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Meta-Ethics

Edited by Daniel Star (Boston University)
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  1. added 2014-12-18
    Christopher Evan Franklin (forthcoming). Everyone Thinks That an Ability to Do Otherwise is Necessary for Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Philosophical Studies:1-17.
    Seemingly one of the most prominent issues that divide theorists about free will and moral responsibility concerns whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. I defend two claims in this paper. First, that this appearance is illusory: everyone thinks an ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. The central issue is not whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility but which abilities to do otherwise are necessary. Second, (...)
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  2. added 2014-12-18
    Christopher Evan Franklin (forthcoming). If Anyone Should Be an Agent-Causalist, Then Everyone Should Be an Agent-Causalist. Mind.
    Nearly all defenses of the agent-causal theory of free will portray the theory as a distinctively libertarian one—a theory that only libertarians have reason to accept. According to what I call ‘the standard argument for the agent-causal theory of free will’, the reason to embrace agent-causal libertarianism is that libertarians can solve the problem of enhanced control only if they furnish agents with the agent-causal power. In this way it is assumed that there is only reason to accept the agent-causal (...)
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  3. added 2014-12-18
    Peter A. Sutton (2014). Moore's ``New'' Open Question Argument. Res Philosophica 91 (4):681-693.
    For more than 100 years, metaethicists have overlooked the best version of G. E. Moore’s Open Question argument. This despite the fact that it appears on the same page of Principia Ethica as his other, weaker versions of the argument. This better Open Question Argument does not rely on introspection of the meanings of ethical terms, and so does not fall to the standard criticisms of Moore. In this paper, I present this ‘new’ Open Question Argument and show that Moore (...)
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  4. added 2014-12-16
    Nikil Mukerji (2014). Why Moral Philosophers Should Watch Sci-Fi Movies. In Fiorella Battaglia & Nathalie Weidenfeld (eds.), Roboethics in Film. Pisa University Press. 79-92.
    In this short piece, I explore why we, as moral philosophers, should watch sci-fi movies. Though I do not believe that sci-fi material is ne- cessary for doing good moral philosophy, I give three broad reasons why good sci-fi movies should nevertheless be worth our time. These reasons lie in the fact that they can illustrate moral-philosophical pro- blems, probe into possible solutions and, perhaps most importantly, an- ticipate new issues that may go along with the use of new technologies. (...)
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  5. added 2014-12-13
    Justin Morton & Eric Sampson (2014). Parsimony and the Argument From Queerness. Res Philosophica 91 (4):609-627.
    In his recent book Error Theory: History, Critique, Defence, Jonas Olson attempts to revive the argument from queerness originally made famous by J.L. Mackie. In this paper, we do three things. First, we eliminate four untenable formulations of the argument. Second, we argue that the most plausible formulation is one that depends crucially upon considerations of parsimony. Finally, we evaluate this formulation of the argument. We conclude that it is unproblematic for proponents of moral non-naturalism—the target of the argument from (...)
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  6. added 2014-12-08
    Moti Mizrahi (forthcoming). Ought, Can, and Presupposition: An Experimental Study. Methode.
    In this paper, I present the results of an experimental study on intuitions about moral obligation (ought) and ability (can). Many philosophers accept as an axiom the principle known as “Ought Implies Can” (OIC). If the truth of OIC is intuitive, such that it is accepted by many philosophers as an axiom, then we would expect people to judge that agents who are unable to perform an action are not morally obligated to perform that action. The results of my experimental (...)
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  7. added 2014-12-05
    Sven Nyholm (forthcoming). Reason with Me: Confabulation and Interpersonal Moral Reasoning. Ethical Perspectives.
    According to Haidt’s “social intuitionist model”, empirical moral psychology supports the following conclusion: intuition comes first, strategic reasoning second. Critics have responded by arguing that intuitions can depend on non-conscious reasons, that not being able to articulate one’s reasons doesn’t entail not being responsive to reasons, and that the relations between intuitions and reasoning can be truth-tracking and principled in ways overlooked by Haidt. This debate involves a false dichotomy: that either reasoning is truth-tracking, or else our reasoning is purely (...)
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  8. added 2014-12-03
    Frieder Vogelmann (2013). Verantwortung als Subjektivierung. Zur Genealogie einer Selbstverständlichkeit. In Andreas Gelhard, Thomas Alkemeyer & Norbert Ricken (eds.), Techniken der Subjektivierung. Fink. 149–161.
