Many legal, social, and medical theorists and practitioners, as well as lay people, seem to be concerned with the harmfulness of discriminative practices. However, the philosophical literature on the moral wrongness of discrimination, with a few exceptions, does not focus on harm. In this paper, I examine, and improve, a recent account of wrongful discrimination, which divides into a definition of group discrimination, and a characterisation of its moral wrong-making feature in terms of harm. The resulting account analyses the wrongness (...) of discrimination in terms of intrapersonal comparisons of the discriminatee’s actual, and relevantly counterfactual, well-being levels. I show that the account faces problems from counterfactuals, which can be traced back specifically to the orthodox - comparative, counterfactual, welfarist - concept of harm. I argue that non-counterfactual and non-comparative harm concepts face problems of their own, and don’t fit easily with our best understanding of discrimination; hence they are unsuitable to replace the orthodox concept here. I then propose a non-orthodox - comparative, counterfactual, hybrid - concept of harm, which relies on counterfactual comparisons of ways of being treated. I suggest how such a concept can help us handle the problems from counterfactuals, at least for my account of discrimination. I also show that there are similar proposals in other harm-related debates. An upshot of the paper is thus to corroborate the case for a non-orthodox, hybrid concept of harm, which seems better able to fulfil its functional roles in a variety of contexts. (shrink)
When facing a choice between saving one person and saving many, some people have argued that fairness requires us to decide without aggregating numbers; rather we should decide by coin toss or some form of lottery, or alternatively we should straightforwardly save the greater number but justify this in a non-aggregating contractualist way. This paper expands the debate beyond well-known number cases to previously under-considered probability cases, in which not (only) the numbers of people, but (also) the probabilities of success (...) for saving people vary. It is shown that, in these latter cases, both the coin toss and the lottery lead to what is called an awkward conclusion, which makes probabilities count in a problematic way. Attempts to avoid this conclusion are shown to lead into difficulties as well. Finally, it is shown that while the greater number method cannot be justified on contractualist grounds for probability cases, it may be replaced by another decision method which is so justified. This decision method is extensionally equivalent to maximising expected value and seems to be the least problematic way of dealing with probability cases in a non-aggregating manner. (shrink)
In this paper we distinguish two versions of the non-identity problem: one involving positive well-being and one involving negative well-being. Intuitively, there seems to be a difference between the two versions of the problem. In the negative case it is clear that one ought to cause the better off person to exist. However, it has recently been suggested that this is not so in the positive case. We argue that such an asymmetrical treatment of the two versions should be rejected (...) and that this is evidence against views according to which it is permissible to cause the less well off person to exist in the positive non-identity case. (shrink)
In this study I analyse the performance of a democratic decision-making rule: the weighted majority rule. It assigns to each voter a number of votes that is proportional to her stakes in the decision. It has been shown that, for collective decisions with two options, the weighted majority rule in combination with self-interested voters maximises the common good when the latter is understood in terms of either the sum-total or prioritarian sum of the voters’ well-being. The main result of my (...) study is that this argument for the weighted majority rule — that it maximises the common good — can be improved along the following three main lines. (1) The argument can be adapted to other criteria of the common good, such as sufficientarian, maximin, leximin or non-welfarist criteria. I propose a generic argument for the collective optimality of the weighted majority rule that works for all of these criteria. (2) The assumption of self-interested voters can be relaxed. First, common-interest voters can be accommodated. Second, even if voters are less than fully competent in judging their self-interest or the common interest, the weighted majority rule is weakly collectively optimal, that is, it almost certainly maximises the common good given large numbers of voters. Third, even for smaller groups of voters, the weighted majority rule still has some attractive features. (3) The scope of the argument can be extended to decisions with more than two options. I state the conditions under which the weighted majority rule maximises the common good even in multi-option contexts. I also analyse the possibility and the detrimental effects of strategic voting. Furthermore, I argue that self-interested voters have reason to accept the weighted majority rule. (shrink)
A standard formulation of luck-egalitarianism says that ‘it is [in itself] bad – unjust and unfair – for some to be worse off than others [through no fault or choice of their own]’, where ‘fault or choice’ means substantive responsibility-generating fault or choice. This formulation is ambiguous: one ambiguity concerns the possible existence of a gap between what is true of each worse-off individual and what is true of the group of worse-off individuals, fault or choice-wise, the other concerns the (...) notion of fault. I show that certain ways of resolving these ambiguities lead to counterintuitive results; and that the most plausible way of resolving them leads to a theory of distributive justice in which responsibility plays a role significantly different from that in standard luck-egalitarian thinking. My main conclusion here is that luck-egalitarianism is best formulated as the view that it is [in itself] bad – unjust and unfair – for an individual to be worse off than others if, and only if, her being worse off does not fit the degree to which she is at fault in a not purely prudential sense. (shrink)
