The central thesis of Derek Parfit's On What Matters is that three of the most important secular moral traditions – Kantianism, contractualism, and consequentialism – all actually converge in a way onto the same view. It is in this sense that he suggests that we may all be 'climbing the same mountain, but from different sides'. In this paper, I argue that Parfit's argument that we are all metaphorically climbing the same mountain is unsound. One reason his argument (...) does not work is that he has misunderstood the way in which a plausible rule-consequentialism should understand the supervenience of rightness on all possible acceptance levels of the ideal moral code. In place of Parfit's own understanding of this, I develop a view I call 'variable-rate rule-utilitarianism', which I argue shares the key insight of Parfit's view but avoids a fatal objection to his own articulation of that insight. Finally, I explore how this modification might allow us to still make a case that we are all 'climbing the same mountain', albeit in a very different way and for very different reasons than the ones Parfit had in mind. (shrink)
La aparición de un medio de transporte como el Ferrocarril Trasandino influyó en la percepción estética que los transeúntes formaron sobre la geografía local. La montaña surge como un elemento fundamental dentro de la poética de diversos autores, entre ellos la poeta chilena Gabriela Mistral. La cordillera y el acceso a ella, desde el Elqui hasta Los Andes, es un elemento troncal de su poesía, adquiriendo características particulares en cada etapa de su creación poética y visión política, las cuales se (...) analizarán en el presente artículo. The arrival of the Transandean Railway influenced the aesthetic perception that passers-by formed of the local geography. The mountain appears as a fundamental element of poetry in various authors, including Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral. The mountains and its access, from the Elqui to the Andes, are a core element of her poetry, acquiring particular characteristics at each stage of her poetic creation and political vision, which will be analyzed in this article. (shrink)
Despite significant scientific uncertainties and strong public opposition, there appears to be an “iron triangle” of industry, government,and consultants/contractors promoting the siting of the world’s first permanent geological repository for high-level nuclear waste and spent fuel, proposed for Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Arguing that representatives of this iron triangle have ignored important epistemological and ethical difficulties with the proposed facility, I conclude that the business climate surrounding this triangle appears to leave little room for consideration of ethical issues related to (...) public safety, environmental welfare, and citizen consent to risk. If my analysis of the Yucca Mountain case is correct and typical, then some of themost pressing questions of business ethics may concern how to break the iron triangle or, at least, how to expand it into a quadrilateral that includes the public. (shrink)
Those residing in the Rocky Mountains enjoy both nature and culture in ways not characteristic of many inhabited landscapes. Landscapes elsewhere in the United States and in Europe involve a nature-culture synthesis. An original nature, once encountered by settlers, has been transformed by a dominating culture, and on the resulting landscape, there is little experience of primordial nature. On Rocky Mountain landscapes, the model is an ellipse with two foci. Much of the landscape is in synthesis, but there is (...) much landscape where the principal determinant remains spontaneous nature, contrasted with the developed, rebuilt landscape in which the principal determinant is culture. Life in the Rockies permits both use and admiration of nature (fruited plains), with constant reminders (mountain majesties) that the human scale of values is rather tentatively localized in a more comprehensive environment. (shrink)
Upon the release of Brokeback Mountain, the conservative film critic, Michael Medved, in a television interview, predicted that a gay western – or maybe he called it a gay cowboy movie – would not attract an audience, presumably on grounds that the intersection of the audience for gay movies and the audience for westerns would yield, as the logicians say, the null set. Medved was proven wrong, as Brokeback, which cost $14 million to produce, went on to earn $83 (...) million on first release in the United States (plus $95 million abroad). But Medved was also wrong in his initial description. Although rodeos, horses, and cattle percolate through the film, Brokeback does not fit the classic American Western movie storyline. From the films of William S. Hart and Tom Mix down through Gary Cooper in The Virginian and High Noon, John Wayne in Stagecoach, Alan Ladd in Shane, and Clint Eastwood in The Unforgiven, the Western hero wears a cowboy hat, rides a horse, and carries a gun. His ultimate goal is to save the good folks from the bad guys, and he always succeeds. Brokeback, of course, is not like these films at all. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are not engaged in the Westerner’s project of vanquishing evil. In fact, Ang Lee’s film more closely resembles the stories of such star-crossed lovers as Abelard and Heloise, Tristan and Isolde, and Romeo and Juliet. More interestingly, it fits a narrative pattern common in the nineteenth-century operas of Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Wagner. In.. (shrink)
Come along with David Hinton on a series of walks through the wild beauty of Hunger Mountain, near his home in Vermont—excursions informed by the worldview he's imbibed from his many years translating the classics of Chinese poetry and ...
