Ethics and the A Priori: Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Meta-Ethics (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy)
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This volume includes a series of essays about the nature of belief and desire, the status of normative judgment, and the relevance of the views we take on both these topics to the accounts we give of our nature as free and responsible agents. The long awaited collection comprises some of the most influential of Michael Smith's essays written over a period of fifteen years and will be of interest to students in philosophy and psychology.
reference fixing or else discovered by reflection on the everyday meaning of the word "right." Either way, it is precisely because we accept this claim a priori that we can move straight from the discovery that the property of maximizing utility is the property acts possess when they tend towards social stability to the conclusion that the property of maximizing utility is rightness. This is an extremely important point, one which is quite devastating to those Naturalistic Moral Realists who
seems that this would mark a significant difference between this concept and our other normative concepts. We should expect to find that with claims about what is desirable, unlike claims about which propositions support which, we are able to dissolve apparent disagreements in the way just described. But do we find this? It might be thought that we do. After all, aren't there all sorts of familiar cases in which we say things like "That may be a reason for you, but it isn't for me," "Desirable
however, this argument raises all sorts of problems. Internalism is the premise from which expressivism is supposed to follow. But how does Blackburn formulate this premise? He tells us that internalism is the "conceptual truth" that "to regard something as good is to feel a pull towards promoting or choosing it, or towards wanting other people to feel the pull towards promoting or choosing it." But far from this being a conceptual truth, the one expressed by internalism, it is no truth at all.
incoherent, or self-defeating."22 But this, too, he thinks his analysis can easily accommodate. Moral reasoning is a form of practical reasoning. One begins with certain beliefs and intentions, including intentions that are part of one's acceptance of the moral understanding in a given group. In reasoning, one modifies one's intentions, often by forming new intentions, sometimes by giving up old ones, so that one's plans become more rational and coherent - or, rather, one seeks to make all of
them - then they would properly be held responsible for getting their beliefs so badly wrong. We would blame them, and rightly so. (ii) Kleptomaniac Kleptomaniac has a compulsive desire to steal groceries. Whenever he goes to the supermarket he therefore finds himself concealing items and bringing them home without paying for them. He does not believe that this is in any sense a desirable thing to do. Indeed, he thinks that it is completely irrational behaviour. He believes that the