Definitions of death are based on subjective standards, priorities, and social conventions rather than on objective facts about the state of human physiology. It is the meaning assigned to the facts that determines whensomeone may be deemed to have died, not the facts themselves. Even though subjective standards for the diagnosis of death show remarkable consistency across communities, they are extrinsic. They are driven, implicitly or explicitly, by ideas about what benefits the community rather than what benefits the indidvidual. The (...) differences that do exist across communities generally reduce to questions about legitimacy and not fact. The questions at the core of the debate about brain death are better framed by asking: Whom ought we deem to be dead? rather than: Who is dead. The rationale for equating brain death with death, therefore, extends well beyond somatic and biological concepts of death. (shrink)
A traditional interpretation holds that Kant's political theory simply constitutes an account of the constraints which reason places on the state's authority to regulate external action. Alexander Kaufman argues that this traditional interpretation succeeds neither as a faithful reading of Kant's texts nor as a plausible, philosophically sound reconstruction of a `Kantian' political theory. Rather, he argues that Kant's political theory articulates a positive conception of the state's role.
"Peter Iver Kaufman is admirably and ideally qualified to undertake this project of reading More on politics in the light of Augustine on politics. In vigorous, well-paced prose, he tackles an important and original subject." —_Marcia L. Colish, Frederick B. Artz Professor of History, emerita, Oberlin College_ _“Incorrectly Political_ will attract readers not only because it is written with the author's characteristic flair and liveliness, but also because of his established capacity to bridge centuries of Western thought and history. (...) Written at the dawn of the new century, this book acquires deep resonance from the events unfolding around the world, circumstances to which Augustine’s and More's complex thoughts on political possibility still speak. If ever a study of such hoary figures from the Christian past deserved the label 'timely,' it is surely this one.” —_Kevin Madigan, Harvard University Divinity School_ Augustine in the fourth and fifth centuries and Thomas More in the sixteenth were familiar with the deceits and illusions that enabled even the most vile rulers to shore up their dignity and that gave repressive regimes an inviolability of sorts. Both men knew the politics of their times, both were involved in politics, and both were at one time politically ambitious. Augustine needed and made good use of government's powers of coercion and damage control in his struggle against the Donatists. The clear advantages of political protection and correction preoccupied More in his battle against Martin Luther. Both later changed their minds and believed, finally, the political imagination, based as it is on a desire for power, always and inevitably leads to devastation and suffering. Peter Iver Kaufman explains how and why we have failed to appreciate Augustine's and More's profound political pessimism, reintroducing readers to two of the Christian tradition's most enigmatic yet influential figures. Each had been disturbed by the reach of his own political ambitions—as by those of contemporaries. Each knew that government was useful—yet always deceitful. And each wrote a classic—widely read to this day, Augustine's _City of God_ and More's _Utopia,_as well as abundant correspondence and polemical tracts to explain why government on earth might be used, though never meaningfully improved. (shrink)
Because of his preoccupation with the formal aspects of music and literature, Theodor W. Adorno is often regarded as the most aesthetically oriented thinker of the Frankfurt School theorists. It is Adorno’s perceived commitment to aestheticism—the study of art for art’s sake and the study of art as a source of sensuous pleasure, rather than as a vehicle for culturally constructed morality or meaning—that many scholars have criticized as hostile to genuine, concrete, substantive political, social, and ethical engagement with the (...) arts. _Adorno and Ethics_—the first issue of _New German Critique_ to be published by Duke University Press—takes issue with Adorno’s critics. These essays reconsider Adorno’s unique brand of aestheticism, revealing a “politics of aestheticism” and exploring the political and ethical dimensions of his writings. One contributor links the ethical turn taken in Adorno criticism with related developments in American poetry and poetics. Another examines Adorno’s aphorism “Gold Assay” for the ways in which it anticipates one of his seminal works, _The Jargon of Authenticity_. Focusing on Auschwitz and the testimony of its survivors, one contributor explores the impact of the Holocaust on modern philosophy and reason, a relationship that he argues Adorno never specified. Another contributor considers the figure of the animal in the writings of Kant, Adorno, and Lévinas, exploring what it might mean to live, as Adorno suggests, as “a good animal.” _Contributors_. J. M. Bernstein, Detlev Claussen, Samir Gandesha, Alexander García Düttmann, Christina Gerhardt, Martin Jay, Robert Kaufman, Michael Marder, Gerhard Richter. (shrink)
In Justified Killing, Whitley R. P. Kaufman argues that none of the leading theories adequately explains why it is permissible even to kill an innocent attacker in self-defense, given the basic moral prohibition against killing the innocent. Kaufman suggests that such an explanation can be found in the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect, according to which self-defense is justified because the intention of the defender is to protect himself rather than harm the attacker.
