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Profile: Dale Dorsey (University of Kansas)
  1. Dale Dorsey, Humean Constructivism and the Relativity Problem(S).
    In this paper, I argue that a form of moral constructivism inspired by Hume's Enquiry yields a plausible response to the problem of relativity. Though this problem can be stated in many different ways, I argue that a Humean constructivism is far more universal in scope that Hume's positions are often taken to be. In addition, I argue that where Hume's position does imply a limited scope, this limitation is perfectly appropriate. I discuss four iterations of the relativity problem(s) here: (...)
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  2. Dale Dorsey (2013). Adaptation, Autonomy, and Authority. In. In Juha Räikkä & Jukka Varelius (eds.), Adaptation and Autonomy: Adaptive Preferences in Enhancing and Ending Life. Springer. 27--47.
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  3. Dale Dorsey (2013). Desire-Satisfaction and Welfare as Temporal. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (1):151-171.
    Welfare is at least occasionally a temporal phenomenon: welfare benefits befall me at certain times. But this fact seems to present a problem for a desire-satisfaction view. Assume that I desire, at 10am, January 12th, 2010, to climb Mount Everest sometime during 2012. Also assume, however, that during 2011, my desires undergo a shift: I no longer desire to climb Mount Everest during 2012. In fact, I develop an aversion to so doing. Imagine, however, that despite my aversion, I am (...)
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  4. Dale Dorsey (2013). Equality-Tempered Prioritarianism. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (1):1470594-13483479.
    In this paper, I present and explore an alternative to a standard prioritarian axiology. Equality-tempered prioritarianism holds that the value of welfare increases should be balanced against the value of equality. However, given that, under prioritarianism, the value of marginal welfare benefits decreases as the welfare of beneficiaries increases, equality-tempered prioritarianism holds that the intrinsic value of equality will be sufficient to alter a prioritarian verdict only in cases in which welfare benefits are granted to the very well-off. I argue (...)
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  5. Dale Dorsey (2013). Hutcheson, Francis. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  6. Dale Dorsey (2013). How Not to Argue Against Consequentialism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2).
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  7. Dale Dorsey (2013). The Authority of Competence and Quality as Extrinsic. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (1):78 - 99.
    (2013). The Authority of Competence and Quality as Extrinsic. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 78-99. doi: 10.1080/09608788.2012.689752.
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  8. Dale Dorsey (2013). Two Dualisms of Practical Reason1. Oxford Studies in Metaethics 8:114.
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  9. Dale Dorsey (2013). The Supererogatory, and How to Accommodate It. Utilitas 25 (3):355-382.
    Many find it plausible to posit a category of supererogatory actions. But the supererogatory resists easy analysis. Traditionally, supererogatory actions are characterized as actions that are morally good, but not morally required; actions that go the call of our moral obligations. As I shall argue in this article, however, the traditional analysis can be accepted only by a view with troubling consequences concerning the structure of the moral point of view. I propose a different analysis that is extensionally correct, avoids (...)
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  10. Dale Dorsey (2012). A Puzzle for Constructivism and How to Solve It. In Jimmy Lenman & Yonatan Shemmer (eds.), Constructivism in Practical Philosophy. Oxford University Press. 99.
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  11. Dale Dorsey (2012). Can Instrumental Value Be Intrinsic? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (2):137-157.
    In this article, I critique a common claim that instrumental value is a form of extrinsic value. Instead, I offer an alternative dispositional analysis of instrumental value, which holds that instrumental value can, in certain circumstances, be an example of intrinsic value. It follows, then, that a popular account of the nature of final value – or value as an end – is false: the Moorean identification of final value with intrinsic value cannot properly distinguish between value as an end (...)
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  12. Dale Dorsey (2012). Consequentialism, Metaphysical Realism and the Argument From Cluelessness. Philosophical Quarterly 62 (246):48-70.
    Lenman's ‘argument from cluelessness’ against consequentialism is that a significant percentage of the consequences of our actions are wholly unknowable, so that when it comes to assessing the moral quality of our actions, we are without a clue. I distinguish the argument from cluelessness from traditional epistemic objections to consequentialism. The argument from cluelessness should be no more problematic for consequentialism than the argument from epistemological scepticism should be for metaphysical realism. This puts those who would reject consequentialism on the (...)
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  13. Dale Dorsey (2012). Intrinsic Value and the Supervenience Principle. Philosophical Studies 157 (2):267-285.
    An important constraint on the nature of intrinsic value---the “Supervenience Principle” (SP)---holds that some object, event, or state of affairs ϕ is intrinsically valuable only if the value of ϕ supervenes entirely on ϕ 's intrinsic properties. In this paper, I argue that SP should be rejected. SP is inordinately restrictive. In particular, I argue that no SP-respecting conception of intrinsic value can accept the importance of psychological resonance, or the positive endorsement of persons, in explaining value.
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  14. Dale Dorsey (2012). The Basic Minimum: A Welfarist Approach. Cambridge University Press.
    Machine generated contents note: Preface; Introduction and limits; 1. On the concept (and some conceptions) of the basic minimum; 2. A welfarist basic minimum; 3. Adaptive preferences; 4. The intrinsic value of the basic minimum; 5. Against rights; 6. On objections to welfarism; Bibliography.
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  15. Dale Dorsey (2012). Weak Anti-Rationalism and the Demands of Morality†. Noûs 46 (1):1-23.
    The demandingness of act consequentialism (AC) is well-known and has received much sophisticated treatment.1 Few have been content to defend AC’s demands. Much of the response has been to jettison AC in favor of a similar, though significantly less demanding view.2 The popularity of this response is easy to understand. Excessive demandingness appears to be a strong mark against any moral theory. And if excessive demandingness is a worry of this kind, AC’s goose appears cooked: attempts to show that AC (...)
