This book is a provocative contribution to contemporary ethical theory challenging foundational conceptions of character that date back to Aristotle. John Doris draws on behavioral science, especially social psychology, to argue that we misattribute the causes of behavior to personality traits and other fixed aspects of character rather than to the situational context. More often than not it is the situation not the nature of the personality that really counts. The author elaborates the philosophical consequences of this research for (...) a whole array of ethical theories and shows that, once rid of the misleading conception of motivation, moral psychology can support more robust ethical theories and more humane ethical practices. (shrink)
Do we know what we're doing, and why? Psychological research seems to suggest not: reflection and self-awareness are surprisingly uncommon and inaccurate. John M. Doris presents a new account of agency and responsibility, which reconciles our understanding of ourselves as moral agents with empirical work on the unconscious mind.
Causation is important. It is, as Hume said, the cement of the universe, and lies at the heart of our conceptual structure. Causation is one of the most fundamental tools we have for organizing our apprehension of the external world and ourselves. But philosophers' disagreement about the correct interpretation of causation is as limitless as their agreement about its importance. The history of attempts to elucidate the nature of this concept and to situate it with respect to other fundamental concepts (...) is almost as long as the history of philosophy itself. In this first English translation of Causalite; et lois de la nature Max Kistler seeks to reconstruct a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. It will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics; and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of causation and law play a prominent role. (shrink)
This is the first English translation of _Causalite´ et Lois de La Nature,_ and is an important contribution to the theory of causation_._ Max Kistler reconstructs a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes, and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. This book will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics, and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of (...) causation and law play a prominent role. (shrink)
While there is now considerable anxiety about whether the psychological theory presupposed by virtue ethics is empirically sustainable, analogous issues have received little attention in the virtue epistemology literature. This paper argues that virtue epistemology encounters challenges reminiscent of those recently encountered by virtue ethics: just as seemingly trivial variation in context provokes unsettling variation in patterns of moral behavior, trivial variation in context elicits unsettling variation in patterns of cognitive functioning. Insofar as reliability is a condition on epistemic virtue, (...) we have reason to doubt that human beings possess the cognitive materials required for epistemic virtue, and thereby reason to think that virtue epistemology is threatened by skepticism. We conclude that while virtue epistemology has resources for addressing this challenge, exploiting these resources forces tradeoffs between empirical and normative adequacy. (shrink)
We begin, in section 2, with a brief sketch of a cluster of assumptions about human desires, beliefs, actions, and motivation that are widely shared by historical and contemporary authors on both sides in the debate. With this as background, we’ll be able to offer a more sharply focused account of the debate. In section 3, our focus will be on links between evolutionary theory and the egoism/altruism debate. There is a substantial literature employing evolutionary theory on each side of (...) the issue. However, it is our contention that neither camp has offered a convincing case. We are much more sanguine about recent research on altruism in social psychology, which will be our topic in section 4. Though we don’t think this work has resolved the debate, we will argue that it has made illuminating progress – progress that philosophers interested in the question cannot afford to ignore. (shrink)
Moral psychology investigates human functioning in moral contexts, and asks how these results may impact debate in ethical theory. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on both the empirical resources of the human sciences and the conceptual resources of philosophical ethics. The present article discusses several topics that illustrate this type of inquiry: thought experiments, responsibility, character, egoism v . altruism, and moral disagreement.
Experimental investigation of mechanisms seems to make use of causal relations that cut across levels of composition. In bottom-up experiments, one intervenes on parts of a mechanism to observe the whole; in top-down experiments, one intervenes on the whole mechanism to observe certain parts of it. It is controversial whether such experiments really make use of interlevel causation, and indeed whether the idea of causation across levels is even conceptually coherent. Craver and Bechtel have suggested that interlevel causal claims can (...) be analysed in a causal and a non-causal component. I accept this idea but argue that their account should be modified so as to account of cases of apparent downward causation. First, constitution must be distinguished from identity; second, the analysis of downward causation requires the concept of a partial constraint. An analysis along these lines shows that the possibility of downward causation is not refuted by Kim's argument according to which it is incompatible with the completeness of physics. (shrink)
While nothing justiﬁes atrocity, many perpetrators manifest cognitive impairments that profoundly degrade their capacity for moral judgment, and such impairments, we shall argue, preclude the attribution of moral responsibility.
