It has been known for quite a while now that the on-going project of constructing an acceptable population axiology has gloomy prospects. Already in Derek Parfit’s seminal contribution to the topic, an informal paradox was presented and later contributions have proved similar results.1 All of these contributions invoke, however, some version of a principle – the Mere Addition Principle – which is controversial.2 In Arrhenius (1998), I presented a theorem which didn’t invoke this controversial principle but replaced it with (...) logically and intuitively weaker conditions. Still, however, one of the conditions in my theorem shares with these earlier results the presupposition that welfare can be measured on at least an interval scale.3 One can deny this and, as a matter of.. (shrink)
By distinguishing between contributory values and overall value, and by arguing that contributory values are variable values insofar as they contribute diminishing marginal overall value, this article helps to establish the superiority of a certain kind of maximizing, value-pluralist axiology over both sufficientarianism and prioritarianism, as well as over all varieties of value-monism, including utilitarianism and pure egalitarianism.
Doppelt (1986,1990), Siegel (1990), and Rosenberg (1996) argue that the pivotal feature of Laudan's normative naturalism, namely his axiology, lacks a naturalistic foundation. In this paper I show that this objection turns on a misunderstanding of Laudan's use of the term 'naturalism'. Specifically, I argue that there are two important senses of naturalism running through Laudan's work. Once these two strands are made explicit, the objection raised by Doppelt and others simply disappears.
Formal axiology is based on the logical nature of meaning, namely intension, and on the structure of intension as a set of predicates. It applies set theory to this set of predicates. Set theory is a certain kind of mathematics that deals with subsets in general, and of finite and infinite sets in particular. Since mathematics is objective and a priori, formal axiology is an objective and a priori science; and a test based on it is an objective (...) test based on an objective standard.1. (shrink)
This was my first paper on virtue epistemology, and already highlights the connections with epistemic value and axiology which I would later develop. Although most accounts were either internalist or externalist in an exclusive sense, I suggest an inquiry-focused version through connections with the American pragmatism.
Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels have argued that the “_ is better than _” relation need not be transitive. In support of this claim, they have presented several spectrum cases towards which our actual preferences appear not to be transitive. In this paper I examine one of them, and explain that there are several solutions we may give to the problem of what is the best global option within the spectrum. I point out that these solutions do not depend on (...) whether we reject or accept the transitivity of the “_ is better than _” relation. This reduces the strength of the challenge that spectrum cases pose to transitivity in axiology. (shrink)
Discussions of the problem of evil presuppose and appeal to axiological and metaethical assumptions, but seldom pay adequate attention to those assumptions. I argue that certain theories of value are consistent with theistic answers to the argument from evil and that several other well-known theories of value, such as hedonism, are difﬁcult, if not impossible, to reconcile with theism. Although moral realism is the subject of lively debate in contemporary philosophy, almost all standard discussions of the problem of evil presuppose (...) the truth of moral realism. I explain the implications of several nonrealist theories of value for the problem of evil and argue that, if nonrealism is true, then we need to rethink and re-frame the entire discussion about the problem of evil. (shrink)
Blaise Pascal is highly regarded as a religious moralist, but he has rarely been given his due as an ethical theorist. The goal of this article is to assemble Pascal's scattered thoughts on moral judgment and moral wrongdoing into an explicit, coherent account that can serve as the basis for further scholarly reflection on his ethics. On my reading, Pascal affirms an axiological, social-intuitionist account of moral judgment and moral wrongdoing. He argues that a moral judgment is an immediate, intuitive (...) perception of moral value that we willfully disregard in favor of the attractive, though self-deceptive, deliverances of our socially constructed imaginations. We can deceive ourselves so easily because our capacity to evaluate goods is broken, a dark legacy of the fall. In the article's concluding section, I briefly compare Pascal to contemporary ethicists and suggest directions for future research. (shrink)
