I am happy to announce the Featured Philosophers series will be running on a regular basis again and that it will now include more early career philosophers and advanced graduate students. The first post by Derek Baker (Lignan University) will go up Monday, August 7th and it will be titled “Why Bad People Will Find It Hard to Be Patriotic”. Please swing by then to join the discussion.
Happy New Year! I am happy to announce that we will have a regular series of Featured Philosophers this spring, and that we will be continue to broaden our line up to include junior professors and graduate students.
The first two posters this year will be Reid Blackman, who is an Assistant Professor at Colgate, and David Beglin, who is a finishing graduate student at UC – Riverside. Reid’s post on role-based reasons and the problems they cause for reasons-internalists will go up tomorrow, so please stop by then and join the conversation!
In this post, I want to raise a problem for a kind of theory of welfare that has recently been on the rise. I will argue that because theories of this kind are false of newborn infants, we should think that they are also false of us.
Theories of welfare differ with respect to the amount of cognitive or psychological sophistication that they require on the part of the subjects to which they are meant to apply. If hedonism is the correct theory of your welfare, then a particular thing is basically good for you—good for you in the most fundamental, non-derivative way—if and only if and because it is a pleasure experienced by you. Thus, if hedonism is true of you, then the capacity for pleasure is the only capacity that you must possess to be positive in welfare. If desire satisfactionism is the correct theory of your welfare, then a particular thing is basically good for you if and only if and because it is the obtaining object of one of your desires. Thus, if this theory is true of you, then the capacity to have desires is the only capacity that you must possess to be positive in welfare. Since these two capacities are relatively simple, we can adopt the convenient (but potentially misleading) convention of calling these theories simple theories.
By contrast, if the correct theory of your welfare is a sophisticated theory, then a particular thing is basically good for you only if you are related to it in a way that involves a fair amount of cognitive or psychological sophistication. Consider a view on which a particular is basically good for you if and only if and because it is the obtaining object of one of your valuing attitudes, and on which valuing something requires (among other things) believing that it is good. If this view is true of you, then in order to be positive in welfare, you need to have a fairly sophisticated capacity: the capacity to value things, which partly consists in the capacity to have evaluative beliefs. As I read them, a number of philosophers have proposed sophisticated theories—including Donald Bruckner, Dale Dorsey, Connie Rosati, Valerie Tiberius, Wayne Sumner, and Benjamin Yelle.
Fifth Annual Tennessee Value and Agency (TVA) Conference
September 30 — October 2, 2016 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Keynote Speakers: Michael Brady (Glasgow) and Peter Railton (Michigan)
We are pleased to announce a Call for Papers for the Inaugural Marc Sanders Award for Public Philosophy. We hope that this award will incentivize and draw attention to excellent new long-form public philosophy.
We invite submissions of unpublished essays (minimum 3,000 words, maximum 10,000) with significant philosophical content or method by authors with significant philosophical training addressed primarily to the general reader. There is no restriction to any area of philosophy. In particular, there is no restriction to practical philosophy. Everyone from graduate students to emeritus professors is encouraged to apply.
The winner of the Marc Sanders Award for Public Philosophy will receive $4,500. The winning essay will be published in Philosophers’ Imprint. Philosophers’ Imprint is a free online journal specializing in major original contributions to philosophy. The second best essay will be published in Aeon, whose editorial staff will be available to help with the final draft. The top two essays will both be published (or cross-posted) in Salon and The Point. There will also be an opportunity for the winner(s) to present their work directly to a general audience.
It is my pleasure to introduce our next Featured Philosopher, John Deigh. John is a Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Texas, Austin, and he is widely known for his insightful work in moral psychology, the history of philosophy, and for his valuable work as the editor of Ethics from 1997-2008. Please feel free to share your comments or questions!
I am grateful for the opportunity to share with the PEA Soup community some ideas about the history of meta-ethics in the twentieth century that I’ve been working out recently. These ideas are part of a larger project that began with my chapter, “Ethics in the Analytic Tradition”, in the Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics (R. Crisp, ed.). That chapter gives the history of analytic ethics during roughly its first fifty years, from G. E. Moore to R. M. Hare and Stephen Toulmin. The history treats ethics as a field of philosophy many of whose movements and changes have come about as a result of movements and changes in other fields like metaphysics and the philosophy of language. For example, I explain the radical impact of Moore’s Principia Ethica on Anglo-American ethics as continuous with the revolution in British philosophy that Moore and Russell ignited through their attacks at the turn of the 20th century on British Idealism. These attacks and the positive constructions to which they gave rise constituted the beginnings of the analytic movement in philosophy. The first chapter of Moore’s Principia, I maintain, should therefore be read as one of the major contributions to the beginnings of this movement and not, contrary to current fashion, as a rhetorically powerful recycling of ideas from Sidgwick.