It is commonly thought that exploitation is unjust; some think it is part of the very meaning of the word ‘exploitation’ that it is unjust. Those who think this will suppose that the just society has to be one in which people do not exploit one another, at least on a large scale. I will argue that exploitation is not unjust by definition, and that a society might be fundamentally just while nevertheless being pervasively exploitative. I do think that exploitation (...) is nearly always a bad thing, and wul try to identify the moral belief which makes most of us think it is. But I will argue that its badness does not always consist in its being unjust. (shrink)
Understanding more about how the brain functions should help us understand economic behaviour. But some would have us believe that it has done this already, and that insights from neuroscience have already provided insights in economics that we would not otherwise have. Much of this is just academic marketing hype, and to get down to substantive issues we need to identify that fluff for what it is. After we clear away the distractions, what is left? The answer is that a (...) lot is left, but it is still all potential. That is not a bad thing, or a reason to stop the effort, but it does point to the need for a serious reconsideration of what neuroeconomics is and what passes for explanation in this literature. I argue that neuroeconomics can be a valuable field, but not the way it is being developed and “sold” now. The same is true more generally of behavioural economics, which shares many of the methodological flaws of neuroeconomics. (shrink)
It is widely recognized that prioritizing health care resources by their relative cost-effectiveness can result in lower priority for the treatment of disabled persons than otherwise similar non-disabled persons. I distinguish six different ways in which this discrimination against the disabled can occur. I then spell out and evaluate the following moral objections to this discrimination, most of which capture an aspect of its unethical character: it implies that disabled persons' lives are of lesser value than those of non-disabled persons; (...) it constitutes “double jeopardy” or violates Frances Kamm's non-linkage principle; it conflicts with equality of opportunity; it conflicts with fairness, which requires ignoring differential impacts of treatment; it wrongly gives lower priority to disabled persons for equally effective treatment; it conflicts with giving all persons an equal chance to reach their full potential; and, it is in conflict with giving priority to the worse off. (shrink)
With each of our three criminal-law topics—defining offenses, apprehending suspects, and establishing punishments—we feel, I believe, strong moral resistance to the idea that our practices should be settled by a prospective-participant perspective. This becomes quite clear when we look at how the “reforms” suggested by institutional viewing might combine once we consider all three topics together: imagine a more extensive and swifter use of the death penalty in homicide cases coupled with somewhat lower standards of evidence; or think of backing (...) a strict-liability criminal statute with the death penalty. Of course, such “reforms” would increase the execution of innocents; but, their proponents will tell us, any penal system involves the punishment of some innocents, and, if it provides for the death penalty, the execution of some innocents. Moreover, why is it worse for innocents to be punished than for innocents to suffer an equivalent harm in some other way? Formulated from a prospective-participant perspective: Why not run a small risk of being innocently executed in exchange for reducing, much more significantly, the risk of dying prematurely in other ways? (shrink)
Would personal immortality have any value for one so endowed? An affirmative answer would seem so obvious to some that they might be tempted to go so far as to claim that immortality is a condition of life's having any value at all. The claim that immortality is a necessary condition for the meaningfulness of life seems untenable. What, however, of the claim that immortality is a sufficient condition for the meaningfulness of life? Though some might hold this to be (...) the characteristic religious view, this is certainly disputable. Thus McTaggart reminds us, for instance, that ‘Buddhism... holds immortality to be the natural state of man, from which only the most perfect can escape.’ I want to argue that we can imagine variants of personal immortality which would not be valuable and hence immortality in itself cannot be a sufficient condition for value. What is required for the meaningfulness of life is that life exhibit certain valuable qualities. But then the endless exhibition of these qualities is not only unnecessary for the meaningfulness of life, but the endlessness of a life can even devalue those qualities that would make valuable a single, bounded life. (shrink)
‘Marital faithfulness’ refers to faithful love for a spouse or lover to whom one is committed, rather than the narrower idea of sexual fidelity. The distinction is clearly marked in traditional wedding vows. A commitment to love faithfully is central: ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… and thereto I plight [pledge] thee my troth [faithfulness]’. (...) Sexual fidelity is promised in a subordinate clause, symbolizing its supportive role in promoting love's constancy: ‘and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her/him.’. (shrink)
The Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism of Philippa Foot and Rosalind Hursthouse purports to establish a naturalistic criterion for the virtues. Specifically, by developing a parallel between the natural ends of nonhuman animals and the natural ends of human beings, they argue that character traits are justified as virtues by the extent to which they promote and do not inhibit natural ends such as self-preservation, reproduction, and the well-being of one’s social group. I argue that the approach of Foot and Hursthouse cannot (...) provide a basis for moral universalism, the widely-accepted idea that each human being has moral worth and thus deserves significant moral consideration. Foot and Hursthouse both depict a virtuous agent as implicitly acting in accord with moral universalism. However, with respect to charity, a virtue they both emphasize, their naturalistic criterion at best provides a warrant for a restricted form of charity that extends only to a limited number of persons. There is nothing in the natural ends of human beings, as Foot and Hursthouse understand these, that gives us a reason for having any concern for the well-being of human beings as such. (shrink)
