Although Caenorhabditis elegans was chosen and modified to be an organism that would facilitate a reductionist program for neurogenetics, recent research has provided evidence for properties that are emergent from the neurons. While neurogenetic advances have been made using C. elegans which may be useful in explaining human neurobiology, there are severe limitations on C. elegans to explain any significant human behavior.
I take up the task of examining how someone who takes seriously the ambitious programme of conceptual analysis advocated by the Canberra School can minimise the eliminative consequences which I argue the Ramsey-Carnap-Lewis recipe of conceptual analysis is likely to have for many folk discourses. The objective is to find a stable means to preserve the constative appearance of folk discourse and to find it generally successful in its attempts to describe an external world, albeit in non-scientific terms that do (...) not reflect the nature of things. The view I settle on, quasi-fictionalism, is modelled on a modified descriptivist version of Kendall Walton’s account of prop-oriented games of make-believe. (shrink)
Leibniz viewed the principle of continuity, the principle that all natural changes are produced by degrees, as a useful heuristic for evaluating the truth of a theory. Since the Cartesian laws of motion entailed discontinuities in the natural order, Leibniz could safely reject it as a false theory. The principle of continuity has similar implications for analyses of Leibniz's theory of consciousness. I briefly survey the three main interpretations of Leibniz's theory of consciousness and argue that the standard account entails (...) a discontinuity that Leibniz could not allow. I argue that the principle of continuity and the textual data favor an interpretation according to which a conscious mental state just is a perception that is distinct to a sufficient degree. (shrink)
This article criticises David Lewis's attempt to use his philosophical analysis of convention to reconcile the picture of languages as model-theoretic objects and the picture of languages as human social activity.
In this article, I develop a higher-order interpretation of Leibniz's theory of consciousness according to which memory is constitutive of consciousness. I offer an account of Leibniz's theory of memory on which his theory of consciousness may be based, and I then show that Leibniz could have developed a coherent higher-order account. However, it is not clear whether Leibniz held (or should have held) such an account of consciousness; I sketch an alternative that has at least as many advantages as (...) the higher-order theory. This analysis provides an important antecedent to the contemporary discussions of higher-order theories of consciousness. (shrink)
Holistic accounts of meaning normally incorporate a subjective dimension that invites the criticism that they make communication impossible, for speakers are bound to differ in ways the accounts take to be relevant to meaning, and holism generalises any difference over some words to a difference about all, and this seems incompatible with the idea that successful communication requires mutual understanding. I defend holism about meaning from this criticism. I argue that the same combination of properties (subjective origins of value, holism (...) among values, and ultimate publicity of value) is exhibited by monetary value and take the emergence of equilibrium prices as a model for the emergence of public meanings. (shrink)
Russell's criticisms force Meinong to adopt a distinction between two types of negation. Logical expositions of Meinong's theory show the distinction is easily drawn in formal terms, but that alone does not justify the distinction intuitively.I criticise Routley'streatment of the distinction and argue that only Terence Parsons'theory retains and preserves the tight network of conceptual connections between the notions of negation, contradiction and impossibility. Hence, Parsons' approach best expresses the Meinongian perspective.
It is argued that in many cases surrogate mothers are exploited when they participate in altruistic surrogacy arrangements, since their altruistic personality structure is not in the relevant sense ``their own.'' The question of whether paternalistic interference is justified in these cases is discussed. Such interference seems to be acceptable on condition that the person interfering is someone belonging to the woman's intimate sphere.
