How should we respond to individuals with disabilities? What does it mean to be disabled? Over fifty million Americans, from neonates to the fragile elderly, are disabled. Some people say they have the right to full social participation, while others repudiate such claims as delusive or dangerous. In this compelling book, three experts in ethics, medicine, and the law address pressing disability questions in bioethics and public policy. Anita Silvers, David Wasserman, and Mary B. Mahowald test important theories of justice (...) by bringing them to bear on subjects of concern in a wide variety of disciplines dealing with disability. They do so in the light of recent advances in feminist, minority, and cultural studies, and of the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act. (shrink)
The tendency to reciprocate – to return good for good and evil for evil – is a potent force in human life, and the concept of reciprocity is closely connected to fundamental notions of ‘justice’, ‘obligation’ or ‘duty’, ‘gratitude’ and ‘equality’. In _Reciprocity_, first published in 1986,_ _Lawrence Becker presents a sustained argument about reciprocity, beginning with the strategy for developing a moral theory of the virtues. He considers the concept of reciprocity in detail, contending that it is a basic (...) virtue that provides the basis for parental authority, obligations to future generations, and obedience to law. Throughout the first two parts of the book, Becker intersperses short pieces of his own narrative fiction to enrich reflection on the philosophical arguments. The final part is devoted to extensive bibliographical essays, ranging over anthropology, psychology, political theory and law, as well as the relevant ethics and political philosophy. (shrink)
_Property Rights: Philosophic Foundations,_ first published in 1977, comprehensively examines the general justifications for systems of private property rights, and discusses with great clarity the major arguments as to the rights and responsibilities of property ownership. In particular, the arguments that hold that there are natural rights derived from first occupancy, labour, utility, liberty and virtue are considered, as are the standard anti-property arguments based on disutility, virtue and inequality, and the belief that justice in distribution must take precedence over (...) private ownership. Lawrence Becker goes on to contend that there are four sound lines of argument for private property that, together with what is sound in the anti-property arguments, must be co-ordinated to form the foundations of a new theory. He therefore expounds a concise but sophisticated theory of property that is relevant to the modern world, and concludes by indicating some of the implications of his theory. (shrink)
The question addressed by this book is what, if anything, stoic ethics would be like today if stoicism had had a continuous history to the present day as a plausible and coherent set of philosophical commitments and methods. The book answers that question by arguing that most of the ancient doctrines of Stoic ethics remain defensible today, at least when ancient Stoicism's cosmological commitments are replaced by modern scientific ones.
The editors, working with a team of 325 renowned authorities in the field of ethics, have revised, expanded, and updated this classic encyclopedia. Along with the addition of 150 new entries, all of the original articles have been newly peer-reviewed and revised, bibliographies have been updated throughout, and the overall design of the work has been enhanced for easier access to cross-references and other reference features. New entries include * Aristotelian Ethics * Avicenna * Bad Faith * Beneficence * Categorical (...) and Hypothetical Imperatives * Cheating * Civil Liberty * Conventions * Dirty hands * Evolution * Fiduciary Relationships * Gay ethics * Genetic Engineering * Holocaust * Journalism * Killing/Letting Die * Moral Imagination * Narrative Ethics * Political correctness * Population Ethics * Public and 0rivate Morality * Racism, concepts of * and many more. (shrink)
A philosophical essay under this title faces severe rhetorical challenges. New accounts of the good life regularly and rapidly turn out to be variations of old ones, subject to a predictable range of decisive objections. Attempts to meet those objections with improved accounts regularly and rapidly lead to a familiar impasse — that while a life of contemplation, or epicurean contentment, or stoic indifference, or religious ecstasy, or creative rebellion, or self-actualization, or many another thing might count as a good (...) life, none of them can plausibly be identified with the good life, or the best life. Given the long history of that impasse, it seems futile to offer yet another candidate for the genus “good life” as if that candidate might be new, or philosophically defensible. And given the weariness, irony, and self-deprecation expected of a philosopher in such an impasse, it is difficult for any substantive proposal on this topic to avoid seeming pretentious. (shrink)
This symposium paper for the APA analyzes Locke's labor theory of property acquisition as a formal argument – or set of alternative arguments – and shows how several of them are indeed sound, if appropriately limited by what amounts to a social welfare proviso. That proviso is, however, strong enough to limit the acquisition of private property in a significant way. The argument here anticipates fuller and more decisive ones in later work by the same author.
