Thinking about how the law might decide whether to extend legal personhood to artificial agents provides a valuable testbed for philosophical theories of mind. Further, philosophical and legal theorising about personhood for artificial agents can be mutually informing. We investigate two case studies, drawing on legal discussions of the status of artificial agents. The first looks at the doctrinal difficulties presented by the contracts entered into by artificial agents. We conclude that it is not necessary or desirable to postulate artificial (...) agents as legal persons in order to account for such contracts. The second looks at the potential for according sophisticated artificial agents with legal personality with attendant constitutional protections similar to those accorded to humans. We investigate the validity of attributes that have been suggested as pointers of personhood, and conclude that they will take their place within a broader matrix of pragmatic, philosophical and extra-legal concepts. (shrink)
Agent-based modeling has become a common and well-established tool in the social sciences and certain of the humanities. Here, we aim to provide an overview of the different modeling approaches in current use. Our discussion unfolds in two parts: we first classify different aspects of the model-building process and identify a number of characteristics shared by most agent-based models in the humanities and social sciences; then we map relevant differences between the various modeling approaches. We classify these into (...) different dimensions including the type of target systems addressed, the intended modeling goals, and the models’ degree of abstraction. Along the way, we provide reference to related debates in contemporary philosophy of science. (shrink)
Agent-based models have played a prominent role in recent debates about the merits of democracy. In particular, the formal model of Lu Hong and Scott Page and the associated “diversity trumps ability” result has typically been seen to support the epistemic virtues of democracy over epistocracy (i.e., governance by experts). In this paper we first identify the modeling choices embodied in the original formal model and then critique the application of the Hong-Page results to philosophical debates on the relative (...) merits of democracy. In particular we argue that the “best-performing agents” in Hong-Page model should not be interpreted as experts. We next explore a closely related model in which best-performing agents are more plausibly seen as experts and show that the diversity trumps ability result fails to hold. However, with changes in other parameters (such as the deliberation dynamic) the diversity trumps ability result is restored. The sensitivity of this result to parameter choices illustrates the complexity of the link between formal modeling and more general philosophical claims; we use this debate as a platform for a more general discussion of when and how agent-based models can contribute to philosophical discussions. (shrink)
Autonomous Agents addresses the related topics of self-control and individual autonomy. "Self-control" is defined as the opposite of akrasia-weakness of will. The study of self-control seeks to understand the concept of its own terms, followed by an examination of its bearing on one's actions, beliefs, emotions, and personal values. It goes on to consider how a proper understanding of self-control and its manifestations can shed light on personal autonomy and autonomous behaviour. Perspicuous, objective, and incisive throughout, Alfred Mele makes a (...) convincing case for the value of individual autonomy. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social (...) sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
The agent-structure problem is a much discussed issue in the field of international relations. In his comprehensive analysis of this problem, Colin Wight deconstructs the accounts of structure and agency embedded within differing IR theories and, on the basis of this analysis, explores the implications of ontology - the metaphysical study of existence and reality. Wight argues that there are many gaps in IR theory that can only be understood by focusing on the ontological differences that construct the theoretical (...) landscape. By integrating the treatment of the agent-structure problem in IR theory with that in social theory, Wight makes a positive contribution to the problem as an issue of concern to the wider human sciences. At the most fundamental level politics is concerned with competing visions of how the world is and how it should be, thus politics is ontology. (shrink)
Lucy O'Brien argues that a satisfactory account of first-person reference and self-knowledge needs to concentrate on our nature as agents. Clearly written, with rigorous discussion of rival views, this book will be of interest to anyone working in the philosophy of mind and action.
