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1. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Stephen Darwall Why Ethics is Part of Philosophy: A Plea for a Philosophical Ethics
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Ethics is frequently divided into three parts: metaethics, normative ethical theory, and the more specific normative ethics. However, only metaethics is explicitly philosophical insofar as it is concerned with fundamental questions about the content, objects, and status of ethical thought and discourse. During the heyday of conceptual analysis, philosophers were admonished to restrict themselves entirely to metaethics. Since, it was said, they lacked any special expertise as philosophers on normative questions, their pronouncements could be no more than hortatory. I will argue that there is no satisfactory alternative to conducting normative ethical inquiry in conjunction with metaethics. Only by investigating normative and metaethical questions together in an integrated philosophical ethics can we hope to make real progress with either. Ethics should remain part of philosophy.
2. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Dan W. Brock Ethical Issues in the Construction of Cost-Effectiveness Analyses for the Prioritization and Rationing of Healthcare
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The dominant methodology in health policy for prioritizing and rationing health care resources is cost-effectiveness analysis, typically using quality adjusted life years (QALYs) or disability adjusted life years (DALYs) to measure health outcomes. The construction of these measures involves a number of moral or value choices, including: How should states of health and disability be evaluated, and whose preferences (e.g., the disabled or non-disabled) should be used? How should these evaluations reflect that prioritization will involve tradeoffs between health benefits for different persons or groups? Do all QALYs count equally, no matter what age at which they are received? Should discount rates be applied to health benefits? I will show the nature of the moral issues at stake in answering these questions, and briefly argue how they should be answered.
3. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Russell Hardin Ethics in Big Science
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In accounts of the ethics of science, we may treat practicing science as an institution of sorts. It has an imputed purpose, roughly, finding the truth about vast classes of causal relations. Scientists have been able to act reasonably with no more than the natural confluence of individual interest with the truth. But in the age of institutionalized science, with career stakes outside the accumulation of scientific findings and with institutional interests often directly conflicting with truth, this ‘natural confluence’ is no longer adequate. Now, incentives must be reinforced from outside the scientist’s personal research arena or the scientist must be normatively governed by a desire for truth. In big science, there is little doubt that a formal regulatory system outside the scientist’s research arena is institutionally easier to design and implement than is the inculcation of an attitude of service.
4. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Stuart Rosenbaum Moral Theory and the Reflective Life
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In what follows I want to endorse and to reinforce what seems to me a pragmatic, and more specifically a Deweyan, account of the dim prospects for traditional moral theory. I want further to describe a role for moral philosophy that accepts the demise of moral theory, a role exemplified by Dewey himself in his insistence on the place of intelligence and reflection in a satisfactory life. Dewey’s insistence on intelligence and reflection in the good life gives rise to a large–scale moral ideal, the ideal of the reflective life; I describe that ideal and contrast it with some others.
5. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Virginia Held Feminist Ethical Theory
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I will treat feminist ethical theory as a distinct type of theory. Although some feminists are skeptical about the need for theory as distinct from cultivating practices of being morally perceptive and sensitive, many others argue for the theory they see as needed. Feminist ethical theory usually includes, but is not limited to, the concerns that have been developed under the heading of ‘the ethics of care’ or ‘care ethics’. Care ethics are usually contrasted with ethics of justice, such as Kantian and utilitarian moral theories. Instead of being a theory primarily focused on right action, an ethic of care seeks moral evaluations of relations between persons, and reinterprets both personal and political relations in light of the value of care. I will show how feminist ethical theory differs from virtue theory as well as from Kantian and utilitarian theories.
6. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Michael Slote Moral Theories and Virtue Ethics
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The recent revival of virtue ethics may have a salutary effect on normative ethical theory. Over the past few years, an ‘agent-based’ virtue ethics inspired by the moral sentimentalism of Hutcheson, Hume, Martineau, and (more recently) Nel Noddings has taken shape. Because this approach allows room for a generalized humanitarianism that is notably absent in Aristotle, it may have more contemporary promise than neo-Aristotelian views. But agent-based virtue ethics also enables us to make some new distinctions within more familiar views and to that extent, therefore, has something to offer advocates of the very approaches with which it disagrees.
7. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Jonathan Dancy Can a Particularist Learn the Difference Between Right and Wrong?
