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Is terrorism ever justified?

Is terrorism ever justified?

Good question. Someone who is a consequentialist --that is, a person who believes the morality of an act is contingent on its actual or expected consequences such as the act's producing great happiness or unhappiness-- might have to answer "yes." This is because there are probably cases (or there could be hypothetical cases) when an act of terrorism will produce some greater good or avoid some otherwise inevitable horror and there is no other act available to the parties involved. It is this implication of consequentialism that compels some of us to reject it. Some of us think there are what might be called absolute evils, evil that is so awful that one must not perform the evil no matter what ("even if the heavens fall" or something like that, is an expression sometimes used here). I believe Gandhi once observed that if he had to choose between two evils, he would choose neither (in other words, he would challenge the premise that he "had to choose"). Those of us who think there are some wrongs that are wrong no matter how good the consequences are sometimes called deontologists.

Your question might meet with different responses depending on how "terrorism" is defined and if one were to argue about the permissibility of some very minor act of terrorism (subjecting only a few people to fear but without any intent on actually inflicting physical harm) in order to avoid some profoundly worst act of terrorism. But if we think about the recent attack in Paris, I myself think that there is no reason (probable or imaginary) that would justify such a massacre. Arguments might be difficult here. That is, I might have trouble convincing a self-confident consequentialist. But one objection to consequentialism that I believe to be forceful is that consequentialism seems to be on a slippery slope such that almost anything (massive rapes, murder, torture...)might be justified so long as those acts would produce greater consequences and there is no other action available that would produce greater consequences. That consequence seems to me to run against moral experience and the teaching of many, significant moral and religious traditions (that I deeply respect).

Good question. Someone who is a consequentialist --that is, a person who believes the morality of an act is contingent on its actual or expected consequences such as the act's producing great happiness or unhappiness-- might have to answer "yes." This is because there are probably cases (or there could be hypothetical cases) when an act of terrorism will produce some greater good or avoid some otherwise inevitable horror and there is no other act available to the parties involved. It is this implication of consequentialism that compels some of us to reject it. Some of us think there are what might be called absolute evils, evil that is so awful that one must not perform the evil no matter what ("even if the heavens fall" or something like that, is an expression sometimes used here). I believe Gandhi once observed that if he had to choose between two evils, he would choose neither (in other words, he would challenge the premise that he "had to choose"). Those of us who think there are some wrongs...

If theft is committed as a form of political protest or civil disobedience

If theft is committed as a form of political protest or civil disobedience against capitalism, does that make it less immoral than if it was done solely for amusement?

Fascinating question. Off hand, it does seem that, in some cases, the motives you cite would make a difference. Imagine two people steal a sign advertising a bank that is involved with the unfair foreclosure of homes, leaving (let us imagine) many innocent persons homeless. A person who does the stealing as an act of protest and who, let us imagine, turns herself in to draw attention to this act of disobedience, seems (to use your terms) "less immoral" than one who steals the advertisement as a joke (perhaps using the sign as a tray to serve beer to friends while watching the world cup). In fact, we may find the person who did the theft out of matters of conscience heroic.

The difficulty in weighing motives, however, emerges when we dig deeper into why the persons have the motives they do. Is the person who acts to protest capitalism doing *that* solely for the sake of amusement? I came of age in the early 1970s and was present protesting the inauguration of President Nixon. A good number of us were protesting (or speaking for myself, I was protesting) as part of a date weekend. I did oppose the Nixon administration, but I also wanted to spend time with Melissa. Professing some overt political motive may not be the whole story. Moreover, there might be at least three factors that come into play in addition to matters of motive, and these involve (A) what is stolen, (B) how it is stolen, and (C) what happens after the theft.

(A) Stealing some things might be so gravely wrong that it does not matter what the person's intention might be. If I were knowingly to steal medicine that an innocent child needs and she dies for lack of the medicine, I think I should be judged equally guilty of homicide whether this was done to protest capitalism or for the sake of amusement.

