Patricia Williams made a number of claims concerning the methods and practise of cladistic analysis and classification. Her argument rests upon the distinction of two kinds of hierarchy: a divisional hierarchy depicting evolutionary descent and the Linnean hierarchy describing taxonomic groups in a classification. Williams goes on to outline five problems with cladistics that lead her to the conclusion that systematists should eliminate cladism as a school of biological taxonomy and to replace it either with something that is (...) philosophically coherent or to replace it with pure methodology, untainted by theory (Williams 1992, 151). Williams makes a number of points which she feels collectively add up to insurmountable problems for cladistics. We examine Williams' views concerning the two hierarchies and consider what cladists currently understand about the status of ancestors. We will demonstrate that Williams has seriously misunderstood many modern commentators on this subject and all of her five persistent problems are derivable from this misunderstanding. Some persons believe and argue, on grounds approaching faith it seems to me, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of evolution. Others have found to their surprise, and sometimes dismay, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of systematics. Nelson (1989, 67). (shrink)
Williams, Ron As I consider the list of previous AHOY recipients since the inaugural award in 1983, I can only say that this is an immeasurable honour. It means much to me because, for almost ten years now, Humanism has been there for my family. In 2005-2006, when separation of church and state school issues first crept into our lives, the Humanist Society of Queensland was to appear as the only beacon of secularist activism upon the deep northern horizon. (...) So in 2006 Andrea and I joined the HSQ. (shrink)
Who am I, and what am I? The question is one asked through the ages, answered in various ways in different disciplines. Identity is a matter of intellectual interest but also of personal and practical interest, attracting attention and stimulating controversy outside the ranks of the specialists. This volume offers a comparison and cross-fertilization of insights and theories from various disciplines in which identity is a key concept. -/- Identity contains essays by six internationally famous contributors, focusing on different facets (...) of identity from the viewpoint of their various disciplines. Two philosophers, Bernard Williams and Derek Parfit, discuss, respectively, numerical identity (when can we say that two phenomena observed at different times are one and the same thing?) and personal identity (how far can the concept of `I' be stretched, and does it always matter whether we can say if that would still be me?). Henry Harris looks at philosophical discussions of identity from the persopective of an experimentalist, and discusses whether philosophical thought-experiments have any basis in scientific reality. -/- The essays that follow offer perspectives from outside philosophy: Michael Ruse considers homosexual identity and to what extent it is reasonable to claim that homosexuality is a social construct. Terence Cave looks at personal identity through the eye of literature and fiction, and portrays idetnity as generated through the narratives that one weaves about oneself or about other people. Finally, Anthony D Smith looks at national identities and how they are formed, analysing how this process is shaped by the interplay of cultural inheritance, political expediency, and myth. (shrink)
This book comprises essays in law and legal theory celebrating the life and work of Jim Harris. The topics addressed reflect the wide range of Harris's work, and the depth of his influence on legal studies. They include the nature of law and legal reasoning, rival theories of property rights and their impact on practical questions before the courts; the nature of precedent in legal argument; and the evolving concept of human rights and its place in legal discourse.
Â‘First. That on October 23, in the city of New York, your relator was arrested by divers persons claiming to be acting by authority of the government of the United States, and was by said persons conveyed to the United States immigration station at Ellis island, in the harbor of New York, and is now there imprisoned by the commissioner of immigration of the port of New York.
Abstract: William James argued that we ordinarily think of the objects that we can observe—things that belong to 'the world of sense'—as having an unquestioned reality. However, young children also assert the existence of entities that they cannot ordinarily observe. For example, they assert the existence of germs and souls. The belief in the existence of such unobservable entities is likely to be based on children's broader trust in other people's testimony about objects and situations that they cannot directly observe (...) for themselves. (shrink)
Works of William Godwin: Series II, Political and Philosophical Writings. General editor: Mark Philp. Volume editors: Pamela Clemit, Martin Fitzpatrick, Mark Philp. Researcher: Austin Gee. Consulting editor: William St Clair. Seven volumes. William Pickering. London, 1993. £395. ISBN: 1?85196?026?0 set.
