matter of knowing that -- that injustice is wrong, courage is valuable, and care is As a result, what I'll be doing is primarily defending in general -- and due. Such knowledge is embodied in a range of capacities, abilities, and skills..
It is tempting and not at all uncommon to find the striking—even noble—visage of an Ideal Observer staring out from the center of Hume's moral theory. When Hume claims, for instance, that virtue is “ whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation ,” it is only natural to think that he must have in mind not just any spectator but a spectator who is fully informed and unsullied by prejudice. And when Hume writes (...) that “the true standard of taste and beauty” is set by those who exhibit “[s]trong sense, united to delicate sentiment, improved by practice, perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice,” he appears to describe a character no ordinary human could actually possess. Indeed, Hume's frequent appeals to the moral sentiments of spectators, his insistence that those sentiments depend upon taking “the general survey,” and his persistent invocation of the general point of view , together make the temptation almost irresistible. (shrink)
David Hume and Adam Smith are usually, and understandably, seen as developing very similar sentimentalist accounts of moral thought and practice. As similar as Hume's and Smith's accounts of moral thought are, they differ in telling ways. This essay is an attempt primarily to get clear on the important differences. They are worth identifying and exploring, in part, because of the great extent to which Hume and Smith share not just an overall approach to moral theory but also a conception (...) of what the key components of an adequate account of moral thought will be. In the process, I hope to bring out the extent to which they both worked to make sense of the fact that we do not merely have affective reactions but also, importantly, make moral judgments. (shrink)
How should a moral realist respond to the (seemingly) abundant evidence diversity provides for relativism? Many think there is only one reasonable response: abandon moral realism. Against them, I argue that moral realists can stand their ground in the face of moral diversity without relying on excessively optimistic arguments or unrealistic assumptions. In the process, I defend two theses: (i) that, far from being incompatible with moral realism, many plausible versions of relativism are _versions of moral realism; and (ii) the (...) best interpretation of the argument from diversity to relativism tells not at all against realist versions of relativism. (shrink)
How many serious mistakes can a brilliant philosopher make in a single paragraph? Many think that Mill answers this question by example—in the third paragraph of Chapter IV of Utilitarianism. Here is the notorious paragraph: The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the (...) sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it. If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practice, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good: that each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons. Happiness has made out its title as one of the ends of conduct, and consequently one of the criteria of morality. (shrink)
Just how realistic about human nature and real possibilities must a theory of justice, or a moral theory, more generally, be? Lines have been drawn, with some holding that idealizing away from reality is indispensable and others maintaining that utopian thinking is not just useless but irrelevant. In Utopophobia David Estlund defends the value of utopian theory. At his most modest, Estlund claims that it is a legitimate approach, not ruled out of court by anti-idealists on entirely inadequate grounds—merely “by (...) assumption or definition” as he puts it. Yet he also argues against what we call real world theory, which takes account of human imperfection and feasible options. It invites complacency and undermines aspiration, he argues, and he accepts Rawls’ claim that it will of necessity be unsystematic, thanks to its realism. We accept that the utopian approach is neither useless nor irrelevant. Yet we press hard against the charges against real world theory, maintaining that, properly understood, it invites neither complacency nor aspiration and can perfectly well offer a systematic and principled account of normative concepts, including justice specifically. (shrink)
Much work in recent moral psychology attempts to spell out what it is for a desire to be an agent’s own, or, as it is often put, what it means for an agent to be identified with certain of her desires rather than others. The aim of such work varies. Some suggest that an account of what it is for a desire to be an agent’s own provides us with an account of what it is for an agent to value (...) something. Others suggest that an account of what it is for a desire to be an agent’s own tells us what it is for an agent to be free or autonomous. (shrink)
The term ‘cooperation’ is widely used in social and political and biological and economic theory. Perhaps for this reason, the term takes on a variety of meanings and it is not always clear in many settings what aspect of an interaction is being described. This paper has the modest aim of sorting through some of this variety of meanings; and exploring, against that background, when and why cooperation might be of value, or be required, or constitute a virtue.
