A. Moral impartialism is a theory in normative ethics. Moral internalism is a theory in meta-ethics. One’s manner of twining normative ethics and meta-ethics varies according to his or her position on the relations of normative ethics and metaphysics, as to in what ways ethics needs analysis, or ontology, or metaphysics, if it needs any of these at all. This large question is the deeper background of this paper. Here I will show why impartialism and internalism both need each other (...) and disturb each other when joined in a prescriptive moral philosophy. If the fundamental notions within internalism and impartialism are to be sustainable and complementary, then the forms of these two theories required for this result will greatly differ from the meta-ethical and metaphysical forms in which they are now commonly seen. (shrink)
Cybernetics,” which he presented as en suite with six articles by several others on the same subject in the same journal during the preceding 18 months. This group of short papers, starting with one by Karl Popper, may be regarded as part of the first wave of response to Alan Turing’s famous paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” in 1950. Polanyi read Turing’s paper in draft and discussed it directly with Turing. The polemic as to whether machines can think and the (...) mind’s likeness and unlikeness to a machine, has of course never ceased since then and, as Artificial Intelligence develops, is not likely to do so for many long decades. In addition to the traditional battle lines in philosophy over the mind and the brain there are other important lines of thought that disfavor logic as the final arbiter of the great philosophical questions—for example, feminist ontology and cultural theory. Polanyi started from within logic, but his line of thought was not built out of the old philosophical topics nor did he address the matter along either the materialist or the phenomenological developments of the twentieth century. He was concerned with the cybernetic view of the human mind and also with the way the followers of Wittgenstein regarded language and philosophy. (shrink)
The context for these interviews was a seminar [Peter Gratton] conducted on speculative realism in the Spring 2010. There has been great interest in speculative realism and one reason Gratton surmise[s] is not just the arguments offered, though [Gratton doesn't] want to take away from them; each of these scholars are vivid writers and great pedagogues, many of whom are in constant contact with their readers via their weblogs. Thus these interviews provided an opportunity to forward student questions about their (...) respective works. Though each were conducted on different occasions, the interviews stand as a collected work, tying together the most classical questions about “realism” to ancillary movements about the non-human in politics, ecology, aesthetics, and video gaming—all to point to future movements in this philosophical area. (shrink)
I shall present a problem about accountability, and its solution by Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’. Some readers of this don’t see it as a profound contribution to moral philosophy, and I want to help them. It may be helpful to follow up Strawson’s gracefully written discussion with a more staccato presentation. My treatment will also be angled somewhat differently from his, so that its lights and shadows will fall with a certain difference, which may make it serviceable even to the (...) converted. Also, I shall point to some disputable things in ‘Freedom and Resentment’, and offer repairs. So I wrote in the first published version of this paper. I wanted not only to be useful to others but also to elicit Strawson’s certificate of approval; and that hope was realized. In his ‘Reply’ Strawson wrote: ‘Bennett in the first eleven sections of his essay sets out and elaborates the essence of my position with such thorough and sympathetic understanding as to leave me little to say.’ I also tried, unsuccessfully, to analyse with more precision Strawson’s concept of reactive attitude, and to explore the extent of and reasons for the incompatibility between reactive attitudes and the objective attitude. I hoped that the display of my failures would induce Strawson to tackle the problems himself, with more success. No such luck! He wrote: ‘Bennett seeks . . . to produce a tighter and more unified organisation of the phenomena . . . than I achieved in “Freedom and Resentment”’, but he did not return to the fray. On the contrary: ‘It does not seem to me to matter if a strict definition [of ‘reactive’] is not to be had’; and he said nothing about reasons for the reactive/objective conflict. In the present version of the paper, I expound ‘Freedom and Resentment’ much as before. Since my attempts to tighten and deepen the theory failed to hook Strawson, and are not of much intrinsic interest, I now omit them. I shall, however, add an application of the doctrines of ‘Freedom and Resentment’ to the most basic philosophical question regarding punishment.. (shrink)
In this illuminating, highly engaging book, Jonathan Bennett acquaints us with the ideas of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this lucidly written work is an excellent introduction. For those already familiar with the time period, this book offers insight into the great philosophers, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, and teachers.
When they’re offered to the world in merry guise, Unpleasant truths are swallowed with a will. For he who’d make his fellow-creatures wise Should always gild the philosophic pill. - Jack Point to Sir Richard Cholmondeley, Lieutenant of the Tower, in an employment interview in Yeomen of the Guard. W. S. Gilbert..
