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By In Featured Authors, Ideas, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy of Law Comments (10)

Featured Authors: Victor Tadros’s Wrongs and Crimes (Post by Victor Tadros)

[Editor’s Note: As part of our series featuring authors of new and forthcoming books, today we are featuring Victor Tadros’s new book Wrongs and Crimes (OUP). Below, Victor discusses one argument from the book, on whether punishment can be justified in light of worries about free will. All are welcome and encouraged to join in on the discussion.]

 

Wrongs and Crimes is about the relationship between wrongs and crimes! It is about the nature and sources of wrongdoing, why wrongdoing can make a person liable to punishment. In the light of that it is about the scope of the criminal law. The book covers far too many issues – everything from the nature of wrongdoing, to debates about free will, to the nature of harm and the harm principle, to consent, inchoate wrongdoing, and firearms possession. As taster, I focus only on one issue that I address in chapter 5: can punishment be justified in the face of challenges from free-will sceptics?

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By In Ideas, Moral Responsibility Comments (8)

Moral Responsibility and Wrong Kind of Reasons

This post is a question for those who know more about the debates about moral responsibility. The question is: why is the wrong kind of reasons problem discussed so extensively in the buck-passing/value theory literature but relatively little in the moral responsibility literature? The only discussions I have been able to find are in a couple of Stephen Darwall’s papers where he discusses what we can learn from Strawson. Maybe the issue has been discussed more extensively in which case I would be very thankful for advice… (more…)

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By In Ideas, Moral Psychology Comments (3)

Both Humeans and Kantians about Motivation are Wrong

Both Hume and Kant advocated extreme and implausible views of motivation; the same is also true of many of their contemporary followers. The truth about motivation lies in between these two extremes.
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By In Character, Ideas, Moral Psychology, Moral Responsibility Comments (3)

Contempt and the Objective Stance

In an interesting piece in the NYT’s The Stone this morning, Karen Stohr (Georgetown) discussed the nature of contempt as it pertains to Trump and his recent protesters. She claims that contempt is different from anger, insofar as contempt is global, targeting the whole agent. “If I express anger toward you, I am engaging with you. If I express contempt toward you, I am dismissing you.”

She then draws from P.F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” to suggest that, while anger represents what we are susceptible to as part of interpersonal relationships and the participant stance, contempt moves us to the objective stance. From the participant stance, we see one another as accountable, and we “regard them as fellow moral agents.” From the objective stance, we view others as objects to be “managed or handled,” in Strawson’s words. One of Stohr’s points, then, is that contempt “functions by shifting the targeted person from a participant relationship to an objective relationship. It aims to alter someone’s status by diminishing their agency.” She then argues that contempt in the public sphere is perilous, especially for those not in power or marginalized in various ways. Only those in power can benefit, as only they are able make good on their dismissiveness by pushing the vulnerable even more to the margins. We need to maintain mutual respect, she thinks, and so push public contempt back into the closet.

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By In Ideas, Normative Ethics, Practical reasons, Value Theory Comments (5)

Panspermia

I have a test case that I’d like to get responses to, one that tests a certain kind of utilitarian intuition, mixed however, with an interesting conflating factor.
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By In Featured Authors, Ideas, Political Philosophy Comments Off on New Book Forum: Republic of Equals (Guest Post by Alan Thomas)

New Book Forum: Republic of Equals (Guest Post by Alan Thomas)

[What follows is a post by Alan Thomas, presenting a central argument from his new book Republic of Equals (OUP), available here. Please feel free to join in on the discussion. Alan is from the UK, so don’t be thrown off by his alarmingly different spellings of “defense,” “characterized,” and “nationalized.”]

 

Republic of Equals: Pre-distribution and Property-Owning Democracy is the first book length defence of property owning democracy as part of a tradition of egalitarianism that could reasonably be called wealth, or asset, based (as opposed to income based). (Thomas, 2017) Asset based egalitarianism is not some exotic breed of egalitarianism with which we are familiar only at the level of theory: from Land Grant universities to the federal underwriting of educational loans, from the sale of nationalised industries back to the private sector at an undervalued price to spread share ownership; from the sale of public housing stock into the private sector to the current policy of quantitative easing; in all these cases, asset based policies have had a pervasive and deep impact on inequality. (Atkinson, 2015; Hockett, 2017) However, as a perusal of this list shows, these asset based policies have typically worsened, and not ameliorated, the extensive inequality that has come to characterise the affluent societies of the West in the period from 1970 to the present day. The argument of Republic of Equals is that egalitarians need to reverse this trend and formulate a normative basis for a set of policies that move beyond the orthodox resources of the redistributively funded welfare state.

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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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