What can--and what can't--philosophy do? What are its ethical risks--and its possible rewards? How does it differ from science? In Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline , Bernard Williams addresses these questions and presents a striking vision of philosophy as fundamentally different from science in its aims and methods even though there is still in philosophy "something that counts as getting it right." Written with his distinctive combination of rigor, imagination, depth, and humanism, the book amply demonstrates why Williams (...) was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Spanning his career from his first publication to one of his last lectures, the book's previously unpublished or uncollected essays address metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as the scope and limits of philosophy itself. The essays are unified by Williams's constant concern that philosophy maintain contact with the human problems that animate it in the first place. As the book's editor, A. W. Moore, writes in his introduction, the title essay is "a kind of manifesto for Williams's conception of his own life's work." It is where he most directly asks "what philosophy can and cannot contribute to the project of making sense of things"--answering that what philosophy can best help make sense of is "being human." Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline is one of three posthumous books by Williams to be published by Princeton University Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument was published in the fall of 2005. The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy is being published shortly after the present volume. (shrink)
[Michael Williams] A response to Sosa's criticisms of Sellars's account of the relation between knowledge and experience, noting that Sellars excludes merely animal knowledge, and hopes to bypass epistemology by an adequate philosophy of mind and language. /// [Ernest Sosa] I give an exposition and critical discussion of Sellars's Myth of the Given, and especially of its epistemic side. In later writings Sellars takes a pragmatist turn in his epistemology. This is explored and compared with his earlier critique of (...) givenist mythology. In response to Michael Williams, it is argued that these issues are importantly independent of philosophy of language or mind, and that my own take on them does not commit me to any absurd radical foundationalism on language or mind. My own take is in line with Descartes' two-level epistemology of cognitio and scientia, a bifurcation that protects him from vicious circularity, and is adaptable for an epistemology naturalized (not supernaturalized), whether in the way of Quine, or Moore, or Davidson. (shrink)
This new volume of philosophical papers by Bernard Williams is divided into three sections: the first Action, Freedom, Responsibility, the second Philosophy, Evolution and the Human Sciences; in which appears the essay which gives the collection its title; and the third Ethics, which contains essays closely related to his 1983 book Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Like the two earlier volumes of Williams's papers published by Cambridge University Press, Problems of the Self and Moral Luck, this volume (...) will be welcomed by all readers with a serious interest in philosophy. It is published alongside a volume of essays on Williams's work, World, Mind, and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams, edited by J. E. J. Altham and Ross Harrison, which provides a reappraisal of his work by other distinguished thinkers in the field. (shrink)
Ethical behavior — the conscious attempt to act in accordance with an individually-owned morality — is the product of an advanced stage of the maturing process. Three models of ethical growth derived from research in human development are applied to issues of business ethics.
John Harris has previously proposed that there is a moral duty to participate in scientific research. This concept has recently been challenged by Iain Brassington, who asserts that the principles cited by Harris in support of the duty to research fail to establish its existence. In this paper we address these criticisms and provide new arguments for the existence of a moral obligation to research participation. This obligation, we argue, arises from two separate but related principles. The principle (...) of fairness obliges us to support the social institutions which sustain us, of which research is one; while the principle of beneficence, or the duty of rescue, imposes upon us a duty to prevent harm to others, including by supporting potentially beneficial, even life-saving research. We argue that both these lines of argument support the duty to research, and explore further aspects of this duty, such as to whom it is owed and how it might be discharged. (shrink)
Most views of personal identity allow that sometimes, facts of personal identity can be borderline or indeterminate. Bernard Williams argued that regarding questions of one’s own survival as borderline “had no comprehensible representation” in one’s emotions and expectations. Whether this is the case, I will argue, depends crucially on what account of indeterminacy is presupposed.
