A Journal of Philosophy, Applied to the Real World

Current Issue:
Volume 1 Number 2. December 2013


Editorial: Introducing the Journal of Practical Ethics’ Podcast Series
Journal of Practical Ethics 1(2): 1-2
We are pleased to present the second issue of the Journal of Practical Ethics, presenting arguments on three important practical matters: education, health, and the judging of others
The Morality of Reputation and the Judgment of Others
Journal of Practical Ethics 1(2): 3-33
There is a tension between the reasonable desire not to be judgmental of other people’s behaviour or character, and the moral necessity of making negative judgments in some cases. I sketch a way in which we might accommodate both, via an evaluation of the good of reputation and the ethics of judgment of other people’s character and behaviour. I argue that a good reputation is a highly valuable good for its bearer, akin to a property right, and not to be damaged without serious reason deriving from the demands of justice and the common welfare. Rash judgment wrongfully damages reputation and is sometimes a seriously immoral act. Rashness is not merely about lack of evidence, but involves lack of charity and is to be avoided even in some cases where the evidence of bad character or action is epistemically sufficient for judgment. I argue that the desirability of a good name for its holder, whether the reputation is deserved or not, means that in all but a relatively narrow range of cases it is always wrong to think badly of someone, even if they are bad.
Moral Education in the Liberal State
Journal of Practical Ethics 1(2): 34-63
I argue that political liberals should not support the monopoly of a single educational approach in state sponsored schools. Instead, they should allow reasonable citizens latitude to choose the worldview in which their own children are educated. I begin by defending a particular conception of political liberalism, and its associated requirement of public reason, against the received interpretation. I argue that the values of respect and civic friendship that motivate the public reason requirement do not support the common demand that citizens “bracket” their comprehensive commitments in politics. Rather, citizens should seek to enact policies the justification of which is compatible with the truth of their fellow reasonable citizens’ worldviews. Next I argue that no single educational approach can meet this standard of justification. Many believe that state sponsored education in a pluralist, liberal society ought to present multiple worldviews in a neutral way. I argue that this aspiration is unrealizable, and no other educational model will plausibly meet the justificatory demand. Finally, I address two objections to my favored alternative: that it may allow for the inculcation of disrespect, and that it violates children’s autonomy. Against the first, I claim that political liberals have no grounds for thinking that reasonable citizens will seek to inculcate disrespect. Finally, I argue that there is no conception of autonomy that can sustain the second.
Motives and Markets in Health Care
Journal of Practical Ethics 1(2): 64-84
The truth about health care policy lies between two exaggerated views: a market view in which individuals purchase their own health care from profit maximizing health-care firms and a control view in which costs are controlled by regulations limiting which treatments health insurance will pay for. This essay suggests a way to avoid on the one hand the suffering, unfairness, and abandonment of solidarity entailed by the market view and, on the other hand, to diminish the inflexibility and inefficiency of the control view. It suggests that the way to mitigate these problems is to recognize the malleability of motivation and the range of factors, in addition to financial incentives, that may influence the behavior of patients and especially physicians.