This article will compare and contrast two very different accounts of convention: the game-theoretical account of Lewis in Convention, and the account initially proposed by Margaret Gilbert (the present author) in chapter six of On Social Facts, and further elaborated here. Gilbert’s account is not a variant of Lewis’s. It was arrived at in part as the result of a detailed critique of Lewis’s account in relation to a central everyday concept of a social convention. An account of (...) convention need not be judged by that standard. Perhaps it reveals the nature of an important phenomenon. Looked at in that light, these very different accounts are not incompatible. Indeed, neither should be ignored if one is seeking to understand the way in which human beings arrive at some degree of social order. (shrink)
Conditional sentences are among the most intriguing and puzzling features of language, and analysis of their meaning and function has important implications for, and uses in, many areas of philosophy. Jonathan Bennett, one of the world's leading experts, distils many years' work and teaching into this Philosophical Guide to Conditionals, the fullest and most authoritative treatment of the subject. An ideal introduction for undergraduates with a philosophical grounding, it also offers a rich source of illumination and stimulation for graduate (...) students and professional philosophers. (shrink)
Christopher Bennett presents a theory of punishment grounded in the practice of apology, and in particular in reactions such as feeling sorry and making amends. He argues that offenders have a 'right to be punished' - that it is part of taking an offender seriously as a member of a normatively demanding relationship (such as friendship or collegiality or citizenship) that she is subject to retributive attitudes when she violates the demands of that relationship. However, while he claims that (...) punishment and the retributive attitudes are the necessary expression of moral condemnation, his account of these reactions has more in common with restorative justice than traditional retributivism. He argues that the most appropriate way to react to crime is to require the offender to make proportionate amends. His book is a rich and original contribution to the debate over punishment and restorative justice. (shrink)
Terrorism, Security and Nationality shows how the concepts and methods of political philosophy can be applied to the practical problems of terrorism, state violence and national security. The book clarifies a wide range of issues in applied political philosophy, including the ethics of war, theories of state and nation, the relationship between communities and nationalisms, and the uneasy balance of human rights and national security. Ethnicity, national identity and the interests of the state, concepts commonly cited to justify terrorist acts, (...) all imply starkly contrasting notions of what constitutes a political community. Paul Gilbert examines the reasons for political violence and the plausibility of such justifications. He investigates notions of terrorism as unjust war and as political crime and concludes by considering the proper response of the state to political violence. (shrink)
Gilbert’s four modes of communication include the logical, the emotional, the visceral and the kisceral, which last has not received much attention at all. This mode covers the forms of argument that rely on intuition and undefended basal assumptions. These forms range from the scientific and mathematical to the religious and mystical. In this paper these forms will be examined, and suggestions made for ways in which intuitive frameworks can be compared and valued.
David V. Ciavatta: Spirit, the family, and the unconscious in Hegel’s philosophy Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s11007-012-9222-0 Authors Bruce Gilbert, Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke (Lennoxville), QC, Canada Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
Margaret Gilbert offers an incisive new approach to a classic problem of political philosophy: when and why should I do what the laws of my country tell me to do? Beginning with carefully argued accounts of social groups in general and political societies in particular, the author argues that in central, standard senses of the relevant terms membership in a political society in and of itself obligates one to support that society's political institutions. The obligations in question are not (...) moral requirements derived from general moral principles, as is often supposed, but a matter of one's participation in a special kind of commitment: joint commitment. An agreement is sufficient but not necessary to generate such a commitment. Gilbert uses the phrase 'plural subject' to refer to all of those who are jointly committed in some way. She therefore labels the theory offered in this book the plural subject theory of political obligation. The author concentrates on the exposition of this theory, carefully explaining how and in what sense joint commitments obligate. She also explores a classic theory of political obligation --- actual contract theory --- according to which one is obligated to conform to the laws of one's country because one agreed to do so. She offers a new interpretation of this theory in light of a theory of plural subject theory of agreements. She argues that actual contract theory has more merit than has been thought, though the more general plural subject theory is to be preferred. She compares and contrasts plural subject theory with identification theory, relationship theory, and the theory of fair play. She brings it to bear on some classic situations of crisis, and, in the concluding chapter, suggests a number of avenues for related empirical and moral inquiry. Clearly and compellingly written, A Theory of Political Obligation will be essential reading for political philosophers and theorists. (shrink)
In earlier work we have described how computer algebra may be used to derive composite rate laws for complete systems of equations, using the mathematical technique of Gröbner Bases (Bennett, Davenport and Sauro, 1988). Such composite rate laws may then be fitted to experimental data to yield estimates of kinetic parameters.Recently we have been investigating the practical application of this methodology to the estimation of kinetic parameters for the closed two enzyme system of aspartate aminotransferase (AAT) and malate dehydrogenase (...) (MDH) (Fisher 1990a; Fisher 1990b; Bennett and Fisher, 1990). (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction - when criminal law encounters bioethics: a case of tensions and incompatibilities or an apt forum for resolving ethical conflict? Amel Alghrani, Rebecca Bennett and Suzanne Ost; Part I. Death, Dying, and the Criminal Law: 2. Euthanasia and assisted suicide should, when properly performed by a doctor in an appropriate case, be decriminalised John Griffiths; 3. Five flawed arguments for decriminalising euthanasia John Keown; 4. Euthanasia excused: between prohibition and permission Richard Huxtable; Part (...) II. Freedom and Autonomy: When Consent Is Not Enough: 5. Body integrity identity disorder - a problem of perception? Robert Smith; 6. Risky sex and 'manly diversions': the contours of consent in criminal law - transmission and rough horseplay cases David Gurnham; 7. 