My own philosophical interests led me to investigate the letter which Smith submitted to The Times, along with eighteen other signatures from renowned philosophers, each objecting to the honorary degree which Cambridge was about to award Jacques Derrida. While Smith's letter has been esteemed for sober defense of philosophy, it has also been viewed as rather notorious by Derrida and postmodern sympathizers. After having contacted Smith at the State University of New York at Buffalo, we agreed to meet and discuss (...) the matter in more detail. What follows are my inquiries, and his account, of his letter to The Times letters page, 9 May, 1992. (shrink)
When Adam Smith published his celebrated writings on economics and moral philosophy he famously referred to the operation of an invisible hand. Adam Smith's Political Philosophy makes visible the invisible hand by examining its significance in Smith's political philosophy and relating it to similar concepts used by other philosophers, revealing a distinctive approach to social theory that stresses the significance of the unintended consequences of human action. This book introduces greater conceptual clarity to the discussion of the invisible hand and (...) the related concept of unintended order in the work of Smith and in political theory more generally. By examining the application of spontaneous order ideas in the work of Smith, Hume, Hayek and Popper, Adam Smith's Political Philosophy traces similarities in approach and from these builds a conceptual, composite model of an invisible hand argument. While setting out a clear model of the idea of spontaneous order the book also builds the case for using the idea of spontaneous order as an explanatory social theory, with chapters on its application in the fields of science, moral philosophy, law and government. (shrink)
John E. Smith has contributed to contemporary philosophy in primarily four distinct capacities; first, as a philosopher of religion and God; second, as an indefatigable defender of philosophical reflection in its classical sense ( a sense inclusive of, but not limited to, metaphysics); third, as a participant in the reconstruction of experience and reason so boldly inaugurated by Hegel then redically transformed by the classical American pragmatists, and significantly augmented by such thinkers as Josiah Royce, william Earnest Hocking, and Alfred (...) North Whitehead; fourth, as an interpreter of philosophical texts and traditions (Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche no less than Charles Peirce, WIlliam James and John Dewey; German idealism as well as American; the Augustinian tradition no less than the pragmatic). Reason, Experience, and God provides an important and comprehensive look at the work of John E. Smith by collected essays which each address aspects of his life-long work. A response by John E. Smith himself draws a line of continuity between the pieces. (shrink)
LO : John L. Bell, David DeVidi and Graham Solomon, Logical Options, Broadview Press, 2001. ILF : Peter Smith, Introduction to Formal Logic, CUP 2003. LFP : Ted Sider, Logic for Philosophy, OUP forthcoming: draft available at http://tedsider.org/books/lfp/lfp.pdf.
One of the key questions to have exercised green political theorists in recent years concerns the relationship of the environment 'agenda' and democracy. Both environmentalists and democrats have a tendency to think of each other as natural bedfellows but in fact there is little theoretical or practical reason why they should be. Indeed some theorists have argued that the environmental movement has grown from fundamentally authoritarian roots and it is arguable that the only really effective way of implementing environmental politics (...) is by imposing them in an authoritarian manner. This book deals with the tensions between democracy and environmentalism from a variety of theoretical and empirical perspectives. (shrink)
Epiphenomenalism is a theory concerning the relation between the mental and physical realms, regarded as radically different in nature. The theory holds that only physical states have causal power, and that mental states are completely dependent on them. The mental realm, for epiphenomenalists, is nothing more than a series of conscious states which signify the occurrence of states of the nervous system, but which play no causal role. For example, my feeling sleepy does not cause my yawning — rather, both (...) the feeling and the yawning are effects of an underlying neural state. (shrink)
Most academic efforts to understand morality and ideology come from theorists who limit the domain of morality to issues related to harm and fairness. For such theorists, conservative beliefs are puzzles requiring non-moral explanations. In contrast, we present moral foundations theory, which broadens the moral domain to match the anthropological literature on morality. We extend the theory by integrating it with a review of the sociological constructs of community, authority, and sacredness, as formulated by Emile Durkheim and others. We present (...) data supporting the theory, which also shows that liberals misunderstand the explicit moral concerns of conservatives more than conservatives misunderstand liberals. We suggest that what liberals see as a non-moral motivation for system justification may be better described as a moral motivation to protect society, groups, and the structures and constraints that are often (though not always) beneficial for individuals. Finally, we outline the possible benefits of a moral foundations perspective for System Justification Theory, including better understandings of 1) why the system-justifying motive is palliative despite some harmful effects, 2) possible evolutionary origins of the motive, and 3) the values and worldviews of conservatives in general. (shrink)
Augustine’s early works Against the Academicians (386) and The Teacher (389) belong together. In the former, which is directed at Cicero’s Academica, he defends the possibility of knowledge against the skeptical arguments of the New Academy;1 in the latter, directed at Plato’s Meno, he oﬀers his theory of illumination to explain how knowledge is acquired. As a pair, they present Augustine’s alternative to the pose of ironical detachment fashionable among late Roman intellectuals.
