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  1. Normative Uncertainty for Non-Cognitivists.Andrew Sepielli - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (2):191-207.
    Normative judgments involve two gradable features. First, the judgments themselves can come in degrees; second, the strength of reasons represented in the judgments can come in degrees. Michael Smith has argued that non-cognitivism cannot accommodate both of these gradable dimensions. The degrees of a non-cognitive state can stand in for degrees of judgment, or degrees of reason strength represented in judgment, but not both. I argue that (a) there are brands of noncognitivism that can surmount Smith’s challenge, and (b) any (...)
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  2. Moral Deference.David Enoch -
    Everyone agrees, I think, that there is something fishy about moral deference and expertise, but that's where consensus ends. This paper has two aims – the first is to mount a defense of moral deference, and the second is to offer a (non-debunking) diagnosis of its fishiness. I defend moral deference by connecting the discussion of moral deference to the recent discussion of the appropriate response to uncertainty. It is, I argue, morally obligatory to minimize the risk of one's wrongdoing (...)
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  3. The Value of Normative Information.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - manuscript
    This paper explores the idea that it is instrumentally valuable to learn normative truths. We consider an argument for "normative hedging" based on this principle, and examine the structure of decision-making under moral uncertainty that arises from it. But it also turns out that the value of normative information is inconsistent with the principle that learning *empirical* truths is instrumentally valuable. We conclude with a brief comment on "metanormative regress.".
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  4. Metanormative Regress: An Escape Plan.Christian Tarsney - manuscript
    How should you decide what to do when you're uncertain about basic normative principles (e.g., Kantianism vs. utilitarianism)? A natural suggestion is to follow some "second-order" norm: e.g., "comply with the first-order norm you regard as most probable" or "maximize expected choiceworthiness". But what if you're uncertain about second-order norms too -- must you then invoke some third-order norm? If so, it seems that any norm-guided response to normative uncertainty is doomed to a vicious regress. In this paper, I aim (...)
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  5. Decision Under Normative Uncertainty.Franz Dietrich & Brian Jabarian - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    While ordinary decision theory focuses on empirical uncertainty, real decision-makers also face normative uncertainty: uncertainty about value itself. From a purely formal perspective, normative uncertainty is comparable to (Harsanyian or Rawlsian) identity uncertainty in the 'original position', where one's future values are unknown. A comprehensive decision theory must address twofold uncertainty -- normative and empirical. We present a simple model of twofold uncertainty, and show that the most popular decision principle -- maximising expected value (`Expectationalism') -- has different formulations, namely (...)
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  6. Non-Ideal Prescriptions for the Morally Uncertain.Amelia Hicks - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-26.
    Morally speaking, what should one do when one is morally uncertain? Call this the Moral Uncertainty Question. In this paper, I argue that a non-ideal moral theory provides the best answer to the Moral Uncertainty Question. I begin by arguing for a strong ought-implies-can principle---morally ought implies agentially can---and use that principle to clarify the structure of a compelling non-ideal moral theory. I then describe the ways in which one's moral uncertainty affects one's moral prescriptions: moral uncertainty constrains the set (...)
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  7. Climate Change, Uncertainty and Policy.Jeroen Hopster - forthcoming - Springer.
    While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC’s preferred way of representing uncertainties and (...)
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  8. The Unity of Reason.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Clayton Littlejohn John Turri (ed.), Epistemic Norms: New Essays on Action, Belief, and Assertion.
    Cases of reasonable, mistaken belief figure prominently in discussions of the knowledge norm of assertion and practical reason as putative counterexamples to these norms. These cases are supposed to show that the knowledge norm is too demanding and that some weaker norm ought to put in its place. These cases don't show what they're intended to. When you assert something false or treat some falsehood as if it's a reason for action, you might deserve an excuse. You often don't deserve (...)
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  9. Attitudinal Ambivalence: Moral Uncertainty for Non-Cognitivists.Nicholas Makins - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    In many situations, people are unsure in their moral judgements. In much recent philosophical literature, this kind of moral doubt has been analysed in terms of uncertainty in one’s moral beliefs. Non-cognitivists, however, argue that moral judgements express a kind of conative attitude, more akin to a desire than a belief. This paper presents a scientifically informed reconciliation of non-cognitivism and moral doubt. The central claim is that attitudinal ambivalence—the degree to which one holds conflicting attitudes towards the same object—can (...)
