The purpose of this paper is to defend G. E. Moore's openquestionargument, understood as an argument directed against analytic reductionism, the view that moral properties are analytically reducible to non-moral properties. In the first section I revise Moore's argument in order to make it as plausible and resistant against objections as possible. In the following two sections I develop the argument further and defend it against the most prominent objections raised against it. (...) The conclusion of my line of reasoning is that the openquestionargument offers the best explanation of our responses to the questions put in the argument, namely that analytic reductionism is mistaken. (shrink)
The article deals with a recent attack by Sam Harris on two famous arguments that purport to establish a gap between factual and evaluative statements—Hume’s Is-Ought Problem and Moore’s OpenQuestionArgument. I present the arguments, analyze the relationship between them and critically assess Harris’ attempt to refute them. I conclude that Harris’ attempt fails.
For more than 100 years, metaethicists have overlooked the best version of G. E. Moore’s OpenQuestionargument. This despite the fact that it appears on the same page of Principia Ethica as his other, weaker versions of the argument. This better OpenQuestionArgument does not rely on introspection of the meanings of ethical terms, and so does not fall to the standard criticisms of Moore. In this paper, I present this ‘new’ (...)OpenQuestionArgument and show that Moore has done to naturalistic ethics something like what Plato’s Euthyphro does to supernaturalistic ethics. (shrink)
A standard strategy for defending a claim of non-identity is one which invokes Leibniz’s Law. (1) Fa (2) ~Fb (3) (∀x)(∀y)(x=y ⊃ (∀P)(Px ⊃ Py)) (4) a=b ⊃ (Fa ⊃ Fb) (5) a≠b In Kalderon’s view, this basic strategy underlies both Moore’s OpenQuestionArgument (OQA) as well as (a variant formulation of) Frege’s puzzle (FP). In the former case, the argument runs from the fact that some natural property—call it “F-ness”—has, but goodness lacks, the (2nd (...) order) property of its being an openquestion whether everything that instantiates it is good to the conclusion that goodness and F-ness are distinct. And in the latter case, the argument runs from the fact that that Hesperus has, but Phosphorus lacks, the property of being believed by the ancient astronomers to be visible in the evening sky to the conclusion that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct. Kalderon argues that both the OQA and FP fail because in neither case is there good reason to believe that both (1) and (2) are true. The reason we are tempted to believe that they are true is because we mistake de dicto claims for de re claims. In order for FP to go through, the truth of the following de re claims needs to be established: FP1) Hesperus was believed by the ancient astronomers to be visible in the evening sky. (shrink)
Moore's OpenQuestionArgument has been heavily debated ever since it was presented over 100 years ago. In the current paper, it is argued that for the realist, and contrary to the received view by many theorists in the debate, the argument in fact lends strong support for non-naturalism. In particular, David Brink's naturalist defense utilizing direct reference theory is scrutinized. It is argued that an application of direct reference to moral kinds, rather than defusing the (...)OpenQuestionArgument, actually underscores the non-naturalist conclusion. The naturalist argument depends heavily on the analogue between natural kinds and moral kinds. It is argued that the OpenQuestionArgument provides prima facie evidence against the idea that moral kinds are natural kinds, and that the naturalist arguments do not overturn this evidence. Moreover, it is argued that similar reasons to those which render direct reference unviable for moral terms also meet two further potential objections against the OpenQuestionArgument, and it is concluded that the argument carries considerable force against the moral naturalist. (shrink)
In Finite and Infinite Goods, Robert Adams defends his metaphysical account that good is resemblance to God via an ‘open-question’ intuition. It is, however, unclear what this intuition amounts to. I give two possible readings: one based on the semantic framework Adams employs, and another based on Adams's account of humankind's epistemological limitations. I argue that neither of these readings achieves Adams's advertised aim.
