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Showing papers in "Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy in 2017"


Journal ArticleDOI
Joseph Raz1
TL;DR: This article argued that there is no distinct form of instrumental reasoning or of instrumental rationality, and argued that instrumental reasons are not reasons to take the means to our ends, and that there are no distinct forms of instrumental rationalism.
Abstract: The paper distinguishes between instrumental reasons and instrumental rationality. It argues that instrumental reasons are not reasons to take the means to our ends. It further argues that there is no distinct form of instrumental reasoning or of instrumental rationality. In part the argument proceeds through a sympathetic examination of suggestions made by M. Bratman, J. Broome, and J. Wallace, though the accounts of instrumental rationality offered by the last two are criticised.

152 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors reconstructs what they take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism and argues that many of our highly presumptively warranted moral beliefs are immune to evolutionary influence and so can be used to assess and eventually resuscitate the epistemic merits of those that have been subject to such influence.
Abstract: This paper reconstructs what I take to be the central evolutionary debunking argument that underlies recent critiques of moral realism. The argument claims that given the extent of evolutionary influence on our moral faculties, and assuming the truth of moral realism, it would be a massive coincidence were our moral faculties reliable ones. Given this coincidence, any presumptive warrant enjoyed by our moral beliefs is defeated. So if moral realism is true, then we can have no warranted moral beliefs, and hence no moral knowledge. In response, I first develop what is perhaps the most natural reply on behalf of realism – namely, that many of our highly presumptively warranted moral beliefs are immune to evolutionary influence and so can be used to assess and eventually resuscitate the epistemic merits of those that have been subject to such influence. I then identify five distinct ways in which the charge of massive coincidence has been understood and defended. I argue that each interpretation is subject to serious worries. If I am right, these putative defeaters are themselves subject to defeat. Thus many of our moral beliefs continue to be highly warranted, even if moral realism is true.

98 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Neil Levy1
TL;DR: A distinction between attributability and self-disclosure can be found in this article, where the authors argue that the former is superior to the latter, because it alone can accommodate the relatively stringent epistemic conditions that any adequate theory of moral responsibility must recognize, and it alone allows to accommodate the intuitively powerful distinction between bad agents and blameworthy agents.
Abstract: ACCOUNTS OF MORAL responsibility come in two main flavors. There are accounts that hold that an agent is responsible for something (an act, omission, attitude, and so on) just in case that agent has--directly or indirectly--chosen that thing, and there are accounts that hold that an agent is responsible for something just in case that thing is appropriately attributable to her. Each kind of account explains many cases well, and each captures a great many of our pretheoretical intuitions about responsibility; each also yields, occasionally, somewhat counterintuitive results. Call these accounts volitionist and attributionist accounts of moral responsibility. Attributionism has a number of distinguished and able defenders. However, I shall argue, it is wrong: Volitionism is superior, because it alone can accommodate the relatively stringent epistemic conditions that any adequate theory of moral responsibility must recognize, and it alone can accommodate the intuitively powerful distinction between bad agents and blameworthy agents. Before outlining the contending accounts of moral responsibility, let me say a few words about what they are accounts of. In order to avoid the twin risks of begging the question against either account or simply talking past one another, we need a shared notion of moral responsibility. A fully adequate definition must await the development of a complete theory of moral responsibility, but the following condition upon such a theory will serve to guide our quest: To say that an agent is morally responsible (for an act, omission or attitude) is to say that the Strawsonian reactive attitudes are justified in relation to her with regard to that act, omission or attitude (Strawson 1962). That is, it is appropriate for observers to have certain attitudes in relation to her and her act, especially the attitudes, partly cognitive and partly constituted by emotion, of praise and blame. (1) It is a further question whether it would be appropriate to punish or reward the agent for her act, or even whether it would be appropriate to express the judgment. It may be that the expression of the reactive attitudes is justified under stronger, or merely different, conditions than those under which it is appropriate merely to have them, and it is with the latter that we are here exclusively concerned. (2) Attributionist and Volitionist Accounts of Moral Responsibility In a well-known paper, Gary Watson (2004b) distinguishes what he calls the two faces of responsibility. The first, which he calls the aretaic or attributability aspect of responsibility, is intimately linked to a self-disclosure view of moral responsibility. Someone is responsible, in this sense, if her action is expressive of who she is and where she stands on questions of value. The second face of responsibility Watson calls the accountability aspect. Watson argues that someone is accountable for an action if sanctions (or benefits; from now I shall concentrate on the negative case) are fairly applied to them as a consequence of it. We have defined moral responsibility in such manner as to exclude the question of the appropriateness of sanctions. That issue aside, Watson's distinction seems to map neatly onto the distinction between responsibility as understood by attributionism and responsibility as understood by volitionism. Whereas an act is attributable to an agent if it is expressive of who she is, agents are accountable for actions only if they had a reasonable opportunity directly or indirectly to avoid infringing the standards for the violation of which they are held responsible (Watson, 2004b: 276). Agents are able directly to avoid such an infringement if they are able to conform their acts to the relevant standard; they are able indirectly to avoid infringement if they were able to avoid being held to that standard at all. Thus, agents can be responsible for their failed actions in the absence of a capacity to conform to the relevant standard just in case they could have avoided the requirement in the first place--for instance, someone who accepts the role of a doctor, knowing what kinds of skills are required to occupy it competently, is not excused responsibility for harming her patients on the grounds that she lacked the skill to do better, so long as she had the opportunity to avoid accepting the role. …

