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Alan Tapper
Curtin University, Western Australia
  1. Revisiting the Concept of a Profession.Alan Tapper & Stephan Millett - 2015 - Research in Ethical Issues in Organisations 13:1-18.
    In this paper we are revisiting the concept of a profession. Definitions of the concept are readily encountered in the literature on professions and we have collected a sample of such definitions. From these samples we distil frequently occurring elements and ask whether a synthesis of these elements adequately explains the concept. We find that bringing the most frequently occurring elements together does not adequately address the reason (or purpose) that society differentiates professions from other occupations or activities -- why (...)
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  2.  26
    What Should Be Taught in Courses on Social Ethics?Alan Tapper - forthcoming - Research in Ethical Issues in Organisations 23.
    The purpose of this article is to discuss the concept and the content of courses on “social ethics”. I will present a dilemma that arises in the design of such courses. On the one hand, they may present versions of “applied ethics”; that is, courses in which moral theories are applied to moral and social problems. On the other hand, they may present generalised forms of “occupational ethics”, usually professional ethics, with some business ethics added to expand the range of (...)
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  3.  36
    Materialism.Alan Tapper - 2006 - In Anthony Grayling, Andrew Pyle & Naomi Goulder (eds.), The Continuum Encyclopaedia of British Philosophy, Volume 3. London, UK, and New York, USA: Thoemmes Continuum. pp. 2105-2106.
    Full-bodied materialism is a rarity in British philosophy. In fact, notable British materialists before recent times seem to number only two: Thomas Hobbes in the seventeenth century, and Joseph Priestley in the eighteenth. Their materialisms were attempts to construct a scientific ontology, but there the similarity ends, since they had very different ideas of the nature of science. Hobbes took science to be the study of motion, using Galilean geometric method; Priestley worked with a Newtonian methodology and conceived of matter (...)
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  4.  20
    The Beginnings of Priestley's Materialism.Alan Tapper - 1982 - Enlightenment and Dissent 1 (1):73-81.
    The mature materialism of Joseph Priestley's Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit of 1777 is based on three main arguments: that Newton's widely-accepted scientific methodology requires the rejection of the 'hypothesis' of the soul; that a dynamic theory of matter breaks down the active/passive dichotomy assumed by many dualists; and that interaction between matter and spirit is impossible. In Matter and Spirit it is the first two arguments which are given greatest prominence; but it is the third argument which first (...)
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  5.  21
    From Meaning to Morality in Kovesi and Harrison.Alan Tapper - 2014 - In Patricia Hanna (ed.), Reality and Culture: Essays on the Philosophy of Bernard Harrison. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi Press. pp. 97-112.
    The chapter shows that Bernard Harrison and Julius Kovesi are complementary thinkers, interested in similar questions, and arriving at closely comparable answers. It summarizes the theory of concepts and meaning that they shared and the way they have used this theory to make sense of morality.
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  6.  21
    Kovesi on Natural World Concepts and the Theory of Meaning.Alan Tapper - 2012 - In Alan Tapper & Brian Mooney (eds.), Meaning and Morality: Essays on the Philosophy of Julius Kovesi. Leiden: Brill. pp. 167-88.
    Julius Kovesi was a moral philosopher whose work rested on a theory of concepts and concept-formation, which he outlined in his 1967 book Moral Notions. But his contribution goes further than this. In sketching a theory of concepts and concept-formation, he was entering the philosophy of language. To make his account of moral concepts credible, he needs a broader story about how moral concepts compare with other sorts of concepts. Yet philosophy of language, once dominated by Wittgenstein and Austin, came (...)
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  7.  20
    The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work From 1773-1804. [REVIEW]Alan Tapper - 2008 - Enlightenment and Dissent 24:138-143.
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  8.  19
    MacIntyre and Kovesi on the Nature of Moral Concepts.Alan Tapper & R. E. Ewin - 2012 - In Alan Tapper & Brian Mooney (eds.), Meaning and Morality: Essays on the Philosophy of Julius Kovesi. Leiden: Brill. pp. 123-37.
