Department of History and Philosophy
2010 Conference Papers and Abstracts

CONVERSATIONS VI: Ethics and Applied Ethics

The broad theme for the sixth Cave Hill Philosophy Symposium (CHiPS) will be ethics and applied ethics. While these are flourishing areas in recent philosophy, we hope that, in keeping with the conception inspiring these conversations from the beginning, we will be able to bring together thinkers operating in and across different cultural and philosophical traditions. We would also hope to see papers discussing the impact of scientific enquiry on our conceptions of morality or revealing the mutual illumination that moral philosophy and other disciplines can provide when brought together. Proposals for thematic workshops addressing live issues would also be particularly welcome.

CHiPS VI will be held in the third week of November to coincide with UNESCO World Philosophy Day (this year November 18th). The Symposium will begin on Wednesday 17th and end on Friday 19th. While the Symposium itself will mainly address the profession, we hope to include activities that will carry philosophy to a wider audience.

picture of van den AnkerOur keynote speaker will be Dr Christien van den Anker, now Reader in the Department of History, Philosophy and Politics, Faculty of Creative Arts Humanities and Education at the University of the West of England. Dr van den Anker is lead editor of the Journal of Global Ethics and is working on problems of human trafficking and forced migration. Recent books include The Political Economy of New Slavery, Palgrave, 2004, and a series of four edited volumes on women's rights in Europe.

This page contains links to all the papers submitted before the Symposium. The e-mail addresses are given with "nospam" inserted after the "@" so they won't work as shown. Please note that the texts are all in pdf format, for which you may need the Acrobat Reader, which can be acquired at Adobe.

Authors on page:
Christopher Arroyo James Duerlinger Kahiudi C. Mabana Orsolya Reich
Alison Assiter Zak Fisher Roger Marples Rosa Slegers
Lawrence Bamikole Curtis Forbes Sandra McCalla Bianca Torchia
Ayotunde Bewaji Peter Gildenhuys Claudia Milani Christien van den Anker
Ed Brandon Clevis Headley Simeon Mohansingh  
Nathaniel A. T. Coleman Peta-Ann Long Michael Monahan  

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Same-Sex Marriage, 'Homosexual Desire,' and the Capacity to Love
Christopher Arroyo
carroyo@nospamprovidence.edu

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Abstract:
The issue of same-sex marriage continues to be a hot-button issue in the United States. Opponents of same-sex marriage offer a variety of reasons in defense of their position. To my mind, many of these arguments are motivated by one persistent belief: that homosexuals are incapable of loving properly, especially (though not exclusively) with regard to erotic/romantic relationships. Unfortunately, in the public discourse of the United States, arguments are seldom given in support of the truth of this belief. That said, there are those who formulate arguments designed to show that homosexuals are incapable of loving properly. One notable example is the Catholic Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, Fabian Bruskowitz. In “Homosexuality and Catholic Doctrine,” Bishop Bruskowitz argues that homosexuals are incapable of genuine sexual and affective complementarity. It is the inability of homosexuals to have genuine affective complementarity, according to Bruskowitz, that makes it impossible for homosexuals to love. Homosexuals lack this type of complementarity, he claims, because homosexual sex acts are of necessity hedonistic, and so-called homosexual desire, which is the kind of sexual desire characteristic of those who are homosexual, is by definition narcissistic.

In this paper I shall argue against Bruskowitz, claiming that his position rests on an erroneous conception of desire. Once this conception of desire is corrected, I shall argue, the myth of “homosexual desire” is debunked and along with it the main argument in support of the claim that homosexuals are incapable of love. I proceed as follows. First, I explain the ways in which I use the term “homosexual” and its cognates in the paper, drawing on recent sociological and anthropological literature. Second, I lay out Bruskowitz's position, drawing particular attention to (1) its independence from any teachings regarding Catholic revelation and (2) the picture of homosexual desire contained in his view. Third (relying on Gareth Moore's, A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality ) I sketch an alternative, more philosophically cogent account of desire, one that recognizes what Moore calls the intensionality of desire. Finally, I briefly indicate the implications of my argument for the debate about same-sex marriage taking place in the United States.
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The Upbuilding Discourses and the Ground of Morality
Alison Assiter
bassiter@nospamdircon.co.uk

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
Heidegger wrote that there is ‘more to be learned philosophically ' from Kierkegaard's ‘Upbuilding Discourses' than there is anywhere else in his corpus, apart from The Concept of Anxiety (Heidegger, 1962, p.494). Whether or not Heidegger is right about this specific claim, I will argue, in this paper, that there are deep philosophical claims about the ground of ethics to be found in these Discourses. I will argue that Kierkegaard offers a critique both of the ‘voluntarist' position, that morality derives from God and also of the Kantian position, that it comes from the autonomous will of a rational being.

I will be concerned, primarily, in the paper, with the question: what is the ground of ethics? This is the question formulated by G.E.Moore, when he asked the question; how do we define the good? But it has also been posed recently by Christine Korsgaard, in her book The Sources of Normativity. (Korsgaard, 1996).

