Practical reasoning is a process of reasoning that concludes in an intention. One example is reasoning from intending an end to intending what you believe is a necessary means: 'I will leave the next buoy to port; in order to do that I must tack; so I'll tack', where the first and third sentences express intentions and the second sentence a belief. This sort of practical reasoning is supported by a valid logical derivation, and therefore seems uncontrovertible. A more contentious (...) example is normative practical reasoning of the form 'I ought to φ, so I'll φ', where 'I ought to φ' expresses a normative belief and 'I'll φ' an intention. This has at least some characteristics of reasoning, but there are also grounds for doubting that it is genuine reasoning. One objection is that it seems inappropriate to derive an intention to φ from a belief that you ought to φ, rather than a belief that you ought to intend to φ. Another is that you may not be able to go through this putative process of reasoning, and this inability might disqualify it from being reasoning. A third objection is that it violates the Humean doctrine that reason alone cannot motivate any action of the will. This paper investigates these objections. (shrink)
Comments on Boghossian Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9894-7 Authors John Broome, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Philosophers have been long interested in delusional beliefs and in whether, by reporting and endorsing such beliefs, deluded subjects violate norms of rationality (Campbell 1999; Davies & Coltheart 2002; Gerrans 2001; Stone & Young 1997; Broome 2004; Bortolotti 2005). So far they have focused on identifying the relation between intentionality and rationality in order to gain a better understanding of both ordinary and delusional beliefs. In this paper Matthew Broome and I aim at drawing attention to the extent (...) to which deluded subjects are committed to the content of their delusional beliefs, that is, to whether they can be regarded as authors of their beliefs (Moran 2001). We consider several levels of commitment one can have to a reported belief, delusional or otherwise, and we distinguish between _ownership_ and _authorship_ of beliefs (Gallagher 2000). After examining some examples of belief authoring (or lack thereof) in psychopathology, we argue that there is no straight-forward and unitary answer to the question whether deluded subjects author their beliefs. Nevertheless, introducing the notion of authorship in the debate can significantly contribute to the philosophical literature on the rationality of delusions and can also have important implications for diagnosis and therapy in psychiatry. (shrink)
We are often faced with choices that involve the weighing of people's lives against each other, or the weighing of lives against other good things. These are choices both for individuals and for societies. A person who is terminally ill may have to choose between palliative care and more aggressive treatment, which will give her a longer life but at some cost in suffering. We have to choose between the convenience to ourselves of road and air travel, and the lives (...) of the future people who will be killed by the global warming we cause, through violent weather, tropical disease, and heat waves. We also make choices that affect how many lives there will be in the future: as individuals we choose how many children to have, and societies choose tax policies that influence people's choices about having children. These are all problems of weighing lives. How should we weigh lives? Weighing Lives develops a theoretical basis for answering this practical question. It extends the work and methods of Broome's earlier book Weighing Goods to cover the questions of life and death. Difficult problems come up in the process. In particular, Weighing Lives tackles the well-recognized, awkward problems of the ethics of population. It carefully examines the common intuition that adding people to the population is ethically neutral - neither a good nor a bad thing - but eventually concludes this intuition cannot be fitted into a coherent theory of value. In the course of its argument, Weighing Lives examines many of the issues of contemporary moral theory: the nature of consequentialism and teleology; the transitivity, continuity, and vagueness of betterness; the quantitative conception of wellbeing; the notion of a life worth living; the badness of death; and others. This is a work of philosophy, but one of its distinctive features is that it adopts some of the precise methods of economic theory (without introducing complex mathematics). Not only philosophers, but also economists and political theorists concerned with the practical question of valuing life, should find the book's conclusions highly significant to their work. (shrink)
Many economic problems are also ethical problems: should we value economic equality? how much should we care about preserving the environment? how should medical resources be divided between saving life and enhancing life? This book examines some of the practical issues that lie between economics and ethics, and shows how utility theory can contribute to ethics. John Broome's work has, unusually, combined sophisticated economic and philosophical expertise, and Ethics Out of Economics brings together some of his most important essays, (...) augmented with a new introduction. The first group of essays deals with the relation between preference and value, the second with various questions about the formal structure of good, and the concluding section with the value of life. This work is of interest and importance for both economists and philosophers, and shows powerfully how economic methods can contribute to moral philosophy. (shrink)
(for Adam Morton's half) I argue that if we take the values of persons to be ordered in a way that allows incomparability, then the problems Broome raises have easy solutions. In particular we can maintain that creating people is morally neutral while killing them has a negative value.
Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...) normative requirements with reasons. (shrink)
This paper is a response to ‘Why Be Rational?’ by Niko Kolodny. Kolodny argues that we have no reason to satisfy the requirements of rationality. His argument assumes that these requirements have a logically narrow scope. To see what the question of scope turns on, this comment provides a semantics for ‘requirement’. It shows that requirements of rationality have a wide scope, at least under one sense of ‘requirement’. Consequently Kolodny's conclusion cannot be derived.
Some philosophers think that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons, or alternatively in responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. This paper considers various possible interpretations of ‘responding correctly to reasons’ and of ‘responding correctly to beliefs about reasons’, and concludes that rationality consists in neither, under any interpretation. It recognizes that, under some interpretations, rationality does entail responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. That is: necessarily, if you are rational you respond correctly to your beliefs about reasons.
Philosophers are interested in the phenomenon of thought insertion because it challenges the common assumption that one can ascribe to oneself the thoughts that one can access first-personally. In the standard philosophical analysis of thought insertion, the subject owns the ‘inserted’ thought but lacks a sense of agency towards it. In this paper we want to provide an alternative analysis of the condition, according to which subjects typically lack both ownership and authorship of the ‘inserted’ thoughts. We argue that by (...) appealing to a failure of ownership and authorship we can describe more accurately the phenomenology of thought insertion, and distinguish it from that of non-delusional beliefs that have not been deliberated about, and of other delusions of passivity. We can also start developing a more psychologically realistic account of the relation between intentionality, rationality and self knowledge in normal and abnormal cognition. (shrink)
It is far too early to say what global impact the neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric sciences will have on our intuitions about moral responsibility. And it is far too early to say whether the notion of moral responsibility will survive this impact (and if so, in what form). But it is certainly worth starting to think about the local impact that these sciences can or should have on some of our distinctions and criteria. It might be possible to use some of (...) the tools offered by these sciences in order to refine or revise some of the categories currently used, without – for the time being at least – worrying too much about the fate of the notion of moral responsibility. This is an area where a piecemeal approach might be more productive: only after an evaluation of many distinct cases and situations it will be possible to say something general about the current notion of moral responsibility. In this article, we will focus on a single clinical case: a young man who has been convicted for assault on a neighbour and whose sentence was affected by a pre-existing diagnosis of mental illness. We will use this case, and an analysis of the similarities and differences between this case and other possible cases, in order to raise some (local but important) issues about the implications that discoveries in neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry can have for the way moral responsibility is attributed to agents and, more specifically, to agents with diagnoses of mental illnesses. (shrink)
Neuroscience has long had an impact on the field of psychiatry, and over the last two decades, with the advent of cognitive neuroscience and functional neuroimaging, that influence has been most pronounced. However, many question whether psychopathology can be understood by relying on neuroscience alone, and highlight some of the perceived limits to the way in which neuroscience informs psychiatry. Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience is a philosophical analysis of the role of neuroscience in the study of psychopathology. The book examines (...) numerous cognitive neuroscientific methods, such as neuroimaging and the use of neuropsychological models, in the context of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, dependence syndrome, and personality disorders. Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience includes chapters on the nature of psychiatry as a science; the compatibility of the accounts of mental illness derived from neuroscience, information-processing, and folk psychology; the nature of mental illness; the impact of methods such as fMRI, neuropsychology, and neurochemistry, on psychiatry; the relationship between phenomenological accounts of mental illness and those provided by naturalistic explanations; the status of delusions and the continuity between delusions and ordinary beliefs; the interplay between clinical and empirical findings in psychopathology and issues in moral psychology and ethics. With contributions from world class experts in philosophy and cognitive science, this book will be essential reading for those who have an interest in the importance and the limitations of cognitive neuroscience as an aid to understanding mental illness. (shrink)
I develop a scheme for the explanation of rational action. I start from a scheme that may be attributed to Thomas Nagel in The Possibility of Altruism , and develop it step by step to arrive at a sharper and more accurate scheme. The development includes a progressive refinement of the notion of motivation. I end by explaining the role of reasoning within the scheme.
