This book explores the possible relations between Western types of rationality and Buddhism. It also examines some cliche;s about Buddhism and questions the old antinomies of Western culture (“faith and reason,” or “idealism and materialism”). The use of the Buddhist notion of the Two Truths as a hermeneutic device leads to a double or multiple exposure that will call into question our mental habits and force us to ask questions differently, to think “in a new key.” Double Exposure is somewhat (...) of an oddity. Written by a specialist for nonspecialists, it is not a book of vulgarization. Although it aims at a better integration of Western and Buddhist thought, it is not an exercise in comparative philosophy or religion. It is neither a contribution to Buddhist scholarship in the narrow sense, nor a contribution to some vague Western “spirituality.” Cutting across traditional disciplines and blurring established genres, it provides a leisurely but deeply insightful stroll through philosophical and literary texts, dreams, poetry, and paradoxes. (shrink)
A mass balance based model has been derived to represent the dynamical behavior of the ecosystem contained in an anaerobic digester. The model considers two bacterial populations: acidogenic and methanogenic bacteria. It forms the basis for the design of a software sensor considering both a model of the biological system and on-line gaseous measurements. The software sensor computes the concentration of inorganic carbon and volatile fatty acids (VFA) in the digester. Another software sensor is dedicated to the estimation of the (...) bacterial biomasses. The predictions of the software sensors for a real experiment are very close to the actual off-line measurements. The software sensors monitor the accumulation of VFA and thus very early detect a destabilization of the digester due to overloading. The presented methodology demonstrates the usefulness of advanced monitoring techniques for an improved understanding of the internal working of a biological system. (shrink)
As a response to what I see as the challenge posed by constructivist and narrative pedagogies, this paper seeks to sympathetically reconstruct Bernard Williams' Absolute Conception from the scattered texts in which he briefly sketched it. While ultimately defending the Absolute Conception or something close enough to it, the paper criticizes and distances itself from some aspects of Williams' version, notably his conception of philosophy as insurmountably perspectival. Williams' understanding of perspectival knowledge as contrasted to absolute knowledge is illustrated (...) with the concrete, if fictional case of the Dr Manhattan character from Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009). Adrian Moore's reading, and Hilary Putnam's criticisms of Williams' Absolute Conception are amongst the positions engaged with. (shrink)
Research in modern biology has largely been developed according to two main ways of inquiry, as they were outlined by Charles Darwin and Claude Bernard. Each stands for a specific approach to the living corresponding to two different methodological rules: the principle of natural selection and the principle of causation.
An important shift occurs in Martin Heidegger’s thinking one year after the publication of Being and Time , in the Appendix to the Metaphysical Foundations of Logic . The shift is from his project of fundamental ontology—which provides an existential analysis of human existence on an ontological level—to metontology . Metontology is a neologism that refers to the ontic sphere of human experience and to the regional ontologies that were excluded from Being and Time. It is within metontology, Heidegger states, (...) that “the question of ethics may be raised for the first time.” This paper makes explicit both Heidegger’s argument for metontology , and the relation between metontology and ethics. In examining what he means by “the art of existing,” the paper argues that there is an ethical dimension to Heidegger’s thinking that corresponds to a moderate form of moral particularism. In order to justify this position, a comparative analysis is made between Heidegger, Aristotle, and Bernard Williams. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is one of the most influential figures in recent ethical theory, where he has set a considerable part of the current agenda. In this collection, a distinguished international team of philosophers who have been stimulated by Williams' work give new responses to it. The topics covered include equality, consistency, comparisons between science and ethics, integrity, moral reasons, the moral system, and moral knowledge. Williams himself then provides a substantial reply, which in turn shows both the current directions (...) of his own thought and also his present view of his earlier work (such as that on utilitarianism). (shrink)
: A central component of Bernard Williams' political realism is the articulation of a standard of legitimacy from within politics itself: LEG. This standard is presented as basic, inherent in all political orders and the best way to underwrite fundamental liberal principles particular to the modern state, including basic human rights. It does not require, according to Williams, a wider set of liberal values. In the following, I show that where Williams restricts LEG to generating only minimal political protections, (...) seeking to isolate his account of political legitimacy from a range of liberal principles, this is neither internal to, nor necessarily demanded by, the specifically political account of LEG. Instead, the limitation depends upon his wider ethical thought. (shrink)
Abstract. In the last decades, several rapprochements have been made between quantum physics and the Advaita Vedānta (AV) school of Hinduism. Theoretical issues such as the role of the observer in measurement and physical interconnectedness have been associated with tenets of AV, generating various critical responses. In this study, I propose to address this encounter in the light of recent works on philosophical implications of quantum physics by the physicist and philosopher of science Bernard d’Espagnat.
