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Hermann Cohen’s essay on Maimonides’ ethics is one of the most fundamental texts of twentieth-century Jewish philosophy, correlating Platonic, prophetic, Maimonidean, and Kantian traditions. Almut Sh. Bruckstein provides the first English translation and her own extensive commentary on this landmark 1908 work, which inspired readings of medieval and rabbinic sources by Leo Strauss, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas.
Cohen rejects the notion that we should try to understand texts of the past solely in the context of their own historical era. Subverting the historical order, he interprets the ethical meanings of texts in the light of a future yet to be realized. He commits the entire Jewish tradition to a universal socialism prophetically inspired by ideals of humanity, peace, and universal justice.
Through her own probing commentary on Cohen’s text, like the margin notes of a medieval treatise, Bruckstein performs the hermeneutical act that lies at the core of Cohen’s argument: she reads Jewish sources from a perspective that recognizes the interpretive act of commentary itself.
Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality
This book closely examines texts from Chinese and Western traditions that hold up ethics as the inviolable ground of human existence, as well as those that regard ethics with suspicion. The negative notion of morality contends that because ethics cannot be divorced from questions of belonging and identity, there is a danger that it can be nudged into the domain of the unethical, since ethical virtues can become properties to be possessed with which the recognition of others is solicited. Ethics thus fosters the very egoism it hopes to transcend, and risks excluding the unfamiliar and the stranger. The author argues inspirationally that the unethical underbelly of ethics must be recognized in order to ensure that it remains vibrant.
"Those who think they know George Dickieâ€™s views should be sure to read this book. They are in for some interesting surprises. Of course, those unfamiliar with Dickieâ€™s views will also learn a lot." â€”Anita Silvers, San Francisco State University In this book George Dickie presents a theory about how to judge a work of artâ€”as opposed to a theory that explains why a particular work is defined as art. Focusing mainly on the writings of Monroe Beardsley and critically examining the views of seven other philosophers and art criticsâ€”Paul Ziff, Frank Sibley, Nelson Goodman, Nicholas Wolterstorff, David Hume, Bruce Vermazen, and J. O. Urmsonâ€”Dickie synthesizes their insights to discover what can be derived from their theories. On this basis, he attempts to work out a theory of art evaluationâ€”the first such book on this topic by a contemporary philosopher. Initially, the author outlines all possible theories of art evaluation, assuming that traditional evaluative notions are used. He identifies seven theory-types that fall under four general headings: imitation value theory, objective intrinsic value theories, subjective intrinsic value theory, and instrumental value theories. Dickie then discusses the historical development of the theory of art evaluation, examining the ways in which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophers treated representation and other cognitive dimensions of art as artistic values. His thorough analysis of the work of other contemporary theorists argues for a theory of art evaluation derived from various strands of thought.
T.H. Huxley's Evolution and Ethics with New Essays on Its Victorian and Sociobiological Context
T. H. Huxley (1825-1895) was not only an active protagonist in the religious and scientific upheaval that followed the publication of Darwin's theory of evolution but also a harbinger of the sociobiological debates about the implications of evolution that are now going on. His seminal lecture Evolution and Ethics, reprinted here with its introductory Prolegomena, argues that the human psyche is at war with itself, that humans are alienated in a cosmos that has no special reference to their needs, and that moral societies are of necessity in conflict with the natural conditions of their existence. Seen in the light of current understanding of the mechanisms of evolution, these claims remain as controversial today as they were when Huxley proposed them. In this volume George Williams, one of the best-known evolutionary biologists of our time, asserts that recent biological ideas and data justify a more extreme condemnation of the "cosmic process" than Huxley advocated and more extreme denial that the forces that got us here are capable of maintaining a viable world. James Paradis, an expert in Victorian studies, has written an introduction that sets the celebrated lecture in the context of cultural history, revealing it to be an impressive synthesis of Victorian thinking, as well as a challenge to eighteenth-century assumptions about the harmony of of nature. With Huxley's lecture as a focal point, the three parts of this book unite philosophy and science in a shared quest that recalls their common origins as systems of knowledge.
