This is a reading intended for Introductory Ethics courses that helps student think through basic questions about Religion and Morality. Instructors can find my suggestions for how to use the paper, along with class exercises, in JasonSwartwood, (2019) “A Skill-Based Framework for Teaching Morality and Religion,” Teaching Ethics, 18 (1): 39-62. -/- Instructors can profitably assign students to read sections 1-4 of "Religion and Moral Reasons" and then discuss the application to religious reasons using the class exercises (...) I outline in "A Skill-Based Framework ..." If you have feedback or use the paper, I'd love to know! (shrink)
Practical wisdom is the intellectual virtue that enables a person to make reliably good decisions about how, all-things-considered, to live. As such, it is a lofty and important ideal to strive for. It is precisely this loftiness and importance that gives rise to important questions about wisdom: Can real people develop it? If so, how? What is the nature of wisdom as it manifests itself in real people? I argue that we can make headway answering these questions by modeling wisdom (...) on expert skill. Presenting the main argument for this expert skill model of wisdom is the focus of this paper. More specifically, I’ll argue that wisdom is primarily the same kind of epistemic achievement as expert decision-making skill in areas such as firefighting. Acknowledging this helps us see that, and how, real people can develop wisdom. It also helps to resolve philosophical debates about the nature of wisdom. For example, philosophers, including those who think virtue should be modeled on skills, disagree about the extent to which wise people make decisions using intuitions or principled deliberation and reflection. The expert skill model resolves this debate by showing that wisdom includes substantial intuitive and deliberative and reflective abilities. (shrink)
One important aim of moral philosophy courses is to help students build the skills necessary to make their own well-reasoned decisions about moral issues. This includes the skill of determining when a particular moral reason provides a good answer to a moral question or not. Helping students think critically about religious reasons like “because God says so” and “because scripture explicitly says so” can be challenging because such lessons can be misperceived as coercive or anti-religious. I describe a framework for (...) teaching about religion and moral reasons that I have found overcomes these challenges while also building generalizable skill at analyzing and evaluating moral reasons. (shrink)
ABSTRACTWisdom, long a topic of interest to moral philosophers, is increasingly the focus of social science research. Philosophers have historically been concerned to develop a rationally defensible account of the nature of wisdom and its role in the moral life, often inspired in various ways by virtue theoretical accounts of practical wisdom. Wisdom scientists seek to, among other things, define wisdom and its components so that we can measure them. Are the measures used by wisdom scientists actually measuring what philosophers (...) have in mind when they discuss practical wisdom? I argue that they are not. Contemporary measures of wisdom and its components may pick out some necessary prerequisites of practical wisdom, but they do not measure a philosophically plausible practical wisdom or its components. After explaining the argument and defending it against objections, I consider its implications. Should wisdom scientists ignore the philosophical conception of practical wisdom in favor of other conceptions, revise their methods to try to measure it, or continue the interdisciplinary study of practical wisdom without expecting to measure it? I make a preliminary argument for the third option. (shrink)
Practical wisdom (hereafter simply ‘wisdom’), which is the understanding required to make reliably good decisions about how we ought to live, is something we all have reason to care about. The importance of wisdom gives rise to questions about its nature: what kind of state is wisdom, how can we develop it, and what is a wise person like? These questions about the nature of wisdom give rise to further questions about proper methods for studying wisdom. Is the study of (...) wisdom the proper subject of philosophy or psychology? How, exactly, can we determine what wisdom is and how we can get it? In this chapter, we give an overview of some prominent philosophical answers to these questions. We begin by distinguishing practical wisdom from theoretical wisdom and wisdom as epistemic humility. Once we have a clearer sense of the target, we address questions of method and argue that producing a plausible and complete account of wisdom will require the tools of both philosophy and empirical psychology. We also discuss the implications this has for prominent wisdom research methods in empirical psychology. We then survey prominent philosophical accounts of the nature of wisdom and end with reflections on the prospects for further interdisciplinary research. (shrink)