Claude Bernard, the father of scientific physiology, believed that if medicine was to become truly scientiifc, it would have to be based on rigorous and controlled animal experiments. Bernard instituted a paradigm which has shaped physiological practice for most of the twentieth century. ln this paper we examine how Bernards commitment to hypothetico-deductivism and determinism led to (a) his rejection of the theory of evolution; (b) his minima/ization of the role of clinical medicine and epidemiological studies; and (c) (...) his conclusion that experiments on nonhuman animals were, "entirely conclusive for the toxicology and hygiene of man". We examine some negative consequences of Bernardianism for twentieth century medicine, and argue that physio/ogy's continued adherence to Bernardianism has caused it to diverge from the other biological sciences which have become increasingly infused with evolutionary theory. (shrink)
ALTHOUGH THERE is no direct dependence of Bernard Lonergan upon Edmund HusserI in the manner, say, of Husserl himself upon Franz Brentano, there are nonetheless points of similarity and contrast between them. It would be possible to list these matching points singly on their own, such as Epoche and self-appropriation, Erlebnis and consciousness, monad and subject, Anschauung and affirmation. However, besides and beneath these individual points of similarity and contrast, lying as their basis, there is similarity and contrast at (...) the level of the fundamental conceptions of the two philosophers. Husserl and Lonergan share a common problematic: the structure of intentionality. If intentionality is the common problematic where Husserl and Lonergan meet, one might ask if and how various notions of theirs viewed in relation to intentionality are common or divergent. For the sake of comparison-confrontation, one might take the two central notions, Anschauung (intuition) in Husserl and affirmation in Lonergan, and inspect some of the implications they have for the two philosophers. Husserl calls intuition the "principle of all principles for his phenomenology." For his part, Lonergan conceives of affirmation as the culmination of the knowing process. Intuition and affirmation have analogous roles. For Husserl it is through intuition that cognition attains what is real, whereas for Lonergan it is through affirmation. The comparison-confrontation between Husserl and Lonergan can be summed up in terms of the three questions that Lonergan sets up to mark off the range of human knowing. First, what happens when one knows? Secondly, why is doing that knowing? Thirdly, what does one know when he does it? Husserl and Lonergan would seem closest in their approach to answering question one. However, they would part company in their answers to questions two and three, for here intuition and affirmation essentially determine what kind of an answer can be given. This paper will work within the brackets of these three questions. (shrink)
This paper provides a reading of the opera criticism of Bernard Williams in the light of his philosophical writings. Beginning with the observations that his philosophical writing lacks engagement with musical and aesthetic issues, and his operatic writing appears to present no particular philosophy of the subject, I try to draw together certain themes by mapping Williams's operatic concerns onto his philosophical project more generally. I argue that the 'excessive' nature of the artform—the idea that opera tends to exceed (...) its musico-dramatic functions—was of particular interest to Williams, partly because it resonated with his dislike of easy theoretical solutions to thorny practical issues. More specifically, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte is related, via the way the way its emotional register exceeds its dramatic context, to the issues examined by Williams in his work on moral luck. Similarly, I discuss the way Williams's essay on Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande seems to hint at an account of the emotions which is otherwise missing from Williams's oeuvre. (shrink)
Luck, Value, and Commitment comprises eleven new essays which engage with, or take their point of departure from, the influential work in moral and political philosophy of Bernard Williams (1929-2003).
