Since the birth of computing as an academic discipline, the disciplinary identity of computing has been debated fiercely. The most heated question has concerned the scientific status of computing. Some consider computing to be a natural science and some consider it to be an experimental science. Others argue that computing is bad science, whereas some say that computing is not a science at all. This survey article presents viewpoints for and against computing as a science. Those viewpoints are analyzed against (...) basic positions in the philosophy of science. The article aims at giving the reader an overview, background, and a historical and theoretical frame of reference for understanding and interpreting some central questions in the debates about the disciplinary identity of computer science. The article argues that much of the discussion about the scientific nature of computing is misguided due to a deep conceptual uncertainty about science in general as well as computing in particular. (shrink)
Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics explores the foundations of early utilitarianism as well as the theoretical basis of social ethics and policy in modern Western welfare states. Matti Hayry shows how philosophers have misunderstood the very nature of utilitarianism since the turn of the 19th century and identifies the resulting problems in contemporary utilitarianism. Hayry argues that when the classical utilitarian principles of happiness, hedonism and impartiality are combined, the ensuing ethical theory may demand that we act immorally or (...) unjustly. This is because the scope of the utilitarian theory has been extended too far. Hayry develops a more limited utilitarian theory based on the ethos of early British universal altruism. He argues that a limited version of liberal utilitarianism and the methods of applied ethics should be employed to define our moral duties and rights. This is an important book in current discussions on social ethics and policy. Hayry's accomplished defense of utilitarian morality is certain to provoke debate. (shrink)
My focus here will be Rudolf Carnap’s views on ontology, as these are presented in the seminal “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” (1950). I will first describe how I think Carnap’s distinction between external and internal questions is best understood. Then I will turn to broader issues regarding Carnap’s views on ontology. With certain reservations, I will ascribe to Carnap an ontological pluralist position roughly similar to the positions of Eli Hirsch and the later Hilary Putnam. Then I turn to some (...) interrelated arguments against the pluralist view. The arguments are not demonstrative. Some possible escape routes for the pluralist are outlined. But I think the arguments constitute a formidable challenge. There should be serious doubt as to whether the pluralist view, as it emerges after discussion of these arguments, will be worth defending. Moreover, there is an alternative ontological view which equally well subserves the motivations underlying ontological pluralism. (shrink)
Many theorists hold that there is, among value concepts, a fundamental distinction between thin ones and thick ones. Among thin ones are concepts like good and right. Among concepts that have been regarded as thick are discretion, caution, enterprise, industry, assiduity, frugality, economy, good sense, prudence, discernment, treachery, promise, brutality, courage, coward, lie, gratitude, lewd, perverted, rude, glorious, graceful, exploited, and, of course, many others. Roughly speaking, thick concepts are value concepts with significant descriptive content. I will discuss a number (...) of problems having to do with how best to understand the notion of a thick concept. Thick concepts have been widely discussed in the .. (shrink)
In contemporary debates about ontology, one prominent skeptical view emphasizes the existence of different possible languages for doing ontology. Eli Hirsch, in recent years the most prominent proponent of a view like this, has defended the claim that “many familiar questions about the ontology of physical objects are merely verbal. Nothing is substantively at stake in these questions beyond the correct use of language” and the claim that “quantifier expressions can have different meaning in different languages”.1 Ted Sider, while critical (...) of the type of view Hirsch defends, has in many places prominently singled it out for critical discussion. In his (2001), he associates with Carnap the view that “different frameworks employ different semantic rules for the quantifiers”, and says that a theorist in Carnap’s tradition would say that the stuff-ontologist and the thing-ontologist have different “frameworks” and that “[W]ithin these frameworks there are answers to what there is, but any question about which framework is the right framework is metaphysical in the pejorative sense of being a pseudo-question”.2 In his (forthcoming), Sider discusses at length the view that disputants in ontological disputes use the same sentences with different meaning and hence in fact each speak the truth, and what he describes as the attendant view that “there are multiple candidate meanings for the quantifiers”.3 In his (2005), Cian Dorr critically discusses “the idea that there are many different possible languages which differ systematically in the truth-values they assign to general ontological claims”.4.. (shrink)
Let the moral question of personal identity be the following: what is the nature of the entities we should focus our prudential concerns and ascriptions of responsibility around? (If indeed we should structure these things around any entities at all.) Let the semantic question of personal identity be the question of what is the nature of the entities that ‘person’ is true of. A naive (in the sense of simple and intuitive) view would have it that the two questions are (...) so intimately connected that the entities we should focus our concerns and ascriptions around are, pretty trivially, the persons. In part, my aim here is to evaluate this naive view. However, I will not actually attempt to give a definite verdict on it. Rather, I will identify the assumptions under which the naive view is true, and discuss how to go about evaluating those assumptions. (shrink)
In this paper, I will discuss, and to some extent criticize, Hilary Putnam’s views on ontology, recently summarized and defended in his Ethics without Ontology (2004). I will start out with a critical discussion of Putnam’s thesis of conceptual relativity. Then I will turn to what is the main issue in the book: the criticism of the focus on ontological matters in philosophical discussions of mathematics and ethics.
