Valerie Tiberius on Well-Being

Well-Being: Psychological Research for Philosophers

Well-being in the broadest sense is what we have when we are living lives that are not necessarily morally good, but good for us. In philosophy, well-being has been an important topic of inquiry for millennia. In psychology, well-being as a topic has been gathering steam very recently and this research is now at a stage that warrants the attention of philosophers. The most popular theories of well-being in the two fields are similar enough to suggest the possibility of interdisciplinary collaboration. In this essay I provide an overview of three of the main questions that arise from psychologists’ work on well-being, and highlight areas that invite philosophical input. Those questions center on the nature, measurement, and moral significance of well-being. I also argue that the life-satisfaction theory is particularly well suited to meet the various demands on a theory of well-being.

John Bishop on Philosophy of Religion

The Philosophy of Religion: A Programmatic Overview

It is argued that philosophy of religion should focus not only on the epistemic justifiability of holding religious beliefs but also on the moral justifiability of commitment to their truth in practical reasoning. If the truth of classical theism may turn out to be evidentially ambiguous, then pressure is placed on the moral evidentialist assumption that one is morally justified in taking a theistic truth-claim to be true only if one’s total evidence sufficiently supports its truth. After investigating some contemporary attempts to retain evidentialism in the face of ambiguity, a modest fideism is proposed which may serve both to ground an important ‘political turn’ in contemporary philosophy of religion and to prompt re-examination of dominant assumptions about the content of core theistic beliefs.

The Good Life

Also on my list of things to read is Matthew Jones’ The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue. It is about, broadly speaking, the intersection of philosophical, scientific and mathematical interests in the work of Descartes, Pascal and Leibniz. That makes it sound like it is about the impact of the new sciences on the metaphysical and epistemological views of those philosophers. And while there is some of that, the larger theme is the influence of moral considerations on their work. So this is a work that should be very interesting to philosophers.

One or two disclaimers. I of course haven’t read the book, what with my to be read pile now visible from the moon and all. But I have talked to Matt a fair bit about it, so I’m very much looking forward to reading it. There is a long discussion of Descartes’ geometry which I’m particularly interested in, and which promises to have a lot of philosophical payoffs. Matt is professionally a historian (he’s in the history department at Columbia), but I hope this work gets a lot of philosophical attention.


The latest issue of Mind has just been released, or at least it just turned up on my RSS feed. There looks to be lots of good stuff there, as if I don’t have enough to read already. Anyway, I just wanted to recommend Chris Potts’ nice review of Siobhan Chapman’s Paul Grice: Philosopher and Linguist. As well as a nice review of Chapman’s book (also, coincidentally, in my pile of things to read) it does a nice job of stating Grice’s relative importance to philosophy and linguistics.

Knowledge by Indifference

Jonathan Kvanvig has been kind enough to post mine and John Doris’ response to Jason Stanley’s book Knowledge and Practical Interests over at the epistemology blog Certain Doubts. The copy on CD is an MS Word file, and since not everyone can read Word documents, I’m also posting a copy here as a pdf [224kb]. I’ll leave the comments closed on this post so as not to detract from the conversation at Certain Doubts. Comments are very welcome over there!

Doxastic Voluntarism, Doxastic Freedom, and Cricket

Thanks to everyone for comments on the last post on voluntarism. There were lots of threads suggested there that I’ve been trying to follow up. Some of these led me to a recent (2002: 3) issue of the Monist that had lots of relevant papers. A lot of what follows is suggested (obliquely) by John Cottingham’s paper on Descartes. I’ve also been reading (or rereading) some great papers by by Richard Holton work on weakness of will and self-control. (See this famous paper on weakness of will, and this unpublished paper with Stephen Shute on provocation.) Continue reading “Doxastic Voluntarism, Doxastic Freedom, and Cricket”

Two Links

I’d drafted a long post on doxastic voluntarism and stuff, only to find this paper by Matthias Steup that makes some of the same points. I think I disagree with him over a few points, especially concerning the response to Feldman, but I agree with a lot of what he says. Much much more on this tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a comic strip about pig philosophy that’s pretty funny. If you click through the link you’ll find a whole bunch of funny comic strips, which is convenient if you’re looking for new ways to put off jobs that really need to be finished over the weekend. (Hat tip: Geoff Pullum.)

Gettier Cases in Literature

I’ve been idly interested in Gettier cases in unusual locations for a while, at least in part to convince myself that they’re actually important, rather than just marginal philosophical cases.  Recently, I realized that there may be some that play important roles in literature.  However, the only one that came to mind is something I only very hazily recollect.  When I was young, I read several mystery novels by Agatha Christie.  In one, I seem to remember that the murderer had killed the victim in a very clever way and concealed the evidence extremely well, but used one more extra twist to protect herself.  (I believe it was a female murderer.)  She placed a lot of misleading evidence, that pointed to her having killed the person, but in a way different from how the victim actually died.  By framing herself, she hoped that the police would at first end up in a Gettier situation, with a justified, true belief that she killed the victim, but that once they saw through the flimsy framing evidence, that would throw them off the trail, so that she could get off without getting caught.  (Of course, in the end it didn’t work out for her.)

If anyone recognizes this story, it would be useful to have some more specific details, so that it can be used as an example.  And if anyone knows of any other cases that appear in literature, that would also be nice.  This one is nice also for illustrating why knowledge is much better than being Gettierized – as Timothy Williamson points out several times in Knowledge and its Limits, someone with knowledge is much less likely to get led astray than someone who merely has true belief, or for whom misleading evidence is available.  But I also think it may put some pressure on his conception of misleading evidence being only evidence for a false proposition, rather than Gettierizing evidence for a true one.

The Philosophy of Flirting

For a bit of fun, I wrote a note on the philosophy of flirting a while ago, which will shortly be appearing in The Philosophers’ Magazine. I’ve now posted a probably-final version. The main thesis I want to defend is that one cannot flirt without (in quite a weak sense) intending to do so. I therefore want to distinguish mere flirtatious behaviour from flirting proper. The inadvertantly flirtatious can, I think, fairly defend against accusations of flirting by denying having the intention. (But note that this does not absolve the inadvertantly flirtatious from all potential blame: mere flirtatious behaviour could be just as blameworthy as flirting in the wrong context!)