To 'consequentialise' is to take a putatively non-consequentialist moral theory and show that it is actually just another form of consequentialism. Some have speculated that every moral theory can be consequentialised. If this were so, then consequentialism would be empty; it would have no substantive content. As I argue here, however, this is not so. Beginning with the core consequentialist commitment to 'maximising the good', I formulate a precise definition of consequentialism and demonstrate that, given this definition, several sorts of (...) moral theory resist consequentialisation. My strategy is to decompose consequentialism into three conditions, which I call 'agent neutrality', 'no moral dilemmas', and 'dominance', and then to exhibit some moral theories which violate each of these. (shrink)
Suppose we believe that a property F is coextensive with moral permissibility. F may be, for example, the property of having the best consequences, if we are Consequentialists, or that of conforming to a universalisable maxim, if we are Kantians, and so on. This may raise the following problem. It is plausible that permissibility is “closed under implication”: any act that is implied by a permissible act must itself be permissible. Yet, in some cases, F might not be closed under (...) implication. If that is so, then F cannot be coextensive with permissibility. Maximalism has been proposed as a solution to this problem. A “maximal” act is one not implied by any other act. Maximalism restricts the claim that F is coextensive with permissibility to maximal acts only. A non-maximal act may be permissible without being F if it is implied by a maximal act that is F. The general aim of this paper is to investigate these issues by considering the formal structure of acts, or the “act-implication” relation. Discussions of Maximalism have tended to assume implicitly that acts have structure of some sort, but there has been little careful attention given to this structure. I aim to show that, by thinking about structure, we can provide a stronger defence of Maximalism. (shrink)
The ‘No Ought From Is’ principle (or ‘NOFI’) states that a valid argument cannot have both an ethical conclusion and non-ethical premises. Arthur Prior proposed several well-known counterexamples, including the following: Tea-drinking is common in England; therefore, either tea-drinking is common in England or all New Zealanders ought to be shot. My aim in this paper is to defend NOFI against Prior’s counterexamples. I propose two novel interpretations of NOFI and prove that both are true.
In Better Never to Have Been, David Benatar argues that existence is always a harm. His argument, in brief, is that this follows from a theory of personal good which we ought to accept because it best explains several???asymmetries???. I shall argue here that Benatar's theory suffers from a defect which was already widely known to afflict similar theories, and that the main asymmetry he discusses is better explained in a way which allows that existence is often not a harm.
Prioritarianism is the view that we ought to give priority to benefiting those who are worse off. Sufficientism, on the other hand, is the view that we ought to give priority to benefiting those who are not sufficiently well off. This paper concerns the relative merits of these two views; in particular, it examines an argument advanced by Roger Crisp to the effect that sufficientism is the superior of the two. My aim is to show that Crisp's argument is unsound. (...) While I concede his objections against the particular prioritarian views that he considers, I propose a different version of prioritarianism that is invulnerable to those objections. (shrink)
Should we allow grave harm to befall one individual so as to prevent minor harms befalling sufficiently many other individuals? This is a question of aggregation. Can many small harms ‘add up’, so that, collectively, they morally outweigh a greater harm? The ‘Close Enough View’ supports a moderate position: aggregation is permissible when, and only when, the conflicting harms are sufficiently similar, or ‘close enough’, to each other. This paper surveys a range of formally precise interpretations of this view, and (...) reveals some of the problems they face. It also proposes a novel interpretation which avoids these problems. (shrink)
Physicalism is thought to entail that mental properties supervene on microphysical properties, or in other words that all God had to do was to create the fundamental physical properties and the rest came along for free. In this paper, we question the all-god-had-to-do reflex.
