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Justin Caouette
University of Calgary
I am a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at the University of Calgary.
Interests: My primary research interests are in moral philosophy, free will, applied ethics, and moral psychology. Within these subfields my interests include: (i) moral responsibility, (ii) the nature of authenticity and the role it plays in being responsible, (iii) the relationship between being responsible and holding responsible, (iv) the role that different psychological disorders should play in mitigating moral culpability, (v) the relations that hold between various normative judgments and fitting emotional responses on the one hand and different conceptions of free will on the other, and (vi) the ethics of human enhancement technologies in sport, for use in our punishment practices, and to aid research and work practices.
Recent Activity
I, too, am curious what comes next. One concern I have had about the gradual decline of blogging is the negative impact it will have for those who do not stay in the discipline. Blogging is a way for others to engage who may not be doing philosophy full-time anymore. One thing I always thought about on the market is that "at least I'll get my philoosphical-fill via the blogs if this all doesn't work out". Sadly, I don't think that's a viable option anymore.
By Justin Caouette Myisha Cherry and Eric Schwitzgebel recently took the philosophy discipline to task for being so white, the title of the piece was pure gold "Like the Oscars, #philosophysowhite". I really enjoyed the piece. Not because I agreed with it all but because I believe it's important to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Justin Caouette A while back over at Flickers of Freedom, Tamler Sommers posed a series of interesting questions regarding punishment. I'd like to take up some of those questions here. Sommers asks: "Is the methodology (detailed below) a good way to develop a theory of punishment? Step 1: Assemble... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Justin Caouette In this post I'll be arguing that hypocrisy is not all that bad, and, though controversial, I'll argue that one's moral standing ought not be affected because one acts hypocritically. In fact, I'll suggest that hypocrites *might* be in the best position to give moral advice in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
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By Justin Caouette It's Ethics Tuesday (just barely) and this week I'll be spewing some further nonsense on the topic of cheating*. Last week I raised a bunch of questions in response to an earlier blog post by James Rocha. Although we have yet to agree as to what cheating... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
By Justin Caouette Given that this is my first post I would like to take this time to say thanks to Jon and the rest of the fantastic group of bloggers here at PhilPercs for allowing me to post with you all. Welcome to the jungle seemed like a fitting... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented and asked questions over the course of my stint as FA in January. It was an honor and your comments and questions have helped me very much. I had planned on posting a couple more times to close out the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
Mental illness affects how we perceive the actions of others and with good reason. Consider two scenarios. In scenario 1 a person crashes into you because they had a non-epileptic seizure while driving. The seizure was due to an undiagnosed anxiety disorder (the person never had a seizure prior to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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In the last post I suggested that moral responsibility may not come in degrees and based on the discussion that ensued it seems that we are pretty torn on whether or not it does. In this post I would like to focus on a different question: are psychopaths morally responsible... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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Many have assumed either implicitly or explicitly that moral responsibility comes in degrees, but why? For me, it seems quite natural to say that I am either morally responsible or I am not. I either meet the conditions of one's particular view, or I do not. Oddly, this has been... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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We have all forgiven someone before. In fact, forgiveness can often serve as a key ingredient in our most cherished interpersonal relationships. Many of us who work on free will related topics have thought long and hard about questions concerning blame. Questions like: When is it appropriate to blame? Who... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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Many philosophers (1) have spent substantial time wrestling with, expanding on, and arguing against the central ideas put forth in P.F. Strawson's seminal piece "Freedom and Resentment", and with good reason. In that essay, Stawson lays out many concerns that are worthy of deep reflection. In this post I would... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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It appears that deontic judgments—judgments of moral obligation, moral right, and moral wrong—presuppose control; specifically, they presuppose one’s having free will. To see this consider an example: Consider Leroy, a man paralyzed from the waist down, seemingly all alone, enjoying some sun at the edge of the lake in his wheelchair. He notices a young man drowning in the lake. Because of his condition it seems plausible to say that he is not obligated to jump in and save the drowning man. He is not obligated to do so because he cannot do so, he lacks the requisite control. If he had the ability and the opportunity to save him (he miraculously regained feeling in his legs minutes before the accident and he was in a position to save) we would say that he was obligated to save him. Therefore, it seems plausible to link obligations to abilities and opportunities[1]. Thus