Many forms of virtue ethics, like certain forms of utilitarianism, suffer from the problem of indirection. In those forms, the criterion for status of a trait as a virtue is not the same as the criterion for the status of an act as right. Furthermore, if the virtues for example are meant to promote the nourishing of the agent, the virtuous agent is not standardly supposed to be motivated by concern for her own flourishing in her activity. In this paper, (...) I propose a virtue ethics which does not suffer from the problem. Traits are not virtues because their cultivation and manifestation promote a value such as agent flourishing. They are virtues in so far as they are habits of appropriate response to various relevant values. This means that there is a direct connection between the rationale of a virtue and what makes an action virtuous or right. (shrink)
To understand the human capacity for psychological altruism, one requires a proper understanding of how people actually think and feel. This paper addresses the possible relevance of recent findings in experimental economics and neuroeconomics to the philosophical controversy over altruism and egoism. After briefly sketching and contextualizing the controversy, we survey and discuss the results of various studies on behaviourally altruistic helping and punishing behaviour, which provide stimulating clues for the debate over psychological altruism. On closer analysis, these studies prove (...) less relevant than originally expected because the data obtained admit competing interpretations – such as people seeking fairness versus people seeking revenge. However, this mitigated conclusion does not preclude the possibility of more fruitful research in the area in the future. Throughout our analysis, we provide hints for the direction of future research on the question. (shrink)
Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us - or ours over one another - come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing (...) how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical scene. Kant's theory that normativity springs from our own autonomy emerges as a synthesis of the other three, and Korsgaard concludes with her own version of the Kantian account. Her discussion is followed by commentary from G. A. Cohen, Raymond Geuss, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, and a reply by Korsgaard. (shrink)
Christine Korsgaard has become one of the leading interpreters of Kant's moral philosophy. She is identified with a small group of philosophers who are intent on producing a version of Kant's moral philosophy that is at once sensitive to its historical roots while revealing its particular relevance to contemporary problems. She rejects the traditional picture of Kant's ethics as a cold vision of the moral life which emphasises duty at the expense of love and value. Rather, Kant's work is (...) seen as providing a resource for addressing not only the metaphysics of morals, but also for tackling practical questions about personal relations, politics, and everyday human interaction. This collection contains some of the finest current work on Kant's ethics and will command the attention of all those involved in teaching and studying moral theory. (shrink)
Christine Swanton offers a new, comprehensive theory of virtue ethics which addresses the major concerns of modern ethical theory from a character-based perspective. The book departs in significant ways from classical virtue ethics and neo-Aristotelianism, employing insights from Nietzsche and other sources, resulting in a highly distinctive and original brand of virtue ethics.
This paper focuses on the concept of the "intentional arc" in Merleau-Ponty, who maintains that perception comes into play within, and is nourished by, an already established relation between the person and the world. That obscure relation, the intentional arc, is the "genesis" of perception, and this paper argues that in it resides the proper theme of a psychological phenomenology of perception. A study of the intentional arc shows that perception is not a passive, causal, impersonal process. On the contrary, (...) perception is active in that it requires the perceiver's free consent to the solicitations stemming from the world; it is thus only motivated or beckoned, but not caused; and it rests on a personal foundation, which is to say that it depends on the entire psychological life of the perceiver. A subsequent paper will enrich and develop the implications of this thesis by taking up the phenomenology of hallucinations. (shrink)
