It is common for philosophers and legal theorists to bemoan the proliferation of the language of rights in popular discourse.1 In a wide range of contemporary public political and ethical debates, disputants are quick to appeal to the existence of rights that support their position – the ‘human rights’ of innocent victims of war, animals’ noninterference rights, individuals’ and businesses’ rights to economic freedom. It is often maintained, with some plausibility, that these public disputes involve hasty and undefended reliance on (...) assumptions that certain specific rights exist, and that such profligacy with the language of rights does little to clarify and enhance public debate. By contrast, the two prominent theoretical analyses of the concept ‘a right’ – the Will Theory and the InterestTheory – are both revisionary theories which, if widely adopted, would require people to revise their usage of the term ‘a right’. The Will Theory is an explicitly revisionary theory, according to which rights can be held only by beings capable of waiving their rights (and hence rights cannot be held by animals or young children).2 I shall argue that traditional versions of the InterestTheory would also require revisions of popular usage of the term ‘a right’ (by implying that certain property rights and promissory rights cannot genuinely qualify as rights). Such revisionary analyses of the concept ‘a right’ might be applauded for aiming to enhance the conceptual clarity of public debate. However, my stance in this paper is avowedly non-revisionary. My aims are to seek an analysis of the concept ‘a right’ that accords with the multifarious ways in which this term is used in everyday ethical and political debates, and to argue that philosophers and legal theorists would benefit from adopting such a non-revisionary approach. (shrink)
This article introduces a new formulation of the interesttheory of rights. The focus is on ‘Bentham’s test’, which was devised by Matthew Kramer to limit the expansiveness of the interesttheory. According to the test, a party holds a right correlative to a duty only if that party stands to undergo a development that is typically detrimental if the duty is breached. The article shows how the entire interesttheory can be reformulated in (...) terms of the test. The article then focuses on a further strength of the interesttheory, brought to the fore by the new formulation. In any Western legal system, the tortious maltreatment of a child or a mentally disabled individual results in a compensatory duty. The interesttheory can account for such duties in a simple and elegant way. The will theory, on the other hand, struggles to explain such compensatory duties unless it abandons some of its main tenets. (shrink)
Derek Parfit is surely right when he says, at the beginning of Reasons and Persons, that many of us want to know what we have most reason to do. Several theories attempt to answer this question, and Parfit begins his discussion with the best-known case: the Self-interestTheory, or S. When applied to actions, S claims that “ What each of us has most reason to do is whatever would be best for himself, and It is irrational for (...) anyone to do what he believes will be worse for himself” . Objections to this theory are of many kinds, and in the first part of his book Parfit examines the objection that S is, in various ways, self-defeating. One such objection is that S implies we sometimes cannot avoid acting irrationally, but Parfit claims it is not a good objection to S that it has this implication. I disagree. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the objection in more detail , and then to argue that each of Parfit's responses to the objection is inadequate. (shrink)
The connection of value-experience with activity has led to the widespread modern tendency to interpret value in terms of interest. To value a thing is certainly to take an interest in it, and there can be no doubt that the value any object has for us tends to vary with the interest we take in it. The suggestion readily arises, therefore, that the value of any object simply is the interest we take in it. The difficulty (...) with views of this type is that interest is a distinctly subjective category while value is persistently spoken of as if it were somehow objective. Indeed, the term “value” would lose the most essential element of its meaning if it could not be applied to objects of common knowledge in such a way that two people could significantly discuss the question as to whether the object A is not more valuable than the object B and each, on the basis of his own interest and experience, defend a different view. I do not think the subjectivity of value can be as easily disposed of as does Laird1 in discussing the argument, “Beauty is not in the aurora. Therefore it is in the beholder's mind.” This, he says, leads to the absurdity, “Therefore the beholder's mind is beautiful.” The apparent absurdity is due to the ambiguity of the term “beautiful.” It is applied either to an experience or to the object of that experience. (shrink)
