Cambridge professor Simon Blackburn is best known to the general public as the author of several books of popular philosophy such as ink, Being Good andTruth: a Guide for the Perplexed. Academic philosophers also know him as the author of one of the most important books of contemporary moral philosophy, Ruling Passions, and as a former editor of the leading journal Mind.
Choi (Philosophia, 38(3), 2010) argues that my counterexamples in Lee (Philosophia, 38(3), 2010) to the simple conditional analysis of disposition ascription are bogus counterexamples. In this paper, I argue that Choi’s arguments are not satisfactory and that my examples are genuine counterexamples.
This paper presents a critical appraisal of the recent turn in comparative religious ethics to virtue theory; it argues that the specific aspirations of virtue ethicists to make ethics more contextual, interdisciplinary, and practice-centered has in large measure failed to match the rhetoric. I suggest that the focus on the category of the human and practices associated with self-formation along with a methodology grounded in “analogical imagination” has actually poeticized the subject matter into highly abstract textual studies on normative voices (...) within traditions, largely in isolation from considerations of socio-historical context, political and institutional pressures, and the lived ethics of non-elite moral actors. I conclude with some programmatic suggestions for how the field of comparative religious ethics can move forward. (shrink)
This volume collects some influential essays in which Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of philosophical problems: the way in which our judgments relate to the world. This debate has centered on realism, or the view that what we say is validated by the way things stand in the world, and a variety of oppositions to it. Prominent among the latter are expressive and projective theories, but also a relaxed pluralism (...) that discourages the view that there are substantial issues at stake. The figure of the "quasi-realist" dramatizes the difficulty of conducting these debates. Typically philosophers thinking of themselves as realists will believe that they alone can give a proper or literal account of some of our attachments--to truth, to facts, to the independent world, to knowledge and certainty. The quasi-realist challenge, developed by Blackburn in this volume, is that we can have those attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle. The cases treated here include the theories of value and knowledge, modality, probability, causation, intentionality and rule-following, and explanation. A substantial new introduction has been added, drawing together some of the central themes. The essays articulate a fresh alternative to a primitive realist/anti-realist opposition, and their cumulative effect is to yield a new appreciation of the delicacy of the debate in these central areas. (shrink)
Simon Blackburn puts forward a compelling and original philosophy of human motivation and morality. Why do we behave as we do? Can we improve? Is our ethics at war with our passions, or is it an upshot of those passions? Blackburn seeks the answers to such questions in an exploration of the nature of moral emotions and the structures of human motivation. He develops a naturalistic ethics, which integrates our understanding of ethics with the rest of our understanding (...) of the world we live in. His theory does not debunk the ethical by reducing it to the non-ethical, and it banishes the spectres of scepticism and relativism that have haunted recent moral philosophy. Ruling Passions reveals how ethics can maintain its authority even though it is rooted in the very emotions and motivations that it exists to control. (shrink)
Here at last is a coherent, unintimidating introduction to the challenging and fascinating landscape of Western philosophy. Written expressly for "anyone who believes there are big questions out there, but does not know how to approach them," Think provides a sound framework for exploring the most basic themes of philosophy, and for understanding how major philosophers have tackled the questions that have pressed themselves most forcefully on human consciousness. Simon Blackburn, author of the best-selling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, begins (...) by making a convincing case for the relevance of philosophy and goes on to give the reader a sense of how the great historical figures such as Plato, Hume, Kant, Descartes, and others have approached its central themes. In a lively and accessible style, Blackburn approaches the nature of human reflection and how we think, or can think, about knowledge, fate, ethics, identity, God, reason, and truth. Each chapter explains a major issue, and gives the reader a self-contained guide through the problems that the philosophers have studied. Because the text approaches these issues from the gound up, the untrained reader will emerge from its pages able to explore other philosophies with greater pleasure and understanding and be able to think--philosophically--for him or herself. Philosophy is often dismissed as a purely academic discipline with no relation to the "real" world non-philosophers are compelled to inhabit. Think dispels this myth and offers a springboard for all those who want to learn how the basic techniques of thinking shape virtually every aspect of our existence. (shrink)