79 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors consider the question of whether what an agent ought to do depends on the perspective of the agent's perspective, or is it perspective independent, and they refer to this concept by using the word "ought" without qualification for the sake of convenience.
Abstract: I MAGINE A DOCTOR WHO IS FACED with a patient's disease that she knows will lead to death unless treated shortly. (1) Two possible treatments are available: A and B. After careful consideration of the available evidence, the doctor concludes that treatment A will cure the patient, and B will kill him. Unbeknownst to her, however, in fact treatment B is the cure, while A will lead to the patient's death. What ought the doctor to do: give A or give B? Let us call facts about a person's beliefs, knowledge or evidence facts about that person's perspective. We may then ask more generally: Does what an agent ought to do depend on the agent's perspective, or is it perspective independent? Objectivists about "ought," such as G. E. Moore and J. J. Thomson, claim that "ought" is independent of the agent's perspective. (2) Hence, they would hold that the doctor ought to give treatment B--the one that in fact cures the patient. Perspectivists like H. A. Prichard and W. D. Ross, on the other hand, believe that "ought" depends on the perspective of the agent--a view that is sometimes spelled out in terms of the agent's actual beliefs, and sometimes in terms of the evidence available to the agent. (3) Both of these versions of perspectivism hold that the doctor ought to give A, not B. Others again try to solve the puzzle by distinguishing different senses of "ought." (4) According to them, all that we can say is that the doctor ought to give A, relative to her perspective, and that she ought to give B, relative to all the facts. I am willing to concede that it might be useful to speak of what an agent ought to do relative to certain considerations, and that different qualified notions of "ought" might be important in their own right. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a substantial question at issue between objectivists and perspectivists when it comes to what might be called the "overall ought" of practical deliberation. This is the concept involved in the deliberative question, "What ought I to do?" (or "What should I do?") and deliberative conclusions of the form, "I ought to [phi])" (or "I should [phi]"). (I take "ought" and "should" to be equivalent, but for simplicity's sake, I will mostly use "ought" in what follows.) Practical conclusions of this sort are supposed to guide rational decision-making and action directly. In other words, the "ought" at issue is the one that is appealed to in the common idea that it is irrational, or akratic, not to intend what one believes one ought to do. (5) Now, in order to make a rational decision guided by a belief that one ought to do something, one needs a univocal concept of "ought" that figures in such beliefs. It is perfectly consistent to believe, "I ought to [phi]), relative to X," and, "I ought not to [phi]), relative to Y," but one cannot rationally intend both to [phi] and not to [phi]). There must be one sense of "ought," the belief in which is the relevant one for decision-making. We need to be able to judge, "I ought to [phi], full stop." At any rate, this is what I shall assume in the following discussion. The concept that is (inter alia) used in such deliberative conclusions is sometimes called the "practical ought." (6) I think it is natural to consider the practical "ought" as the central, unqualified sense of "ought" and regard all other "oughts" as qualified senses. (7) This claim, however, will not function as a substantial assumption of the argument. This paper is about the question of whether the practical "ought" depends on perspective, and I will refer to this concept by using the word "ought" without qualification only for the sake of convenience. Against this background, we can understand objectivists and perspectivists as disagreeing about the question as to which of the qualified senses of "ought" that are relativized to a certain body of propositions (such as the body of all true propositions, all believed propositions or the propositions that constitute the agent's evidence) provides the correct truth conditions for the practical "ought": Objectivism: A ought to [phi] if, and only if, A ought to [phi] relative to all facts. …

58 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that the moral error theory implies that there are no epistemic reasons for belief, and that this is bad news for the error theory since no one knows that there is a thought when they are thinking, and no one know that they do not know everything.
Abstract: In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows that they do not know everything. And it could not be the case that we do not know that there is thought when we believe that there is thought and that we do not know that we do not know everything. I address several objections to the claim that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief. It might seem that arguing against the error theory on the grounds that it entails that no one knows anything is just providing a Moorean argument against the moral error theory. I show that even if my argument against the error theory is indeed a Moorean one, it avoids Streumer's, McPherson's and Olson's objections to previous Moorean arguments against the error theory and is a more powerful argument against the error theory than Moore's argument against external world skepticism is against external world skepticism.

48 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Mark Lukas1
TL;DR: The authors defend a simple unrestricted desire-based theory of welfare from the claim that some of our desires are irrelevant to how well our lives go and formulate the Irrelevant-Desires Problem and reject a few rationales for its key premise.
Abstract: Desire-satisfaction theories about welfare come in two main varieties: unrestricted and restricted. Both varieties hold that a person's welfare is determined entirely by the satisfactions and frustrations of his desires. But while the restricted theories count only some of a person’s desires as relevant to his well-being, the unrestricted theories count all of his desires as relevant. Because unrestricted theories count all desires as relevant they are vulnerable to a wide variety of counterexamples involving desires that seem obviously irrelevant. Derek Parfit offers a well-known example involving a stranger afflicted with what seems to be a fatal disease. Similar examples are offered by Thomas Scanlon, James Griffin, Shelly Kagan, and others. In this paper I defend a simple unrestricted desire-based theory of welfare from the claim that some of our desires are irrelevant to how well our lives go. I begin by introducing the theory I aim to defend. I then formulate the Irrelevant-Desires Problem and reject a few rationales for its key premise. I then consider and reject a few flawed responses to the problem. I finally offer an obvious but widely overlooked response: I bite the bullet. My overall goal is to dissuade those sympathetic to a desire-based approach to welfare from rejecting unrestricted forms of desire satisfactionism simply because some desires may seem irrelevant to how well our lives go.

