In Reasons and the Good Roger Crisp answers some of the oldest questions in moral philosophy. Fundamental to ethics, he claims, is the idea of ultimate reasons for action; and he argues controversially that these reasons do not depend on moral concepts. He investigates the nature of reasons themselves, and how we come to know them. He defends a hedonistic theory of well-being and an account of practical reason according to which we can give some, though not overriding, priority to (...) our own good over that of others. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a good deal of discussion of equality’s place in the best account of distribution or distributive justice. One central question has been whether egalitarianism should give way to a principle requiring us to give priority to the worse off. In this article, I shall begin by arguing that the grounding of equality is indeed insecure and that the priority principle appears to have certain advantages over egalitarianism. But I shall then claim that the priority (...) principle itself is ungrounded and that the priority principle should itself give way to a sufficiency principle based — indirectly, via the notion of an impartial spectator — on compassion for those who are badly off. (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of the emotion of compassion or pity, and the corresponding virtue. It begins by placing the emotion of compassion in the moral conceptual landscape, and then moves to reject the currently dominant view, a version of Aristotelianism developed by Martha Nussbaum, in favour of a non-cognitive conception of compassion as a feeling. An alternative neo-Aristotelian account is then outlined. The relation of the virtue of compassion to other virtues is plotted, and some doubts sown about (...) its practical significance. (shrink)
This volume brings together much of the most influential work undertaken in the field of virtue ethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, the collection includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtue ethics; some later criticisms of the (...) revival of virtue ethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtue ethics. (shrink)
This paper concerns the problem of moral luck—the fact that our moral judgements appear to depend, perhaps unjustifiably, on matters of luck. The history and scope of the problem are discussed. It is suggested that our result-sensitive sentiments have their origin in views about moral pollution we might now wish to reject in favour of a volitionalist ethics.
The aim of this essay is to test the claim that epistemologists—virtue epistemologists in particular—have much to learn from virtue ethics. The essay begins with an outline of virtue ethics itself. This section concludes that a pure form of virtue ethics is likely to be unattractive, so the virtue epistemologist should examine the "impure" views of real philosophers. Aristotle is usually held up as the paradigm virtue ethicist. His doctrine of the mean is described, and it is explained how that (...) doctrine can provide a framework for an account of epistemic virtue. The conclusion of the essay is that a virtue epistemology based on analogies with virtue ethics, though well worth developing and considering, will face several challenges in fulfilling the significant promises that have been made on its behalf. (shrink)
This paper is a plea for hedonism to be taken more seriously. It begins by charting hedonism's decline, and suggests that this is a result of two major objections: the claim that hedonism is the 'philosophy of swine', reducing all value to a single common denominator, and Nozick's 'experience machine' objection. There follows some elucidation of the nature of hedonism, and of enjoyment in particular. Two types of theory of enjoyment are outlined-intemalism, according to which enjoyment has some special 'feeling (...) tone'. and externalism, according to which enjoyment is any kind of experience to which we take some special attitude, such as that of desire. lnternalism-the traditional view--is defended against current externalist orthodoxy. The paper ends with responses to the philosophy of swine and the experience machine objections. (shrink)
It is argued that persuasive advertising overrides the autonomy of consumers, in that it manipulates them without their knowledge and for no good reason. Such advertising causes desires in such a way that a necessary condition of autonomy — the possibility of decision — is removed. Four notions central to autonomous action are discussed — autonomous desire, rational desire and choice, free choice, and control or manipulation — following the strategy of Robert Arrington in a recent paper in this journal. (...) Replies are made to Arrington's arguments in favour of advertising. It is also claimed that the argument developed by Philip Nelson, which concludes that even if persuasive advertising does override autonomy, it is still in the interests of consumers to be subjected to it, is seriously mistaken. Finally, some caveats concerning informative advertising are presented. (shrink)
This paper concerns the relation between goodness, or value, and practical reasons, and in particular the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account (BPA) of that relation recently offered by T. M. Scanlon, according to which goodness is not reason-providing but merely the higher-order property of possessing lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond in certain ways. The paper begins by briefly describing BPA and the motivation for it, noting that Scanlon now accepts that the lower-order properties in question may be evaluative. He also (...) insists that the BPA is not biconditional (wisely, since otherwise goodness becomes a ‘Cambridge property’), which leaves him with the task of explaining why goodness arises only in a sub-set of cases in which lower-order properties ground reasons. Having rejected two attempts to do this, based on elucidation of the responses and of the reasons, I suggest that Scanlon may claim that goodness arises in, and only in, cases where the lower-order properties are evaluative and that goodness itself provides us with a way of distinguishing the evaluative from the non-evaluative. In other words, he should retain the negative component of BPA, according to which being good is not itself reason-providing, while surrendering the positive, according to which the property of goodness is merely the higher-order property of having lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In recent decades, the idea has become common that so-called virtue ethics constitutes a third option in ethics in addition to consequentialism and deontology. This paper argues that, if we understand ethical theories as accounts of right and wrong action, this is not so. Virtue ethics turns out to be a form of deontology . The paper then moves to consider the Aristotelian distinction between right or virtuous action on the one hand, and acting rightly or virtuously on the other. (...) It is claimed that virtue might play an important role in an explanation of acting virtuously , but that such explanations can be charged with ‘double-counting’ the moral value of the virtues. The paper concludes that, if we focus on the question of the value of virtue, rather than on the notion of right action, there is room for a self-standing and important view which could be described as virtue ethics. (shrink)
A distinguished group of philosophers and management teachers here reflect on the status and prospect of business ethics, drawing on perspectives from philosophy, anthropology, management, history, social science methodology, and education.
