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Raff Donelson
Pennsylvania State University
  1. Blacks, Cops, and the State of Nature.Raff Donelson - 2017 - Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 15 (1):183-192.
    This essay offers a new way to conceptualize the “police violence against Blacks” phenomenon. I argue that we should see the situation as an instance of what Thomas Hobbes called the state of nature, that is, a state without effective law. This understanding of the phenomenon stands in sharp contrast to that offered by Professor Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow. Alexander sees the phenomenon as a continuation of centuries-old patterns of state-backed anti-Black racism. My account is (...)
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  2. Rorty’s Promise in Metaethics.Raff Donelson - 2017 - Contemporary Pragmatism 14 (3):292-306.
    Little attention is given to Richard Rorty’s metaethical views. No doubt this stems from the fact that most commentators are more interested in his metaphilosophical views; most see his metaethical views, offered in scattered passages, as just the downstream runoff from higher-level reflection. This article considers Rorty’s metaethics on their own merits, quite apart from whether his global picture works. I ultimately argue that Rorty’s metaethical outlook is attractive but beset by internal difficulties. Specifically, I contend that Rorty does not (...)
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  3.  24
    Describing Law.Raff Donelson - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 33 (1):85-106.
    Legal philosophers make a number of bold, contentious claims about the nature of law. For instance, some claim that law necessarily involves coercion, while others disagree. Some claim that all law enjoys presumptive moral validity, while others disagree. We can see these claims in at least three, mutually exclusive ways: (1) We can see them as descriptions of law’s nature (descriptivism), (2) we can see them as expressing non-descriptive attitudes of the legal philosophers in question (expressivism), or (3) we can (...)
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  4. Ethical Pragmatism.Raff Donelson - 2017 - Metaphilosophy 48 (4):383-403.
    Beginning with a thought experiment about a mysterious Delphic oracle, this article motivates, explains, and attempts to defend a view it calls Ethical Pragmatism. Ethical Pragmatism is the view that we can and should carry on our practice of moral deliberation without reference to moral truths, or more broadly, without reference to metaethics. The defense the article mounts tries to show that neither suspicions about the tenability of fact-value distinctions, nor doubts about the viability of global pragmatism, nor worries about (...)
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  5. Three Problems with Metaethical Minimalism.Raff Donelson - 2018 - Southwest Philosophy Review 34 (1):125-131.
    Metaethical minimalism. sometimes called quietism, is the view that first-order moral judgments can be true but nothing makes them true. This article raises three worries for that view. First, minimalists have no good reason to insist that moral judgments can be true. Second, minimalism, in abandoning the requirement that true judgments need to have truthmakers, leads to a problematic proliferation of truths. Third, most versions of minimalism entail a disjointed and therefore unacceptable theory of language and thought.
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  6.  32
    The Nihilist.Raff Donelson - 2019 - In Seth Vannatta (ed.), The Pragmatism and Prejudice of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. pp. 31-47.
    Scattered skeptical remarks and a general austerity that infused his writings have given Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes a reputation as some type of nihilist. Noted commentators such as Richard Posner and Albert Alschuler have claimed as much. This article seeks to correct this misunderstanding. Holmes was not a nihilist in the sense of being melancholy due to a belief that the world has no absolute moral values or gods. Instead, Holmes was a pragmatist in the spirit of William James and (...)
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  7.  91
    Review of Practicing Philosophy as Experiencing Life. [REVIEW]Raff Donelson - 2016 - Contemporary Pragmatism 13 (4):445-448.
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