This paper argues that there is significant motivation for contemporary ethicists to affirm a view I call “moral property eliminativism.” On this eliminativist view, there are no moral properties, but there are moral truths that are made true by only nonmoral entities. Moral property eliminativism parallels eliminativist views defended in other domains of philosophical inquiry, but has gone nearly entirely overlooked by contemporary ethicists. I argue that moral property eliminativism is motivated by (...) the claim that there cannot be differences in moral truths without differences in nonmoral ontology—a claim widely endorsed by contemporary ethicists. Engaging with a variety of ways whereby one might resist the motivation I cite for moral property eliminativism, I argue that alternative contemporary metaethical views tend to purchase moral properties at the price of unnecessary theoretical complexity. (shrink)
Philosophers have discussed virtue and character since Socrates, but many traditional views have been challenged by recent findings in psychology and neuroscience. This fifth volume of Moral Psychology grows out of this new wave of interdisciplinary work on virtue, vice, and character. It offers essays, commentaries, and replies by leading philosophers and scientists who explain and use empirical findings from psychology and neuroscience to illuminate virtue and character and related issues in moral philosophy. The contributors discuss such topics (...) as eliminativist and situationist challenges to character; investigate the conceptual and empirical foundations of self-control, honesty, humility, and compassion; and consider whether the virtues contribute to well-being. (shrink)
People do good or bad things, and get or do not get good or bad credit for their actions, depending (in part) on knowledge of their actions. I attempt to unfold some of the interconnections between these matters, and between them and the achievement of moral worth. The main conclusion is that the heights of moral worth seem to appear in the oddest places.
Ross divides prima facie duties into derivative and foundational ones, but seems to understand the notion of a derivative prima facie duty in two very different ways. Sometimes he understands them in a non-eliminativist way. According to this understanding, basic prima facie duties ground distinct derivative ones. According to the eliminativist understanding, basic duties do not ground distinct derivative duties, but replace them. On the eliminativist view, discovering that a prima facie duty is derivative is discovering that it is not (...) genuine. The genuine one is the basic one. I argue that Ross is best understood as an eliminativist. (shrink)
i. Introduction: Naturaiizing Semantics It seems as though everyone these days is in the business of ‘naituraIizing': apistamologists, philosophers of mind and language, even moral phi- `lcscpheers and philosophers of mathematics. Quine is cften cited as the one who started Et, but expressions of the naturalizing urge can no doubt be found much earlier in the history of phiioscphy. Lccsaly speaking, the- naturalizing urge is the desire to fashion human epistemic achievements in particular arcs after the achievements of the (...) natural sciences. Naturalists believe that.. (shrink)
This is a dissertation about moral responsibility, whether we have it in the sense we ordinarily suppose, and what alternatives are available to us given that we lack it. ;The dissertation comes in two main parts. The first part defends a particular kind of error theory about the folk concept of moral responsibility. That is, given a roughly scientific picture of the world, it is likely that our commonsense beliefs about responsible agency are systematically mistaken. The second part (...) of the dissertation develops a strategy for resolving the folk conceptual error theory. I call the general strategy revisionist, and recommend pursuing a particular research program under the title "moderate conceptual revisionism." The central idea is that by eliminating a metaphysically-demanding freedom condition on moral responsibility, we can revise our concept in such a way that it recognizes the limitations of our psychology and respects what is justifiable in our practices, without violating our expectations about the natural world. If successful, what makes this approach moderate is that it preserves the bulk of the beliefs, attitudes, and practices characteristic of responsibility. ;There are two chief advances of the dissertation. First, it provides a diagnosis of the apparent intractability of the current debate between standard philosophical positions. Second, it proposes an approach that provides a way out of that debate by developing a new class of responsibility theories: non-eliminativist folk conceptual error-theories. (shrink)
Moral Realism is a systematic defence of the idea that there are objective moral standards. Russ Shafer-Landau argues that there are moral principles that are true independently of what anyone, anywhere, happens to think of them. His central thesis, as well as the many novel supporting arguments used to defend it, will spark much controversy among those concerned with the foundations of ethics.
