The context for these interviews was a seminar [Peter Gratton] conducted on speculative realism in the Spring 2010. There has been great interest in speculative realism and one reason Gratton surmise[s] is not just the arguments offered, though [Gratton doesn't] want to take away from them; each of these scholars are vivid writers and great pedagogues, many of whom are in constant contact with their readers via their weblogs. Thus these interviews provided an opportunity to forward student questions about their (...) respective works. Though each were conducted on different occasions, the interviews stand as a collected work, tying together the most classical questions about “realism” to ancillary movements about the non-human in politics, ecology, aesthetics, and video gaming—all to point to future movements in this philosophical area. (shrink)
I shall present a problem about accountability, and its solution by Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’. Some readers of this don’t see it as a profound contribution to moral philosophy, and I want to help them. It may be helpful to follow up Strawson’s gracefully written discussion with a more staccato presentation. My treatment will also be angled somewhat differently from his, so that its lights and shadows will fall with a certain difference, which may make it serviceable even to the (...) converted. Also, I shall point to some disputable things in ‘Freedom and Resentment’, and offer repairs. So I wrote in the first published version of this paper. I wanted not only to be useful to others but also to elicit Strawson’s certificate of approval; and that hope was realized. In his ‘Reply’ Strawson wrote: ‘Bennett in the first eleven sections of his essay sets out and elaborates the essence of my position with such thorough and sympathetic understanding as to leave me little to say.’ I also tried, unsuccessfully, to analyse with more precision Strawson’s concept of reactive attitude, and to explore the extent of and reasons for the incompatibility between reactive attitudes and the objective attitude. I hoped that the display of my failures would induce Strawson to tackle the problems himself, with more success. No such luck! He wrote: ‘Bennett seeks . . . to produce a tighter and more unified organisation of the phenomena . . . than I achieved in “Freedom and Resentment”’, but he did not return to the fray. On the contrary: ‘It does not seem to me to matter if a strict definition [of ‘reactive’] is not to be had’; and he said nothing about reasons for the reactive/objective conflict. In the present version of the paper, I expound ‘Freedom and Resentment’ much as before. Since my attempts to tighten and deepen the theory failed to hook Strawson, and are not of much intrinsic interest, I now omit them. I shall, however, add an application of the doctrines of ‘Freedom and Resentment’ to the most basic philosophical question regarding punishment.. (shrink)
In this illuminating, highly engaging book, Jonathan Bennett acquaints us with the ideas of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this lucidly written work is an excellent introduction. For those already familiar with the time period, this book offers insight into the great philosophers, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, and teachers.
Conditional sentences are among the most intriguing and puzzling features of language, and analysis of their meaning and function has important implications for, and uses in, many areas of philosophy. Jonathan Bennett, one of the world's leading experts, distils many years' work and teaching into this Philosophical Guide to Conditionals, the fullest and most authoritative treatment of the subject. An ideal introduction for undergraduates with a philosophical grounding, it also offers a rich source of illumination and stimulation for graduate (...) students and professional philosophers. (shrink)
Christopher Bennett presents a theory of punishment grounded in the practice of apology, and in particular in reactions such as feeling sorry and making amends. He argues that offenders have a 'right to be punished' - that it is part of taking an offender seriously as a member of a normatively demanding relationship (such as friendship or collegiality or citizenship) that she is subject to retributive attitudes when she violates the demands of that relationship. However, while he claims that (...) punishment and the retributive attitudes are the necessary expression of moral condemnation, his account of these reactions has more in common with restorative justice than traditional retributivism. He argues that the most appropriate way to react to crime is to require the offender to make proportionate amends. His book is a rich and original contribution to the debate over punishment and restorative justice. (shrink)
In earlier work we have described how computer algebra may be used to derive composite rate laws for complete systems of equations, using the mathematical technique of Gröbner Bases (Bennett, Davenport and Sauro, 1988). Such composite rate laws may then be fitted to experimental data to yield estimates of kinetic parameters.Recently we have been investigating the practical application of this methodology to the estimation of kinetic parameters for the closed two enzyme system of aspartate aminotransferase (AAT) and malate dehydrogenase (...) (MDH) (Fisher 1990a; Fisher 1990b; Bennett and Fisher, 1990). (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction - when criminal law encounters bioethics: a case of tensions and incompatibilities or an apt forum for resolving ethical conflict? Amel Alghrani, Rebecca Bennett and Suzanne Ost; Part I. Death, Dying, and the Criminal Law: 2. Euthanasia and assisted suicide should, when properly performed by a doctor in an appropriate case, be decriminalised John Griffiths; 3. Five flawed arguments for decriminalising euthanasia John Keown; 4. Euthanasia excused: between prohibition and permission Richard Huxtable; Part (...) II. Freedom and Autonomy: When Consent Is Not Enough: 5. Body integrity identity disorder - a problem of perception? Robert Smith; 6. Risky sex and 'manly diversions': the contours of consent in criminal law - transmission and rough horseplay cases David Gurnham; 7. 'Consensual' sexual activity between doctors and patients: a matter for the criminal law? Suzanne Ost and Hazel Biggs; Part III. Criminalising Biomedical Science: 8. 