Michael Ridge presents an original expressivist theory of normative judgments--Ecumenical Expressivism--which offers distinctive treatments of key problems in metaethics, semantics, and practical reasoning. He argues that normative judgments are hybrid states partly constituted by ordinary beliefs and partly constituted by desire-like states.
Moral philosophy has long been dominated by the aim of understanding morality and the virtues in terms of principles. However, the underlying assumption that this is the best approach has received almost no defence, and has been attacked by particularists, who argue that the traditional link between morality and principles is little more than an unwarranted prejudice. In Principled Ethics, Michael Ridge and Sean McKeever meet the particularist challenge head-on, and defend a distinctive view they call "generalism as a regulative (...) ideal.". (shrink)
Disagreement holds the key: the possibility of agreeing or disagreeing with a state of mind makes that state of mind act logically like accepting a claim. Charles Stevenson was quite right to begin his presentation of emotivism with disagreement.—Allan Gibbard.
What we might usefully call “playing full-stop” and playing games plausibly figure in a well-lived life. Yet there are reasons to worry that the two not only do not naturally go hand in hand, but are in fact deeply opposed. In this essay I investigate the apparent tension between playing full-stop and playing competitive games. I argue that the nature of this tension is easily exaggerated. While there is a psychological tension between simultaneously engaging in earnest competitive game play and (...) playing fullstop, there is no logical contradiction between the two. Somewhat surprisingly, seeing how this tension is best understood teaches us something about the nature of willing an end and the “guise of the good.” With a resolution of the apparent tension between playing full-stop and playing competitive games, I turn to the practical worry that playing competitive games is destructive precisely for the very reasons it is opposed to playing full-stop. Here I develop a positive proposal to mitigate the tension between playing full-stop and playing competitive games. This proposal draws on the idea of “striving play” as recently developed by Thi Nguyen and some ideas from classical Stoicism. (shrink)
There may be as much philosophical controversy about how to distinguish naturalism from non-naturalism as there is about which view is correct. In spite of this widespread disagreement about the content of naturalism and non-naturalism there is considerable agreement about the status of certain historically influential philosophical accounts as non-naturalist. In particular, there is widespread agreement that G.E. Moore's account of goodness in.
Quasi-realists aspire to accommodate core features of ordinary normative thought and discourse in an expressivist framework. One apparent such feature is that we can be more or less confident in our normative judgments—they vary in credence. Michael Smith has argued that quasi-realists cannot plausibly accommodate these distinctions simply because they understand normative judgments as desires, but desires lack the structure needed to distinguish these three features. Existing attempts to meet Smith’s challenge have accepted Smith’s presupposition that the way to meet (...) the challenge is to show that normative judgments have more structure than they initially seem to have. I argue that accepting this presupposition is accepting too much. The orthodox view of certitude, insofar as there is one, understands certitude very roughly in terms of counterfactual betting behaviour. Counterfactual betting behaviour, though, is not in any useful sense a structural feature of a given judgment. It is rather a more holistic feature of a given agent’s cognitive system. Insofar as it can meet the other challenges it faces, quasi-realism can characterize credences in terms of counterfactual betting behaviour and effectively say exactly what many realists will want to say about credences, thus meeting Smith’s challenge much more directly. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that anti-reductionist moral realism still has trouble explaining supervenience. My main target here will be Russ Shafer-Landau's attempt to explain the supervenience of the moral on the natural in terms of the constitution of moral property instantiations by natural property instantiations. First, though, I discuss a recent challenge to the very idea of using supervenience as a dialectical weapon posed by Nicholas Sturgeon. With a suitably formulated supervenience thesis in hand, I try to show how (...) Shafer-Landau's proffered strategy to explain supervenience not only fails to explain supervenience, but that it also has a number of implausible consequences. The more general lesson is that strategies which may work well for explaining supervenience in the philosophy of mind and other areas cannot be assumed to carry over successfully to the metaethical context. We should therefore treat so-called `companions in guilt' arguments in this area of philosophy with considerable skepticism. Key Words: expressivism moral realism non-naturalism reductionism supervenience trope. (shrink)