Bernard E. Rollin: Putting the Horse Before Descartes: My Life’s Work on Behalf of Animals Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-6 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9316-4 Authors Lantz Miller, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
This paper represents a preliminary investigation relating Bernard Lonergan’s thought to health science and the healing arts. First, I provide background for basic elements of Lonergan’s theoretical terminology that I employ. As inquiry is the engine of Lonergan’s method, next I specify two questions that underlie medical insights and define several terms, including health, disease, and illness, in relation to these questions. Then I expand the frame of reference to include all disciplines involved in the cycle of clinical interaction (...) under the heading health science and the healing arts. Finally, I analyze the cycle of clinical interaction in terms of Lonergan’s cognitive theory. I compare and contrast my analysis, based on Lonergan, with that of Pellegrino, Thomasma and Sulmasy as I proceed. In closing, I comment briefly on the next stage of this project regarding Lonergan’s theory of the human good in relation to the practice of the healing arts. (shrink)
On the basis of his acquaintance with theoretical elementary particle physics, and following the lead of Thomas Torrance, John Polkinghorne maintains that the data upon which a science is based, and the method by which it treats those data, must respect the idiosyncratic nature of the object with which the science is concerned. Polkinghorne calls this the "accommodation" (or "conformity") of a discipline to its object. The question then arises: What should we expect religious experience and theological method to be (...) like if they are accommodated to the idiosyncratic nature of God? Polkinghorne's methodological program is typical of postcritical positions in the theology-science dialogue in holding that the fiduciary element in theological method is simply a species of the fiduciary element that is a de facto part of all knowing—in other words, theological method does not differ in fundamental kind from the methods of the natural sciences. But this program may contain the seeds of an alienation of theological method from the transcendence of God similar to the double self-alienation of theology described by Michael Buckley in At the Origins of Modern Atheism. I contend that something like Bernard Lonergan's position on how the method of faith seeking understanding is related to the methods of the natural sciences is exactly the sort of thing that one should expect on the supposition of Polkinghorne's principle of accommodation, at least if the God who is the object of theological science is transcendent. The way in which the divine differs from all other objects ought to be disclosed or reflected in religious experience and theological method. Polkinghorne charts the course for an accommodated theology, but it seems to be Lonergan who is more intent on following it. (shrink)
Bernard MacDougall Loomer (1912–1985) is well known for his influence on process theology, or as he preferred, “process-relational” theology. Less well known is his interpretation of the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and its influence in the promotion of that philosophy not only among his students but also more recently beyond that circle. He presents his own views as one who has made Whitehead’s his own. Yet he is not uncritical of Whitehead. He has articulated an empirical naturalism (...) in Whiteheadian terms that is theistic and controversial by that fact. The analysis of his interpretation of Whitehead allows us to probe his theistic naturalism and to identify new possibilities in the .. (shrink)
Raymund Schwager SJ suggested a dramatic way of looking at the Christ event, as recorded in the New Testament, in order to clarify the meaning of it and provide a coherent picture. Bernard Lonergan SJ developed a theological methodology for our day. In this article, the author tries to determine how Schwager's approach relates to Lonergan's methodology. He wants to investigate the question: what functional specialty is Schwager engaged in in his main work? The answer shall be that this (...) is foundations. The author of the article proceeds by (1) introducing the most important elements of Schwager's dramatic understanding of the Christ event and (2) of Lonergan's methodology, and then by linking them with one another; (3) he will try to show how Schwager's subdivision of the Christ event into five acts brings out the contours of Jesus' struggle with his opponents as an instance of dialectic in Lonergan's sense; (4) that the Easter experience will be construed as a new, foundational, act that objectifies conversion to human authenticity; and that (5) by discerning all this in the Christ event dramatic theology