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Reasons and Persons

Oxford University Press (1984)

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  1. Utility Monsters for the Fission Age.Rachael Briggs & Daniel Nolan - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (2):392-407.
    One of the standard approaches to the metaphysics of personal identity has some counter-intuitive ethical consequences when combined with maximising consequentialism and a plausible doctrine about aggregation of consequences. This metaphysical doctrine is the so-called ‘multiple occupancy’ approach to puzzles about fission and fusion. It gives rise to a new version of the ‘utility monster’ problem, particularly difficult problems about infinite utility, and a new version of a Parfit-style ‘repugnant conclusion’. While the article focuses on maximising consequentialism for simplicity, the (...)
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  • Public Institutions for Cooperative Action: A Reply to James Tooley.Stewart Ranson - 1995 - British Journal of Educational Studies 43 (1):35-42.
    This paper challenges the assumptions underpinning James Tooley's earlier critique in this edition of the Journal of the author's negative assessment of market-led forms of educational provision. In particular, the paper highlights Tooley's failure to acknowledge that the pursuit of self-interest within the market place can be self-defeating. The paper concludes by arguing that deliberative public action is a necessary condition for addressing the major predicaments of our time, including those facing education.
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  • Persuasion and Economic Efficiency: The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Banning Abortion: Julianne Nelson.Julianne Nelson - 1993 - Economics and Philosophy 9 (2):229-252.
    How do economists persuade their readers that one policy is superior to another? A glance at the literature on welfare economics quickly provides the answer to this question: Economists enter policy debates armed with mathematical models, evaluating options on the basis of their consequences. Economists typically classify a policy change as a welfare improvement with respect to the status quo if the gain realized by the winners exceeds the harm sustained by the losers. The best policy becomes the one that (...)
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  • Rejecting Well-Being Invariabilism.Guy Fletcher - 2009 - Philosophical Papers 38 (1):21-34.
    This paper is an attempt to undermine a basic assumption of theories of well-being, one that I call well-being invariabilism. I argue that much of what makes existing theories of well-being inadequate stems from the invariabilist assumption. After distinguishing and explaining well-being invariabilism and well-being variabilism, I show that the most widely-held theories of well-being—hedonism, desire-satisfaction, and pluralist objective-list theories—presuppose invariabilism and that a large class of the objections to them arise because of it. My aim is to show that (...)
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  • Overpopulation and Procreative Liberty.Greg Bognar - 2019 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 22 (3):319-330.
    ABSTRACTA few decades ago, there was a lively debate on the problem of overpopulation. Various proposals to limit population growth and to control fertility were made and debated both in academia a...
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  • The Distinctive Feeling Theory of Pleasure.Ben Bramble - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):201-217.
    In this article, I attempt to resuscitate the perennially unfashionable distinctive feeling theory of pleasure (and pain), according to which for an experience to be pleasant (or unpleasant) is just for it to involve or contain a distinctive kind of feeling. I do this in two ways. First, by offering powerful new arguments against its two chief rivals: attitude theories, on the one hand, and the phenomenological theories of Roger Crisp, Shelly Kagan, and Aaron Smuts, on the other. Second, by (...)
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  • Benatar and the Logic of Betterness.Ben Bradley - 2010 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 4 (2):1-6.
    David Benatar argues that creating someone always harms them. I argue that his master argument rests on a conceptual incoherence.
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  • Primum Non Nocere Mortuis: Bioethics and the Lives of the Dead.Richard H. Dees - 2019 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 44 (6):732-755.
    advanced directivesend-of-life decisionsharming the deadposthumous reproductiontransplant ethics.
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  • Physical Continuity, Self and the Future.Oritsegbubemi Anthony Oyowe - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (1):257-269.
    Jeff McMahan's impressive recent defence of the embodied mind theory of personal identity in his highly acclaimed work The Ethics of Killing has undoubtedly reawakened belief that physical continuity is a necessary component of the relation that matters in our self-interested concern for the future. My aim in this paper is to resist this belief in a somewhat roundabout way. I want to address this belief in a somewhat roundabout way by revisiting a classic defence of the belief that enormous (...)
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  • Mackie on Practical Reason.David Phillips - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):457-468.
    I argue that Mackie's approach to practical reasons is attractive and unjustly neglected. In particular I argue that it is much more plausible than the kind of instrumentalist approach famously articulated by Bernard Williams. This matters for Mackie's arguments for moral skepticism. Contra Richard Joyce, I argue that it is a serious mistake to invoke instrumentalism in arguing for moral skepticism.
