One of the currently popular dogmata of anti-consequentialism is that consequentialism doesn't respect, recognize, or in some important way account for what is referred to as the The charge is often made, but rarely explained in any detail, much less argued for. In this paper I explain what I take to be the most plausible interpretation of the separateness of persons charge. I argue that the charge itself can be deconstructed into at least two further objections to consequentialist theories. These (...) objections amount to (i) the rejection of axiological aggregation, and (ii) the rejection of deontic aggregation. Of these two objections, I argue that the first one, though often made, is untenable. I also argue that the second objection, in its various forms, relies on distinctions whose moral significance is vigorously denied by almost all consequentialist theorists. I thus argue that the separateness of persons objection poses no special threat to consequentialism. (shrink)
There is a systematic and suggestive analogy between grounding and causation. In my view, this analogy is no coincidence. Grounding and causation are alike because grounding is a type of causation: metaphysical causation. In this paper I defend the identification of grounding with metaphysical causation, drawing on the causation literature to explore systematic connections between grounding and metaphysical dependence counterfactuals, and I outline a non-reductive counterfactual theory of grounding along interventionist lines.
This book defends a radical new theory of contingency as a physical phenomenon. Drawing on the many-worlds approach to quantum theory and cutting-edge metaphysics and philosophy of science, it argues that quantum theories are best understood as telling us about the space of genuine possibilities, rather than as telling us solely about actuality. When quantum physics is taken seriously in the way first proposed by Hugh Everett III, it provides the resources for a new systematic metaphysical framework encompassing possibility, necessity, (...) actuality, chance, counterfactuals, and a host of related modal notions. -/- Rationalist metaphysicians argue that the metaphysics of modality is strictly prior to any scientific investigation; metaphysics establishes which worlds are possible, and physics merely checks which of these worlds is actual. Naturalistic metaphysicians respond that science may discover new possibilities and new impossibilities. This book's quantum theory of contingency takes naturalistic metaphysics one step further, allowing that science may discover what it is to be possible. As electromagnetism revealed the nature of light, as acoustics revealed the nature of sound, as statistical mechanics revealed the nature of heat, so quantum physics reveals the nature of contingency. (shrink)
Alastair Norcross argues that the basic judgments of morality are essentially comparative: alternatives are judged to be better or worse than each other. Notions such as right and wrong are not part of the fundamental subject matter of moral theory, but are constructed in a context-relative fashion out of the basic comparative judgments.
This paper outlines a non-reductive counterfactual account of grounding along interventionist lines, and uses the account to argue that taking grounding seriously requires ascribing non-trivial truth-conditions to a range of counterpossible counterfactuals. This result allows for a diagnosis of a route to scepticism about grounding, as deriving at least in part from scepticism about non-trivial counterpossible truth and falsity.
