Life's Values offers new analyses of the nature of pleasure, happiness, well-being, and meaning in life. Recognizing how individuals have different priorities, Goldman explains what is of ultimate value in our lives and argues that making our desires rational - relevantly informed of what it's like to satisfy them - maximizes well-being.
This books examines the fundamental values and principles of conduct in the professions, focusing specifically on four areas: law, politics, medicine and business. One central question unifies its inquiry into the different professions: should the principles for judging the actions of professionals be the same as those used to judge private individuals, or do these professions require special moral principles to guide their conduct. The author considers arguments deriving from the underlying institutional goals of each profession in turn.
This remarkably clear and comprehensive account of empirical knowledge will be valuable to all students of epistemology and philosophy. The author begins from an explanationist analysis of knowing—a belief counts as knowledge if, and only if, its truth enters into the best explanation for its being held. Defending common sense and scientific realism within the explanationist framework, Alan Goldman provides a new foundational approach to justification. The view that emerges is broadly empiricist, counteracting the recently dominant trend that rejects that (...) framework entirely. Topics treated include the Gettier problem, the nature of explanation and inductive inference, the justification of foundations for knowledge in terms of inference to the best explanation, the possibility of realist interpretations of contemporary science, reference, and the relations between empirical psychology and epistemology. Professor Goldman defends the need for a foundational theory of justification and presents a version that refutes standard criticisms of that doctrine. His defense of realism takes into account contemporary advances in semantics and philosophy of science. It attempts to clarify the kinds of skeptical argument the philosopher must take seriously, without succumbing to them. While recent epistemology has tended to dismiss the traditional foundational approach, it has not provided a suitable alternative. Goldman breaks new ground by adapting that approach within his explanationist, inductive theory. (shrink)
To say that an object is beautiful or ugly is seemingly to refer to a property of the object. But it is also to express a positive or negative response to it, a set of aesthetic values, and to suggest that others ought to respond in the same way. Such judg- ments are descriptive, expressive, and normative or prescriptive at once. These multiple features are captured well by Humean accounts that analyze the judgments as ascribing relational properties. To say that (...) an object is beautiful is to say, in part, that it is such as to elicit a response expressing pleasure in certain observers. The observers in question must not be ignorant, biased, insensitive, or of poor taste, and they must not base their evaluations on aesthetically irrelevant properties of the objects they judge. The reference to the object's "being such . . ." captures the objective side of the relation; refer- ence to the pleasurable response captures the expressive function of these judgments; and the ideal properties of the observers suggest that others ought to judge in the same way. (shrink)
Part I. Philosophy of novels. 1. Introduction: philosophical content and literary value -- 2. Interpreting novels -- 3. The sun also rises: incompatible interpretations -- 4. The appeal of the mystery -- Part II. Philosophy in novels. 5. Moral development in Pride and prejudice -- 6. Huckleberry Finn and moral motivation -- 7. What we learn about rules from The cider house rules -- 8. Nostromo and the fragility of the self.
Originally published in 1988, this book discusses if moral knowledge exists, and if so, if it is similar to other forms of knowledge. This book approaches the issues from both historical and contemporary perspectives and in order to determine whether there is a real property of rightness, looks to the ethical theories of Hobbes, Hume and Kant. This historical analysis leads to a systematic comparison of three theories of the nature of ethics: realism, emotivism and coherentism. The nature of coherence (...) is explained using legal reasoning as a model. Moral reasoning is compared and contrasted with reasoning both in science and law, showing how ethics differs from science and empirical disciplines. (shrink)
This paper criticizes the account of desire defended by Nomy Arpaly and Timothy Schroeder in their recent book, In Praise of Desire. It contrasts their account with one that I favor, a cluster analysis listing various criteria that are together sufficient for having paradigm desires, but none of which is necessary or sufficient for desiring. I argue that their account fails to state necessary or sufficient conditions, that it is explanatorily weaker than the cluster account, that it fails to provide (...) a neat reduction of desires to neurophysical terms, and that in any case such a reduction is not required for the preservation of the concept of desire in mature psychology. Implications are drawn for the broader debate between reductionists, eliminativists, and defenders of folk psychological concepts. (shrink)
Peter Kivy and Noël Carroll advocate a narrow view of aesthetic experience according to which it consists mainly in attention to formal properties. Excluded are cognitive and moral properties. I defend the broader view that includes the latter properties. I argue first that cognition and moral assessment can be inseparable in experience from grasp of form and expressiveness. Second, Kivy and Carroll must extend the notion of form itself beyond ordinary usage to accommodate acknowledged aesthetic experience. Third, the broad view (...) has a more impressive historical lineage than the narrow view. Fourth, aesthetic experience is appreciation of aesthetic value, and the latter is more plausibly analyzed in a broad way. (shrink)
This paper defends strong internalism about reasons, the view that reasons must relate to pre-existing motivational states, from several kinds of counterexamples, supposed desire independent reasons, that have been proposed. A central distinction drawn is that between there being a reason and an agent's having a reason. For an agent to have an F reason, she must be F-minded. Reasons, as what motivate us, are states of affairs and not themselves desires or motivational states, but they must connect to existing (...) motivational states. It has been claimed that rationality itself requires us to recognize certain reasons independent of our desires, that we acquire new desires by learning what is valuable, by acquiring desire-independent reasons to pursue certain values. It is claimed also that prudential and moral reasons are desire independent. By offering an account of rationality as coherence, by appealing to broader concerns as opposed to specific desires, and by appealing to the distinction noted above, the paper exposes weaknesses in recent arguments for desire independent reasons by Millgram, Smith, Korsgaard, and Searle. the reasons they propose can be interpreted as internal (not desire independent) or dismissed as nonexistent. (shrink)
