The Knobe effect is the phenomenon demonstrated in the course of repeated studies showing that moral valence affects the way in which we apply concepts. Knobe explains the effect by appealing to the nature of the concepts themselves: whether they actually apply in some situation depends upon the moral valence of some element of that situation. In this paper, a different picture of the effect is presented and given motivation. It is suggested that subjects apply concepts on the basis of (...) substitution inferences. It is attempted to show that this picture is incompatible with, but preferable to, Knobe’s theory. In closing, some further observations and suggestions are given with respect to further research into the apparent effect of moral valence. (shrink)
In “Moral Disagreement and Moral Expertise” (2007), I offer an argument for the conclusion that our controversial moral beliefs do not amount to knowledge. In this paper, I defend that argument against the criticisms put forth by Nathan King in his “McGrath on Moral Knowledge.”.
McGrath, John The Church 'exists to evangelise'. It is its essential mission. Catholic schooling in Australia professes its enthusiasm for being 'part of the evangelising mission of the Church'. It always has. However, the call to renewed ways of evangelisation in new and diverse circumstances gives rise to a number of questions: How should schools respond to new contexts? What principles should underpin their evangelising efforts? What are some of the renewed ways by which school systems strive to meet (...) the challenges of spreading the Good News today? (shrink)
On the face of it, some of our knowledge is of moral facts (for example, that this promise should not be broken in these circumstances), and some of it is of non-moral facts (for example, that the kettle has just boiled). But, some argue, there is reason to believe that we do not, after all, know any moral facts. For example, according to J. L. Mackie, if we had moral knowledge (‘‘if we were aware of [objective values]’’), ‘‘it would have (...) to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else’’(1977,p.38).But wehavenosuchspecialfaculty.So,wehavenomoralknowledge. Following Mackie, let us distinguish two questions: Q1: Assuming that we have moral knowledge, how do we have it? Q2: Do we in fact have any moral knowledge? In response to the first question, I argue that if we have moral knowledge, we have some of it in the same way we have knowledge of our immediate environment: by perception. Many people think that this answer leads to moral skepticism, because they think that we obviously cannot have moral knowledge by perception. But I will argue that this is incorrect. The plan for the paper is as follows. In Sections 2–4, I work up to my answer to Q1 by considering rivals. In Section 5, I explain what marks my answer to Q1 as a distinctive view, and defend it. In Section 6, I briefly discuss how this answer to Q1 affects what we say in response to Q2. (shrink)
The phenomenon of persistent ethical disagreement is often cited in connection with the question of whether there is any ‘‘absolute’’ morality, or whether, instead, morality is in some sense merely ‘‘a matter of personal opinion’’. Citing disagreement, many people who hold strong views about controversial issues such as the permissibility of abortion, eating meat, or the death penalty deny that these views are anything more than ‘‘personal beliefs’’. But while there might be inconsistencies lurking in this position, it is not (...) obviously at fault for according the facts about disagreement some epistemic weight. This paper addresses the question of whether and to what extent moral disagreement undermines moral knowledge. The most familiar arguments from disagreement in the literature purport to establish conclusions about the metaphysics of morality: that there are no moral facts, or that there are no moral properties, or that the moral facts are relative rather than absolute. Of course, the conclusions of some such metaphysical arguments might be perfectly consistent with the existence of considerable moral knowledge. For example, even if there is some successful argument from disagreement to the conclusion that moral facts are relative rather than absolute, this might very well be consistent with our having just as much moral knowledge as we.. (shrink)
Suppose that one is at least a minimal realist about a given domain, in that one thinks that that domain contains truths that are not in any interesting sense of our own making. Given such an understanding, what can be said for and against the method of reflective equilibrium as a procedure for investigating the domain? One fact that lends this question some interest is that many philosophers do combine commitments to minimal realism and a reflective equilibrium methodology. Here, for (...) example, is David Lewis on philosophy: Our “intuitions” are simply opinions: our philosophical theories are the same. Some are commonsensical, some are sophisticated; some are particular; some general; some are more firmly held, some less. But they are all opinions, and a reasonable goal for a philosopher is to bring them into equilibrium. Our common task it to find out what equilibria there are that can withstand examination, but it remains for each of us to come to rest at one or another of them… Once the menu of well-worked out theories is before us, philosophy is a matter of opinion. Is that to say that there is no truth to be had? Or that the truth is of our own making, and different ones of us can make it differently? Not at all! If you say flatly that there is no god, and I say that there are countless gods but none of them are our worldmates, then it may be that neither of us is making any mistake of method. We may each be bringing our opinions to equilibrium in the most careful possible way, taking account of all the arguments, distinctions, and counterexamples. But one of us, at least, is making a mistake of fact. Which one is wrong depends on what there is (1983: x-xi). In addition to philosophy in general, the method of reflective equilibrium has also been endorsed as the appropriate procedure for investigating various other subject.. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a neglected puzzle for the moral realist. I then canvass some potential responses. Although I endorse one response as the most promising of those I survey, my primary goal is to make vivid how formidable the puzzle is, as opposed to offering a definitive solution.