'Scientists in the dock': regulating science Amel Alghrani and Sarah Chan; 9. Bioethical conflict and developing biotechnologies: is protecting individual and public health from the risks of xenotransplantation a matter for the (criminal) law? Sara Fovargue; 10. The criminal law and enhancement - none of the law's business? Nishat Hyder and John Harris; 11. Dignity as a socially constructed value Stephen Smith; Part IV. Bioethics and Criminal Law in the Dock: 12. Can English law accommodate moral controversy in medicine? The case of abortion Margaret Brazier; 13. The case for decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland Marie Fox; 14. The impact of the loss of deference towards the medical profession Jose; Miola; 15. Criminalising medical negligence David Archard; 16. All to the good? Criminality, politics, and public health John Coggon; 17. Moral controversy, human rights and the common law judge Brenda Hale. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction - when criminal law encounters bioethics: a case of tensions and incompatibilities or an apt forum for resolving ethical conflict? Amel Alghrani, Rebecca Bennett and Suzanne Ost; Part I. Death, Dying, and the Criminal Law: 2. Euthanasia and assisted suicide should, when properly performed by a doctor in an appropriate case, be decriminalised John Griffiths; 3. Five flawed arguments for decriminalising euthanasia John Keown; 4. Euthanasia excused: between prohibition and permission Richard Huxtable; Part (...) II. Freedom and Autonomy: When Consent Is Not Enough: 5. Body integrity identity disorder - a problem of perception? Robert Smith; 6. Risky sex and 'manly diversions': the contours of consent in HIV transmission and rough horseplay cases David Gurnham; 7. 'Consensual' sexual activity between doctors and patients: a matter for the criminal law? Suzanne Ost and Hazel Biggs; Part III. Criminalising Biomedical Science: 8. 'Scientists in the dock': regulating science Amel Alghrani and Sarah Chan; 9. Bioethical conflict and developing biotechnologies: is protecting individual and public health from the risks of xenotransplantation a matter for the (criminal) law? Sara Fovargue; 10. The criminal law and enhancement - none of the law's business? Nishat Hyder and John Harris; 11. Dignity as a socially constructed value Stephen Smith; Part IV. Bioethics and Criminal Law in the Dock: 12. Can English law accommodate moral controversy in medicine? Lessons from abortion Margaret Brazier; 13. The case for decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland Marie Fox; 14. The impact of the loss of deference towards the medical profession Jose; Miola; 15. Criminalising medical negligence David Archard; 16. All to the good? Criminality, politics, and public health John Coggon; 17. Moral controversy, human rights and the common law judge Brenda Hale. (shrink)
Jonathan Bennett engages with the thought of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. While not neglecting the historical setting of each, his chief focus is on the words they wrote. What problem is being tackled? How exactly is the solution meant to work? Does it succeed? If not, why not? What can we learn from its success or its failure? These questions reflect Bennett's dedication to engaging with philosophy as philosophy, (...) not as museum exhibit, and they require a close and demanding attention to textual details; these being two features that characterize all Bennett's work on early modern philosophy. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this clearly written work is an excellent introduction to it. Those already in the know can learn how to argue with the great philosophers of the past, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, teachers. -/- Volume 1: In this volume Jonathan Bennett examines the views of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz on matter and space, the foundations of physics, atomism and alternatives to it, causation, knowledge of necessary truths, how mind relates to body, the nature and significance of human desires, our perception of the material world, and other topics. While exhibiting and celebrating the wonderful breadth, depth, and boldness of the thinking of these philosophers, Bennett also tracks them into the details, where the life is, evaluating their doctrines and arguments on their own merits and in relation to current philosophical problems and interests. (shrink)
Jonathan Bennett engages with the thought of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. While not neglecting the historical setting of each, his chief focus is on the words they wrote. What problem is being tackled? How exactly is the solution meant to work? Does it succeed? If not, why not? What can we learn from its success or its failure? These questions reflect Bennett's dedication to engaging with philosophy as philosophy, (...) not as museum exhibit, and they require a close and demanding attention to textual details; these being two features that characterize all Bennett's work on early modern philosophy. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this clearly written work is an excellent introduction to it. Those already in the know can learn how to argue with the great philosophers of the past, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, teachers. -/- Volume 2: In this volume Jonathan Bennett examines the views of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume on thought and sensation, meaning, language, classification, innate ideas and knowledge, our knowledge of necessary truths (bringing in Descartes and Leibniz as well), the basis for our belief that we live in a world of material things, causation, the fundamental difference between colours and shapes, the passage of time and our ability to live through it. While finding much to criticize, Bennett shows that we can learn much about these and other topics under the guidance and inspiration of the energy, courage, and insight of these three great British philosophers. (shrink)
Jonathan Bennett engages with the thought of six great thinkers of the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. While not neglecting the historical setting of each, his chief focus is on the words they wrote. What problem is being tackled? How exactly is the solution meant to work? Does it succeed? If not, why not? What can we learn from its success or its failure? These questions reflect Bennett's dedication to engaging with philosophy as philosophy, (...) not as museum exhibit, and they require a close and demanding attention to textual details; these being two features that characterize all Bennett's work on early modern philosophy. For newcomers to the early modern scene, this clearly written work is an excellent introduction to it. Those already in the know can learn how to argue with the great philosophers of the past, treating them as colleagues, antagonists, students, teachers. (shrink)
Principles and the context, by J. C. Bennett.--Love monism, by J. M. Gustafson.--Responsibility in freedom, by E. C. Gardner.--The new morality, by G. Fackre.--When love becomes excarnate, by H. L. Smith.--Situational morality, by R. W. Gleason.--The nature of heresy, by G. Kennedy.--Situation ethics under fire, by J. Fletcher.
