Agent-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)
A new kind of debate about the normative error theory has emerged. Whereas longstanding debates have fixed on the error theory’s plausibility, this new debate concerns the theory’s believability. Bart Streumer is the chief proponent of the error theory’s unbelievability. In this brief essay, we argue that Streumer’s argument prevails against extant critiques, and then press a criticism of our own.
When it comes to the duty of beneficence, a formidable class of moderate positions holds that morally significant considerations emerge when one's actions are seen as part of a larger series. Agglomeration, according to these moderates, limits the demands of beneficence, thereby avoiding the extremely demanding view forcefully defended by Peter Singer. This idea has much appeal. What morality can demand of people is, it seems, appropriately modulated by how much they have already done or will do. Here we examine (...) a number of recent proposals that appeal to agglomeration. None of them, we argue, succeeds. (shrink)
How should we understand the relationship between binary belief and degree of belief? To answer this question, we should look to desire. Whatever relationship we think holds between desire and degree of desire should be used as our model for the relationship we think holds between belief and degree of belief. This parity pushes us towards an account that treats the binary attitudes as primary. But if we take binary beliefs as primary, we seem to face a serious problem. Binary (...) beliefs are insufficiently discriminating. If we treat them as primary, we will lack the resources needed for fruitful theorizing. This problem can, I argue, be solved if we think of an agent’s degree of belief that p as reducible to her binary believing that p and the change in the apparent reasons that would be needed to get her to withhold. (shrink)
A dogma of contemporary normative theorizing holds that some reasons are distinctively moral while others are not. Call this view Reasons Pluralism. This essay looks at four approaches to vindicating the apparent distinction between moral and non-moral reasons. In the end, however, all are found wanting. Though not dispositive, the failure of these approaches supplies strong evidence that the dogma of Reasons Pluralism is ill-founded.
_Thinking Through Utilitarianism: A Guide to Contemporary Arguments_ offers something new among texts elucidating the ethical theory known as Utilitarianism. Intended primarily for students ready to dig deeper into moral philosophy, it examines, in a dialectical and reader-friendly manner, a set of normative principles and a set of evaluative principles leading to what is perhaps the most defensible version of Utilitarianism. With the aim of laying its weaknesses bare, each principle is serially introduced, challenged, and then defended. The result is (...) a battery of stress tests that shows with great clarity not only what is attractive about the theory, but also where its problems lie. It will fascinate any student ready for a serious investigation into what we ought to do and what is of value. (shrink)
In recent years, an impressive research program has developed around non-analytic reductions of the normative. Nevertheless, non-analytic naturalists face a damning dilemma: either they need to give the same reductive analysis for epistemic and practical reasons, or they can give a different analyses by treating epistemic and practical reasons as a species of the larger genus, reasonhood. Since, for example, a desire-based account of epistemic reasons is implausible, the reductionist must opt for the latter. Yet, if the desire-based account of (...) practical reasons is merely a species of the larger genus, then, due to a violation of irreflexivity, the reduction fails. (shrink)
In this essay, I argue, on the one hand, if we think egalitarian considerations justify libraries, we should think that these same egalitarian considerations justify stealing books online. If, on the other hand, we think that economic incentives justify a prohibition against stealing books online, we should think those same economic considerations justify a prohibition against libraries.
