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Michael Cholbi [34]M. Cholbi [1]
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Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh
  1. Regret, Resilience, and the Nature of Grief.Michael Cholbi - 2019 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (4):486-508.
    Should we regret the fact that we are often more emotionally resilient in response to the deaths of our loved ones than we might expect -- that the suffering associated with grief often dissipates more quickly and more fully than we anticipate? Dan Moller ("Love and Death") argues that we should, because this resilience epistemically severs us from our loved ones and thereby "deprives us of insight into our own condition." I argue that Moller's conclusion is correct despite resting on (...)
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  2. Paternalism and Our Rational Powers.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - Mind 126 (501):123-153.
    According to rational will views of paternalism, the wrongmaking feature of paternalism is that paternalists disregard or fail to respect the rational will of the paternalized, in effect substituting their own presumably superior judgments about what ends the paternalized ought to pursue or how they ought to pursue them. Here I defend a version of the rational will view appealing to three rational powers that constitute rational agency, which I call recognition, discrimination, and satisfaction. By appealing to these powers, my (...)
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  3. The Desire to Work as an Adaptive Preference.Michael Cholbi - 2018 - Autonomy 4.
    Many economists and social theorists hypothesize that most societies could soon face a ‘post-work’ future, one in which employment and productive labor have a dramatically reduced place in human affairs. Given the centrality of employment to individual identity and its pivotal role as the primary provider of economic and other goods, transitioning to a ‘post-work’ future could prove traumatic and disorienting to many. Policymakers are thus likely to face the difficult choice of the extent to which they ought to satisfy (...)
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  4. Grief's Rationality, Backward and Forward.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):255-272.
    Grief is our emotional response to the deaths of intimates, and so like many other emotional conditions, it can be appraised in terms of its rationality. A philosophical account of grief's rationality should satisfy a contingency constraint, wherein grief is neither intrinsically rational nor intrinsically irrational. Here I provide an account of grief and its rationality that satisfies this constraint, while also being faithful to the phenomenology of grief experience. I begin by arguing against the best known account of grief's (...)
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  5. Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition.Michael Cholbi & Alex Madva - 2018 - Ethics 128 (3):517-544.
    The Black Lives Matter movement has called for the abolition of capital punishment in response to what it calls “the war against Black people” and “Black communities.” This article defends the two central contentions in the movement’s abolitionist stance: first, that US capital punishment practices represent a wrong to black communities rather than simply a wrong to particular black capital defendants or particular black victims of murder, and second, that the most defensible remedy for this wrong is the abolition of (...)
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  6. Kantian Paternalism and Suicide Intervention.Michael Cholbi - 2013 - In Christian Coons Michael Weber (ed.), Paternalism: Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press.
    Defends Kantian paternalism: Interference with an individual’s liberty for her own sake is justified absent her actual consent only to the extent that such interference stands a reasonable chance of preventing her from exercising her liberty irrationally in light of the rationally chosen ends that constitute her conception of the good. More specifically, interference with an individual’s liberty is permissible only if, by interfering, we stand a reasonable chance of preventing that agent from performing actions she chose due to distorted (...)
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  7. Finding the Good in Grief: What Augustine Knew but Meursault Couldn't.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (1):91-105.
    Meursault, the protagonist of Camus' The Stranger, is unable to grieve, a fact that ultimately leads to his condemnation and execution. Given the emotional distresses involved in grief, should we envy Camus or pity him? I defend the latter conclusion. As St. Augustine seemed to dimly recognize, the pains of grief are integral to the process of bereavement, a process that both motivates and provides a distinctive opportunity to attain the good of self-knowledge.
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  8. The Euthanasia of Companion Animals.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - In Christine Overall (ed.), Pets and People: The Ethics of our Relationships with Companion Animals. Oxford University Press. pp. 264-278.
    Argues that considerations central to the justification of euthanizing humans do not readily extrapolate to the euthanasia of pets and companion animals; that the comparative account of death's badness can be successfully applied to such animals to ground the justification of their euthanasia and its timing; and proposes that companion animal guardians have authority to decide to euthanize such animals because of their epistemic standing regarding such animals' welfare.
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  9. Race, Capital Punishment, and the Cost of Murder.M. Cholbi - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (2):255-282.