This essay asks whether what is good for someone is distinct from her self-perfection, and whether it makes sense to understand either her good or her self-perfection in terms of the other. The essay adopts a traditional naturalistic understanding of perfection. It argues, however, that the conception of human nature that underlies the perfectionist view must be more individualistic than it is often taken to be. It goes on to distinguish individuative from generic features of human nature; because the account (...) includes both types of characteristics, the concluding vision of human nature, and hence human perfection, is deeply individualized. What is good for an individual is linked to the exercise of her nature rather than to desires individuals simply happen to have. (shrink)
We investigate the value of persons. Our primary goal is to chart a path from equal and extreme value to infinite value. We advance two arguments. Each argument offers a reason to think that equal and extreme value are best accounted for if we are infinitely valuable. We then raise some difficult but fruitful questions about the possible grounds or sources of our infinite value, if we indeed have such value.
If “perfectionism” in ethics refers to those normative theories that treat the fulfillment or realization of human nature as central to an account of both goodness and moral obligation, in what sense is “human flourishing” a perfectionist notion? How much of what we take “human flourishing” to signify is the result of our understanding of human nature? Is the content of this concept simply read off an examination of our nature? Is there no place for diversity and individuality? Is the (...) belief that the content of such a normative concept can be determined by an appeal to human nature merely the result of epistemological naiveté? What is the exact character of the connection between human flourishing and human nature? These questions are the ultimate concern of this essay, but to appreciate the answers that will be offered it is necessary to understand what is meant by “human flourishing.” “Human flourishing” is a relatively recent term in ethics. It seems to have developed in the last two decades because the traditional translation of the Greek term eudaimonia as “happiness” failed to communicate clearly that eudaimonia was an objective good, not merely a subjective good. (shrink)
As the pre-eminent Enlightenment philosopher, Kant famously calls on all humans to make up their own minds, independently from the constraints imposed on them by others. Kant's focus, however, is on universal human reason, and he tells us little about what makes us individual persons. In this book, Katharina T. Kraus explores Kant's distinctive account of psychological personhood by unfolding how, according to Kant, we come to know ourselves as such persons. Drawing on Kant's Critical works and on his (...) Lectures and Reflections, Kraus develops the first textually comprehensive and systematically coherent account of our capacity for what Kant calls 'inner experience'. The novel view of self-knowledge and self-formation in Kant that she offers addresses present-day issues in philosophy of mind and will be relevant for contemporary philosophical debates. It will be of interest to scholars of the history of philosophy, as well as of philosophy of mind and psychology. (shrink)
The theories of Locke, Hume and Kant dominate contemporary philosophical discourse on property rights. This is particularly true of applied ethics, where they are used to settle issues from biotech patents to managerial obligations. Within these theories, however, the usual criticisms of private property aren’t even as much as intelligible. Locke, Hume and Kant, I argue, develop claims about property on a model economy that I call “Frontier Town.” They and contemporary authors then apply these claims to capitalist economies. There (...) are two problems with this application: First, we’ll be considering the wrong kind of property: The only property in Frontier Town are means of life. Critics, however, object to property in concentrated capital because they associate only this kind of property with economic coercion and political power. Second, the two economies differ in central features, so that very different claims about empirical consequences and hence about fairness and merit will be plausible for each. This second problem, I argue, is a consequence of the first. I conclude that Frontier Town theories are more likely to distort than to illuminate property issues in capitalist economies. (shrink)
Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen tackles all the major questions concerning luck egalitarianism, providing deep, penetrating and original discussion of recent academic discourses on distributive justice as well as responses to some of the main objections in the literature. It offers a new answer to the “Why equality?” and “Equality of what?” questions, and provides a robust luck egalitarian response to the recent criticisms of luck egalitarianism by social relations egalitarians. This systematic, theoretical introduction illustrates the broader picture of distributive justice and (...) enables the reader to understand the core intuitions underlying, or conflicting with, luck egalitarianism. (shrink)