A century after its publication, G.E. Moore''sPrincipia Ethica stands as one of theclassic statements of anti-naturalism inethics. Moore claimed that the most basic ethicalproperties were denoted by `good'' and `bad'' andthat all naturalist accounts of thoseproperties were inadequate. His open-questionargument aimed to refute any proposedidentification of good with some naturalproperty, and Moore concluded from theargument that good must be a nonnaturalproperty.The received view is that the open-questionargument is a failure. In this paper,my aim is to breathe some life (...) back intoMoore''s argument. My plan for doing so beginsby presenting the standard interpretation ofthe argument and then showing that there isan alternative to that interpretation. Thealternative is not developed at any length byMoore and stands in need of some elaboration. Isuggest a way of elaborating theargument and then show that the standardcriticisms of Moore fail to undermine thisalternative version of the open-questionargument. (shrink)
Someone who knew everything about the world’s physical nature could, apparently, suffer from ignorance about various aspects of conscious experience. Someone who knew everything about the world’s physical and mental nature could, apparently, suffer from moral ignorance. Does it follow that there are ways the world is, over and above the way it is physically or psychophysically? This paper defends a negative answer, based on a distinction between knowing the fact that p and knowing that p. This distinction is made (...) intelligible by reference to criterial connections between the possession of moral or phenomenal knowledge, and the satisfaction of cognitively neutral conditions of desire and experiential history. The existence of such connections in the moral case makes for an efficient dissolution of the so-called moral problem. (shrink)
Ethics . . . [is] partly analysis of what’s meant by ‘good’, ‘ought’, ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘valuable’, etc. And if certain analyses of these are right, then other ethical propositions, ones which aren’t analytic, wouldn’t be philosophical at all, but belong to psychology, sociology, and the theory of evolution.
The essay argues that, on their usual metalinguistic reconstructions, the openquestionargument and Frege’s puzzle are variants of the same argument. Each are arguments to a conclusion about a difference in meaning; each deploy compositionality as a premise; and each deploy a premise linking epistemic features of sentences with their meaning (which, given certain meaning-platonist assumptions, can be interpreted as a universal instantiation of Leibniz’s law). Given these parallels, each is sound just in case the (...) other is. They are, in fact, unsound. The essay first argues that reformulations of these arguments directly in terms of Leibniz’s law are unsound and then that subarguments of the metalinguistic versions are unsound for structurally similar reasons. Finally, given how the theory/observation distinction is deployed in linguistic practice, the meaning-platonist assumptions are shown to be optional. (shrink)
An important and widely-endorsed argument for moral realism is based on alleged parallels between that doctrine and epistemic realism -- roughly the view that there are genuine epistemic facts, facts such as that it is reasonable to believe that astrology is false. I argue for an important disanalogy between moral and epistemic facts. Epistemic facts, but not moral facts, are plausibly identifiable with mere descriptive facts about the world. This is because, whereas the much-discussed moral open-question (...) class='Hi'>argument is compelling, the little-discussed epistemic open-questionargument is not. This paper is a critical notice of Terence Cuneo's The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism (Oxford University Press, 2007). (shrink)
In his excellent introduction to metaethics, Alexander Miller argues that there are affinities between G. E.Moore's open-questionargument and Socrates’ argumentation in Euthyphro dialogue. Miller is also led toask how Moore's argument can be disdained without being unsympathetic to Socrates’ argument. Thispaper answers to Miller's question by showing that the two arguments are quite different. It is also arguedthat the two arguments merit different assessments: one may well appreciate Socrates’ reasoning and yetbe unconvinced by (...) Moore's. (shrink)
This paper considers normative naturalism, understood as the view that (i) normative sentences are descriptive of the way things are, and (ii) their truth/falsity does not require ontology beyond the ontology of the natural world. Assuming (i) for the sake of argument, I here show that (ii) is false not only as applied to ethics, but more generally as applied to practical and epistemic normativity across the board. The argument is a descendant of Moore's OpenQuestion (...)Argument and Hume's Is-Ought Gap. It goes roughly as follows: to ensure that natural ontology suffices for normative truth, there must be semantically grounded entailments from the natural truths to the normative truths. There are none. So natural ontology does not suffice for normative truth. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to assess the relationship between anti-physicalist arguments in the philosophy of mind and anti-naturalist arguments in metaethics, and to show how the literature on the mind-body problem can inform metaethics. Among the questions we will consider are: (1) whether a moral parallel of the knowledge argument can be constructed to create trouble for naturalists, (2) the relationship between such a "Moral Knowledge Argument" and the familiar OpenQuestionArgument, and (...) (3) how naturalists can respond to the Moral Twin Earth argument. We will give particular attention to recent arguments in the philosophy of mind that aim to show that anti-physicalist arguments can be defused by acknowledging a distinctive kind of conceptual dualism between the phenomenal and the physical. This tactic for evading anti-physicalist arguments has come to be known as the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. We will propose a metaethical version of this strategy, which we shall call the `Moral Concept Strategy'. We suggest that the Moral Concept Strategy offers the most promising way out of these anti-naturalist arguments, though significant challenges remain. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard () argues that the term ‘meaning’ expresses a normative concept, primarily on the basis of arguments that parallel Moore's famous OpenQuestionArgument. In this paper I argue that Gibbard's evidence for normativity rests on idiosyncrasies of the OpenQuestionArgument, and that when we use related thought experiments designed to bring out unusual semantic intuitions associated with normative terms we fail to find such evidence. These thought experiments, moreover, strongly suggest there (...) are basic requirements for a theory of meaning incompatible with Gibbard's ultimate goal of providing an expressivist account of meaning-related concepts. I conclude by considering a possible way in which meaning could be normative, consistent with the intuitions about disagreement; but this form of normativism about meaning appears incompatible with Gibbard's expressivism. (shrink)
The paper reconstructs Moore's OpenQuestionArgument (OQA) and discusses its rise and fall. There are three basic objections to the OQA: Geach's point, that Moore presupposes that ?good? is a predicative adjective (whereas it is in fact attributive); Lewy's point, that it leads straight to the Paradox of Analysis; and Durrant's point that even if 'good' is not synonymous with any naturalistic predicate, goodness might be synthetically identical with a naturalistic property. As against Geach, I argue (...) that 'good' has both predicative and attributive uses and that in moral contexts it is difficult to give a naturalistic account of the attributive 'good'. To deal with Lewy, I reformulate the OQA. But the bulk of the paper is devoted to Durrant's objection. I argue that the post-Moorean programme of looking for synthetic identities between moral and naturalistic properties is either redundant or impossible. For it can be carried through only if 'good' expresses an empirical concept, in which case it is redundant since naturalism is true. But 'good' does not express an empirical concept (a point proved by the reformulated OQA). Hence synthetic naturalism is impossible. I discuss direct reference as a possible way out for the synthetic naturalist and conclude that it will not work. The OQA may be a bit battered but it works after a fashion. (shrink)
I have two aims in this paper. In §§2-4 I contend that Moore has two arguments (not one) for the view that that ‘good’ denotes a non-natural property not to be identified with the naturalistic properties of science and common sense (or, for that matter, the more exotic properties posited by metaphysicians and theologians). The first argument, the Barren Tautology Argument (or the BTA), is derived, via Sidgwick, from a long tradition of anti-naturalist polemic. But the second (...) class='Hi'>argument, the OpenQuestionArgument proper (or the OQA), seems to have been Moore’s own invention and was probably devised to deal with naturalistic theories, such as Russell’s, which are immune to the Barren Tautology Argument. The OQA is valid and not (as Frankena (1939) has alleged) question-begging. Moreover, if its premises were true, it would have disposed of the desire-to-desire theory. But as I explain in §5, from 1970 onwards, two key premises of the OQA were successively called into question, the one because philosophers came to believe in synthetic identities between properties and the other because it led to the Paradox of Analysis. By 1989 a philosopher like Lewis could put forward precisely the kind of theory that Moore professed to have refuted with a clean intellectual conscience. However, in §§6-8 I shall argue that all is not lost for the OQA. I first press an objection to the desire-to-desire theory derived from Kripke’s famous epistemic argument. On reflection this argument looks uncannily like the OQA. But the premise on which it relies is weaker than the one that betrayed Moore by leading to the Paradox of Analysis. This suggests three conclusions: 1) that the desire-to-desire theory is false; 2) that the OQA can be revived, albeit in a modified form; and 3) that the revived OQA poses a serious threat to what might be called semantic naturalism. