This paper argues that contemporary philosophical literature on meaning in life has important implications for the debate about our obligations to non-human animals. If animal lives can be meaningful, then practices including factory farming and animal research might be morally worse than ethicists have thought. We argue for two theses about meaning in life: that the best account of meaningful lives must take intentional action to be necessary for meaning—an individual’s life has meaning if and only if the individual (...) acts intentionally in ways that contribute to finally valuable states of affairs; and that this first thesis does not entail that only human lives are meaningful. Because non-human animals can be intentional agents of a certain sort, our account yields the verdict that many animals’ lives can be meaningful. We conclude by considering the moral implications of these theses for common practices involving animals. (shrink)
The various statements and declarations of the World Medical Association that address conflicts of interest on the part of physicians as (1) researchers, and (2) practitioners, are examined, with particular reference to the October 2000 revision of the Declaration of Helsinki. Recent contributions to the literature, notably on conflicts of interest in medical research, are noted. Finally, key provisions of the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics (2000–2001 Edition) that address the various forms of conflict of interest that can (...) arise in the practice of medicine are outlined. (shrink)
I examine the two-level utilitarian case for humane animal agriculture (by R. M. Hare and Gary Varner) and argue that it fails on its own terms. The case states that, at the ‘intuitive level’ of moral thinking, we can justify raising and killing animals for food, regarding them as replaceable, while treating them with respect. I show that two-level utilitarianism supports, instead, alternatives to animal agriculture. First, the case for humane animal agriculture does not follow from a commitment to two-level (...) utilitarianism combined with a commitment to respecting animal lives. Secondly, the two-level utilitarian case falls prey to a compartmentalization problem and cannot uphold both respect and replaceability. What I call ‘humane lives’ are not appropriately valued by the lights of two-level utilitarianism itself. (shrink)
Urban animals can benefit from living in cities, but this also makes them vulnerable as they increasingly depend on the advantages of urban life. This article has two aims. First, I provide a detailed analysis of the concept of captivity and explain why it matters to nonhuman animals—because and insofar as many of them have a (non-substitutable) interest in freedom. Second, I defend a surprising implication of the account—pushing the boundaries of the concept while the boundaries of cities and (...) class='Hi'>human activities expand. I argue for the existence of the neglected problem of pervasive captivity, of which urban wildlife is an illustration. Many urban animals are confined, controlled and dependent, therefore often captive of expanding urban areas. While I argue that captivity per se is value-neutral, I draw the ethical and policy implications of harmful pervasive captivity. (shrink)
Can animals be agents? Do they want to be free? Can they have meaningful lives? If so, should we change the way we treat them? This paper offers an account of animal agency and of two continuums: between human and nonhuman agency, and between wildness and captivity. It describes how a wide range of human activities impede on animals’ freedom and argues that, in doing so, we deprive a wide range of animals of opportunities to exercise their agency (...) in ways that can give meaning to their lives. (shrink)
Animals who live in cities must coexist with us. They are, as a result, entitled to the conditions of their flourishing. This article argues that, as the boundaries of cities and urban areas expand, the boundaries of our conception of captivity should expand too. Urbanization can undermine animals’ freedoms, hence their ability to live good lives. I draw the implications of an account of “pervasive captivity” against the background of the Capabilities Approach. I construe captivity, including that of urban animals, (...) as affecting a range of animal capabilities, understood as freedoms, and I address some tensions within Nussbaum’s treatment of human-animal conflicts. Using the Capabilities Approach as a guide, I will attempt to motivate a convergence between habitat preservation in urbanized environments, urban design guided by justice, and the individual freedoms of animals. (shrink)
—Commentary on Mikhalevich and Powell on invertebrate minds.— Whether or not arthropods are sentient, they can have moral standing. Appeals to sentience are not necessary and retard progress in human treatment of other species, including invertebrates. Other increasingly well-documented aspects of invertebrate minds are pertinent to their welfare. Even if arthropods are not sentient, they can be agents whose goals—and therefore interests—can be frustrated. This kind of agency is sufficient for moral status and requires that we consider their welfare.