According to a naïve view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, ‘ought’ often expresses a relation between agents and actions – the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naïve view that ‘ought’ always expresses this relation – on the contrary, adherents of the naïve view are happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an epistemic sense, on which (...) it means, roughly, that some proposition is likely to be the case, and adherents of the naïve view are also typically happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an evaluative sense, on which it means, roughly, that were things ideal, some proposition would be the case.1 What is important to the naïve view is not that these other senses of ‘ought’ do not exist, but rather that they are not exhaustive – for what they leave out, is the important deliberative sense of ‘ought’, which is the central subject of moral inquiry about what we ought to do and why – and it is this deliberative sense of ‘ought’ which the naïve view understands to express a relation between agents and actions.2 In contrast, logically and linguistically sophisticated philosophers – with a few notable exceptions3 – have rejected this naïve view. According to a dominant perspective in the interpretation of deontic logic and in linguistic semantics, for example, articulated by Roderick Chisholm (1964) and Bernard Williams (1981) in philosophy and in the dominant paradigm in linguistic semantics as articulated in particular by.. (shrink)
Children’s literature was first published in the eighteenth century at a time when the philosophical ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on education and childhood were being discussed. Ironically, however, the first generation of children’s literature (by Maria Edgeworth et al) was incongruous with Rousseau’s ideas since the works were didactic, constraining and demanded passive acceptance from their readers. This instigated a deficit or reductionist model to represent childhood and children’s literature as simple and uncomplicated and led to children’s literature being overlooked (...) and its contribution to philosophical discussions being undermined. Although Rousseau advocates freeing the child to develop, he does not feel that reading fiction promotes child development, which is a weakness in an otherwise strong argument for educational reform. Yet, rather ironically, the second generation of children’s writers, from Lewis Carroll onwards, more truly embraced Rousseau’s broader philosophical ideas on education and childhood than their predecessors, encouraging and freeing readers to imagine, reflect and actively engage in ontological enquiry. The emphasis had changed with the child being embraced in education and society as active participant rather than passive or disengaged recipient. Works deemed to be seminal to the canon of children’s literature such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan and The Chronicles of Narnia challenge readers to work through conflicts many of which can be identified retrospectively as exhibiting postmodern characteristics. By exploring moral and spiritual dilemmas in their writing, Carroll, Barrie and Lewis’s works can be regarded as contributing to discussions on theodical postmodernism. The successes of The Lord of the Rings and Narnia films suggest that there is an interest in exploring moral dilemmas, fulfilling a need (perhaps for tolerance and understanding) in society at large. Children’s literature has an almost divine power to restore, to repair and to heal, all characteristics of theodical postmodernism but differing from the more widely held conception of postmodernism which pulls apart, exacerbates and exposes. Children’s literature therefore offers a healthy and constructive approach to working through moral dilemmas. In their deconstruction of childhood, these authors have brought children’s literature closer to aspects of enquiry traditionally found in the domain of adult mainstream literature. As the boundaries between childhood and adulthood become more fluid, less certain, debate is centring around whether the canon of children’s literature itself has become redundant or meaningless since there are no longer any restrictions on which subjects can be treated in children’s literature. Despite the fact that children’s literature clearly engages with difficult issues, it continues to be left out of the critical equation, not given serious attention, disregarded as simplistic and ignored in contemporary philosophical discussions concerning morality, postmodernism and the future of childhood. With children’s literature coming closer to mainstream literature, and exhibiting prominent features of postmodernism, however, it is only a matter of time before philosophical discussions actively engage with children’s literature and recognise its contribution to the resolution and reconciliation of ontological dilemmas. When this occurs, philosophy and children’s literature will re-engage, enriching contemporary investigations of existence, ethics and knowledge and fruitfully developing thought in these areas. This paper aims to contribute to this process. (shrink)
The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction is one of the most important in contemporary moral theory. Yet, providing an adequate formal account of it has proven difficult. In this article I defend a new formal account of the distinction, one that avoids various problems faced by other accounts. My account is based on an influential account of the distinction developed by McNaughton and Rawling. I argue that their approach is on the right track but that it succumbs to two serious objections. (...) I then show how to formulate a new account that follows the key insights of McNaughton and Rawling’s approach yet avoids the two objections. (shrink)
Epistemically immodest agents take their own epistemic standards to be among the most truth-conducive ones available to them. Many philosophers have argued that immodesty is epistemically required of agents, notably because being modest entails a problematic kind of incoherence or self-distrust. In this paper, I argue that modesty is epistemically permitted in some social contexts. I focus on social contexts where agents with limited cognitive capacities cooperate with each other (like juries).
A number of philosophical projects require a proper understanding of the modal aspects of agency, or of what I call ‘the agentive modalities.’ I propose a general account of the agentive modalities, one which takes as its primitive the decision-theoretic notion of an option. I relate this account to the standard semantics for ‘can’ and to the viability of some positions in the free will debates.
