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David Faraci
Blacksburg, VA
Recent Activity
I hope the Soupers won't mind a bit of public philosophy! Arguably, the jury is still out regarding the ethics of compensation for organ donation (and even more so for allowing organ purchase). Legally speaking, in the United States... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at PEA Soup
Robert, thanks, I hadn't heard about that, and it certainly does seem similar.
As has been widely discussed both here (at least a couple of times) and elsewhere, there are numerous problems with traditional publishing models. Some of these have been admirably addressed by the move to open access journals like Philosophers' Imprint... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2016 at PEA Soup
I think it's impermissible. I don't think the fact that the would-be saver is an agent makes a moral difference. So, I don't think this is different from deflecting an asteroid carrying the cure for the dying. And I don't think deflecting the asteroid is (much, if at all) different from killing them yourself.
Toggle Commented Apr 30, 2016 on Share Your Intuitions about a Case at PEA Soup
The Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics (GISME), located in Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, invites applications for the 2015 Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop. The aim of the workshop is to provide critical feedback to junior... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2015 at PEA Soup
David, In an ideal world, papers would be reviewed by only those who are really qualified to review them,* and who will take that job seriously. The question is whether this ideal is better approximated by a top-down system like yours or crowd-sourcing system like the one I'm proposing. Just a couple of preliminary thoughts: First, it seems to me that the current system does far from a perfect job of this. Even top journals ask people to referee papers when they have little to no evidence that those people are experts in the relevant subfield. Nothing in your system seems prepared to improve upon this. Indeed, if Dale's worries about incentives is at all legitimate, it might turn out to be worse. In contrast, the hope with a crowd-sourced system would be that with a large number of participants, most of whom would have enough integrity to rate only those papers they are qualified to rate, and who would do their best to set aside personal biases, the trolls get swamped. There is at least some evidence (e.g., perhaps, Amazon) that this can work. Finally, the above suggests a major advantage of the crowd-sourcing system with respect to the worry about false negatives, which is that crowd-sourcing is dynamic: A paper's grade is not "locked in" by one review. *It's actually not clear to me that this should always be people who work in the relevant subfield; but I'll set that aside here.
Toggle Commented May 21, 2015 on An Alternative to Journals? at PEA Soup
David, I certainly think that something along these lines is a good direction to go in. I'd like to hear more about why you prefer (if you do) a centralized grading system over crowd-sourcing. We might (even more cheaply!) just let everyone post papers to a central location and institute a voting system, say either grades or Reddit-style up/down votes?
Toggle Commented May 19, 2015 on An Alternative to Journals? at PEA Soup
First off, you might have noticed this post vanished and then reappeared. I hadn't realized that people were having trouble with comments. At the request of the editors, I postponed briefly to make room for discussion on Ralph's original post (sorry Ralph!). If people are still having trouble commenting, I'm happy to postpone again. If not, maybe this will encourage discussion on both posts! To answer your question, Hille, I think I want to argue something like this: 1. If X is necessary-if-true, then if we believe X and X is true, we are guaranteed to be sensitive to X. 2. If our X-belief-forming mechanisms are stable across nearby possible worlds, then if we believe X and X is true, our belief in X is safe. 3. The modal security of our normative beliefs is derived from the assumption that our normative beliefs are true in combination with: (a) 1 above; (b) the metaphysical necessity of the basic normative truths; (c) 2 above; (d) the availability of stable genealogies for our normative beliefs (e.g., evolutionary stories). 4. None of (nor any combination of) (a)-(d) is relevant to the question of whether or how our normative beliefs track the normative truth at the actual world. 5. Only considerations relevant to the question of whether or how our normative beliefs track the normative truth at the actual world can establish the reliability of those truths. 6. Therefore, modal security established as above cannot be sufficient to establish the reliability of our normative beliefs. Before I stop and let people school me, let me just contrast this with the perception case Clarke-Doane appeals to by analogy: Consider the perceptual case. What we can arguably offer in this case is an evolutionary explanation of how we came to have sensitive mechanisms for perceptual belief, and a neurophysical explanation of how those mechanisms work such that they are sensitive. But these explanations blatantly assume the (actual) truth of our explanatorily basic perceptual beliefs. If the reliability challenge for D-realism requested an explanation of the reliability of our D-beliefs which failed to assume the (actual) truth of our explanatorily basic D-beliefs, then the apparent impossibility of answering it could not be thought to undermine those beliefs. I think Clarke-Doane is right that there can't be a prohibition on assuming the truth of our beliefs. But I think there's an important difference between the perceptual and normative cases. For in the perceptual case, the analogy of (3) above is something like: (3*) The modal security of our perceptual beliefs is derived from the assumption that our perceptual beliefs are true in combination with an evolutionary and neurophysical explanation of how our perceptual appartus came to and function so as to track the subjects of our perceptions at the actual world. So, obviously, I think the heavy lifting is going to be done with something like (4), since (3*) avoids my objection by establishing modal security in a way that seems relevant to how our perceptual beliefs track the truth at the actual world. But that's all very tentative.
