"In a language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, the language contains neither ideas nor sounds that pre-exist the linguistic system, but only conceptual differences and phonic differences issuing from this system." (From the posthumous Course in General Linguistics, 1916.) -/- No one becomes as famous as Saussure without both admirers and detractors reducing them to a paragraph's worth of ideas that can be readily quoted, debated, memorized, and examined. One can (...) argue the ideas expressed above - that language is composed of a system of acoustic oppositions (the signifier) matched by social convention to a system of conceptual oppositions (the signified) - have in some sense become "Saussure", while the human being, in all his complexity, has disappeared. In the first comprehensive biography of Ferdinand de Saussure, John Joseph restores the full character and history of a man who is considered the founder of modern linguistics and whose ideas have influenced literary theory, philosophy, cultural studies, and virtually every other branch of humanities and the social sciences. -/- Through a far-reaching account of Saussure's life and the time in which he lived, we learn about the history of Geneva, of Genevese educational institutions, of linguistics, about Saussure's ancestry, about his childhood, his education, the fortunes of his relatives, and his personal life in Paris. John Joseph intersperses all these discussions with accounts of Saussure's research and the courses he taught highlighting the ways in which knowing about his friendships and family history can help us understand not only his thoughts and ideas but also his utter failure to publish any major work after the age of twenty-one. (shrink)
Joseph Raz has argued that the problem of the amoralist is misconceived. In this paper, I present three interpretations of what his argument is. None of these interpretations yields an argument that we are in a position to accept.
Berkeley's immaterialism has more in common with views developed by Henry More, the mathematician Joseph Raphson, John Toland, and Jonathan Edwards than those of thinkers with whom he is commonly associated (e.g., Malebranche and Locke). The key for recognizing their similarities lies in appreciating how they understand St. Paul's remark that in God "we live and move and have our being" as an invitation to think to God as the space of discourse in which minds and ideas are identified. (...) This way of speaking about God, adapted by Karl Barth and Paul Tillich, opens up new ways to think about the relation between God and infinite minds. (shrink)
This essay considers eighteenth-century Anglican thinker Joseph Butler's view of the role of natural emotions in moral reasoning and action. Emotions such as compassion and resentment are shown to play a positive role in the moral life by motivating action and by directing agents toward certain good objects—for example, relief of misery and justice. For Butler, moral virtue is present when these natural affections are kept in proper proportion by the "superior" principles of the moral life—conscience, self-love, and benevolence—which (...) involve the capacity for reasonable reflection. For contemporary thinkers, Butler's approach suggests that natural emotion should not be viewed as the enemy of moral reasoning; in fact, it challenges ethicists to pay attention to and account for the significant role of the emotions in the moral life. (shrink)
Accounts of the relation between theories and models in biology concentrate on mathematical models. In this paper I consider the dual role of models as representations of natural systems and as a material basis for theorizing. In order to explicate the dual role, I develop the concept of a remnant model, a material entity made from parts of the natural system(s) under study. I present a case study of an important but neglected naturalist, Joseph Grinnell, to illustrate the extent (...) to which mundane practices in a museum setting constitute theorizing. I speculate that historical and sociological analyses of institutions can play a specific role in the philosophical analysis of model-building strategies. (shrink)
Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat was one of the most distinguished scientists and peace campaigners of the post second world war period. He made significant contributions to nuclear physics and worked on the development of the atomic bomb. He then became one of the world’s leading researchers into the biological effects of radiation. His life from the early 1950s until his death in August 2005 was devoted to the abolition of nuclear weapons and peace. For this he was awarded the (...) Nobel Peace Prize, together with Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (that he helped found) in 1995. His work in this area ranked with that of Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell and this article is an attempt to summarise his life, achievements, but in particular outline his views on the moral responsibilities of the scientist. He is a towering intellectual figure and his contributions to mankind should be better known and more widely understood. (shrink)
Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat made significant contributions to nuclear physics and worked on the development of the atomic bomb. He walked out of the Manhattan Project after working there for less than a year, the only scientist to do so. Rotblat gave a comprehensive account of his time at Los Alamos. His Archive is now becoming available and papers contained therein are inconsistent with some aspects of his account. The reasons as to how such anomalies and contradictions could occur (...) are considered. (shrink)
People discussing science and religion usually frame their conversations in terms of essentialist assumptions about science, assumptions requiring the existence (but not the specification) of criteria according to which science can be distinguished from other forms of inquiry. However, criteria functioning at a level of generality appropriate to such discussions may not exist at all. Essentialist assumptions may be avoided if science is understood within a broader context of human practices. In a philosophy of practices, to label a practice as (...) “scientific” is to make a practically motivated provision for a way of speaking. Charles Taylor and Joseph Rouse have produced complementary philosophies of practice that promote this kind of understanding. In this essay I review the work of Taylor and Rouse, identify apparent residues of essentialism that each seems to harbor, and offer a resolution to some of their disagreements. I also criticize a form of essentialism commonly employed in Christian circles and outline an anti-essentialist view of science that may be helpful in science-and-religion discussions. (shrink)
During the 1840s and the 1850s botanist Joseph Hooker developed distinct notions about the proper characteristics of a professional man of science. While he never articulated these ideas publicly as a coherent agenda, he did share his opinions openly in letters to family and colleagues; this private communication gives essential insight into his and his X-Club colleagues' public activities. The core aspiration of Hooker's professionalization was to consolidate men of science into a dutiful and centralized community dedicated to national (...) well-being. The nation in turn owed the scientific community for its ministration. When the government bestowed funds and status on men of science it was rewarding science -- not purchasing it. His proposed reforms were piecemeal, immediate, and above all practical. He harbored no taste for vast millenarian transformation, and rested his conception of scientific professionalism upon a respectable High Victorian foundation of patronage and pillars of duty, reciprocity, intimacy, and inequality. The process of professionalization he envisioned was as much shrewd compromise between existing interests as a vindication of principle. His power and prestige from the mid-1850s onward gave him considerable ability to carry out his reform program, although his general success did occasion some undesired consequences for the status of natural-history pursuits. (shrink)
Joseph Hooker first learned that Charles Darwin believed in the transmutation of species in 1844. For the next 14 years, Hooker remained a "nonconsenter" to Darwin's views, resolving to keep the question of species origin "subservient to Botany instead of Botany to it, as must be the true relation." Hooker placed particular emphasis on the need for any theory of species origin to support the broad taxonomic delimitation of species, a highly contentious issue. His always provisional support for special (...) creation waned during the 1850s as he lost faith in its expediency for coordinating the study of plant geography, systematics and physiology. In 1858, Hooker embraced Darwin's "considerable revolution in natural history," but only after Darwin had carefully molded his transmutationism to meet Hooker's exacting specifications. (shrink)
El problema de la teodicea ha sido una de las grandes preocupaciones del pensamiento religioso en Occidente: si Dios es absolutamente bueno y omnipotente, ¿cómo puede existir el mal en el mundo?, y ¿por qué sufren los virtuosos y gozan los impíos? En la Antigüedad, el Libro de Job intentó ofrecer una respuesta que perduró hasta tiempos modernos. En el siglo XVII, Leibniz ofreció una respuesta mucho más racionalizada, propia de los tiempos modernos. Joseph de Maistre, un contrarrevolucionario del (...) siglo XIX, hizo de la teodicea uno de sus temas centrales. El siguiente artículo es un estudio de la forma en que De Maistre aborda este tema. (shrink)