Agency and identity -- Necessitation -- Acts and actions -- Aristotle and Kant -- Agency and practical identity -- The metaphysics of normativity -- Constitutive standards -- The constitution of life -- In defense of teleology -- The paradox of self-constitution -- Formal and substantive principles of reason -- Formal versus substantive -- Testing versus weighing -- Maximizing and prudence -- Practical reason and the unity of the will -- The empiricist account of normativity -- The rationalist account of normativity (...) -- Kant on the hypothetical imperative -- Against particularistic willing -- Deciding and predicting -- Autonomy and efficacy -- The function of action -- The possibility of agency -- Non-rational action -- Action -- Attribution -- The psychology of action -- Expulsion from the garden : the transition to humanity -- Instinct, emotion, intelligence, and reason -- The parts of the soul -- Inside or outside -- Pull yourself together -- The constitutional model -- Models of the soul -- The city and the soul -- Platonic virtues -- Justice : substantive, procedural, and platonic -- Kant and the constitutional model -- Defective action -- The problem of bad action -- Being governed by the wrong law -- Or five bad constitutions -- Conceptions of evil -- Degrees of action -- Integrity and interaction -- Deciding to be bad -- The ordinary cases -- Dealing with the disunified -- Kant's theory of interaction -- My reasons -- Deciding to treat someone as an end in himself -- Interacting with yourself -- How to be a person -- What's left of me? (shrink)
Pour contrer le scepticisme au sujet de la connaissance des valeurs, la plupart soutiennent avec John Rawls qu’une croyance comme celle qu’une action est bonne est justifiée dans la mesure où elle appartient à un ensemble de croyances cohérent, ayant atteint un équilibre réfléchi. -/- Christine Tappolet s’inspire des travaux de Max Scheler et d’Alexius von Meinong pour défendre une conception opposée au cohérentisme. La connaissance des valeurs est affirmée dépendre de nos émotions, ces dernières étant conçues comme des (...) perceptions des valeurs. (shrink)
Emotions are crucial to human agency. But what are emotions? And how do they relate to agency? The aim of this book is to spell out an account of emotions, which is grounded on analogies between emotions and sensory experiences, and to explore the implications of this account for our understanding of human agency. The central claim is that emotions consist in perceptual experiences of values, such as the fearsome, the disgusting or the admirable. A virtue of this account is (...) that it affords a better grasp of a variety of interconnected phenomena: the relationship between emotions and motivation, the nature of evaluative judgements, the relationship between responsibility and attitudes such as anger, and, finally, the relation between emotions and reasons. (shrink)
This paper criticizes two accounts of the normativity of practical principles: the empiricist account and the rationalist or realist account. It argues against the empiricist view, focusing on the Humean texts that are usually taken to be its locus classicus. It then argues both against the dogmatic rationalist view, and for the Kantian view, through a discussion of Kant's own remarks about instrumental rationality in the second section of the Groundwork. It further argues that the instrumental principle cannot stand alone. (...) Unless there are normative principles directing us to the adoption of certain ends, there can be no requirement to take the means to our ends. The familiar view that the instrumental principle is the only requirement of practical reason is incoherent. (shrink)
Christine M. Korsgaard is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. She was educated at the University of Illinois and received a Ph.D. from Harvard. She has held positions at Yale, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago, and visiting positions at Berkeley and UCLA. She is a member of the American Philosophical Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has published extensively on Kant, and about (...) moral philosophy and its history, the theory of practical reason, the philosophy of action, and personal identity. Her two published books are The Sources of Normativity (1992) and Creating the King- dom of Ends (1996). (shrink)
Content skepticism about practical reason is doubt about the bearing of rational considerations on the activities of deliberation and choice. Motivational skepticism is doubt about the scope of reason as a motive. Some people think that motivational considerations alone provide grounds for skepticism about the project of founding ethics on practical reason. I will argue, against this view, that motivational skepticism must always be based on content skepticism. I will not address the question of whether or not content skepticism is (...) justified. I want only to establish the fact that motivational skepticism has no independent force. (shrink)
Christine Battersby rethinks questions of embodiment, essence, sameness and difference, self and "other", patriarchy and power. Using analyses of Kant, Adorno, Irigaray, Butler, Kierkegaard and Deleuze, she challenges those who argue that a feminist metaphysics is a a contradiction in terms. This book explores place for a metaphysics of fluidity in the current debates concerning postmodernism, feminism and identity politics.
