Agent Centered Morality

Author by : George W. Harris
Languange : en
Publisher by : Univ of California Press
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Description : What kinds of persons do we aspire to be, and how do our aspirations fit with our ideas of rationality? In Agent-Centered Morality, George Harris argues that most of us aspire to a certain sort of integrity: We wish to be respectful of and sympathetic to others, and to be loving parents, friends, and members of our communities. Against a prevailing Kantian consensus, Harris offers an Aristotelian view of the problems presented by practical reason, problems of integrating all our concerns into a coherent, meaningful life in a way that preserves our integrity. The task of solving these problems is "the integration test." Systematically addressing the work of major Kantian thinkers, Harris shows that even the most advanced contemporary versions of the Kantian view fail to integrate all of the values that correspond to what we call a moral life. By demonstrating how the meaning of life and practical reason are internally related, he constructs from Aristotle's thought a conceptual scheme that successfully integrates all the characteristics that make a life meaningful, without jeopardizing the place of any. Harris's elucidation of this approach is a major contribution to debates on human agency, practical reason, and morality.


Oxford Studies In Normative Ethics

Author by : Mark C. Timmons
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics is an annual forum for new work in normative ethical theory. Leading philosophers present original contributions to our understanding of a wide range of moral issues and positions, from analysis of competing approaches to normative ethics (including moral realism, constructivism, and expressivism) to questions of how we should act and live well. OSNE will be an essential resource for scholars and students working in moral philosophy.


The Moral Habitat

Author by : Barbara Herman
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : In The Moral Habitat, Barbara Herman offers a new and systematic interpretation of Kant's moral and political philosophy. The study begins with an investigation of some understudied imperfect duties which, surprisingly, tell us some important but generally unnoticed facts about what it is to be a moral agent. The second part of the book launches a substantial reinterpretation of Kant's ethics as a system of duties, juridical and ethical, perfect and imperfect, that can incorporate what we learn from imperfect duties and do much more. This system of duties provides the structure for what Herman calls a moral habitat: a made environment, created by and for free and equal persons living together. It is a dynamic system, with duties from different spheres shaping and being affected by each other, each level further interpreting its core anti-subordination value. In the final part, Herman takes up some implications and applications of this moral habitat idea. From considering what would be involved, morally, in recognizing a human right to housing to some meta-ethical issues about objectivity and our responsibility for moral change, we come to appreciate the resources of this holistic agent-centered Kantian view of morality.


Friendship And Agent Relative Morality

Author by : Troy A. Jollimore
Languange : en
Publisher by : Routledge
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Description : First Published in 2001. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


Consequentialism

Author by : Christian Seidel
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : Consequentialism is a focal point of discussion and a driving force behind important developments in moral philosophy. Recently, the debate has shifted in focus and in style. By seeking to consequentialize rival moral theories, in particular those with agent-relative characteristics, and by framing accounts in terms of reasons rather than in terms of value, an emerging new wave consequentialism has presented - at much higher levels of abstraction - theories which proved extremely flexible and powerful in meeting long-standing and influential objections. This volume of new essays on new wave consequentialism initiates and stimulates novel lines of discussions among proponents and their critics. The contributions explore new directions in new wave consequentialism and present refined conceptual frameworks (in Part I), raise challenging fundamental problems for these frameworks and the new wave's theoretical basis (in Part II), and give a balanced assessment of the new wave's limits and achievements in specific contexts of commonsense moral practice (in Part III). The volume will be of interest to all readers in ethical and moral theory.


Moral Realism And The Foundations Of Ethics

Author by : David O. Brink
Languange : en
Publisher by : Cambridge University Press
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Description : A systematic analysis considers the objectivity of ethics, the relationship between the moral point of view and a scientific or naturalist worldview and its role in a person's rational lifespan.