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  10. Ethics and the Question of What to Do.Olle Risberg - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    Several recent debates in ethics and metaethics highlight what has been called the “central deliberative question.” For instance, in cases involving normative uncertainty, it is natural to ask questions like “I don’t know what I ought to do—*now* what ought I to do?” But it is not clear how this question should be understood, since what I ought to do is precisely what I do not know. Similar things can be said about questions raised by normative conflicts, so-called “alternative normative (...)
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  11. Is Normative Uncertainty Irrelevant If Your Descriptive Uncertainty Depends on It?Pamela Robinson - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    According to ‘Excluders’, descriptive uncertainty—but not normative uncertainty—matters to what we ought to do. Recently, several authors have argued that those wishing to treat normative uncertainty differently from descriptive uncertainty face a dependence problem because one’s descriptive uncertainty can depend on one’s normative uncertainty. The aim of this paper is to determine whether the phenomenon of dependence poses a decisive problem for Excluders. I argue that existing arguments fail to show this, and that, while stronger ones can be found, Excluders (...)
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  12. Subjective and Objective Reasons.Andrew Sepielli - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
  13. Decision-Making Under Moral Uncertainty.Andrew Sepielli - forthcoming - In Karen Jones, Mark C. Timmons & Aaron Zimmerman (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Moral Epistemology.
  14. Rational Moral Ignorance.Zach Barnett - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):645-664.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  15. Precautionary Personhood: We Should Treat Patients with Disorders of Consciousness as Persons.Matthew Braddock - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 12 (2-3):162-164.
    Should we allocate costly health care to patients diagnosed with disorders of consciousness (DoC), such as patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state or minimally conscious state? Peterson, Aas, and Wasserman (2021) argue that we should in their paper “What justifies the allocation of health care resources to patient with disorders of consciousness?” Their key insight is that the expected benefits to this patient population helps to justify such allocations. However, their insight is attached to a consequentialist framework aimed (...)
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  16. Normative Externalism, by Brian Weatherson.Christian Tarsney - 2021 - Mind 130 (519):1018-1028.
    Normative Externalism, by WeathersonBrian. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. Pp. xiii + 245.
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  17. COVID-19, Uncertainty, and Moral Experiments.Ibo Van de Poel & Michael Klenk - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (1):1-5.
    Pandemics like COVID-19 confront us with decisions about life and death that come with great uncertainty, factual as well as moral. How should policy makers deal with such uncertainty? We suggest that rather than to deliberate until they have found the right course of action, they better do moral experiments that generate relevant experiences to enable more reliable moral evaluations and rational decisions.
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  18. Against the Precautionary Approach to Moral Status: The Case of Surrogates for Living Human Brains.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics 21 (1):53-56.
    My paper builds on the conceptual tools from three interrelated philosophical debates that—as I believe—may help structure important if chaotic discussions about surrogates for living human brains and resolve some practical issues related to regulatory matters. In particular, I refer to the discussions about the “moral precautionary principle” in research ethics (Koplin and Wilkinson 2019); about normative uncertainty in ethics (MacAskill, Bykvist, and Ord 2020), and about the inductive risk problem for animal welfare scientists (Birch 2018). I elucidate upon the (...)
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  19. Fallibility for Expressivists.Bob Beddor - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):763-777.
    Quasi-realists face the challenge of providing a plausible analysis of acknowledgments of moral fallibility. This paper devel...
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  20. Normative Uncertainty Without Theories.Jennifer Rose Carr - 2020 - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):747-762.
    Volume 98, Issue 4, December 2020, Page 747-762.
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  21. Why Maximize Expected Choice‐Worthiness?1.William MacAskill & Toby Ord - 2020 - Noûs 54 (2):327-353.
    This paper argues in favor of a particular account of decision‐making under normative uncertainty: that, when it is possible to do so, one should maximize expected choice‐worthiness. Though this position has been often suggested in the literature and is often taken to be the ‘default’ view, it has so far received little in the way of positive argument in its favor. After dealing with some preliminaries and giving the basic motivation for taking normative uncertainty into account in our decision‐making, we (...)
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  22. Normative Uncertainty and the Dependence Problem.Abelard Podgorski - 2020 - Mind 129 (513):43-70.
    In this paper, I enter the debate between those who hold that our normative uncertainty matters for what we ought to do, and those who hold that only our descriptive uncertainty matters. I argue that existing views in both camps have unacceptable implications in cases where our descriptive beliefs depend on our normative beliefs. I go on to propose a fix which is available only to those who hold that normative uncertainty matters, ultimately leaving the challenge as a threat to (...)
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  23. Review of The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity. [REVIEW]Theron Pummer - 2020 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 8.