In summarizing key developments in the study of ethics in journalism and mass communication, problems and opportunities for the future are identified. Major activities contributing to the ethics study trend include a succession of specialized books, a journal, workshops, courses, and student writing contests. These achievements have pulled journalism ethics from the marsh of neglect to a flatland of consciousness, with a four?tiered mountain remaining to be scaled that will propel mainstream communication ethicists into the arena with a growing (...) number of critical theorists and a thrust of critical scholarship. (shrink)
Joanna Mary Firth and Jonathan Quong argue that both an instrumental account of liability to defensive harm, according to which an aggressor can only be liable to defensive harms that are necessary to avert the threat he poses, and a purely noninstrumental account which completely jettisons the necessity condition, lead to very counterintuitive implications. To remedy this situation, they offer a “pluralist” account and base it on a distinction between “agency rights” and a “humanitarian right.” I argue, first, that (...) this distinction is spurious; second, that the conclusions they draw from this distinction do not cohere with its premises; third, that even if one granted the distinction, Firth’s and Quong’s implicit premise that you can forfeit your agency rights but not your “humanitarian right” is unwarranted; fourth, that their attempt to mitigate the counterintuitive implications of their own account in the Rape case relies on mistaken ad-hoc assumptions; fifth, that even if they were successful in somewhat mitigating said counterintuitive implications, they would still not be able to entirely avoid them; and sixth, that even in the unlikely case that none of these previous five critical points are correct, Firth and Quong still fail to establish that aggressors can be liable to unnecessary defensive harm since they fail to establish that unnecessary harm can ever be defensive in the first place. (shrink)
Derek Parfit’s long-awaited work On What Matters is a very ambitious, very strange production seeking to defend both a nonreductive and nonnaturalistic but nonmetaphysical and nonontological form of cognitive intuitionism or rationalism and an ethical theory (the Triple Theory) reflecting the convergence of Kantian universalizability, Scanlonian contractualism, and rule utilitarianism. Critics have already countered that Parfit’s metaethics is unbelievable and his convergence thesis unconvincing, but On What Matters is a truly Sidgwickian work, the implications of which largely remain to be (...) worked out. Parfit does not go far enough in spelling out exactly what matters and why, what normative reasons we actually have, and where we should go from here, if we take him seriously. (shrink)
The main purpose of this paper is to offer an account of academic freedom. By way of context, it begins with a brief history of challenges to academic freedom at the University of Colorado. It then turns to the following questions. Who enjoys academic freedom and which of their activities does it protect? What is the relationship of academic freedom to constitutionally and internationally protected civil liberties? From whom or what does academic freedom provide protection? Is academic freedom compatible with (...) public accountability? What are the rationales for academic freedom? (shrink)
I provide a narrative analysis of the Apostles’ Creed as a suggested alternative to the traditional referential reading. The focus of temporal intentionality offers an analysis of the Creed which is radically dirferent from the apocalypticism of the traditional interpretations.
Current literature suggests that the adversarial legal system may undergo some changes or may even be transformed by a recent influx of women lawyers into the profession. Such research indicates that women may approach ethical problems differently than men. This paper examines the responses of family law lawyers in Vancouver, British Columbia and the surrounding Lower Mainland to a hypothetical case which requires an assessment of professional responsibilities in light of potential conflicts in personal moral values.
