Ordinary moral thought often commits what social psychologists call 'the fundamental attribution error '. This is the error of ignoring situational factors and overconfidently assuming that distinctive behaviour or patterns of behaviour are due to an agent's distinctive character traits. In fact, there is no evidence that people have character traits in the relevant sense. Since attribution of character traits leads to much evil, we should try to educate ourselves and others to stop doing it.
Change in View offers an entirely original approach to the philosophical study of reasoning by identifying principles of reasoning with principles for revising one's beliefs and intentions and not with principles of logic. This crucial observation leads to a number of important and interesting consequences that impinge on psychology and artificial intelligence as well as on various branches of philosophy, from epistemology to ethics and action theory. Gilbert Harman is Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. A Bradford Book.
Explaining Value is a selection of the best of Gilbert Harman's shorter writings in moral philosophy. The thirteen essays are divided into four sections, which focus in turn on moral relativism, values and valuing, character traits and virtue ethics, and ways of explaining aspects of morality. Harman's distinctive approach to moral philosophy has provoked much interest; this volume offers a fascinating conspectus of his most important work in the area.
In this important new collection, Gilbert Harman presents a selection of fifteen interconnected essays on fundamental issues at the center of analytic philosophy. The book opens with a group of four essays discussing basic principles of reasoning and rationality. The next three essays argue against the once popular idea that certain claims are true and knowable by virtue of meaning. In the third group of essays Harman presents his own view of meaning and the possibility of thinking in language The (...) final three essays investigate the nature of mind, developing further the themes already set out. Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind offers an integrated presentation of this rich and influential body of work. which Harman has developed over thirty years. (shrink)
Solomon argues that, although recent research in social psychology has important implications for business ethics, it doesnot undermine an approach that stresses virtue ethics. However, he underestimates the empirical threat to virtue ethics, and his a prioriclaim that empirical research cannot overturn our ordinary moral psychology is overstated. His appeal to seemingly obvious differencesin character traits between people simply illustrates the fundamental attribution error. His suggestion that the Milgram and Darley andBatson experiments have to do with such character traits as (...) obedience and punctuality cannot help to explain the relevant differencesin the way people behave in different situations. His appeal to personality theory fails, because, as an intellectual academic discipline,personality theory is in shambles, mainly because it has been concerned with conceptions of personality rather than with what is trueabout personality. Solomon’s rejection of Doris’s claims about the fragmentation of character is at odds with the received view in socialpsychology. Finally, he is mistaken to think that rejecting virtue ethics implies rejecting free will and moral responsibility. (shrink)
CRS says that the meanings of expressions of a language or other symbol system or the contents of mental states are determined and explained by the way symbols are used in thinking. According to CRS one.
Gilbert harman has recently proposed a version of moral relativism which is markedly clearer than any earlier statement of that position. Besides consistency and clarity, Harman claims for his thesis a number of positive virtues. The thesis, He argues, "helps explain otherwise puzzling aspects of our moral views"; it accounts for "a previously unnoticed distinction between inner and non-Inner judgments"' and it allows us to meet traditional objections to related theories. In this paper, I argue that none of these alleged (...) virtues is adequately documented by harman's arguments. (shrink)
This volume is a direct result of a conference held at Princeton University to honor George A. Miller, an extraordinary psychologist. A distinguished panel of speakers from various disciplines -- psychology, philosophy, neuroscience and artificial intelligence -- were challenged to respond to Dr. Miller's query: "What has happened to cognition? In other words, what has the past 30 years contributed to our understanding of the mind? Do we really know anything that wasn't already clear to William James?" Each participant tried (...) to stand back a little from his or her most recent work, but to address the general question from his or her particular standpoint. The chapters in the present volume derive from that occasion. (shrink)
The first part of this article discusses recent skepticism about character traits. The second describes various forms of virtue ethics as reactions to such skepticism. The philosopher J.-P. Sartre argued in the 1940s that character traits are pretenses, a view that the sociologist E. Goffman elaborated in the 1950s. Since then social psychologists have shown that attributions of character traits tend to be inaccurate through the ignoring of situational factors. (Personality psychology has tended to concentrate on people's conceptions of personality (...) and character rather than on the accuracy of these conceptions). Similarly, the political theorist R. Hardin has argued for situational explanations of bloody social disputes in the former Yugoslavia and in Africa, rather than explanations in terms of ethnic hatred for example. A version of virtue ethics might identify virtues as characteristics of acts rather than character traits, as traits consisting in actual regularities in behavior, or as robust dispositions that would manifest themselves also in counterfactual situations. (shrink)
John Hawthorne’s marvelous book contains a wealth of arguments and insights based on an impressive knowledge and understanding of contemporary discussion. We can address only a small aspect of the topic. In particular, we will offer our own answers to two questions about knowledge that he discusses.
