In a recent JME article, Joona Räsänen makes the case for allowing legal age change. We identify three problems with his argument and, on that basis, propose an improved version thereof. Unfortunately, even the improved argument is vulnerable to the objection that chronological age is a better proxy for justice in health than both legal and what we shall call official age.
The aim of this paper is to discuss the plausibility of a certain position in the philosophical literature within which the Repugnant Conclusion is treated, not as repugnant, but as an acceptable implication of the total welfare principle. I will confine myself to focus primarily on Törbjörn Tännsjö’s presentation. First, I reconstruct Tännsjö’s view concerning the repugnance of the RC in two arguments. The first argument is criticized for (a) addressing the wrong comparison, (b) relying on the controversial claim that (...) the privileged people in our actual world only have lives barely worth living and (c) that Tännsjö’s identification between Z-lives and privileged lives is restricted to certain versions of the notion ‘barely worth living’ – a restriction that weakens the force of the argument. The second argument is criticized because some of it premises entailed (b) and (d) for its implausible claim that non-imaginable outcomes cannot be compared. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to provide a systematic reconstruction and critique of what is taken to be a central ethical concern against the use of non-medical egg freezing. The concern can be captured in what we can call the individualisation argument. The argument states, very roughly, that women should not use NMEF as it is an individualistic and morally problematic solution to the social problems that women face, for instance, in the labour market. Instead of allowing or expecting (...) women to deal with them on an individual level, we should address them by challenging the patriarchal structures of the labour market—for example, by securing equal pay, or paid maternal leave, or ‘paid paternal [partner] leave and sick leave and affordable child care’. It will be made clear that there are several versions of this argument. The author will try to elaborate this claim, and it will be explained that the differences depend on the way in which bioethicists believe that individuals use of NMEF is morally problematic, compared with the alternative of securing social change for women in, say, the labour market. Finally, a critical discussion of three versions of the individualisation argument will follow, and it will be shown why all versions are on rather thin ice, or in other words, that they are implausible. (shrink)
Several liberal philosophers and penal theorists have argued that the state has a reason to prohibit acts that harm individuals. But what is harm? According to one specification of harm, a person P is harmed by an act a iff, as a result of a, P is made worse off in terms of well-being. One central question here involves the baseline against which we assess whether someone is ‘worse off’. In other words, when a person is harmed he is worse (...) off, certainly—but what is worse off a variation from? A central part of the paper critically discusses different answers to this question based on versions of what we can call: the temporal baseline, the baseline from mankind and the counterfactual baseline. Essentially, it will be argued that the counterfactual baseline leaves us with a better understanding of harming than the other baselines discussed. The final part of the paper will describe some of the implications of our investigation for the application and evaluation of the view that harm matters in the justification of which type of acts should be criminalized by the state. The overall conclusion of the paper is that adherents of a view like the harm principle face a dilemma. Either they can accept the counterfactual baseline but then, they can do without the harm principle. Or they can reject the counterfactual baseline—but then they will have to formulate an alternative baseline which, as will be shown in the paper, is no easy task. (shrink)
Next SectionFive arguments are presented in favour of the proposal that people who opt in as organ donors should receive a tax break. These arguments appeal to welfare, autonomy, fairness, distributive justice and self-ownership, respectively. Eight worries about the proposal are considered in this paper. These objections focus upon no-effect and counter-productiveness, the Titmuss concern about social meaning, exploitation of the poor, commodification, inequality and unequal status, the notion that there are better alternatives, unacceptable expense, and concerns about the veto (...) of relatives. The paper argues that none of the objections to the proposal is very telling. (shrink)
The aim of this critical commentary is to distinguish and analytically discuss some important variations in which legal moralism is defined in the literature. As such, the aim is not to evaluate the most plausible version of legal moralism, but to find the most plausible definition of legal moralism. As a theory of criminalization, i.e. a theory that aims to justify the criminal law we should retain, legal moralism can be, and has been, defined as follows: the immorality of an (...) act of type A is a sufficient reason for the criminalization of A, even if A does not cause someone to be harmed. In what follows, I critically examine some of the key definitions and proposals that have, unfortunately, not always been carefully distinguished. Finally, I propose a definition that seems to capture the essence of what many philosophers refer to when they talk about legal moralism, while also providing more clarity. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to critically discuss the plausibility of legal moralism with an emphasis on some central and recent versions. First, this paper puts forward and defends the thesis that recently developed varieties of legal moralism promoted by Robert P. George, John Kekes and Michael Moore are more plausible than Lord Devlin's traditional account. The main argument for this thesis is that in its more modern versions legal moralism is immune to some of the forceful challenges made (...) to Devlin by Hart, Dworkin and Feinberg among others. Second, however, the paper challenges the new generation of legal moralists and suggests some areas for further development. Although Devlin's position has been scrutinized thoroughly in the literature on the philosophy of law, there has, to my knowledge, been no comparable, systematic critique of these different proponents of legal moralism. (shrink)
