Haack, S. Is truth flat or bumpy?--Chihara, C. S. Ramsey's theory of types.--Loar, B. Ramsey's theory of belief and truth.--Skorupski, J. Ramsey on Belief.--Hookway, C. Inference, partial belief, and psychological laws.--Skyrms, B. Higher order degrees of belief.--Mellor, D. H. Consciousness and degrees of belief.--Blackburn, S. Opinions and chances.--Grandy, R. E. Ramsey, reliability, and knowledge.--Cohen, L. J. The problem of natural laws.--Giedymin, J. Hamilton's method in geometrical optics and Ramsey's view of theories.
Mr Burston's introduction relates the two pieces to Mill's general intellectual and philosophical position, and to the historical context in which he wrote. Notes explain allusions in the text, and there is a bibliography.
Bentham.--Coleridge.--M. de Tocqueville on democracy in America.--On liberty.--Utilitarianism.--From Considerations on representative government.--From An examination of Sir William Hamilton's philosophy, volume 1.--From Three essays on religion.--John Stuart Mill, a select bibliography (p. -530).
Standard objections to the notion of a hedged, or ceteris paribus, law of nature usually boil down to the claim that such laws would be either 1) irredeemably vague, 2) untestable, 3) vacuous, 4) false, or a combination thereof. Using epidemiological studies in nutrition science as an example, I show that this is not true of the hedged law-like generalizations derived from data models used to interpret large and varied sets of empirical observations. Although it may be ‘in principle impossible’ (...) to construct models that explicitly identify all potential causal interferers with the relevant generalization, the view that our failure to do so is fatal to the very notion of a cp-law is plausible only if one illicitly infers metaphysical impossibility from epistemic impossibility. I close with the suggestion that a model-theoretic approach to cp-laws poses a problem for recent attempts to formulate a Mill-Ramsey-Lewis theory of cp-laws. (shrink)
The Oxford Philosophical Texts series consists of authoritative teaching editions of canonical texts in the history of philosophy from the ancient world down to modern times. Each volume provides a clear, well laid out text together with a comprehensive introduction by a leading specialist, providing the student with detailed critical guidance on the intellectual context of the work and the structure and philosophical importance of the main arguments. Endnotes are supplied which provide further commentary on the arguments and explain unfamiliar (...) references and terminology, and a full bibliography and index are also included. The series aims to build up a definitive corpus of key texts in the Western philosophical tradition, which will form a reliable and enduring resource for students and teachers alike. John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important, controversial, and suggestive works of moral philosophy ever written. Mill defends the view that all human action should produce the greatest happiness overall, and that happiness itself is to be understood as consisting in higher and lower pleasures. This volume uses the 1871 edition of the text, the last to be published in Mill's lifetime. The text is preceded by a comprehensive introduction assessing Mill's philosophy and the alternatives to utilitarianism, and discussing some of the specific issues Mill raises in Utilitarianism. This volume also includes an analysis of the text, substantial endnotes, suggestions for further reading, and a full bibliography. (shrink)
In “Connectionism and the fats of folk psychology”, Forster and Saidel argue that the central claim of Ramsey, Stich and Garon (1991)—that distributed connectionist models are incompatible with the causal discreteness of folk psychology—is mistaken. To establish their claim, they offer an intriguing model which allegedly shows how distributed representations can function in a causally discrete manner. They also challenge our position regarding projectibility of folk psychology. In this essay, I offer a response to their account and show how their (...) model fails to demonstrate that our original argument was mistaken. While I will discuss several difficulties with their model, my primary criticism will be that the features of their model that are causally discrete are not truly distributed, while the features that are distributed are not really discrete. Concerning the issue of projectibility, I am more inclined to agree with Forster and Saidel and I offer a revised account of what we should have said originally. (shrink)
Ramsey presents a new analysis and interpretation of the religious views of the nineteenth-century American philosopher William James. He argues that James was primarily motivated by religious concerns in his writings and that this fact has been obscured by the artificial scholarly division of his "philosophy," "psychology," and "religion"-- a symptom of the professionalization which James himself strenuously resisted in his own time.
