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Utilitarianism

In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press (2009)

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  1. The Cost of Free Speech: Pornography, Hate Speech, and Their Challenge to Liberalism.Abigail Levin - 2010 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    The distinctly contemporary proliferation of pornography and hate speech poses a challenge to liberalism's traditional ideal of a 'marketplace of ideas' facilitated by state neutrality about the content of speech. This new study argues that the liberal state ought to depart from neutrality to meet this challenge.
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  • Duties Regarding Nature: A Kantian Environmental Ethic.Toby Svoboda - 2015 - Routledge.
    In this book, Toby Svoboda develops and defends a Kantian environmental virtue ethic, challenging the widely-held view that Kant's moral philosophy takes an instrumental view toward nature and animals and has little to offer environmental ethics. On the contrary, Svoboda posits that there is good moral reason to care about non-human organisms in their own right and to value their flourishing independently of human interests, since doing so is constitutive of certain virtues. Svoboda argues that Kant’s account of indirect duties (...)
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  • Hedonism reconsidered.Roger Crisp - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):619–645.
    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 (...)
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  • Rights theory.George W. Rainbolt - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (1):11–21.
    Both moral and legal theory feature prominent talk about rights. Yet there is very little agreement about what rights are, about why we use rights in our moral or legal theories, or about what to do when there is a conflict between rights. This article surveys many of the popular theory for analysing rights and explaining their scope.
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  • Motive and Right Action.Liezl van Zyl - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):405-415.
    Some philosophers believe that a change in motive alone is sometimes sufficient to bring about a change in the deontic status (rightness or wrongness) of an action. I refer to this position as ‘weak motivism’, and distinguish it from ‘strong’ and ‘partial motivism’. I examine a number of cases where our intuitive judgements appear to support the weak motivist’s thesis, and argue that in each case an alternative explanation can be given for why a change in motive brings about (or, (...)
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  • Can Positive Duties be Derived from Kant’s Categorical Imperative?Michael Yudanin - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3):595-614.
    Kant’s moral philosophy usually considers two types of duties: negative duties that prohibit certain actions and positive duties commanding action. With that, Kant insists on deriving all morality from reason alone. Such is the Categorical Imperative that Kant lays at the basis of ethics. Yet while negative duties can be derived from the Categorical Imperative and thus from reason, the paper argues that this is not the case with positive duties. After answering a number of attempts to derive positive duties (...)
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  • Well-being, categorical deprivation and the role of education.Yossi Yonah - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 28 (2):191–204.
    ABSTRACT“How should a person lead her life?” The purpose of this paper is to suggest some principles (not a complete list) which will serve us ‘intellectual instruments’ for assessing forms of life. These principles are utilitarian in nature, and, as I will argue, essential to a reasonably rich account of personal well-being. The principles suggested are not instrumental, that is, they determine the worthiness of a form of life led by an agent irrespective of whether it satisfies her existing desires (...)
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  • Well-being, categorical deprivation and pleasure.Yossi Yonah - 2001 - Philosophia 28 (1-4):233-253.
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  • The logic and mill's infamous proof in utilitarianism.Dan Yim - 2008 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (4):773 – 788.
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  • Economic Behavior—Evolutionary Versus Behavioral Perspectives.Ulrich Witt - 2011 - Biological Theory 6 (4):388-398.
    Behavioral economics focuses mainly on how limitations of the human cognitive apparatus, risk attitudes, and human sociality affect decision making. The former two lead to deviations from rationality standards, the latter to deviations from rational self-interest. Some of these research interests are also shared by evolutionary psychology which, however, explains the observed deviations by features of the human genetic endowment conjectured to have evolved under fierce selection pressure in early human phylogeny. Important as the decision-making theoretical perspective of the two (...)
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  • Good, Actually: Aristotelian Metaphysics and the ‘Guise of the Good’.Adam M. Willows - 2022 - Philosophy 97 (2):187-205.
    In this paper I argue that both defence and criticism of the claim that humans act ‘under the guise of the good’ neglects the metaphysical roots of the theory. I begin with an overview of the theory and its modern commentators, with critics noting the apparent possibility of acting against the good, and supporters claiming that such actions are instances of error. These debates reduce the ‘guise of the good’ to a claim about intention and moral action, and in so (...)
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  • Beyond Voluntariness, Beyond CSR: Making a Case for Human Rights and Justice.Florian Wettstein - 2009 - Business and Society Review 114 (1):125-152.
