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1. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Mark A. Davidson No Conscience to Shock: The Ethical Dimensions of Non-Discretionary Personal Debt Assumption
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Over the last thirty years, personal debt loads have increased dramatically. Lower income earners borrow money to purchase basic goods and services, so their debt is frequently non-discretionary. The impact of non-discretionary personal debt on debtors can be as, if not more, harmful than government regulations that have been declared unconstitutional. In this regard, the impact of personal debt is tantamount to the impact of a civil rights violation. What separates the impact of unconstitutional state action from that of personal debt is the assumption that only the latter are the result of consensual transactions. Consent, however, is not a dyadic phenomenon, it exists in gradations. The quality of consent is weakened when the agent is making choices in response to pressures, and the empiricalquestion of the extent to which a consent transaction is unforced is distinct from the normative question of whether a transaction is legitimate, or fair. It is necessary to devise a new taxonomy of language to clearly distinguish the empirical and normative questions. This elucidates the fact that lower income people are under more pressure to borrow money than are upper income individuals to pay progressive rates of income tax. To argue that the latter are ‘coerced,’ is to admit that the low income individual’s decision to borrow is similarly forced. This admission suggests that a significant portion of citizens of market-based economies (notably Canada and the U.S.) are being forced to endure harms tantamount to civil rights violations. The admission also suggests that free markets harbour forces that undermine individual autonomy, and the absence of corrective state regulation exacerbates the problem.
2. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Nicholas Dixon Handguns, Philosophers, and the Right to Self-Defense
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Within the last decade or so several philosophers have argued against handgun prohibition on the ground that it violates the right to self-defense. However, even these philosophers grant that the right to own handguns is not absolute and could be overridden if doing so would bring about an enormous social good. Analysis of intra-United States empirical data cited by gun rights advocates indicates that guns do not make us safer, while international data lends powerful support to the thesis that guns do indeed increase homicide. If handguns do not make us safer, then appealing to the right to self-defense as an objection to prohibition is moot. Prohibition neither violates the right to self-defense nor sacrifices anyone’s interests for the common good, since it makes each person less likely to be murderedthan the current permissive handgun laws. Moreover, we also must take into account the right to life of victims of handgun crimes made possible by liberal handgun laws. Consequently, invoking the right to self-defense does not provide any sound reason against handgun prohibition over and above familiar utilitarian objections, which are themselves refuted by the empirical evidence.
3. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Christopher Arroyo Same-Sex Marriage, ‘Homosexual Desire,’ and the Capacity to Love
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The issue of same-sex marriage continues to be controversial in the United States. Opponents of same-sex marriage offer a variety of objections in defense of their position. One such objection (which I identify as the Inability to Love objection, or ILO) is that legalizing same-sex marriage would promote a counterfeit good (homosexual marriage) as a genuine good (heterosexual marriage), since homosexuals are incapable of genuine, full erotic love. Proponents of ILO argue that homosexuals are incapable of genuine erotic love because all homosexual relationships lack genuine sexual and affective complementarity. Relying on the arguments of Gareth Moore, I argue against ILO, claiming that it rests on an erroneous conception of desire. Once this conception of desire is corrected, the mythof “homosexual desire” is debunked and along with it the main argument in support of the claim that homosexuals are incapable of love.
4. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Sherwin Klein Technology, Corporations, and Contemporary Globalization: An Ethical and Social Critique
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I explore certain interconnections and commonalities among technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization in order to best understand the dangerous ethical and social consequences that accrue from them. I begin by discussing the notion of means becoming ends. Technology as means and corporate instrumental values tend to become endsin-themselves. I then suggest that technologist’s and corporate manager’s quantitative methods are ill-equipped to deal with questions of intrinsic value or ends, which are qualitative. Moreover, “development,” a key term in globalization discussions, is often defined quantitatively (in economic terms) rather than qualitatively. I argue that this view is too narrow. Next, I discuss limiting autonomy as an important issue common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization. Material progress as a goal common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization is also considered. Technological mistakes and a neo-liberal, laissez-faire economy are said to be self-corrective, and this feature is used to support the notion of material progress. I argue that this has proved to be too optimistic. In the last section, I use certain contemporary leadership theorists to criticizeKenneth Galbraith’s and Peter Drucker’s views on corporate governance by technocratic specialists. I also discuss recent developments of the concept of technological assessment and related work by TU Delft researchers.
5. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Monica Aufrecht Climate Change and Structural Emissions: Moral Obligations at the Individual Level
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Given that mitigating climate change is a large-scale global issue, what obligations do individuals have to lower their personal carbon emissions? I survey recent suggestions by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Dale Jamieson and offer models for thinking about their respective approaches. I then present a third model based on the notion of structural violence. While the three models are not mutually incompatible, each one suggests a different focus for mitigating climate change. In the end, I agree with Sinnott-Armstrong that people have limited moral obligations to directly lower personal emissions, but I offer different reasons for this conclusion, namely that the structural arrangements of our lives place a limit on how much individuals can restrict their own emissions. Thus, individuals should focus their efforts on changing the systems instead (e.g., the design of cities, laws and regulation, etc.), which will lead to lower emissions on a larger scale.
6. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Ben Hale The Methods of Applied Philosophy and the Tools of the Policy Sciences
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In this paper I argue that applied philosophers hoping to develop a stronger role in public policy formation can begin by aligning their methods with the tools employed in the policy sciences. I proceed first by characterizing the standard view of policymaking and policy education as instrumentally oriented toward the employment of specific policy tools. I then investigate pressures internal to philosophy that nudge work in applied philosophy toward the periphery of policy debates. I capture the dynamics of these pressures by framing them as the “dilemma dilemma” and the “problem problem.” Seeking a remedy, I turn to the interdisciplinarity of a unique approach to policymaking generally known as the “policy sciences.” Finally, I investigate the case of bioethics, an instance where philosophy has made decent headway with policymakers. From this I draw parallels to public policy. I suggest that because the policy sciences are essentially analchemist’s brew of academic fields, and because philosophy covers many of the foundational questions associated with these fields, it is only natural that applied philosophers should begin collaborations with other applied academics by adopting the strategies that have so successfully applied in other theoretical fields.
symposium on liberty and equality
7. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jan Narveson, James P. Sterba Introduction
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8. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Peter Vallentyne Equal Negative Liberty and Welfare Rights
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In Are Equal Liberty and Equality Compatible?, Jan Narveson and James Sterba insightfully debate whether a right to maximum equal negative liberty requires, or at least is compatible with, a right to welfare. Narveson argues that the two rights are incompatible, whereas Sterba argues that the rights are compatible and indeed that the right to maximum equal negative liberty requires a right to welfare. I argue that Sterba is correct that the two rights are conceptually compatible and that Narveson is right that right to negative liberty does not conceptually require a right to welfare.
9. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Laurence Thomas Liberty and a Spirit of Moral Decency
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10. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Allan Gibbard Narveson on Liberty and Equality
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At issue with Narveson is not the independence of persons, but an extreme form of ownership. Many people could be more independent with ownership of a moderate kind. All Narveson’s arguments depend on presupposing that extreme ownership has a special moral status.
11. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jan Narveson Response
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Gibbard accuses me of having an “extreme” view of property rights, even though he agrees that liberty is a good thing. But is it good enough to justify excluding handouts to the poor? He thinks not. I argue that the “social contract” idea of justice, which he in general shares, would underwrite the sort of strong property rights I plump for—noting that voluntary assistance to the poor (or anyone) is, after all, not only perfectly acceptable but much to be commended. I believe I agree entirely with Laurence Thomas, who argues that although decency calls for assisting the poor, we are not literally bound to do that. Contra Peter Vallentyne, I argue that liberty doesn’t permit the exceptions to the acquisition principle that he proposes: when we prevent someone from an acquiring that would harmno one, we do him a harm, which is forbidden by the liberty principle. The arguments, though, rather defy brief summary.
12. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
James P. Sterba Responses to Vallentyne, Thomas, and Gibbard
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13. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
About the Contributors
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articles
14. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Edward Song Giving Credit When Credit Is Due: The Ethics of Academic Authorship
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Issues of academic authorship pose few problems for philosophers or those in the humanities, yet raise a host of issues for medical researchers, engineers and scientists, where multiple authors is the norm and journal articles sometimes list hundreds of authors. At issue here are abstract questions about desert, as well as practical problems regarding the distribution of goods attached to authorship—tenure, prestige, research grants, etc. This paper defends a version of the author/contributor model, where the specific contributions of authors are described in a footnote, against other models of authorial attribution. Such a model offers the best guarantee that authors will get their due, as well as providing the most reliable protection against misconduct and fraud. The paper also arguesthat it is important for this model to be institutionalized across disciplinary boundaries as the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research will inevitably bring discipline-specific authorial norms into conflict.
15. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Susan Feldman Counterfact Conspiracy Theories
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16. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
J. K. Miles Hatred, Hostility, and Defamation: The United Nations’ Exceptions to Free Speech
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The current UN policy regarding free speech presents a philosophical dilemma between accepting the free speech provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and exceptions carved out for hatred, hostility, and religious defamation. The Declaration should be understood to imply viewpoint neutrality and the exceptions for defamation are not viewpoint neutral. If the UN were to adopt J. S. Mill’s crucial distinctions between expression and performative speech, content and context, and mental states and the acts motivated by them, it would be clear that hatred, hostility, and defamation cannot be exceptions to viewpoint neutral free speech. If the heart of free speech is freedom especially for the thought we hate, then the UN should abandon its exceptions or abandon appeals to free speech. However, I will offer a strong reason that it should not do the latter.
17. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey Moriarty Does Distributive Justice Pay? Sternberg’s Compensation Ethics
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Compensation has received a great deal of attention from social scientists. Characteristically, they have been concerned with the causes and effects of various compensation schemes. By contrast, few theorists have addressed the normative aspects of compensation. An exception is Elaine Sternberg, who offers in Just Business a comprehensive theory of compensation ethics. This paper critically examines her theory, and argues that the justification she gives for it fails. Its failure is instructive, however. The main argument Sternberg gives for her theory points in the direction of a different one. This, in turns, helps us to see what a justification of Sternberg’s theory must look like. While focused on Sternberg, this paper is of general interest. It identifies what are likely to be important positionsand arguments in debates about compensation ethics, and thus provides a jumping-off point for further research in this neglected area.
18. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Mike W. Martin Of Mottos and Morals
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At their best, mottos help us cope by crystallizing attitudes, eliciting resolve, and guiding conduct. Mottos have moral significance when they allude to the virtues and reflect the character of individuals and groups. As such, they function in the moral space between abstract ethical theory and contextual moral judgment. I discuss personal mottos such as those of Isak Dinesen (“I will answer”) and group mottos such as found in social movements (“Think globally, act locally”), professions (“Above all, do no harm”), philosophy (“The personal is political”), and therapeutic groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (“One day at a time”).
19. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
David Lorenzo Applied Ethics: Practices, Goods, and Rules
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This paper aims to demonstrate how philosophy and ethics shed light on professional ethics. One of the most important issues in professional ethics nowadays is to establish and justify rules to achieve and sustain good behavior in persons involved in specific activities. During the second half of the twentieth century, professional ethics became increasingly more important for philosophy, while the number of codes of ethics continues to grow. This exposition is based on some fundamental ethical concepts, like ‘end,’ ‘rule,’ ‘virtue,’ etc., some of which are taken from Alasdair MacIntyre’s thought.
20. International Journal of Applied Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Edmund Wall Privacy and the Moral Right to Personal Autonomy
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I argue that the moral right to privacy is the moral right to consent to access by others to one’s personal information. Although this thesis is relatively simple and already implicit in considerations about privacy, it has, nevertheless, been overlooked by philosophers. In the paper, I present and defend my account of the moral right to privacy, respond to possible objections to it, and attempt to show its advantages over two recent accounts: one by Steve Matthews and the other by Adam Moore. I also offer reasons to think that my account can be assimilated into a broad range of fundamental ethical approaches (i.e., a variety of consequentialist,deontological, and natural law approaches). Given the number and variety of such approaches, however, I can only attempt to make a prima facie case for the adaptability of the proposed account.