ABSTRACT Choice theorists such as George Ainslie and Gene Heyman argue that the drug-seeking behaviour of addicts is best understood in the same terms that explain everyday choices. Everyday choices, they claim, aim to maximise the reward from available incentives. Continuing drug-use is, therefore, what addicts most want given the incentives they are aware of but they will change their behaviour if and when better incentives become available. This model might explain many typical cases of addiction, but there are hard (...) cases that pose a problem. In these hard cases the addicted individual does not cease using drugs in the face of consequences that are so adverse it is implausible that they are unaware of more rewarding paths of action. These cases force the choice theorist into a dilemma: either these addicts? drug use does not count as action and so is best described by a neurobiological model, or reference to ?reward? in these cases means merely ?motivated? and so provides no explanatory power. We propose a different model of motivation that takes self-conception into account. We show how that can better explain the hard cases of addiction and also inform our understanding of recovery and self-control. (shrink)
Social persons routinely tell themselves and others richly elaborated autobiographical stories filled with details about deeds, plans, roles, motivations, values, and character. Saul, let us imagine, is someone who once sailed the world as a young adventurer, going from port to port and living a gypsy existence. In telling his new acquaintance, Jess, of his former exotic life, he shines a light on his present character and this may guide to some extent their interaction here and now. Perhaps Jess also (...) spent time at one of these port locations; perhaps their paths might even have crossed. They might be drawn into recounting some common events that indeed do establish a common link. Did they visit a certain famous landmark? Did they meet up at the same bars? And so on. When we open up to friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and close others through the stories we tell them, we do so by revealing bits of ourselves. (shrink)
In this article, I explore the implications of Karsten Stueber's account of imaginative resistance, particularly as it relates to the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding described by Jonathan Haidt and colleagues. I suggest that Stueber's account allows us to redescribe the phenomenon as a failure of the folk psychological project of interpretation and so to challenge Haidt's metaethical conclusions. I close by considering some implications for moral deliberation and judgment in those, such as autistic people, whose interpretive capacities are impaired.
This book explores the diverse and sometimes contradictory aspects of fashion in a series of lively, entertaining thoughtful essays from prominent philosophers and writers. Topics include: What is fashion?
Metaethics has recently been confronted by evidence from cognitive neuroscience that tacit emotional processes play an essential causal role in moral judgement. Most neuroscientists, and some metaethicists, take this evidence to vindicate a version of metaethical sentimentalism. In this paper we argue that the ‘dual process’ model of cognition that frames the discussion within and without philosophy does not do justice to an important constraint on any theory of deliberation and judgement. Namely, decision-making is the exercise of a capacity for (...) agency. Agency, in turn, requires a capacity to conceive of oneself as temporally extended: to inhabit, in both memory and imagination, an autobiographical past and future. To plan, to commit to plans, and to act in accordance with previous plans requires a diachronic self, able to transcend the present moment. While this fact about agency is central to much of moral philosophy (e.g. in discussions of autonomy and moral responsibility) it is opaque to the dual process framework and those meta-ethical accounts which situate themselves within this model of cognition. We show how this is the case and argue for an empirically adequate account of moral judgement which gives sufficient role to memory and imagination as cognitive prerequisites of agency. We reconsider the empirical evidence, provide an alternative, agentive, interpretation of key findings, and evaluate the consequences for metaethics. (shrink)
The recent, influential Social Intuitionist Model of moral judgment (Haidt, Psychological Review 108, 814–834, 2001) proposes a primary role for fast, automatic and affectively charged moral intuitions in the formation of moral judgments. Haidt’s research challenges our normative conception of ourselves as agents capable of grasping and responding to reasons. We argue that there can be no ‘real’ moral judgments in the absence of a capacity for reflective shaping and endorsement of moral judgments. However, we suggest that the empirical literature (...) indicates a complex interplay between automatic and deliberative mental processes in moral judgment formation, with the latter constraining the expression and influence of moral intuitions. We therefore conclude that the psychological literature supports a normative conception of agency. (shrink)
We have argued elsewhere (2002) that moral responsibility over time depends in part upon the having of psychological connections which facilitate forms of self-control. In this paper we explore the importance of mental time travel – our ordinary ability to mentally travel to temporal locations outside the present, involving both memory of our personal past and the ability to imagine ourselves in the future – to our agential capacities for planning and control. We suggest that in many individuals with dissociative (...) disorders, forms of amnesia, or other frontal lobe damage, our capacity for mental time travel is impaired, resulting in commensurate losses to agency, autonomy, and a forensic condition essential for holding persons responsible: in legal terms, the capacity for mens rea. (shrink)
Undercover marketing targets potential customers by concealing the commercial nature of an apparently social transaction. In a typical case an individual approaches a marketing target apparently to provide some information or advice about a product in a way that makes it seem like they are a fellow consumer. In another kind of case, a friend displays a product to you, and encourages its purchase, but fails to disclose their association with the marketing firm. We focus on this second type of (...) case and argue that the constitutive dispositions of friendship that provide for the development and maintenance of intimacy also render friends especially vulnerable to undercover marketing techniques and so to the exploitation of friendship for commercial ends. We show how this is corrupting both of the friendship and the commercial agent. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the existence of psychopaths undermines moral rationalism. I examine a recent empirically based argument for this claim and conclude that rationalist accounts of moral judgement and moral reasoning are perfectly compatible with the evidence cited.