The question is concerned with the foundations of ethical inquiry. If one asks, of some particular moral act, why should I do it, one might answer that one does it for the good of the person concerned. If one continues asking the question why, perhaps relating it to the issue of how much suffering one should face oneself in the pursuit of morality, then the ground is the final answer in the series of questions. As Korsgaard puts it: 'what justifies the claims that ethics makes upon us?' (Korsgaard, 1996. pp.9-10) Where do moral concepts come from? The moral sceptic denies that there is a final answer to this question. As Mackie puts it in the opening sentence of his book, ‘There are no objective values'. (Mackie, 1977)

One of the ways of going about attempting to answer this question, if one is not a moral sceptic, is to claim that the ultimate answer to this series of questions is God. For Hobbes, for example, the source of moral value in the world is God. Without God, the world would be empty of moral value. Hobbes derives God's will from the Bible. We are obliged to follow moral commands because so doing is God's will and it is our duty to do what God commands us to do.

This offers a ‘final' answer to the question: what is the ground of morality? The ground is God: for example, when Jesus calls sinners to repent and be baptized, it is because this is God's Will. (Hobbes, Leviathan…)

In the very first Upbuilding Discourse, Kierkegaard offers some responses to this view. I will outline what I believe his response to be to this and to the Kantian view, and conclude by outlining his positive view on the question.

Section One:

The first section will suggest that Kant is, perhaps despite himself, a theological voluntarist.

Section Two:

Here I will argue, referring mainly to the Upbuilding Discourses , that Kierkegaard is not a theological voluntarist.

Sections Three and Four:

Here I will outline two further components of Kierkegaard's ‘critique' of Kant.

Final Section:

In the final section I will present Kierkegaard's view on the question of the ground of morality and on the relation between the self and morality.
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African Morality and Consequentialist Ethics: A Critique of J.S. Mbiti
Lawrence Bamikole
bamikolelawrence@nospamyahoo.com

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
Most African scholars writing in the area of contemporary African philosophy have had one thing or the other to say about specific themes in Mbiti's seminal text, African Religions and Philosophy .

In line with the “Four Trends” in African philosophy, Mbiti has been labeled as ethno-philosopher. Without prejudice to the credibility or otherwise of this label, what we want to do in this paper is to undertake a reconstruction of Mbiti's views in relation to the concept of African morality.

One of the reconstructive assignments is to classify Mbiti as an ethical consequentialist, an ethical theory which evaluates human actions and institutions in terms of their outcomes. However, in the literature, consequentialism has been subjected to different criticisms, chief among them is the fact that in its bid to explain and justify human and institutional actions, it does not take into consideration the motives and intentions of human agents.

In the same vein, by claiming that within the African moral space, there are no secret sins and that actions are wrong only when they are punished, Mbiti has subscribed to a consequentialist ethics and as such, his conception of African morality suffers from the same inadequacy which bedevils ethical consequentialism.

The paper suggests that for consequentialism in general and Mbiti's consequentilaism in particular to adequately evaluate human and institutional actions (and inactions), they have to be complimented by other ethical theories.
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The Rule of Law, Leadership and Development
Ayotunde Bewaji
tundebewaji@nospamyahoo.com

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Abstract:
In this paper I examine the interface area between leadership, law and morality. The Thesis I defend is that the cultures of impunity, non-accountability and non-observance of the rule of law, which pervades Africana leadership systems and practice, inherited from colonialism’s intrinsic nature, and cemented by visionless and amoral post-colonial governance systems and military dictatorships, are responsible for the underdevelopment of Africana societies. To underwrite my argument, I trace the historical and cultural indigenous political systems in pre-colonial Africa, indicating the strength and weaknesses of these systems, the checks and balances that reinforce moral leadership, and the combined effects of colonialism, modernity and post-modernity to undermine the developmental trajectories of Africana societies, culminating in the debilitating governance structures and morally bankrupt socio-economic, educational and aesthetic systems found in most Africana societies today.
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Does Objectivity Matter for the Meaningfulness of Life?
E.P. Brandon
edbrandon@nospamgmail.com

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Excerpt:
Some of you will know of the late Professor Richard Hare. When I spent some time in Oxford I had quickly found a wonderful delicatessen in Oxford Market, so wasn't much worried about how to find the largest grocer, or indeed about much else that might have had a bearing on the language of morals, so I never heard him lecture. But a few years later I did meet him, at an interview for a job, where he asked me why anyone cared about the objectivity of morality. I hunted around for an answer, not persuasive enough to get me the job. I'm not sure I can do any better today, but I am stimulated to try by the position taken up by Susan Wolf in a recent book, Meaning in Life and Why it Matters.1

The book is one of those very useful volumes from the Princeton University Center for Human Values in which lectures are delivered and then commented on by a few others (in this case, John Koethe, Robert M. Adams, Nomy Arpaly, and Jonathan Haidt), the volume concluding with Wolf's responses to these comments. The key claim I want to focus on is the idea that to make sense of our thoughts about what makes for meaning or meaningfulness in a human life, we need a strong notion of the objectivity of that issue, strong enough to ground the idea that a person can make a mistake about what gives value to their life. (It is the sort of thought that inspires the position Roger Marples reminded us of in a talk he gave on Monday: someone who decides to devote his life to counting the blades of grass on a cricket pitch would be making a serious mistake.) There is much else in Wolf's lectures and I can't now try to cover everything she discusses, but I will need to summarise some of her position to get us to the version of Hare's question that I do want to address.

