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Abstract: More than two hundred years after its publication, David Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is still widely regarded as either a footnote to the more philosophically interesting third book of the Treatise, or an abbreviated, more stylish, version of that earlier work. These standard interpretations are rather difficult to square with Hume's own assessment of the second Enquiry. Are we to think that Hume called the EPM “incomparably the best” of all his writings only because he preferred that later style of exposition? Or worse, should we take his preference for the second Enquiry as a sign of aging literary vanity? Does Hume's stated preference for the EPM in no way speak to its philosophical content?
Abstract: Sympathy for animals is regarded by many thinkers as theoretically disreputable. Against this I argue that sympathy appropriately underlies moral concern for animals. I offer an account of sympathy that distinguishes sympathy with from sympathy for fellow creatures, and I argue that both can be placed on an objective basis, if we differentiate enlightened from folk sympathy. Moreover, I suggest that sympathy for animals is not, as some have claimed, incompatible with environmentalism; on the contrary, it can ground environmental concern. Finally, I show that the traditional concept of anthropomorphism has no coherent basis, and I argue that the attempt to prove that animals lack thoughts is both unsuccessful and irrelevant to sympathy for languageless creatures
Abstract: As J. Baird Callicott has argued, Adam Smith’s moral theory is a philosophical ancestor of recent work in environmental ethics. However, Smith’s “all important emotion of sympathy” (Callicott 2001: 209) seems incapable of extension to entities that lack emotions with which one can sympathize. Drawing on the distinctive account of sympathy developed in Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments , as well as his account of anthropomorphizing nature in “History of Astronomy and Physics,” I show that sympathy with non-sentient nature is possible within a Smithian ethics. This provides the possibility of extending sympathy, and thereby benevolence and justice, to nature
Abstract: This paper explores J.S. Mill's theory of poetry and experience and its relation to his utilitarianism. It's probably one of my best papers, but for reasons I hesitate to speculate upon it's been largely ignored
Abstract: Darwin believed that his theory of evolution would stand or fall on its ability to account for human behavior. No species could be an exception to his theory without imperiling the whole edifice. One of the most striking features of human behavior is our very elaborate social life involving cooperation with large numbers of other people. The evolution of the ethical sensibilities and institutions of humans was thus one of his central concerns. Darwin made four main arguments regarding human morality: (1) that it is a product of group selection; (2) that an immense difference existed between human moral systems and those of other animals; (3) that the human social instincts were “primeval” and essentially the same in all modern humans; and (4) that moral progress was possible based on using the instinct of sympathy as the basis for inventing and favoring the spread of improved social institutions. Modern studies of cultural evolution suggest that Darwin’s arguments about the evolution of morality are largely correct in their essentials
Abstract: The act of killing a child holds the distinction of attracting a deluge of attention in the media but a relative drip of sociological literature. This thesis deconstructs American views of child homicide and conducts the first experimental test of the effects of victim characteristics like age on sentencing recommendations in four different homicide scenarios: accidental, drunken, impulsive, and premeditated. The findings illuminate the link between social norms and sentencing severity. Ultimately, three conclusions may be drawn: first, child sympathy does not appear to vary by the respondent's demographic traits; second, child killers are sentenced more harshly than the killers of adults, but only when criminal intent is evident; and third, while there is a positive relationship between youth of the victim and the severity of punishment assigned to the offender, the effects for child and teen homicide are not so dissimilar as to contradict existing legal statutes in the United States
Abstract: In this article, I examine Adam Smith's theory of the ways individuals in society bridge social and biological difference. In doing so, I emphasize the divisive effects of gender, race, and class to see if Smith's account of social unity can overcome such fractious forces. My discussion uses the metaphor of “proximity” to mean both physical and psychological distance between moral actors and spectators. I suggest that education – both formal and informal in means – can assist moral judgment by helping agents minimize the effects of proximity, and, ultimately, learn commonality where difference may otherwise seem overwhelming. This article uses the methods of the history of philosophy in order to examine an issue within contemporary discourse. While I seek to offer an authentic reading of Smith representative of his eighteenth-century perspective, I do so with an eye towards determining the extent to which Smith anticipated central issues in modern multiculturalism. (Published Online April 18 2006) Footnotes1 I would like to thank Luc Bovens, Kim Donehower, David Levy, Elizabeth Sund, and Leah M. McClimans, for their help on previous drafts of this article