Indeterminate Oughts

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Williams, JRG (2017)
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Sometimes it is indeterminate what an agent morally ought do. This generates a Decision Ought Challenge — to give moral guidance to agents in such a scenario. This paper is a field guide to the options for a theory of the decision - ought for cases of indeterminacy. Three categories of view are evaluated, and the best representative for each is identified.
  • References (12)
    12 references, page 1 of 2

    2. Timothy Williamson, Vagueness (London: Routledge, 1994).

    3. See J. Robert G. Williams, “Nonclassical Minds and Indeterminate Survival,” Philosophical Review 123 (2014): 379-428, and “Indeterminacy, Angst and Conflicting Values,” Ratio 29 (2016): 412-33.

    4. See J. Robert G. Williams, “Decision Making under Indeterminacy,” Philosopher's Imprint 14 (2014): 1-34.

    5. Williams, “Indeterminacy, Angst and Conflicting Values.”

    21. See Jane Friedman, “Rational Agnosticism and Degrees of Belief,” in Oxford Studies in Epistemology, ed. Tamar Gender and John Hawthorne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 4:57-81.

    22. A very helpful survey of formal models of (quotidian) uncertainty can be found in Joseph Y. Halpern, Reasoning about Uncertainty, rev. ed. (2003; repr., Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005).

    23. See Ruth Chang, “Parity, Interval Value and Choice,” Ethics 115 (2005): 315-50.

    24. Schoenfield, “Decision Making in the Face of Parity,” develops an interesting argument against using imprecise beliefs (at least as standardly modeled with sets of probability functions) as a model of uncertainty characteristic of value aggregation. Her point, if correct, would also refute the indeterminacy-based model defended in my “Indeterminacy, Angst and Conflicting Values” and discussed in Sec. V below.

    25. Compare the discussion of moral twin earth and moral vagueness in Miriam Schoenfield, “Moral Vagueness Is Ontic Vagueness,” Ethics 126 (2015): 257-82.

    26. See Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons, “Troubles on Moral Twin Earth: Moral Queerness Revived,” Synthese 92 (1992): 221-60.

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