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Christopher Cowie
Cambridge University
  1. Good News for Moral Error Theorists: A Master Argument Against Companions in Guilt Strategies.Christopher Cowie - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):115-130.
    Moral error theories are often rejected by appeal to ‘companions in guilt’ arguments. The most popular form of companions in guilt argument takes epistemic reasons for belief as a ‘companion’ and proceeds by analogy. I show that this strategy fails. I claim that the companions in guilt theorist must understand epistemic reasons as evidential support relations if her argument is to be dialectically effective. I then present a dilemma. Either epistemic reasons are evidential support relations or they are not. If (...)
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  2. In Defence of Instrumentalism About Epistemic Normativity.Christopher Cowie - 2014 - Synthese 191 (16):4003-4017.
    According to epistemic instrumentalists the normativity of evidence for belief is best explained in terms of the practical utility of forming evidentially supported beliefs. Traditional arguments for instrumentalism—arguments based on naturalism and motivation—lack suasive force against opponents. A new argument for the view—the Argument from Coincidence—is presented. The argument shows that only instrumentalists can avoid positing an embarrassing coincidence between the practical value of believing in accordance with one’s evidence, and the existence of reasons so to believe. Responses are considered (...)
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  3.  84
    Companions in Guilt Arguments.Christopher Cowie - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12528.
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    A New Explanatory Challenge for Nonnaturalists.Christopher Cowie - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (4):661-679.
    According to some contemporary nonnaturalists about normativity , normative facts exist in an ontologically non-committing sense. These nonnaturalists face an explanatory burden. They must explain their claim that normative facts exist in such a sense. I identify criteria for an adequate explanation, and extract five distinct candidate explanations from the writings of these authors . I assess each. None is both informative and recognizable as a version of contemporary nonnaturalism. In light of this, I assess the best options for proponents (...)
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  5.  42
    Conservatism in Metaethics: A Case Study.Christopher Cowie - 2015 - Metaphilosophy 46 (4-5):605-619.
    Metaethicists typically develop and assess their theories—in part—on the basis of the consistency of those theories with “ordinary” first-order normative judgment. They are, in this sense, “methodologically conservative.” This article shows that this methodologically conservative approach obstructs a proper assessment of the debate between internalists and externalists. Specifically, it obstructs one of the most promising readings of internalism. This is a reading—owed to Bernard Williams—in which internalism is part of a practically and politically motivated revision of the assessment of action. (...)
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  6.  85
    Epistemic Disagreement and Practical Disagreement.Christopher Cowie - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (1):191-209.
    It is often thought that the correct metaphysics and epistemology of reasons will be broadly unified across different kinds of reason: reasons for belief, and reasons for action. This approach is sometimes thought to be undermined by the contrasting natures of belief and of action: whereas belief appears to have the ‘constitutive aim’ of truth (or knowledge), action does not appear to have any such constitutive aim. I develop this disanalogy into a novel challenge to metanormative approaches by thinking about (...)
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  7.  67
    Revisionist Responses to the Amoralism Objection: A Reply to Julia Markovits.Christopher Cowie - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3):711-723.
    Some subjectivist views of practical reasons entail that some people, in some cases, lack sufficient reasons to act as morality requires of them. This is often thought to form the basis of an objection to these subjectivist views: ‘the amoralism objection’. This objection has been developed at length by Julia Markovits in her recent book Moral Reason. But Markovits—alongside many other proponents of this objection—does not explicitly consider that her objection is premised on a claim that her opponents deny on (...)
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    Do constitutive norms on belief explain Moore’s Paradox?Christopher Cowie - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1685-1702.
    In this article I assess the prospects for a particular kind of resolution to Moore’s Paradox. It is that Moore’s Paradox is explained by the existence of a constitutive norm on belief. I focus on a constitutive norm relates that relates belief to knowledge. I develop this explanation. I then present a challenge to it. Norm-based explanations of Moore’s Paradox must appeal to a ‘linking principle’ that explains what is wrong with violating the constitutive norm. But it is difficult to (...)
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  9.  67
    Does the Repugnant Conclusion Have Any Probative Force?Christopher Cowie - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3021-3039.
    In engaging with the repugnant conclusion many contemporary philosophers, economists and social scientists make claims about what a minimally good life is like. For example, some claim that such a life is quite good by contemporary standards, and use this to defend classical utilitarianism, whereas others claim that it is not, and use this to uphold the challenge that the repugnant conclusion poses to classical utilitarianism. I argue that many of these claims—by both sides—are not well-founded. We have no sufficiently (...)
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  10.  60
    Is the Norm on Belief Evaluative? A Response to McHugh.Alexander Greenberg & Christopher Cowie - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly:128-145.
    We respond to Conor McHugh's claim that an evaluative account of the normative relation between belief and truth is preferable to a prescriptive account. We claim that his arguments fail to establish this. We then draw a more general sceptical conclusion: we take our arguments to put pressure on any attempt to show that an evaluative account will fare better than a prescriptive account. We briefly express scepticism about whether McHugh's more recent ‘fitting attitude’ account fares better.
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  11. Morality and Epistemic Judgement: The Argument From Analogy.Christopher Cowie - 2019 - Oxford University Press.
    Moral judgments attempt to describe a reality that does not exist, so they are all false. This troubling view is known as the moral error theory. Christopher Cowie defends it against the most compelling counter-argument, the argument from analogy: Cowie shows that moral error theory does not compromise the practice of making epistemic judgments.
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  12. Companions in Guilt Arguments in Metaethics.Christopher Cowie & Richard Rowland (eds.) - forthcoming - Routledge.
     
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