Ricœur and Levinas both think the constitution of the subject on the basis of a critique of consciousness. Subjectivity is to think from the proof of a sense that the subject does not constitute, but that requires the subject. Yet Levinas and Ricœur don't achieve this critique in the same way. The aim of this article is to confront these different ways.
There is witness, a unique structure, an exception to the rule of being, irreducible to representation, only of the Infinite (OB 146). It is with this excessive phrase that Levinas collects his thoughts on testimony. How are we to understand this excess? If the phrase is excessive, it is not an exaggerated phrase — not a phrase which, by its very exaggeration, would hold that testimony achieves its supreme signification in religious experience. It is not a question here of giving (...) value to the primacy of religious experience over all other experience, but rather a question of showing that religion, understood as the relation to the holy, to what is absolutely separate, is not of the nature of experience — that is, not of the nature of comprehension and thematization, if experience means thematization. The religious manifests no primacy here, but rather an irreducible singularity, an exception. If there is a restriction, it is not to the benefit of an experience, but rather to that which escapes experience, to the benefit of what alone gives rise to no experience. The Infinite is not the witnessed par excellence, the supreme witnessed (the supreme witness falling to the supreme existent), but that to which we can only bear witness and which alone gives rise to a testimony: “testimony does not thematize that of which it is the witness, and as such it can be a witnessing only of the Infinite” (GDT 196–97). That one can bear witness only to the Infinite means that one can bear witness only to that which absolutely escapes experience, which consequently means that “testimony . . . does not presuppose an experience”(GDT 197). (shrink)
A few decades ago, only isolated groups of philosophers counted the phenomenon of normativity as one of their principal interests. Rules and norms have always, of course, been in the purview of moral philosophers, who often took them as exceedingly abstract entities, if not directly metaphysical. Philosophers from the border territories of philosophy and social sciences, on the other hand, were interested in more concrete norms, namely those that emerge and survive within human societies. Philosophers of law stood between these (...) two extremes, studying law as a matter of socially instituted norms which, however, might be seen as a projection of something more esoteric. The research programs of these groups of philosophers had little overlap. And for philosophers of mind, of language, or of science (with the exception of a few philosophers of social sciences, such as Peter Winch), norms were at most only of marginal interest. This situation has changed hugely over recent decades. I think the catalyst was the interest in rules and norms within the philosophy of language, which was kindled by the ongoing reception of the later Wittgenstein. Other philosophers, like Michael Dummett and Wilfrid Sellars, also deserve part of the credit. Via philosophy of language, interest in norms invaded sections of philosophy of mind, too, and the previously isolated studies of various types of norms slowly became interconnected, if not directly integrated. No wonder that more and more general studies of the nature of rules and norms are now reaching the light of day. Andrei Marmor's Social Conventions is one of the most recent contributions. Marmor sees a social convention as a specific kind of norm characterized especially by its arbitrariness. More precisely, a rule is conventional, according to the author, iff (i) some people follow it; (ii) they have a reason to follow it; and (iii) there is an alternative rule that they could have followed for the same reason. The point of departure for Marmor's analysis is David Lewis's theory of convention F1F, which, however, he considers too narrow and hence extends it considerably. Lewis's idea is that norms result from certain spontaneous processes by which society reacts to coordination problems.. (shrink)
Abstract. The paper argues for the following points: (1) Marmor's own understanding of "legal positivism" is different from the understanding defended, e.g., by Herbert Hart and Norberto Bobbio, and apparently misleads him into the wrong track of a theoretical inversion; (2) Marmor's two-stages model of (legal) interpretation—the understanding-interpretion model—provides no support for Marmor's own positivistic theory of law; (3) Marmor's concept of interpretation is at odds both with the basic tenets of Hartian and Continental methodological legal positivism, on the one (...) hand, and with the actual practice of legal interpretation in the Western world, on the other hand; (4) Marmor's concept of an easy case is likewise objectionable. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- 1. The Value of Vagueness, Timothy Endicott -- 2. Vagueness and the Guidance of Action, Jeremy Waldron -- 3. What Vagueness and Inconsistency tell us about Interpretation, Scott Soames -- 4. Textualism and the Discovery of Rights, John Perry -- 5. The Intentionalism of Textualism, Stephen Neale -- 6. Can the Law Imply More than It Says? On some pragmatic aspects of Strategic Speech, Andrei Marmor -- 7. Modeling Legal Rules, Richard Holton -- 8. (...) Trying to Kill the Dead: De Dicto and De Re Intention in Attempted Crimes, Gideon Yaffe -- 9. Philosophy of Language and the Law of Contracts, Gideon Rosen -- 10. Language and Law: Who's in Charge?, Mark Greenberg -- 11. Meaning and Impact, Nicos Stavropoulos. (shrink)
On the Causal Theory of Action (CTA), internal proper parts of an agent such as desires and intentions are causally responsible for actions. CTA has increasingly come under attack for its alleged failure to account for agency. A recent version of this criticism due to François Schroeter proposes that CTA cannot provide an adequate account of either the executive control or the autonomous control involved in full-fledged agency. Schroeter offers as an alternative a revised understanding of the proper role of (...) consciousness in agency. In this paper we criticize Schroeter’s analysis of the type of consciousness involved in executive control and examine the way in which the conscious self allegedly intervenes in action. We argue that Schroeter’s proposal should not be preferred over recent versions of CTA. (shrink)
The purpose of this essay is to explore some of the main pragmatic aspects of communication within the legal context. It will be argued that in some crucial respects, the pragmatics of legal language is unique, involving considerations that are not typically present in ordinary conversational contexts. In particular, certain normative considerations that are typically settled in a regular conversational context are unresolved and potentially contentious in the legal case. On the other hand, the essay also argues that a careful (...) distinction between various pragmatic aspects of language use enables us to offer some generalizations about types of pragmatic enrichment that could be taken to form, or not to form, part of what is actually determined by legal expressions. (shrink)
In this publisher's preface to 'Beobachtungen über den Geist des Menschen und dessen Verhältniß zur Welt' - outstanding, but, despite its merits, so far almost totally unknown philosophical treatise of the late Enlightenment, published in 1790 under a pseudonym 'Andrei Peredumin Koliwanow', I show that the real author of this book was an educator Christlieb Feldstrauch (1734 - 1799).