James Mill (1773-1836) is today best known as Jeremy Bentham's chief disciple and John Stuart Mill's father. Yet Mill himself was a formidable and important Utilitarian thinker in his own right, who earned the respect of even those who disagreed with him. His range was enormous (historian, political philosopher, psychologist, educational theorist, and economist), repeatedly crossing the disciplinary boundaries we take for granted today. This volume presents a wide sampling of Mill's political writings and polemical essays. It begins with his (...) classic work, the Essay on Government, it also includes pieces on the protection of rights, the importance of education, the free press, the secret ballot, and government's use of punishment against those who violate the rights of fellow citizens. The collection concludes with Macauley's famous critique of the Essay, and Mill's heretofore unnoticed reply in his Fragment on Mackintosh (1835). This is the first time that such a selection of Mill's political works has appeared as one volume. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey was the greatest of the remarkable generation of Cambridge philosophers and logicians which included G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Maynard Keynes. Before his tragically early death in 1930 at the age of twenty-six, he had done seminal work in mathematics and economics as well as in logic and philosophy. This volume, with a new and extensive introduction by D. H. Mellor, contains all Ramsey's previously published writings on philosophy and the foundations of mathematics. The latter (...) gives the definitive form and defence of the reduction of mathematics to logic undertaken in Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica; the former includes the most profound and original studies of universals, truth, meaning, probability, knowledge, law and causation, all of which are still constantly referred to, and still essential reading for all serious students of these subjects. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine how philosophers before and after G. E. Moore understood intrinsic value. The main idea I wish to bring out and defend is that Moore was insufficiently attentive to how distinctive his conception of intrinsic value was, as compared with those of the writers he discussed, and that such inattentiveness skewed his understanding of the positions of others that he discussed and dismissed. My way into this issue is by examining the charge of inconsistency that Moore (...) levels at the qualitative hedonism outlined by J. S. Mill in Utilitarianism. Along the way I suggest that there are a number of ways in which Moore was unfair in rejecting qualitative hedonism as inconsistent. I close by relating the issues that arise in discussion of Moore to contemporary debates on value and reasons. (shrink)
Critics have charged that John Stuart Mill''s discussion as of paternalism in On Liberty is internally inconsistent, noting, for example, the numerous instances in which Mill explicitly endorses examples of paternalistic coercion. Similarly, commentators have noted an apparent contradiction between Mill''s political liberalism – according to which the state should be neutral among competing conceptions of the good – and Mill''s condemnation of non-autonomous ways of life, such as that of a servile wife. More generally, critics have argued that while (...) Mill professes an allegiance to utilitarianism, he actually abandons it in favor of a view that values personal autonomy as the greatest intrinsic good. This paper presents an interpretation of Mill that provides a viable and consistent treatment of paternalism, thereby refuting each of the aforementioned critiques. Mill''s views, it argues, are consistently utilitarian. Moreover, the interpretation accounts for all of Mill''s departures from his otherwise blanket prohibition of paternalistic legislation. In particular, it explains his most notorious example, the condemnation of voluntary contracts for slavery. The interpretation emphasizes Mill''s conceptual linkage between autonomy and utility, noting his implicit use of at least three different senses of the notion of autonomy. (shrink)
Leibniz's mill argument in 'Monadology' 17 is a well-known but puzzling argument against materialism about the mind. I approach the mill argument by considering other places where Leibniz gave similar arguments, using the same example of the machinery of a mill and reaching the same anti-materialist conclusion. In a 1702 letter to Bayle, Leibniz gave a mill argument that moves from his definition of perception (as the expression of a multitude by a simple) to the anti-materialist conclusion. Soon afterwards, in (...) the Preface to the New Essays, Leibniz gave a different mill argument. That argument depends upon there being no arbitrary and inexplicable connections in nature, because God would not create such things. Later, in the 'Monadology', Leibniz again used the mill example in arguing against materialism. That passage too, I argue, uses an argument from inexplicability rather than from Leibniz's definition of perception. (shrink)
I argue that Mill introduced the distinction between quality and quantity of pleasures in order to fend off the then common charge that utilitarianism is ‘a philosophy for swine’ and to accommodate the (still) widespread intuition that the life of a human is better, in the sense of being intrinsically more valuable, than the life of an animal. I argue that in this he fails because in order to do successfully he would have to show not only that the life (...) of a human is preferable to that of an animal on hedonistic grounds, but also that it is in some sense nobler or more dignified to be a human, which he cannot do without tacitly presupposing non-hedonistic standards of what it means to lead a good life. (shrink)
In On Liberty, Mill famously propounded a view of the good life as the autonomous life. On this view, it is crucial that people develop and exercise, to a high degree, their ability to reason independently about what to believe and what to aim at in life. It is also important that they be able to freely hold and express their beliefs and effectively act on their aims. As Mill put it: The mental and the moral, like the muscular, powers (...) are improved only by being used. ... He who lets the world ... choose his plan of life for him has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his plan of life for himself ... must use observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, activity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold his deliberate decision. And these qualities he requires and exercises exactly in proportion as the part of his conduct which he determines according to his own judgment and feelings.... It is possible that he may be guided in some good path ... without any of these things. But what will be his comparative worth as a human being? (p. 56). Two of Mill’s arguments for familiar liberal rights—which include children’s right to a decent education, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom of association— appeal to this ideal of autonomy. First, these rights are generally crucial for establishing the conditions under which people can freely make up their own minds about what to believe and how to live, and to act accordingly. Second, a society that respected these rights would, Mill thought, be more likely to have a vibrant public culture, in which divergent opinions and lifestyles lead to a ‘generally high scale of mental activity’, which together ‘raise even persons of the most ordinary intellect to something of the dignity of thinking beings’ (p. 33). (shrink)
