This collection of essays, offered in honor of the distinguished career of prominent political philosophy professor Clifford Orwin, brings together internationally renowned scholars to provide a wide context and discuss various aspects of the virtue of “humanity” through the history of political philosophy.
The author offers a defense for elective death on utilitarian grounds, but one that is presented specifically from the perspective of someone who: 1) faces a potentially terminal illness and diminishing quality of life; 2) views death as nothing more than a return to prenatal nonbeing; and 3) maintains common humanist ethical commitments. The argument, then, is uniquely situated and limited in scope, rooted both in the particulars of his recent experience with a rheumatic autoimmune illness and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as (...) well as in a worldview shaped largely by emerging narratives in the sciences. Drawing upon the work of J.S. Mill and P. Singer, the author begins by assuming that one is generally free to act on a preference for nonbeing so long as others are not unduly harmed or thwarted in pursuing their own aims as a result. But a humanist, he suggests, ideally ought to press beyond this minimum criterion and do one’s best to maximize eudaimonia by carefully weighing how elective death would likely affect others to whom one is currently obligated in significant ways. The focus of one’s ethical reasoning, then, should remain on maximizing well-being and minimizing harm, not on creating a logical flawless and internally coherent defense that may satisfy a set of abstract or universally applicable criteria drawn up by others in an effort to define precisely what might render a given suicide “rational” or “morally permissible.”. (shrink)
In contrast to many traditional theologies, today’s progressive theologies offer believers an attractive ethic that is humane, pacific, and Earth-centered. And when God is spoken of, he is generally portrayed as non-coercive, deeply invested in the well-being of all, and attentive to the cries of any who suffer. On the one hand, then, humanists have good reason to celebrate this recent shift in thinking about the sacred and divine-human relations. Indeed, we share with progressive Christians a very similar set of (...) core moral values. But, are progressive theologies really any more persuasive than earlier conceptions of the sacred? Do they offer better evidence for their claims? It is argued here that most all suffer from unresolved and rather serious epistemic issues that ultimately undermine their plausibility – and, therefore, their future viability. (shrink)
Metzger continues the effort started in _A Cloud Across the Pacific_ by viewing modern Chinese thought as political philosophy; placing it in a sociological context, noting its causal relationship with paideia; examining its historical context by emphasizing the lines of continuity with the Confucian tradition; and exploring its comparative context by describing it as sharing an agenda with and diverging from the leading forms of Western liberalism. East and West, he argues, are ivory towers that use their rationalistic philosophies (...) to insist that the great disasters of history are caused mainly by the bad decisions of political leaders, instead of seeing how their own philosophical discourses lend credibility to these decisions and trying to improve these discourses by uncovering their culturally inherited premises. In an increasingly democratic era when political philosophy is no longer viable as a theory of global-political evolution and as public criticism increasingly affects leadership decisions, Metzger seeks to vindicate a neo-Hegelian definition of political philosophy as the effort to influence public criticism by advertising an outlook more logically and thoroughly supported by a variety of cross-cultural textual evidence. (shrink)
This paper identifies cultural disenchantment as a crucial concept in Rorty's understanding of liberalism, and considers how Rorty's use of this term draws on but also differs from similar ideas in Nietzsche and Weber. It argues that Rorty's notion of disenchantment complements his Darwinian view of human nature and his conception of the self as a centerless web of beliefs and desires. These three principal ideas form the basis of Rorty's novel theoretical approach to liberal democracy and of his belief (...) in its ability to sustain itself without its traditional rationalist justifications. (shrink)
There is little information about the content of ethics consultations in pediatrics. We sought to describe the reasons for consultation and ethical principles addressed during EC in pediatrics through retrospective review and directed content analysis of EC records at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Patient-based EC were highly complex and often involved evaluation of parental decision making, particularly consideration of the risks and benefits of a proposed medical intervention, and the physician's fiduciary responsibility to the patient. Nonpatient consultations provided guidance (...) in the development of institutional policies that would broadly affect patients and families. This is one of the few existing reviews of the content of pediatric EC and indicates that the distribution of ethical issues and reasons for moral distress are different than with adults. Pediatric EC often facilitates complex decision making among multiple stakeholders, and further prospective research is need.. (shrink)
This article is a précis of the book, Living well now and in the future: Why sustainability matters. It provides an overview of the book, focusing especially on its conceptualization of the nature and normative dimensions of sustainability. The latter include its formulation of an ethic of sustainability and eudaimonic theory of justice. Some central claims are that the fundamental normative concern of sustainability is the long-term preservation of opportunity to live well, and that the conceptualization of preservation of opportunity (...) should be focused on the satisfaction of basic psychological needs associated with fulfillment of potential. (shrink)
Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics identifies the virtues with the traits the fully virtuous person possesses. Further, it depicts the fully virtuous person as having all the cognitive perfections necessary for possessing practical wisdom. This paper argues that these two theses disqualify faith as trust, as construed on contemporary accounts of faith, as a virtue. For faith’s role as a virtue depends on limitations of its possessor that are incompatible with the psychological profile of the fully virtuous person on the neo-Aristotelian picture. (...) I argue that because of tensions internal to the standard neo-Aristotelian view and the compelling arguments in recent literature that faith is a virtue, the neo-Aristotelian has good reason to revise her account of virtue and picture of the fully virtuous person. (shrink)
