C. Stephen Evans explains and defends Kierkegaard's account of moral obligations as rooted in God's commands, the fundamental command being `You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. The work will be of interest not only to those interested in Kierkegaard, but also to those interested in the relation between ethics and religion, especially questions about whether morality can or must have a religious foundation. As well as providing a comprehensive reading of Kierkegaard as an ethical thinker, Evans (...) puts him into conversation with contemporary moral theorists. Kierkegaard's divine command theory is shown to be an account that safeguards human flourishing, as well as protecting the proper relations between religion and state in a pluralistic society. (shrink)
It often seems obvious to us that our pleasures can justify our actions. If I ask you why you’re reading right now instead of dancing, and if your answer is that reading, unlike dancing, is just something you like to do, then (all else equal) your answer seems perfectly sufficient. To demand that you specify some further end you have in enjoying yourself would seem unreasonable if not bizarre. As Elizabeth Anscombe observes, “‘It’s pleasant’ is an adequate answer to ‘What’s (...) the good of it?’ or ‘What do you want that for?’ I.e. the chain of ‘Why’s’ comes to an end with this answer.” (Anscombe 1957/1999, 77) And from this observation alone it is natural to infer—as Plato’s Academic colleague Eudoxus apparently does—that your taking pleasure in something gives you a special, non-derivative reason to pursue that thing. Consider the following argument, attributed by Aristotle to Eudoxus in book X of the Nicomachean Ethics. (shrink)
Twilight of the Idols was the second to last book Nietzsche finished for publication. It was written in three to four months and after some editorial changes the manuscript was sent to the printer in October 1888, and published in January 1889. Nietzsche does not mince words regarding the aim of the book. In the Foreword to the text he claims that it is a "grand declaration of war," not on the idols of the age, but "eternal idols," those he (...) considers to be "the most believed in."1 In Nietzsche's view, there are "more idols in the world than there are realities" and he wants to "sound out idols" as much with a hammer "as with a tuning fork" so that their harmful influence may be avoided in the future. The most .. (shrink)
Most people think that it is possible, if not common, for us to do things that we know are better left undone. But in a famous passage of Plato’s Protagoras (351b-358e) Socrates argues otherwise. His conclusion, roughly put, is that we are capable of acting incorrectly only if (and only when) we fail to recognize that we are acting incorrectly. If he is right about this, then we could never do anything we knew was better left undone, since our having (...) this knowledge would always be sufficient to prevent us from making any such practical mistakes. So either most people are wrong about the power of knowledge over action, or the argument Socrates gives us in the Protagoras — which I will call the Knowledge Argument — is unsound. (shrink)
Many people view humor and a serious religious life as antithetical. This paper attempts to elucidate Kierkegaard’s view of humor, and thereby to explain his claims that humor is essentially linked to a religious life, and that the capacity for humor resides in a deep structure of human existence. A distinction is drawn between humor as a general element in life, and a special sense of humor as a “boundary zone” of the religious life. The latter kind of “humorist” embodies (...) a religious perspective which is not Christian, but is closely related to Christianity. Humor itself is a fundamental aspect of Christian faith. (shrink)
Dienes' & Perner's proposals are discussed in relation to the distinction between explicit and implicit systems of thinking. Evans and Over (1996) propose that explicit processing resources are required for hypothetical thinking, in which mental models of possible world states are constructed. Such thinking requires representations in which the individuals' propositional attitudes including relevant beliefs and goals are made fully explicit.
