Yet another tactic was offered the Negro. He was encouraged to seek unity with the millions of disadvantaged whites of the South, whose basic need for social change paralleled his own. Theoretically, this proposal held a measure of logic, for it is undeniable that great masses of Southern whites exist in conditions scarcely better than those which afflict the Negro. …
Early on Saturday, 14 April, it was announced that the US, UK and France had conducted targeted strikes on three targets in Syria – a chemical weapons and storage facility, a research centre and a military bunker – in response to Assad’s (alleged) use of chemical weapons in Douma. …
In the posthumously published ‘Truth and Probability’ (1926), Ramsey sets out an influential account of the nature, measurement, and norms of partial belief. The essay is a foundational work on subjectivist interpretations of probability, according to which probabilities can be interpreted as rational degrees of belief (see entry on Interpretations of Probability). Many of its key ideas and arguments have since featured in other foundational works within the subjectivist tradition (e.g., Savage 1954, Jeffrey 1965). Ramsey’s central claim in ‘Truth and Probability’ is that the laws of probability supply us with a ‘logic of partial belief’. That is, the laws specify what would need to be true of any consistent set of partial beliefs, in a manner analogous to how the laws of classical logic might be taken to generate necessary conditions on any consistent set of full beliefs. His case for this is based on a novel account of what partial beliefs are and how they can be measured.
The ethical task of becoming a better person requires identifying and fairly assessing one’s motivations. Any ethical theory needs to be consistent with the structure of human motivation. Ethics therefore requires an understanding of how self-deception about motivation is possible. The two main theories of self-deception about motivation are Sigmund Freud’s theory of repression and Jean-Paul Sartre’s theory of bad faith. Freud distinguishes between rationally structured and purely mechanistic aspects of the mind, arguing that repression is a process of preventing oneself from becoming conscious of some mechanistic item. Sartre argues that this explanation fails, since the activity of repression would need to be concealed but cannot be mechanistic. Sartre’s alternative rests on his theory of projects as the ground of motivations. Since projects structure conscious experience, they structure our reflective awareness of our own projects, which allows features of our projects to become hidden from our view. Sartre’s theory is internally coherent and consistent with the view of motivation currently emerging from social psychology. But it is inconsistent with his own theory of radical freedom. It requires instead Simone de Beauvoir’s theory of project sedimentation, which in turn entails a nonpurposive form of self-deception.
The term ‘contractualism’ can be used in a broad
sense—to indicate the view that morality is based on contract or
agreement—or in a narrow sense—to refer to a particular
view developed in recent years by the Harvard philosopher T. M.
Scanlon, especially in his book What We Owe to Each Other. This essay takes ‘contractualism’ in the narrower sense. We begin with a brief summary of Scanlon’s contractualism, and
then situate his view in relation both to other social contract
theories and to its main rival among impartial accounts of
morality—namely, utilitarianism. Our discussion is then
organised around a series of challenges to the contractualist
This article uses psychological and neural theories to illuminate the use of analogies in literary allegories. It shows how new theories of neural representation, encompassing both cognitive and emotional aspects, have the potential to make sense of many kinds of literary comparisons including allegories. The main text analyzed is George Orwell’s Animal Farm, whose effectiveness is discussed using the multiconstraint theory of analogy supplemented with observations about neural functioning.
You are morally permitted to save your friend at the expense of a few strangers, but not at the expense of very many. However, there seems no number of strangers that marks a precise upper bound here. Consequently, there are borderline cases of groups at the expense of which you are permitted to save your friend. This essay discusses the question of what explains ethical vagueness like this, arguing that there are interesting metaethical consequences of various explanations.
Origen (c. 185–c. 253) was a Christian exegete and theologian,
who made copious use of the allegorical method in his commentaries,
and (though later considered a heretic) laid the foundations of
philosophical theology for the church. He was taught by a certain
Ammonius, whom the majority of scholars identify as Ammonius Saccas,
the teacher of Plotinus; many believe, however, that the external
evidence will not allow us to identify him with the Origen whom
Plotinus knew as a colleague. He was certainly well-instructed in
philosophy and made use of it as an ancillary to the exposition and
harmonization of scripture.
