Long claimed to be the dominant conception of practical reason, the Humean theory that reasons for action are instrumental, or explained by desires, is the basis for a range of worries about the objective prescriptivity of morality. As a result, it has come under intense attack in recent decades. A wide variety of arguments have been advanced which purport to show that it is false, or surprisingly, even that it is incoherent. Slaves of the Passions aims to set the record (...) straight, by advancing a version of the Humean theory of reasons which withstands this sophisticated array of objections. Schroeder defends a radical new view which, if correct, means that the commitments of the Humean theory have been widely misunderstood. Along the way, he raises and addresses questions about the fundamental structure of reasons, the nature of normative explanations, the aims of and challenges facing reductive views in metaethics, the weight of reasons, the nature of desire, moral epistemology, and most importantly, the relationship between agent-relational and agent-neutral reasons for action. (shrink)
Like much in this book, the title and dust jacket illustration are clever. The first evokes Hume's remark in the Treatise that ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.’ The second, which represents a cross between a dance-step and a clinch, links up with the title and anticipates an example used throughout the book to support its central claims: that Ronnie, unlike Bradley, has a reason to go to a party – namely, that there will (...) be dancing at the party – because Ronnie, unlike Bradley, loves dancing. So, the explanation of why Ronnie's and Bradley's reasons differ lies in their respective psychologies.Schroeder argues for a version of the Humean Theory of Reasons he calls Hypotheticalism, which says that every reason is explained by a desire in the same way as Ronnie's is. Schroeder argues that on almost every count, Hypotheticalism is as good as, or preferable to, the Humean and non-Humean alternatives; and he defends it against an array of objections. For example, he explains that while Hypotheticalism claims that ‘desires have to serve in the explanation of every reason because desires are part of the correct analysis of reasons’, it does not claim that a desire that explains a reason is part of that reason: rather it is a background condition for it. This, Schroeder argues, allows him to rebut a variety of objections that depend on conflating reasons with their background conditions. Other …. (shrink)
To desire something is a condition familiar to everyone. It is uncontroversial that desiring has something to do with motivation, something to do with pleasure, and something to do with reward. Call these "the three faces of desire." The standard philosophical theory at present holds that the motivational face of desire presents its unique essence--to desire a state of affairs is to be disposed to act so as to bring it about. A familiar but less standard account holds the hedonic (...) face of desire to reveal to true nature of desire. In this view, to desire something is to tend to pleasure if it seems that the desired state of affairs has been achieved, or displeasure if it seems otherwise, thus tying desire to feelings instead of actions. In Three Faces of Desire, Schroeder goes beyond actions and feelings to advance a novel and controversial theory of desire that puts the focus on desire's neglected face, reward. Informed by contemporary science as much as by the philosophical tradition, Three Faces of Desire discusses recent scientific discoveries that tell us much about the way that actions and feelings are produced in the brain. In particular, recent experiments reveal that a distinctive system is responsible for promoting action, on the one hand, and causing feelings of pleasure and displeasure, on the other. This system, the brain's reward system, is the causal origin of both action and feeling, and is the key to understanding the nature of desire. (shrink)
According to noncognitivists, when we say that stealing is wrong, what we are doing is more like venting our feelings about stealing or encouraging one another not to steal, than like stating facts about morality. These ideas challenge the core not only of much thinking about morality and metaethics, but also of much philosophical thought about language and meaning. _Noncognitivism in Ethics_ is an outstanding introduction to these theories, ranging from their early history through the latest contemporary developments. Beginning with (...) a general introduction to metaethics, Mark Schroeder introduces and assesses three principal kinds of noncognitivist theory: the speech-act theories of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare, the expressivist theories of Blackburn and Gibbard, and hybrid theories. He pays particular attention both to the philosophical problems about what moral facts could be about or how they could matter which noncognitivism seeks to solve, and to the deep problems that it faces, including the task of explaining both the nature of moral thought and the complexity of moral attitudes, and the ‘Frege-Geach’ problem. Schroeder makes even the most difficult material accessible by offering crucial background along the way. Also included are exercises at the end of each chapter, chapter summaries, and a glossary of technical terms - making _Noncognitivism in Ethics_ essential reading for all students of ethics and metaethics. (shrink)
Mark Schroeder has recently offered a solution to the problem of distinguishing between the so-called " right " and " wrong " kinds of reasons for attitudes like belief and admiration. Schroeder tries out two different strategies for making his solution work: the alethic strategy and the background-facts strategy. In this paper I argue that neither of Schroeder's two strategies will do the trick. We are still left with the problem of distinguishing the right from the wrong kinds of reasons.
