The crisis in the meaning of freedom -- What is freedom? -- Limiting freedom -- Freedom and justice -- Why we should accept this view of freedom -- Conditions that make us more free -- Applying the theory to the real world --Conclusion -- Appendix for professional philosophers -- Notes.
For quite some time, critics have attacked religious language on the grounds that theologians employed metaphors that were irreducible. By irreducible, they meant metaphors that could not be paraphrased in literal language. And any such language that could not be reduced to words that can be taken in a literal sense, would be devoid of cognitive meaning or truth value. Since theologians claimed that statements like ‘God is love’ cannot be reduced to a literal sense without robbing the concept of (...) God of its transcendent status, sceptics replied that such failures merely indicated the meaninglessness of religious language. Or, if apologists did assert that ‘God is love’ can be paraphrased by statements describing the love of one man for another, the sceptic claimed that such a move reduced religious language to anthropological language where terms like ‘God’ were superfluous. Critics argued that metaphors of religion posed the following dilemma: either religious metaphors could not be reduced to literal paraphrases and were, therefore, meaningless; or, religious metaphors could be reduced to literal paraphrases, but the method by which they were reduced eliminated the necessity for theological terminology. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition. Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve the problem of (...) the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge. Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists. (shrink)
The prefrontal cortex has long been suspected to play an important role in cognitive control, in the ability to orchestrate thought and action in accordance with internal goals. Its neural basis, however, has remained a mystery. Here, we propose that cognitive control stems from the active maintenance of patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex that represent goals and the means to achieve them. They provide bias signals to other brain structures whose net effect is to guide the flow of (...) activity along neural pathways that establish the proper mappings between inputs, internal states, and outputs needed to perform a given task. We review neurophysiological, neurobiological, neuroimaging, and computational studies that support this theory and discuss its implications as well as further issues to be addressed. (shrink)
The 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument for one-boxing in Newcomb's problem allegedly vindicates evidential decision theory and undermines causal decision theory. But there is a good response to the argument on behalf of causal decision theory. I develop this response. Then I pose a new problem and use it to give a new 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument. Unlike the old argument, the new argument targets evidential decision theory. And unlike the old argument, the new argument is sound.
This is an introduction to metaphysics for students and non-philosophers. (Philosophers: it's supposed to be the kind of book you can give to your friends and family, when they ask what you do for a living.) Contents: personal identity, fatalism, time, God, why not nothing?, free will, constitution, universals, necessity and possibility, what is metaphysics? (There is a second edition, which adds chapters on meta-metaphysics and the metaphysics of ethics.).
Recent defenders of the cognitive significance of religious language have had to face opponents from two directions; from those who demand that religious language be capable of some form of empirical verification and from those who demand that for religious language to be meaningful it must be capable of being understood in ordinary language. Apologists who have taken the first challenge seriously have strained to show that religious statements can be verified by ‘religious experience’, or by an ‘odd discernment’ or (...) by an ‘eschatological verification’. Each of these responses raises further problems for the defender of religion, but in general they all are subject to their failure to provide an adequate criterion or standard by which they could be inter-subjectively tested. Facing in the other direction, theological apologists have attempted to justify religious expressions by showing that they could be subsumed under special categories of ordinary language; namely those of ‘convictional language’ and ‘performative language’. Although these defenders have shown that religious language has an ‘ordinary usage’, they have not shown that the cognitive elements of this usage can be reduced to the ‘use of ordinary language’. (shrink)
Innovative practice occurs when a clinician provides something new, untested, or nonstandard to a patient in the course of clinical care, rather than as part of a research study. Commentators have noted that patients engaged in innovative practice are at significant risk of suffering harm, exploitation, or autonomy violations. By creating a pathway for harmful or nonbeneficial interventions to spread within medical practice without being subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation, innovative practice poses similar risks to the wider community of patients (...) and society as a whole. Given these concerns, how should we control and oversee innovative practice, and in particular, how should we coordinate innovative practice and clinical research? In this article, I argue that an ethical approach overseeing innovative practice must encourage the early transition to rigorous clinical research without delaying or deferring the development of beneficial innovations or violating the autonomy rights of clinicians and... (shrink)
This is a wide-ranging defense of a distinctive version of hedonistic act utilitarianism. It is plainly written, forthright, and stimulating. Also, it is replete with disputable assertions and arguments. I shall pursue one issue here, after sketching the project of each substantial chapter.
