It is generally thought that there are certain persons to whose welfare we should give special weight. It is commonly held, for example, that we should give special weight to our own welfare. On the strongest version of this view, we should always give overriding weight to our own welfare, and so, in considering any set of alternatives, we should always prefer the one in which we fare best. Many people would reject this strong view, for two reasons. First, many (...) people would hold that impersonal reasons (such as reasons of total utility) can sometimes outweigh, or at least counterbalance, reasons of self-interest. Further, many people think that reasons deriving from special personal relations can sometimes outweigh, or at least counterbalance, reasons of self-interest. We can, however, formulate a much weaker, and much more plausible, version of the self-interest view that avoids both these problems. Let’s first define a person’s kin as anyone in the person’s extended family (including himself). And let’s define a person’s kith very broadly as anyone with whom that person has ever interacted. We can now formulate the weak version of the self-interest view as follows. (shrink)
What theory should we accept from the practical point of view, or accept as a basis for guiding our actions, if we don’t know which theory is true, and if there are too many plausible alternative theories for us to take them all into consideration? This question is the theme of the first three parts of this dissertation. I argue that the problem of theory acceptance, so understood, is a problem of practical rationality, and hence that the appropriate grounds for (...) theory acceptance are practical considerations. I argue for a number of principles of theory acceptance, and I explore the implications of these principles for the acceptance both of descriptive theories and evaluative theories. (shrink)
Currently, it appears that the most widely accepted solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem is the one-third solution. Another widely held view is that an agent’s credences should be countably additive. In what follows, I will argue that these two views are incompatible, since the principles that underlie the one-third solution are inconsistent with the principle of Countable Additivity (hereafter, CA). I will then argue that this incompatibility is a serious problems for thirders, since it undermines one of the central (...) arguments for their position. (shrink)
Cognitivism about practical reason is the view that intentions involve beliefs, and that the rational requirements on intentions can be explained in terms of the rational requirements on the beliefs that figure in intentions. In particular, cognitivists about practical reason have sought to provide cognitive explanations of two basic requirements of practical rationality: a consistency requirement, according to which it is rationally impermissible to have intentions that are jointly inconsistent with one’s beliefs, and a means-end coherence requirement, according to which, (...) to a first approximation, it is rationally impermissible to intend an end while failing to intend what one regards as a necessary means to this end. In order for the cognitivist to explain these requirements, she must arrive at an account of the beliefs that figure in intentions, on the basis of which she can show that any agent who violates these requirements of pratical rationality must have beliefs that violate the requirements of theoretical rationality. Providing such an account, however, turns out to be no easy task. (shrink)
How are claims about what people ought to do related to claims about what ought to be the case? That is, how are claims about of personal obligation, of the form s ought to ?, related to claims about impersonal obligation, of the form it ought to be the case that p? Many philosophers have held that the former type of claim can be reduced to the latter. In particular, they have held a view known as the Meinong-Chisholm Thesis, which, (...) on its simplest formulation, can be stated thus: MCT: s ought to ? if and only if it ought to be the case that s ?s.[i] This thesis, I will argue, is false, and the reason for its falsity is a general problem facing any related attempt to reduce personal to impersonal obligation. (shrink)
Self-interest is widely regarded as an important, if not as the only, source of reasons for action, and hence it is widely held that one can rationally give special weight to one’s self-interest in deciding how to act. In what follows, I will argue against this view. I will do so by following the lead of Derek Parfit, and considering cases in which personal identity appears to break down. My argument will differ from Parfit’s, however, in that it will have (...) a stronger conclusion, it will involve fewer assumptions, and it will be compatible with a wider range of theories of personal identity. (shrink)
Is rationality normative, in the sense that we ought to be rational, in our actions and attitudes? Recently, the claim that rationality is normative has faced several challenges. In this paper, I will take up these challenges, and aim to vindicate the normativity of rationality in the face of them. I will begin, in part 1, by outlining these challenges, and then discussing, and criticizing, some that have been offered to them in the literature. Then, in part 2, I will (...) offer my own, unified response to these challenges. (shrink)
Parfit argues that a form of rule consequentialism can be derived from the most plausible formulation of the fundamental principle of Kantian ethics. And so he concludes that Kantians should be consequentialists. I argue that we have good reason to reject two of the auxiliary premises that figure in Parfit’s derivation of rule consequentialism from Kantianism..
