Jaffro, L. (2022). Weakness and the Memory of Resolutions. In C. Bagnoli (ed.), Time in Action. The Temporal Structure of Rational Agency and Practical Thought, New York, Routledge, Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, 221-242. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429259845
Contemporary moral theory tends to remain silent about the temporal aspect of practical reasoning. It overlooks the portion of our struggle for practical rationality which is due to the challenges of diachronic agency – planning a future conduct, acting on an earlier decision, following a judgment that took place in the past, etc. How can my earlier judgments and commitments exercise the right traction on my later choices and conduct? How can they fail to do so, and how is this kind of lapse a distinctive kind of “practical irrationality”? The chapter focuses on the moral psychology of solemn resolutions – an area, if any, where the diachronic dimension of agency is especially salient. The first part follows a lead from Leibniz’s account of akrasia and compensatory techniques of self-control: both practical irrationality and self-control are concerned with problems of memory. The second part elaborates on a classification of types of memory and applies it to remedies for weakness of will and thus to self-control over time. The main argument aims to answer two questions. The first concerns the nature of weak agents’ normative memory of important resolutions. What kind or degree of memory is required (and accessible) to stick to one’s resolutions? The second question concerns devices of diachronic self-control that may be useful to agents who are aware of their weakness and willing to cope with it. The proposal pays particular attention to intrapsychic means such as “personal rules” as opposed to external constraints.
Jaffro, L. (2022). Berkeley and Shaftesbury. In S. Rickless, The Oxford Handbook of Berkeley, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 539-559. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190873417.013.30
The Third Earl of Shaftesbury was one of Berkeley’s main targets throughout his career, and especially in Alciphron. The English moralist, who claims to adapt ancient philosophy, particularly Stoic philosophy, to the taste of a modern audience, is in Berkeley’s eyes a promoter of anti-Christian free-thinking. It is on the occasion of his criticism of Shaftesbury that Berkeley expounds his own views on the epistemology of ethical and aesthetic values, and on education. Berkeley sees in Shaftesbury, as in Hutcheson, a philosopher who makes the mistake of devaluing reasoning in favor of feeling, whereas it has a rightful place in the ethical and aesthetic fields. He rejects Shaftesbury’s appeal to “enthusiasm” and “natural taste.” Berkeley also blames him for trying to confiscate the Socratic legacy in the service of a libertine project, as if the philosophy of the ancients did not prefigure Christianity.
Jaffro, L. (2020). Comment distinguer raisons publiques et raisons non publiques? The Tocqueville Review, 41(1), 41-53. https://doi.org/10.3138/ttr.41.1.41
The paper discusses the distinction between two kinds of reasons, public and non-public, which plays a major role in the way John Rawls sought to respond to communitarian criticisms, and which Catherine Audard revisits to advocate a political philosophy that confronts what she calls cultural fragmentation. Should public reasons be conceived as being of an argumentative nature, quite different from that of non-public reasons? Or should we consider that the difference is primarily between their objects, and contrast the adoption of a policy or line of conduct with beliefs and valuations that may also respond to reasons?
Jaffro, L. (2020). James Dalrymple, Viscount Stair, on Legal Normativity. In A. Broadie (ed.), Scottish Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 140-157. https://www.doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198769842.003.0009
The chapter concentrates on Stair’s understanding of laws, whether human-made or divine. Scots law is a particular application of a rational legislation, which ultimately rests upon God’s perfections. However, positive law cannot be entirely derived from natural law, mainly because of the Fall and also for pragmatic reasons. One important aspect of Stair’s contribution to legal and moral philosophy is his distinction between conventional and obediential obligations (from the will of God only), and his account of the principle of ‘engagement’ at work in conventional obligations. Also, Stair’s view that a promise is binding per se, without acceptance by the promisee, deserves attention.
L. Jaffro & V. França Freitas (2019). Why Thomas Reid Matters to the Epistemology of the Social Sciences. The Philosophical Quarterly, 70(279), 282-301. https://doi.org/10.1093/pq/pqz031
Little attention has been paid to the fact that Thomas Reid’s epistemology applies to ‘political reasoning’ as well as to various operations of the mind. Reid was interested in identifying the ‘first principles’ of political science as he did with other domains of human knowledge. This raises the question of the extent to which the study of human action falls within the competence of ‘common sense’. Our aim is to reconstruct and assess Reid’s epistemology of the sciences of social action and to determine how it connects with the fundamental tenets of his general epistemology. In the first part, we portray Reid as a methodological individualist and focus on the status of the first principles of political reasoning. The second part examines Reid’s viHistory of philosophyews on the explanatory power of the principles of human action. Finally, we draw a parallel between Reid’s epistemology and the methodology of Weberian sociology.