This article defends the use of fanciful examples within the method of wide reflective equilibrium. First, it characterizes the general persuasive role of described cases within that method. Second, it suggests three criteria any example must meet in order to succeed in this persuasive role; fancifulness has little or nothing to do with whether an example is able to meet these criteria. Third, it discusses several general objections to fanciful examples and concludes that they are objections to the abuse of (...) described cases; they identify no special problem with fanciful examples. (shrink)
Extensive discussions of practical wisdom are relatively rare in the philosophical literature these days. This is strange given the theoretical and practical importance of wisdom and, indeed, the etymology of the word "philosophy." In this paper, we remedy this inattention by proposing a methodology for developing a theory of wisdom and using this methodology to outline a viable theory. The methodology we favor is a version of wide reflective equilibrium. We begin with psychological research on folk intuitions about wisdom, which (...) helps us to avoid problems caused by reliance on the possibly idiosyncratic intuitions of professional philosophers. The folk theory is then elaborated in light of theoretical desiderata and further empirical research on human cognitive capacities. The resulting view emphasizes policies that the wise person adopts in order to cope with the many obstacles to making good choices. (shrink)
Practical wisdom (hereafter simply “wisdom”) is the intellectual virtue that enables a person to make reliably good decisions about how, all-things-considered, to live and conduct herself. Because wisdom is such an important and high-level achievement, we should wonder: what is the nature of wisdom? What kinds of skills, habits and capacities does it involve? Can real people actually develop it? If so, how? I argue that we can answer these questions by modeling wisdom on expert decision-making skill in complex areas (...) like firefighting. I develop this expert skill model of wisdom using philosophical argument informed by relevant empirical research. I begin in Chapter 1 by examining the historical roots of analogies between wisdom and practical skills in order to motivate the expert skill model. In Chapter 2, I provide the core argument for the expert skill model. I then use the remaining chapters to pull out the implications of the expert skill model. In Chapter 3, I show that the expert skill model yields practical guidance about how to develop wisdom. In Chapter 4, I address the objection, due to Daniel Jacobson, that wisdom is not a skill that humans could actually develop, since skill development requires a kind of feedback in practice that is not available for all-things-considered decisions about how to live. Finally, in Chapter 5, I apply the expert skill model to the question, much discussed by virtue ethicists, of whether a wise person deliberates using a comprehensive and systematic conception of the good life. (shrink)
An examination of the contemporary Italian movement associated with M. P. Sciacca, and the serious application of dialectical and phenomenological methods to unveil the structure of "intentionality" or "spirit." An appraisal of Sciacca together with a sample critique of Dante follows a competent summary of the prevailing positions.--D. B. B.
In Beyond Blood Identities, Jason D. Hill presents a bold defense of a form of cosmopolitanism according to which only individual persons_not cultures, races, or ethic groups_are the bearers of rights and the possessors of an inviolable status worthy of respect.
In Beyond Blood Identities, Jason D. Hill presents a bold defense of a form of cosmopolitanism according to which only individual persons—not cultures, races, or ethic groups—are the bearers of rights and the possessors of an inviolable status worthy of respect.
