The paper presents and discusses the so-called Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem (WKR problem) that arises for the fitting-attitudes analysis of value. This format of analysis is exemplified for example by Scanlon's buck-passing account, on which an object's value consists in the existence of reasons to favour the object- to respond to it in a positive way. The WKR problem can be put as follows: It appears that in some situations we might well have reasons to have pro- (...) class='Hi'>attitudes toward objects that are not valuable. Or vice versa: we might have reasons not to have pro-attitudes toward some valuable objects. The paper goes through several attempts to solve (or dissolve) the WKR problem and argues that none of them is fully satisfactory. (shrink)
According to Fitting Attitude theorists, for something to possess a certain value it is necessary and sufficient that it be fitting (appropriate, or good, or obligatory, or something) to take a certain attitude to the bearer of that value. The idea seems obvious for thick evaluative attributes, but less obvious for the thin evaluative attributes—like goodness, betterness, and degrees of value. This paper is an extended argument for the thesis that the fitting response to the thin evaluative (...) attributes of states is desire, broadly construed. The good is what it is fitting to desire, the bad what it is fitting to be averse to, and the better what it is fitting to prefer. I start with two prominent challenges to the FA schema (Wrong Kinds of Reasons and Solitary Goods). For the FA schema to survive these challenges—along with some developments of them—the fitting response to the goodness of a state has to be a non-factive, non-doxastic representation of the state as good—in other words, an appearance of the goodness that state. That desires and preferences are non-doxastic value appearances is independently attractive, and I argue that this is in fact the simplest hypothesis compatible with the Fitting Attitude approach.FittingAttitudes. (shrink)
The 'fitting-attitudes analysis' aims to analyze evaluative concepts in terms of attitudes, but suffers from the 'wrong kind of reasons' problem. This article critiques some suggested solutions to the WKR problem and offers one of its own, which appeals to the aims of attitudes. However, goodness is not a concept that can be successfully analyzed according to the method suggested here. Reasons are given why goodness should be thought of, instead, as a mind-independent property.
In this paper I argue that Bykvist’s recent challenges to the fitting-attitude account of value (FA) can be successfully met. The challenge from solitary goods claims that FA cannot account for the value of states of affairs which necessarily rule out the presence of favouring subjects. I point out the modal reasons why FA can account for solitary goods by appealing to contemplative attitudes. Bykvist’s second challenge, the ‘distance problem’, questions the ability of FA to match facts about (...) the intensity of fittingattitudes and facts about value, particularly in the case of solitary goods. I argue that this challenge can be met by including the notion of a veil of ignorance in the formulation of FA, and understanding its role as bracketing the relevance of certain facts when determining the fittingness of attitudes to states of affairs. (shrink)
Chris Heathwood has recently put forward a novel and ingenious argument against the view that intrinsic value is analyzable in terms of fittingattitudes. According to Heathwood, this view holds water only if the related but distinct concept of welfare—intrinsic value for a person —can be analyzed in terms of fittingattitudes too. Moreover, he argues against such an analysis of welfare by appealing to the rationality of our bias towards the future. In this paper, I (...) argue that so long as we keep the tenses and the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction right, the fitting-attitudes analysis of welfare can be shown to survive Heathwood’s criticism. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to present a new argument against so-called fitting attitude analyses of intrinsic value, according to which, roughly, for something to be intrinsically good is for there to be reasons to want it for its own sake. The argument is indirect. First, I submit that advocates of a fitting-attitude analysis of value should, for the sake of theoretical unity, also endorse a fitting-attitude analysis of a closely related but distinct concept: the concept (...) of intrinsic value for a person, i.e., the concept of welfare. Then I argue directly against fitting-attitude analyses of welfare. This argument, which is the focus of the paper, is based on the idea that whereas whether an event is good or bad for a person doesn’t change over time, the attitudes there is reason to have towards such an event can change over time. Therefore, one cannot explain the former in terms of the latter, as fitting-attitude analyses of welfare attempt to do. (shrink)
I present and defend (1) an account of ethical judgments as judgments about our reasons to feel specific motivationally laden attitudes, (2) an account of what an agent should do in terms of what would achieve ends that she has reason to be motivated to pursue, and (3) an account of an agent’s reasons for motivation (and thus action) in terms of the prescriptions of the most fundamental principles that guide her deliberations. Using these accounts, I explain the connection (...) between ethics and reasons for action, how ethical judgments are both descriptive and intrinsically motivating, and how ethical facts arise from facts about agents’ deliberations. (shrink)
