A theory of punishment should tell us not only when punishment is permissible but also when it is a duty. It is not clear whether McCloskey's retributivism is supposed to do this. His arguments against utilitarianism consist largely in examples of punishments unacceptable to the common moral consciousness but supposedly approved of by the consistent utilitarian. We remain unpersuaded to abandon our utilitarianism. The examples are often fanciful in character, a point which (pace McCloskey) does rob them of much of (...) their force. If there was no tension between utilitarian precepts and those which come naturally to plain men, utilitarianism could have no claim to provide a critique of moralities. The utilitarian's attitude to such tensions is somewhat complicated, but what is certain is that there is more room in his system for the sentiments to which McCloskey appeals against him than McCloskey realizes. We agree with McCloskey, however, on the absurdity of substituting rule?utilitarianism for act?utilitarianism as an answer to his attacks. The distinction itself may represent a conceptual confusion. In our view, indeed, unmodified act?utilitarianism provides the best moral basis for thought about punishment. (shrink)
Can philosophy offer reasonable grounds for the existence of a God possessing genuine religious significance and not proposed simply as the solution to a purely intellectual philosophical problem? Timothy Sprigge offers a fascinating exploration of the metaphysical systems of a diverse range of philosophers, from Spinoza and Hegel to T. H. Green and Josiah Royce, testing objections to what might be called 'metaphysical religion' against the systems of these distinguished thinkers. In the process, Sprigge offers a compelling new defence of (...) a highly unfashionable Idealist worldview. (shrink)
Lawrence Johnson advocates a major change in our attitude toward the nonhuman world. He argues that nonhuman animals, and ecosystems themselves, are morally significant beings with interests and rights. The author considers recent work in environmental ethics in the introduction and then presents his case with the utmost precision and clarity. Written in an attractive, nontechnical style, the book will be of particular interest to philosophers, environmentalists and ecologists.
My purpose in what follows is not so much to defend the basic principle of utilitarianism as to indicate the form of it which seems most promising as a basic moral and political position. I shall take the principle of utility as offering a criterion for two different sorts of evaluation: first, the merits of acts of government, social policies, and social institutions, and secondly, the ultimate moral evaluation of the actions of individuals. I do not take it as implying (...) that the individual should live his life on the basis of constant evaluations of this sort. For there are different levels of decision making each with its appropriate criteria. For example, we each inevitably make many of our decisions from the point of view of our own personal self-fulfilment and this cannot regularly take a directly utilitarian form, nor should the utilitarian want it to do so. His claim is at most that we should sometimes review our life from the point of view of a kind of impersonal moral truth of a universalistic utilitarian character. (shrink)
Bentham and Mill and probably most utilitarians have a good deal in common with Hobbes and Spinoza as moral thinkers. For they share a commitment to deriving ethics from the actual and normal motivitations of human beings as creatures of the natural world rather than, like Kant and many religious moralists, from some transcendent realm to the requirements of which natural man has a duty to submit without expecting any help therefrom in the satisfaction of his natural inclinations. In the (...) present context I shall call all such thinkers ethical naturalists, though I do not mean this expression in any very precise technical sense, only to indicate a commitment to somehow deriving morality from natural fact. (shrink)
If there is such a thing as a genuine property appropriately called "intrinsic value" this property must be such that recognition that something does, or would, possess it, has a necessary tendency to motivate towards sustaining that thing in existence or producing it (if possible). There is just one thing which possesses that property and that is the property of being pleasurable (properly conceived) which, therefore, is the same as intrinsic value. (The same, mutatis mutandis, applies to intrinsic disvalue and (...) painfulness.) Why this seems not to be so is explained. (shrink)
The question whether an entity has rights is identified with that as to whether an intrinsic value resides in it which imposes obligations to foster it on those who can appreciate this value. There should be no difficulty in granting that animals have rights in this sense, but what of other natural objects and artifacts? It seems that various inanimate things, such as fine buildings and forests, often possess such intrinsic value, yet since they can only be fully actual in (...) an observing consciousness the most basic such right is that of being observed from time to time. That, at least, is true of them as phenomenal objects. There must, however, be a thing in itself behind the phenomenal object and sometimes this may possess an intrinsic value which gives rise to rights, not a matter of the need to be actualized in an observing consciousness, though it is extremely difficult to reach reliable conclusions here. (shrink)
As ethical attitudinists say, ethical statements cannot be strictly true or false, since they express wishes or attitudes, not beliefs. However, the wishes expressed by basic moral judgments about human rights are such that it is a necessary truth that those who know what human beings are have them, and those who do not acknowledge these rights show their lack of a living sense of human reality. The same goes for basic judgments about the rights of animals, and it is (...) blindness about the ontology of animal reality which lies behind the cruelty to animals inherent in vivisection and factory farming. One current source of this blindness may be the physicalist metaphysics which is typical of our day, and which should be sharply distinguished from metaphysical naturalism. (shrink)
