This paper is a short review of T.M. Scanlon's book What We Owe to Each Other. The book itself is already a philosophical classic. It defence a contractualist ethical theory but also has many interesting things to say about reasons, value, well-being, promises, relativism, and so on.
Scanlon’s book aims to offer us a moral theory of right and wrong and of our obligations to one another. The theory is called contractualism and its central claim is that an act is right or wrong if and only if it could or could not be justified to others on grounds that they could not reasonably reject (p. 4). Scanlon recognizes that so stated, his contractualism might seem empty in the sense that one might think that the (...) aim of offering grounds that others could not reasonably reject is an aim to which all plausible moral theories would aspire (p. 4). For example, as Scanlon himself acknowledges, utilitarians, who hold the view that an act is right only if it would produce the greatest happiness, presumably would believe that their view is one that no reasonable person could possibly reject (p. 189). However, Scanlon believes that his contractualism is in fact substantive. According to Scanlon, his contractualism holds the process of justifying to others to be ‘basic’ (p. 5). In other words, Scanlon believes that simply by thinking about what could be justified to others on grounds that they could not reasonably reject, we can ‘determine the shape of more specific moral notions such as murder or betrayal (p. 5).’ As Scanlon explains, even though utilitarians may also accept that an act is right if and only if it can be justified to others, what makes an action right for utilitarians is that the action has the best consequences; ‘justifiability is merely a consequence of this’ (p. 189); whereas for Scanlon’s contractualism, justifiability is what makes an action right or wrong. The aim of Scanlon’s book is to elaborate and explicate this account of contractualism. (shrink)
What kind of equality should we value and why? Current debate centres around whether distributive equality is valuable. However, it is not the only (potentially) morally significant form of equality. David Miller and T. M. Scanlon have emphasised the importance of social equality—a strongly egalitarian notion distinct from distributive equality, and which cannot be reduced to a concern for overall welfare or the welfare of the worst-off. However, as debate tends to focus on distribution, social equality has been neglected (...) and we do not have a clear understanding of what it is and why it might be valuable. This paper aims to address this gap. (shrink)
T.M. Scanlon has recently proposed what I term a ‘double attitude’ account of blame, wherein blame is the revision of one’s attitudes in light of another person’s conduct, conduct that we believe reveals that the individual lacks the normative attitudes we judge essential to our relationship with her. Scanlon proposes that this account justifies differences in blame that in turn reflect differences in outcome luck. Here I argue that although the double attitude account can justify blame’s being sensitive (...) to outcome luck, it cannot justify allocating blame differently when agents with the same attitudes differ only with respect to the luck-based outcomes of their actions. However, Scanlon’s own contractualist theory of morality can be invoked to show that the double attitude account is compatible with blame-based sanctions (e.g., compensation mandated when negligence or reckless result in harm) being sensitive to outcome luck. The resultant view of blame and luck remains desert-based while making sense of the common intuition that differences in outcome luck can matter to how lucky and unlucky individuals are justifiably treated. (shrink)
In 1982, when T. M. Scanlon published “Contractualism and Utilitarianism,” he noted that, despite the widespread attention to Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, the appeal of contractualism as a moral theory had been under appreciated. In particular, the appeal of contractualism’s account of what he then called “moral motivation” had been under appreciated.1 It seems to me that, in the intervening quarter century, despite the widespread discussion of Scanlon’s work, the appeal of contractualism, in precisely this regard, has (...) still been under appreciated—even though Scanlon makes what he once called “moral motivation” central, throughout his work. My first aim, then, is to do my best to draw out and make vivid this appeal. I will do this by first considering the two questions that Scanlon thinks must be addressed by any moral theory, what he once called “the question of subject matter” and “the question of motivation.” I will spend some time first locating and explicating the second question, of motivation, and then displaying Scanlon’s answer to it—it is this answer which provides contractualism with its under-appreciated appeal. I will then return to the question of subject matter—which will, by that point, have been revealed as not wholly distinct from the question of motivation, as Scanlon understands it. But it is as an answer to this question that Scanlon’s theory is most often.. (shrink)
In "What We Owe to Each Other", T. M. <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span> argues that one should save the greater number when faced with the choice between saving one life and two or more different lives. It is, <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span> claims, a virtue of this argument (which is traceable to Frances Kamm) that it does not appeal to the claims of groups of individuals but only to the claims of individuals. I demonstrate that this argument for saving the greater number, (...) indeed, depends, contrary to what <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span> says, upon an appeal to the claim of a group of individuals to be saved. (shrink)
In this paper I seek to identify different sorts of freedom putatively linked to moral responsibility; I then explore the relationship between such notions of freedom and the Consequence Argument, on the one hand, and the Frankfurt-examples, on the other. I focus (in part) on a dilemma: if a compatibilist adopts a broadly speaking "conditional" understanding of freedom in reply to the Consequence Argument, such a theorist becomes vulnerable in a salient way to the Frankfurt-examples.
