In response to the charge that deontic ("argent-centered") restrictions are paradoxical, several recent writers suggest that such restrictions find support within T.M. Scanlon's contractualism. I suggest that this claim is only interesting if these restrictions are stronger than those supported by indirect consequentialism. I argue that contractualism cannot support restrictions any stronger than those supported by indirect consequentialism. The contractualists have mislocated the source of the paradox, which arises under any theory that defines right action in patient-focused terms. Consequentialism and (...) contractualism share this feature, so contractualism cannot support stronger deontic restrictions than consequentialism supports. (shrink)
: Biomedical ethicists often assume that common morality constitutes a largely consistent normative system. This premise is not taken for granted in general normative ethics. This paper entertains the possibility of inconsistency within common morality and explores methodological implications. Assuming common morality to be inconsistent casts new light on the debate between principlists and descriptivists. One can view the two approaches as complementary attempts to evade or transcend that inconsistency. If common morality proves to be inconsistent, then principlists might have (...) reason to prefer a less pluralistic theory, thereby moving closer to descriptivism. Descriptivists, by contrast, might want to qualify their claim to accommodate all of people's basic moral convictions. Finally, both camps might wish to adopt a more revisionist posture, accepting that an adequate ethical theory occasionally will contradict some of people's deepest moral convictions. Proper application of the method of reflective equilibrium, to which both descriptivists and principlists claim allegiance, may entail greater openness to revisionism than either camp admits. (shrink)
This best-selling anthology of readings with case studies provides insightful and comprehensive treatment of ethical issues in medicine. Appropriate for courses taught in philosophy departments, bioethics programs, as well as schools of medicine and nursing, the collection covers such provocative topics as biomedical enhancement, clinical trials in developing countries, animal research, physician-assisted suicide, and health care reform. The text's effective pedagogical features include chapter introductions, argument sketches, explanations of medical terms, headnotes, and annotated bibliographies.
Retributive restrictions are principles of justice according to which what a criminal deserves on account of his individual conduct and character restricts how states are morally permitted to treat him. The main arguments offered in defense of retributive restrictions involve thought experiments in which the state punishes the innocent, a practice known as telishment. In order to derive retributive restrictions from the wrongness of telishment, one must engage in moral argument from generalization. I show how generalization arguments of the same (...) form can be used subversively to derive morally unacceptable conclusions from other scenarios in which the state intentionally inflicts undeserved coercion. For example, our considered moral convictions approve of punishment policies that inflict collateral damage, such as the ubiquitous policy of excluding the family members of inmates from prison facilities outside visiting hours. I present a generalization argument for the conclusion that these policies are seriously unjust. If we firmly believe that these policies are not unjust, then we should put less stock in generalization arguments. We should not use them to support retributive restrictions. This conclusion has broad implications for the theory and practice of criminal justice. (shrink)
Legal theorists in this century have often perceived a need for a theory capable of occupying a stable middle ground between natural law theory and nineteenth-century legal positivism. The prolific German-American legal philosopher, Hans Kelsen, was perhaps not the first to feel the need for such a theory, but he was certainly among the first to attempt to construct one. n1 Although Kelsen's own efforts failed, in many ways they defined the ambitions of twentieth-century legal theory and inspired others to (...) take up the challenge. In order to understand the nature of the challenge, which confronts us still today, it is helpful to examine central difficulties with Kelsen's own Pure Theory of Law. (shrink)
Aspects of Law and Legal Systems -- Courts and Legal Reasoning -- Making, Justifying, and Evaluating Law -- Law and Individual Obligation -- Private Law -- Criminal Law -- Sentencing and punishment-- Statutes -- Constitutions -- International Law.
Principle monists believe that our moral duties, such as fidelity and non-maleficence, can be justified in terms of one basic moral principle. Principle pluralists disagree, some suggesting that only an excessive taste for simplicity or a desire to mimic natural science could lead one to endorse monism. In Ideal Code, Real World (Oxford, 2000), Brad Hooker defends a monist theory, employing the method of reflective equilibrium to unify the moral duties under a version of rule consequentialism. Hooker's arguments have drawn (...) powerful criticisms from pluralists such as Alan Thomas, Phillip Montague and Philip Stratton-Lake. Against these critics, I argue that Hooker's monism enjoys certain practical advantages associated with the simplicity of a single basic principle. These advantages are often overlooked because they appear primarily in cases of second-order deliberation, in which one must decide whether our basic moral duties support a certain derivative duty. I argue that these advantages of monism over pluralism are analogous to the advantages that generalists claim over moral particularism. Because pluralists are generalists, I conclude that they are in an awkward dialectical position to dismiss Hooker's monism for the reasons they usually offer. (shrink)