After reviewing the literature on current knowledge about consciousness in humans, we present a state-of-the art discussion on consciousness and related key concepts in animals. Obviously much fewer publications are available on non-human species than on humans, most of them relating to laboratory or wild animal species, and only few to livestock species. Human consciousness is by definition subjective and private. Animal consciousness is usually assessed through behavioural performance. Behaviour involves a wide array of cognitive processes that have (...) to be assessed separately using specific experimental protocols. Accordingly, several processes indicative of the presence of consciousness are discussed: perception and cognition, awareness of the bodily-self, self-related knowledge of the environment (including social environment). When available, specific examples are given in livestock species. Next, we review the existing evidence regarding neuronal correlates of consciousness, and emphasize the difficulty of linking aspects of consciousness to specific neural structures across the phyla because high-level cognitive abilities may have evolved independently along evolution. Several mammalian brain structures (cortex and midbrain) are involved in the manifestations of consciousness, while the equivalent functional structures for birds and fishes would likely be the pallium/tectum and midbrain. Caution is required before excluding consciousness in species not having the same brain structures as the mammalian ones as different neural architectures may mediate comparable processes. Finally, specific neurophysiological mechanisms appear to be strongly linked to the emergence of consciousness, namely neural synchrony and neural feedback. Considering the limited amount of data available and the few animal species studied so far, we conclude that different manifestations of consciousness can be observed in animals but that further refinement is still needed to characterize their level and content in each species. Further research is required to clarify these issues, especially in livestock species. (shrink)
Proponents of humane or traditional husbandry, in contrast to factory farming, often argue that maintaining meaningful relationships with animals entails working with them. Accordingly, they argue that animal liberation is misguided, since it appears to entail erasing our relationships to animals and depriving both us and them of valuable opportunities to live together. This chapter offers a critical examination of defense of animal husbandry based on the value of labour, in particular the view that farm animals could be seen as (...) workers, and what it entails. It then considers ways in which our relationships to domesticated species could be made meaningful, including through work, without entailing the premature killing of animals raised for food. Meaningful animal lives depend on a proper analysis of the meaning, and value, of labour, which this chapter argues is missing from labour-based defenses of humane husbandry. (shrink)
This paper addresses issues in comparing nonhuman animals and severely disabled human beings in terms of their morally relevant characteristics. Through a discussion of the works of Jeff McMahan, Eva Feder Kittay and Martha Nussbaum, the paper offers a defense of the importance and possibility of extending care and compassion to nonhumans without collapsing relevant species differences.
Starting from the typical case of utilitarianism, I distinguish three ways a moral theory may be deemed (over-)demanding: practical, epistemic, and cognitive. I focus on the latter, whose specific nature has been overlooked. Taking animal ethics as a case study, I argue that knowledge of human cognition is critical to spelling out moral theories (including their implications) that are accessible and acceptable to the greatest number of agents. In a nutshell: knowing more about our cognitive apparatus with a view (...) to play better with it. This meta-theoretical suggestion, however, differs from a classical objection drawn from the intuition that a given theory demands too much. -/- //// A partir du cas typique de l’utilitarisme, je distingue trois façons dont une théorie morale pourrait être jugée (trop) exigeante : pratique, épistémique et cognitive. La spécificité de cette dernière – qui fait l’objet de cet article – a été négligée. Je soutiens, en prenant l’exemple de l’éthique animale, que la connaissance de la cognition humaine est essentielle à la formulation de théories morales (et de leurs implications) qui soient accessibles à, et acceptables par, le plus grand nombre d’agents possible. En d’autres termes : comment mieux connaître notre machine cognitive pour mieux jouer avec elle. Cette recommandation méta-théorique se distingue cependant d’une objection classique tirée de l’intuition selon laquelle une théorie exigerait trop de nous. (shrink)
