The philosophical debate over the compatibility between causaldeterminism and moral responsibility relies heavily on ourreactions to examples. Although we believe that there is noalternative to this methodology in this area of philosophy, someexamples that feature prominently in the literature are positivelymisleading. In this vein, we criticize the use that incompatibilistsmake of the phenomenon of ``brainwashing,'''' as well as the Frankfurt-styleexamples favored by compatibilists. We provide an instance of thekind of thought experiment that is needed to genuinely test thehypothesis that moral (...) accountability and causal determinism arecompatible. (shrink)
In the world of practical affairs the rights of individuals and the prerogatives of communities often lie in tension. Collectives pursue cultural aims at the expense of the minorities in their midst. Individuals assert their freedoms and deploy their wealth in ways that are inimical to the public interest. There is not one country in the world where some variation of this theme is not being played out. Recognizable communities clash with individuals, just as surely as other individuals do.
Here lyes that mighty Man of SenseWho, full of years, departed hence,To teach the other world Intelligence,This was the prodigious Man,who vanquish’ d Pope and Puritan,By the Magic of Leviathan.Had he not Controversy wanted,His deeper Thoughts had not been scanted;Therefore good Spirits him transplant:Wise as he was, he could not tellWhether he went to Heaven or Hell.Beyond the Tenth Sphere, if there be a wide place,He'll prove by his Art there's no infinite space:And all good Angels may thank him, for (...) thatHe has prov’ d they are something, tho men know not what.Hobbes's Epitaph. (shrink)
H.A. Prichard argued that the “why should I be moral?” question is the central subject matter of moral theory. Prichard famously claimed to have proved that all efforts to answer that question are doomed. Many contributors to this volume of contemporary papers attempt to reconstruct Prichard’s argument. They claim either explicitly or implicitly that Prichard was mistaken, and philosophy can contribute to meaningful engagement with the ‘why be moral?’ question. A theme to emerge from these papers is that arguments like (...) Prichard’s rely on numerous philosophical presuppositions. The volume therefore touches on a wide range of topics and treatments. Is there one kind of practical reason or multiple kinds of reasons? Are there separate facts that determine the rationality and reasonableness of persons? Does the conception of a practical reason found in classical philosophy have the resources to undercut Prichard’s argument? Does it make sense to hold people morally accountable for their actions if it cannot be demonstrated that there are reasons to be moral? Does applied ethics have anything to contribute to the debate on morality’s rational authority? This volume will be useful for advanced undergraduates and specialists working on the foundations of morality, and morality’s intersection with reason and rationality. The detailed introduction enhances the collection’s accessibility by providing a detailed exposition of Prichard’s renowned thesis that draws on his lesser-known, mature papers. It then carefully situates the volume’s contents against that background. (shrink)
It is a noteworthy achievement of Western liberal democracies that they have largely relinquished the use of force against citizens whose lifestyles offend their members’ sensibilities, or alternatively which violate their members’ sense of truth. Toleration has become a central virtue in our public institutions. Powerful majorities are given over to restraint. They do not, by and large, expect the state to crush eccentrics, nonconformists, and other uncongenial minorities in their midst. What precipitated this remarkable evolution in our political culture?The (...) road to toleration originates in the debates provoked by religious dissent in the early modem period. This road was paved in part by a grudging appreciation of the necessity for pragmaticaccommodation. The wars of religion that had devastated the Continent educated the political classes about the costs of persecution. A policy of state-imposed religious intolerance was widely understood to be imprudent.In the early modem period there occurs, however, a shift in the arguments adduced in support of the duty of toleration. (shrink)
The most important unifying theme in Taylor's work concerns the perceived consequences of the "seventeenth-century revolution" in science. Taylor detects the influence of this development everywhere. And on the whole he does not like what he sees. A characteristic passage reads as follows.