In this article, we critically discuss different versions of the fairness objection to the legalisation of neuro-doping. According to this objection, legalising neuro-doping will result in some enjoying an unfair advantage over others. Basically, we assess four versions. These focus on: 1) the unequal opportunities of winning for athletes who use neuro-doping and for those who do not; 2) the unfair advantages specifically for wealthy athletes; 3) the unfairness of athletic advantages not derived from athletes’ own training ; and 4) (...) the unfair health care costs imposed on everyone as a result of athletes’ use of neuro-doping. We conclude that none of these versions offer a convincing principled fairness-based objection to legalising neuro-doping. (shrink)
The paper critically discusses the moral view that neurotechnological behavioural treatment for criminal offenders should only be offered if it is in their best interests. First, I show that it is difficult to apply and assess the notion of the offender's best interests unless one has a clear idea of what ‘best interests’ means. Second, I argue that if one accepts that harmful punishment of offenders has a place in the criminal justice system, it seems inconsistent not to accept the (...) practice of offering offenders treatment even when the state will harm them in applying the treatment. Finally, leading penal theories like consequentialists and retributivists would not accept that the offender's best interests, at least in certain situations, impose a necessary condition for the treatment of an offender. (shrink)
Five arguments are presented in favour of the proposal that people who opt in as organ donors should receive a tax break. These arguments appeal to welfare, autonomy, fairness, distributive justice and self-ownership, respectively. Eight worries about the proposal are considered in this paper. These objections focus upon no-effect and counter-productiveness, the Titmuss concern about social meaning, exploitation of the poor, commodification, inequality and unequal status, the notion that there are better alternatives, unacceptable expense, and concerns about the veto of (...) relatives. The paper argues that none of the objections to the proposal is very telling. (shrink)
Through the criminal justice system so-called dangerous offenders are, besides the offence that they are being convicted of and sentenced to, also punished for acts that they have not done but that they are believe to be likely to commit in the future. The aim of this paper is to critically discuss whether some adherents of retributivism give a plausible rationale for punishing offenders more harshly if they, all else being equal, by means of predictions are believed to be more (...) dangerous than other offenders. While consequentialism has no problem, at least in principle, with this use of predictions most retributivists have been opponents of punishing offenders on the basis of predictions. How can an offender deserve to be punished for something that he has not done? But some retributivists like Anthony Duff and Stephen Morse have argued in favor of punishing offenders who are considered to be dangerous in the future more harshly than non-dangerous offenders. After having reconstructed their arguments in detail, it will be argued that both Duff’s and Morse’s attempts to give a retributivistic justification have several shortcomings. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to criticise the well-discussed Principle of Procreative Beneficence (PB) lately refined by Julian Savulescu and Guy Kahane. First, it is argued that advocates of PB leave us with an implausible justification for the moral partiality towards the child (or children) reproducers decide to bring into existence as compared with all other individuals. This is implausible because the reasons given in favour of the partiality of PB, which are based on practical reason and common-sense morality, (...) can just as well be used to guide reproducers to make choices that do not support partiality towards one’s possible children. This seems to be true as least in some situations. Secondly, it is argued that Jakob Elster’s recent critique of PB is problematic, and specifically that a counterexample designed by Elster to criticise PB because of its partiality towards one’s own children misses the target. Finally, a genuine counterexample to PB is developed in order to show that the partiality of PB means it gives the wrong answer in a specific case. (shrink)
A central aim within criminal justice ethics is to give a plausible justification concerning which type of acts ought to be criminalized by the state. One of the principles of criminalization which has been presented and critically discussed in the philosophical literature is the Offense Principle. The primary aim of this paper is to argue that unless a rather special and implausible objective list theory of well-being is accepted, the Offense Principle should be subsumed in the Harm Principle.