The key idea of the interventionist account of causation is that a variable A causes a variable B if and only if B would change if A were manipulated in the appropriate way. This paper raises two problems for Woodward's (2003) version of interventionism. The first is that the conditions it imposes are not sufficient for causation, because these conditions are also satisfied by non-causal relations of nomological dependence expressed in association laws. Such laws ground a relation of mutual manipulability (...) that is incompatible with the asymmetry of causation. Several ways of defending the interventionist account are examined and found unsatisfying. The second problem is that it often seems to be impossible, in a model that contains variables linked by an association law, to satisfy the conditions imposed on interventions on such variables. Various ways to solve this second problem, most importantly the analysis of manipulability in terms of difference making, are examined. Given that none solves the problem, I conclude that the interventionist conditions are neither sufficient nor necessary for causation. It is suggested that they provide an analysis of nomological dependence, which may be supplemented with the notion of a causal process to yield an analysis of causation. (shrink)
El libro E-physicalism - A Physicalist Theory of PhenomenalConsciousness presenta una teoría en el área de la metafísica de laconciencia fenomenal. Está basada en las convicciones de que la experienciasubjetiva -en el sentido de Nagel - es un fenómeno real,y de que alguna variante del fisicalismo debe ser verdadera.
This paper is a critical discussion of Manuel Vargas’ Building Better Beings, focusing on the treatment of desert therein. By means of an analogy between morality and sport, I examine some seemingly peculiar implications of Vargas’ teleological and revisionary account of desert. I also consider some general questions of philosophical methodology provoked by revisionary approaches.
A great deal of fascinating research has gone into an attempt to uncover the fundamental criteria that people use when assigning moral responsibility. Nonetheless, it seems that most existing accounts fall prey to one counterexample or another. The underlying problem, we suggest, is that there simply isn't any single system of criteria that people apply in all cases of responsibility attribution. Instead, it appears that people use quite different criteria in different kinds of cases. [This paper was originally circulated under (...) the title 'Strawsonian Variations.']. (shrink)
The identity of a natural kind can be construed in terms of its causal profile. This conception is more appropriate to science than two alternatives. The identity of a natural kind is not determined by one causal role because one natural kind can have many causal roles and several functions and because some functions are shared by different kinds. Furthermore, the microstructuralist thesis is wrong: The identity of certain natural kinds is not determined by their microstructure. It is true that (...) if A and B have the same microstructural composition then a sample of a chemical substance A is of the same chemical substance as a sample of B. However, the reverse does not hold. It is not the case that if a sample of a chemical substance A is of the same chemical substance as a sample of B then A and B have the same microstructural composition. This is because a macroscopic NK can be “multiconstituted” by different microstructures. (shrink)
Philosophical accounts of moral responsibility are standardly framed by two platitudes. According to them, blame requires the presence of a moral defect in the agent and the absence of excuses. In this chapter, this kind of approach is challenged. It is argued that (a) people sometimes violate moral norms due to performance mistakes, (b) it often appears reasonable to hold them responsible for it, and (c) their mistakes cannot be traced to their moral qualities or to the presence of excuses. (...) In the end, the implications for discussions of moral responsibility are discussed. (shrink)
Is it harder to acquire knowledge about things that really matter to us than it is to acquire knowledge about things we don't much care about? Jason Stanley 2005 argues that whether or not the relational predicate 'knows that' holds between an agent and a proposition can depend on the practical interests of the agent: the more it matters to a person whether p is the case, the more justification is required before she counts as knowing that p. The evidence (...) for Stanley's thesis includes a number of intuitive judgments about examples. In this paper we provide parallel examples for which Stanley's thesis requires unwelcome knowledge-attributions, and argue that this is possible because his thesis conflicts with familiar and plausible principles about knowledge. (shrink)
