Ideas of John Kekes, by Theme

[American, fl. 1993, Professor at New York State University.]

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10. Modality / B. Possibility / 7. Chance
'Luck' is the unpredictable and inexplicable intersection of causal chains
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 2. Intuition
Intuitions don't prove things; they just receptivity to interpretations
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 1. Intention to Act / a. Nature of intentions
An action may be intended under one description, but not under another
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 2. Acting on Beliefs / a. Acting on beliefs
To control our actions better, make them result from our attitudes, not from circumstances
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 4. Responsibility for Actions
Liberals say we are only responsible for fully autonomous actions
Collective responsibility conflicts with responsibility's requirement of authonomy
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / a. Nature of value
There are far more values than we can pursue, so they are optional possibilities
We are bound to regret some values we never aspired to
Innumerable values arise for us, from our humanity, our culture, and our individuality
Cultural values are interpretations of humanity, conduct, institutions, and evaluations
The big value problems are evil (humanity), disenchantment (cultures), and boredom (individuals)
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Ultimate value
Our attitudes include what possibilities we value, and also what is allowable, and unthinkable
Unconditional commitments are our most basic convictions, saying what must never be done
Doing the unthinkable damages ourselves, so it is more basic than any value
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / f. Love
Love should be partial, and discriminate in favour of its object
Sentimental love distorts its object
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
What matters for morality is the effects of action, not the psychological causes
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
Well-being needs correct attitudes and well-ordered commitments to local values
Control is the key to well-being
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / c. Purpose of ethics
Values are an attempt to achieve well-being by bringing contingencies under control
Values help us to control life, by connecting it to what is stable and manageable
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
Morality should aim to prevent all evil actions, not just autonomous ones
Why should moral responsibility depend on autonomy, rather than social role or experience?
Ought implies can means moral responsibility needs autonomy
Much human evil is not autonomous, so moral responsibility need not be autonomous
Evil people may not be autonomously aware, if they misjudge the situation
Moral and causal responsibility are not clearly distinct
Effects show the existence of moral responsibility, and mental states show the degree
Responsibility is unprovoked foreseeable harm, against society, arising from vicious character
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
Reason and morality do not coincide; immorality can be reasonable, with an ideology
Practical reason is not universal and impersonal, because it depends on what success is
If morality has to be rational, then moral conflicts need us to be irrational and immoral
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
Evil is not deviation from the good, any more than good is a deviation from evil
Liberals assume people are naturally free, equal, rational, and morally good
Evil isn't explained by nature, by monsters, by uncharacteristic actions, or by society
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
Relativists say all values are relative; pluralists concede much of that, but not 'human' values
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
It is said that if an agent is not autonomous then their evil actions don't reflect on their character
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
Awareness of others' suffering doesn't create an obligation to help
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 4. Boredom
Boredom is apathy and restlessness, yearning for something interesting
Boredom destroys our ability to evaluate
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 1. A People / c. A unified people
Society is alienating if it lacks our values, and its values repel us
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 4. Original Position / b. Veil of ignorance
The veil of ignorance is only needed because people have bad motivations
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 1. Purpose of a State
The chief function of the state is to arbitrate between contending visions of the good life
Ideologies have beliefs about reality, ideals, a gap with actuality, and a program
The ideal of an ideology is embodied in a text, a role model, a law of history, a dream of the past...
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 4. Citizenship
Citizenship is easier than parenthood
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 1. Social Power
Power is meant to be confined to representatives, and subsequent delegation
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 3. Conservatism
Prosperity is a higher social virtue than justice
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / a. Liberalism basics
Liberal basics are pluralism, freedom, rights, equality, and distributive justice - for autonomy
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / b. Liberal individualism
The key liberal values are explained by the one core value, which is autonomy
Agents have little control over the capacities needed for liberal autonomy
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / c. Liberal equality
Liberals are egalitarians, but in varying degrees
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / d. Liberal freedom
Are egalitarians too coercive, or not egalitarian enough, or lax over morality?
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / g. Liberalism critique
Liberal distribution cares more about recipients than donors
Liberal justice ignores desert, which is the essence of justice
Why do liberals not see a much wider range of values as basic?
Liberals ignore contingency, and think people are good and equal, and institutions cause evil
25. Social Practice / B. Equalities / 1. Grounds of equality
To rectify the undeserved equality, we should give men longer and women shorter lives
It is just a fact that some people are morally better than others
25. Social Practice / B. Equalities / 4. Economic equality
It is not deplorable that billionaires have more than millionaires
The problem is basic insufficiency of resources, not their inequality
Equal distribution is no good in a shortage, because there might be no one satisfied
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 1. Basis of justice
Justice combines consistency and desert; treat likes alike, judging likeness by desert
25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 3. Welfare provision
Liberal welfare focuses on need rather than desert
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 5. Sexual Morality
Sexual morality doesn't require monogamy, but it needs a group of sensible regulations