This small volume points its readers to a simple, broadly agreeable concept that upon further thought offers us the fabled "Archimedes Point": the most grounded, indefinitely durable, immovable hinge to leverage our lives around it. "Unbound Ignorance" is a philosophy that recasts religion, and provides a modern guide to our strategic life decisions, as well as offering daily help vis-à-vis the growing complexities of an ever more crowded, more endangered planet where information technology keeps redefining our possibilities, and limitations, and (...) advanced biology fogs up our sense of identity. (shrink)
Gideon Yaffe’s “subjectivism about attempts” rest on the Transfer Principle: “If a particular form of conduct is legitimately criminalized, then the attempt to engage in that form of conduct is also legitimately criminalized.” From the perspective of a moral concern with culpability, this principle seems to get to the heart of the matter: the true essence of what is wrong with attempting to commit a crime. Unfortunately, Yaffe’s argument for the Transfer Principle is based on an equivocation and therefore (...) logically unsound. The moral core of the Principle is still sound, but we can’t tell from Yaffe’s book how far that principle would take us in the criminal law. (shrink)
In his recent book Attempts, Gideon Yaffe suggests that attempts should be criminalized because of a principle he dubs the “Transfer Principle.” This principle holds that if a particular form of conduct is legitimately criminalized, then the attempt to engage in that form of conduct is also legitimately criminalized. Although Yaffe provides a powerful defense of the Transfer Principle, in this paper I argue that Yaffe’s argument for it ultimately does not succeed. In particular, I formulate two objections to (...) Yaffe’s argument for the Transfer Principle. First, I argue that a basic assumption about criminalization, on which Yaffe’s argument crucially depends, is incomplete, and Yaffe’s own attempt to supplement it undermines his argument for the Transfer Principle. Second, I argue that Yaffe’s argument does not properly account for the fact that those who merely attempt a crime and those who complete it might sometimes be responding to reasons in different ways. Accordingly, I conclude that Yaffe has not succeeded in establishing the truth of the Transfer Principle. (shrink)
Gideon Yaffe presents a ground-breaking work which demonstrates the importance of philosophy of action for the law. Many people are serving sentences not for completing crimes, but for trying to. So the law governing attempted crimes is of practical as well as theoretical importance. Questions arising in the adjudication of attempts intersect with questions in the philosophy of action, such as what intention a person must have, if any, and what a person must do, if anything, to be trying (...) to act. Yaffe offers solutions to the difficult problems courts face in the adjudication of attempted crimes. He argues that the problems courts face admit of principled solution through reflection either on what it is to try to do something; or on what evidence is required for someone to be shown to have tried to do something; or on what sentence for an attempt is fair given the close relation between attempts and completions. The book argues that to try to do something is to be committed by one's intention to each of the components of success and to be guided by those commitments. Recognizing the implications of this simple and plausible position helps us to identify principled grounds on which the courts ought to distinguish between defendants charged with attempted crimes. (shrink)
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U has not (...) been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White . Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen  and Thomas Kelly . Moreover, if Kelly  is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers. (shrink)
Region R Question: How many objects — entities, things — are contained in R? Ignore the empty space. Our question might better be put, 'How many material objects does R contain?' Let's stipulate that A, B and C are metaphysical atoms: absolutely simple entities with no parts whatsoever besides themselves. So you don't have to worry about counting a particle's top half and bottom half as different objects. Perhaps they are 'point-particles', with no length, width or breadth. Perhaps they are (...) extended in space without possessing spatial parts (if that is possible). Never mind. We stipulate that A, B and C are perfectly simple. We also stipulate that they are connected as follows. A and B are stuck together in such a way that when a force is applied to one of them, they move together 'as a unit'. Moreover, the two of them together exhibit behavior that neither would exhibit on its own — Perhaps they emit a certain sound, or glow in the dark — whereas C is.. (shrink)
The article presents Frege's distinction between Sense and Reference. After a short introduction, it explains the puzzle which gave rise to the distinction; Frege's earlier solution, and his reasons for its later repudiation. The distinction, which embodies Frege's second solution, is then discussed in two phases. The first, which is restricted to proper names, sets out its most basic features. The second discusses 'empty' names; indirect speech, and the distinction for predicates and for complete sentences. Finally, two criticisms, by Russell (...) and by Kripke, are briefly set out. (shrink)
According to Parfit, the best version of Kantian ethics takes as its central principle Kantian Contractualism: the thesis that everyone ought to follow the principles whose universal acceptance everyone could rationally will. This paper examines that thesis, identifies a class of annoying counterexamples, and suggests that when Kantian Contractualism is modified in response to these examples, the resulting principle is too complex and ad hoc to serve as the 'supreme principle of morality'.