1 Princeton University Press, 2010. All quotations from this book, unless otherwise acknowledged.
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The Political Power of Sexual Preference: The John Mayer Interview
Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman
natcole@nospamumich.edu

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
When asked, in March 2010, by Playboy magazine, "Do black women throw themselves at you?", the Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter John Mayer replied: “I don't think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I've got a Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock”. Mayer's comments excited moral outrage. However, I argue that, for his interview, John Mayer, in fact, deserves moral congratulation, since his statements show that he fulfilled what I call our duty to introspect and our duty to self-reflect. I fault John Mayer only for failing to fulfill a third duty I argue that we each have: the duty to divest oneself of a socially-harmful sexual aversion.
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Buddhism, Self-Interest and Morality
James Duerlinger
duerlinger@nospamuiowa.edu

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
In the 1980s, a number of scholars began discussing Buddhist ethics from the perspective of the Western tradition of ethical inquiry. Among the topics introduced is how, in Buddhism, the conflict is to be resolved between self-interest and the demand of morality, that other-regarding action ought to be performed. One of these scholars, Steven Collins, claimed that Buddhists can believe, as the Oxford philosopher, Derek Parfit does, that there can be no conflict between self-interest and morality. There can be no conflict, Collins claims, since Buddhists hold, as Parfit does, a reductionist theory of persons, and a theory of this sort undermines the distinction between self and others. It also follows, Collins believes, that the dispute between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, concerning whether self-interest or the interest of others is the goal of practice, is at best a matter of emphasis rather than a dispute of substance, since in both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism the distinction between self and others is undermined. Since Collins' claim is still accepted by many Western scholars today, in this essay I will set the record straight by explaining why no Buddhist would or should agree with Collins' claims or with the main argument he uses to support his claims.
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The Humanism of Particularism: Reconciling Dancy and Sartre in a Rational-Existential Ethics
Zak Fisher
zakmarchant@nospamgmail.com

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Abstract:
Many universities today include an ethics course as a degree requirement. However, the standard course usually contains predictable and endless debates between utilitarian and deontological theories. Aside from the obvious fact that these different theories often conflict, such unresolved disputes may actually be quite harmful to students' moral decision-making. If this situation is to be improved, perhaps a deviation from the current focus of moral principles is in order. Or so says one contemporary moral philosopher, Jonathan Dancy, who argues that, when talking about ethics, we should focus on the subtleties of a particular situation and avoid worrying about legitimizing our actions with overarching principles.

In my own analysis, I speculate that theorists who argue for such a strongly principled framework have been inspired by the language of mechanical strategies and physical laws found in the natural sciences. In this way I characterize principled ethics as analogous to methodical science. Further, I make sense of Dancy's position, and the debate as a whole, as moving away from treating moral decision-making as a science of action and toward developing it as a practical art of judging.

In doing so, I draw from my own experience with moral decision-making to support Dancy's supposed “anti-theory” of Moral Particularism (MP). MP claims that proper moral conduct does not require strict allegiance to any moral principles. Rather, moral norms – such as generally being kind and promise-keeping – ordinarily serve as practical guides for moral behavior but will not suffice for certain exceptional situations. Thus, MP argues against any universal theory of morality in favor of deciding ethical actions in particular cases.

Yet, though I largely support Dancy's version of MP, I also cite Sartre's The Humanism of Existentialism in order to introduce the idea of value pluralism. While Dancy claims that, by dissecting the reasons for action, we can better apprehend the correct choice in a moral dilemma, Sartre claims that it is inappropriate to speak in such a way; several available and legitimate options exist. On this issue I side with Sartre and argue that it is necessary to acknowledge value pluralism to give a full account of the moral decision-making process. In other words, after having adopted the initial “scientific” approach and pursued the question What is the right thing to do?, I contend that the question dissolves after we discover that several justifiable options exist. In its place, I supplement the inquiry with a virtue ethics response that shifts the debate from attending to ethical actions to emphasizing the actor's roles of care and commitment.

In conclusion, I argue that ethical understanding is constituted by self-attentive acts of caring. Thus, rather than attempting to make current rule-based theories fit into practical fields and their specialized scenarios, I argue that it is more proper and advantageous for a moral agent to reflect on how she is caring about her situation and the entire context (history, persons involved, responsibilities, intentions, consequences, etc.) of a situation before prescribing action.
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Lessons on the Social Epistemological Effects of Walls and Barriers: What Applied Ethics Can Learn From Science
Curtis Forbes
curtis.forbes@nospamutoronto.ca

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Abstract:
The scientific research laboratory has recently become an area of focus for researchers in the humanities, where the young but lively field of “science studies” is dominated by an interest in the relationship between the material and social reality of the laboratory and the material and social reality of everyday life. Several of these researchers (e.g. Rutherford 2009, Cartwright 1999, Latour 1983, Knorr-Cetina 1983) have drawn attention to the ways in which material and social arrangements found effective and manageable in the laboratory have been replicated outside the laboratory; having found new applications in constructed social environments, the isolated conditions of scientific research laboratories have diffused into the broader social environment. As a result, social and material arrangements inspired by laboratory conditions are now commonplace in shopping malls, cityspaces, schools, hospitals, prisons, and even our homes, workplaces, and agricultural settings. Given this growing convergence of the material and social conditions of the laboratory with everyday living conditions, I argue that applied ethicists can fruitfully engage with science studies for lessons about ethical decision-making in other, prima facie quite disparate social circumstances that are not directly accessible to empirical researchers.

For example, today's most important and impactful global economic policy decisions are often made in material and social conditions that strongly resemble the scientific research laboratory; meetings of the IMF, the G-8, and the G-20 occur under such secure “summit” conditions that sociological, historical, and philosophical researchers (among all others who lack “insider” status) have little hope of gaining access to directly study the local mechanics of social interaction and ethical application at these summits. But, what we know as outsiders about the social and material conditions of these summits supports a strong analogy to the social and material conditions of the laboratory. By keeping labour and trade unions, the global poor, and racially marginalized peoples away from the policy-making process, outside a secure perimeter of walls, barricades, police lines, and (ultimately) national and economic borders, modern economic policy-making is highly analogous to laboratory decision-making, as both are elitist processes, forcibly stripped of much of their social context through the judicious use of walls and barriers.

