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  1. Saul Smilansky, Egalitarianism, Free Will, and Ultimate Injustice.
    Egalitarianism is a major contemporary position on issues of distributive justice and related public policy. Its major strand can be called “choice-egalitarianism”, broadly, the claim that inequality can be morally justified only when it follows from people’s choices.1 I claim that the choice-egalitarians have failed to recognize a deep sense of injustice, which I call Ultimate Injustice. This form of injustice follows from the implications of the free will problem. Part I of this paper explains what Ultimate Injustice is, explicates (...)
     
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  2. Saul Smilansky, Free Will: Two Radical Proposals.
    The free will problem and the basic alternative ways of dealing with it have been known for some 2000 years, and have engaged the greatest philosophers through the ages. In the last 50 years much philosophical progress has been added on top of that ancient cumulative understanding. Hence it would be natural to wonder why I think that any new proposal can be made on this classic problem, let alone two radical proposals.
     
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  3. Saul Smilansky, Some Opinions About 10 Moral Paradoxes.
    “This is a delightful and engaging little book. With its bite-size chapters, lively exposition, and important subject matter, this is the kind of book that can spark an interest in philosophy among those unfamiliar with it. But its appeal is not limited to neophytes; it poses significant new challenges to moral theory that even hardened professional philosophers will find stimulating and provocative”.
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  4. Saul Smilansky, Some Questions About Moral Paradoxes.
    First let's see what a paradox is. Broadly speaking, there are two opinions. One is lax; it is common among non-philosophers, but occasionally comes up in philosophy as well. According to the lax view, a paradox (or the paradoxical – there is a distinction, but I will not make it here) can be anything perplexing, unusual, unexpected, or ironic. The strict view closely connects paradoxes to the idea of a contradiction. Mark Sainsbury in PARADOXES defines it thus: “an apparently unacceptable (...)
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  5. Saul Smilansky (2014). A Moral Problem About Prayer. Think 13 (36):105-113.
    At a time of acute danger, people commonly petition God for help for themselves or their loved ones. Such prayer seems natural and, indeed, for believers, reasonable and acceptable. But once we closely examine what is actually happening in such situations, we see that frequently such prayer is not morally innocuous. I present a number of examples which illustrate the difficulty, and argue that even assuming the benevolence of the deity does not suffice to make such prayer legitimate.
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  6. Susan Blackmore, Thomas W. Clark, Mark Hallett, John-Dylan Haynes, Ted Honderich, Neil Levy, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Shaun Nichols, Michael Pauen, Derk Pereboom, Susan Pockett, Maureen Sie, Saul Smilansky, Galen Strawson, Daniela Goya Tocchetto, Manuel Vargas, Benjamin Vilhauer & Bruce Waller (2013). Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Lexington Books.
     
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  7. Juha Räikkä & Saul Smilansky (2013). The Ethics of Alien Attitudes. The Monist 95 (3):511-532.
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  8. Saul Smilansky (2013). A Difficulty Concerning Compensation. Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3):329-337.
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  9. Saul Smilansky (2013). Free Will as a Case of “Crazy Ethics”. In Gregg Caruso (ed.), Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Lexington Books. 103.
  10. Saul Smilansky (2013). Morally, Should We Prefer Never to Have Existed? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):655-666.
    We can morally compare possible alternative states of affairs, judging that various actual historical occurrences were bad, overall?the Holocaust, World War I, and slavery, for example. We should prefer that such events had not occurred, and regret that they had occurred. But the vast majority of people who now exist would not have existed had it not been for those historical events. A ?package deal? is involved here: those events, together with oneself; or, the absence of the historical calamity, and (...)
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  11. Saul Smilansky (2013). The Paradox of Moral Complaint: A Reply to Shaham. Utilitas 25 (2):277-282.
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  12. Saul Smilansky (2013). Why Moral Paradoxes Matter? “Teflon Immorality” and the Perversity of Life. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):229-243.
    “Teflon immorality’’ (or TI) is immorality that goes on unchecked—the wrongdoing is not stopped and its perpetrators, beyond the reach of punishment or other sanction, often persist in their immoral ways. The idea that the immoral prosper has been recognized as morally (and legally) disturbing presumably for as long as humanity has been reflective, and can be found already in the Bible. The reasons behind a great deal of successful immorality are important practically, but uninteresting philosophically. Sometimes, however, we face (...)
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  13. Saul Smilansky (2012). A Problem About the Morality of Some Common Forms of Prayer. Ratio 25 (2):207-215.