"Ask two religious people one question, and you'll get three answers!" Why do religious people believe what they shouldn't--not what others think they shouldn't believe, but things that don't accord with their own avowed religious beliefs? This engaging book explores this puzzling feature of human behavior. D. Jason Slone terms this phenomenon "theological incorrectness." He demonstrates that it exists because the mind is built it such a way that it's natural for us to think divergent thoughts simultaneously. Human minds (...) are great at coming up with innovative ideas that help them make sense of the world, he says, but those ideas do not always jibe with official religious beliefs. From this fact we derive the important lesson that what we learn from our environment--religious ideas, for example--does not necessarily cause us to behave in ways consistent with that knowledge. Slone presents the latest discoveries from the cognitive science of religion and shows how they help us to understand exactly why it is that religious people do and think things that they shouldn't. He then applies these insights to three case studies. First he looks at why Theravada Buddhists profess that Buddha was just a man but actually worship him as a god. Then he explores why the early Puritan Calvinists, who believed in predestination, acted instead as if humans had free will by, for example, conducting witch-hunts and seeking converts. Finally, he explains why both Christians and Buddhists believe in luck even though the doctrines of Divine Providence and karma suggest there's no such thing. In seeking answers to profound questions about why people behave the way they do, this fascinating book sheds new light on the workings of the human mind and on the complex relationship between cognition and culture. (shrink)
Fred D. Miller, Jr.'s stated goal for his new translation for the Oxford World's Classics series is, 'to provide a clear and accessible translation of Aristotle's psychological works while . . . conveying something of his distinctive style'. Not only does Miller achieve these goals in spades, but he also provides something more. His translation of Aristotle's De Anima and Parva Naturalia (the 'short works concerning nature'), along with twenty-three selected fragments from Aristotle's lost works and his 'Hymn to Hermias', (...) is elegant, philosophically sensitive, and informed by some of the best recent scholarly work on Aristotle's psychology and biology. (shrink)
Review of: Guillelmus de Aragonia, De nobilitate animi, ed. and trans. William D. Paden and Mario Trovato. (Harvard Studies in Medieval Latin 2.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. Pp. xvi, 193. $40. ISBN: 978-0-674-06812-4.
This paper presents two notes relating to Jason’s prayer to Apollo before the launch of the Argo in Apollonius’ Argonautica. In both cases, I examine what may be termed the “subtextual” facets of the passage: textual data that are significant—productive of meaningful interpretation—and yet hardly apparent on a surface-level reading of the poem. The first note concerns the changing total number of crewmembers aboard the Argo, an evolving figure which Apollonius encourages the reader to track as the narrative progresses. (...) The second proposes a new acrostic that “completes” the ΑΚΤΙΑ acrostic that Selina Stewart recently discovered in Jason’s prayer. In each case, I draw different conclusions from these subliminal data, which have ramifications for questions of gender and inclusivity in Jason’s crew and the role of the gods in the poem. Both readings, however, are a testament to the careful design and unity of purpose that runs through the epic. (shrink)
In this highly original book, Jason Hill defends a strong form of moral cosmopolitanism and lays the groundwork for a new view of the self. To achieve a radical cosmopolitan identity, he argues it may be necessary to forget aspects of one's racial and ethnic socialization. The idea of forgetting where one came from demands that morally recreated persons disown parts or even all of their cultures if these cultures are oppressive or denigrate human life. Hill draws on existentialism, (...) developmental psychology, and his own experiences as a Caribbean immigrant to the United States to present a philosophy for the new millennium. (shrink)
There have two recent challenges to the orthodoxy that ‘X trusts Y to ø’ is the fundamental notion of trust. Domenicucci and Holton maintain that trust, like love and friendship, is fundamentally two-place. Paul Faulkner argues to the more radical conclusion that the one-place ‘X is trusting’ is explanatorily basic. I argue that ‘X trusts Y in domain D’ is the explanatorily basic notion. I make the case that only by thinking of trust as domain-specific can we make sense of (...) the relationships between trust and belief in goodwill, trust and distrust, and trust and trustworthiness. In addition, by modeling trust as essentially domain-specific we can account for the way in which wise trust in others is finely discriminating. (shrink)
This paper explores the politics of cult in early fourth-century Thessaly, a period of prolonged stasis throughout the region. Two case studies are offered: The first explores Jason of Pherai’s planned expedition to Delphi in 370 and its potential impact on Thessalian corporate identity; the second reconstructs the role of Ennodia in the Pheraian tyrants’ attempts to win regional hegemony.Cet article étudie la politique cultuelle du début du ive siècle en Thessalie, une période de stasis prolongée dans la région. (...) Deux études de cas sont proposées. La première aborde l’expédition planifiée par Jason de Phères à Delphes en 370 et son impact potentiel sur l’identité thessalienne. La seconde étude reconstruit le rôle d’Ennodia au sein des tentatives des tyrans pour imposer leur hégémonie à la région. (shrink)
