Different versions of moral projectivism are delineated: minimal, metaphysical, nihilistic, and noncognitivist. Minimal projectivism (the focus of this paper) is the conjunction of two subtheses: (1) that we experience morality as an objective aspect of the world and (2) that this experience has its origin in an affective attitude (e.g., an emotion) rather than in perceptual faculties. Both are empirical claims and must be tested as such. This paper does not offer ideas on any specific test procedures, but (...) rather undertakes the important preliminary task of clarifying the content of these subtheses (e.g., what is meant by "objective"? what is meant by "experience"?). Finally, attention is given to the relation between (a) acknowledging that the projectivist account might be true of a token moral judgment and (b) maintaining moral projectivism to be true as a general thesis. (shrink)
This paper proposes a subjectivist approach to color within the framework of an externalist form of representationalism about phenomenal consciousness. Motivations are presented for accepting both representationalism and color subjectivism, and an argument is offered against the case made by Michael Tye on behalf of the claim that colors are objective, physical properties of objects. In the face of the considerable difficulties associated with finding a workable realist theory of color, the alternative account of color experience set out, projectivist representationalism, (...) claims that the color properties we encounter in experience exist only in the representational contents of our experiences. Color experiences are caused by the physical structure of objects, but objects are never actually colored and color experiences systematically misrepresent objects as colored. However, despite being an error theory of color, projectivist representationalism does not do violence to our everyday use and understanding of color concepts and terms, nor does it undermine the role of color experience in aiding the perceiving subject in navigating through the world. (shrink)
From David Hume onwards, many philosophers have argued that moral thinking is characterized by a tendency to “project” our own mental states onto the world. This metaphor of projection may be understood as involving two empirical claims: the claim that humans experience morality as a realm of objective facts (the experiential hypothesis), and the claim that this moral experience is immediately caused by affective attitudes (the causal hypothesis). Elsewhere I argued in detail against one form of the experiential hypothesis. My (...) main aim in this paper is to show that, considering recent psychological studies about folk metaethics and the relation between moral judgements and emotions, the causal hypothesis must be considered problematic too. First, the most common argument in favor of the causal hypothesis is based on an implausible premise and a dubious assumption. Second, ordinary people’s moral experience is influenced by a non-affective factor, namely their openness to divergent moral views. And third, projectivism in general and its causal hypothesis in particular might not even hold true for affective moral judgements. This negative assessment of projectivism is significant both for our understanding of moral cognition as an empirical phenomenon and for metaethics. (shrink)
I defend an argument from Lauren Ashwell and Eric Marcus to the effect that the zombie idea is meaningless. I consider whether this idea could be saved from the force of the argument by adopting a projectivist account of third-person consciousness ascriptions. I decide that it cannot, but endorse that account anyway.
This article examines how specific realist and projectivist versions of manipulability theories of causation deal with the problem of objectivity. Does an agent-dependent concept of manipulability imply that conflicting causal claims made by agents with different capacities can come out as true? In defence of the projectivist stance taken by the agency view, I argue that if the agent’s perspective is shown to be uniform across different agents, then the truth-values of causal claims do not vary arbitrarily and, thus, reach (...) a satisfactory level of objectivity. My argument connects Price’s considerations on the situation of deliberation, whose structure, common to all agents, is the same with respect to both decision making and causal claims on a concept inspired by Douglas’s classification of objectivity of thought processes: the perspective of the detached agent. I further argue that, despite his agent-independent concept of intervention, Woodward’s claim of a stronger objectivity standard cannot be achieved, as the relativity of causal concepts to a variable set brings about the issue of the agent’s choice of variables. Consequently, a more permissive objectivity standard applies to both views. (shrink)
Acceptance of Humean Supervenience and the reductive Humean analyses that entail it leads to a litany of inadequately explained conflicts with our intuitions regarding laws and possibilities. However, the non-reductive Humeanism developed here, on which law claims are understood as normative rather than fact stating, can accommodate those intuitions. Rational constraints on such norms provide a set of consistency relations that ground a semantics formulated in terms of factual-normative worlds, solving the Frege-Geach problem of construing unasserted contexts. This set of (...) factual-normative worlds includes exactly the intuitive sets of nomologically possible worlds associated with each possible set of laws. The extension of the semantics to counterfactual and subjunctive conditionals is sketched. Potential objections involving subjectivity, mind-dependence, and non-factuality are discussed. (shrink)
This essay argues that while Hume believes both that morality is grounded in our ordinary moral practices, sentiments, and beliefs, and that moral properties are real, he also holds that ordinary moral thinking involves systematically erroneous beliefs about moral properties. These claims, on their face, seem difficult to square with one another but this paper argues that on Hume’s view, they are reconcilable. The reconciliation is effected by making a distinction between Hume’s descriptive metaethics, that is, his account of vulgar (...) moral thought and discourse, and his revisionary metaethics, that is, his account of how vulgar moral thought and discourse could be reformed so as to no longer involve error. This essay concludes that Hume is a projectivist and an error theorist in descriptive metaethics, while he is a projectivist and a subjectivist in revisionary metaethics. (shrink)
A successful account of the ‘normativity of law’ is meant to inter alia establish how legal requirements come to be morally binding. This question presupposes taking a stance on the metaethical debate about the nature of morality and moral bindingness between the cognitivist and non-cognitivist camps. An overwhelming majority of contemporary legal philosophers have an unspoken adherence to a cognitivist metaethic and the model of normativity of law emerging from it: the impinging model. Consequently, the problematic of the normativity of (...) law is so calibrated as to in limine rule out any putative account of the normativity of law that presupposes a non-cognitivist metaethic: the projectivist model. This paper calls for a recalibration of the problematic of the normativity of law to a metaethically aseptic viewpoint from which the projectivist model is seen as a plausible theoretical contender to the impinging model. It also sets out the philosophical underpinnings of the projectivist model and contrasts it... (shrink)
I argue that a theory according to which some of the content of perception is self-locating gives us the resources to cash out the central thought behind projectivism, without having to go in for an error theory about the projected qualities. I first survey some of the phenomena that might motivate what I take to be the central projectivist thought, and then look at some ways of cashing out just what it would amount to for the thought to be (...) correct. I make some objections to some of the standard sorts of projectivist accounts, and then advocate another way of cashing out the thought that I think, at least in certain cases, does a better job of both capturing the phenomena and underwriting the projectivist idea. (shrink)
Intentionalism debates seek to uncover the relationship between the qualitative aspects of experience—phenomenal character—and the intentionality of the mind. They have been at or near center stage in the philosophy of mind for more than two decades, and in my view need to be reexamined. There are two core distinct intentionalism debates that are rarely distinguished (Sect. 1). Additionally, the characterization of spectrum inversion as involving inverted qualities and constant intentional content is mistaken (Sect. 3). These confusions can be witnessed (...) from an often-ignored and lonely perspective, that of the sense-datum theorist, and in particular of the projectivist (Sect. 2). In my view we have been so wary of sense-datum theory in recent years that we have failed to see that, even if false, it may permit perspectives on intentionalism issues difficult to occupy from other views. (shrink)
Objectivism and projectivism are standardly taken to be incompatible theories of color. Here we argue that this incompatibility is only apparent: objectivism and projectivism, properly articulated so as to deal with basic objections, are in fundamental agreement about the ontology of color and the phenomenology of color perception.
