"But science in the making, science as an end to be pursued, is as subjective and psychologically conditioned as any other branch of human endeavor-- so much so that the question, What is the purpose and meaning of science? receives quite different answers at different times and from different sorts of people" (Einstein 1934, p. 112).
Plato on Knowledge and Forms brings together a set of connected essays by Gail Fine, in her main area of research since the late 1970s: Plato's metaphysics and epistemology. She discusses central issues in Plato's metaphysics and epistemology, issues concerning the nature and extent of knowledge, and its relation to perception, sensibles, and forms; and issues concerning the nature of forms, such as whether they are universals or particulars, separate or immanent, and whether they are causes. A specially written (...) introduction draws together the themes of the volume, which will reward the attention of anyone interested in Plato or in ancient metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
Kit Fine develops a Fregean theory of abstraction, and suggests that it may yield a new philosophical foundation for mathematics, one that can account for both our reference to various mathematical objects and our knowledge of various mathematical truths. The Limits of Abstraction breaks new ground both technically and philosophically.
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s Semantic Relationism is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new Blackwell/Brown (...) Lectures in Philosophy series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
The Peri ide^on (On Ideas) is the only work in which Aristotle systematically sets out and criticizes arguments for the existence of Platonic forms. Gail Fine presents the first full-length treatment in English of this important but neglected work. She asks how, and how well, Aristotle understands Plato's theory of forms, and why and with what justification he favors an alternative metaphysical scheme. She examines the significance of the Peri ide^on for some central questions about Plato's theory of forms--whether, (...) for example, there are forms corresponding to every property or only to some, and if only to some, then to which ones; whether forms are universals, particulars or both; and whether they are meanings, properties or both. Fine also provides a general discussion of Plato's theory of forms, and of our evidence about the Peri ide^on and its date, scope, and aims. While she pays careful attention to the details of the text, she also relates it to contemporary philosophical concerns. The book will be valuable for anyone interested in metaphysics ancient or modern. (shrink)
In this new edition, Arthur Fine looks at Einstein's philosophy of science and develops his own views on realism. A new Afterword discusses the reaction to Fine's own theory. "What really led Einstein . . . to renounce the new quantum order? For those interested in this question, this book is compulsory reading."--Harvey R. Brown, American Journal of Physics "Fine has successfully combined a historical account of Einstein's philosophical views on quantum mechanics and a discussion of some (...) of the philosophical problems associated with the interpretation of quantum theory with a discussion of some of the contemporary questions concerning realism and antirealism. . . . Clear, thoughtful, [and] well-written."--Allan Franklin, Annals of Science "Attempts, from Einstein's published works and unpublished correspondence, to piece together a coherent picture of 'Einstein realism.' Especially illuminating are the letters between Einstein and fellow realist Schrodinger, as the latter was composing his famous 'Schrodinger-Cat' paper."--Nick Herbert, New Scientist "Beautifully clear. . . . Fine's analysis is penetrating, his own results original and important. . . . The book is a splendid combination of new ways to think about quantum mechanics, about realism, and about Einstein's views of both."--Nancy Cartwright, Isis. (shrink)
Ben Fine traces the origins of social capital through the work of Becker, Bourdieu and Coleman and comprehensively reviews the literature across the social sciences. The text is uniquely critical of social capital, explaining how it avoids a proper confrontation with political economy and has become chaotic. This highly topical text addresses some major themes, including the shifting relationship between economics and other social sciences, the 'publish or perish' concept currently burdening scholarly integrity, and how a social science interdisciplinarity (...) requires a place for political economy together with cultural and social theory. (shrink)
Abstract Jonathan Weisberg (Analysis, 70(3), pp. 431–438, 2010 ) argues that, given that life exists, the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life does not confirm the design hypothesis. And if the fact that life exists confirms the design hypothesis, fine-tuning is irrelevant. So either way, fine-tuning has nothing to do with it. I will defend a design argument that survives Weisberg’s critique—the fact that life exists supports the design hypothesis, but it only does so (...) given fine-tuning. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s10670-011-9322-y Authors Darren Bradley, Philosophy Department, 160 Convent Ave, New York, NY 10031, USA Journal Erkenntnis Online ISSN 1572-8420 Print ISSN 0165-0106. (shrink)
The Fine-tuning argument takes the existence of life as evidence that an agent had a hand in making the universe. The argument is thought to hinge on the claim that ‘fine-tuning’ of various parameters is required for life to evolve. Jonathan Weisberg argues that even granting that life can provide evidence for design, further data about the fine-tuning required add nothing to the case. Weisberg charges the argument rests on unsupported assumptions about a designer’s preference for (...) a fine-tuned universe (over and above favouring life). I argue that he is mistaken. The assumptions that Weisberg grants (for the sake of argument) are sufficient to make fine-tuning relevant to design. (shrink)
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
It is argued that current solutions to the question of how to individuate events do not work. Jonathan Bennett's thesis that the indeterminacy here is only semantic, not ontological, is refuted. An alternative account of why events resemble facts (although their identity criteria are less fine-grained) is defended.
