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Robert Mark Simpson
University College London
  1. Permissivism and the Arbitrariness Objection.Robert Mark Simpson - 2017 - Episteme 14 (4):519-538.
    Permissivism says that for some propositions and bodies of evidence, there is more than one rationally permissible doxastic attitude that can be taken towards that proposition given the evidence. Some critics of this view argue that it condones, as rationally acceptable, sets of attitudes that manifest an untenable kind of arbitrariness. I begin by providing a new and more detailed explication of what this alleged arbitrariness consists in. I then explain why Miriam Schoenfield’s prima facie promising attempt to answer the (...)
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  2. Indoctrination Anxiety and the Etiology of Belief.Joshua DiPaolo & Robert Mark Simpson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (10).
    People sometimes try to call others’ beliefs into question by pointing out the contingent causal origins of those beliefs. The significance of such ‘Etiological Challenges’ is a topic that has started attracting attention in epistemology. Current work on this topic aims to show that Etiological Challenges are, at most, only indirectly epistemically significant, insofar as they bring other generic epistemic considerations to the agent’s attention. Against this approach, we argue that Etiological Challenges are epistemically significant in a more direct and (...)
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  3.  96
    Tolerating Hate in the Name of Democracy.Amanda Greene & Robert Mark Simpson - 2017 - Modern Law Review 80 (4):746-65.
    This article offers a comprehensive and critical analysis of Eric Heinze’s book Hate Speech and Democratic Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2016). Heinze’s project is to formulate and defend a more theoretically complex version of the idea (also defended by people like Ronald Dworkin and James Weinstein) that general legal prohibitions on hate speech in public discourse compromises the state’s democratic legitimacy. We offer a detailed synopsis of Heinze’s view, highlighting some of its distinctive qualities and strengths. We then develop a (...)
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  4. Dignity, Harm, and Hate Speech.Robert Mark Simpson - 2013 - Law and Philosophy 32 (6):701-728.
    This paper examines two recent contributions to the hate speech literature – by Steven Heyman and Jeremy Waldron – which seek a justification for the legal restriction of hate speech in an account of the way that hate speech infringes against people’s dignity. These analyses look beyond the first-order hurts and disadvantages suffered by the immediate targets of hate speech, and consider the prospect of hate speech sustaining complex social structures whose wide-scale operations lower the social status of members of (...)
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  5. Indirect Epistemic Reasons and Religious Belief.Kirk Lougheed & Robert Mark Simpson - 2017 - Religious Studies 53 (2):151-169.
    If believing P will result in epistemically good outcomes, does this generate an epistemic reason to believe P, or just a pragmatic reason? Conceiving of such reasons as epistemic reasons seems to lead to absurdity, e.g. by allowing that someone can rationally hold beliefs that conflict with her assessment of her evidence’s probative force. We explain how this and other intuitively unwelcome results can be avoided. We also suggest a positive case for conceiving of such reasons as epistemic reasons, namely, (...)
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  6. Epistemic Peerhood and the Epistemology of Disagreement.Robert Mark Simpson - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):561-577.
    In disagreements about trivial matters, it often seems appropriate for disputing parties to adopt a ‘middle ground’ view about the disputed matter. But in disputes about more substantial controversies (e.g. in ethics, religion, or politics) this sort of doxastic conduct can seem viciously acquiescent. How should we distinguish between the two kinds of cases, and thereby account for our divergent intuitions about how we ought to respond to them? One possibility is to say that ceding ground in a trivial dispute (...)
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  7.  43
    Climate Change, Cooperation, and Moral Bioenhancement.Toby Handfield, Pei-hua Huang & Robert Mark Simpson - 2016 - Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (2):742-747.
    The human faculty of moral judgment is not well suited to address problems, like climate change, that are global in scope and remote in time. Advocates of ‘moral bioenhancement’ have proposed that we should investigate the use of medical technologies to make human beings more trusting and altruistic, and hence more willing to cooperate in efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. We survey recent accounts of the proximate and ultimate causes of human cooperation in order to assess the (...)
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  8.  30
    Regulating Offense, Nurturing Offense.Robert Mark Simpson - 2018 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 17 (3):235-256.
    Joel Feinberg’s Offense to Others is the most comprehensive contemporary work on the significance of offense in a liberal legal system. Feinberg argues that being offended can impair a person’s liberty, much like a nuisance, and that it is therefore legitimate in principle to regulate conduct because of its offensiveness. In this article, I discuss some overlooked considerations that give us reason to resist Feinberg’s conclusion, even while granting this premise. My key claim is that the regulation of offense can (...)
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  9. Review of Seana Shiffrin, "Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law". [REVIEW]Robert Mark Simpson - 2015 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2015.
    In this review of Seana Shiffrin's 2014 book Speech Matters (Princeton University Press), written for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (see http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/57367-speech-matters-on-lyingmorality-and-the-law/), I critically digest the main themes of Shiffrin's arguments, with a focus on the question of whether her "thinker-based" theory of free speech has different, or more ambivalent, practical implications for free speech policy than she allows.
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  10. Life in Overabundance: Agar on Life-Extension and the Fear of Death.Aveek Bhattacharya & Robert Mark Simpson - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (2):223-236.
    In Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement, Nicholas Agar presents a novel argument against the prospect of radical life-extension. Agar’s argument hinges on the claim that extended lifespans will result in people’s lives being dominated by the fear of death. Here we examine this claim and the surrounding issues in Agar’s discussion. We argue, firstly, that Agar’s view rests on empirically dubious assumptions about human rationality and attitudes to risk, and secondly, that even if those assumptions are granted, (...)
