When a person performs or fails to perform a morally significant action, we sometimes think that a particular kind of response is warranted. Praise and blame are perhaps the most obvious forms this reaction might take. For example, one who encounters a car accident may be regarded as worthy of praise for having saved a child from inside the burning car, or alternatively, one may be regarded as worthy of blame for not having used one's mobile phone to call for (...) help. To regard such agents as worthy of one of these reactions is to ascribe moral responsibility to them on the basis of what they have done or left undone. (These are examples of other-directed ascriptions of responsibility. The reaction might also be self-directed, e.g., one can recognize oneself to be blameworthy). Thus, to be morally responsible for something, say an action, is to be worthy of a particular kind of reaction —praise, blame, or something akin to these—for having performed it.[1.. (shrink)
Some have proposed that it is reasonable for an atheist to pursue a form of life shaped by engagement with theistic religious language and practice, once language and belief in God are interpreted in the appropriate non-realist manner. My aim is to defend this proposal in the face of several objections that have been raised against it. First, I engage in some conceptual spadework to distinguish more clearly some varieties of religious non-realism. Then, in response to two central objections, I (...) seek to articulate the most promising version of the view. I conclude by discussing some practical and moral objections to a non-realist form of religious life. (shrink)
In his paper, 'A critique of religious fictionalism', Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, 'Can an atheist believe in God?'. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
In his paper, ‘A critique of religious fictionalism’, Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, ‘Can an atheist believe in God?’. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
When a Christian refers to the future full realization of the kingdom of God in an afterlife, it is typically assumed that she is expressing beliefs about the existence and activity of God in conjunction with supernatural beliefs about an otherworldly realm and the possibility of one’s personal survival after bodily death. In other words, the religious language is interpreted in a realist fashion and the religious person here is construed as a religious believer. A corollary of this widely-held realist (...) view is the assumption that if one were to conclude that there is no good reason to believe the asserted claims—for example, no reason to believe that we may survive our bodily deaths in a heavenly realm—then there is no reason to engage in the use of such religious language and the practices which accompany it. I argue that this assumption is false—that there is a meaningful way to use such language in a religious context that does not rest on believing supernatural claims. Against the backdrop of Kant’s discussion of a kingdom of ends understood as a regulative ideal, I argue that religious discourse about the kingdom of God being brought to fruition may be reinterpreted as a useful fiction to draw our attention to and engage our emotions with a distinctive ideal of restorative justice. Though I and others have previously offered fictionalist accounts of language about God, I extend the view here to some religious language about the afterlife. (shrink)
The free will defence attempts to show that belief in an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God may be rational, despite the existence of evil. At the heart of the free will defence is the claim that it may be impossible, even for an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God, to bring about certain goods without the accompanying inevitability, or at least overwhelming probability, of evil. The good in question is the existence of free agents, in particular, agents who are sometimes free (...) with respect to morally significant actions and who are thereby responsible, at least in part, for those actions and the personal character which is a function of and exhibited in those actions. The free will defender contends that if an agent is to be truly responsible for her actions, then she must be free to bring about both good and evil, and God cannot be blamed if such agents choose to bring about the latter rather than the former. A number of years ago, Antony Flew objected that God was not forced to choose between creating free agents who might act wrongly and not creating a world with free agents. Instead, God could have created free agents who were wholly good, i.e. who always acted rightly." Freedom and responsibility, Flew argued, are compatible with one’s actions being causally determined by God, thus it was within God’s power to create agents who were both free and responsible yet causally determined to always act rightly. In response, proponents of the free will defence criticized Flew’s conditional analysis of freedom – if S had chosen to do otherwise, she would have been able to do otherwise – maintaining instead that an agent’s freedom consists in her ability at the time in question to both perform the action and refrain from performing the action. Acting freely, on this libertarian view, is incompatible with one’s actions being determined by God, for an agent.. (shrink)
Much recent work on moral responsibility has focused on responsibility as accountability—a type of responsibility associated with the blame-oriented reactive attitudes of resentment, indignation, and guilt. The preoccupation with this admittedly important form of responsibility fosters a truncated portrait of our moral lives by largely ignoring responsibility for actions that merit praise and emulation. Through an examination of what is presupposed in the attitudes of gratitude and esteem, this essay argues that praiseworthiness is not best understood as the mirror image (...) of blameworthiness in the accountability sense. To make sense of praiseworthiness one must raise the profile of another type of responsibility —what Gary Watson has identified as its attributability, or aretaic face. Doing so also helps reveal some important features of virtuous agency, including a sense in which such agency may exhibit oft-overlooked and distinctive enhancements of an agent’s freedom. (shrink)
