The paper has two main objectives: first, it presents a new argument against the so-called Anscombe Thesis (if χ φ-s by ψ-ing, then χ's φ-ing = χ's ψ-ing). Second, it develops a proposal about the syntax and semantics of the 'by'-locution.
Philosophers of mathematics commonly distinguish between explanatory and non-explanatory proofs. An important subclass of mathematical proofs are proofs by induction. Are they explanatory? This paper addresses the question, based on general principles about explanation. First, a recent argument for a negative answer is discussed and rebutted. Second, a case is made for a qualified positive take on the issue.
Fictional realism, i.e., the view that because fictions exist, fictional characters exist as well, has recently been accused of leading to inconsistency generated by phenomena of indeterminacy and inconsistency in fiction. We examine in detail four arguments against fictional realism, and present a version of fictional realism which can withstand those arguments.
The main contribution of this paper is a novel account of ontological dependence. While dependence is often explained in terms of modality and existence, there are relations of dependence that slip through the mesh of such an account. Starting from an idea proposed by Jonathan Lowe, the article develops an account of ontological dependence based on a notion of explanation; on its basis, certain relations of dependence can be established that cannot be accounted by the modal-existential account. Dependence is only (...) one of two main topics of this paper, for it is approached via a discussion of the category of substance. On a traditional view, substances can be characterised as independent entities. Before the background of a modal-existential account of dependence, this idea appears problematic. The proposed notion of explanatory dependence is shown to vindicate the traditional approach to substance. (shrink)
The article is primarily concerned with the notion of a truth-maker. An explication for this notion is offered, which relates it to other notions of making something such-and-such. In particular, it is shown that the notion of a truth-maker is a close relative of a concept employed by van Inwagen in the formulation of his "Consequence Argument." This circumstance helps understanding the general mechanisms of the concepts involved. Thus, a schematic explication of a whole battery of related notions is offered. (...) It is based on an explanatory notion, introduced by the sentential connector "because", whose function is examined in some detail. Finally, on the basis of the explication proposed, an argument is developed to the effect that the objects usually regarded as truth-makers are not apt to play this role. (shrink)
The paper is a detailed reconstruction of Bernard Bolzano’s account of merely possible objects. According to Bolzano, there are some objects which are merely possible. They are neither denizens of space and time nor members of the causal order, but they could have been so. Examples are merely possible persons, mountains etc., objects which are neither actual nor persons or mountains, but which could have been both. Bolzano’s views are contrasted with the theory of Alexius Meinong, and it is shown (...) that they have a modern counterpart in the accounts of merely possible objects that were developed by Bernard Linsky & Ed Zalta, and by Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
The article discusses an idea of how to extend the notion of rigidity to predicates, namely the idea that predicates stand in a certain systematic semantic relation to properties, such that this relation may hold rigidly or nonrigidly. The relation (which I call signification) can be characterised by recourse to canonical property designators which are derived from predicates (or general terms) by means of nominalization: a predicate signifies that property which the derived property designator designates. Whether signification divides into rigid (...) and non-rigid cases will then depend uponwhether canonical property designators divide into rigid and non-rigid ones. But, I shall argue, they do not, and so the only notion of rigidity gained this way is trivial. To show this, I first focus on the kind of canonical property designators which could be thought to be nonrigid, canonical designators such as having the colour of ripe tomatoes which themselves contain non-rigid property designators. An argument to the effect that such complex canonical designators are non-rigid is rebutted, five arguments to the effect that they are rigid are formulated, and finally an explanation of their rigidity based on the general nature of canonical property designators is presented. (shrink)
