Applied Ethics

By In Applied Ethics, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments (15)

“Everyday” and “Alienated” Approaches to Moral Theory

This post is partly a “bleg” and partly an invitation for people to give their two cents on what strikes me as a very deep and important divide among moral theorists.

Consider so-called “common-sense morality”. It consists of claims like, “It’s wrong to take someone else’s property”; “You shouldn’t handle others’ bodies without their consent”; “The job should go to the person who deserves it”; “Academic censorship is wrong because it goes against the very purposes of the university”; “It’s worse to do harm than to merely allow it to occur”; “You shouldn’t make a promise that you don’t intend to keep”; etc. It gets called “common-sense” mainly because it’s thought to capture the moral leanings of the person on the street. But it’s also fair to call it “common-sense” just because of the way it conceptually carves the world for evaluation in terms of “should”, “worse”, and so on — namely, in terms of “property”, “consent”, “job”, “point”, “do/allow”, “promise”, “intend”. These are common-sense conceptualizations because they are the conceptualizations that common-sense morality employs.


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By In Applied Ethics, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Normative Ethics, Political Philosophy Comments (26)

Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva’s, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” with a critical précis by Erin Kelly

Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva‘s, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition.” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Erin Kelly has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!

Erin Kelly writes:

Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva’s paper, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” argues that capital punishment wrongs black defendants and black communities, and that the proper remedy for this wrong is abolition of the death penalty. In developing this argument, they make an interesting case for understanding the racial wrongs of capital punishment in political terms—as instances of distributive injustice—rather than (simply) in terms of a failure to achieve retributive justice. I will explore both the nature of their claims about distributive justice and their criticism of retributive justice. I won’t address the case for abolition, which flows naturally from their conclusions about the harm done by the death penalty. Instead I will suggest, briefly, how their argument against the retributive theory could be stronger.


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By In Applied Ethics, Discussions, JESP Discussions, Normative Ethics, Political Philosophy Comments Off on Upcoming JESP Discussion (3/19) on Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin’s “A View of Racism”

Upcoming JESP Discussion (3/19) on Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin’s “A View of Racism”

We are excited to announce the return of the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy discussion! This time we’ll look at Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin’s “A View of Racism: 2016 and America’s Original Sin”, with a critical précis by Tommy Curry.

The discussion starts March 19th. As JESP is always open-access, you can check out the paper here. Please join us next Monday!

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By In Applied Ethics, Business Ethics, Ideas Comments (3)

Open Letter Regarding Compensation for Blood Plasma Donation

A couple of years ago, I posted about an open letter about the ethics of compensating bone marrow stem cell donors. Peter M. Jaworski and I, who co-founded, recently published a second open letter about blood plasma donation in Canada (on the site newly redesigned by me!). A number of Canadian provinces have passed, or are considering, legislation that would effectively make it illegal to pay people for blood plasma donations. (The letter concerns donations used to create plasma-based products like immune globulin, not for transfusions.) We and a collection of signatories—ethicists and economists including Soupers Jason Brennan and Jeff Moriarty—argue that this is a mistake. Below is a brief overview of the arguments for these bans (as we understand them) and our responses (as well as a bit of personal editorializing). In my view, this is an open and shut case. We would love to hear what other Soupers think. Are there better arguments for the bans we are missing? We also welcome more signatories (especially Canadian ones!).

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By In Applied Ethics, Ideas Comments (7)

Ethics in the News: The Initials-Etching Surgeon

What are the wrong-making features in this case? These are what seem to be the relevant details:

“According to British news reports, Mr. Bramhall, 53, admitted to using an argon beam — an electrified gas jet that liver surgeons typically employ to stanch bleeding or to mark an area of operation on an organ — to etch “SB,” his initials, onto the livers. Argon beam marks are usually not harmful and would normally disappear. But they were apparently discovered by a colleague when one of the patients underwent a follow-up operation.”

Suppose instead he had sewn a suture in a distinctive way, his “signature style.” Would that too have been “assault”?

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By In Applied Ethics Comments (3)

The Place of Sports in the Academy

This post can also be found here.

“As previously acknowledged by the Office of the Vice Chancellor and Provost, student/athletes are obligated to meet both their academic and athletic commitments. It is possible that required competition may occasionally conflict with class schedules and/or other academic responsibilities. We would appreciate your assistance in providing the student with an opportunity to complete any assignments, exams, and/or projects that will be missed during their absence from your course.


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By In Applied Ethics, NDPR Discussion Forum, Political Philosophy Comments (21)

NDPR Forum: Fritz Allhoff’s Terrorism, Ticking Time-Bombs, and Torture (Reviewed by Chris Morris)

Welcome to another installment of our NDPR Forums, in which we invite both the author of a book reviewed in NDPR, as well as the reviewer, to talk about the review, the book, and anything else related to the topic. We also welcome anyone else to jump in to comment on any of those topics as well. Today we are opening a thread on Fritz Allhoff’s book Terrorism, Ticking Time-Bombs, and Torture: A Philosophical Analysis (University of Chicago Press), which was reviewed last week in NDPR by Chris Morris. Blurbs below the fold.


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