Famously, Pascal’s Wager purports to show that a prudentially rational person should aim to believe in God’s existence, even when sufficient epistemic reason to believe in God is lacking. Perhaps the most common view of Pascal’s Wager, though, holds it to be subject to a decisive objection, the so-called Many Gods Objection, according to which Pascal’s Wager is incomplete since it only considers the possibility of a Christian God. I will argue, however, that the ambitious version of this objection most frequently encountered in the literature on Pascal’s Wager fails. In the wake of this failure I will describe a more modest version of the Many Gods Objection and argue that this version still has strength enough to defeat the canonical Wager. The essence of my argument will be this: the Wager aims to justify belief in a context of uncertainty about God’s existence, but this same uncertainty extends to the question of God’s requirements for salvation. Just as we lack sufficient epistemic reason to believe in God, so too do we lack sufficient epistemic reason to judge that believing in God increases our chance of salvation. Instead, it is possible to imagine diverse gods with diverse requirements for salvation, not all of which require theistic belief. The context of uncertainty in which the Wager takes place renders us unable to single out one sort of salvation requirement as more probable than all others, thereby infecting the Wager with a fatal indeterminacy.
Actualists hold that contrary-to-duty scenarios give rise to deontic dilemmas and provide counterexamples to the transmission principle, according to which we ought to take the necessary means to actions we ought to perform. In an earlier article, I have argued, contrary to actualism, that the notion of ‘ought’ that figures in conclusions of practical deliberation does not allow for deontic dilemmas and validates the transmission principle. Here I defend these claims, together with my possibilist account of contrary-to-duty scenarios, against Stephen White’s recent criticism.
Rifling through two-hundred-year-old diaries, unfurling bundles of love-letters like flowers, saying every name in an orphanage registry under my breath, getting lost in a farmer’s field, gingerly lifting leaves long folded with perfumey motes, falling asleep in my sunshine chair, drooling spittle puddles onto a crackled map of Nunsmoor. The stories I stumbled across in the archives were often painful, shocking, and occasionally joyous. At first, they seem far away but after a short while they begin to move closer (or maybe it’s we who are moving?) and I begin to comprehend, just barely, a great aliveness.
Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was the founder of
“deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both
literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the
word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the
wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary
criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architectural theory,
and in political theory. Indeed, Derrida’s fame nearly reached
the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling
auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and televisions programs
devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his
In a recent article Martha Nussbaum identified three problems with the Stoic doctrine of respect for dignity: its exclusive focus on specifically human dignity, its indifference to the need for external goods, and its ineffectiveness as a moral motive. This article formulates a non-Stoic doctrine of respect for dignity that avoids these problems. I argue that this doctrine helps us to understand such moral phenomena as the dignity of nonhuman animals as well as the core human values of life, freedom, and equality. I end by arguing that Nussbaum underestimates the mutual support between motives of respect and other moral motives such as compassion.
This is a position paper. It presents a cohesive framework that addresses some of the defining issues of cotemporary metaethics, notably the nature of moral judgment, moral reality, and moral language. The framework is supposed to appeal to philosophers antecedently attracted, on the one hand, to the idea that there are no such mind-independent entities as values, and on the other hand, to the idea that there is still such a thing is substantive moral truth. §1 introduces three prominent divides in contemporary metaethics: between cognitivism and noncognitivism in moral psychology, between moral realism and antirealism in moral metaphysics, and between descriptivism and expressivism in moral semantics. §2 then presents, rather dogmatically, a comprehensive approach to the mind that I call impure intentionalism, which type-individuates mental states in terms of their intentional character, understood as a combination of content and attitude; it also presents a specific framework for understanding the attitudinal aspect of mental states. Finally, applying impure intentionalism to moral psychology, §3 distinguishes between two kinds of moral judgment, one cognitive and one noncognitive, and crafts a moral metaphysics and a moral semantics around this distinction.