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  • Believing in Reincarnation.Mikel Burley - 2012 - Philosophy 87 (2):261-279.
    Is it absurd to believe that, in the absence of bodily continuity, personal identity could be retained? Bernard Williams argued for an affirmative answer to this question partly on the basis of a well-known thought experiment. Some other philosophers, including D. Z. Phillips, have accepted, or appear to have accepted, Williams' conclusion.Yet the argument has the consequence of dismissing as absurd the sorts of reincarnation beliefs which, within their proper contexts, have a meaningful role in the lives of many millions (...)
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  • Ethical Theories and the Transparency Condition.Johan Brännmark - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (5):449-462.
    Following John Rawls, writers like Bernard Williams and Christine Korsgaard have suggested that a transparency condition should be put on ethical theories. The exact nature of such a condition and its implications is however not anything on which there is any consensus. It is argued here that the ultimate rationale of transparency conditions is epistemic rather than substantively moral, but also that it clearly connects to substantive concerns about moral psychology. Finally, it is argued that once a satisfactory form of (...)
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  • La Pensée Sans Sujet Pensant.Paul Bernier - 2010 - Dialogue 49 (4):589-602.
    Since Hume, some philosophers deny that conscious thinking requires the existence of a thinking subject. This claim is well illustrated by LichtenbergI thinkThinking is going on” (Es denkt). Bernard Williams has argued that the claim that there can be thinking without a thinking subject is incoherent. My purpose, in this paper, is to suggest an interpretation of that claim which overcomes the problem raised by Williams.
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  • Descartes Defended.Christopher Peacocke - 2012 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):109-125.
    Drawing upon a conception of the metaphysics of conscious states and of first-person content, we can argue that Descartes's transition ‘Cogito ergo sum’ is both sound and one he is entitled to make. We can nevertheless formulate a version of Lichtenberg's objection that can still be raised after Bernard Williams's discussion. I argue that this form of Lichtenberg's revenge can also be undermined. In doing so it helps to compare the metaphysics of subjects, worlds and times. The arguments also apply (...)
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  • Against the Tedium of Immortality.Donald W. Bruckner - 2012 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (5):623-644.
    Abstract In a well-known paper, Bernard Williams argues that an immortal life would not be worth living, for it would necessarily become boring. I examine the implications for the boredom thesis of three human traits that have received insufficient attention in the literature on Williams? paper. First, human memory decays, so humans would be entertained and driven by things that they experienced long before but had forgotten. Second, even if memory does not decay to the extent necessary to ward off (...)
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  • The Reasons That Matter.Stephen Finlay - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):1 – 20.
    Bernard Williams's motivational reasons-internalism fails to capture our first-order reasons judgements, while Derek Parfit's nonnaturalistic reasons-externalism cannot explain the nature or normative authority of reasons. This paper offers an intermediary view, reformulating scepticism about external reasons as the claim not that they don't exist but rather that they don't matter. The end-relational theory of normative reasons is proposed, according to which a reason for an action is a fact that explains why the action would be good relative to some end, (...)
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  • Williams, Nietzsche, and the Meaninglessness of Immortality.Adrian Moore - 2006 - Mind 115 (458):311-330.
    In this essay I consider the argument that Bernard Williams advances in ‘The Makropolus Case’ for the meaninglessness of immortality. I also consider various counter-arguments. I suggest that the more clearly these counter-arguments are targeted at the spirit of Williams's argument, rather than at its letter, the less clearly they pose a threat to it. I then turn to Nietzsche, whose views about the eternal recurrence might appear to make him an opponent of Williams. I argue that, properly interpreted, these (...)
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  • The Unity and Commensurability of Pleasures and Pains.Ole Martin Moen - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (2):527-543.
    In this paper I seek to answer two interrelated questions about pleasures and pains: (i) The question of unity: Do all pleasures share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pleasures, and do all pains share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pains? (ii) The question of commensurability: Are all pleasures and pains rankable on a single, quantitative hedonic scale? I argue that our intuitions draw us in opposing directions: (...)
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  • Hedonic Tone and the Heterogeneity of Pleasure.Ivar Labukt - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (2):172-199.
    Some philosophers have claimed that pleasures and pains are characterized by their particular or . Most contemporary writers reject this view: they hold that hedonic states have nothing in common except being liked or disliked (alternatively: pursued or avoided) for their own sake. In this article, I argue that the hedonic tone view has been dismissed too quickly: there is no clear introspective or scientific evidence that pleasures do not share a phenomenal quality. I also argue that analysing hedonic states (...)