Weiming) has assisted in defining the New Confucian movement, a philosophical discourse that depends on axiological themes and traits based on an exegesis and defense of the revival and reform of traditional Confucian discourse inherited from the Classical and Neo-Confucian waves in East Asia. Thomas A. Metzgerâs discussion of the profound difference between modern Western post-Enlightenment discourse and New Confucian discourse challenges many of Duâs primary assumptions. My conclusion is that Du is both a citizen of the modern Western academy (...) and a Confucian public intellectual dedicated to mediating the great debate that now spans the Pacific ocean between the West and a revived East Asian cultural complex, including New Confucianism as a major dialogue partner at the beginning of the new millennium by continuing the historic Confucian commitment to a theory of values. (shrink)
Cardiology is characterized by its state-of-the-art biomedical technology and the predominance of Evidence-Based Medicine. This predominance makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to deal with the ethical dilemmas that emerge in this subspecialty. This paper is a first endeavor to empirically investigate the axiological foundations of the healthcare professionals in a cardiology hospital. Our pilot study selected, as the target population, cardiology personnel not only because of their difficult ethical deliberations but also because of the stringent conditions in which they (...) have to make them. Therefore, there is an urgent need to reconsider clinical ethics and Value-Based Medicine. This study proposes a qualitative analysis of the values and the virtues of healthcare professionals in a cardiology hospital in order to establish how the former impact upon the medical and ethical decisions made by the latter. (shrink)
This paper clarifies the nature of moral experience, examines its evidential role in supporting moral judgments, and argues that moral experiences can be among the things having intrinsic value. Moral experience is compared with aesthetic experience and contrasted with its close relative, non-moral experience combined with moral beliefs. The concluding sections explore the case for the organicity of intrinsic value and the kind of role such value can play in grounding moral obligation.
It is the contention of this paper that some progress in alleviating the social and environmental problems which are beginning to face Papua New Guinea can be achieved by supporting traditional Melanesian values through maintaining the customary system of communal land tenure. In accordance with this aim, I will proceed to contrast certain Western attitudes towards individual freedom, selfinterested behaviour, individual and communal interests and private ownership with attitudes and values expressed in the traditional Melanesian approach. In order to demonstrate (...) the latter, I will briefly touch upon the phenomenon of wantokism and indicate how the Melanesian values associated with this concept find their locus in the system of customary communal ownership. Subsequently, I will describe how the emergence of a cash economy and the attachment to Western gadgetry and products have effected injury to the environment and undermined values which have previously maintained Melanesian social cohesion. While admitting that little can be done to eradicate the desire for cash and the products it can buy, I suggest that Melanesian communities and the environment itself would receive more protection if future development in Papua New Guinea embraced a system which incorporated certain of the traditional Melanesian values through the preservation of the communal form of land tenure. Ultimately, I suggest a way in which customary communal land tenure can be integrated into the established Anglo-Australian legal system. (shrink)
After experience had taught me that all the things which regularly occur in ordinary life are empty and futile, and I saw that all the things which were the cause or object of my fear had nothing of good or bad in themselves, except insofar as [my] mind was moved by them, I resolved at last to try to ﬁnd out whether there was anything which would be the true good, capable of communicating itself, and which alone would affect the (...) mind, all others being rejected—whether there was something which, once found and acquired, would continuously give me the greatest joy, to eternity. (TIE ,G ii.;C i.). (shrink)
This paper deals with Angus Kerr-Lawson's interpretation of George Santayana's philosophy of values. I claim that Kerr-Lawson reads Santayana correctly; however, as regards axiology, he reads Santayana literally and misses Santayana's engagement with it. Santayana's engagement with the philosophy of values is clearly seen when we use axiological terms and problematics in approaching his thought.
