Masters workshop in Epistemology, Ethics and Mind
- Dr Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (Aarhus University), "Higher-order Defeat and Doxastic Resilience"
- Dr Theron Pummer (University of St Andrews), "Whether and Where to Give"
- Dr Jennifer Corns (University of Glasgow), "Propositional Pleasures and Displeasures"
|1.00pm – 2.25pm||
|Respondent: Henry Lara-Steidel|
|2.30pm – 3.55pm||
|Respondent: Howard Landis|
|4.00pm – 5.25pm||
|Respondent: Louis Lopresti|
Higher-order Defeat and Doxastic Resilience (Dr Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen)
When higher-order evidence makes it rational for one to doubt that one’s own belief on some matter is rational, this in itself undermines the rationality of that belief. This is known as higher-order defeat. However, despite its intuitive plausibility, it is puzzling how higher-order defeat works. It cannot be easily understood in terms of conditionalization; and it can seemingly place agents in epistemic dilemmas. I try to make progress on our understanding of higher-order defeat by drawing attention to an overlooked aspect of it, namely that it can undermine the resilience of one’s beliefs.
Whether and Where to Give (Dr Theron Pummer)
Effective altruists recommend that we give large sums to charity, but by far their more central message is that we give effectively, i.e., to whatever charities would do the most good per dollar donated. In this paper, I’ll assume that it’s not wrong not to give bigger, but will explore to what extent it may well nonetheless be wrong not to give better. The main claim I’ll argue for here is that in many cases it would be wrong of you to give a sum of money to charities that do less good than others you could have given to instead, even if it would not have been wrong of you not to give the money to any charity at all. I assume that all the charities under discussion here do positive good overall, do not cause harm, do not infringe rights, etc. What makes my main claim here particularly interesting is that it is inconsistent with what appears to be a fairly common assumption in the ethics of giving, according to which if it is not wrong of you to keep some sum of money for yourself, then it is likewise not wrong of you to donate it to any particular charity you choose. Roughly: if it’s up to you whether to donate the money, it’s also up to you where to donate the money. I challenge this common assumption.
Propositional Pleasures and Displeasures (Dr Jennifer Corns)
In everyday life, we countenance a wide range of pleasant and unpleasant mental episode. Call pleasant and unpleasant propositional attitudes propositional pleasures and displeasures. These are standardly assumed to present a principled advantage for attitudinal theories of hedonics over their felt-quality rivals: attitudinal theories of sensory pleasures and displeasures, at least in principle, may be extended to the propositional, and thereby yield a plausible, unified hedonic theory, while felt-quality theories, even in principle, cannot. I here argue against this assumption. There are neglected reasons to be skeptical that attitudinal theories, which posit a conative attitude to explain hedonics, will yield a plausible, unified hedonic theory—whether the intentional target of the conative attitude is the hedonic episode itself or the intentional target of the hedonic episode. At the same time, there are neglected reasons to be optimistic that felt-quality theories, which posit mental qualities to explain hedonics, may after all yield a plausible, unified hedonic theory. While one may reject the very existence of propositional pleasures and displeasures, we should all reject the standard assumption that they present a principled advantage for attitudinal theories.