Mary Warnock steers a clear path through the web of complex issues underlying the use of new reproductive technologies. She begins by analysing what it means to claim something as a 'right', and goes on to discuss the cases of different groups of people. She also examines the ethical problems faced by particular types of assisted reproduction, including artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogacy, and argues that in the future human cloning may well be a viable and acceptable form of (...) treatment for some types of infertility. (shrink)
The Critique of Dialectical Reason was first published in France twenty years ago, in 1960. The book, we know from Simone de Beauvoir, was flung together in a hurry, written virtually without correction during the height of the Algerian war, a period, for Sartre, of stress and anxious stock-taking of his position as a Marxist and a long-term non-joiner of the Communist Party. The whole sense in which, in 1960, Sartre was a Marxist, the question of precisely how eccentric his (...) kind of Marxism was, is centred on his theory of historical explanation. I do not propose to raise many detailed questions about the relation of Sartre's views on history to those of Marx himself, still less to those of other Marxists. Ignorance alone would rule out such a course. I would like if I can, however, to consider Sartre's own view of historical explanation as it appears in the Critique , and leave it to others if they wish to fit it into the Marxist tradition, or exclude it. In order to perform this relatively modest expository task, it will be necessary for me to refer, from time to time, to Sartre's earlier philosophical views. But this will come in incidentally. (shrink)
_Imagination_ is an outstanding contribution to a notoriously elusive and confusing subject. It skillfully interrelates problems in philosophy, the history of ideas and literary theory and criticism, tracing the evolution of the concept of imagination from Hume and Kant in the eighteenth century to Ryle, Sartre and Wittgenstein in the twentieth. She strongly belies that the cultivation of imagination should be the chief aim of education and one of her objectives in writing the book has been to put forward reasons (...) why this is so. Purely philosophical treatment of the concept is shown to be related to its use in the work of Coleridge and Wordsworth, who she considers to be the creators of a new kind of awareness with more than literary implications. The purpose of her historical account is to suggest that the role of imagination in our perception and thought is more pervasive than may at first sight appear, and that the thread she traces is an important link joining apparently different areas of our experience. She argues that imagination is an essential element in both our awareness of the world and our attaching of value to it. (shrink)
Existentialism enjoyed great popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, and has probably had a greater impact upon literature than any other kind of philosophy. The common interest which unites Existentialist philosophers is their interest in human freedom. Readers of Existentialist philosophy are being asked, not merely to contemplate the nature of freedom, but to experience freedom, and to practise it. -/- In this survey, Mary Warnock begins by considering the ethical origins of Existentialism, with particular reference to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, (...) and outlines the importance of a systematic account of man's connection with the world as expounded by Husserl. She discusses at length the common interests and ancestry of Existentialism in the works of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre, and offers some conclusions about the current nature and future of this committed and practical philosophy. -/- This revised edition includes a postscript reviewing the status of Existentialism in the 1990s, and has a thoroughly updated bibliography. (shrink)
Fundamental principles : the nature of the dispute -- Types of euthanasia -- Psychiatric assisted suicide -- Neonates -- Incompetent adults -- Human life is sacred -- The slippery slope -- Medical views -- Four methods of easing death and their effect on doctors -- Looking further ahead.
All religion and much philosophy has been concerned with the contrast between the ephemeral and the eternal. Human beings have always sought ways to overcome time, and to prove that death is not the end. This book consists then in an exploration of certain closely related ideas: personal identity, time, history and our commitment to the future, and the role of imagination in life.
There is an argument often deployed by those who object to the rapid advances in technology, whether in agriculture and animal husbandry or in medicine, that some procedure is ‘unnatural’, and therefore should not be actually prohibited. An attempt is made to analyse and appraise the moral force, if any, of the dichotomy ‘natural’/‘unnatural’, especially in the area of assisted conception. The emotional resonances of the concept of Nature are partially explored, and found to be deep-seated and various, but not (...) of themselves the source of moral imperatives. Footnotes1 Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Lecture, 2002. (shrink)
Some argue that genetic engineering and other scientific practices are morally wrong because they are ‘unnatural’. Prince Charles took this line in his 2000 Reith Lecture. But as Mary Warnock here points out, attempts to justify the moral condemnation of a practice on the grounds that it is ‘contrary to nature’ are notoriously difficult to sustain.
My topic may seem a bizarre mixture of epistemology and value theory; and perhaps it is best to acknowledge this oddity at once. I should also, perhaps, confess that such a mixture has always seemed something to aspire to. Any philosopher who has made it seem that feeling strongly about something, valuing it highly, is an inevitable consequence of the nature of human understanding , that from the facts of knowledge or perception one can derive the inescapable facts of emotion (...) or desire, any such philosopher has always deeply appealed to me. I am therefore a confessed perpetrator of the naturalistic fallacy. Indeed I go further, and say that I love the fallacy. So Spinoza, Hume and Sartre all seem to me to be real philosophers, on the grounds that for them this connexion between knowing and wanting seemed inevitable. My aim is to illustrate this kind of connexion by suggesting that the human imagination is such that we ought to value it and respect it more highly than anything else; and that therefore, if it can be educated and improved, it is to this education that we should give priority, if we are concerned with education at all. It may seem on the face of it absurd to say that we ought to value any particular human faculty or capacity. It may be thought that this is not the kind of object or evaluation with which at any rate philosophers should be concerned. But the fact is, of course, that we do value very highly indeed all kinds of capacities that we have, such as sight, and hearing and understanding. And being unashamedly naturalistic, I have no hesitation in saying not only that we do value them, but that we ought to; they are, in every sense, valuable. (shrink)