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John J. Tilley
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis
  1. Cultural Relativism.John J. Tilley - 2000 - Human Rights Quarterly 22 (2):501–547.
    In this paper I refute the chief arguments for cultural relativism, meaning the moral (not the descriptive) theory that goes by that name. In doing this I walk some oft-trodden paths, but I also break new ones. For instance, I take unusual pains to produce an adequate formulation of cultural relativism, and I distinguish that thesis from the relativism of present-day anthropologists, with which it is often conflated. In addition, I address not one or two, but eleven arguments for cultural (...)
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  2. Hedonism.John J. Tilley - 2012 - In Ruth Chadwick (ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, 2nd ed., vol. 2. Academic Press. pp. 566-73.
    This article covers four types of hedonism: ancient hedonism; ethical hedonism; axiological hedonism; and psychological hedonism. It concentrates on the latter two types, both by clarifying them and by discussing arguments in their behalf. It closes with a few words about the relevance of those positions to applied ethics.
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  3. Butler's Stone.John J. Tilley - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4): 891–909.
    Early in the eleventh of his Fifteen Sermons, Joseph Butler advances his best-known argument against psychological hedonism. Elliott Sober calls that argument Butler’s stone, and famously objects to it. I consider whether Butler’s stone has philosophical value. In doing so I examine, and reject, two possible ways of overcoming Sober’s objection, each of which has proponents. In examining the first way I discuss Lord Kames’s version of the stone argument, which has hitherto escaped scholarly attention. Finally, I show that Butler’s (...)
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  4. Cultural Relativism.John J. Tilley - forthcoming - In George Ritzer (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
    A brief reference article on cultural relativism, forthcoming in the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd edition.
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  5. The Problem for Normative Cultural Relativism.John J. Tilley - 1998 - Ratio Juris 11 (3):272-290.
    The key problem for normative (or moral) cultural relativism arises as soon as we try to formulate it. It resists formulations that are (1) clear, precise, and intelligible; (2) plausible enough to warrant serious attention; and (3) faithful to the aims of leading cultural relativists, one such aim being to produce an important alternative to moral universalism. Meeting one or two of these conditions is easy; meeting all three is not. I discuss twenty-four candidates for the label "cultural relativism," showing (...)
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  6. John Clarke of Hull's Argument for Psychological Egoism.John J. Tilley - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (1):69-89.
    John Clarke of Hull, one of the eighteenth century's staunchest proponents of psychological egoism, defended that theory in his Foundation of Morality in Theory and Practice. He did so mainly by opposing the objections to egoism in the first two editions of Francis Hutcheson's Inquiry into Virtue. But Clarke also produced a challenging, direct argument for egoism which, regrettably, has received virtually no scholarly attention. In this paper I give it some of the attention it merits. In addition to reconstructing (...)
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  7. Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke on Desire and Self-Interest.John J. Tilley - 2019 - The European Legacy 24 (1): 1-24.
    Among the most animating debates in eighteenth-century British ethics was the debate over psychological egoism, the view that our most basic desires are self-interested. An important episode in that debate, less well known than it should be, was the exchange between Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke of Hull. In the early editions of his Inquiry into Virtue, Hutcheson argued ingeniously against psychological egoism; in his Foundation of Morality, Clarke argued ingeniously against Hutcheson’s arguments. Later, Hutcheson attempted new arguments against psychological (...)
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  8. Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke: Self-Interest, Desire, and Divine Impassibility.John J. Tilley - 2017 - International Philosophical Quarterly 57 (3):315-330.
    In this article I address a puzzle about one of Francis Hutcheson’s objections to psychological egoism. The puzzle concerns his premise that God receives no benefit from rewarding the virtuous. Why, in the early editions of his Inquiry Concerning Virtue, does Hutcheson leave this premise undefended? And why, in the later editions, does he continue to do so, knowing that in 1726 John Clarke of Hull had subjected the premise to plausible criticism, geared to the very audience for whom Hutcheson’s (...)
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  9. Hutcheson's Theological Objection to Egoism.John J. Tilley - 2016 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (1):101-123.
    Francis Hutcheson's objections to psychological egoism usually appeal to experience or introspection. However, at least one of them is theological: It includes premises of a religious kind, such as that God rewards the virtuous. This objection invites interpretive and philosophical questions, some of which may seem to highlight errors or shortcomings on Hutcheson's part. Also, to answer the questions is to point out important features of Hutcheson's objection and its intellectual context. And nowhere in the scholarship on Hutcheson do we (...)
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  10. Wollaston's Early Critics.John J. Tilley - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (6):1097-1116.
    Some of the most forceful objections to William Wollaston's moral theory come from his early critics, namely, Thomas Bott (1688-1754), Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746), and John Clarke of Hull (1687-1734). These objections are little known, while the inferior objections of Hume, Bentham, and later prominent critics are familiar. This fact is regrettable. For instance, it impedes a robust understanding of eighteenth-century British ethics; also, it fosters a questionable view as to why Wollaston's theory, although at first well received, soon faded in (...)