The Property Theory of attitudes holds that the contents of mental states --- especially de se states --- are properties. The "nonexistence problem" for the Property Theory holds that the theory gives the wrong consequences as to which worlds "fit" which mental states: which worlds satisfy desires, make beliefs true, and so on. If I desire to not exist, since there is no world where I have the property of not existing, my desire is satisfied in no worlds. In (...) this paper I argue that the problem can be solved with a suitable account of how properties as mental states fit worlds. The solution relies on a distinction between to kinds of property-instantiation at worlds inspired by Fine's distinction between "inner" and "outer" truth. (shrink)
Response-dispositional accounts of value defend a biconditional in which the possession of an evaluative property is said to covary with the disposition to cause a certain response. In contrast, a fitting-attitude account of the same property would claim that it is such as to merit or make fitting that same response. This paper argues that even for secondary qualities, response-dispositional accounts are inadequate; we need to import a normative notion such as appropriateness even into accounts of such descriptive (...) properties as redness. A preliminary conclusion is that the normativity that appears in fitting-attitude accounts of evaluative properties need not have anything to do with the evaluative nature of those properties. It may appear there because evaluative properties—or at least thosefor which fitting-attitude accounts are plausible—really are so much like secondary qualities that it might well be appropriate to think of them as a subclass of secondary qualities. In the second half of the paper I discuss the views of three of the philosophers who have been most influential in discussions of response-featuring accounts of evaluative notions and who explicitly distinguish response-dispositional accounts of value from fittingattitude accounts: John McDowell, Simon Blackburn, and Crispin Wright. I highlight some of the theoretical temptations that can be associated with the assumption that the response-dispositional/fitting-attitude distinction parallels the secondary quality/evaluative property distinction. (shrink)
This paper draws on the 'FittingAttitudes' analysis of value to argue that we should take the concept of fittingness (rather than value) as our normative primitive. I will argue that the fittingness framework enhances the clarity and expressive power of our normative theorising. Along the way, we will see how the fittingness framework illuminates our understanding of various moral theories, and why it casts doubt on the Global Consequentialist idea that acts and (say) eye colours are normatively (...) on a par. We will see why even consequentialists, in taking rightness to be in some sense determined by goodness, should not think that rightness is conceptually reducible to goodness. Finally, I will use the fittingness framework to explicate the distinction between consequentialist and deontological theories, with particular attention to the contentious case of Rule Consequentialism. (shrink)
FittingAttitudes accounts of value analogize or equate being good with being desirable, on the premise that ‘desirable’ means not, ‘able to be desired’, as Mill has been accused of mistakenly assuming, but ‘ought to be desired’, or something similar. The appeal of this idea is visible in the critical reaction to Mill, which generally goes along with his equation of ‘good’ with ‘desirable’ and only balks at the second step, and it crosses broad boundaries in terms of (...) philosophers’ other commitments. For example, FittingAttitudes accounts play a central role both in T.M. Scanlon’s  case against teleology, and in Michael Smith , [unpublished] and Doug Portmore’s  cases for it. And of course they have a long and distinguished history. (shrink)
For ambitious metaphysical neo-sentimentalists, all normative facts are grounded in fittingattitudes, where fittingness is understood in naturalistic terms. In this paper, I offer a neo-sentimentalist account of blameworthiness in terms of the reactive attitudes of a morally authoritative subject I label a Nagelian Imp. I also argue that moral impermissibility is indirectly linked to blameworthiness: roughly, an act is morally impermissible if and only if and because it is not *possible* in the circumstances to adopt a (...) plan of performing it without meriting blame, assuming the agent is rational, informed, and meets the conditions of accountability. (shrink)
What is it for a car, a piece of art or a person to be good, bad or better than another? In this first book-length introduction to value theory, Francesco Orsi explores the nature of evaluative concepts used in everyday thinking and speech and in contemporary philosophical discourse. The various dimensions, structures and connections that value concepts express are interrogated with clarity and incision. -/- Orsi provides a systematic survey of both classic texts including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Moore and Ross (...) and an array of contemporary theorists. The reader is guided through the moral maze of value theory with everyday examples and thought experiments. Rare stamps, Napoleon's hat, evil demons, and Kant's good will are all considered in order to probe our intuitions, question our own and philosophers' assumptions about value, and, ultimately, understand better what we want to say when we talk about value. -/- 1. Value and Normativity 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Which Evaluations? 1.3 The Idea of Value Theory 1.4 Value and Normativity 1.5 Overview 1.6 Meta-ethical Neutrality 1.7 Value Theory: The Questions -/- 2. Meet the Values: Intrinsic, Final & Co. 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Final and Unconditional Value: Some Philosophical Examples 2.3 Intrinsic Value and Final Value 2.4 The Reduction to Facts 2.5 Intrinsic and Conditional Value 2.6 Elimination of Extrinsic Value? 