Expressivism - the sophisticated contemporary incarnation of the noncognitivist research program of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare - is no longer the province of metaethicists alone. Its comprehensive view about the nature of both normative language and normative thought has also recently been applied to many topics elsewhere in philosophy - including logic, probability, mental and linguistic content, knowledge, epistemic modals, belief, the a priori, and even quantifiers. Yet the semantic commitments of expressivism are still poorly understood and have not been (...) very far developed. As argued within, expressivists have not yet even managed to solve the "negation problem" - to explain why atomic normative sentences are inconsistent with their negations. As a result, it is far from clear that expressivism even could be true, let alone whether it is. Being For seeks to evaluate the semantic commitments of expressivism, by showing how an expressivist semantics would work, what it can do, and what kind of assumptions would be required, in order for it to do it. Building on a highly general understanding of the basic ideas of expressivism, it argues that expressivists can solve the negation problem - but only in one kind of way. It shows how this insight paves the way for an explanatorily powerful, constructive expressivist semantics, which solves many of what have been taken to be the deepest problems for expressivism. But it also argues that no account with these advantages can be generalized to deal with constructions like tense, modals, or binary quantifiers. Expressivism, the book argues, is coherent and interesting, but false. (shrink)
According to a naïve view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, ‘ought’ often expresses a relation between agents and actions – the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naïve view that ‘ought’ always expresses this relation – on the contrary, adherents of the naïve view are happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an epistemic sense, on which it means, (...) roughly, that some proposition is likely to be the case, and adherents of the naïve view are also typically happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an evaluative sense, on which it means, roughly, that were things ideal, some proposition would be the case.1 What is important to the naïve view is not that these other senses of ‘ought’ do not exist, but rather that they are not exhaustive – for what they leave out, is the important deliberative sense of ‘ought’, which is the central subject of moral inquiry about what we ought to do and why – and it is this deliberative sense of ‘ought’ which the naïve view understands to express a relation between agents and actions.2 In contrast, logically and linguistically sophisticated philosophers – with a few notable exceptions3 – have rejected this naïve view. According to a dominant perspective in the interpretation of deontic logic and in linguistic semantics, for example, articulated by Roderick Chisholm (1964) and Bernard Williams (1981) in philosophy and in the dominant paradigm in linguistic semantics as articulated in particular by.. (shrink)
Expressivism - the sophisticated contemporary incarnation of the noncognitivist research program of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare - is no longer the province of metaethicists alone. Its comprehensive view about the nature of both normative language and normative thought has also recently been applied to many topics elsewhere in philosophy - including logic, probability, mental and linguistic content, knowledge, epistemic modals, belief, the a priori, and even quantifiers. [...] Expressivism, the book argues, is coherent and interesting, but false.
Symposium contribution on Mark Schroeder's Slaves of the Passions. Argues that Schroeder's account of agent-neutral reasons cannot be made to work, that the limited scope of his distinctive proposal in the epistemology of reasons undermines its plausibility, and that Schroeder faces an uncomfortable tension between the initial motivation for his view and the details of the view he develops.
