This co-edited volume compares Chinese and Western experiences of engineering, technology, and development. In doing so, it builds a bridge between the East and West and advances a dialogue in the philosophy of engineering. Divided into three parts, the book starts with studies on epistemological and ontological issues, with a special focus on engineering design, creativity, management, feasibility, and sustainability. Part II considers relationships between the history and philosophy of engineering, and includes a general argument for the necessity of dialogue (...) between history and philosophy. It continues with a general introduction to traditional Chinese attitudes toward engineering and technology, and philosophical case studies of the Chinese steel industry, railroads, and cybernetics in the Soviet Union. Part III focuses on engineering, ethics, and society, with chapters on engineering education and practice in China and the West. The book’s analyses of the interactions of science, engineering, ethics, politics, and policy in different societal contexts are of special interest. The volume as a whole marks a new stage in the emergence of the philosophy of engineering as a new regionalization of philosophy. This carefully edited interdisciplinary volume grew out of an international conference on the philosophy of engineering hosted by the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. It includes 30 contributions by leading philosophers, social scientists, and engineers from Australia, China, Europe, and the United States. (shrink)
Michael J. Zimmerman explores whether and how our ignorance about ourselves and our circumstances affects what our moral obligations and moral rights are. He rejects objective and subjective views of the nature of moral obligation, and presents a new case for a 'prospective' view.
At the heart of ethics reside the concepts of good and bad; they are at work when we assess whether a person is virtuous or vicious, an act right or wrong, a decision defensible or indefensible, a goal desirable or undesirable. But there are many varieties of goodness and badness. At their core lie intrinsic goodness and badness, the sort of value that something has for its own sake. It is in virtue of intrinsic value that other types of value (...) may be understood, and hence that we can begin to come to terms with questions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and so on. This book investigates the nature of intrinsic value: just what it is for something to be valuable for its own sake, just what sort of thing can have such value, just how such a value is to be computed. In the final chapter, the fruits of this investigation are applied to a discussion of pleasure, pain, and displeasure and also of moral virtue and vice, in order to determine just what value lies within these phenomena. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss ethical implications of the use of mobile phone apps in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact tracing is a well-established feature of public health practice during infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics. However, the high proportion of pre-symptomatic transmission in COVID-19 means that standard contact tracing methods are too slow to stop the progression of infection through the population. To address this problem, many countries around the world have deployed or are developing mobile phone apps (...) capable of supporting instantaneous contact tracing. Informed by the on-going mapping of ‘proximity events’ these apps are intended both to inform public health policy and to provide alerts to individuals who have been in contact with a person with the infection. The proposed use of mobile phone data for ‘intelligent physical distancing’ in such contexts raises a number of important ethical questions. In our paper, we outline some ethical considerations that need to be addressed in any deployment of this kind of approach as part of a multidimensional public health response. We also, briefly, explore the implications for its use in future infectious disease outbreaks. (shrink)
The idea that immoral behaviour can sometimes be admirable, and that moral behaviour can sometimes be less than admirable, has led several of its supporters to infer that moral considerations are not always overriding, contrary to what has been traditionally maintained. In this paper I shall challenge this inference. My purpose in doing so is to expose and acknowledge something that has been inadequately appreciated, namely, the moral aspect of nonmoral goods and evils. I hope thereby to show that, even (...) if immorality can be admirable, this poses no threat to morality. (shrink)
In _The Immorality of Punishment_ Michael Zimmerman argues forcefully that not only our current practice but indeed any practice of legal punishment is deeply morally repugnant, no matter how vile the behaviour that is its target. Despite the fact that it may be difficult to imagine a state functioning at all, let alone well, without having recourse to punishing those who break its laws, Zimmerman makes a timely and compelling case for the view that we must seek and put (...) into practice alternative means of preventing crime and promoting social stability. (shrink)
