God is thought to be eternal. Does this mean that he is timeless? Or is he, rather, omnitemporal? In this paper we want to show that God cannot be omnitemporal. Our starting point, which we take from Bernard Williams’ article on the Makropulos Case, is the intuition that it is inappropriate for persons not to become bored after a sufficiently long sequence of time has passed. If God were omnitemporal, he would suffer from boredom. But God is the greatest possible (...) being and therefore cannot be bored. God, hence, is not omnitemporal. After the presentation of our argument, we address several objections by examining possible differences between human and divine persons. (shrink)
This paper argues that objective consequentialism is incompatible with the rationales of ‘ “ought” implies “can” ’ – with the considerations, that is, that explain or justify this principle. Objective consequentialism is the moral doctrine that an act is right if and only if there is no alternative with a better outcome, and wrong otherwise. An act is obligatory if and only if it is wrong not to perform it. According to ‘ “ought” implies “can” ’, a person is morally (...) obligated to φ only if the person can φ. The rationales of ‘ “ought” implies “can” ’ include considerations related to intuitive plausibility, action-guidance, blameworthiness and fairness, and the nature of practical reasons. (shrink)
Frank Jackson has put forward a famous thought experiment of a physician who has to decide on the correct treatment for her patient. Subjective consequentialism tells the physician to do what intuitively seems to be the right action, whereas objective consequentialism fails to guide the physician’s action. I suppose that objective consequentialists want to supplement their theory so that it guides the physician’s action towards what intuitively seems to be the right treatment. Since this treatment is wrong according to objective (...) consequentialism, objective consequentialists have to license it without calling it right. I consider eight strategies to spell out the idea of licensing the intuitively right treatment and argue that objective consequentialism is on the horns of what I call the licensing dilemma : Either the physician’s action is not guided towards the intuitively right treatment. Or the guidance towards the intuitively right treatment is ad hoc in some respect or the other. (shrink)
This discussion note attempts to show that, pace Niko Kolodny and John MacFarlane, the Miners case intuitively speaks in favor of subjectivism. I argue that properly understood the intuitively correct judgements concerning the case are compatible with subjectivism. My argument is based, among other things, on a comparison between the Minders case and other cases as well as on considerations of blameworthiness.
In his recent book, The Dimensions of Consequentialism, Martin Peterson puts forward a new version of consequentialism that he dubs ‘multidimensional consequentialism’. The defining thesis of the new theory is that there are irreducible moral aspects that jointly determine the deontic status of an act. In defending his particular version of multidimensional consequentialism, Peterson advocates the thesis—he calls it DEGREE—that if two or more moral aspects clash, the act under consideration is right to some non-extreme degree. This goes against the (...) orthodoxy according to which—Peterson calls this RESOLUTION—each act is always either entirely right or entirely wrong. The argument against RESOLUTION appeals to the existence of so-called deontic leaps: the idea is that endorsing RESOLUTION would not give each relevant moral aspect its due in the final analysis. Our paper argues that, contrary to Peterson, all moral aspects remain visible in what can properly be called the final analysis of a moral theory that involves RESOLUTION, moral aspects do not have to remain visible in judgements of all-things-considered rightness or wrongness, respectively, introduction of what Peterson calls verdictive reasons does not change the overall picture in favour of DEGREE. We conclude that multi-dimensional consequentialists should accept RESOLUTION rather than DEGREE. (shrink)
Some philosophers hold that objective consequentialism is false because it is incompatible with the principle that “ought” implies “can”. Roughly speaking, objective consequentialism is the doctrine that you always ought to do what will in fact have the best consequences. According to the principle that “ought” implies “can”, you have a moral obligation to do something only if you can do that thing. Frances Howard-Snyder has used an innovative thought experiment to argue that sometimes you cannot do what will in (...) fact have the best consequences because you do not know what will in fact have the best consequences. Erik Carlson has raised two objections against Howard-Snyder’s argument. This paper examines Howard-Snyder’s argument as well as Carlson’s objections, arguing that Carlson’s objections do not go through but Howard-Snyder’s argument fails nonetheless. Moreover, this paper attempts to show that objective consequentialism and other objectivist moral theories are compatible with the principle that “ought” implies “can”. Finally, this paper analyses a special kind of inability: ignorance-induced inability. (shrink)