    At a time of acute danger, people commonly petition God for help for themselves or their loved ones; such as praying that an avalanche heading in one's direction be diverted, or that an organ donor be found for one's dying child. Such prayer seems natural and, indeed, for believers, reasonable and acceptable. It seems perverse to condemn such typical prayer, as wrong. But once we closely examine what is actually happening in such situations, we shall see that frequently prayer of (...)
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  14. Saul Smilansky (2012). Discussion: On the Common Lament, That a Person Cannot Make Much Difference in This World. Philosophy 87 (01):109-122.
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  15. Saul Smilansky (2012). Free Will and Moral Responsibility: The Trap, the Appreciation of Agency, and the Bubble. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 16 (2):211-239.
    In Part I, I reflect in some detail upon the free will problem and about the way its understanding has radically changed. First I outline the four questions that go into making the free will problem. Second, I consider four paradigmatic shifts that have occurred in our understanding of this problem. Then I go on to reflect upon this complex and multi-level situation. In Part II of this essay, I explore the major alternative positions, and defend my views, in new (...)
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  16. Saul Smilansky (2012). 10 Paradoḳsim Musariyim. Hozaat Ha-Sefarim Shel Universiṭat Ḥefah.
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  17. Saul Smilansky (2011). Hard Determinism and Punishment: A Practical Reductio. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 30 (3):353-367.
    How can hard determinism deal with the need to punish, when coupled with the obligation to be just? I argue that even though hard determinists might find it morally permissible to incarcerate wrongdoers apart from lawful society, they are committed to the punishment’s taking a very different form from common practice in contemporary Western societies. Hard determinists are in fact committed to what I will call funishment, instead of punishment. But, by its nature funishment is a practical reductio of hard (...)
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  18. Saul Smilansky (2011). Israel. The Philosophers' Magazine 54 (54):50-54.
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  19. Saul Smilansky (2010). If Knowledge is Good, We Are Always Born Too Early. Journal of Value Inquiry 44 (1):55-59.
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  20. Saul Smilansky (2010). Moral Aspirations and Ideals. Utilitas 22 (3).
  21. Saul Smilansky (2010). Moral Demands, Moral Pragmatics, and Being Good. Utilitas 22 (3):303-308.
  22. Saul Smilansky (2010). When Does Morality Win? Ratio 23 (1):102-110.
    I describe a case involving two countries at war, Benevolentia and Malevoran. Malevoran is an unjust aggressor, which does not follow the requirements of the prevailing morality of warfare. The leadership and army of Benevolentia closely follow those requirements, and as a direct result Benevolentia loses. I claim that this is a reductio of the prevailing morality of warfare: in the victory of Malevoran over Benevolentia morality has lost. I draw some tentative conclusions concerning the morality of warfare, and urge (...)
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  23. Saul Smilansky (2008). Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence – David Benatar. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):569–571.
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  24. Saul Smilansky (2008). Fischer's Way: The Next Level. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 12 (2):147 - 155.
    I present an analogy between analytic philosophy and a particular sort of computer game, and analyze some aspects of John Martin Fischer's My Way in the light of this analogy. I set out the different levels of the free will question, and explore how well Fischer does on them. On the compatibility level, he succeeds, in my view, in confronting the "metaphysical challenge" and the "manipulation challenge", but does less well with the "moral arbitrariness challenge". The compatibilist perspective captures (...)
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  25. Saul Smilansky (2008). More Prepunishment for Compatibilists: A Reply to Beebee. Analysis 68 (299):260–263.
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  26. Saul Smilansky (2008). Prepunishment for Compatibilists: A Reply to Kearns. Analysis 68 (299):254–257.
    I have argued recently that compatibilism cannot resist in a principled way the temptation to prepunish people, and that it thus emerges as a much more radical view than is typically presented and perceived; and is at odds with fundamental moral intuitions (Smilansky 2007a). Stephen Kearns (2008) has replied, arguing that ‘Smilansky has not shown that compatibilism cannot resist prepunishment. Prepunishment is so bizarre that it can be resisted by just about anybody’. I would like to examine his challenging arguments.
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  27. Saul Smilansky (2008). Review of Diana Abad, Keeping Balance: On Desert and Propriety. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (3).
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  28. Saul Smilansky (2007). Determinism and Prepunishment: The Radical Nature of Compatibilism. Analysis 67 (296):347–349.
    I shall argue that compatibilism cannot resist in a principled way the temptation to prepunish people. Compatibilism thus emerges as a much more radical view than it is typically presented and perceived, and is seen to be at odds with fundamental moral intuitions.
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  29. Saul Smilansky (2007). 10 Moral Paradoxes. Blackwell Pub..
