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Profile: Mark T. Nelson (Westmont College, University of Leeds)
  1. Mark T. Nelson (2014). Epistemic Value, Edited by Adrian Haddock, Alan Millar, and Duncan Pritchard. Mind 123 (490):609-612.
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  2. Mark T. Nelson (2013). Non-Contradiction: Oh Yeah and so What? Think 12 (34):87-91.
  3. Mark T. Nelson (2012). Commentary: Practical Wisdom and Theory. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 21 (03):404-408.
    This paper is an ethical reflection on the real-life case of "Angela", a highly intelligent but severely anorexic young woman who wishes to refuse all but palliative treatment. It is part of CQHE's "Ethics Committees and Consultants at Work" series, in response to the essay, "Starving for Perfection.".
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  4. Mark T. Nelson (2011). Introduction. Philosophical Papers 40 (3):279-283.
    Philosophical Papers, Volume 40, Issue 3, Page 279-283, November 2011.
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  5. Mark T. Nelson (2011). The Contingency Cosmological Argument. In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  6. Mark T. Nelson (2010). We Have No Positive Epistemic Duties. Mind 119 (473):83-102.
    In ethics, it is commonly supposed that we have both positive duties and negative duties, things we ought to do and things we ought not to do. Given the many parallels between ethics and epistemology, we might suppose that the same is true in epistemology, and that we have both positive epistemic duties and negative epistemic duties. I argue that this is false; that is, that we have negative epistemic duties, but no positive ones. There are things that we ought (...)
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  7. Mark T. Nelson (2010). Y and Z Are Not Off the Hook: The Survival Lottery Made Fairer. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (4):396-401.
    In this article I show that the argument in John Harris's famous "Survival Lottery" paper cannot be right. Even if we grant Harris's assumptions—of the justifiability of such a lottery, the correctness of maximizing consequentialism, the indistinguishability between killing and letting die, the practical and political feasibility of such a scheme—the argument still will not yield the conclusion that Harris wants. On his own terms, the medically needy should be less favored (and more vulnerable to being killed), than Harris suggests.
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  8. Mark T. Nelson (2009). A Problem for Conservatism. Analysis 69 (4):620-630.
    I present a problem for a prominent kind of conservatism, viz., the combination of traditional moral & religious values, patriotic nationalism, and libertarian capitalism. The problem is that these elements sometimes conflict. In particular, I show how libertarian capitalism and patriotic nationalism conflict via a scenario in which the thing that libertarian capitalists love – unregulated market activity – threatens what American patriots love – a strong, independent America. Unrestricted libertarian rights to buy and sell land would permit the sale (...)
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  9. Mark T. Nelson (2009). Review of Timothy Chappell, Ethics and Experience: Life Beyond Moral Theory. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (12).
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  10. Mark T. Nelson (2007). More Bad News for the Logical Autonomy of Ethics. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (2):203-216.
    Are there good arguments from Is to Ought? Toomas Karmo has claimed that there are trivially valid arguments from Is to Ought, but no sound ones. I call into question some key elements of Karmo’s argument for the “logical autonomy of ethics”, and show that attempts to use it as part of an overall case for moral skepticism would be self-defeating.
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  11. Mark T. Nelson (2006). The Possibility of Inductive Moral Arguments. Philosophical Papers 35 (2):231-246.
    Is it possible to have moral knowledge? ‘Moral justification skeptics’ hold it is not, because moral beliefs cannot have the sort of epistemic justification necessary for knowledge. This skeptical stance can be summed up in a single, neat argument, which includes the premise that ‘Inductive arguments from non-moral premises to moral conclusions are not possible.’ Other premises in the argument may rejected, but only at some cost. It would be noteworthy, therefore, if ‘inductive inferentialism’ about morals were shown to be (...)
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  12. Mark T. Nelson (2006). Moral Realism and Program Explanation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):417 – 428.
    Alexander Miller has recently considered an ingenious extension of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit's account of 'program explanation' as a way of defending non-reductive naturalist versions of moral realism against Harman's explanatory criticism. Despite the ingenuity of this extension, Miller concludes that program explanation cannot help such moral realists in their attempt to defend moral properties. Specifically, he argues that such moral program explanations are dispensable from an epistemically unlimited point of view. I show that Miller's argument for this negative (...)
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  13. Mark T. Nelson (2005). Loving Attention: A Realist, Projectivist Theory of Value. Religious Studies 41 (4):415-433.
    I try out a tentative hypothesis in speculative philosophy, by sketching a theory of value modelled on John Locke's theory of acquisition. I argue that this theory has all the advantages of Locke's theory of acquisition, but few of its disadvantages. Moreover, it allows us to reconcile two attractive, but apparently incompatible, ideas about value: the real-value idea (that animals, plants, artifacts, and landscapes really are valuable) and the subject-dependence idea (that things have value only in relation to experiencing subjects). (...)
