Anthony Everett gives a philosophical defence of the common-sense view that there are no such things as fictional people, places, and things. He argues that our talk and thought about such fictional objects takes place within the scope of a pretense, and that we gain little but lose much by accepting fictional realism.
Recent research has relied on trolley-type sacrificial moral dilemmas to study utilitarian versus nonutili- tarian modes of moral decision-making. This research has generated important insights into people’s attitudes toward instrumental harm—that is, the sacrifice of an individual to save a greater number. But this approach also has serious limitations. Most notably, it ignores the positive, altruistic core of utilitarianism, which is characterized by impartial concern for the well-being of everyone, whether near or far. Here, we develop, refine, and validate a (...) new scale—the Oxford Utilitarianism Scale—to dissociate individual differences in the ‘negative’ (permissive attitude toward instrumental harm) and ‘positive’ (impartial concern for the greater good) dimensions of utilitarian thinking as manifested in the general population. We show that these are two independent dimensions of proto-utilitarian tendencies in the lay population, each exhibiting a distinct psychological profile. Empathic concern, identification with the whole of humanity, and concern for future generations were positively associated with impartial beneficence but negatively associated with instrumental harm; and although instrumental harm was associated with subclinical psychopathy, impartial beneficence was associated with higher religiosity. Importantly, although these two dimensions were independent in the lay population, they were closely associated in a sample of moral philosophers. Acknowledging this dissociation between the instrumental harm and impartial beneficence components of utilitarian thinking in ordinary people can clarify existing debates about the nature of moral psychology and its relation to moral philosophy as well as generate fruitful avenues for further research. (shrink)
A key source of support for the view that challenging people’s beliefs about free will may undermine moral behavior is two classic studies by Vohs and Schooler (2008). These authors reported that exposure to certain prompts suggesting that free will is an illusion increased cheating behavior. In the present paper, we report several attempts to replicate this influential and widely cited work. Over a series of five studies (sample sizes of N = 162, N = 283, N = 268, N (...) = 804, N = 982) (four preregistered) we tested the relationship between (1) anti-free-will prompts and free will beliefs and (2) free will beliefs and immoral behavior. Our primary task was to closely replicate the findings from Vohs and Schooler (2008) using the same or highly similar manipulations and measurements as the ones used in their original studies. Our efforts were largely unsuccessful. We suggest that manipulating free will beliefs in a robust way is more difficult than has been implied by prior work, and that the proposed link with immoral behavior may not be as consistent as previous work suggests. (shrink)
Recent research has begun treating the perennial philosophical question, “what makes a person the same over time?” as an empirical question. A long tradition in philosophy holds that psychological continuity and connectedness of memories are at the heart of personal identity. More recent experimental work, following Strohminger & Nichols (2014), has suggested that persistence of moral character, more than memories, is perceived as essential for personal identity. While there is a growing body of evidence supporting these findings, a critique by (...) Starmans & Bloom (2018) suggests that this research program conflates personal identity with mere similarity. To address this criticism, we explore how loss of someone’s morality or memories influence perceptions of identity change, and perceptions of moral duties towards the target of the change. We present participants with a classic ‘body switch’ thought experiment and after assessing perceptions of identity persistence, we present a moral dilemma, asking participants to imagine that one of the patients must die (Study 1) or be left alone in a care home for the rest of their life (Study 2). Our results highlight the importance of the continuity of moral character, suggesting lay intuitions are tracking (something like) personal identity, not just mere similarity. (shrink)
Philosophers and theorists have long been puzzled by humans' ability to talk about things that do not exist, or to talk about things that they think exist but, in fact, do not. _Empty Names, Fiction, and the Puzzles of Non-Existence_ is a collection of 13 new works concerning the semantic and metaphysical issues arising from empty names, non-existence, and the nature of fiction. The contributors include some of the most important researchers working in these fields. Some of the papers develop (...) and defend new positions on these matters, while others offer important new perspectives and criticisms of the existing approaches. The volume contains a comprehensive introductory essay by the editors, which provides a survey of the philosophical issues concerning empty names, the various responses to these issues, and the literature on the subject to date. (shrink)
In recent years a number of authors sympathetic to Referentialistaccounts of proper names have argued that utterances containingempty names express `gappy,' or incomplete, propositions. In this paper I want to take issue with this suggestion.In particular, I argue versions of this approach developedby David Braun, Nathan Salmon, Ken Taylor, and by Fred Adams,Gary Fuller, and Robert Stecker.
