Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy http://www.jesp.org/ Publications from the Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy en-us jesp@law.usc.edu jesp@law.usc.edu 1200 Sat ,23 Sep 2017 , 16:24:32 GMT Sat ,23 Sep 2017 , 16:24:32 GMTThe Motives for Moral CreditTo deserve credit for doing what is morally right, we must act from the right kinds of motives. Acting from the right kinds of motives invol...

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To deserve credit for doing what is morally right, we must act from the right kinds of motives. Acting from the right kinds of motives involves responding both to the morally relevant reasons, by acting on these considerations, and to the morally relevant individuals, by being guided by appropriate attitudes of regard for them. Recent theories of the right kinds of motives have tended to prioritize responding to moral reasons. I develop a theory that instead prioritizes responding to individuals (through appropriate attitudes of regard for them) and argue that it better accounts for the basic features of the right kinds of motives — what we most fundamentally care about in judging whether persons deserve moral credit.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=111http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=111Mon,01 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 May 2017 00:00:00 GMTVirtuous and Vicious AngerI defend an account of when and why anger is morally virtuous or vicious. Anger often manifests what we care about; a sports fan gets angry ...

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I defend an account of when and why anger is morally virtuous or vicious. Anger often manifests what we care about; a sports fan gets angry when her favorite team loses because she cares about the team doing well. Anger, I argue, is made morally virtuous or vicious by the underlying care or concern. Anger is virtuous when it manifests moral concern and vicious when it manifests moral indifference or ill will. In defending this view, I reject two common views about anger and moral character. First, I respond to several arguments that attempt to show that all anger is vicious. Then I respond to the view that some anger is required to be a virtuous person. Anger, on my view, can be morally virtuous but is not a necessary condition for being a virtuous person. This best accommodates not only morally irrelevant failures to get angry but also allows for emotional variation among virtuous people.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=110http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=110Wed,01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMTNon-Naturalism and ReferenceMetaethical realists disagree about the nature of normative properties. Naturalists think that they are ordinary natural properties: causall...

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Metaethical realists disagree about the nature of normative properties. Naturalists think that they are ordinary natural properties: causally efficacious, a <i>posteriori</i> knowable, and usable in the best explanations of natural and social sciences. Non-naturalist realists, in contrast, argue that they are <i>sui generis:</i> causally inert, <i>a priori</i> knowable and not a part of the subject matter of sciences. It has been assumed so far that naturalists can explain causally how the normative predicates manage to refer to normative properties, whereas non-naturalists are unable to provide equally satisfactory metasemantic explanations. This article first describes how the previous non-naturalist accounts of reference fail to tell us how the normative predicates could have come to refer to the non-natural properties rather than to the natural ones. I will then use the so-called <i>qua-problem</i> to show how the causal theories of reference of naturalists also fail to fix the reference of normative predicates to unique natural properties. Finally, I will suggest that, just as naturalists need to rely on the non-causal mechanism of <i>reference magnetism</i> to solve the previous problem, non-naturalists, too, can rely on the very same idea to respond to the pressing metasemantic challenges that they face concerning reference.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=109http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=109Wed,01 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMTDepression and the Problem of Absent Desires I argue that consideration of certain cases of severe depression reveals a problem for desire-based theories of welfare. I first show that d...

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I argue that consideration of certain cases of severe depression reveals a problem for desire-based theories of welfare. I first show that depression can result in a person losing her desires and then identify a case wherein it seems right to think that, as a result of very severe depression, the individuals described no longer have any desires whatsoever. I argue that the state these people are in is a state of profound ill-being: their lives are going very poorly for them. Yet desire theories get this case wrong. Because no desires are being frustrated, the desire theorist has no grounds for ascribing ill-being; indeed, because the individuals described seem utterly without desire, the desire theorist has no grounds for treating these people as subjects of welfare ascription at all. I argue that these results are unacceptable; therefore, we should reject desire-based theories of wellbeing and ill-being.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=108http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=108Wed,01 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMTOffsetting Race Privilege For all the talk lately about privilege, few have commented on the moral obligations associated with having privilege. Those who have commen...

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For all the talk lately about privilege, few have commented on the moral obligations associated with having privilege. Those who have commented have not gone much beyond the idea that the privileged should be conscious of their privilege and should listen to those who do not have it. Here we want to go further and build an account of the moral obligations of those with a particular kind of privilege: race privilege. In this paper, we articulate an understanding of race privilege, show how a person can know when she has it and argue that a race-privileged person has obligations to offset her privilege. We make concrete suggestions for how she can, at least approximately, do this. We use particular racial-group disparities in the United States as our running example throughout the paper, although our conclusions generalize.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=107http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=107Sun,01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMTIrrationality and Happiness: A (Neo-)Schopenhaurian Argument for Rational PessimismThere is a long tradition in philosophy of blaming passions for our unhappiness. If only we were more rational, it is claimed, we would live...

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There is a long tradition in philosophy of blaming passions for our unhappiness. If only we were more rational, it is claimed, we would live happier lives. I argue that such optimism is misguided and that, paradoxically, people with desires, like us, cannot be both happy and rational. More precisely, if someone rational has desires he will not be fully happy, and if he has some desires that are rational and — in a yet-to-be-specified sense — demanding, he will be frankly unhappy. Call this claim Rational Pessimism. The argument for Rational Pessimism can be considered as a variation on a Schopenhauerian argument that bluntly claims that, because desires involve lack and suffering, desiring souls like us cannot be happy. I argue that, even if Schopenhauer’s argument escapes most attacks that have been targeted against it, it faces decisive empirical objections. I argue that Schopenhauer’s argument can, however, be rescued if it is assumed that we are rational.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=106http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=106Thu,01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMTNormative Pluralism Worthy of the Name Is FalseNormative pluralism is the view that practical reason consists in an irreducible plurality of normative domains, that these domains sometime...

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Normative pluralism is the view that practical reason consists in an irreducible plurality of normative domains, that these domains sometimes issue conflicting recommendations and that, when this happens, there is never any one thing that one ought simpliciter to do. Here I argue against this view, noting that normative pluralism must be either unrestricted or restricted. Unrestricted pluralism maintains that all coherent standards are reason-generating normative domains, whereas restricted pluralism maintains that only some are. Unrestricted pluralism, depending on how it is cashed out, is either nihilism about practical reason or else it is subjectivism. Neither view is consistent with normative pluralism; hence, pluralism must be restricted. Restricted pluralism, however, faces two problems. The first stems from the question: “Why is it that some standards are normative domains while others are not?” The question seems to demand an answer, but it is hard to give any answer without appealing to considerations that imply facts about what we ought simpliciter to do. Second, restricted pluralism has difficulty accounting for our intuitions about cases in which one option is optimal in all domains, but not better than each alternative in any one domain. The unique option that is optimal in every domain seems better than its competitors, though it isn’t better within any domain. This is different than the widely discussed argument from notable-nominal comparisons. So I conclude that we have good reason to reject restricted pluralism, the only form of normative pluralism really worthy of that name.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=105http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=105Tue,01 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMTPromises and Conflicting ObligationsThis paper addresses two questions. First, can a binding promise conflict with other binding promises and thereby generate conflicting oblig...

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This paper addresses two questions. First, can a binding promise conflict with other binding promises and thereby generate conflicting obligations? Second, can binding promises conflict with other non-promissory obligations, so that we are obliged to keep so-called “wicked promises”? The answer to both questions is yes. The discussion examines both “natural right” and “social practice” approaches to promissory obli-gation, and I conclude that neither can explain why we should be unable to make binding promises that conflict with our prior obligations. I also consider the parallel case of “wicked commands.”

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=104http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=104Tue,01 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMTActualism Has Control IssuesAccording to actualism, an agent ought to &#966; just in case what would happen if she were to &#966; is better than what would happen if sh...

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According to actualism, an agent ought to &#966; just in case what would happen if she were to &#966; is better than what would happen if she were to ~&#966;. We argue that actualism makes a morally irrelevant distinction between certain counterfactuals, given that an agent sometimes has the same kind of control over their truth-value. We then offer a substantive revision to actualism that avoids this morally irrelevant distinction by focusing on a certain kind of control that is available to an agent. Finally, we show how this revised view has two additional advantages over actualism.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=103http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=103Sat,01 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMTNormative Source and Extensional AdequacyInternalists about practical reasons maintain that all of an agent’s reasons for action derive their normative force via some relation in wh...

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Internalists about practical reasons maintain that all of an agent’s reasons for action derive their normative force via some relation in which they stand with that agent’s pro-attitudes, or the pro-attitudes that the agent would have in some idealized set of circumstances. One common complaint against internalism is that the view is extensionally inadequate — that it cannot render the correct verdicts about what reasons agents have in a range of important cases. In this paper, I examine that charge of extensional inadequacy, taking as my starting point an argument that Derek Parfit has recently leveled against internalism. Through a close evaluation of that argument and potential replies to it, I attempt to show that internalists cannot accommodate important pre-theoretical intuitions about what reasons we have. However, I also argue that Parfit’s case is importantly overstated; I set out to show that his argument cannot establish, as he thinks it does, that no reasons derive their normative force in the way that internalists believe that all do. In doing so, I draw attention to the possibility of a hybrid position about practical reasons that, surprisingly, receives little attention in the existing literature. If the arguments of the paper succeed, I will have established a modest theoretical advantage for hybridism over internalism — namely, that it is not vulnerable to the charge of extensional inadequacy. My hope is that this goes some way toward establishing hybridism’s credentials as a serious alternative to its “pure” competitors.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=102http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=102Mon,01 Aug 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Aug 2016 00:00:00 GMTThe Guise of the BadMy topic is the possibility of acting in the belief that the action is bad and for the reason that it is, as the agent believes, bad. On rou...

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My topic is the possibility of acting in the belief that the action is bad and for the reason that it is, as the agent believes, bad. On route, I examine another question — namely whether agents can, without having any relevant false beliefs, perform actions motivated by the badness of those actions. The main worry is the compatibility of action for the sake of the bad with the thesis of the Guise of the Good (roughly that actions undertaken with an intention to perform them are undertaken because they are, as the agents see things, good in some respects). The examina-tion is helped by considering the way reason explanations and the more widely understood normative explanations can explain actions, in light of the conditions for the rationality of actions and the bearing of masking beliefs (broadly: self-deceived beliefs that mask the agents’ true motives or reasons from them) on the explanation of their actions. The discussion leads to consideration of the possibility of various conceptual mistakes. Given the variety of human motivations, I focus on the interpretation of one case: the Luciferian motive, understood, roughly, as the drive to defy the limits of thought or of rational thought.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=101http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=101Fri,01 Jul 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Jul 2016 00:00:00 GMTQuirky Desires and Well-BeingAccording to a desire-satisfaction theory of well-being, the satisfaction of one’s desires is what promotes one’s well-being. Against this, ...

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According to a desire-satisfaction theory of well-being, the satisfaction of one’s desires is what promotes one’s well-being. Against this, it is frequently objected that some desires are beyond the pale of well-being relevance, for example: the desire to count blades of grass, the desire to collect dryer lint and the desire to make handwritten copies of War and Peace, to name a few. I argue that the satisfaction of such desires — I call them “quirky” desires — does indeed contribute to a desirer’s well-being, when (and only when) the desirer is able to provide what Anscombe calls a desirability characterization of the object of the desire. One successfully provides such a characterization when one is able to describe the object of desire in such a way as to make comprehensible to others what she sees as positive, worthy of pursuit, in that object. To make the case, I consider common desires such as the desires to take a walk on the beach, drink a beer or listen to music. I argue that, although the well-being relevance of such common desires normally is not questioned, their satisfactions contribute to well-being just in case the same condition is met. I then argue by analogy with common desires that quirky desires are also relevant to well-being just in case that condition is met. After sketching this solution to the problem of quirky desires, I show that this response is better than other responses that have been given by desire theorists. I then develop several aspects of this account in response to objections that can be raised against it. Among these (to name a few) are the objection that my account does not apply to the well-being of infants and other inarticulate persons; the objection that intrinsic desires, such as for pleasure, cannot be given desirability characterizations; and the objection that desirability characterizations must advert to pleasure or to objectively good properties of the object of desire, so that my account reduces either to hedonism or to an objective view of well-being.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=100http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=100Wed,01 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMTLiberalism or Immigration Restrictions, But Not BothThis paper argues for a dilemma: you can accept liberalism or immigration restrictions, but not both. More specifically, the standard argume...