Kant's short essay is a reflection on the contemporary structure of academic studies; he examines this structure in terms of the functions of the State and of the Universities which form part of it. His analysis links the empirical facts with conceptual distinctions, in ways that are familiar from his more general and abstract philosophy. His main aim is to ground a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate ways in which different Faculties of the University may approach intellectual issues that are (...) of common interest to them. I then consider to what extent and how a Kantian analysis might be applied to our contemporary University situation. Despite the societal and intellectual differences between Kant's environment and ours, I argue that significant parallels exist between the two cases and that Kant's proposals and strictures for his own time have application for us today. (shrink)
Kant’s moral philosophy is celebrated for its doctrines of the primacy of the good will, the categorical imperative, and the significance of autonomy. These themes are pursued in the section of the Critique of Practical Reason which Kant called the Analytic, as well as in less formal works such as The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. In his main work Kant added a Dialectic, which is less well studied but is still essential to understanding his whole project. The concept (...) of the Highest Good, summum bonum, the ultimate goal in life, incorporates both an objective and a subjective element. It pronounces on what we ought to want and how we ought to want it: it bears on our happiness and on our virtue. The aim in the Dialectic is to highlight the tension that can result from these twoelements, so that the need for a rapprochement between them becomes better appreciated. This tension remains in contemporary moral philosophy, with its diverse approaches of virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism. Kant’s stance regarding this dialectical tension needs to be understood, by Kant scholars and by moral philosophers. (shrink)
: What is truly beautiful? For Søren Kierkegaard the beautiful is to be found in an integrated self, one that is freely chosen. This article explores Kierkegaard's "aesthetic" stage of existence through the character of Augusto Pérez, the protagonist of Miguel de Unamuno's novel, Niebla. After establishing a solid link between Unamuno and Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard's "ethical" stage is used to critique the "aesthetic" stage on aesthetic grounds, on the basis of the beauty found in life's work, a calling. The conclusion (...) is that the sphere of the "aesthetic" does not achieve Kierkegaard's "aesthetics" of an integrated, fully existing self. (shrink)
Rousseau's political thought has been accredited with major influence upon subsequent radical democratic thinking, but in fact its contradictions and obscurities render the real import of its legacy deeply ambiguous. This article aims to identify its central message through clarification of the Social Contract's presuppositions and prescriptions, interpreted in the light of his other writings. Although the modernity of his thought is evident in the priority he gives to individual freedom, Rousseau's disturbing novelty lies in his belief that this can (...) only be reconciled with the interests of political community when people are, by contemporary standards, severely underdeveloped in their individuality. For him, modern socialization irreversibly blocks this reconciliation and compounds the oppression of individuals by distorting their authentic identities. Thus, Rousseau ought to be seen as offering nothing but a critique of any aspiration to salvage genuine liberty in society now. The article urges a redefinition of his contribution to political thought and depicts him as an early articulator of powerful challenges to the main aims of contractarian and democratic theory, which the latter is still unwisely apt to ignore. (shrink)
Medicine, as Byron Good argues, reconstitutes thehuman body of our daily experience as a medical body,unfamiliar outside medicine. This reconstitution can be seen intwo ways: (i) as a salutary reminder of the extent to which thereality even of the human body is constructed; and (ii) as anarena for what Stephen Toulmin distinguishes as theintersection of natural science and history, in which many ofphilosophy''s traditional (and traditionally abstract) questionsare given concrete and urgent form.This paper begins by examining a number of dualities (...) between themedical body and the body familiar in daily experience. Toulmin''s epistemological analysis of clinical medicine ascombining both universal and existential knowledge is thenconsidered. Their expression, in terms of attention,respectively, to natural science and to personal history, isexplored through the epistemological contrasts between themedical body and the familiar body, noting the traditionalphilosophical questions which they in turn illustrate. (shrink)
Was love invented by European poets in the middle ages, as C. S. Lewis claimed, or is it part of human nature? Will winning the lottery really make you happy? Is it possible to build robots that have feelings? These are just some of the intriguing questions explored in this new guide to the latest thinking about the emotions. Drawing on a wide range of scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (...) takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart. Illustrating his points with entertaining examples from fiction, film, and popular culture, Dylan Evans ranges from the evolution of the emotions to the nature of love and happiness to the language of feelings, offering readers the most recent thinking on real life topics that touch us all. But Emotion is also a book filled with surprises. Readers will discover, for instance, that the basic emotions are felt the world over--whether we live in the shadow of Times Square or in the depths of the rain forest, we all feel the emotions of disgust, joy, surprise, anger, fear, and distress. We find out that, according to research, winning the lottery does not cause a lasting increase in happiness--a short-lived euphoria is followed in almost every case with a return to our usual emotional state, if not worse. And we meet Kismet, an MIT robot that can express a wide range of emotions, from fear to happiness. Fun to read and based on the latest scientific thinking, here is a stimulating look at our emotions. (shrink)
