Our purpose in this paper is to consider a procedural objection to the death penalty. According to this objection, even if the death penalty is deemed, substantively speaking, a morally acceptable punishment for at least some murderers, since only a small proportion of those guilty of aggravated murder are sentenced to death and executed, while the majority of murderers escape capital punishment as a result of arbitrariness and discrimination, capital punishment should be abolished. Our targets in this paper are two (...) recent attempts, by Thomas Hurka and Michael Cholbi respectively, to defend the view that âlevelling downâ (that is, reducing the punishment imposed on a criminal from the punishment he absolutely deserves to a less severe punishment in order to achieve proportionality relative to the criminals who have escaped the punishment they absolutely deserve) is, in the context of capital punishment, morally permissible. We argue that both Hurka and Cholbi fail to show why the arbitrariness and discrimination objection impugns the death penalty. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to determine whether fixed courses of judicial corporal punishment and non-abusive corporal punishment of children amount to torture. I assess the reasons that have been offered for distinguishing fixed courses of JCP from torture and argue that none is successful. I argue that non-consensual JCP that inflicts severe pain is appropriately classifiable as torture, but that JCP that inflicts mild pain and entirely consensual JCP are not torturous. I consider whether any of the reasons (...) offered for distinguishing JCP from torture can distinguish non-abusive CPC from torture given certain important differences between CPC and JCP. I submit that none of these reasons is successful. I consider other possible reasons for distinguishing non-abusive CPC that inflicts severe pain from torture and argue that none is successful. I conclude that fixed courses of non-consensual JCP which inflict severe pain and non-abusive CPC that inflicts severe pain are correctly classifiable as torture. (shrink)
In The Ethics of Capital Punishment: A Philosophical Investigation of Evil and Its Consequences, Matthew Kramer argues that none of the standard rationales used to justify capital punishment successfully vindicates it and that a new justification, the purgative rationale, justifies capital punishment for defilingly evil offenders. In this article, it is argued, first, that a version of retributivism that adheres to the lex talionis as Kramer understands it does seem to call exclusively for the death penalty. Second, it is submitted (...) that the purgative rationale is over-inclusive inasmuch as Kramer considers it applicable to certain offenders with abusive or deprived backgrounds, some offenders indoctrinated to adhere to pernicious ideologies that have impelled their crimes, and wrongdoers who have sincerely repented. Third, doubts are expressed about whether the purgative rationale justifies the execution of any offenders. Even if it is true that the continued existence of an extravagantly evil offender represents an affront to humanity, as Kramer suggests, a moral obligation to execute him does not follow. Since repentance is intrinsically valuable and since repentance would extinguish the affront to humanity, the community in which an unrepentant evil offender abides is duty-bound to foster repentance on the part of the offender by imposing banishment or life imprisonment, sanctions that afford the offender the most extensive opportunity for repentance. The community is therefore obligated to impose one of these sanctions instead of capital punishment. (shrink)
Many people have the intuition that the failure to impose punishment on perpetrators of such serious human rights violations as murder, torture and rape that occurred in the course of violent conflict preceding a society’s transition from authoritarianism to democracy amounts to an injustice. This intuition is to an appreciable extent accounted for by the retributivist outlook of a high proportion of those who share it. Colleen Murphy, however, though she accepts that retributivism may justify punishment of offenders in stable (...) democracies, claims in her recent book on transitional justice that retributivism is inapplicable in the circumstances of transitional justice. I argue that the four arguments she provides in support of this claim are unsuccessful and that retributivism, assuming it to be a tenable rationale for punishment, justifies the subjection of perpetrators of at least some serious human rights abuses to sanctions in at least some transitional societies. (shrink)
Our purpose in this article is to draw attention to a connection that obtains between two dilemmas from two separate spheres: sports and the law. It is our contention that umpires in the game of cricket may face a dilemma that is similar to a dilemma confronted by legal decision makers and that comparing the nature of the dilemmas, and the arguments advanced to solve them, will serve to advance our understanding of both the law and games.