The received view on the contributions of the physics community to the birth of molecular biology tends to present the physics community as sharing a basic level consensus on how physics should be brought to bear on biology. I argue, however, that a close examination of the views of three leading physicists involved in the birth of molecular biology, Bohr, Delbrück, and Schrödinger, suggests that there existed fundamental disagreements on how physics should be employed to solve problems in biology even (...) within the physics community. In particular, I focus on how these three figures differed sharply in their assessment of the relevance of complementarity, the potential of chemical methods, and the relative importance of classical physics. In addition, I assess and develop Roll-Hansen’s attempt to conceptualize this history in terms of models of scientific change advanced by Kuhn and Lakatos. Though neither model is fully successful in explaining the divergence of views among these three physicists, I argue that the extent and quality of difference in their views help elucidate and extend some themes that are left opaque in Kuhn’s model. (shrink)
Due to the significant and often careless human impact on the natural environment, there are serious problems facing the people of today and of future generations. To date, ethical, aesthetic, religious, and economic arguments for the conservation and protection of the natural environment have made relatively little headway. Another approach, one capable of garnering attention and motivating action, would be welcome. There is another approach, one that I will call a rights approach. Speaking generally, this approach is an attempt to (...) address environmental issues via the language and theory of legal and moral rights. Ultimately, it is our duties to our fellow humans that explain why we have duties regarding the natural environment. There are three main contenders among theories that can be called rights approaches to environmental issues. The first identifies the (alleged) human right to a healthful environment as the source of our obligations to conserve and protect nature. The second approach has it that our duties to nature arise from the rights of the constituents of nature themselves, its flora and fauna. The third approach to addressing environmental problems via rights is, I argue, the best path to environmental conservation and protection. This approach—which grounds duties toward nature on the human right to health—has the benefits of being a straightforward, uncontroversial, and simple approach to issues and problems that desperately need to be resolved. (shrink)
In this brief essay, we clarify Cohen’s ‘Facts and Principles’ argument, and then argue that the objections posed by two recent critiques of Cohen—Robert Jubb (Res Publica 15:337–353, 2009) and Edward Hall (Res Publica 19:173–181, 2013)—look especially vulnerable to the charge of being self-defeating. It may still be that Cohen’s view concerning facts and principles is false. Our aim here is merely to show that two recent attempts to demonstrate its falsity are unlikely to succeed.
This article argues that the existing philosophy of EU law, such as it may be perceived, is flawed. Through a series of propositions it claims that EU law is infected by an underlying indeterminacy of ideal that has deeply affected the appreciation and realization of stated values. These values, the most fundamental of which appear in Article 6(1) of the Treaty of European Union, have been applied in a haphazard fashion and without an understanding of normative content. The European Court (...) of Justice has instead adopted a largely pragmatic approach that has focused on principles or virtues of governance rather than attempting to offer a way of satisfactorily defining values or ensuring their realization. The underlying philosophy thus appears to be based on a theory of interpretation (of original political will) rather than a theory of justice. The recent decision in Kadi paradoxically offers not only confirmation of the argument presented but also a judicial appreciation that a new direction may be desirable, one inspired by a law based on the predominance of fundamental values with particular emphasis on respect for fundamental rights. (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.
Developing self-report Likert scales is an essential part of modern psychology. However, it is hard for psychologists to remain apprised of best practices as methodological developments accumulate. To address this, this current paper offers a selective review of advances in Likert scale development that have occurred over the past 25 years. We reviewed six major measurement journals between the years 1995–2019 and identified key advances, ultimately including 40 papers and offering written summaries of each. We supplemented this review with an (...) in-depth discussion of five particular advances: conceptions of construct validity, creating better construct definitions, readability tests for generating items, alternative measures of precision [e.g., coefficient omega and item response theory information], and ant colony optimization for creating short forms. The Supplementary Material provides further technical details on these advances and offers guidance on software implementation. This paper is intended to be a resource for psychological researchers to be informed about more recent psychometric progress in Likert scale creation. (shrink)
