After resolving the dreaming doubt at the end of the Sixth Meditation, Descartes concedes to Hobbes that one could apply the criterion for waking experience in a dream and thus be deceived, but he no longer considers this possibility to have skeptical force. I argue that this is a legitimate response by Descartes since 1) the dreaming doubt in the Sixth Meditation is no longer a global skeptical hypothesis as it is in the First, and 2) the level of certainty (...) that sensory experience must meet in the Sixth Meditation is lower than it must meet in the First. (shrink)
In On Virtue Ethics I offered a criterion for a character trait's being a virtue according to which a virtuous character trait must conduce to, or at least not be inimical to, four ends, one of which is the continuance of the human species. I argue here that this does not commit me to homosexuality's being a vice, since homosexuality is not a character trait and hence not up for assessment as a virtue or a vice. Vegetarianism is not up (...) for such assessment either, for the same reason, but, as a practice, may well be required by the virtue of compassion, and sacrificing one's life for an animal or alien may be required by courage. The clause about the continuance of the human species in my criterion does not specify a foundational value, because, following McDowell, I reject foundationalism. (shrink)
Fixed-rate versions of rule-consequentialism and rule-utilitarianism evaluate rules in terms of the expected net value of one particular level of social acceptance, but one far enough below 100% social acceptance to make salient the complexities created by partial compliance. Variable-rate versions of rule-consequentialism and rule-utilitarianism instead evaluate rules in terms of their expected net value at all different levels of social acceptance. Brad Hooker has advocated a fixed-rate version. Michael Ridge has argued that the variable-rate version is better. The (...) debate continues here. Of particular interest is the difference between the implications of Hooker's and Ridge's rules about doing good for others. (shrink)
What are the appropriate criteria for assessing a theory of morality? In this enlightening work, Brad Hooker begins by answering this question. He then argues for a rule-consequentialist theory which, in part, asserts that acts should be assessed morally in terms of impartially justified rules. In the end, he considers the implications of rule-consequentialism for several current controversies in practical ethics, making this clearly written, engaging book the best overall statement of this approach to ethics.
Brad Inwood presents a selection of his most influential essays on the philosophy of Seneca, the Roman Stoic thinker, statesman, and tragedian of the first century AD. Including two brand-new pieces, and a helpful introduction to orient the reader, this volume will be an essential guide for anyone seeking to understand Seneca's fertile, wide-ranging thought and its impact on subsequent generations. -/- In each of these essays Seneca is considered as a philosopher, but with as much account as possible (...) taken of his life, his education, his intellectual and literary background, his career, and his self-presentation as an author. Seneca emerges as a discerning and well-read Stoic, with a strong inclination to think for himself in the context of an intellectual climate teeming with influences from other schools. Seneca's intellectual engagement with Platonism, Aristotelianism, and even with Epicureanism involved a wide range of substantial philosophical interests and concerns. His philosophy was indeed shaped by the fact that he was a Roman, but he was a true philosopher shaped by his culture rather than a Roman writer trying his hand at philosophical themes. The highly rhetorical character of his writing must be accounted for when reading his works, and when one does so the underlying philosophical themes stand out more clearly. While it is hard to generalize about an overall intellectual agenda or systematic philosophical method, key themes and strategies are evident. Inwood shows how Seneca's philosophical ingenium worked itself out in a fundamentally particularistic way as he pursued those aspects of Stoicism that engaged him most forcefully over his career. (shrink)
Response Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11673-010-9253-3 Authors Brad Partridge, Program in Professionalism and Bioethics, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street S.W., Rochester, MN 55905, USA Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529.
