Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

 

Agency without Action: On Responsibility for Omissions

Issue: • Author/s: Sofia Bonicalzi, Mario De Caro
Topics: Ethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action

In the last few years, there has been a growing philosophical interest in the problem of moral responsibility for omissions. Like actions, however, omissions are not all-of-a-kind. Recently, most of the research effort in this field has been devoted to the so-called unwitting omissions. However, in some cases, people make clear-eyed, or quasi-clear-eyed, decisions about not interfering with a given course of action potentially having unethical consequences (let’s call these decisions witting omissions). In this paper, we abstract away from the epistemic concerns that typically refer to unwitting omissions to…

Virtue, Character, and Moral Responsibility: Against the Monolithic View

Issue: • Author/s: Giulia Luvisotto, Johannes Roessler
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action

A traditional tenet of virtue ethics is that a proper moral assessment of an action needs to be informed by a view of the agent; in particular, a view of their virtues or vices, as exhibited in their action. This picture has been challenged on the grounds that it is revisionary and ill-motivated. The key claim is that we are ordinarily disposed to judge the moral merits of particular actions independently of any view of the character of the agent, and that there is nothing wrong with that practice. In this paper, we identify…

Moral Perception Defended

Issue: Issue 01 • Author/s: Robert Audi
Topics: Ethics

This paper outlines my theory of moral perception, extends the theory beyond its previous statements, and defends it from a number of objections posed in the literature. The paper distinguishes the perceptible from the perceptual; develops a structural analogy between perception and action; explains how moral perception, despite its normative status, can be causal in the way appropriate to genuine perception; clarifies the respects in which moral perception is representational; and indicates how it provides an objective basis for moral knowledge. In the light of this account of moral perception,…

Davidson on the Objectivity of Values and Reasons [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 05 • Author/s: Pascal Engel
Topics: Ethics, History of Analytic Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

Although he did not write on ethics, Davidson wrote a few papers on the objectivity of values. His argument rests on his holistic conception of interpretation of desires. I examine whether this argument can be sufficient for his objectivism about values. And supposing that the argument were correct, would it entail a form of realism about normativity and reasons? I argue that it falls short of giving us a genuine form of moral realism. My case will rest on an examination of Davidson’s conception of value in relation to what…

When THUNCing Trumps Thinking: What Distant Alternative Worlds Can Tell Us About the Real World [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Stephan Lewandowsky, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Scott Brophy
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Political philosophy

By and large, our cognition is a truth-tracking device. There is much evidence that people’s cognition can be optimal in many circumstances. Non-conventional forms of cognition, such as conspiracist ideation and belief in the paranormal, are considered less suited as a reality-tracking device. We suggest that actual conspiracies are preferentially identified by conventional cognition, whereas non-existent conspiracies that are the objects of conspiracy theories fall within the domain of conspiracist cognition. We explore the implications of this suggestion through an analysis of President Donald Trump’s Twitter discourse.

The Study of Conspiracy Theories [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Joseph E. Uscinski
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Political philosophy

The study of conspiracy theories has undergone a drastic transformation in the last decade. While early scholarly treatments relied on historical cases and cultural analyses, more recent works focus on the individuals who subscribe either to specific conspiracy beliefs or to more generalized conspiratorial thinking. This shift in focus presents scholars with an opportunity to learn more about how and why conspiracy theories gain followers. But also, this new focus presents dangers which have yet to be fully considered by the psychologists, social-psychologists, and political scientists spearheading the research. In…

Is a Unified Account of Conspiracy Theories Possible? [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Philippe Huneman, Marion Vorms
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Theoretical philosophy

This paper proposes a critical assessment of the concept of “conspiracy theory” as a coherent object of investigation, and evaluates the prospects for an integration of various avenues of research—sociological, epistemological, psychological—that deal with it. Because of the threat posed by conspiracy theories to public health and political stability, academic efforts to understand the sociological and cognitive basis for the adoption of such views, as well as their epistemological flaws, are undoubtedly needed. But the preliminary question of the unity, and of the specificity of the class of things called…

Joining the Conspiracy [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 06 • Author/s: Lee Basham
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Accompanying the accusation of malevolent political conspiracy is the accusation of cover-up of these conspiracies by leading institutions of public information; mass media and national law enforcement. A common response to this accusation is that these institutions of public information will reliably reveal such political conspiracies, not cover them up. Unfortunately, the best arguments for this hope are now widely recognized to fail. Further, cover-up does not require descending control of the media by conspirators. The problem is much more complex, one endemic to our information hierarchies. This includes the…

On the Wrongness of Human Extinction

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Simon Beard, Patrick Kaczmarek
Topics: Ethics

In recent papers, Elizabeth Finneron-Burns and Johann Frick have both argued that it is not a wrong-making feature of human extinction that it would cause many potential people with lives worth living never to be born, and hence that causing human extinction would be, in at least one way, less wrong than many have thought. In making these arguments, both assume that merely possible future people cannot be harmed by their nonexistence, and thus do not have any claim to be brought into existence. In this paper, we raise objections…

Choosing Who Lives our Life

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Luca Stroppa
Topics: Ethics, Metaphysics

The relationship between Parfit’s theory of Personal Identity and his research on Population Ethics is underexplored. In this paper I both examine this relationship and support the principle stating that it is moral to cause the greatest total wellbeing. Once introduced the basic concepts of Population Ethics and Parfit’s theory of Personal Identity, I report Parfit’s distinction between Different Number Choices, that affect both the number and the identity of future people, and Same Number Choices, that affect only future people’s identity. Parfit underlines how, in Different Number Choices, it…
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