41 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that achievementists should accept that one factor that affects how much the achievement of a goal contributes to one's welfare is the amount that one has invested in that goal, and not a function of how much effort one has put into achieving it.
Abstract: MANY PHILOSOPHERS HOLD that the achievement of one's goals can contribute to one's welfare apart from whatever independent contributions that the objects of those goals, or the processes by which they are achieved, make. (1) Call this the Achievement View, and call those who accept it achievementists. Below, I argue that achievementists should accept both (a) that one factor that affects how much the achievement of a goal contributes to one's welfare is the amount that one has invested in that goal, and (b) that the amount that one has invested in a goal is a function of how much one has personally sacrificed for its sake, not a function of how much effort one has put into achieving it. So I will, contrary to at least one achievementist (viz., Keller 2004, 36), be arguing against the view that the greater the amount of productive effort that goes into achieving a goal, the more its achievement contributes to one's welfare. Furthermore, I argue that the reason that the achievement of those goals for which one has personally sacrificed matters more to one's welfare is that, in general, the redemption of one's self-sacrifices in itself contributes to one's welfare. Lastly, I argue that the view that the redemption of one's self-sacrifices in itself contributes to one's welfare is plausible, independent of whether or not we find the Achievement View plausible. The paper has the following structure: In section 1, I explicate the Achievement View and its many forms. In section 2, I argue that the more one has invested in a goal, the more its achievement contributes to one's welfare. In section 3, I argue against taking investment in a goal to be a function of how much effort the agent has put into achieving it. Instead, we should, as I argue in section 4, take investment in a goal to be a function of how much the agent has personally sacrificed for its sake. In section 5, I argue that, in general, the redemption of one's self-sacrifices in itself contributes to one's welfare. I then end with some concluding remarks in section 6. 1. The Achievement View The Achievement View has many forms, but before examining them, here, again, is my official statement of the view: The Achievement View: The achievement of one's goals can contribute to one's welfare apart from whatever independent contributions that the objects of those goals, or the processes by which they are achieved, make. (2) Even non-achievementists would accept that it is in one's self-interest to achieve a goal insofar as either the object of that goal or the process by which it is achieved is something that would, for independent reasons, contribute to one's welfare. For instance, it may be that, in the process of trying to achieve a goal, one must exercise and develop certain human excellences or higher capacities. Given a perfectionist theory of welfare, this process will itself contribute to one's welfare, apart from whether or not one actually succeeds in achieving one's goal. To take another example, suppose that one's goal is to acquire riches. Such riches would likely contribute instrumentally to one's welfare, regardless of whether they are realized as an achievement or as a windfall. So, when one achieves a goal, the independent contribution that the object of that goal makes to one's welfare is the contribution that it would have made even had it instead been realized as a windfall. Furthermore, the independent contribution that the process by which the goal was achieved makes to one's welfare is the contribution that that process would have made even had it not resulted in any achievement. The achievementist, then, holds that in addition to the independent contributions made by the object of the goal and the process by which it was achieved, the achievement of the goal can contribute to one's welfare. Although some achievementists (e.g., Keller 2004, 27) hold that the achievement of one's goals in itself contributes to one's welfare, achievementists, as I have defined them, are not committed to this strong claim; they can take it or leave it. …

40 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that the enforcement approach better describes how coercion works, and elucidates factors that are often tacitly assumed by pressure accounts, and that it is more useful for explaining the social and political significance of coercion, and why coercion is thought to have the implications commonly associated with it.
Abstract: This essay differentiates two approaches to understanding the concept of coercion, and argues for the relative merits of the one currently out of fashion. The approach currently dominant in the philosophical literature treats threats as essential to coercion, and understands coercion in terms of the way threats alter the costs and benefits of an agent’s actions; I call this the “pressure” approach. It has largely superseded the “enforcement approach,” which focuses on the powers and actions of the coercer rather than the perspective of the coercee. The enforcement approach identifies coercion with certain uses of the kinds of powers that agents need to accumulate and wield in order to be able to make significant, credible threats. Though there is considerable overlap extensionally in the instances of coercion recognized by the two approaches, the enforcement approach encompasses some uses of power to coerce that do not involve threats (in particular some direct uses of physical force). It also circumscribes which threats should be counted as coercive, though notably it provides a picture of coercion that is non-moralized in its essentials. While there may be specific purposes for which a pressure account is to be preferred, I argue that the enforcement approach better describes how coercion works, and elucidates factors that are often tacitly assumed by pressure accounts. It also is more useful for explaining the social and political significance of coercion, and why coercion is thought to have the implications commonly associated with it. In particular, I argue that it helps us understand why uses of coercion are in general a matter of ethical significance, why state authority depends on commanding a monopoly on the right to use coercion, and why being coerced may reasonably provide one a defense against being held responsible for actions one is coerced into taking.

38 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors argue against a prominent account of subjective reasons, which makes what one has subjective reason to do and hence what it is rational to do, turn on matters outside or independent of one's perspective.
Abstract: Objective reasons are given by the facts. Subjective reasons are given by one’s perspective on the facts. Subjective reasons, not objective reasons, determine what it is rational to do. In this paper, I argue against a prominent account of subjective reasons. The problem with that account, I suggest, is that it makes what one has subjective reason to do, and hence what it is rational to do, turn on matters outside or independent of one’s perspective. After explaining and establishing this point, I offer a novel account of subjective reasons which avoids the problem.

37 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Jason Kawall1
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors present a set of basic objections to a paradigmatic set of such theories, namely, those virtue ethics according to which moral properties such as rightness and goodness (and their corresponding concepts) are to be explained in terms of the virtues or virtuous agents.
Abstract: IN RECENT DECADES THERE HAS BEEN a great deal of interest in virtue ethics, broadly construed There are, of course, many different such theories, and some dispute over what conditions a theory must meet to qualify as a virtue ethics (1) In what follows, I respond to a set of basic objections to a paradigmatic set of such theories--those virtue ethics according to which moral properties such as rightness and goodness (and their corresponding concepts) are to be explained in terms of the virtues or virtuous agents (and similarly with their corresponding concepts) The basic intuition underlying the objections is that our virtue concepts (or, indeed, the concept of a virtue, tout court) must be derivative from other, more fundamental moral concepts Similarly, the virtues themselves--as well as their value--are thought to be best understood in terms of the right or the good Virtue theorists have, in some way, confused cart and horse Consequentialists will treat the virtues as character traits that serve to maximize (or produce sufficient quantities of) the good, where the good is taken as explanatorily basic Deontologists will understand the virtues in terms of dispositions to respect and act in accordance with moral rules, or to perform morally right actions, where these moral rules or right actions are fundamental Furthermore, the virtues will be considered valuable just insofar as they involve such tendencies to maximize the good or to perform right actions In contrast, the forms of virtue ethics that I wish to defend would satisfy the following four conditions: (i) The concepts of rightness and goodness would be explained in terms of virtue concepts (or the concept of a virtuous agent) (ii) Rightness and goodness would be explained in terms of the virtues or virtuous agents (iii) The explanatory primacy of the virtues or virtuous agents (and virtue concepts) would reflect a metaphysical dependence of rightness and goodness upon the virtues or virtuous agents (iv) The virtues or virtuous agents themselves--as well as their value--could (but need not) be explained in terms of further states, such as health, eudaimonia, etc, but where these further states do not require an appeal to rightness or goodness (2) "Rightness" in the above can be taken as standing in for all deontic statuses (that is, for example, wrongness is also to be treated in terms of the virtues or perhaps the vices); similarly, "goodness" can be taken as standing in for badness, and other such axiological statuses One qualification is in order with respect to states such as eudaimonia or health These might appear to be instances of goodness; however here we can draw a distinction between the goodness of a kind (particularly as a good agent or good creature of some kind) as reflected in health or flourishing (one is a healthy human, or is leading a good human life), versus goodness tout court Only the latter instances of goodness are to be taken to be dependent upon the virtuous or virtuous agents for present purposes (3) It is worth stressing that not all theories that could plausibly be understood as forms of virtue ethics would satisfy the above conditions; the current goal is not to defend all possible virtue ethics Rather, we are examining what might be taken to be among the more radical possible forms of virtue ethics, particularly in treating the virtues as explanatorily prior both to rightness and to goodness tout court Why focus on these more radical forms? First, several prominent virtue ethics can be understood as satisfying the above conditions, including those of Michael Slote, Linda Zagzebski, and, perhaps (if controversially), Aristotle's paradigmatic virtue ethics (4) Beyond this, many of the arguments presented here could be taken on board by those defending more moderate forms of virtue ethics, such as Rosalind Hursthouse or Christine Swanton (against those who would attempt to argue for the explanatory primacy of the right or of the good, for example) …