The aim of Becker’s book is to bring stoicism up to date and to defend a contemporary stoic ethical theory against the prejudices of the skeptical modern reader. Becker imagines what would have happened if stoicism had had a continuous history from ancient times to the present. Since the stoics are thoroughgoing naturalists, according to Becker, they would have incorporated the insights of modern biology and psychology into their theory. They would have abandoned their teleological view of the universe and (...) they would have expanded their account of human psychological development using the latest textbooks in psychology. Stoics are often caricatured as leading bleak lives of forbearance and denial. According to Becker, modern stoics, in favorable circumstances, can enjoy life as much as anyone else and, like their ancient counterparts, can hail from all walks of life. Modern stoicism does not require that one always be cool and detached. Instead, one should be so only when the situation demands it. Nor does modern stoicism require that one lower one’s sights in order not to be disappointed. Instead, it merely enjoins one not to attempt the impossible. Modern stoics are determinists, not fatalists. Finally, despite the comments on the book jacket, modern stoics do not believe that virtue is the only good, although they still believe that virtue is a unique, unconditional, and incommensurable good. (shrink)
As one of the most important ethicists to emerge since the Second World War, Alan Gewirth continues to influence philosophical debates concerning morality. In this ground-breaking book, Gewirth's neo-Kantianism, and the communitarian problems discussed, form a dialogue on the foundation of moral theory. Themes of agent-centered constraints, the formal structure of theories, and the relationship between freedom and duty are examined along with such new perspectives as feminism, the Stoics, and Sartre. Gewirth offers a picture of the philosopher's theory and (...) its applications, providing a richer, more complete critical assessement than any which has occurred to date. (shrink)
This book argues for adopting a new account of the circumstances of justice ("the habilitation framework") for philosophical theories of basic justice. It proposes a concept of basic health as a metric for such theories, and healthy agency as a target for them. It does not, however, propose a specific distributive rule or set of distributive principles. Nor does it propose a specific type of theory to pursue (e.g., utilitarian, contractarian, etc.). The book is thus meant to be largely theory-independent (...) respect to standard normative theories. (shrink)
This unpublished paper from 2004 argues that the agenda for positive psychology laid out by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman in their massive work Character Strengths and Virtues: a Handbook and Classification (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) might be improved by making several conceptual changes: 1) by developing general concepts of virtue (singular), and of positive health to clarify the relationships between specific virtues and competing conceptions of positive health; 2) by aligning the project more firmly with eudaimonistic accounts (...) of virtue that fit comfortably with scientific psychology; and 3) by aligning the project more firmly with the health sciences than with ethics and philosophy generally. The paper was developed from a talk prepared for the Working Conference on The Philosophical History of Character Strengths and Virtues, The University of Pennsylvania, September 2-4, 2004. (shrink)
When philosophers speak of the inconclusiveness of arguments for the existence of God, they often do so as if they were talking about a matter of principle—as if it were in principle impossible to prove God's existence, that every proof was in principle inconclusive. Of course, rebutals of the cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments are usually designed to show that these types of arguments are in principle inconclusive. But one supposes that religious experience arguments are not all in such difficulties. (...) That is, one supposes, for example, that an encounter with the deity would provide a proof of his existence which is at least as conclusive as proofs for the existence of an ‘external world’. And thus it would be false to maintain in an unqualified way that ‘Reason cannot prove the existence of God’. The most one would be able to say would be that at present , or in terms of the currently available evidence, no one can prove God's existence. Further, whether or not sufficient evidence has ever been available in the past would be seen as an historical question— a matter of contingencies, not logical possibilities. (shrink)
For the philosophy of medicine, there are two things of interest about the stoic account of moral norms, quite apart from whether the rest of stoic ethical theory is compelling. One is the stoic version of naturalism: its account of practical reasoning, its solution to the is/ought problem, and its contention that norms for creating, sustaining, or restoring human health are tantamount to moral norms. The other is the stoic account of human agency: its description of the intimate connections between (...) human health, rational agency, and moral norms. There is practical guidance to be gained from exploring those connections, whether or not one is ready to follow stoic moral theory all the way to its austere end. (shrink)
This brief, elegantly written book puts forward a view of normative reasoning--a view White calls "corporatism"--based upon an analogy with certain views about reasoning in the empirical sciences. Duhem and Quine have argued that an empirical statement is not tested, accepted, or rejected in isolation from other beliefs. Rather, it is seen in the context of a web of related beliefs, assumptions, and sense experiences--even relevant laws of logic--and the testing process is essentially the process of deciding which, of all (...) those items, "must" or "ought to be" accepted or rejected. Moral reasoning, White thinks, is similar. Moral judgments are always assessed in a context which includes moral feelings of sentiments and empirical beliefs. Their assessment is essentially the process of deciding which, of all of those items, must be accepted, revised, or rejected. One of White's examples concerns abortion. The relevant normative judgments include the prohibition of homicides of certain sorts, the relevant empirical beliefs have to do with developmental biology, medicine, intention, and the like; the relevant moral feelings include a sense of obligation. Moral judgments drawn from the conjunction of such "premises" may set up conflicting feelings, or the premises themselves may be inconsistent. In such cases something must give: deciding just what must give is analogous to deciding what beliefs to give up when scientific experiments yield anomalous results. (shrink)
This book is a systematic introduction to the outlines of contemporary analytical and normative jurisprudence, intended for use in introductory courses in which philosophy of law plays a role. It is clearly written, concise, and organized in a way that fits with major books of readings in philosophy of law.