Although the history of centrally planned economies has been widely studied, the development of socialist thinking on the subject has remained largely uncharted. In this 1991 work, Pekka Sutela presents a detailed analysis of Soviet economic thought and theory. Dr Sutela traces the competing currents in the Marxist tradition of socialist economies from the Revolution to the present day. In particular he shows how the Gorbachev economic reform programme of 1987 rose from the work of Nobel Prize economist L. (...) V. Kantorovich and his followers. However, this programme failed and the author explains in some detail why this happened. Since then, Soviet economists have tried to abandon their traditional theory of central planning and move along the path and long established contacts with leading Soviet economists, Pekka Sutela is able to show how Soviet economic thinking has moved from dogmatism through reformism to pragmatism. (shrink)
The article is devoted to the memory of Vyacheslav Semenovich Stepin and Nikita Nikolaevich Moiseev, whose multifaceted work was integrally focused on philosophical, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research of the key ideas and principles of universal human-dimensional evolutionism. Other remarkable Russian scientists V.I. Vernadsky, S.P. Kurdyumov, S.P. Kapitsa, D.S. Chernavsky worked in the same tradition of universal evolutionism. While V.I. Vernadsky and N.N. Moiseev had been the originators of that scientific approach, V.S. Stepin provided philosophical foundations for the ideas of those (...) remarkable scientists and thinkers. The scientific legacy of V.S. Stepin and N.N. Moiseev maintained the formation of a new quality of research into the philosophy of science and technology as well as into the philosophy of culture. This new quality is multidimensional and it is difficult to define unambiguously, but we presume the formation of those areas of philosophical knowledge as constructively oriented languages of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary co-participation of philosophy in the convergent-evolutionary development of scientific knowledge in general. In this regard, attention is paid to V.S. Stepin’s affirmations about non-classical nature of modern social and humanitarian knowledge. Quantum mechanics teaches us that the reality revealed through it is a hybrid construct, or symbiosis, of both mean and object of cognition. Therefore, the very act of cognitive observation constructs quantum reality. Thus, it is very close to the process of cognition in modern sociology and psychology. V.S. Stepin insisted that these principles are applicable to all complex selfdeveloping systems, and such are all “human-dimensional” objects of modern humanities. In all the phases of homeostasis changes, or crises, there is necessarily a share of chaos, instability, uncertainty in the selection process of future development scenarios, which is ineliminably affected by our observation. Therefore, a cognitive observer in the humanities should be considered as a concept of post-non-classical rationality, that is as an observer of complexity. (shrink)
In addition to thin concepts like the good, the bad and the ugly, our evaluative thought and talk appeals to thick concepts like the lewd and the rude, the selfish and the cruel, the courageous and the kind -- concepts that somehow combine evaluation and non-evaluative description. Thick concepts are almost universally assumed to be inherently evaluative in content, and many philosophers claimed them to have deep and distinctive significance in ethics and metaethics. In this first book-length treatment of thick (...) concepts, Pekka Väyrynen argues that all this is mistaken. Through detailed attention to the language of thick concepts, he defends a novel theory on which the relationship between thick words and evaluation is best explained by general conversational and pragmatic norms. Drawing on general principles in philosophy of language, he argues that many prominent features of thick words and concepts can be explained by general factors that have nothing in particular to do with being evaluative. If evaluation is not essential to the sort of thinking we do with thick concepts, claims for the deep and distinctive significance of the thick are undermined. The Lewd, the Rude and the Nasty is a fresh and innovative treatment of an important topic in moral philosophy and sets a new agenda for future work. It will be essential reading to anyone interested in the analysis and the broader philosophical significance of evaluative and normative language. (shrink)
Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...) makes good sense of certain legitimate moves in ordinary normative explanatory discourse, and helps to make sense of our judgments about explanatory priority in certain cases of normative explanation. This last argument also helps to highlight respects in which normative explanation won’t be worryingly discontinuous with explanations in other domains even though these other explanations aren’t subject to the justification condition. Thus the paper aims not only to do some constructive theorizing about the relatively neglected topic of normative explanation but also to cast light on the broader question of how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanations in other domains. (shrink)
This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of__’. The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non- normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non- normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion in (...) recent metaphysics. I argue that this would help only under controversial assumptions about the nature of normative facts, and perhaps not even then. I won't try to resolve the tension, but draw a distinction between two different sorts of normative explanations which helps to identify constraints on a resolution. One distinctive constraint on normative explanations in particular might be that they should be able to play a role in normative justification. (shrink)