In this major new book, the internationally renowned thinker Jonathan Bennett offers a deeper understanding of what is going on in our own moral thoughts about human behavior. The Act Itself presents a conceptual analysis of descriptions of behavior on which we base our moral judgements, and shows that this analysis can be used as a means toward getting more control of our thoughts and thus of our lives.
Dualists think that not all the facts are physical facts. They think that there are facts about phenomenal consciousness that cannot be explained in purely physical terms—facts about what it’s like to see red, what it’s like to feel sandpaper, what it’s like to run 10 miles when it’s 15° F out, and so on. These phenomenal facts are genuine ‘extras’, not fixed by the physical facts and the physical laws. To use the standard metaphor: even after God settled the (...) physical facts and laws, he had more work to do to put the phenomenal facts in place. Some dualists think that the additional work involves the creation of a special kind of nonphysical substance. More common these days are dualists who think that the additional work merely involves the creation and positioning of special nonphysical properties, and that is the only form of dualism that I will be explicitly concerned with here. The property dualist’s claim is that phenomenal properties, or at least protophenomenal properties, are among the basic furniture of the world. (shrink)
The basic form of the exclusion problem is by now very, very familiar. 2 Start with the claim that the physical realm is causally complete: every physical thing that happens has a sufficient physical cause. Add in the claim that the mental and the physical are distinct. Toss in some claims about overdetermination, give it a stir, and voilá—suddenly it looks as though the mental never causes anything, at least nothing physical. As it is often put, the physical does all (...) the work, and there is nothing left for the mental to do. (shrink)
Recently much has been made of the grounding relation, and of the idea that it is intimately tied to fundamentality. If A grounds B, then A is more fundamental than B (though not vice versa ), and A is ungrounded if and only if it is fundamental full stop—absolutely fundamental. But here is a puzzle: is grounding itself absolutely fundamental?
A variety of relations widely invoked by philosophers—composition, constitution, realization, micro-basing, emergence, and many others—are species of what I call ‘building relations’. I argue that they are conceptually intertwined, articulate what it takes for a relation to count as a building relation, and argue that—contra appearances—it is an open possibility that these relations are all determinates of a common determinable, or even that there is really only one building relation.
Case 1: Perhaps the phenomenal facts—facts about what it’s like to see red, or to taste freshly made pesto—do not supervene with metaphysical necessity on the physical facts and physical laws. This might be because the connections between the physical and the phenomenal are entirely unprincipled. Alternatively, it might be because whatever psychophysical laws do govern those connections are contingent. Either way, the claim is that there are metaphysically possible worlds that are just like the actual world in terms of (...) what physical laws hold, and in terms of the distribution of physical properties, but which are phenomenally different from the actual world. In some such worlds, different phenomenal facts obtain. In other such worlds, no phenomenal properties are instantiated at all. Call the latter sort of world a ‘phenomenal zombie world’, or, for short, just a ‘zombie world’. (shrink)
I think that there is an awful lot wrong with the exclusion problem. So, it seems, does just about everybody else. But of course everyone disagrees about exactly _what_ is wrong with it, and I think there is more to be said about that. So I propose to say a few more words about why the exclusion problem is not really a problem after all—at least, not for the nonreductive physicalist. The genuine _dualist_ is still in trouble. Indeed, one of (...) my main points will be that the nonreductive physicalist is in a rather different position vis à vis the exclusion problem than the dualist is. Properly understanding nonreductive physicalism—and clearly recognizing that it is, after all, a form of _physicalism_—goes a long way toward solving the exclusion problem. (shrink)
A lot of people believe that distinct objectscan occupy precisely the same place for theentire time during which they exist. Suchpeople have to provide an answer to the`grounding problem' – they have to explain howsuch things, alike in so many ways, nonethelessmanage to fall under different sortals, or havedifferent modal properties. I argue in detailthat they cannot say that there is anything invirtue of which spatio-temporally coincidentthings have those properties. However, I alsoargue that this may not be as bad as (...) it looks,and that there is a way to make sense of theclaim that such properties are primitive. (shrink)
In these few pages I shall try to demonstrate the emptiness of the most cumbersome piece of unexamined intellectual baggage at present being hauled about by English philosophers. I here cite one example to be going on with, at the end of the paper I shall give a handful more, and it would be easy to multiply the number by ten from the writings of reputable philosophers. The outstanding philosophical achievement of the ha1f-century which has just drawn to a close (...) [i.e. the period 1900-1950] has been an appreciation of the peculiar status of a priori judgments and of logically necessary or formally true propositions. . . . Though many problems remain unsolved, the main outline is now clear: formally true statements assert nothing about the world; instead, their function is to state principles according to which empirical propositions are deduced from other empirical propositions . . . (R. B. Braithwaite, ‘Moral