Relativism, the position that things are for each as they seem to each, was first formulated in Western philosophy by Protagoras, the 5th century BC Greek orator and teacher. Mi-Kyoung Lee focuses on the challenge to the possibility of expert knowledge posed by Protagoras, together with responses by the three most important philosophers of the next generation, Plato, Aristotle, and Democritus. In his book Truth, Protagoras made vivid use of two provocative but imperfectly spelled out ideas: first, that we are (...) all "measures" of the truth and that we are each already capable of determining how things are for ourselves, since the senses are our best and most credible guides to the truth; second, given that things appear differently to different people, there is no basis on which to decide that one appearance is true rather than the other. Plato developed these ideas into a more fully worked-out theory, which he then subjected to refutation in the Theaetetus. Aristotle argued that Protagoras' ideas lead to skepticism in Metaphysics Book G, a chapter which reflects awareness of Plato's reaction in the Theaetetus. And finally Democritus incorporated modified Protagorean ideas and arguments into his theory of knowledge and perception. There have been many important recent studies of these thinkers in isolation. However, there has been no attempt to tell a single, coherent story about how Democritus, Plato, and Aristotle responded to Protagoras' striking claim, and to its perceived implications about knowledge, perception, and truth. By studying these four figures in relation to each other, we arrive at a better understanding of an important chapter in the development of Greek epistemology. (shrink)
Sukjae Lee John Duns Scotus believes it to be undeniably true that we human beings have free will. He does not argue for our freedom but rather explains it. There are two elements which are both characteristic of and essential to Scotus’ account of human will: namely, 1) the will as a self-determining power for opposites, thus a ‘rational’ power; and 2) the ‘dual affections of the will.’2 The significance of each element taken separately is comprehensible if not obvious. We (...) are puzzled, however, when we attempt to ascertain the relation between the two. This paper is an attempt to reach an adequate understanding of this relation. (shrink)
An original study of the philosophical problems associated with inductive reasoning. Like most of the main questions in epistemology, the classical problem of induction arises from doubts about a mode of inference used to justify some of our most familiar and pervasive beliefs. The experience of each individual is limited and fragmentary, yet the scope of our beliefs is much wider; and it is the relation between belief and experience, in particular the belief that the future will in some respects (...) resemble the past and the unobserved the observed, which forms the subject of this book. Dr Blackburn's first aim is to state the problem of induction properly, to show that there does exist a genuine problem immune to the solutions in vogue at present, yet no tin principle insoluble. He gives an extended and original account of the concept of a reason and goes on to discuss prediction. In the end Dr Blackburn produces a rationale for belief in certain short-term predictions based on his reinterpretation of the classical principle of indifference. He claims that a justification for induction can be found along the lines he has suggested and must indeed be found there if anywhere. (shrink)
This paper concerns broadly with the works of such ethical postmodern theorists as Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Giles Deleuze, focusing on how we can contribute to the development of their ideas by discussing Laozi and Zhuanzi’s Taoism, Buddhism, and modern Korean Neo-Confucianism of Toe-gae Lee. I claim that for criticism and art, literature, film and culture as well as philosophy itself, we are now facing this new need of another notion of subjectivity that not only accepts difference but takes the (...) position of whole positivity toward the Other. This different view of subjectivity that can be called "the sublime subjectivity" or the sublime totality of a human being or a society is essentially an aesthetic one, rather than one that depends upon logic, and it is vital to take advantage of Oriental ideas. From the perspective of the ethics of Levinas, I first place the sublime, jouissance, or pure enjoyment, at the heart of literary criticism. The pure sensibility of the sublime, or jouissance, unlike the raw feelings of pleasure, is an aesthetic sensibility beyond the ontological unity of feelings of pleasures and pains. Then with the Oriental thought, I make an attempt to contribute to the development of the ideas on the ethics of the relation of the reader and the literary text’s language. Laozi’s Taote Ching, Chuanzi, Diamond Sutra, and Toe-gae Lee’s notion of Taeguk are briefly explored in view of the aesthetic transphenomenal dimension and the sublime totality. (shrink)
: The slogan "the personal is political" captures the distinctive challenge to the public-private divide posed by contemporary feminists. As such, feminist activism is not necessarily congruent with civic engagement, which is predicated on the paradoxical need to both bridge and sustain the public-private divide. Lee argues that rather than subverting the divide, the politics of the personal offers an alternative understanding of civic engagement that aims to reinstate individuals' dignity and agency.