35 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In particular, this article showed that disadvantages that result from perfectly free choice can constitute egalitarian injustice, and proposed a modified formulation of luck-egalitarianism that would withstand my criticism.
Abstract: THIS ARTICLE ARGUES THAT, in its standard formulation, luck-egalitarianism is false. In particular, I show that disadvantages that result from perfectly free choice can constitute egalitarian injustice. I also propose a modified formulation of luck-egalitarianism that would withstand my criticism. One merit of the modification is that it helps us to reconcile widespread intuitions about distributive justice with equally widespread intuitions about punitive justice. Before laying out my criticism, let me briefly describe luck-egalitarianism and why some of its existing criticisms are off the mark. 1. Standard Luck-Egalitarianism In the past, many egalitarians considered any inequality in people's lots to be unjust. By contrast, contemporary luck-egalitarians acknowledge the potential justice of inequalities that result from free choice. For example, luck-egalitarians would say that standard gambling losses do not diminish the justice of the resulting distribution and that such losses do not generate just claims for compensation. Luck-egalitarians contrast such disadvantages with disadvantages that do not result from the victims' choices or that result only from their un-free choices, such as genetic disease and structural unemployment. According to luck-egalitarians, the latter disadvantages are unjust. For a few luck-egalitarians, these claims determine when the state should compensate for disadvantage. But for most luck-egalitarians, they determine only when the end-state distribution is in an important way unjust. Whether human-induced or "cosmic," such unjust distribution always gives the state a prima facie--but not always an actual--duty to compensate the disadvantaged. Luck-egalitarian injustice worsens things and often translates into an actual duty of the state to compensate victims whose fates are less than fully just. But few luck-egalitarians assume that such a duty is absolute and that it always exists. Compensating victims would sometimes be prohibitively expensive, unjust toward other people, self-defeating, contrary to deontological constraints or beyond the state's responsibility. For example, it might turn out that the only way for the state to compensate for a disadvantage was by practices that would be humiliating to the recipients. If the need to avoid such humiliation were stronger than the need for compensation, most luck-egalitarians would object to the state's compensating recipients for the disadvantage. Luck-egalitarian injustice is but one important component of the complex web of considerations that together determine what would constitute correct conduct for the state. Contemporary criticisms of luck-egalitarianism sometimes overlook this complexity. Critics point out that compensation can be a bad policy, as if luck-egalitarians deny that it ever is. In the critics' caricature, luck-egalitarianism effectively assigns the state an absurd, categorical duty to compensate citizens for all disadvantages for which these citizens are not responsible. A great many considerations bear on normative compensation policy. No short formula purporting to define when compensation is a duty all things considered may succeed--whether that formula resembles luck-egalitarianism, democratic equality or still other theories. I shall call the complex view that encapsulates these luck-egalitarian ideas standard luck-egalitarianism: That someone incurs a disadvantage without having chosen freely to risk incurring it is, in a central respect, unjust. If, however, that disadvantage results from that person's own free choice to take that risk, then (barring prioritarian considerations) that disadvantage can remain perfectly just. Jerry Cohen, John Roemer, Richard Arneson, Larry Temkin and many other luck-egalitarians are committed to standard luck-egalitarianism or to something very much like it. Many anchor it in the ideal of equality of opportunity. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Aristotelian theories of well-being have been criticised by as mentioned in this paper, who argue that they cannot be justified by the notion of external goods as a necessary and sufficient condition for a good life.
Abstract: Happiness lies in conquering one's enemies, in driving them in front of oneself, in taking their property, in savoring their despair, in outraging their wives and daughters. Genghis Khan (1) INTRODUCTION Conventional wisdom once held that well-being is an objective affair, something that the masses should not be expected to have a great deal of authority about. Among the more noteworthy ideas in those days was the perfectionist notion that well-being consists, at least partly, in excellence or virtue. The coming of modernity brought a more optimistic view of the individual's authority regarding matters of personal welfare, and the old objectivist orthodoxy yielded to the present age of subjectivism, where common opinion has it that what's good for people is, more or less, whatever they say it is. Crudely, nothing benefits a person, virtue included, unless it somehow answers to her wants or likes. Discontent with subjectivism has been brewing for some years now, driven by a more nuanced understanding of the considerable merits of some objectivist accounts, notably Aristotelian theories, as well as a barrage of criticism aimed at subjectivist views like the desire theory. (2) Indeed, Aristotelian views are now among the chief competitors in discussions of well-being--or, equivalently, welfare or flourishing. (3) This is a welcome development, for such work has greatly enriched contemporary reflection on well-being, helping to counter what some of us see as the trivialization of philosophical thought about the good life in the modern era. Whatever the merits of non-subjectivist accounts of well-being, however, it is less clear that the perfectionism espoused in much of this literature can be sustained. I will argue that it cannot, using the best-known example of a perfectionist theory, Aristotelianism, to show why. The discussion should concern even those with little interest in perfectionist theories, for a better understanding of the problems confronting Aristotelian perfectionism will illuminate some important points about the nature of well-being and related values. We can usefully think of Aristotelian theories as centering on three claims. Our inquiry will focus on the first, welfare perfectionism, which maintains that well-being consists, non-derivatively, at least partly in perfection: excellence or virtue--or, in the Aristotelian case, excellent or virtuous activity. The perfection in question includes, but certainly is not limited to, moral virtue. Perfection, that is, is a fundamental or ultimate constituent of well-being (non-perfectionists might grant that it can constitute well-being derivatively, say by being desired). Perfection is typically regarded as the perfection of one's nature: being a good specimen of one's kind, for instance, or fulfilling one's capacities well. (4) But I will understand perfectionism broadly enough to include any theory that takes well-being to consist at least partly in excellence or virtue (or the exercise thereof). Some contend that Aristotle counted external goods as an additional part of flourishing, distinct from perfection. I have no wish to debate the fine points of Aristotle exegesis here, as I am less interested in the historical Aristotle than in whether a perfectionist view of well-being can be defended. But it seems to me that his view is most plausibly and charitably read as counting external goods only insofar as they facilitate good functioning, and not as distinct contributors to well-being. (5) Roughly, well-being consists in a life of excellent or virtuous activity, or "well-functioning." But the difference should not seriously affect the arguments to follow, for all Aristotelians take well-being to consist at least primarily in virtuous activity. My arguments should apply as well to weaker forms of perfectionism. The second claim, externalism, is the denial of internalism about well-being. A weaker cousin of subjectivism, which grounds well-being in the person's attitudes, internalism roughly maintains that the constituents of an agent's well-being are ultimately determined wholly by the particulars of the individual's makeup qua individual (vs. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors propose that a person's moral authority refers to a kind of standing that they occupy within a particular moral community, which is both socially important and normatively precarious, and that moral agents are right to be vigilant when it comes to hypocrisy, and are often justified in their outrage when they detect it.
Abstract: Hypocrites invite moral opprobrium, and charges of hypocrisy are a significant and widespread feature of our moral lives. Yet it remains unclear what hypocrites have in common, or what is distinctively bad about them. We propose that hypocrites are persons who have undermined their claim to moral authority. Since this self-undermining can occur in a number of ways, our account construes hypocrisy as multiply realizable. As we explain, a person’s moral authority refers to a kind of standing that they occupy within a particular moral community. This status is both socially important and normatively precarious. Hence, moral agents are right to be vigilant when it comes to hypocrisy, and are often justified in their outrage when they detect it. We further argue that our view can preserve what is attractive in rival accounts, while avoiding their associated problems.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For example, the authors argues that moral explanations do not only tell us what we ought to do, but also why we should do it. But the only way to see whether this is so is to look hard for implicit theories about how moral or normative explanations must work.
