This paper defends the Limited Use Viewof our duties to save. The Limited Use View holds that the duty to save is a duty to treat oneself, and perhaps one’s resources, as a means for preventing harm to others. But the duty to treat oneself as a means for the sake of others is limited. One need not treat oneself as a means when doing so is either very costly, or conflicts with one’s more stringent duties to others. This provides an agent-neutral account of the duty to save. When the cost of saving passes a certain threshold, one is permitted to fail to save, and it is impermissible for others to force one to save, if doing so will force one to incur an equal or greater cost. I argue that the Limited Use View is to be preferred to agent-relative accounts of the duty to save, which hold that the limit on our duty to save is grounded in an agent-relative prerogative to weight our own interests (and those of special others) more heavily than other people’s interests.
: Many of us hold false beliefs about matters that are relevant to public policy such as climate change and the safety of vaccines. What can be done to rectify this situation? This question can be read in two ways. According to the descriptive reading, it concerns which methods will be effective in persuading people that their beliefs are false. According to the normative reading, it concerns which methods we are permitted to use in the service of persuading people. Some effective methods—a programme of brainwashing, say—would not be permissible. In this paper I compare “methods of rational persuasion” with what you might call “marketing methods” such as how one frames the problem of climate change. My aim is to show that “marketing methods” are preferable to “methods of rational persuasion”. My argument has two parts. First, I argue that the evidence suggests that “marketing methods” are more effective in persuading people to change their minds. Second, I argue that “marketing methods” are an acceptable response to the normative question.
It is often taken for granted that our desires can contribute to what it is rational for us to do. This paper examines an account of desire that promises an explanation of this datum, the guise of the good. I argue that extant guise-of-the-good accounts fail to provide an adequate explanation of how a class of desires—basic desire—contribute to practical rationality. I develop an alternative guise-of-the-good account on which basic desires attune us to our reasons for action in virtue of their biological function. This account emphasises the role of desire as part of our competence to recognise and respond to normative reasons.
(150 words): Moral, social, political, and other “nonepistemic” values can lead to bias in science, from prioritizing certain topics over others to the rationalization of questionable research practices. Such values might seem particularly common or powerful in the social sciences, given their subject matter. However, I argue first that the well-documented phenomenon of motivated reasoning provides a useful framework for understanding when values guide scientific inquiry (in pernicious or productive ways). Second, this analysis reveals a parity thesis: values influence the social and natural sciences about equally, particularly because both are so prominently affected by desires for social credit and status, including recognition and career advancement. Ultimately, bias in natural and social science is both natural and social— that is, a part of human nature and considerably motivated by a concern for social status (and its maintenance). Whether the pervasive influence of values is inimical to the sciences is a separate question.
The following gives an overview of my beliefs about what it is to live an ethical life. At no point do I defend the beliefs or elaborate in sufficient detail to really persuade, I am simply trying to state them roughly and indicate how they interrelate. Often the claims are more an expression of mood or sentiment than anything to be taken too literally. Even the citations are not generally to defences of the views they are attached to, and in some cases the author’s views may be opposed to mine. Rather, at some point in writing this the bibliography became something like an intellectual auto-biography. The citations are thus to indicate pieces on the topic in question, which I have at some point over many years I read at least part of, and which made a noticeable impression on me. My views on ethics are not especially interesting, novel, or coherent. I imagine this document will mainly be of interest to me, but I share it on the encouragement of friends. I intend to return to this at some point and make the writing more aesthetically pleasing.
There is a rich and growing philosophical literature on humility and modesty, but, as Sara Rushing observes, “a fair number of professional philosophers … conflate humility with modesty without critically reflecting on the implications of treating the two terms as equivalent.” This conflation is unsurprising, because in ordinary language the terms are often used synonymously and interchangeably. Nonetheless, the concepts are distinct. Rushing herself does not do the work to distinguish between the concepts of humility and modesty, but her reflection on humility in Christian and Confucian traditions does gesture at the difference that I will argue for: Humility is internal; it is a matter of thought and feeling. Modesty is external; it is a matter of expression. The term ‘humility’ is etymologically connected with the Latin humus, meaning earth or soil. Although it can have connotations of lowliness, the concept of humility is perhaps better understood as being “down to earth” in one’s perspective. The term ‘modesty’ comes from the Latin modestia and connotes moderation, propriety, and correctness of conduct, which, as we will see, is appropriate to the concept of modesty.
