My aim in this article is to argue that Philippa Foot fails to provide a convincing basis for moral evaluation in her book Natural Goodness. Foot’s proposal fails because her conception of natural goodness and defect in human beings either sanctions prescriptive claims that are clearly objectionable or else it inadvertently begs the question of what constitutes a good human life by tacitly appealing to an independent ethical standpoint to sanitize the theory’s normative implications. Foot’s appeal to natural facts about (...) human goodness is in this way singled out as an Achilles’ heel that undermines her attempt to establish an independent framework for virtue ethics. This problem might seem to be one that is uniquely applicable to the bold naturalism of Foot’s methodology; however, I claim that the problem is indicative of a more general problem for all contemporary articulations of virtue ethics.Je soutiens dans cet article que, dans son livre, Natural Goodness, Philippa Foot ne parvient pas à fournir de fondement convainquant à l’evaluation morale. Son argumentation échoue parce que sa conception des qualités et des défauts naturels, soit sanctionne des jugements prescriptifs qui sont manifestement susceptibles d’étre rejetés, soit commet par mégarde une pétition de principe en définissant ce qu’est la bonne vie morale au moyen d’une référence implicite à un point de vue éthique indépendant servant à assainir les implications normatives de la théorie en question. L’utilisation que Foot fait des données de la nature sur l’excellence humaine est ainsi identifi’e comme le talon d’Achille de sa théorie qui ruine sa tentative d’établir un cadre indépendant pour l’éthique de la vertu. Ce problème pourrait paraître concerner uniquement la méthodologie de Foot et son naturalisme radical. J’affirme cependant qu’il est le signe d’un problème plus general pour toutes les formulationscontemporaines de l’éthique de la vertu. (shrink)
The Clarke-Collins correspondence was widely read and frequently printed during the 18th century. Its central topic is the question whether matter can think, or be conscious. Samuel Clarke defends the immateriality of the subject of the mental against Anthony Collins’ materialism. This paper examines important assumptions about the nature of body that play a role in their debate. Clarke argued that consciousness requires an “individual being”, an entity with some sort of significant unity as its subject. They agree that body (...) does not have this type of unity, because it consists of actually distinct parts. (shrink)
This paper offers an expressivist account of logical form, arguing that in order to fully understand it one must examine what valid arguments make us do (or: what Achilles does and the Tortoise doesn’t, in Carroll’s famed fable). It introduces Charles Peirce’s distinction between symbols, indices and icons as three different kinds of signification whereby the sign picks out its object by learned convention, by unmediated indication, and by resemblance respectively. It is then argued that logical form is represented by (...) the third, iconic, kind of sign. It is noted that icons uniquely enjoy partial identity between sign and object, and argued that this holds the key to Carroll’s puzzle. Finally, from this examination of sign-types metaphysical morals are drawn: that the traditional foes metaphysical realism and conventionalism constitute a false dichotomy, and that reality contains intriguingly inference-binding structures. (shrink)
It is widely held that the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, introduced by Zeno of Elea around 460 B.C., was solved by mathematical advances in the nineteenth century. The techniques of Weierstrass, Dedekind and Cantor made it clear, according to this view, that Achilles’ difficulty in traversing an infinite number of intervals while trying to catch up with the tortoise does not involve a contradiction, let alone a logical absurdity. Yet ever since the nineteenth century there have been dissidents (...) claiming that the apparatus of Weierstrass et al. has not resolved the paradox, and that serious problems remain. It seems that these claims have received unexpected support from recent developments in mathematical physics. This support has however remained largely unnoticed by historians of philosophy, presumably because the relevant debates are cast in mathematical-technical terms that are only accessible to people with the relevant training. That is unfortunate, since the debates in question might well profit from input by philosophers in general and historians of philosophy in particular. Below we will first recall the Achilles paradox, and describe the way in which nineteenth century mathematics supposedly solved it. Then we discuss recent work that contests this solution, reiterating the dissident dogma that no mathematical approach whatsoever can even come close to solving the original Achilles. We shall argue that this dissatisfaction with a mathematical solution is inadequate as it stands, but that it can perhaps be reformulated in the light of new developments in mathematical physics. (shrink)
Nietzsche penetrates behind any rational discussion to its affective ground, but though he goes deeper than Gadamer's fusion of horizons, he nevertheless fails to acknowledge any other affective disposition besides the will to power. Hence for him Gadamer's Sichverständigung, or reaching an understanding, is fiction. In contrast, Gadamer's Zugehörigkeit, a sense of kinship, and Nachlassen, relenting, suggest not only the possibility of reaching an understanding but its real, affective ground. Two passages from Homer's Iliad illustrate how Nietzsche might penetrate behind (...) Gadamer's intellectualism yet how, at the same time, Gadamer ultimately gets beyond Nietzsche. In Book I, Achilles and Agamemnon can get no further than strife because of their pathos of rage and hostility. Here Nietzsche's will to power explains their altercation entirely. On the other hand, when Achilles is confronted with the devastated Priam in book XXIV, philia and eleos, kinship and mercy, replace his anger; and with the corresponding affective shift in Priam from fear of Achilles to his own feelings of kinship and forgiveness, antipathy becomes sympathy. Only this fusion of affect allows them to reach an understanding. (shrink)
A recent thought experiment has shed interesting new light on the core problem of Zeno’s Achilles. A ball apparently can, and cannot collide with an infinite, open set of balls. It is the purpose of this paper to make the new development accessible to the general philosophical community and to suggest a direction in which the problem may perhaps be solved.