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to critically assess the idea that reasons for action are provided by desires (the Model). I start from the claim that the most often employed meta-ethical background for the Model is ethical naturalism; I then argue against the Model through its naturalist background. For the latter purpose I make use of two objections that are both intended to refute naturalism per se. One is G. E. Moore’s OpenQuestionArgument (OQA), the (...) other is Derek Parfit’s Triviality Objection (TO). I show that naturalists might be able to avoid both objections in case they can vindicate the reduction proposed. This, however, leads to further conditions whose fulfillment is necessary for the success of vindication. I deal with one such condition, which I borrow from Peter Railton and Mark Schroeder: the demand that naturalist reductions must be tolerably revisionist. In the remainder of the paper I argue that the most influential versions of the Model are intolerably revisionist. The first problem concerns the picture of reasons many recent formulations of the Model advocate. By using an objection from Michael Bedke I show that on this interpretation obvious reasons won’t be accounted for by the Model. The second problem concerns idealization that is also often part of the Model. Invoking an argument by Connie Rosati, I show that the best form of idealization, the ideal advisor account, is inadequate. Hence, though not knock down arguments as they were intended to be, OQA and TO do pose a serious threat to the Model. (shrink)
This chapter offers an introduction to naturalist views in contemporary metaethics. Such views attempt to find a place for normative properties (such as goodness and rightness) in the concrete physical world as it is understood by both science and common sense. The chapter begins by introducing simple naturalist conceptual analyses of normative terms. It then explains how these analyses were rejected in the beginning of the 20th Century due to G.E. Moore’s influential OpenQuestionArgument. After this, (...) the chapter considers what good general reasons there are for defending naturalism in metaethics. The bulk of the chapter will then survey new semantic and metaphysical forms of naturalism which in different ways attempt to address Moore’s objection to naturalism. These more recent versions of naturalism—using new resources from philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of science and epistemology—attempt to explain why the OpenQuestionArgument fails. (shrink)
A 27000 word survey of Russell’s ethics for the SEP. I argue that Russell was a meta-ethicist of some significance. In the course of his long philosophical career, he canvassed most of the meta-ethical options that have dominated debate in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries — naturalism, non-naturalism, emotivism and the error-theory (anticipating Stevenson and Ayer on the one hand and Mackie on the other), and even, to some extent, subjectivism and relativism. And though none of his theories quite worked (...) out, there is much to be learned from his mistakes. Nor is this all. His ARGUMENTS as well as his THEORIES are often interesting and instructive. The ethical corollary to the argument of ‘Seems Madam? Nay, It Is,’ puts the kybosh on any attempt to resolve Sidgwick's Dualism of Practical Reason by arguing that although we are distinct beings with different interests in the world of Appearance, we are, in Reality, all one (§3). Russell's arguments against objectivism are often quite powerful, and one anticipates Gilbert Harman's influential argument that objective values can be safely dismissed since they lack explanatory power (§9.3-9.4). Russell's damning critique of Moore's analytic consequentialism led Moore to abandon the view and perhaps to give up his ‘unduly anti-reforming’ moral conservatism. Moreover Russell's INDIRECT influence on meta-ethics may have been profound since the OpenQuestionArgument, was probably invented to deal with Russell's ideas. Finally, in the realm of normative ethics, Russell developed a sensible and humane version of consequentialism, which (despite its shaky meta-ethical foundations) is resistant, if not immune, to many of the standard criticisms, especially if combined — as Russell thought it should be combined — with a healthy dose of political skepticism. It provides a powerful tool for social and political criticism, a tool which Russell vigorously employed on a vast range of topics in his writings on practical ethics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT According to G.E. Moore’s ‘OpenQuestion’ argument, moral facts cannot be reduced or analyzed in non-normative natural terms. Does the OQA apply equally in the epistemic domain? Does Moore’s argument have the same force against reductionist accounts of epistemic facts and concepts? In a recent article, Daniel Greco has argued that it does. According to Greco, an epistemological version of the OQA is just as promising as its moral cousin, because the relevant questions in epistemology (...) are just as ‘open’ as those in ethics. In this paper, I offer a two-part reply to Greco. First, I argue that his argument in favor of the openness of epistemology is not persuasive. Second, I offer a case against the openness of epistemology. Unlike claims linking natural and moral properties, claims linking natural and epistemological properties do give rise to closed questions. An epistemological OQA is therefore not as promising as its moral cousin. (shrink)
