Williams, Ron As I consider the list of previous AHOY recipients since the inaugural award in 1983, I can only say that this is an immeasurable honour. It means much to me because, for almost ten years now, Humanism has been there for my family. In 2005-2006, when separation of church and state school issues first crept into our lives, the Humanist Society of Queensland was to appear as the only beacon of secularist activism upon the deep northern horizon. (...) So in 2006 Andrea and I joined the HSQ. (shrink)
Â‘First. That on October 23, in the city of New York, your relator was arrested by divers persons claiming to be acting by authority of the government of the United States, and was by said persons conveyed to the United States immigration station at Ellis island, in the harbor of New York, and is now there imprisoned by the commissioner of immigration of the port of New York.
Is there a Moore’s paradox in desire? I give a normative explanation of the epistemic irrationality, and hence absurdity, of Moorean belief that builds on Green and Williams’ normative account of absurdity. This explains why Moorean beliefs are normally irrational and thus absurd, while some Moorean beliefs are absurd without being irrational. Then I defend constructing a Moorean desire as the syntactic counterpart of a Moorean belief and distinguish it from a ‘Frankfurt’ conjunction of desires. Next I discuss putative (...) examples of rational and irrational desires, suggesting that there are norms of rational desire. Then I examine David Wall’s groundbreaking argument that Moorean desires are always unreasonable. Next I show against this that there are rational as well as irrational Moorean desires. Those that are irrational are also absurd, although there seem to be absurd desires that are not irrational. I conclude that certain norms of rational desire should be rejected. (shrink)
G. E. Moore observed that to assert, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' would be 'absurd'. Over half a century later, such sayings continue to perplex philosophers. In the definitive treatment of the famous paradox, Green and Williams explain its history and relevance and present new essays by leading thinkers in the area.
A.P. Martinich's interpretation that in Leviathan Thomas Hobbes believed that the laws of nature are the commands of God and that he did not rely on the Bible to prove this has been criticized by Greg Forster in this journal (2003). Forster uses these criticisms to develop his own view that Hobbes was insincere when he professed religious beliefs. We argue that Forster misrepresents Martinich's view, is mistaken about what evidence is relevant to interpreting whether Hobbes was sincere or not, (...) and is mistaken about some of Hobbes's central doctrines. Forster's criticisms are worth discussing at length for at least three reasons. He takes the debate about Hobbes's sincerity to a new level of sophistication; his misinterpretations of Hobbes may become accepted as correct; and his criticisms raise issues about the proper method of interpreting historical texts. (shrink)
David Hume's relatively short essay 'Of the Standard of Taste' deals with some of the most difficult issues in aesthetic theory. Apart from giving a few pregnant remarks, near the end of his discussion, on the role of morality in aesthetic evaluation, Hume tries to reconcile the idea that tastes are subjective (in the sense of not being answerable to the facts) with the idea that some objects of taste are better than others. 'Tastes', in this context, are the pleasures (...) or displeasures that a person can take in the beauties of poems, paintings, and other artistic compositions (though Hume also wants to stress the continuities between tastes, so understood, and the bodily sense of taste). The position at which Hume arrives in the essay (despite some dialectical unclarity) is that some people – the 'true judges'– determine by their 'joint verdict' which works are meritorious. This solution continues to exercise a fascination, as does Hume's complicated route to it. Author Recommends: Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. This paper places 'Of the Standard of Taste' in an especially rich context, and asks why Hume concentrates on true judges instead of the improvement of one's own taste. Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 177–208. This chapter, embedded in an exposition of Mothersill's 'First Thesis' (the denial that there are principles of taste) and 'Second Thesis' (the affirmation that some judgments of taste are genuine judgments), gives a detailed running commentary on Hume's essay. A shorter self-contained version of the chapter appeared as 'Hume and the Paradox of Taste' in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology , 2nd ed., eds. George Dickie, Richard Sclafani, and Ronald Roblin (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1989, 269–86). Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. An importance recent article, Levinson's piece argues that the 'real' difficulty with Hume's essay has gone unnoticed: why should I care about what Hume's true judges think? Christopher Williams, 'Some Questions in Hume's Aesthetics', Philosophy Compass 2/2 (2007). This article provides a brief overview of the topics discussed under weeks 3–5 in the sample syllabus below. It is intended to provide a roadmap for the particular set of readings listed there. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. This is a stimulating paper in moral philosophy that treats Hume's essay on taste as a model for a serious subjectivism. Wiggins then presents his own brand of subjectivism as an alternative to Hume's. Online Materials: Hume's Aesthetics (Ted Gracyk): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-aesthetics/ Sample Syllabus: Recommended background reading on Hume's historical context: Peter Kivy, The Seventh Sense: Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics , 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially Part III. Recommended background reading on the general topic of taste: David A. Whewell, 'Taste', Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 415–18. Dabney Townsend and Carolyn Korsmeyer, 'Taste', Encyclopedia of Aesthetics , ed. Michael Kelly (New York, NY and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 4:355–62. Ted Cohen, 'The Philosophy of Taste: Thoughts on the Idea', Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics , ed. Peter Kivy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 167–73. Week 1: Hume on beauty, art, and aesthetic judgment in the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals The following references are usable for any complete edition of the Treatise or Enquiry Treatise , 2.1.8 ('Of Beauty and Deformity') Treatise , 2.2.5 ('Of Our Esteem for the Rich and Powerful') Treatise , 2.2.8 ('Of Malice and Envy'), final three paragraphs Treatise , 2.2.11 ('Of the Amorous Passion, or Love Betwixt the Sexes') Treatise , 3.1.2 ('Moral Distinctions Deriv'd from a Moral Sense') Treatise , 3.3.1 ('Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues') Treatise , 3.3.5 ('Some Farther Reflexions Concerning the Natural Virtues') Enquiry , Appendix 1 ('Of moral sentiment') Week 2: Hume's essays Essays Moral, Political, and Literary , ed. Eugene Miller (Indianapolis, IN: LibertyClassics, 1985) is the most commonly used edition today. 'Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion' 'Of Eloquence' 'Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences' 'Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing' 'Of Tragedy' 'Of the Standard of Taste' Week 3: Circularity–Virtuous or Vicious? Peter Kivy, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: Breaking the Circle', British Journal of Aesthetics (1967): 57–66. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. Week 4: Rules of Art Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984), 177–208. James Shelley, 'Hume's Double Standard of Taste', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (1994): 437–45. Nick Zangwill, 'Hume, Taste, and Teleology', The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 149–65. Week 5: The True Judge Malcolm Budd, 'Hume and Kant', 'Hume's Standard of Taste', 'Hume and Human Nature', Values of Art (London: Allen Lane, 1995), 16–24 . Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. Week 6: Moralism in Aesthetic Judgment: Hume and Beyond Kendall Walton, 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1994): 27–50. Richard Moran, 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination', Philosophical Review (1994): 75–106. Tamar Szabo-Gendler, 'The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance', Journal of Philosophy (2000): 55–81. Focus Questions 1. How does Hume distinguish between matters of 'fact' and 'sentiment'? 2. What is a 'rule of art', and are there any rules? 3. Can a bad critic be 'silenced'? 4. What are the characteristics of good critics? 5. Should we expect good critics to agree on the merits of a work, and should I care about becoming a good critic myself? 6. Is it possible to distinguish variations in taste for which we should expect a standard and variations for which it is 'vain' to have such an expectation? 7. How is the excellence of a work related to the exercise of taste? 8. If a work of literature has a moral outlook that differs from our own, should we consider the work defective on literary grounds? (shrink)
Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘ p and I do not believe that p ’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a (...) form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it must explain why Moorean beliefs are irrational yet, according to Chan, their grammatical third-person transpositions are not, even though the same proposition is believed. But the solution can only explain this asymmetry by relying on a formulation of the ground of the irrationality of Moorean beliefs that presupposes precisely such asymmetry. I reply that it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the irrationality that the contents of Moorean beliefs be restricted to the grammatical first-person. What has to be explained is rather that such grammatical non-first-person transpositions sometimes, but not always, result in the disappearance of irrationality. Describing this phenomenon requires the grammatical first-person/non-first person distinction. The pragmatic solution explains the phenomenon once it is formulated in de se terms. But the grammatical first-person/non-first-person distinction is independent of, and a fortiori, different from, the de se /non- de se distinction presupposed by pragmatic solution, although both involve the first person broadly construed. Therefore the pragmatic solution is not circular. Building on the work of Green and Williams I also distinguish between the irrationality of Moorean beliefs and their absurdity. I argue that while all irrational Moorean beliefs are absurd, some Moorean beliefs are absurd but not irrational. I explain this absurdity in a way that is not circular either. (shrink)
On 29 March 1744, Thomasin Grace, a 13-year-old girl, was the first inpatient admitted to the Northampton General Infirmary (later the Northampton General Hospital). Inpatient hospital diets, then and now, are mainstays of effective patient treatment. In the mid-18th century there were four prescribed diets at Northampton: ‘full’, ‘milk’, ‘dry’ and ‘low’. Previous opinions concerning these four diets were unfavourable, but had not been based upon an individual dietetic assessment. Thomasin would most likely have been given the milk diet, but (...) use of the full diet cannot be excluded. ‘Grace Everyman’ is Thomasin's modern equivalent. Under current NHS guidelines Thomasin would be considered a paediatric patient, but in 1744 she would have been considered as an adult. This study undertakes a full dietetic analysis of all the prescribed diets available for Thomasin in 1744 and compares this against random choices for Grace from the 2009 inpatient menu from the paediatric (Paddington) ward, and the adult ward inpatient menu at the Northampton General Hospital. The results show that, for Thomasin, the 1744 milk and full diets met the current advised nutritional requirements for adequate dietary intake. However, for Grace, the present 2009 Paddington and adult ward menu, although generally meeting nutritional requirements, could, if Grace or her carer consistently chose poorly during a prolonged inpatient stay, lead to inadequate nutrition. This challenges assumptions that hospital diets were historically inadequate, and that choice in present day equates with satisfactory nutritional intake. (shrink)
This article is guided by principles and practices of bioethics and public health ethics focused on health care reform within the context of promoting Optimal Health. The Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care is moving beyond the traditions of bioethics to incorporate public health ethics and Optimal Health. It is imperative to remember the legacy of the ill-fated research entitled Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. Human participant research and health care must (...) be connected to principles of bioethics and public health ethics if the Affordable Care Act is expected to positively impact on the health of people living in the United States. Optimal Health describes a strategy to achieve individual and population health. Health care reform offers an opportunity to shift from the traditional pathology focus of managing diseases to target disease prevention and health promotion with a new set of tools. Transformational change is possible if the lessons learned from the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee are considered and strategies in bioethics and public heath ethics are employed. (shrink)
G. E. Moore famously observed that to assert ‘I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I do not believe that I did’ would be ‘absurd’. Moore calls it a ‘paradox’ that this absurdity persists despite the fact that what I say about myself might be true. Krista Lawlor and John Perry have proposed an explanation of the absurdity that confines itself to semantic notions while eschewing pragmatic ones. We argue that this explanation faces four objections. We give a better (...) explanation of the absurdity both in assertion and in belief that avoids our four objections. (shrink)
I supply an argument for Evans's principle that whatever justifies me in believing that p also justifies me in believing that I believe that p. I show how this principle helps explain how I come to know my own beliefs in a way that normally makes me the best authority on them. Then I show how the principle helps to solve Moore's paradoxes.