Principles and Inductive Policies’, Proceedings of the British Academy 1950). What is wrong with this passage and with the myth of which it is an expression is its assumption that we have clear notions of what it is for a proposition to be logically necessary and of what it is for a proposition to assert something about the world, these notions being such that it is plausible to say that it has recently been discovered that every proposition having the first of these properties lacks the second. This assumption is wrong: there is no body of published theory giving a clear account of such notions, and despite fairly diligent searching I have so far failed to find, among the many philosophers who accept the myth, one who is able when challenged to supplement the literature on this vital point. Let me make it clear at once that I am not going to defend synthetic a priori truths - I am going to attack a popular mishandling of the truth that all necessary truths are analytic, and through this attack to draw right-wing conclusions from left-wing premisses.. (shrink)
The furniture of the world includes planets and pebbles, hopes and fears, fields and waves, theories and problems, births and deaths. As metaphysicians, we want to understand the basic nature of these and other kinds of item; and my topic is the basic nature of births and deaths - more generally, of events. If events are things that happen, what differentiates them from sticks and stones, which are things that exist but do not happen? Do events constitute a fundamental ontological (...) category, or is our event concept just a way of organizing material that could be handled without its aid? With questions like those in the background, I ask: what sort of things are events? Locke and Leibniz knew the answer to this; then Kim rediscovered it; but his rediscovery did less good than it might have because it was ambushed by an error. I shall explain. A sparrow falls. That fall of that sparrow is a particular, located in space and time. It occurs where the sparrow is when it falls, and it occurs just then. It is, then, closely linked to the sparrow, and even more closely to the fact that the sparrow falls there and then. Witness the opening of this paragraph, where I said that a sparrow falls, and went straight on to speak of “that fall”. That the fall exists (= occurs) is a logical upshot of the fact that the sparrow falls. Every event results logically from some such underlying fact: there was a fight because some animals fought, there was a storm because wind and water moved thus and so. In section 12, I shall discuss the rival view that some animals fought because there was a fight. What metaphysical categories have a role in the fact that a certain sparrow fell? Can any of them be identified with the sparrow’s fall? I shall consider five candidates: a fact, a thing, a temporal part of a thing, a property, and a property-instance. (a) The fact that the sparrow falls. One simple reason why an event cannot be a fact is that events have positions in space-time, whereas facts do not.. (shrink)
In this paper1 I shall present not just the conscience of Huckleberry Finn but two others as well. One of them is the conscience of Heinrich Himmler. He became a Nazi in 1923; he served drably and quietly, but well, and was rewarded with increasing responsibility and power. At the peak of his career he held many offices and commands, of which the most powerful was that of leader of the S.S. - the principal police force of the Nazi regime. (...) In this capacity, Himmler commanded the whole concentration-camp system, and was responsible for the execution of the so-called ‘final solution of the Jewish problem’. It is important for my purposes that this piece of social engineering should be thought of not abstractly but in concrete terms of Jewish families being marched to what they think are bath-houses, to the accompaniment of loud-speaker renditions of extracts from The Merry Widow and Tales of Hoffman, there to be choked to death by poisonous gases. Altogether, Himmler succeeded in murdering about four and a half million of them, as well as several million gentiles, mainly Poles and Russians. The other conscience to be discussed is that of the Calvinist theologian and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. He lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, and has a good claim to be considered America’s first serious and considerable philosophical thinker. He was for many years a widely-renowned preacher and Congregationalist minister in New England; in 1748 a dispute with his congregation led him to resign (he couldn’t accept their view that unbelievers should be admitted to the Lord’s Supper in the hope that it would convert them); for some years after that he worked as a missionary, preaching to Indians through an interpreter;, then in 1758 he accepted the presidency of what is now Princeton University, and within two months died from a smallpox inoculation. Along the way he wrote some first-rate philosophy: his book attacking the notion of free will is still sometimes read.. (shrink)
The aim of this paper1 is to attack Quine’s views on the analytic-synthetic distinction (ASD), but more than half of it will be devoted to arguing that an attack is still required. This preliminary thesis is based on the claim that what Quine presents as (1) an attack on the ASD, followed by (2) some remarks about confirmation and disconfirmation, offers a more formidable obstacle to the adherent of the traditional ASD if (2) is built into (1) as a positive (...) but unwelcome theory of the.. (shrink)
Concerns about ‘mental causation’ are concerns about how it is possible for mental states to cause anything to happen. How does what we believe, want, see, feel, hope, or dread manage to cause us to act? Certain positions on the mind-body problem—including some forms of physicalism—make such causation look highly problematic. This entry sketches several of the main reasons to worry, and raises some questions for further investigation.
