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By In Applied Ethics, Featured Philosophers, Ideas, Political Philosophy Comments (12)

Why Bad People Will Find it Hard to be Patriotic (by Featured Philosopher Derek Baker)

Re-posting after a technical glitch this morning (eds.)

1.

Current events are reminding us that patriotism, at least of the sort that gets publicly acknowledged, is a confusing virtue. I don’t mean that the patriot might get drawn into doing bad things on behalf of his country. Patriotism is a form of loyalty, and loyalty, whether to friends, family, one’s university, or whatever, can draw us into doing bad things on their behalf. I mean instead that those who say they care about patriotism seem surprisingly okay with others doing bad things without regard for the interests of their country.

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By In Featured Philosophers Comments (0)

Featured Philosophers & The Moral Demands of Patriotism

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.

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By In Featured Philosophers, Ideas, Metaethics, Practical reasons Comments (41)

Roles Ground Reasons; so Internalism is False (by Reid Blackman)

Hi everyone, and thanks to PEA Soup for providing this forum and inviting me to contribute.

1. The Issue

Standard theories on normative reasons rarely mention roles* and their attendant reasons and obligations, and when roles are mentioned, they are accorded derivative normative significance.  The particulars of the theories vary wildly, but the general picture they give is as follows: while there are standards for what constitutes a good parent (and a good doctor, friend, citizen, and so on), these standards are not normative, where ‘normative’ means or entails ‘reason-giving’. The standards of a role ground reasons for its members – the standards become normative – only if some other, more foundational, normative conditions are met. So occupying a role need play no important role in a theory of practical reason. But here, I offer arguments in support of the following thesis.

Role Thesis: By virtue of occupying a role, and by that alone, one has reason to do that which is conducive to achieving the ends of that role and obligations to refrain from doing that which defies the ends of that role.

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By In Announcements, Featured Philosophers Comments Off on A New Year of Featured Philosophers

A New Year of Featured Philosophers

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!

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By In Featured Philosophers, Normative Ethics, Uncategorized, Value Theory Comments (40)

Sophisticated Theories of Welfare (by Featured Philosopher Eden Lin)

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.

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By In Announcements, Featured Philosophers Comments Off on Featured Philosopher and Comments Update

Featured Philosopher and Comments Update

Our first Featured Philosopher of the new WordPress era begins tomorrow: Eden Lin (of Ohio St.) will post something on well-being, and we encourage you to read it and join in the conversation.

And speaking of which, there’s now no requirement to log-in to comment on any posts. We realized that the log-in requirement had been deterring some people from commenting, so that’s gone (unless it’s abused and spammed back into existence). So comment away!

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By In Featured Philosophers Comments (20)

More than Words Can Say: On Inarticulacy and Normative Commitment (by Kyla Ebels-Duggan)

In The Possibility of Altruism Thomas Nagel introduces a distinction between motivated and unmotivated desires that has since become standard in discussions of action theory and moral psychology.  But what, exactly, are these categories?  Many uses of the term, arguably including Nagel’s own, treat a desire as unmotivated if one has no reason for it.  So conceived, unmotivated desires are mere urges, whims or unintelligible dispositions.  It would be out of place to ask an agent to justify these states in the same way that it would be out of place to demand reasons for a headache.  But Nagel introduces the idea differently, calling a desire unmotivated if one does not reason to it, that is does not engage in explicit practical reasoning resulting in the motivation to act.

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