Most of us are partial to our friends and loved ones: we treat them with special care, and we feel justified in doing so. In recent years, the idea that good friends are also epistemically partial to one another has been popular. Being a good friend, so-called epistemic partialists suggest, involves being positively biased towards one's friends – that is, involves thinking more highly of them than is warranted by the evidence. In this paper, I outline the concept of epistemic (...) partiality and its relation to non-epistemic partiality and explore some considerations that speak in favour of and against such partialism in friendships. I finish by suggesting some directions in which this debate could go next. (shrink)
Anselm’s ontological argument is an argument for the existence of God. This paper presents Iris Murdoch’s ontological argument for the existence of the Good. It discusses her interpretation of Anselm’s argument, her distinctive appropriation of it, as well as some of the merits of her version of the argument. In doing so, it also shows how the argument integrates some key Murdochian ideas: morality’s wide scope, the basicness of vision to morality, moral realism, and Platonism.
Recent discussions of moral testimony have focused on the acceptability of forming beliefs on the basis of moral testimony, but there has been little acknowledgement of the limits to testimony's capacity to convey moral knowledge. In this paper I outline one such limit, drawing on Iris Murdoch's conception of private moral concepts. Such concepts, I suggest, plausibly play an important role in moral thought, and yet moral knowledge expressed in them cannot be testimonially acquired.
Many recent philosophers have been tempted by epistemic partialism. They hold that epistemic norms and those of friendship constitutively conflict. In this paper, I suggest that underpinning this claim is the assumption that friendship is not an epistemically rich state, an assumption that even opponents of epistemic partiality have not questioned. I argue that there is good reason to question this assumption, and instead regard friendship as essentially involving knowledge of the other. If we accept this account of friendship, the (...) possibility of epistemic partialism does not arise. (shrink)
Murdoch makes some ambitious claims about love’s epistemic significance which can initially seem puzzling in the light of its heterogeneous and messy everyday manifestations. I provide an interpretation of Murdochian love such that Murdoch’s claims about its epistemic significance can be understood. I argue that Murdoch conceives of love as a virtue, and as belonging at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of the virtues, and that this makes sense of the epistemic role Murdochian love fulfills. Moreover, I suggest that there (...) is good reason to think that Murdochian love is not as far from everyday conceptions of love as it can initially appear. (shrink)
I argue that hope is an ethical virtue. Hope, I suggest, is necessary for engaging in a broad kind of project which is essential for living a meaningful human life, and this gives us reason to think that it is non-instrumentally valuable in our lives. Specifically, I claim that hope is well understood as a ‘structural virtue’ without which we are prone to slip into despair, fantasy and cynicism. Moreover, I argue that this virtue will be particularly significant in turbulent (...) times, when we may not be in a position to have outright (positive) expectations about the future. (shrink)
Hope powerfully influences our lives, deeply shaping our actions, as well as being essential for social and political change. Many accounts of hope, however, fail to do justice to its active role, ignoring the connection between hope and action that makes it a significant feature of our lives. In this essay, I propose a new account of hope in which hopes characteristically shape and figure in intentions. I argue that this account does justice to hope's distinctive manifestations in action, explains (...) the rational constraints on hoping, and sheds light on the distinctions between hoping and wishing. (shrink)
It can be tempting to read Iris Murdoch as subscribing to the same position as standard contemporary moral realists. Her language is often similar to theirs and they share some key commitments, most importantly the rejection of the fact-value dichotomy. However, it is a mistake to assume that her realism amounts to the same thing theirs does. In this paper I offer a sketch of her alternative conception of realism, which centres on the idea that truth and reality are fundamentally (...) ethical concepts. For Murdoch, I suggest, realism is a matter of doing justice to the objects one is confronted with—something that cannot be understood except in ethical terms. (shrink)
If mourning is a proof of value, how could it be appropriate to move on when one has truly loved and valued someone? Assuming that it is appropriate to value others extremely highly – perhaps even infinitely – how could it ever make sense for one’s grief to abate? Do loss and proper mourning thus present us with a choice between living well and loving well? This paper aims to vindicate the pressing nature of these questions while arguing that we (...) do not need to choose between living well and loving well. It discusses how these questions become pressing, some empirical research seeming to imply that humans do not tend to love well at all, and finally, offers an explanation of why ceasing to mourn need not be a failure of love. In particular, we offer an account of how ceasing to mourn can be a fitting response to the object of love, as well as compatible with living well. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Strabbing (2020) argues that forgiveness is openness to reconciliation relative to a relationship level. In this paper, we argue that the openness-to-reconciliation account of forgiveness does not constitute an improvement on the forswearing-resentment account. We argue that it does not fit well with our ordinary practices of forgiving and cannot allow for plausible cases of forgiveness without reconciliation. We also argue that the features Strabbing identifies as distinct advantages of her account are features of the forswearing-resentment (...) account as well. (shrink)
What is common to all instances of friendship? Given their seemingly heterogeneous character, Phelan (2019. “Rethinking Friendship.” Inquiry) suggests that friendships are relationships that result from collaborative norm-manipulation. In this paper, I suggest that this proposal fails to account for all friendships without relying on the notion of some kind of care.
Taking pride in being better than others in some regard is not uncommon. In a recent paper, Christopher Morgan-Knapp argues that such pride is misguided: it ‘presents things as being some way they are not’. I argue that Morgan-Knapp's arguments do not succeed in showing that comparative pride is theoretically mistaken.
Is there something bad about being friends with seriously bad people? Intuitively, it seems so, but it is hard to see why this should be. This is especially the case since some other kinds of loving relationship with bad people look morally acceptable or even good. In this paper, I argue that friendship inherently involves taking one’s friends seriously, which involves openness to their beliefs, concerns, and subjective interests. Deeply immoral views and attitudes ought not to be taken seriously or (...) considered as options, and I argue that this explains why being friends with bad people is itself morally problematic. I go on to contrast this with Jessica Isserow’s explanation of what’s bad about friendship with bad people, and I suggest that my account is better placed to explain why friendships with bad people are morally problematic but some other loving relationships with bad people are not. (shrink)
Humility can seem like a somewhat ‘unfashionable’ virtue: the word can conjure an image of cringing servility, unduly romanticised feelings of inferiority, or a level of self-denial which seems ill-placed in a life well-lived. But the term can also capture something of great ethical importance. In this paper, I will propose an account of humility that attempts to capture this moral significance. I will then explore the connection between humility and ethical development, seeking to argue that humility has an important (...) role in ethical improvement. If such a connection is vindicated, it suggests that humility is valuable twice over: it has intrinsic worth but is also instrumentally valuable, enabling us to become better people. (shrink)