Over the last twenty years, many political philosophers have rejected the idea that justice is fundamentally about distribution. Rather, justice is about social relations, and the so-called distributive paradigm should be replaced by a new relational paradigm. Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen seeks to describe, refine, and assess these thoughts and to propose a comprehensive form of egalitarianism which includes central elements from both relational and distributive paradigms. He shows why many of the challenges that luck egalitarianism faces reappear, once we try (...) to specify relational egalitarianism more fully. His discussion advances understanding of the nature of the relational ideal, and introduces new conceptual tools for understanding it and for exploring the important question of why it is desirable in the first place to relate as equals. Even severe critics of the distributive understanding of justice will find that this book casts important new light on the ideal to which they subscribe. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that ‘good care’ in residential nursing homes is enacted through different care practices that are either inspired by a ‘professional logic of care’ that aims for justice and non-maleficence in the professional treatment of residents, or by a ‘relational logic of care’, which attends to the relational quality and the meaning of interpersonal connectedness in people’s lives. Rather than favoring one care logic over the other, this paper indicates how important aspects of care are constantly (...) negotiated between different care practices. Based on the intricate everyday negotiations observed during an ethnographic field study at an elderly nursing home in Germany, the paper puts forth the argument that care is always a matter of tinkering with different, sometimes competing ‘goods’. This tinkering process, which unfolds through ‘intuitive deliberation’, ‘situated assessment’ and ‘affective juggling’ is then theorized along the conceptualization of a ‘practical ethics of care’: an ethics which makes no a priori judgments of what may be considered as good or bad care, but instead calls for momentary judgments that are pliable across changing situations. (shrink)
The ‘buck-passing’ account equates the value of an object with the existence of reasons to favour it. As we argued in an earlier paper, this analysis faces the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem: there may be reasons for pro-attitudes towards worthless objects, in particular if it is the pro-attitudes, rather than their objects, that are valuable. Jonas Olson has recently suggested how to resolve this difficulty: a reason to favour an object is of the right kind only if its formulation (...) does not involve any reference to the attitudes for which it provides a reason. We argue that despite its merits, Olson's solution is unsatisfactory. We go on to suggest that the buck-passing account might be acceptable even if the problem in question turns out to be insoluble. (shrink)
Philosophers analyzing standing to blame have argued that in view of a blamer’s own fault she can lack standing to blame another for an act even if the act is blameworthy and that standingless, hypocritical blame is pro tanto morally wrongful. The bearing of these conclusions on standing to praise is yet to receive the attention it deserves. I defend two claims. The first is the conditional claim that if and are true, so are and. The latter are: a praiser (...) can lack the standing to praise herself for an act even if that act is praiseworthy and standingless, hypocritical praise is pro tanto morally wrongful. So I am suggesting that facts about standing to blame reflect more general facts about standing to hold responsible. The second is the claim that and are true. (shrink)
A realist view of numbers often rests on the following thesis: statements like ‘The number of moons of Jupiter is four’ are identity statements in which the copula is flanked by singular terms whose semantic function consists in referring to a number (henceforth: Identity). On the basis of Identity the realists argue that the assertive use of such statements commits us to numbers. Recently, some anti-realists have disputed this argument. According to them, Identity is false, and, thus, we may deny (...) that the relevant statements commit us to numbers. The present paper argues that the correct linguistic analysis of the relevant number statements supports the anti-realist view that Identity is false. However, as will further be shown, pace the anti-realist, this analysis does not establish that such statements do not commit us to numbers after all. (shrink)
ABSTRACTA powerful objection against moral conventionalism says that it gives the wrong reasons for individual rights and duties. The reason why I must not break my promise to you, for example, should lie in the damage to you—rather than to the practice of promising or to all other participants in that practice. Common targets of this objection include the theories of Hobbes, Gauthier, Hooker, Binmore, and Rawls. I argue that the conventionalism of these theories is superficial; genuinely conventionalist theories are (...) not vulnerable to the objection; and genuine moral conventionalism is independently plausible. (shrink)
Developmental psychology currently faces a deep puzzle: most children before 4 years of age fail elicited-response false-belief tasks, but preverbal infants demonstrate spontaneous false-belief understanding. Two main strategies are available: cultural constructivism and early-belief understanding. The latter view assumes that failure at elicited-response false-belief tasks need not reflect the inability to understand false beliefs. The burden of early-belief understanding is to explain why elicited-response false-belief tasks are so challenging for most children under 4 years of age. The goal of this (...) article is to offer a pragmatic framework whose purpose is to discharge this burden. (shrink)
When evaluating the arguer instead of the argument, we soon find ourselves confronted with a puzzling situation: what seems to be a virtue in one argumentative situation could very well be called a vice in another. This paper will present the idea that there are in fact two sets of virtues an arguer has to master—and with them four sometimes very different roles.