defines soteriology as the horizon within which Christian doctrines and systematics have to stand and elucidates the way soteriology should be construed; that way dramatic theology determines itself as a foundational enterprise. For the author of the article, this constitutes an exemplary case of the genesis of special theological categories. /// Segundo o artigo, Raymund Schwager SJ propôs um modo dramático de encarar o acontecimento crístico, tal como o mesmo nos é relatado nos textos do Novo Testamento, em ordem a clarificar o seu sentido e a oferecer-nos uma imagem coerente do mesmo. Por seu lado, Bernard Lonergan SJ desenvolveu uma metodologia teológica adequada às exigências do nosso tempo. Assim, o autor do artigo propõe-se determinar de que modo a abordagem de Schwager está relacionada com a metodologia de Lonergan. O seu objectivo é investigar a seguinte questão: qual é a especialidade funcional com que Schwager se compromete na sua principal obra? A resposta será que se trata das fundações. Com isso, o artigo desenvolve-se da seguinte maneira: (1) introdução dos elementos mais importantes na compreensão dramática de Schwager acerca do acontecimento crístico; (2) introdução dos elementos mais importantes da metodologia lonerganiana, para depois os relacionar um ao outro; (3) mostrar de que modo a subdivisão de Schwager do acontecimento crístico em cinco actos é capaz de trazer ao de cima os contornos da luta de Jesus com os seus opositores como uma instância dialéctica no sentido de Lonergan; (4) mostrar de que modo a experiência pascal pode ser construída como um novo, e fundacional, acto que objectiva a conversão à autenticidade humana; (5) mostrar até que ponto mediante o discernimento de tudo isto no acontecimento crístico, a teologia dramática define a soteriologia como o horizonte dentro do qual as doutrinas cristãs e a sistemática teológica têm de se afirmar e elucida o modo como a sotereologia tem de ser construída. Deste modo, a teologia dramática determina-se a si mesma como um empreendimento fundacional. Para o autor do artigo, trata-se aqui de um caso exemplar no que respeita à génese de categorias teológicas especiais. (shrink)
The question that arises in this article is whether we can find elements of phenomenology in Bernard Lonergan’s Trinitarian theology.With help of other Lonergan scholars, I have discovered that modern thinking plays an important role in the theology and philosophy ofthis Jesuit author. Moreover, the terminology of modern philosophy coexists with the terminology of classical and especially Tomisticthought. This article is interested in the elements that Lonergan takes from the modern philosophy and emphasizes the centrality ofHusserlian phenomenology among the (...) other modern authors used by Lonergan. Following the research of the Jesuit thinker, I speakabout two parallel realities coexisting in his Trinitarian theology. Lonergan tries to realize their synthesis, but at the same time healso recognizes their distinctiveness. The most relevant result of this coexistence is obtained through the replacement of the metaphysical differentiation between the level of substance and the level of the three Persons, so that, instead of having the elements of classical theology, Lonergan predicates at the same time that God subsists as well as the Trinitarian Persons subsist. Through this assertion he emphasizes the identity between God’s existence and the existence of the three divine Persons, and eliminates the classical differentiation that might be closer to the danger of subordinating the three Persons to the one God. (shrink)
In light of recent interest among political theorists in the idea of political realism, Judith Shklar’s liberalism of fear has come to be associated with anti-Rawlsian thought. This paper seeks to show that, on the contrary, Shklar’s specific formulation of political realism, unlike more recent variations, was not motivated by a critique of Rawls. This paper will address three concerns: first, it will show what exactly Shklar’s initial realism was responding to; second, it will consider the implications of this realism (...) for thinking about liberal democracies; third, it will attempt, briefly, in light of this, to make sense of her relationship with Rawls and, in turn, through a comparison with Bernard Williams’s thought, her relationship to anti-Rawlsian political realism. (shrink)
