Codes of professional ethics and cases designed to teach ethical decision making are written for individual professionals and ignore the systems level of analysis. They typically employ a lineal view of causality and overvalue placement of blame as a component of ethical problem solving. This article takes a systems approach to ethical problems and identifies aspects of systems that promote or impede ethical decision making. Psychological abuse of children is used as an example of a problem requiring a coordinated, systemic (...) response to ethical issues such as autonomy, privacy, and confidentiality. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill argued, in his Principles of Political Economy, that existing laws and customs of private property ought to be reformed to promote a far more egalitarian form of capitalism than hitherto observed anywhere. He went on to suggest that such an ideal capitalism might evolve spontaneously into a decentralized socialism involving a market system of competing worker co-operatives. That possibility of market socialism emerged only as the working classes gradually developed the intellectual and moral qualities required for worker (...) co-operatives to succeed against private firms. Workers would tend to reject the hierarchical wage relation as they developed the requisite personal qualities, he believed, and capitalists, facing escalating wages for skilled labour as a result of the diminishing supply of high-quality workers for hire, would tend to lend their capital to the worker co-operatives ‘at a diminishing rate of interest, and at last, perhaps, even to exchange their capital for terminable annuities. In this or some such mode’, he speculated, ‘the existing accumulations of capital might honestly, and by a kind of spontaneous process, become in the end the joint property of all who participate in their productive employment: a transformation which, thus effected, would be the nearest approach to social justice, and the most beneficial ordering of industrial affairs for the universal good, which it is possible at present to foresee.’. (shrink)
I continue my argument that Millian qualitative superiorities are infinite superiorities: one pleasant feeling, or type of pleasant feeling, is qualitatively superior to another in Mill's sense if and only if even a bit of the superior is more pleasant than any finite quantity of the inferior, however large. This gives rise to a hierarchy of higher and lower pleasures such that a reasonable hedonist always refuses to sacrifice a higher for a lower irrespective of the finite amounts of each. (...) Some indication of why this absolute refusal may be reasonable is provided in the course of outlining the content of the Millian hierarchy. It emerges that Mill's hedonistic utilitarianism has an extraordinary structure because it gives absolute priority over competing considerations to a code of justice that distributes equal rights and correlative duties for all. His utilitarianism also recognizes that certain aesthetic and spiritual pleasures may be qualitatively superior even to the pleasant feeling of security associated with the moral sentiment of justice. Thus, for instance, a noble individual may reasonably choose to waive his own rights so as to perform beautiful supererogatory actions that provide great benefits for others at the sacrifice of the right-holder's own vital interests. (shrink)
A claim that certain purely private matters should be beyond the reach of society's laws, moral rules, and other customs is central to the distinctive liberalism of John Stuart Mill. On Liberty, perhaps the most eloquent defense of individual liberty ever written, laments the hostility allegedly displayed in modern mass societies toward “the right of each individual to act [in private matters] as seems good to his judgement and inclinations”. In Mill's view, a free society must design its institutions with (...) due regard for what he terms “individuality.” That is, public authority, whether in the form of law, customary opinion, or economic power, must be self-limiting so that it does not interfere with the rights of individuals to choose as they like with respect to such private concerns as religious faith, reading materials, living companions, and consumption of drugs and alcohol. Individuals and voluntary groups should be permitted to do whatever they prefer within their private spheres even if everyone else in society dislikes what they do, is annoyed by them, and actually chooses not to be around them or to befriend them. (shrink)
Geoffrey Scarre has recently argued that the version of qualitative hedonism which I attribute to Mill is unsatisfactory for various reasons. In his view, even if it is formally compatible with value monism, involves non-hedonistic elements and offers an implausible account of the relationship between and pleasures. In this paper, I show that his objections, which are similar in spirit to those pressed earlier by Bradley, Moore and others against Mill, are unfounded where not confused. The Mill/Riley line does (...) not rely on non-hedonistic standards and has sufficient flexibility to account for many different kinds of pleasures and pleasing activities. It remains a coherent version of qualitative hedonism, worthy of further consideration and study. (shrink)
This Routledge Philosophy GuideBook introduces John Stuart Mill and one of his major works, On Liberty . We see that in On Liberty Mill outlines the importance of moral rights, respect for rule of law, and individuality. Written with students in mind, Jonathan Riley gracefully eases the reader into Mill's work, life, and philosophy. An ideal read for those coming to Mill for the first time, and for anyone with an interest in political philosophy.