ld English manors have their ghosts. And though I would not want to call analytic philosophy a ‘manor’, nor exactly ‘old’, it certainly is of some decent English origin, and it left adolescence a while ago. No wonder then, that it is not exempt from haunting terrors. One particular spectre has been haunting it for decades; it already gave some analytic pioneers the creeps, and we still now and then find people terrified by it: the ghost of old Bradley has (...) not yet found its rest and keeps on threatening people with his notorious regress. The present essay is a lecture in exorcism; much of the fear old Bradley spread, so I will argue, peters out once we dare to look it in the eye. However, this essay is not primarily exegetical, and especially not an attempt in interpreting Bradley. I find Bradley’s writings, to say the least, not particularly accessible. Discussions of isolated passages from his longer treatises will probably be less fruitful than a careful study of the positions within the whole argumentative structure, supplied by the examination of Bradley’s intellectual upcoming. His treatments on relations and properties, in which he develops the famous regress argument, are motivated by a radical goal: a vindication of some form of monism. To reach this goal, he tries to deconstruct the most basic categories of our ordinary conceptual framework. Thus, he holds that.. (shrink)
: The paper is a detailed reconstruction of Bernard Bolzano's account of merely possible objects, which is a part of his ontology that has been widely ignored in the literature so far. According to Bolzano, there are some objects which are merely possible. While they are neither denizens of space and time nor members of the causal order, they could have been so. Thus, on Bolzano's view there are, for example, merely possible persons, i.e., objects which are neither actual nor (...) persons but which could have been both. In course of the development of Bolzano's views, they are contrasted with the better known theory of his compatriot Alexius Meinong, and it is shown that they have a modern counterpart in the accounts of merely possible objects that were developed by Bernard Linsky and Ed Zalta, and by Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
In my paper I am concerned with Peter van Inwagen's Consequence Argument. I focus on its probably best known version. In this form it crucially employs the notion of rendering a proposition false, anotion that has never been made sufficiently clear. The main aim of my paper is to shed light on thisnotion. The explications offered so far in thedebate all are based on modal concepts. Iargue that for sufficient results a ``stronger'', hyper-intensional concept is needed, namely the concept expressed (...) by the word ``because''. I show that my analysis is superior to the prior ones. On the basis of this analysis I further explain why van Inwagen''s argument fails. (shrink)
Critique as a philosophical concept needs to be recast once it is linked to the possibility of a productive opening. In such a context critique has an important affinity to destruction and forms of inauguration. Working through writings of Marx and Walter Benjamin, specifically Benjamin's 'The Meaning of Time in the Moral World', destruction and inauguration are repositioned in terns of othering and the caesura of allowing.
The article scrutinises the semantics of canonical property designators of the forms ‘the property of being F’ and ‘F-ness’. First it is argued that, as their form suggests, the former are definite definitions, albeit of a special sort. Secondly, the prima facie plausible classification of the latter as proper names (which is often met in philosophical writings) is rejected. The semantics of such terms is developed and it is shown how its proper understanding yields important consequences about the concepts expressed (...) by these terms. (shrink)
Technology has a history structured by discontinuities. The first important philosophical expression of such a conception of technology was advanced by Walter Benjamin when he defined art works in relation to specific techniques of production. At the present art and architecture occur within an age defined by the move from ’technical reproducibility’ to digital reproducibility. The move has an impact on how technology is understood and its relation to architecture conceived. Adapting Walter Benjamin’s work in this area provides (...) the basis for a response to Soren Riis’ important treatment of the relationship between architecture and technology in his paper “Dwelling in-between walls: the architectural surround”. (shrink)
Many friends of the category of particularised qualities subscribe to the view that particularised qualities have a unique bearer in which they inhere; no such quality then can inhere in two different entities. But it seems that this idea is flawed, for there are apparent counterexamples. An apple’s redness is identical with the redness of its skin, though the apple is distinct from its skin. So it seems that a principle of beareruniqueness has to be modified, maybe by excluding certain (...) unwanted cases. (shrink)
JPVA Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts No 6 Complexity Architecture / Art / Philosophy 'Beginning with complexity will involve working with the recognition that there has always been more than one. Here however this insistent "more than one" will be positioned beyond the scope of semantics; rather than complexity occurring within the range of meaning and taking the form of a generalised polysemy, it will be linked to the nature of the object and to its production. Complexity, therefore, (...) will be inextricably connected to the ontology of the object. What this means is that complexity, in resisting the hold of a semantic idealism on the one hand, and the attempt to give to it the position of being the basis of a new foundationalism on the other, becomes a way of thinking both the presence and the production of objects.' Andrew Benjamin The Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts has set new standards in its exploration of themes central to philosophy's relation to the visual arts, illuminating areas of art criticism, architecture, feminism as well as philosophy itself. Rather than simply reflecting current trends it provides a forum in which the real developments in the analysis of the visual arts and its larger cultural and political context can be presented. Articles by well known philosophers and theorists, as well as some lesser known, together with writings by artists and architects allow a strong interdisciplinary approach reflecting the Journal's roots in post-structural theory. Previous issues include: Philosophy & the Visual Arts (No 1) Philosophy & Architecture (No 2) Architecture, Space, Painting (No 3) The Body (No 4) Abstraction (No 5). (shrink)
