Freedom

October 28th, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Freedom is generally described as a state absent of coercion, interference or determination by any internal or external force or authority. The concept of freedom can be applied to many (or most) spheres of human activity, including political, economic, relational and metaphysical realms. The most popular ideas of freedom are perhaps best explicated by British philosopher Isaiah Berlin; he distinguished between two fundamental types: negative and positive. Negative freedom is typically most associated with political freedom, that is, freedom from coercion, interference, or determination by other agents or institutions. Positive freedom, ...

Free Market

October 28th, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

A Free Market is a market free from governmental regulation and intervention (in the form of tariffs, regulatory codes, workers’ and environmental rights, etc.) except to enforce contracts and protect property rights. A free market is allegedly “self-regulated,” ethically speaking, by market participants (firms, owners, workers, buyers, sellers, etc.) associating on the basis of non-coercion and mutual consent. Contemporary free market theory was espoused and most strongly advocated for by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Friedman built upon the work of Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, and believed that free ...

Free Will

October 28th, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Free will is described as the capacity for rational agents (namely humans) to choose one course of action over other possible alternatives. The main questions around Free Will are: (1) Do we have it? (2) If we do have it, to what extent? (3) If we do not have it, what are the alternatives? These questions have proven significant to moral philosophers because Free Will is often viewed as a precondition for moral responsibility. Some philosophers, such as Rene Descartes and Jean Paul Sartre, have argued for the position of radical ...

Buddhist Ethics

October 28th, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Buddhism is a spiritual tradition founded in India around 500 BCE by Prince Siddartha Gautama, later to become Gautama Buddha (‘Buddha’ meaning “awakened one” in Sanskrit). Most Buddhist traditions (the main two being Theravada and Mahayana) share a common ethical code for lay followers, while monastic codes tend to vary by region and tradition. The common ethical principles of Buddhism were articulated by Gautama Buddha. They include the Five Precepts (or virtues) and three of the eight points on the Noble ...

Intuitionists

October 3rd, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Intuitionists, as proponents of this theory are sometimes called, support their theory by pointing to several sources of evidence. For example, moral reasoning often comes ‘after the fact’ in moral judgments.  In other words, we often come to moral judgments quickly, on the basis of a first impression or intuition, and provide reasons or a rationalization for our judgments only after the judgment has occurred. Moreover, it seems that there are cases in which people – psychopaths, for instance, who show a deficit in affective emotions like shame, grief, and sympathy – ...

Moral Sense, Theory of

October 3rd, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Proponents of the theory of moral sense claim that the basis of morality is in moral sentiments, or a special moral sense.  To put it another way, we intuitively perceive things to be moral or immoral with what might be called “a sense for the moral,” just as we use our sense of hearing to perceive sounds and our sense of smell to perceive odors. Classically, versions of this position were argued by several notable philosophers of the early modern period, including Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Adam Smith, the renowned ...

Corporations, Moral Status of

October 3rd, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Do corporations, like people, have moral responsibility?  What, to put it more broadly, is the moral status of a corporation?  These questions have received various responses from a variety of thinkers, some of which will be discussed here. Corporations are a special kind of entity.  Although they are not persons, they have the same legal rights as persons in the United States, and these rights are protected under the 14th Amendment.  This fact is uncontroversial.  There is, however, some controversy and disagreement as to what follows from this peculiar legal arrangement ...

Generosity

October 3rd, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

Generosity, which might best be described as a disposition to give freely or overflowing goodwill, is a traditional virtue.  The term ‘generosity’ is derived from the Latin word generositas, which means ‘noble-mindedness,’ and is associated with the Greek notion of magnanimity, or ‘greatness of soul.’ In various religious traditions – both Western and non-Western, generosity plays a key, if not central role.  In Buddhist thought, for example, the concept of dāna, which is commonly translated as generosity or giving, is among the most basic and important virtues. Confucius, perhaps the greatest non-Western ...

Insider Trading

October 3rd, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

The practice of buying and selling securities on the basis of information that is not available to the public is known as insider trading.  It is illegal and, because it violates principles of fairness, it is also immoral. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) identifies detection and prosecution of insider trading as an enforcement priority, explaining that  “” Indeed, the basis of the illegality and immorality of insider trading is that it undermines the fairness; since insider traders make transactions with the use of information of information that is not available ...

Value in the Markets

October 3rd, 2010 by in Dictionary, Moral Terms

In the world of finance, generating wealth is undeniably among the driving values, if not the chief value.  Yet regardless of the extent to which the value of generation of wealth is highlighted, it is not, nor can it be, the only value in the market.  After all, fairness and honesty are presuppositions of a functioning free market, as is liberty.  Without these ‘action-guiding’ values, the free market system cannot stand. But values like fairness, honesty, and liberty, which enable a thriving market, are not the sole values in the market.  ...