Michael Oakeshott as a Critic of Hobbes's Theory of the Will - ABSTRACT: Patrick Riley asks why the post-War Oakeshott stopped speaking of the incoherence of Hobbes’s philosophy of volition, as he had in his Hobbes studies before the War. One answer is that he became more and more sensitive to the necessity of counterbalancing the determinist reading of Hobbes, which tended to be dominant in the 1970s’ Hobbes studies. He cites the example of Thomas Spragens’s The Politics of (...) Motion , according to which the human will appears only as a natural movement in a material universe. Although Jürgen Overhoff’s Theory of the Will advances the view that there is complete coherence in Hobbes’s conception of volition, Riley finds his arguments unconvincing. In the end, Riley declares himself favorable to Oakeshott’s "less satisfactory" interpretation of Hobbes, given the incoherence between the Hobbesian critique of free will, fully developed in The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance, and the requirements of a political theory of contract in terms of a theory of rational will. (shrink)
In this major reinterpretation and contemporary defence of Mill's political philosophy, Riley offers a new reading of Mill's radical doctrine that is quite distinct from the prevalent and vague understanding of the term 'liberalism'. Based on the argument of On Liberty , the book begins by indicating the current debates about Mill's liberalism, followed by a summary of the argument, and an exploration of the alternative forms of liberalism that have since emerged, such as the doctrines of Green, Bosanquet (...) and Berlin. Riley then provides a full reinterpretation of Mill's doctrine covering issues of social custom and behaviour, and recent claims about Millian application on cases of pornography and prostitution . This fascinating investigation of one of the most controversial doctrines in philosophy is essential reading for students of Mill and political philosophy, and for those interested in the concept of liberty and its application. (shrink)
In this major reinterpretation and contemporary defence of Mill's political philosophy, Riley offers a new reading of Mill's radical doctrine that is quite distinct from the prevalent and vague understanding of the term 'liberalism'. Based on the argument of _On Liberty_, the book begins by indicating the current debates about Mill's liberalism, followed by a summary of the argument, and an exploration of the alternative forms of liberalism that have since emerged, such as the doctrines of Green, Bosanquet and (...) Berlin. Riley then provides a full reinterpretation of Mill's doctrine covering issues of social custom and behaviour, and recent claims about Millian application on cases of pornography and prostitution_. _This fascinating investigation of one of the most controversial doctrines in philosophy is essential reading for students of Mill and political philosophy, and for those interested in the concept of liberty and its application. (shrink)
This Routledge Philosophy GuideBook introduces John Stuart Mill and one of his major works, _On Liberty_. We see that in _On Liberty_ Mill outlines the importance of moral rights, respect for rule of law, and individuality. Written with students in mind, Jonathan Riley gracefully eases the reader into Mill's work, life, and philosophy. An ideal read for those coming to Mill for the first time, and for anyone with an interest in political philosophy.
A scholarly edition of Nicolas Malebranche's Treatise on Nature and Grace by Patrick Riley. The edition presents an authoritative text, together with an introduction, commentary notes, and scholarly apparatus.
How has engineering ethics addressed gender concerns to date? How have the ideas of feminist philosophers and feminist ethicists made their way into engineering ethics? What might an explicitly feminist engineering ethics look like? This paper reviews some major themes in feminist ethics and then considers three areas in which these themes have been taken up in engineering ethics to date. First, Caroline Whitbeck’s work in engineering ethics integrates considerations from her own earlier writings and those of other feminist philosophers, (...) but does not use the feminist label. Second, efforts to incorporate the Ethic of Care and principles of Social Justice into engineering have drawn on feminist scholarship and principles, but these commitments can be lost in translation to the broader engineering community. Third, the film Henry’s Daughters brings gender considerations into the mainstream of engineering ethics, but does not draw on feminist ethics per se; despite the best intentions in broaching a difficult subject, the film unfortunately does more harm than good when it comes to sexual harassment education. I seek not only to make the case that engineers should pay attention to feminist ethics and engineering ethicists make more use of feminist ethics traditions in the field, but also to provide some avenues for how to approach integrating feminist ethics in engineering. The literature review and analysis of the three examples point to future work for further developing what might be called feminist engineering ethics. (shrink)
