I begin the paper by outlining one classic argument for the guise of the good: that we must think that desires represent their objects favourably in order to explain why they can make actions rational (Quinn 1995; Stampe 1987). But what exactly is the conclusion of this argument? Many have recently formulated the guise of the good as the view that desires are akin to perceptual appearances of the good (Stampe 1987; Oddie 2005; Tenenbaum 2007). But I argue that this view fails to capitalize on the above argument, and that the argument is better understood as favouring a view on which desires are belief-like states. I finish by addressing some countervailing claims made by Avery Archer (2016).
This entry discusses the relationship between disability and wellbeing. Disabilities are commonly thought to be unfortunate, but whether this is true is unclear, and if it is true, it is unclear why it is true. The entry first explains the disability paradox, which is the apparent discrepancy between the level of wellbeing that disabled people self-report, and the level of wellbeing that nondisabled people predict disabled people to have. It then turns to an argument that disabilities must be bad, because it is wrong to cause them in others. Sections 4 and 5 discuss whether disabilities might be intrinsically bad or even bad by definition. The final section turns to discuss the claim that to whatever extent disabilities are bad, this is not because disabilities themselves are harmful because only because society discriminates against people with disabilities.
Elizabeth Barnes and Robert Williams have developed a theory of metaphysical indeterminacy, via which they defend the theoretical legitimacy of vague objects. In this paper, we argue that while the Barnes-Williams theory supplies a viable account of genuine metaphysical vagueness, it cannot underwrite an account of genuinely vague objects. First we clarify the distinction between these two key theses. Then we argue that the Barnes-Williams theory of metaphysical vagueness not only fails to deliver genuinely vague objects, it in fact provides grounds for rejecting them.
At the time of his death, Max Ferdinand Scheler was one of the most
prominent German intellectuals and most sought after philosophers of
his time. A pioneer in the development of phenomenology in the early
part of the 20th century, Scheler broke new ground in many
areas of philosophy and established himself as perhaps the most
creative of the early phenomenologists. Relative to the attention his
work received and the attention his contemporaries now enjoy, interest
in Scheler’s work and thought has waned considerably. This
decrease in attention is in part due to the suppression of
Scheler’s work by the Nazis from 1933 to 1945, a suppression
stemming from his Jewish heritage and outspoken denunciation of
fascism and National Socialism.
The capacity for cognition allows human and nonhuman animals to navigate the physical world effectively and adaptively. For instance, animals can estimate distances, memorize events, track objects in space, detect regularities, discriminate between small sets of objects exactly and between large sets approximately, and make causal inferences. Thus, over the last decades, developmental and comparative research have gained more and more insights into the development of human and nonhuman thinking about the natural world including its entities, regularities, and causal structure (Baillargeon and Carey 2012; Call and Tomasello 2005; Rakoczy 2014; Tomasello 2014).
Martin Luther affirms his theological position by saying “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Supposing that Luther’s claim is true, he lacks alternative possibilities at the moment of choice. Even so, many libertarians have the intuition that he is morally responsible for his action. One way to make sense of this intuition is to assert that Luther’s action is indirectly free, because his action inherits its freedom and moral responsibility from earlier actions when he had alternative possibilities and those earlier directly free actions formed him into the kind of person who must refrain from recanting. Surprisingly, libertarians have not developed a full account of indirectly free actions. I provide a more developed account. First, I explain the metaphysical nature of indirectly free actions such as Luther’s. Second, I examine the kind of metaphysical and epistemic connections that must occur between past directly free actions and the indirectly free action. Third, I argue that an attractive way to understand the kind of derivative moral responsibility at issue involves affirming the existence of resultant moral luck.
Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all. For instance, how about technology? I think that there would be no cars or helicopters in and above the streets; this follows from the fact that the people of Omelas are happy people. …
Many strands of modern moral and political philosophy rely on the idea of basic equality, the idea that all human beings are equal in “moral status” and deserve equal consideration of their interests. Some philosophers assume that basic equality could be true only if in some descriptive sense all human beings really are equal, that is, only if there is some morally significant feature all human beings have equally. This quickly leads to skepticism, as there seem to be no interesting feature or property that all human beings have equally. I argue, on the contrary, that basic equality could be defended even if they are not descriptively equal. My defense of basic equality, which I dub “the respect view”, consists of two theses: (1) Regardless of whether human beings are descriptively equal, we ought to not treat any human being with disrespect. (2) If two individuals deserve respect, to treat one’s interests as less important than another’s is disrespectful to the one whose interests are treated as less important. Together, these theses support a novel defense of basic equality, one that takes seriously the observation that human beings are very different from another.