In the wake of much previous work on Gilles Deleuze's relations to other thinkers (including Bergson, Spinoza and Leibniz), his relation to Kant is now of great and active interest and a thriving area of research. In the context of the wider debate between 'naturalism' and 'transcendental philosophy', the implicit dispute between Deleuze's 'transcendental empiricism' and Kant's 'transcendental idealism' is of prime philosophical concern. -/- Bringing together the work of international experts from both Deleuze scholarship and Kant scholarship, Thinking Between (...) Deleuze and Kant addresses explicitly the varied and various connections between these two great European philosophers, providing key material for understanding the central philosophical problems in the wider 'naturalism/ transcendental philosophy' debate. The book reflects an area of great current interest in Deleuze Studies and initiates an ongoing interest in Deleuze within Kant scholarship. The contributors are Mick Bowles, Levi R. Bryant, Patricia Farrell, Christian Kerslake, Matt Lee, Michael J. Olson, Henry Somers-Hall and Edward Willatt. (shrink)
The author of the highly popular book Think, which Time magazine hailed as "the one book every smart person should read to understand, and even enjoy, the key questions of philosophy," Simon Blackburn is that rara avis--an eminent thinker who is able to explain philosophy to the general reader. Now Blackburn offers a tour de force exploration of what he calls "the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy"--the age-old war over truth. The front lines (...) of this war are well defined. On one side are those who believe in plain, unvarnished facts, rock-solid truths that can be found through reason and objectivity--that science leads to truth, for instance. Their opponents mock this idea. They see the dark forces of language, culture, power, gender, class, ideology and desire--all subverting our perceptions of the world, and clouding our judgement with false notions of absolute truth. Beginning with an early skirmish in the war--when Socrates confronted the sophists in ancient Athens--Blackburn offers a penetrating look at the longstanding battle these two groups have waged, examining the philosophical battles fought by Plato, Protagoras, William James, David Hume, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty, and many others, with a particularly fascinating look at Nietzsche. Among the questions Blackburn considers are: is science mere opinion, can historians understand another historical period, and indeed can one culture ever truly understand another. Blackburn concludes that both sides have merit, and that neither has exclusive ownership of truth. What is important is that, whichever side we embrace, we should know where we stand and what is to be said for our opponents. (shrink)
Abstract This study was designed to investigate the factors affecting ethical practices of public relations professionals in public relations firms. In particular, the following organizational ethics factors were examined: (1) presence of ethics code, (2) top management support for ethical practice, (3) ethical climate, and (4) perception of the association between career success and ethical practice. Analysis revealed that the presence of an ethics code along with top management support and a non-egoistic ethical climate within public relations firms significantly influenced (...) public relations professionals' ethical practices. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s13520-011-0013-1 Authors Eyun-Jung Ki, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, College of Communication and Information Sciences, The University of Alabama, Box 870172, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0172, USA Junghyuk Lee, Division of Communication Arts, Kwangwoon University, Seoul, South Korea Hong-Lim Choi, School of Communication, Sun Moon University, 100, Kalsan-ri, Tangjeong-myeon, Asan-si, Chungnam 336-708, South Korea Journal Asian Journal of Business Ethics Online ISSN 2210-6731 Print ISSN 2210-6723. (shrink)
