This book provides an entry-level introduction to philosophical ethics, theories of moral reasoning, and selected issues in applied ethics. Chapter 1 describes the importance of philosophical approaches to ethical issues, the general dialectical form of moral reasoning, and the broad landscape of moral philosophy. Chapter 2 presents egoism and relativism as challenges to the presumed objectivity and unconditionality of morality. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 discuss utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, respectively. Each chapter begins with a general overview of the (...) characteristic theory of value and moral reasoning and proceeds to present a more refined account based on a prominent historical source (Mill, Kant, and Aristotle, respectively). It then discusses strengths and weaknesses of the theory from a contemporary perspective, including more recent developments, defenses, and critiques. Each chapter includes an appendix in which secondary, less prominent, or more complex issues are discussed. Chapters 6-9 address in detail a prominent area of applied ethics: 6. abortion, 7. assisted dying, 8. Biotechnology, 9. Animals and eating. Each of these chapters presents an introduction to the topic, including definitions, historical and contemporary developments and contexts, etc.; the various questions and issues involved; and an application of each theory from multiple points of view. Each chapter also includes a set of primary readings along with an extensive bibliography. Chapter 10 discusses four more areas of applied ethics: War, Torture, and Terrorism; Capital Punishment; Environmental Ethics; and Same-Sex Marriage. The treatment of these topics focuses mainly on the introductory material. While there is some discussion of the various ethical arguments, it is less comprehensive or detailed compared to other chapters. However, several primary resources are listed to supplement the discussion in the textbook. (shrink)
Ever since F. H. Bradley first formulated his famous regress argument philosophers have been hard at work trying to refute it. The argument fails, it has been suggested, either because its conclusion just does not follow from its premises, or it fails because one or more of its premises should be given up. In this paper, the Bradleyan argument, as well as some of the many and varied reactions it has received, is scrutinized.
Monism about being says that there is one way to be. Pluralism about being says that there are many ways to be. Recently, Trenton Merricks and David Builes have offered arguments against Pluralism. In this paper, I show how Pluralists who appeal to the relative naturalness of quantifiers can respond to these arguments.
Sometimes we learn what the world is like, and sometimes we learn where in the world we are. Are there any interesting differences between the two kinds of cases? The main aim of this article is to argue that learning where we are in the world brings into view the same kind of observation selection effects that operate when sampling from a population. I will first explain what observation selection effects are ( Section 1 ) and how they are relevant (...) to learning where we are in the world ( Section 2 ). I will show how measurements in the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics can be understood as learning where you are in the world via some observation selection effect ( Section 3 ). I will apply a similar argument to the Sleeping Beauty Problem ( Section 4 ) and explain what I take the significance of the analogy to be ( Section 5 ). Finally, I will defend the Restricted Principle of Indifference on which some of my arguments depend ( Section 6 ). (shrink)
This chapter explores the topic of imprecise probabilities as it relates to model validation. IP is a family of formal methods that aim to provide a better representationRepresentation of severe uncertainty than is possible with standard probabilistic methods. Among the methods discussed here are using sets of probabilities to represent uncertainty, and using functions that do not satisfy the additvity property. We discuss the basics of IP, some examples of IP in computer simulation contexts, possible interpretations of the IP framework (...) and some conceptual problems for the approach. We conclude with a discussion of IP in the context of model validation. (shrink)
Adams’s Thesis, the claim that the probabilities of indicative conditionals equal the conditional probabilities of their consequents given their antecedents, has proven impossible to accommodate within orthodox possible-world semantics. This essay proposes a modification to the orthodoxy that removes this impossibility. The starting point is a proposal by Jeffrey and Stalnaker that conditionals take semantic values in the unit interval, interpreting these (à la McGee) as their expected truth-values at a world. Their theories imply a false principle, namely, that the (...) probability of a conditional is independent of any proposition inconsistent with its antecedent. But they also point to something important, namely, that our uncertainty about conditionals is not confined to uncertainty about the facts (what the actual world is like) but also expresses uncertainty about the counterfacts (what the world would be like if one or another supposition were true). To capture this observation, this essay proposes that the semantic contents of conditionals be treated as sets of vectors of possible worlds, not singleton worlds, with the coordinates of each specifying the world that is or would be true under the supposition that it represents. The probabilities of truth for conditionals will then depend on the joint probabilities of the facts and counterfacts, the latter in turn depending on the mode of supposition. The implication of this treatment is that the probabilities of conditionals are conditional probabilities whenever the mode of supposition is evidential. (shrink)
