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Neil Levy
Oxford University
  1. Neither Fish nor Fowl: Implicit Attitudes as Patchy Endorsements.Neil Levy - 2015 - Noûs 49 (4):800-823.
    Implicit attitudes are mental states that appear sometimes to cause agents to act in ways that conflict with their considered beliefs. Implicit attitudes are usually held to be mere associations between representations. Recently, however, some philosophers have suggested that they are, or are very like, ordinary beliefs: they are apt to feature in properly inferential processing. This claim is important, in part because there is good reason to think that the vocabulary in which we make moral assessments of ourselves and (...)
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  2.  60
    Neuroethics: Challenges for the 21st Century.Neil Levy - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
    Neuroscience has dramatically increased understanding of how mental states and processes are realized by the brain, thus opening doors for treating the multitude of ways in which minds become dysfunctional. This book explores questions such as when is it permissible to alter a person's memories, influence personality traits or read minds? What can neuroscience tell us about free will, self-control, self-deception and the foundations of morality? The view of neuroethics offered here argues that many of our new powers to read (...)
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  3. Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility.Neil Levy - 2011 - Oxford University Press UK.
    The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He argues that the standard luck objection succeeds against common accounts of libertarian free will, but that it is possible to amend libertarian accounts so that they are no more vulnerable to luck (...)
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  4. Consciousness and Morality.Joshua Shepherd & Neil Levy - forthcoming - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    It is well known that the nature of consciousness is elusive, and that attempts to understand it generate problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. Less appreciated are the important – even if still elusive – connections between consciousness and issues in ethics. In this chapter we consider three such connections. First, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding an entity’s moral status. Second, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding moral responsibility for action. (...)
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  5. Consciousness, Implicit Attitudes and Moral Responsibility.Neil Levy - 2014 - Noûs 48 (1):21-40.
  6.  96
    Implicit Bias and Moral Responsibility: Probing the Data.Neil Levy - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3).
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  7. The Responsibility of the Psychopath Revisited.Neil Levy - 2007 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (2):pp. 129-138.
    The question of the psychopath's responsibility for his or her wrongdoing has received considerable attention. Much of this attention has been directed toward whether psychopaths are a counterexample to motivational internalism (MI): Do they possess normal moral beliefs, which fail to motivate them? In this paper, I argue that this is a question that remains conceptually and empirically intractable, and that we ought to settle the psychopath's responsibility in some other way. I argue that recent empirical work on the moral (...)
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  8.  97
    Implicit Bias and Moral Responsibility: Probing the Data.Neil Levy - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):3-26.
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  9.  7
    Nudges in a Post-Truth World.Neil Levy - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (8):495-500.
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  10.  67
    Neuroethics: A New Way of Doing Ethics.Neil Levy - 2011 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 2 (2):3-9.
    The aim of this article is to argue, by example, for neuroethics as a new way of doing ethics. Rather than simply giving us a new subject matter—the ethical issues arising from neuroscience—to attend to, neuroethics offers us the opportunity to refine the tools we use. Ethicists often need to appeal to the intuitions provoked by consideration of cases to evaluate the permissibility of types of actions; data from the sciences of the mind give us reason to believe that some (...)
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  11. Resisting 'Weakness of the Will'.Neil Levy - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):134 - 155.
    I develop an account of weakness of the will that is driven by experimental evidence from cognitive and social psychology. I will argue that this account demonstrates that there is no such thing as weakness of the will: no psychological kind corresponds to it. Instead, weakness of the will ought to be understood as depletion of System II resources. Neither the explanatory purposes of psychology nor our practical purposes as agents are well-served by retaining the concept. I therefore suggest that (...)
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  12. Amputees by Choice: Body Integrity Identity Disorder and the Ethics of Amputation.Tim Bayne & Neil Levy - 2005 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (1):75–86.
    In 1997, a Scottish surgeon by the name of Robert Smith was approached by a man with an unusual request: he wanted his apparently healthy lower left leg amputated. Although details about the case are sketchy, the would-be amputee appears to have desired the amputation on the grounds that his left foot wasn’t part of him – it felt alien. After consultation with psychiatrists, Smith performed the amputation. Two and a half years later, the patient reported that his life had (...)
