J.J.C. Smart famously complained that rule utilitarianism is incoherent, and that rule utilitarians are guilty of rule worship . Much has been said about whether Smartâs complaint is justified, but I will assume for the sake of argument that Smart was on to something. Instead, I have three other goals. First, I want to show that Smartâs complaint is a specific instance of a more general objection to a moral theoryâwhat I will call the Incoherence Objection. Second, I want (...) to illustrate how the Incoherence Objection can apply both to consequentialist and, surprisingly, some nonconsequentialist theories. Finally, I want to demonstrate at least one way nonconsequentialist theories that make use of rules, principles, and the like can dodge the Incoherence Objection. (shrink)
Habermas proposes a new solution to the problematic relation between republican values and democracy. He asserts that a new model of social cohesion is needed and he suggests that the sense of community in a democratic society should be founded exclusively on the acceptance and support of a system of constitutionally established rules which are the logical result of the historical evolution of constitution-making. He argues that an account of the constitutional process which led to the formation of the modern (...) republican state should provide the criteria for a rational set of norms which will exclude nationalism from the political arena. In this article, I point out the democratic hazards and the internal incoherence of Habermass alternative to the national state and I argue that a theoretical substitute should consider the existence of national identities as one of the aspects of modern pluralistic society. (shrink)
. According to Horgans transvaluationist approach, the robustness that characterizes vague terms is inherently incoherent. He analyzes that robustness into two conceptual poles, individualistic and collectivistic, and ascribes the incoherence to the former. However, he claims vague terms remain useful nonetheless, because the collectivistic pole can be realized with a suitable non-classical logic and can quarantine the incoherence arising out of the individualistic pole. I argue, on the contrary, that the nonclassical logic fails to resolve the difficulty and (...) that the incoherence afflicts Horgans collectivistic pole as well, consequently invalidating the entire transvaluationist approach. An alternative, coherent conception of robustness is suggested. (shrink)
Abstract What should we do when we discover that our assessment of probabilities is incoherent? I explore the hypothesis that there is a logic of incoherence?a set of universally valid rules that specify how incoherent probability assessments are to be repaired. I examine a pair of candidate?rules of incoherence logic that have been employed in philosophical reconstructions of scientific arguments. Despite their intuitive plausibility, both rules turn out to be invalid. There are presently no viable candidate?rules for an (...)incoherence logic on the table. Other ways of dealing with incoherence are surveyed, and found either to be unsatisfactory or to rely on a logic of incoherence in the end. The resolution of these antagonistic conclusions is left to future researchers. (shrink)
The claim that Descartes could have derived the certainty of his existence from the infallibility of the self?referential use of T is rejected because it fails to take account of the hyperbolical hypothesis. Recognizing the constraints which the latter involved, Descartes tried to secure Sum by an argument in modus ponens, which requires an incorrigible statement about experience as a minor premiss. Because he had an incorrect conception of the nature of statements, Descartes failed to realize that the circumstances described (...) in the hypothesis exclude the conditions necessary for any statements or thoughts whatsoever. This, in turn, led to a systematic conflation of statements with sentences. The incoherence of the argument follows from the fact that Cogito could at best be a sentence and not a statement and, as such, could not provide the required minor premiss. It is a further consequence of Descartes's conflation of statements with sentences that the subject of the hypothesis cannot be identical with the subject responsible for the hypothesis and that Descartes's hypothesis cannot therefore be about himself. (shrink)
The degree of incoherence, when previsions are not made in accordance with a probability measure, is measured by either of two rates at which an incoherent bookie can be made a sure loser. Each bet is considered as an investment from the points of view of both the bookie and a gambler who takes the bet. From each viewpoint, we define an amount invested (or escrowed) for each bet, and the sure loss of incoherent previsions is divided by the (...) escrow to determine the rate of incoherence. Potential applications include the treatment of arbitrage opportunities in financial markets and the degree of incoherence of classical statistical procedures. We illustrate the latter with the example of hypothesis testing at a fixed size. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga charges classical foundationalism with self-referential incoherence, meaning that that doctrine employs criteria for rationally acceptable propositions which exclude the criteria themselves. More specifically, the charge is that the criteria are neither properly basic nor supported by properly basic propositions. In section 1 the doctrine of classical foundationalism is briefly explained. In section 2, a defense against Plantinga's objection is provided showing how the foundationalist can provide arguments which ground the criteria in question in properly basic propositions.