    Die Behauptung, dass Verantwortung eine Subjektform sowie die Technik zu ihrer Herstellung bezeichnet, wird kaum Erstaunen auslösen. Wozu wären all die auf Verantwortung sich stützenden ethisch-moralischen Normen auch gut, wenn sie nicht unsere Subjektivität formen könnten? Dieses Selbstverständnis als verantwortliche Subjekte ist Nietzsches zentralen Angriffspunkt in der zweiten Abhandlung von "Zur Genealogie der Moral". Doch sein Verständnis von Verantwortung als Subjektivierungstechnik und Subjektform war im Kontext des philosophischen Diskurses, in dem er sich selbst verortet, alles andere als eine Selbstverständlichkeit. Der (...)
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  9. added 2014-11-30
    Max Harris Siegel (forthcoming). On Herbert J. Phillips' "Why Be Rational?&Quot;. Ethics 125 (3).
    In recent metaethics, moral realists have advanced a companions-in-guilt argument against moral nihilism. Proponents of this argument hold that the conclusion that there are no categorical normative reasons implies that there are no epistemic reasons. However, if there are no epistemic reasons, there are no epistemic reasons to believe nihilism. Therefore, nihilism is false or no one has epistemic reasons to believe it. While this argument is normally presented as a reply to Mackie, who introduced the term “companions-in-guilt” in his (...)
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  10. added 2014-11-28
    Christian Barry & Gerhard Øverland (forthcoming). Individual Responsibility for Carbon Emissions: Is There Anything Wrong with Overdetermining Harm? In Jeremy Moss (ed.), Climate Change and Justice. Cambridge University Press.
    Climate change and other harmful large-scale processes challenge our understandings of individual responsibility. People throughout the world suffer harms—severe shortfalls in health, civic status, or standard of living relative to the vital needs of human beings—as a result of physical processes to which many people appear to contribute. Climate change, polluted air and water, and the erosion of grasslands, for example, occur because a great many people emit carbon and pollutants, build excessively, enable their flocks to overgraze, or otherwise stress (...)
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  11. added 2014-11-28
    Frieder Vogelmann (2014). Im Bann der Verantwortung. Campus Verlag.
    Was bedeutet die steile Karriere von Verantwortung (nicht nur) in der Philosophie, und welchen Preis zahlen wir dafür? Dass große Teile der modernen Philosophie ihr verfallen sind, so die zentrale These, bezahlt diese mit Blindheit für die theoretischen wie praktischen Auswirkungen von Verantwortung. Um sie zu analysieren, muss Verantwortung als diskursiven Operator verstanden werden, dessen Einheit im ambivalenten Selbstverhältnis der Verantwortung Tragenden liegt. Seine praktischen Auswirkungen werden exemplarisch in den Praktiken der Arbeit und der Kriminalität studiert, in denen das verantwortliche (...)
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  12. added 2014-11-25
    Erick Ramirez (forthcoming). Receptivity, Reactivity and the Successful Psychopath. Philosophical Explorations.
    I argue that psychopathy undermines three important assumptions thought to favor moderate reasons responsiveness. First, I argue that psychopathic agency suggests that the systems underlying receptivity to reason bifurcate. Next, I claim that this bifurcation suggests that reactivity is not 'all of a piece.' Lastly, I argue that attempts by Fischer and Ravizza to address these concerns contain an appeal to internalism. Since Fischer and Ravizza do not want their theory to depend on the outcome of debates about the nature (...)
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  13. added 2014-11-23
    Gregg Caruso (2014Southwest Ph). (Un)Just Deserts: The Dark Side of Moral Responsibility. Southwest Philosophy Review 30 (1):27-38.
    What would be the consequence of embracing skepticism about free will and/or desert-based moral responsibility? What if we came to disbelieve in moral responsibility? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some maintain? Or perhaps increase anti-social behavior as some re- cent studies have suggested (Vohs and Schooler 2008; Baumeister, Masi- campo, and DeWall 2009)? Or would (...)
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  14. added 2014-11-23
    Gregg Caruso (2014). Précis of Derk Pereboom’s Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life. Science, Religion and Culture 1 (3):178-201.
    Derk Pereboom’s Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life (2014) provides the most lively and comprehensive defense of free will skepticism in the literature. It contains a reworked and expanded version of the view he first developed in Living without Free Will (2001). Important objections to the early book are answered, some slight modifications are introduced, and the overall account is significantly embellished—for example, Pereboom proposes a new account of rational deliberation consistent with the belief that one’s actions are causally (...)
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  15. added 2014-11-22
    Noell Birondo (2013). Rationalism in Ethics. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  16. added 2014-11-20
    Jeffrey White (201?). An Information Processing Model of Psychopathy. In Unknown (ed.), moral psychology. Nova. 1-53.
