Mill's most famous departure from Bentham is his distinction between higher and lower pleasures. This article argues that quality and quantity are independent and irreducible properties of pleasures that may be traded off against each other – as in the case of quality and quantity of wine. I argue that Mill is not committed to thinking that there are two distinct kinds of pleasure, or that ‘higher pleasures’ lexically dominate lower ones, and that the distinction is compatible with hedonism. I (...) show how this interpretation not only makes sense of Mill but allows him to respond to famous problems, such as Crisp's Haydn and the oyster and Nozick's experience machine. (shrink)
Consequentialists typically think that the moral quality of one's conduct depends on the difference one makes. But consequentialists may also think that even if one is not making a difference, the moral quality of one's conduct can still be affected by whether one is participating in an endeavour that does make a difference. Derek Parfit discusses this issue – the moral significance of what I call ‘participation’ – in the chapter of Reasons and Persons that he devotes to what he (...) calls ‘moral mathematics’. In my paper, I expose an inconsistency in Parfit's discussion of moral mathematics by showing how it gives conflicting answers to the question of whether participation matters. I conclude by showing how an appreciation of Parfit's error sheds some light on consequentialist thought generally, and on the debate between act- and rule-consequentialists specifically. (shrink)
Well-Being and Death addresses philosophical questions about death and the good life: what makes a life go well? Is death bad for the one who dies? How is this possible if we go out of existence when we die? Is it worse to die as an infant or as a young adult? Is it bad for animals and fetuses to die? Can the dead be harmed? Is there any way to make death less bad for us? Ben Bradley defends the (...) following views: pleasure, rather than achievement or the satisfaction of desire, is what makes life go well; death is generally bad for its victim, in virtue of depriving the victim of more of a good life; death is bad for its victim at times after death, in particular at all those times at which the victim would have been living well; death is worse the earlier it occurs, and hence it is worse to die as an infant than as an adult; death is usually bad for animals and fetuses, in just the same way it is bad for adult humans; things that happen after someone has died cannot harm that person; the only sensible way to make death less bad is to live so long that no more good life is possible. (shrink)
The distinction between perception and cognition has always had a firm footing in both cognitive science and folk psychology. However, there is little agreement as to how the distinction should be drawn. In fact, a number of theorists have recently argued that, given the ubiquity of top-down influences, we should jettison the distinction altogether. I reject this approach, and defend a pluralist account of the distinction. At the heart of my account is the claim that each legitimate way of marking (...) a border between perception and cognition deploys a notion I call ‘stimulus-control.’ Thus, rather than being a grab bag of unrelated kinds, the various categories of the perceptual are unified into a superordinate natural kind. (shrink)
I argue that in addressing worries about the validity and reliability of implicit measures of social cognition, theorists should draw on research concerning “entitativity perception.” In brief, an aggregate of people is perceived as highly “entitative” when its members exhibit a certain sort of unity. For example, think of the difference between the aggregate of people waiting in line at a bank versus a tight-knit group of friends: the latter seems more “groupy” than the former. I start by arguing that (...) entitativity perception modulates the activation of implicit biases and stereotypes. I then argue that recognizing this modulatory role will help researchers to address concerns surrounding the validity and reliability of implicit measures. (shrink)
In this article, I attempt to resuscitate the perennially unfashionable distinctive feeling theory of pleasure (and pain), according to which for an experience to be pleasant (or unpleasant) is just for it to involve or contain a distinctive kind of feeling. I do this in two ways. First, by offering powerful new arguments against its two chief rivals: attitude theories, on the one hand, and the phenomenological theories of Roger Crisp, Shelly Kagan, and Aaron Smuts, on the other. Second, by (...) showing how it can answer two important objections that have been made to it. First, the famous worry that there is no felt similarity to all pleasant (or unpleasant) experiences (sometimes called ‘the heterogeneity objection’). Second, what I call ‘Findlay’s objection’, the claim that it cannot explain the nature of our attraction to pleasure and aversion to pain. (shrink)