Russellian physicalism has the promise of answering all the typical challenges that non-physicalists have issued against standard versions of physicalism, while not giving up physicalism's commitment to the non-existence of fundamental mentality. However, it has been argued that Russellian physicalism must endorse the existence of physically unacceptable protomental properties in order to address these challenges, which would mean giving up on a core physicalist tenet of keeping the fundamental realm untainted by a special relationship to mentality. Against this, I argue (...) that a plausible version of Russellian physicalism can be constructed, which does not posit fundamental properties that are at all protomental in any problematic sense, yet which can explain the existence of subjective experience. This non-protomental Russellian physicalism, which is the only properly-physical version of Russellian physicalism, offers a satisfying solution to the mind-body problem -- including an answer to the conceivability argument -- without sacrificing any of its physicalist credentials. (shrink)
Ethical descriptivism is the view that all ethical properties are descriptive properties. Frank Jackson has proposed an argument for this view which begins with the premise that the ethical supervenes on the descriptive, any worlds that differ ethically must differ also descriptively. This paper observes that Jackson's argument has a curious structure, taking a linguistic detour between metaphysical starting and ending points, and raises some worries stemming from this. It then proposes an improved version of the argument, which avoids these (...) worries, and responds to some potential objections to this version of the argument. (shrink)
In this paper we re-examine the semantics of classical higher-order logic with the purpose of clarifying the role of extensionality. To reach this goal, we distinguish nine classes of higher-order models with respect to various combinations of Boolean extensionality and three forms of functional extensionality. Furthermore, we develop a methodology of abstract consistency methods (by providing the necessary model existence theorems) needed to analyze completeness of (machine-oriented) higher-order calculi with respect to these model classes.
Hume is committed, By one of his criticisms of reason as the route to moral knowledge, To an internalist position. In the argument from motivation, Hume starts by observing that morality is practical--That morals excite passions and produce or prevent actions. But, Hume argues, Rationalist moral theories cannot explain how moral considerations motivate. This is because reason alone is incapable of motivating us. The premise that morality is practical, However, May be interpreted in two ways--Either in an externalist or internalist (...) manner. Charity requires us to adopt the internalist reading because only then is the argument valid. An internalist reading of the argument, However, Commits hume, In his constructive phase, To construing the moral sentiments of approval and disapproval as possessing motivational influence by themselves. But an examination of what hume has to say about the motives that prompt us to do what is right shows that he fails to provide such an account himself. This points to an inconsistency in hume's moral theory. (shrink)
I compare two kinds of holism about values: G.E. Moore's 'organic unities', and Jonathan Dancy's 'value holism'. I propose a simple formal model for representing evaluations of parts and wholes. I then define two conditions, additivism and invariabilism, which together imply a third, atomism. Since atomism is absurd, we must reject one of the former two conditions. This is where Moore and Dancy part company: whereas Moore rejects additivism, Dancy rejects invariabilism. I argue that Moore's view is more plausible. Invariabilism (...) ought to be retained because (a) it eliminates the needless multiplication of values inherent in variable evaluations, and (b) it preserves a certain necessary connection between values and reasons, which Dancy himself endorses. (shrink)
The Idea of Justice" summarizes and extends many of the themes Amartya Sen has been engaged with for the last quarter century: economic versus political rights, cultural relativism and the origin of notions such as human rights, and entitlements and their relation to gender equality.
Physicalism is thought to entail that mental properties supervene on microphysical properties, or in other words that all God had to do was to create the fundamental physical properties and the rest came along for free. In this paper, we question the all-god-had-to-do reflex.
Narrow mental content is a kind of mental content that does not depend on an individual's environment. Narrow content contrasts with “broad” or “wide” content, which depends on features of the individual's environment as well as on features of the individual. It is controversial whether there is any such thing as narrow content. Assuming that there is, it is also controversial what sort of content it is, what its relation to ordinary or “broad” content is, and how it is determined (...) by the individual's intrinsic properties. (shrink)
How do reasons combine? How is it that several reasons taken together can have a combined weight which exceeds the weight of any one alone? I propose an answer in mereological terms: reasons combine by composing a further, complex reason of which they are parts. Their combined weight is the weight of their combination. I develop a mereological framework, and use this to investigate some structural views about reasons. Two of these views I call “Atomism” and “Wholism”. Atomism is the (...) view that atomic reasons are fundamental: all reasons reduce to atomic reasons. Wholism is the view that whole reasons are fundamental. I argue for Wholism, and against Atomism. I also consider whether reasons might be “context-sensitive”. (shrink)