Contractarianism, as a general approach to moral and political thought, has perspective I offer, however, is not scrupulously historical. I smooth over a good deal of the twists and turns that due care to the historical record would had a long and distinguished history -- its roots are easily traced as far back as..
A genuine understanding of Hume's extraordinarily rich, important, and influential moral philosophy requires familiarity with all of his writings on vice and virtue, the passions, the will, and even judgments of beauty--and that means familiarity not only with large portions of _A Treatise of Human Nature, but also with An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals_ and many of his essays as well. This volume is the one truly comprehensive collection of Hume's work on all of these topics. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, (...) a leading moral philosopher and Hume scholar, has done a meticulous job of editing the texts and has provided an extensive Introduction that is at once accessible, accurate, and philosophically engaging, revealing the deep structure of Hume's moral philosophy. --Don Garrett, New York University. (shrink)
On one influential view, a person acts autonomously, doing what she genuinely values, if she acts on a desire that is her own, which is (on this account) a matter of it being appropriately ratified at a higher level. This view faces two problems. It doesn’t generalize, as it should, to an account of when a belief is an agent’s own, and does not let one distinguish between desires (and beliefs) happening to be one's own and their being the ones (...) a person would need to have in order to be autonomous. The paper develops an alternative unified account of what it is for desires and beliefs to be one’s one, and argues that an account of acting autonomously should pay attention not to which desires and beliefs are one’s own, but to whether they are ones the agent has reason to have and to act on. (shrink)
If we assume that a conceptual connection does hold between reasons and action, the arguments for both theses are strikingly simple. In defense of the first thesis, all that need be added is Hume's Principle: between cause and effect only a (logically) contingent relation holds. For given Hume's Principle, and the conceptual connection (which after all is not a contingent one), it follows that no causal connection holds. In defense of the second thesis, all that need be added is one (...) assumption and one observation. The assumption is that the covering-law model of explanation is adequate to the natural sciences; the observation is that if a conceptual connection does hold, then covering-laws are not required to explain a person's action given the presence of the relevant beliefs and desires (because the presence of the latter entail the performance of the former). Together the assumption and the observation undermine the view that one model of explanation will fit both natural science and human psychology. (shrink)
Leibniz' Verteidigung einer relationalen Auffassung von Raum und Zeit im Briefwechsel mit Clarke nimmt in keiner Weise Bezug auf Monaden. Infolgedessen haben einige Leibniz-Interpreten angenommen, Leibniz' relationale Auffassung von Raum und Zeit könne -wenn man sie hinreichend abstrakt versteht -von seiner außerordentlich mentalistischen Ontologie losgelöst werde. In der Tat hat der Gedanke einer Trennung der beiden Lehren etwas Bestechendes, da die relationale Auffassung plausibler erscheint als Leibniz' Metaphysik der Monaden. Vor allem haben Materialisten sich Leibniz' relationale Auffassung zu eigen gemacht (...) und seine mentalistische Ontologie verschmäht. Wie bestechend diese Trennung auch sein mag, die Kohärenz von Leibniz' relationaler Auffassung von Raum und Zeit hängt in entscheidendem Maße von seiner Monadologie ab. Wie Leibniz erkannte, glückt eine relationale Auffassung von Raum und Zeit nur dann, wenn einige grundlegende Bestandteile der Welt nicht grundsätzlich räumlich-zeitlich sind. (shrink)
In Morality, Bernard Gert argues that the fundamental demands of morality are well articulated by ten distinct, and relatively simple, rules. These rules, he holds, are such that any person, no matter what her circumstances or interests, would be rational in accepting, and guiding her choices by, them. The rules themselves are comfortably familiar (e.g. “Do not kill,” “Do not deceive,” “Keep your promises”) and sit well as intuitively plausible. Yet the rules are not, Gert argues, to be accepted merely (...) because they are intuitively attractive, nor because they are already widely recognized, but because they stand as the only set of rules that can qualify as appropriately acceptable to all rational beings. (shrink)