  24. An Axiomatic Approach to Axiological Uncertainty.Stefan Riedener - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (2):483-504.
    How ought you to evaluate your options if you’re uncertain about which axiology is true? One prominent response is Expected Moral Value Maximisation, the view that under axiological uncertainty, an option is better than another if and only if it has the greater expected moral value across axiologies. EMVM raises two fundamental questions. First, there’s a question about what it should even mean. In particular, it presupposes that we can compare moral value across axiologies. So to even understand EMVM, we (...)
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  25. Vive la Différence? Structural Diversity as a Challenge for Metanormative Theories.Christian J. Tarsney - 2020 - Ethics 131 (2):151-182.
    Decision-making under normative uncertainty requires an agent to aggregate the assessments of options given by rival normative theories into a single assessment that tells her what to do in light of her uncertainty. But what if the assessments of rival theories differ not just in their content but in their structure -- e.g., some are merely ordinal while others are cardinal? This paper describes and evaluates three general approaches to this "problem of structural diversity": structural enrichment, structural depletion, and multi-stage (...)
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  26. Decyzje w sytuacjach niepewności normatywnej.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2020 - Przeglad Filozoficzny - Nowa Seria 29 (2):53-72.
    Etycy nie poświęcali dotąd wiele uwagi niepewności, koncentrując się często na skrajnie wyidealizowanych hipotetycznych sytuacjach, w których zarówno kwestie empiryczne (np. stan świata, spektrum możliwych decyzji oraz ich konsekwencje, związki przyczynowe między zdarzeniami), jak i normatywne (np. treść norm, skale wartości) były jasno określone i znane podmiotowi. W poniższym artykule – który jest rezultatem projektu dotyczącego różnych typów decyzji w sytuacjach niepewności związanej z postępem w naukach i technologiach biomedycznych – przedstawię analizę sytuacji niepewności normatywnej, czyli takich, w których podmiot (...)
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  27. Moral Uncertainty and the Criminal Law.Christian Barry & Patrick Tomlin - 2019 - In Kimberly Ferzan & Larry Alexander (eds.), Handbook of Applied Ethics and the Criminal Law. New York: Palgrave.
    In this paper we introduce the nascent literature on Moral Uncertainty Theory and explore its application to the criminal law. Moral Uncertainty Theory seeks to address the question of what we ought to do when we are uncertain about what to do because we are torn between rival moral theories. For instance, we may have some credence in one theory that tells us to do A but also in another that tells us to do B. We examine how we might (...)
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  28. In Defence of the Epistemological Objection to Divine Command Theory.John Danaher - 2019 - Sophia 58 (3):381-400.
    Divine command theories come in several different forms but at their core all of these theories claim that certain moral statuses exist in virtue of the fact that God has commanded them to exist. Several authors argue that this core version of the DCT is vulnerable to an epistemological objection. According to this objection, DCT is deficient because certain groups of moral agents lack epistemic access to God’s commands. But there is confusion as to the precise nature and significance of (...)
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  29. Constructivism About Intertheoretic Comparisons.Stefan Riedener - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):277-290.
    Many people think that if you're uncertain about which moral theory is correct, you ought to maximize the expected choice-worthiness of your actions. This idea presupposes that the strengths of our moral reasons are comparable across theories – for instance, that our reasons to create new people, according to total utilitarianism, can be stronger than our reasons to benefit an existing person, according to a person-affecting view. But how can we make sense of such comparisons? In this article, I introduce (...)
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  30. Normative Uncertainty and Probabilistic Moral Knowledge.Julia Staffel - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6739-6765.
    The aim of this paper is to examine whether it would be advantageous to introduce knowledge norms instead of the currently assumed rational credence norms into the debate about decision making under normative uncertainty. There is reason to think that this could help us better accommodate cases in which agents are rationally highly confident in false moral views. I show how Moss’ view of probabilistic knowledge can be fruitfully employed to develop a decision theory that delivers plausible verdicts in these (...)
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  31. Normative Uncertainty and Social Choice.Christian Tarsney - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1285-1308.
    In ‘Normative Uncertainty as a Voting Problem’, William MacAskill argues that positive credence in ordinal-structured or intertheoretically incomparable normative theories does not prevent an agent from rationally accounting for her normative uncertainties in practical deliberation. Rather, such an agent can aggregate the theories in which she has positive credence by methods borrowed from voting theory—specifically, MacAskill suggests, by a kind of weighted Borda count. The appeal to voting methods opens up a promising new avenue for theories of rational choice under (...)
