Luis Cheng-Guajardo

Luis Cheng-Guajardo

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My general research interests are in the philosophy of action and agency, moral theory, and moral psychology. Currently, I am working on issues that pertain specifically to corporate agency and the potential for their moral responsibility. I also continue to research the various relations between normative demands and autonomous agency.

Journal Articles
The Normative Requirement of Means-end Rationality and Modest Bootstrapping
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, June 2014, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 487-503

Abstract: I show that we can do justice to our intuitions about the normative aspect of the requirement of means-end rationality in light of the challenges recently posed by the Myth theorists. I argue that, in order to explain why the person who takes means to his end is more rational than the person who does not, we do not need to appeal to coherence as such to avoid the conclusion that persons ought to take the means to whatever ends they happen to intend. The normative requirement of means-end rationality can be situated within an intuitive framework of normative reasons. I show that this allows us to meet the Strict Normative Demand criterion and provide a better explanation of a person's normative failure whenever she is means-end irrational than an appeal to the "coherence-as-such" of one's attitudes. On my view, persons have a normative reason to be means-end rational, where this consists in taking means to one's end, and the reason is that this is an expression of one's valuable autonomy.

Works in Progress
Responsibility Unincorporated: Corporate Agency and Moral Responsibility

Abstract: Individualists deny that corporations can be morally responsible for anything that they do. Collectivists affirm that corporations can meet necessary and jointly sufficient conditions to be morally responsible for their actions. Both Individualists and Collectivists have got something correct. The Individualists seem to be correct to claim that corporate enterprises are not morally responsible for their actions. The Collectivist may be correct in so far as she explains a "group mind," corporate agency and intentional action in functionalist terms. However, the Collectivist is mistaken in so far as she infers moral responsibility from the reality of corporate agency and the ability to intentionality act. In this paper I argue that the value-laden motivation that is often behind the view of the Individualist can be maintained even while granting the Collectivist her metaphysics. The upshot of the account that I advocate is that we can accept a form of Individualism without losing anything of value that the Collectivist is concerned to capture. A more thorough look at moral responsibility allows us to account for our reluctance to see corporate enterprises and their actions along the same lines of our own intentional actions. However, we can do this while also making sense of our everyday attributions of moral responsibility to corporations and the significance that they have in our lives.

Corporate Agency and the Problems of Rationality and Coercion

Abstract: Non-Redundant Realist views of group agency see the agency of some groups as irreducible to the agency of their individual members. Some corporations are considered to be such group agents, and therefore these corporations as supposed to be real agents in their own right that are capable of intentionally acting and being morally responsible for what they do. But Non-Redundant Realist views face two problems when they try to advance the claim that corporations can be morally responsible for what they do. In this paper I introduce and detail The Problem of Coercion and The Problem of Rationality. In the first case, I argue that a Non-Redundant Realist view cannot maintain both (a) that corporate actions are properly attributable to a group agent that is a feature of reality over and above the members that make it up, and (b) that these actions are sometimes un-coerced. Inescapable coercive force of the kind to which these agents are subject excuses them from the domain of moral responsibility. In the second case, I argue that the default normative element of requirements of rationality cannot be replicated by a group agent. Under plausible assumptions about the connections between rationality and an agent's responsiveness to reasons, it follows that group agents cannot appropriately respond to reasons, moral or otherwise. It follows from both problems that corporations cannot be morally responsible for their actions on a Non-Reductive Realist view. In light of these problems, I suggest an Authorization view of group and corporate agency that I think is more credible.

Rationality claims and reasons-responsiveness

Abstract: Philosophers who understand "rationality" in terms of reason-responsiveness need to solve a lingering puzzle about some of our ascriptions of "rationality" and "irrationality." Most people think that there is an additional normative failure on the part of a person, independent of the [de]merit of her end, if she fails to intend and take means to that bad end. This thought contributes to the idea that there is a requirement of "rationality" that is distinct from a person's responsiveness to normative reasons - e.g. some requirement to make our attitudes coherent with one another. Philosophers who think of rationality in terms of reason-responsiveness owe an explanation of this. Fortunately, such an explanation is available. Persons have a sophisticated capacity to consider the world as it might be but actually is not. Discrepancies in our normative outlooks lead to comparisons of different possible determinations of what people have reasons to do. I argue that our ascriptions to persons of "rationality" and "irrationality" are determined by these comparisons and reflect what are actually counterfactual judgments about what people have substantive reasons to do. The thought that a person is "irrational" reflects a complex normative judgment with something like the following content: If it were not the case that this person ought not to X, then she would intend and intentionally X. She would do this in so far as she does what it is that she has reason to do. Thus, what initially seem to be claims about incoherence of attitudes are actually claims about what reasons agents would have that are relativized to other possible normative outlooks. Rather than an incoherence of attitudes, the incoherence of "irrationality" is incoherence between mind and world.

The Practical Demand of Means-end Rationality
Stanford University, September 2013

Abstract: In this dissertation I provide a vindication of the normative requirement on persons to intend and take means to their ends. One basic intuition that we have is the thought that if a person is not intending or taking the means to an intended end of hers, then she is "irrational". Another basic intuition is that a requirement of rationality cannot be true if it simply entails that a person ought to take means to her ends. The tension between these two thoughts leads to the philosophical problem at the heart of this dissertation. That problem is to account for what we take to be a genuine requirement of "means-end rationality" that makes a normative demand on persons. In Part I, I clarify these intuitions and situate the problem within some appropriate constraints. I take as a backdrop very recent work of philosophers whom I call the "Myth Theorists". I show that the Myth Theorists are best understood as presenting those who accept the prevailing contemporary view of the requirement of means-end rationality with a challenge. I present this challenge in what I call the Argument of Superfluity. I show that the advocate of the prevailing view of the normative requirement of means-end rationality supports a "requirement" that appears to have no explanatory work to do in our attributions of "rationality" and "irrationality". I therefore go on to propose an account that allows us to salvage both of our basic intuitions while also incorporating lessons that we learn from the Myth Theorists. On the account that I offer, our decisions and intentions are significant in altering what it is that we have reason to do. Sometimes, but not always, they can determine what it is that we ought to do. The activity of persons therefore has a special significance on my view. The special significance of a person's intentional action is that it is the expression of a person taking something or other to be at least minimally worth bringing about. On my view, a person thereby has at least a pro tanto reason to intend and take the means that she believes are required to realize her end. I argue that satisfaction of the normative requirement of means-end rationality by a person just is the practical expression of her autonomy. In Part II of the dissertation, I distinguish between different conceptions that we have of "autonomy". I also show how two leading contemporary accounts take the normative requirement of means-end rationality to be grounded in the value of what turn out to be different conceptions of a person's autonomy. I argue that one of these conceptions of a person's "autonomy" does not allow us to resolve our philosophical problem while incorporating the lessons that we learn from the Myth Theorists. My account therefore emphasizes the importance of the form of autonomy that is anchored in our understanding of persons as accountable and responsible for their activity.