimate encounters or excha nges. Then, we co nsider two sorts of cases wh ere it is widely thought permissible, if not lauda tory, to lie to one 's intimates. In discrediting these presumably central cases of justified dishonesty, we put forward general considerations requiring hones ty. We e nd by s ugges ting how 'meta honesty'--hone sty about one's own efforts at communication, including one's efforts to be honest--is particularly important in intimate relationships. (shrink)
Throughout this book, I made frequent reference to a wide range of moral issues: honesty, jealousy, sexual fidelity, commitment, paternalism, caring, etc. This suggests there is an intricate connection between morality and personal relationships. There is. Of course personal relationships do not always promote moral values, nor do people find all relationships salutary. Some friendships, marriages, and kin relationships are anything but healthy or valuable. We all know (and perhaps are in) some relationships which hinder personal growth, undermine moral values, (...) and diminish both parties' happiness -- in short, relationships which systematically undermine the values they should promote. (shrink)
Anti-vivisectionists charge that animal experimenters are speciesists people who unjustly discriminate against members of other species. Until recently most defenders of experimentation denied the charge. After the publication of `The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research' in the New England Journal of Medicine , experimenters had a more aggressive reply: `I am a speciesist. Speciesism is not merely plausible, it is essential for right conduct...'1. Most researchers now embrace Cohen's response as part of their defense of animal (...) experimentation. Cohen asserts that both rights and utilitarian arguments against the use of animals in research fail because they `refuse to recognize the moral differences among species'.2 If we appreciate the profound differences between humans and non-human animals, he says, we would understand why animals do not and could not have rights and why animal pain does not have as much moral weight as human pain. Animal liberationists think speciesism is immoral because they mistakenly equate it with racism and sexism. Cohen claims this equation is `unsound', `atrocious', `utterly specious', and `morally offensive'. Doubtless Cohen is right that the charge of speciesism is founded on an analogy with racism and sexism. He is mistaken, however, in asserting that the comparison is categorically illicit. (shrink)
For many people the idea that children are autonomous agents whose autonomy the parents should respect and the state should protect is laughable. For them, such an idea is the offspring of idle academics who never had, or at least never seriously interacted with, children. Autonomy is the province of full fledged rational adults, not immature children. It is easy to see why many people embrace this view. Very young children do not have the experience or knowledge to make informed (...) decisions about matters of momentous significance. However, from this fact many people infer (or talk as if they infer) that all children are helpless moppets, wholly incapable of making any informed decisions. (shrink)
"Ah, for the good old days, when men were men and women were women." Men who express such sentiments long for the world where homosexuals were ensconced in their closets and women were sexy, demure, and subservient. That is a world well lost -- though not as lost as I would like. More than a few men still practice misogyny and homophobia. The defects of such attitudes are obvious. My concern here is not to document these defects but to ask (...) how real men, men who reject stereotypical male-female roles -- men who are sensitive to the insights of feminism -- should relate with women. In particular, how should men and women relate in intimate, sexually oriented, i.e., "romantic," relationships. (shrink)
Mother Teresa spends her life caring for the poor and the infirm; J. Paul Getty, Jr., spends his life making investments and directing corporations. Although we might be unhappy doing what they do, we assume they are satisfied. Mother Teresa enjoys her work and would be miserable if she had to mastermind corporate takeovers. Getty would be wretched if he had to care for lepers or become a lawn chair salesman.
