In this chapter we focus on the debate over publicly-maintained racist monuments as it manifests in the mid-2010s Anglosphere, primarily in the US (chiefly regarding the over 700 monuments devoted to the Confederacy), but to some degree also in Britain and Commonwealth countries, especially South Africa (chiefly regarding monuments devoted to figures and events associated with colonialism and apartheid). After pointing to some representative examples of racist monuments, we discuss ways a monument can be thought racist, and neutrally categorize removalist (...) and preservationist arguments heard in the monument debate. We suggest that both extremist and moderate removalist goals are likely to be self-defeating, and that when concerns of civic sustainability are put on moral par with those of fairness and justice, something like a Mandela-era preservationist policy is best: one which removes the most offensive of the minor racist monuments, but which focuses on closing the monumentary gap between peoples and reframing existing racist monuments. (shrink)
What are libertarian open borders advocates even advocating for? Is it, as the title to Michael Huemer’s influential essay suggests, a prima facie “right to immigrate”? Or is it, as the branding connotes, literal open borders, or a strong prima facie moral right to free movement across borders that entails a right to immigrate? In this paper, I peel apart the view that people have a strong moral right to freely cross international borders, or "open access," from the view that (...) non-citizens have a right to immigrate, which I will call "open residence." As radical as open residence is, open access is even more extreme; so whether open borders ideology commits one to open access matters to its plausibility. At times it can seem that libertarian open borders advocates, by emphasizing our prima facie right to free movement, call for open access. Nonetheless, I suggest that libertarian open borders advocates should content themselves with mere open residence, even though open residence is compatible with tight border controls and even border walls—policies which they might (rightly or wrongly) object to for independent reasons. (shrink)
Call the ethos understanding rightness in terms of spiritual purity and piety, and wrongness in terms of corruption and sacrilege, the “fetish ethic.” Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues suggest that this ethos is particularly salient to political conservatives and non-liberal cultures around the globe. In this essay, I point to numerous examples of moral fetishism in mainstream academic ethics. Once we see how deeply “infected” our ethical reasoning is by fetishistic intuitions, we can respond by 1) repudiating the fetishistic impulse, (...) by 2) “sublimating” our fetishism into liberal rationales, or by 3) accepting the fetishism on its own terms. Of these options, I argue that sublimating our fetishism is not advisable, and that embracing our ethical fetishism isn’t as obviously misguided as some suggest. (shrink)
Given its psychological and sociological importance, especially in non-liberal societies, honor may be the most undertheorized normative phenomenon. Philosophical neglect of honor is due partly to the doubtful moral bona fides of honor: honor-typical motives have been usually viewed by philosophers in both the Christian and liberal West as either non-moral or immoral but replaced by morally sounder ones. More practically, honor (and what is usually translated into the English “honor”) connotes a number of apparently contradictory meanings, further bedeviling analyses. (...) Four particularly salient conceptions of honor emerge in the anthropological, literary, and philosophical literature on honor: honor as prestige, honor as the ethos characteristic of “cultures of honor,” honor as honestas, and honor as agonism. (shrink)
This piece is written as a public service to ethics professors and students interested in learning more about honor ethics. To facilitate its use in classrooms, it’s written in the style of many contemporary textbooks: it focuses on ideas, principles, and intuitions and ignores scholarly figures and intellectual history. Readers should note this is an “opinionated” introduction, as it focuses on the agonistic conception of honor. It also takes for granted that the agonistic ethos described counts as a “moral” theory. (...) Arguments for these assumptions are in print elsewhere. Any comments or recommendations for improvement are much appreciated. (shrink)
This is my reply essay (1000 words) to Travis Timmerman's "A Case for Removing Confederate Monuments" in Bob Fisher's _Ethics, Left and Right: The Moral Issues That Divide Us_ volume. In it, I explain why I think the mere harm from the racial offense a monument may cause does not justify removing it.
