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Bergqvist, Anna, , . Thick Concepts and Context Dependence
2013, Southwest Philosophy Review 29(1): 221-32.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper I develop my account of moral particularism, focussing on the nature of thick moral concepts. My aim is to show how the particularist can consistently uphold an non-reductive cognitivist ‘dual role’ view of thick moral concepts, even though she holds that the qualities ascribed by such concepts can vary in their moral relevance – so that to judge that something is generous or an act of integrity need not entail that the object of evaluative appraisal is good to some extent. A novel particularist account of thick concepts is proposed, in response to recent work on variance holism. The particularist rejects the holist’s attempt to preserve the idea that thick concepts are evaluative concepts by postulating a special semantic content, a contextually variable evaluative valence, as theoretically unmotivated and conceptually confused. Instead it is argued that the thick concepts have determinable evaluative content in situ only.

Comment: This paper deals with very specific issues relating to how a particularist ought to construe thick concepts. It may be useful as further reading on Jonathan Dancy’s work.

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Chan, Rebecca, , . Religious Experience, Voluntarist Reasons, and the Transformative Experience Puzzle
2016, Res Philosophica 93 (1):269-287 (2016)
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: Transformative experiences are epistemically and personally transformative: prior to having the experience, agents cannot predict the value of the experience and cannot anticipate how it will change their core values and preferences. Paul argues that these experiences pose a puzzle for standard decision-making procedures because values cannot be assigned to outcomes involving transformative experience. Responding philosophers are quick to point out that decision procedures are built to handle uncertainty, including the uncertainty generated by transformative experience. My paper enters here and contributes two points. First, religious experiences are transformative experiences that are especially resistant to these responses. Second, a procedure that appeals to voluntarist reasons – reasons arising from an act of the will – can allow an agent to rationally decide to undergo or avoid an outcome involving transformative experience. Combining these two points results in some interesting implications with respect to practical aspects of religion.

Comment: This text could be used as a further reading in a week focusing on transformative experiences. It would be most suitable for a third year module, but could also work in lower years.

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Chong-Ming Lim, , . Effectiveness and ecumenicity
2019, Journal of Moral Philosophy 16(5), 590–612
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Abstract: Effective altruism is purportedly ecumenical towards different moral views, charitable causes, and evidentiary methods. I argue that effective altruists’ criticisms of purportedly less effective charities are inconsistent with their commitment to ecumenicity. Individuals may justifiably support charities other than those recommended by effective altruism. If effective altruists take their commitment to ecumenicity seriously, they will have to revise their criticisms of many of these charities.

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Clardy, Justin Leonard, , . ‘I Don’t Want To be a Playa No More’: An Exploration of the Denigrating effects of ‘Player’ as a Stereotype Against African American Polyamorous Men
2018, Analize: Journal of Gender and Feminist Studies 1, 38-58
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper shows how amatonormativity and its attendant social pressures converge at the intersections of race, gender, romantic relationality, and sexuality to generate peculiar challenges to polyamorous African American men in American society. Contrary to the view maintained in the “slut-vs-stud” phenomenon, I maintain that the label ‘player’ when applied to polyamorous African American men functions as a pernicious stereotype and has denigrating effects. Specifically, I argue that stereotyping polyamorous African American men as players estranges them from themselves and it constrains their agency by preemptively foreclosing the set of possibilities of what one’s sexual or romantic relational identities can be.

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French, Shannon E.; McCain, John, , . The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present
2004, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Back matter: Warrior cultures throughout history have developed unique codes that restrict their behavior and set them apart from the rest of society. But what possible reason could a warrior have for accepting such restraints? Why should those whose profession can force them into hellish kill-or-be-killed conditions care about such lofty concepts as honor, courage, nobility, duty, and sacrifice? And why should it matter so much to the warriors themselves that they be something more than mere murderers? The Code of the Warrior tackles these timely issues and takes the reader on a tour of warrior cultures and their values, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the “barbaric” Vikings and Celts, from legendary chivalric knights to Native American tribesmen, from Chinese warrior monks pursuing enlightenment to Japanese samurai practicing death. Drawing these rich traditions up to the present, the author quests for a code for the warriors of today, as they do battle in asymmetric conflicts against unconventional forces and the scourge of global terrorism.

Comment: A longish article, but very useful as a thorough critique of luck egalitarianism, for the author’s take on the capability approach, and for her account of democratic equality which revolves around the ideal of democratic citizenship

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Govier, Trudy, , . What’s Wrong with Slippery Slope Arguments?
1982, Canadian journal of philosophy. 12(2): 303-316.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Content: Govier distinguishes four kinds of slippery slope arguments – conceptual, precedential, causal and mixed – and argues that only the last kind are likely to ever be sound.

Comment: Useful in teaching about fallacious arguments in general, and about moral arguments an popular discourse about such arguments in particular.

