Understanding human beings and their distinctive rational and volitional capacities is one of the central tasks of philosophy. The task requires a clear account of such things as reasons, desires, emotions and motives, and of how they combine to produce and explain human behaviour. In Kinds of Reasons, Maria Alvarez offers a fresh and incisive treatment of these issues, focusing in particular on reasons as they feature in contexts of agency. Her account builds on some important recent work in the (...) area; but she takes her main inspiration from the tradition that receives its seminal contemporary expression in the writings of G.E.M. Anscombe, a tradition that runs counter to the broadly Humean orthodoxy that has dominated the theory of action for the past forty years. Alvarez's conclusions are therefore likely to be controversial; and her bold and painstaking arguments will be found provocative by participants on every side of the debates with which she engages. Clear and directly written, Kinds of Reasons aims to stake out a distinctive position within one of the most hotly contested areas of contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
In 1969 Harry Frankfurt published his hugely influential paper 'Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility' in which he claimed to present a counterexample to the so-called 'Principle of Alternate Possibilities' ('a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise'). The success of Frankfurt-style cases as counterexamples to the Principle has been much debated since. I present an objection to these cases that, in questioning their conceptual cogency, undercuts many of those debates. Such cases (...) all require a counterfactual mechanism that could cause an agent to perform an action that he cannot avoid performing. I argue that, given our concept of what it is for someone to act, this requirement is inconsistent. Frankfurt-style alleged counterexamples are cases where an agent is morally responsible for an action he performs even though, the claim goes, he could not have avoided performing that action. However, it has recently been argued, e.g. by John Fischer, that a counterexample to the Principle could be a 'Fischer-style case', i.e. a case where the agent can either perform the action or do nothing else. I argue that, although Fischer-style cases do not share the conceptual flaw common to all Frankfurt-style cases, they also fail as counterexamples to the Principle. The paper finishes with a brief discussion of the significance of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. (shrink)
Reasons can play a variety of roles in a variety of contexts. For instance, reasons can motivate and guide us in our actions (and omissions), in the sense that we often act in the light of reasons. And reasons can be grounds for beliefs, desires and emotions and can be used to evaluate, and sometimes to justify, all these. In addition, reasons are used in explanations: both in explanations of human actions, beliefs, desires, emotions, etc., and in explanations of a (...) wide range of phenomena involving all sorts of animate and inanimate substances. This diversity has encouraged the thought that the term 'reason' is ambiguous or has different senses in different contexts. Moreover, this view often goes hand in hand with the claim that reasons of these different kinds belong to different ontological categories: to facts (or something similar) in the case of normative/justifying reasons, and to mental states in the case of motivating/explanatory reasons. In this paper I shall explore some of the main roles that reasons play and, on that basis, I shall offer a classification of kinds of reasons. As will become clear, my classification of reasons is at odds with much of the literature in several respects: first, because of my views about how we should understand the claim that reasons are classified into different kinds; second, because of the kinds into which I think reasons should be classified; and, finally, because of the consequences I think this view has for the ontology of reasons. (shrink)
This paper seeks a better understanding of the elements of practical reasoning: premises and conclusion. It argues that the premises of practical reasoning do not normally include statements such as ‘I want to ϕ’; that the reasoning in practical reasoning is the same as in theoretical reasoning and that what makes it practical is, first, that the point of the relevant reasoning is given by the goal that the reasoner seeks to realize by means of that reasoning and the subsequent (...) action; second, that the premises of such reasoning show the goodness of the action to be undertaken; third, that the conclusions of such reasoning may be actions or decisions, that can be accompanied by expressions of intention, either in action, or for the future; and that these are justified, and might be contradicted, in ways that are not only peculiar to them (i.e. in ways that diverge from those found in theoretical reasoning), but are distinctively practical, in that they involve reference to reasons for acting and to expressions of intention, respectively.1. (shrink)
