We are pleased to provide the first of two threads discussing the recent articles in Ethics on various kinds of reasons (right, wrong, state-given, object-given). Both are introduced and critically discussed by Wlodek Rabinowicz and Toni Ronnow-Rasmussen. The first is on Mark Schroeder's "The Ubiquity of State-Given Reasons," beginning below the fold, and the second (which will assume some exposition from the first) is to follow. We invite you to join in on the discussion.
I am currently working on a manuscript in which sophisticated consequentialism (SC) plays a role, and I want to make sure I characterize the view accurately.
The heart of SC is the recommendation that the act consequentialist standard of right action not necessarily be utilized by agents in their deliberations. The 'sophisticated consequentialist' is supposed to be justified is not using that standard in her deliberations to the extent that using it would have worse consequences than using some other non-consequentialist deliberative procedure. On its face then, SC is not a view of right action but a view about right deliberation.
Public Affairs Quarterly is seeking abstracts for a special issue which will cover the various issues surrounding the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); the decision is expected later this month. We are seeking papers that are philosophical in nature, but, in keeping with the purpose of the journal, we are primarily interested in papers that engage in a meaningful way with the Court’s decision. The aim of the special issue is to move beyond the generic debate over universal health care and to engage critically with the various legal and normative issues at stake in the Affordable Care Act, specifically, the potential legal fallout from the decision, and legislative/political paths forward.
Moore, of course, thought that intrinsic value is the central evaluative property. Admittedly, specifying what counts as an intrinsic property is an interesting and difficult question in itself. Let me offer just a quick sketch. On this proposal, whether an object has an intrinsic property cannot be affected by anything outside the object. This entails that all possible duplicates of an object have all the same intrinsic properties as the object but they can differ in all their other properties that are thus extrinsic. Metaphysically speaking, Moore then thought that the intrinsic property of intrinsic value is a ‘non-natural’ property. Again, it is an interesting and difficult question what this actually means – what the difference between non-natural and natural properties is exactly supposed to amount to. As this doesn’t matter below, I’ll be neutral about this here.
One classic objection to non-naturalism about intrinsic value is an epistemic challenge. As John Mackie put it, ‘[c]orrespondingly, if we were aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else.’ So, traditionally, it has been thought that it is the non-naturalist aspect of Moore’s view that creates the epistemic problems. I want to suggest that this is false because the problem really is in the intrinsic aspect of Moore's properties. David Lewis, in his 2002 Gareth Evans Memorial lecture ‘Ramseyan Humility’, offers a strong argument to the conclusion that all intrinsic properties are unknowable – whether they be non-natural or natural properties (I wish I had read this earlier... most people probably know this well). If this is right (and I think it is), then naturalists about intrinsic value face the very same epistemic problems as the non-naturalists about intrinsic value.
Three and a half years ago I had the pleasure of doing a guest post here on PEA Soup. I'm still working on the same stuff, so I thought I'd start my non-guest posting with an update. There's quite a few things going on in the paper, so I'll just try to hit the highlights here in the hopes that it generates discussion. (I'll also be talking about this stuff at RoME in August, for those of you who will be there.)
I think that expressivism is incompatible with the possibility of expressing certain kinds of negated normative judgements that further express nihilism or nihilistic doubt. And I think that because nihilism is a view that we must at least be able to entertain, this is a serious problem for expressivism.
We haven’t had a post on professional issues lately, but I hope that readers won’t mind a bit of light reading. In any case, here it goes:
Suppose that I’ve become a better teacher. Suppose, for instance, that I’ve used the same bank of test questions over the years and that, due to implementing certain non-substantive changes in my PHI X course, students taking that course from me this year are doing a better job answering those questions than students who took the same course from me in previous years. So the material that I’m trying to get the students to learn and the technique that I’ve been using for assessing whether they’ve learned it hasn’t change, but I’ve become more effective in that my current students are, on average, leaving the course with a better understanding of the material than students who took the same course from me in previous years.
The question, then, is: Should I (A) adopt higher standards with respect to what level of understanding I expect from them so as to earn certain grades or (B) keep the same standards and give higher grades on average than I had been giving in previous years?