I argue for a perfectionist reading of Mill’s account of the good life, by using the failures of development recorded in his Autobiography as a way to understand his official account of happiness in Utilitarianism. This work offers both a new perspective on Mill’s thought, and a distinctive account of the role of aesthetic and emotional capacities in the most choiceworthy human life. I consider the philosophical purposes of autobiography, Mill’s disagreements with Bentham, and the nature of competent judges and (...) the pleasure they take in higher culture. I conclude that Millian perfectionism is an attractive and underappreciated option for contemporary value theory. (shrink)
We investigate a variant of the variable convention proposed at Tractatus 5.53ff for the purpose of eliminating the identity sign from logical notation. The variant in question is what Hintikka has called the strongly exclusive interpretation of the variables, and turns out to be what Ramsey initially (and erroneously) took to be Wittgenstein's intended method. We provide a tableau calculus for this identity-free logic, together with soundness and completeness proofs, as well as a proof of mutual interpretability with first-order logic (...) with identity. (shrink)
The so called Ramsey test is a semantic recipe for determining whether a conditional proposition is acceptable in a given state of belief. Informally, it can be formulated as follows: (RT) Accept a proposition of the form "if A, then C" in a state of belief K, if and only if the minimal change of K needed to accept A also requires accepting C. In Gärdenfors (1986) it was shown that the Ramsey test is, in the context of some other (...) weak conditions, on pain of triviality incompatible with the following principle, which was there called the preservation criterion: (P) If a proposition B is accepted in a given state of belief K and the proposition A is consistent with the beliefs in K, then B is still accepted in the minimal change of K needed to accept A. (RT) provides a necessary and sufficient criterion for when a 'positive' conditional should be included in a belief state, but it does not say anything about when the negation of a conditional sentence should be accepted. A very natural candidate for this purpose is the following negative Ramsey test: (NRT) Accept the negation of a proposition of the form "if A, then C" in a consistent state of belief K, if and only if the minimal change of K needed to accept A does not require accepting C. This note shows that (NRT) leads to triviality results even in the absence of additional conditions like (P). (shrink)
The problem of computational complexity of semantics for some natural language constructions – considered in [M. Mostowski, D. Wojtyniak 2004] – motivates an interest in complexity of Ramsey quantifiers in finite models. In general a sentence with a Ramsey quantifier R of the following form Rx, yH(x, y) is interpreted as ∃A(A is big relatively to the universe ∧A2 ⊆ H). In the paper cited the problem of the complexity of the Hintikka sentence is reduced to the problem of computational (...) complexity of the Ramsey quantifier for which the phrase “A is big relatively to the universe” is interpreted as containing at least one representative of each equivalence class, for some given equvalence relation. In this work we consider quantifiers Rf, for which “A is big relatively to the universe” means “card(A) > f (n), where n is the size of the universe”. Following [Blass, Gurevich 1986] we call R mighty if Rx, yH(x, y) defines N P – complete class of finite models. Similarly we say that Rf is N P –hard if the corresponding class is N P –hard. We prove the following theorems. (shrink)
In this paper, I analyse a finding by Riggs and colleagues that there is a close connection between people’s ability to reason with counterfactual conditionals and their capacity to attribute false beliefs to others. The result indicates that both processes may be governed by one cognitive mechanism, though false belief attribution seems to be slightly more cognitively demanding. Given that the common denominator for both processes is suggested to be a form of the Ramsey test, I investigate whether Stalnaker’s semantic (...) theory of conditionals, which was inspired by the Ramsey test, may provide the basis for a psychologically plausible model of belief ascription. The analysis I propose will shed some new light on the developmental discrepancy between counterfactual reasoning and false belief ascription. (shrink)
This work is not a specific assessment of Utility of Religion by John Stuart Mill, but a defence of what I think is a utilitarian, but not millian, view on the problem that work states, the question of the utility of religion in contemporary societies. I construct that view from neohumeanism more than from millian positions, notwithstanding, I postulate that view as a genuine utilitarian one. -/- Every cultural tradition makes a different approach to ethical and political theories. Spanish and (...) Ibero-American utilitarians make precisely it with Classical Utilitarianism. -/- From that point of view, Ibero-American people identifies utilitarianism with radical and enlightened tradition linked with the reform that through XVIIIth and XIXth centuries tried to undermine the foundations of conservative society in our nations. -/- This aim was not achieved, at least not completely; because of that, the pursuit of Utilitarianism remains opened between us. In the end, I will argue that Spanish and Ibero-American utilitarians connect utilitarianism with philosophical and political radicalism, and inside that Hispanic utilitarianism, plays an important role the criticism of social and political functions of Religion. -/- Maybe, part of the future of Utilitarianism in our cultural context depends on a return of the Theory to its radical roots, also in religious subjects. (shrink)
According to the Ramsey Test, conditionals reflect changes of beliefs: α > β is accepted in a belief state iff β is accepted in the minimal revision of it that is necessary to accommodate α. Since Gärdenfors’s seminal paper of 1986, a series of impossibility theorems (“triviality theorems”) has seemed to show that the Ramsey test is not a viable analysis of conditionals if it is combined with AGM-type belief revision models. I argue that it is possible to endorse that (...) Ramsey test for conditionals while staying true to the spirit of AGM. A main focus lies on AGM’s condition of Preservation according to which the original belief set should be fully retained after a revision by information that is consistent with it. I use concrete representations of belief states and (iterated) revisions of belief states as semantic models for (nested) conditionals. Among the four most natural qualitative models for iterated belief change, two are identified that indeed allow us to combine the Ramsey test with Preservation in the language containing only flat conditionals of the form α > β. It is shown, however, that Preservation for this simple language enforces a violation of Preservation for nested conditionals of the form α > (β > γ). In such languages, no two belief sets are ordered by strict subset inclusion. I argue that it has been wrong right from the start to expect that Preservation holds in languages containing nested conditionals. (shrink)