I argue for the existence of intrinsic Finks, Masks, and Mimics, and argue that these undermine certain recent attempts to revive simple conditional analyses of dispositions. I present some examples of intrinsic Finks, Masks, and Mimics, and argue that the example of an intrinsic fink I present has certain advantages over the examples of intrinsic finks recently suggested by Randolph Clarke. I conclude that the existence of such Finks, Masks, and Mimics, undermine a recent attempt by Sungho Choi to distinguish (...) dispositional properties from categorical properties. (shrink)
Background: Recent literature on addiction and judgments about the characteristics of agents has focused on the implications of adopting a ‘brain disease’ versus ‘moral weakness’ model of addiction. Typically, such judgments have to do with what capacities an agent has (e.g., the ability to abstain from substance use). Much less work, however, has been conducted on the relationship between addiction and judgments about an agent’s identity, including whether or to what extent an individual is seen as the same person after (...) becoming addicted. Methods: We conducted a series of vignette-based experiments (total N = 3,620) to assess lay attitudes concerning addiction and identity persistence, systematically manipulating key characteristics of agents and their drug of addiction. Conclusions: In Study 1, we found that US participants judged an agent who became addicted to drugs as being closer to ‘a completely different person’ than ‘completely the same person’ as the agent who existed prior to the addiction. In Studies 2-6, we investigated the intuitive basis for this result, finding that lay judgments of altered identity as a consequence of drug use and addiction are driven primarily by perceived negative changes in the moral character of drug users, who are seen as having deviated from their good true selves. (shrink)
There has recently been considerable interest in accounts of fiction which treat fictional characters as abstract objects. In this paper I argue against this view. More precisely I argue that such accounts are unable to accommodate our intuitions that fictional negative existentials such as “Raskolnikov doesn’t exist” are true. I offer a general argument to this effect and then consider, but reject, some of the accounts of fictional negative existentials offered by abstract object theorists. I then note that some of (...) the sort of data invoked by the abstract object theorist in fact cuts against her position. I concludle that we should not regard fictional characters as abstract objects but rather should adopt a make-believe theoretic account of fictional characters along the lines of those developed by Ken Walton and others. (shrink)
: David Sosa, Michael Nelson, and Jason Stanley have recently offered a series of interesting and provocative challenges to Kripke's modal arguments against Descriptivism. In this paper I explore these challenges and some of the issues to which they give rise. I argue that, in the end, all three challenges fail.
This paper presents a new solution to the problem of peer disagreement that distinguishes two principles of rational belief, here called probability and autonomy. When we discover that we disagree with peers, there is one sense in which we rationally ought to suspend belief, and another in which we rationally ought to retain our original belief. In the first sense, we aim to believe what is most probably true according to our total evidence, including testimony from peers and authorities. In (...) the second, we aim to base our beliefs only on objective evidence and argumentation, even if that lowers the probability of their being true. The first principle of rational belief tends to serve the short-term epistemic interests of individuals, while the second tends to serve the long-term epistemic interests of both individuals and groups. The best way to reconcile these principles in cases of peer disagreement is to associate them with two corresponding species of belief, here called perception and opinion. (shrink)
This paper extends the discussion of business ethics by examining the issue of corruption, its definition, the solutions being proposed for dealing with it, and the ethical perspectives underpinning these proposals. The paper’s findings are based on a review of association, think-tank, and academic reports, books, and papers dealing with the topic of corruption, as well as the pronouncements, websites, and position papers of a number of important global organizations active in the fight. These organizations include the World Bank, the (...) International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Transparency International, USAID, the United Nations, the International Chamber of Commerce, the Organization of American States, and the Council of Europe. Our discussion departs from prior analyses by adopting a Foucaultian theoretical framing and by incorporating insights found in the virtue ethics literature. Implications are provided for international business organizations. (shrink)
Little is known with regard to the precise cognitive tools the self uses in acquiring and processing information about itself. In this article, we underline the possibility that inner speech might just represent one such cognitive process. Duval and Wicklund’s theory of self-awareness and the selfconsciousness, and self-knowledge body of work that was inspired by it are reviewed, and the suggestion is put forward that inner speech parallels the state of self-awareness, is more frequently used among highly self-conscious persons, and (...) represents an effective, if not indispensable, tool involved in the formation of the self-concept. The possibility is also raised that the extent to which one uses inner speech could partially explain individual differences in self-consciousness and self-knowledge. A selective review of the private and inner speech literature is presented, and some possible ways of testing the hypothesis by using pre-existing techniques are proposed in the hope of stimulating empirical investigations. Some implications are outlined in conclusion. (shrink)
