A moral code consists of principles that assign moral status to individual actions – principles that evaluate acts as right or wrong, prohibited or obligatory, permissible or supererogatory. Many theorists have held that such principles must serve two distinct functions. On the one hand, they serve a theoretical function, insofar as they specify the characteristics in virtue of which acts possess their moral status. On the other hand, they serve a practical function, insofar as they provide an action-guide: a standard (...) by reference to which a person can choose which acts to perform and which not. Although the theoretical and practical functions of moral principles are closely linked, it is not at all obvious that what enables a principle to fill one of these roles automatically equips it to fill the other. In this paper I shall briefly examine some of the reasons why a moral principle might fail to fill its practical role, i.e., be incapable of guiding decisions. I shall then sketch three common responses to this kind of failure, and examine in some detail the adequacy of one of the most popular of these responses. (shrink)
In "moral arguments" ("mind", 1958), Philippa foot displayed what she claimed to be a deduction of an evaluative conclusion from a non-Evaluative premise. In "freedom and reason", R m hare attacks foot-Style deductions on two grounds: he first offers a "reductio", Comparing them to a racist deduction; he then offers an explanation of where all of these arguments go awry. I argue in my paper's first part that hare's explanation rests upon a defective criterion of entailment. In passing I show (...) how this counts against certain noncognitivist arguments that purport to show that moral judgments cannot be factual. In the second part I show that foot-Style deductions--And the racist deduction as well--Are either unsound or else superfluous to the naturalist's enterprise. From this I draw certain morals as to what conditions a successful naturalism must satisfy. (shrink)
Socrates is one of the most important yet enigmatic philosophers of all time; his fame has endured for centuries despite the fact that he never actually wrote anything. In 399 B.C.E., he was tried on the charge of impiety by the citizens of Athens, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to death (ordered to drink poison derived from hemlock). About these facts there is no disagreement. However, as the sources collected in this book and the scholarly essays that follow them (...) show, several of even the most basic facts about these events were controversial in antiquity, and the questions persist today: How and why was Socrates brought to trial? Why did the jurors, members of the world's first democracy, find him guilty? When he was given an opportunity to escape execution, why did he refuse to do so and instead accept the punishment that he and his friends agreed was unjustly assigned to him? How exactly did Socrates die? Differences of opinion on these and other issues continue to arouse our curiosity and to challenge new generations of students and scholars. The Trial and Execution of Socrates: Sources and Controversies is the first work to collect in one place all of the major ancient sources on Socrates' death--those of both his critics and his defenders--as well as recent scholarly views. Part I includes new translations of Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and the death scene from Phaedo, as well as other ancient sources that shed light on Socrates' trial and execution. Part II features some of the most influential recent scholarship on this historically momentous event with work by M. F. Burnyeat, Robert Parker, Mark L. McPherran, Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, Richard Kraut, Christopher Gill, and Enid Bloch (whose essay is published here for the first time). Ideal for undergraduate surveys of ancient Greek philosophy and upper-level courses on Socrates and Socratic philosophy, this unique collection provides an unprecedented look into the many perplexing questions surrounding the trial and execution of this remarkable man. (shrink)
In the recent spate of philosophers' writing on legal ethics, most contend that lawyers' professional role exposes them to great risk of moral wrongdoing; and some even conclude that the role's demands inevitably corrupt lawyers' characters. In assessing their arguments, I take up three questions: (1) whether philosophers' training and experience give them authority to scold lawyers; (2) whether anything substantive has emerged in the scolding that lawyers are morally bound to take to heart; and (3) whether lawyers ought to (...) defer to philosophers' claims about moral principle. I return a negative answer to each. (shrink)
I argue that, If one adopts a minimal naturalism (of a kind rejected by moore, Hare, "et al".), One would adopt a methodology which yields conclusions identical to that yielded by intuitionistic methodology (of a kind employed by ross, Prichard, "et al".). I dilate upon the advantages which thus accrue to each theory, And I defend my minimal naturalism against a variety of objections.
The question 'Why should I obey the law?' introduces a contemporary puzzle that is as old as philosophy itself. The puzzle is especially troublesome if we think of cases in which breaking the law is not otherwise wrongful, and in which the chances of getting caught are negligible. Philosophers from Socrates to H.L.A. Hart have struggled to give reasoned support to the idea that we do have a general moral duty to obey the law but, more recently, the greater number (...) of learned voices has expressed doubt that there is any such duty, at least as traditionally conceived. (shrink)