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Meta-Ethics

Edited by Daniel Star (Boston University)
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  1. added 2015-07-28
    Bruno Guindon (forthcoming). Sources, Reasons, and Requirements. Philosophical Studies.
    This paper offers two competing accounts of normative requirements, each of which purports to explain why some—but not all—requirements are normative in the sense of being related to normative reasons in some robust way. According to the reasons-sensitive view, normative requirements are those and only those which are sensitive to normative reasons. On this account, normative requirements are second-order statements about what there is conclusive reason to do, in the broad sense of the term. According to the reasons-providing view—which I (...)
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  2. added 2015-07-27
    Daniel J. Singer (forthcoming). Mind the Is-Ought Gap. Journal of Philosophy.
    The is-ought gap is Hume’s claim that we can’t get an ‘ought’ from just ’is’s. Prior (1960a) showed that its most straight-forward formulation, a staple of introductory philosophy classes, fails. Many authors attempt to resurrect the claim by restricting its domain syntactically or by reformulating it in terms of models of deontic logic. But, those attempts prove to be complex, incomplete, or incorrect. I provide a simple reformulation of the is-ought gap that closely fits Hume’s description of it. My formulation (...)
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  3. added 2015-07-27
    Abraham Graber (2014). Expressivism and Humans as Cognitive Superbeings. American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (2).
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  4. added 2015-07-25
    Ittay Nissan-Rozen (forthcoming). Against Moral Hedging. Economics and Philosophy.
    It has been argued by several philosophers that a morally motivated rational agent who has to make decisions under conditions of moral uncertainty ought to maximize expected moral value in his choices, where the expectation is calculated relative to the agent's moral uncertainty. I present a counter-example to this thesis and to a larger family of decision rules for choice under conditions of moral uncertainty. Based on this counter-example, I argue against the thesis and suggest a reason for its failure (...)
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  5. added 2015-07-24
    Howard J. Simmons, Zombies Defeated: A Projectivist Account of Third-Person Consciousness Ascriptions.
    I defend an argument from Lauren Ashwell and Eric Marcus to the effect that the zombie idea is meaningless. I consider whether this idea could be saved from the force of the argument by adopting a projectivist account of third-person consciousness ascriptions. I decide that it cannot, but commend that account anyway.
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  6. added 2015-07-22
    Takuo Aoyama, Shogo Shimizu & Yuki Yamada (2015). Free Will and the Divergence Problem. Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 23:1-18.
    This paper presents what the authors call the ‘divergence problem’ regarding choosing between different future possibilities. As is discussed in the first half, the central issue of the problem is the difficulty of temporally locating the ‘active cause’ on the modal divergent diagram. In the second half of this paper, we discuss the ‘second-person freedom’ which is, strictly, neither compatibilist negative freedom nor incompatibilist positive freedom. The divergence problem leads us to two hypothetical views (i.e. the view of single-line determination (...)
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  7. added 2015-07-17
    Emad H. Atiq (forthcoming). How to Be Impartial as a Subjectivist. Philosophical Studies:1-23.
    The metaethical subjectivist claims that there is nothing more to a moral disagreement than a conflict in the desires of the parties involved. Recently, David Enoch has argued that metaethical subjectivism has unacceptable ethical implications. If the subjectivist is right about moral disagreement, then it follows, according to Enoch, that we cannot stand our ground in moral disagreements without violating the demands of impartiality. For being impartial, we’re told, involves being willing to compromise in conflicts that are merely due to (...)
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  8. added 2015-07-17
    Roland Mees (2015). Sustainable Action and Moral Corruption. In Dieter Birnbacher & May Thorseth (eds.), The Politics of Sustainability: Philosophical perspectives. Routledge 109-126.