[Andrew Williams] It is difficult for prioritarians to explain the degree to which justice requires redress for misfortune in a way that avoids imposing unreasonably high costs on more advantaged individuals whilst also economising on intuitionist appeals to judgment. An appeal to hypothetical insurance may be able to solve the problems of cost and judgment more successfully, and can also be defended from critics who claim that resource egalitarianism is best understood to favour the ex post elimination of envy (...) over individual endowments. /// [Michael Otsuka] Inequality is intrinsically bad when and because it is unfair. It follows that the ideal of equality is not necessarily realised by a distribution of resources which is envy-free prior to the resolution of risks against which people have an equal opportunity to insure. Even if the upshot of such an ex ante envyfree distribution is just, it is not necessarily fair. (shrink)
Thomas Williams Note: This is a preprint of my introduction to the forthcoming translation by Margaret Atkins of Thomas Aquinas’s Disputed Questions on the Virtues (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). The basic procedure was simple. The topic would be announced in advance so that everyone could prepare an arsenal of clever arguments. When the faculty and students had gathered, the professor would offer a brief introduction and state his thesis. All morning long an appointed graduate student would (...) take objections from the audience and defend the professor’s thesis against those objections. (And if the graduate student began to flounder, the professor was allowed to help him out.) A secretary would take shorthand notes. The next day the group would reassemble. This time it would be the professor’s job to summarise the arguments on both sides and give his own response to the question at issue. The whole thing would be written up, either in a rough-and-tumble version deriving from the secretary’s notes or in a more carefully crafted and edited version prepared by the professor himself. Records of such academic exercises have come down to us under the title ‘disputed questions’. (shrink)
This volume brings together Paul Williams's previously published papers on the Indian and Tibetan interpretations of selected verses from the eighth and ninth chapters of the Bodhicaryavatara. In addition, there is a much longer version of the paper 'Identifying the Object of Negation', and nearly half the book consists of a wholly new essay, 'The Absence of Self and the Removal of Pain', subtitled 'How Santideva Destroyed the Bodhisattva Path'. This book will be of interest to those concerned with (...) the history and interpretation of Indian and Tibetan philosophy. (shrink)
Lyotard and the Political is the first book to consider the full range of the French philosopher Francois Lyotard's political thought and its broader implications. Author James Williams clearly and carefully traces the development of Lyotard's thought from his early Marxist essays on the Algerian struggle for independence to his break with the thought of Marx and Freud. This book explains why Lyotard lost his belief in revolutionary politics and seeks to draw out the positive and negative consequences of (...) this loss. Encompassing all of Lyotard's thought, early and late, the book situates his work in terms of the dominant political and philosophical positions of the twentieth century.Williams clearly explains the relationship between Lyotard's thought and the thought of Kant, Heidegger, and Deleuze. (shrink)
Japan and the Enemies of Open Political Science argues that Eurocentric blindness is a scientific failing, not a moral one. In a way true of no other political system, Japan's greatness has the potential to enliven and reform almost all the main branches of Western Political Science. David Williams criticizes Western social science, Anglo-American Philosophy and French Theory and explains why mainstream economists, historians of political thought and postculturalists have ignored Japan's modern achievements. Williams demonstrates why the renewal (...) of social science and the nurturing of a "a philosophy of the Pacific Century" requires a sustained act of intellectual demolition. (shrink)
PC Wars: Politics and Theory in the Academy addresses the very issue of political correctness and the current skirmishes in the culture wars. It includes statements from many of our leading contemporary public intellectuals, including Joan Wallach Scott, Michael Be;rube;, Bruce Robbins, Henry Giroux, and Gerald Graff. The collection marks a watershed in the debate about "pc" in that it presents serious considerations and analyses of the factors, causes, and consequences of the culture wars. Carefully examining the construction of "pc," (...) PC Wars analyses political correctness by focusing on the mass media, class politics, and the ideology of managerial democracy. It places the disputes around "pc" in the context of contemporary developments in critical and cultural theory and the current backlash against theory, manifested in the recent attacks on Marxism, feminism and deconstruction. The book also scrutinizes the undercurrents of anti-intellectualism and anti-professionalism which have tended to create a fertile ground for the "pc" hysteria. Offering much more than slogans and slinging arrows, PC Wars provides a spirited and critical look at the reaction, ideology, and political forces that have coalesced around the term. Contributors: Michael Be;rube;, Reed Way Dasenbrock, Frank Farmer, Henry Giroux, Gerald Graff, Darlene Hantzis and Devoney Looser, John S. Howard and James M. Lang, Tom Lewis, James Neilson, Christopher Newfield, Richard Ohmann, Burce Robbins, Barry Sarchett, Joan W. Scott, Michael Sprinker, Jeffrey Williams. (shrink)
