I argue that Rachlin's notion of self-control is imprecise and not well suited to the discussion of altruism. Rachlin's broader agenda, to improve collective welfare by identifying behavioral mechanisms that increase altruism, neglects the fact that altruism is neither necessary nor sufficient for desirable social outcomes.
The work is a charitable study on what the internationally renowned presenter and author, Howard Sobel, views to be largely the truth about moral thought and talk. Discussions and observations from David Humes own writings oftentimes reinforce and elaborate the authors notions and there is an assertive attempt to weave logical thinking into the book. Applications to such mathematical concepts as game theory, decision-making, and conditionals are dispersed throughout so as to enlighten the theory behind the ideas.
This essay focuses on three recent books on morality and virtue, Michael Slote's 'Morals from Motives', Rosalind Hursthouse's 'On Virtue Ethics', and Philippa Foot's 'Natural Goodness'. Slote proposes an "agent-based" ethical theory according to which the ethical status of acts is derivative from assessments of virtue. Following Foot's lead, Hursthouse aims to vindicate an ethical naturalism that explains human goodness on the basis of views about human nature. Both Hursthouse and Slote take virtue to be morally basic in a way (...) that Foot, to her credit, does not. We argue that all three views face a range of serious difficulties. (shrink)
Consequentialism, many philosophers have claimed, asks too much of us to be a plausible ethical theory. Indeed, the theory's severe demandingness is often claimed to be its chief flaw. My thesis is that as we come to better understand this objection, we see that, even if it signals or tracks the existence of a real problem for Consequentialism, it cannot itself be a fundamental problem with the view. The objection cannot itself provide good reason to break with Consequentialism, because it (...) must presuppose prior and independent breaks with the view. The way the objection measures the demandingness of an ethical theory reflects rather than justifies being in the grip of key anti-Consequentialist conclusions. We should reject Consequentialism independently of the Objection or not at all. Thus, we can reduce by one the list of worrisome fundamental complaints against Consequentialism. (shrink)
We argue that Parfit's "Triviality Objection" against some naturalistic views of normativity is not compelling. We think that once one accepts, as one should, that identity statements can be informative in virtue of their pragmatics and not only in virtue of their semantics, Parfit's case against naturalism can be overcome.
We argue against a positive case Enoch offers for thinking that there are non-natural normative properties. Enoch had argued that there is a general difference in how we should treat preference disputes and factual disputes--a difference that shows that normative disputes look more like factual disputes than like preference disputes. We argue that that is not so.
We argue that beliefs and desires cannot be successfully explicated in terms of direction of fit. It is more difficult than has been realized to do so without presupposing these notions in the explication.
Richard Kraut's neo-Aristotelian account of well-being, Developmentalism, aspires to explain not only which things are good for us but why those things are good for us. The key move in attempting to make good on this second aspiration involves his claim that our ordinary intuitions about what is good for a person can be successfully explained and systematized by the idea that what benefi ts a living thing develops properly that living thing's potentialities, capacities, and faculties. I argue that Kraut's (...) understanding of such proper development plays no serious constraining role in shaping the details of the account. If this is correct, Developmentalism lacks the potential to explain or vindicate the intuitions about what is good for us that it champions. In effect, Kraut offers us a list of things that he claims benefits a person, but he lacks a theory of what those things have in common such that they benefit him. (shrink)
A BAYESIAN ARTICULATION OF HUME’S VIEWS IS OFFERED BASED ON A FORM OF THE BAYES-LAPLACE THEOREM THAT IS SUPERFICIALLY LIKE A FORMULA OF CONDORCET’S. INFINITESIMAL PROBABILITIES ARE EMPLOYED FOR MIRACLES AGAINST WHICH THERE ARE ’PROOFS’ THAT ARE NOT OPPOSED BY ’PROOFS’. OBJECTIONS MADE BY RICHARD PRICE ARE DEALT WITH, AND RECENT EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED BY AMOS TVERSKY AND DANIEL KAHNEMAN ARE CONSIDERED IN WHICH PERSONS TEND TO DISCOUNT PRIOR IMPROBABILITIES WHEN ASSESSING REPORTS OF WITNESSES.
Can we adequately account for our reasons of mere taste without holding that our desires ground such reasons? Recently, Scanlon and Parfit have argued that we can, pointing to pleasure and pain as the grounds of such reasons. In this paper I take issue with each of their accounts. I conclude that we do not yet have a plausible rival to a desire-based understanding of the grounds of such reasons.