The ability to reason independently from one's own goals or beliefs has long been recognised as a key characteristic of the development of formal operational thought. In this article we present the results of a study that examined the correlates of this ability in a group of 10-year-old children ( N = 61). Participants were presented with conditional and relational reasoning items, where the content was manipulated such that the conclusion to the arguments were either congruent, neutral, or incongruent with (...) beliefs, and either logically valid or logically invalid. Participants also received a measure of working memory capacity (the counting span task) and a measure of inhibitory control (the stop signal task). Indices of belief bias and logical reasoning on belief-based problems were predicted independently by both measures. In contrast logical reasoning on belief neutral problems was predicted by working memory alone. The findings suggest that executive functions play a key role in the development of children's ability to decontextualise their thinking. (shrink)
: Like the goddess Demeter, Diotima from Mantineia, the prophetess who teaches Socrates about eros and the "rites of love" in Plato's Symposium, was a mystagogue who initiated individuals into her mysteries, mediating to humans esoteric knowledge of the divine. The dialogue, including Diotima's speech, contains religious and mystical language, some of which specifically evokes the female-centered yearly celebrations of Demeter at Eleusis. In this essay, I contextualize the worship of Demeter within the larger system of classical Athenian practices, and (...) propose that Plato borrowed Eleusinian language because it criticized conventional notions of the divine, thereby allowing him to reimagine the possibilities for the philosophical process among humans. (shrink)
Like the goddess Demeter, Diotima from Mantineia, the prophetess who teaches Socrates about eros and the "rites of love" in Plato's Symposium, was a mystagogue who initiated individuals into her mysteries, mediating to humans esoteric knowledge of the divine. The dialogue, including Diotima's speech, contains religious and mystical language, some of which specifically evokes the female-centered yearly celebrations of Demeter at Eleusis. In this essay, I contextualize the worship of Demeter within the larger system of classical Athenian practices, and propose (...) that Plato borrowed Eleusinian language because it criticized conventional notions of the divine, thereby allowing him to reimagine the possibilities for the philosophical process among humans. (shrink)
Dirac's equation is reviewed and found to be based on nonrelativistic ideas of probability. A 4-space formulation is proposed that is completely Lorentzinvariant, using probability distributions in space-time with the particle's proper time as a parameter for the evolution of the wave function. This leads to a new wave equation which implies that the proper mass of a particle is an observable, and is sharp only in stationary states. The model has a built-in arrow of time, which is associated with (...) a restriction to positive-energy solutions. The usual solution for a Coulomb field is retained, though it now implies a slightly different charge distribution. The conventional nonstationary solutions become invalid. The new formulation appears to offer a resolution of difficulties that have been associated with Dirac's equation. It also predicts the occurrence of virtual pairs at a level that may be experimentally testable, and suggests a mechanism for self-cancellation of the vacuum energy. (shrink)
The UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) introduced a specific policy and procedure for inquiring into allegations of scientific misconduct in December 1997; previously cases had been considered under normal disciplinary procedures. The policy formally covers staff employed in MRC units, but those in receipt of MRC grants in universities and elsewhere are expected to operate under similar policies. The MRC’s approach is stepwise: preliminary action; assessment to establish prima facie evidence of misconduct; formal investigation; sanctions; and appeal. Strict time limits (...) apply at all stages. The procedure will be evaluated after two years. The indications so far are that the procedure is robust, and its clarity and transparency have been an asset to all parties. The MRC is also convinced that it is equally important to achieve a working culture that fosters integrity. Thus education and training in good research practices are fundamental to the prevention of research misconduct. (shrink)
Turning Images in Philosophy, Science, and Religion: A New Book of Nature brings together new essays addressing the role of images and imagination recruited in the perennial debates surrounding nature, mind, and God. -/- The debate between "new atheists" and religious apologists today is often hostile. This book sets a new tone by locating the debate between theism and naturalism (most "new atheists" are self-described "naturalists") in the broader context of reflection on imagination and aesthetics. The eleven essays will be (...) of interest to anyone who is fascinated by the power of imagination and the role of aesthetics in deciding between worldviews or philosophies of nature. Representing a variety of points of view, authors include outstanding philosophers of religion and of science, a distinguished art historian, and a visual artist. -/- The book begins with Martin Kemp's essay on the work of the biologist, mathematician and classical scholar D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson in which Kemp develops the idea of "structural intuitions and a critique of reductive thinking about the natural world. This is followed by Geoffrey Gorham's overview and analysis of images of nature and God found in early modern science and philosophy. Anthony O'Hear questions a reductive, naturalist account of the origin of mind and values. Dale Jacquette offers a thoroughgoing naturalistic philosophy of the emergence of intentionality and a unique argument about the emergence of art and the aesthetic appreciation of nature. E.J. Lowe brings to light some challenges facing naturalistic approaches to human imaginative sensibility. Douglas Hedley articulates and defends a cognitive account of imagination, highlighting some of the difficulties confronting naturalism. Daniel N. Robinson offers a sweeping treatment of nature and naturalism, historically engaging Aristotle, Kant, Hegel and others. Conor Cunningham provides an aggressive critique of contemporary naturalism. Gordon Graham investigates the resources of naturalism in accounting for our sense of the sacred. Mark Wynn provides a subtle understanding of imagination and perception, suggesting how these may play into the theism - naturalism debate. The book concludes with Jil Evans' reflections on how images of the Galapagos Islands have been employed philosophically to picture either a naturalist or theistic image of nature. (shrink)