Why read Walter Benjamin today? There as many answers to this question as there are "Walter Benjamins"--Benjamin as critic, Benjamin as modernist, Benjamin as marxist, Benjamin as Jew. . . . Yet it is Benjamin as philosopher that in one way or another stands behind all these. This collection explores, in Adorno's description, Benjamin's "philosophy directed against philosophy." The essays cover all aspects of Benjamin's writings, from his early work in the philosophy (...) of art and language, through his cultural criticism, to his final reflections on the concept of history. The experience of time and the destruction of false continuity are identified as the key themes in Benjamin's understanding of history--an understanding that illuminates recent debates about the postmodernist attitude towards modernity. Contributors: Andrew Benjamin, Rebecca Comay, Howard Caygill, Alexander Garcia Duttman, Rodolphe Gasche, Werner Hamacher, Gertrud Koch, John Kraniauskas, Peter Osborne, Irving Wohlfarth. (shrink)
Some of the most eminent and enduring philosophical questions concern matters of priority: what is prior to what? What 'grounds' what? Is, for instance, matter prior to mind? Recently, a vivid debate has arisen about how such questions have to be understood. Can the relevant notion or notions of priority be spelled out? And how do they relate to other metaphysical notions, such as modality, truth-making or essence? This volume of new essays, by leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, is the (...) first to address and investigate the metaphysical idea that certain facts are grounded in other facts. An introduction introduces and surveys the debate, examining its history as well as its central systematic aspects. The volume will be of wide interest to students and scholars of metaphysics. (shrink)
I develop a new argument for an expressivist account of epistemic modals, which starts from a puzzle about epistemic modals which Seth Yalcin recently presented. I reject Yalcin's own solution to the puzzle, and give a better explanation based on expressivism concerning epistemic modals. I also address two alleged problems for expressivism: do embeddings of epistemic modals pose a serious threat to expressivism, and how can expressivism account for disagreements about statements containing epistemic modals?
The essay is a partial investigation into the semantics of the explanatory connective ‘because’. After three independently plausible assumptions about ‘because’ are presented in some detail, it is shown how their interaction generates a puzzle about ‘because’, once they are combined with a common view on conceptual analysis. Four possible solutions to the puzzle are considered.
Gaskin's book The Unity of the Proposition is very rich in material. I will focus only on its central thesis: Gaskin holds that Bradley's regress (more precisely, one particular version of it) is not only innocent, but in fact philosophically significant because it plays a crucial role in solving what Gaskin calls the problem of the unity of the proposition . In what follows, I first explain what that problem is meant to be ( section 1 ), then I present (...) and criticise Gaskin's proposal about how Bradley's regress bears on the problem ( section 2 ), and finally I sketch an alternative approach to the problem ( section 3 ). (shrink)
The article is a critical examination of Joshua Hoffman’s and Gary Rosenkrantz’ approach to the traditional category of individual substance. On several places they offered an analysis of the concept of a substance in terms of some highly sophisticated notion of generic independence. Though ingenious, and even though it might be extensionally adequate, their account cannot provide an informative analysis of the concept in question, because it exhibits a peculiar kind of circularity. It is shown that one cannot establish, on (...) the basis of their analysis, that a given entity is a substance, if one does not already know that it is one in advance. The circularity of their account is examined in detail, and it is explained how it could have arisen. (shrink)
The paper discusses whether there are strictly inexpressible properties. Three main points are argued for: (i) Two different senses of ‘predicate t expresses property p ’ should be distinguished. (ii) The property of being a predicate that does not apply to itself is inexpressible in one of the senses of ‘express’, but not in the other. (iii) Since the said property is related to Grelling’s Antinomy, it is further argued that the antinomy does not imply the non-existence of that property.
