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Meta-Ethics

Edited by Daniel Star (Boston University)
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  1. added 2014-08-01
    Uwe Steinhoff, A Critique of David Miller’s Like Minded Group and Cooperative Practice Models of Collective Responsibility.
    Many authors writing about global justice seem to take national responsibility more or less for granted. Most of them, however, offer very little argument for their position. One of the few exceptions is David Miller. He offers two models of collective responsibility: the like-minded group model and the cooperative practice model. While some authors have criticized whether these two models are applicable to nations, as Miller intends, my criticism is more radical: I argue that these two models fail as accounts (...)
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  2. added 2014-07-29
    Michelle Mason (forthcoming). Reactivity and Refuge. In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. 143-162.
    P.F. Strawson famously suggested that employment of the objective attitude in an intimate relationship forebodes the relationship’s demise. Relatively less remarked is Strawson's admission that the objective attitude is available as a refuge from the strains of relating to normal, mature adults as proper subjects of the reactive attitudes. I develop an account of the strategic employment of the objective attitude in such cases according to which it denies a person a power of will – authorial power – whose recognition (...)
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  3. added 2014-07-28
    Katrina Sifferd (forthcoming). What Does It Mean to Be a Mechanism? Morse, Non-Reductivism, and Mental Causation. Criminal Law and Philosophy:1-17.
    Stephen Morse seems to have adopted a controversial position regarding the mind-body relationship: John Searle’s non-reductivism, which claims that conscious mental states are causal yet not reducible to their underlying brain states. Searle’s position has been roundly criticized, with some arguing the theory taken as a whole is incoherent. In this paper I review these criticisms and add my own, concluding that Searle’s position is indeed contradictory, both internally and with regard to Morse's other views. Thus I argue that Morse (...)
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  4. added 2014-07-27
    Friderik Klampfer (2014). Consequentializing Moral Responsibility. Croatian Journal of Philosophy (40):121-150.
    In the paper, I try to cast some doubt on traditional attempts to define, or explicate, moral responsibility in terms of deserved praise and blame. Desert-based accounts of moral responsibility, though no doubt more faithful to our ordinary notion of moral responsibility, tend to run into trouble in the face of challenges posed by a deterministic picture of the world on the one hand and the impact of moral luck on human action on the other. Besides, grounding responsibility in desert (...)
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  5. added 2014-07-25
    John Russell Roberts (forthcoming). Axiarchism and Selectors. Faith and Philosophy.
    This essay offers a defense of Axiarchism's answer to the question, "Why does the world exit?" against prominent objections leveled against it by Derek Parfit. Parfit rejects the Axiarchist answer while abstracting from it his own Selector strategy. I argue that the abstraction fails, and that even if we were to regard Axiarchism as an instance of a Selector hypothesis, we should regard it as the only viable one. I also argue that Parfit's abstraction leads him to mistake the nature (...)
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  6. added 2014-07-23
    Nathaniel Sharadin (forthcoming). Problems for Pure Probabilism About Promotion (and a Disjunctive Alternative). Philosophical Studies:1-16.
    Humean promotionalists about reasons think that whether there is a reason for an agent to ϕ depends on whether her ϕ-ing promotes the satisfaction of at least one of her desires. Several authors have recently defended probabilistic accounts of promotion, according to which an agent’s ϕ-ing promotes the satisfaction of one of her desires just in case her ϕ-ing makes the satisfaction of that desire more probable relative to some baseline. In this paper I do three things. First, I formalize (...)
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  7. added 2014-07-23
    Sven Nyholm (forthcoming). Ingmar Persson, From Morality to the End of Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) Pp. 336. [REVIEW] Utilitas 2014.
    Persson argues that common sense morality involves various “asymmetries” that don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. (One example is that intentionally harming others is commonly thought to be worse than merely allowing harm to happen, even if the harm involved is equal in both cases.) A wholly rational morality would, Persson argues, be wholly symmetrical. He also argues, however, that when we get down to our most basic attitudes and dispositions, we reach the “end of reason,” at which point we (...)
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  8. added 2014-07-21
    Anne Siegetsleitner (2014). Ethik und Moral im Wiener Kreis. Zur Geschichte eines engagierten Humanismus. Böhlau.