My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most (...) theories of agent causation are. Rather, I argue that the notion of agent causation introduced here best explains how it is that you are making your body move during an action, thereby providing a satisfactory solution to the problem of action. (shrink)
It is commonly held that all deontological moral theories are agent-relative in the sense that they give each agent a special concern that she does not perform acts of a certain type rather than a general concern with the actions of all agents. Recently, Tom Dougherty has challenged this orthodoxy by arguing that agent-neutral deontology is possible. In this article I counter Dougherty's arguments and show that agent-neutral deontology is not possible.
In this paper, I offer two arguments in support of the proposition that there are sometimes agent-relative prerogatives to impose harm on nonliable persons. The first argument begins with a famous case where most people intuitively agree it is permissible to perform an act that results in an innocent person’s death, and where there is no liability-based or consequentialist justification for acting. I show that this case is relevantly analogous to a case involving the intentional imposition of lethal defensive (...) harm on a nonliable person. In the final part of the paper, I provide a second, independent, argument in support of the proposition that there are agent-relative permissions to foreseeably harm or kill nonliable people under certain conditions. (shrink)
Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s settling of whether certain states-of-affairs obtain on a particular occasion can be reduced to the causing of events by certain mental events or states, such as certain desires, beliefs and/or intentions. Agent-causal libertarians disagree. A common critique against event-causal libertarian accounts is that the agent’s role of settling matters is left unfilled and the agent “disappears” from such accounts—a problem known as the disappearing agent problem. Recently, Franklin has argued (...) that an “enriched” event-causal account can overcome this problem. Franklin, however, doesn’t consider whether, as Pereboom argues, the agent as decider of “torn decisions” disappears from even enriched accounts. As I show here, Franklin’s enriched account takes some modifying if it is to overcome Pereboom’s torn decision problem—a special case of the disappearing agent problem. However, as I also show, there is a more fundamental problem facing event-causal libertarian accounts. It is implausible that an agent qua event or state simultaneously settles whether and how she intervenes. The upshot is that events and/or states lack an ability essential to completely fulfilling an agent’s role qua settler. This isn’t a problem for agent-causal accounts like the one offered by Steward because in as much as an agent qua substance settles whether her body moves in certain ways on certain occasions she simultaneously settles whether and how she intervenes. As a consequence, event-causal libertarians face a dilemma, or rather several, that agent-causal libertarians do not. This may ultimately be explained by the irreducibility of causation by agents to causation by events. (shrink)
Genes and the Agents of Life undertakes to rethink the place of the individual in the biological sciences, drawing parallels with the cognitive and social sciences. Genes, organisms, and species are all agents of life but how are each of these conceptualized within genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and systematics? The 2005 book includes highly accessible discussions of genetic encoding, species and natural kinds, and pluralism above the levels of selection, drawing on work from across the biological sciences. The book (...) is a companion to the author's Boundaries of the Mind (2004), also available from Cambridge, where the focus is the cognitive sciences. The book will appeal to a broad range of professionals and students in philosophy, biology, and the history of science. You can download the table of contents and the first chapter here. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers and scientists have done much to expand our understanding of the structure and neural mechanisms of joint action. But the phenomenology of joint action has only recently become a live topic for research.One method of clarifying what is unique about the phenomenology of joint action is by considering the alternative perspective of agents subsumed in group action. By group action we mean instances of individual agents acting while embedded within a group agent, instead of with individual coordination. (...) Paradigm examples are educational bureaucracies, corporations, and nation states. There is a phenomenological difference between agents whose actions are subsumed within a group action as compared to agents who act jointly. Attending to this difference clarifies what is phenomenologically distinctive about joint action.Appealing to an Aristotelian account of agency and to the metaphysical concept of weak emergence, we argue that what makes paradigmatic group action distinctive is the relative inaccessibility, un-revisability, and evaluative simplicity of the group agent’s goal from the perspective of individual agents. This suggests that a distinctive feature of joint agency is the maintenance of a greater sense of individual agency. Put simply, joint agency is often experienced as an enhancement of the individuals’ agency precisely because our paradigmatic agential powers are extended intersubjectively as we act together. In contrast, group agency often involves a loss of the sense of agency, precisely because it is the emergent group agent that maintains the agential powers. (shrink)
