One of the principles on how to act under moral uncertainty, My Favourite Theory, says roughly that a morally conscientious agent chooses an option that is permitted by the most credible moral theory. In defence of this principle, we argue that it prescribes consistent choices over time, without relying on intertheoretic comparisons of value, while its main rivals are either plagued by moral analogues of money pumps or in need of a method for making non-arbitrary intertheoretic comparisons. We rebut the (...) arguments that have been levelled against My Favourite Theory and offer some arguments against intertheoretic comparisons of value. (shrink)
The dominating view of legal effectiveness is based on the idea of a gap between what the law states, or commands, and how the population acts. When behaviour is not in accordance with law, the legal system or a norm is not considered effective. This idea is challenged in this article. Previous research on legal transplantation is used as reference for an analysis of legal application and legal effectiveness from a sociological and systems theoretical perspective. It is well known that (...) imported laws functions less well than internally developed laws, but explanations differ. According to the currently known effectiveness concept the poorly functioning imported law is a paradox. In this article a new effectiveness concept is developed. It is shown how the poor functioning of legal transplants can be explained using our new approach to legal application and legal effectiveness. (shrink)
According to one influential philosophical view of human agency, for an agent to perform an action intentionally is essentially for her to manifest a kind of self-knowledge: An agent is intentionally φ-ing if and only if she has a special kind of practical and non-observational knowledge that this is what she is doing. I here argue that this self-knowledge view faces serious problems when extended to account for intentional actions performed by several agents together as a result of a joint (...) decision. This suggests that practical and non-observational knowledge is not essential to intentional action as such, since a theory of intentional action ought to be able to make sense of such paradigm cases of joint intentional action as well as cases of singular intentional action. Existing attempts to extend the self-knowledge view to joint intentional action face an unfortunate trilemma. These attempts must (i) require that participants have non-observational knowledge of each other’s non-observational knowledge, which in turn requires that the participants are either really one and the same agent, or that they are, for all relevant purposes, clones of each other; (ii) limit their explanatory scope to intentional actions performed by groups with a single decision maker at the top of an organisational hierarchy, which arguably are not really shared or jointly performed; or (iii) require that the intention of the group is the result of a public representational act that the group members will have observational knowledge of in a way that is incompatible with a core commitment of the self-knowledge view. I argue that each of these options is unacceptable given a self-knowledge view of intentional action. (shrink)
(Forthcoming pending external review) -/- It’s commonly held that particular moral facts are explained by ‘natural’ or ‘descriptive’ facts, though there’s disagreement over how such explanations work. We defend the view that general moral principles also play a role in explaining particular moral facts. More specifically, we argue that this view best makes sense of some intuitive data points, including the supervenience of the moral upon the natural. We consider two alternative accounts of the nature and structure of moral principles—’the (...) nomic view’ and ‘moral platonism’—before considering in what sense such principles obtain of necessity. (shrink)
According to the standard version of the counterfactual comparative account of harm, an event is overall harmful for an individual if and only if she would have been on balance better off if it had not occurred. This view faces the “preemption problem.” In the recent literature, there are various ingenious attempts to deal with this problem, some of which involve slight additions to, or modifications of, the counterfactual comparative account. We argue, however, that none of these attempts work, and (...) that the preemption problem continues to haunt the counterfactual comparative account. (shrink)
In 'Joint Action and Development', Stephen Butterfill argues that if several agents' actions are driven by what he calls a "shared goal"—a certain pattern of goal-relations and expectations—then these actions constitute a joint action. This kind of joint action is sufficiently cognitively undemanding for children to engage in, and therefore has the potential to play a part in fostering their understanding of other minds. Part of the functional role of shared goals is to enable agents to choose means that are (...) appropriate to realising a goal with others rather than individually. By offering a counterexample, I show that the pattern of goal-relations and expectations specified by Butterfill cannot play this role. I then provide an appropriately conceptually and cognitively undemanding amendment with which the account can be saved. (shrink)
Most reductionist accounts of intentional joint action include a condition that it must be common knowledge between participants that they have certain intentions and beliefs that cause and coordinate the joint action. However, this condition has typically simply been taken for granted rather than argued for. The condition is not necessary for ensuring that participants are jointly responsible for the action in which each participates, nor for ensuring that each treats the others as partners rather than as social tools. It (...) is thus something of a mystery why the condition is so widely accepted. By rejecting three arguments that could potentially support it, I argue that reductionists should get rid of the condition. I show that two of the arguments fail. While the third argument is intuitively compelling, it builds on key premises that are unavailable to the reductionist. (shrink)