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This paper argues for a dilemma: you can accept liberalism or immigration restrictions, but not both. More specifically, the standard arguments for restricting freedom of movement apply equally to textbook liberal freedoms, such as freedom of speech, religion, occupation and reproductive choice. We begin with a sketch of liberalism’s core principles and an argument for why freedom of movement is plausibly on a par with other liberal freedoms. Next we argue that, if a state’s right to self-determination grounds a prima facie right to restrict immigration, then it also grounds a prima facie right to restrict freedom of speech, religion, sexual choice and more. We then suggest that the social costs associated with freedom of immigration are also costs associated with occupational choice, speech and reproduction. Thus, a state’s interest in reducing these costs gives it prima facie justification to restrict not only immigration but also other core liberal freedoms. Moreover, we rebut the objection that, even if the standard arguments for a prima facie right to restrict immigration also support a prima facie right to restrict liberal freedoms generally, there are differences that render immigration restrictions — but not restrictions on speech, religion, etc. — justified all things considered. In closing, we suggest that the theoretical price of supporting immigration restrictions — viz., compromising a commitment to liberal principles — is too steep to pay.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=99http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=99Sun,01 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 May 2016 00:00:00 GMTReconsidering ResolutionsIn Willing, Wanting, Waiting, Richard Holton lays out a detailed account of resolutions, arguing that they enable agents to resist temptatio...

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In Willing, Wanting, Waiting, Richard Holton lays out a detailed account of resolutions, arguing that they enable agents to resist temptation. Holton claims that temptation often leads to inappropriate shifts in judgment, and that resolutions are a special kind of first- and second-order intention pair that blocks such judgment shift. In this paper, I elaborate upon an intuitive but underdeveloped objection to Holton’s view — namely, that his view does not enable agents to successfully block the transmission of temptation in the way that he claims, because the second-order intention is as equally susceptible to temptation as the first-order intention alone would be. I appeal to independently compelling principles — principles that Holton should accept, because they help fill an important explanatory gap in his account — to demonstrate why this objection succeeds. This argument both shows us where Holton’s view goes wrong and points us to the kind of solu-tion we need. In conclusion, I sketch an alternative account of resolutions as a first-order intention paired with a second-order desire. I argue that my account is not susceptible to the same objection because a temptation that cannot be blocked by an intention can be blocked by a desire.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=98http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=98Sun,01 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 May 2016 00:00:00 GMTThe Normative Significance of SelfA number of recent (and not so recent) works in the metaethics of practical rationality have suggested that features of a person’s character...

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A number of recent (and not so recent) works in the metaethics of practical rationality have suggested that features of a person’s character, commitments, projects, practical identities and social roles have important normative consequences. For instance, I might commit to caring for a loved one, or I might become an artist, or take on the role of father to a child. In each case, it seems right to say that the normative landscape I face has been altered by this new fact — to put them under one general heading, the new fact about my self. In this paper, I explore the normative significance of self and how best it is to be understood. Typically, views that posit the normative significance of self hold that the content of one’s self can create practical reasons to behave in particular ways. For instance, if I become a father, this means that there are additional reasons to care for my child than there were prior to this fact of self. I argue, however, that this suggestion cannot be plausibly sustained — facts of self do not give rise to practical reasons. I show that, while there are two ways that facts of self might give rise to or create new practical reasons, both succumb to very serious problems. However, or so I also argue, we can salvage the normative significance of self via an alternative mechanism. Facts of self, such as the fact that one is an artist or a father, do not create new reasons. Rather, they strengthen certain pre-existing reasons, viz., those reasons to which I am especially susceptible given this fact of self.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=97http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=97Fri,01 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMTReducing ReasonsReasons are considerations that figure in sound reasoning. This is considered by many philosophers to be little more than a platitude. I arg...

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Reasons are considerations that figure in sound reasoning. This is considered by many philosophers to be little more than a platitude. I argue that it actually has surprising and far-reaching metanormative implications. The view that reasons are linked to sound reasoning seems platitudinous only because we tend to assume that soundness is a normative property, in which case the view merely relates one normative phenomenon (reasons) to another (soundness). I argue that soundness is also a descriptive phenomenon, one we can pick out with purely descriptive terms, and that the connection between normative reasons and sound reasoning therefore provides the basis for a reductive account of reasons. Like all proposed reductions, this one must confront some version of G. E. Moore’s open question argument. I argue that a reductive view rooted in the idea that reasons figure in sound reasoning is well-equipped to meet the open question challenge head on.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=96http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=96Mon,01 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMTResisting Tracing's Siren SongDrunk drivers and other culpably incapacitated wrongdoers are often taken to pose a problem for reasons-responsiveness accounts of moral res...

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Drunk drivers and other culpably incapacitated wrongdoers are often taken to pose a problem for reasons-responsiveness accounts of moral responsibility. These accounts predicate moral responsibility upon an agent having the capacities to perceive and act upon moral reasons, and the culpably incapacitated wrongdoers lack exactly those capacities at the time of their wrongdoing. Many reasons-responsiveness advocates thus expand their account of responsibility to include a tracing condition: The culpably incapacitated wrongdoer is blameworthy despite his incapacitation precisely because he is responsible for becoming incapacitated. As some skeptics have suggested, it is not clear that we need tracing. Here, however, I make a stronger case against tracing: I show that tracing gets things wrong. I consider a new sort of case, the case of the Odysseus agent, whose incapacitation is non-culpable (sometimes merely permissible and sometimes praiseworthy). Tracing would have us hold responsible and therefore blame unlucky Odysseus agents, Odysseus agents who commit a wrongdoing in the throes of their non-culpably induced incapacitation. But we should not hold these unlucky Odysseus agents responsible for their incapacitated wrongdoing. Because tracing gets these cases wrong, we should reject tracing.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=95http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=95Fri,01 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMTHarmIn recent years, philosophers have proposed a variety of accounts of the nature of harm. In this paper, I consider several of these accounts...

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In recent years, philosophers have proposed a variety of accounts of the nature of harm. In this paper, I consider several of these accounts and argue that they are unsuccessful. I then make a modest case for a different view.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=85http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=85Thu,01 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMTOn the Nature, Existence and Significance of Organic UnitiesMany philosophers have endorsed G. E. Moore’s principle of organic unities — according to which the value of a whole must not be assumed to ...

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Many philosophers have endorsed G. E. Moore’s principle of organic unities — according to which the value of a whole must not be assumed to be the same as the sum of the values of its parts — claiming this principle to be of fundamental importance to ethics. In this paper, I cast doubt on the principle. In Section 1, I provide a provisional reformulation of the principle of organic unities and contrast such unities with mere sums of value. In Section 2, I do some groundwork in order to arrive at an account of the part—whole relation with which the principle of organic unities is concerned. In so doing, I provide some further reformulations of that principle. In Section 3, I discuss the isolation method that Moore proposes for determining the value of something, and then, in Section 4, I begin an extended discussion of a particular example of an alleged organic unity, namely, <em>Schadenfreude</em>. I explain why some philosophers claim that such pleasure constitutes an organic unity, but I also present reasons for denying this claim. In Section 5, I pursue one of these reasons in particular, a reason that appeals to the concept of what I call evaluative inadequacy, and, in Section 6, I seek to motivate this appeal by drawing on the relation between value and fitting attitudes. In so doing, I provide still further reformulations of the principle of organic unities. In Section 7, I entertain objections to my account of <em>Schadenfreude</em>, one of which requires one final reformulation of the principle of organic unities, and then, in Section 8, I discuss the more general objection that, even if my reasons for denying that <em>Schadenfreude</em> constitutes an organic unity are cogent, these reasons do not extend to other alleged organic unities, such as the related phenomenon of <em>Mitleid</em>. In the final section, I address the significance of the debate about whether the principle of organic unities is true.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=84http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=84Thu,01 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMTMoral Disagreement and Epistemic Advantages: A Challenge to McGrathSarah McGrath (2008; 2011) argues that, when it comes to our controversial moral views, we have no reason to think that we are less likely t...

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Sarah McGrath (2008; 2011) argues that, when it comes to our controversial moral views, we have no reason to think that we are less likely to be in error than those who disagree with us. I refer to this position as the Moral Peer View (MPV). Under pressure from Nathan King (2011a; 2011b), McGrath admits that the MPV need not always have been true, though she maintains it is true now. Although King seems to think that there should be current counterexamples to the MPV, he holds back from actually proposing any. I argue that those of us who favor marriage equality and gender equality are currently in a position to reject the MPV with regard to these issues, and I propose conditions under which people can reasonably take their moral beliefs to be epistemically advantaged. King and McGrath agree that opponents of slavery like William Wilberforce could reasonably believe that they enjoyed an epistemic advantage over proponents of slavery, and I suggest that proponents of marriage equality and gender equality might make similar claims. I propose that we can make additional claims to epistemic advantages if we believe that (1) almost everyone who considers the matter admits that there are advantages, (2) those who disagree with us would admit that there are advantages and (3) we can give a plausible explanation as to why those who we think are epistemically disadvantaged have not noticed that they are disadvantaged. Finally, I argue that it is reasonable to think that our controversial beliefs are justified if we can find reasons to think that our opponents are mistaken, and do not see similar reasons to think ourselves mistaken. This is a better policy than supposing that we are just as prone to mistakes as our opponents, as the latter is both less defensible in theory, and more likely to stifle intellectual progress.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=83http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=83Sat,01 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMTThe Abductive Case for Humeanism over Quasi-Perceptual Theories of DesireA number of philosophers have offered quasi-perceptual theories of desire, according to which to desire something is roughly to “see” it as ...

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A number of philosophers have offered quasi-perceptual theories of desire, according to which to desire something is roughly to “see” it as having value or providing reasons. These are offered as alternatives to the more traditional Humean theory of motivation, which denies that desires have a representational aspect. This paper examines the various considerations offered by advocates to motivate quasi-perceptualism. It argues that Humeanism is in fact able to explain the same data that the quasi-perceptualist can explain, and in one case the Humean explanation is superior. Quasi-perceptual accounts of desire, the paper concludes, are for the most part unmotivated.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=82http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=82Wed,01 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMTThe State's Duty to Ensure Children Are LovedDo children have a right to be loved? An affirmative answer faces two immediate challenges: (i) A child’s basic needs can be met without lov...

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Do children have a right to be loved? An affirmative answer faces two immediate challenges: (i) A child’s basic needs can be met without love, therefore a defense of such a right cannot appeal to the role of love in protecting children’s most basic needs, and (ii) since love is nonvoluntary, it seems that there cannot be a corresponding duty on the part of parents to love their child. In this essay, I defend an affirmative answer that overcomes both of these challenges. First, I argue that the right of children to be loved is grounded in the value of children leading meaningful lives. Second, I argue that the right of children to be loved gives rise to a duty on the part of the state to do all that it legitimately can to ensure that procreation and parenting follow from a truly voluntary decision on the part of its citizens.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=81http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=81Mon,01 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT"Freedom and Resentment" and Consequentialism: Why 'Strawson's Point' Is Not Strawson's PointIn <i>The Second-Person Standpoint</i>, Stephen Darwall offers an interpretation of P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” according to w...

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In <i>The Second-Person Standpoint</i>, Stephen Darwall offers an interpretation of P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” according to which the essay advances the thesis that good consequences are the “wrong kind of reason” to justify “practices of punishment and moral responsibility.” Darwall names this thesis “Strawson’s Point.” I argue for a different reading of Strawson, one according to which he holds this thesis only in a qualified way and, more generally, is not the unequivocal critic of consequentialism that Darwall makes him out to be. In fact, I contend, Strawson’s account of the reactive attitudes can potentially be a useful resource for consequentialists.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=80http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=80Mon,01 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMTAgainst Institutional Luck EgalitarianismKok-Chor Tan has recently defended a novel theory of egalitarian distributive justice, institutional luck egalitarianism (ILE). On this theo...

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Kok-Chor Tan has recently defended a novel theory of egalitarian distributive justice, institutional luck egalitarianism (ILE). On this theory, it is unjust for institutions to favor some individuals over others based on matters of luck. Tan takes his theory to preserve the intuitive appeal of luck egalitarianism while avoiding what he regards as absurd implications that face other versions of luck egalitarianism. Despite the centrality of the concept of institutional influence to his theory, Tan never spells out precisely what it means for an inequality to be produced by an institution. In this paper, I consider different conceptions of institutional influence that ILE might employ. It appears that however this concept is construed, ILE has serious problems. On some conceptions, the luck egalitarian character of the theory is undermined. On others, the theory gives rise to precisely the sorts of absurd implications facing other versions of luck egalitarianism that Tan takes his theory to avoid.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=79http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=79Fri,01 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMTKeep Things in Perspective: Reasons, Rationality, and the A PrioriObjective reasons are given by the facts. Subjective reasons are given by one’s perspective on the facts. Subjective reasons, not objective ...

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Objective reasons are given by the facts. Subjective reasons are given by one’s perspective on the facts. Subjective reasons, not objective reasons, determine what it is rational to do. In this paper, I argue against a prominent account of subjective reasons. The problem with that account, I suggest, is that it makes what one has subjective reason to do, and hence what it is rational to do, turn on matters outside or independent of one’s perspective. After explaining and establishing this point, I offer a novel account of subjective reasons that avoids the problem.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=78http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=78Sat,01 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMTAnchoring a Revisionist Account of Moral ResponsibilityRevisionism about moral responsibility is the view that we would do well to distinguish between what we think about moral responsibility and...