Das »Richtige und das Gute« (1930), das ethische Hauptwerk W. D. Ross’, enthält eine Vielzahl wichtiger moralphilosophischer Thesen und Argumente, die bis in die Gegenwart kontrovers diskutiert werden. Im Mittelpunkt steht seine pluralistische Deontologie, der zufolge sich die richtige Handlung aus einer Abwägung der in der jeweiligen Situation relevanten und unableitbaren Prima-facie-Pflichten ergibt, von denen nur ein Teil auf die Optimierung der Handlungsfolgen bezogen ist. Diese Deontologie wurde zu einem modernen Klassiker unter den normativen ethischen Theorien. Darüber hinaus stellt Ross’ (...) These, dass moralische Intuitionen eine Quelle selbstevidenten Wissens sein können, einen wichtigen Referenzpunkt in Debatten um den erkenntnistheoretischen Fundamentalismus dar. Auch für die Handlungstheorie liefert Ross einflussreiche Argumente, wenn er die Ansicht vertritt, dass Pflichten nie ein bestimmtes Motiv des Handelnden zum Gegenstand haben können. Eine zentrale Stellung nimmt für Ross die Güterlehre ein, in welcher er von vier Grundgütern, Tugend, Wissen, Lust und Gerechtigkeit, ausgeht. Wurde Ross in den ersten Jahrzehnten des 20. Jahrhunderts im damaligen Großbritannien als ein herausragender Ethiker – einer der bedeutendsten des Jahrhunderts, auf Augenhöhe mit G.E. Moore – angesehen, wandelte sich das Meinungsbild in den folgenden Jahrzehnten unter dem Einfluss besonders des Logischen Positivismus und der Philosophie Wittgensteins. In den letzten Jahrzehnten ist jedoch wieder ein wachsendes Interesse an Ross’ Ethik festzustellen. Dabei wird »Das Richtige und das Gute« bisweilen sogar mit der »Nikomachischen Ethik«, Kants »Grundlegung« und Humes »Untersuchung über die Prinzipien der Moral« verglichen. (shrink)
Wittgenstein wrote ‘While thinking philosophically we see problems in places where there are none. It is for philosophy to show that there are no problems’. He meant that the ‘problems’ philosophers grapple with are of their own making. In a related remark he said: ‘This is the essence of a philosophical problem. The question itself is the result of a muddle. And when the question is removed, this is not by answering it’. Even more explicitly he said: ‘All that philosophy (...) can do is to destroy idols’. As he understood his job, it was not to produce or construct something; his job was entirely destructive. This is how Wittgenstein thought of philosophy when he thought about it in the abstract, and I share this view of philosophy. I believe that when we see how to dispose of all philosophical categories, our job is finished. For example, in epistemology our job is not to argue that it is possible to know such-and-such because so-and-so ; rather, we undermine all those ideas that make it seem as though we could not know such-and-such. Undermining philosophical ideas takes the form: When we philosophise, we are tempted to think so-and-so, but if we consider that idea, and do so while remaining free of all philosophical jargon, we find that we cannot make sense of it. (shrink)
There have in recent years been at least two important attempts to get to grips with Aristotle's conception of dialectic. I have in mind those by Martha C. Nussbaum in ‘Saving Aristotle's appearances’, which is chapter 8 of her The Fragility of Goodness , and by Terence H. Irwin in his important, though in my opinion somewhat misguided, book Aristotle's First Principles . There is a sense in which both of these writers are reacting to the work of G. E. (...) L. Owen on cognate matters, particularly his well-known paper ‘ Tithenai ta phainomena ’. Owen himself was in part reacting to what I suppose is the traditional view of how Aristotle regarded dialectic, as revealed in Topics I. 1. On that view dialectic is for Aristotle a lesser way of proceeding than is demonstration, the method of science. For demonstration proceeds from premises which are accepted as true in themselves and moves from them to conclusions which follow necessarily from those premises; and the middle term of such a demonstrative syllogism then provides the ‘reason why’ for the truth of the conclusion. Dialectic proceeds from premises which are accepted on a lesser basis ‘by everyone or by the majority or by the wise, i.e. by all, or by the majority, or by the most notable and reputable of them’ , and proceeds deductively from them to further conclusions. (shrink)
Social scientists could learn some useful things from philosophy. Here I shall discuss what I take to be one such thing: a better understanding of the concept of utility. There are several reasons why a better understanding may be useful. First, this concept is commonly found in the writings of social scientists, especially economists. Second, utility is the main ingredient in utilitarianism, a perspective on morality that, traditionally, has been very influential among social scientists. Third, and most important, with a (...) better understanding of utility comes, as I shall try to show here, a better understanding of “personal welfare”. or, in other words, of what may be said to be in people's best interests. Such an understanding is useful to social scientists and philosophers alike, whether for utilitarian purposes or not. (shrink)
The paper âF. W. Bessel and Russian science by K. K. Lavrinovich published in NTM-Schriftenreihe contains several errors coming mainly from re-translations of German names and texts from Russian into German. The correct spelling of names and original texts are given here. Beside this, some additional information from sources not mentioned by the author is presented, and the kind of relationship between Bessel and W. Struve is discussed on the basis of their correspondence.
