Hilary Putnam has argued against philosophical theories which tie the content of truth-claims closely to the available methods of investigation and verification. Such theories, he argues, threaten our idea of human communication, which we take to be possible between people of different cultures and across periods of time during which methods of investigation change dramatically. Putnam rejects any reading of Wittgenstein which takes him to make a close tie between meaning and method of verification. What strands in Wittgenstein's thought appear (...) to lend support to such a reading? Can we do justice to the role which method of verification does have for Wittgenstein while retaining our hold on the idea that communication between people is possible despite substantial differences in methods of verification and investigation? Thus it is as if the proof did not determine the sense of the proposition proved; and yet as if it did determine it. But isn't it like that with any verification of any proposition? (shrink)
Abstract: There is a famous quip of F.P. Ramsey's, which is my second epigraph. According to a widespread legend, the quip is a criticism of Wittgenstein's treatment in the Tractatus of what cannot be said. The remark is indeed Ramsey's, but he didn't mean what he is taken to mean in the legend. His quip, looked at in context, means something quite different. The legend is sometimes taken to provide support for a reading of the Tractatus according to which the (...) nonsensical propositions of the book were intended to convey what cannot be said. But, since the legend has no basis in reality, it provides no evidence in favor of any such reading of the Tractatus. The quip has great interest if it is read in the context of Ramsey's discussion of generality; it is closely related to issues of importance in the development of Wittgenstein's thought. (shrink)
Wittgenstein gives voice to an aspiration that is central to his later philosophy, well before he becomes later Wittgenstein, when he writes in §4.112 of the Tractatus that philosophy is not a matter of putting forward a doctrine or a theory, but consists rather in the practice of an activity – an activity he goes on to characterize as one of elucidation or clarification – an activity which he says does not result in philosophische Sätze, in propositions of philosophy, but (...) rather in das Klarwerden von Sätzen, in our attaining clarity in our relation to the sentences of our language that we call upon to express our thoughts.1 To say that early Wittgenstein already aspired to such a conception of philosophy is not to gainsay that to aspire to practice philosophy in such a manner and to succeed in doing so are not the same thing. It is therefore not to deny that, by Wittgenstein’s later lights, the Tractatus is to be judged a work that is marked by forms of failure tied to its having failed fully to live up to such an aspiration. But if it is thus to be judged, then it is to some degree a failure even by Wittgenstein’s own earlier lights. This means that if one wants to understand the fundamental turn in Wittgenstein’s thinking as he moves from his earlier to his later philosophy, and why it is that he wanted the Tractatus to be published and read together with Philosophical Investigations, one needs to understand what sort of failure this is – and that requires coming to terms with the Tractatus’s own understanding of what sort of work it was trying to be. We think that readers of the Tractatus – be they admirers or detractors of Wittgenstein – have, on the whole, failed to do this. (shrink)
Wittgensteinian ethics, it may be thought, is committed to detailed examination of realistically described cases, and hence to eschewing the abstract hypothetical cases, many of them quite bizarre, found in much contemporary moral theorizing. I argue that bizarre cases may be helpful in thinking about ethics, and that there is nothing in Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy that would go against this. I examine the case of the ring of Gyges from the Republic; and I consider also some contemporary arguments about (...) thought-experiments in philosophy. (shrink)
P.M.S. Hacker has argued that there are numerous misconceptions in James Conant's account of Wittgenstein's views and of those of Carnap. I discuss only Hacker's treatment of Conant on logical syntax in the _Tractatus. I try to show that passages in the _Tractatus which Hacker takes to count strongly against Conant's view do no such thing, and that he himself has not explained how he can account for a significant passage which certainly appears to support Conant's reading.
I look at a disagreement between Elizabeth Anscombe, on the one hand, and Peter Winch and Ilham Dilman, on the other, about whether it is legitimate to call something an error that counts as knowledge within some alien system of belief; and I look also at the question what Wittgenstein's view was. I try to show that our understanding of what is real cannot be adequately elucidated if we consider only its role within language-games, and I argue that an important (...) element in our thinking about what is and is not real emerges in our response to conflicting modes of thought. (shrink)
One of Iris Murdoch's most characteristic philosophical ideas is that any way of understanding what moral philosophy is and how it may be practised will be shaped by deep-going conceptual attitudes, of which moral philosophers themselves may be unaware. In her own philosophical writings, she tried to bring out the role played by these attitudes, and to unsettle accepted ideas about the subject. I examine some of the elements in her thought which open up different ways of understanding the subject, (...) and I discuss the relevance of these ideas to contemporary moral philosophy. (shrink)
The philosophical image of a “universe of discourse” can be misleading in the suggestions it carries about how to read Wittgenstein and how to approach the topic of the relation between language and reality. That is what I try to show by examining Ilham Dilman's discussion of medieval cosmology. I sketch an alternative account of the relation between medieval beliefs about the heavens and our astronomical beliefs, and I consider in detail the disagreement between the two accounts.
