Moral Psychology
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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, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments (3)

Madame Bovary’s Predicament

In this little exercise in analytic existentialism, I’m going to contrast two kinds of stories we can live through, and suggest that the transition from one to the other is both something most of us will experience and a major challenge for finding our lives meaningful. In the sphere of personal relationships, the first kind of story is exemplified by Jane Austen’s novels (among many others), and the second by the setup of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (among others). I’ll label them Adventure and Service, respectively. Though we’re at least culturally conditioned to prefer the first, there is meaning to be found in both – but perhaps only on condition that we succeed in each of them.
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By In Applied Ethics, Experimental Philosophy, Ideas, Moral Psychology Comments (20)

What Does it Mean to ‘Normalize’ Trump?

With Donald Trump now president-elect, many people are concerned that something truly precious and fundamental is under threat. Though Americans disagree about many things, we traditionally had a shared national sense of the bounds of normal behavior and a seemingly entrenched understanding that certain kinds of behavior fell completely outside those bounds. There is now a widespread fear that Trump’s recent actions will be ‘normalized’ and that our shared understanding of the normal will then be lost.

I think that this fear is getting at something of deep importance, and it is therefore worth taking a moment to think philosophically about what is at stake here. What exactly does it mean to see certain behavior as normal?

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By In Discussions, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics, Practical Rationality Comments (41)

Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Abe Roth’s “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation,” with a critical précis by Sarah Stroud

Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Abe Roth‘s “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation.” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Sarah Stroud has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!

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By In Discussions, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics Comments Off on Upcoming Ethics Discussion, October 27-29: Abe Roth’s “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation,” with a critical précis by Sarah Stroud

Upcoming Ethics Discussion, October 27-29: Abe Roth’s “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation,” with a critical précis by Sarah Stroud

We are excited to announce our next Ethics discussion, which will focus on Abe Roth‘s paper, “Intention, Expectation, and Promissory Obligation”. The paper is available through open access here. A critical précis will be provided by Sarah Stroud. Join us October 27-29!

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By In Moral Psychology, News and Events Comments Off on Intuitive Expertise — X-Phi Results

Intuitive Expertise — X-Phi Results

Over at the X-Phi Blog.

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By In Call For Papers, Metaethics, Moral Psychology, News and Events, Practical Rationality Comments (1)

Conference/CFP: Practical Reason and Metaethics

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln is hosting a conference on Practical Reason and Metaethics to be held April 22-23, 2016.  The invited speakers on the conference program are:

  • Michael Bratman  (Stanford)
  • Stephen Darwall  (Yale)
  • Sarah McGrath  (Princeton)
  • Sigrún Svavarsdóttir  (Tufts)

Call for Papers: Four additional papers will be selected though an anonymous review of submissions.  For each paper selected, the conference will contribute up to $800 to cover the travel and accommodations of the authors. Submissions are due December 1, 2015. More info below the fold.

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