Pragmatism is a philosophical movement developed near the turn of the century in the of several prominent American philosophers, most notably, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Although many contemporary analytic philosophers never studied American Philosophy in graduate schoo l, analytic philosophy has been significantly shaped by philosophers strongly influenced by that tradition, most especially W. V. Quine, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty. Like other philosophical movements, it developed in response to the then-dominant philosophical wisdom. What (...) unified pragmatism was its rejection of certain epistemological assumptions about the nature of truth, objectivity, and rationality. The rejection of these assumptions springs from the pragmatist's belief that practice is primary in philosophy. Meaningful inquiry originates in practice. Theorizing is valuable, for sure, but its value arises practice, is informed by practice, and, its proper aim is to clarify, coordinate, and inform practice. Theorizing divorced practice is useless. Pragmatism is at once both familiar and radical. Familiar in that it often begins with rather ordinary views; radical in that it often sees in those views insights that philosophers and lay people miss or misunderstand. A pragmatic ethic employs criteria without being criterial. It is objective without being absolutist. It acknowledges that ethical judgements are relative, without being relativistic. And it tolerates - indeed, welcomes some moral differences, without being irresolute. Precisely what each of these means, and why pragmatists hold them, emerges throughout this paper. I begin with the first since it sets the stage for introducing other pivotal pragmatic ideas. Ethical theorizing begins when we think about how we ought to live. Many people assume that means we must look for moral criteria: some list of rules or principles whereby we can distinguish good from bad and right wrong, or a list of virtues we try to inculcate.. (shrink)
Biomedical experimentation on animals is justified, researchers say, because of its enormous benefits to human being. Sure an imals die a nd suffer , but that is m orally insignificant since the benefits of research incalculably outweigh the evils. Although this utilitarian claim appears straightforward and uncontroversial, it is neither straightforw ard n ot uncontroversial. This defense of animal experimentation is like ly to succeed only by rejecting three widely held moral presumptions. W e identify those presumptions and explain their (...) relevance to the justification of animal experimentation. We argue that even if non-human animals have con side rable less moral worth than humans, experimentation is justified only if its benefits are overwhelming. By building on arguments offered in earlier papers, we show that research ers c ann ot substantiate their claims of behalf of animal research. We conclude that there is currently no acceptable utilitarian defense of animal experimentation. Moreover, it is unlikely that they could be one. Since most apologists of animal experimentation rely on utilitarian justifications of their practice, it appears that biomedical experimentation on animals is not morally justified. (shrink)
By some estimates one-third of American corporations now require their employees to be tested for drug u se. The se requ iremen ts are com patible with general employment law while prom oting the public's in terest in figh ting drug use. Mo reover , the Unite d State s Supreme Court has ruled that drug tes ting prog rams a re cons titutionally p ermiss ible within both the public and the private sectors. It appears m andatory drug tes (...) ting is a permanent fixture of American corporate life. (Bakaly, C. G., Grossman, J. M. 1989) The legal roots of m anda tory drug testing are found in the com mon la w doctrin e of "employment at will." That doctrine states that either party to an employment contract can termina te the contract for any reason, at any time, unless the contract specifies otherwise. As the Court h eld in Adair v. United States (208 U.S. 161, 175-6, 1908), the employer "was at liberty, in his d iscretion , to discha rge [the e mploy ee] from service w ithout givin g any reason for so do ing." In unqualified form, this doctrine would give employers effective control over employees. Employers could establish any requirements they wished for prospective and current employees. Not only could they decline to hire employees who will refuse drug tests, they could likewise decline to hire people with characteristics, beliefs, or behavior they dislike. Employees must endure these requirements or seek emplo yment elsewhere. However, since m ost peo ple hav e limited job opp ortunities , they will be forced to "a ccept" these require ments , no ma tter how objection able. Courts and legislatures have since recognized the abuses this 283 284 Drugs, Morality, and the Law.. (shrink)
Children are the real victims of world hunger: at least 70% of the malnourished people of the world are children. By best estimates forty thousand children a day die of starvation (FAO 1989: 5). Children do not have the ability to forage for themselves, and their nutritional needs are exceptionally high. Hence, they are unable to survive for long on their own, especially in lean times. Moreover, they are especially susceptible to diseases and conditions which are the staple of undernourished (...) people: simple infections and simple diarrhea (UNICEF 1993: 22). Unless others provide adequate food, water, and care, children will suffer and die (WHO 1974: 677, 679). This fact must frame any moral discussions of the problem. And so it does — at least pre-philosophically. When most of us first see pictures of seriously undernourished children, we want to help them, we have a sense of responsibility to them, we feel sympathy toward them (Hume 1978: 368-71). Even those who think we needn't or shouldn't help the starving take this initial response seriously: they go to great pains to show that this sympathetic response should be constrained. They typically claim that assisting the hungry will demand too much of us, or that assistance would be useless and probably detrimental. The efforts of objectors to undermine this natural sympathetic reaction would be pointless unless they saw its psychological force. We want to explain and bolster this sympathetic reaction — this conviction that those of us in a position to help are responsible to the.. (shrink)
Wheeler, Stark, and Stell have raised many interesting points concerning gun control that merit extended treatment. Here, however, I will focus only on two. I will then briefly expand on the proposal I offered in the original paper.
In a number of recent federal court cases parents have sought to have their children exempted from certain school activities on the grounds that the children's participation in those activities violates their (the parents') right to freedom of religion. In Mozert v. Hawkin's County Public Schools (827 F. 2nd 1058) fundamentalist parents of several Tennessee public school children brought civil action against the school board for violating their constitutional right of freedom of religion. These parents sought to prevent their children (...) from exposure to beliefs or practices opposed to their (the parents') religious convictions. They claim that elementary school readers introduce ideas repugnant to their and their children's deeply held religious tenets. (shrink)
Taxing the income of some people to provide goods or services to others, even those with urgent needs, is unjust. It is a violation of the wage earner's rights, a restriction of his freedom. At least that is what the libertarian tells us. I disagree. Not all redistribution of income is unjust; or so I shall argue.
