Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011: My Web of Beliefs

Time for another year-end summary! (Cf. 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.) I'm posting it a little earlier this year because right after Christmas I'm off to the APA in search of a job. [If anyone happens to have a spare one lying around that they'd like to give me, that'd be most welcome!] So anyway, I expect this to be my final post of the year...

Normative Ethics

My favourite posts of the year were probably the series of three that I wrote on Caspar Hare's "morphing" argument for generalized benevolence. Good fun (including some contributions in the comments from Caspar himself).

Why Consequentialism? surveys some common arguments in favour of the moral theory (or family of theories). A taxonomy of various sub-options is presented in Varieties of Consequentialism. A couple of more recent posts explore the idea of Satisficing by Effort, and why we might be led beyond Scalar Consequentialism.

I posted drafts of my two central dissertation chapters, defending consequentialism against various "character-based" objections.

Consequentialism and Individual Impact explores various kinds of cases where act consequentialism seems to condone collectively bad outcomes because each individual's contribution appears to make no difference.

Natural Agents and Status-Quo Bias critically examines Sartorio's claim that there's some "moral inertia" against acting (e.g. to respectively cause and prevent two equally weighty harms).


The Moral Lottery critique's Street's epistemic objection to moral realism, arguing that the sense in which realists must consider themselves "lucky" to have true moral beliefs is not necessarily objectionable. This and related arguments are further developed in my paper draft, Knowing What Matters.

A reason by any other name... defends non-naturalist normative realism against the objection that non-natural properties couldn't possibly be of normative significance.

I then turn the tables by advancing The Normativity Objection to Metaethical Naturalism, including a normative version of Frank Jackson's famous 'Knowledge Argument'. This is followed by a defense of The Open Question Argument, and a sympathetic explanation of Horgan & Timmons' Moral Twin Earth argument.

Moral Judgments, 2Dism, and Attitudinal Commitments argues (against Henning's recent paper in Ethics) that 2-D semantics can't save moral naturalism. Nor can appeal to Elite Properties.

Epistemology and Metaphysics

In addition to the moral epistemology posts mentioned above, I also discuss The Kripke-Harman Dogmatism Paradox, and some thoughts on Formulating Theories of Peer Disagreement

Epiphenomenal Explanations points out a sense in which even causally inert properties (be they normative or phenomenal) can still feature in explanations.

Applied Ethics

I discuss The Puzzle of the Self-Torturer, suggesting that we can make progress on this puzzle for rational choice by first reframing it as an axiological puzzle.

What's Wrong With 'What Is Marriage?' offers a fairly thorough refutation of the latest anti-gay marriage arguments.

Neglected Interests brainstorms some of our most egregious failures to live up to ideals of moral equality.

Virtue and Anonymous Donation argues that it's not only consequentially better to publicize one's charitable behaviour, but it's also what the virtuous agent would do.

Welfarism vs. Appreciating Beauty explores the tension between the two.


Fishy Relativism exposes some silliness from Stanley Fish in the NY Times.

Why We Needn't Hold Politics Hostage to Metaphysics responds to more philosophical confusion in another popular magazine.

A fun open thread invited readers to share what they judge to be my biggest philosophical mistakes.

What to Install on a new Windows PC -- self-explanatory. (Written largely for my own future reference, but hopefully others may also find some useful tips in there.)

Merry Christmas, all!


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