Hume’s projectivist theory of value suggests that (environmental) values are either individually or culturally relative and that intrinsic value ascriptions are incoherent. Previous attempts to avert these implications have typically relied on modified Humean accounts that either universalize human sensitivity to the value of the more-than-human world or that adapt the concept of intrinsic value to suit a world in which all values are projected. While there are merits to these approaches, there is another alternative. Hume’s own moral theory promises (...) to be an even richer source for environmental ethical discourse than previously thought, and this richness is owed in large part to the robustness of Hume’s theory of virtue. (shrink)
This dissertation explores issues in the philosophy of psychology and metaphysics through the lens of the emotion of disgust, and its corresponding property, disgustingness. The first chapter organizes an extremely large body of data about disgust, imposes two constraints any theory must meet, and offers a cognitive model of the mechanisms underlying the emotion. The second chapter explores the evolution of disgust, and argues for the Entanglement thesis: this uniquely human emotion was formed when two formerly distinct mechanisms, one dedicated (...) to monitoring food intake and protecting against poisons, the other dedicated to protecting against parasitic infection, where driven together until they became functionally integrated. The third chapter explores the sorts of acquisition mechanisms that could give rise to the patterns of individual and cultural level variation we find with disgust elicitors. It argues for the Empathic Acquisition thesis, which holds that one important route for the social acquisition and transmission of disgust elicitors is linked to empathic recognition of facial expressions of the emotion. The fourth chapter builds on the Entanglement thesis, and embeds the emotion of disgust in gene-culture coevolutionary theory and the tribal instincts hypothesis. The Co-opt thesis is defended, which maintains that disgust was co-opted to play an important role in our moral psychology, particularly in our cognition of social norms and ethnic boundary markers. In doing so, however, it brings to bear many features initially linked to poisons and parasites. This explains the puzzling and troublesome character of moral judgments linked to disgust. After shifting gears from psychology to metaphysics, the fifth chapter recasts the Humean tradition of projectivism in the terminology of cognitive science. Using examples such as disgust, I argue that a psychologized projectivism is able to make sense of the idea that some properties are projected onto the world, rather than found there to begin with. The final chapter criticizes three other accounts of the property of disgustingness, two inspired by functionalism in the philosophy of color, one inspired by fittingness accounts in metaethics. I argue that none provide nearly as satisfactory account of the property as the psychologized projectivism articulated previously. (shrink)
The paper discusses Rey’s projectivism. It offers an argument against it and in favor of the reliability of introspection. In short, if it is fallible, then at least sometimes it has to be veridical. Therefore, introspection can’t be systematically deceptive. But then, some introspective beliefs are true and at least some phenomenal conscious states exist.
This chapter explores the debate between contemporary projectivists or expressivists, and the advocates of sensibility theory. Both positions are best viewed as forms of sentimentalism — the theory that evaluative concepts must be explicated by appeal to the sentiments. It argues that the sophisticated interpretation of such notions as “true” and “objective” that are offered by defenders of these competing views ultimately undermines the significance of their meta-ethical disputes over “cognitivism” and “realism” about value. Their fundamental disagreement lies in moral (...) psychology; it concerns how best to understand the emotions to which sentimentalist theories must appeal. (shrink)
I try out a tentative hypothesis in speculative philosophy, by sketching a theory of value modelled on John Locke's theory of acquisition. I argue that this theory has all the advantages of Locke's theory of acquisition, but few of its disadvantages. Moreover, it allows us to reconcile two attractive, but apparently incompatible, ideas about value: the real-value idea (that animals, plants, artifacts, and landscapes really are valuable) and the subject-dependence idea (that things have value only in relation to experiencing subjects). (...) As a theory of value, it may be interesting in its own right, but I also argue that it may be of particular interest to theists. (shrink)
What is at stake in the dispute between moral objectivism and subjectivism is how we are to give a rational grounding to ethical first principles or basic commitments. The search is for an explanation of what if anything makes any commitments good. Subjectivisms such as Blackburn's quasi‐realism can give any set of commitments no ‘rational grounding’ in this sense except in considerations about internal consistency. But this is inadequate. Internal consistency is not sufficient for ethical rationality, since a set of (...) obviously bad commitments could be internally consistent. Nor is it necessary, since a set of obviously good commitments could be internally inconsistent. I therefore argue for an objectivist view of the grounding of commitments, taking them to be attitudes which get their rationality, or lack of it, from their responsiveness to natural human needs and well‐being. Since this view is objectivist, it avoids the problems which face subjectivism. (shrink)
