Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 (and '18) in review

(Past annual reviews: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.)

I didn't get around to this last year due to being in the midst of an international move (not an easy process with a toddler, to put it mildly, but worth it nonetheless).  So I guess this post can serve to summarize my past two years of blogging...


Epistemology, Metaethics, and Mind

* Philosophical Expertise, Deference, and Intransigence argues that we should only be moved by peer disagreement (and related phenomena) when we take the other person's views to be evidence of what we ourselves would conclude upon ideal reflection.  So there's no epistemic pressure to defer to even your acknowledged "philosophical superiors" if their starting points are too different from your own.

* Why a related (intransigence-based) argument against cognitivism goes wrong.

On Parfit on Knowing What Matters - responding to Parfit's response to my paper. (Includes a summary of my original paper's central claims.)

Ambiguously Normative Testimony - why Bedke's objection to non-naturalism over-generalizes.

Normativity for Value Realists -- if you don't believe in (genuine) "Nazi value" you shouldn't believe in (genuine) "Nazi reasons" either.  (May have converted Norcross to normative realism!)

* Sub-experiences and Minimal Duration -- what's the best way to make sense of experiences that have a minimum duration?


Applied Ethics

* How to Make a Difference -- exposing the fallacy in claims that "individual action" is necessarily inefficacious in the face of global problems.

Three kinds of offsetting -- exploring what kinds of harms can (or cannot) be morally "offset", and why.

Worthless Harm-Prevention and Non-Existence -- how some great harms might nonetheless not be worthwhile to prevent.

Is Price-Gouging Good? - maybe!

Police Shootings: Mortal Threats vs Tragic Mistakes - how to tell if there are too many of the latter.

The Value of Academic Research -- there's more to it than Michael Huemer realizes.


Political Theory

Charity Vouchers: Decentralizing Public Spending with follow-up posts:
Philanthropy Vouchers and Public Debate: Political vs Civic Advocacy
What Compassionate Conservatism Could Be

Ideological Ascent and Asymmetry - can you always diagnose whether someone's political behaviour is "unreasonable" in a completely value-neutral way (abstracting away from the details of what's under dispute)?


Ethical Theory

Constitutive Instrumentality: a response to Lazar - how to make sense of fungible values.

* Is the 'separateness of persons' better understood as constraining our actions or our attitudes?  I argue for the latter.

* Negative Utility Monsters - a twist on the original case may serve to undermine its intuitive force.

Does Welfare have Diminishing Marginal Value? - an alternative (utilitarian-compatible) way to capture prioritarian intuitions: assign DMV not to welfare, but to the basic goods (e.g. happiness) that contribute to one's welfare.

Consequentialism, Moral Worth, and the Fitting/Fortunate Distinction - why consequentialists should not conflate "right reasons" with "consequentialist-recommended motivations".

Good Motives, Act-Features, and What Matters - how to understand talk of "right-making features".

When Killing is Worse than Letting Die -- when the victim is more salient, (all else equal) the harmful act reveals a worse quality of will.  In other cases, there may be no moral difference between killing vs letting die. (Related: Options without Constraints at PEA Soup.)

Actualism, Evaluation and Prerogatives - addresses an objection from Pete Graham.

The Aim(s) of Practical Deliberation - is there a fact of the matter about "how high" we morally ought to aim?  I defend a pluralist answer.

Stacking Time-Relative Interests and Acquired Tastes and Necessary Interests -- exploring McMahan's account, and developing it in response to objections.


Off the blog...

Four of my previously-accepted papers appeared in print this year:
* 'Willpower Satisficing' (Noûs)
* 'Why Care About Non-Natural Reasons?' (APQ)
* 'Fittingness Objections to Consequentialism' (OUP)
* 'Overriding Virtue' (OUP)

I also wrote a new paper, 'Deontic Pluralism and the Right Amount of Good' (summarized here), that I'm pretty excited about.  (It aims to put to rest the debate between maximizers, satisficers, and scalar consequentialists, by showing how the views are best understood as not actually being in conflict with one other.)

Happy New Year!

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