Some omissions seem to be causes. For example, suppose Barry promises to water Alice’s plant, doesn’t water it, and that the plant then dries up and dies. Barry’s not watering the plant – his omitting to water the plant – caused its death. But there is reason to believe that if omissions are ever causes, then there is far more causation by omission than we ordinarily think. In other words, there is reason to think the following thesis true.
We pretend that philosophical problems divide into the various subfields of philosophy, but to take this pretense too seriously is a mistake. Philosophical problems often raise issues within more than one subfield, and require knowledge of and insights from several subfields. To pretend that ethical questions can be pursued in isolation from the rest of philosophy would be to miss out on a great deal. This course will highlight some recent, cutting—edge work on problems at the overlap of ethics and (...) three other subfields of philosophy. The course has three sections: Ethics and Metaphysics, Ethics and Language, and Ethics and Epistemology. We will examine questions such as the following: ls there moral luck? ls there a morally significant making/allowing distinction? Can work in the metaphysics of causation help us to answer these two questions? Does a careful reflection on modality, and the recognition that each of us could have lived different lives, ultimately show that consequentialism is true? Can recent work in the philosophy of language on generics help us to understand moral generalizations better? Can it help us to settle whether particularism is true? Can recent work on semantic relativism solve problems for Expressivism? What can advances in the study of vagueness tell us about slippery—slope arguments and other Sorites—like arguments in ethics? Should we expect reasonable, fully—informed people to converge on the same moral beliefs over time? What is the epistemic significance of our predictions regarding convergence? What is the epistemic significance of widespread moral disagreement? ls it reasonable to rely on first—order moral beliefs in answering such meta—ethical questions as d0 we have maral knawledge? and is maral realism true} Are there moral experts? (shrink)
We argue, contrary to epistemological orthodoxy, that knowledge is not purely epistemic -- that knowledge is not simply a matter of truth-related factors (evidence, reliability, etc.). We do this by arguing for a pragmatic condition on knowledge, KA: if a subject knows that p, then she is rational to act as if p. KA, together with fallibilism, entails that knowledge is not purely epistemic. We support KA by appealing tothe role of knowledge-citations in defending and criticizing actions, and by giving (...) a principled argument for KA, based on the inference rule KB: if a subject knows that A is the best thing she can do, she is rational to do A. In the second half of the paper, we consider and reject the two most promising objections to our ease for KA, one based on the Gricean notion of conversational implicature and the other based on a contextualist maneuver. (shrink)
Much of the plausibility of epistemic conservatism derives from its prospects of explaining our rationality in holding memory beliefs. In the first two parts of this paper, I argue for the inadequacy of the two standard approaches to the epistemology of memory beliefs, preservationism and evidentialism. In the third, I point out the advantages of the conservative approach and consider how well conservatism survives three of the strongest objections against it. Conservatism does survive, I claim, but only if qualified in (...) certain ways. Appropriately qualified, conservatism is no longer the powerful anti-skeptical tool some have hoped for, but a doctrine closely connected with memory. (shrink)
We begin by asking what fallibilism about knowledge is, distinguishing several conceptions of fallibilism and giving reason to accept what we call strong epistemic fallibilism, the view that one can know that something is the case even if there remains an epistemic chance, for one, that it is not the case. The task of the paper, then, concerns how best to defend this sort of fallibilism from the objection that it is “mad,” that it licenses absurd claims such as “I (...) know that p but there’s a chance that not p ” and “ p but it there’s a chance that not p .” We argue that the best defense of fallibilism against this objection—a “pragmatist” defense—makes the following claims. First, while knowledge that p is compatible with an epistemic chance that not- p , it is compatible only with an insignificant such chance. Second, the insignificance of the chance that not- p is plausibly understood in terms of the irrelevance of that chance to p ’s serving as a ‘justifier’, for action as well as belief. In other words, if you know that p , then any chance for you that not p doesn’t stand in the way of p ’s being properly put to work as a basis for action and belief. (shrink)