As a result, applied ethicists and political scientists can, I argue, exploit this analogy between the laboratory and global economic summits to help devise strategies for making the global economic policy-making process more just. This can be done, for example, by extending the significantly normative science studies literature (e.g. Harding 1991, Shrader-Frechette 1994, Longino 2002, Butterfield 2006, Fricker 2007) that overwhelming prescribes, in the interest of social and epistemic justice, the prioritization of inclusiveness in the various social processes of science, even in the necessarily secure laboratory setting. The wide-ranging “democratization” of science prescribed in these accounts would, if implemented, greatly bolster the epistemic authority of the science, rather than detract from it as some argue. An analogous “democratization” of economic policy-making that prioritized inclusiveness of outsider criticism would, I argue, likewise be made both more just and more scientific.
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A Superpaternalist Constraint: John Arras' Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
Peter Gildenhuys
gildenhp@nospamlafayette.edu

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Abstract:
I address John Arras' (1997) opposition to physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and active euthanasia (AE). Arras' arguments against PAS/AE are based on the expectation that these practices will be abused: shortly after the legalization of PAS, “patients who fall outside the ambit of our justifiable criteria will soon be candidates for death” (Arras 1997, 370) . Even if one grants Arras his suppositions about the course of social life upon legalization of physician-assisted suicide, his arguments fail to justify a ban of either physician-assisted suicide or active euthanasia. Arras rejects the “religious view” that killing is intrinsically different from allowing to die. This means Arras' arguments must militate against PAS/AE while failing to undermine the morally respectable practice of withholding life-sustaining treatment at the patient's behest (WLST). Arras recognizes that WLST may be abused, too, so he must carefully craft an argument against PAS and AE that does not undermine WLST as well. I argue that he fails to do just this.

The debate over euthanasia can seem like a classic conflict of individual vs. society, and Arras argues that the “social cost” of legalization of PAS/AE is too great to lift the ban on these practices. But there are no “social costs” to euthanasia in the way that “social” costs and benefits are contrasted with “individual” ones in typical public policy debates. PAS/AE pose no harm or threat to the public. At very least, PAS/AE pose no more threat of harm to others, such as family members or friends of the patient than does WLST, and the possibility of such harm is not enough to make any of those practices matters of public policy rather than personal choice (Mill 1978[1859]) .

Arras explicitly recognizes that a ban on PAS and AE is positively harmful to individuals who would not hurt anyone, even themselves, by engaging in PAS or VAE. Coupled with the personal character of medical decisions, this means that Arras' is advocating a ban of an unusual type, one I call superpaternalist. Superpaternalist constraints prohibit many people from engaging in an activity on the grounds that some but not all will do so to their personal detriment. Such impositions on personal autonomy are especially difficult to justify, even if we allow consequentialist considerations to play a part in our moral reasoning, as Arras does.

Arras cannot be a pure consequentialist: Arras' abuse-based arguments against PAS/AE, together with both the pure consequentialist's distain for rights and the stance that these acts are not inherently different from instances of WLST, would lead straightforwardly to a ban on WLST, were the arguments successful against PAS/AE. Arras must accord personal autonomy some moral weight to legitimate WLST. Indeed, the moral weight of personal autonomy must for Arras be a middling quantity, big enough to legitimate WLST, but not so big as to legitimate PAS/AE. Instead, however, we should accord personal autonomy an enormous value in the debate over PAS/AE, even if we take consequences into account, too, because superpaternalist constraints are doubly unfair: they detrimentally constrain people who would harm no one, not even themselves, and they do so for the essentially personal gain of others. A society that accepts WLST must accept PAS/AE too, even if we can expect that all these practices will be abused.

Works Cited

Arras, John. 1997. "Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Tragic View " Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy 13:361-79.

Mill, John Stuart 1978[1859]. On Liberty . Edited by Elizabeth Rapaport. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
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On the (Im)possibility of Ethics: Logical Positivism and Deconstruction
Clevis Headley
headley@nospamfau.edu

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Abstract:
This polemical essay will focus on the question of ethics through a critical philosophical study of emotivism and deconstruction. Many thinkers have charged that deconstruction courts moral relativism, skepticism and nihilism. Consequently, deconstruction, as described by these critics, is ethically impaired. Against this ill-conceived view, I will argue the case for deconstruction as being ethically engaged. This uncompromising engagement in ethics is representative of the thinking of Levinas and Derrida. Indeed, this turn to ethics emerges from directing philosophical reflection on the importance of responsibility for the other. On the other hand, I will demonstrate the accuracy of leveling charges of ethical relativism and nihilism against the emotivism of Ayer, for it is Ayer's enthusiastic defense of logical positivism that rendered ethics cognitively defunct.
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Ethical Controversies Surrounding a Free Press

Peta-Ann Long
narielp@nospamgmail.com

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Abstract:
Some media houses who participate in press and journalistic activities, have made it a continual practice to revise their ethical codes of conduct annually. Just as with the press, many professions, and disciplines have also adopted an “ethical code of conduct” to the field. However, this means that these disciplines and professions should be evaluated meta-ethically.

