Introduction to Philosophy (Fall '09) - class#23

Introduction to Philosophy (Fall '09) - class#23 -...

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Unformatted text preview: Organizational Information Next lecture is our last lecture. :( But there will be discussion section this But Friday. Friday. :) Reading for next time: “War and Massacre” by Reading Thomas Nagel again. Thomas The final exam has been scheduled for 12/17 at 8:00. Review Session: Tuesday, 12/15, 7pm-9pm in Review Thompson 106. Thompson Review The Shallow Pond Case and The Letter Case The Quite Plausible Assumption (QPA) The Strong Principle (SP) and the Weak Principle (WP) Distinguishing SP and WP If donating half of what I own to Oxfam will prevent a tremendous amount of death and If suffering from occurring, then I ought to donate half of what I own to Oxfam. suffering Donating half of what I own to Oxfam will prevent a tremendous amount of death and Donating suffering from occurring. suffering Therefore, I ought to donate half of what I own to Oxfam. 1,2 MP If donating everything I would spend on leisure items to Oxfam will prevent a If tremendous amount of death and suffering from occurring, then I ought to donate everything I would spend on leisure items to Oxfam. everything Donating everything I would spend on leisure items to Oxfam will prevent a tremendous Donating amount of death and suffering from occurring. amount Therefore, I ought to donate everything I would spend on leisure items to Oxfam. 1,2 MP Singer’s Strong Argument 1. 2. 3. Singer’s Weak Argument 1. 2. 3. Obligations to Those in Desperate Need Singer does not argue merely that it would be a good thing for Singer each of us to donate. (No one would disagree with that.) He argues that we morally ought to do so; or, in other words, it morally would be morally wrong not to do so. morally An action, A, is morally supererogatory if and only if An morally (1) (2) (3) Performing A is morally permissible, Performing A would have better consequences than not performing A, Performing and and It would not be morally wrong not to perform A. The ordinary phrase for a morally supererogatory action is The “act of charity”. “act Singer’s argument has no implications for a world in which Singer’s no there is no suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care. medical So, if all of these evils were eradicated, Singer’s argument would not So, have the conclusion that we are morally obliged to give to those with less. less. Obligations to Non-Human Animals Singer believes that the time has come for a Singer new kind of “liberation movement”. new The principle of equality that Singer argues should be extended The to non-human animals is equality of consideration. to The equality that people usually claim for all human beings, The regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc., cannot be based on some actual biological or physical equality. based If it were, we would have to accept that if one race were biologically If and physically superior it would be morally justified to discriminate based on race. Obligations to Non-Human Animals The No Physical Basis Argument 1. 2. 3. If moral equality is based on physical equality, then if If one race were physically superior to another, then it would be morally permissible to discriminate against the physically inferior race. physically It is not the case that if one race were physically It superior to another, then it would be morally permissible to discriminate against the physically inferior race. to Therefore, it is not the case that moral equality is based Therefore, on physical equality. 1,2 MT 1,2 Obligations to Non-Human Animals Justification for premise 1: If the moral equality did depend Justification on physical equality, then it would have to be the case that if different races were not physically equal, then there would not be moral equality between those races and so premise 1 would be true. premise Justification for premise 2: Moral Intuition. It doesn’t seem Justification true that if some race was physically (or intellectually, etc.) superior to another race that would mean that moral discrimination against the physically inferior race would be morally permissible. morally Obligations to Non-Human Animals “[I]t would be dangerous to rest the case against racism and [I]t sexism on the belief that all significant differences are environmental in origin. The opponent of, say, racism who takes this line will be unable to avoid conceding that if differences in ability did after all prove to have some genetic connection with race, racism would in some way be defensible. It would be folly for the opponent of racism to stake his whole case on a dogmatic commitment to one particular outcome of a difficult scientific issue which is still a long way from being settled.” settled.” “There is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a There factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to satisfying their needs and interests. The principle of equality of human beings is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we should treat humans.” humans: Obligations to Non-Human Animals The Principle of Equal Consideration The interests of A do not count, morally, for more than The similar interests of B in determining how we should act. similar Singer notes that though the very principle of equality Singer that many contemporary