The received view in Thomas Hobbes scholarship is that theindividual rights described by Hobbes in his political writings andspecifically in Leviathan are simple freedoms or libertyrights, that is, rights that are not correlated with duties orobligations on the part of others. In other words, it is usually arguedthat there are no claim rights for individuals in Hobbes''s politicaltheory. This paper argues, against that view, that Hobbes does describeclaim rights, that they come into being when individuals conform to thesecond law of (...) nature and that they are genuine moral claim rights, thatis, rights that are the ground of the obligations of others to forebearfrom interfering with their exercise. This argument is defended againstboth Jean Hampton''s and Howard Warrender''s interpretations of rights inHobbes''s theory. The paper concludes that the theory of rightsunderlying Hobbes''s writing is not taken from Natural Law but isprobably closer to a modern interesttheory of rights. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAccording to interest theorists of rights, rights function to protect the right-holder's interests. True. But this leaves a lot unsaid. Most saliently here, it is certainly not the case that every agent who stands to benefit from performance of a duty gets to be a right-holder. For a theory to allow this to be the case—to allow for an explosion of right-holders—would be tantamount to a reductio thereof. So the challenge for interest theorists is to respect the (...) core of the interesttheory while delimiting the set of right-holders in a principled manner. The foremost explicit attempt to do this has invoked Bentham's test. Predictably, invocation of this test has come under attack, with the ultimate aim of challenging the interesttheory itself. My purpose in this paper is to render Bentham's test as clearly and accurately as possible. Doing so will raise issues of modality—ultimately in rendering Bentham's test's logical form. Ultimately a core attack on Bentham's test falls away, and, to that extent, the interesttheory remains standing as a promising theory of rights. (shrink)
Stakeholder theory is widely recognized as a management theory, yet very little research has considered its implications for individual managerial decision-making. In the two studies reported here, we used stakeholder theory to examine managerial decisions about balancing stakeholder interests. Results of Study 1 suggest that indivisible resources and unequal levels of stakeholder saliency constrain managers’ efforts to balance stakeholder interests. Resource divisibility also influenced whether managers used a within-decision or an across-decision approach to balance stakeholder interests. In (...) Study 2 we examined instrumental and normative implications of these two approaches. We conclude by considering the contributions of this research. (shrink)
I take another look at the history of science and offer some fresh insights into why the history of science is filled with discarded theories. I argue that the history of science is just as we should expect it to be, given the following two facts about science: theories are always only partial representations of the world, and almost inevitably scientists will be led to investigate phenomena that the accepted theory is not fit to account for. Together these facts (...) suggest that most scientific theories are apt to be discarded sometime, superseded by new theories that better serve scientists’ new research interests. Consequently, it is reasonable to expect that many of the theories we currently accept, despite their many impressive successes, will be discarded sometime in the future. But I also argue that discarded theories are not always aptly characterized as a sign of failure or as a sign of some sort of shortcoming with science. Theories are discarded because scientists are making advances in their pursuit of knowledge. Thus, discarded theories are often a sign of the good health of science. Scientists are responding to their changing research interests. (shrink)
The idea of a patient's best interests raises issues in prudential value theory–the study of what makes up an individual's ultimate good or well‐being. While this connection may strike a philosopher as obvious, the literature on the best interests standard reveals almost no engagement of recent work in value theory. There seems to be a growing sentiment among bioethicists that their work is independent of philosophical theorizing. Is this sentiment wrong in the present case? Does value theory (...) make a significant difference in interpreting best interests? In pursuing this question, I begin with a quick sketch of broad kinds of value theories, identifying representatives that are plausible enough to count as contenders. I then explore what each account suggests in neonatal treatment decisions, and decisions for patients in persistent vegetative states. I conclude that while these accounts converge somewhat in their interpretations of best interests, they also have importantly different implications. (shrink)
This paper investigates Joseph Schumpeter’s interesttheory by specifically focusing on the influence of the relatively unknown author Rudolf Stolzmann. Though Schumpeter spoke about Stolzmann in his early works, the influence has so far not been part of a research paper. The aim of this paper is to show that major contents of the interesttheory were developed from a critical review of Stolzmann´s “Soziale Kategorie der Volkswirtschaft”. It can be demonstrated that the definition of entrepreneurial (...) profit and the importance of a bank for interest can already be found in Stolzmann’s first book. This paper claims that Stolzmann played a certain or even a major role for the interesttheory of Schumpeter. However, this does not mean that there are no differences between Schumpeter and Stolzmann in general. (shrink)
I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, 'expensive' is analyzed as meaning 'costs a lot', which in turn is analyzed as meaning 'costs significantly greater than the norm'. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the sorites paradox that is compatible with classical logic and semantics.