There has been a great deal of interest in medieval action theory in recent years. Nonetheless, relatively little work has been done on figures prior to the so-called High Middle Ages, and much of what has been done has focused on better-known thinkers, such as Augustine and Anselm. By comparison, Bernard of Clairvaux's treatise, De gratia et libero arbitrio has been neglected. Yet his treatise is quoted widely by such important scholars as Philip the Chancellor, Alexander of Hales, and (...) Albertus Magnus. Some historians of philosophy argue that his writings inspired the voluntarist movement that developed in the 1270s. Thus, Bernard must be seen as an important influence upon later medieval theories of action. In this paper, I examine the basic structure of his interesting account of human action and its freedom and conclude by raising some further issues connected to his work. /// Nos últimos anos assistiu-se a uma retoma do interesse pela teoria medieval da acção. Apesar disso, poucos estudos têm versado sobre os pensadores anteriores à assim chamada Alta Idade Média, para além de que esses estudos se debruçam sobretudo sobre os filósofos mais conhecidos, como é o caso de Agostinho e de Anselmo. Comparativamente, o tratado de S. Bernardo de Claraval, De gratia et libero arbítrio, não tem suscitado muita atenção crítica. Contudo, numerosos pensadores citaram este tratado, entre eles Filipe o Chanceler, Alexandre de Hales, e Alberto Magno. Vários histonadores da filosofia têm avançado a tese de que os escritos de Bernardo influenciaram o movimento voluntarista que se desenvolveu nos anos 1270. Nesse sentido, as ideias de Bernardo de Claraval tiveram um certo impacto sobre as teorias da acção que haveriam de aparecer mais tarde. No presente artigo, a autora examina as ideias do pensador medieval sobre a acção humana e a sua liberdade, terminando com o levantar de algumas novas questões sobre o tratado de Bernardo de Claraval. (shrink)
Following Mr. Bixby and some other 19th century scientist-philosophers such as Claude Bernard, relevant scientific actions should, as a matter of primary importance, be explained with reference to the competence and not to the intentions of those involved. The background is a reliabilist virtue approach - a widespread tendency in 19th century epistemology and philosophy of science. Bixby's approach includes a critique of some constructivist arguments and establishes a mutually supportive connection to conceptions of scientific progress.
"The only way not to to make mistakes is to wait until history has passed you by," states Bernard-Henri Lévy. But he doesn't like to wait. And that's why 'BHL', armed with a cell phone and raybans, takes off for political hot spots.""Je t'embrasse." The philosopher ends the phone call and places the tiny Ericsson cell phone on the table next to his Ray Bans. He turns to his interviewers: "Where were we?"For a moment they are lost, distracted by (...) the question of who BHL may have been 'embracing'. His wife? His mistress? Perhaps a student of French picked up casually during his lightning visit to The Netherlands? (shrink)
This paper achieves two general objectives. It first analyses Bernard Hodgson's "Economic As Moral Science" as a path-breaking internal critique of neo-classical economic theory, and it then demonstrates that the underlying neo-classical paradigm he presupposes suffers from a deeper-structural myopia than his standpoint recognizes. EMS mainly exposes the a priori moral prescriptions underlying orthodox consumer choice theory - namely, its classical utilitarian ground and four or, as argued here, five hidden universal categorical-ought prescriptions which the theory presupposes as (...) instrumental imperatives: (1) comparability evaluations by all consumer judgements; (2) non-satiety of consumer desire; (3) consistency and transitivity of consumer preferences; (4) diminishing rate of marginal substitution by consumer choice; and (5) an unlimited aggregate growth of commodity production, or "the liberal growth ethic". The article argues that Hodgson's refutation of the neo-classical claims of "value neutral scientific method" is sound, that his bridging of the Humean reason-desire divide by the "rational review" of wants is resonantly demonstrated, and that his argument for conversion of an "a priori-cum-normative-cum-idealized" neoclassical theory into scientific status is logically plausible but morally abhorrent. The principal objection to Hodgson's magisterial exposé of neo-classical doctrine's moral a priorism is that the latter's normative presuppositions are profoundly deranged at a level that he himself assumes as given. In consequence, there is theoretical closure at three levels: (1) to the underlying "life economy" of non-priced and non-profit production and distribution of goods otherwise in short supply; (2) to the "civil commons" infrastructure sustaining these non-commodity systems of social and ecological production and distribution; and (3) to the systemic despoiling of both by monetized market mechanisms which are falsely assumed as the defining limits of "the economy". (shrink)
: Continuing the dialogue begun in the March 2006 issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, I suggest that Bernard Gert's response to my paper does not adequately address the criticisms I make of his theory's application to bioethics cases.