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  32. Rejecting Supererogationism.Christian Tarsney - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (2):599-623.
    Even if I think it very likely that some morally good act is supererogatory rather than obligatory, I may nonetheless be rationally required to perform that act. This claim follows from an apparently straightforward dominance argument, which parallels Jacob Ross's argument for 'rejecting' moral nihilism. These arguments face analogous pairs of objections that illustrate general challenges for dominance reasoning under normative uncertainty, but (I argue) these objections can be largely overcome. This has practical consequences for the ethics of philanthropy -- (...)
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  33. Fixed-Point Solutions to the Regress Problem in Normative Uncertainty.Philip Trammell - 2019 - Synthese 198 (2):1177-1199.
    When we are faced with a choice among acts, but are uncertain about the true state of the world, we may be uncertain about the acts’ “choiceworthiness”. Decision theories guide our choice by making normative claims about how we should respond to this uncertainty. If we are unsure which decision theory is correct, however, we may remain unsure of what we ought to do. Given this decision-theoretic uncertainty, meta-theories attempt to resolve the conflicts between our decision theories...but we may be (...)
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  34. Normative Externalism.Brian Weatherson - 2019 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Normative Externalism argues that it is not important that people live up to their own principles. What matters, in both ethics and epistemology, is that they live up to the correct principles: that they do the right thing, and that they believe rationally. This stance, that what matters are the correct principles, not one's own principles, has implications across ethics and epistemology. In ethics, it undermines the ideas that moral uncertainty should be treated just like factual uncertainty, that moral ignorance (...)
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  35. Moral Disagreement and Inexcusable Irrationality.Ralph Wedgwood - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (1):97.
    This essay explores the following position: Ultimate moral principles are a priori truths; hence, it is irrational to assign a non-zero credence to any proposition that is incompatible with these ultimate moral principles ; and this sort of irrationality, if it could have been avoided, is in a sense inexcusable. So—at least if moral relativism is false—in any disagreement about ultimate moral principles, at least one party to the disagreement is inexcusably irrational. This position may seem extreme, but it is (...)
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  36. Moral Uncertainty and Value Comparison.Amelia Hicks - 2018 - In Russ Shafer Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 13. Oxford, UK: pp. 161-183.
    Several philosophers have recently argued that decision-theoretic frameworks for rational choice under risk fail to provide prescriptions for choice in cases of moral uncertainty. They conclude that there are no rational norms that are “sensitive” to a decision-maker's moral uncertainty. But in this paper, I argue that one sometimes has a rational obligation to take one's moral uncertainty into account in the course of moral deliberation. I first provide positive motivation for the view that one's moral beliefs can affect what (...)
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  37. The Puzzle of Pure Moral Motivation.Adam Lerner - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13:123-144.
    People engage in pure moral inquiry whenever they inquire into the moral features of some act, agent, or state of affairs without inquiring into the non-moral features of that act, agent, or state of affairs. This chapter argues that ordinary people act rationally when they engage in pure moral inquiry, and so any adequate view in metaethics ought to be able to explain this fact. The Puzzle of Pure Moral Motivation is to provide such an explanation. This chapter argues that (...)
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  38. How Ecumenical Expressivism Confuses the Trivial and the Substantive.Andreas L. Mogensen - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):666-674.
    I argue that there are cases in which ecumenical expressivism cannot distinguish between endorsement of certain trivial and substantive normative judgments. I consider the extent to which this problem generalizes across different formulations of the ecumenical view. I suggest that we may not be able to escape the problem if we hope to retain the ability to solve the Frege-Geach problem in the way promised by ecumenical expressivism.
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  39. Is Value Under Hypothesis Value?Ittay Nissan-Rozen - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.
    In the context of two recent yet distinct philosophical debates—over choice under conditions of moral uncertainty and over transformative choices—several philosophers have implicitly adopted a thesis about how to evaluate alternatives of uncertain value. The thesis says that the value a rational agent ought to attach to an alternative under the hypothesis that the value of this alternative is x, ought to be x. I argue that while in some contexts this thesis trivially holds, in the context of the two (...)
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  40. Response to Adam Kolber’s "Punishment and Moral Risk".Chelsea Rosenthal - 2018 - University of Illinois Law Review Online 2018 (2):175-183.
    Adam Kolber argues against retributivist theories of punishment, based on considerations of moral uncertainty. In this reply, I suggest that Kolber’s argument will not have the implications he supposes, in part because, if it’s able to raise difficulties for retributivism, similar problems will arise for a wide variety of other approaches to punishment.