According to hedonism about well-being, lives can go well or poorly for us just in virtue of our ability to feel pleasure and pain. Hedonism has had many advocates historically, but has relatively few nowadays. This is mainly due to three highly influential objections to it: The Philosophy of Swine, The Experience Machine, and The Resonance Constraint. In this paper, I attempt to revive hedonism. I begin by giving a precise new definition of it. I then argue that the right (...) motivation for it is the ‘experience requirement’ (i.e., that something can benefit or harm a being only if it affects the phenomenology of her experiences in some way). Next, I argue that hedonists should accept a felt-quality theory of pleasure, rather than an attitude-based theory. Finally, I offer new responses to the three objections. Central to my responses are (i) a distinction between experiencing a pleasure (i.e., having some pleasurable phenomenology) and being aware of that pleasure, and (ii) an emphasis on diversity in one’s pleasures. (shrink)
Ben Fine traces the origins of social capital through the work of Becker, Bourdieu and Coleman and comprehensively reviews the literature across the social sciences. The text is uniquely critical of social capital, explaining how it avoids a proper confrontation with political economy and has become chaotic. This highly topical text addresses some major themes, including the shifting relationship between economics and other social sciences, the 'publish or perish' concept currently burdening scholarly integrity, and how a social science interdisciplinarity requires (...) a place for political economy together with cultural and social theory. (shrink)
Recent debate in metaethics over evolutionary debunking arguments against morality has shown a tendency to abstract away from relevant empirical detail. Here, I engage the debate about Darwinian debunking of morality with relevant empirical issues. I present four conditions that must be met in order for it to be reasonable to expect an evolved cognitive faculty to be reliable: the environment, information, error, and tracking conditions. I then argue that these conditions are not met in the case of our evolved (...) faculty for moral judgement. (shrink)
Thanks to David Kaplan (1989a, 1989b), we all know how to handle indexicals like ‘I’. ‘I’ doesn’t refer to an object simpliciter; rather, it refers to an object only relative to a context. In particular, relative to a context C, ‘I’ refers to the agent of C. Since different contexts can have different agents, ‘I’ can refer to different objects relative to different contexts. For example, relative to a context cwhose agent is Gottlob Frege, ‘I’ refers to Frege; relative to (...) a context 0* whose agent is Alexius.. (shrink)
Some healthcare systems are said to be grounded in solidarity because healthcare is funded as a form of mutual support. This article argues that health care systems that are grounded in solidarity have the right to penalise some users who are responsible for their poor health. This derives from the fact that solidary systems involve both rights and obligations and, in some cases, those who avoidably incur health burdens violate obligations of solidarity. Penalties warranted include direct patient contribution to costs, (...) and lower priority treatment, but not typically full exclusion from the healthcare system. We also note two important restrictions on this argument. First, failures of solidary obligations can only be assumed under conditions that are conducive to sufficiently autonomous choice, which occur when patients are given ‘Golden Opportunities’ to improve their health. Second, because poor health does not occur in a social vacuum, an insistence on solidarity as part of healthcare is legitimate only if all members of society are held to similar standards of solidarity. We cannot insist upon, and penalise failures of, solidarity only for those who are unwell, and who cannot afford to evade the terms of public health. (shrink)
What is it for a life to be meaningful? In this article, I defend what I call Consequentialism about Meaning in Life, the view that one's life is meaningful at time t just in case one's surviving at t would be good in some way, and one's life was meaningful considered as a whole just in case the world was made better in some way for one's having existed.
Three plausible views—Presentism, Truthmaking, and Independence—form an inconsistent triad. By Presentism, all being is present being. By Truthmaking, all truth supervenes on, and is explained in terms of, being. By Independence, some past truths do not supervene on, or are not explained in terms of, present being. We survey and assess some responses to this.