A survey of the 37 psychology departments offering courses accredited by the Australian Psychological Society yielded a 92% response rate. Sixty-eight percent of departments employed students as research subjects, with larger departments being more likely to do so. Most of these departments drew their student subject pools from introductory courses. Student research participation was strictly voluntary in 57% of these departments, whereas 43% of the departments have failed to comply with normally accepted ethical standards. It is of great concern that (...) institutional ethics committees apparently continue to condone, or fail to act against, unethical research practices. Although these committees have a duty of care to all subjects, the final responsibility for conducting research in an ethical manner lies with the individual researcher. (shrink)
Thelen et al.'s model of A-not-B performance is based on behavioral observations obtained with a paradigm markedly different from A-not-B. Central components of the model are not central to A-not-B performance. All data presented fit a simpler model, which specifies that the key abilities for success on A-not-B are working memory and inhibition. Intention and action can be dissociated in infants and adults.
Prior studies have shown a general preference among citizens for juries over judges. Researchers, however, have not considered whether race and ethnicity modify this preference. We hypothesized that minorities (African-Americans, Hispanics), who generally express less trust in the legal system, may also express less trust in juries than non-Hispanic whites. We asked a representative sample of 1,465 residents of Texas to state whether they would prefer a jury or a judge to be the decision maker in four hypothetical circumstances. Consistent (...) with expectations, non-Hispanic whites favored juries over judges, particularly if they imagined themselves as a defendant in a criminal trial. By comparison, although African-Americans and some Hispanics generally favored juries, they showed a much weaker set of jury preferences. African Americans had markedly lower support for the civil jury, but support was higher among minorities with prior jury service. Among Hispanics, respondents who took the survey in Spanish typically preferred a judge to make legal decisions. We consider the implications of our findings for trust in the jury system and trust in community members as decision makers. (shrink)
little more than a year ago, I participated in a meeting, organized by the National Academy of Sciences , on the subject of enhancing public understanding of science by encouraging greater collaboration between scientists and the media. Most of the scientists present were members of the academy, which serves both as an elected honor society and as an official adviser on science policy to the U.S. government. Across the room I spotted a slim man who seemed somehow familiar. His deliberate (...) movements suggested an inner passion concealed beneath a subdued exterior. When I came close enough to read his name tag, I saw that he was the famous astronomer Carl Sagan, whom I had corresponded with but never met. (shrink)
While Maimonides reread his sources to reconcile biblical and rabbinic texts with the demands of reason, Hermann Cohen, in his construction of a “religion of reason,” rereads Maimonides' rereadings of those very same texts. Maimonides' Judaism often bridges the sources toward Cohen's religion of reason by providing a philological anchor that nudges a term or verse now viewed through a more modern historical and evolutionary lens toward its ultimate reason-infused meaning. This paper will explore a hitherto neglected feature of their (...) oeuvres that unites Maimonides and Cohen as much as it distinguishes them: the “Jewishness” shared by both, as evident in the most Jewish of all exercises that suffuses both their works, biblical and midrashic exegesis. Their exegetical nets are systematically cast widely throughout the breadth of the Hebrew Bible, but more often than not they offer highly discrepant readings of the same passage or prooftext. Cohen's referencing of many of the same sources appeals to their Maimonidean rationalist refurbishment, but at the same time often places them in combative discourse in order to subvert and reorient Maimonides' exegesis. The notions of divine names, the “image” ( tselem ) of God, “nearness” to God, and divine “glory” ( kavod ) are closely examined to demonstrate this intertextual relationship between these two seminal Jewish thinkers. While Cohen may be misreading Maimonides' rereading of scripture, he remains a true hermeneutical disciple in his exegetical restructuring and realignment of scripture. Cohen's programmatic exegetical idealization of Maimonidean prooftexts to reconstruct a new Kantianized God forms a common ground of discourse with Maimonides that traverses seven centuries of a quintessential Jewish enterprise. (shrink)