philosophers advocate as being a basic moral principle applies to members of species other than our own, many such philosophers don’t seem to recognize it. don’t Obligations to Non-Human Animals Bentham, Singer notes, did not fail to recognize it: The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those The rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally sufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? reason nor, talk but, suffer Obligations to Non-Human Animals The Principle of Equal Consideration is a principle about the The interests of beings and how they should count in our calculations about what to do. calculations No being’s interests should count for more than another being’s No similar interests. similar What it is to have interests? That is a difficult question, but being able to suffer pain and to That enjoy things is enough to have some interests. enjoy “The capacity for suffering and enjoying things is a prerequisite for The having interests at all.” having Obligations to Non-Human Animals The reason why a dog has interests The and a stone does not: and Nothing one can do to a stone can make Nothing it’s “life” go badly because it cannot suffer. it’s But there are many things one can do to a But dog to make its life go badly; this is because the dog can suffer, and causing it to suffer will make its life go badly. to Obligations to Non-Human Animals “If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for If refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering…of any other being. If a being is not capable of suffering, or of experiencing enjoyment or happiness, there is nothing to be taken into account. This is why the limit of sentience is the only defensible boundary of concern for the interests of others. To mark this boundary by some other characteristic like intelligence or rationality would be to mark it in an arbitrary way. Why not choose some other characteristic, like skin color?” choose Obligations to Non-Human Animals The racist gives greater weight to the interests of The racist members of her race in determining what to do. members The speciesist gives greater weight to the interests of The speciesist members of her species in determining what to do. members Singer claims that the racist and the speciesist Singer equally violate the principle of equal consideration. equally Obligations to Non-Human Animals Singer asserts that most human beings are Singer speciesists. And, he claims, a number of our practices show this. practices The food industry: “For the great majority of human beings, especially in urban industrialized For societies, the most direct form of contact with members of other species is at mealtimes: we eat them. In doing so we treat them purely as means to our ends. We regard their life and well-being as subordinate to our taste for a particular kind of dish. I say “taste” deliberately--this is purely a matter of pleasing our palate. There can be no defense of eating flesh in terms of satisfying nutritional needs, since it has been established beyond doubt that we could satisfy our need for protein and other essential nutrients far more efficiently with a diet that replaced animal flesh by soy beans, or products derived from soy beans, and other high-protein vegetable products.” derived Obligations to Non-Human Animals “It is not merely the act of killing that indicates what we are ready to do It to other species in order to gratify our tastes. The suffering we inflict on the animals while they are alive is perhaps an even clearer indication of our speciesism than the fact that we are prepared to kill them. In order to have meat on the table at a price that people can afford, our society tolerates methods of meat production that confine sentient animals in cramped, unsuitable conditions for the entire duration of their lives. Animals are treated like machines that convert fodder into flesh, and any innovation that results in a higher “conversion ratio” is liable to be adopted. As one authority on the subject has said, “cruelty is acknowledged only when profitability ceases.” acknowledged “[O]ur practice of rearing and killing other animals in order to eat them [O]ur is a clear instance of the sacrifice of the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial interests of our own. To avoid speciesism we must stop this practice, and each of us has a moral obligation to cease supporting this practice. Our custom is all the support that the meat-industry needs. The decision to cease giving it that support may be difficult, but it is no more difficult than it would have been for a white Southerner to go against the traditions of his society and free his slaves: if we do not change our dietary habits, how can we censure those slaveholders who would not change their own way of living?” living?” Obligations to Non-Human Animals Another common practice betrays the fact that we are Another speciesists: speciesists: Biomedical research Some people try to appeal to an idea of a distinctive human Some dignity, that other non-human animals fail to possess in order to justify our restricting the principle of equal consideration only to members of our own species. But what could this dignity consist in? dignity “Philosophers frequently introduce ideas of dignity, respect, and worth at Philosophers the point at which their reasons appear to be lacking, but this is hardly good