This article is a response to some of Philip Stratton-Lake’s criticisms of an earlier paper of mine in this journal, on the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account of goodness. Some elucidation is offered of the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem and of T. M. Scanlon’s view, and the question is raised of the role of goodness in the view outlined by Stratton-Lake.
Arguments about distributive justice often take place around two ideas. One is that good should be distributed equally. The other is that how people fare in life should depend on what they are responsible for. The author asks what draws us to these two ideas and examines recent attempts by egalitarian thinkers to bring them together in a single distributive ideal. Underlying this ideal is the egalitarian intuition - the intuition that it is objectionable for some to be worse off (...) than others through no fault of their own. in a wide-ranging discussion, Lake tests that intuition from a variety of perspectives and points to the gaps in our current thinking about quality and individual responsibility. (shrink)
Kant, Duty and Moral Worth tackles the debate over whether or not Kant said moral actions have worth only if they are carried out from duty or whether actions carried out from mixed motives can be good. Stratton-Lake offers a unique account of acting from duty which utilizes the distinction between primary and secondary motives. He maintains that moral law should not be understood as normative moral reason but as playing a transcendental role. Thus, a Kantian account of moral worth (...) is one where the virtuous agent is one who is responsive to concrete particular considerations while preserving an essential role for universal moral priniciples. (shrink)
The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the eminent scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition with a substantial introduction by Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross. Ross's book is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and Stratton-Lake provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's (...) great work today. (shrink)
Metaethics, understood as a distinct branch of ethics, is often traced to G. E. Moore's 1903 classic, Principia Ethica. Whereas normative ethics is concerned to answer first-order moral questions about what is good and bad, right and wrong, metaethics is concerned to answer second-order non-moral questions about the semantics, metaphysics, and epistemology of moral thought and discourse. Moore has continued to exert a powerful influence, and the sixteen essays here (most of them specially written for the volume) represent the most (...) up-to-date work in metaethics after, and in some cases directly inspired by, the work of Moore. Contributors include Robert Audi, Stephen Barker, Paul Bloomfield, Panayot Butchvarvov, Jonathan Dancy, Stephen Darwall, Jamie Dreier, Allan Gibbard, Brad Hooker, Terry Horgan, Connie Rosati, Russ Shafer-Landau, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Michael Smith, Philip Stratton-Lake, Sigrun Svavarsdottir, Mark Timmons, and Judith Jarvis Thompson. (shrink)
Scanlon suggests a buck-passing account of goodness. To say that something is good is not to give a reason to, say, favour it; rather it is to say that there are such reasons. When it comes to wrongness, however, Scanlon rejects a buck-passing account: to say that j ing is wrong is, on his view, to give a sufficient moral reason not to j. Philip Stratton-Lake 2003 argues that Scanlon can evade a redundancy objection against his (Scanlon’s) view of (...) wrongness by adopting a buck-passing account of wrongness. We argue that this manoeuvre does not succeed. Scanlon’s notion of wrongness rests on the idea of a reasonably rejectable principle. As Stratton-Lake points out, Scanlon offers two accounts, one in terms of permission, the other in terms of proscription. The permission account is tricky to formulate. Scanlon’s account (quoted in Stratton-Lake 2003: 71) might suggest any of the following four formulations (where the principles in question are principles ‘governing how one may act’ (Scanlon.. (shrink)
Principle monists believe that our moral duties, such as fidelity and non-maleficence, can be justified in terms of one basic moral principle. Principle pluralists disagree, some suggesting that only an excessive taste for simplicity or a desire to mimic natural science could lead one to endorse monism. In Ideal Code, Real World (Oxford, 2000), Brad Hooker defends a monist theory, employing the method of reflective equilibrium to unify the moral duties under a version of rule consequentialism. Hooker's arguments have drawn (...) powerful criticisms from pluralists such as Alan Thomas, Phillip Montague and Philip Stratton-Lake. Against these critics, I argue that Hooker's monism enjoys certain practical advantages associated with the simplicity of a single basic principle. These advantages are often overlooked because they appear primarily in cases of second-order deliberation, in which one must decide whether our basic moral duties support a certain derivative duty. I argue that these advantages of monism over pluralism are analogous to the advantages that generalists claim over moral particularism. Because pluralists are generalists, I conclude that they are in an awkward dialectical position to dismiss Hooker's monism for the reasons they usually offer. (shrink)
