Desirism
​Good Desires and Better Worlds

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​​ Morality from the Ground Up: The Basics of Desirism. This document describes basic desirism by showing how beings who perform intentional actions (grounded on desires), where some desires can be molded by rewards (such as praise) and punishments (such as condemnation) can develop a moral system.

Desirism
​Good Desires and Better Worlds

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Morality from the Ground Up: This document contains the basics of desirism. It builds the theory from simple premises, arguing how desires are the fundamental concern with moral judgment, and explaining the basics of how desires relate to each other to create good desires and bad desires - and generate the criteria for right and wrong action.

​In Progress

This is the document that I am working on at the moment. If you are curious, you can give it a look - and provide feedback, if you wish. I would be pleased if you did.
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An Assignment Theory of Desire (20180715). A moral theory that basis moral value on desires needs a theory of desires. This is a work in progress for presenting and defending an Assignment Theory of Desires. 
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Oddie's Desires: This is a commentary on Graham Oddie's "Desire and the Good: In Search of the Right Fit," where Oddie describes desire as "a fitting response to the good". In this commentary, I introduce the idea that a desire is an assignment of value, and compare that account to Oddie's in the arguments that he addresses in his essay. (20180521)
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Constitutional Interpretation: Using the 2nd Amendment as a model, I argue that terms in the Bill of Rights refer to independent moral facts and that interpreting those terms means determining the correct moral facts. In some cases, the moral fact may be that a constitutional right simply does not exist. (20180520)
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Frege and Attitude Reports: I wrote this paper as a class assignment. It concerns a question about how to understand desire sentences - sentences of the form "Agent desires that P". Propositions undergo a reference shift when they are the object of a belief, but not (contra Frege) when they are the object of a desire.  (20180318)
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Civil Disobedience MLK Style: This paper aims to present - and to endorse - the style of disobedience that Martin Luther King defended in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". (20180216)
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A Revised Darwinian Dilemma. In this paper, I take Sharon Smith's "Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value" and revise and amend it to make it a bit more accurate. For example, I argue that it is an argument against intrinsic theories of value, not realist theories, and it applies only to certain desires-as-ends and not desires-as-means. (20180123)
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​​The Virtue of Reason: ​In this document, I try to argue for promoting a virtue of reason - meaning a virtue of working to ensure that one's beliefs (particularly beliefs on matters that concern the well-being of others) are well grounded. It is an argument for epistemic responsibility, and a justification for the condemnation of those who do not practice it. (20170525)
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Commentary on "Character and Blame in Hume and Beyond" by Antti Kauppine. Kauppine looks at David Hume's claim that moral blame targets character traits, not actions. He brings up some claims in its defense, and discusses three potential problems. This paper uses the paper as a foil for discussing the idea that praise and blame is used to mold malleable desires - promoting desires and aversions that produce benefits and avoid harms to interests. (Last edited July 31, 2017)
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The Strangeness of "Ought": This article who is aimed at skeptics - those who tend to doubt the existence of ghosts and demons since there is no reason to believe in their existence. Many such people believe in a separation of "ought" from "is" such that somebody who knows every fact could not derive from those facts any "ought" claim. (20180127)

Documents

This section contains documents that are more-or-less finished, at least as a first draft. If you have comments or criticisms, I would be pleased to hear them.

Longer Documents

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​​​A Moral Aversion Theory of Punishment: ​In the book, ​The Problem of Punishment​, David Boonin argues that punishment is unjustified. He looks at various theories of punishment and judges that all of them fail to justify punishment for criminal wrongdoing. In this paper, I argue that Boonin did not give motive utilitarian theories of punishment their due.
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​A Foundation for Political Change: I wrote this paper as an objection to the dominant political view of "libertarianism" that currently holds power. I argue against it on philosophical grounds, taking John Locke as a philosophical ally, and present ideas on how best to go about improving the quality of elected officials.
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​​ Criticizing an Idea:   ​Using what is called "Islamophobia" as a model, this paper looks at how to distinguish bigoted criticism of a people and the legitimate criticism of an idea. I argue that Sam Harris and Bill Maher violate this distinction and that by cleaning up their use of language they can learn to avoid charges of bigotry and focus on issues that matter. (20170805)