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  • Intrinsic values and reasons for action.Ralph Wedgwood - 2009 - Philosophical Issues 19 (1):342-363.
    What reasons for action do we have? What explains why we have these reasons? This paper articulates some of the basic structural features of a theory that would provide answers to these questions. According to this theory, reasons for action are all grounded in intrinsic values, but in a way that makes room for a thoroughly non-consequentialist view of the way in which intrinsic values generate reasons for aaction.
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  • Forgiveness and its Place in Ethics.Jeremy Watkins - 2005 - Theoria 71 (1):59-77.
    A number of philosophers have suggested that acts of forgiveness are pointless if the wrongdoer has atoned for his offence (since there is nothing to be forgiven) and unjustified if no atonement has been forthcoming (since there are no grounds for forgiveness). My aim in this paper is twofold. First, I try to remove this dilemma and show that forgiveness has a proper place in ethics by providing an account of its nature and justification. Second, I argue that the dilemma (...)
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  • Codes of ethics: Bricks without straw.Richard C. Warren - 1993 - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 2 (4):185–191.
    ’Ethical codes of conduct are superficial and distracting answers to the question of how to promote ethical behaviour in corporate life.’The author is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Business Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University.
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  • A Moderate Defence of the Use of Thought Experiments in Applied Ethics.Adrian Walsh - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (4):467-481.
    Thought experiments have played a pivotal role in many debates within ethics—and in particular within applied ethics—over the past 30 years. Nonetheless, despite their having become a commonly used philosophical tool, there is something odd about the extensive reliance upon thought experiments in areas of philosophy, such as applied ethics, that are so obviously oriented towards practical life. Herein I provide a moderate defence of their use in applied philosophy against those three objections. I do not defend all possible uses (...)
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  • Five Elements of Normative Ethics - A General Theory of Normative Individualism.Dietmar von der Pfordten - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):449 - 471.
    The article tries to inquire a third way in normative ethics between consequentialism or utilitarianism and deontology or Kantianism. To find such a third way in normative ethics, one has to analyze the elements of these classical theories and to look if they are justified. In this article it is argued that an adequate normative ethics has to contain the following five elements: (1) normative individualism, i. e., the view that in the last instance moral norms and values can only (...)
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  • Kantian Remorse with and without Self-Retribution.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2022 - Kantian Review 27 (3):421-441.
    This is a semifinal draft of a forthcoming paper. Kant’s account of the pain of remorse involves a hybrid justification based on self-retribution, but constrained by forward-looking principles which say that we must channel remorse into improvement, and moderate its pain to avoid damaging our rational agency. Kant’s corpus also offers material for a revisionist but textually-grounded alternative account based on wrongdoers’ sympathy for the pain they cause. This account is based on the value of care, and has forward-looking constraints (...)
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  • Integral Perspective on Happiness.Joonas Uotinen - 2015 - Approaching Religion 5 (2):93-106.
    A happiness science has emerged amidst, and spans, the social sciences. This research, despite the long philosophical tradition on happiness, is in its infancy and a robust theory of happiness is called for. I will review parts of the literature and some of the main happiness theories using Ken Wilber’s Integral approach. I will concentrate largely on Aristotle’s eudaimonia, as that has re-emerged into the centre of happiness discussions as a possible contender for the prevailing subjective happiness theories. The Integral (...)
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  • The absolutism problem in On Liberty.Piers Norris Turner - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3):322-340.
    Mill argues that, apart from the principle of utility, his utilitarianism is incompatible with absolutes. Yet in On Liberty he introduces an exceptionless anti-paternalism principle—his liberty principle. In this paper I address ‘the absolutism problem,’ that is, whether Mill's utilitarianism can accommodate an exceptionless principle. Mill's absolute claim is not a mere bit of rhetoric. But the four main solutions to the absolutism problem are also not supported by the relevant texts. I defend a fifth solution—the competence view—that turns on (...)
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  • A feminist utilitarian perspective on euthanasia: from Nancy Crick to Terri Schiavo.Gail Tulloch - 2005 - Nursing Inquiry 12 (2):155-160.
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  • An argument against the social fact thesis (and some additional preliminary steps towards a new conception of legal positivism).Kevin Toh - 2008 - Law and Philosophy 27 (5):445 - 504.
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  • Substance and procedure in theories of prudential value.Valerie Tiberius - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (3):373 – 391.