Seneca's Letters to Lucilius are a rich source of information about ancient Stoicism, an influential work for early modern philosophers, and a fascinating philosophical document in their own right. This selection of the letters aims to include those which are of greatest philosophical interest, especially those which highlight the debates between Stoics and Platonists or Aristotelians in the first century AD, and the issue, still important today, of how technical philosophical enquiry is related to the various purposes for which philosophy (...) is practised. In addition to examining the philosophical content of each letter, Brad Inwood's commentary discusses the literary and historical background of the letters and to their relationship with other prose works by Seneca. -/- Seneca is the earliest Stoic author for whom we have access to a large number of complete works, and these works were highly influential in later centuries. He was also a politically influential advisor to the Roman emperor Nero and a celebrated author of prose and verse. His philosophical acuity and independence of mind make his works exciting and challenging for the modern reader. -/- CLARENDON LATER ANCIENT PHILOSOPHERS General Editors: Jonathan Barnes and A. A. Long This series is designed to encourage philosophers and students of philosophy to explore the fertile terrain of later ancient philosophy. The texts range in date from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, and will cover all the parts and all the schools of philosophy. Each volume contains a substantial introduction, an English translation, and a critical commentary on the philosophical claims and arguments of the text. The translations aim primarily at accuracy and fidelity; but they are also readable and accompanied by notes on textual problems that affect the philosophical interpretation. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is assumed. (shrink)
One of the most striking features of causation is that causes typically precede their effects – the causal arrow is strongly aligned with the temporal arrow. Why should this be so? We offer an opinionated guide to this problem, and to the solutions currently on offer. We conclude that the most promising strategy is to begin with the de facto asymmetry of human deliberation, characterised in epistemic terms, and to build out from there. More than any rival, this subjectivist approach (...) promises to demystify the asymmetry, temporal orientation, and deliberative relevance of causal judgements. (shrink)
The theory of morality we can call full rule-consequentialism selects rules solely in terms of the goodness of their consequences and then claims that these rules determine which kinds of acts are morally wrong. George Berkeley was arguably the first rule-consequentialist. He wrote, “In framing the general laws of nature, it is granted we must be entirely guided by the public good of mankind, but not in the ordinary moral actions of our lives. … The rule is framed with respect (...) to the good of mankind; but our practice must be always shaped immediately by the rule.” (Berkeley 1712, section 31) Writers often classed as rule-consequentialists include Austin 1832; Harrod 1936; Toulmin 1950; Urmson 1953; Harrison 1953; Mabbott 1953; Singer 1955; 1961; and most prominently Brandt 1959; 1963; 1967; 1979; 1989; 1996; and Harsanyi 1977; 1982; 1993. See also Rawls 1955; Hospers 1972; Haslett 1987; 1994, ch. 1; 2000; Attfield 1987, 103-12; Barrow 1991, ch. 6; Johnson 1991; Riley 1998; 2000; Shaw 1999; and Hooker 2000. Whether J. S. Mill's ethics was rule-consequentialist is controversial (Urmson 1953; Crisp 1997, 102-33). (shrink)
Discussion of moral explanation has reached an impasse, with proponents of contemporary ethical naturalism upholding the explanatory integrity of moral facts and properties, and opponents--including both antirealists and non-naturalistic realists--insisting that such robustly explanatory pretensions as moral theory has be explained away. I propose that the key to solving the problem lies in the question whether instances of moral properties are causally efficacious. It is argued that, given the truth of contemporary ethical naturalism, moral properties are causally efficacious if the (...) properties of the special sciences are. (shrink)
To what extent is the external world the way that it appears to us in perceptual experience? This perennial question in philosophy is no doubt ambiguous in many ways. For example, it might be taken as equivalent to the question of whether or not the external world is the way that it appears to be? This is a question about the epistemology of perception: Are our perceptual experiences by and large veridical representations of the external world? Alternatively, the question might (...) be taken as asking whether or not the external world is like its ways of appearing to us, where the expression “ways of appearing” is intended to pick out aspects of our perceptual experiences themselves. This is a metaphysical version of the question of the relationship between appearance and reality: What is the relationship between the phenomenal features that characterize perceptual experience, on the one hand, and the mind-independent features of the external objects of perception, on the other? There are some philosophers who might resist distinguishing between these two questions. For them, “ways of appearing” in the phenomenal sense just are the ways that things appear to be (let’s call the latter the “intentional sense” of “ways of appearing”).1 That is, the phenomenal character of an experience is nothing over and above its representational content. Phenomenal properties are represented properties—the properties that an experience attributes to the external objects of perception. The question of whether or not phenomenal properties can be identified with the represented properties of an experience mirrors traditional questions in the philosophy of perception. If they can be identified with each other, then in veridical perception we might be said to “directly grasp” features of the external world through perception. The properties that are present to the mind are the very same properties that belong to the external objects of perception. Such a view affords.... (shrink)
Phenomenal character is determined by representational content, which both hallucinatory and veridical experiences can share. But in the case of veridical experience, unlike hallucination, the external objects of experience literally have the properties one is aware of in experience. The representationalist can accept the common factor assumption without having to introduce sensory intermediaries between the mind and the world, thus securing a form of direct realism.