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  14. Mark T. Nelson (2005). Telling It Like It Is: Philosophy as Descriptive Manifestation. American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (3):2005.
    What do Ross’s The Right and the Good; Chisholm’s Theory of Knowledge; Kripke’s Naming and Necessity; and Audi’s The Architecture of Reason have in common? They all advance important philosophical positions, but not so much via analytic arguments as via formal schemas, distinctions, examples, and analogies. They use such formal schemas, etc, to describe the world so as to make some aspect of it manifest. That is, they simply try to ‘tell it like it is’. This ‘method of descriptive manifestation’ (...)
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  15. Mark T. Nelson (2004). Must We Argue? The Philosophers' Magazine (26):41-42.
    Analytic philosophers often claim that the giving and criticizing of deductive arguments is the main or only business of philosophy. I argue that this is mistaken and show analytic philosophers also use formal schemas, distinctions, examples, and analogies so as to make some aspect of it manifest. That is, some analytic philosophers sometimes simply try to ‘tell it like it is’. This ‘method of descriptive manifestation’ is less commonly recognized than it should be given its divergence from the self-image of (...)
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  16. Mark T. Nelson (2004). Review: Sabina Lovibond, Ethical Formation (Harvard, 2002). [REVIEW] Mind 113 (449):189-192.
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  17. Mark T. Nelson (2004). Review: Ethical Formation. [REVIEW] Mind 113 (449):189-192.
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  18. Mark T. Nelson (2003). Robert Audi and the Method of Descriptive Manifestation. Philosophical Books 44 (1).
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  19. Mark T. Nelson (2003). Sinnott–Armstrong's Moral Scepticism. Ratio 16 (1):63–82.
    Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's recent defense of moral skepticism raises the debate to a new level, but I argue that it is unsatisfactory because of problems with its assumption of global skepticism, with its use of the Skeptical Hypothesis Argument, and with its use of the idea of contrast classes and the correlative distinction between "everyday" justification and "philosophical" justification. I draw on Chisholm's treatment of the Problem of the Criterion to show that my claim that I know that, e.g., baby-torture is (...)
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  20. Mark T. Nelson (2003). Who Needs Valid Moral Arguments? Argumentation 17 (1):35-42.
    Why have so many philosophers agonised over the possibility of valid arguments from factual premises to moral conclusions? I suggest that they have done so, because of worries over a sceptical argument that has as one of its premises, `All moral knowledge must be non-inferential, or, if inferential, based on valid arguments or strong inductive arguments from factual premises'. I argue that this premise is false.
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  21. Mark T. Nelson (2002). John Hare God's Call: Moral Realism, God's Commands, and Human Autonomy. (William B. Eerdmans, 2001). [REVIEW] Religious Studies 38 (2):225-246.
  22. Mark T. Nelson (2002). John Hare God's Call: Moral Realism, God's Commands, and Human Autonomy. (Grand Rapids MI/Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2001). Pp. X+122. $14.00 (Hbk). ISBN 0 8028 3903 7. $11.00 (Pbk). ISBN 0 8028 4997 0. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 38 (2).
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  23. Mark T. Nelson (2002). What Justification Could Not Be. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 10 (3):265 – 281.
    I begin by asking the meta-epistemological question, 'What is justification?', analogous to the meta-ethical question, 'What is rightness?' I introduce the possibility of non-cognitivist, naturalist, non-naturalist, and eliminativist answers in meta-epistemology,corresponding to those in meta-ethics. I devote special attention to the naturalistic hypothesis that epistemic justification is identical to probability, showing its antecedent plausibility. I argue that despite this plausibility, justification cannot be identical with probability, under the standard interpretation of the probability calculus, for the simple reason that justification can (...)
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  24. Mark T. Nelson (2001). On the Lack of ‘True Philosophic Spirit’ in Aquinas: Commitment V. Tracking in Philosophic Method. Philosophy 76 (2):283-296.
    Bertrand Russell famously disparaged Thomas Aquinas as having ‘little of the true philosophic spirit’, because ‘he does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead.’ Like many of Russell's pronouncements, this is breathtakingly supercilious and unfair. Still, even an enthusiastic admirer of Aquinas may worry that there is something in it, that there is something wrong with religious ‘commitments’ in philosophy. I examine Russell's objection by comparing standards of permissibility in epistemology with standards of (...)
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  25. Mark T. Nelson (1999). Morally Serious Critics of Moral Intuitions. Ratio 12 (1):54–79.