Jocelyne Porcher sets out to “reinvent” our relationship to animals in order to better “live with” them. This article provides a critical examination of her thesis that farm animals can be seen as proper workers, in a sense that precludes the sort of unjust exploitation that she ascribes to factory farming. Contrary to Porcher, the article considers relationships between humans and domesticated species which do not entail killing or even work for food production purposes. The present critique focuses on the (...) distinction between the (industrial) “animal productions” and the (traditional) “husbandry” practices ; the notion of animal worker and its implications ; finally, the assumptions leading Porcher to overlook possible alternative relationships. (shrink)
Duncan Purves and Nicolas Delon have argued that one’s life will be meaningful to the extent that one contributes to valuable states of affairs and this contribution is a result of one’s intentional actions. They then argue, contrary to some theorists’ intuitions, that non-human animals are capable of fulfilling these requirements, and that this finding might entail important things for the animal ethics movement. In this paper, I also argue that things besides human beings can have meaningful (...) existences, but I disagree with Purves and Delon’s theory of meaning, and some of the practical implications they suggest arise from their conclusion. Specifically, I argue that Purves and Delon are wrong to suggest that intentional agency is necessary for one’s life to be meaningful; contributing to valuable states of affairs can be sufficient by itself. Purves and Delon’s objection to such a claim is that it would allow even inanimate objects’ existences to count as meaningful. However, while I accept this... (shrink)
Most people agree that inflicting unnecessary suffering upon animals is wrong. Many fewer people, including among ethicists, agree that painlessly killing animals is necessarily wrong. The most commonly cited reason is that death (without pain, fear, distress) is not bad for them in a way that matters morally, or not as significantly as it does for persons, who are self-conscious, make long-term plans and have preferences about their own future. Animals, at least those that are not persons, lack a morally (...) significant interest in continuing to live. At the same time, some argue that existence itself can be good, insofar as one’s life is worth living. For animals, a good life can offset a quick, if early, death. So, it seems to follow that breeding happy animals that will be (prematurely) killed can be a good thing overall. Insofar as slaughter and sale makes it economically sustainable to raise new ones, who would otherwise not exist, raising and killing animals for food who will have lives worth living is good overall. It benefits them as well as consumers, and makes the world better by adding to the sum of happiness. The process of raising and killing animals with positive welfare produces a sequence of replacement that maintains or increases overall welfare, all else being equal (assuming in particular no overall negative impact on the welfare of other parties). Call this the Replaceability Argument (RA) and the ensuing controversy the Replaceability Problem (RP). This is a problem at the crossroads of the ethics of killing, agricultural ethics, procreation ethics, and population ethics. (shrink)
Non-perfect separably closed fields are stable, and not superstable. As a result, not all types can be ranked. We develop here a new tool, a "semi-rank", which takes values in the non-negative reals, and gives a sufficient condition for forking of types. This semi-rank is built up from a transcendence function, analogous to the one considered by Kolchin in the context of differentially closed fields. It yields some orthogonality and stratification results. /// Un corps séparablement clos non algébriquement clos est (...) stable sans être superstable. Cela signifie que seuls certains de ses types sont rangés. Nous développons un autre outil, un "semi-rang" à valeurs réelles, qui donne un critère de déviation des types. Ce semi-rang est construit à partir d'un analogue de la fonction de Kolchin associée à un type au-dessus d'un corps différentiel. Il produit des résultats de stratification des modèles et des résultats d'orthogonalité. (shrink)
