Ordinarily, we take moral responsibility to come in degrees. Despite this commonplace, theories of moral responsibility have focused on the minimum threshold conditions under which agents are morally responsible. But this cannot account for our practices of holding agents to be more or less responsible. In this paper we remedy this omission. More specifically, we extend an account of reasons-responsiveness due to John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza according to which an agent is morally responsible only if she is appropriately (...) receptive to and reactive to reasons for action. Building on this, we claim that the degree to which an agent is responsible will depend on the degree to which she is able to recognize and react to reasons. To analyze this, we appeal to relations of comparative similarity between possible worlds, arguing that the degree to which an agent is reasons-reactive depends on the nearest possible world in which given sufficient reason to do otherwise, she does so. Similarly, we argue that the degree to which an agent is reasons-receptive will depend on the intelligibility of her patterned recognition of reasons. By extending an account of reasons-responsiveness in these ways, we are able to rationalize our practice of judging people to be more or less responsible. (shrink)
The traditional accounts of pain’s intrinsic badness assume a false view of what pains are. Insofar as they are normatively significant, pains are not just painful sensations. A pain is a composite of a painful sensation and a set of beliefs, desires, emotions, and other mental states. A pain’s intrinsic properties can include inter alia depression, anxiety, fear, desires, feelings of helplessness, and the pain’s meaning. This undermines the traditional accounts of pain’s intrinsic badness. Pain is intrinsically bad in two (...) distinct and historically unnoticed ways. First, most writers hold that pain’s intrinsic badness lies either in its unpleasantness or in its being disliked. Given my wider conception of pain, I believe it is both. Pain’s first intrinsic evil lies in a conjunction of all the traditional candidates for its source. Pain’s second intrinsic evil lies in the way it necessarily undermines the self-control necessary for intrinsic goods like autonomy. (shrink)
In the space of possible worlds, there might be a best possible world (a uniquely best world or a world tied for best with some other worlds). Or, instead, for every possible world, there might be a better possible world. Suppose that the latter is true, i.e., that there is no best world. Many have thought that there is then an argument against the existence of God, i.e., the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect being; we will call (...) such arguments no-best-world arguments. In this paper, we discuss ability-based objections to such arguments; an ability-based objection to a no-best world argument claims that the argument fails because one or more of its premises conflict with a plausible principle connecting the applicability of some type of moral evaluation to the agent’s possession of a relevant ability. In particular, we formulate and evaluate an important new ability-based objection to the most promising no-best world argument. (shrink)
Most modern writers accept that a privation theory of evil should explicitly account for the evil of pain. But pains are quintessentially real. The evil of pain does not seem to lie in an absence of good. Though many directly take on the challenges this raises, the metaphysics and axiology of their answers is often obscure. In this paper I try to straighten things out. By clarifying and categorizing the possible types of privation views, I explore the ways in which (...) privationists about evil are—or should or could be—privationists about pain’s evil. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued that the paucity of evidence for theism — along with basic assumptions about God's nature — is ipso facto evidence for atheism. The resulting argument has come to be known as the argument from divine hiddenness. Theists have challenged both the major and minor premises of the argument by offering defences. However, all of the major, contemporary defences are failures. What unites these failures is instructive: each is implausible given other commitments shared by everyone in the (...) debate or by theists in particular. Only challenges which are plausible given both common sense and other theistic commitments will undermine the argument from divine hiddenness. Given that such defences universally fail, the best hope for a successful challenge to the argument comes from more general sceptical responses. This sort of response is briefly sketched and defended against four independent objections. (shrink)
A term rewrite system is called simply terminating if its termination can be shown by means of a simplification ordering. According to a result of Weiermann, the derivation length function of any simply terminating finite rewrite system is eventually dominated by a Hardy function of ordinal less than the small Veblen ordinal. This bound had appeared to be of rather theoretical nature, because all known examples had had multiple recursive complexities, until recently Touzet constructed simply (and even totally) terminating examples (...) with complexities beyond multiple recursion. This was established by simulating the Hydra battle for all ordinal segments below the proof-theoretic ordinal of Peano arithmetic. By extending this result to the small Veblen ordinal we prove the huge bound of Weiermann to be sharp. As a spin-off we can show that total termination allows for complexities as high as those of simple termination. (shrink)
(1991). Evolutionary Systems and Society, Vilmos Csányi, Professor of Ethology and Behavior Genetics, Lorand Eotvos University, Budapest, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989. 304 pp. $49.50 (cloth). World Futures: Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 191-206.
“Am I my brother's keeper?” has resonated through the centuries as the rhetorical question of a belligerent murderer. Yet it uses a verb whose appearance, disappearance, and appearance again in the greater narrative of chapters 2–4 suggests that it may be a genuine question with surprisingly far-reaching implications. By answering the question, readers are implicated in a complicated responsibility, for and with the Other, that mediates the very presence of God.
The dignity of human life.--Progress in religious thought.--Evolutin and life values.--Functions of intelligence.--Objective uncertainty and human faith.--Supernaturalism, source of moral power.--The transforming power of other worldliness.
This study presents and develops test methods for assessing sensitivity to conflict of interest (COIsen). We are aware of no study assessing COIsen, but note that some popular methods for assessing ethical sensitivity and related constructs (which include COIsen) are flawed in that their presentation of stimulus material to subjects actually guides subjects to attend to ethical (or related) issues. The method tested here was designed to avoid this flaw. Using adaptations of two existing cases, a quota sample of 12 (...) students was interviewed. Our method used funnel-sequenced, open-ended interviews that were audiotaped and transcribed, then subjected to a form of cognitive mapping. These maps revealed the presence of “indicators” of COIsen. We found that COIsen can be measured and that the global COIsen score generated by our method is able to reveal much variation across subjects, making it a worthwhile candidate for further consideration. (shrink)
. This descriptive study discusses cognitive mapping as a technique for analyzing ethical sensitivity, examines whether the method allows comparisons between people, compares the ethical sensitivity levels of participants from three organizations, examines which indicators of ethical sensitivity are most salient to members of specific organizations, and examines whether education level or organizational membership is the best predictor of an individual’s ethical sensitivity level. Subjects from three organizations read background information, listened to two audiotaped scenarios containing multiple ethical issues related (...) to organizational communication, responded to focused interview questions, and completed questionnaires. The interviews were taped, transcribed, and analyzed using cognitive mapping techniques. Significant differences in levels of ethical sensitivity were found between the members of the three organizations. However, a hierarchical regression model demonstrated that the difference was likely due to the differences in level of education in each organization. Organizational membership seemed to affect the particular aspects of the scenarios that participants noticed. (shrink)