    I characterise moral intuitionism as the methodological claim that one may legitimately appeal to moral judgments in the course of moral reasoning even when those judgments are not supported by inference from other judgments. I describe two patterns of criticism of this method: ‘morally unserious’ criticisms, which hold that ‘morality is bunk’, so appeals to moral intuitions are bunk as well; and ‘morally serious’ criticisms, which hold that morality is not bunk, but that appeals to moral intuition are nonetheless misguided. (...)
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  26. Mark T. Nelson (1999). Stephen T. Davis God, Reason and Theistic Proofs. (Edinburgh University Press, 1997). [REVIEW] Religious Studies 35 (1):99-111.
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  27. Mark T. Nelson (1999). Stephen T. Davis God, Reason and Theistic Proofs. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997). Pp. Xiv+204. £11.99 Pbk. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 35 (1):99-111.
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  28. Michael D. Beaty, Carlton D. Fisher & Mark T. Nelson (eds.) (1998). Christian Theism and Moral Philosophy. Mercer University Press.
    These essays exhibit explanation and argument regarding some of the possible answers to these fundamental questions in moral philosophy.
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  29. Mark T. Nelson (1998). An Aristotelian Business Ethics? Journal of Applied Philosophy 15 (1):89–104.
    Elaine Sternberg's Just Business is one of the first book-length Aristotelian treatments of business ethics. It is Aristotelian in the sense that Sternberg begins by defining the nature of business in order to identify its end, and, thence, normative principles to regulate it. According to Sternberg, the nature of business is 'the selling of goods or services in order to maximise long-term owner value', therefore all business behaviour must be evaluated with reference to the maximisation of long-term owner value, constrained (...)
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  30. Mark T. Nelson (1998). Bertrand Russell's Defence of the Cosmological Argument. American Philosophical Quarterly 35 (1):87-100.
    According to the cosmological argument, there must be a self-existent being, because, if every being were a dependent being, we would lack an explanation of the fact that there are any dependent beings at all, rather than nothing. This argument faces an important, but little-noticed objection: If self-existent beings may exist, why may not also self-explanatory facts also exist? And if self-explanatory facts may exist, why may not the fact that there are any dependent beings be a self-explanatory fact? And (...)
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  31. Mark T. Nelson (1996). Bald Lies: A Puzzle About Deception. Cogito 10 (3):235-237.
    I present a short, informal vignette that poses the question of whether altering one's appearance by wearing a wig counts as deception, since in both cases one (apparently) tries to bring about false beliefs in others. The bald-headed wig-wearer tries to get others to believe falsely that he has a thick head of hair. If deception is generally wrong, why isn't wig-wearing wrong also?
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  32. Mark T. Nelson (1996). The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Moral Argument. Religious Studies 32 (1):15-26.
    The Clarke/Rowe version of the Cosmological Argument is sound only if the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) is true, but many philosophers, including Rowe, think that there is not adequate evidence for the principle of sufficient reason. I argue that there may be indirect evidence for PSR on the grounds that if we do not accept it, we lose our best justification for an important principle of metaethics, namely, the Principle of Universalizability. To show this, I argue that all the (...)
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  33. Mark T. Nelson (1996). Who Are the Best Judges of Theistic Arguments? Sophia 35 (2):1-12.
    The best judge of the soundness of a philosophical argument is the philosopher with the greatest philosophical aptitude, the deepest knowledge of the relevant subject matter, the most scrupulous character, and a disinterested position with respect to the subject matter. This last feature is important because even a highly intelligent and scrupulous judge may find it hard to reach the right conclusion about a subject in which he or she has a vested interest. When the subject of inquiry is the (...)
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  34. Mark T. Nelson (1995). Review: Blind Realism: An Essay on Human Knowledge and Natural Science. Philosophical Quarterly 45 (178):127.
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  35. Mark T. Nelson (1995). Is It Always Fallacious to Derive Values From Facts? Argumentation 9 (4):553-562.
    Charles Pigden has argued for a logical Is/Ought gap on the grounds of the conservativeness of logic. I offer a counter-example which shows that Pigden’s argument is unsound and that there need be no logical gap between Is-premises and an Ought-conclusion. My counter-example is an argument which is logically valid, has only Is-premises and an Ought-conclusion, does not purport to violate the conservativeness of logic, and does not rely on controversial assumptions about Aristotelian biology or 'institutional facts.'.
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  36. Mark T. Nelson (1995). Redeeming the Time. The Personalist Forum 11 (1):17-32.
    I borrow an idea from the fiction of C. S. Lewis that future outcomes may affect the value of past events. I then defend this idea via the concept of a “temporal whole”, and show its promise as a partial theodicy and its resonance with both Christian theism and a robust personalism.
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  37. J. L. A. Garcia & Mark T. Nelson (1994). The Problem of Endless Joy: Is Infinite Utility Too Much for Utilitarianism? Utilitas 6 (02):183-.
