Research Paper

Free Will in the Block Universe

Carl Hoefer has argued that determinism in block universes does not privilege any particular time slice as the fundamental determiner of other time slices. He concludes from this that our actions are free, insofar as they are pieces of time slices we may legitimately regard as fundamental determiners. However, I argue that Hoefer does not adequately deal with certain remaining problems. For one, there remain pervasive asymmetries in causation and the macroscopic efficacy of our actions.

English

Modesty without Illusion

The common image of the fully virtuous person is of someone with perfect self-command and self-perception, who always makes correct evaluations. However, modesty appears to be a real virtue, and it seems contradictory for someone to believe that she is modest. Accordingly, traditional defenders of phronesis (the view that virtue involves practical wisdom) deny that modesty is a virtue, while defenders of modesty such as Julia Driver deny that phronesis is required for virtue. I offer a new theory of modesty—the two standards account—under which phronesis and modesty are reconciled.

English

Beyond the Bottom Line: The Theoretical Goals of Moral Theorizing

Moral theory is no substitute for virtue, but virtue is no substitute for moral theory. Many critics of moral theory, with Richard Posner being one prominent recent example, complain that moral theory is too abstract, that it cannot generally be used to derive particular rights and wrongs, and that it does not improve people's characters. Posner complains that it is thus of no use to legal theorists. This article defends moral theory, and to some degree, philosophical inquiry in general, against such pragmatic complaints.

English

Tuck on the Rationality of Voting

RICHARD TUCK WANTS TO SHOW THAT it is rational to vote.1 Mancur Olson argued that it is irrational to vote because individual votes have little or no causal power over electoral outcomes. Tuck wants to prove that Olson is mistaken. Tuck argues some votes are causally efficacious. However, even if Tuck succeeds in showing that some votes are causally efficacious, all this does is undermine part of Olson’s worry about whether voting is instrumentally rational. Showing that votes are causally ef- ficacious is not sufficient to show that voting is rational.

English

Scepticism about Philosophy

Suppose a person who is agnostic about most philosophical issues wishes to have true philosophical beliefs but equally wishes to avoid false philosophical beliefs. I argue that this truth-seeking, error-avoiding agnostic would not have good grounds for pursuing philosophy. Widespread disagreement shows that pursuing philosophy is not a reliable method of discovering true answers to philosophical questions. More likely than not, pursuing philosophy leads to false belief. Many attempts to rebut this sceptical argument fail.

English

Condorcet’s Jury Theorem and the Optimum Number of Voters

Many political theorists and philosophers use Condorcet's Jury Theorem to defend democracy. This article illustrates an uncomfortable implication of Condorcet's Jury Theorem. Realistically, when the conditions of Condorcet's Jury Theorem hold, even in very high stakes elections, having more than 100,000 citizens vote does no significant good in securing good political outcomes.

English

The Right to a Competent Electorate

The practice of unrestricted universal suffrage is unjust. Citizens have a right that any political power held over them should be exercised by competent people in a competent way. Universal suffrage violates this right. To satisfy this right, universal suffrage in most cases must be replaced by a moderate epistocracy, in which suffrage is restricted to citizens of sufficient political competence. Epistocracy itself seems to fall foul of the qualified acceptability requirement, that political power must be distributed in ways against which there are no qualified objections.

English

Pages