enough. Fine phrases are the last resource of those who have run out of arguments.” out Obligations to Non-Human Animals Again, you might try to find some characteristic of Again, human beings that grounds the restriction of the principle of equal consideration only to human beings. beings. But for any human characteristic you try to base But restricting the principle of equal consideration on there will be humans who lack that characteristic. there Obligations to Non-Human Animals 1. Argument Against The Capacity to Reason As A Argument Justification for Restricting the Principle Justification If the capacity to reason is a justification for restricting If the principle of equal consideration, then it is permissible to raise human imbeciles for food and scientific experimentation. scientific It is not the case that it is permissible to raise human It imbeciles for food and scientific experimentation. imbeciles Therefore, it is not the case that the capacity to reason Therefore, is a justification for restricting the principle of equal consideration. consideration. 1,2 MT 1,2 2. 3. Obligations to Non-Human Animals Justification for Premise 1: Human imbeciles do not Justification have the capacity to reason. In fact, their cognitive capacities fall well short of those of many “higher” noncapacities human animals. So if reason were a justification for human restricting the principle of equal consideration, it should be permissible to treat human imbeciles in the same ways in which we treat non-human animals, i.e., raise them for food and experiment on them. them Justification for Premise 2: It just seems obvious that it Justification is not permissible to do these things to human beings, even if they are imbeciles. Obligations to Non-Human Animals Singer argues that a similar argument Singer could be run for any plausible candidate characteristic of human beings that one might try to offer to justify restricting the principle of equal consideration. principle Morality of Warfare “War and Massacre” was written in 1971. The Vietnam War lasted from 1961 to 1973. “Even when restrictions on the conduct of warfare are Even defended, it is usually on legal grounds alone: their moral basis is often poorly understood. I wish to argue that certain restrictions are neither arbitrary nor merely conventional, and that their validity does not depend simply on their usefulness. There is, in other words, a moral basis for the rules of war, even though the conventions now officially in force are far from giving it perfect expression.” from Morality of Warfare Nagel’s interest is the moral rules governing the Nagel’s conduct of war in the service of a morally just cause. He is interested only in the moral rules governing the He prosecution of a morally permissible war (a war that it is morally permissible to engage in) and the actions of soldiers who are engaged in acts which serve to bring such a morally permissible war to a favorable conclusion. conclusion. Morality of Warfare “No elaborate moral theory is required to account for No what is wrong in cases like the Mylai massacre, since it did not serve, and was not intended to serve, any strategic purpose. Moreover, if the participation of the United States in the Indo-Chinese war is entirely wrong to begin with, then that engagement is incapable of providing a justification for any measures any taken in its pursuit--not only for the measures which are atrocities in every war, however just its aims.” are Morality of Warfare Nagel does not address the question what makes a morally Nagel not permissible war permissible. permissible That is the province of “just war theory” But he does note that if a war is not morally permissible, then But any action taken in prosecuting that war cannot be morally justified (I.e., rendered morally permissible) by the reason that the war is morally permissible to engage in. the So if the Vietnam war was not itself a morally permissible war, So then no action taken in its pursuit is made morally permissible in virtue of its utility to the prosecution of that war. virtue Morality of Warfare Also, even if one is engaged in a morally permissible Also, war, if an act does not serve the purpose of the war, then that action is not morally permissible in virtue of its being performed in that war. its Thus, even if the Vietnam War was morally permissible, as Thus, the Mylai massacre did not serve the purpose of the war, it is not morally permissible because it was performed during that war. that Morality of Warfare An act of war, then, is morally permissible only if it is An performed in the service of a morally permissible war. performed But not every act of war performed in the service of a But morally permissible act is itself morally permissible. morally So, Nagel is interested in the question: What moral restrictions are there in the prosecution of even What a morally permissible war? morally Morality of Warfare The central issue: “I propose to discuss the most general moral problem raised propose by the conduct of warfare: the problem of means and ends. In one view, there are limits on what may be done even in the service of an end-worth pursuing--and even when adherence to the restriction may be very costly. A person who acknowledges the force of such restrictions can find himself in acute moral dilemmas. He may believe, for example, that by torturing a prisoner he can obtain