In Reasons and the Good Roger Crisp answers some of the oldest questions in moral philosophy. Fundamental to ethics, he claims, is the idea of ultimate reasons for action; and he argues controversially that these reasons do not depend on moral concepts. He investigates the nature of reasons themselves, and how we come to know them. He defends a hedonistic theory of well-being and an account of practical reason according to which we can give some, though not overriding, priority to (...) our own good over that of others. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a good deal of discussion of equality’s place in the best account of distribution or distributive justice. One central question has been whether egalitarianism should give way to a principle requiring us to give priority to the worse off. In this article, I shall begin by arguing that the grounding of equality is indeed insecure and that the priority principle appears to have certain advantages over egalitarianism. But I shall then claim that the priority (...) principle itself is ungrounded and that the priority principle should itself give way to a sufficiency principle based — indirectly, via the notion of an impartial spectator — on compassion for those who are badly off. (shrink)
This paper is a plea for hedonism to be taken more seriously. It begins by charting hedonism's decline, and suggests that this is a result of two major objections: the claim that hedonism is the 'philosophy of swine', reducing all value to a single common denominator, and Nozick's 'experience machine' objection. There follows some elucidation of the nature of hedonism, and of enjoyment in particular. Two types of theory of enjoyment are outlined-intemalism, according to which enjoyment has some special 'feeling (...) tone'. and externalism, according to which enjoyment is any kind of experience to which we take some special attitude, such as that of desire. lnternalism-the traditional view--is defended against current externalist orthodoxy. The paper ends with responses to the philosophy of swine and the experience machine objections. (shrink)
This volume brings together much of the most influential work undertaken in the field of virtue ethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, the collection includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtue ethics; some later criticisms of the (...) revival of virtue ethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtue ethics. (shrink)
This paper defends moral testimony pessimism, the view that there is something morally or epistemically regrettable about relying on the moral testimony of others, against several arguments in Lillehammer. One central such argument is that reliance on testimony is inconsistent with the exercise of true practical wisdom. Lillehammer doubts whether such reliance is always objectionable, but it is important to note that moral testimony pessimism is best understood as a view about the pro tanto, rather than the overall, badness of (...) relying on testimony. One must also be clear about what counts as genuine moral testimony: there will be morally charged occasions when a virtuous person will properly rely on the views of others. It can also plausibly be argued that relying on moral testimony may constitute a lack of full autonomy. After discussing some remaining issues concerning the definition of moral testimony, a possible analogy between lying and relying on testimony, and the implications of untrustworthiness for the truth of moral testimony pessimism, the paper ends with a return to the case against relying on moral testimony, grounded on a conception of the role of knowledge and understanding in virtue. (shrink)
Mill was one of the most important British philosophers of the nineteenth century; his Utilitarianism is a pivotal work in ethical thought. This book, written specifically for students coming to Mill - and perhaps philosophy - for the first time, will be an ideal guide. Mill on Utilitarianism introduces and assesses: * Mill's life and the background of Utilitarianism * the ideas and text of Utilitarianism * the continuing importance of Mill's work to philosophy This is the first book dedicated (...) to Utilitarianism itself. Concisely written and engaging, it is perfect reading for those studying Mill or moral philosophy. (shrink)
From Thomas Hobbes to Jeremy Bentham, 'British Moralists' have questioned whether being virtuous makes you happy. Roger Crisp elucidaties their views on happiness and virtue, self-interest and sacrifice, and well-being and morality, and highlights key themes such as psychological egoism, evaluative hedonism, and moral reason in their thought.
