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Displaying: 1-11 of 11 documents

symposium on imaginary cases
1. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Michael Davis Imaginary Cases in Ethics: A Critique
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By “case,” I mean a proxy for some state of affairs, event, sequence of events, or other fact. A case may be as short as a phrase (“a promise to your dying grandfather”) or (in principle, at least) longer than War and Peace. A case may consist of words (as in the typical philosophical example) or have a more dramatic form, such as a movie, stage performance, or computer simulation. Imaginary cases plainly have an important role in contemporary ethics, especially in applied or practical ethics. This paper is a systematic critique of imaginary cases in ethics (what Kant would have called a “prolegomenon” to their use). There are two main parts. The first explains what it is to imagine a case and what limits there are to what can be imagined. The limits of imagination are, in general, determined by the purpose to which the case is to be put. The second part distinguishes nine uses of imaginary cases: rhetorical; probative (subdivided into counterexample, proof of possibility, and pattern-proving); and heuristic (subdivided into illustrative, experiment in theory, insight-sharpening, commitment-mapping, and exploring reasoning process). Some of these uses are (more or less) unobjectionable (whether the particular case succeeds or fails in its objective) but some require special care or outright avoidance. I give examples of how philosophers and other ethicists would be better off if they were more cautious in their use of imaginary cases (including some classic examples, such as Nozick’s book thruster and Thompson’s famous violinist). This paper is especially concerned with the use of imaginary cases in contemporary defenses of torture.
2. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Matthew C. Altman On the Uses and Disadvantages of the Ticking Bomb Case for Life
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The ticking bomb case is meant to challenge absolute prohibitions on the use of torture. In “Imaginary Cases,” Michael Davis attempts to show that such cases can only be legitimately employed within certain limited parameters. In this paper, I explain how the ticking bomb case, suitably revised, does not run afoul of Davis’s prohibition on impossible content. The fact that torture could elicit the necessary information is enough; we need not stipulate a guaranteed result. I also defend philosophers’ use of the case to identify our moral intuitions and to evaluate our theoretical assumptions. Although our responses to actual events are better at mapping our actual commitments, imaginary events can also reveal our pre-theoretic intuitions. Ultimately, however, I reject the use of the ticking bomb case on practical grounds, because the imaginary case distorts our moral reasoning in actual cases and leads to our acceptance of torture more generally.
3. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Joseph Spino Defusing Dangers of Imaginary Cases
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Some imaginary cases lead us to surprising conclusions. Unfortunately, there exists the danger of being so distracted by these conclusions that the imaginary cases themselves escape critical examination. Using the now famous ticking time-bomb scenario as an example, I propose a simple methodology to help us better understand what role a given imaginary case should be playing in ethical discourse. In particular, I hope to show why the ticking time bomb scenario fails to have any probative value as a counter-example to anti-torture policies. Despite this, I argue that there is still an important role for cases like the ticking time-bomb scenario, as they can motivate study about some of our intuitive moral commitments. This in turn may lead us to a better understanding of what moves us to surprising ethical evaluations in the first place.
4. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Makoto Suzuki Comments on Michael Davis’s “Imaginary Cases in Ethics: A Critique”
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This paper concerns Davis’s objections against the probative uses of imaginary cases. His policy of getting more cautious in their uses is commendable. However, Davis’s arguments and proposals for limiting their uses might be based on controversial assumptions, go too far, and undervalue the reasons why thought experiments in ethics are constructed as they are. Even merely metaphysically possible cases can be test cases for or against ethical principles. Our ethical judgments about unrealistic cases can be credible, because, depending on the cases, we can know what would happen even under unrealistic assumptions. And non-actual and imagined cases are often indispensable for several purposes: examining the ethical relevance of natural properties, testing ethical principles, choosing between rival theories, and inductive uses (including generalization from a merely possible case to an actual problem at hand). It is hard to do away with the cases that are physically, biologically, and/or historically unrealistic.