In the Summer of 2015 Sotiris Mitralexis and Andrew T. J. Kaethler organized a conference held in Delphi, Greece, titled “Ontology and History: A Challenging and Auspicious Dialogue for Philosophy and Theology.” The conference brought together over sixty scholars from various parts of the globe, representing Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism—truly an ecumenical affair. The topic of the conference, which is well represented in this volume of Forum Philosophicum, was purposefully broad because it is a question that remains open and (...) which sits at the centre of the Christian philosophical and theological tradition. Joseph Ratzinger posited in several works that the interplay between salvation history and ontology is the most pressing concern for modern theology. In Introduction to Christianity—a modest title for a robust piece of theology—Ratzinger notes that early in the Christian tradition a division arose between theological metaphysics and theology of history, each seen as two different things; “people indulge either in ontological speculation or anti-philosophical theology of salvation history, thus losing in a really tragic way the original unity of Christian thought. At the start Christian thinking is neither merely ‘soteriological’ nor merely ‘metaphysical’ but molded by the unity of history and being. Here lies an important task for modern theological work, which is torn once again by this dilemma.”. (shrink)
Both Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart draw on the image of illuminated air to explain how being belongs to creatures. While for Aquinas the image reveals how an actus essendi can be a creature’s own, and yet not belong to it by means of its essential nature, Eckhart employs the image to show that being merely flows through creatures without taking up root as a real quality. Eckhart’s parsing of the image, I argue, invokes his claim that nothing is formally (...) in both the cause and effect if the cause is a true cause. Thus, whereas creatures attain an analogical similitude of being according to Aquinas, Eckhart disputes the emergence of finite being distinct from God. He instead advocates detachment from such an apparent perfection, but not because God retains all existential wealth, granting nothing to impoverished creatures. Through detachment, both creatures and God return to their uncreated ground. (shrink)
There is a tension between Robert Talisse's rejection of Deweyan democracy and his project of formulating a workable Peircean conception of democracy. If he follows Rawls in taking reasonable pluralism to be a permanent condition, then his Peircean conception of democracy is undermined. But, if he does not commit to the permanence of reasonable pluralism, then his rejection of Deweyan democracy is problematic. Since he chooses the latter interpretation, Talisse must bite the bullet and recognize that Peircean epistemic perfectionists cannot (...) yet bid a definitive farewell to Deweyan democracy. (shrink)
This is the introductory essay for the first of two special issues of Radical Philosophy Review marking the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of one of the twentieth century’s most provocative, subversive, and widely read works of radical theory—Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, which we now reassess in an effort to contribute to the critical theory of our time. What are the possibilities and limits of our current situation? What are the prospects for moving beyond one-dimensionality? A summary (...) of each of the articles featured in this special issue is also provided. (shrink)
Currently there is little guidance given to teachers in selecting focal issues for socio-scientific issues -based teaching and learning. As a majority of teachers regularly collaborate with other teachers, understanding what factors influence collaborative SSI-based curriculum design is critical. We invited 18 secondary science teachers to participate in a professional development on SSI-based instruction and curriculum design. Through intentional design, we studied how these teachers formed curriculum design teams and how they selected focal issues for SSI-based curriculum units. We developed (...) substantiative grounded theory to explain these processes. Key findings include how teachers’ tensions and agential moves worked in tandem in the development of a safe and shared place to share discontentment and generate opportunities to form design teams and select issues. Teacher passion and existing resources are factors as influential as considerations for issue relevance. Implications for teacher professional development and research are included. (shrink)
:High-fidelity simulation is a relatively new teaching modality, which is gaining widespread acceptance in medical education. To date, dozens of studies have proven the usefulness of HFS in improving student, resident, and attending physician performance, with similar results in the allied health fields. Although many studies have analyzed the utility of simulation, few have investigated why it works. A recent study illustrated that permissive failure, leading to simulated mortality, is one HFS method that can improve long-term performance. Critics maintain, however, (...) that the use of simulated death is troubling and excessive. Given the controversy regarding simulated death, we consider the data about the educational value and the emotional harms associated with them, expecting that evidence could be useful in resolving the question. The goal of this narrative review is to explore the argument against simulated mortality and provide educators with an imperative as to why it can be safely utilized. (shrink)
This book explores the relationship between being and time —between ontology and history— in the context of both Christian theology and philosophical inquiry. Each chapter tests the limits of this thematic vis-à-vis a variety of sources — ancient, modern and contemporary.