Could God have created a better universe? Well, the fundamental scientific laws and parameters of the universe have to be within a certain miniscule range, for a life-sustaining universe to develop: the universe must be ‘Fine Tuned’. Therefore the ‘embryonic universe’ that came into existence with the ‘big bang’ had to be either exactly as it was or within a certain tiny range, for there to develop a life-sustaining universe. If it is better that there exist a life-sustaining universe (...) than not, then it was better that the embryonic universe was one of this small set of very similar embryonic universes than that it was not. Furthermore, there are no firm grounds for claiming that of this small set of very similar embryonic universes, there is one which would have developed into a universe better than ours. Therefore there are no firm grounds for claiming that God could have created a better universe than ours. (shrink)
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian. His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God's holiness. The first is articulated in Edwards' defense of theological determinism, in a doctrine of occasionalism, and in his insistence that physical objects are only collections of sensible “ideas” while finite minds are mere assemblages of “thoughts” or “perceptions.” As the only real (...) cause or substance underlying physical and mental phenomena, God is “being in general,” the “sum of all being.” -/- Edwards' second theme is articulated in accounts of God's end in creation, and of the nature of true virtue and true beauty. God creates in order to manifest a holiness which consists in a benevolence which alone is truly beautiful. Genuine human virtue is an imitation of divine benevolence and all finite beauty is an image of divine loveliness. True virtue is needed to discern this beauty, however, and to reason rightly about “divine things.”. (shrink)
Roger White (God and design, Routledge, London, 2003) claims that while the fine-tuning of our universe, $\alpha $ , may count as evidence for a designer, it cannot count as evidence for a multiverse. First, I will argue that his considerations are only correct, if at all, for a limited set of multiverses that have particular features. As a result, I will argue that his claim cannot be generalised as a statement about all multiverses. This failure to generalise, I (...) will argue, is also a feature of design hypotheses. That is, design hypotheses can likewise be made insensitive or sensitive to the evidence of fine-tuning as we please. Second, I will argue that White is mistaken about the role that this evidence plays in fine-tuning discussions. That is, even if the evidence of fine-tuning appears to support one particular hypothesis more strongly than another, this does not always help us in deciding which hypothesis to prefer. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is analyzing to which extent the multiverse hypothesis provides a real explanation of the peculiarities of the laws and constants in our universe. First we argue in favor of the thesis that all multiverses except Tegmark’s “mathematical multiverse” are too small to explain the fine tuning, so that they merely shift the problem up one level. But the “mathematical multiverse" is surely too large. To prove this assessment, we have performed a number of experiments (...) with cellular automata of complex behavior, which can be considered as universes in the mathematical multiverse. The analogy between what happens in some automata (in particular Conway’s “Game of Life") and the real world is very strong. But if the results of our experiments can be extrapolated to our universe, we should expect to inhabit—in the context of the multiverse—a world in which at least some of the laws and constants of nature should show a certain time dependence. Actually, the probability of our existence in a world such as ours would be mathematically equal to zero. In consequence, the results presented in this paper can be considered as an inkling that the hypothesis of the multiverse, whatever its type, does not offer an adequate explanation for the peculiarities of the physical laws in our world. (shrink)
Elliott Sober has recently argued that the cosmological design argument is unsound, since our observation of cosmic fine-tuning is subject to an observation selection effect (OSE). I argue that this view commits Sober to rejecting patently correct design inferences in more mundane scenarios. I show that Sober's view, that there are OSEs in those mundane cases, rests on a confusion about what information an agent ought to treat as background when evaluating likelihoods. Applying this analysis to the design argument (...) shows that our observation of fine-tuning is not rendered uninformative by an OSE. Design and the Anthropic Objection Previous responses to the Anthropic Objection Variations: experimental squads and survivor reunions Why there is no OSE in firing squad cases Application to the design argument. (shrink)
The Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) is a variant of the Design Argument for the existence of God. In this paper the evidence of fine-tuning is explained and the Fine-Tuning Design Argument for God is presented. Then two objections are covered. The first objection is that fine-tuning can be explained in terms of the existence of multiple universes (the 'multiverse') plus the operation of the anthropic principle. The second objection is the 'normalizability problem'– the objection that the (...) class='Hi'>Fine-Tuning Argument fails because fine-tuning is not actually improbable. (shrink)
The universe appears fine-tuned for life. Bayesian confirmation theory is utilized to examine two competing explanations for this fine-tuning, namely design (theism) and the existence of many universes, in comparison with the ’null’ hypothesis that just one universe exists as a brute fact. Some authors have invoked the so-called ’inverse gambler’s fallacy’ to argue that the many-universes hypothesis does not explain the fine-tuning of ’this’ universe, but flaws in this argument are exposed. Nevertheless, the hypothesis of design, (...) being simpler, is arguably of higher prior probability and, therefore, to be preferred. The hypothesis of the single brute-fact universe is disconfirmed. (shrink)
In order to perfectly describe the world, it is not enough to speak truly. In this ambitious and ground-breaking book, Theodore Sider argues that for a representation to be fully successful, truth is not enough; the representation must also use the right concepts--concepts that 'carve at the joints'--so that its conceptual structure matches reality's structure. There is an objectively correct way to 'write the book of the world'. Sider's argument begins from the assertion that metaphysics is about the fundamental structure (...) of reality. Not about what's necessarily true; not about what properties are essential; not about conceptual analysis; and not about what there is. While inquiry into necessity, essence, concepts, or ontology might help to illuminate reality's structure, the ultimate goal is insight into this structure. Sider argues that part of the theory of structure is an account of how structure connects to other concepts. For example, structure can be used to illuminate laws of nature, explanation, reference, induction, physical geometry, substantivity, conventionality, objectivity, and metametaphysics. Another part is an account of how structure behaves. Since structure is a way of thinking about fundamentality, Sider's account implies distinctive answers to questions about the nature of fundamentality. These answers distinguish his theory of structure from other recent theories of fundamentality, including Kit Fine's theory of ground and reality, the theory of truthmaking, and Jonathan Schaffer's theory of ontological dependence. (shrink)
The argument from fine tuning is supposed to establish the existence of God from the fact that the evolution of carbon-based life requires the laws of physics and the boundary conditions of the universe to be more or less as they are. We demonstrate that this argument fails. In particular, we focus on problems associated with the role probabilities play in the argument. We show that, even granting the fine tuning of the universe, it does not follow that (...) the universe is improbable, thus no explanation of the fine tuning, theistic or otherwise, is required. (shrink)
“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. This article assesses its truth by using a probabilistic tool, the Law of Likelihood. Qualitative questions (“Is E evidence about H ?”) and quantitative questions (“How much evidence does E provide about H ?”) are both considered. The article discusses the example of fossil intermediates. If finding a fossil that is phenotypically intermediate between two extant species provides evidence that those species have (...) a common ancestor, does failing to find such a fossil constitute evidence that there was no common ancestor? Or should the failure merely be chalked up to the imperfection of the fossil record? The transitivity of the evidence relation in simple causal chains provides a broader context, which leads to discussion of the fine-tuning argument, the anthropic principle, and observation selection effects. (shrink)
I argue that the rationale behind the fine-tuning argument for design is self-undermining, refuting the argument’s own premise that fine-tuning is to be expected given design. In (Weisberg 2010) I argued on informal grounds that this premise is unsupported. White (2011) countered that it can be derived from three plausible assumptions. But White’s third assumption is based on a fallacious rationale, and is even objectionable by the design theorist’s own lights. The argument that shows this, the argument from (...) divine indifference, simultaneously exposes the fine-tuning argument’s self-undermining character. The same argument also answers Bradley’s (forthcoming) reply to my earlier objection. (shrink)
A frequent objection to the fine-tuning argument has been that although certain necessary conditions for life were admittedly exceedingly improbable, still, the many possible alternative sets of conditions were all equally improbable, so that no special significance is to be attached to the realization of the conditions of life. Some authors, however, have rejected this objection as fallacious. The object of this paper is to state the objection to the fine-tuning argument in a more telling form than has (...) been done hitherto, and to meet the charge of fallacy. (shrink)
I offer an interpretation and a partial defense of Kit Fine's ‘Argument from Passage’, which is situated within his reconstruction of McTaggart's paradox. Fine argues that existing A-theoretic approaches to passage are no more dynamic, i.e. capture passage no better, than the B-theory. I argue that this comparative claim is correct. Our intuitive picture of passage, which inclines us towards A-theories, suggests more than coherent A-theories can deliver. In Finean terms, the picture requires not only Realism about tensed (...) facts, but also Neutrality, i.e. the tensed facts not being ‘oriented towards’ one privileged time. However unlike Fine, and unlike others who advance McTaggartian arguments, I take McTaggart's paradox to indicate neither the need for a more dynamic theory of passage nor that time does not pass. A more dynamic theory is not to be had: Fine's ‘non-standard realism’ amounts to no more than a conceptual gesture. But instead of concluding that time does not pass, we should conclude that theories of passage cannot deliver the dynamicity of our intuitive picture. For this reason, a B-theoretic account of passage that simply identifies passage with the succession of times is a serious contender. (shrink)
I present a novel objection to fine-tuning arguments for God's existence: the metaphysical possibility of different psychophysical laws allows any values of the physical constants to support intelligent life forms, like protons and electrons in love.
