We argue that all gradable expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are both F to some degree, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns of (...) inference that seem manifestly valid, that the purported failures of Comparability would have absurd consequences, and that the influential arguments against Comparability are less compelling than they may have initially seemed. (shrink)
We defend three controversial claims about preference, credence, and choice. First, all agents (not just rational ones) have complete preferences. Second, all agents (again, not just rational ones) have real-valued credences in every proposition in which they are confident to any degree. Third, there is almost always some unique thing we ought to do, want, or believe.
Introductory students regularly endorse naïve skepticism—unsupported or uncritical doubt about the existence and universality of truth—for a variety of reasons. Though some of the reasons for students’ skepticism can be traced back to the student—for example, a desire to avoid engaging with controversial material or a desire to avoid offense—naïve skepticism is also the result of how introductory courses are taught, deemphasizing truth to promote students’ abilities to develop basic disciplinary skills. While this strategy has a number of pedagogical benefits, (...) it prevents students in early stages of intellectual development from understanding truth as a threshold concept. Using philosophy as a case study, I argue that we can make progress against naïve skepticism by clearly discussing how metadisciplinary aims differ at the disciplinary and course levels in a way that is meaningful, reinforced, and accessible. (shrink)
A survey of the recent literature suggests that physicians should engage religious patients on religious grounds when the patient cites religious considerations for a medical decision. We offer two arguments that physicians ought to avoid engaging patients in this manner. The first is the Public Reason Argument. We explain why physicians are relevantly akin to public officials. This suggests that it is not the physician’s proper role to engage in religious deliberation. This is because the public character of a physician’s (...) role binds him/her to public reason, which precludes the use of religious considerations. The second argument is the Fiduciary Argument. We show that the patient-physician relationship is a fiduciary relationship, which suggests that the patient has the clinical expectation that physicians limit themselves to medical considerations. Since engaging in religious deliberations lies outside this set of considerations, such engagement undermines trust and therefore damages the patient-physician relationship. (shrink)
Innovative practice occurs when a clinician provides something new, untested, or nonstandard to a patient in the course of clinical care, rather than as part of a research study. Commentators have noted that patients engaged in innovative practice are at significant risk of suffering harm, exploitation, or autonomy violations. By creating a pathway for harmful or nonbeneficial interventions to spread within medical practice without being subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation, innovative practice poses similar risks to the wider community of patients (...) and society as a whole. Given these concerns, how should we control and oversee innovative practice, and in particular, how should we coordinate innovative practice and clinical research? In this article, I argue that an ethical approach to overseeing innovative practice must encourage the early transition to rigorous clinical research without delaying or deferring the development of beneficial innovations or violating the autonomy rights of clinicians and their patients. (shrink)
I argue that sports clubs should be punished for bad behaviour by their fans in a way that affects the club’s sporting success: for example, we are justified in imposing points deductions and competition disqualifications on the basis of racist chanting. This is despite a worry that punishing clubs in such a way is unfair because it targets the sports team rather than the fans who misbehaved. I argue that this belies a misunderstanding of the nature of sports clubs and (...) of the nature of sporting success. Further, I argue that fans should want to be held responsible in such a way because it vindicates the significant role that they play in the life of their club. (shrink)
Organizations are making massive investments in artificial intelligence, and recent demonstrations and achievements highlight the immense potential for AI to improve organizational and human welfare. Yet realizing the potential of AI necessitates a better understanding of the various ethical issues involved with deciding to use AI, training and maintaining it, and allowing it to make decisions that have moral consequences. People want organizations using AI and the AI systems themselves to behave ethically, but ethical behavior means different things to different (...) people, and many ethical dilemmas require trade-offs such that no course of action is universally considered ethical. How should organizations using AI—and the AI itself—process ethical dilemmas where humans disagree on the morally right course of action? Though a variety of ethical AI frameworks have been suggested, these approaches do not adequately address how people make ethical evaluations of AI systems or how to incorporate the fundamental disagreements people have regarding what is and is not ethical behavior. Drawing on moral foundations theory, we theorize that a person will perceive an organization’s use of AI, its data procedures, and the resulting AI decisions as ethical to the extent that those decisions resonate with the person’s moral foundations. Since people hold diverse moral foundations, this highlights the crucial need to consider individual moral differences at multiple levels of AI. We discuss several unresolved issues and suggest potential approaches for thinking about conflicts in moral judgments concerning AI. (shrink)