The central role played by Darwin's analogy between selection under domestication and that under nature has been adequately appreciated, but I have indicated how important the domesticated organisms also were to other elements of Darwin's theory of evolution-his recognition of “the constant principle of change,” for instance, of the imperfection of adaptation, and of the extent of variation in nature. The further development of his theory and its presentation to the public likewise hinged on frequent reference to domesticates.We have seen (...) that Darwin's reliance on the analogy between domesticated varieties and wild species was a bold and original step, in light of contemporary views on the nature of domesticates. However, as Darwin undoubtedly foresaw, his reliance on the analogy created difficulties as well as solving problems, and these began with his Malthusian codiscoverer of the principle of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace's paper “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type,” presented to the Linnean Scoiety along with the first public unveiling of Darwin's theory, states: We see, then, that no inferences as to varieties in a state of nature can be deduced from the observation of those occurring among domestic animals. The two are so much opposed to each other in every circumstance of their existence, that what applies to the one is almost sure not to apply to the other. Domestic animals are abnormal, irregular, artificial; they are subject to varieties which never occur and never can occur in a state of nature.62Much has been made of the similarity of views of Darwin and Wallace, but this quotation surely reveals how utterly different their views were on what to Darwin was an important matter. Several critics of the Origin saw Darwin's reliance on the domesticates as his Achilles heel. As Young has pointed out, Samuel Wilberforce included the following passage in his attack on the Origin: Nor must we pass over unnoticed the transference of the argument from the domesticated to the untamed animals. Assuming that man as the selector can do much in a limited time, Mr. Darwin argues that Nature, a more powerful, a more continuous power, working over vastly extended ranges of time, can do more. But why should Nature, so uniform and persistent in all her operations, tend in this instance to change? Why should she become a selector of varieties?63Another critic, Fleeming Jenkin, found the analogy a weakness in Darwin's theory because of the limited extent of variation in any one direction in domestic animals and plants.64 We have already seen that Darwin had confided a similar view to his notebook thirty years earlier, but changed his mind as a result of his profound study of domesticates. De Beer's reference to “an English country gentleman's knowledge of domestic plants and animals and their breeding”65 fails totally to recognize the originality and depth of Darwin's knowledge of domesticates.Why did Darwin, against the currents of his time, rely so heavily on mankind's experience with domesticated organisms to shape his theory about species in nature? On reason is that only with domesticates was an approach that came close to experimental verification possible. Darwin fully realized the inadequacies of the experiment, as is emphasized by his repeated contrasting of selection under nature and selection by man. Yet the extensive experience and data of plant and animal breeders offered the only reliable base against which Darwin could continually challenge his views. As he wrote in the introduction to Variation, with domestication, “man ... may be said to have been trying an experiment on a gigantic scale.”66 Given Darwin's high opinion of the quantitative work of Malthus and Quetelet (as emphasized by Schweber),67 and his unremitting efforts to secure data by which to test his theories, it was inevitable that he should attach high significance to domesticated varieties. John Tyndall, in his Belfast address of 1874, said: “The strength of the doctrine of Evolution consists, not in experimental demonstration (for the subject is hardly accessible to this mode of proof), but in its general harmony with scientific thought.”68 Darwin would have agreed with the latter thought, but I think he would have challenged the preceding one on the grounds that long experience with domesticated varieties did provide an element of experimental demonstration. It gave him confidence in his theory, and he used his vast knowledge of artificial selection boldly and creatively. (shrink)
This authoritative and lively exploration of the theories of contemporary feminism covers all the major variants of feminist political thought from the "traditional" schools of the women's movement-particularly radical, liberal, and socialist-to today's postmodern texts. Feminist Theory Today examines the epistemological challenge from critical legal theory and postmodernist thought; the divergences within, as well as between, feminist schools; and the protests from women marginalized by the feminist movement, including those who are lesbian and those who are black. It also interrogates (...) the dialectic equality and difference and reconceptualizes this pervasive tenet of feminist thought. Author Judith Evans documents the changes in socialist feminism from its revolutionary origins to its current focus on modifying liberal democratic forms. Students and teachers of women's studies, sociology, and political theory will find this an authoritative and lively exploration of the theories of contemporary feminism. It is also essential reading for anyone seeking to understand why the women's movement is as it is today. (shrink)
A 4-space formulation of Dirac's equation gives results formally identical to those of the usual Klein paradox. However, some extra physical detail can be inferred, and this suggests that the most extreme case involves pair production within the potential barrier.