This article examines and assesses Bernard Hodgson’s critique of the Neoclassical concept of rationality and its place in the literature. It is argued that Hodgson’s Trojan horse critique is superior to the others because it addresses the role of empiricist epistemology in reducing reason to instrumental rationality and consequent disappearance of the human subject of political economy. The second phase of the empiricist level of analysis reintroduces the capacities for ethical deliberation, self-determination, and the socio-historical conditions and institutional setting (...) of the economic agent. Because Hodgson’s solutions presuppose empiricist terrain, they are arbitrary. This occurs because the fundamental problem of Neoclassical rationality is its ontology. Yet by introducing the human subject into economic theory, Hodgson’s solutions move onto an ontological terrain adequate for economic analysis of human subjects. (shrink)
Bernard Lonergan has argued for a theory of cognition that is transcendentally secure, that is, one such that any plausible attempt to refute it must presuppose its correctness, and one that also grounds a correct metaphysics and ontology. His proposal combines an identity theory of knowledge with an intentional relation between knower and known. It depends in a crucial way upon an appropriation of one’s own cognitional motives and acts, that is, upon “knowing one’s own knowing.” I argue that (...) because of conflicts between the identity and intentionality components of the theory, rational self-appropriation (RSA) cannot, as Lonergan claims, be an iteration of just the same acts by which we acquire other sorts of knowledge. I propose an amended theory in which the relation between intending-subject and intended-object of first-level cognition becomes, in RSA, a numerical identity of knower and known and of the epistemic and the ontological. (shrink)
Claude Bernard's concept of the internal environment ( milieu intérieur ) played a crucial role in the development of experimental physiology and the specific medical therapeutics derived from it. This concept allowed the experimentalist to approach the organism as fully determined yet relatively autonomous with respect to its external environment. However, Bernard's theory of knowledge required that he find organismic functioning as the result of an external necessity. He is therefore unable to explain adequately the origin or operation (...) of organismic autonomy. A more complete conception of biological autonomy must include a theory of knowledge that can accommodate the organism as a source of discrimination and determination. Only in this way will it be possible to see organisms as active as well as reactive, as ordering as well as ordered. This shift in perspective is crucial if medicine is to be able to characterize, for example, susceptibility to disease. A cognitive sense of the organic interior is proposed as an alternative to Bernard's internal environment. Keywords: biological autonomy, Claude Bernard, epistemology, internal environment ( milieu intérieur ) CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In his book Economics as a Moral Science , Bernard Hodgson argues that economics is not value neutral as is often claimed, but is a value-laden discipline. In the long argument for this in his book, Hodgson never discusses or even mentions corporations. This article explains that corporations are absent from Hodgson’s discussion because he considers only the consumption side of general equilibrium theory (GET), and it shows that if Hodgson had included corporations and the production side, his overall (...) argument would have been more complete and convincing. This article shows that Hodgson’s methodology, when applied to the production side of GET, has value implications for CEOs of large corporations, for shareholders and members of Boards of Directors, and for legislators and regulators of business. Hodgson’s claim that economics must consider the ability of economic agents to create or change the institutional, cultural, and organizational conditions of their own economic actions is supported and expanded. (shrink)
A critique is made of Bernard Rollin''s examination of the ethics of cloning adult mammalian cells. The primary concern is less to propound an anticloning or procloning position than to call for full exploration of the ethical complexities before a rush to judgment is made. Indeed, the ethical examination in question rushes toward an ethical position in such a way that does not appear consistent with Rollin''s usual methodology. By extending this methodology – which entails full weighing of benefits (...) and costs – it becomes apparent that there are real potential risks to this type of cloning in both animals and humans, besides the possible benefits, and that the scientific, political, philosophical, and broader academic communities should explore these risks and benefits extensively. Rollin''s usual methodological call for hesitation before risks would translate into hesitation before the ethical risks of adult mammalian cell cloning instead of his paper''s curiously laissez-faire stance. (shrink)
