Though many ethicists have the intuition that we should leave nature alone, Kyle Johannsen argues that we have a duty to research safe ways of providing large-scale assistance to wild animals. Using concepts from moral and political philosophy to analyze the issue of wild animal suffering (WAS), Johannsen explores how a collective, institutional obligation to assist wild animals should be understood. He claims that with enough research, genetic editing may one day give us the power to safely intervene without perpetually (...) interfering with wild animals’ liberties.---------------Questions addressed include: In what way is nature valuable and is interference compatible with that value? Is interference a requirement of justice? What are the implications of WAS for animal rights advocacy? What types of intervention are promising?---------------Expertly moving the debate about human relations with wild animals beyond its traditional confines, Wild Animal Ethics is essential reading for students and scholars of political philosophy and political theory studying animal ethics, environmental ethics, and environmental philosophy. (shrink)
Wild animal reproduction poses an important moral problem for animal rights theorists. Many wild animals give birth to large numbers of uncared-for offspring, and thus child mortality rates are far higher in nature than they are among human beings. In light of this reproductive strategy – traditionally referred to as the ‘r-strategy’ – does concern for the interests of wild animals require us to intervene in nature? In this paper, I argue that animal rights theorists should embrace fallibility-constrained interventionism: the (...) view that intervention in nature is desirable but should be constrained by our ignorance of the inner workings of ecosystems. Though authors sometimes assume that large-scale intervention requires turning nature into an enormous zoo, I suggest an alternative. With sufficient research, a new form of gene editing called CRISPR promises to one day give us the capacity to intervene without perpetually interfering with wild animals’ liberties. (shrink)
In light of the extent of wild animal suffering, some philosophers have adopted the view that we should cautiously assist wild animals on a large scale. Recently, their view has come under criticism. According to one objection, even cautious intervention is unjustified because fallibility is allegedly intractable. By contrast, a second objection states that we should abandon caution and intentionally destroy habitat in order to prevent wild animals from reproducing. In my paper, I argue that intentional habitat destruction is wrong (...) because negative duties are more stringent than positive duties. However, I also argue that the possible benefits of ecological damage, combined with the excusability of unintended, unforeseeable harm, suggest that fallibility should not paralyse us. (shrink)
The name ‘pluralism’ frequently rears its head in political philosophy, but theorists often have different things in mind when using the term. Whereas ‘reasonable pluralism’ refers to the fact of moral diversity among citizens of a liberal democracy, ‘value pluralism’ is a metaethical view about the structure of moral practical reasoning. In this paper, I argue that value pluralism is part of the best explanation for reasonable pluralism. However, I also argue that embracing this explanation is compatible with political liberalism’s (...) commitment to avoiding controversial premises. According value pluralism an explanatory role does not entail according it a justificatory one. What’s more, explaining reasonable disagreement in terms of reasonable disagreement about value weights opens up space for direct appeal to substantive values within political liberalism. In particular, promoting a substantive political value when doing so does not conflict with other values is unproblematic. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen is well known within contemporary political philosophy for claiming that the scope of principles of justice extends beyond the design of institutions to citizens’ personal choices. More recently, he’s also received attention for claiming that principles of justice are normatively ultimate, i.e., that they’re necessary for the justification of action guiding principles (regulatory rules) but are unsuitable to guide political practice themselves. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between these claims as they’re applied (...) in criticism of John Rawls. It argues that ascribing normative ultimacy to justice entails its application to personal choice. However, it also argues that if Cohen is right about Rawls’s difference principle being regulatory rather than ultimate, then his earlier claim that Rawls must extend it to personal choice on pain of inconsistency is refuted. (shrink)
Cet article détaille et défend les arguments avancés dans l’ouvrageA Conceptual Investigation of Justiceen réponse aux critiques. Cette mise au point développe certaines des idées contenues dans le livre, mais elle présente également des perspectives inédites, étayant l’argumentaire de sa thèse principale.
