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)
Patricia Williams made a number of claims concerning the methods and practise of cladistic analysis and classification. Her argument rests upon the distinction of two kinds of hierarchy: a divisional hierarchy depicting evolutionary descent and the Linnean hierarchy describing taxonomic groups in a classification. Williams goes on to outline five problems with cladistics that lead her to the conclusion that systematists should eliminate cladism as a school of biological taxonomy and to replace it either with something that is (...) philosophically coherent or to replace it with pure methodology, untainted by theory (Williams 1992, 151). Williams makes a number of points which she feels collectively add up to insurmountable problems for cladistics. We examine Williams' views concerning the two hierarchies and consider what cladists currently understand about the status of ancestors. We will demonstrate that Williams has seriously misunderstood many modern commentators on this subject and all of her five persistent problems are derivable from this misunderstanding. Some persons believe and argue, on grounds approaching faith it seems to me, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of evolution. Others have found to their surprise, and sometimes dismay, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of systematics. Nelson (1989, 67). (shrink)
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)
Legal and ethical issues involved in group work are reviewed and discussed. Variations in different professional ethics codes are discussed. Recommendations for consideration by group leaders are made.
The galvanising purpose of Federation was the creation of the Commonwealth and the distribution of power between it and the former colonies, simultaneously elevated to Statehood. But beyond this simple fact, consensus about Australian federalism has traditionally been elusive and is, if anything, only increasingly so. While the contemporary political debate over federal reform proceeds from a shared sense that our existing arrangements have manifest shortcomings, there is far from unanimity as to which of its particular features are strengths, and (...) which are deficiencies. The structure of this paper is as follows. In Part II, the range of understandings as to the character of the federal relationship between Australian governments is canvassed. Consideration is given to the views of the Constitution’s Framers and commentators, but most centrally to members of the High Court since these have brought about great change in federal arrangements. The significance of the Court’s marked preference for adhering only to constitutional structure and its inability or unwillingness to develop ‘a federal jurisprudence’ is examined in two respects. First, the effect of the Court’s arid Engineers’ Case methodology has been to reject any suggestion that fidelity to a concept of ‘federal balance’ is consistent with both the contents and purpose of the Constitution and also the principles of divided government. Particular consideration is given to the limitations of a commitment to federalism in only a structural sense, as revealed by the judicial reasons of the majority and dissenting judges in the recent case of New South Wales v Commonwealth. Second, the tension between competing assumptions of the kind of federal system established by the Commonwealth Constitution has produced an unstable and uncertain environment for the development of cooperative schemes between the Commonwealth and States. In Part III we consider how an attempt to ‘constitutionalise’ the relationship between the tiers of government as one underpinned by cooperation and respect would impact on the Court’s approach. Drawing on foreign constitutions, and adapting these in light of Australia’s politico-legal conditions and history, we suggest how a commitment to cooperative federalism might best be shaped for possible inclusion in the Commonwealth Constitution. (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.
(2013). The “Difficult Patient” Conundrum in Sickle Cell Disease in Kenya: Complex Sociopolitical Problems Need Wide Multidimensional Solutions. The American Journal of Bioethics: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 20-22. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2013.767960.
Central to discussion of supervaluationist accounts of vagueness is the extent to which they require revisions of classical logic and if so, whether those revisions are objectionable. In an important recent Journal of Philosophy article, J.R.G. Williams presents a powerful challenge to the orthodox view that supervaluationism is objectionably revisionary. Williams argues both that supervaluationism is non-revisionary and that even if it were, those revisions would be unobjectionable. This note shows that his arguments for both claims fail.
