ABSTRACT:In his 2018 presidential address to the Society of Business Ethics, Jeffery Smith claimed that political approaches to business ethics must be attentive to both the distinctive nature of commercial activity and, at the same time, the degree to which such commercial activity is structured by political decisions and choices. In what we take to be a friendly extension of the argument, we claim that Smith does not go far enough with this insight. Smith’s political approach to business ethics focuses (...) solely on the outcomes of political choices. But if we think of politics in terms of processes—as in, ongoing disagreement and contest—and not merely a series of legal, administrative, or institutional outcomes, a different view of business ethics emerges. In particular, we argue that such an emphasis points us toward seeing business actors as having a normative duty to preserve the integrity and functioning of democracy. (shrink)
Alan Turing devised his famous test through a slight modificationof the parlor game in which a judge tries to ascertain the gender of twopeople who are only linguistically accessible. Stevan Harnad hasintroduced the Total TT, in which the judge can look at thecontestants in an attempt to determine which is a robot and which aperson. But what if we confront the judge with an animal, and arobot striving to pass for one, and then challenge him to peg which iswhich? Now (...) we can index TTT to a particular animal and its syntheticcorrelate. We might therefore have TTTrat, TTTcat,TTTdog, and so on. These tests, as we explain herein, are abetter barometer of artificial intelligence than Turing's originalTT, because AI seems to have ammunition sufficient only to reach thelevel of artificial animal, not artificial person. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to show that Erasmus’s concept of peace should be understood as a form of irenicism rather than pacifism. I argue that Erasmus’s basic claims on war and peace do not qualify him as a pacifist, first of all because his concept of peace is non-universal: it is exclusively Christian since it does not include Muslims and Jews unless they have converted to Christianity. Secondly, Erasmus’s willingness to fight the Turks and his call for a (...) Christian war against them suggests that he was not a pacifist. Since the peace Erasmus preached for was exclusively Christian, it cannot be identified as pacifism in its accepted universal sense, but rather as a commitment to the peace of Christendom, and therefore his concept of peace should more precisely be described as irenic. By shedding new light on Erasmus’s notion of war and peace, this essay suggests that his alleged religious tolerance should be considered anew. (shrink)
Philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries who worked within the tradition of modern natural law became interested in political economy in part as they attempted to reconcile two conflicting images of economic activity. On the one hand, from the legal point of view economic activity was understood as a morally neutral and benign activity that could be regulated by simple and clear rules of justice. On the other hand, it was seen as a realm of political struggle, manipulation, deceit (...) and the exercise of hidden forms of domination. This article examines the legal and moral contexts of Adam Smith's excursion into political economy by interpreting the roles played by these two images of the market in the theory of value articulated in book I of The Wealth of Nations. (shrink)
An interpretation of John Rawls justice as fairness as a deliberative critical argumentative strategy for evaluating existing institutions is offered and its plausibility is discussed. I argue that justice as fairness aims at synthesizing the moral values claimed by existing social institutions into a coherent model of a well-ordered society in order to demand that these institutions stand up to the values that they promise. Understood in such a way, justice as fairness provides a set of idealizing mirrors through which (...) power dynamics in society can be viewed but does not function as a model for an ideal society. Key Words: distributive justice immanent criticism justice as fairness political liberalism public reason John Rawls reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
The idea of a 'property-owning democracy' became central to John Rawls's re-evaluation of his theory of justice. This article traces the origins of Rawls's concept of `property-owning democracy' first to the writings of the economist James Meade and then to those of early twentieth-century British conservatives, focusing on the question of how the meaning of democracy was defined and re-defined throughout this history. I argue that Rawls inherited a discursive matrix from the British conservatives in which the notion of 'property-owning (...) democracy' refers to the limits that should be set on democratic practices to make democracy compatible with the needs and interests of property-owners. In addition to tracing the genealogy of the idea of a 'property-owning democracy', the article points toward more recent attempts, partially inspired by Rawls's 'political turn', to re-examine the distribution of property-ownership from the perspective of what is required for viable democratic deliberations. The article ends with an addendum lamenting the fact that when George W. Bush's administration adopted the British ideas and policies associated with 'property-owning democracy' it chose to omit 'democracy' altogether and to describe its initiative as 'ownership society'. (shrink)