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)
Philosophers have come to distinguish between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of reasons for belief, intention, and other attitudes. Several theories about the nature of this distinction have been offered, by far the most prevalent of which is the idea that it is, at bottom, the distinction between what are known as ‘object-given’ and ‘state-given’ reasons. This paper argues that the object-given/state-given theory vastly overgeneralizes on a small set of data points, and in particular that any adequate account of the distinction (...) between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of reason must allow state-given reasons to be of the right kind. The paper has three main goals, corresponding to its three main parts. In part 1 I set up the problem by introducing the right-kind/wrong-kind distinction, the object-given/state-given distinction, and the object-given/state-given theory, according to which the former distinction simply amounts to the latter. Part 2 presents the main argument of the paper: I argue against the object-given/state-given theory by showing that all of the earmarks of the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of reason apply to reasons not to intend and not to believe, but that these cases can’t be captured by the object-given/state-given theory. Finally, in part 3 I use these arguments to motivate and explore a more general hypothesis about the rightkind/wrong-kind distinction, and explore some of the consequences of rejecting the object-given/stategiven theory. (shrink)
What is it to have a reason? According to one common idea, the "Factoring Account", you have a reason to do A when there is a reason for you to do A which you have--which is somehow in your possession or grasp. In this paper, I argue that this common idea is false. But though my arguments are based on the practical case, the implications of this are likely to be greatest in epistemology: for the pitfalls we fall into when (...) trying to defend the Factoring Account reflect very well the major developments in empiricist epistemology during the 20th century. I conjecture that this is because epistemologists have been--wrongly--wedded to the Factoring Account about evidence, which I conjecture is a certain kind of reason to believe. (shrink)
Intentions matter. They have some kind of normative impact on our agency. Something goes wrong when an agent intends some end and fails to carry out the means she believes to be necessary for it, and something goes right when, intending the end, she adopts the means she thinks are required. This has even been claimed to be one of the only uncontroversial truths in ethical theory. But not only is there widespread disagreement about why this is so, there is (...) widespread disagreement about in what sense it is so. In this paper I explore an underdeveloped answer to the question of in what sense it is so, and argue that resolving an apparent difficulty with this view leads to an attractive picture about why it is so. (shrink)
Several authors have recently endorsed the thesis that there is what has been called pragmatic encroachment on knowledge—in other words, that two people who are in the same situation with respect to truth-related factors may differ in whether they know something, due to a difference in their practical circumstances. This paper aims not to defend this thesis, but to explore how it could be true. What I aim to do, is to show how practical factors could play a role in (...) defeating knowledge by defeating epistemic rationality—the very kind of rationality that is entailed by knowledge, and in which Pascalian considerations do not play any role—even though epistemic rationality consists in having adequate evidence. (shrink)
This paper is a survey of recent ‘hybrid’ approaches to metaethics, according to which moral sentences, in some sense or other, express both beliefs and desires. I try to show what kinds of theoretical issues come up at the different choice points we encounter in developing such a view, to raise some problems and explain where they come from, and to begin to get a sense for what the payoff of such views can be, and what they will need to (...) do in order to earn that payoff. (shrink)
forthcoming in reisner and steglich-peterson, eds., Reasons for Belief If I believe, for no good reason, that P and I infer (correctly) from this that Q, I don’t think we want to say that I ‘have’ P as evidence for Q. Only things that I believe (or could believe) rationally, or perhaps, with justification, count as part of the evidence that I have. It seems to me that this is a good reason to include an epistemic acceptability constraint on evidence (...) possessed…1 It is a truism that adopting an unjustified belief does not put you in a better evidential position with respect to believing its consequences. This truism has led many philosophers to assume that there must, at a minimum, be a justification condition (and perhaps even a knowledge condition) on what it takes to count as having evidence. This is the best (or only) possible explanation of the truism, these philosophers have believed. This paper explores an alternative explanation for the truism. According to the alternative explanation that I will offer, unjustified beliefs do not put you in a better evidential position with respect to believing their consequences because any evidence you have in virtue of having an unjustified belief is guaranteed to be defeated. Since the lack of justification for a belief guarantees its defeat, I will suggest, we don't need to postulate a special justification condition (much less a knowledge condition) on what it takes to count as having evidence. Why is this important? It is important because the assumption that there must be a justification condition (or perhaps a knowledge condition) on what it takes to count as having evidence places a high bar on what it takes to have evidence - such a high bar that it is difficult to see how this bar could be met in the case of basic, perceptually justified beliefs. As a result, the high bar set by this condition plays a fundamental role, I will claim, in central features of a core dialectic from the epistemology of basic perceptual belief which plays a central role in the debates between internalism and externalism, foundationalism and coherentism, and rationalism and empiricism.. (shrink)
