Collected and edited by Noah Levin -/- Table of Contents: -/- UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY ETHICS: TECHNOLOGY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND IMMIGRATION 1 The “Trolley Problem” and Self-Driving Cars: Your Car’s Moral Settings (Noah Levin) 2 What is Ethics and What Makes Something a Problem for Morality? (David Svolba) 3 Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr) 4 A Defense of Affirmative Action (Noah Levin) 5 The Moral Issues of Immigration (B.M. Wooldridge) 6 The Ethics of (...) our Digital Selves (Noah Levin) -/- UNIT TWO: TORTURE, DEATH, AND THE “GREATER GOOD” 7 The Ethics of Torture (Martine Berenpas) 8 What Moral Obligations do we have (or not have) to Impoverished Peoples? (B.M. Wooldridge) 9 Euthanasia, or Mercy Killing (Nathan Nobis) 10 An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Noah Levin) 11 Common Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) 12 Better (Philosophical) Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) -/- UNIT THREE: PERSONS, AUTONOMY, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND RIGHTS 13 Animal Rights (Eduardo Salazar) 14 John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance” (Ben Davies) 15 Environmental Ethics: Climate Change (Jonathan Spelman) 16 Rape, Date Rape, and the “Affirmative Consent” Law in California (Noah Levin) 17 The Ethics of Pornography: Deliberating on a Modern Harm (Eduardo Salazar) 18 The Social Contract (Thomas Hobbes) -/- UNIT FOUR: HAPPINESS 19 Is Pleasure all that Matters? Thoughts on the “Experience Machine” (Prabhpal Singh) 20 Utilitarianism (J.S. Mill) 21 Utilitarianism: Pros and Cons (B.M. Wooldridge) 22 Existentialism, Genetic Engineering, and the Meaning of Life: The Fifths (Noah Levin) 23 The Solitude of the Self (Elizabeth Cady Stanton) 24 Game Theory, the Nash Equilibrium, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Douglas E. Hill) -/- UNIT FIVE: RELIGION, LAW, AND ABSOLUTE MORALITY 25 The Myth of Gyges and The Crito (Plato) 26 God, Morality, and Religion (Kristin Seemuth Whaley) 27 The Categorical Imperative (Immanuel Kant) 28 The Virtues (Aristotle) 29 Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche) 30 Other Moral Theories: Subjectivism, Relativism, Emotivism, Intuitionism, etc. (Jan F. Jacko). (shrink)
Sober (1992) has recently evaluated Brandon's (1982, 1990; see also 1985, 1988) use of Salmon's (1971) concept of screening-off in the philosophy of biology. He critiques three particular issues, each of which will be considered in this discussion.
It is sometimes claimed that forgiveness involves the cancellation of a moral debt. This way of speaking about forgiveness exploits an analogy between moral forgiveness and economic debt-cancellation. Call the view that moral forgiveness is like economic debt-cancellation the Economic Model of Forgiveness. In this article I articulate and motivate the model, defend it against some recent objections, and pose a new puzzle for this way of thinking about forgiveness.
what is now the mainstream view as to the best way forward in the dream of engineering reliable software systems out of autonomous agents. The way of using formal logics to specify, implement and verify distributed systems of interacting units using a guiding analogy of beliefs, desires and intentions. The implicit message behind the book is this: Distributed Artificial Intelligence (DAI) can be a respectable engineering science. It says: we use sound formal systems; can cite established philosophical foundations; and will (...) be able to build reliable and flexible software systems. (shrink)
As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses a larger set of issues. William (...) Paley saw clearly that we sometimes have an excellent reason to postulate the existence of an intelligent designer. If we find a watch on the heath, we reasonably infer that it was produced by an intelligent watchmaker. This design argument makes perfect sense. Why is it any different to claim that the eye was produced by an intelligent designer? Both critics and defenders of the design argument need to understand what the ground rules are for inferring that an intelligent designer is the unseen cause of an observed effect. (shrink)
I argue for the primacy of the mental from recent physicalists’ endorsements of phenomenal transparency and the non-transparency of the physical. I argue that the conjunction of these views shows that (1) arguments for dualism from introspection are difficult to resist; and (2) a kind of Hempel’s dilemma that removes constraints that block substance dualism. This shows that (1) raises the probability of the primacy of the mental, while (2) lowers the probability of the primacy of the physical. Lastly, I (...) argue that the conjunction of (1) and (2) raise the probability of substance dualism. (shrink)
ABSTRACTP.F. Strawson claimed that forgiveness is such an essential part of our moral practices that we could not extricate it from our form of life even if we so desired. But what is it about forgiveness that would make it such a central feature of our moral experience? In this paper, I suggest that the answer has to do with what I will call the normative significance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is normatively significant in the sense that, in its paradigmatic instances, (...) forgiving alters the operative norms bearing on the interaction between the victim and the wrongdoer in certain characteristic ways. My project here is, first, to clarify the ways that paradigmatic cases of forgiveness alter the norms of interaction between victim and wrongdoer and to argue that it is in this respect that forgiveness is a normatively significant feature of our moral responsibility practices. Second, I show that most extant theories of forgiveness fail to explain the characteristic ways in which forgiving alters norms. Th... (shrink)
