The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the eminent scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition with a substantial introduction by Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross. Ross's book is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and Stratton-Lake provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's great (...) work today. (shrink)
Should we grant rights to artificially intelligent robots? Most current and near-future robots do not meet the hard criteria set by deontological and utilitarian theory. Virtue ethics can avoid this problem with its indirect approach. However, both direct and indirect arguments for moral consideration rest on ontological features of entities, an approach which incurs several problems. In response to these difficulties, this paper taps into a different conceptual resource in order to be able to grant some degree of moral (...) consideration to some intelligent social robots: it sketches a novel argument for moral consideration based on social relations. It is shown that to further develop this argument we need to revise our existing ontological and social-political frameworks. It is suggested that we need a social ecology, which may be developed by engaging with Western ecology and Eastern worldviews. Although this relational turn raises many difficult issues and requires more work, this paper provides a rough outline of an alternative approach to moral consideration that can assist us in shaping our relations to intelligent robots and, by extension, to all artificial and biological entities that appear to us as more than instruments for our human purposes. (shrink)
The rightness and wrongness of actions fits on a continuous scale. This fits the way we evaluate actions chosen among a diverse range of options, even though English speakers don’t use the words “righter” and “wronger”. I outline and defend a version of scalar consequentialism, according to which rightness is a matter of degree, determined by how good the consequences are. Linguistic resources are available to let us truly describe actions simply as right. Some deontological theories face problems in accounting (...) for degrees of rightness, as they don't invoke continuous parameters among the right-making features of action. (shrink)
An adequate theory of rights ought to forbid the harming of animals (human or nonhuman) to promote trivial interests of humans, as is often done in the animal-user industries. But what should the rights view say about situations in which harming some animals is necessary to prevent intolerable injustices to other animals? I develop an account of respectful treatment on which, under certain conditions, it’s justified to intentionally harm some individuals to prevent serious harm to others. This can (...) be compatible with recognizing the inherent value of the ones who are harmed. My theory has important implications for contemporary moral issues in nonhuman animal ethics, such as the development of cultured meat and animal research. (shrink)
Offers a forthright approach to the many disquieting questions surrounding the emotional debate over animal rights. This book includes a chapter on animal agriculture, and additional discussions of animal law, companion animal issues, genetic engineering, animal pain, animal research, and other topics.
Margaret Gilbert presents the first full-length treatment of a central class of rights: demand-rights. To have such a right is to have the standing or authority to demand a particular action of another person. Gilbert argues that joint commitment is a ground of demand-rights, and gives joint commitment accounts of both agreements and promises.
The Rights of Others examines the boundaries of political community by focusing on political membership - the principles and practices for incorporating aliens and strangers, immigrants and newcomers, refugees and asylum seekers into existing polities. Boundaries define some as members, others as aliens. But when state sovereignty is becoming frayed, and national citizenship is unravelling, definitions of political membership become much less clear. Indeed few issues in world politics today are more important, or more troubling. In her Seeley Lectures, (...) the distinguished political theorist Seyla Benhabib makes a powerful plea, echoing Immanuel Kant, for moral universalism and cosmopolitan federalism. She advocates not open but porous boundaries, recognising both the admittance rights of refugees and asylum seekers, but also the regulatory rights of democracies. The Rights of Others is a major intervention in contemporary political theory, of interest to large numbers of students and specialists in politics, law, philosophy and international relations. (shrink)
What grounds human rights? How do we determine that something is a genuine human right? This chapter offers a new answer: human beings have human rights to the fundamental conditions for pursuing a good life. The fundamental conditions for pursuing a good life are certain goods, capacities, and options that human beings qua human beings need whatever else they qua individuals might need in order to pursue a characteristically good human life. This chapter explains how this Fundamental Conditions (...) Approach is better than James Griffin’s Agency Approach as well as Martha Nussbaum’s Central Capabilities Approach. It also shows how it can be compatible with the increasingly popular Political Conceptions of human rights defended by John Rawls, Charles Beitz, and Joseph Raz. (shrink)
Michael Ignatieff draws on his extensive experience as a writer and commentator on world affairs to present a penetrating account of the successes, failures, and prospects of the human rights revolution. Since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this revolution has brought the world moral progress and broken the nation-state's monopoly on the conduct of international affairs. But it has also faced challenges. Ignatieff argues that human rights activists have rightly drawn (...) criticism from Asia, the Islamic world, and within the West itself for being overambitious and unwilling to accept limits. It is now time, he writes, for activists to embrace a more modest agenda and to reestablish the balance between the rights of states and the rights of citizens.Ignatieff begins by examining the politics of human rights, assessing when it is appropriate to use the fact of human rights abuse to justify intervention in other countries. He then explores the ideas that underpin human rights, warning that human rights must not become an idolatry. In the spirit of Isaiah Berlin, he argues that human rights can command universal assent only if they are designed to protect and enhance the capacity of individuals to lead the lives they wish. By embracing this approach and recognizing that state sovereignty is the best guarantee against chaos, Ignatieff concludes, Western nations will have a better chance of extending the real progress of the past fifty years. Throughout, Ignatieff balances idealism with a sure sense of practical reality earned from his years of travel in zones of war and political turmoil around the globe.Based on the Tanner Lectures that Ignatieff delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2000, the book includes two chapters by Ignatieff, an introduction by Amy Gutmann, comments by four leading scholars--K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur, and Diane F. Orentlicher--and a response by Ignatieff. (shrink)
Animal rights and moral theories -- Arguing for one's species -- Utilitarianism and animals : Peter Singer's case for animal liberation -- Tom Regan : animal rights as natural rights -- Virtue ethics and animals -- Contractarianism and animal rights -- Animal minds.
