Bergqvist, Anna, and . Thick Concepts and Context Dependence

2013, Southwest Philosophy Review 29(1): 221-32.

Abstract: In this paper I develop my account of moral particularism, focussing on the nature of thick moral concepts. My aim is to show how the particularist can consistently uphold an non-reductive cognitivist ‘dual role’ view of thick moral concepts, even though she holds that the qualities ascribed by such concepts can vary in their moral relevance – so that to judge that something is generous or an act of integrity need not entail that the object of evaluative appraisal is good to some extent. A novel particularist account of thick concepts is proposed, in response to recent work on variance holism. The particularist rejects the holist’s attempt to preserve the idea that thick concepts are evaluative concepts by postulating a special semantic content, a contextually variable evaluative valence, as theoretically unmotivated and conceptually confused. Instead it is argued that the thick concepts have determinable evaluative content in situ only.

Comment: This paper deals with very specific issues relating to how a particularist ought to construe thick concepts. It may be useful as further reading on Jonathan Dancy's work.

Chang, Ruth, and . Incommensurability, incomparability, and practical reason – Introduction

1997, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.

Back matter: Can quite different values be rationally weighed against one another? Can the value of one thing always be ranked as greater than, equal to, or less than the value of something else? If the answer to these questions is no, then in what areas do we find commensurability and comparability unavailable? And what are the implications for moral and legal decision making? This book struggles with these questions, and arrives at distinctly different answers.

Comment: In the introduction to the book Chang distinguishes between commensurability and comparability and argues that things can be compared and a choice can be made between them even if there is no single unit of value according to which they can be measured. The text is particularly useful in teaching introductory modules to value theory, especially on issues related to weighing conflicting values and to moral scepticism. Although very comprehensive, it is a challenging piece however.

Driver, Julia, and . Ethics: The Fundamentals

2006, Wiley-Blackwell (2006)

Editor’s Note: Ethics: The Fundamentals explores core ideas and arguments in moral theory by introducing students to different philosophical approaches to ethics, including virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, divine command theory, and feminist ethics. The first volume in the new Fundamentals of Philosophy series. Presents lively, real-world examples and thoughtful discussion of key moral philosophers and their ideas. Constitutes an excellent resource for readers coming to the subject of ethics for the first time.

Comment: This book offers good preliminary introductions to a number of topics in ethics. Each section could be assigned individually as a starting point for the given topic. The sections on utilitarianism and consequentialism are particularly good introductions. Primarily of use to early undergraduates or students who have not studied ethics before.

French, Shannon E.; McCain, John, and . The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present

2004, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Back matter: Warrior cultures throughout history have developed unique codes that restrict their behavior and set them apart from the rest of society. But what possible reason could a warrior have for accepting such restraints? Why should those whose profession can force them into hellish kill-or-be-killed conditions care about such lofty concepts as honor, courage, nobility, duty, and sacrifice? And why should it matter so much to the warriors themselves that they be something more than mere murderers? The Code of the Warrior tackles these timely issues and takes the reader on a tour of warrior cultures and their values, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the “barbaric” Vikings and Celts, from legendary chivalric knights to Native American tribesmen, from Chinese warrior monks pursuing enlightenment to Japanese samurai practicing death. Drawing these rich traditions up to the present, the author quests for a code for the warriors of today, as they do battle in asymmetric conflicts against unconventional forces and the scourge of global terrorism.

Comment: A longish article, but very useful as a thorough critique of luck egalitarianism, for the author's take on the capability approach, and for her account of democratic equality which revolves around the ideal of democratic citizenship

Govier, Trudy, and . What’s Wrong with Slippery Slope Arguments?

1982, Canadian journal of philosophy. 12(2): 303-316.

Content: Govier distinguishes four kinds of slippery slope arguments – conceptual, precedential, causal and mixed – and argues that only the last kind are likely to ever be sound.

Comment: Useful in teaching about fallacious arguments in general, and about moral arguments an popular discourse about such arguments in particular.

Korsgaard, Christine, and . On Having a Good

2014, Philosophy 89(3): 405-29.