2.7 Summary -/- 3. The Challenge against Absolute Value 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Geach and Attributive Goodness 3.3 Foot and the Virtues 3.4 Thomson and Goodness in a Way 3.5 Zimmerman's Ethical Goodness 3.6 A Better Reply: Absolute Value and FittingAttitudes 3.7 Summary -/- 4. Personal Value 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Moore on Good and Good For 4.3 Good For and FittingAttitudes 4.4 Moore Strikes Back? 4.5 Agent-relative Value 4.6 Impersonal/Personal and Agent-neutral/Agent-relative 4.7 Summary -/- 5. The Chemistry of Value 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Supervenience and Other Relations 5.3 Organic Unities 5.4 Alternatives to Organic Unities: Virtual Value 5.5 Alternatives to Organic Unities: Conditional Value 5.6 Holism and Particularism 5.7 Summary -/- 6. Value Relations 6.1 Introduction 6.2 The Trichotomy Thesis and Incomparability 6.3 A Fitting Attitude Argument for Incomparability 6.4 Against Incomparability: Epistemic Limitations 6.5 Against Incomparability: Parity 6.6 Parity and Choice 6.7 Parity and Incomparability 6.8 Summary -/- 7. How Do I Favour Thee? 7.1 Introduction 7.2 Three Dimensions of Favouring 7.3 Responses to Value: Maximizing 7.4 Two Concepts of Intrinsic Value? 7.5 Summary -/- 8. Value and the Wrong Kind of Reasons 8.1 Introduction 8.2 The Fitting Attitude Account and its Rivals 8.3 The Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem 8.4 The Structure of the Problem and an Initial Response 8.5 Reasons for What? 8.6 Characteristic Concerns and Shared Reasons 8.7 Circular Path: No-Priority 8.8 Summary . (shrink)
I argue for an evaluative theory of desire—specifically, that to desire something is for it to appear, in some way or other, good. If a desire is a non-doxastic appearance of value then it is no mystery how it can rationalize as well as cause action. The theory is metaphysically neutral—it is compatible with value idealism (that value reduces to desire), with value realism (that it is not so reducible), and with value nihilism (all appearances of value are illusory). Despite (...) this metaphysical neutrality the thesis opens up an epistemological gold mine. Non-doxastic value appearances can provide defeasible reasons for value judgements, in roughly the same way that perceptual appearances provide defeasible reasons for perceptual judgements. The paper presents a new line of argument for the evaluative theory—drawing on recent work on fittingattitudes—and rebuts some of the most pressing criticisms. (shrink)
In this paper, I use an example from the history of philosophy to show how independently defining each side of a pair of contrary predicates is apt to lead to contradiction. In the Euthyphro, piety is defined as that which is loved by some of the gods while impiety is defined as that which is hated by some of the gods. Socrates points out that since the gods harbor contrary sentiments, some things are both pious and impious. But “pious” and (...) “impious” are contrary predicates; they cannot simultaneously characterize the same thing. Euthyphro changes his definition, but the problem of recognizing emotional ambivalence is only side-stepped. I go on to show how contemporary philosophers run into a similar problem. According to Prinz, something is good if and only if we harbor positive sentiments towards it and bad if and only if we harbor negative sentiments towards it. Thus, if we are ambivalent towards something (if we harbor both positive and negative sentiments towards it), then it is both good and bad. Like “pious” and “impious”, “good” and “bad” are contraries. Next, according to the fitting-attitude theory first elaborated by Brentano and favored by contemporary meta-ethicists like Blackburn, Brandt, Ewing, Garcia, Gibbard, McDowell, and Wiggins, something is good if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of approbation, and something is bad if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of disapprobation. I argue that moral ambivalence is sometimes appropriate, i.e., that the correct response to some things is to both love and hate them. Hence, according to the fitting-attitudes theory, some things are both good and bad. I conclude by discussing a variety of ways in which the problem of ambivalence may be solved, suggesting that attitudes of approbation and disapprobation be further individuated by the reasons for them. (shrink)
In "A Danger of Definition: Polar Predicates in Metaethics," Mark Alfano (2009) concludes that the response-dependence theory of Prinz and others and the fitting-attitudes theory first articulated by Brentano are false because they imply empirically false statements. He further concludes that these statements cannot be avoided by revising the definitions of the terms 'good' and 'bad' used in the two theories. I strengthen Alfano's first conclusion by arguing that the two theories are false even if they imply empirically (...) true but conceptually contingent statements, and show how, contrary to his second conclusion, the theories can avoid both empirically false and conceptually contingent implications. (shrink)
The ‘buck-passing’ account equates the value of an object with the existence of reasons to favour it. As we argued in an earlier paper, this analysis faces the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem: there may be reasons for pro-attitudes towards worthless objects, in particular if it is the pro-attitudes, rather than their objects, that are valuable. Jonas Olson has recently suggested how to resolve this difficulty: a reason to favour an object is of the right kind only if (...) its formulation does not involve any reference to the attitudes for which it provides a reason. We argue that despite its merits, Olson's solution is unsatisfactory. We go on to suggest that the buck-passing account might be acceptable even if the problem in question turns out to be insoluble. (shrink)