we can follow Ish Haji in adopting a central principle OIC, as our control principle for moral obligation: OIC: S ought to do A only if S can do A. In this post I'd like to discuss issues surrounding the incompatibility of determinism and ought judgments[2], particularly from the free will skeptics point of view. Free will skeptics claim that free will is incompatible with determinism. Many also conclude that moral responsibility, at least in the basic-desert sense, is incompatible with determinism because the control required to be morally responsible is imperiled by the truth of their skeptical position. But, one variety of skeptic (optimistic skeptics) claim that a robust sense of morality (among other things) remains intact. Thus, even a hard incompatibilist like Derk Pereboom becomes a compatibilist with regards to determinism (and indeterminism) and a robust moral system. Here’s a quote from Pereboom: “Morality, meaning, and value remain intact even if we are not morally responsible....” (2001) Thus, judgments like "S ought not to have done A" can be endorsed by the skeptic while consistently embracing their FW and MR skepticism. So I ask you all, are you buying this? Can such judgments be true in the wake of free will skepticism? I’m not convinced. Given that Pereboom has taken this question on (again) in his new book (2014 OUP) I thought I'd focus on his response. But first, to get the conversation going consider this claim derived from the ought-implies-can principle (OIC): If S ought not do have done A, then S could have refrained from doing A. Pereboom himself gets the sense that free will skeptics will have a difficult time denying this claim (see here). As Pereboom points out, compatibilists like Ish Haji (1998; 2012) and Dana Nelkin (2011) seem to have a similar sense. Thus, given that determinism rules out the ability to do otherwise (for many at least) it also seems to threaten ‘ought’ judgments given that such judgments seem to entail an ability to do otherwise as well. So, to save ‘ought’ judgments from determinism (and indeterminism) Pereboom (2014) follows C.D. Broad (1952) in separating different senses of ‘ought’. Pereboom focuses on a distinction between deliberative ‘ought’ claims which he calls the ‘ought’ of specific agent demand such as “Eduardo ought not hit his mother” on the one hand, and another sense of ‘ought’ which he dubs the ‘ought’ of axiological recommendation such as “Lebron ought to win the lottery”. This latter sense of ‘ought’ is not at odds with determinism because according to Pereboom it does not imply ‘can’ whereas the former ‘ought’, the ‘ought’ of specific agent demand does imply can. Pereboom concludes that if we had to settle for the ‘ought’ of axiological recommendation our system of morality would still be robust, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. We could still endorse OIC if we understood the ‘ought’ invoked in OIC as the ‘ought’ of axiological recommendation. Do you agree? Would it be a big deal to lose the ‘ought’ of specific agent demand? Is it legitimate to understand the ‘ought’ in OIC as the ‘ought’ of axiological recommendation? I look forward to hearing what you all think. I have reservations about Pereboom’s attempt to save ‘ought’ claims, I’ll discuss a few. Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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Happy New Year folks! First things first, I’d like to thank Thomas for this great opportunity! I think I am the first graduate student to be a featured author here at Flickers and I am very appreciative. I will be utilizing my time here to forward some of my arguments... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
Hi Marcus, Thought provoking post (as is often the case with your posts but I digress). I did want to bring up a few worries though. First, the analogy with sports and draft position isn't a good one. The players are being interviewed every time they are on the field. In philosophy, it's not like that. So, even though a combine workout can weigh in favor or against a prospect it is usually only an all things being equal metric. The performance on the field is what does the most work for the prospects (Even Jemarcus Russell had a 10-1 season and some excellent come from behind wins against Alabama, etc.). Second, isn't looking over one's dossier, and "counting their pubs" overly focusing on one aspect of our jobs as philosophers. Teaching is surely important and an in person interview is much better at gauging how the person will perform in the classroom. It's a lot bettr than simply looking at teaching evals (IMHO). Lastly, doesn't the choice to not have interviews bias against those who do damn well at them. Or am I missing something? Here is a few things to consider, in my case anyway. I'm from Calgary, an under the radar program. I can help my chances with an interview given that I think one of my stronger traits is my ability to work a classroom and show my enthusiasm for the discipline. I think I can write just fine but given that my program is MUCH shorter than those in the states (4 years with much of that time spent on 3 intense examinations and a year of course work) my dossier will not be as impressive when compared to the 7-8 year PhD from the states, or someone like yourself who has been publishing for years since graduating. So, it seems that in not interviewing, folks like me are at a disadvantage. And, given that the name of my institution may already work against me this seems, well, shitty. Now, this is not to say that the past shouldn't matter at all only that moving away from the interview all-together works against folks like me. I did have a couple of questions for you, Marcus. Isn't reviewing one's work (rather than an in person interview) just a different way of "spotting talent"? Also, the suggested approach creates systematic obstacles for folks who have what it takes to be a good pro if only they were given a chance. I'm thinking here of folks who have to work while in grad school which makes publishing nearly impossible. Those folks would never get a job if we were to focus ONLY on past success. Am I off to worry about such cases under your suggestion of no interviews?
