May, Larry 1952-
May, Larry 1952-
Born April 26, 1952, in Pittsburgh, PA; son of Lawrence S. and Frances J. May; married Marilyn Friedman, February 8, 1988; children: Elizabeth Nicole. Education: Georgetown University, B.S. F.S., 1973; New School for Social Research, M.A., 1976, Ph.D., 1977; Washington University, J.D., 2000.
Office—Department of Philosophy, Box 1073, Washington University, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail—[email protected]
University of Connecticut, Storrs, assistant professor, 1977-79; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 1979-91, began as assistant professor, became professor of philosophy; Washington University, St. Louis, MO, professor of philosophy, 1991—. Visiting assistant professor of philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1979. Research Professor of Social Justice, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt and Australian National Universities, 2007-11. Consultant, Indiana State Senate, Indianapolis, 1981. Member of ethics committee, St. Louis Children's Hospital, 1991.
American Philosophical Association.
Received grants from Exxon Education Foundation, 1982, Eli Lilly Endowment, 1990, 1991, National Science Foundation, 1993-95, and Kemper Education Fund, 1997; award for best book in social philosophy, North American Society for Social Philosophy, and honorable mention, American Society of International Law, both for Crimes against Humanity: A Normative Account; Frank Chapman Sharp Prize for best book on the philosophy of war and peace, American Philosophical Association, for War Crimes and Just Wars.
(With Martin Curd) Professional Responsibility for Harmful Actions, Kendall/Hunt (Dubuque, IA), 1984.
The Morality of Groups: Collective Responsibility, Group-based Harm, and Corporate Rights, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1987.
Sharing Responsibility, University of Chicago Press (Chicago IL), 1992.
The Socially Responsive Self: Social Theory and Professional Ethics, University of Chicago Press (Chicago IL), 1996.
Masculinity and Morality, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1998.
(With Peggy DesAutels and Margaret Pabst Battin) Praying for a Cure: When Medical and Religious Practices Conflict, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1999.
Aggression and Crimes against Peace, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2008.
(With Stacey Hoffman) Collective Responsibility: Five Decades of Debate in Theoretical and Applied Ethics, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham MD), 1991.
(With Robert Strikwerda) Rethinking Masculinity: Philosophical Explorations in Light of Feminism, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham MD), 1992, 2nd edition, edited with Robert Strikwerda and Patrick Hopkins, 1996.
(With Shari Sharratt) Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1994, 2nd edition, edited with Shari Collins-Chobanian and Kai Wong, 1997, 4th edition, 2006.
(With Marilyn Friedman and Andy Clark) Mind and Morals: Essays on Cognitive Science and Ethics, Bradford Books/MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
(With Jerome Kohn) Hannah Arendt: Twenty Years Later, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
(With Christine Sistare and Jonathan Schonsheck) Liberty, Equality, and Plurality, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1997.
(With Nancy Snow and Angela Bolte) Legal Philosophy: Multiple Perspectives, Mayfield Publishing Co. (Mountain View, CA), 2000.
(With Marilyn Friedman, Kate Parsons, and Jennifer Stiff) Rights and Reason: Essays in Honor of Carl Wellman, Kluwer Publishers (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 2000.
(With Christine Sistare and Leslie Francis) Groups and Group Rights, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2001.
(With Eric Rovie and Steve Viner) The Morality of War, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 2006.
(With Emily Crookston) War: Essays in Political Philosophy, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2008.
(With Jeff Brown) Philosophy of Law: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Blackwell Publishing Co. (Oxford, England), 2009.