This thesis introduces and defends the Axiological Theory of Pleasure (ATP), according to which all pleasures are mental episodes which exemplify an hedonic value. According to the version of the ATP defended, hedonic goodness is not a primitive kind of value, but amounts to the final and personal value of mental episodes. Beside, it is argued that all mental episodes –and then all pleasures– are intentional. The definition of pleasures I arrived at is the following : -/- x is a (...) pleasure of a person P =df x is an intentional episode of P which is finally good for P. (shrink)
We articulate John Dewey’s “independent factors” approach to moral philosophy and then adapt and extend this approach to address contemporary debate concerning the nature and sources of epistemic normativity. We identify three factors (agent reliability, synchronic rationality, and diachronic rationality) as each making a permanent contribution to epistemic value. Critical of debates that stem from the reductionistic ambitions of epistemological systems that privilege of one or another of these three factors, we advocate an axiological pluralism that acknowledges each factor as (...) an independent “spring” of epistemic value within responsible inquiry. (shrink)
Theories of well-being tell us what makes a life good for the one who lives it. But there is more to what makes a life worth living than just well-being. We care about the worth of our lives, and we are right to do so. I defend an objective list theory of the worth of a life: The most worthwhile lives are those high in various objective goods. These principally include welfare and meaning. By distinguishing between worth and welfare, we (...) can capture the intuitive pull of broad theories of welfare without their liabilities. (shrink)
That all pleasure is good and all pain bad in itself is an eternally true ethical principle. The common claim that some pleasure is not good, or some pain not bad, is mistaken. Strict particularism (ethical decisions must be made case by case; there are no sound universal normative principles) and relativism (all good and bad are relative to society) are among the ethical theories we may refute through an appeal to pleasure and pain. Daniel Dennett, Philippa Foot, R M (...) Hare, Gilbert Harman, Immanuel Kant, J. L. Mackie, and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the many philosophers addressed. (shrink)
One of the most common judgments of normative life takes the following form: With respect to some things that matter, one item is better than the other, with respect to other things that matter, the other item is better, but all things considered – that is, taking into account all the things that matter – the one item is better than the other. In this paper, I explore how all-things-considered judgments are possible, assuming that they are. In particular, I examine (...) the question of how the different considerations relevant to an all-things-considered judgment come together in a way that gives each relevant consideration its proper due. I propose an answer which provides a unified account of all-things-considered judgments and highlights a deep connection between value and reason. My suggestion is that ‘all things considered’ is, in effect, a placeholder for a more comprehensive, sometimes nameless, value that includes the things considered as parts, and that this more comprehensive value determines how the things considered normatively relate. (shrink)
According to the “Textbook View,” there is an extensional dispute between consequentialists and deontologists, in virtue of the fact that only the latter defend “agent-relative” principles—principles that require an agent to have a special concern with making sure that she does not perform certain types of action. I argue that, contra the Textbook View, there are agent-neutral versions of deontology. I also argue that there need be no extensional disagreement between the deontologist and consequentialist, as characterized by the Textbook View.
My topic is the debate in moral psychology between the rationalist and the anti-rationalist over the proper relation between reason and desire. My aim is not to adjudicate this debate, but rather to clarify what is at stake, for, it seems to me, both parties are prone to misconceive the issues that divide them.
The theory and practice of constitutionalism is tightly interwoven with references and appeals to values. However, these references and appeals frequently remain undertheorized and are seldom connected directly to philosophical theories of value. This chapter outlines some ways in which such connections might be established.
A search is under way for a theory that can accommodate our intuitions in population axiology. The object of this search has proved elusive. This is not surprising since, as we shall see, any welfarist axiology that satisfies three reasonable conditions implies at least one of three counter-intuitive conclusions. I shall start by pointing out the failures in three recent attempts to construct an acceptable population axiology. I shall then present an impossibility theorem and conclude with a (...) short discussion of how it might be extended to pluralist axiologies, that is, axiologies that take more values than welfare into account. (shrink)
The problem of knowledge has been centred around the study of the content of our consciousness, seeing the world through internal representation, without any satisfactory account of the operations of nature that would be a pre-condition for our own performances in terms of concept efficiency in organizing action externally. If we want to better understand where and how meaning fits in nature, we have to find the proper way to decipher its organization, and account for the fact that we have (...) found codes and replicators operating at a deep levels of analysis. Informational analysis deals with units of organizational stability but it takes them for granted and leaves open the question of their origin. Patterns are used when we recognize the same configurations at different places and try to explain through their recurrence, yet to make sense of the presence of signals and counter-balancing mechanisms disseminated in nature, a hypothesis is offered to the effect that feedback signals would have a role to play in the coming about of a world that is open to new configurations and submitted to a form of stability that is more attuned to system laws than overarching unrevisable ones. (shrink)
Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with impossibility results which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies.1 All of these results have one thing in common, however. They all involve an adequacy condition that rules out Derek Parfit’s Repugnant (...) Conclusion: The Repugnant Conclusion: For any perfectly equal population with very high positive welfare, there is a population with very low positive welfare which is better, other things being equal.2 1 The informal Mere Addition Paradox in Parfit (1984), pp. 419ff is the locus classicus. For an informal proof of a similar result with stronger assumptions, see Ng (1989), p. 240. A formal proof with slightly stronger assumptions than Ng’s can be found in Blackorby and Donaldson (1991). For theorems with much weaker assumptions, see my (1999), (2000b), and especially (2000a), (2001), and (2009). 2 See Parfit (1984), p. 388. My formulation is more general than Parfit’s apart from that he doesn’t demand that the people with very high welfare are equally well off. Expressions such as “a population with very high positive welfare”, “a population with very low positive welfare”, etc., are elliptical for the more cumbersome phrases “a population consisting only of lives with.. (shrink)
This critical notice was occasioned by reading M. Espinoza, "Freedom in a Causally Determined World," Actas de las XIII Jornadas sobre Filosofía y Metodología Actual de la Ciencia, Jornadas sobre Libertad y Determinismo: Ciencias Sociales y Ciencias de la Naturaleza, Universidad de A Coruña, March 2008.