The value of Leibniz’s thought to us today must lie primarily in his metaphysical system and the help it can give us in our own metaphysical puzzlings. Such not merely historical interest it can only have for those of us who still regard metaphysics as a viable enterprise. Thus some discussion of the past and future of the metaphysical enterprise may provide a useful background for the studies of Leibniz’s thought in the other contributions to this issue of The Monist. (...) Moreover, it is what is called speculative metaphysics which must be defended, not merely descriptive metaphysics, for Leibniz was certainly not merely describing our normal conceptual scheme. (shrink)
Utilitarian ethics and metaphysical idealism, especially of a Bradleyan sort, are not usually thought of as natural allies. Yet when one considers that it is a crucial part of utilitarian doctrine that the only genuine value is experienced value and almost the definition of idealism that for it the only genuine reality is experienced reality one should surely suspect that the two views have a certain affinity. The essential impulse behind utilitarianism is the sense that the only criterion of something (...) really being intrinsically good is that it feels good. To the ordinary man to say that something feels good is much the same as saying that it is a pleasure, so that for him it is a small step from identifying good with what feels good to identifying it with pleasure. It suggests itself, then, that the utilitarian is essentially one who thinks that, so far as the good goes, esse ispercipi. In that case the utilitarian is an idealist about value. It does not follow that he should be an idealist about things in general, but it does suggest the converse, that the idealist about things in general might be expected to be a utilitarian in his ethics. (shrink)
In this paper I shall speak sympathetically of a hedonistic theory of intrinsic value which, ignoring any other such theories, I shall simply call the hedonistic theory of value. How far I am finally committed to it will partly appear at the end.
As the editor noted in the last number Freddie Ayer, or Professor Sir Alfred Ayer, played a considerable part in launching the vast enterprise of the Bentham edition. It is fitting, therefore, that something be said in Utilitas about his achievement as a philosopher and the extent to which he falls within the same broad empiricist and utilitarian tradition to which Bentham and J. S. Mill belonged.
This paper falls into two main parts. In the first I shall review some of the things Bradley said about Christianity as he conceived it. In the second I shall use this review to spell out more formally the logical relations between some main doctrines of Christianity and Bradley’s mature philosophy.
Professor MacNiven is “convinced that only an idealist approach to ethics, epistemology and metaphysics” can “ensure philosophical progress” today. It is to support this claim that he has writen what is mostly a sympathetic examination of Bradley’s Ethical Studies, though one which draws extensively on Bradley’s later works for its interpretation. It aims to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Bradley’s ethics and to meet various objections to its approach. In particular, it argues for the importance of moral philosophy of psychological (...) theorizing of a phenomenological character such as characterizes Bradley’s ethical work and sets it off from most moral philosophy since. (shrink)
Graham Bird’s ‘A Comment on Timothy Sprigge’s Account of William James’, in the last issue of Bradley Studies might have better been called ‘A Comment on Timothy Sprigge’s Account of Graham Bird on William James’ True, that would identify its topic as a somewhat limited one as, if the index is correct, there are just nine sentences on this topic in my book James and Bradley: American Truth and British Reality. But it appears to be the matter which has mainly (...) fired Bird’s article. Bird believes that I have read his own book, William James, carelessly and misrepresent what he said, claiming to illustrate this with copious quotations from his own book. He dismisses ‘the unworthy thought that one who treats my [Bird’s] text so carelessly might not be a very reliable guide to James’s’. My own view is that ‘unworthy thoughts’ are better not expressed and I shall keep quiet about any of mine which might be deemed such. I don’t think that I read either Bird or James himself carelessly. If I was at all misleading, by failing to emphasise that Bird’s position was that James was attempting to unite the cognitive and the affective, I apologize; the offending remark was my response to his presupposing throughout his commentary the prima facie relevance of this distinction to the interpretation of James’s pragmatism. As for my not having read James carefully, his work has been my favourite philosophical reading for more than forty years, and I have puzzled endlessly over parts of it which I found problematic. I read Bird’s book thoroughly when I reviewed it, and my copy of it is covered in detailed pencil comments. (shrink)
It is questioned whether Dreyfus and Spinosa's essay faces the real issue of things-inthemselves. The importance of distinguishing three interconnected problems deserving to come under Dreyfus and Spinosa's title, 'Coping with Things-in-themselves', is stressed. These are (1) What is the real nature of the world in the midst of which we, whatever we really are, exist?; (2) Can the properties of things (or even of types of things) be distinguished into two types, those which belong to them necessarily (with a (...) de re necessity) and those which belong to them only contingently?; and (3) Which are the properties of things to which reference would have to be made in an ideally correct formulation of the laws which govern change as opposed to descriptions of their results in particular actual circumstances? (shrink)