This paper challenges a pervasive, if not always explicit assumption of the present state of theorising in business ethics. This is the idea that a workable theory of organizational ethics must provide a unified perspective on its subject matter. In this paper we will sketch the broad outlines of an alternative understanding of business ethics, which focuses on constraints on corporate conduct that cannot reasonably be rejected. These constraints stem from at least three different levels or spheres of social reality, (...) i.e. the preconditions of a well-ordered society, the internal morality of economic activity and the preconditions of autonomous agency. (shrink)
[T. M. Scanlon] It is clearly impermissible to kill one person (or refrain from giving him treatment that he needs in order to survive) because his organs can be used to save five others who are in need of transplants. It has seemed to many that the explanation for this lies in the fact that in such cases we would be intending the death of the person whom we killed, or failed to save. What makes these actions impermissible, however, (...) is not the agent's intention but rather the fact that the benefit envisaged does not justify an exception to the prohibition against killing or the requirement to give aid. The difference between this explanation and one appealing to intention is easily overlooked if one fails to distinguish between the prospective use of a moral principle to guide action and its retrospective use to appraise the way an agent governed him or herself. Even if this explanation is accepted, however, it remains an open question whether and how an agent's intention may be relevant to the permissibility of actions in other cases. \\\ [Jonathan Dancy] My first four sections concentrate on the second section of Professor Scanlon's contribution (hereafter IP), where he lays out his conception of moral principles and of the role they play in theory and practice. I will raise questions on the following issues: 1. Scanlon's initial introduction of the notion of a principle. 2. His rejection of the standard view that principles are concerned with the forbidding, permitting and requiring of actions. 3. His rejection of pro tanto conceptions of principles in favour of a conception of them as conclusive. 4. The resulting account of what it is for a principle to face and survive exceptions. Scanlon's discussion of these matters here both appeals to and is in some respects more detailed than the relevant section of his recent What We Owe to Each Other (hereafter WWO). The topic is interesting both for the role played by principles in Scanlon's present discussion of intention and permissibility, and more generally because of his account of wrongness: an act is wrong iff it is ruled out by principles that nobody could reasonably reject. The remainder of my contribution is concerned with the ostensible focus of IP, namely the relevance (if any) of agent-intentions to the permissibility of what is done. (shrink)
In this new book Moral Dimensions, T. M. Scanlon (2008) explores the ethical significance of the intentions and motives with which people act. According to Scanlon, these intentions and motives do not have any direct bearing on the permissibility of the act. Thus, Scanlon claims that the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) is mistaken. However, the way in which someone is motivated to act has a direct bearing on what Scanlon calls the act's "meaning". One (...) particularly important kind of "meaning" that an act can have consists in the ways in which it is appropriate for various people to blame the agent for the act. So the book ends with an extended analysis of blame and blameworthiness. (shrink)