Given that I'll be entering the job market for the first time this fall I have been reading and discussing different approaches to having success. Today I read an article that struck me as a bad approach to achieving such success. As I was taking a break from dissertation writing... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2014 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I find myself in a bit of a bind and was seeking some advice from my fellow cocooners on how to resolve it. I recently submitted to two conferences and the conferences will be held on different dates. Because of this I seem to be in the clear regarding my... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2013 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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Ya, that pretty much sums it up - "bizarre".
Interesting thoughts on your post at BHL, Marcus. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I have a few of my own as well. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/08/philosophy-departments-have-bad-business-ethics-redux/
Re: Edited Collections I just finished one (I'm a grad student and not post-tenure as recommended by Rachel) and thought it was a great experience. Yes, super time-consuming, but valuable! I got to engage with a few of the contributors on a professional level(and others I will now have a way to break the ice with much more easily) and discussing the content with my supervisor(and co-editor)gave way to the ideas behind my dissertation proposal. It doesn't look "bad" on a CV and if one is able to pull off a few publications to go along with it it's possible that it could make your CV stronger. It would show the hiring committee that you can publish your own work and do other projects. I would think an ability to juggle multiple roles would be an important asset to any department.
Great comment thread and an interesting topic. I was considering blogging about it myself (unintended self-promotion?). I tend to agree with almost everything Carrie, Rachel, and Chike have said. A further point worth mentioning is this: Most of us have moved far to embark on our philosophical journeys, and social media (specifically facebook) is a great way (by no means ideal) to stay in contact with everyone. Posting "Finally finished the PhD", or, "got the tt job at X" is a great way to share good news. That will likely be followed by a call to a select few but posting it serves a purpose. Instead of having 50 of the same conversations when meeting at conferences or visiting a place you lived, you share it once. The next conversation--with almost anyone--will regard your feel for the new job rather than "did you score a job". Same goes for bad news. IMO the posts, on their own, don't seem to indicate that a person is being overly boastful or bragging. Pride is a virtue (arguably). @Daniel you said "I don't think I judge people who do it, but I don't do it, because it does feel a bit too self-promotey to me" I'm curious; if you think it would be too "self-promotey" for you to do then how do you hold yourself back from drawing the same conclusion (judgment of sorts) about those who do post in that manner?
Great resource. Thanks Kevin and Ben.
Nice job, Marcus.
Toggle Commented Jul 29, 2013 on Social-Media Enabled! at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Marcus, I'm not suggesting sharing comments via twitter. Rather, I'm suggesting a share button in order to easier facilitate posting some of the content via social networking avenues (twitter is my avenue of choice). When I comment at Flickers it still sits in moderation even though they have the share button so I do think it's a possible option via the typepad interface. I like the moderation policy as it stands and would only recommend a change. I was only suggesting the share button to make it easier to link others to the blog.
I am reluctant to join the crowd here and agree that big shots have an obligation to respond to ALL refutations as suggested by Alex and seconded by Marcus, I'll mention a few reasons why it may be unfair to impose such an obligation. First, it will restrict one's ability to do new work. I can get behind an obligation to respond when the piece is fairly new, but, as time passes and you have a number of published works it would get burdensome to continue on in this manner, especially if you have since moved from the topic into another genre of Philosophy. In these latter cases I think the obligation falls on those engrossed in the literature to respond and not the author who initially contributed the piece. If the person is a "big shot" then they likely have others supporting their argument and it's tough to see how these other supporters do not incur the obligation instead. Second, let's say I write argument X. In the piece where I present X I address numerous counter-arguments. A few years pass and someone responds with what I take to be a variant of one of the counter-arguments I already addressed. I do not see why I incur an obligation to respond to this piece or why I must say why I won't address the piece. Third, if one refutes the argument of a "big shot" and the big shot agrees with the criticism I don't see why the big shot must come forward with that tentative agreement. If he realizes he lost the debate are you suggesting he write a 2 line response saying saying so? Fourth, even if the big shot thinks he lost I think he has a right to take as much time as he would like to ponder a response (this in turn would mean that he may not respond at all as he continuously mulls over different options and new empirical work). Now, I really like the suggestion by Marcus regarding the obligation to get our work out there. This is a different obligation but one I think is quite important and could be done by simply having an active home page with links to our work. One related point regarding self-promotion. Marcus, you seem to be sensitive to not wanting others to see you as self-promoting (in your 10:36 comment) but why? There was a recent article on psychopaths that offered some empirical data which suggests that they do have empathy. Two colleagues posted the article and I linked my AJOB piece via academia to the thread. Self-promoting? Yes. Should I be concerned with sounding, as you put it, "too self-promoting"? If on the one hand we are obligated to get our work out there I don't see how we should also be concerned about too much self-promoting (barring the obvious posting of journal pieces in threads that are unrelated). Is the suggestion that we ought to promote ourselves but hide that that's what we are doing?