In the past thirty years or so, the doctrine that actions are events has become an essential, and sometimes unargued, part of the received view in the philosophy of action, despite the efforts of a few philosophers to undermine the consensus. For example, the entry for Agency in a recently published reference guide to the philosophy of mind begins with the following sentence: A central task in the philosophy of action is that of spelling out the differences between events in (...) general and those events that fall squarely into the category of human action. There is no consensus about what events are. But it is generally agreed that, whatever events may prove to be, actions are a species or a class of events. We believe that the received view is mistaken: actions are not events. We concede that for most purposes, the kind of categorial refinement which is involved in either affirming or denying that actions are events is frankly otiose. Our common idiom does not stress the difference between actions and events, at least not in general terms, because it has no need to. Perhaps it sounds a little odd to say that some events are performed; but if we balked at describing, say, the abdication of Edward VIII as one of the politically significant events in Britain in 1936, it could not be for metaphysical reasons. And since actions, like events, are datable — though often, as we shall see, only imprecisely — actions are said to take place and to occur. But an important class of actions consist in moving something; indeed, according to many philosophers, every action consists in moving something. And when we consider actions of this sort from a theoretical point of view it becomes imperative to distinguish between actions and events. Or so we shall argue. (shrink)
This paper explores the question whether whatever is done intentionally is done for a reason. Apart from helping us to think about those concepts, the question is interesting because it affords an opportunity to identify a number of misconceptions about reasons. In the paper I argue that there are things that are done intentionally but not done for a reason. I examine two different kinds of example: things done “because one wants to” and “purely expressive actions”. Concerning the first, I (...) argue that the tendency to think that things done because one wants to are things done for a reason derives from conflating the reason that explains why someone did something with their reason for doing it. While these sometimes coincide, they need not always do so. And although the fact that someone wanted to do something can contribute to explaining the person's action, it is not normally that person's reason for doing that thing. Purely expressive actions also provide examples of things done intentionally but not for a reason. I argue that, although those actions are spontaneous, they are nonetheless intentional and that, since they are mere expressions of emotions, they are not done for reasons - although there are reasons why we do them. (shrink)
Two conceptions of motivating reasons, i.e. the reasons for which we act, can be found in the literature: (1) the dominant 'psychological conception', which says that motivating reasons are an agent's believing something; and (2) the 'non-psychological' conception, the minority view, which says that they are what the agent believes, i.e. his beliefs. In this paper I outline a version of the minority view, and defend it against what have been thought to be insuperable difficulties - in particular, difficulties concerning (...) 'error cases' (cases where what the agent believes is false); and difficulties concerning the explanation of action. Concerning error cases, I argue that if we are motivated by something believed that is true, what motivates us to act is a motivating reason. By contrast, if we are motivated by something believed that is false, then what motivates us to act is merely an apparent motivating reason. Either way, what motivates us is, as the non-psychological conception says, what we believe and not our believing it. I offer an account of the relation between motivating reasons and the explanation of action, and argue that this account helps bring out two important points. One is that the fact that we often do, and indeed sometimes must, use explanations such as 'He did it because he believed that p' does not vindicate the psychological conception of motivating reasons. The other is that endorsing the non-psychological conception of motivating reasons does not commit one to a non-factive view of explanations of action. (shrink)
Ethical beliefs may vary across cultures but there are things that must be valued as preconditions to any cultural practice. Physical and mental abilities vital to believing, valuing and practising a culture are such preconditions and it is always important to protect them. If one is to practise a distinct culture, she must at least have these basic abilities. Access to basic healthcare is one way to ensure that vital abilities are protected. John Rawls argued that access to all-purpose primary (...) goods must be ensured. Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum claim that universal capabilities are what resources are meant to enable. Len Doyal and Ian Gough identify physical health and autonomy as basic needs of every person in every culture. When we disagree on what to prioritize, when resources to satisfy competing demands are scarce, our common needs can provide a point of normative convergence. Need-based rationing, however, has been criticized for being too indeterminate to give guidance for deciding which healthcare services to prioritize and for tending to create a bottomless-pit problem. But there is a difference between needing something (first-order need) and needing to have the ability to need (second-order need). Even if we disagree about which first-order need to prioritize, we must accept the importance of satisfying our second-order need to have the ability to value things. We all have a second-order need for basic healthcare as a means to protect our vital abilities even if we differ in what our cultures consider to be particular first-order needs. (shrink)