Virtues, broadly understood as stable and robust dispositions for certain responses across morally relevant situations, have been a growing topic of interest in psychology. A central topic of discussion has been whether studies showing that situations can strongly influence our responses provide evidence against the existence of virtues (as a kind of stable and robust disposition). In this review, we examine reasons for thinking that the prevailing methods for examining situational influences are limited in their ability to test dispositional stability (...) and robustness; or, then, whether virtues exist. We make the case that these limitations can be addressed by aggregating repeated, cross-situational assessments of environmental, psychological and physiological variables within everyday life—a form of assessment often called ecological momentary assessment (EMA, or experience sampling). We, then, examine how advances in smartphone application (app) technology, and their mass adoption, make these mobile devices an unprecedented vehicle for EMA and, thus, the psychological study of virtue. We, additionally, examine how smartphones might be used for virtue development by promoting changes in thought and behavior within daily life; a technique often called ecological momentary intervention (EMI). While EMA/I have become widely employed since the 1980s for the purposes of understanding and promoting change amongst clinical populations, few EMA/I studies have been devoted to understanding or promoting virtues within non-clinical populations. Further, most EMA/I studies have relied on journaling, PDAs, phone calls and/or text messaging systems. We explore how smartphone app technology provides a means of making EMA a more robust psychological method, EMI a more robust way of promoting positive change, and, as a result, opens up new possibilities for studying and promoting virtues. (shrink)
Objective: Compassion has been associated with eudaimonia and prosocial behavior, and has been regarded as a virtue, both historically and cross-culturally. However, the psychological study of compassion has been limited to laboratory settings and/or standard survey assessments. Here, we use an experience sampling method (ESM) to compare naturalistic assessments of compassion with standard assessments, and to examine compassion, its variability, and associations with eudaimonia and prosocial behavior. -/- Methods: Participants took a survey which included standard assessments of compassion and eudaimonia. (...) Then, over four days, they were repeatedly asked about their level of compassion, eudaimonia, and situational factors within the moments of daily life. Finally, prosocial behavior was tested using the Dual Gamble Task and an opportunity to donate task winnings. -/- Results: Analyses revealed within-person associations between ESM compassion and eudaimonia. ESM compassion also predicted eudaimonia at the next ESM time point. While not impervious to situational factors, considerable consistency was observed in ESM compassion in comparison with eudaimonia. Further, ESM compassion along with eudaimonia predicted donating behavior. Standard assessments did not. -/- Conclusion: Consistent with virtue theory, some individual’s reports displayed a probabilistic tendency toward compassion, and ESM compassion predicted ESM eudaimonia and prosocial behavior toward those in need. (shrink)
This essay argues that an account of vocation that ties one’s work with divine calling stands counter to the biblical witness of calling in the New Testament. Rather than calling to a particular profession, the biblical account of calling is to a unique way of living that is to exemplify the followers of Christ. Therefore, the re-enchantment of medicine is not accomplished when one makes the practice itself sacred simply by imagining it as one’s divine calling. Rather, the sacredness of (...) medicine is rooted in the character of the physician whose daily decisions and patient interactions are the outcomes of virtues inculcated in worship, prayer, Bible study, and all other practices that mark the life of faith. Thus, the practitioner avoiding burnout asks not “Am I called to be a physician?” but “How as a physician in the daily practice of medicine might I exemplify my calling to Christ-likeness?”. (shrink)
Successful interactions between people are dependent on rapid recognition of social cues. We investigated whether head direction – a powerful social signal – is processed in the absence of conscious awareness. We used continuous flash interocular suppression to render stimuli invisible and compared the reaction time for face detection when faces were turned towards the viewer and turned slightly away. We found that faces turned towards the viewer break through suppression faster than faces that are turned away, regardless of eye (...) direction. Our results suggest that detection of a face with attention directed at the viewer occurs even in the absence of awareness of that face. While previous work has demonstrated that stimuli that signal threat are processed without awareness, our data suggest that the social relevance of a face, defined more broadly, is evaluated in the absence of awareness. (shrink)