Extending previous research on the characteristics associated with adolescents’ general tendency to be a moral rebel, the present study examined the roles of moral identity and moral courage characteristics on 3 expressions of the tendency to stand up for one’s beliefs and values despite social pressure not to do so. Results revealed that general and situation-specific moral courage characteristics are important motivators of individuals’ caring, just, and brave expressions of the tendency to be a moral rebel, especially when they possess (...) a relatively strong moral identity. (shrink)
We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
… the supreme end, the happiness of all mankind. The law concerning punishment is a Categorical Imperative; and woe to him who rummages around in the winding paths of a theory of happiness, looking for some advantage to be gained by releasing the criminal from punishment or by reducing the amount of it.
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having achieved my life's ambition, to find a way of answering moral questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded on the mountain top by the graves of all (...) those other philosophers, great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had achieved it. And I have come to see, reflecting on my dream, that, ever since, the hard-working philosophical worms have been nibbling away at their systems and showing that the achievement was an illusion. True, their skeletons, indigestible to worms, remained, and were surprisingly similar to one another. But I was led to think again about what one can, and what one cannot, achieve in this direction. (shrink)
Logic ought to guide our thinking. It is better, more rational, more intelligent to think logically than to think illogically. Illogical thought leads to bad judgment and error. In any case, if logic had no role to play as a guide to thought, why should we bother with it? The somewhat naïve opinions of the previous paragraph are subject to attack from many sides. It may be objected that an activity does not count as thinking at all unless it is (...) at least minimally logical, so logic is constitutive of thought rather than a guide to it. Or it may be objected that whereas logic describes a system of timeless relations between propositions, thinking is a dynamic process involving revisions, and so could not use a merely static guide. Or again the objection may be that there is no such thing as logic, only a whole variety of different logics, not all of which could possibly be good guides. (shrink)
I offer no apology for presenting a simple paper about what is essentially a simple subject: the objectivity of moral judgments. Most of the complications are introduced by those who do not grasp the distinctions I shall be making. I am afraid that they include the majority of moral philosophers at the present time. These complications can be unravelled; but not in a short paper. I have tried to do it in my other writings.
In Russell's Problems of Philosophy, acquaintance is the basis of thought and also the basis of empirical knowledge. Thought is based on acquaintance, in that a thinker has to be acquainted with the basic constituents of his thoughts. Empirical knowledge is based on acquaintance, in that acquaintance is involved in perception, and perception is the ultimate source of all empirical knowledge.
Wittgenstein's Tractatus contains a wide range of profound insights into the nature of logic and language – insights which will survive the particular theories of the Tractatus and seem to me to mark definitive and unassailable landmarks in our understanding of some of the deepest questions of philosophy. And yet alongside these insights there is a theory of the nature of the relation between language and reality which appears both to be impossible to work out in detail in a way (...) which is completely satisfactory, and to be bizarre and incredible. I am referring to the so-called logical atomism of the Tractatus. The main outlines of this theory at least are clear and familiar: there are elementary propositions which gain their sense from being models of possible states of affairs; such propositions are configurations of names of simple objects, signifying that those simples are analogously configured; every proposition has its sense through being analysable as a truth-functional compound of elementary propositions, thus deriving its sense from the sense of the elementary propositions when this view is taken in conjunction with the idea that the sense of a proposition is completely specified by specifying its truth-conditions. In this way the Tractatus incorporates in its working out a philosophical system analogous to the classical philosophical systems of Leibniz or Spinoza which are regarded by many people, in a sense rightly, as the prehistoric monsters of philosophy which are not to be studied as living organisms, but studied as the curiosities of human thought. And we may here agree that in the end we must simply reject a philosophy which incorporates such features as its postulation of simple eternal objects, or of a possibility of an analysis of a proposition which was presented as a pre-condition for the propositions that we ordinarily utter to make sense, and yet the specific form of which we are unaware of, and so on. (shrink)
It is my intention in this paper to highlight the dangers which arise when people appeal to moral intuitions to settle questions in political, and in general in applied, philosophy. But first I want to ask why all or nearly all of us are in favour both of liberty and of equality – why all our intuitions are on their side. In the case of liberty it is easy to understand why. Although philosophers have held diverse theories about the concept (...) of liberty – theories which have been drawn together into two main groups in a famous lecture by Sir Isaiah Berlin – there cannot be much doubt that in the mind of the ordinary man to have liberty is to be under no constraint in doing what one wants to do. This, at any rate, is a main constituent of the concept of liberty as all of us understand it. Since, therefore, it seems self-evidently true that we want to be able to do what we want, we are bound to want liberty and, in general, to be in favour of it. We want it for ourselves; if we universalize our prescriptions, this constrains us to be in favour of it for others as well. That explains why, if any politician can claim that he is fighting for liberty, he is likely to win a large following. In the case of equality the matter is not so clear cut. (shrink)
R. M. Hare, one of the most influential moral philosophers of the twentieth century, presents a definitive summary of his fundamental views on ethics, incorporating a critical taxonomy of rival ethical theories. Sorting Out Ethics is a characteristically lucid and lively guide to the subject and Hare's place in it.
