Ole Martin Moen I’m a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in philosophy at Center for the Study of Mind in Nature, University of Oslo. I work in ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of technology. Here's my CV. I'm @oleMMoen on Twitter.

Review of Peter Singer and Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek’s ‘The Point of View of the Universe’

Published in Utilitas (Cambridge University Press), 27 (1) 2015, 115–117. Penultimate draft.

One of Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer’s aims in The Point of View of the Universe: Sidgwick and Contemporary Ethics is ‘to enable you to appreciate Sidgwick’s thought without having to face the difficulties of reading all 500 pages of The Methods [of Ethics]’ (viii). Although Lazari-Radek and Singer themselves end up at 403 pages, they make Sidgwick’s ethical theory – including the finer details of that theory – significantly more accessible than it has hitherto been made. Importantly, however, The Point of View of The Universe is not just a book about Sidgwick. In each chapter, after presenting an aspect of Sidgwick’s ethics, the authors provide a tour of how this topic is discussed in contemporary philosophy. Finally, in response to contemporary challenges, Lazari-Radek and Singer provide an up-to-date defence of Sidgwick. On a systematic level, the book is a defence of hedonistic act-utilitarianism. …

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Oxford Practical Ethics Blog

I have recently written two blogposts for the Oxford Practical Ethics Blog:

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Anvendt etikk på Verdibørsen

Jeg har vært en del på Verdibørsen på NRK P2 den siste tiden. I 2014 var jeg med på fire episoder og diskuterte:

Fra og med januar 2015 har jeg vært fast medlem av Verdibørsens filosofpanel, sammen med filosofene Espen Gamlund og Kaja Melsom:

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Transhumanismens tidsalder


Av Ole Martin Moen. Publisert
Samtiden 4/2014 ss. 126-132.

En del konstanter har fulgt oss mennesker opp gjennom historien: Vi har fått genene våre som en følge av en rekke vilkårlige hendelser, slik som at foreldrene våre møttes der de gjorde og hadde samleie. Etter å ha blitt født har vi vokst opp, blitt eldre og til slutt dødd. I løpet av livet har vi hatt knapphet på mat og andre materielle goder, og har måttet arbeide for å fremskaffe ressursene vi trenger. Dette er en del av de fysiske og biologiske rammene for tilværelsen vår. Ulike religioner og kulturer har forstått disse rammene på ulike måter, og har satt dem inn i ulike sammenhenger. Rammene har likevel fulgt oss. …

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Debatter om surrogati og Downs syndrom

Jeg har nylig vært med i to bioetikkdebatter på NRK: én om surrogati på Dagsnytt Atten og én om Downs syndrom på Debatten:

Debatt om surrogati (klikk på bildet for å se debatten):

DagsnyttAtten

Debatt om Downs syndrom (klikk på bildet for å se debatten):

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Meningen med livet

Jeg er blitt intervjuet om meningen med livet av av Vårt land:

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Review of Michael Huemer’s ‘The Problem of Political Authority’

I have reviewed Michael Huemer’s latest book, The Problem of Political Authority, for Philosophical Quarterly (Vol. 64, No. 254). The book is a defense of libertarian anarchism. I’m impressed, but not convinced.

We are all against theft, extortion, and kidnapping. But when the state does strikingly similar things, and these are called expropriation, taxation, and imprisonment, our estimations change. The state and its agents, we think, may rightfully do many things that individual citizens may not do. What gives them this privilege? This is what Michael Huemer calls ‘the problem of political authority’ and, in his view, such authority does not exist.

Huemer examines the central justifications for political authority: actual and hypothetical social contract theories, democratic theories, consequentialist theories, and theories that appeal to fairness. He argues that they all fail and seeks support for this by appealing to widely shared intuitions about when we are justified in using coercion to reach our goals. …

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Problematisk menneskeverd

Jeg har anmeldt Morten Magelssens bok Menneskeverd i klinikk og politikk i nyeste utgave av Norsk filosofisk tidsskrift (nr 3-4, 2013, s. 315-17).

