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The possibility of parity

Ethics 112 (4):659-688 (2002)

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  1. Indeterminacy and the Principle of Need.Herlitz Anders - 2017 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (1):1-14.
    The principle of need—the idea that resources should be allocated according to need—is often invoked in priority setting in the health care sector. In this article, I argue that a reasonable principle of need must be indeterminate, and examine three different ways that this can be dealt with: appendicizing the principle with further principles, imposing determinacy, or empowering decision makers. I argue that need must be conceptualized as a composite property composed of at least two factors: health shortfall and capacity (...)
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  • On Parfit’s Wide Dual Person-Affecting Principle.Michal Masny - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278):114-139.
    In the posthumously published ‘Future People, the Non-Identity Problem, and Person-Affecting Principles’, Derek Parfit presents a novel axiological principle which he calls the Wide Dual Person-Affecting Principle and claims that it does not imply the Repugnant Conclusion. This paper shows that even the best version of Parfit's principle cannot avoid this conclusion. That said, accepting such a principle makes embracing the Repugnant Conclusion more justifiable. This paper further addresses important questions which Parfit left unanswered concerning: the relative importance of individual (...)
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  • Value and Preference Relations: Are They Symmetric?Mauro Rossi - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (3):239-253.
    According to Wlodek Rabinowicz's fitting-attitude analysis of comparative value, it is possible to analyse both standard and non-standard value relations in terms of the standard preference relations and two levels of normativity. In a recent article, however, Johan Gustafsson has argued that Rabinowicz's analysis violates a principle of value–preference symmetry, according to which for any value relation, there is a corresponding preference relation. Gustafsson has proposed an alternative analysis which respects this principle and which allegedly accounts for the idea that (...)
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  • The Aim of a Theory of Justice.Martijn Boot - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (1):7-21.
    Amartya Sen argues that for the advancement of justice identification of ‘perfect’ justice is neither necessary nor sufficient. He replaces ‘perfect’ justice with comparative justice. Comparative justice limits itself to comparing social states with respect to degrees of justice. Sen’s central thesis is that identifying ‘perfect’ justice and comparing imperfect social states are ‘analytically disjoined’. This essay refutes Sen’s thesis by demonstrating that to be able to make adequate comparisons we need to identify and integrate criteria of comparison. This is (...)
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  • Parity, Incomparability and Rationally Justified Choice.Martijn Boot - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 146 (1):75 - 92.
    This article discusses the possibility of a rationally justified choice between two options neither of which is better than the other while they are not equally good either (‘3NT’). Joseph Raz regards such options as incomparable and argues that reason cannot guide the choice between them. Ruth Chang, by contrast, tries to show that many cases of putative incomparability are instead cases of parity—a fourth value relation of comparability, in addition to the three standard value relations ‘better than’, ‘worse than’ (...)
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  • Vagueness, Incomparability, and the Collapsing Principle.Erik Carlson - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):449-463.
    John Broome has argued that incomparability and vagueness cannot coexist in a given betterness order. His argument essentially hinges on an assumption he calls the ‘collapsing principle’. In an earlier article I criticized this principle, but Broome has recently expressed doubts about the cogency of my criticism. Moreover, Cristian Constantinescu has defended Broome’s view from my objection. In this paper, I present further arguments against the collapsing principle, and try to show that Constantinescu’s defence of Broome’s position fails.
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  • Are Moral Reasons Morally Overriding?Douglas W. Portmore - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):369-388.
    In this paper, I argue that those moral theorists who wish to accommodate agent-centered options and supererogatory acts must accept both that the reason an agent has to promote her own interests is a nonmoral reason and that this nonmoral reason can prevent the moral reason she has to sacrifice those interests for the sake of doing more to promote the interests of others from generating a moral requirement to do so. These theorists must, then, deny that moral reasons morally (...)
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  • Desires as Additional Reasons? The Case of Tie-Breaking.Attila Tanyi - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (2):209-227.
    According to the Desire-Based Reasons Model reasons for action are provided by desires. Many, however, are critical about the Model holding an alternative view of practical reason, which is often called valued-based. In this paper I consider one particular attempt to refute the Model, which advocates of the valued-based view often appeal to: the idea of reason-based desires. The argument is built up from two premises. The first claims that desires are states that we have reason to have. The second (...)
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  • Moorean Pluralism as a Solution to the Incommensurability Problem.Justin Klocksiem - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 153 (3):335 – 49.
