The race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 is on. Finding a vaccine is the most promising route to lifting the public health restrictions currently in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has already killed hundreds of thousands of people and infected many more. It is possible that a viable candidate may emerge in the not too distant future. At the height of the pandemic, Canadian Prime Minister Justice Trudeau was asked whether he would consider making vaccination for COVID-19 mandatory. He opined that “we have a fair bit of time to reflect on ... [the best vaccination protocol] in order to get it right”. But the time to reflect is now. The legislative changes needed to develop and implement a policy are complex.
Many scholars believe that it is procedurally undemocratic for the judiciary to have an active role in shaping the law. These scholars believe either that such practices as judicial review and creative statutory interpretation are unjustified, or that they are justified only because they improve the law substantively. This Article argues instead that the judiciary can play an important procedurally democratic role in the development of the law. Majority rule by legislatures is not the only defining feature of democracy; rather, a government is democratic to the extent to which it provides egalitarian forms of political participation. One such form of participation can be the opportunity to influence the law through the courts, either directly by participating in a case or indirectly by advocating litigation. Arguing from several examples, this Article shows that judicial decision-making allows different voices to be heard that may not necessarily have influence or power in majoritarian legislative structures or popular initiatives. Giving citizens the opportunity to change, to preserve, and to obtain authoritative clarification of the law through the courts can thus make a government procedurally more democratic.
Pretense is often characterized as a form of imagination, more specifically as a sort of enactive imagination. But for the most part, pretending and imagining interact with one’s evaluative / affective systems differently. One tends to respond to imagined content with emotions similar to (albeit more attenuated than) those one would feel if that content was real. When pretending, however, one’s affective responses are often much more generalized, and insensitive to the content of the pretense. We suggest that this is because one’s attentional focus in pretense is on the actions themselves, and their correspondence with the scripts or roles being used to generate the pretense. Moreover, because pretense is intrinsically motivated, pretending is generally fun, irrespective of what, in particular, is being pretended.
Given how many academic papers are out there, it would be useful to have more filtering and discovery mechanisms for helping us to find the ones we might be most interested in. One thing that could help is if authors themselves offered a concise 'overview' of what they think makes their various papers worth reading (when they are). …
This paper focuses on the interaction of reasons and argues that reasons for an action may transmit to the necessary means of that action. Analyzing exactly how this phenomenon may be captured by principles governing normative transmission has proved an intricate task in recent years. In this paper, I assess three formulations focusing on normative transmission and necessary means: Ought Necessity, Strong Necessity, and Weak Necessity. My focus is on responding to two of the main objections raised against normative transmission for necessary means, in that they seem to give us reasons for buying tickets to plays we have no intention of seeing and that the principles give us the wrong result when the means are necessary but not sufficient. Even though these objections have been discussed previously, the counterarguments have so far relied on rejecting premises that the proponents of these objections are unlikely to concede. In this paper, I show how we may answer the objections in a way more likely to convince proponents of the objections. The result is an argument for a key aspect when it comes to understanding how reasons and ends-means normativity function. Normative transmission from ends to necessary means is not only interesting at the structural level, it is also possible to argue that it has implications for areas as diverse as philosophy of rationality, political philosophy and applied ethics.
There are two debates regarding whether practical considerations play a role in determining what one ought to believe. The first concerns whether the fact that having some doxastic attitude (e.g. believing, disbelieving, withholding) would be beneficial or harmful is a genuine normative reason for or against that attitude. For example, consider the following: Beneficial Belief Believing in an afterlife would alleviate your crippling anxiety about death. Harmful Belief Believing that your missing child is dead would cause your spouse suffering.
We argue that permissibility-based solutions to the paradox of supererogation encounter a nested dilemma. Such approaches solve the paradox by distinguishing moral and rational permissions. If they do not also include a bridge condition that relates these two permissions, then they violate a very plausible monotonicity condition. If they do include a bridge condition, then permissibility-based solutions either amount to rational satisficing or they collapse back into the classical account of supererogation and fail to resolve the paradox.
The possibility that normative motivations are basic or psychologically primitive is an intriguing one worthy of more attention. On the one hand, there is a powerful case that human minds are equipped with a psychological system dedicated to norms and norm-guided behavior (Setman and Kelly forthcoming). On the other hand, there has not yet been a convincing case made that there are any distinct, sui generis motivational resources that are unique or exclusive to this system. To the extent that the issue is addressed, many discussions simply proceed as if the motivations that drive different norm-guided behaviors are drawn from a number of different and more basic psychological sources. However, I do not think the possibility that some normative motivations are psychologically primitive has been ruled out.