    Julius Kovesi was a moral philosopher contemporary with Alasdair MacIntyre, and dealing with many of the same questions as MacIntyre. In our view, Kovesi’s moral philosophy is rich in ideas and worth revisiting. MacIntyre agrees: Kovesi’s Moral Notions, he has said, is ‘a minor classic in moral philosophy that has not yet received its due’. Kovesi was not a thinker whose work fits readily into any one tradition. Unlike the later MacIntyre, he was not a Thomistic Aristotelian, nor even an (...)
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  9.  16
    Joseph Priestley.Alan Tapper - 2002 - In Philip B. Dematteis Peter S. Fosl (ed.), British Philosophers 1500–1799. Columbia, USA: Broccoli Clark Layman. pp. 307-23.
    In his day, Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) was a philosopher of some importance. He argued the case for materialism perhaps more cogently than did any British thinker before recent times. He presented determinism vigorously, with a focus on the central issue of the nature of causation. He defended scientific realism against Reid’s Common Sense realism and against Hume’s phenomenonalism. He articulated a working scientist’s account of causation, induction and scientific progress. He defended the Argument from Design against Hume’s criticisms. His attempt (...)
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  10.  15
    Priestley on Politics, Progress and Moral Theology.Alan Tapper - 1996 - In Knud Haakonssen (ed.), Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 272-86.
    This essay compares and contrast Priestley and Burke on the nature of progress and politics and why, after having begun as political comrades, they arrived at such different evaluations of the French Revolution. Priestley had a robust account of progress, Burke a fragile one. Priestley's ideal, unlike Burke's, was not that of civic virtue but that of commercial virtue. By restricting the scope of government, Priestley diminished the status of the political virtues.
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  11.  14
    Is There an Ethics for Historians?Alan Tapper - 2009 - Studies in Western Australian History 26:16-36.
    How should historians treat one another? More generally, what are the ethical obligations that go with belonging to the profession of history? And more generally still, in what ways and in what sense is history a profession and how are professional ethics manifested in the profession? These are the questions I will canvass in this essay. In his introduction to The Historian’s Conscience, Stuart Macintyre observes that in the recent ‘public dispute over Australian history … there is surprisingly little attention (...)
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  12.  13
    Ethics in Politics.Alan Tapper - 2012 - In Peter Bowden (ed.), Applied Ethics: Strengthening Ethical Practices. pp. 177-85.
    The topic ‘ethics in politics’ might cover a multitude of sins. Here it will be restricted to the ethics of politicians in representative liberal democracies. The ethics of public servants will be left aside, as will be the ethics of politicians in other political systems. Plain criminal wrongdoing by politicians will also be outside our scope. The subject is still very large. It includes all those matters that reflect on a politician’s ethical reputation. Political wrongdoing can range in magnitude from (...)
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  13.  23
    Is Professional Ethics Grounded in General Ethical Principles?Alan Tapper & Stephan Millett - 2014 - Theoretical and Applied Ethics 3 (1):61-80.
    This article questions the commonly held view that professional ethics is grounded in general ethical principles, in particular, respect for client (or patient) autonomy and beneficence in the treatment of clients (or patients). Although these are admirable as general ethical principles, we argue that there is considerable logical difficulty in applying them to the professional-client relationship. The transition from general principles to professional ethics cannot be made because the intended conclusion applies differently to each of the parties involved, whereas the (...)
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  14.  66
    Some Problems in Piketty: An Internal Critique.Alan Tapper - 2016 - Journal of Income Distribution 25 (2-4):101-118.
    Thomas Piketty’s evidence on wealth distribution trends in Capital in the Twenty- First Century shows that – contra his own interpretation – there has been little rise in wealth inequality in Europe and America since the 1970s. This article relates that finding to the other principal trends in Piketty’s analysis: the capital/national income ratio trend, the capital-labor split of total incomes and the income inequality trend. Given that wealth inequality is not rising markedly, what can we deduce about the putative (...)