There is significant controversy over whether patients have a ‘right not to know’ information relevant to their health. Some arguments for limiting such a right appeal to potential burdens on others that a patient’s avoidable ignorance might generate. This paper develops this argument by extending it to cases where refusal of relevant information may generate greater demands on a publicly funded healthcare system. In such cases, patients may have an ‘obligation to know’. However, we cannot infer from the fact that (...) a patient has an obligation to know that she does not also have a right not to know. The right not to know is held against medical professionals at a formal institutional level. We have reason to protect patients’ control over the information that they receive, even if in individual instances patients exercise this control in ways that violate obligations. (shrink)
The move to satisficing has been thought to help consequentialists avoid the problem of demandingness. But this is a mistake. In this article I formulate several versions of satisficing consequentialism. I show that every version is unacceptable, because every version permits agents to bring about a submaximal outcome in order to prevent a better outcome from obtaining. Some satisficers try to avoid this problem by incorporating a notion of personal sacrifice into the view. I show that these attempts are unsuccessful. (...) I conclude that, if satisficing consequentialism is to remain a position worth considering, satisficers must show (i) that the move to satisficing is necessary to solve some problem, whether it be the demandingness problem or some other problem, and (ii) that there is a version of the view that does not permit the gratuitous prevention of goodness. (shrink)
Epicurus seems to have thought that death is not bad for the one who dies, since its badness cannot be located in time. I show that Epicurus’ argument presupposes Presentism, and I argue that death is bad for its victim at all and only those times when the person would have been living a life worth living had she not died when she did. I argue that my account is superior to competing accounts given by Thomas Nagel, Fred Feldman and (...) Neil Feit. (shrink)
If musical works are abstract objects, which cannot enter into causal relations, then how can we refer to musical works or know anything about them? Worse, how can any of our musical experiences be experiences of musical works? It would be nice to be able to sidestep these questions altogether. One way to do that would be to take musical works to be concrete objects. In this paper, we defend a theory according to which musical works are concrete objects. In (...) particular, the theory that we defend takes musical works to be fusions of performances. We defend this view from a series of objections, the first two of which are raised by Julian Dodd in a recent paper and the last of which is suggested by some comments of his in an earlier paper. (shrink)
In this paper, I reconstruct Robert Nozick's experience machine objection to hedonism about well-being. I then explain and briefly discuss the most important recent criticisms that have been made of it. Finally, I question the conventional wisdom that the experience machine, while it neatly disposes of hedonism, poses no problem for desire-based theories of well-being.
Adaptive preference formation is the unconscious altering of our preferences in light of the options we have available. Jon Elster has argued that this is bad because it undermines our autonomy. I agree, but think that Elster's explanation of why is lacking. So, I draw on a richer account of autonomy to give the following answer. Preferences formed through adaptation are characterized by covert influence (that is, explanations of which an agent herself is necessarily unaware), and covert influence undermines our (...) autonomy because it undermines the extent to which an agent's preferences are ones that she has decided upon for herself. This answer fills the lacuna in Elster's argument. It also allows us to draw a principled distinction between adaptive preference formation and the closely related phenomenon of character planning. (shrink)
Virtue-approaches to medical ethics are becoming ever more influential. Virtue theorists advocate redefining right or good action in medicine in terms of the character of the doctor performing the action. In medical education, too, calls are growing to reconceive medical education as a form of character formation. Empirical studies of doctors’ ethics from a virtue-perspective, however, are few and far between. In this respect, theoretical and empirical study of medical ethics are out of alignment. In this paper, we survey the (...) empirical study of medical ethics and find that most studies of doctors’ ethics are rules- or principles-based and not virtue-based. We outline the challenges that exist for studying medical ethics empirically from a virtue-based perspective and canvas the runners and riders in the effort to find virtue-based assessments of medical ethics. (shrink)