We engage in normative and evaluative thought and talk throughout our lives. For example, we make claims about how we should treat other people, which movies are better than others, what kind of social/political institutions are just, and what makes a scientific theory a good one. In such thought and talk, we deploy a range of normative and evaluative concepts: e.g., SHOULD, JUSTICE, COURAGEOUS, IMPOLITE and GOOD. One possible target of normative and evaluative inquiry concerns those very normative and evaluative concepts themselves. For example, we might ask: are some of these concepts that we currently use defective in some way? Could they be improved? More generally: which normative or evaluative concepts should we be using, and why? We call normative or evaluative inquiry with this sort of target the conceptual ethics of normativity. (Henceforth, we will generally use ‘normative’ as a shorthand way to refer to both the normative and the evaluative). There are different motivations one can have for engaging in the conceptual ethics of normativity. One natural motivation is to either vindicate or improve one’s existing normative concepts. This paper aims to clarify and address what we take to be one of the deepest challenges to the conceptual ethics of normativity, where it is motivated in this way. Put roughly, the challenge arises from the fact that we need to use some of our own normative concepts in order to evaluate our normative concepts.
The Rawlsian veil of ignorance should induce agents to behave fairly in a distributive context. This work tried to re-propose, through a dictator game with giving and taking options, a sort of original position in which reasoning behind the veil should have constituted a moral cue for subjects involved in the distribution of a common output with unequal means of production. However, our experimental context would unwittingly recall more the Hobbesian state of nature than the Rawlsian original position, showing that the heuristic resource to the Rawlsian idea of a choice behind the veil is inefficacious in distributive contexts.
Under conditions of ideology, a standard model of normative political epistemology – relying on a domain-specific reflective equilibrium – risks status-quo bias. Social critique requires a more critical standpoint. What are the aims of social critique? How is such a standpoint achieved and what grounds its claims? One way of achieving a critical standpoint is through consciousness raising. Consciousness raising offers a paradigm shift in our understanding of the social world; but not all epistemic practices that appear to “raise” consciousness, are warranted. However, under certain conditions sketched in the paper, consciousness raising produces a warranted critical standpoint and a pro tanto claim against others. This is an important epistemic achievement, yet under conditions of collective self-governance, there is no guarantee that all warranted claims can be met simultaneously. There will be winners and losers even after legitimate democratic processes have been followed.
The basic axioms or formal conditions of decision theory, especially the ordering condition put on preferences and the axioms underlying the expected utility (EU) formula, are subject to a number of counter-examples, some of which can be endowed with normative value and thus fall within the ambit of a philosophical reflection on practical rationality. Against such counter-examples, a defensive strategy has been developed which consists in redescribing the outcomes of the available options in such a way that the threatened axioms or conditions continue to hold. We examine how this strategy performs in three major cases: Sen's counterexamples to the binariness property of preferences, the Allais paradox of EU theory under risk, and the Ellsberg paradox of EU theory under uncertainty. We find that the strategy typically proves to be lacking in several major respects, suffering from logical triviality, incompleteness, and theoretical insularity (i.e., being cut off from the methods and results of decision theory). To give the strategy more structure, philosophers have developed "principles of individuation"; but we observe that these do not address the aforementioned defects. Instead, we propose the method of checking whether the strategy can overcome its typical defects once it is given a proper theoretical expansion (i.e., it is duly developed using the available tools of decision theory). We find that the strategy passes the test imperfectly in Sen's case and not at all in Allais's. In Ellsberg's case, however, it comes close to meeting our requirement. But even the analysis of this more promising application suggests that the strategy ought to address the decision problem as a whole, rather than just the outcomes, and that it should extend its revision process to the very statements it is meant to protect. Thus, by and large, the same cautionary tale against redescription practices runs through the analysis of all three cases. A more general lesson, simply put, is that there is no easy way out from the paradoxes of decision theory.
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The Collapsing Leviathan
I was seriously depressed for the last week, by noticeably more than my baseline amount for the new pandemic-ravaged world. The depression seems to have been triggered by two pieces of news:
The US Food and Drug Administration—yes, the same FDA whose failure to approve covid tests in February infamously set the stage for the deaths of 100,000 Americans—has now also banned the Gates Foundation’s program for at-home covid testing. …
“real” deadlines, breaks the occasional promise, and bends the rules of games. This shouldn’t surprise anyone with two feet in reality; presumptive normative standards are habitually and unthinkingly violated in entirely unremarkable ways. These acts are surely not evil, but it’s puzzling whether we can treat them as wrong at all. How can it be wrong to do something that’s so commonplace, so venial, that criticizing someone for doing it itself feels wrong? The task of this essay is to attempt to answer this question.