The condition known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is metaphysically strange. Can there really be several distinct persons operating in a single body? Our view is that DID sufferers are single persons with a severe mental disorder. In this paper we compare the phenomenology of dissociation between personality states in DID with certain delusional disorders. We argue both that the burden of proof must lie with those who defend the metaphysically extravagant Multiple Persons view and (...) that there is little theoretical motivation to yield to that view in light of the fact that the core symptoms of DID bear remarkable similarity to the symptoms of these other disorders where no such extravagance is ever seriously entertained. (shrink)
Effective agency, according to contemporary Kantians, requires a unity of purpose both at a time, in order that we may eliminate conflict among our motives, and over time, because many of the things we do form part of longer-term projects and make sense only in the light of these projects and life plans. Call this the unity of agency thesis. This thesis can be regarded as a normative constraint on accounts of personal identity and indeed on accounts of what it (...) is to have the life of a person in the broad, rather than narrowly biological sense. It is also a fundamental condition of social life that persons within society fulfill a range of longitudinal roles: parenthood is one such obvious example, as are teachers, health professionals, engineers, artists, and many others. The fulfillment of these and other valuable social roles requires that agents have the capacity to rationally conceive of themselves as engaged in these roles and subject to the demands of them. To be unable to fulfill any such longitudinal social roles is to have a life deficient in value. The unity of agency is thus, we argue, something we rationally strive for, and something to be morally promoted. Psychiatric states that undermine the unity of agency are morally and rationally disvaluable. Using the example of dissociation, we explain how one such state may have this undermining or disruptive effect on the unity of agency. The therapeutic ends for psychiatry in conditions involving such states are thus seen more globally as the restoration of effective agency, that is, unified agency. (shrink)
Psychopaths have long been of interest to moral philosophers, since a careful examination of their peculiar deficiencies may reveal what features are normally critical to the development of moral agency. What underlies the psychopath's amoralism? A common and plausible answer to this question is that the psychopath lacks empathy. Lack of empathy is also claimed to be a critical impairment in autism, yet it is not at all clear that autistic individuals share the psychopath's amoralism. How is empathy characterized in (...) the literature, and how crucial is empathy, so described, to moral understanding and agency? I argue that an examination of moral thinking in high-functioning autistic people supports a Kantian rather than a Humean account of moral agency. (shrink)
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a condition in which a person appears to possess more than one personality, and sometimes very many. Some recent criminal cases involving defendants with DID have resulted in "not guilty" verdicts, though the defense is not always successful in this regard. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Stephen Behnke have argued that we should excuse DID sufferers from responsibility, only if at the time of the act the person was insane (typically delusional); (...) otherwise the presumption should be that persons with DID are indeed responsible for their actions. We find their interpretation of DID and of the way in which the requirements for criminal insanity relate to this condition worrying and likely to result in injustice to DID sufferers. Our thesis is that persons with DID cannot be responsible for their actions if the usual features of the condition are present. A person with DID is a single person in the grip of a very serious mental disorder. By focusing on the features of DID which have, as we argue, the effect of deluding the patient, we try to show that such a person is unable to fulfill the ordinary conditions of responsible agency (namely, autonomy and self-control). (shrink)
Distinctions between recklessness, weakness of will, and compulsion have been the targets of much philosophical attack. Beginning with the problem of weakness of will, this volume builds an admirably comprehensive and integrated account of moral agency that highly regards the capacity for self-control. It addresses with clarity a range of important topics-such as the nature of valuing and desiring, conceptions of virtue, moral conflict, and the varieties of recklessness-making this work especially important to those interested in philosophy, psychology, law, and (...) moral and legal responsibility in general. (shrink)
We focus here on some familiar kinds of cases of conflict between friendship and morality, and, on the basis of our account of the nature of friendship, argue for the following two claims: first, that in some cases where we are led morally astray by virtue of a relationship that makes its own demands on us, the relationship in question is properly called a friendship; second, that relationships of this kind are valuable in their own right.
We argue that companion friendship is not importantly marked by self-disclosure as understood in either of these two ways. One's close friends need not be markedly similar to oneself, as is claimed by the mirror account, nor is the role of private information in establishing and maintaining intimacy important in the way claimed by the secrets view. Our claim will be that the mirror and secrets views not only fail to identify features that are in part constitutive of close or (...) companion friendship, but that they miss the mark quite broadly and fail to capture anything significant and distinctive about the ways in which friendship has an impact on the self. The article will proceed as follows. In the first section we outline our account of the self in friendship. In the next two sections we examine the mirror and secrets views and develop our own view in counterpoint to these. In the final section we defend our own account by showing how it provides the governing conditions which do distinguish friendship from other kinds of relations between persons. (shrink)
It seems to be a truism that whenever we do something - and so, given the omnipresence of trying (Hornsby 1980), whenever we try to do something - we want to do that thing more than we want to do anything else we can do (Davidson 1970). However, according to Frog, when we have will power we are able to try not to do something that we ‘really want to do’. In context the idea is clearly meant to be that (...) what we really want to do and what we most want to do are one and the same. But how is this meant to be so much as possible? It seems to require that our desire not to do what we most want to do is both our strongest desire and not our strongest desire. And that is a blatant contradiction. This is the so-called ‘paradox of self-control’ (Mele 1987). The aim of our paper is to explain how to make sense of the story of Frog and Toad. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is, by process of elimination, to elucidate and defend an account of how ordinary people act on their values. I will be making both a descriptive claim about our psychology and a further claim about its effectiveness and rational status. I want to suggest that the way in which most of us in fact put our values into practice is, over time, preferable to the ways which initially seem required or at least desirable.