Mark C. Murphy addresses the question of how God's ethics differs from human ethics. Murphy suggests that God is not subject to the moral norms to which we humans are subject. This has immediate implications for the argument from evil: we cannot assume that an absolutely perfect being is in any way bound to prevent the evils of this world.
Does God's existence make a difference to how we explain morality? Mark C. Murphy critiques the two dominant theistic accounts of morality--natural law theory and divine command theory--and presents a novel third view. He argues that we can value natural facts about humans and their good, while keeping God at the centre of our moral explanations.
"_The Moment of Complexity_ is a profoundly original work. In remarkable and insightful ways, Mark Taylor traces an entirely new way to view the evolution of our culture, detailing how information theory and the scientific concept of complexity can be used to understand recent developments in the arts and humanities. This book will ultimately be seen as a classic."-John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute, author of _Gödel: A Life of Logic, the Mind, and Mathematics_ The science of complexity accounts (...) for that inscrutable mix of chaos and order that governs our natural world. Complexity explains how networks emerge and function, how species organize into ecosystems, how stars form into galaxies, and how just a few sequences of DNA can account for so many different life forms. Recently, the idea of complexity has taken the worlds of business and politics by storm. The concept is used to account for phenomena as varied as the behavior of the stock market, the response of voting populations, and the effects of risk management. Even Disney has used complexity theory to manage crowd control at its theme parks. Given the startling development of new information technologies, we now live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change occurs faster than our ability to comprehend it. With _The Moment of Complexity_, Mark C. Taylor offers a timely map for this unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture. According to Taylor, complexity is not just a breakthrough scientific concept, but the defining quality of the post-Cold War era. The flux of digital currents swirling around us, he argues, has created a new network culture with its own distinctive logic and dynamic. Drawing on resources from information theory and evolutionary biology, Taylor explains the operation of complex adaptive systems in social and cultural processes and captures a whole new zeitgeist in the making. To appreciate the significance of our emerging network culture, he claims, we need not only to understand contemporary scientific and technological transformations, but also to explore the subtle influences of art, architecture, philosophy, religion, and higher education. _The Moment of Complexity_, then, is a remarkable work of cultural analysis on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how we arrived at this critical moment in our culture, and to know where we might head in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
It is often claimed that John Finnis's natural law theory is detachable from the ultimate theistic explanation that he offers in the final chapter of Natural Law and Natural Rights. My aim in this paper is to think through the question of the detachability of Finnis's theistic explanation of the natural law from the remainder of his natural law view, both in Natural Law and Natural Rights and beyond. I argue that Finnis's theistic explanation of the natural law as actually (...) presented can be, without too much strain, treated as largely detachable in the way that his readers have by and large supposed it to be; indeed, Finnis's account as actually presented really amounts to no explanation of the natural law at all, theistic or otherwise, and that fact accounts in part for the ease with which Finnis's natural law view can be detached from theism of that final chapter. Nevertheless, the considerations raised in that chapter militate in favor of a much more thoroughgoing, largely nondetachable theistic account. And it is just such an account that we find Finnis affirming in the development of his views after Natural Law and Natural Rights. (shrink)
Natural law is a perennial though poorly represented and understood issue in political philosophy and the philosophy of law. In this 2006 book, Mark C. Murphy argues that the central thesis of natural law jurisprudence - that law is backed by decisive reasons for compliance - sets the agenda for natural law political philosophy, demonstrating how law gains its binding force by way of the common good of the political community. Murphy's work ranges over the central questions of natural (...) law jurisprudence and political philosophy, including the formulation and defense of the natural law jurisprudential thesis, the nature of the common good, the connection between the promotion of the common good and requirement of obedience to law, and the justification of punishment. (shrink)
Natural law theory has been undergoing a revival, especially in political philosophy and jurisprudence. Yet, most fundamentally, natural law theory is not a political theory, but a moral theory, or more accurately a theory of practical rationality. According to the natural law account of practical rationality, the basic reasons for actions are basic goods that are grounded in the nature of human beings. Practical rationality aims to identify and characterize reasons for action and to explain how choice between actions worth (...) performing can be appropriately governed by rational standards. These standards are justified by reference to features of the human goods that are the fundamental reasons for action. This book is a defence of a contemporary natural law theory of practical rationality, demonstrating its inherent plausibility and engaging systematically with rival egoist, consequentialist, Kantian and virtue accounts. (shrink)
Explores the strategies of design, contrast, and resonance in the works of Hezel, Heidegger, Bataille, Blanchot, Derrida, and Kierkegaard The history of society and culture is, in large measure, a history of the struggle with the endlessly ...