This note explores how ideal subjectivism in metanormative theory can help solve two important problems for Fitting Attitude analyses of value. The wrong-kind-of-reason problem is that there may be sufficient reason for attitude Y even if the object is not Y-able. The many-kinds-of-fittingness problem is that the same attitude can be fitting in many ways. Ideal subjectivism addresses both by maintaining that an attitude is W-ly fitting if and only if endorsed by any W-ly ideal subject. A (...) subject is W-ly ideal when the most robust way of avoiding W-type practical problems is deferring to her endorsement. (shrink)
Grief is our emotional response to the deaths of intimates, and so like many other emotional conditions, it can be appraised in terms of its rationality. A philosophical account of grief's rationality should satisfy a contingency constraint, wherein grief is neither intrinsically rational nor intrinsically irrational. Here I provide an account of grief and its rationality that satisfies this constraint, while also being faithful to the phenomenology of grief experience. I begin by arguing against the best known account of grief's (...) rationality, Gustafson's strategic or forward-looking account, according to which the practical rationality of grief depends on the internal coherence of the component attitudes that explain the behaviors caused by grief, and more exactly, on how these attitudes enable the individual to realize states of affairs that she desires. While I do not deny that episodes of grief can be appraised in terms of their strategic rationality, I deny that strategic rationality is the essential or fundamental basis on which grief's rationality should be appraised. In contrast, the heart of grief's rationality is backward-looking. That is, what primarily makes an episode of grief rational qua grief is the fittingness of the attitudes individuals take toward the experience of a lost relationship, attitudes which in turn generate the desires and behaviors that constitute bereavement. Grief thus derives its essential rationality from the objects it responds to, not from the attitudes causally downstream from that response, and is necessarily irrational when the behaviors that constitute an individual's grieving are inappropriate to the object of that grief. So while the strategic rationality of an episode of grief contributes to whether it is on the whole rational, no episode of grief can be rational unless the actions that constitute grieving accurately gauge the change in a person's normative situation wrought by the loss of her relationship with the deceased. (shrink)
Many writers accept the following thesis about responsibility: (R) For one to be responsible for something is for one to be such that it is fitting that one be the object of some reactive attitude with respect to that thing. This thesis bears a striking resemblance to a thesis about value that is also accepted by many writers: (V) For something to be good (or neutral, or bad) is for it to be such that it is fitting that (...) it be the object of some pro-attitude (or indifference, or some contra-attitude). V has been the subject of intense debate in recent years, in part because of its incorporation into what has come to be called the “buck-passing” account of value. In particular, V is open to three challenges: that it is not necessarily the case that whatever is good is the fitting object of a pro-attitude; that it is not necessarily the case that whatever is the fitting object of a pro-attitude is good; and that, even if there is a strict equivalence between what is good and what is the fitting object of a pro-attitude, still the former is not to be analyzed in terms of the latter. The resemblance between V and R has not been previously commented on, but, once it is recognized, it is clear that R is open to challenges that resemble those to which V is vulnerable. This paper explores both the challenges to V and the parallel challenges to R and discusses responses that may be given to these challenges. The interrelation between V and R is then examined, and a general lesson is drawn concerning how to adjudicate disputes about the nature of moral responsibility. (shrink)
In a recent issue of Utilitas Gerald Lang provided an appealing new solution to the Wrong Kind of Reason problem for the buck-passing account of value. In subsequent issues Jonas Olson and John Brunero have provided objections to Lang's solution. I argue that Brunero's objection is not a problem for Lang's solution, and that a revised version of Lang's solution avoids Olson's objections. I conclude that we can solve the Wrong Kind of Reason problem, and that the wrong kind of (...) reasons for pro-attitudes are reasons that would not still be reasons for pro-attitudes if it were not for the additional consequences of having those pro-attitudes. (shrink)
Classical fitting-attitude analyses understand value in terms of its being fitting, or more generally, there being a reason to favour the bearer of value. Recently, such analyses have been interpreted as referring to two reason-notions rather than to only one. The idea is that the properties of the object provide reason not only for a certain kind of favouring(s) vis-à-vis the object, but the very same properties should also figure in the intentional content of the favouring; the agent (...) should favour the object on account of those properties that provide reason for favouring the object in the first place. While this expansion of the original proposal might seem intuitive given that favourings are discerning attitudes, it is nonetheless argued that proponents of the fitting-attitude analysis are in fact not served by such an expansion of the classical analysis. The objections raised here are relevant not only for advocates and critics of fitting-attitude analyses, but for anyone interested in the relation between normative reasons and motivation. (shrink)