When a person gives up an end of crucial importance to her in order to promote a moral aim, we regard her as having made a moral sacrifice. The paper analyzes these sacrifices in light of some of Bernard Williams’ objections to Kantian and Utilitarian accounts of them. Williams argues that an implausible consequence of these theories is that that we are expected to sacrifice projects that make our lives worth living and contribute to our integrity. Williams’ (...) arguments about integrity and meaning are shown to be unconvincing when the content of projects is left open. However, a look at his later arguments suggests a reason to be concerned about defensible ethical projects as understood through what he refers to as “the morality system”. The problem for theories of this type turns out to be not merely conflicts between ethical projects and moral demands but making sense of some of the ethically relevant features of these projects. Accommodations to moral theories that leave room for ethical projects may be insufficient to explain such features, for example in cases where agents demand more of themselves than the theories require. Making the theories more demanding is also problematic. Williams’ view about the role ethics plays in our conception of the life we want to lead provides a better account of these cases. (shrink)
This volume is a direct result of a conference held at Princeton University to honor George A. Miller, an extraordinary psychologist. A distinguished panel of speakers from various disciplines -- psychology, philosophy, neuroscience and artificial intelligence -- were challenged to respond to Dr. Miller's query: "What has happened to cognition? In other words, what has the past 30 years contributed to our understanding of the mind? Do we really know anything that wasn't already clear to William James?" Each participant (...) tried to stand back a little from his or her most recent work, but to address the general question from his or her particular standpoint. The chapters in the present volume derive from that occasion. (shrink)
As a response to what I see as the challenge posed by constructivist and narrative pedagogies, this paper seeks to sympathetically reconstruct Bernard Williams' Absolute Conception from the scattered texts in which he briefly sketched it. While ultimately defending the Absolute Conception or something close enough to it, the paper criticizes and distances itself from some aspects of Williams' version, notably his conception of philosophy as insurmountably perspectival. Williams' understanding of perspectival knowledge as contrasted to absolute knowledge (...) is illustrated with the concrete, if fictional case of the Dr Manhattan character from Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009). Adrian Moore's reading, and Hilary Putnam's criticisms of Williams' Absolute Conception are amongst the positions engaged with. (shrink)
George Herbert Mead's early lectures at the University of Chicago are more important to understanding the genesis of his views in social psychology than some commentators, such as Hans Joas, have emphasized. Mead's lecture series "The Evolution of the Psychical Element," preserved through the notes of student H. Heath Bawden, demonstrate his devotion to Hegelianism as a method of thinking and how this influenced his non-reductionistic approach to functional psychology. In addition, Mead's breadth of historical knowledge as well as (...) his commitments in the natural and social sciences are on display here, culminating in the Darwinian observation that human animals only achieve the degree of control they have over their environment by the achievement of social organization. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the Causal Theory of Properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are to (...) be deemed genuine rather than ‘mere-Cambridge’. The intrinsic criterion requires that all genuine properties and relations be intrinsic. Molnar’s S-property argument says that these criteria conflict if one considers extrinsic spatiotemporal properties and relations to contribute causally. In this paper I argue that a solution to the contradiction that Molnar identifies involves a denial of discreteness between objects, leading to a Power Holist perspective and a resulting deflationary account of intrinsicality. -/- Keywords: Shoemaker, Molnar, Holism, genuine properties, powers, Causal Theory of Properties . (shrink)
Philosopher, poet, literary and cultural critic, George Santayana is a principal figure in Classical American Philosophy. His naturalism and emphasis on creative imagination were harbingers of important intellectual turns on both sides of the Atlantic. He was a naturalist before naturalism grew popular; he appreciated multiple perfections before multiculturalism became an issue; he thought of philosophy as literature before it became a theme in American and European scholarly circles; and he managed to naturalize Platonism, update Aristotle, fight off idealisms, (...) and provide a striking and sensitive account of the spiritual life without being a religious believer. His Hispanic heritage, shaded by his sense of being an outsider in America, captures many qualities of American life missed by insiders, and presents views equal to Tocqueville in quality and importance. Beyond philosophy, only Emerson may match his literary production. As a public figure, he appeared on the front cover of Time (3 February 1936), and his autobiography (Persons and Places, 1944) and only novel (The Last Puritan, 1936) were the best-selling books in the United States as Book-of-the-Month Club selections. The novel was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Edmund Wilson ranked Persons and Places among the few first-rate autobiographies, comparing it favorably to Yeats's memoirs, The Education of Henry Adams, and Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Remarkably, Santayana achieved this stature in American thought without being an American citizen. He proudly retained his Spanish citizenship throughout his life. Yet, as he readily admitted, it is as an American that his philosophical and literary corpuses are to be judged. Using contemporary classifications, Santayana is the first and foremost Hispanic-American philosopher. (shrink)
