New issue on metaethics
By Thom Brooks

The latest issue of the Journal of Moral Philosophy has just been published and all articles are on the topic of ‘metaethics’. Papers were originally presented at a conference organized by Fabian Freyenhagen at King’s College, Cambridge. The issue can be found here. The contents are as follows:

What should we do about moral paradoxes?

By now we should have a reasonably good idea of what a moral paradox is, of how a moral paradox differs from other things that might seem like it but are not, and of (some of) the sources of moral paradoxes. But what should we do about moral paradoxes? Some of the answers here will be surprising.

Chapter 16 of Intricate Ethics turns to an examination of Scanlon’s Contractualist moral theory. Focusing on particular themes that Kamm has discussed in the previous chapters, the aim here is to consider whether contractualism, as a metaethical theory of wrongness, offers a way of getting at the kinds of normatively relevant non-consequentialist distinctions that Kamm has identified as important without recourse to the careful scrutiny of cases. In what follows, I won’t try and summarize all the points Kamm makes in this chapter; rather, I’ll stick to what I take to be the points that have the most direct bearing on contractualism’s non-consequentialist credentials, namely what role the appeal to ‘wrongness’ is playing in the contractualist account and the kinds of considerations that are meant to be relevant for the reasonable rejection of a principle.

Prepunishment in the Garden
By Saul Smilansky

There is an excellent discussion on prepunishment going on in the Garden of Forking Paths blog. Normally I wouldn’t refer to discussions there as free will is a distinct topic, but this discussion is more on prepunishment and punishment in general than strictly on free will; and the discussion is really illuminating (but it takes a while to get going and the thread is long, so you need to be patient). Other Ethicsetcetniks involved are Neil Levy and Thom Brooks (and sorry if I’ve missed anyone else). The link is:

The journal Neuroethics, edited by one of our Contributors, Dr. Neil Levy, and published by Springer, is now accepting submissions. Good work getting this journal started, Neil! Here is a description of the journal:

Ethics Etc. readers may be interested to hear that the new Centre for Ethics and Metaethics (CEM) in the Philosophy Department, University of Leeds, is holding a Metaethics One-Day Workshop on Saturday 24 November. The speakers will be Kent Hurtig, Nadeem Hussain, and Wlodek Rabinowicz.

Presenters at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar are now encouraged and given the opportunity to post their papers and/or aspects of their argument here on Ethics Etc for further discussions by both those who have attended the seminar and those who were not able to do so.

To kick off, Bart Streumer gave a talk today on whether there are irreducibly normative properties. Here is an abstract of his paper:

BSET Call for Papers
By Gerald Lang

Might I draw the attention of readers of Ethics Etc to the following call:

THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL THEORY
2008 CONFERENCE
University of Edinburgh, UK
14-16th July 2008

Critics of utilitarianism usually rule out interpersonal aggregation. Many of them (e.g. Rawls, Nozick, and Nagel) appeal to the notion of the separateness of persons. According to them, we should rule out aggregation because aggregative principles do not take the separateness of persons seriously. This is a very familiar claim in moral and political philosophy. But I did not understand this claim. I now know why I did not understand it: Either (a) this claim is a truism or (b) it does not make sense.

Chapter 15, ‘Harms, Losses and Evils in Gert’s moral Theory,’ applies one of the upshots of the discussion in Chapter 14 to Bernard Gert’s moral theory. The chapter is very short and is perhaps best understood as a continuation of the discussion in Chapter 14 of the consequences of the distinction between harming/not-aiding and losses/no-gains for moral theory. In what follows I assume Kamm’s distinction as it is made out in Chapter 14.

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