    Psychopathy is increasingly in the public eye. However, it is yet to be fully and effectively understood. Within the context of the DSM-IV, for example, it is best regarded as a complex family of disorders. The upside is that this family can be tightly related along common dimensions. Characteristic marks of psychopaths include a lack of guilt and remorse for paradigm case immoral actions, leading to the common conception of psychopathy rooted in affective dysfunctions. An adequate portrait of psychopathy is (...)
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  17. added 2014-11-19
    Regina A. Rini (forthcoming). How Not to Test for Philosophical Expertise. Synthese:1-22.
    Recent empirical work appears to suggest that the moral intuitions of professional philosophers are just as vulnerable to distorting psychological factors as are those of ordinary people. This paper assesses these recent tests of the ‘expertise defense’ of philosophical intuition. I argue that the use of familiar cases and principles constitutes a methodological problem. Since these items are familiar to philosophers, but not ordinary people, the two subject groups do not confront identical cognitive tasks. Reflection on this point shows that (...)
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  18. added 2014-11-19
    Gerald K. Harrison (2014). The Euthyphro, Divine Command Theory and Moral Realism. Philosophy.
    Divine command theories of metaethics are commonly rejected on the basis of the Euthyphro problem. In this paper, I argue that the Euthyphro can be raised for all forms of moral realism. I go on to argue that this does not matter as the Euthyphro is not really a problem after all. I then briefly outline some of the attractions of a divine command theory of metaethics. I suggest that given one of the major reasons for rejecting such an analysis (...)
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  19. added 2014-11-19
    Gerald K. Harrison (2014). The Euthyphro, Divine Command Theory and Moral Realism. Philosophy.
    Divine command theories of metaethics are commonly rejected on the basis of the Euthyphro problem. In this paper, I argue that the Euthyphro can be raised for all forms of moral realism. I go on to argue that this does not matter as the Euthyphro is not really a problem after all. I then briefly outline some of the attractions of a divine command theory of metaethics. I suggest that given one of the major reasons for rejecting such an analysis (...)
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  20. added 2014-11-18
    Seth Shabo (forthcoming). More Trouble With Tracing. Erkenntnis.
    Theories of moral responsibility rely on tracing principles to account for derivative moral responsibility. Manuel Vargas has argued that such principles are problematic. To show this, he presents cases where individuals are derivatively blameworthy for their conduct, but where there is no suitable earlier time to which their blameworthiness can be traced back. John Martin Fischer and Neal Tognazzini have sought to resolve this problem by arguing that blameworthiness in these scenarios can be traced back, given the right descriptions of (...)
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  21. added 2014-11-18
    Kevin Reuter, Lara Kirfel, Raphael Van Riel & Luca Barlassina (2014). The Good, the Bad, and the Timely: How Temporal Order and Moral Judgment Influence Causal Selection. Frontiers in Psychology 5:1-10.
    Causal selection is the cognitive process through which one or more elements in a complex causal structure are singled out as actual causes of a certain effect. In this paper, we report on an experiment in which we investigated the role of moral and temporal factors in causal selection. Our results are as follows. First, when presented with a temporal chain in which two human agents perform the same action one after the other, subjects tend to judge the later agent (...)
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  22. added 2014-11-16
    Patrick Todd, Manipulation. International Encyclopedia of Ethics.
  23. added 2014-11-13
    Stephen Barker (2014). Pure Versus Hybrid Expressivism and the Enigma of Conventional Implicature. In Guy Fletcher & Mike Ridge (eds.), Having it Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern
Metaethics. Oxford.
    Can hybridism about moral claims be made to work? I argue it can if we accept the conventional implicature approach developed in Barker (Analysis 2000). However, this kind of hybrid expressivism is only acceptable if we can make sense of conventional implicature, the kind of meaning carried by operators like ‘even’, ‘but’, etc. Conventional implictures are a form of pragmatic presupposition, which involves an unsaid mode of delivery of content. I argue that we can make sense of conventional implicatures, but (...)
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  24. added 2014-11-12
    Nicholas Laskowski (2014). How to Pull a Metaphysical Rabbit Out of an End-Relational Semantic Hat. Res Philosophica 91 (4):589-607.
    Analytic reductivism in metaethics has long been out of philosophical vogue. In Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normativity (2014), Stephen Finlay tries to resuscitate it by developing an analytic metaethical reductive naturalistic semantics for ‘good.’ He argues that an end-relational semantics is the simplest account that can explain all of the data concerning the term, and hence the most plausible theory of it. I argue that there are several assumptions that a reductive naturalist would need to make about contextual (...)