    The concept of moral corruption has been pointed at as the root cause of our failure to make progress with acting towards a sustainable future. This chapter defines moral corruption as the agent’s strategy not to form the intentions needed to overcome the motivational obstacles of sustainable action. Moral corruption is considered similar to Kant’s radical evil; it causes our practical identities to be divided. The question then arises: how could we possibly strive for moral integrity, while simultaneously being infected (...)
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  9. added 2015-07-14
    Cory Davia & Michele Palmira (forthcoming). Moral Deference and Deference to an Epistemic Peer. Philosophical Quarterly.
    Deference to experts is normal in many areas of inquiry, but suspicious in morality. This is puzzling if one thinks that morality is relevantly like those other areas of inquiry. We argue that this suspiciousness can be explained in terms of the suspiciousness of deferring to an epistemic peer. We then argue that this explanation is preferable to others in the literature, and explore some metaethical implications of this result.
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  10. added 2015-07-13
    Felix Pinkert (2015). What If I Cannot Make a Difference (and Know It). Ethics 125 (4):971-998.
    When several agents together produce suboptimal outcomes, yet no individual could have made a difference for the better, Act Consequentialism counterintuitively judges that all involved agents act rightly. I address this problem by supplementing Act Consequentialism with a requirement of modal robustness: Agents not only ought to produce best consequences in the actual world, but they also ought to be such that they would act optimally in certain counterfactual scenarios. I interpret this Modally Robust Act Consequentialism as Act Consequentialism plus (...)
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  11. added 2015-07-10
    Justin Clarke-Doane (forthcoming). Debunking and Dispensability. In Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.), Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics. Oxford University Press
    In his précis of a recent book, Richard Joyce writes, “My contention…is that…any epistemological benefit-of-the-doubt that might have been extended to moral beliefs…will be neutralized by the availability of an empirically confirmed moral genealogy that nowhere…presupposes their truth.” Such reasoning – falling under the heading “Genealogical Debunking Arguments” – is now commonplace. But how might “the availability of an empirically confirmed moral genealogy that nowhere… presupposes” the truth of our moral beliefs “neutralize” whatever “epistemological benefit-of-the-doubt that might have been extended (...)
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  12. added 2015-07-09
    Steven Swartzer (2015). Humean Externalism and the Argument From Depression. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (2):1-16.
    Several prominent philosophers have argued that the fact that depressed agents sometimes make moral judgments without being appropriately motivated supports Humean externalism – the view that moral motivation must be explained in terms of desires that are distinct from or “external” to an agent’s motivationally inert moral judgments. This essay argues that such motivational failures do not, in fact, provide evidence for this view. I argue that, if the externalist argument from depression is to undermine a philo-sophically important version of (...)
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  13. added 2015-07-09
    Justin Tosi (2009). Responsibility and Justice. [REVIEW] Journal of Politics 71 (4):1600-1602.
  14. added 2015-07-07
    Olle Blomberg (forthcoming). Common Knowledge and Reductionism About Shared Agency. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-12.
    Most reductionist accounts of intentional joint action include a condition that it must be common knowledge between participants that they have certain intentions and beliefs that cause and coordinate the joint action. However, this condition has typically simply been taken for granted rather than argued for. The condition is not necessary for ensuring that participants are jointly responsible for the action in which each participates, nor for ensuring that each treats the others as partners rather than as social tools. It (...)
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  15. added 2015-07-07
    Pekka Väyrynen (forthcoming). The Supervenience Challenge to Non-Naturalism. In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge
    This paper is a survey of the supervenience objection to non-naturalist moral realism. I formulate a version of the objection, consider the most promising non-naturalist replies to it, and suggest that no fully effective reply has yet been given.
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  16. added 2015-07-06
    Seungbae Park (2015). Against Motivational Efficacy of Beliefs. Coactivity: Philosophy, Communication 23 (1):86-95.