The so-called “Levelling Down Objection” is commonly believed to occupy a central role in the debate between egalitarians and prioritarians. Egalitarians think that equality is good in itself, and so they are committed to finding value even in such equality as may only be achieved by “levelling down”–i.e., by merely reducing the better off to the level of the worse off. Although egalitarians might deny that levelling down could ever make for an all-things-considered improvement, they cannot deny that it may (...) make things better in at least one respect. Prioritarians, on the other hand, do deny this; according to them, levelling down cannot make things better in any respect. In this paper I argue that the Levelling Down Objection leans far too heavily on a heretofore unanalysed notion: namely, the notion of “being better in this or that respect.” I propose what I take to be a plausible analysis of that notion, and show that, given the proposed analysis, the prioritarian is no less vulnerable to the Levelling Down Objection than is the egalitarian. I conclude that proponents of the Levelling Down Objection need either to suggest a better analysis or abandon the Levelling Down Objection altogether. (shrink)
Abstract This essay is a response to three review articles on two recently published books dealing with aspects of Hinduism and science: Jonathan Edelmann's Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Contemporary Theory, and my own, Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma and Design. The task set by the editor of Zygon for the three reviewers was broad: they could make specific critiques of the two books, or they could use them as starting points to engage in a broad (...) discussion of Hinduism and science, or religion and science in general. In my response, I first provide a fairly detailed reply to David Gosling's many critiques of my book, and in the process call into question his Advaitic conciliation of Hinduism and science. Thomas Ellis's thesis of basic incompatibility between Hinduism and science is much closer to my own viewpoint. One of the main objectives of my book was to explain and illustrate this incompatibility with specific regard to Hindu and Darwinian perspectives on evolution. In this essay I provide a few examples in support of Ellis's incompatibility thesis, encompassing both epistemological and metaphysical dissonances. Finally, I reflect upon Varadaraja V. Raman's wide-ranging exposition on the all-encompassing nature of the Hindu tradition that readily accommodates both religious and scientific quests for knowledge. Raman uses the two books only as starting points for his own thoughts, without reference to my book. I confine myself, accordingly, to a brief critique of his complementarity approach to Hinduism and science, and of his radical inclusivism that enfolds basically all philosophical positions into the warm embrace of the Hindu tradition, including even the extreme antireligious materialism of the Cārvāka. (shrink)
In a recent paper, “Incompatiblism, Sin, and Free Will in Heaven,” Timothy Pawl and Kevin Timpe discuss and propose a novel solution to a problem posed for traditional Christian theism that they call the Problem of Heavenly Freedom. In short, Christian tradition contains what seems to be a contradiction, namely, the redeemed in heaven are free but nonetheless can’t sin. Pawl and Timpe’s solution to the Problem of Heavenly Freedom is particularly attractive for two reasons: it shows great respect for (...) the Christian tradition’s teaching on heaven, and it entails that the redeemed in heaven act with morally weighty libertarian free will. Nonetheless, I think their solution can be improved upon. By drawing on some of the teachings of the Catholic tradition on heaven, particularly those of St. Thomas Aquinas, I raise three objections to Pawl and Timpe’s solution and introduce a modified version of their solution. In doing so, I have attempted to make their “best” solution to the Problem of Heavenly Freedom even better. (shrink)
Moral conclusions cannot validly be inferred from nonmoral premises – this principle, commonly called “Hume’s law,” presents a conundrum. On one hand, it seems obviously true, and its truth is often simply taken for granted. On the other hand, an ingenious argument by A. N. Prior seems to refute it. My aim here is a resolution. I shall argue, first, that Hume’s law is ambiguous, admitting both a strong and a weak interpretation; second, that the strong interpretation is false, as (...) shown by Prior’s argument; and, third, that the weak interpretation is true. (shrink)
Ethical descriptivism is the view that all ethical properties are descriptive properties. An argument for this view proposed by Frank Jackson begins with the premise that the ethical supervenes on the descriptive; any worlds that differ ethically must differ also descriptively. This chapter observes that Jackson’s argument follows a curious route, taking a linguistic detour between metaphysical starting and ending points, and raises some worries stemming from this. It then proposes an improved version of the argument, which avoids these worries, (...) and responds to some potential objections to this version of the argument. (shrink)
I do four things in responding to Patrick Toner’s incisive critique of my Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus . First, I further motivate Aquinas’s position that Socrates exists in the post-mortem and ante-resurrection state by noting that Socrates’ situation is at least analogous to other states of affairs that would certainly count as atypical . Secondly, I offer a revised Thomistic account of artefact identity through time in light of Toner’s objections to Aquinas’srestrictive view. Unlike the restrictive view, this (...) revised account is compatible with common-sense intuitions. Thirdly, I show how my defense of Aquinas’s substance metaphysic in AST is useful for the purpose of constructing defeators for certain kinds of arguments for reductionism. Fourthly, I defend Aquinas’s views on the unity of substance against Toner’s suggestion that they are implausible on the grounds that they are in conflict with certain so-called “scientifically informed”common-sense beliefs. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of prioritarianism, the view that we ought to give priority to those who are worse off, have hitherto been almost exclusively focused on cases involving a fixed population. The aim of this paper is to extend the discussion of prioritarianism to encompass also variable populations. I argue that prioritarianism, in its simplest formulation, is not tenable in this area. However, I also propose several revised formulations that, so I argue, show more promise.
