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)
In the 21st century, as the peoples of the world grow more closely tied together, the question of real transnational government will finally have to be faced. The end of the Cold War has not brought the peace, freedom from atrocities, and decline of tyranny for which we hoped. It is also clearer now that problems like economic risks, tax havens, and environmental degradation arising with global markets are far outstripping the governance capacities of our 20th century system of distinct (...) nation-states, even when they try to work together through intergovernmental agreements and organized bureaucracies of specialists. This work defends a cosmopolitan approach to global justice by arguing for new ways to combine the strengths of democratic nations in order to prevent mass atrocities and to secure other global public goods. While protecting cultural pluralism, Davenport argues that a Democratic League would provide a legal order capable of uniting the strength and inspiring moral vision of democratic nations to improve international security, stop mass atrocities, assist developing nations in overcoming corruption and poverty, and, in time, potentially address other global challenges in finance, environmental sustainability, stable food supplies, immigration, and so on. This work will be of great interest to students and scholars of international relations, international organizations, philosophy and global justice. (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)
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)
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)
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)
A detailed review essay discussing reason, hermeneutics, and understanding through the lens of Steven Watson's two-volume work, Tradition(s). It offers a transcendental for constitutive commitments of reason in dialog with Watson's more Gadamerian views.
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)
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)
Tradition must rank as one of the ten most important works within the hermeneutic tradition to be published in the 1990s, alongside recent books by Jean-Luc Nancy, Drucilla Cornell, Simon Critchley, John Caputo, Paul Ricoeur, and Jacques Derrida. In Tradition, Stephen Watson, who is influenced by Heidegger, Gadamer, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, and Alasdair MacIntyre, works out a historical hermeneutics with obvious connections to their views, but that also stakes out a different position "between" their respective accounts of reason, interpretation, and tradition. (...) This work builds on themes introduced in Watson's earlier collection of essays, such as his paper on "Between Truth and Method: Gadamer, Traditionality, and the Problem of Justification in Interpretative Practices." In the process, Watson also develops his innovative approaches to many particular figures in the history of modern philosophy, to their influence on and significance for one another, and most importantly, to an array of fundamental questions concerning the canons of reason, the status of personal subjects, and basic ethical concepts like friendship, character, and the good. It is in his treatment of these themes especially—and his general suspicion of transcendental methodology and universal principles—that we perhaps see the Aristotelian influences most clearly in this text. At the same time, Watson's is always a deconstructive version of Aristotelianism, refracted through his reading of Heidegger, whose notion of Erwiderung, or "reciprocal rejoinder" with past thinkers in the formation of new ideas is introduced on the first page and becomes the schema both for his analysis of tradition and his treatment of individual authors. (shrink)
This paper argues that the eschatological dimension of religion is distinct from other fundamental dimensions, including moral grounding, the ontological basis of reality, and the constitution of persons. It responds in particular to Tibor Horvath's conception of the category of ultimate reality. It also argues that eschatological hereafters imply something akin to an higher-time A-series, in that the hereafter can be conceived as a temporal order beyond currently existing time.
This article defends the Responsibility to Protect doctrine against critiques by Fabrice Weissman in this journal, and against similar criticisms of humanitarian intervention and human rights norms made by postmodern thinkers in the Nietzschean tradition, such as Alain Badiou and Anne Orford. I argue against Weissman that R2P can be effective in stopping or preventing mass atrocities, and in particular that opposition to military intervention in Syria during the 2013 debates was a terrible mistake. Moreover, the moral ground for humanitarian (...) aid efforts is the same as the basis for forceful rescue from mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing, and persecution. Weissman's critiques misinterpret just war theory on key points and rely on inflated rhetorical strategies inspired by extreme forms of cultural and moral relativism that are intellectually bankrupt—both in blaming “Western imperialism” for most crimes against humanity committed by tyrants, and in leaving hundreds of thousands without the only protection that could prevent their murder and exile. These extreme positions and the strained rhetorical devices used to defend them do not deserve the wide respect they command in some parts of academia. (shrink)