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Are obligations of collective agents—such as states, businesses, and non-profits—ever overdemanding? I argue they are not. I consider two seemingly attractive routes to collective overdemandingness: that an obligation is overdemanding on a collective just if the performance would be overdemanding for members; and that an obligation is overdemanding on a collective just if the performance would frustrate the collective’s permissible deep preferences. I reject these. Instead, collective overdemandingness complaints should be reinterpreted as complaints about inability or third-party costs. These are not the same as overdemandingness. Accordingly, we can ask an awful lot of collective agents.
In a famous passage from the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein describes a pupil who has been learning to write out various sequences of numbers in response to orders such as “+1” (for the natural numbers) and “+2” (for the series 0, 2, 4, 6, 8…). He has shown himself competent for numbers up to 1000, but when we have him continue the “+2” sequence beyond 1000, he writes the numerals 1004, 1008, 1012. As Wittgenstein describes the case:
We say to him, “Look what you’re doing!” — He doesn’t understand us. We say “You should have added two; look how you began the series!” — He answers: “Yes! Isn’t it right? I thought that’s how I should [sollen] do it. — Or suppose he were to say, pointing to the series, “But I went on in the same way!”
The passage continues:
— It would now be no use to us to say “But don’t you see…?” — and repeat for him the old explanations and examples. — In such a case, we might perhaps say: this person naturally understands our order, once given our explanations, as we would understand the order “Add 2 up to 1000, 4 up to 2000, 6 up to 3000, and so on.”
In this article, I discuss a trivialization worry for Hartry Field’s official formulation of the access problem for mathematical realists, which was pointed out by Øystein Linnebo (and has recently been made much of by Justin Clarke-Doane). I argue that various attempted reformulations of the Benacerraf problem fail to block trivialization, but that access worriers can better defend themselves by sticking closer to Hartry Field’s initial informal characterization of the access problem in terms of (something like) general epistemic norms of coincidence avoidance.
The International Association for the Study of Pain’s (IASP) definition of “pain” defines it as a subjective experience. The Note accompanying the definition emphasizes that, as such, pains are not to be identified with objective conditions of body parts (such as actual or potential tissue damage). Nevertheless, it goes on to state that a pain “is unquestionably a sensation in a part or parts of the body, but it is also always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience.” This generates a puzzle that philosophers have been well familiar with: how to understand our utterances and judgments attributing pain to body parts. (The puzzle is, of course, general extending to all sensations routinely located in body parts.) This work tackles this puzzle. I go over various options specifying the truth-conditions for pain-attributing judgments and, at the end, make my own recommendation which is an adverbialist, qualia-friendly proposal with completely naturalistic credentials that is also compatible with forms of weak intentionalism. The results are generalizable to other bodily sensations and can be used to illustrate, quite generally, the viability of a qualia-friendly adverbialist (but naturalist and weakly intentionalist) account of perception.
The Will Theory of Rights says that having control over another’s duties grounds rights. The Will Theory has commonly been objected to on the grounds that it undergenerates right-ascriptions along three fronts. This paper systematically examines a range of positions open to the Will Theory in response to these counterexamples, while being faithful to the Will Theory’s focus on normative control. It argues that of the seemingly plausible ways the defender of the Will Theory can proceed, one cannot both be faithful to the theory’s focus on normative control as the grounds of rights and achieve extensional adequacy.
This is a contribution to the symposium on Herman Cappelen’s book Fixing Language. Cappelen proposes a metasemantic framework—the “Austerity Framework”—within which to understand the general phenomenon of conceptual engineering. The proposed framework is austere in the sense that it makes no reference to concepts. Conceptual engineering is then given a “worldly” construal according to which conceptual engineering is a process that operates on the world. I argue, contra Cappelen, that an adequate theory of conceptual engineering must make reference to concepts. This is because concepts are required to account for topic continuity, a phenomenon which lies at the heart of projects in conceptual engineering. I argue that Cappelen’s own account of topic continuity is inadequate as a result of the austerity of his metasemantic framework, and that his worldly construal of conceptual engineering is untenable.
