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Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options

New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press (2019)

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  1. Morality and Practical Reasons.Douglas W. Portmore - 2021 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    As Socrates famously noted, there is no more important question than how we ought to live. The answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I've just received a substantial raise. What should I do with the extra money? I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I (...)
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  • Consequentializing Agent‐Centered Restrictions: A Kantsequentialist Approach.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    There is, on a given moral view, an agent-centered restriction against performing acts of a certain type if that view prohibits agents from performing an instance of that act-type even to prevent two or more others from each performing a morally comparable instance of that act-type. The fact that commonsense morality includes many such agent-centered restrictions has been seen by several philosophers as a decisive objection against consequentialism. Despite this, I argue that agent-centered restrictions are more plausibly accommodated within a (...)
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  • Exploitation and Effective Altruism.Daniel Muñoz - 2021 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 20 (4):409-423.
    How could it be wrong to exploit—say, by paying sweatshop wages—if the exploited party benefits? How could it be wrong to do something gratuitously bad—like giving to a wasteful charity—if that is better than permissibly doing nothing? Joe Horton argues that these puzzles, known as the Exploitation Problem and All or Nothing Problem, have no unified answer. I propose one and pose a challenge for Horton’s take on the Exploitation Problem.
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  • Consequentializing.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This is an encyclopedia entry on consequentializing. It explains what consequentializing is, what makes it possible, why someone might be motivated to consequentialize, and how to consequentialize a non-consequentialist theory.
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  • Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Dynamic Choice.Chrisoula Andreou - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Sometimes a series of choices do not serve one's concerns well even though each choice in the series seems perfectly well suited to serving one's concerns. In such cases, one has a dynamic choice problem. Otherwise put, one has a problem related to the fact that one's choices are spread out over time. This survey reviews some of the challenging choice situations and problematic preference structures that can prompt dynamic choice problems. It also reviews some proposed solutions, and explains how (...)
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  • Three Forms of Actualist Direct Consequentialism.Shyam Nair - forthcoming - Utilitas.
    One family of maximizing act consequentialist theories are actualist direct theories. Indeed, historically there are at least three different forms of actualist direct consequentialism (due to Bentham, Moore, and contemporary consequentialists). This paper is about the logical differences between these three actualist direct theories and the differences between actualist direct theories and their competitors. Three main points emerge. First, the sharpest separation between actualist direct theories and their competitors concerns the so-called inheritance principle. Second, there are a myriad of other (...)
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  • Consequences of Comparability.Cian Dorr, Jacob M. Nebel & Jake Zuehl - 2021 - Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):70-98.
    We defend three controversial claims about preference, credence, and choice. First, all agents (not just rational ones) have complete preferences. Second, all agents (again, not just rational ones) have real-valued credences in every proposition in which they are confident to any degree. Third, there is almost always some unique thing we ought to do, want, or believe.
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  • Too Far Beyond the Call of Duty: Moral Rationalism and Weighing Reasons.Chris Tucker - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (6):2029-2052.
    The standard account of supererogation holds that Liv is not morally required to jump on a grenade, thereby sacrificing her life, to save the lives of five soldiers. Many proponents defend the standard account by appealing to moral rationalism about requirement. These same proponents hold that Bernie is morally permitted to jump on a grenade, thereby sacrificing his life, to spare someone a mild burn. I argue that this position is unstable, at least as moral rationalism is ordinarily defended. The (...)
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  • Supererogation and Conditional Obligation.Daniel Muñoz & Theron Pummer - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1429–1443.
    There are plenty of classic paradoxes about conditional obligations, like the duty to be gentle if one is to murder, and about “supererogatory” deeds beyond the call of duty. But little has been said about the intersection of these topics. We develop the first general account of conditional supererogation, with the power to solve familiar puzzles as well as several that we introduce. Our account, moreover, flows from two familiar ideas: that conditionals restrict quantification and that supererogation emerges from a (...)
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  • A Holist Balance Scale.Chris Tucker - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-21.
    Scale-based models of weighing reasons face challenges concerning the context-sensitivity of weight, the aggregation of weight, and the methodology for determining what the weights of reasons are. I resolve these challenges.
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  • Pick the Sugar.Seamus Bradley - manuscript
    This paper presents a decision problem called the holiday puzzle. The decision problem is one that involves incommensurable goods and sequences of choices. This puzzle points to a tension between three prima facie plausible, but jointly incompatible claims. I present a way out of the trilemma which demonstrates that it is possible for agents to have incomplete preferences and to be dynamically rational. The solution also suggests that the relationship between preference and rational permission is more subtle than standardly assumed.
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  • Non-Ideal Prescriptions for the Morally Uncertain.Amelia Hicks - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (4):1039-1064.