(B) In terms of how a theft is committed, I think there would be a significant difference if the theft was committed violently or not, independent of motives. We might also want to factor in the mental state of the robber at the time: imagine the thief who was protesting capitalism was dangerously intoxicated or highly confused about the nature of property and capitalism. Similarly, imagine the thief who stole solely for amusement was under the confused impression that his amusing theft would help his friend coping with clinical depression. We might be more concerned about the thief's basic competence and mental health quite independent of motive. Silly examples, I agree, but they have some relevance.

(C) Our judgement on theft might be partly determined by what the thief does afterwards. Was what was stolen returned undamaged? What if the person who did the stealing out of amusement decided to use what was stolen later to help out the homeless?

Anyway, great question.

Fascinating question. Off hand, it does seem that, in some cases, the motives you cite would make a difference. Imagine two people steal a sign advertising a bank that is involved with the unfair foreclosure of homes, leaving (let us imagine) many innocent persons homeless. A person who does the stealing as an act of protest and who, let us imagine, turns herself in to draw attention to this act of disobedience, seems (to use your terms) "less immoral" than one who steals the advertisement as a joke (perhaps using the sign as a tray to serve beer to friends while watching the world cup). In fact, we may find the person who did the theft out of matters of conscience heroic. The difficulty in weighing motives, however, emerges when we dig deeper into why the persons have the motives they do. Is the person who acts to protest capitalism doing *that* solely for the sake of amusement? I came of age in the early 1970s and was present protesting the inauguration of President Nixon. A good number of us...

Some people say that "safety" is a very important thing and that the main

Some people say that "safety" is a very important thing and that the main function of the state is to promote (e.g., liberty and) safety. I think this makes no sense because one can only be safe from something, and one is never completely safe, only some of our goods are safe. So the important thing is not "safety", but whatever else is important. And it is not "safety" that the state should promote, but the keeping of our most important goods.

Great observations. "Safety" itself, in the abstract, does seem an odd goal or ideal for a state or person. You suggest the focus should be on "our most important goods" and suggest that the safety of those good (which might include personal integrity, opportunities to flourish in ways that persons choose freely, the freedom to raise families, the opportunities to pursue education, the arts, to engage in trade, and so on) is what is duly important. I might be wrong, but your observations suggest you are taking issue with libertarian accounts of the state, as libertarians argue for what might be called a minimal state --a state that governs the least possible (using the least amount of coercive power) compatible with the guarantee of basic rights. Those rights will, themselves, be pretty modest in number, but they usually include persons' rights to be free from violence and illegitimate coercion (e.g. illicit force and threats from other persons). Ironically, in order to truly secure even such basic rights might involve a fairly substantial role for the state.

If you are interested in history, Thomas Hobbes might be very interesting for you to study. At the base of his justification for the state (and here I am putting things so basically, an expert on Hobbes might have a heart attack) is the individual's entering into agreement with other individuals not to threaten each other with premature violent death. In other words, the basis motive for forming a society (or social contract) is safety. GIven such a starting point, however, Hobbes' state can look quite robust, when he is through with his analysis in his classic book Leviathan.

A modest PS: I think "safety" should not be underestimated as an important condition for the practice of philosophy itself. For a healthy philosophical exchange, I think one needs to secure (within some limits) the safety of airing quite radical viewpoints and to cultivate a willingness to entertain and argue about positions that might seem (on the surface, anyway) to be offensive and profoundly counter-cultural. I add "within some limits" as I believe there are some positions (e.g. to take an example from the day I am writing this when terrorists killed over 140 students in Kenya) that do not deserve sympathy. The killing of students under those conditions were (in my view) cases of murder. No lover of wisdom that is to say no philosopher can endorse mass killings of the innocent. That is where SAFETY comes in and should make it UNSAFE for those seeking to kill those whose safety we (all those who are committed to non-violence) must protect.

So, to summarize these later reflections I agree that SAFETY as an abstract idea needs to be subordinated to (or understood in terms of) important goods. One of those goods is the ability of students to flourish. Because of that good, we need to secure the safety of those students and this means making it unsafe for those who are threatening such students.

