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Anjum, Rani Lill, Stephen Mumford. A Powerful Theory of Causation
2010, In Anna Marmodoro (ed.) The Metaphysics of Powers, Routledge (2010): 143-59.
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Added by: Jamie Collin

Abstract: Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and often produce them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science, or any course in which philosophical accounts of causation are relevant. This paper has the benefit of being both clear and non-technical, and being quite cutting-edge. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels.

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Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M.. Modern Moral Philosophy
1958, Philosophy 33(124): 1-19.
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Added by: Carl Fox

Abstract: I will begin by stating three theses which I present in this paper. The first is that it is not profitable for us at present to do moral philosophy; that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology, in which we are conspicuously lacking. The second is that the concepts of obligation, and duty – moral obligation and moral duty, that is to say – and of what is morally right and wrong, and of the moral sense of “ought,” ought to be jettisoned if this is psychologically possible; because they are survivals, or derivatives from survivals, from an earlier conception of ethics which no longer generally survives, and are only harmful without it. My third thesis is that the differences between the wellknown English writers on moral philosophy from Sidgwick to the present day are of little importance.

Comment: Classic text which raises key problems for any theory of moral obligation. Very short, although also very dense. Could be a core reading, or a futher reading to provide important background.

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Beebee, Helen. Hume on Causation
2006, Routledge.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez

Publisher’s Note: Hume on Causation is the first major work dedicated to Hume’s views on causation in over fifteen years, and it argues that Hume does not subscribe to any of the three views he is traditionally credited with. The first view is the ‘regularity view of causation’. The second is the view that the world appears to us as a world of unconnected events, and the third is inductive scepticism: the view that the ‘problem of induction’, the problem of providing a justification for inference from observed to unobserved regularities, is insoluble.It places Hume’s interest in causation within the context of his theory of the mind and his theory of causal reasoning, arguing that Hume’s conception of causation derives from his conception of the nature of the inference from causes to effects.

Comment: This book serves as an introduction to the topic of causation. Beebee covers all the major issues and debates in the topic. The books offers an overview that can help undergraduates to learn about the problem of causation and necessity connection. It could be useful as well for postgraduates who want to research Hume's views.

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Cohon, Rachel. Hume’s Moral Philosophy
2010, E. N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Introduction: Hume’s position in ethics, which is based on his empiricist theory of the mind, is best known for asserting four theses: (1) Reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the “slave of the passions” (see Section 3) (2) Moral distinctions are not derived from reason (see Section 4). (3) Moral distinctions are derived from the moral sentiments: feelings of approval (esteem, praise) and disapproval (blame) felt by spectators who contemplate a character trait or action (see Section 7). (4) While some virtues and vices are natural (see Section 13), others, including justice, are artificial (see Section 9). There is heated debate about what Hume intends by each of these theses and how he argues for them. He articulates and defends them within the broader context of his metaethics and his ethic of virtue and vice.

Hume’s main ethical writings are Book 3 of his Treatise of Human Nature, “Of Morals” (which builds on Book 2, “Of the Passions”), his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, and some of his Essays. In part the moral Enquiry simply recasts central ideas from the moral part of the Treatise in a more accessible style; but there are important differences. The ethical positions and arguments of the Treatise are set out below, noting where the moral Enquiry agrees; differences between the Enquiry and the Treatise are discussed afterwards.

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Foot, Philippa. Natural Goodness
2001, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion

Publisher’s Note: Philippa Foot has for many years been one of the most distinctive and influential thinkers in moral philosophy. Long dissatisfied with the moral theories of her contemporaries, she has gradually evolved a theory of her own that is radically opposed not only to emotivism and prescriptivism but also to the whole subjectivist, anti-naturalist movement deriving from David Hume. Dissatisfied with both Kantian and utilitarian ethics, she claims to have isolated a special form of evaluation that predicates goodness and defect only to living things considered as such; she finds this form of evaluation in moral judgements. Her vivid discussion covers topics such as practical rationality, erring conscience, and the relation between virtue and happiness, ending with a critique of Nietzsche’s immoralism. This long-awaited book exposes a highly original approach to moral philosophy and represents a fundamental break from the assumptions of recent debates. Foot challenges many prominent philosophical arguments and attitudes; but hers is a work full of life and feeling, written for anyone intrigued by the deepest questions about goodness and human.

Comment: This is an intermediate text which outlines and argues for the primary methodological differences between Foot’s account of the relationship between reason and morality, and the standard (broadly Humean) approach against which she is arguing. Some understanding of this standard approach is required to get the most out of this text. The text is clear throughout and would make a good compliment to courses which deal with the Humean account of Action or 20th century discussions concerning meta-ethics.

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Foot, Philippa. Virtues and Vices
1978, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: This collection of essays, written between 1957 and 1977, contains discussions of the moral philosophy of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and some modern philosophers. It presents virtues and vices rather than rights and duties as the central concepts in moral philosophy. Throughout, the author rejects contemporary anti? naturalistic moral philosophies such as emotivism and prescriptivism, but defends the view that moral judgements may be hypothetical rather than (as Kant thought) categorical imperatives. The author also applies her moral philosophy to the current debates on euthanasia and abortion, the latter discussed in relation to the doctrine of the double effect. She argues against the suggestion, on the part of A. J. Ayer and others, that free will actually requires determinism. In a final essay, she asks whether the concept of moral approval can be understood except against a particular background of social practices.