This chapter addresses the question of what role Mill regards rules as playing in the determination of morally permissible action by drawing on his remarks about instrumentally rational action. First, overviews are provided of consequentialist theories and of the rule-worship or incoherence objection to rule-consequentialist theories. Then a summary is offered of the considerable textual evidence suggesting that Mill’s moral theory is, in fact, a rule-consequentialist one. It is argued, however, that passages in the final chapter of A System of (...) Logic suggest that Mill anticipates and endorses the ruleworship or incoherence objection to rule-consequentialist theories. The chapter concludes by exploring some ways in which this tension in Mill’s thought might be resolved. (shrink)
In her valuable book Hiding from humanity: Disgust, shame and the law, Nussbaum says that she reaches many of the same practical conclusions as Mill. But she argues that Mill’s conceptions of liberty, justice, and respect for rival ideas of the good and for religious belief, are defective, and further that they do not provide as adequate a basis for the form of political liberalism she recommends. Actually, the alleged defects in Mill rest largely on misrepresentations, but more importantly, once (...) one understands the central role of Mill’s account of justice in shaping his view of liberty and morality, it becomes clear that he offers a better response to cultural pluralism. His way of relating the morality and the aesthetics of conduct embodies a kind of respect for diversity both deeper and more realistic than that claimed for political liberalism. Mill brings a heritage from the Enlightenment in the light of which political liberalism looks like a failure of nerve. (shrink) -/- John Stuart Mill in 19th Century Philosophy Justice, Misc in Social and Political Philosophy. (shrink)
Recently, proponents of Humean Supervenience have challenged the plausibility of the intuition that the laws of nature 'govern', or guide, the evolution of events in the universe. Certain influential thought experiments authored by John Carroll, Michael Tooley, and others, rely strongly on such intuitions. These thought experiments are generally regarded as playing a central role in the lawhood debate, suggesting that the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis view of the laws of nature, and the related doctrine of the Humean Supervenience of laws, are false. (...) In this paper, I take on these recent challenges, arguing that the intuition that the laws govern should be taken seriously. Still, I find the recent discussions insightful, in certain ways. Employing some ideas from one of the critics (Barry Loewer), I draw some non-standard conclusions about the significance of the thought experiments to the lawhood debate. (shrink)
This essay argues, flouting paradox, that Mill was a utilitarian but not a consequentialist. First, it contends that there is logical space for a view that deserves to be called utilitarian despite its rejection of consequentialism; second, that this logical space is, in fact, occupied by John Stuart Mill. The key to understanding Mill's unorthodox utilitarianism and the role it plays in his moral philosophy is to appreciate his sentimentalist metaethics—especially his account of wrongness in terms of fitting guilt and (...) resentment. Mill recognizes a fundamental moral asymmetry between the agent and others, which conflicts intractably with a presupposition of consequentialism. This allows him to differentiate three potentially conflicting evaluative spheres: morality, prudence, and aesthetics. This essay's account of Mill's utilitarianism coheres with his defense of individual liberty and his embrace of supererogation, both of which elude traditional interpretations. (shrink)
In this paper I want to do two things. One concerns Mill’s attitude to public indecency. In On Liberty Mill expresses the conventional view that certain actions, if conducted in public, are an affront to good manners, and can properly be prohibited. I want to come to an understanding of Mill’s position so that it allows him to defend this part of conventional morality, but does not disrupt certain of his liberal convictions: principally the conviction that what consenting adults do (...) in private is no-one ‘s concern but their own. The difficulty is to find an argument that Mill could have used to defend the position that some things which, though acceptable in private, can rightly be stopped if attempted in public. The other thing I want to do is consider the impact of Mill’s view of indecency on the interpretation of the Liberty Principle. There remain difficulties here which, to my knowledge, have not been adequately explored. So I want to look at a range of interpretative alternatives. In the first part of the paper I shall raise and explore the issue of the interpretative problems. In the second part I shall look at some ways of trying to justify Mill’s view of indecency on characteristically Millian grounds. And in the final part I shall explore the somewhat surprising consequences of the discussion of the second part for the interpretative questions raised in the first. (shrink)
This paper is a reply to Jonathan Riley’s criticism of my reading of Mill (both published in the Philosophical Quarterly 2003). I show that Riley’s interpretation has no textual support in Mill’s writing by putting the supposedly supporting quotations in their proper context. Secondly it is demonstrated how my reading is not incompatible with hedonism. Mill’s use of the concepts of ‘quality’, ‘quantity’, and ‘pleasure’ are explained and illustrated. I conclude by considering whether the possible redundancy of Mill’s quality/quantity discussion (...) would be problematic. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey (1931) wrote: If two people are arguing 'if p will q?' and both are in doubt as to p, they are adding p hypothetically to their stock of knowledge and arguing on that basis about q. We can say that they are fixing their degrees of belief in q given p. Let us take the first sentence the way it is often taken, as proposing the following test for the acceptability of an indicative conditional: ‘If p then q’ (...) is acceptable to a subject S iff, were S to accept p and consider q, S would accept q. Now consider an indicative conditional of the form (1) If p, then I believe p. Suppose that you accept p and consider ‘I believe p’. To accept p while rejecting ‘I believe p’ is tantamount to accepting the Moore-paradoxical sentence ‘p and I do not believe p’, and so is irrational. To accept p while suspending judgment about ‘I believe p’ is irrational for similar reasons. So rationality requires that if you accept p and consider ‘I believe p’, you accept ‘I believe p’. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century. Its advocacy of utilitarianism--the view that individual and political action should be directed at the "greatest happiness"--not only influenced political life, but attracted a great deal of criticism. This is the first book dedicated to the interpretation and critical discussion of this significant work.