If circumstances were always simple and all arguers were always exclusively concerned with cognitive improvement, arguments would probably always be cooperative. However, we have other goals and there are other arguers, so in practice the default seems to be adversarial argumentation. We naturally inhabit the heuristically helpful but cooperation-inhibiting roles of proponents and opponents. We can, however, opt for more cooperative roles. The resources of virtue argumentation theory are used to explain when proactive cooperation is permissible, advisable, and even mandatory (...) – and also when it is not. (shrink)
In this essay, I consider whether the alleged demise of metaphysical realism does actually provide a better way for defending the cognitive status of ethical judgments. I argue that the rejection of a realist ontology and epistemology does not help to establish the claim that ethical knowledge is possible. More specifically, I argue that Hilary Putnam's argument does not succeed in making a case for ethical knowledge. In fact, his account of the procedures by which our valuations are warranted—the criteria (...) of idealized inquiry—ultimately begs the question in a number of crucial ways. Moreover, it prejudices the moral and political discussion in certain ideological respects. Finally, though Putnam has apparently modified to some extent his approach to the issue of realism in recent years, I will point out that these modifications are not fundamental and do not help to advance the case for ethical knowledge. I note also that Martha C. Nussbaum's appeal to Putnam’s argument actually works against her attempt to make a case for an Aristotelian conception of human flourishing. Ultimately, I conclude that metaphysical realism is vital for ethical knowledge. (shrink)
The community has legislatively conferred on external auditors a special but lucrative responsibility to provide fair and independent opinions about management''s preparation of company financial statements. In return, auditors are obliged by professional standards to act with integrity, independently and in the public interest. This study examined 174 auditors'' predisposition to provide just and fair judgements, using Kohlberg''s theory of developmental moral reasoning, one of the most widely accepted theories in justice psychology. Respondents came from five international audit firms in (...) Copenhagen. Results indicated that auditors with pre-conventional or low level of just reasoning or comprised 64 respondents, the largest group in the sample. The pre-conventional level suggests that people will act in their own self-interest and do the right only to avoid punishment. Pre-conventional auditors have the ability to "do deals", advantageous for business. When faced with an ethical crisis, however, auditors as this level will tend to focus on their own needs at the expense of others. The post-conventional or mid level of just reasoning comprised 59 auditors, second largest group in the sample. This level indicates that these auditors have the predisposition to act fairly on principal, particularly when faced with an ethical crisis. The conventional level or mid-just reasoning consisted of 51 auditors. People with a conventional level of just reasoning believe in law and order, the maintenance of the status quo, however they tend not to be critical of laws, nor authority even if those laws and authority are unjust or evil. (shrink)
Katharina Grosse’s It Wasn’t Us was on show at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin, between 14 June, 2020 and 10 January 2021. In the main hall of this nineteenth century train station, now a museum, stood massive, abstractly sculpted, kaleidoscopically painted Styrofoam blocks; parts of the main hall floor, of the outdoor space behind the building, and of the façade of the museum’s extension were also painted kaleidoscopically. Here I shall examine three aspects of this work: its relationship (...) with pictorial, sculptural and architectural works; its links with the Hamburger Bahnhof building; and its interactive character. (shrink)
This book addresses these three issues: What is discrimination?; What makes it wrong?; What should be done about wrongful discrimination? It argues: that there are different concepts of discrimination; that discrimination is not always morally wrong and that when it is, it is so primarily because of its harmful effects.