Contributor of articles to books, festschrifts, and other collections, including Beyond Whistleblowing: Defining Engineers' Responsibilities; Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Ethics in Engineering, edited by Vivian Weil, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL), 1983; Agriculture, Change and Human Values: Proceedings of a Multidisciplinary Conference, edited by Richard Haynes, University of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1984; Profits and Responsibility, edited by Patricia Werhane and Kendall D'Andrade, Edwin Mellen Press (New York, NY), 1985; Moral Dilemmas: Philosophical and Psychological Issues in the Development of Moral Reasoning, edited by Carol Harding, Precedent Publishing, Inc. (Chicago, IL), 1985; Shame and Corporation, edited by Hugh Curtler, Haven Publications (New York, NY), 1986; Freedom, Equality and Social Change: Problems in Social Philosophy Today, edited by James Sterba and Creighton Pedon, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston NY), 1989; Professional Ethics and Social Responsibility, edited by Daniel Wueste, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1994; Bringing Peace Home, edited by Karen Warren and Duane L. Cady, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1996; Social Ethics, edited by Hugh LaFollette, Blackwell (London, England), 1996; Contemporary Moral Issues, edited by Julie McDonald, Wadsworth Publishing Co. (Belmont, CA), 1997; Individual and Collective Responsibility, edited by Peter French, Schenkman Books (New York, NY), 1998; Morality and Moral Controversies, edited by John Arthur, Prentice-Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 5th edition, 1998; Moral Issues in Global Perspective, edited by Christine Koggel, Broadview Press, 1999; The Spectrum of Responsibility, edited by Peter French, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991; Moral Rights in the Workplace, edited by Gertrude Ezorsky and James Nickel, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1987; Values and Moral Standing, edited by Thomas Attig and L.W. Sumner, Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH), 1987; Hobbes's Science of Natural Justice, edited by Craig Walton and Paul Johnson, Martinus Nijhoff Publishing Co. (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 1987; Ethics in the History of Western Philosophy, edited by Robert J. Cavalier, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989; The Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Lawrence Becker, Garland Publishing Co., 1992; Radical Critiques of the Law, edited by Stephen Griffin, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1997; Men Doing Feminism, edited by Tom Digby, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998; Norms and Values: Essays in Honor of Virginia Held, edited by Joram Graf Haber and Mark Halfon, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1998; William Shaw and Vincent Barry, Moral Issues in Business, Wadsworth Publishing Co. (Belmont, CA), 1989; Ethical Issues in the Professions, edited by Peter Windt et al, Prentice-Hall, Inc. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1989; Tom Beauchamp, Ethical Theory and Business, Prentice-Hall, Inc. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1992; Critical Assessments of Thomas Hobbes, edited by Preston King, Routledge (New York, NY), 1992; Sexual Harassment: Confrontations and Decisions, edited by Edmund Wall, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1993; Business Ethics: A Philosophical Reader, edited by Thomas I. White, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993; Allan Buchanan and others, Cases and Readings in Markets, Ethics, and Law, Ginn Press, 1994; Philosophy of Law, edited by Joel Feinberg and Hyman Gross, 5th edition, Wadsworth Publishing Co. (Belmont CA), 1995; World Hunger and Morality, edited by William Aiken and Hugh LaFollette, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1996; Applied Ethics in American Society, edited by Diane Michelfelder and William H. Wilcox, Harcourt Brace (San Francisco, CA), 1997; Gender Basics: Feminist Perspectives on Women and Men, edited by Anne Minas, Wadsworth Publishing Co. (Belmont, CA), 1999; A Most Detestable Crime: New Philosophical Essays on Rape, edited by Keith Burgess-Jackson, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999; Contemporary Moral Issues, edited by Lawrence Hinman, Prentice-Hall, Inc. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1999, 3rd edition, 2005; Gender Basics, edited by Anne Minas, Wadsworth Publishing Co. (Belmont, CA), 2000; Life Sciences Ethics, edited by Gary Comstock, Iowa State University Press, 2001; Dilemmas of Reconciliation, edited by Trudy Govier, Wilfrid Laurier University Press (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), 2002; Crimes against Humanity, edited by Charles Jones, McGill/Queens University Press (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), 2004; Engineering Ethics, edited by Michael Davis, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005; Universal Human Rights, edited by David Reidy and Tim Sellers, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2005; Hobbes on Law, edited by Claire Finkelstein, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005; Intervention, Terrorism, and Torture, edited by Steven P. Lee, Springer Verlag, 2006; Genocide's Aftermath, edited by Claudia Card and Armen T. Marsoobian, Blackwell Publishing (Oxford, England), 2007; Gathering Threats: Moral Perspectives on Preventive War, edited by Deen Chaterjee and Don Scheid, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2008; and Human Rights after 9/11, edited by George Andreopolous, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.
Editor, with Marilyn Friedman, Ethics, July, 1995; guest editor, Studies in the History of Ethics, spring, 2006, and, with Raimo Tuomela, Journal of Social Philosophy, special issue on "Collective Responsibility," fall, 2007. Contributor of articles to journals, including Thoughts on Politics, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Social Theory and Practice, Journal of Value Inquiry, Philosophy in Context, Business and Professional Ethics Journal, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Ohio State Law Journal, Proceedings of the Ohio Philosophical Association, Journal of Business Ethics, Social Research, Nous, Journal of Social Philosophy, Hobbes Studies, Hypatia, Clinical Laboratory Management Review, Hastings Center Report, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Journal of the Missouri Bar, St. Louis University Law Journal, International Legal Theory, Ethics and International Affairs, International Journal of Applied Ethics, Studies in the History of Ethics, Metaphilosophy, Journal of Political Philosophy, and Social Philosophy Today.
