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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2011
Fischer's Way and Our Stories

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Displaying: 1-11 of 11 documents


1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Keith Lehrer Stories, Exemplars, and Freedom
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Fischer has argued elegantly that the free actions of a person, the actions of self-expression, play a special role in the story of the person. They are the vehicles of content for the construction of that story. I argue that the experiences of those actions by a person are both representations in the story of a life, vehicles of content, and an exhibit of the content represented, the life itself. Experiences become exemplars that refer back to themselves becoming part of what the story is about. Autonomous choice of my story shows me and others what I am like.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Meghan Griffith Based on a True Story: Narrative and the Value of Acting Freely
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In several essays, John Fischer motivates his guidance control view of moral responsibility by discussing the value of acting freely. What we value, he argues, is unhindered self-expression that derives its meaning from a narrative structure. In this paper, I claim that while Fischer may be correct that self-expression (understood in its narrative sense) is the value of acting freely, it is less clear that the kind of self-expression that we value sits comfortably with determinism. The meaning of one’s narrative may include the accuracy of one’s self-conception, an accuracy that may be substantially undermined by the truth of determinism.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Michael Nelson Default Compatibilism and Narrativity: Comments on John Martin Fischer’s Ways and Stories
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I discuss two claims defended in Fischer’s recent work. The first is the default status of compatibilism. This is part of a conception of our agency and moral responsibility as being independent of the truth or the falsity of the thesis of determinism. I try to further bolster Fischer’s arguments in favor of this position. The second is Fischer’s defense of the narrative conception of moral responsibility, according to which the value of self-expression supports and explicates the value of being morally responsible. I argue that the cases and insights taken to support the idea that our lives have a distinctive kind of narrative value are best accounted for in other terms.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Ben Bradley Narrativity, Freedom, and Redeeming the Past
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Many philosophers endorse the view that global or “narrative” features of a life at least partly determine its value.  For instance, a life in which the subject redeems her past failures and sacrifices with later successes is thought to be better, ceteris paribus, than one in which her later successes are unrelated to her previous failures.  In this paper I distinguish some views about narrative value, including Fischer’s views about the importance of free will for narrative value, and raise a number of problems for the idea of narrative value.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Peter A. Graham Fischer on Blameworthiness and “Ought” Implies “Can”
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I argue that Fischer’s attempts to undermine the “Ought” Implies “Can” principle (OIC) fail. I argue both against his construal of the natural motivation for OIC and against his argument for the falsity of OIC. I also consider some attempts to salvage Fischer’s arguments and argue that they can work only if the true moral theory is motive determinative--i.e., it is such that, necessarily, any action performed from a motive which renders one of the blame emotions appropriate is morally impermissible, no matter what other features it has. But, as motive-determinative moral theories are implausible, Fischer’s arguments are not salvageable.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Pamela Hieronymi Making a Difference
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I suggest that Fischer concedes too much to the consequence argument when he grants that we may not make a difference. I provide a broad sketch of (my take on) the dispute between compatibilists and incompatibilists, while suggesting that some of the discussion may have confused the freedom required for moral responsibility with a very different notion of autonomy. I introduce that less usual notion of autonomy and suggest that those who are autonomous, in this sense, do make a difference.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Neal A. Tognazzini Owning Up to Luck
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Although libertarians and compatibilists disagree about whether moral responsibility requires the falsity of determinism, they tend to agree that moral responsibility is at least compatible with the falsity of determinism. But there is a real worry about how that can be: after all, if my actions aren’t determined, then isn’t their occurrence just a matter of luck? In this paper, I offer a suggestion for how to understand and deal with this problem by appealing to the influential and powerful theory of moral responsibility developed by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Frederik Kaufman Late Birth, Early Death, and the Problem of Lucretian Symmetry
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Lucretius famously argued that if we think death is bad because it deprives us of time we could have had by living longer than we do, then when we are born must be bad too, since we could have been born earlier than we were, and so be deprived of that time as well. John Martin Fischer thinks Lucretius’s symmetry argument fails because we have a bias toward the future. I argue that Fischer’s approach does not answer Lucretius. In contrast to Fischer, I think that we can show an objective difference between the time before our birth and the time after our death, which means that we are justified in adopting different attitudes towards them. I revise a point made by Thomas Nagel that while we might live longer than we do, we cannot exist earlier than we did and remain the same people throughout.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Elizabeth Harman Fischer and Lamenting Nonexistence
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Why do we wish to die later but do not wish to have been created earlier? There is no puzzle here. It is false that if we had been created earlier we would have lived longer lives. Why don’t we wish to have been created earlier but with our actual times of death? That wish simply is not mandated by the more general wish to have lived a longer life. Furthermore, one might prefer one’s actual life to the better, but considerably different, life one would have lived at an earlier time.
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
John Martin Fischer Replies
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I am very grateful to the thoughtful and probing critical discussions by the nine authors who have discussed themes from my two collections, My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility, and Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will. In this essay I seek to respond to some of the points raised in these essays. I am unable to address all of the critiques, but I have certainly learned a great deal from these extremely insightful and generous papers, and I hope to address more of the issues in future work.
11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1
Thanks to Reviewers
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