    Bromwich (2010) argues that a belief is motivationally efficacious in that, other things being equal, it disposes an agent to answer a question in accordance with that belief. I reply that what we are disposed to do is largely determined by our genes, whereas what we believe is largely determined by stimuli from the environment. We have a standing and default disposition to answer questions honestly, ceteris paribus, even before we are exposed to environmental stimuli. Since this standing and default (...)
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  17. added 2015-07-06
    C. Iria, F. Barbosa & R. Paixao (2012). The Identification of Negative Emotions Through a Go/No-Go Task. European Psychologist 17:291-292.
    This study compares the performance, when identifying negative emotions on facial expression, of male offenders (n = 62) with a high level of psychopathy (n = 25) with other criminals with a low level of psychopathy (n = 37), as well as other ‘‘successful psychopaths’’(n = 12) and non-criminals with a low level of psychopathy (n = 39) in order to clarify the negative emotional processing of offenders and nonoffenders that are either high or low in psychopathy. The participants were (...)
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  18. added 2015-07-04
    Erin Frykholm (2015). A Humean Particularist Virtue Ethic. Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2171-2191.
    Virtue ethical theories typically follow a neo-Aristotelian or quasi-Aristotelian model, making use of various combinations of key features of the Aristotelian model including eudaimonism, perfectionism, an account of practical wisdom, and the thesis of the unity of the virtues. In this paper I motivate what I call a Humean virtue ethic, which is a deeply particularist account of virtue that rejects all of these central tenets, at least in their traditional forms. Focusing on three factors by which Hume determines virtue, (...)
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  19. added 2015-06-30
    Knut Olav Skarsaune (forthcoming). Book Review: David Enoch, Taking Morality Seriously. [REVIEW] Utilitas:1-4.
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  20. added 2015-06-30
    Errol Lord (2015). Joshua Gert, Normative Bedrock: Response-Dependence, Rationality, and Reasons , Pp. X + 218. Utilitas 27 (2):251-254.
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  21. added 2015-06-25
    Kristana Arp (2001). The Bonds of Freedom. Open Court.
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  22. added 2015-06-23
    F. Lösel & M. Schmucker (2004). Psychopathy, Risk Taking, and Attention: A Differentiated Test of the Somatic Marker Hypothesis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 113:522-529.
    A. R. Damasio's (1994) somatic marker hypothesis relates psychopathy to deficits in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Using the gambling task (A. Bechara, A. R. Damasio, H. Damasio, & S. Anderson, 1994), the authors tested this premise and the role of attention as a moderator. Forty-nine male prison inmates were assessed with the Psychopathy Checklist--Revised (R. D. Hare, 1991), the gambling task, and standardized tests on attention-concentration, and intelligence. Results revealed no general relation between psychopathy and gambling task performance. However, psychopathic (...)
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  23. added 2015-06-22
    Robyn Repko Waller & Russell L. Waller (forthcoming). Forking Paths and Freedom: A Challenge to Libertarian Accounts of Free Will. Philosophia:1-14.
    The aim of this paper is to challenge libertarian accounts of free will. It is argued that there is an irreconcilable tension between the way in which philosophers motivate the incompatibilist ability to do otherwise and the way in which they formally express it. Potential incompatibilist responses in the face of this tension are canvassed, and it is argued that each response is problematic. It is not claimed that incompatibilist accounts in general are incoherent, but rather that any incompatibilist account (...)
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  24. added 2015-06-19
    Gerald L. Hull, Tracking the Moral Truth: Debunking Street’s Darwinian Dilemma.
    Sharon Street’s 2006 article “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” challenges the epistemological pretensions of the moral realist, of the nonnaturalist in particular. Given that “Evolutionary forces have played a tremendous role in shaping the content of human evaluative attitudes” – why should one suppose such attitudes and concomitant beliefs would track an independent moral reality? Especially since, on a nonnaturalist view, moral truth is causally inert. I abstract a logical skeleton of Street’s argument and, with its aid, (...)
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  25. added 2015-06-19
    Gerald L. Hull, Tracking the Moral Truth: Debunking Street’s Darwinian Dilemma.
