Vol 2, Issue 2

Summer 2010
Artwork by David Alexander Smith

Table of Contents



  • Semi-Fundamental Moral Disagreement and Non-Morally Fundamental Moral Disagreement

    Florian Cova (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris)

    In this paper, I question the dichotomy between fundamental moral disagreements, arising from divergences on moral principles, and superficial moral disagreements, that are expected to disappear under ideal epistemic circumstances. I claim that there are many other possibilities for moral disagreements, including moral disagreements that do not arise from different moral principles but would not disappear under ideal epistemic conditions. I describe two major kinds of such disagreements: semi-fundamental disagreements, which are made possible by the fact that the same moral rules can be applied in different ways to the same situations, and non-morally fundamental moral disagreements, which arise by the fact that moral truths are not the only potentially non-factual truths.

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  • Enlightened Self-Interest: In Search of the Ecological Self (A Synthesis of Stoicism and Ecosophy)

    Bartlomiej Lenart (University of Alberta)

    Neass’ Ecosophy and the Stoic attitude towards environmental ethics are often believed to be incompatible primarily because the first is often understood as championing an ecocentric standpoint while the latter espouses an egocentric (as well as an anthropocentric) view. This essay, however, argues that such incompatibility is rooted in a misunderstanding of both Ecosophy and Stoicism. Moreover, the essay argues that a synthesis of both the Ecosophical and Stoic approaches to environmental concerns results in a robust and satisfying attitude toward the environment, namely an enlightened self-interest, which not only guards our fragile environment from abuse, but also provides self-interested reasons and motivations for the protection of our natural surroundings.

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  • On Referential Opacity in Spinoza's Ethics

    Kian Mintz-Woo (University of Amsterdam)

    In Spinoza’s system, the identity of mental modes and extended modes is suggested, but a formal argument for its truth is difficult to extract. One prima facie difficulty for the claim that mental and extended modes are identical is that substitution of co-referential terms in contexts which are specific to thought or extension fails to preserve truth value. Della Rocca has answered this challenge by claiming that Spinoza relies upon referentially opaque contexts. In this essay, I defend this solution by analyzing what is required to establish that Spinoza recognizes referentially opaque contexts as part of his system One objection that has been made to Della Rocca’s account is that he only establishes the intelligibility, not the actuality, of such mode-identity. In this essay, I argue that the intelligibility of mode-identity is sufficient to establish the existence of opaque attribute-specific contexts.

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  • Towards a Complete Account of Psychological Happiness

    Sam Wren-Lewis (University of Liverpool)

    Psychological happiness can be defined as a profound state of mind which figures strongly in our prudential evaluations and deliberations. I believe that current theories of happiness describe a state of mind that is either ubiquitous, but not as profound as we take happiness to be, or profound, but not as ubiquitous as we take happiness to be. The most plausible theory of psychological happiness currently on offer – the affective state theory – is inadequate in that it fails to make the right distinction between those affects that contribute towards happiness (happiness-constituting affects) and those that do not contribute towards happiness (non-happiness constituting affects). I believe that the correct distinction between happiness-constituting affects and non-happiness-constituting affects is that only affects based on a person’s values are happiness-constituting; it is the relationship between happiness and our values that makes happiness so prudentially valuable. A complete theory of happiness must provide an account of how psychological happiness relates to our prudential values. In this paper I begin to develop the sentiment satisfaction theory of psychological happiness, which is the view that happiness is constituted by affects based on our values, and that our values are constituted by our sentiments. Sentiments are dispositions to experience various emotions and moods; the emotions and moods that are caused by our sentiments can be viewed as expressions of our sentiments (or values). Positive emotions and moods constitute sentiment satisfaction; negative emotions and moods constitute sentiment frustration. I suggest, then, that we can view happiness as consisting in the positive emotions and moods that constitute sentiment satisfaction. Furthermore, instances of sentiment satisfaction are tied together by our underlying emotional dispositions and the effect that emotions have on our motivation towards further instances of sentiment satisfaction.

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