Kantian Consequentialism

Author by : David Cummiskey
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : The central problem for normative ethics is the conflict between a consequentialist view--that morality requires promoting the good of all--and a belief that the rights of the individual place significant constraints on what may be done to help others. Standard interpretations see Kant as rejecting all forms of consequentialism, and defending a theory which is fundamentally duty-based and agent-centered. Certain actions, like sacrificing the innocent, are categorically forbidden. In this original and controversial work, Cummiskey argues that there is no defensible basis for this view, that Kant's own arguments actually entail a consequentialist conclusion. But this new form of consequentialism which follows from Kant's theories has a distinctly Kantian tone. The capacity of rational action is prior to the value of happiness; thus providing justification for the view that rational nature is more important than mere pleasures and pains.


The Rejection Of Consequentialism

Author by : Samuel Scheffler
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : In contemporary philosophy, substantive moral theories are typically classified as either consequentialist or deontological. Standard consequentialist theories insist, roughly, that agents must always act so as to produce the best available outcomes overall. Standard deontological theories, by contrast, maintain that there are some circumstances where one is permitted but not required to produce the best overall results, and still other circumstances in which one is positively forbidden to do so. Classical utilitarianism is the most familiar consequentialist view, but it is widely regarded as an inadequate account of morality. Although Professor Scheffler agrees with this assessment, he also believes that consequentialism seems initially plausible, and that there is a persistent air of paradox surrounding typical deontological views. In this book, therefore, he undertakes to reconsider the rejection of consequentialism. He argues that it is possible to provide a rationale for the view that agents need not always produce the best possible overall outcomes, and this motivates one departure from consequentialism; but he shows that it is surprisingly difficult to provide a satisfactory rationale for the view that there are times when agents must not produce the best possible overall outcomes. He goes on to argue for a hitherto neglected type of moral conception, according to which agents are always permitted, but not always required, to produce the best outcomes.


Morality And Practical Reasons

Author by : Douglas W. Portmore
Languange : en
Publisher by : Cambridge University Press
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Description : As Socrates famously noted, there is no more important question than how we ought to live. The answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I've just received a substantial raise. What should I do with the extra money? I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I should live my life as I have most moral reason to live it or as I have most self-interested reason to live it depends on how these and other sorts of reasons combine and compete to determine what I have most reason to do, all things considered. This Element seeks to figure out how different sorts of reasons combine and compete to determine how we ought to live.


Beyond Consequentialism

Author by : Paul Hurley
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press on Demand
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Description : Hurley sets out a radical challenge to consequentialism, the theory which might seem to be the default option in contemporary moral philosophy. There is an unresolved tension within the theory: if consequentialists are right about the content of morality, then morality cannot have the rational authority that even they take it to have.


Moral Aims

Author by : Cheshire Calhoun
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : We rely on two different conceptions of morality. On the one hand, we think of morality as a correct action guide. Morality is accessed by taking up a critical, reflective point of view where our concern is with identifying the moral rules that would be the focus of the requiring activities of persons in a hypothetical social world whose participants were capable of accessing the justifications for everyone's endorsing just this set of rules. On the other hand, in doing virtually anything connected with morality--making demands, offering excuses, justifying choices, expressing moral attitudes, getting uptake on our resentments, and the like-we rely on social practices of morality and shared moral understandings that make our moral activities and attitudes intelligible to others. This second conception of morality, unlike the first, is not shaped by the aim of getting it right or the contrast between correct and merely supposed moral requirements. It is shaped by the moral aim of practicing morality with others within an actual, not merely hypothetical, scheme of social cooperation. If practices based on misguided moral norms seem not to be genuine morality under the first conception, merely hypothetical practices seem not to be the genuine article under the second conception. The premise of this book, which collects together nine previously published essay and a new introduction, is that both conceptions are indispensable. But exactly how is the moral theorist to go about working simultaneously with two such different conceptions of morality? The book's project is not to construct an overarching methodology for handling the two conceptions of morality. Instead, it is to provide case studies of that work being done.


The Nexus

Author by : Jon H. Widener M.D.
Languange : en
Publisher by : WestBow Press
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Description : The Nexus, so-named because of the operational intersection or Nexus of faith and culture, is an alphabetized manual of cultural artifacts of significance to Christians. In The Nexus, Jon Widener observes how Christianity has lost many battles over the years and how the evangelical community has been fraught with endemic anti-intellectualism. He sees an evangelical insularity taking the form of retreat and retrenchment from the comings and goings of the larger society. Dr. Widener proposes that modern Christian believers correct these deficits by exercising the exhortation of I Pet 3:15 (KJV) to always be prepared to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you. Believers should educate themselves on culturally relevant issues where there are questions of Christian morality. This is the burden and purpose of the book. Accordingly, the standard for inclusion is straight-forward. If the topic is culturally encountered and has moral implications, then it meets the threshold standard for inclusion in the work.