_A leading thinker asks why “faster” is synonymous with “better” in our hurried world and suggests how to take control of our runaway lives_ We live in an ever-accelerating world: faster computers, markets, food, fashion, product cycles, minds, bodies, kids, lives. When did everything start moving so fast? Why does speed seem so inevitable? Is faster always better? Drawing together developments in religion, philosophy, art, technology, fashion, and finance, Mark C. Taylor presents an original and rich account of a (...) great paradox of our times: how the very forces and technologies that were supposed to free us by saving time and labor now trap us in a race we can never win. The faster we go, the less time we have, and the more we try to catch up, the farther behind we fall. Connecting our speed-obsession with today’s global capitalism, he composes a grand narrative showing how commitments to economic growth and extreme competition, combined with accelerating technological innovation, have brought us close to disaster. Psychologically, environmentally, economically, and culturally, speed is taking a profound toll on our lives. By showing how the phenomenon of speed has emerged, Taylor offers us a chance to see our pace of life as the product of specific ideas, practices, and policies. It’s not inevitable or irreversible. He courageously and movingly invites us to imagine how we might patiently work towards a more deliberative life and sustainable world. (shrink)
It seems to be a widely shared view that any defensible desire-fulfillment theory of welfare must be framed not in terms of what an agent, in fact, desires but rather in terms of what an agent would desire under hypothetical conditions that include improved information. Unfortunately, though, such accounts are subject to serious criticisms. In this paper I show that in the face of these criticisms the best response is to jettison any appeal to idealized information conditions: the considerations put (...) forward in support of the appeal to what would be desired in hypothetical circumstances of improved information do not, in fact, give adequate reason to make that appeal. (shrink)
The age of information, media, and virtuality is transforming every aspect of human experience. Questions that have long haunted the philosophical imagination are becoming urgent practical concerns: Where does the natural end and the artificial begin? Is there a difference between the material and the immaterial? In his new work, Mark C. Taylor extends his ongoing investigation of postmodern worlds by critically examining a wide range of contemporary cultural practices. Nothing defines postmodernism so well as its refusal of depth, (...) its emphasis on appearance and spectacle, its tendency to collapse a three-dimensional world in which image and reality are distinct into a two-dimensional world in which they merge. The postmodern world, Taylor argues, is a world of surfaces, and the postmodern condition is one of profound superficiality. For many cultural commentators, postmodernism's inescapable play of surfaces is cause for despair. Taylor, on the other hand, shows that the disappearance of depth in postmodern culture is actually a liberation repleat with creative possibilities. Taylor introduces readers to a popular culture in which detectives--the postmodern heroes of Paul Auster and Dennis Potter--lift surfaces only to find more surfaces, and in which fashion advertising plays transparency against hiding. Taylor looks at the contemporary preoccupation with body piercing and tattooing, and asks whether these practices actually reveal or conceal. Phrenology and skin diseases, the "religious" architecture of Las Vegas, the limitless spread of computer networks--all are brought within the scope of Taylor's brilliant analysis. Postmodernism, he shows, has given us a new sense of the superficial, one in which the issue is not the absence of meaning but its uncontrollable, ecstatic proliferation. Embodying the very tendencies it analyzes, Hiding is unique. Conceived and developed with well-known designers Michael Rock and Susan Sellars, this work transgresses the boundary that customarily separates graphic design from the story within a text. The product of nearly three decades of reflection and writing, Hiding opens a window on contemporary culture. To follow the remarkable course Taylor charts is to see both our present and past differently and to encounter a future as disorienting as it is alluring. (shrink)
"There is no rigorous and effective deconstruction without the faithful memory of philosophies and literatures, without the respectful and competent reading of texts of the past, as well as singular works of our own time. Deconstruction is also a certain thinking about tradition and context. Mark Taylor evokes this with great clarity in the course of a remarkable introduction. He reconstitutes a set of premises without which no deconstruction could have seen the light of day." – _Jacques Derrida __"This (...) invaluable philosophical sampler brings together many of the threads out of which deconstruction is woven. taylor's anthology does not make deconstruction easy; much more usefully, it provides a meticulous guide to the sources – and significance – of the difficulties. – Barbara E. Johnson _"The book will be of great value as a set of readings with authoritative explanation for all those interested in the current relations of literature and philosophy. It is the best book of its kind I know. – _J. Hillis Miller, Yale University_. (shrink)
In this article I consider the respective merits of three interpretations of divine command theory. On DCT1, S’s being morally obligated to φ depends on God’s command that S φ; on DCT2, that moral obligation depends on God’s willing that S be morally obligated to φ; on DCT3, that moral obligation depends on God’s willing that S φ. I argue that the positive reasons that have been brought forward in favor of DCT1 have implications theists would find disturbing and that (...) the positive reasons brought forward in favor of DCT2 support only a weak formulation of DCT2 that is indistinguishable from other theistic moral theories. DCT3 is, however, a distinctive theory that theists have strong reasons to affirm. (shrink)