    Sharon Street’s 2006 article “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” challenges the epistemological pretensions of the moral realist, of the nonnaturalist in particular. Given that “Evolutionary forces have played a tremendous role in shaping the content of human evaluative attitudes” – why should one suppose such attitudes and concomitant beliefs would track an independent moral reality? Especially since, on a nonnaturalist view, moral truth is causally inert. I abstract a logical skeleton of Street’s argument and, with its aid, (...)
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  26. added 2015-06-18
    Catherine Legg (2014). “Logic, Ethics and the Ethics of Logic”,. In T. Thellefsen B. Sorensen (ed.), Charles Sanders Peirce in His Own Words. 271-278.
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  27. added 2015-06-17
    Ramon Das (forthcoming). Evolutionary Debunking of Morality: Epistemological or Metaphysical? Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    It is widely supposed that evolutionary debunking arguments against morality constitute a type of epistemological objection to our moral beliefs. In particular, the debunking force of such arguments is not supposed to depend on the metaphysical claim that moral facts do not exist. In this paper I argue that this standard epistemological construal of EDAs is highly misleading, if not mistaken. Specifically, I argue that the most widely discussed EDAs all make key and controversial metaphysical claims about the nature of (...)
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  28. added 2015-06-17
    Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2005). It's Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations. In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Richard Howarth (eds.), Perspectives on Climate Change. Elsevier 221–253.
    A survey of various candidates shows that there is no defensible moral principle that shows that individuals have an obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
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  29. added 2015-06-16
    Gregor Flock, Solving the Is-Ought Problem.
    One of the most prolific and well-known debates in ethics and especially metaethics concerns the question of whether or not (and if so how) moral ought-beliefs can be derived from descriptive is-beliefs. In this paper I will propose the following two respective theses: That there is no unbridgable ontological, logical or semantical ʻgap’ between Is and Ought since moral cognitivism is true (thesis I) and that Ought consequently can be and routinely is derived from Is (thesis II). In order to (...)
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  30. added 2015-06-15
    Thomas Pölzler (forthcoming). Moral Disagreement, Anti-Realism, and the Worry About Overgeneralization. In Christian Kanzian, Josef Mitterer & Katharina Neges (eds.), Proceedings of the 38th International Wittgenstein Symposium.
    According to the classical argument from moral disagreement, the existence of widespread or persistent moral disagreement is best explained by, and thus inductively supports the view that there are no objective moral facts. One of the most common charges against this argument is that it “overgeneralizes”: it implausibly forces its proponents to deny the existence of objective facts about certain matters of physics, history, philosophy, etc. as well (companions in guilt), or even about its own conclusion or its own soundness (...)
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  31. added 2015-06-14
    Thaddeus Metz (forthcoming). Review of Todd May, A Significant Life. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    Approx. 2000 word review of Todd May's _A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe_ (University of Chicago Press).
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  32. added 2015-06-13
    Thomas Pölzler (forthcoming). Review of Erik J. Wielenberg’s “Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism”. [REVIEW] Ethical Perspectives.
    Erik Wielenberg’s new book Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism aims at defending a non-theistic of ‘robust normative realism’: the metaethical view that normative properties exist, and have four features: (1) objectivity, (2) non-naturalness, (3) irreducibility, and (4) causal inertness. In my review I criticize that Wielenberg does not address semantic issues which are crucial both to defending robust normative realism, and to assessing the empirical claims he makes. Moreover, and relatedly, I suggest that Wielenberg’s main (...)
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  33. added 2015-06-13
    Alexander Jackson (forthcoming). From Relative Truth to Finean Non-Factualism. Synthese:1-19.