The main question of the paper is that ofwhat vagueness consists in. This question must be distinguished from other questions about vagueness discussed in the literature. It is argued that familiar accounts of vagueness for general reasons failto answer the question ofwhat vagueness consists in. A positive view is defended, according to which, roughly, the vagueness of an expression consists in it being part ofsemantic competence to accept a tolerance principle for the expression. Since tolerance principles are inconsistent, this is (...) an inconsistency view on vagueness. (shrink)
Mark Eli Kalderon has argued for a fictionalist variant of non-cognitivism. On his view, what the Frege–Geach problem shows is that standard non-cognitivism proceeds uncritically from claims about use to claims about meaning; if non-cognitivism's claims were solely about use it would be on safe ground as far as the Frege–Geach problem is concerned. I argue that Kalderon's diagnosis is mistaken: the problem concerns the non-cognitivist's account of the use of moral sentences too.
(1) Abstract objects. The nominalist (as the label is used today) denies that there exist abstract objects. The platonist holds that there are abstract objects. One example is numbers. The nominalist denies that there are numbers; the platonist typically affirms it.
The main thesis of this paper is that we sometimes are disposed to accept false and even jointly inconsistent claims by virtue of our semantic competence, and that this comes to light in the sorites and liar paradoxes. Among the subsidiary theses are that this is an important source of indeterminacy in truth conditions, that we must revise basic assumptions about semantic competence, and that classical logic and bivalence can be upheld in the face of the sorites paradox.
Here is the liar paradox. We have a sentence, (L), which somehow says of itself that it is false. Suppose (L) is true. Then things are as (L) says they are. (For it would appear to be a mere platitude that if a sentence is true, then things are as the sentence says they are.) (L) says that (L) is false. So, (L) is false. Since the supposition that (L) is true leads to contradiction, we can assert that (L) is (...) false. But since this is just what (L) says, (L) is then true. (For it would appear to be a mere platitude that if things are as a given sentence says they are, the sentence is true.) So (L) is true. So (L) is both true and false. Contradiction. (shrink)
When philosophers make claims of the form “Fs are fictions”, what they say is often ambiguous in a crucial way. On one way of understanding it, it has clear ontological implications: there are not really any such things as Fs. But there is also a different, non-ontological way of understanding the claim: as merely asserting that F-assertions are normally made in a fictional spirit. Clearly one can hold that we normally make statements about Fs in a fictional spirit while also (...) holding that we would still express truths if we were to make literal statements about Fs. Let ontological fictionalism about F-discourse be the thesis that Fs do not really exist but only exist in fictions. Let linguistic fictionalism about F-discourse be the thesis that we normally make F- statements in a fictional spirit. (Throughout when talking about (linguistic) fictionalism I shall mean hermeneutic fictionalism: fictionalism considered as a thesis about actual discourse, to the effect that we actually do make statements belonging to the discourse in a fictional spirit. Contrast: revolutionary fictionalism, which proposes that we should make statements belonging to the discourse in a fictional spirit.1). (shrink)
I think it often happens, for various reasons, that philosophers defend radical views which, first, are too radical to be plausible, and second, are such that a less radical and more plausible view would satisfy the underlying motivations. Here is a historical example. The logical positivists famously sought to eliminate traditional metaphysics by arguing that the statements metaphysicians make are meaningless because of being unverifiable. Much of the ensuing discussion concerned whether verifiability is really necessary for meaningfulness. But clearly, even (...) if the logical positivists were wrong about this, they could still have a strong case for the elimination of metaphysics. For already if they could establish that the statements made by metaphysicians are unverifiable. If we cannot obtain good evidence for or against the statements of metaphysics, surely metaphysics is a pointless enterprise. I will argue here that we find another instance of the same general phenomenon in the debate about truth. I think deflationists defend a radical doctrine – and a problematic one – where a less radical doctrine, which I will call (sophisticated) rejectionism, would satisfy the underlying motivations equally well. Roughly, this less radical doctrine is the doctrine that the only use we have for a truth predicate is expressive. What I will do here is to explain what this rejectionist view is, how it differs from deflationism, and how it satisfies the motivations underlying deflationism. I will not actually defend the rejectionist view. In fact, I believe it is false. All I want to argue is that much effort spent on arguing for and against deflationism is better spent arguing for and against rejectionism. (shrink)
I will here present a number of problems concerning the idea that there is ontological vagueness, and the related claim that appeal to this idea can help solve some vagueness-related problems. A theme underlying the discussion will be the distinction between vagueness specifically and indeterminacy more generally (and, relatedly, the distinction between ontological vagueness and ontological indeterminacy). Even if the world is somehow ontologically indeterminate it by no means follows that it is, properly speaking, ontologically vague.1..