Moore’s paradox is the fact that assertions or beliefs such asBangkok is the capital of Thailand but I do not believe that Bangkok is the capital of Thailand or Bangkok is the capital of Thailand but I believe that Bangkok is not the capital of Thailandare ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. The current orthodoxy is that an explanation of the absurdity should first start with belief, on the assumption that once the absurdity in belief has been explained then this will translate (...) into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. This assumption gives explanatory priority to belief over assertion. I show that the translation involved is much trickier than might at first appear. It is simplistic to think that Moorean absurdity in assertion is always a subsidiary product of the absurdity in belief, even when the absurdity is conceived as irrationality. Instead we should aim for explanations of Moorean absurdity in assertion and in belief that are independent even if related, while bearing in mind that some forms of irrationality may be forms of absurdity even if not conversely. (shrink)
John Turri gives an example that he thinks refutes what he takes to be “G. E. Moore's view” that omissive assertions such as “It is raining but I do not believe that it is raining” are “inherently ‘absurd'”. This is that of Ellie, an eliminativist who makes such assertions. Turri thinks that these are perfectly reasonable and not even absurd. Nor does she seem irrational if the sincerity of her assertion requires her to believe its content. A commissive counterpart of (...) Ellie is Di, a dialetheist who asserts or believes that The Russell set includes itself but I believe that it is not the case that the Russell set includes itself. Since any adequate explanation of Moore's paradox must handle commissive assertions and beliefs as well as omissive ones, it must deal with Di as well as engage Ellie. I give such an explanation. I argue that neither Ellie's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet both are absurd. Likewise neither Di's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet in contrast neither is absurd. I conclude that not all Moore-paradoxical assertions or beliefs are irrational and that the syntax of Moore's examples is not sufficient for the absurdity found in them. (shrink)
Toleration has a rich tradition in Western political philosophy. It is, after all, one of the defining topics of political philosophy—historically pivotal in the development of modern liberalism, prominent in the writings of such canonical figures as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, and central to our understanding of the idea of a society in which individuals have the right to live their own lives by their own values, left alone by the state so long as they respect the similar (...) interests of others. -/- Toleration and Its Limits, the latest addition to the NOMOS series, explores the philosophical nuances of the concept of toleration and its scope in contemporary liberal democratic societies. Editors Melissa S. Williams and Jeremy Waldron carefully compiled essays that address the tradition's key historical figures; its role in the development and evolution of Western political theory; its relation to morality, liberalism, and identity; and its limits and dangers. -/- Contributors: Lawrence A. Alexander, Kathryn Abrams, Wendy Brown, Ingrid Creppell, Noah Feldman, Rainer Forst, David Heyd, Glyn Morgan, Glen Newey, Michael A. Rosenthal, Andrew Sabl, Steven D. Smith, and Alex Tuckness. (shrink)
Stanovich & West continue a history of norm-setting that began with deference to reasonable people's opinions, followed by adherence to probability theorems. They return to deference to reasonable people, with aptitude test performance substituting for reasonableness. This allows them to select independently among competing theories, but defines reasoning circularly in terms of aptitude, while aptitude is measured using reasoning.
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. This is a revised version of Professor (...) Smart's famous essay 'an outline of a system of utilitarian ethics', first published in 1961 but long unobtainable. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. Both authors are agreed on utilitarianism's importance: it cuts across a number of different philosophical disputes and combines a systematic account of mata-ethical problems with a distinctive and substantive moral stand. It thus is, or involves, philosophy in both the traditional and the narrower, professional sense of the word, and is a key topic (often the first topic) in introductory philosophy courses. This book should also be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists. (shrink)
What can--and what can't--philosophy do? What are its ethical risks--and its possible rewards? How does it differ from science? In Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline , Bernard Williams addresses these questions and presents a striking vision of philosophy as fundamentally different from science in its aims and methods even though there is still in philosophy "something that counts as getting it right." Written with his distinctive combination of rigor, imagination, depth, and humanism, the book amply demonstrates why Williams (...) was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Spanning his career from his first publication to one of his last lectures, the book's previously unpublished or uncollected essays address metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as the scope and limits of philosophy itself. The essays are unified by Williams's constant concern that philosophy maintain contact with the human problems that animate it in the first place. As the book's editor, A. W. Moore, writes in his introduction, the title essay is "a kind of manifesto for Williams's conception of his own life's work." It is where he most directly asks "what philosophy can and cannot contribute to the project of making sense of things"--answering that what philosophy can best help make sense of is "being human." Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline is one of three posthumous books by Williams to be published by Princeton University Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument was published in the fall of 2005. The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy is being published shortly after the present volume. (shrink)