Particularists in ethics emphasize that the normative is holistic, and invite us to infer with them that it therefore defies generalization. This has been supposed to present an obstacle to traditional moral theorizing, to have striking implications for moral epistemology and moral deliberation, and to rule out reductive theories of the normative, making it a bold and important thesis across the areas of normative theory, moral epistemology, moral psychology, and normative metaphysics. Though particularists emphasize the importance of the holism of (...) the normative, however, it is not something that they have been able to explain. In this paper I’ll show how to use a small number of simple and, I’ll argue, independently compelling assumptions in order to both predict and explain the holistic features of the normative with respect to the non-normative. The basic idea of the paper is simple. It is that normative claims are holistic because they are general, rather than because they defy generalization. (shrink)
Allow me to rehearse a familiar scenario. We all know that which ends you have has something to do with what you ought to do. If Ronnie is keen on dancing but Bradley can’t stand it, then the fact that there will be dancing at the party tonight affects what Ronnie and Bradley ought to do in different ways. In short, (HI) you ought, if you have the end, to take the means. But now trouble looms: what if you have (...) dreadful, murderous ends? Ought you to take the means to them? Seemingly not. But fortunately, an assumption made by deontic logics1 comes to the rescue. Since ‘‘ought’’, according to this assumption, is a sentential operator, HI must really be ambiguous. It could be read either as (Narrow) You have the end ! O(you take the means) or as (Wide) O(you have the end ! you take the means). Now if Narrow is true, then you really ought to take the means to your murderous ends. But this doesn’t follow from Wide. All that follows from Wide is that you ought to either take the means to these ends or else give them up. Conclusions: (1) Since HI is on some reading true, but Narrow isn’t, Wide is true. (2) Wide accounts for the relationship between your ends and what you ought to do. This elegant scenario repeats itself in many other domains in which it seems like something can have a bearing on what some particular agent ought to do. Does what you know affect what you ought to do? Do your beliefs about what you ought to do affect what you ought to do? Do your promises affect what you ought to do? Do your beliefs affect what you ought to believe? On each of these counts, the intuitive answer is ‘‘yes’’. And so each of these questions leaves something for the moral philosopher or the epistemologist to investigate. On each count, it seems that what we all know, is that (Account) you ought, if p, to do A. But on each count, the Narrow-scope reading of the ‘‘ought’’ in this claim yields unintuitive consequences. So since Account is true, it must be true on the Wide-scope reading.. (shrink)
My project in Being For is both constructive and negative. The main aim of the book is to take the core ideas of meta-ethical expressivism as far as they can go, and to try to develop a version of expressivism that solves many of the more straightforward open problems that have faced the view without being squarely confronted. In doing so, I develop an expressivist framework that I call biforcated attitude semantics, which I claim has the minimal structural features required (...) in order to solve some of these open problems facing expressivism. I take biforcated attitude semantics to prove that expressivism is a coherent and interesting hypothesis about the semantics of natural languages.So much for the constructive part; having argued that biforcated attitude semantics incorporates the minimal moves required in order to solve a few of the more pressing open questions facing expressivism, I use it in order to productively constrain what an expressivist answer to further open questions must look like. The results, I end up arguing, are ultimately not promising; the very same structural features that expressivists need in order to answer so simple a problem as to explain why ‘P’ and ‘∼P’ are inconsistent sentences lead to a very general problem about how ordinary, non-moral sentences are to end up with the right truth-conditions, and though I show how to finesse this problem for some simple constructions – truth-conditional connectives and the quantifiers – I ultimately argue that it can’t be done for the full range of constructions in natural languages – including terms like modals, tense and binary quantifiers like ‘most’. So even if expressivism is coherent and interesting, it is an extremely unpromising hypothesis about the language that we actually speak.The main theme of the book is that the most fruitful way …. (shrink)
Most philosophers find it puzzling how beliefs could wrong, and this leads them to conclude that they do not. So there is much philosophical work to be done in sorting out whether I am right to say that they do, as well as how this could be so. But in this paper I will take for granted that beliefs can wrong, and ask instead when beliefs wrong. My answer will be that beliefs wrong when they falsely diminish. This answer has (...) three parts: that beliefs wrong only when they are false, that beliefs wrong only when they diminish, and that false diminishment is sufficient for wronging. I will seek to elaborate on and defend all three of these claims, but it is the first to which I will give the most attention. (shrink)