The claim that we have a moral obligation, where a choice can be made, to bring to birth the 'best' child possible, has been highly controversial for a number of decades. More recently Savulescu has labelled this claim the Principle of Procreative Beneficence. It has been argued that this Principle is problematic in both its reasoning and its implications, most notably in that it places lower moral value on the disabled. Relentless criticism of this proposed moral obligation, however, has been (...) unable, thus far, to discredit this Principle convincingly and as a result its influence shows no sign of abating. I will argue that while criticisms of the implications and detail of the reasoning behind it are well founded, they are unlikely to produce an argument that will ultimately discredit the obligation that the Principle of Procreative Beneficence represents. I believe that what is needed finally and convincingly to reveal the fallacy of this Principle is a critique of its ultimate theoretical foundation, the notion of impersonal harm. In this paper I argue that while the notion of impersonal harm is intuitively very appealing, its plausibility is based entirely on this intuitive appeal and not on sound moral reasoning. I show that there is another plausible explanation for our intuitive response and I believe that this, in conjunction with the other theoretical criticisms that I and others have levelled at this Principle, shows that the Principle of Procreative Beneficence should be rejected. (shrink)
A set of eight mini-discourses. 1. The conceivability of the physical world's running in the opposite temporal direction. 2. Augustine's reason for thinking this is not conceivable for the world of the mind. 3. Trying to imagine being a creature that lives atemporally. 4. Memory's need for causal input. 5. Acting in the knowledge that how one acts is strictly determined. 6. The Newcomb problem. 7. The idea that all voluntary action is intended to be remedial. 8. Haunted by the (...) strangeness of the idea of the past qua past. (shrink)
This essay seeks to give philosophical expression to the vitality, willfullness, and recalcitrance possessed by nonhuman entities and forces. It also considers the ethico-political import of an enhanced awareness of "thing-power." Drawing from Lucretius, Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, and others, it describes a materialism of lively matter, to be placed in conversation with the historical materialism of Marx and the body materialism of feminist and cultural studies. Thing-power materialism is a speculative onto-story, an admittedly presumptuous attempt to depict the (...) nonhumanity that flows around and through humans. The essay concludes with a preliminary discussion of the ecological implications of thing-power. (shrink)
David Lewis famously takes mereology “to be perfectly understood, unproblematic, and certain” (1991, 75). It is central to his thought, appearing in his discussions of set theory, modality, vagueness, structural universals, and elsewhere. He held views not only about how composition works and when it occurs, but also about the role of mereology in philosophy. In this essay, I will proceed by articulating four theses that Lewis holds about composition. (I would call them the four U’s, if only ‘unguilty’ were (...) a word!) Three of them are familiar; Lewis himself explicitly articulates and relies upon them. The fourth remains implicit, but it is nonetheless important. Here they are: Composition is unique —the same things cannot have two different fusions. Composition is unrestricted —any two things whatsoever have a fusion. (shrink)
Bernard Linsky and Edward Zalta have recently proposed a new form of actualism. I characterize the general form of their view and the motivations behind it. I argue that it is not quite new – it bears interesting similarities to Alvin Plantinga’s view – and that it definitely isn’t actualist.
In these notes, unadorned page numbers under 350 refer to Dennett (1987) - The Intentional Stance, hereafter referred to as Stance - and ones over 495 refer to Dennett (1988) - mostly to material by him but occasionally to remarks of his critics. Since the notes will focus on disagreements, I should say now that I am in Dennett’s camp and am deeply in debt to his work in the philosophy of mind, which I think is wider, deeper, more various (...) and more fruitful than mine or anyone else’s. Still, I have some ideas and emphases that I think he could profit from. In the final chapter of Stance Dennett compares his work with that of several others, including me. He sees me as having a position like his, the main difference being that I think (as he doesn’t) that our attributions of mental content can always be highly determinate (pp. 347f). In fact, there are differences between us but this isn’t one of them. I want to get this straight, so as to clear the decks for the positive points I am going to make. There is some indeterminacy and there could be lots of it; Dennett’s case for that is unanswerable. As for how much there actually is: I don’t know and don’t even suspect; there is simply no declared issue between Dennett and myself on that. Nor do we disagree on a related matter. If there is no evidence that settles whether the animal believes that P or believes that Q, should we say that nevertheless one of these is right, and it’s just that we can’t know which it is? Dennett says No. I perfectly agree. (shrink)
Two versions of global supervenience have recently been distinguished from each other. I introduce a third version, which is more likely what people had in mind all along. However, I argue that one of the three versions is equivalent to strong supervenience in every sense that matters, and that neither of the other two versions counts as a genuine determination relation. I conclude that global supervenience has little metaphysically distinctive value.
I argue that it is intuitive and useful to think about composition in the light of the familiar functionalist distinction between role and occupant. This involves factoring the standard notion of parthood into two related notions: being a parthood slot and occupying a parthood slot. One thing is part of another just in case it fills one of that thing's parthood slots. This move opens room to rethink mereology in various ways, and, in particular, to see the mereological structure of (...) a composite as potentially outreaching the individual entities that are its parts. I sketch one formal system that allows things to have individual entities as parts multiple times over. This is particularly useful to David Armstrong, given Lewis's charge that his structural universals must do exactly that. I close by reflecting upon the nature and point of formal mereology. (shrink)
Great knowledge, skill, and judgment have gone into Allen Wood’s extraction from Kant’s texts, and partial defence, of a certain theory of freedom (see preceding essay). I shall later mention one respect in which I am not sure he has got Kant right, but otherwise the interpretation is flawless. I shall argue, however, that although it is worthwhile to identify Kant’s theory of freedom as Wood has helped us to do, the theory itself is worthless. I shall not list the (...) reasons that Wood anticipates being brought against the theory. I do have those too, being unconvinced that the concepts of noumenon and of timeless agency are really intelligible. When Kant says of a noumenon that “nothing happens in it” and yet that it “of itself begins its effects in the sensible world” (B 569), he implies that there is a making-begin which is not a happening; and I cannot understand that as anything but a contradiction. Kant himself has trouble relating timeless choices to the temporal world. On the one hand, “at the point in time when I act, I am never free” (KPV 94g 98e); on the other, “In the moment when he utters the lie, the guilt is entirely his” (B 585). Never mind. For present purpose I concede noumena, timeless agency, non-Humean causation - the lot. With all of that granted, the theory is still worthless. According to the theory, a free choice by my intelligible character causes me to have empirical character E. How can this be so, if there is also a deterministic causal explanation for my possession of E? How can a free choice cause this part of the natural causal chain without breaking the chain? Wood answers on Kant’s behalf that my intelligible choice causes not only my possession of E but also a complete natural causal history for my possession of E. Kant didn’t ever actually say this but Wood thinks that Kant’s theory “must” be construed in this way. I’m not sure that it must, but in the meantime I shall assume that it is. One significant fact about my character E is that I have beliefs about the Holocaust.. (shrink)
When they’re offered to the world in merry guise, Unpleasant truths are swallowed with a will. For he who’d make his fellow-creatures wise Should always gild the philosophic pill. - Jack Point to Sir Richard Cholmondeley, Lieutenant of the Tower, in an employment interview in Yeomen of the Guard. W. S. Gilbert..
Mickelsen’s site also has translations of the texts by Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant, and of Leibniz’s Discourse on Metaphysics and his Monadology. These may be the best in the public domain (and thus the best available on the internet).
The paper is an extended discussion of what I call the ‘dismissive attitude’ towards metaphysical questions. It has three parts. In the first part, I distinguish three quite different versions of dismissivism. I also argue that there is little reason to think that any of these positions is correct about the discipline of metaphysics as a whole; it is entirely possible that some metaphysical disputes should be dismissed and others should not be. Doing metametaphysics properly requires doing metaphysics first. I (...) then put two particular disputes on the table to be examined in the rest of the paper: the dispute over whether composite objects exist, and the dispute about whether distinct objects can be colocated. In the second part of the paper, I argue against the claim that these disputes are purely verbal disputes. In the third part of the paper, I present a new version of dismissivism, and argue that it is probably the correct view about the two disputes in question. They are not verbal disputes, and the discussion about them to date has not remotely been a waste of time. At this stage, however, our evidence has run out. I argue that neither side of either dispute is simpler than the other, and that the same objections in fact arise against both sides. (For example, the compositional nihilist does not in fact escape the problem of the many, and the one-thinger does not in fact escape the grounding problem.). (shrink)
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom... —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
I develop a Russellian representationalist account of size experience that draws importantly from contemporary vision science research on size perception. The core view is that size is experienced in ‘body-scaled’ units. So, an object might, say, be experienced as two eye-level units high. The view is sharpened in response to Thompson’s (forthcoming) Doubled Earth example. This example is presented by Thompson as part of an argument for a Fregean view of size experience. But I argue that the Russellian view I (...) develop handles the Doubled Earth example in a natural and illuminating way, thereby avoiding the need to posit irreducible experiential ‘modes of presentation’. I also address a kind of neo-Fregean ‘reference-fixing’ view of size experience, that shares features with the Russellian view developed. I give reasons for favoring the latter. Finally, I argue that Peacocke’s claim that spatial experience is ‘unit free’ is not persuasive. (shrink)
DESCARTES was a dualist and Spinoza a monist. If this marks a contrast between them, there ought to be a question to which Descartes’s answer was “two” and Spinoza’s “one”. (a) How many substances are there? Spinoza: “One.” Descartes: “Strictly speaking, one; but if we relax the criteria for substantiality a little, millions.” On no interpretation of the question did Descartes answer, “Two.” (b) How many basic kinds of substance are there? Descartes: “Two.” Spinoza: “Two; though there is only one (...) substance, and it is of both kinds.” Descartes is usually called a dualist because he took thought and extension to be the two basic, logically independent ways of being; but in this sense Spinoza was a dualist, too. If we take seriously his talk of “infinite” attributes, we may call him a pluralist on this point, but certainly not a monist. (c) Of how many substances does an embodied person consist? Descartes (ignoring his views about the divisibility of matter): “Two: an embodied person is made up of a body and a mind, which are distinct substances.” Spinoza: “None: an embodied person is a mode (under two attributes) of the one and only substance, and is not made up of any number of substances.” Those are the questions which come most readily to mind, and none yields a dualist/monist contrast between Descartes and Spinoza. But: (d) Given that A and B are basic, logically independent attributes, what is the smallest number of substances needed to instantiate both A and B? To this Descartes does answer “Two” and Spinoza does answer “One.” I suspect that those who “contrast” Descartes and Spinoza as dualist and monist usually have in mind not the genuine contrast brought out by (d) but rather the fact that Descartes answered “Two” to (b) while Spinoza answered “One” to (a). Still, (d) is important in the thinking of both philosophers and in the philosophy of mind generally. Strawson's chapter, “Persons,” for example, is interesting partly for its Spinozist answer to (d): Strawson does not reduce mental predicates to physical or vice versa, but says that predicates of both kinds may apply to a single thing, namely a person.. (shrink)
HLA Hart and Joseph Raz are usually interpreted as being fundamentally opposed to Lon Fullerâ€™s argument in The Morality of Law that the principles of the rule of law are of moral value. Hart and Raz are thought to make the â€˜instrumental objectionâ€™, which says that these principles are of no moral value because they are actually principles derived from reflection on how to best allow the law to guide behaviour. Recently, many theorists have come to Fullerâ€™s defence against Hart (...) and Raz, refuting the â€˜instrumental objectionâ€™ and affirming the non-instrumental moral value of conformity to the principles of legality. This article argues that although this moral value should be affirmed, the orthodox view is incorrect, because Hart and Raz never understood their arguments about the instrumental or â€˜purposiveâ€™ value of the principles of legality as denials of their moral value, as a close reading of their work shows. (shrink)
Perhaps the biggest radically unsolved problem about Part II of the Ethics is something that occurs in Part I, namely the definition of ‘attribute’ as ‘that which intellect perceives of substance as its essence’ (1d4). The term ‘intellect’ brings in just one of the attributes, namely thought, raising the question: A. What special privilege does thought have that entitles it to figure in the explanation of the..
P. T. Geach, notoriously, holds the Relative Identity Thesis, according to which a meaningful judgment of identity is always, implicitly or explicitly, relative to some general term. ‘The same’ is a fragmentary expression, and has no significance unless we say or mean ‘the same X’, where ‘X’ represents a general term (what Frege calls a Begriffswort or Begriffsausdruck). (P. T. Geach, Mental Acts (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 69. I maintain that it makes no sense to judge whether (...) things are ‘the same’, or remain ‘the same’, unless we add or understand some general term - ‘the same F’. (P. T. Geach, Reference and Generality, third Edition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 63f. I am arguing for the thesis that identity is relative. When one says ‘x is identical with y’, this, I hold, is an incomplete expression; it is short for ‘x is the same A as y’, where ‘A’ represents some count noun understood from the context of utterance - or else, it is just a vague expression of a half-formed thought. (P. T. Geach, ‘Identity,’ Review of Metaphysics 21 (1967-8), p. 3.) One of the ways Geach seeks to support this is by tying it to the well nigh universally admired Fregean thesis about cardinality. (shrink)
As knowledge increases about the human genome,prenatal genetic testing will become cheaper,safer and more comprehensive. It is likelythat there will be a great deal of support formaking prenatal testing for a wide range ofgenetic disorders a routine part of antenatalcare. Such routine testing is necessarilycoercive in nature and does not involve thesame standard of consent as is required inother health care settings. This paper askswhether this level of coercion is ethicallyjustifiable in this case, or whether pregnantwomen have a right to (...) remain in ignorance ofthe genetic make-up of the fetus they arecarrying. While information gained by genetictesting may be useful for pregnant women whenmaking decisions about their pregnancy, it doesnot prevent harm to future children. It isargued that as this kind of testing providesinformation in the interests of the pregnantwomen and not in the interests of any futurechild, the same standards of consent that arenormally required for genetic testing should berequired in this instance. (shrink)
This paper will present a negative result—an account of my failure to explain why belief is involuntary. When I announced my question a year or so ahead of time, I had a vague idea of how it might be answered, but I cannot make it work out. Necessity, this time, has not given birth to invention. Still, my tussle with the question may contribute either towards getting it answered or showing that it cannot be answered because belief can be voluntary (...) after all. Most of the paper was written while I expected to get the question answered, and I have chosen not to hide that fact by revising the tone. I offer the paper as an essay in the ‘analytic’ manner in Descartes’s sense of that term. It is the manner of the Meditations—a presentation in the order of discovery or, in my case, of non-discovery. (shrink)
About thirty years ago I began studying Spinoza’s philosophy, especially as expressed in his Ethics. In these pages I shall describe some aspects of his thought, in the hope of making him sound worth the intermittent labor of three decades. The best reasons for finding him so absorbingly interesting lie in hard, technical details which cannot be presented here, but I hope I can say something from which an impression may emerge.
A new criterion is introduced for judging the suitability of various fuzzy logics for practical uncertain reasoning in a probabilistic world and the relationship of this criterion to several established criteria, and its consequences for truth functional belief, are investigated.
A coin rotating back in depth in some sense presents a changing, elliptical shape. How are we to understand such (in this case) ‘appearances of ellipticality’? How is the experiential sense of such shifting shape appearances related to the experiential sense of enduring shape definitive of perceived shape constancy? Is the experiential recovery of surface shape based on the prior (perhaps more fundamental) recovery of point or element 3D spatial locations?—or is the perception of shape a largely independent perceptual achievement? (...) Do we gain access to enduring shape properties by first detecting and working from ‘shape appearances’? These are some of the topics taken up in this paper. (shrink)
The McNaughton rules for determining whether a person can be successfully defended on the grounds of mental incompetence were determined by a committee of the House of Lords in 1843. They arose as a consequence of the trial of Daniel McNaughton for the killing of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s secretary. In retrospect it is clear that McNaughton suffered from schizophrenia. The successful defence of McNaughton on the grounds of mental incompetence by his advocate Sir Alexander Cockburn involved a profound (...) shift in the criteria for such a defence, and was largely based on the then recently published scientific thesis of the great US psychiatrist Isaac Ray, entitled A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity. Subsequent discussion of this defence in the House of Lords led to the McNaughton rules, still the basis of the defence of mental incompetence in the courts of much of the English-speaking world. This essay considers one of these rules in the light of the discoveries of cognitive neuroscience made during the 160 years since Ray’s treatise. A major consideration is the relationship between the power of self-control and irresistible impulse as conceived by Cockburn on the one hand, and by cognitive neuroscience on the other. The essay concludes with an analysis of the notion of free will and of the extent to which a subject can exert restraint in the absence of particular synaptic connections in the brain. (shrink)
I am interested in what main differences there are between Homo sapiens and other known terrestrial species, or (for short) between man and beast. We have a sense that we differ vastly from all the rest in some respect that is mental rather than grossly physical, but we are not agreed on what respect it is. This is my topic today. I shall bring in some work done in recent years by ethologists and animal psychologists. It is relevant less because (...) it provides news about the beasts than because it spurs our thinking about what we already think or intuit about the beasts and how they differ from us. That is really my topic: although we don’t agree in what we say about what mainly differentiates us from the other animals, I think we have the same picture of the difference, the same sense of what it is; and I want to know whether that shared picture, or intuition, can be parlayed into an agreed description. One proper study of humankind is ourselves; that includes our thoughts, which include our thoughts about what makes us special. I shall go on talking as though the question were: What is the difference? But really it is: What difference do we already think is there? Or, anyway: What difference can be known to obtain between us and them, on the basis of what we already know about us and about them? I am interested in differences of kind rather than of degree. If the final story is merely that we are more intelligent than the beasts are, that means that our common picture of how we relate to them is false. Mortimer Adler, in his book The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes argues for a fundamental intellectual difference of kind between humans and other animals. Having identified me in that book as an ally, on the strength of my book Rationality, he wrote to me about the matter. During the correspondence that followed, I wrote that while I agreed with his conclusion, I didn’t hold it with such passion as he did, perhaps because I was sure that the difference between kind and degree is itself a difference of degree.. (shrink)
Death and the meaning of life -- Which lives count? -- How much can morality require us to do for one another? -- Utilitarianism -- Kantian ethics -- Aristotelian virtue ethics -- Ethics and religion -- Morality as contract -- Critiques of morality.
