Volume 19 (2019)

    Fanaticism and Sacred Values

    Paul Katsafanas

    May 2019, vol. 19, no. 17, pp. 1-20

    What, if anything, is fanaticism? Philosophers including Locke, Hume, Shaftesbury, and Kant offered an account of fanaticism, analyzing it as (1) unwavering commitment to an ideal, together with (2) unwillingness to subject the ideal (or its premises) to rational critique and (3) the presumption of a non-rational sanction for the ideal. In the first part of the paper, I explain this account and argue that it does not succeed: among other things, it entails that a paradigmatically peaceful and tolerant individual can be a fanatic. The following sections argue that the fanatic is distinguished by four features: (4) the adoption of sacred values; (5) the need to treat these values as unconditional and unquestionable in order to preserve a particular form of psychic unity; (6) the sense that the status of these values is threatened by lack of widespread acceptance; and (7) the identification with a group, where the group is defined by shared commitment to the sacred values. If the account succeeds, it not only reveals the nature of fanaticism, but also uncovers a distinctive form of ethical critique: we can critique a way of understanding values not on the grounds that it is false, but on the grounds that it promotes a particular form of social pathology.

    Risk and Motivation: When the Will is Required to Determine What to Do

    Dylan Murray and Lara Buchak

    May 2019, vol. 19, no. 16, pp. 1-12

    Within philosophy of action, there are three broad views about what, in addition to beliefs, answer the question of “what to do?” and so determine an agent’s motivation: desires (Humeanism), judgments about values/reasons (rationalism), or states of the will, such as intentions (volitionalism). We argue that recent work in decision theory vindicates the volitionalist. “What to do?” isn’t settled by “what do I value” or “what reasons are there?” Rational motivation further requires determining how to trade off the possibility of a good outcome against the possibility of a bad one—i.e., determining how much of a risk to take. The risk attitudes that embody this tradeoff seem best understood as intentions: as self-governing policies to weight desires or reasons in certain ways. That we need to settle our risk attitudes before making most decisions corroborates Bratman’s claim that self-governing policies are required for resolving impasses of evaluative and normative underdetermination. Moreover, far from being rare or confined to tie-breakings, cases that are underdetermined but for one’s risk attitudes are typical of everyday decision-making. The will is required for most rational action.

    Pragmatic Encroachment and the Challenge from Epistemic Injustice

    Mikkel Gerken

    May 2019, vol. 19, no. 15, pp. 1-19

    I present a challenge to epistemological pragmatic encroachment theories from epistemic injustice. The challenge invokes the idea that a knowing subject may be wronged by being regarded as lacking knowledge due to social identity prejudices. However, in an important class of such cases, pragmatic encroachers appear to be committed to the view that the subject does not know. Hence, pragmatic encroachment theories appear to be incapable of accounting for an important type of injustice – namely, discriminatory epistemic injustice. Consequently, pragmatic encroachment theories run the risk of obscuring or even sanctioning epistemically unjust judgments that arise due to problematic social stereotypes or unjust folk epistemological biases. In contrast, the epistemological view that rejects pragmatic encroachment – namely, strict purist invariantism – is capable of straightforwardly diagnosing the cases of discriminatory epistemic injustice as such. While the challenge is not a conclusive one, it calls for a response. Moreover, it illuminates very different conceptions of epistemology’s role in mitigating epistemic injustice.

    Markets, Interpersonal Practices, and Signal Distortion

    Barry Maguire and Brookes Brown

    May 2019, vol. 19, no. 14, pp. 1-16

    Semiotic objections to market exchange of a good or service maintain that such exchanges signal an inappropriate attitude to the good or to associated individuals, and that this provides a weighty reason against having or participating in such markets. This style of argument has recently come under withering attack from Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski (2015a, 2015b). They point out that the significance of any market exchange is explained by a contingent semiotic norm. Given the tremendous value that could be realised by markets in, for instance, bone marrow, or kidneys, deferring to such norms across the board would have very significant opportunity costs. In the absence of any rationale for these norms, they should be ignored completely. We provide one important rationale. Unlike many semiotic objections to markets, we provide a broadly consequentialist semiotic argument. We argue that a range of behaviours play important signalling roles in interpersonal social practices; in particular, in practices involving caring, esteem, and testimony. Markets in these behaviours would distort these signals. Moreover, many of the productive advantages yielded by markets rely in turn on positive market norms that also inhibit the signalling behaviours associated with these non-market behaviours. We conclude that there will inevitably be trade-offs between the distributive advantages of new markets and these interpersonal social practices.

    Coming Soon

    Honesty, Humility, Courage, & Strength: Later Wittgenstein on the Difficulties of Philosophy and the Philosophical Virtues

    Gabriel Citron

    Basic Action and Practical Knowledge

    Will Small

    Spinoza on Intentionality, Materialism, and Mind-Body Relations

    Karolina Hübner