Most traditional accounts of Aristotle's theory of ethical education neglect its cognitive aspects. This book asserts that, in Aristotle's view, excellence of character comprises both the sentiments and practical reason. Sherman focuses particularly on four aspects of practical reason as they relate to character: moral perception, choicemaking, collaboration, and the development of those capacities in moral education. Throughout the book, she is sensitive to contemporary moral debates, and indicates the extent to which Aristotle's account of practical reason provides an alternative (...) to theories of impartial reason. (shrink)
While few soldiers may have read the works of Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, it is undoubtedly true that the ancient philosophy known as Stoicism guides the actions of many in the military. Soldiers and seamen learn early in their training "to suck it up," to endure, to put aside their feelings and to get on with the mission. Stoic Warriors is the first book to delve deeply into the ancient legacy of this relationship, exploring what the Stoic philosophy actually is, (...) the role it plays in the character of the military (both ancient and modern), and its powerful value as a philosophy of life. Marshalling anecdotes from military history--ranging from ancient Greek wars to World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq--Nancy Sherman illuminates the military mind and uses it as a window on the virtues of the Stoic philosophy, which are far richer and more interesting than our popularized notions. Sherman--a respected philosopher who taught at the US Naval Academy--explores the deep, lasting value that Stoicism can yield, in issues of military leadership and character; in the Stoic conception of anger and its control (does a warrior need anger to go to battle?); and in Stoic thinking about fear and resilience, grief and mourning, and the value of camaraderie and brotherhood. Sherman concludes by recommending a moderate Stoicism, where the task for the individual, both civilian and military, youth and adult, is to temper control with forgiveness, and warrior drive and achievement with humility and humor. Here then is a perceptive investigation of what makes Stoicism so compelling not only as a guiding principle for the military, but as a philosophy for anyone facing the hardships of life. (shrink)
Moral emotions are evolved mechanisms that function in part to optimize social relationships. We discuss two moral emotions— disgust and the “cuteness response”—which modulate social-engagement motives in opposite directions, changing the degree to which the eliciting entity is imbued with mental states (i.e., mentalized). Disgust-inducing entities are hypo-mentalized (i.e., dehumanized); cute entities are hyper-mentalized (i.e., “humanized”). This view of cuteness—which challenges the prevailing view that cuteness is a releaser of parental instincts (Lorenz, 1950/1971)—explains (a) the broad range of affiliative behaviors (...) elicited by cuteness, (b) the marketing of cuteness to children (by toy makers and animators) to elicit play, and (c) the apparent ease and frequency with which cute things are anthropomorphized. (shrink)
John Hawthorne’s marvelous book contains a wealth of arguments and insights based on an impressive knowledge and understanding of contemporary discussion. We can address only a small aspect of the topic. In particular, we will offer our own answers to two questions about knowledge that he discusses.
It is commonly held that the context with respect to which an indexical is interpreted is determined independently of the interpretation of the indexical. This view, which I call Context Realism, has explanatory significance: it is because the context is what it is that an indexical refers to what it does. In this paper, I provide an argument against Context Realism. I then develop an alternative that I call Context Constructivism, according to which indexicals are defined not in terms of (...) features of utterance situations, but rather in terms of roles that objects could play. (shrink)
Metasemantics presents new work on the philosophical foundations of linguistic semantics. Experts in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and the theory of content provide new perspectives on old problems about linguistic meaning, pose questions that suggest novel research projects, and sharpen our understanding of linguistic representation.
