I argue that Rachlin's notion of self-control is imprecise and not well suited to the discussion of altruism. Rachlin's broader agenda, to improve collective welfare by identifying behavioral mechanisms that increase altruism, neglects the fact that altruism is neither necessary nor sufficient for desirable social outcomes.
Many would consider the lengthening debate between moral realists and anti-realists to be draw-ish. Plainly new approaches are needed. Or might the issue, which most broadly concerns realism in relation to normative judgments, be broken down into parts or sectors? Physicists have been saying, in relation to a similarly longstanding debate, that light in some respects behaves like waves and in some respects like particles. Might realism be more plausible in relation to some kinds of normative judgments than others?
The paper begins with a well-known objection to the idea that reasons for action are provided by desires. The objection holds that since desires are based on reasons (first premise), which they transmit but to which they cannot add (second premise), they cannot themselves provide reasons for action. In the paper I investigate an attack that has recently been launched against the first premise of the argument by David Sobel. Sobel invokes a counterexample: hedonic desires, i.e. the likings (...) and dislikings of our present conscious states. The aim of the paper is to defend the premise by bringing the alleged counterexample under its scope. I first point out that reference to hedonic desires as a counterexample presupposes a particular understanding of pleasure, which we might call desire-based. In response, following Sobel, I draw up two alternative accounts, the phenomenological and the tracking views of pleasure. Although Sobel raises several objections to both accounts, I argue in detail that the phenomenological view is not as implausible as he claims it to be, whereas the tracking view, on its best version advocated by Thomas Scanlon, is an instance of the phenomenological view and is therefore also defensible. (shrink)
Principles can seem as entrenched in moral experience as Kant thinks space, time, and the categories are in human experience of the world. However not all cultures have such a view. Classical Indian and Chinese philosophies treat modification of the self as central to ethics. Decisions in particular cases and underlying principles are much less discussed. Ethics needs comparative philosophy in order not to be narrow in its concerns. A broader view can give weight to how people sometimes can change (...) who they are, in order to lead better lives. (shrink)
The interconnections, common interests, and other linkages between the Jewish and Islamic traditions have long been a matter of interest to academics. Today the need to understand these relationships, and to emphasize commonalities rather than conflicts, is of the greatest public interest. The present volume of studies, likely the first such collection in the scholarly literature, explores the full range of interconnections between Jews and Muslims in all fields (intellectual history, religion, philosophy, social history, etc.) and in all periods, from (...) the Middle Ages till today. The essays have been written by some twenty distinguished scholars from North America, Europe, and Israel. The volume is dedicated to our esteemed colleague Joel L. Kraemer, John Barrows Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School and on the Committee on Social Thought of the University of Chicago. In the course of his distinguished career Professor Kraemer has made major contributions to our understanding of the intellectual and cultural history of the Jews in the Arabic world, Islamic and Jewish philosophy and their sources in ancient philosophy, the humanistic renaissance in Islam (on which he published two seminal monographs), and Maimonides (on which he has published many important papers and is completing a biography and a translation of Maimonides' letters, to appear in the Yale Judaica Series). (shrink)
The proposal I offer attempts to remedy the inadequacies of exclusive focus on well-being for moral purposes. The proposal is this: We should allow the agent to decide for herself where she wants to throw the weight that is her due in moral reflection, with the proviso that she understands the way that her weight will be aggregated with others in reaching a moral outcome. I will call this the "autonomy principle." The autonomy principle, I claim, provides the consequentialist's best (...) prospect for taking people into account morally in a way that they endorse. (shrink)
This is the third volume of Joel Feinberg's highly regarded The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, a four-volume series in which Feinberg skillfully addresses a complex question: What kinds of conduct may the state make criminal without infringing on the moral autonomy of individual citizens? In Harm to Self, Feinberg offers insightful commentary into various notions attached to self-inflicted harm, covering such topics as legal paternalism, personal sovereignty and its boundaries, voluntariness and assumptions of risk, consent and its (...) counterfeits, coercive force, incapacity, and choice of death. (shrink)