The fundamental constants that are involved in the laws of physics which describe our universe are finely tuned for life, in the sense that if some of the constants had slightly different values life could not exist. Some people hold that this provides evidence for the existence of God. I will present a probabilistic version of this fine-tuning argument which is stronger than all other versions in the literature. Nevertheless, I will show that one can have reasonable opinions such (...) that the fine-tuning argument doesn't lead to an increase in one's probability for the existence of God. The fine-tuning argument Objective versus subjective probability Observational selection effects The problem of old evidence Against the fine-tuning argument Many universes. (shrink)
In this article I assess the coherence of Jonathan Edwards's doctrine of divine simplicity as an instance of an actus purus account of perfect-being theology. Edwards's view is an idiosyncratic version of this doctrine. This is due to a number of factors including his idealism and the Trinitarian context from which he developed his notion of simplicity. These complicating factors lead to a number of serious problems for his account, particularly with respect to the opera extra sunt indivisa principle. (...) I conclude that Edwards sets out an interesting and subtle version of the doctrine, but one which appears mired in difficulties from which he is unable to extract himself. (shrink)
Evidence for instances of astrophysical 'fine tuning' (or 'coincidences') is thought by some to lend support to the design argument (i.e. the argument that our universe has been designed by some deity). We assess some of the relevant empirical and conceptual issues. We argue that astrophysical fine tuning calls for some explanation, but this explanation need not appeal to the design argument. A clear and strict separation of the issue of anthropic fine tuning on one hand and (...) any form of Eddingtonian numerology and teleology on the other, may help clarify arguably the most significant issue in the philosophy of cosmology. (shrink)
When it is suggested that the fine-tuning of the universe for life provides evidence for a cosmic designer, the multiple-universe hypothesis is often presented as an alternative. Some philosophers object that the multiple-universe hypothesis fails to explain why ’this’ universe is fine-tuned for life. We suggest the "this universe" objection is no better than the "this planet" objection. We also fault proponents of the "this universe" objection for presupposing that we could not have existed in any other universe (...) and that the values of the free parameters of the universe could have been different. Lastly, we reflect on why fine-tuning for life needs explaining. (shrink)
In this critical review I discuss the main themes of the papers in Kit Fine's Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers. These themes are that modal operators are intelligible in their own right and that actualist quantifiers are to be taken as basic with respect to possibilist quantifiers. I also discuss a previously unpublished paper of Fine's on modality and existence.
Many theists regard the claim that certain fundamental constants of nature are fine-tuned for life as the best scientific argument for the existence of God since Paley’s watch. Even atheist physicists find these so-called “anthropic coincidences” difficult to explain naturally and many think they need to invoke multiple universes and the so-called “anthropic principle” to do so. Certainly if there are many universes, fine-tuning is simple. Our universe is not fine-tuned for life. Life is fine-tuned to (...) our universe. While multiple universes are expected from modern cosmological theories, theists and some scientists object that invoking the unobservable is not science. Of course, God is unobservable too, so the best theists can claim is a standoff. (shrink)
This paper considers the Bayesian form of the fine-tuning argument as advanced by Richard Swinburne. An expository section aims to identify the precise character of the argument, and three lines of objection are then advanced. The first of these holds that there is an inconsistency in Swinburne's procedure, the second that his argument has an unacceptable dependence on an objectivist theory of value, the third that his method is powerless to single out traditional theism from a vast number (...) of competitors. In the final section of the paper the fine-tuning argument is considered, not now as self-standing, but as one of a number of theistic arguments taken together and applied in the manner of the final chapter of Swinburne's The Existence of God. It is argued that points already made also block the way for this line of thought. (shrink)
Proponents of the Fine-Tuning Argument frequently assume that the narrowness of the life-friendly range of fundamental physical constants implies a low probability for the origin of the universe ‘by chance’. We cast this argument in a more rigorous form than is customary and conclude that the narrow intervals do not yield a probability at all because the resulting measure function is non-normalizable. We then consider various attempts to circumvent this problem and argue that they fail.
McGrew, McGrew and Vestrup (MMV) have argued that the fine-tuning anthropic principle argument for the existence of God fails because no probabilities can be assigned to the likelihood that physical constants fall in some finite interval. In particular, the fine-tuning argument that, say, some constant must lie in the range (1.000,1.001) in order for intelligent life to be possible is no better than a seemingly absurd coarse-tuning argument based on the need for that constant to lie in the (...) range (0.001, 10000000). The author of this piece defends the coarse tuning argument as a rational piece of reasoning, and, further, argues that the countable additivity assumption in the MMV paper can be dropped in favor of finite additivity. (shrink)
In this paper, I’ll be concerned with propositions. Propositions have been invoked to serve many roles: they can be the compositional values of clauses, the objects of our attitudes, the bearers of truth, necessity, and possibility, components of logical arguments, and so on. It’s forgivable to wonder whether any one sort of thing can bear all these distinct roles, but that won’t be an issue for us here. As I’ll use the word, a ‘proposition’ is simply the compositional value of (...) a (closed) clause.1 A number of authors have thought that propositions must be fine-grained; that is, that propositions must be individuated more finely than coarse-grained propositions—sets of possible worlds. I agree, and will assume as much for the purposes of the paper. In §1, I’ll examine some of the arguments for this conclusion, and present two different strategies for giving a theory of fine-grained propositions—structuralism and circumstantialism. Both of these strategies have been argued for on the grounds that they address the problems faced by coarse-grained propositions. In §2, however, I’ll argue that structuralism, on its own, does not do enough; it solves only certain special cases of the trouble, and must be supplemented in some way to address the full range of problems faced by coarse-grained propositions. I’ll consider some of the supplements that structuralists have offered, and argue that where these supplements work, they undermine the fineness-of-grain motivation for structuralism. In §3, I’ll show that circumstantialism can satisfy the fineness-of-grain motivation in its full generality. Most of this section responds to an argument due to Soames, which purports to show that circumstantialism too must fall short. In the end, then, I conclude that circumstantialism is better-positioned than structuralism to address concerns about fineness of grain; unlike structuralism, it can address the full range of fineness-of-grain considerations without supplementation. This does not, on its own, mean that we should reject structuralism in favor of circumstantialism; I intend only to undermine one familiar argument for structuralism, not structuralism itself. I talk of compositional values rather than semantic values, mainly to avoid what I take to be an irrelevant debate.. (shrink)