My goal in this paper is to advance a long-standing debate about the nature of moral rights. The debate focuses on the questions: In virtue of what do persons possess moral rights? What could explain the fact that they possess moral rights? The predominant sides in this debate are the status theory and the instrumental theory. I aim to develop and defend a new instrumental theory. I take as my point of departure the influential view of Joseph Raz, which for (...) all its virtues is unable to meet the challenge to the instrumentalist that I will address: the problem of justifying the enforcement of rights. I then offer a new instrumental theory in which duties are grounded on individuals’ interests, and individuals rights exist in virtue of the duties owed to them. I argue that my theory enables the instrumentalist to give the right sort of justification for enforcing rights. (shrink)
When people disagree about what is moral, we face an epistemological challenge—when the answer to a moral question is not obvious, how do we determine who is right? What if, under the circumstances, we do not have the means to show one party or the other is right? In recent years, a number of epistemologists have turned their attention to the general epistemic problem of how to respond reasonably to disagreement, and we can look to their work for guidance. While (...) there remains significant disagreement about how to respond to disagreement, I will focus on what I take to be the best position in the debate, known as the “Conciliatory” position (or “Conciliation” for short), which holds that parties to a disagreement should become less confident of their initial opinions to some degree, according to the credibility of the parties involved. Conciliation, if interpreted straightforwardly, has some counter-intuitive implications for unpopular opinions, including unpopular moral judgments. If a moral non-conformist becomes somewhat less confident of her view in response to each disagreement with a presumed epistemic peer, she will eventually have such a low degree of confidence in her initial view that she will effectively have switched positions. This result is troubling because almost everyone accepts moral views that were non-conforming views at some point in time, and these views probably would not have become widespread if non-conformists had changed their positions. I propose a modified version of Conciliation which would enable moral non-conformists to engage in cautious “experiments in living.” This modified view, I argue, is reasonable for those who are concerned, not only with correcting their own mistaken moral views, but with promoting moral progress in general. (shrink)
IN THIS PAPER I CONSIDER THE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP FROM AN ARISTOTELIAN POINT OF VIEW. THE ISSUE IS OF CURRENT INTEREST GIVEN RECENT CHALLENGES TO IMPARTIALIST ETHICS TO TAKE MORE SERIOUSLY THE COMMITMENTS AND ATTACHMENTS OF A PERSON. HOWEVER, I ENTER THAT DEBATE IN ONLY A RESTRICTED WAY BY STRENGTHENING THE CHALLENGE ARTICULATED IN ARISTOTLE'S SYSTEMATIC DEFENSE OF FRIENDSHIP AND THE SHARED LIFE. AFTER SOME INTRODUCTORY REMARKS, I BEGIN BY CONSIDERING ARISTOTLE'S NOTION THAT GOOD LIVING OR HAPPINESS ("EUDAIMONIA") FOR AN (...) INDIVIDUAL NECESSARILY INCLUDES THE HAPPINESS OF OTHERS. SHARED HAPPINESS ENTAILS THE RATIONAL CAPACITY FOR JOINTLY PROMOTING COMMON ENDS AS WELL AS THE CAPACITY TO IDENTIFY WITH AND COORDINATE SEPARATE ENDS. THIS EXTENDED NOTION OF HAPPINESS PRESUPPOSES THE EXTENSION OF SELF THROUGH ATTACHMENTS, AND I NEXT CONSIDER CERTAIN MINIMAL CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR ATTACHMENT. FINALLY, I DISCUSS HOW ARISTOTLE'S NOTION OF A FRIEND AS "ANOTHER SELF" IS COMPATIBLE BOTH WITH A CONCEPTION OF THE SEPARATENESS OF THE INDIVIDUALS AND OF THE DISTINCTIVE WAYS IN WHICH EACH INDIVIDUAL REALIZES VIRTUE WITHIN A SHARED LIFE. (shrink)
This article introduces and discusses a series of problems which any adequate account of legitimate practical authority must be able to solve. I then argue that Joseph Raz's influential Service Conception of Authority is unable to solve them. I develop a new account of legitimate authority by integrating many of the important insights of the Service Conception into my own framework for understanding the nature of moral rights and duties. I argue that this account has the resources to solve these (...) problems. (shrink)
We often hold people morally responsible for their emotions. We praise individuals for their compassion, think less of them for their ingratitude or hatred, reproach self-righteousness and unjust anger. In the cases I have in mind, the ascriptions of responsibility are not simply for offensive behaviors or actions which may accompany the emotions, but for the emotions themselves as motives or states of mind. We praise and blame people for what they feel and not just for how they act. In (...) cases where people may subtly mask their hatred or ingratitude through more kindly actions, we still may find fault with the attitude we see leaking through the disguise. (shrink)
The Equal Weight View holds that, when we discover we disagree with an epistemic peer, we should give our peer’s judgment as much weight as our own. But how should we respond when we cannot tell whether those who disagree with us are our epistemic peers? I argue for a position I will call the Earn-a-Spine View. According to this view, parties to a disagreement can remain confident, at least in some situations, by finding justifiable reasons to think their opponents (...) are less credible than themselves, even if those reasons are justifiable only because they lack information about their opponents. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the role of manners and morals. In particular, what is the connection between emotional demeanor and the inner stuff of virtue? Does the fact that we can pose faces and hide our inner sentiments, i.e., 'fake it,' detract from or add to our capacity for virtue? I argue, following a line from the Stoics, that it can add to our virtue and that, as a result, moral education needs to take seriously both a commitment to (...) good character and a commitment to the 'aesthetic' of character. (shrink)
Authenticity and diversity have both become catch words in contemporary North Atlantic societies. What has not, however, been widely explored is the interrelation ofthese two ideas. To this end, the present article takes up the sometime convergent, sometime divergent writings of Charles Taylor and Martin Heidegger, drawing out their thoughts on authenticity and showing how they can serve as a ground for a new form of cultural diversity. For both, authentic being-in-the-world affords us access to our own deep reservoir of (...) cultural material that is the necessary resource for fruitful engagement with other cultures.L’authenticité et la diversité font aujourd’hui figure de slogans dans les sociétés contemporaines de part et d’autre de l’Atlantique nord. En revanche, on a peu exploré les liens entre ces deux idées. À cette fin, cet article aborde les écrits tantôt convergents, tantôt divergents de Charles Taylor et Martin Heidegger pour prolonger leurs réflexions respectives sur l’authenticité et montrer en quoi elles peuventservir de fondement à une nouvelle forme de diversité culturelle. Pour tous deux, l’etre-au-monde authentique nous permet d’accéder au tréfonds du matériel culturel dont nous devons disposer pour que se nouent des rapports fructueux avec les autres cultures. (shrink)
Sherman presents a slightly revised definition of empathy, in which empathy is the cognitive ability to place oneself in the world of another, imagining all of the realities, feelings, and circumstances of that person in the context of their world.