Inspired by a 1988 trip to El Salvador, Michael J. Perry's new book is a personal and scholarly exploration of the idea of human rights. Perry is one of our nation's leading authorities on the relation of morality, including religious morality, to politics and law. He seeks, in this book, to disentangle the complex idea of human rights by way of four probing and interrelated essays. * The initial essay, which is animated by Perry's skepticism about the capacity of (...) any secular morality to offer a coherent account of the idea of human rights, suggests that the first part of the idea of human rights--the premise that every human being is "sacred" or "inviolable"--is inescapably religious. * Responding to recent criticism of "rights talk", Perry explicates, in his second essay, the meaning and value of talk about human rights. * In his third essay, Perry asks a fundamental question about human rights: Are they universal? In addressing this question, he disaggregates and criticizes several different varieties of "moral relativism" and then considers the implications of these different relativist positions for claims about human rights. * Perry turns to another fundamental question about human rights in his final essay: Are they absolute? He concludes that even if no human rights, understood as moral rights, are absolute or unconditional, some human rights, understood as international legal rights, are--and indeed, should be--absolute. In the introduction, Perry writes: "Of all the influential--indeed, formative--moral ideas to take center stage in the twentieth century, like democracy and socialism, the idea of human rights is, for many, the most difficult. It is the most difficult in the sense that it is, for many, the hardest of the great moral ideas to integrate, the hardest to square, with the reigning intellectual assumptions of the age, especially what Bernard Williams has called 'Nietzsche's thought': 'There is not only no God, but no metaphysical order of any kind....' For those who accept 'Nietzsche's thought', can the idea of human rights possibly be more than a kind of aesthetic preference? In a culture in which it was widely believed that there is no God or metaphysical order of any kind, on what basis, if any, could the idea of human rights long survive?" The Idea of Human Rights: Four Inquiries will appeal to students of many disciplines, including law, philosophy, religion, and politics. (shrink)
In this essay I elaborate a particular, and particularly important, morality: the morality of human rights. Next, I ask the ground-of-normativity question about the morality of human rights and go on to elaborate a religious response. Then, after explaining why one might be skeptical that there is a plausible secular response to the ground-of-normativity question, I comment critically on John Finnis's secular response. Finally, I consider what difference it makes if there is no plausible secular response to the ground-of-normativity question.
Consider the following situation. It is the first day of school, and the new third-grade students file into the classroom to be shown to their seats for the coming year. As they enter, the third-grade teacher notices one small boy who is particularly unkempt. He looks to be in desperate need of bathing, and his clothes are dirty, torn and tight-fitting. During recess, the teacher pulls aside the boy's previous teacher and asks about his wretched condition. The other teacher informs (...) her that he always looks that way, even though the boy's family is quite wealthy. The reason he appears as he does, she continues, is that the family observes an odd practice according to which the children do not receive many important things – food, clothing, bathing, even shelter – unless they specifically request them. Since the boy, like many third-graders, has little interest in bathing and clean clothes, he just never asks for them. (shrink)
This paper addresses the recent rise of the use of alternative medicine in Western countries and it offers a novel explanation of that phenomenon in terms of cognitive and economic factors related to the free-market and patient-centric approach to medicine that is currently in place in those countries, in contrast to some alternative explanations of this phenomenon. Moreover, the paper addresses this troubling trend in terms of the serious harms associated with the use of alternative medical modalities. The explanatory theory (...) defended here is then predicated on the idea that an extreme patient-centric model of medical practice that treats largely ignorant patients as consumers of medical products and services endowed with an essentially unrestricted power of freedom to choose treatments predictably leads serious and avoidable harms. Some important moral and epistemological consequences of this model are then articulated and corrective measures are suggested. (shrink)
This book is a sustained defense of the compatibility of the presence of idealizations in the sciences and scientific realism. So, the book is essentially a detailed response to the infamous arguments raised by Nancy Cartwright to the effect that idealization and scientific realism are incompatible.
This essay analyzes the arguments justifying or opposing the notion of humanitarian intervention from realist and liberal perspectives and considers the difficulties of undertaking such interventions effectively and consistently.
