Over the last fifteen years, Michael Smith has written a series of seminal essays about the nature of belief and desire, the status of normative judgment, and the relevance of the views we take on both these topics to the accounts we give of our nature as free and responsible agents. This long awaited collection comprises some of the most influential of Smith's essays. Among the topics covered are: the Humean theory of motivating reasons, the nature of normative reasons, (...) Williams and Korsgaard on internal and external reasons, the nature of self-control, weakness of will, compulsion, freedom, responsibility, the analysis of our rational capacities, moral realism, the dispositional theory of value, the supervenience of the normative on the non-normative, the error theory, rationalist treatments of moral judgment, the practicality requirement on moral judgment and non-cognivist. This collection will be of interest to students in philosophy and psychology. (shrink)
John E. Smith has contributed to contemporary philosophy in primarily four distinct capacities; first, as a philosopher of religion and God; second, as an indefatigable defender of philosophical reflection in its classical sense ( a sense inclusive of, but not limited to, metaphysics); third, as a participant in the reconstruction of experience and reason so boldly inaugurated by Hegel then redically transformed by the classical American pragmatists, and significantly augmented by such thinkers as Josiah Royce, william Earnest Hocking, and Alfred (...) North Whitehead; fourth, as an interpreter of philosophical texts and traditions (Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche no less than Charles Peirce, WIlliam James and John Dewey; German idealism as well as American; the Augustinian tradition no less than the pragmatic). Reason, Experience, and God provides an important and comprehensive look at the work of John E. Smith by collected essays which each address aspects of his life-long work. A response by John E. Smith himself draws a line of continuity between the pieces. (shrink)
Moral philosophy and education, by H. D. Aiken.--The moral sense and contributory values, by C. I. Lewis.--Realms of value, by P. W. Taylor.--The role of value theory in education, by J. D. Butler.--Does ethics make a difference? By K. Price.--Educational value statements, by C. Beck.--Educational values and goals, by W. K. Frankena.--Conflicts in values, by H. S. Broudy.--Levels of valuational discourse in education, by J. F. Perry and P. G. Smith.--Education and some moves toward a value methodology, by A. S. (...) Clayton.--You can't pray a lie, by M. Twain.--Men, machines, and morality, by J. F. Soltis.--Teaching and telling, by I. Scheffler.--Reason and habit, by R. S. Peters.--The two moralists of the child, by J. Piaget.--Causes and morality, by R. S. Peters.--On education and morals, by R. W. Sleeper.--Moral autonomy and reasonableness, by T. D. Perry. (shrink)
When we say that a subject has attitudes that she is rationally required to have, does that entail that she has those attitudes for reasons? In other words, is there a deep nexus between being rational and responding to reasons? Many have argued that there is. For example, Derek Parfit tells us that 'to be rational is to respond to reasons' (Parfit 1997, p.99). But I am not so sure. I begin by considering this question in the domain of theoretical (...) rationality. The question in this domain is whether, when a subject has the beliefs that she is required to have by the norms of theoretical rationality, she is responding to reasons that there are for having those beliefs. Armed with a moderately clear answer to this question in the theoretical domain, I consider their relationship in the practical domain. When a subject has the desires that she is required to have by the norms of practical rationality, is she responding to reasons that there are for having those desires? Part of the interest of these questions lies in improving our understanding of reasons for action. I will say a little about this towards the end. (shrink)
This article was conceived as a sequel to “The Humean Theory of Motivation.” The paper addresses various challenges to the standard account of the explanation of intentional action in terms of desire and means-end belief, challenges that didn’t occur to me when I wrote “The Humean Theory of Motivation.” I begin by suggesting that the attraction of the standard account lies in the way in which it allows us to unify a vast array of otherwise diverse types of action explanation. (...) I go on to consider a range of other challenges to the standard account of the explanation of action: Rosalind Hursthouse’s challenge based on the possibility of what she calls “arational” actions (Hursthouse 1991); Michael Stocker’s challenge based on the idea that some explanations of action are nonteleological (Stocker 1981); Mark Platts’s challenge based on the idea that our evaluative beliefs can sometimes explain our actions all by themselves (Platts 1981); a voluntarist challenge based on the possibility of explaining actions by the exercise of self-control; and a challenge from Jonathan Dancy based on the idea that reasons can themselves sometimes explain actions all by themselves (Dancy 1994). (shrink)