Most people believe that suffering is intrinsically bad. In conjunction with facts about our world and plausible moral principles, this yields a pro tanto obligation to reduce suffering. This is the intuitive starting point for the moral argument in favor of interventions to prevent wild animal suffering. If we accept the moral principle that we ought, pro tanto, to reduce the suffering of all sentient creatures, and we recognize the prevalence of suffering in the wild, then we seem committed to (...) the existence of such a pro tanto obligation. Of course, competing values such as the aesthetic, scientific or moral values of species, biodiversity, naturalness or wildness, might be relevant to the all-things-considered case for or against intervention. Still, many argue that, even if we were to give some weight to such values, no plausible theory could resist the conclusion that WAS is overridingly important. This article is concerned with large-scale interventions to prevent WAS and their tractability and the deep epistemic problem they raise. We concede that suffering gives us a reason to prevent it where it occurs, but we argue that the nature of ecosystems leaves us with no reason to predict that interventions would reduce, rather than exacerbate, suffering. We consider two interventions, based on gene editing technology, proposed as holding promise to prevent WAS; raise epistemic concerns about them; discuss their potential moral costs; and conclude by proposing a way forward: to justify interventions to prevent WAS, we need to develop models that predict the effects of interventions on biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and animals’ well-being. (shrink)
Michael Ignatieff draws on his extensive experience as a writer and commentator on world affairs to present a penetrating account of the successes, failures, and prospects of the human rights revolution. Since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this revolution has brought the world moral progress and broken the nation-state's monopoly on the conduct of international affairs. But it has also faced challenges. Ignatieff argues that human rights activists have rightly drawn (...) criticism from Asia, the Islamic world, and within the West itself for being overambitious and unwilling to accept limits. It is now time, he writes, for activists to embrace a more modest agenda and to reestablish the balance between the rights of states and the rights of citizens.Ignatieff begins by examining the politics of human rights, assessing when it is appropriate to use the fact of human rights abuse to justify intervention in other countries. He then explores the ideas that underpin human rights, warning that human rights must not become an idolatry. In the spirit of Isaiah Berlin, he argues that human rights can command universal assent only if they are designed to protect and enhance the capacity of individuals to lead the lives they wish. By embracing this approach and recognizing that state sovereignty is the best guarantee against chaos, Ignatieff concludes, Western nations will have a better chance of extending the real progress of the past fifty years. Throughout, Ignatieff balances idealism with a sure sense of practical reality earned from his years of travel in zones of war and political turmoil around the globe.Based on the Tanner Lectures that Ignatieff delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2000, the book includes two chapters by Ignatieff, an introduction by Amy Gutmann, comments by four leading scholars--K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur, and Diane F. Orentlicher--and a response by Ignatieff. (shrink)
Is suffering really bad? The late Derek Parfit argued that we all have reasons to want to avoid future agony and that suffering is in itself bad both for the one who suffers and impersonally. Nietzsche denied that suffering was intrinsically bad and that its value could even be impersonal. This paper has two aims. It argues against what I call ‘Realism about the Value of Suffering’ by drawing from a broadly Nietzschean debunking of our evaluative attitudes, showing that a (...) recently influential response to the debunking challenge (the appeal to phenomenal introspection) fails. It also argues that a Nietzschean approach is well suited to support the challenge and is bolstered by the empirical literature. As strangers to ourselves, we cannot know whether suffering is really intrinsically bad for us. (shrink)
We give a complete description of minimal groups infinitely definable in separably closed fields of finite degree of imperfection. In particular we answer positively the question of the existence of such a group with infinite transcendence degree (i.e., a minimal group with non thin generic).
How do we know what we "know"? How did we –as individuals and as a society – come to accept certain knowledge as fact? In _Human Knowledge,_ Bertrand Russell questions the reliability of our assumptions on knowledge. This brilliant and controversial work investigates the relationship between ‘individual’ and ‘scientific’ knowledge. First published in 1948, this provocative work contributed significantly to an explosive intellectual discourse that continues to this day.
In Studying Human Behavior, Helen E. Longino enters into the complexities of human behavioral research, a domain still dominated by the age-old debate of “nature versus nurture.” Rather than supporting one side or another or attempting..