Psychopaths are the bugbears of moral philosophy. They are often used as examples of perfectly rational people who are nonetheless willing to do great moral wrong without regret; hence the disorder has received the epithet “moral insanity” (Pritchard 1835). But whereas philosophers have had a great deal to say about psychopaths’ glaring and often horrifying lack of moral conscience, their aesthetic capacities have received hardly any attention, and are generally assumed to be intact or even enhanced. Popular culture often portrays (...) psychopaths in ways that suggest a great gap between their amorality and their aesthetic sensitivity. In The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991), Hannibal Lecter appreciates fine art, fashion, and wine, while he eats his way through his enemies. His real-life counterparts, however, do not demonstrate the same sensitivities. There is no evidence that psychopaths are capable of real aesthetic appreciation, and some evidence that they are not. In this paper, we set out the limited evidence for the psychopath’s deficient aesthetic sensitivity. The best explanations of what the psychopath lacks turn out to implicate abilities that are also thought to be central to moral thought and action: an impaired capacity for empathizing with others and deficient ability to take a disinterested attitude towards things (socalled distance). We endorse the latter explanation. Thinking about what underlies the psychopath’s deficient aesthetic understanding turns out to throw light on a difficult problem: the connection between ethics and aesthetics. (shrink)
For years theists have claimed that the constants of physics had to be finely tuned by God to the values that have for life in the universe to be possible. In my column of June, 2009 I showed that many of these claims are based on an improper analysis of the data. Even some of the competent scientists who write on this subject commit the fallacy of holding all the parameters constant and varying just one. When you allow all to (...) vary, you find that changes to one parameter can be easily compensated for by changes to another, leaving the ingredients for life in place. This point is also made nicely in a recent Scientific American cover story by Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez. In this column I will discuss perhaps the most cited example of claimed fine-tuning, the Hoyle resonance. In 1953 the famous astronomer Fred Hoyle calculated that the production of carbon would not occur with sufficient probability unless that probability was boosted by the presence of an excited nuclear state of C12 at a very specific energy. In what appeared to be a remarkable victory for anthropic reasoning, Hoyle proposed that this previously unknown state must exist at about 7.7 MeV. (shrink)
In this article I examine a common objection to the fine-tuning argument (an objection which may be referred to as the atheistic many universes (AMU) objection). A reply to this objection due to Roger White has been the subject of much controversy; White's reply has been criticized by Rodney Holder, on the one hand, and Neil Manson and Michael Thrush on the other. In this paper I analyze Holder's work in an effort to determine whether the AMU objection successfully (...) defeats the fine-tuning argument. I conclude that the fine-tuning argument can be reformulated so as to avoid the AMU objection. (shrink)
This paper sets out to adduce visual evidence for Kroneckerian finitism by making perspicuous some of the insights that buttress Kronecker’s conception of arithmetization as a process aiming at disclosing the arithmetical essence enshrined in analytical formulas, by spotting discrete patterns through algorithmic fine-tuning. In the light of a fairly tractable case study, it is argued that Kronecker’s main tenet in philosophy of mathematics is not so much an ontological as a methodological one, inasmuch as highly demanding requirements regarding (...) mathematical understanding prevail over mere preemptive reductionism to whole numbers. (shrink)
There is an ongoing debate over cosmological fine-tuning between those holding that design is the best explanation and those who favor a multiverse. A small group of critics has recently challenged both sides, charging that their probabilistic intuitions are unfounded. If the critics are correct, then a growing literature in both philosophy and physics lacks a mathematical foundation. In this paper, I show that just such a foundation exists. Cosmologists are now providing the kinds of measure-theoretic arguments needed to (...) make the case for fine-tuning. Introduction Probability and infinite sets 2.1 No probability function 2.2 Arbitrary and wrong probability functions The measure of the universe The coarse-tuning objection Arbitrariness and error Conclusion. (shrink)
A fine book, but who’s it for? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9582-9 Authors John Dupré, ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis), University of Exeter, Byrne House, St. German’s Road, Exeter, EX4 4PJ UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
This paper focuses on John Witherspoon (1723-1794) and the religious background of the American conception of religious liberty and church-state separation, as found in the First Amendment. Witherspoon was strongly influenced by debates and conflicts concerning liberty of conscience and the independence of the congregations in his native Scotland; and he brought to his work, as President of the (Presbyterian) College of New Jersey, a moderate Calvinism challenging the conception of “true virtue” found in Jonathan Edwards. Witherspoon was teacher (...) to James Madison who would substantially write the First Amendment. Religious freedom, focused on freedom of conscience, and ‘Christian magnanimity’ stand in considerable tension with the prior orthodoxy of predetermination and the historical tradition of Calvinistic theocracy. Understanding Witherspoon, we better understand the reformation background of the American Enlightenment and how his conception of the freedom of conscience contributed to American conceptions of freedom generally. (shrink)
The discovery that the universe is fine-tuned for life ? a discovery to which the phrase ?the anthropic principle? is often applied ? has prompted much extra-cosmic speculation by philosophers, theologians, and theoretical physicists. Such speculation is referred to as extra-cosmic because an inference is made to the existence either of one unobservable entity that is distinct from the cosmos and any of its parts (God) or of many such entities (multiple universes). In this article a case is mounted (...) for the sceptical position that cosmic fine-tuning does not support an inference to anything extra-cosmic. To that end three definitions of ?fine-tuned for life? are proposed: the ?slight difference? definition, the (unconditional) probability definition, and John Leslie?s conditional probability definition. These three definitions are the only ones suggested by the relevant literature on fine-tuning and the anthropic principle. Since on none of them do claims of fine-tuning warrant an inference to something extracosmic, it is concluded that there is no definition of ?fine-tuned for life? serving this function. (shrink)
In an 1896 letter to Wilhelm Fliess, the first and primary confidante for his fledgling ideas, the young Sigmund Freud wrote: “I see that you are using the circuitous route of medicine to attain your first ideal, the physiological understanding of man, while I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route at my own original objective, philosophy. For that was my original ambition, before I knew what I was intended to do in the world.”1 When philosophy is (...) mentioned in his later, published, writings, it will normally be an occasion for Freud to disavow any such connection with the enterprise of psychoanalysis, a repeated gesture of denial that naturally only goes to show how profound the relationship must really be. For many years now, Jonathan Lear has been one of the great mediators between the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis, showing us what they have to learn from each other, and what they have difficulty 1 accepting from each other. In these lectures he explores a connection between a stance toward oneself that is furthered in the psychoanalytic session, and a stance towards one‟s life to which Kierkegaard gives the name „irony‟. I will begin my remarks with some thoughts about the general picture of irony presented in Professor Lear‟s lectures, and its relation to certain philosophical claims for the role of what is variously called „critical reflection‟, „self-consciousness‟, or the metaphor of “stepping back” from some aspect of one‟s thought or engagement in the world. I will then focus on the idea of self-knowledge at play in the lectures and the role of something called „expression‟ in this context. (shrink)
