Self to Self brings together essays on personal identity, autonomy, and moral emotions by the distinguished philosopher J. DavidVelleman. Although each of the essays was written as an independent piece, they are unified by an overarching thesis, that there is no single entity denoted by 'the self', as well as by themes from Kantian ethics, psychoanalytic theory, social psychology, and Velleman's work in the philosophy of action. Two of the essays were selected by the editors of (...) Philosophers' Annual as being among the ten best papers in their year of publication. Aimed primarily at professional philosophers and advanced students, Self to Self will also be of interest to psychologists and others who theorize about the self. (shrink)
“What do you see when you look at your face in the mirror?” asks J. DavidVelleman in introducing his philosophical theory of action. He takes this simple act of self-scrutiny as a model for the reflective reasoning of rational agents: our efforts to understand our existence and conduct are aided by our efforts to make it intelligible. Reflective reasoning, Velleman argues, constitutes practical reasoning. By applying this conception, Practical Reflection develops philosophical accounts of intention, free will, (...) and the foundation of morals. This new edition of Practical Reflection contains the original 1989 text along with a new introduction and is the latest entry in The David Hume Series of Philosophy and Cognitive Science Reissues, which keeps in print previously published indispensable works in the area of cognitive science. (shrink)
In Foundations for Moral Relativism, J. DavidVelleman shows that different communities can indeed be subject to incompatible moralities, because their local mores are rationally binding. At the same time, he explains why the mores of different communities, even when incompatible, are still variations on the same moral themes. The book thus maps out a universe of many moral worlds without, as Velleman puts it, "moral black holes”. The five self-standing chapters discuss such diverse topics as online (...) avatars and virtual worlds, lying in Russian and truth-telling in Quechua, the pleasure of solitude and the fear of absurdity. Accessibly written, Foundations for Moral Relativism presupposes no prior training in philosophy. (shrink)
William James had the courage to experience the collision of European and American ways of thinking head on, and to emerge from it with a new philosophy - one displaying a remarkable vitality for dealing with the transformative issues at the core of the human condition. This easy to read introduction to his life and work explains why James' work is overwhelmingly valuable to us today in getting to grips with the spiritual dimension of human experience.
The possibility of achieving ectogenesis, or the growing of a human fetus to term in an artificial womb, is approaching reality as a result of advances in treatment of premature newborns and in in vitro fertilization techniques. In their 1984 book, The Reproductive Revolution, issued in North America as Making Babies, Peter Singer and Deane Wells offered several arguments for ectogenesis. James examines their arguments and rejects two of them, that ectogenesis offers a less problematic alternative to surrogate motherhood, (...) and that ectogenesis could make it possible to reconcile fetal rights with the right to abortion on demand. He grants Singer and Wells' argument that the childless have a claim to state support of their desire to nurture, but contends that government-supported ectogenesis should still be rejected because the adoption of unwanted children is a preferable alternative to the use of an exotic, expensive, and still unproven technology. (shrink)
By “deciding how to decide,” I mean using practical reasoning to regulate one's principles of practical reasoning. David Gauthier has suggested that deciding how to decide is something that every rational agent does. According to Gauthier, we assess rival principles of practical reasoning, which tell us how to choose among actions; and assessing how to choose among actions certainly sounds like deciding how to decide. One of my goals in this essay is to argue, in opposition to Gauthier, that (...) assessing rival principles of practical reasoning is a job for theoretical rather than practical reasoning. How to decide is something that we discover rather than decide. The idea that our principles of practical reasoning can be regulated by practical reasoning is essential to Gauthier's defence of his own, somewhat unorthodox conception of those principles. And although I do not endorse the specifics of Gauthier's conception, I do endorse its spirit. There is a flaw in the orthodox conception of practical reasoning, and Gauthier has put his finger on it. Unfortunately, Gauthier's account of why it is a flaw, and how it should be fixed, ultimately rests on practical considerations, whose relevance is open to question if, as I believe, practical reasoning cannot regulate itself. This essay therefore has a second goal, which complicates matters considerably. Although I want to reject Gauthier's notion that we decide how to decide, I also want to preserve what rests upon that notion, in Gauthier's view: I want to resettle Gauthier's critique of the orthodoxy on a new foundation. (shrink)
