Our fundamental responsibility responses are emotional appraisals. How we express our anger, shame, regret, guilt, gratitude, etc., are ethical matters, though, about the ways we ought to treat our fellows. And the question of desert—as in “What does he deserve for what he did?”— is fundamentally an ethical question, i.e., “How should we treat those who do angersome things?” But the form of this question applies equally to all sorts of “non-responsibility” arenas as well, i.e., “How should we treat those who are economically worst off in our society?” or “How should we treat people with Huntington’s disease?” We can answer these questions in a variety of ways, but those answers aren’t necessarily dependent on our responsibility responses.
If Mike Tyson is my neighbor and continually wakes me up in the middle of the night by playing smooth jazz loudly through his open window, I’d best not show my anger to him. I may judge that I shouldn’t feel angry, but I feel it nonetheless when I hear Kenny G start up at 2 a.m. In this instance, my anger is perfectly fitting and rational: Mike Tyson is slighting me, that is, not taking me and my ends seriously. But is this reflective of Mike’s deep self, his strong evaluations about what’s important in life? And does any of this make any difference about whether I hold him responsible? Philosopher Dave Shoemaker discusses this and related questions.
An interview with philosopher Dave Shoemaker about his new book, Responsibility from the Margins, that discusses how our conceptions of moral responsibility depend on, or are even constituted by, our emotional reactions to the actions, omissions, and attitudes of others.
A video of a classic Pre-Pythonic dialogue.
A roundup of recent philosophical activity on the Internet.
Philosopher Peter Railton, who recently gave the John Dewey Lecture at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association, is being widely praised for his courage because of one of the topics he addressed: his own struggles with depression, and how that’s connected with his philosophical activity.
“I don’t know how many times we’ve been at a philosophy party when I wander back to my philosopher after making the rounds of conversation with other non-philosophers, I discover that he is in heated and angry-sounding discussion with other philosophers. When it’s all over, though, everyone is happy and joking and full of philosophy intoxication.”
In 2011, Dan Conley started, and completed, My Montaigne Project: a series of 107 essays, one a day for 107 days, each inspired by one of Montaigne’s 107 Essais. This week, he brought it back to the web with a newly designed website.
In this review of Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing, Francis Fukuyama claims that “It should be clear that the Straussian project has no particular implications for contemporary American foreign policy . . . “
Human children are quite different from the progeny of closely related animals like chimps. They are much more inclined to cooperate and seem driven to understand what goes on in others’ minds way. What makes humans unique in this way? To address this problem, evolutionary psychologists have borrowed an idea from philosphers: collective intentionality.
Intellectual honesty (or integrity) is a special case of moral integrity, according to Thomas Metzinger. While this ideal is admirable, Metzinger narrowly defines intellectual honesty it in a way that is inadequate to current debates concerning religious epistemology.