Adam Smith on Beneficence & Justice

I've recently begun the Ethics & Economics Challenge program with students at Merrimack Valley High School in Concord, N.H. We've been discussing what Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments can tell us about what types of moral duties may legitimately be enforced. I'm blogging my reflections as we go. Here is a selection from the … Continue reading Adam Smith on Beneficence & Justice

Justice and sentencing

My Twitter feed has been filled with Americans and others expressing outrage about a Saudi court's sentencing a man to be paralyzed from the waist down. He had stabbed a man in the back, paralyzing him. I'm not going to defend or oppose the sentence, but I am going to defend a principle here: the … Continue reading Justice and sentencing

Freedom as a Moral Concept (Update)

Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, there have been some interesting posts recently on moralized and non-moralized conceptions of freedom. Jason Brennan says defining liberty to mean only negative liberty is "linguistic revisionism" without philosophic import. He then makes the case that bleeding-heart libertarianism (or Rawlsianism or various other non-traditionally-libertarian conceptions of property rights) does not … Continue reading Freedom as a Moral Concept (Update)

Eye for an Eye: Retribution or Restitution?

I recently came across this interesting, five-year-old interview with law professor William Ian Miller on "talionic" law in the Middle Ages, which specified literal "eye for an eye" justice. Talionic law developed in societies that lacked stable state institutions, like Iceland and early England. As such, it was embedded in strong extended-family institutions that used … Continue reading Eye for an Eye: Retribution or Restitution?