Despite his elusiveness on important issues, there is much in Michael Oakeshott's educational vision that Richard Peters quite rightly wishes to endorse. The main aim of this essay is, however, to consider Peters' justifiable critique of three features of Oakeshott's work. These are (1) the rigidity of his distinction between vocational and university education, (2) the lack of clarity and accuracy in his philosophy of teaching and learning, especially the under-conceptualisation of the role of example in teaching, (3) the over-emphasis (...) on tradition in moral and civic learning. (shrink)
This book demonstrates that law can be newly interrogated when examined through the lens of literature. Like its forerunner, Empty Justice, the book creates simple pathways which energise and illustrate the links between legal theory and legal science and doctrine, through the wider visions of history, literature and culture. This broadening approach is integral to understanding law in the context of wider debates and media in the community. The book provides a collection of essays, with additional commentary which reflects upon (...) very recent scholarship and debate on a range of ethico-legal topics; it also illustrates how conventional legal matters may be rendered lively and palatable, as an adjunct to approaching doctrine and cases 'cold' in the conventional textbook manner. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. (shrink)
We discuss arguments against the thesis that the world itself can be vague. The first section of the paper distinguishes dialectically effective from ineffective arguments against metaphysical vagueness. The second section constructs an argument against metaphysical vagueness that promises to be of the dialectically effective sort: an argument against objects with vague parts. Firstly, cases of vague parthood commit one to cases of vague identity. But we argue that Evans' famous argument against will not on its own enable one to (...) complete the reductio in the present context. We provide a metaphysical premise that would complete the reductio, but note that it seems deniable. We conclude by drawing general morals from our case study. (shrink)
Worlds where things divide forever ("gunk" worlds) are apparently conceivable. The conceivability of such scenarios has been used as an argument against "nihilist" or "near-nihilist" answers to the special composition question. I argue that the mereological nihilist has the resources to explain away the illusion that gunk is possible.
In the literature on supervaluationism, a central source of concern has been the acceptability, or otherwise, of its alleged logical revisionism. I attack the presupposition of this debate: arguing that when properly construed, there is no sense in which supervaluational consequence is revisionary. I provide new considerations supporting the claim that the supervaluational consequence should be characterized in a ‘global’ way. But pace Williamson (1994) and Keefe (2000), I argue that supervaluationism does not give rise to counterexamples to familiar inference-patterns (...) such as reductio and conditional proof. (shrink)
Some things, argues Lewis, are just better candidates to be referents than others. Even at the cost of attributing false beliefs, we interpret people as referring to the most interesting kinds in their vicinity. How should this be accounted for? In section 1, I look at Lewis’s interpretationism, and the reference magnetism it builds in (not just for ‘perfectly natural’ properties, but for certain kinds of auxiliary apparatus). In section 2, I draw on (Field, 1975) to argue that what properties (...) are reference magnetic may be an ultimately conventional matter—though in the Lewisian setting, there may be an objectively best conventional choice to make. But Lewis’s own account has implausible commitments, so in section 3 I consider variations and alternatives, all of which have problems. In section 4, I look in more detail at eligibility-based interpretationism that do not appeal to naturalness, arguing that there are credible metasemantic theories of this form. (shrink)
This paper outlines Lewis’s favoured foundational account of linguistic representation, and outlines and briefly evaluates variations and modifications. Section 1 gives an opinionated exegesis of Lewis’ work on the foundations of reference—his interpretationism. I look at the way that the metaphysical distinction between natural and non-natural properties came to play a central role in his thinking about language. Lewis’s own deployment of this notion has implausible commitments, so in section 2 I consider variations and alternatives. Section 3 briefly considers a (...) buck-passing strategy involving fine-grained linguistic conventions. (shrink)
Joyce (1998) gives an argument for probabilism: the doctrine that rational credences should conform to the axioms of probability. In doing so, he provides a distinctive take on how the normative force of probabilism relates to the injunction to believe what is true. But Joyce presupposes that the truth values of the propositions over which credences are defined are classical. I generalize the core of Joyce’s argument to remove this presupposition. On the same assumptions as Joyce uses, the credences of (...) a rational agent should always be weighted averages of truth value assignments. In the special case where the truth values are classical, the weighted averages of truth value assignments are exactly the probability functions. But in the more general case, probabilistic axioms formulated in terms of classical logic are violated—but we will show that generalized versions of the axioms formulated in terms of non-classical logics are satisfied. (shrink)
This paper examines two puzzles of indeterminacy. The first puzzle concerns the hypothesis that there is a unified phenomenon of indeterminacy. How are we to reconcile this with the apparent diversity of reactions that indeterminacy prompts? The second puzzle focuses narrowly on borderline cases of vague predicates. How are we to account for the lack of theoretical consensus about what the proper reaction to borderline cases is? I suggest (building on work by Maudlin) that the characteristic feature of indeterminacy is (...) alethic normative silence, and use this to explain both plurality and lack of consensus. (shrink)
Taking away grains from a heap of rice, at what point is there no longer a heap? It seems small changes – removing a single grain – can’t make a difference to whether or not something is a heap; but big changes obviously do. How can this be, since big changes are nothing but small changes chained together?