The paper critically discusses a role-model argument (RMA) in favour of banning performance-enhancing drugs in sport. The argument concludes that athletes should be banned from using performance-enhancing drugs because if they are allowed to use such drugs they will encourage, or cause, youngsters who look up to them to use drugs in a way that would be harmful. In Section 2 the structure of the argument and some versions of it are presented. In Section 3 a critical discussion of RMA (...) is presented. It is argued that we should be reluctant to accept the argument as it stands for at least three reasons: (i) it rests on an unsupported empirical claim; (ii) it also makes a false empirical claim; and (iii) the normative premise of the argument is too demanding morally. Further objections to the RMA are also discussed, but argued to be beside the point. (shrink)
Employers’ access to and use of criminal records as a selection mechanism in the labor market makes it far more difficult for ex-offenders to find jobs, especially regular, well-paid jobs, than those without criminal convictions. The paper asks whether there is anything morally problematic about this practice. The aims of the paper are twofold. First, arguments based on premises of wrongful discrimination against the current, commonest use of criminal records are critically discussed. It is argued that employers do not necessarily (...) engage in morally wrongful discrimination against job applicants when they use criminal records in recruitment screening. But it is also argued that ex-offenders who apply for jobs are subject to what can be called “structural and morally wrongful discrimination” when laws allow employers to request (or directly access) a job applicant’s full criminal record. Second, preliminary proposals on how criminal records can be used by employers in a way that avoids wrongful structural discrimination of ex-offenders will be presented and critically assessed. I suggest that it should be lawful for an employer to access an applicant’s criminal records only where there is a relevant and special match or link between the crime on the records and the job being applied for and the crime is serious. This proposal is defended against two objections, one based on concerns about crime prevention and the other based on the employer’s interest in knowing whom not to hire. (shrink)
This paper critically discusses an argument that is sometimes pressed into service in the ethical debate about the use of assisted reproduction. The argument runs roughly as follows: we should prevent women from using assisted reproduction techniques, because women who want to use the technology have been socially coerced into desiring children - and indeed have thereby been harmed by the patriarchal society in which they live. I call this the argument from coercion. Having clarified this argument, I conclude that (...) although it addresses important issues, it is highly problematic for the following reasons. First, if women are being coerced to desire to use AR, we should eradicate the coercive elements in pro-natalist ideology, not access to AR. Second, the argument seems to have the absurd implication that we should prevent all woman, whether fertile or not, to try to have children. Third, it seems probable that women's welfare will be greater if we let well informed and decision-competent women decide for themselves whether they want to use AR. (shrink)
The book defines and critically discusses the following five principles: the harm principle, legal paternalism, the offense principle, legal moralism and the dignity principle of criminalization. The book argues that all five principles raise important problems that point to rejections (or at least a rethink) of standard principles of criminalization. The book shows that one of the reasons why we should reject or revise standard principles of criminalization is that even the most plausible versions of the harm principle and legal (...) paternalism that have been offered so far are rendered redundant by general moral theories. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the other three principles (or versions thereof), the offense principle, legal moralism and the dignity principle of criminalization, can either be covered by the harm principle, thus making these principles also redundant, or be seen to have what look like other unacceptable implications (e.g. that versions of legal moralism are based on speculative and incorrect empirical assumptions or violate what is called the criminological levelling-down challenge). As such, there is reason to move beyond traditional principles of criminalization, and instead to investigate alternative principles the state should be guided by when attempting to justify which kinds of conduct should be criminalized. Moreover, this book presents and defends such a principle – the utilitarian principle of criminalization. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to present and evaluate a specific critical discussion of Peter Singer's view on philanthropy. This critique of Singer's position takes several forms, and here we focus on only two of these. First of all, it is claimed that philanthropy (based upon the giving up of luxury goods) should be avoided, because it harms the poor. As we shall see this is a view defended by Andrew Kuper. However, philanthropy is also accused of harming the (...) poor by being sub-optimal and standing in the way of the more effective and lasting poverty relief brought about by changes in the political and economic system. This second complaint is defended by, among others, Paul Gomberg, Anthony Langlois and David Schweickart, as well as Kuper. To our knowledge, little systematic work has been done on the presentation and evaluation of theses objections to philanthropy. In what follows, the objections are dealt with in connection with private donations made by individuals, as this is the focus, and target, of the philosophers/scientists we wish to discuss. (shrink)
