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By In Action Theory, Announcements, Moral Responsibility Comments Off on NOWAR 4 Program

NOWAR 4 Program

The program for the 4th biennial New Orleans Workshop on Agency and Responsibility (NOWAR 4) has been set. It is pasted below the fold. The workshop takes place in New Orleans on November 2-4, 2017, and this year it kicks off with an open discussion on the foundations of moral responsibility, with Michael McKenna, Dana Nelkin, Chandra Sripada, and David Shoemaker. The three keynote speakers this year are Jeanette Kennett, Michael S. Moore, and Angela Smith. Registration is free, and just requires an email to David Shoemaker (dshoemak AT tulane DOT edu). Information about lodging (with a reserved hotel block) to be found soon on the Murphy Institute website.

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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 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 Responsibility Comments (4)

Should We Let Trump Off the Hook?

Donald Trump loves himself. And while professional psychologists and psychiatrists cannot ethically diagnose him, many have made it quite clear that they think Trump has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). George Simon, a clinical psychologist specializing in manipulation, is archiving video clips of Trump “to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of a narcissist in action.

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By In Ideas, Metaethics, Moral Responsibility, Practical reasons Comments (13)

Cruel Jokes & Insult Comics

I’ve been interested recently in the ways in which norms from some domains impinge on norms from other domains. To that end, I’ve been writing about cruel jokes, wherein the funny and the moral intersect. I don’t at all deny that some cruel jokes are funny; I’ve been known to be amused by many. But there are some cruel jokes that, somehow in virtue of the cruelty, just aren’t jokes. The example I’ve been using is from Stephen King’s book (and/or Brian De Palma’s great film) Carrie. Carrie is raised by a rather terrifying fundamentalist mother, and she is so ignorant about her sexuality that she doesn’t realize what’s happening when she gets her first period in the shower at school. Her classmates tease her relentlessly, and the most cruel among them devise a prank: They make Carrie think she’s the prom queen, and as she’s standing up on stage, soaking in the applause, they dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her. They all find this absolutely hilarious…until Carrie gets a little irritated (for the rest, read the damn book!).

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By In Action Theory, Ideas, Moral Responsibility Comments (13)

Over-Incarceration, Charge-Stacking, and Mens Rea

There has come to be some consensus amongst political scientists and legal theorists that a major source of over-incarceration in the United States is (mostly county) prosecutors filing a significantly increased number of charges against individual arrestees (e.g., committing fraud means getting hit with the charges of mail fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, computer fraud, and more). This practice is known as “charge-stacking” (see here and here, for example). The basic idea is to guarantee conviction on at least some lesser charges: Risk-averse defendants cop to a lesser plea, even if they could have defended well against the most significant charges. So most people who are prosecuted get convicted on some charges. But so what? Why is this practice bad? I’ve been thinking that the answer to this question lies primarily in the practice’s running roughshod over what we take to be some crucial features of interpersonal moral agency.

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