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Revisionism about moral responsibility is the view that we would do well to distinguish between what we think about moral responsibility and what we ought to think about it, that the former is in some important sense implausible and conflicts with the latter, and so we should revise our concept accordingly. In this paper, I assess two related problems for revisionism and claim that focus on the first of these problems (the reference-anchoring problem) has thus far allowed the second (the normativity-anchoring problem) to go largely unnoticed. Here I develop this new objection to revisionism and argue that, while revisionists can successfully respond to the reference-anchoring problem, the normativity-anchoring problem poses a serious objection to the view. In particular, the methodological commitments used to motivate revisionism make it uniquely difficult for revisionists to justify our continued participation in the practice of moral praising and blaming. I conclude by briefly addressing a potential objection based on a common charge against revisionism: that there is no real difference between the view and its conventional competitors and thus the normativity-anchoring problem is of little interest in the broader dialectic. I argue that both of these claims are false.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=77http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=77Sun,01 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMTThe Significance of a Dutys Direction: Claiming Priority Rather than Prioritizing Claims Agents do not merely have duties — they often have directed duties to others. This paper first reveals problems with traditional attempts to...

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Agents do not merely have duties — they often have directed duties to others. This paper first reveals problems with traditional attempts to equate these directed duties with claims and claim rights. It then defends a novel account of directionality that locates the unifying element of directed duties in a counterparty’s prioritization of the duties owed to her. If one agent has a directed duty to another, then the degree to which fulfilling the duty matters to the agent to whom it is owed itself matters — in a distinctive, special and inherent sense. This subject-determined normative significance of directed duties can be used to articulate a priority account of directionality, an account that can demonstrate why many have taken control powers, interests or the authority to demand compliance to be so important in analyzing the directed duties we owe to others.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=76http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=76Sun,01 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMTAnswerability without AnswersThe classical ethical questions of whether and to what extent moral criticism is a sort of rational criticism have received renewed interest...

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The classical ethical questions of whether and to what extent moral criticism is a sort of rational criticism have received renewed interest in recent years. According to the approach that I refer to as rationalist, accounts of moral responsibility are grounded by explanations of the conditions under which an agent is rationally answerable for her actions and attitudes. In the sense that is relevant here, to answer for an attitude or action is to give reasons that at least purport to justify it. To hold someone answerable for an attitude or action is thus to hold her rationally liable for it. T. M. Scanlon’s view is perhaps the most well-known example of this approach. The rationalist approach has recently been attacked by David Shoemaker for being too narrow: the charge is that attitudes exist for which an agent is responsible even though she cannot, in the relevant sense, answer for them. If there are morally significant attitudes that are attributable to an agent even though she cannot answer for them, then it would seem incomplete, misguided, or worse to treat morality as fundamentally a matter of demanding and giving reasons. By developing some remarks based on G. E. M. Anscombe’s Intention, I defend the rationalist approach against this critique. I show how an agent may be answerable for an attitude even though she cannot answer for it. The objective of this paper is thus twofold: to contribute to the discussion of the connection between rational liability and ethical responsibility, and to provide an example of the broad relevance of Anscombe’s thought to contemporary practical philosophy.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=75http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=75Thu,01 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMTAggregation, Beneficence and ChanceIt is plausible to think that it is wrong to cure many people’s headaches rather than save someone else’s life. On the other hand, it is pla...

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It is plausible to think that it is wrong to cure many people’s headaches rather than save someone else’s life. On the other hand, it is plausible to think that it is not wrong to expose someone to a tiny risk of death when curing this person’s headache. I will argue that these claims are inconsistent. For if we keep taking this tiny risk then it is likely that one person dies, while many others’ headaches are cured. In light of this inconsistency, there is a conflict in our intuitions about beneficence and chance. This conflict is perplexing. And I have not been able to find a satisfactory way of resolving it. Perhaps you can do better?

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=74http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=74Wed,01 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 May 2013 00:00:00 GMTObjectivism and Prospectivism about RightnessIn this paper I present a new argument for prospectivism: the view that, for a consequentialist, rightness depends on what is prospectively ...

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In this paper I present a new argument for prospectivism: the view that, for a consequentialist, rightness depends on what is prospectively best rather than what would actually be best. Prospective bestness depends on the agent’s epistemic position, though exactly how that works is not straightforward. I clarify various possible versions of prospectivism, which differ in how far they go in relativizing to the agent’s limitations. My argument for prospectivism is an argument for moderately objective prospectivism, according to which the right thing to do is what would make sense given reasonable beliefs, reasonable probability estimates and a reasonable understanding of value. My argument is an argument for this form of prospectivism over objectivism. Arguments about prospectivism and objectivism usually use an example with the following form: an agent has a choice between options — one she knows would be acceptable, while the other could either be catastrophic or very good. Objectivists argue that the right thing to do is what would in fact be best (though the agent cannot know which option that is) while prospectivists argue that the agent’s ignorance is relevant, and the right thing to do is to compromise. The question is how we should understand the underlying argument. It is not about action guidance. Moderately objective prospectivism is not action guiding, because an actual agent may not have access to reasonable beliefs, probability estimates and so on. Another common argument is that the objective notion is the primary one. I show that there are no good grounds for this claim. My argument uses the distinction between rightness and goodness to show that a consequentialist theory, that bases rightness on goodness, should take into account how much goodness is at stake. Crucially, potential losses as well as gains are relevant. So long as goodness, rather than rightness, is in the driving seat, we should not be “bestness fetishists.” As the name suggest, this would be an irrational privileging of the best option. This argument does not apply to pure deontology: a pure deontology does not use the notion of goodness at all, and so there is nothing to compromise with. If the agent does not know what is right, there is nothing further to say. I end by arguing against a recent strategy that aims to show that although objectivism is true (the right option is the best one), we should sometimes do what is wrong (i.e. what is prospectively best). I argue that insofar as this is correct, it is simply prospectivism with awkward terminology.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=73http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=73Fri,01 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMTThe Human Right to Political ParticipationIn recent developments in political and legal philosophy, there is a tendency to endorse minimalist lists of human rights that do not includ...

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In recent developments in political and legal philosophy, there is a tendency to endorse minimalist lists of human rights that do not include a right to political participation. Against such tendencies, I shall argue that the right to political participation, understood as distinct from a right to democracy, should have a place even on minimalist lists. In addition, I shall defend the need to extend the right to political participation to include participation not just in national, but also in international and global governance processes. The argument will be based on a cosmopolitan conception of political legitimacy and on a political conception of human rights that is normatively anchored in legitimacy. The central claim of my paper is that a right to political participation is necessary — but not sufficient — for political legitimacy in the global realm.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=72http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=72Fri,01 Feb 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Feb 2013 00:00:00 GMTMoral Error Theory and the Argument from Epistemic ReasonsIn this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory e...

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In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows that they do not know everything. And it could not be the case that we do not know that there is thought when we believe that there is thought and that we do not know that we do not know everything. I address several objections to the claim that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief. It might seem that arguing against the error theory on the grounds that it entails that no one knows anything is just providing a Moorean argument against the moral error theory. I show that even if my argument against the error theory is indeed a Moorean one, it avoids Streumer's, McPherson's and Olson's objections to previous Moorean arguments against the error theory and is a more powerful argument against the error theory than Moore's argument against external world skepticism is against external world skepticism.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=71http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=71Tue,01 Jan 2013 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Jan 2013 00:00:00 GMTEvolutionary Debunking, Moral Realism and Moral KnowledgeThis paper reconstructs what I take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism. The ...

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This paper reconstructs what I take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism. The argument claims that given the extent of evolutionary influence on our moral faculties, and assuming the truth of moral realism, it would be a massive coincidence were our moral faculties reliable ones. Given this coincidence, any presumptive warrant enjoyed by our moral beliefs is defeated. So if moral realism is true, then we can have no warranted moral beliefs, and hence no moral knowledge. In response, I first develop what is perhaps the most natural reply on behalf of realism — namely, that many of our highly presumptively warranted moral beliefs are immune to evolutionary influence and so can be used to assess and eventually resuscitate the epistemic merits of those that have been subject to such influence. I then identify five distinct ways in which the charge of massive coincidence has been understood and defended. I argue that each interpretation is subject to serious worries. If I am right, these putative defeaters are themselves subject to defeat. Thus many of our moral beliefs continue to be highly warranted, even if moral realism is true.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=70http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=70Sat,01 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMTInescapability and NormativityWhen we make ethical claims, we invoke a kind of objective authority. A familiar worry about our ethical practices is that this invocation o...

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When we make ethical claims, we invoke a kind of objective authority. A familiar worry about our ethical practices is that this invocation of authority involves a mistake. This worry was perhaps best captured by John Mackie, who argued that the fabric of the world contains nothing so queer as objective authority and thus that all our ethical claims are false. Kantians such as Christine Korsgaard and David Velleman offer accounts of the objectivity of ethics that do without the controversial realist assumptions which gives rise to Mackie’s skepticism. They contend that our ethical claims correctly invoke objective authority not by corresponding to some normative pocket of the fabric of reality, but rather by expressing commitments that are inescapable. This Kantian strategy is often advertised as an alternative to traditional but “boring” metaethics. Its proponents promise to vindicate our ethical practices without entangling us in familiar metanormative disputes about the metaphysics, epistemology and semantics of ethics. In this paper, I argue that the Kantian strategy cannot make good on this promise. Considered as an attempt to sidestep traditional metaethics, it lacks the resources to produce the desired normative conclusions. The outlook for the Kantian strategy becomes more promising, though, if we pair it with one of two familiar metanormative theories: expressivism or reductionism. The resulting metaethically-loaded versions of the Kantian strategy can deliver the promised conclusions, but only by plunging straight into the quagmire of traditional metaethics. And there all of the familiar objections to expressivism and reductionism await.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=69http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=69Sat,01 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Dec 2012 00:00:00 GMTThe Normative Significance of ConscienceDespite the increasing amount of literature on the legal and political questions triggered by a commitment to liberty of conscience, an expl...

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Despite the increasing amount of literature on the legal and political questions triggered by a commitment to liberty of conscience, an explanation of the normative significance of conscience remains elusive. We argue that the few attempts to address this fail to capture the reasons people have to respect the consciences of others. We offer an alternative account that utilizes the resources of the contractualist tradition in moral philosophy to explain why conscience matters.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=68http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=68Sat,01 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMTObjective Morality, Subjective Morality, and the Explanatory QuestionA common presupposition in metaethical theory is that moral assessment comes in (at least) two flavors, one of which is sensitive to our epi...

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A common presupposition in metaethical theory is that moral assessment comes in (at least) two flavors, one of which is sensitive to our epistemic circumstances, the second of which is not so sensitive. Though this thought is popular, a number of questions arise. In this paper, I limit my discussion to what I dub the "explanatory question": how one might understand the construction of subjective moral assessment given an explanatorily prior objective assessment. I argue that a proper answer to this question is important not simply for its own sake, but because it also sheds new light on important challenges to the existence of both objective and subjective moral obligations.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=67http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=67Wed,01 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMTMoral Responsibility and MeritIn the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the "desert-entailing sense....

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In the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the "desert-entailing sense." Despite this agreement, little has been said about the notion of desert that is supposedly entailed. In this paper I propose an understanding of desert sufficient to help explain why the blameworthy and praiseworthy deserve blame and praise, respectively. I do so by drawing upon what might seem an unusual resource. I appeal to so-called Fitting-Attitude accounts of value to help inform a conception of desert or merit, one that can be usefully applied to discussions of moral responsibility. I argue that the view, which I call, Desert as Fittingness (or DAF), merits additional attention. I do so by making two claims: First, that it does better than extant Fitting Attitude accounts of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness; second, that it has an initial plausibility with respect to informing a general account of desert. While these reasons are insufficient to show the view is true, they do make the case for taking the view seriously.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=66http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=66Wed,01 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Aug 2012 00:00:00 GMTAgainst the Being For Account of Normative CertitudeJust as we can be more or less certain about empirical matters, we can be more or less certain about normative matters. Recently, it has bee...

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Just as we can be more or less certain about empirical matters, we can be more or less certain about normative matters. Recently, it has been argued that this is a challenge for noncognitivism about normativity. Michael Smith presented the challenge in a 2002 paper and James Lenman (2003) and Michael Ridge (2003, 2007) responded independently. Andrew Sepielli (forthcoming) has now joined the rescue operation. His basic idea is that noncognitivists should employ the notion of being for (Schroeder 2008) to account for normative certitude. We shall argue that the being for account of normative certitude is vulnerable to many problems shared by other noncognitivist theories. Furthermore, we shall argue that Sepielli’s account has its own problems: His favored normalization procedure for degrees of being for has highly problematic implications.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=65http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=65Sun,01 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Jul 2012 00:00:00 GMTCould Morality Have a Source?It is a common idea that morality, or moral truths, if there are any, must have some sort of source, or grounding. It has also been claimed ...