This paper is about David Gauthier’s concept of constrained maximization. Attending to his most detailed and careful account, I try to say how constrained maximization works, and how it might be changed to work better. In section I, that detailed account is quoted along with amplifying passages. Difficulties of interpretation are explained in section II. An articulation, a spelling out, of Gauthier's account is offered in section III to deal with these difficulties. Next, in section IV, constrained maximization thus articulated (...) is tested on several choice problems and shown to be seriously wanting. It appears that there are prisoners’ dilemmas in which constrained maximizers would not cooperate to mutual advantage, but would interact sub-optimally just as straight-maximizers would. ‘Coordination problems’ are described with which constrained maximizers might, especially if transparent to one another, not be able to cope–problems in which they might not be able to make up their minds to do anything at all. And I prove that there are prisoners’ dilemmas that, though possible for real agents and for straight maximizers, are not possible for constrained maximizers, so that agents’ internalising dispositions of constrained maximization could not be of help in connection with such possibly impending dilemmas. Taking constrained maximization as it stands, there are many problems for which it does not afford the ‘moral solutions’ with which Gauthier would have it replace Hobbesian political ones. After displaying these shortcomings of constrained maximization as presently designed, I sketch, in section V, possible revisions that would reduce them, stressing that these revisions would not be cost-free. Whether finishing the job of fixing up and making precise constrained maximization would be worth the considerable trouble it would involve lies beyond the issues taken up in this paper. So, of course, do substantive comparisons of constrained maximization, perfected and made precise, and straight maximization. (shrink)
Joel Feinberg was a brilliant philosopher whose work in social and moral philosophy is a legacy of excellent, even stunning achievement. Perhaps his most memorable achievement is his four-volume treatise on The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, and perhaps the most striking jewel in this crowning achievement is his passionate and deeply insightful treatment of paternalism.1 Feinberg opposes Legal Paternalism, the doctrine that “it is always a good reason in support of a [criminal law] prohibition that it is (...) necessary to prevent harm (physical, psychological, or economic) to the actor himself.” Against this doctrine Feinberg asserts that when an agent’s sufficiently voluntary choice causes harm to herself or risk of harm to herself, this category of harm-to-self is never a good reason in support of criminal law prohibition of that type of conduct. (shrink)
Folklore has it that Sobel sequences favor a variably strict analysis of conditionals over its plainly strict alternative. While recent discussions for or against the lore have focussed on Sobel sequences involving counterfactuals, this paper draws attention to the fact that indicative Sobel sequences are just as felicitous as are their counterfactual cousins. The fact, or so I shall argue here, disrupts the folklore: given minimal assumptions about the semantics and pragmatics of indicative conditionals, a textbook variably (...) strict analysis fails to predict that indicative Sobel sequences are felicitous. The correct lesson to draw from Sobel sequences is that their felicity challenges classical implementations of the variably strict and of the plainly strict analysis alike. In response to this challenge I develop a dynamic strict analysis of conditionals that handles indicative Sobel sequences with grace while preserving intuitive constraints on the semantics and pragmatics of their members. A discussion of how such an analysis may handle the challenge from reverse Sobel sequences is provided. (shrink)
This entry addresses the nature and epistemological role of intuition by considering the following questions: (1) What are intuitions?, (2) What roles do they serve in philosophical (and other “armchair”) inquiry?, (3) Ought they serve such roles?, (4) What are the implications of the empirical investigation of intuitions for their proper roles?, and (5) What is the content of intuitions prompted by the consideration of hypothetical cases?
In his ’Logic and Theism’ Sobel claims that the allocation of prior probabilities to theories is a purely subjective matter. I claim that there are objective criteria for determining prior probabilities of theories (dependent on their simplicity and scope); and if there were not, science would be a totally irrational activity. I reject Sobel’s main criticism of my own cumulative argument for the existence of God that I argue illegitimately from each datum raising the probability of theism to (...) the conjunction of all data raising that probability, since I explicitly adopted a procedure which does not commit that fallacy. (shrink)
This book is concerned with the role of intuitions in the justification of philosophical theory. The author begins by demonstrating how contemporary philosophers, whether engaged in case-driven analysis or seeking reflective equilibrium, rely on intuitions as evidence for their theories. The author then provides an account of the nature of philosophical intuitions and distinguishes them from other psychological states. Finally, the author defends the use of intuitions as evidence by demonstrating that arguments for skepticism about their evidential value are either (...) self-defeating or guilty of arbitrary and unjustified partiality towards non-intuitive modes of knowledge. (shrink)
Sobel sequences have had a huge impact on the discussion of counterfactuals. They can be composed of conditionals and mere descriptions. What is especially puzzling about them is that they are often felicitously uttered when their reversal is not. Up to now, there is no unified explanation. I examine two strategies. We might begin with conditionals and proceed to descriptions. Or we might begin with descriptions and proceed to conditionals. I argue for the latter variant and outline a universal (...) theory of Sobel sequences in terms of presuppositional anaphora. One relevant result is that the phenomenon neither counts against nor in favour of the simplified standard account of counterfactuals à la Stalnaker-Lewis. (shrink)
Shelly Kagan and Leonard Katz have offered versions of hedonism that aspire to occupy a middle position between the view that pleasure is a unitary sensation and the view that pleasure is, as Sidgwick put it, desirable consciousness. Thus they hope to offer a hedonistic account of well-being that does not mistakenly suppose that pleasure is a special kind of tingle, yet to offer a sharp alternative to desire-based accounts. I argue that they have not identified a coherent middle position.