It is argued that persuasive advertising overrides the autonomy of consumers, in that it manipulates them without their knowledge and for no good reason. Such advertising causes desires in such a way that a necessary condition of autonomy — the possibility of decision — is removed. Four notions central to autonomous action are discussed — autonomous desire, rational desire and choice, free choice, and control or manipulation — following the strategy of Robert Arrington in a recent paper in this journal. (...) Replies are made to Arrington's arguments in favour of advertising. It is also claimed that the argument developed by Philip Nelson, which concludes that even if persuasive advertising does override autonomy, it is still in the interests of consumers to be subjected to it, is seriously mistaken. Finally, some caveats concerning informative advertising are presented. (shrink)
Effective Altruism is a social movement which encourages people to do as much good as they can when helping others, given limited money, time, effort, and other resources. This paper first identifies a minimal philosophical view that underpins this movement, and then argues that there is an analogous minimal philosophical view which might underpin Effective Justice, a possible social movement that would encourage promoting justice most effectively, given limited resources. The latter minimal view reflects an insight about justice, and our (...) non-diminishing moral reason to promote more of it, that surprisingly has gone largely unnoticed and undiscussed. The Effective Altruism movement has led many to reconsider how best to help others, but relatively little attention has been paid to the differences in degrees of cost-effectiveness of activities designed to decrease injustice. This paper therefore not only furthers philosophical understanding of justice, but has potentially major practical implications. (shrink)
This paper is a plea for hedonism to be taken more seriously. It begins by charting hedonism's decline, and suggests that this is a result of two major objections: the claim that hedonism is the ‘philosophy of swine’, reducing all value to a single common denominator, and Nozick's ‘experience machine’ objection. There follows some elucidation of the nature of hedonism, and of enjoyment in particular. Two types of theory of enjoyment are outlined–internalism, according to which enjoyment has some special ‘feeling (...) tone’, and externalism, according to which enjoyment is any kind of experience to which we take some special attitude, such as that of desire. Internalism–the traditional view–is defended against current externalist orthodoxy. The paper ends with responses to the philosophy of swine and the experience machine objections. (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of the emotion of compassion or pity, and the corresponding virtue. It begins by placing the emotion of compassion in the moral conceptual landscape, and then moves to reject the currently dominant view, a version of Aristotelianism developed by Martha Nussbaum, in favour of a non-cognitive conception of compassion as a feeling. An alternative neo-Aristotelian account is then outlined. The relation of the virtue of compassion to other virtues is plotted, and some doubts sown about (...) its practical significance. (shrink)
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, based on lectures that he gave in Athens in the fourth century BCE, is one of the most significant works in moral philosophy, and has profoundly influenced the whole course of subsequent philosophical endeavour. It is soundly located within a philosophical tradition, but its argument differs markedly from those of Plato and Socrates in its emphasis on the exercise - as opposed to the mere possession - of virtue as the key to human happiness, offering seminal discussions (...) of ethical issues that are practical in their intent. Topics covered include the role of luck in human wellbeing, moral education, responsibility, courage, justice, moral weakness, friendship and pleasure. This accessible new translation by Roger Crisp follows the Greek text closely and also provides a non-Greek-reader with the flavour of the original. The volume also includes a historical and philosophical introduction and notes on further reading. (shrink)
In recent decades, the idea has become common that so-called virtue ethics constitutes a third option in ethics in addition to consequentialism and deontology. This paper argues that, if we understand ethical theories as accounts of right and wrong action, this is not so. Virtue ethics turns out to be a form of deontology . The paper then moves to consider the Aristotelian distinction between right or virtuous action on the one hand, and acting rightly or virtuously on the other. (...) It is claimed that virtue might play an important role in an explanation of acting virtuously , but that such explanations can be charged with ‘double-counting’ the moral value of the virtues. The paper concludes that, if we focus on the question of the value of virtue, rather than on the notion of right action, there is room for a self-standing and important view which could be described as virtue ethics. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to test the claim that epistemologists—virtue epistemologists in particular—have much to learn from virtue ethics. The essay begins with an outline of virtue ethics itself. This section concludes that a pure form of virtue ethics is likely to be unattractive, so the virtue epistemologist should examine the "impure" views of real philosophers. Aristotle is usually held up as the paradigm virtue ethicist. His doctrine of the mean is described, and it is explained how that (...) doctrine can provide a framework for an account of epistemic virtue. The conclusion of the essay is that a virtue epistemology based on analogies with virtue ethics, though well worth developing and considering, will face several challenges in fulfilling the significant promises that have been made on its behalf. (shrink)
The word 'hypocrisy' has its root in the classical Greek verb 'hupokrinesthai', 'to answer'. In Attic Greek, the verb could mean 'to speak in dialogue' and hence 'to play a part on the stage'. From here it was a short route to the 'hypokrisia' with which the Pharisees are charge in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Accusations of hypocrisy are surprisingly common in our culture, both at the personal and the political level. Judith Shklar goes so far as to characterise (...) our age as that in which 'hypocrisy...alone is...inexcusable'. But, perhaps equally surprisingly, the nature of hypocrisy is hard to grasp. In this paper, we shall suggest that recent discussion of hypocrisy has foundered through a failure to recognise distinct forms of hypocrisy. We shall outline these different forms, and then consider various views on what they have in common. (shrink)
This paper concerns the problem of moral luck—the fact that our moral judgements appear to depend, perhaps unjustifiably, on matters of luck. The history and scope of the problem are discussed. It is suggested that our result-sensitive sentiments have their origin in views about moral pollution we might now wish to reject in favour of a volitionalist ethics.
