Monday, August 24, 2020

Synopsis of Parfit's Ethics

I previously shared my manuscript on Parfit's Ethics.  But I figure I might as well offer a bit more detail about what interesting content can be found in each chapter, in hopes of enticing a few more readers to give it a look.

[Updated chapter numbers to reflect that CUP starts counting from 1 at the "Introduction".]  

2. Rationality and Objectivity - A simple summary of Parfit's arguments against Rational Egoism and Normative Subjectivism.  Briefly evaluates the arguments against Parfit's non-naturalist normative realism.

3. Distributive Justice - Explains Parfit's priority view, and suggests a way to improve upon it (that basic goods or welfare contributors, rather than welfare itself, might have diminishing marginal value).  Explains away the arguments of anti-aggregationists.  Summarizes Parfit's views on "moral mathematics" and collective harm. 

4. Character and Consequence - Explains "rational irrationality", and extends it to critique Parfit's understanding of "blameless wrongdoing" (or virtuously-acquired viciousness). Defends self-effacing moral theories.  Assesses Parfit's argument that common-sense morality is directly self-defeating.

5. The Triple Theory - Assesses Parfit's Triple Theory, including a critique of the underlying motivation for his convergence-seeking project.

6. Personal Identity - Summarizes Parfit's key arguments for reductionism about personal identity, and adds a related "container/content" argument of my own (in section 6.1).  Along the way, also argues (i) that Parfit was mistaken to view reductionism as metaphysically contingent, and (ii) that Lewis' 4-D view is just a terminological variant of Parfit's reductionism.

7. Population Ethics - Briefly surveys the Non-Identity Problem and the Repugnant Conclusion (specifically, whether it can be avoided without having even worse implications).


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