According to the discontinuity view we can have a (lower) pleasure which, no matter how often a certain unit of it is added to itself, cannot become greater in value than a unit of another (higher) pleasure. All recent adherents of this view seem to rely basically on the same sort of reasoning which is referred to here as the preference test. This article presents three arguments, each of which indicates that the inference from the preference test to the (...) discontinuity view is not conclusive. (shrink)
J. S. Mill's distinction between higher and lower pleasures is often thought to conflict with his commitment to psychological and ethical hedonism: if the superiority of higherpleasures is quantitative, then the higher/lower distinction is superfluous and Mill contradicts himself; if the superiority of higherpleasures is not quantitative, then Mill's hedonism is compromised.
Aggregation-friendly moral theories such as classical utilitarianism are forced to invest a great deal of ingenuity in damping out and modulating the effects of welfare aggregation. In Mill's treatment, the problem famously appears as the puzzle of how the Principle of Liberty is meant to be compatible with the Principle of Utility, and there have been a great many attempted interpretations of his solution, all, in my view, unsatisfactory. I will first reconstruct Mill's generally unnoticed account of the psychological implementation (...) of higherpleasures; this will allow me to explain what the distinction between higher and lower pleasures was, and how Mill was introduced lexical preference orderings into his theory. Then I will show how the underlying psychological theory permits Mill to argue for the lexical priority of liberty over the goods which liberty allows us to obtain. Finally, I will turn to the Millian considerations omitted from the argument I will have reconstructed. By way of explaining why they are so difficult to accommodate, I will consider why Mill might have abandoned his projected sciences of character. I will take my leave by asking what Mill's failure to turn his implementation analysis of the higherpleasures into an argument expressing the importance of individuality and originality means for us. (shrink)
Recent attempts to defend Mill's account of higher and lower pleasures have overlooked a critical flaw in Mill's argument. Mill considers the question of pleasure and preference as an empirical one, but the evidence he appeals to is inconclusive. Yet, this distinction plays an essential role in Mill's utilitarianism because Mill uses this evidence to support his argument that most people actually prefer pleasures resulting from higher faculties over pleasures resulting from lower faculties. If this (...) proves to be insufficient, then Mill's claim that these pleasures are clearly of a higher quality than others is left unsubstantiated. This article highlights the problematic nature of Mill's evidence, thereby exposing a significant problem for his, and for any utilitarian system which assumes Mill's distinction without providing additional argumentation for it. (shrink)
I offer an interpretation of John Stuart Mill's theory of higher and lower pleasures in his Utilitarianism. I argue that the quality of pleasure is best understood as the density of pleasure per unit of delivery. Mill is illustrated with numerous beer examples.
In the second chapter of Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill writes: It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognise the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.
I defend these claims: (1) 'Pleasure' has exactly one English antonym: 'unpleasure.' (2) Pleasure is the most convincing example of an organic unity. (3) The hedonic calculus is a joke. (4) An important type of pleasure is background pleasure. (5) Pleasures in bad company are still good. (6) Higherpleasures aren't pleasures (and if they were, they wouldn't be higher). Thesis (1) merely concerns terminology, but theses (2)-(6) are substantive, evaluative claims.
In this paper, I argue that Phenomenalists about pleasure can concede a key claim, Heterogeneity, commonly used to object to their theory. They also can then vindicate the aspirations of J. S. Mill’s doctrine of higherpleasures, while grounding their value claims in a naturalistic metaethics. But once Phenomenalists concede Heterogeneity they can no longer consistently endorse Hedonism as the correct theory of wellbeing, since they implicitly commit to recognizing distinct kinds of pleasure that are independently good-making. I (...) also explore further issues that arise for a Pluralist theory of pleasure: How could there be distinct kinds of pleasure? How can pleasures be measured? Is it possible for some pleasures to be superior in kind to others? What unifies the category of pleasant experiences? Is the value of pleasant experiences natural or non-natural? (shrink)
A significant feature of John Stuart Mill's moral theory is the introduction of qualitative differences as relevant to the comparative value of pleasures. Despite its significance, Mill presents his doctrine of qualities of pleasures in only a few paragraphs in the second chapter of Utilitarianism, where he begins the brief discussion by saying: utilitarian writers in general have placed the superiority of mental over bodily pleasures chiefly … in their circumstantial advantages rather than in their intrinsic nature.… (...) [B]ut they might have taken the … higher ground with entire consistency. It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone. (shrink)
The author tries to show that the old distinction between bodily and mental pains and pleasures, still maintained by many ethical writers, deserves to be forgotten. An analysis of the possible interpretations of this distinction leads to the opinion that people call mental those pleasures which they have in high esteem and that they treat as bodily pleasures the ones less approved. Thus the distinction which was expected to contribute to an elaboration of a hierarchy of values (...) already implies one, and the statement that mental pleasures belong to a higher order is a mere tautology. (shrink)
I argue that the arguments brought by Counsel for M to the English Court of Protection are morally problematic in prioritising subjective interests that are the result of ‘consistent autonomous thought’ over subjective interests that are the result of a more limited cognitive perspective.
