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1. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 9
David Mark Kovacs Self-Making and Subpeople
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On many currently popular ontologies of material objects, we share our place with numerous shorter-lived things ("subpeople," to borrow a term from Eric Olson) that came into existence after we did or will go out of existence before we will. Subpeople are intrinsically indistinguishable from possible people, and as several authors (Eric Olson, Mark Johnston, A. P. Taylor) pointed out, this raises grave ethical concerns: it threatens to make any sacrifice for long-term goals impermissible, as well as to undermine our standard practices of punishment, reward, grief, and utility calculation. The aim in this paper is to offer a unified set of solutions to these problems. The paper’s starting point is the "self-making view," according to which our de se beliefs help determine our own spatiotemporal boundaries. This paper argues that the self-making view also plays a key role in the best treatment of the moral problems of subpeople.
2. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 9
Justin Sytsma Crossed Wires: Blaming Artifacts for Bad Outcomes
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Philosophers and psychologists often assume that responsibility and blame only apply to certain agents. But do our ordinary concepts of responsibility and blame reflect these assumptions? I investigate one recent debate where these assumptions have been applied—the back-and-forth over how to explain the impact of norms on ordinary causal attributions. I investigate one prominent case where it has been found that norms matter for causal attributions, but where it is claimed that responsibility and blame do not apply because the case involves artifacts. Across six studies (total N=1,492) more carefully investigating Hitchcock and Knobe’s (2009) Machine Case, I find that the same norm effect found for causal attributions is found for responsibility and blame attributions, with participants tending to ascribe both to a norm-violating artifact. Further, the evidence suggests that participants do so because they are using these terms in a broadly normative, but not distinctively moral, way.