How does our understanding of the reality of race as a category of being affect our understanding of racism as a social phenomenon, and vice versa? How should we envision the aims and methods of our struggles against racism?Traditionally, the Western political and philosophical tradition held that true social justice points toward a raceless future---that racial categories are themselves inherently racist, and a sincere advocacy for social justice requires a commitment to the elimination or abolition of race altogether. This book (...) focuses on the underlying assumptions that inform this view of race and raceism, arguing that it is ultimately bound up in a "politics of purity"---an understanding of human agency, and reality itself, as requiring all-or-nothing categories with clear and unambiguous bounderies.Drawing upon a close engagement with historical treatments of the development of racial categories and identities, the book argues that races should be understood not as clear and distinct categories of being but rather as ambiguous and indeterminate processes of social negotiation. As one of its central examples, it lays out the case of the Irish in seventeenth-century Barbados, who occasionally united with black slaves to fight white supremacy---and did so as white people, not as nonwhites who later became white when they capitulated to white supremacy.Against the politics of purity, Monahan calls for the emergence of a "creolizing subjectivity" that would place such ambiguity at the center of our understanding of race. (shrink)
Hans Reichenbach’s pragmatic treatment of the problem of induction in his later works on inductive inference was, and still is, of great interest. However, it has been dismissed as a pseudo-solution and it has been regarded as problematically obscure. This is, in large part, due to the difficulty in understanding exactly what Reichenbach’s solution is supposed to amount to, especially as it appears to offer no response to the inductive skeptic. For entirely different reasons, the significance of Bertrand Russell’s classic (...) attempt to solve Hume’s problem is also both obscure and controversial. Russell accepted that Hume’s reasoning about induction was basically correct, but he argued that given the centrality of induction in our cognitive endeavors something must be wrong with Hume’s basic assumptions. What Russell effectively identified as Hume’s (and Reichenbach’s) failure was the commitment to a purely extensional empiricism. So, Russell’s solution to the problem of induction was to concede extensional empiricism and to accept that induction is grounded by accepting both a robust essentialism and a form of rationalism that allowed for a priori knowledge of universals. So, neither of those doctrines is without its critics. On the one hand, Reichenbach’s solution faces the charges of obscurity and of offering no response to the inductive skeptic. On the other hand, Russell’s solution looks to be objectionably ad hoc absent some non-controversial and independent argument that the universals that are necessary to ground the uniformity of nature actually exist and are knowable. This particular charge is especially likely to arise from those inclined towards purely extensional forms of empiricism. In this paper the significance of Reichenbach’s solution to the problem of induction will be made clearer via the comparison of these two historically important views about the problem of induction. The modest but important contention that will be made here is that the comparison of Reichenbach’s and Russell’s solutions calls attention to the opposition between extensional and intensional metaphysical presuppositions in the context of attempts to solve the problem of induction. It will be show that, in effect, what Reichenbach does is to establish an important epistemic limitation of extensional empiricism. So, it will be argued here that there is nothing really obscure about Reichenbach’s thoughts on induction at all. He was simply working out the limits of extensional empiricism with respect to inductive inference in opposition to the sort of metaphysics favored by Russell and like-minded thinkers. (shrink)
In this sequel to his Morality, Politics, and Law, Michael Perry addresses the proper relation of moral convictions to the politics of a morally pluralistic society. While his analysis focuses on religious morality, Perry's argument applies to morality generally. Contending that no justification of a contested political choice can be neutral among competing conceptions of human good, the author develops an ideal of "ecumenical politics" in which moral convictions about human good can be brought to bear in a productive (...) way in political argument. (shrink)
Every choice we make is set against a background of massive ignorance about our past, our future, our circumstances, and ourselves. Philosophers are divided on the moral significance of such ignorance. Some say that it has a direct impact on how we ought to behave - the question of what our moral obligations are; others deny this, claiming that it only affects how we ought to be judged in light of the behaviour in which we choose to engage - the (...) question of what responsibility we bear for our choices. Michael Zimmerman claims that our ignorance has an important bearing on both questions, and offers an account of moral obligation and moral responsibility that is sharply at odds with the prevailing wisdom. His book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
An Essay on Human Action seeks to provide a comprehensive, detailed, enlightening, and (in its detail) original account of human action. This account presupposes a theory of events as abstract, proposition-like entities, a theory which is given in the first chapter of the book. The core-issues of action-theory are then treated: what acting in general is (a version of the traditional volitional theory is proposed and defended); how actions are to be individuated; how long actions last; what acting intentionally is; (...) what doing one thing by doing another is; what basic action is; and what omitting to do something is. Attention is also given to the concepts of causation, intention, volition, deciding, choosing, and trying. Finally, a libertarian account of free action is tentatively proposed and defended. (shrink)
Theoretical arguments that psychopathy eliminates individual responsibility for illegal behavior and can therefore serve as a basis for an insanity defense are largely premised on emotional characteristics of psychopathy that impede the individual’s capacity to appreciate right from wrong. We offer arguments and countervailing evidence indicating psychopaths do have the capacity to appreciate right from wrong and therefore should not be absolved of criminal responsibility.
In this book, Michael Perry addresses several fundamental questions about the proper role of religion in the politics of a liberal democracy, which is a central, recurring issue in the politics of the United States. The controversy about religion in politics comprises both constitutional and moral questions.
