We seem less likely to endorse moral expertise than reasoning expertise or aesthetic expertise. This seems puzzling given that moral norms are intuitively taken to be at least more objective than aesthetic norms. One possible diagnosis of the asymmetry is that moral judgments require autonomy of judgement in away that other judgments do not. However, the author points out that aesthetic judgments that have been ‘borrowed’ by aesthetic experts generate the same autonomy worry as moral judgments which are borrowed by (...) moral experts. The author then explores various approaches to accepting the testimony of moral experts and concludes that the asymmetry may best be explained by (1) the conditions for moral expertise being more difficult to satisfy than those of aesthetic expertise and (2) the intuitive greater seriousness of accepting the moral judgments of others, since moral norms are generally viewed as more binding than aesthetic norms. (shrink)
Consequentialism is the view that the rightness or wrongness of actions depend solely on their consequences. It is one of the most influential, and controversial, of all ethical theories. In this book, Julia Driver introduces and critically assesses consequentialism in all its forms. After a brief historical introduction to the problem, Driver examines utilitarianism, and the arguments of its most famous exponents, John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, and explains the fundamental questions underlying utilitarian theory: what value is to be (...) specified and how it is to be maximized. Driver also discusses indirect forms of consequentialism, the important theories of motive consequentialism and virtue consequentialism, and explains why the distinction between subjective and objective consequentialism is so important. Including helpful features such as a glossary, chapter summaries, and annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, Consequentialism is ideal for students seeking an authoritative and clearly explained survey of this important problem. (shrink)
This is a unique collection of new and recently-published articles which debate the merits of virtue-theoretic approaches to the core epistemological issues of knowledge and justified belief. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individuals responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics.
In The Virtues of Ignorance the author demonstrates that classical theories of virtue are flawed and developes a consequentialist theory of virtue. ;Virtues are excellences of character. They are traits which are considered to be valuable in some way. A person who is virtuous is one who has a tendency to act well. Classical philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, believed that virtues, as human excellences, could not involve ignorance in any way. On their view, the virtuous agent, when acting (...) well, knows what she is doing under the description which makes the action conform to virtue. For example, the generous person must know that she is, in fact, helping others in need. Yet, there is a class of virtues, the "virtues of ignorance," which essentially involve ignorance. For example, modesty requires that the agent underestimate self worth. In the first portion of the dissertation, this class of virtues is discussed, and problems raised for the traditional theories of virtue. ;In the latter portion of the dissertation, the author outlines a consequentialist theory of virtue. It is argued that the only hope of developing a unified theory of virtue is along consequentialist lines, because attempts at identifying the psychological state which is necessary for virtue have failed. On a consequentialist theory, a virtue is defined in terms of its consequences. Thus, the moral quality of the character trait is determined by how much good it brings about . The virtues of ignorance can easily be accommodated in such a theory because these traits do bring about good, even if the agent possessing the trait acts out of ignorance. (shrink)
The predominant view of moral virtue can be traced back to Aristotle. He believed that moral virtue must involve intellectual excellence. To have moral virtue one must have practical wisdom - the ability to deliberate well and to see what is morally relevant in a given context. Julia Driver challenges this classical theory of virtue, arguing that it fails to take into account virtues which do seem to involve ignorance or epistemic defect. Some 'virtues of ignorance' are counterexamples to accounts (...) of virtue which hold that moral virtue must involve practical wisdom. Modesty, for example, is generally considered to be a virtue even though the modest person may be making an inaccurate assessment of his or her accomplishments. Driver argues that we should abandon the highly intellectualist view of virtue and instead adopt a consequentialist perspective which holds that virtue is simply a character trait which systematically produces good consequences. (shrink)
This essay defends moral expertise against the skeptical considerations raised by Gilbert Ryle and others. The core of the essay articulates an account of moral expertise that draws on work on expertise in empirical moral psychology, and develops an analogy between moral expertise and linguistic expertise. The account holds that expertise is contrastive, so that a person is an expert relative to a particular contrast. Further, expertise is domain specific and characterized by behavior and judgment. Some disagreements in the literature (...) regarding moral expertise are diagnosed as being due to failures to adequately distinguish different ways in which someone can be a moral expert. For example, expertise in action does not imply expertise in judgment or analysis. (shrink)