The fact that someone is generous is a reason to admire them. The fact that someone will pay you to admire them is also a reason to admire them. But there is a difference in kind between these two reasons: the former seems to be the ‘right’ kind of reason to admire, whereas the latter seems to be the ‘wrong’ kind of reason to admire. The Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem is the problem of explaining the difference between the ‘right’ (...) and the ‘wrong’ kind of reasons wherever it appears. In this article I argue that two recent proposals for solving the Wrong Kind of Reasons Problem do not work. I then offer an alternative solution that provides a unified, systematic explanation of the difference between the two kinds of reasons. (shrink)
Abstract: The paper provides a general account of value relations. It takes its departure in a special type of value relation, parity, which according to Ruth Chang is a form of evaluative comparability that differs from the three standard forms of comparability: betterness, worseness and equal goodness. Recently, Joshua Gert has suggested that the notion of parity can be accounted for if value comparisons are interpreted as normative assessments of preference. While Gert's basic idea is attractive, the way he develops (...) it is flawed: His modeling of values by intervals of permissible preference strengths is inadequate. Instead, I provide an alternative modeling in terms of intersections of rationally permissible preference orderings. This yields a general taxonomy of all binary value relations. The paper concludes with some implications of this approach for rational choice. (shrink)
In a number of recent philosophical debates, it has become common to distinguish between two kinds of normative reasons, often called the right kind of reasons (henceforth: RKR) and the wrong kind of reasons (henceforth: WKR). The distinction was first introduced in discussions of the so-called buck-passing account of value, which aims to analyze value properties in terms of reasons for pro-attitudes and has been argued to face the wrong kind of reasons problem. But nowadays it also gets applied (...) in other philosophical contexts and to reasons for other responses than pro-attitudes, for example in recent debates about evidentialism and pragmatism about reasons for belief. While there seems to be wide agreement that there is a general and uniform distinction that applies to reasons for different responses, there is little agreement about the scope, relevance and nature of this distinction. Our aim in this article is to shed some light on this issue by surveying the RKR/WKR distinction as it has been drawn with respect to different responses, and by examining how it can be understood as a uniform distinction across different contexts. We start by considering reasons for pro-attitudes and emotions in the context of the buck-passing account of value (§1). Subsequently we address the distinction that philosophers have drawn with respect to reasons for other attitudes, such as beliefs and intentions (§2), as well as with respect to reasons for action (§3). We discuss the similarities and differences between the ways in which philosophers have drawn the RKR/WKR distinction in these areas and offer different interpretations of the idea of a general, uniform distinction. The major upshot is that there is at least one interesting way of substantiating a general RKR/WKR distinction with respect to a broad range of attitudes as well as actions. We argue that this has important implications for the proper scope of buck-passing accounts and the status of the wrong kind of reasons problem (§4). (shrink)
Understanding value in terms of fittingattitudes is all the rage these days. According to this fitting attitude analysis of value (FA-analysis for short) what is good is what it is fitting to favour in some sense. Many aspects of the FA-analysis have been discussed. In particular, a lot of discussion has been concerned with the wrong-reason objection: it can be fitting to have an attitude towards something for reasons that have nothing to do with (...) the value the thing has in itself. Much less attention has been paid to the problem of identifying the relevant attitudes in virtue of which value is supposed to be defined. An old complaint, however, is that the FA-analysis is bound to be circular, because the fitting attitude is best seen as an evaluative judgement or an evaluative experience. In this paper, I am arguing that the challenge to find a non-circular account is deepened by the fact that on many popular non-evaluative understandings of favouring, there are good states of affairs that it is never fitting to favour, because it is logically impossible or irrational to favour them. I will also show that the remaining candidate of favouring, 'imaginative emotional feeling', will generate a new version of the wrong-reason objection if it is put to use in the FA-account. I shall conclude that the prospects of finding a non-circular FA-analysis look bleak. (shrink)
The paper argues that the final value of an object-i.e., its value for its own sake-need not be intrinsic. Extrinsic final value, which accrues to things (or persons) in virtue of their relational rather than internal features, cannot be traced back to the intrinsic value of states that involve these things together with their relations. On the contrary, such states, insofar as they are valuable at all, derive their value from the things involved. The endeavour to reduce thing-values to state-values (...) is largely motivated by a mistaken belief that appropriate responses to value must consist in preferring and/or promoting. A pluralist approach to value analysis obviates the need for reduction: the final value of a thing or person can be given an independent interpretation in terms of the appropriate thing- or person-oriented responses: admiration, love, respect, protection, care, cherishing, etc. (shrink)