The judgment that a given event is epistemically improbable is necessary but insufficient for us to conclude that the event is surprising. Paul Horwich has argued that surprising events are, in addition, more probable given alternative background assumptions that are not themselves extremely improbable. I argue that Horwich’s definition fails to capture important features of surprises and offer an alternative definition that accords better with intuition. An important application of Horwich’s analysis has arisen in discussions of fine-tuning arguments. In (...) the second part of the paper I consider the implications for this argument of employing my definition of surprise. I argue that advocates of fine-tuning arguments are not justified in attaching significance to the fact that we are surprised by examples of fine-tuning. (shrink)
I argue that the standard way of formalizing the fine-tuning argument for design is flawed, and I present an alternative formalization. On the alternative formalization, the existence of life is not treated as the evidence that confirms design; instead it is treated as part of the background knowledge, while the fact that fine tuning is required for life serves as the evidence. I argue that the alternative better captures the informal line of thought that gives the fine-tuning (...) argument its intuitive plausibility, and I show that the alternative formalization avoids all of the most prominent objections to the fine-tuning argument, including the objection from observation selection effects, the problem of old evidence, the problem of non-normalizable probability measures and a further objection due to Monton. I conclude that the alternative formalization is the one that attention should be focused on. (shrink)
William Dembski claims that the fine-tuning supports the inference that the universe was designed. His ‘design inference’ is based on the identification of two features of the fine-tuning. Dembski claims that it is a ‘specified’ event of small (a priori) probability. Specification, in this context, is the ability to describe an event without using any knowledge of the actual event itself. I argue that we currently do not have the ability to describe accurately the fine-tuning of the (...) universe without using any knowledge of the fine-tuning itself. If we cannot generate a specification, then the fine-tuning is not a specified event, so the ‘design inference’ is not justified. (shrink)
In this paper we consider the emerging position in metaphysics that artifact functions characterize real kinds of artifacts. We analyze how it can circumvent an objection by David Wiggins (Sameness and substance renewed, 2001, 87) and then argue that this position, in comparison to expert judgments, amounts to an interesting fine-grained metaphysics: taking artifact functions as (part of the) essences of artifacts leads to distinctions between principles of activity of artifacts that experts in technology have not yet made. We (...) show, moreover, that our argument holds not only in the artifactual realm but also in biology: taking biological functions as (part of the) essences of organs leads to distinctions between principles of activity of organs that biological experts have not yet made. We run our argument on the basis of analyses of artifact and biological functions as developed in philosophy of technology and of biology, thus importing results obtained outside of metaphysics into the debate on ontological realism. In return, our argument shows that a position in metaphysics provides experts reason for trying to detect differences between principles of activities of artifacts and organs that have not been detected so far. (shrink)
A version of the fine-tuning argument (FTA) considered in a previous essay is replaced by an improved version, which is then refuted. Advocates of FTA must proclaim that there is no world ensemble, that a great many alternatives to the physical constants of our universe are physically possible and roughly equal in probability to them, and that alternate hypothetical worlds are all, or almost all, uninteresting in comparison to our universe. But no reason has been produced to believe ’any’ (...) of these claims, and so FTA, even in its improved version, can still be dismissed as unsupported, doubtful, and weak. (shrink)
Jan Greben criticized fine-tuning by taking seriously the idea that “nature is quantum mechanical”. I argue that this quantum view is limited, and that fine-tuning is real, in the sense that our current physical models require fine-tuning. Second, I examine and clarify many difficult and fundamental issues raised by Rüdiger Vaas’ comments on Cosmological Artificial Selection.
Jonathan Dancy works within almost all fields of philosophy but is best known as the leading proponent of moral particularism. Particularism challenges “traditional” moral theories, such as Contractualism, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, in that it denies that moral thought and judgement relies upon, or is made possible by, a set of more or less well-defined, hierarchical principles. During the summer of 2006, the Philosophy Departments of Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Reading (England) began a series of exchanges to (...) take place every other year, alternating between the departments. Andreas Lind and Johan Brännmark arranged to meet Dancy during the first meeting in Lund to talk about questions regarding particularism, moral theory and the shape of the analytical tradition. The major part of the conversation is printed below. (shrink)
This paper examines probabilistic versions of the fine-tuning argument for design (FTA), with an emphasis on the interpretation of the probability statements involved in such arguments. Three categories of probability are considered: physical, epistemic, and logical. Of the three possibilities, I argue that only logical probability could possibly support a cogent probabilistic FTA. However, within that framework, the premises of the argument require a level of justification that has not been met, and, it is reasonable to believe, will not (...) be met anytime soon. (shrink)
Fine-tuning arguments attempt to infer God’s existence from the empirical fact that life would not be possible if any of approximately two-dozen fundamental laws and properties of the universe had been even slightly different. In this essay, I consider a version that relies on the following principle: if an observation O is more likely to occur under hypothesis H1 than under hypothesis H2, then O supports accepting H1 over H2. I argue that this particular application of this principle is (...) vulnerable to straightforward counterexamples and attempt to explain the proper application conditions for this principle. (shrink)
In this paper, I evaluate the adequacy of various multiverse hypotheses relative to classical theism in explaining the fine tuning of the universe to life and the fine tuning of our life to the universe. I conclude that, despite its rational attractiveness in explaining the fine tuning of the universe to us in a more conclusive and arguably simpler manner than the God hypothesis, due to its failure to explain the continuing fine tuning of us to (...) the universe, we should discard even the explanatorily strongest multiverse hypothesis, what I call the ’maximal multiverse’ hypothesis, and instead believe in the God hypothesis. (shrink)
In Without Justification, Jonathan Sutton undermines the orthodox view that a justified belief needn’t constitute knowledge; develops a battery of arguments for the unorthodox thesis that you justifiedly believe P iff you know P; and explores the topics of testimony and inference in light of his equation of justification and knowledge (J=K). This book is essential reading at epistemology’s cutting edge. In §I, we’ll take an extended tour of the book, raising various questions and objections along the way. In (...) §II, we’ll assess Sutton’s three main arguments for J=K, which form the heart of his project. (shrink)
: This paper examines how Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) shifted from a broadly Newtonian conception of divine, absolute space to a more Berkeleian or Leibnizian theory of merely relative, ideal space. Setting Edwards' views within a context of contemporary European thought, it elucidates his early position, as expressed in the opening portion of his essay 'Of Being' (c. 1721), and then proceeds to chart the development of his more mature views, showing in particular how the development of his immaterialism during (...) the early 1720s drove him to change his mind on the issue of space and its relationship with God. (shrink)