This paper contributes to explaining the rise of logical empiricism in mid-twentieth century (North) America and to a better understanding of American philosophy of science before the dominance of logical empiricism. We show that, contrary to a number of existing histories, philosophy of science was already a distinct subfield of philosophy, one with its own approaches and issues, even before logical empiricists arrived in America. It was a form of speculative philosophy with a concern for speculative metaphysics, normative issues relating (...) to science and society and issues which later were associated with logical empiricist philosophy of science, issues such as confirmation, scientific explanation, reductionism and laws of nature. Further, philosophy of science was not primarily pragmatist in orientation. We also show, with the help of our historical characterization, that a recent account of the emergence of analytic philosophy applies to the rise of logical empiricism. It has been argued that the emergence of American analytic philosophy is partly explained by analytic philosophers’ use of key institutions, including of journals, to marginalize speculative philosophy and promote analytic philosophy. We argue that this use of institutions included the marginalization of speculative and value-laden philosophy of science and the promotion of logical empiricism. (shrink)
I defend a perceptual account of face-to-face mindreading. I begin by proposing a phenomenological constraint on our visual awareness of others' emotional expressions. I argue that to meet this constraint we require a distinction between the basic and non-basic ways people, and other things, look. I offer and defend just such an account.
A challenge for theories of incomplete descriptions is to capture the consistency of ‘Sobel sequences’ and to account for an asymmetry in the acceptability of utterances of Sobel sequences and ‘reverse Sobel sequences’. David Lewis’s theory of incomplete descriptions answers, unlike many other theories, the challenge from Sobel sequences, but it does not answer the challenge from reverse Sobel sequences. This article presents another asymmetry in the availability of anaphoric readings of Sobel sequences and (...) reverse Sobel sequences, and proposes an explanation of the original asymmetry on its grounds. This provides an answer to the challenge for Lewis’s theory. (shrink)
When causal decision theory was created in the 1970s, access to Howard Sobel’s contribution was available only in a narrowly circulated mimeographed manuscript. After some time, he allowed his ideas to appear in the form of articles. Here we finally have a book length exposition on Sobel’s causal Bayesian point of view consisting of collected, revised, and amplified papers spanning a period of twenty years.
This book traces how such a seemingly immutable idea as measurement proved so malleable when it collided with the subject matter of psychology. It locates philosophical and social influences reshaping the concept and, at the core of this reshaping, identifies a fundamental problem: the issue of whether psychological attributes really are quantitative. It argues that the idea of measurement now endorsed within psychology actually subverts attempts to establish a genuinely quantitative science and it urges a new direction. It relates views (...) on measurement by thinkers such as Holder, Russell, Campbell and Nagel to earlier views, like those of Euclid and Oresme. Within the history of psychology, it considers contributions by Fechner, Cattell, Thorndike, Stevens and Suppes, among others. It also contains a non-technical exposition of conjoint measurement theory and recent foundational work by leading measurement theorist R. Duncan Luce. (shrink)
David Sobel defends subjectivism about well-being and reasons for action: the idea that normativity flows from what an agent cares about, that something is valuable because it is valued. In these essays Sobel explores the tensions between subjective views of reasons and morality, and concludes that they do not undermine subjectivism.
