Blog Profile / Atheist Ethicist

Filed Under:Academics / Philosophy
Posts on Regator:858
Posts / Week:1.7
Archived Since:February 23, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Moral luck and practical ethics

Morality is a practical institution - a tool that we have invented to make our lives better. This fact is important to understanding some features of morality. "Moral luck" is one of those features. A paradigm example of moral luck concerns a would be assassin. Show More Summary

Hedonist Paradox

There is this thing called the "Hedonist Paradox." Assume that the only thing you desire is pleasure. Human psychology seems to be built such that the best way to obtain pleasure is to value things other than pleasure, and to pursue them for their own sake. Show More Summary

Desire-Based Value

Do you know how you are having a conversation - debating some issue - and you don't get a chance to clearly explain what it is you meant? After the conversation you think of all of the things you should have said or would have said if not for some interruption. Well... Show More Summary

Rule Utilitarianism: The Rule Worship Objection

I am working on a new paper which looks at promise keeping from a motive utilitarian (or desire utilitarian) perspective. Yes, I know, I am no longer a motive (desire) utilitarian. However, a lot of people are and I am thinking thatShow More Summary

Henry Sidgwick: Considerations in Defense of Desire-Based Ethics

There is an argument that I have often used in defense of a desire-based ethics that I found in my most recent read-through of Henry Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics. The idea that the purpose of praise or condemnation is to mold desires...Show More Summary

Benjamin Hale: Anti-Vaxxers and Causing vs. Allowing Harms

In Chapter 6 of The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature, Benjamin Hale described an argument available to those who oppose vaccinating their children that makes some sense within the structure of desirism. Mind you, I think everybody should get their child vaccinated, with the standard caveats applying. Show More Summary

Benjamin Hale: Justificatory vs. Motivational Reasons

In Chapter 5 of The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature, Benjamin Hale attempted to draw some moral lessons from a distinction between two different types of reasons for action - motives and justificatory reasons. I do not...Show More Summary

Desirism and Issues with Utilitarianism

I would like to say a few words about utilitarianism- the standard happiness-maximizing kind. My instructor for the first three weeks of the Ethics Proseminar is a classic utilitarian, which gives me a clear chance to see the pointsShow More Summary

Lincoln, Slavery, and Quotes Out of Context.

Social media is filled with memes - many showing quotes from famous people meant to support some favored view. This post concerns the story of one such quote often - almost always used out of context to support a view it does not support. Show More Summary

Parody: The Bully's Humor

I have a few topics that have been piling up. But a moral logic homework assignment had me in panic mode -fearing I could not do the work. Logic is like a puzzle, where you need to somehow recognize a track or special key - and then everything clicks into place. Show More Summary

J. Baird Callicott

My environmental philosophy class this weekend introduced me to the writings of J. Beard Callicott. Callicott is branded as one of the founders in environmental philosophy - developing Aldo Leopold's "land ethic" and attempting to put...Show More Summary

Motives and Ends - Why There Are No Act Utilitarians

Each motive determines its own end. To promote a particular motive is to promote a particular end. The reason that this is important has to do with the way that utilitarians such as Henry Sidgwick handle motives. Sidgwick asserts that there is only one legitimate end - general or overall happiness. Show More Summary

Sidgwick on Motives

I have survived the first week of class. I have nothing of substance to report in the Environmental Philosophy class yet, since we devoted our first day to introductions and paperwork rather than philosophical argument. I can reportShow More Summary

Ventriloquists vs. Translators

In my readings for my environmental philosophy class, I have been reading Thinking Like a Mall: Environmental Philosophy After the End of Nature. Chapter 6 in this book talks about the idea that nature talks to us. It calls to us. If...Show More Summary

The Moral Status of Future Persons

Today is the first day of my new life, as it is the day of my first official event as a graduate student - grad student orientation. It is something like starting a new job. On the first day, one doesn't get to do any real work. One goes through the rituals of becoming a part of the organization. Show More Summary

Anti-Liberal Attitudes on the Left

I try to avoid being a part of the echo chamber. If those likely to read what I write already agree, then I see no reason to write it. And there is no reason to write for those who will not be reading it. I prefer write about where I...Show More Summary

Sidgwick: Methods of Ethics, Part 01

In 22 days, I will be in class. One of those classes, I strongly believe, will begin with an evaluation of Henry Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics. As this is considered a work of central importance in philosophy, I am reading through itShow More Summary

The Right of Necessity

One of the things I do for entertainment is listen to the New Books in Philosophy podcast. The most recent episode interviews Alejandra Mancilla on her book The Right of Necessity, Moral Cosmopolitanism, and Global Poverty. Basically,...Show More Summary

The Character Thesis and The Desire Thesis

This is the month in which I return to graduate school. My first departmental meeting is in 24 days, and my first class is in 27 days. Over in the "documents" page of the Desirism site, I have posted a new "work in progress". This is...Show More Summary

Praise, Blame, and Matters of Character

I need to add a bunch of brief notes to catch up on things I have learned. (1) I have been praising Rosalind Hursthouse's defense of the thesis that a right act is the act that a virtuous person would perform. On the negative side, Hursthouse apparently links virtues to the survival of the species - as if species survival has intrinsic value. Show More Summary

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