George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), American philosopher and social theorist, is often classed with William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey as one of the most significant figures in classical American pragmatism. Dewey referred to Mead as “a seminal mind of the very first order” (Dewey, 1932, xl). Yet by the middle of the twentieth-century, Mead's prestige was greatest outside of professional philosophical circles. He is considered by many to be the father of the school of Symbolic Interactionism in (...) sociology and social psychology, although he did not use this nomenclature. Perhaps Mead's principal influence in philosophical circles occurred as a result of his friendship with John Dewey. There is little question that Mead and Dewey had an enduring influence on each other, with Mead contributing an original theory of the development of the self through communication. This theory has in recent years played a central role in the work of Jürgen Habermas. While Mead is best known for his work on the nature of the self and intersubjectivity, he also developed a theory of action, and a metaphysics that emphasizes emergence and temporality, in which the past and future are viewed through the lens of the present. Although the extent of Mead's reach is considerable, he never published a monograph. His most famous work, Mind, Self, and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist, was published after his death and is a compilation of student notes and selections from unpublished manuscripts. (shrink)
George A. Olah, Alain Goeppert and G. K. Surya Prakash (eds): Beyond oil and gas: the methanol economy, 2nd updated and enlarged edition Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9141-x Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
This article discusses the work of George Udny Yule in relation to the evolutionary synthesis and the biometric-Mendelian debate. It has generally been claimed that (i.) in 1902, Yule put forth the first account showing that the competing biometric and Mendelian programs could be synthesized. Furthermore, (ii.) the scientific figures who should have been most interested in this thesis (the biometricians W. F. Raphael Weldon and Karl Pearson, and the Mendelian William Bateson) were too blinded by personal animosity towards (...) each other to appreciate Yule's proposal. This essay provides a detailed account of (i.), maintaining that Yule's 1902 proposal is better understood as a reduction, not a synthesis of the two programs. The results of this analysis are then used to evaluate (ii.), where I will instead argue that Bateson and the biometricians had good reasons to avoid endorsing Yule's account. (shrink)
Although the existence of correspondence between George Boole (1815?1864) and William Stanley Jevons (1835?1882) has been known for a long time and part was even published in 1913, it has never been fully noted; in particular, it is not in the recent edition of Jevons's letters and papers. The texts are transcribed here, with indication of their significance. Jevons proposed certain quite radical changes to Boole's system, which Boole did not accept; nevertheless, they were to become well established.
So wohl Campbell als auch Whately sind sehr besorgt um die verschiedenen argumentations Formen zu analisieren, aber nicht in seiner abstrecten Vielfalt, sondern den verschiedenen Ableihungen des gebrauches oder der gegenwärtigen argumentations absicht im Entwurf jedes Arguments. In seiner Analyse haben sie beobachtet, dass die etische Begründung bemerkensmert verschieden als die Wissenschafliche. Beide Verfasser sind damit einverstanden dass es einen grossen Unterschied gibt zwischen: der existenten Prämisse in der Wissenchaftlichen Probe, und zweitens, die Form in der die Prämissen im induktiven (...) (oder moralen) Begründung verbunden sind, wiel in diesen letzten verschaffen die Prämissen getrennter Wiese eine Kosistenz auf dem Abschluss, aber sie müsen zusammen bleiben damit der Abschluss beweisbarer ist. Dieser Unterschied zwischen den art die Wharheit oder probabilität zwischen Wissenschaft und Humanität zu erzeugen, ist eines der grossen Themen der Philosophie aber das hermeneutische Paradigma zweifalt über die wissenschaftliche Folgerung, sind die Prämissen nicht doch der gleichen art vorgestellt, wer weiss, mit einer gewiss logischen Interdependenz zwischen inhnen und eine extralogische argumentative last die sie verbindet dem Anlass die Schlussfolgenung konsistente zu machen. (shrink)
Ever since the publication of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, a book for the lay reader that popularized the ideas of influential evolutionary biologists like William Hamilton and GeorgeWilliams, there has been much discussion of so-called "universal Darwinism". Dawkins' dual aim was to reduce evolutionary phenomena to the level of the gene, while at the same time abstracting the Darwinian process of natural selection of "replicators" and making it into something that would apply beyond the domain of (...) biology. (shrink)