It is argued that a certain form of the view that the semantic paradoxes show that natural languages are “inconsistent” provides the best response to the semantic paradoxes. After extended discussions of the views of Kirk Ludwig and Matti Eklund, it is argued that in its strongest formulation the view maintains that understanding a natural language is sharing cognition of an inconsistent semantic theory for that language with other speakers. A number of aspects of this approach are discussed and (...) a few objections are entertained. (shrink)
I elaborate and defend the inconsistency view on vagueness I have earlier argued for in my (2002) and (forthcoming). In rough outline, the view is that the sorites paradox arises because tolerance principles, despite their inconsistency, are meaning-constitutive for vague expressions. Toward the end of the paper I discuss other inconsistency views on vagueness that have been proposed, and compare them to the view I favor.
For those who think the statue and the piece of copper that compose it are distinct objects that coincide, there is a burden of explanation. After all, common sense says that different ordinary objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. A common argument in favour of four-dimensionalism (or ?perdurantism? or ?temporal parts theory?) is that it provides the resources for a superior explanation of this coincidence. This, however, is mistaken. Any explanatory work done by the four-dimensionalist notion (...) of absolute parthood rests ultimately on notions equally available to the three-dimensionalist. Thus, a neutral explanation of coincidence is at least as good while avoiding commitment to temporal parts. ?Many thanks to David Christensen, Louis deRosset, Matti Eklund, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. (shrink)
I shall here discuss some matters related to the so-called radical indeterminacy or inscrutability arguments due to, e.g., Willard v. O. Quine, Hilary Putnam, John Wallace and Donald Davidson.1 These are arguments that, on the face of it, demonstrate that there is radical indeterminacy in what the expressions in a theory refer to and in what the ontology of the theory is. I will use “inscrutability argument” as a general label for these arguments. My main topic – after I have (...) dealt with some issues that in the context are mere preliminaries – will be what the consequences of inscrutability for ontology might be. (The label ‘inscrutability’ is not ideal, as it suggests that the problem raised is primarily epistemic. But it is common to use the label in the context of Quine’s arguments. And it has the advantage over the alternative suggestion “indeterminacy” that it signals that we are here dealing with a special kind of indeterminacy, not only more widespread but also in principle irremediable.). (shrink)
§1. Here is a familiar regress argument: Take the fact that Ed runs. What is the nature of this fact? If we think ‘runs’ stands for a property, the property of running (call it Running), then, arguably, Ed and this property are constituents of this fact. But the fact cannot simply consist of Ed and Running. For Ed can exist and Running can exist even if Ed doesn’t run. For it to be a fact that Ed runs, Ed must instantiate (...) Running. But adding the talk of instantiation just gets us another constituent of the fact: the relation of instantiation, call it Inst. But Ed can exist, Running can exist, and the relation Inst can exist even if Ed doesn’t run. Trying the same strategy as before we can say that Ed, Running and Inst must stand in the right relation for it to be a fact that Ed runs. But it should be clear that we are off on a vicious regress. As stated, the regress concerns facts, and I will keep referring to as the fact regress. But it is not obvious, at least, that we need to reify facts to get the regress going. All we need is a notion of something’s being the case, and the legitimacy of asking how, or in virtue of what, something is the case: Suppose it is the case that Ed runs. In virtue of what is it so? The existence of Ed and Running are not sufficient for it to be the case that Ed runs. For it to be the case that Ed runs, Ed must instantiate Running. But the existence of Ed, Running, and Inst is not sufficient for it to be the case that Ed runs. Etc. The regress argument given is sometimes called Bradley’s regress. But both because Bradley interpretation is controversial and because there are many different regress arguments bearing family resemblances to each other, I will by and large avoid that label. I think that the regress displayed by this argument brought up clearly is vicious, so some way of blocking the argument must be found. At no stage of the reasoning do we actually find ourselves in a position to say that a fact exists – or that something is the case – but we just add more and more entities, to no avail. Sometimes it is insisted that the regresses established by arguments like the one I have presented are not vicious.. (shrink)
A central element in neo-Fregean philosophy of mathematics is the focus on abstraction principles, and the use of abstraction principles to ground various areas of mathematics. But as is well known, not all abstraction principles are in good standing. Various proposals for singling out the acceptable abstraction principles have been presented. Here I investigate what philosophical underpinnings can be provided for these proposals; specifically, underpinnings that fit the neo-Fregean's general outlook. Among the philosophical ideas I consider are: general views on (...) a priori justification; the idea of abstraction as reconceptualization, the idea that truth is prior to reference in the sense associated with Frege's context principle; and various broadly relativistic views. The conclusions are by and large negative. (shrink)
