Abell, Catharine, and . Art: What It Is and Why It Matters

2012, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85: 671–91

Content: The first three sections of this paper offer a very useful overview of modern definitions of art. Most major types of definitions are introduced and explained in a succinct way, followed by a discussion of selected objections they face. First, Abell introduces functionalism and discusses its problems with extensional adequacy. Second, procedural theories including Dickie’s institutional and Levinson’s historical definitions are discussed, and criticized for their circularity and inability to account for art’s value. Next, Abell considers two mixed theories, formulated by Robert Stecker and David Davies. She shows how they can overcome the difficulties discussed above, but run into their own problems. Finally, Berys Gaut’s cluster account is introduced and criticized for its circularity and difficulties in determining all sufficiency conditions for being an artwork. In the remainder of the paper Abell focuses on developing her own version of the institutional theory.

Comment: This text can provide the students with an overview of modern definitions of art. Theories are presented in a clear, succinct way, with their main features, strengths and weaknesses identified. The selection of objections discussed, however, is not representative – rather it serves the aim of developing Abell’s own definition. The later sections of the text are excellent, but address much more complex issues and are significantly less accessible for undergraduate students. They might be used in Masters level teaching or as advanced further reading on the institutional definition.

Abímbọ́lá, Kọ́lá, and . Culture and the Principles of Biomedical Ethics

2013, Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, 19 (3): 31-39.

Abstract: This paper examines the roles of culture in the principles of biomedical ethics. Drawing on examples from African, Navajo and Western cultures, the paper maintains that various elements of culture are indispensable to the application of the principles of biomedical ethics.

Comment: This text presents a clear introduction to questions about the application of biomedical ethical principles outside of Western medical contexts. It contains a good overview of the Western interpretation and application of autonomy, as well as other, culturally specific, interpretations of autonomy in medical contexts. This makes it useful as a text to introduce students to the way in which conflicts occur over the application of medical ethical principles in context prior to looking at specific cases (such as Jehovah's Witnesses refusal to accept blood transfusions or the well known case of the Hmong medical culture).

Adams, Carol, and . The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory

2000, New York City: Continuum.

Back Matter: The Sexual Politics of Meat argues that what, or more precisely who, we eat is determined by the patriarchal politics of our culture, and that the meanings attached to meat eating are often clustered around virility. We live in a world in which men still have considerable power over women, both in public and in private. Carol Adams argues that gender politics is inextricably related to how we view animals, especially animals who are consumed. Further, she argues that vegetarianism and fighting for animal rights fit perfectly alongside working to improve the lives of disenfranchised and suffering people, under the wide umbrella of compassionate activism.

Comment: This is a clear and easily accessible introductory text on the relationship of feminism to vegetarianism. The text is compelling and interesting, making a chapter or two excellent for an introductory course that concerns feminism, gender politics, other animals, or vegetarianism. The text in its entirety would be excellent in an upper division course concerning ecofeminism.

Adams, Marilyn McCord, and . Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God

1999, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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.

Allen, Anita, and . 22 Atmospherics: Abortion Law and Philosophy

2004, In Francis J. Mootz (ed.), On Philosophy in American Law. Cambridge University Press 184

Abstract: In 1934, Karl N. Llewellyn published a lively essay trumpeting the dawn of legal realism, “On Philosophy in American Law.” The charm of his defective little piece is its style and audacity. A philosopher might be seduced into reading Llewellyn’s essay by its title; but one soon learns that by “philosophy” Llewellyn only meant “atmosphere”. His concerns were the “general approaches” taken by practitioners, who may not even be aware of having general approaches. Llewellyn paired an anemic concept of philosophy with a pumped-up conception of law. Llewellyn’s “law” included anything that reflects the “ways of the law guild at large” – judges, legislators, regulators, and enforcers. Llewellyn argued that the legal philosophies implicit in American legal practice had been natural law, positivism and realism, each adopted in response to felt needs of a time. We must reckon with many other implicit “philosophies” to understand the workings of the law guild, not the least of which has been racism. Others, maternalism and paternalism, my foci here, persist in American law, despite women’s progress toward equality. Both maternalism and paternalism were strikingly present in a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Comment: This article offers a good way to relate practical legal problems with philosophical issues, giving the students a very direct way to see the relevance of ethics. It can inspire discussions on paternalism and its relations with global justice. Note that the article does not define the following terms which are important to understand the material: Natural law, Positivism, Realism, Atmosphere/atmospherics, Paternalism, Maternalism. Due to its focus on legal issues, the text can be better suited as further reading, or as a core reading in classes focused on applied ethics and law (following Diversifying Syllabi).