    Die vorliegende Schrift unternimmt eine Revision des vorherrschenden Bildes der Rolle und der Konzeptionen von Moral und Ethik im Wiener Kreis. Dieses Bild wird als zu einseitig und undifferenziert zurückgewiesen. Die Ansicht, die Mitglieder des Wiener Kreises hätten kein Interesse an Moral und Ethik gezeigt, wird widerlegt. Viele Mitglieder waren nicht nur moralisch und politisch interessiert, sondern auch engagiert. Des Weiteren vertraten nicht alle die Standardauffassung logisch-empiristischer Ethik, die neben der Anerkennung deskriptiv-empirischer Untersuchungen durch die Ablehnung jeglicher normativer und inhaltlicher (...)
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  9. added 2014-07-20
    Seth Shabo (2014). Review of J. M. Fischer's Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value. [REVIEW] Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (4):523-526.
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  10. added 2014-07-18
    Danny Frederick, Ethical Intuitionism: A Structural Critique.
    I present a structural critique of ethical intuitionism. Ethical intuitionists regard moral knowledge as deriving from moral intuition, moral observation, moral emotion and inference. However, moral intuitions, observations and emotions are cultural artefacts which often differ starkly between cultures. Intuitionists attribute uncongenial moral intuitions, observations or emotions to bias or to intellectual or moral failings; but that leads to sectarian mutual recrimination. Intuitionists try to avoid this by restricting epistemically genuine intuitions, observations or emotions to those which are widely agreed. (...)
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  11. added 2014-07-15
    Luc Faucher (2012). Tirer la responsabilité au clair : le cas des attitudes implicites et le révisionnisme. Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 7 (1):179-212.
    Dans cet article, je considère l’influence possible des recherches récentes sur les attitudes en psychologie sociale, principalement dans le paradigme des théories des processus duaux [dual process theories], sur notre compréhension de la responsabilité. La thèse que je soutiens est que certaines révisions à notre façon de comprendre la responsabilité et nos pratiques d’attribution de la responsabilité pourraient être justifiées par ces travaux. Avant de présenter les révisions que j’introduis, je décris les grandes lignes du paradigme que j’utiliserai, soit celui (...)
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  12. added 2014-07-12
    Michael Bergmann & Patrick Kain (2014). Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief: Overview and Future Directions. In Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution.
  13. added 2014-07-12
    Michael Bergmann & Patrick Kain (eds.) (2014). Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution. Oxford University Press.
    Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief contains fourteen original essays by philosophers, theologians, and social scientists on challenges to moral and religious belief from disagreement and evolution. Three main questions are addressed: Can one reasonably maintain one's moral and religious beliefs in the face of interpersonal disagreement with intellectual peers? Does disagreement about morality between a religious belief source, such as a sacred text, and a non-religious belief source, such as a society's moral intuitions, make it irrational to continue trusting (...)
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  14. added 2014-07-11
    Lei Zhong (2013). Internalism, Emotionism, and the Psychopathy Challenge. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (4):329-337.
  15. added 2014-07-11
    Lei Zhong (2013). Psychopathy, Emotion, and Moral Judgment. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (4):349-352.
  16. added 2014-07-09
    Brandon Warmke (forthcoming). The Economic Model of Forgiveness. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    It is sometimes claimed that forgiveness involves the cancellation of a moral debt. This way of speaking about forgiveness exploits an analogy between moral forgiveness and economic debt-cancellation. Call the view that moral forgiveness is like economic debt-cancellation the Economic Model of Forgiveness. In this paper I articulate and motivate the model, defend it against some recent objections, and pose a new puzzle for this way of thinking about forgiveness.
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  17. added 2014-07-07
    Markus E. Schlosser (forthcoming). Manipulation and the Zygote Argument: Another Reply. Journal of Ethics.
    Alfred Mele's zygote argument is widely considered to be the strongest version of the manipulation argument against compatibilism (about free will and determinism). Opponents have focused largely on the first of its two premises and on the overall dialectic. My focus here will be on the underlying thought experiment—the Diana scenario—and on the second premise of the argument. I will argue that reflection on the Diana scenario shows that the second premise does not hold, and we will see that my (...)
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  18. added 2014-07-07
    Tanya de Villiers-Botha (2014). How Not to Be a Metaethical Naturalist –Jesse Prinz on the Emotional Construction of Morals. South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):145-154.
    Jesse Prinz develops a naturalistic metaethical theory with which he purports to sidestep ‘Hume's law’ by demonstrating how, on his theory, in describing what our moral beliefs commit us to we can determine what our moral obligations are. I aim to show that Prinz does not deliver on his prescriptive promise – he does not bridge the is–ought gap in any meaningful way. Given that Prinz goes on to argue that (1) his moral psychology highlights fundamental shortcomings in ‘traditional’ normative (...)
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  19. added 2014-06-30
    Neil Sinclair (2014). On Standing One's Ground. Analysis 74 (3):422-431.