What are the ethical principles underpinning the idea of a just war and how should they be adapted to changing social and military circumstances? In this book, Steven P. Lee presents the basic principles of just war theory, showing how they evolved historically and how they are applied today in global relations. He examines the role of state sovereignty and individual human rights in the moral foundations of just war theory and discusses a wide range of topics including humanitarian intervention, (...) preventive war, the moral status of civilians and enemy combatants, civil war and terrorism. He shows how just war theory relates to both pacifism and realism. Finally, he considers the future of war and the prospects for its obsolescence. His clear and wide-ranging discussion, richly illustrated with examples, will be invaluable for students and other readers interested in the ethical challenges posed by the changing nature of war. (shrink)
It is not only in our dark hours that scepticism, relativism, hypocrisy, and nihilism dog ethics. Whether it is a matter of giving to charity, or sticking to duty, or insisting on our rights, we can be confused, or be paralysed by the fear that our principles are groundless. Many are afraid that in a Godless world science has unmasked us as creatures fated by our genes to be selfish and tribalistic, or competitive and aggressive. Simon Blackburn, author of (...) the best-selling Think, structures this short introduction around these and other threats to ethics. Confronting seven different objections to our self-image as moral, well-behaved creatures, he charts a course through the philosophical quicksands that often engulf us. Then, turning to problems of life and death, he shows how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the sound-bite sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates. Finally he offers a critical tour of the ways the philosophical tradition has tried to provide foundations for ethics, from Plato and Aristotle through to contemporary debates. (shrink)
Examining the literature of slavery and race before the Civil War, Maurice Lee demonstrates for the first time exactly how the slavery crisis became a crisis of philosophy that exposed the breakdown of national consensus and the limits of rational authority. Poe, Stowe, Douglass, Melville, and Emerson were among the antebellum authors who tried - and failed - to find rational solutions to the slavery conflict. Unable to mediate the slavery controversy as the nation moved toward war, their writings (...) form an uneasy transition between the confident rationalism of the American Enlightenment and the more skeptical thought of the pragmatists. Lee draws on antebellum moral philosophy, political theory, and metaphysics, bringing a fresh perspective to the literature of slavery - one that synthesizes cultural studies and intellectual history to argue that romantic, sentimental, and black Atlantic writers all struggled with modernity when facing the slavery crisis. (shrink)
Lust, says Simon Blackburn, is furtive, headlong, always sizing up opportunities. It is a trail of clothing in the hallway, the trashy cousin of love. But be that as it may, the aim of this delightful book is to rescue lust "from the denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessor and the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to drag it from the category of sin to that of virtue." (...) class='Hi'>Blackburn, author of such popular philosophy books as Think and Being Good, here offers a sharp-edged probe into the heart of lust, blending together insight from some of the world's greatest thinkers on sex, human nature, and our common cultural foibles. Blackburn takes a wide ranging, historical approach, discussing lust as viewed by Aristophanes and Plato, lust in the light of the Stoic mistrust of emotion, and the Christian fear of the flesh that catapulted lust to the level of deadly sin. He describes how philosophical pessimists like Schopenhauer and Sartre contributed to our thinking about lust and explores the false starts in understanding lust represented by Freud, Kinsey, and modern "evolutionary psychology." But most important, Blackburn reminds us that lust is also life-affirming, invigorating, fun. He points to the work of David Hume (Blackburn's favorite philosopher) who saw lust not only as a sensual delight but also "a joy of the mind." Written by one of the most eminent living philosophers, attractively illustrated and colourfully packaged, Lust is a book that anyone would lust over. (shrink)
