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181. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Matthew A. Lavery Vox Populi?: Morality, Politics, and The New York Times’s Ethicist
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In examining Randy Cohen, an ethical advice giver for The New York Times Magazine, this article traces out special concerns of “applied philosophers” including: dissemination of ideas through a media, disparity of public understanding of philosophical (particularly ethical) issues and the contributions to these issues by specific people, and, of course, money. It skips the question of whether or not what Cohen does is philosophy in favor of examining how whatever he does is like the philosophy that philosophers often claim to be doing. Cohen, then, is a doppelganger for philosophers, particularly those working in applied philosophy, that needs to be considered. The way he wades through a big-business format to discuss individual concerns may provide a model (even if it is of what not to do) for philosophers looking to actually affect change with their ethical pronouncements.
182. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Richard Greene Does the Non-Identity Problem Block a Class of Arguments Against Cloning?
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One class of argument against cloning human beings in the contemporary literature focuses on the bad consequences that will befall the clone or “later-twin.” In this paper I consider whether this line of argumentation can be blocked by invoking Parfit’s non-identity problem. I canvass two general strategies for solving the non-identity problem: a consequentialist strategy and a non-consequentialist, rights based strategy. I argue that while each general strategy offers a plausible solution to the non-identity problem as applied to the cases most frequently discussed in the non-identity problem literature, neither provides a reason for puttingaside the non-identity problem when applied to cloning. I conclude (roughly) that the non-identity problem does serve to block this class of argument against cloning.
183. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Bindu Madhok, Selva J. Raj Lower Income Hindu Women’s Attitude Towards Abortion: A Case Study in Urban India
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After a brief discussion of Hindu views on abortion as reflected in classical Hindu philosophical and religious texts, this article examines, from an interdisciplinary perspective, current social attitudes towards abortion among lower-income Hindu women in Calcutta and attempts to identify the reasons for the striking disparity between traditional and modern Hindu views. Does Hindu dharma have the regulatory power it wielded in the past? What accounts for the changing face of mores in urban centers like Calcutta? These and related issues are the focus of this essay.
184. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Vittorio Bufacchi Empirical Philosophy: Theory and Practice
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This article takes the first steps towards a new approach in applied philosophy, in the hope to encourage an idea of philosophy as a more empirical subject. Part I will provide an overview of the nature and scope of applied philosophy, followed in Part II by a critical evaluation of the “top-down” methodology still popular with many applied philosophers. Part III will then describe the basic axioms of “empirical philosophy,” explaining how the empirical approach differs from the top-down approach. Part IV will provide a reply to the standard criticism regarding the proposed marriage between empirical research and philosophy. Part V will test the validity of “empirical philosophy” on practical terms.
185. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Stephen Kershnar Respect for Persons and the Harsh Punishment of Criminals
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In this paper, I explore whether harsh treatment fails to respect the criminal as a person. I focus on the most extreme treatment because if such treatment can satisfy the duty to respect a criminal as a person then less extreme cases (e.g., incarceration, fines, shaming practices) can also do so. I begin by filling out the notion of a duty to respect a person. Here I set out an account of autonomy and then show that it grounds the duty to respect a person. Next, I use this account of the duty to lay out a three-part test for whether harsh treatment respects a criminal as a person. I then apply this test and conclude that it does where the treatment does not infringe on the criminal’s rights, exploit him, or express contempt for him.
186. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Gordon Steinhoff Alternatives Evaluation Under NEPA: What Constitutes a “Reasonable” Alternative?
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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared whenever a proposed federal project will significantly harm the environment. The EIS must include an analysis of the environmental impacts of the project and an evaluation of alternatives. Federal regulations implementing NEPA mandate that an EIS include an evaluation of “reasonable” alternatives. Unfortunately, the regulations do not specify what constitutes a “reasonable” alternative. The courts have attempted for more than thirty years to come to grips with the problem of what makes an alternative “reasonable.” In this paper, I discuss court decisions that have significantly influenced our understanding. I offer my own interpretation, relying on a distinction between the “essential” purposes of a project and the non-essential, merely desirable, purposes. An alternative that satisfies the essential purposes of a project is reasonable and must be given an in-depth evaluation in the EIS. If adopted, my interpretation would enable NEPA to be more effective in promoting environmental values in the actions of federal agencies.
187. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Susan Feldman Should Threatened Languages Be Conserved?