The basic concept of Bentham's moral and political philosophy was public utility. He linked it directly with the concept of the universal interest, which comprises a distinctive partnership of the interests of all members of the community. The ultimate end of government and aim of all of morality is ‘the advancement of the universal interest’. This essay articulates the structure of Bentham's notion of universal interest and locates it in his theory of value.
This article evaluates the structural conception of interests developed by Margaret Archer as part of her dualist version of critical realism. It argues that this structural analysis of interests is untenable because, first, Archer’s account of the causal influence of interests on agents is contradictory and, second, Archer fails to offer a defensible account of her claim that interests influence agents by providing reasons for action. These problems are explored in relation to Archer’s theoretical and empirical work. I argue for (...) an alternative account of interests that focuses on agents’ understandings of their interests and problems with these understandings. (shrink)
Saul Kripke pointed out that whether or not an utterance gives rise to a liar-like paradox cannot always be determined by checking just its form or content.1 Whether or not Jones’s utterance of ‘Everything Nixon said is true’ is paradoxical depends in part on what Nixon said. Something similar may be said about the sorites paradox. For example, whether or not the predicate ‘are enough grains of coffee for Smith’s purposes’ gives rise to a sorites paradox depends at least in (...) part on what Smith’s purposes are. If Smith’s purpose is to make some coffee to drink, so that he can wake up and start his day, then we would be inclined to accept, and would ﬁnd it strange to deny the following sorites sentence. (shrink)
This essay considers the role of the ‘all affected interests’ principle in democratic theory, focusing on debates concerning its form, substance and relationship to the resolution of the democratic boundary problem. It begins by defending an ‘all actually affected’ formulation of the principle against Goodin’s ‘incoherence argument’ critique of this formulation, before addressing issues concerning how to specify the choice set appropriate to the principle. Turning to the substance of the principle, the argument rejects Nozick’s dismissal of its intuitive (...) appeal and considers the two arguments advanced in favour of the principle as a criterion of democratic inclusion: the interlinked interests argument and the tracking power argument. It is shown that neither of these arguments can substantiate a view of the principle as a criterion of democratic inclusion, although both ground a constitutional understanding of the principle as specifying the scope of a duty of justification. It is then proposed that the principle can play an important role in a two-stage resolution of the democratic boundary problem in which it addresses the question of who is entitled to inclusion in the ‘pre-political’ demos that determines whether to constitute a polity. The second stage of this resolution requires an answer to the question of who should constitute the ‘political demos’, that is, the demos of a constituted polity and it is argued that a version of the ‘‘all subjected persons’’ principle can appropriately play this role.Keywords: all affected interests; all subjected persons; democracy; boundary problem; demos problem. (shrink)
The subject of my dissertation is "rationality". In this book I undertake a comprehensive, systematic and independent treatment of the problem of rationality. This furthers progress toward a general theory of rationality, one that represents and defends a uniform conception of reason. The structure and general outline are as follows: Part I: General Definition of the Concept; Part II: Rationality in the Theoretical Realm; Part III: Rationality in the Practical Realm (parts II and III are divided respectively into A. (...) Relative Reasons and B. Absolute Reasons); Part IV: Grounds for the Principle of Reason. My aim in this work is to prove that a conception of rationality as justification of our usage of language is more significant than has been classically recognized, without, however, reducing the concept of rationality. After a definition of the term is provided in the first chapter by means of language analysis, the following three questions are dealt with in the subsequent chapters: a) Exhaustion of rationality in relative reasons—i.e., is reasoning exhausted by reference to existing views and goals, or does rationality also exist in a strong sense? The latter would be the case if the views