This book explores the tradition of the 'science of man' in French medicine of the era 1750-1850, focusing on controversies about the nature of the 'physical-moral' relation and their effects on the role of medicine in French society. Its chief purpose is to recover the history of a holistic tradition in French medicine that has been neglected because it lay outside the mainstream themes of modern medicine, which include experimental, reductionist, and localistic conceptions of health and disease. Professor Williams (...) also challenges existing historiography, which argues that the 'anthropological' approach to medicine was a short-term by-product of the leftist politics of the French Revolution. This work argues instead that the medical science of man long outlived the Revolution, that it spanned traditional ideological divisions, and that it reflected the shared aim of French physicians, whatever their politics, to claim broad cultural authority in French society. (shrink)
Why has the ring of the telephone become a beep? What ever happened to the bumpers and fenders of cars? Why do food commercials never mention hunger?In this encyclopedia of low-brow aesthetics, Daniel Harris concentrates on the nuances of non-art, the uses of the useless, the politics of product design and advertising. We learn how advertisers exaggerate our sensual responses to eating, how close-up nature photography exaggerates the accessibility of the natural world, and how the mutated physiology of dolls (...) invites our pity and affection.In studying its aesthetics, we find consumerism instills disappointment rather than gratification, convincing us that our lives are deficient and wanting. If we are what we buy, then we must buy in order to be. (shrink)
As hopes that generative linguistics might solve philosophical problems about the mind give way to disillusionment, old problems concerning the relationship between linguistics and philosophy survive unresolved. This collection surveys the historical engagement between the two, and opens up avenues for further reflection. In Part 1 two contrasting views are presented of the interface nowadays called 'philosophy of linguistics'. Part 2 gives a detailed historical survey of the engagement of analytic philosophy with linguistic problems during the present century, and sees (...) the imposition by philosophers of an 'exploratory' model of thinking as a major challenge to the discipline of linguistics. Part 3 poses the problem of whether linguistics is dedicated to describing independently existing linguistic structures or to imposing its own structures on linguistic phenomena. In Part 4 Harris points out some similarities in the way an eminent linguist and an eminent philosopher invoke the analogy between languages and games; while Taylor analyses the rationale of our metalinguistic claims and their relationship to linguistic theorizing. Providing a wide range of views and ideas this book will be of interest to all those interested and involved in the interface of philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
Philosophers have met with many problems in discussing the interconnected concepts being, identity, and truth, and have advanced many theories to deal with them. Williams argues that most of these problems and theories result from an inadequate appreciation of the ways in which the words "be," "same," and "true" work. By means of linguistic analysis he shows that being and truth are not properties, and identity is not a relation. He is thus able to demystify a number of metaphysical (...) issues concerning the meaning of the word "I," the relation between the mental and the physical, objects of thought, times and places, and the nature of reality. Williams presents his views clearly, with a minimum of technicality, and with rich and apt examples, so that they will be accessible to readers not versed in symbolic logic. (shrink)
Inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars, Michael Williams launches an all-out attack on what he calls "phenomenalism," the idea that our knowledge of the world rests on a perceptual or experiential foundation. The point of this wider-than-normal usage of the term "phenomenalism," according to which even some forms of direct realism deserve to be called phenomenalistic, is to call attention to important continuities of thought between theories often thought to be competitors. Williams's target is not phenomenalism in (...) its classical sense-datum and reductionist form but empiricism generally. Williams examines and rejects the idea that, unless our beliefs are answerable to a "given" element in experience, objective knowledge will be impossible. Groundless Belief was first published in 1977. This second edition contains a new afterword in which Williams places his arguments in the context of some current discussions of coherentism versus the Myth of the Given and explains their relation to subsequent developments in his own epistemological views. (shrink)
The concept of identity has been seen to lead to a paradox: we cannot truly and usefully say that a thing is the same either as itself or as something else. Williams here examines this paradox in philosophical logic, and its implications for the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and relativism about identity.