Nomy Arpaly rejects the model of rationality used by most ethicists and action theorists. Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us--and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists--Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moral agency.
Every year in this country, some 10,000 college and university courses are taught in applied ethics. And many professional organizations now have their own codes of ethics. Yet social science has had little impact upon applied ethics. This book promises to change that trend by illustrating how social science can make a contribution to applied ethics. The text reports psychological studies relevant to applied ethics for many professionals, including accountants, college students and teachers, counselors, dentists, doctors, journalists, nurses, school teachers, (...) athletes, and veterinarians. Each chapter begins with the research base of the cognitive-developmental approach--especially linked to Kohlberg and Rest's Defining Issues Test. Finally, the book summarizes recent research on the following issues: * moral judgment scores within and between professions, * pre- and post-test evaluations of ethics education programs, * moral judgment and moral behavior, * models of professional ethicseducation, and * models for developing new assessment tools. Researchers in different professional fields investigate different questions, develop different research strategies, and report different findings. Typically researchers of one professional field are not aware of research in other fields. An important aim of the present book is to bring this diverse research together so that cross-fertilization can occur and ideas from one field can transfer to another. (shrink)
An influential strand of neo-Aristotelianism, represented by writers such as Philippa Foot, holds that moral virtue is a form of natural goodness in human beings, analogous to deep roots in oak trees or keen vision in hawks. Critics, however, have argued that such a view cannot get off the ground, because the neo-Aristotelian account of natural normativity is untenable in light of a Darwinian account of living things. This criticism has been developed most fully by William Fitzpatrick in his (...) book Teleology and the Norms of Nature . In this paper, I defend the neo-Aristotelian account of natural normativity, focusing on Fitzpatrick's arguments. I argue that a natural goodness view is not impugned by an evolutionary account. Nor can neo-Aristotelian life form judgments be replaced by an evolutionary view of living things. (shrink)
This paper takes up an important epistemological challenge to the naturalistic moral realist: that her metaphysical commitments are difficult to square with a plausible rationalist view about the epistemology of morality.The paper begins by clarifying and generalizing this challenge. It then illustrates how the generalized challenge can be answered by a form of naturalistic moral realism that I dub joint-carving moral realism. Both my framing of this challenge and my answer advertise the methodological significance of non-fundamental epistemological (...) theorizing, which defends and deploys epistemological claims without adverting to the most fundamental epistemological facts. (shrink)
Some commentators have condemned Kant’s moral project from a feminist perspective based on Kant’s apparently dim view of women as being innately morally deﬁcient. Here I will argue that although his remarks concerning women are unsettling at ﬁrst glance, a more detailed and closer examination shows that Kant’s view of women is actually far more complex and less unsettling than that attributed to him by various feminist critics. My argument, then, undercuts the justiﬁcation for the severe feminist critique of (...) Kant’s moral project. (shrink)
The present study meta-analyzed 45 experiments with 959 subjects and 463 activation foci reported in 43 published articles that investigated the neural mechanism of moral functions by comparing neural activity between the moral-task and non-moral-task conditions with the Activation Likelihood Estimate method. The present study examined the common activation foci of morality-related task conditions. In addition, this study compared the neural correlates of moral sensibility with the neural correlates of moral judgment, which are the two (...) functional components in the Neo-Kohlbergian model of moral functioning. The results showed that brain regions associated with the default mode network were significantly more active during morality-related task conditions than during non-morality task conditions. These brain regions were also commonly activated in both moral judgment and moral sensibility task conditions. In contrast, the right temporoparietal junction and supramarginal gyrus were found to be more active only during conditions of moral judgment. These findings suggest that the neural correlates of moral sensibility and moral judgment are perhaps commonly associated with brain circuitries of self-related psychological processes, but the neural correlates of those two functional components are distinguishable from each other. (shrink)