In his book Moral Dimensions. Permissibility, Meaning, Blame , T.M. Scanlon proposes a new account of permissibility, and argues, against the doctrine of double effect (DDE), that intentions do not matter for permissibility. I argue that Scanlon's account of permissibility as based on what the agent should have known at the time of action does not sufficiently take into account Scanlon's own emphasis on permissibility as a question for the deliberating agent. A proper account of permissibility, based (...) on the agent's actual beliefs, will allow us to revise the principle Scanlon proposes for regulating the use of violence in war, and to show that, while the DDE as such might be invalid, its focus on intentions does point toward an important element which Scanlon's proposal lacks, viz. the requirement that the agent believes that her actions will have certain consequences and can be justified for that reason. (shrink)
According to the Principle of Double Effect (PDE), there are conditions under which it would be morally justifiable to cause some harm as a foreseen side-effect of one's action even though it would not be justifiable to form and execute the intention of causing the same harm. If we take the kind of justification in question to be that of moral permissibility, this principle correctly maps common intuitions about when it would be permissible to act in certain ways. T.M. (...) class='Hi'>Scanlon argues that the PDE so interpreted is problematic, as it returns implausible verdicts in other scenarios. Scanlon is unable to account for the common pattern of moral reasoning that we employ in the relevant cases. I argue that we can account for this pattern while avoiding implausible verdicts if we interpret the PDE as a principle about when it is licit to inflict harm rather than when it is permissible to do so, and if we connect the concept of the licit with that of the permissible in the right way. (shrink)
Taylor, R. A tribute.--Epistemology: Cornman, J. W. Chisholm on sensing and perceiving. Ross, J. F. Testimonial evidence. Lehrer, K. Reason and consistency. Keim, R. Epistemic values and epistemic viewpoints. Hanen, M. Confirmation, explanation, and acceptance. Canfield, J. V. "I know that I am in pain" is senseless. Steel, T. J. Knowledge and the self-presenting.--Metaphysics: Cartwright, R. Scattered objects. Duggan, T. J. Hume on causation. Arnaud, R. B. Brentanist relations. Johnson, M. L., Jr. Events as recurrables.--Ethics: Stevenson, J. T. On doxastic (...) responsibility. Feldman, F. World utilitarianism. Lamb, J. W. Some definitions for the theory of rules. Donnelly, J. Suicide: some epistemological considerations. (shrink)
T. M. Scanlon's magisterial book What We Owe to Each Other is surely one of the most sophisticated and important works of moral philosophy to have appeared for many years. It raises fundamental questions about all the main aspects of the subject, and I hope and expect that it will have a decisive influence on the shape and direction of moral philosophy in the years to come. In this essay I shall focus on four sets of issues raised by (...)Scanlon's systematic argument, with the aim of clarifying some of Scanlon's central assumptions and presenting alternatives at several key points. The perspective from which I offer these comments is that of a reader who is sympathetic to Scanlon's general approach but not yet convinced on various points of detail. (shrink)
In recent work, T.M. Scanlon has unsuccessfully challenged the doctrine of double effect (DDE). First, comparing actions reflecting faulty moral deliberations and involving merely foreseen harm with actions reflecting less faulty moral deliberations involving intended harm suggests that proponents of DDE do not confuse the critical and the deliberative uses of moral principles. Second, Scanlon submits that it is odd to say to a deliberating agent that the permissibility of the actions she ponders depends on the intention with (...) which she will act. I argue that this can be explained without appeal to the claim that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility. (shrink)
I offer a reading of the first clause of T. M. Scanlon's principle of fidelity to assurances. A circularity problem is created by his way of differentiating promises from other assurances which comply with this principle. When the clause is read in the way here proposed, all assurances complying with the principle are promises, and so this problem no longer arises.
