Leading Harvard philosophy professor William ErnestHocking (1873-1966), author of 17 books and in his day second only to John Dewey in the breadth of his thinking, is now largely forgotten, and his once-influential writings are out of print. This volume, which combines a rich selection of Hocking’s work with incisive essays by distinguished scholars, seeks to recover Hocking’s valuable contributions to philosophical thought.
Ethics position theory (EPT) maintains that individuals’ personal moral philosophies influence their judgments, actions, and emotions in ethically intense situations. The theory, when describing these moral viewpoints, stresses two dimensions: idealism (concern for benign outcomes) and relativism (skepticism with regards to inviolate moral principles). Variations in idealism and relativism across countries were examined via a meta-analysis of studies that assessed these two aspects of moral thought using the ethics position questionnaire (EPQ; Forsyth, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39 , (...) 175–184, 1980). This review identified 139 samples drawn from 29 different countries, for a total sample of 30,230 respondents, and concluded that (a) levels of idealism and relativism vary across regions of the world in predictable ways; (b) an exceptionist ethic is more common in Western countries, subjectivism and situationism in Eastern countries, and absolutism and situationism in Middle Eastern countries; and (c) a nation’s ethics position predicted that country’s location on previously documented cultural dimensions, such as individualism and avoidance of uncertainty (Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values , 1980). Limitations in these methods and concerns about the validity of these cross-cultural conclusions are noted, as are suggestions for further research using the EPQ. (shrink)
Kitcher and Aspray distinguish a mainstream tradition in the philosophy of mathematics concerned with foundationalist epistemology, and a ‘maverick’ or naturalistic tradition, originating with Lakatos. My claim is that if the consequences of Lakatos's contribution are fully worked out, no less than a radical reconceptualization of the philosophy of mathematics is necessitated, including history, methodology and a fallibilist epistemology as central to the field. In the paper an interpretation of Lakatos's philosophy of mathematics is offered, followed by some critical discussion, (...) and an extension to a social constructivist position (which might well have been unacceptable to Lakatos). (shrink)
Mathematicians and physical scientists depend heavily on the formal symbolism of mathematics in order to express and develop their theories. For this and other reasons the last hundred years has seen a growing interest in the nature of formal language and the way it expresses meaning; particularly the objective, shared aspect of meaning as opposed to subjective, personal aspects. This dichotomy suggests the question: do the objective philosophical theories of meaning offer concepts which can be applied in psychological theories of (...) meaning? In recent years cognitive scientists such as Chomsky , Fodor  and MacNamara  have used philosophical approaches to the meaning of formal language expressions as the basis for their psychological theories. Following this lead it seems appropriate to review some of the main treatments of meaning with a view to their transferability. (shrink)
Robert Smid is senior lecturer in philosophy and religion at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. This book, a slightly revised version of his recent PhD dissertation from Boston University, is dedicated to Robert Cummings Neville, under whose guidance it was originally written. As the title suggests, this volume explores various methods of comparative philosophers in the pragmatist and process traditions of American philosophy. Smid thus focuses his analytic lens on William ErnestHocking (1873–1966), F. S. C. Northrop (1893–1992), (...) the collaborative work of David Hall (1937–2001) and Roger Ames (1947-), and Neville himself (1939-). The four chapters at the heart of the book—between the introduction and final .. (shrink)
A review of Ernest Sosa’s book Apt Belief and Reflective Knowledge. While I think Sosa is quite right that knowledge lies on a spectrum, and that its higher but not its lower reaches require of knowers, when challenged, a strong degree of explanatory coherence (ability to understand and discursively defend the basis of their beliefs), I also point out problems with certain aspects of his account.