This paper addresses questions of friendship and political community by investigating a particular complex case, comradeship in the life of the soldier. Close attention to soldiers’ accounts of their own lives, successes and failures shows that the relationship of friendship to comradeship, and of both to the success of the soldier’s individual and communal life, is complex and tense. I focus on autobiographical accounts of basic training in order to describe, and to explore the tensions between, two positions: (1) Becoming (...) a soldier is a corrupting loss of individuality and moral sensitivity, and friendship is resistance to it. (2) Becoming a soldier is one form of flourishing, and comradeship—the soldier’s distinctive form of friendship—is one of its constitutive virtues. I draw particularly on George Orwell’s account of basic training and fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and on Tim O’Brien’s account of basic training and fighting in Vietnam. (shrink)
This paper explores the theoretical underpinnings of collaboration and ecosystem management in order to identify the relationships and processes involved in implementing ecosystem management programs through cross-sector collaboration. Ecosystem management requires a highly adaptive and resilient social-ecological governance approach, which addresses spatiality and temporality issues. In order to explore possible implementation issues with ecosystem management, propositions are developed dealing with institutional isomorphism and collective action. The paper concludes with a discussion of the theoretic underpinnings involved in implementing ecosystem management through (...) cross sector collaborations. (shrink)
Heidegger and ethics is a contentious conjunction of terms. Martin Heidegger himself rejected the notion of ethics, while his endorsement of Nazism is widely seen as unethical. This major study examines the complex and controversial issues involved in bringing Heidegger and ethics together. Working backwards through his work, from his 1964 claim that philosophy has been completed to his first major book, Being and Time, Joanna Hodge questions Heidegger's denial that his inquiries were concerned with ethics. She discovers a (...) form of ethics in Heidegger's thinking which elucidates his important distinction between metaphysics and philosophy. Opposing many contemporary views, Hodge proposes that ethics can be retrieved and questions the relation between ethics and metaphysics that Heidegger made so pervasive. (shrink)
This innovative book explores one of the most important concepts in contemporary cultural debates: the sublime. Joanna Zylinska looks at the consequences of feminism and its rethinking of sexual differences, and how it has led to the sublime tradition. She argues that what is generally considered aesthetics can now be more productive thought of in terms of ethics instead. Looking at a range of diverse discourses—Orlan's carnal art, philosophies of the everyday, the French feminism of Cixous and Irigaray, and (...) the gender theory of Judith Butler—Zylinska intertwines the boundaries of cultural theory and textual practice to produce an ethics of the feminine sublime. (shrink)
Contemporary electronic music has splintered into a dizzying assortment of genres and subgenres, communities and subcultures. Given the ideological differences among academic, popular and avant-garde electronic musicians, is it possible to derive an aesthetic theory that accounts for this variety? And is there even a place for aesthetics in twenty-first-century culture? Listening through the Noise explores genres ranging from techno to electroacoustic music, from glitch to drone music, and from dub to drones, and maintains that culturally and historically informed aesthetic (...) theory is not only possible but indispensable for understanding electronic music. The abilities of electronic music to use preexisting sounds and to create new sounds are widely known. Author Joanna Demers proceeds from this starting point to consider how electronic music is changing the way we listen not only to music, but to sound itself. The common trait among all variants of recent experimental electronic music is a concern with whether sound, in itself, bears meaning. The use in recent works of previously undesirable materials like noise, field recordings, and extremely quiet sounds has contributed to electronic music's destruction of the "musical frame," the conventions that used to set apart music from the outside world. In the void created by the disappearance of the musical frame, different philosophies for listening have emerged. Some electronic music genres insist upon the inscrutability and abstraction of sound. Others maintain that sound functions as a sign pointing to concepts or places beyond the work. But all share an approach towards listening that departs fundamentally from the expectations that have governed music listening in the West for the previous five centuries. (shrink)
Do mountains exist? The answer to this question is surely: yes. In fact, ‘mountain’ is the example of a kind of geographic feature or thing most commonly cited by English speakers (Mark, et al., 1999; Smith and Mark 2001), and this result may hold across many languages and cultures. But whether they are considered as individuals (tokens) or as kinds (types), mountains do not exist in quite the same unequivocal sense as do such prototypical everyday objects as chairs or (...) people. (shrink)