Research on the nature of dispositionality or causal power has flourished in recent years in metaphysics. This trend has slowly begun to influence debates in the philosophy of agency, especially in the literature on free will. Both sophisticated versions of agent-‐causalism and the new varieties of dispositionalist compatibilism exploit recently developed accounts of dispositionality in their defense. In this paper, I examine recent work on agent-‐causal power, focusing primarily on the account of agent-‐causalism developed and defended by Timothy O’Connor’s in (...) his work on free will. Assuming the existence of irreducible causal powers, I offer an. (shrink)
author. University Professor in the School of Law, Columbia University. (From July 2006, Professor of Law, New York University.) Earlier versions of this Essay were presented at the Colloquium in Legal and Social Philosophy at University College London, at a law faculty workshop at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at a constitutional law conference at Harvard Law School. I am particularly grateful to Ronald Dworkin, Ruth Gavison, and Seana Shiffrin for their formal comments on those occasions and also to (...) James Allan, Aharon Barak, Richard Bellamy, Aileen Cavanagh, Arthur Chaskalson, Michael Dorf, Richard Fallon, Charles Fried, Andrew Geddis, Stephen Guest, Ian Haney-Lopez, Alon Harel, David Heyd, Sam Issacharoff, Elena Kagan, Kenneth Keith, Michael Klarman, John Manning, Andrei Marmor, Frank Michelman, Henry Monaghan, Véronique Munoz-Dardé, John Morley, Matthew Palmer, Richard Pildes, Joseph Raz, Carol Sanger, David Wiggins, and Jo Wolff for their suggestions and criticisms. Hundreds of others have argued with me about this issue over the years: This Essay is dedicated to all of them, collegially and with thanks. (shrink)
We argue that it is most rational for God, given God's character and policies, to adopt an open-door policy towards those in hell – making it possible for those in hell to escape. We argue that such a policy towards the residents of hell should issue from God's character and motivational states. In particular, God's parental love ought to motivate God to extend the provision for reconciliation with Him for an infinite amount of time.
The case is discussed for the doctrine of hell as posing a unique problem of evil for adherents to the Abrahamic religions who endorse traditional theism. The problem is particularly acute for those who accept retributivist formulations of the doctrine of hell according to which hell is everlasting punishment for failing to satisfy some requirement. Alternatives to retributivism are discussed, including the unique difficulties that each one faces.
In this paper I will present and evaluate Anandi Hattiangadi’s arguments for the conclusion that meaning is not intrinsically normative or prescriptive. I will argue that she misconstrues the way the thesis that meaning is normative is presented in the literature and that there is an important class of semantic rules that she fails to consider and rule out. According to Hattiangadi, defenders of meaning prescriptivity argue that speaking truthfully is a necessary condition for speaking meaningfully. I will maintain that (...) this is not how prescriptivity is construed by ‘normativists’ such as Kripke, Hacker and Baker, Brandom and Millar. I think that Hattiangadi misconstrues the prescriptivity thesis because she does not distinguish between the general notion of correctness of use and the specific notion of correctness of application. In other words, she does not distinguish between using a term correctly and applying it truthfully. In addition, I submit that there is an important class of semantic rules determining correct use that Hattiangadi does not consider. Following the later Wittgenstein, Hacker and Baker argue that accepted explanations of the meanings of words have the function of semantic rules. These rules are categorically prescriptive because following them is constitutive of being a speaker of a language. (shrink)
This paper argues that the literal meaning of words in a natural language is less conventional than usually assumed. Conventionality is defined in terms that are relative to reasons; norms that are determined by reasons are not conventions. The paper argues that in most cases, the literal meaning of words—as it applies to their definite extension—is not conventional. Conventional variations of meaning are typically present in borderline cases, of what I call the extension-range of literal meaning. Finally, some putative and (...) one or two genuine exceptions are discussed. (shrink)
Nishi Shah has argued that the norm of truth is a prescriptive norm which regulates doxastic deliberation. Also, the acceptance of the norm of truth explains why belief is subject to norms of evidence. Steglich-Petersen pointed out that the norm of truth cannot be prescriptive because it cannot be broken deliberatively. More recently, Pascal Engel suggested that both the norms of truth and evidence are deliberately violated in cases of epistemic akrasia. The akratic agent accepts these norms but in some (...) cases he is not motivated by them. In this paper I will argue that Shah cannot use Engel's suggestion because, given his definition of doxastic deliberation, epistemic akrasia is impossible in the context of deliberation about belief. Furthermore, epistemic akrasia is in conflict with the phenomenon of doxastic transparency that Shah tries to explain. (shrink)
I examine Galen Strawson's recent work on mental action in his paper, 'Mental Ballistics or The Involuntariness of Spontaneity'. I argue that his account of mental action is too restrictive. I offer a means of testing tokens of mental activity types to determine if they are actional. The upshot is that a good deal more mental activity than Strawson admits is actional.
