In this paper, on the basis of psychological research concerning psychopathy, I argue against one claim a moral rationalist—such as Michael Smith (1994)—might make. First, I distinguish three rationalist claims the moral rationalist might make: the rationalists' conceptual claim, the rationalists' substantial claim, and the practicality requirement. Then, I go on to discuss some of the subtle relations between these claims. I argue that, if we have reason to reject the rationalists' substantial claim, this gives us prima facie reason to reject the rationalists' conceptual claim as well, or else to accept the view that there are no substantial truths of morality. Next, I present evidence from psychological research on psychopaths, and argue that these considerations undermine the rationalists' substantial claim. Lastly, I consider a few replies on behalf of Smith, and conclude that they are not successful in defeating my arguments against the rationalists' substantial claim.
This paper explores the existential model of authenticity as being inferior to the ideal of authenticity offered in Plato's dialogues. I discuss similarities between Plato's account of authenticity and various accounts represented by continental philosophy. I argue that Plato's presentation of authenticity, through his enduring role as midwife, is superior in exhibiting the meaning of authenticity as well as in engaging the reader in the dynamic dialogue of authenticity.
This paper considers Hegel's analysis of conscientious conflict in the Phenomenology of Spirit as a resource for thinking through the possibility and nature of true community. Hegel's account speaks to the growing awareness that ideals of tolerance and of multicultural acceptance lack force in the face of the realities of intercultural conflict and violence that are increasingly manifest in our world. He shows that even with the best intentions, there can be no genuine community rooted in bare assertions of mutual acceptance. Differences and conflict are not only inescapable, but can be productive insofar as we learn to interpret the inevitable conflicts that arise from these differences as legitimate expressions of the true nature of a shared situation. Genuine communities cannot be built either upon the mere celebration or violent suppression of differences, but only as "we" learn to take conflict and differences seriously and learn from them who "we" are together and allow these discoveries to shape who we will become.
The electoral college is inconsistent with the underlying principles of the US constitution and the basic ideas of John Rawls' theory of justice. The college introduces an undefined variable into the basic structure and violates the Rawlsian idea of a stable society and public reason. Public reason involves constitutional essentials of the basic structure and constitutive of the overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines. Since the electoral college need not respect the majority vote of the citizenry nor publicly justify its vote, it violates the idea of public reason of citizens as free and equal since political discourse must be public and consistent with the principles implicit in the basic structure.
On the assumptions that omniscience is knowledge of all facts and that knowledge is some species of non-accidentally true belief, I construct an argument that no being is omniscient. Any omniscient being would have to know its own omniscience, but there appears to be no way for that to be known, whether for a being who is supposed merely to be omniscient, but otherwise unremarkable, or for a being with the full panoply of theistic attributes normally supposed to accompany omniscience. The argument is premised upon assumptions about knowledge and omniscience that appear minimal and mostly non-controversial. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe either that no being is omniscient or that even the apparently minimal assumptions are problematic.
Some claim Republicans' commitment to moral values helped them in the 2004 election. Lakoff suggests Democrats need to "frame" issues in terms of their moral values. Framing is one key to how people understand politics, and the suggestion that Democrats need to focus attention on their values has merit, but I believe Lakoff is missing something.
Work in social philosophy usually deals with "moral principles." Principles are stated in sentences, not in a single word or phrase the way values are. Articulating positions in terms of moral principles does not constitute an alternative way of framing views; rather, it is what I call an alternative "political metaframe"—a framework more precise and harder to manipulate than the language of moral values. There is an important philosophical reason for this.
A political metaframe is an overarching structure encompassing various different ways of framing a political issue. It is not simply that principles are less vague and ambiguous than values that makes a "principles" political metaframe superior to a "values" metaframe. The key difference is that principles sustain logical inferences, while values do not, and this is crucial to both the greater clarity of principles and to facilitating political dialogue. This is especially important in dealing with individual rights like those guaranteed by the Constitution—rights Ronald Dworkin says are "trumps."
The Bush administration's embrace of the value of national security (or, more generally, safety) allows no compromise with civil liberties: you are for national security or against it. You are not allowed to balance national security with other values. Such balancing is precisely what a political metaframe of logically interrelated principles allows. Whatever form the national security principle takes, it must avoid conflict with other principles. This requires balancing principles against one another. This is why principles constitute a far better vehicle for expressing our political commitments than values. This is especially true when dealing with what I call "megavalues" like "family values," which are really value clusters.
Cognitivism in the philosophy of emotion is the view that judgments are essential to any adequate understanding of the emotions. Non-cognitivists attempt to explain emotions independently of judgment. Against non-cognitivism, I deploy Peter Strawson's distinction between the "participant" and "objective" attitudes to show that the stark distinction non-cognitivists draw between emotions and triggering judgments cannot be maintained. I also counter efforts by non-cognitivists to dismiss cognitivism as mere "folk psychology" or methodologically suspect "conceptual analysis."
In this piece I consider three versions of the deprivation argument against abortion as put forth by Don Marquis, Jim Stone, and Fred Feldman. I extrapolate the general form of the deprivation argument against abortion based on these author's works and show how the general form of the argument is ultimately question begging. I then show that this flaw is present within Marquis's, Stone's, and Feldman's pieces. Ultimately, I conclude that if abortion is morally wrong, it is not demonstrated to be so by means of the deprivation argument against abortion.