The paper deals with the semantics and ontology of ordinary discourse about properties. The main focus lies on the following thesis: A simple predication of the form ‘a is F’ is synonymous with the corresponding explicit property-attribution ‘a has F-ness’. An argument against this Synonymy Thesis is put forth which is based on the thesis that simple predications and property-attributions differ in their conditions of understanding. In defending the argument, the paper accounts for the way in which we come to (...) adopt the conceptual framework of properties. (shrink)
The main question of this paper is how to understand the notion of a truth-maker. In section 1, I show that the identification of truth-making with necessitation cannot capture the pretheoretic understanding of notions such as ‘x makes something true’. In section 2, I examine Barry Smith’s reaction to this problem: he defines truth-making as the combination of necessitation and projection. I focus on the formal part of Smith’s account, which is shown to yield undesired results. However, in section 3, (...) I present an alternative account of projection, which fares better and can fruitfully be employed to circumvent the problems raised in section 1. Unfortunately, the account still has to face some troublemakers, as I show in the final section. I conclude, therefore, with a pessimistic view on the project of defining truth-making via necessitation and projection. (shrink)
The article is an extended comment on Strawson’s neglected paper ‘Maybes and Might Have Beens’, in which he suggests that both statements about what may be the case and statements about what might have been the case can be understood epistemically. We argue that Strawson is right about the first sort of statements but wrong about the second. Finally, we discuss some of Strawson’s claims which are related to positions of Origin Essentialism.
It is shown that the standard definitions of truth-functionality, though useful for their purposes, ignore some aspects of the usual informal characterisations of truth-functionality. An alternative definition is given that results in a stronger notion which pays attention to those aspects.
The compositional structure of language might have led one to expect that a proper analysis of simple conditionals would have been adequate to determine the analysis of iterated conditionals. But McGee has presented an interesting group of examples that shows that this is not so for indicative conditionals. The examples are particularly arresting since they appear to show that modus ponens does not hold as a generally valid rule of inference for conditionals in natural language.
Im folgenden Diskussionsbeitrag werden zunächst starke Spannungen innerhalb von Bolzanos Ausführungen zum Substanzbegriff aufgezeigt. Sodann wird eine kürzlich vorgeschlagene Bolzano-Interpretation besprochen, die geeignet sein soll, besagte Spannungen auszuräumen. Doch der Vorschlag bleibt unbefriedigend; daher wird im Anschluss eine alternative Interpretation ausgeführt und verteidigt.
In this paper I try to explicate the idiom '(An agent) x is able to render (the proposition) p false', which plays a crucial role in van Inwagen's Consequence Argument and which has been extensively discussed in the literature on it. However, the explications offered so far fail to meet some intuitive desiderata which an analysis of the notion should fulfil, as for example the desiderata that (i) nobody can render necessary falsehoods false and that (ii) nobody can render historical (...) falsities false. I propose a novel analysis which deviates from the foregoing in employing an explanatory notion, the connector 'because'. (shrink)
Are all canonical property designators (i.e. nominalizations of predicative phrases) rigid? Dan López de Sa recently criticized the arguments I gave for an affirmative answer to that question. The current article rebuts López de Sa's objections.
The Conjunction Principle says, roughly, that if the truth of a conjunction can be brought about, then the truth of each conjunct can be brought about. The current essay argues that this principle is not valid. After a clarification of the principle, it is shown how a proper understanding of the involved notions falsify the principle. As a corollary, a recent attack on van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument will be rebutted, because it relies on the invalid conjunction principle.
For philosophers interested in ontological issues, the writings of the important figures of Austrian philosophy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century contain many buried treasures to rediscover. Bernard Bolzano, Franz Brentano, Alexius Meinong, and Edmund Husserl, to name just four grand names of that period, were highly aware of the importance of a feasible ontology for many of the philosophical questions they addressed throughout their works.