How should governments decide between alternative taxation schemes, environmental protection regulations, infrastructure plans, climate change policies, healthcare systems, and other policies? One kind of consideration that should bear on such decisions is their effects on people’s well-being. The most rigorous methodology for evaluating such effects is the “social welfare function” (SWF) approach originating in the work of Abram Bergson and Paul Samuelson and further developed by Kenneth Arrow, Amartya Sen, and other economists.
F. A. Hayek and the Epistemology of Politics is primarily intended as a contribution to the philosophy and methodology of the Austrian School of economics (pp. 1-2). However, as the symposium participants are all quick to note, several of the book’s central arguments, especially those advanced in the first chapter, are of potential significance far beyond Austrian economics. The arguments of the first chapter present an important methodological challenge to multiple fields of political inquiry, to traditional political philosophy and theory, and to modern political science, as well as a significant practical problem for anyone concerned with the effectiveness of political action. Professional political thinkers and laypersons alike conceive the basic political problem to concern the motivations, reasons, incentives, etc., of policymakers. On this way of thinking, the fundamental problem to be solved, analytically, by the disciplines of political inquiry, and, practically, in political life, is how to ensure that policymakers are adequately motivated to pursue policy goals either that are in constituents’ interests or that constituents’ want pursued. I do not deny the significance of this problem or the value of the proposed solutions, whether analytical or practical-constitutional, that have been offered in the long course of the history of politics and political thought. The book does not suggest that we should scrap thousands of years of political inquiry and start all over again.
Scott Scheall has done an admirable job of making the occasionally dry and complicated issues of Hayekian political theory readable and even amusing. And he shows that he is an attentive student of Friedrich Hayek, particularly in the emphasis he places on epistemic humility which is certainly Hayek’s own principal teaching. But the result of Scheall’s skillful presentation is to lay bare just how flimsy that teaching really is as a guide to political wisdom, shorn of a normative framework.
This paper uses the example of the Covid-19 pandemic to analyse the danger associated with insufficient pluralism in evidence-based public health policy. Drawing on certain elements in Paul Feyerabend’s political philosophy of science, it discusses reasons for implementing more pluralism as well as challenges to be tackled on the way forward.
Two of the most systematic and well-developed theories of social norms analyse such norms in terms of patterns of individual attitudes. On Bicchieri’s view (2006, 2017), social norms most centrally involve a pattern of preferences among the members of a relevant population, conditional on their normative and empirical expectations of other members. According to Brennan et al. (2013; hereafter I will refer to this as the ‘BEGS account’), social norms most centrally involve patterns of normative attitudes among the members of a given group, grounded in a social practice of that group. This paper argues that the existence of attitudinal social norms speaks in favour of Bicchieri’s preference-based view, and against the BEGS account’s normative attitude-based view. I will first present some reasons to think that there are attitudinal social norms – social norms that demand not just behaviour, but also a variety of attitudes. I will then argue that, with a very minor modification, Bicchieri’s account can properly capture such attitudinal social norms and that the BEGS account cannot.
According to Aristotle, the medical art aims at health, which is a virtue of the body, and does so in an unlimited way. Consequently, medicine does not determine the extent to which health should be pursued, and “mental health” falls under medicine only via pros hen predication. Because medicine is inherently oriented to its end, it produces health in accordance with its nature and disease contrary to its nature—even when disease is good for the patient. Aristotle’s politician understands that this inherent orientation can be systematically distorted, and so would see the need for something like the Hippocratic Oath.
Imagine you are an untenured Professor and the only woman and person of color amongst the faculty in a Philosophy department. You are frequently approached by students, typically women or members of other underrepresented groups, looking for mentorship and emotional support as they navigate their academic experience. While you believe this service work is valuable with a view to increasing the representation of minorities in philosophy, it is also emotionally draining and takes significant time away from your own research. You feel trapped. If you do this sort of mentorship work, you help diversify the field in a way that will be better for you and other members of underrepresented groups. Moreover, if you refuse to do this work, you indirectly help to maintain a status quo in which women and people of color like yourself remain dramatically underrepresented and under-served. But, by doing this service work, you compromise your own research, and reinforce a system where disproportionate burdens are placed on women and people of color, making them less likely to succeed in the profession.