Abstract: 1.1 Understanding Normative Explanations MORAL THEORIES DO NOT PURPORT merely to tell us which things we ought to do. They also try to tell us why we ought to do them. Moral theories, that is, generally have explanatory ambitions. What they try to explain to us is not why we think we ought to do certain things, of course, or why we do some things, but why we ought to do things. Little has been said, however, in a general vein, about how moral or, more generally, normative, explanations work--what sort of things they are, in what ways they are like and unlike explanations of non-normative or descriptive phenomena, and so on. And that is unfortunate--for given the importance of explanatory ambitions in moral theorizing, differences in expectations about how moral explanations can and cannot work could potentially be playing an important role in underwriting disagreement about many other questions in moral theory. In fact, I think that this is the case. But the only way to see whether this is so is to look hard for implicit theories about how moral or normative explanations must work. The best way to look for implicit theories about normative explanations is to look for arguments which, once spelled out carefully, turn out to need assumptions about such explanations in order to work. In this paper I want to closely examine such an argument. It is originally due to Ralph Cudworth, and it is one of at least four different arguments that he offered against voluntaristic ethical theories. Cudworth's argument has since been widely held to conclusively establish its result; it was very influential in the 18th century, and arguments like it have recently been reiterated or endorsed by philosophers like Jean Hampton and Christine Korsgaard. (1) Voluntaristic theories, as Cudworth understood them, say that obligations derive from commands or decisions. Those commands or decisions may be those of God (as with Ockham, Descartes and the Calvinists), those of a temporal sovereign (as with Hobbes or Protagoras) or even those of anyone whatsoever (as Cudworth understood Epicurus to claim). Cudworth held that his argument worked against all of these views and, following Cudworth, Richard Price held that it worked against many other views as well. (2) But for concreteness, it is easier to focus on a single view. 1.2 Cudworth and Voluntarism So consider theological voluntarism: the theory that every obligation derives from one of God's commands. Voluntarism: For any person x and action-type a, if x ought to do a, that is because God has commanded x to do a. Cudworth argues like this: (3) the voluntarist has to admit that in order for his theory to be true, God--or at least His commands--have to be pretty special. After all, we can all agree that when I command you to do something, it does not become the case that you ought to do it. So God's commands have to be different in some way from mine--they have to have authority, as Cudworth puts it. But what does the authority of God's commands consist in? Surely just this: that you ought to do what God commands. It is surely because you ought to do what God commands, while it is not the case that you ought to do what I command, that when God commands you to love your neighbor as yourself, you ought to do that, while when I command you to bring me my slippers, it has no such effect. And surely even the voluntarist has to agree with that much: Authority Vol: [][for all]x (x ought to do what God commands) But that is exactly what we need to get the voluntarist into trouble. For according to voluntarism, every time that you ought to do something, it is because God has commanded it. But why ought you to do what God commands? According to the theory, this would have to be because God has commanded it. But that is surely incoherent. God could not make it the case that you ought to do what He commands simply by commanding it--if it were not already the case that you ought to do what He commands, then such a command would make no difference, and if it were already the case that you ought to do what He commands, then it would be beside the point. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article argued that rationality is not always normative and pointed out that the subjective reasons account has an important advantage over the transparency account, given how plausible it is for rationality to be normative.
Abstract: Recent views of reasons and rationality make it plausible that it can sometimes be rational to do what you have no reason to do. A number of writers have concluded that if this is so, rationality is not normative. But this is a mistake. Even if we assume a tight connection between reasons and normativity, the normativity of rationality does not require that there is always reason to be rational. The first half of this paper illustrates this point with reference to the subjective reasons account of rationality. The second half suggest that this point may have been missed because of certain similarities between the subjective reasons account and the importantly different transparency account. On the transparency account, rationality seems not to be normative. I think it is often assumed that what goes for the transparency account goes for the subjective reasons account as well. But I argue that this is a mistake. A corollary is that the subjective reasons account has an important advantage over the transparency account, given how plausible it is that rationality is normative.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Locative Analysis of good for as discussed by the authors can respond to objections from, or inspired by, Sumner, Regan, and Schroederand Feldman, who claim that it generates implausible results with respect topunishment, virtue and agent-centered duties.
Abstract: THE STRUCTURE OF THIS PAPER IS AS FOLLOWS. I begin§1 by dealing with preliminary issues such as the different relationsexpressed by the “good for” locution. I then (§2) outline theLocative Analysis of good for and explain its main elements before movingon to (§3) outlining and discussing the positive features of the view. Inthe subsequent sections I show how the Locative Analysis can respond toobjections from, or inspired by, Sumner (§4-5), Regan (§6), and Schroederand Feldman (§7). I then (§8) reply to an imagined objector who claimsthat the Locative Analysis generates implausible results with respect topunishment, virtue and agent-centered duties.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For a consequentialist, rightness depends on what is prospectively best rather than what would actually be best as discussed by the authors, and the agent's epistemic position depends on the best option.
Abstract: In this paper I present a new argument for prospectivism: the view that, for a consequentialist, rightness depends on what is prospectively best rather than what would actually be best Prospective bestness depends on the agent’s epistemic position, though exactly how that works is not straightforward I clarify various possible versions of prospectivism, which differ in how far they go in relativizing to the agent’s limitations My argument for prospectivism is an argument for moderately objective prospectivism, according to which the right thing to do is what would make sense given reasonable beliefs, reasonable probability estimates and a reasonable understanding of value My argument is an argument for this form of prospectivism over objectivism Arguments about prospectivism and objectivism usually use an example with the following form: an agent has a choice between options – one she knows would be acceptable, while the other could either be catastrophic or very good Objectivists argue that the right thing to do is what would in fact be best (though the agent cannot know which option that is) while prospectivists argue that the agent’s ignorance is relevant, and the right thing to do is to compromise The question is how we should understand the underlying argument It is not about action guidance Moderately objective prospectivism is not action guiding, because an actual agent may not have access to reasonable beliefs, probability estimates and so on Another common argument is that the objective notion is the primary one I show that there are no good grounds for this claim My argument uses the distinction between rightness and goodness to show that a consequentialist theory, that bases rightness on goodness, should take into account how much goodness is at stake Crucially, potential losses as well as gains are relevant So long as goodness, rather than rightness, is in the driving seat, we should not be “bestness fetishists” As the name suggest, this would be an irrational privileging of the best option This argument does not apply to pure deontology: a pure deontology does not use the notion of goodness at all, and so there is nothing to compromise with If the agent does not know what is right, there is nothing further to say I end by arguing against a recent strategy that aims to show that although objectivism is true (the right option is the best one), we should sometimes do what is wrong (ie what is prospectively best) I argue that insofar as this is correct, it is simply prospectivism with awkward terminology