[DRAFT / no longer under review / getting messy / feedback welcome ] This paper defends a relational account of personhood. I argue that the structure of personhood consists of dyadic relations between persons who can wrong or be wronged by one another, even if some of them lack moral competence. I draw on recent work on directed duties to outline the structure of moral communities of persons. The upshot is that we can construct an inclusive theory of personhood that (...) can accommodate nonhuman persons based on shared community membership. I argue that, once we unpack the internal relation between directed duties, moral status, and flourishing, relations can ground personhood. Both the basis and the form of personhood are relational, and both can eschew anthropocentrism. (shrink)
What should we make of claims by members of other groups to have moralities different from our own? Human Rights in Chinese Thought gives an extended answer to this question in the first study of its kind. It integrates a full account of the development of Chinese rights discourse - reaching back to important, though neglected, origins of that discourse in 17th and 18th century Confucianism - with philosophical consideration of how various communities should respond to contemporary Chinese claims (...) about the uniqueness of their human rights concepts. The book elaborates a plausible kind of moral pluralism and demonstrates that Chinese ideas of human rights do indeed have distinctive characteristics, but it nonetheless argues for the importance and promise of cross-cultural moral engagement. (shrink)
Dans On What Matters Parfit défénd un objectivisme moral sur lequel il espère que les philosophes finiront par converger. Au cœur de cet espoir sont des vérités normatives irréductibles telles que l’affirmation que la souffrance est intrinsèquement mauvaise. Parfit se demande si Nietzsche menace son édifice et lui consacre un chapitre entier chapeautant la discussion du désaccord moral et de la convergence, et conclut que Nietzsche soit n’est pas en vrai désaccord, soit ne raisonne pas dans des conditions satisfaisantes. Je (...) mets ici à l’épreuve la prédiction de convergence de Parfit et montre que Nietzsche pose une menace encore plus sérieuse que ne le prétend Parfit. Je montre que l’idée que la souffrance peut être bonne est intelligible, cohérente et plus complexe que la lecture de Parfit ne le révèle. (shrink)
Proposals to make us smarter than the greatest geniuses or to add thousands of years to our life spans seem fit only for the spam folder or trash can. And yet this is what contemporary advocates of radical enhancement offer in all seriousness. They present a variety of technologies and therapies that will expand our capacities far beyond what is currently possible for human beings. In _Humanity's End,_ Nicholas Agar argues against radical enhancement, describing its destructive consequences. Agar examines (...) the proposals of four prominent radical enhancers: Ray Kurzweil, who argues that technology will enable our escape from human biology; Aubrey de Grey, who calls for anti-aging therapies that will achieve "longevity escape velocity"; Nick Bostrom, who defends the morality and rationality of enhancement; and James Hughes, who envisions a harmonious democracy of the enhanced and the unenhanced. Agar argues that the outcomes of radical enhancement could be darker than the rosy futures described by these thinkers. The most dramatic means of enhancing our cognitive powers could in fact kill us; the radical extension of our life span could eliminate experiences of great value from our lives; and a situation in which some humans are radically enhanced and others are not could lead to tyranny of posthumans over humans. (shrink)
In this original and provocative account of the evolutionary origins of human communication, Michael Tomasello connects the fundamentally cooperative structure of human communication (initially discovered by Paul Grice) to the especially ...
This paper challenges a widespread, if tacit, assumption of animal ethics, namely, that the only properties of entities that matter to their moral status are intrinsic, cross‐specific properties—typically psychological capacities. According to moral individualism (Rachels 1990; McMahan 2002; 2005), the moral status of an individual, and how to treat him or her, should only be a function of his or her individual properties. I focus on the fundamental assumption of moral individualism, which I call intrinsicalism. On the challenged view, pigs, (...) puppies and babies, insofar as they are intrinsically similar in morally relevant respects are equally deserving of having their interests satisfied (Norcross 2004). Moreover, relationships—merely agent-relative—are assumed to be irrelevant to moral status. I argue that, while some intrinsic properties are indeed fundamentally relevant, the principled exclusion of extrinsic properties (in virtue of extrinsicness) is unwarranted. From uncontroversial assumptions about supervenience, final value, and moral status, I argue for the relevance of extrinsic properties to moral status based on vulnerability and “reasonable partiality”, as illustrated by pet-keeping. (shrink)
