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Neil Sinhababu
National University of Singapore
  1. Scalar consequentialism the right way.Neil Sinhababu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3131-3144.
    The rightness and wrongness of actions fits on a continuous scale. This fits the way we evaluate actions chosen among a diverse range of options, even though English speakers don’t use the words “righter” and “wronger”. I outline and defend a version of scalar consequentialism, according to which rightness is a matter of degree, determined by how good the consequences are. Linguistic resources are available to let us truly describe actions simply as right. Some deontological theories face problems in accounting (...)
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  2. The Humean Theory of Motivation Reformulated and Defended.Neil Sinhababu - 2009 - Philosophical Review 118 (4):465-500.
    This essay defends a strong version of the Humean theory of motivation on which desire is necessary both for motivation and for reasoning that changes our desires. Those who hold that moral judgments are beliefs with intrinsic motivational force need to oppose this view, and many of them have proposed counterexamples to it. Using a novel account of desire, this essay handles the proposed counterexamples in a way that shows the superiority of the Humean theory. The essay addresses the classic (...)
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  3. The Desire‐Belief Account of Intention Explains Everything.Neil Sinhababu - 2012 - Noûs 47 (4):680-696.
    I argue that one intends that ϕ if one has a desire that ϕ and an appropriately related means-end belief. Opponents, including Setiya and Bratman, charge that this view can't explain three things. First, intentional action is accompanied by knowledge of what we are doing. Second, we can choose our reasons for action. Third, forming an intention settles a deliberative question about what to do, disposing us to cease deliberating about it. I show how the desire- belief view can explain (...)
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  4. Qualia share their correlates’ locations.Neil Sinhababu - 2023 - Synthese 202 (2):1-14.
    This paper argues that qualia share their physical correlates' locations. The first premise comes from the theory of relativity: If something shares a time with a physical event in all reference frames, it shares that physical event’s location. The second premise is that qualia share times with their correlates in all reference frames. Having qualia and correlates share locations makes relations between them easier to explain, improving both physicalist and dualist theories.
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  5. Advantages of Propositionalism.Neil Sinhababu - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (1):165-180.
    Propositionalism is the view that the contents of intentional attitudes have a propositional structure. Objectualism opposes propositionalism in allowing the contents of these attitudes to be ordinary objects or properties. Philosophers including Talbot Brewer, Paul Thagard, Michelle Montague, and Alex Grzankowski attack propositionalism about such attitudes as desire, liking, and fearing. This article defends propositionalism, mainly on grounds that it better supports psychological explanations.
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  6. Pleasure is goodness; morality is universal.Neil Sinhababu - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-17.
    This paper presents the Universality Argument that pleasure is goodness. The first premise defines goodness as what should please all. The second premise reduces 'should' to perceptual accuracy. The third premise invokes a universal standard of accuracy: qualitative identity. Since the pleasure of all is accurate solely about pleasure, pleasure is goodness, or universal moral value. The argument proceeds from a moral sense theory that analyzes moral concepts as concerned with what all should hope for, feel guilty about, and admire. (...)
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  7. Imagination and Belief.Neil Sinhababu - 2016 - In Amy Kind (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Imagination. New York: Routledge. pp. 111-123.
    This chapter considers the nature of imagination and belief, exploring how deeply these two states of mind differ. It first addresses a range of cognitive and motivational differences between imagination and belief which suggest that they're fundamentally different states of mind. Then it addresses imaginative immersion, delusions, and the different norms we apply to the two mental states, which some theorists regard as providing support for a more unified picture of imagination and belief.
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  8. Distinguishing Belief and Imagination.Neil Sinhababu - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (2):152-165.
    Some philosophers (including Urmson, Humberstone, Shah, and Velleman) hold that believing that p distinctively involves applying a norm according to which the truth of p is a criterion for the success or correctness of the attitude. On this view, imagining and assuming differ from believing in that no such norm is applied. I argue against this view with counterexamples showing that applying the norm of truth is neither necessary nor sufficient for distinguishing believing from imagining and assuming. Then I argue (...)