. For moral guidance we human beings may be tempted to turn toward the past (scripture, tradition), toward present science, or toward future consequences. Each of these approaches has strengths and limitations. To address those limitations, we need to consider how these various perspectives can be brought togetherâand âreligion and scienceâ is an area in which this may happen. That makes the question of where to look for guidance potentially a central one for religion and science, setting the agenda differently (...) from apologetic questions with respect to religion or to science. However, âreligion and scienceâ does not solve the issues, leading to a single normative perspective; the way that current knowledge is integrated with past wisdom is highly dependent upon ideals that relate to the future. Thus, rather than resolving the need for guidance, the religion-and-science conversation becomes one way of addressing our need for guidance, bringing into the conversation past, present, and future. (shrink)
According to the naturalistic normative axiology of Laudan's reticulated model of scientific change, empirical discoveries in the advance of science can provide a rational basis for axiological decisions concerning which epistemic goals scientific inquiry ought to pursue. The Bohr-Einstein debate over acceptance of quantum theory is analyzed as a case of axiological change. The participants' aims are incompatible due to different formulations of the goal of objective description, but neither doubts the realist commitment to the existence of microsystems or (...) the intention of quantum mechanics to provide knowledge of them. Thus the general aim of realism is not at issue. (shrink)
El artículo pretende ofrecer algunas claves interpretativas de la Axiología y Práctica materiales de Husserl. El estudio de la primera parte se centra en la cuestión de la verdad y el cumplimiento de los actos no objetivantes. La segunda parte analiza los sentidos que en Husserl tiene la noción práctica de fin y pone en conexión la verdad práctica con el imperativo categórico en su versión husserliana de actuar según el mejor saber y la mejor conciencia, aplicado tanto a las (...) acciones particulares como a la voluntad común de perfeccionamiento que las preside. Se termina con unas conclusiones valorativas. The aim of this article is to offer some interpretative keys of Husserl´s material Axiology and Practice. The study of the former focuses on the fulfilment and truth in not objectivant acts. The latter analyzes the meanings that the notion of end acquires in Husserl and connects the practical truth with the categorial imperative in its Husserlian version, that says "act according to the best knowing and the best conscience", applied to both particular actions and the common will of perfecting that presides over them. The article ends with valuation. (shrink)
The axiological tenet of scientific realism, “science seeks true theories,” is generally taken to rest on a corollary epistemological tenet, “we can justifiably believe that our successful theories achieve (or approximate) that aim.” While important debates have centered on, and have led to the refinement of, the epistemological tenet, the axiological tenet has suffered from neglect. I offer what I consider to be needed refinements to the axiological postulate. After showing an intimate relation between the refined postulate and ten theoretical (...) desiderata, I argue that the axiological postulate does not depend on its epistemological counterpart; epistemic humility can accompany us in the quest for truth. Upon contrasting my axiological postulate against the two dominant non-realist alternatives and the standard realist postulate, I contend that its explanatory and justificatory virtues render it, among the axiologies considered, the richest account of the scientific enterprise. (shrink)
In 'Axiological Actualism' Josh Parsons argues that 'axiological actualism', which is 'the doctrine that ethical theory should refrain from assigning levels of welfare, or preference orderings, or anything of the sort to merely possible people', lends plausibility to 'the converse intuition'. This is the proposition that 'the welfare a person would have, were they actual, can give us a reason not to bring that person into existence'. I show that Parsons's argument delivers less than he promises. It could be convincing (...) only to actualists who hold certain views about normative ethics, and could at most convince them to heed the converse intuition only under certain circumstances. (shrink)
I attempt to rebut the following standard objections against cultural relativism: 1. It is self-defeating for a cultural relativist to take the principle of tolerance as absolute; 2. There are universal moral rules, contrary to what cultural relativism claims; 3. If cultural relativism were true, Hitler’s genocidal actions would be right, social reformers would be wrong to go against their own culture, moral progress would be impossible, and an atrocious crime could be made moral by forming a culture which approves (...) of it; 4. Cultural relativism is silent about how large a group must be in order to be a culture, and which culture we should follow when we belong to two cultures with conflicting moralities. (shrink)