Using the accounts of Gewirth and Griffin as examples, the article criticises accounts of human rights as those are understood in human rights practices, which regard them as rights all human beings have in virtue of their humanity. Instead it suggests that (with Rawls) human rights set the limits to the sovereignty of the state, but criticises Rawls conflation of sovereignty with legitimate authority. The resulting conception takes human rights, like other rights, to be (...) contingent on social conditions, and in particular on the nature of the international system. (shrink)
_Property Rights: Philosophic Foundations,_ first published in 1977, comprehensively examines the general justifications for systems of private property rights, and discusses with great clarity the major arguments as to the rights and responsibilities of property ownership. In particular, the arguments that hold that there are natural rights derived from first occupancy, labour, utility, liberty and virtue are considered, as are the standard anti-property arguments based on disutility, virtue and inequality, and the belief that justice in distribution (...) must take precedence over private ownership. Lawrence Becker goes on to contend that there are four sound lines of argument for private property that, together with what is sound in the anti-property arguments, must be co-ordinated to form the foundations of a new theory. He therefore expounds a concise but sophisticated theory of property that is relevant to the modern world, and concludes by indicating some of the implications of his theory. (shrink)
Twentieth century philosophers introduced the distinction between “objective rightness” and “subjective rightness” to achieve two primary goals. The first goal is to reduce the paradoxical tension between our judgments of (i) what is best for an agent to do in light of the actual circumstances in which she acts and (ii) what is wisest for her to do in light of her mistaken or uncertain beliefs about her circumstances. The second goal is to provide moral guidance to an agent who (...) may be uncertain about the circumstances in which she acts, and hence is unable to use her standard moral principle directly in deciding what to do. This paper distinguishes two important senses of “moral guidance”; proposes criteria of adequacy for accounts of subjective rightness; canvasses existing definitions for “subjective rightness”; finds them all deficient; and proposes a new and more successful account. It argues that each comprehensive moral theory must include multiple principles of subjective rightness to address the epistemic situations of the full range of moral decision-makers, and shows that accounts of subjective rightness formulated in terms of what it would reasonable for the agent to believe cannot provide that guidance. -/- . (shrink)
What is a normative reason for acting? In this paper, I introduce and defend a novel answer to this question. The starting-point is the view that reasons are right-makers. By exploring difficulties facing it, I arrive at an alternative, according to which reasons are evidence of respects in which it is right to perform an act, for example, that it keeps a promise. This is similar to the proposal that reasons for a person to act are evidence that she ought (...) to do so; however, as I explain, it differs from that proposal in two significant ways. As a result, I argue, the evidence-based account of reasons I advance shares the advantages of its predecessor while avoiding many of the difficulties facing it. (shrink)
Several philosophers argue that individuals have an interest-protecting right to parent; specifically, the interest is in rearing children whom one can parent adequately. If such a right exists it can provide a solution to scepticism about duties of justice concerning distant future generations and bypass the challenge provided by the non-identity problem. Current children - whose identity is independent from environment-affecting decisions of current adults - will have, in due course, a right to parent. Adequate parenting requires resources. We owe (...) duties of justice to current children, including the satisfaction of their interest-protecting rights; therefore we owe them the conditions for rearing children adequately in the future. But to engage in permissible parenting they, too, will need sufficient resources to ensure their own children's future ability to bring up children under adequate conditions. Because this reasoning goes on ad infinitum it entails that each generation of adults owes its contemporary generation of children at least those resources that are necessary for sustaining human life indefinitely at an adequate level of wellbeing. (shrink)