analogy, the similarity along with difference, among meanings, among sorts of thinking, and among realities. Analogy theory originated with *Aristotle in its three main parts: analogy of meaning, analogous thinking, and analogy of being. There were some antecedents in *Plato, where the names of Forms and of participating things are the same but differ in meaning, and the notion of ‘being’ is said to differ with what we are talking about, for example Forms versus physical things (Sophist). Systematic use of (...) the three elements to unify philosophy and to resolve problems is, however, Aristotle's invention along with the idea that *metaphor is a species of analogy. Aristotle distinguished what were later called analogies of attribution, based on causation, signs, symptoms, and representations (medical skill, medical supplies; hat/head cover, hat/in picture), from analogy based on proportionality, A: B :: C : D; where the common implicit predicate is related in meaning (supplied food. (shrink)
To avoid the deadends, I redeploy the idea that integral human freedom (and understanding) has two modes. One is "natural" and the other "supernatural," though dividing the matter that way supposes the "natural" is the residue after the integrated whole is lost, because the supernatural contains the natural "eminently" the way olympic winning routines envelop the qualifying skills. In my account, humans were never "merely" objects in nature at all-- that is, objects, alongside stones and tigers and dinosaurs, that are (...) entirely consequences of matter and biotic life, or explicable the way trees and volcanos are. Humans never had a "completion"-- a fulfilment-- that can be defined by conditions of earthly life or attained by "flourishing," as other living things do.. (shrink)
The notion of rational certainty had developed a long way in four decades. Many now recognize that even to do science we characteristically claim rational certainty where we lack supporting proof of our own, have not engaged in some balancing of evidence, and have not even undertaken any articulate inquiry. Many further recognize that rational reliance is notably voluntaryand that our feelings, especially refined feelings, have indispensable roles in determining our willing reliances and in sustaining them. Scientists, and ordinary people, (...) judiciously sidestep the Lockean principle that one`s degree of commitment ought not exceed the evidence one has for it, realizing that Locke's idea supposed a social system of knowing that does not exist even science, much less in the rest of life and around the most important beliefs of life. (shrink)
There are reasons of principle limiting what lexical fields can explain. As will emerge, they are not just the limitations that have encouraged "frame" semantics, or an emphasis on the "belief elements of meaning" peculiar to the lexicon of a given language, but reasons concerned with the combinatorial adaptation of words in all languages. An example of combinatorial adaptation, which I call "semantic contagion," is the italicized pair: "look down \on art; look down \at the floor".
SUMMARY: If you think of analytic philosophy as disciplined argumentation, but with distinctive doctrinal commitments [to: positivism, logical atomism, ideal languages, verificationism, physicalistic reductionism, materialism, functionalism, connectivism, computational accounts of perception, and inductive accounts of language learning], then THAT analytic philosophy is fast going the way of acid rock and the plastic LP. Not because the method has betrayed the doctrines. Rather, the doctrines disintegrate under the method.
