Syracuse University, NY, USA This paper seeks to demonstrate that hermeneutics is a powerful conceptual tool for exploring the current trend towards theorizing justice as a conversation. Specifically we explore the work of John Rawls in order to describe the particular variety of hermeneu tics at work in both 'political liberalism' and 'justice as fairness' and to critique this hermeneutics from the perspective of the ontological hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Using the critique of Quinean pragmatism found in Joseph Rouse's epistemology, (...) we draw a par allel between the 'hermeneutics as translation' in Quine and Rawls's public reason. This parallel, we argue, helps us better understand the features and the limitations of political liberalism, especially when Rawls's hermeneutics is contrasted with the possibility of a theory of justice inspired by Gadamer. Key Words: democracy dialogue Gadamer hermeneutics justice pluralism Quine Rawls. (shrink)
This paper examines the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the light of the early Confucian thinker Mencius, arguing in essence that Mencian theories of moral development and self-cultivation can help us to recover the moral significance of Twain's novel. Although 'ethical criticisms' of Huckleberry Finn share a long history, I argue that most interpretations have failed to appreciate the moral significance of Jim, either by focusing on the moral arc of Huck in isolation or by casting Jim in one-dimensional terms (...) simply as a symbol or example of human dignity. By invoking the Mencian ideas of 'moral power' ( de ), human goodness, and the virtues of sympathy and humaneness, this study attempts to bring into relief the many ways that Jim, particularly in his role as an exemplar, functions as an active force in the moral life of Huck. It is hoped that this revised Mencian reading of Huckleberry Finn can restore the moral center of the novel and contribute to the growing discussion on the virtues in moral education. (shrink)
To be honest, I have almost nothing critical to say about Jim’s presentation (and this is quite unusual for a cranky analytic philosopher like me!). What Jim has said is all very sensible, and his examples are very well chosen, etc. So, instead of making critical remarks, I will try to expand a little on one of the themes Jim briefly touched upon in his talk: the contextuality of probability.
Conrad’s Lord Jim presents not only a paradigmatic case of weakness of will, but an equally paradigmatic case of the enormous difficulties that attend fitting weakness of will into our other moral attitudes, particularly those relating to moral worth and moral shame. Conrad’s general conception of character and morality is deeply Aristotelian in many respects, somewhat Kantian in others. The essay traces out the intuitive strengths and philosophical difficulties that both an Aristotelian and a Kantian conception will have before the (...) problem of weakness of will, and argues that the ambiguity in Conrad’s treatment of Jim’s case is the reflection of the clash between these two equally compelling, incompatible conceptions of the self and moral worth. (shrink)
Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man is a modern myth. Like many ancient myths it seems to have the structure of a rite of passage analysed by van Gennep into three stages: separation, marginal existence and reintegration. Separation is precipitated by a traumatic event and the marginal state is characterized by extraordinary experiences and feats. However, Jarmusch's tale does not quite fit the ancient initiation pattern since the last stage, reintegration, is at least prima facie missing. This already undermines the social function (...) of initiation and warps the significance of the myth. The modern town of ?Machine?, where the marginal existence of Blake is sealed, looms in the background of the story of his final journey to the world of spirits whence he had come. But Blake cannot quite embrace the story in which he plays the protagonist. The story is cobbled together by the Native American called ?Nobody.? Blake sceptically resigns himself to his fate. Why does Blake do this? Jarmusch manipulates the generic structure of the initiation tale in order to say something culturally significant about the possibility of living a meaningful life in a world dominated by the machine. In other words, he tells a modern myth. What does his tale say? (shrink)
The late Jim Harris' theory of the science of law, and his theoretical work on human rights and property, have been a challenge and stimulus to legal scholars for the past twenty-five years. This collection of essays, originally conceived as a festschrift and now offered to the memory of a greatly admired scholar, assesses Harris' contribution across many fields of law and legal philosophy. The chapters are written by some of the foremost specialists writing today, and reflect the wide range (...) of Harris's work, and the depth of his influence on legal studies. They include contributions on topics as diverse as the nature of law and legal reasoning, rival theories of property rights and their impact on practical questions before the courts; the nature of precedent in legal argument; and the evolving concept of human rights and its place in legal discourse. -/- With a foreword by the Honourable Justice Edwin Cameron, this volume celebrates the life and work of Jim Harris. (shrink)
This book comprises essays in law and legal theory celebrating the life and work of Jim Harris. The topics addressed reflect the wide range of Harris's work, and the depth of his influence on legal studies. They include the nature of law and legal reasoning, rival theories of property rights and their impact on practical questions before the courts; the nature of precedent in legal argument; and the evolving concept of human rights and its place in legal discourse.