This paper shows how the last twenty-five years of vocal human Darwinism (human sociobiology and evolutionary psychology) directly rejects the ‘selfish gene’ theory it is supposedly based upon. ‘Evangelistic sociobiology’, as Dawkins has called it, argues that humans evolved to be ‘the altruistic ape’. Using selfish gene theory this paper shows that we are born just another selfish ape. Given the ‘gross immorality’ (GeorgeWilliams) of natural selection, one implication is that modern genetics has yet to face up (...) to our true genetic code. The ultimate conclusion of this paper is that culture makes civilisation possible because it overwrites, or ‘manipulates’, our genetic heritage. We are born ape, but made human. (shrink)
The core of George Orwell’s novel 1984 is a debate—if the verbal and intellectual component of an extended episode of brainwashing can properly be said to constitute a debate—, the debate between Winston Smith and O’Brien in the cells of the Ministry of Love. It is natural to read this debate as a debate between a realist (as regards the nature of truth) and an anti-realist. I offer a few representative passages from the book that demonstrate, I believe, that (...) if this is not the only possible way to understand the debate, it is one very natural way. I begin with some thoughts that passed through Winston’s mind as he was writing in his diary long before his arrest. (shrink)
What I have tried to do is elicit and disarm the motivations most likely to give rise to the [counterexamples to the principle crucial to Williams' argument]. Only one of these motivations is still viable: the instrumentalist theory of practical reasoning. But because internalism and instrumentalism are, as it has turned out, so very tightly linked, in disarming the motivations for the objection, I have also inventoried, and given reason to reject, what I have found to be the most (...) common conversationally adduced defences of instrumentalism: the appeals to imagination, to dispositional desires, and so on. The issue remaining from the debate over internalism turns out to be whether [instrumentalism is false---i.e. whether] there are patterns of practical inference that are not directed toward the satisfaction of desire. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is a sceptic about the objectivity of moral value, embracing instead a qualified moral relativism—the ‘relativism of distance’. His attitude to blame too is in part sceptical (he thought it often involved a certain ‘fantasy’). I will argue that the relativism of distance is unconvincing, even incoherent; but also that it is detachable from the rest of Williams's moral philosophy. I will then go on to propose an entirely localized thesis I call the relativism of blame, (...) which says that when an agent's moral shortcomings by our lights are a matter of their living according to the moral thinking of their day, judgements of blame are out of order. Finally, I will propose a form of moral judgement we may sometimes quite properly direct towards historically distant agents when blame is inappropriate—moral-epistemic disappointment. Together these two proposals may help release us from the grip of the idea that moral appraisal always involves the potential applicability of blame, and so from a key source of the relativist idea that moral appraisal is inappropriate over distance. (shrink)
In ‘Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline,’ Williams is mistaken in thinking that I accused him of thinking that that we can describe the world ‘as it is anyway’ without using concepts. Our real disagreement is over whether it makes sense to think that the concepts of physics do this. The central issue is this: the notion of ‘absoluteness’ is defined using at least one semantical notion (‘convergence’). If Williams' view is to work, I argue, at least one semantical (...) notion needs to be absolute. But Williams himself concedes that semantical notions cannot be reduced to physical ones, and the ‘absolute conception’ is supposed to be given in terms of primary qualities alone. (shrink)
In his recent book, In Praise of Blame, George Sher argues (among other things) that a bad act can reflect negatively on a person if that act results in an appropriate way from that person's "character," and defends a novel "two-tiered" account of what it is to blame someone. In these brief comments, I raise some questions and doubts about each of these aspects of his rich and thought-provoking account.
In this essay I consider the argument that Bernard Williams advances in ‘The Makropolus Case’ for the meaninglessness of immortality. I also consider various counter-arguments. I suggest that the more clearly these counter-arguments are targeted at the spirit of Williams's argument, rather than at its letter, the less clearly they pose a threat to it. I then turn to Nietzsche, whose views about the eternal recurrence might appear to make him an opponent of Williams. I argue that, (...) properly interpreted, these views in fact make him an ally. (shrink)
This early essay of Spencer's was originally published anonymously in The Leader for March 20 1852. It was the second contribution in a regular series entitled "The Haythorne Papers". Spencer's identity was revealed some while after. It is reproduced in Herbert Spencer, Essays Scientific, Political & Speculative, Williams and Norgate (3 vols 1891) pp.1 7]; and here in full. David Clifford, Ph.D., Cambridge University, prepared the html text in 1997; George P. Landow reformatted it in 2008.