Many scholars of modern philosophy link the discussion of the necessary nature of causality inexorably with the name of the David Hume. Yet, long before Hume, the issue of necessary causality had been taken up by the Medieval Islamic philosopher Al-Ghazali. The purpose of this paper will be to examine Al-Ghazali’s views concerning the necessary nature of causality in his work ’The Incoherence of the Philosophers’ with particular reference to the issue of whether there is a complete rejection of (...) causality, and whether Ghazali’s rejection of necessary causality entails that he holds to some sort of occasionalism. (shrink)
The doctrine of clinical equipoise is appealing because it appears to permit physicians to maintain their therapeutic obligation to offer optimal medical care to patients while conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The appearance, however, is deceptive. In this article we argue that clinical equipoise is defective and incoherent in multiple ways. First, it conflates the sound methodological principle that RCTs should begin with an honest null hypothesis with the questionable ethical norm that participants in these trials should never be randomized (...) to an intervention known to be inferior to standard treatment. Second, the claim that RCTs preserve the therapeutic obligation of physicians misrepresents the patient-centered orientation of medical care. Third, the appeal to clinical equipoise as a basic principle of risk-benefit assessment for RCTs is incoherent. Finally, the difficulties with clinical equipoise cannot be resolved by viewing it as a presumptive principle subject to exceptions. In the final sections of the article, we elaborate on the non-exploitation framework for the ethics clinical research and indicate issues that warrant further inquiry. (shrink)
Contemporary theories of justice fail to recognize that the concepts constitutive of our political practices ? including ?justice? itself? have historically mutable meanings. To recognize the fact of conceptual change entails an alteration in our understanding of justice between generations. Because there can be no transhistorical theory of justice, there can be no valid theory of intergenerational justice either ? especially where the generations in question are distant ones having very different understandings of justice. The upshot is that an earlier (...) generation cannot aspire to act justly toward a later distant generation whose members? understanding of justice differs radically from theirs. Conceptual change and incommensurability render the very idea of intergenerational justice incoherent. Even so, such radical relativism need not entail moral nihilism. (shrink)
In this article, the authors focus on Argentina's activity in the developing field of regenerative medicine, specifically stem cell research. They take as a starting point a recent article by Shawn Harmon (published in this journal) who argues that attempts to regulate the practice in Argentina are morally incoherent. The authors try to show first, that there is no such ‘attempt to legislate’ on stem cell research in Argentina and this is due to a number of reasons that they explain. (...) Second, by examining the role played by different values, conflicting legal and moral views, and the influence of various actors, they attempt to show that the legislative silence regarding stem cell research may not necessarily be a manifestation of a legal/moral disconnection but rather a survival strategy for navigating the long and heated battle on the moral status of the embryo and the kind of treatment it deserves. (shrink)
In this paper I am primarily interested in establishing that a coherence theory of truth is conceptually incoherent. Although my primary concern is with the coherence theory of truth, I shall point out that the problem I raise has a striking parallel in a now well-known objection to coherence theories of justification (an objection that, ironically, was brought to the fore by a proponent of a coherence theory of justification, Laurence Bonjour).
In his Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer claims that his theory of just war is based on the rights of individuals to life and liberty. This is not the case. Walzer in fact bases his theory of jus ad bellum on the supreme rights of supra-individual political communities. According to his theory of jus ad bellum, the rights of political communities are of utmost importance, and individuals can be sacrificed for the sake of these communal rights. At the same (...) time, Walzer bases his theory of jus in bello on the supreme rights of individuals to life and liberty. According to his theory of jus in bello, the rights of individuals are of utmost importance, and political communities can never permissibly violate them in war. Thus, Walzer’s theory of just war is based on two incompatible theories of justice. This explains why Walzer’s theory produces incoherent practical prescriptions in cases of supreme emergencies. Furthermore, it is impossible for Walzer to base his theory of jus ad bellum on the rights of individuals as he conceives them. The theory of jus ad bellum holds that soldiers are obligated to obey the commands of their political superiors. However, this obligation violates the rights of individuals in a number of respects. This is why Walzer does not base the theory of jus ad bellum on individual rights, and produces an incoherent theory. (shrink)
Radical empiricism is the view that a person's experiences (sensory and introspective), or a person's observations, constitute the person's evidence. This view leads to epistemic self-defeat. There are three arguments, concerning respectively: (1) epistemic starting points; (2) epistemic norms; (3) terms of epistemic appraisal. The source of self-defeat is traced to the fact that empiricism does not count a priori intuition as evidence (where a priori intuition is not a form of belief but rather a form of seeming, specifically intellectual (...) as opposed to sensory). Moderate rationalism, by contrast, avoids self-defeat. (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)
Before being able to answer key practical questions dependent on a criterion of personal identity (e.g., am I justified in anticipating surviving the death of my body?), we must first determine which general approach to the issue of personal identity is more plausible, reductionism or non-reductionism. While reductionism has become the more dominant approach amongst philosophical theorists over the past thirty years, non-reductionism remains an approach that, for all these theorists have shown, could very well still be true. My aim (...) in this paper is to show that non-reductionism is actually either irrelevant – with respect to the practical questions we want answered – or logically impossible. In arguing for this conclusion, I draw from a case Derek Parfit has employed – the Combined Spectrum – and I provide a number of variations to it which ultimately reveal that we have no possible rational recourse other than to become reductionists. (shrink)