In contemporary Western society, people are more often called upon to justify the choice not to have children than they are to supply reasons for having them. In this book, Christine Overall maintains that the burden of proof should be reversed: that the choice to have children calls for more careful justification and reasoning than the choice not to. Arguing that the choice to have children is not just a prudential or pragmatic decision but one with ethical repercussions, Overall (...) offers a wide-ranging exploration of how we might think systematically and deeply about this fundamental aspect of human life. Writing from a feminist perspective, she also acknowledges the inevitably gendered nature of the decision; the choice has different meanings, implications, and risks for women than it has for men. After considering a series of ethical approaches to procreation, and finding them inadequate or incomplete, Overall offers instead a novel argument. Exploring the nature of the biological parent-child relationship -- which is not only genetic but also psychological, physical, intellectual, and moral -- she argues that the formation of that relationship is the best possible reason for choosing to have a child. (shrink)
Christine M. Korsgaard presents a compelling new view of our moral relationships to the other animals. She offers challenging answers to such questions as: Are people superior to animals, and does it matter morally if we are? Is it all right for us to eat animals, experiment on them, make them work for us, and keep them as pets?
In this theoretical paper, motives for CSR are considered. An underlying assumption is that the commercial imperative is not the sole driver of CSR decision-making in private sector companies, but that the formal adoption and implementation of CSR by corporations could be associated with the changing personal values of individual managers. These values may find expression through the opportunity to exercise discretion, which may arise in various ways. It is suggested that in so far as CSR initiatives represent individuals' values, (...) so the responsibility in evidence is less obviously corporate. Our emphasis on personal initiative is intended to counter a tendency to view the corporation as the agent, and may serve to remind us that individuals can, indeed, make a difference. (shrink)
Emotions often misfire. We sometimes fear innocuous things, such as spiders or mice, and we do so even if we firmly believe that they are innocuous. This is true of all of us, and not only of phobics, who can be considered to suffer from extreme manifestations of a common tendency. We also feel too little or even sometimes no fear at all with respect to very fearsome things, and we do so even if we believe that they are fearsome. (...) Indeed, instead of shunning fearsome things, we might be attracted to them. Emotions that seem more thought-involving, such as shame, guilt or jealousy, can also misfire. You can be ashamed of your big ears even though we can agree that there is nothing shameful in having big ears, and even though you judge that having big ears does not warrant shame. And of course, it is also possible to experience too little or even no shame at all with respect to something that is really shameful. Many of these cases involve a conflict between one’s emotion and one’s evaluative judgement. Emotions that are thus conflicting with judgement can be called ‘recalcitrant emotions’. The question I am interested in is whether or not recalcitrant emotions amount to emotional illusions, that is, whether or not these cases are sufficiently similar to perceptual illusions to justify the claim that they fall under the same general heading. The answer to this depends on what emotions are. For instance, the view that emotions are evaluative judgments makes it difficult to make room for the claim that emotional errors are perceptual illusions. Fearing an innocuous spider would simply amount to making the error of judging that the spider is fearsome while it is in fact innocuous. This might involve an illusion of some sort, but it certainly does not amount to anything like a perceptual illusion. In this chapter, I argue that recalcitrant emotions are a kind of perceptual illusion.. (shrink)
In this paper I trace the development of one of the central debates of late twentieth-century moral philosophy—the debate between realism and what Rawls called “constructivism.” Realism, I argue, is a reactive position that arises in response to almost every attempt to give a substantive explanation of morality. It results from the realist’s belief that such explanations inevitably reduce moral phenomena to natural phenomena. I trace this belief, and the essence of realism, to a view about the nature of concepts—that (...) it is the function of all concepts to describe reality. Constructivism may be understood as the alternative view that a normative concept refers schematically to the solution to a practical problem. A constructivist account of a concept, unlike a traditional analysis, is an attemptto work out the solution to that problem. I explain how the philosophies of Kant and Rawls can be understood on this model. (shrink)