Throughout his philosophical career at Michigan, UCLA, Yale, and Oxford, Robert Merrihew Adams's wide-ranging contributions have deeply shaped the structure of debates in metaphysics, philosophy of religion, history of philosophy, and ethics. Metaphysics and the Good: Themes from the Philosophy of Robert Merrihew Adams provides, for the first time, a collection of original essays by leading philosophers dedicated to exploring many of the facets of Adams's thought, a philosophical outlook that combines Christian theism, neo-Platonism, moral realism, metaphysical idealism, and a (...) commitment to both historical sensitivity and rigorous analytic engagement. Tied together by their aim of exploring, expanding, and experimenting with Adams's views, these eleven essays are coupled with an intellectual autobiography by Adams himself that was commissioned especially for this volume. As the introduction to the volume explains, the purpose of Metaphysics and the Good is to explore Adams's work in the very manner that he prescribes for understanding the ideas of others. By experimenting with Adams's conclusions, "pulling a string here to see what moves over there, so to speak," as Adams puts it, our authors throw into greater relief what makes Adams such an original and stimulating philosopher. In doing so, these essays contribute not only to the exploration of Adams's continuing interests, but they also advance original and important philosophical insights of their own. (shrink)
Fodor & Lepore (2001) and Williamson (2003) attack the inferentialist account of concept possession according to which possessing or understanding a concept requires endorsing the inference patterns constitutive of its content. I show that Fodor & Lepore's concern – that the conception places an exorbitant epistemological demands on possessors of a concept – is met by Brandom's tolerance of materially bad nonconservative inferences. Such inferences themselves, as Williamson argues, present difficulties for the 'understanding as endorsement' conception. I show that, properly (...) understood, Brandom's broad conception of inferential role, which encompasses social-perspectival inferential connections, has the resources to respond to Willianson's challenge. (shrink)
Russell's objections to object-theory have been refuted by the proofs of the consistency of Meinong's system given by various writers. These proofs exploit technical distinctions that Meinong apparently uses very little if at all. Instead, Meinong introduces a theoretical postulate called the modal moment. I describe this postulate and its place in Meinong's system, and I argue that it has been much under-rated by Meinong's logician expositors.
The account of vagueness Bertrand Russell provided in his 1923 paper, entitled simply “Vagueness” (see Russell 1997), has been thought by some to be inconsistent. One main objection, raised by Timothy Williamson (1994), is that Russell’s attempt early in the paper to distinguish vagueness from generality is at odds with the definition of vagueness he presents later in the same paper. It is as if, as Williamson puts it, Russell “backslides” from his previous distinction (1994, 60), resulting in a conflation (...) of generality and vagueness that is at best problematic for a rigorous account of the phenomenon of vagueness. In this paper, I will defend Russell from this particular objection. While his 1923 paper may not be as clear at various points as one might hope, I do believe it is possible to construct a single theory of vagueness that can be applied equally well to his earlier and later discussions. Thus, Russell’s view is not ultimately inconsistent. In this paper, I will first present the interpretation of Russell’s concept of vagueness that falls prey to the charge of conflating vagueness and generality. Once the problem is clear, I will present an alternative interpretation, one that arises from certain reflections on G. W. Leibniz’s theory of perception. This Leibnizian interpretation of Russell, I will argue, resolves the apparent contradiction in Russell’s account of vagueness. (shrink)
In this aricle, I argue that Descartes can be seen as a occupying a distinct middle ground between ancient music theory, which was being revived in the Renaissance, and eighteenth-century aestheticians. Descartes’ approach to music had its roots in humanist thought but, even from the start, it wasn’t simply another humanist theory of music. The views Descartes begins to develop in his early years, in the Compendium musicae (1618), is continuous with the views he articulates near the end of his (...) life in the Passions of the Soul (1649). And the position on the effects of music is an interesting and important one, bridging humanist thought with the new philosophy. Unlike the humanists, Descartes will be unwilling to identify particular musical proportions as intrinsically connected with pleasure or other affects, but he will nevertheless develop an objective account of aesthetic value. (shrink)
An Internet persona known as "Erik" reviewed those aspects of my book No Free Lunch dealing with the Law of Conservation of Information and specificational resources. Erik's review is titled "On Dembski's Law of Conservation of Information" and is available at http://www.talkreason.org/articles/dembski_LCI.pdf. I respond to the review here.
Material kept in the National Library of Finland shows that from 1963 until 1969 Erik Stenius (1911–1990) worked on a book on antinomies , having been invited by the Dutch logician Evert Beth (1908–1964) to contribute a monograph to the North-Holland series Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics . The book was never published, but the manuscript has been found, and it is the purpose of this note to report on this finding.
In my response to Kevin Carnahan, I explain the concept of religion that I have been working with in my writings on the place of religious reasons in public political discourse. While acknowledging that religion is often privatized, my concern has been with religion as a way of life. It is religion so understood that raises the most serious issues concerning the role of religion in public discourse. In my response to Erik A. Anderson, I go beyond what I (...) have previously said about the role of religious reasons in public discourse. As an alternative to Rawlsian public reason, I argue that the essence of liberal democracy is that every citizen is to have equal political voice. I go on to consider what it is to exercise one’s equal political voice as a moral engagement. (shrink)
I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally responsible for the (...) good. I argue that the best theory of the meaning of life should clearly distinguish between subjective fulfillment and objective meaningfulness. The GCA respects the distinction. And it is superior to its leading rivals in the recent literature, most notably those of Erik Wielenberg and Susan Wolf. (shrink)