Less Blame, Less Crime? The Practical Implications of Moral Responsibility Skepticism
Journal of Practical Ethics 3(2): 1-17
Most philosophers believe that wrongdoers sometimes deserve to be punished by long prison sentences. They also believe that such punishments are justified by their consequences: they deter crime and incapacitate potential offenders. In this article, I argue that both these claims are false. No one deserves to be punished, I argue, because our actions are shot through with direct or indirect luck. I also argue that there are good reasons to think that punishing fewer people and much less harshly will have better social consequences, at a reduced overall cost, then the long prison sentences that are usually seen as required for social protection.
Common Morality, Human Rights, and Multiculturalism in Japanese and American Bioethics
Journal of Practical Ethics 3(2): 18-35
To address some questions in global biomedical ethics, three problems about cultural moral differences and alleged differences in Eastern and Western cultures are addressed: The first is whether the East has fundamentally different moral traditions from those in the West. Concentrating on Japan and the United States, it is argued that theses of profound and fundamental East-West differences are dubious because of many forms of shared morality. The second is whether human rights theory is a Western invention with no firm traditions in Eastern moral traditions. It is argued that this thesis is unsupported both historically and in contemporary bioethics. The third problem is whether multiculturalist theory casts doubt on claims of universal principles and rights. It is argued that the reverse is true: multiculturalism is a universalistic theory. The argument throughout supports common morality theory.
Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics Winning Essays
Journal of Practical Ethics 3(2): 36-36
In this special two- part series for the Journal of Practical Ethics, we present the winning essays from the 2014-15 Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics.
Should we Prohibit Breast Implants? Collective Moral Obligations in the Context of Harmful and Discriminatory Social Norms (Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Graduate)
Journal of Practical Ethics 3(2): 37-60
In liberal moral theory, interfering with someone’s deliberate engagement in a self-harming practice in order to promote their own good is often considered wrongfully paternalistic. But what if self-harming decisions are the product of an oppressive social context that imposes harmful norms on certain individuals, such as, arguably, in the case of cosmetic breast surgery? Clare Chambers suggests that such scenarios can mandate state interference in the form of prohibition. I argue that, unlike conventional measures, Chambers’ proposal recognises that harmful, discriminatory norms entail a twofold collective moral obligation: to eliminate the harmful norm in the long run, but also to address unjust harm that is inflicted in the meantime. I show that these two obligations tend to pull in opposite directions, thus generating a serious tension in Chambers’ proposal which eventually leads to an undue compromising of the second obligation in favour of the first. Based on this discussion, I develop an alternative proposal which, instead of prohibiting breast implant surgery, offers compensation for the disadvantages suffered by individuals who decide not to have surgery.
How Should Vegans Live? (Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Undergraduate)
Journal of Practical Ethics 3(2): 61-65
In this essay, I look at the significant portion of vegans who are vegan because they care about harm to animals. I investigate what lifestyle is in fact consistent with caring about harm to animals, which I begin by calling consistent veganism. I argue that the lifestyle that consistently follows from this underlying conviction behind many people’s veganism is in fact distinct from a vegan lifestyle.