There are replies you may not give. There are comments you may not make. There are truths you may not tell, in the world of public relations, for the public are fickle, and behave as a mob. A mob in all its feral, brutal depravity, lacking any and all of the qualities we laud upon humanity that allow us to feel so smug over all of the hapless animals that we raise ourselves over.
Both the retrospective and prospective uses also raise the relation between legal and moral responsibility. Many important theories of responsibility relate to legal concerns, which will be discussed in a later section. As we pursue these topics, there is also the difficulty of seeing how they interrelate, so that it makes sense that we use the same word to raise each issue.
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The discussion begins with the topics which philosophers have most often discussed: Moral Agency Normal human adults represent our paradigm case of responsible agents. What is distinctive about them, that we accord them this status? Thinking of retrospective responsibility in particular, why can be held accountable for their actions — justly praised or blamed, deservedly punished or rewarded?
The philosophical literature has explored three broad approaches to moral agency: Human beings have free will, that is, distinctive causal powers or a special metaphysical status, that separate them from everything else in the universe; Human beings can act on the basis of reason s ; Human beings have a certain set of moral or proto-moral feelings.
The first approach, although historically important, has largely been discredited by the success of modern science. Science provides, or promises, naturalistic explanations of such phenomena as the evolution of the human species and the workings of the brain. Almost all modern philosophers approach responsibility as compatibilists — that is, they assume that moral responsibility must be compatible with causal or naturalistic explanation of human thought and action, and therefore reject the metaphysical idea of free will.
There can be terminological confusion here. Among modern compatibilists, a contest remains, however, between the second and third approaches — positions that are essentially Kantian and Humean in inspiration. It is indisputable, however, that our rationality is at the centre of his picture of moral agency.
Kant himself does not speak of responsibility — the word was only just coming into the language of his day — but he does have much to say about imputation Zurechnungthat is, the basis on which actions are imputed to a person.
Kant was principally concerned with evaluation of the self. Although he occasionally mentions blame mutual accountabilityhis moral theory is really about the basis on which a person treats herself as responsible. The core of his answer is that a rational agent chooses to act in the light of principles — that is, we deliberate among reasons.
Therefore standards of rationality apply to us, and when we fail to act rationally this is, simply and crudely, a Bad Thing. It is important to be aware that Kant sees reason as having moral content, so that there is a failure of rationality involved when we do something immoral — for instance, by pursuing our self-interest at the expense of others.
Even if we sometimes feel no inclination to take account of others, reason still tells us that we should, and can motivate us to do so. David Hume denied that reason can provide us with moral guidance, or the motivation to act morally.
He is famous for his claim that "Reason is wholly inactive, and can never be the source of so active a principle as conscience, or a sense of morals" A Treatise of Human Nature, book 3, part 1, sect. If we are moral agents, this is because we are equipped with certain tendencies to feel or desire, dispositions that make it seem rational to us to act and think morally."In the third Quarterly Essay for , acclaimed writer and thinker Inga Clendinnen looks past the skirmishes and pitched battles of the history wars and asks what7F 19s at stake what kind of history do we want and need?
The landfill guys had talked first. One is a marketer and the other an environmental engineer. The PR man looks like a young Mickey Rourke, although more polished, seriously like a movie star — cowboy boots, blue jeans, white shirt open at the neck, black coat.
Who “owns” the past? Who has the right to define what the past means for us today? This assignment will ask you to reflect on these questions.
May (This essay is derived from a guest lecture at Harvard, which incorporated an earlier talk at Northeastern.) When I finished grad school in computer science I went to art school to study painting.
Because it has been used so rarely, and because it is a power entrusted to Congress, not the courts, impeachment as a legal process is poorly understood. There are no judicial opinions that create precedents for how and when to proceed with it. Past cases are subject to competing and often contradictory interpretations.
Some might even be tempted to argue that because impeachment is . Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.