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Harman, Elizabeth, , . Does moral ignorance exculpate?
2011, Ratio 24 (4):443-468.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: Non-moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill’s coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one’s action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one’s beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on which many agents who act wrongly are blameworthy despite believing they are acting morally permissibly, and despite not having mismanaged their moral beliefs.1

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Heinzelmann, Nora, , . Deontology defended
2018, Synthese 195 (12):5197–5216
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason. Deontological ethics is a mere rationalization of these emotions. Accordingly Greene maintains that deontology should be abandoned. This paper is a defense of deontological ethical theory. It argues that Greene’s argument against deontology needs further support. Greene’s empirical evidence is open to alternative interpretations. In particular, it is not clear that Greene’s characterization of alarm-like emotions that are relative to culture and personal experience is empirically tenable. Moreover, it is implausible that such emotions produce specifically deontological judgments. A rival sentimentalist view, according to which all moral judgments are determined by emotion, is at least as plausible given the empirical evidence and independently supported by philosophical theory. I therefore call for an improvement of Greene’s argument.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Exploring African Philosophy of Difference
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 15-30
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: It is the tradition of philosophy as a rational and critical human activity across borders to isolate specific human ideas both as syntax and as real and lived human experiences, bring them to the foreground, and make them occupy a crucial and specialized place in philosophical discourse. This is apparent in the many delimited branches of philosophy such as metaphysics – an inquiry into the fundamental principles underlying reality; epistemology – an inquiry concerning the nature, scope, and theories of human knowledge; axiology – an inquiry into the theories of human values; and philosophy of science – a critical examination of the nature, methods, and assumptions of science. African philosophy has thrived and flourished in the last six decades beginning as a reactionary scholarship to prior denial of the possibility of its existence, to becoming an established academic discipline. However, African philosophy although succeeding in establishing its general nature, themes, and problems, is still at the elementary stage of discussing specifics and delimiting its areas of inquiry into specialized fragments. Thus, beyond the general commentaries on African philosophy in existing literature, it is only recently that we find a few scholars writing and laying the groundwork on specialized themes in African philosophy such as African ethics, African epistemology, and African ontology. My goal in this chapter is to bring one essential human experience to the foreground in African philosophy as a specialized area of inquiry. The human experience that interests me here is the ubiquitous concept of difference and the peculiarities of its experience by Africans in Africa and beyond. My intention is to attempt a preliminary sketch of the meaning, nature, scope, and primary tasks of African philosophy of difference. I show, for instance, how African philosophy of difference can shift the discourse of difference from empirical manifestations of difference to an exploration of the theories that stands under such manifestations. I conclude that African philosophy of difference is crucial in understanding and dealing with the complex issues of identity, difference, and the other experienced in Africa in areas such as albinism, xenophobia, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and politics. The possibility of such an inquiry also indicates the prospect of delimiting African philosophy to more specialized spheres of discourse.

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Mulla, Zubin R. and Krishnan, Venkat R., , . Transformational Leadership. Do the Leader’s Morals Matter and Do the Follower’s Morals Change?
2011, Journal of Human Values 17 (2):129-143.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: In a study of 205 leader–follower pairs, we investigated the impact of the leader’s values and empathy on followers’ perception of transformational leadership and the effect of transformational leadership on followers’ values and empathy. The moderating effect of leader–follower relationship duration on the effect of transformational leadership on followers’ values and empathy was also investigated. We found that the leader’s values were related to transformational leadership and transformational leadership was related to followers’ values. Over time, the relationship between transformational leadership and followers’ empathy and values became stronger

Comment: This text provides an excellent background reading on issues related to leadership and business ethics, making clear connections between philosophical theory and its practical application.

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Paul, L.A., , . Transformative Experience
2014, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: How should we make choices when we know so little about our futures? L. A. Paul argues that we must view life decisions as choices to make discoveries about the nature of experience. Her account of transformative experience holds that part of the value of living authentically is to experience our lives and preferences in whatever ways they evolve.

Comment: This book raises interesting issues regarding imagination and how far we can imagine experiences, as well as ethics and decision making. It could be the basis for a whole module on the topic, or particular chapters could be discussed e.g. in relation to decision-making.

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Roberts, Debbie, , . Thick Concepts
2013, Philosophy Compass 8(8): 677-88.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley, Contributed by:

Abstract: In ethics, aesthetics, and increasingly in epistemology, a distinction is drawn between thick and thinevaluative concepts. A common characterisation of the distinction is that thin concepts have only evaluative content whereas thick concepts combine evaluative and descriptive content. Because of thiscombination it is, again commonly, thought that thick concepts have various distinctive powersincluding the power to undermine the distinction between fact and value. This paper discusses theaccuracy of this view of the thick concepts debate, as well as assessing the prospects for a thickconcepts argument against the fact value distinction, while introducing the three main philosophicalpositions on the nature of thick concepts.

Comment: Useful in metaethics courses and relates to work by Bernard Williams, but it is also useful for translating to epistemic values too e.g. in virtue epistemology.

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Shapiro, Lisa, , . Descartes’s Ethics
2008, In Janet Broughton & John Carriero (eds.), A companion to Descartes. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 445-463.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Alberto Vanzo

Abstract: I begin my discussion by considering how to relate Descartes’s more general concern with the conduct of life to the metaphysics and epistemology in the foreground of his philosophical project. I then turn to the texts in which Descartes offers his developed ethical thought and present the case for Descartes as a virtue ethicist. My argument emerges from seeing that Descartes’s conception of virtue and the good owes much to Stoic ethics, a school of thought which saw a significant revival in the seventeenth century. It does, however, deviate from classical Stoicism in critical ways. Towards the end of my discussion, I return to the question of the relation between Descartes’s ethics and his metaphysics and epistemology, and I suggest that the Discourse on the Method for Rightly Conducting Reason and the Meditations on First Philosophy are invested with the virtue ethical considerations of moral education and the regulation of the passions, respectively.

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