Comment: Foot stands out among contemporary ethical theorists because of her conviction that virtues and vices are more central ethical notions than rights, duties, justice, or consequences. Since the author discusses multiple relevant topics (abortion, euthanasia, free will/determination, and the ethics of Hume and Nietzsche) this book is a really complete reading for Ethics courses. The book can be used in both, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, but the last eight essays are more suitable for postgraduates.

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Gendler, Tamar Szabó. Alief and Belief
2008, Journal of Philosophy 105 (10): 634-663.
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Added by: Jie Gao

Abstract: I introduce and argue for the importance of a cognitive state that I call alief. Paradigmatic alief can be characterized as a mental state with associatively-linked content that is representational, affective and behavioral, and that is activated – consciously or unconsciously – by features of the subject’s internal or ambient environment. Alief is a more primitive state than either belief or imagination: it directly activates behavioral response patterns (as opposed to motivating in conjunction with desire or pretended desire.) I argue that alief explains a large number of otherwise perplexing phenomena and plays a far larger role in causing behavior than has typically been recognized by philosophers. I argue further that the notion can be invoked to explain both the effectiveness and the limitations of certain sorts of example-based reasoning, and that it lies at the core of habit-based views of ethics.

Comment: In this influential paper, Gendler argues for the existence of an important cognitive states that she calls alief. It is a highly-relevant material for teachings on many topics, for example forms of belief, rationality and belief, varieties of irrationality, implicit bias and etc, in upper-division undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses.

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Ginsborg, Hannah. Aesthetic Judgment and Perceptual Normativity
2006, Inquiry 49(5): 403-437.
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Added by: Ben McGorrigan, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: I draw a connection between the question, raised by Hume and Kant, of how aesthetic judgments can claim universal agreement, and the question, raised in recent discussions of nonconceptual content, of how concepts can be acquired on the basis of experience. Developing an idea suggested by Kant’s linkage of aesthetic judgment with the capacity for empirical conceptualization, I propose that both questions can be resolved by appealing to the idea of “perceptual normativity”. Perceptual experience, on this proposal, involves the awareness of its own appropriateness with respect to the object perceived, where this appropriateness is more primitive than truth or veridicality. This means that a subject can take herself to be perceiving an object as she (and anyone else) ought to perceive it, without first recognizing the object as falling under a corresponding concept. I motivate the proposal through a criticism of Peacocke’s account of concept-acquisition, which, I argue, rests on a confusion between the notion of a way something is perceived, and that of a way it is perceived as being. Whereas Peacocke’s account of concept-acquisition depends on an illicit slide between these two notions, the notion of perceptual normativity allows a legitimate transition between them: if someone’s perceiving something a certain way involves her taking it that she ought to perceive it that way, then she perceives the thing as being a certain way, so that the corresponding concept is available to her in perceptual experience.

Comment: This paper will mainly be of relevance in relation to the antinomy or paradox of taste, a problem famously examined by Hume and Kant. It may also be of use in relation to topics in the Philosophy of Perception or Epistemology, or in teaching on Kant's Critique of Judgment. Ginsbourg presents a very thorough discussion of the notion that perceptions make concepts available by involving implicit claims to their own appropriateness; she uses this idea to make an interesting and plausible contribution to the debate regarding the antinomy of taste.

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Piper, Adrian M. S.. Rationality and the Structure of the Self, Volume I: The Humean Conception
2008, APRA Foundation Berlin.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Adrian M. S. Piper

Publisher’s Note: The Humean conception of the self consists in the belief-desire model of motivation and the utility-maximizing model of rationality. This conception has dominated Western thought in philosophy and the social sciences ever since Hobbes’ initial formulation in Leviathan and Hume’s elaboration in the Treatise of Human Nature. Bentham, Freud, Ramsey, Skinner, Allais, von Neumann and Morgenstern and others have added further refinements that have brought it to a high degree of formal sophistication. Late twentieth century moral philosophers such as Rawls, Brandt, Frankfurt, Nagel and Williams have taken it for granted, and have made use of it to supply metaethical foundations for a wide variety of normative moral theories. But the Humean conception of the self also leads to seemingly insoluble problems about moral motivation, rational final ends, and moral justification. Can it be made to work?

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Tiberius, Valerie. Humean Heroism: Value Commitments and the Source of Normativity
2000, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 81(4) 426-46.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley

Abstract: This paper addresses the question “In virtue of what do practical reasons have normative force or justificatory power?” There seems to be good reason to doubt that desires are the source of normativity. However, I argue that the reasons to be suspicious of desire-based accounts of normativity can be overcome by a sufficiently sophisticated account. The position I defend in this paper is one according to which desires, or more generally, proattitudes, do constitute values and provide rational justifications of actions when they are organized in the right way.

Comment: A good defence of desire-based accounts of value, tackling some of the most intuitive objections (such as being "too subjective" and having no foundation in reason).

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