Great observations. "Safety" itself, in the abstract, does seem an odd goal or ideal for a state or person. You suggest the focus should be on "our most important goods" and suggest that the safety of those good (which might include personal integrity, opportunities to flourish in ways that persons choose freely, the freedom to raise families, the opportunities to pursue education, the arts, to engage in trade, and so on) is what is duly important. I might be wrong, but your observations suggest you are taking issue with libertarian accounts of the state, as libertarians argue for what might be called a minimal state --a state that governs the least possible (using the least amount of coercive power) compatible with the guarantee of basic rights. Those rights will, themselves, be pretty modest in number, but they usually include persons' rights to be free from violence and illegitimate coercion (e.g. illicit force and threats from other persons). Ironically, in order to truly secure even such basic...

Should love between a man and woman be diminished in any way by differing

Should love between a man and woman be diminished in any way by differing political viewpoints? My boyfriend and I both think politics is a minor part of life that neither of us gets directly involved in but when we do speak about it he isn't afraid to philosophize about his radical political views. As it follows, he is opposed to marriage including straight marriage and especially gay marriage because he does not accept the legitimacy of any state or institution. I don't mind spending the rest of our lives together unmarried because this in no way negatively impacts my life even though my political views are rather different. I disagree with his stance on gay marriage because I have gay friends but this does not diminish my love since we are both straight, so do political views matter when it comes to love?

Very, very interesting. You are asking about something that is perhaps a matter that is more personal and intimate than political or a matter of public philosophy (or philosophy about public life), but I offer these thoughts with some hesitation about responding to what is probably quite personal. In the West, historically (from the Medieval period on) marriage has been principally been understood as that which is established (and constituted) by two persons So, while there has been a massive tradition of arranged marriages and marriage has often been understood in terms of the transfer of property over generations in the west, at the heart of the very idea of marriage is that it involves a commitment between a man and a woman (or, as we should say today, between two persons). The role of the church and state has (from an historical point of view) been conceived of as RECOGNIZING marriage --rather than establishing marriage or constituting it. So, while in Eastern Christianity, the church is understood to ESTABLISH a marriage, in the west (the inheritors of Latin-speaking Europe, i.e. most of Europe except Greece, Russian and countries where Eastern Orthodoxy is prominent), in the WEST (historically) your marriage with your partner is between the two of you as individuals (or whether you as individuals consent to being a couple). So, in a sense, if he and you are committed to a life-long love with each other, you are (from a western point of view) ALREADY MARRIED. The state and politics only come in to recognize this, to celebrate this and protect the union.

Very, very interesting. You are asking about something that is perhaps a matter that is more personal and intimate than political or a matter of public philosophy (or philosophy about public life), but I offer these thoughts with some hesitation about responding to what is probably quite personal. In the West, historically (from the Medieval period on) marriage has been principally been understood as that which is established (and constituted) by two persons So, while there has been a massive tradition of arranged marriages and marriage has often been understood in terms of the transfer of property over generations in the west, at the heart of the very idea of marriage is that it involves a commitment between a man and a woman (or, as we should say today, between two persons). The role of the church and state has (from an historical point of view) been conceived of as RECOGNIZING marriage --rather than establishing marriage or constituting it. So, while in Eastern Christianity, the church is...

Is any society that uses money in some degree a capitalist society, even the ex

Is any society that uses money in some degree a capitalist society, even the ex-Soviet Union? I hear arguments everyday from others and the media that a free society must necessarily be a capitalist one but I think that is just an illusion because the government, business, and other institutions with power set out all the laws and norms for this unofficial ideology of capitalism to exist, not individuals. Most people in capitalist societies have no other choice but to spend their entire lives accumulating capital instead of doing more important things like being self-sufficient and reading philosophy. I live in a capitalist country that I don't want to be part of, so what should I do? I don't have enough time or power to change or overthrow my country's capitalist system and I don't want to leave to move to another country. Is the only solution to separate myself from society completely just like Thoreau did at Walden Pond and live off the land?

Your questions and observations are fascinating. On the first matter about money and capitalism, the answer seems to be that the bare use of money in a society would not (by itself) make it capitalist, but when you add the qualifier "in some degree" I think one must admit that the boundary between capitalist or free-market economies and those that are not can be vague. So, perhaps a more subtle response should be that insofar as citizens have money (whether this is earned or conferred on the basis of need or some other condition) that they can use to acquire different goods at their discretion (having alternatives they can select) without state coercion then that society has ("in some degree") a free market (or, if you like, it is a society in which capital can or does exchange owners in non-coercive or free trade). But, as long as we are not being too committed to such nuances, a non-captialist society (such as a socialist society) might still be thought of as non-capitalist even if it did allow for some free market exchanges, and then there are cases like modern China which are becoming difficult to classify.

