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5:42PM Reconvene tomorrow at 9:00AM. I’ll continue the live-blogging then. :)

5:31PM Tim Scanlon asks Frances: What is the motivation for ‘downstreamism’? If harm is downstream from greater good, then it’s ok. But the other way is not ok, according to Frances. Why?

Frances: harm is necessary to produce the good. (The word ‘downstreamish’ may someday end up in the Oxford English Dictionary). Why try to develop a theory at the start when five minutes later you may come up with another case that undermines the theory? It’s better to examine a variety of cases first before developing a theory.

5:19PM McMahan is also asking about intentions and permissibility. He says that he doesn’t find the cases Tim has presented to be plausible. Why keep DDE? Because of reflective equilibrium.

5:16PM Kagan asks a similar question, what’s the argument for the idea that intentions never matter. Tim gave a few cases, but there are other cases where intentions appear to matter.

5:10PM I challenged the idea that intentions never matter for permissibility. I gave my thug case.

4:58PM Kamm: The Disease Case Scanlon discusses is not like the Tractor Case, because the problem is not the result of what we do; the problem is there independently. Also, DTE can explain Prize Party Case. That’s why Prize Party Case is problematic.

4:11PM Tim Scanlon is the next speaker. Tim said that having Frances around is like having Socrates around: one always learns something even if what one learns is that one is wrong. Tim will be talking about Chapters 3, 4, and 5, in particular on intentions and permissibility.

The Doctrine of Double Effect says that intentions can affect permissibility. Tim goes on to present Frances’s Doctrine of Tripe Effect, which distinguishes between acting in order to versus acting because of.

Tim doesn’t think that DTE ultimately explains Loop, and he points out that Frances has suggested the same. This raises the question of whether intentions ever matter.

Tim considers why then people would think that intentions matter. According to Tim, they may be concerned with the question: Did the agent act well? Answer will depend partly on an agent’s intentions. But this is about the agent’s character rather than whether the agent has acted permissibly.

How to analyze Loop and Bystander without intentions? Tim: Loop is like Trolley. So it should be analyzed like Trolley. Bystander (where one pushes an innocent person in front of a trolley to save the five) is different from the other two cases because the one is being put in harms way.

Party Case: Throw party but don’t want a mess. But knows that friends would clean up because they’ll feel guilty. So throw party because friends will clean up the mess, but not in order that friends can clean up. The aim is to have a party.

Prize Party Case: same as Party plus the fact that one is entering the house into a competition for the cleanest house.

Tim: The difference is not DTE but because they weren’t informed about the competition.

3:33PM Half an hour break

3:24PM John Gardner: Distinguish excusability from permissibility. More importantly, distinguish between an Offer to Jim and an Offer At Large. Gardner claims that the latter is more like Scan.

Kamm: Suppose in Scan, there is only one person. The same problem could arise. With large group, you could think that someone from the group should take the Offer rather than do Scan. So again the problem would arise.

3:13PM What if Captain is an innocent threat? Say the Captain is delusional? Gideon’s response: maybe it’s better to lay the responsibility with the innocent threat rather than would someone who is morally innocent.

3:09PM Another question about the plausibility of the retributive account: Captain only threatened, but he hasn’t killed.

3:01PM Kamm: the retributive account is not plausible, because your decision shouldn’t be based getting the Captain punished. She questions Gideon’s point that if moral purity is valuable, then it’s heroic to compromise, because that seems like the wrong kind of motivation, and in any case it’s the wrong thing to do. Imagine people who seek these acts out to be heroic.

3:00PM Question: On the retributive account, wouldn’t it be better to refuse Offer, because then all the responsibility would lie with the Captain?

2:05PM Gideon Rosen is the next speaker. He is also talking about responsibility.

Thesis: In some cases, the fact that an act would amount to complicity with moral evil amounts to a positive moral reason to perform it.

Gideon: Kamm’s claim that the Thesis is true, but not just for this boring reason.

Gideon is also talking about Offer and Scan. Jim is more responsible in Scan than Offer.

Two explanation according to Gideon:
1. Moral Hyperpurity Account: moral hyperpurity is compromised when one becomes responsible for a bad consequence.

2. Retributive Account: Captain is a very bad agent. Captain deserves punishment. In Offer, Jim can see to it that the Captain gets what he deserves. In Scan, Jim’s act will not have this good consequence.

Gideon argues that the moral hyperpurity account needs a notion of responsibility with the following features: 1) One can be responsible for a bad consequence without being blameworthy for it; 2) One is not automatically responsible for a bad consequence simply in virtue of knowingly or intentionally bringing it about; 3) In particular, when one is justifiably complicit in another person’s evil plan, one is not responsible for the bad consequences of one’s acts in the relevant sense.

If moral purity is valuable at all, to compromise it to save 19 would be heroic. So this is not the kind of explanation Kamm needs.

Regarding the retributive account, Gideon argues that if you impermissibly create a dangerous situation and the danger materializes, then you are normally responsible for the resulting harm, evne if you did not intend it or directly cause it. So the retributive account also can’t do the work Kamm wants.

12:05PM Lunch break. Session resumes at 2:00PM EST.

11:45AM Shelly Kagan questions whether credit and blame would cancel out, as Jeff has suggested. According to Shelly, given that 19 will be saved, from a utilitarian perspective, surely there would be more credit than blame.

11:23AM Frances expresses her disagreement with Jeff about the fact that responsibility is always downstream from permissibility. Tim Scanlon sides with Jeff on this matter.

11:08AM Jeff McMahan is the first speaker. He is talking about Chapter 10 of Intricate Ethics (IE), where Frances discusses Bernard Williams’s case of Jim and the Indians.

According to Frances, the permissibility and responsibility can change depending on who initiates the Offer to kill the one. If the Captain does it, then the Captain bears full responsibility. If Jim initiates the Offer, then Jim bears some responsibility. Frances supports her argument using the SCAN case: Jim has a brain scan and can tell that the Captain would let the 19 go if Jim kills the one.

Jeff questions Frances’ argument along the following lines:
1. The Captain should bear *less* responsibility by having made the Offer than if he hadn’t.
2. Jim should get credit for having made the Offer, since he is then no longer a tool of the Captain, but an agent.

Suppose one thinks that Jim should get the credit and the blame. Jeff’s response is that maybe the two would cancel out. If so, Jim still wouldn’t be responsible, contra to what Kamm has argued.

Jeff goes on to talk about Frances’ account of agent regret. Frances seems to think that responsibility could be upstream from permissibility, whereas Jeff suggests that responsibility is always downstream from permissibility.

* my laptop is not connecting to the wireless. Will have to retro-blog this session *

11:00AM John Oberdiek gives a very nice introduction of Frances.

10:32AM Frances just got off a shuttle. It’s like the red carpet….Tim Scanlon, Rahul Kumar, John Oberdiek, among others, are here already. Thomas Nagel is also here.

10:28AM I’ve just arrived with Jeff McMahan at the Rutgers School of Law. The road was treacherous, owing to the snow. But we made it :)


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