In courses in the twenties and early thirties, Heidegger argues that in Aristotle the question of the being of beings (ontology) and that of the unity of beings (theology) are distinct. Although he treated the two questions as part of one science, prôtē philosophía, Aristotle did not, in Heidegger's view, discuss the way in which these questions belong together. Being is determined theoretically as presence; and God, the first mover, is an aítion, an explanatory ground of motion in sensible ousía. (...) God is required as a ground for the presence of beings as a whole. Heidegger no longer seeks explanatory grounds, nor does he prioritize theory. Rather, he inquires into the essence of ground, and the poietical involvement of Dasein in understanding being. The unity of Aristotle's questions is found in a groundless ground: Dasein as transcendence. The metaphysical god is thus no longer required in Heidegger's phenomenology. (shrink)
Professor Richard Hanley faced the dilemma plaguing so many philosophy professors today—how to entice students into the classroom. Based upon his own successful course, Is Data Human presents a thoroughly unique and enjoyable way of introducing students to the basic concepts of philosophy as seen through the lens of Star Trek. From the nature of a person, of minds, and of consciousness, to ethics and morality, to the nature and extent of knowledge and free will, Hanley brings a (...) fresh perspective to the contemporary debates concerning humankind’s place in the world.Dare to boldly go where no philosophy professor has gone before—a classroom packed with eager and enthusiastic students. (shrink)
David Lewis's approach to analysing truth in fiction, significantly amended by 'Postscripts' in 1983, has been widely criticized on three main grounds, and it seems fair to say that nearly every writer on the subject thinks that one of these grounds is sufficient to show that Lewis is mistaken. I argue that with some minor revision, Lewis's approach survives all extant objections. Indeed, I judge the Lewis approach to be even more successful than Lewis himself seems to think.
There have been many objections to the possibility oftime travel. But all the truly interesting ones concern the possibility of reversecausation. What is objectionable about reverse causation? I diagnose that the trulyinteresting objections are to a further possibility: that of causal loops. I raisedoubts about whether there must be causal loops if reverse causation obtains; but devote themajority of the paper to describing, and dispelling concerns about, various kinds ofcausal loop. In short, I argue that they are neither logically nor (...) physically impossible.The only possibly objectionable feature that all causal loops share is that coincidenceis required to explain them. Just how coincidental a loop will be varies: some arereally quite ordinary, and some are incredibly unlikely. I end by speculating thatthe tendency amongst physicists to avoid discussion of causal loops involving intentionalaction may have been unfortunate, since intentional action is an excellent way tonon-mysteriously bring about what otherwise would have been an unlikely coincidence. Hencecausal loops may be more likely in a world with beings like us, than in one without. (shrink)
The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Language is a collection of twenty new essays in a cutting-edge and wide-ranging field. Surveys central issues in contemporary philosophy of language while examining foundational topics Provides pedagogical tools such as abstracts and suggestions for further readings Topics addressed include the nature of meaning, speech acts and pragmatics, figurative language, and naturalistic theories of reference.
Critical realism is the view that fictional characters arecontingent, actual, abstract individuals, ontologically on a par with such things as plots and rhyme schemes, andquantified over in statements such as A character inHamlet is a prince. A strong contender for thecorrect account of fictional characters, critical realismnevertheless has difficulty satisfying all that we intuitivelyrequire of such an account.
Peter Singer does not think that eating meat is wrong in and of itself. The case he makes in Practical Ethics against the use of non-human animals for food consists of two connected arguments.1 It will be convenient to call them the Suffering Argument and the Killing Argument. The Suffering Argument is primarily an argument against factory farm- ing—the mass production of meat and animal products as it occurs in developed nations at least—and is well expressed by paraphrasing an explicit (...) argument Singer gives (230–231) concerning absolute poverty. (shrink)
Cloning scares the hell out of people, because the idea of cloning people scares the hell out of people. Some of this fear is well-founded. Like any new reproductive technology, the cloning of entire human organisms can be put to good or bad effect, for good or bad reasons. But much of the fear is not well-founded. Before you could say “Hello, Dolly,” the U.S. administration moved to ban federal funding of human cloning research; and there is considerable support in (...) Congress for an outright ban on the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer technology for the purpose of human cloning. Why? Here is part of Clinton’s statement announcing the funding ban. (shrink)
The Scottish Enlightenment is commonly identified as the birthplace of modern social science. But while Scottish and contemporary social science share a commitment to empiricism, contemporary insistence on the separation of empirical analysis from normative judgment invokes a distinction unintelligible to the Scots. In this respect the methods of modern social science seem an attenuation of those of Scottish social science. A similar attenuation can be found in the modern aspiration to judge the outcome of institutions or processes only with (...) regard to efficiency. While the tenet that efficiency is preferable to inefficiency is central to Scottish social thought, the Scots regarded maximization of quantifiable returns as only one among three ends that well-functioning institutions and processes promote. Scottish social science speaks also of virtue and liberty where ours speaks only of utility. This essay develops these differences in three sections. Its first section compares Scottish and contemporary understandings of social science methods. Its second section examines how these differing methodologies inform their differing conceptions of human flourishing and particularly led Scottish social science to focus on virtue and freedom in addition to wealth. The essay concludes by calling attention to three movements in social science today which might help us recover the best features of Scottish social science. (shrink)
In the post-September 11, 2001 world in which we live, French existentialist playwright and philosopher Gabriel Marcel’s works are especially relevant. Hisincreased popularity reflects both student and faculty interest in questions he raises about issues that remain vital concerns in our lives. Plays focusing on questions about life’s meaning, connected with insights from his philosophic essays, illustrate how Marcel engages personal reflection to clarify challenging situations. He uses dramatic imagination to investigate conflicting viewpoints, inviting the viewers to examine their unique (...) experience of the issues portrayed. Thus his individual journey to consciousness welcomes others to develop their own. Today’s classrooms also benefit from a greater availability of Marcel’s translated works in the form of books, scripts, videos, CDs, and Readers’ Theatre performances. (shrink)