The Essential William James covers the primary topics for which James is still closely studied: the nature of experience, the functions of the mind, the criteria for knowledge, the definition of “truth,” the ethical life, and the religious life. His notable terms, still resonating in their respective fields, are all covered here, from “stream of consciousness” and “pure experience” to the “will to believe,” the “cash-value of truth,” and the distinction between the religiously “healthy soul” and the “sick (...) soul.” This volume’s eighteen selections receive the bulk of the attention and citation from scholars, provide excellent coverage of core topics, and have a broad appeal across many academic disciplines. (shrink)
In his introduction to this collection, John representative. McDermott presents James's thinking in all its manifestations, stressing the importance of radical empiricism and placing into perspective the doctrines of pragmatism and the will to believe. The critical periods of James's life are highlighted to illuminate the development of his philosophical and psychological thought. The anthology features representive selections from The Principles of Psychology, The Will to Believe , and The Variety of Religious Experience in addition to the complete (...) Essays in Radical Empiricism and A Pluralistic Universe . The original 1907 edition of Pragmatism is included, as well as classic selections from all of James's other major works. Of particular significance for James scholarship is the supplemented version of Ralph Barton Perry's Annotated Bibliography of the Writings of William James , with additions bringing it up to 1976. (shrink)
When William James spoke about belief to the philosophy clubs of Yale and Brown in 1896, he forewarned his audience of the nature of his comments by describing them as a “sermon on justification by faith” (James 13), titling the talk “The Will to Believe.” Although there is disagreement about the substance of James’s remarks, it is fairly innocuous to assert that James thought they were appropriate because of the prevalence of the “logical spirit” of many (...) of those who practiced academic philosophy that led them to the conclusion that religious faith was untenable. Aware of his audience, James presents his view on the permissibility of religious faith on the terms and grounds familiar to professional philosophers. .. (shrink)
In response to the claim that Kierkegaard's highly compressed definition of the self, given near the beginning of The Sickness unto Death, should be understood in Hegelian terms, I show that it can be better understood in terms of an earlier development in the history of German idealism, namely, Fichte's theory of self-consciousness. The notion that the self ?posits? itself found in this theory will be used to explain Kierkegaard's definition of the self, including his rejection of the idea that (...) the self posits itself absolutely. I go on to show how this conception of the self relates to certain features of the concept of despair described in The Sickness unto Death. This in turn allows me to indicate some implications of this conception of the self in relation to Kierkegaard's attitude towards the social and political forces shaping the modern world. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Fichte's theory of property; 2. Applying the concept of right: Fichte and Babeuf; 3. Fichte's reappraisal of Kant's theory of cosmopolitan right; 4. The relation of right to morality in Fichte's Jena theory of the state and society; 5. The role of virtue in the Addresses to the German Nation.
: I explore Rousseau's account of the problem of dependence by means of an analysis of the distinction he makes between dependence on things and dependence on men. With reference to his Second Discourse, I argue that dependence on things alone exists only in the case of primitive man in the earliest stages of the state of nature, while dependence on men is more properly to be understood as dependence on other human beings as mediated by dependence on things. I (...) go on to argue that in the light of Rousseau's account of dependence and his description in the Second Discourse of a spontaneous dependence and inequality generating process, there is a significant problem with his solution to the problem of dependence on other human beings proposed in the Social Contract. This problem can be understood in terms of the relation of the idea of will to that of necessity, and I suggest that Rousseau was himself aware of it. (shrink)
Introduction -- The symbolic form of art -- Kant's theory of the mathematical sublime and the boundlessness of the symbolic form of art -- The classical sublimity of Judaism -- The classical form of art -- The original epic -- The ideal -- The transition to the revealed religion and the romantic form of art -- The revealed religion -- Representational thought and the romantic form of art -- Traces of left-hegelianism in Hegel's lectures on aesthetics -- The end of (...) mythology -- The significance of Kierkegaard's interpretation of Don Giovanni in relation to Hegel's theory of the end of art -- The end of art -- The opera as a modern art form -- Hegel and Lukács's on the possibility of a modern epic -- The problem of a modern epic -- The modern epic and history -- Civil society as the background to the modern epic -- Myth and society : a common theme in the thought of Hegel and Sorel -- Sorel's myth of the general strike -- Myth and modern ethical life. (shrink)