Derk Pereboom's Four-Case Argument is among the most famous and resilient manipulation arguments against compatibilism. I contend that its resilience is not a function of the argument's soundness but, rather, the ill-gotten gain from an ambiguity in the description of the causal relations found in the argument's foundational case. I expose this crucial ambiguity and suggest that a dilemma faces anyone hoping to resolve it. After a thorough search for an interpretation which avoids both horns of this dilemma, I conclude (...) that none is available. Rather, every metaphysically coherent interpretation invites either a hard- or soft-line reply to Pereboom's argument. I then consider a recharacterization of the dilemma which seems to clear the way for the defence of a revised Four-Case Argument. I address this rejoinder by identifying a still more fundamental problem shared by all viable interpretations of the manipulation cases, showing that each involves a type of manipulation which undermines the victim's agency. Because this diagnosis supports a soft-line reply to every viable interpretation of the argument and can be endorsed by any compatibilist, I consider it the final piece of the Soft-line Solution to the Four-Case Argument. Finally, I suggest a new taxonomy of manipulation arguments, arguing that none that employs the suppressive variety of manipulation found in Pereboom's argument offers a threat to compatibilism. -/- (For direct download option, search Kristin M. Mickelson, Soft-line Solution). (shrink)
In this chapter I sketch a rightist approach to monumentary policy in a diverse polity beleaguered by old ethnic grievances. I begin by noting the importance of tribalism, memorialization, and social trust. I then suggest a policy which 1) gradually narrows the gap between peoples in the heritage landscape, 2) conserves all but the most offensive of the least beloved racist monuments, 3) avoids recrimination (i.e., “keeps it positive”) and eschews ideological commentary in new monuments or revisions to old ones, (...) 4) as much as politically feasible, recognizes only the offense of willing tribemates, and 5) responds to aesthetic and other “irrational” offenses more than to “objective” historical or philosophical critiques. (shrink)
Surprisingly, it follows from commonplaces about sex and gender that there is a widely-practiced variety of transgenderism achievable through sex/gender “exaggerating.” Recognizing exaggeration as trans---or at least its moral equivalent---has several important consequences. One is that, since most traditional cultures endorse exaggeration, trans lifestyles have often been mainstream. But more importantly, recognizing that gender exaggeration is trans (or its moral equivalent) reveals a number of sex- and gender-discriminatory practices and intolerant attitudes: from pathologizing hypergender to legally restricting androgenic hormones, many (...) people who consider themselves trans allies are less consistent in their support of transgender lifestyles than they realize. Thus, seeing exaggerators as trans not only follows from a better grasp of transgenderism, but also reveals new arguments in favor of greater gender freedom against gender-policing by both conservatives and progressives. (shrink)
Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen’s (1996) influential account of “cultures of honor” speculates that honor norms are a socially-adaptive deterrence strategy. This theory has been appealed to by multiple empirically-minded philosophers, and plays an important role in John Doris and Alexandra Plakias’ (2008) antirealist argument from disagreement. In this essay, I raise four objections to the Nisbett-Cohen deterrence thesis, and offer another theory of honor in its place that sees honor as an agonistic normative system regulating prestige competitions. Since my (...) account portrays honor norms as radically different from liberal ones, it actually strengthens Doris and Plakias’ case in some respects: cultures of honor are not merely superficially different from Western liberal ones. Nonetheless, the persistent appeal of honor’s principles, and their moral plausibility in certain contexts, suggests not antirealism, but pluralism—a reply on behalf of realism that itself has considerable empirical support. (shrink)
Just War Theory (JWT) replaced an older "warrior code," an approach to war that remains poorly understood and dismissively treated in the philosophical literature. This paper builds on recent work on honor to address these deficiencies. By providing a clear, systematic exposition of "Honor War Theory" (HWT), we can make sense of paradigm instances of warrior psychology and behavior, and understand the warrior code as the martial expression of a broader honor-based ethos that conceives of obligation in terms of fair (...) competition for prestige. Far from being a romantic and outmoded approach to war, HWT accounts for current conflicts and predicts moral intuitions that JWT either rejects or cannot comfortably accommodate. So although it is not recommended as a replacement for JWT, there is good reason think that a fully mature, realistic, and yet properly normative theory of war ethics will incorporate a variety of insights from HWT. (shrink)
