Epistemic Value

Monday, December 19, 2005

New Paper by Brady on the Value Problem

There's a new paper on the value problem posted on the side-bar which is by Michael Brady (presently at ANU, soon to be in Glasgow). The paper is entitled, 'Appropriate Attitudes and the Value Problem', and is forthcoming in the American Philosophical Quarterly. Alternatively, click here.


  • At 9:16 AM, Anonymous nenad_miscevic said…

    I agree with the general line and like the diagnosis of the problem. But why take the roundabout way involving correctness of attitudes towards ATB/RTB? Note that correctness itself stands in need of explanation, so why not characterize the differential value of ATB and RTB directly in terms of active doxastic vs. passive doxastic value. And the active doxastic value is the value related to thinker's doxastic activity, not her judment of value: reliability is valuable because it systematically contributes to thinker's efforts, not because it is (correctly) judged thus to contribute.

    One related issue: the difference between two kinds of value shows «in extension», so to speak. Suppose John and Mary decide to which photograph to invite for wedding photos, and consider two sets of photos, one produced by a reliable photograph, the other by an unreliable one. There is a single high quality photo, call it Q, tokens of which appear in both sets; token q-rel in the reliably produced one, and token q-f (for fluky) in the unreliably produced one. Then you can argue that q-rel has an additional practical value, derived from its membership in the high quality set, which thus makes it a symptom of the quality of origin. (On a more grandiose scale, imagine a world in which the score of what we call Beethoven's Ninth (the Counterpart Ninth, so to say) is produced by an otherwise mediocr composer. It would lack the value of being a part of a systematically high quality output.

  • At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Michael Brady said…

    Thanks for the comments, Nenad. Here are a couple of responses.

    I like the point about additional value accruing to something because it is part of a 'systematically high quality' set. Perhaps a great photograph or composition has additional value because it confirms the greatness of the photographer or composer.

    As for the first point, the detour through the correctness of attitudes was simply an attempt to appeal to a view of value which is increasingly prominent in the literature. On this view, to say that something is valuable is to say that certain attitudes towards it are correct or appropriate or fitting. Of course, this means that we owe an account of what appropriateness or correctness is with respect to various attitudes, which is itself a major task. But we do have an intuitive grasp of when attitudes are appropriate or inappropriate, in which case we can arrive at intuitive judgements as to the value of certain things. Thus, it is inappropriate to feel pleasure at a friend’s failure, which indicates that not all pleasures are intrinsically valuable; whereas pride seems an appropriate response when one’s child succeeds on her school exams, which indicates that success is valuable. In the same way, I claimed that it makes no sense to pursue ATB, in which case it is inappropriate to have an active attitude of love towards ATB.

    I’m not sure I fully understand the view that is proposed as an alternative to mine, since I’m not entirely clear on what the thinker’s doxastic activity and the thinker’s efforts amount to here – and as a result, I’m not clear on what it is for RTB to contribute to these things.


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