In the last two decades, interest in narrative conceptions of identity has grown exponentially, though there is little agreement about what a "life-narrative" might be. In connecting Kierkegaard with virtue ethics, several scholars have recently argued that narrative models of selves and MacIntyre's concept of the unity of a life help make sense of Kierkegaard's existential stages and, in particular, explain the transition from "aesthetic" to "ethical" modes of life. But others have recently raised difficult questions both for these readings (...) of Kierkegaard and for narrative accounts of identity that draw on the work of MacIntyre in general. While some of these objections concern a strong kind of unity or "wholeheartedness" among an agent's long-term goals or cares, the fundamental objection raised by critics is that personal identity cannot _be_ a narrative, since stories are artifacts made by persons. In this book, Davenport defends the narrative approach to practical identity and autonomy in general, and to Kierkegaard's stages in particular. (shrink)
This article evaluates Emmanuel Levinas's novel "ethical metaphysics" of interpersonal relations from a religious perspective. Levinas presents a unique version of agape ethics that can be evaluated in terms of a number of the dilemmas that have traditionally attended Christian discussions of neighbor-love. Because Levinas's analysis makes our responsibility for other persons depend on their eschatological significance, it has the same problems that hamper all theories of neighbor-love that lack a sufficient role for reciprocity.
The primary purpose of government is to secure public goods that cannot be achieved by free markets. The Coordination Principle tells us to consolidate sovereign power in a single institution to overcome collective action problems that otherwise prevent secure provision of the relevant public goods. There are several public goods that require such coordination at the global level, chief among them being basic human rights. The claim that human rights require global coordination is supported in three main steps. First, I (...) consider Pogge's and Habermas's analyses as alternatives to Hobbesian conceptions of justice. Second, I consider the core conventions of international law, which are in tension with the primacy of state sovereignty in the UN system. Third, I argue that the just war tradition does not limit just causes for war to self-defense; it supports saving innocent third parties from crimes against humanity as a just reason for war. While classical authors focused less on this issue, the point is especially clear in twentieth-century just war theories, such as those offered by the American Catholic bishops, Jean Elshtain, Brian Orend, and Michael Walzer. Against Walzer, I argue that we add intractable military tyranny to the list of horrors meriting intervention if other ad bellum conditions are met. But these results require us to reexamine the "just authority" of first resort to govern such interventions. The Coordination Principle implies that we should create a transnational federation with consolidated powers in place of a treaty organization requiring near-unanimity. But to be legitimate, such a global institution must also be directly answerable to the citizens of its member states. While the UN Security Council is inadequate on both counts, a federation of democracies with a directly elected executive and legislature could meet both conditions. (shrink)
I have argued that like Harry Frankfurt, Augustine implicitly distinguishes between first-order desires and higher-order volitions; yet unlike Frankfurt, Augustineheld that the liberty to form different possible volitional identifications is essential to responsibility for our character. Like Frankfurt, Augustine recognizes that we can sometimes be responsible for the desires on which we act without being able to do or desire otherwise; but for Augustine, this is true only because such responsibility for inevitable desires and actions traces to responsibility for our (...) volitional identifications, which in turn has leeway-libertarianconditions. However, David Hunt has interpreted Augustine’s account of divine foreknowledge as implying a type of source-incompatibilism that does not require alternative possible actions or intentions. Moreover, while Eleonore Stump’s account of Augustine on sanctification supports my interpretation, Augustine’s position on predestination in his latest writings may be incompatible with liberty of the higher-order will. I will argue against Hunt’s interpretation but admit that the leeway-libertarian has to reject the ‘no autonomy’ model in some of Augustine’s late writings. (shrink)