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper argued that children can have good lives, on several understandings of well-being -as a pleasurable state, as the satisfaction of simple desires or as the realization of certain objective goods.
Abstract: Traditionally, most philosophers saw childhood as a state of deficiency and thought that its value was entirely dependent on how successfully it prepares individuals for adulthood. Yet, there are good reasons to think that childhood also has intrinsic value. Children possess certain intrinsically valuable abilities to a higher degree than adults. Moreover, going through a phase when one does not yet have a “self of one’s own,” and experimenting one’s way to a stable self, seems intrinsically valuable. I argue that children can have good lives, on several understandings of well-being – as a pleasurable state, as the satisfaction of simple desires or as the realization of certain objective goods. In reply to the likely objection that only individuals capable of morality can have intrinsic value, I explain why it is plausible that children have sufficient moral agency to be as deserving of respect as adults.

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TL;DR: The Causal Theory of Action (CTA) as mentioned in this paper is a well-known causal theory of action, and it is well suited for the problem of deviant causal chains.
Abstract: AN ARM GOES UP; IT IS A SIGNAL that the assassination is to go forward. The physical process that transpired could equally have been a stretching, a voting, or a taxi-hailing, but this particular process was in fact a signaling. The context in which the arm-rising took place was surely relevant to determining which action it was, for no amount of flailing can constitute a taxi-hailing on a deserted island, or a voting in a monarchy. But let us somewhat improbably suppose that our arm is in a context where its rising could have constituted any of these things. The question is why it was in fact a signaling. And as the physical properties of the arm and its setting do not tell us, the natural place to seek an answer is in the arm-wielding agent's thought. In some way, the agent's own understanding of the event of the arm-rising contributes to determining the further descriptions under which that event constitutes the intentional action that it is. How is this relation between thought and action to be understood? The broader aim of this paper is to highlight a particular constraint that any theory of action proposing to answer that question must satisfy. There is an architecture present in intentional action that must somehow be reflected in the agent's practical thought, and I will argue that the task of accounting for this structure strongly favors some ways of thinking about moral psychology over others. The motivation for this claim involves a second aspiration that I believe has independent interest for our understanding of mental causation: to identify a phenomenon I will take some poetic license in labeling deviant formal causation. (1) The phenomenon concerns a type of mismatch between practical thought and the resultant action, and merits the label in its resemblance to the problem of deviant causation that plagues the so-called Causal Theory of Action. I will argue that whereas the Causal Theory is thought to be vulnerable in its susceptibility to the problem of deviant causal chains, the "non-causal" neo-Anscombean theory of action that is an increasingly popular alternative faces its own form of deviance--a form of deviance that the Causal Theory is well equipped to handle. The point will be that in accounting for the relation between thought and action, there is more than one kind of way in which the two may deviate. And insofar as the Causal Theory of Action is less vulnerable than the alternatives to the kind of deviant formal causation I will illustrate, this point will amount to a new argument in favor of the Causal Theory. 1. Actions, Causes, Deviance The Causal Theory of Action (CTA) traces back at least as far as Aristotle, (2) but owes its contemporary heritage to Donald Davidson. (3) It is not the most useful of labels, since there are theories of action opposed to the Davidsonian strand that nonetheless involve appeal to some form of causation. The causal commitment meant to be specific to Causal Theories concerns the pedigree of intentional actions: what distinguishes events that are intentional actions from other kinds of events is the causal antecedent of the event. Intentional actions are those behaviors that are caused to occur by some relevant psychological property of the agent, where the notion of "cause" in use here is efficient causation--"the primary source of the change or rest" of the agent. (4) Particular theories may diverge with respect to precisely what this property is, but we may simply call it "intention." Actions are those things the agent intended to do (or appropriately related in some way to his intention), where intentions are some causally real state of the agent that explains the occurrence of the action. The CTA holds that being caused by an intention is necessary to transform mere behavior into intentional action, but this condition is not meant to be sufficient. Not just any result with the right cause will count as having been done intentionally; the outcome must also accord in some sense with what the agent had in mind. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argued that the epistemic force of the canonical Moorean arguments can best be understood to rest on asymmetries in indirect evidence, and then argued that this explanation suggests that Moore-an arguments are less promising in ethics than they are against Moore's own targets.
Abstract: G. E. Moore famously argued against skepticism and idealism by appealing to their inconsistency with alleged certainties, like the existence of his own hands. Recently, some philosophers have offered analogous arguments against revisionary views about ethics such as metaethical error theory. These arguments appeal to the inconsistency of error theory with seemingly obvious moral claims like “it is wrong to torture an innocent child just for fun.” It might seem that such ‘Moorean’ arguments in ethics will stand or fall with Moore’s own arguments in metaphysics and epistemology, in virtue of their shared structure. I argue that this is not so. I suggest that the epistemic force of the canonical Moorean arguments can best be understood to rest on asymmetries in indirect evidence. I then argue that this explanation suggests that Moorean arguments are less promising in ethics than they are against Moore’s own targets. I conclude by examining the competing attempt to vindicate Moorean arguments by appealing to Rawls’s method of reflective equilibrium.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors explain why moral error theorists are not conceptually deficient, and then argue that this explanation reveals what is wrong with Cuneo and Shafer-Landau's view.
Abstract: Terence Cuneo and Russ Shafer-Landau have recently proposed a new version of moral non-naturalism, according to which there are non-natural moral concepts and truths but no non-natural moral facts. This view entails that moral error theorists are conceptually deficient. We explain why moral error theorists are not conceptually deficient. We then argue that this explanation reveals what is wrong with Cuneo and Shafer-Landau's view.



