Monday, May 10, 2010

Weigh the pros & cons vs. Weight of the pros & cons

I think differences between pros and cons are interesting. A friend I was talking with in Oberlin (which was so, so much fun) didn't think the differences between pros and cons were nearly as interesting as I thought.

As I've argued previously--you can accept lots of things that phenomenal conservatives say and maintain that some acts are objectively wrong if you say that a reason to A cannot justify the action unless that reason is at the very least available to you but a reason not to A can "unjustify" an action even if it isn't available to you. (Yes, some object on the grounds that reasons always have to be available to do any work, but I think the weights of the reasons that are available to you might be unavailable to you and still determine what's right and what's not.)

Cases where this thought is helpful:
(a) Explaining how you can say both that appearances justify while resisting the claim that it's only the total appearances at a time that go towards determining whether someone should do what they reasonably think they ought to do.
(b) Think about a decently run trial that results in the conviction of the guilty party and an essentially identical trial that results in the conviction of an innocent party. I think we can say that the case for convicting was equally strong in both cases but sufficient for convicting only in one because in only one was there the absence of a reason not to convict (a reason grounded in the fact that the accused didn't do the thing he's accused of doing). Apply this sort of thought to perceptual justification. What's the difference between the good and bad case? Suppose it's at least this: the belief in the bad case isn't justified but the belief in the good case is. Does this require special "factive reasons"? No, no factive reasons are necessary. The difference between the good/bad case isn't explained by appeal to special very, very strong reasons to believe but the presence of a common justifying element with the absence of a "con" in the good case and the presence of a "con" in the bad. The justificatory status of a belief is a function of both pros and cons, so eliminating the negative in the good case is just what makes the good case good.
(c) Right reasons views. Why does the person who responds to the evidence correctly count as better off than a peer who responds to the evidence incorrectly? Not because the peer who responds rightly has something good going for her that her peer lacks, but because the peer who responds wrongly has something bad going for her that her peer lacks--messing up the response to the evidence.

Anyway, I don't know if that's at all clearly written. I'm very, very tired.

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