Conceptual analysis has fallen out of favor in political philosophy. The influence of figures like John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin has led political philosophy to focus on questions about what should be done, and to ignore questions about the usage of words. As a result, contemporary political philosophy lacks a shared understanding of the concept of justice, and a considerable amount of disagreement between political philosophers is, upon reflection, traceable to this. In my book, I call for renewed attention to (...) the manner in which the word ‘justice’ is and should be used. Focusing on the late work of G.A. Cohen, I argue that two major debates in contemporary political philosophy: the debate over luck-egalitarianism and the debate over whether justice imposes demands on citizens’ personal lives; are really just conceptual. Whereas some philosophers have been using the term ‘justice’ to refer to one among a plurality of values, others have been using it to refer to institutional rightness. Though the latter use of ‘justice’ is presently more dominant, I argue that much is to be gained from thinking of justice as one value among many. Doing so sheds light on the nature of both democracy and legitimacy, and, paradoxically, makes better sense of the idea that justice is ‘the first virtue of institutions’. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen’s claim that fundamental principles are ‘fact-insensitive’ has not received an especially warm welcome from the philosophical community. While some philosophers have expressed doubts about the plausibility of his claim, others have complained that even if his thesis is true, it is also relatively insignificant. In my paper, I argue that the fact-insensitivity thesis, if true, provides considerable support for value pluralism, and is thus of interest for that reason. Though Cohen himself assumes a plurality of fundamental principles, (...) he never argues that the fact-insensitivity thesis supports this assumption. One of my paper’s aims, then, is to fill an argumentative gap in Cohen’s meta-ethical framework. (shrink)
In recent work, economist Yew-Kwang Ng suggests strategies for improving animal welfare within the confines of institutions such as the meat industry. Although I argue that Ng is wrong not to advocate abolition, I do find his position concerning wild animals to be compelling. Anyone who takes the interests of animals seriously should also accept a cautious commitment to intervention in the wild.
This paper is the introduction to a collection I guest-edited called 'Positive Duties to Wild Animals'. The collection contains single-authored contributions from Catia Faria, Josh Milburn, Eze Paez, and Jeff Sebo; and co-authored contributions from Mara-Daria Cojocaru and Alasdair Cochrane, and Oscar Horta and Dayrón Terán. It's forthcoming as a special issue of Ethics, Policy and Environment.
G.A. Cohen is well known within contemporary political philosophy for claiming that the scope of principles of justice extends beyond the design of institutions to citizens’ personal choices. More recently, he’s also received attention for claiming that principles of justice are normatively ultimate, i.e., that they’re necessary for the justification of action guiding principles but are unsuitable to guide political practice themselves. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between these claims as they’re applied in criticism of (...) John Rawls. It argues that ascribing normative ultimacy to justice entails its application to personal choice. However, it also argues that if Cohen’s right about Rawls’s difference principle being regulatory rather than ultimate, then his earlier claim that Rawls must extend it to personal choice on pain of inconsistency is refuted. (shrink)
G.A. Cohen is famous for his critique of John Rawls’s view that principles of justice are restricted in scope to institutional structures. In recent work, however, Cohen has suggested that Rawlsians get more than just the scope of justice wrong: they get the concept wrong too. He claims that justice is a fundamental value, i.e. a moral input in our deliberations about the content of action-guiding regulatory principles, rather than the output. I argue here that Cohen’s arguments for extending the (...) scope of justice equivocate across his distinction between fundamental principles of justice, i.e. principles that tell us what justice is; and regulatory principles of justice, i.e. principles that tell us what is required of us, all things – including justice – considered. Though Cohen initially had the regulatory sense of the word ‘justice’ in mind when critiquing the basic structure restriction, his replies to the problem of demandingness presuppose his own, fundamental sense of the word ‘justice’. The upshot is that he escapes demandingness at the cost of sacrificing regulatory justice’s capacity to provide clear guidance. I conclude by considering Peter Singer’s efforts to deal with demandingness in his own work on global poverty. Since Singer manages to deal with demandingness without giving up clarity, his work is a good a place to start in the search for regulatory principles that are suitable for the context of personal choice. (shrink)
In recent work, Andrew T. Forcehimes and Robert B. Talisse correctly note that G.A. Cohen’s fact-insensitivity thesis, properly understood, is explanatory. This observation raises an important concern. If fact-insensitive principles are explanatory, then what role can they play in normative deliberations? The purpose of my paper is, in part, to address this question. Following David Miller, I indicate that on a charitable understanding of Cohen’s thesis, an explanatory principle explains a justificatory fact by completing an otherwise logically incomplete inference. As (...) a result, the explanatory role such a principle plays is inseparable from its status as a (not necessarily successful) justificatory reason. With this interpretation in hand, I then proceed to argue that Lea Ypi’s and Robert Jubb’s recent criticisms fail to undermine Cohen’s thesis, and that fact-insensitive principles, once discovered, are especially helpful for purposes of deliberation in circumstances characterized by changing and changeable feasibility constraints. (shrink)
This essay reviews two books by Rainer Forst: "The Right to Justification: Elements of a Constructivist Theory of Justice"; and "Justice, Democracy and the Right to Justification: Rainer Forst in Dialogue".