I assess the justification for the granting of amnesty in the circumstances of ‘transitional justice’ advanced by certain of its supporters according to which this device is morally legitimate because it amounts to an act of mercy. I consider several prominent definitions of ‘mercy’ with a view to determining whether amnesty counts as mercy under each and what follows for its moral status. I argue that amnesty cannot count as mercy under any definition in accordance with which an act or (...) practice’s amounting to mercy lends it justificatory support, while its qualifying as mercy under certain morally neutral definitions provides no basis for considering it justified. (shrink)
Certain philosophers have argued in favour of recognising a right to freedom of conscience that includes a defeasible right of individuals to live in accordance with their perceived moral duties. This right requires the government to exempt people from general laws or regulations that prevent them from acting consistently with their perceived moral duties. The importance of protecting individuals’ integrity is sometimes invoked in favour of accommodating conscience. I argue that personal integrity is valuable since autonomy, identity and self-respect are (...) all dependent on the preservation of personal integrity. I respond to two objections, one pressed by Andrew Koppelman and the other by Richard Arneson, to the claim that personal integrity is valuable, and to a further argument by Arneson to the effect that it is unfair to others claiming accommodations to exempt those with conscience-based claims. (shrink)
Most philosophers who have expressed a view about whether forgiveness is compatible with forgivers’ continuing to punish, or support the punishment of, people who have wronged them hold that forgiveness is compatible with punishing or favouring punishment of wrongdoers. I argue that whether forgiveness entails forbearing punishment depends on which of two senses of forgiveness is operative. On the first, sentiment-based sense of forgiveness as consisting essentially in a change of heart on the part of a victim, a victim can, (...) I submit, forgive while continuing to punish or to support the punishment of a person who has wronged her. On the second sense of forgiveness as consisting in debt remission whether or not accompanied by a change of heart, the state’s remission of the entirety of criminal offenders’ punishment qualifies as forgiveness and, moreover, the state could not forgive offenders in this sense while continuing to punish them. (shrink)
Neo- pragmatists Richard Rorty and Stanley Fish have recently argued that philosophy has no consequences for legal practice (except, in the case of Fish, insofar as it carries rhetorical force). They have asserted not only that philosophy cannot provide absolute metaphysical foundations for legal practice, but also that philosophy cannot be used to criticise law. This essay examines Fish and Rorty's reasons for denying the practical force of philosophy. Although I agree with Rorty and Fish's non-foundationalism, I argue that in (...) practice lawyers employ discursive categories and concepts that can be described as philosophical. I suggest also that philosophy has a critical function and that the characterization of philosophy offered by these theorists amounts to a conservative assertion of the formal completeness and substantive justice of existing liberal legal systems. Against Fish and Rorty, I argue and selectively demonstrate that lawyers can usefully draw upon 'public ironists' such as Nietzsche, Foucault and Derrida to criticise and improve upon extant legal practices. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.22(1) 2003: 82-97. (shrink)
In this paper I consider arguments advanced by supporters of corporal punishment and argue that they have failed to show that this practice is justified on either consequentialist or retributivist grounds. Not only are there alternative punishments that bring about as much (if not more) benefit at a lower cost, but corporal punishment poses a risk of psychological harm to children and violates children’s rights. I conclude that corporal punishment is morally impermissible and that it ought to be criminalized.
This volume reveals the wisdom we can learn from sailing, a sport that pits human skills against the elements, tests the mettle and is a rich source of valuable lessons in life. Unravels the philosophical mysteries behind one of the oldest organized human activities Features contributions from philosophers and academics as well as from sailors themselves Enriches appreciation of the sport by probing its meaning and value Brings to life the many applications of philosophy to sailing and the profound lessons (...) it can teach us A thought-provoking read for sailors and philosophers alike. (shrink)
As J. Baird Callicott has argued, Adam Smith’s moral theory is a philosophical ancestor of recent work in environmental ethics. However, Smith’s “all important emotion of sympathy” (Callicott 2001: 209) seems incapable of extension to entities that lack emotions with which one can sympathize. Drawing on the distinctive account of sympathy developed in Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments , as well as his account of anthropomorphizing nature in “History of Astronomy and Physics,” I show that sympathy with non-sentient nature is (...) possible within a Smithian ethics. This provides the possibility of extending sympathy, and thereby benevolence and justice, to nature. (shrink)