In my ‘Deep Inconsistency’ (2002a) (henceforth DI), I criticized Graham Priest’s dialetheism by unfavorably comparing it to my preferred view on the liar paradox, a view I will here call the meaning–inconsistency view. Perhaps the main claim in Jc Beall and Priest’s reply (henceforth B&P)1 is that I am guilty of an ignoratio: in DI, I argue that Priest (1987) fails to establish the analyticity of certain principles, but, B&P say, Priest (1987) isn’t concerned to argue for the analyticity (...) of these principles. Among other criticisms B&P level against DI can be mentioned especially the following: (i) Since I do not in fact defend a particular theory of truth I am ‘out of the game’, not really participating in the debate which others participate in; (ii) I lack—for principled reasons—an account of in virtue of what principles are meaning–constitutive. Here is what I will do in this reply. First I will briefly rehearse the main elements of both my own view and the criticisms of dialetheism raised in DI. Then I will respond to the charges listed from B&P. Lastly I will make some remarks on the strengthened liar. (shrink)
In this paper three questions concerning quality of life in medicine and health care are analysed and discussed: the motives for measuring the quality of life, the methods used in assessing it, and the definition of the concept. The purposes of the study are to find an ethically acceptable motive for measuring the quality of life; to identify the methodological advantages and disadvantages of the most prevalent current methods of measurement; and to present an approach towards measuring and defining the (...) quality of life which evades the difficulties encountered and discussed. The analysis comprises measurements both in the clinical situation concerning individual patients and in research concerning whole populations.Three motives are found for evaluating the quality of human life: allocation of scarce medical resources, facilitating clinical decision making, and assisting patients towards autonomous decision making. It is argued that the third alternative is the only one which does not evoke ethical problems. (shrink)
My theme here will be vagueness. But first recall Quine’s arguments for the indeterminacy of translation and the inscrutability of reference. (I will presume these arguments to be familiar.) If Quine is right, then there are radically different acceptable assignments of semantic values to the expressions of any language: different assignments of semantic values that for all that is determined by whatever it is that determines semantic value are all acceptable, and all equally good. Quine even argued that the indeterminacy (...) is so radical that some sentences are true under some acceptable assignments but false under others.1 Still, Quine does not allow intermediate truth-values or truthvalue gaps. (As I will put it, avoiding the disjunctive formulation: does not allow that there are sentences which are neuter.) Quine holds on to classical logic and bivalence and requires each acceptable assignment to be classical and bivalent.2.. (shrink)
The causal theory of reference is often taken to provide a solution to the problems, such as incomparability and referential discontinuity, that the meaning-change thesis raised. I show that Kuhn successfully questioned the causal theory and Putnam's idea that reference is determined via the sameness relation of essences that holds between a sample and other members of a kind in all possible worlds. Putnam's single ‘essential' properties may be necessary but not sufficient to determine membership in a kind category. Kuhn (...) argued that extension is fixed by similarity-dissimilarity relations that are liable to change in taxonomic reorganizations of science. *Received October 2009; revised January 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Institute of Philosophy, University of Leiden, Martin de Vrieshof 4, 2300 RS Leiden, The Netherlands; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy is once again in a methodological frame of mind. Nowhere is this more evident than in metaphysics, whose practitioners and historians are actively reflecting on the nature of ontological questions, the status of their answers, and the relevance of contributions both from other areas within philosophy (e.g., philosophical logic, semantics) and beyond (notably, the natural sciences). Such reflections are hardly new: the debate between Willard van Orman Quine and Rudolf Carnap about how to understand and resolve ontological questions (...) is widely seen as a turning point in 20th-century analytic philosophy. And indeed, this volume is occasioned by the fact that the deflationary approach advocated by Carnap that debate is once again attracting considerable interest and support. Containing ten original and previously unpublished essays by many of today's leading voices in metametaphysics, Ontology After Carnap aims both to deepen our understanding of Carnap's contributions to metaontology and to explore how this legacy might be mined for insights into the contemporary debate. Contributors: Richard Creath, Matti Eklund, Simon Evnine, Eli Hirsch, Thomas Hofweber, Kathrin Koslicki, Robert Kraut, Greg Lavers, Alan Sidelle, Amie Thomasson, Jessica Wilson & Stephen Biggs. (shrink)
Realism in Action is a selection of essays written by leading representatives in the fields of action theory and philosophy of mind, philosophy of the social sciences and especially the nature of social action, and of epistemology and philosophy of science. Practical reason, reasons and causes in action theory, intending and trying, and folk-psychological explanation are some of the topics discussed by these leading participants. A particular emphasis is laid on trust, commitments and social institutions, on the possibility of grounding (...) social notions in individual social attitudes, on the nature of social groups, institutions and collective intentionality, and on common belief and common knowledge. Applications to the social sciences include, e.g., a look at the Erklären-Verstehen controversy in economics, and at constructivist and realist views on archeological reconstructions of the past. (shrink)
