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Profile: Nicholas Southwood (Australian National University)
  1. Geoffrey Brennan, Lina Eriksson, Robert E. Goodin & Nicholas Southwood (2013). Explaining Norms. Oxford University Press.
    Norms are a pervasive yet mysterious feature of social life. In Explaining Norms, four philosophers and social scientists team up to grapple with some of the many mysteries, offering a comprehensive account of norms: what they are; how and why they emerge, persist and change; and how and to what extent they themselves serve to explain what we do. Norms, they argue, should be understood in non-reductive terms as clusters of normative attitudes that serve the function of making us accountable (...)
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  2. Nicholas Southwood (2013). Democracy as a Modally Demanding Value. Noûs 47 (2):n/a-n/a.
    Imperialism seems to be deeply antithetical to democracy. Yet, at least one form of imperialism – what I call “hands-off imperialism" – seems to be perfectly compatible with the kind of self-governance commonly thought to be the hallmark of democracy. The solution to this puzzle is to recognize that democracy involves more than self-governance. Rather, it involves what I call self-rule. Self-rule is an example of what Philip Pettit has called a modally demanding value. Modally demanding values are, roughly, values (...)
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  3. Nicholas Southwood (2013). “The Thing To Do” Implies “Can”. Noûs 47 (3).
    A familiar complaint against the principle that “ought” implies “can” is that it seems that agents can intentionally make it the case that they cannot perform acts that they nonetheless ought to perform. I propose a related principle that I call the principle that “the thing to do” implies “can.” I argue that the principle that “the thing to do” implies “can” is implied by important but underappreciated truths about practical reason, and that it is not vulnerable to the familiar (...)
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  4. Christian Barry & Nicholas Southwood (2011). What Is Special About Human Rights? Ethics and International Affairs 25 (3):369-83.
    Despite the prevalence of human rights discourse, the very idea or concept of a human right remains obscure. In particular, it is unclear what is supposed to be special or distinctive about human rights. In this paper, we consider two recent attempts to answer this challenge, James Griffin’s “personhood account” and Charles Beitz’s “practice-based account”, and argue that neither is entirely satisfactory. We then conclude with a suggestion for what a more adequate account might look like – what we call (...)
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  5. Daniel Friedrich & Nicholas Southwood (2011). Promises and Trust. In Hanoch Sheinman (ed.), Promises and Agreement: Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.
    In this article we develop and defend what we call the “Trust View” of promissory obligation, according to which making a promise involves inviting another individual to trust one to do something. In inviting her trust, and having the invitation accepted (or at least not rejected), one incurs an obligation to her not to betray the trust that one has invited. The distinctive wrong involved in breaking a promise is a matter of violating this obligation. We begin by explicating the (...)
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  6. Nicholas Southwood (2011). The Moral/Conventional Distinction. Mind 120 (479):761-802.
    Commonsense suggests that moral judgements and conventional normative judgements are importantly different in kind. Yet a compelling vindicating account of the moral/conventional distinction has proven persistently elusive. The distinction is typically explicated in terms of either formal properties (the Form View) or substantive properties (the Content View) of the principles that figure in the judgements. But the most promising versions of these views face serious difficulties. After reviewing the difficulties with the standard accounts, I propose a new way of explicating (...)
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  7. Nicholas Southwood & Lina Eriksson (2011). Norms and Conventions. Philosophical Explorations 14 (2):195 - 217.
    What is the relation between norms (in the sense of ?socially accepted rules?) and conventions? A number of philosophers have suggested that there is some kind of conceptual or constitutive relation between them. Some hold that conventions are or entail special kinds of norms (the ?conventions-as-norms thesis?). Others hold that at least some norms are or entail special kinds of conventions (the ?norms-as-conventions thesis?). We argue that both theses are false. Norms and conventions are crucially different conceptually and functionally in (...)
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  8. Nicholas Southwood (2010). Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality. Oxford University Press.