Russ Schafer-Landau’s ‘Moral judgement and normative reasons’ is admirably clear and to the point (Schafer-Landau 1999). He presents his own version of the argument for the practicality requirement on moral judgement – that is, for the claim that those who have moral beliefs are either motivated or practically irrational – that I gave in The Moral Problem (Smith 1994), and he then proceeds to identify several crucial problems. In what follows I begin by making some comments about his presentation of (...) the argument. I then confront the problems. (shrink)
Two arguments apparently support the thesis that collective identity presupposes an Other: the recognition argument, according to which seeing myself as a self requires recognition by an other whom I also recognize as a self (Hegel); and the dialogic argument, according to which my sense of self can only develop dialogically (Taylor). But applying these arguments to collective identity involves a compositional fallacy. Two modern ideologies mask the particularist thesis’s falsehood. The ideology of indivisible state sovereignty makes sovereignty as such (...) appear particularistic by fusing “internal” with “external” sovereignty; nationalism imagines national identity as particularistic by linking it to sovereignty. But the concatenation of internal sovereignty, external sovereignty, and nation is contingent. Schmitt’s thesis that “the political” presupposes an other conflates internal and external sovereignty, while Mouffe’s neo-Schmittianism conflates difference (Derrida) with alterity. A shared global identity may face many obstacles, but metaphysical impossibility and conceptual confusion are not among them. (shrink)
Pluralism is an appealing and now orthodox view of the sources of value. But pluralism has led to well-known difficulties for social-choice theory. Moreover, as Susan Hurley has argued, the difficulties of pluralism go even deeper. In 1954, Kenneth May suggested an intrapersonal analogue to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. In brief, May showed that an individual's response to a plurality of values will, given certain additional assumptions, lead to intransitive preference orderings. (Daniel Kahneman and others have shown that intransitivity is an (...) empirical feature of preferences.) Hurley challenged May's additional assumptions as implausibly strong; but her work did not exclude the possibility that values may disobey the canon of rationality that insists on transitivity. John Broome has recently extended these canons to the "betterness" relation. This chapter argues that there is no good reason to be confident that values, understood as real features of the world, behave consistently with those canons. (shrink)
Moral cognitivists hold that in ordinary thought and language moral terms are used to make factual claims and express propositions. Moral non-cognitivists hold that in ordinary thought and language moral terms are not used to make factual claims or express propositions. What cognitivists and non-cognitivists seem to agree about, however, is that there is something in ordinary thought and language that can vindicate one side of their debate or the other. Don Loeb raises the possibility — which I will call (...) “the variability thesis” — that ordinary moral thought and language contains both cognitivist and non-cognitivist elements, and that there is no principled reason for thinking that either the cognitivist or non-cognitivist elements are conceptually more primary or aberrant than the other. According to the variability thesis, cognitivists accurately capture some aspects of what we think and say when we use moral terms and non-cognitivists capture other aspects, but neither side provides a correct analysis of ordinary moral thought and language as a whole. (shrink)
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According to the partial identity account of resemblance, exact resemblance is complete identity and inexact resemblance is partial identity. In this paper, I examine Arda Denkel's (1998) argument that this account of resemblance is logically incoherent as it results in a vicious regress. I claim that although Denkel's argument does not succeed, a modified version of it leads to the conclusion that the partial identity account is plausible only if the constituents of every determinate property are ultimately quantitative in nature.
Epistemic expressivism is the view that epistemic appraisals are basically non-factual valuations. In this paper I consider recent objections pressed by Terrence Cuneo, Michael Lynch and Jonathan Kvanvig to the effect that whatever the problems of expressivism in general, epistemic expressivism faces certain fatal objections due to the fact that the view is applied to the epistemic domain. The most important of these objections state, roughly, that because of the very content of the doctrine, epistemic expressivism cannot be coherently asserted (...) or argued for. Thus, epistemic expressivism is, as I shall say, dialectically incoherent. Another way to put the objection is this: there is no cogent perspective in which epistemic expressivism can be asserted or argued for. Since these arguments all trade on the idea of a perspective in which epistemic expressivism is to be asserted, I shall, following Terence Cuneo's terminology, refer to the arguments as the perspective objections (Cuneo 2007, 170). I argue that the perspective objections fail. Whatever serious objections there might be to epistemic expressivism, the charge that the view is dialectically incoherent is not one of them. (shrink)
Decision makers often rely on expert opinion when making forecasts under uncertainty. In doing so, they confront two methodological challenges: the elicitation problem, which requires them to extract meaningful information from experts; and the aggregation problem, which requires them to combine expert opinion by resolving disagreements. Linear averaging is a justifiably popular method for addressing aggregation, but its robust simplicity makes two requirements on elicitation. First, each expert must offer probabilistically coherent forecasts; second, each expert must respond to all our (...) queries. In practice, human judges (even experts) may be incoherent, and may prefer to assess only the subset of events about which they are comfortable offering an opinion. In this paper, a new methodology is developed for combining expert assessment of chance. The method retains the conceptual and computational simplicity of linear averaging, but generalizes the standard approach by relaxing the requirements on expert elicitation. The method also enjoys provable performance guarantees, and in experiments with real-world forecasting data is shown to offer both computational efficiency and competitive forecasting gains as compared to rival aggregation methods. This paper is relevant to the practice of decision analysis, for it enables an elicitation methodology in which judges have freedom to choose the events they assess. (shrink)
This article suggests that in cases in which illiberal groups face internal disagreement, plausible liberal arguments for toleration of such groups are hard to find. Since internal disagreement is widespread, this article proposes that arguments that attempt to justify toleration vis-à-vis illiberal groups are mostly incoherent views. I differentiate this argument from a different issue, namely, whether there is a justification for an external liberal agent to actively intervene in cases in which there exists a justification for lack of toleration.
