ABSTRACTAgent-relative consequentialism is thought attractive because it can secure agent-centred constraints while retaining consequentialism's compelling idea—the idea that it is always permissible to bring about the best available outcome. We argue, however, that the commitments of agent-relative consequentialism lead it to run afoul of a plausibility requirement on moral theories. A moral theory must not be such that, in any possible circumstance, were every agent to act impermissibly, each would have more reason to prefer the world thereby actualized over the (...) world that would have been actualized if every agent had instead acted permissibly. (shrink)
Recently, Cohen and Timmerman, 1–18, 2016) argue that actualism has control issues. The view should be rejected, they claim, as it recognizes a morally irrelevant distinction between counterfactuals over which agents exercise the same kind of control. Here we reply on behalf of actualism.
Recent critics (Andrew Light, Bryan Norton, Anthony Weston, and Bruce Morito, among others) have argued that we should give up talk of intrinsic value in general and that of nature in particular. While earlier theorists might have overestimated the importance of intrinsic value, these recent critics underestimate its importance. Claims about a thing’s intrinsic value are claims about the distinctive way in which we have reason to care about that thing. If we understand intrinsic value in this manner, we (...) can capture the core claims that environmentalists want to make about nature while avoiding the worries raised by contemporary critics. Since the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic value plays a critical role in our understanding of the different ways that we do and should care about things, moral psychology, ethical theory in general, and environmental ethics in particular shouldn’t give up on the concept of intrinsic value. (shrink)
Here's an interesting question: what are we? David Barnett has claimed that reflection on consciousness suggests an answer: we are simple. Barnett argues that the mereological simplicity of conscious beings best explains the Datum: that no pair of persons can itself be conscious. In this paper, I offer two alternative explanations of the Datum. If either is correct, Barnett's argument fails. First, there aren't any such things as pairs of persons. Second, consciousness is maximal; no conscious thing is a proper (...) part of another conscious thing. I conclude by showing how both moves comport with materialist theories of what we are and then apply them to another anti-materialist argument. (shrink)
Define teleology as the view that requirements hold in virtue of facts about value or goodness. Teleological views are quite popular, and in fact some philosophers (e.g. Dreier, Smith) argue that all (plausible) moral theories can be understood teleologically. I argue, however, that certain well-known cases show that the teleologist must at minimum assume that there are certain facts that an agent ought to know, and that this means that requirements can't, in general, hold in virtue of facts about value (...) or goodness. I then show that even if we grant those 'ought's teleology still runs into problems. A positive justification of teleology looks like it will require an argument of this form: O(X); if X, then O(Y); therefore O(Y). But this form of argument isn't in general valid. I conclude by offering two positive suggestions for those attracted to a teleological outlook. (shrink)
In his essay On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany, of 1834, Heinrich Heine suggested to his French audience that the German propensity for ‘metaphysical abstractions’ had led many people to condemn philosophy for its failure to have a practical effect, Germany having only had its revolution in thought, while France had its in reality. Heine, albeit somewhat ironically, refuses to join those who condemn philosophy: ‘German philosophy is an important matter, which concerns the whole of humanity, and (...) only the last grandchildren will be able to judge whether we should be blamed or praised for working out our philosophy before our revolution.’ He then makes the following prognosis: the German revolution will not be more mild and more gentle because it was preceded by Kantian critique, Fichtean transcendental idealism and even philosophy of nature. Revolutionary forces have developed via these doctrines which are just waiting for the day when they can break out and fill the world with horror and admiration. … Don't smile at my advice, the advice of a dreamer who warns you about Kantians, Fichteans and philosophers of nature. Don't smile at the fantast who expects the same revolution in the realm of appearance as took place in the realm of spirit. … A play will be performed in Germany in comparison with which the French Revolution could appear just as a harmless idyll. (shrink)
For cases in which to remember that p is to have (strict) nonbasic, unmixed memory knowledge that p; in which there is at most one prior time, t, from which one remembers; in which one knew at t that p; and in which there can arise a sensible question whether one remembers that p from t — a person, B, remembers that p from t if and only if: (1) There is a set of grounds a subset of which consists (...) of (i) only those grounds B has at both t and the present for B to be sure that p, and (ii) enough such grounds to make it reasonable at both t and the present for B to be sure that p (I call any such subset a set of “adequate original grounds dating from t”), and (2) there is no time prior to t such that B has a set of adequate original grounds dating from that time. The way in which the crucial terms in this explication are being used is explained. And the explication is defended by showing how it can deal with cases that are counterexamples to explications recently offered by Malcolm and by Munsat. (shrink)
