Faultless disagreements are disagreements between two people, neither of whom has made a mistake or is at fault. It has been argued that there are faultless moral disagreements, that they cannot be accommodated by moral realism, and that in order to account for them, a form of relativism must be accepted. I argue that moral realism can accommodate faultless moral disagreement, provided that the phenomena is understood epistemically, and I give a brief defence of the relevant moral epistemology.
The Beloved Self is about the holy grail of moral philosophy, an argument against egoism that proves that we all have reasons to be moral. Part One introduces three different versions of egoism. Part Two looks at attempts to prove that egoism is false, and shows that even the more modest arguments that do not try to answer the egoist in her own terms seem to fail. But in part Three, Hills defends morality and develops a new problem for egoism, (...) an epistemological problem. She shows that it is not epistemically rational to believe the most plausible versions of egoism. The first part of the book will be most relevant to those interested in moral theory, as it contains detailed discussions of recent interpretations of virtue ethics and especially of Kant's moral theory. The second and third part of the book turn to epistemology, particularly moral epistemology, and include an account of the relationship between knowledge and action, a new theory of moral understanding, and a discussion of the epistemically rational response to various kinds of disagreement. Hills also defends a new account of virtue and of morally worthy action. (shrink)
One familiar criticism of utilitarianism is that it is too demanding. It requires us to promote the happiness of others, even at the expense of our own projects, our integrity, or the welfare of our friends and family. Recently Ashford has defended utilitarianism, arguing that it provides compelling reasons for demanding duties to help the needy, and that other moral theories, notably contractualism, are committed to comparably stringent duties. In response, I argue that utilitarianism is even more demanding than is (...) commonly realized: both act- and rule-utilitarianism are committed to extremely stringent duties to wild animals. In this regard, utilitarianism is more demanding (and more counter-intuitive) than contractualism. (shrink)
Why should we be interested in Kant's ethical theory? One reason is that we find his views about our moral responsibilities appealing. Anyone who thinks that we should treat other people with respect, that we should not use them as a mere means in ways to which they could not possibly consent, will be attracted by a Kantian style of ethical theory. But according to recent supporters of Kant, the most distinctive and important feature of his ethical theory is not (...) his claims about the particular ethical duties that we owe to each other, but his views about the nature of value. They argue that Kant has an account of the relationship between practical reason and value, known as "Kantian constructivism" that is far superior to the traditional "value realist" theory, and that it is because of this that we should accept his theory.1 It is now standard for both supporters and critics to claim that Kant's moral theory stands or falls with Kantian constructivism.2 But this is a mistake. In this paper, I sketch a rival Kantian theory of value, which I call Kantian value realism. I argue that there is textual evidence that Kant himself accepted value realism rather than constructivism. Whilst my aim in this paper is to set out the theory clearly rather than to defend it, I will try to show that Kantian value realism is preferable to Kantian constructivism and that it is worthy of further study. (shrink)
It is widely believed that we always have reason to maximize the good. Utilitarianism and other consequentialist theories depend on this conception of value. Scanlon has argued that this view of value is not generally correct, but that it is most plausible with regard to the value of pleasure, and may even be true at least of that. But there are reasons to think that even the value of pleasure is not teleological.
The difficulty of distinguishing between the intended and the merely foreseen consequences of actions seems to many to be the most serious problem for the doctrine of double effect. It has led some to reject the doctrine altogether, and has left some of its defenders recasting it in entirely different terms. I argue that these responses are unnecessary. Using Bratman’s conception of intention, I distinguish the intended consequences of an action from the merely foreseen in a way that can be (...) used to support the doctrine of double effect. (shrink)
How should we decide which theory of practical reason is correct? One possibility is to link each conception of practical reason with a theory of value, and to assess the first in combination with the second. Recently some philosophers have taken a different approach. They have tried to link theories of practical reason with theories of action instead. I try to show that it can be illuminating to think of practical reason in terms of the success conditions of action, but (...) ultimately this is in addition to, rather than a substitute for, relating practical reason to value as well. I set out three different conceptions of action and corresponding success conditions, and explain how each is linked to a particular conception of practical reason and, in two cases, to a theory of value too. My goal is to describe these different accounts, rather than to defend any in particular, though I will suggest that some are more satisfactory than others. Key Words: action commitment intention practical reason value. (shrink)
Sidgwick argued that utilitarianism was not rationally required because it could not be shown that a utilitarian theory of practical reason was better justified than a rival egoist theory of practical reason: there is a 'dualism of practical reason' between utilitarianism and egoism. In this paper, it is demonstrated that the dualism argument also applies to Kant's moral theory, the moral law. A prudential theory that is parallel to the moral law is devised, and it is argued that the moral (...) law is no better justified than this prudential theory. So the moral law is not rationally required. It is suggested that the dualism argument is a completely general argument that ethics cannot be rationally required. (shrink)
Sidgwick argued that utilitarianism and egoism were in conflict, that neither theory was better justified than the other, and concluded that there was a and all that remained to him was . The dualism argument introduced by Sidgwick is an extremely powerful sceptical argument that no theory of ethics is rationally required: it cannot be shown that a moral sceptic or an egoist ought to accept the moral theory, otherwise she is unreasonable. I explain two ways in which the significance (...) of the dualism argument has been underestimated. First, I suggest that a hybrid theory such as utilitarianism with an egoist bias is not (as is sometimes thought) a solution to the dualism. Second, I argue that the dualism argument is not restricted to a conflict between hedonic egoism and utilitarianism, but applies to any attempt to show that a theory of ethics is rationally required. (shrink)
According to the doctrine of double effect(DDE), there is a morally significantdifference between harm that is intended andharm that is merely foreseen and not intended.It is not difficult to explain why it is bad tointend harm as an end (you have a ``badattitude'' toward that harm) but it is hard toexplain why it is bad to intend harm as a meansto some good end. If you intend harm as a meansto some good end, you need not have a ``badattitude'' toward (...) it. I distinguish two ways inwhich you can treat something that is yourchosen means to your ends. You can pursue yourends directly, and treat X as a mere means thatyou pursue for the sake of your end. Or you canpursue your ends indirectly, and treat X as a``plan-relative end'' that you pursue for its ownsake. I argue that much of the time we pursueour ends indirectly, and treat our means asplan-relative ends. There are significantanalogies between intending harm as an end, andintending harm as a plan-relative end. So,under certain circumstances, it is morallyworse to intend harm as a means or an end thanto foresee bringing about the same amount of harm. (shrink)