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Displaying: 61-70 of 728 documents

61. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Cora Diamond, Murdoch the Explorer
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One of Iris Murdoch’s most characteristic philosophical ideas is that any way of understanding what moral philosophy is and how it may be practised will be shaped by deep-going conceptual attitudes, of which moral philosophers themselves may be unaware. In her own philosophical writings she tried to bring out the role played by these attitudes, and to unsettle accepted ideas about the subject. I examine some of the elements in her thought which open up different ways of understanding the subject, and I discuss the relevance of these ideas to contemporary moral philosophy.
62. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Joshua Gert, Fitting-Attitudes, Secondary Qualities, and Values
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Response-dispositional accounts of value defend a biconditional in which the possession of an evaluative property is said to covary with the disposition to cause a certain response. In contrast, a fitting-attitude account of the same property would claim that it is such as to merit or make fitting that same response. This paper argues that even for secondary qualities, response-dispositional accounts are inadequate; we need to import a normative notion such as appropriateness even into accounts of such descriptive properties as redness. A preliminary conclusion is that the normativity that appears in fitting-attitude accounts of evaluative properties need not have anything to do with the evaluative nature of those properties. It may appear there because evaluative properties—or at least thosefor which fitting-attitude accounts are plausible—really are so much like secondary qualities that it might well be appropriate to think of them as a subclass of secondary qualities. In the second half of the paper I discuss the views of three of the philosophers who have been most influential in discussions of response-featuring accounts of evaluative notions and who explicitly distinguish response-dispositional accounts of value from fittingattitude accounts: John McDowell, Simon Blackburn, and Crispin Wright. I highlight some of the theoretical temptations that can be associated with the assumption that the response-dispositional/fitting-attitude distinction parallels the secondary quality/evaluative property distinction.
63. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
David Levy, Moral Authority and Wrongdoing
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I discuss a remark made by Gitta Sereny about Treblinka Kommandant Franz Stangl that questions the role and scope of moral authority, viz. “I don’t know now at which point one human being can make the moral decision for another that he should have the courage to risk death.” I provide an illustrative elaboration from her remark of a role for moral authority and a limit on its scope. First, I use the idea of supererogation to introduce the idea and role of moral authority. Second,I argue that there is a parallel understanding of Sereny’s remark that shows moral authority operative in a similar role in Stangl’s case. Third, I make four refinements to what she has expressed about Stangl, each of which further illuminates the nature of moral authority. Finally, I address objections and consider the implications of my account.
64. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Judith Lichtenberg, Oughts and Cans: Badness, Wrongness, and the Limits of Ethical Theory
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Many philosophers argue that reasonably well-off people have very demanding moral obligations to assist those living in dire poverty. I explore the relevance of demandingness to determining moral obligation, challenging the view that “morality demands what it demands” and that if we cannot live up to its demands that’s our problem, not morality’s. I argue that not only for practical reasons but also for moral-theoretical ones, the language of duty, obligation, and requirement may not be well-suited to express the nature of our responsibilities in these matters. But it is nevertheless morally imperative to reduce global poverty and inequality. Distinguishing between the Ought of states of affairs and the Ought of moral obligation, I defend an approach that looks to institutions to alter the environment within which people make choices and that employs our understanding of human psychology to encourage changes in behavior.
65. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Sabina Lovibond, Impartial Respect and Natural Interest
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66. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Nigel Pleasants, Moral Argument Is Not Enough: The Persistence of Slavery and the Emergence of Abolition
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Slavery seems to us to be a paradigm of a morally wrong institutionalized practice. And yet for most of its millennia-long historical existence it was typically accepted as a natural, necessary, and inevitable feature of the social world. This widespread normative consensus was only challenged toward the end of the eighteenth century. Then, within a hundred years of the emergence of radical moral criticism of slavery, the existing practices had been dismantled and the institution itself “abolished.” How do we explain such a “profound transformation in moral perception” (Davis 1975)? It may seem obvious that the moral agency and character of the leaders and activists of the abolition movement, their supporters, and their governmental representatives were the primary motors of change.That is to say, the various actors involved came to see, recognize, or acknowledge the true (morally evil) nature of slavery and were thereby motivated to act against it. This “commonsense,” “moral explanation” is endorsed by most of the philosophers who have reflected on the morality of slavery. But despite the intuitiveness of thinking that it was the moral agency of the actors, pitted against the evil and injustice of slavery, that brought about the latter’s downfall, I will endeavor to show that such thinking is inadequate both to the facts and to the explanatory desiderata. I contend that it was not ignor ance of the supposedly inherent moral status of slavery that maintained people’s complicity with it, but practical barriers to them conceiving it dispensable.
67. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Duncan Richter, Ethics and Private Language
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There are intriguing hints in the works of Stanley Cavell and Stephen Mulhall of a possible connection between ethics and Wittgenstein’s remarks on private language, which are concerned with expressions of Empfindungen: feelings or sensations. The point of this paper is to make the case explicitly for seeing such a connection. What the point of that is I will address at the end of the paper. If Mulhall and Cavell both know their Wittgenstein and choose their words carefully, which I will take as given, then the (to me) irresistible inference is that they see a connection between Wittgenstein’s thoughts on ethics and his thoughts on private language. Yet this connection has not, as far as I know, been made explicit. Can it be? Should it be? These are my questions. Even if no one ever intended a connection between the “Lecture on Ethics” and the remarks on private language, those remarks do at least touch on issues raised in the lecture, and it is worth thinking about what the author of those remarks would say about the lecture. So in this paper I summarize the “Lecture on Ethics” (in part I), look at the private language remarks themselves (in part II), and then apply some ideas from these remarks to the “Lecture on Ethics” in part III. My conclusion will be that Wittgenstein’s later remarks are largely consistent with his earlier ones, the main difference being that some of what he first called nonsense he later called secondary meaning. One result of this change is that attempts to express the feelings that Wittgenstein regards as fundamental to ethics, aesthetics, and religion are first treated as doomed to result in nonsense but later as risky. Like cries of pain, they might or might not find a sympathetic audience.
68. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 38 > Issue: 1
Kieran Setiya, Does Moral Theory Corrupt Youth?
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I argue that the answer is yes. The epistemic assumptions of moral theory deprive us of resources needed to resist the challenge of moral disagreement, which its practice at the same time makes vivid. The paper ends by sketching a kind of epistemology that can respond to disagreement without skepticism: one in which the fundamental standards of justification for moral belief are biased toward the truth.
69. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 2
Alison M. Jaggar, Introduction: The Philosophical Challenges of Global Gender Justice
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70. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 2
Vandana Shiva, Women and the Gendered Politics of Food
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From seed to table, the food chain is gendered. When seeds and food are in women’s hands, seeds reproduce and multiply freely, food is shared freely and respected. However, women’s seed and food economy has been discounted as “productive work.” Women’s seed and food knowledge has been discounted as knowledge. Globalization has led to the transfer of seed and food from women’s hands to corporate hands. Seed is now patented and genetically engineered. It is treated as the creation and “property” of corporations like Monsanto. Renewable seed becomes nonrenewable. Sharing and saving seed becomes a crime. Diversity, nourished by centuries of women’s breeding, disappears, and with it the culture and natural evolution that is embodied in the diversity is lost forever. Food, too, is transformed in corporate hands. It is no longer our nourishment; it becomes a commodity. And as a commodity it can be manipulated and monopolized. If food grain makes more money as cattle feed than it does as food for human consumption, it becomes cattle feed. If food grain converted to biofuel to run automobiles is more profitable, it becomes ethanol and biodiesel.