A Journal of Philosophy, Applied to the Real World

Current Issue:
Volume 7 Number 3. December 2019


The Duty to Remove Statues of Wrongdoers
Journal of Practical Ethics 7(3): 1-31
This paper argues that public statues of persons typically express a positive evaluative attitude towards the subject. It also argues that states have duties to repudiate their own historical wrongdoing, and to condemn other people’s serious wrongdoing. Both duties are incompatible with retaining public statues of people who perpetrated serious rights violations. Hence, a person’s being a serious rights violator is a sufficient condition for a state’s having a duty to remove a public statue of that person. I argue that this applies no less in the case of the ‘morally ambiguous’ wrongdoer, who both accomplishes significant goods and perpetrates serious rights violations. The duty to remove a statue is a defeasible duty: like most duties, it can be defeated by lesser-evil considerations. If removing a statue would, for example, spark a violent riot that would risk unjust harm to lots of people, the duty to remove could be outweighed by the duty not to foreseeably cause unjust harm. This would provide a lesser-evil justification for keeping the statue. But it matters that the duty to remove is outweighed, rather than negated, by these consequences. Unlike when a duty is negated, one still owes something in cases of outweighing. And it especially matters that it is outweighed by the predicted consequences of wrongful behaviour by others.
Kidney Sales and the Burden of Proof
Journal of Practical Ethics 7(3): 32-53
The Ethics of Transplants outlines a novel framework for moral inquiry in practical contexts and applies it to the topic of paid living kidney donation. In doing so, Radcliffe Richards makes two key claims: that opponents of organ markets bear the burden of proof, and that this burden has not yet been satisfied. This paper raises four related objections to Radcliffe Richards’ methodological framework, focusing largely on how Radcliffe Richards uses this framework in her discussion of kidney sales. We conclude that Radcliffe Richards’ method of inquiry hinders our ability to answer the very question that it ought to help us resolve: What is there best reason to do, all things considered?
Not a Defence of Organ Markets
Journal of Practical Ethics 7(3): 54-66
Selgelid and Koplin’s article ‘Kidney Sales and the Burden of Proof’ (K&S 2019) presents a series of detailed and persuasive arguments, intended to demolish my own arguments against the prohibition of organ selling. And perhaps they might succeed, if the case described by the authors were the one I actually make. However, notwithstanding the extensive quotations and the detailed explanations of the way I supposedly argue, this account of my position comprehensively mistakes both the conclusions I reach and the arguments I give for them.