This paper argues for psychological realism in the conception of psychiatric disorders. We review the following contemporary ways of understanding the future of psychiatry: (1) psychiatric classification cannot be successfully reduced to neurobiology, and thus psychiatric disorders should not be conceived of as biological kinds; (2) psychiatric classification can be successfully reduced to neurobiology, and thus psychiatric disorders should be conceived of as biological kinds. Position (1) can lead either to instrumentalism or to eliminativism about psychiatry, depending on whether psychiatric (...) classification is regarded as useful. Position (2), which is inspired by the growing interest in neuroscience within scientific psychiatry, leads to biological realism or essentialism. In this paper we endorse a different realist position, which we label psychological realism. Psychiatric disorders are identified and addressed on the basis of their psychological manifestations which are often described as violations of epistemic, moral or social norms. A couple of examples are proposed by reference to the pathological aspects of delusions, and the factors contributing to their formation. (shrink)
The standard backward-induction reasoning in a game like the centipede assumes that the players maintain a common belief in rationality throughout the game. But that is a dubious assumption. Suppose the first player X didn't terminate the game in the first round; what would the second player Y think then? Since the backwards-induction argument says X should terminate the game, and it is supposed to be a sound argument, Y might be entitled to doubt X's rationality. Alternatively, Y might doubt (...) that X believes Y is rational, or that X believes Y believes X is rational, or Y might have some higher-order doubt. X’s deviant first move might cause a breakdown in common belief in rationality, therefore. Once that goes, the entire argument fails. The argument also assumes that the players act rationally at each stage of the game, even if this stage could not be reached by rational play. But it is also dubious to assume that past irrationality never exerts a corrupting influence on present play. However, the backwards-induction argument can be reconstructed for the centipede game on a more secure basis.1 It may be implausible to assume a common belief in rationality throughout the game, however the game might go, but the argument requires less than this. The standard idealisations in game theory certainly allow us to assume a common belief in rationality at the beginning of the game. They also allow us to assume this common belief persists so long as no one makes an irrational move. That is enough for the argument to go through. (shrink)
It has been argued that schizophrenic delusions are “behaviourally inert.” This is evidence for the phenomenon of “double bookkeeping,” according to which people are not consistent in their commitment to the content of their delusions. The traditional explanation for the phenomenon is that people do not genuinely believe the content of their delusions. In the article, we resist the traditional explanation and offer an alternative hypothesis: people with delusions often fail to acquire or to maintain the motivation to act on (...) their delusional beliefs. This may be due to avolition, to emotional disturbances, or to the fact that, given the peculiar content of some delusions, the surrounding environment does not support the agent’s motivation to act. (shrink)
I argue that the accounts of inference recently presented (in this journal) by Paul Boghossian, John Broome, and Crispin Wright are unsatisfactory. I proceed in two steps: First, in Sects. 1 and 2, I argue that we should not accept what Boghossian calls the “Taking Condition on inference” as a condition of adequacy for accounts of inference. I present a different condition of adequacy and argue that it is superior to the one offered by Boghossian. More precisely, I point (...) out that there is an analog of Moore’s Paradox for inference; and I suggest that explaining this phenomenon is a condition of adequacy for accounts of inference. Boghossian’s Taking Condition derives its plausibility from the fact that it apparently explains the analog of Moore’s Paradox. Second, in Sect. 3, I show that neither Boghossian’s, nor Broome’s, nor Wright’s account of inference meets my condition of adequacy. I distinguish two kinds of mistake one is likely to make if one does not focus on my condition of adequacy; and I argue that all three—Boghossian, Broome, and Wright—make at least one of these mistakes. (shrink)
In “Weighing Lives” (2004) John Broome criticizes a view common to many population axiologists. On that view, population increases with extra people leading decent lives are axiologically neutral: they make the world neither better nor worse, ceteris paribus. Broome argues that this intuition, however, attractive, cannot be sustained, for several independent reasons. I respond to his criticisms and suggest that the neutrality intuition, if correctly interpreted, can after all be defended.On the version I defend,the world with added extra (...) people at wellbeing levels within the neutrality range is incommensurable in value with the world in which these peaople are absent. (shrink)
In his new book on Pascal's Wager, Jeff Jordan argues that only the ‘Jamesian’ version of the wager argument, as he sees it presented in William James' essay The Will to Believe , constitutes a sound pragmatic argument in favour of theism, whereas Pascal's original wager argument is doomed to fail on various grounds. This article argues that Jordan's theory is untenable. The many-gods objection is used as an example: it is demonstrated that the Jamesian Wager argument too is (...) powerless to rebut this objection. (shrink)
John Broome has argued that alleged cases of value incomparability are really examples of vagueness in the betterness relation. The main premiss of his argument is ‘the collapsing principle’. I argue that this principle is dubious, and that Broome's argument is therefore unconvincing. Correspondence:c1 Erik.Carlson@filosofi.uu.se.