An important shift occurs in Martin Heidegger’s thinking one year after the publication of Being and Time , in the Appendix to the Metaphysical Foundations of Logic . The shift is from his project of fundamental ontology—which provides an existential analysis of human existence on an ontological level—to metontology . Metontology is a neologism that refers to the ontic sphere of human experience and to the regional ontologies that were excluded from Being and Time. It is within metontology, Heidegger states, (...) that “the question of ethics may be raised for the first time.” This paper makes explicit both Heidegger’s argument for metontology , and the relation between metontology and ethics. In examining what he means by “the art of existing,” the paper argues that there is an ethical dimension to Heidegger’s thinking that corresponds to a moderate form of moral particularism. In order to justify this position, a comparative analysis is made between Heidegger, Aristotle, and Bernard Williams. (shrink)
We revisit an important exchange on the problem of radical skepticism between Richard Rorty and Michael Williams. In his contribution to this exchange, Rorty defended the kind of transcendental approach to radical skepticism that is offered by Donald Davidson, in contrast to Williams’s Wittgenstein-inspired view. It is argued that the key to evaluating this debate is to understand the particular conception of the radical skeptical problem that is offered in influential work by Barry Stroud, a conception of the (...) skeptical problem which generates metaepistemological ramifications for anti-skeptical theories. In particular, we argue that, contra Williams, Rorty’s view that Davidson was offering a theoretical diagnosis of radical skepticism can be consistently maintained with his transcendental approach. (shrink)
Some argue that humans should enhance their moral capacities by adopting institutions that facilitate morally good motives and behaviour. I have defended a parallel claim: that we could permissibly use biomedical technologies to enhance our moral capacities, for example by attenuating certain counter-moral emotions. John Harris has recently responded to my argument by raising three concerns about the direct modulation of emotions as a means to moral enhancement. He argues (1) that such means will be relatively ineffective in bringing (...) about moral improvements, (2) that direct modulation of emotions would invariably come at an unacceptable cost to our freedom, and (3) that we might end up modulating emotions in ways that actually lead to moral decline. In this article I outline some counter-intuitive potential implications of Harris' claims. I then respond individually to his three concerns, arguing that they license only the very weak conclusion that moral enhancement via direct emotion modulation is sometimes impermissible. However I acknowledge that his third concern might, with further argument, be developed into a more troubling objection to such enhancements. (shrink)
When a person gives up an end of crucial importance to her in order to promote a moral aim, we regard her as having made a moral sacrifice. The paper analyzes these sacrifices in light of some of Bernard Williams’ objections to Kantian and Utilitarian accounts of them. Williams argues that an implausible consequence of these theories is that that we are expected to sacrifice projects that make our lives worth living and contribute to our integrity. Williams’ (...) arguments about integrity and meaning are shown to be unconvincing when the content of projects is left open. However, a look at his later arguments suggests a reason to be concerned about defensible ethical projects as understood through what he refers to as “the morality system”. The problem for theories of this type turns out to be not merely conflicts between ethical projects and moral demands but making sense of some of the ethically relevant features of these projects. Accommodations to moral theories that leave room for ethical projects may be insufficient to explain such features, for example in cases where agents demand more of themselves than the theories require. Making the theories more demanding is also problematic. Williams’ view about the role ethics plays in our conception of the life we want to lead provides a better account of these cases. (shrink)