I ARGUE THAT WE RECEIVE PLEASURE FROM TRAGEDIES BECAUSE WE ARE PLEASED TO FIND OURSELVES RESPONDING IN AN UNPLEASANT WAY TO HUMAN SUFFERING AND INJUSTICE. THE PLEASURE IS THUS A METARESPONSE, AND REFLECTS FEELINGS WHICH ARE AT THE BASIS OF MORALITY. THIS HELPS EXPLAIN WHY TRAGEDY IS SUPPOSED TO BE A HIGHER ART FORM THAN COMEDY, AND PROVIDES A NEW WAY OF SEEING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MORALITY OF AN ARTWORK AND ITS VALUE.
In a series of recent papers, Ben Bramble defends a version of hedonism which holds that purely repetitious pleasures add no value to one’s life (i.e. Non-Repeatable Hedonism). In this paper, we pose a dilemma for Non-Repeatable Hedonism. We argue that it is either committed both to a deeply implausible asymmetry between how pleasures and pains affect a person’s well-being and to deeply implausible claims about how to maximize well-being, or is committed to the claim that a life (...) of eternal pleasure for a person can be just as good for them as a life of eternal suffering. The only way out of this dilemma is for Bramble to reject the Non-Repetition Requirement. Yet, rejecting this requirement both forces Bramble to reject the wholly unique, core component, of his view and undermines his view’s ability to handle one of the most powerful objections to hedonism, viz., that a life with a larger quantity of so-called “base” (or lower) pleasures is better for a person than a life with a slightly smaller quantity of so-called higherpleasures. We conclude that Non-Repeatable Hedonism must be rejected in favor of standard forms of hedonism or some non-hedonic view of well-being. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill thought himself more indebted to Plato for his mental culture than to any other author. A study of his Gorgias translation and notes shows that arguments in On Liberty and Utilitarianism for individuality, freedom of discussion and the superiority of higherpleasures were probably shaped by that dialogue.
Mill's most famous departure from Bentham is his distinction between higher and lower pleasures. This article argues that quality and quantity are independent and irreducible properties of pleasures that may be traded off against each other higherpleasures’ lexically dominate lower ones, and that the distinction is compatible with hedonism. I show how this interpretation not only makes sense of Mill but allows him to respond to famous problems, such as Crisp's Haydn and the oyster (...) and Nozick's experience machine. (shrink)
Recent authors have drawn attention to a new kind of defeating evidence commonly referred to as higher-order evidence. Such evidence works by inducing doubts that one’s doxastic state is the result of a flawed process – for instance, a process brought about by a reason-distorting drug. I argue that accommodating defeat by higher-order evidence requires a two-tiered theory of justification, and that the phenomenon gives rise to a puzzle. The puzzle is that at least in some situations involving (...)higher-order defeaters the correct epistemic rules issue conflicting recommendations. For instance, a subject ought to believe p, but she ought also to suspend judgment in p. I discuss three responses. The first resists the puzzle by arguing that there is only one correct epistemic rule, an Über-rule. The second accepts that there are genuine epistemic dilemmas. The third appeals to a hierarchy or ordering of correct epistemic rules. I spell out problems for all of these responses. I conclude that the right lesson to draw from the puzzle is that a state can be epistemically rational or justified even if one has what looks to be strong evidence to think that it is not. As such, the considerations put forth constitute a non question-begging argument for a kind of externalism. (shrink)
Against Schmidt-Petri's claim, I argue that John Stuart Mill is committed to the view that one pleasure is higher in quality than another if and only if at least a majority of those people who are competently acquainted with both always prefer the one no matter how much of the other is offered. I support my reading with solid textual evidence; none such is provided by Schmidt-Petri in support of his contrary interpretation that qualitative superiority exists whenever the experienced (...) prefer less of one pleasure to more of another. The decisive objection to this is its incompatibility with the hedonistic requirement that more pleasure ought to be preferred to less, a requirement so fundamental that it would be uncharitable to suppose that Mill lost sight of it in his doctrine of higherpleasures. (shrink)
Mill's most famous departure from Bentham is his distinction between higher and lower pleasures. This article argues that quality and quantity are independent and irreducible properties of pleasures that may be traded off against each other – as in the case of quality and quantity of wine. I argue that Mill is not committed to thinking that there are two distinct kinds of pleasure, or that ‘higherpleasures’ lexically dominate lower ones, and that the distinction (...) is compatible with hedonism. I show how this interpretation not only makes sense of Mill but allows him to respond to famous problems, such as Crisp's Haydn and the oyster and Nozick's experience machine. (shrink)
A reconsideration of mill's theory of "higherpleasures," construed as a way of evaluating changes in preferences or character that result from changes in social environment. mill's account is criticized and partly reconstructed in light of modern preference theory, but viewed favorably as an illuminating attempt to address a fundamental problem in moral evaluation of social institutions. mill's advocacy of the higherpleasures is defended in particular against the charge that it is incompatible with his commitment (...) to liberty. (shrink)