Ce texte offre un aperçu des articles composant ce numéro spécial et présente brièvement les principaux arguments avancés dansA Conceptual Investigation of Justice, dont une des thèses centrales veut qu’un important désaccord à la fois sémantique et philosophique sur la définition du terme «justice» soit au cœur de plusieurs questions en philosophie politique contemporaine. Cette présentation nous amène par ailleurs à décrire les caractéristiques d’un débat sémantique dont la portée dépasse la stricte sphère linguistique.
Animal rights philosophers have traditionally accepted the claim that human beings are unique, but rejected the claim that our uniqueness justifies denying animals moral rights. Humans were thought to be unique specifically because we possess moral agency. In this commentary, I explore the claim that some nonhuman animals are also moral agents, and I take note of its counter-intuitive implications.
This case study analyzes the Fair Trade coffee label "Café Feminino" (as well as Fair Trade more generally) from the perspective of different theories of distributive justice. Its purpose is to serve as a learning tool for students in business ethics courses.
Lorraine Daston's "Against Nature" seeks to explain why, in spite of compelling objections to the contrary, human beings continue to invest nature with moral authority. More specifically, she claims that our propensity to moralize nature is traceable in part to human nature. Though I criticize Daston for not paying adequate attention to John Stuart Mill's narrow sense of 'nature', I also highly recommend her book.
In contemporary debates about justice, political philosophers take themselves to be engaged with a subject that’s narrower than the whole of morality. Many contemporary liberals, notably John Rawls, understand this narrowness in terms of context specificity. On their view, justice is the part of morality that applies to the context of a society’s institutions, but only has indirect application to the context of citizens’ personal lives. In contrast, many value pluralists, notably G.A. Cohen, understand justice’s narrowness in terms of singularity (...) against a plural background. On their view, justice is one fundamental value amongst a plurality of fundamental values. The purpose of my thesis is to establish that the pluralist conception of justice’s narrowness is theoretically significant and true. To establish its theoretical significance, I argue that proper attention to the ways in which different understandings of narrowness inform the work of contemporary egalitarians explains a considerable amount of disagreement between them concerning the content and scope of distributive justice. On the one hand, I’ll argue that if we understand justice’s narrowness in the manner Cohen and other pluralists do, i.e., understand a conception of justice to be a conception of a particular fundamental value, then both luck-egalitarianism and the claim that justice extends to the personal context are compelling. On the other hand, I’ll argue that if we understand justice’s narrowness in a contextual manner, i.e., understand justice to comprise one or more all-things-considered principles adopted for the institutional context, then both luck-egalitarianism and the claim that justice extends to the personal context prove implausible. To establish the truth of the pluralist conception of narrowness, I argue first, that the contextual understanding is only plausible if fairness should be understood procedurally instead of substantively; and second, that substantive fairness cannot be eliminated, as specifying the content of procedural fairness requires a substantive criterion. The upshot is that justice’s narrowness is best understood in terms of singularity against a plural background, rather than in terms of context specificity. (shrink)