Background Doctors sometimes encounter parents who object to prescribed treatment for their children, and request suboptimal substitutes be administered instead. Previous studies have focused on parental refusal of treatment and when this should be permitted, but the ethics of requests for suboptimal treatment has not been explored. Methods The paper consists of two parts: an empirical analysis and an ethical analysis. We performed an online survey with a sample of the general public to assess respondents’ thresholds for acceptable harm and (...) expense resulting from parental choice, and the role that religion played in their judgement. We also identified and applied existing ethical frameworks to the case described in the survey to compare theoretical and empirical results. Results Two hundred and forty-two Mechanical Turk workers took our survey and there were 178 valid responses. Respondents’ agreement to provide treatment decreased as the risk or cost of the requested substitute increased. More than 50% of participants were prepared to provide treatment that would involve a small absolute increased risk of death for the child and a cost increase of US$<500, respectively. Religiously motivated requests were significantly more likely to be allowed. Existing ethical frameworks largely yielded ambiguous results for the case. There were clear inconsistencies between the theoretical and empirical results. Conclusion Drawing on both survey results and ethical analysis, we propose a potential model and thresholds for deciding about the permissibility of suboptimal treatment requests. (shrink)
Eleven original essays discuss a range of puzzling philosophical questions about fictional characters, and more generally about fictional objects. For example, they ask questions like the following: Do they really exist? What would fictional objects be like if they existed? Do they exist eternally? Are they created? Who by? When and how? Can they be destroyed? If so, how? Are they abstract or concrete? Are they actual? Are they complete objects? Are they possible objects? How many fictional objects are there? (...) What are their identity conditions? What kinds of attitudes can we have towards them? This volume will be a landmark in the philosophical debate about fictional objects, and will influence higher-level debates within metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
Why are we conscious? What does consciousness enable us to do that cannot be done by zombies in the dark? This paper argues that introspective consciousness probably co-evolved as a "spandrel" along with our more useful ability to represent the mental states of other people. The first part of the paper defines and motivates a conception of consciousness as a kind of "double vision" – the perception of how things seem to us as well as what they are – along (...) lines recently explored by Peter Carruthers. The second part explains the basic socioepistemic function of consciousness and suggests an evolutionary pathway to this cognitive capacity that begins with predators and prey. The third part discusses the relevance of these considerations to the traditional problem of other minds. (shrink)
This article examines four leading multi-stakeholder labour monitoring organizations. All operating in the maquiladora industry, these organizations are viewed in light of the growing global trend toward industry self-regulation, or what has been referred to as the 'global out-sourcing of regulation'. Their Board compositions, codes of conduct and monitoring and enforcement strategies are all examined as a means of tentatively positioning these organizations along an 'egoist-instrumentalist-moralist' ethical culture continuum. Such a framing provides insights into the perceived salience of these organizations' (...) broader stakeholders, the effectiveness of codes of conduct on workplace practices more generally, and the role that ethics plays in the governance and accountability of these increasingly important types of organizations. (shrink)
This study responds to suggestions that business-school faculty are promoting distorted views of human nature and out-dated notions of ethics. Specifically, the paper examines in-depth interviews with a sample of 15 faculty centrally-positioned within the field’s symbolic market, namely, academics who completed their Ph.D. programs in the same institutional space as the editors of five top accounting journals. The paper finds that ethics are for the most part important to these individuals, but that the field’s general adherence to the neoclassical (...) economic model creates pressures that militate against a deeper concern for and more adequate treatment of the topic. (shrink)
Gini coefficients, which measure gross inequalities rather than their unfair components, are often used as proxy measures of absolute or relative distributive injustice in Western societies. This presupposes that the fair inequalities in these societies are small and stable enough to be ignored. This article presents a model for a series of ideal, perfectly just societies, where comfortable lives are equally available to everyone, and calculates the Gini coefficients for each. According to this model, inequalities produced by age and other (...) demographic factors, together with reasonable choices under equal opportunity, can raise the Gini coefficients for perfectly just societies to levels at least as high as those of any current Western country, and can as easily account for differences in Gini coefficients between such societies or within one such society over time. If Gini coefficients at these levels are possible for ideal societies without distributive injustice, then they should not be used as proxy measures of distributive injustice in real societies. (shrink)