In Taking Christian Moral Thought Seriously--the first book in the Christian Ethics series--editor Jeremy A. Evans establishes that the separation of church and state is not a principle of the U.S. Constitution (or any other founding ...
Recently, several articles in the scholarly literature on medical ethics proclaim the need for “responsible scholarship” in the debate over the proper criteria for death, in which “responsible scholarship” is defined in terms of support for current neurological criteria for death. In a recent article, James M. DuBois is concerned that academic critiques of current death criteria create unnecessary doubt about the moral acceptability of organ donation, which may affect the public’s willingness to donate. Thus he calls for a closing (...) of the debate on current death criteria and for journal editors to publish only critiques that “substantially engage and advance the debate.” We argue that such positions as DuBois’ are a threat to responsible scholarship in medical ethics, especially scholarship that opposes popular stances, because it erodes academic freedom and the necessity of debate on an issue that is literally a matter of life and death, no matter what side a person defends. (shrink)
Using data on the ‘career’ paths of one thousand ‘leading scientists’ from 1450 to 1900, what is conventionally called the ‘rise of modern science’ is mapped as a changing geography of scientific practice in urban networks. Four distinctive networks of scientific practice are identified. A primate network centred on Padua and central and northern Italy in the sixteenth century expands across the Alps to become a polycentric network in the seventeenth century, which in turn dissipates into a weak polycentric network (...) in the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century marks a huge change of scale as a primate network centred on Berlin and dominated by German-speaking universities. These geographies are interpreted as core-producing processes in Wallerstein’s modern world-system; the rise of modern scientific practice is central to the development of structures of knowledge that relate to, but do not mirror, material changes in the system. (shrink)
Bayesians take “definite” or “single-case” probabilities to be basic. Definite probabilities attach to closed formulas or propositions. We write them here using small caps: PROB(P) and PROB(P/Q). Most objective probability theories begin instead with “indefinite” or “general” probabilities (sometimes called “statistical probabilities”). Indefinite probabilities attach to open formulas or propositions. We write indefinite probabilities using lower case “prob” and free variables: prob(Bx/Ax). The indefinite probability of an A being a B is not about any particular A, but rather about the (...) property of being an A. In this respect, its logical form is the same as that of relative frequencies. For instance, we might talk about the probability of a human baby being female. That probability is about human babies in general — not about individuals. If we examine a baby and determine conclusively that she is female, then the definite probability of her being female is 1, but that does not alter the indefinite probability of human babies in general being female. Most objective approaches to probability tie probabilities to relative frequencies in some way, and the resulting probabilities have the same logical form as the relative frequencies. That is, they are indefinite probabilities. The simplest theories identify indefinite probabilities with relative frequencies.3 It is often objected that such “finite frequency theories” are inadequate because our probability judgments often diverge from relative frequencies. For example, we can talk about a coin being fair (and so the indefinite probability of a flip landing heads is 0.5) even when it is flipped only once and then destroyed (in which case the relative frequency is either 1 or 0). For understanding such indefinite probabilities, it has been suggested that we need a notion of probability that talks about possible instances of properties as well as actual instances.. (shrink)
In the Philebus Plato argues that every rational human being, given the choice, will prefer a life that is moderately thoughtful and moderately pleasant to a life that is utterly thoughtless or utterly pleasureless. This is true, he thinks, even if the thoughtless life at issue is intensely pleasant and the pleasureless life at issue is intensely thoughtful. Evidently Plato wants this argument to show that neither pleasure nor thought, taken by itself, is sufficient to make a life choiceworthy for (...) us. But there is some disagreement among commentators about whether or not he also wants the argument to show why. Is the argument designed to establish that we should reject thoughtless and pleasureless lives because some pleasures and some thoughts are goods? Or is it silent on this issue? Many interpreters take the first option, claiming that Plato uses the argument to attack both the hedonist view that only pleasures are goods and the intellectualist view that only thoughts are goods. My aim in this paper is to show that the second option is at least as attractive as the first, both exegetically and philosophically. (shrink)
Jonathan Schaffer (2010) has summoned a new sort of demon – which he calls the debasing demon – that apparently threatens all of our purported knowledge. We show that any debasing skeptical argument must attack the justification condition and can do so only if a plausible thesis about justification is false.