Positive psychology has significantly influenced studies in the fields of moral philosophy, psychology and education, and scholars in those fields have attempted to apply its ideas and methods to moral education. Among various theoretical frameworks, virtue ethics is most likely to connect positive psychology to moral educational studies because it pursues eudaimonia (flourishing). However, some virtue ethicists have been concerned about whether the current mainstream concept of positive psychology can apply directly to moral education because it (...) focuses on subjective aspects of happiness, but not its objective and moral aspects. Thus, I will consider whether the concept of purpose, which was investigated recently by a group of psychologists and emphasizes both subjective and objective aspects of happiness, can address this issue. I will examine whether purpose is a moral virtue contributing to flourishing, consider if its nature is possibly a second-order virtue and whether it is distinguishable from other second-order virtues. (shrink)
This book articulates a systematic vision of an international legal system grounded in the commitment to justice for all persons. It provides a probing exploration of the moral issues involved in disputes about secession, ethno-national conflict, "the right of self-determination of peoples," human rights, and the legitimacy of the international legal system itself. Buchanan advances vigorous criticisms of the central dogmas of international relations and international law, arguing that the international legal system should make justice, not simply peace among (...) states, a primary goal, and rejecting the view that it is permissible for a state to conduct its foreign policies exclusively according to what is in the "national interest." He also shows that the only alternatives are not rigid adherence to existing international law or lawless chaos in which the world's one superpower pursues its own interests without constraints. This book not only criticizes the existing international legal order, but also offers morally defensible and practicable principles for reforming it. Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination will find a broad readership in political science, international law, and political philosophy. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 24 Accounts of non-naturalist moral perception have been advertised as an empiricist-friendly epistemological alternative to moral rationalism. I argue that these accounts of moral perception conceal a core commitment of rationalism—to substantive a priori justification—and embody its most objectionable feature—namely, “mysteriousness.” Thus, accounts of non-naturalist moral perception do not amount to an interesting alternative to moral rationalism.
In this paper I argue that moral realism does not, pace Charles Taylor, need “moral sources” or “constitutive goods”, and adding these concepts distorts the basic insights of what can be called “cultural” moral realism.1 Yet the ideas of “moral topography” or “moral space” as well as the idea of “ontological background pictures” are valid, if separated from those notions. What does Taylor mean by these notions?
It seems to many that moral opinions must make a difference to what we’re motivated to do, at least in suitable conditions. For others, it seems that it is possible to have genuine moral opinions that make no motivational difference. Both sides – internalists and externalists about moral motivation – can tell persuasive stories of actual and hypothetical cases. My proposal for a kind of reconciliation is to distinguish between two kinds of psychological states with moral (...) content. There are both moral thoughts or opinions that intrinsically motivate, and moral thoughts or opinions that don’t. The thoughts that intrinsically motivate are moral intuitions – spontaneous and compelling non-doxastic appearances of right or wrong that both attract assent and incline us to act or react. I argue that there is good reason to think that these intuitions, but not moral judgments, are constituted by manifestations of moral sentiments. The moral thoughts that do not intrinsically motivate are moral beliefs, which are in themselves as inert as any ordinary beliefs. Thus, roughly, internalism is true about intuitions and externalism is true about beliefs or judgments. (shrink)
Compatibilists about determinism and moral responsibility disagree with one another about the bearing of agents’ histories on whether or not they are morally responsible for some of their actions. Some stories about manipulated agents prompt such disagreements. In this article, I call attention to some of the main features of my own “history-sensitive” compatibilist proposal about moral responsibility, and I argue that arguments advanced by Michael McKenna and Manuel Vargas leave that proposal unscathed.