    In this paper I argue that the debate between subjective and objective theories of prudential value obscures the way in which elements of both are needed for a comprehensive theory of prudential value. I suggest that we characterize these two types of theory in terms of their different aims: procedural (or subjective) theories give an account of the necessary conditions for something to count as good for a person, while substantive (or objective) theories give an account of what is good (...)
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  • Ethics in agricultural research.Paul B. Thompson - 1988 - Journal of Agricultural Ethics 1 (1):11-20.
    Utilitarian ethics provides a model for evaluating moral responsibility in agricultural research decisions according to the balance of costs and benefits accruing to the public at large. Given the traditions and special requirements of agricultural research planning, utilitarian theory is well adapted to serve as a starting point for evaluating these decisions, but utilitarianism has defects that are well documented in the philosophical literature. Criticisms of research decisions in agricultural mechanization and biotechnology correspond to documented defects in utilitarian theory. Research (...)
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  • Humanitarian intervention: Loose ends.Fernando R. Tesón - 2011 - Journal of Military Ethics 10 (3):192-212.
    Abstract The article addresses three aspects of the humanitarian intervention doctrine. It argues, first, that the value of sovereignty rests on the justified social processes of the target state ? the horizontal contract. Foreign interventions, even when otherwise justified, must respect the horizontal contract. In contrast, morally objectionable social processes (such as the subjection of women) are not protected by sovereignty (intervention, of course, may be banned for other reasons). In addition, tyrants have no moral protection against interventions directed at (...)
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  • Death, Posthumous Harm, and Bioethics.James Stacey Taylor - 2012 - New York: Routledge.
    _Death, Posthumous Harm, and Bioethics_ offers a highly distinctive and original approach to the metaphysics of death and applies this approach to contemporary debates in bioethics that address end-of-life and post-mortem issues. Taylor defends the controversial Epicurean view that death is not a harm to the person who dies and the neo-Epicurean thesis that persons cannot be affected by events that occur after their deaths, and hence that posthumous harms are impossible. He then extends this argument by asserting that the (...)
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  • La philosophie de la normativité ou comment tenter de faire un peu d’ordre.Christine Tappolet & Alain Voizard - 2011 - Dialogue 50 (2):239-246.
    Cette introduction à une collection d'articles sur la normativité propose d'adopter les divisions trouvées habituellement en éthique pour aborder la normativité. Ainsi, il semble utile de diviser les questions en cinq groupes: l'ontologie normative, la sémantique normative, l'épistémologie normative, la psychologie normative, et finalement, les questions normatives substantielles.
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  • Divine agriculture.Charles Taliaferro - 1992 - Agriculture and Human Values 9 (3):71-80.
    Theological literacy is an important asset in the development of a comprehensive agricultural ethic and philosophy. Four areas are delimited in which theological reflection is relevant for agricultural study.
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  • Is Aerosol Geoengineering Ethically Preferable to Other Climate Change Strategies?Toby Svoboda - 2012 - Ethics and the Environment 17 (2):111-135.
    In this paper, I address the question of whether aerosol geoengineering (AG) ought to be deployed as a response to climate change. First, I distinguish AG from emissions mitigation, adaptation, and other geoengineering strategies. Second, I discuss advantages and disadvantages of AG, including its potential to result in substantial harm to some persons. Third, I critique three arguments against AG deployment, suggesting reasons why these arguments should be rejected. Fourth, I consider an argument that, in scenarios in which all available (...)
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  • Asimov’s “three laws of robotics” and machine metaethics.Susan Leigh Anderson - 2008 - AI and Society 22 (4):477-493.
    Using Asimov’s “Bicentennial Man” as a springboard, a number of metaethical issues concerning the emerging field of machine ethics are discussed. Although the ultimate goal of machine ethics is to create autonomous ethical machines, this presents a number of challenges. A good way to begin the task of making ethics computable is to create a program that enables a machine to act an ethical advisor to human beings. This project, unlike creating an autonomous ethical machine, will not require that we (...)
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  • Consequentialism or deontology?Georg Spielthenner - 2005 - Philosophia 33 (1-4):217-235.
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  • The Good Cause Account of the Meaning of Life.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):536-562.
    I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally responsible for the (...)
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  • The Power to Make Others Worship.Aaron Smuts - 2012 - Religious Studies 48 (2):221 - 237.
    Can any being worthy of worship make others worship it? I think not. By way of an analogy to love, I argue that it is perfectly coherent to think that one could be made to worship. However, forcing someone to worship violates their autonomy, not because worship must be freely given, but because forced worship would be inauthentic—much like love earned through potions. For this reason, I argue that one cannot be made to worship properly; forced worship would be unfitting. (...)
