This book challenges, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity. The author claims that we have a false view of our own nature; that it is often rational to act against our own best interests; that most of us have moral views that are directly self-defeating; and that, when we consider future generations the conclusions will often be disturbing. He concludes that moral non-religious moral philosophy is a young subject, with a promising but unpredictable future.
Semantics for Reasons is a book about what we mean when we talk about reasons. It not only brings together the theory of reasons and natural language semantics in original ways but also sketches out a litany of implications for metaethics and the philosophy of normativity. In their account of how the language of reasons works, Bryan R. Weaver and Kevin Scharp propose and defend a view called Question Under Discussion (QUD) Reasons Contextualism. They use this view to argue for a series of novel positions on the ontology of reasons, indexical facts, the reasons-to-be- rational debate, moral reasons, and the reasons-first approach.
Normative ethical theories generally purport to be explanatory—to tell us not just what is good, or what conduct is right, but why. Drawing on both historical and contemporary approaches, Mark Schroeder offers a distinctive picture of how such explanations must work, and of the specific commitments that they incur. According to Schroeder, explanatory moral theories can be perfectly general only if they are reductive, offering accounts of what it is for something to be good, right, or what someone ought to do. So ambitious, highly general normative ethical theorizing is continuous with metaethical inquiry. Moreover, he argues that such explanatory theories face a special challenge in accounting for reasons or obligations that are universally shared, and develops an autonomy-based strategy for meeting this challenge, in the case of requirements of rationality. Explaining the Reasons We Share pulls together over a decade of work by one of the leading figures in contemporary metaethics. One new and ten previously published papers weave together treatments of reasons, reduction, supervenience, instrumental rationality, and legislation, to paint a sharp contrast between two plausible but competing pictures of the nature and limits of moral explanation—one from Cudworth and one indebted to Kant. A substantive new introduction provides a map to reading these essays as a unified argument, and qualifies their conclusions in light of Schroeder's current views. Along with its sister volume, Expressing Our Attitudes, this volume advances the theme that metaethical inquiry is continuous with other areas of philosophy.
Practical reasoning in contemporary Western societies is characterised by an unprecedented degree of idiosyncrasy and demands of personal authenticity. This has resulted from the decline of traditional moral authorities, the rise of individualistic lifestyles, increasing multiculturalism and rapid technological advance. These developments have given rise to reflection on the notion of 'reasons of one's own', an examination of the intelligibility of reasons that are closely connected to a particular agent, and recognised as such by others, although not shared by them. Problems addressed by the contributors include; How to account for the cognitive overtones in moral and motivational language given the apparent 'agent-relativity' of reasons. How to retain the 'agent-relativity' of reasons for action given that they require articulation through a language shared by the community, and how to account for the practical rationality required for co-operation between persons in view of the idiosyncrasy of a person's motivating reasons. In dealing with these issues this book presents a range of investigative essays on the concept of reasons of one's own by leading authors from all relevant philosophical areas of expertise.
In 13 specially written essays, leading philosophers explore Kantian themes in moral and political philosophy that are prominent in the work of Thomas E. Hill, Jr., such as respect and self-respect, practical reason, conscience, and duty. In conclusion Hill offers an overview of his work and responses to the preceding essays.
Economics is often defined as the science of choice or human action. But choice and action are essentially mental phenomena, an aspect rarely mentioned in the economics discourse. Choice, while not always a conscious or rational process, is held to involve beliefs, desires, intentions and arguably even free will. Actions are often opposed to mere bodily movements, with the former being in some sense only understandable in reference to mental processes while the latter are understandable in entirely non-mental, physical terms. While philosophers have long concerned themselves with the connections between these concepts, economists have tended to steer clear of what might appear to be an a priori debate. At the same time, philosophers working on these important notions have tended to not dirty their hands with the empirical, real-world applications in which economists are specialized. This volume fills these gaps by bringing economists and philosophers of mind together to explore the intersection of their disciplines.
The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory is a major new reference work in ethical theory consisting of commissioned essays by leading moral philosophers. Ethical theories have always been of central importance to philosophy, and remain so; ethical theory is one of the most active areas of philosophical research and teaching today. Courses in ethics are taught in colleges and universities at all levels, and ethical theory is the organizing principle for all of them. The Handbook is divided into two parts, mirroring the field. The first part treats meta-ethical theory, which deals with theoretical questions about morality and moral judgment, including questions about moral language, the epistemology of moral belief, the truth aptness of moral claims, and so forth. The second part addresses normative theory, which deals with general moral issues, including the plausibility of various ethical theories and abstract principles of behavior. Examples of such theories are consequentialism and virtue theory. As with other Oxford Handbooks, the twenty-five contributors cover the field in a comprehensive and highly accessible way, while achieving three goals: exposition of central ideas, criticism of other approaches, and putting forth a distinct viewpoint.
Subjective accounts of well-being and reasons for action have a remarkable pedigree. The idea that normativity flows from what an agent cares about-that something is valuable because it is valued-has appealed to a wide range of great thinkers. But at the same time this idea has seemed to many of the best minds in ethics to be outrageous or worse, not least because it seems to threaten the status of morality. Mutual incomprehension looms over the discussion. From Valuing to Value, written by an influential former critic of subjectivism, owns up to the problematic features to which critics have pointed while arguing that such criticisms can be blunted and the overall view rendered defensible. In this collection of his essays David Sobel does not shrink from acknowledging the real tension between subjective views of reasons and morality, yet argues that such a tension does not undermine subjectivism. In this volume the fundamental commitments of subjectivism are clarified and revealed to be rather plausible and well-motivated, while the most influential criticisms of subjectivism are straightforwardly addressed and found wanting.
Reason's Grief takes W. B. Yeats's comment that we begin to live only when we have conceived life as tragedy as a call for a tragic ethics, something the modern West has yet to produce. Harris argues that we must turn away from religious understandings of tragedy and the human condition and realize that our species will occupy a very brief period of history, at some point to disappear without a trace. We must accept an ethical perspective that avoids pernicious fantasies about ultimate redemption but that sees tragic loss as a permanent and pervasive aspect of our daily lives, yet finds a way to think, feel and act with both passion and hope. Reason's Grief takes us back through the history of our thinking about value to find our way. The call is for nothing less than a paradigm shift for understanding both tragedy and ethics.
Philosophical ethics consists in the human endeavour to answer rationally the fundamental question of how we should live. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics explores the history of philosophical ethics in the western tradition from Homer until the present day. It provides a broad overview of the views of many of the main thinkers, schools, and periods, and includes in addition essays on topics such as autonomy and impartiality. The authors are international leaders in their field, and use their expertise and specialist knowledge to illuminate the relevance of their work to discussions in contemporary ethics. The essays are specially written for this volume, and in each case introduce the reader to the main lines of interpretation and criticism that have arisen in the professional history of philosophy over the past two or three decades.