One of liberalism’s core commitments is to safeguarding individuals’ autonomy. And a central aspect of liberal social justice is the commitment to protecting the vulnerable. Taken together, and combined with an understanding of autonomy as an acquired set of capacities to lead one’s own life, these commitments suggest that liberal societies should be especially concerned to address vulnerabilities of individuals regarding the development and maintenance of their autonomy. In this chapter, we develop an account of what it would mean for (...) a society to take seriously the obligation to reduce individuals’ autonomy-related vulnerabilities to an acceptable minimum. In particular, we argue that standard liberal accounts underestimate the scope of this obligation because they fail to appreciate various threats to autonomy. (shrink)
The two contrasting theoretical approaches to visual perception, the constructivist and the ecological, are briefly presented and illustrated through their analyses of space and size perception. Earlier calls for their reconciliation and unification are reviewed. Neurophysiological, neuropsychological, and psychophysical evidence for the existence of two quite distinct visual systems, the ventral and the dorsal, is presented. These two perceptual systems differ in their functions; the ventral system's central function is that of identification, while the dorsal system is mainly engaged in (...) the visual control of motor behavior. The strong parallels between the ecological approach and the functioning of the dorsal system, and between the constructivist approach and the functioning of the ventral system are noted. It is also shown that the experimental paradigms used by the proponents of these two approaches match the functions of the respective visual systems. A dual-process approach to visual perception emerges from this analysis, with the ecological-dorsal process transpiring mainly without conscious awareness, while the constructivist-ventral process is normally conscious. Some implications of this dual-process approach to visual-perceptual phenomena are presented, with emphasis on space perception. Key Words: constructivist; dual-process approach; ecological; size perception; space perception; two visual systems; visual perception theories. (shrink)
Dutch Book Arguments (DBAs) have been invoked to support various requirements of rationality. Some are plausible: probabilism and conditionalization. Others are less so: credal transparency and reflection. Anna Mahtani has argued for a new understanding of DBAs which, she claims, allow us to keep the DBAs for probabilism (and perhaps conditionalization) and reject the DBAs for credal transparency and reflection. I argue that Mahtani’s new account fails as (a) it does not support highly plausible requirements of rational coherence and (b) (...) it does not, even setting aside the first objection, succeed in undermining the DBAs for credal transparency or reflection. (shrink)
The multiverse view in set theory, introduced and argued for in this article, is the view that there are many distinct concepts of set, each instantiated in a corresponding set-theoretic universe. The universe view, in contrast, asserts that there is an absolute background set concept, with a corresponding absolute set-theoretic universe in which every set-theoretic question has a definite answer. The multiverse position, I argue, explains our experience with the enormous range of set-theoretic possibilities, a phenomenon that challenges the universe (...) view. In particular, I argue that the continuum hypothesis is settled on the multiverse view by our extensive knowledge about how it behaves in the multiverse, and as a result it can no longer be settled in the manner formerly hoped for. (shrink)
We provide self-contained proof of a theorem relating probabilistic coherence of forecasts to their non-domination by rival forecasts with respect to any proper scoring rule. The theorem recapitulates insights achieved by other investigators, and clarifi es the connection of coherence and proper scoring rules to Bregman divergence.
This paper articulates and defends a novel hybrid account of well-being. We will call our view a Robust Hybrid. We call it robust because it grants a broad and not subservient role to both objective and subjective values. In this paper we assume, we think plausibly but without argument, that there is a significant objective component to well-being. Here we clarify what it takes for an account of well-being to have a subjective component. Roughly, we argue, it must allow that (...) favoring attitudes that are not warranted by the lights of objective values can ground benefits. Given this understanding, we show that there is an important and unrecognized expansion in the resources available to fully objectivist views: namely that such views can help themselves to the value of warranted love of objective goods. Such a move by the objectivist can help them respond to concerns that, on their view, a person’s well-being can be too alien to them. We next argue that, nonetheless, such objectivist views are still unconvincing due to their lack of a subjective component. This motivates a move from fully objective accounts to hybrid accounts. We show that many prominent hybrid theories in the literature are inadequate because they implausibly minimize the subjective component. This motivates a move to a robust hybrid view that has an expanded subjectivist component. We conclude with some remarks about the interrelation between the subjective and objective components in the hybrid account that we favor and a role for resonance in a theory of well-being other than serving as a hard constraint on any benefit. (shrink)
The second volume in Joel Feinberg's series The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, Offense to Others focuses on the "offense principle," which maintains that preventing shock, disgust, or revulsion is always a morally relevant reason for legal prohibitions. Feinberg clarifies the concept of an "offended mental state" and further contrasts the concept of offense with harm. He also considers the law of nuisance as a model for statutes creating "morals offenses," showing its inadequacy as a model for understanding (...) "profound offenses," and discusses such issues as obscene words and social policy, pornography and the Constitution, and the differences between minor and profound offenses. (shrink)
