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Clayton Littlejohn
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I want to discuss a problem for ethical intuitionism and an argument that seems to show that ethical intuitionists either have to embrace skepticism or naturalism. It's an interesting argument and I'm not entirely convinced that the response I set... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2011 at PEA Soup
I think Thomson has a reply to the first argument against SMP. You ask, "Why should having no permissible means to do Beta, make it impermissible to do Beta?" Suppose that the impossibility of eating a sandwich doesn't make eating the sandwich impermissible (although, not the worst bullet to bite). Can't Thomson say that if someone can't A, then it's not permissible for them to A and not impermissible for them to A? Why can't she say that whether A-ing is obligatory, permissible, or forbidden depends upon whether it can be done? I don't see the entailment from 'It is not permissible for S to A' to 'It is impermissible for S to A' as trivial. I think a similar response could work for the second argument against SMP. Similarly, with argument 3 I think the distinction between impermissible and not permissible could be helpful. Now, there's a new element to that one. You write, "After all, B is doing more impermissible things that A, viz. He is saving those five people, which, according to SMP, is, in these circumstances, impermissible." I guess I don't find it counterintuitive to say, "In these circumstances, it is impermissible to save the five". It's harder to see how that comes out true without SMP. Saving five is, typically, the sort of thing you should do. The force of the point, however, is supposed to be that it's odd to think that B is doing more impermissible things than A. I think that _is_ counterintuitive, but probably because our intuitions about who is doing more impermissible things depends upon a way of counting actions on which it would be false to say that B is doing more impermissible things. It would be strange to say that B is engaged in more distinct/discreet actions that are impermissible than A. Indeed, that would be false. Both just pushed. I think argument 4 is confusing pragmatics and semantics. I think argument 5 can be dealt with by indexing to times and conditional obligation. Prior to their murder, it would have been wrong to distribute the organs. Post murder, it's not wrong--the distribution at that point doesn't involve murdering.
Toggle Commented May 13, 2010 on Means and Ends at
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I'm working on a paper about the ontology of reasons and have some questions about motivating reasons that I was hoping some readers here might help me with. It's hard for me to say exactly what motivating reasons are for... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2010 at PEA Soup