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that the right to political participation, understood as distinct from a right to democracy, should have a place even on minimalist lists of human rights, and defend the need to extend the right of political participation to include participation not just in national, but also in international and global governance processes.
Abstract: In recent developments in political and legal philosophy, there is a tendency to endorse minimalist lists of human rights that do not include a right to political participation. Against such tendencies, I shall argue that the right to political participation, understood as distinct from a right to democracy, should have a place even on minimalist lists. In addition, I shall defend the need to extend the right to political participation to include participation not just in national, but also in international and global governance processes. The argument will be based on a cosmopolitan conception of political legitimacy and on a political conception of human rights that is normatively anchored in legitimacy. The central claim of my paper is that a right to political participation is necessary – but not sufficient – for political legitimacy in the global realm.

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TL;DR: The authors showed that constructivism does not provide a complete grounding for morality, and so is on a par with realism in this respect, and explained why it seems that morality in fact cannot have a source.
Abstract: It is a common idea that morality, or moral truths, if there are any, must have some sort of source, or grounding. It has also been claimed that constructivist theories in metaethics have an advantage over realist theories in that the former but not the latter can provide such a grounding. This paper has two goals. First, it attempts to show that constructivism does not in fact provide a complete grounding for morality, and so is on a par with realism in this respect. Second, it explains why it seems that morality in fact couldn’t have a source.

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TL;DR: This paper developed a new theory of character which is conceptually distinct both from traditional Aristotelian accounts as well as from the positive view of local traits outlined by John Doris.
Abstract: In a number of recent papers, I have begun to develop a new theory of character which is conceptually distinct both from traditional Aristotelian accounts as well as from the positive view of local traits outlined by John Doris. On my view, many human beings do have robust traits of character which play an important explanatory and predictive role, but which are triggered by certain situational variables which preclude them from counting as genuine Aristotelian virtues. Like others in this discussion, I have focused on helping behavior in particular, and have gone on to argue that much of the social psychology literature is compatible with this new approach. The goal of this paper is to develop the model as it pertains to helping behavior further by examining how helping-relevant traits can serve as impediments to helping behavior.

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TL;DR: The authors argue that political liberalism's criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that eliminate social conditions of domination and subordination relevant to reasonable democratic deliberation among equal citizens.
Abstract: Is a feminist political liberalism possible? Political liberalism’s regard for a wide range of comprehensive doctrines as reasonable makes some feminists skeptical of its ability to address sex inequality. Indeed, some feminists claim that political liberalism maintains its position as a political liberalism at the expense of securing substantive equality for women. We claim that political liberalism’s core commitments actually restrict all reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that secure genuine substantive equality for all, including women and other marginalized groups. In particular, we argue that political liberalism’s criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that eliminate social conditions of domination and subordination relevant to reasonable democratic deliberation among equal citizens and that the criterion of reciprocity requires the social conditions necessary for recognition respect among persons as equal citizens. As a result, we maintain that the criterion of reciprocity limits reasonable political conceptions of justice to those that provide genuine equality for women along various dimensions of social life central to equal citizenship.