According to a widely accepted constraint on the content of intentions, here called the exclusivity constraint, one cannot intend to perform another agent’s action, even if one might be able to intend that she performs it. For example, while one can intend that one’s guest leaves before midnight, one cannot intend to perform her act of leaving. However, Deborah Tollefsen’s (2005) account of joint activity requires participants to have intentions-in-action (in John Searle’s (1983) sense) that violate this constraint. I argue (...) that the exclusivity constraint should not be accepted as an unconditional constraint on the contents of intentions-in-action: one may intend to perform a basic action that belongs both to oneself and to another agent. Based on the phenomenology of tool use, I first argue that intentions-in-action of one’s basic actions may be technologically extended, meaning that their contents are not restricted to concern the agent’s bodily movements. In analogy with this, I then argue that the phenomenology of some skillful joint activities supports the idea that one’s basic intentions-in-action may be socially extended, in violation of the widely accepted exclusivity constraint. Tollefsen’s account is specifically constructed to account for the joint activities of infants and toddlers who lack the capacity to think of others as planning agents and grasp their plan-like intentions (a capacity required by Michael Bratman’s (1992, 1993, 2009a, b) influential account of joint activity). At the end of the paper, I raise some doubts regarding the extent to which infants and toddlers have socially extended intentions-in-action. (shrink)
A prominent objection to the counterfactual comparative account of harm is that it classifies as harmful some events that are, intuitively, mere failures to benefit. In an attempt to solve this problem, Duncan Purves has recently proposed a novel version of the counterfactual comparative account, which relies on a distinction between making upshots happen and allowing upshots to happen. In this response, we argue that Purves’s account is unsuccessful. It fails in cases where an action makes the subject occupy a (...) high well-being level though one of the available alternatives would have made it even higher. In fact, it fails even in some cases where each of the available alternatives to the action that was actually performed would have made the subject’s well-being level lower. (shrink)
What is required for several agents to intentionally \ together? I argue that each of them must believe or assume that their \-ing is a single end that each intends to contribute to. Various analogies between intentional singular action and intentional joint action show that this doxastic single end condition captures a feature at the very heart of the phenomenon of intentional joint action. For instance, just as several simple actions are only unified into a complex intentional singular activity if (...) the agent believes or assumes that there is a single end that each action is directed to, so several agents’ actions are only unified into an intentional joint activity if each agent believes or assumes that there is a single end that each intends to contribute to. Influential accounts of intentional joint action, including Christopher Kutz’s and Michael Bratman’s, implicitly include this condition only if participants must intend to contribute to the end under the same conception. While such a requirement successfully rules out some counterexamples, it also makes the accounts unable to appropriately accommodate and explain clear cases of intentional joint action that they ought to be able to accommodate and explain. (shrink)
In this paper, we critically examine Molly Gardner’s favored solution to what she calls “the problem of justified harm.” We argue that Gardner’s view is false and that her arguments in support of it are unconvincing. Finally, we briefly suggest an alternative solution to the problem which avoids the difficulties that beset Gardner’s proposal.
According to we-mode accounts of collective intentionality, an experience is a "we-experience"—that is, part of a jointly attentional episode—in virtue of the way or mode in which the content of the experience is given to the subject of experience. These accounts are supposed to explain how a we-experience can have the phenomenal character of being given to the subject "as ours" rather than merely "as my experience" (Zahavi 2015), and do so in a relatively conceptually and cognitively undemanding way. Galotti (...) and Frith (2013) and Schmitz (2017) present we-mode accounts that are supposed to, in particular, avoid the need for the subjects of experience to have common knowledge of each other’s perceptual beliefs. In this paper, drawing in part on Schutz’s (1932/1967; 1953) writings on "the pure We-relationship", I argue that appeal to a we-mode does not render common knowledge unnecessary. To explain when we-experiences are veridical, we-mode accounts must (i) explain how a we-experience can enable rational interpersonal coordination in some high-risk situations and (ii) explain why what is experienced is "out in the open" between the subjects of the we-experience. To do this, proponents of we-mode accounts need an account of common knowledge. In addition, they must explain why certain inferences hold between we-mode and I-mode attitudes. In light of this, we-mode accounts fare no better than content accounts in illuminating how basic forms of collective intentionality are possible. (shrink)
Philosophical accounts of joint action are often prefaced by the observation that there are two different senses in which several agents can intentionally perform an action Φ, such as go for a walk or capture the prey. The agents might intentionally Φ together, as a collective, or they might intentionally Φ in parallel, where Φ is distributively assigned to the agents, considered as a set of individuals. The accounts are supposed to characterise what is distinctive about activities in which several (...) agents intentionally Φ collectively rather than distributively. This dualism between joint and parallel action also crops up outside philosophy. For instance, it has been imported into a debate about whether or not group hunting among chimpanzees is a form of joint cooperative hunting. I offer an account of a form of joint action that falls short of what most philosophers take to be required for genuine joint action, but which is not merely parallel activity. This shows that the dualism between the genuinely joint and the merely parallel is false. I offer my account as an explication of an influential definition of “cooperative behaviour” given by the primatologists Christophe and Hedwig Boesch. (shrink)
Another look is taken at the model assumptions involved in William Dembski’s (2002a, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence. Roman & Littlefield, Lanham, MA) use of the NFL theorems from optimization theory to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, and his argument is shown to be irrelevant to evolutionary biology.