According to Jim Pryor’s dogmatism, when you have an experience with content p, you have prima facie justification to believe p that does not rest on your independent justification or evidence to believe any proposition. Although dogmatism is intuitive and seems to have an antisceptical punch, it has been targeted by different objections. In this paper I aim to answer the objections by Roger White according to which dogmatism is incoherent with the Bayesian account of how evidence affects rational credences. (...) If this were true, the rational acceptability of dogmatism would be seriously questionable. I respond that these objections don’t get off the ground because they assume that experiences and reports of experience have the same evidential force, whereas the dogmatist is uncommitted to this assumption. I also elucidate what gives dogmatism its antisceptical punch by drawing from recent papers by Brian Weatherson, Peter Kung and Pryor himself in which alternative responses to White’s challenge are delineated. I argue that my rejoinder is more complete and simpler than these responses, for the latter permit White’s objections to go through in many cases, whereas my response doesn’t. Furthermore according to these responses, dogmatism is tenable only if Bayesianism is replaced with alternative formal frameworks, which is not a requirement of my rejoinder. (shrink)
(Author’s reply at “Author-Meets-Critics” session (on Paul Redding, Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought) at the Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, Vancouver, April 10, 2009. Robert Brandom’s “critic’s” contribution is available as “Hegel and Analytic Philosophy” from his website http://www.pitt.edu/~brandom/.).
“Moorean Dogmatist” responses to external world skepticism endorse courses of reasoning that many people find objectionable. This paper seeks to locate this dissatisfaction in considerations about epistemic responsibility. I sketch a theory of immediate warrant and show how it can be combined with plausible “inferential internalist” demands arising from considerations of epistemic responsibility. The resulting view endorses immediate perceptual warrant but forbids the sort of reasoning that “Moorean Dogmatism” would allow. A surprising result is that Dogmatism’s commitment to immediate epistemic (...) warrant isn’t enough to avoid certain standard arguments for skepticism about the external world. (shrink)
The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward (2003), has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as (...) presently formulated it is either unable to prefer high-level explanations to low, or systematically overshoots, recommending explanations at so high of a level as to be virtually vacuous. (shrink)
At the last meeting, Tim Crane gave a talk in which he made play with a distinction between ‘believing in’ and ‘believing that’. And he claimed that this distinction could be put to serious philosophical work of interest to serious metaphysicians. My hunch at the time was that this distinction in fact can’t bear any real weight. But I can’t now reconstruct Tim’s own arguments sufficiently to give a fair evaluation of them. However, Tim did say that the distinction he (...) wanted to draw, and at least some of the work to which he wanted to put the distinction, was grounded in a paper on ‘Believing in Things’ by Zolt´ an Szab´ o. So in this talk, I’ll see what we can get out of that paper. And, as far as I can recall Tim’s paper, I think it is fair to say the following. If Szab´. (shrink)
As the_number of clinical trials continues to grow, there is an increasing need for education and training in the field. The clinical research climate is less forgiving of errors and oversights and therefore requires more knowledge of regulations and requirements. This brand new edition details new laws and regulations in protecting children participating in clinical trials and how a new focus on privacy of individual health information in the United States has changed how medical records are handled. Includes a manual (...) for investigators, research nurses and study coordinators with minimal experience or who are new to clinical research An easy-to-read and open text design using ‘sidebars’ of examples and information boxes related to the main text Includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary Duke Clinical Research Institute is the world’s largest academic clinical research organisation and is well known and respected within the clinical research community. (shrink)
Counterfactuals all the way down? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9437-9 Authors Jim Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA John W. Carroll, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8103, USA Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#3125—Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 20 Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1. (shrink)
Using Jim Woodward's Counterfactual Dependency account as an example, I argue that causal claims about indeterministic systems cannot be satisfactorily analysed as including counterfactual conditionals among their truth conditions because the counterfactuals such accounts must appeal to need not have truth values. Where this happens, counterfactual analyses transform true causal claims into expressions which are not true.