Hugh Connelly, An authentic Celtic voice : the Irish penitential and contemporary discourse on reconciliation -- Padraig Corkery, Bio-ethics and contemporary Irish moral discourse -- Amelia Fleming, The silent voice of creation and moral discourse. -- Raphael Gallagher, CSsR., A church silence in sexual moral discourse? -- Donal Harrington, Moral discourse and journalism. -- Linda Hogan, Contemporary humanitarianism: neutral or impartial? -- Vincent MacNamara, On having a religious morality. -- Enda McDonagh, A discourse on the centrality of justice in moral (...) theology. -- Suzanne Mulligan, Moral discourse in a time of AIDS. (shrink)
One of the striking features of the last few years has been a re-awakening of interest in spirituality. Many new books on prayer have appeared, old classics of the spiritual life have been re-published, prayer groups have sprung up and the Charismatic Movement has become an important factor in many Christian communities. If the 1960s was the decade of secularism and ‘God is dead’, the 1970s may well go down in history as the decade of renascent spirituality. But this interest (...) in spirituality has not, in general, gone hand in hand with a renewed interest in theology: indeed, in many cases I detect a positive hostility towards professional theologians . Still less has there been any link between this concern with spirituality and philosophy. And yet there are many important philosophical problems here: given that in a spiritual way of life men have certain experiences and are changed in various ways, what does this show? (shrink)
Russian public opinion in the first half of the nineteenth century was buffeted by a complex of cultural, psychological, and historiosophical dilemmas that destabilized many conventions about Russia's place in universal history. This article examines one response to these dilemmas: the Slavophile reconfiguration of Eastern Christianity as a modern religion of theocentric freedom and moral progress. Drawing upon methods of contextual analysis, the article challenges the usual scholarly treatment of Slavophile religious thought as a vehicle to address extrahistorical concerns by (...) placing the writings of A. S. Khomiakov and I. V. Kireevskii in the discursive and ideological framework in which they originated and operated. As such, the article considers the atheistic revolution in consciousness advocated by Russian Hegelians, the Schellingian proposition that human freedom and moral advancement were dependent upon the living God, P. Ia. Chaadaev's contention that a people's religious orientation determined its historical potential, and the Slavophile appropriation of Russia's dominant confession to resolve the problem of having attained historical consciousness in an age of historical stasis. (shrink)
The Naked Self is a great book. It is good Kierkegaard scholarship and an excellent model of bringing history of philosophy to bear on contemporary metaphysics. After a stage-setting introduction, the book has eight main chapters and a conclusion including questions and answers from an imagined interlocutor. Stokes takes the reader from how “Kierkegaard’s phenomenology of self-experience may… be a useful resource for neo-Lockean metaphysics” to a sustained defense that “Kierkegaard himself is playing a different, and altogether more interesting, game”.Stokes’s (...) boldness is evident in his title, which remains mysterious until late in the book. Stokes draws on two key passages... (shrink)
In his article ‘Infallibility’ A. P. Martinich has argued that the logical character of infallible utterances has been generally misunderstood. Opponents and supporters of the doctrine of papal infallibility have both assumed, he claims, that infallible utterances are statements; but this is incorrect, for such utterances are not statements, but declarations. Consideration of this point, he believes, would enable us to see that the doctrine of papal infallibility is both coherent and correct.
The title of A. P. Martinich's article is a misnomer. What he is defending is not the doctrine of infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council and as understood by Roman Catholic theologians, but his own highly personal and, to my mind, entirely mistaken interpretation of the doctrine. This interpretation derives from the fact that some purportedly infallible utterances contain the expression ‘we declare that…’. This leads Martinich to believe that such utterances are declarations rather than statements and since (...) declarations, as he appears to understand the term, create facts rather than express them, he concludes that it is logically impossible for an ‘infallible utterance’ to be false. The papal claim to infallibility is thus no longer open to question since ‘the fact-making quality of infallible utterances guarantees their correctness’. (shrink)
A review of Peter Steele’s Plenty, a book in which each poem is faced by a colour plate of the painting or object which sparked it off. Hollander’s ecphrasis and Krieger’s ekphrasis are held in – possibly unresolvable – dialectic by Steele’s poems. The only resolution which one can find is one of wit rather than of philosophy.
No vive la descentralización un buen momento. Contra ella se han enfilado potentes baterías que quieren limitarla. La responsabilizan, sin razón, de ser la causante del enorme déficit fiscal de la Nación. El presidente Uribe considera que “Esa fórmula es insostenible. Si me dicen que hay que regresar a esa fórmula yo no me siento capaz de despejar el futuro macroeconómico de la Nación en este Gobierno.” Así que de nuevo los medios de financiación de la descentralización están en discusión. (...) Por la importancia que tiene esta iniciativa para el futuro de municipios y departamentos, es previsible que se convierta en uno de los puntos centrales del debate nacional de los próximos meses. Aunque nadie desconoce la necesidad de descentralizar y todos reconocen los logros alcanzados a partir del comienzo del proceso en 1986, los recursos que le dan viabilidad y la sostienen corren graves peligros. (shrink)