We ordinarily think that, keeping all else equal, a life that improves is better than one that declines. However, it has proven challenging to account for such value judgments: some, such as Fred Feldman and Daniel Kahneman, have simply denied that these judgments are rational, while others, such as Douglas Portmore, Michael Slote, and David Velleman, have proposed justifications for the judgments that appear to be incomplete or otherwise problematic. This article identifies problems with existing accounts and suggests a novel (...) alternative theory: what best accounts for our preference for an uphill over a downhill life (and many other episodes) is that losses of momentary value are themselves bad and gains in momentary value are themselves good. (shrink)
Social commentators have long asked whether racial categories should be conserved or eliminated from our practices, discourse, institutions, and perhaps even private thoughts. In A Theory of Race, Joshua Glasgow argues that this set of choices unnecessarily presents us with too few options. Using both traditional philosophical tools and recent psychological research to investigate folk understandings of race, Glasgow argues that, as ordinarily conceived, race is an illusion. However, our pressing need to speak to and make sense of social life (...) requires that we employ something like racial discourse. These competing pressures, Glasgow maintains, ultimately require us to stop conceptualizing race as something biological, and instead understand it as an entirely social phenomenon. (shrink)
Many hold that ordinary race-thinking in the USA is committed to the 'one-drop rule', that race is ordinarily represented in terms of essences, and that race is ordinarily represented as a biological (phenotype- and/or ancestry-based, non-social) kind. This study investigated the extent to which ordinary race-thinking subscribes to these commitments. It also investigated the relationship between different conceptions of race and racial attitudes. Participants included 449 USA adults who completed an Internet survey. Unlike previous research, conceptions of race were assessed (...) using concrete vignettes. Results indicate widespread rejection of the one-drop rule, as well as the use of a complex combination of ancestral, phenotypic, and social (and, therefore, non-essentialist) criteria for racial classification. No relationship was found between racial attitudes and essentialism, the one-drop rule, or social race-thinking; however, ancestry-based and phenotype-based classification criteria were associated with racial attitudes. These results suggest a complicated relationship between conceptions of race and racial attitudes. (shrink)
Analyzing racial concepts has become an important task in the philosophy of race. Aside from any inherent interest that might be found in the meanings of racial terms, these meanings also can spell the doom or deliverance of competing ontological and normative theories about race. One of the most pressing questions about race at present is the normative question of whether race should be eliminated from, or conserved in, public discourse and practice. This normative question is often answered in part (...) by appealing to the ontological status of race: if race is an illusion, then it should be eliminated, and if it is real, then it can be conserved. 1 Thus, for.. (shrink)
Despite all the attention given to Kants universalizability tests, one crucial aspect of Kants thought is often overlooked. Attention to this issue, I will argue, helps us resolve two serious problems for Kants ethics. Put briefly, the first problem is this: Kant, despite his stated intent to the contrary, doesnt seem to use universalization in arguing for duties to oneself, and, anyway, it is not at all clear why duties to oneself should be grounded on a procedure that envisions a (...) world in which everyone wills the contrary of those duties. The second, more global problem is that if we follow Barbara Herman in holding that Kantian ethics can provide a structure for moral deliberation, we need an interpretation of the universalization procedure that unproblematically allows it to generate something like prima facie duties to guide that deliberation; but it is not at all clear that we have such an interpretation. I argue here that if we expand our limited way of thinking about universalization, we can solve the first problem and work towards a solution to the second. We can begin by recalling that Kants Law of Nature formulation (FLN) of the Categorical Imperative obligates us to act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature (G, 421). (shrink)
Supervenience has provided a way for nonreductive materialists to explain how the mental can be physically irreducible but still physically respectable. In recent years, doubts about this research program have emerged from a number of quarters. Consequently, Terence Horgan has argued that nonreductive materialists must appeal to an upgraded "superdupervenience," if supervenience is to do any materialist work. We argue that nonreductive materialism cannot meet this challenge. Superdupervenience is impossible.