Michael Cholbi

Michael Cholbi
The University of Edinburgh | UoE · Department of Philosophy

About

90
Publications
16,982
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476
Citations
Citations since 2016
40 Research Items
354 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022020406080
Introduction
A philosopher working primarily in ethical theory and practical ethics, with special emphases on the philosophy of death and dying, Kantian ethics, paternalism, procreative ethics, punishment, and the ethics of work.

Publications

Publications (90)
Article
I respond here to commentators’ concerns about the scope of grief, further clarifying the role of practical identity in those whose deaths we grieve; elaborating my understanding of grief as egocentric; defending my own resolution of the paradox of grief against alternative resolutions proposed by my commentators; and substantiating the role of sel...
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Précis of Grief: A Philosophical Guide.
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Grief seems difficult to locate within familiar emotion taxonomies, as it is not a basic emotion nor a hybrid thereof. Here I propose that grief is better conceptualized as an emotionally rich attentional phenomenon rather than an emotion or sequence of emotions. In grieving that another person has died, the loss incurred by the grieving, etc. occu...
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This volume presents thirty-two essays on a wide array of topics in modern philosophical meaning in life research. The essays are organized into six parts. Part I, Understanding Meaning in Life, focuses on various ways of conceptualizing meaning in life. Among other issues, it discusses whether meaning in life should be understood objectively or su...
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A wide body of psychological research corroborates the claim that whether one’s life is (or will be) meaningful appears relevant to whether it is rational to continue living. This chapter advances conceptions of life’s meaningfulness and of suicidal choice with an eye to ascertaining how the former might provide justificatory reasons relevant to th...
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The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) has gained worldwide visibility as a grassroots social justice movement distinguished by a decentralized, nonhierarchical mode of organization. M4BL rose to prominence in part thanks to its protests against police brutality and misconduct directed at black Americans. However, its animating concerns are far broade...
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The Movement for Black Lives: Philosophical Perspectives brings philosophical analysis to bear on the aims, strategies, policy positions, and intellectual-historical context of M4BL. Leading scholars tackle such themes as: "Black Lives Matter" as a political speech act, M4BL's conception of the value of Black lives, the gender dynamics of the Movem...
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The deaths of those on whom our practical identities rely generate a sense of disorientation or alienation from the world seemingly at odds with life being meaningful. In the terms put forth in Cheshire Calhoun's recent account of meaningfulness in life, because their existence serves as a metaphysical presupposition of our practical identities, th...
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Drawing upon empirical studies of racial discrimination dating back to the 1940’s, the Movement for Black Lives platform calls for the abolition of capital punishment. Our purpose here is to defend the Movement’s call for death penalty abolition in terms congruent with its claim that the death penalty in the U.S. is a “racist practice” that “devalu...
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Individuals are owed equal respect. But on the basis of what property of individuals are they owed such respect? A popular Kantian answer—rational agency—appears less plausible in light of the growing psychological evidence that human choice is subject to a wide array of biases (framing, laziness, etc.); human beings are neither equal in rational a...
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Gideon Yaffe has recently argued that children should be subject to lower standards of criminal liability because, unlike adults, they ought to be disenfranchised. Because of their disenfranchisement, they lack the legal reasons enfranchised adults have to comply with the law. I critically consider Yaffe’s argument for such disenfranchisement, whic...
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Most advanced industrial societies are ‘work-centered,’ according high value and prestige to work. Indeed, belief in an interpersonal moral duty to work is encoded in both popular attitudes toward work and in policies such as ‘workfare’. Here I argue that despite the intuitive appeal of reciprocity or fair play as the moral basis for a duty to work...
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Discussions of the nature or possibility of moral expertise have largely proceeded in atheoretical terms, with little attention paid to whether moral expertise depends on theoretical knowledge of morality. Here I argue that moral expertise is more theory-dependent than is commonly recognized: Moral expertise consists, at least in part, in knowledge...
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Opponents of medically assisted dying have long appealed to 'slippery slope' arguments. One such slippery slope concerns palliative care: That the introduction of medically assisted dying will lead to a diminution in the quality or availability or palliative care for patients near the end of their lives. Empirical evidence from jurisdictions where...