Aulisio and Arora argue that the moral significance of value imposition explains the moral distinction between traditional conscientious objection and non-traditional conscientious objection. The former objects to directly performing actions, whereas the latter objects to indirectly assisting actions on the grounds that indirectly assisting makes the actor morally complicit. Examples of non-traditional conscientious objection include objections to the duty to refer. Typically, we expect physicians who object to a practice to refer, but the non-traditional conscientious objector physician refuses to refer. (...) Aulisio and Arora argue that physicians have a duty to refer because refusing to do so violates the patient’s values. While we agree with Aulisio and Arora’s conclusions, we argue value imposition cannot adequately explain the moral difference between traditional conscientious objection and non-traditional conscientious objection. Treating autonomy as the freedom to live in accordance with one’s values, as Aulisio and Arora do, is a departure from traditional liberal conceptions of autonomy and consequently fails to explain the moral difference between the two kinds of objection. We outline how a traditional liberal understanding of autonomy would help in this regard, and we make two additional arguments—one that maintains that non-traditional conscientious objection undermines society’s autonomy, and another that maintains that it undermines the physician-patient relationship—to establish why physicians have a duty to refer. (shrink)
Probability theory promises to deliver an exact and unified foundation for inquiry in epistemology and philosophy of science. But philosophy of religion is also fertile ground for the application of probabilistic thinking. This volume presents original contributions from twelve contemporary researchers, both established and emerging, to offer a representative sample of the work currently being carried out in this potentially rich field of inquiry. Grouped into five parts, the chapters span a broad range of traditional issues in religious epistemology. The (...) first three parts discuss the evidential impact of various considerations that have been brought to bear on the question of the existence of God. These include witness reports of the occurrence of miraculous events, the existence of complex biological adaptations, the apparent 'fine-tuning' for life of various physical constants and the existence of seemingly unnecessary evil. The fourth part addresses a number of issues raised by Pascal's famous pragmatic argument for theistic belief. A final part offers probabilistic perspectives on the rationality of faith and the epistemic significance of religious disagreement. (shrink)
It is well known that classical, aka ‘sharp’, Bayesian decision theory, which models belief states as single probability functions, faces a number of serious difficulties with respect to its handling of agnosticism. These difficulties have led to the increasing popularity of so-called ‘imprecise’ models of decision-making, which represent belief states as sets of probability functions. In a recent paper, however, Adam Elga has argued in favour of a putative normative principle of sequential choice that he claims to be borne out (...) by the sharp model but not by any promising incarnation of its imprecise counterpart. After first pointing out that Elga has fallen short of establishing that his principle is indeed uniquely borne out by the sharp model, I cast aspersions on its plausibility. I show that a slight weakening of the principle is satisfied by at least one, but interestingly not all, varieties of the imprecise model and point out that Elga has failed to motivate his stronger commitment. (shrink)
In this article, I examine stigmatizing and especially patronizing attitudes towards others’ depression that people who are well-intentioned produce. The strategy of the article is to consider the social experience of depression through two separate subfields of philosophy: epistemic injustice and phenomenology. The solution that I propose is a phenomenological account of empathy. The empathetic attitude that I argue for involves actively listening to the depressed individual and taking their depression testimony as direct evidence. The article has been written both (...) for those who seek to better support neurodiverse people in their lives and for depressives (and other neurodivergents) themselves in order to provide them with a better account for advocating for themselves against social stigma. (shrink)