There are many factors that have influenced these evaluations on an “ethical” basis. These include the convergence of cultures and societies, which are some of the effects of Globalization. In what has now become the global village, the ‘free press’ has not to deal more with international affairs, primarily because the arena of the individual in any community of the world that actively participates in global activities, are affected by global issues. This would suggest that if an industry that seeks to utilize the advancements that their demographics
take part-take in, they would need to be as competitive as their international counterparts.

However, let us consider diversity and relativity throughout this global village, and James Rachels’ (1999) claim that there can be no objective truth in morality. What are the possibilities of developing an ethic standard for an industry such as the free press? Additionally, are ethics derived from truth, and what type of truth?

Ethics, a constant developing field has been unable to bridge the gap between normative and descriptive codes to the actual moral or ethical conduct of people. If one makes moral decisions on a daily basis, one finds oneself battling between what one feels is best for the situation and what one ought to do. Is the ‘ought’ more important and the intuitive notion of the individual?

Journalists, Broadcasters and by extension Publishers are constantly pressured to act ‘well’ with the power that they have to protect the basic rights of the public and represent the public, despite the popularity of the content. Elaine Englehardt (2006) noted in her examination of the press and ethics that the journalist’s actions to pursue and publish information, are by default victimizing someone, unlike in the other professions, thereby compounding the moral and ethical pressure the individual journalist has, as compared to any other profession. This illustrates the constant dilemma of the journalist to act in accordance with the public or with her intuition, in achieving the best goal. The press is constantly in a battle of keeping advertisers and keeping readers, keeping investors as against seeking and publishing for the public.

This paper will seek to examine the application of normative ethics to the actual conduct of issues in journalism. It will open the discussion for the application of ethics on issues such as women in media, new media, and media coverage among others. Additionally, it will aid in examining the freedom, ‘limits’ of the press, and to what end does it serve that of public or of self?
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The Question of Women in Francophone African Tales

Kahiudi C. Mabana
kahiudi.mabana@nospamcavehill.uwi.edu

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Abstract:
The purpose of this reflection is not to provide a feminist perspective or an interpretation oriented towards that approach. It is about the Tales of Amadou Koumba by Birago Diop. The approach is strictly literary and mythopoetical, i.e., a reading of the tales in the sense of myths and poetics. Therefore it is first of all about discovering the profound structures of the tales before starting any thematic or critical investigation.

The idea to address the question of women by Diop came as a result some years ago of the reaction of my students after reading “Fari the donkey” and the “Mamelles” in Birago Diop's collection of tales. They said: “Why have you chosen for your teaching only texts against women?”. At that time, I thought that my explanations were the nearest to the texts or maybe it was a female reaction to a male writer speaking of women. Can a man depict women or speak of them without male-dominant passion or stereotypes?

The Senegalese writer Birago Diop (1906-1989) is the classical type of a storyteller converted into a writer of the francophone African literature. His Tales of Amadou Koumba ‘1947) and New Tales of Amadou Koumba (1958) are among seminal models of oral tradition. Some tales show a bad image of women in terms of ethics and behaviors. Is Birago Diop a anti-feminist writer ? Is the Amadou Koumba is an anti-feminist storyteller? I still think that tales and other literary texts have to be read, as they are, regardless if one is for or against women. There are theoretical issues related to oral tradition that have to be addressed.

Concretly I would focus on some specific topics. The first one is about relationship between the writer Birago Diop and the text translated into French. So to say, what happens in terms of authorship when a writer translates and publishes a text stemming from the oral tradition? The second topic is on “the imprudent woman” as shown in the tales. The third topic is on “the wise woman”. To finish I will draw theoretical and ethical considerations from those tales.
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Parents' Rights and Educational Provision
Roger Marples
R.Marples@nospamroehampton.ac.uk

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Abstract:
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that parents qua parents have no rights over their children. While it is undeniable that they have legitimate interests, it would be mistaken to inflate the moral claims that attach to such a role into those associated with rights. The custodial role of parents is invariably accompanied by a whole range of legitimate interests and desires, such as the desire for intimacy and the personal fulfilment that comes from sharing one's life and enthusiasms with one's children, but none of this is sufficient to warrant a liberty right to privacy as William Galston, for example, would maintain; it certainly provides no justification for a right to determine one's children's values, religious affiliations and life-plans as Charles Fried, amongst others, would have us believe, neither does the value we accord to intimate relationships render references to rights and duties within such relationships entirely otiose. A satisfactory theory of parental paternalism must be governed by reference to a child's needs and interests, together with an account of a level of well-being below which a child should not be allowed to fall. It is by reference to primary goods, to which children have a right, that the nature and extent of parental duties may be specified. The primary good of personal autonomy will merit particular attention, where it is argued that the state has a right (and a duty, in its role as parens patriae ) to ensure an autonomy facilitating education. Parents are not obliged always to act in accordance with their children's best interests, but they are required to provide a secure and basic threshold of acceptable care. Not only is the best interest requirement excessive, the claim to privacy from state intervention as long as the child is in no imminent danger, requires too little. The paper explores the needs and interests of children, their parents and those in which the wider society to which they belong has in child-rearing, with the aim of further delineating the legitimate claims and duties of parents.