One objection to enhancement technologies is that they might lead us to live inauthentic lives. Memory modification technologies (MMTs) raise this worry in a particularly acute manner. In this paper I describe four scenarios where the use of MMTs might be said to lead to an inauthentic life. I then undertake to justify that judgment. I review the main existing accounts of authenticity, and present my own version of what I call a “true self” account (intended as a complement, rather (...) than a substitute, to existing accounts). I briefly describe current and prospective MMTs, distinguishing between memory enhancement and memory editing . Moving then to an assessment of the initial scenarios in the light of the accounts previously described, I argue that memory enhancement does not, by its very nature, raise serious concerns about authenticity. The main threat to authenticity posed by MMTs comes, I suggest, from memory editing. Rejecting as inadequate the worries about identity raised by the President’s Council on Bioethics in Beyond Therapy , I argue instead that memory editing can cause us to live an inauthentic life in two main ways: first, by threatening its truthfulness, and secondly, by interfering with our disposition to respond in certain ways to some past events, when we have reasons to respond in such ways. This consideration allows us to justify the charge of inauthenticity in cases where existing accounts fail. It also gives us a significant moral reason not to use MMTs in ways that would lead to such an outcome. (shrink)
This paper is a critical notice of a recent significant contribution to the debate about fittingattitudes and value, namely Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen’s Personal Value . In this book, Rønnow-Rasmussen seeks to analyse the notion of personal value—an instance of the notion of good for a person—in terms of fittingattitudes. The paper has three main themes: Rønnow-Rasmussen’s discussion of general problems for fitting attitude analyses; his formulation of the fitting attitude analysis of personal value (...) and the notion of ‘for someone’s sake attitudes’; and his critique of the dichotomy between agent-neutral and agent-relative reasons. (shrink)
A dogma of contemporary ethical theory maintains that the nature of normative support for affective attitudes is the very same as the nature of normative support for actions. The prevailing view is that normative reasons provide the support across the board. I argue that the nature of normative support for affective attitudes is importantly different from the nature of normative support for actions. Actions are indeed supported by reasons. Reasons are gradable and contributory. The support relations for affective (...)attitudes are neither. So-called reasons of the right kind for affective attitudes are facts that make those very attitudesfitting. Unlike reasons, fit-making facts for affective attitudes do not conflict with each other or combine in the explanation of further normative facts. More fit-making facts just make a more complex set of reactions fitting. This result undermines various analyses and unity theses in the philosophy of normativity. (shrink)
A fitting-attitude analysis which understands value in terms of reasons and pro- and con-attitudes allows limited wriggle room if it is to respect a radical division between good and good-for. Essentially, its proponents can either introduce two different normative notions, one relating to good and the other to good-for, or distinguish two kinds of attitude, one corresponding to the analysis of good and the other to good-for. It is argued that whereas the first option faces a counterintuitive scope (...) issue, an attitudinal approach couched in terms of ‘for someone's sake’ attitudes has the unwelcome consequence that whatever is good for someone is also necessarily good. It is argued that this consequence can be avoided if we modify the standard way of formulating the fitting-attitude analysis of final impersonal value. (shrink)
Some attitudes typically take whole persons as their objects. Shame, contempt, disgust and admiration have this feature, as do many tokens of love and hate. Objectors complain that these ‘globalist attitudes’ can never fit their targets and thus can never be all-things-considered appropriate. Those who dismiss all globalist attitudes in this way are misguided. The fittingness objection depends on an inaccurate view of the person-assessments at the heart of the globalist attitudes. Once we understand the nature (...) of globalist attitudes and we recognize that we may legitimately treat some traits as more important than others in our overall evaluation of persons, we ought to conclude that our globalist attitudes can, in some cases, fit their targets and should not be summarily dismissed as unfitting. Our relationships contour the fittingness-conditions of globalist attitudes. This relational element poses a problem for fitting-attitude theories of value. (shrink)
Mark Schroeder has recently offered a solution to the problem of distinguishing between the so-called " right " and " wrong " kinds of reasons for attitudes like belief and admiration. Schroeder tries out two different strategies for making his solution work: the alethic strategy and the background-facts strategy. In this paper I argue that neither of Schroeder's two strategies will do the trick. We are still left with the problem of distinguishing the right from the wrong kinds of (...) reasons. (shrink)
Philosophers interested in the fitting attitude analysis of final value have devoted a great deal of attention to the wrong kind of reasons problem. This paper offers an example of the reverse difficulty, the wrong kind of value problem. This problem creates deeper challenges for the fitting attitude analysis and provides independent grounds for rejecting it, or at least for doubting seriously its correctness.
