Although microfinance organizations are generally considered as inherently ethical, recent events have challenged the legitimacy of the sector. High interest rates and the excessive profitability of some market leaders have raised the question of how to define a fair profit level for social enterprise. In this article, we construct a fair profit framework based on four dimensions: profitability, social mission, pricing, and surplus distribution. We then apply this framework using an empirical sample of 496 microfinance institutions. Results indicate that satisfying (...) all four criteria is a difficult, although not impossible, task. According to our framework, 24 MFIs emerge as true double bottom line organizations. These MFIs are characterized by higher outreach to women, lower portfolio risk, and higher productivity in high-density environments such as South Asia. We argue that excessive profits can be better understood relative to pricing, the outreach of the MFI, and organizational commitment to clients in the form of reduced interest rates. (shrink)
Investors with standard monetary preferences will give a fund manager incentives to increase firm profits, which can be achieved through a share in profits via carried interest. When investors have social preferences, it is not clear which incentives the manager should receive. We explore this puzzle by applying an agency theory perspective to impact investing, a practice where investors seek both financial returns and a measurable social or environmental impact. Using an inductive, qualitative approach, we identify and describe the ethical (...) tensions and challenges faced by fund managers to structure and implement impact-based variable compensation schemes. Our results indicate that economic incentives tied to non-financial objectives are useful to alleviate goal incongruity between principals and agents during fund creation but have the potential to lead to perverse effects during the fund lifecycle, where managers may exploit subjective non-financial metrics to maximize personal wealth. We introduce the concept of impact fidelity, a conceptual equivalent of fiduciary duty, to ensure that investment decisions reflect the asset owner’s impact preferences. (shrink)
Fichte's reputation at the present time is in some respects a curious one. On the one hand, he is by common consent acknowledged to have exercised a dominant influence upon the development of German thought during the opening decades of the nineteenth century. Thus from a specifically philosophical point of view he is regarded as an innovator who played a decisive role in transforming Kant's transcendental idealism into the absolute idealism of his immediate successors, while at a more general level (...) he is customarily seen as having put into currency certain persuasive conceptions which contributed—less directly but no less surely—to the emergence and spread of romanticism in some of its varied and ramifying forms. On the other hand, however, it is noticeable that detailed consideration of his work has not figured prominently in the recent revival of concern with post-Kantian thought as a whole which has been manifested by philosophers of the English-speaking world. Although his name is frequently mentioned in that connection, one suspects that his books may not be so often read. In part this may be due to his particular mode of expounding his views, which at times attains a level of opacity that can make even Hegel's obscurest passages seem comparatively tractable. It is also true that Fichte's principal theoretical works—if not his semipopular writings—are largely devoid of the allusions to scientific, historical, psychological or cultural matters with which his German contemporaries were prone to illustrate their philosophical doctrines and enliven their more abstract discussions: there is a daunting aridity about much of what he wrote which can raise nagging doubts in the modern reader's mind about the actual issues that are in question. Yet the fact remains that by the close of the eighteenth century his ideas had already made a profound impact, capturing the imagination of a host of German thinkers and intellectuals. The problem therefore arises as to what preoccupations, current at the time, they owed their indubitable appeal and to what puzzles they were welcomed as proffering a solution. If these can be identified, it may become at least partially intelligible that Fichte should have been widely regarded as having provided a framework within which certain hitherto intractable difficulties could be satisfactorily reformulated and resolved. Let me accordingly begin by saying something about them. (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)
We discuss Boltzmann’s probabilistic explanation of the second law of thermodynamics providing a comprehensive presentation of what is called today the typicality account. Countering its misconception as an alternative explanation, we examine the relation between Boltzmann’s H-theorem and the general typicality argument demonstrating the conceptual continuity between the two. We then discuss the philosophical dimensions of the concept of typicality and its relevance for scientific reasoning in general, in particular for understanding the reduction of macroscopic laws to microscopic laws. Finally, (...) we reply to various common criticisms of the typicality account. (shrink)
When considering a suitable topic for inclusion in this collection, it occurred to me that it might be worth discussing a writer whose interests were largely centred on themes directly related to those cited in the collection's title, and who throughout most of his philosophical career remained particularly insistent upon the need to define the boundaries separating humanistic modes of understanding from ones associated with the physical sciences. The writer in question was R. G. Collingwood. Although Collingwood has justly been (...) credited with perceptive insights into the metaphysical origins and presuppositions of natural science, as well as with raising pointed questions concerning the nature of conceptual change in scientific thought, he had in fact little first-hand knowledge of the subject and it is not in this sphere that his chief claims to importance and originality lie. Rather, they are to be found in an area with which he was certainly intimately acquainted and in which as a practitioner he helped to make significant discoveries on the ground. That was history, a discipline requiring in his view a type of thinking that had either been ignored by his philosophical contemporaries or else misconceived and distorted by those who had troubled to consider it. Thus, as a result of making a serious effort on his own account to come to terms with what it involved, he became—in his own words at the time—‘more and more conscious of being an outlaw’. (shrink)
In this interview, Jordan B. Kinder discusses The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet with Patrick McCurdy. The Beast is a 2018 graphic novel published by independent Canadian publisher Ad Astra Comix. It is the result of a collaboration between communications scholar Patrick McCurdy, writer Hugh Goldring, and artist Nicole Marie Burton. Emerging from McCurdy’s work on the MediaToil database project—a database that gathers together competing visual representations of the Athabasca Oil Sands from several stakeholders—the graphic (...) novel addresses themes that arise from these representations while creatively exploring and navigating the tensions at the core of trying to live well in our current petroculture, a culture underwritten by neoliberalism and economic precarity. (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)
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)
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)
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)
The paper discusses recent proposals by Carroll and Chen, as well as Barbour, Koslowski, and Mercati to explain the arrow of time without a Past Hypothesis, i.e. the assumption of a special initial state of the universe. After discussing the role of the Past Hypothesis and the controversy about its status, we explain why Carroll's model - which establishes an arrow of time as typical - can ground sensible predictions and retrodictions without assuming something akin to a Past Hypothesis. We (...) then propose a definition of a Boltzmann entropy for a classical N-particle system with gravity, suggesting that a Newtonian gravitating universe might provide a relevant example of Carroll's entropy model. This invites comparison with the work of Barbour, Koslowski, and Mercati that identifies typical arrows of time in a relational formulation of classical gravity on shape space. We clarify the difference between this gravitational arrow in terms of shape complexity and the entropic arrow in absolute spacetime, and work out the key advantages of the relationalist theory. We end by pointing out why the entropy concept relies on absolute scales and is thus not relational. (shrink)
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.