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Many economists and social theorists hypothesize that most societies could soon face a ‘post-work’ future, one in which employment and productive labor have a dramatically reduced place in human affairs. Given the centrality of employment to individual identity and its pivotal role as the primary provider of economic and other goods, transitioning...
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Many contributors to debates about professional conscience assume a basic, pre-professional right of conscientious refusal and proceed to address how to ‘balance’ this right against other goods. Here I argue that opponents of a right of conscientious refusal concede too much in assuming such a right, overlooking that the professions in which consci...
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The abolition of capital punishment is among the reforms the Black Lives Matter movement has called for in response to what it calls "the war against Black people" and "Black communities" in the United States. Drawing on the large body of studies indicating discrimination against Blacks both as capital defendants and as murder victims, the movement...
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Meursault, the protagonist of Camus's The Stranger , was unable to experience grief at his mother's death—and was in fact condemned for this inability. Should Meursault's inability to grieve be pitied, or should it be welcomed inasmuch as grief is a painful and highly distressing experience? With the assistance of Augustine's remarks on grief in hi...
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Although Kant was generally opposed to suicide, many contemporary ethicists invoke recognizably Kantian notions, including dignity and autonomy, in their defense of assisted dying or “death with dignity.” This chapter sorts out what Kant’s understanding of dignity implies about assisted dying. Kant’s understanding of dignity as rooted in practicall...
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Grief is our emotional response to the deaths of intimates, and so like many other emotional conditions, it can be appraised in terms of its rationality. A philosophical account of grief's rationality should satisfy a contingency constraint, wherein grief is neither intrinsically rational nor intrinsically irrational. Here I provide an account of g...
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According to rational will views of paternalism, the wrongmaking feature of paternalism is that paternalists disregard or fail to respect the rational will of the paternalized, in effect substituting their own presumably superior judgments about what ends the paternalized ought to pursue or how they ought to pursue them. Here I defend a version of...
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Self-Knowledge for Humans By Quassim CassamOxford University Press, 2015, 256pp, £30 ISBN: 9780199657575 - Volume 91 Issue 3 - M. J. Cholbi
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The traditional debate about moral dilemmas concerns whether there are circumstances in which an agent is subject to two obligations that cannot both be fulfilled. Realists maintain there are. Irrealists deny this. Here I defend an alternative, methodologically-oriented position wherein the denial of genuine moral dilemmas functions as a regulative...
Book
Kant’s ethical thought remains one of the most influential, yet notoriously challenging, systems in the history of philosophy. This volume provides a sympathetic but critical reconstruction of the main strands of Kant’s ethics, focusing on the most commonly read of Kant’s ethical works, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Part I outlinesKa...
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Advocates of a right to die increasingly assert that the right in question is a positive right (a right to assistance in dying) and that the right in question is held against physicians or the medical community. Physician organizations often reply that these claims to a positive right to die should be rejected on the grounds that medicine's aims or...
Chapter
Medically enabled suicides occur when an individual (a) puts herself in a physiological condition requiring lifesaving medical care, and (b) the individual takes advantage of recognized treatment protocols (e.g., advance directives) requiring the withholding or withdrawal of care from competent patients to ensure that medical personnel enable her t...
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Samuel Scheffler has recently defended what he calls the ‘afterlife conjecture’, the claim that many of our evaluative attitudes and practices rest on the assumption that human beings will continue to exist after we die. Scheffler contends that our endorsement of this claim reveals that our evaluative orientation has four features: non-experiential...
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Many participants in debates about the morality of assisted dying maintain that individuals may only turn to assisted dying as a ‘last resort’, i.e., that a patient ought to be eligible for assisted dying only after she has exhausted certain treatment or care options. Here I argue that this last resort condition is unjustified, that it is in fact w...
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That human beings are mortal, social, and interdependent ensures that virtually everyone experiences grief during the course of their lives. While it is arguable that we experience grief in response to a wide array of losses or life-transforming events (e.g., divorce, loss of a job or career), this entry will focus on the paradigm cause of grief, n...
