James P. Sterba offers something that philosophers have long sought: an argument showing that morality is rationally required. Furthermore he argues that morality requires substantial equality. Even libertarian perspectives, which would seem to require minimal enforcement of morality, are shown to lead to a requirement of equality.
I begin with an account of what is deserved in human ethics, an ethics that assumes without argument that only humans, or rational agents, count morally. I then take up the question of whether nonhuman living beings are also deserving and answer it in the affirmative. Having established that all individual living beings, as well as ecosystems, are deserving, I go on to establish what it is that they deserve and then compare the requirements of global justice when only humans (...) are taken into account with the requirements of global justice when all living beings are taken into account. (shrink)
In this introduction, I summarize the main themes of my book, particularly those that my critics have focused on in their papers that follow. I also argue that I could not have reached the conclusions that I have if I hadn’t employed a peacemaking rather than a warmaking way of doing philosophy. I provide a characterization of a peacemaking way of doing philosophy and show how the conclusions of my book depend on doing philosophy in that way.
In this unique work, James P. Sterba argues that traditional ethics has yet to confront the three significant challenges posed by environmentalism, feminism, and multiculturalism. He maintains that while traditional ethics has been quite successful at dealing with the problems it faces, it has not addressed the possibility that its solutions to these problems are biased in favor of humans, men, and Western culture. In Three Challenges to Ethics: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Multiculturalism, Sterba examines each of these challenges. In the (...) case of environmentalism, he argues that traditional ethics must incorporate conflict resolution principles that favor nonhumans over humans in a significant range of cases. In terms of feminism, he maintains that traditional ethics should rule out gendered family structures and implement an ideal of androgyny. In regard to multiculturalism, he contends that traditional ethics must endorse an ethics that is secular in character and that can survive an extensive comparative evaluation of both Western and non-Western moral ideals and cultures. The only textbook devoted to this topic, Three Challenges to Ethics is an engaging text for introductory courses in ethics and moral problems and is also interesting and provocative reading for scholars and general readers. (shrink)
This book combines the two most common approaches used to introduce students or general readers to ethics: the historical and the applied. Using these approaches, Sterba examines traditional ethical theories and disagreements, exploring Aristotelian, Kantian, and utilitarian ethics, as well as their contemporary defenders. But rather than focusing on formal aspects of these views, Sterba applies the best practical arguments from each of these perspectives to a variety of moral problems, such as sexual harassment, affirmative action, and international terrorism and (...) the second Iraqi war. (shrink)
As with the first edition, Utilitarian, Kantian, and Aristotelian viewpoints are all well represented here, and this second edition features updated sections throughout—including eighteen new readings—and an entirely new section on multiculturalism. Presents students with a unique focus on three main challenges to ethics: feminism, environmentalism, and multiculturalism Pedagogical focus on the 'big questions' motivates student interest Collects readings on all key traditional theoretical and practical questions in ethics.
Feminism was born in controversy and it continues to flourish in controversy. The distinguished contributors to this volume provide an array of perspectives on issues including: universal values, justice and care, a feminist philosophy of science, and the relationship of biology to social theory.
Drawing on and inspired by Paul Taylor’s Respect for Nature, I develop a view which I call “biocentric pluralism,” which, I claim, avoids the major criticisms that have been directed at Taylor’s account. In addition, I show that biocentric pluralism has certain advantages over biocentric utilitarianism (VanDeVeer) and concentric circle theories (Wenz and Callicott).
