October 30 Bruno Verbeek (Leiden) ‘You Did Not Build that Road: Reciprocity, Benefits, Opportunities and Taxing the Extremely Rich’Posted: September 26, 2013
16:30 – 18:00
Dante Building Room 7 (DZ7)
Recently, many states in the Western world, confronted with a fall in revenues and rising debts on the one hand and growing economic inequality on the other, have taken a critical look at the tax rates for the extremely rich. In various places, policies have been proposed to the effect that the 1% of the highest income earners should pay (much) more in taxes than they currently do.
A typical argumentative strategy that is used to argue for increases in the marginal tax burden for the extremely rich is to argue that the extreme rich amassed their wealth by taking advantage of economic opportunities that they did not create themselves. Other members of society created those opportunities and reciprocity therefore demands that the extremely rich ‘pay’ for these opportunities they enjoyed.
In this paper I argue, first, that arguments like these fail: they do not justify a marginally higher tax burden on the extremely rich. Secondly, I argue that this type of argument appeals to a principle according to which taxation is the price a citizen pays for the enjoyment of the benefits the state provides. Third, I will show that such a principle not only undercuts the argument, but also that it mandates a flat tax rate if not a lump-sum tax.
In the final part of the paper, I briefly discuss an argument for taxing the extremely rich that does not appeal to a benefit principle. This argument proceeds from the idea that justice demands that taxation is levied according to the ability to pay. Social-democrats and left liberals who are concerned about the extremely high incomes on the top end of the income distribution are better advised to adopt such a strategy.
November 13 Hadassa A. Noorda (UvA) ‘Preventive Deprivations of Liberty: Asset Freezes and Travel Bans’Posted: September 23, 2013
Dante Building Room 7 (DZ7)
Time 16:30 – 1800
This paper examines preventive constraints on suspected terrorists that can lead to restrictions on liberty similar to imprisonment and disrespect the target’s autonomy. In particular, it focuses on two examples: travel bans and asset freezes. It seeks to develop a framework for setting appropriate substantive and procedural limits on their future use. Preventive constraints do not generate legal protections as constraints in response to conduct do. In addition, these constraints are often seen as a permissible alternative to imprisonment. Still, preventive de facto detentions imperil the free and autonomous life of the targeted person.
This paper accepts the peacetime paradigm and the preventive frame in which these constraints are used, but it argues for enhanced safeguards. With the recognition that preventive constraints can infringe on one’s ability to lead a free and autonomous life, this paper argues that some of these constraints require similar protections as their counterparts that put persons under lock and key.
October 7th: Alan Thomas (Tilburg) ‘High on the Hog? What is Higher Order in the Higher Order Global States Theory of Consciousness?’Posted: September 22, 2013
Centre for Philosophical Psychology, Antwerp University
18:00 Lange Winkjelstraat 2000 Antwerp
‘Between Perception and Action’ Project
Van Gulick has developed, as a new option in the dialectic between First Order Representationalist and Higher Order Theories of consciousness (in either HOP or HOT variants) a view that explains consciousness in terms of higher order global states (HOGS). The HOGS approach takes the distinction between lower order and higher order states to be a matter of degree, not of kind: consciousness involves a lower order state being integrated into a more global representation. This paper considers two interpretations of HOGS theory, one reductionist and one non-reductionist. It is argued that while, in one sense, HOGS theory shows that the language of “levels” is an interpretative artefact, it is an indispensable fiction in theorising about consciousness. Van Gulick plausibly specifies various cognitive tasks that are only discharged at his “higher order” level; this paper focuses not on the (lower order) informational basis from which the concepts deployed in these tasks are extracted, but on the (higher order) resources that the system has to have in order to extract them. I will argue that this supports a non-reductionist reading of the HOGS project.
Alan Thomas ‘Liberal Republicanism, Cosmopolitanism and the Idea of Europe’ September 18 – PostponedPosted: July 10, 2013
This event has been postponed. More details to follow shortly.
‘Archimedes and the Mechanical Hypothesis: How Many Philosophers Does It Take to Haul a Ship?’
Dante Building Room 119
It is sometimes said that the philosophers of late antiquity falied to anticipate the ‘mechanical philosophy’ of the 17th century because they saw mechanics as a deceptive art and not a science. I have argued that this is not so, and that traces of a ‘mechanical hypothesis’ can be seen in late antiquity. A question resurfaces, then, as to why this failed to impress natural philosophers. I reconstruct a systematic argument against the generality of ‘bottom up’ explanation from a passage in Simplicius. The inability to account for chemical change served as a principled reason for acknowledging limits to the explanatory power of mechanics.
In this paper, we argue that the so-called Knobe-Effect constitutes an error. There is now a wealth of data confirming that people are highly prone to what has also come to be known as the ‘side-effect effect’. That is, when attributing psychological states - such as intentionality, foreknowledge, and desiring – as well as other agential features - such as causal control – people typically do so to a greater extent when the action under consideration is evaluated negatively. There are a plethora of models attempting to account for this effect. We hold that the central question of interest is whether the effect represents a competence or an error in judgment. We offer a systematic argument for the claim that the burden of proof regarding this question is on the competence theorist, and develop our own account based on the notion of the reactive attitudes. This model can accommodate both the idea that these sorts of judgments are fundamentally normative and that they often constitute errors.
It is argued in this paper that truthfulness and trust are both fundamental values of epistemic cooperation. Epistemic cooperation is understood as the joint endeavor of members of a group to increase the number of true beliefs had by the group. In showing the fundamental role of these two epistemic values it is argued that irresolvable philosophical puzzles arise when they come to conflict. They need careful balancing. It is assumed throughout that epistemic cooperation is itself basic for two reasons. The first is that any form of cooperation involves epistemic exchanges (to the extent that speaking and caring for the truth may, as much as trust, also become a moral value). Secondly – following Craig’s genealogical account of the concept of knowledge – that concept presupposes social relations and epistemic cooperation.
This general framework is applied to the specific case of how best to understand testimony: how could it be epistemically responsible to take someone’s word that p as sole basis for coming to have the belief that p? The only adequate solution is one that helps restore the balance between trust and truth: trust in a given case is justified, if and only if the speaker is trustworthy, i.e. highly reliable about the matter p. In effect, this is to deny that we uphold trust to the extent that it would trump the value we accord to securing that our beliefs are true. The balance between evidentialist and “telling” accounts of testimony reflect the general tension between trust and truthfulness.