Practical philosophy and ethics -- Practical tortise raising -- Truth, beauty, and goodness -- Dilemmas: dithering, plumping, and grief -- Group minds and expressive harm -- Trust, cooperation, and human psychology -- Must we weep for sentimentalism? -- Through thick and thin -- Perspectives, fictions, errors, play -- The steps from doing to saying -- Success semantics -- Wittgenstein's irrealism -- Circles, finks, smells, and biconditionals -- The absolute conception: Putnam vs. Williams -- Julius Caesar and George Berkeley (...) play leapfrog -- The majesty of reason -- Fiction and conviction. (shrink)
An important shift occurs in Martin Heidegger’s thinking one year after the publication of Being and Time , in the Appendix to the Metaphysical Foundations of Logic . The shift is from his project of fundamental ontology—which provides an existential analysis of human existence on an ontological level—to metontology . Metontology is a neologism that refers to the ontic sphere of human experience and to the regional ontologies that were excluded from Being and Time. It is within metontology, Heidegger states, (...) that “the question of ethics may be raised for the first time.” This paper makes explicit both Heidegger’s argument for metontology , and the relation between metontology and ethics. In examining what he means by “the art of existing,” the paper argues that there is an ethical dimension to Heidegger’s thinking that corresponds to a moderate form of moral particularism. In order to justify this position, a comparative analysis is made between Heidegger, Aristotle, and Bernard Williams. (shrink)
In a recent article, George Sher argues that a realistic conception of human agency, which recognizes the limited extent to which we are conscious of what we do, makes the task of specifying a conception of the kind of control that underwrites ascriptions of moral responsibility much more difficult than is commonly appreciated. Sher suggests that an adequate account of control will not require that agents be conscious of their actions; we are responsible for what we do, in the (...) absence of consciousness, so long as our obliviousness is explained by some subset of the mental states constitutive of the agent. In this response, I argue that Sher is wrong on every count. First, the account of moral responsibility in the absence of consciousness he advocates does not preserve control at all; rather, it ought to be seen as a variety of attributionism (a kind of account of moral responsibility which holds that control is unnecessary for responsibility, so long as the action is reflective of the agent’s real self). Second, I argue that a realistic conception of agency, that recognizes the limited role that consciousness plays in human life, narrows the scope of moral responsibility. We exercise control over our actions only when consciousness has played a direct or indirect role in their production. Moreover, we cannot escape this conclusion by swapping a volitionist account of moral responsibility for an attributionist account: our actions are deeply reflective of our real selves only when consciousness has played a causal role in their production. (shrink)
George H. Mead and Alfred Schutz proposed foundations for an interpretative sociology from opposite standpoints. Mead accepted the objective meaning structure a priori. His problem became therefore the explanation of the individuality and creativity of human actors in his social behavioristic approach. In contrast, Schutz started from the subjective consciousness of an isolated actor as a result of a phenomenological reduction. He was concerned with the problem of explaining the possibility of this isolated actor’s perceiving other actors in their (...) existence, their concreteness, and the motives for their behavior. I treat these two approaches and their associated problems as equally relevant. My evaluation is based on their success in solving their specific problems. The aim is to decide which of the two approaches provides the more adequate foundation for an interpretative sociology. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is one of the most influential figures in recent ethical theory, where he has set a considerable part of the current agenda. In this collection, a distinguished international team of philosophers who have been stimulated by Williams' work give new responses to it. The topics covered include equality, consistency, comparisons between science and ethics, integrity, moral reasons, the moral system, and moral knowledge. Williams himself then provides a substantial reply, which in turn shows both the (...) current directions of his own thought and also his present view of his earlier work (such as that on utilitarianism). (shrink)
: A central component of Bernard Williams' political realism is the articulation of a standard of legitimacy from within politics itself: LEG. This standard is presented as basic, inherent in all political orders and the best way to underwrite fundamental liberal principles particular to the modern state, including basic human rights. It does not require, according to Williams, a wider set of liberal values. In the following, I show that where Williams restricts LEG to generating only minimal (...) political protections, seeking to isolate his account of political legitimacy from a range of liberal principles, this is neither internal to, nor necessarily demanded by, the specifically political account of LEG. Instead, the limitation depends upon his wider ethical thought. (shrink)