Romantic sensibility and political necessity led Humphry Davy, Britain's most prominent scientist in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, to pantheism: nature worship, involving for him a fervent belief in the immortality of the soul. Rapt with a vision of sublimity, from mountain tops or balloons, men of science in succeeding generations also found in pantheism a reason for their vocation and a way of making sense of their world. It should be seen as an alternative both to (...) active participation in church life (like Faraday's) and to a gritty agnosticism (like Huxley's), indicating again how subtle and complex relationships were between science and religion in the nineteenth century. (shrink)
This essay examines mountaineering narratives in the light of recent eco-critical scholarship to assert that their tales of intense awareness and connection reveal a more fundamental integration between human subject and natural object than our culture has imagined. North American climbing narratives show three primary modes of imagining nature: first, as an object to conquer; second, as a picturesque setting to admire; third, as the extension of a self whose identity is shaped by the interpenetration of the human and the (...) natural. The third of these modes motivates my study because this interpretation offers a lived example of the type of human connection to the natural world philosophers theorize is possible, and ecologists insist is necessary. (shrink)
The shape of the Earth's surface, its topography, is a fundamental dimension of the environment, shaping or mediating many other environmental flows or functions. But there is a major divergence in the way that topography is conceptualized in different domains. Topographic cartographers, information scientists, geomorphologists and environmental modelers typically conceptualize topographic variability as a continuous field of elevations or as some discrete approximation to such a field. Pilots, explorers, anthropologists, ecologists, hikers, and archeologists, on the other hand, typically conceptualize this (...) same variability in terms of hills and valleys, mountains and plains, barrows and trenches, that is, as (special sorts of) objects, with locations, shapes, and often names of their own. In this chapter, we sketch an approach to bridging this fundamental gap in geographic information infrastructure. (shrink)
In On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that we need to make a significant reassessment of the relationship between some central positions in moral philosophy, because, contrary to received opinion, Kantians, contractualists and consequentialists are all 'climbing the same mountain on different sides'. In Parfit's view Kant's own attempt to outline an account of moral obligation fails, but when it is modified in ways entirely congenial to his thinking, a defensible Kantian contractualism can be produced, which survives the objections (...) which are fatal for Kant's own theory. This form of contractualism would then lead rational agents to choose consequentialist moral principles. I argue that Parfit significantly misrepresents Kant's project in moral philosophy, and that no genuinely Kantian moral theory could issue in a form of consequentialism. (shrink)
'Propositionalism' is the widely held view that all intentional mental relations-all intentional attitudes-are relations to propositions or something proposition-like. Paradigmatically, to think about the mountain is ipso facto to think that it is F, for some predicate 'F'. It seems, however, many intentional attitudes are not relations to propositions at all: Mary contemplates Jonah, adores New York, misses Athens, mourns her brother. I argue, following Brentano, Husserl, Church and Montague among others, that the way things seem is the way (...) they are, and that propositionalism must be abandoned. (shrink)
Consider a typical fear episode. You are strolling down a lonely mountain lane when suddenly a huge wolf leaps towards you. A number of different interconnected elements are involved in the fear you experience. First, there is the visual and auditory perception of the wild animal and its movements. In addition, it is likely that given what you see, you may implicitly and inarticulately appraise the situation as acutely threatening. Then, there are a number of physiological changes, involving a (...) variety of systems controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Your heart races, your breathing becomes strained and your start trembling. These changes are accompanied by an expression of fear on your face: your mouth opens and your eyes widen while you stare at the wolf. There is also a kind of experience that you undergo. You are likely to feel a sort of pang, something that might consist in the perception of the physiological changes you are going through. Moreover, a number of thoughts are likely to cross your mind. You might think that the wild beast is about to tear you into pieces and that you’ll never escape from this. In addition to this, your attention focuses on the wolf and its movement, as well as, possibly, ways of escaping or defending yourself. Last, but not least, your fear is likely to come with a motivation, such as an urge to run away or to strike back. Whatever the details of the story, it is clear that a typical emotion episode involves a number of different components. Roughly, these components are a) a sensory perception or more generally an informational component, b) a kind of appraisal, d) physiological changes, c) conscious feelings, d) cognitive and attentional processes, and e) an actiontendency or more generally a motivational component. One central question in the theory of emotion is which, if any, of these components, constitute the emotion.. (shrink)
