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)
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 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.
Philosopher Lawrence Becker applies modern knowledge and psychology to the ancient stoic ethic system. In keeping with the ancients, Becker argues that virtue, not happiness, is the proper end of all activity. Moreover, he rejects the popular caricature of the stoic as a grave and emotionally detached figure, proposing instead, that stoic discipline is the very foundation not only of strength, but also of joy.
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)
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.
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)
What would stoic ethics be like today if stoicism had survived as a systematic approach to ethical theory, if it had coped successfully with the challenges of modern philosophy and experimental science? A New Stoicism proposes an answer to that question, offered from within the stoic tradition but without the metaphysical and psychological assumptions that modern philosophy and science have abandoned. Lawrence Becker argues that a secular version of the stoic ethical project, based on contemporary cosmology and developmental psychology, provides (...) the basis for a sophisticated form of ethical naturalism, in which virtually all the hard doctrines of the ancient Stoics can be clearly restated and defended. Becker argues, in keeping with the ancients, that virtue is one thing, not many; that it, and not happiness, is the proper end of all activity; that it alone is good, all other things being merely rank-ordered relative to each other for the sake of the good; and that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Moreover, he rejects the popular caricature of the stoic as a grave figure, emotionally detached and capable mainly of endurance, resignation, and coping with pain. To the contrary, he holds that while stoic sages are able to endure the extremes of human suffering, they do not have to sacrifice joy to have that ability, and he seeks to turn our attention from the familiar, therapeutic part of stoic moral training to a reconsideration of its theoretical foundations. (shrink)
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)
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)
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 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)
This is a newly revised and updated edition of A History of Western Ethics, a coherent and accessible overview of the most important figures and influential ideas of the history of ethics in the Western philosophical tradition. Written by eleven distinguished scholars, and including a glossary of key terms, this book is an essential reference for students and general readers alike.
Much discussion of morality presupposes that moral judgments are always, at bottom, arbitrary. Moral scepticism, or at least moral relativism, has become common currency among the liberally educated. This remains the case even while political crises become intractable, and it is increasingly apparent that the scope of public policy formulated with no reference to moral justification is extremely limited. The thesis of On Justifying Moral Judgments insists, on the contrary, that rigorous justifications are possible for moral judgments. Crucially, Becker argues (...) for the coordination of the three main approaches to moral theory: axiology, deontology, and agent morality. A pluralistic account of the concept of value is expounded, and a solution to the problem of ultimate justification is suggested. Analyses of valuation, evaluation, the 'is-ought' issue, and the concepts of obligation, responsibility and the good person are all incorporated into the main line of argument. (shrink)
In her many articles on the subject, Trudy Govier has made a substantial contribution to the recent philosophical literature on trust—not only to the discussion kindled by Annette Baier's provocative article "Trust and Anti-Trust", but to the larger, much older, low-intensity discussion among social scientists and philosophers about the relation between trust and effective government, stable social relationships, and psychological health. This book is devoted to the varieties and uses of trust in various largely non-intimate social relationships, ranging from the (...) mundane, casual, or routine interactions of daily life to international affairs. The book is primarily expository, though there are occasional passages of conceptual analysis and some criticism of the work of others. Govier says, in her Preface, that. (shrink)