“Sentiment” is a term of art, intended to refer to object-directed, irruptive states, that occur in relatively transient bouts involving positive or negative affect, and that typically involve a distinctive motivational profile. Not all the states normally called “emotions” are sentiments in the sense just characterized. And all the terms for sentiments are sometimes used in English to refer to longer lasting attitudes. But this discussion is concerned with boutish affective states, not standing attitudes. That poses some challenges that will (...) be my focus here. Rational sentimentalism is a cousin of fitting attitude theories of value, but other fitting attitude theories appeal to attitudes that are widely assumed to be governable by certain kinds of judgments. The basic challenge is this: are these boutish sentiments the sorts of things that we can and do regulate in the ways that are required for treating ‘shameful’, ‘funny’, ‘disgusting’ and the like as values? In what follows I briefly sketch some necessary conditions on treating something as a value, from which it emerges that treating sentimental values as values requires regulating the sentiments for fittingness. The rest of the paper is devoted to two ways of understanding how such regulation might work. I argue first that sentiments are susceptible to regulation by evaluative judgment, though perhaps not in quite the same way that philosophers have thought “judgment-sensitive attitudes” are regulated by judgment. I then suggest more tentatively that sentiments are also susceptible to regulation for fittingness in a different way: by educating sensibilities. (shrink)
The Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language is very much still alive, still productive, in the language sciences today. My claim in this paper is that to understand the Bakhtin Circle’s continuing relevance to the language sciences, we have to look beyond the linguistic theory itself, to the philosophical groundwork laid for this project by Bakhtin in what he himself referred to as his philosophical anthropology. This philosophical anthropology, at the center of which stands an architectonics of self—other relations, opens the (...) door for a radical rethinking of what language is and how it works; a rethinking that in turn opens up and coincides with new directions being explored in the language sciences today. Within the context of Bakhtin scholarship, this paper also argues for taking Bakhtin’s early philosophical works more seriously when discussing the Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language. (shrink)
Ethical thought is articulated around normative concepts. Standard examples of normative concepts are good, reason, right, ought, and obligatory. Theorists often treat the normative as an undifferentiated domain. Even so, it is common to distinguish between two kinds of normative concepts: evaluative or axiological concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. This encyclopedia entry discusses the many differences between the two kinds of concepts.
The fitting-attitudes analysis of value, which states that something's being good consists in its being the fitting object of some pro-attitude, has recently been the focus of intense debate. Many objections have been levelled against this analysis. One objection to it concerns the ‘challenge from partiality’, according to which it can be fitting to display partiality toward objects of equal value. Several responses to the challenge have been proposed. This paper criticizes these and other responses and then offers a response (...) that, it is claimed, solves the challenge. (shrink)
It has been known for quite a while now that the on-going project of constructing an acceptable population axiology has gloomy prospects. Already in Derek Parfit’s seminal contribution to the topic, an informal paradox was presented and later contributions have proved similar results.1 All of these contributions invoke, however, some version of a principle – the Mere Addition Principle – which is controversial.2 In Arrhenius (1998), I presented a theorem which didn’t invoke this controversial principle but replaced it with logically (...) and intuitively weaker conditions. Still, however, one of the conditions in my theorem shares with these earlier results the presupposition that welfare can be measured on at least an interval scale.3 One can deny this and, as a matter of.. (shrink)
Suppose one sets up a sequence of less and less valuable objects such that each object in the sequence is only marginally worse than its immediate predecessor. Could one in this way arrive at something that is dramatically inferior to the point of departure? It has been claimed that if there is a radical value difference between the objects at each end of the sequence, then at some point there must be a corresponding radical difference between the adjacent elements. The (...) underlying picture seems to be that a radical gap cannot be scaled by a series of steps, if none of the steps itself is radical. We show that this picture is incorrect on a stronger interpretation of value superiority, but correct on a weaker one. Thus, the conclusion we reach is that, in some sense at least, abrupt breaks in such decreasing sequences cannot be avoided, but that such unavoidable breaks are less drastic than has been suggested. In an appendix written by John Broome and Wlodek Rabinowicz, the distinction between two kinds of value superiority is extended from objects to their attributes. (shrink)
This paper clarifies the nature of moral experience, examines its evidential role in supporting moral judgments, and argues that moral experiences can be among the things having intrinsic value. Moral experience is compared with aesthetic experience and contrasted with its close relative, non-moral experience combined with moral beliefs. The concluding sections explore the case for the organicity of intrinsic value and the kind of role such value can play in grounding moral obligation.