This paper explores the connections between human rights, human dignity, and power. The idea of human dignity is omnipresent in human rights discourse, but its meaning and point is not always clear. It is standardly used in two ways, to refer to a normative status of persons that makes their treatment in terms of human rights a proper response, and a social condition of persons in which their human rights are fulfilled. This paper pursues three tasks. (...) First, it provides an analysis of the content and an interpretation of the role of the idea of human dignity in current human rights discourse. The interpretation includes a pluralist view of human interests and dignity that avoids a narrow focus on rational agency. Second, this paper characterizes the two aspects of human dignity in terms of capabilities. Certain general human capabilities are among the facts that ground status-dignity, and the presence of certain more specific capabilities constitutes condition-dignity. Finally, this paper explores how the pursuit of human rights and human dignity links to distributions and uses of power. Since capabilities are a form of power, and human rights are in part aimed at respecting and promoting capabilities, human rights involve empowerment. Exploring the connections between human rights, capabilities, and empowerment provides resources to defend controversial human rights such as the right to democratic political participation, and to respond to worries about the feasibility of their fulfillment. This paper also argues that empowerment must be coupled with solidaristic concern in order to respond to unavoidable facts of social dependency and vulnerability. (shrink)
Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it. Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one's ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and (...) nonhuman animals is being fundamentally rethought. This book offers a state-of-the-art treatment of that rethinking. (shrink)
The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the great scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition with a substantial introduction by Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross. Ross's book is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and Stratton-Lake provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's great (...) work today. (shrink)
Medical interventions such as methadone treatment for drug addicts or “chemical castration” for sex offenders have been used in several jurisdictions alongside or as an alternative to traditional punishments, such as incarceration. As our understanding of the biological basis for human behaviour develops, our criminal justice system may make increasing use of such medical techniques and may become less reliant on incarceration. Academic debate on this topic has largely focused on whether offenders can validly consent to medical interventions, given the (...) coercive environment of the criminal justice system. Both sides in this debate share the assumption that administering medical interventions to offenders without their valid consent would be unethical. Recently, Thomas Douglas has mounted a formidable challenge to this “consent requirement”. Essentially, his argument rests on a comparison between prison and medical interventions. Douglas asks: if the state is entitled to impose a prison sentence on a criminal without the criminal’s consent, why is consent required for the imposition of a medical intervention? The most obvious way of defending the consent requirement against Douglas’s challenge appeals to the fact that incarceration merely interferes with the right to free movement, but medical interventions interfere with the right to bodily integrity. This argument rests on what Douglas calls the “robustness claim”—the claim that the right to bodily integrity is more robust than the right to freedom of movement. In other words, the right to freedom of movement loses its protective force in a wider range of circumstances than the right to bodily integrity. Douglas’s article seeks to undermine the robustness claim, by arguing that neither case-based intuitions, nor theoretical considerations support this claim. In this article, I will attempt to raise some doubts about Douglas’s challenge to the consent requirement and the robustness claim. (shrink)
Can the right to private property be claimed as one of the `rights of mankind'? This is the central question of this comprehensive and critical examination of the subject of private property. Jeremy Waldron contrasts two types of arguments about rights: those based on historical entitlement, and those based on the importance of property to freedom. He provides a detailed discussion of the theories of property found in Locke's Second Treatise and Hegel's Philosophy of Right to illustrate this (...) contrast. The book contains original analyses of the concept of ownership, the ideas of rights, and the relation between property and equality. The author's overriding determination throughout is to follow through the arguments and values used to justify private ownership. He finds that the traditional arguments about property yield some surprisingly radical conclusions. (shrink)
This volume brings together a wide-ranging collection of the papers written by Jeremy Waldron, one of the most internationally respected political theorists writing today. The main focus of the collection is on substantive issues in modern political philosophy. The first six chapters deal with freedom, toleration and neutrality and argue for a robust conception of liberty. Waldron defends the idea that people have a right to act in ways others disapprove of, and that the state should be neutral vis-á-vis religious (...) and ethical systems. The chapters that follow are concerned with socio-economic rights. Waldron argues that poverty and homelessness are not to be understood apart from the value of freedom. On the contrary our moral response to them should be based on the same values that underlie traditional liberal philosophy. (shrink)