Friendship And Agent Relative Morality

Author by : Troy A. Jollimore
Languange : en
Publisher by : Routledge
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Description : First Published in 2001. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


Commonsense Consequentialism

Author by : Douglas W. Portmore
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : Commonsense Consequentialism is a book about morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, Douglas W. Portmore defends a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons. Broadly construed, consequentialism is the view that an act's deontic status is determined by how its outcome ranks relative to those of the available alternatives on some evaluative ranking. Portmore argues that outcomes should be ranked, not according to their impersonal value, but according to how much reason the relevant agent has to desire that each outcome obtains and that, when outcomes are ranked in this way, we arrive at a version of consequentialism that can better account for our commonsense moral intuitions than even many forms of deontology can. What's more, Portmore argues that we should accept this version of consequentialism, because we should accept both that an agent can be morally required to do only what she has most reason to do and that what she has most reason to do is to perform the act that would produce the outcome that she has most reason to want to obtain. Although the primary aim of the book is to defend a particular moral theory (viz., commonsense consequentialism), Portmore defends this theory as part of a coherent whole concerning our commonsense views about the nature and substance of both morality and rationality. Thus, it will be of interest not only to those working on consequentialism and other areas of normative ethics, but also to those working in metaethics. Beyond offering an account of morality, Portmore offers accounts of practical reasons, practical rationality, and the objective/subjective obligation distinction.


Encyclopedia Of Ethics

Author by : Lawrence C. Becker
Languange : en
Publisher by : Routledge
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Description : The editors, working with a team of 325 renowned authorities in the field of ethics, have revised, expanded and updated this classic encyclopedia. Along with the addition of 150 new entries, all of the original articles have been newly peer-reviewed and revised, bibliographies have been updated throughout, and the overall design of the work has been enhanced for easier access to cross-references and other reference features. New entries include * Cheating * Dirty hands * Gay ethics * Holocaust * Journalism * Political correctness * and many more.


Virtues In Action

Author by : M. Austin
Languange : en
Publisher by : Springer
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Description : In recent decades, many philosophers have considered the strengths and weaknesses of a virtue-centered approach to moral theory. Much less attention has been given to how such an approach bears on issues in applied ethics. The essays in this volume apply a virtue-centered perspective to a variety of contemporary moral issues, and in so doing offer a fresh and illuminating perspective. Some of the essays focus on a particular virtue and its application to one or more realms of applied ethics, such as temperance and sex or humility and environmental ethics. Other chapters focus on an issue in applied ethics and bring several virtues into a discussion of that issue or realm of life, such as sport, education, and business. Finally, several of the chapters engage relevant psychological research as well as current neuroscience, which enhances the strength of the philosophical arguments.


Human Morality

Author by : Berkeley Samuel Scheffler Professor of Philosophy University of California
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press, USA
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Description : Some people believe that the demands of morality coincide with the requirements of an enlightened self-interest. Others believe that morality is diametrically opposed to considerations of self-interest. This book argues that there is another position, intermediate between these extremes, which makes better sense of the totality of our moral thought and practice. Scheffler elaborates this position via an examination of morality's content, scope, authority, and deliberative role. Although conflicts between morality and self-interest do arise, according to this position, nevertheless morality is fundamentally a reasonable and humane phenomenon. Moreover, the psychological bases of effective moral motivation have sources deep within the self, and morally motivated individuals try to shape their own interests so as to avoid conflict with morality. Since human practices and institutions help to determine the prevalence of these motives, and since in this and other ways they influence the degree to which conflicts between morality and self-interest actually occur, the extent of such conflict is not fixed or immutable, and is in part a social and political issue.


