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Profile: Pekka Väyrynen (University of Leeds)
  1. A Wrong Turn to Reasons?Pekka Väyrynen - 2011 - In Michael Brady (ed.), New Waves in Metaethics. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This paper argues that the recent metaethical turn to reasons as the fundamental units of normativity offers no special advantage in explaining a variety of other normative and evaluative phenomena, unless perhaps a form of reductionism about reasons is adopted which is rejected by many of those who advocate turning to reasons.
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  2. Moral Generalism: Enjoy in Moderation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2006 - Ethics 116 (4):707-741.
    I defend moral generalism against particularism. Particularism, as I understand it, is the negation of the generalist view that particular moral facts depend on the existence of a comprehensive set of true moral principles. Particularists typically present "the holism of reasons" as powerful support for their view. While many generalists accept that holism supports particularism but dispute holism, I argue that generalism accommodates holism. The centerpiece of my strategy is a novel model of moral principles as a kind of "hedged" (...)
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  3. Grounding and Normative Explanation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):155-178.
    This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of__’. The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non- normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non- normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion in (...)
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  4. The Supervenience Challenge to Non-Naturalism.Pekka Väyrynen - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 170-84.
    This paper is a survey of the supervenience challenge to non-naturalist moral realism. I formulate a version of the challenge, consider the most promising non-naturalist replies to it, and suggest that no fully effective reply has yet been given.
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  5. Some Good and Bad News for Ethical Intuitionism.Pekka Väyrynen - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):489–511.
    The core doctrine of ethical intuitionism is that some of our ethical knowledge is non-inferential. Against this, Sturgeon has recently objected that if ethical intuitionists accept a certain plausible rationale for the autonomy of ethics, then their foundationalism commits them to an implausible epistemology outside ethics. I show that irrespective of whether ethical intuitionists take non-inferential ethical knowledge to be a priori or a posteriori, their commitment to the autonomy of ethics and foundationalism does not entail any implausible non-inferential knowledge (...)
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  6. Doubts About Moral Perception.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - In Anna Bergqvist & Robert Cowan (eds.), Evaluative Perception. Oxford University Press.
    This paper defends doubts about the existence of genuine moral perception, understood as the claim that at least some moral properties figure in the contents of perceptual experience. Standard examples of moral perception are better explained as transitions in thought whose degree of psychological immediacy varies with how readily non-moral perceptual inputs, jointly with the subject's background moral beliefs, training, and habituation, trigger the kinds of phenomenological responses that moral agents are normally disposed to have when they represent things as (...)
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    A Simple Escape From Moral Twin Earth.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy.
    This paper offers a simple response to the Moral Twin Earth (MTE) objection to Naturalist Moral Realism (NMR). NMR typically relies on an externalist metasemantics such as a causal theory of reference. The MTE objection is that such a theory predicts that terms like ‘good’ and ‘right’ have a different reference in certain twin communities where it’s intuitively clear that the twins are talking about the same thing when using ‘good’. I argue that Boyd’s causal regulation theory, the original target (...)
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  8. Ethical Theories and Moral Guidance.Pekka Väyrynen - 2006 - Utilitas 18 (3):291-309.
    Let the Guidance Constraint be the following norm for evaluating ethical theories: Other things being at least roughly equal, ethical theories are better to the extent that they provide adequate moral guidance. I offer an account of why ethical theories are subject to the Guidance Constraint, if indeed they are. We can explain central facts about adequate moral guidance, and their relevance to ethical theory, by appealing to certain forms of autonomy and fairness. This explanation is better than explanations that (...)
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  9. Essential Contestability and Evaluation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy (3):1-18.
    Evaluative and normative terms and concepts are often said to be "essentially contestable". This notion has been used in political and legal theory and applied ethics to analyse disputes concerning the proper usage of terms like democracy, freedom, genocide, rape, coercion, and the rule of law. Many philosophers have also thought that essential contestability tells us something important about the evaluative in particular. Gallie (who coined the term), for instance, argues that the central structural features of essentially contestable concepts secure (...)
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  10. Particularism and Default Reasons.Pekka Väyrynen - 2004 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (1):53-79.
    This paper addresses a recent suggestion that moral particularists can extend their view to countenance default reasons (at a first stab, reasons that are pro tanto unless undermined) by relying on certain background expectations of normality. I first argue that normality must be understood non-extensionally. Thus if default reasons rest on normality claims, those claims won't bestow upon default reasons any definite degree of extensional generality. Their generality depends rather on the contingent distributional aspects of the world, which no theory (...)
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  11. Usable Moral Principles.Pekka Väyrynen - 2008 - In Vojko Strahovnik, Matjaz Potrc & Mark Norris Lance (eds.), Challenging Moral Particularism. Routledge.
    One prominent strand in contemporary moral particularism concerns the claim of "principle abstinence" that we ought not to rely on moral principles in moral judgment because they fail to provide adequate moral guidance. I argue that moral generalists can vindicate this traditional and important action-guiding role for moral principles. My strategy is to argue, first, that, for any conscientious and morally committed agent, the agent's acceptance of (true) moral principles shapes their responsiveness to (right) moral reasons and, second, that if (...)
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  12. Resisting the Buck-Passing Account of Value.Pekka Väyrynen - 2006 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 295-324.