Abstract: In some recent papers I have been arguing that the concept ‘good-for’ is prior to the concept of ‘good’ (in the sense in which final ends are good), and exploring the implications of that claim. One of those implications is that everything that is good is good for someone. That implication seems to fall afoul of our intuitions about certain cases, such as the intuition that a world full of happy people and animals is better than a world full of miserable ones, even if the people and animals are different in the two cases, so that there is no one for whom the second world is better. Such cases tempt people to think that there must be impersonal goods, and that what it means to say that something is good for you is that you are the one who ‘has’ some impersonal good. In this paper, I argue that if we approach things in this way, it is impossible to say what the ‘having’ consists of, what relation it names. This leads me to a discussion of various things we do mean by saying that something is good for someone, how they are related to each other, and what sorts of entities can ‘have a good.’ Finally, I explain why we think that a world full of happy people and animals is better than a world full of miserable ones, even if the people and animals are different in the two cases.

Comment: This is a fairly accessible piece arguing that the concept of 'good-for' is prior to 'good', such that nothing is good unless it is good for someone. It is useful for discussions about the sources of value.

Morioka, Masahiro, and . Is Meaning in Life Comparable? From the Viewpoint of ‘The Heart of Meaning in Life’

2015, Journal of Philosophy of Life 5(3): 50-65.

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to propose a new approach to the question of meaning in life by criticizing Thaddeus Metz’s objectivist theory in his book Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study. The author proposes the concept of ‘the heart of meaning in life,’ which alone can answer the question, ‘Alas, does my life like this have any meaning at all?’ and demonstrates that ‘the heart of meaning in life’ cannot be compared, in principle, with other people’s meaning in life. The answer to the question of ‘the heart of meaning in life’ ought to have two values, yes-or-no, and there is no ambiguous gray zone between them.This concept constitutes the very central content of meaning in life.

Comment: This article is adequate for undergraduate courses in Value Theory. The author develops his view by arguing against the theory developed by Thaddeaus Metz, so it would be recommendable (although it's not necessary) to read some of Thaddeaus' work first. It could be used as an Introductory or secondary reading. No previous knowledge of value theory is needed.

Mulla, Zubin R. and Krishnan, Venkat R., and . Transformational Leadership. Do the Leader’s Morals Matter and Do the Follower’s Morals Change?

2011, Journal of Human Values 17 (2):129-143.

Abstract: In a study of 205 leader–follower pairs, we investigated the impact of the leader’s values and empathy on followers’ perception of transformational leadership and the effect of transformational leadership on followers’ values and empathy. The moderating effect of leader–follower relationship duration on the effect of transformational leadership on followers’ values and empathy was also investigated. We found that the leader’s values were related to transformational leadership and transformational leadership was related to followers’ values. Over time, the relationship between transformational leadership and followers’ empathy and values became stronger

Comment: This text provides an excellent background reading on issues related to leadership and business ethics, making clear connections between philosophical theory and its practical application.

Roberts, Debbie, and . Thick Concepts

2013, Philosophy Compass 8(8): 677-88.

Abstract: In ethics, aesthetics, and increasingly in epistemology, a distinction is drawn between thick and thinevaluative concepts. A common characterisation of the distinction is that thin concepts have only evaluative content whereas thick concepts combine evaluative and descriptive content. Because of thiscombination it is, again commonly, thought that thick concepts have various distinctive powersincluding the power to undermine the distinction between fact and value. This paper discusses theaccuracy of this view of the thick concepts debate, as well as assessing the prospects for a thickconcepts argument against the fact value distinction, while introducing the three main philosophicalpositions on the nature of thick concepts.

Comment: Useful in metaethics courses and relates to work by Bernard Williams, but it is also useful for translating to epistemic values too e.g. in virtue epistemology.

Tiberius, Valerie, and . Humean Heroism: Value Commitments and the Source of Normativity

2000, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 81(4) 426-46.

Abstract: This paper addresses the question “In virtue of what do practical reasons have normative force or justificatory power?” There seems to be good reason to doubt that desires are the source of normativity. However, I argue that the reasons to be suspicious of desire-based accounts of normativity can be overcome by a sufficiently sophisticated account. The position I defend in this paper is one according to which desires, or more generally, proattitudes, do constitute values and provide rational justifications of actions when they are organized in the right way.

Comment: A good defence of desire-based accounts of value, tackling some of the most intuitive objections (such as being "too subjective" and having no foundation in reason).