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  • Worthy actions.Steven G. Smith - 2001 - The Journal of Ethics 5 (4):315-333.
    Concrete worthy actions have not been aterminus of discernment for moral theory in theway that they often are for the deliberatingmoral agent. Some ordinary hallmarks of worthyactions challenge the unworldly and impersonalways of envisioning life that dominatephilosophical ethics. I discuss six: a worthyaction (1) improves the world in moralperspective, (2) discloses the agent''s power,(3) is personally rewarding, (4) unites virtue,justice, and happiness, (5) is a prime objectof moral choice, and (6) belongs to a practicalgenre (such as work or love). Appreciatingworthy (...)
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  • Review of Terence Irwin, The Development of Ethics: A Historical and Critical Study. Volume III: From Kant To Rawls[REVIEW]Anthony Skelton - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (2):279-286.
    This is a critical review of Terence Irwin's The Development of Ethics: A Historical and Critical Study. Volume III: From Kant to Rawls. Among other things, the review remarks on the book's treatment of utilitarianism and on its lack of discussion of work in feminist ethics in the twentieth century.
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  • Seemings and the possibility of epistemic justification.Matthew Skene - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):539-559.
    Abstract I provide an account of the nature of seemings that explains why they are necessary for justification. The account grows out of a picture of cognition that explains what is required for epistemic agency. According to this account, epistemic agency requires (1) possessing the epistemic aims of forming true beliefs and avoiding errors, and (2) having some means of forming beliefs in order to satisfy those aims. I then argue that seeming are motives for belief characterized by their role (...)
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  • Rethinking Virtue Ethics and Social Justice with Aristotle and Confucius.May Sim - 2010 - Asian Philosophy 20 (2):195-213.
    Comparing Aristotle's and Confucius' ethics, where each represents an ethics of virtue, I show that they are not susceptible to some of the frequent charges against them when compared to non-virtue ethical theories like utilitarianism and deontology. These charges are that virtue ethics: (1) lack universal laws; they cannot (a) provide content for actions, and (b) they do not consider actions in the evaluation of morality. (2) Virtue ethics cannot provide the resources for dealing with social justice and human rights (...)
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  • Does Doxastic Justification Have a Basing Requirement?Paul Silva - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):371-387.
    The distinction between propositional and doxastic justification is the distinction between having justification to believe P (= propositional justification) versus having a justified belief in P (= doxastic justification). The focus of this paper is on doxastic justification and on what conditions are necessary for having it. In particular, I challenge the basing demand on doxastic justification, i.e., the idea that one can have a doxastically justified belief only if one’s belief is based on an epistemically appropriate reason. This demand (...)
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  • On 'imperfect' imperfect duties and the epistemic demands of integrationist approaches to justice.Christian Seidel - 2014 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (1):39-42.
    Christian Baatz claims that individuals have an imperfect duty to reduce emissions as far as can reasonably be demanded of them. His ‘epistemic’ argument roughly runs like this:(P1...
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  • Hierarchical consequentialism.Re'em Segev - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (3):309-330.
    The paper considers a hierarchical theory that combines concern for two values: individual well-being – as a fundamental, first-order value – and (distributive) fairness – as a high-order value that its exclusive function is to complete the value of individual well-being by resolving internal clashes within it that occur in interpersonal conflicts. The argument for this unique conception of high-order fairness is that fairness is morally significant in itself only regarding what matters – individual well-being – and when it matters (...)
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  • The financial crisis, the exemption view and the problem of the harmless torturer.Michael Schefczyk - 2012 - Philosophy of Management 11 (1):2538.
    Richard Posner avers in his A Failure of Capitalism that managers bear no moral responsibility for the financial crisis. This view has numerous supporters in economics and philosophy, and I shall call it the ‘exemption view’. In this paper, I criticise four arguments for the exemption view and propose a superior alternative, the ‘participation view’. The participation view claims that managers can be co-responsible for harm, even if their actions were not necessary or sufficient conditions for its occurrence. The paper (...)
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  • Ethically insoluble dilemmas in war.Marcus Schulzke - 2013 - Journal of Military Ethics 12 (2):95 - 110.
    Soldiers encounter extremely difficult ethical dilemmas during wars, as they must make decisions about how to follow the laws of war and their rules of engagement while still protecting themselves and accomplishing their missions. Scholarship on just war theory and military ethics generally describe soldiers' dilemmas as being ethical challenges that soldiers can overcome by using the correct ethical reasoning process. However, this essay argues that some of the apparent ethical dilemmas that soldiers confront are actually ethically insoluble dilemmas that (...)