Jaakko Hintikka has argued that ordinary first-order logic should be replaced byindependence-friendly first-order logic, where essentially branching quantificationcan be represented. One recurring criticism of Hintikka has been that Hintikka''ssupposedly new logic is equivalent to a system of second-order logic, and henceis neither novel nor first-order. A standard reply to this criticism by Hintikka andhis defenders has been to show that given game-theoretic semantics, Hintikka''sbranching quantifiers receive the exact same treatment as the regular first-orderones. We develop a different reply, based around (...) considerations concerning thenature of logic. In particular, we argue that Hintikka''s logic is the logic that bestrepresents the language fragment standard first-order logic is meantto represent. Therefore it earns its keep, and is also properly regarded as first-order. (shrink)
There is a vexed question in the literature on Marx of whether Marx was somehow anti-morality or if on the contrary he was instead defending a particular, perhaps rather radical, conception of morality. This question will be my starting point. But I will have nothing to contribute to the scholarly question of what Marx’s view was. Rather my aim will be this. Whatever in the end is the correct interpretation of Marx, it is undeniable that there are passages in Marx (...) which if taken literally and straightforwardly give voice to an anti-morality stance. One reason not to read these passages straightforwardly is that it is unclear what it even can mean to be anti-morality, as opposed to merely being against one or other popular conception of morality. I will however see what sense can be made out of anti-moralism; and a positive suggestion will be presented. (My claim will however not be that what I suggest is what Marx had in mind.) The discussion of Marx and anti-moralism will serve as a springboard for bringing up certain other issues. I will discuss thick concepts, and how to resolve a particular problem concerning how best to understand the nature of thick concepts. Generally. I will discuss the semantics of moral terms. I will also present a new type of moral antirealism. (shrink)
Detectives and scientists are in the business of reasoning from observations to explanations. This they often do by raising cunning questionsduring their inquiries. But to substantiate this claim we need to know how questions arise and how they are nurtured into more specific hypotheses. I shall discuss what the problem is, and then introduce the so-called interrogative model of inquiry which makes use of an explicit logic of questions. On this view, a discovery processes can be represented as a model-based (...) game in which an inquirer subjects a source of information to a series of strategically organized questions. Strategic principles and why-questions are especially important in heuristical reasoning. Why-questions have their own peculiar nature among questions. They indicate that the inquirer's expectations are somehow disappointed, and that is cognitively challenging. In a finished argument why-questions can be omitted, but in the search for more specific questions they are highly important. As a detetective example I shall analyze Sherlock Holmes reasoning in Silver Blace, the scientific one is A.R. Wallace's discovery of the principle of natural selection. In both of these examples the meaning of questions, especially of well-chosen why-questions, of strategic principles, and of highly structured background knowledge come to the fore. Good questions frequent those who have orderly expectations, based on experience and expertise (detectives!) or highly structured background theories (scientists!). (shrink)
The paper discusses the Inconsistency Theory of Truth (IT), the view that “true” is inconsistent in the sense that its meaning-constitutive principles include all instances of the truth-schema (T). It argues that (IT) entails that anyone using “true” in its ordinary sense is committed to all the (T)-instances and that any theory in which “true” is used in that sense entails the (T)-instances (which, given classical logic, entail contradictions). More specifically, I argue that theorists are committed to the meaning-constitutive principles (...) of logical constants, relative to the interpretation they intend thereof (e.g., classical), and that theories containing logical constants entail those principles. Further, I argue, since there is no relevant difference from the case of “true”, inconsistency theorists’ uses of “true” commit them to the (T)-instances. Adherents of (IT) are recommended, as a consequence, to eschew the truth-predicate. I also criticise Matti Eklund’s account of how the semantic value of “true” is determined, which can be taken as an attempt to show how “true” can be consistently used, despite being inconsistent. (shrink)
Rights, autonomy, privacy, and confidentialityare concepts commonly used in discussionsconcerning genetic information. When theseconcepts are thought of as denoting absolutenorms and values which cannot be overriden byother considerations, conflicts among themnaturally occur.In this paper, these and related notions areexamined in terms of the duties and obligationsmedical professionals and their clients canhave regarding genetic knowledge. It issuggested that while the prevailing idea ofautonomy is unhelpful in the analysis of theseduties, and the ensuing rights, an alternativereading of personal self-determination canprovide a firmer (...) basis for ethical guidelinesand policies in this field. (shrink)