Can a musical work be created? Some say ‘no’. But, we argue, there is no handbook of universally accepted metaphysical truths that they can use to justify their answer. Others say ‘yes’. They have to find abstract objects that can plausibly be identified with musical works, show that abstract objects of this sort can be created, and show that such abstract objects can persist. But, we argue, none of the standard views about what a musical work is allows musical works (...) both to be created and to persist. (shrink)
Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift argue that education is a positional good; this, they hold, implies that there is a qualified case for leveling down educational provision. In this essay, Ben Kotzee discusses Brighouse and Swift's argument for leveling down. He holds that the argument fails in its own terms and that, in presenting the problem of educational justice as one of balancing education's positional and nonpositional benefits, Brighouse and Swift lose sight of what a consideration of the nonpositional benefits (...) by itself can reveal. Instead of focusing on education's positional benefits, Kotzee investigates what emphasizing education's nonpositional benefits would imply for educational justice. Drawing on recent work in social epistemology, Kotzee holds that theories of educational justice would benefit from a consideration of the virtue of epistemic justice, and he outlines solutions to a number of problems in the area from this perspective. (shrink)
Recent literature on intrinsic value contains a number of disputes about the nature of the concept. On the one hand, there are those who think states of affairs, such as states of pleasure or desire satisfaction, are the bearers of intrinsic value (“Mooreans”); on the other hand, there are those who think concrete objects, like people, are intrinsically valuable (“Kantians”). The contention of this paper is that there is not a single concept of intrinsic value about which Mooreans and Kantians (...) have disagreed, but rather two distinct concepts. I state a number of principles about intrinsic value that have typically (though not universally) been held by Mooreans, all of which are typically denied by Kantians. I show that there are distinct theoretical roles for a concept of intrinsic value to play in a moral framework. When we notice these distinct theoretical roles, we should realize that there is room for two distinct concepts of intrinsic value within a single moral framework: one that accords with some or all of the Moorean principles, and one that does not. (shrink)
In Parts of Classes and "Mathematics is Megethology" David Lewis shows how the ideology of set membership can be dispensed with in favor of parthood and plural quantification. Lewis's theory has it that singletons are mereologically simple and leaves the relationship between a thing and its singleton unexplained. We show how, by exploiting Kit Fine's mereology, we can resolve Lewis's mysteries about the singleton relation and vindicate the claim that a thing is a part of its singleton.
Purposeful infection of healthy volunteers with a microbial pathogen seems at odds with acceptable ethical standards, but is an important contemporary research avenue used to study infectious diseases and their treatments. Generally termed ‘controlled human infection studies’, this research is particularly useful for fast tracking the development of candidate vaccines and may provide unique insight into disease pathogenesis otherwise unavailable. However, scarce bioethical literature is currently available to assist researchers and research ethics committees in negotiating the distinct issues raised by (...) research involving purposefully infecting healthy volunteers. In this article, we present two separate challenge studies and highlight the ethical issues of human challenge studies as seen through a well-constructed framework. Beyond the same stringent ethical standards seen in other areas of medical research, we conclude that human challenge studies should also include: independent expert reviews, including systematic reviews; a publicly available rationale for the research; implementation of measures to protect the public from spread of infection beyond the research setting; and a new system for compensation for harm. We hope these additions may encourage safer and more ethical research practice and help to safeguard public confidence in this vital research alternative in years to come. (shrink)