The structure of studies of moral education is basically interdisciplinary; it includes moral philosophy, psychology, and educational research. This article systematically analyses the structure of studies of moral educational from the vantage points of philosophy of science. Among the various theoretical frameworks in the field of philosophy of science, this article mainly utilizes the perspectives of Lakatos’s research program. In particular, the article considers the relations and interactions between different fields, including moral philosophy, psychology, and educational (...) research. Finally, the potential impacts of the new trends emerging from natural sciences that seem to be challenging to existing theoretical frameworks of moral education are examined using the vantage points of philosophy of science. (shrink)
When philosophers consider what moral status human beings have, they tend to find themselves either supporting the idea that not all human beings are rightholders or adopting what Peter Singer calls a 'speciesist' position, where speciesism is defined as morally favoring a particular species—in this case, human beings—over others without sufficient justification. In this paper, I develop what I call the 'genetic basis for moral agency' account of rightholding, and I propose that this account can allow all human (...) beings to be rightholders without being speciesist. While my aim is to set out this account clearly rather than to defend it, I explain how this account is different from a potentiality account and I argue that it is preferable to an actual moral agency account of human moral status. (shrink)
It is common to focus on the duties of the wrongdoer in cases that involve injustice. Presumably, the wrongdoer owes her victim an apology for having wronged her and perhaps compensation for having harmed her. But, these are not the only duties that may arise. Are other beneficiaries of an injustice permitted to retain the fruits of the injustice? If not, who becomes entitled to those funds? In recent years, the Connection Account has emerged as an influential account that purports (...) to explain cases such as Embezzlement. This account holds that benefiting from injustice can give rise to a corrective duty - that is, a duty of compensation - owed specifically to the victim of the injustice from which the recipient benefits. This duty is grounded in the connection between the victim and the beneficiary of a given injustice. This paper has two aims. First, I show that we must reject the Connection Account on the grounds that it risks failing correctly to identify those who become entitled to the fruits of injustice. I achieve this by developing and defending the fairness objection. Second, I offer an alternative account: the Moral Taintedness Account. This account states that, when identifying who is entitled to the fruits of injustice, the cause and the degree of the harm suffered by a victim are both relevant considerations, though it does not matter whether the victim is the victim of the injustice that gave rise to the fruits in question. This account avoids the problem associated with the Connection Account, and yields intuitive conclusions in an important range of test cases. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the viability of a particularist explanation of moral knowledge. First, I consider two arguments by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge that purport to show that a generalist, principle-based explanation of practical wisdom—understood as the ability to acquire moral knowledge in a wide range of situations—is superior to a particularist, non-principle-based account. I contend that both arguments are unsuccessful. Then, I propose a particularist-friendly explanation of knowledge of particular moral facts. I argue that (...) when we are careful to keep separate the various explanatory tasks at hand we can see that a particularist-friendly explanation of the fact that Jane knows that A is morally right might not be so difficult to come by. Moreover, I suggest that a particularist approach to explaining knowledge of particular moral facts may go some way towards discharging the challenge of moral scepticism. (shrink)
Philosophical and empirical moral psychologists claim that emotions are both necessary and sufficient for moral judgment. The aim of this paper is to assess the evidence in favor of both claims and to show how a moderate rationalist position about moral judgment can be defended nonetheless. The experimental evidence for both the necessity- and the sufficiency-thesis concerning the connection between emotional reactions and moral judgment is presented. I argue that a rationalist about moral judgment can (...) be happy to accept the necessity-thesis. My argument draws on the idea that emotions play the same role for moral judgment that perceptions play for ordinary judgments about the external world. I develop a rationalist interpretation of the sufficiency-thesis and show that it can successfully account for the available empirical evidence. The general idea is that the rationalist can accept the claim that emotional reactions are sufficient for moral judgment just in case a subject’s emotional reaction towards an action in question causes the judgment in a way that can be reflectively endorsed under conditions of full information and rationality. This idea is spelled out in some detail and it is argued that a moral agent is entitled to her endorsement if the way she arrives at her judgment reliably leads to correct moral beliefs, and that this reliability can be established if the subject’s emotional reaction picks up on the morally relevant aspects of the situation. (shrink)
