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Guiding Concepts: Essays on Normative Concepts, Knowledge, and Deliberation
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Ethics and Social Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5820-1145
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

This thesis addresses a range of questions about normativity, broadly understood. Recurring themes include (i) the idea of normative ‘action-guidance’, and the connection between normativity and motivational states, (ii) the possibility of normative knowledge and its role in deliberation, and (iii) the question of whether (and if so, how) normative concepts can themselves be evaluated.

The first two papers, ‘The Entanglement Problem and Idealization in Moral Philosophy’ and ‘Weighting Surprise Parties: Some Problems for Schroeder’, critically examine various versions of the view that what we ought to do depends on some (actual or hypothetical) motivational states, such as desires. It is suggested that such views are, for different but interrelated reasons, extensionally inadequate.

The third paper, ‘From Evolutionary Theory to Moral Skepticism, via Disagreement’ (co- authored with Folke Tersman), proposes that two arguments for moral skepticism can be combined in a mutually supportive way. A central role is played by the principle that a subject S knows that p only if S adherently believes that p, where this roughly means that S could not easily have failed to believe that p unless her epistemic position were worse or p were false. It is suggested that evolutionary considerations and facts about moral disagreement together indicate that moral beliefs violate this principle.

The fourth paper, ‘Ethics and the Question of What to Do’, offers an account of the so- called ‘central deliberative question’ that is highlighted by several kinds of choice situations, including those that involve normative uncertainty and normative conflicts. It is proposed that this question is not best understood as the question of what one ought to do, not even in an ‘all things considered’ sense, but as the question of what to do. A meta-normative view that involves elements of both cognitivism and non-cognitivism is put forward as the best explanation of this fact.

The fifth paper, ‘Meta-Skepticism’, develops a novel skeptical challenge to beliefs about the external world, the central idea being that even if beliefs about the external world can constitute knowledge, there are various other knowledge-like concepts that they cannot satisfy even if they are true. This raises the question of whether some of these concepts are epistemically more important than the others, and, in particular, the further question of how the relevant notion of ‘epistemic importance’ should be understood. Several answers to this question are considered and found wanting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University , 2020. , p. 48
Keywords [en]
action-guidance, adherence, all things considered ought, alternative normative concepts, conceptual engineering, debunking, deliberation, disagreement, epistemic pluralism, epistemology, ethics, external world skepticism, idealization, metaethics, meta-skepticism, moral skepticism, normativity, ought, reasons, response-dependence, uncertainty
National Category
Ethics Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-398744ISBN: 978-91-506-2798-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-398744DiVA, id: diva2:1378806
Public defence
2020-02-21, Humanistiska teatern, Engelska Parken, Thunbergsvägen 3C, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-01-29 Created: 2019-12-14 Last updated: 2020-01-29
List of papers
1. The Entanglement Problem and Idealization in Moral Philosophy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Entanglement Problem and Idealization in Moral Philosophy
2018 (English)In: Philosophical quarterly (Print), ISSN 0031-8094, E-ISSN 1467-9213, Vol. 68, no 272, p. 542-559Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

According to many popular views in normative ethics, meta-ethics, and axiology, facts about what we ought to do or what is good for us depend on facts about the attitudes that some agent would have in some relevant idealized circumstances. This paper presents an unrecognized structural problem for such views which threatens to be devastating.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2018
Keywords
Ought, value, ideal observer theory, subjectivism, response-dependence, attitude-dependence
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-334582 (URN)10.1093/pq/pqx064 (DOI)000434474900006 ()
Available from: 2017-11-24 Created: 2017-11-24 Last updated: 2019-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Weighting Surprise Parties: Some Problems For Schroeder
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Weighting Surprise Parties: Some Problems For Schroeder
2016 (English)In: Utilitas, ISSN 0953-8208, E-ISSN 1741-6183, Vol. 28, no 1, p. 101-107Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article I argue against Schroeder's account of the weight of normative reasons. It is shown that in certain cases an agent may have reasons she cannot know about without them ceasing to be reasons, and also reasons she cannot know about at all. Both possibilities are troubling for Schroeder's view.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2016
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Practical Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-262064 (URN)10.1017/S0953820815000394 (DOI)000370688100007 ()
Available from: 2015-09-08 Created: 2015-09-08 Last updated: 2019-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. From Evolutionary Theory to Moral Skepticism, via Disagreement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Evolutionary Theory to Moral Skepticism, via Disagreement
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-398743 (URN)
Available from: 2019-12-09 Created: 2019-12-09 Last updated: 2019-12-14
4. Ethics and the Question of What to Do
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethics and the Question of What to Do
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Ethics; Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-398741 (URN)
Available from: 2019-12-09 Created: 2019-12-09 Last updated: 2019-12-14
5. Meta-Skepticism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Meta-Skepticism
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Philosophy; Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-398742 (URN)
Available from: 2019-12-09 Created: 2019-12-09 Last updated: 2019-12-14

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