In this paper we contribute to “sociology in bioethics” and help clarify the range of ways sociological work can contribute to ethics scholarship. We do this using a case study of an innovative neurotechnology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and its use to attempt to diagnose and communicate with severely brain-injured patients. We compare empirical data from interviews with relatives of patients who have a severe brain injury with perspectives from mainstream bioethics scholars. We use the notion of an “ethical landscape” (...) as an analogy for the different ethical positions subjects can take—whereby a person’s position relative to the landscape makes a difference to the way they experience and interact with it. We show that, in comparison to studying abstract ethics “from above” the ethical landscape, which involves universal generalizations and global judgements, studying ethics empirically “from the ground,” within the ethical landscape foregrounds a more plural and differentiated picture. We argue it is important not to treat empirical ethics as secondary to abstract ethics, to treat on-the-ground perspectives as useful only insofar as they can inform ethics from above. Rather, empirical perspectives can illuminate the plural vantage points in ethical judgments, highlight the “lived” nature of ethical reasoning, and point to all ethical vantage points as being significant. This is of epistemic importance to normative ethics, since researchers who pay attention to the various positions in and trajectories through the ethical landscape are unlikely to think about ethics in terms of abstract agency—as can happen with top-down ethics—or to elide agency with the agency of policymakers. Moreover, empirical perspectives may have transformative implications for people on the ground, especially where focus on the potential harms and benefits they face brings their experiences and interests to the forefront of ethical and policy discussion. (shrink)
Can the Internet reach beyond the U. S. college samples predominant in social science research? A sample of 564,502 participants completed a personality questionnaire online. We found that 19% were not from advanced economies; 20% were from non-Western societies; 35% of the Western-society sample were not from the United States; and 66% of the U. S. sample were not in the 18–22 (college) age group.
The article proposes a comparison between certain aspects of Samuel Pufendorf's (1632-1694) conception of natural law and certain aspects of John Searle's social ontology. As in Pufendorf the entia moralia are superimposed on the entia physica, of which they constitute modes that ground systems of norms (natural or positive), so in Searle the institutional facts that are created by certain speech acts of the performative type are superimposed on the physical facts. The difference between Pufendorf and Searle is (...) that the latter understands all institutional facts as extrinsic to the physical facts (as a consequence of the peculiarity of their self-referentiality). For Pufendorf, on the other hand, moral modes are intrinsic to certain entia physica endowed with reason and will, whereas certain legal relations, like property, are extrinsic. (shrink)
The paper analyzes early colonial representations of the New World, connected with immigration of the first- and second-generation religious dissenters in what was to become America. Taking into account the well-documented influence of Puritans on American identity, the paper elaborates on the Puritans’ and Pilgrims’ mindsets as they arrived in the New World, connected not only with their religious beliefs but most of all with a practical need to organize themselves effectively. Be it in John Winthrop’s “A Modell of (...) Christian Charity,” William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” or Samuel Danforth’s “New England’s Errand into the Wilderness,” the authors of these works clearly show how the Pilgrims and Puritans had to confront the experience of emigration/immigration and construct not only new ways of social organization but also new identity. The paper focuses on the immigrants’ perception of the New World, their own role and challenges they were faced with, and their thinking about the society they came from and were about to construct. It deals with their process of adjusting to the surroundings and discussing values they decided to promote for the sake of communal survival in the adverse conditions of the New World. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that rather than viewing John Dewey as either a historicist or a naturalist, we should see him as strange but potentially fruitful combination of both. I will demonstrate that the notion of organism-environment interaction central to Dewey’s pragmatism stems from a Hegelian approach to adaptation; his turn to biology was not necessarily a turn away from Hegel. I argue that Dewey’s account of the organism-environment relation derives from the work of Oxford Hegelians such as (...) Edward Caird and Samuel Alexander, who were attempting to reconcile evolutionary ideas with a critique of Herbert Spencer’s environmentalist account of human thought and action. This dialectical account of organism-environment interaction played a key role in Dewey’s philosophy from the 1890s to the 1940s, despite other shifts in his thinking. (shrink)
First published Sat Apr 5, 2003; most recent substantive revision Wed Aug 22, 2018. -/- Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) was the most influential British philosopher in the generation between Locke and Berkeley. His philosophical interests were mostly in metaphysics, theology, and ethics.