This paper defends a 'fittingattitudes' view of value on which what it is for something to be good is for there to be reasons to favour that thing. The first section of the paper defends a 'linking principle' connecting reasons and value. The second and third sections argue that this principle is better explained by a fitting-attitudes view than by 'value-first' views on which reasons are explained in terms of value.
Beliefs can be correct or incorrect, and this standard of correctness is widely thought to be fundamental to epistemic normativity. But how should this standard be understood, and in what way is it so fundamental? I argue that we should resist understanding correctness for belief as either a prescriptive or an evaluative norm. Rather, we should understand it as an instance of the distinct normative category of fittingness for attitudes. This yields an attractive account of epistemic reasons.
According to fitting-attitude (FA) accounts of value, X is of final value if and only if there are reasons for us to have a certain pro-attitude towards it. FA accounts supposedly face the wrong kind of reason (WKR) problem. The WKR problem is the problem of revising FA accounts to exclude so called wrong kind of reasons. And wrong kind of reasons are reasons for us to have certain pro-attitudes towards things that are not of value. I argue (...) that the WKR problem can be dissolved. I argue that (A) the view that there are wrong kind of reasons for the pro-attitudes that figure in FA accounts conflicts with the conjunction of (B) an extremely plausible and extremely weak connection between normative and motivating rea- sons and (C) an extremely plausible generality constraint on the reasons for pro- attitudes that figure in FA accounts. I argue that when confronted with this trilemma we should give up (A) rather than (B) or (C) because there is a good explanation of why (A) seems so plausible but is in fact false, but there is no good explanation of why (B) and (C) seem so plausible but are in fact false. (shrink)
According to fitting-attitudes accounts of value, the valuable is what there is sufficient reason to value. Such accounts face the famous wrong kind of reason problem. For example, if an evil demon threatens to kill you unless you value him, it may appear that you have sufficient reason to value the demon, although he is not valuable. One solution to this problem is to deny that the demon’s threat is a reason to value him. It is instead a (...) reason to want to value the demon, and to bring it about that you value him. However, many proponents of the wrong kind of reason problem find this solution unmotivated. This paper thus offers a new argument for this solution. The argument turns on the ‘transmission’ of reasons – the familiar fact that there is often reason for one action or attitude because there is reason for another. I observe that putative reasons of the wrong kind transmit in a very different way to other reasons. I then argue that this difference is best explained by the hypothesis that putative reasons of the wrong kind are not reasons for the attitude in question, but are instead reasons to want and bring about that attitude. (shrink)
According to the fitting-attitudes account of value, for X to be good is for it to be fitting to value X. But what is it for an attitude to be fitting? A popular recent view is that it is for there to be sufficient reason for the attitude. In this paper we argue that proponents of the fitting-attitudes account should reject this view and instead take fittingness as basic. In this way they avoid the (...) notorious ‘wrong kind of reason’ problem, and can offer attractive accounts of reasons and good reasoning in terms of fittingness. (shrink)
Reasoning is a certain kind of attitude-revision. What kind? The aim of this paper is to introduce and defend a new answer to this question, based on the idea that reasoning is a goodness-fixing kind. Our central claim is that reasoning is a functional kind: it has a constitutive point or aim that fixes the standards for good reasoning. We claim, further, that this aim is to get fittingattitudes. We start by considering recent accounts of reasoning due (...) to Ralph Wedgwood and John Broome, and argue that, while these accounts contain important insights, they are not satisfactory: Wedgwood’s rules out too much, and Broome’s too little. We then introduce and defend our alternative account, discuss some of its implications and attractions, and, finally, consider objections. (shrink)
What makes the difference between good and bad reasoning? In this paper we defend a novel account of good reasoning—both theoretical and practical—according to which it preserves fittingness or correctness: good reasoning is reasoning which is such as to take you from fittingattitudes to further fittingattitudes, other things equal. This account, we argue, is preferable to two others that feature in the recent literature. The first, which has been made prominent by John Broome, holds (...) that the standards of good reasoning derive from rational requirements. The second holds that these standards derive from reasons. We argue that these accounts face serious difficulties in correctly distinguishing good from bad reasoning, and in explaining what's worthwhile about good reasoning. We then propose our alternative account and argue that it performs better on these counts. In the final section, we develop certain elements of the account in response to some possible objections. (shrink)
According to McHugh and Way reasoning is a person-level attitude revision that is regulated by its constitutive aim of getting fittingattitudes. They claim that this account offers an explanation of what is wrong with reasoning in ways one believes to be bad and that this explanation is an alternative to an explanation that appeals to the so-called Taking Condition. I argue that their explanation is unsatisfying.