'Consensual' sexual activity between doctors and patients: a matter for the criminal law? Suzanne Ost and Hazel Biggs; Part III. Criminalising Biomedical Science: 8. 'Scientists in the dock': regulating science Amel Alghrani and Sarah Chan; 9. Bioethical conflict and developing biotechnologies: is protecting individual and public health from the risks of xenotransplantation a matter for the (criminal) law? Sara Fovargue; 10. The criminal law and enhancement - none of the law's business? Nishat Hyder and John Harris; 11. Dignity as a socially constructed value Stephen Smith; Part IV. Bioethics and Criminal Law in the Dock: 12. Can English law accommodate moral controversy in medicine? The case of abortion Margaret Brazier; 13. The case for decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland Marie Fox; 14. The impact of the loss of deference towards the medical profession Jose; Miola; 15. Criminalising medical negligence David Archard; 16. All to the good? Criminality, politics, and public health John Coggon; 17. Moral controversy, human rights and the common law judge Brenda Hale. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction - when criminal law encounters bioethics: a case of tensions and incompatibilities or an apt forum for resolving ethical conflict? Amel Alghrani, Rebecca Bennett and Suzanne Ost; Part I. Death, Dying, and the Criminal Law: 2. Euthanasia and assisted suicide should, when properly performed by a doctor in an appropriate case, be decriminalised John Griffiths; 3. Five flawed arguments for decriminalising euthanasia John Keown; 4. Euthanasia excused: between prohibition and permission Richard Huxtable; Part (...) II. Freedom and Autonomy: When Consent Is Not Enough: 5. Body integrity identity disorder - a problem of perception? Robert Smith; 6. Risky sex and 'manly diversions': the contours of consent in HIV transmission and rough horseplay cases David Gurnham; 7. 'Consensual' sexual activity between doctors and patients: a matter for the criminal law? Suzanne Ost and Hazel Biggs; Part III. Criminalising Biomedical Science: 8. 'Scientists in the dock': regulating science Amel Alghrani and Sarah Chan; 9. Bioethical conflict and developing biotechnologies: is protecting individual and public health from the risks of xenotransplantation a matter for the (criminal) law? Sara Fovargue; 10. The criminal law and enhancement - none of the law's business? Nishat Hyder and John Harris; 11. Dignity as a socially constructed value Stephen Smith; Part IV. Bioethics and Criminal Law in the Dock: 12. Can English law accommodate moral controversy in medicine? Lessons from abortion Margaret Brazier; 13. The case for decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland Marie Fox; 14. The impact of the loss of deference towards the medical profession Jose; Miola; 15. Criminalising medical negligence David Archard; 16. All to the good? Criminality, politics, and public health John Coggon; 17. Moral controversy, human rights and the common law judge Brenda Hale. (shrink)
Jonathan Bennett engages with the thought of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. While not neglecting the historical setting of each, his chief focus is on the words they wrote. What problem is being tackled? How exactly is the solution meant to work? Does it succeed? If not, why not? What can we learn from its success or its failure? These questions reflect Bennett's dedication to engaging with philosophy as philosophy, (...) not as museum exhibit, and they require a close and demanding attention to textual details; these being two features that characterize all Bennett's work on early modern philosophy. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this clearly written work is an excellent introduction to it. Those already in the know can learn how to argue with the great philosophers of the past, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, teachers. -/- Volume 1: In this volume Jonathan Bennett examines the views of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz on matter and space, the foundations of physics, atomism and alternatives to it, causation, knowledge of necessary truths, how mind relates to body, the nature and significance of human desires, our perception of the material world, and other topics. While exhibiting and celebrating the wonderful breadth, depth, and boldness of the thinking of these philosophers, Bennett also tracks them into the details, where the life is, evaluating their doctrines and arguments on their own merits and in relation to current philosophical problems and interests. (shrink)
Jonathan Bennett engages with the thought of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. While not neglecting the historical setting of each, his chief focus is on the words they wrote. What problem is being tackled? How exactly is the solution meant to work? Does it succeed? If not, why not? What can we learn from its success or its failure? These questions reflect Bennett's dedication to engaging with philosophy as philosophy, (...) not as museum exhibit, and they require a close and demanding attention to textual details; these being two features that characterize all Bennett's work on early modern philosophy. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this clearly written work is an excellent introduction to it. Those already in the know can learn how to argue with the great philosophers of the past, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, teachers. -/- Volume 2: In this volume Jonathan Bennett examines the views of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume on thought and sensation, meaning, language, classification, innate ideas and knowledge, our knowledge of necessary truths (bringing in Descartes and Leibniz as well), the basis for our belief that we live in a world of material things, causation, the fundamental difference between colours and shapes, the passage of time and our ability to live through it. While finding much to criticize, Bennett shows that we can learn much about these and other topics under the guidance and inspiration of the energy, courage, and insight of these three great British philosophers. (shrink)
Jonathan Bennett engages with the thought of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. While not neglecting the historical setting of each, his chief focus is on the words they wrote. What problem is being tackled? How exactly is the solution meant to work? Does it succeed? If not, why not? What can we learn from its success or its failure? These questions reflect Bennett's dedication to engaging with philosophy as philosophy, (...) not as museum exhibit, and they require a close and demanding attention to textual details; these being two features that characterize all Bennett's work on early modern philosophy. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this clearly written work is an excellent introduction to it. Those already in the know can learn how to argue with the great philosophers of the past, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, teachers. (shrink)
Principles and the context, by J. C. Bennett.--Love monism, by J. M. Gustafson.--Responsibility in freedom, by E. C. Gardner.--The new morality, by G. Fackre.--When love becomes excarnate, by H. L. Smith.--Situational morality, by R. W. Gleason.--The nature of heresy, by G. Kennedy.--Situation ethics under fire, by J. Fletcher.