    This paper compares two ‘relativist’ theories about deliciousness: truth-relativism, and Kit Fine’s non-factualism about a subject-matter. Contemporary truth-relativism is presented as a linguistic thesis; its metaphysical underpinning is often neglected. I distinguish three views about the obtaining of worldly states of affairs concerning deliciousness, and argue that none yields a satisfactory version of truth-relativism. Finean non-factualism about deliciousness is not subject to the problems with truth-relativism. I conclude that Finean non-factualism is the better relativist theory. As I explain, non-facualism about (...)
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  34. added 2015-06-13
    James Dreier (2015). Another World. In Robert Johnson & Michael Smith (eds.), Passions and Projections Themes from the Philosophy of Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press 155-171.
    The metaethics and metametaethics of Scanlon's "Reasons Fundamentalism".
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  35. added 2015-06-13
    James Dreier (2015). Can Reasons Fundamentalism Answer the Normative Question? In Gunnar Björnsson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson & Fredrik Björklund (eds.), Motivational Internalism. Oxford University Press
  36. added 2015-06-11
    Ralph Wedgwood (forthcoming). Review of Being Realistic About Reasons, by T. M. Scanlon. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly.
    This is a review of T. M. Scanlon's book "Being Realistic about Reasons", which is based on the Locke Lectures that Scanlon gave in Oxford in 2009.
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  37. added 2015-06-11
    Ralph Wedgwood (2014). Moral Disagreement Among Philosophers. In Michael Bergmann & Patrick Kain (eds.), Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution. Oxford University Press 23-39.
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  38. added 2015-06-10
    Matthew Braddock (forthcoming). Debunking Arguments From Insensitivity. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism.
    Heightened awareness of the origins of our moral judgments pushes many in the direction of moral skepticism, in the direction of thinking we are unjustified in holding our moral judgments on a realist understanding of the moral truths. A classic debunking argument fleshes out this worry: the best explanation of our moral judgments does not appeal to their truth, so we are unjustified in holding our moral judgments. But it is unclear how to get from the explanatory premise to the (...)
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  39. added 2015-06-10
    Stephen Ingram (2015). After Moral Error Theory, After Moral Realism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):227-248.
    Moral abolitionists recommend that we get rid of moral discourse and moral judgement. At first glance this seems repugnant, but abolitionists think that we have overestimated the practical value of our moral framework and that eliminating it would be in our interests. I argue that abolitionism has a surprising amount going for it. Traditionally, abolitionism has been treated as an option available to moral error theorists. Error theorists say that moral discourse and judgement are committed to the existence of moral (...)
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  40. added 2015-06-08
    Seth Shabo (2015). Review of Bruce Waller's The Stubborn System of Moral Responsibility. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2015 (April).
  41. added 2015-06-07
    Jeffrey A. Gauthier (1999). Hegel and the Problem of Particularity in Moral Judgment. Women's Philosophy Review 22:58-79.
    Barbara Herman's account of rules of moral salience goes far in explaining how Kantian moral theory can integrate historically emergent normative criticisms such as that offered by feminists. The ethical motives that initially lead historical agents to expand our moral categories, however, are often at odds with Kant's (and Herman's) theory of moral motivations. I argue that Hegel offers a more accurate account of ethical motivation under oppressive conditions.
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  42. added 2015-06-05
    Tomas Bogardus (forthcoming). Only All Naturalists Should Worry About Only One Evolutionary Debunking Argument. Ethics.
    Do the facts of evolution generate an epistemic challenge to moral realism? Some think so, and many “evolutionary debunking arguments” have been discussed in the recent literature. But they are all murky right where it counts most: exactly which epistemic principle is meant to take us from evolutionary considerations to the skeptical conclusion? Here, I will identify several distinct species of evolutionary debunking argument in the literature, each one of which relies on a distinct epistemic principle. Drawing on recent work (...)
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  43. added 2015-06-05
    Matt King (2015). Manipulation Arguments and the Standing to Blame. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (1):1-20.
