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1. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Trudy C. Conway Compassion: An Aristotelian Approach
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The following three papers focus on compassion, an issue well worth our consideration in our contemporary age, and most especially during our recent national tragedy. It is hoped that these philosophical discussions of compassion may help us as we, on personal and societal levels, come to grips with immense human suffering. The topic of compassion brings us into an exploration of a cluster of related philosophical issues and is thus a good stepping off point for inquiry. The role of the first paper is that of stage setting, to simply layout an approach to compassion presented by Aristotle and developed by Martha Nussbaum. This approach served as the introductory consideration in a course on compassion, taught by the first two commentators. Initially we wondered if we could sustain discussion on this narrow topic over fourteen weeks, but found the course left students with numerous questions worth their further consideration. So too in these papers, a number of issues will remain untouched, such as the relation of compassion and public policy and specific approaches to the cultivating of compassion, both of which are explored at length by Martha Nussbaum. This first paper frames our discussion, by presenting in outline form key points addressed in Martha Nussbaum’s Aristotelian discussion of the emotion of compassion, and touches upon issues developed in the next two papers.
2. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Jeremiah Conway A Buddhist Critique of Nussbaum’s Account of Compassion
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This paper examines Martha Nussbaum’s account of compassion from the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism. It focuses on the three criteria of compassion, set forth by Nussbaum in a number of her works, and shows why Buddhism would reject each of them. The paper concludes that Nussbaum’s analysis of compassion is more accurately described as an account of pity.
3. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Lani Roberts Barriers to Feeling and Actualizing Compassion
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Hume and Rousseau argue that “feeling with and/or for others” is natural and basic to us as human persons. but Royce claims that merely feeling the fleeting impulse of sympathy is not the moral insight itself. Compassion must be both felt and acted upon for it to play the role in morality ascribed by Hume and Rousseau. Why is it so often the case that we fail to feel compassion for others and, even when we do, why do we often fail to act on this basis? There are multiple socially constructed barriers to feeling and acting on compassion, three of which are discussed: null curriculum. stereotyping and privileges. Finally, the Dalai Lama maintains that it is in every person’s own self-interest to develop compassion for others because it is the source of both inner and external peace.
4. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Frank W. Derringh Is Coerced Fertility Reduction to Preserve Nature Justifiable?
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Human population growth must end, and the sooner the better, for both nature and a humanity that pursues boundlessly increasing affluence. Poisoning of organisms and massive extinctions result, exacerbated by population momentum. Infliction of pain and death largely for trivial reasons constitutes the ignoble dénouement of our history. Reducing human numbers would be only one fitting response to recognition of this situation. Reliance on voluntary socio-economic reforms, including even the empowennent of women, appears unlikely to lead to below-replacement-level fertility, since families on average still elect to have more than two children. Discussed are three reasons for thinking that coercive measures could help to engender a decreasing human population without negating preferable voluntary efforts to the same end. Hence some coercion to reduce fertility is justifiable.
5. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Lucas D. Introna Virtuality and Morality: On (not) Being Disturbed by the Other
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This paper critically describes the mediation of social relations by information technology, drawing on the work of Emmanuel Levinas. In the first of three movements, I discuss ethical relations as primordial sociality based in proximity. In the second movement I discuss the how the self encounters the Other, the ethical contact. How can the self make contact with the Other without turning the Other into a theme, a concept or a category? In the third movement, I discuss the electronic mediation of the social as simulation. I argue that simulation shatters proximity since it transforms expression, the trace, into presentation, an image. I argue that the distance produced by the mediation increases the potential for the Other to become appropriated by the self-certain ego as a theme, according to its categories. In simulation, proximity is shattered and the ego can no longer be disturbed---no longer become a hostage. In a final section, I explore alternative arguments for the possibility of electronic mediation that preserves the trace, that possibility of being disturbed.
6. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Stephen Kershnar The Case Against Reparations
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George Schedler raises interesting issues with regard to the amount of reparations owed for slavery, the parties who are owed reparations, and the standard for these reparations. His arguments, however, do not hold up upon analysis. His analysis of the case for the descendants of slaves being owed compensation seriously overestimates the case for such reparations. He does not identify the grounds for such compensation, i.e., either stolen inheritance or the descendants’ trustee-like control over the slave’s estate, and this results in his not identifying the metaphysical and epistemic problems that accompany the descendants’ claim to reparations. In analyzing whether the U.S. government owes compensation, Schedler provides arguments based on its small role in bringing about slavery and the break in national identity that followed the Civil War. Such arguments fail but his conclusion can be supported by other arguments, specifically the nature of the federal government’s relation to slavery and the limited nature of its powers. Thus, the case against reparations is overwhelming but not for the reasons Schedler provides.
7. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Joseph W. Long The Logical Mistake of Racism
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In this paper, I will explore and attempt to define one very important type of egregious discrimination of persons, racism. I will argue that racism involves a kind of logical mistake; specifically. I hope to show that racists commit the naturalistic fallacy. Finally, I will defend my account of racism against two challenges, the most important of which argues that if racism is merely a logical error then racists are not morally culpable.
8. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Susan M. Purviance Concessions to Moral Particularism
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In this paper I examine the particularist attack on deductive uses of moral principles, reviewing the critiques of the uniformity of moral reasons and impartiality in ethics, looking principally at arguments from Larry Blum, Jonathan Dancy, and Margaret Walker. I defend the action-guiding-ness of moral principles themselves, but consider various ways to accommodate the objections coming fromparticularism. I conclude that one objection to the impartialist theory of value must be conceded without qualification: generalism is unable to account for the unique and irreplaceable value of individual persons. I present an example which supports my view andshows that, in the context of lived experience, replaceability is contradicted. Indeed there may be few constants of value in the narrative of one’s life, as experiences overlay supposed constants with continual new shading, and create even deeper sorts of transformation in valuing. In the end, both particularized moral judgment and the articulation of fact with principle contribute to moral discernment.
9. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Karen G. Ruffle Curing Iranian Occidentosis: Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s Poly-Methodic Prescription
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In this paper, I shall argue that during the period from the end of World War II until just before the Islamic revolution of 1979, a body of literature emerged critiquing the petro-colonialism of the United States and select European countries, which infected Iran with a severe case of “occidentosis.” This set the stage for the revolution, and a presentation of the principle author of occidentosis, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, will facilitate understanding of the Iranian intellectual tradition.
10. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Andrew Ward Values and Science: Dewey and Pragmatist Inquiry
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This essay argues for a pragmatist notion of inquiry which ties together science and morality into a seamless whole, pace David Hume, Gilbert Harman, and others who would separate science and morality as different kinds of inquiry.
11. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
James B. Sauer Philosophy in the Contemporary World Cumulative Index Volume 6 (Spring 1999)-Volume 7 (Winter 2000)
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12. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Joe Frank Jones, III Farewell to the Editorship of the Journal; Hello to the Directorship of SPCW
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