Ellis, Brian Humanism has a lot to offer the world. It is not just an individual moral philosophy, although it includes such a philosophy. Nor is it just a political program, although it implies one. The theory of social humanism, which was developed in a book I published last year, is both a moral and a political philosophy. It is socially democratic, and morally and politically humanistic.
Ellis, Brian Humanists have an unconditional concern for the wellbeing and dignity of humankind. They are fundamentally concerned with increasing the overall quality of people's lives, regardless of their behaviour, and to treat people with respect. They seek to do so by promoting the development of people's natural talents and inculcating attitudes of mutual respect and tolerance. Their central idea is that every person should be treated with equal concern for their good.
A theory of morality acceptable to humanists must be one that can be accepted independently of religion. In this paper, I argue that while there is such a theory, it is a non-standard one, and its acceptance would have some far-reaching consequences. As one might expect, the theory is similar to others in various ways. But it is not the same as any of them. Indeed, it is a radically new theory. Like Hume’s ethics, it is founded on our natural (...) sociability, and feelings of empathy for others. Like Aristotle’s theory, it incorporates an ethics of virtue. Like Kant’s theory, it regards the set of moral principles as those appropriate for a socially ideal society. But unlike Kant’s theory, it is essentially utilitarian. I call it ‘social contractual utilitarianism’. (shrink)
If one believes, as Hume did, that all events are loose and separate, then the problem of induction is probably insoluble. Anything could happen. But if one thinks, as scientific essentialists do, that the laws of nature are immanent in the world, and depend on the essential natures of things, then there are strong constraints on what could possibly happen. Given these constraints, the problem of induction may be soluble. For these constraints greatly strengthen the case for conceptual and theoretical (...) conservatism, and rule out Goodmanesque inferences based on alternative descriptions of the world. This may not, in itself, solve the problem, but it significantly changes its nature. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that there are categorical properties as well as causal powers, and that the world would not exist as we know it without them. For categorical properties are needed to define the powers—to locate them, and to specify their laws of action. These categorical properties, I shall argue, are not dispositional. For their identities do not depend on what they dispose their bearers to do. They are, as Alexander Bird would say, ’quiddities’. But (...) there is nothing wrong with quiddities. And, in the second half of this paper, I shall defend the thesis that all categorical properties are quiddities. (shrink)
For scientific essentialists, the only logical possibilities of existence are the real (or metaphysical) ones, and such possibilities, they say, are relative to worlds. They are not a priori, and they cannot just be invented. Rather, they are discoverable only by the a posteriori methods of science. There are, however, many philosophers who think that real possibilities are knowable a priori, or that they can just be invented. Marc Lange [Lange 2004] thinks that they can be invented, and tries to (...) use his inventions to argue that the essentialist theory of counterfactual conditionals developed in Scientific Essentialism [Ellis 2001, hereafter SE] is flawed. (shrink)
In this paper it will be argued that causal laws describe the actions of causal powers. The process which results from such an action is one which belongs to a natural kind, the essence of which is that it is a display of this causal power. Therefore, if anything has a given causal power necessarily, it must be naturally disposed to act in the manner prescribed by the causal law describing the action of this causal power. In the formal expressions (...) of causal laws, the necessity operators occur within the scopes of the universal quantifiers. Hence the necessities must hold of each instance. The causal laws may thus be shown to be concerned with necessary connections between events or circumstances of precisely the sort required for a decent account of singular causation. (shrink)
The publication of Circular 14/93 'Initial Training of Primary School Teachers' (DfE 1993) sees yet another attempt to redefine and control the objectives, methods, outcomes and location of initial teacher education. It implies changes in the role of subject studies in initial teacher education, although its prescriptions in this regard are elusive. The interpretation and implications of these changes for subject studies are the focus of this paper. It reviews the current role of subject studies in primary initial teacher education (...) and outlines those elements of the Circular which will impact upon those roles. Inconsistencies in the Circular are identified. Critiques of the current role of subject studies are used to suggest how the generalised statements about levels of competence in the Circular can be expanded to redefine subject studies. The paper sets out the criteria subject studies will have to adopt to enact the expanded and more clearly defined roles required if they are to meet the objectives of the Circular. The paper specifically addresses the implications for subject studies courses of differentiated subject training for specialist and generalist primary school teachers. (shrink)