How, in pursuit of ontological neutrality, should one talk about values? I propose to say: there are values . Those three words do nothing to define within what kind of conception of a world values are at home. 1 I take it that the ‘realist’ must have more to say about values and their world . I recognize that an ‘anti-realist’ may prefer to talk of value- terms ; I ask him to wait and see whether taking the linguistic turn (...) is the only way to put values in their place. (shrink)
This essay offers a critical appraisal of some claims recently advanced by Crispin Wright and others in support of a response-dispositional (RD) approach to issues in epistemology, ethics, political theory, and philosophy of the social sciences. These claims take a lead from Plato's discussion of the status of moral value-judgements in the Euthyphro and from Locke's account of 'secondary qualities' such as colour, texture and taste. The idea is that a suitably specified description of best opinion (or optimal response) for (...) some given area of discourse will provide all that is needed in the way of objectivity while avoiding the problems raised by anti-realists like Michael Dummett with respect to the existence of truth-values that transcend our utmost powers of recognition or verification. I focus on three main areas - mathematics, morals and constitutional law - and argue that an RD approach falls short in certain crucial respects. That is to say, it works out either as a trivial (tautological) claim to the effect that 'best judgement' cannot - per definiens - diverge from truth under conditions of idealized epistemic warrant, or as an approach that leans strongly towards the anti-realist side of the argument. Thus the promised 'third way' - here as in other present-day contexts of debate - most often carries no substantive implications for our thinking about truth, moral virtue, or justice. Elsewhere, especially when applied to juridical matters, it lays chief stress on the truth-constitutive role of human judgements or responses, and hence the impossibility of appealing to standards of natural justice beyond some existing highest authority or source of constitutional warrant. This point is made with specific reference to recent events surrounding the 'election' (or leverage-into-office) of President George W. Bush. In such cases, I conclude, an RD approach would tend strongly to endorse the view that 'best opinion' - as enshrined, say, in the deliverance of US Supreme Court justices - is the furthest we can get towards an adequate assessment of the moral and political issues. Key Words: anti-realism ethics judgement mathematics political theory realism response-dependence. (shrink)
N. M. L. Nathan's argument that IDP utilitarianism, if universally adopted, is inconsistent, does not succeed. The argument requires that if an IDP utilitarian has only self-regarding desires, then none of these desires can be informed. This rests on a partial misuse of the expression satisfaction of desire. For an individual attempting to realize his self-regarding desires, the satisfaction of the satisfaction of a desire is unmeaning. The naming of an object of the desire is an intrinsic part of the (...) phrase satisfaction of desire. Further, contrary to Nathan's claim, this suggestion does not trivialize IDP utilitarianism. (shrink)
Are there objective moral truths, i.e. things that are morally right, wrong, good, or bad independently of what anybody thinks about them? To answer this question more and more scholars have recently turned to evidence from psychology, neuroscience, cultural anthropology, and evolutionary biology. This book investigates this novel scientific approach in a comprehensive, empirically-focused, and partly meta-theoretical way. It suggests that while it is possible for the empirical sciences to contribute to the moral realism/anti-realism debate, most arguments that have so (...) far been proposed fail (because they misrepresent, cherry-pick, or overlook the invalidity of (parts of) the available scientific evidence). The book’s main chapters address five prominent science-based arguments for or against the existence of objective moral truths: the argument from moral disagreement, the evolutionary debunking argument, the sentimentalist argument, the presumptive argument, and the projectivist argument. Thomas Pölzler investigates in which sense the underlying empirical hypotheses would have to be true in order for these arguments to work, and then shows how the available scientific evidence fails to support them. Finally, he makes suggestions as to how to test these hypotheses in a more valid way. Moral Reality and the Empirical Sciences is an important contribution to the moral realism/anti-realism debate that will appeal to philosophers and scientists interested in moral psychology and metaethics. (shrink)
We construct a presentist semantics on which there are no truth-makers for past and future tensed statements. The semantics is not an expressivist or projectivist one, and is not susceptible to the semantical difficulties that confront such theories. We discuss how the approach handles some standard concerns with presentism.
