Patricia Williams made a number of claims concerning the methods and practise of cladistic analysis and classification. Her argument rests upon the distinction of two kinds of hierarchy: a divisional hierarchy depicting evolutionary descent and the Linnean hierarchy describing taxonomic groups in a classification. Williams goes on to outline five problems with cladistics that lead her to the conclusion that systematists should eliminate cladism as a school of biological taxonomy and to replace it either with something that is (...) philosophically coherent or to replace it with pure methodology, untainted by theory (Williams 1992, 151). Williams makes a number of points which she feels collectively add up to insurmountable problems for cladistics. We examine Williams' views concerning the two hierarchies and consider what cladists currently understand about the status of ancestors. We will demonstrate that Williams has seriously misunderstood many modern commentators on this subject and all of her five persistent problems are derivable from this misunderstanding. Some persons believe and argue, on grounds approaching faith it seems to me, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of evolution. Others have found to their surprise, and sometimes dismay, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of systematics. Nelson (1989, 67). (shrink)
Re-treating Religion is the first volume to analyze his long-term project The Deconstruction of Christianity,especially his major statement of it in Dis-Enclosure.Nancy conceives monotheistic religion and secularization not as opposite ...
Williams, Ron As I consider the list of previous AHOY recipients since the inaugural award in 1983, I can only say that this is an immeasurable honour. It means much to me because, for almost ten years now, Humanism has been there for my family. In 2005-2006, when separation of church and state school issues first crept into our lives, the Humanist Society of Queensland was to appear as the only beacon of secularist activism upon the deep northern horizon. (...) So in 2006 Andrea and I joined the HSQ. (shrink)
It is widely recognized that our social and moral environments influence our actions and belief formations. We are never fully immune to the effects of cultural membership. What is not clear, however, is whether these influences excuse average moral agents who fail to scrutinize conventional norms. In this paper, I argue that the lack of extensive public debate about factory farming and, its corollary, extreme animal suffering, is probably due, in part, to affected ignorance. Although a complex phenomenon because of (...) its many manifestations, affected ignorance is morally culpable because it involves a choice not to investigate whether some practice in which one participates in might be immoral. I contend further that James Montmarquet’s set of intellectual virtues can provide a positive account of what it means to act as a responsible moral agent while immersed in a meat eating culture; they also represent the moral and epistemic framework for the kind of public discourse that should be taking place. (shrink)
Â‘First. That on October 23, in the city of New York, your relator was arrested by divers persons claiming to be acting by authority of the government of the United States, and was by said persons conveyed to the United States immigration station at Ellis island, in the harbor of New York, and is now there imprisoned by the commissioner of immigration of the port of New York.
Diversity has become a watchword in American journalism as newspapers and TV stations strive to staff their newsroom with more women and minority journalists. But diversity must be thought of as more than numbers. Newsroom culture must change as it becomes more infused with this new wave of journalists who bring different backgrounds, perspectives, and values to the news mix. The new wave of diverse journalists are, in fact, in our classrooms today. Ethics courses preparing journalists for the 21st century (...) need to locate and articulate diverse philosophies to expand the traditional canon and to immerse students in experiences that provide practical applications of diversity to daily journalism. (shrink)
A new volume of philosophical essays by Bernard Williams. The book is a successor to Problems of the Self, but whereas that volume dealt mainly with questions of personal identity, Moral Luck centres on questions of moral philosophy and the theory of rational action. That whole area has of course been strikingly reinvigorated over the last deacde, and philosophers have both broadened and deepened their concerns in a way that now makes much earlier moral and political philosophy look sterile (...) and trivial. Moral Luck contains a number of essays that have contributed influentially to this development. Among the recurring themes are the moral and philosophical limitations of utilitarianism, the notion of integrity, relativism, and problems of moral conflict and rational choice. The work presented here is marked by a high degree of imagination and acuity, and also conveys a strong sense of psychological reality. The volume will be a stimulating source of ideas and arguments for all philosophers and a wide range of other readers. (shrink)
A discussion of egoism and altruism as related both to ethical theory and moral psychology. Williams considers and rejects various arguments for and against the existence of egoistic motives and the rationality of someone motivated by self-interest. He ultimately attempts to give a more Humean defense of altruism, as opposed to the more Kantian defenses found in Thomas Nagel, for example.
In Being and Time, Heidegger affirms that being-with or Mitsein is an essential constitution of Dasein but he does not submit this existential to the same rigorous analyses as other existentials. In this essay, Jean-Luc Nancy points to the different places where Heidegger erased the possibility of thinking an essential with that he himself opened. This erasure is due, according to Nancy, to the subordination of Mitsein to a thinking of the proper and the improper. The polarization of (...) Being-with between an improper face, the Anyone, and a proper one, the people, which is also, as Nancy shows, a polarization between everydayness and historicity, between a being-together in exteriority (indifference and anonymity) and a being-together in interiority (union through destiny), between a solitary dying and the sacrificial death in combat, leaves the essential with unthought. This essay shows not only the tensions that arise out of Heidegger’s own analyses of Mitsein and affect the whole of Being and Time but also underlines in the end a “shortfall in thinking” inherent not only to Heidegger’s work but, as Nancy claims, to our Western tradition, a shortfall which Nancy has attempted to remedy in his Being Singular Plural. (shrink)
What can--and what can't--philosophy do? What are its ethical risks--and its possible rewards? How does it differ from science? In Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline , Bernard Williams addresses these questions and presents a striking vision of philosophy as fundamentally different from science in its aims and methods even though there is still in philosophy "something that counts as getting it right." Written with his distinctive combination of rigor, imagination, depth, and humanism, the book amply demonstrates why Williams (...) was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Spanning his career from his first publication to one of his last lectures, the book's previously unpublished or uncollected essays address metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as the scope and limits of philosophy itself. The essays are unified by Williams's constant concern that philosophy maintain contact with the human problems that animate it in the first place. As the book's editor, A. W. Moore, writes in his introduction, the title essay is "a kind of manifesto for Williams's conception of his own life's work." It is where he most directly asks "what philosophy can and cannot contribute to the project of making sense of things"--answering that what philosophy can best help make sense of is "being human." Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline is one of three posthumous books by Williams to be published by Princeton University Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument was published in the fall of 2005. The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy is being published shortly after the present volume. (shrink)
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. This is a revised version of Professor (...) Smart's famous essay 'an outline of a system of utilitarian ethics', first published in 1961 but long unobtainable. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. Both authors are agreed on utilitarianism's importance: it cuts across a number of different philosophical disputes and combines a systematic account of mata-ethical problems with a distinctive and substantive moral stand. It thus is, or involves, philosophy in both the traditional and the narrower, professional sense of the word, and is a key topic (often the first topic) in introductory philosophy courses. This book should also be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists. (shrink)