In some areas of cognitive science we are confronted with ultrafast cognition, exquisite context sensitivity, and scale-free variation in measured cognitive activities. To move forward, we suggest a need to embrace this complexity, equipping cognitive science with tools and concepts used in the study of complex dynamical systems. The science of movement coordination has benefited already from this change, successfully circumventing analogous paradoxes by treating human activities as phenomena of self-organization. Therein, action and cognition are seen to be emergent in (...) ultrafast symmetry breaking across the brain and body; exquisitely constituted of the otherwise trivial details of history, context, and environment; and exhibiting the characteristic scale-free signature of self-organization. (shrink)
Amartya Sen has recently leveled a series of what he alleges to be quite serious very general objections against Rawls, Rawlsian fellow travelers, and other social contract accounts of justice. In The Idea of Justice, published in 2009, Sen specifically charges his target philosophical views with what calls transcendentalism, procedural parochialism, and with being mistakenly narrowly focused on institutions. He also thinks there is a basic incoherence—arising from a version of Derek Parfit’s Identity Problem—internal to the Rawslian theoretical apparatus. Sen (...) would have political philosophy pursue intersocietal comparisons of relative justice more directly and in the manner of social choice theory. Yet the positive argument he develops in support of this method is quite thin. That aside, Sen’s polemical strategy of inflicting death by a thousand cuts is ineffective against the Rawlsian paradigm. For, as I show herein, none of these criticisms have the force we might be led to expect. (shrink)
German philosopher Martin Heidegger stirred educators when in 1951 he claimed teaching is more difficult than learning because teachers must ‘learn to let learn’. However in the main he left the aphorism unexplained as part of a brief four-paragraph, less than two-page set of observations concerning the relationship of teaching to learning; and concluded at the end of those observations that to become a teacher is an ‘exalted matter’. This paper investigates both of Heidegger's claims, interpreting letting learn in the (...) context of Heidegger's larger philosophical project, and suggesting why in light of that project to become a teacher is an exalted concern. The methodology guiding the inquiry is largely hermeneutic, the purpose of the essay to interpret teaching from a Heideggerian perspective: its nature and general method. (shrink)
The physician-researcher conflict of interest has thus far eluded satisfactory solution. Most attempts to deal with it focus on improving informed consent. But those attempts are not successful and may even make things worse. Research subjects are already voluntarily undertaking the risks of research — we should not ask them to go it alone — to undergo medical “treatment” without medical “care.” The only effective solution is that in much clinical research, each research subject should have a doctor independent from (...) the research study. (shrink)
Cultural difference has been largely ignored within bioethics, particularly within the end-of-life discourses and practices that have developed over the past two decades in the U.S. healthcare system. Yet how should culturebe taken into account?
Although Lynn White, jr. is best known for the critical aspects of his disputed 1967 essay, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” this article combines archival research and findings from his lesser-known publications in an attempt to reconcile his thought on democracy with the Earth Charter and its assertion that “we are one human family and one Earth Community with a common destiny” . Humanity is first and foremost, White believed, part of a “spiritual democracy of all God's creatures” (...) in which humans and nonhumans should treat each other with mutual compassion and courtesy. It is argued that the Christian, animal-inclusive “biodemocracy” envisioned by White is both compatible with, and potentially in conflict with, the tenets of the Earth Charter. This article also considers further implications of these findings for the larger fields of ecotheology and religion and ecology. (shrink)
This essay introduces the themes that motivate the three articles that follow. Their common aim is to explore the connections between the Earth Charter and the concept of biodemocracy with the intention of highlighting ways of thinking about the relationship between science, religion, and the environment in the twenty-first century. Informed by the science of ecology and written by scholars of religion, the articles included here seek to integrate movements and ideas as diverse as postmodern thought, the much-debated thought of (...) Lynn White, jr. , and the synergy emerging between the Earth Charter and Journey of the Universe. (shrink)
A dispositional theory of skill, such as that defended by Stanley and Williamson, might seem promising. Such a theory looks to provide a unified intellectualist account of skill reflecting insights from cognitive science and philosophy. I argue that any theory of the kind fails given that skill is broadly answerable to the will. A person may be characteristically disposed both against the exercise of her skill and against any associated intentional forming of knowledge. Clearly she does not cease thereby to (...) be skilled. I consider four replies, none of which vindicate this kind of theory. (shrink)