In this article I revisit earlier stages of the discussion of personal identity, before Neo-Lockean psychological continuity views became prevalent. In particular, I am interested in Bernard Williams’ initial proposal of bodily identity as a necessary, although not sufficient, criterion of personal identity. It was at this point that psychological continuity views came to the fore arguing that bodily identity was not necessary because brain transplants were logically possible, even if physically impossible. Further proposals by Shoemaker of causal relations (...) between mental states in our memory and Parfit’s discussion of branching causal chains created additional complications. My contention in this paper is that psychological continuity views deflected our attention from what should have remained in the spotlight all the time: the intersubjective character (or not) of criteria proposed to decide personal identity in our language game, and ultimately our form of life concerning ourselves as persons. B. Williams’ emphasis on the body was not just common sense. It was also recognition of the importance of giving priority to criteria that could be kept under intersubjective control. (shrink)
I take issue with Bernard Gert's interpretation of Hobbes on two main points. First, I argue that Hobbes's moral theory reduces to a sophisticated form of consequentialism. Second, I argue that Hobbes's moral theory is more demanding than Gert's interpretation, and some of Hobbes's own remarks, make it appear. I focus on Gert's reading of Hobbes's second law of nature, and argue that the law presents us with a Hobson's choice-that is, the appearance of a choice of how much (...) liberty to relinquish when really there is none. (shrink)
In this essay, my point of departure is Bernard Hodgson’s analysis of neo-classical economic theory and his demonstration that neo-classical economic thought is already a branch of normative theory. I undertake to broaden the demonstration by showing that other contemporary conceptions of economics are also irreducibly normative. The essay begins with an overview of Hodgson’s argument strategy, and a discussion of his thesis that economics is a moral science. This illustrates in what way moral presuppositions are at play as (...) core principles that both positivist and normativist economics take for granted. My strategy is to show that alternative conceptions of economics, in particular Schumpeterian accounts of evolution/innovation, and orthodox versions of ecological economics, share with classical and neo-classical economics normative assumptions about the common good, extending Hodgson’s thesis to one about moral science . For then these assumptions (both moral and scientific ) commit economics to unworkable notions of social and environmental optimization that ignore the pure historical contingency of physical, economic, social and cultural conditions. It is concluded that the relationship between facts and values must be fundamentally retheorized. (shrink)
Although I reject his argument, I defend Bernard Williams’s claim that we would lose reason to go on if we were to live forever. Through a consideration of Borges’s story "The Immortal," I argue that immortality would be motivationally devastating, since our decisions would carry little weight, our achievements would be hollow victories of mere diligence, and the prospect of eternal frustration would haunt our every effort. An immortal life for those of limited ability will inevitably result in endless (...) frustration, since the number of significant projects that one is capable of completing is finite, but the span of time is infinite. (shrink)
The idea that there is such an analytic connection will hardly come as news. It amounts to no more and no less than an endorsement of the claim that all reasons are 'internal', as opposed to 'external', to use Bernard Williams's terms (Williams 1980). Or, to put things in the way Christine Korsgaard favours, it amounts to an endorsement of the 'internalism requirement' on reasons (Korsgaard 1986). But how exactly is the internalism requirement to be understood? What does it (...) tell us about the nature of reasons? And where-in lies its appeal? My aim in this paper is to answer these ques- tions. (shrink)
According to a naïve view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, ‘ought’ often expresses a relation between agents and actions – the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naïve view that ‘ought’ always expresses this relation – on the contrary, adherents of the naïve view are happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an epistemic sense, on which it means, (...) roughly, that some proposition is likely to be the case, and adherents of the naïve view are also typically happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an evaluative sense, on which it means, roughly, that were things ideal, some proposition would be the case.1 What is important to the naïve view is not that these other senses of ‘ought’ do not exist, but rather that they are not exhaustive – for what they leave out, is the important deliberative sense of ‘ought’, which is the central subject of moral inquiry about what we ought to do and why – and it is this deliberative sense of ‘ought’ which the naïve view understands to express a relation between agents and actions.2 In contrast, logically and linguistically sophisticated philosophers – with a few notable exceptions3 – have rejected this naïve view. According to a dominant perspective in the interpretation of deontic logic and in linguistic semantics, for example, articulated by Roderick Chisholm (1964) and Bernard Williams (1981) in philosophy and in the dominant paradigm in linguistic semantics as articulated in particular by.. (shrink)