‘Fake news’ has become an increasingly common refrain in public discourse, though the term itself has several uses, at least one of which constitutes Frankfurtian bullshit. After examining what sorts of fake news appeals do and do not count as bullshit, I discuss strategies for overcoming our openness to such bullshit. I do so by drawing a parallel between openness to bullshit and naïve skepticism—one’s willingness to reject the concept of truth on unsupported or ill-considered grounds—and suggest that this parallel (...) indicates three principles for how we ought to combat our openness to fake news and other bullshit. First, the root causes of bullshit openness are not monolithic; we should adopt anti-bullshit strategies in recognition of this fact. Second, our efforts to overcome bullshit openness should be collaborative efforts to create an environment that allows for sustained interrogation of our bullshit openness, rather than a confrontational provision of contrary evidence, despite the fact that such strategies are more time-intensive. Third, social media is unlikely to be a fertile ground on which we will make meaningful progress in the fight against bullshit because of the inherent nature of social media platforms as spaces for short, declarative, confrontational claims. (shrink)
The structure of police agencies, especially how the boundaries of their authority are drawn, is a crucial element of their legitimacy. Poorly drawn boundaries encourage unjustified police power and illegitimate police agencies. Claiming that realized political entities in developed democracies are illegitimate is fraught, in part because the difference between legitimate and illegitimate political power can be subtle in practice. To overcome this difficulty, I propose thinking in terms of “legitimacy-risk profiles.” I develop a way of determining a measure of (...) risk to legitimacy associated with various kinds of police power and agency structure. I then use it to explore the institutional boundaries recommended by the legitimacy-risk profiles of different kinds of policing. The result is a normative framework for thinking about political legitimacy at the realized—that is, not the fundamental and idealized—level. (shrink)
Perceptual systems respond to proximal stimuli by forming mental representations of distal stimuli. A central goal for the philosophy of perception is to characterize the representations delivered by perceptual systems. It may be that all perceptual representations are in some way proprietarily perceptual and differ from the representational format of thought (Dretske 1981; Carey 2009; Burge 2010; Block ms.). Or it may instead be that perception and cognition always trade in the same code (Prinz 2002; Pylyshyn 2003). This paper rejects (...) both approaches in favor of perceptual pluralism, the thesis that perception delivers a multiplicity of representational formats, some proprietary and some shared with cognition. The argument for perceptual pluralism marshals a wide array of empirical evidence in favor of iconic (i.e., image-like, analog) representations in perception as well as discursive (i.e., language-like, digital) perceptual object representations. (shrink)
Buddhism originated and developed in an Indian cultural context that featured many first-person practices for producing and exploring states of consciousness through the systematic training of attention. In contrast, the dominant methods of investigating the mind in Western cognitive science have emphasized third-person observation of the brain and behavior. In this chapter, we explore how these two different projects might prove mutually beneficial. We lay the groundwork for a cross-cultural cognitive science by using one traditional Buddhist model of the mind (...) – that of the five aggregates – as a lens for examining contemporary cognitive science conceptions of consciousness. (shrink)
After a number of decades of research into the dynamics of rational belief, the belief revision theory community remains split on the appropriate handling of sequences of changes in view, the issue of so-called iterated revision. It has long been suggested that the matter is at least partly settled by facts pertaining to the results of various single revisions of one’s initial state of belief. Recent work has pushed this thesis further, offering various strong principles that ultimately result in a (...) wholesale reduction of iterated to one-shot revision. The present paper offers grounds to hold that these principles should be significantly weakened and that the reductionist thesis should ultimately be rejected. Furthermore, the considerations provided suggest a close connection between the logic of iterated belief change and the logic of evidential relevance. (shrink)
I explore what BernardWilliams means by regarding one’s action ‘purely externally, as one might regard anyone else’s action’, and how it links to regret and agent-regret. I suggest some ways that we might understand the external view: as a failure to recognize what one has done, in terms of Williams’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic luck, and as akin to Thomas Nagel’s distinction between an internal and external view. I argue that none of these captures what Williams was getting at (...) because they do not allow one to take a view on one’s action. I offer two alternative accounts. One turns around what we identify with, the other concerns what we care about. Both accounts capture how I might regret, rather than agent-regret, my own action. I demonstrate that these accounts can explain the relationship between an insurance payout and the external view, and they can explain the agent-relativity of agent-regret. (shrink)