Adrian Moore’s paper continues the development of a radical re-interpretation of Kant’s practical philosophy initiated by his Noble in Reason, Infinite in Faculty. [Moore, 2003] I have discussed elsewhere why it seems to me that Moore’s work, taken as a composite with that of his co-symposiasts today Philip Stratton-Lake and Burt Louden, adds up to a comprehensive and radical re-assessment of the contemporary significance of Kant’s practical philosophy which moral philosophers generally ought not to ignore. [Thomas, 2004] Moore states (...) that he is engaged in today’s paper “in a rational reconstruction of Kant …. sufficiently Kantian to be at least worth taking seriously. But I shall certainly part company with Kant at various points.” [Moore, 2005 p. 1] I shall, similarly, not be evaluating Moore’s arguments in terms of their fidelity to Kant; that would not be be the most fruitful way to engage with his project. It is better evaluated as a free-standing meta- 2 ethical position that draws on Kant and as a position that seems to me one of the most interesting on offer in contemporary meta-ethics. Moore’s overall strategy has three separable components. First, he accepts that there is no such thing as pure practical reason, as that very idea would violate the internal reasons constraint. [Williams, 1981, 1995a, 2001] Second, he makes a concession, which softens the impact of this first admission, to the effect that concept possession in the context of a given social practice has a range of normative commitments including practical commitments. Third, Moore emphasises the continuity between the practical orientation of living by concepts and the general project of making rational sense. It is this latter idea, in particular, that leads his general arguments in his book length study into Kant’s religious as well as his moral writings. On the first point, Moore is simply prepared to work with the idea that a general contrast between “reasons” and “motives” is not helpful.. (shrink)
THE PURPOSE OF THIS PAPER IS TO ATTEMPT TO SOLVE THE\nPROBLEM OF OTHER MINDS. THE METHOD USED INVOLVES\nINTRODUCING THREE NEW TERMS, EACH OF WHICH IN SOME WAYS\nRESEMBLES IN MEANING, AND IN SOME WAYS DIFFERS FROM IN\nMEANING, THE ORDINARY TERM "EXISTS." WHEN THE PROBLEM OF\nOTHER MINDS IS RESTATED WITH THESE NEW TERMS, THERE IS A\nPRONOUNCED INCREASE IN THE COMPLEXITY OF THE DISCUSSION,\nBUT THERE IS ALSO A PRONOUNCED DECREASE IN THE VAGUENESS OF\nTHE DISCUSSION. A COMPLETE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF OTHER\nMINDS IS (...) OFFERED. A VERSION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF THE\nRELATIVITY OF TIME, WHICH IS EVEN MORE DRASTIC THAN\nEINSTEIN'S VERSION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF THE RELATIVITY OF\nTIME, IS NEEDED IN THE SOLUTION. (shrink)
Ebbhinghaus, H., J. Flum, and W. Thomas. 1984. Mathematical Logic. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag. Forster, T. Typescript. The significance of Yablo’s paradox without self-reference. Available from http://www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk. Gold, M. 1965. Limiting recursion. Journal of Symbolic Logic 30: 28–47. Karp, C. 1964. Languages with Expressions of Infinite Length. Amsterdam.
Roger Crisp distinguishes a positive and a negative aspect of the buck-passing account of goodness (BPA), and argues that the positive account should be dropped in order to avoid certain problems, in particular, that it implies eliminativism about value. This eliminativism involves what I call an ontological claim, the claim that there is no real property of goodness, and an error theory, the claim that all value talk is false. I argue first that the positive aspect of the BPA is (...) necessary to explain the negative aspect. I accept the ontological claim but argue that this does not imply any sort of error theory about value. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the best form of deontology is one understood in terms of prima facie duties. I outline how these duties are to be understood and show how they offer a plausible and elegant connection between the reason why we ought to do certain acts, the normative reasons we have to do these acts, the reason why moral agents will do them, and the reasons certain people have to resent someone who does not do them. I (...) then argue that this form of deontology makes it harder to unify a pluralistic ethics under a single consequentialist principle in a plausible way, and illustrate this with reference to Rob Shaver's consequentialist arguments. (shrink)
Ethical intuitionists are often criticised on the ground that their view makes it possible for an agent to believe that she ought to ? whilst lacking any motive to ?-that is, on the ground that it involves, or implies a form of externalism. I begin by distinguishing this form of externalism (what I call 'belief externalism') from two other forms of ethical externalism-moral externalism, and reasons externalism. I then consider various reasons why one might think that ethical intuitionism is defective (...) in so far as it involves, or implies belief externalism, and argue that these objections are unpersuasive. (shrink)
According to one formulation of Scanlon’s contractualist principle, certain acts are wrong if they are permitted by principles that are reasonably rejectable because they permit such acts. According to the redundancy objection, if a principle is reasonably rejectable because it permits actions which have feature F, such actions are wrong simply in virtue of having F and not because their having F makes principles permitting them reasonably rejectable. Consequently Scanlon’s contractualist principle adds nothing to the reasons we have not to (...) act wrongly and is redundant. (shrink)
This paper aims at analyzing Philip Kitcher's naturalistic epistemology, particularly its normative features, which are viewed as a sort of response to negative assessments made by radical naturalists on the plurality of epistemic values. According to them such values are ineffective for normative ends, e.g. theory choice. Differently from that quite excessive evaluation, Kitcher argues rather for explanatory unity as the most important and universal epistemic value. Even though Kitcher's arguments are sound, there remains some serious gaps as regards (...) his attempts; there are also serious doubts about the desirability of achieving such a value. (shrink)
This brief opening for a special issue of Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical on Philip Clayton’s thought and its connection with that of Michael Polany introduces Clayton’s essay and the responses by Martinez Hewlett, Gregory R. Peterson, Andy F. Sanders and Waler B. Gulick.