In this major new book, the internationally renowned thinker Jonathan Bennett offers a deeper understanding of what is going on in our own moral thoughts about human behavior. The Act Itself presents a conceptual analysis of descriptions of behavior on which we base our moral judgements, and shows that this analysis can be used as a means toward getting more control of our thoughts and thus of our lives.
Dualists think that not all the facts are physical facts. They think that there are facts about phenomenal consciousness that cannot be explained in purely physical terms—facts about what it’s like to see red, what it’s like to feel sandpaper, what it’s like to run 10 miles when it’s 15° F out, and so on. These phenomenal facts are genuine ‘extras’, not fixed by the physical facts and the physical laws. To use the standard metaphor: even after God settled the (...) physical facts and laws, he had more work to do to put the phenomenal facts in place. Some dualists think that the additional work involves the creation of a special kind of nonphysical substance. More common these days are dualists who think that the additional work merely involves the creation and positioning of special nonphysical properties, and that is the only form of dualism that I will be explicitly concerned with here. The property dualist’s claim is that phenomenal properties, or at least protophenomenal properties, are among the basic furniture of the world. (shrink)
The basic form of the exclusion problem is by now very, very familiar. 2 Start with the claim that the physical realm is causally complete: every physical thing that happens has a sufficient physical cause. Add in the claim that the mental and the physical are distinct. Toss in some claims about overdetermination, give it a stir, and voilá—suddenly it looks as though the mental never causes anything, at least nothing physical. As it is often put, the physical does all (...) the work, and there is nothing left for the mental to do. (shrink)
A variety of relations widely invoked by philosophers—composition, constitution, realization, micro-basing, emergence, and many others—are species of what I call ‘building relations’. I argue that they are conceptually intertwined, articulate what it takes for a relation to count as a building relation, and argue that—contra appearances—it is an open possibility that these relations are all determinates of a common determinable, or even that there is really only one building relation.
Case 1: Perhaps the phenomenal facts—facts about what it’s like to see red, or to taste freshly made pesto—do not supervene with metaphysical necessity on the physical facts and physical laws. This might be because the connections between the physical and the phenomenal are entirely unprincipled. Alternatively, it might be because whatever psychophysical laws do govern those connections are contingent. Either way, the claim is that there are metaphysically possible worlds that are just like the actual world in terms of (...) what physical laws hold, and in terms of the distribution of physical properties, but which are phenomenally different from the actual world. In some such worlds, different phenomenal facts obtain. In other such worlds, no phenomenal properties are instantiated at all. Call the latter sort of world a ‘phenomenal zombie world’, or, for short, just a ‘zombie world’. (shrink)
I think that there is an awful lot wrong with the exclusion problem. So, it seems, does just about everybody else. But of course everyone disagrees about exactly _what_ is wrong with it, and I think there is more to be said about that. So I propose to say a few more words about why the exclusion problem is not really a problem after all—at least, not for the nonreductive physicalist. The genuine _dualist_ is still in trouble. Indeed, one of (...) my main points will be that the nonreductive physicalist is in a rather different position vis à vis the exclusion problem than the dualist is. Properly understanding nonreductive physicalism—and clearly recognizing that it is, after all, a form of _physicalism_—goes a long way toward solving the exclusion problem. (shrink)
A lot of people believe that distinct objectscan occupy precisely the same place for theentire time during which they exist. Suchpeople have to provide an answer to the`grounding problem' – they have to explain howsuch things, alike in so many ways, nonethelessmanage to fall under different sortals, or havedifferent modal properties. I argue in detailthat they cannot say that there is anything invirtue of which spatio-temporally coincidentthings have those properties. However, I alsoargue that this may not be as bad as (...) it looks,and that there is a way to make sense of theclaim that such properties are primitive. (shrink)
The everyday concept of a social group is approached by examining the concept of going for a walk together, an example of doing something together, or "shared action". Two analyses requiring shared personal goals are rejected, since they fail to explain how people walking together have obligations and rights to appropriate behavior, and corresponding rights of rebuke. An alternative account is proposed: those who walk together must constitute the "plural subject" of a goal (roughly, their walking alongside each other). The (...) nature of plural subjecthood, the thesis that social groups are plural subjects, and the relation of these ideas to Rousseau's and Hobbes's, are briefly explored. (shrink)