In a recent article, Douven and Williamson offer both (i) a rebuttal of various recent suggested sufficient conditions for rational acceptability and (ii) an alleged ‘generalization’ of this rebuttal, which, they claim, tells against a much broader class of potential suggestions. However, not only is the result mentioned in (ii) not a generalization of the findings referred to in (i), but in contrast to the latter, it fails to have the probative force advertised. Their paper does however, if unwittingly, bring (...) us a step closer to a precise characterization of an important class of rationally unacceptable propositions—the class of lottery propositions for equiprobable lotteries. This helps pave the way to the construction of a genuinely lottery-paradox-proof alternative to the suggestions criticized in (i). (shrink)
Legitimate political institutions sometimes produce clearly unjust laws. It is widely recognized, especially in the context of war, that agents of the state may not enforce political decisions that are very seriously unjust or are the decisions of illegitimate governments. But may agents of legitimate states enforce unjust, but not massively unjust, laws? In this paper, I respond to three defences of the view that it is permissible to enforce these unjust laws. Analogues of the Walzerian argument from patriotism, the (...) Vitorian epistemic argument, and the proceduralist argument found in Rawls, Estlund, and others do not show that law enforcement is usually permitted to enforce unjust laws. Finally, I develop a proceduralist argument for the thesis that law enforcement is permitted to disregard unjust laws. I conclude by considering objections concerning the problem of optimizing society for justice and the problem of law enforcement agents with deplorable moral beliefs. (shrink)
Recent controversial cases of killings by police have generated competing Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements. Blue Lives Matter proponents claim that the focus on and protests in light of police killings of unarmed black persons is unwarranted. Part of this dispute turns on the moral evaluation of the killing of citizens by law enforcement. To address the dispute, I develop an account of the special moral obligations of law enforcement and show how it can be applied. I (...) argue that members of law enforcement have special moral obligations against killing citizens. The account generates moral guidance for law enforcement in a number of other ways. It implies, finally, that the Blue Lives Matter proponents fundamentally misunderstand the ethics of law enforcement. (shrink)
This article provides a discussion of the principle of transmission of evidential support across entailment from the perspective of belief revision theory in the AGM tradition. After outlining and briefly defending a small number of basic principles of belief change, which include a number of belief contraction analogues of the Darwiche-Pearl postulates for iterated revision, a proposal is then made concerning the connection between evidential beliefs and belief change policies in rational agents. This proposal is found to be suffcient to (...) establish the truth of a much-discussed intuition regarding transmission failure. (shrink)
In a recent article for this journal, Bryan Pilkington makes a number of critical observations about one of our arguments for non-traditional medical conscientious objectors’ duty to refer. Non-traditional conscientious objectors are those professionals who object to indirectly performing actions—like, say, referring to a physician who will perform an abortion. In our response here, we discuss his central objection and clarify our position on the role of value conflicts in non-traditional conscientious objection.
Crispin Wright’s discussion of the notion of ‘transmission-failure’ promises to have important philosophical ramifications, both in epistemology and beyond. This paper offers a precise, formal characterisation of the concept within a Bayesian framework. The interpretation given avoids the serious shortcomings of a recent alternative proposal due to Samir Okasha.
As the ongoing literature on the paradoxes of the Lottery and the Preface reminds us, the nature of the relation between probability and rational acceptability remains far from settled. This article provides a novel perspective on the matter by exploiting a recently noted structural parallel with the problem of judgment aggregation. After offering a number of general desiderata on the relation between finite probability models and sets of accepted sentences in a Boolean sentential language, it is noted that a number (...) of these constraints will be satisfied if and only if acceptable sentences are true under all valuations in a distinguished non-empty set W. Drawing inspiration from distance-based aggregation procedures, various scoring rule based membership conditions for W are discussed and a possible point of contact with ranking theory is considered. The paper closes with various suggestions for further research. (shrink)
I outline four competing probabilistic accounts of contrastive evidential support and consider various considerations that might help arbitrate between these. The upshot of the discussion is that the so-called 'Law of Likelihood' is to be preferred to any of the alternatives considered.