Apart from a short clarification of what neuro-doping is, the aim of this article is twofold. First to give a few reasons in favour of having a special issue on neuro-doping. Second to present an overview of the articles in this issue. One reason for having this special issue, is that it needs to be established whether methods such as transcranial direct-current stimulation should be added to World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list or not, as it is currently under discussion by (...) WADA. Another reason for dealing with the ethics of neuro-doping is that ethical analysis of the use or possible use of neuro-doping in sport is a neglected subject. This issue cover a wide range of ethical analyses of the use of neuro-doping among athletes, chess players, e-gamers and even couch potatoes. For example, whether tDCS ought to be prohibited by WADA and/or the state; or whether its use ought to be promoted by the state; whether the use of neuro-doping is unfair; or whether it should be allowed for businesses to advertise high-sugar, high-caffeine beverages to youngsters. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that the utilitarian principle of criminalization is sounder than its poor reputation suggests. The paper begins by describing three possible answers to the research question: To what extent should the consequences of criminalization matter morally in a theory of criminalization? Hereafter I explain why I shall discuss only two of these answers. Then follows a detailed and critical specification of UPC. Furthermore, I will argue why criticisms of UPC made by philosophers such (...) as Douglas Husak and Victor Tadros in their recent work are far from convincing. Finally, I will present a positive reason for accepting UPC as a principle of criminalization, namely: that UPC is consistent with what I call the Counterproductive Criminalization Principle, while non-consequentialist theories of criminalization are not. (shrink)
Most philosophers discuss the Repugnant Conclusion as an objection to total utilitarianism. But this focus on total utilitarianism seems to be one-sided. It conceals the important fact that other competing moral theories are also subject to the Repugnant Conclusion. The primary aim of this paper is to demonstrate that versions of egalitarianism are subject to the Repugnant Conclusion and other repugnant conclusions.
The aim of this article is to articulate and critically discuss different answers to the following question: How should decision-makers deal with conflicts that arise when the values usually entailed in ethical guidelines – such as accuracy, privacy, non-discrimination and transparency – for the use of Artificial Intelligence clash with one another? To begin with, I focus on clarifying some of the general advantages of using such guidelines in an ethical analysis of the use of AI. Some disadvantages will also (...) be presented and critically discussed. Second, I will show that we need to distinguish between three kinds of conflict that can exist for ethical guidelines used in the moral assessment of AI. This section will be followed by a critical discussion of different answers to the question of how to handle what we shall call internal and external values conflicts. Finally, I will wrap up with a critical discussion of three different strategies to resolve what is called a ‘genuine value conflict’. These strategies are: the ‘accepting the existence of irresolvable conflict’ view, the ranking view, and value monism. This article defends the ‘accepting the existence of irresolvable conflict’ view. It also argues that even though the ranking view and value monism, from a merely theoretical point of view, are better equipped to solve genuine value conflicts among values in ethical guidelines for artificial intelligence, this is not the case in real-life decision-making. Keywords: AI; ethical guidelines; algorithm-based sentencing; value conflicts. (shrink)
About 80 % of all convicted have had a prior record of conviction. But how should the state punish repeat offenders (with a prior conviction) as compared with first-time offenders who are convicted? The law in all jurisdictions, a large swathe of public opinion, and the general trend within criminal justice ethics all seem to accept what we may call: -/- Asymmetry A The punishment of repeat offenders should be harsher than the punishment of first-time offenders. -/- This asymmetry is (...) obviously just a rough structure. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Several retributivists have argued for progressive loss of mitigation (PLM). On this view, a first-time offender receives a discount on punishment that is gradually lost if he re-offends. When the discount is lost the offender receives the full punishment, and re-offending from that point on will be punished equally. However, recently some retributivists have argued in favour of a cumulative principle (CP) according to which an offender will progressively be punished more severely the more convictions he has accumulated. In sum, in the theoretical literature on the subject, Asymmetry A has been the mantra for several prominent retributivists. The aim of this paper is to point to an all but overlooked logical point in the discussion of punishment and recidivism. This is the point that it follows, from retributivism, that there is a reason - at least in some situations, as we shall see - to support what we may call: -/- Asymmetry B The punishment of repeat offenders should be more lenient than the punishment of first-time offenders. (shrink)