The complexities of how justice comes to be realized, and by which agents, is a relatively neglected element in contemporary theories of justice. This has left several crucial questions about agency and justice undertheorized, such as why some particular agents are responsible for realizing justice, how their contribution towards realizing justice should be understood, and what role agents such as activists and community leaders play in realizing justice. We aim to contribute towards a better understanding of the landscape of these (...) kinds of questions. First, we argue that theorists should distinguish between (i) agents who are responsible for realizing justice, but not committed to it, (ii) agents who are not responsible for realizing justice, but who are committed to it, and (iii) agents who are both responsible for and committed to realizing justice. Second, we discuss how to incorporate agents of justice more robustly into theorizing about justice. (shrink)
Organizations have neither a right to the vote nor a weighty right to life. We need not enfranchise Goldman Sachs. We should feel few scruples in dissolving Standard Oil. But they are not without rights altogether. We can owe it to them to keep our promises. We can owe them debts of gratitude. Thus, we can owe some things to organizations. But we cannot owe them everything we can owe to people. They seem to have a peculiar, fragmented moral status. (...) What explains this? Individualistic views explain this in terms of individualistic notions alone. Such notions don’t invoke any distinctive features of organizations. They just invoke the features of individual members of organizations. Collectivistic views, instead, explain this in terms of collective notions alone. Such notions don’t invoke the features of individual members of organizations. They just invoke the features of those organizations. We argue that neither approach works. Instead, one needs to synthesize the two approaches. Some individual interests, we think, are distinctively collective. We, as individuals, have a distinctive interest in playing a part in successful collective action. From this, so we argue, flows the apparently peculiar, fragmented moral status of organizations. (shrink)
In the social sciences and in everyday speech we often talk about groups as if they behaved in the same way as individuals, thinking and acting as a singular being. We say for example that "Google intends to develop an automated car", "the U.S. Government believes that Syria has used chemical weapons on its people", or that "the NRA wants to protect the rights of gun owners". We also often ascribe legal and moral responsibility to groups. But could groups literally (...) intend things? Is there such a thing as a collective mind? If so, should groups be held morally responsible? Such questions are of vital importance to our understanding of the social world. In this lively, engaging introduction Deborah Tollefsen offers a careful survey of contemporary philosophers? answers to these questions, and argues for the unorthodox view that certain groups should, indeed, be treated as agents and deserve to be held morally accountable. Tollefsen explores the nature of belief, action and intention, and shows the reader how a belief in group agency can be reconciled with our understanding of individual agency and accountability. _Groups as Agents_ will be a vital resource for scholars as well as for students of philosophy and the social sciences encountering the topic for the first time. (shrink)
In the past thirty years or so, the doctrine that actions are events has become an essential, and sometimes unargued, part of the received view in the philosophy of action, despite the efforts of a few philosophers to undermine the consensus. For example, the entry for Agency in a recently published reference guide to the philosophy of mind begins with the following sentence: A central task in the philosophy of action is that of spelling out the differences (...) between events in general and those events that fall squarely into the category of human action. There is no consensus about what events are. But it is generally agreed that, whatever events may prove to be, actions are a species or a class of events. We believe that the received view is mistaken: actions are not events. We concede that for most purposes, the kind of categorial refinement which is involved in either affirming or denying that actions are events is frankly otiose. Our common idiom does not stress the difference between actions and events, at least not in general terms, because it has no need to. Perhaps it sounds a little odd to say that some events are performed; but if we balked at describing, say, the abdication of Edward VIII as one of the politically significant events in Britain in 1936, it could not be for metaphysical reasons. And since actions, like events, are datable — though often, as we shall see, only imprecisely — actions are said to take place and to occur. But an important class of actions consist in moving something; indeed, according to many philosophers, every action consists in moving something. And when we consider actions of this sort from a theoretical point of view it becomes imperative to distinguish between actions and events. Or so we shall argue. (shrink)
Reflecting a recent flourishing of creative thinking in the field, _Agents and Their Actions_ presents seven newly commissioned essays by leading international philosophers that highlight the most recent debates in the philosophy of action Features seven internationally significant authors, including new work by two of philosophy's ‘super stars’, John McDowell and Joseph Raz Presents the first clear indication of how John McDowell is extending his path-breaking work on intentionality and perceptual experience towards an account of action and agency (...) Covers all the major interconnections between action-agency and central areas of Philosophy: Metaphysics, Epistemology, History of Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Philosophy of Language Provides a snapshot of current debate on the subject, which is fresh, enlightening, and fruitful. (shrink)
The randomized response technique is used to study the deceptive behavior of purchasing agents. We test the propositionthat purchasing agents’ perceptions of organizational expectations influence their behavior. Results indicate that perceived pressure toperform and ethical ambiguity on the part of the firm are correlated with purchasing agents’ unethical behavior, in the form of acknowledged deception of suppliers.