In our paper, ‘Escaping hell: divine motivation and the problem of hell’, we defended a theory of hell that we called ‘escapism’. We argued that given God’s just and loving character it would be most rational for God to maintain an open door policy to those who are in hell, allowing them an unlimited number of chances to be reconciled with God and enjoy communion with God. In this paper we reply to two recent objections to our original paper. The (...) first is an argument from religious luck offered by Rusty Jones. The second is an argument from Kyle Swan that alleges that our commitments about the nature of reasons for action still leaves escapism vulnerable to an objection we labeled the ‘Job objection’ in our original paper. In this paper we argue that escapism has the resources built into it needed to withstand the objections from Jones and Swan. (shrink)
In Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation,1 William Abraham offers a rich, subtle defense of an epistemology of divine revelation. While I believe there is much about Abraham’s work that is commendable, my remarks in this paper will be primarily critical. But the fact that Abraham’s work is worthy of critical comment should be evidence enough of the importance of Abraham’s book. My focus here will be on a cluster of metaepistemological claims made by Abraham. Specifically, I will argue that (...) Abraham’s remarks about epistemic fit and the epistemic standards we bring to bear in making evaluations of divine revelation claims commit him to a species of epistemic relativism. This may not be a problem. I am not interested in offering an argument against epistemic relativism.2 I suspect, however, that Abraham does not think of himself as an epistemic relativist.3 If this is the case, then I believe Abraham needs to rethink his metaepistemological commitments that imply epistemic relativism. (shrink)
We focus on the recent non-causal theory of reasons explanationsof free action proffered by a proponent of the agency theory, Timothy O'Connor. We argue that the conditions O'Connor offersare neither necessary nor sufficient for a person to act for a reason. Finally, we note that the role O'Connor assigns toreasons in the etiology of actions results in further conceptual difficulties for agent-causalism.
In this paper we examine and critique the constitution view of the metaphysics of resurrection developed and defended by Lynne Rudder Baker. Baker identifies three conditions for an adequate metaphysics of resurrection. We argue that one of these, the identity condition, cannot be met on the constitution view given the account of personal identity it assumes. We discuss some problems with the constitution theory of personal identity Baker develops in her book, Persons and Bodies . We argue that these problems (...) render the constitution theory of personal identity as stated by Baker untenable. The upshot for the debate over the metaphysics of resurrection is that the constitution view of the metaphysics of resurrection must either be rejected or modified. (shrink)
The idea that films can be philosophical, or in some sense 'do' philosophy, has recently found a number of prominent proponents. What is at stake here is generally more than the tepid claim that some documentaries about philosophy and related topics convey philosophically relevant content. Instead, the contention is that cinematic fictions, including popular movies such as The Matrix , make significant contributions to philosophy. Various more specific claims are linked to this basic idea. One, relatively weak, but pedagogically important (...) observation is that some films can be used to provide philosophy students with vivid and thought-provoking illustrations of philosophical issues. Film screenings stimulate discussion and may motivate renewed engagement with difficult philosophical texts. A stronger contention, however, seeks to link innovative and philosophically valuable thinking to 'the film itself' or to the 'specificity of the cinematic medium'. Such claims raise interesting questions, including questions about the status of the increasingly prevalent philosophically motivated interpretations of particular movies. Who is actually doing the philosophizing in such cases? Is it the audio-visual display, the film-maker, or the philosopher who devises an interpretation of the work? What is the role of specifically cinematic devices in the philosophical points made in such interpretations? Is there any tension between the goal of appreciating a film as a work of art and the goal of arguing that a film has significant implications for a position on a problem in philosophy? A course in the general area of cinema as philosophy can focus on issues related to the locus and status of cinematic philosophizing. It can also delve into specific films and film-makers and philosophically oriented interpretations of specific philosophical topics, such as personal identity. Issues pertaining to interpretation, meaning, and authorship can be usefully investigated in this connection, as can topics in meta-philosophy related to the very nature of philosophical insight or knowledge. Author Recommends Carroll, Noël and Jinhee Choi, eds. 2008. The Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: An Anthology , Part VIII: Film and Knowledge. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 381–405. Inclues a brief introduction by Carroll followed by papers by Bruce Russell, Karen Hanson, and Lester H. Hunt. Kania, Andrew, ed. 2009. Memento . London: Routledge. A number of philosophers elucidate philosophical themes in Memento and discuss more general issues pertaining to cinema's philosophical significance. Livingston, Paisley. 2009. Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman: On Film as Philosophy . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Part 1 surveys arguments surrounding the cinema as philosophy theme, providing detailed criticisms of some of the bold theses in this area. Part 2 discusses issues related to cinematic authorship and the status of philosophically motivated interpretations of works of fiction, arguing for a partial intentionalist account of a work's meanings. Part 3 illustrates the intentionalist principles in a discussion of Ingmar Bergman's philosophical sources, providing insight into themes of motivated irrationality, inauthenticity, and self-knowledge in some of Bergman's works. Livingston, Paisley and Carl Plantinga, eds. 2009. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film , Part IV: Film as Philosophy. London: Routledge. 547–659. Offers a succinct survey by Wartenberg as well as entries on Ingmar Bergman, Terrence Malick, and Andrei Tarkovsky, discussions of film and specific philosophical topics (morality, skepticism, personal identity, and practical wisdom), and examples of philosophically motivated interpretations of three specific films: The Five Obstructions , Gattaca , and Memento . Smith, Murray and Thomas E. Wartenberg, eds. 2006. Thinking Through Cinema: Film as Philosophy . Malden, MA: Blackwell. A collection of papers that combines essays devoted to general positions on the cinema as philosophy topic as well as specific interpretations of works in different genres. Turvey, Malcolm. 