In this long and detailed book Bennett and Hacker set themselves two ambitious tasks. The first is to offer a philosophical critique of, what they argue are, philosophical confusions within contemporary cognitive neuroscience. The second is to present a ‘conceptual reference work for cognitive neuroscientists who wish to check the contour lines of the psychological concept relevant to their investigation’ (p.7). In the process they cover an astonishing amount of material. The first two chapters present a critical history of neuroscience (...) from Aristotle to Sherrington, Eccles and Penfield. Chapter three (to which I shall return), offers the philosophical basis for much of the book. Chapters four to twelve present detailed philosophical criticisms of a wide variety of neuroscientists (and some philosophers) on a large number of topics. These include: Crick, Damasio, Edelman, Marr and Frisby on perception (particularly the primary/secondary quality distinction and the binding problem); Milner, Squire and Kandel on memory; Blakemore and others on mental imagery; LaDoux and Damasio on the emotions; Libet on voluntary movement; and Baars, Crick, Edelman, Damasio, Penrose, Searle, Chalmers, and Nagel on consciousness (with a great deal on qualia and self-consciousness). Chapters thirteen and fourteen, along with the two appendices, contain an elaboration and defence of the book’s methodology and present explicit contrasts with the Churchlands, Dennett and Searle. Bennett and Hacker maintain that whilst neuroscientists have made significant discoveries concerning the workings of the brain, these discoveries have been obscured by their presentation within an incoherent conceptual framework. Their complaints, therefore, are often not with neuroscience itself but with what might be called its philosophical self image. (shrink)
This book is a survey of the most important developments in Austrian philosophy in its classical period from the 1870s to the Anschluss in 1938. But I hope that the volume will be seen also as a contribution to philosophy in its own right as an attempt to philosophize in the spirit of those, above all Roderick Chisholm, Rudolf Haller, Kevin Mulligan and Peter Simons, who have done so much to demonstrate the continued fertility of the ideas and methods of (...) the Austrian philosophers in our own day. For some time now, historians of philosophy have been gradually coming to terms with the idea that post-Kantian philosophy in the German-speaking world ought properly to be divided into two distinct traditions which we might refer to as the German and Austrian traditions, respectively. The main line of the first consists in a list of personages beginning with Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling and ending with Heidegger, Adorno and Bloch. The main line of the second may be picked out similarly by means of a list beginning with Bolzano, Mach and Meinong, and ending with Wittgenstein, Neurath and Popper. As should be clear, it is the Austrian tradition that has contributed most to the contemporary mainstream of philosophical thinking in the Anglo-Saxon world. For while there are of course German thinkers who have made crucial contributions to the development of exact or analytic philosophy, such thinkers were outsiders when seen from the perspective of native German philosophical culture, and in fact a number of them, as we shall see, found their philosophical home precisely in Vienna. When, in contrast, we examine the influence of the Austrian line, we encounter a whole series of familiar and unfamiliar links to the characteristic concerns of more recent philosophy of the analytic sort. As Michael Dummett points out in his Origins of Analytic Philosophy, the newly fashionable habit of referring to analytic philosophy as "Anglo-American" is in this light a "grave historical distortion". If, he says, we take into account the historical context in which analytic philosophy developed, then such philosophy "could at least as well be called "Anglo-Austrianâ€" (1988, p. 7). Much valuable scholarly work has been done on the thinking of Husserl and Wittgenstein, Mach and the Vienna Circle. The central axis of Austrian philosophy, however, which as I hope to show in what follows is constituted by the work of Brentano and his school, is still rather poorly understood. Work on Meinong or Twardowski by contemporary philosophers still standardly rests upon simplified and often confused renderings of a few favoured theses taken out of context. Little attention is paid to original sources, and little effort is devoted to establishing what the problems were by which the Austrian philosophers in general were exercised B in spite of the fact that many of these same problems have once more become important as a result of the contemporary burgeoning of interest on the part of philosophers in problems in the field of cognitive science. (shrink)
Russ Schafer-Landau’s ‘Moral judgement and normative reasons’ is admirably clear and to the point (Schafer-Landau 1999). He presents his own version of the argument for the practicality requirement on moral judgement – that is, for the claim that those who have moral beliefs are either motivated or practically irrational – that I gave in The Moral Problem (Smith 1994), and he then proceeds to identify several crucial problems. In what follows I begin by making some comments about his presentation of (...) the argument. I then confront the problems. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy is the definitive guide to what's going on in this lively and fascinating subject. Jackson and Smith, themselves two of the world's most eminent philosophers, have assembled more than thirty distinguished scholars to contribute incisive and up-to-date critical surveys of the principal areas of research. The coverage is broad, with sections devoted to moral philosophy, social and political philosophy, philosophy of mind and action, philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of the sciences. This (...) Handbook will be a rich source of insight and stimulation for philosophers, students of philosophy, and for people working in other disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, who are interested in the state of philosophy today. (shrink)
