Saturday, July 23, 2011

Consequentialism and Individual Impact

Kagan has a fun new paper in Philosophy & Public Affairs, 'Do I Make a Difference?', addressing two kinds of cases where act consequentialism seems to condone collectively bad outcomes because each individual's contribution appears to make no difference.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guest Post: An advertisement for Individual Concepts

[This post is by guest blogger Tristan Haze of Sprachlogik.]

We have concepts of particular objects. The recognition of this piece of common sense enables us to solve a cardinal problem in the philosophy of language. Millianism, the view that the semantic content of a proper name is simply its referent, is apparently refuted by Frege's Puzzle (cf. Frege 1952). The major alternative, descriptivism - which comes in several varieties - is apparently refuted by Kripke's famous arguments (cf. Kripke 1980). The very natural view that names are associated with individual concepts allows us to solve Frege's Puzzle and accept Kripke's arguments against descriptivism, as well as his rigid designation thesis, with remarkable ease.

Noted without comment [updated]

An... interesting... combination of links to read together: (ht: Helen)

(1) Jason Stanley on Silencing

(2) "Feminist" philosopher "jj" dismissing the testimony of female graduate students on the grounds that "[t]here are all sorts of power inequalities obtaining between students and professors, and many of them can lead to letters in defense of the attacked daddies."

(3) "I'm not a sexist but..."

Okay, one comment: "daddies"!?

Update: Robin Hanson has an interesting post on research suggesting a vicarious moral licensing effect, whereby "people are more willing to express prejudiced attitudes when their group members' past behavior has established nonprejudiced credentials." Worrisome.

For a much more extreme example of disrespect for female students from a self-identified "feminist" philosopher, see Leiter's disturbing report of a department's sexual harassment cover-up.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Open Question Argument

I'm sympathetic to the old-fashioned idea that reflection on normative concepts suffices to see that metaethical reductionism is a non-starter. I recently sketched a "normative Knowledge Argument" along these lines, but of course the most famous argument in this vein is Moore's Open Question Argument.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Neglected Interests

For all that people give lip service to ideals of moral equality, it's pretty clear that contemporary public discourse systematically discounts the interests of some people compared to others. Some examples off the top of my head: