According to current definitions of civil disobedience, drawn from the work of John Rawls and Carl Cohen, eco-saboteurs are not civil disobedients because their disobedience is not a form of address and/or does not appeal to the public's sense of justice or human welfare. But this definition also excludes disobedience by a wide range of groups, from labor activists to hunt saboteurs, either because they are obstructionist or because they address moral concerns other than justice or the public weal. However (...) earlier definitions of civil disobedience were not so narrow. I review the development of the current definition and the circumstances of its acceptance. I argue that the circumstances which help to explain the attractiveness of the Rawls/Cohen formulations in the 1970s are no longer applicable and that the question of civil disobedience should be revisited. I suggest a wider definition according to which at least some types of eco-sabotage would be civil disobedience. (shrink)
Scientific cognitivists argue formalist aesthetics of nature are (i) inadequate for appreciating the full range of nature’s aesthetic values and (ii) too subjective to be useful for defending nature conservation. I argue that (i) is false because moderate formalists can appreciate nature for its performances, not merely objects and vistas. I argue (ii) is false because moderate formalists can argue that appreciation of beauty (including natural beauty) is a constitutive good of human flourishing, whose realization relies on access to a (...) rich and diverse array of aesthetically rewarding experiences throughout a lifetime. On these grounds, moderate formalists (among others) can justify conserving distinctive natural entities and environs for our own and future generations’ good. (shrink)
What virtues do good stewards typically have and can these virtues move people to be good stewards of nature? Why focus on the virtues of stewards rather than on trying to construct and defend morally obligatory rules to govern human behavior? I argue that benevolence and loyalty are crucial for good stewardship and these virtues can and do motivate people to act as good stewards of nature. Moreover,since it is a matter of dispute whether rational considerations can move us to (...) perform a given act in the absence of disposition to do so, I argue we should try to determine which moral dispositions (if any) will motivate people to be concerned for the environment so that the development of environmentally sensitive character may be encouraged. (shrink)
Public recognition of the fragility of the natural systems on which present and future generations depend has prompted calls for the practice of environmental stewardship —calls widely criticised in the environmental ethics literature. Some argue that stewardship 's historical associations entail that it is inherently sexist, speciesist and/or anthropocentric. Others argue that absent belief in a creator to appoint us as stewards and hold us accountable, talk of 'environmental stewardship ' is empty. I review the concept's recent evolution and provide (...) a tentative definition. I argue that so defined, it is not vulnerable to standard criticisms, but is instead a promising way of construing morally decent conduct towards the environment. (shrink)
William James's 'The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of sug gesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics con tinue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" con fuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs-not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of abandoning (...) them. I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended pro vided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (includ ing wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
This collection provides readings from five classic thinkers with importantly distinct approaches to virtue theory, along with five new essays from contemporary thinkers that apply virtue theories to the resolution of practical moral problems. Jennifer Welchman's Introduction discusses the history of virtue theory. A short introduction to each reading highlights the distinctive aspects of the view expressed.
This article considers the claims (i) that saving human life through organ transplants from other species would be speciesist, (ii) that none the less it can be defended on grounds of loyalty to our species. I reject loyalty to one's species as a plausible extension of the virtue of loyalty, suggesting that solidarity with one's species is possible and may provide adequate grounds of defense of xenografting.
Professions have traditionally treated advocacy as a collective duty, best assigned to professional associations to perform. In North American nursing, advocacy for issues affecting identifiable patients is assigned instead to their nurses. We argue that nursing associations’ withdrawal from advocacy for patient care issues is detrimental to nurses and patients alike. Most nurses work in large institutions whose internal policies they cannot influence. When these create obstacles to good care, the inability of nurses to affect change can result in avoidable (...) distress for them and for their patients. We illustrate this point with a case study: the circumstances of the death of Michael Joseph LeBlanc, an inmate at Kingston Penitentiary Regional Hospital (Ontario). We conclude that patients and their nurses will suffer unnecessarily unless or until nursing associations cease to burden individual nurses with the responsibility for patient advocacy. (shrink)
Hume’s readers love to hate the Sensible Knave. But hating the Knave is like hating a messenger with bad tidings. The message is that there is a gap, on Hume’s account, between our motivations and our obligations to just action. But it isn’t the Knave’s character that is to blame, for the same gap will be found if we turn our attention to alter egos, such as Robin Hood, the benevolent “Prince of Thieves.” Replacing self-interest with benevolence not only does (...) not make the gap go away, it makes it harder to bridge. Of thetwo, it is benevolence, not self-interest, that actually poses the more serous challenge to Hume’s account of justice. (shrink)
Genetically modified food crops have been called ‘frankenfoods’ since 1992. Although some might dismiss the phenomena as clever marketing by anti-GM groups, of no philosophic interest, its resonance with the general public suggests otherwise. I argue that examination of the intersection of popular conceptions of monsters, nature, and food at which ‘frankenfood’ stands reveals significant and disturbing trends in our relationship to organic nature of interest to moral and social philosophy and to environmental ethics.