    Contractualism has a venerable history and considerable appeal. Yet as an account of the foundations or ultimate grounds of morality it has been thought by many philosophers to be subject to fatal objections. This book argues otherwise. It begins by detailing and diagnosing the shortcomings of the main existing models of contractualism, “Hobbesian” contractualism (or contractarianism) and “Kantian” contractualism. It then proposes a novel, "deliberative" model, based on an interpersonal, deliberative conception of practical reason. It argues that the deliberative model (...)
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  9. Nicholas Southwood (2010). The Authority of Social Norms. In Michael Brady (ed.), New Waves in Metaethics. Palgrave Macmillan.
  10. Philippe Chuard & Nicholas Southwood (2009). Epistemic Norms Without Voluntary Control. Noûs 43 (4):599-632.
    William Alston’s argument against the deontological conception of epistemic justification is a classic—and much debated—piece of contemporary epistemology. At the heart of Alston’s argument, however, lies a very simple mistake which, surprisingly, appears to have gone unnoticed in the vast literature now devoted to the argument. After having shown why some of the standard responses to Alston’s argument don’t work, we elucidate the mistake and offer a hypothesis as to why it has escaped attention.
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  11. Nicholas Southwood (2009). Moral Contractualism. Philosophy Compass 4 (6):926-937.
    This article provides a critical introduction to contractualism as a moral or ethical theory, that is, as a theory of the rightness and wrongness of individual conduct – focusing specifically on the influential 'Kantian' version of contractualism due to T. M. Scanlon. I begin by elucidating the key features of Scanlon's contractualism: justifiability to others; reasonable rejectability; the individualist restriction; and mutual recognition. I then turn to discuss both its appeal and the main objections that have been raised to it (...)
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  12. Nicholas Southwood & Daniel Friedrich (2009). Promises Beyond Assurance. Philosophical Studies 144 (2):261 - 280.
    Breaking a promise is generally taken to involve committing a certain kind of moral wrong, but what (if anything) explains this wrong? According to one influential theory that has been championed most recently by T.M. Scanlon, the wrong involved in breaking a promise is a matter of violating an obligation that one incurs to a promisee in virtue of giving her assurance that one will perform or refrain from performing certain acts. In this paper, we argue that the “Assurance View”, (...)
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  13. Bruno Verbeek & Nicholas Southwood (2009). Introduction: Practical Reasoning and Normativity. Philosophical Explorations 12 (3):223-225.
    This volume brings together previously unpublished papers by leading scholars that deal with the theme of practical reasoning and normativity. The volume includes contributions by Michael Bratman, Donald Bruckner, David Enoch, Elijah Millgram, Andrew Reisner, François and Laura Schroeter, Mark Schroeder, and William White.
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  14. Nicholas Southwood (2008). A Deliberative Model of Contractualism. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (2):183-208.
    Despite an impressive philosophical pedigree, contractualism (or contractarianism) has only been properly developed in two ways: by appeal to the idea of an instrumentally rational bargain or contract between self-interested individuals (Hobbesian contractualism) and by appeal to the idea of a substantively reasonable agreement among individuals who regard one another as free and equal persons warranting equal moral respect (Kantian contractualism). Both of these existing models of contractualism are susceptible to apparently devastating objections. In this article, I outline a third, (...)
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  15. Nicholas Southwood (2008). Vindicating the Normativity of Rationality. Ethics 119 (1):9-30.
    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 (...)
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  16. Geoffrey Brennan & Nicholas Southwood (2007). Feasibility in Action and Attitude. In J. Josefsson D. Egonsson (ed.), Hommage à Wlodek. Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz.
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  17. Nicholas Southwood (2005). The Difficulty of Tolerance, by T. M. Scanlon. Cambridge University Press, 2003, IX + 273 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 21 (2):326-333.
  18. Nicholas Southwood (2003). Political Versus Moral Justification. Southern Journal of Philosophy 41 (2):261-281.
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  19. Nicholas Southwood (2002). Beyond Pettit's Neo-Roman Republicanism: Towards the Deliberative Republic. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 5 (1):16-42.
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