Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Ronald Dworkin

Why the Palestinians Need a Mandela

Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948. Martin Luther King Jr. died in 1968. Now Nelson Mandela has died in 2013, and the last of the big three satyagrahi has turned out the lights, and for the first time peacefully, in his own time, rather than in response to the inescapable mandate of the bullet. This has me wondering what future role nonviolent civil resistance has to play in world affairs. Above all others, it is the Arab Israeli cause that seems to me most in need of a leader of this kind. Here’s why.

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The Moral Irrelevance of the God Question

A while back, I wrote about the separation of moral philosophy and metaphysics. I argued in agreement with Dworkin that whether or not a moral claim is true does not rely on objective metaphysical blunt facts about the nature of the universe. It occurred to me today that this makes the entire debate between the new atheism of Dawkins, Hitchens, and the like and traditional religion irrelevant to questions of moral philosophy–the metaphysical debate about whether or not there is a deity and what that deity’s nature might be can have no bearing whatsoever on our moral theory.

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A Critique of Ronald Dworkin

Lately I have often praised the work of Ronald Dworkin, writer of Justice for Hedgehogs, a book I have recently been reading. Indeed, Dworkin’s views on scepticism, interpretation, and the independence of value from metaphysics are all very persuasive, and I have adopted partially or completely several of his positions on those topics, as regular readers may have observed in recent posts. However, at around the halfway point in Hedgehogs, I have come upon a position of Dworkin’s I cannot accept which I believe undermines much of the rest of his philosophy.

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Divorcing Morality from Metaphysics

Religious deontologists and subjectivist relativists have something in common–both believe that they can derive moral conclusions from their metaphysical theories. This is the most significant mistake made by both groups.  Here’s why.

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Stephen Hawking’s Israel Boycott

Stephen Hawking was scheduled to do a conference in Jerusalem, but has backed out, choosing to respect the academic boycott of Israel. The academic boycott seeks to show the Israeli case to be analogous to the South African case–during the apartheid era in South Africa, many academics chose to boycott that country. Is Stephen Hawking right to respect the academic boycott?

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