Utilized or sensible ethics may be the most important development quarter in philosophy at the present time, and lots of matters in ethical, social, and political existence have come lower than philosophical scrutiny lately. Taken jointly, the essays during this quantity – together with review essays on theories of ethics and the character of utilized ethics – offer a cutting-edge account of the main urgent ethical questions dealing with us today.
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Additional resources for A Companion to Applied Ethics (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy)
After all the persons codes institutions or cultures from which the premises descend may not themselves be highly reliable For example the Hippocratic tradition the starting-point in medical ethics for centuries has turned out to be a limited and generally unreliable basis for medical ethics In addition vagueness surrounds the precise nature and scope of the method of appeals to coherence A philosopher seeking coherence might be pursuing one or more of several different interests: evaluating public policy constructing a moral philosophy improving his or her personal set of moral beliefs and so on The focus might be on judgments on policies on cases or on finding moral truth It is also not clear how we should and should not achieve coherence or how to be sure that we have done so In light of the differences in the models explored in this section and the diverse literature in applied philosophy it is questionable whether applied ethics has a distinct method or type of justification Applied philosophers appear to do what philosophers have always done: they analyze concepts examine the hidden presuppositions of moral opinions and theories offer criticism and constructive accounts of the moral phenomena in question and criticize strategies that are used to justify beliefs policies and actions They seek a reasoned defense of a moral viewpoint and they use considered judgments and moral frameworks to distinguish justified moral claims from unjustified ones They try to stimulate the moral imagination promote analytical skills and weed out prejudice undue emotion false authority and the like From this perspective differences between traditional ethical theory and applied ethics can be easily exaggerated In philosophy journals that publish both applied and theoretical work no sharp line of demarcation is apparent between the concepts and norms of ethical theory and applied ethics There is not even a discernible continuum from theoretical to applied The applied-theoretical distinction therefore needs to be used with caution (Beauchamp 1984: 514-31; Gert 1984: 532-48) Problems of Specification It is now generally agreed in literature on the problems addressed in the previous two sections that specific policy guidelines and truly practical udgments cannot be squeezed from abstract principles and general ethical theories alone Additional content must be introduced from some quarter General theories and principles f used at all must be made specific for contexts; otherwise moral guidelines will be empty and ineffectual The implementation of these general norms must take account of feasibility efficiency cultural pluralism political procedures uncertainty 12 THE NATURE OF APPLIED ETHICS b t rik li b difftd ti l dil d th lik I short theories and principles must be specified for a context Specification should not be understood as a process of producing general norms; it assumes they are already available It is the process of making these norms t t h t th ifll id d t Sifiti i d i th i d t i t f th l t i th i d ti idi it hil tii th l i t t i th i i l Filli t th i t t f th ith h i h t t i lihd b i th f th t l b lii h t th l Th i d H Rihd t it b " l l i t where when why how by what means to whom or by whom the action is to be done or avoided" (Richardson 2000: 289; see also Richardson 1990: 2 7 9 3 1 0 ) For example without further specification the principle "respect the autonomy of t t " i t t hdl litd bl f ht t k f i liil dii d h i l i h bjt A dfi iti f" t f t " ( " l l i t t t i thi libt riht") iht lif ' i bt ld t th l d it if S i f t i i d i f f t kid f lli t th analysis of meaning It adds content For example one possible specification of "respect the autonomy of competent persons" is "respect the autonomy of compe tent persons after they become incompetent by following their advance directives" Wh i th f thi til ifti b t l t diffilti i l i d diti ld if f t h fll " R t th t f t t ( f t th b i t t ) b flli thi d diti if d l if th d i t i l d tii t th i t t h d " A th bl th f ifi ti ill ti Tht i l d ifd l idli d lii ill b fth ifd t h d l l i t Thi i specification is one way to practice applied ethics and it may be the best way In progressive specification there must remain a transparent connection to he initial norm that gives moral authority to the string of norms that develop over ti Th i l th ibilit f th ifiti bi bl d it i ibl t h t d i f f t ti ill ff d i f f t ifti Th ti ifti ll b t t t i d jtifibl Of t ll j t i f i b l Th t f f i l iti (i ifti thi d lii d j d t ) h ft b t d i th h b b i d d l f t t i P f i l thrit i thi way protect shoddy moral reflection In the process of specification overconfidence in one's specifications is a moral vice that can have profound consequences Moral disagreement in the course of formulating specifications is inevitable n t t I i b l t i d i l t i l ti ifti itll ti t b ffd bt l t t i ifiti d t b tt f t th th i th t t i hih flti ff l t t i lti t til bl Thi b t i tk t th bjt fh hld i itti i hih llitdd d i i dk l d b l fid t h l i d i t 13 TOM L BEAUCHAMP Problems