The Federalist, justifying the Electoral College to elect the president, claimed that a small group of more informed individuals would make a better decision than the general mass. But the Condorcet Jury Theorem tells us that the more independent, better-than-random voters there are, the more likely it will be that the majority among them will be correct. The question thus arises as to how much better, on average, members of the smaller group would have to be to compensate for the (...) epistemic costs of making decisions on the basis of that many fewer votes. This question is explored in the contexts of referendum democracy, delegate-style representative democracy, and trustee-style representative democracy. (shrink)
Do the rich descriptions and narrative shapings of literature provide a valuable resource for readers, writers, philosophers, and everyday people to imagine and confront the ultimate questions of life? Do the human activities of storytelling and complex moral decision-making have a deep connection? What are the moral responsibilities of the artist, critic, and reader? What can religious perspectives—from Catholic to Protestant to Mormon—contribute to literary criticism? Thirty well known contributors reflect on these questions, including iterary theorists Marshall Gregory, James Phelan, (...) and Wayne Booth; philosophers Martha Nussbaum, Richard Hart, and Nina Rosenstand; and authors John Updike, Charles Johnson, Flannery O'Connor, and Bernard Malamud. Divided into four sections, with introductory matter and questions for discussion, this accessible anthology represents the most crucial work today exploring the interdisciplinary connections between literature, religion and philosophy. (shrink)
Reviews : Robyn Eckersley, Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach ; Robert E. Goodin, Green Political Theory ; Peter Hay and Robyn Eckersley , Ecopolitical Theory: Essaysfrom Australia, ; Peter Hay, Robyn Eckersley and Geoff Holloway Environmental Politics in Australia and New Zealand ; Drew Hutton , Green Politics in Australia ; Michael Muetzelfeldt , Society, State and Politics in Australia.
Maximizing want-satisfaction per se is a relatively unattractive aspiration, for it seems to assume that wants are somehow disembodied entities with independent moral claims all of their own. Actually, of course, they are possessed by particular people. What preference-utilitarians should be concerned with is how people's lives go—the fulfilment of their projects and the satisfaction of their desires. In an old-fashioned way of talking, it is happy people rather than happiness per se that utilitarians should be striving to produce.
Elsewhere I have defended utilitarianism as a philosophy peculiarly well suited to the conduct of public affairs, on grounds of the peculiar tasks and instruments confronting public officials. Here I add another plank to that defence of ‘utilitarianism as a public philosophy’, focusing on the peculiar role responsibilities of people serving in public capacities. Such ‘public service utilitarianism’ is incumbent not only upon public officials but also upon individuals in their capacities as citizens and voters. I close with reflections on (...) how best to evoke appreciation of these utilitarian role responsibilities from officials and electors alike. (shrink)
The precise application of the term ‘heroic measures’ in the discourse of medicine and medical ethics is somewhat uncertain. What counts and what does not is, at the margins, a perpetually contentious issue. Basically, though, we can say that the term refers to the deployment of unusual technologies or treatment regimes, or of ordinary technologies or treatment regimes beyond their usual limits.