symposium on integrity and trust of women
5. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Sylvia Burrow Protecting One’s Commitments: Integrity and Self-Defense
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Living in a culture of violence against women leads women to employ any number of avoidance and defensive strategies on a daily basis. Such strategies may be self protective but do little to counter women’s fear of violence. A pervasive fear of violence comes with a cost to integrity not addressed in moral philosophy. Restricting choice and action to avoid possibility of harm compromises the ability to stand for one’s commitments before others. If Calhoun is right that integrity is a matter of standing for one’s commitments then fear for safety undermines integrity. This paper extends Calhoun’s view through arguing that integrity further requires resiliency to protect one’s commitments. My account shows that self-defense training is a key source of this resiliency because it cultivates self-confidence. The practical point is that self-defense training directly counters fear and other passive responses to violence that undermine integrity. The theoretical significance is that violence against women is a social condition threatening integrity. Hence, integrity requires self-protection for more socially minded reasons than moral theorists have previously recognized.
6. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Lisa Campo-Engelstein Competing Social Norms: Why Women Are Responsible For, But Not Trusted with, Contraception
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A necessary component to reproductive autonomy is being trusted to make reproductive decisions. In the case of contraception, however, women are considered both trustworthy and untrustworthy. Women are held responsible for contraception and because responsibility usually stems from trust, it appears that women are trusted with contraception. Yet myriad laws and forms of surveillance and normalization surrounding contraception make women seem untrustworthy. Relying on Amy Mullin’s conception of trust that we trust those who we assume believe in the same social norms we do, I argue that this tension results from two competing social norms. One norm governing contraception is that people should be self-sacrificing, a norm with which most women align due to traditional gender roles. However, there is a norm that women are irrational in general as well as in contraceptive matters and consequently should not be trusted to use contraception. In order to combat both these norms, I make concrete recommendations for increasing knowledge of contraception, normalizing its use, and trusting both women and men with it.
7. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Stephen Kershnar The Morality of Faking Orgasms: Deception in a Dishonest World
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In this essay, I argue that orgasm-faking is permissible. My essay consists of three parts. First, I provide a background sketch of the psychology of orgasm-faking. Second, I argue that it is permissible. Third, I consider other arguments that might be made for the permissibility of faking it.
8. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Patrick Clipsham Reasons and Refusals: The Relevance of Moral Distress
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Health-care professionals sometimes appeal to their own consciences in order to justify their exemption from professional duties. I argue that we can only understand the content of a conscientious refusal as either a claim about the psychological dispositions of the refusing professional or as a purely normative claim about the status of the action that is the object of the refusal. If we adopt the former view, we would still need to adjudicate these refusals in terms of the acceptability of the moral views that ground them. If the latter, then we effectively abandon the conception of conscientious refusals that is most widely discussed in the philosophical literature. Whichever option we choose, we must conclude that there is no reason to allow for traditionally understood conscientious refusals by health-care professionals.
9. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Bradley Wilson Justice With Mercy: An Arugment against Capital Punishment
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Crimes such as the mass murder recently committed in Norway provoke the strongest calls for the death penalty. Among ethicists, the morality of capital punishment typically is discussed in terms of whether or not capital punishment can be morally justified, i.e., the question is whether or not capital punishment is ever permissible. However, neither the morality nor immorality of capital punishment has been decisively demonstrated. My argument assumes that capital punishment is permissible in at least some circumstances. I argue that, even if we think that capital punishment is (sometimes) morally permissible, if we take into account the moral value of mercy, we can see that rejecting capital punishment as a form of punishment is preferable to using it. My argument takes the following form:1. Capital punishment is not morally required in any case.2. Mercy is a morally valuable trait; actions that demonstrate mercy have more moral worth than those that do not, ceteris paribus. Thus, a moral viewpoint that incorporates mercy is preferable to one that does not.3. Not executing those who have committed capital crimes (under some conditions) demonstrates mercy.4. Just punishment of capital crimes is compatible with showing mercy.5. Thus, not executing those who have committed capital crimes (under some conditions) is morally preferable to executing them. I conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of my argument.
10. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Jane Duran Reintroduction of Species: Benefits and Harms
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The questions surrounding the reintroduction of species, both avian and mammal, to areas in which they were originally found are examined with citation to the literature involving actual attempts at reintroduction, and lines of argument brought to bear on the discussion by ethicists and ecologists. It is concluded that the dangers surrounding most reintroductions are, if anything, understated, but that deep ecology or preservationist views still support such efforts, if undertaken in sound ways.
11. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
About the Contributors
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