It is claimed that Hegel denies the possibility of a modern epic and that his lectures on aesthetics demand the condemnation of all the art of his own time. I use the available student transcripts of his lectures on aesthetics, in conjunction with Lukács's views on the novel, to show that Hegel suggests that the novel might count as a modern epic and that it may perform a significant function in modern ethical life (Sittlichkeit) as presented in his own philosophy (...) of right. While Hegel raises questions concerning the possibility of a modern epic, he also presents the novel with a task that Lukács's interpretation of Balzac's Illusions perdues shows the novel is able to fulfill. This becomes evident when we consider Hegel's remarks on the novel in connection with his theory of civil society. (shrink)
Abstract Carl Schmitt distinguishes between political theories in terms of whether they rest on the anthropological assumption that man is evil by nature or on the anthropological assumption that man is good by nature, and he claims that liberal political theory is based on the latter assumption. Contrary to this claim, I show how Kant's liberalism is shaped by his theory of the radical evil in human nature, and that his liberalism corresponds to the characterization of liberalism that Schmitt himself (...) offers. My discussion of this issue will be shown to have certain implications with respect to the view that for Kant evil is the product of society. I show that this view is mistaken insofar as it fails to recognize that Kant's political philosophy implies that human beings require the type of society that best suits their radically evil natures, namely, a commercial one in which the ?vices of culture? largely have free play, while the state's role is limited to that of preventing the antagonisms found in society leading to the mutual destruction of its members. (shrink)
Fichte's definitions of property appear to diverge from modern common linguistic usage, especially his identification of leisure as the object of an absolute right of property, and they may even appear arbitrary. I argue that these definitions are not in fact arbitrary. Rather, any divergence from common linguistic usage can be explained in terms of a conceptual innovation which consists in expanding or modifying a concept by thinking it through, thereby generating new content. In the case of Fichte's theory of (...) property, this content turns out to be leisure as the primary object of a theory of distributive justice. The conceptual innovation found in Fichte's theory of property invites a reconceptualization of the relation between work and freedom. (shrink)
I relate the aesthetic mediation of reason and the identity of religion and mythology found in the Earliest System-Programme of German Idealism to Hegel’s account of the transition from the ancient Greek religion of art to the revealed religion (Christianity) in his theory ofabsolute spirit. While this transition turns on the idea that the revealed religion mediates reason more adequately in virtue of its form (i. e., representational thought), I argue that Hegel’s account of the limitations of religious representational thought, (...) when taken in conjunction with some of his ideas concerning Romantic art, suggests that he fails to demonstrate the necessity of the transition in question, thus undermining the triadic structure (i. e., art, religion, philosophy) of his theory of absolute spirit.Dans cet article, jelais un lien entre, d’une part, la médiation esthétique de la raison et l’identite de la religion et de la mythologie formulées dans le premier programme systématique de l’idéalisme allemand et, d’autre part, le récit que fait Hegel de la transition menant de la religion grecque antique de l’art à la religion révélée (la chrétienté) dans sa théorie de l’Esprit absolu. Bien que cette transition repose sur l’idée que la religion révélée médiatise la raison plus adéquatement grâce à sa forme (la pensée représentationnelle) , je soutiens que, si on considère parallèlement à ses idées sur l’art romantique les explications que donne Hegel au sujet des limitations de la pensée représentationnelle religieuse, ces explications laissent apercevoir qu’il échoue à démontrer la nécessité de la transition en question, ce qui a pour effet de faire s’effondrer la structure ternaire art, religion, philosophie de sa théorie de l’Esprit absolu. (shrink)
Many formal linguists hold that English pitch accent has a single function: marking focus. On the other hand, there is evidence from corpus work and from psycholinguistics that pitch accent is attracted to expressions which are unpredictable. We present a two-factor pragmatic account in which both focus and predictability contribute to the placement of accent in an English intonational phrase. On examples of so-called “second occurrence focus” and related phenomena, our account gives superior results to the one-factor accounts of Rooth (...) and B¨ uring and to Selkirk’s rival two-factor account. (shrink)
This paper is a comprehensive examination of the ethical issues surrounding artificial insemination. The interests of parents, AI children and society are identified and compared, and a variety of arguments for and against AIH and AID are examined. Although various criticisms of the natural law position are offered, this paper comes to the similar conclusion that donor artiricial insemination is not morally justified.