Journal ArticleDOI
Sean Aas1
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors propose an account of prospectively sufficient conditions for a collective to be an agent, which they use as a heuristic for discovering potentially obligated collectives.
Abstract: IN 1939, GERMANY INVADED CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Several major powers denounced the invasion. But the (mostly moribund) League of Nations proved ineffectual at coordinating intervention, and the (severely weakened) Czechoslovakian state was unable to mount real resistance. In retrospect, it seems clear that the other great powers of the time should have intervened before matters came to this point--and that, since they did not, they were partly responsible for the horrors that followed. Of course, it never should have come to that: The German people should never have allowed the Nazi party to take power in the first place, and once it became clear how they would act when in power, the German army should have overthrown them. Groups like these act. Sometimes they are obligated to act. And sometimes they are responsible or culpable for not acting, when they are obligated to act and do not. Group action and group responsibility have received a fair amount of philosophical attention. (1) Group obligation has, until recently, received much less. But this is changing. (2) It is becoming clear that some important moral-philosophical issues turn on questions concerning which groups can be obligated to act. The contemporary global justice literature, for instance, asks whether there is any agent on which obligations of global justice might fall. (3) Some argue, e.g., that, though strong principles of egalitarian justice like Rawls's difference principle apply within state-governed societies taken singly, they do not apply across state borders, because no transnational agent has an obligation to see them fulfilled. (4) This sort of issue cannot be settled without a clearer conception of collective agency and obligation than we currently have. (5) Much of the existing literature on this begins with questions about the conditions under which collectives constitute an agent, asking for various putative obligations whether there are existing organized "agents" capable of fulfilling them. I take a different approach here, starting with the question of collective obligation, and proceeding only then to questions about collective agency. My strategy is to begin by developing an account of member obligation: What must be true of the members of a group if that group is to have an obligation? The thought, then, is that this account can be used as a heuristic for discovering potentially obligated collectives. If it is true of each of some collection of individuals, I, that they have the individual obligations they would have if they constituted a collective agent, C, that was obligated to do some thing, [phi], then it should be plausible that they do in fact constitute an obligated collective, and therefore plausible that they are, in at least a minimal sense, an agent. My approach, then, is to begin by arguing for some necessary conditions for collective obligation, and then use these to propose an account of prospectively sufficient conditions for a collective to be obligated to act. I argue, first, that, to know when a collective obligation entails obligations on that collective's members, we have to know, not just what it would take for each member to do their part in satisfying the collective obligation, but also what they should do if they cannot do their part because others will not do theirs. I go on to argue (contra recent proposals) (6) that it is not good enough for members in this situation to reasonably believe that others will not do their part. Rather, for a member of an obligated collective to permissibly escape doing her part in a collective obligation, she must both reasonably doubt that others will do theirs and stand ready to act in case others become ready as well. This condition concerning member obligation, I argue, is necessary for collective obligation. But it is not yet sufficient: A collective, all of whose members are obligated to be ready to act together, might still not be obligated to act if coordination problems make it impossible to translate individual readiness into collective action. …

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TL;DR: This paper argued that the social costs associated with freedom of immigration are also associated with occupational choice, speech and reproduction, and that a state's interest in reducing these costs gives it prima facie justification to restrict not only immigration but also other core liberal freedoms.
Abstract: This paper argues for a dilemma: you can accept liberalism or immigration restrictions, but not both. More specifically, the standard arguments for restricting freedom of movement apply equally to textbook liberal freedoms, such as freedom of speech, religion, occupation and reproductive choice. We begin with a sketch of liberalism’s core principles and an argument for why freedom of movement is plausibly on a par with other liberal freedoms. Next we argue that, if a state’s right to self-determination grounds a prima facie right to restrict immigration, then it also grounds a prima facie right to restrict freedom of speech, religion, sexual choice and more. We then suggest that the social costs associated with freedom of immigration are also costs associated with occupational choice, speech and reproduction. Thus, a state’s interest in reducing these costs gives it prima facie justification to restrict not only immigration but also other core liberal freedoms. Moreover, we rebut the objection that, even if the standard arguments for a prima facie right to restrict immigration also support a prima facie right to restrict liberal freedoms generally, there are differences that render immigration restrictions – but not restrictions on speech, religion, etc. – justified all things considered. In closing, we suggest that the theoretical price of supporting immigration restrictions – viz., compromising a commitment to liberal principles – is too steep to pay.

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TL;DR: The authors argue that the Kantian strategy cannot make good on this promise and argue that it lacks the resources to produce the desired normative conclusions when coupled with one of two familiar metanormative theories: expressivism or reductionism.
Abstract: When we make ethical claims, we invoke a kind of objective authority. A familiar worry about our ethical practices is that this invocation of authority involves a mistake. This worry was perhaps best captured by John Mackie, who argued that the fabric of the world contains nothing so queer as objective authority and thus that all our ethical claims are false. Kantians such as Christine Korsgaard and David Velleman offer accounts of the objectivity of ethics that do without the controversial realist assumptions which gives rise to Mackie’s skepticism. They contend that our ethical claims correctly invoke objective authority not by corresponding to some normative pocket of the fabric of reality, but rather by expressing commitments that are inescapable. This Kantian strategy is often advertised as an alternative to traditional but “boring” metaethics. Its proponents promise to vindicate our ethical practices without entangling us in familiar metanormative disputes about the metaphysics, epistemology and semantics of ethics. In this paper, I argue that the Kantian strategy cannot make good on this promise. Considered as an attempt to sidestep traditional metaethics, it lacks the resources to produce the desired normative conclusions. The outlook for the Kantian strategy becomes more promising, though, if we pair it with one of two familiar metanormative theories: expressivism or reductionism. The resulting metaethically-loaded versions of the Kantian strategy can deliver the promised conclusions, but only by plunging straight into the quagmire of traditional metaethics. And there all of the familiar objections to expressivism and reductionism await.