Welcome to another NDPR Forum, this one on Joseph Millum’s The Moral Foundations of Parenthood (OUP 2018), recently reviewed in NDPR by Liezl van Zyl. As always, all are welcome to join in on the discussion.
Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Jonathan Leader Maynard and Alex Worsnip’s “Is There a Distinctively Political Normativity?” with a critical précis by Alice Baderin
Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Jonathan Leader Maynard and Alex Worsnip‘s “Is There a Distinctively Political Normativity?” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Alice Baderin has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!
The program for the 2019 Arizona Workshop in Normative Ethics (WiNE) is now available here.
Here, at the View from the Owl’s Roost.
There is surprisingly little discussion about pain’s badness in the philosophical literature. One might think that it falls naturally out of any of the various theories of well-being, but this is not so straightforward (as Shelly Kagan argues). In recent work, I look at some ways pain’s badness can be explained. This post summarizes some of my arguments.
At first, the explanation for pain’s badness seems simple: it hurts! Ideally, an account of pain’s badness will appeal to pain’s feel in the explanation. It would be nice if that were all there were to it – pain is bad straightforwardly in virtue of the negative feeling tone. Call such a view dolorism. Straightforward dolorism is, however, too straightforward. It fails to allow for cases where pain is not intuitively bad. I will discuss one type of case. (Another, which I explain elsewhere, is a condition called pain asymbolia, in which patients report to experience pain but don’t find it bothersome.)
Think of the most recent remarkable experience you’ve had. Perhaps it was reading an engrossing novel that opened your eyes to a new depth of poverty, stamina, and kindness. Perhaps it was attending a sporting event you thought would exemplify stereotypes on the basest level yet turned out to deliver an unexpected but welcome insight into empowerment and dedication. Perhaps it was a sappy movie that helped you to cry when you most needed it, and then to laugh it off, so that you emerge with a fresh emotional state. Perhaps it was simply the wrong turn you took when trying to get across town that led you to discover a playground full of Somali immigrants, dressed in beautiful colors, playing soccer.
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.