The existence of an idea of a missing shade of blue contradicts Hume's first principle that simple ideas all derive from corresponding simple impressions. Hume dismisses the exception to his principle as unimportant. Why does he do so? His later account of distinctions of reason suggests a systematic way of dealing with simple ideas not derived from simple impressions. Why does he not return to the problem of the missing shade, having offered that account? Several suggestions as to Hume's solution (...) of the problem of the missing shade (not all appealing to distinctions of reason) are explored with an eye both to their adequacy as Humean solutions and their value as clues to his dismissal of the problem. Hypotheses concerning the latter perplexity are formulated and discussed as well. Senses in which the missing shade of blue is or may be a red herring are identified. In course, this author names Hume's missing shade marjorie grene. Historians of philosophy will want to adopt this nomenclature. (shrink)
[Michael Williams] A response to Sosa's criticisms of Sellars's account of the relation between knowledge and experience, noting that Sellars excludes merely animal knowledge, and hopes to bypass epistemology by an adequate philosophy of mind and language. /// [Ernest Sosa] I give an exposition and critical discussion of Sellars's Myth of the Given, and especially of its epistemic side. In later writings Sellars takes a pragmatist turn in his epistemology. This is explored and compared with his earlier critique of (...) givenist mythology. In response to Michael Williams, it is argued that these issues are importantly independent of philosophy of language or mind, and that my own take on them does not commit me to any absurd radical foundationalism on language or mind. My own take is in line with Descartes' two-level epistemology of cognitio and scientia, a bifurcation that protects him from vicious circularity, and is adaptable for an epistemology naturalized (not supernaturalized), whether in the way of Quine, or Moore, or Davidson. (shrink)
This new volume of philosophical papers by Bernard Williams is divided into three sections: the first Action, Freedom, Responsibility, the second Philosophy, Evolution and the Human Sciences; in which appears the essay which gives the collection its title; and the third Ethics, which contains essays closely related to his 1983 book Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Like the two earlier volumes of Williams's papers published by Cambridge University Press, Problems of the Self and Moral Luck, this volume (...) will be welcomed by all readers with a serious interest in philosophy. It is published alongside a volume of essays on Williams's work, World, Mind, and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams, edited by J. E. J. Altham and Ross Harrison, which provides a reappraisal of his work by other distinguished thinkers in the field. (shrink)
Robert Fogelin agrees that arguments for Cartesian sceptism carry a heavy burden of theoretical commitment, for they take for granted, explicitly or implicitly, the foundationalist's idea that experimental knowledge is in some fully general way 'epistemologically prior' to knowledge of the world. He thinks, however, that there is a much more direct and commonsensical route to scepticism. Ordinary knowledge-claims are accepted on the basis of justificatory procedures that fall far short of eliminating all conceivable error-possibilities. As a result, it is (...) always possible, by bringing new errorpossibilities into play, to raise the 'level of scrutiny' to which a given knowledge-claim is subject, so that it no longer seems adequately justified. Philosophical theories of justification can be seen as attempts to repair this fragility of ordinary knowledge. But they fail, all succumbing to the Pyrrhonian modes of assumption, circularity or infinite regress. I argue that Fogelin's conception of varying levels of scrutiny leads at most to fallibilism and not to radical scepticism. More importantly, I show that changing the range of relevant defeaters to a given knowledge claim can do more that impose stricter standards for justification: it can change the subject by altering the direction of inquiry. We see from this that the introduction of 'sceptical hypotheses' (such as that Descartes's Evil Deceiver) are not best seen as raising standards to some maximal level but as introducing a new kind of evaluation which, without commitment to what I call 'epistemological realism,' does nothing to impugn the justificational status of ordinary knowledge-claims entered in ordinary contexts. (shrink)
Two of the most prominent questions in Kant's critical philosophy concern reason. The first, central to his theoretical philosophy, is the unprovable pretensions of reason in earlier “rationalist” philosophers, especially Leibniz and Descartes. The second, central to his practical philosophy, is the subservient role accorded to reason by the British empiricists—above all Hume, who declared, “Reason is wholly inactive, and can never be the source of so active a principle as conscience, or a sense of morals.” Treatise, 220.127.116.11; see also (...) the entry on Rationalism vs. Empiricism .) Thus the titles of two key works: the monumental Critique of Pure Reason, and the Critique of Practical Reason that is middle point of his great trio of moral writings (between the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and The Metaphysics of Morals). (shrink)
Most views of personal identity allow that sometimes, facts of personal identity can be borderline or indeterminate. Bernard Williams argued that regarding questions of one’s own survival as borderline “had no comprehensible representation” in one’s emotions and expectations. Whether this is the case, I will argue, depends crucially on what account of indeterminacy is presupposed.