Sidgwick's defence of esoteric morality has been heavily criticized, for example in Bernard Williams's condemnation of it as 'Government House utilitarianism.' It is also at odds with the idea of morality defended by Kant, Rawls, Bernard Gert, Brad Hooker, and T.M. Scanlon. Yet it does seem to be an implication of consequentialism that it is sometimes right to do in secret what it would not be right to do openly, or to advocate publicly. We defend Sidgwick on this issue, (...) and show that accepting the possibility of esoteric morality makes it possible to explain why we should accept consequentialism, even while we may feel disapproval towards some of its implications. (shrink)
The popularity of rule-consequentialism among philosophers has waxed and waned. Waned, mostly; at least lately. The idea that the morality that ought to claim allegiance is the ideal code of rules whose acceptance by everybody would bring about best consequences became the object of careful analysis about half a century ago, in the writings of J. J. C. Smart, John Rawls, David Lyons, Richard Brandt, Richard Hare, and others.1 They considered utilitarian versions of rule consequentialism but discovered flaws in the (...) view that attach to the wider consequentialist doctrine. In the eyes of many, the flaws were decisive. Brad Hooker has produced brilliant work that unsettles this complacent consensus.2 Over a period of several years he has produced a sustained and powerful defense of a version of rule consequentialism that does not obviously succumb to the criticisms that have been thought to render this doctrine a nonstarter. He acknowledges intellectual debts to Richard Brandt. But Hooker avoid certain excrescences in Brandt’s efforts to conceive of morality as an ideal code of rules. Most notably, Hooker eschews Brandt’s misguided attempt to derive some version of rule utilitarianism from an underlying commitment to some form of contractualism. Moreover, Hooker has worked to articulate a version of rule consequentialism in sufficient detail that one can see how the different parts of the doctrine hang together and how the best version of the.. (shrink)
Margaret Gilbert explores the phenomenon referred to in everyday ascriptions of beliefs to groups. She refers to this type of phenomenon as "collective belief" and calls the types of groups that are the bearers of such beliefs "plural subjects". I argue that the attitudes that groups adopt that Gilbert refers to as "collective beliefs" are not a species of belief in an important and central sense, but rather a species of acceptance. Unlike proper beliefs, a collective belief is adopted by (...) a group as a means to realizing the group's goals. Unless we recognize that this phenomenon is a species of acceptance, plural subjects will seem prone to change their "beliefs" for irrelevant reasons, and thus frequently appear to act in an irrational manner. (shrink)
I aim to clarify the relationship between the success of a theory and the truth of that theory. This has been a central issue in the debates between realists and anti-realists. Realists assume that success is a reliable indicator of truth, but the details about the respects in which success is a reliable indicator or test of truth have been largely left to our intuitions. Lewis (Synthese 129:371–380, 2001) provides a clear proposal of how success and truth might be connected, (...) comparing a test of success of our theories to medical tests with low rates of false positives and false negatives. But, contrary to what Lewis claims, I argue that it is not enough for the realist to undercut the claim that success is not a reliable indicator of truth. Rather, the realist must show that our current best theories are likely true. Further, I argue that tests in science are unlike medical tests in a number of important ways. (shrink)
Given Kuhn's remark that scientists work in different worlds before and after a scientific revolution (1996, p. 111; 2000, p. 221) it is not surprising that he is widely regarded as a social constructionist.1 Indeed, this is one issue about which Kuhn's fans and foes agree. Both the sociologists of science who were inspired by his work and many of his philosophical critics regard Kuhn's view as a form of constructionism. But, this apparent agreement may be to a large extent (...) an illusion, for as (Ian Hacking 1999) notes "constructionism" connotes different things to different people. Many sociologists and historians of science self-consciously approach their subject as constructionists (see Shapin 1996, pp. 9–10; .. (shrink)
This dissertation concerns the nature of spacetime. It is divided into two parts. The ﬁrst part, which comprises chapters 1, 2, and 3, addresses ontological questions: does spacetime exist? And if so, are there any other spatiotemporal things? In chapter 1 I argue that spacetime does exist, and in chapter 2 I respond to modal arguments against this view. In chapter 3 I examine and defend supersubstantivalism—the claim that all concrete physical objects (tables, chairs, electrons and quarks) are regions of (...) spacetime. Four-dimensional spacetime, we are often told, ‘uniﬁes’ space and time; if we believe in spacetime, then we do not believe that space and time are separately existing things. But that does not mean that there is no distinction between space and time: we still distinguish between the spatial aspects and the temporal aspects of spacetime. The second part of this dissertation, comprising chapter 4, looks at this distinction. How is it made? In virtue of what are the temporal aspects of spacetime temporal, rather than spatial? The standard view is that the temporal aspects of spacetime are temporal because they play a distinctive role in the geometry of spacetime. I argue that this view is false, and that the temporal aspects are temporal because they play a distinctive role in the geometry of spacetime and in the laws of nature. (shrink)