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In this paper I examine the justification of proposals to conserve threatened languages, those in danger of dying out from the lack of primary speakers. These proposals presuppose that there is value in the continued existence of languages, and I explore the different kinds of value involved: instrumental, aesthetic, subjective, and cognitive, the last involving the ability of each language to express distinctive thoughts. The attempt to retain the cognitive value of a language underlies proposals to conserve a pool of primary speakers of threatened languages. Analyzing cognitive value in terms of Rolston’s systemic value flags a dual problem for conservation proposals: attempts to conserve the cognitive value of a language may be futile and attempts to defeat the factors creating the futility are morally problematic. The other values of language may still justify morally permissible projects to conserve or preserve threatened languages.
188. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
James P. Sterba The Michigan Cases and Furthering the Justification for Affirmative Action
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In this paper, I endorse the decision of the Supreme Court of the U.S. in Bollinger v. Grutter (2003). I argue that the educational benefits of diversity are an important enough state interest to justify the use of racial preferences and that, especially due to the absence of race-neutral alternatives, this use of racial preferences is narrowly tailored to that state interest. However, I also indicate that I am willing to give up my support for diversity affirmative action in the U.S. for a $25 billion a year education program to put in place a quality educational system K through 12 for every child in the country. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any critics of affirmative action who are also willing to support such a program.
189. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Terence J. Pell The Nature of Claims About Race and the Debate Over Racial Preferences
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In this paper, I argue that assertions about the value of diversity rely on contradictory and incommensurable claims. As a result, institutions like the Supreme Court find it impossible to articulate an impartial standard for the appropriate use of race in college admissions. I argue that in the absence of such a standard, institutions inevitably fall back on engineering proportional racial outcomes, a method of college admissions that disproportionately harms minority students.
190. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Terence J. Pell Comments on Sterba’s “The Michigan Cases and Furthering the Justification of Affirmative Action”
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In my comments on Prof. Sterba’s paper, I argue that evidence about the educational value of racial preferences reveals not that these policies produce good educational outcomes, but that schools use racial preferences regardless of whether they produce desirable outcomes. I further argue that in the absence of objective evidence about the value of racial preferences, proponents of these policies tend to rely on personal anecdotes. Often, these anecdotes reveal complex institutional and personal motives having little to do with the objective value of racial diversity.
191. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
James P. Sterba Comments on Pell’s “The Nature of Claims About Race and the Debate Over Racial Preferences”
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In my comments on Mr. Pell’s paper, I consider the premises of his argument against diversity affirmative action showing how these premises can be either reasonably rejected or reformulated so that what remains from his argument is a set of premises that supports, or at least is consistent with, a defense of diversity affirmative action.
192. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Asher Seidel Facing Immortality
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This study is primarily a call to philosophers to attend the concerns raised by the increasing possibility of indefinitely extended human life. While these concerns are largely moral and socio-political, questions arising from this possibility are seen to involve other philosophical areas, including epistemology.Starting with the age-old desire for extended, enjoyable life, possible strategies for realizing such life are considered. Such realization is shown to conflict with the desire for children. Various reasons for choice between the alternatives of indefinitely extended life and what is currently understood to be a normal life, including the possibility of offspring, are examined. Competing social visions are sketched for the purpose of resolving this dilemma. It is argued that humanity’s likely choice from among the competing social sketches favors the decision for extended life against that for limited lifespan with the possibility of children. Assuming that the extended life will be a life of learning leads to epistemological considerations regarding what is to be learned.
193. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Janet McCracken Falsely, Sanely, Shallowly: Reflections on the Special Character of Grief
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Our reluctance to demystify grief is a sign of the distinctive obligation and discomfort that people feel towards those who have died. These feelings, however, are instructive about the nature of grief. As a vehicle of a living person’s relation to the dead, grief is mysterious—and we are rightly reluctant to take that mystery away. But grief is not to be avoided by philosophy on that account. I defend a less Romantic view of grief, in which a grieving person’s experience of “normal” grief: 1) is felt to require an objectively recognized loss; 2) is felt to be dedicated to that lost object; 3) seems to most people to be something that she ought to feel; and 4) probably ought not to be medicalized, nor consequently medicated. This view of grief affords an understanding and appreciation of this rather special and important emotion without reducing its mystery.
194. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
William Patterson To Fight or Not to Fight?: The Ethics of Military Desertion
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Many controversial issues have come under discussion regarding the recent war in Iraq. The justifications given for the war itself, the way the war was prosecuted, and the handling of the post-war situation have all been hotly contested matters. This paper focuses on an aspect of the war that has not drawn much attention—the decisions made by members of the Iraqi military to either fight or not to fight. From the very beginning of hostilities the United States made concerted efforts, through such methods as e-mails and leaflets dropped from aircraft, to encourage the desertion of Iraqi military personnel. Many Iraqi soldiers followed this advice and surrendered to U.S. forces at the first opportunity; others continue to fight to this day. Were the soldiers that deserted the military or surrendered without a fight morally justified in doing so? This article attempts to answer that question through an examination of such related issues as patriotism, political and moral duties, obligations arising from oaths and promises, and political legitimacy. Though this analysis does not lead to the development of iron-clad rules that definitively resolve the moral issues underlying military desertion, it can help us to get a clearer understanding of these issues and to develop guidelines by which to judge the morality of specific instances of desertion.
195. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
An Ravelingien, André Krom Earning Points for Moral Behavior: Organ Allocation Based on Reciprocity
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Anticipating the reevaluation of the Dutch organ procurement system, in late 2003 the Rathenau Institute published a study entitled ‘Gift or Contribution?’ In this study, the author, Govert den Hartogh, carries out a thorough moral analysis of the problem of organ shortage and fair allocation of organs. He suggests there should be a change in mentality whereby organ donation is no longer viewed in terms of charity and the volunteer spirit, but rather in terms of duty and reciprocity. The procurement and allocation of donor organs should be seen as a system of mutually assured help. Fair allocation would imply to give priority to those who recognize and comply with their duty: the registered donors. The idea of viewing organ donation as an undertaking involving mutual benefit rather than as a matter of charity, however, is not new. Notwithstanding the fact that reference to charity and altruism is not required in order for the organ donation to be of moral significance, we will argue against the reciprocity-based scenario. Steering organ allocation towards those who are themselves willing to donate organs is both an ineffective and morally questionable means of attempting to counter the organ shortage.
196. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
A. T. Anchustegui Biocentric Ethics and Animal Prosperity
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Singer’s utilitarian and Regan’s deontological views must be rejected because: (1) they rely on criteria for moral standing that can only be known a priori and (2) if these criteria were successful, they’d be too restrictive. I hold that while mental properties may be sufficient for moral standing, they are not necessary. (3) Their criteria of moral standing do not unambiguously abrogate needless harm to animals. I defend a theory of biocentric individualism that upholds the principle of species egalitarianism while at the same time recognizing that in certain cases, human needs must outweigh the needs of non-humans. On this view, moral consideration is not conferred only on beings that have human-like mental properties. Finally, it offers an unambiguous recommendation for the abolition of harmful animal experimentation, factory farming, and killing animals for sport.
197. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Miron Mushkat, Roda Mushkat The Political Economy of Recasting the Constitutional Debate in Hong Kong
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People obtain value, or gain utility, from procedures rather than merely from outcomes. Academic researchers are slowly and selectively coming to terms with this fact, but it is neither sufficiently nor widely appreciated by actors in Hong Kong’s political arena, whether at the center or on the periphery. The territory is grappling with the issue of democratic reform—both its pace and scope—but the heated exchanges between the proponents and the opponents of representative government are confined to the outcome utility of the various constitutional proposals. It is essential to incorporate the procedural element into this incomplete picture.
198. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Wendy Wyatt Barger True Confessions of The New York Times: Making Moral Meaning from the Discourse of Flawed Iraq Coverage
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On the morning of May 26, 2004, New York Times readers found a note from the paper’s editors on Page A10. The headline read “From the Editors—The Times and Iraq,” and the 1,000-word article that followed served as a disclosure that the Times had failed in its duty of both aggressive information gathering and careful reporting with a critical eye. Response to the note was fast and widespread as newspeople across the country commented on the paper’s public admission of its flawed coverage. The editors’ note, together with the responses it generated, provides a glimpse into the state of American journalism and the way those enmeshed in it understand and expect the practice to operate. Beyond serving a descriptive purpose, however, the texts can be used to start a discourse in the normative realm, to offer suggestions for how our understanding of journalism perhaps ought to change to better reflect the reality of what is truly a human institution. This paper provides both a descriptive and normative analysis of themes that emerge from the case, and it prompts both journalists and citizens to reflect on the practice and then continue moving forward through a landscape in constant flux.
199. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Harry van der Linden, Josh Clark Economic Migration and Justice
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Our main thesis is that the U.S. has a duty of justice to adopt an open-border policy with regard to economic migrants because it is significantly responsible for the unjust social and economic conditions that bring such migrants to its borders. From this perspective, President Bush’s recent “guest worker” proposal is morally objectionable because it is designed more to serve U.S. business interests than the interests of the migrants. We address three objections to opening borders: it will worsen the economic condition especially of low-skilled native workers; it will harm developing countries by increasing the so-called “brain drain”; and it is preferable to discharge our responsibility to the global poor by increasing development assistance instead of adopting an open-border policy.
200. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Jane Duran Canyons, Gulches, and Rocks: The Concept of Preservation
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An argument is made for the special preservationist value of rock formations and other geological features, independent of their biotic status or aesthetic appeal. The work of Passmore, Hay and other contemporary ecological thinkers is cited.