Public health is concerned with increasing the health of the community at whole. Insofar as health is a ‘good’ and the community constitutes a ‘public’, public health by definition promotes a ‘public good’. But ‘public good’ has a particular and much more narrow meaning in the economics literature, and some commentators have tried to limit the scope of public health to this more narrow meaning of a ‘public good’. While such a move makes the content of public health less controversial, (...) it also strips important goals from the realm of public health, goals that traditionally have been, and morally should be, a part of it. Instead, I will argue, while public health should be defined by public goods, it should be defined by a broader conception of public goods that I shall call ‘normative public goods’, goods that ought to be treated as if they were public goods in the more narrow sense. (shrink)
In the world according to Hume, people are complicated creatures, with convoluted, often contradictory characters. Consider, for example, Hume's controversial assessment of Charles I: "The character of this prince, as that of most men, if not of all men, was mixed .... To consider him in the most favourable light, it may be affirmed, that his dignity was free from pride, his humanity from weakness, his bravery from rashness, his temperance from austerity, his frugality from avarice .... To speak the (...) most harshly of him, we may affirm, that many of his good qualities were attended with some latent frailty, which, though seemingly inconsiderable, was able, when seconded by the extreme malevolence of his fortune, to disappoint them of all their influence: His beneficent disposition was clouded by a manner not very gracious; his virtue was tinctured with superstition; his good sense was disfigured by a deference to persons of a capacity inferior to his own; and his moderate temper exempted him not from hasty and precipitate resolutions." This sketch shows Charles in all his complexities, with his virtues, near virtues, and contradicting virtues. I have quoted it at length because it is hard to summarize without losing the subtleties that lie within it. Hume's moral theory is based fundamentally on judgments of character, 2 so those subtleties are important to his view. The character sketches that pervade the.. (shrink)
: The idea of enhancing our mental functions through medical means makes many people uncomfortable. People have a vague feeling that altering our brains tinkers with the core of our personalities and the core of ourselves. It changes who we are, and doing so seems wrong, even if the exact reasons for the unease are difficult to define. Many of the standard arguments against neuroenhancements—that they are unsafe, that they violate the distinction between therapy and enhancements, that they undermine equality, (...) and that they will be used coercively—fail to show why the use of any such technologies is wrong in principle. Two other objections—the arguments that such changes undermine our integrity and that they prevent us from living authentic lives—will condemn only a few of the uses that are proposed. The result is that very few uses of these drugs are morally suspect and that most uses are morally permissible. (shrink)
In part 12 of Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, Philo famously appears to reverse his course. After slicing the Argument from Design into small pieces throughout most of the first eleven parts of the Dialogues, he suddenly seems to endorse a version of it.
Burke suggests that we should view society as a partnership between the past, the present, and the future. I defend this idea by outlining how we can understand the interests of the past and future people and the obligations that they have towards each other. I argue that we have forward-looking obligations to leave the world a decent place, and backward-looking obligations to respect the legacy of the past. The latter obligation requires an understanding of the role that traditions and (...) meta-traditions should (and should not) play in tying together societies—especially national societies—over time. (shrink)
David Hume is an ardent supporter of the practice of religions toleration. For Hume, toleration forms part of the background that makes progress in philosophy possible, and it accounts for the superiority of philosophical thought in England in the eighteenth century. As he puts it in the introduction to the Treatise: “the improvements in reason and philosophy can only be owing to a land of toleration and of liberty”. Similarly, the narrator of part 11 of the First Enquiry comments.
