September 8, 2008

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Philosophers' Carnival LXXVII

Welcome to Philosophers' Carnival LXXVII at! The Philosophers' Carnival is a fortnightly roundup of the best blog posts related to academic philosophy. Following the procedure I used for Carnival XXXI, I will divide the posts according to the three major traditional divisions of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory. (Actually in Carnival XXXI I used "ethics" rather than "value theory", but "value theory" is a broader term.) In order to accommodate a variety of posts, I have construed each category rather broadly.

  1. Metaphysics
    • Noah Greenstein presents "Consciousness Dilemma, Take 2," which discusses a regress problem for certain accounts of consciousness - that is, how can one be conscious of consciousness? Briefly, I would answer that there are at least some cases in which being conscious of something requires having a mental representation of that thing, rather than requiring that your consciousness contain that thing. But perhaps not all theories of consciousness can allow this...
    • Paul Gowder of Uncommon Priors defends David Lewis's counterfactual theory of causation from an objection by constructing a slightly more sophisticated account of counterfactuals. I would refer readers also to the account of counterfactuals in Tim Maudlin's recent book, The Metaphysics Within Physics which, I think, is a significant improvement over Lewis.
    • David Gawthorne of Intentional Objects presents "Complaint Against Sartre's Account of Intentionality," which also provides an introductory description of Sartre's understanding of consciousness.
    • Michael Sigrist presents "The Real Hard Problem" at The Ends of Thought. This post provides an introduction to Chalmer's "hard problem" - the problem of phenomenal properties and their relationship to psychological properties - and registers an objection to Chalmer's claim that the connection is merely contingent.
    • My own contribution, "Berkeley and Ordinary Objects," comes not actually from this blog but from the newly created Houyhnhnm Land Guest Blog. I won't bother commentating my own blog post (except to say that it is about the metaphysics of so-called 'ordinary' objects according to George Berkeley), so let me instead use this space to tell you that Houyhnhnm Land is a new resource for scholars of early modern thought developed by Brandon Watson.
  2. Epistemology
  3. Value Theory
    • Ashok of Rethink discusses Socrates' understanding of justice and the state through the lens of Xenophon's Memorabilia.
    • Carnival founder Richard Chappell of Philosophy, Etc. presents Spontaneous Abortions and False Beliefs, in which he considers a possible response to the claim that the frequency of spontaneous abortion leads to absurdities for the pro-life view. By way of a brief response, I would ask: is it ever morally justified to attempt to bring about a happening which is "intrinsically bad," even if only "insignificantly" so? I'm not convinced that it is.

That's all for now! The next carnival will be hosted at Practical Ethics on September 22.

Posted by Kenny at September 8, 2008 11:35 PM
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'By way of a brief response, I would ask: is it ever morally justified to attempt to bring about a happening which is "intrinsically bad," even if only "insignificantly" so? I'm not convinced that it is.'

Are there no morally justified suicide missions? I pretty sure there are. Bad movie but good example: the climax of the movie "Armageddon".

Posted by: dtlocke at September 9, 2008 12:48 PM

Or, for an example that doesn't involve self-sacrifice: the trolley problem in which you have the option to throw the switch. (Put enough people on the trolley and anyone will agree that you are morally justified in throwing the switch.)

Posted by: dtlocke at September 9, 2008 12:53 PM

dtlocke - I thought about including a response to this kind of objection, but it was getting too long. The idea, as I see it, is this: I would say committing suicide is never justifiable, but sometimes there is an action that is not in fact suicide but nevertheless will probably or necessarily result in the death of the performer. So, perhaps, because abortion is not an end in itself but only a means, it is more like going on a suicide mission than like committing suicide.

One reason I'm not convinced this works is the fact that in the case of late term abortions, babies are occasionally born alive and when this happens they are killed. I realize, of course, that their chances of survival are very low to begin with, and that many pro-choice people don't think abortion should be legal this late in the term, but the point is that I think this shows that it is NOT the case that we are trying to remove the fetus from the mother, or protect the mother's health, or spare the mother inconvenience and the killing of the fetus is an unavoidable side effect. Rather, the ACTION is the killing of the fetus, and these other things are the positive effects of that action, the ends for the sake of which the action is undertaken. This is not like a suicide mission in which the action is, e.g., flying unprotected deep into enemy territory, and the one performing the action does not see any way that he or she could possibly escape alive. In this case, he or she will presumably try to escape alive if any opportunity presents itself, it's just that he or she does not expect such an opportunity. This, I think, is a very relevant difference.

By the way, I am a radical deontologist, and trolley cases generally don't move me, so when I say "I'm not convinced," I realize that this may just be due to the fact that I hold a very radical and unusual position. Perhaps all the people who are moved by trolley cases will agree with you.

Posted by: Kenny at September 9, 2008 1:14 PM

I was stumbling over "abortions are intrinsically bad" and about to reply when I saw "suicide is never justifiable". Have you made a case for that position somewhere?

As the sovereign of my own life, I reserve the right to end it when I wish to, for any reason or for no reason. I'm a little angry that you even ask for justification.

Posted by: Craig Ewert at September 12, 2008 12:52 AM

Craig - Firstly, the "abortions are intrinsically bad" thing is not argued for because it is a concession made to the pro-life position in Richard's post, so that assumption is just part of the parameters of the current discussion. I actually don't do a lot of ethics on this blog, so no, I haven't discussed the ethics of suicide in any depth. I am, as a libertarian, appreciative of your line of reasoning. The question of how I, as a libertarian, can take the strong stances I do on "private morality" is something I have discussed. That discussion is here. In short, it is my position that your "sovereignty" over your life, as you put it, does mean that no one is morally permitted to interfere with your suicide attempt (except by means of peaceful persuasion), but that doesn't mean suicide isn't wrong. It's just a matter of private morality rather than political morality.

Posted by: Kenny at September 12, 2008 1:54 AM

That's a good distinction between public rights and private obligations. I still didn't see an obligation to not suicide proposed. I can easily derive from your argument certain restrictions; obligations you might have that suicide would entail forsaking.

Posted by: Craig Ewert at September 12, 2008 9:25 AM

People deserve wealthy life time and credit loans or just small business loan would make it much better. Because people's freedom depends on money.

Posted by: SummersROBBIE20 at October 17, 2011 2:18 AM

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