I've been binge-watching Doctor Who, and two days ago I finished Susanna Clarke's new novel Piranesi. I love them both! Doctor Who is among my favorite TV series ever, and the images of Piranesi will probably linger with me for the rest of my life. …
Debate about the epistemic prowess of historical science has focused on local underdetermination problems generated by a lack of historical data; the prevalence of information loss over geological time, and the capacities of scientists to mitigate it. Drawing on Leonelli’s recent distinction between ‘phenomena-time’ and ‘data-time’ I argue that factors like data generation, curation and management significantly complexifies and undermines this: underdetermination is a bad way of framing the challenges historical scientists face. In doing so, I identify circumstances of ‘epistemic scarcity’ where underdetermination problems are particularly salient, and discuss cases where ‘legacy data’—data generated using differing technologies and systems of practice—are drawn upon to overcome underdetermination. This suggests that one source of overcoming underdetermination is our knowledge of science’s past. Further, data-time makes agnostic positions about the epistemic fortunes of scientists working under epistemic scarcity more plausible. But agnosticism seems to leave philosophers without much normative grip. So, I sketch an alternative approach: focusing on the strategies scientists adopt to maximize their epistemic power in light of the resources available to them.
May 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Miguel Sánchez-Mazas, founder of Theoria. An International Journal of Theory, History and Foundations of Science, and regarded as the person who brought mathematical logic to Spain. Here we present some of his biographical features and a summary of his contributions, from his early work in the 1950s - introducing contemporary advances in logic and philosophy of science in a philosophically backward milieu dominated by the scholasticism of that era in Spain - to the development of a project of Lebnizian lineage aimed at producing an arithmetic calculation that would elude some of the difficulties confronting Leibniz’s calculus. KEYWORDS: Miguel Sánchez-Mazas, Leibniz, numerical characteristic, calculation of norms, jurisprudence.
Compatibilist defenses of moral responsibility provide conditions under which an action can be blameworthy or praiseworthy even if that action is determined. It is often thought, however, that there are certain sorts of causal factors that should mitigate praise and blame attributions, notwithstanding that those conditions for responsibility are met. In other words, even for the compatibilist, there are certain causes that might lead one to act that would render typical punishments or rewards unfair, and require a different sort of moral response. A paradigmatic case is that of addiction, insofar as addicts may be seen, by the compatibilist, as lacking freedom in two senses: the usual one of existing in a determined universe, and an extraordinary one, resulting from their compulsive prioritization of using over all else. Often in the philosophical literature, as well as in popular media, the character of the addict is portrayed as compelled or “seduced” by their addiction, even as they are, in some sense, choosing when they act on it (Cummins 2014; Grim 2007, 191). The paradigm of addiction is therefore useful for philosophers interested in thinking about free will and moral responsibility, but worried about the possible scope of mitigating causal histories (Berofsky 2005, Kane 2020, Levy 2011, Shatz 1988, Yaffe 2011). The compulsive prioritization of using over other desires is taken to indicate a difference in kind between the addict and the rest of us, and gives grounds for delineating exceptional cases from typical ones when it comes to assigning desert.
I have always been uncomfortable with the epithet “moral philosopher”—not because I doubt that we should care about other people, or respect the rights they have against us, but because I’ve never been sure I understand the distinctive moral vocabulary. When I deliberate about my actions, I ask what I should do and why; I don’t tend to think in explicitly moral terms. There are uses of “moral” with which I have no problem, as when “moral philosophy” just means ethics, concerned with how we should live, or when “moral virtue” means virtue of character. But when we come to “moral obligation,” “moral wrongness,” and “moral reasons,” I feel lost.
No Face Ghost by Duangrat AnutaratanyaA picture of continuitySome beliefs are epistemically innocent when they are irrational but provide epistemic benefits that would not be available otherwise. We already saw some examples: delusion, confabulation, and optimistically biased beliefs. …
This essay presents a novel approach to specifying the meaning of the concept of populism, on the political position it occupies and on the nature of populism. Employing analytic techniques of concept clarification and recent analytic ideology critique, it develops populism as a political kind in three steps. First, it descriptively specifies the stereotype of populist platforms as identified in extant research and thereby delimits the peculiar political position populism occupies in representative democracies as neither inclusionary nor fascist. Second, it specifies on this basis analytically–normatively the particular stance towards liberal representative democracy (in particular towards popular sovereignty and democratic legitimacy) that unifies populism’s political position and explains how populist politics can be compelling for democratic citizens. The normative core (populist ideology) turns out to require no more than two general principles of legitimizing political authority by elections. Surprisingly, it does not need a separate anti-pluralist or exclusionary commitment: it entails it. Third, this normative model allows a response to a contested question in the theoretical discussion, namely, whether populism (properly specified) can be democracy-enhancing. The article defends the negative answer in virtue of the normative core alone and does so as much vis-`a-vis a minimal (purely electoral) as vis-`a-vis a normatively ambitious (liberal) conception of democracy. The reconstruction of the normative core of populist ideology enables a novel argument to show that populism is incompatible with the continued democratic legitimation of political authority even in the normatively most austere conception of ‘electoral democracy’, not just with ‘liberal democracy’. Assuming a normatively more ambitious concept of democratic legitimation in terms of political autonomy, the model also produces an extremely direct argument showing that populists cannot fulfil their promise of ‘taking back control’ over political decision-making to the population.