The National Institutes of Health and other federal health agencies are considering establishing a national biobank to study the roles of genes and environment in human health. A preliminary public engagement study was conducted to assess public attitudes and concerns about the proposed biobank, including the expectations for return of individual research results. A total of 141 adults of different ages, incomes, genders, ethnicities, and races participated in 16 focus groups in six locations across the country. Focus group participants voiced (...) a strong desire to be able to access individual research results. Recognizing the wide range of possible research results from a large cohort study, they repeatedly and spontaneously suggested that cohort study participants be given ongoing choices as to which results they received. (shrink)
Do people have free will, or this universal belief an illusion? If free will is more than an illusion, what kind of free will do people have? How can free will influence behavior? Can free will be studied, verified, and understood scientifically? How and why might a sense of free will have evolved? These are a few of the questions this book attempts to answer. People generally act as though they believe in their own free will: they don't feel like (...) automatons, and they don't treat one another as they might treat robots. While acknowledging many constraints and influences on behavior, people nonetheless act as if they (and their neighbors) are largely in control of many if not most of the decisions they make. Belief in free will also underpins the sense that people are responsible for their actions. Psychological explanations of behavior rarely mention free will as a factor, however. Can psychological science find room for free will? How do leading psychologists conceptualize free will, and what role do they believe free will plays in shaping behavior? In recent years a number of psychologists have tried to solve one or more of the puzzles surrounding free will. This book looks both at recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to free will and at ways leading psychologists from all branches of psychology deal with the philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will and the importance of consciousness in free will. It also includes commentaries by leading philosophers on what psychologists can contribute to long-running philosophical struggles with this most distinctly human belief. These essays should be of interest not only to social scientists, but to intelligent and thoughtful readers everywhere. (shrink)
Picking up where Peggy McKintosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” left off, this essay looks further into the ways that racial privilege manifests itself in the lives of white Americans. It explores some of the reasons that white privilege is hard for whites to see and it explores the question of how white people can act responsibly given the unavoidable realities of racial privilege.