The principle of informed consent obligates physicians to explain possible side effects when prescribing medications. This disclosure may itself induce adverse effects through expectancy mechanisms known as nocebo effects, contradicting the principle of nonmaleficence. Rigorous research suggests that providing patients with a detailed enumeration of every possible adverse event?especially subjective self-appraised symptoms?can actually increase side effects. Describing one version of what might happen may actually create outcomes that are different from what would have happened without this information. This essay argues (...) that the perceived tension between balancing informed consent with nonmaleficence might be resolved by recognizing that adverse effects have no clear black or white?truth.? This essay suggests a pragmatic approach for providers to minimize nocebo responses while still maintaining patient autonomy through?contextualized informed consent,? which takes into account possible side effects, the patient being treated, and the particular diagnosis involved. (shrink)
E j lemmon, B a o williams, Bas van fraassen, And ruth marcus have argued on behalf of the existence of moral dilemmas, I.E., Cases where an agent is subject to conflicting absolute moral obligations. The paper criticizes this support and contends that no moral dilemma is possible.
In “Why the generality problem is everybody’s problem,” Michael Bishop argues that every theory of justification needs a solution to the generality problem. He contends that a solution is needed in order for any theory to be used in giving an acceptable account of the justificatory status of beliefs in certain examples. In response, first I will describe the generality problem that is specific to process reliabilism and two other sorts of problems that are essentially the same. Then I will (...) argue that the examples that Bishop presents pose no such problem for some theories. I will illustrate the exempt theories by describing how an evidentialist view can account for the justification in the examples without having any similar problem. It will be clear that other views about justification are likewise unaffected by anything like the generality problem. (shrink)
Experts take sides in standing scholarly disagreements. They rely on the epistemic reasons favorable to their side to justify their position. It is argued here that no position actually has an overall balance of undefeated reasons in its favor. Candidates for such reasons include the objective strength of the rational support for one side, the special force of details in the case for one side, and a summary impression of truth. All such factors fail to justify any position.
The paper explores the promise of ethical codes as a means to control unethical behavior in business. After a review of arguments for ethical codes from outside the business system, the paper outlines the arguments for codes from inside the business system at the level of the industry, firm and individual executive.The paper then discusses the problems of code design — the dilemma between specific practices and general precepts — and offers a model for a thoroughgoing code. This is followed (...) by a discussion of the problems of promulgation and code enforcement. (shrink)
Whether or not capitalism is compatible with ethics is a long standing dispute. We take up an approach to virtue ethics inspired by Adam Smith and consider how market competition influences the virtues most associated with modern commercial society. Up to a point, competition nurtures and supports such virtues as prudence, temperance, civility, industriousness and honesty. But there are also various mechanisms by which competition can have deleterious effects on the institutions and incentives necessary for sustaining even these most commercially (...) friendly of virtues. It is often supposed that if competitive markets are good, more competition must always be better. However, in the long run competition enhancing policies that neglect the nurturing and support of the bourgeois virtues may undermine the continued flourishing of modern commercial society. (shrink)
Several philosophers have recently argued that policies aimed at reducing human fertility are a practical and morally justifiable way to mitigate the risk of dangerous climate change. There is a powerful objection to such “population engineering” proposals: even if drastic fertility reductions are needed to prevent dangerous climate change, implementing those reductions would wreak havoc on the global economy, which would seriously undermine international antipoverty efforts. In this article, we articulate this economic objection to population engineering and show how it (...) fails. We argue, first, that the economic objection paints an inaccurate picture of the complicated relationship between demographic change and economic growth, and second, that any untoward economic effects of fertility reduction can be mitigated with additional policies. Specifically, we argue that supplementing fertility reduction with policies that facilitate the emigration of younger people from developing nations to developed nations could allow for both global reductions in GHG emissions and continued economic stability. Further, we show that moral arguments against such unprecedented increases in immigration are unsuccessful. We conclude that population engineering is a practical and morally justifiable tool for addressing the twin evils of climate change and global poverty. (shrink)
