Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hypological and Deontological

Think of the hypological as having to do primarily with responsibility and the deontological as having to do with permissibility primarily. What sort of relationship is there between the hypological and deontological?

A view that I think is defended by G.E. Moore and possibly Judith Thomson is that there's no real relationship between the two. An evaluation of an agent's motivating reasons might serve as the basis for some hypological judgment, but questions concerning the rightness or wrongness of an action are left open. (Most of us think that claims about permissibility leave open claims about responsibility.) A view that I think is more popular among epistemologists, at least those with internalist sympathies, is that there cannot be more to deontological judgments that what is involved in hypological judgments. There cannot be more to the justification of a belief, say, than that which the agent can be faulted for failing to take account of. Facts that are obscure to the agent oughtn't serve as the basis for judgments about responsibility and for that very reason they oughtn't serve as the basis for our judgments concerning the justification of another's attitudes.

Two questions.

Isn't there a middle way?

If there's a middle way and that's the right way, what significance does this have for epistemic internalists?

I'm somewhat inclined to think that the facts that serve as the basis of our hypological judgments do have deontic significance, but also think that the facts that have deontic significance are not limited to those with hypological significance. I'm also somewhat inclined to think that the internalists (at least the one's I've read) deny this. I'm also somewhat inclined to think that they must if they're to be consistent. It's not that you can argue from, say, the fact that there's more to the deontic than there is to the hypological that internalist supervenience theses are false. Someone could just say that both the hypological and deontic facts both supervene on facts about our mental states while saying that the set of facts relevant to the hypological are a proper subset of the facts that have deontic significance. The reason I think internalists are committed to a view on which the deontically relevant facts are just the facts relevant to hypological judgments is that the arguments most often offered for internalism assume this thesis.

The reason I think there's something worth exploring here is that I've never really understood why other externalists are externalists. I remember being attracted to reliabilism at some point, but I think I came to be a reliabilist for roughly the reason kids take up smoking. We gave into peer pressure and the wrong sorts of people where pressuring us. I'm planning on writing up a pair of posts. In the first, I'll explain why I suspect those who adopt the Moorean view are guilty of the negative existential reasons fallacy. (Thanks to Errol Lord for drawing my attention to a paper of Mark Schroeder's on this fallacy.) In the second, I'll set out my three case argument against a view of the deontic/hypological relationship that I think doubles as an argument against most internalists' views if not internalism itself.

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