David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantum mechanics. This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In this article I propose some (...) novel principles connecting the physics of EQM with the metaphysics of modality, and argue that in the resulting framework the incoherence problem does not arise. These principles also help to justify one of the most controversial premises of Wallace’s argument, ‘branching indifference’. Absent any a priori reason to align the metaphysics with the physics in some other way, the proposed principles can be adopted on grounds of theoretical utility. The upshot is that Everettians can, after all, make clear sense of objective probability. 1 Introduction2 Setup3 Individualism versus Collectivism4 The Ingredients of Indexicalism5 Indexicalism and Incoherence5.1 The trivialization problem5.2 The uncertainty problem6 Indexicalism and Branching Indifference6.1 Introducing branching indifference6.2 The pragmatic defence of branching indifference6.3 The non-existence defence of branching indifference6.4 The indexicalist defence of branching indifference7 Conclusion. (shrink)
In ‘Quiddistic Knowledge’ (Schaffer in Philos Stud 123:1–32, 2005), Jonathan Schaffer argued influentially against the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. In this reply I aim to show how a coherent and well-motivated form of necessitarianism can withstand his critique. Modal necessitarianism—the view that the actual laws are the laws of all possible worlds—can do justice to some intuitive motivations for necessitarianism, and it has the resources to respond to all of Schaffer’s objections. It also has certain (...) advantages over contingentism in the domain of modal epistemology. I conclude that necessitarianism about laws remains a live option. (shrink)
Frances Kamm's aptly titled Intricate Ethics is a tour de force of what Peter Unger calls the ‘preservationist’ approach to ethical theory. Here is some of what she says about her methodology: Consider as many case-based judgments of yours as prove necessary. Do not ignore some case-based judgments, assuming they are errors, just because they conflict with simple or intuitively plausible principles that account for some subset of your case-based judgments. Work on the assumption that a different principle can account (...) for all of the judgments. Be prepared to be surprised at what this principle is . . . . I say, consider your case-based judgments, rather than a survey of everyone's judgments. This is because I believe that much more is accomplished when one person considers her judgments and then tries to analyze and justify their grounds than if we do mere surveys. (shrink)
This volume presents twelve original essays on the metaphysics of science, with particular focus on the physics of chance and time. Experts in the field subject familiar approaches to searching critiques, and make bold new proposals in a number of key areas. Together, they set the agenda for future work on the subject.
Simon Saunders and David Wallace have proposed an attractive semantics for interpreting linguistic communities embedded in an Everettian multiverse. It provides a charitable interpretation of our ordinary talk about the future, and allows us to retain a principle of bivalence for propositions and to retain the law of excluded middle in the logic of propositions about the future. But difficulties arise when it comes to providing an appropriate account of the metaphysics of macroscopic objects and events. I evaluate various metaphysical (...) frameworks which might be combined with the Saunders–Wallace semantics. I conclude that the most appropriate metaphysics to underwrite the semantics renders Everettian quantum mechanics a theory of non-overlapping worlds. (shrink)
There is much to admire in this book. As a rigorous and systematic physics-oriented presentation of an austere empiricist fundamental metaphysics, it has no real rivals. The clarity with which the overall vision is presented will provide a valuable stalking-horse for those who would defend less austere approaches in the future. Esfeld and Deckert never shy away from the radical consequences of their approach, or try to disguise its revisionary nature. I also found several points of agreement with Esfeld and (...) Deckert’s metaphysical outlook. In particular, I thought their form of structural realism sophisticated and plausible and their application of it to contemporary physics salutary. Fundamental metaphysics would be a more respectable discipline if all of its exponents felt the need to show how their preferred ontology plays out in the context of real physics. These points of agreement noted, I will concentrate in these comments on points where I disagree with Esfeld and Deckert. From my perspective, the metaphysical project of the book is subject to two serious objections: firstly, it remains insufficiently naturalistic and overly a prioristic, and secondly, it drains much of the explanatory power out of fundamental physics. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the prospects for combining contemporary Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) with branching-time semantics in the tradition of Kripke, Prior, Thomason and Belnap. I begin by outlining the salient features of ‘decoherence-based’ EQM, and of the ‘consistent histories’ formalism that is particularly apt for conceptual discussions in EQM. This formalism permits of both ‘branching worlds’ and ‘parallel worlds’ interpretations; the metaphysics of EQM is in this sense underdetermined by the physics. A prominent argument due to Lewis (On (...) the Plurality of Worlds, 1986 ) supports the non-branching interpretation. Belnap et al. (Facing the Future: Agents and Choices in Our Indeterministic World, 2001 ) refer to Lewis’ argument as the ‘Assertion problem’, and propose a pragmatic response to it. I argue that their response is unattractively ad hoc and complex, and that it prevents an Everettian who adopts branching-time semantics from making clear sense of objective probability. The upshot is that Everettians are better off without branching-time semantics. I conclude by discussing and rejecting an alternative possible motivation for branching time. (shrink)
