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  1. Mathematics, Morality, and Self‐Effacement.Jack Woods - 2016 - Noûs.
    I argue that certain species of belief, such as mathematical, logical, and normative beliefs, are insulated from a form of Harman-style debunking argument whereas moral beliefs, the primary target of such arguments, are not. Harman-style arguments have been misunderstood as attempts to directly undermine our moral beliefs. They are rather best given as burden-shifting arguments, concluding that we need additional reasons to maintain our moral beliefs. If we understand them this way, then we can see why moral beliefs are vulnerable (...)
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  • Uncertainty, Indeterminacy, and Agent-Centred Constraints.Douglas W. Portmore - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):284-298.
    Common-sense morality includes various agent-centred constraints, including ones against killing unnecessarily and breaking a promise. However, it's not always clear whether, had an agent ϕ-ed, she would have violated a constraint. And sometimes the reason for this is not that we lack knowledge of the relevant facts, but that there is no fact about whether her ϕ-ing would have constituted a constraint-violation. What, then, is a constraint-accepting theory to say about whether it would have been permissible for her to have (...)
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  • Deliberators Must Be Imperfect.Derek Clayton Baker - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):321-347.
    This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do. Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some of (...)
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  • Deliberators Must Be Imperfect.Derek Clayton Baker - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (3):321-347.
    This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do . Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some (...)
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  • "Transforming Others: On the Limits of "You "Ll Be Glad I Did It" Reasoning.Dana Sarah Howard - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):341-370.
    We often find ourselves in situations where it is up to us to make decisions on behalf of others. How can we determine whether such decisions are morally justified, especially if those decisions may change who it is these others end up becoming? In this paper, I will evaluate one plausible kind of justification that may tempt us: we may want to justify our decision by appealing to the likelihood that the other person will be glad we made that specific (...)
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  • The Ethics of Existence.Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):291-301.
    Argues that inadvisable procreative acts should often be affirmed in retrospect. This shift is not explained by attachment or love but by the moral impact of existence.
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  • Objective Consequentialism and the Plurality of Chances.Leszek Wroński - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):12089-12105.
    I claim that objective consequentialism faces a problem stemming from the existence in some situations of a plurality of chances relevant to the outcomes of an agent’s acts. I suggest that this phenomenon bears structural resemblance to the well-known Reference Class problem. I outline a few ways in which one could attempt to deal with the issue, suggesting that it is the higher-level chance that should be employed by OC.
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  • The procreative asymmetry and the impossibility of elusive permission.Jack Spencer - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (11):3819-3842.
    This paper develops a form of moral actualism that can explain the procreative asymmetry. Along the way, it defends and explains the attractive asymmetry: the claim that although an impermissible option can be self-conditionally permissible, a permissible option cannot be self-conditionally impermissible.
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  • Consequentializing Constraints: A Kantsequentialist Approach.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    There is, on a given moral view, a constraint against performing acts of a certain type if that view prohibits agents from performing an instance of that act-type even to prevent two or more others from each performing a morally comparable instance of that act-type. The fact that commonsense morality includes many such constraints has been seen by several philosophers as a decisive objection against consequentialism. Despite this, I argue that constraints are more plausibly accommodated within a consequentialist framework than (...)
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  • Maximalism Versus Omnism About Reasons.Douglas Portmore - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):2953-2972.
    The performance of one option can entail the performance of another. For instance, I have the option of baking a pie as well as the option of baking, and baking a pie entails baking. Now, suppose that I have both reason to bake and reason to bake a pie. Which, if either, grounds the other? Do I have reason to bake in virtue of my having reason to perform some instance of baking, such as pie baking? Or do I have (...)
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  • Relevance First: Relocating Similarity in Counterfactual Semantics.Cory Nichols - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10529-10564.
    The last several decades of research on counterfactual conditionals in the fields of philosophy and linguistics have yielded a predominant paradigm according to which the notion of similarity plays the starring role. Roughly, a counterfactual of the form A > C is true iff the closest A-worlds are all C-worlds, where the closeness of a world is a function of its similarity, in a certain sense, to the actual world. I argue that this is deeply misguided. In some cases we (...)
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  • Rational monism and rational pluralism.Jack Spencer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1769-1800.