In his Truth and Probability (1926), Frank Ramsey provides foundations for measures of degrees of belief in propositions and preferences for worlds. Nonquantitative conditions on preferences for worlds, and gambles for worlds and certain near-worlds, are formulated which he says insure that a subject's preferences for worlds are represented by numbers, world values. Numbers, for his degrees of belief in propositions, probabilities, are then defined in terms of his world values. Ramsey does not also propose definitions of desirabilities for propositions, (...) though he is in a position to do this. Given his measures for probabilities of propositions and values of worlds, he can frame natural definitions for both evidential and causal desirabilities that would measure respectively the welcomeness of propositions as items of news, and as facts. His theory is neutral with respect to the evidential/causal division. In the present paper, as Ramsey's foundations are explained, several problems and limitations are noted. Their distinctive virtue â their evidential/causal neutrality â is demonstrated. Comparisons are made with other foundational schemes, and a perspective is recommended from which nonquantitative foundations are not the be all for quantitative theories of ideal preferences and credences. (shrink)
This essay focuses on three recent books on morality and virtue, Michael Slote's 'Morals from Motives', Rosalind Hursthouse's 'On Virtue Ethics', and Philippa Foot's 'Natural Goodness'. Slote proposes an "agent-based" ethical theory according to which the ethical status of acts is derivative from assessments of virtue. Following Foot's lead, Hursthouse aims to vindicate an ethical naturalism that explains human goodness on the basis of views about human nature. Both Hursthouse and Slote take virtue to be morally basic in a way (...) that Foot, to her credit, does not. We argue that all three views face a range of serious difficulties. (shrink)
Is there anything peculiarly "photographic" about photography—something which sets it apart from all other ways of making pictures? If there is, how important is it to our understanding of photographs? Are photographs so unlike other sorts of pictures as to require unique methods of interpretation and standards of evaluation? These questions may sound artificial, made up especially for the purpose of theorizing. But they have in fact been asked and answered not only by critics and photographers but by laymen. Furthermore, (...) for most of this century the majority of critics and laymen alike have tended to answer these questions in the same way: that photographs and paintings differ in an important way and require different methods in interpretation precisely because photographs and paintings come into being in different ways. These answers are interesting because, even within the rather restricted classes of critics, photographers, and theorists, they are held in common by a wide variety of people who otherwise disagree strongly with each other—by people who think that photographs are inferior to paintings and people who believe they are superior; by people who think that photographs ought to be "objective" and those who believe they should be "subjective"; by those who believe that it is impossible for photographers to "create" anything and by those who believe that they should at least try. Joel Snyder teaches criticism and history of photography at the University of Chicago and is presently compiling a book of his own photographs. His contributions to Critical Inquiry include "Picturing Vision" and "Reflexions on Las Meninas: Paradox Lost", written with Ted Cohen in the Winter 1980 issue. Neil Walsh Allen produces educational audio-visual materials and has designed eight permanent exhibits on the history and applications of photography for the Smithsonian Institution. (shrink)
-/- Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives. They are, that is, self-conscious (or, equivalently, self-aware). Self-consciousness can be understood as an awareness of oneself. But a self-conscious subject is not just aware of something that merely happens to be themselves, as one is if one sees an old photograph without realising that it is of oneself. Rather a self-conscious subject is aware of themselves (...) as themselves; it is manifest to them that they themselves are the object of awareness. Self-consciousness is a form of consciousness that is paradigmatically expressed in English by the words “I”, “me”, and “my”, terms that each of us uses to refer to ourselves as such. -/- A central topic throughout the history of philosophy—and increasingly so since the seventeenth century—the phenomena surrounding self-consciousness prompt a variety of fundamental philosophical and scientific questions, including its relation to consciousness; its semantic and epistemic features; its realisation in both conceptual and non-conceptual representation; and its connection to our conception of an objective world populated with others like ourselves. (shrink)
In this paper I provide a unified analysis of a number of pragmatic anomalies that have been discussed in the literature. The paper’s main goal is to account for Sobel sequences of conditionals and sequences of disjunctive sentences, but I will also propose that this analysis can be extended to sequences of sentences with superlatives. The starting point is the observation that, while all these sequences are felicitous in one order, they are infelicitous when the order is reversed. Previous (...) proposals have focussed on particular types of infelicitous sequences Ken Hale: A life in language, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2001; Moss in Noûs 46:516–586, 2012; Lewis in Noûs 52:481–507, 2018; a.o.), or a subset of all the phenomena cited above Linguistic and psycholinguistic approaches on implicatures and presuppositions. Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke, 2017; a.o.). I propose that sequences of sentences belonging to the same structured set of alternatives T are subject to a Specificity Constraint : sequences are acceptable if both alternatives are dominated by the same number of nodes in the structured set of alternatives T. Violations of SC can be avoided by strengthening the weaker alternative. However, covert strengthening violates an economy condition if the overtly stronger alternative is among those made salient by the preceding utterance in the sequence. I propose that the set of alternatives made salient by an utterance of a sentence s consists of s’s sisters and mother in T. I will show that the strengthening mechanism varies depending on the kind of sequence we have. (shrink)