FILOSOFISKA NOTISER


Filosofiska Notiser Årgång 11, Nr 1, 2024

More papers will (perhaps) be added to this issue later.


Asger Kirkeby-Hinrup
Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies needs Philosophers of Science

Abstract
Significant progress has been made over the last couple of decades with respect to empirical investigations of consciousness. The field of interdisciplinary consciousness studies is sprawling and growing at a rapid pace. There is, however, still much to figure out, and the philosophy of science has an important role to play in untangling the complex relationships between theory and empirical data. I start by providing a rough overview of the historical developments over the last couple of decades with an eye to how the research focus has shifted in that time. Next, I describe the current state of the field and highlight some of the core problems in interdisciplinary consciousness studies that would benefit from the involvement of philosophers of science. Finally, I summarize three contemporary endeavors in the attempt to assess and compare theories of consciousness. The goal is to convey that interdisciplinary consciousness studies is a field ripe for the application of philosophy of science, and hopefully inspire philosophers of science to come help us out.

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Tero Tulenheimo & Giuseppina Ronzitti
Democracy and Knowledge: Remarks on Brennan and Wikforss

Abstract
We take up Jason Brennan’s critique of democracy as formulated in his monograph Against Democracy (2016) and discuss the arguments that Åsa Wikforss presents against Brennan’s views in her book Därför demokrati (2021). Both authors grant the importance of knowledge for political decision-making, but they differ in their respective understandings of what counts as knowledge and they draw very different conclusions from the relevant knowledge requirement. Our general aim is to detect problems in democracy as well as in attempts to criticize democracy. We also briefly consider Brennan’s positive proposal to replace democracy by “epistocracy”, a form of government according to which only those citizens are entitled to vote who are “competent” in a sense to be discussed. Our aim is not to propagate any particular form of government. We merely wish to help the reader to recognize that democracy in particular involves a whole lot of assumptions that are in need of a better justification than what is normally provided.

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John Shand
Utilitarianism is Not a Moral Theory

Abstract
Utilitarianism in order to count as a moral theory would within the theory itself have to identify the moral and distinguish it from the amoral. It fails to do this without calling upon theoretical ethical considerations that are outside the ethical theory available to utilitarianism and such considerations are unexplained by utilitarianism. Utilitarianism fails to circumscribe the moral domain by not identifying what is essential for something to be a moral matter as opposed to an amoral matter. Therefore, utilitarianism taken in itself is not a moral theory.

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Filosofiska Notiser Årgång 10, Nr 1, 2023

This is a special issue of Filosofiska Notiser. Most of the papers are on metaethics, but the issue also includes some papers on other topics. More articles will (perhaps) be added later.


Kevin DeLapp
Metaethics and the Limits of Philosophy

Abstract
This paper is an investigation of the forces and commitments which drive disagreement between different metaethical affiliations; an investigation we might characterize as meta-metaethics. Various prominent theorists are sorted into one or another of three meta-metaethical camps. This sorting reveals that many instances of metaethical dispute involve theorists talking past one another, and that many theorists who might share a metaethical affiliation actually have more in common methodologically with their opponents than with their compatriots. The diversity of meta-metaethical conceptions is juxtaposed with the ongoing debate concerning Archimedean points in moral theory, and is also shown to be a new version of the general problem of the criterion. Resources from both those debates are then requisitioned to argue for a particular way of adjudicating between competing metaethical theories.

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Jussi Suikkanen
Normative Judgments, Motivation, and Evolution

Abstract
This paper first outlines a new taxonomy of different views concerning the relationship between normative judgments and motivation. In this taxonomy, according to the Type A views, a positive normative judgment concerning an action consists at least in part of motivation to do that action. According to the Type B views, motivation is never a constituent of a positive normative judgment even if such judgments have, due to the kind of states they are, a causal power to produce motivation in an agent. Finally, according to the Type C views, a normative judgment can produce motivation only with the help of a third mental state or a distinct substantial local disposition. This paper then outlines a novel evolutionary argument for the Type B views. If we assume that normative judgments’ ability to shape our motivations enabled efficient planning and co-operation, the psychological mechanism responsible for this adaptation should be understood as a proximal mechanism. This paper argues that it is then more likely that we evolved to make normative judgments that have direct causal powers to influence our motivations because such Type B mechanisms are more reliable than the Type C mechanisms. It also suggests that the Type A views are either empirically false or collapse into the Type B views.

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Charles Taliaferro
Meta-Ethics and Phenomenology
Does moral experience support Axiological Realism?


Abstract
I argue that axiological realism (there are objective values in ethics, aesthetics, and epistemology) receives prima facie evidential support from experience. This is routinely overlooked by advocates of the desire-preference account of value. I propose that in the absence of defeaters, phenomenology makes axiological realism more reasonable than its denial. Moreover, I contend that moral disagreements do not count as evidence against axiological realism.

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Hugh LaFollette
The Self-Made Person: Myth, Reality, and Promise

Abstract
Many of us think we are self-made. Some of us may be, but only qualifiedly. We do not make ourselves directly or from whole cloth. Each of us is shaped by myriad genetic, familial, cultural, and governmental forces. These forces do not eliminate self-control. They do, though, limit some options, expand others, and make achieving still others more or less difficult. Understanding these forces’ scope identifies constraints on our self-making, shows why we are indebted to people who enrich(ed) our lives, and informs and elevates control we do have. This knowledge empowers us to be morally more re-sponsible agents—ones who improve others’ lives, frequently by employing, supporting, and enhancing vital governmental institutions.