The five participants in this dialogue critically discuss Zeno of Elea's paradox of Achilles and the tortoise. They consider a number of solutions to and restatements of the paradox, together with their philosophical implications. Among the issues investigated include the appearance-reality distinction, Aristotle's distinction between actual and potential infinity, the concept of a continuum, Cantor's continuum hypothesis and theory of transfinite ordinals, and, as a solution to Zeno's puzzle, the distinction between infinite and indeterminate or inexhaustible divisibility.
Continuing the conversation between Achilles and the tortoise begun by Carroll, this paper proves that, in a supertask context, there are free actions (in general, contingent states of affairs) that can be predicted by means of purely logical reasons.
This article examines social interaction in Homer in the light of modern conversation analysis, especially Grice's theory of conversational implicature. Some notoriously problematic utterances are explained in terms of their 'off-record' significance. One particular off-record conversation strategy is characterized by Homer as kertomia, and this is discussed in detail. The article focusses on social problems at the end of Achilles' meeting with Priam in Iliad 24,. and in particular on the much-discussed word "epikertoméon" (24.649).
This article examines social interaction in Homer in the light of modern conversation analysis, especially Grice's theory of conversational implicature. Some notoriously problematic utterances are explained in terms of their significance. One particular off-record conversation strategy is characterized by Homer as kertomia, and this is discussed in detail. The article focusses on social problems at the end of Achilles' meeting with Priam in Iliad 24, and in particular on the much-discussed word (24.649).
In the article three Zeno's paradoxes are reconstructed. They are: „Achilles and the turtle”, „Arrow” and „Stadium”. Together with the paradox of „Dichotomy” (which was analysed by the author elsewhere) they form the question about the nature of continuum. In the paper the following hypothesis is accepted: „Dichotomy” is principally connected with the mathematical theory of continuum, whereas other paradoxes concern the application of this theory to the description of physical motion.
As a theory of reasoning, logic has—or ought to have—nothing to do with metaphysics. It ought to have nothing to do with questions concerning what there is, or whether there is anything at all. It is precisely because of its metaphysical commitments that Aristotelian syllogistics, for example, was eventually deemed inadequate as a canon of pure logical reasoning. The inference from an A-form statement such as (1) All humans are mortal to the corresponding I-form statement, (2) Some humans are mortal, (...) is syllogistically valid. But it depends on the existence of humans beings and should not, therefore, count as valid as a matter of pure logic. (It depends on the existence of human beings because, in a world with no such beings, (2) would be false whereas (1) would be true, although vacuously.) Likewise, modern quantification theory1 has been found inadequate insofar as it sanctions as valid the inference from a universal statement such as (3) Everything is mortal to the corresponding existential statement (4) Something is mortal, whose truth-conditions, unlike those of (3), appear to clash with the metaphysical possibility that there is nothing at all. It also sanctions as valid the inference from (3) to any of its substitution instances, such as.. (shrink)
A critical survey of the main philosophical theories about events and event talk, organized in three main sections: (i) Events and Other Categories (Events vs. Objects; Events vs. Facts; Events vs. Properties; Events vs. Times); (ii) Types of Events (Activities, Accomplishments, Achievements, and States; Static and Dynamic Events; Actions and Bodily Movements; Mental and Physical Events); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
A critical survey of the main theories about vagueness, organized in four main sections: (i) What is vagueness? (ii) Problems and paradoxes; (iii) Theories of vagueness; (iv) Vagueness and cognitive science.