Traditionally, forces are causes of a special sort. Forces have been conceived to be the direct or immediate causes of things. Other sorts of causes act indirectly by producing forces which are transmitted in various ways to produce various effects. However, forces are supposed to act directly without the mediation of anything else. But forces, so conceived, appear to be occult. They are mysterious, because we have no clear conception of what they are, as opposed to what they are postulated (...) to do; and they seem to be hidden from direct observations. There is, therefore, strong initial motivation for trying to eliminate forces from physics. Furthermore, as we shall explain, powerful arguments can be mounted to show that theories with forces can always be recast as theories without them. Hence it seems that forces should be eliminated, in the interests of simplicity. We argue, however, that forces should not be eliminated--just differently construed. For the effect of elimination is to leave us without any adequate account of the causal relationships forces were postulated to explain. And this would remain the case, even if forces could be identified with some merely dispositional properties of physical systems. In our view, forces are species of the causal relation itself, and as such have a different ontological status from the sorts of entities normally considered to be related as causes to effects. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that anyone who accepts the ontology of scientific realism can only accept a pragmatic theory of truth, i.e., a theory on which truth is what it is epistemically right to believe. But the combination of realism with such a theory of truth is a form of internal realism; therefore, a scientific realist should be an internal realist. The strategy of the paper is to argue that there is no adequate semantic or correspondence theory of truth (...) compatible with a realist ontology, that a redundancy theory cannot account for the value of truth, and that the only kind of truth theory which can account for the value of truth, and is compatible with a realist ontology, is a pragmatic theory. The kind of truth theory I wish to defend is objective and naturalistic, and the ontology is realistic. My position is, therefore, one of objective, naturalistic realism. (shrink)
This paper is a response to the "panel discussion of simultaneity by slow clock transport in the special and general theories of relativity" ("philosophy of science", 36, (march, 1969), Pp. 1-81) which arose out of a paper by brian ellis and peter bowman on "conventionality in distant simultaneity", ("philosophy of science", 34, (june, 1967), Pp. 116-36). It is argued that the basic disagreement between the pittsburgh panel and us is an epistemological one. In particular, Our concept of a good physical (...) reason is radically different from the pittsburgh panel's. For us the known existence of a number of concordant, Isotropic, And logically independent criteria for distant simultaneity, And the non-Existence of any known discordant but isotropic criteria for distant simultaneity is a good physical reason for choosing one of these criteria. For the pittsburgh panel it is not. (shrink)
In his original paper of 1905, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", Einstein described a procedure for synchronizing distant clocks at rest in any inertial system K. Clocks thus synchronized may be said to be in standard signal synchrony in K. It has often been claimed that there are no logical or physical reasons for preferring standard signal synchronizations to any of a range of possible non-standard ones. In this paper, the range of consistent non-standard signal synchronizations, first for any (...) one inertial system, and second for any set of such systems, is investigated, and it is shown that the requirement of consistency leaves much less room for choice than is commonly supposed. Nevertheless consistent non-standard signal synchronizations appear to be possible. However, it is also shown that good physical reasons for preferring standard signal synchronizations exist, if the Special Theory of Relativity yields correct predictions. The thesis of the conventionality of distant simultaneity espoused particularly by Reichenbach and Grunbaum is thus either trivialized or refuted. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper it is shown that unit names, whether simple or complex, whether of fundamental, associative or derivative measurement, may always be regarded as the names of scales. In the second it is shown that dimension names, whether simple, like "[M]", "[L]" and "[T]", or complex dimensional formulae, may always be regarded as the names of classes of similar scales. Thus, a new foundation for the theory of dimensional analysis is provided, and in the light (...) of this, its nature and scope are examined. Dimensional analysis is shown to depend upon certain conventions for expressing numerical laws. (shrink)