Following this analysis, a number of implications for public policy (particularly in the realm of educational provision) may be derived. The paper focuses on four in particular: the so-called parental right to faith-schools, home-schooling, and to withdraw their children from certain aspects of sex-education (particularly that concerned with issues relating to homosexuality), and private education (that to which the English misleadingly refer, as ‘public schooling'). Not only do the first three pose grave and unacceptable threats to what Joel Feinberg calls a child's ‘anticipatory autonomy rights', parental fears associated with the undermining of ‘cultural coherence' are exaggerated. There is reason to be highly sceptical about so-called group rights, especially those claimed by cultural and religious minorities to restrict children's access to competing forms of life radically at odds with those of their parents. Discussions of personal autonomy in these contexts are all too often confined to a child's future (intellectual) autonomy. This paper attempts to redress the balance by not only questioning a parent's right to initiate her child into a particular way of life without her consent, whether or not it is likely to frustrate her (the child's) future autonomy, but also to demonstrate how a child's emotional autonomy may be all too frequently curtailed, leaving her with irrational feelings of guilt, were she to attempt to pursue a conception of the good very different from that of her parents, having been subjected to an upbringing (including a system of schooling) designed to restrict access to such conceptions. The so-called parental right to private schooling, even where the existing state schools are sub-standard, is shown to be incompatible with the demands of social justice if the purchase of such an education demonstrably worsens the position of other people's children.
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The Universality of Morality - A Myth
Sandra McCalla
oneras1973@nospamyahoo.com

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Abstract:
There has always been a great deal of speculation regarding where moral values come from and what these values are consisted in. In this individualistic world has the nature of morality changed to the specificity of this group or that society? In contemporary society there seems to be some pessimism as it relates to the possibility of a universal morality. If it is true that this pessimism does exist and individuals now feel the need to go beyond once acceptable morality to create new moralities for themselves it begs the question as to what transpired to bring about this change? Do cultures act based on some set of universal rules or do they always do things differently based on traditions, beliefs and attitudes?

It will be argued that universal morality cannot exist in a world that constantly changes at all levels and in all areas. Human beings are different in the way they see, interact with and comprehend the world. These differences may be the proof that universal morality does not exist or may be just a myth. If universal morality exists how can cultural diversity and integrity be respected? When it comes to matters of moral conduct there may be no fixed truths but rather, all may be relative.

The above questions will be answered by exploring philosophical theories such as cultural relativism and universalism. In order to highlight possible tenets of these theories discussions will be focused around the ideologies of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche rejected the idea of universal morality and maintains that moral codes arise from peoples social origins. He explored the issue of morality further by discussing the tenets of ‘slave’ and ‘master’ morality. If Nietzsche’s views hold true that “the point of morality is to enable each individual to sublimate and control their passions in order to emphasize the creativity inherent in their beings”, it may rightfully lead one to question the universality of morality.

In order to offer a cohesive and comprehensive review of the main issue of the myth of universal morality it is the intention to contrast Nietzsche’s views with those held by Immanuel Kant. To meet this objective, aspects of his ‘Categorical Imperative” will be explored. The main question that I hope to explore from Kant’s views is, Can there be ‘Categorical Imperative’ in a changing world?
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Franz Rosenzweig's Concept of Human Being

Claudia Milani (author was unable to attend)
claudia_milani@nospamhotmail.com

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
This paper examines the position of the human being in Franz Rosenzweig's thought and in particular in his masterpiece, The star of redemption (1921). The idea that ethic is the philosophia prima is typical of the whole Jewish thought of the XXth century, as Emmanuel Levinas stated: it is possible to recognise this idea also in Rosenzweig's thought and in the rule of humanity in his philosophical system.

In the first part of his writing, the Human is described as completely free from relations with the others, a meta-ethical Self without bounds with the external world. However, in the second part, the perspective is completely reversed and the relation becomes the main category.

We can define Rosenzweig's thought as a “New Thinking” just because it is about thinking and operating with new categories. The Essence is no more questionable, the answer doesn't concern what a thing is , anymore, but it is about the relationships between the Elements of the World. This is the foundation of a philosophy of experience, a philosophy of relationship, based on the need of the other, on the importance of tim e and on the use of language, particularly of the use of dialogue.

In this new philosophical horizon, the human being is not a monad; he is constitutively included in a relation. He is not defined by the self , but by the other . That means that what really is important to men as a mortal being depends on the others: on other man, on God, on the world. In this context there is also space for freedom, not defined as lack of ties (as in ‘I can do what I want with myself'), but as an answer to a call that derives from the outside world. The others ask men and men answer: the first word of the Human is always an answer (e.g.: a child answers to his/her mother, the loved one to his/her lover, the creature answers to the Creator). Freedom in relationships leads to responsibility, towards the necessity to take care of the world and of men, keeping on with the creation started by God and committed to humans.
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Is Palliative Sedation Euthanasia in Disguise?
Simeon Mohansingh
m.simeonannan@nospamgmail.com

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Abstract:
The concept of CARE is extremely essential for both caregivers and patients, but becomes even more critical when CURE no longer seems possible. Care that encompasses ALL different possible aspects, and is the primary objective of hospices, is considered Palliative Care. However, Palliative Care is not a panacea for the multiple and intense symptoms of the terminally ill.

Consequently, care givers have had to seek other methods of assisting the terminally ill. Two such methods are Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS), for which the Dutch should be credited for being the leading practitioners. Although Dutch society can be considered very liberal, concerns have been raised even within their borders, about the use of these methods and processes in “assisting” the terminally ill. Consequently, they (and others) have implemented the “new” practice of Palliative Sedation, which is becoming increasingly popular, and is being accepted as a viable option to Euthanasia and PAS.