Empirical research on Rational Choice Theory has brought up two focus of the economics laws problem. On one hand, we find the authors who state that the neoclassical economics laws are explanatory and predictive on specific cases: in transparent contexts in which the standard rationality operates successfully. On the other hand, we find the authors who state that the descriptive theories of the rational choice opens up a research path in which fundamental principles of the neoclassical building could be questioned. (...) Both view points have generated an important standard Rational Choice Theory revision what has produced the so called descriptive view point . It implies understanding that most of the choices take place under risky or uncertainty conditions and, that, these choices are far more complex than the normative Rational Choice Theory supposes. This article's main goal is to expand the descriptive point of view in rational choice, theorizing how some factors, coming from the social and cultural environment, operate within the rational choice. Into space of this research essay we find the debatable question of whether these sort of proposals expands the explanation of the deviation of the rational choice normative theory, and that, of the disturbing causes of the microeconomics laws, or they call into question fundamental principles of these laws and therefore they are opening the possibility to focus some economics issues in a new different manner. (shrink)
In a congressional hearing in the spring of 1996, talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford was charged with endorsing clothing made in Honduran sweatshops by exploited children. Resulting media coverage focused public attention on a seamy underside of the "global economy." Redemption strategies used by Gifford and her public relations consultant, and repeated and promoted through the mass media, fed a larger controversy over the meaning of the concept of the global economy and its ethical implications for the American public.
The history of the classification of chemical elements is reviewed from the point of view of a bibliophile. The influence that relevant books had on the development of the periodic table and, conversely, how it was incorporated into textbooks, treatises and literary works, with an emphasis on the Spanish bibliography are analyzed in this paper. The reader will also find unexpected connections of the periodic table with the Bible or the architect Buckminster Fuller.
: George Rupp's Beyond Existentialism and Zen, in its typological-structural analysis and model of religious pluralism, proffers an alternative to the dominant Kantian models (e.g., by John Hicks and Sarvepalli Radhakrish nan). The question for Rupp is not which religion is true and how to decide that issue—answered in the Kantian approach in terms of an unknowable Ding an sich that all religions, albeit imperfectly, try to approximate or conceptualize (i.e., God or the Transcendent)—but rather how do religions represent, at (...) least in principle, a structural possibility for salvation or human flourishing, however different and incompatible their distinct prima facie truth claims might be. Although the potential for a radically relativistic model is implicit in Rupp's approach, it is argued here that his Hegelian assumptions lead him to accept relativism only in a provisional ("critical") way; for Rupp, under ideal epistemic conditions (e.g., the Peircian "end of inquiry"), one final conceptualization of ultimate reality will emerge as absolute truth. In the final part of this essay a version of the relativistic model implicit in Rupp's approach is defended against both the Kantian model of Hicks et al. and Rupp's Hegelian-Peircian model, which, it is argued, is incompatible certainly with the spirit of his own typological-structural analysis, if not with the letter. In challenging what Rupp calls the truth of Zen, it is further argued that not only is more than one salvific structural possibility available to us through the different world religions but also that realizing these possibilities is principally a human responsibility, and that the cosmos is quite indifferent to and compatible with several possibilities, from the most destructive to the most conducive to human well being and flourishing. (shrink)
The article focuses on the definition of constitutional conflicts as moral dilemmas. It discusses the conception of tragic conflicts by which “loss” is a distinctive feature that identifies both moral and constitutional dilemmas. It also asserts the peculiarity of constitutional conflicts vis-à-vis moral dilemmas, as well as the possibility of legal solutions to constitutional conflicts.
