Many moral philosophers accept the Debunking Thesis, according to which facts about natural selection provide debunking explanations for certain of our moral beliefs. I argue that philosophers who accept the Debunking Thesis beg important questions in the philosophy of biology. They assume that past selection can explain why you or I hold certain of the moral beliefs we do. A position advanced by many prominent philosophers of biology implies that this assumption is false. According to the Negative View, natural selection (...) cannot explain the traits of individuals. Hence, facts about past selection cannot provide debunking explanations for any of our moral beliefs. The aim of this paper is to explore the conflict between the Debunking Thesis and the Negative View. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that there exist distinctive obstacles to relying on moral testimony. In this paper, I criticize previous attempts to identify these obstacles and offer a new theory. I argue that the problems associated with moral deference can't be explained in terms of the value of moral understanding, nor in terms of aretaic considerations related to subjective integration. Instead, our uneasiness with moral testimony is best explained by our attachment to an ideal of authenticity that places special demands on (...) our moral beliefs. (shrink)
Upon discovering that certain beliefs we hold are contingent on arbitrary features of our background, we often feel uneasy. I defend the proposal that if such cases of contingency anxiety involve defeaters, this is because of the epistemic significance of disagreement. I note two hurdles to our accepting this Disagreement Hypothesis. Firstly, some cases of contingency anxiety apparently involve no disagreement. Secondly, the proposal may seem to make our awareness of the influence of arbitrary background factors irrelevant in determining whether (...) to revise our beliefs. I show that each of these problems can be successfully accommodated by the Disagreement Hypothesis. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that natural selection explanations debunk our moral beliefs or would do so if moral realism were true, relying on the assumption that explanations of this kind show that moral facts play no role in explaining human moral beliefs. Here I argue that this assumption rests on a confusion of proximate and ultimate explanatory factors. Insofar as evolutionary debunking arguments hinge on the assumption that moral facts play no role in explaining human moral beliefs, these arguments fall short.
I argue that there are cases in which ecumenical expressivism cannot distinguish between endorsement of certain trivial and substantive normative judgments. I consider the extent to which this problem generalizes across different formulations of the ecumenical view. I suggest that we may not be able to escape the problem if we hope to retain the ability to solve the Frege-Geach problem in the way promised by ecumenical expressivism.
Most people believe that some optimific acts are wrong. Since we are not permitted to perform wrong acts, we are not permitted to carry out optimific wrongs. Does the moral relevance of the distinction between action and omission nonetheless permit us to allow others to carry them out? I show that there exists a plausible argument supporting the conclusion that it does. To resist my argument, we would have to endorse a principle according to which, for any wrong action, there (...) is some reason to prevent that action over and above those reasons associated with preventing harm to its victim. I argue that it would be a mistake to value the prevention of wrong acts in the way required to resist my argument. (shrink)
According to the Psychological Account of personal identity, personal identity across time is maintained by some form of psychological overlap or continuance. I show that the Psychological Account has trouble accommodating cases of transient retrograde amnesia. In such cases, the transitivity of psychological continuity may break down. I consider various means of responding to this problem, arguing that the best available response will undercut our ability to rely on intuitions about brain transplantation to support the Psychological Account. When the Psychological (...) Account is re-interpreted in such a way as to overcome the problems posed by cases of transient retrograde amnesia, it turns out that standard brain transplantation cases involve details which are strictly irrelevant according to the theory. On the other hand, these features seem to drive our intuitions about survival in these cases. In this way, my argument undermines one of the key motivations for adopting the Psychological Account. (shrink)
Danto, A. The artworld.--Dickie, G. What is art?--Margolis, J. Works of art are physically embodied and culturally emergent entities.--Kjørup, S. Art broadly and wholly conceived.--Meyer, L. B. Forgery and the anthropology of art.--Brunius, T. Theory and ideologies in aesthetics.--Tilghman, B. R. Artistic puzzlement.--Binkley, T. Deciding about art.--Alexander, H. G. On defining in aesthetics.--Iseminger, G. Appreciation, the artworld, and the aesthetic.--Glickman, J. Creativity in the arts.--Sclafani, R. The theory of art.--Lyas, C. Danto and Dickie on art.--Beardsley, M. C. Is art essentially (...) institutional? (shrink)
J. L. Schellenberg’s Philosophy of Religion argues for a specific brand of sceptical religion that takes ‘Ultimism’ – the proposition that there is a metaphysically, axiologically, and soteriologically ultimate reality – to be the object to which the sceptical religionist should assent. In this article I shall argue that Ietsism – the proposition that there is merely something transcendental worth committing ourselves to religiously – is a preferable object of assent. This is for two primary reasons. First, Ietsism is far (...) more modest than Ultimism; Ietsism, in fact, is open to the truth of Ultimism, while the converse does not hold. Second, Ietsism can fulfil the same criteria that compel Schellenberg to argue for Ultimism. (shrink)
In Geneva, since the beginning of pre-service secondary teacher training at university, two different types of students in teacher preparation coexist: some of them have got part-time classes, others have no teaching assignment. In an introduction to the teaching profession, students from different disciplines of the two types take a course on the same sources of professional knowledge. By analyzing the representations of the teaching profession, we find that the process of construction of their professional identity varies according to whether (...) they have a student teaching placement or not. : A Genève, depuis l’universitarisation de la formation des enseignants du secondaire, deux statuts d’étudiants en formation initiale à l’enseignement coexistent : les uns à mi-temps en responsabilité de classe, les autres sans contact avec le terrain. Dans une unité de formation d’introduction à la profession enseignante, des étudiants de disciplines différentes des deux statuts suivent un dispositif de formation identique portant sur les savoirs de référence constitutifs de la profession. En analysant les représentations du métier d’enseignant des étudiants, on constate que l’identité professionnelle en construction de ceux-ci évolue différemment selon s’ils sont sur le terrain ou non. (shrink)
Continuing Franz Boas' work to establish anthropology as an academic discipline in the US at the turn of the twentieth century, Alfred L. Kroeber re-defined culture as a phenomenon sui generis. To achieve this he asked geneticists to enter into a coalition against hereditarian thoughts prevalent at that time in the US. The goal was to create space for anthropology as a separate discipline within academia, distinct from other disciplines. To this end he crossed the boundary separating anthropology from biology (...) in order to secure the boundary. His notion of culture, closely bound to the concept of heredity, saw it as independent of biological heredity (culture as superorganic) but at the same time as a heredity of another sort. The paper intends to summarise the shifting boundaries of anthropology at the beginning of the twentieth century, and to present Kroeber?s ideas on culture, with a focus on how the changing landscape of concepts of heredity influenced his views. The historical case serves to illustrate two general conclusions: that the concept of culture played and plays different roles in explaining human existence; that genetics and the concept of Weismannian hard inheritance did not have an unambiguous unidirectional historical effect on the vogue for hereditarianism at that time; on the contrary, it helped to establish culture in Kroeber's sense, culture as independent of heredity. (shrink)