Commentary Articles

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Epistemic Negligence: William Alston wrote against the ethics of belief that we cannot will to believe or disbelieve something, and we cannot be held accountable for what we cannot control. I argue, using the concept of epistemic negligence, that we can be held accountable for the unintended consequences of our actions. (20180518)
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Letter to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Regarding Reasons for Action: As I see it, enteries in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy incorrectly associated the phrase "there are reasons for Agent to do X" with "Agent has a desire that would be fulfilled by doing X." I wrote a letter pointing out the alleged error. (20180127)
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Akan Morality and Metaphysics: An examination of the moral philosophy of the Akan people in Africa shows that it is grounded on a simpler and more realistic metaphysics that we have in the west. For example, they do not accept the idea of the autonomous individual or of free will - metaphysical concepts that create significant problems. (20171229)
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Elizabeth Anderson and Moral Epistemology: ​Elizabeth Anderson argues against a moral methodology that involves privileged individuals sitting in their armchairs imaging hypothetical moral scenarios and argues for studying the real world. Furthermore, it requires that all impacted individuals have a voice. She uses this to argue for racial integration. I suggest that the same points make an argument for some sort of global governing body. (20180103)
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​Sidgwick on Motives and Right Action: ​In his famous work, Methods of Ethics, Sidgwick provided three arguments against the idea that intuitive morality looks first at motives. This paper looks at those arguments and concludes that Sidgwick had the wrong idea on how right actions relate to good motives. (20171230)
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Sidgwick vs. Hume on Reasons: Henry Sidgwick in Methods of Ethics argues against David Hume's thesis that reason is the slave of the passions. I defend Hume here by bringing in the concept of "manufactured ends that people generally have reason to promote universally" - a type of end consistent with Hume's theory but immune to Sidgwick's objections. (20170811)
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​G.E. Moore's Naturalistic Fallacy: Desirism reduces moral properties to natural properties - relationships between malleable desires and other desires. Some tend to assert that this violates G.E. Moore's "naturalistic fallacy". This document examines the fallacy and explains its irrelevance to this theory.
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​Jesse Prinz on Emotional Conditioning: ​Jesse Prinz argues that morality can be understood as an expression of one's moral sentiments. In this paper, I argue that this is inconsistent with Prinz's own claims about moral instruction. The best understanding of moral instruction is in terms of creating universal sentiments that are useful to others. 
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​JL Mackie's Moral Realism. ​J.L. Mackie is credited with creating a new branch of moral philosophy called "Error Theory". This holds that all moral statements are false because they make the false claim that the object of evaluation contains intrinsic prescriptivity. I defend Mackie as being a moral realist - both in his own terms, and in ours.
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​Consequences Are Everything? This is a paper written against purely consequentialist theories of ethics. In it, I attempt to provide a simple account of the three types of moral theories - consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theory. Then I give a quick account of how desirism unifies these three theories.
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Commentary on Moral Obligation, Evidence, and Belief: ​In this commentary, I highlight two types of subjectivism - subjectivism of moral principles and of specific moral judgments. Spelman successfully demonstrated that specific moral judgments depend on an agent's beliefs. However, he does not succeed at showing that the background moral principles are subjective. Desirism is also subjective at the level of specific judgments, and objective at the level of general principle. 

Practical Application

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​​ Moral Issues with the 2016 Presidential Campaign of Bernie Sanders: This paper presents three morally questionable elements in the 2016 Presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders: (1) A lack of regard for scientific evidence, (2) Scapegoating - campaigning on a message of "us" versus "them", and (3) A discregard for the well-being of the global poor.
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The Non-Identity Non-Problem. Wilma has two options. She can conceive a child now that will be blind, or take a pill and, in two months, conceive a child that will not be blind. Is it wrong for her to conceive a (blind) child now? Given that this case concerns two different children, philosophers call this the "non-identity problem". I argue that Wilma's act would not be wrong. (20171227) 
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​Freedom of Speech: This is another paper I am drafting for the Party of Reason and Progress (PORP), this one arguing for a right to freedom of speech consisting of a right to immunity from violence or threats of violence for communicative actions.
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​The Living Wage: ​This is one of the documents that I am working on for the Party of Reason and Progress (PORP). It argues that the unemployment effects of raising the minimum wage are unknown. Given that there is a chance of inflicting harm with a minimum wage increase, we should take steps to provide help to those people.
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​​​Abortion:  ​This short article describes the basics of how desirism considers the issue of abortion. All value exists as relationships between states of affairs and desires. A fetus that has no desires has no interests. Thus, it cannot be wronged - its interests cannot be violated. (Published 20170511)