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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
If I lead a life of virtue, that may well be good for you. But will it also be good for me? The idea that it will—or even must—is an ancient one, and its appeal runs deep. For if this idea is correct then we can provide everyone with a good reason—arguably the best reason—for being virtuous. However, for all the effort which has been invested in defending the idea, by some of the best minds in the history of philosophy, (...) it remains unproven. Worse, in this skeptical age hardly anyone really believes it. I don't really believe it either, at least not in its strongest forms, but I think that the question is nonetheless worth examining. Even if we cannot show that virtue and self-interest coincide, we can at least measure the breadth of the gap between them. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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.