The main aim of Jeff McMahan's manuscript on the morality of war is to answer the question: why and accordingly when is it justified or permissible to kill people in war? However, McMahan argues that the same principles apply to individual actions and to war. McMahan rejects all doctrines of collective responsibility and liability. His claim is that every individual is liable for what he has done and not for the actions of others - even if both are part (...) of the same collective. Accordingly, McMahan challenges the common view that it is much easier to justify killing in war compared to killing in other contexts. Therefore, the scope of his project exceeds the context of war and extends to interpersonal conflicts between individuals that do not qualify as war. Many of McMahan's main claims are appealing. Particularly, appealing is his rejection of the collectivist account of war. Indeed, it seems that the simple story according to which people are responsible solely for their actions - rather than (also) to the actions of others - should be held on until a different, more complex, account of collective responsibility is put forward and its plausibility is explained. Therefore, the article focuses on the general principles advocated by McMahan with regard to the resolution of all interpersonal conflicts: Whether these conflicts are small scale or large scale (that is, whether few or a many people are involved in the conflict), and within the latter category of conflicts involving many people, whether these conflicts qualify as war (according to some standard) or not. (shrink)
and Overview In an earlier book, Weighing Goods1, John Broome gave a sophisticated defense of utilitarianism for the cases involving a fixed population. In the present book, Weighing Lives, he extends this defense to variable population cases, where different individuals exist depending on which choice is made. Broome defends a version of utilitarianism according to which there is a vague positive level of individual wellbeing such that adding a life with more than that level of wellbeing makes things (...) morally better and adding a life with less than that level makes things morally worse. This version of utilitarianism avoids the extreme—but perhaps not all— forms of the repugnant conclusion that the usual total version faces. As usual, Broome’s work combines logical rigor with deep philosophical insight. There is much to learn from it. Nonetheless, I shall identify some problematic conditions used by Broome to derive utilitarianism and suggest that Broome’s version of utilitarianism has implausible implications. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine an account of instrumental reasoning recently put forth by John Broome. His key suggestion is that anyone who engages in reasoning about his intentions also believes that he will do what he intends to do and that combined with a belief about necessary means this creates rational pressure towards believing that one will take the necessary means. I argue that Broomeâs model has three significant problems; his key premise is falseâthe sincere expression of an (...) intention does not entail the belief that one will successfully execute that intention; his account yields a model of instrumental reasoning that is uncomfortably reflective; he seems unable to explain the rational pressure towards taking necessary means that arises directly from having an end and an instrumental belief. All three problems, I argue, are a consequence of Broomeâs inadequate position on what it is to intend to do something. (shrink)
This essay responds to Jeff Malpas's foregoing article, itself written in response to my various publications over the past two decades concerning Donald Davidson's ideas about truth, meaning, and interpretation. It has to do mainly with our disagreement as regards the substantive content of Davidson's truth-based semantic approach in relation to the problematic legacy of logical empiricism, including Quine's incisive but no less problematical critique of that legacy. I also raise questions with respect to Malpas's coupling of Davidson with (...) Heidegger, intended to provide a more adequate depth-ontological grounding for the formalized (logico-semantic) conception of truth that Davidson adopts from Tarski. My essay then argues the case for an outlook of objectivist causal realism joined with a theory of inference to the best, most rational explanation that would satisfy this need in more philosophically (as well as scientifically) accountable terms. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Part I. Introduction: Introduction; 1. Existentialism and its legacy Steven Crowell; Part II. Existentialism in Historical Perspective: 2. Existentialism as a philosophical movement David E. Cooper; 3. Existentialism as a cultural movement William McBride; Part III. Major Existentialist Philosophers: 4. Kierkegaard's single individual and the point of indirect communication Alastair Hannay; 5. 'What a monster then is man': Pascal and Kierkegaard on being a contradictory self and what to do about it Hubert L. Dreyfus; 6. Nietzsche: (...) after the death of God Richard Schacht; 7. Nietzsche: selfhood, creativity, and philosophy Lawrence J. Hatab; 8. Heidegger: the existential analytic of Dasein William Blattner; 9. The antinomy of being: Heidegger's critique of humanism Karsten Harries; 10. Sartre's existentialism and the nature of consciousness Steven Crowell; 11. Political existentialism: the career of Sartre's political thought Thomas R. Flynn; 12. Simone de Beauvoir's existentialism: freedom and ambiguity in the human world Kristana Arp; 13. Merleau-Ponty on body, flesh, and visibility Taylor Carman; Part IV. The Reach of Existential Philosophy; 14. Existentialism as literature Jeff Malpas; 15. Existentialism and religion Merold Westphal; 16. Racism is a system: how existentialism became dialectical in Fanon and Sartre Robert Bernasconi; 17. Existential phenomenology, psychiatric illness, and the death of possibilities Matthew Ratcliffe and Matthew Broome; Bibliography of works cited; Index. (shrink)