I am going in this lecture on ‘Philosophy and Practice’ first to say something about philosophy and then something about practice, in order to show you how they bear on one another. But I must start by paying a tribute to the President of the Society for Applied Philosophy, Professor Sir A. J. Ayer, who has kindly agreed to take the chair at this lecture. I can honestly say that he is more responsible than anybody else for putting me on (...) the right track in moral philosophy. He did this by convincing me, when young, that the ways people were doing it at that time had no future. In the famous chapter on ethics in his marvellously readable and exciting book, Language, Truth and Logic , Ayer was thought to be trying to show that moral philosophy itself, and perhaps even ordinary first-order moral thinking, was a waste of time. From later work of his, and from his occasional pronouncements about moral and political questions, it is evident that the second of these slanders was false. But even on the theoretical side the lessons I learnt from his book were positive as well as negative. That is not to say that the negative lessons were unimportant. Some people have still not absorbed them, and continue to waste our time. But here are two positive points which you will find in Ayer's book, and which for me were crucia. (shrink)
Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract artefacts fiction and intentionality and the problem of irrealism (...) fictionalism about possible worlds moral fictionalism. R. M. Sainsbury makes extensive use of examples from fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary and examines the work of philosophers who have made significant contributions to the topic, including Meinong, David Lewis, and Bas Van Fraassen. Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making _Fiction and Fictionalism_ ideal for those coming to the issue for the first time. (shrink)
R.M. Hare is one of the most widely discussed of today's moral philosophers. In this volume he has collected a number of essays, including one which is previously unpublished, which fill in the theoretical background of his thought. Each essay is self-contained, but together they give a connected picture of his views on such questions as the objectivity and rationality of moral thinking, the issue between the ethical realists and their opponents, the place in our moral thought of appeals to (...) common convictions, and how to tell whether a feature of a situation is morally relevant. (shrink)
In the early part of the paper, I attempt to explain a dispute between two parties who endorse the compositionality of language but disagree about its implications: Paul Horwich, and Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore. In the remainder of the paper, I challenge the thesis on which they are agreed, that compositionality can be taken for granted. I suggest that it is not clear what compositionality involves nor whether it obtains. I consider some kinds of apparent counterexamples, and compositionalist responses (...) to them in terms of covert indexicality and unspecific meanings. I argue that the last option is the best for most of the cases I consider. I conclude by stressing, as against Horwich and Fodor and Lepore, that the appropriate question concerns the extent to which compositionality obtains in a natural language, rather than whether it obtains or not, so that the answer is essentially messy, requiring detailed consideration of a wide range of examples. (shrink)
R.M. Hare is well known both for his fundamental work in ethical theory and for his applications of it to practical issues. For this volume he has selected the best of his writings on medical ethics and related topics. The book's chief theoretical interest lies in its synthesis between utilitarian and Kantian ethics, which are shown to have the same practical consequences. The main practical thesis in the book is that we can harm possible people by preventing them from becoming (...) actual people. This thesis, if understood and accepted, would radically alter the terms of the public debate about embryo experimentation and population policy, and (perhaps surprisingly) support a fairly liberal view on abortion. There are also general introductions to medical and psychiatric ethics, and essays on the concept of health, on the morality of experimentation on children, on health care policy, on free will, and on vegetarianism. (shrink)
R. M. Adams’s essay, “Must God Create the Best?” can be interpreted as offering a theodicy for God’s creating morally less perfect beings than he could have created. By creating these morally less perfect beings, God is bestowing grace upon them, which is an unmerited or undeserved benefit. He does so, however, in advance of the free moral misdeeds that render them undeserving. This requires that God have middle knowledge, pace Adams’s version of the Free Will Theodicy, of what would (...) result from his actualization of possible free persons. It is argued that God’s possession of such middle knowledge negates the freedom of created beings, since God completely determines every action of every created person. And since they are not free, they cannot qualify as morally unmeritorious or undeserving. And, with that, Adams’s theodicy of grace-in-advance collapses. (shrink)
Scholars of Plato are divided between those who emphasize the literature of the dialogues and those who emphasize the argument of the dialogues, and between those who see a development in the thought of the dialogues and those who do not. In this important book Russell Dancy focuses on the arguments and defends a developmental picture. He explains the Theory of Forms of the Phaedo and Symposium as an outgrowth of the quest for definitions canvassed in the Socratic dialogues, by (...) constructing a Theory of Definition for the Socratic dialogues based on the refutations of definitions in those dialogues, and showing how that theory is mirrored in the Theory of Forms. His discussion, notable for both its clarity and its meticulous scholarship, ranges in detail over a number of Plato's early and middle dialogues, and will be of interest to readers in Plato studies and in ancient philosophy more generally. (shrink)