Both David Lewis and Roderick Chisholm have proposed that beliefs are best understood, not as relations between people and the propositions they believe, but as relations between people and the properties they "directly attribute" to themselves or "self-ascribe." If this account is correct for belief, it seems that it ought to be possible to extend it to other "propositional attitudes" such as considering and wishing. But the most straightforward way of extending the account to such other attitudes faces difficulties, some (...) of which are discussed in a paper by Peter J. Markie. In this paper I will show how to apply the account to considering and wishing in a way that avoids such difficulties. (shrink)
A good life, or a life worth living, is a one that is "better than nothing". At least that is a common thought. But it is puzzling. What does "nothing" mean here? It cannot be a quantifier in the familiar sense, yet nor, it seems, can it be a referring term. To what could it refer? This paper aims to resolve the puzzle by examining a number of analyses of the concept of a life worth living. Temporal analyses, which exploit (...) the temporal structure of lives, are distinguished from non-temporal ones. It is argued that the temporal analyses are better. (shrink)
In recent years, a number of moral philosophers have held both that there are particular moral truths, and also that there are no general moral principles which explain these particular moral truths--either because there simply are no moral principles, or because moral principles are themselves explained by or derived from particular moral truths rather than vice versa. Often this combination of doctrines is held by philosophers interested in reviving an Aristotelean approach..
Given Kant's exceptionless moral prohibition on lying, one might suspect that he is committed to a similar prohibition on withholding diagnostic and prognostic information from patients. I confirm this suspicion by adapting arguments against therapeutic privilege from his arguments against lying. However, I show that all these arguments are importantly flawed and submit that they should be rejected. A more compelling Kantian take on informed consent and therapeutic privilege is achievable, I argue, by focusing on Kant's duty of beneficence, which (...) requires us to aim at furthering others’ ends. But I show that there are some cases in which furthering a patient's ends requires withholding material medical information from her. Although I concede that these cases are probably quite rare, I conclude that the best Kantian thinking agrees with that of therapeutic privilege's advocates. (shrink)
How do reasons combine? How is it that several reasons taken together can have a combined weight which exceeds the weight of any one alone? I propose an answer in mereological terms: reasons combine by composing a further, complex reason of which they are parts. Their combined weight is the weight of their combination. I develop a mereological framework, and use this to investigate some structural views about reasons, the main two being "Atomism" and "Holism". Atomism is the view that (...) atomic reasons are fundamental: all reasons reduce to atomic reasons. Holism is the view that whole reasons are fundamental. I argue for Holism, and against Atomism. I also consider whether reasons might be "context-sensitive". (shrink)
The "No Ought From Is" principle (or "NOFI") states that a valid argument cannot have both an ethical conclusion and non-ethical premises. Arthur Prior proposed several well-known counterexamples, including the following: Tea-drinking is common in England; therefore, either tea-drinking is common in England or all New Zealanders ought to be shot. My aim in this paper is to defend NOFI against Prior's counterexamples. I propose two novel interpretations of NOFI and prove that both are true.
The influence of climate and the role of water security on economic growth are topics of growing interest. Few studies have investigated the potential role that climate hazards, which water security addresses, and their cumulative effects have on the growth prospects for a country. Owing to the relatively stationary spatial patterns of global climate, certain regions and countries are more prone to climate hazards and climate variability than others. For example, El Nino/Southern Oscillation patterns result in greater hydroclimatic variability in (...) much of the tropics than that experienced at higher latitudes. In this study, we use a precipitation index that preserves the spatial and temporal variability of precipitation and differentiates between precipitation maxima (e.g. floods) and minima (e.g. droughts). The index is a more precise instrument for hydroclimate hazards than that used in any previous studies. A fixed effects, for year and country, regression model was developed to test the influence of climate variables on measures of economic growth and activity. The results indicate that precipitation extremes (i.e. floods and droughts) are the dominant climate influences on economic growth and that the effects are significant and negative. The drought index was found to be associated with a highly significant negative influence on gross domestic product (GDP) growth, while the flood index was associated with a negative influence on GDP growth and lagged effects on growth. The flood index was also found to have a negative effect on industrial value added in contemporary and lagged regressions. Temperature was found to have little significant effect. These results have important implications for economic projections of climate change impacts. Perhaps more important, the results make clear that hydroclimatic hazards have measurable negative impacts, and thus lack of water security is an impediment to growth. In addition, adaptation strategies should recognize the importance of managing hazards given the identification of precipitation extremes as the key climate influence on historical GDP growth. (shrink)
Abstract This essay is a response to three review articles on two recently published books dealing with aspects of Hinduism and science: Jonathan Edelmann's Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Contemporary Theory, and my own, Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma and Design. The task set by the editor of Zygon for the three reviewers was broad: they could make specific critiques of the two books, or they could use them as starting points to engage in a broad (...) discussion of Hinduism and science, or religion and science in general. In my response, I first provide a fairly detailed reply to David Gosling's many critiques of my book, and in the process call into question his Advaitic conciliation of Hinduism and science. Thomas Ellis's thesis of basic incompatibility between Hinduism and science is much closer to my own viewpoint. One of the main objectives of my book was to explain and illustrate this incompatibility with specific regard to Hindu and Darwinian perspectives on evolution. In this essay I provide a few examples in support of Ellis's incompatibility thesis, encompassing both epistemological and metaphysical dissonances. Finally, I reflect upon Varadaraja V. Raman's wide-ranging exposition on the all-encompassing nature of the Hindu tradition that readily accommodates both religious and scientific quests for knowledge. Raman uses the two books only as starting points for his own thoughts, without reference to my book. I confine myself, accordingly, to a brief critique of his complementarity approach to Hinduism and science, and of his radical inclusivism that enfolds basically all philosophical positions into the warm embrace of the Hindu tradition, including even the extreme antireligious materialism of the Cārvāka. (shrink)