With the help of medicine and technology we are living longer than ever before. As human life spans have increased, the moral and political issues surrounding longevity have become more complex. Should we desire to live as long as possible? What are the social ramifications of longer lives? How does a longer life span change the way we think about the value of our lives and about death and dying? Christine Overall offers a clear and intelligent discussion of the (...) philosophical and cultural issues surrounding this difficult and often emotionally charged issue. Her book is unique in its comprehensive presentation and evaluation of the arguments—both ancient and contemporary—for and against prolonging life. It also proposes a progressive social policy for responding to dramatic increases in life expectancy. Writing from a feminist perspective, Overall highlights the ways that our biases about race, class, and gender have affected our views of elderly people and longevity, and her policy recommendations represent an effort to overcome these biases. She also covers the arguments surrounding the question of the "duty to die" and includes a provocative discussion of immortality. After judiciously weighing the benefits and the risks of prolonging human life, Overall persuasively concludes that the length of life does matter and that its duration can make a difference to the quality and value of our lives. Her book will be an essential guide as we consider our social responsibilities, the meaning of human life, and the prospects of living longer. (shrink)
Ethical thought is articulated around normative concepts. Standard examples of normative concepts are good, reason, right, ought, and obligatory. Theorists often treat the normative as an undifferentiated domain. Even so, it is common to distinguish between two kinds of normative concepts: evaluative or axiological concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. This encyclopedia entry discusses the many differences between the two kinds of concepts.
In reply to Geach's objection against expressivism, some have claimed that there is a plurality of truth predicates. I raise a difficulty for this claim: valid inferences can involve sentences assessable by any truth predicate, corresponding to 'lightweight' truth as well as to 'heavyweight' truth. To account for this, some unique truth predicate must apply to all sentences that can appear in inferences. Mixed inferences remind us of a central platitude about truth: truth is what is preserved in valid inferences. (...) The question is why we should postulate truth predicates that do not satisfy this platitude. (shrink)
One of the great difficulties with Kant’s moral philosophy is that it seems to imply that our moral obligations leave us powerless in the face of evil. Kant’s theory sets a high ideal of conduct and tells us to live up to that ideal regardless of what other persons are doing. The results may be very bad. But Kant says that the law "remains in full force, because it commands categorically" (G, 438-39/57).* The most weI1—known example of...
In a celebrated passage in ‘Of the Standard of Taste’, Hume tells us that those readers who prefer Bunyan's writings to Addison's are merely ‘pretended critics’ whose judgment is ‘absurd and ridiculous’; this is ‘no less an extravagance, than if he had maintained a mole-hill to be as high as TENERIFFE, or a pond as extensive as the ocean’. Hume shows a decisiveness and vehemence in his judgment against Bunyan that has greater significance than that of being a mere reflection (...) of his aesthetic principles. Hume does, after all, wish to make ‘durable admiration’ the foundation of his standard of taste, and both the number of eighteenth-century reprints of The Pilgrim's Progress and Johnson's comment that this work has as ‘the best evidence of its merit, the general and continued approbation of mankind’ testify to the lasting popularity of Bunyan's work. Hume's critical judgment on Bunyan is not merely a consequence of a mechanical application of his standard of taste, but is rather a reflection of what I will term Hume's ‘epistemology of ease’. (shrink)
The moral error theory generally does not receive good press in metaethics. This paper adds to the bad news. In contrast to other critics, though, I do not attack error theorists’ characteristic thesis that no moral assertion is ever true. Instead, I develop a new counter-argument which questions error theorists’ ability to defend their claim that moral utterances are meaningful assertions. More precisely: Moral error theorists lack a convincing account of the meaning of deontic moral assertions, or so I will (...) argue. (shrink)