    I first distinguish between different forms of the buck-passing account of value and clarify my target in other respects on buck-passers' behalf. I then raise a number of problems for the different forms of the buck-passing view that I have distinguished.
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  13. Normative Appeals to the Natural.Pekka Väyrynen - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):279 - 314.
    Surprisingly, many ethical realists and anti-realists, naturalists and not, all accept some version of the following normative appeal to the natural (NAN): evaluative and normative facts hold solely in virtue of natural facts, where their naturalness is part of what fits them for the job. This paper argues not that NAN is false but that NAN has no adequate non-parochial justification (a justification that relies only on premises which can be accepted by more or less everyone who accepts NAN) to (...)
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  14. Objectionable Thick Concepts in Denials.Pekka Väyrynen - 2009 - Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):439-469.
    So-called "thick" moral concepts are distinctive in that they somehow "hold together" evaluation and description. But how? This paper argues against the standard view that the evaluations which thick concepts may be used to convey belong to sense or semantic content. That view cannot explain linguistic data concerning how thick concepts behave in a distinctive type of disagreements and denials which arise when one speaker regards another's thick concept as "objectionable" in a certain sense. The paper also briefly considers contextualist, (...)
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  15. A Theory of Hedged Moral Principles.Pekka Väyrynen - 2009 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 4. Oxford University Press. pp. 91-132.
    This paper offers a general model of substantive moral principles as a kind of hedged moral principles that can (but don't have to) tolerate exceptions. I argue that the kind of principles I defend provide an account of what would make an exception to them permissible. I also argue that these principles are nonetheless robustly explanatory with respect to a variety of moral facts; that they make sense of error, uncertainty, and disagreement concerning moral principles and their implications; and that (...)
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  16. Thick Concepts and Variability.Pekka Väyrynen - 2011 - Philosophers' Imprint 11:1-17.
    Some philosophers hold that so-called "thick" terms and concepts in ethics (such as 'cruel,' 'selfish,' 'courageous,' and 'generous') are contextually variable with respect to the valence (positive or negative) of the evaluations that they may be used to convey. Some of these philosophers use this variability claim to argue that thick terms and concepts are not inherently evaluative in meaning; rather their use conveys evaluations as a broadly pragmatic matter. I argue that one sort of putative examples of contextual variability (...)
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  17. Moral Particularism.Pekka Väyrynen - 2011 - In Christian B. Miller (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. pp. 478-483.
    This paper is a survey of the generalism-particularism debate in ethics.
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  18. Reasons and Moral Principles.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity.
    This paper is a survey of the generalism-particularism debate and related issues concerning the relationship between normative reasons and moral principles.
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  19. Thick Concepts and Underdetermination.Pekka Väyrynen - 2013 - In Simon Kirchin (ed.), Thick Concepts. Oxford University Press.
    Thick terms and concepts in ethics somehow combine evaluation and non-evaluative description. The non-evaluative aspects of thick terms and concepts underdetermine their extensions. Many writers argue that this underdetermination point is best explained by supposing that thick terms and concepts are semantically evaluative in some way such that evaluation plays a role in determining their extensions. This paper argues that the extensions of thick terms and concepts are underdetermined by their meanings in toto, irrespective of whether their extensions are partly (...)
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  20. Thick Concepts: Where's Evaluation?Pekka Väyrynen - 2012 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 7. Oxford University Press. pp. 235-70.
    This paper presents an alternative to the standard view that the evaluations that the so-called "thick" terms and concepts in ethics may be used to convey belong to their sense or semantic meaning. I describe a large variety of linguistic data that are well explained by the alternative view that the evaluations that (at least a very wide range of) thick terms and concepts may be used to convey are a certain kind of defeasible implications of their utterances which can (...)
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  21. Slim Epistemology with a Thick Skin.Pekka Väyrynen - 2008 - Philosophical Papers 37 (3):389-412.
    The distinction between “thick” and “thin” value concepts, and its importance to ethical theory, has been an active topic in recent meta-ethics. This paper defends three claims regarding the parallel issue about thick and thin epistemic concepts. (1) Analogy with ethics offers no straightforward way to establish a good, clear distinction between thick and thin epistemic concepts. (2) Assuming there is such a distinction, there are no semantic grounds for assigning thick epistemic concepts priority over the thin. (3) Nor does (...)
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  22. Shapelessness in Context.Pekka Väyrynen - 2014 - Noûs 48 (3):573-593.
    Many philosophers believe that the extensions of evaluative terms and concepts aren’t unified under non-evaluative similarity relations and that this “shapelessness thesis” (ST) has significant metaethical implications regarding non-cognitivism, ethical naturalism, moral particularism, thick concepts and more. ST is typically offered as an explanation of why evaluative classifications appear to “outrun” classifications specifiable in independently intelligible non-evaluative terms. This paper argues that both ST and the outrunning point used to motivate it can be explained on the basis of more general (...)
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    Review of Ethical Intuitionism: Re-Evaluations. [REVIEW]Pekka Väyrynen - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14:159-63.
    This piece is a short review of a volume of papers on ethical intuitionism (Ethical Intuitionism: Re-evaluations, ed. Philip Stratton-Lake, Oxford University Press, 2002).
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