By In Ideas, Moral Psychology, The Profession Comments (3)

The Happy Coincidence Defense and The-Most-I-Can-Do Sweet Spot (by Eric Schwitzgebel)

Eric Schwitzgebel writes:

Here are four things I care intensely about: being a good father, being a good philosopher, being a good teacher, and being a morally good person. It would be lovely if there were never any tradeoffs among these four aims.

Explicitly acknowledging such tradeoffs is unpleasant — sufficiently unpleasant that it’s tempting to try to rationalize them away. It’s distinctly uncomfortable to me, for example, to acknowledge that I would probably be better as a father if I traveled less for work. (I am writing this post from a hotel room in England.) Similarly uncomfortable is the thought that the money I’ll be spending on a family trip to Iceland this summer could probably save a few people from death due to poverty-related causes, if given to the right charity.

Today I’ll share two of my favorite techniques for rationalizing the unpleasantness away. Maybe you’ll find these techniques useful too!

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By In Discussions, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Metaethics Comments (10)

Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Paulina Sliwa’s “Moral Understanding as Knowing Right from Wrong,” with a critical précis by Kieran Setiya

Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Paulina Sliwa‘s “Moral Understanding as Knowing Right from Wrong.” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Kieran Setiya has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!

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By In Uncategorized Comments (19)

Journal of Moral Philosophy Discussion at PEA Soup: Preston Greene’s “Value in Very Long Lives,” with a critical précis by Michael Cholbi

Welcome to the second Journal of Moral Philosophy discussion here at PEA Soup. This is sure to be another insightful and productive discussion, this time on Preston Greene‘s absolutely fantastic paper “Value in Very Long Lives.” This paper is currently available in the “Advance Articles” section online at the Journal of Moral Philosophy. They have kindly provided free access to the paper, which can be viewed or downloaded here. Michael Cholbi has written a critical précis and commentary, which is included below. Please join the fun!

Michael Cholbi’s critical précis:

Longevity researcher Steven Austad has estimated that the average lifespan of “medically immortal” human beings —individuals invulnerable to aging, infectious disease, or endogenous diseases such as cancer but still vulnerable to death due to accidents, violence, etc. — would be just shy of 6,000 years. Should we welcome the prospect of medical immortality? Many actual human lives are no doubt made worse by death. For death often deprives us of goods that, had we lived longer, would have resulted in our lives being better overall. But some philosophers argue that it does not follow from the fact that many would benefit from living a bit longer that greatly extended lifespans would be better for us.

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By In Announcements, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup Comments (0)

Upcoming Ethics Discussion, April 25-27: Paulina Sliwa’s “Moral Understanding as Knowing Right from Wrong,” with a critical précis by Kieran Setiya

We are excited to announce our next Ethics discussion, which will focus on Paulina Sliwa‘s paper, “Moral Understanding as Knowing Right from Wrong”. The paper is available through open access here. A critical précis will be provided by Kieran Setiya. Join us April 25-27!

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By In Uncategorized Comments (0)

Upcoming Journal of Moral Philosophy Discussion, April 21st: Preston Greene’s “Value in Very Long Lives,” with a critical précis by Michael Cholbi

We are excited to announce our second Journal of Moral Philosophy discussion, which will take place on Friday April 21st. We will be discussing Preston Greene’s paper “Value in Very Long Lives.” The Journal of Moral Philosophy made the paper available for free here until the end of the month. Michael Cholbi will provide a critical précis. Please join the discussion!

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By In Applied Ethics Comments (1)

Justice and equal opportunity in higher education

In February of this year, scholars released an analysis of a massive data set of 30 million college students born between 1980 and 1991, that included their economic backgrounds, college attended, and post-college earnings. The findings provide us with an opportunity to revisit a long-standing concern with justice and equal opportunity in higher education.[1]

There has been much attention in recent years to whether lower income students are adequately represented at selective colleges, especially elite colleges. Some of those colleges have made serious efforts to admit a higher proportion of lower income students. The public discourse around these efforts generally operates with a tacit theory of equality of opportunity—that equality of opportunity entails that access to higher rungs on the existing hierarchy of colleges and universities be less dependent on a student’s financial resource background, and closer to being based on “merit,” however conceived. This is a milder version of the philosophic position taken by Rawls and other political philosophers, that such access be entirely independent of resource background and dependent only on talent and effort.

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Valerie Tiberius’s Advice to her Friend, Philosophy. Plus Important Survey Data from over 2500 Philosophers.

A draft of Valerie Tiberius’s Presidential Address at the Central Division of the APA is linked to below. The text below is her teaser for the address. Her advice to Philosophy is informed by important data, revealed below, from a survey of over 2500 philosophers.

Of this piece Valerie writes “I am really hoping that the survey (and my discussion of the results) will be helpful to other philosophers.  I’m very grateful to the editors of PEASoup for linking to it and hosting a discussion.  I’d love to hear your comments and I would be glad to answer questions. (I might be a little slow to answer certain questions about data, or to respond to requests for data, since I’ll have to ask my collaborator about these).”

Here now is Valerie:

I have been writing about well-being and about how to think about well-being when we are trying to help our friends.  In this context, I believe we should focus on the values of the person we are trying to help and on how those values could be improved in light of shared norms and the facts about personality and environment.  Well-being, on this view, is success in terms of appropriate values over time, or “value fulfillment” as I call it.

Given my research, I started thinking… what if PHILOSOPHY were my friend?  I might worry.  Philosophy, what are you doing with your life?  You’re in the news, and not in a good way.  Thinking about philosophy as my friend led me to wonder what would happen if I took my own approach to helping and applied it here.  And that led me to creating “The Value of Philosophy Survey”.  My hope in creating the survey was to find out what philosophers value about philosophy. I anticipated finding some conflicts among these values and my goal was to use this information to recommend a “healthy” and sustainable path that we can follow, given our values, given what philosophy is like (our “personality”) and given the academic, economic and political environment in which we have to work.  My presidential address is the results of these efforts.  It reports findings from the survey and recommends a path forward that I call the “broaden and balance” path.

The Well-Being of Philosophy

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