As the title of this paper indicates, I’m going to discuss what we ought to do in situations where our actions affect future generations. More specifically, I shall focus on the moral problems raised by cases where our actions affect who’s going to live, their number and their well being. I’ll start, however, with population axiology. Most discussion in population ethics has concentrated on how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by (...) the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with “paradoxes” which purport to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies. Derek Parfit’s Mere Addition Paradox is a case in point. The main question of my paper concerns the implication of such axiological paradoxes for normative theories. Do the axiological paradoxes translate into paradoxes for normative theories or will they, as some believe, disappear if we switch to a normative framework? (shrink)
This paper identifies and criticizes certain fundamental commitments of virtue theories in epistemology. A basic question for virtues approaches is whether they represent a ‘third force’––a different source of normativity to internalism and externalism. Virtues approaches so-conceived are opposed. It is argued that virtues theories offer us nothing that can unify the internalist and externalist sub-components of their preferred success-state. Claims that character can unify a virtues-based axiology are overturned. Problems with the pluralism of virtues theories are identified––problems with (...) pluralism and the nature of the self; and problems with pluralism and the goals of epistemology. Moral objections to virtue theory are identified––specifically, both the idea that there can be a radical axiological priority to character and the anti-enlightenment tendencies in virtues approaches. Finally, some strengths to virtue theory are conceded, while the role of epistemic luck is identified as an important topic for future work. (shrink)
Medieval views of both divine goodness and the doctrine of hell are examined and shown to be incompatible with our best understandings of goodness. The only manner in which God could be good to those in hell – by permitting their continued existence – is not sufficient to outweigh ‘the dreadful pains of eternal fire’. One might claim that God is good to them in the retributive sense; but I argue that retributive punishment is inadequate justification of eternal torment. The (...) medieval notions of goodness and hell seem to make God more a sadistic torturer than a caring parent. Eleonore Stump, accepting the medievals' axiology, ameliorates the doctrine of hell. However, I argue that her Dantean version of hell fails because not to be in certain circumstances is rationally preferable to continued existence. In addition, life under those conditions would result in frustration, not fulfilment, of one's second nature and would result in a progressive loss of being. Indeed, it seems more reasonable to reject the identity of being and goodness which both the medievals and Stump embrace or to accept being as a prima facie good that is defeasible in the face of eternal damnation. (shrink)
This article seeks to contribute to the discussion on the nature of choice in virtue theory. If several different actions are available to the virtuous agent, they are also likely to vary in their degree of virtue, at least in some situations. Yet, it is widely agreed that once an action is recognised as virtuous there is no higher level of virtue. In this paper we discuss how the virtue theorist could accommodate both these seemingly conflicting ideas. We discuss this (...) issue from a modern Aristotelian perspective, as opposed to a purely exegetic one. We propose a way of resolving what seems to be a major clash between two central features of virtue ethics. Our proposal is based on the notion of parity, a concept which recently has received considerable attention in the literature on axiology. Briefly put, two alternatives are on a par (or are ‘roughly equal’) if they are comparable, although it is not the case that one is better than the other, nor that they are equally good. The advantages of applying the concept of parity to our problem are twofold. Firstly, it sheds new light on the account of choice in virtue theory. Secondly, some of the criticisms that have been mounted against the possibility of parity can be countered by considering the notion of choice from a virtue theory perspective. (shrink)
I criticize the following three arguments for moral objectivism. 1. Since we assess moral statements, we can arrive at some moral truths (Thomson, 2006). 2. One culture can be closer to truths than another in moral matters because the former can be closer to truths than the latter in scientific matters (Pojman, 2008). 3. A moral judgment is shown to be true when it is backed up by reason (Rachels and Rachels, 2010). Finally, I construct a dilemma against the view (...) that there are moral truths and we can move toward them. (shrink)
