In this article I describe the theoretical underpinnings of 20th-century British philosopher W. D. Ross's approach to linking deontological and teleological decision making. I attempt to fill in what Ross left on the whole unanswered, that is, how to use his duties to resolve dilemmas. A case study in journalism demonstrates how to apply the theory. I conclude with an analysis of what I take to be the strengths and weaknesses in Ross's theory.
The goal of this article is to try to resolve two key problems in the duty-based approach of W. D. Ross: the source of principles and a process for moving from prima facie to actual duty. I use a naturalistic explanation for the former and a nine-step method for making concrete ethical decisions as they could be applied to journalism. Consistent with Ross's position, the process is complicated, particularly in tougher problems, and it cannot guarantee correct choices. Again consistent with (...) Ross, such complexity and uncertainty speak in the method's favor, given the difficulty?factual, motivational, and organizational?of ethics problems and decision making. (shrink)
It is sometimes suggested that the logic of religious language differs from other kinds of language. Or it is said that each ‘language-game’ has its own ‘logic’ and that, whatever usual language-games are played in the context of religion, there is something that could be called the ‘religious language-game’ which does not correspond to any other and, therefore, has its own peculiar logic. In either case, religious people are urged to make clear what this logic is, so that their utterances (...) may be understood and evaluated. (shrink)
What connexion is there between factual statements concerning God or man and moral judgments? That is the question which occasions this paper. Not long ago moral philosophers were wont to say that there is a logical gap between the two sorts of utterance to which I have just referred: that nothing follows in terms of moral value from a statement of fact, no ‘ought’ from any ‘is’. They recognised only one restriction on what may be said in terms of ‘ought’ (...) by what has been said in terms of ‘is’, namely that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. It is manifest nonsense to say that anyone ought to do what he cannot do. But, this apart, they thought it possible without contradiction or anomaly to hold any conceivable factual belief and at the same time subscribe to any conceivable moral judgment. They would have held that it makes perfectly good sense to say, for example, ‘This is God’s will but it ought not to be done’ or ‘Men are not pigs but a good man will live like a pig’. Bizarre such judgments may be, they would have said, but nonsensical they are not. They conceived it to be their main business, as moral philosophers, to erect warning notices along the edge of the is-ought gap so that contemporary moralists would not fall headlong into it as so many of their predecessors, in less enlightened ages, had done. (shrink)
At the beginning of his book, Principles of Christian Theology, John Macquarrie says that theology ‘implicitly claims to have its place in the total intellectual endeavour of mankind’. The question I want to discuss is this: in what terms, if any, can that claim be justified?
I want to put forward a certain view of the logical foundation of religious belief. It is, in a sentence, the view that religious belief is constituted by the concept of god. This view will be discussed under three headings. First, I shall explain as clearly as I can what I mean by it. Secondly, I shall indicate what seem to me to be interesting parallels, both with regard to universes of discourse in general and to religious belief in particular, (...) between my idea of a constitutive concept and Wittgenstein's ideas of a fundamental proposition and a religious ‘picture’. Thirdly, I shall try to substantiate the view I take of the logical foundation of religious belief by rebutting three conceivable objections to it: namely, that it rests on an illegitimate craving for generality, that it is at variance with common usage, and that it consigns religious belief to an intellectual ghetto. (shrink)