In this article I argue against Schroeder's account of the weight of normative reasons. It is shown that in certain cases an agent may have reasons she cannot know about without them ceasing to be reasons, and also reasons she cannot know about at all. Both possibilities are troubling for Schroeder's view.
According to the standard story given by reductive versions of the Causal Theory of Action, an action is an intrinsically mindless bodily movement that is appropriately caused by an intention. Those who embrace this story typically take this intention to have a coarse-grained content, specifying the action only down to the level of the agent's habits and skills. Markos Valaris argues that, because of this, the standard story cannot make sense of the deep reach of our non-observational knowledge of action. (...) He concludes that we therefore have to jettison its conception of actions as mindless bodily movements animated from the outside by intentions. Here we defend the standard story. We can make sense of the reach of non-observational knowledge of action once we reject the following two assumptions: that an intended habitual or skilled action is a so-called basic action—that is, an action that doesn't involve any finer-grained intentions—and that an agent, in acting, is merely executing one intention rather than a whole hierarchy of more or less fine-grained intentions. We argue that and are false. (shrink)
The view that an agent’s cognitive processes sometimes include proper parts found outside the skin and skull of the agent is gaining increasing acceptance in philosophy of mind. One main empirical touchstone for this so-called active externalism is Edwin Hutchins’ theory of distributed cognition (DCog). However, the connection between DCog and active externalism is far from clear. While active externalism is one component of DCog, the theory also incorporates other related claims, which active externalists may not want to take on (...) board. DCog implies a shift away from an organism-centred cognitive science to a focus on larger socio-technical-cum-cognitive systems. In arguing for this shift, proponents of DCog seem to accept that socio-cultural systems have some form of agency apart from the agencies of the individuals inside them. I will tentatively suggest a way in which such a notion of agency can be cashed out. (shrink)
According to many popular views in normative ethics, meta-ethics and axiology, facts about what we ought to do or what is good for us depend on facts about the attitudes that some agent would have in some relevant idealized circumstances. This paper presents an unrecognized structural problem for such views which threatens to be devastating.
Critics argue that non-cognitivism cannot adequately account for the existence and nature of some thick moral concepts. They use the existence of thick concepts as a lever in an argument against non-cognitivism, here called the Thick Concept Argument (TCA). While TCA is frequently invoked, it is unfortunately rarely articulated. In this paper, TCA is first reconstructed on the basis of John McDowell’s formulation of the argument (from 1981), and then evaluated in the light of several possible non-cognitivist responses. In general, (...) TCA assumes too much about what a non-cognitivist is (or must be) committed to. There are several non-cognitivist theories, and only some fit the view attacked by TCA. Furthermore, TCA rests on a contestable intuition about a thought experiment, here called the External Standpoint Experiment (ESE). It is concluded that TCA is remarkably weak, given how frequently the argument is invoked. (shrink)
This essay discusses the ways in which `Mode 1' and `Mode 2' interact, by reviewing the development of research funding in Sweden during the twentieth century. It argues that `Mode 2' has been the traditional mode of practice. `Mode 1' is a post-war phenomenon, but it is presently the dominant layer of Swedish publicly-funded science and science policy. This essay argues that we are seeing not an increase in uncertainty, but rather a decreasing tolerance of uncertainty.
This paper is a review of the nine chapters more directly concerned with philosophy of the volume Jaina Scriptures and Philosophy. Edited in 2015 by Peter Flügel and Olle Qvarnström, this interdisciplinary volume in philosophy, philology, linguistics, literary studies and history is presented as an essential contribution to the study of Jaina philosophy inasmuch as it offers a collection of cutting-edge analyses on the emergence and development of philosophical concepts such as the Self and its epistemic faculties, with a (...) focus on early Jaina canonical literature and commentaries thereof. (shrink)
In this paper, I will discuss some aspects of the Swedish policy to reduce pesticide use by 50%, a decision that has attracted great interest and may sometimes have been over-advertised. It has also been followed by similar programmes in other countries such as Denmark, Holland and Canada, What are the cultural and political backgrounds? What is general and what is specifically swedish? Why did the demand for this decision first occur in Sweden, where the problems concerning pesticide use are (...) much less pronounced than in many other countries and agricultural areas? Does the Swedish policy imply a new approach with completely different conditions for pesticide use, or should it preferably be described as an adaptation to what modern pesticide and agricultural technology can achieve? (shrink)