Introduction: Critical realism, hegelian dialectic and the problems of philosophy preliminary considerations -- Objectives of the book -- Dialectic : an initial orientation -- Negation -- Four degrees of critical realism -- Prima facie objections to critical realism -- On the sources and general character of the hegelian dialectic -- On the immanent critique and limitations of the hegelian dialectic -- The fine structure of the hegelian dialectic -- Dialectic : the logic of absence, arguments, themes, perspectives, configurations -- Absence (...) -- Emergence -- Contradiction I : Hegel and Marx -- Contradiction II : misunderstandings -- On the materialist diffraction of dialectic -- Dialectical arguments and the unholy trinity -- Dialectical motifs : tina formation, mediation, concrete universality, etc -- On the generalized theory of the dialectical remark, the failure of detachment, and the presence of the past -- Dialectical critical naturalism -- Towards a real definition of dialectic -- Dialectical critical realism and the dialectic of freedom -- Ontology -- The dialectic of truth -- On the emergence and derivability of dialecticized transcendental realism -- 1m realism : non-identity -- 2e realism : negativity -- Space, time and tense -- Social science, explanatory critique, emancipatory axiology -- 3l realism : totality -- 4d realism : agency -- The dialectic of desire to freedom -- Dialectical critical realism and the dialectics of critical realism -- Metacritical dialectics : irrealism and its consequences -- Irrealism -- The problems of philosophy and their resolution -- Contradictions of the critical philosophy -- Dilemmas of the beautiful soul and the unhappy consciousness -- Master and slave : from dialectics of reconciliation to dialectics of liberation -- The metacritique of the hegelian dialectic -- Marxian dialectic i: the rational kernel in the mystical shell -- Marxian dialectic ii: the mystical shell in the rational kernel -- Metacritical dialectics : philosophical ideologies, their sublation and explanation -- The consequences of irrealism -- Diffracted and retotalized dialectics -- Dialectic as the pulse of freedom. (shrink)
It is better when people get what they deserve. So we need an axiology according to which the intrinsic value of a possible world is a function of both how well-off and how deserving the people in that world are. But how should these ?desert-adjusted? values of possible worlds be calculated? It is easy to come up with some qualitative ideas. But these qualitative ideas leave us with an embarrassment of riches: too many quantitative functions that implement those qualitative (...) ideas. In this paper I will select one of these quantitative functions and defend its superiority. (shrink)
What is the most general common set ofattributes that characterises something asintrinsically valuableand hence as subject to some moral respect, andwithout which something would rightly beconsidered intrinsically worthless or even positivelyunworthy and therefore rightly to bedisrespected in itself? Thispaper develops and supports the thesis that theminimal condition of possibility of an entity'sleast intrinsic value is to be identified with itsontological status as an information object.All entities, even when interpreted as only clusters ofinformation, still have a minimal moral worthqua information objects (...) and so may deserve to be respected. Thepaper is organised into four main sections.Section 1 models moral action as an information systemusing the object-oriented programmingmethodology (OOP). Section 2 addresses the question of whatrole the several components constituting themoral system can have in an ethical analysis. If theycan play only an instrumental role, thenComputer Ethics (CE) is probably bound to remain at most apractical, field-dependent, applied orprofessional ethics. However, Computer Ethics can give rise to amacroethical approach, namely InformationEthics (IE), if one can show that ethical concern should beextended to include not only human, animal orbiological entities, but also information objects. Thefollowing two sections show how this minimalistlevel of analysis can be achieved. Section 3 provides anaxiological analysis of information objects. Itcriticises the Kantian approach to the concept ofintrinsic value and shows that it can beimproved by using the methodology introduced in the first section.The solution of the Kantian problem prompts thereformulation of the key question concerningthe moral worth of an entity: what is theintrinsic value of x qua an object constituted by itsinherited attributes? In answering thisquestion, it is argued that entitiescan share different observable propertiesdepending on the level of abstraction adopted,and that it is still possible to speak of moral value even at thehighest level of ontological abstractionrepresented by the informational analysis. Section 4 develops aminimalist axiology based on the concept ofinformation object. It further supports IE's position byaddressing five objections that may undermineits acceptability. (shrink)