The most severe economic crisis in post-revolutionary Cuba has forced the country to adopt an austere conservation program. Resource-wise measures have been instituted in the energy, transportation, housing, and agricultural sectors because of a rapid drop in Soviet aid, significant loss of trade with the Eastern Bloc, a halving of oil imports in a one-year period, and stepped-up U. S. sanctions. The economic crisis is also causing negative environmental impacts, in part because pollution abatement projects have been deferred and the (...) tourism industry is being developed to bring in hard currency. However, it is anticipated that many environmentally-sound initiatives will help Cuba through the crisis and will remain in place. (shrink)
In a well-known paper, Reginald Jackson expresses a sentiment not uncommon among readers of Locke: “Among the merits of Locke’s Essay…not even the friendliest critic would number consistency.”2 This unflattering opinion of Locke is reiterated by Maurice Mandelbaum: “Under no circumstances can [Locke] be counted among the clearest and most consistent of philosophers.”3 The now familiar story is that there are innumerable inconsistencies and internal problems contained in Locke’s Essay. In fact, it is probably safe to say that there is (...) not another canonical, well-respected, and seminal philosopher whose work is so widely thought to be swarming with inconsistencies. I, however, do not think that the common, unflattering view of Locke is accurate as a general view of the Essay. But despite my wishes to the contrary, I do believe that Locke’s chapter ‘Of Identity and Diversity’ (2.27)4 leads to (at least) one intractable problem, a problem that is the subject of this paper. (shrink)
Food issues are generally regarded as agricultural and rural issues. The urban food system is less visible than such other systems as transportation, housing, employment, or even the environment. The reasons for its low visibility include the historic process by which issues and policies came to be defined as urban; the spread of processing, refrigeration, and transportation technology together with cheap, abundant energy that rendered invisible the loss of farmland around older cities; and the continuing institutional separation of urban and (...) rural policy. Despite its low visibility, the urban food system nonetheless contributes significantly to community health and welfare; to metropolitan economies; connects to other urban systems such as housing, transportation, land use, and economic development; and impacts the urban environment. We examine existing or potential city institutions that could offer a more comprehensive look at the urban food system. These include the city department of food, the food policy council, and the city-planning department. (shrink)
The goal of this feature is to demonstrate that distributive justice is a flawed theory of self-defense and must be rejected, thus undercutting the argument that torture can be justified as self-defense.
It is widely-accepted that Descartes is a substance dualist, i.e. that he holds that there are two and only two kinds of finite substance – mind and body. However, several scholars have argued that Descartes is a substance trialist, where the third kind of substance he admits is the substantial union of a mind and a body, the human being. In this paper, I argue against the trialist interpretation of Descartes. First, I show that the strongest evidence for trialism, based (...) on Descartes' discussion of so-called incomplete substances, is highly inconclusive. Second, I show that a kind of unity (‘unity of nature’), which is had by all and only substances, is not had by human beings. The fact that the proper parts of a human being, namely a mind and a body, are of different natures entails that what they compose has at most a ‘unity of composition’. And a thing cannot be a substance in virtue of having a unity of composition. Therefore, Cartesian human beings are not substances. (shrink)
“The Standard Interpretation” of Descartes on material falsity states that Descartes believed that materially false ideas (MFIs) lack “objective reality” [realitas objectiva]. The argument for the Standard Interpretation depends on a statement from the “Third Meditation” that MFIs are caused by nothing. This statement, in conjunction with a causal principle introduced by Descartes, seems to entail that MFIs lack objective reality. However, the Standard Interpretation is incorrect. First, I argue that, despite initial appearances, the manner in which Descartes understands the (...) proposition that MFIs are caused by nothing does not entail that they lack objective reality. Secondly, I argue that Descartes is committed to the objective reality of MFIs because of his quasi-scholastic explanation of MFIs. (shrink)
Descartes held the doctrine that the eternal truths are freely created by God. He seems to have thought that a proper understanding of God's freedom entails such a doctrine concerning the eternal truths. In this paper, I examine Descartes' account of divine freedom. I argue that Descartes' statements about indifference, namely that indifference is the lowest grade of freedom and that indifference is the essence of God's freedom are not incompatible. I also show how Descartes arrived at his doctrine of (...) the creation of the eternal truths by consideration of the nature of God's freedom. Footnotes1 In this paper, I employ the following abbreviations:AT: Descartes, René Oeuvres de Descartes, C. Adam and P. Tannery (eds) (Paris: J. Vrin, 1996) (cited by volume and page number).CSM: Descartes, René The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vols 1 and 2, J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch (transl.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) (cited by volume and page number).CSMK: Descartes, René The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 3, J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch, A. Kenny (transl.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) (cited by page number). (shrink)