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  • The Reduction of Sensory Pleasure to Desire.Chris Heathwood - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 133 (1):23-44.
    One of the leading approaches to the nature of sensory pleasure reduces it to desire: roughly, a sensation qualifies as a sensation of pleasure just in case its subject wants to be feeling it. This approach is, in my view, correct, but it has never been formulated quite right; and it needs to be defended against some compelling arguments. Thus the purpose of this paper is to discover the most defensible formulation of this rough idea, and to defend it against (...)
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  • Desire Satisfactionism and Hedonism.Chris Heathwood - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 128 (3):539-563.
    Hedonism and the desire-satisfaction theory of welfare are typically seen as archrivals in the contest over identifying what makes one's life go best. It is surprising, then, that the most plausible form of hedonism just is the most plausible form of desire satisfactionism. How can a single theory of welfare be a version of both hedonism and desire satisfactionism? The answer lies in what pleasure is: pleasure is, in my view, the subjective satisfaction of desire. This thesis about pleasure is (...)
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  • Parental Planning and New Reproductive Technologies.Oliver Feeney - 2011 - Res Publica 17 (3):303-309.
  • Parenting and Intergenerational Justice: Why Collective Obligations Towards Future Generations Take Second Place to Individual Responsibility. [REVIEW]M. L. J. Wissenburg - 2011 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 24 (6):557-573.
    Theories of intergenerational obligations usually take the shape of theories of distributive (social) justice. The complexities involved in intergenerational obligations force theorists to simplify. In this article I unpack two popular simplifications: the inevitability of future generations, and the Hardinesque assumption that future individuals are a burden on society but a benefit to parents. The first assumption obscures the fact that future generations consist of individuals whose existence can be a matter of voluntary choice, implying that there are individuals who (...)
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  • Playing with Ethics: Games, Norms and Moral Freedom.Peter Danielson - 2005 - Topoi 24 (2):221-227.
    Morality is serious yet it needs to be reconciled with the free play of alternatives that characterizes rational and ethical agency. Beginning with a sketch of the seriousness of morality modeled as a constraint, this paper introduces a technical conception of play as degrees of freedom. We consider two ways to apply game theory to ethics, rationalist and evolutionary game theory, contrasting the way they model moral constraint. Freedom in the rationalist account is problematic, subverting willful commitment. In the evolutionary (...)
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  • Normative Reasons and the Agent-Neutral/Relative Dichotomy.Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (2):227-243.
    The distinction between the agent-relative and the agent-neutral plays a prominent role in recent attempts to taxonomize normative theories. Its importance extends to most areas in practical philosophy, though. Despite its popularity, the distinction remains difficult to get a good grip on. In part this has to do with the fact that there is no consensus concerning the sort of objects to which we should apply the distinction. Thomas Nagel distinguishes between agent-neutral and agent-relative values, reasons, and principles; Derek Parfit (...)
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  • Neo-Lockeanism and Circularity.Scott Campbell - 2001 - Philosophia 28 (1-4):477-489.
  • Sensational Sentences Switched.Georges Rey - 1992 - Philosophical Studies 68 (3):289 - 319.
  • Justice: Metaphysical, After All? [REVIEW]Ryan W. Davis - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):207-222.
    Political liberals, following Rawls, believe that justice should be ‘political’ rather than ‘metaphysical.’ In other words, a conception of justice ought to be freestanding from first-order moral and metaethical views. The reason for this is to ensure that the state’s coercion be justified to citizens in terms that meet political liberalism’s principle of legitimacy. I suggest that privileging a political conception of justice involves costs—such as forgoing the opportunity for political theory to learn from other areas of philosophy. I argue (...)
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  • Desire-Satisfaction and Welfare as Temporal.Dale Dorsey - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (1):151-171.
    Welfare is at least occasionally a temporal phenomenon: welfare benefits befall me at certain times. But this fact seems to present a problem for a desire-satisfaction view. Assume that I desire, at 10am, January 12th, 2010, to climb Mount Everest sometime during 2012. Also assume, however, that during 2011, my desires undergo a shift: I no longer desire to climb Mount Everest during 2012. In fact, I develop an aversion to so doing. Imagine, however, that despite my aversion, I am (...)
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  • On Three Arguments Against Endurantism.Greg Janzen - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):101-115.