    The majority of recent work on the moral standing to blame (the idea that A may be unable to legitimately blame B despite B being blameworthy) has focused on blamers who themselves are blameworthy. This is unfortunate, for there is much to learn about the standing to blame once we consider a broader range of cases. Doing so reveals that challenged standing is more expansive than previously acknowledged, and accounts that have privileged the fact that the blamers are themselves morally (...)
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  44. added 2015-06-04
    Gregg D. Caruso (forthcoming). Free Will Skepticism and Criminal Behavior: A Public Health-Quarantine Model. Southwest Philosophy Review 32 (1).
    One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of free will skepticism is that it is unable to adequately deal with criminal behavior and that the responses it would permit as justified are insufficient for acceptable social policy. This concern is fueled by two factors. The first is that one of the most prominent justifications for punishing criminals, retributivism, is incompatible with free will skepticism. The second concern is that alternative justifications that are not ruled out by the skeptical view per (...)
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  45. added 2015-06-04
    Alexander Hyun & Eric Sampson (2014). On Believing the Error Theory. Journal of Philosophy 111 (11):631-640.
    In his recent article entitled ‘Can We Believe the Error Theory?’ Bart Streumer argues that it is impossible (for anyone, anywhere) to believe the error theory. This might sound like a problem for the error theory, but Streumer argues that it is not. He argues that the un-believability of the error theory offers a way for error theorists to respond to several objections commonly made against the view. In this paper, we respond to Streumer’s arguments. In particular, in sections 2-4, (...)
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  46. added 2015-06-02
    Matthew Haug (2014). Must Naturalism Lead to a Deflationary Meta-Ontology? Metaphysica 15 (2):347-367.
    Huw Price has argued that naturalistic philosophy inevitably leads to a deflationary approach to ontological questions. In this paper, I rebut these arguments. A more substantive, less language-focused approach to metaphysics remains open to naturalists. However, rebutting one of Price’s main arguments requires rejecting Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment. So, even though Price’s argument is unsound, it reveals that naturalists cannot rest content with broadly Quinean, “mainstream metaphysics,” which, I suggest, naturalists also have independent reasons to reject.
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  47. added 2015-05-29
    Neil Sinhababu (forthcoming). Virtue, Desire, and Silencing Reasons. In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Perspectives on Character. Oxford University Press
    John McDowell claims that virtuous people recognize moral reasons using a perceptual capacity that doesn't include desire. I show that the phenomena he cites are better explained if desire makes us see considerations favoring its satisfaction as reasons. The salience of moral considerations to the virtuous, like the salience of food to the hungry, exemplifies the emotional and attentional effects of desire. I offer a desire-based account of how we can follow uncodifiable rules of common-sense morality and how some reasons (...)
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  48. added 2015-05-28
    David Shoemaker (2015). Responsibility From the Margins. Oxford University Press.
    David Shoemaker presents a new pluralistic theory of responsibility, based on the idea of quality of will. His approach is motivated by our ambivalence to real-life cases of marginal agency, such as those caused by clinical depression, dementia, scrupulosity, psychopathy, autism, intellectual disability, and poor formative circumstances. Our ambivalent responses suggest that such agents are responsible in some ways but not others. Shoemaker develops a theory to account for our ambivalence, via close examination of several categories of pancultural emotional responsibility (...)
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  49. added 2015-05-27
    Charlie Kurth (2013). Review of Kieran Setiya’s Knowing Right From Wrong. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013.
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  50. added 2015-05-24
    Kevin Lynch (forthcoming). Willful Ignorance and Self-Deception. Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    Willful ignorance is an important concept in criminal law and jurisprudence, though it has not received much discussion in philosophy. When it is mentioned, however, it is regularly assumed to be a kind of self-deception. In this article I will argue that self-deception and willful ignorance are distinct psychological kinds. First, some examples of willful ignorance are presented and discussed, and an analysis of the phenomenon is developed. Then it is shown that current theories of self-deception give no support to (...)
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