Theism is a far simpler hypothesis, and so a priori more probably true, than naturalism, understood as the hypothesis that the existence of this law-governed universe has no explanation. Theism postulates only one entity (God) with very simple properties, whereas naturalism has to postulate either innumerable entities all having the same properties, or one very complicated entity with the power to produce the former. If theism is true, it is moderately probable that God would create humanoid beings and so humanoid (...) bodies; but laws of nature would have to have very special properties if they are to bring about the existence of humanoid bodies. Given laws of the present form, the constants of the laws and variables of the boundary conditions of the universe would need to be extremely fine-tuned. So the evidence of the existence of humanoid bodies adds further to the probability of theism as against naturalism. (edited). (shrink)
Let us consider that version of the Argument from Design which appeals to the so called "fine tuning" of the physical constants of the universe. Call it "the Fine tuning Argument." It has many advocates, both on the Internet and in print. For some of the Internet articles, see the following web site: http://www.reasons.org/resources/papers/>. One of the argument's "print" advocates is George Schlesinger, who says the following: In the last few decades a tantalizingly great number of exceedingly rare (...) coincidences, vital for the existence of a minimally stable universe and without which no form of life could exist anywhere, have been discovered. . . . [G]iven any one of infinitely many universes, some conjunction or other of physical magnitudes will have to obtain. However, the prevailing conjunction is not merely one of indefinitely many; it is also an instance of a virtually infinitesimally rare kind of universe: the kind capable of sustaining life. The hypothesis that it was produced by a Being interested in sentient organic systems adequately explains this otherwise inexplicably astonishing fact. NEW PERSPECTIVES ON OLD TIME RELIGION, Oxford U.P., 1988, pp. 130,133] A more precise formulation of the argument is the following, with premises indicated by "P" and conclusions indicated by "C": (P1) The combination of physical constants that we observe in our universe is the only one capable of sustaining life as we know it. (P2) Other combinations of physical constants are conceivable. (shrink)
Although philosophical theologians have sometimes claimed that human beings are necessarily dependent on God, few have developed the idea with any precision. Jonathan Edwards is a notable exception, providing a detailed and often novel account of humanity’s essential ontological, moral, and soteriological dependence on God.
Since the validity of Bell's inequalities implies the existence of joint probabilities for non-commuting observables, there is no universal consensus as to what the violation of these inequalities signifies. While the majority view is that the violation teaches us an important lesson about the possibility of explanations, if not about metaphysical issues, there is also a minimalist position claiming that the violation is to be expected from simple facts about probability theory. This minimalist position is backed by theorems due to (...) A. Fine and I. Pitowsky.Our paper shows that the minimalist position cannot be sustained. To this end,we give a formally rigorous interpretation of joint probabilities in thecombined modal and spatiotemporal framework of `stochastic outcomes inbranching space-time' (SOBST) (Kowalski and Placek, 1999; Placek, 2000). We show in this framework that the claim that there can be no joint probabilities fornon-commuting observables is incorrect. The lesson from Fine's theorem is notthat Bell's inequalities will be violated anyhow, but that an adequate modelfor the Bell/Aspect experiment must not define global joint probabilities. Thus we investigate the class of stochastic hidden variable models, whichprima facie do not define such joint probabilities. The reasonwhy these models fail supports the majority view: Bell's inequalities are notjust a mathematical artifact. (shrink)
The claim that certain fundamental constants of nature are fine tuned for life and that this provides strong evidence for supernatural design is perhaps the best scientific argument for the existence of God since Paley’s watch. Even atheist physicists find these so called “anthropic coincidences” difficult to explain and need to invoke the Weak Anthropic Principle and multiple universes to do so. Certainly if there are many universes, fine tuning is simple. Our form of life was fined tuned (...) to our universe by evolution. While multiple universes are expected from modern cosmological theories, theists and some scientists object that invoking the unobservable is not science. Of course, God is unobservable too, so the best theists can claim is a standoff. This is the first in a series of columns based on a book in the works that attempts to show that the apparent fine tuning of fundamental constants can be understood from basic physics without invoking multiple universes. In some cases the explanation is provable. In other cases, it is not provable but plausible. Fine tuning by design is a God of the Gaps argument. The proponent has the burden if proving that no possible natural explanation can be found. Thus a plausible natural explanation is sufficient to defeat the argument. A list of thirty four parameters that seem to be fine tuned has been assembled by Rich Deem on the God and Science website. Several of Deem’s constants, such as the speed of light in a vacuum, c, Newton’s constant of gravity, G, and Planck’s constant, h, are just arbitrary numbers that are determined simply by the unit system you are using. They can be set equal to any number you want, except zero, with no impact on the physics. So no fine tuning can possibly be involved, just as the number p is not fine tuned. I will focus first on the five parameters that have the most significance because, if interpreted correctly, they seem to pretty much rule out almost any conceivable kind of life without fine tuning: · Ratio of electrons to protons · Ratio of electromagnetic force to gravity Expansion rate of the universe · Mass density of the universe · Cosmological constant I will admit that the features a universe would have for slightly different values of these parameters, all other parameters remaining the same, would render unlikely any form of life even remotely like ours, that is, one that is based on a lengthy process, chemical or otherwise, by which complex matter evolved from simpler matter. Let me discuss each in turn, with the last, the most difficult, reserved for a future column.. (shrink)
This essay provides an interpretation of Jonathan Edwards's moral thought that calls attention to the motif of perception in his conception of true virtue. The aim is to illumine the extent to which Edwards's virtue ethics can be included in and contribute to prevailing approaches to virtue in contemporary theological ethics. To advance this proposal, this essay attends to the question of moral agency that Edwards's reflections on charity, the new spiritual sense, and religious affections raise. This procedure offers (...) an acute sense of the significance of perception for Edwards's virtue ethics, which in turn allows for a constructive Edwardsean entry into current theological discussions on the narrative character of virtue. (shrink)
The most common objection to fine tuning arguments for theism is that there are, or might be, multiple universes among which the fundamental physicalconstants and parameters vary. This essays describes the two main variants of this objection and argues that they both fail.
Since he proved his theorem in 1982, Fine has been challenging the traditional interpretation of the experimental violation of the Bell Inequalities (BI). A natural interpretation of Fine's theorem is that it provides us with an alternative set of assumptions on which to place blame for the failure of the BI, and opens to a new interpretation of the violation of the BI. Fine has a stronger interpretation for his theorem. He claims that his result undermines the (...) traditional interpretation in terms of local realism. The aim of this paper is to understand and to assess Fine's claim. We distinguish three different strategies that Fine uses in order to support his view. We show that none of these strategies is successful. Fine fails to prove that local realism is not at stake in the violation of the BI by quantum phenomena. (shrink)
Wegner's The Illusion of Conscious Will (2002) ignores an important aspect of the history of the concept: the determinism of Jonathan Edwards (1754) and the later response to this determinism by William James and others. We argue that Edwards's formulation, and James's resolution of the resulting dilemma, are superior to Wegner's.