Although commentators sometimes mention a link between Kant and Nietzsche, this paper claims that the continuities in their moral thought have been insufficiently explored. I argue that Nietzsche may offer us a profound rethinking of Kant’s morality – one indebted to Kant’s ideal of critique. The paper first considers the wide apparent gulf between the thinkers. The second section seeks to explain this gulf in terms which relate to Kant’s overall project, while the final section deals with Nietzsche’s critique of (...) Kant’s reliance on rules of various sorts. I conclude with two suggestions for contemporary Kantian ethics that we might take from Nietzsche’s engagement. (shrink)
The thought that diseases form natural kinds tends not to sit well with the essentialist treatment of natural kinds. The essentialist’s candidates for the essences of diseases—etiological properties—rarely satisfy the essentialist’s requirement that they be necessary and sufficient for membership within the kind. Consequently philosophers of medicine have tended to back away from treating diseases as natural kinds. However, this retreat was too hasty: there are good reasons for thinking that diseases form natural kinds. The problem lies with the essentialist (...) treatment of natural kinds, and not with treating disease as forming natural kinds. A similar revolution has taken place within the species debate, where the notion of natural kind has been ‘taken back’ from the essentialist. Borrowing the revised treatment of natural kinds from the philosophers of species and modifying it slightly, I offer a proposed treatment of disease kinds in terms of homeostatic property clusters. (shrink)
Thomas Williams Note: This is a preprint of my introduction to the forthcoming translation by Margaret Atkins of Thomas Aquinas’s Disputed Questions on the Virtues (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). The basic procedure was simple. The topic would be announced in advance so that everyone could prepare an arsenal of clever arguments. When the faculty and students had gathered, the professor would offer a brief introduction and state his thesis. All morning long an appointed graduate student would (...) take objections from the audience and defend the professor’s thesis against those objections. (And if the graduate student began to flounder, the professor was allowed to help him out.) A secretary would take shorthand notes. The next day the group would reassemble. This time it would be the professor’s job to summarise the arguments on both sides and give his own response to the question at issue. The whole thing would be written up, either in a rough-and-tumble version deriving from the secretary’s notes or in a more carefully crafted and edited version prepared by the professor himself. Records of such academic exercises have come down to us under the title ‘disputed questions’. (shrink)
Chancy counterfactuals are a headache. Dylan Dodd (2009) presents an interesting argument against a certain general strategy for accounting for them, instances of which are found in the appendices to Lewis (1979) and in Williams (2008). I will argue (i) that Dodd’s understates the counterintuitiveness of the conclusions he can reach; (ii) that the counterintuitiveness can be thought of as an instance of more general oddities arising when we treat vagueness and indeterminacy in a classical setting; and (iii) the (...) underlying source of discontent which animates Dodd’s complains is to be found in a certain general constraint one might impose on conditionals—what I’ll call the counterfactual Ramsey bound. Unfortunately, the counterfactual Ramsey bound is just as problematic as its famous indicative cousin. The moral is that there’s no comfortable resting place in this area; for violations of the counterfactual Ramsey bound are going to lead to prima facie surprising results. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In <span class='Hi'>Williams</span> (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries (...) of the core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination deﬁnes a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In Williams (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries of (...) the core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination defines a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
This volume brings together Paul Williams's previously published papers on the Indian and Tibetan interpretations of selected verses from the eighth and ninth chapters of the Bodhicaryavatara. In addition, there is a much longer version of the paper 'Identifying the Object of Negation', and nearly half the book consists of a wholly new essay, 'The Absence of Self and the Removal of Pain', subtitled 'How Santideva Destroyed the Bodhisattva Path'. This book will be of interest to those concerned with (...) the history and interpretation of Indian and Tibetan philosophy. (shrink)