Advertisers often use computers to create fantastic images. Generally, these are perfectly harmless images that are used for comic or dramatic effect. Sometimes, however, they are problematic human images that I call computer-generated images of perfection. Advertisers create these images by using computer technology to remove unwanted traits from models or to generate entire human bodies. They are images that portray ideal human beauty, bodies, or looks. In this paper, I argue that the use of such images is unethical. I (...) begin by explaining the common objections against advertising and by demonstrating how critics might argue that those objections apply to computer-generated images of perfection. Along the way, I demonstrate an ethically significant difference between computer-generated images of perfection and the images in ordinary ads. I argue that although critics might use this fact to apply the common objections to the use of computer-generated images of perfection, the objections fail. Finally, I argue that despite surviving the common objections, the use of computer-generated images of perfection is subject to an ethical objection that is based on aesthetic considerations. Advertisers are ethically obligated to avoid certain aesthetic results that are produced by computer-generated images of perfection. (shrink)
In several works, Jason Brennan and Peter Martin Jaworski defend the following thesis: If it is permissible to have, use, or exchange something for free, then it is permissible to have, use, or exchange that thing for money. In this paper, I argue that No Limits is false. Moreover, the reasons why it is false reflect many of the complaints made against markets. The paper will proceed as follows: In §1, I summarize Brennan and Jaworski’s position to clarify exactly what (...) a challenge to No Limits requires. In §2, I raise just such a challenge, one which also captures the concern behind some “semiotic objections.” In §3, I offer a modification to No Limits that avoids my objection but, as a result, re-opens the question of whether markets in some of the goods Brennan and Jaworski discuss are permissible. I conclude in §4 by considering a possible response and some thoughts on the dialectic as it stands. (shrink)
Schadenfreude is the emotion we experience when we obtain pleasure from others’ misfortunes. Typically, we are not proud of it and admit experiencing it only sheepishly or apologetically. Philosophers typically view it, and the disposition to experience it, as moral failings. Two recent defenders of Schadenfreude, however, argue that it is morally permissible because it stems from judgments about the just deserts of those who suffer misfortunes. I also defend Schadenfreude, but on different grounds that overcome two deficiencies of those (...) recent defenses. First, my defense accounts for the wide range of circumstances in which we experience Schadenfreude. Those circumstances often involve feelings and judgments that are less noble and admirable than judgments regarding just deserts. Second, it accounts for the sheepish or apologetic feelings that commonly accompany Schadenfreude. The two recent defenses can account for those feelings only by holding that they are mistaken or misguided. In opposition to those who view Schadenfreude as a moral failing, I argue that it is morally permissible unless it is part of a causal chain that produces an immoral act. The moral permissibility of the emotion is necessary in order for individuals to have the emotional freedom that, in turn, is necessary for their well-being. Schadenfreude’s moral status is similar to a sexual fetish’s. Like a fetish, experiencing Schadenfreude is not immoral in itself, but sharing and discussing it with others is immoral in many contexts. (shrink)
This study proposes a model that explains the ethical behavior of automobile salespeople in terms of their ethical perception, legal perception, method of compensation (commission-based or salary-based), age, and education. The model is estimated by using five scenarios that involve ethical issues commonly found in the automobile industry and responses from 184 automobile salespeople in a mid-Atlantic metropolitan area. The findings suggest that ethical perception is the most important determinant of ethical behavior. Also, method of compensation is a major determinant (...) in four of five scenarios, and legal perception in two out of five scenarios. However, age and education are not significantly related to ethical behavior. A discussion of the results, limitations, and implications is presented for managers. (shrink)
In recent years, many business ethicists have raised problems with the “ethics pays” credo. Despite these problems, many continue to hold it. I argue that support for the credo leads business ethicists away from a potentially fruitful approach found in Hume’s moral philosophy. I begin by demonstrating that attempts to support the credo fail because proponents are trying to provide an answer to the “Why be moral?” question that is based on rational self-interest. Then, I show that Hume’s sentiments-based moral (...) theory providesan alternative to the credo that points toward a more fruitful approach to business ethics. Along the way, I examine a recent social contract alternative to the credo that, despite many appealing features, is less effective than is the Humean alternative. Finally, I develop a Humean approach to business ethics and demonstrate why it is a desirable alternative that business ethicists should explore. (shrink)
Although a number of articles have addressed ethical perceptions and behaviors, few studies have examined ethics across cultures. This research focuses on measuring the job satisfaction, customer orientation, ethics, and ethical training of automotive salespersons in the U.S. and Taiwan. The relationships of these variables to salesperson performance were also investigated. Ethics training was found to be negatively related to perceived levels of ethicalness and performance. High performance U.S. salespeople reported high ethical behavior, while the opposite was true in Taiwan. (...) Customer orientation in both countries was influenced by ethics training. Managers should evaluate current ethics training programs to insure correct ethical behavior is taught and rewarded. (shrink)