It appears to have gone unnoticed in the literature that Pollock's widely endorsed analysis of evidential defeat entails a remarkably strong symmetry principle, according to which, for any three propositions D, E and H, if both E and D provide a reason to believe H, then D is a defeater for E's support for H if and only if, in turn, E is a defeater for D's support for H. After illustrating the counterintuitiveness of this constraint, a simple, more suitable, (...) alternative to the Pollockian account is offered. (shrink)
When sporting agents fail through wrongful or faulty behaviour, they should feel guilty; when they fail because of a deficiency in their abilities, they should feel shame. But sometimes we fail without being deficient and without being at fault. I illustrate this with two examples of players, Moacir Barbosa and Roberto Baggio, who failed in World Cup finals and cost their teams the greatest prize in sport. Although both players failed, I suggest that neither was at fault and neither was (...) deficient. I argue that we can fail through no fault of our own because our abilities are always fallible. This fallibility means that to succeed – to achieve sporting glory – we must run the risk of failure. The appropriate emotion to feel over such failures is agent-regret. Sporting agents and observers should not take up what I call the ‘critical position’: the idea that someone who fails must be deficient or must have been at fault. This allows for a softer, but also more accurate, attitude towards our own failures and the failures of others. I end by suggesting that the fallibility of our abilities is made clear through playing or watching sport, and this can illuminate life more broadly. (shrink)
[What It’s Like, or What It’s About? The Place of Consciousness in the Material World] Summary: The book is both a survey of the contemporary debate and a defense of a distinctive position. Most philosophers nowadays assume that the focus of the philosophy of consciousness, its shared explanandum, is a certain property of experience variously called “phenomenal character,” “qualitative character,” “qualia” or “phenomenology,” understood in terms of what it is like to undergo the experience in question. Consciousness as defined in (...) terms of its phenomenal aspect is often called “phenomenal consciousness.” The major issue that occupies most thinkers is whether this phenomenal character happens to be a physical property, or whether it is rather sui generis. Those who believe the former are materialists; those who conclude the latter are dualists. As the currently dominant metaphysic is materialism – also sometimes called physicalism – the challenge appears to be to slot phenomenal properties among the physical properties that ultimately make up the world. David Chalmers argued powerfully that we can go very far in situating many mental properties in the physical world – namely, the properties that can be understood in functional terms – but that phenomenal properties resist such a treatment. Chalmers calls this “the hard problem” of consciousness. But there are also some quite powerful positive arguments for dualism. The two most influential ones are the modal argument, also offered by Chalmers, and the knowledge argument invented by Frank Jackson. Chalmers invites us to conceive of creatures that are exactly like human beings – physically, functionally, behaviorally – only bereft of phenomenal consciousness. If such creatures are conceivable, says Chalmers, they are metaphysically possible. And if they are metaphysically possible, materialism is false. Jackson, for his part, suggests we imagine Mary who has spent her entire life inside a black-and-white room and has seen the world through a black-and-white TV screen. But she also happens to know everything there is to know about the physics of color. And yet, Jackson suggests that once Mary is finally released from her room and sees a lawn outside, she learns something new: that this is what it is like to experience green color. The current work on consciousness is by and large characterized by attempts to answer these two dualistic arguments. I try to make sense of the positions within the domain of philosophy of consciousness by means of two major distinctions that mutually intersect. First, there is a distinction between dualism and materialism. An apparent third alternative currently on offer, the so-called Russellian monism, is unstable, collapsing into either dualism (panpsychism) or materialism (Russellian physicalism). Materialism comes in two main flavors: either the a posteriori physicalism, which detects an epistemic gap between phenomenal and physical truths, hence denying that the former could be derived from the latter; or the a priori physicalism, which does not acknowledge any such obstacle. The second major distinction is between phenomenism and representationalism. It’s true that Ned Block, who introduced this contrast, meant to distinguish between two kinds of materialism. But I believe that the distinction actually intersects the one between materialism and