• A Challenge for New Defenders of the Doctrine of Double Effect

      McBride, Mark (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • A Counterexample to Parfit's Rule Consequentialism

      Nebel, Jacob (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • A Danger of Definition

      Alfano, Mark (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-02)
      In this paper, I use an example from the history of philosophy to show how independently defining each side of a pair of contrary predicates is apt to lead to contradiction. In the Euthyphro, piety is defined as that which is loved by some of the gods while impiety is defined as that which is hated by some of the gods. Socrates points out that since the gods harbor contrary sentiments, some things are both pious and impious. But “pious” and “impious” are contrary predicates; they cannot simultaneously characterize the same thing. Euthyphro changes his definition, but the problem of recognizing emotional ambivalence is only side-stepped. I go on to show how contemporary philosophers run into a similar problem. According to Prinz, something is good if and only if we harbor positive sentiments towards it and bad if and only if we harbor negative sentiments towards it. Thus, if we are ambivalent towards something (if we harbor both positive and negative sentiments towards it), then it is both good and bad. Like “pious” and “impious”, “good” and “bad” are contraries. Next, according to the fitting-attitude theory first elaborated by Brentano and favored by contemporary meta-ethicists like Blackburn, Brandt, Ewing, Garcia, Gibbard, McDowell, and Wiggins, something is good if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of approbation, and something is bad if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of disapprobation. I argue that moral ambivalence is sometimes appropriate, i.e., that the correct response to some things is to both love and hate them. Hence, according to the fitting-attitudes theory, some things are both good and bad. I conclude by discussing a variety of ways in which the problem of ambivalence may be solved, suggesting that attitudes of approbation and disapprobation be further individuated by the reasons for them.
    • A Danger of Definition: Polar Predicates in Moral Theory

      Alfano, Mark (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-02)
      In this paper, I use an example from the history of philosophy to show how independently defining each side of a pair of contrary predicates is apt to lead to contradiction. In the Euthyphro, piety is defined as that which is loved by some of the gods while impiety is defined as that which is hated by some of the gods. Socrates points out that since the gods harbor contrary sentiments, some things are both pious and impious. But “pious” and “impious” are contrary predicates; they cannot simultaneously characterize the same thing. Euthyphro changes his definition, but the problem of recognizing emotional ambivalence is only side-stepped. I go on to show how contemporary philosophers run into a similar problem. According to Prinz, something is good if and only if we harbor positive sentiments towards it and bad if and only if we harbor negative sentiments towards it. Thus, if we are ambivalent towards something (if we harbor both positive and negative sentiments towards it), then it is both good and bad. Like “pious” and “impious”, “good” and “bad” are contraries. Next, according to the fitting-attitude theory first elaborated by Brentano and favored by contemporary meta-ethicists like Blackburn, Brandt, Ewing, Garcia, Gibbard, McDowell, and Wiggins, something is good if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of approbation, and something is bad if and only if it is a fitting (appropriate) object of disapprobation. I argue that moral ambivalence is sometimes appropriate, i.e., that the correct response to some things is to both love and hate them. Hence, according to the fitting-attitudes theory, some things are both good and bad. I conclude by discussing a variety of ways in which the problem of ambivalence may be solved, suggesting that attitudes of approbation and disapprobation be further individuated by the reasons for them.
    • A New Theory of Humean Reasons?

      Bedke, Matthew (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • A New Theory of Humean Reasons? A Critical Note on Schroeder's Hypotheticalism

      Bedke, Matthew (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • A Tripartite Theory of Love

      Shpall, Sam (USC School of Philosophy, 2018-01-03)
      Abstract here.
    • A Unified Moral Terrain?

      Everson, Stephen (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-01)
      In his book What We Owe to Each Other, Thomas Scanlon proposes what he calls a ‘contractualist’ explanation of what he describes as ‘a central part of the territory called morality’, i.e. our duties to other rational creatures. If Scanlon is right, the fact that another creature is rational generates a particular kind of moral constraint on how we may act towards it: one should ‘treat rational creatures only in ways that would be allowed by principles that they could not reasonably reject insofar as they too were seeking principles of mutual governance which other rational creatures could not reasonably reject . This is then used to explain what makes actions right, at least within his central moral area. Such actions will be right because they are permitted by principles that cannot reasonably be rejected. In this essay, I question both whether Scanlon succeeds in identifying a proper part of the moral terrain as a subject for his account and also what, if any, is the contractualist content of that account. I argue that he equivocates between two distinct and incompatible conceptions of the justifiability of principles. According to the first, justifiability is a relation between principles and people, whilst according to the second, for a principle to be justifiable is for it to be justified. For his explanation of morality to have any contractualist force, justifiability needs to be understood as a relation, but for that explanation to have any plausibility, justifiability must be understood nonrelationally. Because of this, the account is unstable and fails to describe any part of the moral landscape.
    • A View of Racism: 2016 and America’s Original Sin

      Mitchell-Yellin, Benjamin (USC School of Philosophy, 2018-01-03)
      Abstract here.
    • Ability and Volitional Incapacity

      Southwood, Nicholas; Gilabert, Pablo (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • Actualism Has Control Issues

