In this paper we explore the connections between ethics and decision theory. In particular, we consider the question of whether decision theory carries with it a bias towards consequentialist ethical theories. We argue that there are plausible versions of the other ethical theories that can be accommodated by "standard" decision theory, but there are also variations of these ethical theories that are less easily accommodated. So while "standard" decision theory is not exclusively consequentialist, it is not necessarily ethically neutral. Moreover, (...) even if our decision-theoretic models get the right answers vis-à-vis morally correct action, the question remains as to whether the motivation for the non-consequentialist theories and the psychological processes of the agents who subscribe to those ethical theories are lost or poorly represented in the resulting models. (shrink)
Philosophy and film. Why film and philosophy? -- Philosophy and film spectatorship -- Epistemology and metaphysics. Knowing what's what in Total recall -- Ontology and The matrix -- It's all in the mind: AI artificial intelligence and robot love -- La jetee and the promise of time travel -- The human condition. Fate and choice: the philosophy of Minority report -- Personal identity: the case of Memento -- The spectacle of horror: Funny games -- Looking for meaning in all the (...) wrong places (Ikiru, "to live") -- Ethics and values. Crimes and misdemeanors and the fragility of moral motivation -- Lives of others: moral luck and regret -- The dark knight: Batman on deontology and consequentialism -- Dangerous childhood: La promesse and the possibility of virtue. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop an objection to agent-based accounts of right action. Agent-based accounts of right action attempt to derive moral judgment of actions from judgment of the inner quality of virtuous agents and virtuous agency. A moral theory ought to be something that moral agents can permissibly use in moral deliberation. I argue for a principle that captures this intuition and show that, for a broad range of other-directed virtues and motives, agent-based accounts of right action fail to (...) satisfy this principle. (shrink)
Abstract This paper explores the grounds upon which moral judgment of a person's beliefs is properly made. The beliefs in question are non-moral beliefs and the objects of moral judgment are individual instances of believing. We argue that instances of believing may be morally wrong on any of three distinct grounds: (i) by constituting a moral hazard, (ii) by being the result of immoral inquiry, or (iii) by arising from vicious inner processes of belief formation. On this way of articulating (...) the basis of moral judgment of belief it becomes clear that rational and epistemic norms do not exhaust the kinds of normative judgment properly made of a person's state of believing. We argue that there are instances of believing that are both rational and true and yet morally wrong. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam and Nelson Goodman are two of the twentieth century's most persuasive critics of metaphysical realism, however they disagree about the consequences of rejecting metaphysical realism. Goodman defended a view he called irrealism in which minds literally make worlds, and Putnam has sought to find a middle path between metaphysical realism and irrealism. I argue that Putnam's middle path turns out to be very elusive and defend a dichotomy between metaphysical realism and irrealism.
Abstract This paper defends an argument from interpretation against the possibility of massive error. The argument shares many important features with Donald Davidson's famous argument, but also key differences. I defend the argument against claims that it begs the question against scepticism and that it leaves the sceptic with an obvious means of escape.
In “A Refutation of Environmental Ethics” Janna Thompson argues that by assigning intrinsic value to nonhuman elements of nature either our evaluations become (1) arbitrary, and therefore unjustified, or (2) impractical, or (3) justified and practical, but only by reflecting human interest, thus failing to be truly intrinsic to nonhuman nature. There are a number of possible responses to her argument, some of which have been made explicitly in reply to Thompson and others which are implicit in the literature. In (...) this discussion I describe still another response, one which takes Thompson’s concerns about value seriously, but does not assign nature intrinsic or nonanthropocentric value. I suggest a relational environmental ethic as the basis for a genuinely ethical stance toward nature in which our relations to nature are a principal object of ethical concern. (shrink)