Robert Nozick argued that we would not plug into his machine that could give us any experiences we chose. More recently Richard Kraut has argued that it would be prudentially rational to plug into the machine, since only experiences count for personal welfare. I argue that both are wrong, that either choice can be rational or not, depending on the central desires of the subjects choosing. This claim is supported by the empirical evidence, which shows an almost even split between (...) those who would enter and those who would not. If we interpret those on both sides as making rational choices to maximize their personal well-being, and if such rational choice tends to enhance well-being, then the experience machine thought experiment supports neither experientialism nor its denial, but instead a rational desire satisfaction account of personal well-being. Unlike objective list and perfectionist accounts, the desire satisfaction account of well-being easily accommodates rational choices on both sides, depending on the motivational sets of the choosers. (shrink)
Criteria for a successful theory of punishment include first, that it specify a reasonable limit to punishments in particular cases, and second, that it allow benefits to outweigh costs in a penal institution.It is argued that traditional utilitarian and retributive theories fail to satisfy both criteria, and that they cannot be coherently combined so as to do so. Retributivism specifies a reasonable limit in its demand that punishment equal crime, but this limit fails to allow benefits to outweigh costs of (...) punishing. Utilitarians demand the latter but cannot guarantee the former. Combinations continue to violate one requirement or the other. (shrink)
As a preliminary to the justification of equal opportunity, we require a few words on the concept. An opportunity is a chance to attain some goal or obtain some benefit. More precisely, it is the lack of some obstacle or obstacles to the attainment of some goal or benefit. Opportunities are equal in some specified or understood sense when persons face roughly the same obstacles or obstacles of roughly the same difficulty of some specified or understood sort. In different contexts (...) we might have different sorts of benefits or obstacles in mind. But in the current social context, and in the context of this discussion, we refer to educational and occupational opportunities, chances to attain the benefits of higher education and of socially and economically desirable positions, benefits assumed to be desired by many or most individuals, other things being equal. And we generally divide obstacles into two broad classes: those imposed by the social system or by other persons in the society, for example, the hardships of life in the lower economic classes or barriers from prejudices based on race, sex, or ethnic background; and those imposed by natural disabilities, for example, low intelligence or lack of talents. The initial question is whether a moral society is obligated to create equality in opportunities in the senses just defined. I shall assume here initially that there is some such obligation on the part of society or the state, although I shall specify its nature and limits more precisely below. With the exception of certain libertarians, almost everyone, liberal and conservative alike, agrees in this assumption. (shrink)
While objective values need not be intrinsically motivating, need not actually motivate us, they would determine what we ought to pursue and protect. They would provide reasons for actions. Objective values would come in degrees, and more objective value would provide stronger reasons. It follows that, if objective value exists, we ought to maximize it in the world. But virtually no one acts with that goal in mind. Furthermore, objective value would exist independently of our subjective valuings. But we have (...) no way of measuring amounts of such values independently of the ways we value objects. While a subjectivist can account for mistaken values, a fully impersonal viewpoint, from which objective values would appear, seems instead to cause all values to disappear. Nor does the moral point of view, which requires more impartiality than agents usually exhibit, reveal fully objective values. The paper closes with an examination of the most widely endorsed candidates for states having positive and negative objective values: pleasures and pains. It concludes again that, once we adjust for worthiness of the object and desert of the subject for such states, there is no way to measure their supposed objective value. (shrink)
Rules proliferate; some are kept with a bureaucratic stringency bordering on the absurd, while others are manipulated and ignored in ways that injure our sense of justice. Under what conditions should we make exceptions to rules, and when should they be followed despite particular circumstances? The two dominant models in the literature on rules are the particularist account and that which sees the application of rules as normative. Taking a position that falls between these two extremes, Alan Goldman provides a (...) systematic framework to clarify when we need to follow rules in our moral, legal and prudential decisions, and when we ought not to do so. The book distinguishes among various types of rules; it illuminates concepts such as integrity, self-interest and self-deception; and finally, it provides an account of ordinary moral reasoning without rules. This book will be of great interest to advanced students and professionals working in philosophy, law, decision theory and the social sciences. (shrink)
This paper defends strong internalism about reasons, the view that reasons must relate to pre-existing motivational states, from several kinds of counterexamples, supposed desire independent reasons, that have been proposed. A central distinction drawn is that between there being a reason and an agent’s having a reason. For an agent to have an F reason, she must be F-minded. Reasons, as what motivate us, are states of affairs and not themselves desires or motivational states, but they must connect to existing (...) motivational states. It has been claimed that rationality itself requires us to recognize certainreasons independent of our desires, that we acquire new desires by learning what is valuable, by acquiring desire-independent reasons to pursue certain values. It is claimed also that prudential and moral reasons are desire independent. By offering an account of rationality as coherence, by appealing to broader concerns as opposed to specific desires, and by appealing to the distinction noted above, the paper exposes weaknesses in recent arguments for desire independent reasons by Millgram, Smith, Korsgaard, and Searle. The reasons they propose can be interpreted as internal or dismissed as nonexistent. (shrink)
In a well known collection of essays, Martha Nussbaum has argued that novels are indispensable in teaching and learning ethics in the right way.1 A large part of such learning consists in developing the capacity to perceive and respond to complex, nuanced situations having numerous morally relevant features deriving from particular relationships and past commitments that combine these context sensitive features in unique and unpredictable ways. Careful attention to detailed, intricate stories with finely sketched characters develops such capacity far better (...) than does reading analytical philosophy papers. Only such narratives capture the particularity and complexity of morally charged contexts with their myriad of .. (shrink)