According to one sort of epistemic relativist, normative epistemic claims (e.g., evidence E justifies hypothesis H) are never true or false simpliciter, but only relative to one or another epistemic system. In chapter 6 of Fear of Knowledge, Paul Boghossian objects to this view on the ground that its central notions cannot be explained, and that it cannot account for the normativity of epistemic discourse. This paper explores how the dogged relativist might respond.
This paper defends the idea that there might be vagueness or indeterminacy in the world itself--as opposed to merely in our representations of the world--against the charges of incoherence and unintelligibility. First we consider the idea that the world might contain vague properties and relations ; we show that this idea is already implied by certain well-understood views concerning the semantics of vague predicates (most notably the fuzzy view). Next we consider the idea that the world might contain vague objects (...) ; we argue that an object is indeterminate in a certain respect (colour, size, etc.) just in case it is a borderline case of a maximally specific colour (size, etc.) property. Finally we consider the idea that the world as a whole might be indeterminate; we argue that the world is indeterminate just in case it lacks a determinate division into determinate objects. (shrink)
When a person acts from ignorance, he is culpable for his action only if he is culpable for the ignorance from which he acts. The paper defends the view that this principle holds, not just for actions done from ordinary factual ignorance, but also for actions done from moral ignorance. The question is raised whether the principle extends to action done from ignorance about what one has most reason to do. It is tentatively proposed that the principle holds in full (...) generality. (shrink)
The Brock-Rosen problem has been one of the most thoroughly discussed objections to the modal fictionalism bruited in Gideon Rosen’s ‘Modal Fictionalism’. But there is a more fundamental problem with modal fictionalism, at least as it is normally explained: the position does not resolve the tension that motivated it. I argue that if we pay attention to a neglected aspect of modal fictionalism, we will see how to resolve this tension—and we will also find a persuasive reply to the (...) Brock-Rosen objection. Finally, I discuss an alternative reading of Rosen, and argue that this position is also able to fend off the Brock-Rosen objection. (shrink)
Unlike the relativistic theses drawn from physics, normative relativisms involve relativization not to frames of reference but to something like our standards, standards that we have to be able to think of ourselves as endorsing or accepting. Th us, moral facts are to be relativized to moral standards and epistemic facts to epistemic standards. But a moral standard in this sense would appear to be just a general moral proposition and an epistemic standard just a general epistemic proposition. Pulling off (...) either relativism, then, requires not just relativizing the facts in the domain in question to the relevant standards; it requires taking a non-absolutist view of the standards themselves. Otherwise a commitment to absolute truths in the domain in question will show up in one’s attitude towards the standards themselves. But it is very hard to see how to take a genuinely non-absolutist attitude towards the standards themselves. That, in essence, is the difficulty for a relativistic view of a normative domain that I tried to develop in Chapter 6 of Fear of Knowledge. In their commentaries, Gideon Rosen and Ram Neta come up with ingenious ways of attempting to circumvent that difficulty. In my reply, I try to explain why I don’t believe they succeed. (shrink)
Platonism in the philosophy of mathematics is the doctrine that there are mathematical objects such as numbers. John Burgess and Gideon Rosen have argued that that there is no good epistemological argument against platonism. They propose a dilemma, claiming that epistemological arguments against platonism either rely on a dubious epistemology, or resemble a dubious sceptical argument concerning perceptual knowledge. Against Burgess and Rosen, I show that an epistemological anti-platonist argument proposed by Hartry Field avoids both horns of their dilemma.
Metaphysics: 5 Questions is a collection of short interviews based on 5 questions presented to some of the most influential and prominent philosophers in the field. We hear their views on metaphysics, the aim, the scope, the future direction of research and how their work fits in these respects. Interviews with Lynne Rudder Baker, Helen Beebee, Thomas Hofweber, Hugh Mellor, Peter Menzies, Stephen Mumford, Daniel Nolan, Eric T.Olson, L. A. Paul, Lorenz B. Puntel, Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gideon Rosen, Jonathan Schaffer, (...) Peter Simons, Barry Smith, Michael Tooley, Peter van Inwagen, Dean Zimmerman. (shrink)
Whether we understand it descriptively or normatively, the slogan that ignorance of the law is no excuse is false. Our legal system sometimes excuses those who are ignorant of the law on those grounds and should. Still, the slogan contains a grain of truth; mistakes of law excuse less readily than mistakes of fact, and ought to. This paper explains the asymmetry by identifying a principle of excuse of the form “If defendant D has a false belief that p and (...) _____, then D is excused”, which has the following feature: it is true frequently when p is a non-legal proposition, but it is false often when p is a proposition about the law. Under this principle of excuse, mistakes excuse by showing the agent to have acceptable commitments for recognizing, weighing, and responding to reasons. Many mistakes of fact show this; they show that the agent’s deliberation led to objectionable action because of faulty inputs and not to fault in the deliberation itself. Mistakes of law, by contrast, frequently indicate that the agent has faulty commitments when it comes to legal reasons; they therefore do not provide excuse under the proposed principle of excuse. It is argued that this explanation of the asymmetry between mistakes of fact and law takes us a great distance towards explaining the relevance of mental state to responsibility, an issue of great importance to moral philosophy. (shrink)
The luck egalitarian view famously maintains that inequalities in individuals’ circumstances are unfair or unjust, whereas inequalities traceable to individuals’ own responsible choices are fair or just. On this basis, the distinction between so-called brute luck and option luck has been seen as central to luck egalitarianism. Luck egalitarianism is interpreted, by advocates and opponents alike, as a view that condemns inequalities in brute luck but permits inequalities in option luck. It is also thought to be expressed in terms of (...) the view that no individual ought to be worse off other than because of a fault or choice of his or her own. I argue that these two characterizations of luck egalitarianism are not equivalent and that, properly understood, luck egalitarianism is compatible with widespread, potentially radical, inequalities in brute luck. (shrink)
Many philosophers of mathematics are attracted by nominalism – the doctrine that there are no sets, numbers, functions, or other mathematical objects. John Burgess and Gideon Rosen have put forward an intriguing argument against nominalism, based on the thought that philosophy cannot overrule internal mathematical and scientific standards of acceptability. I argue that Burgess and Rosen’s argument fails because it relies on a mistaken view of what the standards of mathematics require.
