By In Favorite Papers Comments (4)

Excellent Moral Philosophy Books of Last 5 Years?

We’re coming up on a semester break, at which point I always try to read a good recent moral philosophy book, just to keep up with the kids, and perhaps to spur a new research project. Toward that end, and also to help keep others apprised, I’d enjoy people chiming in with their picks for a book or two published in that last several years (up to 5) that they think is worth reading and why. Stick to our general category (moral philosophy, broadly construed to include political philosophy, agency & responsibility, and moral psychology).

I’ll start: Jonathan Glover, Alien Landscapes? (OUP, 2014). I read this last Xmas break. Includes detailed discussion of various mental disorders and what they might mean for people’s responsibility status. Also aims to identify ways of “bridging the gulf between us.” Sensitive and very insightful, partially drawn from many interviews with patients at Broadmoor with Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

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By In Ideas, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments (14)

Non-Welfarist Population Ethics (by Ralph Wedgwood)

Most contemporary work in population ethics operates within the framework of welfarism – the assumption that individual welfare is the fundamental value. But this framework is a straitjacket, leading population ethics into a labyrinth of sterile paradoxes. Once welfarism is rejected, a vastly more plausible approach to population ethics becomes available.

The approach that I favour involves a kind of perfectionism at the level of society. Of course, the welfare of individuals comes into the story. But as I shall explain, it is by no means the whole story.


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By In Action Theory (Philosophy of Action), Agency and Responsibility, Announcements Comments (0)

NOWAR 5! Call for Abstracts

This is a call for abstracts for the fifth biennial New Orleans Workshop on Agency and Responsibility (NOWAR 5), to be held in New Orleans, LA at the Aloft Hotel on November 14-16, 2019. Abstracts are welcome on any topic having to do with agency and/or responsibility. Perspectives beyond just those from moral philosophy — including psychology, legal theory, neuroscience, economics, metaphysics, and more — are quite welcome. (Click here to see more about the workshop’s general aims and other details. See also David Shoemaker’s personal website for information.)


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By In NDPR Discussion Forum, Political Philosophy Comments (9)

NDPR Forum: Thomas Mulligan’s Justice and the Meritocratic State

Welcome to our NDPR review forum on Thomas Mulligan’s Justice and the Meritocratic State (Routledge 2018), recently reviewed in NDPR by Peter Dietsch. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the book, the review, or the discussion below!



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By In Featured Philosophers, Moral Responsibility Comments (11)

Featured Philosopher: Julia Markovits

Very pleased to be able to introduce our next Featured Philosopher, my Upstate friend, Julia Markovits. Take it away Julia:

Thanks so much for inviting me to contribute!

I’m currently working on a book about praise- and blameworthiness.  One thing I’ll have something to say about in the book is how to understand degrees of praise- and blameworthiness In the book, I defend a kind of quality-of-will account, according to which one dimension of moral worth tracks the extent to which we are (or fail to be) motivated to act by the reasons that would make something the right thing to do.  (I’ve defended this claim before, in my paper “Acting for the Right Reasons” (Philosophical Review, 2010).)  That thesis gives us the tools to account for one kind of variation in degree of moral worth, since our motivating reasons can overlap more or less with the normative reasons that apply to us.

But this notion of degrees of overlap can’t explain some variations in degree of moral worth than seem to have a lot of intuitive support.  For example (as I argued in another paper, “Saints, Heroes, Sages, and Villains, Philosophical Studies, 2012), it can’t explain what makes so-called “heroic” actions especially praiseworthy, since both heroic and ordinary actions may exhibit perfect overlap between the reasons motivating their performance and the normative reasons justifying them.


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By In Public Philosophy, Teaching, The Profession Comments (1)

Public Philosophy at its Best: Better Argument with John Corvino

John Corvino has a newish series of philosophically informative videos that are super clear and helpful. Consider giving them a look at his YouTube channel here.

It would be lovely if folks who know of other good public philosophy would post it below in the comments.

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By In JMP Discussions Comments (15)

JMP Discussion of Helena de Bres’ “Narrative and Meaning in Life”

Welcome to what should be a fun and insightful discussion of Helena de Bres“Narrative and Meaning in Life” (generously made free access by Brill Online and the Journal of Moral Philosophy for the month of November). Antti Kauppinen has kindly contributed a critical précis, which appears immediately below. Please join the discussion!

Critical Précis to Helena de Bres’ “Narrative and Meaning in Life”

By Antti Kauppinen

In her excellent paper ‘Narrative and Meaning in Life’, Helena de Bres offers a new account of why and how narrative structure contributes to the meaningfulness of a life. In the course of doing so, she makes some very helpful distinctions, which I’ll urge everyone to adopt, though, in a plot twist, I’ll also raise some worries about her recountist alternative to relationist views like mine.


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