Christine Battersby is a leading thinker in the field of philosophy, gender studies and visual and literary aesthetics. In this important new work, she undertakes an exploration of the nature of the sublime, one of the most important topics in contemporary debates about modernity, politics and art. Through a compelling examination of terror, transcendence and the ‘other’ in key European philosophers and writers, Battersby articulates a radical ‘female sublime’. A central feature of The Sublime, Terror and Human Difference is (...) its engagement with recent debates around ‘9/11’, race and Islam. Battersby shows how, since the eighteenth century, the pleasures of the sublime have been described in terms of the transcendence of terror. Linked to the ‘feminine’, the sublime was closed off to flesh-and-blood women, to ‘Orientals’ and to other supposedly ‘inferior’ human types. Engaging with Kant, Burke, the German Romantics, Nietzsche, Derrida, Lyotard, Irigaray and Arendt, as well as with women writers and artists, Battersby traces the history of these exclusions, while finding resources within the history of western culture for thinking human differences afresh The Sublime, Terror and Human Difference is essential reading for students of continental philosophy, gender studies, aesthetics, literary theory, visual culture, and race and social theory. (shrink)
Mixed inferences are a problem for those who want to combine truth-assessability and antirealism with respect to allegedly nondescriptive sentences: the classical account of validity has apparently to be given up. J.C. Beall's response is that validity can be defined as the conservation of designated valued (Beall 2000). I argue that since it presupposes a truth predicate that can be applied to all sentences, this suggestion is not helpful. I also consider problems arising from mixed conjunctions and discuss the deeper (...) worry that the distinction between truth which does and truth which does not entail realism is inferentially irrelevant. (shrink)
Then you have a look around, and see that none of the uninitiated are listening to us—I mean the people who think that nothing exists but what they can grasp with both hands; people who refuse to admit that actions and processes and the invisible world in general have any place in reality.
After discussing de Sousa's view of emotion in akrasia, I suggest that emotions be viewed as nonconceptual perceptions of value (see Tappolet 2000). It follows that they can render intelligible actions which are contrary to one's better judgment. An emotion can make one's action intelligible even when that action is opposed by one's all-things-considered judgment. Moreover, an akratic action prompted by an emotion may be more rational than following one's better judgement, for it may be the judgement and not the (...) perception which is in error. By contrast, "cool" akrasia is genuinely puzzling; it is not clear whether it exists. (shrink)
It is generally accepted that there are two kinds of normative concepts : evaluative concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. The question that is raised by this distinction is how it is possible to claim that evaluative concepts are normative. Given that deontic concepts appear to be at the heart of normativity, the bigger the gap between evaluative and deontic concepts, the less it appears plausible to say that evaluative concepts are normative. After having presented the (...) main differences between evaluative and deontic concepts, and shown that there is more than a superficial difference between the two kinds, the paper turns to the question of the normativity of evaluative concepts. It will become clear that, even if these concepts have different functions, there are a great many ties between evaluative concepts, on the one hand, and the concepts of ought and of reason, on the other. (shrink)
According to recent suggestions within the global pragmatism discussion, metaethical debate must be fundamentally re-framed. Instead of carving out metaethical differences in representational terms, it has been argued that metaethics should be given an inferentialist footing. In this paper, I put inferentialist metaethics to the test by subjecting it to the following two criteria for success: Inferentialist metaethicists must be able to save the metaethical differences between moral realism and expressivism, and do so in a way that employs understandings of (...) these metaethical accounts which would be acceptable to moral realists or expressivists who endorse an inferentialist theory of meaning. Two results follow from my discussion. The first concerns inferentialist metaethics more narrowly, casting doubts on inferentialists’ ability to fulfil the two criteria for success by showing that proposed metaethical demarcation attempts either meet the first criterion but violate the second, or pass the second criterion but fail the first. The second upshot pertains to the global pragmatism debate more widely, pressing the point that inferentialists have not as yet provided a convincing account of ontological commitment. (shrink)