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It is a common idea that morality, or moral truths, if there are any, must have some sort of source, or grounding. It has also been claimed that constructivist theories in metaethics have an advantage over realist theories in that the former but not the latter can provide such a grounding. This paper has two goals. First, it attempts to show that constructivism does not in fact provide a complete grounding for morality, and so is on a par with realism in this respect. Second, it explains why it seems that morality in fact couldn’t have a source.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=64http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=64Sun,01 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMTGender JusticeI propose, defend and illustrate a principle of gender justice meant to capture the nature of a variety of injustices based on gender: A so...

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I propose, defend and illustrate a principle of gender justice meant to capture the nature of a variety of injustices based on gender: A society is gender just only if the costs of a gender-neutral lifestyle are, all other things being equal, lower than, or at most equal to, the costs of gendered lifestyles. The principle is meant to account for the entire range of gender injustice: violence against women, economic and legal discrimination, domestic exploitation, the gendered division of labor and gendered socialization. The sense of “costs” employed is similarly wide. Costs can be material (such as financial, time or effort), psychological (such as self-respect, a good relationship with one’s body and emotions) and social (such as reputation, social acceptance and valuable social relationships). I defend the principle by appeal to the values at the core of liberal egalitarian justice: equality of access and the good of individual choice. I illustrate my case through a discussion of the injustice of a gendered division of labor. Some feminists doubt that liberal egalitarianism has the theoretical resources to recognize the unjust nature of the gendered division of labor. I argue that it does. If the principle advanced here is correct, then gender injustice is pervasive. At the same, it does not affect only women but also men. Liberal egalitarianism is capable of acknowledging this fact without denying that, overall, gender norms oppress women more than they oppress men: Arguably, women who wish to lead a gender-neutral lifestyle have to pay higher costs that men who wish to do the same.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=62http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=62Sun,01 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMTThe Locative Analysis of Good For Formulated and DefendedTHE STRUCTURE OF THIS PAPER IS AS FOLLOWS. I begin §1 by dealing with preliminary issues such as the different relations expressed by the ...

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THE STRUCTURE OF THIS PAPER IS AS FOLLOWS. I begin §1 by dealing with preliminary issues such as the different relations expressed by the “good for” locution. I then (§2) outline the Locative Analysis of good for and explain its main elements before moving on to (§3) outlining and discussing the positive features of the view. In the subsequent sections I show how the Locative Analysis can respond to objections from, or inspired by, Sumner (§4-5), Regan (§6), and Schroeder and Feldman (§7). I then (§8) reply to an imagined objector who claims that the Locative Analysis generates implausible results with respect to punishment, virtue and agent-centered duties.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=61http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=61Sun,01 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMTThe Humean Theory of Practical IrrationalityChristine Korsgaard has argued that Humean views about action and practical rationality jointly imply the impossibility of irrational action...

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Christine Korsgaard has argued that Humean views about action and practical rationality jointly imply the impossibility of irrational action. According to the Humean theory of action, agents do what maximizes expected desire-satisfaction. According to the Humean theory of rationality, it is rational for agents to do what maximizes expected desire-satisfaction. Thus Humeans are committed to the impossibility of practical irrationality — an unacceptable consequence. I respond by developing Humean views to explain how we can act irrationally. Humeans about action should consider the immediate motivational forces produced by an agent's desires. Humeans about rationality should consider the agent's dispositional desire strengths. When (for example) vivid sensory or imaginative experiences of desired things cause some of our desires to produce motivational force disproportional to their dispositional strength, we may act in ways that do not maximize expected desire-satisfaction, thus acting irrationally. I argue that this way of developing Humean views is true to the best reasons for holding them.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=60http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=60Tue,01 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT'Ought' and the Perspective of the AgentObjectivists and perspectivists disagree about the question of whether what an agent ought to do depends on the totality of facts or on the ...

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Objectivists and perspectivists disagree about the question of whether what an agent ought to do depends on the totality of facts or on the agent’s limited epistemic perspective. While objectivism fails to account for normative guidance, perspectivism faces the challenge of explaining phenomena (occurring most notably in advice, but also in first-personal deliberation) in which the use of “ought” is geared to evidence that is better than the evidence currently available to the agent. This paper aims to defend perspectivism by developing a perspectivist account that captures the phenomena in question.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=58http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=58Sat,01 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMTSelf-Evidence and Disagreement in EthicsMoral epistemology, like general epistemology, faces a regress problem. Suppose someone demands to know why I am justified in holding a mora...

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Moral epistemology, like general epistemology, faces a regress problem. Suppose someone demands to know why I am justified in holding a moral belief. In a typical case, I will respond by citing a further moral belief that justifies it. A regress arises because, in order for this further belief to justify anything, it too must be justified. According to a traditional position in moral epistemology, moral foundationalism, the regress comes to an end with some moral beliefs. Moral foundationalism is an attractive position because it promises to answer the regress problem. However, it inherits the burden of explaining why some moral beliefs have a particular privileged epistemic position — that is, why these beliefs are justified without requiring inferential support from other beliefs. The standard answer to this question is to insist that some moral beliefs have as their content propositions that are self-evident. A common way of resisting moral foundationalism is to argue from the fact of moral disagreement to the claim that no moral proposition is self-evident. I argue that while a simple version of this argument fails, this argument can be developed in such a way that it poses serious difficulties for moral foundationalism. I develop this argument by drawing on recent work in epistemology on the nature of our epistemic burdens in the face of peer disagreement. I then suggest that even if this argument does show that moral foundationalism fails, it need not have skeptical implications so long as coherentism remains a viable option in moral epistemology. Finally, I claim that this argument has implications for normative ethics. Namely, it rules out a position advocated by Peter Singer in his early work and indirectly supports the method of reflective equilibrium.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=57http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=57Mon,01 Aug 2011 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Aug 2011 00:00:00 GMTDeviant Formal CausationWhat is the role of practical thought in determining the intentional action that is performed? Donald Davidson’s influential answer to this ...

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What is the role of practical thought in determining the intentional action that is performed? Donald Davidson’s influential answer to this question is that thought plays an efficient-causal role: intentional actions are those events that have the correct causal pedigree in the agent's beliefs and desires. But the Causal Theory of Action has always been plagued with the problem of “deviant causal chains,” in which the right action is caused by the right mental state but in the wrong way. This paper addresses an alternative approach to understanding intentional action inspired by G.E.M. Anscombe, interpreting that view as casting practical thought in the role of formal rather than efficient cause of action and thereby avoiding the problem of deviant (efficient) causal chains. Specifically, on the neo-Anscombean view, it is the agent’s “practical knowledge” — non-observational, non-inferential knowledge of what one is doing — that confers the form of intentional action on an event and is the contribution of thought to determining what is intentionally done. This paper argues that the Anscombean view is subject to its own problematic type of deviance: deviant formal causation. What we know non-observationally about what we are doing often includes more than what we intend to be doing; we also know that we are bringing about the foreseen side effects of acting in the intended way. It is argued that the neo-Anscombean view faces difficulty in excluding the expected side effects from the specification of what is intentionally done, whereas the Causal Theory has no such difficulty. Thus, the discussion amounts to an argument in favor of the Causal Theory of Action.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=56http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=56Fri,01 Apr 2011 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Apr 2011 00:00:00 GMTIn Defense of the Wide-Scope Instrumental PrincipleI make the observation that English sentences such as “You have reason to take the bus or to take the train” do not have the logical form th...

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I make the observation that English sentences such as “You have reason to take the bus or to take the train” do not have the logical form that they superficially appear to have. I find in these sentences a conjunctive use of “or,” as found in sentences like “You can have milk or lemon in your tea,” which gives you a permission to have milk, and a permission to have lemon, though no permission to have both. I argue that a confusion of genuine disjunctions with sentences of the above form has motivated the mistaken acceptance by some philosophers of principles like the one I call “Liberal Transmission.” This is the principle that if you have a reason to do something, then you have a reason to do it in each of the possible ways in which it can be done (though not more than one of them). I argue that Liberal Transmission and its close relatives are false. Wide-scope reasons are defined as reasons that have a conditional or other logical connective within the scope of the reason operator. For example, a wide-scope instrumental reason might be: reason(if you have an end, take the means). By refuting Liberal Transmission, I show that you could have wide-scope instrumental reasons like this while nevertheless lacking any narrow-scope reason to take the means, or narrow-scope reason to not have the end. This enables me to respond to two major objections to the wide-scope approach to the instrumental principle that have been developed by Joseph Raz and by Niko Kolodny.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=55http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=55Tue,01 Feb 2011 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Feb 2011 00:00:00 GMTMeriting Concern and Meriting RespectRecently there has been a somewhat surprising interest among Kantian theorists in the moral standing of animals, coupled with a no less surp...

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Recently there has been a somewhat surprising interest among Kantian theorists in the moral standing of animals, coupled with a no less surprising optimism among these theorists about the prospect of incorporating animal moral standing into Kantian theory without contorting its other attractive features. These theorists contend in particular that animal standing can be incorporated into Kantian moral theory without abandoning its logocentrism: the claim that everything that is valuable depends for its value on its relation to rationality. In this essay I raise doubts about the prospects for accommodating animal moral standing within a logocentric Kantianism. I argue instead that the best way to incorporate animal moral standing into Kantian theory is to admit more radical departures from Kant’s position by maintaining that consciousness is a locus of moral standing independent from rationality. I propose that we should attribute moral standing to all conscious animals because the capacity of consciousness is the criterion distinguishing individuals whose well-being generates reasons from individuals whose well-being fails to do so. We need such a criterion because we speak of the well-being of things, such as artifacts and meteorological phenomena, which clearly lack moral standing. Having already argued against the Kantian view that the criterion of moral standing is rationality, I proceed to argue that consciousness is also superior to its other principal rival for the criterion of moral standing: life. On the view that emerges from this discussion, we have obligations to show concern for conscious individuals by treating their well-being as providing us with reasons for action; the view thus endorses the criterion of moral standing typically advanced by utilitarians. On this view we also have a distinct class of obligations to show respect for conscious rational individuals; the view thus endorses the Kantian claim that persons have a distinctive (and a higher) moral status in virtue of their possession of rational capacities. In this essay thus begin to show how a principal insight of each leading approach to modern moral theory may be captured in a unified theory.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=54http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=54Tue,01 Feb 2011 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Feb 2011 00:00:00 GMTSaving Lives and Respecting PersonsIn the distribution of resources, persons must be respected, or so many philosophers contend. Unfortunately, they often leave it unclear wh...

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In the distribution of resources, persons must be respected, or so many philosophers contend. Unfortunately, they often leave it unclear why a certain allocation would respect persons, while another would not. In this paper, we explore what it means to respect persons in the distribution of scarce, life-saving resources. We begin by presenting two kinds of cases. In different age cases, we have a drug that we must use either to save a young person who would live for many more years or an old person who would only live for a few. In different numbers cases, we must save either one person or many persons from certain death. We argue that two familiar accounts of respect for persons&#8213;an equal worth account, suggested by Jeff McMahan, and a Kantian account, inspired by the Formula of Humanity&#8213;have implausible implications in such cases. We develop a new, “three-tiered” account: one that, we claim, generates results in such cases that accord better with many people’s considered judgments than those produced by its rivals.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=53http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=53Mon,01 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMTCharacter Traits, Social Psychology, and Impediments to Helping BehaviorIn a number of recent papers, I have begun to develop a new theory of character which is conceptually distinct both from traditional Aristot...

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In a number of recent papers, I have begun to develop a new theory of character which is conceptually distinct both from traditional Aristotelian accounts as well as from the positive view of local traits outlined by John Doris. On my view, many human beings do have robust traits of character which play an important explanatory and predictive role, but which are triggered by certain situational variables which preclude them from counting as genuine Aristotelian virtues. Like others in this discussion, I have focused on helping behavior in particular, and have gone on to argue that much of the social psychology literature is compatible with this new approach. The goal of this paper is to develop the model as it pertains to helping behavior further by examining how helping-relevant traits can serve as impediments to helping behavior.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=52http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=52Mon,01 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMTIs a Feminist Political Liberalism Possible?Is a feminist political liberalism possible? Political liberalism’s regard for a wide range of comprehensive doctrines as reasonable makes ...