A notable achievement of T.M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other is its sustained critique of welfarist consequentialism. Consequentialism is the doctrine that one morally ought always to do an act, of the alternatives, that brings about a state of affairs that is no less good than any other one could bring about. Welfarism is the view that what makes a state of affairs better or worse is some increasing function of the welfare for persons realized in it. (...) I shall argue that Scanlon’s critique, though containing much of interest, fails on its own terms. (shrink)
(Forthcoming in Social Theory and Practice, 2002) Richard J. Arneson A notable achievement of T.M. <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span>'s What We Owe to Each Other1 is its sustained critique of welfarist consequentialism.2 Consequentialism is the doctrine that one morally ought always to do an act, of the alternatives, that brings about a state of affairs that is no less good than any other one could bring about. Welfarism is the view that what makes a state of affairs better or worse is (...) some increasing function of the welfare for persons realized in it. I shall argue that <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span>’s critique, though containing much of interest, fails on its own terms. (shrink)
Edited by Marthe Chandler and Ronnie Littlejohn, this work is a collection of expository and critical essays on the work of Henry Rosemont, Jr., a prominent and influential contemporary philosopher, activist, translator, and educator in the field of Asian and Comparative Philosophy. The essays in this collection take up three major themes in Rosemont's work: his work in Chinese linguistics, his contribution to the theory of human rights, and his interest in East Asian religion. Contributions include works by the leading (...) scholars in Chinese philosophy in the Western world and Rosemont's close associates: Roger T. Ames, Bao Zhiming, Mary Bockover, Marthe Chandler, Ewing Y. Chinn, Erin M. Cline, Fred Dallmayr, Jeffrey Dippmann, Herbert Fingarette, Harrison Huang, Eric Hutton, Philip J. Ivanhoe, David Jones, William La Fleur, Ronnie Littlejohn, Ni Peimin, Michael Nylan, Harold Roth, Sumner Twiss, Tu Weiming, David Wong, with responses from Henry Rosemont, Jr. and a brief Reminiscence by Noam Chomsky. (shrink)
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 (...) core notion of “inviting someone to trust one to do something”, suggesting that it involves signaling to the other individual one's recognition of the importance the relevant action has for her, and one’s willingness to license her to have faith or optimism in one's character with regard to the performance of that action. We then turn to a defense of the Trust View, arguing that it has considerable appeal in its own right, that it is distinct from and superior to three similar accounts (T.M. Scanlon's Assurance View, Judith Jarvis Thomson's Reliance View and David Owens' Authority View), and that several objections to it can be answered. (shrink)
Two generally recognized moral duties are to reciprocate benefits one has received from others and to compensate harms one has done to others. In this paper I want to show that it is not possible to give an adequate account of either duty – or at least one that corresponds to our actual practices – within a contractualist moral theory of the type developed by T. M. Scanlon (1982, 1998). This fact is interesting in its own right, as contractualism (...) is a leading contemporary contender among deontological moral theories, and the two duties I have mentioned are fairly standard ingredients of such theories. But it also serves to highlight a general problem with contractualism, at least in Scanlon’s version – namely its one-dimensional view of the keystone of any plausible deontological theory: the idea of respect for persons. (shrink)
Philosophers writing on moral responsibility inherit from P.F. Strawson a particular problem space. On one side, it is shaped by consequentialist accounts of moral criticism on which blame is justified, if at all, by its efficacy in influencing future behavior in socially desirable ways. It is by now a common criticism of such views that they suffer a "wrong kind of reason" problem. When blame is warranted in the proper way, it is natural to suppose this is because the target (...) deserves blame – thus opposing to consequentialist views of blame desert-based views. The latter, however, raise worries that blame is a form of retributive sanction whose justificatory burdens cannot be met. I evaluate T.M. Scanlon's recent attempt to maneuver this space. In doing so, I argue that although Scanlon’s relationship-impairment model of blame has clear advantages over consequentialist and desert-based alternatives, it fails: (1) to adequately appreciate the significance of person-focused emotional attitudes in constituting persons as agents subject to a nexus of normative expectations and demands, and (2) to recognize that a victim may owe nearly nothing *to* a blameworthy agent while nonetheless retaining unconditional moral obligations to act in certain ways (and forego acting in other ways) toward him. (shrink)