The two justificatory roles of the social contract are establishing whether or not a state is legitimate simpliciter and establishing whether any particular individual is politically obligated to obey the dictates of its governing institutions. Rawls's theory is obviously designed to address the first role but less obviously the other. Rawls does offer a duty-based theory of political obligation that has been criticized by neo-Lockean A. John Simmons. I assess Simmons's criticisms and the possible responses that could be made (...) to them, including those offered by Samuel Freeman. I conclude they rest on a Rawlsian equivocation and ultimately fail. (shrink)
This review essay on three recent books on John Rawls’s theory of justice, by Catherine Audard, Samuel Freeman, and Thomas Pogge, describes the great boon they offer serious students of Rawls. They form a united front in firmly and definitively rebuffing Robert Nozick’s libertarian critique, Michael Sandel’s communitarian critique, and more generally critiques of “neutralist liberalism,” as well as in affirming the basic unity of Rawls’s position. At a deeper level, however, they diverge, and in ways that, this (...) essay suggests, go astray on subtle questions of interpretation: Freeman overemphasizes reciprocity, Pogge miscasts Rawls as a consequentialist, and Audard exaggerates the Kantian aspect of Rawls’s core, continuing commitment to “doctrinal autonomy.”. (shrink)
The chapter provides a brief survey of the moral views of some of the main writers advocating rationalist conceptions in philosophical ethics in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Germany, prior to Reid and Kant: Samuel Clarke, William Wollaston, John Balguy, Richard Price, Christian Wolff (along with his adversary Christian August Crusius), Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten.
The Reasonableness of Christianity is a major work by one of the greatest modern philosophers. Published anonymously in 1695, it entered a world upset by fierce theological conflict and immediately became a subject of controversy. At issue were the author’s intentions. John Edwards labelled it a Socinian work and charged that it was subversive not only of Christianity but of religion itself others praised it as a sure preservative of both. Few understood Locke’s intentions, and perhaps no one fully. (...) This new collection describes the background to Locke’s book and documents the disputes that followed its publication. Providing an invaluable insight into the context of its conception and reception, it includes contributions by Samuel Bold, John Edwards, Charles Blount, and Daniel Waterland, bringing the discussion up to the eighteenth century. Also included is a review of the Reasonableness found among Locke’s unpublished papers and published here for the first time. The volume will be of interest to philosophers of religion and theologians as well as historians. (shrink)
Rawls's theory of political obligation attempts to avoid the obvious flaws of a Lockean consent model. Rawls rejects a requirement of consent for two reasons: First, the consent requirement of Locke’s theory was intended to ensure that the liberty and equality of the contractors was respected, but this end is better achieved by the principles chosen in the original position, which order the basic structure of a society into which citizens are born. Second, "basing our political ties upon a principle (...) of obligation would complicate the assurance problem." Instead, Rawls offers a duty-based account, whereby we are duty-bound to support and comply with just institutions that apply to us. A. John Simmons argues that Rawls cannot meet the particularity requirement of establishing political obligation to only one state. I assess the response that this requirement can be met by the political constructivist element of Rawls's theory. I conclude that there are fatal flaws in this response. (shrink)
Samuel Alexander was one of the foremost philosophical figures of his day and has been argued by John Passmore to be one of ‘fathers’ of Australian philosophy as well as a novel kind of physicalist. Yet Alexander is now relatively neglected, his role in the genesis of Australian philosophy if far from widely accepted and the standard interpretation takes him to be an anti-physicalist. In this paper, I carefully examine these issues and show that Alexander has been badly, (...) although understandably, misjudged by most of his contemporary critics and interpreters. Most importantly, I show that Alexander offers an ingenious, and highly original, version of physicalism at the heart of which is a strikingly different view of the nature of the microphysical properties and associated view of emergent properties. My final conclusion will be that Passmore is correct in his claims both that Alexander is significant as one of the grandfather’s of Australian philosophy and that he provides a novel physicalist position. I will also suggest that Alexander’s emergentism is important for addressing the so-called ‘problem of mental causation’ presently dogging contemporary non-reductive physicalists. (shrink)