Talk about time travel is puzzling even if it isn't obviously contradictory. Philosophers however are divided about whether time travel involves empirical paradox or some deeper metaphysical incoherence. It is suggested that time travel requires a Parmenidean four-dimensionalist metaphysical conception of the world in time. The possibility of time travel is addressed (mainly) from within a Parmenidean metaphysical framework, which is accepted by David Lewis in his defence of the coherence of time travel. It is argued that time travel (...) raises formidable difficulties which are not satisfactorily resolved by Lewis's ingenious defence of time travel. Objections to time travel considered include: (1) travel to other times is impossible because there is nowhere (or “nowhen”) to go to; (2) the problem that upon setting out on a journey to the past a time machine will collide with itself; (3) time travel generates a mysterious temporal dualism between experiential time and physical time; (4) travel to the past permits reverse causation, raising the possibility of causal loops and attendant problems arising, for example, from the prospect of empirical contradiction and the possibility of someone being one of their ancestors. (shrink)
Diachronic Dutch book arguments seem to support both conditionalization and Bas van Fraassen's Reflection principle. But the Reflection principle is vulnerable to numerous counterexamples. This essay addresses two questions: first, under what circumstances should an agent obey Reflection, and second, should the counterexamples to Reflection make us doubt the Dutch book for conditionalization? In response to the first question, this essay formulates a new "Qualified Reflection" principle, which states that an agent should obey Reflection only if he or she is (...) certain that he or she will conditionalize on veridical evidence in the future. Qualified Reflection follows from the probability calculus together with a few idealizing assumptions. The essay then formulates a "Distorted Reflection" principle that approximates Reflection even in cases where the agent is not quite certain that he or she will conditionalize on veridical evidence. In response to the second question, the essay argues that contrary to a common misconception, not all Dutch books dramatize incoherence—some dramatize a less blameworthy sort of epistemic frailty that the essay calls "self-doubt." The distinction between Dutch books that dramatize incoherence and those that dramatize self-doubt cross-cuts the distinction between synchronic and diachronic Dutch books. The essay explains why the Dutch book for conditionalization reveals true incoherence, whereas the Dutch book for Reflection reveals only self-doubt. (shrink)
Locke’s account of personal identity has been highly influential because of its emphasis on a psychological criterion. The same consciousness is required for being the same person. It is not so clear, however, exactly what Locke meant by ‘consciousness’ or by ‘having the same consciousness’. Interpretations vary: consciousness is seen as identical to memory, as identical to a first personal appropriation of mental states, and as identical to a first personal distinctive experience of the qualitative features of one’s own thinking. (...) There is wide agreement, however, that Locke’s theory of personal identity is meant to complement his moral and theological commitments to a system of divine punishment and reward in an afterlife. But these commitments seem to require also a metaphysical criterion, and Locke is insistent that it cannot be substance. The difficulty reconciling the psychological and metaphysical requirements of the theory has led, at worst, to charges of incoherence and, at best, to a slew of interpretations, none of which is widely accepted. (shrink)
I believe that time passes. In the last one hundred years or so, many philosophers have rejected this view. Those who have done so have generally been motivated by at least one of three different arguments: (i) McTaggart's argument, (ii) an argument from the theory of relativity, and (iii) an argument concerning the alleged incoherence of talk about the rate of the passage of time. There has been a great deal of literature on McTaggart's argument (although no concensus has (...) been reached).1 There has been a relatively small amount of literature on the argument from the theory of relativity, but this is perhaps not surprising, since most of us philosophers don't understand that theory.2 Meanwhile, there has not been a great deal of literature on the rate of passage argument, and this is surprising, I think, considering that the argument is easy to.. (shrink)
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)
Chalmers has provided a dilemmatic master argument against all forms of the phenomenal concept strategy. This paper explores a position that evades Chalmers's argument, dubbed Type Bb: it is for Type B physicalists who embrace horn b of Chalmers's dilemma. The discussion concludes that Chalmers fails to show any incoherence in the position of a Type B physicalist who depends on the phenomenal concept strategy.