This essay distinguishes between honor-typical and authoritarian behavior in humans and animals. Whereas authoritarianism concerns hierarchies coordinated by control and obedience, honor concerns rankings of prestige determined by fair contests. Honor-typical behavior is identifiable in non-human species, and is to be expected in polygynous species with non-resource-based mating systems. This picture lends further support to an increasingly popular psychological theory that sees morality as constituted by a variety of moral systems. If moral cognition is pluralistic in this way, then the (...) question of moral agency is better considered in terms of particular moral modes, one of which will be “honor-agency.” The universal principles of honorable conduct suggest a handful of criteria for counting as an honorable agent (human or otherwise), and these criteria can be specified without commitment to any particular account of what it takes to be an agent in general. (shrink)
According to John Mackie, moral talk is representational but its metaphysical presuppositions are wildly implausible. This is the basis of Mackie's now famous error theory: that moral judgments are cognitively meaningful but systematically false. Of course, Mackie went on to recommend various substantive moral judgments, and, in the light of his error theory, that has seemed odd to a lot of folk. Richard Joyce has argued that Mackie's approach can be vindicated by a fictionalist account of moral discourse. And Mark (...) Kalderon has argued that moral fictionalism is attractive quite independently of Mackie's error-theory. Kalderon argues that the Frege-Geach problem shows that we need moral propositions, but that a fictionalist can and should embrace propositional content together with a non-cognitivist account of acceptance of a moral proposition. Indeed, it is clear that any fictionalist is going to have to postulate more than one kind of acceptance attitude. We argue that this doubleapproach to acceptance generates a new problem -a descendent of Frege-Geach -which we call the acceptance-transfer problem. Although we develop the problem in the context of Kalderon's version of non-cognitivist fictionalism, we show that it is not the noncognitivist aspect of Kalderon's account that generates the problem. A closely related problem surfaces for the more typical variants of fictionalism according to which accepting a moral proposition is believing some closely related non-moral proposition. Fictionalists of both stripes thus have an attitude problem. (shrink)
Whereas civil discourse is usually thought to be about defusing conflict, this essay argues it may be fruitfully thought of as fighting honorably for what we believe. Thus agonistic honor, which conceives of rightness in terms of fair and respectful contest for status, will be an especially important virtue in contexts—from classrooms to courtrooms to pluralistic democracies in general—where conflict is inevitable and desirable. To motivate this claim, I take a Hobbesian approach. I begin with a rational reconstruction of honor (...) patterned after Hobbes’ rational reconstruction of justice, and imagine honor-equivalents of “rational” individuals in a “state of nature.” I then describe a multi-stage process that culminates in honorable contests among a natural aristocracy. The lessons from this exercise apply to the question of civil discourse: while the "standard model" of civil discourse aims at resolving disagreement by downplaying rivalry and ego, the more realistic agonistic model harnesses these factors to make our civil debates more culturally sustainable. (shrink)
Faced with the choice between supporting industrial plant agriculture and hunting, Tom Regan’s rights view can be plausibly developed in a way that permits a form of hunting we call “dignitarian.” To motivate this claim, we begin by showing how the empirical literature on animal deaths in plant agriculture suggests that a non-trivial amount of hunting would not add to animal harm. We discuss how Tom Regan’s miniride principle appears to morally permit hunting in that case, and we address recent (...) objections by Jason Hanna to environmentally-based culling that may be seen to speak against this conclusion. We then turn to dignity, which is especially salient in scenarios where harm is necessary or justifiable. We situate “dignitarian” hunting within a larger framework of adversarial ethics, and argue that dignitarian hunting gives animals a more dignified death than the alternatives endemic to large-scale plant agriculture, and so is permissible based on the kinds of principles that Regan endorses. Indeed, dignitarian hunting may actually fit better with Regan’s widely endorsed animal rights framework than the practice of many vegans, and should only be rejected if we’re just as willing to condemn supporting conventional plant agriculture. (shrink)
Honor has been in disrepute among intellectuals for almost a century now. The standard explanation for honor’s demise is its role in driving young men and their countries to surpass the limits of acceptable human slaughter in the First World War, the trenches of which became ‘a mass grave for honor’ (Welsh 2008: x). Academic interest in honor revived in the 1950s among anthropologists and sociologists, where it was treated with a studied moral distance. Literary scholars, historians, and political scientists (...) took up the subject a generation later, and broached the question of whether honor should be rehabiliated. So it was only a matter of time until philosophers turned their attention to honor (by name) in any sustained way. Fortunately for our field, one of the first to do so was Kwame Anthony Appiah. The Honor Code is an enjoyable, approachable, and yet immensely learned book in which all of Appiah’s many capabilities—as a philosopher, a historian of ideas, a cosmopolitan, and a prose stylist—are on full display in the service of honor and our understanding of it. (shrink)