In the fall of 1998 Trent Lott used his power as Senate Majority Leader to prevent the confirmation of James C. Hormel, an openly gay San Francisco philanthropist who was then President Clinton's nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Lott made it clear that his opposition to Hormel was based on his opposition to homosexuality in general. Asked by a television interviewer during the controversy whether homosexuality is a sin, Mr. Lott answered "Yes, it is"; he went on to compare gay people to alcoholics, sex addicts, and kleptomaniacs.
Law and democracy seem oddly estranged in academic philosophical discourse. Aside from some controversies about constitutionalism, there is very little mention of democracy in most contemporary jurisprudential treatments. Likewise, one can leaf through extensive discussions of democracy that do not elaborate any distinctive, essential role that law plays in achieving democratic aims. Law tends to be treated as an instrumental afterthought.
In the previous lecture, I argued that citizens have a moral need to convey and to receive certain moral messages from each other that affirm their mutual equality, basic rights, and their belonging in a moral community. Those particular messages must take the form of collective commitments. Democratic law plays an inspiring, unique role in satisfying that need by constituting a community of equal membership that can pursue collective moral ends for and in the name of the community by producing articulate, public commitments to mandatory and discretionary ends.
Examining previous discussions on how to construe the concepts of gender and race, we advocate what we call strategic conceptual engineering. This is the employment of a (possibly novel) concept for specific epistemic or social aims, concomitant with the openness to use a different concept (e.g., of race) for other purposes. We illustrate this approach by sketching three distinct concepts of gender and arguing that all of them are needed, as they answer to different social aims. The first concept serves the aim of identifying and explaining gender-based discrimination. It is similar to Haslanger’s well-known account, except that rather than offering a definition of ‘woman’ we focus on ‘gender’ as one among several axes of discrimination. The second concept of gender is to assign legal rights and social recognitions, and thus is to be trans-inclusive. We argue that this cannot be achieved by previously suggested concepts that include substantial gender-related psychological features, such as awareness of social expectations. Instead, our concept counts someone as being of a certain gender solely based on the person’s self-identification with this gender. The third concept of gender serves the aim of personal empowerment by means of one’s gender identity. In this context, substantial psychological features and awareness of one’s social situation are involved. While previous accounts of concepts have focused on their role in determining extensions, we point to contexts where a concept’s role in explanation and moral reasoning can be more important.
The rise of medically unexplained conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome in the United States looks remarkably similar to the explosion of neurasthenia diagnoses in the late nineteenth century. In this paper, I argue the historical connection between neurasthenia and today’s medically unexplained conditions hinges largely on the uncritical acceptance of naturalism in medicine. I show how this cultural acceptance shapes the way in which we interpret and make sense of nervous distress while, at the same time, neglecting the unique social and historical forces that continue to produce it. I draw on the methods of hermeneutic philosophy to expose the limits of naturalism and forward an account of health and illness that acknowledges the extent to which we are always embedded in contexts of meaning that determine how we experience and understand our suffering.
“Affirmative action” means positive steps taken to
increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of
employment, education, and culture from which they have been
historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential
selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or
ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy. The development, defense, and contestation of preferential affirmative
action has proceeded along two paths. One has been legal and
administrative as courts, legislatures, and executive departments of
government have made and applied rules requiring affirmative action.
Stoicism was one of the new philosophical movements of the Hellenistic
period. The name derives from the porch (stoa poikilê)
in the Agora at Athens decorated with mural paintings, where the
members of the school congregated, and their lectures were held. Unlike ‘epicurean,’ the sense of the English adjective
‘stoical’ is not utterly misleading with regard to its
philosophical origins. The Stoics did, in fact, hold that emotions
like fear or envy (or impassioned sexual attachments, or passionate
love of anything whatsoever) either were, or arose from, false
judgements and that the sage – a person who had attained moral and
intellectual perfection – would not undergo them.
The standard view in philosophy treats pains as phenomenally conscious mental states. This view has a number of corollaries, including that it is generally taken to rule out the existence of unfelt pains. The primary argument in support of the standard view is that it supposedly corresponds with the commonsense conception of pain. In this paper, we challenge this doctrine about the commonsense conception of pain, and with it the support offered for the standard view, by presenting the results of a series of new empirical studies that indicate that lay people not only tend to believe that unfelt pains are possible, but actually, quite common.
