This year's British Society for Ethical Theory Conference will be held at the University of Southampton on 13th and 14th July. The list of papers is below the fold. For further details, including registration, see: http://www.bset.org.uk/2015.html
I hope to gather information about undergraduate degree programs that somehow combine philosophy and law. A few examples include Indiana University PA, Georgia State, Lewis, and USC. I am looking only at degree programs administered by philosophy departments, and that have the word "law" somewhere in the description of the major, so that a student or an administrator would see the program as combining something marketable (law) with philosophy.
Are there other such programs? Do they attract majors? Do they attract students to the college itself? Any advice on how to get one's own university (ahem) to look favorably upon proposing such a degree program?
We are very happy to kick off another PEA Soup celebration of the Ethics 125th anniversary retrospective series, with this special feature of R. Lanier Anderson'sessay on Marjorie Grene's "Authenticity: an Existential Virtue." And, as an additional bonus, Professor Anderson has kindly offered us some background about Grene's life and work (below the fold). Enjoy! And hope to hear our readers' reactions in the comments.
All over there are arguments that employ the following premise: Necessarily, the true moral theory is action-guiding. I must confess that I don’t really have a grip on what this notion is. And yet it is often appealed to to do some very heavy-lifting: most often to establish that some form of subjectivism about moral obligation is true and also that ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’ is true. But given that I don’t understand what this action-guidingness is supposed to amount to, I don’t know how to understand these arguments, let alone evaluate them. Mayhaps someone here can help me out with this. Can anyone articulate for me in a non-metaphorical way what it means to say that a theory is action-guiding?
A much-anticipated announcement from Russ Shafer-Landau:
The annual metaethics workshop that's long been held at UW-Madison is now moving (along with yours truly) to UNC Chapel Hill. There will be no workshop in Madison this year. The dates of this year's workshop are Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2015.
Morality is not exclusively deontic. There are, after all, many things that are morally good to do though not required, or morally bad though not forbidden. However, a deontic conception has gotten a grip on the contemporary conception of interpersonal morality, or morality insofar as it has to do with proper relations between persons in virtue of their personality. One presently popular conception of interpersonal morality runs along these lines: Interpersonal morality consists in obligations or duties that are incumbent on all persons; to have a duty is to be accountable to somebody. If I am accountable to somebody, then she has standing or authority to demand my compliance; and to exercise this authority is to be disposed to respond to noncompliance with Strawsonian reactive attitudes and practices expressive of them.
In the last chapter of my book, How We Hope, I identified a common interpersonal attitude that eludes deontic characterization: disappointment in a person, or feeling let down by a person. I proposed that holding people to demands is only one mode of interpersonal relation, and that placing hope in people is another. Demanding involves a disposition to the central Strawsonian reactive attitudes of resentment, indignation, and guilt (and perhaps contempt and shame, which I will come in a bit); placing hope involves a disposition to disappointment (and perhaps some positive interpersonal feelings like gratitude and admiration, which I will also come to later).
Over the last decade, I have been developing an interconnected set of claims and arguments concerning the second-personal character of central moral phenomena. My focus has been the deontic moral notions of obligation, duty, right, wrong, rights, and so on, which I have argued are distinguished by their conceptual connection to accountability and to the Strawsonian reactive attitudes through which we hold one another and ourselves answerable (Strawson, “Freedom and Resentment”). Two central tenets are, first, that it is a conceptual truth that an act is wrong if, and only if, it is an act of a kind that it would blameworthy to perform without excuse. (Since all other deontic notions can be defined in terms of wrongness (and wronging), this means that all deontic ideas are tied to blameworthiness.) Second, blame is a reactive attitude that implicitly addresses a demand to its object, presupposes the authority to do so, and bids for its object to acknowledge this authority and hold himself accountable for his action. It is the implicit element of address that makes reactive attitudes second personal (or, as Strawson says, “interpersonal”). Reactive attitudes are felt from a presupposed perspective of relationship (better, relating) to their objects.
More recently, I have begun to do some work on a group of reactive attitudes that have the same second-personal, reciprocation-seeking structure, but that are unlike accountability-seeking deontic reactive attitudes like blame, resentment, and guilt.
Here’s an argument against subjectivism about moral wrongness I’ve been kicking around. (By ‘subjectivism’ here I just mean any theory which is not “objective”—that is, a subjective theory is one that has it that that in virtue of which one's behavior is wrong (when it is wrong) is either one’s beliefs about, or one’s evidence concerning, one’s situation.) I thought I’d post it and see if it has any legs.
Helen Frowe wrote me yesterday to try to understand better my position on how to count the agent’s interest in a trolley switching case. The text she was trying to understand was a piece I co-wrote with David Wasserman, called “Agents, Impartiality, and the Priority of Claims Over Duties; Diagnosing Why Thomson Still Gets the Trolley Problem Wrong by Appeal to the ‘Mechanics of Claims,’” Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2012). Thinking about how to answer her brought me to consider an interesting case I hadn’t really thought about before. So I post it here on Pea Soup to invite replies to my tentative read on how to handle this case.
I am happy to announce that our next Featured Philosopher is Stephen Darwall, who is currently the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. His post titled "Second-Personal Attitudes of the Heart" will be up for discussion on Monday. Please stop by then to join the discussion!