This research examines in a collectivist culture the influence of cognitive moral development, attitudes toward rule-directed behavior,and the perceived importance of codes of conduct and professional standards on auditor judgments about ethical dilemmas. Taiwanese audit professionals were asked to respond to two ethical dilemmas. The first dilemma concerns a situation in which the auditor is asked to acquiesce to a controller’s request to conceal an irregularity. The probability that the auditor’s acquiescence is discovered was manipulated in this scenario. The second (...) dilemma involves a case in which the auditor has information that a write-down of obsolete inventory will have a material effect on the earnings of a corporation, and must considerwhether or not to inform an individual who is heavily invested in the corporation. The individual’s ingroup status was manipulated in this scenario.Auditors were more likely to agree with violations of ethical standards in the first scenario than in the second . In the first scenario, auditors with lower levels of cognitive moral development were less likely to agree with violations of ethical standards when the threat of a sanction was present, while the judgments of those with higher levels of cognitive moral development were not affected by the presence of sanctions. Contrary to expectations, auditors were more likely to agree with violations of ethical standards when the individual involved was a close friend, rather than a relative. In general, as the perceived importance of rules increased, the propensity to violate the Code of Conduct decreased. (shrink)
This research examines in a collectivist culture the influence of cognitive moral development, attitudes toward rule-directed behavior,and the perceived importance of codes of conduct and professional standards on auditor judgments about ethical dilemmas. Taiwanese audit professionals were asked to respond to two ethical dilemmas. The first dilemma concerns a situation in which the auditor is asked to acquiesce to a controller’s request to conceal an irregularity. The probability that the auditor’s acquiescence is discovered (i.e., the threat of a sanction) was (...) manipulated in this scenario. The second dilemma involves a case in which the auditor has information that a write-down of obsolete inventory will have a material effect on the earnings of a corporation, and must considerwhether or not to inform an individual who is heavily invested in the corporation. The individual’s ingroup status (i.e., whether the individual was a relative or friend of the auditor) was manipulated in this scenario.Auditors were more likely to agree with violations of ethical standards in the first scenario (concealing a client employee’s irregularity)than in the second (revealing confidential information to parties outside the client). In the first scenario, auditors with lower levels of cognitive moral development were less likely to agree with violations of ethical standards when the threat of a sanction was present, while the judgments of those with higher levels of cognitive moral development were not affected by the presence of sanctions. Contrary to expectations, auditors were more likely to agree with violations of ethical standards when the individual involved was a close friend, rather than a relative. In general, as the perceived importance of rules increased, the propensity to violate the Code of Conduct decreased. (shrink)
According to the Conscience Principle, it is never morally permissible to act contrary to conscience. The plausibility of this being a genuine moral principle depends on what conscience is, whether it can be mistaken, and what its role is in general moral psychology. Thomas Aquinas endorses and defends a unique version of the Conscience Principle. What’s especially interesting about his unorthodox (for his time) view on conscience is that it seems to split the difference between the views we might expect (...) to support the Conscience Principle: On the one hand, thoroughgoing subjectivism on which all moral facts and obligations are a function of agents’ mental states, and on the other hand, objectivist intuitionism on which there is an external moral law but a faculty of conscience gives us inerrant access to it. Aquinas claims that there are objective moral truths, that conscience fallibly represents those truths, and yet, conscience always generates moral obligations, whether it is correct or incorrect. Aquinas’s view will strike many initially as puzzling, perhaps even incoherent. To make sense of it, we must understand that for Aquinas the Conscience Principle is not just one moral principle among many; instead, it falls out of a novel and philosophically powerful metaethical view of moral obligations (or what we might call requiring moral reasons). (shrink)
This essay is a critical review of two recent collections, Feminism and Foucauk: Reflections on Resistance, edited by Irene Diamond and Lee Quinby and Feminism as Critique: On the Politics of Gender, edited by Seyla Benhabib and Drucilla Cornell. While the collections differ in their manner of addressing the critical sources that have inspired them—the former relying upon a single theorist, the latter attempting to move through some of the philosophical history that constitutes our present theoretical terrain—both attempt to think (...) through and thus revisudize some of the categories of difference which we have inherited. Though the best essays from these collections are celebrated for demonstrating how “feminism as critique” can work to move us toward a clearer and more inclusive feminist theory, questions are raised about what the inattention to race in these volumes suggests about our own role in the construction of power and knowledge, and the erasures that help to secure them both. (shrink)
This paper describes an innovative 2 weeks module for medical students facilitated by drama educators and a palliative medicine doctor. The module incorporates drama, end-of-life care, teamwork and reflective practice. The module contents, practical aspects of drama teaching and learning outcomes are discussed. Various themes emerged from a study of Harold Pinter's play, The Caretaker, which were relevant to clinical practice: silence, power, communication, uncertainty and unanswered questions. Drama teaching may be one way of enhancing students’ confidence, increasing self- awareness, (...) developing ethical thinking and fostering teamworking. (shrink)
What is this "same thing" which Socrates is always repeating "in the same words"? What impels him "to search into himself and other men", a pursuit, which according to the Apology, he considers his sole vocation?
Isaac Levi and I have different views of probability and decision making. Here, without addressing the merits, I will try to answer some questions recently asked by Levi (1985) about what my view is, and how it relates to his.
"To some people, life is very simple . . . no shadings and grays, all blacks and whites. . . . Now, others of us find that good, bad, right, wrong, are many-sided, complex things. We try to see every side; but the more we see, the less sure we are.".