and goals referred to the relative conception must themselves be justified de novo. I argue that such an absolute justification of views and goals cannot be provided. To this end, in the theoretical domain, I discuss a question prominent in the debate over the rationality of worldviews, namely the question of whether the standards of theoretical rationality are merely culturally relative (chapter V.). Here I arrive at the position that standards of theoretical rationality are only transcultural insofar as there are goals which are not themselves culturally-dependent. With regard to practically fundamental goals, the core standards of modern science can be justified. This justification strategy therefore requires that such goals be established. In practical terms, first I address (in Chapter VII) the so-called "final justification" of norms problem. Here I discuss above all the transcendental-pragmatic proposal and the contractualist conception. According to my view, neither succeed in providing a final rational grounding for norms. That grounding pertains instead to the rationale for objectives, and Chapter VIII demonstrates that even a final justification of objectives is impossible. This does not mean, however, that a person's goals cannot be criticized as irrational. But the warrant in this case depends on the rules that govern the genesis of desires being accepted by the subject. b) If substantive rationality does not exist because no absolute grounding for opinions and goals can obtain, then the question of how strong or weak the concept of rationality is acquires further weight. On that basis, relative theoretical and practical rationality is examined in detail. I aim with this analysis of (relative) rationality to apprehend the structural parallelism between rationality in both the practical and the theoretical domain, and therefore to defend a uniform conception of reason or rationality. This is accomplished by identifying a concept that exhibits the same structure in both theoretical and practical domains: the term "rational" is applied to actions and opinions in order to claim, first of all, that they are "well-founded." For example, one must inquire into the precise rational justification for opinions or actions. To determine the individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions required for an opinion or action to be rational, one must first provide a formal characterization of the rationality of those opinions or actions. What is to count as a rational ground can only be explained by formal procedures and results achievable via those procedures. To be more specific, I claim that the process of opinion formation and practical reflection is subject to rational justification based on internalist rules. The rules governing theoretical rationality can have their content transformed in a further move, if one takes the result of the process of rational opinion-formation as the product of an epistemological determination, that is, as a decision about which opinion to hold that is made on the basis of epistemological or prudential goals. Implicit in this position is the controversial idea that one can actually decide to believe something. The rules of practical reason are the rules that guide the rational selection of objectives and actions. The structural parallelism of theoretical and practical rationality consists, therefore, in the fact that both refer to mental processes that are controlled by rules which one freely accepts and follows. In both cases, these rules are to be understood as governing the rational choice of a mental or physical action. c) Therefore, the question of whether rationality—being rational—can in turn be grounded by reasons can be answered in the following way: The rules of rationality can only be justified with reference to a person’s goals, as the best strategy for achieving those goals. If someone does not desire the optimal realization of his goals, there is no other way of arguing directly for rationality. One can only attempt to demonstrate—if the person is open to argument—that it is typically in the person's own best interest to adhere to the rules of rationality. (shrink)
I attempt a reconstruction of Adam Smith's view of human nature as explicated in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith's view of human conduct is neither functionalist nor reductionist, but interactionist. The moral autonomy of the individual, conscience, is neither made a function of public approval nor reduced to self-contained impulses of altruism and egoism. Smith does not see human conduct as a blend of independently defined impulses. Rather, conduct is unified, by the underpinning sentiment of sympathy.