The boundaries of social categories are frequently altered to serve normative projects, such as social reform. Griffiths and Khalidi argue that the value-driven modification of categories diminishes the epistemic value of social categories. I argue that concerns over value-modified categories are an endorsement of problematic assumptions of the value-free ideal of science. Contrary to those concerns, non-epistemic value considerations can increase the epistemic success of a scientific category. For example, the early history of the category infantile autism shows how non-epistemic value considerations can contribute to delimiting and establishing infantile autism as a distinct category in mainstream psychiatry. In the case of infantile autism, non-epistemic considerations have led to a new interpretation of existing data, the expansion of research to include biology, and the creation of diagnostic criteria that further contribute to collecting relevant data. Given this case study, we see that non-epistemic considerations may not be epistemically detrimental but can be epistemically beneficial in scientific classification.
Some, but not all, of the mistakes a person makes when acting in apparently necessary self-defense are reasonable: we take them not to violate the rights of the apparent aggressor. I argue that this is explained by duties grounded in agents’ entitlements to a fair distribution of the risk of suffering unjust harm. I suggest that the content of these duties is filled in by a social signaling norm, and offer some moral constraints on the form such a norm can take.
Edmund Burke, author of Reflections on the Revolution in
France, is known to a wide public as a classic political thinker:
it is less well understood that his intellectual achievement depended
upon his understanding of philosophy and use of it in the practical
writings and speeches by which he is chiefly known. The present essay
explores the character and significance of the use of philosophy in
his political thought. That thought is of the very first importance
for intellectual history and for the conduct of politics. This essay
is the first attempt to examine its philosophical character and to
connect the latter with Burke's political activity.
In my paper, I defend an interpretation according to which Aristotle thinks in Nicomachean Ethics (EN) that the rational aspect of soul is needed in discerning which ends of desire would be good. Many interpreters have traditionally supported this, ‘rationalist’ line of interpreting Aristotle’s theory of value cognition. The rationalist interpretation has, however, recently come under a novel challenge from Jessica Moss (2011, 2012), but has not yet received a defence. Moss attempts to resurrect now virtually abandoned ‘anti-rationalist’ interpretation, which claims, in a contrast to the rationalist one, that discerning good ends may require no activity from the rational aspect, but only well-habituated non-rational desire. Moss’ interpretation appeals to certain Aristotle’s claims in De Anima (DA) 3, which, she thinks, show that non-rational phantasia suffices for discerning good ends if only accompanied with the habituated desire. Although her interpretation can successfully avoid some problems that earlier anti-rationalist interpretations faced with certain passages of EN, I also argue, however that it introduces some new problems, and attributes philosophically incoherent views about moral responsibility to Aristotle. Therefore I conclude that even after Moss’ improvements to the anti-rationalist interpretation, the rationalist interpretation remains overall more plausible.
Leonard Savage famously contravened his own theory when first confronting the Allais Paradox, but then convinced himself that he had made an error. We examine the formal structure of Savage’s ‘error-correcting’ reasoning in the light of (i) behavioural economists’ claims to identify the latent preferences of individuals who violate conventional rationality requirements and (ii) John Broome’s critique of arguments which presuppose that rationality requirements can be achieved through reasoning. We argue that Savage’s reasoning is not vulnerable to Broome’s critique, but does not provide support for the view that behavioural scientists can identify and counteract errors in people’s choices.
Do famous athletes have special obligations to act virtuously? A number of philosophers have investigated this question by examining whether famous athletes are subject to special role model obligations (Wellman 2003; Feezel 2005; Spurgin 2012). In this paper we will take a different approach and give a positive response to this question by arguing for the position that sport and gaming celebrities are ‘ambassadors of the game’: moral agents whose vocations as rule-followers have unique implications for their non-lusory lives. According to this idea, the actions of a game’s players and other stakeholders—especially the actions of its stars—directly affect the value of the game itself, a fact which generates additional moral reasons to behave in a virtuous manner. We will begin by explaining the three main positions one may take with respect to the question: moral exceptionalism, moral generalism, and moral exemplarism. We will argue that no convincing case for moral exemplarism has thus far been made, which gives us reason to look for new ways to defend this position. We then provide our own ‘ambassadors of the game’ account and argue that it gives us good reason to think that sport and game celebrities are subject to special obligations to act virtuously.
Each of the ten million densely populated planets in Empress Alice’s vast intergalactic empire has an average of one person on death row who has exhausted all appeals. Empress Alice’s justice system is a really good one, but she knows it to be fallible like all justice systems, and her statistics show there is one in a million chance of an innocent being sentenced to death and exhausting all appeals. …
If a philosopher had fallen into a deep sleep – Rip Van Winkle-like – twenty years ago, and had just woken up, there’s no doubt much about today’s philosophical landscape that would confuse her. One such source of likely confusion is the currently thriving debate about the “normativity of rationality”. To someone (blissfully) ignorant of recent developments, the question of whether rationality is normative may seem to receive an obvious answer: well, of course. Claims about rationality and irrationality are normative claims. What else could they be? And yet the debate about the normativity of rationality rages on. Some prominent philosophers are skeptics about the normativity of rationality, while others devote whole books to defending it. Moreover, even many of those who defend the normativity of rationality are still skeptics about the normativity of structural rationality, the kind of rationality that is distinctively concerned only with coherence between our attitudes.