In this work I argue that an agent assumes responsibility for her traits of character by making them her own during the process of their formation. One makes a character trait one's own by identifying oneself with its constitutive desires, or in the case of a particular kind of vice, by failing to identify oneself with desires to act in the corresponding virtuous manner. Unlike the view traditionally attributed to Aristotle, this view does not require that an agent be the (...) original knowing author of her character; and unlike some other recent accounts employing the notion of identification, it does not impose the implausible requirement that an agent's conception of the good be autonomous in any robust sense. ;Chapters 1-3 address three preliminary tasks. I first propose that "character" be understood to refer to those dispositional aspects of a person's personality which are open to moral assessment . I next argue that providing an account of responsibility for character is important because: we hold agents responsible for their character traits, as well as their actions; and it is prima facie plausible to suppose that an agent is responsible for those actions expressing her character only if she is responsible for her character. Thirdly, I examine the Aristotelian account of responsibility for character and diagnose its flaw. ;Chapters 4-6 develop the suggestion that an agent assumes responsibility for a character disposition by identifying herself with its constitutive desires. In chapter 4, I argue that one identifies with a desire in the relevant sense through the formation of an endorsing higher-order desire which reflects the agent's judgment that it would be good to be moved to action by the lower-order desire. Secondly, I contend that such judgments themselves need not be subject to critical scrutiny. That one's identification with a trait must be causally effective in its development is defended in the 5th chapter. Finally, I argue in chapter 6 that being responsible for a trait of character requires that the process of making a trait one's own be grounded appropriately in one's experience and that this experience be sufficiently rich. (shrink)
In recent discussions of moral responsibility, two claims have generated considerable attention: 1) a complete account of responsibility cannot ignore the agent’s personal history prior to the time of action; and 2) an agent’s responsibility is not determined solely by whether certain objective facts about the agent obtain (e.g., whether he/she was free of physical coercion) but also by whether, subjectively, the agent views him/herself in a particular way. John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza defend these claims and combine them (...) in a novel manner. They argue that responsibility for an action requires that the agent—at some prior time—have taken responsibility for the kind of mechanism, or process, which produced the action (e.g., practical reason). The notion of taking responsibility is then understood subjectively, requiring that the agent believe it appropriate for others to hold him/her responsible for actions produced by that kind of mechanism. I explore how best to understand the role(s) played by the notion of taking responsibility in Fischer and Ravizza’s account and then argue that being responsible for an action does not require that one have taken responsibility in the subjective sense. That is, being responsible is not a matter of believing oneself to be so. (shrink)
Reflection on free agency has largely been motivated by perceived threats to its very existence, which, in turn, has driven the philosophical conversation to focus on the question of whether we have the freedom required for moral responsibility. The Stoics were early participants in this conversation, but they were also concerned about an ideal of inner moral freedom, a freedom over and above that required for responsibility, and one to which we might aspire over the course of our lives. Though (...) some details of the Stoic ideal would be difficult for many of us to accept, I argue that it merits our attention for the way it focuses on the removal of inner obstacles to virtue, leading to improved moral vision and the willingness to follow that vision. I then show how we can harness resources from contemporary theorizing on responsible agency to capture the structure and scalar nature of such an ideal, thereby helpfully situating ideal moral freedom in relation to the freedom relevant to moral responsibility. I outline three possible contemporary versions of such an ideal, noting how each will be sensitive to related commitments in metaphysics, moral psychology, and normative theory. (shrink)
Through a diverse collection of carefully chosen selections, _Readings in Philosophy of Religion: East Meets West_ offers an enlightening array of perspectives on Western and non-Western religious thought that makes more meaningful trans-cultural connections possible within philosophy of religion. Includes a substantial selection of non-Western religious perspectives that are accessible to both students and instructors Provides further clarity with comprehensive chapter introductions to orient reader to upcoming selections Incorporates discussion of topics often neglected, such as religious non-realism, post-modernism, and feminist (...) philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Na longa disputa sobre o tipo de liberdade requerida para a responsabilidade, os participantes tenderam a assumir que estavam concernidos com um conceito de responsabilidade moral compartilhado. Esta assunção foi questionada recentemente. Uma visível divisão entre ‘Lumpers’ e ‘Splitters’ surgiu. Os Lumpers defendem a suposição tradicional que há um conceito unificado de responsabilidade, enquanto os Splitters sustentam que há dois ou mais conceitos de responsabilidade moral. Aqui, eu ofereço um argumento em nome dos Splitters que conecta um tipo de pluralismo (...) de valor na ética normativa, teorizando com a contenda dos Splitters de que há múltiplas formas de responsabilidade moral. Minha tese é condicional. Na medida em que alguém crê plausível um quadro fragmentado da paisagem na teorização normativa – que eu referirei como ‘bricolagem moral’ – então alguém tem razão em juntar-se aos Splitters pensando que o conceito de responsabilidade moral é igualmente fragmentado. (shrink)