Some of our moral commitments strike us as necessary, and this feature of moral phenomenology is sometimes viewed as incompatible with sentimentalism, since sentimentalism holds that our commitments depend, in some way, on sentiment. His dependence, or contingency, is what seems incompatible with necessity. In response to this sentimentalists hold that the commitments are psychologically necessary. However, little has been done to explore this kind of necessity. In this essay I discuss psychological necessity, and how the phenomenon of imaginative resistance (...) offers some evidence that we regard our moral commitments as necessary, but in a way compatible with viewing them as dependent on desires (in some way). A limited strategy for defending sentimentalism against a common criticism is also offered. (shrink)
This essay is a rejoinder to comments on Uneasy Virtue made by Onora O'Neill, John Skorupski, and Michael Slote in this issue. In Uneasy Virtue I presented criticisms of traditional virtue theory. I also presented an alternative – a consequentialist account of virtue, one which is a form of ‘pure evaluational externalism’. This type of theory holds that the moral quality of character traits is determined by factors external to agency (e.g. consequences). All three commentators took exception to this account. (...) Therefore, the bulk of my response focuses on defending the externalist account of virtue presented in the final chapters of Uneasy Virtue. (shrink)
Virtue ethics has generated a great deal of excitement among ethicists largely because it is seen as an alternative to the traditional theories – utilitarianism and Kantian ethics – which have come under considerable scrutiny and criticism in the past 30 years. Rather than give up the enterprise of doing moral theory altogether, as some have suggested, others have opted to develop an alternative that would hopefully avoid the shortcomings of both utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. Several writers, such as Jorge (...) Garcia and Michael Slote, have tried to develop this alternative of virtue ethics, or at least sketch out ways such a theory could be developed. (shrink)
This paper begins with the idea that we can learn a good deal about promising by examining the conditions and norms that govern promise- breaking. Sometimes promises are broken as a deliberate plan, other times they are broken because they are simply incompatible with other, more signifi cant moral norms, or because it becomes clear that they are impossible to keep. There are cases where people make promises that are actually incompatible with each other. Politicians, for example, often give such (...) incompatible promises, either intentionally, or by making too many commitments, some of which turn out to be incompatible. In making such promises, agents guarantee that at least one promise be broken. Is the agent who makes incompatible promises under any obli- gation? If ‘ought’ implies ‘can,’ and promises entail obligations, then it seems that one cannot, in fact, make promises one cannot keep. This paper explores the problem by drawing analogies between incompatible promises and other promises that cannot be kept. It suggests that we can deny ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ strictly speaking, but recognize that there is a practical limit on what the agent can be called on to do. On this view, even promises to do the impossible commit the agent. Similarly, politi- cians who promise too much are still obligated to do as promised. (shrink)
Normative Ethical theory underwent a period of refinement in some areas and proliferation in others during the 20th century. Theories prominent in the 19th century, such as Utilitarianism, underwent refinement in light of criticisms; other approaches, such as normative intuitionism and virtue ethics, were developed in new directions, ones that reflected the sophistication of analytical techniques developed by philosophers in the 20th century, particularly in ordinary language philosophy. The middle of the 20th century was marked by an interest in conceptual (...) analysis and what could be revealed about our concepts in the analysis of ‘ordinary’ language appeals to those concepts. For example, Gilbert Ryle argued that the hope of clearing up our concepts via formalizing them was futile, and instead the task of philosophy was to clear up confusions present in the ordinary use of concepts, concepts employed by ordinary people as well as specialists in a given area. Normative ethicists in the very early part of the 20th century had not yet adopted a ‘scientizing’ attitude to philosophy. They believed, for example, that one could rely on intuition in formulating ethical theories.1 Theorists in the early part of the century were also optimistic about the prospects of systematizing normative ethics in a way that would be faithful to our common sense normative judgments. This began, largely, with a critical look at Utilitarianism. (shrink)
This paper focuses on an underappreciated issue that dreams raise for moral evaluation: is immorality possible in dreams? The evaluatiotial internalist is committed to answering ‘yes.’ This is because the internalist account of moral evaluation holds that the moral quality of a person's actions, what a person does, her agency in any given case is completely determined by factors that are internal to that agency, such as the person's motives and/or intentions. Actual production of either good or bad effects is (...) completely irrelevant to the moral evaluation of that agency. Since agency can be expressed in a dream, the internalist is committed to dream immorality. Some may take this as a reductio of evaluational internalism, but whether or not this is the case the issue reveals what such a theory is committed to. In this paper I explore the significance of dreams to morality, and argue that the absurdity of dream immorality supports an account of moral evaluation with an externalist component, rather than a purely internalist account of moral evaluation. (shrink)