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Ingmar Persson
Double Troubles for Sidgwick’s Dualism of Practical Reason

Abstract
In The Point of View of the Universe, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer attempt to resolve Henry Sidgwick’s ‘Dualism of Practical Reason’ between the rationality of egoism and the rationality of universal benevolence by undermining the former. I argue that, according to their interpretation at least, this dualism involves two troublesome steps: from egoism to impartial-ity and from impartiality to universal benevolence. I try to show that their attempt to undermine the rationality of egoism fails but go on to sketch another way of undermining it and establish an impartiality or universaliz-ability that is arguably enshrined in the concept of morality. In contrast, the obstacles to the step from impartiality or universalizability to universal benevolence – to which de Lazari-Radek and Singer pay too scant attention – seem insurmountable. Questions about their hedonist conception of well-being are also raised.

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Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen
Detaching Betterness From Value

Abstract
This paper discusses whether, as a matter of logic, better-than relations require value-bearing relata. Must an x that is better than y be in any sense good (or, where x is less disvaluable than y, bad?) Examples I provide suggest the contrary—that it is possible for something to be better than something else without having any sort of value (other than betterness). Several reasons for being suspicious of this notion of better-than are considered and questioned.

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Alexander Miller and Seth Whittington
A Note on Error Theory and the Refined Moral Problem

Abstract
In this paper, we argue that “The Moral Problem” identified by Michael Smith in his book of that name as “the central organizing problem” of metaethics needs to be refined in order to accommodate moral error theories (in the style of J.L. Mackie), and we suggest a refinement that allows it to do this. We conclude by drawing out some consequences for the formulation of internalism about moral motivation.

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Thomas L. Carson
Axiological Realism, Axiological Objectivism, and Moral Experience: A Reply to Taliaferro

Abstract
I argue that 1. moral experience is not evidence for the truth of axiological realism as I define it, 2. because Taliaferro and I give different definitions of axiological realism, he criticizes me for views that I don’t hold, and 3. Taliaferro’s discussion of moral disagreement can’t account for disagreements in which people wield radically different moral concepts.

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Charles Pigden
What Thrasymachus Should Have Said

Abstract
In the Republic Thrasymachus argues that ‘justice is the advantage of the stronger’, that is, that the laws and conventions governing a society support the interests of the rulers or the ruling class. Hence acting justly – obeying those laws and customs of one's society in one's dealings with other people – is not necessarily, not usually or maybe not even ever in an agent’s best interests. This is a problem for Plato who wants to prove that it necessarily pays to be just (though as the Republic unfolds, he turns out to have a rather rarefied conception of self-interest as well as a rather rarefied conception of justice). So his spokesman, Socrates, leads Thrasymachus into a trap. Suppose (as surely happens from time to time) the rulers make a mistake and enact laws (or foster customs) that are not in their best interests. In that case justice won’t be to ‘the advantage of the stronger’ and their subjects’ acting justly won’t be in the rulers’ best interests. Clitophon offers Thrasymachus a lifeline. Perhaps justice is what the stronger think is in their interests. But Thrasymachus won’t have a bar of it. If a ruler makes a law or issues an order that is not in his interests, he thereby ceases to be a real ruler. So justice is always to the advantage of the stronger, since if it isn’t, the stronger cease to be strong. This is both decidedly silly and gets him into a lot of dialectical trouble. I suggest on Thrasymachus’ behalf a Darwinian response which entails that justice is usually or at least often to ‘the advantage of the stronger’. This in turn entails that it does not necessarily pay to be just, which negates Plato’s desired conclusion. Indeed, for many people it pays better to be relativisitically unjust, that is not to have a settled commitment to obeying the norms of one’s society. My reconstructed Thrasymachus will be less of a proto-fascist and more of a radical democrat than Plato’s Thrasymachus appears to have been.

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Mark van Roojen
Explaining Supervenience

Abstract
It is widely agreed that nonnaturalists incur a burden to explain how it is that the normative or moral must supervene on the nonnormative or nonmoral. This paper argues that every metaethical theory, including naturalist theories, must carry that burden in one way or another. Along the way it notes some troubles for making the naturalism/nonnaturalism distinction precise and relatedly for formulating the supervenience thesis to be explained. It then explores naturalistic options for explaining supervenience, suggests that some of these are better than others, and argues that parallel nonnaturalist theories can generate parallel explanations to those offered by naturalists.

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Christian B. Miller
Three Models of Practical Wisdom

Abstract
There are two leading models of practical wisdom in the contemporary analytic philosophy literature, the Standard Model and the Socratic Model. Recently, a neglected third option is starting to get some attention. On the Eliminativist Model, there is no virtue of practical wisdom at all. There are a variety of distinct sets of capacities which carry out the various functions associated with practical wisdom. But there is no trait that they jointly constitute. The goal of this paper is to set out what separates the three models, and what I take some of the main costs to be with the Standard and Socratic Models. While the Eliminativist Model might not be the clearly superior choice of the three models, it deserves to be taken far more seriously in future discussions of practical wisdom.

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