Roger Crisp presents a comprehensive study of Henry Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics, a landmark work first published in 1874. Crisp argues that Sidgwick is largely right about many central issues in moral philosophy: the metaphysics and epistemology of ethics, consequentialism, hedonism about well-being, and the weight to be given to self-interest. He holds that Sidgwick's long discussion of 'common-sense' morality is probably the best discussion of deontology we have. And yet The Methods of Ethics can be hard to understand, (...) and this is perhaps one reason why, though it is a philosophical goldmine, few have ventured deeply into it. What does Sidgwick mean by a 'method'? Why does he discuss only three methods? What are his arguments for hedonism and for utilitarianism? How can we make sense of the idea of moral intuition? What is the role of virtue in Sidgwick's ethics? Crisp addresses these and many other questions, offering a fresh view of Sidgwick's text which will assist any moral philosopher to gain more from it. (shrink)
En este artículo, Roger Crisp nos presenta una interpretación de la teoría de la virtud de Hume. Crisp sostiene que el lugar central de la virtud en la ética de Hume le proporciona a Hume una posición extremadamente sofisticada que la ética de la virtud no puede ignorar. En particular, argumenta que aunque la posición de Hume pueda al final ser descrita como un utilitarismo de motivos, constituye en todo caso una forma extremadamente sofisticada de utilitarismo de motivos, una forma (...) de utilitarismo que puede volver imposible una ética de la virtud de raíz no-utilitarista. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important, controversial, and suggestive works of moral philosophy ever written. Published in the Oxford Philosophical Texts series, this new edition of Mill's key text has been designed to suit both the beginning and more advanced student. The text is supplemented by an extensive editorial introduction, an analysis of the text, substantial endnotes, suggestions for further reading, and a full bibliography.
This paper is a response to Brad Hooker's “Does having deep personal relationships constitute an element of well‐being?” (2021). The paper begins with a discussion of the implications of disagreement about such issues. After raising some general questions for Hooker's account, the paper turns to the key elements in a deep personal relationship, according to Hooker: multi‐faceted understanding, and strong affection. The issue of impartiality is discussed, and it is claimed that Hooker's account is consistent with morality's being impartial. Some (...) possible interpretations of Hooker's overall project are offered, and the paper ends with a discussion of Hooker's suggestions that the affection in valuable personal relationships must be merited. (shrink)
Mill was one of the most important British philosophers of the nineteenth century; his _Utilitarianism_ is a pivotal work in ethical thought. This book, written specifically for students coming to Mill - and perhaps philosophy - for the first time, will be an ideal guide. _Mill on Utilitarianism_ introduces and assesses: * Mill's life and the background of _Utilitarianism_ * the ideas and text of _Utilitarianism_ * the continuing importance of Mill's work to philosophy This is the first book dedicated (...) to _Utilitarianism_ itself. Concisely written and engaging, it is perfect reading for those studying Mill or moral philosophy. (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of Jonathan Dancy's book Ethics Without Principles (2004). Holism about reasons is distinguished into a weak version, which allows for invariant reasons, and a strong, which doesn't. Four problems with Dancy's arguments for strong holism are identified. (1) A plausible particularism based on it will be close to generalism. (2) Dancy rests his case on common-sense morality, without justifying it. (3) His examples are of non-ultimate reasons. (4) There are certain universal principles it is hard (...) not to see as invariant, such as that the fact that some action causes of suffering to a non-rational being always counts against it. The main difficulty with weak holism is that justification can be seen as analogous to explanation, which will give us an atomistic and generalist conception of a normative reason. Key Words: Dancy generalism holism particularism reasons. (shrink)
This paper concerns the relation between goodness, or value, and practical reasons, and in particular the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account (BPA) of that relation recently offered by T. M. Scanlon, according to which goodness is not reason-providing but merely the higher-order property of possessing lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond in certain ways. The paper begins by briefly describing BPA and the motivation for it, noting that Scanlon now accepts that the lower-order properties in question may be evaluative. He also (...) insists that the BPA is not biconditional (wisely, since otherwise goodness becomes a ‘Cambridge property’), which leaves him with the task of explaining why goodness arises only in a sub-set of cases in which lower-order properties ground reasons. Having rejected two attempts to do this, based on elucidation of the responses and of the reasons, I suggest that Scanlon may claim that goodness arises in, and only in, cases where the lower-order properties are evaluative and that goodness itself provides us with a way of distinguishing the evaluative from the non-evaluative. In other words, he should retain the negative component of BPA, according to which being good is not itself reason-providing, while surrendering the positive, according to which the property of goodness is merely the higher-order property of having lower-order properties that provide reasons to respond. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
We take welfarism in moral theory to be the claim that the well-being of individuals matters and is the only consideration that fundamentally matters, from a moral point of view. We argue that criticisms of welfarism due to G.E. Moore, Donald Regan, Charles Taylor and Amartya Sen all fail. The final section of our paper is a critical survey of the problems which remain for welfarists in moral theory.