I Menneskeverd i klinikk og politikk tar Morten Magelssen for seg en rekke bioetiske temaer – abort, fosterdiagnostikk, assistert befruktning, eutanasi og legers reservasjonsrett – og nærmer seg disse fra et kristent ståsted, der det førende prinsippet er respekt for menneskeverd.

Boken forholder seg til bioetisk debatt, medisinsk debatt og pågående samfunnsdebatt, og henvender seg til etikere, leger og andre med interesse for bioetikk. I så måte er boken suksessfull. Den gir en lettfattelig innføring i emnene den diskuterer, og forfatteren bruker mye tid på å formulere problemstillinger klart og presist, redegjøre for rommet av mulige svar og drøfte disse systematisk. Flere argumenter som støtter forfatterens konklusjon, men som ikke holder mål, blir avvist, noe som gir boken troverdighet og tyngde som en filosofisk debattbok. …

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Den siste hedonist

Morgenbladet har intervjuet meg om doktoravhandlingen min (klikk på bildet for å lese hele intervjuet). Journalist Alfred Fidjestøl og jeg diskuterer hedonismens forhold til mye forskjellig, deriblant egoisme, språkfilosofi, rusmidler, miljø, sex, dyreveldferd og liberalisme.

En psykolog ved NTNU har kritisert meg i innlegget “Ole Martin Moens tre nydelige feil”.

Jeg svarer ham i “Filosofi, psykologi og hovmod”.

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Prostitution and harm: a reply to Anderson and McDougall

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jmeBy Ole Martin Moen. Published in Journal of Medical Ethics, 40 (2) 2014: 84-85. Penultimate draft.
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I agree with Scott A Anderson1 and Rosalind J McDougall2 that many prostitutes suffer significant harms, and that these harms must be taken seriously. Having a background in public outreach for sex workers, I share this concern wholeheartedly.

In the article to which Anderson and McDougall respond,3 I ask why prostitutes are harmed: are prostitutes harmed because prostitution itself is harmful or because of contingent ways in which prostitutes are socially and legally treated? This is an important question, since if the latter is the case, then the widespread moral and legal campaign against prostitution, rather than being a legitimate response to something harmful, is itself the source of much suffering and distress. In my article, I argue at length that it is indeed our social and legal treatment of prostitutes that is the dominant source of harm.

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Prostitution and sexual ethics: a reply to Westin

jmeBy Ole Martin Moen. Published in Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (2) 2014: 88. Penultimate draft.

In ‘Is prostitution harmful?’ I argue that if casual sex is acceptable, then so is prostitution.1 Anna Westin, in ‘The harms of prostitution: critiquing Moen’s argument of no-harm’, raises four objections to my view.2 Let me reply to these in turn.

Westin’s first objection is that it is ‘fundamentally problematic [to] categorise sexual ethics into merely two types’, the type that accepts casual sex and the type that does not. The reason why, she explains, is that this ‘incompletely frames the contemporary discourse in sexual ethics’. She points to the views of Linda McDowell, Roger Scruton, Raja Halwani and the Roman Catholic Church to illustrate the breadth of contemporary ethical theorising about sex.

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Is prostitution harmful?

My article on prostitution, titled “Is Prostitution Harmful?”  (PDF), has now been published (Open Access) by Journal of Medical Ethics. Here’s the abstract:

A common argument against prostitution states that selling sex is harmful because it involves selling something deeply personal and emotional. More and more of us, however, believe that sexual encounters need not be deeply personal and emotional in order to be acceptable—we believe in the acceptability of casual sex. In this paper I argue that if casual sex is acceptable, then we have few or no reasons to reject prostitution. I do so by first examining nine influential arguments to the contrary. These arguments purport to pin down the alleged additional harm brought about by prostitution (compared to just casual sex) by appealing to various aspects of its practice, such as its psychology, physiology, economics and social meaning. For each argument I explain why it is unconvincing. I then weight the costs against the benefits of prostitution, and argue that, in sum, prostitution is no more harmful than a long line of occupations that we commonly accept without hesitation.