The idea that causation can be reduced to transmission of an amount of some conserved quantity between events is spelled out and defended against important objections. Transmission is understood as a symmetrical relation of copresence in two distinct events. The actual asymmetry of causality has its origin in the asymmetrical character of certain irreversible physical processes and then spreads through the causal net. This conception is compatible with the possibility of backwards causation and with a causal theory of time. Genidentity, (...) the persistence of concrete objects, can be given an explanation in causal terms. The transmission theory is shown to escape difficulties faced by two important alternative theories of causation: Salmon's (1984) Mark Transmission Theory and Dowe's (1992a) Conserved Quantities Theory. (shrink)
I propose an argument for the thesis that laws of nature are necessary in the sense of holding in all worlds sharing the properties of the actual world, on the basis of a principle I propose to call the Causal Criterion of Reality . The CCR says: for an entity to be real it is necessary and sufficient that it is capable to make a difference to causal interactions. The crucial idea here is that the capacity to interact causally - (...) or to contribute to determining causal interactions - is not only the ultimate metaphysical ground for the existence of an entity, but it also provides a criterion for determining the nature of that entity, i.e. its properties. The alternative is to conceive of laws of nature as contingent: they could be different from what they are like in the actual world, where that possibility is understood to be metaphysical, not only epistemic. For the sake of this paper, I shall accept Armstrong's thesis that laws of nature are relations between universals. I also follow Armstrong in the view that both the existence and the properties of particulars are metaphysically independent of the existence and identity of other particular. However, what is controversial and what I shall challenge is his thesis that universals are like particulars in the following respect: according to Armstrong, each universal is a logically distinct entity whose existence and identity is independent of the existence and identity of other universals. My aim in this paper is to show that the identity of a universal is entirely determined by its lawful relations to other universals. The crucial premise I use is the thesis that the CCR is a universal criterion, which applies both to particulars and universals. From the thesis that the identity of a universal is exclusively determined by laws, it follows that laws are necessary in the sense that they cannot differ without the universals they link also being different. This creates a difficulty for those authors who, as Armstrong, accept the CCR but nevertheless defend the view that laws are contingent. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, I argue against the view that laws of nature are contingent, by attacking a necessary condition for its truth within the framework of a conception of laws as relations between universals. I try to show that there is no independent reason to think that universals have an essence independent of their nomological properties. However, such a non-qualitative essence is required to make sense of the idea that different laws link the same universals in (...) different possible worlds. In the second part, I give a positive argument for the necessity of at least some laws of nature, by showing with the example of a paradigmatic law of association that it consists in an internal relation between two universals which are determinables of the same class of determinates, where this relation is essential to both. Furthermore, I show that the necessity of laws of association could be accommodated within David Lewis' Humean metaphysics, but that it is incompatible with David Armstrong's combinatorialism. (shrink)
During the last decades there has been a remarkable renewal of interest in theories of causation which is linked to the decline of the orthodoxy of the Logical empiricist school. A number of alternatives to the traditional covering-law account have been proposed. I shall defend a version of an approach that has been undeservedly neglected: the Transference Theory of causation. Accounts of this type elaborate the intuition that there is a material link between the cause and the effect, consisting of (...) something transmitted between them. (shrink)
The Moral Psychology Handbook offers a comprehensive discussion of how the human mind influences, and is influenced by, human morality. Each chapter is a collaborative effort, covering major issues in moral psychology, written by leading researchers in both philosophy and psychology.
