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Michael Zimmerman

**Education: Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1979 **Research Interests: Ethics; Action Theory

There are 47 included publications by Michael Zimmerman :

TitleDateViewsBrief Description
Actions and Events 1995 286 Kent Bach has argued that certain traditional problems of action theory (concerning the individuation of actions, their timing, their location, and the manner in which they enter into causal relations) arise only on the supposition that actions are e...
Alfred R. Mele, Springs of Action: Understanding Intentional Behavior. 1993 125 Mele, Alfred R. Springs of Action: Understanding Intentional Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Pp. ix+ 272. $39.95 (cloth). Mele's main project is to give a causal account of human action that is sensitive to the variety of ways in w...
Another Plea for Excuses 2004 666 It has been almost fifty years since J. L. Austin made his famous plea for excuses before an audience of the Aristotelian Society. Austin's plea was not that we recognize the possibility of having an excuse for wrongful behavior; he took this possibi...
'Can,' Compatibilism, and Possible Worlds 1981 163 Most compatibilists have sought to defend their view by means of an analysis of the concept of 'can' in terms of subjunctive conditionals.1 Keith Lehrer opposes this analysis;2 he nevertheless embraces compatibilism.3 In a recent paper he has propose...
Controlling Ignorance: A Bitter Truth 2002 402 When Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss had over two million people put to death, he was not to blame. When Adolf Eichmann delivered victim after victim to the concentration camps, he was not to blame. When William Calley led the massacre of hundr...
Cooperation and Doing the Best One Can 1992 244 That one ought morally to do the best one can is a view that enjoys a rich history of support.1 Its most famous incarnation is act utilitarianism, according to which one ought to produce the most favorable balance of pleasure over pain that one can. ...
Deontic Morality and Control by Ishtiyaque Haji 2005 33 This article is a review of “Deontic Morality and Control” by Ishtiyaque Haji.
Evaluatively Incomplete States of Affairs 1983 565 The main point of this paper has been to show that the concept of evaluative incompleteness deserves consideration. In addition, I have suggested that it is plausible to accept that certain states of affairs in fact are evaluatively incomplete. But I...
Feldman on the Nature and Value of Pleasure 2007 565 Fred Feldman is the Roger Federer of philosophy. His strokes are crisp and clean, his shots deep and penetrating, his finesse dazzling. And he makes it all look so easy! Pleasure and the Good Life is just the latest in a long line of works that are p...
The Good and the Right 2007 568 T. M. Scanlon has revived a venerable tradition according to which something’s being good consists in its being such that there is a reason to respond positively towards it. He has presented novel arguments for this thesis. In this article, I first...
In Defense of the Concept of Intrinsic Value 1999 368 The concept of intrinsic value has enjoyed a long, rich history. From the time of the ancient Greeks to the present day, philosophers have placed it at the foundation of much of their theorizing. This is especially true of G.E. Moore, who made it the...
Intervening Agents and Moral Responsibility 1985 454 If some bracken has caught fire because someone has thrown a lighted cigarette into it and, just as the flames are about to flicker out, you deliberately pour petrol on them, then you and you alone will be to blame for the ensuing forest-fire. If, as...
Is Moral Obligation Objective or Subjective? 2006 1327 Many philosophers hold that whether an act is overall morally obligatory is an ‘objective’ matter, many that it is a ‘subjective’ matter, and some that it is both. The idea that it is or can be both may seem to promise a helpful answer to the quest...
Judith Jarvis Thomson, Goodness and Advice 2004 49 This article is a review of the book “Goodness and Advice” by Judith Jarvis Thomson.
Lapses and Dilemmas 1988 462 A moral dilemma occurs when there are several actions which cannot all be performed, although each can be and each ought to be. Recent discussion of the possibility and implications of moral dilemmas has focused on those dilemmas where the sense of ...
Luck and Moral Responsibility 1987 716 Considerable attention has recently been given to what has come to be called moral luck. It has been claimed that recognition of this phenomenon imperils the received conception of moral responsibility; some, indeed, have said that this conception m...
Mill and the Consistency of Hedonism 1983 498 Hedonism, it is sometimes claimed, is irredeemably vulgar; for it implies that there is nothing noble in life, that the pleasures that life affords are to be equally valued, no matter what their object. In his book Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill tak...
The Moral Aspect of Nonmoral Goods and Evils 1999 345 The idea that immoral behaviour can sometimes be admirable, and that moral behaviour can sometimes be less than admirable, has led several of its supporters to infer that moral considerations are not always overriding, contrary to what has been tr...
Moral Freedom by Jeffrey Olen 1990 127 Olen declares at the outset that any plausible moral theory must incorporate the following apparently inconsistent "truisms" (as he calls them): that moral rules are society's rules; that morality is a matter of individual choice; and that some th...
Moral Luck: A Partial Map 2006 603 Luck varies from person to person, for two reasons. First, for something to occur as a matter of luck is for it to occur beyond the control of someone, and what is beyond one person's control may not be beyond another's. Second, luck may be either go...
Moral Responsibility and Ignorance 1997 824 This paper defends the view that moral responsibility for behavior of whose moral wrongness one is ignorant occurs less frequently than is commonly supposed. Its central argument is this. If one is culpable for ignorant behavior, then one is culpable...
Moral Responsibility, Freedom, and Alternate Possibilities 1982 474 The paper opened with a story about Peter, Paul, and a locked door. Certain rough morals were seen to be perhaps derivable from the story. But the morals were too rough and required refinement. When they were refined, it became clear that the origina...
Negligence and Moral Responsibility 1986 498 It is commonly accepted that one can be morally responsible for negligent behavior and its consequences. It is also commonly accepted that one cannot be morally responsible for occurrences over which one had no control. It is not clear how these beli...