Quantum physics is believed to be the fundamental theory underlying our understanding of the physical universe. However, it is based on concepts and principles that have always been difficult to understand and controversial in their interpretation. This book aims to explain these issues using a minimum of technical language and mathematics. After a brief introduction to the ideas of quantum physics, the problems of interpretation are identified and explained. The rest of the book surveys, describes and criticises a range of (...) suggestions that have been made with the aim of resolving these problems; these include the traditional, or 'Copenhagen' interpretation, the possible role of the conscious mind in measurement, and the postulate of parallel universes. This new edition has been revised throughout to take into account developments in this field over the past fifteen years, including the idea of 'consistent histories' to which a completely new chapter is devoted. (shrink)
Sensory substitution devices (SSDs) aim to compensate for the loss of a sensory modality, typically vision, by converting information from the lost modality into stimuli in a remaining modality. “The vOICe” is a visual-to-auditory SSD which encodes images taken by a camera worn by the user into “soundscapes” such that experienced users can extract information about their surroundings. Here we investigated how much detail was resolvable during the early induction stages by testing the acuity of blindfolded sighted, naïve vOICe users. (...) Initial performance was well above chance. Participants who took the test twice as a form of minimal training showed a marked improvement on the second test. Acuity was slightly but not significantly impaired when participants wore a camera and judged letter orientations “live”. A positive correlation was found between participants' musical training and their acuity. The relationship between auditory expertise via musical training and the lack of a relationship with visual imagery, suggests that early use of a SSD draws primarily on the mechanisms of the sensory modality being used rather than the one being substituted. If vision is lost, audition represents the sensory channel of highest bandwidth of those remaining. The level of acuity found here, and the fact it was achieved with very little experience in sensory substitution by naïve users is promising. (shrink)
How should we respond to cases of disagreement where two epistemic agents have the same evidence but come to different conclusions? Adam Elga has provided a Bayesian framework for addressing this question. In this paper, I shall highlight two unfortunate consequences of this framework, which Elga does not anticipate. Both problems derive from a failure of commutativity between application of the equal weight view and updating in the light of other evidence.
Darren Bradley has recently appealed to observation selection effects to argue that conditionalization presents no special problem for Everettian quantum mechanics, and to defend the ‘halfer’ answer to the puzzle of Sleeping Beauty. I assess Bradley’s arguments and conclude that while he is right about confirmation in Everettian quantum mechanics, he is wrong about Sleeping Beauty. This result is doubly good news for Everettians: they can endorse Bayesian confirmation theory without qualification, but they are not thereby compelled to adopt the (...) unpopular ‘halfer’ answer in Sleeping Beauty. These considerations suggest that objective chance is playing an important and under-appreciated role in Sleeping Beauty. 1 Introduction2 Confirmation in Everettian Quantum Mechanics3 Sleeping Beauty4 The Selection Model5 Bradley’s Argument6 The Right Route to ⅓7 The Breakdown of the Analogy8 Alternative Diagnoses9 God’s Gambling Game10 Non-chancy Sleeping Beauty Cases11 Conclusion. (shrink)
It is usually assumed to be possible, and sometimes even desirable, for consequentialists to make judgments about both the rightness and the goodness of actions. Whether a particular action is right or wrong is one question addressed by a consequentialist theory such as utilitarianism. Whether the action is good or bad, and how good or bad it is, are two others. I will argue in this paper that consequentialism cannot provide a satisfactory account of the goodness of actions, on the (...) most natural approach to the question. I will also argue that, strictly speaking, a consequentialist cannot judge one action to be better or worse than another action performed at a different time or by a different person. Even if such theories are thought to be primarily concerned with rightness, this would be surprising, but in the light of recent work challenging the place of rightness in consequentialism1, it seems particularly disturbing. If actions are neither right (or wrong) nor good (or bad), what moral judgments do apply to them? Doesn't the rejection of both rightness and goodness, as applied to actions, leave consequentialism unacceptably impoverished? On the contrary, I will argue that consequentialism is actually strengthened by the realization that actions can only be judged as better or worse than possible alternatives. (shrink)
If consequentialism is understood as claiming, at least, that the moral character of an action depends only on the consequences of the action, it might be thought that the difficulty of knowing what all the consequences of any action will be poses a problem for consequentialism. J. J. C. Smart writes that in most cases..