This paper defends a qualified version of moral vegetarianism. It defends a weak thesis and, more tentatively, a strong thesis, both from a very broad basis that assumes neither that animals have rights nor that they are entitled to equal consideration. The essay's only assumption about moral status, an assumption defended in the analysis of the wrongness of cruelty to animals, is that sentient animals have at least some moral status. One need not be a strong champion (...) of animal protection, then, to embrace moral vegetarianism. One need only assume some reasonable view of animals' moral status. (shrink)
Many of us read Peter Singer ’ s work on our obligations to those in desperate need with our students. Famously, Singer argues that we have a moral obligation to give a significant portion of our assets to famine relief. If my own experience is not atypical, it is quite common for students, upon grasping the implications of Singer ’ s argument, to ask whether Singer gives to famine relief. In response it might be tempting to remind students of (...) the ad hominem fallacy of attacking the person advancing an argument rather than the argument itself. In this paper I argue that the “ ad hominem reply ” to students ’ request for information about Singer is misguided. First I show that biographical facts about the person advancing an argument can constitute indirect evidence for the soundness / unsoundness of the argument. Second, I argue that such facts are relevant because they may reveal that one can discard the argument without thereby incurring moral responsibility for failing to act on its conclusion even if the argument is sound. (shrink)
Our project in this essay is to showcase nonnaturalistic moral realism’s resources for responding to metaphysical and epistemological objections by taking the view in some new directions. The central thesis we will argue for is that there is a battery of substantive moral propositions that are also nonnaturalistic conceptual truths. We call these propositions the moral fixed points. We will argue that they must find a place in any system of moral norms that applies to beings (...) like us, in worlds similar to our own. By committing themselves to true propositions of these sorts, nonnaturalists can fashion a view that is highly attractive in its own right, and resistant to the most prominent objections that have been pressed against it. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that those moral theorists who wish to accommodate agent-centered options and supererogatory acts must accept both that the reason an agent has to promote her own interests is a nonmoral reason and that this nonmoral reason can prevent the moral reason she has to sacrifice those interests for the sake of doing more to promote the interests of others from generating a moral requirement to do so. These theorists must, then, deny that (...)moral reasons morally override nonmoral reasons, such that even the weakest moral reason trumps the strongest nonmoral reason in the determination of an act’s moral status (e.g., morally permissible or impermissible). If this is right, then it seems that these theorists have their work cut out for them. It will not be enough for them to provide a criterion of rightness that accommodates agent-centered options and supererogatory acts, for, in doing so, they incur a debt. As I will show, in accommodating agent-centered options, they commit themselves to the view that moral reasons are not morally overriding, and so they owe us an account of how both moral reasons and nonmoral reasons come together to determine an act’s moral status. (shrink)
Our aim in this paper is to raise a question about the relationship between theories of responsibility, on the one hand, and a commitment to conscious attitudes, on the other. Our question has rarely been raised previously. Among those who believe in the reality of human freedom, compatibilists have traditionally devoted their energies to providing an account that can avoid any commitment to the falsity of determinism while successfully accommodating a range of intuitive examples. Libertarians, in contrast, have aimed to (...) show that either physical indeterminacy or a certain kind of agent causation can find a place in the world for what they take to be genuine freedom. Few have considered whether moral responsibility requires a commitment to conscious attitudes.2 Our question derives from a confluence of two sources. First, there is reason to think that conscious attitudes matter to theories of responsibility, either directly, as a result of the latter’s commitments, or indirectly, by virtue of the assumptions that they make about certain intuitive examples. Second, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that there aren’t any conscious mental states possessing the sorts of causal roles required of propositional attitudes. Since theorists of responsibility should in general be concerned to make their views compatible with plausible claims about the natural world, the implications of this data should be carefully considered. Our aim is therefore to motivate and begin exploring answers to the following conditional question: If it should turn out that there are no conscious attitudes, then what would be the implications of this fact (if any) for theories of responsibility? We propose that theorists who aren’t skeptics about moral responsibility should examine their accounts, asking whether their theories (or the examples that motivate them) could survive the discovery that there are no conscious judgments, decisions, or evaluations. Since we take it that moral theorizing in general should operate with the weakest possible empirical assumptions about the natural world, such theorists should consider whether their accounts could be motivated in such a way as to be free of any commitment to the existence of conscious attitudes.. (shrink)
