Many religions offer hope for a life that transcends death and believers find great comfort in this. Non-believers typically do not have such hopes. In the face of death, they may find consolation in feeling contented with the life they have lived. But do they have hopes? I will identify a range of distinctly secular hopes at the end of life. Nothing stops religious people from sharing these secular hopes, in addition to their hope for eternal life. I will distinguish between (a) hopes about one’s life, (b) hopes about one’s death, (c) hopes about attitudes of others, and (d) hopes about the future. But before turning to these hopes, I will reflect on the following question: What is it that would keep a person from hoping for eternal life?
Received: 10 February 2017 / Accepted: 26 June 2017 / Published online: 3 August 2017 # The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication Abstract This paper develops a fourth model of public engagement with science, grounded in the principle of nurturing scientific agency through participatory bioethics. It argues that social media is an effective device through which to enable such engagement, as it has the capacity to empower users and transforms audiences into co-producers of knowledge, rather than consumers of content. Social media also fosters greater engagement with the political and legal implications of science, thus promoting the value of scientific citizenship. This argument is explored by considering the case of nanoscience and nanotechnology, as an exemplar for how emerging technologies may be handled by the scientific community and science policymakers.
In an exchange with Axel Honneth and in other writings in the late 1990s, Nancy Fraser argued against privileging recognition in social and political philosophy without a concomitant consideration of the requirement for redistribution. Thus she argued for coupling the recognition of identities—racial, gender, cultural, etc.—with attention to the need for economic redistribution. In reply, Axel Honneth suggested instead that recognition itself is at the root of the theory of justice. However divergent their approaches, both theorists discussed this issue in the context of a nation-state or political society, leaving open the question of the applicability of these notions in a more global perspective. And although Fraser has recently turned to consider norms for this transnational domain, the question remains not only how to conceive the general interrelation of these two concepts of recognition and redistribution but also more specifically which sorts of differences should be recognized as playing a significant role within redistributive principles themselves or in their practical application. This problem becomes acute in the context of global justice and transnational recognition, where a multitude of differences comes into play— not only between the global south and north, but also in terms of culture, nationality, and gender, among others.
A new “voucher” program aims to shrink the US waiting list for kidney transplants (Veale, 2016). The waiting list is long, hovering in 2017 at around 95,000 (United Network for Organ Sharing, 2017). During 2016, approximately 19,000 kidney transplants took place, meeting only approximately one fifth of the demand. For patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD), transplantation has greater health benefits than dialysis, both in terms of length and quality of life (Tonelli et al, 2011). Transplantation from living donors is optimal: it tops both dialysis and transplantation from deceased donors in terms of health outcomes and cost-effectiveness (LaPointe Rudow et al, 2015, 914). The new voucher program involves live donation.
Carl Tollef Solberg and Espen Gamlund have recently suggested that in allocating scarce, life-saving resources we ought to consider how bad death would be for those who would die if left untreated (Solberg and Gamlund 2016, 8). We have moral reason, they intimate, to prioritize persons for whom death would be very bad over persons for whom it would be less bad (or not bad at all). In particular, we should in our allocation decisions consider how bad death would be for persons according to the “Time-Relative Interest Account,” developed by Jeff McMahan (Solberg and Gamlund 2016, 2).
The author of this book is a professor of philosophy and of the classics; the book is a classicist literary history of sorts. Its novelty is in its author’s invitation to readers to argue with him on the Internet through an e-link that he provides. The book’s other novelty is its choice to view Plato more as a writer than as a philosopher—with a philosophical purpose in mind, of course. Until recently, discussions of the greatness of Plato as a philosopher eclipsed discussions of his artistic greatness as a writer. Thus, though his Symposium is a major literary masterpiece of almost unequalled loveliness, commentators on it discuss its aesthetics, tending to ignore it as art. The book at hand discusses some works of Plato as literary masterpieces while discussing a famous historical problem, namely, the Socratic problem: what part of Plato’s output expresses the opinions of his teacher Socrates? Unfortunately, the book is apologetic, and so its value is more that of a pioneering work than of a serious contribution. Its apologetic aspect shows when it skirts the unpleasant fact that whereas Socrates was a staunch defender of democracy, Plato was an elitist who preferred meritocracy.
Normative non-naturalism is the view that normativity has its source in irreducible, non-natural matters of fact. Here I use ‘normativity' broadly to include phenomena like rationality, reasons, oughts and shoulds, good and bad, right and wrong, etc. Thus, if we interpret G. E. Moore as proposing that the property of goodness is sui generis in the sense that it’s irreducible and isn’t identical to any natural property, he would count as a normative non-naturalist. And Scanlon (2014) recently defended a non-naturalist view on which the relation of being a reason for is sui generis in the same sense. Non-naturalism has also been defended recently by Oddie (2005), Parfit (2006, 2011), Wedgwood (2007), FitzPatrick (2008, 2014), and Enoch (2011).