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  16. Dale Dorsey (2011). The Hedonist's Dilemma. Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (2):173-196.
    In this paper, I argue that hedonism about well-being faces a powerful dilemma. However, as I shall try to show here, this choice creates a dilemma for hedonism. On a subjective interpretation, hedonism is open to the familiar objection that pleasure is not the only thing desired or the only thing for which we possess a pro-attitude. On an objective interpretation, hedonism lacks an independent rationale. In this paper, I do not claim that hedonism fails once and for all. However, (...)
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  17. Dale Dorsey (2010). Hutcheson's Deceptive Hedonism. Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (4):445-467.
    Francis Hutcheson’s theory of value is often characterized as a precursor to the qualitative hedonism of John Stuart Mill. The interpretation of Mill as a qualitative hedonist has come under fire recently; some have argued that he is, in fact, a hedonist of no variety at all.1 Others have argued that his hedonism is as non-qualitative as Bentham’s.2 The purpose of this essay is not to critically engage the various interpretations of Mill’s value theory. Rather, I hope to show that (...)
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  18. Dale Dorsey (2010). Preferences, Welfare, and the Status-Quo Bias. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):535-554.
    Preferences play a role in well-being that is difficult to escape, but whatever authority one grants to preferences, their malleability seems to cause problems for any theory of well-being that employs them. Most importantly, preferences appear to display a status-quo bias: people come to prefer what they are likely rather than unlikely to get. I try to do two things here. The first is to provide a more precise characterization of the status-quo bias, how it functions, and how it infects (...)
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  19. Dale Dorsey (2010). Truth and Error in Morality. In Cory D. Wright & Nikolaj J. L. L. Pedersen (eds.), New Waves in Truth. Palgrave Macmillan. 235--248.
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  20. Dale Dorsey (2010). Three Arguments for Perfectionism. Noûs 44 (1):59-79.
    Perfectionism, or the claim that human well-being consists in the development and exercise of one’s natural or essential capacities, is in growth mode. With its long and distinguished historical pedigree, perfectionism has emerged as a powerful antedote to what are perceived as significant problems in desiderative and hedonist accounts of well-being. However, perfectionism is one among many views that deny the influence of our desires, or that cut the link between well-being and a raw appeal to sensory pleasure. Other views (...)
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  21. Dale Dorsey (2009). Aggregation, Partiality, and the Strong Beneficence Principle. Philosophical Studies 146 (1):139 - 157.
    Consider the Strong Beneficence Principle (SBP): Persons of affluent means ought to give to those who might fail basic human subsistence until the point at which they must give up something of comparable moral importance. This principle has been the subject of much recent discussion. In this paper, I argue that no coherent interpretation of SBP can be found. SBP faces an interpretive trilemma, each horn of which should be unacceptable to fans of SBP; SBP is either (a) so strong (...)
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  22. Dale Dorsey (2009). Headaches, Lives and Value. Utilitas 21 (01):36-.
    University of Alberta Forthcoming in Utilias Consider Lives for Headaches: there is some number of headaches such that the relief of those headaches is sufficient to outweigh the good life of an innocent person. Lives for Headaches is unintuitive, but difficult to deny. The argument leading to Lives for Headaches is valid, and appears to be constructed out of firmly entrenched premises. In this paper, I advocate one way to reject Lives for Headaches; I defend a form of lexical superiority (...)
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  23. Dale Dorsey (2008). Hume's Internalism Reconsidered. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (3).
    A practical reason is the sort of thing that is supposed to, as it were, “count in favor of” my doing something. That a proposition p is true is reason for me to believe it. In the same way, the fact that some act is, say, morally required, prudentially required, aesthetically beautiful, etc., might be reasons to perform it. Intuitively speaking, if I could save millions from devastating poverty, I have a reason to do it–a reason that, again intuitively speaking, (...)
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  24. Dale Dorsey (2008). Toward a Theory of the Basic Minimum. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (4):423-445.
    Many have thought that an important feature of any just society is the establishment and maintenance of a suitable basic minimum: some set of welfare achievements, resources, capabilities, and so on that are guaranteed to all. However, if a basic minimum is a plausible requirement of justice, we must have a theory — a theory of what, precisely, the state owes in terms of these basic needs or achievements and what, precisely, is the proper structure of the obligation to provide (...)
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  25. Dale Dorsey (2006). A Coherence Theory of Truth in Ethics. Philosophical Studies 127 (3):493 - 523.
    Quine argues, in “On the Nature of Moral Values” that a coherence theory of truth is the “lot of ethics”. In this paper, I do a bit of work from within Quinean theory. Specifically, I explore precisely what a coherence theory of truth in ethics might look like and what it might imply for the study of normative value theory generally. The first section of the paper is dedicated to the exposition of a formally correct coherence truth predicate, the possibility (...)
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  26. Dale Dorsey (2005). Global Justice and the Limits of Human Rights. Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):562–581.
    To a great extent, recent discussion of global obligations has been couched in the language of human rights. I argue that this is a mistake. If, as many theorists have supposed, a normative theory applicable to obligations of global justice must also respect the needs of justice internal to recipient nations, any such theory cannot take human rights as an important moral notion. Human rights are inapplicable for the domestic justice of poor nations, and thus cannot form a plausible basis (...)
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  27. Dale Dorsey (2005). Moral Failure and Agent-Relative Prerogatives. Journal of Philosophical Research 30 (Supplement):309-319.
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