Introduction: the foundation of justice -- Practical reason and justifying reasons: on the foundation of morality -- Moral autonomy and the autonomy of morality : toward a theory of normativity after Kant -- Ethics and morality -- The justification of justice: Rawls's political liberalism and Habermas's discourse theory in dialogue -- Political liberty: integrating five conceptions of autonomy -- A critical theory of multicultural toleration -- The rule of reasons: three models of deliberative democracy -- Social justice, justification, and power (...) -- The basic right to justification: toward a constructivist conception of human rights -- Constructions of transnational justice: comparing John Rawls's the law of peoples and Otfried Höffe's democracy in an age of globalisation -- Justice, morality, and power in the global context -- Toward a critical theory of transnational justice. (shrink)
This volume provides a general overview of the basic ethical and philosophical issues of animal rights. It asks questions such as: Do animals have moral rights? If so, what does this mean? What sorts of mental lives do animals have, and how should we understand welfare? By presenting models for understanding animals' moral status and rights, and examining their mental lives and welfare, David DeGrazia explores the implications for how we should treat animals in connection with our (...) diet, zoos, and research. Animal Rights distinguishes itself by combining intellectual rigor with accessibility, offering a distinct moral voice with a non-polemical tone. (shrink)
This paper provides an answer to the question why birth parents have a moral right to keep and raise their biological babies. I start with a critical discussion of the parent-centred model of justifying parents’ rights, recently proposed by Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift. Their account successfully defends a fundamental moral right to parent in general but, because it does not provide an account of how individuals acquire the right to parent a particular baby, it is insufficient for addressing (...) the question whether and why there is a right to parent one’s biological child. Such a right is important because, in its absence, fairness towards adequate prospective parents who are involuntarily childless would demand a ‘babies redistribution’; moreover, in societies with entrenched histories of injustice there may be reasons of fairness for shuffling babies amongst all recent parents. I supplement the Brighouse-Swift account of fundamental parental rights by an account of how adequate parents acquire the right to parent their biological babies. I advance two arguments to this conclusion: by the time of birth, the birth parents will have already shouldered various burdens in order to bring children into existence, and are likely to have formed an intimate relationship with the future baby. Denying birth parents who would make at least adequate parents the right to keep their baby would be unfair to them and would destroy already formed parent-baby relationships which, I assume, are intrinsically valuable. (shrink)
The ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ (Principles) that provide guidance for the implementation of the United Nations’ ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework (Framework) will probably succeed in making human rights matters more customary in corporate management procedures. They are likely to contribute to higher levels of accountability and awareness within corporations in respect of the negative impact of business activities on human rights. However, we identify tensions between the idea that the respect of human (...) class='Hi'>rights is a perfect moral duty for corporations and the Principle’s ‘human rights due diligence’ requirement. We argue that the effectiveness of the ‘human rights due diligence’ is in many respects dependent upon the moral commitment of corporations. The Principles leave room for an instrumental or strategic implementation of due diligence, which in some cases could result in a depreciation of the fundamental norms they seek to promote. We reveal some limits of pragmatic approaches to coping with business-related human rights abuses. As these limits become more apparent, not only does the case for further progress in international and extraterritorial human rights law become more compelling, but so too does the argument for a more forceful discussion on the moral foundations of human rights duties for corporations. (shrink)
Natural Right and History (Chicago, 1953).Leo Strauss - 1953 - The Correspondence Between Ethical Egoists and Natural Rights Theorists is Considerable Today, as Suggested by a Comparison of My" Recent Work in Ethical Egoism," American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (2):1-15.details
In this classic work, Leo Strauss examines the problem of natural right and argues that there is a firm foundation in reality for the distinction between right and wrong in ethics and politics. On the centenary of Strauss's birth, and the fiftieth anniversary of the Walgreen Lectures which spawned the work, _Natural Right and History_ remains as controversial and essential as ever. "Strauss... makes a significant contribution towards an understanding of the intellectual crisis in which we find ourselves... [and] brings (...) to his task an admirable scholarship and a brilliant, incisive mind."—John H. Hallowell, _American Political Science Review_ Leo Strauss was the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Political Science at the University of Chicago. (shrink)