[Michael Williams] A response to Sosa's criticisms of Sellars's account of the relation between knowledge and experience, noting that Sellars excludes merely animal knowledge, and hopes to bypass epistemology by an adequate philosophy of mind and language. /// [Ernest Sosa] I give an exposition and critical discussion of Sellars's Myth of the Given, and especially of its epistemic side. In later writings Sellars takes a pragmatist turn in his epistemology. This is explored and compared with his earlier critique of (...) givenist mythology. In response to Michael Williams, it is argued that these issues are importantly independent of philosophy of language or mind, and that my own take on them does not commit me to any absurd radical foundationalism on language or mind. My own take is in line with Descartes' two-level epistemology of cognitio and scientia, a bifurcation that protects him from vicious circularity, and is adaptable for an epistemology naturalized (not supernaturalized), whether in the way of Quine, or Moore, or Davidson. (shrink)
This new volume of philosophical papers by Bernard Williams is divided into three sections: the first Action, Freedom, Responsibility, the second Philosophy, Evolution and the Human Sciences; in which appears the essay which gives the collection its title; and the third Ethics, which contains essays closely related to his 1983 book Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Like the two earlier volumes of Williams's papers published by Cambridge University Press, Problems of the Self and Moral Luck, this volume (...) will be welcomed by all readers with a serious interest in philosophy. It is published alongside a volume of essays on Williams's work, World, Mind, and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams, edited by J. E. J. Altham and Ross Harrison, which provides a reappraisal of his work by other distinguished thinkers in the field. (shrink)
G. E. Moore observed that to assert, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' would be 'absurd'. Over half a century later, such sayings continue to perplex philosophers. In the definitive treatment of the famous paradox, Green and Williams explain its history and relevance and present new essays by leading thinkers in the area.
David Hume's relatively short essay 'Of the Standard of Taste' deals with some of the most difficult issues in aesthetic theory. Apart from giving a few pregnant remarks, near the end of his discussion, on the role of morality in aesthetic evaluation, Hume tries to reconcile the idea that tastes are subjective (in the sense of not being answerable to the facts) with the idea that some objects of taste are better than others. 'Tastes', in this context, are the pleasures (...) or displeasures that a person can take in the beauties of poems, paintings, and other artistic compositions (though Hume also wants to stress the continuities between tastes, so understood, and the bodily sense of taste). The position at which Hume arrives in the essay (despite some dialectical unclarity) is that some people – the 'true judges'– determine by their 'joint verdict' which works are meritorious. This solution continues to exercise a fascination, as does Hume's complicated route to it. Author Recommends: Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. This paper places 'Of the Standard of Taste' in an especially rich context, and asks why Hume concentrates on true judges instead of the improvement of one's own taste. Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 177–208. This chapter, embedded in an exposition of Mothersill's 'First Thesis' (the denial that there are principles of taste) and 'Second Thesis' (the affirmation that some judgments of taste are genuine judgments), gives a detailed running commentary on Hume's essay. A shorter self-contained version of the chapter appeared as 'Hume and the Paradox of Taste' in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology , 2nd ed., eds. George Dickie, Richard Sclafani, and Ronald Roblin (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1989, 269–86). Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. An importance recent article, Levinson's piece argues that the 'real' difficulty with Hume's essay has gone unnoticed: why should I care about what Hume's true judges think? Christopher Williams, 'Some Questions in Hume's Aesthetics', Philosophy Compass 2/2 (2007). This article provides a brief overview of the topics discussed under weeks 3–5 in the sample syllabus below. It is intended to provide a roadmap for the particular set of readings listed there. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. This is a stimulating paper in moral philosophy that treats Hume's essay on taste as a model for a serious subjectivism. Wiggins then presents his own brand of subjectivism as an alternative to Hume's. Online Materials: Hume's Aesthetics (Ted Gracyk): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-aesthetics/ Sample Syllabus: Recommended background reading on Hume's historical context: Peter Kivy, The Seventh Sense: Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics , 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially Part III. Recommended background reading on the general topic of taste: David A. Whewell, 'Taste', Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 415–18. Dabney Townsend and Carolyn Korsmeyer, 'Taste', Encyclopedia of Aesthetics , ed. Michael Kelly (New York, NY and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 4:355–62. Ted Cohen, 'The Philosophy of Taste: Thoughts on the Idea', Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics , ed. Peter Kivy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 167–73. Week 1: Hume on beauty, art, and aesthetic judgment in the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals The following references are usable for any complete edition of the Treatise or Enquiry Treatise , 2.1.8 ('Of Beauty and Deformity') Treatise , 2.2.5 ('Of Our Esteem for the Rich and Powerful') Treatise , 2.2.8 ('Of Malice and Envy'), final three paragraphs Treatise , 2.2.11 ('Of the Amorous Passion, or Love Betwixt the Sexes') Treatise , 3.1.2 ('Moral Distinctions Deriv'd from a Moral Sense') Treatise , 3.3.1 ('Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues') Treatise , 3.3.5 ('Some Farther Reflexions Concerning the Natural Virtues') Enquiry , Appendix 1 ('Of moral sentiment') Week 2: Hume's essays Essays Moral, Political, and Literary , ed. Eugene Miller (Indianapolis, IN: LibertyClassics, 1985) is the most commonly used edition today. 'Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion' 'Of Eloquence' 'Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences' 'Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing' 'Of Tragedy' 'Of the Standard of Taste' Week 3: Circularity–Virtuous or Vicious? Peter Kivy, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: Breaking the Circle', British Journal of Aesthetics (1967): 57–66. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. Week 4: Rules of Art Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984), 177–208. James Shelley, 'Hume's Double Standard of Taste', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (1994): 437–45. Nick Zangwill, 'Hume, Taste, and Teleology', The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 149–65. Week 5: The True Judge Malcolm Budd, 'Hume and Kant', 'Hume's Standard of Taste', 'Hume and Human Nature', Values of Art (London: Allen Lane, 1995), 16–24 . Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. Week 6: Moralism in Aesthetic Judgment: Hume and Beyond Kendall Walton, 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1994): 27–50. Richard Moran, 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination', Philosophical Review (1994): 75–106. Tamar Szabo-Gendler, 'The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance', Journal of Philosophy (2000): 55–81. Focus Questions 1. How does Hume distinguish between matters of 'fact' and 'sentiment'? 2. What is a 'rule of art', and are there any rules? 3. Can a bad critic be 'silenced'? 4. What are the characteristics of good critics? 5. Should we expect good critics to agree on the merits of a work, and should I care about becoming a good critic myself? 6. Is it possible to distinguish variations in taste for which we should expect a standard and variations for which it is 'vain' to have such an expectation? 7. How is the excellence of a work related to the exercise of taste? 8. If a work of literature has a moral outlook that differs from our own, should we consider the work defective on literary grounds? (shrink)
Most views of personal identity allow that sometimes, facts of personal identity can be borderline or indeterminate. Bernard Williams argued that regarding questions of one’s own survival as borderline “had no comprehensible representation” in one’s emotions and expectations. Whether this is the case, I will argue, depends crucially on what account of indeterminacy is presupposed.
