Thursday, 12 January 2012

Final Seminar

Final seminar on the 16th Jan.

Reading: Are Moral Requirements Hypothetical Imperatives, McDowell.

There are no questions this week. I want to see how you react to reading a paper without prompting.

Please still take time to think about the paper. Think about what the main arugments are, and if you can see any problems with them. Think about what you *dont* understand, and specific questions you have.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Smith On Externalism

Reading: Smith, The Externalist Challenge

(Note - there are two Smith readings in the coursepack. Take care to read the right one!)

1. What are the 3 definitions fo internalism Smith provides? How are they related?

2. What is externalism?

3. What is Brinks 'Amoralist' challenge?

4. How does Smith respond?

5. What is Foot's etiquette challenge?

6. How does Smith respond?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Railton on Realism

Reading: Railton, Moral Realism


1. Is it possible to be serious about moraility without being a moral realist? What does Railton think? What do you think?

2. What is the position Railton calls "stark raving moral realism"?

3. What is the fact/vaule distinction?

4. Do moral staments express vaules or facts? What do you think? What does Railton think?

5.What is the Lonnie example (pg 174)? What is it supposed to show?

6. "Where is the place in explanation for facts about what OUGHT to be the case - dont facts about the way things ARE do all the explaining there is to be done?" pg 185. How would Railton respond to this type of question?

7. How could a notion of degrees of moral rightness participate in explanations of behavior? (pg 191 +)

8.What 3 patternms in the evolution of moral norms seem to bear out the predictions Railton makes? (pg 197 +)

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Reading: The whole of the Miller


1. Do you think that 'murder is wrong' expresses a fact? If yes, why so?

2. What is cognitivism? What is Ayer's version? What would they say in response to question 2?

3. What is logical positivism? How would this lead to an arugment against Moore?

4. What does it mean to say that 'murder is wrong' is an expression, not a saying (see pg 37)?

5. What is the implied error problem?

6. What is the Frege Geach problem? Think of your own example of the syllogism on pg 40-41 (staments 8 and 9 leading to 10). Is your example an example of a valid arugment? How often do we reason like this in everyday life?

7. What is Blackburn's response to the Frege Geach problem?

8. Why does Wright think Blackburn's response doesnt work?

9. What is commitment theoretic semamtics?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Mackie on Subjective Vaules

Again, a short reading this week, so try to get really clear about what is being said.
Reading: Chapter 1, Section 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 of the Mackie Reading (in the coursepack)


1. What is Mackie's thesis re:objective vaules? What does he take them to include? How intially appealing do you find this thesis?

2. Whats the 1st order/2nd order distinction? (pg 16)

3. What is the 1st 2nd order type of subjectivism mentioned in section 2? How does Mackie's view differ?

4. Whats the arugment from relativity?

5. Why can it not be that "the mere occurence of disagreements ... tells against the objectivity of vaules"?

6. What is Sidgwick's objection?

7. What is the response to Sidgwick?

8. What are the two parts to the argument fro queerness?

9. Whats intuitionism? Why is the objectivist committed to it? Is this a bad thing for the objectivist?

10. Whats Price's response to the queerness argument?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rule Following

Main reading: Kripke, sections in the coursepack

Additional: Please make sure you understand the three responses mentioned below (Kripke's own, dispositional, and Boghossian's). If you do not, the Boghossian paper is very useful.


1. What does Kripke say it is to grasp a rule?

2. What is the sceptic's hypothesis re: plus and quss?

3. What are the 2 forms of the challenge on pg 11? Which do you think is stronger?

4. What is the differene between Quine and Wittgenstien discussed on pg 14?

5. Pn pg 15 Kripke takes it that a finite number of examples is not enough to fix the meaning. Why?

6. Why does the rule suggested on pg 16 not fix this problem?

7. What is the dispotional response? What are its problems?

8. What is Kripke's own response? (From the lecture notes)

9. What is Boghossian's response? (From the lecture notes/additonal reading)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fictional Characters

Reading: Chaphter 12 of Brock and Mares

1. What 2 theses do realist subscribe to? Do you find the objectivity thesis initally plausable? If you dont, what arugments can you think of against it?

2.What is the difference between a fictional statment and a critical statment? Which do Brock and Mares find provides the best "common sense opinion" in support of realism, and why? Are there any other "commmon sense" opinions you have which DONT support realism about fictional charachters?

3. Why think that critical staments cannot be considered abbreveations?

4. Why think that they can? If only some of them can, what would that show?

5. Whats an example of a negative existential which seems true but the realist will have to deny?

6. What arugment ( on pg 207) can the realist put against the stament in question 5 being true?

7. Whats the difference between concrete and abstract realism? What are the different ways they would deal with the stament from question 5?

8. What is Thomasson's theory? Why does she hold it?

9. Whats prefix fictionalism?

10. Do we assert fictional staments? Who would deny that we do? How and why would they make this move?