This article introduces a new formulation of the interest theory of rights. The focus is on ‘Bentham’s test’, which was devised by Matthew Kramer to limit the expansiveness of the interest theory. According to the test, a party holds a right correlative to a duty only if that party stands to undergo a development that is typically detrimental if the duty is breached. The article shows how the entire interest theory can be reformulated in terms of the test. The (...) article then focuses on a further strength of the interest theory, brought to the fore by the new formulation. In any Western legal system, the tortious maltreatment of a child or a mentally disabled individual results in a compensatory duty. The interest theory can account for such duties in a simple and elegant way. The will theory, on the other hand, struggles to explain such compensatory duties unless it abandons some of its main tenets. (shrink)
I argue against Appel's recent proposal – in this JOURNAL – that there is a fundamental human right to sexual pleasure, and that therefore the sexual pleasure of severely disabled people should be publicly funded – by thereby partially legalizing prostitution. I propose an alternative that does not need to pose a new positive human right; does not need public funding; does not need the legalization of prostitution; and that would offer a better experience to the severely disabled: charitable non-profit (...) organizations whose members would voluntarily and freely provide sexual pleasure to the severely disabled. (shrink)
When the Supreme Court in 2003 struck down a Texas law prohibiting homosexual sodomy, it cited the right to privacy based on the guarantee of "substantive due process" embodied by the Constitution. But did the court act undemocratically by overriding the rights of the majority of voters in Texas? Scholars often point to such cases as exposing a fundamental tension between the democratic principle of majority rule and the liberal concern to protect individual rights. Democratic Rights challenges (...) this view by showing that, in fact, democracy demands many of these rights. Corey Brettschneider argues that ideal democracy is comprised of three core values--political autonomy, equality of interests, and reciprocity--with both procedural and substantive implications. These values entitle citizens not only to procedural rights of participation but also to substantive rights that a "pure procedural" democracy might not protect. What are often seen as distinctly liberal substantive rights to privacy, property, and welfare can, then, be understood within what Brettschneider terms a "value theory of democracy." Drawing on the work of John Rawls and deliberative democrats such as Jürgen Habermas, he demonstrates that such rights are essential components of--rather than constraints on--an ideal democracy. Thus, while defenders of the democratic ideal rightly seek the power of all to participate, they should also demand the rights that are the substance of self-government. (shrink)
Whether children have rights is a debate that in recent years has spilled over into all areas of public life. It has never been more topical than now as the assumed rights of parents over their children is challenged on an almost daily basis. David Archard offers the first serious and sustained philosophical examination of children and their rights. Archard reviews arguments for and against according children rights. He concludes that every child has at least the (...) right to the best possible upbringing. Denying that parents have any significant rights over their children, he is able to challenge current thinking about the proper roles of state and family in rearing children. Crucially, he considers the problem of how to define and understand `child abuse'. (shrink)
Why should all human beings have certain rights simply by virtue of being human? One justification is an appeal to religious authority. However, in increasingly secular societies this approach has its limits. An alternative answer is that human rights are justified through human dignity. This paper argues that human rights and human dignity are better separated for three reasons. First, the justification paradox: the concept of human dignity does not solve the justification problem for human rights (...) but rather aggravates it in secular societies. Second, the Kantian cul-de-sac: if human rights were based on Kant’s concept of dignity rather than theist grounds, such rights would lose their universal validity. Third, hazard by association: human dignity is nowadays more controversial than the concept of human rights, especially given unresolved tensions between aspirational dignity and inviolable dignity. In conclusion, proponents of universal human rights will fare better with alternative frameworks to justify human rights rather than relying on the concept of dignity. (shrink)
The Rights of War and Peace is the first fully historical account of the formative period of modern theories of international law. Professor Tuck examines the arguments over the moral basis for war and international aggression, and links the debates to the writings of the great political theorists such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant. The book illuminates the presuppositions behind much current political theory, and puts into a new perspective the connection between liberalism and imperialism.
Deontologists believe in two key exceptions to the duty to promote the good: restrictions forbid us from harming others, and prerogatives permit us not to harm ourselves. How are restrictions and prerogatives related? A promising answer is that they share a source in rights. I argue that prerogatives cannot be grounded in familiar kinds of rights, only in something much stranger: waivable rights against oneself.