In this paper1 I shall present not just the conscience of Huckleberry Finn but two others as well. One of them is the conscience of Heinrich Himmler. He became a Nazi in 1923; he served drably and quietly, but well, and was rewarded with increasing responsibility and power. At the peak of his career he held many offices and commands, of which the most powerful was that of leader of the S.S. - the principal police force of the Nazi regime. (...) In this capacity, Himmler commanded the whole concentration-camp system, and was responsible for the execution of the so-called ‘final solution of the Jewish problem’. It is important for my purposes that this piece of social engineering should be thought of not abstractly but in concrete terms of Jewish families being marched to what they think are bath-houses, to the accompaniment of loud-speaker renditions of extracts from The Merry Widow and Tales of Hoffman, there to be choked to death by poisonous gases. Altogether, Himmler succeeded in murdering about four and a half million of them, as well as several million gentiles, mainly Poles and Russians. The other conscience to be discussed is that of the Calvinist theologian and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. He lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, and has a good claim to be considered America’s first serious and considerable philosophical thinker. He was for many years a widely-renowned preacher and Congregationalist minister in New England; in 1748 a dispute with his congregation led him to resign (he couldn’t accept their view that unbelievers should be admitted to the Lord’s Supper in the hope that it would convert them); for some years after that he worked as a missionary, preaching to Indians through an interpreter;, then in 1758 he accepted the presidency of what is now Princeton University, and within two months died from a smallpox inoculation. Along the way he wrote some first-rate philosophy: his book attacking the notion of free will is still sometimes read.. (shrink)
What is it to do something with another person? In the author's book On Social Facts and elsewhere, she has conjectured that a special type of commitment - joint commitment - lies at the root of acting together and many other central social phenomena. Here she surveys some data pertinent to this conjecture, including the assumption of those who act together that they have associated rights against and obligations towards each other. She explains what joint commitment is, how it relates (...) to the data noted, and argues that an appeal to joint commitment does not involve a pernicious form of holism. (shrink)
This paper introduces the author's approach to everyday ascriptions of collective cognitive states as in such statements as we believe he is lying. Collective epistemology deals with these ascriptions attempting to understand them and the phenomena in question.
Concerns about ‘mental causation’ are concerns about how it is possible for mental states to cause anything to happen. How does what we believe, want, see, feel, hope, or dread manage to cause us to act? Certain positions on the mind-body problem—including some forms of physicalism—make such causation look highly problematic. This entry sketches several of the main reasons to worry, and raises some questions for further investigation.
The claim that we have a moral obligation, where a choice can be made, to bring to birth the 'best' child possible, has been highly controversial for a number of decades. More recently Savulescu has labelled this claim the Principle of Procreative Beneficence. It has been argued that this Principle is problematic in both its reasoning and its implications, most notably in that it places lower moral value on the disabled. Relentless criticism of this proposed moral obligation, however, has been (...) unable, thus far, to discredit this Principle convincingly and as a result its influence shows no sign of abating. I will argue that while criticisms of the implications and detail of the reasoning behind it are well founded, they are unlikely to produce an argument that will ultimately discredit the obligation that the Principle of Procreative Beneficence represents. I believe that what is needed finally and convincingly to reveal the fallacy of this Principle is a critique of its ultimate theoretical foundation, the notion of impersonal harm. In this paper I argue that while the notion of impersonal harm is intuitively very appealing, its plausibility is based entirely on this intuitive appeal and not on sound moral reasoning. I show that there is another plausible explanation for our intuitive response and I believe that this, in conjunction with the other theoretical criticisms that I and others have levelled at this Principle, shows that the Principle of Procreative Beneficence should be rejected. (shrink)
I argue that obligations of an important type inhere in what I call 'joint commitments'. I propose a joint commitment account of everyday agreements. This could explain why some philosophers believe that we know of the obligating nature of agreements a priori. I compare and contrast obligations of joint commitment with obligations in the relatively narrow sense recommended by H. L. A. Hart, a recommendation that has been influential. Some central contexts in which Hart takes there to be obligations in (...) his sense are contexts in which there are obligations of joint commitment. Nonetheless, different senses of 'obligation' appear to be at issue. (edited). (shrink)
This article explores the question: what is it for two or more people to intend to do something in the future? In a technical phrase, what is it for people to share an intention ? Extending and refining earlier work of the author’s, it argues for three criteria of adequacy for an account of shared intention (the disjunction, concurrence, and obligation criteria) and offers an account that satisfies them. According to this account, in technical terms explained in the paper, people (...) share an intention when and only when they are jointly committed to intend as a body to do such-and-such in the future. This account is compared and contrasted with the common approach that treats shared intention as a matter of personal intentions, with particular reference to the work of Michael Bratman. (shrink)
A set of eight mini-discourses. 1. The conceivability of the physical world's running in the opposite temporal direction. 2. Augustine's reason for thinking this is not conceivable for the world of the mind. 3. Trying to imagine being a creature that lives atemporally. 4. Memory's need for causal input. 5. Acting in the knowledge that how one acts is strictly determined. 6. The Newcomb problem. 7. The idea that all voluntary action is intended to be remedial. 8. Haunted by the (...) strangeness of the idea of the past qua past. (shrink)