In the 1960s, Peter Geach and John Searle independently posed an important objection to the wide class of 'noncognitivist' metaethical views that had at that time been dominant and widely defended for a quarter of a century. The problems raised by that objection have come to be known in the literature as the Frege-Geach Problem, because of Geach's attribution of the objection to Frege's distinction between content and assertoric force, and the problem has since occupied a great deal of the (...) attention both of defenders of broadly noncognitivist views, and of their critics. In this article I explain Geach and Searle's historical objections, and put the subsequent discussion into dialectical context, paying some attention to the developments along the way and how they have enhanced our overall understanding of the problem. The article covers a lot of territory, so we will only be able to see the highlights, along the way. For further reading, see the Works Cited. (shrink)
It is now generally understood that constraints play an important role in commonsense moral thinking and generally accepted that they cannot be accommodated by ordinary, traditional consequentialism. Some have seen this as the most conclusive evidence that consequentialism is hopelessly wrong,1 while others have seen it as the most conclusive evidence that moral common sense is hopelessly paradoxical.2 Fortunately, or so it is widely thought, in the last twenty-five years a new research program, that of Agent-Relative Teleology, has come to (...) the rescue on all sides. While consequentialism says that every agent ought always to do that action that will bring about the most good, according to Agent- Relative Teleology. (shrink)
This chapter lays out a case that with the proper perspective on the place of epistemology within normative inquiry more generally, it is possible to appreciate what was on the right track about some of the early approaches to the analysis of knowledge, and to improve on the obvious failures which led them to be rejected. Drawing on more general principles about reasons, their weight, and their relationship to justification, it offers answers to problems about defeat and the conditional fallacy (...) that plagued early defeasibility analyses of knowledge and offers a sketch of a contemporary alternative that is motivated by the idea that knowledge requires the right kind of “match” between objective and subjective factors. (shrink)
The basic idea of expressivism is that for some sentences ‘P’, believing that P is not just a matter of having an ordinary descriptive belief. This is a way of capturing the idea that the meaning of some sentences either exceeds their factual/descriptive content or doesn’t consist in any particular factual/descriptive content at all, even in context. The paradigmatic application for expressivism is within metaethics, and holds that believing that stealing is wrong involves having some kind of desire-like attitude, with (...) world-tomind direction of fit, either in place of, or in addition to, being in a representational state of mind with mind-to-world direction of fit. Because expressivists refer to the state of believing that P as the state of mind ‘expressed’ by ‘P’, this view can also be described as the view that ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a state of mind that involves a desire-like attitude instead of, or in addition to, a representational state of mind. According to some expressivists - unrestrained expressivists, as I’ll call them - there need be no special relationship among the different kinds of state of mind that can be expressed by sentences. Pick your favorite state of mind, the unrestrained expressivist allows, and there could, at least in principle, be a sentence that expressed it. Expressivists who seem to have been unrestrained plausibly include Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic, and Simon Blackburn in many of his writings, including his , , and.. (shrink)
Reply to Shafer-Landau, Mcpherson, and Dancy Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9659-0 Authors Mark Schroeder, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
This article considers two important problems for the idea that what we ought to do is determined by the balance of competing reasons. The problems are distinct, but the object of the article is to explore how they admit of a single solution. It is a consequence of this solution that objective reasons—facts that count in favor—are in an important sense less objective than they have consistently been assumed to be. This raises but does not answer the question as to (...) what evidence we ever had that reasons are as objective as has been assumed. (shrink)
Expressivists have a problem with negation. The problem is that they have not, to date, been able to explain why ‘murdering is wrong’ and ‘murdering is not wrong’ are inconsistent sentences. In this paper, I explain the nature of the problem, and why the best efforts of Gibbard, Dreier, and Horgan and Timmons don’t solve it. Then I show how to diagnose where the problem comes from, and consequently how it is possible for expressivists to solve it. Expressivists should accept (...) this solution, I argue, because it is demonstrably the only way of avoiding the problem, and because it generalizes. Once we see how to solve the negation problem, I show, it becomes easy to state a constructive, compositional expressivist semantics for a purely normative language with the expressive power of propositional logic, in which we can for the first time give explanatory, formally adequate expressivist accounts of logical inconsistency, logical entailment, and logical validity. As a corollary, I give what I take to be the first real expressivist explanation of why Geach’s original moral modus ponens argument is genuinely logically valid. This proves that the problem with expressivism cannot be that it can’t account for the logical properties of complex normative sentences. But it does not show that the same solution can work for a language with both normative and descriptive predicates, let alone that expressivists are able to deal with more complex linguistic constructions like tense, modals, or even quantifiers. In the final section, I show what kind of constraints the solution offered here would place expressivists under, in answering these further questions. (shrink)