George Engel designed his biopsychosocial model to be a broad framework for medicine and psychiatry. Although the model met with great initial success, it now needs conceptual attention to make it relevant for future generations. Engel articulated the model as a version of biological systems theory, but his work is better interpreted as the beginnings of a richly nuanced philosophy of medicine. We can make this reinterpretation by connecting Engel’s work with the tradition of American pragmatism. Engel initiates inquiry (...) like a pragmatist, he understands theory and philosophy like a pragmatist, he justifies beliefs like a pragmatist, and he understands the world like a pragmatist. By drawing out these similarities, medical and psychiatric scholars can revitalize the biopsychosocial model, and they can open medicine and psychiatry to a rich philosophic heritage and a flourishing interdisciplinary tradition. (shrink)
Two decades ago, the eminent evolutionary biologist George C. Williams and his physician coauthor, Randolph Nesse, formulated the evolutionary medicine research program. Williams and Nesse explicitly made adaptationism a core component of the new program, which has served to undermine the program ever since, distorting its practitioners’ perceptions of evidentiary burdens and in extreme cases has served to warp practitioner’s understandings of the relationship between evolutionary benefits/detriments and medical ones. I show that the Williams and Nesse (...) program more particularly embraces the panselectionist variety of adaptationism (the empirical assumption that non-adaptive evolutionary processes are causally unimportant compared to natural selection), and argue that this has harmed the field. Panselectionism serves to conceal the enormous evidentiary hurdles that evolutionary medicine hypotheses face, making them appear stronger than they are. I use two examples of evolutionary medicine texts, on neonatal jaundice and on asthma, to show that some evolutionary medicine practitioners have allowed their fervent panselectionism to directly shape their recommendations for clinical practice. I argue that this escalation of panselectionism’s influence is inappropriate under Williams’ and Nesse original stated standards, despite being inspired by their program. I also show that the examples’ conflation of clinical and evolutionary considerations is inappropriate even under Christopher Boorse’s controversial evolution-rooted concepts of disease and health. (shrink)
In the mid-nineteenth century George Boole formulated his ‘conditions of possible experience’. These are equations and ineqaulities that the relative frequencies of (logically connected) events must satisfy. Some of Boole's conditions have been rediscovered in more recent years by physicists, including Bell inequalities, Clauser Horne inequalities, and many others. In this paper, the nature of Boole's conditions and their relation to propositional logic is explained, and the puzzle associated with their violation by quantum frequencies is investigated in relation to (...) a variety of approaches to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. * While preparing this paper for publication I have learnt of the untimely death of Professor J. S. Bell, and I wish to dedicate the paper to his memory. This research was undertaken while I spent a sabbatical leave at Wolfson College, and the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Cambridge. I would like to thank Michael Redhead and Jeremy Butterfield for their hospitality and for helpful discussions. A first draft of this paper has been distributed among the participants of the conference 'Einstein in Context' which was held in Israel, in April 1990.1 have benefited from the comments of many colleagues. I would like to thank in particular Arthur Fine who enlightened me on the prism models, David Albert. Maya Bar-Hillel. Yemima Ben-Menachem, Mara Beller. Simon Saunders, and Mark Steiner. This research is partially supported by the Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science at the Hebrew University. (shrink)
George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, was one of the great philosophers of the early modern period. He was a brilliant critic of his predecessors, particularly Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke. He was a talented metaphysician famous for defending idealism, that is, the view that reality consists exclusively of minds and their ideas. Berkeley's system, while it strikes many as counter intuitive, is strong and flexible enough to counter most objections. His most studied works, the Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human (...) Knowledge Principles, for short) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous Dialogues), are beautifully written and dense with the sort of arguments that delight contemporary philosophers. He was also a wide ranging thinker with interests in religion (which were fundamental to his philosophical motivations), the psychology of vision, mathematics, physics, morals, economics, and medicine. Although many of Berkeley's first readers greeted him with incomprehension, he influenced both Hume and Kant, and is much read (if little followed) in our own day. (shrink)
