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Displaying: 1-13 of 13 documents

1. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Andrew Fiala Editor’s Introduction
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2. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Jeremiah Conway The Humor of Philosophy
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Philosophy has been the butt of jokes throughout history. This paper examines two comedians-Aristophanes and Woody Allen-for what they fmd funny about philosophy. Consideration of this humor is important because it insightfully captures the tensions between philosophy and everyday life. Risking the proverbial waming about ruining good jokes with analysis, the paper takes up the question why an activity that these comedians love to roast, philosophers take seriously.
3. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Edward J. Grippe Plato on Homeric Justice in Apology and Crito
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This essay relates Plato’s views on Homeric justice in the Apology and Crito to current domestic and foreign policy. Applying the insights of these dialogues to contemporary issues of war and civil liberties, the essay contends that the separation of time and the foreignness of culture may aid our decisionmaking if we take the time to consider the lessons offered to us across the centuries. Plato assists in this bridging process through the literary device of the dialogue. The dialogues provide the opportunity to involve the reader personally in the ongoing struggle to come to grips with what is central to human life. The last section of this essay will link the relevance of ancient thought to contemporary issues such as Abu Ghraib tortures and Guantanamo detentions in the light of the earlier sections’ consideration of the Apology and the Crito.
4. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Michael Krom The Relevance of Contemplation: Aristotle on the Philosopher and the Common Good
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In this essay I seek an ancient yet timeless answer to a perennial question: What is the role of the philosopher in society and in what way are those who commit themselves to philosophical endeavors relevant and perhaps even necessary for communities? What I offer for our consideration is an Aristotelian understanding of the nature of philosophy and its relevance to society. This conception hinges upon maintaining that philosophy is a contemplative activity pursued for its own sake: philosophy must be shown to be good for society, not by becoming a handmaiden to society, but on its own merit as a theoretical pursuit of wisdom. I conclude by briefly considering the extent to which Aristotle’s model can speak to our own pluralistic society and to a philosophical community that does not necessarily agree with him concerning the nature of philosophy. My hope is that by doing so I will have contributed to the ongoing dialogue concerning the role of the philosopher in the contemporary world.
5. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Matthew Stichter The Skill of Virtue
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Despite the prominence of the concept of virtue in contemporary ethical theory, accounts of virtue have often left readers with the impression that the virtuous person is an unattainable ideal or is just psychologically implausible. This article argues that reviving the ancient Greek idea that virtues are like practical skills can help provide a more plausible account of virtue and the virtuous person. The moral knowledge of the virtuous person is analogous to the practical knowledge of the expert in a skill. Instead of relying on a reconstruction of an ancient account of skills for the comparison to virtue, this paper adapts a modem account of skill acquisition developed by Hubert and Smart Dreyfus in their research on artificial intelligence and human expertise. The skill model of virtue offers a promising direction for virtue theory, by using the research on skills to illuminate the otherwise murky concept of virtue.
6. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Deborah C. Zeller Virtue, Virtue Skepticism, and the Milgram Studies
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Virtue, the centerpiece of ancient ethics, has come under attack by virtue skeptics impressed by results of psychology experiments including Milgram’s obedience studies. The virtue skeptic argues that experimental findings suggest that character structures are so fragile vis-à-vis situational factors as to be explanatorily superfluous: virtues and robust character traits are a myth, and should be replaced by situation-specific “narrow dispositions” (Gilbert Harman) or “local traits” (John Doris). This paper argues that the virtue skeptics’ sweeping claims are ill-founded. First, blending Aristotelian and contemporary insights about virtue, I reach adecision about a reasonable, nonstraw defmition of “virtue” and of “character trait.” Next, I argue that explanations give by Lee Ross and Richard Nisbett for the Milgram findings covertly invoke character traits. Reflection reveals that more robust, crosssituationally consistent traits are needed for explanation of subject behavior, and that it is reasonable to suppose that such traits were in place.
7. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Scott Stewart Breaking Up is Hard to Do: A Philosophical Discussion of the End of Love
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This paper begins by distinguishing between two levels at which ethics has been applied in the past half century. Typically, ethics gets applied at the level of public debate and policy. Much less often, applied ethics centers on the personal level. As a literature search reveals, this is true of recent philosophic discussions of divorce. This paper seeks to begin an alternative philosophic discussion of divorce and separation by considering it at a personal level. I begin this discussion by analyzing two different conceptions of love-eros and agape-and suggest a synthesis of the two. The conception of love that I endorse suggests that the value of the parties in a loving relationship is constructed within the relationship itself. It is this feature of love that helps to explain why so many feel sueh a sense of worthlessness when experiencing a divorce or separation. Namely, that much of the positive value they had within their relationship has little or no value outside the context of that relationship.
8. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Christopher Goodmacher Partiality and World Poverty
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This paper begins with Peter Singer’s argument from utilitarianism that we should sacrifice anything we don’t need to relatively cheaply save lives in the Third World. It responds by arguing that utilitarianism is an incomplete moral system, for it requires us to view the world impartially and see each being as equally important, when we are necessarily partial to certain others (family, for example) because, among other things, we learn how to care for a starving boy thousands of miles away by first learning what caring means from those closer to us. It then concludes that a more complete way to describe our morality is to see it as a balance between our separate senses of partiality and impartiality, with Aristotle’s concept of moral judgment governing between the two.
9. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Donald Wilson Abortion, Persons, and Futures of Value
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Don Marquis argues that his “future of value” account of the ethics of killing affords us a persuasive argument against abortion that avoids difficult questions about the moral status of the fetus. I argue that Marquis’ account is missing essential detail required for the claimed plausibility of the argument and that any attempt to provide this needed detail can be expected to undercut the claim of plausibility. I argue that this is the case because attempts to provide the missing detail are tantamount to accounts of moral status of the sort Marquis claims to avoid and can therefore be expected to have all the familiar problems of such accounts. Finally, I consider the standard problem infanticide poses for a familiar model of personhood and argue that Marquis’ use of this objection as ablanket criticism of personhood accounts is superficial.
10. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Larry A. Herzberg Genetic Enhancement and Parental Obligation
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Among moral philosophers, general disapproval of genetic enhancement has in recent years given way to the view that the permissibility of a eugenic policy depends only on its particular features. Buchanan, Brock, Daniels, and Wikler have extensively defended such a view. However, while these authors go so far as to argue that there are conditions under which parents are not only permitted but also obligated to proeure genetic treatments for their intended child, they stop short of arguing that there are conditions under which parents are required to procure enhancements. By contrast, David Heyd argues that parents are required to proeure treatments or enhancements for their future child, but only. if the intervention would not alter the future child’s personal identity. In this paper I take the case for genetic enhancement a step further by arguing that there are conditions under which parents are morally required to procure genetic interventions for their intended child, regardless of whether the intervention is a treatment or an enhancement, and regardless of whether it would alter the child’s personal identity.
11. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Matthew Tedesco Thomson’s Samaritanism Constraint
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Judith Jarvis Thomson concludes “A Defense of Abortion” with a discussion of samaritanism. Whereas her rights-based arguments demonstrate the moral permissibility of virtually all abortions, this new consideration of samaritanism provides grounds for morally objecting to certain abortions that are otherwise morally pemissible given strictly rights-based considerations. I argue, first, that this samaritanism constraint on the moral permissibility of abortion involves an appeal to virtue-theoretical considerations. I then show why this hybridization of rights-based considerations and virtue-theoretical considerations has advantages over responses to the moral status of abortion that are either exclusively rights-based, or else exclusively virtue-theoretical. I conclude by offering some thoughts on how to utilize this hybrid strategy outside of Thomson’s particular context, as well as why we might generally favor such a strategy in our moral reasoning.
12. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Fabrizio Trifiro A Neo-Pragmatist Approach to Intercultural Dialogue and Cosmopolitan Democracy
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Drawing on the work of Rorty and Putnam, I will present an argument for the desirability of an anti-foundationalist approach to cultural difference and intercultural dialogue that gives priority to the ethical and the political over the ontological and the epistemological. It will be formulated in terms of the normative requirements for the fullest realization of the liberal democratic project at all levels of social organisation, from the local to the global. Drawing from both the deliberative turn in democratic theory and the capability approach to human development, I will argue that the normative core of liberal democracy should be identified in the commitment to self-reflexive, open-ended, un-distorted and all-inclusive practice of collective deliberation and decision-making.
13. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Stephen Minister The Obligated Subject: A Comparative Study of the Ethical Theories of Kant and Levinas
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In recent years, a growing number of thinkers have criticized the use of human rights as an international standard. It is the thesis of this essay that by addressing these critics from a Levinasian ethical framework, rather than a Kantian one, we can formulate a conception of human rights that is viable for a pluralistic, international community. Though Levinas’s ethics retains an affinity to Kant’s, the divergence of Levinas’s theory from Kant’s on the issues of autonomy/heteronomy and the role of reason in ethics opens up new possibilities for conceptualizing human rights. By exploring these two divergences, I willshow that a Levinasian framework prioritizes the ethical demands of others in a way that invites both a fallibilistic commitment to and an ongoing critique ofhuman rights.