China seems to have increasing capitalist elements but within a single-party, state-controlled system that seeks to secure a semi-socialist control over wealth and a stern control over governance that reserves the power to control private and corporate property.

On whether a free society must be capitalist, I want to respond with something super-interesting and surprising that will repay your taking the time to send in this fascinating prompt, HOWEVER I suggest that this comes down to definitions, e.g. if we build into the concept of "freedom" the freedom for persons to engage in the exchange of goods based on their mutual consent (when the state only intervenes to punish fraud and to sustain the conditions essential for there to be a market, etc), then it seems that a free society will have to turn out to involve a free-market (or capitalism). But Marx and others have critiqued such a notion of 'freedom' and introduced competing concepts of the individual, our needs, capacities, and so on that would either eliminate or severely restrict capitalism.

I think you certainly are raising a frustrating matter: what does one do as an individual when one is in a society whose social and economic stature run counter to your own values? And while I am afraid I would not be very good at being "self-sufficient" I think we both would prefer to read philosophy on Walden Pond rather than work on Wall Street. You might be looking for a more radical counter-proposal but I think there is a middle ground in your situation and those like you (or us). One can protest or not participate in many of the capitalist or consumerist aspects of our culture and support cultural counter-measures (on some campuses in the USA some students set up free shops in which you can donate and exchange goods, pretty much on your honor), though opting out all the way would be difficult, as it was for Thoreau himself (who relied on some assistance and so was not racially self-sufficient in all respects --though I could be wrong on that). But I would add this bit: you write about "being self-sufficient and reading philosophy"....what about being part of a group of people who (working together) are self-sufficient and are philosophical? That may seem like a pipe dream, but historically the longest running tradition that was (internally) non-capitalist (or socialist) and focussed on shared work and study (theology and philosophy) is the monastic tradition (especially Christian and Buddhist). There have been very wealthy Christian monasteries, but there have also been those and Buddhist monasteries that were rigorously anti-private property. If you can find such a community that is focussed on philosophy and not far from Walden Pond, I think you may get quite a few visitors, including myself.

Your questions and observations are fascinating. On the first matter about money and capitalism, the answer seems to be that the bare use of money in a society would not (by itself) make it capitalist, but when you add the qualifier "in some degree" I think one must admit that the boundary between capitalist or free-market economies and those that are not can be vague. So, perhaps a more subtle response should be that insofar as citizens have money (whether this is earned or conferred on the basis of need or some other condition) that they can use to acquire different goods at their discretion (having alternatives they can select) without state coercion then that society has ("in some degree") a free market (or, if you like, it is a society in which capital can or does exchange owners in non-coercive or free trade). But, as long as we are not being too committed to such nuances, a non-captialist society (such as a socialist society) might still be thought of as non-capitalist even if it did allow for...

Does justice necessarily have to be equality?

Does justice necessarily have to be equality?

Interesting! In certain respects, when treating persons in terms of criminal justice, most of us believe that persons should not be given unfair, special treatment because of wealth, gender, ethnicity, family, and so on.... And in many areas, we assume that, in a just society, identical or similar cases should be treated equally. If you and I both earn the same amount of money from the same job and our conditions are similar (that is, it is not the case that, say, I am childless but you are supporting three children), we naturally expect that what we pay in taxes should be the same (or equal). But in a just society, there still may be inequalities in different areas: not all members of a society will be equally healthy or strong, equally intelligent, equally loved by care-givers, you may receive massive attention by fashion magazines because of your irresistible smile, while I get no attention at all, and so on.

One way to make progress here would be to think in terms of justice as fairness. This is something John Rawls pursued over a long period of reflection and debate. So, equality and inequality become important insofar as the equality or inequality is the result of being fair or unfair. So, imagine you and I are equally talented and either of us could have become a brain surgeon, but, as it happens, you are the one who puts the years of training into actually becoming a highly successful brain surgeon, while I decide to make and sell enough tourist art in order to pursue my real passion, surfing. Both of us may be equally happy, but I think many of us would think that the surgeon would rightly be rewarded with greater goods (income) than the surfer.

