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Adams, Marilyn McCord, , . Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God
1999, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Publisher’ Note: When confronted by horrendous evil, even the most pious believer may question not only life’s worth but also God’s power and goodness. A distinguished philosopher and a practicing minister, Marilyn McCord Adams has written a highly original work on a fundamental dilemma of Christian thought – how to reconcile faith in God with the evils that afflict human beings. Adams argues that much of the discussion in analytic philosophy of religion over the last forty years has offered too narrow an understanding of the problem. The ground rules accepted for the discussion have usually led philosophers to avert their gaze from the worst – horrendous – evils and their devastating impact on human lives. They have agreed to debate the issue on the basis of religion-neutral values, and have focused on morals, an approach that – Adams claims – is inadequate for formulating and solving the problem of horrendous evils. She emphasizes instead the fruitfulness of other evaluative categories such as purity and defilement, honor and shame, and aesthetics. If redirected, philosophical reflection on evil can, Adams’s book demonstrates, provide a valuable approach not only to theories of God and evil but also to pastoral care.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy of religion or atheism. It is most likely that this would serve as a secondary rather than primary reading, but would be particularly useful for students who feel that discussions of the problem of evil for theism are carried out at too high a level of abstraction to get to what is really central to the problem.

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Dissanayake, Ellen, , . Becoming Homo Aestheticus: Sources of Aesthetic Imagination in Mother-Infant Interactions
2001, Substance 30 (1/2):85.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: Along with the vital abilities to cry and to suckle, human neonates are born with remarkable capacities that predispose them for social interaction with others. For example, newborns prefer human faces and human voices to any other sight or sound (Johnson et al. 1991, 11). They can imitate face, mouth, and hand movements and respond appropriately to another person’s emotional expressions of sadness, fear, and surprise. It is perhaps less well known that at birth, infants can also estimate and anticipate intervals of time and temporal sequences (DeCasper and Carstens 1980). They can remember these temporal patterns and categorize them in both time and space, and in terms of affect and arousal (Beebe, Lachman and Jaffe 1997). By six weeks of age, these innate perceptual and cognitive abilities permit normal infants to engage in complex communicative interchanges with adult partners–the playful behavior that is commonly or colloquially called “babytalk.”

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Levenbook, Barbara Baum, , . Welfare and Harm After Death
2013, In James Stacey Taylor (ed.), The Metaphysics and Ethics of Death: New Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 188-209.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Barbara Baum Levenbook

Abstract: My aim in this essay is to defend the claim that posthumous harm is possible against an argument that assumes that an event harms a person only if it makes it the case that his or her welfare diminishes (compared to some benchmark) and further assumes that no one exists after death. This argument gets a purchase against posthumous harm only if one adds what I call Mortality-Bounded Welfare: the thesis that no events that occur after the end of one-s life can detrimentally affect one-s welfare. I accept the first two assumptions with some modification, but provide an argument to reject Mortality-Bounded Welfare. Although I use an argument form familiar in these kinds of discussions — contrast cases in a thought-experiment, one involving an undeniably living person, and one not — my defense of the thesis that the boundaries of welfare-affecting events may extend beyond the existence of the person in question is novel. My strategy is to make a case for a human condition having residual boundaries, by which I mean that it may obtain because of events that postdate a person, and then argue that it affects welfare. In the course of my argument, I provide a subsidiary argument that rights have residual boundaries. In particular, I argue that once rights vest (in existing people), they delineate not only a sphere of behavior that satisfies the rights but also a sphere of rights-violating behavior on the part of others. Unless this delineation is defeated by moral means, actual behavior on the part of others that falls within the respective spheres is right-satisfying or right-violating. The story does not change with regard to a right to performances potentially or necessarily postdating the right-holder.
Unlike some attempts to argue that posthumous harm is possible, my defense of the possibility of posthumous harm is compatible with various metaphysical positions about when a posthumous harm occurs.

I go on to demonstrate that my thought-experiment argument is free of an important objection (raised by Taylor, 2005) to two well-known attempts to defend posthumous harm on the basis of thought-experiments, Parfit-s (1984) and Feinberg-s (1984).

For the sake of completeness, I sketch a different thought-experiment argument against Mortality-Bounded Welfare. I explain why this different thought-experiment does not make use of the idea of rights with residual boundaries.

In closing, I trace a recent attempt, grounded in our agency, to argue for the possibility of posthumous harm. This attempt accepts, as mine does, the assumptions about welfare diminution and nonexistence after death and is likewise compatible with various metaphysical positions about when posthumous harm occurs. The argument in question is provided by Keller (2004) and is compatible with analyses of welfare offered by Scanlon and Raz. Although I grant its underlying assumption that agency sometimes has a posthumous extension, I argue that my defense of the possibility of posthumous harm is superior to this one by expanding on a recent criticism of its position on welfare offered by Bradley (2007).

Comment: in a value theory course
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Woollard, Fiona, , . Doing and Allowing Harm
2015, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: Fiona Woollard presents an original defence of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing, according to which doing harm seems much harder to justify than merely allowing harm. She argues that the Doctrine is best understood as a principle that protects us from harmful imposition, and offers a moderate account of our obligations to offer aid to others.

Comment: This book gives a great overview to the debate about the difference between doing and allowing harm, as well as advancing its own view. I recommend it as further reading on courses in a number of topics, including any that cover non-consequentialism and those that cover certain applied ethical topics. Woollard also co-authors the stanford encyclopedia entry on the same topic, which I also include in my reading lists.

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