    Morally speaking, what should one do when one is morally uncertain? Call this the Moral Uncertainty Question. In this paper, I argue that a non-ideal moral theory provides the best answer to the Moral Uncertainty Question. I begin by arguing for a strong ought-implies-can principle---morally ought implies agentially can---and use that principle to clarify the structure of a compelling non-ideal moral theory. I then describe the ways in which one's moral uncertainty affects one's moral prescriptions: moral uncertainty constrains the set (...)
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  • How Am I Supposed to Feel?Andrew T. Forcehimes - 2021 - Philosophia 50 (2):533-542.
    In this essay, I raise a puzzle concerning rational emotions. The puzzle arises from the fact that a handful of very plausible claims seem to commit us to the idea that whether a subject ought to have a certain emotion at a given time in part depends on the fittingness of the intensity of the feelings it involves, and the fittingness of these feelings in part depends on the intensity of the feelings the subject has at that time. Yet this (...)
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  • Practical Moore Sentences.Matthew Mandelkern - 2021 - Noûs 55 (1):39-61.
    I discuss what I call practical Moore sentences: sentences like ‘You must close your door, but I don’t know whether you will’, which combine an order together with an avowal of agnosticism about whether the order will be obeyed. I show that practical Moore sentences are generally infelicitous. But this infelicity is surprising: it seems like there should be nothing wrong with giving someone an order while acknowledging that you do not know whether it will obeyed. I suggest that this (...)
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  • Forgiveness, Repentance, and Diachronic Blameworthiness.Andrew C. Khoury - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-21.
    Many theorists have found the notion of forgiveness to be paradoxical, for it is thought that only the blameworthy can be appropriately forgiven but that the blameworthy are appropriately blamed not forgiven. Some have appealed to the notion of repentance to resolve this tension. But others have objected that such a response is explanatorily inadequate in the sense that it merely stipulates and names a solution leaving the transformative power of repentance unexplained. Worse still, others have objected that such a (...)
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  • Aesthetic Obligations.Robbie Kubala - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (12):1-13.
    Are there aesthetic obligations, and what would account for their binding force if so? I first develop a general, domain‐neutral notion of obligation, then critically discuss six arguments offered for and against the existence of aesthetic obligations. The most serious challenge is that all aesthetic obligations are ultimately grounded in moral norms, and I survey the prospects for this challenge alongside three non‐moral views about the source of aesthetic obligations: individual practical identity, social practices, and aesthetic value primitivism. I conclude (...)
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  • Agency and Evidence.Berislav Marusic & John Schwenkler - forthcoming - In Luca Ferrero (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Agency. Routledge. pp. 244-252.
    How does evidence figure into the reasoning of an agent? This is an intricate philosophical problem but also one we all encounter in our daily lives. In this chapter, we identify the problem and outline a possible solution to it. The problem arises, because the fact that it is up to us whether we do something makes a difference to how we should think of the evidence concerning whether we will actually do it. Otherwise we regard something that is up (...)
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  • Deserved Guilt and Blameworthiness Over Time.Andreas Brekke Carlsson - forthcoming - In Self-Blame and Moral Responsibility.
  • Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - In Christian Miller (ed.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Ethics. Bloomsbury.
  • Actualism, Possibilism, and the Nature of Consequentialism.Yishai Cohen & Travis Timmerman - 2020 - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics is about whether counterfactuals of freedom concerning what an agent would freely do if they were in certain circumstances even partly determines that agent’s obligations. This debate arose from an argument against the coherence of utilitarianism in the deontic logic literature. In this chapter, we first trace the historical origins of this debate and then examine actualism, possibilism, and securitism through the lens of consequentialism. After examining their respective benefits and drawbacks, we argue that, contrary (...)
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  • Infinite options, intransitive value, and supererogation.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):2063-2075.
    Supererogatory acts are those that lie “beyond the call of duty.” There are two standard ways to define this idea more precisely. Although the definitions are often seen as equivalent, I argue that they can diverge when options are infinite, or when there are cycles of better options; moreover, each definition is acceptable in only one case. I consider two ways out of this dilemma.
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  • Desert, Control, and Moral Responsibility.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - Acta Analytica 34 (4):407-426.
    In this paper, I take it for granted both that there are two types of blameworthiness—accountability blameworthiness and attributability blameworthiness—and that avoidability is necessary only for the former. My task, then, is to explain why avoidability is necessary for accountability blameworthiness but not for attributability blameworthiness. I argue that what explains this is both the fact that these two types of blameworthiness make different sorts of reactive attitudes fitting and that only one of these two types of attitudes requires having (...)
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  • Attitudinal strength as distance to withholding.Andrew T. Forcehimes - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (3):963-981.
    How should we understand the relationship between binary belief and degree of belief? To answer this question, we should look to desire. Whatever relationship we think holds between desire and degree of desire should be used as our model for the relationship we think holds between belief and degree of belief. This parity pushes us towards an account that treats the binary attitudes as primary. But if we take binary beliefs as primary, we seem to face a serious problem. Binary (...)
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