T.M. Scanlon (1998) proposes that promise breaking is wrong because it shows manipulative disregard for the expectations for future behavior created by promising. I argue that this account of promissory obligation is mistaken in it own right, as well as being at odds with Scanlon's contractualism. I begin by placing Scanlon's account of promising within a tradition that treats the creation of expectations in promise recipients as central to promissory obligation. However, a counterexample to Scanlon's account, (...) his case of the "Profligate Pal," will show that this view of promissory obligation, which I call the Expectations View, is incorrect. In its place, I propose an account of promissory obligation I call Promising as Accountability, according to which promising is a way of making oneself accountable to others for a future act. Not only is Promising as Accountability a more defensible approach to promissory obligation, it also better fits with certain general features of Scanlon's contractualism. (shrink)
The classical ethical questions of whether and to what extent moral criticism is a sort of rational criticism have received renewed interest in recent years. According to the approach that I refer to as rationalist, accounts of moral responsibility are grounded by explanations of the conditions under which an agent is rationally answerable for her actions and attitudes. In the sense that is relevant here, to answer for an attitude or action is to give reasons that at least purport to (...) justify it. To hold someone answerable for an attitude or action is thus to hold her rationally liable for it. T. M. Scanlon’s view is perhaps the most well-known example of this approach. The rationalist approach has recently been attacked by David Shoemaker for being too narrow: the charge is that attitudes exist for which an agent is responsible even though she cannot, in the relevant sense, answer for them. If there are morally significant attitudes that are attributable to an agent even though she cannot answer for them, then it would seem incomplete, misguided, or worse to treat morality as fundamentally a matter of demanding and giving reasons. By developing some remarks based on G. E. M. Anscombe’s _Intention_, I defend the rationalist approach against this critique. I show how an agent may be answerable for an attitude even though she cannot answer for it. The objective of this paper is thus twofold: to contribute to the discussion of the connection between rational liability and ethical responsibility, and to provide an example of the broad relevance of Anscombe’s thought to contemporary practical philosophy. (shrink)
This paper argues that egalitarian theories should be judged by the degree to which they meet four different challenges. Fundamentalist egalitarianism, which contends that certain inequalities are intrinsically bad or unjust regardless of their consequences, fails to meet these challenges. Building on discussions by T.M. Scanlon and David Miller, we argue that egalitarianism is better understood in terms of commitments to six egalitarian objectives. A consequence of our view, in contrast to Martin O'Neill's “non-intrinsic egalitarianism,“ is that egalitarianism is (...) better understood as a family of views than as a single ethical position. (shrink)
In What We Owe to Each Other, T.M. Scanlon says that any acceptable moral teory must answer what he calls the priority question: the question of why moral value should takes priority over other values, such as the values of love and friendship. In this essay I discuss Scanlon's answer to the priority question and contrast it with the answer offered by Christine Korsgaard in Sources of Normativity. I argue that each account contains important insights but that neither (...) is completely satisfactory. However, by combining elements of the two accounts we can arrive at a richer understanding of the relationship between morality and other values, and a better explanation of the priority of the moral. (shrink)
This essay provides a critical notice of T.M. Scanlon's book _What We Owe to Each Other. Special attention is given to assessing the success of Scanlon's theory of practical rationality as it provides a basis for his account of value and his contractualist moral theory.
This essay provides a critical notice of T.M. Scanlon's book _What We Owe to Each Other. Special attention is given to assessing the success of Scanlon's theory of practical rationality as it provides a basis for his account of value and his contractualist moral theory.