The principal aim of this book is to develop and defend an analysis of the concept of moral obligation. The analysis is neutral regarding competing substantive theories of obligation, whether consequentialist or deontological in character. What it seeks to do is generate solutions to a range of philosophical problems concerning obligation and its application. Amongst these problems are deontic paradoxes, the supersession of obligation, conditional obligation, prima facie obligation, actualism and possibilism, dilemmas, supererogation, and cooperation. By virtue of its normative (...) neutrality, the analysis provides a theoretical framework within which competing theories of obligation can be developed and assessed. This study is a major contribution to metaethics that will be of particular interest to all philosophers concerned with normative ethical theory. (shrink)
Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value. The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.” Extrinsic value is value that is not intrinsic.
This innovative volume, by Michael Shapiro, is not about Adam Smith in the sense in which 'about' is usually understood, for it is neither a comprehensive explication of his views nor a careful tracing of the sources of them. Instead it is a confrontation. This is a book about modernity whose vehicle is a reading of Adam Smith—it is an enactment of the convention that despite the contribution Smith made to creating and legitimating the conceptual space for modern, commercial, (...) liberal, and democratic society, his views are inadequate for those who want an effective, politicized understanding of the present. Shapiro's ultimate goal in this examination is to 'exemplify a way of doing political theory—one that challenges some traditional ways of constructing and celebrating the 'political theory cannon.'. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is one of the most controversial and potentially revolutionary areas of philosophical research today. X-Phi, as it is known by many of its practitioners, questions many basic concepts regarding human intuitions—concepts which have guided centuries of modern philosophers. In their place, x-phi steers philosophical research back to scientific investigations in order to better understand human intuitions, using research techniques borrowed from current research in psychology and neuroscience. While scholars debate whether experimental philosophy signals a sea change or is (...) merely a faddish detour, no existing book looks at the X-Phi movement in reference to its methodology. In _The Experimental Turn and the Methods of Philosophy_, Michael J.Shaffer addresses this need, suggesting that the significance of experimental philosophy can best be assessed and understood in methodological terms. By comparing and contrasting traditional views of philosophical methodology with those of experimental philosophy, Shaffer traces the roots of the movement to Quinean naturalism and also demonstrates the deep, revolutionary significance of the experimental turn. (shrink)
This superbly crafted account of the notion of moral responsibility and of its relations to freedom, control, ignorance, negligence, attempts, omissions, compulsion, mental disorders, virtues and vices, desert, and punishment fills that gap. The treatment of character and luck is particularly sophisticated and well-argued.
The Free Will Defence has been attacked as being unsound, implausible and, more recently, irrelevant. The first section of the paper returns to a discussion on the relevance of the Free Will Defence, arguing that the case for its irrelevance is inextricably impaled on the horns of a dilemma. In the second section it is shown that Free Will Theodicy, even in a form extended to include natural evil, need not be as implausible as it is sometimes portrayed for it (...) demands no more than that good, on the whole, outweighs evil, on the whole. Finally, some tempting objections to the strategy employed in this argument are considered and rejected, both on the grounds that they are untenable in themselves and on the paradoxical ground that, if valid, the objections would appear to rule out any creation. (shrink)
_Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction_ is for students who have already completed an introductory philosophy course and need a fresh look at the central topics in the core subject of metaphysics. It is essential reading for any student of the subject. This Fourth Edition is revised and updated and includes two new chapters on Parts and Wholes, and Metaphysical Indeterminacy or vagueness. This new edition also keeps the user-friendly format, the chapter overviews summarizing the main topics, concrete examples to clarify difficult (...) concepts, annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, endnotes, and a full bibliography. Topics addressed include: the problem of universals the nature of abstract entities the problem of individuation the nature of modality identity through time the nature of time the nature of parts and wholes the problem of metaphysical indeterminacy the Realism/anti-Realism debate. Wherever possible, Michael J. Loux and Thomas M. Crisp relate contemporary views to their classical sources in the history of philosophy. As experienced teachers of philosophy and important contributors to recent debates, Loux and Crisp are uniquely qualified to write this book. (shrink)
A liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life, but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends. It therefore must govern by principles of justice that do not presuppose any particular vision of the good life. But can any such principles be found? And if not, what are the consequences for justice as a moral and political ideal? These are the questions Michael Sandel takes up in this penetrating (...) critique of contemporary liberalism. Sandel locates modern liberalism in the tradition of Kant, and focuses on its most influential recent expression in the work of John Rawls. In the most important challenge yet to Rawls' theory of justice, Sandel traces the limits of liberalism to the conception of the person that underlies it, and argues for a deeper understanding of community than liberalism allows. (shrink)
My aim is to rekindle interest in David Lewis's (1983) infamous but neglected Mixed Theory of mental states. The Mixed Theory is a mix of physicalism and functionalism designed to capture the intuitions that both Martians and abnormal human Madmen can be in pain. The Mixed Theory is widely derided. But I offer a new development of the Mixed Theory immune to its most prominent objections. In doing so, I uncover a new motivation for the Mixed Theory: its unique ability (...) to explain cases in which it is plausibly indeterminate whether something is in pain. The Mixed Theory, whether or not it is ultimately correct, at least deserves renewed attention. (shrink)
The following argument is addressed: (1) a person is morally responsible for an event's occurring only if that event's occurring was not a matter of luck; (2) no event is such that its occurring is not a matter of luck; therefore, (3) no event is such that someone is morally responsible for its occurring. Two notions of control are distinguished: restricted and complete. (2) is shown false on the first interpretation, (1) on the second. The discussion involves a distinction between (...) resultant and situational luck, And it is argued that, Even when luck's role in life, And the unfairness that stems from it, Is acknowledged, Moral responsibility remains possible. (shrink)
Introduction: Doing the right thing -- Utilitarianism : Bentham and J.S. Mill -- Libertarianism -- John Locke -- Markets and morals -- Immanuel Kant -- John Rawls -- Affirmative action -- Aristotle -- Liberals and communitarians -- Conclusion: Reconnecting politics and morals.
This essay focuses on a recently prominent notion of ground which is distinctive for how it links metaphysics to explanation. Ground is supposed to serve both as the common factor in diverse in virtue of questions as well as the structuring relation in the project of explaining how some phenomena are “built” from more fundamental phenomena. My aim is to provide an opinionated synopsis of this notion of ground without engaging with others. Ground, so understood, generally resists illumination by appeal (...) to more familiar models of explanation. Nevertheless, its distinctive explanatory and metaphysical aspects guide us on characterizing its explanatory logic and its metaphysical features. Some issues concerning the meta-question of what grounds ground are explored, as well as some recent skeptical challenges to ground. (shrink)
Many philosophers hold that whether an act is overall morally obligatory is an ‘objective’ matter, many that it is a ‘subjective’ matter, and some that it is both. The idea that it is or can be both may seem to promise a helpful answer to the question ‘What ought I to do when I do not know what I ought to do?’ In this article, three broad views are distinguished regarding what it is that obligation essentially concerns: the maximization of (...) actual value, the maximization of expected value, and the perceived maximization of actual value. The first and third views are rejected; the second view is then refined and defended. The unfortunate upshot is that there may be no very helpful answer to the question just mentioned. As to the question posed in the title of the article, the answer unsurprisingly depends on what ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ are taken to mean. (Published Online November 24 2006). (shrink)
Though the reputation of eugenics has been tarnished by history, eugenics per se is not necessarily a bad thing. Many advocate a liberal new eugenics—where individuals are free to choose whether or not to employ genetic technologies for reproductive purposes. Though genetic interventions aimed at the prevention of severe genetic disorders may be morally and socially acceptable, reproductive liberty in the context of enhancement may conflict with equality. Enhancement could also have adverse effects on utility. The enhancement debate requires a (...) shift in focus. What the equality and/or utility costs of enhancement will be is an empirical question. Rather than philosophical speculation, more social science research is needed to address it. Philosophers, meanwhile, should address head-on the question of how to strike a balance between liberty, equality, and utility in cases of conflict (in the context of genetics). (shrink)
Tomis Kapitan’s work on Peirce’s conception of abduction was instrumental for our coming to see how Peircean abduction both relates to and is importantly different from inference to the best explanation (IBE). However, he ultimately concluded that Peirce’s conception of abduction was a muddle. Despite the deeply problematic nature of Peirce’s theory of abduction in these respects, Kapitan’s work on Peircean abduction offers insight into the nature of abductive inquiry that is importantly relevant to the task of making sense of (...) explanatory inquiry in the sciences in general. The view developed here stems from his work and involves disambiguating three forms of inference involved in Peircean abduction in terms of Reichenbach’s and Laudan’s context models of inquiry. Importantly, this includes understanding that abduction involves the context of pursuit. (shrink)