    Several prominent ethical philosophers have attempted to demonstrate that there exist instances or types of value that are of crucial moral significance but which cannot legitimately be compared with one another. Bernard Williams and Michael Stocker, for example, argue that it can sometimes be rational to regret having chosen the all-things-considered better of two alternatives, and that this sense of regret entails that the goodness of the worse option is not made up for by and is therefore incommensurable with that (...)
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  • Ranking Policy Options for Sustainable Development.Georg Brun & Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn - 2008 - Poiesis and Praxis 5 (1):15-31.
    Sustainable development calls for choices among alternative policy options. It is a common view that such choices can be justified by appealing to an evaluative ranking of the options with respect to how their consequences affect a broad range of prudential and moral values. Three philosophically motivated proposals for analysing evaluative rankings are discussed: the measured merits model (e.g. Chang), the ordered values model (e.g. Griffin), and the permissible preference orderings model (Rabinowicz). The analysis focuses on the models’ potential for (...)
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  • Superhard Choices.Miguel F. Dos Santos - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-18.
    Sometimes, when comparing a pair of items, it appears that neither is better than the other, nor that they are equally good, relative to a certain value that they bear. Cases of this kind have come to be referred to as superhard comparisons. What grounds superhard comparisons? On the dominant views, held by Joseph Raz and Ruth Chang, they are grounded, at least partially, in the failure of the three classic value relations—‘better than’, ‘worse than’, and ‘equally good’. On an (...)
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  • Moral and Vocational Dilemmas Meet the Common Currency Hypothesis: A Contribution to Value Commensurability.Eleonora Viganò & Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-20.
    Moral dilemmas have long been debated in moral philosophy without reaching a definitive consensus. The majority of value pluralists attribute their origin to the incommensurability of moral values, i.e. the statement that, since moral values are many and different in nature, they may conflict and cannot be compared. Neuroscientific studies on the neural common currency show that the comparison between allegedly incompatible alternatives is a practical possibility, namely it is the basis of the way in which the agent evaluates choice (...)
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  • Do Epistemic Reasons Bear on the Ought Simpliciter?Susanne Mantel - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):214-227.
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  • Incommensurability as Vagueness: A Burden-Shifting Argument.Luke Elson - 2017 - Theoria (4):341-363.
    Two options are ‘incommensurate’ when neither is better than the other, but they are not equally good. Typically, we will say that one option is better in some ways, and the other in others, but neither is better ‘all things considered’. It is tempting to think that incommensurability is vagueness—that it is indeterminate which is better—but this ‘vagueness view’ of incommensurability has not proven popular. I set out the vagueness view and its implications in more detail, and argue that it (...)
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  • Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences.Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously to agents with incomplete (...)
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  • Rational Choice and the Transitivity of Betterness.Toby Handfield - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (3):584-604.
    If A is better than B and B is better than C, then A is better than C, right? Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels say: No! Betterness is nontransitive, they claim. In this paper, I discuss the central type of argument advanced by Temkin and Rachels for this radical idea, and argue that, given this view very likely has sceptical implications for practical reason, we would do well to identify alternative responses. I propose one such response, which employs the idea (...)
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  • Exceeding Expectations: Stochastic Dominance as a General Decision Theory.Christian Tarsney - manuscript
    The principle that rational agents should maximize expected utility or choiceworthiness is intuitively plausible in many ordinary cases of decision-making under uncertainty. But it is less plausible in cases of extreme, low-probability risk (like Pascal's Mugging), and intolerably paradoxical in cases like the St. Petersburg and Pasadena games. In this paper I show that, under certain conditions, stochastic dominance reasoning can capture most of the plausible implications of expectational reasoning while avoiding most of its pitfalls. Specifically, given sufficient background uncertainty (...)
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  • Imprecise Probability and Higher Order Vagueness.Susanna Rinard - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):257-273.
    There is a trade-off between specificity and accuracy in existing models of belief. Descriptions of agents in the tripartite model, which recognizes only three doxastic attitudes—belief, disbelief, and suspension of judgment—are typically accurate, but not sufficiently specific. The orthodox Bayesian model, which requires real-valued credences, is perfectly specific, but often inaccurate: we often lack precise credences. I argue, first, that a popular attempt to fix the Bayesian model by using sets of functions is also inaccurate, since it requires us to (...)
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  • Parity, Imprecise Comparability, and the Repugnant Conclusion.Ruth Chang - 2016 - Theoria 82 (2):183-215.
    This article explores the main similarities and differences between Derek Parfit’s notion of imprecise comparability and a related notion I have proposed of parity. I argue that the main difference between imprecise comparability and parity can be understood by reference to ‘the standard view’. The standard view claims that 1) differences between cardinally ranked items can always be measured by a scale of units of the relevant value, and 2) all rankings proceed in terms of the trichotomy of ‘better than’, (...)