information necessary to prevent a disaster, or that by obliterating one village with bombs he can halt a campaign of terrorism.” bombs Morality of Warfare Nagel argues that it is sometimes morally Nagel impermissible to employ certain methods to achieve morally desirable ends even in a morally permissible war. morally Nagel does not argue for pacifism. Nagel not Pacifism is the doctrine according to which one may not kill another person under any circumstances, no matter what good would be achieved or evil averted thereby. achieved Morality of Warfare Though Nagel does not think that pacifism is Though correct he does think that “there are other views according to which violence may be undertaken, even on a large scale, in a clearly just cause, so long as certain absolute restrictions on the character and direction of that violence are observed. The line is drawn somewhat closer to the bone, but it exists.” Morality of Warfare “There seems to be a perfectly natural conception of the There distinction between fighting clean and fighting dirty. To fight dirty is to direct one’s hostility or aggression not at its proper object, but at a peripheral target which may be more vulnerable, and through which the proper object can be attacked indirectly. This applies in a fist fight, an election campaign, a duel, or a philosophical argument. If the concept is general enough to apply to all these matters, it should apply to war--both to the conduct of individual soldiers and to the conduct of nations.” individual Morality of Warfare Nagel’s principle: The Fair Fight Principle (FFP): An act of war, A, is morally permissible if and only if: (1) A is performed in the service of a morally is permissible war, and permissible (2) A is directed both at the hostile forces with which is one is engaged and at those features of those hostile forces which make them hostile to us. hostile Nagel thus argues that FFP is an instance of a general Nagel principle that holds for all kinds of fights between hostile parties, not just in the case of war. parties, Morality of Warfare “Suppose that you are a candidate for public office, convinced that the Suppose election of your opponent would be a disaster, that he is an unscrupulous demagogue who will serve a narrow range of interests and seriously infringe the rights of those who disagree with him; and suppose you are convinced that you cannot defeat him by conventional means. Now imagine that various unconventional means present themselves as possibilities: you possess information about his sex life which would scandalize the electorate if made public; or you learn that his wife is an alcoholic or that in his youth he was associated for a brief period with a proscribed political party, and you believe the information could be used to blackmail him into withdrawing his candidacy; or you can have a team of your supporters flatten the tyres of a crucial subset of his supporters on election day; or you are in a position to stuff the ballot boxes; or, more simply, you can have him assassinated. What is wrong with these methods, given that they will achieve an overwhelmingly desirable result?” overwhelmingly Morality of Warfare “There are, of course, many things wrong with them: some are against the law; There some infringe procedures of an electoral process to which you are committed by taking part in it; very importantly, some may backfire, and it is in the interest of all political candidates to adhere to an unspoken agreement not to allow certain personal matters to indrude into a campaign. But that is not all. We have in addition the feeling that these measures, these methods of attack, are irrelevant irrelevant to the issue between you and your opponent, that in taking them up you would not be directing yourself to that which makes him an object of your opposition. You would be directing your attack not at the true target of your hostility, but at peripheral targets that happen to be vulnerable. peripheral The same is true of a fight or argument outside the framework of any system of The regulations or law. In an altercation with a taxi driver over an excessive fare, it is inappropriate to taunt him about his accent, flatten one of his tyres, or smear chewing-gum on his windshield; and it remains inappropriate even if he casts aspersions on your race, politics, or religion, or dumps the contents of your suitcase into the street.” suitcase Morality of Warfare FFP places restrictions on: (1) (2) who we may morally permissibly attack in war, and how we may morally permissibly attack those that we can morally permissibly attack we According to FFP, “hostility or aggression should be According directed at its true object. This means both that it should be directed at the person or persons who provoke it and that it should aim more specifically at what is provocative about them. The second condition will determine what form the hostility may appropriately take.” Morality of Warfare According to FFP an act of war is morally permissible According only if it is directed at the hostile forces with which one is engaged. engaged. Here the distinction between combatants and non-combatants is Here crucial. This distinction is to be drawn based on the harmfulness and the immediacy of the threat that a person poses. and The dividing line between combatants and noncombatants is not a sharp one--there are tough cases-but “it is not so difficult