Two major themes in the literature on indicative conditionals are (1) that the content of indicative conditionals typically depends on what is known;1 (2) that conditionals are intimately related to conditional probabilities.2 In possible world semantics for counterfactual conditionals, a standard assumption is that conditionals whose antecedents are metaphysically impossible are vacuously true.3 This aspect has recently been brought to the fore, and defended by Tim Williamson, who uses it in to characterize alethic necessity by exploiting such equivalences as: A⇔¬A (...) A. One might wish to postulate an analogous connection for indicative conditionals, with indicatives whose antecedents are (in some relevant sense) epistemically impossible being vacuously true: and indeed, the modal account of indicative conditionals of Brian Weatherson has exactly this feature.4 This allows one to characterize an epistemic modal by the equivalence A⇔¬A→A. For simplicity, in what follows we write A as KA and think of it as expressing that subject S knows that A.5 The connection to probability has received much attention. Stalnaker (1970) suggested, as a way of articulating the ‘Ramsey Test’, the following very general schema for indicative conditionals relative to some probability function P: P(A→B) = P(B|A) 1For example, Nolan (2003); Weatherson (2001); Gillies (2007). 2For example Stalnaker (1970); McGee (1989); Adams (1975). 3Lewis (1973). See Nolan (1997) for criticism. 4‘epistemically possible’ here means incompatible with what is known (where ‘what is known’ is to be cashed out in some relevant sense). 5This idea was suggested to me in conversation by John Hawthorne. I do not know of it being explored in print. The plausibility of this characterization will depend on the exact sense of ‘epistemically possible’ in play—if it is compatibility with what a single subject knows, then can be read ‘the relevant subject knows that p’. If it is more delicately formulated, we might be able to read as the epistemic modal ‘must’.. (shrink)
This essay examines Hegel’s critique of Kant’s concept of critical philosophy, set forth principally in his Phenomenology of Spirit and Encyclopedia. In the former Hegel presents a hermeneutical critique of Kant, to wit, the concept of critique presupposes a concept of knowledge construed as an instrument. On this assumption the “instrument” of knowledge is supposed to be examined apart from and in advance of its application. But Hegel objects that the underlying conception of knowledge as an instrument undermines the cognitive (...) project because it separates the knower from the known; it is self-defeating because it cuts us off from what we seek to know. Further, Hegel asks, what is the status of the critique? Is it knowledge? In order to determine the boundaries of cognition, Kant is forced repeatedly to transgress those very boundaries. Hegel’s objection does not signal a repudiation of critique. Rather Hegel demands that critique not be separated from actual cognition, and that it constitute an integral moment of speculative philosophy. The exploration of this requirement takes us into an examination of Hegel’s account of phenomenological critique, his account of Kant’s paralogisms, his analysis of the spurious infinite and its overcoming in the genuine infinite. (shrink)
According to Hegel, the true infinite is the fundamental concept of philosophy. Yet despite this fact, there is absence of consensus concerning its meaning and significance. The true infinite challenges the currently dominant non-metaphysical interpretations of Hegel, as it challenged the dominance of the Kantian framework in its own day, specifically Kant’s attack on theology and his treatment of theology as a postulate of moralit y. Kant admits that the God-postulate has only subjective necessity and validity, and is an expression (...) of moral faith. Hegel both accepts Kant’s approach to the God-question through freedom and practical reason, but he rejects Kant’s philosophy of the postulates as incoherent, burdened with finitude and antithesis. The ought is only the beginning of the transcendence of finitude, but also essentially clings to finitude. This is the spurious infinite. In contrast to the traditional view of abstract transcendence, Hegel shows that the very attempt to separate the infinite from the finite only renders the infinite finite and levels it. The consciousness of limit (finitude) implies a transcendence of limit. The true infinite is an onto-theological principle, a social infinite that overcomes the limits imposed by abstract transcendence and the dualisms imposed by the Kantian frame. It is of vital importance for Hegel’s philosophy of religion, as both a doctrine of divine presence and absolute spirit in its community. (shrink)
