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Sidgwick on Moral Motivation
Sidgwick holds that moral judgments are claims about what it is reasonable to do. He also holds that these judgments about what it is reasonable to do can motivate. He must, then, respond to Hume's argument that reason cannot motivate. I clarify Sidgwick's claims, give his argument against Hume, and reply to various Humean objections.
Beyond Phenomenal Naiveté
The naive realist takes a veridical visual experience to be an immediate relation to external entities. Is this how such an experience is phenomenally, by its phenomenal character? Only if there can be phenomenal error, since a hallucinatory experience phenomenally matching such a veridical experience would then be phenomenally but not in fact such a relation. Fortunately, such phenomenal error can be avoided: the phenomenal character of a visual experience involves immediate awareness of a sort of picture of external entities, as on a representative theory of perception. The attraction of naive realism results from an erroneous projection of the immediacy of the subject's awareness of this picture onto the external entities pictured.
The Act of Choice
Choice is one of the central elements in the experience of free will, but it has not received a good account from either compatibilists or libertarians. This paper develops an account of choice based around three features: (i) choice is an action; (ii) choice is not determined by one's prior beliefs and desires; (iii) once the question of what to do has arisen, choice is typically both necessary and sufficient for moving to action. These features might appear to support a libertarian account, but they do not. Instead it is argued that all three features can be accommodated within a compatibilist account, where choice is needed because of agents' inabilities to arrive at judgements about what is best. Choice differs though from random picking: in choosing, agents frequently (though not always) deploy abilities that enable them to make good choices. In such cases, judgements about what is best will frequently follow the choice. Finally, choice is distinguished from agency and, on the basis of the distinction, the claim that choice is an action is made good.
The Virtue of Law-Abidance
The last half-century has seen a steady loss of confidence in the defensibility of a duty to obey the law - even a qualified, pro tanto duty to obey the laws of a just or nearly just state. Over roughly the same period, there has been increasing interest in virtue ethics as an alternative to the dominant consequentialist and deontological approaches to normative ethics. Curiously, these two tendencies have so far only just barely linked up. Although there has been discussion of the question whether patriotism should be considered a virtue, and abstract discussion about the virtuous person's relation to authority and justice in general, there has been little virtue-oriented discussion having specific reference to the kinds of difficulties that have motivated the ascendant skepticism about political obligation. This silence has persisted despite repeated calls for renewed work on "virtue politics ". This article proposes and defends a preliminary account of law-abidance (as contrasted to obedience) as a virtue. It argues that a virtue-theoretic account of our relation to the law offers advantages that are not contingent upon the independence or priority of the virtues with respect to consequentialist and deontological components of a complete moral theory. Chief among these advantages is the promise of an alternative to the deadlocked positions taken by apologists for the duty to obey the law and their philosophical-anarchist critics - positions which have tacitly been assumed to exhaust the viable possibilities.
|William A. Edmundson