A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism . A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well-founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is supported (...) by showing that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Mereological nihilism is the view that no objects have proper parts. Despite how counter‐intuitive it is, it is taken quite seriously, largely because it solves a number of puzzles in the metaphysics of material objects – or so its proponents claim. In this article, I show that for every puzzle that mereological nihilism solves, there is a similar puzzle that (a) it doesn’t solve, and (b) every other solution to the original puzzle does solve. Since the solutions to the new (...) puzzles apply just as well to the old puzzles, the old puzzles provide no motivation to be a mereological nihilist. (shrink)
What if your peers tell you that you should disregard your perceptions? Worse, what if your peers tell you to disregard the testimony of your peers? How should we respond if we get evidence that seems to undermine our epistemic rules? Several philosophers have argued that some epistemic rules are indefeasible. I will argue that all epistemic rules are defeasible. The result is a kind of epistemic particularism, according to which there are no simple rules connecting descriptive and normative facts. (...) I will argue that this type of particularism is more plausible in epistemology than in ethics. The result is an unwieldy and possibly infinitely long epistemic rule — an Uber-rule. I will argue that the Uber-rule applies to all agents, but is still defeasible — one may get misleading evidence against it and rationally lower one’s credence in it. (shrink)
Richard Jeffrey espoused an antifoundationalist variant of Bayesian thinking that he termed ‘Radical Probabilism’. Radical Probabilism denies both the existence of an ideal, unbiased starting point for our attempts to learn about the world and the dogma of classical Bayesianism that the only justified change of belief is one based on the learning of certainties. Probabilistic judgment is basic and irreducible. Bayesian conditioning is appropriate when interaction with the environment yields new certainty of belief in some proposition but leaves one’s (...) conditional beliefs untouched (the ‘Rigidity’ condition). Although Richard Jeffrey denied the general applicability of this condition, one of his main contributions to probabilistic thinking is a form of belief updating—now typically called ‘Jeffrey conditioning’ or ‘probability kinematics’—that is appropriate in circumstances in which Rigidity is satisfied, but where the interaction causes one to reevaluate one’s probability judgments over some partition of the possibility space without conferring certainty on any particular element. The most familiar occasion for Jeffrey conditioning is receipt of uncertain evidence: things partially perceived or remembered. But it also serves to illuminate belief updating occasioned by a change in one’s degrees of conditional belief, a kind of belief change largely ignored by classical Bayesianism. I argue that such changes in conditional belief can also be basic (in the sense of not being analyzable as a consequence of conditioning on factual information) and offer a kinematical model for a particular kind change in conditional belief. Both are applied to changes in preference. Finally, I argue that Rigidity can fail when changes of belief give inferential grounds for changes in conditional belief (and vice versa). These failures show that conditioning methods are properly regarded, not as valid rules of inference, but as tools in the ‘art of judgment’. (shrink)
The fine-tuning argument can be used to support the Many Universe hypothesis. The Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy objection seeks to undercut the support for the Many Universe hypothesis. The objection is that although the evidence that there is life somewhere confirms Many Universes, the specific evidence that there is life in this universe does not. I will argue that the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy is not committed by the fine-tuning argument. The key issue is the procedure by which the universe with life (...) is selected for observation. Once we take account of the procedure, we find that the support for the Many Universe hypothesis remains. (shrink)
We distinguish three qualitatively different types of uncertainty—ethical, option and state space uncertainty—that are distinct from state uncertainty, the empirical uncertainty that is typically measured by a probability function on states of the world. Ethical uncertainty arises if the agent cannot assign precise utilities to consequences. Option uncertainty arises when the agent does not know what precise consequence an act has at every state. Finally, state space uncertainty exists when the agent is unsure how to construct an exhaustive state space. (...) These types of uncertainty are characterised along three dimensions—nature, object and severity—and the relationship between them is examined. We conclude that these different forms of uncertainty cannot be reduced to empirical uncertainty about the state of the world without inducing an increase in its severity. (shrink)
