• University of Helsinki
    Department of Philosophy (Theoretical Philosophy, Practical Philosophy, Philosophy in Swedish)
    Professor
University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy (Theoretical Philosophy, Practical Philosophy, Philosophy in Swedish)
PhD, 2008
Helsinki, Southern Finland, Finland
  •  2443
    Meaningfulness and Time
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2): 345-377. 2012.
    (Pdf updated to final, slightly revised version of November 2010) Almost everyone would prefer to lead a meaningful life. But what is meaning in life and what makes a life meaningful? I argue, first, for a new analysis of the concept of meaningfulness in terms of the appropriateness of feelings of fulfilment and admiration. Second, I argue that while the best current conceptions of meaningfulness, such as Susan Wolf’s view that in a meaningful life ‘subjective attraction meets objective attracti…Read more
  •  2030
    Intuition and Belief in Moral Motivation
    In Gunnar Björnsson (ed.), Moral Internalism, Oxford University Press. 2015.
    It seems to many that moral opinions must make a difference to what we’re motivated to do, at least in suitable conditions. For others, it seems that it is possible to have genuine moral opinions that make no motivational difference. Both sides – internalists and externalists about moral motivation – can tell persuasive stories of actual and hypothetical cases. My proposal for a kind of reconciliation is to distinguish between two kinds of psychological states with moral content. There are both …Read more
  •  2008
    Sentimentalism comes in many varieties: explanatory sentimentalism, judgment sentimentalism, metaphysical sentimentalism, and epistemic sentimentalism. This encyclopedia entry gives an overview of the positions and main arguments pro and con.
  •  1952
    Empathy, Emotion Regulation, and Moral Judgment
    In Heidi Maibom (ed.), Empathy and Morality, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    In this paper, my aim is to bring together contemporary psychological literature on emotion regulation and the classical sentimentalism of David Hume and Adam Smith to arrive at a plausible account of empathy's role in explaining patterns of moral judgment. Along the way, I criticize related arguments by Michael Slote, Jesse Prinz, and others
  •  1451
    Meaning and Happiness
    Philosophical Topics 41 (1): 161-185. 2013.
    What is the relationship between meaning in life and happiness? In psychological research, subjective meaning and happiness are often contrasted with each other. I argue that while the objective meaningfulness of a life is distinct from happiness, subjective or felt meaning is a key constituent of happiness, which is best understood as a multidimensional affective condition. Measures of felt meaning should consequently be included in empirical studies of the causes and correlates of happiness.
  •  1393
    What Makes a Sentiment Moral?
    In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics vol. 5, Oxford University Press. pp. 225-256. 2010.
    Update January 2010: The original title of the paper ('A Sentimentalist Solution to the Moral Attitude Problem') was too long for OUP, so I had to change it. This is the final draft.
  •  1324
    The rise and fall of experimental philosophy
    Philosophical Explorations 10 (2). 2007.
    In disputes about conceptual analysis, each side typically appeals to pre-theoretical 'intuitions' about particular cases. Recently, many naturalistically oriented philosophers have suggested that these appeals should be understood as empirical hypotheses about what people would say when presented with descriptions of situations, and have consequently conducted surveys on non-specialists. I argue that this philosophical research programme, a key branch of what is known as 'experimental philosoph…Read more
  •  1216
    Empathic feelings seem to causally influence our moral judgments at least sometimes. But is empathy necessary for our ability to make moral judgments? And is it a good thing if our judgments are based on empathy? This chapter examines the contemporary debate on these issues.
  •  1146
    Moral Intuition in Philosophy and Psychology
    In Neil Levy & Jens Clausen (eds.), Springer Handbook of Neuroethics, Springer. 2015.
    Psychologists and philosophers use the term 'intuition' for a variety of different phenomena. In this paper, I try to provide a kind of a roadmap of the debates, point to some confusions and problems, and give a brief sketch of an empirically respectable philosophical approach.
  •  1044
    A Humean theory of moral intuition
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3): 360-381. 2013.