A qualitative and quantitative understanding of disease variables in relation to local understandings and values is an important dimension that broadens traditional evidence-based medicine (EBM) and is necessary in order to navigate the social perspectives of policymakers. There are dimensions of this research that share the values and practices of feminist research. This paper offers an epistemological analysis of theory and practice that can provide more effective outcomes in women’s health. PATH (Policy Advisory Towards Health) for women, bridges the knowledge (...) gap between research and direct service by providing translational support for community organizations’ legislative policy agendas. (shrink)
John Dewey wrote that the problems of philosophy were not problems of reality but rather problems of men. He suggested that philosophical dichotomies are problems to overcome. In this paper, I make an effort to help us move past the race/gene dichotomy, where on one hand we claim biological and inherent human characteristics of race and on the other hand we identify racial differences as having no inherent basis in biology or genetics. The swing between false beliefs of inherent racial (...) difference and misguided but well-intentioned beliefs of a complex social construction of difference are mirror images. Both horns of this dilemma—the dogmatic objectivity of traditional science and the relativistic subjectivity of social science—create the very kind of dilemma Dewey suggests we move past. Philosophical inquiries about race led to scientific, technological, and medical certifications. We continue to distinguish by race in medical research and practice, yet we have struggled to analyse how the legacy of race concepts informs current practice. In spite of good intentions, the legacy has produced disproportionate and damaging health consequences. I suggest that we articulate the epistemological challenges and accommodate broader and more accurate methodologies. (shrink)
How is what an agent ought to do related to what an agent ought to prefer that she does? More precisely, suppose we know what an agent’s preference ordering ought to be over the prospects of performing the various courses of action open to her. Can we infer from this information how she ought to act, and if so, how can we infer it? One view (which, for convenience, I will call ‘actualism’) is that an agent ought to just (...) in case she ought to prefer the prospect of her -ing to the prospect of her not -ing. Another view (which, for convenience, I will call ‘possibilism’) is that an agent ought to just in case she ought to prefer the prospect of some maximally specific option that involves her -ing to the prospect of any maximally specific option that does not involve her -ing (with the quantifiers appropriately restricted). After making some preliminary clarifications in part 1, I will discuss actualism and possibilism in parts 2 and 3, respectively. I will argue, in part 2, that actualism is very far from the truth. And I will argue, in part 3, that while the standard version of possibilism faces significant problems, there are much better versions of possibilism that avoid the objections to the standard view. Ultimately, however, I will argue that even the best forms of possibilism are not acceptable. Then, in part 4, I will propose what I take to be the best view, one that is neither strictly possibilist nor actualist, and that avoids the shortcomings of both these views. (shrink)
This paper compares two alternative explanations of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge (i.e., the claim that whether an agent knows that p can depend on pragmatic factors). After reviewing the evidence for such pragmatic encroachment, we ask how it is best explained, assuming it obtains. Several authors have recently argued that the best explanation is provided by a particular account of belief, which we call pragmatic credal reductivism. On this view, what it is for an agent to believe a proposition is (...) for her credence in this proposition to be above a certain threshold, a threshold that varies depending on pragmatic factors. We show that while this account of belief can provide an elegant explanation of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge, it is not alone in doing so, for an alternative account of belief, which we call the reasoning disposition account, can do so as well. And the latter account, we argue, is far more plausible than pragmatic credal reductivism, since it accords far better with a number of claims about belief that are very hard to deny. (shrink)
We seem to talk about repeatable artworks, like symphonies, films, and novels, all the time. We say things like, "The Moonlight Sonata has three movements" and "Duck Soup makes me laugh". How are these sentences to be understood? We argue against the simple subject/predicate view, on which the subjects of the sentences refer to individuals and the sentences are true iff the referents of the subjects have the properties picked out by the predicates. We then consider two alternative responses that (...) involve reading these sentences as generics, similar to "The polar bear has four paws". The first response takes these sentences to be about kinds, and the second takes the relevant noun-phrases to act as predicates. We reject these accounts, but offer a third alternative which is informed by both, and which enables us to deny the existence of repeatable artworks while endorsing the truth of sentences seemingly about them. (shrink)
