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What We Together Ought to Do

Ethics 126 (4):955-982 (2016)

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  1. Epistemic Modesty in Ethics.Nicholas Laskowski - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1577-1596.
    Many prominent ethicists, including Shelly Kagan, John Rawls, and Thomas Scanlon, accept a kind of epistemic modesty thesis concerning our capacity to carry out the project of ethical theorizing. But it is a thesis that has received surprisingly little explicit and focused attention, despite its widespread acceptance. After explaining why the thesis is true, I argue that it has several implications in metaethics, including, especially, implications that should lead us to rethink our understanding of Reductive Realism. In particular, the thesis (...)
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  • On Individual and Shared Obligations: In Defense of the Activist’s Perspective.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Mark Budolfson, Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Philosophy and Climate Change. Oxford University Press.
    We naturally attribute obligations to groups, and take such obligations to have consequences for the obligations of group members. The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change provides an urgent case. It seems that we, together, have an obligation to prevent climate catastrophe, and that we, as individuals, have an obligation to contribute. However, understood strictly, attributions of obligations to groups might seem illegitimate. On the one hand, the groups in question—the people alive today, say—are rarely fully-fledged moral agents, making it (...)
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  • Collective Responsibility and Collective Obligations Without Collective Moral Agents.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Saba Bazargan-Forward & Deborah Tollefsen (eds.), Handbook of Collective Responsibility. Routledge.
    It is commonplace to attribute obligations to φ or blameworthiness for φ-ing to groups even when no member has an obligation to φ or is individually blameworthy for not φ-ing. Such non-distributive attributions can seem problematic in cases where the group is not a moral agent in its own right. In response, it has been argued both that non-agential groups can have the capabilities requisite to have obligations of their own, and that group obligations can be understood in terms of (...)
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  • Wouldn't It Be Nice? Moral Rules and Distant Worlds.Abelard Podgorski - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):279-294.
    Traditional rule consequentialism faces a problem sometimes called the ideal world objection—the worry that by looking only at the consequences in worlds where rules are universally adhered to, the theory fails to account for problems that arise because adherence to rules in the real world is inevitably imperfect. In response, recent theorists have defended sophisticated versions of rule consequentialism which are sensitive to the consequences in worlds with less utopian levels of adherence. In this paper, I argue that these attempts (...)
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  • Are My Temporal Parts Agents?Alexander Dietz - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):362-379.
    When we think about ethics, we normally focus on a particular sort of agent: the individual person. Some philosophers have argued that we should rethink the limits of what counts as an ethically relevant unit of agency by expanding outward, and claiming that groups of people can have normative reasons for action. In this paper, I explore whether we can go in the other direction. Are there sub‐personal beings who count as agents with their own reasons for action? In particular, (...)
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  • Collective Action Problems and Conflicting Obligations.Brian Talbot - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):2239-2261.
    Enormous harms, such as climate change, often occur as the result of large numbers of individuals acting separately. In collective action problems, an individual has so little chance of making a difference to these harms that changing their behavior has insignificant expected utility. Even so, it is intuitive that individuals in many collective action problems should not be parts of groups that cause these great harms. This paper gives an account of when we do and do not have obligations to (...)
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  • The No Act Objection: Act‐Consequentialism and Coordination Games.Simon Rosenqvist - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (3):179-189.
    Coordination games show that all individuals can do what is right according to act‐consequentialism, even if they do not bring about the best outcome as a group. This creates two problems for act‐consequentialism. First, it cannot accommodate the intuition that there is some moral failure in these cases. Second, its formulation as a criterion of rightness conflicts with the underlying act‐consequentialist concern that the best outcome is brought about. The collectivist view solves these problems by holding that any group of (...)
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  • Dietz on Group-Based Reasons.Magnus Jedenheim - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 15 (3).
    Suppose that groups have reasons to act. Do the members of a group “inherit” the group’s reason? Alexander Dietz has recently argued that they do so in some circumstances. Dietz considers two principles. The first one – which I call the “Simple Principle” – claims that the members of a group always inherit the group’s reason. The second one – which I call “Dietz’s Principle,” which is the one Dietz advocates – claims that the members of a group inherit the (...)
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  • Collective Obligations and the Institutional Critique of Effective Altruism: A Reply to Alexander Dietz.Brian Berkey - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):326-333.
    In a recent article in this journal, Alexander Dietz argues that what I have called the ‘institutional critique of effective altruism’ is best understood as grounded in the claim that ‘EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics, neglecting the importance of our collective obligations’. In this reply, I argue that Dietz’s view does not represent a plausible interpretation of the institutional critiques offered by others, primarily because, unlike Dietz, they appear to believe that their critiques provide reasons to (...)
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  • Collective Harm and the Inefficacy Problem.Julia Nefsky - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (4):e12587.
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  • Effective Altruism and Collective Obligations.Alexander Dietz - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (1):106-115.
    Effective altruism (EA) is a movement devoted to the idea of doing good in the most effective way possible. EA has been the target of a number of critiques. In this article, I focus on one prominent critique: that EA fails to acknowledge the importance of institutional change. One version of this critique claims that EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics. Defenders of EA have objected that this charge either fails to identify a problem with EA's core (...)
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  • Shared Agency.Abraham Sesshu Roth - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Sometimes individuals act together, and sometimes each acts on his or her own. It's a distinction that often matters to us. Undertaking a difficult task collectively can be comforting, even if only for the solidarity it may engender. Or, to take a very different case, the realization (or delusion) that the many bits of rudeness one has been suffering of late are part of a concerted effort can be of significance in identifying what one is up against: the accumulation of (...)
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