This paper compares the relative merits of two alternatives to traditional accounts of causal explanation: Jim Woodward's counterfactual invariance account, and the Mechanistic account of Machamer, Darden, and Craver. Mechanism wins (a) because we have good causal explanations for chaotic effects whose production does not exhibit the counterfactual regularities Woodward requires, and (b)because arguments suggested by Belnap's and Green's discussion of prediction (in'Facing the Future' chpt 6)show that the relevant counterfactuals about ideal interventions on non-deterministic and deterministic systems lack truth (...) value. (shrink)
Nylan, Michael, and Thomas Wilson, Lives of Confucius: Civilization’s Greatest Sage Through the Ages Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11712-012-9273-2 Authors Jim Peterman, Department of Philosophy, Sewanee: The University of the South, 735 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37375, USA Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009.
Derrida is one of those annoying geniuses you can take a class on, read half-a-dozen books by and still have no idea what he’s talking about. Derrida’s ‘writing’ is definitely confusing (it’s like he’s pulling the rug out from under the rug that he pulled out from under philosophy). But beneath the confusion, like the heartbeat of a bird in your hand, you can feel Derrida’s electric genius. It draws you to it; you want to understand it…but it’s so confusing. (...) Jim Powell’s Derrida For Beginners is the clearest explanation of Derrida and deconstruction presently available in our solar system. Powell guides us through blindingly obscure texts like Grammatology (Derrida’s deconstruction of Saussure, Le;vi Strauss, Roussseau), “Diffe;rance” (his essay on language and life), Dissemination (his dismantling of Plato, his rap on Mallarme;), along with his other masterpieces. (shrink)
The spiritual rewards and intellectual challenges of Eastern philosophy are revealed in this visually stunning book, illustrated by Joe Lee and with 19th-century engravings. Eastern philosophy is not only an intellectual pursuit, but one that involves one’s entire being. Much of it is so deeply entwined with the non-intellectual art of meditation, that the two are impossible to separate. In this survey of the major philosophies of India, China, Tibet and Japan, Jim Powell draws upon his knowledge of Sanskrit and (...) Chinese, as well as decades of meditation. Whether tackling Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Dogen, the Dalai Lama or Patanjal–Powell’s insights are deeply illuminating. All the major philosophies of India, China, Tibet and Japan are explained and everyone, from beginner to expert, will find Eastern Philosophy For Beginners an insightful overview. (shrink)
If you are like most people, you’re not sure what Postmodernism is. And if this were like most books on the subject, it probably wouldn’t tell you. Besides what a few grumpy critics claim, Postmodernism is not a bunch of meaningless intellectual mind games. On the contrary, it is a reaction to the most profound spiritual and philosophical crises of our time–the failure of the Enlightenment. Jim Powell takes the position that Postmodernism is a series of “maps” that help people (...) find their way through a changing world. Postmodernism For Beginners features the thoughts of Foucault on power and knowledge, Jameson on mapping the postmodern, Baudrillard on the media, Harvey on time-space compression, Derrida on deconstruction and Deleuze and Guattari on rhizomes. The book also discusses postmodern artifacts such as Madonna, cyberpunk sci-fi, Buddhist ecology and teledildonics. (shrink)
The standard account of weakness of will identifies it with akrasia, that is, with action against one's best judgment. Elsewhere I have argued that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. Many cases of weak willed action will not be akratic: in over-readily abandoning a resolution an agent may well do something that they judge at the time to be best. Indeed, in so far as temptation typically gives rise to judgment shift -- to (...) a tendency to change one's judgment so that one values the tempting option as the best -- weak willed action will typically be akratic. But conversely, strong willed action now looks as though it will be akratic. I argue though that it need not be, once we distinguish between actual judgment, and dispositions to judge. Within this framework, the issue of inverse akrasia looks rather different. I argue that whilst Huckleberry Finn plausibly does show weakness of will in abandoning his resolve to turn Jim in, it is far from clear that he is akratic: a point brought out well in Twain's later additions to the text. Whilst cases of inverse akrasia are clearly theoretically possible, I suggest that, given cognitive dissonance mechanisms, they are unlikely to be very common. (shrink)