: This essay attempts to show that sophisticated consequentialism is able to accommodate the concerns that have traditionally been raised by feminist writers in ethics. Those concerns have primarily to do with the fact that consequentialism is seen as both too demanding of the individual and neglectful of the agent's special obligations to family and friends. Here, I argue that instrumental justification for partiality can be provided, for example, even though an attitude of partiality is not characterized itself in instrumental (...) terms. (shrink)
abstract In this paper moralism is defined as the illicit use of moral considerations. Three different varieties of moralism are then discussed — moral absolutism, excessive standards and demandingness, and presenting non‐moral considerations as moral ones. Both individuals and theories can be regarded as moralistic in some of these senses. Indeed, some critics of consequentialism have regarded that theory as moralistic. The author then describes the problems associated with each sense of ‘moralism’ and how casuistry evolved to try to deal (...) with some of these problems. The author also defends consequentialism against one charge of moralism . (shrink)
This essay explores the obligations that may arise from benevolently intended interventions that go awry. The author argues that even when the intervening agent has acted with good intentions and in a non-negligent manner, she may be required to continue aid in cases where her initial intervention failed. This is surprising because it means that persons who perform supererogatory acts run the risk of incurring additional heavy obligations through no fault of their own. The author also considers deflationary accounts that (...) run counter to her own analysis. (shrink)
This essay defends moral expertise against the skeptical considerations raised by Gilbert Ryle and others. The core of the essay articulates an account of moral expertise that draws on work on expertise in empirical moral psychology, and develops an analogy between moral expertise and linguistic expertise. The account holds that expertise is contrastive, so that a person is an expert relative to a particular contrast. Further, expertise is domain specific and characterized by “automatic” behavior and judgment. Some disagreements in the (...) literature regarding moral expertise are diagnosed as being due to failures to adequately distinguish different ways in which someone can be a moral expert. For example, expertise in action does not imply expertise in judgment or analysis. (shrink)
This paper responds to criticisms of sympathy-based approaches to ethics made by Jesse Prinz, focusing on the criticism that emotions are too variable to form a basis for ethics. I draw on the idea, articulated by early sentimentalists such as Hutcheson and Hume, that proper reliance on sympathy is subject to a corrective procedure in order, in part, to avoid the variability problem.
This chapter focuses on sentimentalism – the view that morality is based on sentiment – in particular, the sentiment of sympathy. Sentimentalism was historically articulated in opposition to two positions: Hobbesian egoism, in which morality is based on self-interest; and Moral Rationalism, which held that morality is based on reason alone. The Sentimentalists challenged both views, arguing that there is more to what motivates human beings than simple self-interest and that reason alone is insufficient to motivate our actions, including our (...) moral actions. The philosophies of Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Adam Smith are considered. The discussion then turns to sympathy, moral realism, moral virtue, and psychological realism. (shrink)
The thesis of this paper is that there is an important asymmetry between a duty to love and a duty to not love: there is no duty to love as a fitting response to someone’s very good qualities, but there is a duty to not love as a fitting response to someone’s very bad qualities. The source of the asymmetry that I discuss is the two-part understanding of love: the emotional part and the evaluative commitment part. One cannot directly, or (...) “at will,” control an emotional response, but one can undermine any commitment one would normally have under the circumstances. Thus, the feeling of love is not a duty, though being disposed to act a certain way with respect to the person one has the feelings for is controllable. (shrink)
The evaluation of character has taken on new significance in moral theory, and, indeed, some advocate a shift in focus away from evaluating action to evaluating character. This has been taken to pose special challenges for utilitarian and consequentialist moral theory. Utilitarianism's commitment to impartiality and its seeming failure to accommodate virtue evaluation have led to problems, some of which are developed in the essays in this volume.
This paper explores a problem for Michael McKenna’s conversation model of moral responsibility that views blame as characteristically part of a conversational exchange. The problem for this model on which this paper focuses is the problem of private blame. Sometimes when we blame we do so without any intention to engage in a communicative exchange. It is argued that McKenna’s model cannot adequately account for private blame.