The problem : commerce and corruption -- Smith's defense of commercial society -- What is corruption? : political and psychological perspectives -- Smith on corruption : from the citizen to the human being -- The solution : moral philosophy -- Liberal individualism and virtue ethics -- Social science vs. moral philosophy -- Types of moral philosophy : natural jurisprudence vs. ethics -- Types of ethics : utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics -- Virtue ethics : modern, ancient, and Smithean -- Interlude (...) : the what and the how of TMS VI -- The what : Sith's "practical system of morality" -- The how : rhetoric, audience, and the methods of practical ethics -- The how : the ascent of self-love in three stages -- Prudence or commercial virtue -- The challenge : from praise to prudence -- Educating the vain : fathers and sons -- Self-interest rightly understood -- The advantages and disadvantages of prudence -- Magnanimity or classical virtue -- The problems of prudence and the therapy of magnanimity -- Up from individualism : desert, praiseworthiness, conscience -- Modernity, antiquity, and magnanimity -- The dangers of magnanimity -- Beneficence or christian virtue -- Between care and caritas -- Benevolence and beneficence and the human telos -- The character and purposes of the wise and virtuous man -- Wisdom and virtue and Adam Smith's apology -- Epilogue: The "economy of greatness". (shrink)
Modern commercial society has been criticized for attenuating virtue and inhibiting the ethical self-realization of its participants. But Adam Smith, a founding father of liberal commercial modernity, anticipated precisely this critique and took specific measures to circumvent it. This article presents these measures via an analysis of his response to the critique of liberal commercial modernity set forth by Rousseau. It principally argues that Smith's distinctions of the love of praise from the love of praiseworthiness, and the love of glory (...) from the love of virtue, were elements of a normative moral education that sought to elevate civilized man's corrupted self-love, and thereby recover within modern commercial society a respect for ethical nobility. (shrink)
Recently a call has gone up for a revival of the "politics of humanity." But what exactly is the "politics of humanity"? For illumination this paper turns to Hume's analysis of humanity's foundational role in morality and modern politics. Its aims in so doing are twofold. First, it aims to set forth a new understanding of the unity of Hume's practical and epistemological projects in developing his justifications for and the implications of his remarkable and underappreciated claim that humanity is (...) the only sentiment on which a moral system can be founded. Second, by attending to Hume's substantive definition of humanity and its relationship to benevolence and sympathy in particular, it aims to clarify the relationship between the principal elements of the politics of humanity: "humanism" or secularism, "humane" or other-directed values, and mutual recognition of our shared "humanness.". (shrink)
Categorical perception (CP) is said to occur when a continuum of equally spaced physical changes is perceived as unequally spaced as a function of category membership (Harnad, S. (Ed.) (1987). Psychophysical and cognitive aspects of categorical perception: A critical overview. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). A common suggestion is that CP for color arises because perception is qualitatively distorted when we learn to categorize a dimension. Contrary to this view, we here report that English speakers show no evidence of lowered discrimination (...) thresholds at the boundaries between blue and green categories even though CP is found at these boundaries in a supra-threshold task. Furthermore, there is no evidence of different discrimination thresholds between individuals from two language groups (English and Korean) who use different color terminology in the blue-green region and have different supra-threshold boundaries. Our participants' just noticeable difference (JND) thresholds suggest that they retain a smooth continuum of perceptual space that is not warped by stretching at category boundaries or by within-category compression. At least for the domain of color, categorical perception appears to be a categorical, but not a perceptual phenomenon. (shrink)
Philosophers speak—or, rather, they respond to various forms of speaking that are handed to them. This book by one of our most distinguished philosophers focuses on the communicative aspect of philosophical thought. Peperzak’s central focus is “addressing”: what distinguishes speaking or writing from rumination is their being directed by someone to someone. To be involved in philosophy is to be part of a tradition through which thinkers propose their findings to others, who respond by offering their own appropriations to their (...) interlocutors.After a critical sketch of the conception of modern philosophy, Peperzak presents a succinct analysis of speaking, insisting on the radical distinction between speaking about and speaking to. He enlarges this analysis to history and tries to answer the question whether philosophy also implies a certain form of listening and responding to words of God. Since philosophical speech about persons can neither honor nor reveal their full truth, speaking and thinking about God is even more problematic. Meditation about the archaic Word cannot reach the Speaker unless it turns into prayer, or—as Descartes wrote—into a contemplation that makes the thinker “consider, admire, and adore the beauty of God’s immense light, as much as the eyesight of my blinded mind can tolerate.”“Thinking is a work of genuine and original scholarship which responds to the tradition of philosophical thinking with a critique of its language, style, focus, and scope.”—CatrionaHanley, Loyola College, Maryland. (shrink)
In her excellent critique of my book Self to Self (2006), Catriona Mackenzie highlights three gaps in my view of the self. First, my effort to distinguish among different applications of the concept 'self' is not matched by any attempt to explain the interactions among the selves so distinguished. Second, in analyzing practical reasoning as aimed at self-understanding, I speak sometimes of causal-psychological understanding (e.g. in the paper titled 'The Centered Self') and sometimes of narrative self-understanding (e.g. in 'The (...) Self as Narrator'), but I never explain how these two modes of self-understanding are related. Third, I never explain how my account of autonomous agency can be reconciled with my interpretation of Kant's (e.g., in 'A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics'). In this reply to Mackenzie, I agree with her about all three of these gaps, and I offer some (admittedly incomplete) ideas about how they might be filled. (shrink)