Recent epistemology has introduced a new criterion of adequacy for analyses of knowledge: such an analysis, to be adequate, must be compatible with the common view that knowledge is better than true belief. One account which is widely thought to fail this test is reliabilism, according to which, roughly, knowledge is true belief formed by reliable process. Reliabilism fails, so the argument goes, because of the "swamping problem". In brief, provided a belief is true, we do not care whether or (...) not it was formed by a reliable process. The value of reliability is "swamped" by the value of truth: truth combined with reliability is no better than truth alone. This paper approaches these issues from the perspective of decision theory. It argues that the "swamping effect" involves a sort of information-sensitivity that is well modelled decision-theoretically. It then employs this modelling to investigate a strategy, proposed by Goldman and Olsson, for saving reliabilism from the swamp, the so-called "conditional probability solution". It concludes that the strategy is only partially successful. (shrink)
Using various meanings of ?visit? and ?friend? this essay freely explores connections between Milton's cultivation of fame in Europe, leading to reports in the early lives of visits of scholarly foreigners to his door, and the extraordinary concentration on scenarios of human and divine visitation in the late poems. Social, political and religious strands are followed, from humanist self-presentation in the sonnets through to prophetic isolation in the late poems. Codes of friendship are rehearsed concerning confidentiality and betrayal, and attention (...) is paid to the effect of blindness on the activities of the humanist writer, the need for supporting visits, and an increasing interiority and preoccupation with the responsibilities of those engaged with God's special causes. The proto-humanist visit of Raphael to Adam in Paradise Lost and the many guiding visitations in that poem are contrasted with the situation in Samson Agonistes, where divine guidance is presented as clearer in the past than the present, and the reader is invited to share difficulties of discernment in the Restoration world, prefigured in Judges. The essay ends with the simultaneous publication of Milton's humanist legacy and sale of many of his foreign-language books. (shrink)
Ethical descriptivism is the view that all ethical properties are descriptive properties. Frank Jackson has proposed an argument for this view which begins with the premise that the ethical supervenes on the descriptive, any worlds that differ ethically must differ also descriptively. This paper observes that Jackson's argument has a curious structure, taking a linguistic detour between metaphysical starting and ending points, and raises some worries stemming from this. It then proposes an improved version of the argument, which avoids these (...) worries, and responds to some potential objections to this version of the argument. (shrink)
In Better Never to Have Been, David Benatar argues that existence is always a harm (Benatar 2006, pp. 18--59). His argument, in brief, is that this follows from a theory of personal good which we ought to accept because it best explains several 'asymmetries'. I shall argue here (a) that Benatar's theory suffers from a defect which was already widely known to afflict similar theories, and (b) that the main asymmetry he discusses is better explained in a way which allows (...) that existence is often not a harm. (shrink)
To 'consequentialise' is to take a putatively non-consequentialist moral theory and show that it is actually just another form of consequentialism. Some have speculated that every moral theory can be consequentialised. If this were so, then consequentialism would be empty; it would have no substantive content. As I argue here, however, this is not so. Beginning with the core consequentialist commitment to 'maximising the good', I formulate a precise definition of consequentialism and demonstrate that, given this definition, several sorts of (...) moral theory resist consequentialisation. My strategy is to decompose consequentialism into three conditions, which I call 'agent neutrality', 'no moral dilemmas', and 'dominance', and then to exhibit some moral theories which violate each of these. (shrink)
This paper looks at nine different ways of defining scientism in order to show that potential definitions of the term conform to a general pattern: a definition of scientism either is self-defeating or else cannot really count as a construal of scientism in the first place. Advocates for the experimental sciences would therefore be better off accepting a middle position—one might say a broadly Thomistic approach to science—between the extremes of scientism on the one hand and a religious fundamentalism that (...) ignores the important contributions of the experimental sciences on the other. Such a middle position recognizes both the intellectual significance and the inherent limitations of the scientific method employed within the experimental sciences. (shrink)
Few think that Kant’s moral theory can provide a defensible view in the area of environmental ethics because of Kant’s well-known insistence that all nonhumans are mere means. An examination of the relevant arguments, however, shows that they do not entitle Kant to his position. Moreover, Kant’s own Formula of Universal Law generates at least one important and basic duty which is owed both to human beings and to nonhuman animals. The resulting Kantian theory not only is sounder and more (...) intuitive than the original, but also boasts some notable theoretical advantages over some of the most prominent views in environmental ethics. (shrink)
The paper examines variations in the extent of special education needs (SEN) in different socio-economic contexts, drawing on data from 46 English primary schools. It examines the implications of variations in SEN for individual pupils and for school organisation and processes. It reviews funding allocations for SEN and what they mean for the provision of support in different settings.
Narrow mental content is a kind of mental content that does not depend on an individual's environment. Narrow content contrasts with “broad” or “wide” content, which depends on features of the individual's environment as well as on features of the individual. It is controversial whether there is any such thing as narrow content. Assuming that there is, it is also controversial what sort of content it is, what its relation to ordinary or “broad” content is, and how it is determined (...) by the individual's intrinsic properties. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of prioritarianism, the view that we ought to give priority to those who are worse off, have hitherto been almost exclusively focused on cases involving a fixed population. The aim of this paper is to extend the discussion of prioritarianism to encompass also variable populations. I argue that prioritarianism, in its simplest formulation, is not tenable in this area. However, I also propose several revised formulations that, so I argue, show more promise.