Hegel’s True Infinite is “well known” but there is little consensus concerning its meaning. The true infinite is introduced in Hegel’s deconstruction of traditional conceptions of quality, determinacy and reality as wholly positive and from which negation, limitation and determinacy are excluded. Everything is other than and unrelated to everything else. These assumptions yield the stubborn category of finitude as an absolute limit, and of God as abstract unknowable Beyond. But Hegel claims that every attempt to separate the infinite from (...) the finite makes the infinite itself finite—the spurious infinite, the “ought.” The true infinite is the negation/correction of the spurious infinite; it reinstates the relations suppressed by the understanding. The true infinite is an ontotheological conception of a social infinite: it is both absolute—in and for itself—and related—being for an other—to wit, an articulated, inclusive whole. It is not an acosmic pantheism like Spinoza’s that defrauds difference and finitude of their due. The true infinite presupposes as its corollary the idealit y of the finite. The latter articulates the ontological status of the finite as sublated in the true infinite, i.e. as a member both distinct from and related to (dependent on) the true infinite. The true infinite is the whole present in its members. The true infinite is neither traditional theism (the assertion of abstract transcendence), nor atheism (the denial of abstracttranscendence) nor pantheism (that eliminates finitude), nor a projection of finitude (Feuerbach). It is best understood as panentheism. (shrink)
Critical thinking measures have often been empirically associated with other cognitive dimensions (e.g., achievement test scores, IQ scores, exam scores) but seldom with sociopolitical perspectives. Consequently, the current study examined the relationship of critical thinking to sociopolitical values reflective of political ideology, namely respect for civil liberties, emphasis on national security, militarism, and support for the Iraq War. In a sample of 232 undergraduates attending a Southeastern university, critical thinking correlated significantly with respect for civil liberties (.19), emphasis on national (...) security (-.29), militarism (-.25), and support for the Iraq War (-.28). A logistic regression analysis showed that the sociopolitical measures significantly predicted placement in high and low critical thinking groups, with support for the Iraq War being the primary predictor. A multivariate analysis (MANOVA) revealed that the sociopolitical means for the high and low critical thinking groups all differed significantly. The results suggest that critical thinking scores are generally predictive of liberal versus conservative political ideology. (shrink)
A number of authors from different theoretical perspectives have called for new interdisciplinary ways of considering learning within the higher education context. Peter Jarvis’s lifelong learning perspective offers a viable alternative, but lacks a strong theory of the person as self, agent and actor. In response I propose that Margaret Archer’s realist social theory has a particular utility for bridging ‘common dualisms’ as part of an interdisciplinary enquiry into higher education learning, and offers a strong theory of the person.
Since its formation in 1947, the World Medical Association (WMA) has been a leading voice in international medical ethics. The WMA’s principal ethics activity over the years has been policy development on a wide variety of issues in medical research, medical practice and health care delivery. With the establishment of a dedicated Ethics Unit in 2003, the WMA’s ethics activities have intensified in the areas of liaison, outreach and product development. Initial priorities for the Ethics Unit have been the review (...) of paragraph 30 of the Declaration of Helsinki, the expansion of the Ethics Unit section of the WMA website and the development of an ethics manual for medical students everywhere. (shrink)
High-spin states in the odd-odd N = Z nucleus Co-54 have been investigated by the fusion-evaporation reaction Si-28(S-32,1 alpha 1p1n)Co-54. Gamma-ray information gathered with the Ge detector array Gammasphere was correlated with evaporated particles detected in the charged particle detector system Microball and a 1 pi neutron detector array. A significantly extended excitation scheme of Co-54 is presented, which includes a candidate for the isospin T = 1, 6(+) state of the 1f(7/2)(-2) multiplet. The results are compared to large-scale shell-model (...) calculations in the fp shell. Effective interactions with and without isospin-breaking terms have been used to probe isospin symmetry and isospin mixing. A quest for deformed high-spin rotational cascades proved negative. This feature is discussed by means of cranking calculations. (shrink)
Canadians frequently have recourse to public commissions as a means of dealing with contentious public policy issues. This essay examines the role of philosophers and philosophy in nine such commissions, all of which have dealt with issues in biomedical ethics. The principal findings of this essay are that philosophers have not been used extensively by these commissions, and that the philosophical aspects of the issues under investigation have been dealt with quite inadequately. The essay concludes with suggestions for an expanded (...) role for philosophers in such commissions. Keywords: bioethics, Canada, commissions, inquiries, philosophers CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)