Skip to content

communication ethics

The Daft Discussion of Dangerous Dogs

Written by Rebecca Brown

Breed Specific Legislation

The UK currently imposes what’s called ‘Breed Specific Legislation’ in an effort to limit serious injuries due to dog attacks. The legislation was introduced in 1991 and made it illegal to own, sell, abandon, give away or breed dogs deemed to belong to one of four banned breeds. These are the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro. These breeds, having been selectively bred for purposes such as fighting, hunting and guarding, and are considered to have physical and behavioural attributes that mean they pose an unacceptable risk to the public. Dogs that meet the criteria for being a banned breed can be seized and either destroyed or permitted to remain with their owner under restrictive conditions. Breed specific legislation has been recently criticised in a number of organisations.

I do not intend to defend Breed Specific Legislation. It’s plausible that there are alternative, more effective and less damaging ways of reducing harm from dog attacks. However, many of the critiques of Breed Specific Legislation made by prominent animal charities and veterinary bodies are flawed. In pursuing what they no doubt see as a worthwhile end (the scrapping of Breed Specific Legislation), those publicly lobbying for change have made numerous confused and misleading arguments. Below, I outline why these arguments are misleading, implausible or weak, and how they fail to show that Breed Specific Legislation should be revoked.

Read More »The Daft Discussion of Dangerous Dogs

In Defense of Obfuscation

Written by Mette Leonard Høeg

At the What’s the Point of Moral Philosophy congress held at the University of Oxford this summer, there was near-consensus among the gathered philosophers that clarity in moral philosophy and practical ethics is per definition good and obscurity necessarily bad. Michael J.  Zimmerman explicitly praised clarity and accessibility in philosophical writings and criticised the lack of those qualities in especially continental philosophy, using some of Sartre’s more recalcitrant writing as a cautionary example (although also conceding that a similar lack of coherence can occasionally be found in analytical philosophy too). This seemed to be broadly and whole-heartedly supported by the rest of the participants.

Read More »In Defense of Obfuscation

Epistemic Diligence and Honesty

Written by Rebecca Brown

All else being equal, it is morally good for agents to be honest. That is, agents shouldn’t, without good reason, engage in non-honest behaviours such as lying, cheating or stealing. What counts as a ‘good reason’ will vary depending on your preferred ethical theory. For instance, Kant (in)famously insisted that even if a murderer is at the door seeking out their victim you mustn’t lie to them in order to protect the victim’s life. A rule utilitarian, in contrast, might endorse lies that can generally be expected to maximise expected utility (including, presumably, lying to murderers about the whereabouts of their intended victims).

What will actually count as being dishonest will vary depending on your preferred conception of honesty. If honesty has very extensive requirements, failure to volunteer relevant information when you know someone would find it useful might be a failure of honesty. On a narrower account, perhaps even ‘paltering’ – misleading by telling the truth – might not count as dishonest so long as what the agent says is technically true.Read More »Epistemic Diligence and Honesty