    According to the quasi-perceptualist account of philosophical intuitions, they are intellectual appearances that are psychologically and epistemically analogous to perceptual appearances. Moral intuitions share the key characteristics of other intuitions, but can also have a distinctive phenomenology and motivational role. This paper develops the Humean claim that the shared and distinctive features of substantive moral intuitions are best explained by their being constituted by moral emotions. …Read more
  •  970
    Reason, recognition, and internal critique
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 45 (4). 2002.
    Normative political philosophy always refers to a standard against which a society's institutions are judged. In the first, analytical part of the article, the different possible forms of normative criticism are examined according to whether the standards it appeals to are external or internal to the society in question. In the tradition of Socrates and Hegel, it is argued that reconstructing the kind of norms that are implicit in practices enables a critique that does not force the critic's par…Read more
  •  927
    This paper is an overview of contemporary theories of meaning in life and its relation to well-being.
  •  809
    Fittingness and Idealization
    Ethics 124 (3): 572-588. 2014.
    This note explores how ideal subjectivism in metanormative theory can help solve two important problems for Fitting Attitude analyses of value. The wrong-kind-of-reason problem is that there may be sufficient reason for attitude Y even if the object is not Y-able. The many-kinds-of-fittingness problem is that the same attitude can be fitting in many ways. Ideal subjectivism addresses both by maintaining that an attitude is W-ly fitting if and only if endorsed by any W-ly ideal subject. A subject…Read more
  •  788
    What's So Great about Experience?
    Res Philosophica 92 (2): 371-388. 2015.
    Suppose that our life choices result in unpredictable experiences, as L.A. Paul has recently argued. What does this mean for the possibility of rational prudential choice? Not as much as Paul thinks. First, what’s valuable about experience is its broadly hedonic quality, and empirical studies suggest we tend to significantly overestimate the impact of our choices in this respect. Second, contrary to what Paul suggests, the value of finding out what an outcome is like for us does not suffice to r…Read more
  •  629
    In Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind, Joshua May argues successfully that many claims about the causal influence of affect on moral judgment are overblown. But the findings he cites are compatible with many of the key arguments of philosophical sentimentalists. His account of rationalism, in turn, relies on an overly broad notion of inference, and leaves open crucial questions about how we reason to moral conclusions.
  •  625
    Pride, Achievement, and Purpose
    In J. Adam Carter & Emma C. Gordon (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Pride, Rowman and Littlefield. 2017.
    Pride in our own actions tells a story: we faced a challenge, overcame it, and achieved something praiseworthy. In this paper, I draw on recent psychological literature to distinguish to between two varieties of pride, 'authentic' pride that focuses on particular efforts (like guilt) and 'hubristic' pride that focuses on the whole self (like shame). Achievement pride is fitting when either efforts or traits explain our success in meeting contextually relevant, authoritative, and challenging stan…Read more
  •  575
    Who's Afraid of Trolleys?
    In Jussi Suikkanen & Antti Kauppinen (eds.), Methodology and Moral Philosophy, . 2019.
    Recent empirical studies of philosophers by Eric Schwitzgebel and others have seriously called into question whether professional ethicists have any useful expertise with thought experiments, given that their intuitions appear to be no more reliable than those of lay subjects. Drawing on such results, sceptics like Edouard Machery argue that normative ethics as it is currently practiced is deeply problematic. In this paper, I present two main arguments in defense of the standard methodology of n…Read more
  •  511
    Practical Reasoning
    In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity, Oxford University Press. 2018.
    This chapter presents two contemporary pictures of practical reasoning. According to the Rule-Guidance Conception, roughly, practical reasoning is a rule-guided operation of acquiring (or retaining or giving up) intentions so as to meet synchronic requirements of rationality. According to the Reasons-Responsiveness Conception, practical reasoning is a process of responding to reasons we take ourselves to have, and its standards of correctness derive from what we objectively have reason to do, if…Read more
  •  495
    Epistemic Norms and Epistemic Accountability
    Philosophers' Imprint 18. 2018.