In his book Liberty Worth the Nd?72€,1 Gideon Yaffe has provided an interpretation of Lock:-z's account of moral responsibility according to which it bears important affinities with the views of contemporary theorists Harry lirankfurt and Susan Wolf. On Yaffe’s reading, Locke, like Frankfurt and Wolf separates moral responsibility from the ability to have acted otherwise; like Wolf, Locke associates freedom with the dependency ofone’s choices on the good. I am going to argue that Yaffe’s interpretation of the key passages (...) underlying his interpretation is suspect. We get a very different perspective in trying to interpret the points Locke is trying to make if instead of looking forward to Frankfurt and Wolf we look backward to Aquinas. The first part of this paper will be concerned with an investi~ gation of Loclshrink)
Non-moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one's action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one's beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on (...) which many agents who act wrongly are blameworthy despite believing they are acting morally permissibly, and despite not having mismanaged their moral beliefs.1. (shrink)
The widely held assumption about what motivated On Denoting is irreconcilable with Russell's position shortly beforehand; but discarding it leaves one with a carefully worked out solution whose problem is missing. The real motivation is to be found in a notoriously obscure passage in OD, in which Russell exposes a decisive (though easily overlooked) flaw in his former theory of denoting; a flaw which also cripples Frege's theory of sense and reference. A comprehensive account of this passage is the chief (...) concern of the present paper. Recognizing the critical role of this argument of Russell's leads to a more credible account of his argumentation in that essay. It also suggests that the fundamental standpoint underlyingThe Principles of Mathematics remains intact. In this light, the appropriation of OD to the philosophy of language may be misguided. (shrink)
Gideon Rosen’s [1990 Modal fictionalism. Mind, 99, 327–354] Modal Fictionalist aims to secure the benefits of realism about possible-worlds, whilst avoiding commitment to the existence of any world other than our own. Rosen [1993 A problem for fictionalism about possible worlds. Analysis, 53, 71–81] and Stuart Brock [1993 Modal fictionalism: A response to Rosen. Mind, 102, 147–150] both argue that fictionalism is self-defeating since the fictionalist is tacitly committed to the existence of a plurality of worlds. In this paper, (...) I develop a new strategy for the fictionalist to pursue in response to the Brock–Rosen objection. I begin by arguing that modal fictionalism is best understood as a paraphrase strategy that concerns the propositions that are expressed, in a given context, by modal sentences. I go on to argue that what is interesting about paraphrastic fictionalism is that it allows the fictionalist to accept that the sentence ‘there is a plurality of worlds’ is true without thereby committing her to the existence of a plurality of worlds. I then argue that the paraphrastic fictionalist can appeal to a form of semantic contextualism in order to communicate her status as an anti-realist. Finally, I generalise my conception of fictionalism and argue that Daniel Nolan and John O’Leary-Hawthorne [1996 Reflexive fictionalisms. Analysis, 56, 26–32] are wrong to suggest that the Brock-Rosen objection reveals a structural flaw with all species of fictionalism. (shrink)
Metaphysicians of Meaning is the first book to challenge the accepted understanding of Russell's On Denoting and Frege's On Sense and Reference . Makin compares the work Russell did shortly before his famous essay "On Denoting" with the essay itself and argues that this comparison shows that the traditional view of the problem Russell was trying to solve is untenable. He then examines Frege's classic essay and argues that some of the less well-known views that Frege held have radical implications (...) for our understanding of this essay. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- 1. The Value of Vagueness, Timothy Endicott -- 2. Vagueness and the Guidance of Action, Jeremy Waldron -- 3. What Vagueness and Inconsistency tell us about Interpretation, Scott Soames -- 4. Textualism and the Discovery of Rights, John Perry -- 5. The Intentionalism of Textualism, Stephen Neale -- 6. Can the Law Imply More than It Says? On some pragmatic aspects of Strategic Speech, Andrei Marmor -- 7. Modeling Legal Rules, Richard Holton -- 8. Trying (...) to Kill the Dead: De Dicto and De Re Intention in Attempted Crimes, Gideon Yaffe -- 9. Philosophy of Language and the Law of Contracts, Gideon Rosen -- 10. Language and Law: Who's in Charge?, Mark Greenberg -- 11. Meaning and Impact, Nicos Stavropoulos. (shrink)