    What if human joy (more technically, utility) went on endlessly? Suppose, for example, that each human generation were followed by another, or that the Western religions are right when they teach that each human being lives eternally after death. If any such possibility is true in the actual world, then an agent might sometimes be so situated that more than one course of action would produce an infinite amount of utility (or of disutility, or of both). Deciding whether to have (...)
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  38. Mark T. Nelson (1994). Review: Frances Snare,The Nature of Moral Thinking. Philosophical Books 35 (1):78-80.
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  39. Mark T. Nelson (1993). Promises and Material Conditionals. Teaching Philosophy 16 (2):155-156.
    Some beginning logic students find it hard to understand why a material conditional is true when its antecedent is false. I draw an analogy between conditional statements and conditional promises (especially between true conditional statements and unbroken conditional promises) that makes this point of logic less counter-intuitive.
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  40. Mark T. Nelson (1993). Temporal Wholes and the Problem of Evil. Religious Studies 29 (3):313 - 324.
    I borrow an idea from the fiction of C. S. Lewis that future outcomes may affect the value of past events, defend this idea via the concept of a 'temporal whole' and show its promise as a partial theodicy and its resonance with Christian theism and a robust personalism.
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  41. Mark T. Nelson (1991). Eliminative Materialism and Substantive Commitments. International Philosophical Quarterly (March) 39 (March):39-49.
    This paper is an attempt to bring some order to a classic debate over the mind/body problem. I formulate the dualist, identity, and eliminativist positions and then examine the disagreement between eliminativists and their critics. I show how the apparent impasse between eliminativists and non-eliminativists can be helpfully interpreted in the light of the higher-order debate over methodological versus substantive commitments in philosophy. I argue that non-eliminativist positions can be defended using Roderick Chisholm's defense of what he calls "particularism" in (...)
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  42. Mark T. Nelson (1991). Intuitionism and Subjectivism. Metaphilosophy 22 (1-2):115-121.
    I define ethical intuitionism as the view that it is appropriate to appeal to inferentially unsupported moral beliefs in the course of moral reasoning. I mention four common objections to this view, including the view that all such appeals to intuitionism collapse into “subjectivism”, i.e., that they make truth in ethical theory depend on what people believe. I defend intuitionism from versions of this criticism expressed by R.M. Hare and Peter Singer.
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  43. Mark T. Nelson (1991). Naturalistic Ethics and the Argument From Evil. Faith and Philosophy 8 (3):368-379.
    Philosophical naturalism is a cluster of views and impulses typically taken to include atheism, physicalism, radical empiricism or naturalized epistemology, and some sort of relativism, subjectivism or nihilism about morality. I argue that a problem arises when the naturalist offers the argument from evil for atheism. Since the argument from evil is a moral argument, it cannot be effectively deployed by anyone who holds the denatured ethical theories that the naturalist typically holds. In the context of these naturalistic ethical theories, (...)
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  44. Mark T. Nelson (1991). Utilitarian Eschatology. American Philosophical Quarterly 28 (4):339-47.
    Traditional utilitarianism, when applied, implies a surprising prediction about the future, viz., that all experience of pleasure and pain must end once and for all, or infinitely dwindle. Not only is this implication surprising, it should render utilitarianism unacceptable to persons who hold any of the following theses: that evaluative propositions may not imply descriptive, factual propositions; that evaluative propositions may not imply contingent factual propositions about the future; that there will always exist beings who experience pleasure or pain.
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  45. Mark T. Nelson (1991). The Morality of a Free Market for Transplant Organs. Public Affairs Quarterly 5 (1):63-79.
    There is a world-wide shortage of kidneys for transplantation. Many people will have to endure lengthy and unpleasant dialysis treatments, or die before an organ becomes available. Given this chronic shortage, some doctors and health economists have proposed offering financial incentives to potential donors to increase the supply of transplantable organs. In this paper, I explore objections to the practice of buying and selling organs from the point of view 1) justice, 2) beneficence and 3) Commodification. Regarding objection to the (...)
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  46. Mark T. Nelson (1990). Intuitionism and Conservatism. Metaphilosophy 21 (3):282-293.
    I define ethical intuitionism as the view that it is appropriate to appeal to inferentially unsupported moral beliefs in the course of moral reasoning. I mention four common objections to this view, including the view that all such appeals to intuition make ethical theory politically and noetically conservative. I defend intuitionism from versions of this criticism expressed by R.B. Brandt, R.M. Hare and Richard Miller.
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  47. Mark T. Nelson (1990). Review: Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics. Philosophical Books 31 (3):169-171.
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  48. Mark T. Nelson (1989). Review: T.L.S. Sprigge,The Rational Foundations of Ethics. Philosophical Books 30 (1):49-51.
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