Daniel Whiting has argued, in this journal, that Mark Schroeder’s analysis of knowledge in terms of subjectively and objectively sufficient reasons for belief makes wrong predictions in fake barn cases. Schroeder has replied that this problem may be avoided if one adopts a suitable account of perceptual reasons. I argue that Schroeder’s reply fails to deal with the general worry underlying Whiting’s purported counterexample, because one can construct analogous potential counterexamples that do not involve perceptual reasons at all. Nevertheless, I (...) claim that it is possible to overcome Whiting’s objection, by showing that it rests on an inadequate characterization of how defeat works in the examples in question. (shrink)
This book offers a lucid and highly readable account of Wittgenstein's philosophy, framed against the background of his extraordinary life and character. Woven together with a biographical narrative, the chapters explain the key ideas of Wittgenstein's work, from his first book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, to his mature masterpiece, the Philosophical Investigations. Severin Schroeder shows that at the core of Wittgenstein's later work lies a startlingly original and subversive conception of the nature of philosophy. In accordance with this conception, Wittgenstein offers (...) no new philosophical doctrines to replace his earlier ones, but seeks to demonstrate how all philosophical theorizing is the result of conceptual misunderstanding. He first diagnoses such misunderstanding at the core of his own earlier philosophy of language and then subjects philosophical views and problems about various mental phenomena understanding, sensations, the will to a similar therapeutic analysis. Schroeder provides a clear and careful account of the main arguments offered by Wittgenstein. He concludes by considering some critical responses to Wittgenstein's work, assessing its legacy for contemporary philosophy. -/- Wittgenstein is ideal for students seeking a clear and concise introduction to the work of this seminal twentieth-century philosopher. (shrink)
This paper defends a simple thesis: that knowledge is belief for reasons that are both objectively and subjectively sufficient. I take a dogmatic approach, devoting the bulk of the paper to an explanation of what this means, and of why it explains both what knowledge is like, and why it is important; the theory is justified by its fruits. I go on to illustrate, by appeal to my main thesis, how knowledge comes to play some of the key roles that (...) it does, including looking at Williamson’s arguments that knowledge is prime and for its distinctive explanatory role, as well as why my account explains and predicts the complicated behavior of knowledge in cases involving defeaters, defeated defeaters, and defeaters whose defeaters are defeated, as well as the different possible kinds of defeat – the primary source of complications in the Gettier literature. These facts are easily explained by the central thesis of the paper, without either giving up on the analysis of knowledge or resorting to arbitrary or ad hoc measures. Since the last five decades of literature might lead one to find it fairly audacious to propose an analysis of knowledge, a final section addresses the putative inductive grounds for general pessimism about the Gettierological project. (shrink)
Many economic measures are structured to reflect ethical values. I describe three attitudes towards this: maximalism, according to which we should aim to build all relevant values into measures; minimalism, according to which we should aim to keep values out of measures; and an intermediate view. I argue the intermediate view is likely correct, but existing versions are inadequate. In particular, economists have strong reason to structure measures to reflect fixed, as opposed to user-assessable, values. This implies that, despite disagreement (...) about precisely how to do so, economists should standardly adjust QALYs and DALYs to reflect egalitarian values. (shrink)
Imagine you are walking down a city street. It is windy and raining. Amidst the bustle you see a young woman. She sits under a railway bridge, hardly protected from the rain and holds a woolen hat containing a small number of coins. You can see that she trembles from the cold. Or imagine seeing an old woman walking in the street at dusk, clutching her bag with one hand and a walking stick with the other. A group of male (...) youths walk behind her without overtaking, drunk and in the mood for mischief. It doesn't need an academic to say what vulnerability is. We can all see it, much more often than we care to. (shrink)
According to a naive view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, 'ought' often expresses a relation between agents and actions—the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naive view that 'ought' always expresses this relation—adherents of the naive view are happy to allow that 'ought' also has an evaluative sense, on which it means, roughly, that were things ideal, some proposition (...) would be the case. What is important to the naive view is that there is also a deliberative sense of 'ought', on which it relates agents to actions. In contrast, logically and linguistically sophisticated philosophers have typically rejected this naive view. According to them, there is no argument-place for an agent in any relation expressed by 'ought', nor is there any argument-place for an action. According to this view, if Jim ought to jam, that is not because there is a special distinctive deliberative ought relation between Jim and jamming; rather, it is because a certain proposition ought to be the case: namely, that Jim jams. This essay defends the naive view, by first arguing that there are two distinct normative senses of 'ought', which actually exhibit different syntactic behavior, and then going on to argue that the deliberative sense of 'ought' relates agents to actions, rather than to propositions. It closes by drawing lessons for a range of issues in moral theory. (shrink)