Huck Finn's refusal to turn in his friend Jim was not a failure of rationality. It is partly on the basis of such examples that many theorists conclude that the requirements of ethics cannot be the requirements of practical reason. In this essay I will defend rationalism against these worries. But I hope to do more than that. I intend to show how the rationality of people like those described above is compatible with two plausible versions of internalism. Second, I (...) will show how properly formulated rationalism serves to explain these plausible internalist theses along with the plausible cases of rational amorality and immorality which they allow. The result will be that a plausible internalism and a well-formulated rationalism are mutually supporting theories. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are no people. If identity isn't what matters in survival, psychological connectedness isn't what matters either. Further, fissioning cases do not support the claim that connectedness is what matters. I consider Peter Unger's view that what matters is a continuous physical realization of a core psychology. I conclude that if identity isn't what matters in survival, nothing matters. This conclusion is deployed to argue that there are no people. Objections to Eliminativism are considered, especially that (...) morality cannot survive the loss of persons. (shrink)
This paper provides a restatement and defense of the data/ phenomena distinction introduced by Jim Bogen and me several decades ago (e.g., Bogen and Woodward, The Philosophical Review, 303–352, 1988). Additional motivation for the distinction is introduced, ideas surrounding the distinction are clarified, and an attempt is made to respond to several criticisms.
0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk on the (...) day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possible worlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possible worlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual.. (shrink)
Contextualists offer "high-low standards" practical cases to show that a variety of knowledge standards are in play in different ordinary contexts. These cases show nothing of the sort, I maintain. However Keith DeRose gives an ingenious argument that standards for knowledge do go up in high-stakes cases. According to the knowledge account of assertion (Kn), only knowledge warrants assertion. Kn combined with the context sensitivity of assertability yields contextualism about knowledge. But is Kn correct? I offer a rival account of (...) warranted assertion and argue that it beats Kn as a response to the "knowledge" version of Moore's Paradox. (shrink)
Advance directives typically have two defects. First, most advance directives fail to enable people to effectively avoid unwanted medical intervention. Second, most of them have the potential of ending your life in ways you never intended, years before you had to die.
This was originally written and presented at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers on Folk Psychology vs. Mental Simulation: How Minds Understand Minds, run by Robert Gordon at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, June-July 1999. It has been only lightly revised since, and should be considered a rough draft. Needless to say, the ideas herein owe a lot to what I learned at the seminar from Robert Gordon and the other participants, particularly Jim (...) Garson. However, any errors are my responsibility alone. (shrink)
The Principle of Credulity: 'It is basic to human knowledge of the world that we believe things are as they seem to be in the absence of positive evidence to the contrary' [Swinburne 1996: 133]. This underlies the Evidential Problem of Evil, which goes roughly like this: ‘There appears to be a lot of suffering, both animal and human, that does not result in an equal or greater utility. So there's probably some pointless suffering. As God's existence precludes pointless suffering, (...) theism is implausible.’ CORNEA is the principle that observation O raises hypothesis H's probability only if O is more probable given H than it is given not-H. Theists sometimes maintain that apparently pointless suffering is just as likely given theism as atheism (I support this claim by appealing to a Lewisian account of the relevant counterfactuals). Given CORNEA, therefore, what we see of suffering does not make theism unlikely. I maintain that a consequence of so deploying CORNEA is that CORNEA and the Principle of Credulity are incompatible. We are left with a skeptical paradox. CORNEA is a consequence of Bayes’s Theorem, I argue; but it is incompatible with a presupposition of empirical science, namely, that appearances create epistemic warrant, ceteris paribus. External-world probability skepticism follows. I treat the paradox as real. First, I offer an account of how we strike a balance in practice between CORNEA, on the one hand, and the Principle of Credulity and the scientific enterprise on the other. Second, I try to resolve the paradox outright by rejecting the Principle of Credulity and maintaining that the scientific project remains well motivated even allowing probability skepticism. On either response to the paradox, the Evidential Problem of Evil continues to have serious, but defeasible, force against theism. (shrink)
Here is a simple counterexample to David Lewis’s causal influence account of causation, one that is especially illuminating due to its connection to what Lewis himself writes: it is a variant of his trumping example.