What views are the primary target of Moore’s fallacy and his openquestionargument? A common answer, I suspect, would be naturalistic approaches to morality. It is the naturalistic fallacy, after all. But in fact both his fallacy and his argument apply just as straightforwardly to supernatural approaches to morality as well. In this chapter, I focus specifically on how philosophers of religion have tried to grounds morality in God in ways that are clearly relevant to (...) Moore’s project. (shrink)
Are we perhaps in the "matrix", or anyway, victims of perfect and permanent computer simulation? No. The most convincing—and shortest—version of Putnam's argument against the possibility of our eternal envattment is due to Crispin Wright (1994). It avoids most of the misunderstandings that have been elicited by Putnam's original presentation of the argument in "Reason, Truth and History" (1981). But it is still open to the charge of question-begging. True enough, the premisses of the argument (...) (disquotation and externalism) can be formulated and defended without presupposing external objects whose existence appears doubtful in the light of the very skeptical scenario which Putnam wants to repudiate. However, the argument is only valid if we add an extra premiss as to the existence of some external objects. In order to avoid circularity, we should run the argument with external objects which must exist even if we are brains in a vat, e.g. with computers rather than with trees. As long as the skeptic is engaged in a discussion of the brain-in-a-vat scenario, she should neither deny the existence of computers nor the existence of causal relations; for if she does, she is in fact denying that we are brains in a vat. (shrink)
The relevance of Kant to Plessner’s work was long all but ignored and there is hardly any mention of Plessner in the Kant literature. The Plessner renaissance beginning in the 1990s, however, has brought with it a stronger focus on the methodological construction of his theory, so that the Kant connection has at least been acknowledged, but the particular relevance of Kant’s Critique of Judgement has not been systematically explicated. In this essay, I investigate the connection between Kant’s notion of (...) reflective—specifically teleological—judgment and Plessner’s theory. I begin by setting out the characteristics of teleological judgment, with two points being of particular importance: the temporal structure of the final cause and Kant’s reference to an understanding other than the human, that is, to an ordering power other than the human. In a second step, I work out Plessner’s conceptualization of the spatiotemporal appearance of organisms and the way he understands the other of human understanding as nature’s—or history’s—historically evolved and mutable capacity for self-order. He arrives at these conclusions by way of a methodologically controlled process of questioning derived from Kant, which he calls the “principle of the openquestion.”. (shrink)
The Consequence Argument has elicited various responses, ranging from acceptance as obviously right to rejection as obviously problematic in one way or another. Here we wish to focus on one specific response, according to which the Consequence Argument begs the question. This is a serious accusation that has not yet been adequately rebutted, and we aim to remedy that in what follows. We begin by giving a formulation of the Consequence Argument. We also offer some tentative (...) proposals about the nature of begging the question. Although the charge of begging the question is frequently made in philosophy, it is surprisingly difficult to pin down the precise nature of this dialectical infelicity (or family of such infelicities). Thus we offer some new proposals about the nature of begging the question with an eye to understanding what is going on in central cases in which the charge is legitimately made. We then defend the Consequence Argument against the charge that it begs the question, so construed. We contend that, whatever the other liabilities of the argument may be, it does not beg the question against the compatibilist. (shrink)
I assume that there exists a general phenomenon, the phenomenon of the explanatory gap, surrounding consciousness, normativity, intentionality, and more. Explanatory gaps are often thought to foreclose reductive possibilities wherever they appear. In response, reductivists who grant the existence of these gaps have offered countless local solutions. But typically such reductivist responses have had a serious shortcoming: because they appeal to essentially domain-specific features, they cannot be fully generalized, and in this sense these responses have been not just local but (...) parochial. Here I do better. Taking for granted that the explanatory gap is a genuine phenomenon, I offer a fully general diagnosis that unifies these previously fragmented reductivist responses. (shrink)
The history of philosophy can be seen either as a contribution to history or a contribution to philosophy or perhaps as a bit of both. Hutchinson fail on both counts. The book is bad: bad in itself (since it quite definitely ought not to be) and bad as a companion to Principia (since it sets students a bad example of slapdash, lazy and pretentious philosophizing and would tend to put them off reading Moore). As a conscientious reviewer I ploughed through (...) every page and I have to say that I resented every minute of my life that I wasted on the book. Don’t waste any of yours. (shrink)