My aims in this article are threefold. First, I evaluate attempts to drive a wedge between the human and the natural in order to show that destroyed natural environments and extinct species cannot be restored; next, I examine the analogy between aesthetic value and the value of natural environments; and finally, I suggest briefly a different set of analogies with such human associations as families and cultures. My tentative conclusion is that while the recreation of extinct species may be logically (...) impossible, the restoration of natural environments raises only (formidable, no doubt) technical difficulties. Opponents of destructive developments which do not exterminate species, therefore, had better look elsewhere, rather than relying on the claim that restoration is logically impossible. (shrink)
Dispositions can combine as vector sums. Recent authors on dispositions, such as George Molnar and Stephen Mumford, have responded to this feature of dispositions by introducing a distinction between effects and contributions to effects, and by identifying disposition-manifestations with the latter. But some have been sceptical of the reality or knowability of component vectors; Jennifer McKitrick (forthcoming) presses these concerns against the conception of manifestations as contributions to effects. In this paper, I aim to respond to McKitrick's arguments and to (...) defend the metaphysical and epistemological propriety of component vectors. My strategy appeals to varying kinematic frames of reference. By transforming to the appropriate non-inertial frame, component acceleration vectors can be transformed into resultant acceleration vectors, and in such frames they become directly observable. Being a component acceleration vector and being a resultant acceleration vector are both frame-dependent properties of properties; they are not to be thought of as intrinsic or fundamental properties of an acceleration vector, but as artefacts of our frame-dependent notation for representing vector quantities. To conclude the paper, I defend the view proposed against two styles of objection. The first objection resurrects scepticism about component vectors as scepticism about fundamental component vectors. The second objection questions the need for reference frames in the explanation by invoking a 'counterfactual' theory of contributions. (shrink)
Darren Bradley has recently appealed to observation selection effects to argue that conditionalization presents no special problem for Everettian quantum mechanics, and to defend the ‘halfer’ answer to the puzzle of Sleeping Beauty. I assess Bradley’s arguments and conclude that while he is right about confirmation in Everettian quantum mechanics, he is wrong about Sleeping Beauty. This result is doubly good news for Everettians: they can endorse Bayesian confirmation theory without qualification, but they are not thereby compelled to adopt the (...) unpopular ‘halfer’ answer in Sleeping Beauty. These considerations suggest that objective chance is playing an important and under-appreciated role in Sleeping Beauty. (shrink)
THIS PAPER DISTINGUISHES TWO MAIN SUPERNATURALIST SENSES OF ’MIRACLE’ AND FOUR CORRESPONDING SENSES OF ’PARADOX,’ ALL OF WHICH ARE SHOWN TO INVOLVE THE NOTION OF A DISCREPANT OR INCOHERENT FACT. IT REJECTS THIS NOTION AS A CONTRADICTION IN USE AND ARGUES THAT NONE OF THE TRADITIONAL SENSES OF THESE TERMS CAN CONSISTENTLY NAME OR DESCRIBE ANY REAL OR ALLEGED EVENT.