This paper is a reply to D'Costa's article ("Religious Studies," 32, pp. 223-32) in which he argues that there is no such position as religious pluralism because in distinguishing between, e.g., Christianity or Buddhism, and Nazism or the Jim Jones cult, a criterion is involved and to use a criterion is a form of exclusivism. In reply I point out that this sense of 'exclusivism', as consisting in the use of criteria, is self-destructive; that the pluralistic hypothesis, as a meta-theory (...) about the religions, has a different logical status from the creeds of the historical religions; and I also show the origin of the ethnical criterion used by the religious pluralist who stands within one or other of the great world faiths. (shrink)
An inverse akratic act is one who believes X, all things considered, is the correct act, and yet performs ~X, where ~X is the correct act. A famous example of such a person is Huck Finn. He believes that he is wrong in helping Jim, and yet continues to do so. In this paper I investigate Huck’s nature to see why he performs such acts contrary to his beliefs. In doing so, I explore the nature of empathy and show (...) how powerful Huck’s empathic feelings are. Drawing from Martin L. Hoffman, I show the relationship between empathy and a principle of justice. This relationship leads to Huck acting virtuously, as Rosalind Hursthouse maintains. (shrink)
This paper provides an account of reparationsin general and then presents briefly oneexplanation of why many present day AfricanAmericans believe they are entitled toreparations from the U.S. Government.This explanation should not be seen as a finaljustification, but only as an indication whythe demand for reparations for AfricanAmericans might be seen a plausible. Next, ifit is reasonable to assume that reparations toAfrican Americans are plausible, I then go onto explain why reparations might be necessaryto fill the breech that is perceived to (...) existbetween many African Americans and theirgovernment. This explanation will involve anexamination of the relationship between threeconcepts: forgiveness, reconciliation, andreparations. Then I explore why an apology orreparations for slavery and Jim Crow might benecessary for reconciliation between manyAfrican Americans and their government.Finally, I examine the contention that thelegislative process can be used to obtain anapology or reparations from the government. (shrink)
In the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in Moore’s Proof of the existence of an external world, which is now often rendered as follows:1 (I) Here’s a hand (II) If there is a hand here, there is an external world Therefore (III) There is an external world The contemporary debate has been mostly triggered by Crispin Wright’s influential—conservative —“Facts and certainty” and further fostered by Jim Pryor’s recent—liberal—“What’s wrong with Moore’s argument?”.2 This debate is worth (...) surveying with care because—so I shall contend—it will help us see that, in fact, it allows for an important view that, so far, hasn’t been explicitly considered. The critical survey will be the task of the next two sections, while, in the remaining.. (shrink)
Nico Silins has proposed and defended a form of Liberalism about perception that, he thinks, is a good compromise between the Dogmatism of Jim Pryor and others, and the Conservatism of Roger White, Crispin Wright, and others. In particular, Silins argues that his theory can explain why having justification to believe the negation of skeptical hypotheses is a necessary condition for having justification to believe ordinary propositions, even though (contra the Conservative) the latter is not had in virtue of the (...) former. I argue that Silins's explanation is unsuccessful, and hence that we should prefer either White/Wright-style Conservatism (which can explain this necessary condition) or Pryor-style Dogmatism (which denies that this is a necessary condition). (shrink)
In order to understand both consciousness and the Freudian unconscious we need to understand the notion of innerness that we apply to the mind. We can partly do so via the use of the theory of conceptual metaphor, and this casts light on a number of related topics.
I argue that being wide awake is an epistemic virtue which enables me to recognize immediately that I'm wide awake. Also I argue that dreams are imaginings and that the wide awake mind can immediately discern the difference between imaginings and vivid sense experience. Descartes need only pinch himself.
A recent development in philosophical scholarship on reparations for black chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation is reliance upon social science in normative arguments for reparations. Although there are certainly positive things to be said in favor of an empirically informed normative argument for black reparations, given the depth of empirical disagreement about the causes of persistent racial inequalities, and the ethos of 'post-racial' America, the strongest normative argument for reparations may be one that goes through irrespective of how we (...) ultimately explain the causes of racial inequalities. By illuminating the interplay between normative political philosophy and social scientific explanations of racial inequality in the prevailing corrective justice argument for black reparations, I shall explain why an alternative normative argument, which is not tethered to a particular empirical explanation of racial inequality, may be more appealing. (shrink)
Recent work in neuroscience accords with research in attachment and developmental psychology in enabling us to understand both consciousness and the Freudian unconscious in the context of the Bayesian brain.