    I provide a positive expressivist account of the permissibility of ‘standing one’s ground’ in some cases of moral conflict, based in part on an illustrative analogy with political disputes. This account suffices to undermine Enoch’s recent argument against expressivism.
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  20. added 2014-06-27
    Katharina Nieswandt & Ulf Hlobil (eds.) (forthcoming). G. E. M. Anscombe: Aufsätze. Suhrkamp.
    Die Wittgenstein-Schülerin Elizabeth Anscombe zählt zu den einflussreichsten Philosophinnen des 20. Jahrhunderts. Mit der Monographie Absicht begründete sie die analytische Handlungstheorie, viele ihrer Abhandlungen gelten als Klassiker, aber nur wenige liegen bislang in deutscher Übersetzung vor. Der vorliegende Band füllt diese Lücke: Er versammelt zwölf von Anscombes wichtigsten Aufsätzen, die thematisch von der praktischen Philosophie über die Metaphysik und die Philosophie des Geistes bis hin zu Aristoteles- und Wittgenstein-Interpretationen reichen, also das ganze Spektrum ihres Denkens repräsentieren. Die Anmerkungen und Erläuterungen (...)
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  21. added 2014-06-27
    Justin Snedegar (forthcoming). Deontic Reasoning Across Contexts. In F. Cariani (ed.), DEON 2014. Springer. 208-223.
    Contrastivism about ‘ought’ holds that ‘ought’ claims are relativized, at least implicitly, to sets of mutually exclusive but not necessarily jointly exhaustive alternatives. This kind of theory can solve puzzles that face other linguistic theories of ‘ought’, via the rejection or severe restriction of principles that let us make inferences between ‘ought’ claims. By rejecting or restricting these principles, however, the contrastivist takes on a burden of recapturing acceptable inferences that these principles let us make. This paper investigates the extent (...)
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  22. added 2014-06-25
    Anne Schwenkenbecher (forthcoming). Joint Moral Duties. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38.
    There are countless circumstances under which random individuals could act together to prevent something morally bad from happening or to remedy a morally bad situation. But when ought individuals to act together in order to bring about a morally important outcome? This paper seeks to answer that question. Building on Philip Pettit’s and David Schweikard’s account of joint action, I will put forward the notion of joint duties: duties to perform an action together that individuals in so-called random or unstructured (...)
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  23. added 2014-06-25
    Anne Schwenkenbecher (2013). Bridging The Emissions Gap: A Plea For Taking Up The Slack. Philosophy and Public Issues - Filosofia E Questioni Pubbliche 3 (1):273-301.
    With the existing commitments to climate change mitigation, global warming is likely to exceed 2°C and to trigger irreversible and harmful threshold effects. The difference between the reductions necessary to keep the 2°C limit and those reductions countries have currently committed to is called the ‘emissions gap’. I argue that capable states not only have a moral duty to make voluntary contributions to bridge that gap, but that complying states ought to make up for the failures of some other states (...)
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  24. added 2014-06-23
    Amir Saemi (forthcoming). The Guise of the Good and the Problem of Over-Intellectualism. Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (2):1-13.
    Abstract – I will argue that Raz’s defense of the doctrine of the guise of the good rests on a over-intellectualized account of action. Raz holds that attributing evaluative beliefs to agents is justified on explanatory grounds. I argue that this account fails to do justice to the first-personal character of action explanation. Moreover, I will argue that Raz’s account of action has its root in his restrictive and over-intellectualized understanding of normative explanation. I will suggest that we can have (...)
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  25. added 2014-06-23
    Bill Wringe (forthcoming). From Global Collective Obligations to Institutional Obligations. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38.
    There are a number of reasons for accepting the existence of Global Collective Obligations - in other words, collective obligations which fall on the world’s population as a whole. One such reason - outlined in Wringe 2005 - is that the existence of such obligations provides a plausible solution a problem which is sometimes thought to arise if we think that individuals have a right to have their basic needs satisfied. However, obligations of this sort would be of little interest (...)
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  26. added 2014-06-23
    Jussi Suikkanen (2014). This is Ethics: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.
    What makes you happy? Should you always do what is best for you, or what is best for everyone? What is the meaning of life – and how are we supposed to think about it? Should sacrifices be made to help future generations? This Is Ethics presents an accessible and engaging introduction to a variety of issues relating to contemporary moral philosophy. It reveals the intimate connection between timeless philosophical problems about right and wrong and offers timely and thought-provoking insights (...)
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  27. added 2014-06-22
    Matthew Silverstein (forthcoming). The Shmagency Question. Philosophical Studies:1-16.
