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Many questions about moral and legal judgments hinge on how we understand the identity of the agents. The intractability of many of these questions stems, this book argues, from ignoring how we actually connect actions with agents. When making everyday judgments about the morality or legality of actions, we do not use Aristotelian logic but what is termed “character logic”. The difference is crucial because implicit in character logic is an understanding of personal identity that is both coherent and intuitively familiar. A person, as we conceptualize him in moral and legal contexts, is a character of resolve. By unpacking what it means to be a character of resolve, this book reveals what underwrites our most fundamental beliefs about a person’s rights and responsibilities. It also provides a new and useful perspective on a variety of issues about rights and responsibilities that perennially occupy philosophers. This book discusses the following: • How we can make better sense of “human rights” if we think of them as “personal rights”. • How the right to be civilly disobedient, in contrast with ordinary law-breaking, can be justified as a personal right. • What basis we have for holding that someone’s responsibility is diminished. • How it makes sense to hold someone responsible for acting irresponsibly. • How it makes sense to distinguish a juvenile offender from someone who should be tried in criminal court. • What kind of correction we should expect from our correctional institutions and how we should design them to achieve that. By making explicit the axioms of character logic and exploring their origins and justification, the book provides a conceptually powerful tool for interpreting the protocols of a person-respecting society.
James Beauregard, Rivier University
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226pp. ¦ $60 £45 €51
Neuroethics is a theoretical and practical discipline that considers the many ethical issues that arise in neuroscience. From its inception, the field has sought to develop an ethical vision from within the confines of science, a task that is both misguided and, in the end, impossible. Providing a solid theoretical foundation for neuroethics means looking to other sources, most specifically to philosophy. In this groundbreaking work, the author examines the current underpinnings of neuroethical thinking and finds them inadequate to the task of neuroethics – to think ethically about persons, technology and society. Grounded in the physicalist and deterministic presuppositions of contemporary science, and drawing on utilitarian thought, neuroethics as currently conceived lacks the ability to develop a robust and adequate notion of persons and of ethics. Philosophical Neuroethics examines the historical reasons for this state of affairs, for the purpose of proposing a more viable alternative – drawing on the tradition of personalism for a more adequate metaphysical, epistemological, anthropological and ethical vision of the human person and of ethics that can serve as a solid foundation for the theory and practice of neuroethical decision making as it touches on the neurologic and psychiatric care of individuals, our philosophy of technology and the social implications of neuroscience that touch on public policy, neurotechnology, the justice system and the military. Drawing on the personalist philosophical tradition that emerged in the twentieth century in the works of Mounier, Maritain, Guardini, Wojtyla, and the Modern Ontological Personalism of Juan Manuel Burgos, Philosophical Neuroethics brings to light the limitations of contemporary neuroethical thinking and sets forth a comprehensive vision of the human person capable of interacting with the contemporary questions raised by neuroscience and technology.
Explorations in Moral Metaphysics
J. Edward Hackett, Savannah State University
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250pp. ¦ $61 £44 €49
This book brings together the author’s overall research trajectory of the last five years of his life and the questions he has been asking himself: What is the person? And, what are values? In answering the latter question, Hackett arrived at an answer within the boundaries of Max Scheler, the German phenomenologist, but consequently started to explore the depths of which Scheler’s value ontology was predicated on certain assumptions about the person. From these questions, Hackett started to draw upon philosophical approaches that thematize experience—pragmatism and phenomenology. Rooted in the philosophical contributions of Scheler and the American philosopher, William James, this book guides the reader through a fascinating exploration of these philosophical approaches in relation to the person and values. Through thematizing experience, this book reveals that the ontology of value for Scheler resides not only in a person’s intentionality but also in the being-of-an-act. As such, this book argues that the deficit of an ontology of value in Scheler rests on interpreting his affective intentionality in much the same way that Heidegger employed phenomenology to discern the ontological care structure of Dasein. In other words, for Scheler, the ontology of value rests on the manner in which values were realized by a person’s intentionality. Moreover, this book goes further to reveal that the intentional act life is the source of participation and can be understood as a process-based account of value, otherwise known as account participatory realism. Importantly, within participatory realism Hackett addresses how values have their origin in the process of intentionality since intentionality is generative of meaning. As an important contribution to the field of moral metaphysics, Hackett’s critical reflection on the person and values provides a stimulating insight into some of the key debates surrounding pragmatism and phenomenology that will be of great interest to both experienced scholars and researchers, alike.
Essays in Honor of Thomas O. Buford
James M. McLachlan, Western Carolina University
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290pp. ¦ $65 £57 €60
The papers presented in this volume honor Thomas O. Buford. Buford is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at Furman University where he taught for more than forty years. Several of the papers in this volume are from former students. But Professor Buford is also a pre-eminent voice of fourth generation Personalism, and Boston Personalism in particular. Personalism is a school of philosophical and theological thought which holds that the ideas of “person” and “personality” are indispensable to an adequate understanding of all metaphysical and epistemological problems, as well as are keys to an adequate theory of ethical and political human interaction. Most personalists assert that personality is an irreducible fact found in all existence, as well as in all interpretation of the meaning of existence and the truth about experience. Anything that seems to exist impersonally, such as inanimate matter, nevertheless can exist and have meaning only as related to some personal being. The Boston Personalist tradition was inaugurated by Borden Parker Bowne and continued by Edgar S. Brightman, Peter Bertocci, John Lavely, Carol Robb, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
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235pp. ¦ $60 £50 €57
Every kind of exploration is touched in some way by a philosophy of persons; touched and often vitally enhanced. This collection sets out to mine this rich seam of influence, bringing together authors keen to strike new developments and applications. Together, they have put their philosophy of persons to work in fields as wide-ranging as the moral and the metaphysical, the practical and the political, the cultural and the cosmological. In doing so, they have drawn on and illustrated the depth and breadth of modern Personalist thought, demonstrating its crucial relevance to debates across the entire philosophical spectrum. Whether they are familiar with the Personalist tradition or no, readers from every corner of the philosophical world will find much here to challenge and stimulate them. Most importantly, they will find a new and badly needed philosophical perspective.