I hope Ralph won't mind if I piggyback on his post, but I'm just getting started on a paper that's partly about normative necessity, and I thought I'd get the old juices flowing with some PEA Soup discussion. (Plus it's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2015 at PEA Soup
I've been curious about this for a while, too. I have a friend who works for an economics journal, and he has encouraged me to write cover letters. His suggestion was less about explaining the value of the content and more about things like mentioning that a paper had been accepted to prestigious conferences or won awards. He claims that this happens to them all the time, and can make a difference. I've never done it; it seemed sort of gauche. But I've wondered if I should.
That's really helpful. So, is the story something like this? Sentiments aim at accurate representation of their objects just as beliefs aim at truth. There can be epistemic reasons to believe regardless of what practical reasons there are to believe or even to not believe—(roughly) reasons having to do with the truth of the thing believed. So, too, can there be fittingness reasons to feel regardless of what practical reasons there are to feel or even to not feel—(roughly) reasons having to do with the accuracy of representing the object as the sentiment does. If that's right, I think I see and understand the view. I still want to resist it, but that's because I don't think epistemic reasons are normative reasons, either, except in the case where we have reasons to think about what's true. Similarly, I wouldn't think fittingness reasons would be normative except in cases where we have reasons to represent via the sentiments. In the snake case I describe, I don't think this condition is met.
Justin (and Dan), It is rather the claim that there are reasons supporting fear, and indeed they constitute an adequate justification of a certain sort, even if you would be better off without fear. Do you find the same story plausible about language? Suppose that, for some reason, I'm set up such that when I think the word "snake," I freeze up. I come upon a snake and, recognizing it, could just turn and run. But then I think "SNAKE!!!" Do you want to say that the combination of psychology (we just tend to think words of things we see, without intending to) and representational accuracy (if it was a mouse, I'd have made a mistake) similarly provides me with a kind of justification? If yes (the cases seem the same to me, certainly), that just drives home for me the absence of normativity. I don't think I had any reason to think "snake" in that case. I just think there's a sense in which the naturalness and accuracy of my doing so inclines us away from characterizing me as making a mistake, and there's a temptation to express that in terms of a kind of justification. Nevertheless, where genuine normative reasons are concerned, I had none: Nothing that actually matters spoke in favor of my feeling fear or thinking "snake."
Dan & Justin, I'm just here to make my usual trouble, and if you'd prefer to focus on this newer stuff, please don't feel obligated to get into this. But I thought it might be worth rehashing some things I suspect you, Dan, have heard (probably from Christian) in case there are new things to say, or others want to weigh in. I take it you think the fitting and meriting relations are normative, in that they provide normative reasons: We have reason to fear the dangerous, be amused by the humerous, etc. I'm skeptical of this. I like the general picture of sentiments as representative, and I think they play an important role for us, I just don't think their fittingess provides us with reasons to feel them. Here are three quick points in favor of my view: Potential Redundancy Suppose I'm in the woods and come upon a poisonous snake. I am capable of fully representing the snake's danger to me, and being suitably motivated, without feeling fear. I can't imagine why, in that case, I would still have reason to feel fear. This is because if I did have a reason to fear, it would stem from my needing to fear the snake in order to respond appropriately to it. But ex hypothesi, I don't. (This might seem similar to Shadow Skepticism, but I take it that it's different given that we might well be able to represent even attitude-dependent values without deploying our sentiments.) Lack of Motivation from the Analogy with Language The above problem isn't surprising when you think of the sentiments as representative in something like the way words are. The word "dog" is fitting for my dog Silke. This does not provide me with any reason to think or say "dog" when I see her, unless that would help me achieve some goal. More generally, there is simply no reason to go around representing things. It's More Plausible that Unfittingness Is Normative While I don't have any reason to think or say "dog" when I see Silke, you might argue that I do have reason not to think or say "cat"—i.e., not to misrepresent. I'm not sure that's true, but it certainly sounds more plausible than the idea that I have reason to go around representing things. Of course, you could claim that both fittingness and unfittingness are normative. But assuming each sentiment is either fitting or unfitting for each object—either the sentiment accurately represents the object or it doesn't—this amounts to ruling out error theory by fiat. For instance, every time I see an animal (say) I either have reason to fear it or reason to not fear it. The possibility that I have no reasons at all has vanished. I don't think we should be comfortable with that result.