Este artigo canta uma canção — uma canção criada ao unir o trabalho de quatro grandes nomes na história da lógica: Hans Reichenbach, Arthur Prior, Richard Montague, e Leon Henkin. Embora a obra dos primeiros três desses autores tenha sido previamente combinada, acrescentar as ideias de Leon Henkin é o acréscimo requerido para fazer com que essa combinação funcione no nível lógico. Mas o presente trabalho não se concentra nas tecnicalidades subjacentes (que podem ser encontradas em Areces, Blackburn, Huertas, (...) e Manzano [no prelo]), e sim nos instrumentos subjacentes e no modo como trabalham em conjunto. Esperamos que o leitor fique tentado a cantar junto. DOI:10.5007/1808-1711.2011v15n2p225. (shrink)
Plato is perhaps the most significant philosopher who has ever lived and The Republic , composed in Athens in about 375 BC, is widely regarded as his most famous dialogue. Its discussion of the perfect city — and the perfect mind — laid the foundations for Western culture and, for over two thousand years, has been the cornerstone of Western philosophy. As the distinguished Cambridge professor Simon Blackburn points out, it has probably sustained more commentary, and been subject to (...) more radical and impassioned disagreement, than almost any other of the great founding texts of the modern world. In Plato’s Republic , Blackburn explains the judicial, moral and political ideas in the Republic with dazzling insight and clarity. Blackburn also examines Republic’s remarkable influence and unquestioned staying power, and shows why, from St. Augustine to twentieth century philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Henri Bergson, Western thought is still conditioned by this most important, and contemporary, of books. (shrink)
From political scandals at the highest levels to inflated repair bills at the local garage, we are seemingly surrounded with unethical behavior, so why should we behave any differently? Why should we go through life anchored down by rules no one else seems to follow? Writing with wit and elegance, Simon Blackburn tackles such questions in this lively look at ethics, highlighting the complications and doubts and troubling issues that spring from the very simple question of how we ought (...) to live. Blackburn dissects many common reasons why we are skeptical about ethics. Drawing on all-too-familiar examples from history, politics, religion and everyday personal experience, he shows how cynicism and self-consciousness can paralyze us into considering ethics a hopeless pursuit. But ethics is neither futile nor irrelevant, he assures us, but an intimate part of the nitty gritty issues of living--of birth, death, happiness, desire, freedom, pleasure, justice. Indeed, from moral dilemmas about abortion and euthanasia, to our obsession with personal rights, to our longing for a sense of meaning in life, our everyday struggles are rife with ethical issues, whether we notice it or not. Blackburn distills the arguments of Hume, Kant and Aristotle down to their essences, to underscore the timeless relevance of our voice of conscience, the pitfalls of complacency, and our concerns about truth, knowledge and human progress. Blackburn's rare combination of depth, rigor and sparkling prose, and his distinguished ranking among contemporary philosophers, mark Being Good as an important statement on our current disenchantment with ethics. It challenges us to take a more thoughtful reading of our ethical climate and to ponder more carefully our own standards of behavior. (shrink)
Beyond Behaviorism explores and contrasts means and ends psychology with conventional psychology -- that of stimuli and response. The author develops this comparison by exploring the general nature of psychological phenomena and clarifying many persistent doubts about psychology. Dr. Lee contrasts conventional psychology (stimuli and responses) involving reductionistic, organocentric, and mechanistic metatheory with alternative psychology (means and ends) that is autonomous, contextual, and evolutionary.
