Desirism
​Good Desires and Better Worlds

​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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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. (20171029)
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​Sidgwick on Motives: ​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. (20171008)
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Elizabeth Anderson on Moral Progress: ​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. This is one argument she uses to argue for racial integration. In the attached article, take a more detailed look at Anderson's philosophy and suggest that it may also imply the need for some sort of global governing body. (20171008)
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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)

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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​​ 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.
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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

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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​​​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)
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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.