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  25. added 2014-11-10
    Stephen Finlay (forthcoming). 'Ought': OUT OF ORDER. In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    This paper argues that the innovation of an ordering source parameter in the standard Lewis-Kratzer semantics for modals was a mistake, at least for English auxiliaries like ‘ought’, and that a simpler dyadic semantics (as proposed in my earlier work) provides a superior account of normative uses of modals. I programmatically investigate problems arising from (i) instrumental conditionals, (ii) gradability and “weak necessity”, (iii) information-sensitivity, and (iv) conflicts, and show how the simpler semantics provides intuitive solutions given three basic moves: (...)
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  26. added 2014-11-10
    Stephen Finlay (2014). The Pragmatics of Normative Disagreement. In Guy Fletcher & Michael Ridge (eds.), Having It Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern Metaethics. Oxford University Press. 124-148.
    Relational theories of normative language allegedly face special problems in accounting for the extent of disagreement, but this is everybody’s problem because normative sentences are relativized to different information in contexts of deliberation and advice. This paper argues that a relational theory provides a pragmatic solution that accounts for some disagreements as involving inconsistent preferences rather than beliefs. This is shown to be superior to the semantic solution offered by expressivists like Allan Gibbard, as it accounts for a wider range (...)
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  27. added 2014-11-10
    Stephen Finlay (2012). Explaining Reasons. Deutsches Jahrbuch Fuer Philosophie 4:112-126.
    What does it mean to call something a “reason”? This paper offers a unifying semantics for the word ‘reason’, challenging three ideas that are popular in contemporary philosophy; (i) that ‘reason’ is semantically ambiguous, (ii) that the concept of a normative reason is the basic normative concept, and (iii) that basic normative concepts are unanalyzable. Nonnormative uses of ‘reason’ are taken as basic, and as meaning explanation why. Talk about normative reasons for action is analyzed in terms of explanations why (...)
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  28. added 2014-11-09
    Aaron Elliott (2014). Can Moral Principles Explain Supervenience? Res Philosophica 91 (4):629-659.
    The distribution of moral properties supervenes on the distribution of natural properties, and this provides a puzzle for non-naturalism: what could explain supervenience if moral properties are not natural properties? Enoch claims moral principles explain supervenience. But this solution is incomplete without an account of what moral principles and properties are, and what relation holds between them. This paper begins to develop such an account by exploring analogous issues for Realism about Laws of nature in philosophy of science. Appealing to (...)
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  29. added 2014-11-06
    Peter Olsthoorn (2015). Honor in Political and Moral Philosophy. State University of New York Press.
    In this history of the development of ideas of honor in Western philosophy, Peter Olsthoorn examines what honor is, how its meaning has changed, and whether it can still be of use. Political and moral philosophers from Cicero to John Stuart Mill thought that a sense of honor and concern for our reputation could help us to determine the proper thing to do, and just as important, provide us with the much-needed motive to do it. Today, outside of the military (...)
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  30. added 2014-11-06
    Brendan Dill & Stephen Darwall (2014). Moral Psychology as Accountability. In Justin D'Arms Daniel Jacobson (ed.), Moral Psychology and Human Agency: Philosophical Essays on the Science of Ethics. Oxford University Press. 40-83.
    Recent work in moral philosophy has emphasized the foundational role played by interpersonal accountability in the analysis of moral concepts such as moral right and wrong, moral obligation and duty, blameworthiness, and moral responsibility (Darwall 2006; 2013a; 2013b). Extending this framework to the field of moral psychology, we hypothesize that our moral attitudes, emotions, and motives are also best understood as based in accountability. Drawing on a large body of empirical evidence, we argue that the implicit aim of the central (...)
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  31. added 2014-11-03
    J. Paul Kelleher (2014). Relevance and Non-Consequentialist Aggregation. Utilitas 26 (4):385-408.
    Interpersonal aggregation involves the combining and weighing of benefits and losses to multiple individuals in the course of determining what ought to be done. Most consequentialists embrace thoroughgoing interpersonal aggregation, the view that any large benefit to each of a few people can be morally outweighed by allocating any smaller benefit to each of many others, so long as this second group is sufficiently large. This would permit letting one person die in order to cure some number of mild headaches (...)
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  32. added 2014-10-25
    Yair Levy (forthcoming). Brennan, Eriksson, Goodin, and Southwood, 'Explaining Norms' (OUP 2013). [REVIEW] Mind.