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  13.  13
    The Good, the Bad, and the Blameworthy.Neil Levy - 2005 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 1 (2):1-16.
    Accounts of moral responsibility can be divided into those that claim that attributability of an act, omission, or attitude to an agent is sufficient for responsibility for it, and those which hold that responsibility depends crucially on choice. I argue that accounts of the first, attributionist, kind fail to make room for the relatively stringent epistemic conditions upon moral responsibility, and that therefore an account of the second, volitionist, kind ought to be preferred. I examine the various arguments advanced on (...)
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  14. Doxastic Responsibility.Neil Levy - 2007 - Synthese 155 (1):127-155.
    Doxastic responsibility matters, morally and epistemologically. Morally, because many of our intuitive ascriptions of blame seem to track back to agents’ apparent responsibility for beliefs; epistemologically because some philosophers identify epistemic justification with deontological permissibility. But there is a powerful argument which seems to show that we are rarely or never responsible for our beliefs, because we cannot control them. I examine various possible responses to this argument, which aim to show either that doxastic responsibility does not require that we (...)
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  15. Forced to Be Free?: Increasing Patient Autonomy by Constraining It.Neil Levy - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (5):293-300.
    It is universally accepted in bioethics that doctors and other medical professionals have an obligation to procure the informed consent of their patients. Informed consent is required because patients have the moral right to autonomy in furthering the pursuit of their most important goals. In the present work, it is argued that evidence from psychology shows that human beings are subject to a number of biases and limitations as reasoners, which can be expected to lower the quality of their decisions (...)
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  16. Enhancing Authenticity.Neil Levy - 2011 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (3):308-318.
    Some philosophers have criticized the use of psychopharmaceuticals on the grounds that even if these drugs enhance the person using them, they threaten their authenticity. Others have replied by pointing out that the conception of authenticity upon which this argument rests is contestable; on a rival conception, psychopharmaceuticals might be used to enhance our authenticity. Since, however, it is difficult to decide between these competing conceptions of authenticity, the debate seems to end in a stalemate. I suggest that we need (...)
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  17. Recent Work on Free Will and Moral Responsibility.Neil Levy & Michael McKenna - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (1):96-133.
    In this article we survey six recent developments in the philosophical literature on free will and moral responsibility: (1) Harry Frankfurt's argument that moral responsibility does not require the freedom to do otherwise; (2) the heightened focus upon the source of free actions; (3) the debate over whether moral responsibility is an essentially historical concept; (4) recent compatibilist attempts to resurrect the thesis that moral responsibility requires the freedom to do otherwise; (5) the role of the control condition in free (...)
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  18.  92
    Am I a Racist? Implicit Bias and the Ascription of Racism.Neil Levy - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):534-551.
    There is good evidence that many people harbour attitudes that conflict with those they endorse. In the language of social psychology, they seem to have implicit attitudes that conflict with their explicit beliefs. There has been a great deal of attention paid to the question whether agents like this are responsible for actions caused by their implicit attitudes, but much less to the question whether they can rightly be described as racist in virtue of harbouring them. In this paper, I (...)
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  19.  16
    In Praise of Outsourcing.Neil Levy - 2018 - Contemporary Pragmatism 15 (3):344-365.
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  20.  11
    Showing Our Seams: A Reply to Eric Funkhouser.Neil Levy - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (7):991-1006.
    ABSTRACTIn a recent paper published in this journal, Eric Funkhouser argues that some of our beliefs have the primary function of signaling to others, rather than allowing us to navigate the world. Funkhouser’s case is persuasive. However, his account of beliefs as signals is underinclusive, omitting both beliefs that are signals to the self and less than full-fledged beliefs as signals. The latter set of beliefs, moreover, has a better claim to being considered as constituting a psychological kind in its (...)
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  21. Psychopaths and Blame: The Argument From Content.Neil Levy - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (3):351–367.