An argument against the use of non-medical egg freezing is that women should not use NMEF as it is an individualistic and morally problematic answer to the social problems that women face, for instance, in the labour market. Instead of allowing or expecting women to deal with these problems individually, we should address them by challenging the patriarchal structure of the labour market—for example, by securing equal pay and affordable childcare. In a recent article in Journal of Medical Ethics, I (...) argue that we should distinguish between different versions of this kind of reasoning and that all the versions discussed are implausible.1 In three separate comments following my article in the March 2021 issue of JME, Moen,2 Segers3 and Campo-Engelstein4 have supported and criticised some of my results. It is impossible, in such a short reply, to discuss all of their many relevant comments in detail, but in what follows I will reply to some of their criticism. Moen presents several interesting comments; let me try to deal with what I take to be the two most important ones. The first of these deals with some of my critical comments concerning …. (shrink)
A national opt-out system of post-mortem donation of scarce organs is preferable to an opt-in system. Unfortunately, the former system is not always feasible, and so in a recent JME article we canvassed the possibility of offering people a tax break for opting-in as a way of increasing the number of organs available for donation under an opt-in regime. Muireann Quigley and James Stacey Taylor criticize our proposal. Roughly, Quigley argues that our proposal is costly and, hence, is unlikely to (...) be implemented, while Taylor contests our response to a Titmuss-style objection to our scheme. In response to Quigley, we note that our proposal’s main attraction lies in gains not reflected in the figures presented by Quigley and that the mere fact that it is costly does not imply that it is unfeasible. In response to Taylor, we offer some textual evidence in support of our interpretation of Taylor and responds to his favoured interpretation of the Titmuss-style objection that many people seem to want to donate to charities even if they can deduct their donations from their income tax. Finally, we show why our views do not commit us to endorsing a free organ-market. (shrink)
Most of us want to have children. We want them to be healthy and have a good start in life. One way to achieve this goal is to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis . PGD enables people engaged in the process of in vitro fertilisation to acquire information about the genetic constitution of an early embryo. On the basis of this information, a decision can be made to transfer embryos without genetic defects to the uterus and terminate those with genetic defects.1However, (...) is it morally acceptable to use PGD to reduce the probability of children with severe genetic diseases being born? Is the current routine use of PGD in public healthcare services to select against severe genetic diseases like anencephaly, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome morally acceptable?These are complex questions involving a range of difficult ethical issues—for instance, critical discussions about the morality of embryo research and embryo termination.2 They also involve awkward conceptual issues concerning such matters as the meaning of words such as “disability”3 and “severe” in “severe genetic diseases”,4 which will not be discussed here.In this paper I examine an argument which aims to show that efforts to prevent the birth of severely disabled children using PGD are morally unacceptable. Essentially, this argument appeals to our concern for disabled people and the belief that PGD, through a slippery slope process, will have bad consequences for them. I conclude that the argument is problematic for a number of reasons. But before I examine the argument itself, it will be helpful to separate two types of slippery slope argument since these involve different kinds of reasoning.TWO TYPES OF ARGUMENTMany of the arguments against PGD point to the bad consequences it can be expected to have for disabled people. Central to all these …. (shrink)
This volume contains work by the very best young scholars working in Applied Ethics, gathering a range of new perspectives and thoughts on highly relevant topics, such as the environment, animals, computers, freedom of speech, human enhancement, war and poverty. For researchers and students working in or around this fascinating area of the discipline, the volume will provide a unique snapshot of where the cutting-edge work in the field is currently engaged and where it's headed.