Feminist argumentation theorists have criticized the Dominant Adversarial Model in argumentation, according to which arguers should take proponent and opponent roles and argue against one another. The model is deficient because it creates disadvantages for feminine gendered persons in a way that causes significant epistemic and practical harms. In this paper, I argue that the problem that these critics have pointed out can be generalized: whenever an arguer is given a role in the argument the associated tasks and norms of (...) which she cannot fulfill, she is liable to suffer morally significant harms. One way to react to this problem is by requiring arguers to set up argument structures and allocate roles so that the argument will be reasons-reflective in as balanced a way as possible. However, I argue that this would create to heavy a burden. Arguers would then habitually have to take on roles that require them to divert time and energy away from the goals that they started arguing for and instead serve the goal of ideal reasons-reflectiveness. At least prima facie arguers should be able to legitimately devote their time and energy towards their own goals. This creates a problem: On the one hand, structures that create morally significant harms for some arguers should be avoided—on the other hand, arguers should be able to take argument-roles that allow them to devote themselves to their own argumentative goals. Fulfilling the second requirement for some arguers will often create the morally significant harms for their interlocutors. There are two possible solutions for this problem: first, arguers might be required to reach free, consensual agreements on the structure they will adopt for their argument and the way they will distribute argumentative roles. I reject this option as both fundamentally unfeasible and practically unrealistic, based on arguments developed by theorists like Krabbe and Jacobs. I argue that instead, we should take a liberal view on argument ethics. Arguers should abide by moral side constraints to their role taking. They should feel free to take roles that will allow them to concentrate on their argumentative goals, but only if this does not create a situation in which their interlocutors are pushed into a role that that they cannot effectively play. (shrink)
This article advocates a new interpretation ofinner experience– the experience that one has of one’s empirical-psychological features ‘from within’ – in Kant. It argues that for Kant inner experience is the empirical cognition of mental states, but not that of a persistent mental substance. The schema of persistence is thereby substituted with the regulative idea of the soul. This view is shown to be superior to two opposed interpretations: the parity view that regards inner experience as empirical cognition of a (...) mental object on a par with outer experience and the disparity view that denies altogether that inner experience is empirical cognition. (shrink)
Katharina D. Giesel befasst sich mit den Fragen, was in den verschiedensten Sozialwissenschaften unter Leitbildern verstanden wird, wie diese Kategorie konzeptionell in Forschungs- und Handlungskonzepte eingebunden wird und inwiefern ...
Anscombe is usually seen as a critic of “Modern Moral Philosophy.” I attempt a systematic reconstruction and a defense of Anscombe’s positive theory. Anscombe’s metaethics is a hybrid of social constructivism and Aristotelian naturalism. Her three main claims are the following: (1) We cannot trace all duties back to one moral principle; there is more than one source of normativity. (2) Whether I have a certain duty will often be determined by the social practices of my community. For instance, duties (...) imposed by other people’s rights are socially constructed. (3) Whether something constitutes a good, however, will often be determined by human nature—which is not socially constructed. (shrink)
In a petty German principality around 1700, an influential Court Jew wants a traditional Hebrew commentary published. The printer he commissions moves shop and starts printing, not aware of severe clerical censorship. With part of the job done he has to move to another location hoping for a more liberal policy there. Within the absolutist system the episode highlights the opportunities and the limits of Court Jew's influence, as well as the prince's wavering between the prospect of profiting from a (...) new trade and the fear of risking covert un-Christian propaganda. (shrink)
This paper examines whether Kant’s Critical philosophy offers resources for a conception of empirical psychology as a theoretical science in its own right, rather than as a part of applied moral philosophy or of pragmatic anthropology. In contrast to current interpretations, this paper argues that Kant’s conception of inner experience provides relevant resources for the theoretical foundation of scientific psychology, in particular with respect to its subject matter and its methodological presuppositions. Central to this interpretation is the regulative idea of (...) the soul, which supplies principles of systematicity at different levels. Firstly, the idea defines the way in which we must reflect on mental beings, i.e., those beings that fall in the domain of psychology. Secondly, it provides a principle for the unification of a systematic body of psychological laws. In consequence, by approaching the object of psychology from the perspective of the self-conscious subject, who––in virtue of being capable of inner experience––first constitutes a psychological reality, Kant’s theory offers an attractive alternative to reductionist conceptions of psychology. (shrink)