There are two general routes that Augustine suggests in De Trinitate, XV, 14-16, 23-25, for a psychological account of the Father's intellectual generation of the Word. Thomas Aquinas and Henry of Ghent, in their own ways, follow the first route; John Duns Scotus follows the second. Aquinas, Henry, and Scotus's psychological accounts entail different theological opinions. For example, Aquinas (but neither Henry nor Scotus) thinks that the Father needs the Word to know the divine essence. If we compare the theological (...) views entailed by their psychologies we find a trajectory from Aquinas, through Henry, and ending with Scotus. This theological trajectory falsifies a judgment that every Augustinian psychology of the divine persons amounts to a pre-Nicene functional Trinitarianism. This study makes clear how one's awareness of the theological views entailed by these psychologies enables one to assess more thoroughly psychological accounts of the identity and distinction of the divine persons. (shrink)
Lyotard and the Political is the first book to consider the full range of the French philosopher Francois Lyotard's political thought and its broader implications. Author James Williams clearly and carefully traces the development of Lyotard's thought from his early Marxist essays on the Algerian struggle for independence to his break with the thought of Marx and Freud. This book explains why Lyotard lost his belief in revolutionary politics and seeks to draw out the positive and negative consequences of (...) this loss. Encompassing all of Lyotard's thought, early and late, the book situates his work in terms of the dominant political and philosophical positions of the twentieth century.Williams clearly explains the relationship between Lyotard's thought and the thought of Kant, Heidegger, and Deleuze. (shrink)
I give an account of the absurdity of Moorean beliefs of the omissive form(om) p and I don’t believe that p,and the commissive form(com) p and I believe that not-p,from which I extract a definition of Moorean absurdity. I then argue for an account of the absurdity of Moorean assertion. After neutralizing two objections to my whole account, I show that Roy Sorensen’s own account of the absurdity of his ‘iterated cases’(om1) p and I don’t believe that I believe that (...) p,and(com1) p and I believe that I believe that not-p,is unsatisfactory. I explain why it is less absurd to believe or assert (om1) or (com1) than to believe or assert (om) or (com) and show that despite appearances, subsequent iterations of (om1) or (com1) do not decrease the absurdity of believing or asserting them. (shrink)
This essay examines Hegel’s critique of Kant’s concept of critical philosophy, set forth principally in his Phenomenology of Spirit and Encyclopedia. In the former Hegel presents a hermeneutical critique of Kant, to wit, the concept of critique presupposes a concept of knowledge construed as an instrument. On this assumption the “instrument” of knowledge is supposed to be examined apart from and in advance of its application. But Hegel objects that the underlying conception of knowledge as an instrument undermines the cognitive (...) project because it separates the knower from the known; it is self-defeating because it cuts us off from what we seek to know. Further, Hegel asks, what is the status of the critique? Is it knowledge? In order to determine the boundaries of cognition, Kant is forced repeatedly to transgress those very boundaries. Hegel’s objection does not signal a repudiation of critique. Rather Hegel demands that critique not be separated from actual cognition, and that it constitute an integral moment of speculative philosophy. The exploration of this requirement takes us into an examination of Hegel’s account of phenomenological critique, his account of Kant’s paralogisms, his analysis of the spurious infinite and its overcoming in the genuine infinite. (shrink)
Despite his elusiveness on important issues, there is much in Michael Oakeshott's educational vision that Richard Peters quite rightly wishes to endorse. The main aim of this essay is, however, to consider Peters' justifiable critique of three features of Oakeshott's work. These are (1) the rigidity of his distinction between vocational and university education, (2) the lack of clarity and accuracy in his philosophy of teaching and learning, especially the under-conceptualisation of the role of example in teaching, (3) the over-emphasis (...) on tradition in moral and civic learning. (shrink)
According to Hegel, the true infinite is the fundamental concept of philosophy. Yet despite this fact, there is absence of consensus concerning its meaning and significance. The true infinite challenges the currently dominant non-metaphysical interpretations of Hegel, as it challenged the dominance of the Kantian framework in its own day, specifically Kant’s attack on theology and his treatment of theology as a postulate of moralit y. Kant admits that the God-postulate has only subjective necessity and validity, and is an expression (...) of moral faith. Hegel both accepts Kant’s approach to the God-question through freedom and practical reason, but he rejects Kant’s philosophy of the postulates as incoherent, burdened with finitude and antithesis. The ought is only the beginning of the transcendence of finitude, but also essentially clings to finitude. This is the spurious infinite. In contrast to the traditional view of abstract transcendence, Hegel shows that the very attempt to separate the infinite from the finite only renders the infinite finite and levels it. The consciousness of limit (finitude) implies a transcendence of limit. The true infinite is an onto-theological principle, a social infinite that overcomes the limits imposed by abstract transcendence and the dualisms imposed by the Kantian frame. It is of vital importance for Hegel’s philosophy of religion, as both a doctrine of divine presence and absolute spirit in its community. (shrink)