Ted Shotter's founding of the London Medical Group 50 years ago in 1963 had several far reaching implications for medical ethics, as other papers in this issue indicate. Most significant for the joint authors of this short paper was his founding of the quarterly Journal of Medical Ethics in 1975, with Alastair Campbell as its first editor-in-chief. In 1980 Raanan Gillon began his 20-year editorship . Gillon was succeeded in 2001 by Julian Savulescu, followed by John Harris and Soren (...) Holm in 2004, with Julian Savulescu starting his second and current term in 2011. In 2000 an additional special edition of the JME, Medical Humanities , was published, under the founding joint editorship of Martyn Evans and David Greaves. In 2003 Jane Macnaughton succeeded David Greaves as joint editor. Deborah Kirklin, under whose auspices MH became an independent journal, took over in 2008, and she was succeeded in 2013 by Sue Eckstein. This short paper offers reminiscences and reflections from the two journals’ various editors.From the start the JME was committed to clearly expressed reasoned discussion of ethical issues arising from or related to medical practice and research. In particular, both Edward Shotter and Alastair Campbell, each a cleric , were at pains to make clear that the JME was not a religious journal and that it had no sort of partisan axe to grind.Campbell's appointment as founding editor was something of a surprise, as the original intention had been to appoint a medical doctor, who could be expected to know medical practice from the inside. However, in 1972 Campbell, a Joint Secretary of the Edinburgh Medical Group, had published Moral dilemmas in medicine. …. (shrink)
Bioethics: The Basics is an introduction to the foundational principles, theories and issues in the study of medical and biological ethics. Readers are introduced to bioethics from the ground up before being invited to consider some of the most controversial but important questions facing us today. Topics addressed include: The range of moral theories underpinning bioethics Arguments for the rights and wrongs of abortion, euthanasia and animal research Healthcare ethics including the nature of the practitioner-patient relationship Public policy ethics and (...) the implications of global and public health Concise, readable and authoritative, this is the ideal primer for anyone interested in the study of bioethics. (shrink)
Kierkegaard and Philosophy makes many of the most important papers on Kierkegaard available in one place for the first time. These seventeen essays, written over a period of over twenty years, have all been substantially revised or specially prepared for this collection, with a new introduction by the author. In the first part, Alastair Hannay concentrates on Kierkegaard's central philosophical writings, offering closely text-based accounts of the slient concepts Kierkegaard uses. The second part shows the relevance of other thinkers' (...) treatments of shared themes, pointing our where they differ from Kierkegaard. The concluding chapter provides a reason Kierkegaard himself would give for disagreeing with those who claim his texts are infinitely interpretable. Written by the world's foremost Kierkegaard scholar and translator, Kierkegaard and Philosophy is an indispensible resource for all students of Kierkegaard's work. (shrink)
If, as I have argued elsewhere, consequentialism is not fundamentally concerned with such staples of moral theory as rightness, duty, obligation, moral requirements, goodness (as applied to actions), and harm, what, if anything, does it have to say about such notions? While such notions have no part to play at the deepest level of the theory, they may nonetheless be of practical significance. By way of explanation I provide a linguistic contextualist account of these notions. A contextualist approach to all (...) these notions makes room for them in ordinary moral discourse, but it also illustrates why there is no room for them at the level of fundamental moral theory. If the truth value of a judgment that an action is right or good varies according to the context in which it is made, then rightness or goodness can no more be properties of actions themselves than thisness or hereness can be properties of things or locations themselves. (shrink)
If the most familiar overlapping interpretation of Everettian quantum mechanics is correct, then each of us is constantly splitting into multiple people. This consequence gives rise to the quantum doomsday argument, which threatens to draw crippling epistemic consequences from EQM. However, a diverging interpretation of EQM undermines the quantum doomsday argument completely. This appears to tell in favour of the diverging interpretation. But it is surprising that a metaphysical question that is apparently underdetermined by the physics should be settled by (...) purely epistemological considerations; and I argue that the positive case for divergence based on the quantum doomsday effect is ultimately unsuccessful. I discuss how some influential treatments of Everettian confirmation handle the quantum doomsday puzzle, and suggest that it can most satisfyingly be resolved via a naturalistic approach to the metaphysics of modality. (shrink)