D.G. Brown’s revisionist interpretation, despite its interest, misrepresents Mill’s moral theory as outlined in Utilitarianism . Mill’s utilitarianism is extraordinary because it explicitly aims to maximize general happiness both in point of quality and quantity. It encompasses spheres of life beyond morality, and its structure cannot be understood without clarification of his much-maligned doctrine that some kinds of pleasant feelings are qualitatively superior to others irrespective of quantity. This doctrine of higherpleasures establishes an order of precedence among (...) conflicting kinds of enjoyments, including moral as well as non-moral kinds. In particular, as he indicates in Utilitarianism , Chapter V, the higher kind of pleasure associated with the moral sentiment of justice, namely, a feeling of ‘security’ for vital personal concerns that everyone has and that ought to be recognized as equal rights, is qualitatively superior to any competing kinds of pleasures regardless of quantity. Justice (more generally, morality) is conceived as a social system of rules and dispositions which has as its ultimate end the maximization of this pleasant feeling of security for everyone. The upshot is that an optimal social code that distributes and sanctions particular equal rights and correlative duties has absolute priority over competing considerations within his utilitarianism. The code seeks to prevent conduct that, in the judgment of suitably competent majorities, causes grievous kinds of harm to other people by injuring their vital personal concerns. To prevent the acts and omissions which are judged to cause such undue harm, the code assigns equal duties not to perform them, and authorizes due punishment of anyone who fails to fulfill his duties. Punishment is always expedient to condemn and deter wrongdoing. But it is properly a separate issue which particular ways of inflicting punishment are expedient in any particular situation. Given that feelings of guilt are a way of inflicting punishment, coercion is not necessary for punishment. Thus, Mill’s claim that wrongdoing always deserves to be punished in some way does not imply that coercive legal sanctions and public stigma are always expedient for the enforcement of moral duties. (shrink)
In this paper, we use qualitative and quantitative research, along with reference to current philosophical literature to consider the question of whether the sport of free-soloing is inherently immoral given the unavoidable extreme risk taken by the climber and imposed upon others not directly participating in the sport. The first thing we look at is what kind of values climbers see in free-soloing and show, through interviews we conducted with soloers and through a review of the literature on the philosophy (...) of extreme sports, that climbers derive what might be called ‘higherpleasures’ from free-soloing. We then argue that despite its inherent riskiness, free-soloers ought to be allowed the autonomy and freedom to choose to engage in the sport, provided they are doing so in a conscientious manner. To show that they are, we again appeal to interviews we conducted to demonstrate that soloers decide to attempt a free-solo in a thoughtful manner, as prescribed by philosophers who work on the morality... (shrink)
The article shows that Mill's ethical theory is intimately connected with his theory of human improvement. This can be discerned by analyzing how his utilitarianism differs from Bentham's version. Mill regards the received doctrine as inadequate and he defends it against its critics by making major changes. The article argues that Mill's introduction of qualitative distinctions among pleasures and his emphasis on the higherpleasures were designed to accommodate utilitarianism to his belief in self-cultivation and progress. It (...) concludes that Mill's revisions make utilitarianism more plausible, although problems remain. (shrink)
Are the circumstances in which moral testimony serves as evidence that our judgement-forming processes are unreliable the same circumstances in which mundane testimony serves as evidence that our mundane judgement-forming processes are unreliable? In answering this question, we distinguish two possible roles for testimony: (i) providing a legitimate basis for a judgement, (ii) providing (‘higher-order’) evidence that a judgement-forming process is unreliable. We explore the possibilities for a view according to which moral testimony does not, in contrast to mundane (...) testimony play role (i), but can play role (ii). We argue that standard motivations for rejecting this hybrid position are unpersuasive but suggest that a more compelling reason might be found in considering the social nature of morality. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important, controversial, and suggestive works of moral philosophy ever written. Mill defends the view that all human action should produce the greatest happiness overall, and that happiness itself is to be understood as consisting in "higher" and "lower" pleasures. This volume uses the 1871 edition of the text, the last to be published in Mill's lifetime. The text is preceded by a comprehensive introduction assessing Mill's philosophy and the alternatives (...) to utilitarianism, and discussing some of the specific issues Mill raises in Utilitarianism. (shrink)
