We have no general duty to help others do their duty. But arguably we do, for a combination of agency-based and outcome-based reasons, have a general duty to let others do their duty. Our duty is derived from the other’s duty, but it is none the worse for being so. It is best seen as a duty, rather than as the upshot of some right or power of the other that would preclude us from insisting that the others do their (...) duty. Finally, our duty to let others do their duty is owed primarily to those toward to whom the others’ duty is owed, rather than to those whom we should allow to do their duty. (shrink)
Some say that consent is essentially just a state of mind. Others say it is essentially just a communication. Many say it is both. I say it is neither. Instead it is an act, or rather a pair of acts—an internal mental act in the first instance, an external performative act in the second. Each of those acts is an act of commitment, intrapersonally in the first case and interpersonally in the second. The content of the commitment is, familiarly enough, (...) to give permission to someone else to do something that it would be wrong for them to do without your permission. The novelty lies in seeing consent as an act of commitment in those two dimensions and in seeing those as commitments that persist until and unless undone by an act of a similar sort. (shrink)
Maximizing want-satisfaction per se is a relatively unattractive aspiration, for it seems to assume that wants are somehow disembodied entities with independent moral claims all of their own. Actually, of course, they are possessed by particular people. What preference-utilitarians should be concerned with is how people's lives go—the fulfilment of their projects and the satisfaction of their desires. In an old-fashioned way of talking, it is happy people rather than happiness per se that utilitarians should be striving to produce.
Elsewhere I have defended utilitarianism as a philosophy peculiarly well suited to the conduct of public affairs, on grounds of the peculiar tasks and instruments confronting public officials. Here I add another plank to that defence of ‘utilitarianism as a public philosophy’, focusing on the peculiar role responsibilities of people serving in public capacities. Such ‘public service utilitarianism’ is incumbent not only upon public officials but also upon individuals in their capacities as citizens and voters. I close with reflections on (...) how best to evoke appreciation of these utilitarian role responsibilities from officials and electors alike. (shrink)
Part of the acclaimed Politics and Society series, Population and Political Theory brings together leading thinkers in the fields of philosophy, political science, economics, and social policy to address issues at the convergence of population policy and political theory. Offers a single-volume, systematic overview of philosophical issues relating to population Represents a unique merging of discussions of population policy with political theory Broad in scope, the diverse discussions will appeal to political philosophers, population specialists, and public policy makers.
This book addresses the concept of need and how needs can be, and are, met in western societies. Different models of welfare provision are examined both in theoretical terms and through two case studies: of models of pension provision and of the connection between the satisfaction of needs and electoral success for governments. This timely study makes an important contribution to the understanding of welfare and politics in advanced industrial western states.
Among moralists and social critics of several stripes, it is not enough that the right thing be done: they also insist that it be done, and be seen to be done, for the right reasons. They are anxious to know whether we are sending food to starving Africans out of genuinely altruistic concern, or merely to clear domestic commodity markets, for one particularly topical example. Or, for another example, critics of the Brandt Commission’s plea for increased foreign aid more generally (...) say, in stinging rebuke: ‘Many of those who support the proposal... do so out of genuine humanitarian concern about... poverty. But it is doubtful whether this is the main concern of its authors, and it certainly is not their only concern.... They are, instead, primarily concerned with the preservation of the existing world economic order.’What is common to all such cases is an attempt at motive differentiation. Any particular piece of behavior might have sprung from any of a number of different underlying motives; commentators want to know which was the real motive. Here I shall show that this characteristic quest for motive differentiation is misguided. In most of the standard social situations, it makes no material difference to agents’ actions whether they act from one sort of motive or another. And in such circumstances, pressing the motivational issue will usually lead only to mischief, of both a pragmatic and a moral sort. (shrink)