Some business schools have integrated business ethics issues into their core functional courses rather than simply offering a separate ethics course. To accommodate such a strategy, functional faculty members usually teach ethical issues, a task for which they are rarely trained. However, learning materials are available: some core course textbooks provide additional coverage of ethics, and case studies (and accompanying teaching notes for instructors) are also available which cover ethical issues.This paper reports on an analysis of these materials. We find (...) that a sample of the leading textbooks provides only very superficial coverage of ethical issues. Cases provide a wide range of issues suitable for class discussion, but their teaching notes in many cases provide little guidance for instructors unfamiliar with teaching ethics. Thus there remains a need for teaching resources for business faculty new to teaching ethics. (shrink)
The penal substitution account of the Atonement fails for conceptual reasons: punishment is expressive action, condemning the party punished, and so is not transferable from a guilty to an innocent party. But there is a relative to the penal substitution view, the vicarious punishment account, that is neither conceptually nor morally objectionable. On this view, the guilty person’s punishment consists in the suffering of an innocent to whom he or she bears a special relationship. Sinful humanity is punished through the (...) inglorious death of Jesus Christ; ill-desert is thus requited, and an obstacle to unity with God is overcome. (shrink)
With fundamentalists dominating the headlines and scientists arguing about the biological and neurological basis of faith, religion is the topic of the day. But religion, Mark C. Taylor shows, is more complicated than either its defenders or critics think and, indeed, is much more influential than any of us realize. Our world, Taylor maintains, is shaped by religion even when it is least obvious. Faith and value, he insists, are unavoidable and inextricably interrelated for believers and nonbelievers alike. Using (...) scientific theories of dynamical systems and complex adaptive networks for cultural and theological analysis, After God redefines religion for our contemporary age. Taylor begins by asking a critical question: What is religion? He then proceeds to explain how Protestant ideas in particular undergird the character and structure of our global information society—the Reformation, Taylor argues, was an information and communications revolution that effectively prepared the way for the media revolution at the end of the twentieth century. Taylor’s breathtaking account of religious ideas allows us to understand for the first time that contemporary notions of atheism and the secular are already implicit in classical Christology and Trinitarian theology. Weaving together theoretical analysis and historical interpretation, Taylor demonstrates the codependence and coevolution of traditional religious beliefs and practices with modern literature, art, architecture, information technologies, media, financial markets, and theoretical biology. After God concludes with prescriptions for new ways of thinking and acting. If we are to negotiate the perils of the twenty-first century, Taylor contends, we must refigure the symbolic networks that inform our policies and guide our actions. A religion without God creates the possibility of an ethics without absolutes that leads to the promotion of creativity and life in an ever more fragile world. The first comprehensive theology of culture since the pioneering work of Paul Tillich, After God is a radical reconceptualization of religion and Taylor’s most pathbreaking work yet, bringing together various strands of theological argument and cultural analysis four decades in the making. (shrink)
Many advocate practices of ‘local food’ or ‘locavorism’ as a partial solution to the injustices and unsustainability of contemporary food systems. I think that there is much to be said in favor of local food movements, but these virtues are insufficient to immunize locavorism from criticism. In particular, three duties of international ethics—beneficence, repair and fairness—may provide reasons for constraining the developed world’s permissible pursuit of local food. A complete account of why (and how) the fulfillment of these duties constrains (...) locavorism will require extensive empirical evidence about the relationship between agricultural demand-led industrialization, international trade (rules), and local food practices. In this paper I can only gesture at some of this evidence and, for that reason, my policy prescriptions are merely provisional. Instead, the upshot of this paper is that advocates of locavorism ought to be attentive to the empirical-dependence of the moral permissibility of their projects. As local food ‘scales up’—and comes to be embraced as a goal of political communities—these concerns should receive even greater attention. (shrink)
Nots is a virtuoso exploration of negation and negativity in theology, philosophy, art, architecture, postmodern culture, and medicine. In nine essays that range from nihility in Buddhism to the embodiment of negativity in disease, Mark C. Taylor looks at the surprising ways in which contrasting concepts of negativity intersect. In the first section of this book, Taylor discusses the question of the "not" in the religious thought of Anselm, Hegel, Derrida, and Nishitani. In the second part, he analyzes artistic (...) efforts "to figure not" in the work of artists Arakawa and Madeline Gins, architect Daniel Libeskind, pop artist David Sallee, and pop icon Madonna. The final section consists of a deeply personal and scientifically informed chapter that discusses the workings of negativity in immunology and illness. Taylor's essays work toward a sense of the not as unnameable as it is irrepressible--an "unthinkable third" that falls between being and nonbeing. Bringing together concerns that span Taylor's early investigations of Hegel and Kierkegaard and recent studies of art and architecture, Nots is an important contribution by one of the most original and distinctive voices now writing on the American scene. Religion and Postmodernism series. (shrink)
Taylor (humanities and religion, Williams College, Massachusetts) reconsiders the two philosophers based on the notion that all modern philosophy lies between the poles of their thought. He has added a new introduction to the 1980 original edition.
