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Ethics and Morality

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Edited by Walead Beshty

The boundary of a contemporary art object or project is no longer something that exists only in physical space; it also exists in social, political, and ethical space. Art has opened up to transnational networks of producers and audiences, migrating into the sphere of social and distributive systems, whether in the form of “relational aesthetics” or other critical reinventions of practice. Art has thus become increasingly implicated in questions of ethics.

In this volume, artist and writer Walead Beshty evaluates the relation of ethics to aesthetics, and demonstrates how this encounter has become central to the contested space of much recent art. He brings together theoretical foundations for an ethics of aesthetics; appraisals of art that engages with ethical issues; statements and examples of methodologies adopted by a diverse range of artists; and examinations of artworks that question the ethical conditions in which contemporary art is produced and experienced.

Artists surveyed include
Tania Bruguera, Christoph Büchel, Paul Chan, Lygia Clark, Danh Vo, Dexter Sinister, Andrea Fraser, Liam Gillick, David Hammons, Thomas Hirschhorn, Khaled Hourani, Sharon Lockhart, Kerry James Marshall, Renzo Martens, Boris Mikhailov, Hélio Oiticica, Seth Price, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, Tino Sehgal, Allan Sekula, Santiago Sierra, Rirkrit Tiravanija

Writers include
Giorgio Agamben, Ariella Azoulay, Alain Badiou, Roland Barthes, David Beech, Claire Bishop, Nicolas Bourriaud, Simon Critchley, T.J. Demos, Maurizio Lazzarato, Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Rancière, Jan Verwoert

A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Over the past decade, an explosion of empirical research in a variety of fields has allowed us to understand human moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms shaped through evolution, development, and culture. Evolutionary biologists have shown that moral cognition evolved to aid cooperation; developmental psychologists have demonstrated that the elements that underpin morality are in place much earlier than we thought; and social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in moral decision making. This volume offers an overview of current research on the moral brain, examining the topic from disciplinary perspectives that range from anthropology and neurophilosophy to justice and law.

The contributors address the evolution of morality, considering precursors of human morality in other species as well as uniquely human adaptations. They examine motivations for morality, exploring the roles of passion, extreme sacrifice, and cooperation. They go on to consider the development of morality, from infancy to adolescence; findings on neurobiological mechanisms of moral cognition; psychopathic immorality; and the implications for justice and law of a more biological understanding of morality. These new findings may challenge our intuitions about society and justice, but they may also lead to more a humane and flexible legal system.

Contributors
Scott Atran, Abigail A. Baird, Nicolas Baumard, Sarah Brosnan, Jason M. Cowell, Molly J. Crockett, Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza, Andrew W. Delton, Mark R. Dadds, Jean Decety, Jeremy Ginges, Andrea L. Glenn, Joshua D. Greene, J. Kiley Hamlin, David J. Hawes, Jillian Jordan, Max M. Krasnow, Ayelet Lahat, Jorge Moll, Caroline Moul, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Alexander Peysakhovich, Laurent Prétôt, Jesse Prinz, David G. Rand, Rheanna J. Remmel, Emma Roellke, Regina A. Rini, Joshua Rottman, Mark Sheskin, Thalia Wheatley, Liane Young, Roland Zahn

The philosophical commitment to moral responsibility seems unshakable. But, argues Bruce Waller, the philosophical belief in moral responsibility is much stronger than the philosophical arguments in favor of it. Philosophers have tried to make sense of moral responsibility for centuries, with mixed results. Most contemporary philosophers insist that even conclusive proof of determinism would not and should not result in doubts about moral responsibility. Many embrace compatibilist views, and propose an amazing variety of competing compatibilist arguments for saving moral responsibility. In this provocative book, Waller examines the stubborn philosophical belief in moral responsibility, surveying the philosophical arguments for it but focusing on the system that supports these arguments: powerful social and psychological factors that hold the belief in moral responsibility firmly in place.

Waller argues that belief in moral responsibility is not isolated but rather is a central element of a larger belief system; doubting or rejecting moral responsibility will involve major adjustments elsewhere in a wide range of beliefs and values. Belief in moral responsibility is one strand of a complex and closely woven fabric of belief, comprising threads from biology, psychology, social institutions, criminal justice, religion, and philosophy. These dense interconnections, Waller contends, make it very difficult to challenge the belief in moral responsibility at the center. They not only influence the philosophical arguments in favor of moral responsibility but also add powerful extraphilosophical support for it.

Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap

Fresh from a party, a teen posts a photo on Facebook of a friend drinking a beer. A college student repurposes an article from Wikipedia for a paper. A group of players in a multiplayer online game routinely cheat new players by selling them worthless virtual accessories for high prices. In Disconnected, Carrie James examines how young people and the adults in their lives think about these sorts of online dilemmas, describing ethical blind spots and disconnects.

Drawing on extensive interviews with young people between the ages of 10 and 25, James describes the nature of their thinking about privacy, property, and participation online. She identifies three ways that young people approach online activities. A teen might practice self-focused thinking, concerned mostly about consequences for herself; moral thinking, concerned about the consequences for people he knows; or ethical thinking, concerned about unknown individuals and larger communities. James finds, among other things, that youth are often blind to moral or ethical concerns about privacy; that attitudes toward property range from “what’s theirs is theirs” to “free for all”; that hostile speech can be met with a belief that online content is “just a joke”; and that adults who are consulted about such dilemmas often emphasize personal safety issues over online ethics and citizenship.

Considering ways to address the digital ethics gap, James offers a vision of conscientious connectivity, which involves ethical thinking skills but, perhaps more important, is marked by sensitivity to the dilemmas posed by online life, a motivation to wrestle with them, and a sense of moral agency that supports socially positive online actions.

Psychopathy and Moral Incapacity
Edited by Thomas Schramme

Psychopathy has been the subject of investigations in both philosophy and psychiatry and yet the conceptual issues remain largely unresolved. This volume approaches psychopathy by considering the question of what psychopaths lack. The contributors investigate specific moral dysfunctions or deficits, shedding light on the capacities people need to be moral by examining cases of real people who seem to lack those capacities.

The volume proceeds from the basic assumption that psychopathy is not characterized by a single deficit--for example, the lack of empathy, as some philosophers have proposed—but by a range of them. Thus contributors address specific deficits that include impairments in rationality, language, fellow-feeling, volition, evaluation, and sympathy. They also consider such issues in moral psychology as moral motivation, moral emotions, and moral character; and they examine social aspects of psychopathic behavior, including ascriptions of moral responsibility, justification of moral blame, and social and legal responses to people perceived to be dangerous.

As this volume demonstrates, philosophers will be better equipped to determine what they mean by “the moral point of view” when they connect debates in moral philosophy to the psychiatric notion of psychopathy, which provides some guidance on what humans need in order be able to feel the normative pull of morality. And the empirical work done by psychiatrists and researchers in psychopathy can benefit from the conceptual clarifications offered by philosophy.

Contributors
Gwen Adshead, Piers Benn, John Deigh, Alan Felthous, Kerrin Jacobs, Heidi Maibom, Eric Matthews, Henning Sass, Thomas Schramme, Susie Scott, David Shoemaker, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Matthew Talbert

All games express and embody human values, providing a compelling arena in which we play out beliefs and ideas. “Big ideas” such as justice, equity, honesty, and cooperation—as well as other kinds of ideas, including violence, exploitation, and greed—may emerge in games whether designers intend them or not. In this book, Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum present Values at Play, a theoretical and practical framework for identifying socially recognized moral and political values in digital games. Values at Play can also serve as a guide to designers who seek to implement values in the conception and design of their games.

After developing a theoretical foundation for their proposal, Flanagan and Nissenbaum provide detailed examinations of selected games, demonstrating the many ways in which values are embedded in them. They introduce the Values at Play heuristic, a systematic approach for incorporating values into the game design process. Interspersed among the book’s chapters are texts by designers who have put Values at Play into practice by accepting values as a design constraint like any other, offering a real-world perspective on the design challenges involved.

Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Traditional philosophers approached the issues of free will and moral responsibility through conceptual analysis that seldom incorporated findings from empirical science. In recent decades, however, striking developments in psychology and neuroscience have captured the attention of many moral philosophers. This volume of Moral Psychology offers essays, commentaries, and replies by leading philosophers and scientists who explain and use empirical findings from psychology and neuroscience to illuminate old and new problems regarding free will and moral responsibility.