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  • The Population Ethics of Belief: In Search of an Epistemic Theory X.Richard Pettigrew - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):336-372.
    Consider Phoebe and Daphne. Phoebe has credences in 1 million propositions. Daphne, on the other hand, has credences in all of these propositions, but she's also got credences in 999 million other propositions. Phoebe's credences are all very accurate. Each of Daphne's credences, in contrast, are not very accurate at all; each is a little more accurate than it is inaccurate, but not by much. Whose doxastic state is better, Phoebe's or Daphne's? It is clear that this question is analogous (...)
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  • Population Ethics and Different‐Number‐Based Imprecision.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2016 - Theoria 82 (2):166-181.
    Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges in ethics. In this article, I (...)
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  • Epistemic Decision Theory's Reckoning.Conor Mayo-Wilson & Gregory Wheeler - manuscript
    Epistemic decision theory (EDT) employs the mathematical tools of rational choice theory to justify epistemic norms, including probabilism, conditionalization, and the Principal Principle, among others. Practitioners of EDT endorse two theses: (1) epistemic value is distinct from subjective preference, and (2) belief and epistemic value can be numerically quantified. We argue the first thesis, which we call epistemic puritanism, undermines the second.
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  • A Fixed-Population Problem for the Person-Affecting Restriction.Jacob M. Nebel - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    According to the person-affecting restriction, one distribution of welfare can be better than another only if there is someone for whom it is better. Extant problems for the person-affecting restriction involve variable-population cases, such as the nonidentity problem, which are notoriously controversial and difficult to resolve. This paper develops a fixed-population problem for the person-affecting restriction. The problem reveals that, in the presence of incommensurable welfare levels, the person-affecting restriction is incompatible with minimal requirements of impartial beneficence even in fixed-population (...)
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  • Epistemic Existentialism.Laura Frances Callahan - forthcoming - Episteme:1-16.
    Subjectivist permissivism is a prima facie attractive view. That is, it's plausible to think that what's rational for people to believe on the basis of their evidence can vary if they have different frameworks or sets of epistemic standards. In this paper, I introduce an epistemic existentialist form of subjectivist permissivism, which I argue can better address “the arbitrariness objection” to subjectivist permissivism in general. According to the epistemic existentialist, it's not just that what's rational to believe on the basis (...)
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  • What Will Be Best for Me? Big Decisions and the Problem of Inter‐World Comparisons.Peter Baumann - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (2):253-273.
    Big decisions in a person’s life often affect the preferences and standards of a good life which that person’s future self will develop after implementing her decision. This paper argues that in such cases the person might lack any reasons to choose one way rather than the other. Neither preference-based views nor happiness-based views of justified choice offer sufficient help here. The available options are not comparable in the relevant sense and there is no rational choice to make. Thus, ironically, (...)
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  • Imprecise Lexical Superiority and the (Slightly Less) Repugnant Conclusion.James Fanciullo - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2103-2117.
    Recently, Derek Parfit has offered a novel solution to the “Repugnant Conclusion” that compared with the existence of many people whose quality of life would be very high, there is some much larger number of people whose existence would be better but whose lives would be barely worth living. On this solution, qualitative differences between two populations will often entail that the populations are merely “imprecisely” comparable. According to Parfit, this fact allows us to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion without violating (...)
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  • Value Relations Revisited.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2012 - Economics and Philosophy 28 (2):133-164.
    In Rabinowicz, I considered how value relations can best be analysed in terms of fitting pro-attitudes. In the formal model of that paper, fitting pro-attitudes are represented by the class of permissible preference orderings on a domain of items that are being compared. As it turns out, this approach opens up for a multiplicity of different types of value relationships, along with the standard relations of ‘better’, ‘worse’, ‘equally as good as’ and ‘incomparable in value’. Unfortunately, the approach is vulnerable (...)
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  • Value Taxonomy.Wlodek Rabinowicz & Toni Ronnow-Rasmussen - 2015 - In Tobias Brosch & David Sander (eds.), Handbook of Value. Oxford: Oxfocd University Press. pp. 23-42.
    The paper presents main conceptual distinctions underlying much of modern philosophical thinking about value. The introductory Section 1 is followed in Section 2 by an outline of the contrast between non-relational value and relational value. In Section 3, the focus is on the distinction between final and non-final value as well as on different kinds of final value. In Section 4, we consider value relations, such as being better/worse/equally good/on a par. Recent discussions suggest that we might need to considerably (...)
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  • Incommensurability and Moral Value.Mark R. Reiff - 2014 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (3):237-268.