The exclusion problem is held to show that mental and physical events are identical by claiming that the denial of this identity is incompatible with the causal completeness of physics and the occurrence of mental causation. The problem relies for its motivation on the claim that overdetermination of physical effects by mental and physical causes is objectionable for a variety of reasons. In this paper, I consider four different definitions of? overdetermination? and argue that, on each, overdetermination in all cases (...) of mental causation either does not occur or is unobjectionable, even when mental and physical events are non-identical. I therefore conclude that the exclusion problem cannot be used as a reason to accept that mental and physical events are identical unless some other definition of? overdetermination? is provided. (shrink)
In his paper, “The Paradox of Forgiveness“ (this Journal 6 (2009), p. 365-393), Leo Zaibert defends the novel and interesting claim that to forgive is deliberately to refuse to punish. I argue that this is mistaken.
At a 2011 meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, N. T. Wright offered four reasons for rejecting the existence of soul. This was surprising, as many Christian philosophers had previously taken Wright's defense of a disembodied intermediate state as a defense of a substance dualist view of the soul. In this paper, I offer responses to each of Wright's objections, demonstrating that Wright's arguments fail to undermine substance dualism. In so doing, I expose how popular arguments against dualism fail, (...) such as dualism is merely an unwarranted influence of Greek culture on Christianity, and substance dualism is merely a soul-of-the-gaps hypothesis. Moreover, I demonstrate that Wright himself has offered a powerful reason for adopting substance dualism in his previous works. In conclusion I offer a view that explains why the human soul needs a resurrected body. (shrink)
Philosophers writing on forgiveness typically defend the Resentment Theory of Forgiveness, the view that forgiveness is the overcoming of resentment. Rarely is much more said about the nature of resentment or how it is overcome when one forgives. Pamela Hieronymi, however, has advanced detailed accounts both of the nature of resentment and how one overcomes resentment when one forgives. In this paper, I argue that Hieronymi’s account of the nature of forgiveness is committed to two implausible claims about the norms (...) bearing on forgiveness. Her account is highly instructive, however, for it brings into relief how certain intuitive views about the norms of forgiveness should be used to constrain our theories about its nature. I conclude by defending this methodological proposal. (shrink)
Moral grandstanding is a pervasive feature of public discourse. Many of us can likely recognize that we have engaged in grandstanding at one time or another. While there is nothing new about the phenomenon of grandstanding, we think that it has not received the philosophical attention it deserves. In this essay, we provide an account of moral grandstanding as the use of public discourse for moral self-promotion. We then show that our account, with support from some standard theses of social (...) psychology, explains the characteristic ways that grandstanding is manifested in public moral discourse. We conclude by arguing that there are good reasons to think that moral grandstanding is typically morally bad and should be avoided. (shrink)
Conciliatory views about disagreement with one’s epistemic peers lead to a somewhat troubling skeptical conclusion: that often, when we know others disagree, we ought to be (perhaps much) less sure of our beliefs than we typically are. One might attempt to extend this skeptical conclusion by arguing that disagreement with merely possible epistemic agents should be epistemically significant to the same degree as disagreement with actual agents, and that, since for any belief we have, it is possible that someone should (...) disagree in the appropriate way, we ought to be much less sure of all of our beliefs than we typically are. In this paper, I identify what I take to be the main motivation for thinking that actual disagreement is epistemically significant and argue that it does not also motivate the epistemic significance of merely possible disagreement. (shrink)
