Many find the prospect of death distressing at least partly because they believe that death deprives its subject of life’s benefits. Properly qualified, the belief is surely true. But should its truth lead us to conclude that there is something dreadful or awful about death, something that merits distress?
Drawing on insights of thinkers in the natural rights tradition, Draper analyzes numerous hypothetical cases including those involving a runaway trolley, then seeks to determine if killing civilians in war is ever justified. In his consideration of this issue he avoids appealing to the principle of double effect. Having considered hypothetical cases at length, he leaves it to others to decide if any option to go to war is justifiable. In this regard he himself is sceptical.
Hitchcock advances a diachronic Dutch Book argument (DDB) for a 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. Bradley and Leitgeb argue that Hitchcock’s DDB argument fails. We demonstrate the following: (a) Bradley and Leitgeb’s criticism of Hitchcock is unconvincing; (b) nonetheless, there are serious reasons to worry about the success of Hitchcock’s argument; (c) however, it is possible to construct a new DDB for 1/3 about which such worries cannot be raised.
In this paper, we discuss three probabilistic arguments for the existence of multiple universes. First, we provide an analysis of total evidence and use that analysis to defend Roger White's "this universe" objection to a standard fine-tuning argument for multiple universes. Second, we explain why Rodney Holder's recent cosmological argument for multiple universes is unconvincing. Third, we develop a "Cartesian argument" for multiple universes. While this argument is not open to the objections previously noted, we show that, given certain highly (...) plausible assumptions about evidence and epistemic probability, the proposition which it treats as evidence cannot coherently be regarded as evidence for anything. This raises the question of whether to reject the assumptions or accept that such a proposition cannot be evidence. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of the nature of what is perhaps the most widely recognized justification for inflicting harm on human beings: the appeal to defense (self-defense and other-defense). I develop and defend a rights-based account of the appeal to defense that takes into account whether and to what degree both the aggressor and his potential victim are morally responsible for the relevant threat. However, unlike most extant rights-based accounts, mine is not a forfeiture account. That is, I do (...) not attempt to explain the permissibility of defense in terms of the aggressor’s loss of a right not to be harmed. Instead I appeal directly to the fact that defense in the relevant cases prevents the aggressor from infringing upon the rights of his potential victim. Accordingly, I call my account a “prevention account.”. (shrink)
David Benatar's asymmetry argument in defense of anti-natalism is unconvincing, but not, as most of his critics would have it, because the alleged asymmetry on which it is based does not exist. Rather, the problem is that the existence of that asymmetry does not warrant the conclusion that it is better never to have been. This paper explains Benatar's mistake and identifies the correct conclusions to draw from the axiological asymmetry he identifies. It also sheds light on certain puzzles in (...) population ethics. (shrink)
Writing collectively as the Oscar Seminar in 2008, John Pollock and several colleagues advance an objectivist argument for a 1/3 solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem. In 2011, Joel Pust raises a serious objection to their argument to which Paul D. Thorn, a member of the Oscar Seminar, offers a subtle reply. I argue that the Oscar Seminar s argument for 1/3 is unsound. I do not, however, defend Pust’s objection. Rather I develop a new objection, one that is not (...) threatened by the considerations to which Thorn appeals in his reply to Pust. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to use the insights of objective probability theory to solve the Sleeping Beauty problem. The approach is to develop a partial theory of direct inference and then apply that partial theory to the problem. One of the crucial components of the partial theory is the thesis that expected indefinite probabilities provide a reliable basis for direct inference. The article relies heavily on recent work by Paul D. Thorn to defend that thesis. The article’s primary conclusion (...) is that Beauty can by way of a justifiable direct inference from a statement of expected indefinite probability reach the conclusion that the epistemic probability that the relevant coin toss lands heads is 1/3. The article also provides an account of why the self-locating information that Beauty acquires on Monday is evidentially relevant to the question of whether the coin toss lands heads or tails. (shrink)
This paper assesses two reformulations of Epicurus' argument that "death ... is nothing to us, since while we exist, death is not present; and whenever death is present, we do not exist." The first resembles many contemporary reformulations in that it attempts to reach the conclusion that death is not to the disadvantage of its subject. I argue that this rather anachronistic sort of reformulation cannot succeed. The second reformulation stays closer to the spirit of Epicurus' actual position on death (...) by attempting to reach the conclusion that it is inappropriate to fear or dread or have any other negative affective response towards death. I raise a plausible objection to this argument, suggesting that dissatisfaction is sometimes an appropriate response to the approach of death. I then go on to consider the possibility that Epicurus was partly right in that it may always be inappropriate to dread death. (shrink)
As a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the United States is under an obligation to criminalize all state torture. The aim of this article is to show that the United States has failed to fulfill that obligation and should correct that failure by broadening the respective definitions of “torture” in two federal criminal statutes, the War Crimes Act and the Torture Act. The broader definition that is proposed is formulated with an eye to minimizing ambiguity and vagueness, (...) avoiding both overcriminalization and undercriminalization, and facilitating accurate determinations of guilt or innocence. (shrink)
Philosophical interest in the role of self-locating information in the confirmation of hypotheses has intensified in virtue of the Sleeping Beauty problem. If the correct solution to that problem is 1/3, various attractive views on confirmation and probabilistic reasoning appear to be undermined; and some writers have used the problem as a basis for rejecting some of those views. My interest here is in two such views. One of them is the thesis that self-locating information cannot be evidentially relevant to (...) a non-self-locating hypothesis. The other, a basic tenet of Bayesian confirmation theory, is the thesis that an ideally rational agent updates her credence in a non-self-locating hypothesis in response to new information only by conditionalization. I argue that we can disprove these two theses by way of cases that are much less puzzling than Sleeping Beauty. I present two such cases in this paper. (shrink)
The probability puzzle known as "Sleeping Beauty" raises interesting and difficult ques tions about the nature of evidence. It appears that the puzzle itself has already been solved, for there is a near consensus in the relevant philosophical literature that 1/3 is the correct answer.' Be that as it may, no new argument for that result is offered here. Instead, an at tempt is made to clarify the nature of certain problems that an answer of 1/3 raises for theories of (...) evidential reasoning. Various approaches to solving the most important of these problems are then considered and rejected. (shrink)
Consider the migrant who illegally crosses an international border, and suppose that agents of the state she has entered apprehend and detain her, and then forcibly return her to her country of origin. Some opponents of aggressive deportation policies believe that, barring unusual circumstances, this process of using coercion and force to expel the migrant is an infringement of the migrant’s rights. Many of those who disagree contend that, because a state has a right to enact and enforce immigration restrictions, (...) most deportations do not infringe rights. This paper takes the position that, absent an adequate argument to the contrary, one can conclude presumptively that the typical deportation is an infringement of the migrant’s rights. Its primary aim is to show that certain serious arguments to the contrary are inadequate. (shrink)
I argue that it is possible to acquire evidence that has no probability, not even zero, prior to its acquisition. If I am right then, contrary to certain Bayesian models of confirmation, conditionalization is not the only possible basis upon which a rational agent will alter her credence in some hypothesis in response to new evidence. My conclusion follows from certain analyses of the Sleeping Beauty problem. Because those analyses are controversial, however, I alter the Sleeping Beauty scenario to generate (...) an obvious example of evidence that has no prior probability. (shrink)