An examination of the relationship between law and morals, this wide-ranging book develops themes addressed by Hart and Devlin, relating them to issues and events of current interest. Lee covers such timely concerns as: the Moral Majority; embryo experiments and surrogate motherhood; contraception, children's rights, and parents' rights; informed medical consent; equality and discrimination; and freedom of expression and pornography. Stressing the relevance of these issues to the lives of all of us, Lee argues for broader participation in debate on (...) this topic. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 2–5 To begin with, as we understand from a remote place like Seoul, there have been two different conceptions of materiality in the Western experimental ?lm history: materiality of cinema and of ?lm. The former has been represented by the practitioners of the so-called the “Expanded Cinema” and the latter by the tradition of the “Hand-made” ?lm. Whereas for the Expanded Cinema, the materiality or the “medium-speci?city” includes not only the ?lm material but also the entire condition (...) and environment in which the cinematic experience is situated (i.e.: screen, projector, audience and theatre); for the Hand-made ?lm, it is the whole ?lmic process prior to the screening in front of the audience (i.e.: hand-processing and optical-printing). The two practices share in the materialist turn that opens up the radical possibilities of aesthetic (and even political) interventions into a process previously considered seamless and transparent. What can be called to attention through the materialist turn includes the aesthetic-institutional process in the projection-spectator relation and the (non-) representational process in ?lm-making. Moreover, these interventions bring their own temporalities back to those processes, and this returning emancipates the temporalities from their subordination to the cinema-as-commodity. Hangjun Lee is a ?lm-based artist whose practice is concerned with Hand-made Film and Experimental Cinema. Given these interests, Lee questions the linkage between materiality and temporality. This was his preoccupation around 2006, the time at which he started to collaborate with Chulki Hong, the noise improviser. The improvisational nature of their audio-visual performances opened means of detouring from the conventional editing techniques. Their collaboration also afforded critical investigations into the performativity of the practices in both the darkroom and the screening room, as well as in the private recording/practicing studio, and public performance spaces for the improvising musician. In fact, it was a kind of common interest shared by both us from the outset. In our collaboration, we avoid sacri?cing/concealing/minimizing one form of performativity (the performative nature and temporality of compositional process) for the sake of the other (i.e. those in improvisational and executional process). In the ?eld of experimental music and sound, this kind of approach has been comprehensively called “cracking” or “hacking”. The concepts are ?nely formulated in the coinage of “Cracked Everyday Electronics” (by Voice Crack) or more generally “Handmade Electronic Music” (by Nicolas Collins). 1 And this was a pure but perhaps necessary coincidence. the original title of the work of our collaboration and, retrospectively, of the set of our working principles at the same time, “The Cracked Share” was named by Lee after Georges Bataille’s masterwork, The Accursed Share , with the substitution of the adjective with “Cracked” as a synonym for ‘reticulated’ in the photographic image. We think the ascetic and subtractive aesthetic turn of the contemporary non-idiomatic improvised (and even somewhat non-improvised) music 2 pushed us further towards more radical dissociation with the empty temporality of commodi?ed audio-visual experience. It can be called the aesthetics of “without,” and exemplars include Yoshihide Otomo’s Turntable Without Records , Sachiko M’s Sampler without Samples . There are also other radical experiments even with the (non-)improvised music without noise and sounds that neatly meet the rules and idioms of the existing/established experimental music. For us, this thread among the experimental music currents weighs in its emphasis on subtractive and dissociational power unique to improvisational action. Surely, the tradition of the Cracked and Handmade improvised music teaches us the crucial lesson that “[m]edia and mediation are never transparent” and that “[m]ediation actively transforms data from one form to another and is never passive.” 