Rationalization in the sense of biased self-justification is very familiar. It's not cheating because everyone else is doing it too. I didn't report the abuse because it wasn't my place. I understated my income this year because I paid too much in tax last year. I'm only a social smoker, so I won't get cancer. The mental mechanisms subserving rationalization have been studied closely by psychologists. However, when viewed against the backdrop of philosophical accounts of the regulative role of truth (...) in doxastic deliberation , rationalization can look very puzzling. Almost all contemporary philosophers endorse a version of the thesis of deliberative exclusivity—a thinker cannot in full consciousness decide whether to believe that p in a way that issues directly in forming a belief by adducing anything other than considerations that he or she regards as relevant to the truth of p. But, as I argue, rationalization involves the weighing of considerations that the thinker kn.. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish the category of “rationalization” from various forms of epistemic irrationality. I maintain that only if we model rationalizers as pretenders can we make sense of the rationalizer's distinctive relationship to the evidence in her possession. I contrast the cognitive attitude of the rationalizer with that of believers whose relationship to the evidence I describe as “waffling” or “intransigent”. In the final section of the paper, I compare the rationalizer to the Frankfurtian bullshitter.
Nelson Goodman's distinction between autographic and allographic arts is appealing, we suggest, because it promises to resolve several prima facie puzzles. We consider and rebut a recent argument that alleges that digital images explode the autographic/allographic distinction. Regardless, there is another familiar problem with the distinction, especially as Goodman formulates it: it seems to entirely ignore an important sense in which all artworks are historical. We note in reply that some artworks can be considered both as historical products and as (...) formal structures. Talk about such works is ambiguous between the two conceptions. This allows us to recover Goodman's distinction: art forms that are ambiguous in this way are allographic. With that formulation settled, we argue that digital images are allographic. We conclude by considering the objection that digital photographs, unlike other digital images, would count as autographic by our criterion; we reply that this points to the vexed nature of photography rather than any problem with the distinction. (shrink)
Situationists such as John Doris, Gilbert Harman, and Maria Merritt suppose that appeal to reliable behavioral dispositions can be dispensed with without radical revision to morality as we know it. This paper challenges this supposition, arguing that abandoning hope in reliable dispositions rules out genuine trust and forces us to suspend core reactive attitudes of gratitude and resentment, esteem and indignation. By examining situationism through the lens of trust we learn something about situationism (in particular, the radically revisionary moral implications (...) of its adoption) as well as something about trust (in particular, that the conditions necessary for genuine trust include a belief in a capacity for robust dispositions). (shrink)
In making the case that “rationalization is rational,” Cushman downplays its signature liability: Rationalization exposes a person to the hazard of delusion and self-sabotage. In paradigm cases, rationalization undermines instrumental rationality by introducing inaccuracies into the representational map required for planning and effective agency.
I argue for the existence of a category of practical reasons which I call "Deliberation-Volatile Reasons" or "DVRs". DVRs have the distinguishing feature that their status as reasons for action is diminished when they are weighed in deliberation by the agent. I argue that DVRs are evidence of "deliberative blind spots". I submit that an agent manifests a peculiar kind of practical irrationality in so far as she endeavours to find a deliberative path to what she has reason to do, (...) when the discovery of such a path renders the destination inaccessible. (shrink)
The primary concern of our 2014 paper was not notation but the autographic/allographic distinction, not representations as such but works of art. As we see it, Zeimbekis's considerations do not ultimately undermine the position we advanced in 2014— but they do challenge an element of Goodman's own theory of notation that derives from his requirement of recoverability. That requirement can be abandoned without losing the explanatory power of the autographic/allographic distinction as we have refined it.
On what basis, and to what extent, are refugees obligated to obey the laws of their host countries? Consideration of the specific case of asylum-seekers generates, I think, two competing intuitions: the refugee has a prima facie obligation to obey the laws of her host country and none of the popularly canvassed substrates of political obligation—consent, tacit consent, fairness, or social role—is at all apt to explain the presence of this obligation. I contend that the unfashionable gratitude account of political (...) obligation does the best job of accounting for the intuitions. As has been noticed by other commentators, obligations of gratitude are difficult to specify and subject to numerous cancelling conditions. I analyze these conditions in detail and conclude that if one accepts that gratitude is the basis of the political obligation of the refugee, then one must face up to just how frangible the obligation is. In particular, the obligation is conditional on the fair and generous treatment of refugees that is consistent with their dignity as human beings. (shrink)
Situationists in moral philosophy infer from empirical studies in social psychology that human beings lack cross-situational behavioral consistency: that is, for the most part, we human beings are not able to act in the same trait-relevant way across a range of distinct types of situations, because those situational differences trigger differences in behavior. In this paper we defend the following thesis: one who accepts this conclusion (that is, one who judges that human beings in general are not possessed of behavioral (...) consistency) cannot make a promise in good faith. This has important consequences for the ethical institution of promising and its associated reactive attitudes. (shrink)