Does Leopold’s land ethic principle represent a break with traditional We stern moral philosophies as some have argued? Or is it instead an extension of traditional Western moral ideas as Leopold believed? I argue that Leopold’s principle is compatible with an ecologically-informed Kantianism.
Norton argues on pragmatic “Deweyan” grounds that we should cease to ask scientists for value neutral definitions of “sustainability,” developed independently of moral and social values, to guide our environmental policy making debates. “Sustainability,” like human “health,” is a normative concept from the start—one that cannot be meaningfully developed by scientists or economists without input by all the stake holders affected. While I endorse Norton’s approach, I question his apparent presumption that concern for sustainability for the future is at odds (...) with and ought to trump concern for enhancement in the present of public opportunities to access the goods nature represents. I argue that the two are not separable in practice. I argue for Passmore’s position that unless we take care to enhance equitable access to the good and services nature represents in the present, we cannot succeed in promoting sustainability for future generations. (shrink)
Natural Goodness is an important new book from Phillippa Foot, a central figure in the revival of ethical naturalism and character-based ethics. A longstanding critic of the emotivist and prescriptivist theories that arose following twentieth-century analytic philosophy’s linguistic turn, Foot attacked reigning versions of noncognitivism according to which moral language and judgment made no meaningful claims about moral agents or their actions but were instead misleading expressions of a speaker’s attitudes. In classic papers such as “Moral Beliefs,” “Virtues and Vices,” (...) and “Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives”, she argued that such accounts misrepresented both the content of moral evaluation and its use. The “logical grammar” of moral evaluation did not support claims that it referred primarily to internal states of particular moral agents. On the contrary, usage indicates that our evaluative judgments are offered and understood as making confirmable claims about the sort of character and lives we have reason to try to achieve. Her new book develops and extends her earlier critical work with a new account of practical rationality and its relation to human good that is meant to show how we can go from descriptive generalizations about human life or flourishing to action-guiding prescriptions that we have reason to adopt even at the cost of substantial personal sacrifice. (shrink)
How should we define liberty or social freedom? Which obstacles constitute constraints? Is poverty one? By what method of conceptual analysis can a definition of social freedom best be generated? These and related questions form the subject matter of Kristjánsson’s interesting critical review of so-called “responsibility” accounts of social freedom. Together with his critical exegesis of rival views, Kristjánnson explains and defends his own “responsibility view.”.
John Dewey began his career as an absolute idealist, holding that the universe is a construct of an absolute mind in which human minds participate; human ideas are true when they reproduce the absolute's ideas; and human conduct is right when it realizes the absolute's goals for human progress. Twenty years later Dewey had abandoned idealism for instrumentalism, asserting that ideas are instruments for the manipulation of human experience and that conduct is right when it generates a satisfactory relationship between (...) agents and their environments. However, scholars disagree about when, why, and how this transformation of Dewey's thought occurred. I review the development of Dewey's moral epistemology from 1884 to 1908 to answer these questions. ;In chapters I and II, I examine the sources and nature of Dewey's early idealism, relating it to the views of contemporary idealists such as T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley, G. S. Morris, and to the views of A. Comte. By the latter Dewey was inspired to seek a reconciliation of physical science and morals, despite the reservations of his fellow idealists. In Chapters III and IV, I discuss Dewey's first two ethics texts , each an attempt to overcome idealist objections to reconciling ethics and science. Both were critical failures, forcing Dewey to rethink his position. In chapter V, I argue that collaboration with experimental psychologists at the University of Chicago transformed Dewey's understanding of science. He then came to see scientific ideas and principles as instruments for manipulating human experience and, gradually, all ideas in the same light. By 1902, Dewey had abandoned his earlier idealist notions for instrumentalism and begun to construct new arguments for reconciling science and ethics. In chapters VI and VII, I explicate and defend the reconciliation Dewey achieved through use of his new instrumentalist moral epistemology in his 1908 Ethics. (shrink)
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