This is merely a request for information. I know that there are lots and lots of applied ethics journals covering bioethics, health care ethics, global ethics, environmental ethics, business ethics, health care ethics, ethics of war and conflict and many other types of applied ethics and applied political philosophy, and there are of course general applied ethics journals too. Would anyone know of a somewhat comrehensive list of all these journals? I tried to look for one but couldn't easily find one. Also, is there any kind of ranking of how prestigious and widely read these journals are? The reason I ask is that I see quite a lot of CVs with publications in these journals I never even knew existed and it would be pretty handy to have more information of these venues. It would be useful for many of our students too. Thanks for help in advance if anyone has more information.
I’ve been recently interested in subjectivism and how serious the objections to it are in the end. In part, this is a project of thinking how well or badly off the view comes out when we compare it to expressivism. In this post, I am interested in the claim that subjectivism makes morality objectionably dependent on our attitudes. The strategy which subjectivists have often recently adopted is to try to argue that subjectivists can usually give similar responses to objections as expressivists. Here, I want to use this strategy to explore the mind-dependence objection.
I know that a lot philosophers I have met and a lot of you who read this blog are avid readers of novels. Because of this, I wanted to post a 'bleg' ('an entry on a blog requesting information or contributions' according to Wiktionary...). I'd like to know of novels that feature philosophers (fictional or actual), philosophical texts and books, or philosophical theories in them. If these are moral philosophers or texts or theories in moral philosophy, even better. You can also post good examples from novels as illustrations of philosophical views if you have come across cool ones recently, or cases in which philosophical views have influenced novels too. I'm more interested in more direct connections however. I'm just going start this off with one example I recently happened to come across. This is Justin Cartwright's 2004 novel The Promise of Happiness in which one of the central characters picks up in the middle of the novel Bernard Williams' Morality: an Introduction to Ethics. After this, he considers events in the novel through discussions of reasons-internalism and utilitarianism. Anyway, I would very interested to hear about other novels like this.
There are many ethical theories that think of right and wrong in terms of what consequences the general adoption of moral principles would have. Contractualists think of what consequences the principles would have for individual lives; rule-consequentialists think of what consequences they would have for the aggregate wellbeing and other general values; Kantians think of the consequences which the principles would have for the effectiveness of our subjective principles of action; and so on. It’s now generally accepted that we shouldn’t compare the moral codes at universal, 100% level of acceptance. This is because we want to also generate principles for self-improvement, dealing with moral disagreements, punishment, and so on. It is an interesting problem at what lower level of social acceptance should we compare the principle. But, here I am just going to assume that there is some such level n% where n is less than 100 at which it makes sense to compare the consequences of different moral codes. It has become evident that this idea leads to further problems which the defenders of these theories haven’t really tackled yet. These problems have surfaced in various discussions I’ve had with many people but they have also been formulated very forcefully in the last section of Holly Smith’s wonderful 2010 Utilitas paper “Measuring the Consequences of Rules”. Here I want to introduce the problem and also three ways of trying to respond to it. I’m still sceptical about these answers but I would like to hear other people’s opinions about and also whether there might be other solutions.
All of you are of course aware that here in the UK there has been huge phone hacking scandal. This scandal lead to the Leveson Inquiry on Culture, Practice, and Ethics of Press. Last week, on Monday 16th of July, the Inquiry interviewed various philosophers on freedom of speech, human rights, democracy, and media ethics. These incredibly interesting interviews can be viewed online. The morning session is on this page:
The philosophers interviewed in this session are first Jennifer Hornsby (Birkbeck), Sue Mendus (York), and John Tasioulas (UCL). The second half of the session interviews Rowan Cruft (Stirling) and Chris Megone (Leeds). The afternoon session is here:
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.
A group of our PhD students here at Birmingham asked me to email details of a workshop on the conceptions of a good life which they are organising here in June. This should be of interest for graduate students following this blog as there is also a call for abstracts for them included. Here's the announcement:
Call for abstracts and registration
Workshop at the University of Birmingham, Department of Philosophy The Good Life: Theory and Practice 8th June 2012
Confirmed speakers Beverley Clack (Professor in the Philosophy of Religion, Oxford Brookes University) Chris Megone (Professor of Interdisciplinary Applied Ethics, University of Leeds) Mozaffar Qizilbash (Professor of Economics, University of York) Stephen Wilkinson (Professor of Bioethics, Keele University) James Wilson (Lecturer in Philosophy and Health, University College London)
Imagine that you are walking home from the pub at night when two strangers suddenly pull out their guns clearly with the intention to kill you. Unbeknownst to you, there’s a vicious killer out in the area, and as it happens you fit the description of the mass murderer perfectly right down to every last detail. These police officers have been given shoot to kill orders as several officers have already been killed. But, you don’t know that they are police officers – you just think that they are killers coming to get you. All you can think of is saving your own life. In a desperate attempt to do so, you hurl your heavy bag at one of the officer which hits him in the head and kills him. At the same time, the other officer fires and you die. Your only other options would have been to hurl the bag at the officer who ended up shooting you (in which he would have died but the officer you really killed would then have shot you), or to do nothing and take the bullet from both of the officers.
Have you done anything wrong? My intuition is that you haven’t. I think that the right to defend oneself also applies to cases where one is attacked by a far superior force. So, in this case too, you were perfectly entitled to defend yourself. In fact, most attacks where people have to defend themselves seem to be ones where the odds are heavily against the defender (the Stephen Lawrence murder here in the UK is a good example of this) given that the attackers are rarely stupid enough to attack targets who can defend themselves successfully. Yet, Peter Vallentyne’s recent theory of enforcement rights against non-culpable non-just intrusions has just the opposite consequence. He thinks that in these cases your only morally permissible option is to do nothing. This is why I think we should reject his theory and all other similar views that are based on harm reduction.
I’ve been reading David Enoch’s great Taking Morality Seriously. Enoch defends Robust Realism according to which there are judgment-independent non-natural (causally inert) normative properties. One of the objections to Robust Realism briefly discussed in the book is the problem of semantic access. Enoch is explicitly very modest when he responds to this objection (he merely explains how a response might go). I still want to raise a question about this response as I think that we are getting here into very deep and interesting questions about normative concepts and properties.
Guy Fletcher and Mike Ridge are organising a conference on hybrid theories in metaethics in Edinburgh this summer from 2nd of July to 4th of July. As you all know, these are views according to which telling a complete story of normative judgments requires talking about both beliefs and desire-like attitudes. The line-up is incredible: Dorit Bar-On (UNC-Chapel Hill), Stephen Barker (Nottingham), Dan Boisvert (UNC-Charlotte), Matthew Chrisman (Edinburgh), David Copp (UC-Davis), John Erikkson (Gothenberg), Steve Finlay (USC), Guy Fletcher (Edinburgh), Ryan Hay (Occidential College), Jennifer Hornsby (Birkbeck), Mike Ridge (Edinburgh), Mark Schroeder (USC), Laura Schroeter (Melbourne), Francois Schroeter (Melbourne), and Jon Tresan (UNC-Chapel Hill). Phhew! More information about the conference HERE. Just after the conference, there's also Joint Session and BSET in Stirling (see HERE and HERE).