Allen, Anita L., and . Mental Disorders and the “System of Judgmental Responsibility”

2010, Boston University Law Review 90: 621-640.

Diversifying SyllabiThesis: Those affected by mental disorders whose actions are episodically influenced by their disorder are often overlooked by philosophers of moral and ethical responsibility. Allen gives us reasons for thinking it is inappropriate to either:

a) “summarily exclude people with mental problems out of the universe of moral agents, reducing them to the status of rocks, trees, animals, and infants”
b) “include the group on the false assumption that their moral lives are precisely like the paradigmatic moral lives of the epistemically-sound and well-regulated people never personally touched by a mental condition”

We must explore a revised approach to moral and ethical responsibility and obligation for this group.

Comment: This text is useful in teaching in two main contexts: (1) in discussing ethical issues related to mental disorders; and (2) to provide a challenging case in classes on blame and responsibility. The text can be also used in the context of the free will and determinism debate, and as a further reading in classes on moral agency.

Anderson, Elizabeth, and . What is the Point of Equality?

1999, Ethics 109(2): 287-337.

Comment: This article asks the question: 'What is the point of equality?'. It provides a really clear diagnosis of some of the problems facing luck egalitarianism and goes on to articulate a particular version of the capability approach. Anderson argues that individuals are entitled to whatever they need to escape or overcome oppressive social relationships and to the capabilities necessary to participate as an equal citizen in a democratic state.

Anderson, Elizabeth, and . Justifying the Capabilities Approach to Justice

2010, Brighouse, H. & Robeyns, I. (Eds.) Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 81-100.

Comment: A defense of the capability approach as a superior (objective) metric of justice with a particular focus on ends vs. means, discrimination against the disabled, individual variations in functioning, and the delivery of public services such as health and education. Contains a useful overview of the capabilities approach and where it fits into a complete theory of justice. Compares and contrasts the CA with a resourcist approach.

Anderson, Elizabeth, and . Value in Ethics and Economics

1993, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Summary: Elizabeth Anderson offers a new theory of value and rationality that rejects cost-benefit analysis in our social lives and in our ethical theories. This account of the plurality of values thus offers a new approach, beyond welfare economics and traditional theories of justice, for assessing the ethical limitations of the market. In this light, Anderson discusses several contemporary controversies involving the proper scope of the market, including commercial surrogate motherhood, privatization of public services, and the application of cost-benefit analysis to issues of environmental protection.

Comment: This book as a whole would be an excellent addition to an upper level course on morals and markets. The last three chapters (7-9) cover a number of applied issues in economics and ethics. Chapter 8, "Is Women's Labor a Commodity" would be an especially good addition to a course on business ethics or biomedical ethics that discusses paid surrogacy.

Annas, Julia, and . Applying Virtue to Ethics

2015, Journal of Applied Philosophy 32(1): 1-14.

Abstract: Virtue ethics is sometimes taken to be incapable of providing guidance for an individual’s actions, as some other ethical theories do. I show how virtue ethics does provide guidance for action, and also meet the objection that, while it may account for what we ought to do, it cannot account for the force of duty and obligation.

Comment: This article presents a fairly detailed proposal of how virtue ethics could be implemented practically as a means of action-guidance. It would be useful as part of an examination of how virtue ethics could work in the real world beyond its abstract principles. It requires the context of awareness of virtue ethics to be properly understood, but any student who has received an introduction to the central concepts of virtue ethics should be able to understand it, including undergraduates.