Epicurus seems to have thought that death is not bad for the one who dies, since its badness cannot be located in time. I show that Epicurus’ argument presupposes Presentism, and I argue that death is bad for its victim at all and only those times when the person would have been living a life worth living had she not died when she did. I argue that my account is superior to competing accounts given by Thomas Nagel, Fred Feldman and (...) Neil Feit. (shrink)
In recent years, many philosophers of religion have turned their attention to the topic of faith. Given the ubiquity of the word “faith” both in and out of religious contexts, many of them have chosen to begin their forays by offering an analysis of faith. But it seems that there are many kinds of faith: religious faith, non‐religious faith, interpersonal faith, and propositional faith, to name a few. In this article, I discuss analyses of faith that have been offered and (...) point out the dimensions along which they differ. (shrink)
One might well wonder—is there a category under which every thing falls? Offering an informative account of such a category is no easy task. For nothing would distinguish things that fall under it from those that don’t—there being, after all, none of the latter. It seems hard, then, to say much about any fully general category; and it would appear to do no carving or categorizing or dividing at all. Nonetheless there are candidates for such a fully general office, including (...) thing, being, entity, item, existent, and—especially—object.[ It is not obvious that there is any fully general category (whether object or otherwise). Accordingly, not all accounts of object assign it to a fully general category, instead allowing that there are non-objects. On those views, object does indeed divide. Accounts of object, then, differ with respect to whether there are non-objects. And this is not the only fault line. Other dimensions of difference include what objects there are and what objects are. Accordingly, this entry will survey three broad questions about the category object: What, if any, is its contrast or complement? What is its extension? What is its nature? (shrink)
If we make the basic assumption that the components of a proposition have reference on the model of proper name and bearer, we face the problem of distinguishing the proposition from a mere list' of names. We neutralize the problem posed by that assumption of we first of all follow Wiggins and distinguish, in every predicate, a strictly predicative element (the copula), and a strictly non-predicative conceptual component (available to be quantified over). If we further allow the copula itself to (...) conform to the basic assumption, a regress ( Bradley's regress') arises: the referent of the copula will be instantiation, the instantiation of instantiation etc. To avert the regress, Wiggins simply legislates that the basic assumption is to fail for the copula. But we are entitled to regard the regress as constitution not a difficulty, but the solution: the infinitism it imports (capturable in a finitistic theory of meaning) is just what the unity of the proposition "is". (edited). (shrink)
How do temporal and eternal beliefs interact? I argue that acquiring a temporal belief should have no effect on eternal beliefs for an important range of cases. Thus, I oppose the popular view that new norms of belief change must be introduced for cases where the only change is the passing of time. I defend this position from the purported counter-examples of the Prisoner and Sleeping Beauty. I distinguish two importantly different ways in which temporal beliefs can be acquired and (...) draw some general conclusions about their impact on eternal beliefs. (shrink)
How should we revise our beliefs in response to the expressed probabilistic opinions of experts on some proposition when these experts are in disagreement? In this paper I examine the suggestion that in such circumstances we should adopt a linear average of the experts’ opinions and consider whether such a belief revision policy is compatible with Bayesian conditionalisation. By looking at situations in which full or partial deference to the expressed opinions of others is required by Bayesianism I show that (...) only in trivial circumstances are the requirements imposed by linear averaging compatible with it. (shrink)
F. H. Bradley (1846-1924) was considered in his day to be the greatest British philosopher since Hume. For modern philosophers he continues to be an important and influential figure. However, the opposition to metaphysical thinking throughout most of the twentieth century has somewhat eclipsed his important place in the history of British thought. Consequently, although there is renewed interest in his ideas and role in the development of Western philosophy, his writings are often hard to find. This collection unites (...) all of his published works, much of which has long been out of print, together with selected notebooks, articles, and correspondence from his previously unpublished remains. The set therefore provides the opportunity to view his entire philosophy, both in the breadth of its scope - from critical history and ethics through logic to metaphysics and epistemology - and in its historical development - from the earliest Hegelian writings to the later more psychological and pragmatic work. In addition the set features introductions to Bradley's writings, life and character, providing the framework to assess his permanent importance in the history of philosophy. --the first ever publication of all Bradley's works --includes 5 volumes of reset material, mostly never before published --a collecton that all serious philosophy libraries should have --extremely comprehensive new editorial matter --volumes 4 & 5 are indexed by subject and name --collects Bradley's correspondence, spanning 50 years, with Russell, Samuel Alexander, Bosanquet, Haldane, William James, Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, and many others --includes Bradley's notes on Green's lectures on ethics, selected undergraduate essays, notebooks preparatory of his major works, lists of what Bradley read, essays that never reached publication, inventory of Bradley's papers, and a catalogue of Bradley's personal library. (shrink)