We propose that the prevalent moral aversion to AWS is supported by a pair of compelling objections. First, we argue that even a sophisticated robot is not the kind of thing that is capable of replicating human moral judgment. This conclusion follows if human moral judgment is not codifiable, i.e., it cannot be captured by a list of rules. Moral judgment requires either the ability to engage in wide reflective equilibrium, the ability to perceive certain facts (...) as moral considerations, moral imagination, or the ability to have moral experiences with a particular phenomenological character. Robots cannot in principle possess these abilities, so robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment. If robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment then it is morally problematic to deploy AWS with that aim in mind. Second, we then argue that even if it is possible for a sufficiently sophisticated robot to make ‘moral decisions’ that are extensionally indistinguishable from (or better than) human moral decisions, these ‘decisions’ could not be made for the right reasons. This means that the ‘moral decisions’ made by AWS are bound to be morally deficient in at least one respect even if they are extensionally indistinguishable from human ones. Our objections to AWS support the prevalent aversion to the employment of AWS in war. They also enjoy several significant advantages over the most common objections to AWS in the literature. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 36 The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given (...) rise to questions regarding free will and moral responsibility. There is cause for concern that a range of situationist findings are in tension with the reasons-responsiveness putatively required for free will and moral responsibility. We develop and defend a response to the alleged situationist threat to free will and moral responsibility that we call pessimistic realism. We conclude on an optimistic note, exploring the possibility of strengthening our agency in the face of situational influences. (shrink)
According to expressivism, moral judgments are desire-like states of mind. It is often argued that this view is made implausible because it isn’t consistent with the conceivability of amoralists, i.e., agents who make moral judgments yet lack motivation. In response, expressivists can invoke the distinction between dispositional and occurrent desires. Strandberg (Am Philos Quart 49:81–91, 2012) has recently argued that this distinction does not save expressivism. Indeed, it can be used to argue that expressivism is false. In this (...) paper I argue that expressivism is a much more complex thesis than Strandberg assumes. Once these complexities are acknowledged, Strandberg’s arguments are rendered ineffective and expressivism rendered more plausible. (shrink)
The endeavour to locate value in moral progress faces various substantive as well as more formal challenges. This paper focuses on challenges of the latter kind. After some preliminaries, Section 3 introduces two general kinds of “evaluative moral progress-claims”, and outlines a possible novel analysis of a descriptive notion of moral progress. While Section 4 discusses certain logical features of betterness in light of recent work in value theory which are pertinent to the notion of moral (...) progress, Sections 5 and 6 outline the ambiguous character of “making moral progress”. (shrink)
Recent work in moral philosophy has emphasized the foundational role played by interpersonal accountability in the analysis of moral concepts such as moral right and wrong, moral obligation and duty, blameworthiness, and moral responsibility (Darwall 2006; 2013a; 2013b). Extending this framework to the field of moral psychology, we hypothesize that our moral attitudes, emotions, and motives are also best understood as based in accountability. Drawing on a large body of empirical evidence, we argue (...) that the implicit aim of the central moral motives and emotions is to hold people - whether oneself or others - accountable for compliance with the demands of morality. Moral condemnation is based in a motive to get perpetrators to hold themselves accountable for their wrongdoing, not, as is commonly supposed, a mere retributive motive to make perpetrators suffer (�2). And moral conscience is based in a genuine motive to hold oneself accountable for behaving in accordance with moral demands, not, as is commonly supposed, a mere egoistic motive to appear moral to others (�3). The accountability-based theory of the moral motives and emotions we offer provides better explanations of the extant empirical data than any of the major alternative theories of moral motivation. Moreover, conceiving of moral psychology in this way gives us a new and illuminating perspective on what makes morality distinctive: its essential connection to our practice of holding one another accountable (�4). (shrink)