Libertarian self-ownership views in the tradition of Locke, Nozick, and the left-libertarians have supposed that we enjoy very powerful deontological protections against infringing upon our property. Such a conception makes sense when we are focused on property that is very important to its owner, such as a person’s kidney. However, this stringency of our property rights is harder to credit when we consider more trivial infringements such as very mildly toxic pollution or trivial risks such having planes fly overhead. Maintaining (...) that our rights against all infringements are very powerful threatens to implausibly make such pollution and trivial risk broadly impermissible. This paper suggests that self-ownership views have tended to inappropriately conflate the seriousness of different types of infringements and that treating all infringements so seriously is implausible because it would make too much impermissible. I consider several ways to avoid this result within a self-ownership framework and conclude that the best approach is to allow that the strength of the protection against infringements should be tied to the seriousness of the harm of the infringement. (shrink)
“To this day, partiality approaches to the paradox have been dogged by the so-called ‘Strengthened Liar’. .... The Strengthened Liar observes that if we follow a partiality theorist and declare the Liar sentence* neither true nor false (or failing to express a proposition,. or suffering from some sort of grave semantic defect), then the paradox is only pushed back. For we can go on to conclude that whatever this status may be, it implies that the Liar sentence is not true. (...) This claim is true, but it is just the Liar sentence again.* We are back in paradox.” (Glanzberg 2002, p. 468, bold emphasis added.) Cf.: “We are back in our contradiction,”(Glanzberg 2001, p. 222). *The Liar sentence intended is evidently the sentence ‘the Liar sentence is not true’, and, the Liar sentence = ‘the Liar sentence is not true’. Cf.: “Consider a Liar sentence: ...let us take a sentence l which says l is not true. We can, informally, reason as.. (shrink)
These days, just about every philosophical debate seems to generate a position labeled internalism. The debate I will be joining in this essay concerns reasons for action and their connection, or lack of connection, to motivation. The internalist position in this debate posits a certain essential connection between reasons and motivation, while the externalist position denies such a connection. This debate about internalism overlaps an older debate between Humeans and Kantians about the exclusive reason-giving power of desires. As we will (...) see, however, while these debates overlap, the new debate is importantly different from the old debate. (shrink)
I have maintained that some but not all prisoners' dilemmas are side-by-side Necomb problems. The present paper argues that, similarly, some but not all versions of Newcomb's Problem are prisoners' dilemmas in which Taking Two and Predicting Two make an equilibrium that is dispreferred by both the box-chooser and predictor to the outcome in which only one box is taken and this is predicted. I comment on what kinds of prisoner's dilemmas Newcomb's Problem can be, and on opportunities that results (...) reached may open for kinds of cooperative reasoning in versions of Newcomb's Problem. (shrink)
To resolve putative liar paradoxes it is sufficient to attend to the distinction between liar-sentences and the propositions they would express, and to exercise the option of turning would-be deductions of paradox (of contradictions) into reductions of the existence of those propositions. Defending the coherence of particular resolutions along these lines, leads to recognition of the non-extensionality of some liar-sentences. In particular, it turns out that exchanges of terms for identicals in the open-sentence '- does not expression a true proposition' (...) are not invariably truth-preserving because they are not invariably proposition-expression preserving. All of this recommends propositions as fruitful subjects of interesting renewed research. (shrink)
Libertarian self-ownership views have traditionally maintained that we enjoy very powerful deontological protections against any infringement upon our property. This stringency yields very counter-intuitive results when we consider trivial infringements such as very mildly toxic pollution or trivial risks such having planes fly overhead. Maintaining that other people's rights against all infringements are very powerful threatens to undermine our liberty, as Nozick saw. In this paper I consider the most sophisticated attempts to rectify this problem within a libertarian self-ownership framework. (...) I argue that all of these responses are significantly flawed. (shrink)
We propose that children employ specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate “causal map” of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in terms of the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or “Bayes nets”. Children’s causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learning causal Bayes nets and for predicting with them. Experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children (...) construct new causal maps and that their learning is consistent with the Bayes net formalism. (shrink)
II. Virtue and Vice 1. David Hume – virtue theorist. 2. W hat kinds of things are virtues and vices according to Hume? 3. Hume’s first question in order of explanation: W hat is it for something to be a virtue? 4. The nature or definition of virtue – Hume’s hypothesis, in brief. 5. Detailing Hume’s account. 6. The nature of virtue according to this hypothesis. 7. Illusory qualities. 8. “A controversy started of late” (Hume) and “The M oral Problem” (...) (M ichael Smith) of late. Appendix. Virtuous and vicious actions. III. M oral Judgments.. (shrink)
Hartshorne derives that, “There is a perfect being, or perfection exists,” from the premises that, “perfection is not impossible,” and that, “perfection could not exist contingently.” (Hartshorne 1962, pp. 50-1.).
Abstract: A Liar would express a proposition that is true and not true. A Liar Paradox would, per impossibile, demonstrate the reality of a Liar. To resolve a Liar Paradox it is sufficient to make out of its demonstration a reductio of the existence of the proposition that would be true and not true, and to "explain away" the charm of the paradoxical contrary demonstration. Persuasive demonstrations of the Liar Paradox in this paper trade on allusive scope-ambiguities of English definite (...) descriptions, and can seem confirmed by symbolizations in a Fregean theory in which scopes of definite descriptions are determinate. Symbolizing instead in a Russellian description theory in which alternative scopes are possible reveals that however the scope-ambiguities of the demonstration are settled the result is unsound. (shrink)
I. Introduction 1.1 George M avrodes seems to say that, as reasonable persons, on reading reports of winners of really big lotteries believe these reports, so must reasonable persons, on hearing or reading testimony for what in their view would be miracles, believe this testimony. That a randomly selected entrant should win a big lottery is immensely improbable, and yet a single report can reverse this improbability. He says it shows “that there is nothing incredible, or even unusual, in the (...) power of a single testimony to reverse an enormous initial improbability” (Mavrodes 2005, p. 317) Of miracles he says that “almost every aficionado” of them holds that they are improbable in the same way, and, he seems to say, to the same effect. (shrink)
: HIPAA is often described as a privacy rule. It is not. In fact, HIPAA is a disclosure regulation, and it has effectively dismantled the longstanding moral and legal tradition of patient confidentiality. By permitting broad and easy dissemination of patients’ medical information, with no audit trails for most disclosures, it has undermined both medical ethics and the effectiveness of medical care.