A quick look at what is happening in the corporate world makes it clear that the stakeholder idea is alive, well, and flourishing; and the question now is not “if ” but “how” stakeholder theory will meet the challenges of its success. Does stakeholder theory’s “arrival” mean continued dynamism, refinement, and relevance, or stasis? How will superior stakeholder theory continue to develop? In light of these and related questions, the authors of these essays conducted an ongoing dialogue on the current (...) state and future of stakeholder thinking. Beginning with a review of research and theory that has developed since the majorstakeholder theorizing efforts of the 1990s, the authors individually offer their perspectives on the key issues relevant today to stakeholder thinking, and to suggest possible approaches that might lead toward and enable the continuing development of superior stakeholder theory. (shrink)
If an agent believes that the probability of E being true is 1/2, should she accept a bet on E at even odds or better? Yes, but only given certain conditions. This paper is about what those conditions are. In particular, we think that there is a condition that has been overlooked so far in the literature. We discovered it in response to a paper by Hitchcock (2004) in which he argues for the 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. (...) Hitchcock argues that this credence follows from calculating her fair betting odds, plus the assumption that Sleeping Beauty’s credences should track her fair betting odds. We will show that this last assumption is false. Sleeping Beauty’s credences should not follow her fair betting odds due to a peculiar feature of her epistemic situation. (shrink)
A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism. A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well‐founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is supported by (...) showing that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Bradley has argued that a truth-conditional semantics for conditionals is incompatible with an allegedly very weak and intuitively compelling constraint on the interpretation of conditionals. I argue that the example Bradley offers to motivate this constraint can be explained along pragmatic lines that are compatible with the correctness of at least one popular truth-conditional semantics for conditionals.
Adam Elga takes the Sleeping Beauty example to provide a counter-example to Reflection, since on Sunday Beauty assigns probability 1/2 to H, and she is certain that on Monday she will assign probability 1/3. I will show that there is a natural way for Bas van Fraassen to defend Reflection in the case of Sleeping Beauty, building on van Fraassen’s treatment of forgetting. This will allow me to identify a lacuna in Elga’s argument for 1/3. I will then argue, however, (...) that not all is well with Reflection: there is a problem with van Fraassen’s treatment of forgetting. Ultimately I will agree with Elga’s 1/3 answer. David Lewis maintains that the answer is 1/2; I will argue that cases of forgetting can be used to show that the premiss of Lewis’s argument for 1/2 is false. (shrink)
This article defends the Doomsday Argument, the Halfer Position in Sleeping Beauty, the Fine-Tuning Argument, and the applicability of Bayesian confirmation theory to the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. It will argue that all four problems have the same structure, and it gives a unified treatment that uses simple models of the cases and no controversial assumptions about confirmation or self-locating evidence. The article will argue that the troublesome feature of all these cases is not self-location but selection effects.
In this paper, I articulate and argue for a new truthmaker view of ontological commitment, which I call the “General Truthmaker View”: when one affirms a sentence, one is ontologically committed to there being something that makes true the proposition expressed by the sentence. This view comes apart from Quinean orthodoxy in that we are not ontologically committed to the things over which we quantify, and it comes apart from extant truthmaker views of ontological commitment in that we are not (...) ontologically committed to the truthmakers of our sentences. (shrink)
The lesson to be learned from the paradoxical St. Petersburg game and Pascal’s Mugging is that there are situations where expected utility maximizers will needlessly end up poor and on death’s door, and hence we should not be expected utility maximizers. Instead, when it comes to decision-making, for possibilities that have very small probabilities of occurring, we should discount those probabilities down to zero, regardless of the utilities associated with those possibilities.