BenjaminSchnieder has argued that several traditional definitions of truth-functionality fail to capture a central intuition informal characterizations of the notion often capture. The intuition is that the truth-value of a sentence that employs a truth-functional operator depends upon the truth-values of the sentences upon which the operator operates. Schnieder proposes an alternative definition of truth-functionality that is designed to accommodate this intuition. We argue that one traditional definition of ‘truth-functionality’ is immune from the counterexamples that (...) class='Hi'>Schnieder proposes and is preferable to Schnieder’s alternative. (shrink)
This paper discusses the significance of non-causal dependence for truthmaker theory. After introducing truthmaker theory (section 1), I discuss a challenge to it levelled by BenjaminSchnieder. I argue that Schnieder’s challenge can be met once we acknowledge the existence of non-causal dependence and of explanations which rely on it (sections 2 to 5). I then mount my own argument against truthmaker theory, based on the notion of non-causal dependence (sections 6 and 7).
Benjamin Franklin's social and political thought was shaped by contacts with and knowledge of ancient aboriginal traditions. Indeed, a strong case can be made that key features of the social structure eventually outlined in the United States Constitution arose not from European sources, and not full-grown from the foreheads of European-American "founding fathers", but from aboriginal sources, communicated to the authors of the Constitution to a significant extent through Franklin. A brief sketch of the main argument to this effect (...) is offered in this essay. (shrink)
In the paper we discuss criticisms against David Armstrong’s general theory of truthmaking by Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra, Peter Schulte and BenjaminSchnieder, and conclude that Armstrong’s theory survives these criticisms. Special attention is given to the problems concerning Entailment Principle, Conjunction Thesis, Disjunction Thesis and to the notion of explanation.
In this major reinterpretation, Howard Caygill argues that all of Benjamin's work is characterized by its focus on a concept of experience derived from Kant but applied by Benjamin to objects as diverse as urban experience, visual art, literature and philosophy. The book analyzes the development of Benjamin's concept of experience in his early writings showing that it emerges from an engagement with visual experience, and in particular the experience of colour. By representing Benjamin as (...) primarily a thinker of the visual field, Caygill is able to bring forward previously neglected texts on inscription and the visual field and to cast many of his more familiar texts, for instance the Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction in a new light. (shrink)
The paper explores the role played by concepts of temporality in shaping the self's identity and its moral responsibility. This theme is examined in both Kant and Benjamin, two theorists who view the modern self as an essentially historical being. For Kant, teleological and uniform time shoulders the heightening of the self's universal attributes and the constant expansion of a moral community. The desired end is the establishment of an integrated and homogeneous human space, a cosmopolitan stage wherein history (...) is finally redeemed. This progressive notion of time is seen as dangerous by Benjamin, since it generates forgetfulness and inner impoverishment of the self. Instead, Benjamin advances a fragmented conception of time, one allowing conversation between distant moments and grounding identity in concrete images. While the poetic recovery of memory leads to the distinct and exclusive, Benjamin follows Kant in demanding universal moral responsibility of the self. However, Benjamin's strategy, so to speak, is the integration of our temporal - not spatial - experience. Key Words: Benjamin history Kant nation-state space time. (shrink)
The technological transformation of the conduct of war, exemplified by the American employment of drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq, calls for a critical reflection about the fantasies that underpin, and are in turn animated by, the robotic revolution of the military. At play here is a fantasy of a “costless war" or a “sterile war", that is such act of military state violence against the other that is inconsequential for the self. In other words, the seductive appeal of the (...) “costless war’ fantasy rests on the desire to develop a self that is invulnerable in the face of violence. Importantly, it is a desire explicitly projected towards a particular American future (of an imagined warfare, or of a super-power status), but also one that is connected to a lacking critical reflection about the intersubjective aspects of violence in the debates about America’s post-9/11 military involvements. This article reflects critically about the fantasy of the “costless war" and about its underpinning politics of invulnerability from a perhaps unlikely angle of literature. In a close reading of a short story by Benjamin Percy called “Refresh, Refresh" (2008), it explores its narrative insights into how acts of violence, which are undertaken far from home, inevitably return to affect and damage, perhaps beyond repair, the subject at home. Importantly, the return of violence in Percy’s story occurs within the domain of the everyday and the mundane, not of the exceptional, and testifies to the despair experienced by young males “abandoned" by their military fathers. My interpretation draws also on theoretical explorations of the connection between violence, intersubjectivity and vulnerability, based on the ideas of Emmanuel Levinas on the subject's ethical captivity by the suffering of the other, and on Judith Butler's recent “uses" of the Levinasian ethical project in her writing about the post-9/11 America. (shrink)
