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Profile: Charles R Pigden (University of Otago)
  1. Charles R. Pigden (2012). A 'Sensible Knave'? Hume, Jane Austen and Mr Elliot. Intellectual History Review 22 (3):465-480.
    This paper deals with what I take to be one woman’s literary response to a philosophical problem. The woman is Jane Austen, the problem is the rationality of Hume’s ‘sensible knave’, and Austen’s response is to deepen the problem. Despite his enthusiasm for virtue, Hume reluctantly concedes in the EPM that injustice can be a rational strategy for ‘sensible knaves’, intelligent but selfish agents who feel no aversion towards thoughts of villainy or baseness. Austen agrees, but adds that ABSENT CONSIDERATIONS (...)
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  2. Charles R. Pigden (2012). Identifying Goodness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):93 - 109.
    The paper reconstructs Moore's Open Question Argument (OQA) and discusses its rise and fall. There are three basic objections to the OQA: Geach's point, that Moore presupposes that ?good? is a predicative adjective (whereas it is in fact attributive); Lewy's point, that it leads straight to the Paradox of Analysis; and Durrant's point that even if 'good' is not synonymous with any naturalistic predicate, goodness might be synthetically identical with a naturalistic property. As against Geach, I argue that 'good' has (...)
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  3. Charles R. Pigden (2010). Coercive Theories of Meaning or Why Language Shouldn't Matter (So Much) to Philosophy. Logique Et Analyse 53 (210):151.
    This paper is a critique of coercive theories of meaning, that is, theories (or criteria) of meaning designed to do down ones opponents by representing their views as meaningless or unintelligible. Many philosophers from Hobbes through Berkeley and Hume to the pragmatists, the logical positivists and (above all) Wittgenstein have devised such theories and criteria in order to discredit their opponents. I argue 1) that such theories and criteria are morally obnoxious, a) because they smack of the totalitarian linguistic tactics (...)
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  4. Charles R. Pigden (ed.) (2010). Hume on Motivation and Virtue. Palgrave Macmillan.
  5. Charles R. Pigden (ed.) (2009). Hume on Motivation and Virtue: New Essays. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Contemporary ethical thought owes a great deal to David Hume whose work has inspired theories as diverse as non-cognitivism, error theory, quasi-realism, and instrumentalism about practical reason. This timely volume brings together an international range of distinguished scholars to discuss and dispute issues revolving around three closely related Humean themes which have recently come under close scrutiny. First is Hume's infamous claim that 'Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions'. Second, the Motivation (or Influence) Argument (...)
     
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  6. Charles R. Pigden (2009). If Not Non-Cognitivism, Then What? In , Hume on Motivation and Virtue. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Taking my cue from Michael Smith, I try to extract a decent argument for non-cognitivism from the text of the Treatise. I argue that the premises are false and that the whole thing rests on a petitio principi. I then re-jig the argument so as to support that conclusion that Hume actually believed (namely that an action is virtuous if it would excite the approbation of a suitably qualified spectator). This argument too rests on false premises and a begged question. (...)
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  7. Charles R. Pigden (2007). Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom. Episteme 4 (2):219-232.
    Abstract Conspiracy theories should be neither believed nor investigated - that is the conventional wisdom. I argue that it is sometimes permissible both to investigate and to believe. Hence this is a dispute in the ethics of belief. I defend epistemic “oughts” that apply in the first instance to belief-forming strategies that are partly under our control. But the beliefforming strategy of not believing conspiracy theories would be a political disaster and the epistemic equivalent of selfmutilation. I discuss several variations (...)
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  8. Charles R. Pigden (2007). Hume, Motivation and “the Moral Problem”. Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 62 (3):199-221.
    Hume is widely regarded as the grandfather of emotivism and indeed of non-cognitivism in general. For the chief argument for emotivism - the Argument from Motivation - is derived from him. In my opinion Hume was not an emotivist or proto-emotivist but a moral realist in the modern ‘response-dependent’ style. But my interest in this paper is not the historical Hume but the Hume of legend since the legendary Hume is one of the most influential philosophers of the present age. (...)
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  9. Charles R. Pigden (2007). Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):441 - 456.
    Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem Was Nietzsche a nihilist? Yes, because, like J. L. Mackie, he was an error-theorist about morality, including the elitist morality to which he himself subscribed. But he was variously a diagnostician, an opponent and a survivor of certain other kinds of nihilism. Schacht argues that Nietzsche cannot have been an error theorist, since meta-ethical nihilism is inconsistent with the moral commitment that Nietzsche displayed. Schacht’s exegetical argument parallels the substantive argument (advocated in recent years (...)
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  10. Colin Cheyne & Charles R. Pigden (1996). Pythagorean Powers or a Challenge to Platonism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):639 – 645.
    The Quine/Putnam indispensability argument is regarded by many as the chief argument for the existence of platonic objects. We argue that this argument cannot establish what its proponents intend. The form of our argument is simple. Suppose indispensability to science is the only good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects. Either the dispensability of mathematical objects to science can be demonstrated and, hence, there is no good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects, or their (...)
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  11. Charles R. Pigden (1996). Bertrand Russell: Meta-Ethical Pioneer. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (2):181-204.
    Bertrand Russell was a meta-ethical pioneer, the original inventor of both emotivism and the error theory. Why, having abandoned emotivism for the error theory, did he switch back to emotivism in the 1920s? Perhaps he did not relish the thought that as a moralist he was a professional hypocrite. In addition, Russell's version of the error theory suffers from severe defects. He commits the naturalistic fallacy and runs afoul of his own and Moore's arguments against subjectivism. These defects could be (...)
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  12. Charles R. Pigden & Grant R. Gillet (1996). Milgram, Method and Morality. Journal of Applied Philosophy 13 (3):233-250.
    Milgram’s experiments, subjects were induced to inflict what they believed to be electric shocks in obedience to a man in a white coat. This suggests that many of us can be persuaded to torture, and perhaps kill, another person simply on the say-so of an authority figure. But the experiments have been attacked on methodological, moral and methodologico-moral grounds. Patten argues that the subjects probably were not taken in by the charade; Bok argues that lies should not be used in (...)
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  13. Charles R. Pigden (1990). Geach on `Good'. Philosophical Quarterly 40 (159):129-154.
    In his celebrated 'Good and Evil' (l956) Professor Geach argues as against the non-naturalists that ‘good’ is attributive and that the predicative 'good', as used by Moore, is senseless.. 'Good' when properly used is attributive. 'There is no such thing as being just good or bad, [that is, no predicative 'good'] there is only being a good or bad so and so'. On the other hand, Geach insists, as against non-cognitivists, that good-judgments are entirely 'descriptive'. By a consideration of what (...)
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  14. Charles R. Pigden (1990). Ought-Implies-Can: Erasmus Luther and R.M. Hare. Sophia 29 (1):2-30.
    l. There is an antinomy in Hare's thought between Ought-Implies-Can and No-Indicatives-from-Imperatives. It cannot be resolved by drawing a distinction between implication and entailment. 2. Luther resolved this antinomy in the l6th century, but to understand his solution, we need to understand his problem. He thought the necessity of Divine foreknowledge removed contingency from human acts, thus making it impossible for sinners to do otherwise than sin. 3. Erasmus objected (on behalf of Free Will) that this violates Ought-Implies-Can which he (...)
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  15. Charles R. Pigden (1990). Locke and the Scriblerians: Identity and Consciousness in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Review). Philosophy and Literature 14 (1):161-162.
  16. Charles R. Pigden (1989). Logic and the Autonomy of Ethics. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (2):127 – 151.
    My first paper on the Is/Ought issue. The young Arthur Prior endorsed the Autonomy of Ethics, in the form of Hume’s No-Ought-From-Is (NOFI) but the later Prior developed a seemingly devastating counter-argument. I defend Prior's earlier logical thesis (albeit in a modified form) against his later self. However it is important to distinguish between three versions of the Autonomy of Ethics: Ontological, Semantic and Ontological. Ontological Autonomy is the thesis that moral judgments, to be true, must answer to a realm (...)
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  17. Colin Cheyne & Charles R. Pigden, Pythagorean Powers.
    The Quine/Putnam indispensability argument is regarded by many as the chief argument for the existence of platonic objects. We argue that this argument cannot establish what its proponents intend. The form of our argument is simple. Suppose indispensability to science is the only good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects. Either the dispensability of mathematical objects to science can be demonstrated and, hence, there is no good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects, or their (...)
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