The literature on thought experiments has been mainly concernedwith thought experiments that are directed at a theory, be it in aconstructive or a destructive manner. This has led somephilosophers to argue that all thought experiments can beformulated as arguments. The aim of this paper is to drawattention to a type of thought experiment that is not directed ata theory, but fulfills a specific function within a theory. Suchthought experiments are referred to as functional thoughtexperiments, and they are routinely used in (...) applied statistics. An example is given from frequentist statistics, where a thoughtexperiment is required to establish the probability space. It isconcluded that (a) not all thought experiments can be formulated asarguments, and (b) the role of thought experiments is more generaland more important to scientific reasoning than has previouslybeen recognized. (shrink)
Highlighting early modern medicine's program of explanation and intervention, I claim that there are two distinctive features of the physician's naturalism. These are, first, an explicit recognition that each patient had her own individual and highly particularized nature and, second, a self-conscious use of normative descriptions when characterizing a patient's nature as healthy (ordered) or unhealthy (disordered). I go on to maintain that in spite of the well documented Cartesian rejection of Aristotelian natures in favor of laws of nature, Descartes (...) and his most important medical disciple accepted both features of the physician's naturalism where human medicine was concerned. Thus, in this article I critically engage with standard portraits of Cartesianism and naturalism by integrating the histories of science, medicine and philosophy, but especially medicine and philosophy. (shrink)
In his recent book, "The Metaphysicians of Meaning" (2000), Gideon Makin argues that in the so-called "Gray's Elegy" argument (the GEA) in "On Denoting", Russell provides decisive arguments against not only his own theory of denoting concepts but also Frege's theory of sense. I argue that by failing to recognize fundamental differences between the two theories, Makin fails to recognize that the GEA has less force against Frege's theory than against Russell's own earlier theory. While I agree with many (...) aspects of Makin's interpretation of the GEA, I differ with him regarding some significant details and present an interpretation according to which the GEA emerges as simpler, stronger, and more integrated. (shrink)
Abstract: In this paper I consider recent attempts to establish that the geometry of visual experience is a spherical geometry. These attempts, offered by Gideon Yaffe, James van Cleve and Gordon Belot, follow Thomas Reid in arguing for an equivalency of a geometry of ‘visibles’ and spherical geometry. I argue that although the proposed equivalency is successfully established by the strongest form of the argument, this does not warrant any conclusion about the geometry of visual experience. I argue, firstly, (...) that the resistance of this contemporary argument to empirical considerations counts against its plausibility. Moreover, I argue that the contemporary approach provides no compelling reason for supposing that the geometry offered as the geometry of ‘visibles’ is the correct geometrical description of visual experience. (shrink)
Benjamin Libet, Do we have free will? -- Adina L. Roskies, Why Libet's studies don't pose a threat to free will? -- Alfred r. mele, libet on free will : readiness potentials, decisions, and awareness? -- Susan Pockett and Suzanne Purdy, Are voluntary movements initiated preconsciously? : the relationships between readiness potentials, urges, and decisions? -- William P. Banks and Eve A. Isham, Do we really know what we are doing? : implications of reported time of decision for theories of (...) volition? -- Elisabeth Pacherie and Patrick Haggard, What are intentions? -- Mark Hallett, Volition : how physiology speaks to the issue of responsibility? -- John-Dylan Haynes, Beyond Libet : long-term prediction of free choices from neuroimaging signals? -- F. Carota, M. Desmurget, and A. Sirigu, Forward modeling mediates motor awareness? -- Tashina Graves, Brian Maniscalco, and Hakwan Lau, Volition and the function of consciousness? -- Deborah Talmi and Chris D. Frith, Neuroscience, free will, and responsibility? -- Jeffrey P. Ebert and Daniel M. Wegner, Bending time to one's will? -- Thalia Wheatley and Christine Looser, Prospective codes fulfilled : a potential neural mechanism of the will? -- Terry Horgan, The phenomenology of agency and the libet results? -- Thomas Nadelhoffer, The threat of shrinking agency and free will disillusionism? -- Gideon Yaffe, Libet and the criminal law's voluntary act requirement? -- Larry Alexander, Criminal and moral responsibility and the libet experiments? -- Michael S. Moore, Libet's challenge(s) to responsible agency? -- Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lessons from Libet?. (shrink)
