It is fairly common to give a conditional analysis of an option, e.g.:
(CAO) Performing an act X at a future time t1 is an option for a subject S at the present time t0 if and only if S would perform X at t1 if S were to intend (to try, to decide, or to choose) at t0 to perform X at t1.
I know that there are a host of problems with such conditional analyses, but let’s set those aside for the moment, for I want to address what seems to be an unappreciated worry concerning the possibility of indeterminism.
In light of feedback some of you have sent to the editors over the past several months, we have finally been able to make a few improvements to PEA Soup. You've likely already noticed the most important ones, but just to make it "official," a brief description is below the fold:
We are pleased to present the next installment of Ethics at PEA Soup. Our featured article this time around is Justin Clarke-Doane’s “Morality and Mathematics: The Evolutionary Challenge,” which is available here. We are very grateful to Matthew Braddock, Andreas Mogensen, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong for kicking off the discussion with the following thought-provoking post (see below the fold). Questions and comments about either Clarke-Doane’s article or the post by Braddock et al. are most welcome.
Moving to the Front: We are pleased to announce the next installment of our partnership with Ethics, where we host a discussion of one article from each issue of the journal, and the journal makes the article freely available for the period of our discussion.
Well, not quite. The survey showed that about one-third of the respondents shared my intuition that I (qua subject of the example) have no reason to purchase ITEM and that about two-thirds of respondents have the contrary intuition that I do have a reason to purchase ITEM. This doesn’t show that I’m wrong, but it does show that my intuition is not widely shared.
Now, here’s why this is important. In his excellent paper “Parfit’s Case against Subjectivism,” David Sobel argues that subjectivists – those who think that an agent’s reasons for action are all ultimately determined by the contingent pro and con attitudes that she would have under some procedurally specified conditions – can accept Parfit’s claim that we have current reasons to do what will prevent us from suffering future agony regardless of whether or not we have any current pro attitudes towards our avoiding future agony. Sobel argues that subjectivists will claim that anyone who will be in future agony will, in the future, necessarily have a future desire (when in agony) to get out of agony and so will, when in agony, have a reason to get out of agony. And he argues that, by appealing to this fact and what he calls the Reasons Transfer Principle, the subjectivist can hold not only that anyone who will be in future agony will have a future reason to get out of agony, but also that those who can avoid future agony have a present reason to avoid future agony. According to Sobel, the Reasons Transfer Principle (RTP) says: “If one will later have a reason to get O, then one now has a reason to facilitate the later getting of O.”
I disagree with one of my fellow PEA Brains about something. Part of what our disagreement hinges upon is our differing intuitions about the following sort of case. Although it's clear that we have differing intuitions about this case, it's not clear whose intuitions are more widely shared. Of course, I don't think that because an intuition is widely shared that means that it must be true, but I do think how widely an intuition is shared among fellow philosophers does affect how persuasive certain arguments that rely on those intuitions will be. So here's a survey that tests people's intuitions.
If you have the time, please take the survey. In a few days (after there have been several responses), I'll explain what the disagreement is and what of philosophical interests hangs on it. I post below the fold the set up for the survey in case people want to ask questions about it.
The "smoker" has been getting a lot of bad press and deservedly so. See here for some of the relevant links. I have a proposal. Either members of the interview teams should not attend the reception/"smoker" or they should refuse to talk to prospective job candidates during the reception. They should, then, let all their interviewees know that they will not be attending (or talking to them during) the reception. This is what I would propose to my department if we were conducting APA interviews.
I take it that there is no point in getting rid of the reception. What's problematic is not the reception itself; rather, it's that many schools treat the reception/"smoker" as an extended part of the interview process. We should put an end to that, and it seems that my proposal would do that. What do others think?
Consider that following plausible wide scope requirement, a requirement that many philosophers endorse (including, I believe, M. Bratman, G. Harman, J. H. Sobel, and J. D. Velleman):
(WSR) Subjective rationality demands that S be such that she does not intend to X if she believes that she will not X.
In order to move from this wide scope requirement to some corresponding narrow scope requirement, we might rely on the following principle:
(WSR->NSR) If there is a wide scope requirement to the effect that subjective rationality demands that S be such that she does not phi if she psi’s (e.g., does not believe not-Q if she believes both P and P entails Q), then it follows that there is a narrow scope requirement to the effect that S is objectively required [not to phi] if S is objectively required to psi.
Assume that my performing x would have beneficial effect, B1, providing me with an additional +19 utiles on Wednesday. Assume that my performing y would have detrimental effect, D1, providing me with an additional -10 utiles on Thursday. And assume that my performing z would have detrimental effect, D2, providing me with an additional -10 utiles on Friday. Lastly, assume that these are the only effects of these actions and that the timing of the effects is irrelevant.
Now, I think that many would say that the fact that my performing x would have beneficial effect B1 constitutes a reason for me to perform x. But, of course, my performing x&y&z (the conjunctive act) also has beneficial effect B1. So do I likewise have a reason to perform x&y&z? My intuition is that I have no reason at all to perform the conjunctive act x&y&z. Of course, those who want to claim that I do have some reason to perform x&y&z can cite the fact that the reason that I have to perform x&y&z is outweighed (although just barely) by the reasons that I have to refrain from performing x&y&z. But to my mind that’s not enough. Again, I’m inclined to deny that I have any reason at all to perform x&y&z.