This paper systematically extends John Rawls' original position to nonideal theory, showing how parties to a "nonideal original position" ought to prioritize four "nonideal primary goods" over Rawls' principles and priority relations, and then agree to five lexically ordered principles of nonideal theory for distributing those goods. Finally, these five principles are shown to fare very well in reflective equilibrium, cohering with a number of pretheoretic moral intuitions.
In a recent study appearing in Neuroethics, I reported observing 11 significant correlations between the “Dark Triad” personality traits – Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy – and “conservative” judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey. Surprisingly, I observed no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments. In order to determine whether these results were an artifact of the particular issues I selected, I ran a follow-up study testing the Dark Triad against conservative and liberal judgments on 15 additional moral (...) issues. The new issues examined include illegal immigration, abortion, the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the war on terrorism, laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and environmentalism. 1154 participants (680 male, 472 female; median age 29), recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk, completed three surveys: a 15-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), the 28-item Short Dark Triad personality inventory, and a five-item demographic survey. The results strongly reinforce my earlier findings. Twenty-two significant correlations were observed between “conservative” judgments and the Dark Triad (all of which were significant past a Bonferonni-corrected significance threshold of p = .0008), compared to seven significant correlations between Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments (only one of which was significant past p = .0008). This article concludes by developing a novel research proposal for determining whether the results of my two studies are “bad news” for conservatives or liberals. (shrink)
This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including the holographic principle and multiverse theory in quantum physics, and eternalism and mind-body dualism in philosophy – jointly imply an audacious new theory of free will. This new theory, "Libertarian Compatibilism", holds that the physical world is an eternally existing array of two-dimensional information – a vast number of possible pasts, presents, and futures – and the mind a nonphysical entity or set of properties that "read" that physical (...) information off to subjective conscious awareness (in much the same way that a song written on an ordinary compact-disc is only played when read by an outside medium, i.e. a CD-player). According to this theory, every possible physical “timeline” in the multiverse may be fully physically deterministic or physically-causally closed but each person’s consciousness still entirely free to choose, ex nihilo, outside of the physical order, which physically-closed timeline is experienced by conscious observers. Although Libertarian Compatibilism is admittedly fantastic, I show that it not only follows from several live scientific and philosophical hypotheses, I also show that it (A) is a far more explanatorily powerful model of quantum mechanics than more traditional interpretations (e.g. the Copenhagen, Everett, and Bohmian interpretations), (B) makes determinate, testable empirical predictions in quantum theory, and finally, (C) predicts and explains the very existence of a number of philosophical debates and positions in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will. First, I show that whereas traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics are all philosophically problematic and roughly as ontologically “extravagant” as Libertarian Compatibilism – in that they all posit “unseen” processes – Libertarian Compatibilism is nearly identical in structure to the only working simulation that human beings have ever constructed capable of reproducing (and so explaining) every general feature of quantum mechanics we perceive: namely, massive-multiplayer-online-roleplaying videogames (or MMORPGs). Although I am not the first to suggest that our world is akin to a computer simulation, I show that existing MMORPGs (online simulations we have already created) actually reproduce every general feature of quantum mechanics within their simulated-world reference-frames. Second, I show that existing MMORPGs also replicate (and so explain) many philosophical problems we face in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will – all while conforming to the Libertarian Compatibilist model of reality. -/- I conclude, as such, that as fantastic and metaphysically extravagant as Libertarian Compatibilism may initially seem, it may well be true. It explains a number of features of our reality that no other physical or metaphysical theory does. (shrink)
This study examined correlations between moral value judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), and participant scores on the Short-D3 “Dark Triad” Personality Inventory—a measure of three related “dark and socially destructive” personality traits: Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy. Five hundred sixty-seven participants (302 male, 257 female, 2 transgendered; median age 28) were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk and Yale Experiment Month web advertisements. Different responses to MIS items were initially hypothesized to be “conservative” or “liberal” in line with (...) traditional public divides. Our demographic data confirmed all of these hypothesized categorizations. We then tested two broad, exploratory hypotheses: (H1) the hypothesis that there would be “many” significant correlations between conservative MIS judgments and the Dark Triad, and (H2) the hypothesis that there would be no significant correlations between liberal MIS judgments and Machiavellianism or Psychopathy, but “some” significant correlations between liberal MIS judgments and Narcissism. Because our hypotheses were exploratory and we ran a large number of statistical tests (62 total), we utilized a Bonferroni Correction to set a very high threshold for significance (p = .0008). Our results broadly supported our two hypotheses. We found eleven significant correlations between conservative MIS judgments and the Dark Triad—all at significance level of p < .00001—but no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and liberal MIS judgments. We believe that these results raise provocative moral questions about the personality bases of moral judgments. In particular, we propose that because the Short-D3 measures three “dark and antisocial” personality traits, our results raise some prima facie worries about the moral justification of some conservative moral judgments. (shrink)