Objectives During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare resources including staff were diverted from paediatric services to support COVID-positive adult patients. Hospital visiting restrictions and reductions in face-to-face paediatric care were also enforced. We investigated the impact of service changes during the first wave of the pandemic on children and young people, to inform recommendations for maintaining their care during future pandemics. Design A multi-centre service evaluation was performed through a survey of consultant paediatricians working within the North Thames Paediatric Network, (...) a group of paediatric services in London. We investigated six areas: redeployment, visiting restrictions, patient safety, vulnerable children, virtual care and ethical issues. Results Survey responses were received from 47 paediatricians across six National Health Service Trusts. Children's right to health was largely believed to be compromised by the prioritisation of adults during the pandemic. Sub-optimal paediatric care due to redeployment and the impact of visiting restrictions on CYP's mental health were reported. Decreased hospital attendances of CYP were associated with parental fear of COVID-19 infection-risks and government ‘stay at home’ advice. Reductions in face-to-face care were noted to have disadvantaged those with complex needs, disabilities and safeguarding concerns. Conclusion Consultant paediatricians perceived that paediatric care was compromised during the first wave of the pandemic, resulting in harm to children. This harm must be minimised in subsequent pandemics. Recommendations for future practice which were developed from our findings are provided, including maintaining face-to-face care for vulnerable children. (shrink)
A variety of ethical objections have been raised against the military employment of uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones). Some of these objections are technological concerns over UAVs abilities’ to function on par with their inhabited counterparts. This paper sets such concerns aside and instead focuses on supposed objections to the use of UAVs in principle. I examine several such objections currently on offer and show them all to be wanting. Indeed, I argue that we have a duty to protect an (...) agent engaged in a justified act from harm to the greatest extent possible, so long as that protection does not interfere with the agent's ability to act justly. UAVs afford precisely such protection. Therefore, we are obligated to employ UAV weapon systems if it can be shown that their use does not significantly reduce a warfighter's operational capability. Of course, if a given military action is unjustified to begin with, then carrying out that act via UAVs is wrong, just as it would be with any weapon. But the point of this paper is to show that there is nothing wrong in principle with using a UAV and that, other things being equal, using such technology is, in fact, obligatory. (shrink)
Many who take a dismissive attitude towards metaphysics trace their view back to Carnap’s ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’. But the reason Carnap takes a dismissive attitude to metaphysics is a matter of controversy. I will argue that no reason is given in ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, and this is because his reason for rejecting metaphysical debates was given in ‘Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy’. The argument there assumes verificationism, but I will argue that his argument survives the rejection of verificationism. The root (...) of his argument is the claim that metaphysical statements cannot be justified; the point is epistemic, not semantic. I will argue that this remains a powerful challenge to metaphysics that has yet to be adequately answered. (shrink)
The Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB) states that any rational person desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes or expects the proposition to be good. Many people take David Lewis to have shown the thesis to be inconsistent with Bayesian decision theory. However, as we show, Lewis's argument was based on an Invariance condition that itself is inconsistent with the (standard formulation of the) version of Bayesian decision theory that he assumed in his arguments against DAB. The aim of (...) this paper is to explore what impact the rejection of Invariance has on the DAB thesis. Without assuming Invariance, we first refute all versions of DAB that entail that there are only two levels of goodness. We next consider two theses according to which rational desires are intimately connected to expectations of (multi-levelled) goodness, and show that these are consistent with Bayesian decision theory as long as we assume that the contents of 'value propositions' are not fixed. We explain why this conclusion is independently plausible, and show how to construct such propositions. (shrink)
I argue that the wave function ontology for quantum mechanics is an undesirable ontology. This ontology holds that the fundamental space in which entities evolve is not three-dimensional, but instead 3N-dimensional, where N is the number of particles standardly thought to exist in three-dimensional space. I show that the state of three-dimensional objects does not supervene on the state of objects in 3N-dimensional space. I also show that the only way to guarantee the existence of the appropriate mental states in (...) the wave function ontology has undesirable metaphysical baggage: either mind/body dualism is true, or circumstances which we take to be logically possible turn out to be logically impossible. (shrink)
This paper provides new foundations for Bayesian Decision Theory based on a representation theorem for preferences defined on a set of prospects containing both factual and conditional possibilities. This use of a rich set of prospects not only provides a framework within which the main theoretical claims of Savage, Ramsey, Jeffrey and others can be stated and compared, but also allows for the postulation of an extended Bayesian model of rational belief and desire from which they can be derived as (...) special cases. The main theorem of the paper establishes the existence of a such a Bayesian representation of preferences over conditional prospects, i.e. the existence of a pair of real-valued functions respectively measuring the agent’s degrees of belief and desire and which satisfy the postulated rationality conditions on partial belief and desire. The representation of partial belief is shown to be unique and that of partial desire, unique up to a linear transformation. (shrink)