This paper is a discussion of Jonathan Dancy's book Ethics Without Principles (2004). Holism about reasons is distinguished into a weak version, which allows for invariant reasons, and a strong, which doesn't. Four problems with Dancy's arguments for strong holism are identified. (1) A plausible particularism based on it will be close to generalism. (2) Dancy rests his case on common-sense morality, without justifying it. (3) His examples are of non-ultimate reasons. (4) There are certain universal principles it is hard (...) not to see as invariant, such as that the fact that some action causes of suffering to a non-rational being always counts against it. The main difficulty with weak holism is that justification can be seen as analogous to explanation, which will give us an atomistic and generalist conception of a normative reason. Key Words: Dancy generalism holism particularism reasons. (shrink)
In "Egalitarianism Defended," Larry Temkin attempted to rebut criticisms of egalitarianism I had made in my article, "Equality, Priority, and Compassion." Temkin's response is interesting and illuminating, but, in this article, I shall claim that his arguments miss their target and that the failure of egalitarianism may have implications more serious than some have thought.
This paper defends moral testimony pessimism, the view that there is something morally or epistemically regrettable about relying on the moral testimony of others, against several arguments in Lillehammer . One central such argument is that reliance on testimony is inconsistent with the exercise of true practical wisdom. Lillehammer doubts whether such reliance is always objectionable, but it is important to note that moral testimony pessimism is best understood as a view about the pro tanto, rather than the overall, badness (...) of relying on testimony. One must also be clear about what counts as genuine moral testimony: there will be morally charged occasions when a virtuous person will properly rely on the views of others. It can also plausibly be argued that relying on moral testimony may constitute a lack of full autonomy. After discussing some remaining issues concerning the definition of moral testimony, a possible analogy between lying and relying on testimony, and the implications of untrustworthiness for the truth of moral testimony pessimism, the paper ends with a return to the case against relying on moral testimony, grounded on a conception of the role of knowledge and understanding in virtue. (shrink)
We take welfarism in moral theory to be the claim that the well-being of individuals matters and is the only consideration that fundamentally matters, from a moral point of view. We argue that criticisms of welfarism due to G.E. Moore, Donald Regan, Charles Taylor and Amartya Sen all fail. The final section of our paper is a critical survey of the problems which remain for welfarists in moral theory.
The last few years have seen a remarkable revival of interest in the virtues, which have regained their central role in moral philosophy. This thought-provoking new collection is a much-needed survey of virtue ethics and virtue theory. The specially commissioned articles by an international team of philosophers represent the state of the art in this subject and will set the agenda for future work in the area. The contributors--including Lawrence Blum, John Cottingham, Julia Driver, Rosalind Hursthouse, Terence Irwin, Susan Moller (...) Okin, Onora O'Neill, Michael Slote, Michael Stocker, and David Wiggins--cover practical virtue ethics, ancient views of the virtues, impartiality and partiality, Kant, utilitarianism, human nature, natural and artificial virtues, virtue and the good life, the vices, emotions, politics, feminism, moral education, and community. (shrink)
The word 'hypocrisy' has its root in the classical Greek verb 'hupokrinesthai', 'to answer'. In Attic Greek, the verb could mean 'to speak in dialogue' and hence 'to play a part on the stage'. From here it was a short route to the 'hypokrisia' with which the Pharisees are charge in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Accusations of hypocrisy are surprisingly common in our culture, both at the personal and the political level. Judith Shklar goes so far as to characterise (...) our age as that in which 'hypocrisy...alone is...inexcusable'. But, perhaps equally surprisingly, the nature of hypocrisy is hard to grasp. In this paper, we shall suggest that recent discussion of hypocrisy has foundered through a failure to recognise distinct forms of hypocrisy. We shall outline these different forms, and then consider various views on what they have in common. (shrink)
Someone once told me that the average number of readers of a philosophy article is about six. That is a particularly depressing thought when one takes into account the huge influence of certain articles. When I think of, say, Gettier's article on knowledge, or Quine's ‘Two Dogmas’, I begin to wonder whether anyone is ever likely to read anything I write. Usually the arguments of these very influential articles have been subjected to widespread analysis and interpretation. The case of Elizabeth (...) Anscombe's ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, published in 1958, is something of an exception. That article has played a significant part in the development of so-called ‘virtue ethics’, which has burgeoned over the last three decades in particular. But there has been less close attention to its arguments than one might have expected. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to take an overview of the current position of utilitarian theory. It begins by providing a definition of utilitarianism as it is found in the works of Bentham, Mill and Sidgwick. These authors are all interpreted as intuitionists. It is claimed that the main rivals to utilitarianism are egoism on the one hand, and reflective non-egoistic pluralism, as found in the work of Ross, on the other. The significance of disagreement between proponents of these views (...) is explained, and modern attempts to ground utilitarianism are found lacking. The article ends with a plea for history. (shrink)
This paper suggests that we understand Aristotle’s notion of nobility as what is morally praiseworthy, arguing that nobility is not to be understood impartially, that Aristotle is an egoist at the level of justification , and that he uses the idea of the noble as a bridge between self-interest and moral virtue. Implications for contemporary ethics are discussed.