[Andrew Williams] It is difficult for prioritarians to explain the degree to which justice requires redress for misfortune in a way that avoids imposing unreasonably high costs on more advantaged individuals whilst also economising on intuitionist appeals to judgment. An appeal to hypothetical insurance may be able to solve the problems of cost and judgment more successfully, and can also be defended from critics who claim that resource egalitarianism is best understood to favour the ex post elimination of envy (...) over individual endowments. /// [Michael Otsuka] Inequality is intrinsically bad when and because it is unfair. It follows that the ideal of equality is not necessarily realised by a distribution of resources which is envy-free prior to the resolution of risks against which people have an equal opportunity to insure. Even if the upshot of such an ex ante envyfree distribution is just, it is not necessarily fair. (shrink)
Thomas Williams Note: This is a preprint of my introduction to the forthcoming translation by Margaret Atkins of Thomas Aquinas’s Disputed Questions on the Virtues (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). The basic procedure was simple. The topic would be announced in advance so that everyone could prepare an arsenal of clever arguments. When the faculty and students had gathered, the professor would offer a brief introduction and state his thesis. All morning long an appointed graduate student would (...) take objections from the audience and defend the professor’s thesis against those objections. (And if the graduate student began to flounder, the professor was allowed to help him out.) A secretary would take shorthand notes. The next day the group would reassemble. This time it would be the professor’s job to summarise the arguments on both sides and give his own response to the question at issue. The whole thing would be written up, either in a rough-and-tumble version deriving from the secretary’s notes or in a more carefully crafted and edited version prepared by the professor himself. Records of such academic exercises have come down to us under the title ‘disputed questions’. (shrink)
Chancy counterfactuals are a headache. Dylan Dodd (2009) presents an interesting argument against a certain general strategy for accounting for them, instances of which are found in the appendices to Lewis (1979) and in Williams (2008). I will argue (i) that Dodd’s understates the counterintuitiveness of the conclusions he can reach; (ii) that the counterintuitiveness can be thought of as an instance of more general oddities arising when we treat vagueness and indeterminacy in a classical setting; and (iii) the (...) underlying source of discontent which animates Dodd’s complains is to be found in a certain general constraint one might impose on conditionals—what I’ll call the counterfactual Ramsey bound. Unfortunately, the counterfactual Ramsey bound is just as problematic as its famous indicative cousin. The moral is that there’s no comfortable resting place in this area; for violations of the counterfactual Ramsey bound are going to lead to prima facie surprising results. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In Williams (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries of (...) the core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination defines a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In <span class='Hi'>Williams</span> (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries (...) of the core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination deﬁnes a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
This volume brings together Paul Williams's previously published papers on the Indian and Tibetan interpretations of selected verses from the eighth and ninth chapters of the Bodhicaryavatara. In addition, there is a much longer version of the paper 'Identifying the Object of Negation', and nearly half the book consists of a wholly new essay, 'The Absence of Self and the Removal of Pain', subtitled 'How Santideva Destroyed the Bodhisattva Path'. This book will be of interest to those concerned with (...) the history and interpretation of Indian and Tibetan philosophy. (shrink)
Is social science really a science at all, and if so in what sense? This is the first real question that any course on the philosophy of the social sciences must tackle. In this brief introduction, Malcolm Williams gives the students the grounding that will enable them to discuss the issues involved with confidence.
One of the strongest strands in Nancy's philosophy is an attempt to rethink community and the very idea of the social in a way that does not ground these ideas in some individual subject or subjectivity. The fundamental argument of this book is that being is always 'being with', that 'I' is not prior to 'we', that existence is essentially co-existence. He thinks this being together, not as a comfortable enclosure in a pre-existing group, but as a mutual abandonment (...) and exposure to each other, one that would preserve the 'I' and its freedom in a mode of imagining community as neither a 'society of spectacle' nor via some form of 'authenticity'. (shrink)
If anything marks the image, it is a deep ambivalence. Denounced as superficial, illusory, and groundless, images are at the same time attributed with exorbitant power and assigned a privileged relation to truth. Mistrusted by philosophy, forbidden and embraced by religions, manipulated as “spectacle” and proliferated in the media, images never cease to present their multiple aspects, their paradoxes, their flat but receding spaces.What is this power that lies in the depths and recesses of an image—which is always only an (...) impenetrable surface? What secrets are concealed in the ground or in the figures of an image—which never does anything but show just exactly what it is and nothing else? How does the immanence of images open onto their unimaginable others, their imageless origin?In this collection of writings on images and visual art, Jean-Luc Nancy explores such questions through an extraordinary range of references. From Renaissance painting and landscape to photography and video, from the image of Roman death masks to the language of silent film, from Cleopatra to Kant and Heidegger, Nancy pursues a reflection on visuality that goes far beyond the many disciplines with which it intersects. He offers insights into the religious, cultural, political, art historical, and philosophical aspects of the visual relation, treating such vexed problems as the connection between image and violence, the sacred status of images, and, in a profound and important essay, the forbidden representation of the Shoah. In the background of all these investigations lies a preoccupation with finitude, the unsettling forces envisaged by the images that confront us, the limits that bind us to them, the death that stares back at us from their frozen traits and distant intimacies.In these vibrant and complex essays, a central figure in European philosophy continues to work through some of the most important questions of our time. Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg. The most recent of his many books to be published in English are A Finite Thinking and Multiple Arts. Jeff Fort has translated works by authors such as Jean Genet, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. (shrink)