Agent-based accounts of virtue ethics, such as the one provided by Michael Slote, base the rightness of action in the motive from which it proceeds. A frequent objection to agent-basing is that it does not allow us to draw the commonsense distinction between doing the right thing and doing it for the right reasons, that is, between act-evaluation and agent-appraisal. I defend agent-basing against this objection, but argue that a more fundamental problem for this account is (...) its apparent failure to provide adequate argue action guidance. I then show that this problem can be solved by supplementing an agent-based criterion of right action with a hypothetical-agent criterion of action guidance. (shrink)
At the heart of Macmurray's work is his attempt to reverse the proposition of philosophy of the modern period that posits the self as thinker withdrawn from action and essentially isolated from the world about which it reflects. Macmurray labored to recast the role of philosophy in the service of a more fulfilling and basic personal communion with others, with the world, and ultimately with God. Indeed, it can be said that Macmurray's philosophy is really a (...) class='Hi'>philosophy of community—a philosophy that relates to many contemporary philosophical and religious concerns, as well as having a bearing on current historical/sociological, political, and feminist critiques of contemporary American society. (shrink)
The randomized response technique (RRT) is used to study the deceptive behavior of purchasing agents. We test the propositionthat purchasing agents’ perceptions of organizational expectations influence their behavior. Results indicate that perceived pressure toperform and ethical ambiguity on the part of the firm are correlated with purchasing agents’ unethical behavior, in the form of acknowledged deception of suppliers.
In this article, I argue that Hannah Arendt’s well-known but controversial distinction between labour, work, and action provides, perhaps unexpectedly, a conceptual grounding for transforming politics and policy-making at the EU level. Beyond the analysis and critique of modernity, Arendt brings the conceptual resources needed for the EU to move beyond the modern trap it fell into thirty years ago. At that time, the European Commission shifted its purpose away from enhancing interdependence among Member States with a common market towards (...) achieving an internal market in the name of boosting growth and creating jobs. Arendt provides the conceptual tools to transform the conceptualisation of relations and of agents that fuels the growing dissatisfaction among many Europeans with EU policy-making. This argument is made through stretching and re-articulating Arendt’s labour-work-action distinction and taking seriously both the biological and plural dimensions of the human condition, besides its rational one. By applying this shift in an EU context, EU policies could change their priorities and better address the needs and expectations of plural political agents and of European citizens. (shrink)
Imagine a moral agent with the native capacity to act rightly in every kind of circumstance. She will never, that is, find herself thrust into conditions she isn’t equipped to handle. Relationships turned tricky, evolving challenges of parenthood, or living in the midst of a global pandemic—she is never mistaken about what must be done, nor does she lack the skills to do it. When we are thrust into a new kind of circumstance, by contrast, we often need time (...) to practice discernment, new forms of compassion, different kinds of courage, or whatever else conditions call for. Unfortunately, such practice usually takes the form of on-the-job training—it is hard to cultivate the skills of an excellent parent, for example, until we actually are parents. Even more unfortunately, on-the-job training basically guarantees mistakes. This paper focuses on errors that (a) cause harm to others, and that (b) we make non-culpably because our skills are (understandably) not yet up to snuff. It argues that agent regret—the attitude singled out for non-culpable failures by much moral philosophy—is inapt in such cases. Rather, we need an attitude I will call stoic determination. (shrink)
I offer a brief review of, and critical response to, Neil Levy’s fascinating recent book Hard Luck, where he argues that no one is ever free or morally responsible not because of determinism or indeterminism, but because of luck. Two of Levy’s central arguments in defending his free will nihilism concern the nature and role of explanation in a theory of moral responsibility and the nature of akrasia. With respect to explanation, Levy argues that an adequate theory of moral responsibility (...) must be able provide contrastive explanations of why an agent performs one action rather than another, and that libertarians lack the resources to provide such explanations. With respect to akrasia, Levy argues that it is impossible to be directly morally responsible for akratic actions. In response I argue that any sense of contrastive explanation that can reasonably be thought to be a requirement on an adequate theory of moral responsibility is a sense that agent-causal libertarians can secure. I then argue that the agent-causal theory of free will offers an alternative and attractive understanding of motivation and self-control that makes it plausible to think that we can be morally responsible for akratic actions. (shrink)