On an optimistic version of realist moral epistemology, a significant range of ordinary moral beliefs, construed in realist terms, constitute knowledge—or at least some weaker positive epistemic status, such as epistemic justification. The “debunking challenge” to this view grants prima facie justification but claims that it is “debunked” (i.e., defeated), yielding the final verdict that moral beliefs are ultima facie unjustified. Notable candidate “debunkers” (i.e., defeaters) include the so-called “evolutionary debunking arguments,” the “Benacerraf-Field Challenge,” and persistent moral disagreement among epistemic (...) peers. Such defeaters are best treated as higher-order evidence—viz., evidence contesting the merits of the first-order evidence on which moral beliefs are based. This chapter first develops a theory of higher-order defeat in general, which it then applies to debunking in particular. The result: the challenge fails entirely on epistemic grounds—regardless of whether or not its empirical and metaphysical presuppositions are correct. An advantage of this purely epistemic defense over alternative strategies is that the former extends even to laypersons who themselves lack the expertise necessary to formulate an adequate response. However, this leaves open the prospects for non-epistemological interpretations of debunking (e.g., moral or ontological). The chapter therefore concludes with brief suggestions in that direction. (shrink)
You have higher-order uncertainty iff you are uncertain of what opinions you should have. I defend three claims about it. First, the higher-order evidence debate can be helpfully reframed in terms of higher-order uncertainty. The central question becomes how your first- and higher-order opinions should relate—a precise question that can be embedded within a general, tractable framework. Second, this question is nontrivial. Rational higher-order uncertainty is pervasive, and lies at the foundations of the epistemology of (...) disagreement. Third, the answer is not obvious. The Enkratic Intuition---that your first-order opinions must “line up” with your higher-order opinions---is incorrect; epistemic akrasia can be rational. If all this is right, then it leaves us without answers---but with a clear picture of the question, and a fruitful strategy for pursuing it. (shrink)
It seems obvious that when higher-order evidence makes it rational for one to doubt that one’s own belief on some matter is rational, this can undermine the rationality of that belief. This is known as higher-order defeat. However, despite its intuitive plausibility, it has proved puzzling how higher-order defeat works, exactly. To highlight two prominent sources of puzzlement, higher-order defeat seems to defy being understood in terms of conditionalization; and higher-order defeat can sometimes place agents (...) in what seem like epistemic dilemmas. This chapter draws attention to an overlooked aspect of higher-order defeat, namely that it can undermine the resilience of one’s beliefs. The notion of resilience was originally devised to understand how one should reflect the ‘weight’ of one’s evidence. But it can also be applied to understand how one should reflect one’s higher-order evidence. The idea is particularly useful for understanding cases where one’s higher-order evidence indicates that one has failed in correctly assessing the evidence, without indicating whether one has over- or underestimated the degree of evidential support for a proposition. But it is exactly in such cases that the puzzles of higher-order defeat seem most compelling. (shrink)
In everyday life and in science we acquire evidence of evidence and based on this new evidence we often change our epistemic states. An assumption underlying such practice is that the following EEE Slogan is correct: 'evidence of evidence is evidence' (Feldman 2007, p. 208). We suggest that evidence of evidence is best understood as higher-order evidence about the epistemic state of agents. In order to model evidence of evidence we introduce a new powerful framework for modelling epistemic states, (...) Dyadic Bayesianism. Based on this framework, we then discuss characterizations of evidence of evidence and argue for one of them. Finally, we show that whether the EEE Slogan holds, depends on the specific kind of evidence of evidence. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis, roughly, that one’s beliefs should fit one’s evidence. The enkratic principle is the thesis, roughly, that one’s beliefs should "line up" with one’s beliefs about which beliefs one ought to have. While both theses have seemed attractive to many, they jointly entail the controversial thesis that self-misleading evidence is impossible. That is to say, if evidentialism and the enkratic principle are both true, one’s evidence cannot support certain false beliefs about which beliefs one’s evidence supports. Recently, (...) a number of epistemologists have challenged the thesis that self-misleading evidence is impossible on the grounds that misleading higher-order evidence does not have the kind of strong and systematic defeating force that would be needed to rule out the possibility of such self-misleading evidence. Here I respond to this challenge by proposing an account of higher-order defeat that does, indeed, render self-misleading evidence impossible. Central to the proposal is the idea that higher-order evidence acquires its normative force by influencing which conditional beliefs it is rational to have. What emerges, I argue, is an independently plausible view of higher-order evidence, which has the additional benefit of allowing us to reconcile evidentialism with the enkratic principle. (shrink)