Throughout Christianity, its activities are in one way or another connected to the historical reality of its time. Usually, for different epochs, the strength of these bonds was different, but during the Middle Ages, they were significantly stronger than before and after. It is here that perhaps the most important moment was the rise of Christianity, which spread over a relatively short period of time almost throughout Europe. It was then - and never again in all its history - that (...) the Church was able to participate in the formation of all aspects of its contemporary life, in accordance with its spirit. When solving this task, it inevitably came in close contact with the "world" and the various forms in which it was represented. (shrink)
This paper defends doubts about the existence of genuine moral perception, understood as the claim that at least some moral properties figure in the contents of perceptual experience. Standard examples of moral perception are better explained as transitions in thought whose degree of psychological immediacy varies with how readily non-moral perceptual inputs, jointly with the subject's background moral beliefs, training, and habituation, trigger the kinds of phenomenological responses that moral agents are normally disposed to have when they represent things as (...) being morally a certain way. (shrink)
As philosophers of mind we seem to hold in common no very clear view about the relevance that work in psychology or the neurosciences may or may not have to our own favourite questions—even if we call the subject ‘philosophical psychology’. For example, in the literature we find articles on pain some of which do, some of which don't, rely more or less heavily on, for example, the work of Melzack and Wall; the puzzle cases used so extensively in discussions (...) of personal identity are drawn sometimes from the pleasant exercise of scientific fantasy, at times from surprising reports of scientific fact; and there are those who deny, as well as those who affirm, the importance of the discovery of rapid-eye-movement sleep to the philosophical treatment of dreaming. A general account of the relation between scientific, and philosophical, psychology is long overdue and of the first importance. Here I shall limit myself to just one area where the two seem to connect, discussing one type of neuropsychological research and its relevance to questions in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology. (shrink)
Many normative judgments play a practical role in our thought. This paper concerns how their practical role is reflected in language. It is natural to wonder whether the phenomenon is semantic or pragmatic. The standard assumption in moral philosophy is that at least terms which can be used to express “thin” normative concepts – such as 'good', 'right', and 'ought' – are associated with certain practical roles somehow as a matter of meaning. But this view is rarely given explicit defense (...) or even articulation. I’ll consider several versions of the view, and argue that even the most promising among them are problematic. Terms like 'ought' are often used in ways where their customary practical role is absent. Such cases give us a choice: either offer some plausible explanation of why the relevant practical upshots don’t show up in these cases despite featuring in our semantic theory for these expressions, or else don’t build them into that theory. I argue that plausible explanations of the requisite sort aren’t forthcoming in either descriptive semantics or metasemantics for normative language. In closing I briefly consider the prospects for a pragmatic account of the phenomenon and some broader ramifications for metaethics and the philosophy of normativity. (shrink)
This paper offers a general model of substantive moral principles as a kind of hedged moral principles that can (but don't have to) tolerate exceptions. I argue that the kind of principles I defend provide an account of what would make an exception to them permissible. I also argue that these principles are nonetheless robustly explanatory with respect to a variety of moral facts; that they make sense of error, uncertainty, and disagreement concerning moral principles and their implications; and that (...) one can grasp these principles without having to grasp any particular list of their permissibly exceptional instances. I conclude by pointing out various advantages that this model of principles has over several of its rivals. The bottom line is that we should find nothing peculiarly odd or problematic about the idea of exception-tolerating and yet robustly explanatory moral principles. (shrink)
This paper is a survey of the supervenience challenge to non-naturalist moral realism. I formulate a version of the challenge, consider the most promising non-naturalist replies to it, and suggest that no fully effective reply has yet been given.
[First published 09/2016; substantive revision 02/2021.] Evaluative terms and concepts are often divided into “thin” and “thick”. We don’t evaluate actions and persons merely as good or bad, or right or wrong, but also as kind, courageous, tactful, selfish, boorish, and cruel. The latter evaluative concepts are "descriptively thick": their application somehow involves both evaluation and a substantial amount of non-evaluative description. This article surveys various attempts to answer four fundamental questions about thick terms and concepts. (1) A “combination question”: (...) how exactly do thick terms and concepts relate evaluation and non-evaluative description? (2) A “location question”: is evaluation somehow inherent to thick terms and concepts, such as perhaps an aspect of their meaning, or merely a feature of their use? (3) A “delineation question”: how do thick terms differ from the thin and from other kinds of evaluative terms? (4) Given answers to these questions, what broader philosophical significance and applications might thick concepts have? (shrink)
I first distinguish between different forms of the buck-passing account of value and clarify my target in other respects on buck-passers' behalf. I then raise a number of problems for the different forms of the buck-passing view that I have distinguished.
This paper argues that the recent metaethical turn to reasons as the fundamental units of normativity offers no special advantage in explaining a variety of other normative and evaluative phenomena, unless perhaps a form of reductionism about reasons is adopted which is rejected by many of those who advocate turning to reasons.