In this paper I propose a way of characterizing human agency in terms of the concept of a two-way power. I outline this conception of agency, defend it against some objections, and briefly indicate how it relates to free agency and to moral praise- and blameworthiness.
George Rupp's Beyond Existentialism and Zen, in its typological-structural analysis and model of religious pluralism, proffers an alternative to the dominant Kantian models (e.g., by John Hicks and Sarvepalli Radhakrish- nan). The question for Rupp is not which religion is true and how to decide that issue-answered in the Kantian approach in terms of an unknowable Ding an sich that all religions, albeit imperfectly, try to approximate or conceptualize (i.e., God or the Transcendent)-but rather how do religions represent, at least (...) in principle, a structural possibility for salvation or human flourishing, however different and incompatible their distinct prima facie truth claims might be. Although the potential for a radically relativistic model is implicit in Rupp's approach, it is argued here that his Hegelian assumptions lead him to accept relativism only in a provisional ("critical") way; for Rupp, under ideal epistemic conditions (e.g., the Peircian "end of inquiry"), one final conceptualization of ultimate reality will emerge as absolute truth. In the final part of this essay a version of the relativistic model implicit in Rupp's approach is defended against both the Kantian model of Hicks et al. and Rupp's Hegelian-Peircian model, which, it is argued, is incompatible certainly with the spirit of his own typological-structural analysis, if not with the letter. In challenging what Rupp calls the truth of Zen, it is further argued that not only is more than one salvific structural possibility available to us through the different world religions but also that realizing these possibilities is principally a human responsibility, and that the cosmos is quite indifferent to and compatible with several possibilities, from the most destructive to the most conducive to human well-being and flourishing. (shrink)
The idea of narrative has been widely discussed in the recent health care literature, including nursing, and has been portrayed as a resource for both clinical work and research studies. However, the use of the term 'narrative' is inconsistent, and various assumptions are made about the nature (and functions) of narrative: narrative as a naive account of events; narrative as the source of 'subjective truth'; narrative as intrinsically fictional; and narrative as a mode of explanation. All these assumptions have left (...) their mark on the nursing literature, and all of them (in our view) are misconceived. Here, we argue that a failure to distinguish between 'narrative' and 'story' is partly responsible for these misconceptions, and we offer an analysis that shows why the distinction between them is essential. In doing so, we borrow the concept of 'narrativity' from literary criticism. Narrativity is something that a text has degrees of, and our proposal is that the elements of narrativity can be 'sorted' roughly into a continuum, at the 'high narrativity' end of which we find 'story'. On our account, 'story' is an interweaving of plot and character, whose organization is designed to elicit a certain emotional response from the reader, while 'narrative' refers to the sequence of events and the (claimed) causal connections between them. We suggest that it is important not to confuse the emotional persuasiveness of the 'story' with the objective accuracy of the 'narrative', and to this end we recommend what might be called 'narrative vigilance'. There is nothing intrinsically authentic, or sacrosanct, or emancipatory, or paradigmatic about narrative itself, even though the recent health care literature has had a marked tendency to romanticize it. (shrink)
This paper presents a restructured set of axioms for categorical logic. In virtue of it, the syllogistic with indefinite terms is deduced and proved, within the categorical logic boundaries. As a result, the number of all the conclusive syllogisms is deduced through a simple and axiomatic methodology. Moreover, the distinction between immediate and mediate inferences disappears, which reinstitutes the unity of Aristotelian logic.