Hermeneutic fictionalism about mathematics maintains that mathematics is not committed to the existence of abstract objects such as numbers. Mathematical sentences are true, but they should not be construed literally. Numbers are just fictions in terms of which we can conveniently describe things which exist. The paper defends Stephen Yablo’s hermeneutic fictionalism against an objection proposed by John Burgess and Gideon Rosen. The objection, directed against all forms of nominalism, goes as follows. Nominalism can take either a hermeneutic form (...) and claim that mathematics, when rightly understood, is not committed to the existence of abstract objects, or a revolutionary form and claim that mathematics is to be understood literally but is false. The hermeneutic version is said to be untenable because there is no philosophically unbiased linguistic argument to show that mathematics should not be understood literally. Against this I argue that it is wrong to demand that hermeneutic fictionalism should be established solely on the basis of linguistic evidence. In addition, there are reasons to think that hermeneutic fictionalism cannot even be defeated by linguistic arguments alone. (shrink)
In the final chapter of their book A Subject With No Object, John Burgess and Gideon Rosen raise the question of the value of the nominalistic reconstructions of mathematics that have been put forward in recent years, asking specifically what this body of work is good for. The authors conclude that these reconstructions are all inferior to current versions of mathematics (or science) and make no advances in science. This paper investigates the reasoning that led to such a negative (...) appraisal, and it produces a rebuttal to this reasoning. I am grateful to the following mathematicians who were kind enough to provide me with their thoughts about nonstandard analysis: Martin Davis, Laura Chihara, Ted Chihara, Steve Galovich, Bonnie Gold, and especially Roger Simons, whose comments about an earlier version of this paper were very helpful. Thanks also go to two referees for their useful suggestions and criticisms of an earlier version of this paper. (shrink)
Manipulation by another person often undermines freedom. To explain this, a distinction is drawn between two forms of manipulation: indoctrination is defined as causing another person to respond to reasons in a pattern that serves the manipulator’s ends; coercion as supplying another person with reasons that, given the pattern in which he responds to reasons, lead him to act in ways that serve the manipulator’s ends. It is argued that both forms of manipulation undermine freedom because manipulators track the compliance (...) of their victims, while neutral causal mechanisms do not. Manipulators see to it that their victims comply even in the face of forces that threaten to derail them from the manipulator’s desired course. It is suggested that this has an impact on freedom because part of what we desire in wanting to be free is the availability of forms of life very different from those we actually enjoy. (shrink)
In a 2005 paper, John Burgess and Gideon Rosen offer a new argument against nominalism in the philosophy of mathematics. The argument proceeds from the thesis that mathematics is part of science, and that core existence theorems in mathematics are both accepted by mathematicians and acceptable by mathematical standards. David Liggins (2007) criticizes the argument on the grounds that no adequate interpretation of “acceptable by mathematical standards” can be given which preserves the soundness of the overall argument. In this (...) discussion I offer a defense of the Burgess-Rosen argument against Liggins’s objection. I show how plausible versions of the argument can be constructed based on either of two interpretations of mathematical acceptability, and I locate the argument in the space of contemporary anti-nominalist views. (shrink)
In what follows I try to show that Spinoza modelled his project of rational psychology, in some of its major respects, upon Descartes's metaphysics of matter. I argue further that, like Descartes, who paid for the rationalization of the science of matter the price of having to leave out of his description non-quantifiable qualities, so Spinoza left out of his psychology the non-rationalizable aspects of emotions, i.e. whatever in them could not be subsumed under common notions. He therefore was left (...) with the cognitive aspects of emotions, keeping outside of his report the inner feeling which accompanies them. Spinoza's psychology, I claim, disregards any non-cognitive aspect of emotions. (shrink)