Physicalism is frequently understood as the thesis that everything depends upon a fundamental physical level. This standard formulation of physicalism has a rarely noted and arguably unacceptable consequence—it makes physicalism come out false in worlds which have no fundamental level, for instance worlds containing things which can infinitely decompose into smaller and smaller parts. If physicalism is false, it should not be for this reason. Thus far, there is only one proposed solution to this problem, and it comes from the (...) so-called via negativa account of physicalism. Via negativa physicalism identifies the physical with the non-mental, such that if everything in the world ultimately depends only on non-mental things, then physicalism is true. To deal with the possibility of worlds without a fundamental level, this account says that physicalism is false in worlds with either a fundamental mental level or an infinite descent of mental levels. Here I argue that there could be a world with an infinite descent of all-mental levels, yet in which physicalism might plausibly be true—thus contradicting the sufficient-for-false condition meant to save physicalism from the threat of infinitely decomposable worlds. This leaves the need for a new dependence-based account of physicalism. (shrink)
What we believe depends on more than the purely intrinsic facts about us: facts about our environment or context also help determine the contents of our beliefs. 1 This observation has led several writers to hope that beliefs can be divided, as it were, into two components: a "core" that depends only on the individual?s intrinsic properties; and a periphery that depends on the individual?s context, including his or her history, environment, and linguistic community. Thus Jaegwon Kim suggests that "within (...) each noninternal psychological state that enters into the explanation of some action or behavior we can locate an ?internal core state? which can assume the causal-explanatory role of the noninternal state."2 In the same vein, Stephen Stich writes that "nonautonomous" states, like belief, are best viewed as "conceptually complex hybrids" made up of an autonomous component together with historical and contextual features.3 John Perry, whose term I have adopted, distinguishes between belief states, which are determined by an individual?s intrinsic properties, and objects of belief, which are not.4 And Daniel Dennett makes use of the same notion when he asks:5. (shrink)
I do four things in responding to Patrick Toner’s incisive critique of my Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus (AST). First, I further motivate Aquinas’s position that Socrates exists in the post-mortem and ante-resurrection state by noting that Socrates’ situation is at least analogous to other states of affairs that would certainly count as atypical (although not impossible). Secondly, I offer a revised Thomistic account of artefact identity through time in light of Toner’s objections to Aquinas’srestrictive view. Unlike the restrictive (...) view, this revised account is compatible with common-sense intuitions. Thirdly, I show how my defense of Aquinas’s substance metaphysic in AST is useful for the purpose of constructing defeators for certain kinds of arguments for reductionism. Fourthly, I defend Aquinas’s views on the unity of substance against Toner’s suggestion that they are implausible on the grounds that they are in conflict with certain so-called “scientifically informed”common-sense beliefs. (shrink)
Some have argued that the UN or the Security Council can exercise agency on behalf of IS, but in view of the "underinstitutionalization" of IS in the UN, groups of states may authorize themselves to act on the behalf of IS as "coalitions of the willing.".
