Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick
Beyond Good and Evil is considered Nietzsche’s most important and comprehensive philosophical work. This article explores two problems involving the book’s form and content, faced by those who acknowledge the book’s importance. The solution to these problems is recognizing the distinction between an exoteric and an esoteric reading of Nietzsche’s words. An exoteric reading articulates a crude naturalism, but an esoteric reading shows his normative aspirations that leave behind the methods of science.
This article is about decision theory and morality. Its main point is to show how the formal apparatus of decision theory is connected to some abstract issues in moral theory. It does not aim to be comprehensive. Its preliminaries section explains how to think about utility and the advice that decision theory gives. In particular, decision theory does not assume or insist that all rational agents act in their own self-interest. The second section discusses decision theory's contributions to social contract theory, with emphasis on David Gauthier's rationalist contractualism. The third section considers a reinterpretation of the formal theory that decision theorists use: utility might represent goodness rather than preference. Finally, the last section of this article discusses Harsanyi's theorem.
This article examines three competing views entertained by economic theory about the instrumental rationality of decisions. The first says to maximize self-interest, the second to maximize utility, and the third to “satisfice,” that is, to adopt a satisfactory option. Critics argue that the first view is too narrow, that the second overlooks the benefits of teamwork and planning, and that the third, when carefully formulated, reduces to the second. This article defends a refined version of the principle to maximize utility. It discusses generalizations of utility theory to extend it to nonquantitative cases and other cases with nonstandard features. The study of rationality as it bears on law is typically restricted to the uses made of the notion of rationality by the “law and economics movement.” Legal economists accept the traditional economic assumption that rational agents seek primarily to maximize their personal utility.
This article suggests that moral epistemology is mainly concerned with “whether and how one can have knowledge or justified belief” about moral issues. It presents and replies to several problems that arise in this connection. It addresses arguments for ethical skepticism, the view that one cannot have moral knowledge or justified belief. Assuming that one can have moral knowledge, this article considers how the moral epistemologist and moral philosopher should begin their account of this knowledge. It favors a particularist approach whereby the instances of moral knowledge are given and used to formulate criteria for moral knowledge. It relates this approach to concerns about the nature of the epistemic justification of moral beliefs as dealt with by foundationalists and coherentists. Finally, this article concludes by responding to arguments against particularist approaches in moral epistemology.
Carl Mitcham and Nan Wang
“Interdisciplinarity in Ethics” begins with a schematic overview of how ethics in the West has bridged (1) individuals and social orders through virtue ethics (Greece), (2) reason and revelation through deontology (medieval period), and (3) science and politics in consequentialist utilitarianism (modern period). In counterpoint, it observes how China adds to virtue ethical interdisciplinarity efforts (4) to harmonize humans with the cosmos and (5) to integrate the human inner and outer selves. From this dual historicophilosophical perspective, the chapter then examines how recent ethical challenges from science and technology have pushed interdisciplinarity into ethics in (6) a more literal sense: critically reflecting on the ways human actions are being transformed by science and technology in bioethics, nuclear ethics, environmental ethics, information ethics, and the professional ethics of scientists and engineers. It concludes by arguing for increased interdisciplinarity in ethics in the form of more internal synergies between science and ethics.
The purpose and plan of the Handbook is described herein. Key concepts in the contemporary literature on reasons and normativity are introduced, and the forty-four chapters that make up the main body of the Handbook are each summarized. In the process, important connections between the chapters are highlighted. A distinctive feature of the Handbook is said to be the way in which it surveys work on normative reasons in both ethics and epistemology, focusing, when appropriate, on issues concerning unity or lack of it in different domains. It is noted that discussions of reasons and normativity in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and aesthetics are also surveyed in the Handbook.
Meta-ethics comprises three branches: semantics, metaphysics, and epistemology. However, while epistemological concerns drive much of contemporary meta-ethical theorizing, epistemology tends to receive less explicit attention than semantics and metaphysics. In part, this might be because of an assumption that only moral realists need provide us with an epistemology, for only if we suppose that there are moral properties and facts that are appropriately independent of our moral beliefs and attitudes will we need to tell a story about how we can come to know them. Irrealist accounts might be thought to face considerably reduced epistemological burdens, or to escape them altogether.
This article describes the relationship of skepticism with moral and quasi realism. It discusses the main reason why quasi realists believe that they can explain and justify the realist-seeming appearances of ordinary moral thought and discourse. It explains the distinction among the three different varieties of quasi realism and argues that none of them provide a more satisfactory job of explaining the acquisition of moral knowledge than robust realism. It concludes that some varieties of quasi realism fail to comport with platitudes central to our ordinary understanding of knowledge, while others do comport but fail to explain the acquisition of moral knowledge in a way that is more illuminating than robust realism.
This article examines the multi-dimensions of bodily self-consciousness. It explains the distinction between the self-as-subject and the self-as-object and argues that each act of consciousness is adequately characterized by two modes of givenness. These are the intentional mode of givenness by which the subject is conscious of intentional objects and the subjective mode by which the subject is conscious of intentional objects as experienced by him. It clarifies the relationship of these modes of givenness to the transitivity and non-transitivity of self-consciousness.
This article discusses three interpretations of the Pyrrhonian problematic in relation to the work of Sextus Empiricus. It explains the shortcomings of the theoretical and psychological interpretations and argues that it is the dialectical interpretation that provides a serious skeptical challenge to our beliefs. There seems to be no satisfactory nonskeptical response to it. According to the dialectical interpretation, the proper scope of Pyrrhonian skepticism involves things we have disagreements about.