War Morality And Autonomy

Author by : Daniel S. Zupan
Languange : en
Publisher by : Routledge
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Description : Just War Theory is the governing moral doctrine for all of the major democratic militaries and indeed beyond. This book is a close study of a critical component of Just War theory, the moral status of noncombatants. In this post September 11th, 2001 time of cascading unconventional or 'dirty' wars, issues of treatment of noncombatants - whether as incidental casualties during grey area operations or as prisoners swept up by preventative security measures - have resonance across national lines. Whether or not the democracies and other states pursue their national security interests within the limits of Just War reasoning and laws, or break out of these limits in prosecuting war and security measures against terrorist organizations, is one of the top security issues of the day. Zupan examines the flaws that this complex body of moral reasoning often exhibits, arguing that many of the shortcomings of Just War theory can be resolved using Kantian methodology and the theory of autonomy. According to this conception, human beings have unconditional worth which imposes moral constraints upon the actions of other human beings. From this understanding Zupan generates principles that serve as moral guidelines for the use of force which establish a presumption against harming any human being and greatly restrict the conditions under which we may justify any unintended, collateral harm that may affect those who do not intend our harm. Considering the work of moral theorists such as Onora O'Neill, T. M. Scanlon, Michael Walzer, Paul Christopher and G. E. M. Anscombe and such issues as the Doctrine of Double Effect, autonomy and supreme emergency, Zupan concludes that if we ever are justified in targeting the innocent, it will only be under very rare conditions where the innocent themselves should accept the principle that permitted their being killed.


Dimensions Of Moral Theory

Author by : Jonathan Jacobs
Languange : en
Publisher by : John Wiley & Sons
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Description : Dimensions of Moral Theory examines the key presuppositions and philosophical commitments that support and shape moral theories.


The Blackwell Dictionary Of Western Philosophy

Author by : Nicholas Bunnin
Languange : en
Publisher by : John Wiley & Sons
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Description : The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy is a concise reference to the whole history of western philosophy, from ancient Greece to the present day. Spans all the major branches of western philosophical inquiry, all of the key figures Explains the meaning and usage of each philosophical concept in a fresh and engaging style Each entry on philosophical terms concludes with an illustrative quotation from a significant philosopher, to enhance the reader’s understanding Entries on terms and individual philosophers are fully cross-referenced Co-written by the editor of the popular volume The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy (Second Edition, 2002)


Friendship Altruism And Morality Routledge Revivals

Author by : Laurence A. Blum
Languange : en
Publisher by : Routledge
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Description : Friendship, Altruism, and Morality, originally published in 1980, gives an account of "altruistic emotions" (compassion, sympathy, concern) and friendship that brings out their moral value. Blum argues that moral theories centered on rationality, universal principle, obligation, and impersonality cannot capture this moral importance. This was one of the first books in contemporary moral philosophy to emphasize the moral significance of emotions, to deal with friendship as a moral phenomenon, and to challenge the rationalism of standard interpretations of Kant, although Blum’s "sentimentalism" owes more to Schopenhauer than to Hume. It was a forerunner to care ethics, and feminist ethics more generally; to virtue ethics; and to subsequent influential interpretations of Kant that attempted to room for altruistic emotion and friendship, and other forms of particularism and partialism. In addition, the work has been widely influential in religious studies, political theory, bioethics, and feminist ethics.


Gewirth

Author by : Michael Boylan
Languange : en
Publisher by : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Description : As one of the most important ethicists to emerge since the Second World War, Alan Gewirth continues to influence philosophical debates concerning morality. In this ground-breaking book, Gewirth's neo-Kantianism, and the communitarian problems discussed, form a dialogue on the foundation of moral theory. Themes of agent-centered constraints, the formal structure of theories, and the relationship between freedom and duty are examined along with such new perspectives as feminism, the Stoics, and Sartre. Gewirth offers a picture of the philosopher's theory and its applications, providing a richer, more complete critical assessement than any which has occurred to date.


