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PublicationFrancis Hutcheson: Why Be Moral?(2011-05-01) Paletta, DougLike all theories that account for moral motivation, Francis Hutcheson's moral sense theory faces two related challenges. The skeptical challenge calls into question what reasons an agent has to be moral at all. The priority challenge asks why an agent's reasons to be moral tend to outweigh her non-moral reasons to act. I argue a defender of Hutcheson can respond to these challenges by building on unique features of his account. She can respond to skeptical challenge by drawing a direct parallel between an agent's reasons to pursue natural, self-directed goods and her reasons to pursue moral goods. This parallel, however, makes establishing the significance of morality difficult. Given this difficulty, a separate aspect of Hutcheson's account, the additional weight given to benevolence in our assessment of mixed actions, can be used to respond to the priority challenge. PublicationEquality, Capability and Neurodiversity(2013-01-01) Paletta, DougThe challenges of neurodiversity have been most directly explored in debate around the demands of equality in a democracy. The debate roughly divides into two camps: democratic equality and the capabilities approach. Neurodiverstiy raises at least one central question that helps to think through the debate over these two conceptions of equality: how do different capabilities and differing levels of ability affect the demands of equality in country that prides itself on having free and equal citizens? Democratic equality, with its overt focus citizen’s role as a citizen, pays insufficient attention to individual’s neurological and psychological differences. The capabilities approach provides a better place to start in our theorizing about neurodiversity. By focusing on what individuals can do with resources in a particular context, it incorporates human variation as a starting point in the justice debate. Two questions, however, loom large. First, recognizing human variation will make some less independent, how should we determine who gets included as an equal member in society? Second, what limits, if any, are there on how many resources can justly be spent on the project of attaining equality? I suggest our best current approach brings together elements from the capabilities framework, thereby adopting a better framework for capturing neurodiversity, and an institutional approach more readily aligned with democratic equality, providing resources for a principled limit on the demands of justice. Using this framework I briefly argue for a presumption of inclusion and present several considerations to mitigate the worry about limits. PublicationThe Structural Competence of Contractualism(2014-06-01) Paletta, DougThe contractualist account of wrongness faces a family of objections that all aim to show that the account is explanatorily inadequate. These objections often level claims of circularity or redundancy, and interpreted as an internal challenge they present formal objections to the account of wrongness. If correct, they show that structurally contractualism fails to provide an independent account of wrongness because its determinations of wrongness necessarily rely on a non-contractual basis. Rather than respond to particular versions of these objections, I identify the elements of contractualism that may provide a basis for a charge of redundancy or circularity: the objections to a principle of action, the basis for assessing the objections and the reason-giving force of wrongness. Then, I show that accounting for the wrongness of an action at any of these stages either fails to capture the contractual account of wrongness or does not invoke a non-contractualist standard. Building on the ideal of justifiability, contractualists can provide an in principle response to these structural challenges. PublicationHow to Overcome Strawson’s Point: Defending a Value-Oriented Foundation for Contractualism(2011-10-01) Paletta, DougIn The Second Person Standpoint, Darwall charges that all value-oriented foundations for ethics make a category mistake. Calling it Strawson’s point, he argues these foundations explain moral authority, which concerns whether someone has standing to hold another accountable, in terms of a value, which essentially concerns what makes the world go best. However, whether it would be good for me to blame you simply asks a different question than whether I have standing to blame you. I defend a value-oriented foundation for contractualism by identifying one way to overcome Strawson’s point. At bottom, Darwall’s objection relies on the assumption that all values are world regarding. I argue that another class of values exists: second-personal values. Grounding morality in one of these values does not make the category mistake at the heart of Strawson’s point. In particular, I argue that grounding morality on one second personal value, the ideal of acting justifiably towards others, better captures traditional contractualist ideals than Darwall’s formal foundation.