2008. Doubting Vision: Film and the Revelationist Tradition . Oxford: Oxford University Press. A probing critical investigation into the assumptions underlying influential philosophical claims about the epistemic value of cinema. Wartenberg, Thomas E. 2008. Thinking on Screen: Film as Philosophy . London: Routledge. Ably surveys and responds to arguments against the idea that films can 'do philosophy'. It defends a conditionalist form of intentionalism in response to the 'imposition objection' according to which it is only the commentator who reads philosophical themes 'into' the movie; illustrates the favored account of film as philosophy with interpretations of specific cinematic fictions. Online Materials Film-Philosophy http://www.film-philosophy.com/ > Founded in 1996, this peer-reviewed online journal is dedicated to philosophically oriented interpretations of films and cinema studies more generally. The e-mail salon encourages discussion of related topics. Includes essays, festival reports, calls for papers, conference and job information, and book reviews. The archive includes contributions from 1997 to the present. Wartenberg, Thomas E. 'Philosophy of Film.' The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ; http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/film/ > A brief survey of a range of issues in the philosophy of cinema including a few paragraphs on the film as philosophy topic. Philosophical Films http://www.philfilms.utm.edu/2/filmlist.htm > A briefly annotated list of philosophical films grouped in rubrics such as 'The Meaning of Life' and 'Environmental Ethics'. Sample Syllabus What follows is a 4-week 'start-up module' followed by samples of optional units that focus on particular topics and cinematic examples. Introductory Module Week I: Introduction & Overview Livingston, Paisley. 'Recent Work on Cinema as Philosophy.' Philosophy Compass 3 (2008): 1–14, 20 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2008.00158.x ). Wartenberg, Thomas E. 2009. 'Film as Philosophy.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Ed. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 549–59. Russell, Bruce. 2008. 'The Philosophical Limits of Film.' The Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: An Anthology . Ed. Noël Carroll and Jinhee Choi. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 387–390. Week II: The Bold Thesis on Film as Philosophy Reading: Livingston, Paisley, 'Theses on Cinema as Philosophy.' Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman, Chapter One. 11–38. Screening: October (dir. Sergei Eisenstein 1928). Week III: Debating the Bold Thesis: The Case of October Carroll, Noël. 1998. 'For God and Country.' Interpreting the Moving Image . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 80–91. Smuts, Aaron. 2009. 'Film as Philosophy: In Defense of a Bold Thesis.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism , 67:4: 409–20. Week IV: Cinema as Philosophy: Objections and Replies Livingston, Paisley. 2009. 'Arguing over Cinema as Philosophy.' Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman, Chapter Two. 39–59. Additional Optional Units Depending on the instructor's areas of interest and expertise, any of the following units could be added (and in some cases, easily expanded into longer segments). The Case of Ingmar Bergman Livingston, Paisley. 2009. 'Ingmar Bergman.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 560–568. Screening(s): Wild Strawberries (dir. Ingmar Bergman 1957), or The Seventh Seal (dir. Ingmar Bergman 1957), or Persona (dir. Ingmar Bergman 1966). Skepticism Fumerton, Richard. 2009. 'Skepticism.' In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 601–10. Screening: The Matrix (dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski 1999) or Total Recall (dir. Paul Verhoeven 1990). Ethics Kupfer, Joseph. 1999. Visions of Virtue in Popular Film . Boulder, CO: Westview. 35–60. Falzon, Chris. 2009. 'Why be Moral?' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 591–599. Screening: Groundhog Day (dir. <span class='Hi'>Harold</span> Ramis 1993), or Crimes and Misdemeanors (dir. Woody Allen 1989), or Hollow Man (dir. Paul Verhoeven 2000). Personal Identity Knight, Deborah. 2009. 'Personal Identity.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 611–619. Hanley, Richard. 2009. ' Memento and Personal Identity: Are We Getting it Backwards?' Memento . Ed. Andrew Kania. London: Routledge. 107–126. Martin, Raymond. 2009. 'The Value of Memory: Reflections on Memento. ' Memento . Ed. Andrew Kania. London: Routledge. 87–106. Screening: Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan 2000). Freedom and (Genetic) Determinism Sesardic, Neven. 2009. 'Gattaca.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 641–649. Screening: Gattaca (dir. Andrew Niccol 1997). Focus Questions • Is there anything special about the experience of fiction films that is especially well suited to the stimulation of worthwhile philosophical reflection? • Have any novel and philosophically significant ideas found their first expression in a cinematic work? • Under what circumstances can the film medium be used as an expression of a cinematic author's views? • What sort of background knowledge has to be in place for a film to be interpreted as articulating reasonably precise philosophical theses and arguments? • Does the goal of spelling out a film's philosophical meaning sometimes conflict with the goal of appreciating its value as a work of art? (shrink)
In this article, I challenge the dominant view of the importance of the debate over action-individuation. On the dominant view, it is held that the conclusions we reach about action-individuation make little or no difference for other debates in the philosophy of action, much less in other areas of philosophy. As a means of showing that the dominant view is mistaken, I consider the implications of accepting a given theory of action-individuation for thinking about doxastic agency. In particular, I am (...) interested in the implications for thinking about the variety of evaluative control we can exercise over the formation of our doxastic attitudes. I show that our assumptions about how to individuate actions matters for how we think about doxastic agency and, hence, the conclusions we reach about action-individuation are of greater significance than some have thought. (shrink)
I critique Matthias Steupâs account of exercising direct voluntary control over coming to have doxastic attitudes via doxastic decisions. I show that the sort of agency Steup argues is exercised in doxastic decision-making is not sufficient for agents to exercise direct voluntary control over their doxastic attitudes. This counts against such putative decisions being the locus of direct control in doxastic agency. Finally, I briefly consider what, if any, consequences the failure of Steupâs theory of doxastic agency may have for (...) epistemic deontologism. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, John Bishop argues in defence of conceiving of Christian faith as a ‘doxastic venture’. That is, he defends the claim that, in exercising faith, agents believe beyond ‘what can be established rationally on the basis of evidence and argument’. Careful examination reveals that Bishop fails adequately to show that faith in the face of inadequate epistemic reasons for believing is, or can even be, a uniquely doxastic venture. I argue that faith is best (...) conceived of as a sub-doxastic venture that involves pragmatically assuming that God exists. (shrink)
Using a theory of social conventions and an analysis of law's authoritative nature, this book sets out the scope of law in relation to moral and other critical values. Marmor argues that law is founded on constructive conventions, and that consequently moral values cannot determine what the law is. He also provides an analysis of the concept of objectivity, arguing that many aspects of the law, and of moral values, are metaphysically objective.