The contributors—who include such prominent scholars as Patricia Churchland, Daniel Dennett, and Michael Gazzaniga—consider issues raised by determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism; epiphenomenalism, bypassing, and naturalism; naturalism; and rationality and situationism. These writings show that although science does not settle the issues of free will and moral responsibility, it has enlivened the field by asking novel, profound, and important questions.

Contributors
Roy F. Baumeister, Tim Bayne, Gunnar Björnsson, C. Daryl Cameron, Hanah A. Chapman, William A. Cunningham, Patricia S. Churchland, Christopher G. Coutlee, Daniel C. Dennett, Ellen E. Furlong, Michael S. Gazzaniga, Patrick Haggard, Brian Hare, Lasana T. Harris, John-Dylan Haynes, Richard Holton, Scott A. Huettel, Robert Kane, Victoria K. Lee, Neil Levy, Alfred R. Mele, Christian Miller, Erman Misirlisoy, P. Read Montague, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Eddy Nahmias, William T. Newsome, B. Keith Payne, Derk Pereboom, Adina L. Roskies, Laurie R. Santos, Timothy Schroeder, Michael N. Shadlen, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chandra Sripada, Christopher L. Suhler, Manuel Vargas, Gideon Yaffe

The New Language of Global Bioethics and Biolaw

“Human dignity” has been enshrined in international agreements and national constitutions as a fundamental human right. The World Medical Association calls on physicians to respect human dignity and to discharge their duties with dignity. And yet human dignity is a term--like love, hope, and justice--that is intuitively grasped but never clearly defined. Some ethicists and bioethicists dismiss it; other thinkers point to its use in the service of particular ideologies. In this book, Michael Barilan offers an urgently needed, nonideological, and thorough conceptual clarification of human dignity and human rights, relating these ideas to current issues in ethics, law, and bioethics.

Combining social history, history of ideas, moral theology, applied ethics, and political theory, Barilan tells the story of human dignity as a background moral ethos to human rights. After setting the problem in its scholarly context, he offers a hermeneutics of the formative texts on Imago Dei; provides a philosophical explication of the value of human dignity and of vulnerability; presents a comprehensive theory of human rights from a natural, humanist perspective; explores issues of moral status; and examines the value of responsibility as a link between virtue ethics and human dignity and rights.

Barilan accompanies his theoretical claim with numerous practical illustrations, linking his theory to such issues in bioethics as end-of-life care, cloning, abortion, torture, treatment of the mentally incapacitated, the right to health care, the human organ market, disability and notions of difference, and privacy, highlighting many relevant legal aspects in constitutional and humanitarian law.

The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics

Robots today serve in many roles, from entertainer to educator to executioner. As robotics technology advances, ethical concerns become more pressing: Should robots be programmed to follow a code of ethics, if this is even possible? Are there risks in forming emotional bonds with robots? How might society--and ethics--change with robotics? This volume is the first book to bring together prominent scholars and experts from both science and the humanities to explore these and other questions in this emerging field.
Starting with an overview of the issues and relevant ethical theories, the topics flow naturally from the possibility of programming robot ethics to the ethical use of military robots in war to legal and policy questions, including liability and privacy concerns. The contributors then turn to human-robot emotional relationships, examining the ethical implications of robots as sexual partners, caregivers, and servants. Finally, they explore the possibility that robots, whether biological-computational hybrids or pure machines, should be given rights or moral consideration.
Ethics is often slow to catch up with technological developments. This authoritative and accessible volume fills a gap in both scholarly literature and policy discussion, offering an impressive collection of expert analyses of the most crucial topics in this increasingly important field.

The Ethical Debate

In contemporary Western society, people are more often called upon to justify the choice not to have children than they are to supply reasons for having them. In this book, Christine Overall maintains that the burden of proof should be reversed: that the choice to have children calls for more careful justification and reasoning than the choice not to. Arguing that the choice to have children is not just a prudential or pragmatic decision but one with ethical repercussions, Overall offers a wide-ranging exploration of how we might think systematically and deeply about this fundamental aspect of human life. Writing from a feminist perspective, she also acknowledges the inevitably gendered nature of the decision; the choice has different meanings, implications, and risks for women than it has for men.

After considering a series of ethical approaches to procreation, and finding them inadequate or incomplete, Overall offers instead a novel argument. Exploring the nature of the biological parent-child relationship—which is not only genetic but also psychological, physical, intellectual, and moral—she argues that the formation of that relationship is the best possible reason for choosing to have a child.

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