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  11. Dehumanization: Its Operations and its Origins.Robert Mark Simpson - 2016 - Journal of Law and Biosciences 3 (1):178-184.
    Gail Murrow and Richard Murrow offer a novel account of dehumanization, by synthesizing data which suggest that where subject S has a dehumanized view of group G, S‘s neural mechanisms of empathy show a dampened response to the suffering of members of G, and S‘s judgments about the humanity of members of G are largely non-conscious. Here I examine Murrow and Murrow‘s suggestions about how identity-based hate speech bears responsibility for dehumanization in the first place. I identify a distinction between (...)
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  12.  70
    Moral Antitheodicy: Prospects and Problems.Robert Mark Simpson - 2009 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 65 (3):153-169.
    Proponents of the view which I call ‘moral antitheodicy’ call for the theistic discourse of theodicy to be abandoned, because, they claim, all theodicies involve some form of moral impropriety. Three arguments in support of this view are examined: the argument from insensitivity, the argument from detachment, and the argument from harmful consequences. After discussing the merits of each argument individually, I attempt to show that they all must presuppose what they are intended to establish, namely, that the set of (...)
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  13. Avoiding the Afterlife in Theodicy: Victims of Suffering and the Argument From Usefulness.Robert Mark Simpson - 2008 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 13 (2):213-227.
    Contemporary proponents of theodicy generally believe that a theodi­cal reply to the evidential argument from evil must involve some appeal to the afterlife. In Richard Swinburne's writings on theodicy, however, we find two argu­ments that may be offered in opposition to this prevailing view. In this paper, these two arguments - the argument from usefulness and the argument from assumed consent - are explained and evaluated. It is suggested that both of these arguments are rendered ineffective by their failure to (...)
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  14.  47
    Moral Renegades. [REVIEW]Robert Mark Simpson - 2016 - The New Rambler Review 2016.
    This piece is a side-by-side review of two books: Strangers Drowning, by Larissa MacFarquhar, and Doing Good Better, by William MacAskill. Both books are concerned with the question of whether we should try to live as morally good a life as possible. MacAskill thinks the answer is 'yes', and his book is an overview of how the Effective Altruist movement approaches the problem of how to achieve a morally optimal life. MacFarquhar's book is a more descriptive account of the lives (...)
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  15.  93
    Intellectual Agency and Responsibility for Belief in Free-Speech Theory.Robert Mark Simpson - 2013 - Legal Theory 19 (3):307-330.
    The idea that human beings are intellectually self-governing plays two roles in free-speech theory. First, this idea is frequently called upon as part of the justification for free speech. Second, it plays a role in guiding the translation of free-speech principles into legal policy by underwriting the ascriptive framework through which responsibility for certain kinds of speech harms can be ascribed. After mapping out these relations, I ask what becomes of them once we acknowledge certain very general and profound limitations (...)
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  16. Un-Ringing the Bell: McGowan on Oppressive Speech and The Asymmetric Pliability of Conversations.Robert Mark Simpson - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (3):555-575.
    In recent work Mary Kate McGowan presents an account of oppressive speech inspired by David Lewis's analysis of conversational kinematics. Speech can effect identity-based oppression, she argues, by altering 'the conversational score', which is to say, roughly, that it can introduce presuppositions and expectations into a conversation, and thus determine what sort of subsequent conversational 'moves' are apt, correct, felicitous, etc., in a manner that oppresses members of a certain group (e.g. because the suppositions and expectations derogate or demean members (...)
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  17.  31
    Super Soldiers and Technological Asymmetry.Robert Mark Simpson - 2015 - In J. Galliott & M. Lotz (eds.), Super Soldiers: The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications. Ashgate. pp. 81-91.
    In this chapter I argue that emerging soldier enhancement technologies have the potential to transform the ethical character of the relationship between combatants, in conflicts between ‘Superpower’ militaries, with the ability to deploy such technologies, and technologically disadvantaged ‘Underdog’ militaries. The reasons for this relate to Paul Kahn’s claims about the paradox of riskless warfare. When an Underdog poses no threat to a Superpower, the standard just war theoretic justifications for the Superpower’s combatants using lethal violence against their opponents breaks (...)
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    Defining 'Speech': Subtraction, Addition, and Division.Robert Mark Simpson - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 29 (2):457-494.
    In free speech theory ‘speech’ has to be defined as a special term of art. I argue that much free speech discourse comes with a tacit commitment to a ‘Subtractive Approach’ to defining speech. As an initial default, all communicative acts are assumed to qualify as speech, before exceptions are made to ‘subtract’ those acts that don’t warrant the special legal protections owed to ‘speech’. I examine how different versions of the Subtractive Approach operate, and criticise them in terms of (...)
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  19.  43
    Nanotechnologically Enhanced Combat Systems: The Downside of Invulnerability.Robert Mark Simpson & Robert Sparrow - 2014 - In Bert Gordijn & Anthony Mark Cutter (eds.), In Pursuit of Nanoethics. Springer. pp. 89-103.
    In this paper we examine the ethical implications of emerging Nanotechnologically Enhanced Combat Systems (or 'NECS'). Through a combination of materials innovation and biotechnology, NECS are aimed at making combatants much less vulnerable to munitions that pose a lethal threat to soldiers protected by conventional armor. We argue that increasing technological disparities between forces armed with NECS and those without will exacerbate the ethical problems of asymmetric warfare. This will place pressure on the just war principles of jus in bello, (...)
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