This paper offers and analysis of Ernest Sosa's Virtue Perspectivism. Although Sosa has been credited with fathering the influential contemporary movement known as Virtue Epistemology, I argue that Sosa imprudently abandons the reliabilist-based insights of Virtue Epistemology in favor of a reflection-based, "perspectival"' view. Sosa's mixed allegiance to reliabilist-based and reflection-based views of knowledge, in fact, leads to an unwelcome tension in his thought which can be relieved by recognizing that his reflection-based view is in fact an account of (...) the cognitive state of understanding, rather than an account of knowledge. Sosa makes matters difficult for himself because he expects too much, as it were, from the concept of knowledge, and in the process burdens his view with elements of reflection it does not require. To solve the problem, I suggest that Sosa needs to develop a two-tiered epistemology which recognizes that knowledge, on the one hand, and understanding, on the other, both have necessary and sufficient conditions unique to themselves. (shrink)
It is well known that Ernest Gellner made substantial use of his knowledge of the social sciences in philosophy. Here I discuss how he used it on the basis of a few examples taken from Gellner’s philosophical output. It is argued that he made a number of highly original “translations”, orre-interpretations, of philosophical theories and problems using his knowledge of the social sciences. While this method is endorsed, it is also argued that some of Gellner’s translations crossed the line (...) between the original and the idiosyncratic. (shrink)
Ernest Gellner was a unique scholar whose work covered areas as diverse as social anthropology, analytical philosophy, the sociology of the Islamic world, nationalism, psychoanalysis, East European transformations and kinship structures. Despite this diversity, there is an exceptional degree of unity and coherence in Gellner's work with his distinctly modernist, rationalist and liberal world-view evident in everything he wrote. His central problematic remains constant: understanding how the modern world came into being and to what extent it is unique relative (...) to all other social forms. Ten years after his death, this book brings together leading social theorists to evaluate the significance of Gellner's legacy and to re-examine his central concerns. It corrects many misunderstandings and critically engages with Gellner's legacy to provide a cutting edge contribution to understanding our contemporary post-9/11, global, late modern, social condition. (shrink)
In this paper, I analyze the significance of Ernest Nagel's introduction of the notion of model in his reconstruction of scientific theories. Nagel's account is generally considered as a version of the "received view" of theories, whose main advocate is Carnap. However, I will show that Nagel's considerations on models imply a renunciation to the logical empiricists' project of the formalization of scientific theories. I will argue that Nagel implicitly acknowledges that, in order to study the content of theories, (...) one cannot abstract away from the agents' understanding of theories, and from the reasoning processes they perform when using them. (shrink)
The definition of 'Englishness' has become the subject of considerable debate, and in this important contribution tto Ideas in Context Julia Stapleton looks at the work of one of the most wide-ranging and influential theorists of the English nation, Ernest Barker. The first holder of the Chair of Political Science at Cambridge, Barker wrote prolifically on the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, and his writings are notable for fusing three of the dominant strands of late-nineteenth and (...) early-twentieth century political thought, Whiggism, Idealism and Pluralism. Infused with a strong cultural sense of nationhood, Barker's writings influenced a broad non-academic audience, and their subsequent neglect graphically demonstrates the fate of a certain vision of Liberal England in the generation after World War One. With, however, the erosion of a particular sense of Englishness, Barker's ideas have begun to assume renewed resonance. (shrink)
Abstract I agree with Sosa that intuitions are best thought of as attractions to believe a certain proposition merely on the basis of understanding it. However, I don’t think it is constitutive of them that they supply strictly foundational justification for the propositions they justify, though I do believe that it is important that the intuition of a suitable subject be thought of as a prima facie justification for his intuitive judgment, independently of the reliability of his underlying capacities. I (...) also think that we need to be able to explain how mere understanding of a proposition can confer upon us an ability to have reliable intuitions, that we cannot simply take that idea for granted. And that when try to explain that, our best avenue for doing so is to take the intuitions as constituting the understanding of which they are said to be a manifestation. (shrink)
Foundationalism is false; after all, foundational beliefs are arbitrary, they do not solve the epistemic regress problem, and they cannot exist withoutother (justified) beliefs. Or so some people say. In this essay, we assess some arguments based on such claims, arguments suggested in recent work by Peter Klein and Ernest Sosa.