of these essays were written with a view of being publish’d as , and were intended to comprehend the Designs both of the and . But having dropt that Undertaking, partly from , partly from of , and being willing to make a Trial of my Talents for Writing, before I ventur’d upon any more serious Compositions, I was induced to commit these Trifles to the Judgment of the Public. Like most new Authors, I must confess, I feel some Anxiety concerning the Success of my Work: But one Thing makes me more secure, That the may condemn my Abilities, but, I hope, will approve of my Moderation and Impartiality in my Method of handling : And as long as my Moral Character is in Safety, I can, with less Concern, abandon my Learning and Capacity to the most severe Censure and Examination. Public Spirit, methinks, shou’d engage us to love the Public, and to bear an equal Affection to all our Country-Men; not to hate one Half of them, under Colour of loving the Whole. This I have endeavour’d to repress, as far as possible; and I hope this Design will be acceptable to the moderate of both Parties; at the same Time, that, perhaps, it may displease the Bigots of both.
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Drawing Morals вЂ“ Essays in Moral Theory. range of topics in moral philosophy from population ethics to more abstract value theory, the notion of desert
Harm or wrongdoing by conglomerates must be analyzed differently, because these groups are organizational entities that possess decision procedures and leadership features. Where to draw the line between conglomerates, which French and others believe can be held morally responsible, independently of individual member responsibility, and those which are more like aggregates will depend on the factors of size, the degree of organizational complexity, and the level of the members' joint commitment to shared goals and values. Some conglomerates, such as clubs, teams, and local charities and service groups possess intentions which are expressions of aggregated individual goals and values. For Margaret Gilbert (2000), a group intention is present when members “are jointly committed to intending as a body to do A”. In the case of borderline conglomerates, a group's structure will play a significant role in shaping its actions, and this is an important factor in making judgments concerning degrees of individual responsibility and blameworthiness for harm caused by the group. Leaders in the group should normally bear more responsibility than followers.
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Finally, one decisive test of the low-empathy-makes-bad-people theory would be to study a group of people who lack empathy but also lack the other traits associated with psychopathy. Such individuals do exist. Baron-Cohen notes that people with Asperger syndrome and autism typically have low cognitive empathy—they struggle to understand the minds of others—and have low emotional empathy as well. (As with psychopaths, there is some controversy about whether they are incapable of empathy or choose not to deploy it.) Despite their empathy deficit, such people show no propensity for exploitation and violence. Indeed, they often have strong moral codes and are more likely to be victims of cruelty than perpetrators.
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This final arrangement subsumes various conceptions of collective responsibility that defend the form of collective moral responsibility which is independent of any or all a group's membership. Feinberg uses the example of a philosophy department that fails to honor its commitment to supervise a student's dissertation after two faculty members who agreed to do so are no longer part of the department. The department reneged on its commitment, because no remaining members were willing to read the student's thesis. This is a case where the department as a department is morally responsible for the failure to keep its promise to a student, and its structure is faulty for having no mechanism in place to deal with situations such as this. As a conglomerate, the department's identity should be capable of surviving changes in its membership and if its decision making procedure is intact, it should also be capable of making arrangements to keep its commitments to the student regardless of departmental membership changes.
A conglomerate is often referred to as an organization. Conglomerates have internal structures, such as procedures for making decisions and for accepting new members. French notes that this level of organization has a degree of solidarity that makes it possible for group identity to be more than simply the sum of its members at any particular time. Organizational structure makes it possible to preserve group identity as membership changes. Conglomerates have what Meir Dan-Cohen refers to as “temporal independence” (1986, p.32) and can operate in a time span which extends into both past and future beyond the spans of individual members. Conglomerate collectives include large complex formal organizations, such as giant corporations, universities, and governmental bureaucracies, as well as smaller local organizations of various sorts. Morally, the actions of conglomerates and ascriptions of moral responsibility are not reducible or distributed to individual members. They are borne by the group as a whole. Larry May (1992) has identified what he calls a “putative group”. It falls between aggregates and conglomerates, because a putative group is an aggregate which possesses the potential leadership and solidarity necessary to set up the kind of structure and decision procedures that would qualify it as a conglomerate.
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He now refers to corporations as moral actors, not moral persons, but continues to hold a functionalist account of the capacities of moral actors, including the ability to act intentionally and be morally responsible. He also changed his account of acting intentionally from the more traditional desire/belief model to a planning model of intention. A key element of his position is that corporations and other formal organizations possess internal decision structures which make corporate decisions and actions possible. By coordinating, subordinating, and synthesizing the actions and intentions of various individual members of the organization, the structure transforms them into a corporate action taken for truly corporate reasons. The decision structure also makes it possible for corporations to adjust and respond constructively after being morally blamed.