Leslie Stephen, author, literary critic, social commentator and the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, published his two-volume History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century in 1876. This led him to further investigation and study of utilitarianism, whose proponents believed that human action should be guided by the principle of ensuring the happiness of the greatest number of people. While working on many other projects, especially the Dictionary, and haunted by domestic tragedy in the sudden death (...) of his second wife in 1895, Stephen struggled for two decades with this undertaking, calling it the 'utilitarian bog': the long-awaited three-volume work was finally published in 1900. Volume 2 examines the life and political background of James Mill whose writings were influential in the dissemination of utilitarianism. (shrink)
With great energy and clarity, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen (1829-1894), author of History of the Criminal Law of England, and judge of the High Court from 1879-91, challenges John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and On Utilitarianism, arguing that ...
In recent years a growing trend has emerged which has argued for a greater priority to be placed upon patient autonomy within the doctor-patient relationship. The patient self determination movement, which first began to emerge in the 1960s, helps to mark the start of this ground swell of patient power sentiment. In keeping with this idea, the recent book by Robert M. Veatch, Patient heal thyself: How the new medicine puts the patient in charge addresses this very idea, arguing for (...) and promoting a new paradigm for medicine which places the patient firmly at the centre of all decision making in terms of medical treatment and care. Veatch is one of the leading bioethicists in the USA, having previously held the position of Senior Associate at the Hastings Center before moving to the Kennedy Institute of Ethics where he has served as director and Professor of Medical Ethics. (shrink)
On a certain blindness in human beings.--The gospel of relaxation.--The energies of men.--Habit.--The will.--Philosophy and its critics.--The will to believe.--The sentiment of rationality.--Great men and their environment.--What pragmatism means.--Humanism and truth.--The positive content of religious experience.
This response offers an interpretation of James Gustafson's “Participation: A Religious Worldview,” which thinks with Gustafson on the theme of “participation,” while highlighting points where my own thoughts diverge from his. The essay begins by drawing the reader's attention to Gustafson's style, arguing that the simple elegance of his writing constitutes part of his larger claim about the need to remove ourselves from the center of our thought. Next, the essay analyzes Gustafson's use of “participation” by putting it in (...) context and connecting it with his broader methodology. Finally, I draw the reader's attention to important loci in the text in order to show how Gustafson's essay helps address various extant misinterpretations of his thought but also to point to ways in which my “thinking with” Gustafson leads me to think otherwise than he does. (shrink)
Stephen Gardiner and David Weisbach's recent Debating Climate Ethics takes up an urgent and important question: is ethics relevant to climate policy? Or rather, the book takes up several, closely related versions of that question we do well to distinguish clearly: 1 Are ethical considerations relevant to climate policy? 2 Do ethical theories philosophers defend have implications regarding climate policy? 3 Does climate ethics provide policy analysts any useful guidance? Or, in other words, should climate policy analysts pay any (...) attention to climate ethics? Weisbach's remarks about the role of ethics in climate policy in §5.4 and about distributive and corrective justice in Chapter 7 suggest he actually... (shrink)
Contrary to quietistic readings, Stephen Bush argues in William James on Democratic Individuality that the role of individualism in James’s view of religion is very much political—and not just generally political, but specifically so. Jamesian individualism is a democratic individualism; “No one doubts that James is committed to individualism,” Bush writes at the outset, “but the key thing is to figure out what his individualism involves”. To this end, this book asks the perennial question of philosophical (...) entailment.From the introduction, we learn that James’s philosophy, theology, politics, and ethics are not externally related elements for Bush. The integrality of each of these elements challenges the... (shrink)
Contributions in modern theoretical physics and chemistry on the behavior of nonlinear systems, exemplified by Ilya Prigogine's work on the thermodynamics of open systems, attract growing attention in economics. Our purpose here is to relate the new orientation in the natural sciences to a particular nonorthodox strand of thought within economics. All that is needed for this purpose is some appreciation of the general thrust of the enterprise, which involves a shift of perspective from the determinism of conventional physics to (...) the nonteleological open-endedness, creative, and nondetermined nature of evolutionary processes. (shrink)