On a ‘comparative’ conception of practical reasons, reasons are like ‘weights’ that can make an action more or less rational. Bernard Gert adopts instead a ‘toggle’ conception of practical reasons: something counts as a reason just in case it alone can make some or other otherwise irrational action rational. I suggest that Gert’s conception suffers from various defects, and that his motivation for adopting this conception – his central claim that actions can be rational without there being reasons for (...) them – does not require adoption of the toggle conception. The more intuitive comparative conception of reasons for action can accommodate the insight. (shrink)
Mentalistic (or Lockean) accounts of personal identity are normally formulated in terms of causal relations between psychological states such as beliefs, memories, and intentions. In this paper we develop an alternative (but still Lockean) account of personal identity, based on phenomenal relations between experiences. We begin by examining a notorious puzzle case due to Bernard Williams, and extract two lessons from it: first, that Williams's puzzle can be defused by distinguishing between the psychological and phenomenal approaches, second, that so (...) far as personal identity is concerned, it is phenomenal rather than psychological continuity that matters. We then consider different ways in which the phenomenal approach may be developed, and respond to a number of objections. That with which the consciousness of this present thinking thing can join itself, makes the same person, and is one self with it, and with nothing else; and so attributes to itself and owns all the actions of that thing, as its own, as far as that consciousness reaches, and no farther; as every one who reflects will perceive. Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding [II.xxvii.17]. (shrink)
In ‘Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline,’ Williams is mistaken in thinking that I accused him of thinking that that we can describe the world ‘as it is anyway’ without using concepts. Our real disagreement is over whether it makes sense to think that the concepts of physics do this. The central issue is this: the notion of ‘absoluteness’ is defined using at least one semantical notion (‘convergence’). If Williams' view is to work, I argue, at least one semantical notion needs (...) to be absolute. But Williams himself concedes that semantical notions cannot be reduced to physical ones, and the ‘absolute conception’ is supposed to be given in terms of primary qualities alone. (shrink)
Quine's well-known ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ (1951) plays a key role in the debate about the analytic-synthetic distinction. Taking to task the ideas of Carnap in particular, Quine shows that logical positivism works with a concept of scientific rationality that is based dogmatically on, among other things, the opposition analytic-synthetic.
Bernard Reginster, in his book THE AFFIRMATION OF LIFE: NIETZSCHE ON OVERCOMING NIHILISM, takes up the challenge of figuring out what Nietzsche might mean by nihilism and the revaluation of values. He argues that there is an alternative, normative subjectivist interpretation of Nietzsche's views on nihilism and revaluation that makes as much sense as—indeed, he often clearly leans toward thinking that it makes more sense than—a fictionalist reading of Nietzsche. I argue that his arguments do not succeed. Once we (...) have looked carefully at the details of the positions and the arguments ascribed to Nietzsche, the fictionalist option is the more charitable interpretation of the texts. I focus on the metaethical issues that play a central role for Reginster in his articulation of Nietzsche's nihilism and Nietzsche's strategy for overcoming nihilism. (shrink)
The author examines Williams' appraisal of Collingwood both in his eponymous essay on Collingwood, in the posthumously published Sense of the Past (2006), and elsewhere in his work. The similarities and differences between their philosophies are explored: in particular, with regard to the relationship between philosophy and history and the relationship between the study of history and our present-day moral attitudes. It is argued that, despite Williams usually being classified as an analytic philosopher and Collingwood being classified as an idealist, (...) there is substantial common ground between them. Williams was aware of this and made clear his sympathy for Collingwood; but, nonetheless, the relationship between Williams and Collingwood has not previously been explored in any detail. After establishing the common ground between these philosophers, and the areas of disagreement, the author suggests that both may have something to gain from the other. (shrink)