The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics is a lively and authoritative guide to current thought about ethical issues in all areas of human activity--personal, medical, sexual, social, political, judicial, and international, from the natural world to the world of business. Twenty-eight topics are covered in specially written surveys by leading figures in their fields: each gives an authoritative map of the ethical terrain, explaining how the debate has developed in recent years, engaging critically with the most notable work in the (...) area, and pointing directions for future work. The Handbook will be essential reading, and a fascinating resource of ideas and information, for academics and students across a wide range of disciplines. (shrink)
Book Information The Moral and Political Status of Children. The Moral and Political Status of Children David Archard , Colin M. Macleod , eds. , Oxford and New York : Oxford University Press , 2002 , viii + 296 , US$60 (cloth). Edited by David Archard; , Colin M. Macleod; , eds.. Oxford University Press. Oxford and New York. Pp. viii + 296. US$60 (cloth).
W e are watching television, and an advertisement for UNICEF, OXFAM, or the Christian Children’s Fund interrupts our favorite show. We grab our remotes and quickly flip to another channel. Perhaps we mosey to the kitchen for a snack. Maybe we just sit, trying not to watch. These machinations may banish these haunting images of destitute, starving children from our TVs and our thoughts, but they do not alter the brutal facts: millions of people in the world are undernourished; thousands (...) die each day; most of those who suffer and die are children, and, with collective effort we could end the suffering of millions without too much strain. At the same time, many of us talk as if we were nearly indigent. Relative to the rich in our society we may be financially strapped. But relative to most citizens of the world, we are awash with money. Given that, what, if anything, should we do, individually or collectively, to alleviate their suffering and save their lives? Most of us interpret this as asking: should we be charitable, and, if so, how charitable? That seems to be the guiding premise of organizations who implore us to send money: they tell us to open our hearts, to be generous, to give of ourselves, to help those in need. The character of their appeal reveals just how pervasive the “charity view” is. W e think that although it would be nice of us to assist the starving, none of us is morally required to assist them—that we have done nothing (very) wrong if we ignore those strangers in need. Indeed, most people assume that if we help, then we are moral heros. (shrink)
Building on the strengths of the highly successful first edition, the extensively updated _Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory_ presents a complete state-of-the-art survey, written by an international team of leading moral philosophers. __ A new edition of this successful and highly regarded _Guide_, now reorganized and updated with the addition of significant new material Includes 21 essays written by an international team of leading philosophers Extensive, substantive essays develop the main arguments of all the leading viewpoints in ethical theory Essays (...) new to this edition cover evolution and ethics, capability ethics, virtues and consequences, and the implausibility of virtue ethics. (shrink)
Are there limits on how human beings can legitimately treat non-human animals? Or can we treat them just any way we please? If there are limits, what are they? Are they sufficiently strong, as some people supp ose, to lead us to be vegetarians and to seriously curtail, if not eliminate, our use of non-human animals in `scientific' experiments designed to benefit us? To fully appreciate this question let me contrast it with two different ones: Are there limits on how (...) we can legitimately treat rocks? And: are there limits on how we can legitima tely treat other human beings? The an swer to th e first ques tion is pre suma bly `No.' Well, that's not q uite right. There are som e limits on what w e can le gitimate ly do with or to rocks. If Paula has a pet rock, then Susan can't justifiably take it away or smash it with a sledge hammer. After all it is Paula's rock. (shrink)
Whenever two people have a close relationship, one or both of them may occasionally become jealous. Jealousy can occur in any type of relationship, although it is more frequent and typically more potent between lovers. Hence, I shall begin by discussing jealousy among lovers. Later I will show how that account is also applicable to other close personal relationships.
Contractarianism, as a general approach to moral and political thought, has had a long and distinguished history -- its roots are easily traced as far back as Plato's Republic, where Glaucon advanced it as a view of justice, and its influential representatives include Pufendorf, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, and Kant. In various ways, to various purposes, and against the background of various assumptions, each of these philosophers offered contractarian arguments for the views they defended. What binds the tradition together, in (...) the face of this variety, is the conviction that moral norms or political institutions find legitimacy, when they do, in their ability to secure (under the appropriate conditions) the agreement of those to whom they apply. (shrink)
Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind seeks to explain why it is difficult for liberals and conservatives to get along. His aim is not just explanatory but also prescriptive. Once we understand that the differences between disputants spring from distinct moral views held by equally sincere people, then we will no longer have reason for deep political animus. Conservatives and Liberals have distinct moral views and they understand human nature differently. He claims that these differences are best understood by consulting an (...) array of psychological studies, key genetic findings, and the theoretical underpinnings of sociobiology. After summarizing his arguments, we isolate and discuss the three most important and contentious issues in his book. We argue that although the project's motivation is noble and some of his findings are insightful, his key explanations, inferences, and prescriptions are wanting. We end by suggesting a way he could defend a weaker version of his view. (shrink)