Publication Abstracts

David Slutsky

 

David Slutsky. Testing Ethics Empirically. In Preparation.
Abstract: forthcoming
 

Abstract:

            Many people argue that history makes a special difference to the subjects of biology and psychology, and that history does not make this special difference to other parts of the world. This paper will show that historical properties make no more or less of a difference to biology or psychology than to chemistry, physics, or other sciences. Although historical properties indeed make a certain kind of difference to biology and psychology, this paper will show that historical properties make the same kind of difference to geology, sociology, astronomy, and other sciences. Similarly, many people argue that nonhistorical properties make a special difference to the nonbiological and the nonpsychological world. This paper will show that nonhistorical properties make the same difference to all things in the world when it comes to their causal behavior and that historical properties make the same difference to all things in the world when it comes to their distributions. Although history is special, it is special in the same way to all parts of the world. 
                    PhilPapers webpage for this article - you can download a copy of the paper here
                    PhilPapers webpage for Biological Natural Kinds
                    PhilPapers webpage for Explanation
                    PhilPapers webpage for Explanation in Biology
                    PhilPapers webpage for Induction
                    PhilPapers webpage for Metaphysics
                    PhilPapers webpage for Ontology
                    CiteULike webpage for this article
Keywords: natural kind, historical kind, eternal kind, biological explanations, psychological explanations, indispensability arguments, goal-directedness, teleological function, functional explanation, Ruth Millikan, Crawford Elder, Berent Enc, Paul E. Griffiths, essential properties, historical properties, supervenience bases
 

David Slutsky. Causally Inefficacious Moral Properties. 2001. Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (4): 595-610

Abstract:

            In this paper, I motivate skepticism about the causal efficacy of moral properties in two ways. First, I highlight a tension that arises between two claims that moral realists may want to accept. The first claim is that physically indistinguishable things do not differ in any causally efficacious respect. The second claim is that physically indistinguishable things that differ in certain historical respects have different moral properties. The tension arises to the extent to which these different moral properties are supposed to have different effects on people. I will introduce a class of cases in which this tension arises and suggest that the moral properties in these cases have no causal power. I will also question whether there are differences between the moral properties in these cases and moral properties in other cases that do not involve physically indistinguishable things that could make the latter moral properties causally efficacious. The second way that I motivate skepticism consists in pointing out a unique feature of cases in which moral properties are supposed both to supervene on historical properties and to be causally efficacious. These cases allow us to change moral properties with alleged effects while we hold constant the nonmoral candidates for causal contribution to those effects. This feature of these cases is unique because in most other cases the moral properties supervene on the physical properties in the nonmoral candidates, such that we cannot change the former while holding constant the latter. This way of changing moral properties provides empirical grounds for testing their causal efficacy.
                    PhilPapers webpage for this article - you can download a copy of the paper here
                    PhilPapers webpage for Moral Explanation
                    PhilPapers webpage for Moral Skepticism
                    PhilPapers webpage for Moral Irrealism and Realism
                    PhilPapers webpage for Moral Supervenience
                    PhilPapers webpage for Cornell Realism
                    PhilPapers webpage for Moral Cognitivism

Keywords: moral explanations, Cornell realism, ethical naturalism, moral naturalism, moral properties, explanatory relevance, moral supervenience, causal efficacy, moral causation, moral belief, moral realism, moral skepticism, moral antirealism, counterfactual tests for explanatory relevance, Gilbert Harman, Nicholas Sturgeon, Richard W. Miller, Peter Railton, Richard Boyd, David Brink