Richard Scheer has recently argued against what he calls the 'mental state' theory of intentions. He argues that versions of this theory fail to account for various characteristics of intention. In this essay we reply to Scheer's criticisms and argue that intentions are mental states.
The concept of divine agency is central to the narrative traditions inherited by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The scriptures of the Abrahamic religions include repeated references to the intentional actions and intentional outcomes of the actions of God. For instance, in the “Song of Moses” (Exodus 15:1-18), Moses celebrates the freedom of the Hebrews from bondage, declaring that Yahweh is “awesome in splendor, doing wonders” (5:11 NRSV). Alongside the picture of God as an agent who performs actions is a conception (...) of God that developed over the centuries as a simple, immutable, impassable, timelessly eternal being. To many philosophers and theologians, this conception of God as a being who exists in a durationless eternity is inconsistent with the way God is characterized in the scriptures, viz., as an agent who acts in time, often in direct response to the actions of other agents. In this paper, I will assume that if the God of Judeo-Christian-Islamic theism exists, then God is an agent who has performed intentional actions. I will argue that if God is such an agent, then God cannot exist outside of time.1 This is because of how.. (shrink)
I take it that the following is a desideratum of our theories in the philosophy of mind. A theory in the philosophy of mind should help us better understand ourselves as agents and aid in our theorizing about the nature of action and agency. In this paper I discuss a strategy adopted by some defenders of nonreductive physicalism in response to the problem of causal exclusion. The strategy, which I refer to as “intralevelism,” relies on treating mental causation as intra (...) level mental to mental causation, rather than as involving any inter level mental to physical causation. I raise problems for intralevelist theories of mental causation that stem from action-theoretic considerations. Specifically, I focus on the failure of intralevelist proposals to account for the problem of basic causal deviance in the etiology of action. To the extent that intralevelism fails to make room for basic causal deviance, the strategy fails to satisfy the aforementioned desideratum, viz ., that our theories in the philosophy of mind should be of use in theorizing about action and agency. The upshot is that intralevelism is a less promising strategy for nonreductive physicalists than it appears at first glance. (shrink)
The doctrine of agent-causation has been suggested by many interested in defending libertarian theories of free action to provide the conceptual apparatus necessary to make the notion of incompatibility freedom intelligible. In the present essay the conceptual viability of the doctrine of agent-causation will be assessed. It will be argued that agent-causation is, insofar as it is irreducible to event-causation, mysterious at best, totally unintelligible at worst. First, the arguments for agent-causation made by such eighteenth-century luminaries as Samuel Clarke and (...) Thomas Reid will be considered alongside the defenses of agent-causation proffered in this century by C.A. Campbell, Roderick Chisholm, and Richard Taylor. It will be shown that the case for agent-causation made by these figures is ultimately unconvincing. Two defenses of agent-causation made within the past ten years will then be taken up for examination and critique. First, Timothy O'Connor's attempt at advancing an unrefined and unrepentant doctrine of agent-causation will be shown to suffer from the same maladies as its predecessors. Next, Randolph Clarke's causal agent-causal theory of free action, which seeks a via media between agent-causal theories of free action and causal theories of action, is examined. Clarke's theory is an attempt at providing an account of how both events and agents qua substances can be the codeterminants of free actions. Despite the improvement of Clarke's theory over more conventional agent-causal theories of free action, it will be shown that agent-causation makes his theory more cumbersome than it needs to be. Clarke is able to get as much mileage out of a causal indeterminacy theory of action that does not require him to posit obscure agent-causes. Finally, a sketch of an alternative theory of free action will be offered. While it may suffer from its own conceptual deficiencies, it may not suffer from the same conceptual problems as agent-causal theories of free action. (shrink)
: The suffering of creatures experienced throughout evolutionary history provides some conceptual difficulties for theists who maintain that God is an all-good loving creator who chose to employ the processes associated with evolution to bring about life on this planet. Some theists vexed by this and other problems posed by the interface between religion and science have turned to process theology which provides a picture of a God who is dependent upon creation and unable to unilaterally intervene in the affairs (...) of the world and avert suffering. In the present paper I seek to critique process theism, focusing on divine action and the aforementioned problem posed by evolutionary suffering. I show that the promise of a more compelling account of a loving God who suffers with creation advanced by the process theist is illusory. Rather, the process God is less dynamic than promised. And on such an account the freedom of both God and the world are significantly more circumscribed than one may find in other forms of theism. (shrink)
This paper identifies and critiques a theory of mental causation defended by some proponents of nonredutive physicalism that I call “intralevelism.” Intralevelist theories differ in their details. On all versions, the causal outcome of the manifestation of physical properties is physical and the causal outcome of the manifestation of mental properties is mental. Thus, mental causation on this view is intralevel mental to mental causation. This characterization of mental causation as intralevel is taken to insulate nonreductive physicalism from some objections (...) to nonreductive physicalism, including versions of the exclusion argument. This paper examines some features of three recent versions of intralevelism defended by John Gibbons, Markus Schlosser, and Amie Thomasson. This paper shows that the distinctive problems faced by these three representative versions of intralevelism suggest that the intralevelist strategy does not provide a viable solution to the exclusion problem. (shrink)
Sharon Ryan has recently argued that if one has compatibilist intuitions about free action, then one should reject the claim that agents cannot exercise direct voluntary control over coming to believe. In this paper I argue that the differences between beliefs and actions make the expectation of direct voluntary control over coming to believe unreasonable. So Ryan's theory of doxastic agency is untenable.
