Monthly Archives: October 2010

Simon Keller and Valerie Tiberius

Simon Keller (left) and Valerie Tiberius (right) on well-being and social psychology.

The nature and conditions of well-being have long held philosophers’ attention, but well-being is also now a major focus of psychological research. In this conversation, Keller and Tiberius discuss the possibilities for cooperation in this area between psychologists and philosophers. Are philosophers able to reveal conceptual truths about well-being that are of value to psychologists? Can psychological research usefully correct philosophers’ naive intuitions about what makes us better off?

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Filed under Value Theory

Ann Cudd and Matt Zwolinski

Ann Cudd (left) and Matt Zwolinski (right) on exploitation and oppression.

The NYT reports that some low-wage South African workers were recently angered when their factory was shut down for violation of minimum wage laws. Are such workers exploited by their employers? Do they constitute an oppressed group? To address such questions, Cudd and Zwolinski examine the concepts of exploitation and oppression. They consider whether mutually beneficial exploitation might sometimes be morally justifiable, and how much we must be willing to sacrifice in order to resist oppressive institutions, among other issues.

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Filed under Applied Ethics, Political Philosophy, Value Theory

Sneak peak at forthcoming work by Hall and Paul

In the Introduction to Causation: A User’s Guide (forthcoming from OUP), Ned Hall and L. A. Paul write:

Unfortunately, the current literature [on causation] conceals its insights within a tangled landscape of conflicting approaches, driven by conflicting motivations and conflicting presuppositions about the very point of providing a philosophical account of causation, and often informed by conflicting intuitions about key cases. Our aim is to provide a map of this landscape, focused in particular on counterfactual and related analyses of causation, and using a comprehensive set of carefully chosen examples as landmarks. We intend this work to be of use both to the trained specialist and the uninitiated alike.

You can’t get the book yet, but Hall and Paul graciously offered to share its first two chapters with the audience of Philosophy TV. Here’s Chapter 1, and here’s Chapter 2. Enjoy!

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David Enoch and Mark Schroeder

David Enoch (left) and Mark Schroeder (right) on moral realism.

Enoch and Schroeder are moral realists of different kinds: Schroeder defends a form of naturalist reductionism, while Enoch defends a form of Moorean non-naturalism. In this conversation, they compare their two brands of realism, discuss their shared opposition to error theories and expressivism, and address a few of the standard objections to realism. Then (at 53:40) they reveal their answers to a question that should be disturbing to any realist: If it turns out that realism is false, what would you believe instead?

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Filed under Metaethics

Ned Hall and L. A. Paul

Ned Hall (left) and L. A. Paul (right) on causation.

Suzy throws a rock which causes a window to break. That is token causation: a particular event c causes another particular event e. According to a simple counterfactual account of token causation, c is a cause of e exactly if e wouldn’t have occurred if c hadn’t occurred. In this episode, Hall and Paul discuss why the pursuit of a counterfactual account is attractive, and consider problems for such an account raised by preemptive causes, preventive causes, the transitivity of causation, and overdetermination.

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Filed under Metaphysics

Technical difficulties

The bad news is that our episode on exploitation, oppression and the market, featuring Ann Cudd and Matt Zwolinski, will have to be delayed. We aim to have it ready by next week.

The good news is that our episode on the metaphysics of causation, featuring Ned Hall and L. A. Paul, will appear tomorrow, a week earlier than previously scheduled.

Sorry for any inconvenience. Thanks for watching!

–Philosophy TV

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Roger Crisp and Daniel Star

Roger Crisp (left) and Daniel Star (right) on normative reasons.

Reasons for action occupy an increasingly central place in recent moral philosophy. Why? Crisp and Star address that question, and provide a handy taxonomy of different kinds of reasons, before they turn to two interrelated issues. First, they discuss the prospects for an analysis of reasons. Star offers an analysis in terms of evidence: a reason to φ is evidence that one ought to φ. Then (at 42:55) they discuss the buck-passing account of goodness — the view that reasons are provided by features of an object that make the object good, but not by its goodness itself — and Crisp explains why he finds fault with that account.

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Filed under Metaethics, Moral psychology

John Dupré and Alex Rosenberg

John Dupré (left) and Alex Rosenberg (right) on physicalist anti-reductionism.

According to physicalism, there is no non-physical stuff. According to reductionism, all facts can be captured by some purely physical description of the world. Nowadays, physicalist anti-reductionism is orthodox among philosophers. In this debate, Dupré defends that orthodoxy, while Rosenberg defends a considerably less popular view: physicalist reductionism.

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Filed under Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science

Don Fallis and Roy Sorensen

Don Fallis (left) and Roy Sorensen (right) on lying.

This episode is about knitting. Is the previous sentence a lie? Not according to the standard analysis, which requires that a lie must involve an intention to deceive. But the standard analysis faces surprisingly many challenges. In this conversation, Fallis and Sorensen examine those challenges, and consider an alternative analysis in terms of insincere assertion. Along the way, they discuss the methodology and value of this kind of analysis.

The Pepsi commercial mentioned at 50:16 is here.

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Filed under Methodology, Philosophy of Language, Value Theory, x-phi

Craig Callender and Sean Carroll

Craig Callender (left) and Sean Carroll (right) on the arrow of time and the multiverse.

According to the Past Hypothesis, the early universe was a low-entropy state, and entropy has been increasing ever since. Carroll thinks that the truth of the Past Hypothesis cries out for explanation; Callender thinks that its truth should be regarded as a brute law-like fact. They discuss this disagreement. Then (starting at 35:41) they discuss the explanatory merits of Carroll’s proposal that we inhabit a “baby universe” that is an offspring of another, higher-entropy universe.

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Filed under Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science