Michael Williams believes that scepticism about the externalworld seems compelling only because the considerations that underpin it are thoughtto be ``mere platitudes'''' about e.g., the nature and source of human knowledge, and hence,that if it shown through a ``theoretical diagnosis'''' that it does not rest upon suchplatitudes, but contentious theoretical considerations that we are no means bound toaccept, we can simply dismiss the absurd sceptical conclusion. Williams argues thatscepticism does presuppose two extremely contentious doctrines, however, he (...) admits thatif these doctrines are themselves motivated by ``platitudes'''' then scepticism follows. Iaddress Williams''s arguments for thinking scepticism must presuppose these doctrines,and argue that he overlooks a way that they can be seen as motivated by mere platitudes.Thus, I conclude that William''s novel rejection of scepticism fails. (shrink)
Nativists about syntactic processing have argued that linguisticprocessing, understood as the implementation of a rule-basedcomputational architecture, is spared in Williams syndrome, (WMS)subjects – and hence that it provides evidence for a geneticallyspecified language module. This argument is bolstered by treatingSpecific Language Impairments (SLI) and WMS as a developmental doubledissociation which identifies a syntax module. Neuroconstructivists haveargued that the cognitive deficits of a developmental disorder cannot beadequately distinguished using the standard gross behavioural tests ofneuropsychology and that the linguistic abilities of (...) the WMS subject canbe equally well explained by a constructivist strategy of neurallearning in the individual, with linguisitic functions implemented in anassociationist architecture. The neuroconstructivist interpretation ofWMS undermines the hypothesis of a double dissociation between SLI andWMS, leaving unresolved the question of nativism about syntax. Theapparent linguistic virtuosity of WMS subjects is an artefact ofenhanced phonological processing, a fact which is easier to demonstratevia the associationist computational model embraced byneuroconstructivism. (shrink)
Georgius Trapezuntius Cretensis (or George of Trebizond) (1396-1472), an eminent humanist scholar who immigrated to Italy from Crete, is well appreciated for his translations, commentaries and treatises on philosophy, rhetoric and science. While there is a good deal of scholarship on Byzantine scholars in the Italian Renaissance, the topic of their contribution to mathematics and science in general has not to date been thoroughly addressed. This paper purports to fill this lacuna. On the basis of major evidence, I will (...) attempt to show the way Trapezuntius treated mathematics and physical sciences in order to serve his personal goals in the mid 15th century. (shrink)
George Berkeley notoriously claimed that his immaterialist metaphysics was not only consistent with common sense but that it was also integral to its defense. Roberts argues that understanding the basic connection between Berkeley's philosophy and common sense requires that we develop a better understanding of the four principle components of Berkeley's positive metaphysics: The nature of being, the divine language thesis, the active/passive distinction, and the nature of spirits. Roberts begins by focusing on Berkeley's view of the nature of (...) being. He elucidates Berkeley's view on Locke and the Cartesians and by examining Berkeley's views about related concepts such as unity and simplicity. From there he moves on to Berkeley's philosophy of language arguing that scrutiny of the famous "Introduction" to the Principles of Human Knowledge reveals that Berkeley identified the ideational theory of meaning and understanding as the root cause of some of the worst of man's intellectual errors, not "abstract ideas." Abstract ideas are, rather, the most debilitating symptom of this underlying ailment. In place of the ideational theory, Berkeley defends a rudimentary "use theory" of meaning. This understanding of Berkeley's approach to semantics is then applied to the divine language thesis and is shown to have important consequences for Berkeley's pragmatic approach to the ontology of natural objects and for his approach to our knowledge of, and relation to other minds, including God's. Turning next to Berkeley's much aligned account of spirits, the author defends the coherence of Berkeley's view of spirits by way of providing an interpretation of the active/passive distinction as marking a normative distinction and by focusing on the role that divine language plays in letting Berkeley identify the soul with the will. With these four principles of Berkeley's philosophy in hand, he then returns to the topic of common sense and offers a defense of Berkeley's philosophy as built upon and expressive of the deepest metaphysical commitments of mainstream Christianity. Roberts' reappraisal of this important figure should appeal to all historians of philosophy as well as scholars in metaphysics and philosophy of language. (shrink)
In this article, the cosmological positions of George of Trebizond are regrouped and an attempt to evaluate his offer to the philosophy of nature in the Renaissance is presented. George of Trepizond dedicated a huge part of his work to the philosophical and scientific study of the world; he also renewed the way the Greek letters are studied and used.