Reason Religion And Natural Law

Author by : Jonathan A. Jacobs
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press
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Description : This edited volume examines the ways in which theological considerations have figured in natural law theorizing, from Plato to Spinoza. Theological considerations have long had a pronounced role in Catholic natural law theories, but have not been seriously examined from a wider perspective. The contributors to this volume take a more inclusive view of the relation between conceptions of natural law and theistic claims and principles. They do not jointly defend one particular thematic claim, but articulate diverse ways in which natural law has both been understood and related to theistic claims. In addition to exploring Plato and the Stoics, the volume also looks at medieval Jewish thought, the thought of Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham, and the ways in which Spinoza's thought includes resonances of earlier views and intimations of later developments. Taken as a whole, these essays enlarge the scope of the discussion of natural law through study of how the naturalness of natural law has often been related to theses about the divine. The latter are often crucial elements of natural law theorizing, having an integral role in accounting for the metaethical status and ethical bindingness of natural law. At the same time, the question of the relation between natural law and God — and the relation between natural law and divine command — has been addressed in a multiplicity of ways by key figures throughout the history of natural law theorizing, and these essays accord them the explanatory significance they deserve.


Instrumental Data For Drug Analysis Second Edition

Author by : Terry Mills, III
Languange : en
Publisher by : CRC Press
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Description : Compiled with the most sophisticated chromatographic and spectrometric instruments available, this complete and self-contained seven-volume reference provides forensic, toxicology, and clinical laboratories with up-to-date information on 1,600 drugs and drug-related compounds-one of the largest collections of analytical data generated from a single source. Instrumental Data for Drug Analysis contains timely, quality data presented in a large, easily usable format. It is an essential reference in the libraries of all toxicology, analytical chemistry, and forensic specialists and laboratories.


Identity Character And Morality

Author by : Owen J. Flanagan
Languange : en
Publisher by : MIT Press
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Description : the authors of these essays explore the interconnections between psychology and moral theory


Value In Ethics And Economics

Author by : Elizabeth Anderson
Languange : en
Publisher by : Harvard University Press
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Description : Elizabeth Anderson offers a new theory of value and rationality that rejects cost-benefit analysis in our social lives and in our ethical theories. This account of the plurality of values thus offers a new approach, beyond welfare economics and traditional theories of justice, for assessing the ethical limitations of the market. In this light, Anderson discusses several contemporary controversies involving the proper scope of the market, including commercial surrogate motherhood, privatization of public services, and the application of cost-benefit analysis to issues of environmental protection. Table of Contents: Preface 1. A Pluralist Theory of Value A Rational Attitude Theory of Value Ideals and Self-Assessment How Goods Differ in Kind (I): Different Modes of Valuation How Goods Differ in Kind (II): Social Relations of Realization 2. An Expressive Theory of Rational Action Value and Rational Action The Framing of Decisions The Extrinsic Value of States of Affairs Consequentialism Practical Reason and the Unity of the Self 3. Pluralism and Incommensurable Goods The Advantages of Consequentialism A Pragmatic Theory of Comparative Value Judgments Incommensurable Goods Rational Choice among Incommensurable Goods 4. Self-Understanding, the Hierarchy of Values, and Moral Constraints The Test of Self-Understanding The Hierarchy of Values Agent-Centered Restrictions Hybrid Consequentialism A Self-Effacing Theory of Practical Reason? 5. Criticism, Justification, and Common Sense A Pragmatic Account of Objectivity The Thick Conceptual Structure of the Space of Reasons How Common Sense Can Be Self-Critical Why We Should Ignore Skeptical Challenges to Common Sense 6. Monistic Theories of Value Monism Moore's Aesthetic Monism Hedonism Rational Desire Theory 7. The Ethical Limitations of the Market Pluralism, Freedom, and Liberal Politics The Ideals and Social Relations of the Modern Market Civil Society and the Market Personal Relations and the Market Political Goods and the Market The Limitations of Market Ideologies 8. Is Women's Labor a Commodity? The Case of Commercial Surrogate Motherhood Children as Commodities Women's Labor as a Commodity Contract Pregnancy and the Status of Women Contract Pregnancy, Freedom, and the Law 9. Cost-Benefit Analysis, Safety, and Environmental Quality Cost-Benefit Analysis as a Form of Commodification Autonomy, Labor Markets, and the Value of Life Citizens, Consumers, and the Value of the Environment Toward Democratic Alternatives to Cost-Benefit Analysis Conclusion Notes References Index Reviews of this book: Anderson/auhtor is anxious to combat what she sees as a tendency for commercial values to invade areas of human life where they do not belong...A useful contribution to debate about the proper scope of the market. "Not everything is a commodity, insists Anderson, and her brief should shake up social science technocrats." DD--Philadelphia Inquirer "The book is rich in both argument and application." DD--Alan Hamlin, Times Higher Education Supplement "In this rich and insightful book Elizabeth Anderson develops an original account of value and rational action and then employs this account to address the pragmatic political question of what the proper range of the market should be. Anderson's principal targets are consequentialism, monism and the crude 'economistic' reasoning which underpins much contemporary social policy...This is an important book...For anyone interested in political philosophy this is essential reading." DD--A. J. Walsh, Australasian Journal of Philosophy --Hugo Dixon, Financial Times [UK] Reviews of this book: Not everything is a commodity, insists Anderson, and her brief should shake up social science technocrats. --Philadelphia Inquirer Reviews of this book: The book is rich in both argument and application. --Alan Hamlin, Times Higher Education Supplement Reviews of this book: In this rich and insightful book Elizabeth Anderson develops an original account of value and rational action and then employs this account to address the pragmatic political question of what the proper range of the market should be. Anderson's principal targets are consequentialism, monism and the crude 'economistic' reasoning which underpins much contemporary social policy...This is an important book...For anyone interested in political philosophy this is essential reading. --A. J. Walsh, Australasian Journal of Philosophy