Disputes about the question of the relationship of democracy and economy in the EU have a long history and found their expression in the extended period of self-finding of the EU between the poles of being merely an international agreement of economic cooperation and of being a political project of European unification necessarily issuing in a national (perhaps federal) state. The question how much EU-sovereignty can be legitimized within national decision-making political communities is, if anything, more pressing now than at the inception of the EU. At the same time, the recalcitrance of problems during the latest crisis in the Eurozone, and the energy of the rejection of supranational governance in the name of returning to familiar patterns of national sovereignty in recent elections and openly anti-democratic and xenophobic popular movements often avert deeper, principled doubts. One of these more principled skepticisms concerns the very possibility that any governance-structure like the EU could produce democratically legitimate decisions binding national democratic sovereigns. How much EU-sovereignty is legitimate can only be asked assuming it false that no supranational sovereignty at all can be legitimate. Such profound skepticism as it expresses itself in the successful Brexit-referendum and the wave of announcement of similar ‘taking back of control’ referenda throughout the member-states, however, requires normatively to believe it to be true that national decision making must have priority, which is itself only a legitimate norm if the national level is per se more legitimate than suprana-
Three Little Wild Boar and the Big Bad Wolf by Duangrat AnutaratanyaIncurable confabulatorsPhilosophers sometimes describe humans as rational animals. It would be more accurate to say that we are confabulating animals. …
Is the overall value of a world just the sum of values contributed by each value-bearing entity in that world? Additively separable axiologies (like total utilitarianism, prioritarianism, and critical level views) say ‘yes’, but non-additive axiologies (like average utilitarianism, rank-discounted utilitarianism, and variable value views) say ‘no’. This distinction is practically important: additive axiologies support ‘arguments from astronomical scale’ which suggest (among other things) that it is overwhelmingly important for humanity to avoid premature extinction and ensure the existence of a large future population, while non-additive axiologies need not. We show, however, that when there is a large enough ‘background population’ unaffected by our choices, a wide range of non-additive axiologies converge in their implications with some additive axiology—for instance, average utilitarianism converges to critical-level utilitarianism and various egalitarian theories converge to prioritiarianism. We further argue that real-world background populations may be large enough to make these limit results practically significant. This means that arguments from astronomical scale, and other arguments in practical ethics that seem to presuppose additive separability, may be truth-preserving in practice whether or not we accept additive separability as a basic axiological principle.
In many contexts, all of the individual members of a group can
benefit from the efforts of each member and all can benefit
substantially from collective action. For example, if each of us
pollutes less by paying a bit extra for our cars, we all benefit from
the reduction of harmful gases in the air we breathe and even in the
reduced harm to the ozone layer that protects us against exposure to
carcinogenic ultraviolet radiation (although those with fair skin
benefit far more from the latter than do those with dark skin). If all
of us or some subgroup of us prefer the state of affairs in which we
each pay this bit over the state of affairs in which we do not, then
the provision of cleaner air is a collective good for us.
As it has become apparent that there is a need to broaden the emphasis of science education and ensure that every student achieves a level of science literacy, science educators face the challenge of addressing new audiences that are not always well-served by traditional presentations of scientific material. The challenge of presenting agricultural science to urban African American students typifies a scenario that necessitates devising new approaches to teach people who were previously overlooked or even ignored by the scientific community. The Young Scholars Program at The Ohio State University (OSU) is a 6-year pre-collegiate intervention program designed to prepare academically talented, economically disadvantaged minority students for college education. This novel outreach program was developed with the primary intention of enhancing the educational background of all of these young people by increasing their agricultural literacy. A secondary goal lay in the hope that some of these students might be enticed to consider the possibility of collegiate study in agricultural fields, thus infusing some much needed racial/ethnic diversity into the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences’ student population. To address anticipated disinterest on the part of the students, an informal approach designed to emphasize the relevance, breadth, technical sophistication, and aesthetic components of agricultural science was devised. Students were taken on educational field trips to various college departments as part of an academic program during summer visits to the OSU. Efforts were made to use nontraditional (all women and men of color) scientists as many of the presenters to break down the stereotypical notion that only white males do science. Deliberate educational strategies were employed to enhance the educative aspects of the visits. A science/writing exercise served the dual purpose of prompting student reflection as well as being the evaluation instrument to assess the efficacy of the program. The success of this effort to reshape the traditional presentation of agriculture was demonstrated in much of the testimony of the students as well as the verbal and written observations of the adults involved. The demonstrable success of this project documents the possibility of an initiative addressing the dual challenge of opening the doors of science while simultaneously cultivating the interest of historically underrepresented people in nontraditional subject areas. This research further supports the idea that an informal approach to science education can be a particularly effective intervention strategy for reaching out to underserved students.