Motivated by accounts of concept use in autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and a computational model of weak central coherence (O'Loughlin and Thagard, 2000) we examined comprehension and production vocabulary in typically-developing children and those with ASD and Down syndrome (DS). Controlling for frequency, familiarity, length and imageability, Colorado Meaningfulness played a hitherto unremarked role in the vocabularies of children with ASD. High Colorado Meaningful words were underrepresented in the comprehension vocabularies of 2- to 12-year-olds with ASD. The Colorado Meaningfulness of (...) a word is a measure of how many words can be associated with it. Situations in which high Colorado Meaningfulness words are encountered are typically highly variable, and words with High Colorado Meaningfulness often involve extensive use of context. Our data suggest that the number of contexts in which a particular word can appear has a role in determining vocabulary in ASD. This suggestion is consistent with the weak central coherence theory of autism. (shrink)
This article considers Kierkegaard's contribution to our understanding of the political. Building on previous scholarship exploring the social dimensions of Kierkegaard's thought, I argue that for Kierkegaard the modern understanding and practice of politics should be understood as ?despair?. Thus, whilst Kierkegaard's criticisms of politics might have been produced in an ad hoc fashion, this article argues that there is an underlying principle which guides these criticisms: that politics is subordinate to, and must be grounded in, spiritual or religious selfhood. (...) In this way the modern phenomena of democracy, liberalism, the press, and the crowd can all be seen as representative of a form of community which falls far short of the potential that human beings can and should achieve. Such a community would see individuals recognising themselves and each other as spiritual beings, and taking responsibility for themselves and others. That modern politics fails to understand the human being as an essentially spiritual entity related to others through God can only lead us to conclude that, from Kierkegaard's point of view, modern politics suffers from the sickness of despair. Whilst Kierkegaard might be criticised for failing to provide us with a more detailed picture of a polity shaped by the religious contours he promotes, he clearly offers an intriguing and suggestive contribution to our understanding not only of the limitations of politics, but also the relationship between a normative human and political ontology, with the former providing the basis for the latter. (shrink)
REMARKS ON EVOLUTION AND TIME-SCALES, GrahamCairns-Smith; HODGSON'S BLACK BOX, Thomas Clark; DO HODGSON'S PROPOSITIONS UNIQUELY CHARACTERIZE FREE WILL?, Ravi Gomatam; WHAT SHOULD WE RETAIN FROM A PLAIN PERSON'S CONCEPT OF FREE WILL?, Gilberto Gomes; ISOLATING DISPARATE CHALLENGES TO HODGSON'S ACCOUNT OF FREE WILL, Liberty Jaswal; FREE AGENCY AND LAWS OF NATURE, Robert Kane; SCIENCE VERSUS REALIZATION OF VALUE, NOT DETERMINISM VERSUS CHOICE, Nicholas Maxwell; COMMENTS ON HODGSON, J.J.C. Smart; THE VIEW FROM WITHIN, Sean Spence; COMMENTARY ON HODGSON, (...) Henry Stapp. (shrink)
After decades of persistent work by researchers in many fields, building foundations and patiently filling in details, the gigantic jigsaw puzzle of consciousness is beginning to come into focus. As large assemblies fall into place with a gratifying convergence of details drawn from different disciplines, the pace is quickening. Everybody wants to be in on the delicious task of describing what the Big Picture is going to look like, predicting the outlines before the mopping (...) up operations confirm them. Well, not quite everybody. There are also those who dislike what they see happening: consciousness is turning out to be "just" a great big jigsaw puzzle. What? No cosmic revolutions in quantum (or meta-) physics? No Impenetrable Mysteries? Bummer!. (shrink)
After decades of persistent work by researchers in many fields, building foundations and patiently filling in details, the gigantic jigsaw puzzle of consciousness is beginning to come into focus. As large assemblies fall into place with a gratifying convergence of details drawn from different disciplines, the pace is quickening. Everybody wants to be in on the delicious task of describing what the Big Picture is going to look like, predicting the outlines before the mopping up operations confirm them. Well, not (...) quite everybody. There are also those who dislike what they see happening: consciousness is turning out to be "just" a great big jigsaw puzzle. What? No cosmic revolutions in quantum (or meta-) physics? No Impenetrable Mysteries? Bummer! (shrink)
Adam Smith’s account of sympathy or ‘fellow feeling’ has recently become exceedingly popular. It has been used as an antecedent of the concept of simulation: understanding, or attributing mental states to, other people by means of simulating them. It has also been singled out as the first correct account of empathy. Finally, to make things even more complicated, some of Smith’s examples for sympathy or ‘fellow feeling’ have been used as the earliest expression of emotional contagion. The aim of the (...) paper is to suggest a new interpretation of Smith’s concept of sympathy and point out that on this interpretation some of the contemporary uses of this concept, as a precursor of simulation and empathy, are misleading. My main claim is that Smith's concept of sympathy, unlike simulation and empathy, does not imply any correspondence between the mental states of the sympathizer and of the person she is sympathizing with. (shrink)