Case B. You tell me that eating meat is immoral. Although I believe that, left to my own devices, I would not think this, no matter how long I reflected, I adopt your attitude as my own. It is not that I believe that you are better informed about potentially relevant non-moral facts (e.g., about the conditions under which livestock is kept, or about the typical effects of eliminating meat from one’s diet). On the contrary, I know that I have (...) all of the non-moral information relevant to the issue that you have. (shrink)
One familiar form of argument for rejecting entities of a certain kind is that, by rejecting them, we avoid certain difficult problems associated with them. Such problem-avoidance arguments backfire if the problems cited survive the elimination of the rejected entities. In particular, we examine one way problems can survive: a question for the realist about which of a set of inconsistent statements is false may give way to an equally difficult question for the eliminativist about which of a set of (...) inconsistent statements fail to be 'factual'. Much of the first half of the paper is devoted to explaining a notion of factuality that does not imply truth but still consists in 'getting the world right'. The second half of the paper is a case study. Some 'compositional nihilists' have argued that, by rejecting composite objects (and so by denying the composition ever takes place), we avoid the notorious puzzles of coincidence, for example, the statue/lump and the ship of Theseus puzzles. Using the apparatus developed in the first half of the paper, we explore the question of whether these puzzles survive the elimination of composite objects. (shrink)
A reformulation of the Kochen and Specker Theorem is used to show how quantum disjunctive facts have presented an insurmountable obstacle to mainstream attempts to motivate quantum logic. The failure of these attempts represents a progressive retrenchment of the program of connecting quantum logic to quantum theory. However, a recent program proposed by Allen Stairs gives those who embrace a realist ontology of quantum "facts" reason to believe quantum logic may yet be read off quantum theory.
Throw: Harry throws a stone at Dick, hitting him. Intuitively, there is a moral difference between the first and the second case of each of these pairs.1 In the second case, the agent’s behavior is morally worse than his behavior in the first case. But in each pair, the agent’s behavior has the same outcome: in No Check and Shoot, the outcome is that a child dies, and Jim saves $40; in No Catch and Throw, the outcome is that Dick (...) is hit by a stone. Let us call these pairs of cases “the paradigm pairs.” The paradigm pairs, and others like them, provide evidence that common sense morality is not consequentialist: common sense morality does not judge the moral worth of actions just in terms of their consequences. But it has proved extremely difficult to provide an account of a morally relevant difference between the members of pairs like the ones above. One hypothesis about the difference that has received a lot of attention in the literature is that in the first kind of case the agent allows the outcome to occur, while in the second the agent makes the.. (shrink)
This paper argues, in response to Huw Price, that deflationism has the resources to account for the normativity of truth. The discussion centers on a principle of hyper-objective assertibility, that one is incorrect to assert that p if not-p. If this principle doesn't state a fact about truth, it neednt be explained by deflationists. If it does,, it can be explained.
The correspondence theory of truth is often thought to be supported by the intuition that if a proposition (sentence, belief) is true, then something makes it true. I argue that this appearance is illusory and is sustained only by a conflation of two distinct notions of truthmaking, existential and non-existential. Once the conflation is exposed, I maintain, deflationism is seen to be adequate for accommodating truthmaking intuitions.