This anthology collects some of the most important papers on what is believed to be the major force in evolution, natural selection. An issue of great consequence in the philosophy of biology concerns the levels at which, and the units upon which selection acts. In recent years, biologists and philosophers have published a large number of papers bearing on this subject. The papers selected for inclusion in this book are divided into three main sections covering the history of the subject, (...) explaining its conceptual foundations, and focusing on kin and group selection and higher levels of selection.One of the book's interesting features is that it draws together material from the biological and philosophical literatures. The philosophical literature, having thoroughly absorbed the biological material, now offers conceptual tools suitable for the reworking of the biological arguments. Although a full symbiosis has yet to develop, this anthology offers a unique resource for students in both biology and philosophy.Robert N. Brandon is Professor in the Philosophy Department, Duke University. Richard M. Burian is Professor of Philosophy and Department Chairman, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.A Bradford Book. (shrink)
Spiritual formation currently lacks a robust epistemology. Christian theology and philosophy often spend more time devoted to an epistemology of propositions rather than an epistemology of knowing persons. This paper is an attempt to move toward a more robust account of knowing persons in general and God in particular. After working through various aspects of the nature of this type of knowledge this theory is applied to specific issues germane to spiritual formation, such as the justification of understanding spiritual growth (...) on an integrative and holistic (heart and mind) model, the reality of hearing God’s voice, and knowing his activity, as well as how such a theory should change the shape of sermons, evangelism, and apologetics. (shrink)
Legal systems often rule that people own objects in their territory. We propose that an early-developing ability to make territory-based inferences of ownership helps children address informational demands presented by ownership. Across 6 experiments (N = 504), we show that these inferences develop between ages 3 and 5 and stem from two aspects of the psychology of ownership. First, we find that a basic ability to infer that people own objects in their territory is already present at age 3 (Experiment (...) 1). Children even make these inferences when the territory owner unintentionally acquired the objects and was unaware of them (Experiments 2 and 3). Second, we find that between ages 3 and 5, children come to consider past events in these judgments. They move from solely considering the current location of an object in territory-based inferences, to also considering and possibly inferring where it originated (Experiments 4 to 6). Together, these findings suggest that territory-based inferences of ownership are unlikely to be constructions of the law. Instead, they may reflect basic intuitions about ownership that operate from early in development. (shrink)
One account of forgiveness claims that to forgive is to forbear punishment. Call this the Punishment-Forbearance Account of forgiveness. In this paper I argue that forbearing punishment is neither necessary nor sufficient for forgiveness.
Artworks frequently are the objects of multiple and apparently conflicting aesthetic judgements. This commonplace of the artworld poses a challenge for realist metaphysics, because to assert conflicting judgements of an artwork seems to amount to asserting p & p. Critical pluralism is an ever-more frequently invoked solution to this impasse. What its varieties share in common is the claim that the disagreement between judgements is only an apparent one. I argue, however, that critical pluralism masquerades either as relativism or anti-realism. (...) I examine a number of pluralist proposals, including one that attempts to reconcile pluralism with critical monism, and argue that they are inadequate to their advertised task. Finally, I sketch a solution employing dialetheic logic that captures both intuitions about these cases: that sometimes, judgements about artworks can truly conflict and jointly be true. (shrink)
In ‘Listening to Music Together’, Nick Zangwill offers three arguments which aim to establish that listening to music can never be a joint activity. If any of these arguments were sound, then our experiences of music, qua object of aesthetic attention, would be essentially private. In this paper, I argue that Zangwill’s arguments are unsound and I develop an account of shared musical experience that defends three main conclusions. First, joint listening is not merely possible but a common feature of (...) our socially situated experiences of music. Second, when listening with others our experience of the music and our sense of community with our fellow listeners often reciprocally enhance one another. Third, how deeply and intimately we share a musical experience with others depends upon such factors as our respective backgrounds, interests, and levels of expertise. (shrink)
In this paper, we examine how polycystic ovary syndrome is racialized in biomedical research. Drawing from Star’s seminal concept of triangulation, we analyze how the diagnostic criteria for PCOS combine two different biomarkers: body hair and testosterone. Hair and hormones are both haunted by their use in eugenic research, and as clinical measures, they can carry forward powerful narratives of biological difference. PCOS researchers circulate strong claims about racial difference in hirsutism as if they were established knowledge, sometimes calling for (...) race-specific diagnostic thresholds. Tracing the links between race and hirsutism, hirsutism and testosterone, and testosterone and race, we find that these connections are all conceptualized in ambiguous and inconsistent ways. Through triangulation, the uncertainty clouding each link is mitigated by the apparent strength of the chain as a whole. The logic linking race to disease is attenuated, allowing race to persist as a ghost variable. As PCOS is increasingly reframed as a risk factor for other conditions, racial stratification is submerged, implicit but actionable, at every stage of the life course cascade of risk. (shrink)