Weiming) has assisted in defining the New Confucian movement, a philosophical discourse that depends on axiological themes and traits based on an exegesis and defense of the revival and reform of traditional Confucian discourse inherited from the Classical and Neo-Confucian waves in East Asia. Thomas A. Metzgerâs discussion of the profound difference between modern Western post-Enlightenment discourse and New Confucian discourse challenges many of Duâs primary assumptions. My conclusion is that Du is both a citizen of the modern Western academy (...) and a Confucian public intellectual dedicated to mediating the great debate that now spans the Pacific ocean between the West and a revived East Asian cultural complex, including New Confucianism as a major dialogue partner at the beginning of the new millennium by continuing the historic Confucian commitment to a theory of values. (shrink)
Theories about value struggles with the problem how toaccount for the motivational force inherent to value judgments. Whereasthe exact role of motivation in evaluation is the subject of somecontroversy, it’s arguably a truism that value has something to do withmotivation. In this paper, I suggest that given that the role of motivationin ethical theory is left quite unspecific by the “truisms” or “platitudes”governing evaluative concepts, a scientific understanding of motivationcan provide a rich source of clues for how we might go (...) about developingan empirically responsible theory of value. More specifically, I argue that naturalist hedonists should be eager to join forces with motivational science: the role of pleasure in themotivational system is such that a sound case for hedonism can be builton it. (shrink)
Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis. Ein Vortrag. Brentano, Vom Ursprung sittl, Erkenntnis, 1 I. Die Einladung zu einem Vortrage, welche die Iuristische Gesellschaft Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis Ein Vortrag Seite Wert der Geschichte und ...
Discussions of the problem of evil presuppose and appeal to axiological and metaethical assumptions, but seldom pay adequate attention to those assumptions. I argue that certain theories of value are consistent with theistic answers to the argument from evil and that several other well-known theories of value, such as hedonism, are difﬁcult, if not impossible, to reconcile with theism. Although moral realism is the subject of lively debate in contemporary philosophy, almost all standard discussions of the problem of evil presuppose (...) the truth of moral realism. I explain the implications of several nonrealist theories of value for the problem of evil and argue that, if nonrealism is true, then we need to rethink and re-frame the entire discussion about the problem of evil. (shrink)
By distinguishing between contributory values and overall value, and by arguing that contributory values are variable values insofar as they contribute diminishing marginal overall value, this article helps to establish the superiority of a certain kind of maximizing, value-pluralist axiology over both sufficientarianism and prioritarianism, as well as over all varieties of value-monism, including utilitarianism and pure egalitarianism.
There has been a process of moral extensionism within environmental ethics from anthropocentrism, through zoocentrism, to ecocentrism. This article maps key elements of that process, and concludes that each of these ethical positions fails as a fully adequate, environmentalist ethic, and does so because of an implicit assumption that is common within normative theory. This notwithstanding, each position may well contribute a value. The problem that then arises is how to trade off those values against each other when they conflict. (...) The solution here proposed is to employ multidimensional isovalue-contours along with a multidimensional practicability-frontier. This would result in a rich, value-pluralist environmentalist ethic that enjoined different outcomes to those enjoined by purely anthropocentric, zoocentric or ecocentric ethics. (shrink)
This paper presents an argument against the widespread view that ‘hard choices’ are hard because of the incomparability of the alternatives. The argument has two parts. First, I argue that any plausible theory of practical reason must be ‘comparativist’ in form, that is, it must hold that a comparative relation between the alternatives with respect to what matters in the choice determines a justified choice in that situation. If comparativist views of practical reason are correct, however, the incomparabilist view of (...) hard choices should be rejected. Incomparabilism about hard choices leads us to an implausible error theory about the phenomenology of hard choices, threatens an unattractive view of human agency, and leaves us in perplexity about what we are doing when we choose in hard choices. The second part of the argument explores the main competitor to comparativist views of practical reason, noncomparativist view, according tow which a choice is justified so long as it is not worse than any of the alternatives. This view is often assumed by rational choice theorists but has its best philosophical defense in work by Joseph Raz. On Raz’s view, incomparabilism about hard choices avoids the problems faced if comparativism is correct, but it faces different difficulties. I argue that Raz’s noncomparativist view mistakenly assimilates practical reason to more restricted normative domains such as the law. (shrink)
One of the most common judgments of normative life takes the following form: With respect to some things that matter, one item is better than the other, with respect to other things that matter, the other item is better, but all things considered – that is, taking into account all the things that matter – the one item is better than the other. In this paper, I explore how all-things-considered judgments are possible, assuming that they are. In particular, I examine (...) the question of how the different considerations relevant to an all-things-considered judgment come together in a way that gives each relevant consideration its proper due. I propose an answer which provides a unified account of all-things-considered judgments and highlights a deep connection between value and reason. My suggestion is that ‘all things considered’ is, in effect, a placeholder for a more comprehensive, sometimes nameless, value that includes the things considered as parts, and that this more comprehensive value determines how the things considered normatively relate. (shrink)
Recently, some of the leading proponents of the view that there is widespread incommensurability among goods have suggested that the incommensurability of some goods is a constitutive feature of the goods themselves. So, for example, a friendship and a million dollars are incommensurable because it is part of what it is to be a friendship that it be incommensurable with money. According to these ‘constitutive incommensurabilists’ incommensurability follows from the very nature of certain goods. In this paper, I examine this (...) idea and argue that constitutive incommensurabilists have mistaken for constitutive incommensurability a particular emphatic kind of comparability. This examination involves an account of ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ goods and an explanation of how goods of different ‘types’ figure in practical conflict. (shrink)
This paper is the introduction to the volume. It gives an argumentative view of the philosophical landscape concerning incommensurability and incomparability. It argues that incomparability, not incommensurability, is the important phenomenon on which philosophers should be focusing and that the arguments for the existence of incomparability are so far not compelling.