Ethical Intuitionism was the dominant moral theory in Britain for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth and the first third of the twentieth century. However, during the middle decades of the twentieth century ethical intuitionism came to be regarded as utterly untenable. It was thought to be either empty, or metaphysically and epistemologically extravagant, or both. This hostility led to a neglect of the central intuitionist texts, and encouraged the growth of a caricature of intuitionism that could easily be rejected (...) before moving on to 'more serious' philosophical theories. More recently, however, this hostility towards ethical intuitionism has subsided. A wide range of moral philosophers, from Aristotelians, to rule-consequentialists, to expressivists, Kantians, and deontologists, are beginning to look to the ethical intuitionists' work as a positive resource. It is, therefore, a good time to get clear on what it was that intuitionists said, and re-evaluate their contribution to our understanding of morality. This volume is the first serious engagement with ethical intuitionism in the light of more recent developments in ethical theory. It contains essays by eminent moral philosophers working in very different traditions whose aim is to clarify and assess ethical intuitionism. Issues addressed include whether the plurality of basic principles intuitionists adhere to can be grounded in some more fundamental principle; the autonomy of ethics and self-evidence; moral realism and internalism; and the open question argument and naturalism. (shrink)
In Science, Truth, and Democracy, Philip Kitcher develops the notion of well-ordered science: scientific inquiry whose research agenda and applications (but not methods) are subject to public control guided by democratic deliberation. Kitcher's primary departure from his earlier views involves rejecting the idea that there is any single standard of scientific significance. The context-dependence of scientific significance opens up many normative issues to philosophical investigation and to resolution through democratic processes. Although some readers will feel Kitcher has not (...) moved far enough from earlier epistemological positions, the book does represent an important addition to literature on science, society, and values. (shrink)
Philosophy is often conceived in the Anglophone world today as a subject that focuses on questions in particular ‘‘core areas,’’ pre-eminently epistemology and metaphysics. This article argues that the contemporary conception is a new version of the scholastic ‘‘self-indulgence for the few’’ of which Dewey complained nearly a century ago. Philosophical questions evolve, and a first task for philosophers is to address issues that arise for their own times. The article suggests that a renewal of philosophy today should turn the (...) contemporary conception inside out, attending to and developing further the valuable work being done on the supposed ‘‘periphery’’ and attending to the ‘‘core areas’’ only insofar as is necessary to address genuinely significant questions. (shrink)
Genetic determinism is the idea that many significant human characteristics are rendered inevitable by the presence of certain genes. The psychologist Susan Oyama has famously compared arguing against genetic determinism to battling the undead. Oyama suggests that genetic determinism is inherent in the way we currently represent genes and what genes do. As long as genes are represented as containing information about how the organism will develop, they will continue to be regarded as determining causes no matter how much evidence (...) exists to the contrary. Philip Kitcher has strongly disputed Oyama’s diagnosis, arguing that the conventional ‘interactionist’ perspective on development is the correct framework for understanding the role of the genes in development. While acknowledging the legitimacy of many of Kitcher’s observations, I believe that Oyama’s view is substantially correct. In this paper I provide several lines of support for support the Oyama diagnosis. (shrink)
En este artículo me propongo analizar el punto de partida epistemológico de un reciente libro de Philip Kitcher (The Advancement of Science) a través de su discusión con las concepciónes ‘escépticas’. Podemos distinguir entre dos tipos de escepticismo en Ia trama deI libro de Kitcher: uno débil y otro radical. Intentamos difinir el tipo de realismo que Kitcher defiende, para finalmente mostrar que tal tipo de realismo es posible para Kitcher en Ia medida que no toma en cuenta el (...) escepticismo en su versión radical. En efecto, Kitcher sólo se enfrenta al escepticismo débil. Y es precisamente debido a esta restricción que es capaz de mantenerse al margen de una alternativa que sigue siendo crucial: realismo fuerte o realismo “de espíritu kantiano”.The purpose of this article is to carry out an analysis of the epistemologic standpoint on a recent book by Philip Kitcher (The Advancement of Science) by discussing the sceptic ideas which are dealt with there. We can discriminate between two kinds of scepticism appearing on Kitcher’s book: a weak and a radical one. Then we work towards a definition of the kind of realism held by this author and, finally, we try to show that such a viewpoint as Kitcher’s is possible to hold provided that we do not take the radical scepticism into account for that question. Kitcher only objects by means of the weak scepticism. And it is precisely because of that restriction that he is capable of not giving a definition of a crucial alternative: strong realism or realism in “Kantian spirit”. (shrink)
In Nietzsche and the Horror of Existence, Philip J. Kain makes a compelling case for taking Nietzsche’s concern with the subject of horror seriously and then challenges his conclusions about it. A corollary of existence, horror is an ineliminable part of being human. Our experience of horror prompts reflection on life and the act of philosophizing. Arguing it is a formative yet often overlooked theme in Nietzsche’s oeuvre, Kain recognizes that the experience of horror is central to “Nietzsche’s vision” (...) of life, truth, beauty, and knowledge (1). Kain examines Nietzsche’s interrogation of philosophical responses to horror, tracing his approach from his innovative reinterpretation of the function of tragic .. (shrink)