Gewirth's view that ethics is based on human rights is contrasted to Blanshard's view that human rights derive their support from ethics. For Blanshard intrinsic good is comprised of whatever both satisfies and fulfills human nature. Human rights and correlated duties depend entirely upon whether or not they foster this intrinsic good. For Gewirth, by contrast, human claim-rights, such as freedom and well-being, are the foundation of human agency required for moral action of any sort. Such rights, properly conceived, are (...) the foundation and basis of ethics. (shrink)
What seems to bring the systematic and historical approaches into harmony is “philosophical conscience.” By this is meant “evaluating consciousness” that is “self-distancing” and prompts further searching and more careful expression of ideas. “The experience of thinking referred to here—the tension between the practice of verbal experiments and the nonverbal ‘conscience’ with which this practice tries to coincide—corresponds to the way in which we experience moral, aesthetic, and religious realities”. In brief, “a philosopher who tries to think radically … takes (...) the great chance of undermining his own thought”. “History” is generated by the discontinuity resulting from this process of radical philosophizing especially about the basic foundations. (shrink)
This is an interesting book in many ways. But, it is not a study of creativity in American philosophy. It is more accurate to call it a labyrinth through which Charles Hartshorne’s view of creativity finally emerges. It is a sketch of how Hartshorne reacted to those in the philosophical tradition to whom he was exposed and, more specifically, what he found worthwhile or enduring, from his perspective, in their philosophical outlooks. There is more candor and objectivity to his approach (...) than one finds in Bertrand Russell’s history of Western philosophy, but the purpose served by the exploration is similar. Invariably there are omissions and distortions. (shrink)
We live in a world in which one of every five persons does not get enough to eat. Each day more than ten thousand people die of starvation; thousands more, both adults and children, suffer brain damage and other functional abnormalities because of malnutrition. Often there is simply not enough drinking water or not enough food available. Some people must do without. A drought has come and some are allowed to die. Or, less food has been grown because less fertilizer (...) was imported and hundreds or thousands die. (shrink)
Embodying the major presentations given at the January, 1979, American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting held at Houston, Texas, the seven contributors explore the function of consciousness in quantum mechanics, cosmology, psychology, engineering, information science, and technological policy. Central questions that span the sprawling array of topics considered are: How, if at all, does the observer and user of the universe alter what is observed and used? Can significant experiments be formulated and executed to ascertain this possible (...) interaction between observer and the universe? Does the observer create the reality through observing it? If so, can “models” be designed that acknowledge the function of consciousness in this interaction process? (shrink)
Most of the chapters in this slim volume are revised or extended versions of essays published earlier in various journals. The opening three essays, originally presented as Lowell Lectures, set the theme of the book as an exposition of Hartshorne's own neoclassical metaphysics.
In relation to this world of fact, how is the self creative? In relation to this conservative system of physical nature, how is the self creative? By creative, in this context, Hocking means “making a difference in physical nature: inserting something that would not otherwise be there.” Can the self make such a difference?
William Ernest Hocking has been described as “the people’s philosopher,” “the last of the Golden Age of American philosophy,” and “the dean of American philosophers.” These labels reflect something of the sensitivity of the man and the magnitude of his achievements. Hocking’s own words illustrate the appropriateness of the diverse labels. “Philosophy is the common man’s business,” he once remarked, “and until it reaches the common man and answers his questions it is not doing its duty.” “Philosophic thinking, stirred to (...) the depths by catastrophic events on a worldscale, has become a public concern in a new sense. The rise of clearmarked ideologies, undertaking to align men in vast numbers behind a constellation of points-of-view which it would be unfair to call philosophies—unfair to philosophy, I mean—yet with philosophical groundwork, has compelled men the world over to take issues of truth with renewed seriousness.” But, the other two labels apply with equal force. Hocking was the last representative of the Golden Age of American philosophy. In a manner that is quite unfashionable, he dealt with the grand intellectual themes that have traditionally occupied those who love wisdom: the nature of man, the meaning of life and death, and God. Gabriel Marcel refers to Hocking as “a man who, through the visible world, has never ceased to have the presentment of what is eternal.” His fellow philosophers, however bent on other concerns, would find it difficult to overlook his achievements. Hocking published seventeen books and two hundred seventy essays and delivered the prized Gifford and Hibbert Lectures. It is in part at least for such achievements that he is called the “dean of American philosophers.”. (shrink)
Are ethical principles that guide human behavior suitable for the array of complex new environmental problems? Justice, nonmaleficence, noninterference, and fidelity seem by extension to apply. Conflicts between the principles of humanistic ethics and environmental ethics may perhaps be resolved, as Paul W. Taylor indicates, through the application of such “priority principles” as “self-defense,” “proportionality,” “minimum wrong,” and “restitutive justice.” Taylor suggests that these principles would forbid moral agents from perpetrating harm through direct killing, habitat destruction, environmental contamination, and pollution.