Abstract: Perhaps the biggest disconnect between philosophers and non-philosophers on gun rights is over the importance of arms to our dignitary interests. This essay argues that we have a strong prima facie moral right to resist with dignity and that (with certain qualifications) violent resistance is more dignified than nonviolent resistance. Since in some cases dignified resistance will require violence, and since effective violent resistance will sometimes require guns, we have a strong prima facie right to own or carry guns (...) if they are necessary often enough for effective dignified resistance. Since this right holds (to some degree) even when nonviolent means would better achieve the security aims of potential victims, the bar for justifying gun rights is lower than commonly assumed. (shrink)
In The Problem of Punishment, David Boonin offers an analysis of punishment and an account of what he sees as ethically problematic about it. In this essay I make three points. First, pace Boonin's analysis, everyday examples of punishment show that it sometimes isn't harmful, but merely "discomforting." Second, intentionally discomforting offenders isn't uniquely problematic, given that we have cases of non-punitive intentional discomforture---and perhaps even harmful discomforture---that seem unobjectionable. Third, a notable fact about both non-harmful punishment and non-punitive intentional (...) discomforture is that they aim at improving the subject. This suggests that, if the prima facie wrongness of intentionally harming another person is the fundamental challenge for punishment, the "educative defense" is the royal road to justifying the practice. I conclude by outlining one version of the educative defense that exploits this advantage while avoiding some traditional objections to the approach. (shrink)
Although most cultures have held honorableness to be a virtue of the first importance, contemporary analytic ethicists have just begun to consider honor’s nature and ethical worth. In this essay, I provide an analysis of the honor ethos and apply it to business ethics. Applying honor to business may appear to be a particularly challenging task, since (for reasons I discuss) honor has traditionally been seen as incompatible with commerce. Nonetheless, I argue here that two of the central virtues of (...) the honor ethos—competiveness and magnificence—are perfectly apt ones for rich business executives, who plausibly can be expected to work more for prestige and the thrill of competition than for wealth itself. In addition to making top executives more honorable people, the virtues of competitiveness and magnificence would have positive social effects: honorable competitiveness would intrinsically dispose executives to shun anti-competitive practices, and magnificence would encourage tycoons to redistribute their fortunes voluntarily through philanthropy. (shrink)
The mechanism-realist paradigm in the philosophy of science, championed by Mario Bunge and Roy Bhaskar, sets certain expectations for the substantive social-scientific application of the paradigm. To evaluate the application of the paradigm in accomplished substantive research, as well as the potential for future research, I examine the work of Charles Tilly, the exemplary substantive work in the mechanism-realist tradition. Based on this examination, I argue for the usefulness of explanatory mechanisms, provided that they are couched in terms of a (...) heuristic. Such a position is the most reasonable one to adopt given the expectations set by the paradigm in relation to complexity stemming from mechanism interaction and to a notion of causality that is deeper than that acknowledged by empiricism and positivism. (shrink)
From Thomas Hobbes to Steven Pinker, it is often remarked that cultures of honor are destabilizing and especially dangerous to liberal institutions. This essay sharpens that criticism into two objections: one saying honor cultures encourage tyranny, and another accusing them of undermining rule of law. Since these concerns manifest differently in established as opposed to fledgling liberal democracies, I appeal to Western and African examples both to motivate and allay these worries. I contend that a culture of civic honor is (...) perfectly capable of offering those with soaring ambitions all the civic distinction they could hope for—including civic immortality—without tempting them to seize undemocratic levels of power. And as for rule of law and public order, an “irrationally” defiant response to the indignity of state-sanctioned oppression has often animated citizens to resist illiberal regimes despite great peril. Thus, cultures of civic honor are not only compatible with, but sometimes necessary to, founding and maintaining liberal institutions. (shrink)