David S., Sorry, I think I must have lost the thread somewhere. I thought we were still just talking about seeking the best restaurant as an analogy for seeking the Thing To Do. Of course I agree that Subjectivism doesn't have to actually tell us what the best restaurant is. But now I fear I'm still missing your point. Darn you for creating such an interesting thread with so many issues to tackle.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Jamie, I tend to agree that we should be worried about explaining why some facts end deliberation (i.e., I take it, why they are reasons) while others don't. I'm not sure everyone else thinks we need to do this. I think non-naturalists can't, for instance, and as I read him Enoch isn't much bothered by that. That's one of the main reasons I'm not a non-naturalist! As for Humeans, I was thinking that given that I rejected a Humean theory of reasons, if I accepted a Humean theory of motivation I'd be more worried about my answers to those questions, because I'd think (I take it) that even if a general tendency to be rational could explain why I believe as I judge I ought, it couldn't explain why I act as I judge I ought, since I would still need to reference a desire somewhere.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Jamie, I take it there are three questions here: (1) why it is appropriate that deliberation ends when I draw a conclusion about what I have most reason to do; (2) why I actually end my deliberation there much of the time; (3) why I deliberate by looking for reasons in the first place (rather than, say, just doing whatever they feel like in the moment). I'll confess this isn't stuff I've thought about all that much, and I think even my inchoate views are rather idiosyncratic, but FWIW: (1) I think I've always assumed I would get the appropriate end of deliberation for free just because reasons are (by definition?) facts about the proper ends of deliberation. If I'm deliberating about what to do and I conclude that this is what I have most reason to do, that's the same as concluding that it's the thing to do, which is the same as concluding that it's the proper end of my deliberation. Surely I'm irrational if I don't then (intend to) do it. I think I want to use something like Wedgwood's stuff to fill in the details. (2) Given what I think about (1), the question of why I actually end my deliberation is just the question of why I'd be rational most of the time. But I don't see this as any more puzzling than why, typically, if I conclude that I have most reason to believe P, I actually believe P. I'm guessing other people worry about this because they accept something like the Humean theory of motivation. But that stuff has never struck me as particularly plausible. (3) I don't know what psychologically explains why I deliberate. Anecdotally, I deliberate because I can't shake the sense that some actions are preferable to others, so I try to figure out what those are. Sometimes I consult my desires. Sometimes not. Do Subjectivists really have something better to say about this one? (Other than another appeal to Hume.)
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
David S., So that just sounds to me like you're interested in guidance only in the weaker sense that Mind-Reading Google Maps would provide, not the sense Zagat purports to. I take it this means we have a disagreement about the success conditions for a normative theory. Here I think the discussion dovetails with my exchange with Eric. It seems to me that as long as there's the possibility of Zagat-style guidance, I should keep looking for that rather than just going to Mind-Reading Google Maps. Of course, that's only an analogy. And I might agree with you, as you said above, that if we were really talking about restaurants, I'd be more interested in the project of finding the one that's best for me, rather than the one that's objectively best. But I don't feel the force of that at all when it comes to the normative. As I said to Eric, as long as there's the possibility that there might be objective facts about the Thing To Do, it would seem like a mistake to focus on what I should do given the values I happen to have.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Jamie, We might well wonder why I should bother looking for facts about the objectively best restaurant. But I think that's just a place where the analogy between the search for the objectively best restaurant and the search for Guidance breaks down. That's because I think the search for reasons just is the search for Guidance. Do I need a reason to search for reasons?