Abstract: One of the institutional highlights of the encounter between Austrian “wissen¬schaftliche Philosophie” and French “philosophie scientifique” in the first half of the 20th century was the “First International Congress for Unity of Science” that took place 1935 in Paris. In my contribution I deal with an episode of the philosophical mega-event whose protagonist was the American philosopher and semiotician Charles William Morris. At the Paris congress he presented his programme of a comprehensive, practice-oriented scientific philosophy and, in a more (...) elaborated version he published it two years later in Logical Positivism, Pragmatism and Scientific Empiricism (Morris 1937). Morris aimed at a synthesis of formalism, pragmatism, and traditional empiricism that combined the virtues of these accounts while avoided their shortocmings. The core of approach was a comprehensive theory of the concept of meaning. Through an analysis of the concept of meaning he sought to sort out the existing differences and the options for a possible future rapprochment between logical empiricism and pragmatism. Against the overly narrow logical empiricist understanding of philosophy as the syntax of the language of science Morris argued for a “scientific pragmatism” that comprised four levels: (1) Philosophy as Logic of Science, (2) Philosophy as Clarification of Meaning (Peirce), (3) Philosophy as Empirical Axiology (Dewey), and (4) Philosophy as Empirical Cosmology (Whitehead). (shrink)
Traditional ethical theories have paradoxical implications in regards to questions concerning procreation and our moral duties to future people. It has been suggested that the crux of the problem resides in an all too ‘impersonal’ axiology and that the problems of population axiology can be solved by adopting a ‘Person Affecting Restriction’ which in its slogan form states that an outcome can only be better than another if it is better for people. This move has been especially popular (...) in the context of medical ethics where many of the problems of population axiology are actualized. Examples are embryo or egg selection, pre-implantation genetic testing, assisted reproduction programmes, abortion, just to mention a few. I discuss a number of different interpretations of the Restriction and in particular one interpretation which I call Comparativism. According to this view, we should draw a distinction between uniquely and non-uniquely realizable people. The former people only exist in one out of two possible outcomes, whereas the latter exist in both of the compared outcomes. The idea is that we should give more weight to the well-being of non-uniquely realizable people or take it into account in a different way as compared to the well-being of uniquely realizable people. I argue that the different versions of the Person Affecting Restriction and Comparativism either have counterintuitive implications of their own or are compatible with traditional theories such as Utilitarianism. (shrink)
The axiological question of the role of economic values in the configuration of science is analyzed here following several steps: 1) the acceptance of the presence of values in science (among them, economic values in connection with scientific progress); 2) the clarification of the realms of values in science, which gives room for an "economics of science"; 3) the analysis of economic values in the internal perspective (cognitive and methodological), which is called "economy of research"; 4) the examination of external (...) economic values of science as social activity and in the uses and applications of science; and 5) the assessment of the possibility of an "economic axiology of science" (i.e., the articulation of economic values as a system where economic dimension of rationality should have an important task). The paper seeks an alternative vision to those already available, insofar as it is looking for new aspects of economic values, such as those involved in scientific results or outcomes, in addition to those considered in scientific aims and processes. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish between two kinds of meta-hypotheses, or hypotheses about science, at issue in the scientific realism debate. The first (Type-D) are descriptive empirical hypotheses regarding the nature of scientific inquiry. The second (Type-E) are epistemological theories about what individuals (scientists or non-scientists) should / can justifiably believe about (successful) scientific theories. Favoring (variants of) the realist Type-D meta-hypotheses, I argue that a particular set of realist and non-realist efforts in the debate over Type-E’s have been valuable (...) in the quest to describe and understand the nature of scientific inquiry. For the realism debate itself has inadvertently and indirectly laid the foundations for an important kind of Type-D meta-hypothesis, one regarding creativity in the history of science—which, in turn, is relevant to refining our descriptions of inference. After illustrating this result with regard to the historical argument (a.k.a. the pessimistic induction) against realism, I suggest that these empirically attained meta-hypotheses pertaining to scientific creativity can, in turn, be made methodologically prescriptive. (shrink)
