The apparent tension between the moral codes of the Old and New Testaments constitutes a perennial problem for Christian ethics. Scholars who have taken this problem seriously have often done so in ways that presume sharp discontinuity between the Testaments. They then proceed to devise a system for identifying what is or is not relevant today, or what pertains to this or that particular social sphere. John Howard Yoder brings fresh perspectives to this perennial problem by refuting the presumption (...) of intratestamental discontinuity. Throughout multiple scattered works on the Old Testament, Yoder offers a coherent and provocative narration that culminates in the way of Christ and establishes the ethical continuity of the entire biblical canon. This essay presents the basic parameters of Yoder's Old Testament narration, suggests points where revision is needed, and highlights several implications for social ethics. (shrink)
Despite there being deep lines of convergence between the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead, C. S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and other classical American philosophers, it remains an open question whether Whitehead is a pragmatist, and conversation between pragmatists and Whitehead scholars have been limited. Indeed, it is difficult to find an anthology of classical American philosophy that includes Whitehead’s writings. These camps began separately, and so they remain. This volume questions the wisdom of that separation, exploring their (...) connections, both historical and in application. The essays in this volume embody original and creative work by leading scholars that not only furthers the understanding of American philosophy, but seeks to advance it by working at the intersection of experience and reality to incite novel and creative thought. This exploration is long overdue. Specific questions that are addressed are: Is Whitehead a pragmatist? What contrasts and affinities exist between American pragmatism and Whitehead’s thought? What new questions, strategies, and critiques emerge by juxtaposing their distinct perspectives? -/- . (shrink)
John C. Fletcher, a pioneer in the field of bioethics and friend and mentor to many generations of bioethicists, died tragically on May 27th at the age of 72. The son of an Episcopal priest from Bryan, TX, Fletcher graduated in 1953 with a degree in English Literature from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. After completing a Masters in Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary and a stint as a Fulbright scholar at the University of (...) Heidelberg in 1956, he was ordained in the Episcopal Church and received a doctorate in Christian ethics from the Union Theological Seminary in New York. After ordination, Fletcher worked in various Episcopal churches and founded the Interfaith Metropolitan Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. However, despite his religious faith, he was also a skeptic, and renounced his ordination in the mid-1990s due to his need for ?intellectual honesty.? Fletcher began his bioethics contributions in the early 1970's, when he became a founding Fellow of the Hastings Center and eventually the first Chief of the Bioethics Program at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health. At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he was the Founding Director of the Center for Bioethics and a professor of biomedical ethics at the medical school, and became the Kornfeld Professor of Biomedical Ethics until his retirement in 1999. Fletcher was a prominent authority and voice in the national and international bioethical dialogue through his talks, his testimonies before scientific and congressional panels, his many articles, and his bioethical and religiously-orientated books, including: An Introduction to Clinical Ethics (1997), Coping with Genetic Disorders: a Guide for Clergy and Parents (1982), Ethics and Human Genetics: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (1989), which he wrote with sociologist Dorothy C. Wertz. Dr. Fletcher received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities in 2000. With the passing of Dr. John C. Fletcher, bioethics has lost one of its great voices, a dedicated teacher and mentor, and a friend and colleague to scholars in bioethics and a host of other fields. Below is a touching tribute from one of his former students. (shrink)
Utilitarianism and the Concept of Social Utility In this paper I propose to discuss the concepts of equality and justice from a rule utilitarian point of view, after some comments on the rule utilitarian point of view itself. Let me start with the standard definitions. Act utilitarianism is the theory that a morally right action is one that in the existing situation will produce the highest expected social utility. In contrast, rule utilitarianism is the theory that a morally right action (...) is simply an action conforming to the correct moral rule applicable to the existing situation. The correct moral rule itself is that particular behavioral rule that would yield the highest expected social utility if it were followed by all morally motivated people in all similar situations. (shrink)
Philosophical errors are errors of a very peculiar nature. Obviously, errors occur in the different areas of science, as well as in everyday life. But these errors are sooner or later recognized and exposed, and – most importantly – once they are recognized and exposed, they are essentially rendered harmless, at least for those versed in the respective discipline. A false historical datum, an experimental error or a calculation mistake becomes indefensible as soon as it is noticed.
No point of John C.Calhoun's political thought has been more disputed than exactly where it is situated in the theoretical landscape. Calhoun has been treated as the �Marx of the master class� by Richard Hofstadter; a �reactionary conservative� arguing eclectically from liberal premises by Louis Hartz; an authentic conservative by Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter and August Spain; and a precursor to the pluralist vision of politics by Peter Drucker. Two of the most engaging treatments of Calhoun's thought are Darryl (...) Baskin's and Peter Steinberger's, both of relatively recent vintage. Baskin argues that despite Calhoun's use of vocabulary borrowed from organic conservatism he is essentially a classical liberal and, as such, is engaged in the typically liberal �flight from community�. He has no true notion of civic virtue and his concept of the public interest is only a mechanistic sum of private interests. Steinberger agrees that Calhoun is a liberal, but argues that his contribution to American liberalism is precisely to sublate selfishness to an authentic civic virtue. These disputes are interesting, but I suggest that in the efforts to contain Calhoun within the conservative/liberal scheme of categorization some of the subtlety of his thought is lost. Too often an appreciation of his thought is sacrificed to an underlying agenda of attacking or defending one ideology or another. In the present critique I attempt to recover some insights that have been submerged in other treatments. Calhoun's constitutional theory of concurrent majoritarianism, rather than his liberal or conservative bent, is the focal point of sections III and IV. I argue that Calhoun's theory exposes -- sometimes unwittingly -- the stern limits of what constitutions can accomplish. In section V I suggest that insofar as Calhoun is generally a liberal (as Hartz, Baskin and Steinberger contend) an internal contradiction within his theory points to a paradox at the very heart of liberalism. (shrink)
This paper analyzes S. Weir Mitchell and his son John Kearsley Mitchell’s views on phantom limb pain in late 19th c. America. Drawing on a variety of primary sources including journal articles, letters, and treatises, the paper pioneers analysis of a cache of surveys sent out by the Mitchells that contain amputee Civil War veterans’ own narratives of phantom limb pain. The paper utilizes an approach drawn from the history of ideas, documenting how changing models of medicine and objectivity (...) help explain the Mitchells’s attitudes, practices, and beliefs regarding the enigma of phantom limb pain as experienced by their patients. The paper also assesses concerns over malingering, pain, authenticity, and deception through these intellectual frameworks of somaticism and mechanical objectivity. The paper concludes that much of relevance to the ways in which the Mitchells and other late 19th c. neurologists regarded and treated their patients’ pain is explicable in terms of the larger intellectual frameworks that structured these healers’ ideas about lesionless pain. (shrink)