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  9. The reliable route from nonmoral evidence to moral conclusions.Neil Sinhababu - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    We can infer moral conclusions from nonmoral evidence using a three-step procedure. First, we distinguish the processes generating belief so that their reliability in generating true belief is statistically predictable. Second, we assess the processes’ reliability, perhaps by observing how frequently they generate true nonmoral belief or logically inconsistent beliefs. Third, we adjust our credence in moral propositions in light of the truth ratios of the processes generating beliefs in them. This inferential route involves empirically discovering truths of the form (...)
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  10. The Backward Clock, Truth-Tracking, and Safety.John N. Williams & Neil Sinhababu - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (1):46-55.
    We present Backward Clock, an original counterexample to Robert Nozick’s truth-tracking analysis of propositional knowledge, which works differently from other putative counterexamples and avoids objections to which they are vulnerable. We then argue that four ways of analysing knowledge in terms of safety, including Duncan Pritchard’s, cannot withstand Backward Clock either.
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  11. Possible girls.Neil Sinhababu - 2008 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (2):254–260.
    I argue that if David Lewis’ modal realism is true, modal realists from different possible worlds can fall in love with each other. I offer a method for uniquely picking out possible people who are in love with us and not with our counterparts. Impossible lovers and trans-world love letters are considered. Anticipating objections, I argue that we can stand in the right kinds of relations to merely possible people to be in love with them and that ending a trans-world (...)
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  12. Ethical Reductionism.Neil Sinhababu - 2018 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 13 (1):32-52.
    Ethical reductionism is the best version of naturalistic moral realism. Reductionists regard moral properties as identical to properties appearing in successful scientific theories. Nonreductionists, including many of the Cornell Realists, argue that moral properties instead supervene on scientific properties without identity. I respond to two arguments for nonreductionism. First, nonreductionists argue that the multiple realizability of moral properties defeats reductionism. Multiple realizability can be addressed in ethics by identifying moral properties uniquely or disjunctively with properties of the special sciences. Second, (...)
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  13. Divine Fine-Tuning vs. Electrons in Love.Neil Sinhababu - 2017 - American Philosophical Quarterly 54 (1):89-98.
    I present a novel objection to fine-tuning arguments for God's existence. On any values of the physical constants, the psychophysical laws could be set to permit intelligent and happy beings, so the specific values of the physical constants in our world provide little evidence for God's existence. For example, even if the physical constants didn't allow carbon or any atoms larger than hydrogen, the psychophysical laws could be set so that charge is sufficient to realize romantic desire. Then every hydrogen (...)
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  14. One‐Person Moral Twin Earth Cases.Neil Sinhababu - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):16-22.
    This paper presents two cases demonstrating that theories allowing the environment to partially determine the content of moral concepts provide incorrect truth-conditions for moral terms. While typical Moral Twin Earth cases seek to establish that these theories fail to account formoral disagreement, neither case here essentially involves interpersonal disagreement. Both involve a single person retaining moral beliefs despite recognizing actual or potential mismatches with the purportedly content-determining facts. This lets opponents of such theories grant objections that standard Moral Twin Earth (...)
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  15. Vengeful thinking and moral epistemology.Neil Sinhababu - 2007 - In Brian Leiter & Neil Sinhababu (eds.), Nietzsche and Morality. Oxford University Press. pp. 262.
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  16. Loving the Eternal Recurrence.Neil Sinhababu & Kuong Un Teng - 2019 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 50 (1):106-124.
    We explore how one might respond emotionally to the eternal recurrence. Zarathustra himself serves as our central case study. First we clarify the idea of eternal recurrence and its role in Nietzsche’s philosophy, explaining why the eternal recurrence has the emotional consequences Nietzsche describes when he first introduces the idea in The Gay Science. Then we describe Zarathustra’s emotional journey from horror at the eternal recurrence to loving it, in the sections from “On Great Events” to “The Seven Seals, or: (...)
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  17. The Humean Theory of Practical Irrationality.Neil Sinhababu - 2011 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 1 (6):1-13.