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century. Its advocacy of utilitarianism--the view that individual and political action should be directed at the "greatest happiness"--not only influenced political life, but attracted a great deal of criticism. This is the first book dedicated to the interpretation and critical discussion of this significant work.
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, based on lectures that he gave in Athens in the fourth century BCE, is one of the most significant works in moral philosophy, and has profoundly influenced the whole course of subsequent philosophical endeavour. It is soundly located within a philosophical tradition, but its argument differs markedly from those of Plato and Socrates in its emphasis on the exercise - as opposed to the mere possession - of virtue as the key to human happiness, offering seminal discussions (...) of ethical issues that are practical in their intent. Topics covered include the role of luck in human wellbeing, moral education, responsibility, courage, justice, moral weakness, friendship and pleasure. This accessible new translation by Roger Crisp follows the Greek text closely and also provides a non-Greek-reader with the flavour of the original. The volume also includes a historical and philosophical introduction and notes on further reading. (shrink)
The notion of self-interest has not received from philosophers of this century the attention it deserves. In this paper, I shall first elucidate the views on self-interest of a philosopher who nourished in the last century. It could be argued that Henry Sidgwick's views on this topic are the most considered in the history of philosophy. I shall then point to a number of misconceptions in his position, and suggest a more satisfactory account. I shall attempt also to solve a (...) problem for this new account with the aid of a Sidgwickian distinction. (shrink)
Available from UMI in association with The British Library. Requires signed TDF. ;The thesis consists in the development and application of an ideal utilitarian moral theory. ;In chapter one, classical Mental State and modern Desire theories of prudential value are rejected. In chapter two, perfectionism is rejected and an alternative ideal utilitarian Objective List theory is set out. In chapter three, it is argued that prudential rationality requires maximization and temporal neutrality. The aggregation and incommensurability of values is discussed. In (...) chapter four, it is argued that value alone gives rise to grounding reasons for action; the only values are prudential values; we are required to be personally as well as temporally neutral; moral rationality is maximizing. A problem arising when a certain form of incommensurability is combined with the notion of maximizing expected utility is examined. In chapter five, an intrapersonally indirect form of moral theory is defended. ;In the second, practical part of the thesis, the theory developed in the first part is applied to two moral problems: vegetarianism and future generations. In chapter six, the conclusion is that utilitarianism requires us to eat non-intensively-reared meat and to abstain from intensively reared meat. In chapter seven, population problems arising from Derek Parfit's work are considered in the light of the theory. (shrink)
The shape of contemporary ethics owes a great deal to Henry Sidgwick, through his influence on Rawls, Parfit, and others. No one who reads David Phillips’s outstanding book can be left in the slightest doubt about Sidgwick’s continuing significance for both metaethics and normative ethics. Phillips’s scholarship and his substantive arguments are powerful and insightful, and I find them largely persuasive. So in these remarks I intend merely to raise a few questions about each of his four main..
Mcgrath argued that a theist cannot avoid the problem of evil by limiting either the power or the goodness of god. In the paper, It is shown that by taking account both of the possibility that there is an infinitely evil power in the universe and of the "acts and omissions doctrine", We can see that both options remain open.
John Broome's ground-breaking Weighing Lives makes precise, and supplies arguments previously lacking for, several views which for centuries have been central to the utilitarian tradition. In gratitude for his enlightening arguments, I shall repay him in this paper by showing how he could make things easier for himself by denying neutrality and accepting hedonism.
This article is a response to some of Philip Stratton-Lake’s criticisms of an earlier paper of mine in this journal, on the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account of goodness. Some elucidation is offered of the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem and of T. M. Scanlon’s view, and the question is raised of the role of goodness in the view outlined by Stratton-Lake.
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important, controversial, and suggestive works of moral philosophy ever written. Published in the Oxford Philosophical Texts series, this new edition of Mill's key text has been designed to suit both the beginning and more advanced student. The text is supplemented by an extensive editorial introduction, an analysis of the text, substantial endnotes, suggestions for further reading, and a full bibliography.