Liberals often assume that once people see the costs of intolerance that they will come to embrace toleration and that once they can accept toleration as a modus vivendi, they will soon be able to see it as a good in its own right. But, I argue, that the logic that make in tolerance difficult to break also compel people to resist any attempts to make toleration more than a modus vivendi. True toleration will not be embraced unless the people (...) undergo a kind of conversion experience. (shrink)
We explore the various ethical challenges that arise during the practical implementation of an emergency resource allocation protocol. We argue that to implement an allocation plan in a crisis, a hospital system must complete five tasks: (1) formulate a set of general principles for allocation, (2) apply those principles to the disease at hand to create a concrete protocol, (3) collect the data required to apply the protocol, (4) construct a system to implement triage decisions with those data, and (5) (...) create a system for managing the consequences of implementing the protocol, including the effects on those who must carry out the plan, the medical staff, and the general public. Here we illustrate the complexities of each task and provide tentative solutions, by describing the experiences of the Coronavirus Ethics Response Group, an interdisciplinary team formed to address the ethical issues in pandemic resource planning at the University of Rochester Medical Center. While the plan was never put into operation, the process of preparing for emergency implementation exposed ethical issues that require attention. (shrink)
Toleration would seem to be the most rational response to deep conflicts. However, by examining the conditions under which trust can develop between warring parties, it becomes clear that a fundamental shift in values - a conversion - is required before toleration makes sense. This book argues that maintaining trust is the key to stable practices of toleration.
After a long search, Jonathan has finally found someone willing to donate a kidney to him and thereby free him from dialysis. Meredith is Jonathan's second cousin, and she considers herself a generous person, so although she barely knows Jonathan, she is willing to help. However, as Meredith learns more about the donation process, she begins to ask questions about Jonathan: “Is he HIV positive? I heard he got it using drugs. Has he been in jail? He's already had one (...) live donor, so what happened to the first kidney? Did he forget to take his drugs or something?” The transplant center must, then, decide if Meredith is, in fact, entitled to answers to these kinds of questions. According to the Consensus Statement on the Live Organ Donor, “It is incumbent on the transplant center to provide full and accurate disclosure to potential donors of all pertinent information regarding risk and benefit to the donor and recipient.” But whether answers to the Meredith's questions count as “pertinent information regarding the risk and benefit” is the issue at hand. (shrink)
David Hume is an ardent supporter of the practice of religions toleration. For Hume, toleration forms part of the background that makes progress in philosophy possible, and it accounts for the superiority of philosophical thought in England in the eighteenth century. As he puts it in the introduction to the Treatise: “the improvements in reason and philosophy can only be owing to a land of toleration and of liberty” (T Intro.7; SBN xvii).1 Similarly, the narrator of part 11 of the (...) First Enquiry comments: -/- Our conversation began with my admiring the singular good fortune of philosophy, which, as it requires entire liberty above all other privileges, and chiefly flourishes from the free opposition of sentiments and argu mentation, received its first birth in an age and country of freedom and toleration. (EHU 11.2; SBN 132) -/- The toleration to which Hume refers is broader than religious toleration, but in the context of the eighteenth century, religious toleration is clearly the paradigm case. Indeed, religious toleration represents one of the key accomplishments of the culminating event of Hume’s History of England: the Glorious Revolution of 1688. -/- Yet even though religious toleration forms the background of philosophy in general—or perhaps just because it does so—Hume offers precious few arguments for it, and they are, for the most part, given implicitly rather than as formal argu ments. Nevertheless, we can distinguish three different, though interrelated, lines of support for toleration in Hume’s thought: (i) an argument based on a general skepticism; (ii) an argument based on a contempt for organized religion; and (iii) a pragmatic argument based on the need for peace and orderly government. From our point of view, what is striking about all of these argument is how un-Lockean they are: Hume does not rely on the idea of a fundamental conceptual separation of church and state, nor on a natural right to freedom of conscience that characterizes writers working in the Lockean tradition. However, of the arguments he gives, only the last, I will argue, has any hope to provide a useful case for toleration. (shrink)
The limits of toleration are at the limits of trust. Without a minimal level of trust between different groups, any accommodation will quickly break down (Dees 1999). In many ways, the point here is obvious: people have to trust one another enough to make toleration possible. In other words, they have to feel that their fundamental moral interests are not threatened if they accept toleration. If that trust breaks down, then civil war—in either the hot or the cold variety—will break (...) out. A society built on toleration, then, requires a delicate balance between the practices within it that sustain toleration and those that build the trust between disparate groups. I explore these issues by looking at two groups--the non-Trinitarian Socinians in the 17th century and homosexuals in the 21st--to understand where those boundaries should be. (shrink)