Philosophers are by now familiar with “the” paradox of supererogation. This paradox arises out of the idea that it can never be permissible to do something morally inferior to another available option, yet acts of supererogation seem to presuppose this. This paradox is not our topic in this paper. We mention it only to set it to one side and explain our subtitle. In this paper we introduce and explore another paradox of supererogation, one which also deserves serious philosophical attention. (...) People who perform paradigmatic acts of supererogation very often claim and believe that their acts were obligatory. Plausibly, this is simply a mistake insofar as the actions really are “above and beyond the call of duty,” as common sense would have it. The fact that moral heroes tend to view their actions in this apparently mistaken way is puzzling in itself, and we might learn something interesting about the moral psychology of such individuals if we could explain this tendency. However, this puzzling aspect of the moral psychology of moral heroes is also the chief ingredient in a deeper puzzle, one perhaps more worthy of the title “paradox.” In this paper we present and try to resolve this paradox. The paradox arises when we combine our initial observation about the moral psychology of moral heroes with three plausible claims about how these cases compare with one in which the agent realizes her act is “above and beyond.” The first of these three additional claims is that the agent who mistakenly claims that the act is obligatory is no less virtuous than someone who performs such an act whilst correctly judging it to be obligatory. The second is that the agent who makes such a mistake would display more moral wisdom if she judged the act to be supererogatory. The third is that there is no other relevant difference between the two agents. These three claims, together with a plausible principle about the way in which the virtues work, give rise to a paradox. We consider several ways in which this paradox might be resolved. We argue that the most plausible resolution is to reject the claim that there is no other relevant difference between the two agents. More specifically, we argue that a relevant difference is that the agent who makes this mistake does so because of the depth of their commitment to certain moral values, and that this is itself an important moral virtue: moral depth. (shrink)
Games, which philosophers commonly invoke as models for diverse phenomena, are plausibly understood in terms of rules and goals, but this gives rise to two puzzles. The first concerns the identity of a single game over time. Intuitively one and the same game can undergo a change in rules, as when the rules of chess were modified so that a pawn could be moved two squares forward on its first move. Yet if games are individuated in terms of their constitutive (...) rules and goals, this is incoherent—new rules mean a new game. The second concerns the individuation of games at a point in time. Intuitively, there can be different versions of a single game, where the versions differ in the details of their rules. I offer a solution to this problem that draws on an analogy with individuating languages. The resulting theory should illuminate the metaphysics of games more generally. (shrink)
Philosophy has a schizophrenic relationship with games. On the one hand, philosophers love using games as model, arguing that phenomena as diverse as linguistic meaning, meta‐ethics, normative ethics, applied ethics, law, and aesthetics can be illuminated via an analogy with games. On the other hand, there is scant focused discussion of the concept of a game as such. This is problematic; the appeal to games as a model to clarify philosophically puzzling questions has limited utility if games themselves (and the (...) concept of a game) are poorly understood. Moreover, playing games plausibly is an important element in a good life; anyone interested in the theory of welfare, a traditional philosophical topic, should be interested in games. We play games, but if anything, play itself has been more neglected by philosophers than games. This neglect is unwarranted. Historically, philosophy has investigated foundational questions about human nature, and a disposition to play plausibly is a deep part of human nature. Moreover, play is an important concept in evolutionary biology and psychology, yet those working in those fields struggle to define the concept to their own satisfaction. E.O. Wilson went so far as to remark that “no behavioural concept has proved more ill‐defined, elusive, controversial, and even unfashionable than play.” One might have hoped philosophers could help here. In this paper, I provide an opinionated introduction to the philosophy of play and games. (shrink)
