Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

While We're on the Topic of Sharon Street's Work...

...she has recently written three excellent papers that are more directly relevant to the aims of this blog:

-"If Everything Happens for a Reason, Then We Don't Know What Reasons Are: Why The Price of Theism is Normative Skepticism", in Bergmann, Michael and Patrick Kain, eds.  Challenges to Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution (OUP, forthcoming)

-"Does Anything Really Matter, or Did We Just Evolve to Think So?", in A. Byrne, J. Cohen, G. Rosen, and S. Shiffrin, eds. The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (forthcoming).

-"Nothing "Really" Matters, but That's Not What Matters", in Singer, Peter, ed. Does Anything Really Matter? Parfit on Objectivity (OUP, forthcoming).

In Which My Metaethical Intuitions Have Finally Found a Home

Street, Sharon. "Constructivism About Reasons", in Shafer-Landau, Russ (ed). Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 3 (Oxford: Clarendon, 2008), pp. 207-245.*


[*] For those interested: The paper should be read along with her important paper, "A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value", Phil. Studies 127:1 (Jan. 2006), pp. 109-166.   Of course, there has been much discussion of Steet's "Dilemma" paper since it first appeared. For an important recent defense of Street's dilemma, see Fraser, Benjamin James. "Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and the Reliability of Moral Cognition", Phil. Studies (forthcoming). The penultimate draft can be found here.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two Recent Issues of Res Philosophica to Check Out

Issues 1 and 4 of this year's volume of Res Philosophica focus on issues in philosophy of religion. Below are the tables of contents for each for your perusal:

-Vol. 4:
winner of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Eleanor Helms, The Objectivity of Faith: Kierkegaard's Critique of Fideism
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runner up of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Anna Strelis, The Intimacy between Reason and Emotion: Kierkegaard's "Simultaneity of Factors"
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3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen, Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective: Integrating Existence into Idealism
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4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jennifer Ryan Lockhart, Kierkegaard's Indirect Communication of Kant's Existential Moment
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5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Walter Wietzke, Practical Reason and the Imagination
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6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Robert Wyllie, Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith: The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
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7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Ryan West, Faith as a Passion and Virtue
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8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jason Kido Lopez, Kierkegaard's View of Despair: Paradoxical Psychology and Spiritual Therapy
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9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
David Diener, Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
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-Vol. 1:
articles
1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Alexander R. Pruss, Omnirationality
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2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Lynne Rudder Baker, Updating Anselm Again
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3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Nicholas Wolterstorff, C. S. Lewis on the Problem of Suffering
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4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Theories of Providence and Creation
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5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Brian Leftow, God’s Deontic Perfection
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6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Paul Draper, The Limitations of Pure Skeptical Theism
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7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Peter van Inwagen, C. S. Lewis’s Argument Against Naturalism
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tim Maudlin on Why Our Universe Appears Fine-Tuned for LIfe

Here.

H/T: Leiter Reports

Martin Smith's Recent Defense of the Parity Thesis

We recently noted Martin Smith's helpful overview of recent work in the epistemology of religion. Also worth reading is his recent defense of the thesis that belief in God has relevant and tight parallels with belief in an external world: "God and the External World" (Ratio 24:1 (2011), 65-77). Here's the abstract:
There are a number of apparent parallels between belief in God and belief in the existence of an external world beyond our experiences. Both beliefs would seem to condition one's overall view of reality and one's place within it – and yet it is difficult to see how either can be defended. Neither belief is likely to receive a purely a priori defence and any empirical evidence that one cites either in favour of the existence of God or the existence of the external world would seem to blatantly beg the question against a doubter. I will explore just how far this parallel can be pushed by examining some strategies for resisting external world scepticism.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Borrowing from Singer to Help Out Kant

Here are two standard criticisms of Kant's ethics:

(i) Kant thought that humans have intrinsic value and dignity in virtue of their autonomy, and that this, in turn, requires libertarian freedom. But if so, then to the extent that we have reason to doubt that we have such freedom, then to that extent we have reason to doubt that Kant's ethics can account for the intrinsic value of humans.

(ii) Kant thought that only beings with the kind of autonomy of the sort gestured to above have intrinsic value. But if so, then since infants, the severely mentally disabled, and animals lack such autonomy, they thereby lack intrinsic value. But if this is what his account of ethics implies, then so much the worse for Kant's ethics.

These two criticisms clearly stem from Kant's thesis that

(IVA) Intrinsic value is grounded in the capacity for autonomy (which in turn is grounded in libertarian freedom and rational agency).

 It seems to me that there is a natural way to revise Kantian ethics so as to avoid at least the aforementioned criticisms, viz. by replacing IVA with

(IVI) Intrinsic value is grounded in the capacity for having interests.

On this account, the scope of the moral community can be expanded so as to encompass not just autonomous agents, but also infants, the severely mentally disabled, and non-human animals. For as Peter Singer has put it, all such beings have, at a minimum, the capacity for suffering and enjoyment, which in turn grounds the capacity for the minimal interests of pursuing enjoyment and avoiding suffering.[1]

I'm not claiming that such a revision to Kant's ethics is novel. All I'm saying is that it seems to be a natural revision to Kant's ethics that accounts for a large swath of widespread moral intuitions, and in a way that avoids at least the two powerful criticisms to Kant's ethics sketched above.

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[1] It's of course ironic to find the seeds of a Kantian theory in the ideas of an arch-consequentialist of the likes of Peter Singer!
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