Hegel’s True Infinite is “well known” but there is little consensus concerning its meaning. The true infinite is introduced in Hegel’s deconstruction of traditional conceptions of quality, determinacy and reality as wholly positive and from which negation, limitation and determinacy are excluded. Everything is other than and unrelated to everything else. These assumptions yield the stubborn category of finitude as an absolute limit, and of God as abstract unknowable Beyond. But Hegel claims that every attempt to separate the infinite from (...) the finite makes the infinite itself finite—the spurious infinite, the “ought.” The true infinite is the negation/correction of the spurious infinite; it reinstates the relations suppressed by the understanding. The true infinite is an ontotheological conception of a social infinite: it is both absolute—in and for itself—and related—being for an other—to wit, an articulated, inclusive whole. It is not an acosmic pantheism like Spinoza’s that defrauds difference and finitude of their due. The true infinite presupposes as its corollary the idealit y of the finite. The latter articulates the ontological status of the finite as sublated in the true infinite, i.e. as a member both distinct from and related to (dependent on) the true infinite. The true infinite is the whole present in its members. The true infinite is neither traditional theism (the assertion of abstract transcendence), nor atheism (the denial of abstracttranscendence) nor pantheism (that eliminates finitude), nor a projection of finitude (Feuerbach). It is best understood as panentheism. (shrink)
Japan and the Enemies of Open Political Science argues that Eurocentric blindness is a scientific failing, not a moral one. In a way true of no other political system, Japan's greatness has the potential to enliven and reform almost all the main branches of Western Political Science. David Williams criticizes Western social science, Anglo-American Philosophy and French Theory and explains why mainstream economists, historians of political thought and postculturalists have ignored Japan's modern achievements. Williams demonstrates why the renewal (...) of social science and the nurturing of a "a philosophy of the Pacific Century" requires a sustained act of intellectual demolition. (shrink)
David Williams explores the complex links between Condorcet as visionary ideologist and pragmatic legislator, and between his concept of modernity and the management of change. The Marquis de Condorcet was one of the few Enlightenment thinkers to witness and participate in the French Revolution. Based on an extensive array of printed and original manuscript sources, Williams' analysis of Condorcet's politics will be a major contribution to Enlightenment studies.
This paper considers a short quotation from near the beginnings of Arendt’s Denktagebuch, dated to August 1950. This epigrammatic formulation presages Arendt’s whole political theory, by situating the political outside of the individual, in-between a plurality of human beings. My concern, however, is not with politics as such. Instead, I ask: cannot what Arendt says of politics be said with equal truth of morality? To make some attempt upon this vast question, I examine Arendt’s own more tentative explorations of the (...) moral sphere, including the importance she attaches to judgment – in particular, our judgment of the company we might keep and the exemplars we should follow. (shrink)
In this comment on John Yolton's Is There a History of Philosophy? (Yolton, 1985) I review his account of the development during the 17th to 19th centuries of a common sense of the range of philosophical problems and of the canon of philosophical works. I suggest that his account may be read in light of Rorty's four genres of historiography (Rorty, 1984). I criticize his view of the place of the history of philosophy in philosophy as too timid, though correct (...) as far as it goes. I then suggest, but do not attempt to establish, a bolder thesis. Finally, I raise some doubts about the adequacy of Yolton's reading of Descartes and Berkeley set out in two of his Puzzlements. The Puzzlements themselves are supposed to illustrate typical misreading of major figures in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
In this case (5) yields the result that A and D are I-related, but neither is I-related to B or C – the original person has two beginnings of existence. To get round this we need to add to (5)’s right-hand side the condition that there is no pair of distinct, simultaneously occurring person-stages u and v such that u is R-related to x and y and v is R-related to x and no pair of distinct, simultaneously occurring personstages u (...) and v such that u is R-related to x and y and v is R-related to y. In fact this condition can replace (iic) on the RHS of (5). (shrink)