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Truth, Individualism, and the Limits of Belief
Questions of belief, and agency over personal belief, abound as individuals claim to have the right to believe whatever they so choose. In a carefully constructed argument, Bruce Reichenbach contends that while individuals have direct control over belief, they are obligated to believe—and purposely seek—the truth. Though the nature of truth and belief is an oft-debated topic, Reichenbach moves beyond surface-level persuasions to address the very core of what constitutes a human right. These epistemic obligations are critical, as the influence of belief is evident throughout society, from law and education to religion and daily decision-making. Grounding his argument in practical case studies, Reichenbach deftly demonstrates the necessity of moral accountability and belief.
Although he was born in Spain, George Santayana (1863--1952) became a uniquely American philosopher, critic, poet, and best-selling novelist. Along with his Harvard colleagues William James and Josiah Royce, he is best known as one of the founders of American pragmatism and recognized for his insights into the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and moral philosophy. The Essential Santayana presents a selection of Santayana's most important and influential literary and philosophical work. Martin A. Coleman's critical introduction sets Santayana into the American philosophical tradition and provides context for contemporary readers, many of whom may be approaching Santayana's writings for the first time. This landmark collection reveals the intellectual and literary diversity of one of American philosophy's most lively minds.
Plato and Levinas on Relations to the Other
Moral Stances in Human Dialogue
The Greenhouse Effect
Faced with the prospect of global warming, the anticipated rapid rise in global air temperatures due to the release of gases into the atmosphere, we have two choices of how to respond: adaptation or avoidance. With adaptation we keep burning fossil fuels, let global temperatures rise and make whatever changes this requires: move people from environmentally damaged areas, build sea walls, etc. With avoidance we stop warming from occurring, either by reducing our use of fossil fuels or by using technology such as carbon dioxide recovery after combustion to block the warming effect. Yet each strategy has its drawbacks—adaptation may not be able to occur fast enough to accommodate the expected temperature increases, but avoidance would be prohibitively expensive. An ethically acceptable goal must involve some mixture of adaptation and avoidance.
Written by a team of scientists, social scientists, humanists, legal and environmental scholars and corporate researchers, this book offers an ethical analysis of possible responses to the problem. Their analyses of the scientific and technological data and the ethical principles involved in determining whose interests should be considered point to a combination of adaptation and avoidance of greenhouse gas production. They offer assessments of personal, corporate, government and international responsibility and a series of recommendations to aid decision-makers in determining solutions and apportioning responsibility.
John Kultgen explores the ways morality and professional ideals are connected. In assessing the moral impact of professionalism in our society, he examines both the structure and organization of occupations and the ideals and ideology associated with professions.
Differing from standard treatments of professional ethics, Ethics and Professionalism recognizes that it is the practices within the professions that determine whether rules and ideals are used as masks for self-interest or for genuinely moral purposes.
Alterity and the Phenomenology of Obligation
According to James R. Mensch, a minimal requirement for ethics is that of guarding against genocide. In deciding which races are to live and which to die, genocide takes up a standpoint outside of humanity. To guard against this, Mensch argues that we must attain the critical distance required for ethical judgment without assuming a superhuman position. His description of how to attain this distance constitutes a genuinely new reading of the possibility of a phenomenological ethics, one that involves reassessing what it means to be a self. Selfhood, according to Mensch, involves both embodiment and the self-separation brought about by our encounter with others—the very others who provide us with the experiential context needed for moral judgment. Buttressing his position with documented accounts of those who hid Jews during the Holocaust, Mensch shows how the self-separation that occurs in empathy opens the space within which moral judgment can occur and obligation can find its expression. He includes a reading of the major moral philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Arendt, Levinas—even as he develops a phenomenological account of the necessity of reading literature to understand the full extent of ethical responsibility. Mensch’s work offers an original and provocative approach to a topic of fundamental importance.
A Speciesist Argument for Animal Liberation
Many people think that animal liberation would require a fundamental transformation of basic beliefs. We would have to give up "speciesism" and start viewing animals as our equals, with rights and moral status. And we would have to apply these beliefs in an all-or-nothing way. But in Ethics and the Beast, Tzachi Zamir makes the radical argument that animal liberation doesn't require such radical arguments--and that liberation could be accomplished in a flexible and pragmatic way. By making a case for liberation that is based primarily on common moral intuitions and beliefs, and that therefore could attract wide understanding and support, Zamir attempts to change the terms of the liberation debate.
Without defending it, Ethics and the Beast claims that speciesism is fully compatible with liberation. Even if we believe that we should favor humans when there is a pressing human need at stake, Zamir argues, that does not mean that we should allow marginal human interests to trump the life-or-death interests of animals. As minimalist as it sounds, this position generates a robust liberation program, including commitments not to eat animals, subject them to factory farming, or use them in medical research. Zamir also applies his arguments to some questions that tend to be overlooked in the liberation debate, such as whether using animals can be distinguished from exploiting them, whether liberationists should be moral vegetarians or vegans, and whether using animals for therapeutic purposes is morally blameless.
History and Subjectivity in Levinas and the Frankfurt School
In Ethics at a Standstill, Asher Horowitz explores the philosophies of Levinas and the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School, demonstrating the ways in which their works diverge from and complement each other. Not simply a comparative study in which approaches are compared and contrasted, nor an attempt to blend or synthesize thinkers with quite distinct aims and methods, the book suggests, rather, that Levinas and the Frankfurt School tend toward each other, that each speaks to the desire that the other already exhibits.
Demonstrating an authoritative command of both the thinkers themselves—including Benjamin, Horkheimer, and Marcuse—and the various philosophical contexts in which they are embedded, Horowitz offers a politically thoughtful and philosophically provocative analysis based on a wide range of texts and a critical reconstruction and confrontation between the positions.