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Duncan MacIntosh
Dalhousie University
  1. Preference's Progress: Rational Self-Alteration and the Rationality of Morality.Duncan Macintosh - 1991 - Dialogue 30 (1-2):3-32.
    I argue that Gauthier's constrained-maximizer rationality is problematic. But standard Maximizing Rationality means one's preferences are only rational if it would not maximize on them to adopt new ones. In the Prisoner's Dilemma, it maximizes to adopt conditionally cooperative preferences. (These are detailed, with a view to avoiding problems of circularity of definition.) Morality then maximizes. I distinguish the roles played in rational choices and their bases by preferences, dispositions, moral and rational principles, the aim of rational action, and rational (...)
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  2. Gerald Vision and Indexicals.Julia Colterjohn & Duncan MacIntosh - 1986 - Analysis 47 (1):58-60.
    The indexical thesis says that the indexical terms, “I”, “here” and “now” necessarily refer to the person, place and time of utterance, respectively, with the result that the sentence, “I am here now” cannot express a false proposition. Gerald Vision offers supposed counter-examples: he says, “I am here now”, while pointing to the wrong place on a map; or he says it in a note he puts in the kitchen for his wife so she’ll know he’s home even though he’s (...)
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  3.  98
    Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Weaponized: A Theory of Moral Injury.Duncan MacIntosh - 2023 - In Justin T. McDaniel, Evan R. Seamone & Stephen N. Xenakis (eds.), Preventing and Treating the Invisible Wounds of War: Combat Trauma, Moral Injury, and Psychological Health. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 175-206.
    This chapter conceptually analyzes the post-traumatic stress injuries called moral injury, moral fatigue or exhaustion, and broken spirit. It then identifies two puzzles. First, soldiers sometimes sustain moral injury even from doing right actions. Second, they experience moral exhaustion from making decisions even where the morally right choice is so obvious that it shouldn’t be stressful to make it; and even where rightness of decision is so murky that no decision could be morally faulted. The injuries result of mistaken moral (...)
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  4. Fire and Forget: A Moral Defense of the Use of Autonomous Weapons in War and Peace.Duncan MacIntosh - 2021 - In Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh & Jens David Ohlin (eds.), Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Re-Examining the Law and Ethics of Robotic Warfare. Oxford University Press. pp. 9-23.
    Autonomous and automatic weapons would be fire and forget: you activate them, and they decide who, when and how to kill; or they kill at a later time a target you’ve selected earlier. Some argue that this sort of killing is always wrong. If killing is to be done, it should be done only under direct human control. (E.g., Mary Ellen O’Connell, Peter Asaro, Christof Heyns.) I argue that there are surprisingly many kinds of situation where this is false and (...)
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  5.  46
    Two Gauthiers?Duncan MacIntosh - 1989 - Dialogue 28 (1):43-.
    David Gauthier claims that it can be rational to co-operate in a prisoner's dilemma if one has adopted a disposition constraining one's self from maximizing one's individual expected utility, i.e., a constrained maximizer disposition. But I claim cooperation cannot be both voluntary and constrained. In resolving this tension I ask what constrained maximizer dispositions might be. One possibility is that they are rationally acquired, irrevocable psychological mechanisms which determine but do not rationalize cooperation. Another possibility is that they are rationally (...)
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  6. Preference-Revision and the Paradoxes of Instrumental Rationality.Duncan MacIntosh - 1992 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):503-529.
    To the normal reasons that we think can justify one in preferring something, x (namely, that x has objectively preferable properties, or has properties that one prefers things to have, or that x's obtaining would advance one's preferences), I argue that it can be a justifying reason to prefer x that one's very preferring of x would advance one's preferences. Here, one prefers x not because of the properties of x, but because of the properties of one's having the preference (...)
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  7.  64
    The Convergence of National Rational Self-Interest and Justice in Space Policy.Duncan Macintosh - 2023 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (1):87-106.