Research in the psychology of causal thinking has frequently revealed effects of normative considerations on causal attributions, where participants tend to assign causality more strongly to agents who violate a norm in bringing about an outcome. Across several experiments, we show that it is possible to reverse this norm effect when the outcome in question is good rather than bad: in these cases, participants assign causality more strongly to a norm-conforming agent than to an agent who violates a norm. We argue that this supports an explanation of the norm effect according to which it is due to a tendency to interpret statements of the form “X caused Y” or “X is the cause of Y” as assigning responsibility to X for bringing Y about.
Virtual bargaining tries to explain why some actions suggested in games by best response reasoning appear unreasonable and why real players often succeed easily in some coordination problems, although orthodox game theory is unable to resolve them. Yet the original account of virtual bargaining was lacking a proper mathematical formalism, a convincing motivation for players to follow the reasoning as well as a deliberate notion of the feasible agreements and the disagreement point. However, the ideas of two recent papers on virtual bargaining, one of them yet unpublished, can overcome some of the initial problems, while also raising new issues. I will argue here that the latest account rests on an implausible disagreement point, an in general unintuitive assumption of non-spiteful best responses and an inconsistent definition of the worst payoff function. Yet I propose a new disagreement point, which I argue to be convincing and which justifies a slightly weaker assumption than non-spitefulness for an arbitrary number of players such that virtual bargaining accounts for the phenomena, it tries to explain. Moreover, I will adequately generalize the worst payoff function and the virtual bargaining equilibrium (VBE) for n-player games, while also outlining the epistemic conditions for a VBE to be chosen.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly expected to disrupt the ordinary functioning of society. From how we fight wars or govern society, to how we work and play, and from how we create to how we teach and learn, there is almost no field of human activity which is believed to be entirely immune from the impact of this emerging technology. This poses a multifaceted problem when it comes to designing and understanding regulatory responses to AI. This article aims to: (i) defend the need for a novel conceptual model for understanding the systemic legal disruption caused by new technologies such as AI; (ii) to situate this model in relation to preceding debates about the interaction of regulation with new technologies (particularly the cyberlaw a d b la deba e ); and (iii) to set out a detailed model for understanding the legal disruption precipitated by AI, examining both pathways stemming from new affordances that can give rise to a regulatory di i e e , a ell a he Legal De el e , Di lace e De c i that can c i that can ensue. The article proposes that this model of legal disruption can be broadly generalisable to understanding the legal effects and challenges of other emerging technologies. Thus, while our model of legal disruption is crafted in response to the specific regulatory challenges raised by AI, we believe that, with minor modifications, this model can be usefully deployed to understand the challenges raised by future emerging technologies, and to structure regulatory responses to those challenges.
Reasonably Polarized will be back next week. In the meantime, here's a guest post on the rationality of framing effects, by Sarah Fisher (University of Reading), based on a forthcoming paper of hers that asks whether the "at least" reading of number terms can yield a rational explanation of framing effects. …
One potentially ethically relevant feature of an utterance is that utterance’s influence on the likelihoods that our future discourses wind up with one Stalnakerian ‘common ground’ or body of shared information rather than another. Such likelihoods matter ethically, so the ways our utterances influence them can matter ethically, despite the fact that such influences are often unintended, and often hard to see. By offering a relatively neutral descriptive framework that can enhance our collective sensitivity to and and discussion of ethically, socially, and politically important features of language use, this paper contributes to the ethics of language use. It discusses ways in which utterances can influence the likelihoods of future common grounds by deploying one system of categorization rather than another, and argues that language’s effects on the evolution of discourse can affect the paths to and probabilities of different sorts of consensus.