Collective action is interpreted as a matter of people doing something together, and it is assumed that this involves their having a collective intention to do that thing together. The account of collective intention for which the author has argued elsewhere is presented. In terms that are explained, the parties are jointly committed to intend as a body that such-and-such. Collective action problems in the sense of rational choice theoryproblems such as the various forms of coordination problem and the (...) prisoners dilemmaare then considered. An explanation is given of how, when such a problem is interpreted in terms of the parties inclinations, a suitable collective intention resolves the problem for agents who are rational in a broad sense other than the technical sense of game theory. Key Words: rationality collective action collective intention joint commitment. (shrink)
Among other things, this paper considers what so-called collective guilt feelings amount to. If collective guilt feelings are sometimes appropriate, it must be the case that collectives can indeed be guilty. The paper begins with an account of what it is for a collective to intend to do something and to act in light of that intention. An account of collective guilt in terms of membership guilt feelings is found wanting. Finally, a "plural subject" account of collective guilt feelings is (...) articulated, such that they involve a joint commitment to feel guilt as a body. (shrink)
This essay seeks to give philosophical expression to the vitality, willfullness, and recalcitrance possessed by nonhuman entities and forces. It also considers the ethico-political import of an enhanced awareness of "thing-power." Drawing from Lucretius, Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, and others, it describes a materialism of lively matter, to be placed in conversation with the historical materialism of Marx and the body materialism of feminist and cultural studies. Thing-power materialism is a speculative onto-story, an admittedly presumptuous attempt to depict the (...) nonhumanity that flows around and through humans. The essay concludes with a preliminary discussion of the ecological implications of thing-power. (shrink)
Bernard Linsky and Edward Zalta have recently proposed a new form of actualism. I characterize the general form of their view and the motivations behind it. I argue that it is not quite new – it bears interesting similarities to Alvin Plantinga’s view – and that it definitely isn’t actualist.
Since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and more recent Federal legislation, managers, regulators, and attorneys have been busy in sorting out the legal meaning of fairness in employment. While ethical managers must follow the law in their hiring practices, they cannot be satisfied with legal compliance. In this article, we first briefly summarize what the law requires in terms of fair hiring practices. We subsequently rely on multiple perspectives to explore the ethical meaning (...) of fairness in hiring. Ethical fairness underlies the law and regulations in this area, but goes beyond them as well. We conclude by demonstrating that ethical hiring practices enable managers to make better hiring decisions. (shrink)
Two versions of global supervenience have recently been distinguished from each other. I introduce a third version, which is more likely what people had in mind all along. However, I argue that one of the three versions is equivalent to strong supervenience in every sense that matters, and that neither of the other two versions counts as a genuine determination relation. I conclude that global supervenience has little metaphysically distinctive value.
This is a review essay of Christopher Kutz's Complicity: Ethics and Law for a Collective Age, and Jonathan Bass's Stay The Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals. Topics addressed include the nature of collective intentions and actions, the possibility of collective guilt, the moral responsibility of individuals in the context of collective actions.
Mickelsen’s site also has translations of the texts by Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant, and of Leibniz’s Discourse on Metaphysics and his Monadology. These may be the best in the public domain (and thus the best available on the internet).
The paper is an extended discussion of what I call the ‘dismissive attitude’ towards metaphysical questions. It has three parts. In the first part, I distinguish three quite different versions of dismissivism. I also argue that there is little reason to think that any of these positions is correct about the discipline of metaphysics as a whole; it is entirely possible that some metaphysical disputes should be dismissed and others should not be. Doing metametaphysics properly requires doing metaphysics first. I (...) then put two particular disputes on the table to be examined in the rest of the paper: the dispute over whether composite objects exist, and the dispute about whether distinct objects can be colocated. In the second part of the paper, I argue against the claim that these disputes are purely verbal disputes. In the third part of the paper, I present a new version of dismissivism, and argue that it is probably the correct view about the two disputes in question. They are not verbal disputes, and the discussion about them to date has not remotely been a waste of time. At this stage, however, our evidence has run out. I argue that neither side of either dispute is simpler than the other, and that the same objections in fact arise against both sides. (For example, the compositional nihilist does not in fact escape the problem of the many, and the one-thinger does not in fact escape the grounding problem.). (shrink)
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom... —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
The question whether and in what way languages and language use involve convention is addressed, With special reference to David Lewis's account of convention in general. Data are presented which show that Lewis has not captured the sense of 'convention' involved when we speak of adopting a linguistic convention. He has, In effect, attempted an account of social conventions. An alternative account of social convention and an account of linguistic convention are sketched.