Washington University in St. Louis philosophy professor Larry May specializes in the study of group dynamics, including collective moral responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. His genre of work has become especially important in the past two decades, when wars based on local and ethnic differences have sprung up all around the world. Large-scale wars—mostly between European nations or their colonies—had set the norm in global conflicts for about two hundred years. These wars were run according to rules worked out between the Europeans, rules that included consensuses about the treatment of prisoners and civilian populations. In the late twentieth century, however, those rules either collapsed or began to be ignored in the spread of ethnic and religiously based wars the world over. The challenge for scholars like May is whether nations can develop a new consensus on rules for belligerents, even when those fighting define themselves not as citizens of a nation, but as members of a religious, racial, or ethnic group. A related question is whether it is still possible to come to an agreement about what actions are acceptable and ethical in a time of conflict. May addresses these questions, and others, in books like The Morality of Groups: Collective Responsibility, Group-based Harm, and Corporate Rights, Sharing Responsibility, War Crimes and Just Wars, and Crimes against Humanity: A Normative Account.
In Sharing Responsibility, Gregory Mellema stated in the American Political Science Quarterly, May develops a theory of collective, or "social," responsibility, based in part on postwar existentialism. "May argues persuasively," Mellema declared, "that it is sometimes possible for people to be responsible for attitudes they hold even when these attitudes are not at a given time fully within their control. Moreover, they can be responsible for harms brought about by holding these attitudes. Thus, when racial violence occurs as the result of the racial attitudes that several people hold, one can hold them responsible for this violence even if they are not fully capable of changing their racial attitudes at the time and even if they themselves do not actually participate in the violence." This means that the concept of social responsibility affects institutions outside of warfare: it can be applied to domestic violence, medical ethics, and hate crimes. "A running theme of May's book," wrote Margaret Walker in the Hastings Center Report, "is responsibility for moral negligence, for acting and failing to act in ways that risk harm, knowingly or out of culpable (because corrigible) ignorance. We are and should feel accountable for tolerating our own morally lax or flawed character, contributing to a morally malignant or desensitizing or irresponsible ‘attitudinal climate,’ or failing to reckon adequately with our institutional or professional roles or impacts." "We stand responsible for failures of awareness, insensitivities, and unexamined habits, traits, allegiances, and identifications," Walter concluded, "that dispose us to moral failure."
Crimes against Humanity is May's "attempt to provide a philosophically sound justification for determining individual criminal liability at international law for crimes against humanity," explained Christopher B. Gray, writing for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. "This is an exercise in legal philosophy, not law or the moral philosophy of these wrongs. The book stresses that this effort is normative, which means that its conclusions do not rest upon consent or contract, acceptance or practice, for their force, but upon moral principles which May works out." May's philosophy is based on law, rather than on right, and he emphasizes the importance of concepts like jurisdiction and the rights of the accused. "Activists often chide states for not taking international criminal law seriously enough, for not being sufficiently aggressive in preventing and punishing international crimes," wrote David H. Evine in Social Theory and Practice. "It is entirely understandable … that people working to assure that perpetrators of the most egregious human rights abuses, such as genocide, torture, and systematic rape, would have little patience for the sorts of technicalities that might bog down prosecutions and even allow criminals to walk away. But taking international criminal law seriously as an institution means taking just as much care with the ‘technicalities’ of proper jurisdiction and defendants' rights as the best domestic systems of law."
One of the key concepts in drawing the line between crimes against humanity and simple acts committed while in a state of war, according to May in Crimes against Humanity, is the question of sovereignty. "Crimes against humanity raise especially difficult questions in international law," the author wrote in an Ethics & International Affairs article, "since they are crimes that can be committed completely within one state's borders by members of that state against other members of that same state." Can perpetrators of these crimes be prosecuted under international law? The default position for such actions is that they should be prosecuted in the courts of the country in which the offenses occurred—unless those courts can no longer operate. "The very idea of a crime against humanity," May continued, "challenges the traditional understanding of a state's exclusive prerogative over crimes committed within its borders."
War Crimes and Just Wars, declared Brian Orend in Ethics & International Affairs, is "a detailed, theoretically rich, and clearly written monograph, penned by an expert both in just war theory and domestic and international criminal law." It discusses the ancient concept of jus in bello (justice in warfare), drawing on the work of a variety of thinkers including the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca and the seventeenth-century Dutch writer Hugo Grotius. May's "view is that the principle of treating the other side, whether soldier or civilian, in a merciful and humane fashion (to the extent one can amidst war), is what unites the many rules and laws of war, such as discrimination, necessity, and proportionality. Observance of these rules and laws—that is, acting humanely—is what constitutes a warrior's honor." In this interpretation actions like violence against civilians and torture violate the concept of "just war"—a concept that is pertinent to the American war in Iraq, because of violations of the rights of prisoners in venues like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. "War Crimes and Just Wars remains an excellent book—a pleasure to read," Orend concluded, "and one of the very few to consider searchingly the deepest moral and political roots of just war theory and the international laws of armed conflict."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, September 1, 1997, Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, review of The Socially Responsive Self: Social Theory and Professional Ethics, p. 491.