Should we conceive of corporations as entities to which moral responsibility can be attributed? This contribution presents what we will call a political account of corporate moral responsibility. We argue that in modern, liberal democratic societies, there is an underlying political need to attribute greater levels of moral responsibility to corporations. Corporate moral responsibility is essential to the maintenance of social coordination that both advances social welfare and protects citizens' moral entitlements. This political account posits (...) a special capacity of self-governance that corporations can intelligibly be said to possess. Corporations can be said to be "administrators of duty" in that they can voluntarily incorporate moral principles into their decision-making processes about how to conduct business. This account supplements and partly transforms earlier pragmatic accounts of corporate moral responsibility by disentangling responsibility from its conventional linkages with accountability, blame and punishment. It thereby represents a distinctive way to defend corporate moral responsibility and shows how Kantian thinking can be helpful in disentangling the problems surrounding the concept. (shrink)
Many of us read Peter Singer’s work on our obligations to those in desperate need with our students. Famously, Singer argues that we have a moral obligation to give a significant portion of our assets to famine relief. If my own experience is not atypical, it is quite common for students, upon grasping the implications of Singer’s argument, to ask whether Singer gives to famine relief. In response it might be tempting to remind students of the (so called) ad (...) hominem fallacy of attacking the person advancing an argument rather than the argument itself. In this paper I argue that the “ad hominem reply” to students’ request for information about Singer is misguided. First I show that biographical facts about the person advancing an argument can constitute indirect evidence for the soundness/unsoundness of the argument. Second, I argue that such facts are relevant because they may reveal that one can discard the argument without thereby incurring moral responsibility for failing to act on its conclusion even if the argument is sound. (shrink)
A person sometimes forms moral beliefs by relying on another person''s moral testimony. In this paper I advance a cognitivist normative account of this phenomenon. I argue that for a person''s actions to be morally good, they must be based on a recognition of the moral reasons bearing on action. Morality requires people to act from an understanding of moral claims, and consequently to have an understanding of moral claims relevant to action. A person sometimes (...) fails to meet this requirement when she relies on another person''s moral testimony, and so there are moral limits on such reliance. (shrink)
It is commonly suggested that empathy is a morally important quality to possess and that a failure to properly empathize with others is a kind of moral failure. This suggestion assumes that empathy involves caring for others’ well-being. Skeptics challenge the moral importance of empathy by arguing that empathy is neither necessary nor sufficient to care for others’ well-being. This challenge is misguided. Although some forms of empathy may not be morally important, empathy with another’s basic well-being concerns (...) is both necessary and sufficient to care for another’s well-being, provided that one’s empathy is both cognitive and affective. I further defend the idea that empathy of this form is a moral virtue. In doing so, I address three challenges to empathy’s status as a virtue: (1) that empathy is unnecessary for being ethical, (2) that it is not useful for promoting ethical behavior, and (3) that an empathetic person can lack other traits central to being virtuous, such as being motivated by the moral good and being disposed to do virtuous things whenever appropriate opportunities arise. I argue that these challenges are mistaken. (shrink)
Proponents of impure moral perception claim that, while there are perceptual moral experiences, these experiences epistemically depend on a priori moral knowledge. Proponents of pure moral perception claim that moral experiences can justify independently of substantive a priori moral knowledge. Some philosophers, most notably David Faraci, have argued that the pure view is mistaken, since moral perception requires previous moral background knowledge, and such knowledge could not itself be perceptual. I defend pure (...)moral perception against this objection. I consider two ways to understand the notion of “background knowledge” that is crucial to the objection. On a reading, the claim that background knowledge is necessary for moral perception is likely false. On a second and weaker reading, the claim is true, but the background knowledge in question could be perceptual, and thus compatible with pure moral perception. Thus, the objection fails. (shrink)
The question of moral realismwhether our ethical beliefs rest on some objective foundationis one that mattered as much to Aristotle as it does to us today, and his writings on this topic continue to provide inspiration for the contemporary debate. This volume of essays expands the fruitful conversation among scholars of ancient philosophy and contemporary ethical theorists on this question and related issues such as the virtues, justice, and Aristotles theory of tragedy.The distinguished contributors to this volume enrich and (...) clarify both Aristotles views and the contemporary debates. This book makes an important contribution to both topics, and it will be essential reading for all philosophers and classicists with an interest in moral philosophy and Greek ethics. (shrink)