I argue that Greene’s research, although fascinating for many reasons, doesn’t undermine deontological moral philosophy. This is because both sentimentalist and rationalist moral epistemologies, applied to deontological value, predict exactly the data Greene has found. My discussion proceeds in three steps. In the first section I summarize Greene’s brief against deontology. In the second section I draw on standard accounts of moral emotions to suggest that there are ‘deontological emotions’ made rational by appearances of ‘deontological value.’ Finally, I outline a (...) modest but realist intuitionist account of moral intuitions that connects deontological emotion to putative deontological value in a way that predicts Greene’s findings. (shrink)
Emotions play a crucial role in communication and engagement between people. This paper focuses on the extent to which new teachers consider and value the emotional component of teaching for the engagement and motivation of their students and themselves. Moreover, drawing on the literature on gender and emotion, which consistently cites females of all ages as having a greater capacity to empathise, we looked to see if female teachers are better equipped at engaging their students and whether there are differences (...) in the emotional teaching styles of male and female newly qualified teachers. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches were employed. Analysis of questionnaires revealed significant gender difference in approaches to teaching and perceptions of it, and led us to pursue this issue further by interviewing a selection of the teachers. Teachers’ comments reflected differences between men and women in the ways they visualise the role of emotion in teaching. When faced with challenges and adversities in the classroom, such as disruptive and disengaged students, they employ different strategies to combat them, and typically, female teachers would go to greater lengths, often employing emotion tactics to re‐engage students. The research highlights the importance of focusing on emotional engagement in teaching, the consequences for teacher retention and implications for teacher training. (shrink)
The British utilitarians are not generally considered explorers of classical Greek thought. This paper examines the contribution of James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and George Grote to the development of Platonic studies in nineteenth-century Britain. Their understanding of Platonic philosophy challenged prevalent interpretations, and caused a fruitful debate over long neglected aspects of Plato's thought. Grote's Platonic analysis, which comes last in order of time, cannot, of course, be considered in isolation from the relevant debates in Germany. Grote, the erudite (...) historian of ancient Greece, paid considerable attention to the arguments of the German classicists, put forward in many cases a new point of view, and prompted a radical revaluation of Platonic political thought. (shrink)
[Requested essay for George Washington Leadership Institute curriculum, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mt. Vernon.] Honor is often equated with integrity, dignity, courage, and unimpeachable reputation. But what is the underlying essence of honor that explains those associations? This essay provides a framework for thinking about honor, and explores a theory of honor that understands it in terms of agonism---that is, as an ethic regulating our pursuit of prestige according to principles of fair and (...) respectful contest. We begin by distinguishing between honor-as-prestige and honor as an ethical system. We then canvass honor’s commitment to fair competition, noblesse oblige, integrity, independence, and martial valor. After forwarding the agonistic theory of honor, we conclude with some suggestions for leaders interested in fostering honor-mindedness in their organizations. (shrink)
The riddle of the Cleitophon is a creature of nineteenth-century German scholarship which premised that Plato had developed a profound philosophical system. Thus, having no intrinsic purpose to serve in the context of the development of Plato's philosophy, Cleitophon was disallowed as spurious. Documenting the reception of this minor dialogue provides insights into the pluralism and the perplexities of modern Platonic exegesis. The more recent idea of a genre of literary fiction helps to restore cleitophon to its place in the (...) Platonic corpus. S.R. Slings's edition of this dialogue, with introduction, translation and commentary reconsiders both Plato's dialogical engagements and intellectual commitments, utilizes a two-dimensional approach to the text that avoids exaggerated conjectures, and effectively defends the authenticity of Cleitophon. (shrink)
Charles Tilly's work on process analysis offers a methodological approach to comparative-historical sociology that can be considered paradigmatic. Yet the approach has been widely criticized for lack of rigor. This paper maintains that the problem lies in insufficient clarification of the approach's central concept: mechanism. Once scrutinized, the concept reveals a tension between its connotation and its denotation. This can be addressed in two ways: either by maintaining what the concept connotes according to Tilly but limiting what it denotes (thus (...) limiting the paradigm's scope conditions) or by limiting what it connotes and maintaining what it was intended by Tilly to denote (thus maintaining wide scope conditions). Elucidating the possibilities of processual comparison is particularly important for comparative-historical sociology because the subfield rests upon processual presuppositions. (shrink)