This paper casts doubts on John Broome's view that vagueness in value comparisons crowds out incommensurability in value. It shows how vagueness can be imposed on a formal model of value relations that has room for different types of incommensurability. The model implements some basic insights of the 'fittingattitudes' analysis of value.
The fitting-attitudes analysis of value, which states that something's being good consists in its being the fitting object of some pro-attitude, has recently been the focus of intense debate. Many objections have been levelled against this analysis. One objection to it concerns the ‘challenge from partiality’, according to which it can be fitting to display partiality toward objects of equal value. Several responses to the challenge have been proposed. This paper criticizes these and other responses and (...) then offers a response that, it is claimed, solves the challenge. (shrink)
This article aims to offer a refined way of understanding what we mean by the concepts of meaningfulness and meaning in life. The first step is to separate worthwhileness, as the broadest evaluation of life taking all types of values into account, from meaningfulness, which is seen as one type of intrinsic value along with, for example, well-being, moral praiseworthiness, and authenticity, which I argue are also separate types of intrinsic value. After discussing why we should not settle with the (...) currently popular fittingattitudes analysis of meaningfulness, I argue that the meaningfulness of a life should be seen to be about the positive contribution beyond itself that this particular life is able to make. I show how this analysis is different from previous similar accounts and how it is able to avoid a number of challenges that have troubled these previous accounts, such as the pleasure machine challenge, the results machine challenge, and the doing good unintentionally challenge. I also demonstrate how it is able to account for prototypical examples of meaningful and meaningless lives and how it is compatible with subjectivism, supernaturalism, and objective naturalism, which is seen as a merit. Finally, I conclude with some notes about what could make life meaningful, given the current analysis of meaningfulness itself. (shrink)
New work in the foundations of ethics—extending the fittingattitudes analysis of value to yield a broader notion of normative fittingness as a (or perhaps even the) fundamental normative concept—provides us with the resources to clarify and renew the force of traditional character-based objections to consequentialism. According to these revamped fittingness objections, consequentialism is incompatible with plausible claims about which attitudes are truly fitting. If a theory’s implications regarding the fittingness facts are implausible, then this can (...) be taken to cast doubt on the truth of the theory. After clarifying the general structure of fittingness objections, and establishing how they can make character-based concerns relevant to our assessment of the truth of a moral theory like consequentialism, this chapter surveys some paradigmatic fittingness objections, showing how consequentialism can be defended against them. (shrink)
A rather promising value theory for environmental philosophers combines the well-known fitting attitude (FA) account of value with the rather less well-known account of value as richness. If the value of an entity is proportional to its degree of richness (which has been cashed out in terms of unified complexity and organic unity), then since natural entities, such as species or ecosystems, exhibit varying degrees of richness quite independently of what we happen to feel about them, they also possess (...) differing degrees of mind-independent and subject-independent value. In particular, their value is not dependent on the desires or preferences of humans. The fittingattitudes account of value, at least as it is standardly developed, demands isomorphic evaluative responses on the part of all valuers. In particular, it entails that all valuers should have isomorphic preferences. But this seems absurd. I consider three different strategies with which the fitting attitude theorist can deflect this challenge. The first makes use of an account of non-standard value relations in terms of permissible preference orderings. The second appeals to value appearances and the associated notions of value distance and value perspective. The third involves an account of the ultimate bearers of value as properties, rather than as propositions or states of affairs. These strategies are not all mutually incompatible. While it isn’t possible to combine the first and second strategies, it is possible to combine the first and third strategies, and also to combine the second and the third. (shrink)
According to the “fitting-attitudes” (FA) account of value, for a thing to be valuable is for it to be the fitting object of a pro-attitude. Value here is analyzed in terms of reasons for and against favoring, admiring, desiring, preferring, loving, etc. a thing. Whichever particular FA analysis you prefer, the basic idea is just that a thing’s value depends on extant reasons to be favorably (or disfavorably) disposed toward it. Of course, proponents of FA analyses deny (...) that just any such reasons suffice to ground a thing’s value. The reasons must be of the right sort. If I threaten to stab you in the face unless you become favorably disposed toward Rob Schneider movies, you now have a reason to do just that. But it seems clear that while my threat does make Rob Schneider movies to you worth liking, it does not make them valuable or good. The difficulty then is to distinguish the right kind of reasons from the wrong kind. Several writers have recently tried to offer principled ways of resolving the so-called “wrong kind of reasons” (WKR) problem, though I will not closely examine them here. Instead I wish to focus on one particular FAaccount of value whom some have suggested is immune to WKR-style problems, specifically the one Michael Zimmerman offers in The Nature of Intrinsic Value. I argue that even Zimmerman’s account incurs WKR difficulties, and that it can actually help illustrate a certain deep problem with FA accounts in general. (shrink)