Jaffro, L. (2019). Passing the Buck on Values: Parfit and Reasons Fundamentalism. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 102(2). https://doi.org/10.3917/rmm.192.0051
Derek Parfit borrows from T.M. Scanlon his reasons fundamentalism—that is, the idea that the role that defenders of value realism assign to values should be reassigned to reasons. If we follow Parfit in distinguishing between reasons as normative facts and the normatively important facts that give these reasons, a question inevitably arises: How can facts provide reasons? Are reasons to be understood as supervening on natural facts, or as grounded on nonevaluative properties? Or should we understand this relationship differently? Addressing some of the gaps in Parfit’s work on the metaphysics of morality, this paper tackles the issue from an epistemological rather than an ontological point of view.
L. Jaffro (2019). Jugement moral et désaccord persistant. Archives de Philosophie, 82(2), 233-253. https://www.cairn.info/revue-archives-de-philosophie-2019-2-page-233.htm
The aim is to clarify the conditions of real disagreement in the epistemology of moral judgements. It would seem that moral subjectivists can deal with disagreement more easily than realists. The former can refer disagreement to the diversity of individual or social preferences that evaluations express. The latter have difficulties to account for it in contexts where the informational conditions of an evaluation are met. The paper defends a third approach, attentive to the epistemology of evaluation, which puts the emphasis on how moral value judgements are essentially dependent on reasons. In morality as in other areas, judging is, among other things, assuming responsibility for a verdict that is susceptible of being justified.
L. Jaffro (2018). Harmonic and Disharmonic Views of Trust. Rivista di Estetica, 68(2), 11-26. https://journals.openedition.org/estetica/3401
This paper, at the crossroads of practical and epistemological questions, puts forward a non-standard approach to the study of a set of trust phenomena (trust, trustworthiness, distrust, self-trust, self-distrust) and their interconnectedness. Two paradigmatic approaches to trust – harmonic and disharmonic – are unpacked and shown to be complementary. In contexts where the harmonic view applies, trust phenomena are mutually reinforcing. When the disharmonic view is appropriate, instead, they counterbalance one another. An analysis of Augustine’s De fide rerum quae non videntur helps introducing the former. Each view carries its own conception of the role of institutions in trust. For the harmonic approach, institutions are contexts that reinforce trust silently, whereas for the disharmonic view they are salient objects of trust. The need for an over-arching articulation of these limited views is further highlighted by appeal to another distinction, between background and decision-based forms of trust. This paves the way to what is here termed a metaharmonic theory of trust, a theory sensitive to the difference between the contexts where trust phenomena reinforce or counterbalance one another.
L. Jaffro (2018). Locke and Port Royal on Affirmation, Negation, and Other ‘Postures of the Mind’. In M. Pécharman and P. Hamou (eds), Locke and Cartesian Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 172-185. https://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780198815037.001.0001/oso-9780198815037-chapter-11
The chapter claims that in order to understand Locke’s doctrine of assent, his philosophy of mind needs to be seen in conjunction with his philosophy of language, which in turn gains from being compared with Port-Royal’s logic and grammar. It points out two conflicting facts in Locke’s account of affirmation and negation in the Essay. First, Locke entrusts affirmation and negation with the task of signifying both the assertion by which we manifest our assent to a proposition and the junction or separation of the ideas constituting the proposition. The other fact is that Locke accepts a great variety of ways of considering a proposition. This diversity of ‘postures’ is poorly expressed by the limited number of syncategorematic terms, ‘particles’. The first fact fosters a one-act view of the assent we give to propositions. The second opens the way to a multiple-act view.
L. Jaffro (2018). Forgiveness and Weak Agency. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 118(1), 107-125. https://doi.org/10.1093/arisoc/aoy003
Forgiveness involves a process, not an isolated act or decision. The initial step lies within the voluntary control of the forgiver. The immediate outcome of the commitment to forgive is the formation of a new context that modifies some of the circumstances for the forgiver as well as for the wrongdoer. Further consequences, notably changes in the forgiver’s desires and feelings, cannot be brought about directly. A sound account of forgiveness should focus on its intertemporal structure and highlight the relation between the initial commitment and the subsequent process.
L. Jaffro (2018). Interactions en ligne et concept de confiance. In M. Doueihi and J. Domenicucci (eds), La confiance à l’ère numérique. Paris: Berger Levrault & éditions Rue d’Ulm, 33-62.
The chapter discusses the challenges of applying the concept of trust in the context of online interactions, and proceeds as follows: After an introductory section that combines methodological considerations with the presentation of the concept of practical trust, a second section defends the thesis that a form of trust, systemic trust, distinct from trust as a bet, is a major issue in online interactions; systemic trust is closely linked to epistemic trust. The final section shows how this analysis may shed new light on barriers to online trust and some practical as well as theoretical problems.