What is it for a speech-act to be sincere? A very tempting answer, defended by John Searle and others, is that a speech-act is sincere just in case the speaker has the state of mind it expresses. I argue that we should instead hold that a speech-act is sincere just in case the speaker believes that she has the state of mind she believes it expresses (Sections 1 and 2). Scenarios in which speakers are deluded about their own states of (...) mind play an important role in arguing for this account. In the course of developing this account I also explore how it might make good use of the often neglected distinction between insincerity and mere non-sincerity (Section 2). After defending and developing my positive proposal, I explore its implications for debates over expressivism in meta-ethics (Sections 3 and 4). (shrink)
It is widely agreed that play and games contribute to the good life. One might naturally wonder how games in particular so contribute? Granted, games can be very good, what exactly is so good about them when they are good? Although a natural starting point, this question is perhaps naive. Games come in all shapes and sizes, and different games are often good in very different ways. Chess, Bridge, Bingo, Chutes and Ladders, Football, Spin the Bottle, Dungeons & Dragons, Pac-Man, (...) Minecraft and Charades are all games, and can all contribute to a good life, but each will characteristically enrich someone’s life in its own distinctive way. Some games facilitate socializing and sociability, other games improve physical fitness, some develop a sense of fair play and reciprocity, while others enhance concentration and analytic skills. Asking ‘what is good about games?’ and assuming a simple answer is as naïve as asking ‘what is good about fiction?’ or ‘what is good about sex?’ However, a less naïve question and philosophically interesting question is not hard to formulate. Plausibly, much of the heterogeneity of the value of games stems from the different kinds of instrumental value of different games. Perhaps we should therefore ask in what ways the activity of playing games is characteristically good for its own sake. Unfortunately, the philosophical literature on the non-instrumental value of playing games is sparse. One of the few sustained treatments of the topic can be found in an underappreciated exchange between Thomas Hurka and John Tasioulas. Interestingly, despite taking different views of what it is to play a game, they both make room for the non-instrumental value of play and achievement in game play and they both argue that these two goods stand in important an important explanatory relation. However, they take diametrically opposed views as to which of these good is more basic. Roughly, on Hurka’s view, the good of achievement is more basic, and it is because of the non-instrumental value of achievement that what Hurka calls “playing in a game,” which involves playing, is itself non-instrumentally good because of the non-instrumental value of achievement. The idea is that if something is non-instrumentally good then loving that thing is also non-instrumentally good, and that playing in a game involves loving the activity for its own sake. In this way, the value of achievement in a game grounds the value of playing in a game. Tasioulas takes exactly the opposite approach. He argues that there must be something independently good about playing a game which grounds the value of achievement in that game. On his view, the typical grounding good or “framing value” of games is play itself – what I am here calling “playing.” In this essay, I raise some objections to both Hurka’s view and Tasioulas’s view and develop a positive alternative conception of the non-instrumental value of games. I argue that while each view is insightful in its own way, neither gets things exactly right. For a start, the way in which they characterize the key concepts is problematic. Hurka’s definition of ‘play a game’, which he lifts from Suits, is problematic, while both of their characterizations of play are problematic for reasons I rehearse here. They also take an unduly narrow view of the possible role of achievement in game play, both effectively conflating achievement with “excellence.” I argue, by contrast, that there is an important sense in which even someone who is not very good at the game by any objective standard can still reap the goods of achievements in games. At the same time, those who play games typically do not do so for the sake of achievements as such, though they may do something which is in a sense tantamount to this, or so I shall argue. Finally, I argue that neither Hurka’s “achievement first” order of explanation nor Tasioulas’s “play first” order of explanation is fully correct. I argue for what I call a “variable priority” view. On this view, the value of play sometimes grounds the value of achievement in a game, while in other cases the independently grounded value of achievement in a game provides a further ground for the value of play, though even in that case play is independently good for its own sake. I begin by laying out Hurka’s and Tasioulas’s views. (shrink)