    Numerous studies indicate that racial minorities are both more likely to be executed for murder and that those who murder them are less likely to be executed than if they murder whites. Death penalty opponents have long attempted to use these studies to argue for a moratorium on capital punishment. Whatever the merits of such arguments, they overlook the fact that such discrimination alters the costs of murder; racial discrimination imposes higher costs on minorities for murdering through tougher sentences, and (...)
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  10. The Denial of Moral Dilemmas as a Regulative Ideal.Michael Cholbi - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):268-289.
    The traditional debate about moral dilemmas concerns whether there are circumstances in which an agent is subject to two obligations that cannot both be fulfilled. Realists maintain there are. Irrealists deny this. Here I defend an alternative, methodologically-oriented position wherein the denial of genuine moral dilemmas functions as a regulative ideal for moral deliberation and practice. That is, moral inquiry and deliberation operate on the implicit assumption that there are no genuine moral dilemmas. This view is superior to both realism (...)
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  11.  99
    The Duty to Work.Michael Cholbi - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1119-1133.
    Most advanced industrial societies are ‘work-centered,’ according high value and prestige to work. Indeed, belief in an interpersonal moral duty to work is encoded in both popular attitudes toward work and in policies such as ‘workfare’. Here I argue that despite the intuitive appeal of reciprocity or fair play as the moral basis for a duty to work, the vast majority of individuals in advanced industrialized societies have no such duty to work. For current economic conditions, labor markets, and government (...)
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  12. Time, Value, and Collective Immortality.Michael Cholbi - 2015 - The Journal of Ethics 19 (2):197-211.
    Samuel Scheffler has recently defended what he calls the ‘afterlife conjecture’, the claim that many of our evaluative attitudes and practices rest on the assumption that human beings will continue to exist after we die. Scheffler contends that our endorsement of this claim reveals that our evaluative orientation has four features: non-experientialism, non-consequentialism, ‘conservatism,’ and future orientation. Here I argue that the connection between the afterlife conjecture and these four features is not as tight as Scheffler seems to suppose. In (...)
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  13.  48
    Public Cartels, Private Conscience.Michael Cholbi - 2018 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 17 (4):356-377.
    Many contributors to debates about professional conscience assume a basic, pre-professional right of conscientious refusal and proceed to address how to ‘balance’ this right against other goods. Here I argue that opponents of a right of conscientious refusal concede too much in assuming such a right, overlooking that the professions in which conscientious refusal is invoked nearly always operate as public cartels, enjoying various economic benefits, including protection from competition, made possible by governments exercising powers of coercion, regulation, and taxation. (...)
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  14. Grief and End-of-Life Surrogate Decision Making.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - In John K. Davis (ed.), Ethics at the End of Life: New Issues and Arguments. New York: Routledge. pp. 201-217.
    Because an increasing number of patients have medical conditions that render them incompetent at making their own medical choices, more and more medical choices are now made by surrogates, often patient family members. However, many studies indicate that surrogates often do not discharge their responsibilities adequately, and in particular, do not choose in accordance with what those patients would have chosen for themselves, especially when it comes to end-of-life medical choices. This chapter argues that a significant part of the explanation (...)
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  15. How Procreation Generates Parental Rights and Obligations.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - In Michael Cholbi & Jaime Ahlberg (eds.), Procreation, Parenthood, and Educational Rights: Ethical and Philosophical Issues. Routledge.
    Philosophical defenses of parents’ rights typically appeal to the interests of parents, the interests of children, or some combination of these. Here I propose that at least in the case of biological, non-adoptive parents, these rights have a different normative basis: namely, these rights should be accorded to biological parents because of the compensatory duties such parents owe their children by virtue of having brought them into existence. Inspried by Seana Shiffrin, I argue that procreation inevitably encumbers the wills of (...)
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  16. No Last Resort: Pitting the Right to Die Against the Right to Medical Self-Determination.Michael Cholbi - 2015 - The Journal of Ethics 19 (2):143-157.
    Many participants in debates about the morality of assisted dying maintain that individuals may only turn to assisted dying as a ‘last resort’, i.e., that a patient ought to be eligible for assisted dying only after she has exhausted certain treatment or care options. Here I argue that this last resort condition is unjustified, that it is in fact wrong to require patients to exhaust a prescribed slate of treatment or care options before being eligible for assisted dying. The last (...)