It is well known that Husserl considered phenomenology to be First Philosophy—the ultimate science. For Husserl, this means that phenomenology must clarify the ultimate phenomenological-epistemological principle that leads to ultimate elucidation. But what is this ultimate principle and what does ultimate elucidation mean? It is the aim of this paper to answer these questions. In section 2, we shall discuss what role Husserl’s principle of all principles can play in the quest for ultimate elucidation and what it means for a principle to be ultimately elucidating (letztaufklärend) and ultimately elucidated (letztaufgeklärt). We will see that the Husserlian thesis that originary presentive intuitions are an immediate and the ultimate source of justification qualifies as the ultimate epistemological principle.
Interpreting Bernard Williams’s ethical philosophy is not easy. His style is deceptively conversational; apparently direct, yet argumentatively inexplicit and allusive. He is moreover committed to evading ready-made philosophical “-isms.” All this reinforces the already distinct impression that the structure of his philosophy is a web of interrelated commitments where none has unique priority. Against this impression, however, I will venture that the contours of his philosophy become clearest if one considers that there is a single, unchanging root conviction from which his ethical philosophy grows. Despite the perpetual motion of his philosophical thought—its erudition, originality, range, and unceasing forward momentum—still, I contend, there is something unchanging at the heart of it. I will show this by reference to three signature theses: internal reasons, the relativism of distance, and the porous borders of philosophy and history. I will argue that the root conviction of which these are the fruits is the conviction that the constraints of universal rationality seriously underdetermine how one should live. This, I believe, is the vision of the human ethical condition that constitutes the largely inexplicit yet utterly fundamental presupposition beneath Williams’s ethical philosophy taken as a whole. I label the object of this root conviction ethical freedom, and thus portray Williams as a philosopher of ethical freedom.
I argue that using information from a cognitive representation to guide the performance of a primary task is sufficient for intellectual attention, and that this account of attention is endorsed by scientists working in the refreshing, n-back, and retro-cue paradigms. I build on the work of Wayne Wu (2014), who developed a similarly motivated account, but for perceptual attention rather than intellectual attention. The way that I build on Wu’s account provides a principled way of responding to Watzl’s (2011a, 2017) challenge to Wu, according to which Wu’s style of account is unintuitively broad. The fact that I find unity in the practice of science puts us in a position to resist the claim that scientists studying intellectual attention are frequently failing to study the same thing.
Many say that ontological disputes are defective because they are unimportant or without substance. In this paper, we defend ontological disputes from the charge, with a special focus on disputes over the existence of composite objects. Disputes over the existence of composite objects, we argue, have a number of substantive implications across a variety of topics in metaphysics, science, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Since the disputes over the existence of composite objects have these substantive implications, they are themselves substantive.
Lange (2000) famously argues that although Jeffrey Conditionalization is non-commutative over evidence, it’s not defective in virtue of this feature. Since reversing the order of the evidence in a sequence of updates that don’t commute does not reverse the order of the experiences that underwrite these revisions, the conditions required to generate commutativity failure at the level of experience will fail to hold in cases where we get commutativity failure at the level of evidence. If our interest in commutativity is, fundamentally, an interest in the order-invariance of information, an updating sequence that does not violate such a principle at the more fundamental level of experiential information should not be deemed defective. This paper claims that Lange’s argument fails as a general defense of the Jeffrey framework. Lange’s argument entails that the inputs to the Jeffrey framework differ from those of classical Bayesian Conditionalization in a way that makes them defective. Therefore, either the Jeffrey framework is defective in virtue of not commuting its inputs, or else it is defective in virtue of commuting the wrong kinds of ones.
This paper proposes a new framework for thinking about hope, with certain unexpected consequences. Specifically, I argue that a shift in focus from locutions like “x hopes that” and “x is hoping that” to “x is hopeful that” and “x has hope that” can improve our understanding of hope. This approach, which emphasizes hopefulness as the central concept, turns out to be more revealing and fruitful in tackling some of the issues that philosophers have raised about hope, such as the question of how hope can be distinguished from despair or how people can have differing strengths in hope. It also allows us to see that many current accounts of hope, far from being rivals, are actually compatible with one another.