How should we understand the notion of moral objectivity? Metaethical positions that vindicate morality’s objective appearance are often associated with moral realism. On a realist construal, moral objectivity is understood in terms of mind-, stance-, or attitude-independence. But realism is not the only game in town for moral objectivists. On an antirealist construal, morality’s objective features are understood in virtue of our attitudes. In this paper I aim to develop this antirealist construal of moral objectivity (...) in further detail, and to make its metaphysical commitments explicit. I do so by building on Sharon Street’s version of “Humean Constructivism”. Instead of the realist notion of attitude-independence, the antirealist account of moral objectivity that I articulate centres on the notion of standpoint-invariance. While constructivists have been criticized for compromising on the issue of moral objectivity, I make a preliminary case for the thesis that, armed with the notion of standpoint-invariance, constructivists have resources to vindicate an account of objectivity with just the right strength, given the commitments of ordinary moral thought and practice. In support of this thesis I highlight recent experimental findings about folk moral objectivism. Empirical observations about the nature of moral discourse have traditionally been taken to give prima facie support to moral realism. I argue, by contrast, that from what we can tell from our current experimental understanding, antirealists can capture the commitments of ordinary discourse at least as well as realists can. (shrink)
This paper offers several criticisms of the account of rightholding laid out in S. Matthew Liao’s recent paper “The Basis of Human Moral Status.” I argue that Liao’s account both does too much and too little: it grants rightholder status to those who may not deserve it, and it does not provide grounds for offering such status to those who arguably do deserve it. Given these troubling aspects of his approach, I encourage Liao to abandon his “physical basis of (...)moral agency” account of moral status and instead adopt a position closer to a traditional “speciesist” view. (shrink)
I defend the thesis that at least some moral properties can be part of the contents of experience. I argue for this claim using a _contrast argument_, a type of argument commonly found in the literature on the philosophy of perception. I first appeal to psychological research on what I call emotionally empathetic dysfunctional individuals to establish a phenomenal contrast between EEDI s and normal individuals in some moral situations. I then argue that the best explanation for this (...) contrast, assuming non-skeptical moral realism, is that _badness_ is represented in the normal individual’s experience but not in the EEDI ’s experience. I consider and reject four alternative explanations of the contrast. (shrink)
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)
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong has argued against moral intuitionism, according to which some of our moral beliefs are justified without needing to be inferred from any other beliefs. He claims that any prima facie justification some non-inferred moral beliefs might have enjoyed is removed because many of our moral beliefs are formed in circumstances where either (1) we are partial, (2) others disagree with us and there is no reason to prefer our moral judgement to theirs, (3) (...) we are emotional in a way that clouds our judgement, (4) the circumstances are conducive to illusion, or (5) the source of our moral beliefs is unreliable or disreputable. I take issue with the elements of Sinnott-Armstrong’s argument that centre on (1) to (3) and (5), concluding that his case against moral intuitionism is unpersuasive. (shrink)
This paper addresses a puzzle about moral learning concerning its social context and the potential for moral progress: Won't the social context of moral learning shape moral perceptions, beliefs, and motivation in ways that will inevitably limit moral motivation, perceptiveness, and progress? It addresses the relationships between habituation and moral reasoning in Aristotelian moral education, and assesses Julia Annas’s attempt to defend the possibility of moral progress within a virtue ethical framework. Focusing (...) on the motivational core of the puzzle, the paper argues that Self-determination Theory provides resources for better understanding how moral progress is possible and how moral education can facilitate such progress. (shrink)
Moral contextualism is the view that claims like ‘A ought to X’ are implicitly relative to some (contextually variable) standard. This leads to a problem: what are fundamental moral claims like ‘You ought to maximize happiness’ relative to? If this claim is relative to a utilitarian standard, then its truth conditions are trivial: ‘Relative to utilitarianism, you ought to maximize happiness’. But it certainly doesn’t seem trivial that you ought to maximize happiness (utilitarianism is a highly controversial position). (...) Some people believe this problem is a reason to prefer a realist or error theoretic semantics of morals. I argue two things: first, that plausible versions of all these theories are afflicted by the problem equally, and second, that any solution available to the realist and error theorist is also available to the contextualist. So the problem of triviality does not favour noncontextualist views of moral language. (shrink)