To explain agent-identification behaviours, universalist theories in the biological and cognitive sciences have posited mental mechanisms thought to be universal to all humans, such as agent detection and face recognition mechanisms. These universalist theories have paid little attention to how particular sociocultural or historical contexts interact with the psychobiological processes of agent-identification. In contrast to universalist theories, contextualist theories appeal to particular historical and sociocultural contexts for explaining agent-identification. Contextualist theories tend to adopt idiographic methods aimed (...) at recording the heterogeneity of human behaviours across history, space, and cultures. Defenders of the universalist approach tend to criticise idiographic methods because such methods can lead to relativism or may lack generality. To overcome explanatory limitations of proposals that adopt either universalist or contextualist approaches in isolation, I propose a philosophical model that integrates contributions from both traditions: the psycho-historical theory of agent-identification. This theory investigates how the tracking processes that humans use for identifying agents interact with the unique socio-historical contexts that support agent-identification practices. In integrating hypotheses about the history of agents with psychological and epistemological principles regarding agent-identification, the theory can generate novel hypotheses regarding the distinction between recognition-based, heuristic-based, and explanation-based agent-identification. (shrink)
Propositional attitudes, such as beliefs, desires, and intentions, can be attributed to collective agents. In my paper I focus on cognitive attitudes, and I explore the various types of collective beliefs. I argue that there is a whole spectrum of collective beliefs, and I distinguish between two extremes: the weak opinion poll conception and the strong agreement-based conception. Strong collective beliefs should be understood in terms of the acceptance of a proposition rather than of belief proper. They are not purely (...) epistemic and involve practical considerations. To believe that p collectively in the strong sense is to adopt a policy to use that proposition in the group's deliberations about future actions. (shrink)
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 consequentialist framework than within the more standard side-constraint framework. For I argue that when we combine agent-relative consequentialism with a Kantian theory of value, we arrive at a version of consequentialism, which I call 'Kantsequentialism', that has several advantages over the standard side-constraint approach to accommodating constraints. What’s more, I argue that Kantsequentialism doesn’t have any of the disadvantages that critics of consequentializing have presumed that such a theory must have. (shrink)
When sporting agents fail through wrongful or faulty behaviour, they should feel guilty; when they fail because of a deficiency in their abilities, they should feel shame. But sometimes we fail without being deficient and without being at fault. I illustrate this with two examples of players, Moacir Barbosa and Roberto Baggio, who failed in World Cup finals and cost their teams the greatest prize in sport. Although both players failed, I suggest that neither was at fault and neither was (...) deficient. I argue that we can fail through no fault of our own because our abilities are always fallible. This fallibility means that to succeed – to achieve sporting glory – we must run the risk of failure. The appropriate emotion to feel over such failures is agent-regret. Sporting agents and observers should not take up what I call the ‘critical position’: the idea that someone who fails must be deficient or must have been at fault. This allows for a softer, but also more accurate, attitude towards our own failures and the failures of others. I end by suggesting that the fallibility of our abilities is made clear through playing or watching sport, and this can illuminate life more broadly. (shrink)
This paper argues that lohn Greco’s agent reliabilism fails in its attempt to meet the double requirement of accounting for the internalist intuition that knowledge requires sensitivity to the reliability of one’s evidence and evading the charge of psychological implausibility.
An idea that has attracted a lot of attention lately is the thought that consequentialism is a theory characterized basically by its agent neutrality.1 The idea, however, has also met with skepticism. In particular, it has been argued that agent neutrality cannot be what separates consequentialism from other types of theories of reasons for action, since there can be agent-neutral non-consequentialist theories as well as agent-relative consequentialist theories. I will argue in this paper that this last (...) claim is false. The paper is divided into four sections. Section one specifies two senses in which consequentialism is agent-neutral. Section two and three examine and reject, respectively, the claim that there are agent-relative consequentialist views as well as agent-neutral non-consequentialist views. I end the paper with some remarks on the plausibility, or better, the implausibility of characterizing consequentialism in terms other than agent neutrality. (shrink)