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Is a feminist political liberalism possible? Political liberalism’s regard for a wide range of comprehensive doctrines as reasonable makes some feminists skeptical of its ability to address sex inequality. Indeed, some feminists claim that political liberalism maintains its position as a political liberalism at the expense of securing substantive equality for women. We claim that political liberalism’s core commitments actually restrict all reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that secure genuine substantive equality for all, including women and other marginalized groups. In particular, we argue that political liberalism’s criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that eliminate social conditions of domination and subordination relevant to reasonable democratic deliberation among equal citizens and that the criterion of reciprocity requires the social conditions necessary for recognition respect among persons as equal citizens. As a result, we maintain that the criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that provide genuine equality for women along various dimensions of social life central to equal citizenship.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=51http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=51Fri,01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 GMTThe Enforcement Approach to CoercionThis essay differentiates two approaches to understanding the concept of coercion, and argues for the relative merits of the one currently o...

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This essay differentiates two approaches to understanding the concept of coercion, and argues for the relative merits of the one currently out of fashion. The approach currently dominant in the philosophical literature treats threats as essential to coercion, and understands coercion in terms of the way threats alter the costs and benefits of an agent’s actions; I call this the “pressure” approach. It has largely superseded the “enforcement approach,” which focuses on the powers and actions of the coercer rather than the perspective of the coercee. The enforcement approach identifies coercion with certain uses of the kinds of powers that agents need to accumulate and wield in order to be able to make significant, credible threats. Though there is considerable overlap extensionally in the instances of coercion recognized by the two approaches, the enforcement approach encompasses some uses of power to coerce that do not involve threats (in particular some direct uses of physical force). It also circumscribes which threats should be counted as coercive, though notably it provides a picture of coercion that is non-moralized in its essentials. While there may be specific purposes for which a pressure account is to be preferred, I argue that the enforcement approach better describes how coercion works, and elucidates factors that are often tacitly assumed by pressure accounts. It also is more useful for explaining the social and political significance of coercion, and why coercion is thought to have the implications commonly associated with it. In particular, I argue that it helps us understand why uses of coercion are in general a matter of ethical significance, why state authority depends on commanding a monopoly on the right to use coercion, and why being coerced may reasonably provide one a defense against being held responsible for actions one is coerced into taking.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=50http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=50Fri,01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 GMTIs It Bad to Be Disabled? Adjudicating Between the Mere-Difference and the Bad-Difference Views of DisabilityThis paper examines the impact of disability on wellbeing and presents arguments against the mere-difference view of disability. According t...

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This paper examines the impact of disability on wellbeing and presents arguments against the mere-difference view of disability. According to the mere-difference view, disability does not by itself make disabled people worse off on balance. Rather, if disability has a negative impact on wellbeing overall, this is only so because society is not treating disabled people the way it ought to treat them. In objection to the mere-difference view, it has been argued, roughly, that the view licenses the permissibility of causing disability and the impermissibility of causing nondisability. In her recent article, “Valuing Disability, Causing Disability” (2014), Elizabeth Barnes attempts to show that this causation-based objection does not succeed. We disagree and argue why. We begin by explaining that in order to defeat the causation-based objection it does not suffice to show that it is not always true that the mere-difference view licenses causing disability. Rather, license in some cases, in a way that undermines the plausibility of the mere-difference view, would be sufficient for the causation-based objection to succeed. Then our discussion turns to an important challenge for proponents of the causation-based objection: Some defenders of the mere-difference view are prepared to simply accept the counterintuitive implications of their position. A dialogue with such proponents of the mere-difference view requires arguments with independent traction. We present several such arguments to the effect that the mere-difference view needs to be significantly reduced in scope — and may turn out to be false altogether.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=94http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=94Tue,01 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMTI Might Be Fundamentally MistakenQuasi-realism aspires to preserve the intelligibility of the realist-sounding moral judgments of ordinary people. These judgments include on...

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Quasi-realism aspires to preserve the intelligibility of the realist-sounding moral judgments of ordinary people. These judgments include ones of the form, “I believe that p, but I might be mistaken,” where “p” is some moral content. The orthodox quasi-realist strategy (famously developed by Simon Blackburn) is to understand these in terms of the agent’s worrying that some improving change would lead one to aban-don the relevant moral belief. However, it is unclear whether this strate-gy generalizes to cases in which the agent takes their error to be funda-mental in a sense articulated by Andy Egan. In an influential paper, Egan argues that it does not. Egan suggests that Blackburn’s approach is the only game in town for the quasi-realist when it comes to making sense of judgment of fallibility, and therefore concludes that Blackburn’s ina-bility to handle worries about fundamental moral error refutes quasi-realism tout court. Egan’s challenge has generated considerable discus-sion. However, in my view, we have not yet gotten to the heart of the matter. I argue that what is still needed is a fully general, quasi-realist-friendly theory of the nature of first-person judgments of fallibility, such that these judgments are demonstrably consistent with judging that the belief is stable in Egan’s sense. In this article, I develop and defend a fully general quasi-realist theory of such judgments, which meets this demand. With this theory in hand, I argue that Egan’s challenge can be met. Moreover, my discussion of how the challenge is best met provides an elegant diagnosis of where Egan’s argument against goes wrong. On my account, Egan’s argument equivocates at a key point between a “could” and a “would.”

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=93http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=93Thu,01 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMTDistributing Collective ObligationIn this paper I develop an account of member obligation: the obligations that fall on the members of an obligated collective in virtue of th...

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In this paper I develop an account of member obligation: the obligations that fall on the members of an obligated collective in virtue of that collective obligation. I use this account to argue that unorganized collections of individuals can constitute obligated agents. I argue first that, to know when a collective obligation entails obligations on that collective’s members, we have to know not just what it would take for each member to do their part in satisfying the collective obligation, but also what they should do if they cannot do their part because others will not do theirs. I go on to argue (contra recent proposals) that it is not good enough for members in this situation to reasonably believe that others will not do their part. Rather, for a member of an obligated collective to permissibly escape doing her part in a collective obligation, she must both reasonably doubt that others will do their part and stand ready to act in case others do as well. This necessary condition for collective obligation points the way to plausible sufficient conditions — conditions that, I argue, allow unstructured collectives to bear obligations. For (a) if a collective’s members are individually obligated to be ready to do their part, in a given collective action, and (b) if that individual readiness makes it sufficiently likely that the collective will in fact act, then it is hard to see what could block an attribution of collective obligation. In particular, in that case there ought to be no additional objection that there is no existing, organized “agent” on which the obligation might fall. For agents are, simply, things that can act. To be able to act is just to be able to succeed by trying. Unstructured collectives try to do something, I argue, when each member acts on their willingness to do their part in that thing if others do theirs; sometimes they succeed, producing a collective action. Some unstructured collectives, therefore, can succeed by trying; therefore, they can act; therefore they are agents.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=92http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=92Thu,01 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMTSide Effects and the Structure of DeliberationThere is a puzzle about the very possibility of foreseen but unintended side effects, and solving this puzzle requires us to revise our basi...

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There is a puzzle about the very possibility of foreseen but unintended side effects, and solving this puzzle requires us to revise our basic picture of the structure of practical deliberation. The puzzle is that, while it seems that we can rationally foresee, but not intend, bringing about foreseen side effects, it also seems that we rationally must decide to bring about foreseen side effects and that we intend to do whatever we decide to do. I propose solving this puzzle by rejecting the idea that we intend to do whatever we decide to do. My solution involves taking account of the underappreciated role that qualified intentions play in deliberation. I also argue that this solution fares better than those that instead reject the idea that we rationally must decide to bring about foreseen side effects, for these solutions are committed to rejecting the even more compelling idea that decisions rationally serve as the conclusions of practical deliberation.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=91http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=91Tue,01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMTMoral Explanations, Thick and ThinCornell realists maintain that irreducible moral properties have earned a place in our ontology in virtue of the indispensable role they pla...

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Cornell realists maintain that irreducible moral properties have earned a place in our ontology in virtue of the indispensable role they play in a variety of explanations. These explanations can be divided into two groups: those that employ thin ethical concepts and those that employ thick ethical concepts. Recent work on thick concepts suggests that they are not inherently evaluative in their meaning. If correct, this creates problems for the moral explanations of Cornell realists, since the most persuasive moral explanations are those that employ thick concepts. If thick concepts are not inherently evaluative, then the most plausible explanations on offer cannot support Cornell realism. Moral explanations employing thin concepts, however, are too flimsy to support the view. Unless proponents can develop a compelling story about thick concepts or thin explanations, Cornell realism is in trouble.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=90http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=90Tue,01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMTHumean Externalism and the Argument from DepressionSeveral prominent philosophers have argued that the fact that depressed agents sometimes make moral judgments without being appropriately mo...

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Several prominent philosophers have argued that the fact that depressed agents sometimes make moral judgments without being appropriately motivated supports Humean externalism — the view that moral motivation must be explained in terms of desires that are distinct from or “external” to an agent’s motivationally inert moral judgments. This essay argues that such motivational failures do not, in fact, provide evidence for this view. I argue that, if the externalist argument from depression is to undermine a philo-sophically important version of internalism, it must make use of a general assumption about motivational states. However, at a reasonable level of abstraction, the needed assumption also implies that even desires could not be effective sources of motivation. For, just as depressed agents might sometimes lack motivation to act consistently with their moral judgments, they also sometimes lack motivation to pursue their desires. Moreover, the most plausible responses that Humeans can give to this general argument undermine the externalist case against internalism. Thus, there is a deep tension between the argument from depression for externalism and a fundamental Humean commitment.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=89http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=89Mon,01 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMTManipulation Arguments and the Standing to BlameThe majority of recent work on the moral standing to blame (the idea that A may be unable to legitimately blame B despite B being blameworth...

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The majority of recent work on the moral standing to blame (the idea that A may be unable to legitimately blame B despite B being blameworthy) has focused on blamers who themselves are blameworthy. This is unfortunate, for there is much to learn about the standing to blame once we consider a broader range of cases. Doing so reveals that challenged standing is more expansive than previously acknowledged, and accounts that have privileged the fact that the blamers are themselves morally culpable likely require revision. One such account figures in Patrick Todd’s (2012) argument for incompatibilism, which ostensibly depends on considerations involving the standing to blame. I believe this argument fails. But its failure is instructive, for it allows us to appreciate the numerous ways in which one’s blame can be morally problematic, and hence ways in which one’s standing to blame can be challenged. Thus, while one objective of this paper is to show why Todd’s argument fails, the larger aim is to use that argument to frame discussion of some important (and novel) ways in which the standing to blame can be compromised.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=88http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=88Mon,01 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMTHow to Solve Prichard's Dilemma: A Complex Contractualist Account of Moral MotivationT. M. Scanlon’s contractualist account of morality is articulated alongside and built upon groundbreaking work on moral motivation. Accordin...

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T. M. Scanlon’s contractualist account of morality is articulated alongside and built upon groundbreaking work on moral motivation. According to Scanlon, the central challenge of providing an account of moral motivation is navigating “Prichard’s Dilemma,” which requires that an account be both (a) helpfully explanatory and (b) morally relevant. Scanlon’s own solution is that one has a reason to act rightly because doing so is an aspect of living with others on terms they could accept. There is much to like about this account, and so, in this paper, I begin with many of Scanlon’s assumptions. I then argue that Scanlon’s own account of moral motivation fails to navigate Prichard’s Dilemma, as does another solution that I derive from his broader view. I then close by suggesting that an account of moral motivation must be “complex,” involving different reasons to satisfy the competing desiderata of Prichard’s Dilemma.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=87http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=87Wed,01 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMTUnfinished Adults and Defective Children: On the Nature and Value of ChildhoodTraditionally, most philosophers saw childhood as a state of deficiency and thought that its value was entirely dependent on how successfull...

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Traditionally, most philosophers saw childhood as a state of deficiency and thought that its value was entirely dependent on how successfully it prepares individuals for adulthood. Yet, there are good reasons to think that childhood also has intrinsic value. Children possess certain intrinsically valuable abilities to a higher degree than adults. Moreover, going through a phase when one does not yet have a “self of one’s own,” and experimenting one’s way to a stable self, seems intrinsically valuable. I argue that children can have good lives, on several understandings of well-being — as a pleasurable state, as the satisfaction of simple desires or as the realization of certain objective goods. In reply to the likely objection that only individuals capable of morality can have intrinsic value, I explain why it is plausible that children have sufficient moral agency to be as deserving of respect as adults.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=86http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=86Sun,01 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMTAgent-Relative Value and Agent-Relative RestrictionsIn this article I pose a challenge for attempts to ground all reasons in considerations of value. Some believe that all reasons for action a...