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  11. Dismissive Replies to "Why Should I Be Moral?".John J. Tilley - 2009 - Social Theory and Practice 35 (3):341–68.
    The question "Why should I be moral?," taken as a request for reasons to be moral, strikes many philosophers as silly, confused, or otherwise out of line. Hence we find many attempts to dismiss it as spurious. This paper addresses four such attempts and shows that they fail. It does so partly by discussing various errors about reasons for action, errors that lie at the root of the view that "Why should I be moral?" is ill-conceived. Such errors include the (...)
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  12. Is "Why Be Moral?" A Pseudo-Question?: Hospers and Thornton on the Amoralist's Challenge.John J. Tilley - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4):549-66.
    Many arguments have been advanced for the view that "Why be moral?" is a pseudo-question. In this paper I address one of the most widely known and influential of them, one that comes from John Hospers and J. C. Thornton. I do so partly because, strangely, an important phase of that argument has escaped close attention. It warrants such attention because, firstly, not only is it important to the argument in which it appears, it is important in wider respects. For (...)
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  13. Exciting Reasons and Moral Rationalism in Hutcheson's Illustrations Upon the Moral Sense.John J. Tilley - 2012 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (1):53-83.
    One of the most oft-cited parts of Francis Hutcheson’s Illustrations upon the Moral Sense (1728) is his discussion of “exciting reasons.” In this paper I address the question: What is the function of that discussion? In particular, what is its relation to Hutcheson’s attempt to show that the rationalists’ normative thesis ultimately implies, contrary to their moral epistemology, that moral ideas spring from a sense? Despite first appearances, Hutcheson’s discussion of exciting reasons is not part of that attempt. Mainly, it (...)
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  14. Reasons, Rational Requirements, and the Putative Pseudo-Question “Why Be Moral?”.John J. Tilley - 2008 - Synthese 161 (2):309 - 323.
    In this paper, I challenge a familiar argument -- a composite of arguments in the literature -- for the view that “Why be moral?” is a pseudo-question. I do so by refuting a component of that argument, a component that is not only crucial to the argument but important in its own right. That component concerns the status of moral reasons in replies to “Why be moral?”; consequently, this paper concerns reasons and rationality no less than it concerns morality. The (...)
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  15. Motivation and Practical Reasons.John J. Tilley - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (1):105-127.
    In discussions of practical reason we often encounter the view that a fact is a reason for an agent to act only if the fact is capable of moving the agent to act. This view figures centrally in many philosophical controversies, and while taken for granted by some, it is vigorously disputed by others. In this essay I show that if the disputed position is correctly interpreted, it is well armored against stock objections and implied by a premise that is (...)
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  16. The Problem of Inconsistency in Wollaston's Moral Theory.John J. Tilley - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (3):265–80.
    This paper challenges Francis Hutcheson's and John Clarke of Hull's alleged demonstrations that William Wollaston's moral theory is inconsistent. It also present a form of the inconsistency objection that fares better than theirs, namely, that of Thomas Bott (1688-1754). Ultimately, the paper shows that Wollaston's moral standard is not what some have thought it to be; that consequently, his philosophy withstands the best-known efforts to expose it as inconsistent; and further, that one of the least-known British moralists is more important (...)
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  17. Physical Objects and Moral Wrongness: Hume on the "Fallacy" in Wollaston's Moral Theory.John J. Tilley - 2009 - Hume Studies 35 (1-2):87-101.
    In a well-known footnote in Book 3 of his Treatise of Human Nature, Hume calls William Wollaston's moral theory a "whimsical system" and purports to destroy it with a few brief objections. The first of those objections, although fatally flawed, has hitherto gone unrefuted. To my knowledge, its chief error has escaped attention. In this paper I expose that error; I also show that it has relevance beyond the present subject. It can occur with regard to any moral theory which, (...)
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  18. Justifying Reasons, Motivating Reasons, and Agent Relativism in Ethics.John J. Tilley - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 118 (3):373-399.
    According to agent relativism, each person's moral requirements are relative to her desires or interests. That is, whether a person morally ought to ø depends on what interests or desires she has. Some philosophers charge that the main argument for agent relativism trades on an ambiguity in the term "reason," "reason for action,'' or the like. This paper shows that although the argument for agent relativism may indeed harbor an ambiguity, the ambiguity is no Achilles’ heel. To remove it is (...)
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  19. Accounting for the 'Tragedy' in the Prisoner's Dilemma.John J. Tilley - 1994 - Synthese 99 (2):251–76.
    The Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) exhibits a tragedy in this sense: if the players are fully informed and rational, they are condemned to a jointly dispreferred outcome. In this essay I address the following question: What feature of the PD's payoff structure is necessary and sufficient to produce the tragedy? In answering it I use the notion of a trembling-hand equilibrium. In the final section I discuss an implication of my argument, an implication which bears on the persistence of the problem (...)
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  20.  45
    Spectres of False Divinity: Hume's Moral Atheism (Review). [REVIEW]John J. Tilley - 2012 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (2):297-298.
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