Friederike Moltmann has recently proposed an account of truth-bearers that draws on Kazimierz Twardowski’s action/product distinction. Her account is meant to provide a third way between the dominant view of primary truth-bearers as mind-independent entities and the recently revived construal of them as mental or linguistic acts. This paper argues that there is no room for Twardowskian accounts because they are based on a notion of “nonenduring product” that defies comprehension, and no need for them because the linguistic data that Twardowskians take to refute the act-theoretic approach can, in fact, be handled by that approach.
It is has been argued that there is a problem with moral testimony: testimony is deferential, and basing judgments and actions on deferentially acquired knowledge prevents them from having moral worth. What morality perhaps requires of us, then, is that we understand why a proposition is true, but this is something that cannot be acquired through testimony. I argue here that testimony can be both deferential as well as cooperative, and that one can acquire moral understanding through cooperative testimony. The problem of moral testimony is thus not a problem with testimony generally, but a problem of deferential testimony specifically.
Empirical work on motivated reasoning suggests that our judgments are influenced to a surprising extent by our wants, desires, and preferences (Kahan 2016; Lord, Ross, and Lepper 1979; Molden and Higgins 2012; Taber and Lodge 2006). How should we evaluate the epistemic status of beliefs formed through motivated reasoning? For example, are such beliefs epistemically justified? Are they candidates for knowledge? In liberal democracies, these questions are increasingly controversial as well as politically timely (Beebe et al. 2018; Lynch Forthcoming, 2018; Slothuus and de Vreese 2010). And yet, the epistemological significance of motivated reasoning has been almost entirely ignored by those working in mainstream epistemology. We aim to rectify this oversight. Using politically motivated reasoning as a case study, we show how motivated reasoning gives rise to three distinct kinds of skeptical challenges. We conclude by showing how the skeptical import of motivated reasoning has some important ramifications for how we should think about the demands of intellectual humility.
Our main focus in this paper is Herman Cappelen’s claim, defended in Fixing Language, that reference is radically inscrutable. We argue that Cappelen’s inscrutability thesis should be rejected. We also highlight how rejecting inscrutability undermines Cappelen’s most radical conclusions about conceptual engineering. In addition, we raise a worry about his positive account of topic continuity through inquiry and debate.
Democratic institutions are appealing means of making publicly justified social choices. By allowing participation by all citizens, democracy can accommodate diversity among citizens, and by considering the perspectives of all, via ballots or debate, democratic results can approximate what the balance of reasons favors. I consider whether, and under what conditions, democratic institutions might reliably make publicly justified social decisions. I argue that conventional accounts of democracy, constituted by voting or deliberation, are unlikely to be effective public justification mechanisms. I conclude that the limitations of conventional mechanisms can be ameliorated through the use of lotteries instead of elections.
The possibility of error conditions the possibility of normative principles. I argue that extant interpretations of this condition undermine the possibility of normative principles for our action because they implicitly treat error as a perfection of an action. I then explain how a constitutivist metaphysics of capacities explains why error is an imperfection of an action. Finally, I describe and defend the interpretation of the error condition which follows.
Many accounts of the morality of abortion assume that early fetuses must all have or lack moral status in virtue of developmental features that they share. Our actual attitudes toward early fetuses don’t reflect this all-or-nothing assumption. If we start with the assumption that our attitudes toward fetuses are accurately tracking their value, then we need an account of fetal moral status that can explain why it is appropriate to love some fetuses but not others. I argue that a fetus can come to have moral claims on persons who have taken up the activity of person-creation.
Certain hypotheses cannot be directly confirmed for theoretical, practical, or moral reasons. For some of these hypotheses, however, there might be a workaround: confirmation based on analogical reasoning. In this paper we take up Dardashti, Hartmann, Thébault, and Winsberg’s (2019) idea of analyzing confirmation based on analogical inference Bayesian style. We identify three types of confirmation by analogy and show that Dardashti et al.’s approach can cover two of them. We then highlight possible problems with their model as a general approach to analogical inference and argue that these problems can be avoided by supplementing Bayesian update with Jeffrey conditionalization.