In this essay we argue that there is a contradiction lurking at the heart of Bernard Suits's seminal book on the philosophy of games, The Grasshopper, which has oddly gone unnoticed for 43 years. Suits argues that games need inefficiency and defines inefficiency such that it wouldn't exist in Utopia. This trivially entails that there could be no games in Utopia, yet the whole normative point of The Grasshopper is that games would be the only worthwhileactivity in Utopia. We then (...) diagnose Suits's error and suggest some ways forward. (shrink)
The agent-relative/agent-neutral distintion is widely and rightly regarded as a philosophically important one. Unfortunately, the distinction is often drawn in different and mutually incompatible ways. The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction has historically been drawn three main ways: the ‘principle-based distinction’, the ‘reason-statement-based distinction’ and the ‘perspective-based distinction’. Each of these approaches has its own distinctive vices (Sections 1-3). However, a slightly modified version of the historically influential principle-based approach seems to avoid most if not all of these vices (Section 4). The distinction (...) so understood differs from numerous other distinctions with which it might easily be confused (Section 5). Finally, the distinction so drawn is important to normative theorizing for a variety of reasons (Section 6). (shrink)
Moral particularists are united in their opposition to the codification of morality, and their work poses an important challenge to traditional ways of thinking about moral philosophy. Defenders of moral particularism have, with near unanimity, sought support from a doctrine they call “holism in the theory of reasons.” We argue that this is all a mistake. There are two ways in which holism in the theory of reasons can be understood, but neither provides any support for moral particularism. Moral particularists (...) are united in their opposition to the codification of morality in purely descriptive terms, but their opposition takes different forms. Sometimes particularists maintain that codifying the moral landscape is impossible. In other contexts particularists argue that moral principles are in any event unnecessary. In yet other contexts particularists contend that the codification of morality is undesirable, perhaps because it would encourage people to look less carefully at the case at hand.1 These are distinct theses, although particularists often endorse all three. As Jonathan Dancy, citing John McDowell puts it, “Particularism is at its crudest the claim that we neither need nor can see the search for an ‘evaluative outlook which one can endorse as rational as the search for a set of principles.’”2 On any interpretation, particularism poses an important challenge for traditional conceptions of moral philosophy.. (shrink)
The basic idea of rule-utilitarianism is that right action should be defined in terms of what would be required by rules which would maximize either actual or expected utility if those rules gained general acceptance, or perhaps general compliance. Rule-utilitarians face a dilemma. They must characterize 'general acceptance' either as 100% acceptance, or as something less. On the first horn of the dilemma, rule-utilitarianism in vulnerable to the charge of utopianism; on the second, it is open to the charge of (...) arbitrariness and lack of philosophical depth. I press this objection, and develop and defend an alternative version of rule-utilitarianism which can evade the dilemma. I call this new version 'variable-rate rule-utilitarianism'. (shrink)
Quasi-realism aspires to preserve the intelligibility of the realist-sounding moral judgments of ordinary people. These judgments include ones of the form, “I believe that p, but I might be mistaken,” where “p” is some moral content. The orthodox quasi-realist strategy is to understand these in terms of the agent’s worrying that some improving change would lead one to aban-don the relevant moral belief. However, it is unclear whether this strate-gy generalizes to cases in which the agent takes their error to (...) be funda-mental in a sense articulated by Andy Egan. In an influential paper, Egan argues that it does not. Egan suggests that Blackburn’s approach is the only game in town for the quasi-realist when it comes to making sense of judgment of fallibility, and therefore concludes that Blackburn’s ina-bility to handle worries about fundamental moral error refutes quasi-realism tout court. Egan’s challenge has generated considerable discus-sion. However, in my view, we have not yet gotten to the heart of the matter. I argue that what is still needed is a fully general, quasi-realist-friendly theory of the nature of first-person judgments of fallibility, such that these judgments are demonstrably consistent with judging that the belief is stable in Egan’s sense. In this article, I develop and defend a fully general quasi-realist theory of such judgments, which meets this demand. With this theory in hand, I argue that Egan’s challenge can be met. Moreover, my discussion of how the challenge is best met provides an elegant diagnosis of where Egan’s argument against goes wrong. On my account, Egan’s argument equivocates at a key point between a “could” and a “would.”. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that so-called “Relaxed Realism” of the sort defended by T. M. Scanlon fails on its own terms by failing to distinguish itself from its putative rivals—in particular, from Quasi-Realism. On a whole host of questions, Relaxed Realism and Quasi-Realism give exactly the same answers, and these answers make up much of the core of the view. Scanlon offers three possible points of contrast, each of which I argue is not fit for purpose. Along the way (...) I argue that Quasi-Realists can provide a better account of practical rationality than Relaxed Realists can, so insofar as they are distinct Quasi-Realism is superior. (shrink)