Obligation, Responsibility, and Alternate Possibilities 1993 439 Harry Frankfurt is well-known for his argument, in [1], against the Principle of Alternate Possibilities: "(PAP) A person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise." In [2], pp. 95-96, he argues that the rejecti...
On the Fulfillment of Moral Obligation 2006 492 This paper considers three general views about the nature of moral obligation and three particular answers (with which these views are typically associated) concerning the following question: if on Monday you lend me a book that I promise to return t...
On the Intrinsic Value of States of Pleasure 1980 675 Is pleasure good? Is displeasure bad? On first consulting our moral intuitions we receive, I think, no clear-cut answers to these questions, and therein lies the problem that I wish to investigate. In pursuing this investigation I shall not attempt t...
Partiality and Intrinsic Value. 2011 164 The fitting-attitudes analysis of value, which states that something's being good consists in its being the fitting object of some pro-attitude, has recently been the focus of intense debate. Many objections have been leveled against this analysis. O...
A Plea for Accuses 1997 413 Ever since J. L. Austin's famous "plea for excuses," if not before, the standard account of the distinction between a justification and an excuse has been this: one has a justification for what one has done just in case one did not do wrong in doing ...
A Plea for Ambivalence 1993 335 Someone who can commit a wrong but deliberately refrains from doing so warrants a sort of moral recognition that someone who is constitutionally unable to commit the wrong does not.
Prima Facie Obligation and Doing the Best One Can 1995 351 I believe that one ought, morally, to do the best one can. This is, of course, controversial. I don't propose to debate the issue here, however, but wish rather to address a related one: how such a theory of absolute obligation — a "maximizing" theor...
Propositional Quantification and the Prosentential Theory of Truth 1978 367 In their paper 'A prosentential theory of truth' Grover, Camp and Belnap propound a theory of truth which is essentially a modified version of Ramsey's redundancy theory of truth. In this paper I shall not seek to deter-mine whether or not the prosen...
The Range of Options 1990 335 What options we have in a situation can clearly be of great moral significance. I shall argue that our options are far more restricted than is commonly thought. If I am right, then my argument has important moral implications.
Remote Obligation 1987 375 In this paper I shall draw a distinction between what I shall call remote and immediate moral obligation. The distinction sheds light on the issues of whether "ought" implies "can" and of whether there can be any genuine moral dilemmas, but it also c...
Responsibility and Awareness 2009 579 George Sher's book1 provides an elegant, concise, and subtle elaboration and defense of the epistemic component of that conception of responsibility that would appear to underlie our everyday ascriptions of responsibility. It is by far the...
Responsibility Regarding the Unthinkable 1995 380 Connie is walking down Main Street. From a distance, she sees a young child screaming for help, blood pouring from a gash in his head. There are many other pedestrians on the street but, to Connie's amazement and horror, they ignore the child's pleas...
Responsibility, Reaction, and Value 2010 373 Many writers accept the following thesis about responsibility: (R) For one to be responsible for something is for one to be such that it is fitting that one be the object of some reactive attitude with respect to that thing. This thesis bears a strik...
Rights, Compensation, and Culpability 1994 416 Philosophers and laymen alike are strongly attracted to the view that the infringement of a right calls for compensation.
Risk, Rights, and Restitution 2006 337 In "Imposing Risks," Judith Thomson gives a case in which, by turning on her stove, she accidentally causes her neighbor's death. She claims that both the following are true: (1) she ought not to have caused her neighbor's death; (2) it was permissib...
Sharing Responsibility 1985 571 Talk of two or more people sharing responsibility for an outcome is very common. As I shall try to show, it can also be very misleading. I am concerned here with moral responsibility only and not with legal responsibility. I am concerned, too, only w...
Subsidiary Obligation 1986 420 What is conditional obligation and under what circumstances may an absolute obligation be detached from a conditional obligation? These questions have recently been much discussed. I think that a very plausible answer has been given to the first ques...
Supererogation and doing the best one can 1993 431 A thorough philosophical inquiry into supererogation would need to deal with the following four questions. What is the nature of supererogation? Are supererogatory acts possible? Do they actually occur? Are those acts that we commonly call supereroga...
Taking Luck Seriously 2002 1472 Suppose someone were to say to you, "Look, I grant that moral responsibility requires freedom and that freedom requires alternate possibilities. Nonetheless, it's perfectly possible for someone to be morally responsible even in the absence of alterna...
Taking Some of the Mystery out of Omissions 1981 400 Philosophers often talk of acts of omission, but such talk is immediately puzzling; for omissions (of all sorts) appear to be paradigms of not-doing rather than doing, even though no omission is merely a not-doing. But, as I shall seek to show, altho...
Understanding What's Good for Us 2009 406 The ancient question of what a good life consists in is currently the focus of intense debate. There are two aspects to this debate: the first concerns how the concept of a good life is to be understood; the second concerns what kinds of life fall wi...
Virtual Intrinsic Value and the Principle of Organic Unities 1999 826 This paper argues that Moore's principle of organic unities is false. Advocates of the principle have failed to take note of the distinction between actual intrinsic value and virtual intrinsic value. Purported cases of organic unities, where the act...
What Is This Thing Called Happiness? by Fred Feldman 2010 40 A review of the book “What is This Thing Called Happiness?” by Fred Feldman.
Where Did I Go Wrong? 1990 310 The list is long of those who, in the history of ethics, have advocated the thesis that what one ought to do is the best that one can do. This thesis has had its detractors, of course. I wish, however, not to defend it against external attacks but to...