Mill's famous proportionality statement of the Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP) is commonly taken to specify his own moral theory. And the discussion in which GHP is embedded -- Chapter 2 of Utilitarianism -- predominates the interpretation of Mill's normative philosophy. Largely because of these suppositions, Mill is traditionally read as a particular kind of utilitarian: a maximizing act-consequentialist. This paper argues that the canonical status accorded to Utilitarianism is belied by the text itself, as well as by its historical context, (...) and that this point largely undermines the orthodox interpretation of Mill. In fact, GHP was intended as the statement of a common creed, acceptable to the diverse class of philosophers Mill counted as utilitarian. Moreover, the discussion of substantive moral theory in Utilitarianism in several respects does not reflect his own view, and the work itself is much less important than it is almost universally taken to be -- though not, it turns out, by Mill himself. (shrink)
Philosophers have tended to dismiss John Stuart Mill’s claim that ‘all silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility’. I argue that Mill’s ‘infallibility claim’ is indeed open to many objections, but that, contrary to the consensus, those objections fail to defeat the anti-authoritarian thesis which lies at its core. I then argue that Mill’s consequentialist case for the liberty of thought and discussion is likewise capable of withstanding some familiar objections. My purpose is to suggest that Mill’s anti-authoritarianism and (...) his faith in thought and discussion, when taken seriously, supply the basis for a ‘public interest’ account of ‘freedom of expression as the liberty of thought and discussion’ which is faithful to Mill in spirit, if not to the precise letter. I outline such an account, which – as I say in conclusion – can serve as a valuable safeguard against ad hoc, reactive legislation, and the demands of a spurious communitarianism. (shrink)
It is often thought that questions of reference are crucial in assessing scientific realism, construed as the view that successful theories are at least approximately true descriptions of the unobservable; realism is justified only if terms in empirically successful theories generally refer to genuinely existing entities or properties. In this paper this view is questioned. First, it is argued that there are good reasons to think that questions of realism are largely decided by convention and carry no epistemic significance. An (...) alternative conception of realism is then proposed, which focuses on the Ramsey sentences of scientific theories, constructed in the manner of David Lewis's 'How to define theoretical terms'. It is argued that because the Ramsey sentence of a theory preserves the epistemically significant part of the theory's content without generating commitments to any particular conclusions about reference, the realism issue is better addressed by asking whether Ramsey sentences of theories, rather than the theories themselves, are approximately true. (shrink)
Based on archival material from the Carnap and FeiglArchives, this paper re-examines Carnap's approach tothe issue of scientific realism in the 1950s and theearly 1960s. It focuses on Carnap's re-invention ofthe Ramsey-sentence approach to scientific theoriesand argues that Carnap wanted to entertain a genuineneutral stance in the realism-instrumentalism debate.Following Grover Maxwell, it claims that Carnap'sposition may be best understood as a version of`structural realism'. However, thus understood,Carnap's position faces the challenge that Newmanraised against Russell's structuralism: the claim thatthe knowledge of (...) the unobservable is limited to itspurely structural characteristics is eitheruninformative or unsustainable. (shrink)
In the present paper I want to do two things. First, I want to discuss Ramsey’s own views of Ramsey-sentences. This, it seems to me, is an important issue not just (or mainly) because of its historical interest. It has a deep philosophical significance. Addressing it will enable us to see what Ramsey’s lasting contribution in the philosophy of science was as well as what its relevance to today’s problems is. Since the 1950s, where the interest in Ramsey’s views has (...) mushroomed, there have been a number of different ways to read Ramsey’s views and to reconstruct Ramsey’s project. The second aim of the present paper is to discuss the most significant and controversial of this reconstruction, viz., structuralism. After some discussion of the problems of structuralism in the philosophy of science, as this was exemplified in Bertrand Russell’s and Grover Maxwell’s views and has re-appeared in Elie Zahar’s and John Worrall’s thought, I will argue that, for good reasons, Ramsey did not see his Ramsey-sentences as part of some sort of structuralist programme. I will close with an image of scientific theories that Ramsey might have found congenial. I will call it Ramseyan humility. (shrink)
Mill's free speech doctrine is distinct from, yet compatible with, his central principle of ‘purely self-regarding’ liberty. Using the crucial analogy with trade, I claim that he defends a broad laissez-faire policy for expression, even though expression is ‘social’ or other-regarding conduct and thus legitimately subject to social regulation. An expedient laissez-faire policy admits of exceptions because speakers can sometimes cause such severe damage to others that coercive interference with the speech is justified. In those relatively few contexts where interference (...) is called for, however, the central principle of self-regarding liberty sets absolute limits to the scope of society's regulatory authority. Regulation can never amount to an outright ban of any type of expression that can be consumed by the individual without direct and immediate harm to others. Nevertheless, and perhaps surprisingly, the central liberty principle admits censorship of certain extraordinary types of expression which necessarily harm others. (shrink)
According to the Ramsey Test hypothesis the conditional claim that if A then B is credible just in case it is credible that B, on the supposition that A. If true the hypothesis helps explain the way in which we evaluate and use ordinary language conditionals. But impossibility results for the Ramsey Test hypothesis in its various forms suggest that it is untenable. In this paper, I argue that these results do not in fact have this implication, on (...) the grounds that similar results can be proved without recourse to the Ramsey test hypothesis. Instead they show that a number of well entrenched principles of rational belief and belief revision do not apply to conditionals. (shrink)