RÉSUMÉ: Cet article propose une analyse critique de la conception du raisonnement pratique développée par John Broome. Suite à une présentation de certaines de ses thèses, j'expose quelques difficultés soulevées par la «double expression» et par certains aspects du cognitivisme qu'il endosse explicitement. Je présente deux conséquences qu'entraînent ces critiques, l'une portant sur le lien qu'il établit entre croyance et intention, et l'autre portant sur l'idée que nos raisonnements pratiques seraient nécessairement enchevêtrés à nos raisonnements théoriques. Finalement, j'essaie de (...) montrer que la souree du problème auquel Broome semble être confronté réside dans la difficulté qu'il y a à distinguer clairement entre le raisonnement (relation entre des états mentaux) et la deseription du contenu du raisonnement (relation entre des propositions).ABSTRACT: This article offers a critical analysis of John Broome's conception of practical reasoning. I first introduce his main claims and then point out some of the difficulties raised by the notion of "double expression" and by some aspects of the cognitivism which he explicitly endorses. I then emphasize two consequences of these criticisms: one concerning the link he sees between belief and intention, and the other concerning the idea that our practical reasonings are inextricably linked to our theoretical reasonings. Finally, I argue that the problem Broome seems to be facing has its source in the difficulty of distinguishing clearly between reasoning (a relation between mental states) and the description of its content (a relation between propositions). (shrink)
Can we interpret human reason simultaneously as a product of neurochemistry and natural selection and as a transcendental standard? Jeff Mason asks the analogous question of philosophical writing. Can we interpret philosophical discourse as "rhetorical," embodied in language, and designed to persuade historical audiences, and at the same time preserve its traditional intention to disclose truths that transcend language, history, and audiences? Mason argues that these polar attitudes toward philosophical writing are untenable precisely when they exclude each other. This (...) is a significant project with important literary and metaphilosophical consequences. (shrink)
I argue that the "why be rational?" challenge raised by John Broome and Niko Kolodny rests upon a mistake that is analogous to the mistake that H.A. Pritchard famously claimed beset the “why be moral?” challenge. The failure to locate an independent justification for obeying rational requirements should do nothing whatsoever to undermine our belief in the normativity of rationality. I suggest that we should conceive of the demand for a satisfactory vindicating explanation of the normativity of rationality instead (...) in terms of the demand for a philosophical characterisation of rationality that can do something to explain why rational requirements are the kinds of things that are, by their very nature, normative. I consider several accounts that have recently been offered – the distinctive-object account, the proper functioning account, and the subjective reasons account – and argue that none succeeds in meeting this challenge. I then sketch a new account, the “first-personal authority account”, which holds that rational requirements are what I call “standpoint-relative demands” concerning the attitudes we ought to have and form; and that complying with rational requirements is a matter of honouring our first-personal authority as agents. I suggest that the first-personal authority account does a better job of meeting the challenge. (shrink)
According to the dominant position in the just war tradition from Augustine to Anscombe and beyond, there is no “moral equality of combatants.” That is, on the traditional view the combatants participating in a justified war may kill their enemy combatants participating in an unjustified war— but not vice versa (barring certain qualifications). I shall argue here, however, that in the large number of wars (and in practically all modern wars) where the combatants on the justified side violate the rights (...) of innocent people (“collateral damage”), these combatants are in fact liable to attack by the combatants on the unjustified side. I will support this view with a rights-based account of liability to attack and then defend it against a number of objections raised in particular by Jeff McMahan. The result is that the thesis of the moral equality of combatants holds good for a large range of armed conflicts while the opposing thesis is of very limited practical relevance. (shrink)
The Interpersonal Addition Theorem, due to John Broome, states that, given certain seemingly innocuous assumptions, the overall utility of an uncertain prospect can be represented as the sum of its individual (expected) utilities. Given ‘Bernoulli's hypothesis’ according to which individual utility coincides with individual welfare, this result appears to be incompatible with the Priority View. On that view, due to Derek Parfit, the benefits to the worse off should count for more, in the overall evaluation, than the comparable benefits (...) to the better off. Pace Broome, the paper argues that prioritarians should meet this challenge not by denying Bernoulli's hypothesis, but by rejecting one of the basic assumptions behind the addition theorem: that a prospect is better overall if it is better for everyone. This conclusion follows if one interprets the priority weights that are imposed by prioritarians as relevant only to moral, but not to prudential, evaluations of prospects. (shrink)