This paper shows how we can plausibly extend the guise of the good thesis in a way that avoids intellectualist challenge, allows animals to be included, and is consistent with the possibility of performing action under the cognition of their badness. The paper also presents some independent arguments for the plausibility of this interpretation of the thesis. To this aim, a teleological conception of practical attitudes as well as a cognitivist account of arational desires is offered.
I will argue that Raz’s defense of the doctrine of the guise of the good rests on a over-intellectualized account of action. Raz holds that attributing evaluative beliefs to agents is justified on explanatory grounds. I argue that this account fails to do justice to the first-personal character of action explanation. Moreover, I will argue that Raz’s account of action has its root in his restrictive and over-intellectualized understanding of normative explanation. I will suggest that we can have a more (...) plausible understanding of the guise of the good that is not over-intellectualized, if we adopt a broader understanding of normative explanation. (shrink)
Moral realism faces two worries: How can we have knowledge of moral norms if they are independent of us, and why should we care about them if they are independent of rational activities they govern? Kantian constitutivism tackles both worries simultaneously by claiming that practical norms are constitutive principles of practical reason. In particular, on Stephen Engstrom’s account, willing involves making a practical judgment. To will well, and thus to have practical knowledge (i.e., knowledge of what is good), the content (...) of one’s will needs to conform to the formal presuppositions of practical knowledge. Practical norms are thus constitutive of practical knowledge. However, I will argue that the universality principles from which Engstrom derives the formal presuppositions of practical knowledge are reflectively and psychologically unavailable. As a result, they cannot help Kantian constitutivism provide an answer to moral realism's worries. (shrink)
One of the major arguments for theological voluntarism offered by the Ash’arites involves the claim that that some of the factors upon which our salvation or condemnation depend are beyond our control. We will call this “the problem of salvific luck.” According to the Ash’arites, the fact that God does save and condemn human beings on the basis of factors beyond their control casts doubt on any non-voluntarist conception of divine justice. A common way to respond to this Ash’arite argument (...) for voluntarism is to eliminate the role of luck in God’s judgments. But this is not the Mu’tazilite way of resisting the argument. The Mu’tazilite, who oppose theological voluntarism, choose a more daunting solution to the problem of salvific luck. They reject the claim that God’s Judgment concerning the eternal destiny of some persons would be unjust if it depended upon factors beyond their control. The paper discusses this solution to the problem of salvific luck. (shrink)
According to the Doctrine of the Guise of the Good, actions are taken to be good by their agents. Kieran Setiya, however, has formulated a new objection to the DGG based on the distinction between the notions of normative reasons and motivating reasons. Only the latter, Setiya claims, is required for intentional agency. However, I will argue that Setiya’s objection fails because it rests on the implausible assumption that motivating reasons are determined solely in terms of the content of the (...) belief involved in answering the ‘why’ question. But the basis, or origin, of a belief is crucially important in determining whether the content of a belief can constitute a motivating reason for action. However, I will argue that the failure of Setiya’s argument reveals an important but neglected facts about the DGG, namely, that it presupposes the view that beliefs (or our dispositions to judge) about normative reasons play a role in one’s knowledge of what one is doing when one acts for a reason. Moreover, my discussion will make it clear that the DGG has a better chance of being true if it is formulated in terms of disposition to judge, rather than belief. (shrink)
I will argue that Avicenna’s and Aquinas’s faith-based virtue ethics are crucially different from Aristotle’s virtue ethics, in that their ethics hinges on the theological notion of heaven, which is constitutively independent of the ethical life of the agent. As a result, their faith-based virtue ethics is objectionable. Moreover, I will also argue that the notion of heaven that Avicenna and Aquinas deploy in their moral philosophy is problematic; for it can rationally permit believers to commit morally horrendous actions. Finally, (...) I will present a Kantian notion of heaven which is immune to the aforementioned moral objection. The Kantian notion of heaven, nevertheless, cannot ground any view of ethics as it is constitutively dependent on the ethical life of the agent. (shrink)
There are two kinds of view in the literature concerning the relevance of intention to permissibility. While subjectivism assumes that an agent acts permissibly if he or she believes that the conduct is necessary for a moral purpose, for objectivism the de facto presence of an objective reason to justify one’s deeds is what matters. Recently, Scanlon and Hanser defend a moderate version of objectivism and subjectivism, respectively. Although I have a degree of sympathy toward both views, I will argue (...) that the truth lies somewhere in between. The view that I suggest in this paper hopefully occupies a space between subjectivism and objectivism and can accommodate the intuitions that neither of those views cannot account for. (shrink)
Unjustly forgotten, Laird’s “value and obligation”, I shall argue, is of great relevance to contemporary moral philosophy. To this aim, I will explore three main theses of Laird’s paper which are as follows: (T1) We can’t understand judgments of value and obligation in terms of mere feelings and desires. (T2) Desire must be guided by cognition of some value. (T3) Judgments of rightness and obligation must be grounded in judgments of value.