    How may nations protect their interests in space if its fragility makes military operations there self-defeating? This essay claims nations are in Prisoners Dilemmas on the matter, and applies David Gauthier’s theories about how it is rational to behave morally—cooperatively—in such dilemmas. Currently space-faring nations should i) enter into co-operative space sharing arrangements with other rational nations, ii) exclude—militarily, but with only terrestrial force—nations irrational or existentially opposed to other nations being in space, and iii) incentivize all nations into co-operation (...)
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  8. Autonomous Weapons and the Nature of Law and Morality: How Rule-of-Law-Values Require Automation of the Rule of Law.Duncan MacIntosh - 2016 - Temple International and Comparative Law Journal 30 (1):99-117.
    While Autonomous Weapons Systems have obvious military advantages, there are prima facie moral objections to using them. By way of general reply to these objections, I point out similarities between the structure of law and morality on the one hand and of automata on the other. I argue that these, plus the fact that automata can be designed to lack the biases and other failings of humans, require us to automate the formulation, administration, and enforcement of law as much as (...)
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  9. The Sniper and the Psychopath: A Parable in Defense of the Weapons Industry.Duncan MacIntosh - 2023 - In Daniel Schoeni & Tobias Vestner (eds.), Ethical Dilemmas in the Global Defense Industry. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 47-78.
    This chapter discusses the fundamental question of the defense industry’s role and legitimacy for societies. It begins with a parable of a psychopath doing something self-serving that has beneficial moral consequences. Analogously, it is argued, the defense industry profiting by selling weapons that can kill people makes it useful in solving moral problems not solvable by people with ordinary moral scruples. Next, the chapter argues that while the defense industry is a business, it is also implicated in the security of (...)
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  10. Libertarian Agency and Rational Morality: Action-Theoretic Objections to Gauthier's Dispositional Soution of the Compliance Problem.Duncan MacIntosh - 1988 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):499-525.
    David Gauthier thinks agents facing a prisoner's dilemma ('pd') should find it rational to dispose themselves to co-operate with those inclined to reciprocate (i.e., to acquire a constrained maximizer--'cm'--disposition), and to co-operate with other 'cmers'. Richmond Campbell argues that since dominance reasoning shows it remains to the agent's advantage to defect, his co-operation is only rational if cm "determines" him to co-operate, forcing him not to cheat. I argue that if cm "forces" the agent to co-operate, he is not acting (...)
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  11. McClennen’s Early Cooperative Solution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma.Duncan MacIntosh - 1991 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 29 (3):341-358.
    This paper reviews six attempts to give cooperative solutions to Prisoners Dilemmas: symmetry (agents are in identical situations, so should choose the same way, so should both choose cooperation because that’s better for each), mechanism (each agent should delegate the decision to a machine which will choose cooperation for them provided the other does likewise), inducement (the agents should make a side bet which pays off only upon both cooperating), resolution (each agent should resolve to cooperate, then act on the (...)
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  12. Assuring, Threatening, a Fully Maximizing Theory of Practical Rationality, and the Practical Duties of Agents.Duncan MacIntosh - 2013 - Ethics 123 (4):625-656.
    Theories of practical rationality say when it is rational to form and fulfill intentions to do actions. David Gauthier says the correct theory would be the one our obeying would best advance the aim of rationality, something Humeans take to be the satisfaction of one’s desires. I use this test to evaluate the received theory and Gauthier’s 1984 and 1994 theories. I find problems with the theories and then offer a theory superior by Gauthier’s test and immune to the problems. (...)
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  13. Persons and the satisfaction of preferences: Problems in the rational kinematics of values.Duncan MacIntosh - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):163-180.
    If one can get the targets of one's current wants only by acquiring new wants (as in the Prisoner's Dilemma), is it rational to do so? Arguably not. For this could justify adopting unsatisfiable wants, violating the rational duty to maximize one's utility. Further, why cause a want's target if one will not then want it? And people "are" their wants. So if these change, people will not survive to enjoy their wants' targets. I reply that one rationally need not (...)