    Judith Thomson, David Lewis, and Ted Sider have each formulated different arguments that apparently pose problems for our ordinary claims of diachronic sameness, i.e., claims in which we assert that familiar, concrete objects survive (or persist) through time by enduring as numerically the same entity despite minor changes in their intrinsic or relational properties. In this paper, I show that all three arguments fail in a rather obvious way--they beg the question--and so even though there may be arguments that provide (...)
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  • Quantity of Experience: Brain-Duplication and Degrees of Consciousness. [REVIEW]Nick Bostrom - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (2):185-200.
    If a brain is duplicated so that there are two brains in identical states, are there then two numerically distinct phenomenal experiences or only one? There are two, I argue, and given computationalism, this has implications for what it is to implement a computation. I then consider what happens when a computation is implemented in a system that either uses unreliable components or possesses varying degrees of parallelism. I show that in some of these cases there can be, in a (...)
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  • Why Bariatric Surgery Should Be Given High Priority: An Argument From Law and Morality.Karl Persson - 2014 - Health Care Analysis 22 (4):305-324.
    In recent years, bariatric surgery has become an increasingly popular treatment of obesity. The amount of resources spent on this kind of surgery has led to a heated debate among health care professionals and the general public, as each procedure costs at minimum $14,500 and thousands of patients undergo surgery every year. So far, no substantial argument for or against giving this treatment a high priority has, however, been presented. In this article, I argue that regardless which moral perspective we (...)
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  • Personhood and the Practical.Marya Schechtman - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (4):271-283.
    Traditionally, it has been assumed that metaphysical and practical questions about personhood and personal identity are inherently linked. Neo-Lockean views that draw such a link have been problematic, leading to an opposing view that metaphysical and ethical questions about persons should be sharply distinguished. This paper argues that consideration of this issue suffers from an overly narrow conception of the practical concerns associated with persons that focuses on higher-order capacities and fails to appreciate basic practical concerns more directly connected to (...)
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  • The Use of Genetic Test Information in Insurance: The Argument From Indistinguishability Reconsidered.V. Launis - 2000 - Science and Engineering Ethics 6 (3):299-310.
    In the bioethical literature, discrimination in insurance on the basis of genetic risk factors detected by genetic testing has been defended and opposed on various ethical grounds. One important argument in favour of the practice is offered by those who believe that it is not possible to distinguish between genetic and non-genetic information, at least not for practical policy purposes such as insurance decision-making. According to the argument from indistinguishability, the use of genetic test information for insurance purposes should be (...)
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  • The Primacy of the Virtuous.J. L. A. Garcia - 1990 - Philosophia 20 (1-2):69-91.
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  • Objectivity, Simulation and the Unity of Consciousness: Current Issues in the Philosophy of Mind.Christopher Peacocke - 1995 - Philosophy 70 (273):469-472.
    Notes on Contributors • Preface • Christopher Peacocke, Introduction: The Issues and their Further Development I OBJECTIVE THOUGHT • John Campbell, Objects and Objectivity Commentaries • Bill Brewer, Thoughts about Objects, Places and Times • John O'Keefe, Cognitive Maps, Time and Causality II OBJECTIVITY AND THE UNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS • Susan Hurley, Unity and Objectivity Commentaries • Anthony Marcel, What is Relevant to the Unity of Consciousness? • Michael Lockwood, Issues of Unity and Objectivity III UNDERSTANDING THE MENTAL:THEORY OR SIMULATION (...)
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  • Taking Prudence Seriously.Guy Fletcher - 2019 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: volume 14. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 70-94.
    Philosophers have long theorised about which things make people’s lives go well (and why) and the extent to which morality and self-interest can be reconciled. By contrast, we have spent little time on meta-prudential questions, questions about prudential discourse. This is surprising given that prudence is, prima facie, a normative form of discourse and, as such, cries out for further investigation of how exactly it functions and whether it has problematic commitments. It also marks a stark contrast from moral discourse, (...)
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  • The Good Cause Account of the Meaning of Life.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):536-562.
    I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally responsible for the (...)
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  • The Problem of Defective Desires.Chris Heathwood - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (4):487 – 504.
    The desire-satisfaction theory of welfare says, roughly, that one's life goes well to the extent that one's desires are satisfied. On standard 'actualist' versions of the theory, it doesn't matter what you desire. So long as you are getting what you actually want – whatever it is – things are going well for you. There is widespread agreement that these standard versions are incorrect, because we can desire things that are bad for us -– in other words, because there are (...)
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  • There Are No Reasons for Affective Attitudes.Barry Maguire - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):779-805.