Sartre’s intention in the Critique of Dialectical Reason is to establish the heuristic value of the dialectical method when applied to the social sciences. Toward this end, he furnishes an account of how, on the basis of natural needs, rational choices, burgeoning social ensembles, natural and social contingencies and unintended consequences, human beings make their history. I shall argue that his dialectical method, especially when modified, opens up interesting possibilities for clarifying the two most important and enduring meta-issues in the (...) philosophy of social science: whether social phenomena should be explained in terms of the beliefs, desires and actions of individuals or the rules and practices of social institutions and whether social phenomena should be explained in terms of causes, as in the natural sciences, or in terms of what they mean in their social contexts, as in hermeneutics and other interpretive approaches. (shrink)
When we think about Kantian virtue, what often comes to mind is the notion of respect. Respect is due to all persons merely in virtue of their status as rational agents. Indeed, on the Kantian view, specific virtues, such as duties of beneficence, gratitude, or self-perfection, are so many ways of respecting persons as free rational agents. To preserve and promote rational agency, to protect individuals from threats against rational agency, i.e., to respect persons, is at the core of virtue. (...) No doubt, part of the appeal of the Kantian notion of respect is that it offers an intuitive way of talking about the wrongness of manipulation and coercion, and in general, the wrongness of unfairly taking advantage of another. For to respect persons is to take seriously their status as persons, and to forswear, at some level, actions and attitudes that would compromise their dignity. Talking about respect has become shorthand for signaling deontological concerns. More formally, within recent Kantian exegesis, respect is viewed as yielding a more accessible and less contrived account of the Categorical Imperative than the more traditional criterion of universalizability and the contradictions tests applied to it. Within the Kantianinspired political theory of John Rawls, respect is also a core notion, representing a pervasive good, the bases of which, just states have an obligation to distribute to their members. Yet, for all its appeal, respect is an odd feature of Kantian ethics. For it is an emotion in a theory that prides itself in grounding morality in principles of reason alone. In this essay, I draw attention to the importance of respect in Kant's account in order to show just how he makes room for the emotions. Indeed, I shall argue that on Kant's account of full moral agency, we are emotional as well as rational creatures. Although Kant often portrays respect as an abstract emotional attitude mysteriously connected to our rationality, I argue that on a suitable revision, respect can be transformed into a more concrete attitude, cultivated and expressed alongside other emotions requisite for full virtue. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker’s book Epistemic Injustice calls attention to an important sort of moral and intellectual wrongdoing, that of failing to give others their intellectual due. When we fail to recognize others’ knowledge, or undervalue their beliefs and judgments, we fail in two important respects. First, we miss out on the opportunity to improve and refine our own sets of beliefs and judgments. Second—and more relevant to the term “injustice”—we can deny people the intellectual respect they deserve. Along with describing the (...) wrong of epistemic injustice, Fricker proposes that epistemic justice is a virtue we “can, and should, aim for in practice”. But I argue that there are two major problems. First, it is not clear that it is reasonable to imagine there is any such stable disposition—that is, any such virtue—as the sort of justice she imagines. Second, even if there could be such a virtue, her theory of epistemic justice does not provide good guidance for avoiding epistemic injustice. While it could.. (shrink)
Aristotle describes human happiness as a life of virtuous activity in Book One of the Nicomachean Ethics but as a life of contemplative activity and a life of ethically virtuous activity in Book Ten. In which kind of life does Aristotle ultimately believe that happiness consists? The answer lies in the role of philosophical wisdom within ethically virtuous activity. I argue that philosophical wisdom has a dual role: its exercise is the end of ethically virtuous activity and the virtue by (...) which that end is rationally apprehended. Just as ethically virtuous activity depends on the exercise of philosophical wisdom in this dual way, so human happiness can be understood as a single life of virtuous activity whose end is the exercise of philosophical wisdom in contemplative activity. The exercise of philosophical wisdom will include ethically virtuous activity as an end that includes what is desired for its sake. (shrink)