Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

From Principles to Practice: Normativity and Judgement in Ethics and Politics

2019.04.27 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Onora O'Neill, From Principles to Practice: Normativity and Judgement in Ethics and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2018, 226pp., $84.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781107113756. Reviewed by Sam Fleischacker, University of Illinois at Chicago Onora O’Neill has had one of the most distinguished careers of anyone working in moral philosophy today. Her earlActing on Principle was a landmark in Kant scholarship: along with the early writings of Christine Korsgaard and Barbara Herman, it was one of the first modern efforts to make clear, rigorous sense of how exactly Kant’s categorical imperative might work in practice. Her Constructions of Reason included the best papers I have ever seen on what Kant might mean by “the public use of reason,” and on how the categorical imperative may be Kant’s fundamental principle of both moral and epistemic reasoning. After that, while continuing to work on Kant, O’Neill moved on to make major contributions to how we think... Read [More]

When Killing is Worse than Letting Die

Consider two plausible ethical claims: (1) It's much worse to kill someone for money than it is to refrain from saving a life due to the monetary cost. (2) There's no intrinsic or fundamental significance to the distinctions between doing and allowing, killing vs letting die, etc. (It's notoriously difficult to give a sound metaphysical account of these distinctions that seems to be getting at anything fundamentally important, after all.) Together, these points suggest that we should want to account for such distinctions having a kind of indirect significance -- say, by typically correlating with something else that has intrinsic significance.What might that "something else" be?  One striking thing about the ill-doer (in contrast to the ill-allower) is that their presence makes things worse than if they hadn't been there at all.  I don't think that necessarily makes any difference from the agent's perspective (they have just as strong a reason to prevent bad outcomes as they do to refrain from causing bad outcomes; there's no reason for them to privilege the status quo in their deliberations).  But it may make a difference to how others should regard the agent.  It could make sense for others to fear the ill-doer, for example, whereas there's typically no reason to fear an ill-allower who makes no difference to the situation. (Exceptions arise in "pre-emption" cases where a malicious ill-allower is ready & willing to do [More]

Understanding Hume on Miracles (Audio Essay)

This audio essay is an Easter special. It focuses on David Hume's famous argument about miracles. First written over 250 years, Hume's essay 'Of Miracles' purports to provide an "everlasting check" against all kinds of "superstitious delusion". But is this true? Does Hume give us good reason to reject the testimonial proof provided on behalf of historical miracles? Maybe not, but he certainly provides a valuable framework for thinking critically about this issue.You can download the audio here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple, Stitcher and a variety of other podcatching services (the RSS feed is here).This audio essay is based on an earlier written essay (available here). If you are interested in further reading about the topic, I recommend the following essays:Hume's Argument Against Miracles (Part One)Hume's Argument Against Miracles (Part Two)Hume, Miracles and the Many Witnesses Objection #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the [More]