I once gave an argument against euthanasia where the controversial center of the argument could be summarized as follows:
Euthanasia would at most be permissible in cases of valid consent and great suffering. …
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'Dial 888,' Rick said as the set warmed. 'The desire to watch TV, no matter what's on it. 'I don't feel like dialling anything at all now,' Iran said. 'Then dial 3,' he said. …
This article argues that Thomas Pogge’s important theory of global justice does not adequately appreciate the relation between interactional and institutional accounts of human rights, along with the important normative role of care and solidarity in the context of globalization. It also suggests that more attention needs to be given critically to the actions of global corporations and positively to introducing democratic accountability into the institutions of global governance. The article goes on to present an alternative approach to global justice based on a more robust conception of human rights grounded in a conception of equal positive freedom, in which these rights are seen to apply beyond the coercive political institutions to which Pogge primarily confines them (e.g. to prohibiting domestic violence), and in which they can guide the development of economic, social and political forms to enable their fulfillment.
The practical context for the theoretical reflections in this article is set by two apparently conflicting tendencies: On one side, we have the progression of global economic, technological, and, to a degree, legal and political integration, where this entails a certain diminution of sovereignty. Sovereign nation-states of the so-called Westphalian paradigm, possessing ultimate authority within a territory, are increasingly overwhelmed by the cross-border interconnections or networks that escape their purview; or they are legitimately constrained by new human rights regimes across borders. On the other side, especially in view of the hegemonic activities of the United States, but also in the European Union, new calls for the reestablishment of the sovereignty of nation-states can be heard. This may take the form of a reassertion of a right of states against military interference and a retreat from ideas of humanitarian intervention; or again, it may take the form of an assertion of the priority of nation-states from the standpoint of the administration of welfare or that of the distinctiveness of particular cultures that they sometimes embody. Indeed, a third tendency can also be discerned in present practice: In the face of economic globalization of the first sort, diagnosed as U.S.- led and one-sidedly serving the interests of large industrial societies, but also with an understandable fear of the power of coercive and sometimes violent sovereign nation-states, some actors in the global justice movement seek what they call autonomy, as a self-organization of societies or communities in a diversity of more local forms.
The spectrum argument purports to show that the better-than relation is not transitive, and consequently that orthodox value theory is built on dubious foundations. The argument works by constructing a sequence of increasingly less painful but more drawn-out experiences, such that each experience in the spectrum is worse than the previous one, yet the final experience is better than the experience with which the spectrum began. Hence the betterness relation admits cycles, threatening either transitivity or asymmetry of the relation. This paper examines recent attempts to block the spectrum argument, using the idea that it is a mistake to affirm that every experience in the spectrum is worse than its predecessor: an alternative hypothesis is that adjacent experiences may be incommensurable in value, or that due to vagueness in the underlying concepts, it is indeterminate which is better. While these attempts formally succeed as responses to the spectrum argument, they have additional, as yet unacknowledged costs that are significant. In order to effectively block the argument in its most typical form, in which the first element is radically inferior to the last, it is necessary to suppose that the incommensurability (or indeterminacy) is particularly acute: what might be called radical incommensurability (radical indeterminacy). We explain these costs, and draw some general lessons about the plausibility of the available options for those who wish to save orthodox axiology from the spectrum argument.
It is widely accepted that you cannot force someone to make a valid promise. If a robber after finding that I have no valuables with me puts a gun to my head and says: “I will shoot you unless you promise to go home and bring me all of the jewelry there”, and I say “I promise”, my promise seems to be null and void. …
David Shoemaker says:
August 14, 2017 at 2:53 pm
[The following comment was submitted by David Luban. Luban’s book Torture, Power, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2014) contains a critique of Allhoff’s book. …
This essay focuses on personal love, or the love of particular persons
as such. Part of the philosophical task in understanding personal love
is to distinguish the various kinds of personal love. For example, the
way in which I love my wife is seemingly very different from the way I
love my mother, my child, and my friend. This task has typically
proceeded hand-in-hand with philosophical analyses of these kinds of
personal love, analyses that in part respond to various puzzles about
love. Can love be justified? If so, how? What is the value of personal
love? What impact does love have on the autonomy of both the lover and
Why are cognitive disability and moral status thought to be
sufficiently connected to warrant a separate entry? The reason is that
individuals with cognitive disabilities have served as test cases in
debates about the moral relevance of possessing such intellectual
attributes as self-consciousness and practical rationality. If a
significant portion of human beings lacks self-consciousness and
practical rationality, then those attributes cannot by themselves
distinguish the way we treat cognitively developed human beings from
the way we treat non-human animals and human fetuses. If we cannot
experiment on or kill human beings who lack those attributes, then the
lack of those attributes alone cannot be what justifies animal
experimentation or abortion.