This paper examines the impact of disability on wellbeing and presents arguments against the mere-difference view of disability. According to the mere-difference view, disability does not by itself make disabled people worse off on balance. Rather, if disability has a negative impact on wellbeing overall, this is only so because society is not treating disabled people the way it ought to treat them. In objection to the mere-difference view, it has been argued, roughly, that the view licenses the permissibility of (...) causing disability and the impermissibility of causing nondisability. In her recent article, “Valuing Disability, Causing Disability” (2014), Elizabeth Barnes attempts to show that this causation-based objection does not succeed. We disagree and argue why. We begin by explaining that in order to defeat the causation-based objection it does not suffice to show that it is not always true that the mere-difference view licenses causing disability. Rather, license in some cases, in a way that undermines the plausibility of the mere-difference view, would be sufficient for the causation-based objection to succeed. Then our discussion turns to an important challenge for proponents of the causation-based objection: Some defenders of the mere-difference view are prepared to simply accept the counterintuitive implications of their position. A dialogue with such proponents of the mere-difference view requires arguments with independent traction. We present several such arguments to the effect that the mere-difference view needs to be significantly reduced in scope – and may turn out to be false altogether. (shrink)
Two decades have passed since the first attempts were made to establish systematic ethical review of human research in the Baltic States. Legally and institutionally much has changed. In this paper we provide an historical and structural overview of ethical review of human research and identify some problems related to the role of ethical review in establishing quality research environment in these countries. Problems connected to (a) public availability of information, (b) management of conflicts of interest, (c) REC composition and (...) motivation of REC members, and (d) differing levels of stringency of ethical review for different types of studies, are identified. Recommendations are made to strengthen cooperation among the Baltic RECs. (shrink)
In his new book, The Dimensions of Consequentialism, Martin Peterson proposes a version of multi-dimensional consequentialism according to which risk is one among several dimensions. We argue that Peterson’s treatment of risk is unsatisfactory. More precisely, we want to show that all problems of one-dimensional (objective or subjective) consequentialism are also problems for Peterson’s proposal, although it may fall prey to them less often. In ending our paper, we address the objection that our discussion overlooks the fact that Peterson’s proposal (...) is not the best version of multi-dimensional consequentialism. Our reply is that the possibilities of improving multi-dimensional consequentialism are very limited as far as risk is concerned. (shrink)
Error theories about practical deontic judgements claim that no substantive practical deontic judgement is true. Practical deontic judgements are practical in the sense that they concern actions, and they are deontic in the sense that they are about reasons, rightness, wrongness, and obligations. This paper assumes the truth of an error theory about practical deontic judgements in order to examine its ramifications. I defend three contentions. The first is that, if so-called fitting-attitude analyses of value fail, the truth of some (...) substantive evaluative judgements would not be threatened by the fact that no substantive practical deontic judgment is true. Secondly, in light of the truth of these evaluative judgements, the best thing we could do is to continue to make practical deontic judgements despite the truth of an error theory about practical deontic judgements. My third contention is that, if some evaluative judgements are unaffected by an error theory about practical deontic judgements, then such an error theory will eventually lead us to some version of consequentialism. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn this paper, I critique one way of arguing for global democracy on grounds of affected interests and defend another. A famous argument for global democracy, which I call the Demos-Based Argument, attempts to justify global democracy based on the claim that affected interests vindicate individual claims to democratic participation or representation. I analyze and evaluate the Demos-Based Argument and consider different ways of interpreting and justifying its crucial premise: the Principle of Affected Interests. The result is that the argument (...) fails. One lesson of the discussion of the Demos-Based Argument is that the most promising, though eventually unsuccessful, justification of the Principle of Affected Interests is utilitarian. Given the failure of the Demos-Based Argument, the question suggests itself if there is another way to argue for global democracy on utilitarian grounds. I will outline a promising alternative argument for global democracy, which I call the Direct Argument. Like the De... (shrink)
Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that some groups qualify as rational agents over and above their members. Examples include churches, commercial corporations, and political parties. According to the theory developed by List and Pettit, these groups qualify as agents because they have beliefs and desires and the capacity to process them and to act on their basis. Moreover, the alleged group agents are said to be rational to a high degree and even to be fit to be held morally (...) responsible. And the group agents under consideration are autonomous, according to the List-Pettit Theory, because their beliefs and desires cannot easily be reduced to the beliefs and desires of the groups’ members. I want to show that we should not accept the List-Pettit Theory, because it implies the absurd claim that instrument-user units, like car-driver units, are rational agents over and above their user-parts, say drivers. The focus of my argument is on whether instrument-user units are autonomous in relation to their user-parts on the List-Pettit Theory. (shrink)
Norbert Hoerster has tried to show on the basis of what I call special and general interests that it is rational to endorse moral judgements. I argue that Hoerster’s attempt to vindicate the rationality of moral judgements fails. By appealing to special interests Hoerster can only establish the rationality of endorsing judgements that – by Hoerster’s own standards – are not moral judgements because they do not pass the test of generalization. While the appeal to general interests, on the other (...) hand, indeed establishes the rationality of endorsing judgements that pass the test of generalization, it does so only for some but not all people; for this reason, the vindicated judgements do not qualify as moral judgements either. (shrink)
This paper examines the impact of disability on wellbeing and presents arguments against the mere-difference view of disability. According to the mere-difference view, disability does not by itself make disabled people worse off on balance. Rather, if disability has a negative impact on wellbeing overall, this is only so because society is not treating disabled people the way it ought to treat them. In objection to the mere-difference view, it has been argued, roughly, that the view licenses the permissibility of (...) causing disability and the impermissibility of causing nondisability. In her recent article, “Valuing Disability, Causing Disability”, Elizabeth Barnes attempts to show that this causation-based objection does not succeed. We disagree and argue why. We begin by explaining that in order to defeat the causation-based objection it does not suffice to show that it is not always true that the mere-difference view licenses causing disability. Rather, license in some cases, in a way that undermines the plausibility of the mere-difference view, would be sufficient for the causation-based objection to succeed. Then our discussion turns to an important challenge for proponents of the causation-based objection: Some defenders of the mere-difference view are prepared to simply accept the counterintuitive implications of their position. A dialogue with such proponents of the mere-difference view requires arguments with independent traction. We present several such arguments to the effect that the mere-difference view needs to be significantly reduced in scope – and may turn out to be false altogether. (shrink)
This paper offers a critique of David Gauthier’s contractarian moral theory. I point out morally counter-intuitive implications of Gauthier’s theory – for example, with respect to societies with slavery or concerning the protection of animals – as well as theoretically unattractive features, such as the overly optimistic assumption of translucent agents. However, contractarian moral theories can be improved by correcting the theoretically unattractive features. Moreover, though some morally counter-intuitive implications cannot be avoided, whether we should accept these implications ultimately depends (...) on whether an instrumentalist account of practical reason is defensible and how morality relates to practical reason. Thus, contractarian moral theories cannot be refuted as easily as one might think at first. (shrink)
With a focus on receptive language, we examine the neurobiological evidence for the interdependence of receptive and expressive language processes. While we agree that there is compelling evidence for such interdependence, we suggest that Pickering & Garrod's (P&G's) account would be enhanced by considering more-specific situations in which their model does, and does not, apply.