Euthanasia and PAS are deliberate and intentional acts to cause death to the patient. Palliative Sedation on the other hand, is not rendered with the intention of causing death to the patient. However, some opponents of Palliative Sedation have argued that because Palliative Sedation has the double foreseen effect of relieving pain and suffering and may cause the death of the patient; this practice can be seen as Euthanasia in disguise. Others have argued that since Palliative Sedation achieves the same objective as Euthanasia and PAS, (death to the patient) it must therefore be seen as Euthanasia in disguise.

Proponents of Palliative Sedation on the other hand have argued that even if death occurs as a result of Palliative Sedation, there was no intention to cause death, but death could result from one of the double effects of the treatment. Other supporters argue that patients who undergo Palliative Sedation and die, do not die from the sedatives, but from the underlying illness.

Having considered the arguments, I opine that Palliative Sedation is not Euthanasia in disguise. I also argue that the intentions of the health care professionals and “caregivers” can be a distinguishing mark between Euthanasia/PAS and Palliative Sedation.
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Recognition, Epistemology, and Ethics
Michael Monahan
michael.monahan@nospammarquette.edu

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
In contemporary political theory, “recognition” has become a legitimate mode of discourse in both “analytic” and “continental” traditions at least since the early 1990's, with the publication of Axel Honneth's The Struggle for Recognition (1995) and Charles Taylor's “The Politics of Recognition” (1994). But much of this contemporary use of recognition theory suffers from several crucial flaws. In this paper, I will focus upon one of those flaws. Namely, they understand the cognitive moment in recognition on the model of propositional knowledge (of the form: S knows that p ). That is, insofar as they understand recognition as fundamentally moment of coming to know one's own particular identity and that of others, so that they can be properly recognized, it treats identity as a kind of static proposition that one either knows or does not. This leads to several important criticisms of recognition theory that have made it suspect as a political theory, and all but ignored as an ethical theory. First, and this is perhaps most clear in the case of Taylor 's account, it seems to lead to a basic tension, if not outright contradiction. Taylor is clear that part of the point of recognition theory is to stress the dialogic (social) constitution of identity, but at the same time, he sees successful recognition as involving the coming to know of one's authentic self (or that of another). How can our identity be at one and the same time a result of social constitution, and an object that we can come to know in order to engage in that dialogic process? Second, this tension points to a deep ontological problem in this understanding of how recognition functions. In appealing to a notion of identity that can be known and recognized in this way, it seems to posit a static, essentialist account of identity. What is more, within the power dynamics of a given political context, the content and meaning of that “authentic” identity is quite likely to legitimate and affirm relations of domination and subordination.

If, instead of the propositional model, we turn to a more practical account of the cognitive moment in recognition, our understanding of what is taking place alters dramatically. Whereas proposition knowledge is typically understood as an all-or-nothing dyad - the proposition in question is either true or false, and the subject in question either knows this or does not, practical knowledge (knowing how, as opposed to knowing that ), is a more dynamic, relational process that admits of degrees without necessary admitting of completion. Knowing a musical instrument, for example, is a never ending process in which one can always continue to improve. But that open-ended lack of a perfect and complete terminus does not mean that knowing the instrument is impossible. By turning to a dynamic account of recognition as an ongoing process of coming to better know ourselves and others in this practical sense, I will show that recognition theory can avoid some of the dire consequences of these flaws in recognition theory, making it a more plausible account not only of political life, but also a viable moral theory.

Works Cited

Honneth, Axel. 1995. The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts. ( Cambridge , MA : The MIT Press)

Markell, Patchen. 2003. Bound by Recognition. ( Princeton , NJ : Princeton University Press)

Taylor, Charles. 1994. “The Politics of Recognition”. In Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Amy Gutmann, ed. ( Princeton , NJ : Princeton University Press).

This particular critique is made quite clearly and forcefully by Patchen Markell (2003, 40-43)
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Equality of Resources: The Dynamic Model

Orsolya Reich (author unable to attend)
or347@nospamnyu.edu

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
My paper offers a modified version of Ronald Dworkin's shipwreck thought experiment presented in What is Equality? Part 2: Equality of Resources (1981). Based on that modified thought experiment the paper argues for a ‘dynamic' model of equality of resources instead of the original ‘static' one. The dynamic model, I believe, can avoid certain implausible consequences the static model faces with, and can provide us with a plausible conception of global justice.

In the paper, I argue that the approach to equality of resources as offered by Dworkin is a) in an important sense unspecified, and b) both of the 'obvious' specifications are morally unappealing. I show this by asking what justice would require had there been an archipelago instead of a single island near to the sinking ocean-liner.

According to one sort of reasoning, it is irrelevant for equality of resources that the immigrants will live on different islands and intra-island cooperation will be very much more intense than inter-island cooperation. Everyone should be covered by the same insurance scheme. According to another sort of reasoning the hypothetical insurance schemes should be set up island by island, because only those in intense cooperation have justice requirements to one another.

Both sorts of reasoning are, however, unattractive. The first involves that until islanders reach a very high level of technological development, due to the prohibitively high costs of administering a central insurance, nobody will have any justice obligation to others. The other leads to a very different result. People would have obligations from the very moment of landing, but only to their fellow islanders. If a tornado destroys one of the islands, people from other islands were not required to help the victims of the catastrophe.

I suggest that while none of these approaches to equality of resources are morally appealing, equality of resources could be understood in a third, more plausible, way. Both of the above two reasonings assume that the insurance pools are pre-fixed, but this assumption is unargued and flawed. According to the dynamic model of equality of resources I argue for, what we owe to each other is (still) what an average traveler would purchase on a hypothetical insurance market, but I allow that under different circumstances not only the content and the level of compensation given would vary, but also the pool on which the insurance is based. Due to economic laws, with the technological development and the level of abundance increasing, the best buy will come with a wider and wider pool.