Illustration by Slate
Last week a team of 72 scientists released the preprint of an article attempting to address one aspect of the reproducibility crisis, the crisis of conscience in which scientists are increasingly skeptical about the rigor of our current methods of conducting scientific research. …
A core question of contemporary social morality concerns how we ought to handle racial categorization. By this we mean, for instance, classifying or thinking of a person as Black, Korean, Latino, White, etc.² While it is widely FN:2 agreed that racial categorization played a crucial role in past racial oppression, there remains disagreement among philosophers and social theorists about the ideal role for racial categorization in future endeavors. At one extreme of this disagreement are short-term eliminativists who want to do away with racial categorization relatively quickly (e.g. Appiah, 1995; D’Souza, 1996; Muir, 1993; Wasserstrom, 2001/1980; Webster, 1992; Zack, 1993, 2002), typically because they view it as mistaken and oppressive. At the opposite end of the spectrum, long-term conservationists hold that racial identities and communities are beneficial, and that racial categorization —suitably reformed —is essential to fostering them (e.g. Outlaw, 1990, 1995, 1996). While extreme forms of conservationism have fewer proponents in academia than the most radical eliminativist positions, many theorists advocate more moderate positions. In between the two poles, there are many who believe that racial categorization is valuable (and perhaps necessary) given the continued existence of racial inequality and the lingering effects of past racism (e.g. Haslanger, 2000; Mills, 1998; Root, 2000; Shelby, 2002, 2005; Sundstrom, 2002; Taylor, 2004; Young, 1989). Such authors agree on the short-term need for racial categorization in at least some domains, but they often differ with regard to its long-term value.
Scientists have developed a new technology, CRISPR-Cas9, for editing genes in day old human embryos. The technology (explained here with terrific graphics) was used to edit out a gene that leads to a severe heart detect, though the embryos were then discarded. …
Much emotional charge is involved with everything related to intellectual rubbish, and thus also to the intellectual standards which it falls short of. It is one thing to refuse to share my neighbor’s tastes, and a hard enough and alienating enough matter at that. It is much worse to declare intellectual rubbish what they highly approve of, what they devote much time and concern for, perhaps even what they are engaged in the production of. To say that what they are concerned with is intellectual rubbish is plainly to punch them in the nose. Admittedly, I may try to escape trouble: I may try to find out what are the tastes of my associates, and avoid talking about intellectual rubbish except in the company of those whose tastes are sufficiently close to mine. This will not do. First, word goes round, and one may hear from other associates or from friends' friends what others think about one's preferences and life work. Second, if two people agree about one thing and then their conversation shifts to talk about another, they may then find unexpected strong discrepancies. Most people I have met find in our cultural milieu more rubbish than things of value: they consider rubbish so much art, science, or whatever else cultural. This fact makes it hardly possible for anyone to express freely opinions about tastes without the fear of offending many people.
What is a normative reason for acting? In this paper, I introduce and defend a novel answer to this question. The starting-point is the view that reasons are right-makers. By exploring difficulties facing it, I arrive at an alternative, according to which reasons are evidence of respects in which it is right to perform an act, for example, that it keeps a promise. This is similar to the proposal that reasons for a person to act are evidence that she ought to do so; however, as I explain, it differs from that proposal in two significant ways. As a result, I argue, the evidence-based account of reasons I advance shares the advantages of its predecessor while avoiding many of the difficulties facing it.
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As any parent can readily testify, little kids get upset. A lot. Sometimes it’s for broadly comprehensible stuff - because they have to go to bed or to daycare, for example. …
Friendship, as understood here, is a distinctively personal
relationship that is grounded in a concern on the part of each friend
for the welfare of the other, for the other’s sake, and that
involves some degree of intimacy. As such, friendship is undoubtedly
central to our lives, in part because the special concern we have for
our friends must have a place within a broader set of concerns,
including moral concerns, and in part because our friends can help
shape who we are as persons. Given this centrality, important
questions arise concerning the justification of friendship and, in
this context, whether it is permissible to “trade up” when
someone new comes along, as well as concerning the possibility of
reconciling the demands of friendship with the demands of morality in
cases in which the two seem to conflict.
