Actual Ethics by James R. Otteson

By James R. Otteson

A protection of the 'classical liberal' political culture, utilized to ultra-modern ethical and political matters.

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If you are allowed to decide for yourself how to use your credit card, but then, when you have run the balance up to its limit, someone else pays the bill, you will not be developing your judgment. If you never clean up your messes or dress appropriately or open the door for another when you should, but no one ever calls you on it, then, well, so what? What difference will it make to me that I am imprudent, inconsiderate, rude, or selfish, if those I care about do not require me to change? If no one embarrasses me by pointing out my bad behavior, if no one shuns or avoids me, if no one chastizes me, if no one cuts my gravy train off, then I have little or no incentive to change; and being naturally lazy, as most of us are to some extent or other, chances are I won’t change if I don’t have to.

That certainly fits better with our everyday notion of causation, and I believe it will capture our considered judgments in the majority of cases. ” For an excellent discussion of competing causal theories at work in legal matters, including detailed defenses of the view I am about to reject, see Hart and Honor´e’s Causation in the Law. I thank James Taylor for helpful discussion here. Depending on the case, there may be other factors necessary as well, such as deliberate intention. ” See again Hart and Honor´e; for a shorter introduction to the issues, see Honor´e’s article “Causation in the Law” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

And all of this takes place without a “power to keep them all in awe” forcing them to be courteous, loving, and respectful of one another on pain of punishment or death. To focus on one particularly prominent example: no one, I believe, who has had children, or been around those who have them, can doubt the genuine sacrifices that parents routinely and regularly make for their children. 16 Such explanations are based on the implausible narrowly self-interested conception of human motivation that I mentioned earlier.

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