The phenomenon of disagreement has recently been brought into focus by the debate between contextualists and relativist invariantists about epistemic expressions such as ‘might’, ‘probably’, indicative conditionals, and the deontic ‘ought’. Against the orthodox contextualist view, it has been argued that an invariantist account can better explain apparent disagreements across contexts by appeal to the incompatibility of the propositions expressed in those contexts. This paper introduces an important and underappreciated phenomenon associated with epistemic expressions — a phenomenon that we call (...) reversibility. We argue that the invariantist account of disagreement is incompatible with reversibility, and we go on to show that reversible sentences cast doubt on the putative data about disagreement, even without assuming invariantism. Our argument therefore undermines much of the motivation for invariantism, and provides a new source for constraints on the proper explanation of purported data about disagreement. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that there is a deep tension between the principle of countable additivity and the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem. The claim that such a tension exists has recently been challenged by Brian Weatherson, who has attempted to provide a countable additivity-friendly argument for the one-third solution. This attempt is shown to be unsuccessful. And it is argued that the failure of this attempt sheds light on the status of the principle of indifference that (...) underlies the tension between countable additivity and the one-third solution. (shrink)
Currently, the most popular views about how to update de se or self-locating beliefs entail the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem.2 Another widely held view is that an agent‘s credences should be countably additive.3 In what follows, I will argue that there is a deep tension between these two positions. For the assumptions that underlie the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem entail a more general principle, which I call the Generalized Thirder Principle, and there are situations (...) in which the latter principle and the principle of Countable Additivity cannot be jointly satisfied. The most plausible response to this tension, I argue, is to accept both of these principles, and to maintain that when an agent cannot satisfy them both, she is faced with a rational dilemma. (shrink)
It is argued that claims about personal obligation (of the form "s ought to 0") cannot be reduced to claims about impersonal obligation (of the form "it ought to be the case that p"). The most common attempts at such a reduction are shown to have unacceptable implications in cases involving a plurality of agents. It is then argued that similar problems will face any attempt to reduce personal obligation to impersonal obligation.
Abstract -/- “The Obvious Invisibility of the Relationship Between Technology and Social Values” -/- We all too often assume that technology is the product of objective scientific research. And, we assume that technology’s moral value lies in only the moral character of its user. Yet, in order to objectify technology in a manner that removes it from a moral realm, we rely on the assumption that technology is value neutral, i.e., it is independent of all contexts other than the context (...) in which it is used morally or immorally by someone. However, there is a power to technology. At the very least, technology should be seen as reflecting the values that it rises from: a developmental context. Consequently, we can make the invisible moral realm visible as we investigate the relationship between culture and technology. Pragmatically, we can trace how cultural values inform what counts as a scientific question. When we look at the 1980s epidemiological model for AIDS we see how the presuppositions within a culture frame the type of question asked, i.e. What population do we see AIDS occurring in? This question initially leads scientific research away from actual individual behaviors until a different question is asked that leads the question towards behavioral epidemiological models rather than population models. Secondly, we can make visible the circumstance that depicts that what constitutes a scientific problem has a direct relationship to the types of technologies that are developed. We can more clearly see this circular relationship between culture and technology by looking at clinical research and practice regarding heart disease. Men who were dying of diagnosed heart disease were showing symptoms of problems in large arteries of the heart. Women were also dying of heart disease, but since their large arteries were not overwhelmingly compromised they were not being properly diagnosed until recently. Different technologies and protocol were needed to “see” different symptoms in the smaller vessels of women. Thirdly, I show how the types of technology developed, in turn, can create new values or enhance preexisting values within a culture. DNA research can be used to investigate long, unanswered questions about qualitative dimensions of life in quantitative manners. Yet, long held unanswered questions about a biological basis of race or intelligence are themselves rarely challenged as uninteresting or misguided even when they are tied to prejudicial qualitative assumptions if the chance of a “scientific” answer is possible. When existing technologies or modifications of existing technologies can be used they seem to direct human reactions and behaviors in predictable ways. The technologies themselves may be said to direct culture in ethically valenced manners. (shrink)
Parfit argues that a form of rule consequentialism can be derived from the most plausible formulation of the fundamental principle of Kantian ethics. And so he concludes that Kantians should be consequentialists. I argue that we have good reason to reject two of the auxiliary premises that figure in Parfit's derivation of rule consequentialism from Kantianism. 1.
