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Sometimes we believe we ought to do things. Sometimes we then do them. I'd love to know how the normative status of normative judgments (which I'm taking to be beliefs about what ought to be done all things considered) are related to the normative status of the things we do. I think that this is right: if your belief that you ought to Φ is justified, Φ-ing is justified. (If you ought to believe that you ought to Φ, you really ought to Φ.) I've written up a short little piece attacking a view (a.k.a., 'The View') that uses some principles I like but uses them for nefarious purposes (attacks on epistemic purism, attacks on views of the ontology of practical reasons that identify them with states of the world or worldly facts). I've attacked The View before (in 'The Myth of the False, Justified Belief' (here)), but my argument rested on intuitions about the moral significance of facts that an agent is non-culpably ignorant of that some people think are dodgy. (Fwiw, I've found much better rhetoric to use to get people to have the right intuitions than I used in that paper.) It can't be that facts you're non-culpably ignorant of determine what your obligation is, if you fail to take account of them, that's just bad luck. Or something like that. I'll try something different here and try to hit The View where it hurts. (Because I know the targets and we seem to be on reasonably friendly terms, I'm a bit more glib than I would be otherwise. Since they seem to be rather glib in attacking the views I cherish, I hope they'll forgive me as it's clearly not intended to be disrespectful.)
We are very pleased to announce a new partnership between PEA Soup and the distinguished journal, Ethics. In addition to our regular postings, PEA Soup's editors will select one article from each issue of Ethics to be the focus of a featured discussion on our blog. Ethics, in turn, will make an on-line copy of the featured article available to our readers for free (for three months). At the time of the article's publication, we will post a link to the open-access copy, and then a week later an open discussion of it will be introduced with a critical précis by an invited discussant.
We expect that this partnership will give rise to a series of lively and productive conversations. Stay tuned for details on the first featured article, which will be selected from the next issue of Ethics (Volume 120, Number 1).
Special thanks to everyone at Ethics, especially its Editor, Henry S. Richardson, and Managing Editor, Catherine Galko Campbell, for their help and participation.
After teaching mostly theoretical ethics and narrowly focused applied ethics courses for a number of years, I'm now considering developing a syllabus for a course in "Social Ethics." The standard practice in such courses, and the approach I'm considering adopting, is to pick a number of different issues of social controversy such as abortion, sweatshop labor, etc., and have the students read articles 'pro' and 'con.'
Such a course seems to present a lot of opportunities for student involvement. The issues are interesting to them, and the readings tend to be more accessible than, say, Kant's Groundwork. But what's the best way to incorporate such involvement into the syllabus? One possibility is to structure the week so that we read a 'pro' article on Monday, a 'con' article on Wednesday, and then have some kind of student discussion or debate on Friday. Perhaps certain students can even be in charge of presenting the 'pro' and 'con' arguments on Monday and Wednesday.
I'm curious to hear what other people have tried in a course like this. What's worked well, and what hasn't? I'm especially interested in the question of how to get students involved in classroom activity in a pedagogically useful way, but as a secondary matter I'd also be interested in particular topics/articles that have worked well or poorly for you in such a course.
We’ve been having a reading group on Gibbard’s Thinking How
to Live. It’s been really interesting to go back to it after there having been
so much discussion about it recently. At the heart of Gibbard’s expressivist
semantics lie ‘the hyperplans’. This is a technical notion that is supposed to
be helpful in elucidating the content of our normative judgments. I’ve started
to become worried about whether there are or could be any hyperplans as Gibbard
understands them. I’m uncertain about how big of a worry this would be for him.
So, after quickly explaining my worry, I’ll leave you with some options
about how he might proceed.
Currently, I’m working on a book entitled Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. (Click on the link to be taken to a web site where you can download individual chapters.) The book is on morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, I defend a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons. I have a complete draft of the book finished, but I’m still in the process of revising it. I have promised to submit it by the end of this coming January. I would be very grateful, then, to those who have the time to read it (or any portion of it) and give me comments before then, as this would be of tremendous help to me in revising it. Comments, questions, and/or criticisms can be posted here or sent to me at email@example.com. Below the fold, I include the table of comments followed by a brief synopsis of each chapter.