In his early Some Lectures concerning the Scholar’s Vocation, J. G. Fichte developed an account of the social role of the scholar. This role concerns the task of furthering human culture and progress, which Fichte considers to be a moral duty for the scholar. In these lectures, Fichte also outlined the capabilities and knowledge that the scholar needs in order to be able to fulfill the task in question, including the possession of historical knowledge. The article argues that the later (...) Addresses to the German Nation represent an attempt on Fichte’s part to realize his earlier conception of the scholar’s vocation, because these addresses aim to help usher in a new, superior epoch in human history. Particular attention is paid to the use that Fichte makes of history in them. In effect, he instrumentalizes history, and justifies his doing this in terms of a higher purpose and the ‘merely’ empirical status of historical fact and evidence. This use of history is compared to some things that Nietzsche has to say about history in his essay On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life; and it invites questions concerning the possible dangers of such a use of history and its compatibility with Fichte’s idea that the vocation of the scholar is a moral one. (shrink)
I discuss J. G. Fichte’s theory of property and its implications in relation to the claim made by C. B. Macpherson that, by broadening the meaning of the term ‘property’, it becomes possible to reconcile two principles of liberal democratic theory that seem to be at odds with each other: the right to property, understood as the right to exclude others from the use or benefit of something, and the right to use and develop one’s capacities. I argue that Fichte’s (...) broad conception of property can be viewed as an example of how this might be done. I also show, however, that Fichte demonstrates that a political reconciliation of these rights is demanded by the conceptual reconciliation of them, and that such political reconciliation may demand placing considerable limitations, in the form of state regulation and the redistribution of resources, on human freedom. (shrink)
The idea of ‘public reason’ has recently been associated with Rousseau’s views on the formation of a general will. Advocates of this idea in the Kantian tradition tend to emphasize reflective acts of rational deliberation which, I suggest, are more suited to written than to spoken language. Rousseau’s accounts of the role of spoken language as a means of expressing human needs and the role of pity in the development of a moral form of reasoning, which allows one properly to (...) take into account the interests of others, show that he cannot be so easily interpreted as an advocate of the idea of public reason. This is because his views on the importance of spoken language in democratic politics and the essential part played by the sentiment of pity in the development of moral reasoning imply the legitimacy of modes of expression in the formation of a general will that are not, in any obvious sense, compatible with the demands of public reason. (shrink)
This paper explores the sense in which belief "aims at the truth". In this course of this exploration, it discusses the difference between belief and make-believe, the nature of psychoanalytic explanation, the supposed "normativity of meaning", and related topics.
The agent portrayed in much philosophy of action is, let's face it, a square. He does nothing intentionally unless he regards it or its consequences as desirable. The reason is that he acts intentionally only when he acts out of a desire for some anticipated outcome; and in desiring that outcome, he must regard it as having some value. All of his intentional actions are therefore directed at outcomes regarded sub specie boni: under the guise of the good. This agent (...) is conceived as being capable of intentional action—and hence as being an agent—only by virtue of being a pursuer of value. I want to question whether this conception of agency can be correct. Surely, so general a capacity as agency cannot entail so narrow a cast of mind. Our moral psychology has characterized, not the generic agent, but a particular species of agent, and a particularly bland species of agent, at that. It has characterized the earnest agent while ignoring those agents who are disaffected, refractory, silly, satanic, or punk. I hope for a moral psychology that has room for the whole motley crew. I shall begin by examining why some philosophers have thought that the attitudes motivating intentional actions involve judgments of value. I shall then argue that their conception of these attitudes is incorrect. Finally, I shall argue that practical reason should not be conceived as a faculty for pursuing value. (shrink)
What happens when someone acts? A familiar answer goes like this. There is something that the agent wants, and there is an action that he believes conducive to its attainment. His desire for the end, and his belief in the action as a means, justify taking the action, and they jointly cause an intention to take it, which in turn causes the corresponding movements of the agent's body. I think that the standard story is flawed in several respects. The flaw (...) that will concern me in this paper is that the story fails to include an agent-or, more precisely, fails to cast the agent in his proper role. (shrink)