Kant’s formula of universal law says that it is morally impermissible to act on maxims which lead to a contradiction, when universalized. Korsgaard famously argues that we should understand the contradiction involved in Kant’s formula of universal law test as practical contradiction. In her later works, Korsgaard provides an argument for the truth of Kant’s moral law from the principles that are, on her view, constitutive of human agency, including the principle of publicity, the principle of universality and the hypothetical (...) imperative. In this paper I will, first, clarify Korsgaard’s argument, and, then, argue that her argument cannot vindicate Kant’s moral law. More specifically, I will argue that Korsgaard’s principles, contrary to what she aims, fail to occupy a middle ground between agent-neutral and agent-relative morality; for they rest upon an ambiguity in the notion of sharing the ends of other agents. As a result, Korsgaard’s constitutive principles are either implausible, or too weak to be able to ground our ordinary moral obligations. (shrink)
Some religious requirements seem genuinely arbitrary in the sense that there seem to be no sufficient explanation of why those requirements with those contents should pertain. This paper aims to understand exactly what it might mean for a religious requirement to be genuinely arbitrary and to discern whether and how a religious practitioner could ever be rational in obeying such a requirement. We lay out four accounts of what such arbitrariness could consist in, and show how each account provides a (...) different sort of baseline for understanding how obedience to arbitrary requirements could, in principle, be rational. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that the Doctrine of Double Effect is identical with, or presupposes, the Intention Principle according to which an act can be impermissible if done with a wrongful intention. A main line of objections to the DDE, then, stems from the worry that the Intention Principle implausibly interiorizes the wrongness of an action. I will argue, first, that the DDE does not presuppose the Intention Principle, and, second, that intuitions brought against the Intention Principle do not warrant (...) us to reject the DDE. Therefore, a main line of objections to the DDE is misguided. (shrink)
In this paper, we are concerned with the morality of killing human shields. Many moral philosophers seem to believe that knowingly killing human shields necessarily involves intentionally targeting human shields. If we assume that the distinction between intention and foresight is morally significant, then this view would entail that it is generally harder to justify a military operation in which human shields are knowingly killed than a military operation in which the same number of casualties result as a merely foreseen (...) side effect. We argue, however, that only some cases of knowingly killing human shields should be regarded as intentionally targeting human shields, and thus only those cases face higher bars of justification. We shall formulate different principles that help us to distinguish between cases where a military operation involves the deliberate harming of human shields and cases where it does not. As we shall see, these principles are relevant in scenarios that are all too realistic and common, such as the bombing of legitimate military targets located amid civilian populations. (shrink)
Facing morally controversial passages in Scripture, many Muslims find themselves forced to choose between accepting the dictates of Scripture and trusting their modern moral sensibilities. Let’s call the view that our independent moral judgment is not reliable when it is in conflict with the apparent meaning of Scripture, moderate moral skepticism. Assuming the falsity of the divine command theory, I will explore the argument for moderate moral skepticism by discussing the ideas of the Mu‘tazilite theologian, Qadi ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Hamadani (935–1025). (...) My hope is that the discussion of the ideas of ‘Abd al-Jabbar helps us to see why the argument for moderate moral skepticism is appealing and what is the best way to resist the argument. (shrink)
David K. Chan provides an account of various mental entities that interact with each other to produce human action. Once we have a theory of human action, Chan states, we will be in a better position to examine how to evaluate human actions from a moral perspective. I will address only two sets of claims that I don't find convincing. The first concerns Chan's idea that we need to introduce a new category of non-intentional action (besides intentional and unintentional) to (...) account for actions that do not result from practical reasoning. The second concerns Chan's claim that the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect is not tenable, and needs to be replaced by another doctrine he introduces. (shrink)