« Capitalism's Headache |
16 October 2018
More on Facebook and Mental Health Privacy
By Gordon Hull
It’s not news that Facebook generates a lot of privacy concerns. But it’s nonetheless worth keeping up a little, just to indicate how seriously we need to be concerned about the connection between Facebook and data analytics. …
This chapter examines the philosophical grounds for linking responsibility with capacities to reason and to judge in the light of moral considerations. It discusses five different accounts that connect responsibility and rationality, the work of: Susan Wolf, R Jay Wallace, the jointly authored work of John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, Angela M Smith, and Pamela Hieronymi. Through these authors’ contributions, the chapter argues that the notion of rational ability is central to understanding and justifying practices of responsibility. Although there has been clear progress in debates about this connection, however, understanding the notion of rational or moral ability still poses profound challenges. One reason for this is suggested: such abilities may have constitutive connections with practices of holding responsible and of taking responsibility – connections that have yet to be fully explored in the literature.
In Eudoxia, which spreads both upward and down, with winding alleys, steps, dead ends, hovels, a carpet is preserved in which you can observe the city's true form. At first sight nothing seems to resemble Eudoxia less than the design of that carpet, laid out in symmetrical motives whose patterns are repeated along straight and circular lines, interwoven with brilliantly colored spires, in a repetition that can be followed throughout the whole woof. …
My colleague at Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society, Johannes Himmelreich, is a philosopher who investigates agency and responsibility in contexts of collective collaboration and technological augmentation. …
(I appear in this video from 15:49-25:51)
[The following is, roughly, the text of a speech I delivered to the Trinity College, Dublin Historical Society on the 10th October 2018 (which you can watch in the video above from 15:49 - 25:51). …
In a recent article in this journal Mona Simion argues that Sally Haslanger’s “engineering” approach to gender concepts such as ‘woman’ faces an epistemic objection. The primary function of all concepts—gender concepts included—is to represent the world, but Haslanger’s engineering account of ‘woman’ fails to adequately represent the world because, by her own admission, it doesn’t include all women in the extension of the concept ‘woman’. I argue that this objection fails because the primary function of gender concepts— and social kind concepts in general—is not (merely) to represent the world, but rather to shape it. I finish by considering the consequences for “conceptual engineering” in philosophy more generally. While Haslanger’s account may escape Simion’s objection, other appeals to conceptual engineering might not fair so well.
Not everyone is master of his own affairs. Chiefs and leaders who are masters of the affairs of men are few in comparison with the rest. As a rule, man must by necessity be dominated by someone else. If the domination is kind and just and the people under it are not oppressed by its laws and restrictions, they are guided by the courage or cowardice that they possess in themselves. …
A plausible constraint on normative reasons to act is that it must make sense to use them as premises in deliberation. I argue that a central sort of deliberation—what Bratman calls partial planning—is question-directed: it is over, and aims to resolve, deliberative questions. Whether it makes sense to use some consideration as a premise in deliberation in a case of partial planning can vary with the deliberative question at issue. I argue that the best explanation for this is that reasons are contrastive, or relativized to deliberative questions.
[These are some general reflections on the future of automation in policing. They are based on a workshop I gave to the ACJRD (Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development) annual conference in Dublin on the 4th October 2018). …
This paper has two central aims. The first is to explore philosophical complications that arise when we move from (i) explaining the evolutionary origins of genetically influenced traits associated with human cooperation and altruism, to (ii) explaining present manifestations of human thought, feeling and behaviour involving cooperation and altruism. While the former need only appeal to causal factors accessible to scientific inquiry, the latter must engage also with a distinctive form of explanation, i.e. reason-giving explanation, which in turn raises important philosophical questions, the answers to which will affect the nature of the ultimate explanations of our moral beliefs and related actions. On one possibility I will explore, this explanatory project cannot avoid engaging with first-order ethical theory. The second aim is to apply lessons from these explanatory complications to the critique of ‘evolutionary debunking arguments’, which seek to debunk morality, or at least objective construals of it (i.e. moral realism), by appeal to allegedly scientific debunking explanations of our moral beliefs that would defeat our justification for them. The explanatory complications brought out in the first half raise difficulties for such debunking arguments. If we avoid begging central philosophical questions then such debunking arguments pose little threat of saddling us with moral scepticism or subjectivism, though they do pose an important challenge for those developing a moral realist view.
It is now time to move the ongoing public debate on artificial intelligence (AI) into the political institutions themselves. Many experts believe that we are confronted with an inflection point in history during the next decade, and that there is a closing time window regarding the applied ethics of AI. Political institutions must therefore produce and implement a minimal, but sufficient set of ethical and legal constraints for the beneficial use and future development of AI. They must also create a rational, evidence-based process of critical discussion aimed at continuously updating, improving and revising this first set of normative constraints. Given the current situation, the default outcome is that the values guiding AI development will be set by a very small number of human beings, by large private corporations and military institutions. Therefore, one goal is to proactively integrate as many perspectives as possible – and in a timely manner.
