The Dutch law states that a physician may perform euthanasia according to a written advance euthanasia directive when a patient is incompetent as long as all legal criteria of due care are met. This may also hold for patients with advanced dementia. We investigated the differing opinions of physicians and members of the general public on the acceptability of euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia.
My object in this paper is to suggest a few reflections on some themes in Bentham's work which others as well as I have noted, without perhaps developing them as fully as might with advantage be done. There will be nothing like full development in the limited compass of what is said here, but what is said may at least indicate possible directions for further exploration. The greater part of the paper will be concerned with the notion of natural authority; (...) but I want to begin by taking a broader, though no doubt rather superficial, view of the role in Bentham's thinking of the concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘the natural’. (shrink)
The object of this article is to examine, with the work of Jeremy Bentham as the principal example, one strand in the complex pattern of European social theory during the second half of the eighteenth century. This was of course the period not only of the American and French revolutions, but of the culmination of the movements of thought constituting what we know as the Enlightenment. Like all great historical episodes, the Enlightenment was both the fulfilment of long-established processes and (...) the inauguration of new processes of which the fulfilment lay in the future. Thus the seminal ideas of seventeenth-century rationalism realized and perhaps exhausted their potentialities in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The ideas with which this article is concerned, however—conveniently grouped and labelled as the ideas of utilitarianism—only began to achieve systematic development in these later decades of the eighteenth century. Within that period—during the first half and more of Bentham's long life—attempts to apply those ideas to the solution of social problems met largely with failure and frustration. Yet unrealized potentialities remained, the realization of which was reserved for a time when the world of the philosophes no longer existed. The movements for social and political reform which have played so large a part in modern history since the French Revolution may be judged in widely differing ways; but whatever the verdict, these movements surely cannot be understood without due consideration of that part of their origins which lies in eighteenth-century utilitarianism. (shrink)
Principal editor of the great Encyclopedia , novelist and prose writer of genius, contributor to the development of scientific thought and method, to the theory of the bourgeois drama and to the practice of art criticism, Diderot perhaps embodies the rich variety of the Enlightenment spirit more than any other man. His only real rival is surely Voltaire. Rousseau, whose influence was greater than Diderot's, would not thank us for classing him among the philosophes . The more profound philosophers - (...) a Hume or a Kant - not only lack his range, but are less unquestionably ‘Enlightenment men’. (shrink)
This lecture is divided, roughly, into three parts. First, there is a general and perhaps rather simple-minded discussion of what are the ‘facts’ that social anthropologists study; is there anything special about these ‘facts’ which makes them different from other kinds of facts? It will be useful to start with the common-sense distinction between two kinds or, better, aspects of social facts; first—though neither is analytically prior to the other—and putting it very crudely, ‘what people do’, the aspect of social (...) interaction, and second, ‘what—and how—people think’, the conceptual, classifying, cognitive component of human culture. Now in reality, of course , these two aspects are inextricably intertwined. But it is essential to distinguish them analytically, because each aspect gives rise to quite different kinds of problems of understanding for the social anthropologist. We shall see that the problem of how to be ‘objective’, and so to avoid ethnographic error, arises in both contexts, but in rather different forms in each. (shrink)
By the death, last summer, of Jack Robson, the world of utilitarian studies and a wider world of scholarship on both sides of the Atlantic lost one of their most distinguished figures. It would not be appropriate here, even if it were possible now, to attempt a full and measured assessment of his work. Writing only a few months after the news of his death, while the sense of loss is still so sharp for all his many friends, two things (...) are possible. Something can and should be said to acknowledge and celebrate Robson's achievement as a scholar; and to this can be added some personal recollections of one whose human qualities were as outstanding as his scholarship. (shrink)