Sometimes it is wrong to imagine or take pleasure in imagining certain things, and likewise it is sometimes wrong to prompt these things. Some argue that certain fictive imaginings—imaginings of fictional states of affairs—are intrinsically wrong or that taking pleasure in certain fictive imaginings is wrong and so prompting either would also be wrong. These claims sometimes also serve as premises in arguments linking the ethical properties of a fiction to its artistic value. However, even if we grant that it (...) might sometimes be wrong to imagine x or to take pleasure in imagining x, nothing follows about the ethical status of fictively imagining x, with or without pleasure. Prompting some fictive imagining is intrinsically wrong only when the fiction is a means to encourage for export from the fiction to the actual world some belief or attitude that it would be blameworthy to hold. The failure of arguments for the wrongness of certain fictive imaginings and their prompting lies in part in a failure to recognize that imagining x and fictively imagining x are distinct mental acts. This distinction blocks many arguments attempting to forge a link between a work's ethical properties and its artistic properties. (shrink)
Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology examines the tension between God and the world through a constructive reading of the Trinitarian theologies and Christologies of Sergii Bulgakov, Karl Barth, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. It focuses on what is called 'the problematic of divine freedom and necessity' and the response of the writers. 'Problematic' refers to God being simultaneously radically free and utterly bound to creation. God did not need to create and redeem the world in Christ. It is (...) a contingent free gift. Yet, on the other side of a dialectic, he also has eternally determined himself to be God as Jesus Christ. He must create and redeem the world to be God as he has so determined. In this way the world is given a certain 'free necessity' by him because if there were no world then there would be no Christ. A spectrum of different concepts of freedom and necessity and a theological ideal of a balance between the same are outlined and then used to illumine the writers and to articulate a constructive response to the problematic. Brandon Gallaher shows that the classical Christian understanding of God having a non-necessary relationship to the world and divine freedom being a sheer assertion of God's will must be completely rethought. Gallaher proposes a Trinitarian, Christocentric, and cruciform vision of divine freedom. God is free as eternally self-giving, self-emptying and self-receiving love. The work concludes with a contemporary theology of divine freedom founded on divine election. (shrink)
In this, the first essay in a two-part series, I begin by distinguishing between three kinds of inquiries about divine forgiveness. I then canvass two approaches to theorizing the nature of divine forgiveness, developing them in various ways, and noting where, in my estimation, there are problems.
According to Peter van Inwagen, C. S. Lewis failed in his attempt to undermine naturalism with his Argument from Reason. According to van Inwagen, Lewis provides no justification for his central premise, that naturalism is inconsistent with holding beliefs for reasons. What is worse, van Inwagen argues that the main premise in Lewis's argument from reason is false. We argue that it is not false. The defender of Lewis's argument can make use of the problem of mental causal drainage, a (...) longstanding issue in philosophy of mind, to show how van Inwagen's objection fails. (shrink)
Using a unique data set of causal usage drawn from research articles published between 2006–2008 in the American Journal of Sociology and American Sociological Review, this article offers an empirical assessment of causality in American sociology. Testing various aspects of what we consider the conventional wisdom on causality in the discipline, we find that “variablistic” or “covering law” models are not the dominant way of making causal claims, research methods affect but do not determine causal usage, and the use of (...) explicit causal language and the concept of “mechanisms” to make causal claims is limited. Instead, we find that metaphors and metaphoric reasoning are fundamental for causal claims-making in the discipline. On this basis, we define three dominant causal types used in sociology today, which we label the Probabilistic, Initiating and Conditioning types. We theorize this outcome as demonstrating the primary role that cognitive models play in providing inference-rich metaphors that allow sociologists to map causal relationships on to empirical processes. (shrink)