I defend moral generalism against particularism. Particularism, as I understand it, is the negation of the generalist view that particular moral facts depend on the existence of a comprehensive set of true moral principles. Particularists typically present "the holism of reasons" as powerful support for their view. While many generalists accept that holism supports particularism but dispute holism, I argue that generalism accommodates holism. The centerpiece of my strategy is a novel model of moral principles as a kind of "hedged" (...) principles that incorporate an independently plausible "basis thesis" concerning the explanation of moral reasons. The model implies that moral reasons requires the existence of a comprehensive set of true hedged principles, and so it captures generalism. But the model also offers an alternative explanation of holism, and so it undercuts much of the motivation for particularism. I defend this moderate (because holism-tolerating) form of generalism against a number of objections, and show how it can be used to defeat three distinct arguments from holism to particularism. (shrink)
The core doctrine of ethical intuitionism is that some of our ethical knowledge is non-inferential. Against this, Sturgeon has recently objected that if ethical intuitionists accept a certain plausible rationale for the autonomy of ethics, then their foundationalism commits them to an implausible epistemology outside ethics. I show that irrespective of whether ethical intuitionists take non-inferential ethical knowledge to be a priori or a posteriori, their commitment to the autonomy of ethics and foundationalism does not entail any implausible non-inferential knowledge (...) in areas outside ethics (such as the past, the future, or the unobservable). However, each form of intuitionism does require a controversial stand on certain unresolved issues outside ethics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In this wide-ranging interview Professor Douglas V. Porpora discusses a number of issues. First, how he became a Critical Realist through his early work on the concept of structure. Second, drawing on his Reconstructing Sociology, his take on the current state of American sociology. This leads to discussion of the broader range of his work as part of Margaret Archer’s various Centre for Social Ontology projects, and on moral-macro reasoning and the concept of truth in political discourse.
Normative explanations, which specify why things have the normative features they do, are ubiquitous in normative theory and ordinary thought. But there is much less work on normative explanation than on scientific or metaphysical explanation. Skow (2016) argues that a complete answer to the question why some fact Q occurs consists in all of the reasons why Q occurs. This paper explores this theory as a case study of a general theory that promises to offer us a grip on normative (...) explanation which is independent of particular normative theories. I first argue that the theory doesn’t give an adequate account of certain enablers of reasons which are important in normative explanation. I then formulate and reject three responses on behalf of the theory. But I suggest that since theories of this general sort have the right kind of resources to illuminate how normative explanation might be similar to and different from explanations in other domains, they nonetheless merit further exploration by normative theorists. (shrink)
We study whether robots can satisfy the conditions of an agent fit to be held morally responsible, with a focus on autonomy and self-control. An analogy between robots and human groups enables us to modify arguments concerning collective responsibility for studying questions of robot responsibility. We employ Mele’s history-sensitive account of autonomy and responsibility to argue that even if robots were to have all the capacities required of moral agency, their history would deprive them from autonomy in a responsibility-undermining way. (...) We will also study whether humans and technological artifacts like robots can form hybrid collective agents that could be morally responsible for their actions and give an argument against such a possibility. (shrink)
This paper offers a simple response to the Moral Twin Earth (MTE) objection to Naturalist Moral Realism (NMR). NMR typically relies on an externalist metasemantics such as a causal theory of reference. The MTE objection is that such a theory predicts that terms like ‘good’ and ‘right’ have a different reference in certain twin communities where it’s intuitively clear that the twins are talking about the same thing when using ‘good’. I argue that Boyd’s causal regulation theory, the original target (...) of the MTE objection, was never vulnerable to this objection. The theory contains an epistemic constraint on reference which implies that either the property that causally regulates uses of ‘good’ isn’t different for the twin communities or, in scenarios where the reference is different, the communities diverge in ways where it’s not intuitively clear that ‘good’ has the same reference for them. (shrink)
Some philosophers hold that so-called "thick" terms and concepts in ethics (such as 'cruel,' 'selfish,' 'courageous,' and 'generous') are contextually variable with respect to the valence (positive or negative) of the evaluations that they may be used to convey. Some of these philosophers use this variability claim to argue that thick terms and concepts are not inherently evaluative in meaning; rather their use conveys evaluations as a broadly pragmatic matter. I argue that one sort of putative examples of contextual variability (...) in evaluative valence that are found in the literature fail to support the variability claim and that another sort of putative examples are open to a wide range of explanations that have different implications for the relationship between thick terms and concepts and evaluation. I conclude that considerations of contextual variability fail to settle whether thick terms and concepts are inherently evaluative in meaning. In closing I suggest a more promising line of research. (shrink)
The aim of the present study was to explore the use and understanding of the concepts ‘placebo’ and ‘placebo effect’ in 12 empirical studies that have addressed the prescription of placebos by doctors in clinical practice. There were great differences in the general methodology and in the definitions (or lack of any definition) of the basic concepts in these 12 studies. Therefore, the results reflect different things. They tell us a little about the use of ‘pure placebos’, more about the (...) use of ‘impure placebos’, but most of all, they tell us about the conceptual confusion in this area. (shrink)
Francesco Guala has written an important book proposing a new account of social institutions and criticizing existing ones. We focus on Guala’s critique of collective acceptance theories of institutions, widely discussed in the literature of collective intentionality. Guala argues that at least some of the collective acceptance theories commit their proponents to antinaturalist methodology of social science. What is at stake here is what kind of philosophizing is relevant for the social sciences. We argue that a Searlean version of collective (...) acceptance theory can be defended against Guala’s critique and question the sufficiency of Guala’s account of the ontology of the social world. (shrink)