    The recent debate over the moral responsibility of psychopaths has centered on whether, or in what sense, they understand moral requirements. In this paper, I argue that even if they do understand what morality requires, the content of their actions is not of the right kind to justify full-blown blame. I advance two independent justifications of this claim. First, I argue that if the psychopath comes to know what morality requires via a route that does not involve a proper appreciation (...)
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  22.  48
    Due Deference to Denialism: Explaining Ordinary People’s Rejection of Established Scientific Findings.Neil Levy - forthcoming - Synthese:1-15.
    There is a robust scientific consensus concerning climate change and evolution. But many people reject these expert views, in favour of beliefs that are strongly at variance with the evidence. It is tempting to try to explain these beliefs by reference to ignorance or irrationality, but those who reject the expert view seem often to be no worse informed or any less rational than the majority of those who accept it. It is also tempting to try to explain these beliefs (...)
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  23. Counterfactual Intervention and Agents’ Capacities.Neil Levy - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (5):223-239.
  24. The Importance of Awareness.Neil Levy - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2):221-229.
    A number of philosophers have recently argued that agents need not be conscious of the reasons for which they act or the moral significance of their actions in order to be morally responsible for them. In this paper, I identify a kind of awareness that, I claim, agents must have in order to be responsible for their actions. I argue that conscious information processing differs from unconscious in a manner that makes the following two claims true: (1) an agent’s values (...)
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  25.  51
    Consciousness and Moral Responsibility.Neil Levy - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    Neil Levy presents a new theory of freedom and responsibility. He defends a particular account of consciousness--the global workspace view--and argues that consciousness plays an especially important role in action. There are good reasons to think that the naïve assumption, that consciousness is needed for moral responsibility, is in fact true.
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  26. Addiction is Not a Brain Disease (and It Matters).Neil Levy - 2013 - Frontiers in Psychiatry 4 (24).
    The claim that addiction is a brain disease is almost universally accepted among scientists who work on addiction. The claim’s attraction rests on two grounds: the fact that addiction seems to be characterized by dysfunction in specific neural pathways and the fact that the claim seems to the compassionate response to people who are suffering. I argue that neural dysfunction is not sufficient for disease: something is a brain disease only when neural dysfunction is sufficient for impairment. I claim that (...)
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  27. Autonomy and Addiction.Neil Levy - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (3):427-447.
  28.  10
    Responsibility as an Obstacle to Good Policy: The Case of Lifestyle Related Disease.Neil Levy - 2018 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 15 (3):459-468.
    There is a lively debate over who is to blame for the harms arising from unhealthy behaviours, like overeating and excessive drinking. In this paper, I argue that given how demanding the conditions required for moral responsibility actually are, we cannot be highly confident that anyone is ever morally responsible. I also adduce evidence that holding people responsible for their unhealthy behaviours has costs: it undermines public support for the measures that are likely to have the most impact on these (...)
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  29. Rethinking Neuroethics in the Light of the Extended Mind Thesis.Neil Levy - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (9):3-11.
    The extended mind thesis is the claim that mental states extend beyond the skulls of the agents whose states they are. This seemingly obscure and bizarre claim has far-reaching implications for neuroethics, I argue. In the first half of this article, I sketch the extended mind thesis and defend it against criticisms. In the second half, I turn to its neuroethical implications. I argue that the extended mind thesis entails the falsity of the claim that interventions into the brain are (...)
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  30. What, and Where, Luck Is: A Response to Jennifer Lackey.Neil Levy - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):489 – 497.
    In 'What Luck Is Not', Lackey presents counterexamples to the two most prominent accounts of luck: the absence of control account and the modal account. I offer an account of luck that conjoins absence of control to a modal condition. I then show that Lackey's counterexamples mislocate the luck: the agents in her cases are lucky, but the luck precedes the event upon which Lackey focuses, and that event is itself only fortunate, not lucky. Finally I offer an account of (...)
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  31. Culpable Ignorance and Moral Responsibility: A Reply to FitzPatrick.Neil Levy - 2009 - Ethics 119 (4):729-741.
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  32.  32
    Are You Morally Modified?: The Moral Effects of Widely Used Pharmaceuticals.Neil Levy, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Sylvia Terbeck, Philip J. Cowen, Miles Hewstone & Julian Savulescu - 2014 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 21 (2):111-125.