This is a discussion of different ways of working out the idea that the semantic paradoxes show that natural languages are somehow “inconsistent”. I take the workable form of the idea to be that there are expressions such that a necessary condition of understanding them is that one be inclined to accept inconsistent claims (an conception also suggested by Matti Eklund). I then distinguish “simple” from “complex” forms of such views. On a simple theory, such expressions are meaningless, while (...) on a complex theory they are not. I argue that complex theories are incompatible with truth conditional semantics and that simple theories are only coherent when the inconsistent claims are metalingusitic attributions of meaning. I close with a discussion of the version of the simple metalinguistic theory I have defended in “Understanding the Liar” and other papers. (shrink)
Where is philosophy going? Are we entering a post-philosophy millennium? The Future of Philosophy presents the notion of what the future of philosophy is as a crucial concept, since it allows us to speculate not only on the future, but also on the past. The insightful essays consider a variety of issues, from ethics to mind, language to feminist thought, postmodernism to religion. Contributors: Peter Edwards, Lenn Goodman, Sean Hand, Heta Hayry, Matti Hayry, Gill Howie, Oliver Leaman, Harry Lesser, (...) Gerard Livingstone, William Lyons and Catherine Wilson. (shrink)
There are two possible ways to understand form and substance in legal reasoning. The first refers to the distinction between concepts and their applications, whereas the second concentrates on the difference between authoritative and non-authoritative reasons. These approaches refer to the formalistic and positivistic conceptions of the law, the latter being the author's point of departure. Nevertheless, they are both helpful means of analysis in legal interpretation. Interpretation is divided into formal and substantive justification. They have certain functions and they (...) are utilized in interaction. Authoritative reasons and formal reasoning constitute the necessary point of departure. However, substantive reasons are also necessary in order to justify choices included in interpretation. In addition to formal and substantive reasoning, the role of legal concepts is analysed. (shrink)
The topic of this paper is whether there is metaphysical vagueness. It is shown that it is important to distinguish between the general phenomenon of indeterminacy and the more narrow phenomenon of vagueness (the phenomenon that paradigmatically rears its head in sorites reasoning). Relatedly, it is important to distinguish between metaphysical indeterminacy and metaphysical vagueness. One can wish to allow metaphysical indeterminacy but rule out metaphysical vagueness. As is discussed in the paper, central argument against metaphysical vagueness, like those of (...) Gareth Evans and Mark Sainsbury, would if successful rule out metaphysical indeterminacy. One way to argue specifically against the possibility of metaphysical vagueness might be thought to be to argue for a specific theory of the nature of vagueness according to which vagueness is a semantic phenomenon. But it is shown that there are complications also pertaining to arguments with that structure. Toward the end of the paper, I discuss Trenton Merricks’ well-known argument against a semantic view on vagueness and for a metaphysical view. (shrink)
Thomas S. Kuhn claimed that the meanings of scientific terms change in theory changes or in scientific revolutions. In philosophy, meaning change has been taken as the source of a group of problems, such as untranslatability, incommensurability, and referential variance. For this reason, the majority of analytic philosophers have sought to deny that there can be meaning change by focusing on developing a theory of reference that would guarantee referential stability. A number of philosophers have also claimed that Kuhn’s view (...) can be explained by the fact that he accepted and further developed many central tenets of logical empiricism. I maintain that the genesis of Kuhn’s meaning theorising lies in his historical approach and that his view of meaning change is justified. Later in his career he attempted to advance a theory of meaning and can be said to have had limited success in it. What is more, recent cognitive science has unexpectedly managed to shed light on Kuhn’s insights on the organisation of information in the mind, concept learning, and concept definition. Furthermore, although Kuhn’s critique of Putnam’s causal theory of reference has often been dismissed as irrelevant, he has a serious point to address. Kuhn thought that the causal theory that works so well with proper names cannot work with scientific terms. He held that conceptual categories are formed by similarity and dissimilarity relations; therefore, several features and not only one single property are needed for determination of extension. In addition, the causal theory requires universal substances as points of reference of scientific terms. Kuhn was a conceptualist, who held that universals do not exist as mind-independent entities and that mind-dependent family resemblance concepts serve the role of universals. Further, at the beginning of his career, Kuhn was interested in the question of what concepts or ideas are and how they change in their historical context. Although he did not develop his theorising on this issue, I demonstrate that this is a genuine problem in the philosophy of history. Finally, Kuhn argued that scientists cannot have access to truth in history because we cannot transcend our historical niche, and as a consequence, the truth of a belief cannot be a reason for theory choice. Instead of truth, we can rely on justification. I also discuss Kuhn’s idea that problem-solving is the main aim of science and show that this view can be incorporated into coherentist epistemology. (shrink)
I go through, and criticize, Stephen Schiffer's account of vagueness and the sorites paradox. I discuss his notion of a happy-face solution to a paradox, his appeal to vagueness-related partial belief, his claim that indeterminacy is a psychological notion, and his view that the sorites premise and the inference rule of modus ponens are indeterminate.