I am now typing on a computer I bought two years ago. The computer I bought is identical to the computer on which I type. My computer persists over time. Let us divide our subject matter in two. There is first the question of criteria of identity, the conditions governing when an object of a certain kind, a computer for instance, persists until some later time. There are secondly very general questions about the nature of persistence itself. Here I include (...) the question of temporal parts, as well as certain familiar paradoxes (e.g., the statue and the lump). Following John Perry (1975, Introduction), let us characterize a criterion of identity over time for F s as a way of filling in φ in the following schema: Stages S1 and S2 belong to some continuing F iff φ Defenders of temporal parts (see below) regard S1 and S2 as being temporal parts of the continuing F ; others regard S1 and S2 as different stages in the life history of the continuing F . Thus each camp can make use of Perry’s formula. It is traditional to divide such criteria into those governing persons and those governing anything else. It is further traditional to say that the criterion of identity over time for non-persons involves spatiotemporal continuity. An excellent discussion is Eli Hirsch’s The Concept of Identity1, which utilizes the notion of continuity under a sortal. Kind-terms, or sortals, are terms that specify what kind of or sort of thing an object is. Examples include ‘tree’, ‘car’, and ‘mountain’. Where F is a sortal, Hirsch’s analysis is roughly that stages belong to the same F iff they are connected by a spatiotemporally and qualitatively continuous sequence of F -stages. Unmodified, this analysis prohibits temporally discontinuous entities, such as a watch that is taken apart and then reassembled. Hirsch discusses the necessary modifications. Spatiotemporal continuity analyses face a problem when applied to the persistence of matter. The literature here has been dominated by discussion of examples provided by David Armstrong (1980) and Saul Kripke (unpublished.... (shrink)
Introduction -- John Locke and the problem of personal identity : the principium individuationis, personal immortality, and bodily resurrection -- On separation and immortality : Descartes and the nature of the soul -- On materialism and immortality or Hobbes' rejection of the natural argument for the immortality of the soul -- Henry More and John Locke on the dangers of materialism : immateriality, immortality, immorality, and identity -- Robert Boyle : on seeds, cannibalism, and the resurrection of the body -- (...) Locke's theory of personal identity in its context : a reassessment of classic objections. (shrink)
Binocular rivalry provides a useful situation for studying the relation between the temporal flow of conscious experience and the temporal dynamics of neural activity. After proposing a phenomenological framework for understanding temporal aspects of consciousness, we review experimental research on multistable perception and binocular rivalry, singling out various methodological, theoretical, and empirical aspects of this research relevant to studying the flow of experience. We then review an experimental study from our group explicitly concerned with relating the temporal dynamics of rivalrous (...) experience to the temporal dynamics of cortical activity. Drawing attention to the importance of dealing with ongoing activity and its inherent changing nature at both phenomenological and neurodynamical levels, we argue that the notions of recurrence and variability are pertinent to understanding rivalry in particular and the flow of experience in general. (shrink)
The question of enhancement occupies a prominent place not only in current bioethical debates but also in wider public discussions about our human future. In all of these, the problem of enhancement is usually articulated via two sets of questions: moral questions over its permissibility, extent and direction; and technical questions over the feasibility of different forms of regenerative and synthetic alterations to human bodies and minds. This article argues that none of the dominant positions on enhancement within the field (...) of bioethics is entirely satisfactory due to the limited, monadic, pre-technological and non-cultural conception of the human that is adopted in these models. Critically engaging with both opponents of enhancement (Habermas) and its advocates (Harris, Agar, Bostrom, Dworkin), Zylinska also takes some steps towards outlining a nonnormative ethics of enhancement. The latter sees its human and non-human subjects as always already enhanced, and hence dependent, relational and coevolving with technology. (shrink)
Kilimanjaro is a paradigmatic mountain, if any is. Consider atom Sparky, which is neither determinately part of Kilimanjaro nor determinately not part of it. Let Kilimanjaro(+) be the body of land constituted, in the way mountains are constituted by their constituent atoms, by the atoms that make up Kilimanjaro together with Sparky, and Kilimanjaro(–) the one constituted by those other than Sparky. On the one hand, there seems to be just one mountain in the vicinity of Kilimanjaro. On (...) the other hand, both Kilimanjaro(+) and Kilimanjaro(–)—and indeed many other similar things—seem to have an equal claim to be a mountain: all of them exhibit the grounds for something being a mountain—like being an elevation of the earth’s surface rising abruptly and to a large height from the surrounding level,1 or whathaveyou—; and there seems to be nothing in the vicinity with a better claim. Hence, the problem of the many. (shrink)
If one believes that vagueness is an exclusively representational phenomenon, one faces the problem of the many. In the vicinity of Kilimanjaro, there are many many ‘mountain candidates’ all, apparently, with more-or-less equal claim to be mountains. David Lewis has defended a radical claim: that all the billions of mountain candidates are mountains. This paper argues that the supervaluationist about vagueness should adopt Lewis’ proposal, on pain of losing their best explanation of the seductiveness of the sorites.