Intellectual property is generally characterized as non-physical
property that is the product of original thought. Typically, rights do
not surround the abstract non-physical entity; rather, intellectual
property rights surround the control of physical manifestations or
expressions of ideas. Intellectual property law protects a
content-creator’s interest in her ideas by assigning and enforcing
legal rights to produce and control physical instantiations of those
ideas. Legal protections for intellectual property have a rich history that
stretches back to ancient Greece and before. As different legal
systems matured in protecting intellectual works, there was a
refinement of what was being protected within different areas.
For example, al-Mas'udi and many other historians report that Moses counted the army of the Israelites in the desert. He had all those able to carry arms, especially those twenty years and older, pass muster. …
Their buildings are good, and are so uniform that a whole side of a street looks like one house. The streets are twenty feet broad; there lie gardens behind all their houses. These are large, but enclosed with buildings, that on all hands face the streets, so that every house has both a door to the street and a back door to the garden. …
Manipulation arguments aim to show that compatibilism is false. Usually, they aim to undermine compatibilism by first eliciting the intuition that a manipulated agent is not morally responsible. Todd’s (Philosophers’ Imprint, 12(7): 1–18, 2012) Moral Standing Manipulation Argument instead aims to first elicit the intuition that a manipulator cannot blame her victim. Todd then argues that the best explanation for why a manipulator cannot blame her victim is that incompatibilism is true. In this paper, I present three lines of defence against this argument for those who agree a manipulator cannot blame her victim.
There is a common assumption that evolutionary explanations of religion undermine religious beliefs. Do etiological accounts similarly affect the rationality of religious practices? To answer this question, this paper looks at two influential evolutionary accounts of ritual, the hazard-precaution model and costly signaling theory. It examines whether Cuneo’s account of ritual knowledge as knowing to engage God can be maintained in the light of these evolutionary accounts. While the evolutionary accounts under consideration are not metaphysically incompatible with the idea that religious rituals engage God, they cast doubt on whether many, if not all, rituals can do this successfully.
Since for everything that has come into being destruction is appointed, not even such a fabric as this will abide for all time, but it shall surely be dissolved, and this is the manner of its dissolution. …
Arguments attempting to debunk moral beliefs, by showing they are unjustified, have tended to be global, targeting all moral beliefs or a large set of them. Popular debunking arguments point to various factors purportedly influencing moral beliefs, from evolutionary pressures, to automatic and emotionally-driven processes, to framing effects. We show that these sweeping arguments face a debunker’s dilemma: either the relevant factor is not a main basis for belief or it does not render the relevant beliefs unjustified. Empirical debunking arguments in ethics can avoid this predicament, but only if they are refocused on highly selective classes of moral belief. Experimental data can combine with familiar consistency reasoning to reveal that like cases are not being treated alike. Selective debunking arguments are unlikely to yield sweeping sceptical conclusions, but they can lead to rational moral change.
Someone might say: If the existence of this city [kallipolis] can only come about if people such as these happen to exist, and their existing with these qualities [is contingent on] their having grown up in this city, why then there is no way in this city can come into being. …
« It’s hard to think when someone Hadamards your brain
(Just a few politics-related comments to get off my chest. Feel free to skip if American politics isn’t your 5-liter bottle of Coke.) FiveThirtyEight currently gives Beto O’Rourke a ~29% chance of winning Ted Cruz’s Senate seat. …
In this article I articulate the Theory of Affective Pragmatics, which combines insights from the Basic Emotion View and the Behavioral Ecology View of emotional expressions. My core thesis is that emotional expressions are ways of manifesting one’s emotions but also of representing states of affairs, directing other people’s behaviors, and committing to future courses of actions. Since these are some of the main things we can do with language, my article’s take home message is that, from a communicative point of view, much of what we can do with language we can also do with nonverbal emotional expressions. 1. Introduction. A debate has been raging over the past 4 decades in the science of emotional expressions. On one side are basic emotion theorists, who believe that bodily movements can express a range of emotions and do so involuntarily (Ekman 1999b). On the other side are behavioral ecologists, who believe that the notion of involuntary emotional expressions makes no evolutionary sense and should be replaced by the notion of displays produced to serve the agent’s social motives (Fridlund 1994).
Recent literature has argued that what makes certain activities ranging from curing cancer to running a marathon count as achievements, and what makes achievements intrinsically valuable is, centrally, that they involve great effort. Although there is much the difficulty-based view gets right, I argue that it generates the wrong results about some central cases of achievement, and this is because it is too narrowly focused on only one perfectionist capacity, the will. I propose a revised perfectionist account on which an achievement is an activity that fully exercises or expresses any number of a range of perfectionist capacities.