Philosophy journals and conferences have recently seen several attempts to argue that 'all-things-considered better than' does not obey strict transitivity. This paper focuses on Larry Temkin's argument in "Intransitivity and the Mere Addition Paradox." Although his argument is not aimed just at utilitarians or even consequentialists in general, it is of prticular significance to consequentialists. If 'all-things-considered better than' does not obey transitivity, there may be choice situations in which there is no optimal choice, which would seem to open the (...) door to a consequentialist account of moral dilemmas. Temkin's argument crucially appeals to what he calls "the Person-Affecting Principle (PAP)", which he roughly characterizes as follows, "On PAP, one outcome is worse than another only if it affects people for the worse" This paper argues that PAP, although plausible, does not hold in precisely those situations in which it would have to hold in order for Temkin's argument against transitivity to work. (shrink)
Suppose that a very large number of people, say one billion, will suffer a moderately severe headache for the next twenty-four hours. For these billion people, the next twenty-four hours will be fairly unpleasant, though by no means unbearable. However, there will be no side-effects from these headaches; no drop in productivity in the work-place, no lapses in concentration leading to accidents, no unkind words spoken to loved ones that will later fester. Nonetheless, it is clearly desirable that these billion (...) people avoid the headaches. Even though the headaches are moderate, they are impervious to pain-killing drugs, acupuncture, transcendental meditation, and just about any other remedy. In fact, there is only one way in which the headaches can be avoided. In a remote South American village, a young woman, Agnes, is suffering from a fever. A simple dose of antibiotics will save her life, otherwise she will die. If, and only if, she dies, the billion headaches will be prevented. You just happen to be passing through the village, in full knowledge of the circumstances. Although not a doctor (and therefore not bound by codes of professional ethics, Hippocratic oaths, etc.), you possess the requisite dose of antibiotics, for which you have no other use, and which will become useless, if not used in the next two hours. (shrink)
BackgroundThe International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Recommendations set ethical and editorial standards for article publication in most leading medical journals. Here, I examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Recommendations in the prevention of commercial bias in industry-financed journal literature, on three levels – scholarly discourse, article content, and article attribution.DiscussionWith respect to overall discourse, the most important measures in the ICMJE Recommendations are for enforcing clinical trial registration and controlling duplicate publication. With respect to article content, the ICMJE (...) promotes stringent author accountability and adherence to established reporting standards. However, the ICMJE accepts the use of commercial editorial teams to produce manuscripts, which is a potential source of bias, and accepts private company ownership and analysis of clinical trial data. New ICMJE guidance on data sharing will address but not eliminate problems of commercial data access. With respect to attribution, the Recommendations oppose guest authorship and encourage clear documentation of author contributions. However, they exclude writers from coauthorship; provide no specific advice on the attribution of commercial literature, for instance with respect to company authorship, author sequence or prominent commercial labeling; and endorse the use of fine print and euphemism. The ICMJE requires detailed author interest disclosures, but overlooks the interests of non-authors and companies, and does not recommend that interests most salient to the publication are highlighted. Together, these weaknesses facilitate “advocacy”-based marketing, in which literature planned, financed and produced by companies is fronted by academics, enabling commercial messages to be presented to customers by their respected clinical peers rather than companies themselves.ConclusionsThe ICMJE Recommendations set important research and reporting standards, without which commercial bias would likely be a significantly greater problem than it is today. However, they also support practices of commercial data control, content development and attribution that run counter to science’s values of openness, objectivity and truthfulness. These weaknesses could be addressed with appropriate modifications to the Recommendations. The ICMJE should also disclose its own commercial interests and funding – not least because publishing organizations that finance it and pay the salaries of some member editors derive substantial revenues from industry. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed that a consequentialist theory such as utilitarianism has problems accommodating the importance of personal commitments to other people. However, by emphasizing the distinction between criteria of rightness and decision procedures, a consequentialist can allow for non-consequentialist decision procedures, such as acting directly on the promptings of natural affection. Furthermore, such non-consequentialist motivational structures can co-exist happily with a commitment to consequentialism. It is possible to be a self-reflective consequentialist who has genuine commitments to individuals and to (...) moral principles, without engaging in self-deception. (shrink)