Re-posting after a technical glitch this morning (eds.) 1. Current events are reminding us that patriotism, at least of the sort that gets publicly acknowledged, is a confusing virtue. I don’t mean that the patriot might get drawn into doing bad things on behalf of his country. …
As with so many issues in gay and lesbian philosophy, Claudia Card may have said it best. Sexuality, she tells us, shows that “a more generous vocabulary is needed than is provided by the dichotomy of ‘freely chosen’ on the one hand and ‘fated’ or ‘determined’ on the other.” In this paper I will not claim that theorizing about sexual identity solves the philosophical dilemma of free will and determinism. I will argue, however, that gay and lesbian experience may show us a way to reject a rigid division between traits and aspects of the self (like sexuality) that seem determined and aspects of the self that seem freely chosen. To do this, however, it will be necessary to show that our enduring sexual desire, what we ordinarily think of as sexual orientation, is partly constituted by choice. Showing that our orientation originates partly in our own choices will of course change dramatically our understanding of sexual desire and sexual identity, as well as present a more ambiguous picture of the relationship between aspects of the self that appear determined and those that appear chosen.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to central locations. These have shown themselves in the long course of European history. In times of peace, there are important economic and cultural advantages (to illustrate: the present area of the Czech Republic was the richest country in Europe between the two World Wars). There are cross-currents of trade and culture in central Europe of great advantage. For, cultural cross-currents represent a potential benefit in comprehension and cultural growth. But under threat of large-scale conflict, these locations have proved extremely dangerous.
1. Current events are reminding us that patriotism, at least of the sort that gets publicly acknowledged, is a confusing virtue. I don’t mean that the patriot might get drawn into doing bad things on behalf of his country. …
In normative political theory, it is widely accepted that democratic decision making cannot be reduced to voting alone, but that it requires reasoned and well-informed discussion by those involved in and/or subject to the decisions in question, under conditions of equality and respect. In short, democracy requires deliberation (e.g., Cohen 1989; Gutmann and Thompson 1996; Dryzek 2000; Fishkin 2009; Mansbridge et al. 2010). In formal political theory, by contrast, the study of democracy has focused less on deliberation, and more on the aggregation of individual preferences or opinions into collective decisions – social choices – typically through voting (e.g., Arrow 1951/1963; Riker 1982; Austen-Smith and Banks 2000, 2005; Mueller 2003). While the literature on deliberation has an optimistic flavour, the literature on social choice is more mixed. It is centred around several paradoxes and impossibility results showing that collective decision making cannot generally satisfy certain plausible desiderata. Any democratic aggregation rule that we use in practice seems, at best, a compromise.
Different sciences deal with different facts: they have different ontologies. Similarly, we may ask whether different normative theories are about different normative facts. In particular, does political theory address the same normative facts as moral theory or different ones? By developing an analogy with the sciences, we argue that the normative facts of political theory belong to a higher—more coarse-grained—ontological level than those of moral theory. Normative political facts are “multiply realizable” by moral facts: competing facts at the moral level can underpin the same facts at the political one. Consequently, some normative questions on which there may be a fact of the matter in morality are indeterminate at the political level, contrary to conventional moral realism. This way of thinking about the ontologies of moral and political theory offers a novel explication of Rawls’s idea that, in public reasoning, we should abstract away from the truth of comprehensive moral doctrines. We contrast our distinction between facts at different levels with the more familiar distinction between admissible and inadmissible evidence and discuss some implications for the practice of political theory.
In 1986 David Gauthier proposed an arbitration scheme for two player cardinal bargaining games based on interpersonal comparisons of players’ relative concessions. In Gauthier’s original arbitration scheme, players’ relative concessions are defined in terms of Raiffa-normalized cardinal utility gains, and so it cannot be directly applied to ordinal bargaining problems. In this paper I propose a relative benefit equilibrating bargaining solution (RBEBS ) for two and n-player ordinal and quasiconvex ordinal bargaining problems with finite sets of feasible basic agreements based on the measure of players’ ordinal relative individual advantage gains. I provide an axiomatic characterization of this bargaining solution and discuss the conceptual relationship between RBEBS and ordinal egalitarian bargaining solution (OEBS ) proposed by Conley and Wilkie (2012). I show the relationship between the measurement procedure for ordinal relative individual advantage gains and the measurement procedure for players’ ordinal relative concessions, and argue that the proposed arbitration scheme for ordinal games can be interpreted as an ordinal version of Gauthier’s arbitration scheme.