The paper considers T.S. Eliot's 'dissociation of sensibility' thesis, considering its philosophical value and attempting to defend it against published objections. While accepting some of the criticisms, it is argued that Eliot's argument is sound to a significant extent. Eliot's account retains explanatory power with regard to an enduring arts-science divide in schooling and, more broadly, in environmental ethics. In both these areas, educators can, and should, find greater synergies between arts and science, and theoria and praxis, despite continuing pressures (...) on the school curriculum to move in the opposite direction. It is suggested that an acknowledgement of living as semiosis can be helpful in this respect. (shrink)
Harry Frankfurt has argued that Descartes’s madness doubt in the First Meditation is importantly different from his dreaming doubt. The madness doubt does not provide a reason for doubting the senses since were the meditator to suppose he was mad his ability to successfully complete the philosophical investigation he sets for himself in the first few pages of the Meditations would be undermined. I argue that Frankfurt’s interpretation of Descartes’s madness doubt is mistaken and that it should be understood as (...) playing the same role as his more famous dreaming doubt. I focus my discussion around four questions: (Q1) What does the meditator have in mind when speaking of madness?, (Q2) Why does the meditator so quickly dismiss the madness doubt but take seriously the dreaming doubt?, (Q3) Does the madness doubt have the same scope as the dreaming doubt?, and (Q4) Why does the meditator bring up the madness doubt at all? (shrink)
In this paper we look at a few of the most prominent ways of articulating Kant’s critical argument for Noumenal Ignorance — i.e., the claim that we cannot cognize or have knowledge of any substantive, synthetic truths about things-in-themselves — and then provide two different accounts of our own.
According to previous research, threatening people’s belief in free will may undermine moral judgments and behavior. Four studies tested this claim. Study 1 used a Velten technique to threaten people’s belief in free will and found no effects on moral behavior, judgments of blame, and punishment decisions. Study 2 used six different threats to free will and failed to find effects on judgments of blame and wrongness. Study 3 found no effects on moral judgment when manipulating general free will beliefs (...) but found strong effects when manipulating the perceived choice capacity of the judged agent. Study 4 used pretested narratives that varied agents’ apparent free will and found that perceived choice capacity mediated the relationship between free will and blame. These results suggest that people’s general beliefs about whether free will exists have no impact on moral judgments but specific judgments about the agent’s choice capacity do. (shrink)
This article explores how neutralisation can explain people's lack of commitment to buying Fair Trade (FT) products, even when they identify FT as an ethical concern. It examines the theoretical tenets of neutralisation theory and critically assesses its applicability to the purchase of FT products. Exploratory research provides illustrative examples of neutralisation techniques being used in the FT consumer context. A conceptual framework and research propositions delineate the role of neutralisation in explaining the attitude-behaviour discrepancies evident in relation to consumers' (...) FT purchase behaviour, providing direction for further research that will generate new knowledge of consumers' FT purchase behaviour and other aspects of ethical consumer behaviour. (shrink)
Kant seems to think of our own mental states or representations as the primary objects of inner sense. But does he think that these states also inhere in something? And, if so, is that something an empirical substance that is also cognized in inner sense? This chapter provides textual and philosophical grounds for thinking that, although Kant may agree with Hume that the self is not ‘given’ in inner sense exactly, he does think of the self as cognized through inner (...) sense. It is also argued that he both does and ought to regard this self as an empirical substance in which our changing representations inhere. In the second part of the chapter it is suggested that this poses a significant problem for most of the leading interpretations of Kant’s anti-sceptical argument in the Refutation of Idealism. (shrink)
This article explores how neutralisation can explain people's lack of commitment to buying Fair Trade products, even when they identify FT as an ethical concern. It examines the theoretical tenets of neutralisation theory and critically assesses its applicability to the purchase of FT products. Exploratory research provides illustrative examples of neutralisation techniques being used in the FT consumer context. A conceptual framework and research propositions delineate the role of neutralisation in explaining the attitude-behaviour discrepancies evident in relation to consumers' FT (...) purchase behaviour, providing direction for further research that will generate new knowledge of consumers' FT purchase behaviour and other aspects of ethical consumer behaviour. (shrink)
Religious dietary practices foster a sense of communal identity, certainly, but traditionally they are also regarded as pleasing to God (or the gods, or the ancestors) and spiritually beneficial. In other words, for many religious people, the effects of fasting go well beyond what is immediately observed or empirically measurable, and that is a large part of what motivates participation in the practice. The goal of this chapter is to develop that religious way of thinking into a response to a (...) motivational problem that arises from our awareness of the insensitivity of contemporary food supply chains. If someone can have faith, or at least tenacious hope, that the significance of her food choices goes well beyond what is immediately observed or empirically measurable, then she may be less demoralized by the apparent inefficacy of those choices. The chapter concludes by considering a way in which this broadly religious way of thinking might be available to secular people as well. (shrink)