This paper suggests that we understand Aristotle’s notion of nobility (τὸ καλόν) as what is morally praiseworthy, arguing that nobility is not to be understood impartially, that Aristotle is an egoist at the level of justification (though not at the level of motivation), and that he uses the idea of the noble as a bridge between self-interest and moral virtue. Implications for contemporary ethics are discussed.
Someone once told me that the average number of readers of a philosophy article is about six. That is a particularly depressing thought when one takes into account the huge influence of certain articles. When I think of, say, Gettier's article on knowledge, or Quine's ‘Two Dogmas’, I begin to wonder whether anyone is ever likely to read anything I write. Usually the arguments of these very influential articles have been subjected to widespread analysis and interpretation. The case of Elizabeth (...) Anscombe's ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, published in 1958, is something of an exception. That article has played a significant part in the development of so-called ‘virtue ethics’, which has burgeoned over the last three decades in particular. But there has been less close attention to its arguments than one might have expected. (shrink)
In "Egalitarianism Defended," Larry Temkin attempted to rebut criticisms of egalitarianism I had made in my article, "Equality, Priority, and Compassion." Temkin's response is interesting and illuminating, but, in this article, I shall claim that his arguments miss their target and that the failure of egalitarianism may have implications more serious than some have thought.
Fiona Woollard argues that when one is personally involved in an emergency, one has a moral requirement to make substantial sacrifices to aid others that one would not otherwise have. She holds that there are three ways in which one could be personally involved in an emergency: by being physically proximate to the victims of the emergency; by being the only person who can help the victims; or by having a personal encounter with the victims. Each of these factors is (...) claimed to be defeasibly sufficient to ground personal involvement, and thus a requirement of substantial sacrifice to aid. Woollard defends this view on the basis of a number of cases. We show that Woollard’s cases contain various confounding factors. In view of the more precisely drawn cases offered here, it is clear that neither proximity nor uniqueness nor personal encounter is intuitively defeasibly sufficient in the way Woollard claims. (shrink)
An international line-up of fourteen distinguished philosophers present new essays on topics relating to well-being and morality, prominent themes in contemporary ethics and particularly in the work of James Griffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, in whose honour this volume has been produced. Professor Griffin offers a fascinating development of his own thinking on these topics in his replies to the essays.
This volume presents responses to the work of James Griffin, one of the most significant contributors to the contemporary debate over human rights. Leading moral and political philosophers engage with Griffin's views--according to which human rights are best understood as protections of our agency and personhood--and Griffin offers his own reply.
This paper offers a general approach to ethics before considering its implications for the question of how to respond to religious preferences in healthcare, especially those of patients and healthcare workers. The first section outlines the two main components of the approach: (1) demoralizing, that is, seeking to avoid moral terminology in the discussion of reasons for action; (2) welfarism, the view that our ultimate reasons are grounded solely in the well-being of individuals. Section 2 elucidates the notion of religious (...) preferences and describes the history and importance of their protection by human rights legislation. The following section defends the ‘Preference Principle’, according to which there is a reason to satisfy any preference (in so far as that satisfaction advances well-being). Section 4 discusses the implications of this principle for religious preferences in healthcare, again seeking to bring out the special social and political importance of respect, and respect for such preferences in particular. The paper ends with a brief description of how to approach such problems from the perspective of a demoralized welfarism. (shrink)