While the meta-ethical error theory has been of philosophical interest for some time now, only recently a debate has emerged about the question what is to be done if the error theory turns out to be true. This paper argues for a novel answer to this question, namely revolutionary expressivism: if the error theory is true, we should become expressivists. Additionally, the paper explores certain important but largely ignored methodological issues that arise for reforming definitions generally and with a vengeance (...) in the context of a radical error theory about all practical normative judgements, and suggests how these issues can be resolved. (shrink)
An important worry about what Simon Blackburn has called ‘quasi-realism’ is that it collapses into realism full-stop. Edward Harcourt has recently pressed the worry about collapse into realism in an original way. Harcourt presents the challenge in the form of a dilemma. Either ethical discourse appears to ordinary speakers to express representational states or not. If the former then expressivism means that this appearance is not saved after all, in which case quasi-realism fails in its own terms. If the latter, (...) then we lose our grip on the idea that ordinary descriptive utterances are somehow paradigmatic assertions of fact and with it our ability to explain why such utterances really do express representational states. Finally, Harcourt argues that the expressivist’s only hope for meeting these concerns relies on a distinction between states of mind with a ‘world-directed’ direction of fit and those with a ‘state-directed’ direction of fit, the thesis that no state of mind has both directions of fit, and the thesis that a state-directed direction of fit entails no truth-conditions. Previous critics have attacked and, but Harcourt takes a novel turn and attacks. The challenge is a bracing one. If Harcourt is right, then the quasi-realist project inevitably destroys the very distinction in terms of which his position is cast – roughly, the distinction between beliefs and desires. I argue that Harcourt’s challenge can be met. To anticipate, I argue that Harcourt’s critique presumes that the quasi-realist’s fundamental distinction is best understood semantically, whereas I shall argue that it is better understood functionally. (shrink)
Early expressivists, such as A.J. Ayer, argued that normative utterances are not truth-apt, and many found this striking claim implausible. After all, ordinary speakers are perfectly happy to ascribe truth and falsity to normative assertions. It is hard to believe that competent speakers could be so wrong about the meanings of their own language, particularly as these meanings are fixed by the conventions implicit in their own linguistic behavior. Later expressivists therefore tried to arrange a marriage between expressivism and the (...) truth-aptness of normative discourse. Like many arranged marriages, this has not been an entirely happy one. In particular, the marriage has seemed to depend on so-called deflationist theories of truth, and these may well turn out to provide at best a shaky foundation for any marriage. Before advising the parties to file for divorce, though, we should first see whether expressivism itself has not been misunderstood. I argue that the marriage of expressivism to the truth-aptness of normative discourse can indeed be saved, though only in the context of a version of expressivism I call “Ecumenical Expressivism.”. (shrink)
The present chapter attempts to resolve a puzzle about normative testimony. On the one hand, agents act on the advice of others, advice which purports to tell them what they have reason to do. When they do so, they can act for good reason. This thought, though, sits uneasily with another: that the mere fact that someone has advised a course of action is not itself a reason. An interesting view of reasons recently defended by Stephen Kearns and Daniel Star (...) offers a resolution to the puzzle. On this view, reasons are evidence, specifically evidence concerning what one ought to do. If they are correct, then sufficiently good advice is, it turns out, itself a reason, and it is then no puzzle that an agent who acts on such advice is acting for a good reason. The chapter argues that this account of reasons is subject to counterexamples. There are reasons which are not evidence and evidence which is not a reason. This view of reasons cannot therefore hold the key to solving the puzzle of normative testimony. The solution to the puzzle of normative testimony lies instead in a more careful account of what it is to act for a reason. Such an account can preserve both the intuition that advice is not an independent reason and the thought that agents who act on sound advice act for good reason. The account also explains how agents can act for “elusive reasons.” These are facts which are reasons but which would not be if the agent became sufficiently aware of them. (shrink)