The author develops and elaborates on her account of collective belief, something standardly referred to, in her view, when we speak of what we believe. This paper focuses on a special response hearers may experience in the context of expressions of belief, a response that may issue in offended rebukes to the speaker. It is argued that this response would be appropriate if both speakers and hearers were parties to what the authors calls a joint commitment to believe a certain (...) proposition as a body. This joint commitment puts speakers under an obligation to refrain from speaking in certain ways, and gives hearers a correlative right to such refraining, and hence a basis for offended rebukes. (shrink)
DESCARTES was a dualist and Spinoza a monist. If this marks a contrast between them, there ought to be a question to which Descartes’s answer was “two” and Spinoza’s “one”. (a) How many substances are there? Spinoza: “One.” Descartes: “Strictly speaking, one; but if we relax the criteria for substantiality a little, millions.” On no interpretation of the question did Descartes answer, “Two.” (b) How many basic kinds of substance are there? Descartes: “Two.” Spinoza: “Two; though there is only one (...) substance, and it is of both kinds.” Descartes is usually called a dualist because he took thought and extension to be the two basic, logically independent ways of being; but in this sense Spinoza was a dualist, too. If we take seriously his talk of “infinite” attributes, we may call him a pluralist on this point, but certainly not a monist. (c) Of how many substances does an embodied person consist? Descartes (ignoring his views about the divisibility of matter): “Two: an embodied person is made up of a body and a mind, which are distinct substances.” Spinoza: “None: an embodied person is a mode (under two attributes) of the one and only substance, and is not made up of any number of substances.” Those are the questions which come most readily to mind, and none yields a dualist/monist contrast between Descartes and Spinoza. But: (d) Given that A and B are basic, logically independent attributes, what is the smallest number of substances needed to instantiate both A and B? To this Descartes does answer “Two” and Spinoza does answer “One.” I suspect that those who “contrast” Descartes and Spinoza as dualist and monist usually have in mind not the genuine contrast brought out by (d) but rather the fact that Descartes answered “Two” to (b) while Spinoza answered “One” to (a). Still, (d) is important in the thinking of both philosophers and in the philosophy of mind generally. Strawson's chapter, “Persons,” for example, is interesting partly for its Spinozist answer to (d): Strawson does not reduce mental predicates to physical or vice versa, but says that predicates of both kinds may apply to a single thing, namely a person.. (shrink)
What is it for a group to believe something? A summative account assumes that for a group to believe that p most members of the group must believe that p. Accounts of this type are commonly proposed in interpretation of everyday ascriptions of beliefs to groups. I argue that a nonsummative account corresponds better to our unexamined understanding of such ascriptions. In particular I propose what I refer to as the joint acceptance model of group belief. I argue that group (...) beliefs according to the joint acceptance model are important phenomena whose aetiology and development require investigation. There is an analogous phenomenon of social or group preference, which social choice theory tends to ignore. (shrink)
This article offers a critique of Thomas Scanlon's well-known account of promissory obligation by reference to the rights of promisees. Scanlon's account invokes a moral principle, the "principle of fidelity". Now, corresponding to a promisor's obligation to perform is a promisee's right to performance. It is argued that one cannot account for this right in terms of Scanlon's principle. This is so in spite of a clause in the principle relating to the promisee's "consent", which might have been thought to (...) do the trick. Most likely this argument can be applied to all "moral principle" accounts of promissory obligation. An alternative both to these and to "social practice" accounts is needed. (shrink)
P. T. Geach, notoriously, holds the Relative Identity Thesis, according to which a meaningful judgment of identity is always, implicitly or explicitly, relative to some general term. ‘The same’ is a fragmentary expression, and has no significance unless we say or mean ‘the same X’, where ‘X’ represents a general term (what Frege calls a Begriffswort or Begriffsausdruck). (P. T. Geach, Mental Acts (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 69. I maintain that it makes no sense to judge whether (...) things are ‘the same’, or remain ‘the same’, unless we add or understand some general term - ‘the same F’. (P. T. Geach, Reference and Generality, third Edition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 63f. I am arguing for the thesis that identity is relative. When one says ‘x is identical with y’, this, I hold, is an incomplete expression; it is short for ‘x is the same A as y’, where ‘A’ represents some count noun understood from the context of utterance - or else, it is just a vague expression of a half-formed thought. (P. T. Geach, ‘Identity,’ Review of Metaphysics 21 (1967-8), p. 3.) One of the ways Geach seeks to support this is by tying it to the well nigh universally admired Fregean thesis about cardinality. (shrink)
This essay explores the nature of an important collective emotion, namely, collective remorse. Three accounts of collective remorse are presented and evaluated. The first involves an aggregate of group members remorseful over acts of their own associated with their group's act; the second an aggregate of persons remorseful over their group's act. The third account posits, in terms that are explained, a joint commitment of a group's members to constitute as far as is possible a single remorseful body. Construed according (...) to this account the remorse of a nation that has wronged another nation is liable to make a particularly important contribution to international peace. (shrink)
As knowledge increases about the human genome,prenatal genetic testing will become cheaper,safer and more comprehensive. It is likelythat there will be a great deal of support formaking prenatal testing for a wide range ofgenetic disorders a routine part of antenatalcare. Such routine testing is necessarilycoercive in nature and does not involve thesame standard of consent as is required inother health care settings. This paper askswhether this level of coercion is ethicallyjustifiable in this case, or whether pregnantwomen have a right to (...) remain in ignorance ofthe genetic make-up of the fetus they arecarrying. While information gained by genetictesting may be useful for pregnant women whenmaking decisions about their pregnancy, it doesnot prevent harm to future children. It isargued that as this kind of testing providesinformation in the interests of the pregnantwomen and not in the interests of any futurechild, the same standards of consent that arenormally required for genetic testing should berequired in this instance. (shrink)