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  41. Why Desperate Times (But Only Desperate Times) Call for Consequentialism.Chelsea Rosenthal - 2018 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Vol. 8. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 211-235.
    People often think there are moral duties that hold irrespective of the consequences, until those consequences exceed some threshold level – that we shouldn’t kill innocent people in order to produce the best consequences, for example, except when those consequences involve saving millions of lives. This view is known as “threshold deontology.” While clearly controversial, threshold deontology has significant appeal. But it has proven quite difficult to provide a non-ad hoc justification for it. This chapter develops a new justification, showing (...)
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  42. How Moral Uncertaintism Can Be Both True and Interesting.Andrew Sepielli - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 7.
  43. Intertheoretic Value Comparison: A Modest Proposal.Christian Tarsney - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):324-344.
    In the growing literature on decision-making under moral uncertainty, a number of skeptics have argued that there is an insuperable barrier to rational "hedging" for the risk of moral error, namely the apparent incomparability of moral reasons given by rival theories like Kantianism and utilitarianism. Various general theories of intertheoretic value comparison have been proposed to meet this objection, but each suffers from apparently fatal flaws. In this paper, I propose a more modest approach that aims to identify classes of (...)
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  44. Moral Uncertainty for Deontologists.Christian Tarsney - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):505-520.
    Defenders of deontological constraints in normative ethics face a challenge: how should an agent decide what to do when she is uncertain whether some course of action would violate a constraint? The most common response to this challenge has been to defend a threshold principle on which it is subjectively permissible to act iff the agent's credence that her action would be constraint-violating is below some threshold t. But the threshold approach seems arbitrary and unmotivated: what would possibly determine where (...)
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  45. Bayesian Variations: Essays on the Structure, Object, and Dynamics of Credence.Aron Vallinder - 2018 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    According to the traditional Bayesian view of credence, its structure is that of precise probability, its objects are descriptive propositions about the empirical world, and its dynamics are given by conditionalization. Each of the three essays that make up this thesis deals with a different variation on this traditional picture. The first variation replaces precise probability with sets of probabilities. The resulting imprecise Bayesianism is sometimes motivated on the grounds that our beliefs should not be more precise than the evidence (...)
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  46. Uncertainty and Probability Within Utilitarian Theory.Jonathan Baron - 2017 - Diametros 53:6-25.
    Probability is a central concept in utilitarian moral theory, almost impossible to do without. I attempt to clarify the role of probability, so that we can be clear about what we are aiming for when we apply utilitarian theory to real cases. I point out the close relationship between utilitarianism and expected-utility theory, a normative standard for individual decision-making. I then argue that the distinction between “ambiguity” and risk is a matter of perception. We do not need this distinction in (...)
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  47. Should We Treat Vegetative and Minimally Conscious Patients as Persons?Matthew Braddock - 2017 - Neuroethics 10 (2):267-280.
    How should we treat patients diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) or minimally conscious state (MCS)? More specifically, should we treat them as having the full moral status of persons? Yes, or so we argue. First, we introduce the medical conditions of PVS, MCS, and the related conditions of Locked-in Syndrome and covert awareness. Second, we characterize the main argument for thinking diagnosed PVS patients are not persons. Third, we contend that this argument is defeated by mounting (...)
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  48. The Uncertainty of Consciousness and Why It Is Important.Matthew Braddock - 2017 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 8 (3):155-157.
    How should we treat patients diagnosed with disorders of consciousness, such as patients diagnosed as minimally conscious or vegetative (yet who very well may be conscious)? Fischer and Truog (2017) argue that the consciousness and equal rights of these patients are relatively unimportant when deciding how we should treat them. That is, we should deemphasize their consciousness and equal rights and instead privilege the value judgments of the family/surrogate. We disagree. Drawing upon precautionary reasoning that we develop in Braddock (2017), (...)
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  49. Retributivism, Consequentialism, and the Risk of Punishing the Innocent: The Troublesome Case of Proxy Crimes.Piotr Bystranowski - 2017 - Diametros 53:26-49.
    This paper discusses differences between two major schools in philosophy of criminal law, retributivism and consequentialism, with regard to the risk of punishing the innocent. As it is argued, the main point of departure between these two camps in this respect lies in their attitude towards the high evidentiary threshold in a criminal trial: while retributivism seems to strongly support setting this standard high, consequentialists may find it desirable to relax it in some cases. This discussion is set in the (...)
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  50. How to Keep High-Risk Studies Ethical: Classifying Candidate Solutions.Nir Eyal - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (2):74-77.
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