as is often supposed to place but individuals on one side of it or another.” individuals Morality of Warfare “Children are not combatants even though they may join the armed forces if Children they are allowed to grow up. Women are not combatants just because they bear children or offer comfort to the soldiers. More problematic are the supporting personnel, whether in or out of uniform, from drivers of munitions trucks and army cooks to civilian munitions workers and farmers. I believe they can be plausibly classified by applying the condition that the prosecution of conflict must direct itself to the cause of danger, and not to what is peripheral. The threat presented by an army and its members does not consist merely in the fact that they are men, but in the fact that they are armed and are using their arms in the pursuit of certain objectives. Contributions to their arms and logistics are contributions to this threat; contributions to their mere existence as men are not. It is therefore wrong to direct an attack against those who merely serve the combatants’ needs as human beings, such as farmers and food suppliers, even though survival as a human being is a necessary condition of efficient functioning as a soldier.” human Morality of Warfare Nagel’s Argument Against The Killing of Children in Warfare 1. 2. 3. If children do not constitute part of the threat that If an opposing country poses in a war, then it is morally impermissible to kill children in the prosecution of a war. prosecution Children do not constitute part of the threat that an Children opposing country poses in a war. opposing Therefore, it is morally impermissible to kill children Therefore, in the prosecution of a war. 1,2 MP 1,2 Morality of Warfare Justification for premise 1: If FFP is true, then in war Justification one can morally permissibly attack only things that constitute part of the threat with which one is engaged. engaged. Justification for premise 2: It seems obvious that Justification children do not constitute part of the threat that another country poses when they are engaged in a war. war. Morality of Warfare “This brings us to the second group of restrictions: those that limit what may This be done even to combatants. These limits are harder to explain clearly…but I believe that the condition of directness and relevance in hostile relations accounts for them to a considerable extent. accounts Consider first a case which involves both a protected class of noncombatants and a restriction on the measures that may be used against combatants combatants. One provision of the rules of war which is universally recognized, though it seems to be turning into a dead letter in Vietnam, is the special status of medical personnel and the wounded in warfare. It might be more efficient to shoot medical officers on sight and to let the enemy wounded die rather than be patched up to fight another day. But someone with medical insignia is supposed to be left alone and permitted to tend and retrieve the wounded. I believe this is because medical attention is a species of attention to completely general human needs, not specifically the needs of a combat soldier, and our conflict with the soldier is not with his existence as a human being.” existence Morality of Warfare “By extending the application of this idea, one can justify prohibitions By against certain particularly cruel weapons: starvation, poisoning, infectious disease (supposing they could be inflicted on combatants only), weapons designed to maim or disfigure or torture the opponent rather than merely to stop him. It is not, I think, mere casuistry to claim that such weapons attack the men, not the soldiers. The effect of dum-dum bullets, for example, is much more extended than necessary to cope with the combat situation in which they are used. They abandon any attempt to discriminate in their effects between the combatant and the human being. For this reason, the use of flame-throwers and napalm is an atrocity in all circumstances that I can imagine, whoever the target may be. Burns are both extremely painful and extremely disfiguring--far more than any other category of wound. That this well-known fact plays no (inhibiting) part in the determination of US weapons policy suggests that moral sensitivity among public officials has not increased markedly since the Spanish Inquisition.” not Morality of Warfare Nagel’s Argument Against The Use of Flame-Throwers 1. 2. 3. If using a flame-thrower on someone constitutes an If attack on him as a human being and not merely as an enemy combatant, then it is morally impermissible to use a flame-thrower on someone. impermissible Using a flame-thrower on someone constitutes an Using attack on him as a human being and not merely as an enemy combatant. an Therefore, it is morally impermissible to use a Therefore, flame-thrower on someone. 1,2 MP 1,2 Morality of Warfare Justification for premise 1: If FFP is true, then in war Justification we can only attack those aspects of enemy soldiers that makes them a threat to us. Their existence merely as human beings is not an aspect of them that makes them a threat to us. makes Justification for premise 2: It does seem, intuitively, Justification that the use of flame-thrower on someone does seem to constitute an attack on him as a human being and not merely as an enemy combatant. ...
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