RichardChappell

RichardChappell's Comments

To capture anti-death intuitions, include memory in utilitarianism

It's not unusual to count "thwarted aims" as a positive bad of death (as I've argued for myself in my paper Value Receptacles), which at least counts against replacing people with only slightly happier people (though still leaves open that it may be worthwhile to replace people with much happier people, if the extra happiness is sufficient to outweigh the harm of the first person's thwarted ends).

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

In the case you describe, the "HSC content" is just that Jesus is magic. So there's no argument being offered at all. Now, if they offer an actual argument, from some other p to the conclusion that Jesus is magic, then we can assess this argument like any other. How the arguer came to believe the original premise p is not particularly relevant. What you call the "defeater critique", I call the genetic fallacy.

It's true that an interlocutor is never going to be particularly moved by an argument that starts from premises he doesn't accept. Such is life.

The more interesting question is whether the arguer herself should be led to abandon her intuited judgments. But unless you offer some positive evidence for an alternative rational credence to place in p, it's not clear that a "debunking" explanation of her current level of credence should, by itself, make any difference.

Think of intuitied judgments as priors. Someone might say, "There's no special reason to think that your priors are well-calibrated." And that may be true, but it doesn't change what our priors are. We can't start from anywhere but where we start.

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

Yes, that's the idea. I mean, (2) is plausibly true if the "because" is meant in a purely causal, rather than rationalizing, sense. But we don't take the fact that we stand in a certain psychological relation to this content (i.e., intuiting it) to play any essential justifying role.

Thanks for following up on this issue! I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts.

By Which It May Be Judged

I'm not sure what you have in mind here. We need to distinguish (i) the referent of a concept from (ii) its reference-fixing "sense" or functional role. The way I understood your view, the reference-fixing story for moral terms involves our (idealized) desires. But the referent is "rigid" in the sense that it's picking out the content of our desires: the thing that actually fills the functional role, rather than the role-property itself.

Since our desires typically aren't themselves about our desires, so it will turn out, on this story, that morality is not "about" desires. It's about "love, friendship," and all that jazz. But there's a story to be told about how our moral concepts came to pick out these particular worldly properties. And that's where desires come in (as I understand your view). Our moral concepts pick out these particular properties because they're the contents of our idealized desires. But that's not to say that therefore morality is "really" just about fulfilling any old desires. For that would be to neglect the part that rigid designation, and the distinction between reference and reference-fixing, plays in this story.

Does that capture your view? To further clarify: the point of appealing to "rigid designation" is just to explain how desires could play a reference-fixing role without being any part of the referent of moral talk (or what it is "about"). Isn't that what you're after? Or do you have some other reference-fixing story in mind?

By Which It May Be Judged

Correct. Eliezer has misunderstood rigid designation here.

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

Jonathan Ichikawa, 'Who Needs Intuitions'

Elizabeth Harman, 'Is it Reasonable to “Rely on Intuitions” in Ethics?

Timothy Williamson, 'Evidence in Philosophy', chp 7 of The Philosophy of Philosophy.

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

The debate over intuitions is one of the hottest in philosophy today

But it -- at least the "debate over intuitions" that I'm most familiar with -- isn't about whether intuitions are reliable, but rather over whether the critics have accurately specified the role they play in traditional philosophical methodology. That is, the standard response to experimentalist critics (at least, in my corner of philosophy) is not to argue that intuitions are "reliable evidence", but rather to deny that we are using them as evidence at all. On this view, what we appeal to as evidence is not the psychological fact of my having an intuition, but rather the propositional content being judged.

The purpose of thought experiments, on this view, is to enable one to grasp new evidence (namely, the proposition in question) that they hadn't considered before. Of course, this isn't a "neutral" methodology because only those who intuit the true proposition thereby gain genuine evidence. But the foolishness of such a "neutrality" constraint (and the associated "psychological" view of evidence) is one of the major lessons of contemporary epistemology (see, esp., Williamson).

Causal Reference

And this responds to what I said... how?

Causal Reference

It's a nice parable and all, but it doesn't seem particularly responsive to my concerns. I agree that we can use any old external items as tokens to model other things, and that there doesn't have to be anything "special" about the items we make use of in this way, except that we intend to so use them. Such "derivative intentionality" is not particularly difficult to explain (nor is the weak form of "natural intentionality" in which smoke "means" fire, tree rings "signify" age, etc.). The big question is whether you can account for the fully-fledged "original intentionality" of (e.g.) our thoughts and intentions.

In particular, I don't see anything in the above excerpt that addresses intuitive doubts about whether zombies would really have meaningful thoughts in the sense familiar to us from introspection.

Causal Reference

This is somewhat absurd

More than that, it's obviously incoherent. I assume your point is that the same should be said of zombies? Probably reaching diminishing returns in this discussion, so I'll just note that the general consensus of the experts in conceptual analysis (namely, philosophers) disagrees with you here. Even those who want to deny that zombies are metaphysically possible generally concede that the concept is logically coherent.

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