The development of a defensible and fecund notion of emergence has been dogged by a number of threshold issues neatly highlighted in a recent paper by Jaegwon Kim. We argue that physicalist assumptions confuse and vitiate the whole project. In particular, his contention that emergence entails supervenience is contradicted by his own argument that the ‘microstructure’ of an object belongs to the whole object, not to its constituents. And his argument against the possibility of downward causation is question-begging and makes (...) false assumptions about causal sufficiency. We argue, on the contrary, for a rejection of the deeply entrenched assumption, shared by physicalists and Cartesians alike, that what basically exists are things (entities, substances). Our best physics tells us that there are no basic particulars, only fields in process. We need an ontology which gives priority to organization, which is inherently relational. Reflection upon the fact that all biological creatures are far-from-equilibrium systems, whose very persistence depend upon their interactions with their environment, reveals incoherence in the notion of an ‘emergence base’. (shrink)
Expressivist views of an area of discourse encourage us to ask not about the nature of the relevant kinds of values but rather about the nature of the relevant kind of evaluations. Their answer to the latter question typically claims some interesting disanalogy between those kinds of evaluations and descriptions of the world. It does so in hope of providing traction against naturalism-inspired ontological and epistemological worries threatening more ‘realist’ positions. This is a familiar position regarding ethical discourse; however, some (...) authors (e.g. Field, Heller, Gibbard, Blackburn, Chrisman) have recently defended a similar view regarding epistemic discourse. Others (especially Kvanvig, Cuneo, and Lynch) have argued that epistemic expressivism faces special problems, not necessarily attaching to expressivism about other areas. Their arguments differ in interesting ways, but the common strategy is an attempt to show that the very sort of meta-epistemological theorizing needed to articulate and establish epistemic expressivism involves the epistemic expressivist in some sort of internal incoherence or self-defeat. That is, they think that articulating or defending the position requires implicit commitment to the negation of one of the positions core tenets. This paper responds to those arguments on behalf of epistemic expressivism, suggesting that they each misunderstand what is crucial to epistemic expressivism. By responding to these arguments, we hope to achieve more clarity about what epistemic expressivism is and why one might want to endorse it in a meta-epistemology. (shrink)
Amartya Sen has recently leveled a series of what he alleges to be quite serious very general objections against Rawls, Rawlsian fellow travelers, and other social contract accounts of justice. In The Idea of Justice, published in 2009, Sen specifically charges his target philosophical views with what calls transcendentalism, procedural parochialism, and with being mistakenly narrowly focused on institutions. He also thinks there is a basic incoherence—arising from a version of Derek Parfit’s Identity Problem—internal to the Rawslian theoretical apparatus. (...) Sen would have political philosophy pursue intersocietal comparisons of relative justice more directly and in the manner of social choice theory. Yet the positive argument he develops in support of this method is quite thin. That aside, Sen’s polemical strategy of inflicting death by a thousand cuts is ineffective against the Rawlsian paradigm. For, as I show herein, none of these criticisms have the force we might be led to expect. (shrink)
If knowing requires believing on the basis of evidence that entails what’s believed, we have hardly any knowledge at all. Hence the near-universal acceptance of fallibilism in epistemology: if it's true that "we are all fallibilists now" (Siegel 1997: 164), that's because denying that one can know on the basis of non-entailing evidence1is, it seems, not an option if we're to preserve the very strong appearance that we do know many things (Cohen 1988: 91). Hence the significance of concessive knowledge (...) attributions (CKAs) (Rysiew 2001)—i.e., sentences of the form 'S knows that p, but it's possible that q' (where q entails not-p). To many, utterances of such sentences sound very odd indeed. According to David Lewis (1996: 550), however, such sentences are merely "overt, explicit" statements of fallibilism; if so, their seeming incoherence suggests that, contrary to our everyday epistemic pretensions, "knowledge must be by definition infallible" after all (ibid.: 549). -/- Recently Jason Stanley (2005) has defended fallibilism against the Lewisian worry that overtly fallibilistic speech is incoherent. According yo Stanley, CKAs are not just odd-sounding: in most cases, they are simply false. But this doesn't impugn fallibilism. Insofar as the odd-sounding utterances Lewis cites state the fallibilist idea, the latter portion thereof ('S cannot eliminate a certain possibility in which not-p', e.g.) expresses the idea that the subject's evidence doesn't entail what's (allegedly) known (hence, the negation of any contrary propositions). According to Stanley, however, this is not the best reading of the possibility clauses CKAs contain. On the correct account of the latter, while the sentences Lewis cites are almost always self-contradictory, they don't capture the fallibilist idea after all. Here, we argue that the sentences in question do express precisely the fallibilist idea, but argue that Lewis has nonetheless failed to raise a problem for the latter. In addition, we respond to worries that the resulting view of the semantics of epistemic possibility statements has certain unacceptable consequences. (shrink)
Cosmological arguments attempt to prove the existence of God by appeal to the necessity of a first cause. Schematically, a cosmological argument will thus appear as: (1) All contingent beings have a cause of existence. (2) There can be no infinite causal chains. (3) Therefore, there must be some non-contingent First Cause. Cosmological arguments come in two species, depending on their justification of the second premiss. Non-temporal cosmological arguments, such as those of Aristotle and Aquinas, view causation as requiring explanatory (...) or conceptual priority, and thus insist that there can be no infinite regresses in such priority. Temporal cosmological arguments, also called kalam cosmological arguments due to their historical roots in Islamic kalam philosophers such as Abu Yusuf Ya'qub b. Ishaq al-Kindi and Abu Ali al-Hussain ibn Sina, view causation as requiring temporal priority, and thus insist that there can be no infinite temporal regresses.1 The kalam cosmological argument thus requires some supporting argument showing the incoherence of an infinite temporal regress of causally related events. William Lane Craig, in "The Finitude of the Past and the Existence of God"2, attempts to provide such an argument: (4) An actual infinite cannot exist. (5) An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite. (6) Therefore an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist. (9) I will not be concerned here with the general status of cosmological arguments, kalam or otherwise, or with contesting Craig's assumption that an infinite past would (unlike an infinite future) constitute a problematic actual infinity. I am rather concerned with Craig's general working principle, embodied in (4) above, that actual infinities are impossible. Craig, of course, is not alone in denying the possibility of the actually infinite. Resistance to such infinities is at least as old as Aristotle (Physics 3.5.204b1 – 206a8), and, as Craig rightly points out, persists through much of modern (i.e., post-scholastic, pre-twentieth-century) philosophy.. (shrink)