One vexing question for Desire Satisfactionism is this: At what time do you benefit from a satisfied desire? Recently Eden Lin has proposed an intriguing answer. On this proposal – Asymmetrism – when past-directed desires are satisfied, the time interval during which you benefit is the time of the desire; and, when future-directed desires are satisfied, the time interval during which you benefit is the time of the object. In this essay, I argue that Asymmetrism forces us to give implausible (...) answers to a different question: To what extent does a given satisfied desire benefit you? (shrink)
Drawing on the work of Jeremy Bentham, we can forward a parity thesis concerning formal and substantive legal invalidity. Formal and substantive invalidity are, according to this thesis, traceable to the same source, namely, the sovereign's inability to adjust expectations to motivate obedience. The parity thesis, if defensible, has great appeal for positivists. Explaining why contradictory or contrary mandates yield invalidity is unproblematic. But providing an account of content-based invalidity invites the collapse of the separation between what the law is (...) and what the law ought to be. Grounding formal and substantive invalidity in a unified source allows us to avoid bringing in any additional apparatus that might compromise this separation. This essay fleshes out and defends the parity thesis. (shrink)
This essay challenges the analogy argument. The analogy argument aims to show that the international domain satisfies the conditions of a Hobbesian state of nature: There fails to be a super-sovereign to keep all in awe, and hence, like persons in the state of nature, sovereigns are in a war every sovereign against every sovereign. By turning to Hobbes’ account of authorization, however, we see that subjects are under no obligation to obey a sovereign’s commands when doing so would contradict (...) the very end that motivated the authorization of the sovereign in the first place. There is thus an important disanalogy between natural and artificial persons, and this accordingly produces different reactions to the state of nature. (shrink)
Due largely to the influential work of Ronald Dworkin, there is an ongoing debate concerning the possibility of genuine metaethical theorizing. Dworkin, and others, argue that metaethical theories collapse into first-order normative theories. In his short and widely neglected paper, L.W. Sumner provides a compelling account of how to engage in metaethical theorizing while avoiding substantive moral commitments.
Against non-analytic naturalism and quietist realism, I defend a robust form of non-naturalism. The argument proceeds as follows: In the face of extensional underdetermination, quietist realism cannot non-question-beggingly respond to alternative accounts that offer formally identical but substantively different interpretations of what reasons are. They face what we might call the reasons appropriation problem. In light of this problem, quietists ought to abandon their view in favor of robust realism. By permitting substantive metaphysical claims we can then argue, based on (...) reasonhood being a relation, that reasonhood is an abstract universal. If reasonhood is an abstract universal, then we can non-question-beggingly assert that the counting in favor of relation is a general kind or genus. This poses a dilemma for non-analytic naturalists: either they need to give the same reductive analysis for epistemic and practical reasons, or they can give a different analyses by treating epistemic and practical reasons as a species of the larger genus. However, the former looks extensionally implausible epistemic reasons are not desire-based and the latter entails that the reduction, via a violation of irreflexivity, fails to ground reasonhood. Naturalistic reductions of the normative, accordingly, face a damning dilemma. We should, in the face of this argument, thus accept a robust form of non-naturalist realism. (shrink)
Personal relationships matter. Traditional Consequentialism, given its exclusive focus on agent-neutral goodness, struggles to account for this fact. A recent variant of the theory—one incorporating agent-relativity—is thought to succeed where its traditional counterpart fails. Yet, to secure this advantage, the view must take on certain normative and evaluative commitments concerning personal relationships. As a result, the theory permits cases in which agents do as they ought, yet later ought to prefer that they had done otherwise. That a theory allows such (...) cases is a serious defect. We thus conclude that, in terms of how the theories handle personal relationships, agent-relative consequentialism fairs no better than its traditional counterpart. (shrink)
A familiar objection to mental state theories of well-being proceeds as follows: Describe a good life. Contrast it with one identical in mental respects, but lacking a connection to reality. Then observe that mental state theories of well-being implausibly hold both lives in equal esteem. Conclude that such views are false. Here we argue this objection fails. There are two ways reality may be thought to matter for well-being. We want to contribute to reality, and we want our experience of (...) the world to be veridical. Yet, if one accepts that reality matters in either of these ways, one must posit differences in well-being where no such differences exist. (shrink)
Are the lives of those fighting on the unjust side of a war worth less than the lives of those fighting on the just side? It is tempting to answer Yes. There is a powerful and popular rationale for this verdict: Things are intrinsically better when people get what they deserve. According to this view, the goodness of a life is the product of one’s desert-adjusted welfare. In this essay, I highlight the troubling implications that adjusting for desert has in (...) the context of war. The implausibility of these implications calls into question the core idea of the desert-adjusted account: namely, that there is some level of welfare that each person deserves, and things would go best if everyone were at these levels. (shrink)