Book
This book provides novel perspectives on the ethical justifiability of assisted dying. Seeking to go beyond traditional debates on topics such as the value of human life and questions surrounding intention and causation, this volume promises to shift the terrain of the ethical debates about assisted dying. It reconsiders the role of patient autonom...
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Although euthanasia or assisted suicide have been practiced for at least two millennia, the current scholarly debate about assisted dying began to take shape in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Thanks to a confluence of developments during that period, death became increasingly ‘medicalized,’ i.e., the time or manner of a person’s death fell more and more un...
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Thanks to recent scholarship, Kant is no longer seen as the dogmatic opponent of suicide that he appears to be at first glance. However, some interpreters have recently argued for a Kantian view of the morality of suicide with surprising, even radical, implications. More specifically, they have argued that Kantianism (1) requires that those with de...
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Kant's view that we have only indirect duties to animals fails to capture the intuitive notion that wronging animals transgresses duties we owe to those animals. Here I argue that a suitably modified Kantianism can allow for direct duties to animals and, in particular, an imperfect duty to promote animal welfare without unduly compromising its core...
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Consequentialism is often criticized for rendering morality too pervasive. One somewhat neglected manifestation of this pervasiveness is the obligatory self-benefit objection. According to this objection, act-consequentialism has the counterintuitive result that certain self-benefitting actions (e.g., investing one’s money for maximal expected retu...
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T.M. Scanlon has recently proposed what I term a ‘double attitude’ account of blame, wherein blame is the revision of one’s attitudes in light of another person’s conduct, conduct that we believe reveals that the individual lacks the normative attitudes we judge essential to our relationship with her. Scanlon proposes that this account justifies di...
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Learning is any process that, by engaging with a person's rational powers, results in an improvement in that person's knowledge, skills, behaviors, or values. Learning can of course occur unaided. Teaching, however, is the deliberate effort to induce learning in another person. The ethics of teaching, then, addresses the ethical standards, values,...
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Suicide is a controversial ethical issue in large part because the reasonings of (a) and (b) above appear plausible but support contradictory conclusions. (a) in effect asks: Why should we be granted an exemption to the prohibition on human killing when the person we kill is ourselves? What makes killing oneself so special? (b) on the other hand st...
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Critics often charge that Kantian ethics is implausibly rigoristic: that Kantianism recognizes a set of perfect duties, encapsulated in rules such as ‘don’t lie,’ ‘keep one’s promises,’ etc., and that these rules apply without exception. Though a number of Kantians have plausibly argued that Kantianism can acknowledge exceptions to perfect duties,...
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In “What is Wrong with Rational Suicide,” Pilpel and Amsel develop a counterexample that allegedly confounds attempts to condition the moral permissibility of suicide on its rationality. In this counterexample, a healthy middle aged woman with significant life accomplishments, but no dependents, disease, or mental disorder opts to end her life pain...
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Motivational internalism (MI) holds that, necessarily, if an agent judges that she is morally obligated to ø, then, that agent is, to at least some minimal extent, motivated to ø. Opponents of MI sometimes invoke depression as a counterexample on the grounds that depressed individuals appear to sincerely affirm moral judgments but are ‘listless’ an...
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The notion of faculty as 'teacher-scholars ' has a relatively short history within higher education, yet a consensus exists about the general contours of this notion. First, it should be emphasized that teacher-scholars are not simply scholars engaged in teaching, nor simply teachers engaged in scholarship. Rather, a teacher-scholar appro...
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Kant's claim that the rational will has absolute value or dignity appears to render any prudential suicide morally impermissible. Although the previous appeals of Kantians (e. g., David Velleman) to the notion that pain or mental anguish can compromise dignity and justify prudential suicide are unsuccessful, these appeals suggest three constraints...
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Is it allowable for your government, or anyone else, to influence or coerce you 'for your own sake'? This is a question about paternalism, or interference with a person's liberty or autonomy with the intention of promoting their good or averting harm, which has created considerable controversy at least since John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. Mill famo...