It seems to be a truism that whenever we do something - and so, given the omnipresence of trying (Hornsby 1980), whenever we try to do something - we want to do that thing more than we want to do anything else we can do (Davidson 1970). However, according to Frog, when we have will power we are able to try not to do something that we ‘really want to do’. In context the idea is clearly meant to be that (...) what we really want to do and what we most want to do are one and the same. But how is this meant to be so much as possible? It seems to require that our desire not to do what we most want to do is both our strongest desire and not our strongest desire. And that is a blatant contradiction. This is the so-called ‘paradox of self-control’ (Mele 1987). The aim of our paper is to explain how to make sense of the story of Frog and Toad. (shrink)
where, according to Schiffer, the concept of an F is pleonastic just in case the concept itself licenses entailments of the form: S ⇒ ∃xFx. These are what he calls "somethingfrom-nothing" entailments and the various practices in which such entailments are made are what he calls "hypostatisizing practices" (p.57). The concept of a proposition is pleonastic, according to this definition, because it licenses the move from a claim like 'Fido is a dog,' a claim containing only the singular term 'Fido' (...) referring to Fido, to the claim 'It is true that Fido is a dog,' which is a claim that contains the singular term 'that Fido is a dog' referring to the proposition that Fido is a dog. (iv) Propositions are pleonastic entities, as anything that falls under a pleonastic concept is, by definition, a pleonastic entity. And (v) The nature of propositions, as pleonastic entities, is fully determined by the hypostatizing practices that are constitutive of the concept of a proposition together with those necessary a priori truths that are applicable to things of any kind. Schiffer's idea is thus that propositions are entities, but that they are entities of a particularly insubstantial kind, as they have no hidden nature waiting to be discovered by.. (shrink)
Tony Smith Philosophy, Iowa State University Robert Brenner‟s recent monograph on the economics of global turbulence has renewed interest in one of the most important topics in Marxian thought, the theory of crisis tendencies in capitalism.1 In their introduction to Brenner‟s monograph the editors of The New Left Review praise him as a worthy successor to Marx in the strongest possible terms. In the eyes of a number of critics, however, Brenner is guilty of a major betrayal of Marx‟s legacy. (...) In Michael Lebowitz‟s view, for instance, Brenner should now be seen as a disciple of Adam Smith, not Karl Marx, while Fine, Lapavitsas, and Milonakis refer to Brenner‟s position as “a distinctly non-Marxist perspective.”. (shrink)
Holton, we acknowledge, has given a good counter-example to a theory, and that theory is interesting and worth refuting. The theory we have in mind is like Smith's, but is more reductionist in spirit. It is a theory that ties value to Reason and to processes of reasoning, or inference - not to the recognition of reasons and acting on reasons. Such a theory overestimates the importance of logic, truth, inference, and thinking things through for yourself independently of any ideas (...) about where you might end up. Now it might well be thought that any Kantian theory of value would need to be tied to just such a conception of Reason. But while the theory behind The Moral Problem is Kantian in some very salient respects, the survival of Smith's analysis of value in the face of Holton's argument is very instructive. It teaches us a memorable moral: that a Kantian theory like Smith' s does not need to be tied - even loosely - to an overly intellectualised, logocentric conception of Reason. (shrink)
Abstract Michael Sandel's Democracy's Discontent traces America's woes to an erosion of community and a loss of a sense of collective self?governance. He recommends a more communitarian, republican public philosophy as the cure. His book illuminates many important historical and contemporary issues, particularly the link between systems of political economy and visions of citizenship. His methods are, however, too impressionistic to support his empirical claims. He particularly neglects the role of civic republicanism in America's history of racial, (...) gender, and religious discrimination. Hence his call for Americans to minimize liberal doctrines of individual rights in favor of communally minded republicanism is not fully persuasive. (shrink)
Toward a Postmodernist View of Conflict of Interest Content Type Journal Article Category Case Studies Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11673-012-9359-x Authors Elise Smith, Doctorat en sciences humaines appliquées, option bioéthique, Programmes de bioéthique, Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7 Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529.
The normative foundations of the environmental movement can be thought of in a range of different ways. The present paper is a commentary on very interesting papers by Thomas Dunlap, Thomas Hill and Kimberly Smith, who take up the spiritual, ethical and political perspectives respectively. Their accounts are described and evaluated.
Contents include Language as a Means of Mental Culture and International Communication (1853; 2 vols) by Claude Marcel; The Mastery of Languages, or the Art of Speaking Foreign Tongues Idiomatically (1864) by Thomas Prendergast; Introduction to the Teaching of Living Languages without Grammar or Dictionary (1874) by Lambert Sauveur; and The Art of Teaching and Studying Languages (1880; English translation 1892) by Francois Goiun.