Walter Benjamin is discussed in this article to speak to the character of our experiences in the world as we try to animate our freedom in the midst of phantasmagoria. While we may indeed be trapped in the slumber of phantasmagoria and its many nightmares of despair, it is still possible to blast away the sands of sleep and awaken to a morally redeemed world fashioned through our engagement with various dreams of freedom. First, this article will explore the (...) concept of phantasmagoria, which is a symbolically rich term used by Benjamin to speak to the complex ways in which we are mired within the combined material and aesthetic trappings of an advanced capitalist world. Such an exploration will consider three archetypes of character (the gambler, the flâneur and the collector) and their corresponding experiences (fashion, boredom and interiority) in an attempt to unite various convolutes from The Arcades Project to consider freedom in a world spectrally haunted by such phantasmagoria. Second, we will consider the possibility of becoming dialectically startled before the angel of history and its potential to animate our weak Messianic power. Such an act must involve the building-up of a redemptive imagination as a means to speak the truth of our place as the makers of value in the world challenged to destine our own journey in the ongoing project of justice. (shrink)
We all seem to think that we do the acts we do because we consciously choose to do them. This commonsense view is thrown into dispute by Benjamin Libet's eyebrow-raising experiments, which seem to suggest that conscious will occurs not before but after the start of brain activity that produces physical action. Libet's striking results are often claimed to undermine traditional views of free will and moral responsibility and to have practical implications for criminal justice. His work has also (...) stimulated a flurry of further fascinating scientific research--including findings in psychology by Dan Wegner and in neuroscience by John-Dylan Haynes--that raises novel questions about whether conscious will plays any causal role in action. Critics respond that both commonsense views of action and traditional theories of moral and legal responsibility, as well as free will, can survive the scientific onslaught of Libet and his progeny. To further this lively debate, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel have brought together prominent experts in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and law to discuss whether our conscious choices really cause our actions, and what the answers to that question mean for how we view ourselves and how we should treat each other. (shrink)
Both Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin borrow from Freudian theory in their analyses of fetishism’s relation to the contemporary reception of cultural products. I will argue that both authors have confused the Marxian and Freudian theories of fetishism, resulting in mistaken conclusions about artistic reception. By disentangling the Marxian and Freudian elements in both authors’ positions, I want to show that 1) Adorno’s characterization of regressive listening implies, contrary to his intentions, that the current reception of artwork is in (...) fact antagonistic to fetishism, and that 2) his criticism of Benjamin’s optimism toward “reception in distraction” is nevertheless justified. If I am correct, it may be necessary to reassess Adorno’s demand for asceticism in advanced art. The current danger may not be “fetishism” at all, but rather the troublesome consequences of fetishism’s decline. (shrink)
The essay shows the common ground between music and philosophy from the origin of Western philosophy to the crisis of metaphysical thinking, in particular with Nietzsche and Benjamin. At the beginning, the relationship between philosophy and music is marked by the hegemony of the word on the sound. This is the nature of the Platonic idea of music. With Nietzsche and Benjamin this hegemony is denied and a new vision of the relationship becomes possible. The sound is the (...) origin both of language and of music. In thinking about this origin, philosophy shows that “thinking about music” is “thinking in music”, and that this thinking is the origin of philosophy itself. (shrink)
