Dispositions and Ethics

Abstract

What is the connection between dispositions and ethics? Some might think very little and those who are interested in dispositions tend to be metaphysicians whose interests are far from value. However, we argue in this paper that dispositions and dispositionality are central to ethics, indeed a precondition. Ethics rests on a number of notions that are either dispositional in nature or involve real dispositions or powers at work. We argue for a dispositional account of value that offers an alternative to the traditional fact-value dichotomy. We explain the place of value within a structure that explains the possibility of ethics. Elsewhere in this structure, we argue that moral responsibility is a precondition for ethics and that it is a dispositional notion depending critically on what Mumford and Anjum have called the dispositional modality. Moral responsibility in turn depends on there being both agency and normativity. We argue that intentionality and agency are preconditions for agency and that value is a precondition of normativity. All these notions are dispositional and make best sense if there are real dispositions or causal powers of agents.

Author Profiles

Stephen Mumford
Durham University
Svein Lie
University of Tromsø
Rani Anjum
University of Tromsø (PhD)

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2013-03-21

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