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In this article I pose a challenge for attempts to ground all reasons in considerations of value. Some believe that all reasons for action are grounded in considerations of value. Some also believe that there are agent-relative restrictions, which provide us with agent-relative reasons against bringing about the best state of affairs, on an impartial ranking of states of affairs. Some would like to hold both of these beliefs. That is, they would like to hold that such agent-relative restrictions are compatible with a teleological theory, one that grounds all reasons for action in considerations of value. This is what I will argue is problematic. I will argue that agent-centered restrictions will not fit into a teleological theory. If the correct moral theory is a teleological one, then there are no agent-relative restrictions. If there are agent-relative restrictions, then teleology is false. My argument challenges a particular project, of showing that all ethical theories are broadly consequentialist. The attraction of this project is that it promises to preserve what is thought to be compelling about consequentialism–its teleology and maximizing–while also preserving elements of commonsense morality–such as agent-relative restrictions–that have typically been thought of as distinctly non-consequentialist in nature. If my argument is correct, then this promise cannot be fulfilled.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=49http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=49Fri,01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Oct 2010 00:00:00 GMTShould Desert Replace Equality? Replies to KaganMany people are moved by the thought that if A is worse off than B, then if we can improve the condition of one or the other but not both th...

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Many people are moved by the thought that if A is worse off than B, then if we can improve the condition of one or the other but not both that it is better to improve the condition of A. Egalitarians are buoyed by the prevalence of such thoughts. But something other than egalitarianism could be driving these thoughts. In particular, such thoughts could be motivated, instead, by a combination of the belief that desert should determine how people fare and the belief that, for the most part, people are equally deserving. Shelly Kagan has pushed this line of argument, suggesting that desert should replace equality as a normative ideal. He argues that desert theory and egalitarianism often agree, and when they don’t intuition favors desert theory. A number of authors have offered responses to Kagan, including Serena Olsaretti, Fred Feldman, and Richard Arneson. However, I maintain that their responses are inadequate, primarily because they simply fail to capture the compelling intuitions that Kagan appeals to in making his case. There are other responses, however, and I consider three, each of which offers an egalitarian position that is compatible with Kagan’s most compelling intuitions. Thus, I maintain that Kagan has not sufficiently established that desert should replace equality as a normative ideal. There is still room for a genuinely egalitarian position, though Kagan’s reflections helpfully force egalitarians to further develop and refine their thinking.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=48http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=48Sun,01 Aug 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Aug 2010 00:00:00 GMTFour Solutions the the Alleged Incompleteness of Virtue EthicsIn “Virtue and Right,” Robert Johnson argues that virtue ethics that accept standards such as Virtuous Agent (A’s x-ing is right in circumst...

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In “Virtue and Right,” Robert Johnson argues that virtue ethics that accept standards such as Virtuous Agent (A’s x-ing is right in circumstances c iff a fully virtuous agent would x in c) are incomplete, since they cannot account for duties of moral self-improvement. In this paper I offer four solutions to the problem of incompleteness. The first discards Virtuous Agent and counts actions as wrong iff a vicious person would perform them. The second retains Virtuous Agent but counts self-improving actions as countererogatory: wrong but nonetheless good to do. The third replaces Virtuous Agent with a standard appealing to the Mengzian virtue of righteousness, understood as situational appropriateness. The fourth replaces Virtuous Agent with a standard that holds an action right if it promotes the agent’s virtue. Each solution accommodates duties of moral self-improvement, so a virtue ethics embracing any of them would not be incomplete.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=47http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=47Sun,01 Aug 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Aug 2010 00:00:00 GMTDesire Satisfactionism and the Problem of Irrelevant DesiresDesire-satisfaction theories about welfare come in two main varieties: unrestricted and restricted. Both varieties hold that a person's welf...

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Desire-satisfaction theories about welfare come in two main varieties: unrestricted and restricted. Both varieties hold that a person's welfare is determined entirely by the satisfactions and frustrations of his desires. But while the restricted theories count only some of a person’s desires as relevant to his well-being, the unrestricted theories count all of his desires as relevant. Because unrestricted theories count all desires as relevant they are vulnerable to a wide variety of counterexamples involving desires that seem obviously irrelevant. Derek Parfit offers a well-known example involving a stranger afflicted with what seems to be a fatal disease. Similar examples are offered by Thomas Scanlon, James Griffin, Shelly Kagan, and others. In this paper I defend a simple unrestricted desire-based theory of welfare from the claim that some of our desires are irrelevant to how well our lives go. I begin by introducing the theory I aim to defend. I then formulate the Irrelevant-Desires Problem and reject a few rationales for its key premise. I then consider and reject a few flawed responses to the problem. I finally offer an obvious but widely overlooked response: I bite the bullet. My overall goal is to dissuade those sympathetic to a desire-based approach to welfare from rejecting unrestricted forms of desire satisfactionism simply because some desires may seem irrelevant to how well our lives go.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=46http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=46Tue,01 Jun 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Jun 2010 00:00:00 GMTWhen Will Your Consequentialist Friend Abandon You for the Greater Good?According to a well-known objection to consequentialism, the answer to the preceding question is alarmingly straightforward: your consequent...

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According to a well-known objection to consequentialism, the answer to the preceding question is alarmingly straightforward: your consequentialist friend will abandon you the minute that she can more efficiently promote goodness via options that do not include her maintaining a relationship with you. The most prominent response to this objection is to emphasize the profound value of friendship for human agents and to remind critics of the distinction between the theory’s criterion of rightness and an effective decision-making procedure. Whether or not this response is viable remains a contentious issue within the now considerable literature generated on the topic, yet it is a curious fact that the debate has unfolded in such a way that the question of when a consequentialist agent ought to break from her indirect methods of promoting the good and revert back to a direct form of consequentialist decision-making has not been decisively settled. In this paper, I claim that the empirical considerations at stake for resolving this question are more complicated than is normally acknowledged; however, I argue that this should not deter sophisticated consequentialists from endorsing flexible psychological dispositions in order to monitor these empirical considerations as best as can be expected for agents with our distinctly human faculties and limitations.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=45http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=45Mon,01 Feb 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Feb 2010 00:00:00 GMTWhat Knowledge is Necessary for Virtue?Critics contend that Aristotelianism demands too much of the virtuous person in the way of knowledge to be credible. This general charge is ...

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Critics contend that Aristotelianism demands too much of the virtuous person in the way of knowledge to be credible. This general charge is usually directed against either of two of Aristotelianism’s apparent claims about the necessary conditions for the possession of a single virtue, namely that 1) one must know what all the other virtues require, and 2) one must also be the master of a preternatural range of technical/empirical knowledge. I argue that Aristotelianism does indeed have a very high standard when it comes to the knowledge necessary for the full possession of a virtue, in both of these respects. However, focus on the necessary conditions for full virtue tends to obscure an important fact: some kinds of knowledge are much more important to various virtues than others are. A proper appreciation of the significance of this fact will go a long way toward answering critics’ worries about Aristotelianism’s knowledge requirements.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=44http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=44Mon,01 Feb 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Feb 2010 00:00:00 GMTMoral Intuitions, Reliability, and DisagreementThere is an ancient, yet still lively, debate in moral epistemology about the epistemic significance of disagreement. One of the important ...

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There is an ancient, yet still lively, debate in moral epistemology about the epistemic significance of disagreement. One of the important questions in that debate is whether, and to what extent, the prevalence and persistence of disagreement between our moral intuitions causes problems for those who seek to rely on intuitions in order to make moral decisions, issue moral judgments, and craft moral theories. Meanwhile, in general epistemology, there is a relatively young, and very lively, debate about the epistemic significance of disagreement. A central question in that debate concerns peer disagreement: When I am confronted with an epistemic peer with whom I disagree, how should my confidence in my beliefs change (if at all)? The disagreement debate in moral epistemology has not been brought into much contact with the disagreement debate in general epistemology (though McGrath [2007] is an important exception). A purpose of this paper is to increase the area of contact between these two debates. In Section 1, I try to clarify the question I want to ask in this paper — this is the question whether we have any reasons to believe what I shall call “anti-intuitivism.” In Section 2, I argue that anti-intuitivism cannot be supported solely by investigating the mechanisms that produce our intuitions. In Section 3, I discuss an anti-intuitivist argument from disagreement which relies on the so-called “Equal Weight View.” In Section 4, I pause to clarify the notion of epistemic parity and to explain how it ought to be understood in the epistemology of moral intuition. In Section 5, I return to the anti-intuitivist argument from disagreement and explain how an apparently-vulnerable premise of that argument may be quite resilient. In Section 6, I introduce a novel objection against the Equal Weight View in order to show how I think we can successfully resist the anti-intuitivist argument from disagreement.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=43http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=43Fri,01 Jan 2010 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Jan 2010 00:00:00 GMTRossian MinimalismThe main question addressed in this paper is: What is the most promising ethical theory (specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for ...

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The main question addressed in this paper is: What is the most promising ethical theory (specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for any action’s being morally right) that can be formulated in terms of the notion of a prima facie duty? I try to show that the answer to this question involves an ethical theory that, despite never having been discussed, is nevertheless worthy of serious consideration. The theory, Rossian Minimalism, says, roughly, that an act, A, is morally right iff no alternative to A would constitute less of a violation of prima facie duties than A.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=42http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=42Tue,01 Dec 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Dec 2009 00:00:00 GMTBeyond History: The Ongoing Aspects of AutonomyHistorical accounts of autonomy hold that the autonomy of pro-attitudes depends, at least in part, on the way in which they came about. Und...

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Historical accounts of autonomy hold that the autonomy of pro-attitudes depends, at least in part, on the way in which they came about. Understandably, such accounts tend to focus the bulk of their attention on identifying the historical conditions necessary for the development of autonomous pro-attitudes. As Alfred Mele has argued, however, in addition to autonomy with respect to the development of one’s pro-attitudes, full or robust personal autonomy requires as well that one be autonomous with respect to the continued possession of one’s pro-attitudes, and with respect to the influence those pro-attitude have on one’s behavior. These non-historical aspects of personal autonomy have not, though, been adequately addressed by recent historical accounts. This paper aims to draw attention to, and hopefully go some way toward remedying, the need for further illumination of the two ongoing aspects of autonomy. I argue first that in order for a pro-attitude to be autonomously possessed, it is not enough that it developed in an autonomous manner; it must also be maintained in an autonomous manner. I examine two proposed “autonomous-maintenance” conditions, one by Mele, the other by Richard Arneson, and argue that, as those conditions stand, neither is satisfactory. What we need, I argue, is an autonomous-maintenance condition that adjusts and combines the requirements of those two conditions, such as that I go on to offer. According to that condition, the autonomous possession of a pro-attitude requires that the agent remain disposed and able to review the pro-attitude in the light of new and relevant evidence, and that she is capable of shedding the pro-attitude should such review issue in a rational judgment that it is best to do so. I then examine Mele’s discussion of the behavioral aspect of autonomy relative to a pro-attitude. I argue that by requiring that an agent be able to construct and execute a plan for acting on the basis of a pro-attitude that has some objectively determined likelihood of success, Mele’s treatment of the behavioral aspect of autonomy confuses the ability to autonomously pursue one’s ends with the ability to achieve them. The behavioral aspect of autonomy, I argue, ought instead require merely that an agent be able to employ her adequate self-control capacities in determining for herself whether and how to go about acting on her autonomously possessed pro-attitudes.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=41http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=41Sun,01 Nov 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Nov 2009 00:00:00 GMTWhat Is Wrong with Kamm's and Scanlon's Arguments Against TaurekAbstract: In forced choices between lives, where one group is larger than the other, Taurek claims you can save the few. Kamm and Scanlon a...

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Abstract: In forced choices between lives, where one group is larger than the other, Taurek claims you can save the few. Kamm and Scanlon argue that this is unfair. I argue it is fair. By Kamm’s and Scanlon’s own lights, it is fair. Kamm and Scanlon also try to explain why you are, in these forced choices, required to save the many. These attempts can be interpreted in three ways. I argue none works. By Kamm’s and Scanlon’s own lights, the most promising one does not work.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=40http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=40Thu,01 Oct 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Thu,01 Oct 2009 00:00:00 GMTA danger of definition: Polar predicates in moral theoryIn this paper, I use an example from the history of philosophy to show how independently defining each side of a pair of contrary predicates...

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In this paper, I use an example from the history of philosophy to show how independently defining each side of a pair of contrary predicates is apt to lead to contradiction. In the Euthyphro, piety is defined as that which is loved by some of the gods while impiety is defined as that which is hated by some of the gods. Socrates points out that since the gods harbor contrary sentiments, some things are both pious and impious. But “pious” and “impious” are contrary predicates; they cannot simultaneously characterize the same thing. Euthyphro changes his definition, but the problem of recognizing emotional ambivalence is only side-stepped. I go on to show how contemporary philosophers run into a similar problem. According to Prinz, something is good if and only if we harbor positive sentiments towards it and bad if and only if we harbor negative sentiments towards it. Thus, if we are ambivalent towards something (if we harbor both positive and negative sentiments towards it), then it is both good and bad. Like “pious” and “impious”, “good” and “bad” are contraries. Next, according to the fitting-attitude theory first elaborated by Brentano and favored by contemporary meta-ethicists like Blackburn, Brandt, Ewing, Garcia, Gibbard, McDowell, and Wiggins, something is good if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of approbation, and something is bad if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of disapprobation. I argue that moral ambivalence is sometimes appropriate, i.e., that the correct response to some things is to both love and hate them. Hence, according to the fitting-attitudes theory, some things are both good and bad. I conclude by discussing a variety of ways in which the problem of ambivalence may be solved, suggesting that attitudes of approbation and disapprobation be further individuated by the reasons for them.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=39http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=39Tue,01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 GMTPreferentism and the Paradox of DesireThe basic idea behind actualist preferentism is that getting what one wants makes one's life go better. A recent objection to preferentism i...