Comienzo este artículo mostrando que las teorías neohumeanas de la causalidad probabilista basadas en la noción de relevancia estadlstica (como la teoria de Suppes, 1970) se encuentran con múltiples e insuperables dificultades. Luego analizo brevemente algunas versiones de la causalidad probabilista que relativizan o prescinden de dicha noción: la de Cartwright, que postula la existencia de capacidades causales, y las de Salmon y Dowe, quienes, aunque se proponen no abandonar el suelo humeano, creen necesario introducir una ontología de propensiones. Y (...) concluyo que el análisis de estas versiones demuestra que la causalidad probabilista constituye un nuevo y serio obstáculo para el enfoque humeano o neohumeano de la causalidad.In this paper I first show that the neohumean theories of probabilistic causality based on the notion of statistical relevance (as that of Suppes, 1970) run into many and unsolvable difficulties. Then I briefty analyze some accounts of probabilistic causality which relativize or avoid this notion: the Cartwright’s account, claiming the existence of causal capacities, and those of Salmon and Dowe, though trying to remain on a Humean ground, believe that the introduction of an ontology of propensities is required. I finally conclude that the analysis of these accounts shows that probabilistic causality constitutes a new and serious obstacle to the Humean or neohumean view of causality. (shrink)
The genesis of Feynman's original approach to QED is reviewed. The main ideas of his original presentation at the Pocono Conference are discussed and compared with the ones involved in his action-at-distance formulation of classical electrodynamics. The role of the de Sitter group in Feynman's visualization of space-time processes is emphasized.
Ce texte propose une analyse des mécanismes argumentatifs mis en œuvre dans les lettres que Hernán Cortés, conquistador du Mexique, a adressées à Charles V (Cartas de Relación) pour légitimer sa conquête du territoire qui deviendra la Nouvelle Espagne et, par ce biais, le Nouveau Monde. Il s’agit en particulier de montrer l’emploi du concept rhétorique d’inventio dans le passage d’une appropriation conceptuelle du « Nouveau Monde » (par l’élaboration de ce concept) à sa domination territoriale (la fondation de Veracruz (...) et la création de la Nouvelle Espagne). (shrink)
Dans le présent article, il s’agit de reconsidérer le rapport entre pyrrhonisme et scepticisme académicien dans Les Essais de Montaigne, en posant l’hypothèse que le philosophe aurait, dès le début de sa réflexion, perçu ces deux tendances sceptiques comme des philosophies très proches, voire compatibles, malgré leurs divergences importantes. Son intérêt croissant pour les Academica de Cicéron, dans les versions postérieures des Essais, le conduirait donc non seulement à transformer son propre scepticisme (qu’il découvre de plus en plus proche de (...) celui de Cicéron), mais aussi à affiner son jugement sur les rapports entre les deux philosophies. En conclusion, l’article évoque brièvement ce qu’apportent ces éléments dans la perspective d’une nouvelle vision des relations entre Montaigne et Cicéron. (shrink)
O objetivo deste artigo é examinar como Montaigne retoma, na sua crítica das filosofias morais e, especialmente, da existência de leis naturais, a proposta por Sexto Empírico acerca do mesmo tema ao final das Hipotiposes Pirronianas. Pretendo mostrar que, para além das consideráveis similaridades, o modo como Montaigne relaciona razão, natureza e costume, confere um perfil próprio à sua reconstrução do pirronismo, particularmente visível na sua compreensão da oposição entre critério de verdade e critério de ação. Igualmente, sustento que essa (...) distinção, proveniente do pirronismo, ocupará um lugar central na sua reflexão moral. The aim of this paper is to investigate how Montaigne adopts, in his own discussion of moral philosophies (and, in particular, of the proponents of natural laws), Sextus Empiricus' criticism on the same topic, as exposed in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism. I want to show that, besides the deep similarities we can find between them, Montaigne's peculiarities show themselves throughout his way of dealing with relations between reason, costume and nature, as well as in his interpretation of the opposition between a criterion of truth and a practical criterion. I maintain also that this Pyrrhonism notion occupies a prominent place in his moral reflections. (shrink)