I argue that, contrary to the recent claims of physicists and philosophers of physics, general relativity requires no interpretation in any substantive sense of the term. I canvass the common reasons given in favor of the alleged need for an interpretation, including the difficulty in coming to grips with the physical significance of diffeomorphism invariance and of singular structure, and the problems faced in the search for a theory of quantum gravity. I find that none of them shows any defect (...) in our comprehension of general relativity as a physical theory. I conclude by comparing general relativity with quantum mechanics, a theory that manifestly does stand in need of an interpretation in an important sense. Although many aspects of the conceptual structure of general relativity remain poorly understood, it suffers no incoherence in its formulation as a physical theory that only an ‘interpretation’ could resolve. *Received November 2007; revised February 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 817 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e‐mail: email@example.com . When science starts to be interpretive it is more unscientific even than mysticism. (D. H. Lawrence, “Self‐Protection”). (shrink)
Two centuries after they were published, Kant's ethical writings are as much admired and imitated as they have ever been, yet serious and long-standing accusations of internal incoherence remain unresolved. Onora O'Neill traces the alleged incoherences to attempts to assimilate Kant's ethical writings to modern conceptions of rationality, action and rights. When the temptation to assimilate is resisted, a strikingly different and more cohesive account of reason and morality emerges. Kant offers a "constructivist" vindication of reason and a moral (...) vision in which obligations are prior to rights and in which justice and virtue are linked. O'Neill begins by reconsidering Kant's conceptions of philosophical method, reason, freedom, autonomy and action. She then moves on to the more familiar terrain of interpretation of the Categorical Imperative, while in the last section she emphasizes differences between Kant's ethics and recent "Kantian" ethics, including the work of John Rawls and other contemporary liberal political philosophers. (shrink)
Up until fairly recently it was philosophical orthodoxy – at least within analytic aesthetics broadly construed – to hold that the appreciation and evaluation of works as art and moral considerations pertaining to them are conceptually distinct. However, following on from the idea that artistic value is broader than aesthetic value, the last 15 years has seen an explosion of interest in exploring possible inter-relations between the appreciative and ethical character of works as art. Consideration of these issues has a (...) distinguished philosophical history but as the Compass survey article suggests ('Art, Morality and Ethics: On the (Im)Moral Character of Art Works and Inter-Relations to Artistic Value.' Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 129–43), it is only very recently that figures in the field have returned to it to develop more precisely what they take the relationships to be and why. Consensus is, unsurprisingly, lacking. The reinvigoration of the issues has led sophisticated formalists or autonomists to mount a more considered defence of the idea that aesthetic and literary values are indeed conceptually distinct from the justification or otherwise of the moral perspective or views endorsed in a work (Topic I). The challenges presented by such a defence are many but amongst them are appeals to critical practice (Lamarque and Olsen), scepticism about whether or not art really can give us bona fide knowledge (Stolnitz) and the recognition that truth often seems to be far removed from what it is we value in our appreciation of works (Lamarque). One way to motivate consideration of the relevance of a work's moral character to its artistic value concerns the phenomena of imaginative resistance. At least sometimes it would seem that, as Hume originally suggested, we either cannot or will not enter imaginatively into the perspective solicited by a work due to its morally problematic character (Topic II). In some cases, it would seem that as a matter of psychological fact, we cannot do so since it is impossible for us to imagine how it could be that a certain attitude or action is morally permissible or good (Walton). The question then is whether or not this is a function of morality in particular or constraints on imaginative possibility more generally and what else is involved. At other times, the phenomena seem to be driven by a moral reluctance to allow ourselves to enter into the dramatic perspective involved (Moran) or evaluation of the attitude expressed (Stokes). Nonetheless, it is far from obvious that this is so of all the attitudes or responses we judge to be morally problematic. After all, it looks like we can and indeed often do suspend or background particular cognitive and moral commitments in engaging with all sorts of works (Nichols and Weinberg). If the moral character of a work interacts with how we appreciate and evaluate them, then the pressing question is this: is there any systematic account of the relationship available to us? One way is to consider the relationship between our emotional responses to works and their moral character (Topic III). After all, art works often solicit various emotional responses from us to follow the work and make use of moral concepts in so doing (Carroll). Indeed, whether or not a work merits the sought for emotional responses often seems to be internally related to ethical considerations (Gaut). Yet, it is not obvious that we should apply our moral concepts or respond emotionally in our imaginative engagement with works as art as we should in real life (Kieran, Jacobson). A different route is via the thought that art can convey knowledge (Topic IV). There might be particular kinds of moral knowledge