“Preempting Principles: Recent Debates in Moral Particularism”
Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge
Moral particularism, as recently defended, charges that traditional moral theorizing unduly privileges moral principles. Moral generalism defends a prominent place for moral principles. Because moral principles are often asked to play multiple roles, moral particularism aims at multiple targets. We distinguish two leading roles for moral principles, the role of standard and the role of guide. We critically survey some of the leading arguments both for and against principles so conceived.
Welfarism is the view that morality is centrally concerned with the welfare or well-being of individuals. The division between welfarist and non-welfarist approaches underlies many important disagreements in ethics, but welfarism is neither consistently defined nor well understood. I survey the philosophical work on welfarism, and I offer a suggestion about how the view can be characterized and how it can be embedded in various kinds of moral theory. I also identify welfarism’s major rivals, and its major attractions and weaknesses.
“Three Strands in Kripke’s Argument against the Identity Theory”
Kripke’s argument against the identity theory in the philosophy of mind runs as follows. Suppose some psychophysical identity statement S is true. Then S would seem to be contingent at least in the sense that S seems possibly false. And given that seeming contingency entails genuine contingency when it comes to such statements S is contingent. But S is necessary if true. So S is false. This entry considers responses to each of the three premises. It turns out that each response does not fully withstand scrutiny, and so Kripke’s conclusion is hard to resist. Section 1 lays out Kripke’s argument, and Sections 2 to 4 then discuss responses to each of the three premises respectively.
“Can Physicalism Be Non-Reductive?”
Can physicalism (or materialism) be non-reductive? I provide an opinionated survey of the debate on this question. I suggest that attempts to formulate non-reductive physicalism by appeal to claims of event identity, supervenience, or realization have produced doctrines that fail either to be physicalist or to be non-reductive. Then I treat in more detail a recent attempt to formulate non-reductive physicalism by Derk Pereboom, but argue that it fares no better.
“The Fine-Tuning Argument”
Neil A. Manson
The Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) is a variant of the Design Argument for the existence of God. In this paper the evidence of fine-tuning is explained and the Fine-Tuning Design Argument for God is presented. Then two objections are covered. The first objection is that fine-tuning can be explained in terms of the existence of multiple universes (the ‘multiverse’) plus the operation of the anthropic principle. The second objection is the ‘normalizability problem’– the objection that the Fine-Tuning Argument fails because fine-tuning is not actually improbable.
* Neil Manson also helped guest edit our “philosophical issues in intelligent design” issue (vol. 7, no. 2).