What does the aesthetic ask of us? What claims do the aesthetic features of the objects and events in our environment make on us? My answer in this paper is: that depends. Aesthetic reasons can only justify feelings – they cannot demand them. A corollary of this is that there are no aesthetic obligations to feel, only permissions. However, I argue, aesthetic reasons can demand actions – they do not merely justify them. A corollary of this is that there are aesthetic obligations to act, not only permissions. So, I conclude, the aesthetic asks little of us as patients and much of as agents.
In a recent article in this journal, David Faraci argues that the value of fairness can plausibly be appealed to in order to vindicate the view that consensual, mutually beneficial employment relationships can be wrongfully exploitative, even if employers have no obligation to hire or otherwise benefit those who are badly off enough to be vulnerable to wage exploitation. In this article, I argue that several values provide potentially strong grounds for thinking that it is at least sometimes better, morally speaking, for employers to hire worse off people at intuitively exploitative wages than to hire better off people at intuitively fair wages. Rather than suggesting that hiring badly off people at intuitively exploitative wages is permissible, however, I suggest that this gives us reason to think that employers can be obligated to hire worse off people rather than better off people and to pay them non-exploitative wages.
You have come to the troubling realization that a friend of yours, whom you have loved with affection for many years, isn’t the person he seemed to be. You hadn’t taken seriously enough the gossip about his obnoxious and cruel behavior. You never doubted his values when he made “colorful remarks”. And in the last few years, you’ve been so busy and distracted with work and family that you haven’t really been paying much attention to him at all. But now your attention is focused, your awareness heightened, and your eyes clear. You see now that he really is a pig, that his kindness really is put on, and that his charms are merely that charms. He is not refreshingly flakey, but unreliable and insincere. Not charismatic, but sloppy and arrogant. What you once believed to be his good qualities you now see as veneer over a mix of vice and hollowness underneath.
The aesthetics of our own actions are already a natural part of the rich experience of our lives. And the arts of action already exist in plenty; we are surrounded by them. Many of our artifacts are designed for the sake of encouraging and structuring the aesthetics of actions.
According to some philosophers of technology, technology embodies moral values in virtue of its functional properties and the intentions of its designers. But this paper shows that such an account makes the values supposedly embedded in technology epistemically opaque and that it does not allow for values to change. Therefore, to overcome these shortcomings, the paper introduces the novel Affordance Account of Value Embedding as a superior alternative. Accordingly, artefacts bear affordances, that is, artefacts make certain actions likelier given the circumstances. Based on an interdisciplinary perspective that invokes recent moral anthropology, I conceptualize affordances as response-dependent properties. That is, they depend on intrinsic as well as extrinsic properties of the artefact. We have reason to value these properties. Therefore, artefacts embody values and are not value-neutral, which has practical implications for the design of new technologies.
As Socrates famously noted, there is perhaps no more important question than how we ought to live. And the answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I’ve just received a substantial raise from my employer. What should I do with the extra money? It seems that I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I should live my life as I have most moral reason to live it or as I have most self-interested reason to live it depends on how these and other sorts of reasons combine and compete to determine what I have most reason to do, all things considered. This short book seeks to figure out how different sorts of reasons—and, in particular, moral reasons and non-moral reasons—combine and compete to determine how we ought to live.
What follows is an attempt to rewrite Michael Smith’s ‘What is the Moral Problem?’ in a way that is more accessible to introductory philosophy students. ‘What is the Moral Problem?’ is the first chapter of Smith’s The Moral Problem (1994), but I have rewritten here as if it is a standalone essay. This is one rewrite in a series that I am tentatively calling ‘Philosophy Uncovered’. My hope is that the piece can be read on its own, without any prior knowledge of philosophy in general or meta-ethics in particular. I have made no efforts to imitate Smith’s inimitable writing style.
Ethical Intuitionism was one of the dominant forces in British moral
philosophy from the early 18th century till the 1930s. It
fell into disrepute in the 1940s, but towards the end of the twentieth
century Ethical Intuitionism began to re-emerge as a respectable moral
theory. It has not regained the dominance it once enjoyed, but many
philosophers, including Robert Audi, Jonathan Dancy, David Enoch,
Michael Huemer, David McNaughton, and Russ Shafer-Landau, are now
happy to be labelled intuitionists. The most distinctive features of ethical intuitionism are its
epistemology and ontology.