Many normative claims are substantive claims about reasons— claims, for example, about the reasons that a person in certain circumstances has to do or to believe something. But not all normative claims are substantive claims about reasons. In particular, some claims about what it would be irrational for someone to do are normative claims but not claims about the reasons that person has. Here are some examples. (I will state these in terms of “reasons for belief” and “reasons for intending,” (...) although I will later raise doubts about whether this is the best way of describing these cases.) If a person believes that p, then it would be irrational for him to refuse to rely on p as a premise in further reasoning, and to reject arguments because they rely on it. To say this is not to say that the person has good reason to accept these arguments. Perhaps what he has most reason to do is to give up his belief that p. The claim is only that as long as he believes that p, it is irrational of him to refuse to accept such arguments. Similar claims hold in regard to practical reasoning: if a person intends to do A at t, and believes that in order to do this she must first do B, then it is irrational for her not to count this as a reason for doing B. This is not to say that she has any reason to do B. Perhaps what she has most reason to do is to abandon her intention to do A, or to change her mind about.. (shrink)
Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch on (...) consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
This essay explains for a general philosophical audience the central issues and strategies in the contemporary moral realism debate. It critically surveys the contribution of some recent scholarship, representing expressivist and pragmatist nondescriptivism (Mark Timmons, Hilary Putnam), subjectivist and nonsubjectivist naturalism (Michael Smith, Paul Bloomfield, Philippa Foot), nonnaturalism (Russ Shafer-Landau, T. M. Scanlon) and error theory (Richard Joyce). Four different faces of ‘moral realism’ are distinguished: semantic, ontological, metaphysical, and normative. The debate is presented as taking shape under dialectical (...) pressure from the demands of (i) capturing the moral appearances and (ii) reconciling morality with our understanding of the mind and world. (Formerly “Explaining Moral Realism”. Updated 7-16-07). (shrink)
Fitting Attitudes accounts of value analogize or equate being good with being desirable, on the premise that ‘desirable’ means not, ‘able to be desired’, as Mill has been accused of mistakenly assuming, but ‘ought to be desired’, or something similar. The appeal of this idea is visible in the critical reaction to Mill, which generally goes along with his equation of ‘good’ with ‘desirable’ and only balks at the second step, and it crosses broad boundaries in terms of philosophers’ other (...) commitments. For example, Fitting Attitudes accounts play a central role both in T.M. Scanlon’s  case against teleology, and in Michael Smith , [unpublished] and Doug Portmore’s  cases for it. And of course they have a long and distinguished history. (shrink)
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 – objections concerning our duties to the cognitively limited and impaired, aggregation, demandingness, normativity and explanatory adequacy. I conclude by mentioning some contractualist alternatives to Scanlon's theory. (shrink)
Metaethics is a perennially popular subject, but one that can be challenging to study and teach. As it consists in an array of questions about ethics, it is really a mix of (at least) applied metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and mind. The seminal texts therefore arise out of, and often assume competence with, a variety of different literatures. It can be taught thematically, but this sample syllabus offers a dialectical approach, focused on metaphysical debate over moral realism, which spans (...) the century of debate launched and framed by G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica. The territory and literature are, however, vast. So, this syllabus is highly selective. A thorough metaethics course might also include more topical examination of moral supervenience, moral motivation, moral epistemology, and the rational authority of morality. Authors Recommend: Alexander Miller, An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003). This is one of the few clear, accessible, and comprehensive surveys of the subject, written by someone sympathetic with moral naturalism. David Brink, Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). Brink rehabilitates naturalism about moral facts by employing a causal semantics and natural kinds model of moral thought and discourse. Michael Smith, The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). Smith's book frames the debate as driven by a tension between the objectivity of morality and its practical role, offering a solution in terms of a response-dependent account of practical rationality. Gilbert Harman and Judith Jarvis Thomson, Moral Relativism & Moral Objectivity (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996). Harman argues against the objectivity of moral value, while Thomson defends it. Each then responds to the other. Frank Jackson, From Metaphysics to Ethics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998). Jackson argues that reductive conceptual analysis is possible