The life of Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) provides an invaluable lens through which to view mid-Victorian science. A biographical approach makes it clear that some well-established narratives about this period need revising. For example, Hooker's career cannot be considered an example of the professionalisation of the sciences, given the doubtful respectability of being paid to do science and his reliance on unpaid collectors with pretensions to equal scientific and/or social status. Nor was Hooker's response to Darwin's theories either straightforward (...) or contradictory; it only makes sense as carefully crafted equivocation when seen in the context of his life and career. However, the importance of Hooker's life is ultimately its typicality; what was true of Hooker was true of many other Victorian men of science. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a defence of a Russellian analysis of the referential uses of incomplete (mis)descriptions, in a contextual setting. With regard to the debate between a unificationist and an ambiguity approach to the formal treatment of definite descriptions (introduction), I will support the former against the latter. In 1. I explain what I mean by "essentially" incomplete descriptions: incomplete descriptions are context dependent descriptions. In 2. I examine one of the best versions of the unificationist “explicit” approach (...) given by Buchanan and Ostertag. I then show that this proposal seems unable to treat the normal uses of misdescriptions. I then accept the challenge of treating misdescriptions as a key to solving the problem of context dependent descriptions. In 3. I briefly discuss Michael Devitt’s and Joseph Almog’s treatments of referential descriptions, showing that they find it difficult to explain misdescriptions. In 4. I suggest an alternative approach to DD as contextuals, under a normative epistemic stance. Definite descriptions express (i) what a speaker should have in mind in using certain words in a certain context and (ii) what a normal speaker is justified in saying in a context, given a common basic knowledge of the lexicon. In 5. I define a procedure running on contextual parameters (partiality, perspective and approximation) as a means of representing the role of pragmatics as a filter for semantic interpretation. In 6. I defend my procedural approach against possible objections concerning the problem of the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics, relying on the distinction between semantics and theory of meaning. (shrink)
For some contemporary liberal philosophers, a huge concern is liberal neutrality, which is the idea that the state should be neutral among competing conceptions of the moral good pursued by the people. In The Morality of Freedom, Joseph Raz argues that we can neither achieve nor even approximate such neutrality. He shows that neutrality and fairness are different ideas. His notion of neutrality is stricter than John Rawls's and Ronald Dworkin's. Raz shows that both helping and not helping can (...) be neutral or non-neutral, thus neutrality is chimerical. Wojciech Sadurski's appeal to rational expectations does not necessarily tell us which action is neutral. Distinguishing between comprehensive and narrow neutrality, Raz also claims that only the former is a proper response to conflicts. Sadurski criticizes it, claiming that conflicts are comprehensive in a sense which does not deny the adequacy of the narrow neutrality. In reality, however, it is almost impossible to achieve even the narrow neutrality. A theory is presented to explain why political neutrality is almost impossible to achieve. Philosophically, there is no neutral ground for neutral politics. (shrink)
This article seeks to clarify Joseph Raz’s contention that the task of the legal theorist is to explain the nature of law, rather than the concept of law. For Raz, to explain the nature of law is to explain the necessary properties that constitute it, those which if absent law would cease to be what it is. The first issue arises regarding his ambiguous usage of the expression “necessary property”. Concurrently Raz affirms that the legal theorist has the following (...) tasks: (a) explain the essential properties of that which the concept of law refers to, which exists independently from any concept of law; (b) explain the essential properties of law given our concept of law. After trying to dissolve the ambiguity of Raz’s argument, I conclude that based on his methodological commitments the only possible task for a legal philosopher would be conceptual analysis, understood as the task of explaining our concept of law. (shrink)
In Joseph Butler, we have an account of human beings as moral beings that is, as this essay demonstrates, being supported by the recently emerging findings of the neurosciences. This applies particularly to Butler's portrayal of our empathic emotions. Butler discovered their moral significance for motivating and guiding moral decisions and actions before the neurosciences did. Butler has, in essence, added a sixth sense to our five senses: this is the moral sense by means of which we perceive what (...) we ought or ought not do. The moral sense yields relatively reliable moral perceptions when we love our neighbors as ourselves, and when our love for ourselves is genuine. Accurate moral perceptions will be thwarted by self-deceit—that is, by a self-partiality devoid of neighbor love, a condition that thwarts genuine self-love. This essay explores the parallels between Butler's understanding of self-deceit and Robert J. Lifton's understanding of "doubling.". (shrink)