The relationship between libertarianism and state is a contested one. Despite pressing full and strict ownership of one’s person and any justly acquired goods, many libertarians have suggested ways in which a state, albeit limited, can be regarded as just. Peter Vallentyne has proposed that all plausible versions of libertarianism are compatible with what he calls ‘private-law states’. His proposal is underpinned by a particular conception of rights, which brings InterestTheory of rights and Will Theory of (...) rights together. If convincing, Vallentyne’s theory of rights enables libertarians to accommodate a limited but nevertheless coercive state that can act without the full consent of the affected citizen. In this paper, it is argued that Vallentyne’s hybrid theory of rights is implausible from a libertarian perspective as well as fails to align itself with common and deeply held moral intuitions. Hence the conflict between mainstream libertarianism and the state is not solved by Vallentyne’s proposal. (shrink)
Henry Allison's “Incorporation Thesis” has played an important role in recent discussions of Kantian ethics. By focussing on Kant's claim that “a drive [Triebfeder] can determine the will to an action only so far as the individual has incorporated it into his maxim,” Allison has successfully argued against Kant's critics that desire-based non-moral action can be free action. His work has thus opened the door for a wide range of discussions which integrate feeling into moral action more deeply than had (...) previously been considered “Kantian”. (shrink)
Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud provided powerful accounts of systematic interested ignorance. Fifty years ago, Anglo-American philosophies of science stigmatized Marx's and Freud's analyses as models of irrationality. They remain disvalued today, at a time when virtually all other humanities and social science disciplines have returned to extract valuable insights from them. Here the argument is that there are reasons distinctive to philosophy why such theories were especially disvalued then and why they remain so today. However, there are even better (...) reasons today for philosophy to break from this history and find more fruitful ways to engage with systematic interested ignorance. (shrink)
Jason Stanley presents a startling and provocative claim about knowledge: that whether or not someone knows a proposition at a given time is in part determined by his or her practical interests, i.e. by how much is at stake for that person at that time. In defending this thesis, Stanley introduces readers to a number of strategies for resolving philosophical paradox, making the book essential not just for specialists in epistemology but for all philosophers interested in philosophical methodology. Since a (...) number of his strategies appeal to linguistic evidence, it will be of great interest to linguists as well. (shrink)
Over the last few decades, empirical researchers have become increasingly interested in explaining the formation of “basic” aesthetic judgments, i.e. simple judgments of sensory preferability and the pleasure that seems to accompany them. To that end, Reber et al. have recently defended a “processing-fluency” view, which identifies aesthetic pleasure with one’s ability to easily process an object’s perceptual properties. While the processing-fluency theory is certainly an improvement over its competitors, it is currently vulnerable to several serious criticisms. In what (...) follows, I aim to provide a more holistic, explanatorily robust, model of the processing-fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure by incorporating what the view neglects: the crucial role of perceptual disfluency, interest, and the underlying values that drive aesthetic appraisal. (shrink)
It is plausible to hold that ethical obligations are concerned with bringing about the existence of things that have value, where something is of value if and only if it is in the interest of some entity. Here the notion of an interest may be defined as whatever contributes to the well-being of a morally significant entity. I argue that interests are limited to individuals with the capacity for affective response. After briefly distinguishing between various different types of (...) value, I defend this emotocentric theory of interests against objections raised by Paul Taylor and Gary Varner, both of whom grant interests to a larger class of entities. I argue that there are serious problems with attempts to associate interests with mere goaldirectedness or with the mere possession of biological functions. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that all value is rooted in the interests of valuing beings. If something satisfies an interest of a valuing entity by contributing to its well-being in some way, then it has value. Anything that fails to satisfy any interests is entirely lacking in value. I defend this conception of value by showing that the usual arguments directed against this kind of view are lacking of force, and by considering various other theories of value and (...) showing that they suffer from serious problems. Finally, I clarify some important distinctions between intrinsic, extrinsic, inherent, and instrumental value. (shrink)
In this impressive second edition of Theory of Knowledge, Keith Lehrer introduces students to the major traditional and contemporary accounts of knowing. Beginning with the traditional definition of knowledge as justified true belief, Lehrer explores the truth, belief, and justification conditions on the way to a thorough examination of foundation theories of knowledge,the work of Platinga, externalism and naturalized epistemologies, internalism and modern coherence theories, contextualism, and recent reliabilist and causal theories. Lehrer gives all views careful examination and concludes (...) that external factors must be matched by appropriate internal factors to yield knowledge. This match of internal and external factors follows from Lehrer’s new coherence theory of undefeated justification. In addition to doing justice to the living epistemological traditions, the text smoothly integrates several new lines that will interest scholars. Also, a feature of special interest is Lehrer’s concept of a justification game.This second edition of Theory of Knowledge is a thoroughly revised and updated version that contains several completely new chapters. Written by a well-known scholar and contributor to modern epistemology, this text is distinguished by clarity of structure, accessible writing, and an elegant mix of traditional material, contemporary ideas, and well-motivated innovation. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive explanation and survey of the Interest-Will theories of rights debate. It elucidates the traditional understanding of it as a dispute over how best to explain A RIGHT and clarifies the theories’ competing criteria for that concept. The rest of the article then shows why recent developments are either problematic or simply fail to actually advance the debate. First, it is erroneous, as some theorists have done, to frame the entire debate in terms of competing (...) explanations of the direction of ‘directed’ duties. This is because the theories’ respective answers to that issue are themselves dependent upon their respective conceptions of A RIGHT – ones that do not even necessitate the identification of different directions for such duties. Second, all of the new would-be alternative or hybrid theories are shown to merely be versions of the Interesttheory. Third, recent efforts to cabin off the debate to ‘normative’ theorisation (i.e., to morally or politically evaluative accounts) are misguided. (shrink)
The Theory of Event Coding (TEC) is a new framework for understanding interactions between perception and action. We are concerned that the theory is underspecified, showing that it can easily be used to make exactly opposite predictions. Precise specification of the time course of activation and binding is needed to make the theory useful for understanding the perception-action interface.
