By In Featured Philosophers Comments Off on Upcoming Featured Philosophers Schedule

Upcoming Featured Philosophers Schedule

This continuing series at Soup involves selected philosophers telling us about important aspects of their past or current work and inviting discussion on it. This is one of my favorite features here at Soup and we are excited about the upcoming schedule.

We expect to schedule more in the coming weeks but y’all should obviously mark your calendars now.

October 31: Preston Werner (Halloween Non-Natural Properties Spooktacular!)

November 8: Errol Lord

November 14: Julia Markovits


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By In The Real World Comments (21)

Michael McKenna: “Flake’s Mistaken Appeal to a Principle of Innocence”

This piece, written by Michael McKenna (Arizona), is intended as a kind of generally accessible op-ed in response to one aspects of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Here now is McKenna:

Arizona’s United States Senator Jeff Flake has made a mistake. He should correct it. Just this morning [when this was written], as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Flake voted along party lines to advance to a full vote in the U.S. Senate the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. Flake cited the legal and ethical principle that a person should be treated as innocent until proven guilty. But Flake’s appeal to this principle to justify his vote is not ethically defensible. Let me explain.

As a general principle, Flake seems to assume, we should regard people as innocent until proven guilty. Whatever exactly that standard of proof involves, it requires stronger evidence than is required to justify believing something. Believing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and not Judge Brett Kavanaugh is consistent with lacking proof that Kavanaugh was guilty. That’s Flake’s way out. Nevertheless, it does not stand up to scrutiny. (more…)

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By In Academia, Uncategorized Comments (15)

The Unfortunate End-Game of Some Fraught Debates

It is a fraught topic of broad and not merely academic interest. Strong and hurt feelings abound. You have a view you work to hone and carefully articulate. Good and earnest people resist your view and argue against it. They may even suggest that it is a view unworthy of you. You remain unconvinced and argue back but manage to persuade few who did not start out on your side. You feel the polite condemnation of good and thoughtful people, yet you continue to think you are right. Perhaps you are even surprised people disagree with you on this topic. You try to be mindful of whose interests are primarily at stake and whose first-personal experience lends their views more authority in such contexts. You try to avoid defensively feeling like just because you have taken a public stand you cannot change your mind. You remind yourself you are not making a one-sided lawyerly case for a position but trying to reach a balanced overall assessment. You try to not let the mere professional status of those who argue with or against you unduly influence your thinking.  Others are joining your side but, or so it seems to you, less cautiously. The rhetoric and tone escalate around you. It seems the distinctions you were at pains to clarify are sometimes lost in some of the complaints about your view. You become agitated and start thinking “I can’t let this take over my day and this is getting unpleasant.”

Where do you go from there?


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By In Uncategorized Comments (5)

Valuing Babies?

I would value your help in thinking about how to use the term “valuing”. In the disreputable circles I run in, people tend to say that valuing is a higher order attitude that babies, who admittedly have lots of desires, lack. Some say, for example that one’s valuings are expressed only in what you want yourself to want, or what you believe good, and babies will lack such complicated attitudes. This has led Eden Lin to say that subjective views have a problem in that the typical subjectivist views, which tend to claim the well-being or reasons determining attitude is a more complex higher order attitude, cannot capture the well-being of babies.

I think the word valuing is used to point toward our authentic evaluative take on the world. The heroin addict desires heroin but does not value it because her first order desire does not speak for her or express her evaluative point of view. But because creatures with an evaluative point of view can differ so widely in other ways, it seems to me which attitudes speak for an agent can differ quite widely as well. That is, I want to try out saying, what it is for different creatures to value something can be quite different depending on their capacities and depth of attitudes. A baby has a very simple evaluative point of view. They don’t second guess their initial instincts the way us sophisticates do. But still, there is a clear sense in which they care about stuff and have an evaluative point of view. (more…)

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By In The Profession Comments (1)


Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall) came up with these.

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By In Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup Comments (12)

Ethics Reviews at PEA Soup: Exchange between Hanno Sauer and Regina Rini on Sauer’s book Moral Judgements as Educated Intuitions

I am pleased that PEA Soup will feature an exchange on Hanno Sauer’s book Moral Judgements as Educated Intuitions. Regina Rini reviewed this book in the most recent issue of Ethics. You can find an open access version of that review here.

Now we hear from Sauer in reply. And of course, as always, all are welcome to join in the discussion, ask clarificatory questions, press concerns, etc. Looking forward to a fruitful and thoughtful exchange. Here now is Sauer:

Reason in Nature? A Response to Rini

I tend to be relaxed about it when people engage with my work. Still, book reviews make me nervous. That one paper you wrote may be flawed – even embarassing, a dead end. But a whole book? It would be deeply unpleasant to find out if people thought that years of your toil had been worthless. When I heard that a review of my Moral Judgments as Educated Intuitionswas about to appear in Ethics, I got even more nervous. And the news that Regina Rini was its author really made me worry. (more…)

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By In Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup Comments Off on Ethics Reviews at PEA Soup: Upcoming exchange between Hanno Sauer and Regina Rini on Sauer’s book Moral Judgements as Educated Intuitions

Ethics Reviews at PEA Soup: Upcoming exchange between Hanno Sauer and Regina Rini on Sauer’s book Moral Judgements as Educated Intuitions

Welcome to a newish series at Soup in which authors whose books were recently reviewed at Ethics continue the discussion with their reviewer. On July 9th we will have an exchange between Hanno Sauer and Regina Rini on Sauer’s book Moral Judgements as Educated Intuitions (MIT Press, 2017). All are welcome to participate in this exchange.

Today we provide a public access link to Rini’s review in Ethics to help people be in a better position to engage in the discussion.

Rini’s review can be found here.

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