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Daniel, If someone is looking for the "objectively best restaurant," they're looking for the restaurant that there is most reason to go to. I wasn't thinking about it this way. I was imagining the best restaurant as being determined by some objective criteria of aesthetic quality. It might turn out that very few people have most reason to go there. I certainly agree with you, though, that when I am trying to decide what restaurant I have most reason to go to, facts about me are quite relevant.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Eric, Thanks for that; it's really helpful. The first thing I'll say, which I'm sure won't surprise you, is that the first paragraph just looks to me like an argument for error theory. If my normative judgements are all just representatives of my perspective (and necessarily are so), then that sounds to me like excellent evidence that they're all false (barring some incredible coincidence, or maybe some sort of Enoch-style pre-established harmony with Guidance). Of course, you're going to go on and offer a normative argument for why it's good to think of reasons in this way, which I take it is supposed to undercut the idea that this is an error theory, and instead put it forth as a genuine theory of what reasons are. I'm not clear on whether I'll be able to accept that story, given my other committments. I'll have to check out your paper! Anyway, I think you're right that this comes down to something like the disagreement you allude to between people who think only God can grant meaning or that only atheism can. (I'm personally fascinated by the similar disagreement between people who think that only immortality can allow for meaning vs those who think mortality can. I also wonder whether there are any statistically significant correlations between these views about meaning and normativity.) The question is whether this difference comes down to a matter of taste or temperment, or whether there's something neutral to say on one side or the other. Maybe it's the former. But in my more optimistic moments I think there's still something to be said for Objectivism. I imagine that I've been convinced that Subjectivism is true. Then someone comes along and shows me, beyond all doubt, that X is the Thing To Do, even though I have no route to X-ing through my S, or whatever. I would sure as hell X. Or, at least, if I didn't, I think that would make me pretty darn irrational. If that's right, then surely I should go in for Subjectivism only if I'm totally certain there are no objective reasons. Unfortuantely, when I tell Subjectivists this little story, they often reply that they simply wouldn't care about the Thing To Do. I suspect this has to do with your use of the term "stifling." I think sometimes Subjectivists imagine objective reasons as tyrannical in some way. I just don't see that. They're guides, and I'd be very happy to find them, because otherwise it really just doesn't matter what I do.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
(Tried to post this earlier, but TypePad is apparently a Subjectivist and wouldn't let me.) David, Fair enough. But surely it doesn't follow that if someone is looking for the objectively best restaurant, you should just tell him how to get to the one he'd most enjoy. That would seem rather disrespectful to his project.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Jamie, The "I want" there was supposed to be a project-determining claim. My project is to find restaureasons, which are facts about what restaurants are objectively best. There might be a good meta-level argument that this is a silly project. Maybe that's because there are no restaureasons, or because restaureasons aren't the right thing to care about. Maybe the right alternative is just to look for the restaurant I'd enjoy most given all the facts about me. The point is just that whatever else is true here, it seems true that finding out what restaurants I'd enjoy isn't the same as finding out what restaureasons there are.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Yes, the analogy isn't perfect. Perhaps we need a Google Maps that can read your mind to gather any information that's pertinent to determining your destination. Even then, Google Maps still won't be guiding you the way Zagat purports to. (Unless, of course, some of the information in your head concerns the objectively best restaurant, but we can set that aside for obvious reasons.) Of course, you might think that there is no fact of the matter about what the objectively best restaurant is; there's just a fact about which restaurant you'd go to given all the facts about you. That might very well be true. But suppose I came to you and asked you what site I should use to find the objectively best restaurant. It seems to me that if there is no such thing, you should tell me that no site will give me the answer I seek. You might then suggest I use Mind-Reading Google Maps to find the ideal restaurant for me, as a sort of second-best option. What you shouldn't do, I think, is just tell me right off that the answer I seek can be found at Mind-Reading Google Maps.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
Oops, didn't see Nick's comment. I think it popped up while I was composing my last one. I think Subjectivism provides us with practical guidance only in a limited sense. Suppose I am looking for restaurant guidance. I want to know where the best restaurant is. Zagat (purportedly) provides such guidance. It tells me what the best restaurants are and directs me to them. Does Google Maps provide restaurant guidance? Well, in one sense it does. If I know what the best restaurant is, it will tell me how to get there. If I know the best restaurant is in a particular town, it will show me where all the restaurants are in that town. And so on. But there's a clear way in which Google Maps provides no restaurant guidance whatsoever, in that it has nothing to say about which restaurants are the best restaurants. Subjectivism seems to me like Google Maps. If I already know what I'm aiming at, it tells me how to get there. If I know roughly what I'm aiming at, it gives me some ideas about how to narrow my search. But it can't tell me what to aim at, at least not without just extrapolating from other things I'm aiming at.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup
David, Certainly, I know not everyone feels what I'm feeling. I wasn't trying to convince so much as just explain why I (and perhaps others) are sometimes tempted to say we see no reason to embrace Subjectivism. You may not want to get into this here, but I do wonder what you do feel. Do you simply not feel the force of the search for Guidance? Is there something else you were searching for that led you to Subjectivism? Or do you think Subjectivism provides Guidance after all? It worries me that, as Subjectivists and Objectivists, we seem to be so mutually baffled by our attitudes to each other's views. It suggests to me that something has gone seriously wrong.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2014 on Favorite objections to subjectivism at PEA Soup