Conscious mental states are states we are in some way aware of. I compare higher-order theories of consciousness, which explain consciousness by appeal to such higher-order awareness (HOA), and first-order theories, which do not, and I argue that higher-order theories have substantial explanatory advantages. The higher-order nature of our awareness of our conscious states suggests an analogy with the metacognition that figures in the regulation of psychological processes and behaviour. I argue that, although both consciousness and (...) metacognition involve higher-order psychological states, they have little more in common. One thing they do share is the possibility of misrepresentation; just as metacognitive processing can misrepresent one’s cognitive states and abilities, so the HOA in virtue of which one’s mental states are conscious can, and sometimes does, misdescribe those states. A striking difference between the two, however, has to do with utility for psychological processing. Metacognition has considerable benefit for psychological processing; in contrast, it is unlikely that there is much, if any, utility to mental states’ being conscious over and above the utility those states have when they are not conscious. (shrink)
First-order evidence is evidence which bears on whether a proposition is true. Higher-order evidence is evidence which bears on whether a person is able to assess her evidence for or against a proposition. A widespread view is that higher-order evidence makes a difference to whether it is rational for a person to believe a proposition. In this paper, I consider in what way higher-order evidence might do this. More specifically, I consider whether and how higher-order evidence (...) plays a role in determining what it is rational to believe distinct from that which first-order evidence plays. To do this, I turn to the theory of reasons, and try to situate higher-order evidence within it. The only place I find for it there, distinct from that which first-order evidence already occupies, is as a practical reason, that is, as a reason for desire or action. One might take this to show either that the theory of reasons is inadequate as it stands or that higher-order evidence makes no distinctive difference to what it is rational to believe. I tentatively endorse the second option. (shrink)
Abstract. This paper argues that the “Argument from Moral Peer Disagreement” fails to make a case for widespread moral skepticism. The main reason for this is that the argument rests on a too strong assumption about the normative significance of peer disagreement (and higher-order evidence more generally). In order to demonstrate this, I distinguish two competing ways in which one might explain higher-order defeat. According to what I call the “Objective Defeat Explanation” it is the mere possession of (...)higher-order evidence that explains defeat. I argue that this type of explanation is problematic and that it at best collapses into another explanation I call the “Subjective Defeat Explanation”. According to this explanation, it is coming to believe that one’s belief fails to be rational that explains defeat. Then I go on to argue that the Subjective Defeat Explanation is able to provide a straightforward explanation of higher-order defeat but that it entails that peer disagreement (and higher-order evidence more generally) only contingently gives rise to defeat, and importantly, that the condition it is contingent upon is very often not satisfied when it comes to moral peer disagreement specifically. As a result, it appears that moral knowledge is seldom threatened by moral peer disagreement. (shrink)
Critics have often misunderstood the higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global The higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness has often been misunderstood by critics. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global workspace theory (GWT) and early sensory models (e.g. first-order local recurrency theories). For example, HOT has been criticized for over-intellectualizing consciousness. (...) We show that while higher-order states are cognitively assembled, the requirements are actually considerably less than often presumed. In this sense HOT may be viewed as an intermediate position between GWT and early sensory views. Also, we clarify that most proponents of HOT do not stipulate consciousness as equivalent to metacognition or confidence. Further, compared to other existing theories, HOT can arguably account better for complex everyday experiences, such as of emotions and episodic memories. This makes HOT particularly useful as a framework for conceptualizing pathological mental states. (shrink)