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  • Reinterpreting the Qualitative Hedonism Advanced by J.S. Mill.Ben Saunders - 2011 - Journal of Value Inquiry 45 (2):187-201.
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  • In Defense of the Pig.Steve F. Sapontzis - 2014 - Journal of Animal Ethics 4 (1):5-17,.
    Mill proclaimed that it is better to be a dissatisfied human than a satisfied pig because of the superior quality of human experience. Contemporary utilitarians share this commitment of our species to the superior value of normal human life, though they base this on the greater richness of such life. This article challenges that defense of this commitment on empirical, conceptual, and epistemic grounds. How do we measure the richness of a life? And who determines the value of a life? (...)
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  • The Re-contextualization of the Patient: What Home Health Care Can Teach Us About Medical Decision-Making.Erica K. Salter - 2015 - HEC Forum 27 (2):143-156.
    This article examines the role of context in the development and deployment of standards of medical decision-making. First, it demonstrates that bioethics, and our dominant standards of medical decision-making, developed out of a specific historical and philosophical environment that prioritized technology over the person, standardization over particularity, individuality over relationship and rationality over other forms of knowing. These forces de-contextualize the patient and encourage decision-making that conforms to the unnatural and contrived environment of the hospital. The article then explores several (...)
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  • Against Constitutive Incommensurability or Buying and Selling Friends.Ruth Chang - 2001 - Noûs 35 (s1):33 - 60.
    Recently, some of the leading proponents of the view that there is widespread incommensurability among goods have suggested that the incommensurability of some goods is a constitutive feature of the goods themselves. So, for example, a friendship and a million dollars are incommensurable because it is part of what it is to be a friendship that it be incommensurable with money. According to these ‘constitutive incommensurabilists’ incommensurability follows from the very nature of certain goods. In this paper, I examine this (...)
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  • Genesis revisited: Can we do better than God?Michael Ruse - 1984 - Zygon 19 (3):297-316.
    WE ARE FACED WITH GROWING POWERS OF MANIPULATION OF OUR HUMAN GENETIC MAKEUP. WHILE NOT DENYING THAT THESE POWERS CAN BE USED FOR GREAT GOOD, IT BEHOOVES US TO THINK NOW OF POSSIBLE UPPER LIMITS TO THE CHANGE THAT WE MIGHT WANT TO EFFECT. I ARGUE THAT THOUGHTS OF CHANGING THE HUMAN SPECIES INTO A RACE OF SUPERMEN AND SUPERWOMEN ARE BASED ON WEAK PREMISES. GENETIC FINE-TUNING MAY INDEED BE IN ORDER; WHOLESALE GENETIC CHANGE IS NOT.
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  • Perfect Happiness.Daniel Rönnedal - 2021 - Symposion. Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 8 (1):89-116.
    In this paper, I will develop a new theory of the nature of happiness, or “perfect happiness.” I will examine what perfect happiness is and what it is not and I will try to answer some fundamental questions about this property. According to the theory, which I shall call “the fulfillment theory,” perfect happiness is perfect fulfillment. The analysis of happiness in this paper is a development of the old idea that happiness is getting what you want and can be (...)
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  • Moral Rebukes and Social Avoidance.Linda Radzik - 2014 - Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (4):643-661.
    IntroductionStrawsonian theories of moral responsibility, which aim to ground the phenomenon of moral responsibility in our practices of holding one another accountable for our actions, lead us to think more carefully about the content of those practices. Strawson and his followers have done much to explore the significance of the deontic reactive attitudes (resentment, indignation and guilt), which we tend to aim at wrongdoers.P. F. Strawson, "Freedom and Resentment," Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. 48 (1962). See also, R. Jay (...)
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  • Autonomous Machines, Moral Judgment, and Acting for the Right Reasons.Duncan Purves, Ryan Jenkins & Bradley J. Strawser - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):851-872.
    We propose that the prevalent moral aversion to AWS is supported by a pair of compelling objections. First, we argue that even a sophisticated robot is not the kind of thing that is capable of replicating human moral judgment. This conclusion follows if human moral judgment is not codifiable, i.e., it cannot be captured by a list of rules. Moral judgment requires either the ability to engage in wide reflective equilibrium, the ability to perceive certain facts as moral considerations, moral (...)
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