A fine book, but who’s it for? Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9582-9 Authors John Dupré, ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis), University of Exeter, Byrne House, St. German’s Road, Exeter, EX4 4PJ UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The insurance industry’s practice of producing comprehensive insurance policies can have unforeseen and negative ethical consequences. Insurance policies express promises from the insurer to the insured, to the effect that the insurer should be trusted to appropriately assist the insured in case of accident. The relation is seriously undermined when the content of the promise is blurred, containing clauses and condition which are ambiguous or hidden in fine print. This paper contains an investigation of (1) the sources of the (...)fine print policy practice, (2) its immediate effects on the degree to which the policies are understandable to the insured, (3) the ethical consequences that can follow from blurring the true content of the insurer’s promise to the insured and (4) the measures insurers can take in order to develop a more constructive ethical relationship with its customers. (shrink)
Analogies are offered to guide our explanatory responses to the fine-tuning of the universe. Situations that prompt us to reject an explanation involving a single chance event are presented as analogous to the fine-tuning. Thus, by analogy, we are prompted to reject an explanation of the fine-tuning involving a single universe fine-tuned by chance. But if the alleged analogues are not analogous they misguide us. I argue that the alleged analogues are not analogous and hence they (...) do misguide our explanatory responses to the fine-tuning. I use William Dembski’s work on eliminating chance explanations for “specified” events of small probability to illustrate the misguiding nature of the analogies. (shrink)
In this response to the papers on Jonathan Edwards's ethical thought by Stephen A. Wilson, Gerald R. McDermott, William C. Spohn, and Roland A. Delattre, I comment on their efforts to show that ideas drawn from Edwards can be successfully appropriated for use in contemporary ethics. I conclude that the four authors build a strong cumulative case for the view that some elements of Edwards's thought can serve as resources for our ethical reflections. But I also argue for a (...) deflationary view of how much of Edwards we will find it feasible to take on board when we engage in the task of working out a religious ethics we might accept. (shrink)
Inverted spectrum and absent-qualia arguments have at least shown that giving the functional role of a qualitative state is challenging, as it is arguable that the same functional organization among one's inputs, outputs, and mental states can be preserved despite having one's qualia radically altered or eliminated. Sydney Shoemaker has proposed a promising strategy for the functionalist: defining a given qualitative state as being disposed to cause a belief that one is in such a state. Such beliefs would be different (...) or not obtain should the qualitative state be altered or absent—showing that the qualitative state is in fact functionally relevant. I will argue that this approach, and a similar one by David Chalmers, face a difficulty in accounting for qualia at a fine grain, particularly those that do not readily fit our linguistic concepts and/or occur in peripheral awareness. I then show how the problem can be solved by incorporating certain conditional statements into functional definitions of qualia, and by relying on two theoretical resources I will discuss: qualitative beliefs with nonlinguistic content and QSMs (qualia-structuring mental phenomena). (shrink)
I show that given Jonathan Bennett's theory of 'even if,' the following statement is logically true iff the principle of conditional excluded is valid: (SE) If Q and if P wouldn't rule out Q, then Q even if P. Hence whatever intuitions support the validity of (SE) support the validity of Conditional Excluded Middle, too. Finally I show that Bennett's objection to John Bigelow's theory of the conditional can be turned into a (perhaps) more telling one, viz. that on (...) Bigelow's theory 'if P then Q' and 'if P and Q then R' do not jointly entail 'if P then R'. (shrink)
David Hume (1711-1776) and Jonathan Edwards (1703- 1758) had very different reputations concerning the Christian faith. In spite of this, they both had very similar positions concerning miracles and the supernatural. It is argued that although Hume rejects one type of miracle, he acknowledges another type. Edwards does essentially the same thing and rejects the same kind of miracle that Hume rejects, while acknowledging the kind of miracles that Hume acknowledges.
The contemporary revival of virtue ethics has focused primarily on retrieving central moral commitments of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Neoplatonist traditions. Christian virtue ethicists would do well to expand this retrieval further to include the writings of the Roman Stoics. This essay argues that the ethics of Jonathan Edwards exemplifies major Stoic themes and explores three noteworthy points of intersection between Stoic ethics and Edwards's thought: a conception of virtue as consent to a benevolent providence, the identification of (...) virtue as a singular and transformative good, and an account of moral formation as simultaneously self-directed and received. Common ground between Edwards and the Stoics illustrates the value of recognizing Stoic moral thought as a philosophical framework that can enhance and undergird Christian ethicists' understandings of moral development and the nature of virtue. (shrink)
This book demonstrates the originality and coherence of Jonathan Edwards' philosophical theology using his dynamic reconception of reality as the interpretive key. The author argues that what underlies Edwards' writings is a radical shift from the traditional Western metaphysics of substance and form to a new conception of the world as a network of dispositions: active and abiding principles that possess reality apart from their manifestations in actions and events. Edwards' dispositional ontology enables him to restate the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition (...) in theology in a strikingly modern philosophical framework. A prime example of Edwards' innovative reconstruction in philosophical theology is his conception of God as both eternal actuality and a disposition to repeat that actuality within God and also through creation. This view is a compelling alternative to the traditional Western doctrine of God as changeless actuality, on the one hand, and the recent process theologians' excessive stress on God's involvement in change, on the other. Edwards' achievement was that he saw dynamic movement as essential to God's own life without compromising the traditional Christian tenets of God's prior actuality and transcendence. The author of this volume also explicates the way in which Edwards' dynamic reconception of reality informs his theories of imagination, aesthetic perception, the knowledge of God, and the meaning of history. This expanded edition includes a new preface and a new appendix titled "Jonathan Edwards on Nature.". (shrink)
Jonathan Lear in "Radical Hope" tackles the idea of cultural devastation, in the specific case of the Crow Indians. What do we mean by "annihilation" of a culture? The moral point of view that he imagines as he reconstructs the eve and aftermath of this annihilation is not second personal, of obligation, but first personal, in the collective and singular, as told by the Crows, with Lear as "analyst." "Radical Hope" is a study of representative character of a people—of (...) virtue, courage, resilience, and hope in the face of cultural collapse. The leading questions are shaped by ancient Greek ethics, but with a twist: On the brink of cultural death, what counts for us as good living and what is the nature of the virtues or excellences that constitute it? How might a leader, a phronimos, exemplify it? This puts it too narrowly. The questions, also, are Wittgensteinian: How does a nation go on, when the concepts and way of life it has lived by for centuries are no more? What does it mean to go on? What does it mean to stop when the marks of going on are no longer? (shrink)