dualism. We thus arrive at a table with six slots, representing six main positions in the philosophy of consciousness: (1) dualist phenomenism (Chalmers, the early Jackson, and Tyler Burge); (2) dualist representationalism (René Descartes); (3) aposteriori materialist phenomenism (Block); (4) a posteriori materialist representationalism (Michael Tye, Fred Dretske, David Rosenthal); (5) a priori materialist phenomenism (David Lewis); and (6) a priori materialist representationalism (Daniel Dennett, Derk Pereboom). However, this scheme is in fact somewhat misleading. It is true that Dennett is usually classified as an apriori materialist (or, more precisely an apriori materialist representationalist), but I believe that needs to be corrected. In order to understand why, I first analyze varieties of materialist representationalism in detail, in particular various construals of phenomenal character in terms of representation, or intentionality, which includes a discussion of the identity of its content (the issue of externalism). By contrast, Dennett rejects the concept of phenomenal character. Consciousness has no intrinsic, publicly inaccessible properties. On that ground, Dennett builds an empirical, fully functionalist theory of consciousness, which he also tries to integrate within a general Darwinian framework. From that point of view, one can contrast Dennettian and representationalist views on the issue of animal consciousness. In addition to his rejection of phenomenal character, Dennett also abstains from the regular metaphysical departure point of regular materialism. He does not so much ask how an enigmatic property of consciousness fits an antecedently characterized world, but rather how far we can investigate all aspects of the world, including consciousness, using the scientific method. He is thus a methodological naturalist, rather than a metaphysical materialist. While this approach removes obstacles to the science of consciousness, it does not solve what might be called “the hardest problem” – of intentionality, not phenomenal consciousness. The hardest problem consists in the fact that our intentional discourse involves conflicting commitments that prevent a coherent metaphysic of representational states. However, it does not follow that we should give up on this discourse as a theoretical means of reduction as well as a practical tool of explanation. But it might be that intentional discourse is a somewhat pseudo one. (shrink)
Several philosophers have recently argued that policies aimed at reducing human fertility are a practical and morally justifiable way to mitigate the risk of dangerous climate change. There is a powerful objection to such “population engineering” proposals: even if drastic fertility reductions are needed to prevent dangerous climate change, implementing those reductions would wreak havoc on the global economy, which would seriously undermine international antipoverty efforts. In this article, we articulate this economic objection to population engineering and show how it (...) fails. We argue, first, that the economic objection paints an inaccurate picture of the complicated relationship between demographic change and economic growth, and second, that any untoward economic effects of fertility reduction can be mitigated with additional policies. Specifically, we argue that supplementing fertility reduction with policies that facilitate the emigration of younger people from developing nations to developed nations could allow for both global reductions in GHG emissions and continued economic stability. Further, we show that moral arguments against such unprecedented increases in immigration are unsuccessful. We conclude that population engineering is a practical and morally justifiable tool for addressing the twin evils of climate change and global poverty. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper provides a naturalistic account of inference. We posit that the core of inference is constituted by bare inferential transitions, transitions between discursive mental representations guided by rules built into the architecture of cognitive systems. In further developing the concept of BITs, we provide an account of what Boghossian  calls ‘taking’—that is, the appreciation of the rule that guides an inferential transition. We argue that BITs are sufficient for implicit taking, and then, to analyse explicit taking, we posit (...) rich inferential transitions, which are transitions that the subject is disposed to endorse. (shrink)
Dispositionalism about belief has had a recent resurgence. In this paper we critically evaluate a popular dispositionalist program pursued by Eric Schwitzgebel. Then we present an alternative: a psychofunctional, representational theory of belief. This theory of belief has two main pillars: that beliefs are relations to structured mental representations, and that the relations are determined by the generalizations under which beliefs are acquired, stored, and changed. We end by describing some of the generalizations regarding belief acquisition, storage, and change.