Is implementing the beneficent nudge program morally permissible in worlds like ours? I argue that there is reason for serious doubt. I acknowledge that beneficent nudging is highly various, that nudges are in some circumstances morally permissible and even called for, and that nudges may exhibit respect for genuine autonomy. Nonetheless, given the risk of epistemic injustice that nudges typically pose, neither the moral permissibility of beneficent nudging in the abstract, nor its case-by-case vindication, appears sufficient to justify implementing a (...) nudge program in worlds like ours. Drawing on Miranda Fricker’s account of epistemic injustice, I argue that the cogent defense of any nudge program, relative to worlds like ours, stands in need of serious attention to its potential for fostering or sustaining epistemic injustice. A more specific point hinges on recognizing a form of epistemic injustice not enough attended to in the literature to date, which I call reflective incapacitational injustice. This includes relative disadvantages in the attaining of the capacity to engage in critical reason, such as the capacity to go in for potentially critical reasoned deliberation and discursive exchange concerning ends. Since Cass Sunstein’s First Law of behaviorally informed regulation would be taken, in worlds like ours, to justify indeterminately many nudges leading to such epistemic injustice we have general grounds for doubting the moral permissibility of this nudge program. We should hence oppose the implementation of any such program until it is shown not to violate the demands of epistemic justice. (shrink)
Mill's free speech doctrine is distinct from, yet compatible with, his central principle of ‘purely self-regarding’ liberty. Using the crucial analogy with trade, I claim that he defends a broad laissez-faire policy for expression, even though expression is ‘social’ or other-regarding conduct and thus legitimately subject to social regulation. An expedient laissez-faire policy admits of exceptions because speakers can sometimes cause such severe damage to others that coercive interference with the speech is justified. In those relatively few contexts where interference (...) is called for, however, the central principle of self-regarding liberty sets absolute limits to the scope of society's regulatory authority. Regulation can never amount to an outright ban of any type of expression that can be consumed by the individual without direct and immediate harm to others. Nevertheless, and perhaps surprisingly, the central liberty principle admits censorship of certain extraordinary types of expression which necessarily harm others. (shrink)
We investigate the role of personal values in an investment decision in a controlled experimental setting. Participants were asked to choose an investment in a bond issued by a tobacco company or a bond issued by a non-tobacco company that offered an equal or sometimes lower yield. We then surveyed the participants regarding their feelings toward tobacco use to determine whether these values influenced their investment decision. Using factor analysis, we identified investment- and tobacco-related dimensions on which participants’ responses tended (...) to load. Two of these factors, relating to the societal impact of investment decisions and the health effects of tobacco, were highly significant in determining whether participants selected a tobacco or non-tobacco related investment. More importantly, we found that when the rate of return on a tobacco-related investment exceeds the rate of return on an investment not involving tobacco by 1%, the intensity of participant concerns about the societal effects of their investment decisions was especially important in determining investment choices. This finding indicates that traditional wealth-maximization approaches, which do not consider the personal values of the investor, omit an important factor that affects investment decisions. (shrink)
In the middle section of Theory and Practice, Kant speaks briefly `against Hobbes '; but for a fuller version of Kant's anti-Hobbesianism one must turn to the three Critiques, the Groundwork, and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. It is in those works that one learns that, for Kant, Hobbes 's notion of `will' as fully determined `last appetite' destroys the freedom needed to take `ought' or moral necessity as the motives for self-determined action; that Hobbes ' s version (...) of the social contract is thus incoherent; that Hobbes is not even able to show how moral ideas are conceivable through the `pressure' of `outward objects'. For Kant, in short, Hobbes has no adequate notions of will, freedom, moral necessity, ideation, or even obligatory contract, and therefore fails in his own stated aims. Key Words: Hobbes • Kant • politics • reason • teleology • will. (shrink)
In an article published in Prolegomena 2006, Christoph Schmidt-Petri has defended his interpretation and attacked mine of Mill’s idea that higher kinds of pleasure are superior in quality to lower kinds, regardless of quantity. Millian qualitative superiorities as I understand them are infinite superiorities. In this paper, I clarify my interpretation and show how Schmidt-Petri has misrepresented it and ignored the obvious textual support for it. As a result, he fails to understand how genuine Millian qualitative superiorities determine the novel (...) structure of Mill’s pluralistic utilitarianism, in which a social code of justice that distributes equal rights and duties takes absolute priority over competing considerations. Schmidt-Petri’s own interpretation is a non-starter, because it does noteven recognize that Mill is talking about different kinds of pleasant feelings, such that the higher kinds are intrinsically more valuable than the lower. I conclude by outlining why my interpretation is free of any metaphysical commitment to the “essence” of pleasure. (shrink)