This paper is a discussion of the ‘moralization’ of resentment in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. By moralization, I do not refer to the complex process by which resentment is transformed by the machinations of sympathy, but a prior change in how the ‘raw material’ of the emotion itself is presented. In just over fifty pages, not only Smith’s attitude toward the passion of resentment, but also his very conception of the term, appears to shift dramatically. What is an (...) unpleasant, unsocial and relatively amoral passion of anger in general metamorphoses into a morally and psychologically rich account of a cognitively sharpened, normatively laden attitude, an attitude that contains both the judgment that the injury done to me was unjust and wrongful, and the demand that the offender acknowledge its wrongfulness. Two very different readings of ‘Smithean resentment’ are thus available from the text. Indeed, the notion of two distinct forms of resentment – an instinctive, amoral version and a rich, rationally appraising attitude – would bring Smith into line with an earlier account of resentment, found in Bishop Joseph Butler’s Fifteen Sermons Preached at Rolls Chapel, first published in 1726. Ultimately, I argue, the differences in their theories are to Smith’s credit. It is precisely because the ‘thin’ or generic retaliatory passion described in Part I can be reconciled with the rich, normative attitude in Part II, that Smith is able to accomplish his meta-ethical goal of grounding moral judgments in naturally occurring emotions. (shrink)
Although it goes against a widespread significant misunderstanding of his view, Michael Smith is one of the very few moral philosophers who explicitly wants to allow for the commonsense claim that, while morally required action is always favored by some reason, selfish and immoral action can also be rationally permissible. One point of this paper is to make it clear that this is indeed Smith’s view. It is a further point to show that his way of accommodating this claim is (...) inconsistent with his well-known “practicality requirement” on moral judgments: the thesis that any rational person will always have at least some motivation to do what she judges to be right. The general conclusion is that no view that, like Smith’s, associates the normative strength of a reason with the motivational strength of an ideal desire will allow for the wide range of rational permissibility that Smith wants to capture. (shrink)
In his recent article, ‘Lottery puzzles and Jesus’ return’, Donald Smith says that Christians should accept a very robust scepticism about the future because a Christian ought to think that the probability of Jesus’ return happening at any future moment is inscrutable to her. But I think that Smith’s argument lacks the power rationally to persuade Christians who are antecedently uncommitted as to whether or not we can or do have any substantive knowledge about the future. Moreover, I think that (...) Christians who are so antecedently uncommitted have available objections they can reasonably press against Smith’s arguments. In the article, I attempt to bring out these objections. (shrink)
In their paper “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” (2000), George Graham and Terence Horgan argue, contrary to a widespread view, that the socalled Knowledge Argument may after all pose a problem for certain materialist accounts of perceptual experience. I propose a reply to Graham and Horgan on the materialist’s behalf, making use of a distinction between knowing what it’s like to see something F and knowing how F things look.
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: (1) a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; (2) a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; (3) a version (...) formed by the assimilation of (2) to (1), labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and (4) Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation (4). Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation(s) they oppose. (shrink)
Smith's famous invocation of the invisible hand -according to which self-interest promotes the greater good — has popularly been seen as a fundamental challenge to business ethics, a field committed to the opposite premise that the public interest cannot be advanced unless economic egoism is restrained by a more socially conscious mindset, one that takes into account the legitimate needs of stakeholders and the reciprocity inherent in networked relationships. Adam Smith has been brought into the discipline to show that his (...) authority cannot be summoned to fully support the free market sceptics of business ethics. Little has been done, however, to illustrate that Smith's moral writings actually contain the fundamentals of a business ethics teaching for managers who necessarily work within a variety of networks. This article analyses his moral thought to infer a Smithean framework of business ethics for managers. Smith believes that self-interest should be subordinated to moral imperatives, even in the business world. However, Smith rejects the principles of corporate social responsibility on the argument that benevolent impulses cannot be expected to prevail in the commercial arena. Instead of consciously trying to advance the social good, Smith's ideal manager will endeavour to personally live up to the standards enforced by an impartial spectator of his conduct, a theoretical entity reflecting the ethical requirements posed by the manager's social networks and stakeholder relationships. While this internalized onlooker expects a limited degree of benevolence, the overriding demand is for the manager to abide by the dictums of justice and prudence. (shrink)
The invisible hand image is at the centre of contemporary debates about capacities of markets, on which discussion of many other topics in business ethics rests. However, its meaning in Adam Smith's writings remains obscure, particularly the religious associations that were obvious to early readers. He drew on Isaac Newton's theories of divine action and providence, mediated through the moderate Calvinism of the eighteenth century Scottish circles in which he moved. I argue within the context of Smith's general providential account (...) of markets, the invisible hand operates restrain inequality and capital flight, thereby stabilizing the market system. Such an understanding of the invisible hand raises questions for contemporary religious and secular discussions of the capacities of markets in the wake of the global financial crisis. (shrink)