A restricted-use mobile device policy for introductory philosophy classrooms is presented and defended. The policy allows students to use devices only during open periods announced by the professor and is based on recent empirical findings on the effects of in-class mobile device use. These results suggest devices are generally detrimental to student learning, though they have targeted benefits for specific tasks. The policy is defended via a discussion of the ethical considerations surrounding device use, a discussion of the policy’s benefits, (...) and responses to potential objections. Avenues for future research are suggested at the conclusion of the discussion. (shrink)
Speciesist or biological accounts of moral status can be defended by showing that all members of Homo sapiens have a moral status conferring property. In this article, I argue that the most promising defense locates the moral status conferring property in the relational property of being biologically tied to other humans. This requires that biological ties ground moral obligations. I consider and reject the best defenses of that premise. Thus, we are left with compelling evidence that biological ties and membership (...) in a biological category like “species” ground neither moral obligations nor moral status. Because it is crucial to account for the moral significance of family bonds, I conclude by describing the sense in which biological ties matter morally. (shrink)
In this paper I examine John Rawls’s understanding of desert. Against Samuel Scheffler, I maintain that the reasons underlying Rawls’s rejection of the traditional view of distributive desert in A Theory of Justice also commit him to rejecting the traditional view of retributive desert. Unlike Rawls’s critics, however, I view this commitment in a positive light. I also argue that Rawls’s later work commits him to rejecting retributivism as a public justification for punishment.
Many contemporary ethical debates turn on claims about the nature and extent of our alleged procreative moral rights: moral rights to procreate or not to procreate as we choose. In this article, I argue that there are no procreative moral rights, in that generally we do not have a distinctive moral right to procreate or not to procreate as we choose. However, interference with our procreative choices usually violates our nonprocreative moral rights, such as our moral rights to bodily autonomy (...) or to privacy. My argument presents hypothetical cases in which a state interferes with a person's procreative choices in order to promote aggregate social welfare, but this interference does not violate any of the person's nonprocreative moral rights. These cases not only undermine frequently made claims that widely recognized nonprocreative moral rights entail procreative moral rights, they also challenge the intuitively plausible claim that interference with our procreative choices as such violates our moral rights. What at first appear to be substantive moral rights are in fact a kind of illusion created by the frequent overlap of other rights, but lacking in substance beyond that overlap. While this argument against the existence of procreative moral rights has substantive implications for ongoing debates in reproductive ethics, I ultimately suggest that it is consistent with a progressive approach to reproductive justice. (shrink)
Unconscious logical inference seems to rely on the syntactic structures of mental representations (Quilty-Dunn & Mandelbaum 2018). Other transitions, such as transitions using iconic representations and associative transitions, are harder to assimilate to syntax-based theories. Here we tackle these difficulties head on in the interest of a fuller taxonomy of mental transitions. Along the way we discuss how icons can be compositional without having constituent structure, and expand and defend the “symmetry condition” on Associationism (the idea that associative links and (...) transitions are perfectly symmetric). In the end, we show how a BIT (“bare inferential transition”) theory can cohabitate with these other non-inferential mental transitions. (shrink)
Most theories of concepts take concepts to be structured bodies of information used in categorization and inference. This paper argues for a version of atomism, on which concepts are unstructured symbols. However, traditional Fodorian atomism is falsified by polysemy and fails to provide an account of how concepts figure in cognition. This paper argues that concepts are generative pointers, that is, unstructured symbols that point to memory locations where cognitively useful bodies of information are stored and can be deployed to (...) resolve polysemy. The notion of generative pointers allows for unresolved ambiguity in thought and provides a basis for conceptual engineering. (shrink)
I argue for a novel understanding of the nature of agent-regret. On the standard picture, agent-regret involves regretting the result of one’s action and thus regretting one’s action. I argue that the standard picture is a flawed analysis of agent-regret. I offer several cases of agent-regret where the agent feels agent-regret but does not regret the result itself. I appeal to other cases where an agent’s attitude towards something depends upon whether or not they are involved in that thing. I (...) argue that the same applies to actions: sometimes an agent’s attitude towards a result differs from their attitude to their involvement in bringing about that result. Agent-regret is regret about my own action, but it need not involve regret about something in the world. I end by considering how this picture of agent-regret allows us to respond to a particular criticism of agent-regret. (shrink)