Death has long been a pre-occupation of philosophers, and this is especially so today. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death collects 21 newly commissioned essays that cover current philosophical thinking of death-related topics across the entire range of the discipline. These include metaphysical topics--such as the nature of death, the possibility of an afterlife, the nature of persons, and how our thinking about time affects what we think about death--as well as axiological topics, such as whether death is bad (...) for its victim, what makes it bad to die, what attitude it is fitting to take towards death, the possibility of posthumous harm, and the desirability of immortality. The contributors also explore the views of ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Epicurus on topics related to the philosophy of death, and questions in normative ethics, such as what makes killing wrong when it is wrong, and whether it is wrong to kill fetuses, non-human animals, combatants in war, and convicted murderers. With chapters written by a wide range of experts in metaphysics, ethics, and conceptual analysis, and designed to give the reader a comprehensive view of recent developments in the philosophical study of death, this Handbook will appeal to a broad audience in philosophy, particularly in ethics and metaphysics. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider intellectualist and anti-intellectualist approaches to knowledge-how and propose a third solution: a virtue-based account of knowledge-how. I sketch the advantages of a virtue-based account of knowledge-how and consider whether we should prefer a reliabilist or a responsibilist virtue-account of knowledge-how. I argue that only a responsibilist account will maintain the crucial distinction between knowing how to do something and merely being able to do it. Such an account, I hold, must incorporate ‘learning how to do (...) something’ as an essential part. Drawing on an argument by Craig, I hold that the function of the concept of knowing how is to mark out practical experts whom one can trust either to perform an action on one's behalf, or to teach one how to perform that action oneself. The best way to identify practical experts, I hold, is to discover what they have learned about performing the action in question. In arguing for the importance of the concept ‘learning’ to the field of knowledge-how, I argue for a new connection between the philosophy of education and virtue epistemology. (shrink)
Uma interpretação corrente do fenômeno social ensina que todos os bens coletivos são bens convergentes. As concepções bem-estarista e utilitarista na economia e na filosofia, respectivamente, são os seus principais expoentes. A tese consiste em aceitar que “totalidades sociais” são inexoravelmente compostas de “partes” e que, por isso, na base de cada bem público ou social se encontrariam sempre os indivíduos, os quais seriam, em última análise, responsáveis pela sua existência. Assim, os bens públicos seriam bens para os quais convergem (...) interesses e escolhas dos agentes sociais. O presente estudo mostra, em primeiro lugar, segundo a compreensão de Taylor, que nem todos os bens coletivos são bens convergentes. Alguns bens sociais podem ser considerados bens irredutivelmente sociais, cuja justificativa se encontra na reflexão sobre o significado. Em segundo lugar, aborda a contribuição que a noção hegeliana de eticidade teve sobre a formulação desse argumento. (shrink)
The historical sciences, such as geology, evolutionary biology, and archaeology, appear to have no means to test hypotheses. However, on closer examination, reasoning in the historical sciences relies upon regularities, regularities that can be tested. I outline the role of regularities in the historical sciences, and in the process, blur the distinction between the historical sciences and the experimental sciences: all sciences deploy theories about the world in their investigations.
In the nineteenth century, astronomers thought that a planet between Mercury and the Sun was causing perturbations in the orbit of Mercury, and they introduced ‘Vulcan’ as a name for such a planet. But they were wrong: there was, and is, no intra-Mercurial planet. Still, these astronomers went around saying things like (2) Vulcan is a planet between Mercury and the Sun. Some philosophers think that, when nineteenth-century astronomers were theorizing about an intra-Mercurial planet, they created a hypothetical planet.
Strategies to increase influenza vaccination rates have typically targeted healthcare professionals and individuals in various high-risk groups such as the elderly. We argue that they should focus on increasing vaccination rates in children. Because children suffer higher influenza incidence rates than any other demographic group, and are major drivers of seasonal influenza epidemics, we argue that influenza vaccination strategies that serve to increase uptake rates in children are likely to be more effective in reducing influenza-related morbidity and mortality than those (...) targeting HCPs or the elderly. This is true even though influenza-related morbidity and mortality amongst children are low, except in the very young. Further, we argue that there are no decisive reasons to suppose that children-focused strategies are less ethically acceptable than elderly or HCP-focused strategies. (shrink)
In this paper, I set out and defend a new theory of value, whole-life welfarism. According to this theory, something is good only if it makes somebody better off in some way in his life considered as a whole. By focusing on lifetime, rather than momentary, well-being, a welfarist can solve two of the most vexing puzzles in value theory, The Badness of Death and The Problem of Additive Aggregation.
