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Lecture

Wolf- Sanity and Metaphysics 2.pdf

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL100Y1
Professor
Peter King
Semester
Winter

Description
WOLF (II) AND THE LAST ROUNDUP [1] Final remarks on Wolf Recall that Wolf adopts what she calls the ‘sane deep-self view’, the position that says that to be morally responsible we have to not only be in control of our actions (they must stem from one’s self) but that one’s self has to be oriented properly, both cognitively and normatively. Her theory has the advantage of incorporating some fundamental ordinary intuitions about moral responsibility. However, at the heart of the condition of sanity is the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. Not that this is questionable; it’s just that it isn’t clear what it means to say that one has knowledge of right and wrong. It seems like much more needs to be said here. Suppose that I do something generally thought to be morally correct, but I do it only to seek glory, not caring about the fact that it is right. Is my deep self sane? How would we decide the issue? Indeed, it looks as though she has built into her account some contentful, and hence controversial, claims about what counts as right and wrong. True, we need to have some idea what they are for the condition to have any bite, but is there any way to do so without begging questions that philosophers ought to leave open? Wolf’s attempt to incorporate collective common wisdom is praiseworthy, but it’s not clear what role it leaves for philosophy. Which leads us to... [2] The Big Roundup. What have we learned, in this course? Well, in thinking back on it you might notice that we’ve looked at lots of philosophers, but they rarely agree with one another— usually they disagree, often emphatically. Some get discouraged at this, drawing the moral that philosophy doesn’t make progress, and that it’s all just talk, more or less. But I don’t think that’s the proper moral to draw. Philosophy does make progress; it’s just hard to see, since when it makes progress we grant it autonomy. You might just remember at the start of the course I cited this description of how philosophy is related to other fields of inquiry, since I found (and still find) it clear and correct: In the history of human inquiry, philosophy has the place of the initial central sun, seminal and tumultuous: from time to time it throws off some portion of itself to take station as a science, a planet, cool and well regulated, progressing steadily towards a distant final state. This happened long ago at the birth of mathematics, and again at the birth of physics: only in the last century we have witnessed the same process once again, slow and at the time almost
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