    Presenting ten diverse and original moral paradoxes, this cutting edge work of philosophical ethics makes a focused, concrete case for the centrality of paradoxes within morality. Explores what these paradoxes can teach us about morality and the human condition Considers a broad range of subjects, from familiar topics to rarely posed questions Makes a concrete case for the centrality of paradox within morality Asks whether the existence of moral paradox is a good or a bad thing Presents analytic moral philosophy (...)
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  30. Saul Smilansky (2007). Moral Paradoxes. Blackwell Pub..
    Presenting ten diverse and original moral paradoxes, this cutting edge work of philosophical ethics makes a focused, concrete case for the centrality of paradoxes within morality. Explores what these paradoxes can teach us about morality and the human condition Considers a broad range of subjects, from familiar topics to rarely posed questions Makes a concrete case for the centrality of paradox within morality Asks whether the existence of moral paradox is a good or a bad thing Presents analytic moral philosophy (...)
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  31. Saul Smilansky (2007). The Paradox of Beneficial Retirement: A Reply to Lenman. Ratio 20 (3):348–351.
    In ‘The Paradox of Beneficial Retirement’ (Ratio 18 2005: 332– 337), I proposed a personal and moral paradox about integrity and retirement. This paradox raises the disturbing prospect that many people (perhaps even the majority, in many professions) ought to seriously consider retiring, because they are likely to be replaced by someone who will do their work better than they do it. In ‘Why I Have No Plans to Retire: In Defence of Moderate Professional Complacency’ (Ratio, 20 2007: 241–246), James (...)
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  32. Saul Smilansky (2006). Control, Desert and the Difference Between Distributive and Retributive Justice. Philosophical Studies 131 (3):511 - 524.
    Why is it that we think today so very differently about distributive and retributive justice? Why is the notion of desert so neglected in our thinking about distributive justice, while it remains fundamental in almost every account of retributive justice? I wish to take up this relatively neglected issue, and put forth two proposals of my own, based upon the way control functions in the two spheres.
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  33. Saul Smilansky (2006). Review of Alfred R. Mele, Free Will and Luck. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (11).
  34. Saul Smilansky (2006). Some Thoughts on Terrorism, Moral Complaint, and the Self-Reflexive and Relational Nature of Morality. Philosophia 34 (1):65-74.
    The contemporary discussion of terrorism has been dominated by deontological and consequentialist arguments. Building upon my previous work on a paradox concerning moral complaint, I try to broaden the perspectives through which we view the issues. The direction that seems to me as most promising is a self-reflexive, conditional, and, to some extent, relational emphasis. What one is permitted to do to others would depend not so much on some absolute code constraning actions or on the estimate of what would (...)
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  35. Saul Smilansky (2006). The Paradox of Moral Complaint. Utilitas 18 (3):284-290.
    When may someone complain, morally? And what, if any, is the relationship between legitimate moral complaint and one's own behaviour? I point out a perplexity about a certain class of moral complaints. Two very different conceptions of moral complaint seem to be operating, and they often have contrary implications. Moreover, both seem intuitively compelling. This is theoretically and practically troubling, but has not been sufficiently noticed. The Paradox of Moral Complaint seems to point to an inherent difficulty in our reflective (...)
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  36. Saul Smilansky (2005). Choice-Egalitarianism and the Paradox of the Baseline: A Reply to Manor. Analysis 65 (288):333–337.
    I made two claims against CE. First, that under careful analysis, CE compels us to bring about states of affairs so unacceptable that the position becomes absurd. By virtue of its very conceptual structure, CE gives us manifestly wrong instructions. Second, that CE’s hope of reconciling a strong egalitarianism with robust personal choice and something like the prevailing market economy is a chimera. Manor’s paper does not dispute my second claim. Indeed, his own claim, that in fact CE leads to (...)
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  37. Saul Smilansky (2005). Free Will and Respect for Persons. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):248-261.
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  38. Saul Smilansky (2005). On Not Being Sorry About The Morally Bad. Philosophy 80 (02):261 - 265.
    Bad things often happen, and morally good people ought to be sorry that they happen. People are sometimes morally permitted not to do anything about such bad things, not to have to struggle to prevent them from occurring (otherwise the demands of morality would be excessive). But what could be more obvious to a good person than that one ought to be sorry about the occurrence of bad things? Even more so, it would seem, if the bad things occur in (...)
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  39. Saul Smilansky (2005). The Paradox of Beneficial Retirement. Ratio 18 (3):332–337.
