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81. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Anthony P. Roark Retribution, the Death Penalty, and the Limits of Human Judgment
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So serious a matter is capital punishment that we must consider very carefully any claim regarding its justification. Brian Calvert has offered a new version of the “argument from arbitrariness,” according to which a retributivist cannot consistently hold that some, but not all, first-degree murderers may justifiably receive the death penalty, when it is conceived to be a unique form of punishment. At the heart of this argument is the line-drawing problem, and I am inclined to think that it is a genuine challenge for the retributivist. I respond on behalf of the retributivist by formulating a line-drawing method that relies on the distinction between clearly deserving and not clearly deserving and is justified by a version of the lex talionis modified with an epistemic constraint.
82. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Stephen Kershnar Objections to the Systematic Imposition of Punitive Torture
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A particular amount of punishment is justified if and only if that amount of punishment is deserved and the desert claim is not overridden. In the case of some multiple murderers or people who perform serious violent acts in addition to murder, the deserved punishment must involve torture. I argue that this legitimate desert claim is not overridden by objections based on notions of brutality and inhumanity, the Kantian concern that persons be treated as ends, the intuitive distaste that many persons have for torture, the negative consequences of institutionalized torture, the concern for bias in the imposition of punishment, and the need for accuracy in measuring harms.
83. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Thomas May Bioethics in a Liberal Society: Political, Not Moral
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This paper argues for the importance of the political context of a society for bioethics. In particular, I argue that in a liberal constitutional society, such as the one we find ourselves in, no particular moral perspective is granted a privileged position. Rather, individuals are allowed to live their lives according to values they adopt for themselves, and the rights granted to protect this ability “trump” social consensus, and place boundaries on the social application of personal moral beliefs and values.
84. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Jane Duran The Moral Status of the Joshua Tree
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The notion that plants, as well as animals, have a moral status is examined both in general, and with respect to the status of particularly rare plants that may be deemed to be lacking in general instrumentality, such as the Joshua tree. The work of Passmore, Singer and Santos is adduced, and several lines of argument revolving around preservation, sentiency and attractiveness to humans are constructed.
85. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Lisa Hill Homo Economicus, ‘Different Voices,’ and the Liberal Psyche
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This paper extends the sensibilities of the Gilligan-Kohlberg debate into classical political economy and makes links with modern psychotherapeutics and the psychological development of individuals. The model of moral maturity represented in contemporary psychological theories is posited as the direct descendant, not only of Immanuel Kant, as is generally argued, but also of the universal, homogenous agent of classical economics; the ‘rational economic man’ representedin the writings of Adam Smith and J. S. Mill. Both thinkers lent their support to the creation of an order which produces (masculine) actors who are ’rational’ self-governing, separative, competitive, self-asserting, self-interested, acquisitive, pecuniary and driven to success by a desire for the social recognition afforded by consumerism; the same order which typically designates women moral failures and which renders them largely invisible. Liberalism generates conditions which enable it to sustain and reproduce itself at the psychic level. The assumption of the market as the paradigmatic social interaction and its status as the analytical and moral starting point in liberal capitalism infects the putatively private domain of ‘self-governance’ and contemporary psychotherapeutics; the development and management of the self in contemporary culture is a direct reflection of the imperatives and assumptions of market society. The separative self is the ‘healthy’ self, hence the parallel emphasis in modern therapy on ‘individuation’ as the highest level of psychological evolvement. Gilligan’s ‘care ethic’ is approached with some scepticism, nevertheless, her critique of Kohlberg guides us towards a more comprehensive critique of the ‘pneumatic’ and political assumptions of liberalism.
86. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Camillo C. Bica A Therapeutic Application of Philosophy: The Moral Casualties of War: Understanding the Experience
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In this essay I will discuss the therapeutic application of philosophy in treating what I term “the moral casualties of war.” In doing so, I will develop an etiology of moral injury and focus upon the philosophical reasoning and insights that may be applied in an individual or group setting to foster an understanding of the warexperience as the first treatment step in a long and complex journey to healing.
87. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
A. T. Nuyen Lying and Deceiving Moral Choice in Public and Private Life
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Suppose that there are good or morally defensible reasons for not responding truthfully to a question or request for information. Is a lie or a deception better as a means to avoid telling the truth? There are many situations in public and private life in which the answer to this question would serve as a useful moral guide, for instance, clinical situations involving dying patients, educational situations involving young children and personal situations involving close friends. Intuitively, we feel that there is a moral asymmetry in favor of deceiving over lying. However, doubts have been cast on such intuition. The aim of this paper is to bolster this intuition. It will be argued that the claim of moral asymmetry in favor of deception can be supported on a consideration of the different degrees of expectation involved in communicative ethics. Two other objections to the claim of asymmetry will also be considered.
88. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Phil Cox Codes of Medical Ethics and the Exportation of Less-Than-Standard Care
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Recently a number of AIDS/AZT research studies, carried out by U.S. universities, have come under intense ethical scrutiny. In these studies, control groups of HIV-positive pregnant women were being given a placebo rather than AZT. Such research protocols would be illegal if practiced in the U.S. I examine a number of lamentable ethical lapses in the studies, and conclude that at least some of these ethical problems are traceable to a troubling contradiction between differing international codes of ethics. In a word, some international codes mandate that all research subjects (including control groups) receive the best standard of care available in the country sponsoring the research, while others suggest that providing only a “Iocal” standard of care is ethically appropriate. I argue that these two ethical mandates cannot both be satisfied, and that host country populations will remain subject to exploitation unless this contradiction is resolved.
89. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Jon Mills Ethical Considerations and Training Recommendations for Philosophical Counseling
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Philosophical counseling is a diverse and burgeoning type of mental health service delivery. Despite competing approaches to theory and practice, the field has largely strayed from an ethical critique of its methodology and counselor training requirements. This article outlines several ethical considerations and training recommendations that are proposed to bolster the quality and effectiveness of philosophical practice. As philosophical counseling gains increasing recognition in North America, recently established national organizations in philosophical practice may profit from revisiting their interim codes for professional conduct Proposed training suggestions for counselor preparation may further assist institutions and board-regulated agencies in establishing competent and acceptable standards of client care.
90. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Verna V. Gehring The American State Lottery: Sale or Swindle?
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Despite worries about the fairness of lotteries or the sources of the human psyche’s strong attraction to them, Americans have made lotteries a part of their civic lives. The popularity of gaming does not, however, gainsay the unease many Americans feel about state sponsorship of lotteries. The debates that surrounded the introduction of lotteries remain to this day, but the arguments are tired and the camps deadlocked. One camp argues that a lottery is simply a properly randomized drawing that determines who among a freely chosen group of participants shall be awarded all or some of the monetary contributions of the group. These proponents suggest that the randomness of the drawing and the autonomy of the participants render the lottery fair and sponsorship by the state unobjectionable. Opponents of state-supported gambling argue, by contrast, that states market lotteries by making inappropriate emotional appeals and by supplying information of dubious veracity. Consequently, so this group argues, lotteries must be judged as unfair gaming devices and state support viewed as improper. I shall show that both camps have fundamentally misunderstood the problem. Evaluating whether state lotteries are sales or swindles relies neither on an analysis of subjective attitudes nor on an examination of purely procedural aspects of play. Correct analysis depends on a determination of what lotteries are. That is, there is a difference between claiming what a lottery does and what it claims to be, between how it works and what it is. If a lottery is claimed to be something that it is not, then regardless of what one gets for one’s money, one has been swindled. I will show that performing an ontological examination of the state-supported lottery reveals it to be a swindle. I conclude by suggesting that some of the confusion regarding the legitimacy of the state-sponsored lottery stems from misunderstandings of several tenets of liberalism. It is these misunderstandings that at times are employed to justify lotteries.
91. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Kathinka Evers Korsakoff Syndrome: The Amnesic Self
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The belief that memory is essential to the self is common. Extreme amnesia, e.g., Korsakoff Syndrome, is held to dissolve the afflicted person’s self. This belief is a misconception that rests on a confusion of epistemic with ontological relevance. Epistemically, memory is relevant to the self: a subject’s self-knowledge partly depends on memories of past experiences. However, it is not by virtue of these memories that the subject is a self: ontologically, memory is irrelevant to that status. The fact that an individuals conception of herself as existing through time is wanting does not prevent that individual from being a self at a given point in time. As the past is there whether or not it is remembered, so the self is there whether or not it remembers. If instead we define the self as awareness of being a subject of experience, the self may survive even the most extreme forms of amnesia. Being a self is an important social value, a prerequisite of numerous legal or moral rights. This in itself is questionable, like the social exclusion it may entail. Denying an amnesic person a self is therefore more than a logical mistake: it is a social exclusion that can also be questioned on ethical grounds.
92. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Nicholas Dixon Handguns, Violent Crime, and Self-Defense
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By far the most plausible explanation of data on violent crime in the United States is that its high handgun ownership rate is a major causal factor. The only realistic way to significantly reduce violent crime in this country is an outright ban on private ownership of handguns. While such a ban would undeniably restrict one particular freedom, it would violate no rights. In particular, the unquestioned right to self-defense does not entail a right to own handguns, because the evidence indicates that the widespread belief in handguns’ defensive efficacy is mistaken, especially when we confine our attention to defensive handgun use that is actually morally permissible. A handgun ban will never eradicate the weapons from this country, but it can substantially reduce the ownership rate and, as a result, substantially reduce violent crime. Although political realities may make a handgun ban unattainable in the United States at present, the very act of advancing cogent arguments for the most defensible position will make the goal of handgun prohibition more and more achievable.
93. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Asher Seidel On Human Improvement
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The claim that human cognitive abilities can be markedly improved by near-future biophysical means is examined as to its clarity, desirability, and feasibility. Generally, this is a study of the “space of reasons” of such a claim. Comparison is offered to claims of the feasibility of significant moral improvement of individuals. While this study is more exploratory than conclusive, the result is drawn that the possibility of such improvement merits serious consideration, given such improvement’s far-reaching implications.
94. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Michael Davis Is Higher Education a Prerequisite of Profession?
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The paper presents a definition of profession that I have developed over two decades: A profession is a number of individuals in the same occupation voluntarily organized to earn a living by openly serving a certain moral ideal in a morally permissible way beyond what law, market, and morality would otherwise require. The paper then briefly explains how this definition improves on more conventional ones, especially on those developed using the method of sociology or conceptual analysis. Finally, the paper defends the definition against one important objection, an objection many professionals, even upon reflection, seem inclined to make. The objection is that higher education, though omitted from my definition, is necessary for an occupation to be a profession. The paper argues that, on the contrary, carpenters or plumbers, porters or common laborers, could form a profession lin the full sensei without much change in the preparation of would-be members of their respective occupations.
95. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Jennifer A. Parks Ethical Androcentrism and Maternal Substance Addiction: Concerns of a Feminist Ethicist
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In this paper, I argue that bioethics suffers from a masculinist approach-what I call “ethical androcentrism.” Despite the genesis of other legitimate approaches to ethics (such as feminist, narrative, and communicative ethics), this masculinist tradition persists. The first part of my paper concerns the problem of ethical androcentrism, and how it is manifest in our typical ways of “doing” bioethics (as teachers, ethicists, policymakers, and medical practitioners). After arguing that bioethics suffers from a masculinist ethic, I consider the case of maternal substance addiction to show how this ethic negatively affects the treatment of pregnant addicts. I argue that by treating maternal substance addiction from an androcentric approach, we fail to serve both pregnant addicts and their fetuses; furthermore, we misrepresent the intentional state of pregnant substance addicts and label them “prenatal abusers.” If maternal substance addiction is to be ethically addressed -- and if pregnant substance addicts are to be effectively treated -- we cannot tacitly accept an androcentric ethic.
96. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
James Scott Johnston, Carol Johnston Nietzsche and the Dilemma of Suffering
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In this paper. we attempt to view a long-held assumption in nursing as mistaken. That is, that patient suffering is something to be overcome. Utilizing Nietzsche’s statements on Amor Fati, we carefully examine the cultural assumptions behind our denigration of suffering, look at specific nursing examples of this situation, and attempt the beginnings of a discourse on what it would take for nurses to overcome their own predetermined views of suffering in order to better help their patients “own” their own suffering.
97. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Michael S. Pritchard Moral Philosophy for Children and Character Education
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This paper discusses the growing prominence of character education and the role moral philosophy can play here. It examines the place of inquiry in character education, and the ways in which moral philosophy can help young people to develop the virtue of reasonableness. Reasonableness, as herein described, takes into account the views and feelings of others, the willingness to allow one’s views to be scrutinized by others, and the acceptance of some degree of uncertainty about whether one’s views are necessarily right. The paper illustrates ways in which philosophical exploration about morality can help children to cultivate reasonableness.
98. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Emrys Westacott The Ethics of Gossiping
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When is gossiping morally acceptable? In order to explore and develop a principled answer to this question, I pose the problem in a simplified, abstract form: What considerations govern what it is permissible for A to say to B about C? My approach involves first constructing a decision tree out of questions that apply general moral principles to any particular case. These principles filter out talk which, under normal circumstances, would be widely regarded as impermissible, such as breaches of confidence, deliberate falsehoods, or talk likely to produce more future harm than good. They also declare talk which is not contrary to C’s wishes, or which is likely to bring about some tangible further good, to be morally acceptable.The most interesting and controversial type of case is the kind that is not resolved by any of these considerations. People who view gossip in general with suspicion would presumably hold all such talk to be objectionable. I consider and reject several arguments in support of this view. I then look at reasons, mainly utilitarian, for declaring all such talk to be morally acceptable. I argue that these are not sufficient, either individually or collectively, to establish this universal conclusion; there are too many additional variables rendering our moral deliberations irreducibly complex. But they do bring out the many positive aspects of gossip that are often overlooked.
99. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
S. K. Wertz Revel’s Conception of Cuisine: Platonic or Hegelian
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Jean-François Revel is the first philosopher to take food seriously and to offer a topology for food practices. He draws a distinction between different kinds of cuisine -- popular (regional) cuisine and erudite (professional) cuisine. With this distinction, he traces the evolution of food practices from the ancient Greeks and Romans, down through the Middle Ages, and into the Renaissance and the Modern Period. His contribution has been acknowledged by Deane Curtin who offers an interpretation of Revel’s conceptual scheme along Platonic lines. In this essay the author reviews Curtin’s interpretation, finds it wanting in certain respects, and develops an alternative reading of Revel along Hegelian lines. This interpretation, the author believes, does greater justice to Revel’s topology for food practices.
100. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Peter B. Raabe How Philosophy Can Help You Feel Better: Philosophical Counseling and the Emotions
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The theoretical nature of academic philosophy has led to the assumption that a philosophical inquiry is not an appropriate means by which to explore the emotional issues encountered in everyday life. But a closer examination of various conceptions of the emotions leads to the conclusion that a person’s unwelcome emotions don’t simply erupt unexpectedly out of the unconscious and for no reason, but rather that they are generated in large part by a person’s unexamined assumptions and beliefs about himself and the world in which he lives. Therefore philosophical inquiry into these unexamined assumptions and beliefs, as it is conducted in philosophical counseling, has the potential to alleviate the pain and suffering of undesired emotions.