ABSTRACTNo comprehensive research of Erasmus’ ethnological mind has been published, so far. Erasmus’ attitudes toward Turks and Jews were discussed analytically but not synthetically or comparatively. An attempt to widen the ethnological scope and to define and classify Erasmus’ attitudes toward different non-Christian groups is presented here. Christian Europeans were at the top of Erasmus’ echelon. Second to them were ‘half-Christians’, i.e. Turks, or Muslims in general. Below them were Jews, and lower in the hierarchy were black Africans. Yet, no (...) one was unworthy of conversion to Christianity, even barbarians of the third kind – according to Bartolomé Las Casas’ sort – the most inferior barbarians, slaves by nature, as defined by Aristotle. According to Las Casas, these barbarians were too low to ask for God and were not candidates for conversion to Christianity. Erasmus’ believed that Barbarians of any kind deserved Christianity without being brutally forced to accept it. Yet, in practice, converts from Judaism to Christianity were rated, even by Erasmus, as lower than Christians. This, in addition to the principle that Christian peace excludes war against the Turks, is the very essence of Erasmus’ pax et concordia. (shrink)
Much of the interest of critical realists in the hermeneutic character of social inquiry has been shaped by debates with critics. Critical realists insist that the meaningful character of societies does not exclude the possibility of treating them as objects that have causal powers and that these objects are more than the sum-total of their meanings. In what follows, I want to go beyond this debate. Working within critical realist ontology, the question I want to ask is what kind of (...) hermeneutics is required for the study of the causal powers of meaningful objects. If hypotheses about the causal powers of such objects can be confirmed only in dialogues, then what kind of dialogues and with whom are necessary for the understanding of causal powers? The question of the interpretation of causal objects is not merely a methodological one. Social structures are ontologically different from natural ones, and the nature of our understanding of meaningful objects is in part dependent on the way we come to apprehend them in thought. I argue that the approach to the understanding of the causal power of meaningful objects that has emerged in the debate between critical realists and their critics tends to view the study of causal powers as a dialogue between experts in the service of a more democratic society. Against this view, I suggest an understanding of the study of causal powers as a dialogue between critical social science and the public, a dialogue that takes place in the public sphere. (shrink)
In April 1933, Albert Einstein was offered an ‘Extraordinary’ Chair of Physics at the University of Madrid. Einstein first accepted, then sought to withdraw without causing damage to the anti-Fascist Republican government. However, this proved an opportunity for the Spanish press to harness Einstein’s notoriety to their own programmes. This article discusses the genesis and resolution of this episode, which says much about Einstein and science and politics in modern Spain.
This dissertation offers a historically sensitive, analytical account of the usage of economic reasoning in the emergence of the contemporary concept of justice. Using the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, and John Rawls as textual foci, the dissertation examines the way the practice of economic exchange has been understood as the site of asymmetric power relations and the way social inquiry into the economic sphere has been used to expose and criticize forms of domination. The model of (...) political economy that I uncover is quintessentially moral, rooted in social practices, and geared towards the unmasking of hidden forms of power relations. (shrink)
Williams, Ron As I consider the list of previous AHOY recipients since the inaugural award in 1983, I can only say that this is an immeasurable honour. It means much to me because, for almost ten years now, Humanism has been there for my family. In 2005-2006, when separation of church and state school issues first crept into our lives, the Humanist Society of Queensland was to appear as the only beacon of secularist activism upon the deep northern horizon. So (...) in 2006 Andrea and I joined the HSQ. (shrink)
Ron Harris captured the popular imagination in October 1999 with a website where he auctioned off the ova of fashion models to the highest bidder. This article treats the controversy surrounding Harris’ site within a dual frame of critical theory’s approach to reproduction and a folkloristic approach to discourse. The website fuses traditional narrative motifs and structures with the logic of advertising, seventies television, family-values rhetoric, and the fertility industry. I argue that the great attraction of ronsangels.com is that it (...) put into relief the intervention of mechanical reproduction in human fertility together with the state of genetics at the turn of the 21st century. The result is not only a disconcerting aestheticization and commodification of biological reproduction, but also the biological reproduction of a particular aesthetic and moral code—a generation of reality by model. (shrink)
Responsible Living: Explorations in Applied Buddhist Ethics — Animals, Environment, GMOs, Digital Media, by Ron Epstein. Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2018. 179pp. Pb. $12, ISBN-13: 9781601030993. Ebook $5, ISBN-13: 9781601031006.
Tanabe Hajime (1885-1962) in his later years explored the so-called "dialectical" interpretation of complex analysis, an important part of his philosophy of mathematics that has previously been criticized as lacking mathematical accuracy and philosophical importance. I interpret his elaboration on complex analysis as an attempt to develop Leibniz's theory of individual notion and to supplement Hegel's view of higher analysis with the development in mathematics such as the theory of analytic continuation and Riemann surface. This interpretation shows the previously underrated (...) philosophico-mathematical significance of Tanabe's argument. (shrink)