This paper considers the relation between the value of a whole (person, society) and its parts (timeslices, individuals), arguing that the contributory value of a part cannot be determined in isolation. For example, the value of an additional life may depend on what other lives there are. This has important implications for population ethics, and especially Parfit's 'repugnant conclusion'.
Campbell Brown has recently argued that G.E. Moore's intrinsic value holism is superior to Jonathan Dancy's. I show that the advantage which Brown claims for Moore's view over Dancy's is illusory, and that Dancy's view may be superior.
Doppelt (1986,1990), Siegel (1990), and Rosenberg (1996) argue that the pivotal feature of Laudan's normative naturalism, namely his axiology, lacks a naturalistic foundation. In this paper I show that this objection turns on a misunderstanding of Laudan's use of the term 'naturalism'. Specifically, I argue that there are two important senses of naturalism running through Laudan's work. Once these two strands are made explicit, the objection raised by Doppelt and others simply disappears.
Pleasure is one of the strongest candidates for an occurrence that might be good, in some respect, unconditionally. Malicious pleasure is one of the most often cited alleged counter-examples to pleasure’s being an unconditional good. Correctly evaluating malicious pleasure is more complex than people realize. I defend pleasure’s unconditionally good status from critics of malicious pleasure.
By what types of properties do we specify twinges, toothaches, and other kinds of mental states? Wittgenstein considers two methods. Procedure one, direct, private acquaintance: A person connects a word to the sensation it specifies through noticing what that sensation is like in his own experience. Procedure two, outward signs: A person pins his use of a word to outward, pre-verbal signs of the sensation. I identify and explain a third procedure and show we in fact specify many kinds of (...) mental states in this way. (shrink)
That all pleasure is good and all pain bad in itself is an eternally true ethical principle. The common claim that some pleasure is not good, or some pain not bad, is mistaken. Strict particularism (ethical decisions must be made case by case; there are no sound universal normative principles) and relativism (all good and bad are relative to society) are among the ethical theories we may refute through an appeal to pleasure and pain. Daniel Dennett, Philippa Foot, R M (...) Hare, Gilbert Harman, Immanuel Kant, J. L. Mackie, and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the many philosophers addressed. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that the small-improvement fails since some of the comparisons involved in the argument might be indeterminate. I defend this view from two objections by Ruth Chang, namely the argument from phenomenology and the argument from perplexity. There are some other objections to the small-improvement argument that also hinge on claims about indeterminacy. John Broome argues that alleged cases of value incomparability are merely examples of indeterminacy in the betterness relation. The main premise of his argument (...) is the much-discussed collapsing principle. I offer a new counterexample to this principle and argue that Broome's defence of the principle is not cogent. On the other hand, Nicolas Espinoza argues that the small-improvement argument fails as a result of the mere possibility of evaluative indeterminacy. I argue that his objection is unsuccessful. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against defining either of ‘good’ and ‘better’ in terms of the other. According to definitions of ‘good’ in terms of ‘better’, something is good if and only if it is better than some indifference point. Against this approach, I argue that the indifference point cannot be defined in terms of ‘better’ without ruling out some reasonable axiologies. Against defining ‘better’ in terms of ‘good’, I argue that this approach either cannot allow for the incorruptibility of (...) intrinsic goodness or it breaks down in cases where both of the relata of ‘better’ are bad. (shrink)
If A is better than B and B is better than C, then A is better than C, right? Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels say: No! Betterness is nontransitive, they claim. In this paper, I discuss the central type of argument advanced by Temkin and Rachels for this radical idea, and argue that, given this view very likely has sceptical implications for practical reason, we would do well to identify alternative responses. I propose one such response, which employs the idea (...) that rational agents might regard some options as incommensurate in value, and will reasonably employ a heuristic of status quo maintenance to avoid suboptimal choices from incommensurate goods. (shrink)