The essence of the moral luck question is whether the responsibility of persons is determined only in light of actions that are within their control or also in light of factors, such as the consequences of their actions, which are beyond their control. Most people seem to have contrasting intuitions regarding this question. On the one hand, there is a common intuition that the responsibility of persons should be judged only in light of what is within their control. On the (...) other hand, there is a strong intuition that the consequences of actions sometimes affect the responsibility of agents even when these consequences depend on factors that are beyond their control. A parallel dilemma is present in the law. Legal rules, particularly criminal law rules and tort rules, often differentiate between agents in light of factors that are beyond their control, and in this sense involve legal luck. Of course, factors beyond the control of persons, including the consequences of their actions, can be significant, with respect to the evaluation of the responsibility of persons for instrumental or epistemic reasons. The question is thus only with respect to the independent significance of factors beyond the control of agents, and particularly the consequences of actions, to the evaluation of the (extent of the) responsibility of agents. Benjamin Zipursky offers an interesting argument in order to support the intuition in favor of moral and legal luck, particularly with regard to consequences, especially the rule according to which the punishment of completed offences is more severe than the punishment of attempts and the rule that tort liability applies only to actions that have caused harm. The aim of this Comment is to evaluate this argument. I will try to consider to what extent Zipursky's explanation merely reiterates the familiar intuition that the normative evaluation of the conduct of persons should be influenced by consequential luck, and to what extent it provides new insights that might appeal also to those who are more forcefully drawn to the contrasting intuition that we should judge people only in light of factors that are within their control. I argue that while Zipursky's suggestions might appeal to those who already share the intuition in favor of (consequential) moral and legal luck, they would not convince those who have doubts regarding moral and legal luck. (shrink)
Bovens (2010) points out that there is a structural analogy between the Judy Benjamin problem (JB) and the Sleeping Beauty problem (SB). On grounds of this structural analogy, he argues that both should receive the same solution, viz. the posterior probability of the eastern region of the matrix in Table 1 should equal 1/3. Hence, P*(Red) = 1/3 in the JB and P*(Heads) = 1/3 in the SB. Bovens’s argument rests on a standard error in implementing Bayesian updating, which (...) is spelled out in Shafer 1985. When we are informed of some proposition, we do not only learn the proposition in question, but also that we have learned the proposition as one of the many propositions that we might have learned. The information is generated by a protocol, which determines the various propositions that we might learn. We should then update not on the proposition in question, but rather on the fact that we learned this proposition as one of the many propositions that we might have learned. A well-known application of this insight is the Monty Hall problem (MH) as Speed (1985: 276) points out in a discussion of Shafer 1985. As an illustration, let us apply Shafer’s insight to the MH. In the MH, the contestant in a game show learns that there is a goat behind two of three doors X, Y and Z and a car behind one door. She is asked to pick one of the three doors. The contestant picks door X. Monty will then open one of the remaining doors, which he knows to have a goat behind it. Suppose Monty opens door Y. The contestant is then asked whether she wants to …. (shrink)
I. Introduction Most philosophers today have never heard of Benjamin Whichcote (1609-83), and most of the few who have heard of him know only that he was the founder of Cambridge Platonism.1 He is well worth learning more about, however. For Whichcote was a vital influence on both Ralph Cudworth and the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, through whom he helped shape the views of Clarke and Price, on the one hand, and Hutcheson and Hume, on the other. Whichcote should (...) thus be seen as a grandparent of both the rationalist and the sentimentalist strands of eighteenth century British ethical theory. In this paper, I will elucidate the particular ethical positions of Whichcote’s that played such an important role. Whichcote’s thought is interesting in its own right, moreover, as a lens for examining the implications of certain prevalent religious and moral commitments. In what follows, then, I will also seek to show that Whichcote’s profoundly theistic view of human nature is ultimately incompatible with the belief that is fundamental to his Christianity. Perhaps the idea of an irresolvable conflict between Whichcote’s Christianity and his theism sounds at first a bit paradoxical. I hope, though, that by the end of this paper it will be clear how, for many 17th century rationalists, such a conflict was virtually inevitable. (shrink)
