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By In Applied Ethics, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments (15)

“Everyday” and “Alienated” Approaches to Moral Theory

This post is partly a “bleg” and partly an invitation for people to give their two cents on what strikes me as a very deep and important divide among moral theorists.

Consider so-called “common-sense morality”. It consists of claims like, “It’s wrong to take someone else’s property”; “You shouldn’t handle others’ bodies without their consent”; “The job should go to the person who deserves it”; “Academic censorship is wrong because it goes against the very purposes of the university”; “It’s worse to do harm than to merely allow it to occur”; “You shouldn’t make a promise that you don’t intend to keep”; etc. It gets called “common-sense” mainly because it’s thought to capture the moral leanings of the person on the street. But it’s also fair to call it “common-sense” just because of the way it conceptually carves the world for evaluation in terms of “should”, “worse”, and so on — namely, in terms of “property”, “consent”, “job”, “point”, “do/allow”, “promise”, “intend”. These are common-sense conceptualizations because they are the conceptualizations that common-sense morality employs.

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By In Metaethics, Moral Psychology, News and Events Comments Off on New Blog: Normlessness and Nihilism

New Blog: Normlessness and Nihilism

Hi everyone. I’ve started a blog to workshop some ideas connected to my manuscript-in-progress, which I’m currently calling Normlessness and Nihilism. I’m at the very early stages of writing, and would very much welcome your comments and suggestions. My plan is to write 1-2 posts per week. The blog is HERE.

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By In Applied Ethics Comments (9)

A worry regarding the necessity of defensive force

I've got, well, a worry regarding the "necessity" requirement on the legitimacy of self- or other-defensive force. I don't really work on this stuff, so it's entirely possible that there's an easy, pat answer to this worry. Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what you all think.

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By In Applied Ethics, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics Comments (19)

Moral Uncertainty and Motivation

Brian Weatherson has posted a new paper in which he argues against "moral hedging" — roughly, refraining from A-ing on the grounds that there's a non-zero probability that A-ing is wrong and a zero probability that not A-ing is wrong. I'd like to explain why I think his central argument fails, and hear what y'all have to say both about that argument and about the issue in general. 

The argument is that one cannot hedge without exhibiting unseemly motivations in so doing, and so one ought not to hedge. Specifically, Weatherson says, one cannot hedge without thereby being motivated to avoid wrongdoing as such. He asks us to imagine a person who has some credence that eating meat is wrong, and so refrains from eating meat. The content of her ultimate motivation cannot be to refrain from subsidizing the killing of cows, since she does not (fully) believe that this is wrong; rather, it must be to refrain from doing what's morally wrong (whatever that happens to be)

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