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  14.  88
    Co-operative solutions to the prisoner's dilemma.Duncan Macintosh - 1991 - Philosophical Studies 64 (3):309 - 321.
    For the tradition, an action is rational if maximizing; for Gauthier, if expressive of a disposition it maximized to adopt; for me, if maximizing on rational preferences, ones whose possession maximizes given one's prior preferences. Decision and Game Theory and their recommendations for choice need revamping to reflect this new standard for the rationality of preferences and choices. It would not be rational when facing a Prisoner's Dilemma to adopt or co-operate from Amartya Sen's "Assurance Game" or "Other Regarding" preferences. (...)
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  15. Retaliation Rationalized: Gauthier's Solution to the Deterrence Dilemma.Duncan MacIntosh - 1991 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):9-32.
    Gauthier claims: (1) a non-maximizing action is rational if it maximized to intend it. If one intended to retaliate in order to deter an attack, (2) retaliation is rational, for it maximized to intend it. I argue that even on sympathetic theories of intentions, actions and choices, (1) is incoherent. But I defend (2) by arguing that an action is rational if it maximizes on preferences it maximized to adopt given one's antecedent preferences. (2) is true because it maximized to (...)
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  16. Intransitive Preferences, Vagueness, and the Structure of Procrastination.Duncan MacIntosh - 2010 - In Chrisoula Andreou & Mark D. White (eds.), The Thief of Time. Oxford University Press.
    Chrisoula Andreou says procrastination qua imprudent delay is modeled by Warren Quinn’s self-torturer, who supposedly has intransitive preferences that rank each indulgence in something that delays his global goals over working toward those goals and who finds it vague where best to stop indulging. His pair-wise choices to indulge result in his failing the goals, which he then regrets. This chapter argues, contra the money-pump argument, that it is not irrational to have or choose from intransitive preferences; so the agent’s (...)
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  17. Partial convergence and approximate truth.Duncan Macintosh - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (1):153-170.
    Scientific Realists argue that it would be a miracle if scientific theories were getting more predictive without getting closer to the truth; so they must be getting closer to the truth. Van Fraassen, Laudan et al. argue that owing to the underdetermination of theory by data (UDT) for all we know, it is a miracle, a fluke. So we should not believe in even the approximate truth of theories. I argue that there is a test for who is right: suppose (...)
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  18. Sterba’s Argument From Non-Question-Beggingness for the Rationality of Morality.Duncan MacIntosh - 2014 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (1):171-189.
    James Sterba describes the egoist as thinking only egoist reasons decide the rationality of choices of action, the altruist, only altruistic reasons, that each in effect begs the question of what reasons there are against the other, and that the only non-question-begging and therefore rationally defensible position in this controversy is the middle-ground position that high-ranking egoistic reasons should trump low ranking-altruistic considerations and vice versa, this position being co-extensive with morality. Therefore it is rationally obligatory choose morally. I object (...)
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  19. Categorically Rational Preferences and the Structure of Morality.Duncan MacIntosh - 1998 - In Peter Danielson (ed.), Modeling Rationality, Morality and Evolution; Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science, Volume 7. Oxford University Press.
    David Gauthier suggested that all genuine moral problems are Prisoners Dilemmas (PDs), and that the morally and rationally required solution to a PD is to co-operate. I say there are four other forms of moral problem, each a different way of agents failing to be in PDs because of the agents’ preferences. This occurs when agents have preferences that are malevolent, self-enslaving, stingy, or bullying. I then analyze preferences as reasons for action, claiming that this means they must not target (...)
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  20. Protecting Democracy by Commingling Polities: The Case for Accepting Foreign Influence and Interference in Democratic Processes.Duncan MacIntosh - 2021 - In Duncan B. Hollis & Jens David Ohlin (eds.), Defending Democracies: Combating Foreign Election Interference in a Digital Age. Oxford University Press. pp. 93-114.