    Constitutivists hope to locate the foundations of ethics in the nature of action. They hope to find norms that are constitutive of agency. Recently David Enoch has argued that even if there are such norms, they cannot provide the last word when it comes to normativity, since they cannot tell us whether we have reason to be agents rather than shmagents. I argue that the force of the shmagency objection has been considerably overestimated, because philosophers on both sides of the (...)
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  28. added 2014-06-21
    Justin Clarke-Doane (forthcoming). Justification and Explanation in Mathematics and Morality. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Oxford University Press.
    In an influential book, Harman writes, "In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles [1977, 9 – 10]." What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast? In this article, I argue that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what I shall call the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, D – (...)
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  29. added 2014-06-18
    Christopher Gregory Weaver (forthcoming). Evilism, Moral Rationalism, and Reasons Internalism. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion:1-22.
    I show that the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, and essentially omnimalevolent being is impossible given only two metaethical assumptions (viz., moral rationalism and reasons internalism). I then argue (pace Stephen Law) that such an impossibility undercuts Law's (2010) evil god challenge.
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  30. added 2014-06-17
    Peter Olsthoorn & Lamber Royakkers (2014). Military Robots and the Question of Responsibility. International Journal of Technoethics 5 (1):01-14.
    Most unmanned systems used in operations today are unarmed and mainly used for reconnaissance and mine clearing, yet the increase of the number of armed military robots is undeniable. The use of these robots raises some serious ethical questions. For instance: who can be held morally responsible in reason when a military robot is involved in an act of violence that would normally be described as a war crime? In this article, we critically assess the attribution of responsibility with respect (...)
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  31. added 2014-06-12
    Mark van Roojen (2013). Scanlon's Promising Proposal and the Righ Kind of Reasons to Believe. In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 3. 59-78.
    T. M. Scanlon suggests that the binding nature of promises itself plays a role in allowing a promisee rationally to expect follow through even while that binding nature itself depends on the promisee’s rational expectation of follow through. Kolodny and Wallace object that this makes the account viciously circular. The chapter defends Scanlon’s theory from this objection. It argues that the basic complaint is a form of wrong kinds of reason objection. The thought is that the promisee’s reason to expect (...)
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  32. added 2014-06-11
    Rik Peels (forthcoming). Hume's Law Violated? Journal of Value Inquiry:1-7.
    Jesse Prinz has recently argued that if sensibility theory is true, then there is a sense in which what has been called ‘Hume’s Law’ – the position that one cannot derive an ought from an is – can be violated. In this short critical note, I argue that Prinz’s argument is problematic for at least three reasons. First, the ought that he derives from an is is not genuinely prescriptive. Second, Prinz’s argument violates the widely accepted principle of disquotation and (...)
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  33. added 2014-06-09
    John R. Welch (forthcoming). Moral Strata. Springer.
    This volume recreates the received notion of reflective equilibrium. It reconfigures reflective equilibrium as both a cognitive ideal and a method for approximating this ideal. The ideal of reflective equilibrium is restructured using the concept of discursive strata, which are formed by sentences and differentiated by function. Sentences that perform the same kind of linguistic function constitute a stratum. The book shows how moral discourse can be analyzed into phenomenal, instrumental, and teleological strata, and the ideal of reflective equilibrium reworked (...)
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  34. added 2014-06-08
    Robert Lockie (forthcoming). Three Recent Frankfurt Cases. Philosophia:1-28.
    Three recent ‘state of the art’ Frankfurt cases are responded to: Widerker’s Brain-Malfunction-W case and Pereboom’s Tax Evasion cases (2 & 3). These cases are intended by their authors to resurrect the neo-Frankfurt project of overturning the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) in the teeth of the widespread acceptance of some combination of the WKG (Widerker-Kane-Ginet) dilemma, the Flicker of Freedom strategy and the revised PAP response (‘Principle of Alternative Blame’, ‘Principle of Alternative Expectations’). The three neo-Frankfurt cases of Pereboom (...)
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  35. added 2014-06-03
    Richmond Campbell, Moral Epistemology.
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  36. added 2014-05-30
    Pekka Väyrynen, Doubts About Moral Perception.
    This paper argues against the claim that at least some moral properties can figure in the contents of perceptual experience. I'll grant that perceptual experience is cognitively permeable and that its contents admit some higher level properties. But a property can make a phenomenological difference to an overall experience E without figuring in the content of a perceptual experience which E has as a part. I'll suggest that a different explanation of putative cases of moral perception is more general and (...)