      Cohen, Yishai; Timmerman, Travis (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      According to actualism, an agent ought to φ just in case what would happen if she were to φ is better than what would happen if she were to ~φ. We argue that actualism makes a morally irrelevant distinction between certain counterfactuals, given that an agent sometimes has the same kind of control over their truth-value. We then offer a substantive revision to actualism that avoids this morally irrelevant distinction by focusing on a certain kind of control that is available to an agent. Finally, we show how this revised view has two additional advantages over actualism.
    • Addressed Blame and Hostility

      De Mesel, Benjamin (USC School of Philosophy, 2020-03-25)
      Bagley (2017) sets out a dilemma for addressed blame, that is, blame addressed to its targets as an implicit demand for recognition. The dilemma arises when we ask whether offenders would actually appreciate this demand, via a sound deliberative route from their existing motivations. If they would, their offense reflects a deliberative mistake. If they wouldn't, addressing them is futile, and blame's emotional engagement seems unwarranted. Bagley wants to resolve the dilemma in such a way that addressed blame's distinctive elements of hostility and emotional engagement can be accounted for. I argue that Bagley's focus on the proleptic character of addressed blame helps to avoid the dilemma, but that Bagley has difficulties accounting for the element of hostility in addressed blame. I suggest that an alternative account of addressed blame (1) makes better sense of Bagley's paradigm example, (2) avoids Bagley's dilemma in the way Bagley's original solution does, because it preserves addressed blame's proleptic character, and (3) can account for addressed blame's elements of emotional engagement and hostility. . 
    • Addressed Blame and Hostility

      De Mesel, Benjamin; 85917 (University of Southern California, 2020-08-01)
      Benjamin Bagley ('Properly Proleptic Blame', Ethics 127, July 2017) sets out a dilemma for addressed blame, that is, blame addressed to its targets as an implicit demand for recognition. The dilemma arises when we ask whether offenders would actually appreciate this demand, via a sound deliberative route from their existing motivations. If they would, their offense reflects a deliberative mistake. If they wouldn't, addressing them is futile, and blame's emotional engagement seems unwarranted. Bagley wants to resolve the dilemma in such a way that addressed blame's distinctive elements of hostility and emotional engagement can be accounted for. I argue that Bagley's focus on the proleptic character of addressed blame helps to avoid the dilemma, but that Bagley has difficulties accounting for the element of hostility in addressed blame. I suggest that an alternative account of addressed blame makes better sense of Bagley's paradigm example, avoids Bagley's dilemma in the way Bagley's original solution does, because it preserves addressed blame's proleptic character, and can account for addressed blame's elements of emotional engagement and hostility.
    • Against Hirose's Argument for Saving the Greater Number

      Lee, Dong-Kyung (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • Against Institutional Luck Egalitarianism

      Nath, Rekha (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-05)
      Kok-Chor Tan has recently defended a novel theory of egalitarian distributive justice, institutional luck egalitarianism (ILE). On this theory, it is unjust for institutions to favor some individuals over others based on matters of luck. Tan takes his theory to preserve the intuitive appeal of luck egalitarianism while avoiding what he regards as absurd implications that face other versions of luck egalitarianism. Despite the centrality of the concept of institutional influence to his theory, Tan never spells out precisely what it means for an inequality to be produced by an institution. In this paper, I consider different conceptions of institutional influence that ILE might employ. It appears that however this concept is construed, ILE has serious problems. On some conceptions, the luck egalitarian character of the theory is undermined. On others, the theory gives rise to precisely the sorts of absurd implications facing other versions of luck egalitarianism that Tan takes his theory to avoid.
    • Against Jeffrey Howard on Entrapment

      Stanhope, Jonathan (USC School of Philosophy, 2019-06-24)
      Jeffrey Howard has recently argued that entrapment and similar phenomena are wrongful - and wrong the induced agent - because they violate a regulative obligation of respect for the first moral power (FMP, for short.) According to Howard, this obligation grounds a duty not to foreseeably increase the likelihood that another agent acts wrongly (DUTY, for short.) While I accept the existence of the more fundamental obligation, I try to show that it doesn't support DUTY. Therefore, it doesn't support the wrongfulness of entrapment and similar phenomena. I do this by offering a more nuanced account of FMP's value, and one more attuned to certain liberal thoughts about agency. I then suggest a fairly minimalist picture of what respect for FMP involves, but close in a constructive spirit by sketching an alternative argument for DUTY based on the telos of FMP.
    • Against Scanlon's Theory of the Strength of Practical Reasons

      Sampson, Eric (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No abstract.
    • Against the Being For Account of Normative Certitude

      Bykvist, Krister; Olson, Jonas (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-05)
      Just as we can be more or less certain about empirical matters, we can be more or less certain about normative matters. Recently, it has been argued that this is a challenge for noncognitivism about normativity. Michael Smith presented the challenge in a 2002 paper and James Lenman (2003) and Michael Ridge (2003, 2007) responded independently. Andrew Sepielli (forthcoming) has now joined the rescue operation. His basic idea is that noncognitivists should employ the notion of being for (Schroeder 2008) to account for normative certitude. We shall argue that the being for account of normative certitude is vulnerable to many problems shared by other noncognitivist theories. Furthermore, we shall argue that Sepielli’s account has its own problems: His favored normalization procedure for degrees of being for has highly problematic implications.
    • Against Vote Markets

      Archer, Alfred; Wilson, Alan T. (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No Abstract.
    • Against Vote Markets: A Reply to Freiman

      Archer, Alfred; Wilson, Alan T. (USC School of Philosophy, 2017-06-07)
      No Abstract.