    Everyone agrees that not all norms that govern belief and assertion are epistemic. But not enough attention has been paid to distinguishing epistemic norms from others. Norms in general differ from merely evaluative standards in virtue of the fact that it is fitting to hold subjects accountable for violating them, provided they lack an excuse. Different kinds of norm are most readily distinguished by their distinctive mode of accountability. My thesis is roughly that a norm is epistemic if and o…Read more
  •  480
    Sentimentalism, Blameworthiness, and Wrongdoing
    In Karsten Stueber & Remy Debes (eds.), Ethical Sentimentalism, Cambridge University Press. 2017.
    For ambitious metaphysical neo-sentimentalists, all normative facts are grounded in fitting attitudes, where fittingness is understood in naturalistic terms. In this paper, I offer a neo-sentimentalist account of blameworthiness in terms of the reactive attitudes of a morally authoritative subject I label a Nagelian Imp. I also argue that moral impermissibility is indirectly linked to blameworthiness: roughly, an act is morally impermissible if and only if and because it is not *possible* in the…Read more
  •  446
    The Narrative Calculus
    Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 5. 2015.
    This paper examines systematically which features of a life story (or history) make it good for the subject herself - not aesthetically or morally good, but prudentially good. The tentative narrative calculus presented claims that the prudential narrative value of an event is a function of the extent to which it contributes to her concurrent and non-concurrent goals, the value of those goals, and the degree to which success in reaching the goals is deserved in virtue of exercising agency. The na…Read more
  •  438
    Ethics and Empirical Psychology
    In Markus Christen (ed.), Empirically Informed Ethics, Springer. pp. 279-305. 2013.
    In this paper, I examine six arguments concerning or making use of empirical psychological evidence in metaethics and normative ethics. Generally speaking, I find that the ambitious ones fail and the more modest ones ought to moderate their conclusions further.
  •  392
    Character and Blame in Hume and Beyond
    In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character, Oxford University Press. 2016.
    Are we really to blame only for actions that manifest our character, as Hume claims? In this paper, I explore Hume's reasoning and the nature of blame in general. I suggest that insofar as blame comes in a relational variety as well as the more familiar reactive one, there may be something to be said for linking blame with character flaws after all.
  •  389
    Rationality as the Rule of Reason
    Noûs. forthcoming.
    The demands of rationality are linked both to our subjective normative perspective (given that rationality is a person-level concept) and to objective reasons or favoring relations (given that rationality is non-contingently authoritative for us). In this paper, I propose a new way of reconciling the tension between these two aspects: roughly, what rationality requires of us is having the attitudes that correspond to our take on reasons in the light of our evidence, but only if it is competent. …Read more
  •  383
    Flourishing and Finitude
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (2): 1-6. 2014.
    It would be terrible for us if humanity ceased to exist after we all die. But of course, eventually humanity will go out of existence. Does this result in a vicious regress if our flourishing hangs on what happens after us? Mark Johnston thinks so. In this note, I explain how Johnston's objection can be avoided. Briefly, our activities have a meaning horizon that extends for some generations after us. What matters is that we make a positive difference to the lives of those generations, not that …Read more
  •  373
    Empathy as the Moral Sense?
    Philosophia 45 (3): 867-879. 2017.
    In his recent work, Michael Slote argues that empathy is what Hutcheson called 'the moral sense'. The most innovative argument he offers for this claim is that our empathic reactions play a crucial role in fixing the reference of moral terms. I argue that Slote's bold proposal faces all the main problems of analytical naturalism, as well as some of its own. I suggest that empathy may nevertheless play a more modest and indirect role in acquiring moral knowledge.
  •  360
    Working Hard and Kicking Back: The Case for Diachronic Perfectionism
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (1): 1-10. 2008.
    Dan Haybron has argued by counterexample that perfectionism fails as a theory of well-being. I respond by articulating two different versions of diachronic perfectionism, which takes into account the level of development and exercise of essential human capacities over the course of an entire lifetime.
  •  353
    Essays in Philosophical Moral Psychology
    Dissertation, University of Helsinki. 2008.
    This 183-page introductory part of my dissertation is an overview of some key debates in philosophical moral psychology and its methodology.