Examining the situations of African Americans in the U.S.A., Lucius Outlaw's essays illustrate over twenty years of work dedicated to articulating a 'critical theory of society' that would account for issues and limiting-factors affecting African-descended peoples in the U.S. Outlaw envisions a democratic order that is not built upon racist projections of the past, but instead seeks a transformative social theory that would help create a truly democratic social order.
Owing to a genral dissatisfaction with hedonistic theories of value, a number of recent discussions have sought to identify an agent's selfinterest, individual utility, or personal welfare with what the agent most wants to do, all things considered. Two features of these accounts merit special attention for the argument in this paper. First, on such accounts any desire or aversion which persists in the face of complete information is logically relevant to the determination of an agent's self interest. This (...) includes apparently altruistic desires like a desire for another's happiness as well as more narrow and self-regarding desires like a desire to eat a good meal. Second, when the agent finds himself in a situation where he must choose between incompatible desires, his informed preference determines the act which is most in his self-interest. (shrink)
the voluntary actions of such beings cannot be covered by causal laws. Decision theorists, accepting the premise of this argument, appeal instead to noncausal laws predicated on principles of success—oriented action, and use these laws to produce substantive and testable predictions about large—scale human behavior. The primary directive of success-oriented action is maximization of some valuable quantity. Many economists and social scientists use the principles of decision theory to explain social and economic phenomena, while many political philosophers use them (...) to make recommendations on questions of.. (shrink)
Value and reasons for action are often cited by rationalists and moral realists as providing a desire-independent foundation for normativity. Those maintaining instead that normativity is dependent upon motivation often deny that anything called "value" or "reasons" exists. According to the interest-relational theory, something has value relative to some perspective of desire just in case it satisfies those desires, and a consideration is a reason for some action just in case it indicates that something of value will be (...) accomplished by that action. Value judgements therefore describe real properties of objects and actions, but have no normative significance independent of desires. ;It is argued that only the interest-relational theory accounts for the practical significance of value and reasons. Against the Kantian hypothesis of prescriptive rational norms, I attack the alleged instrumental norm or hypothetical imperative, showing that the normative force for taking the means to our ends is explicable in terms of our desire for the end, and not as a command of reason. This analysis also provides a solution to the puzzle concerning the connection between value judgement and motivation. While it is possible to hold value judgements without motivation, the connection is more than accidental. This is because value judgements are usually but not always made from the perspective of desires that actually motivate the speaker. In the normal case judgement entails motivation. But often we conversationally borrow external perspectives of desire, and subsequent judgements do not entail motivation. ;This analysis drives a critique of a common practice as a misuse of normative language. The "absolutist" attempts to use and, as philosopher, analyze normative language in such a way as to justify the imposition of certain interests over others. But these uses and analyses are incoherent---in denying relativity to particular desires they conflict with the actual meaning of these utterances, which is always indexed to some particular set of desires. (shrink)
This work consists of two parts. Part I will be a contribution to a philo- sophical discussion of the nature of causal explanation. It will present my contrastive counterfactual theory of causal explanation and show how it can be used to deal with a number of problems facing theories of causal explanation. Part II is a contribution to a discussion of the na- ture of interest explanation in social studies of science. The aim is to help to resolve (...) some controversies concerning interest explanation by explicating the concept of interest and its explanatory uses by using the account of explanation developed in Part I. (shrink)