art distinctively suited to conveying (Nussbaum) or it may just be that art does so particularly effectively (Carroll, Gaut, Kieran). Either way where this can be tied to the artistic means and appreciation of a work it would seem that to cultivate moral understanding contributes to the value of a work and to betray misunderstanding is a defect. Without denying the relevance of the moral character of a work some authors have wanted to claim that sometimes the immoral aspect of a work can contribute to rather than lessen its artistic value (Topic V). One route is to claim that there is no systematic theoretical account of the relationship available and what the right thing to say is depends on the particular case involved (Jacobson). Another involves the claim that this is so when the defect connects up in an appropriate way to one of the values of art. Thus, it has been claimed, only where a work reveals something which adds to intelligibility, knowledge or understanding in virtue of its morally problematic aspect can this be so (Kieran). The latter position looks like it could in principle be held whilst nonetheless maintaining that the typical or standard relationship is as the moralists would have it. Yet perhaps allowing valence change for such reasons is less a mark of principled explanation and more a function of downright inconsistency or incoherence (Harold). The topics themselves and suggested readings given below follow the structure articulated above as further amplified in the Compass survey article. The design and structure given below can be easily compressed or expanded further. Author Recommends 1. Carroll, Noël. 'Art, Narrative and Moral Understanding.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 126–60. This article develops the idea that engaging with narrative art calls on moral concepts and emotions and can thereby clarify our moral understanding. 2. Carroll, Noël. Beyond Aesthetics: Philosophical Essays . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Part IV consists of six distinct essays on questions concerning the inter-relations between art and morality including the essay cited above and the author's articulation and defence of moderate moralism. 3. Gaut, Berys. 'The Ethical Criticism of Art.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 182–203. 4. Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. This monograph provides the most exhaustive treatment of the issues and defends the claim that, where relevant, whenever a work is morally flawed it is of lesser value as art and wherever it is morally virtuous the work's value as art is enhanced. Chapters 7 and 8 defend concern ethical knowledge and chapter 10 is a development of the article cited above concerning emotional responses. Chapter 3 also gives a useful conceptual map of the issues and options in the debate. 5. Jacobson, Daniel. 'In Praise of Immoral Art.' Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 155–99. A wide ranging and extended treatment of relevant issues which objects to generalising moral treatments of our responses to art works and defends the idea that particular works can be better because of rather than despite their moral defects. 6. Kieran, Matthew. 'Forbidden Knowledge: The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism.' Art and Morality . Ed. Sebastian Gardner and José Luis Bermúdez. London: Routledge, 2003. 56–73. A general argument for immoralism is elaborated by outlining when, where and why a work's morally problematic character can contribute to its artistic value for principled reasons (through enhancing moral understanding). 7. Kieran, Matthew. Revealing Art . London: Routledge, 2005. Chapter 4. This chapter argues against both aestheticism and straightforward moralism about art, elaborating a defence of immoralism in relation to visual art whilst ranging over issues from pornographic art to the nature and demands of different genres in art. 8. Lamarque, Peter. 'Cognitive Values in the Arts: Marking the Boundaries.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 127–39. This article concisely outlines and defends a sophisticated aestheticism that denies the importance of truth to artistic value. 9. Stolnitz, Jerome. 'On the Cognitive Triviality of Art.' British Journal of Aesthetics 32.3 (1992): 191–200. This article articulates and defends the claim that no knowledge of any interesting or significant kind can be afforded by works appreciated and evaluated as art. 10. Walton, Kendall. 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, I.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. 68 (1994): 27–51. This article builds on some comments from Hume to develop the idea that when engaging with fictions it seems impossible imaginatively to enter into radically deviant moral attitudes. Online Materials 'Aesthetics and Ethics: The State of the Art.' American Society of Aesthetics online (Jeffrey Dean): http://www.aesthetics-online.org/articles/index.php?articles_id=15 >. 'Art, Censorship and Morality' downloadable podcast of Nigel Warburton interviewing Matthew Kieran at Tate Britain (BBC/OU Open2.net as part of the Ethics Bites series): http://www.open2.net/ethicsbites/art-censorship-morality.html >. 'Art, Morality and Ethics: On the (Im)Moral Character of Art Works and Inter-Relations to Artistic Value.' Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 129–43 (Matthew Kieran): http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118557779/abstract >. 'Ethical Criticism of Art.' Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Ella Peek): http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/art-eth.htm >. 'Fascinating Fascism.' New York Review of Books Piece Discussing Leni Riefenstahl (Susan Sontag): http://www.nybooks.com/articles/9280 >. 'The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (1450s), Giovanni de Paolo' (Tom Lubbock): http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-1450s-giovanni-di-paolo-1684900.html >. Vladimir Nabokov and Lionel Trilling discuss Lolita (CBS): http://www.listal.com/video/3848698 >. Sample Syllabus Topic I Autonomism/Aestheticism • Anderson, James C. and Jeffrey T. Dean. 'Moderate Autonomism.' British Journal of Aesthetics 38.2 (1998): 150–66. • Beardsley, Monroe. Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism . New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958. Chapter 12. • Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgement.Trans. James Creed Meredith . Oxford: Oxford UP, 1952 . • Lamarque, Peter. 'Cognitive Values in the Arts: Marking the Boundaries.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 127–39. • ——. 'Tragedy and Moral Value.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73.2 (1995): 239–49. • Lamarque, Peter and Stein Olsen. Truth, Fiction and Literature . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. Chapter 10. • Stolnitz, Jerome. 'On the Cognitive Triviality of Art.' British Journal of Aesthetics 32.3 (1992): 191–200. Topic II Imaginative Capacities, Intelligibility and Resistance • Moran, Richard. 