A combination of methodological considerations and propositions about the causal structure of spacetime provides a reply to Fine's criticisms of the "factorizability requirement" used in several versions of Bell's theorem. His proposal of "action in harmony" is criticized. Experimental tests are proposed for both the "synchronization models" and the "prism models", which Fine has invented as loopholes to Bell's theorem. A theorem of Suppes and Zanotti which purports to show the impossibility of hidden variables is criticized. One of (...) their crucial premisses seems to be justifiable only if one accepts a Parmenidean metaphysics. (shrink)
In their recent article "Ideology in Action" in this journal, Alan Fine and Kent Sandstrom (1993) offer a theoretical account of ideology informed by pragmatism and symbolic interactionism. The authors provide compelling reasons for understanding ideology not simply as beliefs but as situated social action. Their effort to retrieve the analysis of ideology from the realm of the noosphere is a welcome departure from more traditional conceptions. Moreover, they provide a convincing case for bringing ideological analysis back into many (...) of our analyses of social life. In the following pages I wish to engage the authors on the terrain they have laid out. Drawing on the linguistic turn in recent social theory, I offer a few friendly critiques of their interactionist conception of ideology. After reviewing these problems I discuss how a dialogic analysis of ideology can build on Fine and Sandstrom's important account of ideology, as well as offering additional insights into its nature and dynamics. I begin, however, with a capsule review of the authors' conception of ideology in action. (shrink)
Moral entrepreneurship is the fine art of recycling evil into good by taking advantage of situations given or constructed as crises. It should be seen as the ultimate generalisation of the entrepreneurial spirit, whose peculiar excesses have always sat uneasily with homo oeconomicus as the constrained utility maximiser, an image that itself has come to be universalised. A task of this essay is to reconcile the two images in terms of what by the end I call ‘superutilitarianism’, which draws (...) on the lore of both superheroes and utilitarianism. After briefly surveying the careers of three exemplars of the moral entrepreneur (Robert McNamara, George Soros and Jeffrey Sachs), I explore the motives of moral entrepreneurs in terms of their standing debt to society for having already caused unnecessary harm but which also now equips him with the skill set needed to do significant good. Such a mindset involves imagining oneself a vehicle of divine will, which would be a scary proposition had it not been long presumed by Christians touched by Calvin. In conclusion, I argue that moral entrepreneurship looks most palatable – and perhaps even attractive – if the world is ‘reversible’, in the sense that every crisis, however clumsily handled by the moral entrepreneur, causes people to distinguish more clearly the necessary from contingent features of their existence. This leads them to reconceptualise past damages as new opportunities to assert what really matters; hence, a ‘superutilitarian’ ethic that treats all suffering as less cost than investment in a greater sense of the good. (shrink)
Jonathan Wolff is Professor of Philosophy at University College London. He is the author of Robert Nozick (1991), An Introduction to Political Philosophy (1996) and Why Read Marx Today (2002). He is currently working on a number of topics at the intersection of political philosophy and public policy.
This article compares Hume’s metaphysical views with those of his contemporary, the American theologian and philosopher, Jonathan Edwards. It shows how, although the two men developed their theories in isolation from one another, their minds were nevertheless following almost identical paths on several of the most central issues in metaphysics (including the natures of body and mind, personal identity, causation, and free will). Their final conclusions were, however, radically different. In short, wherever Hume came to rest in a skeptical (...) position, Edwards would initially approach the very same position, but would then pull back at the last minute and bring in God to fill the gaps, yielding a Christian system of philosophy with an idiosyncratically Humean flavour. (shrink)
The incompleteness of the task of integrating the influences made upon Jonathan Edwards by Calvinism and the moral sense leaves open a great many questions central to identifying his ethical position with any detail. This should worry ethicists, theologians, and church historians alike. For the puzzle of what Edwards meant by virtue is at the heart not only of his ethics but of a great many strands of his thought. It must be pieced together from diverse sources; and there (...) are multiple meanings to be sifted through. But it is nevertheless possible to bring the concepts made available by the diverse moral traditions upon which Edwards drew into a generally coherent counterpoise. Such a counterpoise is not merely of antiquarian interest. Lacking a precise account of Edwards's ethical position, it is awkward to talk about applying it to the problems of the twenty-first, or any, century. (shrink)
Jonathan Edwards has most often been considered in the context of the Puritanism of New England. In many ways, however, he was closer to the thinkers of the European Enlightenment. In this book. Leon Chai explores that connection, analysing Edwards's thought in light of a number of the issues that preoccupied such Enlightenment figures as Locke, Descartes, Malebranche, and Leibniz. The book comprises three parts, each of which begins with a detailed analysis of a crucial passage from a classic (...) Enlightenment text, and then turns to a major theological work of Jonathan Edwards in which the same issue is explored. (shrink)
Reasoning about concurrent programs involves representing the information that concurrent processes manipulate disjoint portions of memory. In sophisticated applications, the division of memory between processes is not static. Through operations, processes can exchange the implied ownership of memory cells. In addition, processes can also share ownership of cells in a controlled fashion as long as they perform operations that do not interfere, e.g., they can concurrently read shared cells. Thus the traditional paradigm of distributed computing based on locations is replaced (...) by a paradigm of concurrent computing which is more tightly based on program structure. Concurrent Separation Logic with Permissions, developed by O’Hearn, Bornat et al., is able to represent sophisticated transfer of ownership and permissions between processes. We demonstrate how these ideas can be used to reason about fine-grained concurrent programs which do not employ explicit synchronization operations to control interference but cooperatively manipulate memory cells so that interference is avoided. Reasoning about such programs is challenging and appropriate logical tools are necessary to carry out the reasoning in a reliable fashion. We argue that Concurrent Separation Logic with Permissions provides such tools. We illustrate the logical techniques by presenting the proof of a concurrent garbage collector originally studied by Dijkstra et al., and extended by Lamport to handle multiple user processes. (shrink)
A promising approach to more refined models consistent with the Caplan & Waters hypothesis is based on similarity-based interference, a general principle that applies across working memory domains. This may explain both the fine details of syntactic working memory phenomena and the gross fractionation for which Caplan & Waters have found evidence. Detailed models of syntactic processing that embody similarity-based interference fare well cross-linguistically.
The generality relativist has been accused of holding a self-defeating thesis. Kit Fine proposed a modal version of generality relativism that tries to resist this claim. We discuss his proposal and argue that one of its formulations is self-defeating.
The contemporary interest in spiritual experience has some theological and ethical ambiguity. To what extent does it reflect genuine engagement with the sacred, to what extent is it dabbling in experience without adequate interpretation or moral commitment? Jonathan Edwards faced similar challenges in his sermons on 1 Cor 13, "Charity and Its Fruits". Alasdair Maclntyre and Pierre Hadot have explored the constitutive role of practices in forming of virtues and transmitting a way of life. Their writings help show the (...) continuing relevance of the spiritual practices that Edwards advocated, particularly self-examination, healing by contraries, and solidarity. (shrink)