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)
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 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.
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.
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.
A live organ donor needs to be informed carefully about the risks and benefits of her donation for both herself and her recipient, but a key ethical question is how much the donor is allowed to know about the recipient. To decide this question, we must first decide whether, out of respect for autonomy, the donor should decide how much she wants to know, or whether the transplant team, as the professionals, should decide what information is relevant to the donor's (...) decision. I argue that the transplant team should control the process. While the donor has the right to know enough about her recipient to assess the risk to herself and the prospects for a successful donation, she is not entitled to any further information, no matter how much she wants it. In particular, I argue that donors are not entitled to information that has not been shown to affect outcomes, but that they should be told if a recipient is HIV or that he has rejected a previous organ due to non-compliance. Donors have a right to make decisions with all the information they need, but recipients need not make their lives completely transparent. (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)
Demonstrating Richard Rorty’s breadth of scholarship and his influence on diverse issues across the social sciences and humanities, this comprehensive bibliography contains 1,165 citations. A unique reference work on neo-pragmatism, this bibliography is essential for anyone researching Rorty’s work and its impact on philosophy, literature, the arts, religion, the social sciences, politics, and education.
This article engages Richard Rorty’s controversial concept of ethnocentrism with the help of Randolf (Randy) S. David’s writings. The first section defines Rorty’s concept of ethnocentrism and responds to the general criticisms of relativism and divisiveness that have been made against it. The second section suggests a conceptual replacement for Rorty’s notion of a vicious ethnocentrism: egotism. Egotism is a kind of cultural ethnocentrism that is resistant to openness, creativity, and social transformation. Inspired by David’s work, the third and (...) final section suggests how the concepts of ethnocentrism and egotism might be of some use as conceptual tools for articulating contemporary social issues in the Philippines. (shrink)
A descriptive polytheist thinks there are at least two gods. John Hick and Richard Swinburne are descriptive polytheists. In this respect, they are like Thomas Aquinas and many other theists. What sets Swinburne and Hick apart from Aquinas, however, is that unlike him they are normative polytheists. That is, Swinburne and Hick think that it is right that we, or at least some of us, worship more than one god. However, the evidence available to me shows that only Swinburne, (...) and not Hick, is a cultic polytheist: he actually worships more than one god. I conclude that only Swinburne is a polytheist par excellence. (shrink)
Arguably the most influential of all contemporary English-speaking philosophers, Richard Rorty has transformed the way many inside and outside philosophy think about the discipline and the traditional ways of practising it. Drawing on a wide range of thinkers from Darwin and James to Quine, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Derrida, Rorty has injected a bold anti-foundationalist vision into philosophical debate, into discussions in literary theory, communication studies, political theory and education, and, as public intellectual, into national debates about the responsibilities of (...) America in the modern world. The essays in this volume offer a balanced exposition and critique of Rorty's views on knowledge, language, truth, science, morality and politics. The editorial introduction presents a valuable overview of Rorty's philosophical vision. Written by a distinguished team of philosophers, this volume will have an unusual appeal outside philosophy to students in the social sciences, literary studies, cultural studies and political theory. (shrink)
In an editorial to a recent issue of Neurology, RichardDees expresses the same criticism in an even more rigorous epistemic tone: Veikko Launis, Ph.D., is Professor of Medical Ethics and Adjunct Professor of Ethics and Social Philosophy at the University of Turku, Finland.FootnotesThis article is part of the Neuroethics of Brainreading research project, directed by myself and funded by the Academy of Finland. I am grateful to Olli Koistinen, Pekka Louhiala, Helena Siipi, and an anonymous referee for (...) helpful comments, criticism, and suggestions. (shrink)
Abstract: In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce argues there is good reason to think that the “moral sense” is a biological adaptation, and that this provides a genealogy of the moral sense that has a debunking effect, driving us to the conclusion that “our moral beliefs are products of a process that is entirely independent of their truth, … we have no grounds one way or the other for maintaining these beliefs.” I argue that Joyce's skeptical conclusion is (...) not warranted. Even if the moral sense is a biological adaptation, developed moralities (such as Aristotelian eudaimonism) can “co-opt” it into new roles so that the moral judgments it makes possible can come to transcend the evolutionary process that is “entirely independent of their truth.” While evolutionary theory can shed much light on our shared human nature, moral theories must still be vindicated, or debunked, by moral arguments. (shrink)
Interview with Richard Rorty, April 1997, Amsterdam. Occasion for the interview was Rorty being the occupant of the Spinoza Chair in 1997. The interview is mostly about Rorty's paper 'The Intellectuals and the Poor', in which he criticises the politics of left-wing academics.
This discussion revises and extends Jonny Anomaly's ‘public goods’ account of public health ethics in light of recent criticism from RichardDees. Public goods are goods that are both non-rival and non-excludable. What is significant about such goods is that they are not always provided efficiently by the market. Indeed, the state can sometimes realize efficiency gains either by supplying such goods directly or by compelling private purchase. But public goods are not the only goods that the market (...) may fail to provide efficiently. This point to a way of broadening the public goods account of public health to accommodate Dees' counterexamples, without abandoning its distinctive appeal. On the market failures approach to public health ethics, the role of public health is to correct public health-related market failures of all kinds, so far as possible. The underlying moral commitment is to economic efficiency in the sense of Pareto: if we can re-allocate resources in the economy so as to raise the welfare of some without lowering the welfare of any other, we ought to do so. (shrink)