    Some theorists believe that there is a plurality of values, and that in many circumstances these values are incommensurable, or at least incomparable. Others believe that all values are reducible to a single super-value, or that even if there is a plurality of irreducible values these values are commensurable. But I will argue that both sides have got it wrong. Values are neither commensurable nor incommensurable, at least not in the way most people think. We are free to believe in (...)
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  • Value Incomparability and Indeterminacy.Cristian Constantinescu - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (1):57-70.
    Two competing accounts of value incomparability have been put forward in the recent literature. According to the standard account, developed most famously by Joseph Raz, ‘incomparability’ means determinate failure of the three classic value relations ( better than , worse than , and equally good ): two value-bearers are incomparable with respect to a value V if and only if (i) it is false that x is better than y with respect to V , (ii) it is false that x (...)
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  • Can Every Option Be Rationally Impermissible?Chrisoula Andreou - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-9.
    Moving from simple to increasingly sophisticated candidate cases, I argue against the idea that there can be cases in which, due to no fault of the agent or to any ambiguity regarding how things will go depending on which option is selected, all the options available to an agent are rationally impermissible. Whether there are cases that fit this bill—qualifying as what I will label no-fault-or-ambiguity rational dilemmas—depends on the characteristics of conclusive reasons. My reasoning leads me to the view (...)
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  • Good, Period.Richard J. Arneson - 2010 - Analysis 70 (4):731-744.
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  • Values Compared.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2009 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):73-96.
    Gert (2004) has suggested that several different types of value relations, including parity, can be clearly distinguished from each other if one interprets value comparisons as normative assessments of preference, while allowing for two levels of normativity - requirement and permission. While this basic idea is attractive, the particular modeling Gert makes use of is flawed. This paper presents an alternative modeling, developed in Rabinowicz (2008), and a general taxonomy of binary value relations. Another version of value analysis is then (...)
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  • Minimalism About Intention: A Modest Defense.Sergio Tenenbaum - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (3):384-411.
  • Multi-Dimensional Consequentialism and Degrees of Rightness.Vuko Andrić & Attila Tanyi - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):711-731.
    In his recent book, The Dimensions of Consequentialism, Martin Peterson puts forward a new version of consequentialism that he dubs ‘multidimensional consequentialism’. The defining thesis of the new theory is that there are irreducible moral aspects that jointly determine the deontic status of an act. In defending his particular version of multidimensional consequentialism, Peterson advocates the thesis—he calls it DEGREE—that if two or more moral aspects clash, the act under consideration is right to some non-extreme degree. This goes against the (...)
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  • Transformative Choices.Ruth Chang - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):237-282.
    This paper proposes a way to understand transformative choices, choices that change ‘who you are.’ First, it distinguishes two broad models of transformative choice: 1) ‘event-based’ transformative choices in which some event—perhaps an experience—downstream from a choice transforms you, and 2) ‘choice-based’ transformative choices in which the choice itself—and not something downstream from the choice—transforms you. Transformative choices are of interest primarily because they purport to pose a challenge to standard approaches to rational choice. An examination of the event-based transformative (...)
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  • Value Incomparability and Incommensurability.Ruth Chang - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. Oxford University Press.
    This introductory article describes the phenomena of incommensurability and incomparability, how they are related, and why they are important. Since incomparability is the more significant phenomenon, the paper takes that as its focus. It gives a detailed account of what incomparability is, investigates the relation between the incomparability of values and the incomparability of alternatives for choice, distinguishes incomparability from the related phenomena of parity, indeterminacy, and noncomparability, and, finally, defends a view about practical justification that vindicates the importance of (...)
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  • Grounding Practical Normativity: Going Hybrid.Ruth Chang - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):163-187.
    In virtue of what is something a reason for action? That is, what makes a consideration a reason to act? This is a metaphysical or meta-normative question about the grounding of reasons for action. The answer to the grounding question has been traditionally given in ‘pure’, univocal terms. This paper argues that there is good reason to understand the ground of practical normativity as a hybrid of traditional ‘pure’ views. The paper 1) surveys the three leading ‘pure’ answers to the (...)
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  • Are Hard Choices Cases of Incomparability?Ruth Chang - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):106-126.
    This paper presents an argument against the widespread view that ‘hard choices’ are hard because of the incomparability of the alternatives. The argument has two parts. First, I argue that any plausible theory of practical reason must be ‘comparativist’ in form, that is, it must hold that a comparative relation between the alternatives with respect to what matters in the choice determines a justified choice in that situation. If comparativist views of practical reason are correct, however, the incomparabilist view of (...)