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  17. A Plethora of Promises — or None at All.Michael Cholbi - 2014 - American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (3):261-272.
    Utilitarians are supposed to have difficulty accounting for our obligation to keep promises. But utilitarians also face difficulties concerning our obligation to make promises. Consider any situation in which the options available to me are acts A, B, C… n, and A is utility maximizing. Call A+ the course of action consisting of A plus my promising to perform A. Since there appear to be a wide range of instances in which A+ has greater net utility then A, utilitarianism obligates (...)
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  18. Cruelty, Competency, and Contemporary Abolitionism.Michael Cholbi - 2005 - In A. Sarat (ed.), Studies in Law, Politics, and Society. pp. 123-140.
    After establishing that the requirement that those criminals who stand for execution be mentally competent can be given a recognizably retributivist rationale, I suggest that not only it is difficult to show that executing the incompetent is more cruel than executing the competent, but that opposing the execution of the incompetent fits ill with the recent abolitionist efforts on procedural concerns. I then propose two avenues by which abolitionists could incorporate such opposition into their efforts.
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  19. A Direct Kantian Duty to Animals.Michael Cholbi - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (3):338-358.
    Kant's view that we have only indirect duties to animals fails to capture the intuitive notion that wronging animals transgresses duties we owe to those animals. Here I argue that a suitably modified Kantianism can allow for direct duties to animals and, in particular, an imperfect duty to promote animal welfare without unduly compromising its core theoretical commitments, especially its commitments concerning the source and nature of our duties toward rational beings. The basis for such duties is that animal welfare, (...)
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  20. Can Capital Punishment Survive If Black Lives Matter?Michael Cholbi & Alex Madva - forthcoming - In Michael Cholbi, Brandon Hogan, Alex Madva & Benjamin Yost (eds.), The Movement for Black Lives: Philosophical Perspectives. New York:
    Drawing upon empirical studies of racial discrimination dating back to the 1940’s, the Movement for Black Lives platform calls for the abolition of capital punishment. Our purpose here is to defend the Movement’s call for death penalty abolition in terms congruent with its claim that the death penalty in the U.S. is a “racist practice” that “devalues Black lives.” We first sketch the jurisprudential history of race and capital punishment in the U.S., wherein courts have occasionally expressed worries about racial (...)
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  21. Dignity and Assisted Dying: What Kant Got Right (and Wrong).Michael Cholbi - 2018 - In Human Dignity and Assisted Death. pp. 143-160.
    That Kant’s moral thought is invoked by both advocates and opponents of a right to assisted dying attests to both the allure and and the elusiveness of Kant’s moral thought. In particular, the theses that individuals have a right to a ‘death with dignity’ and that assisting someone to die contravenes her dignity appear to gesture at one of Kant’s signature moral notions, dignity. The purposes of this article are to outline Kant’s understanding of dignity and its implications for the (...)
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  22. Equal Respect for Rational Agency.Michael Cholbi - 2020 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, vol. 10. pp. 182-203.
    Individuals are owed equal respect. But on the basis of what property of individuals are they owed such respect? A popular Kantian answer —rational agency — appears less plausible in light of the growing psychological evidence that human choice is subject to a wide array of biases (framing, laziness, etc.); human beings are neither equal in rational agency nor especially robust rational agents. Defenders of this Kantian answer thus need a non-ideal theory of equal respect for rational agency, one that (...)
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  23.  66
    Grieving Our Way Back to Meaningfulness.Michael Cholbi - forthcoming - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement.
    The deaths of those on whom our practical identities rely generate a sense of disorientation or alienation from the world seemingly at odds with life being meaningful. In the terms put forth in Cheshire Calhoun’s recent account of meaningfulness in life, because their existence serves as a metaphysical presupposition of our practical identities, their deaths threaten to upend a background frame of agency against which much of our choice and deliberation takes place. Here I argue for a dual role for (...)
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  24. Medically Enabled Suicides.Michael Cholbi - 2015 - In M. Cholbi J. Varelius (ed.), New Directions in the Ethics of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Springer. pp. 169-184.
    What I call medically enabled suicides have four distinctive features: 1. They are instigated by actions of a suicidal individual, actions she intends to result in a physiological condition that, absent lifesaving medical interventions, would be otherwise fatal to that individual. 2. These suicides are ‘completed’ due to medical personnel acting in accordance with recognized legal or ethical protocols requiring the withholding or withdrawal of care from patients (e.g., following an approved advance directive). 3. The suicidal individual acts purposefully to (...)