Introduction -- Building blocks -- The old way of thinking -- The new way -- The grammar of philosophy -- The grammar of mathematics -- The grammar of experience -- The grammar of psychology -- Part II -- What does it all mean?
Ted Honderich, 74, formerly Grote Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at the University of London, recently published a short book on consciousness (Honderich, 2004). Colin McGinn, 57, his former colleague at University College London and now a professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, Florida, reviewed it (McGinn, 2007a). The review is quite long and detailed, but the first sentences set the tone. McGinn on Honderich: 'This book runs the full gamut from the mediocre to the (...) ludicrous to the merely bad. It is painful to read, poorly thought out, and uninformed. It is also radically inconsistent.'. (shrink)
Scholars who compare common law and civil law countries have long argued that civil law legal systems such as Germany do not employ formal rules of evidence comparable to those which govern American courtrooms. Civil law systems that commit fact-finding to mixed panels of lay and professional judges are said to have less need for formal rules of evidence that withhold information from decision makers. This article challenges this widely held view. Scholars have failed to recognize that evidentiary rules can (...) restrict not only the presentation of evidence at trial but also the manner of its acquisition during the pre-trial investigation. For this reason, existing scholarship overlooks a rich source of evidentiary norms in the criminal process of civil law countries such as Germany. I argue that German regulation of police interrogation—particularly its prohibition of deceptive stratagems—plays an important role in shaping the factual record on which the legal system assesses guilt or innocence. The article identifies a number of institutional factors on which this system of pre-trial evidentiary regulation depends. (shrink)
Introduction: Structural realism -- Necessities : earned truth and made truth -- Real impossibility -- What might have been -- Truth -- Perception and abstraction -- Emergent consciousness and irreducible understanding -- Real natures : software everywhere -- Going wrong with the master of falsity.
One of the perennial challenges of ethical theory has been to provide an answer to a number of views that appear to undermine the importance of ethical questions. We may refer to such views collectively as “deflationary ethical theories.” These include theories, such as nihilism, according to which no action is better than any other, as well as relativistic theories according to which no ethical theory is better than any other. In this article I present a new response to such (...) deflationary ethical views. Drawing a distinction between acceptance and rejection, on the one hand, and belief and disbelief, on the other, I argue that we have strong reason to reject these theories, even if we do not have reason to disbelieve them. In Section I, I clarify the question of what ethical theory we should accept, and I argue for the central importance of this question. In Section II, I discuss what I call “absolutely deflationary” ethical theories. These are theories according to which it matters not at all what we do or not at all what ethical theory we accept. I argue that it is generally rational to reject any theory of this kind. In Section III, I discuss what I call “relatively deflationary” ethical theories. These are theories according to which it matters little what we do or what ethical theory we accept. I argue that we have strong pro tanto reason to reject theories of this kind. And then, in Sections IV and V, I reply to some common objections to my arguments. Throughout, I will be arguing not that deflationary ethical theories are false but only that we should reject them from the practical point of view as a basis for guiding our actions. (shrink)
This paper enlarges the analogy of meaning doctrine to show that it is a general, law-like linguistic phenomenon, and not peculiar to philosophy. The theory of forms, considered as active, repeatable, intelligible structures of things (accessible as such to intelligent beings alone), is basic to ground the sciences of nature and to an account of knowledge. Aquinas’s accounts of real natures, universals, natural and angelic things, causation, abstraction, knowledge, etc. are grounded in the theory of forms. The theory of forms (...) can be adapted to discern and even invent intelligible structures; thus we can account for real and common natures. Structures that are explanatory of the behavior of things, and are not themselves reductively explicable in terms of their own material components, are the constitutive structures of things and processes. There are real common natures of both things and processes, but ‘being common’ is the resultant of the physicalmultiplication of repeatable (because receivable) intelligible structure. Thus the commonness of a nature, like being human or being a chicken, is not antecedentto the individuals, as Plato thought, but consequent upon them. (shrink)