This article revisits one of John Rawls's rare forays into activist politics, his proposal presented to the Harvard faculty, calling for a denunciation of the “2-S” system of student deferments from conscription. In little-studied archival papers, Rawls argued that the draft both exposed “background” structural racial injustice and constituted a burdening of black Americans that violated the norms of fair cooperation. Rather than obscuring racial injustice and focusing exclusively on economic inequality, as Charles Mills has claimed, Rawls rejected the ascendant (...) conservative views that naturalized black poverty or else attributed it to cultural pathologies in black families. Thus Rawls found nothing illicit in taking the position of a disadvantaged racial group as a relevant comparison when applying his ideal theory to nonideal circumstances. However, I contend in this article that Rawls's account of political philosophy as an attempt to find a consensus may be similarly ideological, leading him to displace the reality of conflict through begging descriptions, expressivist formulations, and historical romanticism. (shrink)
Much of the literature on the epistemology of disagreement focuses on the rational responses to disagreement, and to disagreement with an epistemic peer in particular. The Equal Weight View claims that in cases of peer disagreement each dissenting peer opinion is to be given equal weight and, in a case of two opposing equally-weighted opinions, each party should adopt the attitude which ‘splits the difference’. The Equal Weight View has been taken by both its critics and its proponents to have (...) quite drastic skeptical ramifications given contingent empirical facts that we are aware of regarding disagreements in philosophy, religion, science, and politics. In this paper,we begin by clarifying the central claims of the Equal Weight View (Section 2) and then examine two routes from the Equal Weight View to skepticism about such matters that have been explored in the literature. The first claims that our awareness of peers or experts who disagree with us about such issues requires that we abandon our beliefs on these issues (Section 3). The second claims that our awareness of merely possible peers or experts who disagree with us requires us to abandon our beliefs (Section 4). We find both routes from the Equal Weight View to a form of skepticism defective. However, there are nearby considerations, explored in Sections 5 and 6,which (for better or worse) do lead to at least some skeptical consequences for the Equal WeightView, albeit for different reasons. (shrink)
This article distances the classic Patristic teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy on theosis from the pseudo-religious ideology of transhumanism. By appealing to the Silver Age of Russian theologians a century ago, today’s transhumanist vision is dubbed Mangodhood, an idolatrous construction of a technological Tower of Babel. In contrast, the classical Orthodox teaching of deification or theosis relies on the spiritual grace of the true God, rendering the true goal of religion to be Godmanhood.
We argue there is a deep conflict in Paul Moser’s work on divine hiddenness. Moser’s treatment of DH adopts a thesis we call SEEK: DH often results from failing to seek God on His terms. One way in which people err, according to Moser, is by trusting arguments of traditional natural theology to lead to filial knowledge of God. We argue that Moser’s SEEK thesis commits him to the counterfactual ACCESS: had the atheist sought after God in harmony with how (...) God reveals himself, she would have had access to filial knowledge of God. By failing to incorporate arguments or propositional evidence for God’s existence, Moser’s account leaves the doubting seeker without any evidential reason to think that either SEEK or ACCESS is true. Without this rational motivation in place, the doubting seeker is unlikely to seek after God in the way ACCESS describes. We argue that natural theology provides an evidential epistemic aid to motivate persons to seek God the way ACCESS describes. Thus, Moser is mistaken. Such arguments can be evidentially helpful in coming to know God. In conclusion, we explain how our reply naturally fits how we form and maintain trusting interpersonal relationships with others. (shrink)
Branching-time temporal logics have proved to be an extraordinarily successful tool in the formal specification and verification of distributed systems. Much of their success stems from the tractability of the model checking problem for the branching time logic CTL, which has made it possible to implement tools that allow designers to automatically verify that systems satisfy requirements expressed in CTL. Recently, CTL was generalised by Alur, Henzinger, and Kupferman in a logic known as Alternating-time Temporal Logic (ATL). The key insight (...) in ATL is that the path quantifiers of CTL could be replaced by cooperation modalities, of the form , where is a set of agents. The intended interpretation of an ATL formula is that the agents can cooperate to ensure that holds (equivalently, that have a winning strategy for ). In this paper, we extend ATL with knowledge modalities, of the kind made popular in the work of Fagin, Halpern, Moses, Vardi and colleagues. Combining these knowledge modalities with ATL, it becomes possible to express such properties as group can cooperate to bring about iff it is common knowledge in that . The resulting logic — Alternating-time Temporal Epistemic Logic (ATEL) — shares the tractability of model checking with its ATL parent, and is a succinct and expressive language for reasoning about game-like multiagent systems. (shrink)