-- Immanuel Kant (Kant 1990, p. 46/429) The idea that our most basic duty is to treat each other with respect is one of the Enlightenment’s greatest legacies and Kant is often thought to be one of its most powerful defenders. If Kant’s project were successful then the lofty notion that humanity is always worthy of respect would be vindicated by pure practical reason. Further, this way of defending the ideal is supposed to reflect our autonomy, insofar as it is (...) always one’s own reason that demands that one treat humanity with respect. In this article, I consider what I take to be one of the most important and compelling attempts to defend the Kantian project. I draw the disappointing conclusion that this attempt does not succeed. The reasons this attempt fails shed some light on the difficulties facing any attempt to defend the Kantian project. (shrink)
- Peter Railton1 Railton's remark is accurate; contemporary philosophers almost invariably suppose that morality is more vulnerable than empirical science to scepticism. Yet David Hume apparently embraces an inversion of this twentieth century orthodoxy.2 In book I of the Treatise, he claims that the understanding, when it reflects upon itself, "entirely subverts itself" (T 1. 4.7.7; SBN 267) while, in contrast, in book III he claims that our moral faculty, when reflecting upon itself, acquires "new force" (T 184.108.40.206; SBN 619). (...) Such passages suggest Hume's view is that morality's claims on us are justified, whereas the understanding's claims are not -- that scepticism about empirical science, but not morality, is irresistible. However, this interpretation does not accurately reflect Hume's position. Indeed, any interpretation which has Hume concluding that the understanding's claims on us are not justified faces an obvious worry - it makes nonsense of the rest of his naturalistic project, including, but not limited to, his description and justification of our moral faculty. For in defending his account of our moral faculty and, perhaps more clearly, in arguing against those who believe in miracles, Hume inescapably presupposes that the understanding's claims on us are in some sense justified. In light of Hume's meticulous and enthusiastic pursuit of his larger naturalistic project, one might even be tempted to conclude that Hume never really thought his sceptical arguments were sound. It would, however, be a mistake to submit to this temptation -- to do so would be to ignore the last part of book I of the Treatise, in which Hume evidently does find such arguments to be sound. Hume is undeniably impressed by scepticism about the. (shrink)
Constitutivism is best understood as a strategy for meeting a set of related metanormative challenges, rather than a fully comprehensive metanormative theory in its own right, or so many have plausibly argued. Whether this strategy succeeds may depend, in part, on which broader metanormative theory it is combined with. In this paper I argue that combining constitutivism with expressivism somewhat surprisingly provides constitutivists with their best chances for success, and that this combination of views has some surprising benefits for both (...) parties. (shrink)
I offer new arguments for an unorthodox reading of J. L. Mackie’s Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, one on which Mackie does not think all substantive moral claims are false, but allows that a proper subset of them are true. Further, those that are true should be understood in terms of a “hybrid theory”. The proposed reading is one on which Mackie is a conceptual pruner, arguing that we should prune away error-ridden moral claims but hold onto those already free (...) of error. This reading is very different from the standard ones found in the literature. I build on recent work by Moberger and argue that this reading is better corroborated by close attention to the way in which Mackie argues at length that terms like “good” and “ought” are systematically context-sensitive, as well as by considerable additional textual evidence. This reading, however, faces an important challenge—to explain in what sense, if any, morality retains its “normativity” on the proposed reading. I argue that this challenge can be met, at least given some of Mackie’s further assumptions about the nature of rationality. (shrink)
Many hold that the differences between intentions and desires are so significant that, not only can we not identify intentions with desires simpliciter, but that intentions are irreducible to any subclass of desires. My main aim is to explain why we should reject the irreducibility thesis in both forms, thereby defending the Humean view of action explanation.