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This paper is an attempt to answer the charge that extreme moral particularism is unable to explain the possibility of moral concepts and our ability to acquire them. This charge is based on the claim that we acquire moral concepts from experience of instances, and that the sorts of similarities that there must be between the instances are ones that only a generalist can countenance. I argue that this inference is unsound.
8. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Margarita M. Valdés Practical Ethics and Moral Objectivism
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Moral philosophers working today on concrete moral issues seem to assume certain views that are opposite to those of their predecessors; chief among these is that morality has an objective basis, that it is not just the result of subjective reactions, but comprises a body of beliefs acquired through some kind of perception of certain traits of reality. However, the reasons for thinking that people who discuss substantive moral issues are committed to moral objectivism are either not very clear or not entirely convincing. In what follows I shall examine the reasons given by John Mackie for considering that the use of first-level moral language—the language frequently used in the discussion of concrete moral problems—commits the user to moral objectivism.
9. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Ricardo Maliandi Principios de Equidad Discursiva
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This paper relates the concept of “discourse” (in the discourse-ethics’ meaning) with the concept of “social justice.” I maintain that the social nature of reason is a condition of possibility of such justice. According to the Alexy-Habermas system, the rules for the practical discourse mean in their third level the conditions of symmetry, that is, the absence of privileges among the participants. My paper introduces the concept of discursive fairness, referred to the requirements for maintaining the discursive symmetry, even under circumstances of non-discursive, but real asymmetry. Two principles of discursive fairness are offered (by analogy to Rawls’ “principles of justice”): 1. equality of rights among the participants in the practical discourse, and 2. possibility of reviewing all arguments used in the discourse, together with guarantees of benefits for the unsuccessful participants.
10. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Gunnar Skirbekk Discourse-Ethical Gradualism: Beyond Anthropocentrism and Biocentrism?
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My question is the following: to what extent is ethical anthropocentrism tenable? In a “discourse ethical” perspective I will consider some case-oriented arguments in favor of a paradigmatically unique ethical standing for humans and some arguments in favor of an ethical gradualism between humans and other mammals and between humans and nature, ending with a conclusion in favor of a fair treatment of all moral subjects, human and non-human.
11. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Gilbert Harman Moral Philosophy and Linguistics
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Any acceptable account of moral epistemology must accord with the following points. (1) Different people acquire seemingly very different moralities. (2) All normal people acquire a moral sense, whether or not they are given explicit moral instruction. Language resembles morality in these ways. There is considerable evidence from linguistics for linguistic universals. This suggests that (3) despite the first point, there are moral universals. If so, it might be possible to develop a moral epistemology that is analogous to the theory of universal grammar in linguistics. In what follows, I will try to sketch what might be involved in such a moral epistemology.
12. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong Explanation and Justification in Moral Epistemology
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Recent exchanges among Harman, Thomson, and their critics about moral explanations have done much to clarify this two-decades-old debate. I discuss some points in these exchanges along with five different kinds of moral explanations that have been proposed. I conclude that moral explanations cannot provide evidence within an unlimited contrast class that includes moral nihilism, but some moral explanations can still provide evidence within limited contrast classes where all competitors accept the necessary presuppositions. This points towards a limited version of moral skepticism.
13. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
John Martin Fischer The Value of Moral Responsibility
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Moral responsibility requires control of one’s behavior. But there are different kinds of control. One sort of control entails the existence of genuinely accessible alternative possibilities. I call this regulative control. I believe that an agent can control his or her behavior without having control over it. In such a circumstance, the agent enjoys what I call guidance control, but not regulative control. He guides his behavior in the way characteristic of agents who act freely, yet he does not have alternative possibilities with respect to his decision or action. I contend that moral responsibility requires guidance control, but not regulative control. In this paper, I wish to provide a measure of intuitive appeal to the claim that guidance control is all the control (or freedom) necessary for moral responsibility by sketching the picture that supports this claim.
14. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
John Passmore Philosophy and Ecology
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There was a time when ecological problems were of no interest to philosophy. Now, these issues have raised philosophical problems in several areas. In moral philosophy, one question is what moral obligations, if any, we have to future generations, and another is how far we have moral obligations relating to the treatment and the preservation of plants, animals and atmospheres. In political philosophy, the issue is the range of such concepts as rights and justice, and whether or not they are limited to human relationships. As to the metaphysical question, we have to ask whether there is something about human beings which entitles us to consider them as being supernatural and whether we can think of Nature as an entity of which each human being constitutes a part.
15. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Holmes Rolston, III Nature and Culture In Environmental Ethics
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The pivotal claim in environmental ethics is that humans in their cultures are out of sustainable relationships to the natural environments comprising the landscapes on which these cultures are superimposed. But bringing such culture into more intelligent relationships with the natural world requires not so much “naturalizing culture” as discriminating recognition of the radical differences between nature and culture, on the basis of which a dialectical ethic of complementarity may be possible. How far nature can and ought be managed and be transformed into humanized nature, resulting in “the end of nature,” is a provocative question. Environmental ethics ought also to seek nature as an end in itself.
16. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Alasdair MacIntyre Moral Pluralism Without Moral Relativism
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When we deny the truth of someone else’s moral beliefs and give our grounds for so doing, we make or imply judgments about the inadequacy of their reasons for belief and about the causes of their belief. And we presuppose a difference between them and us in both respects. In so doing we provide matter for a shared philosophical inquiry about the relevant types of reason and cause. It is a mark of rational disagreement on matters of serious moral import that we who so disagree should be prepared to engage in this inquiry and to recognize its standards as binding on us unqualifiedly. This recognition commits us to a denial of moral relativism. Some of these best examples of rational disagreement are found in some, although only some, of the exchanges between medieval Islamic, Jewish and Christian philosophers.
17. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Robin Attfield Depth, Trusteeship, and Redistribution
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I review some themes of Naess’s “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements” article and Routley’s “Is there a Need for a New, An Environmental Ethic?” presentation at the 1973 World Congress. Naess’s affiliation to the Deep Ecology Movement deserves acclaim, theoretic entanglements notwithstanding. Routley advocated a new ethic because no Judaeo-Christian ethical tradition could cope with widespread environmental intuitions. However, the ethical tradition of stewardship can satisfy such concerns. It is compatible with environmental values, need not be managerial, and can assume a secular form. But the related res- ponsibilities vary with wealth and power, and structural change is necessary to empower people currently unable to uphold it.
18. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Matti Häyry, Tuija Takala Biotechnology and the Environment: From Moral Objections to Ethical Analyses
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Rights can be founded in a variety of ethical systems—e.g., on natural law, on the duties postulated by deontological ethics, and on the consequences of our actions. The concept of risk we will outline supports a theory of rights which provides at least individual human beings with the entitlement not to be harmed by the environmental impacts of biotechnology. The analysis can, we believe, also be extended to the rights of animals as well as ecosystems, both of which can be harmed by human actions. We argue that further examination of these harms and rights would be the best way to proceed from emotional moral objections to truly ethical analyses in the context of biotechnology and the environment.
19. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
So Hung-yul Pluralism and the Moral Mind
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Cultural pluralism has caused disturbing problems for philosophers in applied ethics. If moral sanctions, theories, and applications are culturally bound, then moral conflicts ensuing from cultural differences would seem to be irresolvable. Even human nature, good or evil, is not free from cultural determination. One way out of this pluralistic impasse is the expansion of the moral mind. It is the outlet taken by religion, the arts, and philosophy from the earliest time in human culture. In philosophy we find an authentic example of this in Socrates. Following the practice of Socrates, we can try to expand the moral mind philosophically, that is, by working on various forms of reasoning, both deductive and non-deductive, including induction, abduction, dialectics, analogy, and pragmatics.
20. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 1
Jorge L. A. Garcia Beyond Biophobic Medical Ethics: What’s the Mercy in Mercy-Killing?
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A genuine bioethics would be fiercely devoted to human life (bios) and would express that devotion by articulating as well as advocating moral virtues that rigorously protect that value against the temptation to see life in purely instrumental terms. In my view, no genuine bioethics exists today. In what follows, I will question two fundamental assumptions often presumed in discussions of euthanasia and assisted suicide. These are (i) the agent does will her victim (i.e., her putative beneficiary) some significant human good, e.g., relief from pain, escape from becoming a burden to loved ones, a dignified death, or simply self-determination; (ii) in purposely helping someone to kill herself or in killing her for her own good, the agent wills her no serious harm. Put differently, I question the assumption of ‘mercy’ in so-called ‘mercy-killing’.