Peter Singer has argued for a radical anti-intuitionism on the basis of recent empirical research into the psychological and evolutionary origins of moral intuition. There is, however, a gap between the putative genealogy of moral intuition that Singer offers and his desired methodological claim. I explore three ways to bridge the gap, and argue that the promising way is to construe the genealogy as a debunking genealogy. I sketch an account of how debunking arguments work, and then show that this (...) causes problems for Singer, since utilitarianism itself is liable to be debunked. Finally, I suggest how we can take lessons for ethics from the empirical work, but that the result is a far more restricted kind of anti-intuitionism than Singer was hoping for. (shrink)
Debunking arguments are an important species of undermining argument, in which facts about the origins of a judgement are used to explain away that judgement. There is a long history of debunking arguments in the domains of moral judgement and religious belief, from the early Christian fathers to Sigmund Freud and beyond. Debunking arguments work by offering a truth-mooting genealogy of the judgement in question, where the truth of the judgement doesn’t play a role in generating the judgement, nor does (...) the genealogy probabilify the judgement. Since debunking arguments work against judgements, we can only use them in the domains of morality and religion if we assume cognitivism for those domains. There may be, however, analogous dialectic moves if we instead assume non-cognitivism. (shrink)
What is moral reasoning? For that matter, what is any sort of reasoning? Let me begin by making a few distinctions. First, there is a distinction between reasoning as something that that people do and the abstract structures of proof or “argument” that are the subject matter of formal logic. I will be mainly concerned with reasoning in the first sense, reasoning that people do. Second, there is a distinction between moral reasoning with other people and moral reasoning by and (...) for yourself . Moral reasoning with others may involve discussion with them, bargaining with them, and possibly arguing with them. (shrink)
Although we are enthusiastic about a Darwinian approach to culture, we argue that the overview presented in the target article does not sufficiently emphasize the crucial explanatory role that psychology plays in the study of culture. We use a number of examples to illustrate the variety of ways by which appeal to psychological factors can help explain cultural phenomena.
Although we are enthusiastic about a Darwinian approach to culture, we argue that the overview presented in the target article does not sufficiently emphasize the crucial explanatory role that psychology plays in the study of culture. We use a number of examples to illustrate the variety of ways by which appeal to psychological factors can help explain cultural phenomena. (Published Online November 9 2006).
States that are about things are intentional, that is, they have content. The precise nature of intentional states is a matter of dispute.What makes some states, but not others, intentional? Of those states that are intentional, what makes them about what they are about as opposed to something else, i.e. what gives them their specific content?
The 20 sup > th /sup > century has been a tumultuous time in psychology -- a century in which the discipline struggled with basic questions about its intellectual identity, but nonetheless managed to achieve spectacular growth and maturation. It’s not surprising, then, that psychology has attracted sustained philosophical attention and stimulated rich philosophical debate. Some of this debate was aimed at understanding, and sometimes criticizing, the assumptions, concepts and explanatory strategies prevailing in the psychology of the time. But much (...) philosophical work has also been devoted to exploring the implications of psychological findings and theories for broader philosophical questions like: Are humans really rational animals? How malleable is human nature? and Do we have any innate knowledge or innate ideas? One particularly noteworthy fact about philosophy of psychology in the 20 sup > th /sup > century is that, in the last quarter of the century, the distinction between psychology and the philosophy of psychology began to dissolve as philosophers played an increasingly active role in articulating and testing empirical theories about the mind and psychologists became increasingly interested in the philosophical underpinnings and implications of their work. Our survey is divided into five sections, each focusing on an important theme in 20 sup > th /sup > century psychology which has been the focus of philosophical attention and has benefited from philosophical scrutiny. (shrink)