Commentators disagree about the extent to which Kant's ethics is compatible with consequentialism. A question that has not yet been asked is whether Kant had a view of his own regarding the fundamental difference between his ethical theory and a broadly consequentialist one. In this paper I argue that Kant does have such a view. I illustrate this by discussing his response to a well-known objection to his moral theory, namely that Kant offers an implicitly consequentialist theory of moral appraisal. (...) This objection was most famously raised by J.S. Mill and Arthur Schopenhauer, but also during Kant's time by H.A. Pistorius and G.A. Tittel. I show that Kant's response to this objection in the second Critique illustrates that he sees the fundamental difference between his own moral theory and a broadly consequentialist one to be one that concerns methodology. (shrink)
The societal and ethical impacts of emerging technological and business systems cannot entirely be foreseen; therefore, management of these innovations will require at least some ethicists to work closely with researchers. This is particularly critical in the development of new systems because the maximum degrees of freedom for changing technological direction occurs at or just after the point of breakthrough; that is also the point where the long-term implications are hardest to visualize. Recent work on shared expertise in Science & (...) Technology Studies (STS) can help create productive collaborations among scientists, engineers, ethicists and other stakeholders as these new systems are designed and implemented. But collaboration across these disciplines will be successful only if scientists, engineers, and ethicists can communicate meaningfully with each other. The establishment of a trading zone coupled with moral imagination present one method for such collaborative communication. (shrink)
Ronald Dworkin’s ‘right answer thesis’ states that there are objectively right answers to most legal cases, even in hard cases where there is deep and intractable disagreement over what the law requires. Dworkin also believes that when deciding cases in law judges and lawyers must necessarily take moral considerations into account. This is problematic, however, for if moral considerations come into play when legal decisions are made, then there can only be a single right answer as a matter of law (...) if there is a single right answer to the relevant moral question; Dworkin’s right answer thesis implies that morality is objective. Arguing against Brian Leiter’s claim that the only plausible conception of objective truth in ‘evaluative’ domains is one modeled on the conception operative in ‘hard’ domains such as science. The following paper will show that this scientific understanding of objectivity is inappropriate for evaluative domains such as morality and law. I demonstrate that, contrary to people like Leiter and John Mackie, this conclusion does not preclude the possibility of objective moral truth. I argue that the conception of objectivity that Dworkin believes is appropriate for domains such as morality and law is a legitimate one, and also that it is one we ought to embrace so that we may indeed speak of objectively ‘right’ answers to legal cases, so that the possibility of law itself is not compromised, and so the state’s authority is made legitimate. (shrink)
Throughout Theodor Adorno’s Negative Dialectics moral philosophy is discussed only indirectly, as a subject which is relevant to the more primary discussions of freedom and world history, among others. In the relatively recently released English translation of the History and Freedom lectures, however, moral philosophy is more explicitly discussed, but even there its subject matter is of secondary importance to the more fundamental discussions of the philosophy of history and of freedom. In fact, that moral philosophy is an auxiliary concern (...) in these lectures reveals much about how Adorno views moral philosophy. Perhaps a trivial detail but revealing nonetheless, the lecture entitled ‘Transition to Moral Philosophy’ points to something quite essential about Adorno’s moral philosophy. In this lecture Adorno attempts to show that his previous discussions of the philosophy of history have direct bearing on the concept of freedom. He claims that his task is to articulate “what we [can glean]…about the problem of freedom, from the discussions of the philosophy of history” (HF, 177). Adorno rightfully believes that freedom, the ability to act (in some way) without being determined to do so, is a precondition of one’s actions being considered on moral grounds, of one being held morally accountable for such actions. Surely, therefore, it is appropriate that a transition takes place from discussing freedom to discussing moral philosophy. There is something else going on here, however, that reveals the peculiar nature of Adorno’s moral philosophy. The above quote reveals that the philosophy of history conditions the problem of freedom, and therefore moral philosophy for Adorno. The following paper attempts to show how Adorno’s moral philosophy is situated within his more foundational considerations of the philosophy of history and of freedom. As a result of it being so situated it also attempts to argue that the History and Freedom lectures reveal that the task for moral philosophy is the critique of moral philosophy. (shrink)
The author attempts to apply semiotic analysis to a question of family law. By examining the language used by the Supreme Court in the title case, Michael H. v. Gerald D., along with the case briefs, lower court opinions, other Supreme Court cases and prior legal scholarship, the author attempts to determine the requisite relationships between father–child and father–mother in order for a legal tie to exist between a father and his biological child. The author tries to not only (...) determine the necessary circumstances but also the political ideology that distinguishes these familial ties. The author further attempts to analyze the goals of these underlying political ideologies. (shrink)
This essay discusses historical data that help establish the time at which the Christian theologian and moral philosopher H. Richard Niebuhr became acquainted with Michael Polanyi’s thought. It also briefly examines the ways in which Polanyi’s philosophical ideas are used in the late publications of Niebuhr.
This essay provides a timeline charting contact between Michael Polanyi and William H. Poteat. We trace the contours of the intimate, multifaceted, and mutually influential friendship of Polanyi and Poteat which developed over more than twenty years.