Ce texte propose une définition de la conscience de soi et explique en quoi cette capacité naît du monde social. Il est postulé que ce dernier permet un mouvement de recul - une «distanciation » - par rapport à soi, et que le cerveau reproduit ce mouvement grâce à certains processus cognitifs qui en ont été imprimés. Parmi ceux-ci, on retrouve le langage intérieur, qui, par analogie, agirait comme un miroir interne capable de confronter l'expérience subjective à elle-même; de cette (...) confrontation naîtrait le soi. Un argument est présenté en faveur de la supériorité du langage intérieur sur d'autres processus cognitifs impliqués dans la conscience de soi. Le problème de la conscience de soi chez les primates est abordé, et l'article conclut sur diverses réflexions ayant trait à la schizophrénie, la prière, la méditation, et les drogues psychodysleptiques.This text proposes a definition of self-awareness and explains its social origin. It is postulated that the social milieu permits a movement to a more objective perspective for self- perception, and that this movement is then reproduced in the brain by specific cognitive processes. It is suggested that inner speech represents one such cognitive processes, which acts like a mirror to reflect subjective experience back upon itself-, the self would be generated by this reflective activity. It is argued that inner speech has a pre-eminent position among the cognitive processes implicated in self-awareness. The problem of self-awareness in primates is discussed, and the article concludes with ideas concerning schizophrenia, prayer, medi- tation, and psychodysleptic drugs. (shrink)
: Many environmentalists criticize as unecological the emphasis that animal liberationists and animal rights theorists place on preventing animal suffering. The strong form of their objection holds that both theories ab-surdly entail a duty to intervene in wild predation. The weak form holds that animal welfarists must at least regard predation as bad, and that this stance reflects an arrogance toward nature that true environmentalists should reject. This paper disputes both versions of the predation critique. Animal welfarists are not committed (...) to protecting the rabbit from the fox, nor do their principles implicitly deprecate nature. (shrink)
Jonathan Berg’s insightful and lucid book Direct Belief develops a pragmatic account of our intuitions about Frege-cases. More precisely Berg argues that our practice of belief-reporting normally exhibits certain regularities. He argues that utterances of belief reports typically conversationally implicate that the reports adhere to these regularities. And he uses these implicatures to explain our intuitions about Frege-cases. I explore and unpack Berg’s pragmatic account, considering and offering responses to three natural worries that might be raised. In particular, I respond (...) to the objection that the regularities Berg invokes cannot generate the conversational implicatures he claims. I respond to the objection that the regularities Berg invokes do not, in fact, obtain. And I respond to the worry that Berg cannot explain how these regularities might arise in the first place. (shrink)
Confucian ethics play a pivotal role in guiding Chinese thinking and behaviour. Aesthetic leadership is emerging as a promising paradigm in leadership studies. This study investigates the practice of aesthetic leadership in Chinese organizations on the basis of Chinese philosophical foundations. We adopt a process perspective to access the aesthetic constellation of meanings present in the Chinese understanding of leadership, linking normative Confucian values to a pragmatic value rational world view, that rests on an ontology of vaguely defined norms that (...) are malleable to different cultural contexts. Value rational pragmatism is explored in order to develop a deeper understanding of normative aesthetic leadership in China and to contrast it to instrumental aesthetic leadership. We empirically demonstrate the contextual specificity of aesthetic leadership in eight Chinese private- and state-owned enterprises (POEs and SOEs) through qualitative case studies. The findings provide a deeper insight into Chinese aesthetic leadership by proposing a dynamic leadership approach, from both ethical and instrumental perspectives, in the Chinese context. (shrink)
There are things of which it is true to say that there are no such things. How can we resolve this paradox? Panayot Butchvarov argues that there are objects of reference that are not also entities, where the former must merely be thinkable but the latter must be indefinitely re-identifiable. This paper argues that fictional and many other unreal objects are indeed indefinitely re-identifiable, so they must be counted as existing things on Butchvarov's theory. The paradox is best resolved by (...) distinguishing among domains of existence: Sherlock Holmes exists in the unrestricted domain of objects and in the fictional domain created by Conan Doyle, but not in the domain of the real world. Thus to exist and to be real are different things; all objects exist in some domain, but only real objects really exist. (shrink)