Interesting! In certain respects, when treating persons in terms of criminal justice, most of us believe that persons should not be given unfair, special treatment because of wealth, gender, ethnicity, family, and so on.... And in many areas, we assume that, in a just society, identical or similar cases should be treated equally. If you and I both earn the same amount of money from the same job and our conditions are similar (that is, it is not the case that, say, I am childless but you are supporting three children), we naturally expect that what we pay in taxes should be the same (or equal). But in a just society, there still may be inequalities in different areas: not all members of a society will be equally healthy or strong, equally intelligent, equally loved by care-givers, you may receive massive attention by fashion magazines because of your irresistible smile, while I get no attention at all, and so on. One way to make progress here would be to think in terms of justice as fairness. ...

Hello,

Hello, I am currently studying philosophy and ethics at my school. We are doing an assignment at the moment on human nature and three element of human nature and how they link in with society itself and help to form and maintain it. I was wondering, could selfishness (a definite part of human nature) in any way, benefit society? As in, would it be able to help form or maintain a society? Thankyou for any responces.

Good luck in your studies! Philosophers have thought quite a bit about self-interest and selfishness. What is often called psychological egoism is the thesis that humans always act in ways that they believe to be in their self-interest (either directly or indirectly), while ethical egoism is the thesis that people ought to do what is (either directly or indirectly) in their self-interest. One point to clarify here is the difference between "selfishness" and "self-interest." If psychological egoism is taken as the view that all persons are selfish because all people act in their self-interest, this seems either false or to involve an odd use of the notion of "self-interest." Clearly many people are interested in living lives of justice, compassion, humility, and so on, but to call such people "selfish" would seem to be quite the opposite of what they are like: namely, they are generous, caring, non-vain, non-pompous, humble. So, I suggest that we use the term "selfish" in ways that pick out traits such as: a selfish person tends to put treat his own needs and desires as more important than others; if food or water is scarce, a selfish person (if he can get away with it) tends to either take or want to take more than his fair share. If a selfish person can achieve an advantage over others through deception, he will be sorely tempted to think of himself first and be tempted to deceive. On this meaning, it does not appear that everyone is selfish (and what might be called psychological selfishness seems wrong) and it also seems that selfishness would do more to endanger social cohesiveness than other traits and motives: like the desire to live in a just society, the motive of caring for others, and so on.

Still, some philosophers have sought to show that rational or enlightened self-interest can lead to benefits. There is a thought experiment called the Prisoner's Dilemma (you can find this outlined on various philosophy website) which is designed to show that while narrow self-interest will lead to the worst overall outcome, enlightened self-interest can lead to the best outcome under the circumstances. And in jurisprudence of philosophy of law, you will find reflection on what penalties or incentives seem required to promote civic life and reduce crime by appealing to the self-interest of citizens. Ideally, you do not want laws that are so lax (imagine the penalty for ponnzi schemes is a few months in jail) that it would be in the self-interest of persons to break the law. Adam Smith is an 18th century philosopher as well as an economist who argued that if persons rationally pursued self-interest they would be guided by what he poetically referred to as "an invisible hand" to bring about the best social benefit.

In terms of books on human nature, I highly recommend two that are accessible, reliable, and clear: Roger Trigg's Ideas of Human Nature and Leslie Stevenson's Thirteen Theories of Human Nature.

Good luck in your studies! Philosophers have thought quite a bit about self-interest and selfishness. What is often called psychological egoism is the thesis that humans always act in ways that they believe to be in their self-interest (either directly or indirectly), while ethical egoism is the thesis that people ought to do what is (either directly or indirectly) in their self-interest. One point to clarify here is the difference between "selfishness" and "self-interest." If psychological egoism is taken as the view that all persons are selfish because all people act in their self-interest, this seems either false or to involve an odd use of the notion of "self-interest." Clearly many people are interested in living lives of justice, compassion, humility, and so on, but to call such people "selfish" would seem to be quite the opposite of what they are like: namely, they are generous, caring, non-vain, non-pompous, humble. So, I suggest that we use the term "selfish" in ways that pick out traits...