The author examines Williams' appraisal of Collingwood both in his eponymous essay on Collingwood, in the posthumously published Sense of the Past (2006), and elsewhere in his work. The similarities and differences between their philosophies are explored: in particular, with regard to the relationship between philosophy and history and the relationship between the study of history and our present-day moral attitudes. It is argued that, despite Williams usually being classified as an analytic philosopher and Collingwood being classified as (...) an idealist, there is substantial common ground between them. Williams was aware of this and made clear his sympathy for Collingwood; but, nonetheless, the relationship between Williams and Collingwood has not previously been explored in any detail. After establishing the common ground between these philosophers, and the areas of disagreement, the author suggests that both may have something to gain from the other. (shrink)
I am grateful that someone whose work I greatly admire could be the philosopher to so eloquently and succinctly cut to the heart of the problem that I posed in the previous issue of Deleuze Studies. James Williams' critical reply leaves me, prima facie, confronted by a stark alternative: either I have misunderstood Deleuze, or I have illustrated problems and lacunae in Deleuze. I will suggest, however, that this is a false alternative, and that Williams' and my divergent (...) accounts of The Logic of Sense – and even Deleuze's oeuvre as a whole – is better understood as a situation of ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’, and hence that my interpretation of Deleuze isn't wrong, but necessarily iconoclastic. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the Causal Theory of Properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are to (...) be deemed genuine rather than ‘mere-Cambridge’. The intrinsic criterion requires that all genuine properties and relations be intrinsic. Molnar’s S-property argument says that these criteria conflict if one considers extrinsic spatiotemporal properties and relations to contribute causally. In this paper I argue that a solution to the contradiction that Molnar identifies involves a denial of discreteness between objects, leading to a Power Holist perspective and a resulting deflationary account of intrinsicality. (shrink)
Recently, Clifford Williams has attempted to argue for the plausibility of a Christian form of physicalism. To make his case, Williams appropriates certain claims by John Locke regarding the possibility of thinking matter to argue for what Williams calls the parity theses: (1) God can make matter and nonmatter either to think or not to think. Given God's omnipotence, the justification for (1) is: (2) there is no contradiction in asserting either that matter or nonmatter thinks or (...) that they do not think. If we expand thinking to include other morally and religiously relevant operations of the mind, then we get: (3) God can make either a purely material being or a nonmaterial entity to have moral and religious characteristics. From this, Williams infers that: (4) there is an equal amount of mystery in thinking matter as there is in non-thinking matter. In response to Williams, I argue that his main arguments for the parity theses fail and his Lockean style argument must be judged a failure. To show this I, first, state Williams' Lockean parity argument and, second, criticize the three arguments he offers for its most important premise. (shrink)
In his new paper, “Eligibility and Inscrutability,” J. R. G. Williams presents a surprising new challenge to David Lewis’ theory of interpretation. Although Williams frames this challenge primarily as a response to Lewis’ criticisms of Putnam’s model-theoretic argument, the challenge itself goes to the heart of Lewis’ own account of interpretation. Further, and leaving Lewis’ project aside for a moment, Williams’ argument highlights some important—and some fairly general—points concerning the relationship between model theory and semantic determinacy.
The author begins with an outline of Bernard William's moral philosophy, within which he locates William's notorious doctrine that reflection can destroy ethical knowledge. He then gives a partial defence of this doctrine, exploiting an analogy between ethical judgements and tensed judgements. The basic idea is that what the passage of time does for the latter, reflection can do for the former: namely, prevent the re-adoption of an abandoned point of view (an ethical point of view in the one case, (...) a temporal point of view in the other). In the final section the author says a little about how reflection might do this. Footnotes1 This essay is derived from a lecture entitled ‘Bernard Williams’, delivered at Oxford University in 2000, in the series ‘Oxford Philosophers on Oxford Philosophers’, organized by Peter Hacker and David Wiggins. I am grateful to those who attended the lecture, and to Bernard Williams, for helpful comments. (shrink)