Abstract. As a general theory of reasoning—and as a general theory of what holds true under every possible circumstance—logic is supposed to be ontologically neutral. It ought to have nothing to do with questions concerning what there is, or whether there is anything at all. It is for this reason that traditional Aristotelian logic, with its tacit existential presuppositions, was eventually deemed inadequate as a canon of pure logic. And it is for this reason that modern quantification theory, too, with (...) its residue of existentially loaded theorems and patterns of inference, has been claimed to suffer from a defect of logical purity. The law of non-contradiction rules out certain circumstances as impossible—circumstances in which a statement is both true and false, or perhaps circumstances where something both is and is not the case. Is this to be regarded as a further ontological bias? (shrink)
In recent years the idea that an adequate semantics of ordinary language calls for some theory of events has sparked considerable debate among linguists and philosophers. Speaking of Events offers a vivid and up-to-date indication of this debate, with emphasis precisely on the interplay between linguistic applications and philosophical implications. Each chapter has been written expressly for this volume by leading authors in the field, including Nicholas Asher, Pier Marco Bertinetto, Johannes Brandl, Denis Delfitto, Regine Eckardt, James Higginbotham, Alessandro Lenci, (...) Terence Parsons, Alice ter Meulen, and Henk Verkuyl. (shrink)
According to a certain, familiar way of dividing up the business of philosophy, made popular by Quine, ontology is concerned with the question of what there is (a task that is often identified with that of drafting a “complete inventory” of the universe) whereas metaphysics is concerned with the question of what it is (i.e., with the task of specifying the “ultimate nature” of the items included in the inventory).1 For instance, a thesis to the effect that there are such (...) things as colors or virtues would strictly speaking belong to ontology, whereas it would pertain to metaphysics proper to establish whether such entities are Platonic forms, Aristotelian universals, tropes, moments, or what have you. Likewise, it would fall within the scope of ontology to determine whether, when we speak of Sherlock Holmes, of the natural numbers, or of Sebastian’s walks in Bologna, we are speaking of things that truly belong to the furniture of the universe, but it would be a further metaphysical task to say something precise in regard to the ultimate make-up of those things, if such there be—for instance, that Sherlock Holmes is a theoretical artifact, that numbers are abstract individuals, that walks are property exemplifications, and so on. Of course, this view is all but universal among philosophers. There are many other, different ways of understanding the terms ‘ontology’ and ‘metaphysics’, some of which can certainly claim a respectable pedigree. For example, it is also common to think of ontology as a proper part of metaphysics—that part that has to do with what there is2—and there are even philosophers who use those terms in a way that is the exact opposite of the one I have just offered.3 But never mind; I am not interested in defending the view or in criticizing it, as very little depends on it. I am citing it just to fix a certain distinction and to settle on a terminology. The question I wish to address concerns the relationship between the distinction—the relationship between ontology understood as the study of what there is and metaphysics understood as the study of what it is.. (shrink)
A critical review of the main themes arising out of recent literature on the semantics of ordinary event talk. The material is organized in four sections: (i) the nature of events, with emphasis on the opposition between events as particulars and events as universals; (ii) identity and indeterminacy, with emphasis on the unifier/multiplier controversy; (iii) events and logical form, with emphasis on Davidson’s treatment of the form of action sentences; (iv) linguistic applications, with emphasis on issues concerning aspectual phenomena, the (...) telicity/atelicity distinction, the treatment of statives, and temporal quantification. (shrink)
There are two main ways, philosophically, of characterizing the business of ontology, and it is good practice to try and keep them separate. On one account, made popular by Quine, ontology is concerned with the question of what there is. Since to say that there are things that are not would be selfcontradictory, Quine famously pronounced that such a question can be answered in a single word—‘Everything’. However, to say ‘Everything’ is to say nothing. It is merely to say that (...) there is what there is, unless one goes on to specify the population of the domain over which one quantifies—and here there is plenty of room for disagreement. You may think that ‘everything’ covers particulars as well as universals, I may think that it only covers the former; you may think that the domain includes abstract particulars along with concrete ones, I may think that it only includes the latter; and so on. Exactly how such disagreements can be framed is itself a rather intricate question, as is the question of how one goes about figuring out one’s own views on such matters. But some way or other we all have beliefs of this sort, at least as soon as we start philosophizing about the world, and to work out such beliefs is to engage in ontological inquiries. The other way of characterizing ontology stems from a different concern, and made its way into our times through Brentano and his pupils. On this second account, the task of ontology is not to specify what there is but, rather, to lay bare the formal structure of all there is, whatever it is. Regardless of whether our domain of quantification includes universals along with particulars, abstract entities along with concrete ones, and so on, it must exibit some general features and obey some general laws, and the task of ontology would be to figure out such features and laws. For instance, it would pertain to the task of ontology to assert that every entity, no matter what it is, is self-identical, or that no entity can consist of a single proper part, or that some entity can depend on another only if the latter does not depend on the former.. (shrink)
William Paley in his famous statement in 1800 of the Argument from Design, imagined that he found a watch lying on a heath and set to wondering how it came to be there. “The inference is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which.