  33. added 2014-10-22
    Fabrice Correia & Christine Tappolet (2014). Plus on Monte Plus on s’Amuse : Introduction. Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 9 (2):149-151.
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  34. added 2014-10-22
    Antti Kauppinen (2014). Hate and Punishment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence:1-19.
    According to legal expressivism, neither crime nor punishment consists merely in intentionally imposing some kind of harm on another. Crime and punishment also have an expressive aspect. They are what they are in part because they enact attitudes toward others—in the case of crime, some kind of disrespect, at least, and in the case of punishment, society’s condemnation or reprobation. Punishment is justified, at least in part, because (and when) it uniquely expresses fitting condemnation or other retributive attitude. What makes (...)
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  35. added 2014-10-22
    Bruno Guindon (2014). Sources, raisons et exigences. Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 9 (2):152-165.
    Il existe de nombreuses sources d’exigences. Certaines exigences sont normatives dans la mesure où elles impliquent des affirmations concernant ce que nous avons raison de croire, faire, désirer, etc. À ce titre, les exigences morales sont parmi les meilleures candidates. Si la morale exige que l’on tienne notre promesse, il semble que nous avons une raison de la tenir. Cependant, ce ne sont pas toutes les exigences qui sont normatives en ce sens. Le catholicisme exige que l’on assiste à la (...)
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  36. added 2014-10-19
    Felipe Ledesma (2001). El mal radical. Notas sobre la rebelión de las masas. Estudios Orteguianos 2:131-135.
    The radical evil. Notes on the revolt of masses. In his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Kant speaks about a radical evil present in the human being, a tendency to place before the desire with regard to the rational duty, which is impossible to tear up by the roots from the human nature. In The revolt of the masses, Ortega also speaks about an evil that is anyway present in the so called mass-man, in each one of us, (...)
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  37. added 2014-10-01
    Thorsten Sander (2014). A Frege‐Geach Style Objection to Cognitivist Judgment Internalism. Dialectica 68 (3):391-408.
    According to judgment internalism, there is a conceptual connection between moral judgment and motivation. This paper offers an argument against that kind of internalism that does not involve counterexamples of the amoralist sort. Instead, it is argued that these forms of judgment internalism fall prey to a Frege-Geach type argument.
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  38. added 2014-09-30
    Sem de Maagt (2014). In Defence of Fact-Dependency. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):443-462.
    G.A. Cohen and David Estlund claim that, because of their fact-dependent nature, constructivist theories of justice do not qualify as moral theories about fundamental values such as justice. In this paper, I defend fact-dependent, constructivist theories of justice against this fact-independency critique. I argue that constructivists can invoke facts among the grounds for accepting fundamental principles of justice while maintaining that the foundation of morality has to be non-empirical. My claim is that constructivists ultimately account for the normativity of fact-dependent (...)
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  39. added 2014-09-30
    Gunnar Björnsson (2014). Essentially Shared Obligations. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38 (1):103-120.
    This paper lists a number of puzzles for shared obligations – puzzles about the role of individual influence, individual reasons to contribute towards fulfilling the obligation, about what makes someone a member of a group sharing an obligation, and the relation between agency and obligation – and proposes to solve them based on a general analysis of obligations. On the resulting view, shared obligations do not presuppose joint agency.
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  40. added 2014-09-29
    Randolph Clarke (2014). Omissions: Agency, Metaphysics, and Responsibility. Oxford University Press.
    Philosophical theories of agency have focused primarily on actions and activities. But, besides acting, we often omit to do or refrain from doing certain things. How is this aspect of our agency to be conceived? This book offers a comprehensive account of omitting and refraining, addressing issues ranging from the nature of agency and moral responsibility to the metaphysics of absences and causation. Topics addressed include the role of intention in intentional omission, the connection between negligence and omission, the distinction (...)
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  41. added 2014-09-25
    Andras Szigeti (2014). Collective Responsibility and Group-Control. In Julie Zahle & Finn Collin (eds.), Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate. Springer. 97-116.
  42. added 2014-09-22
    Sven Nyholm (2006). Reason-Based Value or Value-Based Reasons? In Björn Haglund & Helge Malmgren (eds.), Kvantifikator För En Dag. Essays Dedicated to Dag Westerståhl on His Sixtieth Birthday. Philosophical Communications. 193-202.
    In this paper, I discuss practical reasons and value, assuming a coexistence thesis according to which reasons and value always go together. I start by doing some taxonomy, distinguishing among three different ways of accounting for the relation between practical reasons and the good. I argue that, of these views, the most plausible one is that according to which something’s being good just consists in how certain facts about the thing in question – other than that of how it is (...)
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