What is the difference between justice and morality? Evidently, the concepts

What is the difference between justice and morality? Evidently, the concepts overlap each other, and in many cases they appertain to each other. I have made some observation, though I am not quite sure whether they are of any relevance, in terms of difference. Firstly, it appears to me that morality deals with the means of an action, in most of the cases, rather than the ends, where the motive of your action is of major, if not absolute, significance (whereof Kant suggested good will as the basis of morality, or something done out of reverence of law). In justice, however, the means are scarcely ever mentioned, and all we hear about is the ends. It appears to me that some ends are in themselves the measure of justice, independent of intention. Also, the word justice, apparently, from the word "jus", which means law, which certainly does make it easier to approach. However, it does not appear to be the case that law is equal to justice. Laws can, supposedly, also be unjust. It really bothers me that I...

Your frustration is understandable! In English, we used to have fine distinctions between the terms ethics and morality, duties and obligations, labor and work, recklessness and negligence..... but we English-speakers seem less keen about the finer distinctions at work. One might easily conflate the terms just and moral; saying a law is unjust seems the equivalent of claiming that a law is immoral (or the establishment of the law is morally wrong). But, there is still some distinctions to observe: justice usually pertains to matters of governance and human rights. And there are different domains of justice: Distributive justice concerns the distribution of goods and burdens; Retributive justice refers to matters of punishment; Restorative justice refers to compensation for past wrongful harms, and so on. Such forms of justice are related to rights, distributive justice may concern itself with a person's having a right to health care, retributive justice needs to address respecting or violating a person's right to a fair trial. What we call morality can certainly enter into different domains of justice or specific forms of inquiry about what is just or unjust in war, for example ("Just War Theory"). But morality is, in a sense, broader than matters of governance. In a class on morality, one might take up the moral permissibility of abortion, capital punishment, gay marriage, physician assisted suicide all of which have implications for governance but in a moral inquiry there tends to be less interest in the actual legality of an act. So, you and your friend may fully agree that abortion is legally permitted in the USA, prostitution is legal in Las Vagas, pornography is available to adults on the internet, and you and your friend may have compelling arguments and objections of the morality of each of these domains. What is known as moral psychology is especially concerned with the nature and value of motives: pride, compassion, empathy, anger, greed, lust, envy, jealousy, love, hate...

You suggestion about means of an action versus ends is interesting, though in the context of many laws concerning life and property, motives (what you are calling 'means' I think) come into play. When someone is arrested on the grounds of theft, we need to know if the subject had bad motives (a guilty mind or mens rea) or she was deceived and innocent (she took a bike that was not hers, but she thought it was hers because her Aunt had explained to her that the Aunt bought the bike and had given it to her as a gift. There is at least one troubling area of law, though, where motives are ignored, and that occurs in statutory laws. In statutory rape (an adult has sex with someone under the age of consent), someone may be found guilty of rape even if the girl he had sex with was disguised as a senior citizen in an assisted living, retirement community. I can understand why we have statutory laws, but see them as problematic.

Thank you for your engaging question! I hope you are less bothered after considering my suggestions.

Your frustration is understandable! In English, we used to have fine distinctions between the terms ethics and morality, duties and obligations, labor and work, recklessness and negligence..... but we English-speakers seem less keen about the finer distinctions at work. One might easily conflate the terms just and moral; saying a law is unjust seems the equivalent of claiming that a law is immoral (or the establishment of the law is morally wrong). But, there is still some distinctions to observe: justice usually pertains to matters of governance and human rights. And there are different domains of justice: Distributive justice concerns the distribution of goods and burdens; Retributive justice refers to matters of punishment; Restorative justice refers to compensation for past wrongful harms, and so on. Such forms of justice are related to rights, distributive justice may concern itself with a person's having a right to health care, retributive justice needs to address respecting or violating a...