    A number of concerns have been raised about the possible future use of pharmaceuticals designed to enhance cognitive, affective, and motivational processes, particularly where the aim is to produce morally better decisions or behavior. In this article, we draw attention to what is arguably a more worrying possibility: that pharmaceuticals currently in widespread therapeutic use are already having unintended effects on these processes, and thus on moral decision making and morally significant behavior. We review current evidence on the moral effects (...)
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  33. Cognitive Scientific Challenges to Morality.Neil Levy - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (5):567 – 587.
    Recent findings in neuroscience, evolutionary biology and psychology seem to threaten the existence or the objectivity of morality. Moral theory and practice is founded, ultimately, upon moral intuition, but these empirical findings seem to show that our intuitions are responses to nonmoral features of the world, not to moral properties. They therefore might be taken to show that our moral intuitions are systematically unreliable. I examine three cognitive scientific challenges to morality, and suggest possible lines of reply to them. I (...)
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  34.  71
    Embodied Savoir-Faire: Knowledge-How Requires Motor Representations.Neil Levy - 2017 - Synthese 194 (2).
    I argue that the intellectualist account of knowledge-how, according to which agents have the knowledge-how to \ in virtue of standing in an appropriate relation to a proposition, is only half right. On the composition view defended here, knowledge-how at least typically requires both propositional knowledge and motor representations. Motor representations are not mere dispositions to behavior because they have representational content, and they play a central role in realizing the intelligence in knowledge-how. But since motor representations are not propositional, (...)
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  35.  42
    You Meta Believe It.Neil Levy - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (2):814-826.
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  36.  13
    What in the World Is Collective Responsibility?Alberto Giubilini & Neil Levy - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (2):191-217.
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    Religious Beliefs Are Factual Beliefs: Content Does Not Correlate with Context Sensitivity.Neil Levy - 2017 - Cognition 161:109-116.
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  38. We're All Folk: An Interview with Neil Levy About Experimental Philosophy and Conceptual Analysis.Neil Levy & Yasuko Kitano - 2011 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 19:87-98.
    The following is a transcript of the interview I (Yasuko Kitano) conducted with Neil Levy (The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, CAPPE) on the 23rd in July 2009, while he was in Tokyo to give a series of lectures on neuroethics at The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy. I edited his words for publication with his approval.
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  39.  38
    Addiction, Autonomy, and Informed Consent: On and Off the Garden Path.Neil Levy - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (1):56-73.
    Several ethicists have argued that research trials and treatment programs that involve the provision of drugs to addicts are prima facie unethical, because addicts can’t refuse the offer of drugs and therefore can’t give informed consent to participation. In response, several people have pointed out that addiction does not cause a compulsion to use drugs. However, since we know that addiction impairs autonomy, this response is inadequate. In this paper, I advance a stronger defense of the capacity of addicts to (...)
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  40. Moral Significance of Phenomenal Consciousness.Neil Levy & Julian Savulescu - 2009 - Progress in Brain Research.
    Recent work in neuroimaging suggests that some patients diagnosed as being in the persistent vegetative state are actually conscious. In this paper, we critically examine this new evidence. We argue that though it remains open to alternative interpretations, it strongly suggests the presence of consciousness in some patients. However, we argue that its ethical significance is less than many people seem to think. There are several different kinds of consciousness, and though all kinds of consciousness have some ethical significance, different (...)
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  41. Empirically Informed Moral Theory: A Sketch of the Landscape.Neil Levy - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (1):3-8.
    This introduction to the special issue on empirically informed moral theory sketches the more important contributions to the field in the past several years. Attention is paid to experimental philosophy, the work of philosophers like Harman and Doris, and that of psychologists like Haidt and Hauser.
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  42.  79
    Doing Without Deliberation: Automatism, Automaticity, and Moral Accountability,.Neil Levy & Tim Bayne - 2004 - International Review of Psychiatry 16 (4):209-15.