American Political Science Review, March 1, 1994, Gregory Mellema, review of Sharing Responsibility, p. 216.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 1993, B.J. Gray, review of Sharing Responsibility; July 1, 1996, D.R.C. Reed, review of Mind and Morals: Essays on Cognitive Science and Ethics; January 1, 1997, review of Hannah Arendt: Twenty Years Later, p. 808; March 1, 1998, review of Liberty, Equality, and Plurality, p. 1204; September 1, 1998, G. Pech, review of Masculinity and Morality, p. 172; December 1, 2005, M.D. Crosston, review of Crimes against Humanity: A Normative Account, p. 737; March 1, 2008, M.D. Crosston, review of War Crimes and Just Wars, p. 1235.
Constitutional Commentary, June 22, 1989, Michael Levin, review of The Morality of Groups: Collective Responsibility, Group-based Harm, and Corporate Rights, p. 523.
Dissent, January 1, 2007, "Enforcing Human Rights," p. 130.
Ethics, January 1, 1990, Louis G. Lombardi, review of The Morality of Groups, p. 446; July 1, 1993, Kenneth Kipnis, review of Collective Responsibility: Five Decades of Debate in Theoretical and Applied Ethics, p. 845; July 1, 1994, Paul M. Hughes, review of Rethinking Masculinity: Philosophical Explorations in Light of Feminism, p. 937; July 1, 1994, Cheshire Calhoun, review of Sharing Responsibility, p. 890; January 1, 1997, G.F. Schueler, review of Mind and Morals, p. 349; July 1, 1997, review of Hannah Arendt, p. 765; April 1, 1999, S.J.M., review of Hannah Arendt, p. 699; April 1, 2000, Darin R. Nesbitt, review of Liberty, Equality, and Plurality, p. 621; January 1, 2001, Alan H. Goldman, review of The Socially Responsive Self, p. 432; April 1, 2001, E.D.P., review of Praying for a Cure: When Medical and Religious Practices Conflict, p. 663; July 1, 2001, Paul M. Hughes, review of Masculinity and Morality, p. 814.
Ethics & International Affairs, September 1, 2006, review of Crimes against Humanity, p. 349; September 1, 2006, "Beyond Moral Minimalism," p. 353; December 22, 2007, "The Rules of War," p. 471.
Hastings Center Report, January 1, 1997, Margaret Walker, review of Sharing Responsibility.
Journal of Business Ethics, October 1, 1989, J. Angelo Corlett, review of The Morality of Groups, p. 772.
Journal of Peace Research, November 1, 2006, Pablo Kalmanovitz, review of Crimes against Humanity, p. 755.
Library Journal, February 15, 1998, David Gordon, review of Masculinity and Morality, p. 163.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, spring, 1998, William H. Shlaes, review of The Socially Responsive Self, p. 453.
Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 1997, Burnet V. Davis, review of The Socially Responsive Self, p. 240.
Political Theory, February 1, 1997, Ann M. Lane, review of Hannah Arendt, p. 137.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 1996, review of Hannah Arendt, p. 47; February 1, 1998, review of Liberty, Equality, and Plurality, p. 95; May 1, 2002, review of Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach, 3rd edition, p. 10.
Review of Metaphysics, September 1, 1989, Jude P. Dougherty, review of The Morality of Groups, p. 176; December 1, 1997, Neal Fuller, review of The Socially Responsive Self, p. 430.
Social Theory and Practice, January 1, 2006, Daniel H. Levine, review of Crimes against Humanity, p. 155.
Teaching Philosophy, March 1, 2002, Edmund F. Byrne, review of Praying for a Cure, p. 75; June 1, 2004, Lisa H. Schwartzman, review of Groups and Group Rights, p. 184.
Yale Journal of International Law, January 1, 2006, Brittan Heller, review of Crimes against Humanity, p. 296.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews,http://ndpr.nd.edu/ (August 21, 2008), Christopher B. Gray, review of Crimes against Humanity.
University of South Florida Web site,http://www.stpt.usf.edu/ (August 21, 2008), author profile.
Washington University in St. Louis, Philosophy Department,http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/ (August 21, 2008), "Larry May."