What makes you happy? Should you always do what is best for you, or what is best for everyone? What is the meaning of life – and how are we supposed to think about it? Should sacrifices be made to help future generations? This Is Ethics presents an accessible and engaging introduction to a variety of issues relating to contemporary moral philosophy. It reveals the intimate connection between timeless philosophical problems about right and wrong and offers timely and thought-provoking insights (...) on everyday practical concerns. Initial chapters focus on how philosophy can help us to think more clearly about how we can live happy and meaningful lives. Subsequent chapters address general ethical theories about what is right and wrong, followed by metaethical questions such as whether morality is relative and how we are motivated to do the right thing. A final series of chapters discuss moral responsibility, population growth, and climate change. Lively and engaging, This Is Ethics provides a solid foundation for making informed ethical decisions in today’s increasingly complex world. (shrink)
A critical survey of various positions on the nature, use, possession, and analysis of normative concepts. We frame our treatment around G.E. Moore’s OpenQuestionArgument, and the ways metaethicists have responded by departing from a Classical Theory of concepts. In addition to the Classical Theory, we discuss synthetic naturalism, noncognitivism (expressivist and inferentialist), prototype theory, network theory, and empirical linguistic approaches. Although written for a general philosophical audience, we attempt to provide a new perspective and highlight (...) some underappreciated problems about normative concepts. (shrink)
This article attacks “open systems” arguments that because constant conjunctions are not generally observed in the real world of open systems we should be highly skeptical that universal laws exist. This work differs from other critiques of open system arguments against laws of nature by not focusing on laws themselves, but rather on the inference from open systems. We argue that open system arguments fail for two related reasons; 1) because they cannot account for the (...) “systems” central to their argument (nor the implied systems labeled “exogenous factors” in relation to the system of interest) and 2) they are nomocentric, fixated on laws while ignoring initial and antecedent conditions that are able to account for systems and exogenous factors within a fundamentalist framework. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a growing interest among mainstream Anglophone moral philosophers in the empirical study of human morality, including its evolution and historical development. This chapter compares these developments with an earlier point of contact between moral philosophy and the moral sciences in the early decades of the Twentieth century, as manifested in some of the less frequently discussed arguments of G. E. Moore and W. D. Ross. It is argued that a critical appreciation of Moore and (...) Ross’s response to the emerging moral sciences of their day has significant implications for contemporary moral epistemology. The chapter also offers a novel interpretation of G. E. Moore’s ‘openquestionargument’. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to critically assess the idea that reasons for action are provided by desires. I start from the claim that the most often employed meta-ethical background for the Model is ethical naturalism; I then argue against the Model through its naturalist background. For the latter purpose I make use of two objections that are both intended to refute naturalism per se. One is G.E. Moore’s OpenQuestionArgument, the other is Derek Parfit’s (...) Triviality Objection. I show that naturalists might be able to avoid both objections if they can vindicate the reduction proposed. This, however, leads to further conditions whose fulfillment is necessary for the success of the vindication. I deal with one such condition, which I borrow from Peter Railton and Mark Schroeder:the demand that naturalist reductions must be tolerably revisionist. In the remainder of the paper I argue that the most influential versions of the Model are intolerably revisionist. The first problem concerns the picture of reasons that many recent formulations of the Model advocate. By using an objection from Michael Bedke, I show that on this interpretation obvious reasons won’t be accounted for by the Model. The second problem concerns the idealization that is also often part of the Model. Invoking an argument of Connie Rosati’s, I show that the best form of idealization, the ideal advisor account, is inadequate. Hence, though not the knock down arguments they were intended to be, OQA and TO do pose a serious threat to the Model. (shrink)
This essay examines Joseph Carens' open borders argument in the light of a case study of recent Somali migrants to the UK. It argues that, although arguments for significantly more open borders are compelling, they must take into account existing domestic injustice in receiving states as well as existing global injustice.
