James R. Otteson
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Actual Ethics offers a moral defense of the 'classical liberal' political tradition and applies it to several of today's vexing moral and political issues. James Otteson argues that a Kantian conception of personhood and an Aristotelian conception of judgment are compatible and even complementary. He shows why they are morally attractive, and perhaps most controversially, when combined, they imply a limited, classical liberal political state. Otteson then addresses several contemporary problems - wealth and poverty, public education, animal welfare, and affirmative action - and shows how each can be plausibly addressed within the Kantian, Aristotelian and classical liberal framework. Written in clear, engaging, and jargon-free prose, Actual Ethics will give students and general audiences an overview of a powerful and rich moral and political tradition that they might not otherwise consider.
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used in such courses. What does not exist, however, is a book that takes up many of the same issues and addresses them in a similarly nontechnical, readable way but that does not defend the same positions. This book is intended to be just such an alternative. That does not mean that this is an attempt to refute Singer point by point: that would be as tedious to read as it would have been to write. The subjects of concern in this book and in Singer’s overlap, but they also diverge in a number of
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speculator and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him. (p. 202) Sumner goes on to argue that C, the “forgotten man,” is the poor stiff who does everything right: he works hard, saves his money, lives within 10 the Ponzi scheme continues to work on the ‘rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul’ principle, as money from new investors is used to pay off earlier investors until the whole scheme
back at least to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–22 b.c.). What distinguishes a person’s interests from those of dogs, mice, and oak trees, however, is that they 6 See Robert S. Taylor, “A Kantian Defense of Self-Ownership.” 8 Working Out the Position are, or can be, deliberate and intentional. Oak trees’ purposes, if they have them—and modern biology has tended to steer away from ascribing purposes to things in nature—would have been given to them by something else, such as God