    This chapter criticizes several methods of responding to the techniques foreign powers are widely acknowledged to be using to subvert U.S. elections. It suggests that countries do this when they have a legitimate stake in each other’s political deliberations, but no formal voice in them. It also suggests that if they accord each other such a voice, they will engage as co-deliberators with arguments, rather than trying to undermine each other’s deliberative processes; and that this will be salutary for all (...)
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  21. Who Owns Me: Me Or My Mother? How To Escape Okin's Problem For Nozick's And Narveson's Theory Of Entitlement.Duncan MacIntosh - 2007 - In Malcolm Murray (ed.), Liberty, Games And Contracts: Jan Narveson And The Defense Of Libertarianism. Ashgate.
    Susan Okin read Robert Nozick as taking it to be fundamental to his Libertarianism that people own themselves, and that they can acquire entitlement to other things by making them. But she thinks that, since mothers make people, all people must then be owned by their mothers, a consequence Okin finds absurd. She sees no way for Nozick to make a principled exception to the idea that people own what they make when what they make is people, concluding that Nozick’s (...)
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  22. Weaponizing Culture: A Limited Defense of the Destruction of Cultural Heritage in War.Duncan MacIntosh - 2022 - In Claire Finkelstein, Derek Gillman & Frederik Rosén (eds.), The Preservation of Art and Culture in Times of War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 97-128.
    It is widely thought that stealing, trading and destroying cultural artifacts in time of war are inherently immoral actions, and that it is right that they be treated as war crimes, which, indeed, they currently are. But oppressive cultures have their heritage and cultural artifacts too, in the form of monuments, sites of worship, and so on; and for the oppressed, these things may be awful reminders of their subordination, and may even perpetuate it. This chapter suggests that, since cultural (...)
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  23. 4. The Mutual Limitation of Needs as Bases of Moral Entitlements: A Solution to Braybrooke’s Problem.Duncan Macintosh - 2006 - In Susan Sherwin & Peter Schotch (eds.), Engaged Philosophy: Essays in Honour of David Braybrooke. University of Toronto Press. pp. 77-100.
    David Braybrooke argues that meeting people’s needs ought to be the primary goal of social policy. But he then faces the problem of how to deal with the fact that our most pressing needs, needs to be kept alive with resource-draining medical technology, threaten to exhaust our resources for meeting all other needs. I consider several solutions to this problem, eventually suggesting that the need to be kept alive is no different in kind from needs to fulfill various projects, and (...)
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  24. The Impossibility of Quine’s Indeterminacy Theory.Duncan MacIntosh - 1988 - Philosophie Et Culture: Actes du XVIIe Congrès Mondial de Philosophie 3:22-26.
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  25. Logically Private Laws: Legislative Secrecy in "The War on Terror".Duncan Macintosh - 2019 - In Claire Finkelstein & Michael Skerker (eds.), Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 225-251.
    Wittgenstein taught us that there could not be a logically private language— a language on the proper speaking of which it was logically impossible for there to be more than one expert. For then there would be no difference between this person thinking she was using the language correctly and her actually using it correctly. The distinction requires the logical possibility of someone other than her being expert enough to criticize or corroborate her usage, someone able to constitute or hold (...)
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  26. Ideal Moral Codes.Duncan MacIntosh - 1990 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):389-408.
    Ideal rule utilitarianism says that a moral code C is correct if its acceptance maximizes utility; and that right action is compliance with C. But what if we cannot accept C? Rawls and L. Whitt suggest that C is correct if accepting C maximizes among codes we can accept; and that right action is compliance with C. But what if merely reinforcing a code we can't accept would maximize? G. Trianosky suggests that C is correct if reinforcing it maximizes; and (...)
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  27. Could God Have Made the Big Bang? (On Theistic Counterfactuals).Duncan Macintosh - 1994 - Dialogue 33 (1):3-20.
    Quentin Smith argues that if God exists, He had a duty to ensure life's existence; and He couldn't rationally have done so and made a big bang unless a counter-factual like "If God had made a big bang, there would have been life," was true pre-creation. But such counter-factuals are not true pre-creation. I argue that God could have made a big bang without irrationality; and that He could have ensured life without making big bangs non-random. Further, a proper understanding (...)