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The basic idea behind actualist preferentism is that getting what one wants makes one's life go better. A recent objection to preferentism is the ``paradox of desire.'' In a nutshell, this objection goes like this. I can certainly desire to be badly off. But if a desire-satisfaction theory of welfare is true, then---under certain assumptions---the hypothesis that I desire to be badly off entails a contradiction. So much the worse for desire-satisfaction theories of welfare. In this paper I show how to formulate preferentism so that the hypothesis that I desire to be badly off does not entail a contradiction. The key is to allow how close someone's desires are to being satisfied to play a role in determining their level of welfare. My version of preferentism implements this idea by allowing desire satisfaction to come in degrees.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=38http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=38Tue,01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 GMTImplanted Desires, Self-Formation, and BlameSome theories of moral responsibility assert that whether a person is accountable for her behavior depends partly on facts about her persona...

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Some theories of moral responsibility assert that whether a person is accountable for her behavior depends partly on facts about her personal history. Those who advocate such a “historicist” outlook often hold, for example, that people who unwillingly acquire morally corrupt dispositions are not blameworthy for the wrong actions that issue from these dispositions; this contention is frequently supported by thought experiments involving instances of forced psychological manipulation that seem to call responsibility into question. I argue here against the historicist perspective on moral responsibility and in favor of the conclusion that the process by which a person acquires values and dispositions is largely irrelevant to moral responsibility. While the thought experiments introduced by historicists raise perplexing questions about personal identity and involve clear instances of moral wrongs done to the manipulated subjects, neither of these considerations typically have a direct bearing on the question of moral responsibility. Rather, questions about moral responsibility in manipulation cases should be answered, I argue, by considering whether a manipulated agent is capable of expressing through her actions the objectionable attitudes that make blame appropriate in normal cases of wrongdoing.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=37http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=37Sat,01 Aug 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Aug 2009 00:00:00 GMTIn Defense of the Primacy of VirtuesIn this paper I respond to a set of basic objections often raised against those virtue theories in ethics which maintain that moral properti...

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In this paper I respond to a set of basic objections often raised against those virtue theories in ethics which maintain that moral properties such rightness and goodness (and their corresponding concepts) are to be explained and understood in terms of the virtues or the virtuous. The objections all rest on a strongly-held intuition that the virtues (and the virtuous) simply must be derivative in some way from either right actions or good states of affairs. My goal is to articulate several distinct, though related, objections grounded in this intuition, and to argue that virtue ethicists have ample resources to respond to these worries. The explanatory primacy of the virtuous over the right or the good emerges as a distinct and viable position.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=36http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=36Sat,01 Aug 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Aug 2009 00:00:00 GMTMoorean Arguments and Moral RevisionismG. E. Moore famously argued against skepticism and idealism by appealing to their inconsistency with alleged certainties, like the existence...

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G. E. Moore famously argued against skepticism and idealism by appealing to their inconsistency with alleged certainties, like the existence of his own hands. Recently, some philosophers have offered analogous arguments against revisionary views about ethics such as metaethical error theory. These arguments appeal to the inconsistency of error theory with seemingly obvious moral claims like “it is wrong to torture an innocent child just for fun.” It might seem that such ‘Moorean’ arguments in ethics will stand or fall with Moore’s own arguments in metaphysics and epistemology, in virtue of their shared structure. I argue that this is not so. I suggest that the epistemic force of the canonical Moorean arguments can best be understood to rest on asymmetries in indirect evidence. I then argue that this explanation suggests that Moorean arguments are less promising in ethics than they are against Moore’s own targets. I conclude by examining the competing attempt to vindicate Moorean arguments by appealing to Rawls’s method of reflective equilibrium.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=35http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=35Mon,01 Jun 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Jun 2009 00:00:00 GMTThree Millian Ways to Resolve Open QuestionsMillianism is a thesis in philosophy of language that the meaning of a proper name is simply its referent. Millianism faces certain puzzles ...

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Millianism is a thesis in philosophy of language that the meaning of a proper name is simply its referent. Millianism faces certain puzzles called Frege's Puzzles. Some Millians defend the view by appealing to a metaphysics of belief that involves Ways of Believing. In the first part of this paper, I argue that ethical naturalists can adopt this Millian strategy to resist Moore’s Open Question argument. While this strategy of responding to the Open Question Argument has already appeared in the literature, I show that the Millian strategy can be easily extended to other versions of the Open Question Argument that are alleged to be stronger than the original formulation. The allegedly stronger versions of the Open Question Argument are not straightforwardly Frege's Puzzles, but they still have analogue versions that have been presented against Millianism. What the Ways Millian can say against those analogue versions can easily be applied to these other versions of the Open Question Argument.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=34http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=34Wed,01 Apr 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Apr 2009 00:00:00 GMTSaving People and Flipping CoinsSuppose you find yourself in a situation in which you can either save both A and B or save only C. A, B and C are relevantly similar — all a...

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Suppose you find yourself in a situation in which you can either save both A and B or save only C. A, B and C are relevantly similar — all are strangers to you, none is more deserving of life than any other, none is responsible for being in a life-threatening situation, and so on. John Taurek argued that when deciding what to do in such a situation, you should flip a coin, thereby giving each of A, B and C a 50% chance of survival (Taurek 1977: 303). Only by doing this can we treat each person with the appropriate degree of respect. Taurek seemed to be employing the “Equal Greatest Chance” principle (EGC), according to which, when deciding whom to save, one must give each person the greatest possible chance of survival consistent with everyone else having the same chance. An obvious alternative is the “Save the Greater Number” principle (SGN). I describe an example that shows that EGC is false. I show that the example also demonstrates the falsity of other related views, including Jens Timmermann’s “Individualist Lottery Principle.” I conclude that SGN is true. And I extend the argument to other kinds of cases, showing that which person should be saved may depend on whether some additional well-being may be gained for someone in the process.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=33http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=33Sun,01 Mar 2009 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Mar 2009 00:00:00 GMTCaring and the Boundary-Driven Structure of Practical DeliberationWhen a reasonable agent deliberates about what to do, she entertains only a limited range of possible courses of action. A theory of practi...

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When a reasonable agent deliberates about what to do, she entertains only a limited range of possible courses of action. A theory of practical reasoning must therefore include an account of deliberative attention: an account that both explains the patterns of deliberative attention that reasonable agents typically display and allows us to see why these patterns of deliberative attention are reasonable. I offer such an account, built around two, central claims. (i) A reasonable agent who cares about some end is disposed to exclude courses of action which she believes to be incompatible with that end from the range of possibilities that she will entertain as options in practical deliberation. As I shall put it, an agent’s cares establish deliberative boundaries for her practical thought. (ii) The stability of a deliberative boundary varies with the depth of the care that explains it. These two claims motivate the Boundary-Driven Model of the path that a reasonable agent’s deliberative attention will take in temporally extended deliberation. If we locate the model within a maximizing conception of practical rationality, then boundary-driven deliberation, of the sort that the model describes, can be understood and justified instrumentally, as a heuristic device. But if we suppose that there is no single index of value that successful practical choice maximizes, then boundary-driven deliberation is partly constitutive of reasonableness in practical thought. It allows an agent facing plural and incommensurable values to frame her deliberative problems narrowly enough that, in conjunction with deliberative devices which are not part of the model but which are compatible with it, she may be able to reach a non-arbitrary decision — and so give a determinate, verdictive sense to the phrase “the best course of action available to me” in cases in which a determinate meaning for this phrase would otherwise be lacking.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=32http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=32Sat,01 Nov 2008 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Nov 2008 00:00:00 GMTMoral Principles Are Not Moral LawsWhat are moral principles? The assumption underlying much of the generalism—particularism debate in ethics is that they are (or would be) mo...

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What are moral principles? The assumption underlying much of the generalism—particularism debate in ethics is that they are (or would be) moral laws: generalizations or some special class thereof, such as explanatory or counterfactual-supporting generalizations. I argue that this law conception of moral principles is mistaken. For moral principles do at least three things that moral laws cannot do, at least not in their own right: explain certain phenomena, provide particular kinds of support for counterfactuals, and ground moral necessities, “necessary connections” between obligating reasons and obligations. Moreover, neither a best-systems theory of moral principles nor any of the competing theories of moral principles proposed by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge, Pekka Väyrynen, and Mark Lance and Margaret Little could vindicate the law conception of moral principles. I conclude with some brief remarks about what moral principles might be if they are not moral laws.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=31http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=31Sat,01 Nov 2008 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Nov 2008 00:00:00 GMTHume's Internalism ReconsideredA standard reading of Hume on the nature of practical reasons holds that he is a normative internalist; that, for Hume, legitimate practical...

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A standard reading of Hume on the nature of practical reasons holds that he is a normative internalist; that, for Hume, legitimate practical reasons must be linked to an agent’s set of desires or motivating passions. Though the internalist reading of Hume is popular, it gives rise to serious puzzles of interpretation. To pick one nearly at random, it appears that, on an internalist reading, Hume has serious difficulties in establishing that the so-called “artificial" virtues of justice and promise-keeping are reason-giving, especially when it comes to characters like the sensible knave. Some, skeptical of the internalist reading, have argued that Hume is in fact a nihilist about practical reasons, and admits no reasons for action at all. Against the internalist and skeptical readings, I argue that there is substantial reason to believe that Hume’s corpus is compatible with a far more robust account of normativity than even internalism allows. If so, I argue, Hume has a genuine response to the sensible knave that establishes the knave’s obligation to justice. As it turns out, Hume’s considered view is unique, underexplored, and merits further philosophical investigation.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=30http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=30Fri,01 Aug 2008 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Aug 2008 00:00:00 GMTContractualism, Reciprocity, CompensationI argue that it is not possible to give an adequate account, within a Scanlon-style contractualist moral theory of the moral duties to recip...

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I argue that it is not possible to give an adequate account, within a Scanlon-style contractualist moral theory of the moral duties to reciprocate benefits one has received from others and to compensate harms one has done to others. The problem, very simply put, is that there is no room within such a theory for the fact that the content of these obligations must be proportionate to the value of the actions that bring them into being in the first place. As a consequence, I point to a wider a moral about contractualism. This is that while that doctrine may provide an adequate account of obligations that we have to others on account simply of their status as persons, it cannot handle obligations that arise as a response to actions that these others, or we ourselves, have performed.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=29http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=29Sat,01 Mar 2008 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Mar 2008 00:00:00 GMT'Simply in Virtue of Being Human': the Whos and Whys of Human RightsIn this paper I raise some questions about the familiar claim, recently reiterated by James Griffin, that human rights are rights that human...

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In this paper I raise some questions about the familiar claim, recently reiterated by James Griffin, that human rights are rights that humans have 'simply in virtue of being human'. I ask, in particular, how we are to read the words 'simply in virtue of'. Are we speaking of who has the rights (A has them if and only if he or she is human) or why they have the rights (A has them because and only because he or she is human)? Griffin brings the two readings together, as two sides of the same coin. He offers a (more or less) universalistic case for (more or less) universalistic rights. I try to show how the two readings can be driven apart, how the universality of human rights need not be undermined merely by there being no adequate universalistic case for them. On the strength of this discussion I suggest an inversion of the relationship that is often thought to hold between human rights and human dignity. In a way our rights give us our dignity, not vice versa. And in a way this helps to make the case for the universality of human rights.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=28http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=28Fri,01 Feb 2008 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Feb 2008 00:00:00 GMTWelfare, Achievement, and Self-SacrificeMany philosophers hold that the achievement of one's goals can contribute to one's welfare apart from whatever independent contributions tha...

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Many philosophers hold that the achievement of one's goals can contribute to one's welfare apart from whatever independent contributions that the objects of those goals or the processes by which they are achieved make. Call this the Achievement View, and call those who accept it achievementists. In this paper, I argue that achievementists should accept both (a) that one factor that affects how much the achievement of a goal contributes to one’s welfare is the amount that one has invested in that goal and (b) that the amount that one has invested in a goal is a function of how much one has personally sacrificed for its sake, not a function of how much effort one has put into achieving it. So I will, contrary to at least one achievementist (viz., Keller 2004, 36), be arguing against the view that the greater the amount of productive effort that goes into achieving a goal, the more its achievement contributes to one's welfare. Furthermore, I argue that the reason that the achievement of those goals for which one has personally sacrificed matters more to one’s welfare is that, in general, the redemption of one's self-sacrifices in itself contributes to one’s welfare. Lastly, I argue that the view that the redemption of one's self-sacrifices in itself contributes to one's welfare is plausible independent of whether or not we find the Achievement View plausible. We should accept this view so as to account both for the Shape of a Life Phenomenon and for the rationality of honoring "sunk costs."