3 We couldn’t agree to this statement more. However, without the removal and withdrawal power of improvisation that poses and keeps both subjects (performer and audience) and objects (projector and instrument) in “inferiority,” 4 generalized cracking and hacking practices—or simply “glitch”—in music and visuals would be either sublimated into the mystical and ritualistic forms of “Film Alchemy” and “Noise Music” (to which both of us still strongly feel a belonging but also, more or less, ambivalent sentiments), or else assimilated into the logic of the commodi?ed audio-visual communication. Today in music, this principle of improvisational performativity should be formulated as the dis-organization of sound against the associational de?nition of (electronic) music and it needs to be translated into audio-visual experiences. In other words, cracking practices of free improvisation need not be limited in artistic creativity, in a darkroom, in a studio, or on the stage; the principle of the dis-organization of sound should be the principle of dis-organization (or cracked organization) of audio-visual performance space itself. NOTES 1) Norbert Möslang, “How Does a Bicycle Light Sound?: Cracked Everyday Electronics,” Leonardo Music Journal 14 (2004): 83; Nicolas Collins, Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking (New York: Rutledge, 2006). 2) We refer this not to the historical style or genre but rather the idea and practice that ?free improvisation? stands for. On the distinction between idiomatic and non-idiomatic improvisation, see Derek Bailey, Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 1993). On radically politico-histrorical interpretations of free improvisation and noise music from various present viewpoints, see Noise and Capitalism , (eds.) Mattin & Anthony Iles (Arteleku Audiolab, 2009). 3) Caleb Kelly, Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009), p. 29. 4) I borrow the term from my long-time collaborator, Choi Joonyong. See Ryu Hankil, Hong Chulki & Choi Joonyong, Inferior Sounds (Balloon and Needle, CD, 2011). (shrink)
In this book, Keekok Lee asks the question, "what is an animal, and how does our treatment of it within captivity affect its status as a being ?" This ontological treatment marks the first such approach in looking at animals in captivity. Engaging with the moral questions of zoo-keeping (is it morally justified to keep a wild animal in captivity?) as well as the ontological (what is it that we conserve in zoos after all? A wild animal or its shadow?), (...) Lee develops her own original hypothesis, centred around the concept of "immuration"--defining this in contrast to domestication--and thereby provides a unique addition to the growing body of work on animal ethics. (shrink)
This paper discusses the possibility of an ethics of difference. It begins with an introduction to current poststructural and critical theories in order to show their significance for transcultural politics and ethics. Its theme is formulated in terms of the debate between the affirmation of ethical cognitivism cast in the form of universalism and the advocacy of moral skepticism in the mode of communitarianism. Distancing itself from the idea of universal morality, this paper attempts to respond to the challenge of (...) both communitarians and deconstructionists in contemporary French poststructuralism. In the end, it argues for transversality in place of universality. (shrink)
In this paper I contemplate two phenomena that have impressed theorists concerned with the domain of reasons and of normativity. One is the much-discussed ‘externality’ of reasons. Reasons are just there, anyway. They exist whether or not agents take any notice of them. They do not only exist in the light of contingent desires or mere inclinations. They are ‘external’ not ‘internal’. They bear on us, even when through ignorance or wickedness we take no notice of them. They thus very (...) conspicuously shine the lights of objectivity, and independence, and even necessity. By basking in this light, ethics is rescued from the slough of sentiment and preference, and regains the dignity denied to it by theorists such as Hobbes or Hume, Gibbard or myself. Many contemporary philosophers compete to stress the external nature of reasons, their shining objectivity.1 The other phenomenon is that of the inescapable ‘normativity’ of means-ends reasoning. Here the irrationality of intending an end but failing to intend the means is a shining beacon of pure practical reason in operation: an indisputable norm, again showing a sublime indifference to whatever weaknesses people actually have, and ideally fitted to provide a Trojan horse for inserting rationality into practical life. If the meansend principle is both practical and the child of rationality itself, then other principles of consistency or of humanity, or of universalizing the maxims of our action, can perhaps follow through the breach in the Humean citadel that it has spearheaded. And so we get the dazzling prospect that if people who choose badly are choosing against reason, then this can be seen to be a special and grave defect. It would locate the kind of fault they are indulging. It would give us, the people of reason, a special lever with which to dislodge their vices. Being able to corral knaves and villains in a compound reserved for those who trespass against reason and rationality may therefore represent definite progress. It is sad to have to spoil the party, but my claim is straightforward.. (shrink)