Part One addresses the question whether the fact that some persons love something, worship it, or deeply care about it, can endow moral status on that thing. I argue that the answer is “no.” While some cases lend great plausibility to the view that love or worship can endow moral status, there are other cases in which love or worship clearly fails to endow moral status. Furthermore, there is no principled way to distinguish these two types of cases, so we (...) must conclude that love or worship never endow moral status. Part Two takes up the hard question of why we have to be careful of things that others love or worship, given that the things do not thereby have moral status. I argue that it is sometimes bad for those who love or worship the things if we mistreat them. I develop an account of when love and worship, and person projects more generally, succeed in expanding the scope of what counts as good or bad for the person engaged in the project. (shrink)
In the interview conducted with Giovanna Borradori, after the attack on the World Trade Centre, in September 2001, Jacques Derrida is pressed to specify connections between his own thinking, Heidegger's deployment of the term ‘event’, and the use of the term ‘event’ to pick out the unprecedented character of that attack. Derrida intimates that the attack is, perhaps, not as unprecedented, not the ‘wholly other’ which it has been framed as being. His reading of that event is to move it (...) from a naive status, as ‘wholly other’, to a philosophically inflected thinking of the political, in the mode of the ‘wholly otherwise’, that is, in a sense to be made out here, whereby politics takes precedence over physics, as the originator of the basic components to be thought, and whereby the future takes precedence over the past, as the site at which what is arrives. The principal aim of this article is to consider how to think this counter-factual ontology, in the mode of a future anteriority. The article will set out Heidegger's move from affirming a fundamental ontology, of Dasein, to an ontology in parentheses (vom Ereignis) but will show how both of these are objectionable, on different counts, to Derrida and to Levinas. Derrida explores the options of supplementing an inadmissible thetic stance, with respect to the future, and therefore with respect to what there is, by developing the notion of the prosthetic, that which stands in for the impossible, timelessly asserted thesis. Levinas invents a new mode of phenomenology which opens a route into this ‘wholly otherwise’. These two strands of enquiry contribute to an analysis displacing these versions of ontology, in favour of a reformulation of political ontology. A subsidiary aim is to clarify Derrida's reservations with respect to the Heideggerian notion of the event. These reservations about Heidegger's usage throw light on his reluctance to deploy the term, within an analysis of the destruction of the World Trade Centre. (shrink)
John Muir, who had seen enough natural beauty for ten life times, simply fumbles his words when it comes to describing Prince William Sound: one of the richest, most glorious mountain landscapes I ever beheld— peak over peak lying deep in the sky, a thousand of them, icy and shining…. and great breadth of sun-spangled, ice-dotted waters in front…. grandeur and beauty in a thousand forms awaiting us at every turn in this bright and spacious wonderland. Prince William Sound, (...) which sits at the northernmost part of the Gulf of Alaska, defines the water border of the Chugach National Forest. Established by Teddy Roosevelt in 1907, it is next in size only to the Tongass National Forest—the largest in the .. (shrink)
The problem of the many challenges our way of counting ordinary objects. We say that on an open plain on the northern boundary of Tanzania stands one mountain, Kilimanjaro. Yet there are many distinct, overlapping, mountain-shaped aggregates of particles, each of which is an equally good candidate to be this mountain. How can it be true, then, that there is one mountain on the plain, as opposed to many?