Originally published in 1989.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
The Ethics of Clinical Research
When is clinical research in developing countries exploitation? Exploitation is a concept in ordinary moral thought that has not often been analyzed outside the Marxist tradition. Yet it is commonly used to describe interactions that seem morally suspect in some way. A case in point is clinical research sponsored by developed countries and carried out in developing countries, with participants who are poor and sick, and lack education. Such individuals seem vulnerable to abuse. But does this, by itself, make such research exploitative?
Exploitation and Developing Countries is an attempt by philosophers and bioethicists to reflect on the meaning of exploitation, to ask whether and when clinical research in developing countries counts as exploitative, and to consider what can be done to minimize the possibility of exploitation in such circumstances. These reflections should interest clinical researchers, since locating the line between appropriate and inappropriate use of subjects--the line between exploitation and fair use--is the central question at the heart of research ethics. Reflection on this rich and important moral concept should also interest normative moral philosophers of a non-Marxist bent.
In addition to the editors, the contributors are Richard J. Arneson, Alisa L. Carse, Margaret Olivia Little, Thomas Pogge, Andrew W. Siegel, and Alan Wertheimer.
In a challenge to current thinking about cognitive impairment, this book explores what it means to treat people with intellectual disabilities in an ethical manner. Reassessing philosophical views of intellectual disability, Licia Carlson shows how we can affirm the dignity and worth of intellectually disabled people first by ending comparisons to nonhuman animals and then by confronting our fears and discomforts. Carlson presents the complex history of ideas about cognitive disability, the treatment of intellectually disabled people, and social and cultural reactions to them. Sensitive and clearly argued, this book offers new insights on recent trends in disability studies and philosophy.
Levinas and Environmental Thought
Despite its attention to questions of ethics and “the ethical,” contemporary continental philosophy has often been disengaged from inquiring into our ethical obligation to nature and the environment. In response to this vacuum in the literature, Facing Nature simultaneously makes Levinasian resources more accessible to practitioners in the diverse fields of environmental thought while demonstrating the usefulness of continental philosophy for addressing major issues in environmental thought. Drawing on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, these scholars approach environmental philosophy from both humanistic and nonanthropocentric points of view. On the one hand, the book contributes to the discussion of environmental justice as well as the growth of ecophilosophical literature. At the same time, some of the essays take an interpretive approach to Levinas’s thought, finding that his work is able to speak to environmental thinkers whose positions actually diverge quite sharply from his own. While recognizing the limitations of Levinas’s writings from an environmental perspective, Facing Nature argues that themes at the heart of his work—the significance of the ethical, responsibility, alterity, the vulnerability of the body, bearing witness, and politics—are important for thinking about many of our most pressing contemporary environmental questions. Essays specifically highlight the otherness of nature, the vulnerability and suffering of nonhuman animals, the idea of an interspecies politics, the role of nature in ethical life, individual responsibility for climate change, and the Jewish understanding of creation as points of contact between Levinas’s philosophical project and environmental thought. Levinas is also brought into conversation with dialogue partners who enhance this connection, such as Theodor Adorno, Hanna Arendt, Tim Yilngayarri, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Henry David Thoreau. While widely relevant to all those who attempt to think through our ethical relation to the natural world, Facing Nature will be of special interest to scholars and students interested in both continental philosophy and the manifold areas of environmental studies.
This book of original essays provides a dialogue between four of the most distinguished scholars now working on problems of faith, reason, and skepticism. In their essays, William P. Alston, Robert Audi, Terence Penelhum, and Richard H. Popkin address both the corrosive and the constructive influences of skepticism on Christian and Jewish concepts of faith. The authors treat questions of perennial interest in philosophy of religion: the bases of human knowledge of God, the place of reason in religious belief, the difference between religious beliefs and those based on common sense, and the reconcilability of skepticism with religious belief. In terms of current epistemology, Alston explores the implications of reliabilism for Christian knowledge of God. Audi develops a concept of non-doxastic faith, which contrasts with flat-out beliefs, arguing that such faith can support a full range of Christian attitudes and ethics. Penelhum contends that religious beliefs cannot be defended in the same way as beliefs of common sense, and thus natural theology is essential. Popkin demonstrates, in a richly historical study, that Jewish skepticism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was used and can be used to neutralize questionable metaphysical theology while leaving a mysticism and spirituality without creed or institution. The essays are preceded by an Editorâ€™s Introduction and the volume concludes with a unifying dialogue between the four authors.