In a recent pair of publications, Richard Bradley has offered two novel no-go theorems involving the principle of Preservation for conditionals, which guarantees that one’s prior conditional beliefs will exhibit a certain degree of inertia in the face of a change in one’s non-conditional beliefs. We first note that Bradley’s original discussions of these results—in which he finds motivation for rejecting Preservation, first in a principle of Commutativity, then in a doxastic analogue of the rule of modus ponens —are problematic (...) in a significant number of respects. We then turn to a recent U-turn on his part, in which he winds up rescinding his commitment to modus ponens, on the grounds of a tension with the rule of Import-Export for conditionals. Here we offer an important positive contribution to the literature, settling the following crucial question that Bradley leaves unanswered: assuming that one gives up on full-blown modus ponens on the grounds of its incompatibility with Import-Export, what weakened version of the principle should one be settling for instead? Our discussion of the issue turns out to unearth an interesting connection between epistemic undermining and the apparent failures of modus ponens in McGee’s famous counterexamples. (shrink)
Scholars who engage with texts that were written by George Herbert Mead (e.g., 1925e.g., 1926e.g., 1929e.g., 1932e.g., 1938) in the latter half of the 1920s are faced with the task of comprehending Mead’s interpretation of relativity theory and also understanding why relativity theory was considered by Mead to have such profound implications for his own philosophy. As several scholars of Mead’s work have explained (e.g., Joas 1997; Martin 2007; Rosenthal and Bourgeois 1991), Mead was a realist. Mead opposed psychophysical dualism (...) (Cook 1979) and both the behaviorist and the idealist implications that could follow from such a dualism. He wanted to explain human conduct in terms of the self-determination of human .. (shrink)
The primary method for defending biocentric individualism—a prominent theory of the moral value of organisms—is to appeal to the fact that certain things are good for or bad for living creatures, even if they are not sentient. This defense is typically and frequently met with the objection that we can determine what is good for some living creature without thereby having any moral reason or obligation to promote or avoid undermining it. In this paper I show how a theory of (...) the morality of defensive violence undermines this objection. (shrink)
The field of iterated belief change has focused mainly on revision, with the other main operator of AGM belief change theory, i.e. contraction, receiving relatively little attention. In this paper we extend the Harper Identity from single-step change to define iterated contraction in terms of iterated revision. Specifically, just as the Harper Identity provides a recipe for defining the belief set resulting from contracting A in terms of (i) the initial belief set and (ii) the belief set resulting from revision (...) by ¬A, we look at ways to define the plausibility ordering over worlds resulting from contracting A in terms of (iii) the initial plausibility ordering, and (iv) the plausibility ordering resulting from revision by ¬A. After noting that the most straightforward such extension leads to a trivialisation of the space of permissible orderings, we provide a family of operators for combining plausibility orderings that avoid such a result. These operators are characterised in our domain of interest by a pair of intuitively compelling properties, which turn out to enable the derivation of a number of iterated contraction postulates from postulates for iterated revision. We finish by observing that a salient member of this family allows for the derivation of counterparts for contraction of some well known iterated revision operators, as well as for defining new iterated contraction operators. (shrink)
Jake Kosek. Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9341-3 Authors Caroline Felix Oliveira, Iowa State University, 403 East Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Sporting competitions have been beset by change due to COVID-19. Some commentators and sportspeople worried that this affected the integrity of these competitions. Focussing on European football, I suggest that one way of understanding integrity is in terms of fairness. I argue that many changes introduced a form of luck that is already common and widespread and that many changes were also justified. Thus, they did not affect the integrity of these competitions in this way. I then suggest that there (...) is another integrity issue lurking: that the changes affected the character of these competitions, rendering them unrecognizable. I briefly explore this issue. (shrink)