By In Happiness, Uncategorized Comments (9)

Rosa Terlazzo: Must Adaptive Preferences be Prudentially Bad for Us?

Think about Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She is a smart, ambitious, independent young woman who trades her freedom for her father’s and over time comes to love the inconsiderate, dominating Beast who keeps her captive.

On one plausible reading, Belle’s case is a classic case of adaptive preference. By adaptive preference, I mean a preference that a person forms for an option in a limited set, that she would not have formed if other more expansive options had been available. And such preferences tend to raise problems for social and political philosophers and well-being theorists because they pull us simultaneously in two different directions: because they are the person’s own preferences, it seems that they are relevant to – perhaps even decisive in – determining what is good for her or how she should be treated; but because they involve settling for what she can get rather than a desire for what she would want if only it were available, they do not seem to capture what is genuinely good for her.

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By In Applied Ethics, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Normative Ethics, Political Philosophy Comments (26)

Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva’s, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” with a critical précis by Erin Kelly

Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva‘s, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition.” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Erin Kelly has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!

Erin Kelly writes:

Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva’s paper, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” argues that capital punishment wrongs black defendants and black communities, and that the proper remedy for this wrong is abolition of the death penalty. In developing this argument, they make an interesting case for understanding the racial wrongs of capital punishment in political terms—as instances of distributive injustice—rather than (simply) in terms of a failure to achieve retributive justice. I will explore both the nature of their claims about distributive justice and their criticism of retributive justice. I won’t address the case for abolition, which flows naturally from their conclusions about the harm done by the death penalty. Instead I will suggest, briefly, how their argument against the retributive theory could be stronger.

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By In Happiness Comments (10)

Ben Bramble: The Passing of Temporal Well-Being

Most contemporary work on well-being assumes that individuals have several different kinds of well-being:

  1. Momentary well-being—i.e., well-being at a particular point in time.
  2. Periodic well-being—i.e., well-being during some extended period longer than a moment but shorter than a whole life (say, a day, a week, a year, or a chapter of a life).
  3. Lifetime well-being—i.e., the well-being of one’s life considered as a whole.

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By In Happiness Comments (29)

Jonathan Phillips and Joshua Knobe: The Ordinary Concept of Happiness

Consider a father who looks at his beloved daughter and thinks, ‘What I want most in life is just for you to be happy.’ In thinking this thought, the father makes use of a concept that is deeply important but also very difficult to adequately characterize – the ordinary concept of happiness. Our aim is to understand how this concept works.

One obvious view would be that the ordinary concept of happiness is just a matter of having certain psychological states. For example, it might be thought that the ordinary concept of happiness is a matter of feeling good, experiencing satisfaction with one’s life, and not experiencing negative affective states, such as pain, lonelinessor despair. On this view, when the father thinks that what he wants most in life is for his daughter to be happy, what he means is simply that what he wants is for her to have certain kinds of psychological states.

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By In Agency and Responsibility, NDPR Discussion Forum Comments (5)

NDPR Forum: Suzy Killmister’s Taking the Measure of Autonomy, reviewed by Ben Mitchell-Yellin

Welcome to our next NDPR Forum, on Suzy Killmister’s book Taking the Measure of Autonomy: A Four-Dimensional Theory of Self-Governance. It was recently reviewed in NDPR by Ben Mitchell-Yellin. Below the fold are a few blurbs about the book and passages from the review. Please feel free to join in on the discussion!

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By In Agency and Responsibility, NDPR Discussion Forum Comments (15)

NDPR Forum: Bennett Helm’s “Communities of Respect,” Reviewed by Caroline Arruda

I am pleased to kick off another discussion forum on books recently reviewed in NDPR. The series gives book authors a chance to respond to their reviewers. We also invite reviewers to chime in, as well as anyone else who is interested. This forum is on Bennett Helm’s latest book, Communities of Respect: Grounding Responsibility, Authority, and Dignity (OUP 2017), reviewed in NDPR by Caroline T. Arruda. Normally, I would first post the OUP description of the book, followed by some flavorful passages from the review. But Bennett has written a rather robust response to the review, and in so doing he makes clear both what his book is about and what aspects of the review he thought involved misconstruals, so I’m going simply to let him start off this discussion in his own words.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS WRITTEN BY BENNETT HELM:

Thanks to Caroline Arruda for engaging with my book with her review, and thanks to PEA Soup for the opportunity to respond and hopefully provoke further discussions. Unfortunately, the review involves significant misconceptions of what I am up to in this book and of the kind of account I offer, so I want to take this opportunity to clarify. The account I offer ends up rejecting deeply entrenched views of the mind and of persons, so perhaps it is not surprising that there would be misunderstanding of my central aim. Moreover, my theory is quite systematic and wide-ranging, developed over 25 years and two prior books (and a separate dissertation), with each building upon the rest. Thus Communities of Respect really is part 4 of a longer series, in which I investigate what it is to be a person by considering the nature of: (1) caring in general (Helm 1994), (2) personal values (Helm 2001), (3) interpersonal values in intimate relationships (Helm 2010), and now in this book (4) interpersonal values in non-intimate relationships (Helm 2017).

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By In Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Practical reasons, Reasons and rationality Comments (8)

An exchange between Chrisoula Andreau and Justin Snedegar’s on Snedegar’s book Contrastive Reasons.

With this post we are starting a new feature at PEA Soup: Author replies to book reviews published in Ethics. Our inaugural discussion is between Chrisoula Andreou (Utah) and Justin Snedegar (St. Andrews). Chrisoula reviews Justin’s new book, Contrastive Reasons (OUP, 2017) here. Justin Snedegar’s reply follows below.

Thanks first of all to the Daves for the opportunity to continue the discussion here. And thanks most of all to Chrisoula for her excellent review of my book. Her questions and objections have given me the chance to think harder about some central issues that didn’t receive all the attention they deserved in the book. In particular, she’s made clear that there are important questions about the nature of the objectives the promotion of which I appeal to in my contrastive analyses of reasons. I used a desire to remain neutral between competing views of these objectives as an excuse for not discussing them much, but this neutrality was about relatively substantive questions about whether the objectives were desires, values, etc. Chrisoula’s objections show that there are questions about structural or formal features of objectives and of the promotion relation which are crucial for my theory, and indeed for many theories of reasons.

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