Faced with the paradox of undermining futures, Humeans have resigned themselves to accounts of chance that severely conflict with our intuitions. However, such resignation is premature: The problem is Humean supervenience (HS), not Humeanism. This paper develops a projectivist Humeanism on which chance claims are understood as normative, rather than fact stating. Rationality constraints on the cotenability of norms and factual claims ground a factual-normative worlds semantics that, in addition to solving the Frege-Geach problem, delivers the intuitive set of possibilia (...) for each chance law. Hence, the account does not entail HS, and the paradox does not arise. A confirmation theory is developed, and the 'principal principle' is justified. (shrink)
The author considers how constructivism, presently known to us essentially as a theory for generating rules of social cooperation, embodies a certain conception of justification that in turn may be thought of as a general theory. It is argued that moral realism and projectivism are by turns platitudinous and unsatisfactory as conceptions of justification; by contrast the general conception of justification in constructivism makes sense of reason giving and coherent rivalry. The author argues that once the right picture of (...) justification is in place, the picture constructivism illustrates or embodies, the problem of moral ontology disappears. (shrink)
The author takes up three metaphysical conceptions of morality — realism, projectivism, constructivism — and the account of justification or reason that makes these pictures possible. It is argued that the right meta-ethical conception should be the one that entails the most plausible conception of reason-giving, rather than by any other consideration. Realism and projectivism, when understood in ways consistent with their fundamental commitments, generate unsatisfactory models of justification; constructivism alone does not. The author also argues for a (...) particular interpretation of how “objective moral obligation” is to be understood within constructivism. (shrink)
What are people who disagree about logic disagreeing about? The paper argues that (in a wide range of cases) they are primarily disagreeing about how to regulate their degrees of belief. An analogy is drawn between beliefs about validity and beliefs about chance: both sorts of belief serve primarily to regulate degrees of belief about other matters, but in both cases the concepts have a kind of objectivity nonetheless.
Interpreters of Hume on causation consider that an advantage of the ‘quasi-realist’ reading is that it does not commit him to scepticism or to an error theory about causal reasoning. It is unique to quasi-realism that it maintains this positive epistemic result together with a rejection of metaphysical realism about causation: the quasi-realist supplies an appropriate semantic theory in order to justify the practice of talking ‘as if’ there were causal powers in the world. In this paper, I problematise the (...) quasi-realist reading of Hume on causation by showing how quasi-realism does not speak to inductive scepticism. I also offer evidence that Hume takes inductive scepticism to result from his theory of causation, and that his scepticism is tied to his rejection of metaphysical causal realism. (shrink)
Are there things that are objectively right, wrong, good, bad, etc.: moral properties that are had independently of what we ourselves, our culture, God or any other subjects think about them? Philosophers have traditionally addressed this question from the “armchair.” In recent years, however, more and more participants of the debate have begun to appeal to evidence from science as well. This thesis examines such novel approaches. In particular, it asks what the empirical sciences can contribute to the moral realism/anti-realism (...) debate. My first aim is to show that it is possible for scientific evidence to bear on the question of the existence of objective moral properties. To see whether such contributions are also likely, I will then consider various prominent particular realist and anti-realist arguments: arguments based on hypotheses about ordinary people’s moral experience, the prevalence and persistence of moral disagreement, the evolution of morality, the relation of moral judgements to emotions, and the projection of values. If true, some of these empirical hypotheses would have metaethical implications. The problem with the arguments is, however, that the available scientific evidence does not support, or even contradicts these hypotheses. Only in ways other than have been suggested so far does the evidence considered in this thesis allow for a substantial metaethical conclusion. Finally, I will show that the relation between the empirical sciences and the question of the reality of moral values is actually much closer than commonly assumed. Not only do scientific hypotheses bear on metaethics, metaethical issues bear on the investigation of scientific hypotheses about morality as well. In order to further increase our understanding of what morality is, philosophers and scientists should therefore join forces and work together more closely than they have done so far. (shrink)
Color subjectivists claim that, despite appearances to the contrary, the world external to the mind is colorless. However, in giving an account of color perception, subjectivists about the nature of perceived color must address the nature of perceived spatial location as well. The argument here will be that subjectivists’ problems with coordinating the metaphysics of perceived color and perceived location render color perception implausibly mysterious. Consequently, some version of color realism, the view that colors are (physical, dispositional, functional, sui generis, (...) or some other) properties of physical objects, is correct. (shrink)
I scrutinize the relationship between the way emotions give rise to modal judgement and the metaphysical necessity we ascribe to the latter. While moral concepts are often described as response-dependent, I propose to analyse them as response-enabled or grokking. I discuss how grokkingness is embedded in the emotional mechanisms that provoke imaginative resistance; how it shapes our manifest image of the world and the place of morality in it; the latter’s deep contingency as contrasted to its metaphysical necessity; and what (...) is essential to a moral outlook notwithstanding deep contingency. (shrink)