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Gerald Hull [8]Gerald L. Hull [1]
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Gerald Hull
State University of New York at Binghamton
  1. Tracking the Moral Truth: Debunking Street’s Darwinian Dilemma.Gerald L. Hull - manuscript
    Sharon Street’s 2006 article “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” challenges the epistemological pretensions of the moral realist, of the nonnaturalist in particular. Given that “Evolutionary forces have played a tremendous role in shaping the content of human evaluative attitudes” – why should one suppose such attitudes and concomitant beliefs would track an independent moral reality? Especially since, on a nonnaturalist view, moral truth is causally inert. I abstract a logical skeleton of Street’s argument and, with its aid, (...)
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  2.  55
    Finlay's Radical Altruism.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    The question “Why should I be moral?” has long haunted normative ethics. How one answers it depends critically upon one’s understanding of morality, self-interest, and the relation between them. Stephen Finlay, in “Too Much Morality”, challenges the conventional interpretation of morality in terms of mutual fellowship, offering instead the “radical” view that it demands complete altruistic self-abnegation: the abandonment of one’s own interests in favor of those of any “anonymous” other. He ameliorates this with the proviso that there is no (...)
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  3.  30
    How Do You Like Me Now?Gerald Hull - manuscript
    These reflections are an attempt to get to the heart of the "reason is the slave of the passions" debate. The whole point of deliberation is to arrive at a choice. What factors persons find to be choice-relevant is a purely empirical matter. This has significant consequences for the views of Hume, Williams, Nagel, Parfit and Korsgaard regarding practical reason.
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  4. The Eliminability of Higher Order Vagueness.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    It is generally supposed that borderline cases account for the tolerance of vague terms, yet cannot themselves be sharply bounded, leading to infinite levels of higher order vagueness. This higher order vagueness subverts any formal effort to make language precise. However, it is possible to show that tolerance must diminish at higher orders. The attempt to derive it from indiscriminability founders on a simple empirical test, and we learn instead that there is no limit to how small higher order tolerance (...)
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  5. Vagueness Without Indefiniteness.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    Contemporary discussions do not always clearly distinguish two different forms of vagueness. Sometimes focus is on the imprecision of predicates, and sometimes the indefiniteness of statements. The two are intimately related, of course. A predicate is imprecise if there are instances to which it neither definitely applies nor definitely does not apply, instances of which it is neither definitely true nor definitely false. However, indefinite statements will occur in everyday discourse only if speakers in fact apply imprecise predicates to such (...)
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  6. How to Derive Morality From Hume's Maxim.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    The argument that follows has a certain air of prestidigitation about it. I attempt to show that, given a couple of innocent-seeming suppositions, it is possible to derive a positive and complete theory of normative ethics from the Humean maxim "You can't get ought from is." This seems, of course, absurd. If the reasoning isn't completely unhinged, you may be sure, the trick has to lie in those "innocent-seeming" props. And, in fact, you are right. But every argument has to (...)
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  7. How Can Morality Be in My Interest.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    It is natural to oppose morality and self-interest; it is customary also to oppose morality to interests as such, an inclination encouraged by Kantian tradition. However, if “interest” is understood simply as what moves a person to do this rather than that, then – if persons ever actually are good and do what is right – there must be moral interests. Bradley, in posing the “Why should I be moral?” question, raises Kant-inspired objections to the possibility of moral interests qua (...)
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  8. Vagueness, Truth and Varzi.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    Is 'vague' vague? Is the meaning of 'true' vague? Is higher-order vagueness unavoidable? Is it possible to say precisely what it is to say something precisely? These questions, deeply interrelated and of fundamental importance to logic and semantics, have been addressed recently by Achille Varzi in articles focused on an ingenius attempt by Roy Sorensen ("An Argument for the Vagueness of 'Vague'") to demonstrate that 'vague' is vague.
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  9.  71
    A Normative Approach to Moral Realism.Gerald Hull - manuscript
    The realist belief in robustly attitude-independent evaluative truths – more specifically, moral truths – is challenged by Sharon Street’s essay “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value”. We know the content of human normative beliefs and attitudes has been profoundly influenced by a Darwinian natural selection process that favors adaptivity. But if simple adaptivity can explain the content of our evaluative beliefs, any connection they might have with abstract moral truth would seem to be purely coincidental. She continues the (...)
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