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…

Human Enhancement and Reproductive Ethics on Generation Ships

Issue: • Author/s: Steven Umbrello, Maurizio Balistreri
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy

The past few years have seen a resurgence in the public interest in space flight and travel. Spurred mainly by the likes of technology billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the topic poses both unique scientific as well as ethical challenges. This paper looks at the concept of generation ships, conceptual behemoth ships whose goal is to bring a group of human settlers to distant exoplanets. These ships are designed to host multiple generations of people who will be born, live, and die on these ships long before they…

Hume on Free Will

Issue: • Author/s: Lorenzo Greco
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

In this essay, I discuss David Hume’s reasoning on free will as he presents it in A Treatise of Human Nature and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. I proceed by showing how Hume’s compatibilist solution acquires meaning in the light of his sentimentally based science of human nature, which conceives human beings as reasonable, social, and active creatures. Within Hume’s empiricist, naturalistic, and sceptical approach, we deal only with perceptions and never with things themselves, and human experience is structured in a causal order which allows us to organise both…

Locke on Free Will and Epistemic Responsibility

Issue: • Author/s: Samuel C. Rickless
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

This article summarizes John Locke’s considered views on freedom, explaining that freedom is a power of the mind to act in accordance with its volitions, that freedom is a power that can belong only to substances, that we have the freedom to will in many cases, including the power to hold our wills undetermined and thereby suspend the prosecution of our desires.  This is a seemingly reasonable account of how our minds work, and should work, when we make (important) decisions.  But Locke takes us to be morally responsible and…

Meta-Ethical Outlook on Animal Behaviours

Issue: • Author/s: Sanjit Chakraborty
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy

The nominal ground that entwines human beings and animal behaviours is unwilling to admit moral valuing as a non-human act. Just to nail it down explicitly, two clauses ramify the moral conscience of human beings as follows: a) Can non-humans be moral beings?, b) Unconscious animal behaviours go beyond any moral judgments. My approach aims to rebuff these anthropomorphic clauses by justifying animals’ moral beings and animals’ moral behaviours from a meta-ethical stance. A meta-ethical outlook may enable an analysis of ethical and normative views through the limit of moral…

Our Admiration for Exemplars and the Impartial Spectator Perspective: Moral Exemplarism and Adam Smith’s ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’

Issue: • Author/s: Karsten R. Stueber
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Philosophy of mind

This essay will discuss the philosophical viability of Linda Zagzebski’s refreshingly radical theory of moral exemplarism that attempts to elucidate the nature of human morality through an analysis of the structure of our admiration for morally exemplary individuals. After raising some systematic worries about exemplarism, I will turn to Adam Smith and his Theory of Moral Sentiments. There are indeed strands in Smith’s thoughts that contain an exemplarist flavor. Nevertheless, from the Smithian perspective that I favor, our moral concepts emerge from the everyday practice of holding each other morally…

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.
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