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  15.  45
    Reid and Priestley on Method and the Mind.Alan Tapper - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):511-525.
    Reid said little in his published writings about his contemporary Joseph Priestley, but his unpublished work is largely devoted to the latter. Much of Priestley's philosophical thought- his materialism, his determinism, his Lockean scientific realism- was as antithetical to Reid's as was Hume's philosophy in a very different way. Neither Reid nor Priestley formulated a full response to the other. Priestley's response to Reid came very early in his career, and is marked by haste and immaturity. In his last decade (...)
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  16.  27
    Values and Evaluations: Essays on Ethics and Ideology.Alan Tapper (ed.) - 1998 - New York, USA: Peter Lang.
    In the diverse but related essays collected in Values and Evaluations, Julius Kovesi's central concerns are the nature of ideological thinking and the rational core of morality. «It is characteristic of ideological beliefs that their truth is upheld independent of the arguments for them,» he contends. He examines ideological tendencies in the Marxist tradition, in attempts to demythologize Christianity, and in modern British ethical theory. In ethics, he continues the attack on the fact/value dichotomy he began in Moral Notions, a (...)
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  17.  12
    Introduction.T. Brian Mooney & Alan Tapper - 2012 - In Meaning and Morality: Essays on the Philosophy of Julius Kovesi. Leiden: Brill. pp. 1-14.
    Some philosophers need no introduction. Julius Kovesi is a philosopher who, regrettably, does need introducing. Kovesi’s career was as a moral philosopher and intellectual historian. This book is intended to reintroduce him, more than twenty years after his death and more than forty years after the publication of his only book, Moral Notions. This Introduction will sketch some of the key features of his life and philosophical thought.
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  18.  19
    Philosophical Perspectives on Evolutionary Theory: A Sketch of the History.Alan Tapper - 2009 - Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 92:461-464.
    Discussion of Darwinian evolutionary theory by philosophers has gone through a number of historical phases, from indifference (in the first hundred years), to criticism (in the 1960s and 70s), to enthusiasm and expansionism (since about 1980). This paper documents these phases and speculates about what, philosophically speaking, underlies them. It concludes with some comments on the present state of the evolutionary debate, where rapid and important changes within evolutionary theory may be passing by unnoticed by philosophers.
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  19.  57
    Moral Notions, with Three Papers on Plato.Alan Tapper, R. E. Ewin & Julius Kovesi (eds.) - 2004 - Christchurch, NZ: Cybereditions.
    Morality is often thought of as non-rational or sub-rational. In Moral Notions, first published in 1967, Julius Kovesi argues that the rationality of morality is built into the way we construct moral concepts. In showing this he also resolves the old Humean conundrum of the relation between 'facts' and 'values'. And he puts forward a method of reasoning that might make 'applied ethics' (at present largely a hodge-podge of opinions) into a constructive discipline. Kovesi's general theory of concepts - important (...)
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  20.  28
    Priestley's Metaphysics.Alan Tapper - 1987 - Dissertation, University of Western Australia
    Joseph Priestley was a man of many and varied intellectual interests. This thesis surveys his philosophical thought, with a central focus on his philosophical theology. The subject can be divided into two parts, natural theology and moral theology. Priestley's natural theology is a perhaps unique attempt to combine and harmonize materialism, determinism and theism, under the auspices of Newtonian methodology. His materialism is based on three arguments: that interaction between matter and spirit is impossible; that a dynamic theory of matter (...)
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  21.  13
    The Family in the Welfare State.Alan Tapper - 1990 - Melbourne, Australia: Allen and Unwin.
    The book is a critical analysis of Australian family policy issues. The argument of the book rests on three cardinal principles. The first is that the family is a miniature society, a social unit. The second is that in producing, caring for, and educating children the family contributes to the good of the wider society. The third is that in caring for dependants – young or old – the family is a welfare institution. The general thrust of the book is (...)
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