In his New Essays on Human Understanding, Leibniz presents an extended critical commentary on Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Leibniz read some of Locke’s work in English and then, a few years later, the whole of it in French, a language in which he was more comfortable. Over a period of about two further years, on and off, he wrote his New Essays, which he finished at about the time Locke died and which was not published until about half a (...) century after Leibniz’s death. (He left them unpublished partly because they had been motivated by a hope of getting Locke to reply, and Locke’s death put an end to that; though his character made it a forlorn hope in any case.) The New Essays has been an important work: for one thing, Kant read it on its first appearance, and scholars say that this was a decisive event in his philosophical development. Anyway, given that this is one of Leibniz’s only two philosophical works of substantial book length, in all the torrent that poured from his pen, and given also that it is focused - critically but with respect and careful attentiveness - on the greatest classic of English philosophy, it is surprising that the New Essays had to wait until 1981 for a usable English translation.1 In 1896 there was published a sort of translation by A. G. Langley;2 but it is inaccurate far beyond the bounds of normal incompetence, as well as being grimly unreadable for stylistic reasons. As Chesterton once said about The Origin of Species, it is surprising how many people think they have read it, but I'll bet that nobody alive has slogged through the Langley version from cover to cover. It is a pity that the work was not decently available in English for nearly three centuries, because even for those who can read the French of, say, Descartes, Leibniz’s French is difficult. He reserved his native German for writings on history and politics, using French and Latin for philosophy and mathematics; presumably French was chosen for the New Essays because Leibniz wanted to respond to a popular work by a popular work.. (shrink)
The thesis is advanced by R. M. Hare that a judgment on an action or state of affairs is a moral judgment only if the person who makes it accepts some universal moral principle which, together with some true statement about the non-moral characteristics of the situation originally judged, entails the original judgment.1 Instances of this thesis would take some such form as saying that someone who says ‘You ought not to have done what you did’ cannot be expressing a (...) moral judgment by this unless he accepts something of the form ‘Actions which are A are wrong and what you did was A’ or ‘People who are A ought not to perform actions which are B, and you are A and what you did was B’. Hare claims that it is analytic that every moral judgment is so supported; he claims, that is, that ‘universalisable’ is part of the meaning of ‘moral’. I think that Hare is perfectly right about this, but the question of truth is not what I am now primarily concerned to discuss. What I wish to bring out here is something of what can be built on the basis of Hare's thesis, for I think that it is important in ways which Hare has not publicly discussed. Furthermore, there is something to be said for the view that the best way to argue for the truth of the thesis is to bring out clearly what makes it important. It is sometimes urged that the thesis is true but trivial. It is said: ‘If Hare's thesis is that my judgment qualifies as a moral one only if it is an application of some universal moral principle which I accept, then the thesis allows any prima facie case of a moral judgment to qualify as a genuine moral judgment: nothing could fail to qualify. For it is always possible to form a universal principle of the form ‘Anything which is [complete description of the subject of the original judgment] is [moral characterisation as given in the original judgment]’, and to claim honestly enough that one accepts this ‘universal principle’ - to claim, indeed, that accepting the original judgment was accepting the ‘universal principle’.. (shrink)
Spinoza said that the only extended substance is the whole extended world and that finite bodies are not substances, i.e. are not worthy of a thing-like status in a fundamental metaphysics. He had reasons for this doctrine, though they do not occur in his official ‘demonstration’ that there is only one substance (Ethics 1, proposition 14). One reason was the view that an ultimately thing-like status cannot be accorded to something that is divisible. That was certainly Leibniz’s view, and there (...) are textual grounds for attributing it to Spinoza also, though the evidence for that is somewhat diffuse. But there is also an argument that occurs in a localized manner, in a passage I shall quote below; and my purpose in this paper is to expound it. (shrink)
The topics to be covered in this chapter are as follows. (1) Locke’s acceptance of Descartes’s view that there is a radical separation, a perhaps unbridgeable gap, between the world’s mental and its physical aspects. Locke’s view of (2) the cognitive aspects and (3) the conative aspects of the mind. (4) What Locke said about the possibility that ‘matter thinks’, i.e. that the things that take up space are also the ones that have mental states. (5) The question of whether (...) all thought could be entirely caused by changes in the physical world. (6,7) What it is for a single mind to last through time. (8) What it is for a mind to exist at a time when it is not doing anything. (shrink)