There are many conceivable circumstances in which some people have to be sacrificed in order to give others a chance to survive. The fair and rational method of selection is a lottery with equal chances. But why should losers comply, when they have nothing to lose in a war of all against all? A novel solution to this Compliance Problem is proposed. The lottery must be made self-enforcing by making the lots themselves the means of enforcement of the outcome. This (...) way no external authority is needed to make the losers’ compliance rational both ex ante and ex post. A fairly realistic concrete scenario is sketched to show that the solution could be made to work in practice, particularly since making it work is in everyone’s enlightened self-interest in the circumstances. (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to bring together contemporary psychological literature on emotion regulation and the classical sentimentalism of David Hume and Adam Smith to arrive at a plausible account of empathy's role in explaining patterns of moral judgment. Along the way, I criticize related arguments by Michael Slote, Jesse Prinz, and others.
It seems to many that moral opinions must make a difference to what we’re motivated to do, at least in suitable conditions. For others, it seems that it is possible to have genuine moral opinions that make no motivational difference. Both sides – internalists and externalists about moral motivation – can tell persuasive stories of actual and hypothetical cases. My proposal for a kind of reconciliation is to distinguish between two kinds of psychological states with moral content. There are both (...) moral thoughts or opinions that intrinsically motivate, and moral thoughts or opinions that don’t. The thoughts that intrinsically motivate are moral intuitions – spontaneous and compelling non-doxastic appearances of right or wrong that both attract assent and incline us to act or react. I argue that there is good reason to think that these intuitions, but not moral judgments, are constituted by manifestations of moral sentiments. The moral thoughts that do not intrinsically motivate are moral beliefs, which are in themselves as inert as any ordinary beliefs. Thus, roughly, internalism is true about intuitions and externalism is true about beliefs or judgments. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers use the term 'intuition' for a variety of different phenomena. In this paper, I try to provide a kind of a roadmap of the debates, point to some confusions and problems, and give a brief sketch of an empirically respectable philosophical approach.
Sentimentalism comes in many varieties: explanatory sentimentalism, judgment sentimentalism, metaphysical sentimentalism, and epistemic sentimentalism. This encyclopedia entry gives an overview of the positions and main arguments pro and con.
(Pdf updated to final, slightly revised version of November 2010) -/- Almost everyone would prefer to lead a meaningful life. But what is meaning in life and what makes a life meaningful? I argue, first, for a new analysis of the concept of meaningfulness in terms of the appropriateness of feelings of fulfilment and admiration. Second, I argue that while the best current conceptions of meaningfulness, such as Susan Wolf’s view that in a meaningful life ‘subjective attraction meets objective attractiveness’, (...) do a fairly good job capturing meaningfulness at a time, we need an account that makes sense of the intimate connection between meaningfulness and having a direction in one’s life. According to the Teleological View I propose, what makes a single chapter of a life most meaningful is success in reaching central, objectively valuable goals as a result of exercising essential human capacities. Life as a whole is most meaningful when past efforts increase the success of future goal-setting, goal-seeking, and goal-reaching, so that the life forms a coherent whole without being dedicated to a single aim. Since coherence in this sense is a holistic property of a life, global prudential value is not a function of local prudential values. I suggest that just as pleasure is the final good of human beings as subjects of experience, meaningfulness is the final good of human beings as active agents. (shrink)
The central question of the branch of metaethics we may call philosophical moral psychology concerns the nature or essence of moral judgment: what is it to think that something is right or wrong, good or bad, obligatory or forbidden? One datum in this inquiry is that sincerely held moral views appear to influence conduct: on the whole, people do not engage in behaviours they genuinely consider base or evil, sometimes even when they would stand to benefit from it personally. Moral (...) judgments thus appear to be motivationally effective, at least to an extent. This motivational success would be readily explained if they simply were motivationally effective psychological states, such as desires. This is what Hobbes seems to do when he claims that "whatsoever is the object of any man's appetite or desire, that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate and aversion, evil."1 But this is far too quick. We know that moral judgments can also fail to lead to corresponding action. For example, since it is conceptually possible – not to mention all too common in the actual world – to think that something is wrong and yet want to do it, thinking that something is wrong cannot simply consist in aversion toward it, unlike Hobbes seems to have thought. In this way, reflection on the various.. (shrink)
Dan Haybron has argued by counterexample that perfectionism fails as a theory of well-being. I respond by articulating two different versions of diachronic perfectionism, which takes into account the level of development and exercise of essential human capacities over the course of an entire lifetime.
In this article, the author discusses the methodology of the internalism debate and the role that neuroscience and related experimental methods can play in it. The author argues that findings in either actual or fictional experimental psychology or neuroscience have little relevance to the debate. He claims that the findings do not provide any independent support pro or con internalism. He also observes that the traditional view of the methodological autonomy of philosophical moral psychology remains well-grounded.
In disputes about conceptual analysis, each side typically appeals to pre-theoretical 'intuitions' about particular cases. Recently, many naturalistically oriented philosophers have suggested that these appeals should be understood as empirical hypotheses about what people would say when presented with descriptions of situations, and have consequently conducted surveys on non-specialists. I argue that this philosophical research programme, a key branch of what is known as 'experimental philosophy', rests on mistaken assumptions about the relation between people's concepts and their linguistic behaviour. The (...) conceptual claims that philosophers make imply predictions about the folk's responses only under certain demanding, counterfactual conditions. Because of the nature of these conditions, the claims cannot be tested with methods of positivist social science. We are, however, entitled to appeal to intuitions about folk concepts in virtue of possessing implicit normative knowledge acquired through reflective participation in everyday linguistic practices. (shrink)
Normative political philosophy always refers to a standard against which a society's institutions are judged. In the first, analytical part of the article, the different possible forms of normative criticism are examined according to whether the standards it appeals to are external or internal to the society in question. In the tradition of Socrates and Hegel, it is argued that reconstructing the kind of norms that are implicit in practices enables a critique that does not force the critic's particular views (...) on the addressee and can also be motivationally effective. In the second part of the article, Axel Honneth's theory of recognition is examined as a form of such reconstructive internal critique . It is argued that while the implicit norms of recognition made explicit in Honneth's philosophical anthropology help explain progressive social struggles as moral ones, his theory faces two challenges in justifying internal critique. The Priority Challenge asks for the reasons why the implicit norms of recognition should be taken as the standard against which other implicit and explicit norms are to be judged. The Application Challenge asks why a social group should, by its own lights, extend equal recognition to all its members and even non-members. The kind of functional, prudential, conceptual, and moral considerations that could serve to answer these challenges are sketched. (shrink)