Sam Harris’ new book “The Moral Landscape” is the latest in a series of attempts to provide a new “science of morality.” This essay argues that such a project is unlikely to succeed, using Harris’ text as an example of the major philosophical problems that would be faced by any such theory. In particular, I argue that those trying to construct a scientific ethics need pay far more attention to the tradition of moral philosophy, rather than assuming the debate is (...) simply between a scientific ethics and a “supernatural” ethics provided by religion. (shrink)
The doctrine of karma and rebirth is often praised for its ability to offer a successful solution to the Problem of Evil. This essay evaluates such a claim by considering whether the doctrine can function as a systematic theodicy, as an explanation of all human suffering in terms of wrongs done in either this or past lives. This purported answer to the Problem of Evil must face a series of objections, including the problem of any lack of memory of past (...) lives, the lack of proportionality between wrongdoing and the observed suffering in the world, the problem of infinite regress of explanation, and the problem of compatibility of free will with karmic determinism. These objections, either separately or taken together, provide (it is argued) sufficient reason to doubt whether the doctrine of karma and rebirth can in fact provide a satisfactory theodicy. (shrink)
: The doctrine of karma and rebirth is often praised for its ability to offer a successful solution to the Problem of Evil. This essay evaluates such a claim by considering whether the doctrine can function as a systematic theodicy, as an explanation of all human suffering in terms of wrongs done in either this or past lives. This purported answer to the Problem of Evil must face a series of objections, including the problem of anylackofmemoryofpastlives,the lack of proportionality between (...) wrongdoing and the observed suffering in the world, the problem of infinite regress of explanation, and the problem of compatibility of free will with karmic determinism. These objections, either separately or taken together, provide (it is argued) sufficient reason to doubt whether the doctrine of karma and rebirth can in fact provide a satisfactory theodicy. (shrink)
The research programs of empirical aesthetics and neuroaesthetics have reflected deep concerns about viewers' sensitivities to artworks' historical contexts by investigating the impact of two factors on art perception: viewers' developmental (and educational) histories and the contextual histories of artworks. These considerations are consistent with data demonstrating that art perception is underwritten by dynamically reconfigured and evolutionarily adapted neural and psychological mechanisms.
Lucretius famously argued that if we think death is bad because it deprives us of time we could have had by living longer than we do, then when we are born must be bad too, since we could have been born earlier than we were, and so be deprived of that time as well. John Martin Fischer thinks Lucretius’s symmetry argument fails because we have a bias toward the future. I argue that Fischer’s approach does not answer Lucretius. In contrast (...) to Fischer, I think that we can show an objective difference between the time before our birth and the time after our death, which means that we are justified in adopting different attitudes towards them. I revise a point made by Thomas Nagel that while we might live longer than we do, we cannot exist earlier than we did and remain the same people throughout. (shrink)
Abstract: In providing an ethical guide for managers, the Clarkson Principles offer one part of a possible professional code, namely, that managers have a fiduciary duty—a duty of loyalty of the corporation’s stakeholders. However, the Clarkson Principles contain little advise for managers when they act politically to fashion the regulatory framework in which stakeholders negotiate. When managers participate in these arenas, I argue that they ought to assume a second fiduciary duty—a duty of loyalty to fair bargaining. Where the first (...) duty of loyalty pertains to the firm’s “constituents,” the second refers to the firm’s “constitution”—to the rules by which the firm’s stakeholders bargain and to the background conditions that distribute advantages. Together, these two fiduciary duties establish the large good—development as freedom—from which a managerial profession can mature. (shrink)
Is there a morally relevant difference between a brain‐damaged human being and a nonhuman animal at the same cognitive and emotional level to justify, say, performing medical experiments on the animal but not the human being? Some hold that the misfortune of the human being allows us to distinguish between them. I consider the nature of misfortunate and argue that an appeal to misfortune fails to distinguish between the human being and the nonhuman animal when the treatment at issue is (...) equally morally serious, since the source of the limitation taken advantage of by performing the medical experiment, whether misfortunate or natural vulnerability, is irrelevant. (shrink)