Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I've been thinking about the sorts of philosophical arguments I might give if I were Chuck Norris. I think I have one. Oh, it's a good one!

There's a new paper coming out in Mind & Language (here) arguing (roughly) that order effects influence the intuitions of philosophers just as much as the influence the intuitions of non-philosophers. The lesson? Hard to say, but it might be that our moral intuitions are unreliable.

Or, are they!?!

Here's a response worthy of Chuck (i.e., bold and thoughtless, but mildly entertaining in the way that that Texas Ranger show was). On the prospectivist view of obligation, what an agent ought to do depends upon that agent's normative and non-normative evidence. What you ought to do is maximize expectable utility. Where does our non-normative evidence come from? Perception, testimony, memory, and introspection. Where does our normative evidence come from? Intuition. With order effects, we find that intuition can be partially determined by the order in which cases are presented to a subject. Why not say, then, that order effects are among the conditions that determine what your evidence is? If it does, then the conditions like the order in which you consider a case do determine what you are obligated to do by helping to determine what your evidence is. So, you cannot take the observation that our intuitions are subject to order effects as any reason to think that our intuitive judgments are unreliable. Judgments are only unreliable if they aren't reliably true, but the truth of these particular judgments depend upon the evidence you have for them. That depends upon what your intuitions are. That depends (in part) upon the order which the cases are presented to you.

No, I don't endorse the response. I think it's amusing that someone could offer this response, especially because I don't quite see what's wrong with it (apart from the account of moral obligation the response assumes).

1 comment:

Rick Warden said...


This comment is off topic but is simply an invitation. I was wondering if anyone at this blog would be willing to challenge the following article using only logic, reason and layman's terms:

"How Identity, Logic and Physics Prove God's Existence"