When epistemologists talk about knowledge, the discussions traditionally include only a small class of other epistemic notions: belief, justification, probability, truth. In this paper, we propose that epistemologists should include an additional epistemic notion into the mix, namely the notion of assuming or taking for granted.
According to moral relativism, there is not a single true morality. There are a variety of possible moralities or moral frames of reference, and whether something is morally right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, etc. is a relative matter—relative to one or another morality or moral frame of reference. Something can be morally right relative to one moral frame of reference and morally wrong relative to another. It is useful to compare moral relativism to other relativisms. One (...) possible comparison is with motion relativism. There is no such thing as absolute motion or absolute rest. Whether something is moving or at rest is relative to a spatio-temporal frame of reference. Something may be at rest in one frame of reference and moving in another. There is no such thing as absolute motion and absolute rest, but we can make do with relative motion and rest. Similarly, moral relativism is the view that, although there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong, we can make do with relative right and wrong. (shrink)
I begin by summarizing the first two chapters of (Harman 1986). The first chapter stresses the importance of not confusing inference with implication and of not confusing reasoning with the sort of argument studied in deductive logic. Inference and reasoning are psychological events or processes that can be done more or less well. The sort of implication and argument studied in deductive logic have to do with relations among propositions and with structures of propositions distinguished into premises, intermediate steps, and (...) conclusion. Deductive logic is not a particular psychological subject and is not a particularly normative subject, although one might attempt to develop a logic of belief or a deontic logic, for example. (shrink)
According to moral relativism, there is not a single true morality. There are a variety of possible moralities or moral frames of reference, and whether something is morally right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, etc. is a relative matterâ€”relative to one or another morality or moral frame of reference. Something can be morally right relative to one moral frame of reference and morally wrong relative to another. It is useful to compare moral relativism to other kinds of (...) relativism. One possible comparison is with motion relativism. There is no such thing as absolute motion or absolute rest. Whether something is moving or at rest is relative to a spatio-temporal frame of reference. Something may be at rest in one such frame of reference and moving in another. There is no such thing as absolute motion and absolute rest, but we can make do with relative motion and rest. Similarly, moral relativism is the view that, although there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong, we can make do with relative right and wrong. (shrink)
The problem of induction is sometimes motivated via a comparison between rules of induction and rules of deduction. Valid deductive rules are necessarily truth preserving, while inductive rules are not.
This landmark collection of essays by six renowned philosophers explores the implications of the contentious realism/antirealism debate for epistemology. The essays examine issues such as whether epistemology needs to be realist, the bearing of a realist conception of truth on epistemology, and realism and antirealism in terms of a pragmatist conception of epistemic justification. Richard Rorty's essay provides a critical commentary on the other five.
Putnam rejects "metaphysical realism," which takes "the world" to be a single complex thing, a connected causal or explanatory order into which all facts fit. he argues that such metaphysical realism is responsible for views he finds implausible; in particular, it can lead to moral relativism when one tries to locate the place of value in the world of fact. i agree that metaphysical realism will lead a thoughtful philosopher to moral relativism, but find neither of these views implausible. in (...) particular, putnam's main argument against metaphysical realism seems fallacious and his suggested alternative, to think of truth as the idea limit of rational inquiry, is clearly incorrect. (shrink)
Jason Stanley’s Knowledge and Practical Interests is a brilliant book, combining insights about knowledge with a careful examination of how recent views in epistemology fit with the best of recent linguistic semanties. Although I am largely convinced by Stanley’s objections to epistemic contextualism, I will try in what follows to formulate aversion that might have some prospect of escaping his powerful critique.
I begin by describing my relation with Nicholas Sturgeon and his objections to things I have said about moral explanations. Then I turn to issues about moral relativism. One of these is whether a plausible version of moral relativism can be formulated as a claim about the logical form of certain moral judgments. I agree that is not a good way to think of moral relativism. Instead, I think of moral relativism as a version of moral realism. I compare moral (...) relativism with the relativity of motion and with the relativity of language. Moralities are real in a way that is similar to the way that languages are real. Next I discuss resemblances between nonhuman animal behavior and human behavior having to do with language or communication and with moral or proto-moral behavior. However, I am more interested in aspects of language and morality that are not found in nonhuman animals, aspects that appear to depend on a kind of recursive structure in human language and morality but not in animals. This leads me to argue that aspects of moral theory might benefit from a comparison with certain aspects of linguistic theory. Another comparison is between moralities and legal systems: I speculate that the content of legal and moral systems is influenced by legal and moral bargaining. (shrink)