    Consequentialists often assume rational monism: the thesis that options are always made rationally permissible by the maximization of the selfsame quantity. This essay argues that consequentialists should reject rational monism and instead accept rational pluralism: the thesis that, on different occasions, options are made rationally permissible by the maximization of different quantities. The essay then develops a systematic form of rational pluralism which, unlike its rivals, is capable of handling both the Newcomb problems that challenge evidential decision theory and the (...)
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  • Chance and the Dissipation of Our Acts’ Effects.Derek Shiller - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):334-348.
    ABSTRACT If the future is highly sensitive to the past, then many of our acts have long-term consequences whose significance well exceeds that of their foreseeable short-term consequences. According to an influential argument by James Lenman, we should think that the future is highly sensitive to acts that affect people’s identities. However, given the assumption that chancy events are ubiquitous, the effects that our acts have are likely to dissipate over a short span of time. The sets of possible futures (...)
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  • Morality Under Risk.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2019 - Dissertation,
    Many argue that absolutist moral theories -- those that prohibit particular kinds of actions or trade-offs under all circumstances -- cannot adequately account for the permissibility of risky actions. In this dissertation, I defend various versions of absolutism against this critique, using overlooked resources from formal decision theory. Against the prevailing view, I argue that almost all absolutist moral theories can give systematic and plausible verdicts about what to do in risky cases. In doing so, I show that critics have (...)
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  • Exceeding Expectations: Stochastic Dominance as a General Decision Theory.Christian Tarsney - manuscript
    The principle that rational agents should maximize expected utility or choiceworthiness is intuitively plausible in many ordinary cases of decision-making under uncertainty. But it is less plausible in cases of extreme, low-probability risk (like Pascal's Mugging), and intolerably paradoxical in cases like the St. Petersburg and Pasadena games. In this paper I show that, under certain conditions, stochastic dominance reasoning can capture most of the plausible implications of expectational reasoning while avoiding most of its pitfalls. Specifically, given sufficient background uncertainty (...)
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  • Contractualism, Complaints, and Risk.Bastian Steuwer - 2021 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 19 (2).
    How should contractualists assess the permissibility of risky actions? Both main views on the question, ex ante and ex post, fail to distinguish between different kinds of risk. In this article, I argue that this overlooks a third alternative that I call “objective ex ante contractualism”. Objective ex ante substitutes discounting complaints by epistemic risk in favor of discounting by objective risk. I further argue in favor of this new view. Objective ex ante contractualism provides the best model of justifiability (...)
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  • Consequentialism and Collective Action.Brian Hedden - 2020 - Ethics 130 (4):530-554.
    Many consequentialists argue that you ought to do your part in collective action problems like climate change mitigation and ending factory farming because (i) all such problems are triggering cases, in which there is a threshold number of people such that the outcome will be worse if at least that many people act in a given way than if fewer do, and (ii) doing your part in a triggering case maximises expected value. I show that both (i) and (ii) are (...)
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  • Clues for Consequentialists.Joanna M. Burch-Brown - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (1):105-119.
    In an influential paper, James Lenman argues that consequentialism can provide no basis for ethical guidance, because we are irredeemably ignorant of most of the consequences of our actions. If our ignorance of distant consequences is great, he says, we can have little reason to recommend one action over another on consequentialist grounds. In this article, I show that for reasons to do with statistical theory, the cluelessness objection is too pessimistic. We have good reason to believe that certain patterns (...)
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  • Can Reasons Be Self-Undermining?Rob Van Someren Greve - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (2):411-414.
    The characterization of objective, normative reasons to φ as facts (or truths) that count in favor of φ-ing is widely accepted. But are there any further conditions that considerations which count in favor of φ-ing must meet, in order to count as a reason to φ? In this brief paper, I consider and reject one such condition, recently proposed by Caspar Hare.
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  • The Value of Practical Usefulness.Rob van Someren Greve - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (1):167-177.
    Some moral theories, such as objective forms of consequentialism, seem to fail to be practically useful: they are of little to no help in trying to decide what to do. Even if we do not think this constitutes a fatal flaw in such theories, we may nonetheless agree that being practically useful does make a moral theory a better theory, or so some have suggested. In this paper, I assess whether the uncontroversial respect in which a moral theory can be (...)
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