I propose a realist theory of laws formulated in terms of tropes that avoids both the problems of the "best-systems-analysis" and the "inference problem" of realism of universals. I analyze the concept of an exceptional situation, characterized as a situation in which a particular object satisfies the antecedent but not the consequent of the regularity associated with a law, without thereby falsifying that law. To take this possibility into account, the properties linked by a law must be conceived as dispositional (...) and not necessarily manifest. (shrink)
The functionalist conception of mental properties, together with their multiple realizability, is often taken to entail their irreducibility. It might seem that the only way to revise that judgement is to weaken the requirements traditionally imposed on reduction. However, Jaegwon Kim has recently argued that we should, on the contrary, strengthen those requirements, and construe reduction as what I propose to call “logical reduction”, a model of reduction inspired by emergentism. Moreover, Kim claims that what he calls “functional reduction” allows (...) one to reduce (at least some) mental properties by these new standards. I argue against both theses. First, I present a counterexample to the emergentist model of reduction: The model judges irreducible certain properties which are clearly reducible. Second, I contestthat functional reduction as construed by Kim satisfies the emergentist constraints. Functional reduction implies, over and above a functional definition of the reduced property, the indication of its realizers. But the latter information corresponding to the discovery of a (local) bridge law, is empirical and not purely logical. (shrink)
La philosophie contemporaine connaît une demi-douzaine de théories de la causalité. À l'époque de Kant et de Hume leur nombre a été moindre, à l'avenir on peut s'attendre à ce que leur nombre continue d'augmenter. Parmi les affirmations faites par ces théories sur la nature de la causalité, certaines sont compatibles entre elles, mais beaucoup ne le sont pas. Par conséquent, ou bien quelques-unes de ces théories sont fausses, ou bien elles ne portent pas sur le même objet. Dans ce (...) dernier cas, il y aurait plusieurs genres de causalité : différentes théories diraient quelque chose de correct à propos de différents genres de causalité. Dans cette situation, il apparaît judicieux de commencer par poser deux questions méta-théoriques : quelle est la tâche d'une théorie de la causalité, et quelles sont les données dont une telle théorie doit tenir compte ? Dans une portion considérable de la littérature philosophique sur la causalité, on cherche en vain une réponse claire à la question de savoir si le but de la théorie est l'explication du concept de causalité sous-jacent à notre pratique effective de jugement, ou au contraire sa révision. Cela va souvent de pair avec l'absence d'une justification du fait que la relation que la théorie se propose de définir peut bien être appelée relation causale. Certaines théories de la causalité hautement élaborées sur le plan technique, comme par exemple certaines variantes probabilistes de la théorie de la régularité où les théories plus récentes du transfert, donnent parfois l'impression que c'est la physique qui détient le monopole de définition en ce qui concerne la nature de la relation causale. Un représentant de la théorie du transfert affirme avec un pathos scientiste inébranlable „que la science physique a découvert la nature de la relation causale dans un large ensemble de cas“. Mais comment les sciences de la nature pourraient-elles découvrir quelque chose de ce genre ? La clarification de l'essence de la relation causale est une tâche philosophique par excellence qui relève plus particulièrement de la métaphysique. Le fait qu'il soit souvent nécessaire, au cours d'une recherche métaphysique, de faire appel à des connaissances scientifiques, ne change rien à l'affaire. Il s'agit d'une tache de métaphysique descriptive, que Strawson a caractérisée comme l'entreprise qui consiste à dégager les traits les plus généraux de la structure effective de notre pensée sur le monde. L'idiome causal est profondément ancré dans les langues naturelles ; et le concept de causalité que nous possédons effectivement se reflète dans notre pratique de jugements causaux. Cela ne signifie pas qu’il soit possible d'extraire directement de cette pratique un concept cohérent de causalité. Notre pratique de jugement possède de nombreux aspects et n'est pas dépourvue d'éléments douteux. Pour des besoins philosophiques, notre pratique effective de jugement a besoin d'une certaine discipline ; c'est en ce sens que je parle de la pratique éclairée de jugement causal. Je considère que c'est notre pratique éclairée de jugement causal qui fournit les données dont la théorie de la causalité doit tenir compte ; et la tâche primordiale d'une telle théorie consiste à indiquer les conditions de vérité de cas non controversés d'énoncés causaux singuliers. [...] . (shrink)