Traditional Western conceptions of immortality characteristically presume that we come into existence at a particular time , live out our earthly span and then die. According to some, our death may then be followed by a deathless post-mortem existence. In other words, it is assumed that we are born only once and die only once; and that – at least on some accounts – we are future-sempiternal creatures. The Western secular tradition affirms at least ; the Western religious tradition – (...) Christianity, Judaism, Islam – generally affirms both and . The Indian tradition, however, typically denies both and . That is, it maintains both that we all have pre-existed beginninglessly, and that we have lived many times before and must live many times again in this world. The Indian picture, then, is that we have died and been reborn innumerable times previous to this life and we will be reborn many times in the future. This is sometimes called the Indian belief in reincarnation. The difficulty with this usage is that the term ‘reincarnation’ suggests a belief in an immortal soul that transmigrates or reincarnates. However Buddhism, while affirming rebirth, specifically denies the existence of an eternal soul. Thus the term ‘rebirth’ is preferable for referring to the generally espoused Indian doctrine. (shrink)
Does Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics give one consistent answer to the question what life is best or two mutually inconsistent answers? In the First Book he says that we can agree to say that the best life is eudaimonia or eupraxia but must go on to say in what eudaimonia consists . By considering the specific nature of man as a thinking animal he reaches a conclusion: eudaimonia , the human good , is the activity of soul in accordance (...) with virtue , and if there are more than one virtue in accordance with the best and most complete , and in a complete life . Aristotle states that his formula is no more than a sketch or outline , but that a good sketch is important since, if the outline is right, anyone can articulate it and supply details. He seems to be thinking here not just of the rest of his own treatise but of the work of pupils and successors; he speaks, as at the end of the Topics , of progress in a science. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that Brad Hooker's rule-consequentialism implausibly implies that what earthlings are morally required to sacrifice for the sake of helping their less fortunate brethren depends on whether or not other people exist on some distant planet even when these others would be too far away for earthlings to affect.
In this essay, Hegel attempted to show how Fichte’s Science of Knowledge was an advance from the position of Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, and how Schelling (and incidentally Hegel himself) had made a further advance from the position of Fichte.