In this essay Ben Kotzee addresses the implications of Bernard Williams's distinction between “thick” and “thin” concepts in ethics for epistemology and for education. Kotzee holds that, as in the case of ethics, one may distinguish between “thick” and “thin” concepts of epistemology and, further, that this distinction points to the importance of the study of the intellectual virtues in epistemology. Following Harvey Siegel, Kotzee contends that “educated” is a thick epistemic concept, and he explores the consequences of this for (...) the subjects of epistemology and philosophy of education. Ultimately, Kotzee argues that its nature as a “thick” concept makes education suited to play an important role in explaining how the intellectual virtues can be acquired. (shrink)
Those who care about and engage in politics frequently fall victim to cognitive bias. Concerns that such bias impacts scholarship recently have prompted debates—notably, in philosophy and psychology—on the proper relationship between research and politics. One proposal emerging from these debates is that researchers studying politics have a professional duty to avoid political activism because it risks biasing their work. While sympathetic to the motivations behind this proposal, I suggest several reasons to reject a blanket duty to avoid activism: (1) (...) even if it reduced bias, this duty would make unreasonable demands on researchers; (2) this duty could hinder research by limiting viewpoint diversity; (3) this duty wrongly implies that academia offers a relative haven from bias compared to politics; and (4) not all forms of political activism pose an equal risk of bias. None of these points suggest that researchers should ignore the risk of bias. Rather, researchers should focus on stronger evidence-based strategies for reducing bias than a blanket recommendation to avoid politics. (shrink)
A key question for research on the evolutionary origins of morality concerns just what the target of an evolutionary explanation of morality should be. Some researchers focus on behaviors, others on systems of norms, yet others on moral emotions. Richard Joyce (2006) offers an evolutionary explanation for the trait of making moral judgments. Here, I defend Joyce’s account of moral judgment against two objections from Stephen Stich (2008). Stich’s first objection concerns the supposed universality of moral judgments as Joyce conceives (...) of them. I respond by undermining the empirical evidence upon which this objection is based. Stich’s second objection concerns the extent of the moral domain, which he takes to include far more than the considerations of harm and fairness central to Joyce’s account. In response, I outline several strategies for reconciling Stich’s observations with Joyce’s account. (shrink)
In medical ethics, a large body of work exists on the virtues that enable good medical practice. Medical virtue ethics singles out a number of virtues of the good doctor for attention; among others, these include empathy, care, truthfulness, and justice. According to medical ethicists like Pellegrino and Thomasma, however, phronesis, or “practical wisdom,” occupies a special place among these virtues. For Pellegrino and Thomasma, phronesis is “indispensable” to good medical practice, because it coordinates all the different moral virtues that (...) the doctor must bring to ethical decisions as part of wise moral action.... (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Millian Descriptivism: that is, the view that, although sentences that contain names express singular propositions, when they use those sentences speakers communicate descriptive propositions. More precisely, I argue that Millian Descriptivism fares no better (or worse) than Fregean Descriptivism: that is, the view that sentences express descriptive propositions. This is bad news for Millian Descriptivists who think that Fregean Descriptivism is dead.
Virtue ethics has long provided fruitful resources for the study of issues in medical ethics. In particular, study of the moral virtues of the good doctor—like kindness, fairness and good judgement—have provided insights into the nature of medical professionalism and the ethical demands on the medical practitioner as a moral person. Today, a substantial literature exists exploring the virtues in medical practice and many commentators advocate an emphasis on the inculcation of the virtues of good medical practice in medical education (...) and throughout the medical career. However, until very recently, no empirical studies have attempted to investigate which virtues, in particular, medical doctors and medical students tend to have or not to have, nor how these virtues influence how they think about or practise medicine. The question of what virtuous medical practice is, is vast and, as we have written elsewhere, the question of how to study doctors’ moral character is fraught with difficulty. In this paper, we report the results of a first-of-a-kind study that attempted to explore these issues at three medical schools in the United Kingdom. We identify which character traits are important in the good doctor in the opinion of medical students and doctors and identify which virtues they say of themselves they possess and do not possess. Moreover, we identify how thinking about the virtues contributes to doctors’ and medical students’ thinking about common moral dilemmas in medicine. In ending, we remark on the implications for medical education. (shrink)
According to the Standard View, a doctor who withdraws life-sustaining treatment does not kill the patient but rather allows the patient to die—an important distinction, according to some. I argue that killing can be understood in either of two ways, and given the relevant understanding, the Standard View is insulated from typical criticisms. I conclude by noting several problems for the Standard View that remain to be fully addressed.
This paper defends the simple view that in asserting that p, one lies iff one knows that p is false. Along the way it draws some morals about deception, knowledge, Gettier cases, belief, assertion, and the relationship between first- and higher-order norms.