Cet article présente une série d’épigrammes hellénistiques généralement peu étudiées et quelques témoignages littéraires et épigraphiques attestant le culte d’Aphrodite en tant que protectrice de la navigation. Les temples de la déesse occupaient souvent une position littorale, non parce qu’ils étaient des lieux où la « prostitution sacrée » était pratiquée, mais plutôt en raison de l’association d’Aphrodite avec la mer et de son rôle de patronne des marins. La protection qu’elle accordait était destinée à tous les navigateurs, y compris (...) la marine et les commerçants, et est attestée dans toute la Méditerranée, depuis la période archaïque jusqu’à la période hellénistique. De plus, les textes examinés révèlent un lien métaphorique entre les rôles d’Aphrodite comme protectrice de la navigation d’une part et comme déesse de la sexualité d’autre part.This paper offers a collection of generally neglected Hellenistic epigrams and some literary and epigraphic evidence that attest to the worship of Aphrodite as a patron deity of navigation.The goddess’ temples were often coastal not because they were places where “sacred prostitution” was practiced, but rather because of Aphrodite’s association with the sea and her role as a patron of seafaring.The protection she offered was to anyone who sailed, including the navy and traders, and is attested throughout the Mediterranean, from the Archaic to the Hellenistic periods.Further, the texts examined here reveal a metaphorical link between Aphrodite’s role as patron of navigation and her role as a goddess of sexuality. (shrink)
Two studies substantiating Blair's main postulates are summarized. The first study showed that fluid cognition, reasoning, and perceived competence about reasoning are separate and equipotent partners in g. The second study showed that reasoning, understanding of emotions, and perceived competence about reasoning and emotions partake in the formation of g, substantiating Blair's claim that cognition and emotion are linked in the brain.
Quartz & Sejnowski's (Q&S's) model for constructive learning agrees with the basic assumptions of mainstream cognitive developmental theories. However, it does not detail the neural equivalents of (1) the process of cognitive change per se, (2) the construction and functioning of thought modules, and (3) the involvement of “mindreading” and “mindsteering” in constructive learning. Specifying these equivalents is necessary if cognitive developmental neuroscience and mainstream cognitive development are to be directly connected.
Writing a history of ancient Greece, in periods of political turbulence and transition, involved the construction of an edifying platform for civil conduct. Britain, 1770-1850, was one such period. In examining Athenian democracy the British historians of the late eighteenth century, like William Mitford and John Gillies, found a convenient channel to articulate their private political preferences and antipathies, thereby accentuating the ideological antagonism of the post-revolutionary age. Athenian liberalism was deliberately drawn from oblivion only to be set as a (...) constitutional example to avoid, whereas the merits of the mixed British constitution were distinctly exposed. The British Utilitarians, by contrast, produced a case on behalf of representative government that included the basic characteristics of democracy and which witnessed its minimum prototype in ancient Athens. George Grote assumed the task of upsetting the conventional idea of Athens, thus perpetuating the typical association of Greek historiography with contemporary political discussion. (shrink)
From the early 1930s to the early 1960s many scholars, whether liberal-minded or socialist ideologues, Marxist or scientific positivists, classical scholars or political theorists and historians, have shown a widespread consensus in discrediting and assailing the man and political philosopher Plato. Such an extensive assault led the 'Platonic Legend' to an unprecedented crisis. Philosophically, it was a reaction to the undisguised Platonolatry coming from Oxford and the school of the British Idealists. Ideologically, the appropriation of Plato by Nazi apologists fostered (...) further this vehement indictment. But a lot of other causes worked to the same effect. The general anguish and humanistic anxiety on the eve of World War II and the postwar traumas led scholars to reconsider the meaning of history and historicism, the psychology of the masses and the ethical responsibility of the citizen, the role of propaganda and state education. Such complementary elements converged in sustained anti-Platonic polemics, which in turn provoked a vigorous defence. Here an attempt is made to offer a preliminary survey of this complex debate and to provide a general intellectual framework in terms of which that controversy can be further explored. (shrink)
This commentary compares the P-FIT model with psychometric and developmental models of intelligence and shows that there are isomorphisms and divergences between them. All three models involve some common dimensions, but the P-FIT model lacks many of the dimensions of the other models. Then we point to research that can lead to the integration of brain models with cognitive-developmental models.