How can legal norms be morally evaluated? In this paper we discuss and defend consequentialism about legal norms. According to this doctrine, the legitimacy of legal norms depends entirely on the consequences of the norms’ validity. Consequentialism about legal norms shares the advantages of both act- and rule-consequentialism while avoiding the respective disadvantages. In particular, consequentialism about legal norms has prima-facie plausibility like act-consequentialism and for similar reasons: it qualifies as a version of collective act-consequentialism. At the same time, the (...) implications of consequentialism about legal norms cohere with common-sense morality because, like rule-consequentialism, consequentialism about legal norms takes into account the motivational limits of human agents. (shrink)
In this article I respond to comments and objections raised in the special issue on my book The Dimensions of Consequentialism. I defend my multi-dimensional consequentialist theory against a range of challenges articulated by Thomas Schmidt, Campbell Brown, Frances Howard-Snyder, Roger Crisp, Vuko Andric and Attila Tanyi, and Jan Gertken. My aim is to show that multi-dimensional consequentialism is, at least, a coherent and intuitively plausible alternative to one-dimensional theories such as utilitarianism, prioritarianism, and mainstream accounts of egalitarianism. I am (...) very grateful to all contributors for reading my book so closely and for devoting time and intellectual energy to thinking about the pros and cons of multi-dimensional consequentialism. (shrink)
Review of Kristina Stoeckl, Ingeborg Gabriel, Aristotle Papanikolau, eds., Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity. Common Challenges – Divergent Positions,, Edinburgh: T&T Clark and Bloomberg, 2017.
In this book, Kristina Musholt offers a novel theory of self-consciousness, understood as the ability to think about oneself. Traditionally, self-consciousness has been central to many philosophical theories. More recently, it has become the focus of empirical investigation in psychology and neuroscience. Musholt draws both on philosophical considerations and on insights from the empirical sciences to offer a new account of self-consciousness—the ability to think about ourselves that is at the core of what makes us human. -/- Examining theories (...) of nonconceptual content developed in recent work in the philosophy of cognition, Musholt proposes a model for the gradual transition from self-related information implicit in the nonconceptual content of perception and other forms of experience to the explicit representation of the self in conceptual thought. A crucial part of this model is an analysis of the relationship between self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. Self-consciousness and awareness of others, Musholt argues, are two sides of the same coin. -/- After surveying the philosophical problem of self-consciousness, the notion of nonconceptual content, and various proposals for the existence of nonconceptual self-consciousness, Musholt argues for a non-self-representationalist theory, according to which the self is not part of the representational content of perception and bodily awareness but part of the mode of presentation. She distinguishes between implicitly self-related information and explicit self-representation, and describes the transitions from the former to the latter as arising from a complex process of self–other differentiation. By this account, both self-consciousness and intersubjectivity develop in parallel. (shrink)
In this chapter I explain Spinoza's concept of "infinite modes". After some brief background on Spinoza's thoughts on infinity, I provide reasons to think that Immediate Infinite Modes are identical to the attributes, and that Mediate Infinite Modes are merely totalities of finite modes. I conclude with some considerations against the alternative view that infinite modes are laws of nature.
The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we clarify the notion of immunity to error through misidentification with respect to the first-person pronoun. In particular, we set out to dispel the view that for a judgment to be IEM it must contain a token of a certain class of predicates. Rather, the importance of the IEM status of certain judgments is that it teaches us about privileged ways of coming to know about ourselves. We then turn to examine how (...) perception, as a state with nonconceptual content, can give rise to judgments that are IEM. On one view, the ‘inheritance model’ of immunity, perception gives rise to such judgments because perception itself is IEM. We argue that this model is misguided, and, instead, suggest and elucidate an alternative view: perception gives rise to judgments that are IEM by virtue of containing implicitly self-related or self-concerning information. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation and argues that the latter is required for self-consciousness. It is further argued that self-consciousness requires an awareness of other minds and that this awareness develops over the course of an increasingly complex perspectival differentiation, during which information about self and other that is implicit in early forms of social interaction becomes redescribed into an explicit format.
What effect does witnessing other students cheat have on one's own cheating behavior? What roles do moral attitudes and neutralizing attitudes (justifications for behavior) play when deciding to cheat? The present research proposes a model of academic dishonesty which takes into account each of these variables. Findings from experimental (vignette) and survey methods determined that seeing others cheat increases cheating behavior by causing students to judge the behavior less morally reprehensible, not by making rationalization easier. Witnessing cheating also has unique (...) effects, controlling for other variables. (shrink)