Three peer reviewed commentary articles, by Scott A. AndersonRosalind McDougall, and Anna Westin, have now been published. I reply to Anderson and McDougall here, and Westin here.

The article has generated some online debate. Most interesting is series of three blogposts (part 1, part2, part 3) by legal scholar John Danahar (Keele), who discusses my argument in great detail. Here’s a story at BioEdge.

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The Unity and Commensurability of Pleasures and Pains

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Ole Martin Moen, Univ. of Oslo. Forthcoming in Philosophia (Springer).
ABSTRACT: In this paper I seek to answer two interrelated questions about pleasures and pains: (i) The question of unity: Do all pleasures share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pleasures, and do all pains share a single quality that accounts for why these, and only these, are pains? (ii) The question of commensurability: Are all pleasures and pains rankable on a single, quantitative hedonic scale? I argue that our intuitions draw us in opposing directions: On the one hand, pleasures and pains seem unified and commensurable; on the other hand, they do not. I further argue that neither intuition can be abandoned, and examine three different paths to reconciliation. The first two are response theory and split experience theory. Both of these, I argue, are unsuccessful. A third path, however—which I label “dimensionalism” —succeeds. Dimensionalism is the theory that pleasure and pain have the ontological status as opposite sides of a hedonic dimension along which experiences vary. This view has earlier been suggested by C. D. Broad, Karl Duncker, Shelly Kagan, and John Searle, but it has not been worked out in detail. In this paper I work out the dimensionalist view in some detail, defend it, and explain how it solves the problem of the unity and commensurability of pleasures and pains.

Introduction: Two Opposing Intuitions

Think of these three pleasurable experiences: The taste of ice cream, the feeling of being loved, and the excitement of reading a detective story. Do these experiences share a single quality that accounts for why they are all pleasures? Similarly, think of these three painful experiences: The searing burn after having touched a hot stove, the sting of a pinprick, and the feel of a pressing headache. Do these experiences share a single quality that accounts for why they are all pains? This is the problem of pleasure and pain unity. Moreover: Are all pleasures and all pains rankable on a single, quantitative hedonic scale? This is the problem of pleasure and pain commensurability. These two problems—which, as we shall see, are closely interrelated—are jointly the topic of this paper.

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Hedonismens historie

.Av Ole Martin Moen

Hvilke ting i livet er verdt å ha, ikke bare som midler henimot andre mål, men som mål i seg selv? Hedonisme er teorien om at bare én ting er verdt å ha som et mål i seg selv – nytelse (gr. hēdonē) – og bare én ting verdt å unngå som et mål i seg selv – smerte. Hedonister trenger ikke å benekte at slike ting som kunnskap, vennskap, ære, helse og rettferdighet er genuint verdifulle. Det eneste hedonister må benekte, er at disse er verdifulle for sin egen del. Ifølge hedonister har disse, og alt annet i livet, verdi bare som midler henimot målet å fremme nytelse og unngå smerte.

I én forstand er hedonismen en radikal posisjon. Kan virkelig alt av verdi være reduserbart til nytelse og smerte? Hadde en verden uten nytelse og smerte vært en verden helt uten verdier? I en annen forstand er hedonismen en plausibel posisjon, for det er noe unektelig godt og bra over nytelse, og noe ondt og dårlig over smerte – og innenfor rammene av et sekulært verdensbilde er det ikke åpenbart hva annet som kan gi opphav til godt og ondt.

Hedonismen er en svært utbredt og svært kontroversiell etisk teori i idéhistorien: Platon og Aristoteles diskuterer hedonisme inngående, Epikur forsvarte hedonisme og de klassiske utilitaristene var hedonister. Målet med denne artikkelen er å trekke de lange linjene i hedonismens historie. …

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