In a recent study appearing in Neuroethics, I reported observing eleven significant correlations between the “Dark Triad” personality traits – Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy – and “conservative” judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey. Surprisingly, I observed no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments. In order to determine whether these results were an artifact of the particular issues I selected, I ran a follow-up study testing the Dark Triad against conservative and liberal judgments on fifteen additional moral (...) issues. The new issues examined include illegal immigration, abortion, the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the war on terrorism, laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and environmentalism. 1154 participants (680 male, 472 female; median age 29), recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk, completed three surveys: a 15-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), the 28-item Short Dark Triad personality inventory, and a five-item demographic survey. The results strongly reinforce my earlier findings. Twenty-two significant correlations were observed between “conservative” judgments and the Dark Triad (all of which were significant past a Bonferonni-corrected significance threshold of p=.0008), compared to seven significant correlations between Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments (only one of which was significant past p=.0008). This article concludes by developing a novel research proposal for determining whether the results of my two studies are “bad news” for conservatives or liberals. (shrink)
This paper defends several highly revisionary theses about human rights. Section 1 shows that the phrase ?human rights? refers to two distinct types of moral claims. Sections 2 and 3 argue that several longstanding problems in human rights theory and practice can be solved if, and only if, the concept of a ?human right? is replaced by two more exact concepts: International human rights: moral claims sufficient to warrant coercive domestic and international social protection. Domestic human rights: moral claims sufficient (...) to warrant coercive domestic social protection but only non-coercive international action. Section 3 then argues that because coercion is central to both types of human rights, and coercion is a matter of justice, the traditional view of human rights ? that they are normative entitlements prior to and independent of substantive theories of justice ? is incorrect. Human rights must instead be seen as emerging from substantive theories of domestic and international justice. Finally, Section 4 uses this reconceptualization to show that only a few very minimal claims about international human rights are presently warranted. Because international human rights are rights of international justice, but theorists of international justice disagree widely about the demands of international justice, much more research on international justice is needed ? and much greater agreement about international justice should be reached ? before anything more than a very minimal list of international human rights can be justified. (shrink)
This paper demonstrates something that Kant notoriously claimed to be possible, but which Kant scholars today widely believe to be impossible: unification of all three formulations of the Categorical Imperative. Part 1 of this paper tells a broad-brush story of how I understand Kant’s theory of practical reason and morality, showing how the three formulations of the Categorical Imperative appear to me to be unified. Part 2 then provides clear textual support for each premise in the argument for my interpretation.
Jason Brennan argues that people are morally obligated not to vote badly, where voting badly is voting “without sufficient reason” for harmful or unjust policies or candidates. His argument is: (1) One has an obligation not to engage in collectively harmful activities when refraining from such activities does not impose significant personal costs. (2) Voting badly is to engage in a collectively harmful activity, while abstaining imposes low personal costs. (3) Therefore, one should not vote badly. This paper shows that (...) Brennan never adequately clarifies (1) and that, on every plausible clarification, (2) is false. (shrink)
Allen Buchanan has argued that a widely defended view of the nature of the state – the view that the state is a discretionary association for the mutual advantage of its members – must be rejected because it cannot adequately account for moral requirements of humanitarian intervention. This paper argues that Buchanan’s objection is unsuccessful,and moreover, that discretionary association theories can preserve an important distinction that Buchanan’s alternative approach to political legitimacy cannot: the distinction between “internal” legitimacy (a state’s ability (...) to morally justify itself to its own members) and “external” legitimacy (a state’s ability to morally justify itself to humanity more broadly). (shrink)
This dissertation defends a “non-ideal theory” of justice: a systematic theory of how to respond justly to injustice. Chapter 1 argues that contemporary political philosophy lacks a non-ideal theory of justice, and defends a variation of John Rawls’ famous original position – the Non-Ideal Original Position – as a method with which to construct such a theory. Finally, Chapter 1 uses the Non-Ideal Original Position to argue for a Fundamental Principle of Non-Ideal Theory: a principle that requires injustices to be (...) dealt with in whichever way will best satisfy the preferences of all relevant individuals, provided those individuals are all rational, adequately informed, broadly moral, and accept the correct “ideal theory” of fully just conditions. Chapter 2 then argues for the Principle of Application – an epistemic principle that represents the Fundamental Principle’s satisfaction conditions in terms of the aims of actual or hypothetical reformist groups. Chapters 3-5 then use these two principles to argue for substantive views regarding global/international justice. Chapter 3 argues that the two principles establish a higher-order human right for all other human rights to promoted and protected in accordance with the two principles of non-ideal theory. Chapter 4 argues that the two principles defeasibly require the international community to tolerate unjust societies, provided those societies respect the most basic rights of individuals. Finally, Chapter 5 argues that the two principles imply a duty of the international community to ameliorate the most severe forms of global poverty, as well as a duty to pursue “fair trade” in international economics. (shrink)
The subjective features of conscious mental processes--as opposed to their physical causes and effects--cannot be captured by the purified form of thought suitable for dealing with the physical world that underlies appearances." (Nagel, in Dennett, 1991, p. 372).