    Morally, when should one retire from one’s job? The surprising answer may be ‘now’. It is commonly assumed that for a person who has acquired professional training at some personal effort, is employed in a task that society considers useful, and is working hard at it, no moral problem arises about whether that person should continue working. I argue that this may be a mistake: within many professions and pursuits, each one among the majority of those positive, productive, hard working (...)
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  40. Saul Smilansky (2005). The Paradoxical Relationship Between Morality and Moral Worth. Metaphilosophy 36 (4):490-500.
    If the social environment were arranged so that most people in the West could, with relatively little effort, be morally good to a reasonable degree, would this be a good thing? I claim that it is not entirely obvious that we should say yes. This is no idle question: mainstream Western social morality today seems to be approaching the prospect for a morality that is not taxing. This question has substantial theoretical interest because exploring it will help us understand the (...)
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  41. Saul Smilansky (2004). Gratitude, Contribution, and Ethical Theory. In Jonathan Seglow (ed.), The Ethics of Altruism. F. Cass Publishers. 34-48.
    I attempt to sketch in general terms an alternative moral perspective that goes beyond the traditional normative theories, a moral perspective called ?contributivism?. This focuses on contribution: caring about one's contribution, I claim, lies at the centre of moral cncern. First I illustrate the need for a contribution-focussed moral theory, primarily by considering gratitude, the typical required response to altruism. Second, I point out some of the motivational resources of such a contribution-based view. I conclude by showing how focusing on (...)
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  42. Saul Smilansky (2004). Reply to Lippert-Rasmussen On the Paradox of the Baseline. SATS 5 (1).
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  43. Saul Smilansky (2004). Terrorism, Justification, and Illusion. Ethics 114 (4):790-805.
    Bernard Williams once said that doing moral philosophy could be hazardous because there, presumably unlike in other areas of philosophy, we may run the risk of misleading people on important matters.1 This risk seems to be particularly present when considering the topic of terrorism. I would like to discuss what seems to be a most striking feature of contemporary terrorism, a feature that, as far as I know, has not been noted. This has implications concerning the way that we should (...)
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  44. Sau Smilansky (2003). Choice-Egalitarianism and the Paradox of the Baseline. Analysis 63 (278):146–151.
    Choice-egalitarianism (CE) is, broadly, a version of egalitarianism that gives free choice a pivotal role in justifying any inequality. The basic idea is this: we can morally evaluate equality and inequality in many respects, which we can call factors. Factors might be income, primary goods, wellbeing, how well someone’s life proceeds, and so on. But whatever the relevant factor may be, the baseline for egalitarianism is equality: we start, normatively, by assuming that everyone should receive the baseline, unless not receiving (...)
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  45. Saul Smilansky (2003). Can Deontologists Be Moderate? Utilitas 15 (01):71-.
    There is a widespread view according to which deontology can be construed as a flexible, reasonable view, able to incorporate consequentialist considerations when it seems compelling to do so. According to this view, deontologists can be moderate, and their presentation as die-hard fanatics, even if true to some historical figures, is basically a slanderous and misleading philosophical straw man. I argue that deontologists, properly understood, are not moderate. In the way deontology is typically understood, a deontology, as such, conceptually needs (...)
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  46. Saul Smilansky (2003). Compatibilism: The Argument From Shallowness. Philosophical Studies 115 (3):257-82.
    The compatibility question lies at the center of the free will problem. Compatibilists think that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility and the concomitant notions, while incompatibilists think that it is not. The topic of this paper is a particular form of charge against compatibilism: that it is shallow. This is not the typical sort of argument against compatibilism: most of the debate has attempted to discredit compatibilism completely. The Argument From Shallowness maintains that the compatibilists do have a case. (...)
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  47. Saul Smilansky (2003). Free Will and the Mystery of Modesty. American Philosophical Quarterly 40 (2):105-118.
  48. Saul Smilansky (2003). Free Will, Egalitarianism and Rawls. Philosophia 31 (1-2):127-138.
  49. Saul Smilansky (2003). Is Justice Binary?: A Free-Will-Related Exploration. Metaphilosophy 34 (4):476-487.
    This article asks whether justice is binary, whether matters are either-or with respect to it. This question has been inexplicably neglected, and the elementary conceptual work has not been done. We consider this question through exploring the implications of free-will-related justice. We see that there are actually two questions of very different scope here, and that two distinct notions of binarity need to be distinguished. In the process, the plausibility of considering justice as a binary notion is evaluated.
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  50. Saul Smilansky (2003). Reactive-Contributions and Their Significance. Public Affairs Quarterly 17 (4):349-357.
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