    Christine Korsgaard argues that Humean views of both action and rationality jointly imply the impossibility of irrational action, allowing us only to perform actions that we deem rational. Humeans can answer Korsgaard’s objection if their views of action and rationality measure agents’ actual desires differently. What determines what the agent does are the motivational forces that desires produce in the agent at the moment when she decides to act, as these cause action. What determines what it is rational to do (...)
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  18. Nietzschean Pragmatism.Neil Sinhababu - 2017 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 48 (1):56-70.
    Nietzsche holds that one should believe what best promotes life, and he also accepts the correspondence theory of truth. I’ll call this conjunction of views Nietzschean pragmatism. This article provides textual evidence for attributing this pragmatist position to Nietzsche and explains how his broader metaethical views led him to it.The following section introduces Nietzschean pragmatism, discussing how Nietzsche expresses it in BGE, and distinguishing it from William James’s pragmatism about truth. The second section explains how Nietzsche’s skepticism about values that (...)
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  19. Zarathustra’s metaethics.Neil Sinhababu - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):278-299.
    Nietzsche takes moral judgments to be false beliefs, and encourages us to pursue subjective nonmoral value arising from our passions. His view that strong and unified passions make one virtuous is mathematically derivable from this subjectivism and a conceptual analysis of virtue, explaining his evaluations of character and the nature of the Overman.
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  20. In Defense of Partisanship.Neil Sinhababu - 2016 - In David Killoren, Emily Crookston & Jonathan Trerise (eds.), Ethics in Politics: The Rights and Obligations of Individual Political Agents. Routledge. pp. 75-90.
    This essay explains why partisanship is justified in contemporary America and environments with similar voting systems and coalition structures. It explains how political parties operate, how helping a party succeed can be a goal of genuine ethical significance, and how trusting one party while mistrusting another can be a reliable route to true belief about important political issues.
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  21. The Epistemic Argument for Hedonism.Neil Sinhababu - 2024 - In Sanjit Chakraborty (ed.), Human Minds and Cultures. Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland. pp. 137-158.
    I defend ethical hedonism, the view that pleasure is the sole good thing, by arguing that it offers the only answer to an argument for moral skepticism. The skeptical problem arises from widespread fundamental moral disagreement, which entails the presence of enough moral error to undermine the reliability of most processes generating moral belief. We know that pleasure is good through the reliable process of phenomenal introspection, which reveals what our experiences are like. If knowing of pleasure’s goodness through phenomenal (...)
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  22. Unequal Vividness and Double Effect.Neil Sinhababu - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (3):291-315.
    I argue that the Doctrine of Double Effect is accepted because of unreliable processes of belief-formation, making it unacceptably likely to be mistaken. We accept the doctrine because we more vividly imagine intended consequences of our actions than merely foreseen ones, making our aversions to the intended harms more violent, and making us judge that producing the intended harms is morally worse. This explanation fits psychological evidence from Schnall and others, and recent neuroscientific research from Greene, Klein, Kahane, and Schaich (...)
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  23. Desire and Aesthetic Pleasure.Neil Sinhababu - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (1):95-99.
    ABSTRACTMohan Matthen's ‘The Pleasure of Art’ considers a rich variety of psychological phenomena surrounding our experience of pleasure in aesthetic appreciation. I explain many of these phenomena in terms of desire. Often my explanations support and complement Matthen's account; but sometimes I account for the same phenomena in terms of different causal structures than he invokes, seeking a more unified psychological theory.
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  24. Rational epistemic akrasia for the ambivalent pragmatist.Neil Sinhababu - 2021 - In Berit Brogaard & Dimitria Electra Gatzia (eds.), The Philosophy and Psychology of Ambivalence: Being of Two Minds. New York: Routledge.
    Epistemic akrasia can be rational. I consider a lonely pragmatist who believes that her imaginary friend doesn’t exist, and also believes on pragmatic grounds that she should believe in him. She rationally believes that her imaginary friend doesn’t exist, rationally follows various sources of evidence to the view that she should believe in him to end her loneliness, and rationally holds these attitudes simultaneously. Evidentialism suggests that her ambivalent epistemic state is rational, as considerations grounded in the value of truth (...)
