The relationship between morality and the self has been a subject of both philosophical and theological speculation. In the religious sphere these two concepts—morality and the self—often hold great significance as they tend to correlate at least somewhat directly with either temporal happiness or soteriological beliefs. In many religious and philosophical systems, the belief in a permanent self (that may or may not carry over in an afterlife) is thought of as a necessary substratum of an agent to account for moral agency and moral responsibility. My thesis, however, is that a belief in a permanent self that is subject to personal everlasting soteriological repercussions is not necessary for moral agency (moral agency entailing responsibility, accountability, and motivation). My argument employs a close reading of two examples of comprehensive religious/philosophical systems: the Madhyamaka Buddhism of 14th century Tibetan philosopher Tsongkhapa and the process theism of 20th century philosopher Charles Hartshorne. In light of the philosophical moral systems used, I conclude that not only is the lack of a permanent self coherent with moral agency, but the lack of a permanent self actually increases a sense of moral agency and responsibility in an agent as well as increases happiness in one’s life.
This essay revisits David Hume’s argument for moral sentimentalism and qualifies his solution to moral relativism. Agreeing with Hume’s empirical thesis that emotional judgments are contextually-determined, I trace his argument showing it is impossible to ground moral judgment in pure reason because reason is impartial and thus cannot choose moral values. Moral judgment therefore must be grounded in emotion. It follows that moral truth is relative to one’s subjective position because the partiality of moral judgment that enables the preference of certain moral values simultaneously makes it impossible for those judgments to be impartial and universal. Hume and other sentimentalists defend against this relativism by arguing that people who have been exposed to a diversity of thought and maintain an open-minded and empathic attitude are able to make superior moral judgments. I support this defense on the grounds that it champions freedom of expression and provides a viable framework for resolving moral disputes. At the same time, I argue that the moral relativism implied by Hume’s sentimentalism is too strong for him to claim that open-mindedness and empathy are absolute moral standards.
Part of Notable Lectures & Performances series, Colorado College. Recorded March 6, 2008.
Empirical evidence has shown that legalizing physician-assisted suicide could result in real economic benefits. This study will test whether those economic implications have an effect on peoples’ attitudes and opinions toward PAS by means of an OLS regression model measuring the determinants of those attitudes. It takes the previous research on the subject a step further by including two explanatory variables based on an individual’s life experiences in addition to their demographic characteristics. Results indicate that along with some demographic characteristics, peoples’ experience with loved ones who are terminally ill has positive correlation with their favorability toward the legalization of PAS. Furthermore, peoples’ attitudes and opinions toward the legalization of PAS are much more dependent on ethical and personal factors than economics.
By approaching traditional philosophical problems through psychoanalytic theory, we may learn something about the nature of our ethical principles as well as the nature of the self in the face of dominating forces. Theorists such as Jonathan Lear, Jessica Benjamin, and Frank Summers provide a radical position for the psychoanalyst, which rebels against hegemony and hierarchy within the socio-political realm. This paper relates the work of these three theorists, revealing the possibility of psychoanalysis to help address philosophical problems and offer a basis for radical political change.
Today’s modern societies are directed by quantitative measures which concentrate our energy on numerical outcomes at the expense of subjective values like community, genuine happiness, freedom, aesthetics, etc. This paper investigates the foundations of economic valuation and explains how a good-centered marketing logic and value system has objectified both the human and non-human world with negative consequences for the health and well-being of ourselves and our planet. I suggest that a paradigm shift toward a service-centered marketing logic can introduce subjective goals into firm practices by engaging in a relational and dynamic value creation process. With a re-evaluation of markets and the nature of value we may begin the journey away from an era of ethical scarcity and material abundance toward one concentrated on human flourishing in harmony with the natural environment.
Brief video clips showcasing Colorado College's core values: honor the life of the mind as the central focus of our common endeavor; value all persons and seek to learn from their diverse experiences and perspectives; practice intellectual honesty and live with integrity; serve as stewards of the traditions and resources of Colorado College; nurture a sense of place and an ethic of environmental sustainability; encourage engagement and social responsibility at local, national and global levels; seek excellence, constantly assessing our policies and programs.