In 2004, I explained the absurdity of Moore-paradoxical belief via the syllogism (Williams 2004): (1) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that tend to make me believe that p. (2) All circumstances that tend to make me believe that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. (3) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. I (...) then took (3) to mean (EP) Whatever justifies me in believing that p justifies me in believing that I believe that p.1 Now suppose that I am justified in believing anything of the omissive Mooreparadoxical form: (Om) p and I do not believe that p. Then I am justified in believing the first conjunct. So by (EP) I am justified in believing that I believe that p. But since I am also justified in believing the second conjunct, I am justified in believing that I do not believe that p. I claimed that this is impossible, because anything that justifies me in believing that something is the case renders me unjustified in believing that it is not the case. This syllogism is plausible from an externalist view of justification, according to which circumstances such as seeming to see rain under normal perceptual conditions, justify me in believing that it is raining. In support of (1), if my apparent perceptions of rain are reliably connected with rain, so as to justify me in thinking that it is raining, they also tend to make me believe that it is raining. In support of (2), my apparent perceptions of rain are also reliably connected with my coming to believe that it is raining. However, Anthony Brueckner (2006) argues that (1) and (EP) are both false once justification is thought of evidentially. Against (EP), he claims that my evidence that p is not evidence that I believe that p unless I possess the evidence, in the sense that I believe it and were I to believe that p on its basis. (shrink)
Lyotard and the Political is the first book to consider the full range of the French philosopher Francois Lyotard's political thought and its broader implications. Author James Williams clearly and carefully traces the development of Lyotard's thought from his early Marxist essays on the Algerian struggle for independence to his break with the thought of Marx and Freud. This book explains why Lyotard lost his belief in revolutionary politics and seeks to draw out the positive and negative consequences of (...) this loss. Encompassing all of Lyotard's thought, early and late, the book situates his work in terms of the dominant political and philosophical positions of the twentieth century.Williams clearly explains the relationship between Lyotard's thought and the thought of Kant, Heidegger, and Deleuze. (shrink)
This collection of writings by Jean-Luc Nancy, the renowned French critic and poet, delves into the history of philosophy to locate a fundamentally poetic modus operandi there. The book represents a daring mixture of Nancy’s philosophical essays, writings about artworks, and artwork of his own. With theoretical rigor, Nancy elaborates on the intrinsic multiplicity of art as a concept of “making,” and outlines the tensions inherent in the faire, the “making” that characterizes the very process of production (...) and thereby the structure of poetry in all its forms. Nancy shows that this multiplication that belongs to the notion of art makes every single work communicate with every other, all material in the artwork appeal to some other material, and art the singular plural of a praxis of the finite imparting of an infinity which is actually there in every utterance. In the collection, Nancy engages with the work of, among others, François Martin, Maurice Blanchot, and On Kawara. (shrink)
Toleration has a rich tradition in Western political philosophy. It is, after all, one of the defining topics of political philosophy—historically pivotal in the development of modern liberalism, prominent in the writings of such canonical figures as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, and central to our understanding of the idea of a society in which individuals have the right to live their own lives by their own values, left alone by the state so long as they respect the similar (...) interests of others. -/- Toleration and Its Limits, the latest addition to the NOMOS series, explores the philosophical nuances of the concept of toleration and its scope in contemporary liberal democratic societies. Editors Melissa S. Williams and Jeremy Waldron carefully compiled essays that address the tradition's key historical figures; its role in the development and evolution of Western political theory; its relation to morality, liberalism, and identity; and its limits and dangers. -/- Contributors: Lawrence A. Alexander, Kathryn Abrams, Wendy Brown, Ingrid Creppell, Noah Feldman, Rainer Forst, David Heyd, Glyn Morgan, Glen Newey, Michael A. Rosenthal, Andrew Sabl, Steven D. Smith, and Alex Tuckness. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘ p and I do not believe that p ’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a (...) form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it must explain why Moorean beliefs are irrational yet, according to Chan, their grammatical third-person transpositions are not, even though the same proposition is believed. But the solution can only explain this asymmetry by relying on a formulation of the ground of the irrationality of Moorean beliefs that presupposes precisely such asymmetry. I reply that it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the irrationality that the contents of Moorean beliefs be restricted to the grammatical first-person. What has to be explained is rather that such grammatical non-first-person transpositions sometimes, but not always, result in the disappearance of irrationality. Describing this phenomenon requires the grammatical first-person/non-first person distinction. The pragmatic solution explains the phenomenon once it is formulated in de se terms. But the grammatical first-person/non-first-person distinction is independent of, and a fortiori, different from, the de se /non- de se distinction presupposed by pragmatic solution, although both involve the first person broadly construed. Therefore the pragmatic solution is not circular. Building on the work of Green and Williams I also distinguish between the irrationality of Moorean beliefs and their absurdity. I argue that while all irrational Moorean beliefs are absurd, some Moorean beliefs are absurd but not irrational. I explain this absurdity in a way that is not circular either. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Buddhist funeral cultures of Southeast Asia and China Patrice Ladwig and Paul Williams; 2. Chanting as 'bricolage technique': a comparison of South and Southeast Asian funeral recitation Rita Langer; 3. Weaving life out of death: the craft of the rag robe in Cambodian ritual technology Erik W. Davis; 4. Corpses and cloth: illustrations of the pasukula ceremony in Thai manuscripts M. L. Pattaratorn Chirapravati; 5. Good death, bad death and ritual restructurings: the New Year (...) ceremonies of the Phunoy in northern Laos Vanina Boute;; 6. Feeding the dead: ghosts, materiality and merit in a Lao Buddhist festival for the deceased Patrice Ladwig; 7. Funeral rituals, bad death and the protection of social space among the Arakanese (Burma) Alexandra de Mersan; 8. Theatre of death and rebirth: monks' funerals in Burma François Robinne; 9. From bones to ashes: the Teochiu management of bad death in China and overseas Bernard Formoso; 10. For Buddhas, families and ghosts: the transformation of the Ghost Festival into a Dharma assembly in southeast China Ingmar Heise; 11. Xianghua foshi (incense and flower Buddhist rites): a local Buddhist funeral ritual tradition in southeastern China Yik Fai Tam; 12. Buddhist passports to the other world: a study of modern and early medieval Chinese Buddhist mortuary documents Frederick Shih-Chung Chen. (shrink)
Japan and the Enemies of Open Political Science argues that Eurocentric blindness is a scientific failing, not a moral one. In a way true of no other political system, Japan's greatness has the potential to enliven and reform almost all the main branches of Western Political Science. David Williams criticizes Western social science, Anglo-American Philosophy and French Theory and explains why mainstream economists, historians of political thought and postculturalists have ignored Japan's modern achievements. Williams demonstrates why the renewal (...) of social science and the nurturing of a "a philosophy of the Pacific Century" requires a sustained act of intellectual demolition. (shrink)
David Williams explores the complex links between Condorcet as visionary ideologist and pragmatic legislator, and between his concept of modernity and the management of change. The Marquis de Condorcet was one of the few Enlightenment thinkers to witness and participate in the French Revolution. Based on an extensive array of printed and original manuscript sources, Williams' analysis of Condorcet's politics will be a major contribution to Enlightenment studies.