While there is much common ground between the writings of Amartya Sen and John Stuart Mill – particularly in their advocacy of freedom and gender equality – one is a critic, while the other is an advocate, of utilitarianism. In spite of this contrast, there are strong echoes of Sen's capability approach in Mill's writings. Inasmuch as Mill sees the capability to be happy as important he holds a form of capability approach. He also thinks of happiness as constituted by (...) the exercise of certain capabilities (including the higher faculties). Furthermore, Mill addresses the possibility that people can adapt to limited opportunity, which is central to Sen's critique of some ‘utility’-based views. By contrasting contentment and happiness Mill suggests one way in which a utilitarian might address cases of adaptation. His discussions of capabilities and of adaptation are consistent with his utilitarianism. (Published Online February 16 2006). (shrink)
I compare Mill's and Sen's accounts of the value of opportunity, focusing on a tension between two ideas they both uphold: that individual freedom is an important component of well-being, and that, because desires can be adaptive, actual desire is not always a good indicator of what will give well-being. The two writers' responses to this tension reflect different understandings of the relationship between freedom and desire. Sen links an individual's well-being to her freedom to choose what she has reason (...) to desire, and looks to a democratic political process for a collective judgement about what it is rational to desire. Mill links the individual's well-being to her freedom to act on her own desires, whatever they may be, within the constraints imposed by a fair initial distribution of resources. He sees no need for collective judgement about what is ultimately valuable in human life. I side with Mill. (Published Online February 16 2006). (shrink)
John Worrall recently provided an account of epistemic structural realism, which explains the success of science by arguing for the correct mathematical structure of our theories. He accounts for the historical failures of science by pointing to bloated ontological interpretations of theoretical terms. In this paper I argue that Worrall’s account suffers from five serious problems. I also show that Pierre Cruse and David Papineau have developed a rival structural realism that solves all of the problems faced by Worrall. This (...) Ramsey-sentence realism is a significant advance in the debate, but still ultimately fails for its incomplete account of reference. (shrink)
Revisionist interpretation of Mill needs to be extended to deal with a residue of puzzles about his moral theory and its connection with his theory of liberty. The upshot shows his reinterpretation of his Benthamite tradition as a form of ‘philosophical utilitarianism’; his definition of the art of morality as collective self-defence; his ignoring of maximization in favour of ad hoc dealing in utilities; the central role of his account of the justice of punishment; the marginal role of the internal (...) sanction in his criterion of moral wrong; his deep respect for common-sense morality; and his restriction of the scope of morality so as to claim for the utilitarian tradition the whole realm of the aesthetics of conduct as part of a general theory of practical reason. (shrink)
Utilitarianism and its principal architect, John Stuart Mill, are staples of media ethics teaching and analysis. However, utilitarianism, in its usual presentation, is offered as a simplistic arithmetic formula: Do the greatest good for the greatest number. This quantification approach, when attached to Mill, misinterprets this philosopher and robs media ethics discussions of the rich reflection that an important classical theory can bring. Mill is a particularly suitable philosopher for presentation to students of journalism and mass communication. Mill provides a (...) strong argument in favor of freedom of expression in addition to espousing a moral theory that is simultaneously protective of individual rights while promoting communitarian principles. But it is imperative to get Mill right. This essay attempts to do so and to offer a utilitarian decision tree for those who wish to properly apply Mill's theory in teaching and practice. (shrink)
Nonintervention has been a particularly important and occasionally disturbing principle for liberal scholars, such as John Stuart Mill and Michael Walzer, who share a commitment to basic and universal human rights. On the one hand, liberals have provided some of the strongest reasons to abide by a strict form of the nonintervention doctrine. It was only with the security of national borders that peoples could work out the capacity to govern themselves as free citizens. On the other hand, those very (...) same principles of universal human dignity when applied in different contexts have provided justifications for overriding or disregarding the principle of nonintervention. In explaining this dual logic I present an interpretive summary of Mill's famous argument against and for intervention, presented in his "A Few Words on Non-Intervention" (1859), that illustrates what makes Mill's "few words" both so attractive and alarming to us. We should be drawn to Mill's arguments because he is among the first to address the conundrums of modern intervention. The modern conscience tries simultaneously to adhere to three contradictory principles: first, the cosmopolitan, humanitarian commitment to assistance, irrespective of international borders; second, respect for the significance of communitarian, national self-determination; and, third, accommodation to the reality of international anarchy, which puts a premium on self-help national security. I stress, more than has been conventional, the consequentialist character of the ethics of both nonintervention and intervention. Comparing Mill's "Non-Intervention" and Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars (1977) links two classic statements on just wars of intervention. I conclude that interventionist arguments should go beyond the three paradigmatic cases Walzer explores in Just and Unjust Wars . But while they can draw on Mill's "Non-Intervention," they need to offer a more convincing set of criteria for when such interventions are likely to do more good than harm. (shrink)
This volume collects David Lyons' well-known essays on Mill's moral theory and includes an introduction which relates the essays to prior and subsequent philosophical developments. Like the author's Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism (Oxford, 1965), the essays apply analytical methods to issues in normative ethics. The first essay defends a refined version of the beneficiary theory of rights against H.L.A. Hart's important criticisms. The central set of essays develops new interpretations of Mill's moral theory with the aim of determining how (...) far rights can be incorporated in a utilitarian framework. They Mill's analysis of moral concepts promises to accommodate the argumentative force of rights, and also provide a significant new reading of Mill's theory of liberty. The last essay argues that the promise of Mill's theory of justice cannot be fulfilled. Utilitarianism is unable to account for crucial features of moral rights, or even for the moral force of legal rights whose existence might be justified on utilitarian grounds. (shrink)
I offer an interpretation of John Stuart Mill's theory of higher and lower pleasures in his Utilitarianism. I argue that the quality of pleasure is best understood as the density of pleasure per unit of delivery. Mill is illustrated with numerous beer examples.