Social change is slow and difficult. Social change for animals is formidably slow and difficult. Advocates and scholars alike have long tried to change attitudes and convince the public that eating animals is wrong. The topic of norms and social change for animals has been neglected, which explains in part the relative failure of the animal protection movement to secure robust support reflected in social and legal norms. Moreover, animal ethics has suffered from a disproportionate focus on individual attitudes and (...) behavior at the expense of collective behavior, social change, and empirical psychology. If what we want to change is behavior on a large scale, norms are important tools. This article reviews an account of social norms that provides insights into the possibility and limitations of social change for animals, approaching animal protection as a problem of reverse social engineering. It highlights avenues for future work from this neglected perspective. (shrink)
Developments in medical science have afforded us the opportunity to improve and enhance the human species in ways unthinkable to previous generations. Whether it's making changes to mitochondrial DNA in a human egg, being prescribed Prozac, or having a facelift, our desire to live longer, feel better and look good has presented philosophers, medical practitioners and policy-makers with considerable ethical challenges. But what exactly constitutes human improvement? What do we mean when we talk of making "better" humans? (...) In this book Michael Hauskeller explores these questions and the ideas of human good that underpin them. Posing some challenging questions about the nature of human enhancement, he interrogates the logic behind its processes and examines the justifications behind its criteria. Questioning common assumptions about what constitutes human improvement, Hauskeller asks whether the criteria proposed by its advocates are convincing. The book draws on recent research as well as popular representations of human enhancement from advertising to the internet, and provides a non-technical and accessible survey of the issues for readers and students interested in the ethics and politics of human enhancement. (shrink)
Starting from a distinction between intrinsic and final value, I explore the implications of the supervenience of final value on extrinsic properties regarding moral status. I make a case for ‘extrinsic moral status’ based on ‘extrinsic final value’. I show that the assumption of ‘moral individualism’, that moral status supervenes merely on intrinsic properties, is misguided, and results from a conflation of intrinsic with final value. I argue that at least one extrinsic property, namely vulnerability, can be the basis of (...) both final value and moral status, and that dependence on such extrinsic properties is compatible with the requirement of agent-neutrality. (shrink)
In the third edition of ‘Practical Ethics’ (2011), Peter Singer reexamines the so-called “replaceability argument,” according to which merely sentient beings, as opposed to persons (self-conscious and with a robust sense of time), are replaceable—it is in principle permissible to kill them provided that they live pleasant lives that they would not have had otherwise and that they be replaced by equally happy beings. On this view, existence is a benefit and death is not a harm. Singer’s challenge is to (...) avoid (i) the replaceability of persons while preserving the replaceability of merely sentient beings, (ii) the implication that parents are morally required to procreate if they can have happy children, and (iii) to do avoid these implications without having the proposed solution (the “debit view” of preferences) imply negative utilitarianism, or the conclusion that a nonsentient universe is better than any sentient universe. I review Singer’s changing views since 1975 and I argue that his attempt to avoid the replaceability of persons fails: either both non-persons and persons are replaceable or neither are. Singer can only avoid this conclusion by appealing to controversial metaethical claims (attitude-independent moral objectivism) and/or giving up on essential features of utilitarianism. (shrink)
Many debates about the moral status of things—for example, debates about the natural rights of human fetuses or nonhuman animals—eventually migrate towards a discussion of the capacities of the things in question—for example, their capacities to feel pain, think, or love. Yet the move towards capacities is often controversial: if a human’s capacities are the basis of its moral status, how could a human having lesser capacities than you and I have the same "serious" moral status as (...) you and I? This book answers this question by arguing that if something is human, it has a set of typical human capacities; that if something has a set of typical human capacities, it has serious moral status; and thus all human beings have the same sort of serious moral status as you and I. Beginning from what our common intuitions tell us about situations involving "temporary incapacitation"—where a human organism has, then loses, then regains a certain capacity—this book argues for substantive conclusions regarding human fetuses and embryos, humans in a permanent vegetative state, humans suffering from brain diseases, and humans born with genetic disorders. Since these conclusions must have some impact on our ongoing moral and political debates about the proper treatment of such humans, this book will be useful to professionals and students in philosophy, bioethics, law, medicine, and public policy. (shrink)
Human microbiome research has revealed that legions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi live on our skin and within the cavities of our bodies. New knowledge from these recent studies shows that humans are superorganisms and that the microbiome is indispensible to our lives and our health. This volume explores some of the science on the human microbiome and considers the ethical, legal, and social concerns that are raised by this research.