I'm in the middle of writing a thesis on tourists negotiating confrontations

I'm in the middle of writing a thesis on tourists negotiating confrontations with poverty while on holiday in third world countries. It is easy to see that these confrontations touch on ethics and justice as the tourists are (relatively) rich, their hosts are poor and tourism is about enjoying luxuries (hedonism) while around the 'tourist bubbles' people are struggling. Considering this I focus on how tourists 'legitimise themselves', using discourse analysis (which discursive techniques do tourists employ) following Foucault on power and truth within constructivism, making sidesteps to Baumann (exclusion), Stanley Cohen (states of denial) and Zizek (cultural capitalism). Do you have any more ideas on how I could elaborate on these issues using philosophy? Please point me in the right direction of interesting (modern, postmodern, critical) philosophies!

What a fascinating project!

It seems as though you are very good on resources! I have only two suggestions that you may (or may not!) wish to explore: you might consider how to assess and perhaps how to educate tourists on issues of global justice. Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice and Martha Nussbaum's Creating Capabilities might be good resources and provide an accessible set of terms to consider. It may be that tourists to places that are poverty ridden do want to help alleviate these conditions, and could be directed to make (an at least symbolic but perhaps substantial) contribution to making lives better. You also might include some attention on how tourists might gaze (and interact) with those they encounter, taking into account Jacques Lacan's notion of the gaze as articulated in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis.

Good wishes on your project!

What a fascinating project! It seems as though you are very good on resources! I have only two suggestions that you may (or may not!) wish to explore: you might consider how to assess and perhaps how to educate tourists on issues of global justice. Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice and Martha Nussbaum's Creating Capabilities might be good resources and provide an accessible set of terms to consider. It may be that tourists to places that are poverty ridden do want to help alleviate these conditions, and could be directed to make (an at least symbolic but perhaps substantial) contribution to making lives better. You also might include some attention on how tourists might gaze (and interact) with those they encounter, taking into account Jacques Lacan's notion of the gaze as articulated in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Good wishes on your project!

I've been trying to learn a bit about communitarian philosophy, but I'm having a

I've been trying to learn a bit about communitarian philosophy, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it. The thrust of the line of thinking seems to be that individuals are socially constituted beings and that the community should therefore be the focal unit of ethical and political action, rather than the individual (which is what is advocated by the liberal theorists communitarians criticize). That is, at least, the impression I'm getting. I may be confused, but there seems to be a problem here. Communitarians seem to want to exclude contingent "lifestyle enclaves" from their thought, defining community instead in geographical, historical and familial terms - i.e. communities we can't escape being defined into, no matter how hard we might try. But just because a person is part of a particular racial, geographical, linguistic and socioeconomic community does not mean logically imply that that community is the best place for them to flourish in the way they desire. What does...

Excellent set of concerns! The history of communitarianism is a bit complex; the term was first introduced by a German sociologist F. Tonnies (d1936), but the term did not really get a lot of philosophical attention until we get the mature work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor. I suspect that the form of communitarianism is a very radical one that rules out appeal to concepts of human flourishing that may be used to critique or evaluate communities. Both MacIntyre and Taylor stress the vital importance of communities as philosophically significant contexts for moral, religious, and political reflection but both embrace moral theories that go beyond what a community happens to value. Although I am not positive, MacIntyre seems closest to an Aristotelian perspective in his latest work. Taylor may lean a little more toward the Platonic tradition, but for both of these figures who have promoted communitarianism, religious values (both philosophers are Roman Catholic) are viewed as having a great importance that is missing in secular communities.

Back to your original worry: I share it. More radical forms of communitarianism could well overwhelm and threaten an individual's bona fide flourishing, and that is indeed a problem.

Excellent set of concerns! The history of communitarianism is a bit complex; the term was first introduced by a German sociologist F. Tonnies (d1936), but the term did not really get a lot of philosophical attention until we get the mature work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor. I suspect that the form of communitarianism is a very radical one that rules out appeal to concepts of human flourishing that may be used to critique or evaluate communities. Both MacIntyre and Taylor stress the vital importance of communities as philosophically significant contexts for moral, religious, and political reflection but both embrace moral theories that go beyond what a community happens to value. Although I am not positive, MacIntyre seems closest to an Aristotelian perspective in his latest work. Taylor may lean a little more toward the Platonic tradition, but for both of these figures who have promoted communitarianism, religious values (both philosophers are Roman Catholic) are viewed as having a great...

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