•  10
    James Campbell's Experiencing William James
    Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 55 (1): 51. 2019.
    Jim Campbell's new book Experiencing William James: Belief in a Pluralistic World is one of the best philosophical examinations of all areas of William James' work through a close sympathetic attention to the James texts themselves. Campbell writes well and demonstrates a deep familiarity with James' corpus. Moreover, Campbell has a good command of the writings of James' interlocutors and venerable commentators. I recommend keeping a bookmark on the endnotes. They constitute an entire bonus text…Read more
  • Interpretive Experimentalism: A Pragmatic Theory of Moral Norms and Judgment
    Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 1996.
    Recently, some philosophers working in applied moral philosophy have concluded that the received rule-based normative theories are inadequate guides for deliberation about concrete moral problems for at least two reasons. First, such problems seem to involve heterogeneous considerations whose normative import can only be assessed in light of attention to the particular circumstances that occasion moral doubt and conflict. Second, moral norms seem to be subject to re-interpretation and modificati…Read more
  •  14
    Who Are Moral Philosophers? Ethics William James Style
    The Pluralist 13 (1): 81. 2018.
    many of william james's ethical writings celebrate appreciation and respect for diverse ways of life. For example, in the essay "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings", James argues that it is a worthy endeavor to strive to overcome blindness to alien values in order to appreciate their rich diversity. In the essay "The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life", he defends an inclusivity principle enjoining us to create a world that allows for the greatest diversity of ideals and demand satisfactio…Read more
  •  5
    Recovering Integrity: Moral Thought in American Pragmatism by Stuart Rosenbaum
    Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 52 (3): 469-476. 2016.
    Stuart Rosenbaum’s book Recovering Integrity: Moral Thought in American Pragmatism is a creative and daring exploration of a pragmatist account of integrity as a central moral value. Rosenbaum offers an expansive treatment of integrity connecting it to wide-ranging topics: racism, religious intolerance, suicide, environmental values, the problem of induction, and contemporary quantum mechanics. Given this diversity, I confine my remarks to what I regard as central insights of the book as well as…Read more
  • Strenuous Moral Living
    William James Studies 2. 2007.
    In this paper I seek to make sense of James's account of strenuous moral living, and the role that theological belief plays in the strenuous life. I will show that some of his arguments for the moral necessity of belief in the "theological postulate" are not tenable, and that his case is stronger if his conclusion is weakened to the claim that theological belief may be necessary for some, but not all serious moral agents. I suggest that by drawing on the rich insights about ethical attention in …Read more
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    In this new contribution to moral theory, Todd Lekan argues for a pragmatist conception of morality as an evolving, educational, and fallible practice of everyday life. Drawing on the work of John Dewey, Lekan asserts that moral norms are neither timeless truths nor subjective whims, but habits transmitted through practices. Like the habits that make up medicine or engineering, moral habits are subject to rational evaluation and change according to new challenges and circumstances
  •  6
    The Marriage of Ideals and Strenuous Actions: Exploring William James' Account of Significant Life
    Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 52 (4): 576. 2016.
    In the title of the essay by the same name, James gives this answer to the question “What Makes a Life Significant:” “The solid meaning of life is always the same eternal thing—the marriage, namely, of some unhabitual ideal, however special, with some fidelity, courage, and endurance; with some man’s or woman’s pains.—And, whatever or wherever that life may be, there will always be the chance for that marriage to take place.”1 Significant lives, therefore, are comprised of two married components…Read more
  •  21
    Doing Things for Reasons
    Review of Metaphysics 58 (4): 878-879. 2005.
    It does seem that beliefs and desires slip back into such “externalist” accounts of reasons precisely when we ask the question of why something is a reason for a person. That the threatening tornado is a reason for you to speed is plausibly tied to your desire not to die and your belief that speeding is the best way to avoid dying in this situation. Bittner agrees that people are “reason selectors,” meaning that a state becomes a reason for an agent because of features of the agent. However, he …Read more
  •  79
    Pragmatist Metaethics: Moral Theory as a Deliberative Practice
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (2): 253-271. 2006.
    The paper defends a pragmatist account of metaethics that challenges the standard view of justificatory structure at the heart of many rule-based normative ethical theories. The standard view of justificatory structure assumes that deliberation must be constrained by antecedent justificatory procedures. I consider some of the radical implications of the pragmatist idea that deliberation is the conceptual context within which to interpret, evaluate, and explain moral justification
  •  14
    A Jamesian Approach to Environmental Ethics
    Contemporary Pragmatism 9 (1): 5-24. 2012.
    James's moral philosophy is a valuable resource for environmental philosophy because it reveals and impugns some deep, unhelpful assumptions about the relationship between moral theory and the moral life. In particular, James's ethics demonstrates that the debates in environmental ethics are better regarded as disputes about ideals of the kind of self and world we want, rather than as disputes over abstract propositions about the intrinsic value of nature
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    The Normative Force of Genealogy in Ethics
    International Philosophical Quarterly 37 (1): 83-93. 1997.
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    Friendship as an Impersonal Value
    Southwest Philosophy Review 26 (1): 71-79. 2010.
    This paper defends a broadly Aristotelean account of character friendship that maintains that the impersonal value of acquiring a virtuous character is the ultimate basis for our reasons for caring about friends. This view of friendship appears to conflict with the entrenched intuition that viewing our connections to particular friends as merely contingent occasions for the cultivation of virtue is alienating and undesirable. I argue that far from being an alienating feature of character friends…Read more