Confucian ethics as applied to the study of business ethics often relate to the micro consideration of personal ethics and the character of a virtuous person. Actually, Confucius and his school have much to say about the morals of the public administration and the market institutions in a more macro level. While Weber emphasizes the role of culture on the development of the economy, and Marx the determining influence of the material base on ideology, we see an interaction between culture (...) – specifically Confucian business ethics – and the economy. In this paper, we are going to study this interaction in several crucial stages of development of Confucianism. The paper concludes by postulating the relevance of Confucian business ethics to the global knowledge economy. (shrink)
Some have argued that the vagueness exhibited by geographic names and descriptions such as ''Albuquerque,'' ''the Outback,'' or ''Mount Everest'' is ultimately ontological: these terms are vague because they refer to vague objects , objects with fuzzy boundaries. I take the opposite stand and hold the view that geographic vagueness is exclusively semantic, or conceptual at large. There is no such thing as a vague mountain. Rather, there are many things where we conceive a mountain to be, each (...) with its precise boundary, and when we say ''Everest'' we are just being vague as to which thing we are referring to. This paper defends this view against some plausible objections. (shrink)
Chris Pincock is offended that I presumed to write a historical overview of analytic philosophy without filling it with scholarly detail provided by specialists. Instead of relying on them, I simply read the works of leading philosophers and tried to figure out for myself what they were up to. Didn’t I know that this is impossible? I myself point out in the Epilogue that the history of philosophy is now a specialized discipline. How, Pincock wonders, could I have failed to (...) recognize the implications of this lesson for my own project? Don’t try this at home! Read the original works, if you must, but don’t dare say anything about the views you find – let alone evaluate them by contemporary standards -- unless you first vet your remarks with those in the archives. History isn’t easy, you know! On the contrary, Pincock tells us, “the overriding lesson of work in the history of analytic philosophy is that history is hard.” Conveying that lesson should, he tells us, be the main goal of any historical introduction to the subject. “Above all,” he says, “I would hope that the reader would finish reading such a book with an appreciation of the difficulties inherent in the study of the history of philosophy.” This, I submit, is self-serving nonsense. Conveying its own difficulty is not an overriding goal of any worthwhile intellectual enterprise. The chief difficulty that daunts Pincock is, of course, the secondary literature produced by those like himself. According to him, any proper historical introduction “would have to build on the mountain of books and papers” – by which he means the mountain of secondary literature – and, “judiciously choose from all the proposed interpretations of those details,” carefully referencing alternative interpretations. I disagree. There are different kinds of historical work, with different goals, which make different contributions. My goal was to present analytic philosophy by identifying both its most important 2 achievements and those of its failures from which we have the most to learn.. (shrink)
Nietzsche claimed to be a philosopher of the future, but he was appropriated as a philosopher of Nazism. His work inspired a long study by Martin Heidegger and essays by a host of lesser disciples attached to the Third Reich. In 1935, however, Karl Jaspers set out to "marshall against the National Socialists the world of thought of the man they had proclaimed as their own philosopher." The year after publishing Nietzsche , Jaspers was discharged from his professorship at Heidelberg (...) University by order of the Nazi leadership. Jaspers does not fall into the same trap as idealogues do, citing bits and pieces from Nietzsche's work to reinforce already held opinions. Instead, he openly shows the wide range of Nietzsche's views, including his endorsement of wars and warriors, his prophecies of world struggle and "new masters," and the cruel arrogance of the supermen. Yet Jaspers finds Nietzsche's philosophy to be extraordinary not only because he foresaw all the monstrosities of the twentieth century, but also because he saw through them. "The appearance which Nietzsche's work presents can be expressed figuratively: it is as though a mountain wall had been dynamited the rock, already more or less shaped, conveys the idea of a whole. But the building for the sake of which the dynamiting seems to have been done has not been erected. However, the fact that the work lies about like a heap of ruins does not appear to conceal its spirit from the one who happens to have found the key to the possibilities of construction for him, many fragments fit together. But not unambiguously many functionally suitable pieces are present in numerous, only slightly varied repetitions, others reveal themselves as precious and unique forms, as though each were meant to furnish a cornerstone somewhere or a keystone for an arch." -- Karl Jaspers, from the introduction. (shrink)