To discover whether effort of will may be a basis for moral freedom we need to have before us a general description of the experiential situation in which an effort of will is found. The description need not be exhaustive, but it must be such as to permit us to identify situations in which an effort of will is to be found.
In this volume of Leys Lectures, the third collection of Wayne Leys Memorial Lectures, six distinguished essayists demonstrate the relevance of ethics to contemporary concerns by constructively exploring major ethical issues deeply embedded in our society. The essays, written by noted scholars Tom Regan, Carol C. Gould, James Rachels, James P. Sterba, Louis P. Pojman, and David L. Norton, focus on issues of feminism, the exploitation of animals, economic injustice, racial prejudice, naive moral relativism, and the failure of public education. (...) _Tom Regan_ and _Louis P. Pojman_ both address the issue of animal rights. Regan directs his attention to an ethic-of-care feminism, which contends that the ideology of male superiority—not only to women but to all creatures—must be destroyed. By means of a "consistency argument," he extends ethic-of-care feminism to the treatment of animals, insisting that we must not permit to be done to animals "in the name of science" what we would not allow to be done to human beings. Pojman, on the other hand, addresses the question of animal rights through a critical analysis of seven theories of the moral status of animals, arguing that while animals have no natural "rights" since they are unable to enter into contracts, they do deserve to be treated kindly. In his view, much animal research could be abandoned without significant loss. What rethinking of democracy in terms of freedom and equality is required by economic justice? _Carol C. Gould_ offers an answer to this question by arguing that economic justice requires that workers control the production process as well as the distribution process. Such justice would provide the basis of "positive freedom" as self-development without ignoring the importance of the absence of constraints. Taking racial prejudice as his paradigm, _James Rachels_ explores the deeper meaning of prejudice and what equality of treatment involves. Noting the subtlety of prejudicial reasoning, he examines how stereotypes, unconscious bias, and the human tendency toward rationalization make it difficult even for people of good will to prevent prejudice from influencing their actions. _James P. Sterba_ invites the reader to consider a different and more general problem of how to persuade people to act for moral reasons. To accomplish this aim he shows morality to be a requirement of rationality and "the welfare liberal ideal" to be a fusion of the practical ends of five ideals—liberty, fairness, common good, androgyny, and equality. For _David L. Norton_, one of our most pressing problems is the failure of our educational system. The system fails to enable students to make wise "life-shaping" choices involving vocation, marriage, children, and friendship. In order to make good choices, human beings must live and work in an environment that provides experiences that authenticate "personal truths" indispensable to worthy living. These personal truths include direct acquaintance with vocational alternatives and participation in actual service to others. Collectively, these essays bring into sharp focus the urgent moral issues confronting our society and the need for ongoing discussion and examination of these issues in order to gain deeper understanding of and possible solutions to the problems they present. (shrink)
Abortion, euthanasia, racism, sexism, paternalism, the rights of children, the population explosion, and the dynamics of economic growth are examined in the light of ethical principles by leading philosophers in order to suggest reasonable judgments. Originally prepared for the distinguished Wayne Leys Memorial Lecture Series at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, the essayists have addressed themselves to the most pressing ethical questions being asked today. William K. Frankena, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan, in “The Ethics of Respect for Life” argues for (...) a qualified view of moral respect for human personality. From his viewpoint it is always prima facie wrong to shorten or prevent human life, but not always actually wrong as other moral conditions may counter the presumed wrong. The late William T. Blackstone in “Zero Population Growth and Zero Economic Growth” contends that justice will require the production of the maximal level of goods to fulfill basic human needs compatible with the avoidance of ecological catastrophe. Richard Wasserstrom, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, proposes an assimilationist ideal in “Racism, Sexism, and Preferential Treatment.” Gerald Dworkin, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle, dares to ask “Is More Choice Better than Less?” Joel Feinberg, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, in “The Child’s Right to an Open Future,” offers a defense of “rights-in-trust” of children. Tom L. Beauchamp, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute-Center for Bioethics of Georgetown University, considers the paternalism used to justify social policies in the practice of medicine and insists that it invariably involves a conflict between the ethical principles of beneficence and autonomy. (shrink)