Possible worlds present a formidable challenge for the lover of desert landscapes. One cannot ignore their usefulness; they provide, as David Lewis puts it, “a philosophers’ paradise”.1 But to enter paradise possibilia must be fit into a believable ontology. Some follow Lewis and accept worlds at face value, but most prefer some other choice from the current menu. Part of Chihara’s book is a critical discussion of some of these menu options: Lewis’s modal realism, Alvin Plantinga’s abstract modal realism, (...) Graeme Forbes’s anti-realism and Gideon Rosen’s modal fictionalism. These discussions are very detailed and conversant with the literature. The discussions of Forbes (pp. 142-167) and of paradox within Plantinga’s system (pp. 120-141) are particularly enlightening. The rest of the book is devoted to Chihara’s positive project: developing an account of the status of model theory for non-modal logic, and then applying it to the modal case. The prize is an understanding of possible worlds semantics that requires no commitment to possible worlds at all (beyond the purely formal “possible worlds” of the standard Kripke-models.) What does the relativized notion of truth in an interpretation studied in (non-modal) model theory have to do with plain old truth? Chihara’s answer involves “connecting theorems” that relate truth-in to truth (chapter 5). A “natural-language proto-interpretation of the sentential calculus” (NLPI of SC) is a function that assigns meanings of declarative sentences of English to sentence letters. Where I is an NLPI of SC and φ is a sentence letter, Chihara uses ‘[φ/I ]’ to refer to “φ with the meaning it has been assigned by I ” (p. 191); where φ is not atomic, he says (p. 192). (shrink)
Salomon Maimon (1753-1800), one of the most fascinating characters of eighteenth-century intellectual history, came from a traditional orthodox Jewish community in Eastern Europe to Berlin to seek Enlightenment. Maimon remained an outsider: an 'Ostjude' among the enlightened Jews in Berlin, a freethinker among observant Jews and a Jew among the non-Jews. His autobiography became a classic of autobiographical literature of the Enlightenment. His 'inter-cultural' experience is reflected in his philosophy. Indebted to the Maimonidean as well as to the modern European (...) (notably Kantian) philosophical tradition, he attempted a synthesis of normally exclusive orientations: 'Rational Dogmatism' and 'Empirical Skepticism'. Maimon's importance in the development from Kant to German Idealism has been acknowledged, but the interpretation of his own philosophical position suffered much from this narrow perspective. The essays of leading scholars collected in this volume focus on his synthesis of 'Rational Dogmatism' and 'Empirical Skepticism'. (shrink)
: The work of Boris Hessen and Henryk Grossman on the emergence of early modern science is an attempt at a historical sociology of science and a historical epistemology of scientific knowledge. One of their theses is elaborated here, namely that early modern mechanics developed in the study of contemporary technology. In particular I discuss the thesis that the replacement of the Aristotelian concept of motion by the modern general and mathematical concept developed in the study of transmission machines. In (...) addition to a discussion of the thesis and its implications, I also present a case study to substantiate the thesis. I show that Benedetti's famous refutation of Aristotle and his introduction of a new concept of motion depended on empirical knowledge of the newly invented treadle mechanism. I argue that although the historiography of science since the 1930s has explored many of the individual issues first raised by the Marxist historians of science, this perspective remains unique in that it establishes direct and informative connections between the grand narrative of the transition from agrarian-feudal society to industrial production in early capitalism and the development of science and technology down to specific cognitive issues such as shared assumptions concerning the natural order. (shrink)
Gideon Yaffe is to be commended for beginning his exhaustive treatment by asking a surprisingly difficult question: Why punish attempts at all? He addresses this inquiry in the context of defending (what he calls) the transfer principle: “If a particular form of conduct is legitimately criminalized, then the attempt to engage in that form of conduct is also legitimately criminalized.” I begin by expressing a few reservations about the transfer principle itself. But my main point is that we are (...) justified in punishing attempts only when and for a different reason than Yaffe provides. I argue that attempts are legitimately punished only when they raise the risk that a harm will actually occur. To overcome the problems my explanation encounters with factually impossible attempts, I suggest an account of risk that relies on ordinary language and possible worlds. (shrink)