of Conflict and Disagreement Moral disagreements emerge in the moral life from several different sources These include disagreements over which specification is appropriate factual disagreements (for example about the level of suffering that an action will cause) conceptual disagreements scope disagreements about who should be protected by a moral norm (for example whether fetuses or animals are protected) disagreements resulting from a genuine moral dilemma disagreements about which norms are relevant in the circumstances and disagreements about the weight of the relevant norms in the circumstances It should not be presumed in a context of disagreement that at least one party is morally biased mistaken or otherwise deficient Conscientious and reasonable moral agents who work with due diligence at specification and reasoning about moral problems sometimes understandably disagree The parties may disagree about whether religious values have any place in political affairs whether any form of affirmative action is viable whether physician-assisted suicide is ever acceptable and dozens of other issues in applied ethics When evidence is incomplete or different sets of evidence are available to different parties one party may be justified in reaching a conclusion that another party s justified in rejecting We cannot hold persons to a higher standard than to make judgments conscientiously and coherently in light of the relevant basic and specified norms together with the available evidence Of course tolerance for some norms rightly has its limits The method of specification offered in the previous section needs enrichment by an account of moral justification that will help distinguish justified and unjustified specifications The models of method and ustification discussed in earlier sections may be our best resources in this endeavor but if so these resources stand in need of further development to be of real practical assistance in applied ethics Conclusion A robust confidence in and enthusiasm for the promise and harvest of applied ethics is far from universal Many are unconvinced that traditional philosophical ethics or contemporary ethical theory can play any significant role in case analysis or in policy or professional contexts There is for reasons discussed throughout this chapter skepticism that philosophical theories even have practical implications (or applications) However these suspicions may rest on misconceptions of the nature of applied ethics No morally serious individual doubts the importance of the issues treated in applied ethics and virtually everyone familiar with work in the field can cite some examples of outstanding applied work The better view is that adequate conceptions of the method and moral content of applied ethics remain a project n the making 14 THE NATURE OF APPLIED ETHICS References Beauchamp T L (1984) On eliminating the distinction between applied ethics and ethical theory The Monist, 67: 514-31 Brody H and Miller F G (1998) The internal morality of medicine: explication and application to managed care Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 23: 384-410 Clouser K D and Gert B (1990) A critique of principlism The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 15: 219-36 Engelhardt H T (1996) The Foundations of Bioethics, 2nd edn New York: Oxford University Press and Wildes K (1994) The four principles of health care ethics and post-modernity In R Gillon (ed) Principles of Health Care Ethics, pp 135—47 London: John Wiley Gert B (1982) Licensing professions Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 1: 51-60 (1984) Moral theory and applied ethics The Monist, 67: 532^48 Culver C M and Clouser K D (1997) Bioethics: A Return to Fundamentals.
Obviously cooperation is required for many many things that are valuable in life perhaps especially in complex modern societies n which we cannot assume that genuinely common interests shaped by common cultural or lii tditi ill t t h ll f i i f t i t t i Morality b t h h t f ill b d d i f f ti Pi il f l iht d ld th b ht l ifi i t ii d ft i th b d t ibl f f ti l ti i l i t j t thi tht it litil it b t ll t t h t (Atll Hbb' i tht ation among large groups was impossible without political authority since other wise uncertainty of others' participation would undermine the assurance necessary for it to make sense for one to do one's part) A d i t t t i i th hth ti i iht i d t i d b l f ti f th b d t t tht i bt ll h l t Tk f l th l t h t it i tt t th id f th i d l th ifi i l d i tt t( l it i t b l l a d/ th ti f if t di t b l l (3) Arguably there exist some a and p such that it would promote everyone's interests more for everyone to follow the resulting rule than it would for everyone to pursue their own interests independently If that is so then for starters contrac t i i ill h l d t h t it ld b t t fll thi l T fit i t i t t i i hld tht h t it i i h t t d d d ht l it ld b i ' i t t f t t d b idd b i thi d l i b t i d l ti H ht f i different ibl l f i kid f i t t i h th t tht ' i t t ld b t d btt b ' flli tht l th th ld b if t t t d t t thi i t t i d d t l ?
New York: Columbia University Press Ross W D (1963) The Right and the Good. Oxford: Clarendon Press Rousseau Jean-Jacques (1987) The Social Contract. In The Basic Political Writings, trans Donald A Cress Indianapolis IN: Hackett Scanlon T M (1998) What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Slote Michael (1992) From Morality to Virtue. New York: Oxford University Press Thomson Judith (1976) Killing letting die and the trolley problem The Monist, 59: 204-17 Williams Bernard (1985) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.