At the age of 20, and fresh from his undergraduate studies in mathematics, Ramsey set about writing what would be his first substantial publication, his 1923 Critical Notice of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (hereafter TLP). It is hard for modern students of that book, who negotiate its obscurities with generations of previous commentary to serve as guides, to appreciate the task Ramsey confronted; and, to the extent that one can appreciate it, it is hard not to feel intimidated by the brilliance of (...) his success. His Critical Notice made Ramsey the first of Wittgenstein’s interpreters.1 In my view it makes him, still, the best. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against the standard interpretation of Mill as a hedonistic utilitarian, and argue instead that Mill holds a 'eudaimonic' conception of happiness. I begin by clarifying exactly what I mean by a eudaimonic conception of happiness, and then examine the textual evidence for this eudaimonic interpretation, as well as the evidence against the standard hedonistic interpretation. Naturally, a great deal of the paper will revolve around an analysis of Mill's Utilitarianism , but special attention will also (...) be paid to On Liberty , reading it as a development of Mill's moral theory rather than a mere application of it. (shrink)
This article is a systematic repudiation of Joseph Hamburger's thesis in his book John Stuart Mill on Liberty And Control . Hamburger maintains that Mill wanted to promote the `moral regeneration of mankind' by eroding Christian belief and replacing it with a religion of humanity. He argues that Mill's defense of liberty must be seen in this context, although Mill himself tried to conceal some of his views. Mill in fact permitted interference even in the area of self-regarding conduct. He (...) was against interference by public opinion, but not against interference by superior persons. Mill valued freedom because it enabled superior persons to promote the desired progress toward the religion of humanity. But this article argues that Hamburger fails to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate forms of interference, a distinction that is central to Mill's case for liberty. Superior persons are not allowed to coerce others from engaging in non-harmful but `miserable' conduct. The progress that Mill envisaged was to be achieved within the framework of freedom for all. Key Words: liberty social control self-regarding conduct Christianity religion of humanity public opinion. (shrink)
Against Schmidt-Petri's claim, I argue that John Stuart Mill is committed to the view that one pleasure is higher in quality than another if and only if at least a majority of those people who are competently acquainted with both always prefer the one no matter how much of the other is offered. I support my reading with solid textual evidence; none such is provided by Schmidt-Petri in support of his contrary interpretation that qualitative superiority exists whenever the experienced prefer (...) less of one pleasure to more of another. The decisive objection to this is its incompatibility with the hedonistic requirement that more pleasure ought to be preferred to less, a requirement so fundamental that it would be uncharitable to suppose that Mill lost sight of it in his doctrine of higher pleasures. (shrink)
Many solutions of the Goodman paradox have been proposed but so far no agreement has been reached about which is the correct solution. However, I will not contribute here to the discussion with a new solution. Rather, I will argue that a solution has been in front of us for more than two hundred years because a careful reading of Hume’s account of inductive inferences shows that, contrary to Goodman’s opinion, it embodies a correct solution of the paradox. Moreover, the (...) account even includes a correct answer to Mill’s question of why in some cases a single instance is sufficient for a complete induction, since Hume gives a well-supported explanation of this reliability phenomenon. The discussion also suggests that Bayesian theory by itself cannot explain this phenomenon. Finally, we will see that Hume’s explanation of the reliability phenomenon is surprisingly similar to the explanation given lately by a number of naturalistic philosophers in their discussion of the Goodman paradox. (shrink)
A well known paragraph in Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’ has standardly been misread. Mill does not claim that if some pleasure is of ‘higher quality’, then it will be (or ought to be) chosen over the pleasure of lower quality regardless of their respective quantities. Instead he says that if some pleasure will be chosen over another available in larger quantity, then we are justified in saying that the pleasure so chosen is of higher quality than the other. This assertion is unproblematic.
D.G. Brown’s revisionist interpretation, despite its interest, misrepresents Mill’s moral theory as outlined in Utilitarianism . Mill’s utilitarianism is extraordinary because it explicitly aims to maximize general happiness both in point of quality and quantity. It encompasses spheres of life beyond morality, and its structure cannot be understood without clarification of his much-maligned doctrine that some kinds of pleasant feelings are qualitatively superior to others irrespective of quantity. This doctrine of higher pleasures establishes an order of precedence among conflicting kinds (...) of enjoyments, including moral as well as non-moral kinds. In particular, as he indicates in Utilitarianism , Chapter V, the higher kind of pleasure associated with the moral sentiment of justice, namely, a feeling of ‘security’ for vital personal concerns that everyone has and that ought to be recognized as equal rights, is qualitatively superior to any competing kinds of pleasures regardless of quantity. Justice (more generally, morality) is conceived as a social system of rules and dispositions which has as its ultimate end the maximization of this pleasant feeling of security for everyone. The upshot is that an optimal social code that distributes and sanctions particular equal rights and correlative duties has absolute priority over competing considerations within his utilitarianism. The code seeks to prevent conduct that, in the judgment of suitably competent majorities, causes grievous kinds of harm to other people by injuring their vital personal concerns. To prevent the acts and omissions which are judged to cause such undue harm, the code assigns equal duties not to perform them, and authorizes due punishment of anyone who fails to fulfill his duties. Punishment is always expedient to condemn and deter wrongdoing. But it is properly a separate issue which particular ways of inflicting punishment are expedient in any particular situation. Given that feelings of guilt are a way of inflicting punishment, coercion is not necessary for punishment. Thus, Mill’s claim that wrongdoing always deserves to be punished in some way does not imply that coercive legal sanctions and public stigma are always expedient for the enforcement of moral duties. (shrink)
This paper considers the converse of the principle that ought implies can, namely, the principle that must implies ought. It argues that this principle is the central premiss for Mill's argument that happiness is desirable (worthy of desire), and it examines the sense of must that is relevant and the implications it has for Mill's moral philosophy.