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  28. Buridan and the Circumstances of Justice (On the Implications of the Rational Unsolvability of Certain Co-ordination Problems).Duncan MacIntosh - 1992 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):150-173.
    Gauthier and Hobbes reduce Prisoners Dilemmas to co-ordination problems (CPs). Many think rational, face-to-face agents can solve any CP by agreed fiat. But though an agent can rationally use a symmetry-breaking technique (ST) to decide between equal options, groups cannot unless their members' STs luckily converge. Failing this, the CP is escapable only by one agent's non-rational stubbornness, or by the group's "conquest" by an outside force. Implications: one's strategic rationality is group-relative; there are some optimums groups in principle cannot (...)
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  29. Commentary: Rationalizing Naturalism; On Hilary Kornblith's "Naturalizing Rationality".Duncan MacIntosh - 1986 - In Newton Garver & Peter H. Hare (eds.), Naturalism and Rationality. Prometheus Books. pp. 135-139.
  30.  83
    Reasons and Purposes: Human Rationality and the Teleological Explanation of Action - By G.F. Schueler.Duncan Macintosh - 2007 - Philosophical Books 48 (1):86-88.
  31.  28
    Introduction: An Effort to Balance the Lopsided Autonomous Weapons Debate.Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh & Jens David Ohlin - 2021 - In Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh & Jens David Ohlin (eds.), Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Re-Examining the Law and Ethics of Robotic Warfare. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-6.
    Discusses nuances required to balance out the debate surrounding the moral and legal permissibility of using autonomous weapon systems in war fighting.
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  32.  80
    Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Re-Examining the Law and Ethics of Robotic Warfare.Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh & Jens David Ohlin (eds.) - 2021 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    The question of whether new rules or regulations are required to govern, restrict, or even prohibit the use of autonomous weapon systems has been the subject of debate for the better part of a decade. Despite the claims of advocacy groups, the way ahead remains unclear since the international community has yet to agree on a specific definition of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems and the great powers have largely refused to support an effective ban. In this vacuum, the public has (...)
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  33. Editorial.Duncan Macintosh - 1992 - Philosophical Studies 65 (1/2):1.
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  34.  68
    Modality, Mechanism and Translational Indeterminacy.Duncan MacIntosh - 1989 - Dialogue 28 (3):391-.
    Ken Warmbrod thinks Quine agrees that translation is determinate if it is determinate what speakers would say in all possible circumstances; that what things would do in merely possible circumstances is determined by what their subvisible constituent mechanisms would dispose them to do on the evidence of what alike actual mechanisms make alike actual things do actually; and that what speakers say is determined by their neural mechanisms. Warmbrod infers that people's neural mechanisms make translation of what people say determinate. (...)
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  35. Prudence and the reasons of rational persons.Duncan MacIntosh - 2001 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (3):346 – 365.
    Hume said that the reasons that determine the rationality of one's actions are the desires one has when acting: one's actions are rational iff they advance these desires. Thomas Nagel says this entails calling rational, actions absurdly conflicting in aims over time. For one might have reason, in one's current desires, to begin trying to cause states one foresees having reason, in one's foreseen desires, to prevent. Instead, then, real reasons must be timeless, so that current and foreseen reasons cannot (...)
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  36.  74
    Prudence and the Temporal Structure of Practical Reasons.Duncan MacIntosh - 2003 - In Sarah Stroud & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford University Press. pp. 230--250.
    I reject three theories of practical reason according to which a rational agent's ultimate reasons for acting must be unchanging: that one is rationally obliged in each choice (1) to be prudent--to advance all the desires one foresees ever having (the self-interest theory), rather than just those one has at the time of choice, or (2) to cause states of affairs that are good by some timeless, impersonal measure (Thomas Nagel), or (3) to obey permanent, universalizable deontic principles (Kant). Whether (...)
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