In contemporary philosophy, the will is often regarded as a sheer philosophical fiction. In Will as Commitment and Resolve , Davenport argues not only that the will is the central power of human agency that makes decisions and forms intentions but also that it includes the capacity to generate new motivation different in structure from prepurposive desires. The concept of "projective motivation" is the central innovation in Davenport's existential account of the everyday notion of striving will. Beginning with the contrast (...) between "eastern" and "western" attitudes toward assertive willing, Davenport traces the lineage of the idea of projective motivation from NeoPlatonic and Christian conceptions of divine motivation to Scotus, Kant, Marx, Arendt, and Levinas. Rich with historical detail, this book includes an extended examination of Platonic and Aristotelian eudaimonist theories of human motivation. Drawing on contemporary critiques of egoism, Davenport argues that happiness is primarily a byproduct of activities and pursuits aimed at other agent-transcending goods for their own sake. In particular, the motives involved in virtue and in its practice as understood by Alasdair MacIntyre are projective rather than eudaimonist. This theory is supported by analyses of radical evil, accounts of intrinsic motivation in existential psychology, and contemporary theories of identity-forming commitment in analytic moral psychology. Following Viktor Frankl, Joseph Raz, and others, Davenport argues that Harry Frankfurt's conception of caring requires objective values worth caring about, which serve as rational grounds for projecting new final ends. The argument concludes with a taxonomy of values or goods, devotion to which can make life meaningful for us. (shrink)
There is a single unified conception of religious faith in Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and Concluding Unscientific Postscript: existential faith is absolute trust in an eschatological promise, i.e. a miraculous realization of ethical ideals that is beyond all human power to accomplish or even predict. Faith in this sense has the precondition of "infinite resignation," which is a purified state of ethical willing in which the agent accepts her/his own inability to actualize the ethical, outwardly or inwardly. This condition is (...) explored extensively by Climacus in this discussion of "existential pathos," which shows why the resigned agent has to trust in an absolute source of eschatological possibilities to guarantee the ultimate meaningfulness of his/her ethical striving. The distinction between Religiousness A and B, along with different senses of "the absurd" and "the absolute paradox" can all be explained in terms of different kinds of eschatological possibility. /// Segundo o autor do artigo, há uma única concepção do religioso presente nas obras Temor e Tremor e Postscript Conclusivo e Não-Científico de Søren Kierkegaard, concepção essa fundada na ideia de que a fé existencial consiste numa confiança absoluta na promessa escatológica, ou seja, numa realização miraculosa de ideais éticos que estão para além de todo e qualquer poder humano de os realizar ou mesmo sequer de os antecipar. Neste sentido, a fé tem como condição prévia a "resignação infinita", a qual consiste num estado purificado de vontade ética em que o agente aceita a sua própria incapacidade de actualizar o ético, seja isso de forma exterior ou interior. Esta condição é extensivamente explorada por Climacus na sua discussão do "pathos existencial", o qual mostra precisamente por que razão o agente resignado tem que confiar numa fonte absoluta de possibilidades escatológicas em ordem a poder fazer face ao mais radical sem-sentido inerente ao seu processo de actualização do ético. Assim, o artigo pretende mostrar até que ponto a distinção kierkegaardiana entre Religiosidade A e B, bem como os diferentes sentidos do "absurdo" e do "paradoxo absolute" podem ser explicados em termos dos diferentes tipos de possibilidade escatológica que o pensamento pode identificar. (shrink)
Readers familiar with Harry Frankfurt’s argument that we do not need leeway-liberty (or the power to bring about alternative possible actions or intentions) to be morally responsible will probably also know that the most famous and popular response on behalf of leeway-libertarianism remains a dilemma posed in similar forms by David Widerker, Robert Kane, and Carl Ginet: either the agent retains significant residual leeway in Frankfurt-style cases, or these cases beg the question by presupposing causal determinism. In the last few (...) years, there have been several different attempts to defend Frankfurtian critiques of PAP in response this dilemma. In a novel approach, Derk Pereboom and Michael McKenna present cases in which all deliberatively relevant or “robust” alternatives are blocked, but the agent’s act or decision is not determined. Pereboom and McKenna argue that any plausible leeway-condition on responsibility must characterize the required alternatives as robust in two ways: being voluntary performances and having a practical relevance accessible to the agent’s mind. I agree with the requirement of robustness, and argue that we can build this notion into a complex concept of agent-possibility, or “agentive-can.” However, I argue that both McKenna’s and Pereboom’s conceptions of robustness are too demanding: they exclude alternatives that are intuitively relevant. Moreover, I argue that the alternative of refraining from deciding, or voluntarily failing to decide, is robust in the right sense. In agreement with a tradition running from Ockham back through Scotus to Aquinas, I argue that this robust alternative is necessary for responsibility. If the Frankfurt-controller eliminates it, then the agent’s responsibility is undermined. In particular, I argue that Pereboom’s tax evasion cases do not refute this leeway-condition on moral responsibility. (shrink)