In ‘A Non-Pragmatic Vindication of Probabilism’, Jim Joyce attempts to ‘depragmatize’ de Finetti’s prevision argument for the claim that our partial beliefs ought to satisfy the axioms of probability calculus. In this paper, I adapt Joyce’s argument to give a non-pragmatic vindication of various versions of David Lewis’ Principal Principle, such as the version based on Isaac Levi's account of admissibility, Michael Thau and Ned Hall's New Principle, and Jenann Ismael's Generalized Principal Principle. Joyce enumerates properties that must be had (...) by any measure of the distance from a set of partial beliefs to the set of truth values; he shows that, on any such measure, and for any set of partial beliefs that violates the probability axioms, there is a set that satisfies those axioms that is closer to every possible set of truth values. I replace truth values by objective chances in his argument; I show that for any set of partial beliefs that violates the probability axioms or a version of the Principal Principle, there is a set that satisfies them that is closer to every possible set of objective chances. (shrink)
Jim Stone has argued that a multiversal version of Modal Realism together with Counterpart Theory cannot account for a certain intuitive possibility. Roughly, it is the possibility that all free moral choices of a certain sort are the right choices in all cases in the multiverse. The present work offers an explanation of how the metaphysics in question can account for the intuitive possibility in question.
This paper develops an account of explanation in biology which does not involve appeal to laws of nature, at least as traditionally conceived. Explanatory generalizations in biology must satisfy a requirement that I call invariance, but need not satisfy most of the other standard criteria for lawfulness. Once this point is recognized, there is little motivation for regarding such generalizations as laws of nature. Some of the differences between invariance and the related notions of stability and resiliency, due respectively to (...) Sandra Mitchell and Brian Skyrms, are explored. (shrink)
Skepticism about the external world may very well be correct, so the question is in order: what theory of knowledge flows from skepticism itself? The skeptic can give a relatively simple and intuitive account of knowledge by identifying it with indubitable certainty. Our everyday `I know that p' claims, which typically are part of practical projects, deploy the ideal of knowledge to make assertions closely related to, but weaker than, knowledge claims. The truth of such claims is consistent with skepticism; (...) various other vexing problems don't arise. In addition, even if no claim about the world outside my mind can be more probable than its negation, the project of pure scientific research remains well motivated. (shrink)
Empiricists claim that in accepting a scientific theory one should not commit oneself to claims about things that are not observable in the sense of registering on human perceptual systems (according to Van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism) or experimental equipment (according to what I call liberal empiricism ). They also claim scientific theories should be accepted or rejected on the basis of how well they save the phenomena in the sense delivering unified descriptions of natural regularities among things that meet their (...) conditions for observability. I argue that empiricism is both unfaithful to real world scientific practice, and epistemically imprudent, if not incoherent. To illuminate scientific practice and save regularity phenomena one must commit oneself to claims about causal mechanisms that can be detected from data, but do not register directly on human perceptual systems or experimental equipment. I conclude by suggesting that empiricists should relax their standards for acceptable beliefs. (shrink)
Do I have a special reason to care about my future, as opposed to yours? We reject the common belief that I do. Putting our thesis paradoxically, we say that nothing matters in survival: nothing in our continued existence justifies any special self-concern. Such an "extreme" view is standardly tied to ideas about the metaphysics of persons, but not by us. After rejecting various arguments against our thesis, we conclude that simplicity decides in its favor. Throughout the essay we honor (...) Jim Rachels, whose final days exemplified his own unselfish morality as well as the “neutralist” ideal we espouse. As an appendix, we include the last original work to be published by James Rachels, in which he criticizes Sidgwick’s most famous defense of egoism. (shrink)
Donald Davidson has claimed that for every logical truth 5 of a language L, a theory of meaning for L will entail that S is a logical truth of L. Jim Edwards has argued (2002) that this claim is false if we take 'entails' to mean 'has as a logical consequence. In this paper, I first show that, pace Edwards, Davidson's claim is correct even under this strong reading. I then discuss the argument given by Edwards and offer a diagnosis (...) of where he went wrong. (shrink)