He notes that the order of the book is random and arbitrary, and that there is no unity, thematic or otherwise--an innovative approach to making sense of the universe. Several of the dozen essays have been previously published. No index.
In addressing objections to the theological voluntarist program, the consensus response by defenders of theological voluntarism has been to affirm a restricted theological voluntarism on which some, but not all, important normative statuses are to be explained by immediate appeal to the divine will. The aim of this article is to assess the merits and demerits of this restricted view. While affirming the restricted view does free theological voluntarism from certain objections, it comes at the cost of committing the theological (...) voluntarist to the view that no theses about the divine nature itself could alone be sufficient to motivate a theological voluntarist thesis about any normative status. And when we examine the case for a theological voluntarist account of any particular normative status – say, rightness, or obligatoriness – there are severe difficulties with that case as it stands. It is thus unclear whether the theological voluntarist program of providing good reasons to affirm a voluntarist explanation of non‐trivially‐theistic normative statuses has borne fruit. (shrink)
_The Philosophy of Law_ is a broad-reaching text that guides readers through the basic analytical and normative issues in the field, highlighting key historical and contemporary thinkers and offering a unified treatment of the various issues in the philosophy of law. Enlivened with numerous, everyday examples to illustrate various concepts of law. Employs the idea of three central commonplaces about law - that law is a social matter, that law is authoritative, and that law is for the common good - (...) to organize seemingly disparate topics and to bring rival views into contention with each other. The first volume in the _Fundamentals of Philosophy _series, in which leading philosophers explore the fundamental issues and core problems in the major sub-disciplines of philosophy. (shrink)
This chapter examines two different views of universal grammar. Most linguists assume that universal grammar is underspecified — providing us with an incomplete grammar to be elaborated by learning. But the alternative is that it is overspecified — providing us with a full range of possible grammars from which we select one on the basis of environmental input. Underspecification is now the dominant view in the developmental sciences, and is often treated as the null hypothesis on grounds of greater possibility, (...) parsimony, and simplicity. The chapter questions whether the underspecification view is really feasible and whether it is more parsimonious than the overspecification view, drawing on examples from certain African languages. It also shows that the perplexity evoked by overspecification theories disappears if language has a concealing purpose as well as a communicating purpose, similar to a code. (shrink)
NATURAL LAW ARGUMENTS CONCERNING the political order characteristically appeal, at some point or other, to the common good of the political community. To take the clearest example: Aquinas, perhaps the paradigmatic natural law theorist, appeals to the common good in his accounts of the definition of law, of the need for political authority, of the moral requirement to adhere to the dictates issued by political authority, and of the form political authority should take. But while united on the point that (...) arguments for normative political conclusions must take the common good as a principle, natural law theorists have not been united in their understanding of the nature of the common good. The differences among natural law views on the character of the common good are not trivial: they concern such deep issues as whether the common good should be understood as an intrinsic or an instrumental good, and whether the common good should be understood in relation to the good of individuals of that community or solely in relation to the good of the community as a whole. If one aims to develop a natural law account of the political order, then, one cannot remain neutral with respect to the various natural law understandings of the common good, for these various understandings are almost certain to yield differing conclusions on the source, functions, and limits of political authority. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to take the first steps toward providing a refurbished consent theory of political authority, one that rests in part on a reconception of the relationship between the surrender of judgment and the authoritativeness of political institutions. On the standard view, whatever grounds political authority implies that one ought to surrender one's judgment to that of one's political institutions. On the refurbished view, it is the surrender of one's judgment – which can plausibly be considered (...) a form of consent – that makes political institutions practically authoritative. (shrink)
My aim is to defend the conscience principle: One ought never to act against the dictates of one’s conscience. In the first part of this paper, I explain what I mean by “conscience” and “dictate of conscience,” and I show that the notion that the conscience principle is inherently anti-authoritarian or inherently fanatical is mistaken. In the second part, I argue that the existence of mistaken conscience does not reduce the conscience principle to absurdity. In the third part, I present (...) two arguments for the plausibility of that principle. (shrink)