Whether it is morally acceptable to offer rehabilitation by CNS-intervention to criminals as a condition for early release constitutes an important neuroethical question. Bomann-Larsen has recently suggested that such interventions are unacceptable if the offered treatment is not narrowly targeted at the behaviour for which the criminal is convicted. In this article it is argued that Bomann-Larsen’s analysis of the morality of offers does not provide a solid base for this conclusion and that, even if the analysis is assumed to (...) be correct, it still does not follow that voluntary rehabilitation schemes targeting behaviour beyond the act for which a criminal is convicted are inappropriate. (shrink)
John McMillan's detailed ethical analysis concerning the use of surgical castration of sex offenders in the Czech Republic and Germany is mainly devoted to considerations of coercion.1 This is not surprising. When castration is offered as an option to offenders and, at the same time, constitutes the only means by which these offenders are likely to be released from prison, it is reasonable—and close to the heart of modern medical ethics—to consider whether the offer involves some kind of coercion. However, (...) despite McMillan's seemingly careful consideration of this question, it appears to us that the matter is more complicated than his approach to it suggests.The first thing that adds to the complexity of the discussion concerns the alternative for sex offenders who do not accept the offer of castration. As mentioned, it is likely that these offenders will be kept in prison. McMillan even underlines that they may be detained ‘indefinitely’. And the response report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to the Czech Government also emphasises—as part of the Czech Criminal Code—the possibility of ‘security detention’ that will last for as long as required for ‘the protection of society’.2 Suppose, …. (shrink)
Non-medical egg freezing is egg freezing for the sake of delaying parenthood. The label ‘non-medical’ can be confusing, since the extraction and freezing of eggs is undeniably a medical procedure. The point is that whereas ‘medical egg freezing’ is done in order to retain capacity to procreate despite a potentially threatening medical condition, ‘non-medical egg freezing’ is done for the sake of getting more time to find a suitable partner and/or to establish a career before embarking on parenthood. One type (...) of argument against NMEF is the individualisation argument, according to which NMEF is problematic in virtue of being an individual solution to a social problem. The underlying problem that ought to be targeted, it is argued, is the patriarchal structures in the labour market, which disprivilege women and make it excessively difficult to combine a work and parenthood. In “Arguments on thin ice”, Thomas Søbirk Petersen helpfully distinguishes between three variants of the individualisation argument: the non-address view, the distraction view and the further oppression view.1 Petersen argues, moreover, that none of these is convincing, and therefore that the rejection of NMEF is unwarranted. According to the non-address view, the reason NMEF ought to be rejected is that “it cannot address the social causes that make it so difficult to balance career and family”2 or that it “does not substantially alter the social structures that have constructed inequalities”3 between women and men. Petersen …. (shrink)
In an effort to construct a plausible theory of experience-based welfare, Wayne Sumner imposes two requirements on the relevant kind of experience: the information requirement and the autonomy requirement. I argue that both requirements are problematic.First, I argue (very briefly) that a well-know case like ‘the deceived businessman’ need not support the information requirement as Sumner believes. Second, I introduce a case designed to cast further doubt on the information requirement. Third, I attend to a shortcoming in Sumner’s theory of (...) welfare, namely that it is unclear which of later and informed assessments are to be treated as authoritative when it comes to the evaluation of a person’s welfare. Finally, I suggest that, in combination with ‘welfarism’ (to which Sumner subscribes, and which has it that welfare is all that matters from a moral viewpoint), the information requirement entail morally troublesome conclusions: e.g. the conclusion that, from a moral point of view, we should, other things being equal, only to be concerned with the alternative that makes one person slightly better off in respect of welfare instead of also being morally concerned with the alternative that makes one person very happy. (shrink)
Much has been written about recidivist punishments, particularly within the area of criminology. However there is a notorious lack of penal philosophical reflection on this issue. This book attempts to fill that gap by presenting the philosopher’s view on this matter as a way of furthering the debate on recidivist punishments.