Meta-ethical non-cognitivism makes two claims—a negative one and a positive one. The negative claim is that moral utterances do not express beliefs which provide the truth-conditions for those utterances. The positive claim is that the primary function of such utterances is to express certain of the speaker’s desire-like states of mind. Non-cognitivism is officially a theory about the meanings of moral words, but non-cognitivists also maintain that moral states of mind are themselves at least partially constituted by desire-like states to (...) which moral utterances give voice. Non-cognitivists need a plausible account of what distinguishes whims, addictions and cravings from genuinely moral judgments. For while non-cognitivists maintain that in a suitably broad sense moral judgments just are constituted by desire-like states they also insist that not any old desire constitutes a genuinely moral judgment. Since the challenge is to demarcate what is distinctive about moral attitudes we might usefully call this the demarcation challenge. One common strategy for meeting the demarcation challenge is to focus on desires directed at getting others to share one’s own desires and emotions. This strategy has some of its earliest roots in Charles Stevenson’s pioneering work. Stevenson argued that there is a ‘do so as well!’ aspect to moral discourse. On Stevenson’s account, in saying something is morally good a speaker not only expresses her own attitude of approval of the object of evaluation but also urges her interlocutors to share that attitude, thereby expressing a desire that they ‘do so as well.’ More recently, in Ruling Passions, Simon Blackburn emphasizes the importance of what he refers to as a ‘staircase of practical and emotional ascent’. (shrink)
Consequentialists are sometimes accused of being unable to accommodate all the ways in which an agent should care about her own integrity. Here it is helpful to follow Stephen Darwall in distinguishing two approaches to moral theory. First, we might begin with the value of states of affairs and then work our way ‘inward’ to our integrity, explaining the value of the latter in terms of their contribution to the value of the former. This is the ‘outside-in’ approach, and Darwall (...) argues that it is well-suited to defending consequentialism. Alternatively, we might begin with the perspective of a virtuous agent's concern for her integrity, and then work our way ‘outward’, building a conception of the value of states of affairs from this perspective. On this ‘inside-out’ account there is a kind of agent-centred concern each agent should have for her own integrity simply because it is her own. The inside-out approach therefore suggests a possible rationale for a non-consequentialist moral theory, in so far as such a fundamental egocentric concern for one's own integrity seems alien to consequentialism's commitment to the agent-neutrality of value. If this is correct then the consequentialist should explain why we should prefer the outside-in approach to its rival. I argue that the consequentialist can meet this challenge. (shrink)
Expressivists have a problem with collectives. I initially illustrate the problem against the background of Allan Gibbard’s expressivist theory, where it is especially stark. I then argue that the problem generalizes. Gibbard’s account entails that judgments about what collective agents ought to do are contingency plans for what to do if one is in the circumstances facing the relevant collective agent. So, for example, my judgment that the United States ought not to have invaded Iraq is a contingency plan for (...) what to do if I find myself in the circumstances facing the United States on the eve of the Iraq war. I argue that, given plausible functionalist assumptions in the philosophy of mind expressivists would struggle to reject, such contingency plans are impossible for individual agents. Since normative judgments about collectives are possible, Gibbard’s theory is unacceptable. Having demonstrated the basic problem for Gibbard’s view, I then argue that the problem has a much wider scope. In particular, I argue that traditional forms of expressivism cannot simultaneously provide a plausible account of both agent-relative normative judgments and judgments about what collectives ought to do. Fortunately, all is not lost; hybrid or ‘ecumenical’ forms of expressivism can disarm the dilemma, or so I argue. I conclude by briefly sketching some further challenges ecumenical expressivism must overcome for its treatment of judgments about collectives to be fully satisfactory and indicate possible lines of argument to be pursued in future work on these challenges. (shrink)
What place, if any, moral principles should or do have in moral life has been a longstanding question for moral philosophy. For some, the proposition that moral philosophy should strive to articulate moral principles has been an article of faith. At least since Aristotle, however, there has been a rich counter-tradition that questions the possibility or value of trying to capture morality in principled terms. In recent years, philosophers who question principled approaches to morality have argued under the banner of (...) moral particularism. Particularists can be found in diverse areas of philosophical inquiry, and their positions and arguments are of broad interest.1 Despite its importance, a proper evaluation of particularism has been hindered both by the diversity of arguments employed to defend it, and, perhaps more significantly, by the diversity of positions that can fairly claim to be particularist. Our aim is first to explicate particularism by identifying a unified range of particularist theses and explaining both what unites them as versions of particularism as well as what distinguishes them from each other. We then articulate and evaluate the main arguments for particularism and explain how each is especially well-suited to supporting some conceptions of particularism rather than others. We tentatively conclude that the positive arguments for particularism are not convincing. They do, however, reveal particularism to be a surprisingly resilient position, one that is not readily refuted.. (shrink)
One might have thought that any right-thinking utilitarian would hold that motives and intentions are morally on a par, as either might influence the consequences of one's actions. However, in a neglected passage of Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill claims that the rightness of an action depends 'entirely upon the intention' but does not at all depend upon the motive. In this paper I try to make sense of Mill's initially puzzling remarks about the relative importance of intentions and motives in (...) a way that highlights the importance of other elements of his moral philosophy and action theory. (shrink)