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  37. added 2014-05-30
    Janice Dowell, J. L. (forthcoming). The Metaethical Insignificance of Moral Twin Earth. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Oxford.
  38. added 2014-05-30
    Katia Vavova (2014). Debunking Evolutionary Debunking. Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9:76-101.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments start with a premise about the influence of evolutionary forces on our evaluative beliefs, and conclude that we are not justified in those beliefs. The value realist holds that there are attitude-independent evaluative truths. But the debunker argues that we have no reason to think that the evolutionary forces that shaped human evaluative attitudes would track those truths. Worse yet, we seem to have a good reason to think that they wouldn’t: evolution selects for characteristics that increase (...)
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  39. added 2014-05-23
    Graham Hubbs (forthcoming). On Humean Explanation and Practical Normativity. Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    If Hume is correct that the descriptive and the normative are “entirely different” matters, then it would seem to follow that endorsing a given account of action-explanation does not restrict the account of practical normativity one may simultaneously endorse. In this essay, I challenge the antecedent of this conditional by targeting its consequent. Specifically, I argue that if one endorses a Humean account of action-explanation, which many find attractive, one is thereby committed to a Humean account of practical normativity, which (...)
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  40. added 2014-05-22
    Tomasz Zuradzki (forthcoming). Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Rational Choice Under Risk or Uncertainty. Journal of Medical Ethics.
    In this paper I present an argument in favour of a parental duty to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). I argue that if embryos created in vitro were able to decide for themselves in a rational manner, they would sometimes choose PGD as a method of selection. Couples, therefore, should respect their hypothetical choices on a principle similar to that of patient autonomy. My thesis shows that no matter which moral doctrine couples subscribe to, they ought to conduct the PGD (...)
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  41. added 2014-05-21
    Richard Yetter Chappell, A Non-Natural Reason by Any Other Name...
    Are non-natural properties worth caring about? I consider two (related) objections to metaethical non-naturalism. According to the "intelligibility" objection, it would be positively unintelligible to care about non-natural properties that float free from the causal fabric of the cosmos. According to the "ethical idlers" objection, there is no compelling motivation to posit non-natural normative properties because the natural properties suffice to provide us with reasons. In both cases, I argue, the objection stems from misunderstanding the role that non-natural properties play (...)
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  42. added 2014-05-20
    Zac Cogley (2013). The Three-Fold Significance of the Blaming Emotions. In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. 205-224.
    In this paper, I explore the idea that someone can deserve resentment or other reactive emotions for what she does by attention to three psychological functions of such emotions—appraisal, communication, and sanction—that I argue ground claims of their desert. I argue that attention to these functions helps to elucidate the moral aims of reactive emotions and to distinguish the distinct claims of desert, as opposed to other moral considerations.
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  43. added 2014-05-20
    Zac Cogley (2012). Tamler Sommers: Relative Justice: Cultural Diversity, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility. Reviewed By. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 7.
  44. added 2014-05-17
    Andrew Sepielli, Moral Realism Without Moral Metaphysics.
    Taken down for editing; to be presented at the Madison Meta-Ethics Workshop; e-mail if you'd like a copy.
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  45. added 2014-05-17
    Andrew Sepielli, An Argument for Ethical Skepticism.
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  46. added 2014-05-17
    Andrew Sepielli, Intertheoretic Comparisons of Value.
    A new solution to the problem of intertheoretic comparisons of value. This is the view I currently accept, and should be regarded as superseding the view presented in What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do.
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  47. added 2014-05-17
    Andrew Sepielli (forthcoming). Subjective and Objective Reasons. In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford.
    NOTE: This is a first draft. Please do not cite. Suggestions welcome./.
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  48. added 2014-05-13
    Robert Audi (1999). Moral Knowledge and Ethical Pluralism. In John Greco & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Blackwell. 271-302.
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  49. added 2014-05-12
    Max Harris Siegel (2014). Robert Audi, Moral Perception (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), Xii+180 Pp., $35. [REVIEW] Ratio 27 (2):238-244.
  50. added 2014-05-09
    Bastian Reichardt (2014). Asserting Moral Sentences. SATS 15 (1):1-19.
    During the last century of meta-ethical debates, moral realism was much criticized for its ontological assumptions. These assumptions arise from the semantic intuition that lies at the heart of realist theories – namely, the intuition that language represents states of affairs. This makes moral realism hardly compatible with a naturalist world view and gives rise to consider ontologically more economic approaches. Moral constructivists can explain objectivity in ethics without inheriting the realist’s ontological burden. Nevertheless, constructivists tend to ignore the semantic (...)
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