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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.

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By In Ideas, Uncategorized Comments (5)

An Argument Against Subjectivism about Moral Wrongness

Here’s an argument against subjectivism about moral wrongness I’ve been kicking around. (By ‘subjectivism’ here I just mean any theory which is not “objective”—that is, a subjective theory is one that has it that that in virtue of which one’s behavior is wrong (when it is wrong) is either one’s beliefs about, or one’s evidence concerning, one’s situation.) I thought I’d post it and see if it has any legs.

 

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By In Discussions, Ideas, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments Off on Objective or Subject value for setting the strength of agent-claims

Objective or Subject value for setting the strength of agent-claims

Helen Frowe wrote me yesterday to try to understand better my position on how to count the agent’s interest in a trolley switching case. The text she was trying to understand was a piece I co-wrote with David Wasserman, called “Agents, Impartiality, and the Priority of Claims Over Duties; Diagnosing Why Thomson Still Gets the Trolley Problem Wrong by Appeal to the ‘Mechanics of Claims,’” Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2012). Thinking about how to answer her brought me to consider an interesting case I hadn’t really thought about before. So I post it here on Pea Soup to invite replies to my tentative read on how to handle this case.

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By In Ideas, Metaethics, Value Theory Comments (9)

Smith’s Objection to Buck-Passing

I very much love Michael Smith’s recent paper “A Constitutivist Theory of Reasons: Its Promise and Parts” (Law, Ethics and Philosophy 2013, also available on his website). One thing that strikes me about this paper is that, whilst discussing Parfit’s views on practical reasons, Smith seems to also create a powerful objection to the buck-passing views of value, which at least to me seems original and something that hasn’t been discussed in the vast buck-passing literature before. So, what I want to do below is to outline this argument briefly and then introduce some of the ways this argument could be resisted. For what it’s worth, my own commitment to buck-passing might be getting weaker because of this argument.

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By In Ideas, Uncategorized Comments (49)

Does Expressivism Have A Knowledge Problem? (by Featured Philosopher, Terence Cuneo)

Sharon Street has argued that (prominent versions of) quasi-realist expressivism (“expressivism,” for short) has a knowledge problem. Others, such as Allan Gibbard and Jamie Dreier, deny this. I’m inclined to agree with Sharon on this matter, albeit for reasons somewhat different from those she offers when she states her challenge.

Stating what the alleged problem is requires a bit of set up. The first step is to get a sense of what distinguishes quasi-realist expressivism from realism. Here is one way to do so that meshes with much of what expressivists say.

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Black Radical Liberalism (by Charles Mills)

It is my pleasure to share this post written by Featured Philosopher Charles Mills.  Professor Mills is the John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern University, and is well know for his influential and insightful work in oppositional political theory.  His post today is on Black Radical Liberalism.

 

BLACK RADICAL LIBERALISM (and why it isn’t an oxymoron)

“Black radical liberalism” is my attempt to reconstruct from different and usually counterposed bodies of political thought what I see as the most promising candidate for an emancipatory African American political theory. So I am less concerned with the question of whether any African American political theorists actually self-consciously identified what they were doing under this designation than with the question of whether it stands up to criticism as a plausible way forward.

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By In Ideas, Metaethics Comments (57)

Non-Natural Normative Properties and the Principle of Parsimony

Disclaimer: This is way outside of my wheelhouse. So the chances that this is just misguided are great. But it’s my month to post and I’m answering the editor’s (Half-Assed) Plea for Half-Assedness.

Many moral skeptics appeal to the following metaphysical thesis in supporting their view:

  • Metaphysical Naturalism (NAT) – There are only natural properties.

And ethical non-naturalists are committed to the following metaphysical thesis:

  • Metaphysical Plurality Thesis (PLU) – In addition to natural properties, there are non-natural properties.

Now, many think that NAT is more plausible than PLU on the grounds of parsimony. I think that this is a mistake.

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