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Michael Huemer
University of Colorado, Boulder
  1. Existence Is Evidence of Immortality.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    Time may be infinite in both directions. If it is, then, if persons could live at most once in all of time, the probability that you would be alive now would be zero. Since you are alive now, with certainty, either the past is finite, or persons can live more than once.
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    Gun Rights as Deontic Constraints.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    Abstract: In earlier work, I argued that individuals have a right to own firearms for personal defense, and that as a result, gun prohibition would be unjustified unless it at least produced benefits many times greater than its costs. Here, I defend that argument against objections posed by Nicholas Dixon and Jeff McMahan to the effect that the right of citizens to be free from gun violence counterbalances the right of self-defense, and that gun prohibition does not violate the right (...)
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  3. Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism.Michael Huemer - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):30–55.
    I defend the principle of Phenomenal Conservatism, on which appearances of all kinds generate at least some justification for belief. I argue that there is no reason for privileging introspection or intuition over perceptual experience as a source of justified belief; that those who deny Phenomenal Conservatism are in a self-defeating position, in that their view cannot be both true and justified; and that thedemand for a metajustification for Phenomenal Conservatism either is an easily met demand, or is an unfair (...)
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  4. Gun Rights and Noncompliance: Two Problems of Prohibition.Michael Huemer - manuscript
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  5. Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism, Part 4.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    A four-part series of dialogues between two philosophy students, M and V. The question: is it wrong to eat meat? M and V review the standard arguments plus a few new ones. Part 4 discusses what products one should renounce, the value of abstract theory, why people who accept the arguments often fail to change their behavior, and how vegans should react to non-vegans.
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  6. Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism, Part 3.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    A four-part series of dialogues between two philosophy students, M and V. The question: is it wrong to eat meat? M and V review the standard arguments plus a few new ones. Part 3 discusses the idea that creatures have different degrees of consciousness, the sense that certain animal welfare positions "sound crazy", and the role of empathy in moral judgment.
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  7. Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism, Part 2.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    A four-part series of dialogues between two philosophy students, M and V. The question: is it wrong to eat meat? M and V review the standard arguments plus a few new ones. Part 2 discusses miscellaneous defenses of meat-eating. These include the claim that the consumer is not responsible for wrongs committed by farm workers, that a single individual cannot have any effect on the meat industry, that farm animals are better off living on factory farms than never existing at (...)
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  8. Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism, Part 1.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    A four-part series of dialogues between two philosophy students, M and V. The question: is it wrong to eat meat? M and V review the standard arguments plus a few new ones. Part 1 discusses the suffering caused by factory farming, and how one's intelligence affects the badness of suffering.
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  9. There Is No Pure Empirical Reasoning.Michael Huemer - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (3):592-613.
    The justificatory force of empirical reasoning always depends upon the existence of some synthetic, a priori justification. The reasoner must begin with justified, substantive constraints on both the prior probability of the conclusion and certain conditional probabilities; otherwise, all possible degrees of belief in the conclusion are left open given the premises. Such constraints cannot in general be empirically justified, on pain of infinite regress. Nor does subjective Bayesianism offer a way out for the empiricist. Despite often-cited convergence theorems, subjective (...)
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  10. The Right to Move Versus the Right to Exclude: A Principled Defense of Open Borders.Michael Huemer - manuscript
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  11. A Liberal Realist Answer to Debunking Skeptics: The Empirical Case for Realism.Michael Huemer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1983-2010.
    Debunking skeptics claim that our moral beliefs are formed by processes unsuited to identifying objective facts, such as emotions inculcated by our genes and culture; therefore, they say, even if there are objective moral facts, we probably don’t know them. I argue that the debunking skeptics cannot explain the pervasive trend toward liberalization of values over human history, and that the best explanation is the realist’s: humanity is becoming increasingly liberal because liberalism is the objectively correct moral stance.
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  12. Is Wealth Redistribution a Rights Violation?Michael Huemer - manuscript
    I argue that taxation for redistributive purposes is a property rights violation, responding to arguments (due to Nagel, Murphy, Sunstein, and Holmes) claiming that individuals lack ownership of their pretax incomes.
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  13. The Duty to Disregard the Law.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    In the practice of jury nullification, a jury votes to acquit a defendant in disregard of the factual evidence, on the grounds that a conviction would result in injustice, either because the law itself is unjust or because its application in the particular case would be unjust. The practice is widely condemned by courts, which strenuously attempt to prevent it. Nevertheless, the arguments against jury nullification are surprisingly weak. I argue that, pursuant to the general ethical duty to avoid causing (...)
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  14. Devil’s Advocates: On the Ethics of Unjust Legal Advocacy.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    I argue that it is morally wrong for a lawyer to pursue a legal outcome that he knows to be unjust, such as the acquittal of a guilty client or the triumph of the wrong side in a lawsuit.
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  15. Phenomenal Conservatism and the Internalist Intuition.Michael Huemer - 2006 - American Philosophical Quarterly 43 (2):147-158.
    Externalist theories of justification create the possibility of cases in which everything appears to one relevantly similar with respect to two propositions, yet one proposition is justified while the other is not. Internalists find this difficult to accept, because it seems irrational in such a case to affirm one proposition and not the other. The underlying internalist intuition supports a specific internalist theory, Phenomenal Conservatism, on which epistemic justification is conferred by appearances.
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  16. When is Parsimony a Virtue?Michael Huemer - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (235):216-236.
    Parsimony is a virtue of empirical theories. Is it also a virtue of philosophical theories? I review four contemporary accounts of the virtue of parsimony in empirical theorizing, and consider how each might apply to two prominent appeals to parsimony in the philosophical literature, those made on behalf of physicalism and on behalf of nominalism. None of the accounts of the virtue of parsimony extends naturally to either of these philosophical cases. This suggests that in typical philosophical contexts, ontological simplicity (...)