The denial of the intrinsic value of acts apart from both motives and consequences lies at the heart of Ross’s deontology and his opposition to ideal utilitarianism. Moreover, the claim that acts can have intrinsic value is a staple element of early and contemporary attempts to “consequentialise” all of morality. I first show why Ross’s denial is relevant both for his philosophy and for current debates. Then I consider and reject as inconclusive some of Ross’s explicit and implicit motivations for (...) his claim, stemming from his philosophy of action, his axiology, and his concept of intrinsic value, or a combination of these. I also criticize Ross’s later view that all right acts somehow produce some good, but that the value of some of these goods is explained by the prior rightness of the act. In the course of the discussion, the idea that acts can have intrinsic value apart from motives and consequences gains credibility both from the weaknesses in Ross’s arguments and from some putative examples. So, finally, I distinguish two attitudes in the history of ideal utilitarianism towards the necessity or not to give a detailed account of the intrinsic value of acts, and suggest that a Why Bother attitude is more promising than a Constructive one. (shrink)
Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with “paradoxes” which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies. Already in Derek Parfit’s seminal contribution to the topic, an informal paradox — the Mere Addition Paradox — was presented and later contributions (...) have proved similar results.1 All of these contributions, however, have one thing in common: They all involve an adequacy condition that rules out Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion: The Repugnant Conclusion: For any perfectly equal population with very high positive welfare, there is a population with very low positive welfare which is better, other things being equal.2 A number of theorists, however, have argued that we should accept the Repugnant Conclusion and hence that avoidance of this conclusion is not a convincing adequacy condition for a population axiology. Torbjörn Tännsjö, for example, argues that the Repugnant Conclusion is not at all repugnant but rather “an unsought, but acceptable, consequence of hedonistic utilitarianism”:3.. (shrink)
What is the connection between action that is caused by inauthentic antecedent springs of action, such as surreptitiously engineered-in desires and beliefs, and moral obligation? If, for example, an agent performs an action that derives from such antecedent springs can it be that the agent is not obligated to perform this action owing to the inauthenticity of its causal antecedents? I defend an affirmative response, assuming that we morally ought to bring about the states of affairs that occur in the (...) intrinsically best worlds accessible to us and that a version of attitudinal hedonism is the axiology for ranking worlds. (shrink)
Why is Nietzsche's thinking still regarded as relevant today? There are a large number of possible answers to questions such as "Why is Nietzsche a great and influential philosopher?" but one of the most important and persuasive is that Nietzsche questioned and discussed the nature, character, and value of values. Nietzsche frequently turns other questions such as epistemological and ontological ones into axiological ones, making values pivotal in his thinking. A central topic of his turn to axiology is, of (...) course, the theme of a revaluation of all values.1 Surprisingly, this aspect of his thinking has received less attention than one would expect (and much less than many other aspects). Unfortunately, this has .. (shrink)
A standard criticism of utilitarianism is that it is only indirectly concerned with the distribution of welfare between individuals and, therefore, does not take adequate account of the separateness between individuals. This has led some to conclude that the utilitarian must either downplay the moral significance of distinct identities (e.g. Parfit) or concede that justice represents a prior and independent constraint on the pursuit of the good (e.g. Rawls). An intriguing alternative presents itself if we accept that intrinsic value for (...) the world is independently generated by the receipt of welfare and the degree to which receipt accords with the demands of justice. Fred Feldman, for example, argues that an action is right if and only if it maximizes the sum of both these sources of intrinsic value. The proposal retains the aggregative structure of utilitarianism and takes into account the morally relevant differences between individuals. In response I argue that justice-adjusted utilitarianism collapses into a deontological theory because (i) the axiology assigns lexical priority to justice and (ii) the alleged intrinsic value of justice is entirely derivative. (shrink)
This paper addresses the issue of rule-following in the context of the problem of the criterion. It presents a line of reasoning which concludes we do not know what rule we follow, but which develops independently of the problem of extrapolation that plays a major role in many recent discussions of rule-following. The basis of the argument is the normativity of rules, but the problem is also distinct from the issue of the gap between facts and values in axiology. (...) The paper further points out that the epistemic problem of not knowing what rule we follow leads to the outright denial of rule-following. (shrink)