Van Fraassen's Judy Benjamin problem has generally been taken to show that not all rational changes of belief can be modelled in a probabilistic framework if the available update rules are restricted to Bayes's rule and Jeffrey's generalization thereof. But alternative rules based on distance functions between probability assignments that allegedly can handle the problem seem to have counterintuitive consequences. Taking our cue from a recent proposal by Bradley, we argue that Jeffrey's rule can solve the Judy Benjamin (...) problem after all. Moreover, we show that the specific instance of Jeffrey's rule that solves the Judy Benjamin problem can be underpinned by a particular distance function. Finally, we extend the set of distance functions to ones that take into account the varying degrees to which propositions may be epistemically entrenched. (shrink)
In discussing the cultural history of the 19th century, Walter Benjamin diagnosed the emergence of the modern novel and its form of narration as the sign of a fracturing experience. The split in experience is related to the scattering of a homogeneous idea of space and time, constituted especially during the Enlightenment and in the German historicism. Benjamin's claim reflected the fracturing temporality of modern communities as well as the transformations in the understanding of the meaning of tradition. (...) Here, I begin by discussing Benjamin's conceptions of experience and memory in detail. Secondly, I consider his ideas on history in the framework of challenging the new forms of narration. In the end, I consider the loss of a unified community, especially by indicating ways in which the after-modern community reflects the relationship between aesthetics and politics in Jean-François Lyotard's thought. Key Words: Benjamin community experience history Lyotard memory narrative remembrance time. (shrink)
On 9 December 1930, Walter Benjamin sent a copy of his book The Origin of German Tragic Drama to Carl Schmitt, accompanied by a letter in which he expressed his indebtedness to Schmitt: "You will very quickly recognize how much my book is indebted to you for its presentation of the doctrine of sovereignty in the seventeenth century. Perhaps I may say, in addition, that I have also derived from your later works, especially Die Diktatur, a confirmation of my (...) modes of research in the philosophy of art from yours in the philosophy of the state. If the reading of my book allows this feeling to emerge in an intelligible fashion, then the purpose of my sending it to you will be achieved" (qtd. in Weber 1992, 5). As .. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to examine the ateleological moment of learning through imitation. In general, we can learn something new through imitating models we are given, which embody the values of our own society, culture and institutions. This means that imitation is understood in terms of the representation or reproduction of original models. In this understanding of imitation, however, the creative aspect of imitation is missed. In relation to this I shall, first, consider learning through imitation in terms (...) of Walter Benjamin's theory of mimesis discussed in his essay, ‘On the Mimetic Faculty.’ It begins by examining general understanding of the concepts of experience and writing. Second and third, while reconsidering the idea of imitation, I shall bring out the difference between mimesis and copying, based on Plato and Aristotle, and I shall examine the former, especially its involuntary aspect. Fourth, in order to consider the ateleological moment of learning through imitation as mimesis, I discuss the relation between mimesis and the chance event. Fifth, Benjamin's allegorical ‘anti-autobiography’ entitled ‘A Berlin Childhood around 1900’, which ponders the idea of childhood as otherness is considered in order to explore what is happening in the very moment of writing, driven by the chance event. To conclude, I shall show how the very moment of writing involves an unceasing transformation of the self. (shrink)
I seek to interpret the work of Walter Benjamin in light of the "system programme" of German Idealism, in order to confront an antinomy of contemporary radical thought. Benjamin has been regarded as an anti-Hegelian thinker of the exception. Reading him against the grain, I draw out a concept of counter-tradition that eschews the opposition of intra-historical progress and extra-historical exception. The philological inspiration is a book by Franz Joseph Molitor, student of Schelling and "teacher" of Benjamin: (...) The Philosophy of History, or, On Tradition. (shrink)
Though the work of René Girard has highlighted the interrelations between sacrifice and sacrality in the contemporary world, it has yet to engage the work of Walter Benjamin and his heir, Giorgio Agamben, whose project concerning the Homo Sacer has aroused interest in contemporary political thought. By focusing on Benjamin's early description of mimesis and its relation to language, a position can be elaborated that steers mimesis clear of its indebtedness to language and towards a ‘purer’ realm of (...) gesture. Benjamin's formulation of a more proper ‘divine’ language of gestures could then be said to coalesce with certain historical-religious proclamations, something that Agamben's work challenges us to consider as a viable, albeit ‘profane’, political and ethical option for humanity. (shrink)