Featured Philosophers

By In Featured Philosophers, Ideas Comments (21)

Explaining Blame and Forgiveness (by Featured Philosopher Miranda Fricker)

I am pleased to introduce the next PEA Soup Featured Philosopher, Miranda Fricker.  Profesor Fricker is currently the Director of the Mind Association, the author of the insightful and very influential book, Epistemic Injustice, and she is posting today about her next book project.  Please feel free to add comments or questions below!

Thanks for inviting me to contribute! I’d like to put forward one or two of the main lines of thought for a book project I’m working on—Explaining Blame and Forgiveness. My main point will be about the surprisingly close relation between two apparently very different kinds of forgiveness; but first I need to say something about philosophical method, and to summarise a view of blame that I’ve put forward elsewhere.[1]


Read more

By In Featured Philosophers, Ideas Comments (23)

Virtue and Right Revisited (by Featured Philosopher, Robert N. Johnson)

Some time ago I argued that a problem with a certain sort of virtue ethics might not be fixable (in “Virtue and Right”). The banner ‘virtue ethics’ covers a variety of views united by not much more than the thought that ethics is in some way or other best approached through the idea of good character and virtue. My arguments set aside many of those views, especially those that, while giving pride of place to virtue, adopt a ‘no theory’ or ‘anti-theory’ stance toward the right. If you are anti-theory, then my train didn’t leave the station. Indeed, perhaps the best version of virtue ethics is one that turns its back on a theory of the right. But the sorts of views I was interested in thinking about were those that aspire to such a theory in order to create an alternative to deontological or consequentialist theories of right action.


Read more

By In Featured Philosophers, Ideas Comments (15)

Second-Personal Attitudes of the Heart (by Featured Philosopher, Steve Darwall)

Over the last decade, I have been developing an interconnected set of claims and arguments concerning the second-personal character of central moral phenomena.  My focus has been the deontic moral notions of obligation, duty, right, wrong, rights, and so on, which I have argued are distinguished by their conceptual connection to accountability and to the Strawsonian reactive attitudes through which we hold one another and ourselves answerable (Strawson, “Freedom and Resentment”).  Two central tenets are, first, that it is a conceptual truth that an act is wrong if, and only if, it is an act of a kind that it would blameworthy to perform without excuse.  (Since all other deontic notions can be defined in terms of wrongness (and wronging), this means that all deontic ideas are tied to blameworthiness.)  Second, blame is a reactive attitude that implicitly addresses a demand to its object, presupposes the authority to do so, and bids for its object to acknowledge this authority and hold himself accountable for his action.  It is the implicit element of address that makes reactive attitudes second personal (or, as Strawson says, “interpersonal”).  Reactive attitudes are felt from a presupposed perspective of relationship (better, relating) to their objects.

More recently, I have begun to do some work on a group of reactive attitudes that have the same second-personal, reciprocation-seeking structure, but that are unlike accountability-seeking deontic reactive attitudes like blame, resentment, and guilt.


Read more

By In Featured Philosophers Comments Off on Next Featured Philosopher: Charles Mills

Next Featured Philosopher: Charles Mills

I am happy to announce that our next featured philosopher, Charles Mills, will have a post up on PEA soup a week from today.  Professor Mills is the John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern and his post will be titled "Black Radical Liberalism (and why it isn't an oxymoron)."  Please stop by next Monday to read the post and join the discussion!

Read more

By In Featured Philosophers Comments (1)

Coming Featured Philosophers

Happy New Year!

I am happy to share the planned Spring/Summer line up of Featured Philosophers you can look forward to on PEA Soup.  One goal is for the series to reflect diverse people and topics and this list includes people working on (at least!) history, political philosophy, normative ethics, meta-ethics, criticial race theory, and at the intersection of ethics and epistemology. If you have any suggestions for future additions to the series, please don't hesitate to email me at bradcokelet [at] gmail [dot] com


Jan 15ish  Terence Cuneo (U Vermont)

Feb 16      Charles Mills (Northwestern)

Mar 15      TBA

Apr 5        Steve Darwall (Yale)

Apr 27      Robert Johnson (U Missouri)

May 15      Miranda Fricker (Sheffield)

June 15     Stephen Macedo (Princeton)

July 5       John Deigh (U Texas)

July 30     Kyla Ebbels-Duggan (Northwestern)

Aug 15      Pamela Hieronymi (UCLA)

Read more

By In Featured Philosophers, Ideas, Metaethics Comments (22)

The Empirical Armchair (by Featured Philosopher, Steve Finlay)

Thanks to Brad Cokelet and the PEA Soup crew for the invitation to join an illustrious line-up!

Earlier this year my first book was published (Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language, OUP).  In the first part, I offer unifying semantic analyses for central, thin normative terms ‘good’, ‘ought’, and ‘reason’ (an “end-relational” theory).  In the second part, I argue that when supplemented with a sensitivity to pragmatics, this theory solves many central problems of metaethics, including puzzles about practicality, categoricity, final value, and disagreement.  A general theme is that metaethical puzzles largely result from philosophers’ confusion about our own language.

I’m very happy here to discuss any questions or objections readers might have.  However, I thought I’d use the opportunity to focus particularly on meta-metaethical issues about philosophical method, as I’m currently trying to finish a paper for a volume on empirical approaches to metaethics (eds. Cuneo & Loeb), loosely based around a chapter I cut from the book at the last moment.  I’m sticking my neck out here, because I don’t have broad expertise in metaphilosophy, so probably some or much of what I say is naive.  But it seems an ideal topic for a blog discussion (honoring Sobel’s “plea for half-assedness”).  I enthusiastically welcome any suggestions of work I should be reading or citing, including your own.

“The Empirical Armchair”

I argue that a particular kind of armchair, analytic method is at once (i) a viable, and (ii) an empirical approach to answering metaethical questions about the nature of normative properties.  I also suggest it is (iii) uniquely apt, and (iv) the dominant actual method, despite what metaethicists may claim to be doing.  (Hopefully that rattles a few chains).


Read more

By In Featured Philosophers Comments (6)

Featured Philosopher: Richard Arneson

Hi all,


After an agonizing, frustrating, delay (curse you, Typepad!), I hope you'll all join me in welcoming Richard Arneson to PEA Soup!  Dick is Distinguished Professor, and Valtz Family Chair of Philosophy at UC San Diego.  Without further ado, then, I give you his post, titled "Moral Worth and Moral Luck".



Read more