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  25. Zarathustra’s Moral Psychology.Neil Sinhababu - 2022 - In Keith Ansell-Pearson & Paul S. Loeb (eds.), Nietzsche's ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra': A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press. pp. 148-167.
    In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche presents passion as constituting human agency. He encountered this Humean view in Schopenhauer, and recognized its explanatory advantages over Platonic and Kantian rationalism. Zarathustra's poetic speeches anticipate and address contemporary objections to the view that passion constitutes agency. "On the Despisers of the Body" explains why understanding the self as constituted by passion provides better explanations of reasoning, value judgment, and the unity of the self than Christine Korsgaard's neo-Kantian view. "On Enjoying and Suffering the (...)
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  26. Virtue, Desire, and Silencing Reasons.Neil Sinhababu - 2016 - In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 158-168.
    John McDowell claims that virtuous people recognize moral reasons using a perceptual capacity that doesn't include desire. I show that the phenomena he cites are better explained if desire makes us see considerations favoring its satisfaction as reasons. The salience of moral considerations to the virtuous, like the salience of food to the hungry, exemplifies the emotional and attentional effects of desire. I offer a desire-based account of how we can follow uncodifiable rules of common-sense morality and how some reasons (...)
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  27. Nietzsche’s Humean (all-too-Humean) Theory of Motivation.Neil Sinhababu - 2018 - In The Nietzchean Mind. Routledge. pp. 161-176.
    Nietzsche and Hume agree that desire drives all human action and practical reasoning. This shared view helps them appreciate continuities between human and animal motivation and sets them against a long tradition of rationalist rivals including Kant and Plato. In responding to Kant, Nietzsche further developed the Humean views that Kant himself was responding to. Kantians like Christine Korsgaard argue that reflective endorsement and rejection of options presented by desire demonstrates reason’s ability to independently drive reasoning and action. In Daybreak (...)
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  28. Recognition of intrinsic values of sentient beings explains the sense of moral duty towards global nature conservation.Tianxiang Lan, Neil Sinhababu & Luis Roman Carrasco - 2022 - PLoS ONE 10 (17):NA.
    Whether nature is valuable on its own (intrinsic values) or because of the benefits it provides to humans (instrumental values) has been a long-standing debate. The concept of relational values has been proposed as a solution to this supposed dichotomy, but the empirical validation of its intuitiveness remains limited. We experimentally assessed whether intrinsic/relational values of sentient beings/non-sentient beings/ecosystems better explain people’s sense of moral duty towards global nature conservation for the future. Participants from a representative sample of the population (...)
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  29. Nietzsche's Pragmatism: A Study on Perspectival Thought by Pietro Gori.Neil Sinhababu - 2022 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 53 (1):104-110.
    Pietro Gori dedicates Nietzsche’s Pragmatism “To the wanderers and Good Europeans,” and Anglophone wanderers into Sarah de Sanctis’s translation will indeed find good European Nietzsche scholarship. The table of contents is a helpful map of the book, with five chapters consisting of twenty-eight sections on a sequence of philosophical and interpretive topics. Perspectival thought, addressed in the subtitle, is the explicit topic of the third chapter. Pragmatism, mentioned in the title, is the explicit topic of the fifth and final chapter. (...)
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  30. Comments on Nietzsche’s Constructivism by Justin Remhof. [REVIEW]Neil Sinhababu - 2020 - Philosophia 49 (2):565-570.
    Justin Remhof defends a constructivist interpretation of Nietzsche’s view regarding the metaphysics of material objects. First, I describe an attractive feature of Remhof’s interpretation. Since Nietzsche seems to be a constructivist about whatever sort of value he accepts, a constructivist account of objects would fit into a nicely unified overall metaphysical theory. Second, I explore various options for developing the constructivist view of objects. Depending on how Nietzsche understood concepts, and whose concepts he saw as giving rise to objects, he (...)
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  31. Janaway, Christopher, and Robertson, Simon, eds. Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. 280. $75.00. [REVIEW]Neil Sinhababu - 2014 - Ethics 124 (3):617-622.
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