Surging from the ontopoietic vital timing of life, human self-consciousness prompts the innermost desire to rise above its brute facts. Imaginatio creatrix inspires us to fabulate these facts into events and plots with personal significance attempting to delineate a life-course in life-stories within the ever-flowing stream – existence. Seeking their deep motivations, causes and concatenations, we fabulate relatively stabilized networks of interconnecting meaning – history. But to understand the meaning and sense of these networks’ reconfigurations call for the purpose and (...) telos of our endless undertaking; they remain always incomplete, carried onwards with the current of life, while fluctuating with personal experience in the play of memory. Facts and life stories, subjective desires and propensities, the circumambient world in its historical moves, creative logos and mythos, personal freedom and inward stirrings thrown in an enigmatic interplay, prompt our imperative thirst for the meaning of this course, its purpose and its fulfillment – the sense of it all. To disentangle all this animates the passions of the literary genius. The focus of this collection is to isolate the main arteries running through the intermingled forces prompting our quest to endow life with meaning. Papers by: Jadwiga Smith, Lawrence Kimmel, Alira Ashvo-Munoz, William D. Melaney, Imafedia Okhamafe, Michel Dion, Franck Dalmas, Ludmila Molodkina, Victor Gerald Rivas, Rebecca M. Painter, Matti Itkonen, Raymond J. Wilson III, Christopher S. Schreiner, Bruce Ross, Bernadette Prochaska, Tsung-I Dow, Jerre Collins, Cezary Jozef Olbromski, Victor Kocay, Roberto Verolini. (shrink)
Doren Recker has criticized the prevailing accounts of Darwin's argument for the theory of natural selection in the Origin of Species. In this note I argue that Recker fails to distinguish between a deductive short argument for the principle of natural selection, and a non-deductive, long argument which aims at establishing that the principle has explanatory power in the various domains of application. I shall try to show that the semantic view of theories, especially in its structuralist form, makes it (...) easy to distinguish between the two arguments and to explain how Darwin's long argument counts as one argument. I also raise a question about Recker's views on Darwin's mid-Victorian background, arguing that Newton's First Rule of Reasoning was not just a constraint on hypotheses involving unobservables, but a general request to keep conjecture and certainty apart. (shrink)
According to the received view on logical empiricism, the logical empiricists were involved in the same project as Popper, Lakatos and Kuhn: a project of describing actual scientific method and (with the exception of Kuhn) prescribing methodological rules for scientists. Even authors who seek to show that the logical empiricists were not as simpleminded as widely believed agree with this assumption. I argue that the received view has it wrong.
Are there distinctly European values in bioethics, and if there are, what are they? Some Continental philosophers have argued that the principles of dignity, precaution, and solidarity reflect the European ethos better than the liberal concepts of autonomy, harm, and justice. These principles, so the argument goes, elevate prudence over hedonism, communality over individualism, and moral sense over pragmatism. Contrary to what their proponents often believe, however, dignity, precaution, and solidarity can be interpreted in many ways, and it is not (...) clear which reading would, or should, be favored by popular opinion. It is therefore dangerous to think that any one understanding of ``European'', or any other, values could be legitimately imposed on those who have different ideas about morality in health care and related fields. Bioethical principles should be employed to promote discussion, not to suppress it. (shrink)
Finland is internationally known as one of the leading centers of twentieth century analytic philosophy. This volume offers for the first time an overall survey of the Finnish analytic school. The rise of this trend is illustrated by original articles of Edward Westermarck, Eino Kaila, Georg Henrik von Wright, and Jaakko Hintikka. Contributions of Finnish philosophers are then systematically discussed in the fields of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, ethics and social philosophy. Metaphilosophical reflections on (...) the nature of philosophy are highlighted by the Finnish dialogue between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, and critical theory. (shrink)
This paper explores the historical idea of improving humanity. Developments in genetics and political thought have during the last century contributed to eugenic policies which have sometimes had adverse effects on people's lives. But European philosophy has seen attempts to make better human beings long before the current scientific advances. The paper explores these attempts by an examination of the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, Condorcet, Herder, and Mill, as well as the technological Romanticism of Mary Shelley, before moving on to (...) the more recent eugenic policies inspired by Darwin and Galton. (shrink)
Probing into the fundamentals of any phenomenon, we come upon a secret in the very moment of its inception - a bond with the multiplicity of the world. If anything in our world is detached from its foundations, this ontological lifeline is severed - being and Being are confounded. The ontic preexists language, it pre-empts all conceptualization. The world is in flux and lies always beyond the confines of any system; something of it always escapes. Only when this is conceded (...) can beginning begin, only then can we set about the work of phenomenalizing our world; only then is it possible to seek answers to questions such as "Who am I?", "And you?", "What is the nature of responsibility, reflection, dialogicity and intersubjectivity?" Perhaps after all some notion can be netted in. (shrink)