Theorists of health have, to this point, focused exclusively on trying to define a state—health—that an organism might be in. I argue that they have overlooked the possibility of a comparativist theory of health, which would begin by defining a relation—healthier than—that holds between two organisms or two possible states of the same organism. I show that a comparativist approach to health has a number of attractive features, and has important implications for philosophers of medicine, bioethicists, health economists, and policy (...) makers. (shrink)
It doesn’t seem possible to be a realist about the traditional Christian God while claiming to be able to reduce God talk in naturalistically acceptable terms. Reduction, in this case, seems obviously eliminativist. Many philosophers seem to think that the same is true of the normative—that reductive “realists” about the normative are not really realists about the normative at all, or at least, only in some attenuated sense. This paper takes on the challenge of articulating what it is that makes (...) reductive theological realism look hopeless, with the aim of explaining why we should think that the normative is relevantly different. Although it follows from my diagnosis that reductivists have their work cut out for them, I find nothing which suggests that the prospects for a successful reductive realism about the normative are in any way diminished—particularly for reductive views about reasons. Even reductivists, I argue, can at least aspire to a realism that is robust. (shrink)
This open access book offers insights into the development of the ground-breaking Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (GCC) and the San Code of Research Ethics. Using a new, intuitive moral framework predicated on fairness, respect, care and honesty, both codes target ethics dumping – the export of unethical research practices from a high-income setting to a lower- or middle-income setting. The book is a rich resource of information and argument for any research stakeholder who opposes double (...) standards in research. It will be indispensable for applicants to European Union framework programmes, as the GCC is now a mandatory reference document for EU funding. (shrink)
Summary measures of health, such as the quality-adjusted life year and disability-adjusted life year, have long been known to incorporate a number of value choices. In this paper, though, I show that the value choices in the construction of such measures extend far beyond what is generally recognized. In showing this, I hope both to improve the understanding of those measures by epidemiologists, health economists and policy-makers, and also to contribute to the general debate about the extent to which such (...) measures should be adjusted to reflect ethical values. (shrink)
The framework of natural deduction is extended by permitting rules as assumptions which may be discharged in the course of a derivation. this leads to the concept of rules of higher levels and to a general schema for introduction and elimination rules for arbitrary n-ary sentential operators. with respect to this schema, (functional) completeness "or", "if..then" and absurdity is proved.
This paper addresses the question: ‘what makes reasons sufficient?’ and offers the answer, ‘being at least as weighty as the reasons for the alternatives’. The paper starts by introducing some of the reasons why sufficiency has seemed difficult to understand, particularly in epistemology, and some circumstantial evidence that this has contributed to more general problems in the epistemological literature. It then introduces the positive account of sufficiency, and explains how this captures sufficiency in both the practical and epistemic domains. Finally, (...) the paper shows how once we understand the nature of sufficiency, it is easy to predict the full variety of ways in which rationality – both of action and of belief – can be defeated. (shrink)
This paper addresses the two extensional objections to the Humean Theory of Reasons—that it allows for too many reasons, and that it allows for too few. Although I won’t argue so here, manyof the other objections to the Humean Theoryof Reasons turn on assuming that it cannot successfully deal with these two objections.1 What I will argue, is that the force of the too many and the too few objections to the Humean Theorydepend on whether we assume that Humeans are (...) committed to a thesis about the weight of reasons—one I call Proportionalism. In particular, I’ll show how a version of the Humean Theorythat rejects Proportionalism can reasonablyhope to escape both the too many and the too few objections. This will constitute my defense of this version of the Humean Theory. But then, separately, I will argue that this defense of the Humean Theoryis not ad hoc. I’ll argue that Humeans have no reason to accept Proportionalism in the first place. Or at least, no weightyone. There are three parts to the paper. In Part 1 we introduce the Humean Theoryand the too few reasons objection. I’ll first layout the objection, and then layout the basis for a response on behalf of myfavored version of the Humean Theory. There will be an obvious objection to my defense— but it will turn out to depend on the assumption of Proportionalism. This will constitute myargument that the susceptibilityof the Humean Theoryto.. (shrink)
Recently, a number of philosophers have argued that we can and should “consequentialize” non-consequentialist moral theories, putting them into a consequentialist framework. I argue that these philosophers, usually treated as a group, in fact offer three separate arguments, two of which are incompatible. I show that none represent significant threats to a committed non-consequentialist, and that the literature has suffered due to a failure to distinguish these arguments. I conclude by showing that the failure of the consequentializers’ arguments has implications (...) for disciplines, such as economics, logic, decision theory, and linguistics, which sometimes use a consequentialist structure to represent non-consequentialist ethical theories. (shrink)