Frank Ramsey writes: If two people are arguing ‘if p will q?’ and both are in doubt as to p, they are adding p hypothetically to their stock of knowledge and arguing on that basis about q. We can say that they are fixing their degrees of belief in q given p. (1931) Chalmers and Hájek write: Let us take the first sentence [of Ramsey] the way it is often taken, as proposing the following test for the acceptability of an (...) indicative conditional: ‘if p then q’ is acceptable to a subject S iff, were S to accept p and consider q, S would accept q. (shrink)
It is argued that the moral theory undergirding J.S. Mill''s argumentin On Liberty is a species of perfectionism rather than any kind of utilitarianism. The conception of human flourishing that itinvokes is one in which the goods of personal autonomy and individualityare central. If this conception is to be more than the expression ofa particular cultural ideal it needs the support of an empiricallyplausible view of human nature and a defensible interpretation ofhistory. Neither of these can be found in Mill. (...) Six traditionalcriticisms of Mill''s argument are assessed. It is concluded thatin addition to depending on implausible claims about human natureand history Mill''s conception of the good contains disablingincommensurabilities. It is argued that these difficulties andincommensurabilities plague later liberal thinkers such as IsaiahBerlin and Joseph Raz who have sought to ground liberalism in avalue-pluralist ethical theory. No thinker in Mill''s liberal posterity has been able to demonstrate the universal authority of liberal ideals. (shrink)
I will argue that Mill used the concepts tendency and intention as technical terms a proper understanding of which is vital in interpreting his moral philosophy. I examine two interpretations of tendency, offered by Brian Cupples and Fred Berger, and proceed to show weaknesses in both. I will also sketch an interpretation of my own in which tendencies have an important place in Mill's understanding of not only science but moral philosophy as well. I will then show how my interpretation (...) of tendency can help in understanding Mill's foreseeable consequences utilitarianism that relies heavily on Mill's unorthodox use of the notion of intention. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill's best-known work is On Liberty (1859). In it he declared that Western society was in danger of coming to a standstill. This was an extraordinarily pessimistic claim in view of Britain's global dominance at the time and one that has been insufficiently investigated in the secondary literature. The wanting model was that of China, a once advanced civilization that had apparently ossified. To understand how Mill came to this conclusion requires one to investigate his notion of the (...) stages from barbarism to civilization, and also his belief in imperialism as part of the civilizing process. Here India plays a central role, as both Mill and his father worked for the East India Company. This study, then, investigates the relationship between Mill's liberalism and his justification of imperialism. It takes us into the Utilitarianism of his family background, and such other influences as Romanticism, Scottish political economy and such key French thinkers as Saint-Simon, Guizot, Comte and Tocqueville. Mill, then, provides the focus of a debate on the origins, meaning, and consequences of Western civilization. It encompasses discourses on colonialism and orientalism, on Enlightenment optimism and conservative despair, on the need for leadership and the advance of democracy; in short, on the blessings, curses and dangers of modernization from approximately the time of the American and French revolutions to that of the so-called mid-Victorian calm in which On Liberty was written. Furthermore, current political issues concerning the West and Islamic countries have heightened interest in just the kind of question that this book discusses: that of how the West relates to, and assesses, the rest of the world. (shrink)
The paper criticizes the attempt to account for the direction of causation in terms of objective statistical asymmetries, such as those of the fork asymmetry. Following Ramsey, I argue that the most plausible way to account for causal asymmetry is to regard it as "put in by hand", that is as a feature that agents project onto the world. Its temporal orientation stems from that of ourselves as agents. The crucial statistical asymmetry is an anthropocentric one, namely that we take (...) our actions to be statistically independent of everything except (what we come to call) their effects. I argue that this account explains the intuitive plausibility of Reichenbach's principle of the common cause. (shrink)
We present a semantic analysis of the Ramsey test, pointing out its deep underlying flaw: the tension between the “static” nature of AGM revision (which was originally tailored for revision of only purely ontic beliefs, and can be applied to higher-order beliefs only if given a “backwards-looking” interpretation) and the fact that, semantically speaking, any Ramsey conditional must be a modal operator (more precisely, a dynamic-epistemic one). Thus, a belief about a Ramsey conditional is in fact a higher-order belief, hence (...) the AGM revision postulates are not applicable to it, except in their “backwards-looking” interpretation. But that interpretation is consistent only with a restricted (weak) version of Ramsey’s test (in-applicable to already revised theories). The solution out of the conundrum is twofold: either accept only the weak Ramsey test; or replace the AGM revision operator ∗ by a truly “dynamic” revision operator ⊗, which will not satisfy the AGM axioms, but will do something better: it will “keep up with reality”, correctly describing revision with higher-order beliefs. (shrink)
I suggest following Paul Feyerabend's own advice, and interpreting Feyerabend's work in light of the principles laid out by John Stuart Mill. A review of Mill's essay, On Liberty, emphasizes the importance Mill placed on open and critical discussion for the vitality and progress of various aspects of human life, including the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Many of Feyerabend's more unusual stances, I suggest, are best interpreted as attempts to play certain roles--especially the role of "defender of unpopular minority opinion"--that (...) are necessary to fulfilling Mill's conditions for rational exchange and optimal human development. (shrink)
Peter Lipton has attempted to flesh out a model of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) by clarifying explanation in terms of a causal model. But Lipton's account of explanation makes an adequate explanation depend on a principle which is virtually identical to Mill's Method of Difference. This has the result of collapsing IBE on Lipton's account of it into causal inference as conceived by the Causal-Inference model of induction. According to this model, many of our inductions are inferences from (...) effects to their probable causes, and Mill's Methods are canons to guide such inferences. Thus, Lipton's account of IBE fails to represent an advance over the already familiar Causal-Inference Model of induction. (shrink)
This paper seeks to explain why the argument from analogy seems strong to an analogist such as Mill and weak to the skeptic. The inference from observed behavior to the existence of feelings, sensations, etc., in other subjects is justified, but its justification depends on taking observed behavior and feelings, sensations, and so on, to be not merely correlated, but connected. It is claimed that this is what Mill had in mind.