This article deals with the problematic concepts of the rational and the social, which have been typically seen as dichotomous in the history and philosophy of science literature. I argue that this view is mistaken and that the social can be seen as something that enables rationality in science, and further, that a scientific community as well as an individual can be taken as an epistemic subject. Furthermore, I consider how scientific communities could be seen as freely acting and choosing (...) agents. Fundamentally, this boils down to the question whether we accept the voluntarist conception of human beings, one consequence of which is that scientists possess, in principle, the capacity for deliberative reflection and choice. If this is accepted, we can talk about the degrees of autonomy that communities possess. I also examine what kinds of decisions an autonomous community should make in order to produce objective knowledge. My suggestion is that objectivity be understood as intersubjectivity: a view is objective when it has been exposed to critical reflection from various points of view, and due to this, transcends subjective idiosyncrasies. (shrink)
The paper sketches an account of explanatory practice in which explanations are viewed as answers to explanation-requiring questions. To avoid difficulties in previous proposals, the paper uses the structuralist account of theory structure, arguing that theories are complex and evolving entities formed around a conceptual core and a set of intended applications. The argument is that this view does better justice to theories which involve a number of different kinds of theory-elements to give narrative explanations. Theories are, among other things, (...) devices which can be used to turn explanation-requiring questions into a form which allows assessment of potential answers. Evolutionary theory, both in Darwin's and the modern synthetic forms, are used as examples. The view advanced is that modern evolutionary theory need not have a unique core to which other theories serve as subcontractors. (shrink)
The paper explores two ways in which the logic of questions might aid in the understanding of explanations. First, the "logic" of question-answer sequences imposes constraints on what answers are acceptable for an inquirer. Secondly, there are field- specific type-requirements built into questions. There is always more to a question than meets the potential answerer's ear. It is argued that, since there are nonepistemic presuppositions of why-questions, there are no interesting necessary and sufficient conditions for all explanations. Explanations are a (...) family of concepts tied together by the thin thread of the logic of question-answer sequences. (shrink)
This paper examines the logic and morality of the German Stem Cell Act of 2002. After a brief description of the law’s scope and intent, its ethical dimensions are analysed in terms of symbolic threats, indirect consequences, and the encouragement of immorality. The conclusions are twofold. For those who want to accept the law, the arguments for its rationality and morality can be sound. For others, the emphasis on the uniqueness of the German experience, the combination of absolute and qualified (...) value judgments, and the lingering questions of indirect encouragement of immoral activities will probably be too much. (shrink)
Ben Mepham has proposed that a ``matrix'' beused in the analysis of ethical problems in foodproduction and elsewhere. In particular cases, thismatrix would ideally cross the most important moralprinciples involved, and the individuals and groupsaffected by the decisions. In the following, Mepham'smodel is assessed in the case of geneticallyengineered bovine growth hormone. My argument is thata more straightforwardly ``consequentialist'' analysiscan draw attention to the problems of using thehormone better than Mepham's original proposal. It ispossible, however, that some nuances will be (...) lost inthe process. I do not, therefore, argue for theoverall superiority of my suggestion – it is merelya slightly different, and perhaps sometimes a morepromising, way to analyze the ethical dimensions offood production and marketing. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Seven ways of making people better; 2. Rational approaches to the genetic challenge; 3. The best babies and parental responsibility; 4. Deaf embryos, morality, and the law; 5. Saviour siblings and treating people as a means; 6. Reproductive cloning and designing human beings; 7. Embryonic stem cells, vulnerability, and sanctity; 8. Gene therapies, hopes, and fears; 9. Considerable life extension and the meaning of life; 10. Taking the genetic challenge rationally.
In a contribution to The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy , Professor Rosamond Rhodes argues that individuals sometimes have an obligation to know about their genetic disorders, because this is required by their status as autonomous persons. Her analysis, which is based on Kant's concept of autonomy and Aristotle's notion of friendship, is extended here to consequentialist concerns. These are of paramount importance if, as we believe and Professor Rhodes herself implies, the Kantian and Aristotelian doctrines can be helpful only (...) in the sphere of private morality, not in the public realm. Better tools for assessing the right to genetic ignorance as an issue of public policy can, we contend, be found in Mill's ideas concerning liberty and the prevention of harm. Our own conclusion, based on the Millian way of thinking, is that individuals probably do have the right to remain in ignorance in the cases Professor Rhodes presents as examples of a duty to know. (shrink)