Joseph Gikatilla's early works, composed during the 1270s, have been understood by many scholars as a fusion of Kabbalah and philosophy—an approach that he abandoned in his later compositions. This paper argues that Gikatilla's early works are in fact consistent with his later works, and that the differences between the two can be explained by the polemical engagement during his early period with Jewish philosophy and Christian missionizing. By subtly drawing Jewish students of philosophy away from Aristotelian speculation and (...) towards Kabbalah, Gikatilla sought in his early works to lay the foundation for an understanding of Judaism based on kabbalistic mytho-poesis and ecstatic mystical experience. (shrink)
Joseph Boyle raises important questions about the place of the double-effect exception in absolutist moral theories. His own absolutist theory (held by many, but not all, Catholic moralists), which derives from the principles that fundamental human goods may not be intentionally violated, cannot dispense with such exceptions, although he rightly rejects some widely held views about what they are. By contrast, Kantian absolutist theory, which derives from the principle that lawful freedom must not be violated, has a corollary – (...) that it is a duty, where possible, to coerce those who try to violate lawful freedom – which makes superfluous many of the double-effect exceptions Boyle allows. Other implications of the two theories are contrasted. Inter alia , it is argued that, in Boyle's theory, that a violation of a fundamental human good can be viewed as a cost proportionate to a benefit obtained, cannot yield a double-effect exception to the prohibition of intentionally violating that good, because paying a cost cannot be unintentional. Keywords: cost-benefit analysis, double effect, intention, side effect CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This essay examines Joseph Carens' open borders argument in the light of a case study of recent Somali migrants to the UK. It argues that, although arguments for significantly more open borders are compelling, they must take into account existing domestic injustice in receiving states as well as existing global injustice.
In his Sefer ha-'Ikkarim [Book of Principles] R. Joseph Albo discusses Maimonides' proofs for the existence of God. The following paper offers an analysis of Albo's discussion of the proofs, advancing two theses: (1) Albo's main argument in his central discussion is that proofs for the existence of God cannot be based on the theory of the eternity of the universe. This argument, however, is contradicted by his other remarks on the topic, which appear elsewhere in the Sefer ha-'Ikkarim. (...) (2) Albo's discussion of this issue includes several expressions of independent and critical thought. (shrink)
The volume brings together a collection of original papers on some of the main tenets of Joseph Raz's legal and political philosophy: Legal positivism and the nature of law, practical reason, authority, the value of equality, incommensurability, harm, group rights, and multiculturalism.
When Professor Georges Gurvitch, the highly esteemed occupant of the chair of philosophy at the University of Strausbourg before World War ll and the author of a series of brilliant studies in the pluralist philosophy of law, referred to Pierre—Joseph Proudhon as the central figure in the development of modern social and judicial philosophy, the basis of his highly flattering judgment was the philosophy of law that serves as the basis of Proudhon’s mutualism, a socio-legal conceptualization that had not (...) only greatly infiuenced Gurvitch’s own thinking but which had exerted tremendous infiuence as well over the thought of such outstanding social theorists as Herzen, Tolstoi, and Kropotkinl To state, therefore, that Proudhon was not only the first to call himself an anarchist but also “the most important" anarchist thinker of the modern period} is to establish his right to be heard. We are not entitled to skip lightly over his conception of law and justice as past generations have done. After outlining Proudhon’s legal theory and his conception of natural right, this paper will attempt to demonstrate that Proudhon’s thinking on law is an outstanding contribution to modern political theory. It is not too much to say, in fact, that his philosophy of law and natural right stands as a highly suggestive antidote to the hopeless confusion in contemporary political theory, a confusion that stems not only from the cloudy conception of justice posited by the social contract theorists but from the defective conception of justice advanced by the advocates of state socialism as well. (shrink)