    A dogma of contemporary ethical theory maintains that the nature of normative support for affective attitudes is the very same as the nature of normative support for actions. The prevailing view is that normative reasons provide the support across the board. I argue that the nature of normative support for affective attitudes is importantly different from the nature of normative support for actions. Actions are indeed supported by reasons. Reasons are gradable and contributory. The support relations for affective attitudes are (...)
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  • Moral Responsibility for Distant Collective Harms.David Zoller - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):995-1010.
    While it is well recognized that many everyday consumer behaviors, such as purchases of sweatshop goods, come at a cost to the global poor, it has proven difficult to argue that even knowing, repeat contributors are somehow morally complicit in those outcomes. Some recent approaches contend that marginal contributions to distant harms are consequences that consumers straightforwardly should have born in mind, which would make consumers seem reckless or negligent. Critics reasonably reply that the bad luck that my innocent purchase (...)
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  • Pressing the Flesh: A Tension in the Study of the Embodied, Embedded Mind.Andy Clark - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):37–59.
    Mind, it is increasingly fashionable to assert, is an intrinsically embodied and environmentally embedded phenomenon. But there is a potential tension between two strands of thought prominent in this recent literature. One of those strands depicts the body as special, and the fine details of a creature’s embodiment as a major constraint on the nature of its mind: a kind of new-wave body-centrism. The other depicts the body as just one element in a kind of equal-partners dance between brain, body (...)
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  • Commodious Knowledge.Christoph Kelp & Mona Simion - unknown
    This paper offers a novel account of the value of knowledge. The account is novel insofar as it advocates a shift in focus from the value of individual items of knowledge to the value of the commodity of knowledge. It is argued that the commodity of knowledge is valuable in at least two ways: in a wide range of areas, knowledge is our way of being in cognitive contact with the world and for us the good life is a life (...)
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  • Pervasive Captivity and Urban Wildlife.Nicolas Delon - forthcoming - Ethics, Policy and Environment.
    Urban animals can benefit from living in cities, but this also makes them vulnerable as they increasingly depend on the advantages of urban life. This article has two aims. First, I provide a detailed analysis of the concept of captivity and explain why it matters to nonhuman animals—because and insofar as many of them have a (non-substitutable) interest in freedom. Second, I defend a surprising implication of the account—pushing the boundaries of the concept while the boundaries of cities and human (...)
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  • Disability and Adaptive Preference.Elizabeth Barnes - 2009 - Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):1-22.
  • Boltzmannian Immortality.Christian Loew - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (4):761-776.
    Plausible assumptions from Cosmology and Statistical Mechanics entail that it is overwhelmingly likely that there will be exact duplicates of us in the distant future long after our deaths. Call such persons “Boltzmann duplicates,” after the great pioneer of Statistical Mechanics. In this paper, I argue that if survival of death is possible at all, then we almost surely will survive our deaths because there almost surely will be Boltzmann duplicates of us in the distant future that stand in appropriate (...)
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  • Preferentism and Self‐Sacrifice.Chris Heathwood - 2011 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (1):18-38.
    According to the argument from self-sacrifice, standard, unrestricted desire-based theories of welfare fail because they have the absurd implication that self-sacrifice is conceptually impossible. I attempt to show that, in fact, the simplest imaginable, completely unrestricted desire-based theory of well-being is perfectly compatible with the phenomenon of self-sacrifice – so long as the theory takes the right form. I go on to consider a new argument from self-sacrifice against this simple theory, which, I argue, also fails. I conclude that, contrary (...)
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  • Content Externalism and the Epistemic Conception of the Self.Brie Gertler - 2007 - Philosophical Issues 17 (1):37-56.
    Our fundamental conception of the self seems to be, broadly speaking, epistemic: selves are things that have thoughts, undergo experiences, and possess reasons for action and belief. In this paper, I evaluate the consequences of this epistemic conception for the widespread view that properties like thinking that arthritis is painful are relational features of the self.
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  • Have We Solved the Non-Identity Problem?Fiona Woollard - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):677-690.
    Our pollution of the environment seems set to lead to widespread problems in the future, including disease, scarcity of resources, and bloody conflicts. It is natural to think that we are required to stop polluting because polluting harms the future individuals who will be faced with these problems. This natural thought faces Derek Parfit’s famous Non-Identity Problem ( 1984 , pp. 361–364). The people who live on the polluted earth would not have existed if we had not polluted. Our polluting (...)
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  • Identity and Distinctness in Online Interaction: Encountering a Problem for Narrative Accounts of Self.Alexander D. Carruth & David W. Hill - 2015 - Ethics and Information Technology 17 (2):103-112.
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