    Actions performed in a state of automatism are not subject to moral evaluation, while automatic actions often are. Is the asymmetry between automatistic and automatic agency justified? In order to answer this question we need a model or moral accountability that does justice to our intuitions about a range of modes of agency, both pathological and non-pathological. Our aim in this paper is to lay the foundations for such an account.
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  43.  52
    Countering Cova: Frankfurt-Style Cases Are Still Broken.Neil Levy - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (3):523-527.
    In his “Frankfurt-style cases user manual”, Florian Cova (2013) distinguishes two kinds of Frankfurt-style arguments against the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), and argues that my attack on the soundness of Frankfurt-style cases succeeds, at most, only against one kind. Since either kind of argument can be used to undermine PAP, Cova suggests, the fact that my attack fails against at least one means that it does not succeed in rescuing PAP from the clutches of Frankfurt enthusiasts. In this brief (...)
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  44. Expressing Who We Are: Moral Responsibility and Awareness of Our Reasons for Action.Neil Levy - 2011 - Analytic Philosophy 52 (4):243-261.
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  45. The Feeling of Doing: Deconstructing the Phenomenology of Agnecy.Timothy J. Bayne & Neil Levy - 2006 - In Natalie Sebanz & Wolfgang Prinz (eds.), Disorders of Volition. Cambridge: MIT Press.
    Disorders of volition are often accompanied by, and may even be caused by, disruptions in the phenomenology of agency. Yet the phenomenology of agency is at present little explored. In this paper we attempt to describe the experience of normal agency, in order to uncover its representational content.
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  46. Less Blame, Less Crime? The Practical Implications of Moral Responsibility Skepticism.Neil Levy - 2015 - Journal of Practical Ethics 3 (2):1-17.
    Most philosophers believe that wrongdoers sometimes deserve to be punished by long prison sentences. They also believe that such punishments are justified by their consequences: they deter crime and incapacitate potential offenders. In this article, I argue that both these claims are false. No one deserves to be punished, I argue, because our actions are shot through with direct or indirect luck. I also argue that there are good reasons to think that punishing fewer people and much less harshly will (...)
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    Capacities and Counterfactuals: A Reply to Haji and McKenna.Neil Levy - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (4):607-620.
    In a recent paper, Ishtiyaque Haji and Michael McKenna argue that my attack on Frankfurt-style cases fails. I had argued that we cannot be confident that agents in these cases retain their responsibility-underwriting capacities, because what capacities an agent has can depend on features of the world external to her, including merely counterfactual interveners. Haji and McKenna argue that only when an intervention is actual does the agent gain or lose a capacity. Here I demonstrate that this claim is false: (...)
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  48. Imaginative Resistance and the Moral/Conventional Distinction.Neil Levy - 2005 - Philosophical Psychology 18 (2):231 – 241.
    Children, even very young children, distinguish moral from conventional transgressions, inasmuch as they hold that the former, but not the latter, would still be wrong if there was no rule prohibiting them. Many people have taken this finding as evidence that morality is objective, and therefore universal. I argue that reflection on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance will lead us to question these claims. If a concept applies in virtue of the obtaining of a set of more basic facts, then (...)
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  49. Downshifting and Meaning in Life.Neil Levy - 2005 - Ratio 18 (2):176–189.
    So-called downshifters seek more meaningful lives by decreasing the amount of time they devote to work, leaving more time for the valuable goods of friendship, family and personal development. But though these are indeed meaning-conferring activities, they do not have the right structure to count as superlatively meaningful. Only in work – of a certain kind – can superlative meaning be found. It is by active engagements in projects, which are activities of the right structure, dedicated to the achievement of (...)
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  50. Virtual Child Pornography: The Eroticization of Inequality.Neil Levy - 2002 - Ethics and Information Technology 4 (4):319-323.
    The United States Supreme Court hasrecently ruled that virtual child pornographyis protected free speech, partly on the groundsthat virtual pornography does not harm actualchildren. I review the evidence for thecontention that virtual pornography might harmchildren, and find that it is, at best,inconclusive. Saying that virtual childpornography does not harm actual children isnot to say that it is completely harmless,however. Child pornography, actual or virtual,necessarily eroticizes inequality; in a sexistsociety it therefore contributes to thesubordination of women.
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