in ethics, offering a unique naturalistic account of moral properties and facts. Mark Timmons, Morality without Foundations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). Timmons distinguishes moral cognitivism from moral realism, interpreting moral judgments as beliefs that have cognitive content but do not describe moral reality. He also provides a particularly illuminating discussion of nonanalytic naturalism. Philippa Foot, Natural Goodness (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001). A Neo-Aristotelian perspective: moral facts are natural facts about the proper functioning of human beings. Russ Shafer-Landau, Moral Realism: A Defence (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003). In this recent defense of a Moorean, nonnaturalist position, Shafer-Landau engages rival positions in a remarkably thorough manner. Terence Cuneo, The Normative Web (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007). Cuneo argues for a robust version of moral realism, developing a parity argument based on the similarities between epistemic and moral facts. Mark Schroeder, Slaves of the Passions (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007). Schroeder defends a reductive form of naturalism in the tradition of Hume, identifying moral and normative facts with natural facts about agents' desires. Online Materials: PEA Soup: http://peasoup.typepad.com A blog devoted to philosophy, ethics, and academia. Its contributors include many active and prominent metaethicists, who regularly post about the moral realism and naturalism debates. Metaethics Bibliography: http://www.lenmanethicsbibliography.group.shef.ac.uk/Bib.htm Maintained by James Lenman, professor of philosophy at the University of Sheffield, this online resource provides a selective list of published research in metaethics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu See especially the entries under 'metaethics'. Sample Syllabus: Topics for Lecture & Discussion Note: unless indicated otherwise, all the readings are found in R. Shafer-Landau and T. Cuneo, eds., Foundations of Ethics: An Anthology (Malden: Blackwell, 2007). (FE) Week 1: Realism I (Classic Nonnaturalism) G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, 2nd ed. (FE ch. 35). W. K. Frankena, 'The Naturalistic Fallacy,'Mind 48 (1939): 464–77. S. Finlay, 'Four Faces of Moral Realism', Philosophy Compass 2/6 (2007): 820–49 [DOI: [DOI link]]. Week 2: Antirealism I (Classic Expressivism) A. J. Ayer, 'Critique of Ethics and Theology' (1952) (FE ch. 3). C. Stevenson, 'The Nature of Ethical Disagreement' (1963) (FE ch. 28). Week 3: Antirealism II (Error Theory) J. L. Mackie, 'The Subjectivity of Values' (1977) (FE ch. 1). R. Joyce, Excerpt from The Myth of Morality (2001) (FE ch. 2). Week 4: Realism II (Nonanalytic Naturalism) R. Boyd, 'How to be a Moral Realist' (1988) (FE ch. 13). P. Railton, 'Moral Realism' (1986) (FE ch. 14). T. Horgan and M. Timmons, 'New Wave Moral Realism Meets Moral Twin Earth' (1991) (FE ch. 38). Week 5: Antirealism III (Contemporary Expressivism) A. Gibbard, 'The Reasons of a Living Being' (2002) (FE ch. 6). S. Blackburn, 'How To Be an Ethical Anti-Realist' (1993) (FE ch. 4). T. Horgan and M. Timmons, 'Nondescriptivist Cognitivism' (2000) (FE ch. 5). W. Sinnott-Armstrong, 'Expressivism and Embedding' (2000) (FE ch. 37). Week 6: Realism III (Sensibility Theory) J. McDowell, 'Values and Secondary Qualities' (1985) (FE ch. 11). D. Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism' (1991) (FE ch. 12). Week 7: Realism IV (Subjectivism) & Antirealism IV (Constructivism) R. Firth, 'Ethical Absolutism and the Ideal Observer' (1952) (FE ch. 9). G. Harman, 'Moral Relativism Defended' (1975) (FE ch. 7). C. Korsgaard, 'The Authority of Reflection' (1996) (FE ch. 8). Week 8: Realism V (Contemporary Nonnaturalism) R. Shafer-Landau, 'Ethics as Philosophy' (2006) (FE ch. 16). T. M. Scanlon, What We Owe to Each Other (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), ch. 1. T, Cuneo, 'Recent Faces of Moral Nonnaturalism', Philosophy Compass 2/6 (2007): 850–79 [DOI: [DOI link]]. (shrink)
The publicity of a moral conception is a central idea in Kantian and contractarian moral theory. Publicity carries the idea of general acceptability of principles through to social relations. Without publicity of its moral principles, the intuitive attractiveness of the contractarian ideal seems diminished. For it means that moral principles cannot serve as principles of practical reasoning and justification among free and equal persons. This article discusses the role of the publicity assumption in Rawlss and Scanlons contractualism. I contend (...) that a regard for publicity and a moral conceptions potential to provide a public basis for justification and agreement account for much of the evolution of Rawlss account of justice after A Theory of Justice . I also discuss whether contractualism can provide a basis for justification and general agreement under the social conditions that it endorses. I contend that it cannot, and conclude with a discussion showing why this should not be a problem for contractualism. Despite appearances, contractualism is a distinctive form of contractarianism, substantially different from Rawlss position and the social contract tradition out of which it evolved. Key Words: contractarianism contractualism John Rawls public justification T.M. Scanlon justice. (shrink)