The popular view according to which category theory provides a support for mathematical structuralism is erroneous. Category-theoretic foundations of mathematics require a different philosophy of mathematics. While structural mathematics studies ‘invariant form’ (Awodey) categorical mathematics studies covariant and contravariant transformations which, generally, have no invariants. In this paper I develop a non-structuralist interpretation of categorical mathematics.
Generic statements (e.g., “Birds lay eggs”) express generalizations about categories. In this paper, we hypothesized that there is a paradoxical asymmetry at the core of generic meaning, such that these sentences have extremely strong implications but require little evidence to be judged true. Four experiments confirmed the hypothesized asymmetry: Participants interpreted novel generics such as “Lorches have purple feathers” as referring to nearly all lorches, but they judged the same novel generics to be true given a wide range of prevalence (...) levels (e.g., even when only 10% or 30% of lorches had purple feathers). A second hypothesis, also confirmed by the results, was that novel generic sentences about dangerous or distinctive properties would be more acceptable than generic sentences that were similar but did not have these connotations. In addition to clarifying important aspects of generics’ meaning, these findings are applicable to a range of real-world processes such as stereotyping and political discourse. (shrink)
The normal way to establish that a person has authority over another requires a rule-governed institutional setting. To have authority is to have power, in the juridical sense of the term, and power can only be conferred by norms constituting it. Power-conferring norms are essentially institutional, and the obligation to comply with a legitimate authority's decree is, first and foremost, institutional in nature. The main argument presented in this essay is that an explanation of practical authorities is a two-stage affair: (...) the special, practical import of an authority can only be explained against the background of an institutional setting which constitutes the authority's power and the corresponding obligation to comply. However, this obligation is not an all things considered obligation, it is conditioned on reasons to participate in the relevant institution or practice. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Defending the distinction between believing and accepting a proposition, I argue that cases where agents allegedly exercise direct voluntary control over their beliefs are instances of agents exercising direct voluntary control over accepting a proposition. The upshot is that any decision to believe a proposition cannot result directly in one’s acquiring the belief. Accepting is an instrumental mental action the agent performs that may trigger belief. A model of the relationship between acceptance and belief is sketched and defended. The (...) consequences of the distinction between belief and acceptance, and the model of belief control sketched are then applied to the recent case made by Carl Ginet in defense of the conceptual and psychological possibility of agents exercising direct voluntary control over their beliefs. n. (shrink)
Escapism, a theory of hell proposed by Andrei Buckareff and Allen Plug, explicitly relies on claims about divine reasons for action. However, they say surprisingly little about the general account of reasons for action that would justify the inferences in the argument for escapism. I provide a couple of plausible interpretations of such an account and argue that they help revive the ‘Job objection’ to escapism that Buckareff and Plug had dismissed.
Many philosophers of action afford intentions a central role in theorizing about action and its explanation. Furthermore, current orthodoxy in the philosophy of action has it that intentions play a causal role with respect to the etiology and explanation of action. But action theory is not without its heretics. Some philosophers have challenged the orthodox view. In this paper I examine and critique one such challenge. I consider David-Hillel Ruben's case against the need for intentions to play a causal role (...) in the etiology and explanation of mental actions. Contra Ruben, I defend the orthodox view that intentions play an indispensable causal and explanatory role with respect to mental actions. (shrink)
This is a draft of a paper for a book Philosophy of Action: 5 Questions edited by Jesus Aguilar and Andrei Buckareff and to be published by Automatic Press / VIP. The book contains accounts by various philosophers, including leading theorists, of their engagement with problems of action and agency, and in particular determinism and freedom. The contributors also offer thoughts as to what attracted them to the subject, what their conclusions have been, what the benefit of the subject (...) can be to other subjects, what has been neglected in it, where work and inquiry should now be concentrated, and the prospects for progress. (shrink)
In their recent book, Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment, Michael Bishop and J.D. Trout have challenged Standard Analytic Epistemology (SAE) in all its guises and have endorsed a version of the "replacement thesis"--proponents of which aim at replacing the standard questions of SAE with psychological questions. In this article I argue that Bishop and Trout offer an incomplete epistemology that, as formulated, cannot address many of the core issues that motivate interest in epistemological questions to begin with, and (...) so is not a fit replacement. (shrink)
What can a philosophical analysis of the concept of interpretation contribute to legal theory? In his recent book,Interpretation and Legal Theory, Andrei Marmor proposes a complex and ambitious analysis as groundwork for his positivist assault on “interpretive” theories of law and of language. I argue (i) that the crucial element in Marmor's analysis of interpretation is his treatment of Ludwig Wittgenstein's remarks on following rules, and (ii) that a less ambitious analysis of interpretation than Marmor's can take better advantage (...) of those insights about rules. I explore some implications of such an analysis for the role of interpretation in legal reasoning. (shrink)