Two radically different, general accounts of human character traits - the "essentialist" and the "summary" accounts - are given critical consideration. The former account is characterized in terms of Saul Kripke's conception of metaphysical essence. Both accounts are discussed with reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's treatment of character traits. The essentialist account cannot withstand considerations relating to personal identity over time. The summary account is also rejected, as is a certain kind of dispositional account. An approach to at least some character (...) traits in terms of persisting aims, beliefs, and so on is recommended. (shrink)
This essay focuses on what patriotism is, as opposed to the value of patriotism. It focuses further on the basic patriotic motive : one acts with this motive if one acts on behalf of one’s country as such. I first argue that pre-theoretically the basic patriotic motive is sufficient to make an act patriotic from a motivational point of view. In particular the agent need not ascribe virtues or achievements to his country nor need he feel towards it the emotions (...) characteristic of love. Why should one ever act on behalf of one’s country as such, if one does not particularly admire it or feel a special affection for it? In answer to this question I offer a further articulation of the basic patriotic motive, invoking a particular understanding of what it is to be the member of a political society. Building on this articulation I then consider how one might characterize a patriotic act, a patriotic person, and the relationship of patriotism and pride. (shrink)
Currently, an increasing number of organizations are attempting to enhance inclusiveness of under represented individuals through proactive efforts to manage their diversity. In this article, we define diversity management against the backdrop of its predecessor, affirmative action. Next, selected examples of organizations that have experienced specific positive bottom line results from diversity management strategies are discussed. The present paper also provides a conceptual model to examine antecedents and consequences of effective diversity management. Additional research areas identified from the model and (...) literature review result in a number of research propositions intended to enhance the exploration and understanding of diversity management. (shrink)
May social unity - the unity of a society or social group - be a matter of sharing values? Political philosophers disagree on this topic. Kymlicka answers: No. Devlin and Rawls answer: Yes. It is argued that given one common 'summative' account of sharing values a negative answer is correct. A positive answer is correct, however, given the plural subject account of sharing values. Given this account, those who share values are unified in a substantial way by their participation in (...) a joint commitment. Some consequences of such sharing of values for the liberty of the people involved are noted. (shrink)
This paper challenges the common assumption that an agreement is an exchange of promises. Proposing that the performance obligations of some typical agreements are simultaneous, interdependent, and unconditional, it argues that no promise-exchange has this structure of obligations. In addition to offering general considerations in support of this claim, it examines various types of promise-exchange, showing that none satisfy the criteria noted. Two forms of conditional promise are distinguished and both forms are discussed. A positive account of agreements as joint (...) decisions founded in a joint commitment is sketched. It is argued that the example agreements represent especially clearly the normative structure of social union. (shrink)
Can teams and other collectivities have preferences of their own, preferences that are not in some way reducible to the personal preferences of their members? In short, are collective preferences possible? In everyday life people speak easily of what we prefer, where what is at issue seems to be a collective preference. This is suggested by the acceptability of such remarks as ‘My ideal walk would be . . . along rougher and less well-marked paths than we prefer as a (...) family’. One can imagine, indeed, that each member of a given family prefers something other than what the family prefers. What, then, do the collective preferences of everyday understanding amount to? (shrink)
A new criterion is introduced for judging the suitability of various fuzzy logics for practical uncertain reasoning in a probabilistic world and the relationship of this criterion to several established criteria, and its consequences for truth functional belief, are investigated.
Typical agreements can be seen as joint decisions, inherently involving obligations of a distinctive kind. These obligations derive from the joint commitment' that underlies a joint decision. One consequence of this understanding of agreements and their obligations is that coerced agreements are possible and impose obligations. It is not that the parties to an agreement should always conform to it, all things considered. Unless one is released from the agreement, however, one has some reason to conform to it, whatever else (...) is true. In this sense, one is under an obligation to the other parties. The relevance of these points to the issue of political obligation is discussed. (shrink)
Do people have obligations by virtue of the fact that a given country is their country? Actual contract theory says they do because they have agreed to act in certain ways. Contemporary philosophers standardly object in terms of the 'no agreement' objection and the 'not morally binding' objection. I argue that the 'not morally binding' objection is not conclusive. As for the 'no agreement' objection, though actual contract theory succumbs, a closely related plural subject theory of political obligation does not. (...) Plural subject theory may be the truth in actual contract theory and should be explored in its stead. (shrink)
Numerous social and political theorists have referred to social groups or societies as “unities.” What makes a unity of a social group? I address this question with special reference to the theory of social groups proposed in my books On Social Facts and Living Together: Rationality, Sociality and Obligation. I argue that social groups of a central kind require an underlying “joint commitment.” I explain what I mean by a “joint commitment” with care. If joint commitments in my sense underlie (...) them, what kind of unity does this give social groups? In what sense or senses is it objective? (shrink)