The full range of Bentham's engagement with Blackstone's view of law is beyond the scope of a single article. Yet it is important to recognize at the outset, even in a more restricted enquiry into the matter, that the engagement, begun when Bentham, not quite sixteen years of age, started to attend Blackstone's Oxford lectures, was indeed a lifelong affair. Whatever Bentham had in mind when, at the age of eighty, in 1828, he began to write a work entitled ‘A (...) familar view of Blackstone: or say Blackstone familiarized’, the manuscripts at least suffice to prove that ‘Our Author’ was still in the forefront of his mind at that octogenarian but still indefatigably active stage of his career. Every aspect of Bentham's multifarious intellectual activity over the intervening decades had been touched in some measure by his response to Blackstone's ideas. It still seems true to say what was said a dozen years ago: It would be an exaggeration to say that Bentham elaborated his own conception of law by way of a constant and conscious dialectic with the views of Blackstone. But it would be an exaggeration for which the evidence would afford some excuse. (shrink)
According to familiar accounts, Rousseau held that humans are actuated by two distinct kinds of self love: amour de soi, a benign concern for one's self-preservation and well-being; and amour-propre, a malign concern to stand above other people, delighting in their despite. I argue that although amour-propre can (and often does) assume this malign form, this is not intrinsic to its character. The first and best rank among men that amour-propre directs us to claim for ourselves is that of occupying (...) 'man's estate'. This does not require, indeed it precludes, subjection of others. Amour-propre does not need suppression or circumscription if we are to live good lives; it rather requires direction to its proper end, not a delusive one. (shrink)
In the two related works in this volume, Bentham offers a detailed critique of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. He provides important refelctions on the nature of law, and more particularly on the nature of customary and statute law, and on judicial interpretation.
This study presents a collection of the influential Greek philosophical texts which provide a broad cross-section of ancient Greek thought. Full notes on the translation and the philosophical content are provided.
Raynal and his collaborator, Diderot, offer views on the history and nature of the British Constitution in various parts of their encyclopedic account of Western expansion, The History of the Two Indies (1770, revised versions 1780 and 1784). These opinions are analysed in comparison with the judgments of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Hume, Bolingbroke, De Lolme and others. The evolution of Raynal's ideas on the subject is discussed in the light of his earlier anglophobic History of the Parliament of England (1748) and (...) the mutually contrasting French historians he used for that work, the Jesuit Pierre-Joseph d'Orleans and the Huguenot Paul de Rapin-Thoyras. Raynal's conversion to a liberal admiration for British institutions is seen both in the context of the American Revolution and his relationship with Diderot. His insistence on a historical approach clashes with Diderot's more radical and philosophical rhetoric, and the stress between their attitudes becomes apparent in the compromises they attain. Notable among their conclusions are the rejection of English appeals to antiquity, and the fortuitous development of liberty through a series of well defined stages. (shrink)
One of the earliest and best-known of Bentham's works, the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation sets out a profound and innovative philosophical argument. This definitive edition includes both the late H. L. A. Hart's classic essay on the work and a new introduction by F. Rosen.
J. H. Hexter, an American historian of early seventeenth-century history, terms himself whiggish and claims whiggishness is returning after the misguided popularity of Marxism. The distinction "whiggish" is more elusive than his claim suggests, and the accuracy of its application to Hexter's claim is unclear. Three characteristics commonly assigned to whig interpretation by its critics can be seen as reflections of broader, unresolved historical issues. These are: attention to political and constitutional issues; a tendency to refer to the present in (...) interpreting the past; and a belief in inevitability. It is difficult to ascertain whether Hexter's attention to political matters is a result of his view of them as intrinsically important to historical inquiry or as particularly relevant to historical accounts of Stuart England. The charge of presentism cannot confidently be made against him, as he is not guilty of anything as crude as anachronism, and subtle presentism is neither avoidable nor necessarily reprehensible. Inevitabilism is not only difficult to define, it is not displayed by Hexter. If he displays the weaknesses of whiggishness it is only through implication, in the body of ideas underlying his text. (shrink)
A recently developed computational and neurobiological theory of phenomenal consciousness is applied to a series of persistent philosophical problems of consciousness (in recent formulations by Tye, Searle, and Chalmers). Each problem has a clear solution according to this theory, as is briefly explained here. A slightly modified version of this paper can be found as Chapter 16 ('Philosophical problems of consciousness') in my book 'The estimator theory of life and mind: how agency and consciousness can emerge', see VANTET-8 at philpapers (...) . (shrink)