This article deals with the question whether aesthetic considerations affected Einstein in formulating both his theories of relativity. The opinions of philosophers and historians alike are divided on this matter. Thus, Gerald Holton supports the view that Einstein employed aesthetic considerations in formulating his theory of special relativity whereas Jim Shelton opposes it, one of his reasons being that Einstein did not mention such considerations. The other theory, namely, that of general relativity, is discussed by John D. Norton. He asserts (...) that the successful completion of this theory was due to Einstein's adherence to mathematical simplicity resulting from experience, as Einstein himself stated, and not from an aesthetic drive, to which he did not refer. The present work attempts to overcome this deficiency indirectly by investigating Einstein's aesthetic awareness and its consequences for his work. It is found that this awareness was imbedded in his perception of nature and is linked to the criteria (such as simplicity) that guided him in formulating his theories. The conclusion thus reached is that aesthetic considerations did play a role in Einstein's endeavour, contrary to the assertions of Shelton and Norton. (shrink)
This article examines a popular complaint against the fictionalist account of possible objects bruited by Gideon Rosen. This is the complaint that modal fictionalism is, in some sense or other, hopelessly artificial. I shall separate two different strands to this worry and examine each in turn. As we shall see, neither strand to the objection is intractable.
In chapter 6 of Attempts , Gideon Yaffe defends the thesis that it is “possible to attempt crimes of negligence” ( 2010 , p. 173). I am persuaded that he is right about this, provided that “attempt crimes of negligence” is read as (potentially misleading) shorthand for “attempt to bring it about that we commit crimes of negligence.” But I find certain parts of his defense unpersuasive. My discussion of those parts of his argument motivates the following thesis: Not (...) only can one attempt to bring it about that one commits a crime of negligence, but the attempt can be successful as well. (shrink)
Einstein's theories of special and general relativity are unanimously praised by scientists for their extraordinary beauty to the extent that some consider the latter to be the most beautiful theory in physics. The grounds for these assertions are assessed here and it is concluded that the beauty of Einstein's theories can be attributed to two of their aspects. The first is that they incorporate all possible ingredients that constitute the beauty of theories: simplicity, symmetry, invariance, unification, etc. The second concerns (...) the perfect logical consistency of Einstein's theories, a crucial factor in the unanimous praise of their beauty. Theories other than Einstein's are also assessed here, namely, electromagnetism and the various quantum theories, and it is concluded that all these suffer from logical flaws. This has resulted in a lack of consensus among scientists with respect to their beauty. Consequently, the unanimous claim that Einstein's theories are of superior beauty as compared to other theories in physics is hereby substantiated. (shrink)
Locke claimed that God superadded various powers to matter, including motion, the perfections of peach trees and elephants, gravity, and that he could superadd thought. Various interpreters have discussed the question whether Locke's claims about superaddition are in tension with his commitment to mechanistic explanation. This literature assumes that for Locke mechanistic explanation involves deducibility. We argue that this is an inaccurate interpretation and that mechanistic explanation involves a different type of intelligibility for Locke.
Drawing inspiration from the ethical pluralism of G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica, I contend that one empty world can be morally better than another. By ?empty? I mean that it is devoid of concrete entities (things that have a position in space or time). These worlds have no thickets or thimbles, no thinkers, no thoughts. Infinitely many of these worlds have laws of nature, abstract entities, and perhaps, space and time. These non-concrete differences are enough to make some of them (...) better than others. 1I thank Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, John Carroll, and Gideon Rosen for their comments and suggestions. (shrink)