In The Law of Peoples Rawls claims that liberal well-ordered societies (LWOSs) should regard certain non-liberal societies, decent hierarchical societies (DHSs), as equal members of a just international order, a ‘Society of Peoples.’ Rawls maintains, however, that while the ‘basic structures’ (the main political and economic institutions) of LWOSs are fair systems of social cooperation, the basic structures of DHSs are only ‘decent’ systems of social cooperation. I explain why the basic structures of DHSs cannot be fair systems of social (...) cooperation. In doing so, I refute a recent defense of DHSs advanced by Samuel Freeman. I then argue that because the basic structures of DHSs cannot be fair systems of social cooperation, Rawls is not justified in holding that LWOSs should refrain always from offering economic incentives to DHSs in order to encourage them to liberalize their political institutions. The ultimate aim of the foreign policies of LWOSs should be a world in which liberal democratic rights are respected by all societies. (shrink)
Summary John Stuart Mill's classic tale of disillusionment from a ?narrow creed?, an overt as much as a covert theme of his Autobiography (London, 1873), has for many years served as a guide to the search for the causes and sources of his ?enlargement-of-the-utilitarian-creed? project. As a result, in analyses of Mill's mature views, Samuel Taylor Coleridge?and friends?commonly take centre stage in terms of influence, whereas John's father?James Mill?is reduced either to a supernumerary or a villain in (...) the last act of John's intellectual development. However, students of Mill's works should not take at face value the story presented in Autobiography. Mill's own emphasis on the role of his ?new influences? has led scholars to disregard the role of his ?old influences? in his attempt to create a broader theory of living?one which takes into account both the intellectual and the emotional capacities of individuals. A close look at key aspects of John Stuart Mill's ?enlargement project? suggests that James Mill may have played a more positive role than is usually acknowledged. A way into the intellectual affinity of the two Mills is the person they both kept returning to for guidance and inspiration throughout their lives: Plato. (shrink)
Nicholas Capaldi's biography of John Stuart Mill traces the ways in which Mill's many endeavours are related and explores the significance of Mill's contribution to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of education. He shows how Mill was groomed for his life by both his father James Mill, and Jeremy Bentham, the two most prominent philosophical radicals of the early nineteenth century. Yet Mill revolted against this education and developed friendships with (...) both Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who introduced him to Romanticism and political conservatism. A special feature of this biography is the attention devoted to his relationship with Harriet Taylor. No one exerted a greater influence than the woman he was eventually to marry. Nicholas Capaldi reveals just how deep her impact was on Mill's thinking about the emancipation of women. (shrink)
In John Locke's Two Treatises of Government, the state of nature, and more particularly natural man, are created within the tradition of natural law. Several commentators, such as James Tully and Karl Olivecrona, have recognized this legacy in Locke's political thought.1 While providing an analysis of Locke's thought in relation to natural law, such studies, however, have not fully examined the global context within which both the Two Treatises and seventeenth-century natural law developed. Consequently the extent to which natural (...) law theorists, such as Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf, were influenced by the colonial interests of their particular countries of origin has been largely overlooked. The development of natural law theory, which can be traced back to the time of Cicero and beyond, is transformed during the sixteen hundreds by the need to answer new questions posed, both on sea and land, by the expanding colonial empires of Europe. Thus, in considering the natural law theorists who influenced Locke, it will be necessary to examine how colonialism influenced both the questions which were posed and the answers that were given. (shrink)
In this article, I discuss how Samuel Stanhope Smith advanced Reidian themes in his moral philosophy and examine their reception by Presbyterian revivalists Ashbel Green, Samuel Miller, and Archibald Alexander. Smith, seventh president and moral philosophy professor of the College of New Jersey (1779–1812), has received marginal scholarly attention regarding his moral philosophy and rational theology, in comparison to his predecessor John Witherspoon. As an early American philosopher who drew on the ideals of the Scottish Enlightenment including (...) Common Sense philosophy, Smith faced heightened scrutiny from American revivalists regarding the danger his epistemology presented to the institution of religion. The Scottish School of Common Sense was widely praised and applied in nineteenth-century American moral philosophy, but before the more general American acceptance of Common Sense, Smith already appealed to Reidian themes in his methodology and treatment of external sensations, internal sensations, intellectual powers, and active powers of the human mind. In this paper, I argue that Smith's use of Reidian themes for grooming his student's morality conflicted with the educational expectations from revivalists on Princeton's board of trustees who demanded more attention on orthodox theology. I identify Smith's notions of causation, liberty, and the moral faculty as primary reasons for this tension over Princeton's educational purpose during the first decade of the nineteenth century. (shrink)