In 1981, Paris and Wilkie raised the openquestion about whether and to what extent the axiom system did satisfy the Second Incompleteness Theorem under Semantic Tableaux deduction. Our prior work showed that the semantic tableaux version of the Second Incompleteness Theorem did generalize for the most common definition of appearing in the standard textbooks.However, there was an alternate interesting definition of this axiom system in the Wilkie–Paris article in the Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 35 , (...) pp. 261–302 which we did not examine in our year-2002 article in the Journal of Symbolic Logic. Our first goal is to show that the incompleteness results of our prior paper can generalize in this alternate context. We will also develop a formal analysis, using a new technique called Passive Induction, that is simpler than the formalism we had used before.A further reason our results are of interest is that we have shown in a companion paper published in Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 165 , pp. 213–226 that some very unorthodox axiomizations for are anti-thresholds for the Herbrandized version of the Second Incompleteness Theorem. Thus, different axiomizations for have nearly fully opposite incompleteness properties.This paper is self-contained. It will not require a knowledge of our earlier results. (shrink)
James Sterba describes the egoist as thinking only egoist reasons decide the rationality of choices of action, the altruist, only altruistic reasons, that each in effect begs the question of what reasons there are against the other, and that the only non-question-begging and therefore rationally defensible position in this controversy is the middle-ground position that high-ranking egoistic reasons should trump low ranking-altruistic considerations and vice versa, this position being co-extensive with morality. Therefore it is rationally obligatory choose morally. (...) I object that the mere fact that a position is intermediate between two extremes does not mean it isn’t question-begging; that Sterba’s style of argument could be used to prove anything and therefore proves nothing; that it can be used to prove obvious falsehoods and therefore doesn’t necessarily track the truth; that it can be used to prove the truth of contingent, empirically obvious falsehoods when, since it is necessary a prior that one ought to be moral, something can be a good argument for the rationality of morality only if the argument’s style would entail only truths necessary a priori; that Sterba’s argument cannot inherit plausibility from what Sterba describes as the decision theoretic idea that when choosing among options where we have no evidence that one is more appropriate than the other, we must treat them as equally choice-worthy, since there is no such idea in decision theory, and shouldn’t be (for when, for example, there is no evidence that x exists and no evidence that x does not exist, one should believe that x does not exist; one should not chose as if x’s existence and non-existence were equally likely); that Sterba’s argument style is not analogous to the compromise strategies recommended in bargaining theory, nor in negotiating situations (although it would profit Sterba to consider David Gauthier’s approach in seeking to demonstrate that morality is both a middle ground between egoism and altruism, and is rationally obligatory); that it is problematic to see egoistic and altruistic reasons as commensurable and therefore admitting of a middle ground, especially a unique middle ground; that in any case, egoistic and altruistic reasons are not exhaustive of the reasons there could be; that the only sense in which moving to middle ground results in the parties not begging the question against each other is that it means they would be agreeing with each other and therefore not holding positions against each other, whether question-beggingly or otherwise, a fact which offers neither any rationally compelling reason to move her position closer to that of the other (for how can the mere fact that if we agreed we wouldn’t be begging the question against each other be a reason to agree?); and that even if morality is both rationally obligatory and a middle ground between egoism and altruism, it won’t be in any interesting sense true that this holds because the alternative would be question-begging, which means that analyzing the basis of the rationality of morality as being found in this principle of argumentation theory misconceives the nature of morality. (shrink)
I argue that the argument from zombies against physicalism is question-begging unless proponents of the argument from zombies can justify the inference from the metaphysical possibility of zombies to the falsity of physicalism in an independent and non-circular way, i.e., a way that does not already assume the falsity of physicalism.
I find (as others have found) that question-begging is formally valid but rationally unpersuasive. More precisely, it ought to be unpersuasive, although it can often persuade. Despite its formal validity, question-begging fails to establish its conclusion; in this sense it fails under a classical or foundationalist model of argument. But it does link its conclusion to its premises by means of acceptable rules of inference; in this sense it succeeds under a non-classical, non-foundationalist model of argument (...) which is spelled out in the essay. However, even for the latter model question-begging fails to link the conclusion to premises that the unconvinced would find more acceptable than the conclusion. The essay includes reflections on the conditions under which the circularity of mutually supporting claims can avoid question-begging and legitimately be persuasive. (shrink)