In On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that facts about reasons for action are grounded in facts about values and against the view that they are grounded in facts about the desires that subjects would have after fully informed and rational deliberation. I describe and evaluate Parfit's arguments for this value-based conception of reasons for action and find them wanting. I also assess his response to Sidgwick's suggestion that there is a Dualism of Practical Reason. Parfit seems not to notice (...) that his preferred value-based conception of reasons for action augurs strongly in favour of a view like Sidgwick's. 1. (shrink)
Mackie's argument for the Error Theory is described. Four ways of responding to Mackie's argument—the Instrumental Approach, the Universalization Approach, the Reasons Approach, and the Constitutivist Approach—are outlined and evaluated. It emerges that though the Constitutivist Approach offers the most promising response to Mackie's argument, it is difficult to say whether that response is adequate or not.
The idea that there is such an analytic connection will hardly come as news. It amounts to no more and no less than an endorsement of the claim that all reasons are 'internal', as opposed to 'external', to use Bernard Williams's terms (Williams 1980). Or, to put things in the way Christine Korsgaard favours, it amounts to an endorsement of the 'internalism requirement' on reasons (Korsgaard 1986). But how exactly is the internalism requirement to be understood? What does it tell (...) us about the nature of reasons? And where-in lies its appeal? My aim in this paper is to answer these ques- tions. (shrink)
I take issue with two suggestions of Joel Feinberg's: first, that it is incoherent to suppose that human life as such is absurd, and, second, that a particular human life may be absurd and yet saved from being tragic by being fulfilled. I also argue that human life as such may well be absurd and I consider various responses to this.
Many claim that a plausible moral theory would have to include a principle of beneficence, a principle telling us to produce goods that are both welfarist and agent-neutral. But when we think carefully about the necessary connection between moral obligations and reasons for action, we see that agents have two reasons for action, and two moral obligations: they must not interfere with any agent's exercise of his rational capacities and they must do what they can to make sure that agents (...) have rational capacities to exercise. According to this distinctively deontological view of morality, though we are obliged to produce goods, the goods in question are non-welfarist and agent-relative. The value of welfare thus turns out to be, at best, instrumental. (shrink)
Three-dimensionalists , sometimes referred to as endurantists, think that objects persist through time by being “wholly present” at every time they exist. But what is it for something to be wholly present at a time? It is surprisingly difficult to say. The threedimensionalist is free, of course, to take ‘is wholly present at’ as one of her theory’s primitives, but this is problematic for at least one reason: some philosophers claim not to understand her primitive. Clearly the three-dimensionalist would be (...) better off if she could state her theory in terms accessible to all. We think she can. What is needed is a definition of ‘is wholly present at’ that all can understand. in this paper, we offer one. (shrink)
Much work in recent moral psychology attempts to spell out what it is for a desire to be an agent’s own, or, as it is often put, what it means for an agent to be identified with certain of her desires rather than others. The aim of such work varies. Some suggest that an account of what it is for a desire to be an agent’s own provides us with an account of what it is for an agent to value (...) something. Others suggest that an account of what it is for a desire to be an agent’s own tells us what it is for an agent to be free or autonomous. (shrink)
The requirements of instrumental rationality are often thought to be normative conditions on choice or intention, but this is a mistake. Instrumental rationality is best understood as a requirement of coherence on an agent's non-instrumental desires and means-end beliefs. Since only a subset of an agent's means-end beliefs concern possible actions, the connection with intention is thus more oblique. This requirement of coherence can be satisfied either locally or more globally, it may be only one among a number of such (...) requirements on an agent's total set of desires and beliefs, and it has no special connection with reasoning. An appreciation of these facts leads to a better understanding of both the nature and the significance of instrumental rationality. (shrink)
Granted that desire is always present in the genesis of human action, is it something on the presence of which the agent always reflects? I may act on a belief without coming to recognize that I have the belief. Can I act on a desire without recognizing that I have the desire? In particular, can the desire have a motivational presence in my decision making, figuring in the background, as it were, without appearing in the content of my deliberation, in (...) the foreground? We argue, perhaps unsurprisingly, that yes, desire can figure in the background without figuring in the foreground: we call this the strict background view of desire. But we then show, and this is where the surprise comes, that the strict background view of desire has significant implications for contemporary moral philosophy. (shrink)
Imagine that Bloggs is faced with a choice between giving a benefit to his child, or a slightly greater benefit to a complete stranger. The benefit is whatever the child or the stranger can buy for $100 — Bloggs has $100 to give away — and it just so happens that the stranger would buy something from which he would gain a slightly greater benefit than would Bloggs's child. Let's stipulate that Bloggs believes this to be, and let's stipulate, as (...) well, that he believes that the consequences of his actions are otherwise identical. He chooses to give the benefit to his child. What do we learn about Bloggs from his choice? We learn that Bloggs cares more about his child than he does about complete strangers. Nor is anyone likely to be surprised by this, for it just goes to show that he is much like the rest of us. He gives preferential treatment to his nearest and dearest when he acts, those with whom he has a special relationship, much as we do. (shrink)