PC Wars: Politics and Theory in the Academy addresses the very issue of political correctness and the current skirmishes in the culture wars. It includes statements from many of our leading contemporary public intellectuals, including Joan Wallach Scott, Michael Be;rube;, Bruce Robbins, Henry Giroux, and Gerald Graff. The collection marks a watershed in the debate about "pc" in that it presents serious considerations and analyses of the factors, causes, and consequences of the culture wars. Carefully examining the construction of "pc," (...) PC Wars analyses political correctness by focusing on the mass media, class politics, and the ideology of managerial democracy. It places the disputes around "pc" in the context of contemporary developments in critical and cultural theory and the current backlash against theory, manifested in the recent attacks on Marxism, feminism and deconstruction. The book also scrutinizes the undercurrents of anti-intellectualism and anti-professionalism which have tended to create a fertile ground for the "pc" hysteria. Offering much more than slogans and slinging arrows, PC Wars provides a spirited and critical look at the reaction, ideology, and political forces that have coalesced around the term. Contributors: Michael Be;rube;, Reed Way Dasenbrock, Frank Farmer, Henry Giroux, Gerald Graff, Darlene Hantzis and Devoney Looser, John S. Howard and James M. Lang, Tom Lewis, James Neilson, Christopher Newfield, Richard Ohmann, Burce Robbins, Barry Sarchett, Joan W. Scott, Michael Sprinker, Jeffrey Williams. (shrink)
This book demonstrates that law can be newly interrogated when examined through the lens of literature. Like its forerunner, Empty Justice, the book creates simple pathways which energise and illustrate the links between legal theory and legal science and doctrine, through the wider visions of history, literature and culture. This broadening approach is integral to understanding law in the context of wider debates and media in the community. The book provides a collection of essays, with additional commentary which reflects upon (...) very recent scholarship and debate on a range of ethico-legal topics; it also illustrates how conventional legal matters may be rendered lively and palatable, as an adjunct to approaching doctrine and cases 'cold' in the conventional textbook manner. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. (shrink)
This book explores the tradition of the 'science of man' in French medicine of the era 1750-1850, focusing on controversies about the nature of the 'physical-moral' relation and their effects on the role of medicine in French society. Its chief purpose is to recover the history of a holistic tradition in French medicine that has been neglected because it lay outside the mainstream themes of modern medicine, which include experimental, reductionist, and localistic conceptions of health and disease. Professor Williams (...) also challenges existing historiography, which argues that the 'anthropological' approach to medicine was a short-term by-product of the leftist politics of the French Revolution. This work argues instead that the medical science of man long outlived the Revolution, that it spanned traditional ideological divisions, and that it reflected the shared aim of French physicians, whatever their politics, to claim broad cultural authority in French society. (shrink)
In Morality Bernard Williams confronts the problems of writing moral philosophy, and offers a stimulating alternative to more systematic accounts which seem nevertheless to have left all the important issues somewhere off the page.
The Architecture of Theology presents a fresh reading of Christian theology, re-interpreting discussions of theological method and considering them in light of contemporary philosophical debates. A. N. Williams re-evaluates the traditional theological warrants (scripture, tradition, and reason) and the concept of systematic theology, arguing that Christian theology is inherently systematic, reflecting the rationality and relationality of its two chief subjects, 'God and other things as they are related to God'(Aquinas). The roles of the theological warrants are assessed, showing how (...) they are necessarily interdependent. Contemporary philosophical discussions of the structure of reasoning are also examined; these have conventionally contrasted foundationalist and coherentist accounts. A contemporary consensus has emerged, however, of a chastened foundationalism or hybrid foundationalism-coherentism, in light of which arguments are understood both as reasoning from foundational propositions and as gaining plausibility from the coherence of claims with one another. -/- The Christian tradition anticipated these developments: theological arguments exhibit a dual structure, with propositions underwritten to some extent by their dependence on scripture and tradition and to some extent by their coherence with one another in integrated webs, or systems. Christian theology is therefore shown to be systematic in its fundamental structure, whether or not a given argument forms part of a 'systematic theology'. The systematicity of Christian theology is related to its subject matter, 'God and other things as they are related to God'. Theology's two chief subjects (God and humanity) are characterised by rationality and relationality. These are also the qualities of Christian theology itself: it is a double mimesis, reflecting in its very structures of reasoning its subject matter. -/- The order, harmony and coherence of those structures, however, have an aesthetic appeal which has the potential to appeal for its very beauty, rather than its truth. Williams presents a careful examination of the tradition of theological aesthetics, asking whether the beauty of systematic structures counts for or against theological truth. (shrink)
"In this exceptionally brilliant book, ranging effortlessly from Herodotus and Thucydides to Diderot and Nietzsche, Bernard Williams daringly asks--and still more daringly answers--one of the central questions of philosophy: what is the ...