This paper will consider the right not to know in the context of psychiatric disorders. It will outline the arguments for and against acquiring knowledge about the results of genetic testing for conditions such as breast cancer and Huntington’s disease, and examine whether similar considerations apply to disclosing to clients the results of genetic testing for psychiatric disorders such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The right not to know will also be examined in the context of the diagnosis of psychiatric (...) disorders that are associated with stigma or for which there is no effective treatment. (shrink)
A number of international organizations have claimed that children have a right to be loved, but there is a worry that this claim may just be an empty rhetoric. In this paper, I seek to show that there could be such a right by providing a justification for this right in terms of human rights, by demonstrating that love can be an appropriate object of a duty, and by proposing that biological parents should normally be made the primary bearers (...) of this duty, while all other able persons in appropriate circumstances have the associate duties to help biological parents discharge their duties. I also consider some policy implications of this right. (shrink)
This article contextualises current debates over human rights and transnational corporations. More specifically, we begin by first providing the background to John Ruggie's appointment as 'Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises'. Second, we provide a brief discussion of the rise of transnational corporations, and of their growing importance in terms of global governance. Third, we introduce the notion of human rights, and note some difficulties associated (...) therewith. Fourth, we refer to Ruggie's scholarly work on 'embedded liberalism', the 'global public domain' and 'social constructivism'. Following this, we refer to the other five papers contained in this "Journal of Business Ethics" special issue, 'Spheres of Influence/Spheres of Responsibility: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights', and consider some of the potential obstacles to Ruggie's recent suggestion that a 'new consensus' has formed, or is forming, around his 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework. We conclude by raising questions regarding the processes of consensus-building around, and the operationalisation of, Ruggie's 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework. (shrink)
The right to withdraw from participation in research is recognized in virtually all national and international guidelines for research on human subjects. It is therefore surprising that there has been little justification for that right in the literature. We argue that the right to withdraw should protect research participants from information imbalance, inability to hedge, inherent uncertainty, and untoward bodily invasion, and it serves to bolster public trust in the research enterprise. Although this argument is not radical, it provides a (...) useful way to determine how the right should be applied in various cases. (shrink)
According to the dominant position in the just war tradition from Augustine to Anscombe and beyond, there is no "moral equality of combatants." That is, on the traditional view the combatants participating in a justified war may kill their enemy combatants participating in an unjustified war - but not vice versa (barring certain qualifications). I shall argue here, however, that in the large number of wars (and in practically all modern wars) where the combatants on the justified side violate the (...)rights of innocent people ("collateral damage"), these combatants are in fact liable to attack by the combatants on the unjustified side. I will support this view with a rights-based account of liability to attack and then defend it against a number of objections raised in particular by Jeff McMahan. The result is that the thesis of the moral equality of combatants holds good for a large range of armed conflicts while the opposing thesis is of very limited practical relevance. (shrink)
I argue in favour of the central claim of virtue-ethical accounts of right action: that right action is virtuous action. First, I disambiguate this claim and argue for a specific interpretation of it. Second, I provide reasons to prefer target-centred over both agent-centred and motive-centred accounts of virtuous action. Third, I argue that an action is right if, only if, and because it is overall virtuous. Finally, I respond to important arguments to the contrary.
The practice of unrestricted universal suffrage is unjust. Citizens have a right that any political power held over them should be exercised by competent people in a competent way. Universal suffrage violates this right. To satisfy this right, universal suffrage in most cases must be replaced by a moderate epistocracy, in which suffrage is restricted to citizens of sufficient political competence. Epistocracy itself seems to fall foul of the qualified acceptability requirement, that political power must be distributed in ways against (...) which there are no qualified objections. However, it is less intrinsically unjust than democracy with universal suffrage, and probably produces more just outcomes. Thus epistocracy is more just than democracy, even if not perfectly just. (shrink)
What should we make of claims by members of other groups to have moralities different from our own? Human Rights in Chinese Thought gives an extended answer to this question in the first study of its kind. It integrates a full account of the development of Chinese rights discourse - reaching back to important, though neglected, origins of that discourse in 17th and 18th century Confucianism - with philosophical consideration of how various communities should respond to contemporary Chinese (...) claims about the uniqueness of their human rights concepts. The book elaborates a plausible kind of moral pluralism and demonstrates that Chinese ideas of human rights do indeed have distinctive characteristics, but it nonetheless argues for the importance and promise of cross-cultural moral engagement. (shrink)
Something Aristotle calls ‘right logos’ plays a crucial role in his theory of virtue. But the meaning of ‘logos’ in this context is notoriously contested. I argue against the standard translation ‘reason’, and—drawing on parallels with Plato’s work, especially the Laws—in favor of its being used to denote what transforms an inferior epistemic state into a superior one: an explanatory account. Thus Aristotelian phronēsis, like his and Plato’s technē and epistēmē, is a matter of grasping explanatory accounts: in this case, (...) accounts that identify the right action and say why it is right. Arguably, Aristotelian rationality is a matter of being able to grasp accounts in general. (shrink)