The field of ethics in psychology has devoted a great deal of attention to the ethical issues that arise when students and faculty develop mentor–mentee relationships. However, little attention has been given to examining the role of graduate students acting as mentors. Graduate students often supervise and evaluate undergraduates as a part of research and teaching responsibilities, and may act as mentors to more junior graduate students. This article discusses the unique qualities and ethical considerations of graduate students in mentoring (...) relationships. Finally, this article concludes with recommendations on ethical mentorship inspired by the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. (shrink)
Idealism is an ontological view, a view about what sorts of things there are in the universe. Idealism holds that what there is depends on our own mental structure and activity. Berkeley of course held that everything was mental; Kant held the more complex view that there was an important distinction between the mental and the physical, but that the structure of the empirical world depended on the activities of minds. Despite radical differences, idealists like Berkeley and Kant share what (...) Ralph Barton Perry called "the cardinal principle of idealism," namely, the principle that "being is dependent on the knowing of it."1 I believe that Hilary Putnam intends his "internal realism" to be a version of idealism in this broad sense; although many of his arguments concern semantic notions like truth and reference, he takes these semantic arguments to have ontological consequences. This is strongly suggested, for instance, by his claim that "'objects' themselves are as much made as discovered, as much products of our conceptual invention as of the 'objective' factor in experience."2 Or again there is this rather Kantian metaphor: "the mind and the world jointly make up the mind and the world."3 But just what is Putnam's ontology? (shrink)
Recent epistemology has introduced a new criterion of adequacy for analyses of knowledge: such an analysis, to be adequate, must be compatible with the common view that knowledge is better than true belief. One account which is widely thought to fail this test is reliabilism, according to which, roughly, knowledge is true belief formed by reliable process. Reliabilism fails, so the argument goes, because of the "swamping problem". In brief, provided a belief is true, we do not care whether or (...) not it was formed by a reliable process. The value of reliability is "swamped" by the value of truth: truth combined with reliability is no better than truth alone. This paper approaches these issues from the perspective of decision theory. It argues that the "swamping effect" involves a sort of information-sensitivity that is well modelled decision-theoretically. It then employs this modelling to investigate a strategy, proposed by Goldman and Olsson, for saving reliabilism from the swamp, the so-called "conditional probability solution". It concludes that the strategy is only partially successful. (shrink)
. Avataric evolutionism is the idea that ancient Hindu myths of Vishnu's ten incarnations foreshadowed Darwinian evolution. In a previous essay I examined the late nineteenth‐century origins of the theory in the works of Keshub Chunder Sen and Madame Blavatsky. Here I consider two major figures in the history of avataric evolutionism in the early twentieth century, N. B. Pavgee, a Marathi Brahmin deeply involved in the question of Aryan origins, and Aurobindo Ghose, political activist turned mystic. Pavgee, unlike Keshub, (...) used avataric evolutionism in expounding his nationalistic goals for an independent India. His rationale was bolstered by the idea that India was the fountainhead of all science and civilization. Aurobindo saw in avataric evolutionism a possible key to understanding the involution and evolution of the supreme spirit in the realm of matter as taught in traditional Vedanta. This material‐spiritual evolution represented for Aurobindo the necessary knowledge for the true liberation of India, transcending purely political independence. Such knowledge he also saw as the means for the spiritual liberation of the whole of humankind. The processes of involution and evolution he claimed were not in conflict with modern science, and Western evolutionary thinking seems to have inspired many of his own evolutionary reflections, even though in the end he rejected the Darwinian transmutation of species. I conclude with an overview and assessment of recent, post‐colonial Hindu assimilations of avataric evolutionism. (shrink)
Belief states are only contingently connected with the objects of belief. Burge's examples show that the same belief state can be associated with different objects of belief. Kripke's puzzle shows that the same object of belief can be associated with different belief states. Nevertheless, belief states can best be characterized by a subset of the propositions one believes, namely those one directly or immediately believes. The rest of the things one believes are believed indirectly, by virtue of one's direct beliefs. (...) This distinction sheds light on Kripke's puzzle, the problem of the contingent a priori, and the problem of logical omniscience. (shrink)
Few think that Kant’s moral theory can provide a defensible view in the area of environmental ethics because of Kant’s well-known insistence that all nonhumans are mere means. An examination of the relevant arguments, however, shows that they do not entitle Kant to his position. Moreover, Kant’s own Formula of Universal Law generates at least one important and basic duty which is owed both to human beings and to nonhuman animals. The resulting Kantian theory not only is sounder and more (...) intuitive than the original, but also boasts some notable theoretical advantages over some of the most prominent views in environmental ethics. (shrink)
Until the advent of plastinated cadavers, few outside the medical professions have had firsthand experience with human corpses. Such opportunities are now available at the Body Worlds exhibits of Gunther von Hagens. After an overview of these exhibits, we explore visitor responses as revealed in comment books available upon exiting the exhibit. Cultural, philosophical, and religious issues raised in the comments serve as a microcosm of society at large. The conclusion considers the challenge of such exhibits in introducing the public (...) to science education, notes the image of the body as machine—so prevalent in the West—reflected in visitor comments, and finds hope that the exhibits promote, for many visitors, a sense of community among all humankind. (shrink)