The causal theory of action (CTA) is widely recognized in the literature of the philosophy of action as the "standard story" of human action and agency--the nearest approximation in the field to a theoretical orthodoxy. This volume brings together leading figures working in action theory today to discuss issues relating to the CTA and its applications, which range from experimental philosophy to moral psychology. Some of the contributors defend the theory while others criticize it; some draw from historical sources while (...) others focus on recent developments; some rely on the tools of analytic philosophy while others cite the latest empirical research on human action. All agree, however, on the centrality of the CTA in the philosophy of action. The contributors first consider metaphysical issues, then reasons-explanations of action, and, finally, new directions for thinking about the CTA. They discuss such topics as the tenability of some alternatives to the CTA; basic causal deviance; the etiology of action; teleologism and anticausalism; and the compatibility of the CTA with theories of embodied cognition. Two contributors engage in an exchange of views on intentional omissions that stretches over four essays, directly responding to each other in their follow-up essays. As the action-oriented perspective becomes more influential in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, this volume offers a long-needed debate over foundational issues. Contributors: Fred Adams, Jesus H. Aguilar, John Bishop, Andrei A. Buckareff, Randolph Clarke, Jennifer Hornsby, Alicia Juarrero, Alfred R. Mele, Michael S. Moore, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Josef Perner, Johannes Roessler, David-Hillel Ruben, Carolina Sartorio, Michael Smith, Rowland Stout. (shrink)
When the traditional distinction between a mathematical concept and a mathematical intuition is tested against examples taken from the real history of mathematics one can observe the following interesting phenomena. First, there are multiple examples where concepts and intuitions do not well fit together; some of these examples can be described as “poorly conceptualised intuitions” while some others can be described as “poorly intuited concepts”. Second, the historical development of mathematics involves two kinds of corresponding processes: poorly conceptualised intuitions are (...) further conceptualised while poorly intuited concepts are further intuited. In this paper I study this latter process in mathematics during the twentieth century and, more specifically, show the role of set theory and category theory in this process. I use this material for defending the following claims: (1) mathematical intuitions are subject to historical development just like mathematical concepts; (2) mathematical intuitions continue to play their traditional role in today's mathematics and will plausibly do so in the foreseeable future. This second claim implies that the popular view, according to which modern mathematical concepts, unlike their more traditional predecessors, cannot be directly intuited, is not justified. (shrink)
We reply to Andrew Sneddon’s recent criticism of the causal theory of action (CTA) and critically examine Sneddon’s preferred alternative, minimal causalism. We show that Sneddon’s criticism of CTA is problematic in several respects, and therefore his conclusion that “the prospects for CTA look poor” is unjustified. Moreover, we show that the minimal causalism that Sneddon advocates looks rather unpromising and its merits that Sneddon mentions are untenable.
An influential tradition in moral philosophy attempts to explain an immoral action by reference to the defect in reasoning on the part of an immoral agent. On this view, the requirements of morality are not only sanctioned by the more general requirements of rationality, but the violations of the moral requirements would be indicative of a rational failure. In this article I argue that ascription of irrationality to amoral individuals (e.g., psychopaths) is either empirically false, or else, conceptually problematic. An (...) interpretation of irrationality in its instrumental sense fails to do justice to the results of the research concerning the intelligence of some amoralists, whereas the suggestion that the alleged cognitive deficiency lies at the level of final ends and ultimate values faces serious theoretical difficulties. All attempts to construe the notion of an external reason for action without reference to the agent's actual goals and values bespeak an objectivist's bias, rest on controversial assumptions, and tend to alienate the agent from the proposed set of reasons. The argument is partly based on the analysis of reasoning of Ted Bundy, a notorious serial murderer, who presents a rather sophisticated justification for his criminal behavior. (shrink)
This article takes as its point of departure the view that the discovery of the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics (QM) was not merely a discovery of a new mathematical way of dealing with physical, and specifically quantum, processes in nature. It was also a discovery of a general mathematical formalism (in part discovered in mathematics itself earlier), which, supplemented by certain additional rules, consistently described the processing of incomplete information about certain events and contexts in which these events occur. (...) This article proposes a quantum-like (QL) model of the functioning of the brain based on the (Hilbert-space) formalism of quantum mechanics, but now used as part of a QL mathematical model of neural processes in the brain, rather than for describing quantum physical processes. This model is, thus, fundamentally different from the (reductionist) quantum model of the brain and consciousness, according to which cognition arises by virtue of physical quantum processes in the brain. In the present view, the brain is an advanced biological system that developed the ability to create a QL representation of contexts, which, thus, allows one to describe a significant part of its functioning by the QM mathematical formalism. The possibility of such a description has nothing to do with the constitution and workings of the brain as a quantum system (composed of photons, electrons, protons, and so forth). The QL model offered here is based instead on conventional neurophysiological model of the functioning of the brain, even though the brain, the article suggests, does use the QL rule (given by von Neumann trace formula, used in QM) for the calculation of approximate averages for mental functions. The QL model developed in this article has a temporal basis, based on a (hypothetical) argument that cognitive processes are based on at least two time scales: a (very fine) subcognitive one and a (much coarser) cognitive one. (shrink)
The problem of doxastic agency concerns what sort of agency humans can exercise with regard to forming doxastic attitudes such as belief. In this essay I defend a version of what James Montmarquet calls "The Asymmetry Thesis": Coming to believe and action are asymmetrical with respect to direct voluntary control. I argue that normal adult human agents cannot exercise direct voluntary control over the acquisition of any of their doxastic attitudes in the same way that they exercise such control over (...) their actions, particularly basic actions. I argue, however, that normal adult human agents can exercise indirect voluntary control over coming to have some of their doxastic attitudes just as they can exercise indirect voluntary control over the outcomes of actions. Furthermore, coming to believe as the outcome of some agency performed with the goal of acquiring a particular doxastic attitude towards a specific proposition can be the intentional outcome of some doxastic agency. So if an agent intends to come to believe that p, under some circumstances she can bring it about that she comes to believe that p as the outcome of her exercise of agency. In critiquing the thesis that agents can exercise direct voluntary control over forming their doxastic attitudes, I argue that some ways of exercising such control are conceptually impossible. But even if other ways of exercising direct voluntary control over the formation of doxastic attitudes are not conceptually impossible, I argue that it is psychologically impossible to exercise direct voluntary control over the acquisition of any doxastic attitudes. I consider proposals offered in defense of the claim that normal adult human agents can exercise direct voluntary control over acquiring doxastic attitudes by Carl Ginet, Mark Heller, Sharon Ryan, and Matthias Steup. I argue that none of the theories of doxastic agency defended by these authors is tenable. So while I argue that the variety of doxastic agency normal adult humans can exercise is fairly robust, the most we can hope for is indirect voluntary control over our doxastic attitudes. (shrink)