This book conveys the breadth and interconnectedness of questions of justice - a rarity in contemporary moral and political philosophy. James P. Sterba argues that a minimal notion of rationality requires morality, and that a minimal libertarian morality requires the welfare and equal opportunity endorsee by welfare liberals and the equality endorsed by socialists, as well as a full feminist agenda. Feminist, racial, homosexual, and multicultural justice, are also shown to be mutually supporting. The author further shows the compatibility between (...) anthropocentric and biocentric environmental ethics, as between just war and pacifist theories. Finally, he spells out when normal politics, legal protest, civil disobedience, revolutionary action, and criminal disobedience are morally permitted by justice for here and now. This highly original and potentially controversial book is ideal for courses in moral and political philosophy, applied ethics, women's studies, environmental studies, and peace studies. (shrink)
Charles Darwin questions whether conflicts between species palpably captured by the conflict between Ichneumonidae and the caterpillars on which they prey could be compatible with the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God. He also questioned whether the suffering of millions of lower animals throughout our almost endless prehistory could be compatible with an all-good, all-powerful God. In this paper, I show that these two problems of natural evil that Darwin raised in his work can be resolved so as to present (...) no objection to theism once it is recognized what the moral principles are that should govern our relationship to the natural world and analogously should govern God’s relationship to the natural world. (shrink)
Philosophers who hold that religious considerations should play some role in public debate over fundamental issues have criticized Rawls’s ideal of public reason for being too restrictive in generally ruling out such considerations. In response, Rawls has modified his ideal so as to explicitly allow a role for religious considerations in public debate (others, such as Robert Audi, have also offered accounts of public reason along similar lines). Nevertheless, some critics of Rawls’s ideal of public reason, such as Nicholas Wolterstorff, (...) remain unsatisfied. In this paper, I will argue that once Rawls’s ideal of public reason is correctly interpreted, it will be possible to reconcile that ideal with much of the role its critics want religion to have in public debate. (shrink)
As one of the most important ethicists to emerge since the Second World War, Alan Gewirth continues to influence philosophical debates concerning morality. In this ground-breaking book, Gewirth's neo-Kantianism, and the communitarian problems discussed, form a dialogue on the foundation of moral theory. Themes of agent-centered constraints, the formal structure of theories, and the relationship between freedom and duty are examined along with such new perspectives as feminism, the Stoics, and Sartre. Gewirth offers a picture of the philosopher's theory and (...) its applications, providing a richer, more complete critical assessement than any which has occurred to date. (shrink)
Drawing on and inspired by Paul Taylor’s Respect for Nature, I develop a view which I call “biocentric pluralism,” which, I claim, avoids the major criticisms that have been directed at Taylor’s account. In addition, I show that biocentric pluralism has certain advantages over biocentric utilitarianism and concentric circle theories.
Biocentrists are criticized (1) for being biased in favor of the human species, (2) for basing their view on an ecology that is now widely challenged, and (3) for failing to reasonably distinguish the life that they claim has intrinsic value from the animate and inanimate things that they claim lack intrinsic value. In this paper, I show how biocentrism can be defended against these three criticisms, thus permitting biocentrists to justifiably appropriate the salutation, “Let the life force (or better (...) the ethical demands of life) be with you.”. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that even a libertarian ideal of liberty, which initially seems opposed to welfare rights, can be seen to require a right to a basic needs minimum that extends to distant peoples and future generations and is conditional upon the poor doing whatever they reasonably can to meet their own basic needs, including bringing their population growth under control. Given that, as I have argued elsewhere, welfare liberal, socialist, communitarian and feminist political ideals can be easily (...) seen to support this same right to a basic needs minimum, showing how a libertarian ideal of liberty supports the right should go a long way toward solving the problem of what all people, whether near or distant, present or future, deserve, which is the basic problem of global justice. (shrink)
I propose to show that when the most morally defensible versions of an anthropocentric environmental ethics and a nonanthropocentric ethics are laid out, they would lead us to accept the same principles of environmental justice.
Are the political ideals of liberty and equality compatible? This question is of central and continuing importance in political philosophy, moral philosophy, and welfare economics. In this book, two distinguished philosophers take up the debate. Jan Narveson argues that a political ideal of negative liberty is incompatible with any substantive ideal of equality, while James P. Sterba argues that Narveson's own ideal of negative liberty is compatible, and in fact leads to the requirements of a substantive ideal of equality. Of (...) course, they cannot both be right. Thus, the details of their arguments about the political ideal of negative liberty and its requirements will determine which of them is right. Engagingly and accessibly written, their debate will be of value to all who are interested in the central issue of what are the practical requirements of a political ideal of liberty. (shrink)