This collection, by one of the most challenging of contemporary thinkers, asks the question: why are there several arts and not just one? This question focuses on the point of maximal tension between the philosophical tradition and contemporary thinking about the arts: the relation between the plurality of the human senses and sense or meaning in general. Throughout the five essays, Nancy's argument hinges on the culminating formulation of this relation in Hegel's Aesthetics and The Phenomenology of Spirit - (...) art as the sensible presentation of the Idea. He considers the emergence of art as presentation rather than representation and looks at the contemporary situation of art, and the question of whether art today is still art. Other essays provide intricate and compelling readings of Caravaggio's Death of the Virgin and an analysis of a traced hand in the grotto of Lascaux as the essential mimetic gesture. (shrink)
This work, by two of the most innovative and challenging of contemporary thinkers, pivots on a Remark added by Hegel in 1831 to the second edition of his Science of Logic. As a model of close reading applied both to philosophical texts and the making of philosophical systems, The Speculative Remark played a significant role in transforming the practice of philosophy away from system building to analysis of specific linguistic detail, with meticulous attention to etymological, philological, and rhetorical nuance. The (...) authors use their extended examination of the Remark to delineate certain overall strategies in several Hegelian texts that militate for language-oriented readings of Hegel, as shown in Nancy's redefinition of such key terms as aufhebung, mediation, and speculation. (shrink)
Philosophers have met with many problems in discussing the interconnected concepts being, identity, and truth, and have advanced many theories to deal with them. Williams argues that most of these problems and theories result from an inadequate appreciation of the ways in which the words "be," "same," and "true" work. By means of linguistic analysis he shows that being and truth are not properties, and identity is not a relation. He is thus able to demystify a number of metaphysical (...) issues concerning the meaning of the word "I," the relation between the mental and the physical, objects of thought, times and places, and the nature of reality. Williams presents his views clearly, with a minimum of technicality, and with rich and apt examples, so that they will be accessible to readers not versed in symbolic logic. (shrink)
Inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars, Michael Williams launches an all-out attack on what he calls "phenomenalism," the idea that our knowledge of the world rests on a perceptual or experiential foundation. The point of this wider-than-normal usage of the term "phenomenalism," according to which even some forms of direct realism deserve to be called phenomenalistic, is to call attention to important continuities of thought between theories often thought to be competitors. Williams's target is not phenomenalism in (...) its classical sense-datum and reductionist form but empiricism generally. Williams examines and rejects the idea that, unless our beliefs are answerable to a "given" element in experience, objective knowledge will be impossible. Groundless Belief was first published in 1977. This second edition contains a new afterword in which Williams places his arguments in the context of some current discussions of coherentism versus the Myth of the Given and explains their relation to subsequent developments in his own epistemological views. (shrink)
Father Williams explains how the conscience is formed through our training and experiences and informed by the Holy Spirit, making it an essential tool for daily living. He uses familiar and surprising characters to illustrate the positive choices conscience can direct--and the disaster that results when a conscience is undeveloped or ignored. Questions he tackles include "Is it more important to be smart or good?""Is there a morally right thing to do in every situation?" and "Is the Christian moral (...) life an exciting adventure, or a necessary burden?" Rich, provocative, and practical for everyday decision making, KNOWING RIGHT FROM WRONG is a must-read for all who hunger for personal holiness. (shrink)
Following a comparative study of canonical liberal philosophers Hayek and Rawls, Juliet Williams reveals a new direction for conceptualizing limited government in the twenty-first century, highlighting the central role that democratic politics--rather than philosophical principles--should play in determining the uses and limits of state power in a liberal regime. Williams draws on recent scholarship in the field of democratic theory and cultural studies in arguing for a shift in the ways liberals approach the study of politics.
What is epistemology or 'the theory of knowledge'? What is it really about? Why does it matter? What makes theorising about knowledge 'philosophical'? Why do some philosophers argue that epistemology - perhaps even philosophy itself - is dead? In this exciting and original introduction, Michael Williams shows how epistemological theorizing is sensitive to a range of questions about the nature, limits, methods, and value of knowing. He pays special attention to the challenge of philosophical scepticism: does our 'knowledge' rest (...) on brute assumptions? Does the rational outlook undermine itself? -/- Williams explains and criticises all the main contemporary philopsophical perspectives on human knowledge, such as foundationalism, the coherence theory, and 'naturalistic' theories. As an alternative to all of them, he defends his distinctive contextualist approach. While accessible to the undergraduate and general reader, this book contains Williams' own original ideas and is essential reading for all philosophers concerned with the theory of knowledge. (shrink)
The concept of identity has been seen to lead to a paradox: we cannot truly and usefully say that a thing is the same either as itself or as something else. Williams here examines this paradox in philosophical logic, and its implications for the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and relativism about identity.
Central to discussion of supervaluationist accounts of vagueness is the extent to which they require revisions of classical logic and if so, whether those revisions are objectionable. In an important recent Journal of Philosophy article, J.R.G. Williams presents a powerful challenge to the orthodox view that supervaluationism is objectionably revisionary. Williams argues both that supervaluationism is non-revisionary and that even if it were, those revisions would be unobjectionable. This note shows that his arguments for both claims fail.
When a person gives up an end of crucial importance to her in order to promote a moral aim, we regard her as having made a moral sacrifice. The paper analyzes these sacrifices in light of some of Bernard Williams’ objections to Kantian and Utilitarian accounts of them. Williams argues that an implausible consequence of these theories is that that we are expected to sacrifice projects that make our lives worth living and contribute to our integrity. Williams’ (...) arguments about integrity and meaning are shown to be unconvincing when the content of projects is left open. However, a look at his later arguments suggests a reason to be concerned about defensible ethical projects as understood through what he refers to as “the morality system”. The problem for theories of this type turns out to be not merely conflicts between ethical projects and moral demands but making sense of some of the ethically relevant features of these projects. Accommodations to moral theories that leave room for ethical projects may be insufficient to explain such features, for example in cases where agents demand more of themselves than the theories require. Making the theories more demanding is also problematic. Williams’ view about the role ethics plays in our conception of the life we want to lead provides a better account of these cases. (shrink)
As a response to what I see as the challenge posed by constructivist and narrative pedagogies, this paper seeks to sympathetically reconstruct Bernard Williams' Absolute Conception from the scattered texts in which he briefly sketched it. While ultimately defending the Absolute Conception or something close enough to it, the paper criticizes and distances itself from some aspects of Williams' version, notably his conception of philosophy as insurmountably perspectival. Williams' understanding of perspectival knowledge as contrasted to absolute knowledge (...) is illustrated with the concrete, if fictional case of the Dr Manhattan character from Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009). Adrian Moore's reading, and Hilary Putnam's criticisms of Williams' Absolute Conception are amongst the positions engaged with. (shrink)
In this article, using the recent work by Charles Taylor in A Secular Age as my point of departure, I will argue that Jean-Luc Nancy enables us to think past the competing binary of atheistic and religious experience and allows us to surpass the present narratives of secularism. In A Secular Age, Taylor himself seeks a middle ground between atheism and religion, arguing that it is possible to open ourselves to the cross-pressures of modern existence that find us caught (...) between scientific atheism and a need for spiritual and religious guidance. Here, Taylor finds a way of picturing ourselves within a secular age, remaining faithful to scientific rationalism, but still open to religion and a sense of a higher good. However, as I shall demonstrate, in his thesis Taylor misrepresents the Continental philosophical tradition (particularly Nietzsche and post-structuralism) that has itself sought to understand these cross-pressures of existence. Taking this misrepresentation, and specifically his reductive and colloquial analysis of Nietzsche, Camus, and Derrida, as my point of departure, I provide an alternative manner of thinking through the work of these writers, one that leads to a detailed analysis of Jean-Luc Nancy and his project the deconstruction of Christianity. In this analysis I argue that Nancy provides a manner of thinking that remains open and allows an experience of freedom, without seeking to close that sense of openness with explanation, nor maintaining that sense of openness with a conception of the divine. (shrink)
This essay proposes to read Jean-Luc Nancy’s references to creation ex nihilo as both an intervention in the French debate concerning eventness, and as a transformative rethinking of the status of phenomenality. Nancy’s position is roughly triangulated relative to key remarks from other thinkers and, above all, its distinctive components (temporality, negativity, spatiality) are elucidated through historical glosses. Articulating the overall architecture of this theory serves to illustrate the Heideggerian access to the event debate. It also deepens aspects (...) only elliptically alluded to in Nancy’s own writing. (shrink)
O artigo apresenta os argumentos centrais da política deliberativa de Jürgen Habermas (1), e as perspectivas críticas de Axel Honneth (2) e Nancy Fraser (3) de forma a conferir à política habermasiana uma dimensão mais realista, um conteúdo político de vínculo mais concreto com a orientação emancipatória da práxis, e capaz de lidar melhor com a diferença, a diversidade e o conflito.