Foundation For A Natural Morality

Author by : Edmund Wall
Languange : en
Publisher by : Rowman & Littlefield
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Description : This book examines the foundations of morality and criticizes various philosophical justifications that have been offered for basic moral principles or values throughout the years. This book introduces and defends what is designed to be a sure justification for a natural morality and its basic moral principles.


Greater Good

Author by : Garth L. Hallett, SJ
Languange : en
Publisher by : Georgetown University Press
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Description : Garth L. Hallett provides the first thorough, systematic exposition and defense of proportionalism in Christian ethics. Prominent in both philosophical and theological ethics, proportionalism judges the morality of acts by their proportion of good and evil. Hallett proposes judging acts using a norm he calls Value Maximization. He defines this norm and offers a full response to such critics of all forms of proportionalism as Finnis and Grisez. The author assesses the norm's moral and theological validity in and of itself; in dialogue with the encyclical Veritatis Splendor; and in comparison with various rival viewpoints, stressing natural law, divine commands, respect for persons, inviolable goods, proportionate ends, irreducible rights, and agent-centered ethics. He appraises the norm's overall significance, showing its rootedness in Christian tradition, its inclusiveness and amplitude, and its relevance to those seeking a foundation for Christian ethical thought and moral activity.


Reflection And The Stability Of Belief

Author by : Louis E. Loeb
Languange : en
Publisher by : Oxford University Press on Demand
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Description : A unifying theme of Loeb's work is epistemological - that Descartes and Hume advance theories of knowledge that rely on a substantial 'naturalistic' component, adopting one or another member of a cluster of psychological properties of beliefs as the goal of inquiry and the standard for assessing belief-forming mechanisms. Thus Loeb shows a surprising affinity between the epistemologies of the two figures -- surprising because they are often thought of as polar opposites in this respect. Descartes and Hume are unique in that their philosophical texts are accessible beyond just a narrow audience in the history of philosophy; their ideas continue to be a vital part of the field at large. This volume will thus appeal to advanced students and scholars not just in the history of early modern philosophy but in epistemology and other core areas of the discipline.


Mortal Questions

Author by : Thomas Nagel
Languange : en
Publisher by : Cambridge University Press
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Description : Thomas Nagel's Mortal Questions explores some fundamental issues concerning the meaning, nature and value of human life. Questions about our attitudes to death, sexual behaviour, social inequality, war and political power are shown to lead to more obviously philosophical problems about personal identity, consciousness, freedom, and value. This original and illuminating book aims at a form of understanding that is both theoretical and personal in its lively engagement with what are literally issues of life and death.