Är Italien farlig på grund av Mafia?

Det kan vara värt att säga nånting för att tydliggöra vad som egentligen innebär Mafia för en turist i Italien. Det finns tyvärr många missuppfattningar om ämnet och därför, som italienare, bestämde jag mig att svara på frågan: är Italien farlig på grund av Mafia?

Maffia (originell Mafia) är ett samlingsnamn för en organisation eller globalt nätverk av kriminella organisationer, som ägnar sig åt kriminell verksamhet och ekonomisk brottslighet, ofta blandad med lagliga affärsområden”. (cit. från Wikipedia).

Mafia finns bara i Sicilien. I andra regioner heter det faktisk annorlunda: Camorra i Kampanien (Kampanien är Napolis region), ‘n Drangheta i Kalabrien och Sacra Corona Unita i Apulien (Puglia, Baris region, tyvärr relativ okänt i Sverige, men välbekant bland tyskar till exempel på grund av en av de bästa kuster i världen).
Jag skulle säga att det viktigaste att veta som TURIST (eller potential turist) är att Mafia/Camorra/N Drangheta/Sacra Corona är farliga bara om man är en mafioso själv eller om man driver ett företag på platsen och betalar inte “skatt” (pizzo) till organisationen. Om man är en vanlig turist det finns verkligen ingenting att oroa sig. Jag skriver den här för de som tänker “Jag ska inte åka till Napoli eftersom det finns Mafia där” eller “Sicilien är farlig” etc…Nån gång hörde jag en svensk oroa sig och säga “Jag tänkte köpa ett hus i Puglia, men jag är rädd för att Mafia skulle råna i min lägenhet”. Den här upptagenheten är helt ogrundad. Mafia handlar vapen, droger, etc…och att råna i din lägenhet skulle vara helt olönsam.


Effective Altruists in praise of Sweatshops

An emerging new way of doing good is the one proposed by the advocates of Effective Altruism, the philosophical and social movement founded by Peter Singer and William MacAskill. As the name Effective Altruism suggests it is constituted of “two parts”[1]: altruism, by which is simply meant “improving the lives of others”[2] and effective by which is meant that the good that should be done it is not just “some good” or whatever amount of good, but “the most good with whatever resources you have”[3]. Typically, an effective altruist (or “aspiring effective altruist”)[4] is a person who donates to charity organisations in the most effective possible way in order to achieve the highest possible amount of good. Needless to say, whether and how it is possible to measure the effectiveness of a course of action or the success and effectiveness of a charity organisation is a matter of debate. Because of its consequence-based approach, EA is particularly compatible with a consequentialist ethical framework[5]. The movement sprung out of philosophy and relies on philosophical research in order, for example, to assess which causes and interventions should be prioritised and being able to effectively address pressing social issues of our time such as global poverty, famine, climate change, animal welfare and existential risk.

I will make an example to prove that Effective Altruism is not neutral, but it usually embraces liberalistic views on certain matters (such as sweatshops); I will also clarify that liberalistic views are usually unable to see the role played by different forms of social action (such as unionisations), but also institutions emanating social legislation and collective engagement in general; showing that EA, in a similar vein, is unable to see the contribution non-private actors and other political or social forces might give in doing good.

In Chapter 8 of his book Doing Good Better MacAskill examines the possibilities of individuals as private consumers in relation to sweatshops, Fairtrade, low-carbon living and vegetarianism[6]. What MacAskill believes every individual can actually do is:

– using her purchasing power to buy (or to boycott) products manufactured in sweatshops;

– donating (or not donating) to a charity recommended by EA;

– adopting a more environmental-friendly life-style which might include stopping buying animal products;

I will leave aside his discussion about vegetarianism and animal rights as well as his criticism against Fairtrade and I will focus on MacAskill’s argument in favour of sweatshops, which I think is the most relevant topic in Chapter 8 for showing what is wrong with Effective Altruism:


Sweatshops are factories in poor countries, typically in Asia or South America, that produce goods like textiles, toys, or electronics for rich countries under pretty horrific working conditions. Workers often face sixteen-hour-days, six or seven days a week. Sometimes they’re prohibited from taking meal or toilet breaks. Air conditioning is rare, so factories can be very hot. Health and safety considerations are commonly neglected and employers sometimes abuse their workers. Because conditions in sweatshops are so bad, many people have pledged to boycott goods produced in them […]. This movement has noble intentions: the people who campaign against sweatshops are justifiably horrified that people work in such awful conditions. However, those who attempt to combat sweatshops by refusing to buy goods produced in them are making the mistake of ignoring the key question […]: What would have happened otherwise? […] In developing countries, sweatshop jobs are the good jobs, the alternative are typically worse.[7]


It follows that boycotting products from sweatshops would actually harm those people whom we are supposed to help.