Consciousness is arguably the most important area within contemporary philosophy of mind and perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world. Despite an explosion of research from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, attempts to explain consciousness in neurophysiological, or even cognitive, terms are often met with great resistance. In The Consciousness Paradox, Rocco Gennaro aims to solve an underlying paradox, namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views, including higher-order thought (HOT) theory, conceptualism, infant and (...) animal consciousness, concept acquisition, and what he calls the HOT-brain thesis. He defends and further develops a metapsychological reductive representational theory of consciousness and applies it to several importantly related problems. Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT theory of consciousness that he calls the "wide intrinsicality view" and shows why it is superior to various alternatives, such as self-representationalism and first-order representationalism. HOT theory says that what makes a mental state conscious is that a suitable higher-order thought is directed at that mental state. -/- Thus Gennaro argues for an overall philosophical theory of consciousness while applying it to other significant issues not usually addressed in the philosophical literature on consciousness. Most cognitive science and empirical works on such topics as concepts and animal consciousness do not address central philosophical theories of consciousness. Gennaro’s integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers. (shrink)
Experiences like pains, pleasures, and emotions have affective phenomenal character: they feel pleasant or unpleasant. Imperativism proposes to explain affective phenomenal character by appeal to imperative content, a kind of intentional content that directs rather than describes. We argue that imperativism is on the right track, but has been developed in the wrong way. There are two varieties of imperativism on the market: first-order and higher-order. We show that neither is successful, and offer in their place a new (...) theory: reflexive imperativism. Our proposal is that an experience P feels pleasant in virtue of being constituted by a Command with reflexive imperative content, while an experience U feels unpleasant in virtue of being constituted by a Command with reflexive imperative content : More of P!Less of U! If you need a slogan: experiences have affective phenomenal character in virtue of commanding us Get more of me! Get less of me! (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to develop and defend a novel answer to a question that has recently generated a considerable amount of controversy. The question concerns the normative significance of peer disagreement. Suppose that you and I have been exposed to the same evidence and arguments that bear on some proposition: there is no relevant consideration which is available to you but not to me, or vice versa. For the sake of concreteness, we might picture.
Emotional states of consciousness, or what are typically called emotional feelings, are traditionally viewed as being innately programed in subcortical areas of the brain, and are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain. On this view, what differs in emotional and non-emotional states is the kind of inputs that are processed by a (...) general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences. Although subcortical circuits are not directly responsible for conscious feelings, they provide non-conscious inputs that coalesce with other kinds of neural signals in the cognitive assembly of conscious emotional experiences. In building the case for this proposal, we defend a modified version of what is known as the higher-order theory of consciousness. (shrink)
Sometimes we get evidence of our own epistemic malfunction. This can come from finding out we’re fatigued, or have been drugged, or that other competent and well-informed thinkers disagree with our beliefs. This sort of evidence seems to seems to behave differently from ordinary evidence about the world. In particular, getting such evidence can put agents in a position where the most rational response involves violating some epistemic ideal.
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to abandon evidentialism and (...) that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher - order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first- order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher - order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first- order beliefs. (shrink)
Epicurus argued that the good life is the pleasurable life. He also argued that ‘death is nothing to us’. These claims appear in tension. For if pleasure is good, then it seems that death is bad when it deprives us of deeply enjoyable time alive. Here, I offer an Epicurean view of pleasure and the complete life which dissolves this tension. This view is, I contend, more appealing than critics of Epicureanism have allowed, in part because it assigns higher (...) value to pleasures that we produce by exercising our rational capacities and by establishing control over our lives. (shrink)
This paper is a study of higher-order contingentism – the view, roughly, that it is contingent what properties and propositions there are. We explore the motivations for this view and various ways in which it might be developed, synthesizing and expanding on work by Kit Fine, Robert Stalnaker, and Timothy Williamson. Special attention is paid to the question of whether the view makes sense by its own lights, or whether articulating the view requires drawing distinctions among possibilities that, according (...) to the view itself, do not exist to be drawn. The paper begins with a non-technical exposition of the main ideas and technical results, which can be read on its own. This exposition is followed by a formal investigation of higher-order contingentism, in which the tools of variable-domain intensional model theory are used to articulate various versions of the view, understood as theories formulated in a higher-order modal language. Our overall assessment is mixed: higher-order contingentism can be fleshed out into an elegant systematic theory, but perhaps only at the cost of abandoning some of its original motivations. (shrink)