Translating this to our real-world, the approach implies that as history goes we have obligations by justice to a wider and wider set of people, and by now we have most probably reached a state when we have a strong moral obligation to strengthen the power and authority of global institutions.
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Uncanny Ethics: Moral Implications Of Contemporary Unheimlichkeit

Rosa Slegers
rslegers@nospambabson.edu

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
This paper looks at the phenomenon of the uncanny ( das Unheimliche ) as a starting point for ethical reflection. Famously described by Ernst Jentsch and Sigmund Freud as a kind of fear experienced in the face of what is usually most comfortable and familiar, the uncanny is of particular interest now that scientific developments force us to question heretofore self-evident truths about “human nature.” The paper focuses on two closely related clusters of moral issues springing from contemporary experiences of the uncanny. The first cluster concerns technological advances in robotics, the second recent discoveries in evolutionary biology and primatology.

Technological advances in e.g. social robotics, artificial intelligence, and prosthetics are blurring the boundaries between the natural and the artificial, human and machine. Pace-makers, cochlear implants, synthetic drugs, and robotic limbs are just a few of the technologies used to enhance, correct, or complement the body. This boundary-blurring is not unproblematic, however. As early as 1970, Japanese Masahiro Mori hypothesized that robots and other artificial objects can become uncanny to us when they look too much like (parts of) real human beings, a phenomenon known as the “uncanny valley.” Faced with our mechanical counterparts, we may wonder about the extent to which we ourselves are automata, dependent on, and at least to some extent determined by, the intricate “software” embedded in our cells. The theory of the uncanny proposed by psychologist Ernst Jentsch provides an ethical framework for the current debate about the uncanny nature of modern technologies.

Neuroscientists and biologists researching the neurological and evolutionary roots of morality and decision-making are blurring the line separating human from non-human animals. Other primates not only experience but also act on the supposedly exclusively human feeling of empathy, biologists like Frans de Waal argue. Furthermore, our human ability to make moral choices has been shown to depend, at least in part, on some of the most primitive parts of our brain. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has shown that unconscious, largely automated emotional judgments play an essential role in our seemingly purely “rational” thought processes. It is clear that one has cause to question the legitimacy of the emphasis traditionally placed on reason in philosophical ethics: rather than setting us apart from non-human primates, morality appears to link us more firmly to our close cousins, the chimpanzees and bonobos. Why does the compelling evidence for a seamless continuum connecting our species to other mammals make so many people uncomfortable? Freud's theory of the uncanny double both engages this question and helps fill out the framework provided by Jentsch.

Contemporary scientific developments can make us uncanny to ourselves. We recognize the automaton in ourselves, ourselves in our primate relatives. What are the implications of our ambiguous nature for our moral outlook? Integrating this question with the psychological theories of Jentsch and Freud, this paper aims to establish the uncanny as a call for ethical reflection similar to - but more specific than - the existentialist notion of Angst .
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Nature Films: A Look at the Ethics of (Mis)Representation
Bianca Torchia
btorch@nospamuvic.ca

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Abstract:
In this essay, I look at the ethical implications of wildlife films. I argue that these films exacerbate the accumulated misunderstanding of something as paramount as the natural world. Because how we treat others is based on how see them (Dyer, 1993), there are many legitimate concerns regarding the influence of nature films over the audience, given their roles as voters, consumers, and ecological agents. I argue, in virtue of television's socio and economic functions, that the medium itself is necessarily unsuited for the accurate representation of animals and the ecosystems that they inhabit.
Tactics used in wildlife films, such as narration, staging and recreations, and digital editing, does less to acquaint us with the natural world than it does to alienate us from it. Nature films are seen as uncomplicated depictions of scientific facts and simple truths about the natural world, though in reality they present us with a seriously distorted vision of nature. These films present a coerced representation of the animal world. For example, Killer Whales: Wolves of the Sea (1999) depicted male whales gathering to rub their penises together. These same whales later roll themselves on a pebbly beach. The narrator asymmetrically describes the former behavior as bizarre and puzzling to scientists, and the latter behavior as a result of it simply “feeling good”. These representational practices are derived from and present a problematic hetero-normative picture of the animal kingdom. Such massaged pictures of the animal world cannot help but raise the question, “Whose reality is being presented?”

I argue that television is necessarily incompatible with the accurate representation of nature. This is a result of television's history, as well as its socio-economic, institutional agenda. What appears on our screens when we watch a nature film has more to do with the expectations of the viewers, established production practices, and media economics than it does with the actual natural world. Thus, we observe wildlife films presenting a selective representation of nature. I argue that this representation is harmful to us as social, political, economic and ecological agents.
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Contemporary Slavery: A Human Rights Approach

Christien van den Anker

Complete paper not available. Please contact author.

Abstract:
In 2007 we celebrated 200 years of freedom from slavery. Yet, we realise increasingly that slavery did not stop then. Traditional forms of slavery continued, sometimes took on different forms and contemporary forms of slavery developed. Moreover, we are still struggling to overcome the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade.

This public lecture explores what this situation means for making human rights reality rather than rhetoric. The right not to be enslaved is a strong right. It is morally supported universally, non-derogable in international law and part of customary law, yet for many people this right is inaccessible.

The central question is: What does justice require we do to make human rights real for people who are experiencing contemporary forms of slavery or those who encounter the barriers formed by the legacies of slavery in the past?



Faculty of Humanities and Education
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