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Assertions of statements such as ‘it’s raining, but I don’t believe it’ are standard examples of what is known as Moore’s paradox. Here I consider moral equivalents of such statements, statements wherein individuals affirm moral judgments while also expressing motivational indifference to those judgments (such as ‘hurting animals for fun is wrong,...
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Embarrassed by the apparent rigorism Kant expresses so bluntly in ‘On a Supposed Right to Lie,’ numerous contemporary Kantians have attempted to show that Kant’s ethics can justify lying in specific circumstances, in particular, when lying to a murderer is necessary in order to prevent her from killing another innocent person. My aim is to improve...
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This article addresses the question of whether the arguments for a duty to die given by John Hardwig, the most prominent philosophical advocate of such a duty, are sound. Hardwig believes that the duty to die is relatively widespread among those with burdensome illnesses, dependencies, or medical conditions. I argue that although there are rare cir...
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abstract Ryan Tonkens proposes that my Kantian approach to suicide intervention with respect to the mentally ill (2002) wrongly assumes that the suicidally mentally ill are rational and are therefore rational agents to whom Kantian moral constraints ought to apply. Here I indicate how the empirical evidence concerning the suicidally mentally ill do...
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By emphasising the intentions underlying suicidal behaviour, suicidal death is distinguished from accidental death in standard philosophical accounts on the nature of suicide. A crucial third class of self-produced deaths, deaths in which agents act neither intentionally nor accidentally to produce their own deaths, is left out by such accounts. Ba...
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The achievement of intentional learning is a powerful paradigm for the objectives and methods of the teaching of philosophy. This paradigm sees the objectives and methods of such teaching as based not simply on the mastery of content, but as rooted in attempts to shape the various affective and cognitive factors that influence students' learning ef...
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Philosophers have harbored doubts about the possibility of moral expertise since Plato. I argue that irrespective of whether moral experts exist, identifying who those experts are is insurmountable because of the credentials problem: Moral experts have no need to seek out others’ moral expertise, but moral non-experts lack sufficient knowledge to d...
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I here defend my earlier doubts that VM patients serve as counterexamples to motivational internalism by highlighting the difficulties of belief attribution in light of holism about the mental and by suggesting that a better understanding of the role of emotions in the self-attribution of moral belief places my earlier Davidsonian “theory of mind”...
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Belief attribution and the falsification of motive internalism The metatethical position known as motive internalism (MI) holds that moral beliefs are necessarily motivating. Adina Roskies (in Philosophical Psychology, 16) has recently argued against MI by citing patients with injuries to the ventromedial (VM) cortex as counterexamples to MI. Roski...
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After establishing that the requirement that those criminals who stand for execution be mentally competent can be given a recognizably retributivist rationale, I suggest that not only it is difficult to show that executing the incompetent is more cruel than executing the competent, but that opposing the execution of the incompetent fits ill with th...
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Philosophical discussions of the morality of suicide have tended to focus on its justifiability from an agent's point of view rather than on the justifiability of attempts by others to intervene so as to preserve it. This paper addresses questions of suicide intervention within a broadly Kantian perspective. In such a perspective, a chief task is t...
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Evidence from the Apology, Crito, Protagoras, and Gorgias is mustered in defense of the claim that for Socrates, dialectic typifies just punishment: Dialectic benefits the punished by making her more just, since it disabuses her of the false beliefs that stand in the way of her acquiring knowledge of justice. Though painful and disorienting to the...
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A partir de la distinction etablie par D. Parfit et T. Nagel entre les raisons relatives a l'agent et les raisons neutres par rapport a l'agent, l'A. etudie la normativite et la categoricite des theories morales concernant la motivation des agents individuels. Rejetant l'argument de C. Korsgaard en faveur de la publicite des raisons et de la normat...
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David Boonin has recently argued that although no existing theory of legal punish-ment provides adequate moral justification for the practice of punishing criminal wrongdo-ing, compulsory victim restitution (CVR) is a morally justified response to such wrongdoing. Here I argue that Boonin's thesis is false because CVR is a form of punishment. I fir...
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Virginia, 1999. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 224-232).

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