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=27http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=27Sat,01 Sep 2007 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Sep 2007 00:00:00 GMTWell-Being and VirtuePerfectionist views of well-being maintain that well-being ultimately consists, at least partly, in excellence or virtue. This paper argues ...

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Perfectionist views of well-being maintain that well-being ultimately consists, at least partly, in excellence or virtue. This paper argues that such views are untenable, focusing on Aristotelian perfectionism. The argument appeals, first, to intuitive counterexamples to perfectionism. A second worry is that it seems impossible to interpret perfection in a manner that yields both a plausible view of well-being and a strong link between morality and well-being. Third, perfectionist treatments of pleasure are deeply implausible. Fourth, perfectionism rests on a misunderstanding about the nature of our interest in prudential and perfectionist values. Finally, perfectionism’s appeal seems to depend heavily on a failure to distinguish the notions of well-being and the good life.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=26http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=26Wed,01 Aug 2007 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Aug 2007 00:00:00 GMTA Unified Moral Terrain?In his book What We Owe to Each Other, Thomas Scanlon proposes what he calls a ‘contractualist’ explanation of what he describes as ‘a centr...

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In his book What We Owe to Each Other, Thomas Scanlon proposes what he calls a ‘contractualist’ explanation of what he describes as ‘a central part of the territory called morality’, i.e. our duties to other rational creatures. If Scanlon is right, the fact that another creature is rational generates a particular kind of moral constraint on how we may act towards it: one should ‘treat rational creatures only in ways that would be allowed by principles that they could not reasonably reject insofar as they too were seeking principles of mutual governance which other rational creatures could not reasonably reject’. This is then used to explain what makes actions right, at least within his central moral area. Such actions will be right because they are permitted by principles that cannot reasonably be rejected. In this essay, I question both whether Scanlon succeeds in identifying a proper part of the moral terrain as a subject for his account and also what, if any, is the contractualist content of that account. I argue that he equivocates between two distinct and incompatible conceptions of the justifiability of principles. According to the first, justifiability is a relation between principles and people, whilst according to the second, for a principle to be justifiable is for it to be justified. For his explanation of morality to have any contractualist force, justifiability needs to be understood as a relation, but for that explanation to have any plausibility, justifiability must be understood nonrelationally. Because of this, the account is unstable and fails to describe any part of the moral landscape.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=25http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=25Sun,01 Jul 2007 00:00:00 GMT
Sun,01 Jul 2007 00:00:00 GMTEgalitarian Justice and Innocent ChoiceIn its standard formulation, luck-egalitarianism is false. Disadvantages that result from free choice to take a risk can constitute egalitar...

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In its standard formulation, luck-egalitarianism is false. Disadvantages that result from free choice to take a risk can constitute egalitarian injustice–so long as that free choice is morally praiseworthy or at least neutral. A modified formulation of luck-egalitarianism avoids these problems. The formulation offered here focuses on the notion of innocence: lack of free and morally wrong choice to take a risk. Innocent disadvantage negates justice in both punitive and distributive contexts, suggesting that it may negate justice “itself.” The modified formulation of luck-egalitarianism may thus shed light on distributive justice and perhaps on the essence of justice itself; applying it to the punitive context can also illuminate some of the discussion of moral luck.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=24http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=24Mon,01 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Jan 2007 00:00:00 GMTStrict Liability and the Mitigation of Moral LuckThe general problem of moral luck–that responsibility is profoundly affected by factors beyond the control of the person held responsible–is...

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The general problem of moral luck–that responsibility is profoundly affected by factors beyond the control of the person held responsible–is often said to cause special problems for strict liability, as opposed to negligence liability. Negligence, the argument runs, holds people responsible for both fault and fate whereas strict liability holds people accountable solely for fate. This criticism is off the mark, both in its specific claim and in its general implications. The specific criticism is mistaken because the choice between negligence and strict liability holds the contributions of fate constant. Strict liability holds people accountable for harms attributable to their agency, whereas negligence liability holds people accountable for harms attributable to their culpable agency. The more general thesis that strict liability puts agents at the mercy of fate is mistaken because the most important form of strict liability–strict enterprise liability in the law of torts–actually softens the blows of fate. In a world where the costs of accidents can be dispersed across the activities which engender them, strict enterprise liability substitutes certain but manageable insurance premiums for unpredictable but potentially catastrophic liability, and replaces less certain compensation for serious injury with more certain compensation. By subjecting us to a lottery some of whose spins of the wheel impose financial ruin, it is fault liability that puts our actions at the mercy of luck.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=23http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=23Tue,01 Aug 2006 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Aug 2006 00:00:00 GMTExplaining Reasons: Where Does the Buck Stop?The buck-passing account of values offers an explanation of the close relation of values and reasons for action: of why it is that the quest...

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The buck-passing account of values offers an explanation of the close relation of values and reasons for action: of why it is that the question whether something that is of value provides reasons is not ”open.” Being of value simply is, its defenders claim, a property that something has in virtue of its having other reason-providing properties. The generic idea of buck-passing is that the property of being good or being of value does not provide reasons. It is other properties that do. There are, however, at least three versions of the account which differ in their understanding of those “other properties.” The first two versions both assume that non-normative properties provide reasons, the difference being that the second allows that normative properties also provide reasons. Both run into difficulties, which I explain, in trying to defend the claim that non-normative properties provide reasons for action. The third version of the buck-passing account which explains being of value in terms of more specific evaluative properties that are reason-providing remains unpersuasive as well. Once we understand the relation between general and specific properties as a difference in degree, there is no space for a reduction of the one kind of properties to the other. In section II I sketch an alternative account of the relation between reasons and values, which is based on a thesis that I call the Conceptual Link and the claim that values are not just co-extensive with reasons, but explain them.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=22http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=22Wed,01 Mar 2006 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Mar 2006 00:00:00 GMTFirst ForceThe state’s very existence seems morally problematic: there may be a justification, but there had better be. A vivid way of putting this is...

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The state’s very existence seems morally problematic: there may be a justification, but there had better be. A vivid way of putting this is to say that gunmen, and the state as “gunman writ large,” threaten first force, while individuals who make conspicuous their readiness to defend what is theirs threaten not first but second force. But the “No First Force” maxim—originally Kant’s—must be relaxed if any institution of private property is to get off the ground. Property begins not in nature but in acts of appropriation, which in turn involve the use and threatened use of force against persons who might carry off the thing that has become property. Is it possible to relax the stricture against first force in a way that allows appropriation and transfer while maintaining a moral presumption against compulsory redistributive measures like those characteristic of modern welfare states? I argue that it is not.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=21http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=21Tue,01 Nov 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Tue,01 Nov 2005 00:00:00 GMTCudworth and Normative ExplanationsMoral theories usually aspire to be explanatory — to tell us why something is wrong, why it is good, or why you ought to do it. So it is wo...

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Moral theories usually aspire to be explanatory — to tell us why something is wrong, why it is good, or why you ought to do it. So it is worth knowing how moral explanations differ, if they do, from explanations of other things. This paper uncovers a common unarticulated theory about how normative explanations must work — that they must follow what I call the Standard Model. Though the Standard Model Theory has many implications, in this paper I focus primarily on only one. It plays a crucial role in an argument originally due to Cudworth that has been widely held to conclusively establish that voluntaristic ethical theories are incoherent. But if Cudworth’s argument works, then so would similar arguments against many other moral theories. All of these theories therefore need a different model for how normative explanations can work. So I also motivate and sketch one such alternative model. The result enables us to make progress in evaluating the prospects for a successful reductive view about the normative.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=20http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=20Sat,01 Oct 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Sat,01 Oct 2005 00:00:00 GMTIs Gibbard a Realist?In Thinking How to Live, Allan Gibbard claims that expressivists can vindicate realism about moral discourse. This paper argues that Gibbard...

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In Thinking How to Live, Allan Gibbard claims that expressivists can vindicate realism about moral discourse. This paper argues that Gibbard’s expressivism does not provide such a vindication.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=19http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=19Mon,01 Aug 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Mon,01 Aug 2005 00:00:00 GMTEssentially Comparative ConceptsThis paper examines Larry Temkin’s notion of an ‘essentially comparative’ concept and the uses to which he puts it. It is suggested that thi...

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This paper examines Larry Temkin’s notion of an ‘essentially comparative’ concept and the uses to which he puts it. It is suggested that this notion is a conflation of two distinct notions which need not go together. This leads to a critical examination of Temkin’s arguments that certain central ethical concepts (equality, maximin, utility) are essentially comparative. These arguments are often found wanting, as is Temkin’s treatment of the Person Affecting View.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=18http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=18Wed,01 Jun 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Jun 2005 00:00:00 GMTThe Good, the Bad, and the BlameworthyAccounts of moral responsibility can be divided into those that claim that attributability of an act, omission, or attitude to an agent is s...

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Accounts of moral responsibility can be divided into those that claim that attributability of an act, omission, or attitude to an agent is sufficient for responsibility for it, and those which hold that responsibility depends crucially on choice. I argue that accounts of the first, attributionist, kind fail to make room for the relatively stringent epistemic conditions upon moral responsibility, and that therefore an account of the second, volitionist, kind ought to be preferred. I examine the various arguments advanced on behalf of attributionist accounts, and argue that for each of them volitionism has a reply that is in every case at least as, and often more, persuasive. Most significantly, only volitionism can accommodate the intuitively important distinction between the bad and the blameworthy.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=17http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=17Wed,01 Jun 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Wed,01 Jun 2005 00:00:00 GMTThe Myth of Instrumental RationalityThe paper distinguishes between instrumental reasons and instrumental rationality. It argues that instrumental reasons are not reasons to ta...

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The paper distinguishes between instrumental reasons and instrumental rationality. It argues that instrumental reasons are not reasons to take the means to our ends. It further argues that there is no distinct form of instrumental reasoning or of instrumental rationality. In part the argument proceeds through a sympathetic examination of suggestions made by M. Bratman, J. Broome, and J. Wallace, though the accounts of instrumental rationality offered by the last two are criticised.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=13http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=13Fri,01 Apr 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Apr 2005 00:00:00 GMT"The Government Beguiled Me": The Entrapment Defense and the Problem of Private EntrapmentDefendants who are being tried for accepting a temptation issued by the government sometimes employ the entrapment defense. Acquittal of so...

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Defendants who are being tried for accepting a temptation issued by the government sometimes employ the entrapment defense. Acquittal of some of them is thought to be justified either on the grounds that culpability was undermined by the temptation (the “subjective” approach) or on the grounds that the government acted objectionably in issuing the temptation (the “objective” approach). Advocates of the objective approach often criticize those who employ the subjective by citing what is here called “the problem of private entrapment”: we don’t grant a defense to those who accept temptations issued by private parties, and so it can’t be, it is claimed, that temptation undermines culpability. This paper argues that there is a difference in culpability between a defendant who accepts a government-issued temptation and a defendant who accepts a temptation issued by a private party. This claim is supported by identifying a necessary condition for desert of legal punishment and arguing that the privately entrapped satisfy that condition while the governmentally entrapped do not. The difference, it is argued, is rooted in the fact that the government aims to cause the defendant to act illegally, while private parties, except in extraordinary cases, aim only to cause the defendant to act in a way that happens to be illegal. The paper also argues that, despite appearances to the contrary, advocates of the objective approach also encounter the problem of private entrapment.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=14http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=14Fri,01 Apr 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Apr 2005 00:00:00 GMTTwo Approaches to Instrumental Rationality and Belief ConsistencyR. Jay Wallace argues that the normativity of instrumental rationality can be traced to the independent rational requirement to hold consist...

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R. Jay Wallace argues that the normativity of instrumental rationality can be traced to the independent rational requirement to hold consistent beliefs. I present three objections to this view. John Broome argues that there is a structural similarity between the rational requirements of instrumental rationality and belief consistency. Since he does not reduce the former to the latter, his view can avoid the objections to Wallace’s view. However, we should not think Broome’s account explains the whole of instrumental rationality since agents with consistent intentions can still fail in their instrumental reasoning. This consideration makes Broome’s approach vulnerable to a line of criticism that both he and Wallace present against Christine Korsgaard’s conception of instrumental rationality.

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http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=15http://www.jesp.org/articles/view.php?id=15Fri,01 Apr 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Fri,01 Apr 2005 00:00:00 GMT