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination.' Philosophical Review 103.1 (1994): 75–106. • Nichols, Shaun. 'Just the Imagination: Why Imagining Doesn't Behave Like Believing'. Mind & Language 21.4 (2006): 459–74. • Stokes, Dustin. 'The Evaluative Character of Imaginative Resistance'. British Journal of Aesthetics 46.4 (2006): 387–405. • Tanner, Michael. 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, II'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 68 (1994): 51–66. • Walton, Kendall (1994). 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, I'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 68 (1994): 27–51. • Weinberg, Jonathan. 'Configuring the Cognitive Imagination.' New Waves in Aesthetics . Eds. K. Stock and K. Thomson-Jones. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 203–23. Topic III Moralism and Emotions • Carroll, Noël. 'Moderate Moralism.' British Journal of Aesthetics 36.3 (1996): 223–37. • Carroll, Noël. 'Art, Narrative and Moral Understanding.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.126–60. • Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Chapter 10. • ——. 'The Ethical Criticism of Art.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 182–203. • Hume, David. 'Of the Standard of Taste.' Selected Essays . Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993 . 133–53. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Emotions, Art and Immorality.' Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Emotions . Ed. Peter Goldie. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. 681–703. • Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? . London: Penguin, 2004. Chapters 5 and 15. Topic IV Moralism and Knowledge • Aristotle. Poetics . Trans. M. Heath. London: Penguin, 1996 [367–322 BC]. • Carroll, Noël. 'The Wheel of Virtue: Art, Literature and Moral Knowledge.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 60.1 (2002): 3–26. • Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Chapters 7 and 8. • Gaut, Berys. 'Art and Cognition.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 115–26. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Art, Imagination and the Cultivation of Morals.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54.4 (1996): 337–51. • Nussbaum, Martha. 'Finely Aware and Richly Responsible: Literature and the Moral Imagination.' Love's Knowledge . New York: Oxford UP, 1990. 148–68. • Plato. The Republic . Trans. D. Lee. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Book 10. Topic V Immoralist Contextualism • Harold, James. 'Immoralism and the Valence Constraint.' British Journal of Aesthetics 48.1 (2008): 45–64. • Jacobson, Daniel. 'In Praise of Immoral Art.' Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 155–99. • ——. 'Ethical Criticism and the Vices of Moderation.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 342–55. • John, Eileen. 'Artistic Value and Moral Opportunism.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 331–41. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Forbidden Knowledge:The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism.' Art and Morality . Ed. Sebastian Gardner and José Luis Bermúdez. London: Routledge, 2003. 56–73. • Kieran, Matthew. Revealing Art . London: Routledge, 2005. Chapter 4. • Patridge, Stephanie. 'Moral Vices as Artistic Virtues: Eugene Onegin and Alice.' Philosophia 36.2 (2008): 181–93. Focus Questions 1. What is the strongest argument for the claim that the moral character of a work is not relevant to its artistic value? Does artistic or literary criticism tend to concern itself with the truth or morality of works? If so, in what ways? If not, why do you think this is? 2. What different explanations might there be for difficulty with or resistance to imaginatively entering into attitudes you take to be immoral? How might this relate to the way our imaginings work as contrasted with belief? How might different literary or artistic treatments of the same subject matter make a difference? 3. How do narrative works draw on our moral concepts and responses? Can we suspend our normal moral commitments or application of moral concepts in responding emotionally to art works? Should we respond emotionally to art works as we ought to respond to real world events we witness? Why? Why not? 4. How, if at all, do art works convey moral understanding? How, if at all, is this related to the kinds of moral knowledge art works can teach or reveal to us? When, where and why might this be tied to the artistic value of a work? How can we tell where a work enhances our moral understanding as opposed to misleading or distorting it? 5. What art works do you value overall as art which commend or endorse moral values and attitudes that you do not? Is appreciation of them always marred or lessened by the morally dubious aspect? If not, what explains the differences in evaluation? What, if anything, might you learn by engaging with works which endorse moral attitudes or apply moral concepts different from those you take to be justified? How, if at all, might this connect up with what makes them valuable as art? (shrink)
Harry Frankfurt (1988, 1998, 2004) defends an ethical ideal of wholeheartedness. We follow Frankfurt in distinguishing between ambivalence (a species of incoherence in desire) and wholeheartedness (the absence of ambivalence), but part ways with him by arguing against the idea that wholeheartedness is an ethical ideal. Our argument is based on cases of ethically valuable ambivalence – cases in which ambivalence contributes to the wellbeing of the ambivalent person.
The paper defends the view that there is a constitutive relation between believing something and believing that one believes it. This view is supported by the incoherence of affirming something while denying that one believes it, and by the role awareness of the contents one’s belief system plays in the rational regulation of that system. Not all standing beliefs are accompanied by higher-order beliefs that self-ascribe them; those that are so accompanied are ones that are “available” in the sense (...) that their subjects are poised to assent to their contents, to use them as premises in reasoning, and to be guided by them in their behavior. The account is compatible with the possibility of negative self-deception—mistakenly believing that one does not believe something—but the closest thing to positive self-deception it allows is believing falsely that a belief with a certain content is one’s dominant belief on a certain matter through failure to realize that one has a stronger belief that contradicts it. The view has implications about Moore’s paradox that contradict widely held views. On this view self-ascriptions of beliefs can be warranted and grounded on reasons—but the reasons are not phenomenally conscious mental states (as held by Christopher Peacocke) but rather available beliefs. (shrink)