This essay argues that Mark C. Murphy's original contribution to natural law ethics succeeds in finding a way between older metaphysical and newer purely practical approaches in this genre. Murphy's reconstruction of the function argument, critique of subjectivist theories of well-being, and rigorous formulation of a flexible welfarist theory of value deserve careful attention. I defend Kant against Murphy's critique and argue that Murphy faces the problem of showing that all his basic goods are morally inviolable. Although I endorse Murphy's (...) critique of radical virtue ethics, I raise objections to the basic moral norms he derives from his list of goods, and to the analysis of peace of mind and happiness as basic goods. (shrink)
I have argued that like Harry Frankfurt, Augustine implicitly distinguishes between first-order desires and higher-order volitions; yet unlike Frankfurt, Augustineheld that the liberty to form different possible volitional identifications is essential to responsibility for our character. Like Frankfurt, Augustine recognizes that we can sometimes be responsible for the desires on which we act without being able to do or desire otherwise; but for Augustine, this is true only because such responsibility for inevitable desires and actions traces (at least in part) (...) to responsibility for our volitional identifications, which in turn has leeway-libertarianconditions. However, David Hunt has interpreted Augustine’s account of divine foreknowledge as implying a type of source-incompatibilism that does not require alternative possible actions or intentions. Moreover, while Eleonore Stump’s account of Augustine on sanctification supports my interpretation, Augustine’s position on predestination in his latest writings may be incompatible with liberty of the higher-order will. I will argue against Hunt’s interpretation but admit that the leeway-libertarian has to reject the ‘no autonomy’ model in some of Augustine’s late writings. (shrink)
Today, any credible philosophical attempt to discuss personhood must take some position on the proper relation between the philosophical analysis of topics like action, intention, emotion, normative and evaluate judgment, desire and mood --which are grouped together under the heading of `moral psychology'-- and the usually quite different approaches to ostensibly the same phenomena in contemporary theoretical psychology and psychoanalytic practice. The gulf between these two domains is so deep that influential work in each takes no direct account of developments (...) in the other. I believe that there is much to be learned about dominant and often hidden assumptions in contemporary approaches to personhood by comparisons between these fields, but at the outset I want to distinguish this intuition from another one in vogue among philosophers working to bridge the gap between philosophical and psychological disciplines today. This is the somewhat positivist sense that philsophical investigation must take its starting-points and limits from well-established psychological findings, and that philosophical accounts at odds with these are for that reason unrealistic, or obviously trading on outmoded and scientifically discredited `folk metaphysics.' For example, this sense that philosophy must acknowledge its secondary position relative to empirical psychology is implicit throughout Bernard Williams's work on motivation and morality, and it is the explicit basis of Owen Flanagan's recent attempt to limit ethical theory by `psychological realism' and argue for a form of relativism by "[a]ttention to psychological facts." Because all modern conceptions of morality are committed to making "our motivational structure, our personal possibilities, relevant in setting their moral sights," they cannot be developed without. (shrink)
In his contribution to a recent symposium on Habermas's work, (1) Charles Larmore critiques Habermas's Between Facts and Norms (2) from a largely Rawlsian perspective. His reading raises fundamental questions that divide Habermas from American pragmatists and other contextualists, and helps reveal, in my view, that the differences between Habermas's and Rawls's conceptions of justice are more basic than is often recognized. Yet as I will argue, in several places Larmore misconstrues Habermas's position and fails to understand his point at (...) crucial junctures, largely because he attempts to discuss.. (shrink)