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  25.  55
    Must I Benefit Myself?Michael Cholbi - 2020 - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. pp. 253-268.
    Morality seems to require us to attend to the good of others, but does not require that we assign any importance to our own good. Standard forms of consequentialism thus appear vulnerable to the compulsory self-benefit objection: they require agents to benefit themselves when doing so is entailed by the requirement of maximizing overall impersonal good. Attempts to address this objection by appealing to ideally motivated consequentialist agents; by rejecting maximization; by leveraging consequentialist responses to the more familiar special relationships (...)
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  26.  90
    Paternalism and Duties to Self.Michael Cholbi - 2018 - In Kalle Grill & Jason Hanna (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Paternalism. pp. 108-118.
    Here I pursue two main aims: (1) to articulate and defend a Kantian conception of duties to self, and (2) to explore the ramifications of such duties for the moral justification of paternalism. I conclude that there is a distinctive reason to resent paternalistic intercessions aimed at assisting others in fulfilling their duties to self (or the self-regarding virtues necessary thereunto), based on the fact that the goods realized via their fulfillment are historical, i.e., their value depends on an individual's (...)
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  27. Palliation and Medically Assisted Dying: A Case Study in the Use of Slippery Slope Arguments in Public Policy.Michael Cholbi - 2018 - In David Boonin (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Springer Verlag. pp. 691-702.
    Opponents of medically assisted dying have long appealed to ‘slippery slope’ arguments. One such slippery slope concerns palliative care: that the introduction of medically assisted dying will lead to a diminution in the quality or availability or palliative care for patients near the end of their lives. Empirical evidence from jurisdictions where assisted dying has been practiced for decades, such as Oregon and the Netherlands, indicate that such worries are largely unfounded. The failure of the palliation slope argument is nevertheless (...)
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  28. The Ethics of Choosing Careers and Jobs.Michael Cholbi - 2020 - In Bob Fischer (ed.), College Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 878-889.
    Choices of jobs and careers are among the ethically significant choices individuals make. This article argues against the 'maximalist' view that we are ethically required to choose those jobs and careers (among those that are not intrinsically wrong) that are best overall in terms of benfitting others or addressing injustice. Because such choices are often identity-based, the maximalist view is overly demanding, in the way that requiring individuals to marry on the basis of a maximalist demand is too demanding. Job (...)
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  29. The Rationality of Suicide and the Meaningfulness of Life.Michael Cholbi - forthcoming - In Iddo Landau (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Meaning in Life. Oxford University Press.
    A wide body of psychological research corroborates the claim that whether one’s life is (or will be) meaningful appears relevant to whether it is rational to continue living. This article advances conceptions of life’s meaningfulness and of suicidal choice with an eye to ascertaining how the former might provide justificatory reasons relevant to the latter. Drawing upon the recent theory of meaningfulness defended by Cheshire Calhoun, the decision to engage in suicide can be understood as a choice related to life’s (...)
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  30. Why Moral Expertise Needs Moral Theory.Michael Cholbi - 2018 - In Jamie Carlin Watson & Laura K. Guidry-Grimes (eds.), Moral Expertise: New Essays from Theoretical and Clinical Bioethics. Springer International Publishing. pp. 71-86.
    Discussions of the nature or possibility of moral expertise have largely proceeded in atheoretical terms, with little attention paid to whether moral expertise depends on theoretical knowledge of morality. Here I argue that moral expertise is more theory-dependent than is commonly recognized: Moral expertise consists, at least in part, in knowledge of the correct or best moral theory, and second, that knowledge of moral theory is essential to moral experts dispensing expert counsel to non-experts. Moral experts would not be moral (...)
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  31.  83
    What’s Wrong with Esoteric Morality.Michael Cholbi - 2020 - Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 15 (1-2):163-185.
    A moral theory T is esoteric if and only if T is true but there are some individuals who, by the lights of T itself, ought not to embrace T, where to embrace T is to believe T and rely upon it in practical deliberation. Some philosophers hold that esotericism is a strong, perhaps even decisive, reason to reject a moral theory. However, proponents of this objection have often supposed its force is obvious and have said little to articulate it. (...)
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