In twentieth-century Kant scholarship, few have provided an account of the analytic-synthetic distinction and of the problem of the synthetic a priori that takes into consideration the views of Kant's idealist successors such as Maimon, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. I first explain how Kant formulates the analytic-synthetic distinction in terms of the determinate-indeterminate distinction, which, in turn, is based on the distinction between general and transcendental logic. Kant's problem of the synthetic a priori , then, is the problem of showing (...) how the logical forms of judgment can be employed determinately (and not merely indeterminately). I then show that Maimon also formulates the distinction and the problem in the same way, and that his interpretation will shape how Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel each construe and address Kant's question, How are synthetic judgments possible a priori ? (shrink)
This essay juxtaposes the position in metaethics defended, expressivism with quasirealistic trimmings, with the ancient problem of relativism. It argues that, perhaps surprisingly, there is less of a problem of normative truth on this approach than on others. Because ethics is not in the business of representing aspects of the world, there is no way to argue for a plurality of moral truths, simply from the existence of a plurality of moral opinions. The essay also argues that other approaches, which (...) superficially seem better adapted to defending robust and substantive conceptions of moral truth, in fact face more danger from the threat of relativism. This is particularly so in the case of 'secondary quality' or 'response-dependent' approaches, but also in the case of certain kinds of constructivism. (shrink)
In this journal Andy Egan argued that, contrary to what I have claimed, quasi-realism is committed to a damaging asymmetry between the way a subject regards himself and the way he regards others. In particular, a subject must believe it to be a priori that if something is one of his stable or fundamental beliefs, then it is true. Whereas he will not hold that this is a priori true of other people. In this paper I rebut Egan's argument, and (...) give further consideration to the correct way to think about our own fallibility. (shrink)
Malebranche presents two major arguments for occasionalism: the “no necessary connection” argument (NNC) and the “conservation is but continuous creation” argument (CCC). NNC appears prominently in his Search After Truth but virtually disappears and surrenders the spotlight to CCC in his later major work, Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion . This paper investigates the possible reasons and motivations behind this significant shift. I argue that the shift is no surprise if we consider the two ways in which the CCC (...) is preferable to NNC: it is not only more effective against opponents but also more consistent with his own views on freedom. (shrink)
Although there is a significant number of books and essays in which Aquinas's thought is examined in some detail, there are still many aspects of his writings that remain unknown to those outside the field of Thomistic studies; or which are generally misunderstood. An example is Aquinas's account of the origins of individual human life. This is the subject of a chapter in a recent book by Robert Pasnau on Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature (Cambridge: CUP, 2001). Since there will (...) be readers whose only knowledge of the issues in question will come from Pasnau's account, and since that account is contentious in substance, and advanced in advocacy of a particular moral interest, it is necessary to provide another, and, we believe, more credible account of the issue of when human life begins, as this may be determined on the basis of known empirical facts and Aquinas's metaphysics, and a more accurate representation of how (and how extensively) this matter has been treated hitherto. The morality of abortion turns on two important sets of issues: the first metaphysical, concerning the beginnings of human life and the specific status of the embryo; the second, ethical, having to do with the nature and scope of value and associated moral requirements. Besides engaging in exegesis we address both issues in philosophical terms. (shrink)
The idea behind expressivism as a philosophy of ethics faces a number of different challenges, and has a number of different choices to make as it tries to meet them. Perhaps the first is to specify what is the primitive of the theory, which will be something that is expressed, and is usually identified as a state of mind. Later in this paper, I shall suggest caution about this, but for the moment we can go along with it. Emotion was (...) one suggestion, prescriptions are another, desires of various orders are candidates, but I prefer the less specific term ‘attitude’. One might ask why we should not go with the equally general term ‘belief’. The answer derives from the second challenge, which queries whether we have actually managed to locate a primitive suited to play its role in a substantive theory. This in turn depends on what exactly the substantive theory is trying to do, so we need to sketch an answer to that first. The need is more pressing since for some time now there have been theorists who have more or less explicitly turned their backs on the whole idea of ‘metaethics’ or theory of ethics, supposing that the only questions that should bother the philosopher come from within first-order practice, as we try to articulate our standards, to rank obligations and duties, or to relate those to utility and virtue. (shrink)