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  • Incommensurability (and Incomparability).Ruth Chang - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell. pp. 2591-2604.
    This encyclopedia entry urges what it takes to be correctives to common (mis)understandings concerning the phenomenon of incommensurability and incomparability and briefly outlines some of their philosophical upshots.
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  • Grading in Groups.Michael Morreau - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):323-352.
    Juries, committees and experts panels commonly appraise things of one kind or another on the basis of grades awarded by several people. When everybody's grading thresholds are known to be the same, the results sometimes can be counted on to reflect the graders’ opinion. Otherwise, they often cannot. Under certain conditions, Arrow's ‘impossibility’ theorem entails that judgements reached by aggregating grades do not reliably track any collective sense of better and worse at all. These claims are made by adapting the (...)
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  • An Intrapersonal Addition Paradox.Jacob M. Nebel - 2019 - Ethics 129 (2):309-343.
    I present a new argument for the repugnant conclusion. The core of the argument is a risky, intrapersonal analogue of the mere addition paradox. The argument is important for three reasons. First, some solutions to Parfit’s original puzzle do not obviously generalize to the intrapersonal puzzle in a plausible way. Second, it raises independently important questions about how to make decisions under uncertainty for the sake of people whose existence might depend on what we do. And, third, it suggests various (...)
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  • In Defense of an End-Relational Account of Goodness.Brian Coffey - 2014 - Dissertation, University of California, Davis
    What is it exactly that we are attributing to a thing when we judge it to be good? According to the orthodox answer, at least in some cases when we judge that something is good we are attributing to it a monadic property. That is, good things are “just plain good.” I reject the orthodox view. In arguing against it, I begin with the idea that a plausible account of goodness must take seriously the intuitive claim that there is something (...)
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  • Lopsided Lives.Theron Pummer - 2017 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 275-296.
    Intuitively there are many different things that non-derivatively contribute to well-being: pleasure, desire satisfaction, knowledge, friendship, love, rationality, freedom, moral virtue, and appreciation of true beauty. According to pluralism, at least two different types of things non-derivatively contribute to well-being. Lopsided lives score very low in terms of some types of things that putatively non-derivatively contribute to well-being, but very high in terms of other such types of things. I argue that pluralists essentially face a trilemma about lopsided lives: they (...)
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  • All Reasons Are Moral (EARLY DRAFT).Daniel Muñoz - manuscript
    I argue that the distinction between moral (“deontic”) and non-moral (“enticing”) reasons is a bogus one, and that “reasons first” approaches to ethics can’t account for the optionality of prudent self-care (flossing one’s teeth) or supererogatory gifts (of favors and kidneys). Non-moral reasons are, by definition, those that can’t ground moral obligations, even when unopposed by other reasons. But all reasons can ground obligations. When our unopposed reasons of self-interest, e.g., leave things optional, that isn’t due to a lack of (...)
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  • Indeterminate Oughts.J. Robert G. Williams - 2017 - Ethics 127 (3):645-673.
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  • Angst, Indeterminacy and Conflicting Values.Robert Williams - 2016 - Ratio 29 (4):412-433.
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  • The Good, the Bad, and the Transitivity of Better Than.Jacob M. Nebel - 2018 - Noûs 52 (4):874-899.
    The Rachels–Temkin spectrum arguments against the transitivity of better than involve good or bad experiences, lives, or outcomes that vary along multiple dimensions—e.g., duration and intensity of pleasure or pain. This paper presents variations on these arguments involving combinations of good and bad experiences, which have even more radical implications than the violation of transitivity. These variations force opponents of transitivity to conclude that something good is worse than something that isn’t good, on pain of rejecting the good altogether. That (...)
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  • Spectrum Arguments and Hypersensitivity.Theron Pummer - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1729-1744.
    Larry Temkin famously argues that what he calls spectrum arguments yield strong reason to reject Transitivity, according to which the ‘all-things-considered better than’ relation is transitive. Spectrum arguments do reveal that the conjunctions of independently plausible claims are inconsistent with Transitivity. But I argue that there is very strong independent reason to reject such conjunctions of claims, and thus that the fact that they are inconsistent with Transitivity does not yield strong reason to reject Transitivity.
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  • Meaning and More Meaningful. A Modest Measure.Peter Baumann - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3):33-49.
    We often describe lives (or parts of lives) as meaningful or as not meaningful. It is also common to characterize them as more or less meaningful. Some lives, we tend to think, are more meaningful than others. But how then can one compare lives with respect to how much meaning they contain? Can one? This paper argues that (i) only a notion of rough equality can be used when comparing different lives with respect to their meaning, and that (ii) the (...)
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