Katharina Dück widmet sich in diesem Buch dem umfangreichen Doktrinenschatz des Begriffs „Materia prima“ im Spannungsfeld von Theorie und wiederholbarer Praxis in deutschsprachigen alchemisch-naturkundlichen Sachschriften des 16. Jahrhunderts. Sie trägt damit neue Aspekte zur Debatte des Materialismus in der Frühen Neuzeit bei. Untersucht werden Texte sogenannter Meisterdenker als auch Zeugnisse derer, die bisher wenig berücksichtigt wurden. Dem Corpus Paracelsicum und der Strömung des Paracelsismus wird besondere Beachtung gezollt. Drei rasterartig umrissene Grundmuster, denen die „Materia prima“-Vorstellungen zugeordnet sind, werden ausführlich (...) vorgestellt und dabei Kontinuitäten sowie Transformationen von vorhandenen Materie-Konzepten festgestellt.. (shrink)
Is argumentation essentially adversarial? The concept of a devil's advocate—a cooperative arguer who assumes the role of an opponent for the sake of the argument—serves as a lens to bring into clearer focus the ways that adversarial arguers can be virtuous and adversariality itself can contribute to argumentation's goals. It also shows the different ways arguments can be adversarial and the different ways that argumentation can be said to be "essentially" adversarial.
Although moral relativists often appeal to cases of apparent moral disagreement between members of different communities to motivate their view, accounting for these exchanges as evincing genuine disagreements constitutes a challenge to the coherence of moral relativism. While many moral relativists acknowledge this problem, attempts to solve it so far have been wanting. In response, moral relativists either give up the claim that there can be moral disagreement between members of different communities or end up with a view on which (...) these disagreements have no “epistemic significance” because they are always faultless. This paper introduces an alternative strategy: accounting for disagreement in terms of “metalinguistic negotiation”. It argues that this strategy constitutes a better solution to the challenge disagreement poses for moral relativists because it leads to a nuanced understanding of the epistemic significance of moral disagreement between members of different communities. The upshot is a novel account of disagreement for moral relativists that has consequences for how moral relativism should be understood. (shrink)
Problems arise when applying the current procedural conceptualization of decision-making capacity to paediatric healthcare: Its emphasis on content-neutrality and rational cognition as well as its implicit assumption that capacity is an ability that resides within a person jeopardizes children’s position in decision-making. The purpose of the paper is to challenge this dominant account of capacity and provide an alternative for how capacity should be understood in paediatric care. First, the influence of developmental psychologist Jean Piaget upon the notion of capacity (...) is discussed, followed by an examination of Vygostky’s contextualist view on children’s development, which emphasizes social interactions and learning for decision-making capacity. In drawing parallels between autonomy and capacity, substantive approaches to relational autonomy are presented that underline the importance of the content of a decision. The authors then provide a relational reconceptualization of capacity that leads the focus away from the individual to include important social others such as parents and physicians. Within this new approach, the outcome of adults’ decision-making processes is accepted as a guiding factor for a good decision for the child. If the child makes a choice that is not approved by adults, the new conceptualization emphasizes mutual exchange and engagement by both parties. (shrink)
Bioethicists tend to focus on the individual as the relevant moral subject. Yet, in highly complex and socially differentiated healthcare systems a number of social groups, each committed to a common cause, are involved in medical decisions and sometimes even try to influence bioethical discourses according to their own agenda. We argue that the significance of these collective actors is unjustifiably neglected in bioethics. The growing influence of collective actors in the fields of biopolitics and bioethics leads us to pursue (...) the question as to how collective moral claims can be characterized and justified. We pay particular attention to elaborating the circumstances under which collective actors can claim ‘collective agency.’ Specifically, we develop four normative-practical criteria for collective agency in order to determine the conditions that must be given to reasonably speak of ‘collective autonomy’. For this purpose, we analyze patient organizations and families, which represent two quite different kinds of groups and can both be conceived as collective actors of high relevance for bioethical practice. Finally, we discuss some practical implications and explain why the existence of a shared practice of trust is of immediate normative relevance in this respect. (shrink)