_"One of the most important political books of 2018."—Rod Dreher, ___American Conservative__ Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it _is _an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its (...) legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. Here, Deneen offers an astringent warning that the centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure. (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.
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)
Formal control systems are a common instrument to align employees’ interests with those of managers and companies. However, research shows that employees perceive formal controls as a sign of distrust and restraint, which can lead to costs of control in the form of lower employee cooperation and effort. We propose that charitable giving reduces these costs of control. We draw on the halo effect and propose that corporate charitable giving alters employees’ perception of and reaction to formal controls. In a (...) laboratory experiment, we find that charitable giving by a company creates a higher level of employee trust in a manager who decides to implement a control and a more positive assessment of formal control. These positive effects of charitable giving lead to lower costs of control compared to the absence of charitable giving. We thereby provide an example of how charitable giving as a corporate social responsibility activity yields positive benefits by altering the behavior of internal company stakeholders. (shrink)
Throughout his life, Kant was concerned with questions about empirical psychology. He aimed to develop an empirical account of human beings, and his lectures and writings on the topic are recognizable today as properly 'psychological' treatments of human thought and behavior. In this book Patrick R. Frierson uses close analysis of relevant texts, including unpublished lectures and notes, to study Kant's account. He shows in detail how Kant explains human action, choice, and thought in empirical terms, and how a (...) better understanding of Kant's psychology can shed light on major concepts in his philosophy, including the moral law, moral responsibility, weakness of will, and cognitive error. Frierson also applies Kant's accounts of mental illness to contemporary philosophical issues. His book will interest students and scholars of Kant, the history of psychology, philosophy of psychology, and philosophy of action. (shrink)
Patrick Shade makes a strong argument for the necessity of hope in a cynical world that too often rejects it as foolish. While most accounts of hope situate it in a theological context, Shade presents a theory rooted in the pragmatic thought of such American philosophers as C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey.
Few philosophers have devoted such sustained, almost obsessive attention to the topic of death as Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard and Death brings together new work on Kierkegaard's multifaceted discussions of death and provides a thorough guide to the development, in various texts and contexts, of Kierkegaard’s ideas concerning death. Essays by an international group of scholars take up essential topics such as dying to the world, living death, immortality, suicide, mortality and subjectivity, death and the meaning of life, remembrance of the (...) dead, and the question of the afterlife. While bringing Kierkegaard's philosophy of death into focus, this volume connects Kierkegaard with important debates in contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Epistemic contextualism is a recent and hotly debated position. In its dominant form, EC is the view that the proposition expressed by a given knowledge sentence depends upon the context in which it is uttered. What makes this view interesting and controversial is that ‘context’ here refers, not to certain features of the putative subject of knowledge or his/her objective situation, but rather to features of the knowledge attributor' psychology and/or conversational-practical situation. As a result of such context-dependence, utterances of (...) a given such sentence, made in different contexts, may differ in truth value. (shrink)
Why do humans make music? Theories of the evolution of musicality have focused mainly on the value of music for specific adaptive contexts such as mate selection, parental care, coalition signaling, and group cohesion. Synthesizing and extending previous proposals, we argue that social bonding is an overarching function that unifies all of these theories, and that musicality enabled social bonding at larger scales than grooming and other bonding mechanisms available in ancestral primate societies. We combine cross-disciplinary evidence from archeology, anthropology, (...) biology, musicology, psychology, and neuroscience into a unified framework that accounts for the biological and cultural evolution of music. We argue that the evolution of musicality involves gene–culture coevolution, through which proto-musical behaviors that initially arose and spread as cultural inventions had feedback effects on biological evolution because of their impact on social bonding. We emphasize the deep links between production, perception, prediction, and social reward arising from repetition, synchronization, and harmonization of rhythms and pitches, and summarize empirical evidence for these links at the levels of brain networks, physiological mechanisms, and behaviors across cultures and across species. Finally, we address potential criticisms and make testable predictions for future research, including neurobiological bases of musicality and relationships between human music, language, animal song, and other domains. The music and social bonding hypothesis provides the most comprehensive theory to date of the biological and cultural evolution of music. (shrink)