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Gendler, Tamar Szabó, and . Alief in Action (and Reaction)

2008, Mind and Language 23 (5): 552- 585

Abstract: I introduce and argue for the importance of a cognitive state that I call alief. An alief is, to a reasonable approximation, an innate or habitual propensity to respond to an apparent stimulus in a particular way. Recognizing the role that alief plays in our cognitive repertoire provides a framework for understanding reactions that are governed by nonconscious or automatic mechanisms, which in turn brings into proper relief the role played by reactions that are subject to conscious regulation and deliberate control.

Comment: This is an introductory paper on alief. It provides an account of alief and argues for its role in governing non-conscious or automatic actions. The paper is useful for teachings on philosophy of action, mental attitudes, moral philosophy, social psychology, etc.

Gendler, Tamar Szabó, and . On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias

2011, Philosophical Studies 156 (1): 33-63.

Summary: Tamar Gendler argues that, for those living in a society in which race is a salient sociological feature, it is impossible to be fully rational: members of such a society must either fail to encode relevant information containing race, or suffer epistemic costs by being implicitly racist.

Comment: In this paper, Gendler argues that there is an epistemic costs for being racists. It is a useful material for teachings on philosophy of bias, social psychology, epistemology and etc. Note that there are two nice comments on this paper: one is Andy Egan (2011) "Comments on Gendler's 'the epistemic costs of implicit bias', the other is Joshua Mugg (2011) "What are the cognitive costs of racism? a reply to Gendler". Those two papers can be used togehter with Gendler's paper in increasing a dynamic of debate.

Lafont, Christina, and . Alternative Visions of a New Global Order: What Should Cosmopolitans Hope For?

2008, Ethics and Global Politics (1).

Abstract: In this essay, I analyze the cosmopolitan project for a new international order that Habermas has articulated in recent publications. I argue that his presentation of the project oscillates between two models. The first is a very ambitious model for a future international order geared to fulfill the peace and human rights goals of the UN Charter. The second is a minimalist model, in which the obligation to protect human rights by the international community is circumscribed to the negative duty of preventing wars of aggression and massive human rights violations due to armed conflicts such as ethnic cleansing or genocide. According to this model, any more ambitious goals should be left to a global domestic politics, which would have to come about through negotiated compromises among domesticated major powers at the transnational level. I defend the ambitious model by arguing that there is no basis for drawing a normatively significant distinction between massive human rights violations due to armed conflicts and those due to regulations of the global economic order. I conclude that the cosmopolitan goals of the Habermasian project can only be achieved if the principles of transnational justice recognized by the international community are ambitious enough to cover economic justice.

Comment: This article addresses topics that may be covered by a wide variety of courses. Lafont addresses both a Rawlsian and a Habermasian theory of global justice and international law, making this a good text to supplement a course that covers institutional proposals for global justice and fulfilling other cosmopolitan obligations.

Zagzebski, Linda, and . Does Ethics Need God?

1987, Faith and Philosophy 4: 294-303.

Abstract: This essay presents a moral argument for the rationality of theistic belief. If all I have to go on morally are my own moral intuitions and reasoning and those of others, I am rationally led to skepticism, both about the possibility of moral knowledge and about my moral effectiveness. This skepticism is extensive, amounting to moral despair. But such despair cannot be rational. It follows that the assumption of the argument must be false and I must be able to rely on more than my own human powers and those of others in attempting to live a moral life. The Christian God has such a function. Hence, if it is rational to attempt a moral life, it is rational to believe in the Christian God.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy of religion, metaethics or a course in which the epistemology of disagreement is relevant. This is a short, clear and simple paper which would be suitable for first year undergraduates.