Continue reading Effective Altruists in praise of Sweatshops

About Intellectualism and Voluntarism

The thomist ethics shares with ancient philosophy the conviction that if someone knows what is good she cannot choose what is bad. Such a view, in fact, brings us back to the Socratic account of virtue according to which human beings are incapable to do harm as long as they have (intellectual) knowledge of what is virtuous (Protagoras, 357c–358d). The view that is the intellect the driving force behind human action was largely prevalent until the 14th century. Such a view in the middle age relied on the reception of the Aristotle´s theory of cognition[1] and implied, among other things, a certain passivity of the human mind and the idea that humans have a fixed nature: are necessarily designed to make the “good choice”. All the other choices are seen as “deviations” from the sanity and integrity of the “illuminated” intellect. This is not tenable from a psychological and practical point of view. Indeed, at that time some Franciscans scholars such as Olivi and Ockham already suggested another account of the relation between virtue and knowledge: the idea that “people can will to do what they recognize as evil”[2]. Interestingly, their emphasis on the freedom of human’s will can be related to the emphasis they put on the freedom of God’s will (the Ockhamian distinction between potentia ordinata and potentia absoluta was considered by some thinkers almost heretical as it was equated with the destruction of all certainties[3]). But perhaps even more importantly, in this way the central role of Aristotelian “unmoved mover” (God) is, at least at some extent, undermined: the will, according to Olivi, is in fact moved by itself: God ceases to be the only self-mover. And the will is undetermined. In conjunction with this, Olivi´s understanding of modalities contemplates the logical possibilities of different options at the same time.[4] Some considerations about the ethical consequences of the intellectualist view and the voluntarist reaction are needed. With the intellectualist view all sins could be traced back to a “cognitive error”. It followed that moral responsibility were undermined. On the contrary, with the voluntarist view human beings gain the freedom of choosing the “evil” and, with this, the possibility of paying the consequences of their own actions not on the ground that they are (once and for all) sinners who did not receive or find the God’s grace and “illumination”[5], but on the ground that they might have made a “wrong” (contingent) choice in a given circumstance whereas the distinction between “right” and “wrong” is blurred. This view, especially from a modern point of view, seems to be more tenable and more psychologically plausible: leaving aside the problem of what is the good and the evil, what is certain is that the “voluntarist” account opens up a wider range of possibilities for the individual as much as for her ethical and political dimension. Needless to say, the idea that the present divine order is not the only possible one (nor necessarily the best possible one) could represent a theoretical treat not only against the traditional way of conceiving divine order, but potentially against any political terrestrial order too. The voluntarist view sounds more realistic because today most of us take for granted that when it comes to political orders many possibilities at the same time do always exist. What is more, voluntarist ethics seems to suggest that “evil” is not to be considered an end, but rather a mean that can be chosen by free will[6] to achieve a concrete end. Paradoxically, the separation between virtue and knowledge that the voluntarist account implies instead of understanding the person in terms of a more irrational impulse (the will, for example), does “rationalize” the person: does start to consider the individual as a being with different desires and (often contradictory) volitions, but at the same time does also consider the same individual as a being capable of doing any possible choice.


Thus, the shift was not only from “ascetic” illumination to individual free will and responsibility, but also from blessedness of an inner condition (where virtue, knowledge and self-knowledge were equivalent) to the effect that an action can produce externally. Voluntarism was the first step toward the idea that the individual can act for her own perceived self-interests against the “natural” order and in many different ways.

[1] John, Marenbon. Medieval Philosophy: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction, Abingdon: Routledge, 2007. p. 279.

[2] Ibid., p. 304.

[3] Ibid., p. 303.

[4] Ibid., p. 280.

[5] One of the problems with the intellectualist account and idea of illumination is the tendency to reduce the sinner to her sin and, consequently, to think that there are good persons rather than good actions.

[6] However, it is not clear to me at what extent can the voluntarist “free will” be related to the modern ideal of rational free will ‘s decision making individual.

Matteo Iammarrone.