Author

By In Normative Ethics, Teaching, The Profession Comments (1)

An open text in moral theory?

I'd be curious to know if some of our contributors and readers would be interested in collaborating with me on creating an open online textbook in moral theory. Open source textbooks hold promise in reducing costs to students and making scholarly knowledge more publicly available. There are quite a lot of open resources in philosophy (particularly in logic, it seems) but not a high quality textbook on normative moral theory. I'll admit to not knowing all that much about some of the likely technical issues (the design and layout, how best to disseminate such works, etc.) we would face, but my thought is that a team of 3-5 with the right technical knowhow, a strong publishing history in moral theory, and some pedagogical flair could create a great resource.

Please contact me if you're interested – thanks!

Read more

By In Academia, The Profession Comments (5)

Do cover letters for journal submissions make any difference?

I'm curious to know whether cover letters that accompany journal submissions make any difference — whether editors read them, whether the letters influence publication decisions, etc. I've always treated this as pro forma: "Dear Editors, Please consider this manuscript for a future issue ofthe journal," etc. But I've had scientists tell me that significant effort goes into crafting their cover letters because the significance of the work may not be obvious. Is that so in philosophy — that explaining the significance of a submission will help its publication chances?

Read more

By In News and Events Comments Off on Call for abstracts: Inaugural meeting, International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying

Call for abstracts: Inaugural meeting, International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying

We invite all interested scholars to contribute to the program of the inaugural conference of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death of Dying. The conference will be held 20-22 November 2014 on the campus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (east of Los Angeles, California).

 

Abstracts of 500-750 words should address philosophical questions related to death and dying, including but not limited to:

(more…)

Read more

By In Academia, The Profession Comments (13)

Self-plagiarism in academic publishing?

I've recently reviewed manuscripts for two interdisciplinary journals, journals in which philosophers can and do publish but in which articles by philosophers would be in the minority. I later surmised that the manuscripts I reviewed were not written by philosophers. Both had features that struck me as being unorthodox. Most notably, both manuscripts contained many references to the authors' extant published work. They also included long (200 word+) quotations from the authors' previously published work, flagged such (e.g., "As I remarked in my (2005)…")

So far as I know, this sort of self-plagiarism would be unusual in a philosophy manuscript. Anonymous references in a philosophy manuscript are common (though one objection to them is that they essentially blow the cover on blind review), and it would not be strange to have many such references if the manuscript were part of a symposium, etc., where the author might say things like, "In response to this criticism about X, let us revisit my article on X." But I found this strong reliance on the author's previous work off putting and unprofessional. It seems faintly like a fallacious appeal to authority, for one. What if the position, arguments, etc., of the published work being self-plagiarized weren't convincing in the first place? And if all the arguments were made elsewhere, why should the manuscript I'm reviewing be published? 

Lastly, it looks like a way to pad your CV: republish, with small modifications,what you already published. This seems unfair to those authors who have actual new ideas to contribute.

Yet I'm also willing to concede that my reaction may reflect norms about originality, authorship, etc. specific to philosophy. So I'd be curious to know if others have reviewed manuscripts with these features; if the practices I've described are common outside philosophy; and if self-plagiarism (taken to this degree at least) is unprofessional. 

Read more

By In Value Theory Comments (9)

Getting clear on ‘sophisticated consequentialism’

I am currently working on a manuscript in which sophisticated consequentialism (SC) plays a role, and I want to make sure I characterize the view accurately.

The heart of SC is the recommendation that the act consequentialist standard of right action not necessarily be utilized by agents in their deliberations.  The 'sophisticated consequentialist' is supposed to be justified is not using that standard in her deliberations to the extent that using it would have worse consequences than using some other non-consequentialist deliberative procedure. On its face then, SC is not a view of right action but a view about right deliberation.

(more…)

Read more

By In News and Events Comments Off on Call for Proposals: “Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy”

Call for Proposals: “Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy”

The Public Philosophy Network is sponsoring a conference that I imagine will interest many PEA Soup readers. Details, and the call for proposals, below:

(more…)

Read more

By In Normative Ethics Comments (10)

What does ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ imply about moral dilemmas?

I've had moral dilemmas on my mind lately, and I'm troubled by a common argument given against the possibility of genuine moral dilemmas. I'm hoping people can help diagnose what's troubling me. And I apologize in advance for the disorganized thinking.

Here's the argument: Suppose an individual S is obligated both to perform act A and obligated to perform act B. S is therefore obligated to perform (A&B). Assuming that for S to be obligated to ø entails that S ought to ø, then S ought to A, ought to B, and ought (A&B). Applying 'ought' implies 'can,' then S ought (A&B) entails S can (A&B). But the circumstances of the world are such that S is metaphysically precluded from performing (A&B), so she cannot (A&B). Hence, it is both true that S ought (A&B) and false that S ought (A&B).

(more…)

Read more