Two footnotes added to the second edition of Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s Defense of the Essay of Human Understanding, which appeared in her collected works of 1751, have led to her being accused of philosophical incompetence, or more mildly, of having been a poor interpreter of John Locke. This paper argues, by contrast, that Trotter Cockburn had an excellent understanding of Locke’s moral epistemology but came to recognize that there was an insufficiency in her early defense of his views, which (...) ultimately resulted from the ambiguity in the Lockean notion of an idea. Her footnotes attempt to fill a lacuna in his moral epistemology that derives from this ambiguity. While the resulting fix to Locke’s claim that the principles of morality are demonstrable on the basis of reflection on the ideas that we have of God and ourselves may not be appealing to those who are not already believers it shows that far from being confused, Trotter Cockburn was a subtle philosopher with an excellent grasp of Lockean moral epistemology. (shrink)
This volume has four parts; in Part I, dealing with the philosophical tradition, Francis M. Parker examines various senses of insight and discusses its goodness as an activity. Henry B. Veatch questions Wild's acceptance of the life-world and asks for a critical, explicitly transcendental justification of it. Robert Jordan reviews Anselm's ontological argument and its place in other proofs for God's existence, and in religious experience. John M. Anderson examines "Art and Philosophy" with the help of Plato and Hegel. (...) Part II examines the life-world; Robert R. Ehman writes on the phenomenon of world, and Calvin O. Schrag situates Husserl's notion of life-world within the tradition of Hegel, Dilthey and Heidegger as a theme in the problem of history. Enzo Paci has an essay relating the life-world to the Husserlian analysis of the body as a locus of mobility, life, sensation, and, ultimately thought. C. A. van Peursen's contribution examines the nature of structure in the life-world. Part III deals with the individual and society and includes a picturesque, sensitive and profound essay by Erwin Straus on "The Miser." George Schrader writes on "Monetary Value and Personal Value," W. L. McBride on "Individualisms," and Wilfrid Desan on "Sartre the Individualist." Part IV, "Subjectivity and Objectivity," includes Paul Ric£ur distinguishing three types of philosophical discourse about the will, and claiming that a hermeneutic of symbols must supplement both discourse which is phenomenological and that which proposes meaningful action. Mikel Dufrenne writes on "Structuralism and Humanism," Nathaniel Lawrence on "The Illusion of Monolinear Time," and Samuel J. Todes and Hubert L. Dreyfus on "The Existentialist Critique of Objectivity." James Edie has an important essay on Husserl's notion of "the grammatical" and the a priori in grammar; he relates it to Chomsky's theory of grammatical structures. The volume ends with a bibliography of Wild's works, reviews of them, and essays devoted to his thought.--R. S. (shrink)
What thesis is Hume trying to establish in his essay “On Miracles” and does he succeed? John Earman’s answer to the latter question is clearly conveyed by the title of his new book. Earman uses a Bayesian representation of the problem to make his case. For Earman, this mode of analysis is both perspicuous and nonanachronistic, in that probability reasoning was central to the 18th century debate about miracles in particular and testimony in general. Indeed, one of Hume’s most (...) interesting antagonists, Richard Price, was the person to whom Thomas Bayes entrusted his now-famous essay for posthumous publication. For Earman, Price is the proper Bayesian, while Hume’s essay provides only “rhetoric and schein geld”. Earman’s tone is consistently prosecutorial and sometimes snide; he says that his animus is not so much against Hume himself as against those who smugly invoke Hume’s essay as definitively settling the matter. This tone should not deter potential readers who are convinced that Hume’s essay contains something of value. Earman’s book is interesting and provocative in multiple ways—it places Hume’s essay in its historical setting, it offers an insightful close reading of the text, and it shows how the resources of Bayesianism can be powerfully put to work. Besides Earman’s own essay, the volume also contains Hume’s essay and relevant work by others, including Locke, Spinoza, Samuel Clarke, Price, Laplace, and Babbage. The book would be an excellent choice for an advanced undergraduate or graduate seminar. (shrink)
For well over a century the dominant narrative covering the major thinkers and themes of early modern British philosophy has been that of “British Empiricism”, within which the great triumvirate of Locke-Berkeley-Hume are taken to be the dominant figures. Although it is now common to question this schema as a way of analyzing and understanding the period in question, it continues to command considerable authority and acceptance. (One likely reason for this is that no credible or plausible alternatives structures or (...) schemas of analysis have suggested themselves.) Be this as it may, the analysis of the rival systems of Clarke, Berkeley and Hume makes clear that this narrative, however deeply entrenched it may be, is wholly misleading and both distorts and obscures key themes and figures in the period in question. (shrink)