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  17. An Ontological Proof of Moral Realism.Michael Huemer - 2013 - Social Philosophy and Policy 30 (1-2):259-279.
    The essay argues that while there is no general agreement on whether moral realism is true, there is general agreement on at least some of the moral obligations that we have if moral realism is true. Given that moral realism might be true, and given that we know some of the things we ought to do if it is true, we have a reason to do those things. Furthermore, this reason is itself an objective moral reason. Thus, if moral realism (...)
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  18. Revisionary Intuitionism.Michael Huemer - 2008 - Social Philosophy and Policy 25 (1):368-392.
    I argue that, given evidence of the factors that tend to distort our intuitions, ethical intuitionists should disown a wide range of common moral intuitions, and that they should typically give preference to abstract, formal intuitions over more substantive ethical intuitions. In place of the common sense morality with which intuitionism has traditionally allied, the suggested approach may lead to a highly revisionary normative ethics.
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  19. In Defence of Repugnance.Michael Huemer - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):899-933.
    I defend the 'Repugnant' Conclusion that for any possible population of happy people, a population containing a sufficient number of people with lives barely worth living would be better. Four lines of argument converge on this conclusion, and the conclusion has a simple, natural theoretical explanation. The opposition to the Repugnant Conclusion rests on a bare appeal to intuition. This intuition is open to charges of being influenced by multiple distorting factors. Several theories of population ethics have been devised to (...)
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  20. In Praise of the Lawless Jury.Michael Huemer - manuscript
    Jury nullification is justified by the principle that individuals are prima facie ethically obligated to avoid causing unjust harms. Safeguarding justice against unjust laws and punishments of the government is the central function of the jury.
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  21. Causation as Simultaneous and Continuous.Michael Huemer & Ben Kovitz - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (213):556–565.
    We propose that all actual causes are simultaneous with their direct effects, as illustrated by both everyday examples and the laws of physics. We contrast this view with the sequential conception of causation, according to which causes must occur prior to their effects. The key difference between the two views of causation lies in differing assumptions about the mathematical structure of time.
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  22. Serious Theories and Skeptical Theories: Why You Are Probably Not a Brain in a Vat.Michael Huemer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (4):1031-1052.
    Skeptical hypotheses such as the brain-in-a-vat hypothesis provide extremely poor explanations for our sensory experiences. Because these scenarios accommodate virtually any possible set of evidence, the probability of any given set of evidence on the skeptical scenario is near zero; hence, on Bayesian grounds, the scenario is not well supported by the evidence. By contrast, serious theories make reasonably specific predictions about the evidence and are then well supported when these predictions are satisfied.
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  23. Mental Files and Belief: A Cognitive Theory of How Children Represent Belief and its Intensionality.Josef Perner, Michael Huemer & Brian Leahy - 2015 - Cognition 145:77-88.
    We provide a cognitive analysis of how children represent belief using mental files. We explain why children who pass the false belief test are not aware of the intensionality of belief. Fifty-one 3½- to 7-year old children were familiarized with a dual object, e.g., a ball that rattles and is described as a rattle. They observed how a puppet agent witnessed the ball being put into box 1. In the agent’s absence the ball was taken from box 1, the child (...)
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  24.  14
    Amerikas ungerechter Krieg gegen die Drogen.Michael Huemer - 2015 - In Thomas Leske (ed.), Wider die Anmaßung der Politik. Gäufelden, Germany: Thomas Leske. pp. 85–102.
    Soll der Freizeitkonsum von Drogen wie Marihuana, Kokain, Heroin und LSD einem gesetzlichen Verbot unterliegen? Drogengegner sagen ja. Sie behaupten für gewöhnlich, Drogenkonsum sei sowohl für den Nutzer als auch für die Gesellschaft allgemein äußerst schädlich – vielleicht sogar unmoralisch, und sie glauben, diese Tatsachen seien als Verbotsgrund ausreichend. Freigabebefürworter sagen nein und berufen sich dabei für gewöhnlich auf eines oder mehrere von drei Argumenten: Erstens behaupten einige, Drogenkonsum sei nicht so schädlich, wie Drogengegner meinen, und sei gelegentlich sogar nützlich. (...)
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  25. A Paradox for Weak Deontology.Michael Huemer - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (4):464-477.
    Deontological ethicists generally agree that there is a way of harming others such that it is wrong to harm others in that way for the sake of producing a comparable but greater benefit for others. Given plausible assumptions about this type of harm, this principle yields the paradoxical result that it may be wrong to do A, wrong to do B, but permissible to do (A and B).
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  26.  11
    Lob der Untätigkeit.Michael Huemer - 2015 - In Thomas Leske (ed.), Wider die Anmaßung der Politik. Gäufelden, Germany: Thomas Leske. pp. 11–44.
    Den Beteiligten des Politikbetriebs einschließlich Wählern, Aktivisten und Spitzenpolitikern fehlt häufig der grundlegende Sachverstand für die jeweiligen politischen Entscheidungen. Selbst Experten verstehen gesellschaftliche Mechanismen kaum und können deren Auswirkung kaum vorhersagen. Nur auf einfachste und unstrittige politische Behauptungen ist Verlass. Teilweise rührt das daher, dass politisches Wissen schwer zu erlangen ist, und teilweise daher, dass der Einzelne keinen ausreichenden Ansporn hat, es zu erlangen. Demzufolge besteht der beste Ratschlag an die politischen Akteure sehr häufig schlicht darin, gesellschaftliche Probleme nicht anzugehen, (...)
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