National Identity: Some Reﬂections on the Future of Europe,"(1) Habermas's speciﬁc theme is the `legitimation crisis' arising from the current situation within the European Community.(2) But the deeper philosophical point of the article is to develop a fundamental implication of Habermas's analysis of democracy in his new work, Between Facts and Norms (in which the article is included as an appendix):(3) Habermas argues that the normative content of democratic citizenship can be institutionalized without identity-formation in by a `national state' of (...) the kind that still dominates our geopolitical landscape. The concept of democracy cannot be restricted to nationalist contexts; instead, by its very nature it points beyond such restrictions, and ultimately towards a global government that would ensure fundamental human rights worldwide. In the process, Habermas develops several ideas from his much earlier analyses of social integration and links them in revealing ways to his universalist conception of human rights. Finally, Habermas explicitly criticizes communitarian arguments that particularist criteria in immigration are permissible or required to maintain a political culture adequate for democratic citizenship. (shrink)
I will argue that there is a better position which is more religiously inclusive than "political liberalism" as conceived by Rawls or Audi, but which maintains a principled distance from Quinn's radical inclusivism. (2) In section I, I analyze Quinn's argument for radical inclusivism and pose an initial objection to it. In section II, I turn to the question of how democratic legitimation is to be conceived. After outlining the `civic virtue' or `deliberative' interpretation of democratic institutions now proposed by (...) a large group of writers, I argue that this approach implies a sphere of public reason wider than in Rawls's or Audi's conceptions, and yet not as all-inclusive as Quinn's. In particular, any cogent deliberative theory of democracy implies certain conditions of public accessibility for political argument which exclude religious bases for political positions if these are grounded purely on revelation. The deliberative or `civic virtue' conception thus gives us a basis for an intermediate position between Rawlsian public reason and radical inclusivism. This intermediate revelation-excluding (RE) model of deliberative democracy depends on certain epistemic presuppositions, which help distinguish democracy from theocracy. (shrink)
This essay evaluates John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza's mature semi-compatibilist account of moral responsibility, focusingon their new theory of moderate reasons-responsiveness as a model of "moral sanity." This theory, presented in _Responsibility and Control_, solves many of the problems with Fischer's earlier weak reasons-responsiveness model, such as its unwanted implication that agents who are only erratically responsive to bizarre reasons can be responsible for their acts. But I argue that the new model still faces several problems. It does not (...) allow sufficiently for non-psychotic agents (who are largely reasons-responsive) with localized beliefs and desires incompatible with full responsibility. Nor does it take into account that practical "fragmentation of the self" over time may also reduce competence, since moral sanity requires some minimum level of narrative unity in our plans and projects. Finally, I argue that actual-sequence accounts cannot adequately explain sane but weak-willed agency. (shrink)
Comparison of the preliminary objection to Haskar's and Adams's critiques of Molinism. The difficulty with Haskar's 'Power Inference Principle;' Adams's "New Anti-Molinist Argument;" William Lane Craig's recent response to Adams; Craig's defense of the 'emphemeral' Molinist logical possibility of doing otherwise; the two stages of the Existentialist's alternative strategy against Molinism.
I will discuss Kant 's arguments in these section in three parts. In Part I, I will try to show how we can make sense of the obviously close relations in theme and content between the Refutation of Idealism and the two version of the Fourth Paralogism, as well as the second Postulate of Empirical Thought. This will serve as a kind of introduction, since on a cursory first reading, the connections might be far from apparent. In the process, I (...) will try to isolate a few basic. (shrink)
Davenport argues for a federation of democracies to replace the United Nations Security Council. This new level of government, he says, is necessary to achieve the international cooperation needed to manage a global economy and address global problems.
This paper concerns a debate between two previous articles in Faith and Philosophy. In 1995, Bruce Ballard criticized Marilyn Piety’s argument that the Kierkegaardian “choice” between the ‘aesthetic’ and ‘ethical’ modes of existence is not an irrational or criterionless leap. Instead, Ballard defended MacIntyre’s view that Kierkegaard’s position succumbs to the tensions inherited from its opposing enlightenment sources. I argue in response that Ballard sets up a false dilemma for Kierkegaard and misunderstands Kierkegaardianpathos. To bolster Piety’s position, I compare her (...) analysis to my own argument that the “choice” to determine oneself in light of ethical distinctions has to do with the personal appropriation, not the authority, of morality. I also compare this to arguments from several other scholars that the choice in Either/Or has to do with taking responsibility for and developing one’s ‘self,’ not with providing a foundation for moral norms. Finally, in light of these analyses, I argue against Ballard’s remaining socialistcriticism that Kierkegaard’s ethics is “bourgeois.”. (shrink)