Identities formed with proper names may be contingent. this claim is made first through an example. the paper then develops a theory of the semantics of concrete things, with contingent identity as a consequence. this general theory lets concrete things be made up canonically from fundamental physical entities. it includes theories of proper names, variables, cross-world identity with respect to a sortal, and modal and dispositional properties. the theory, it is argued, is coherent and superior to its rivals, in that (...) it stems naturally from a systematic picture of the physical world. (shrink)
In these three Tanner lectures, distinguished ethical theorist Allan Gibbard explores the nature of normative thought and the bases of ethics. In the first lecture he explores the role of intuitions in moral thinking and offers a way of thinking about the intuitive method of moral inquiry that both places this activity within the natural world and makes sense of it as an indispensable part of our lives as planners. In the second and third lectures he takes up the kind (...) of substantive ethical inquiry he has described in the first lecture, asking how we might live together on terms that none of us could reasonably reject. Since working at cross purposes loses fruits that might stem from cooperation, he argues, any consistent ethos that meets this test would be, in a crucial way, utilitarian. It would reconcile our individual aims to establish, in Kant's phrase, a "kingdom of ends." The volume also contains an introduction by Barry Stroud, the volume editor, critiques by Michael Bratman (Stanford University), John Broome (Oxford University), and F. M. Kamm (Harvard University), and Gibbard's responses. (shrink)
The concepts of meaning and mental content resist naturalistic analysis. This is because they are normative: they depend on ideas of how things ought to be. Allan Gibbard offers an expressivist explanation of these 'oughts': he borrows devices from metaethics to illuminate deep problems at the heart of the philosophy of language and thought.
In Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, Alan Gibbard explores a central question in ethics: what content our moral judgements carry in relation to the `norms' of society which have shaped our views and opinions. Gibbard develops a philosophically sophisticated answer to this, taking ideas from a wide background, - modern psychology, game theory, and evolutionary biology, - and applying them to ethics for the first time.
I can ask myself what to do, and I can ask myself what I ought to do. Are these the same question? We can imagine conjuring up a distinction, I’m sure. Suppose, though, I just told you this: “I have figured out what I ought to do, and I have figured out what to do.” Would you understand immediately what distinction I was making? To do so, you would have to exercise ingenuity. I have in mind here an “all things (...) considered” ought that I can use in my thinking, an ought that is not specifically moral, in that it doesn’t settle by sheer rules of language that I ought always to abide by morality. For this ought, the question of what I ought to do seems just to be the question of what to do. (shrink)
What are ethical judgments about? And what is their relation to practice? How can ethical judgment aspire to objectivity? The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in metaethics, placing questions such as these about the nature and status of ethical judgment at the very center of contemporary moral philosophy. Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches is a unique anthology which collects important recent work, much of which is not easily available elsewhere, on core metaethical issues. Naturalist (...) moral realism, once devastated by the charge of "naturalistic fallacy," has been reinvigorated, as have versions of moral realism that insist on the discontinuity between ethics and science. Irrealist, expressivist programs have also developed with great subtlety, encouraging the thought that a noncognivist account may actually be able to explain ethical judgments' aspirations to objectivity. Neo-Kantian constructivist theories have flourished as well, offering hope that morality can be grounded in a plausible conception of reasonable conduct. Together, the positions advanced in the essays collected here address these recent developments, constituting a rich array of approaches to contemporary moral philosophy's most fundamental debates. An extensive introduction by Darwall, Gibbard, and Railton is also included, making this volume the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind. Moral Discourse is ideally suited for use in courses in contemporary ethics, ethical theory, and metaethics. (shrink)
Goodness, rational permissibility, and the like might be gruesome properties. That is to say, they might not well suit causal-explanatory purposes. Or at least, these properties are gruesome for all their normative concepts tell us by themselves. Perhaps hedonists are right and such properties are anything but gruesome, but perhaps instead, the most gruesome-minded ethical pluralists are right—normative concepts by themselves don’t settle the issue. At the end of his marvelous commentary, John Hawthorne depicts the morass of dank possibilities that (...) a “moral realist” must enter when he tries explaining how normative words and thoughts could lock on to some particular causally gruesome property that constitutes being good. Right, I say, and expressivists can direct us around the morass. Then he asks why I avoid the questions that lead moral realists into this morass. But I don’t avoid them; I offer an answer. (shrink)