Anthony Ellis argues that institutional punishment occurs automatically in a way analogous to mechanical deterrents, and given that issuing real threats is justified for self-defence, institutional punishment, intended to protect society via deterrence, can be justified without violating the Kantian constraint against using persons as means only. But institutional punishments are not in fact executed automatically: they must be carried out by moral agents. Ellis fails to provide a basis for those agents to justify the performance of their legal duties.
On the 27th of October, 1949, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Manchester organized a symposium "Mind and Machine", as Michael Polanyi noted in his Personal Knowledge (1974, p. 261). This event is known, especially among scholars of Alan Turing, but it is scarcely documented. Wolfe Mays (2000) reported about the debate, which he personally had attended, and paraphrased a mimeographed document that is preserved at the Manchester University archive. He forwarded a copy to Andrew Hodges and (...) B. Jack Copeland, who in then published it on their respective websites. The basis of this interpretation here is the copy preserved in the Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago, Special Collections, Polanyi Collection (abbreviated RPC, box 22, folder 19). The same collection holds the mimeographed statement that Polanyi prepared for this symposium: "Can the mind be represented by a machine?" This text has not been studied by Polanyi scholars. (shrink)
At the philosophical foundations of our best and deepest theory of the structure of reality, namely quantum mechanics, there is an intellectual scandal that reflects badly on most of this century’s leading physicists and philosophers of physics. One way of making the nature of the scandal plain is simply to observe that this paper  by Lockwood is untainted by it. Lockwood gives us an up to date investigation of metaphysics, and discusses the implications of quantum theory for some of (...) the bread and butter concepts of philosophy, such as reality, the self and causality. The scandal is that there is very little other work of that description in the literature, and what little there is, is systematically disregarded by mainstream thinking in both philosophy and physics. Despite the unrivalled empirical success of quantum theory, the very suggestion that it may be literally true as a description of nature is still greeted with cynicism, incomprehension and even anger. (shrink)
For someone who is inclined towards truth monism and moral realism, reading this book is like journeying through a foreign country: somewhat disconcerting, but nonetheless enjoyable. Michael Lynch’s world is a stoutly naturalistic world, in which representation is conceived in terms of causal or teleological relations. This is a world in which it is hard to fit normative facts. Thus, the reader is told that there are good reasons to think that ‘moral properties, should they exist, would not be (...) the sort of properties with which we enter into causal contact’ (p. 161). But it is also a world in which thought is conceived of as unified, in the sense that propositions of all kinds, whether about middle-sized dry goods, mathematical objects, or morals, are truth-apt and cognitive, so that they can intermingle in reasoning. What we have, then, is the following: no moral facts in any serious sense of that term, but ordinary moral truth nonetheless. This is an interesting, but difficult, position. What it requires is a decidedly original account of truth, which Lynch dubs the functionalist theory of truth, according to which truth is both one and many. (shrink)
In Dong Zhongshu: A 'Confucian' Heritage and the Chunqiu Fanlu, eminent sinologist Michael Loewe shines a bright light on the traditionally seminal but consistently understudied figure of Dong Zhongshu. Having authored several monographs on the Han dynasty over the last four decades, including a recent two-volume Biographical Dictionary (2000) and a "Companion" to those volumes (2004),1 there is probably no one more suitable to undertake such an inquiry. Loewe's contextualization of Dong and the Chunqiu fanlu is thoroughly detailed and (...) well documented. Kudos to Brill for continuing to include all the attendant Chinese graphs and for publishing books with footnotes rather than endnotes (even if junior faculty .. (shrink)
Humans are pattern-seeking, storytelling animals. We look for and find patterns in our world and in our lives, then weave narratives around those patterns to bring them to life and give them meaning. Such is the stuff of which myth, religion, history, and science are made.
Purporting to show how Frege's contributions to philosophy of language and philosophical logic were developed with the aim of furthering his logicist programme, the author construes him as more systematic than is often recognized. Centrally, the notion of sense as espoused in Frege's monumental articles of the Nineties had only an ostensible justification as an account of the informativeness of a posteriori identity statements. In fact its rationale was to help articulate the thesis that arithmetical truth is analytic, since, it (...) is maintained, to sustain such a thesis the two sides of the identities at the heart of the logicist reconstruction must be shown to have the same sense. Yet the notion of sense required for the analyticity thesis was not, and could not have been, successfully deployed on behalf of Frege's logicism. For Frege also held that many arithmetical propositions, including, apparently, identities, are informative. But no proposition can be at once informative and analytic. Although systematic, Frege's work harbored a crucial internal tension. (shrink)