Taking literally the concept of emotional truth requires breaking the monopoly on truth of belief-like states. To this end, I look to perceptions for a model of non-propositional states that might be true or false, and to desires for a model of propositional attitudes the norm of which is other than the semantic satisfaction of their propositional object. Those models inspire a conception of generic truth, which can admit of degrees for analogue representations such as emotions; belief-like states, by contrast, are digital representations. I argue that the gravest problem—objectivity—is not insurmountable.
Within a few decades it is likely that gene editing technologies will become increasingly viable, safe, and cheap. As scientists uncover the genetic basis for heritable personality traits, including different cognitive styles, parents will face hard choices. Some of these traits will involve trade-offs from the standpoint of the individual's welfare, while others will involve trade-offs between what is best for each and what is good for all. A simple example is extraversion, which positively correlates with subjective well-being and increased sociality, but which negatively correlates with academic performance. Another example is neuroticism, which can lead to increased achievement but also a greater risk of anxiety and depression. Although we think we should generally defer to the informed choices of parents about what kinds of children to create, we argue that decisions to manipulate polygenic personality traits will be much more ethically complicated than choosing our children’s eye color or hair type. We end by defending the principle of regulatory parsimony, which holds that when legislation is necessary to prevent serious harms we should aim for simple laws that apply to all, rather than micro-managing parental choices that shape the cognitive traits of their children.
Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Joshua Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason.
In its most expansive sense, Latin American philosophy is philosophy
produced in Latin America or philosophy produced by persons of Latin
American ancestry who reside outside of Latin America. It is typically
taken to exclude philosophy produced in non-Iberian former colonies,
with the occasional exception of former French colonies in the
Caribbean. Other names have also been used to refer to the whole or
part of Latin American philosophy, including Spanish American, Hispanic
American, Iberoamerican, and Latino/a philosophy. The first two refer
specifically to the philosophy of former Spanish colonies, the third to
that of former Iberian colonies, and the fourth to the philosophy
produced in the United States by descendants of Latin Americans.
We’ve all heard of the Marshmallow Test. Put a kid in a room with a marshmallow on a plate in front of them. Tell them that they can eat that marshmallow now, if they want, but if they can refrain from eating it for ten minutes, you’ll give them three. …
Can genealogical explanations affect the space of reasons? Those who think so A B ST R AC T commonly face two objections. The first objection maintains that attempts to derive reasons from claims about the genesis of something commit the genetic fallacy—they conflate genesis and justification. One way for genealogies to sidestep this objection is to focus on the functional origins of practices—to show that, given certain facts about us and our environment, certain conceptual practices are rational because apt responses. But this invites a second objection, which maintains that attempts to derive current from original function suffer from continuity failure—the conditions in response to which something originated no longer obtain. This paper shows how normatively ambitious genealogies can steer clear of both problems. It first maps out various ways in which genealogies can involve non-fallacious genetic arguments before arguing that some genealogies do not invite the charge of the genetic fallacy if they are interpreted as revealing the original functions of conceptual practices. However, they then incur the burden of showing that the conditions relative to which practices function continuously obtain. Taking its cue from the genealogies of E. J. Craig, Bernard Williams, and Miranda Fricker, the paper shows how model-based genealogies can avoid continuity failures by identifying bases of continuity in the demands we face.
The United Nations Population Division’s latest report predicts a global population of over 11 billion by 2100. That is the ‘medium’ projection, based on standard demographic transition theory. There is also a ‘low’ projection, in which the total fertility rate is lower by half a child per woman; here, population peaks at 8.7 billion mid-century, returning to 7.3 billion by 2100.
This chapter focusses on the question of optimal human population size: how many people it is best to have alive on Earth at a given time. The exercise is one of optimisation subject to constraints. Population axiology is one highly relevant input to the exercise, as it supplies the objective: it tells us which logically possible states of affairs – in the sense of assignments of well-being levels to persons – are better than which others. But not all logically possible states of affairs are achievable: we cannot in practice have (say) a population of a quadrillion humans, all living lives of untold bliss, on Earth simultaneously. The real world supplies constraints.