Even though Hegel rejects Kant’s criticism of the classical proofs for God’s existence, he is far from joining the followers of St. Anselm.What is needed, he suggests, is the rational account of the transition from the final notion to the infinite Being. The Lectures in its central treatment of the Cosmological proof present us with an explanation in rational terms of the fact of religion, i.e., the elevation of the finite spirit to infinite God, rather than with a proof in (...) a narrow logical sense. Hegel is not so much asking the question ‘Does Godexist?’ but rather ‘How is the elevation of the finite spirit to God possible?’ The Hegelian ‘proof,’ I argue, consists in a demonstrationof the necessity of movement from finiteness to infinity, that is, the demonstration of the necessity of religion itself. Religious faith in this context is not juxtaposed to reason, but appears as a mode of imperfect knowledge, which is superseded by the further development of the rational concept. (shrink)
This essay argues that the practical reason approach to the study of social conventions (and social normativity more generally) fails to adequately account for the fluency of social action in environments that we experience as familiar. The practical reason approach, articulated most recently in Andrei Marmor’s Social Conventions: From Language to Law (2009) does help us, though not wholly adequately, to understand how we tend to react to, and experience, unfamiliar situations or unfamiliar behaviors, that is, those situations in (...) which a certain practice becomes problematic or is problematized, or where we are obliged to, or moved to, justify or deliberate. The reason why the practical reason approach is not wholly adequate when it comes to understanding unfamiliar situations or unfamiliar behaviors is that it tends to subsume the unfamiliar under the familiar, that is, it tends to negatively evaluate anything that is deemed to be not in accordance with the rules and reasons already familiar to the observer. This excludes the possibility of the observer having to transform himself or herself, and thus change what is familiar to him or her. (shrink)
With the use symbols by political subjects arises the problem of their understanding. Groups of symbols can be created in such a way to contain a message. The state coat of arms is a political symbol, in which is concentrated a number of meanings and significance. The coat of arms — it is a symbol garnished with colossal endless meaning and potential withing its power. Besides this, the state coat of arms appears in numbers like mandalas: it is like this (...) archaic symbol, that combines various geometric shapes expressing the idea of order. The state coat of arms perceptively unites people of different genders, ages, social status andfaith into a united orderly community. A person contemplating the state coat of arms understands it as the center of the universe. The coat of arms is transformed into endlessness, attaining the result of uniting the macrocosm — society and state — and with the macrocosm — man. The function of political symbols exists so as to represent the “body” of a concrete political subject or society as a whole, at the same time in every part of a text “is highlighted” yet another part of the endless semantical richness of the symbol. Political symbols have important significance for the support or destruction of socio-political order. But the chief essence ofpolitical symbols — is the ability to give meaning to all political activities, and the regular “exposition” of state symbols guarantees the stability of the existing socio-political system. (shrink)
The intrinsic merit of Northoff's model lies primarily in the fact that it integrates data concerned with different levels of organization of the brain. This approach implicitly argues against reductionism, although, apparently, its rather simplistic assumption gives too many degrees of freedom. In considering that a symptom from two different syndromes indicates a common neural alteration, we grossly disregard neural plasticity.
In addition to the “universal glue,” which is the local mechanical causation, the standard explanatory scheme of classical science presumes two “universal vessels,” which are global space and time. I call this outdated metaphysical setting “black-and-white” because it allows for only two principal scales. A prospective metaphysics able to bind existing sciences together needs to be “colored,” that is, allow for scale relativity and diversification by domain.
Paradox of the Evil and "Family Ressemblances". The paper tackles the problem of Matter and evil in Plotinus. monistic metaphysics, especially in theperspective of the following aparent inconsistency: if there is no other principle but the Good, then the Good creates the Matter which is the absolute evil. Itfollows that the Good is bad, according to a certain axiom of Proclus, which states that the creator is to a higher degree all what the creature is. The authorshows that, despite what (...) Proclus and then many modern critics believed, Plotinus is consistent within his system. He relies on the axiom that the creature is not all what the creator is, i.e. that the creator also gives what he has not. Therefore, the One gives the Intellect multiplicity and thought which He is deprived of and also gives the Matter the evil which He is also deprived of. The paper also shows that Plotinus developed a logic of ontological procession which is not Aristotelian. This logic does not work by formind classes, but chains of partially intransitive ressemblances. So, the Intellect ressembles the One (the Good), the Soul ressembles the Intellect and the Matter ressembles the Soul; yet the Matter resembles the One no more. Yet, the unity of the world is assured, because of the continuity of the chain. The extreme terms are contrary, though not in the Aristotelian sense of sharing in the same genus. A certain similarty with Wittgenstein's logic of "family resemblances" is striking, which means that not only Wittgenstein, but Plotinus also went beyond the Platonic-Aristotelian Vulgata, even while he was sticking to its linguage. (shrink)