No one who cares about equal opportunity can derive much comfort from the present occupational distribution of working women. In the various industrial societies of the West, women comprise between one quarter and one-half of the national labor force. However, they tend to clustered in employment sectors – especially clerical, sales, and service J occupations – which rank relatively low in remuneration, status, autonomy, and other perquisites. Meanwhile, the more prestigious and rewarding managerial and professional positions, as well as the (...) major categories of blue-collar labor, remain largely a male preserve. In the same societies the average income earned by full-time female workers is one-half to two- J thirds that of their male counterparts. Although this disparity owes much to i other factors, including lower pay for work similar or even identical to that r standardly done by men, much of it can be explained only by the concentration of working women in traditional female job ghettos. (shrink)
Perhaps the most salient feature of Rawls's theory of justice which at once attracts supporters and repels critics is its apparent egalitarian conclusion as to how economic goods are to be distributed. Indeed, many of Rawls's sympathizers may find this result intuitively appealing, and regard it as Rawls's enduring contribution to the topic of economic justice, despite technical deficiencies in Rawls's contractarian, decision-theoretic argument for it which occupy the bulk of the critical literature. Rawls himself, having proposed a “coherence” theory (...) of justification in metaethics, must regard the claim that his distributive criterion “is a strongly egalitarian conception” as independently a part of the overarching moral argument. The alleged egalitarian impact of Rawls's theory is crucial again in normative ethics where Rawls is thought to have developed a major counter-theory to utilitarianism, one of the most popular criticisms of which has been its alleged inadequacy in handling questions of distributive justice. Utilitarians can argue, however, as Brandt recently has, that the diminishing marginal utility of money, along with ignorance of income-welfare curves, would require a utility-maximizing distribution to be substantially egalitarian. The challenge is therefore for Rawls to show that his theory yields an ethically preferable degree of equality. (shrink)
In 1992 M.W. Evans proposed the O(3) symmetry of electromagnetic fields by adding a constant longitudinal magnetic field to the well-known transverse electric and magnetic fields of circularly polarized plane waves, such that certain cyclic relations of a so-called O(3) symmetry are fulfilled. Since then M.W. Evans has elevated this O(3) symmetry to the status of a new law of electromagnetics. As a law of physics must be invariant under admissible coordinate transforms, namely Lorentz transforms, in 2000 he published a (...) proof of the Lorentz invariance of O(3) symmetry of electromagnetic fields. As will be shown below this proof is incorrect; more, after simple correction it will turn out here that the O(3) symmetry cannot be Lorentz invariant. (shrink)
One of the most actively discussed aspects of Keynes's thought during the last decade has been his concern with uncertainty and probability theory. As the concerns of current macroeconomic theorists have turned increasingly to the effects of expectations and uncertainty, interest has grown in the fact that Keynes was the author of A Treatise on Probability and that uncertainty plays a prominent role in Chapter 12 of The General Theory as well as in three 1937 papers in which he summarized (...) The General Theory's main point. Not surprisingly, though, there has been very little agreement in this recent discussion about exactly what the significance of Keynes's early work in probability was to his later work as an economist, or about what the roles of uncertainty and expectations are in The General Theory. (shrink)
Faced with the choice between creating a risk of harm and taking a precaution against that risk, should I take the precaution? Does the proper analysis of this trade-off require a maximizing, utilitarian approach? If not, how does one properly analyze the trade-off? These questions are important, for we often are uncertain about the effects of our actions. Accordingly, we often must consider whether our actions create an unreasonable risk of injury — that is, whether our actions are negligent.
Suppose that the ultimate point of ethics is to make the world a better place. If it is, we must face the question: better in what respect? If the good is prior to the right — that is, if the rationale for all requirements of the right is that they serve to further the good in one way or another — then what is this good? Is there a single fundamental value capable of underlying and unifying all of our moral (...) categories? If so, how might it defeat the claims of rival candidates for this role? If not, is there instead a plurality of basic goods, each irreducible to any of the others? In that case, how do they fit together into a unified picture of the moral life? These are the questions I wish to address, in a necessarily limited way. To many the questions will seem hopelessly old-fashioned or misguided. Some deontologists will wish to reverse my ordering of the good and the right, holding that the right constrains acceptable conceptions of the good. For many contractarians, neither the good nor the right will seem normatively basic, since both are to be derived from a prior conception of rationality. Finally, some theorists will reject the classification of moral theories in terms of their basic normative categories, arguing that the whole foundationalist enterprise in ethics should be abandoned. In the face of these challenges to the priority of the good, and in light of the many current varieties of moral skepticism and relativism, I cannot provide a very convincing justification for raising the questions I intend to discuss. (shrink)
One of the most noteworthy features of David Gauthier's rational choice, contractarian theory of morality is its appeal to self-interested rationality. This appeal, however, will undoubtedly be the source of much controversy and criticism. For while self-interestedness is characteristic of much human behavior, it is not characteristic of all such behavior, much less of that which is most admirable. Yet contractarian ethics appears to assume that humans are entirely self-interested. It is not usually thought a virtue of a theory that (...) its assumptions are literally false. What may be said on behalf of the contractarian? (shrink)
We all think that science is special. Its products—its technological spin-off—dominate our lives which are thereby sometimes enriched and sometimes impoverished but always affected. Even the most outlandish critics of science such as Feyerabend implicitly recognize its success. Feyerabend told us that science was a congame. Scientists had so successfully hood-winked us into adopting its ideology that other equally legitimate forms of activity—alchemy, witchcraft and magic—lost out. He conjured up a vision of much enriched lives if only we could free (...) ourselves from the domination of the ‘one true ideology’ of science just as our ancestors freed us from the domination of the Church. But he told us these things in Switzerland and in California happily commuting between them in that most ubiquitous product of science—the aeroplane. (shrink)