In recent years there has been an increasing critique of the philosophically based reasoning in bioethics which is known as principlism. This article seeks to make a postmodern contribution to this emerging debate by using notions of power and discourse to highlight the limits and superficiality of this , rationalistic mode of reflection. The focus of the discussion will be on the principle of autonomy. Recent doctoral research on a hospice organization (Karuna Hospice Service) will be used to contextualize the (...) debate to end-of life ethical dilemmas. The conclusion will be reached that the discursive richness of this organization's notion of autonomy or choice, which incorporates a holistic respect for the individual and the active creation of alternatives, can provide important insights to our understanding of autonomy in bioethics. The concern is raised that if autonomy is reified as a principle outside of the context of discourse, it may only complement the hegemonic power of biomedicine. (shrink)
Building on recent research exposing Hegel’s debt to esoteric Christianity (both Gnostic and Hermetic traditions), the aim of this paper is to show how Hegel and Schelling resolve an ambiguity in Boehme’s theology of evil in opposing ways. Jacob Boehme’s notion of the individuation of God through the overcoming ofopposition is the central paradigm for both Hegel’s and Schelling’s understanding of the role of evil in the life of God. Boehme remains ambiguous on the question of the modality of evil: (...) Is it necessary to God’s self-unfolding, or is it rather an anarchic act that God permits in the interest of preserving the autonomy of finite freedom? If the former, Boehme becomes much more closely aligned to Gnosticism by identifying finitude with evil. This identification is shown to be exactly Hegel’s solution to the ambiguity, one Hegel opts for in the interest of maintaining the absolute rationality of the system. Hermeticism opposes Gnosticism on this point: for the Hermeticist, finitude / material being / nature is not evil but ‘of God,’ the means of his individuation. This conflict in interpretations of Boehmeilluminates an often overlooked but essential difference between Gnosticism and Hermeticism. Schelling remains faithful to the Hermetic tradition by sacrificing system for the sake of preserving the contingency of evil, and disidentifying finitude and evil. (shrink)
Legal and ethical issues involved in group work are reviewed and discussed. Variations in different professional ethics codes are discussed. Recommendations for consideration by group leaders are made.
Abstract We begin by asking what fallibilism about knowledge is, distinguishing several conceptions of fallibilism and giving reason to accept what we call strong epistemic fallibilism, the view that one can know that something is the case even if there remains an epistemic chance, for one, that it is not the case. The task of the paper, then, concerns how best to defend this sort of fallibilism from the objection that it is ‘‘mad,’’ that it licenses absurd claims such as (...) ‘‘I know that p but there’s a chance that not p’’ and ‘‘p but it there’s a chance that not p.’’ We argue that the best defense of fallibilism against this objection—a ‘‘pragmatist’’ defense—makes the following claims. First, while knowledge that p is compatible with an epistemic chance that not-p, it is compatible only with an insignificant such chance. Second, the insignificance of the chance that not-p is plausibly understood in terms of the irrelevance of that chance to p’s serving as a ‘justifier’, for action as well as belief. (shrink)
Michael Oakeshott's religious view of the world stands behind much of his political and philosophical writing. In this essay I first discuss Oakeshott's view of religion and the mode of practice in his own terms. I attempt next to illuminate his idea of religion by describing it in less technical language, drawing upon other thinkers such as Georg Simmel and George Santayana, who share similar views. I then evaluate Oakeshott's view as a whole, considering whether his ideas about religion can (...) stand up to careful scrutiny and whether they have value for present-day reflection on religion. (shrink)
Is truth a substantial feature of truth-bearers? Correspondence theorists answer in the affirmative, deflationists in the negative. Correspondence theorists cite in their defense the dependence of truth on meaning or representational content. Deflationists in turn cite the conceptual centrality of simple equivalences such as ''Snow is white' is true iff snow is white'' and 'It is true that snow is white iff snow is white'. The apparent facts to which these theorists appeal correspond to some of our firmest and most (...) basic convictions about truth. An account of truth that fails to accommodate either sort of apparent fact is inadequate. The account presented in this essay attempts to avoid this inadequacy by 'deflating' truth for propositions but 'inflating' truth for entities that express propositions, thus drawing from the insights of both deflationists and correspondence theorists. (shrink)
In his 1916 _Habilitationsschrift Heidegger enriched Husserl's notion of categorial intuition with Scotus's theory of intellection. The individual is entirely intelligible, even if its intelligibility is never fully defined. The historically singularized thing (essence modified by _haecceitas) speaks a primal word to us, and this original verbum makes possible the inner word of understanding, the _verbum interius. Heidegger argues that if the thing is actually intelligible in its singularity, history cannot be disregarded as ineffable: it becomes a domain of fore-theoretical (...) experience, which exhibits its own proper understandability, one that eludes the objectifications of judgment. (shrink)