Journal of Practical Ethics

Journal of Practical Ethics

The Journal of Practical Ethics is an open access journal in moral and political philosophy (and related areas), published by the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, located at the University of Oxford.

Our vision is to build an open access journal that will bring the best work in philosophy to bear on pressing issues of public, political or interdisciplinary interest. We believe that the ideas and arguments of many moral and political philosophers are of significant relevance to problems in contemporary life. Not only are these arguments of interest to a wide general public, but they are of relevance to many other academics, political and social leaders. However, there is less than optimal penetration of this philosophical work. It will aim to disseminate excellent research in practical and applied ethics to a broad, global audience comprised of both academic and non-academic readers, with high impact.

Every issue of the Journal of Practical Ethics is available online, free of charge. It is an invitation only, blind-peer-reviewed journal. It is entirely open access online, and print copies may be ordered at cost price via a print-on-demand service. Authors and reviewers are offered an honorarium. The Journal aims to bring the best in academic moral and political philosophy, applied to practical matters, to a broader student or interested public audience. It seeks to promote informed, rational debate, and is not tied to any one particular viewpoint. The Journal will present a range of views and conclusions within the analytic philosophy tradition. It is funded through the generous support of the Uehiro Foundation in Ethics and Education.

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Current Issue:Volume 5 Number 1. June 2017

Reflection on the historical injustice suffered by many formerly colonized groups has left us with a peculiar account of their claims to material objects. One important upshot of that account, relevant to present day justice, is that many people seem to think that members of indigenous groups have special claims to the use of particular external objects by virtue of their attachment to them. In the first part of this paper I argue against that attachment-based claim. In the second part I suggest that, to provide a normatively defensible account of why sometimes agents who are attached to certain external objects might also have special claims over them, the most important consideration is whether the agents making such claims suffer from structural injustice in the present. In the third part I try to explain why structural injustice matters, in what way attachment-based claims relate to it and when they count.

Existing institutions do not seem well-designed to address paradigmatically global, intergenerational and ecological problems, such as climate change. In particular, they tend to crowd out intergenerational concern, and thereby facilitate a “tyranny of the contemporary” in which successive generations exploit the future to their own advantage in morally indefensible ways (albeit perhaps unintentionally). Overcoming such a tyranny will require both accepting responsibility for the future and meeting the institutional gap. I propose that we approach the first in terms of a traditional “delegated responsibility” model of the transmission of individual responsibility to collectives, and the second with a call for a global constitutional convention focused on future generations. In this paper, I develop the delegated responsibility model by suggesting how it leads us to understand both past failures and prospective responsibility. I then briefly defend the call for a global constitutional convention.

This paper aims at bringing a new philosophical perspective to the current debate on the death penalty through a discussion of peculiar kinds of uncertainties that surround the death penalty. I focus on laying out the philosophical argument, with the aim of stimulating and restructuring the death penalty debate. I will begin by describing views about punishment that argue in favour of either retaining the death penalty (‘retentionism’) or abolishing it (‘abolitionism’). I will then argue that we should not ignore the so-called “whom-question”, i.e. “To whom should we justify the system of punishment?” I identify three distinct chronological stages to address this problem, namely, “the Harm Stage”, “the Blame Stage”, and “the Danger Stage”. I will also identify four problems arising from specific kinds of uncertainties present in current death penalty debates: (1) uncertainty in harm, (2) uncertainty in blame, (3) uncertainty in rights, and (4) uncertainty in causal consequences. In the course of examining these four problems, I will propose an ‘impossibilist’ position towards the death penalty, according to which the notion of the death penalty is inherently contradictory. Finally, I will suggest that it may be possible to apply this philosophical perspective to the justice system more broadly, in particular to the maximalist approach to restorative justice.

Past Issues

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The Greatest Vice?, Hugh LaFollette, pp 1-24

Ignorance, Humility and Vice, Cecile Fabre, pp 25-30

Humanity’s Collective Ownership of the Earth and Immigration, Mathias Risse, pp 31-66

Twenty Questions, Peter Singer, pp 67-78

Necessity and Liability: On an Honour-Based Justification for Defensive Harming, Joseph Bowen, pp 79-93

Consistent Vegetarianism and the Suffering of Wild Animals, Thomas M. Sittler-Adamczewski, pp 94-102

Dilemmas of Political Correctness, Dan Moller, pp 1-22
Offsetting Class Privilege, Holly Lawford-Smith, pp 23-51
Unjust Wars Worth Fighting For, Victor Tadros, pp 52-78
The Economics of Morality, Dillon Bowen, pp 80-103
Going Viral: Vaccines, Free Speech, and the Harm Principle, Miles Unterreiner, pp 104-120

Less Blame, Less Crime? The Practical Implications of Moral Responsibility Skepticism, Neil Levy, pp 1-17
Common Morality, Human Rights, and Multiculturalism in Japanese and American Bioethics, Tom L. Beauchamp, pp 18-35
Editorial: Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics Winning Essays, p 36
Should we Prohibit Breast Implants? Collective Moral Obligations in the Context of Harmful and Discriminatory Social Norms, Jessica Laimann, pp 37-60
How Should Vegans Live?, Xavier Cohen, pp 61-65

Cost Effectiveness Analysis and Fairness, F. M. Kamm, pp 1-14
The Elements of Well-Being, Brad Hooker, pp 15-35
Motives to Assist and Reasons to Assist: the Case of Global Poverty, Simon Keller, pp 37-63

How Theories of Well-Being Can Help Us Help, Valerie Tiberius, pp 1-19
What can we learn from happiness surveys?, Edward Skidelsky, pp 20-32
Indirect Discrimination Is Not Necessarily Unjust, Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, pp 33-57

Church-State Separation, Healthcare Policy, and Religious Liberty, Robert Audi, pp 1-23
Taking Humour (Ethics) Seriously, But Not Too Seriously, David Benatar, pp 24-43
Only X%: The Problem of Sex Equality, Janet Radcliffe-Richards, pp 44-67

Editorial: Introducing the Journal of Practical Ethics’ Podcast Series, Roger Crisp & Julian Savulescu, pp 1-2
The Morality of Reputation and the Judgment of Others, David S. Oderberg, pp 3-33
Moral Education in the Liberal State, Kyla Ebels-Duggan, pp 34-63
Motives and Markets in Health Care, Daniel Hausman, pp 64-84


Introducing the Journal of Practical Ethics, Roger Crisp & Julian Savulescu, pp 1-2
Associative Duties and the Ethics of Killing in War, Seth Lazar, pp 3-48
Biotechnology, Justice and Health, Ruth Faden & Madison Powers, pp 49-61
Situationism and Agency, Alfred R. Mele & Joshua Shepherd, pp 62-83
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