Events are center stage in several fields of psychological research. There is a long tradition in the study of event perception, event recognition, event memory, event conceptualization and segmentation. There are studies devoted to the description of events in language and to their representation in the brain. There are also metapsychological studies aimed at assessing the nature of mental events or the grounding of intentional action. Outside psychology, the notion of an event plays a prominent role in various areas of (...) philosophy, from metaphysics to the philosophy of action and mind, as well as in such diverse disciplines as linguistics, literary theory, probability theory, artificial intelligence, physics, and—of course—history. This plethora of concerns and applications is indicative of the prima facie centrality of the notion of an event in our conceptual scheme, but it also gives rise to some important methodological questions. Can we identify a core notion that is preserved across disciplines? Does this notion, or some such notion, correspond to the pre-theoretical conception countenanced by common sense? Does it correspond to a genuine metaphysical category? (shrink)
Though it is standardly assumed that supervaluationism applied to vagueness is committed to global validity, Achille Varzi (2007) argues that the supervaluationist should take seriously the idea of adopting local validity instead. Varzi’s motivation for the adoption of local validity is largely based on two objections against the global notion: that it brings some counterexamples to classically valid rules of inference and that it is inconsistent with unrestricted higher-order vagueness. In this discussion I review these objections and point out (...) ways to address them not considered in Varzi’s paper. (shrink)
We can see mereology as a theory of parthood and topology as a theory of wholeness. How can these be combined to obtain a unified theory of parts and wholes? This paper examines various non-equivalent ways of pursuing this task, with specific reference to its relevance to spatio-temporal reasoning. In particular, three main strategies are compared: (i) mereology and topology as two independent (though mutually related) chapters; (ii) mereology as a general theory subsuming topology; (iii) topology as a general theory (...) subsuming mereology. Some more speculative strategies and directions for further research are also considered. (shrink)
Supervaluationism is often described as the most popular semantic treatment of indeterminacy. There’s little consensus, however, about how to fill out the barebones idea to include a characterization of logical consequence. In a recent paper, Achille Varzi writes: it is pretty clear that there is not just one supervaluational semantics out there–there are lots of such semantics; and although it is true that they all exploit the same insight, their relative differences are by no means immaterial . . . (...) a lot depends on how a given supervaluationally machinery is brought into play when it comes to explaining the logic of the language. (Varzi, forthcoming, p.463) The ‘supervaluational machinery’ to be discussed here is the idea of a supervaluational model defined below. Varzi highlights the fact that that all sorts of properties of sequents that are candidates for the name ‘validity’ can be defined using the resources of supervaluational models. (shrink)
Little Johnny: “Can we be punished for something we have not done?” Mother: “Of course not!” Johnny: “Good—because I didn’t turn off the gas…” At this point Johnny smiles and thinks he got away with it. Unfortunately, his mother is smarter than he expected. “I said we cannot be punished for something we have not done”, she says, “but certainly we can be punished for not having done something”.
Mereology (from the Greek μερος, ‘part’) is the theory of parthood relations: of the relations of part to whole and the relations of part to part within a whole. Its roots can be traced back to the early days of philosophy, beginning with the Presocratic atomists and continuing throughout the writings of Plato (especially the Parmenides and the Thaetetus), Aristotle (especially the Metaphysics, but also the Physics, the Topics, and De partibus animalium ), and Boethius (especially In Ciceronis Topica ). (...) Mereology has also occupied a prominent role in the writings of medieval ontologists and scholastic philosophers such as Garland the Computist, Peter Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, Raymond Lull, and Albert of Saxony, as well as in Jungius's.. (shrink)
If we adopt a supervaluational semantics for vagueness, what sort of logic results? As it turns out, the answer depends crucially on how the standard notion of validity as truth preservation is recast. There are several ways of doing this within a supervaluational framework, the main alternative being between 'global' construals (e.g. an argument is valid if and only if it preserves truth-under-all-precisifications) and 'local' construals (an argument is valid if and only if, under all precisifications, it preserves truth). The (...) former alternative is by far more popular, but I argue in favour of the latter, for (i) it does not suffer from a number of serious objections, and (ii) it makes it possible to restore global validity as a defined notion. (shrink)