I take it as my assignment to criticize the Gauthier enterprise. At the outset, however, I should express my general agreement with David Gauthier's normative vision of a liberal social order, including the place that individual principles of morality hold in such an order. Whether the enterprise is, ultimately, judged to have succeeded or to have failed depends on the standards applied. Considered as a coherent grounding of such a social order in the rational choice behavior of persons, the enterprise (...) fails. Considered as an extended argument implying that persons should adopt the moral stance embodied in the Gauthier structure, the enterprise is, I dunk, largely successful. Considered as a set of empirically falsifiable propositions suggesting that persons do, indeed, choose as the Gauthier precepts dictate, the enterprise offers Humean hope rather than Hobbesian despair. (shrink)
SUMMARYDue to his famous conflict with John Stuart Mill, James Fitzjames Stephen is often assumed to have been an opponent of toleration and intellectual freedom and a defender of authoritarian or reactionary principles. These assumptions are misleading. Stephen was, and was known in his time to have been, a champion of toleration. This essay provides a comprehensive overview of his writing on these themes, drawing from a wider array of texts than is usually considered in the study (...) of the Stephen-Mill controversy. Contrary to popular belief, Stephen had a deep and multi-faceted argument in favor of toleration. As a critic of contending theories of toleration and freedom of discussion, Stephen was concerned to defeat what he saw as the resurgence of a priori principles in Victorian political philosophy and to combat the expansion of a proper notion of toleration to include a cluster of beliefs and attitudes of which he disapproved. In his approach to these issues Stephen was, arguably, as representative of Victorian thinking as the author of On Liberty. (shrink)
John L. Austin believed that in the illocution he had discovered a fundamental element of our speech, the understanding of which would disclose the significance of all kinds of linguistic action: not only proposing marriage and finding guilt, but also stating, reporting, conjecturing, and all the rest of the things men can do linguistically. 2 We claim that the illocution, the full-fledged speech-act, is central to religious utterances as well, and that it provides a perspicuity in understanding them not elsewhere (...) provided in the work of recent philosophy of religion. In particular we hold that understanding religious talk through the illocution shows the way in which the representative and affective elements are connected to one another and to the utterance as a whole. There may, further, be features in such an analysis which can be extended to other forms of discourse than religious. (shrink)
Applied ethics work seems to me to be of three main kinds. There is participatory work, where a person whose specialism is ethics participates in a process leading to ethical judgments or decisions. And there are two kinds of teaching work where the teaching objective is to make learners better placed to participate in such processes; one kind of teaching work relates to matters which are specific to the future occupation of the learner, the other kind relates to matters which (...) are not specific to it. (shrink)
In a detailed and spirited critique, Professor James M. Humber has found my defence of the ontological argument unconvincing. Humber's case rests upon his claim that my ‘error’ is due to my ‘having accepted an incorrect definition of “physically necessary being” … ’. Now I do indeed claim that God must be conceived as a factuall necessary being, i.e. as eternally independent. I take the notion of God's aseity or eternal independence to be relatively straightforward and uncontroversial; it is (...) accepted as an essential component of the concept God by many philosophers who also insist that there is no acceptable form of demonstrative theism. Thus, it is widely held that ‘God is a factually necessary being’ does not imply ‘God is a logically necessary being’; that God is eternally independent does not imply that he exists in all possible worlds. But it is precisely this view that I have argued is incorrect. While I concur that there is an intelligible concept of God as factually necessary, I deny that the existence of such a being is logically contingent, a mere matter of empirical fact. Indeed, a rigorous inspection of the concept of an eternally independent being reveals that whether that concept is instantiated, i.e. whether there exists a being exemplifying that concept, is knowable a priori . My claim is in fact stronger than this. I argue that the existence of an eternal, independent, omniscient and omnipotent being is demonstrable by conceptual analysis. It is Humber's contention that my alleged demonstration of God's existence crumbles upon the discovery of the unacceptability of my definition of ‘factually necessary being’. Let us see. (shrink)