In this major book Martha Nussbaum, one of the most innovative and influential philosophical voices of our time, proposes a kind of feminism that is genuinely international, argues for an ethical underpinning to all thought about development planning and public policy, and dramatically moves beyond the abstractions of economists and philosophers to embed thought about justice in the concrete reality of the struggles of poor women. Nussbaum argues that international political and economic thought must be sensitive to gender difference as (...) a problem of justice, and that feminist thought must begin to focus on the problems of women in the third world. Taking as her point of departure the predicament of poor women in India, she shows how philosophy should undergird basic constitutional principles that should be respected and implemented by all governments, and used as a comparative measure of quality of life across nations. (shrink)
"Human dignity" has been enshrined in international agreements and national constitutions as a fundamental human right. The World Medical Association calls on physicians to respect human dignity and to discharge their duties with dignity. And yet human dignity is a term--like love, hope, and justice--that is intuitively grasped but never clearly defined. Some ethicists and bioethicists dismiss it; other thinkers point to its use in the service of particular ideologies. In this book, Michael Barilan offers an (...) urgently needed, nonideological, and thorough conceptual clarification of human dignity and human rights, relating these ideas to current issues in ethics, law, and bioethics. Combining social history, history of ideas, moral theology, applied ethics, and political theory, Barilan tells the story of human dignity as a background moral ethos to human rights. After setting the problem in its scholarly context, he offers a hermeneutics of the formative texts on Imago Dei; provides a philosophical explication of the value of human dignity and of vulnerability; presents a comprehensive theory of human rights from a natural, humanist perspective; explores issues of moral status; and examines the value of responsibility as a link between virtue ethics and human dignity and rights. Barilan accompanies his theoretical claim with numerous practical illustrations, linking his theory to such issues in bioethics as end-of-life care, cloning, abortion, torture, treatment of the mentally incapacitated, the right to health care, the human organ market, disability and notions of difference, and privacy, highlighting many relevant legal aspects in constitutional and humanitarian law. (shrink)
This essay examines the relationship between climate change and human rights. It argues that climate change is unjust, in part, because it jeopardizes several core rights – including the right to life, the right to food and the right to health. It then argues that adopting a human rights framework has six implications for climate policies. To give some examples, it argues that this helps us to understand the concept of “dangerous anthropogenic interference” (UNFCCC, Article 2). In addition (...) to this, it argues that if we adopt a human rights framework then any climate policies should also honour human rights, and so mitigation policies, for example, should not compromise people’s enjoyment of their human rights. A third implication, I argue, is that in addition to duties of mitigation and adaptation there will also be – if rights are violated – duties of compensation too. (shrink)
"These essays make a splendid book. Ignatieff's lectures are engaging and vigorous; they also combine some rather striking ideas with savvy perceptions about actual domestic and international politics.
Should laws about sex and pornography be based on social conventions about what is disgusting? Should felons be required to display bumper stickers or wear T-shirts that announce their crimes? This powerful and elegantly written book, by one of America's most influential philosophers, presents a critique of the role that shame and disgust play in our individual and social lives and, in particular, in the law.Martha Nussbaum argues that we should be wary of these emotions because they are associated in (...) troubling ways with a desire to hide from our humanity, embodying an unrealistic and sometimes pathological wish to be invulnerable. Nussbaum argues that the thought-content of disgust embodies "magical ideas of contamination, and impossible aspirations to purity that are just not in line with human life as we know it." She argues that disgust should never be the basis for criminalizing an act, or play either the aggravating or the mitigating role in criminal law it currently does. She writes that we should be similarly suspicious of what she calls "primitive shame," a shame "at the very fact of human imperfection," and she is harshly critical of the role that such shame plays in certain punishments.Drawing on an extraordinarily rich variety of philosophical, psychological, and historical references--from Aristotle and Freud to Nazi ideas about purity--and on legal examples as diverse as the trials of Oscar Wilde and the Martha Stewart insider trading case, this is a major work of legal and moral philosophy. (shrink)
Commentary on Kyle Johannsen, Wild Animal Ethics (Routledge, 2020). I want to unpack what we should understand by wild animal well-being, and how different interpretations of what matters about it shape the sorts of interventions we endorse. I will not offer a theory of wild animal well-being or even take a stance on the best approach to theories of well-being as they pertain to wild animals. My aim is to bring into view a concern that WAE has largely overlooked: agency (...) and freedom. To Johannsen’s credit, the issue of liberties does feature in his Wild Animal Ethics (2020) (36–39, 41, 47). The interventions that he favors are those that, for a given amount of harm prevention, involve fewer liberty infringements. Liberties can act, to an extent, as constraints on permissible interventions. For all that, Johannsen’s primary focus remains welfare in a sense that does not appear to give much consideration to agency. Fortunately, his approach is open-ended enough to accommodate some of my concerns. My hope is that he sees them as possible ways of specifying the duties of beneficence, if not justice, that he rightly argues we have to wild animals. (shrink)