Nancy Cartwright is one of the most distinguished and influential contemporary philosophers of science. Despite the profound impact of her work, until now there has not been a systematic exposition of Cartwright's philosophy of science nor a collection of articles that contains in-depth discussions of the major themes of her philosophy. This book is devoted to a critical assessment of Cartwright's philosophy of science and contains contributions from Cartwright's champions and critics. Broken into three parts, the book begins by (...) addressing Cartwright's views on the practice of model building in science and the question of how models represent the world before moving on to a detailed discussion of methodologically and metaphysically challenging problems. Finally, the book addresses Cartwright's original attempts to clarify profound questions concerning the metaphysics of science. With contributions from leading scholars, such as Ronald N. Giere and Paul Teller, this unique volume will be extremely useful to philosophers of science the world over. (shrink)
William James' Radical Empiricist essays offer a unique and powerful argument for direct realism about our perceptions of objects. This theory can be completed with some observations by Kant on the intellectual preconditions for a perceptual judgment. Finally James and Kant deliver a powerful blow to the representational theory of perception and knowledge, which applies quite broadly to theories of representation generally.
What I have tried to do is elicit and disarm the motivations most likely to give rise to the [counterexamples to the principle crucial to Williams' argument]. Only one of these motivations is still viable: the instrumentalist theory of practical reasoning. But because internalism and instrumentalism are, as it has turned out, so very tightly linked, in disarming the motivations for the objection, I have also inventoried, and given reason to reject, what I have found to be the most (...) common conversationally adduced defences of instrumentalism: the appeals to imagination, to dispositional desires, and so on. The issue remaining from the debate over internalism turns out to be whether [instrumentalism is false---i.e. whether] there are patterns of practical inference that are not directed toward the satisfaction of desire. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is a sceptic about the objectivity of moral value, embracing instead a qualified moral relativism—the ‘relativism of distance’. His attitude to blame too is in part sceptical (he thought it often involved a certain ‘fantasy’). I will argue that the relativism of distance is unconvincing, even incoherent; but also that it is detachable from the rest of Williams's moral philosophy. I will then go on to propose an entirely localized thesis I call the relativism of blame, (...) which says that when an agent's moral shortcomings by our lights are a matter of their living according to the moral thinking of their day, judgements of blame are out of order. Finally, I will propose a form of moral judgement we may sometimes quite properly direct towards historically distant agents when blame is inappropriate—moral-epistemic disappointment. Together these two proposals may help release us from the grip of the idea that moral appraisal always involves the potential applicability of blame, and so from a key source of the relativist idea that moral appraisal is inappropriate over distance. (shrink)
Taking his critique of totalitarianizing conceptions of community as a starting point, this text examines Jean-Luc Nancy's work of an "ontology of plural singular being" for its political implications. It argues that while at first this ontology seems to advocate a negative or an anti-politics only, it can also be read as a "theory of communicative praxis" that suggests a certain ethos - in the form of a certain use of symbols (which is expressed only inaptly by the word (...) "style") that would render the ontological plurality of singulars perceptible and practically effective. Finally, some recent texts by Nancy even sidestep the ontology of being-with and face the question of what politics, faced with demands of justice, could be and what a democratic politics could provide. Both of these aspects in Nancy's work, however, still remain to be spelled out more politically. (shrink)
Virtue ethics is now well established as a substantive, independent normative theory. It was not always so. The revival of virtue ethics was initially spurred by influential criticisms of other normative theories, especially those made by Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, John McDowell, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Bernard Williams. 1 Because of this heritage, virtue ethics is often associated with anti-theory movements in ethics and more recently, moral particularism. There are, however, quite a few different approaches to ethics that can reasonably (...) claim to be versions of virtue ethics. The predominant strand of virtue ethics is broadly Aristotelian, although some accounts bear little resemblance to Aristotle's. In its most general form, virtue ethics is compatible with a wide range of meta-ethical and normative commitments. This diversity makes it difficult to compare virtue ethics as such with other normative theories. It can also be a challenge to see just what the various versions of virtue ethics have in common with each other. Three major types of virtue ethics are represented in the books by Rosalind Hursthouse, Michael Slote, and Christine Swanton, recommended in the following section. Each of these book sets forward a considerably self-standing form of virtue ethics. The authors differ on central issues such as the relationship between virtue and flourishing and the link between virtuous agents and right or virtuous actions. Unlike Swanton and Slote, Hursthouse defends a version of ethical naturalism that has affinities with theories recently defended by Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre. 2 Slote's theory is agent-based, meaning that his account derives judgments about the moral status of actions from moral features of agents. Hursthouse and Swanton defend theories according to which the moral status of an action depends on its broader relationship to human flourishing (Hursthouse) or whether it hits the target of a virtue (Swanton). Although these three books presently form the core of contemporary virtue ethics, there are other approaches that might reasonably be described as versions of virtue ethics, such as those presented by Julia Driver, Linda Zagzebski, and Robert Adams. 3 There are also, of course, a large number of articles in which authors defend or criticize tenets that are central to most versions of virtue ethics. Some recent articles on especially important topics are listed in the following section. Current 'hot topics' in virtue ethics include whether its account of right action is adequate and whether virtue ethics is at odds with empirical psychology. Articles on these debates and others are listed in the following section. Author Recommends: Books These three books are foundational works in contemporary virtue ethics, and represent quite different approaches to virtue ethics. For each book, I have also listed an article by the same author in which he or she articulates some similar themes. Those pressed for time or space on a syllabus might start by examining those articles. 1. Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Hursthouse defends a eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics with Aristotelian affinities. *See also Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Normative Virtue Ethics.' How Should One Live? Ed. Roger Crisp. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. 19–36. 2. Slote, Michael. Morals from Motives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Slote defends a version of virtue ethics based on evaluations of motives, drawing on historical figures like Martineau, Hutcheson, and Hume. Note that this book represents a fairly significant departure from his first book in virtue ethics, From Morality to Virtue (New York: Oxford, 1992). *See also Slote, Michael. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.' Virtue Ethics . Ed. Roger Crisp and Michael Slote. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 3. Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Swanton defends a pluralistic, non-eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics that draws on influences ranging from Aristotle to Nietzsche to contemporary psychoanalytic theory. *See also Swanton, Christine. 'A Virtue Ethical Account of Right Action.' Ethics 112 (2001): 32–52. Articles The following is a selection of articles that address some of the central and controversial topics within virtue ethics. 1. Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing.' Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 78.2 (2004): 61–75. This article addresses the problem of action guidance and the role that an account of right action should play in virtue ethics. 2. Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of the Ethics of Virtue.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Eds. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 83–96. This article articulates the central problems faced by versions of virtue ethics that rely on a conception of human flourishing. 3. Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2003): 324–39. This article raises objections about insularity and circularity to accounts of right action presented by Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton. 4. Doris, John M. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics.' Nous 32 (1998): 504–30. This article argues that situationist psychology undermines the concept of a character trait on which virtue ethicists rely. An expanded version of this criticism can be found in Doris, Lack of Character, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 5. Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Virtue Theory and Abortion.' Philosophy and Public Affairs 20.3 (1991): 223–46. This article argues that virtue ethics is capable of providing action guidance in the difficult problem of abortion. 6. Johnson, Robert N. 'Virtue and Right.' Ethics 113 (2003): 810–34. This article raises several objections against the accounts of right action in virtue ethics, one of which is that they cannot make sense of the rightness of self-improving actions. The criticism is directly primarily at Hursthouse's theory, but Swanton and Slote are discussed as well. 7. Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character.' Ethics 114 (2004): 458–91. This article argues that situationist critiques of virtue ethics rely on a mistaken understanding of virtuous character. 8. Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers.' Philosophical Studies 109 (2002): 197– 222. This article argues for an ideal observer-style account of right action in virtue ethics. 9. Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Ed. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 32–53. This article presents a view of the virtues on which the virtues are excellences in spheres of activity. Although the spheres are common to all humans, the manifestation of excellence in a given sphere is subject to cultural variation. 10. Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution.' Mind 111 (2002): 47–68. This article addresses the situationist critique of character traits by arguing that virtue ethics does not depend on the concept of a character trait as Doris and others understand it. 11. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics.' Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2008): 665–78. This article addresses the relationship between virtue ethics and radical moral particularism, arguing that the latter may have undesirable consequences for virtue ethicists unless they accept the unity of the virtues. 12. Stohr, Karen. 'Contemporary Virtue Ethics.' Philosophy Compass 1.1 (January 2006): 22–7. This article provides an overview and analysis of contemporary virtue ethics. It includes discussion of main problems and challenges for the future. 13. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue.' Journal of Ethics 7 (2003): 339–63. This article raises problems for the commonly accepted distinction between virtue and continence, arguing that the mixed emotions normally associated with continence are sometimes characteristic of virtue instead. 14. van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 50–69. This article defends agent-based virtue ethics against objections that it cannot distinguish agent-appraisal from act-appraisal and that it cannot provide adequate action guidance. Anthologies 1. Crisp, Roger, ed. How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. This is one of the first virtue ethics anthologies published, and so reflects a correspondingly earlier picture of the field. The essays, however, are important and interesting in their own right, and cover a broad array of topics. 2. Crisp, Roger and Michael Slote, eds. Virtue Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. This anthology was published over a decade ago and does not capture recent developments in the field. It is, however, an admirably thorough collection of the most influential essays from the early days of virtue ethics, both promoting and criticizing it. 3. Darwall, Stephen, ed. Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. This anthology is distinctive in that it includes material from Aristotle, Hutcheson, and Hume, along with some central contemporary sources. 4. Walker, Rebecca L. and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. Working Virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. This recent anthology focuses on applied virtue ethics and has an excellent selection of essays by influential thinkers on topics including the environment, business, medicine, war, and poverty. Online Sources 'Virtue Ethics', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/ Entry written by Rosalind Hursthouse and updated in 2007. 'Bibliography on Virtue Ethics', maintained by Jörg Schroth. http://www.ethikseite.de/bib/cvirtue.pdf Extensive list of work published in virtue ethics. Updated regularly, listed in both alphabetical and chronological order, and contains abstracts of papers. 'Janusblog', maintained by Guy Axtell. http://janusblog.squarespace.com/ Blog devoted to current work in virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, although with an emphasis on the latter. It contains spirited discussion among the many contributors, as well as a library of papers. Sample Syllabus This syllabus is for a graduate seminar or intense upper-level undergraduate course. Books for purchase for this course might include the Crisp and Slote anthology, the Walker and Ivanhoe anthology, and Hursthouse's On Virtue Ethics. Week 1: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Anscombe, Elizabeth. 'Modern Moral Philosophy' (Crisp and Slote) Foot, Philippa. 'Virtues and Vices' (Crisp and Slote) MacIntyre, Alasdair. 'The Nature of the Virtues' (Crisp and Slote) Week 2: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Stocker, Michael. 'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories' (Crisp and Slote) Williams, Bernard. 'Morality, the Peculiar Institution' (Crisp and Slote) McDowell, John. 'Virtue and Reason' (Crisp and Slote) Week 3: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part I Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Practical Wisdom: A Mundane Account.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106.3 (2006): 283–307. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics' Week 4: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part II Stark, Susan. 'Virtue and Emotion.' Nous 33.5 (2001): 440–55. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue' Week 5: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part III Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of an Ethics of Virtue' Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach' MacIntyre, Alasdair. Dependent Rational Animals, chapter 10 Week 6: Agent-Based Virtue Ethics Slote, Michael 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics' (Crisp and Slote) Slote, Michael, Morals from Motives, chapters 1 and 3 Week 7: Pluralistic Virtue Ethics Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View , chapters 3, 4, and 11. Week 8: The Situationist Critique of Virtue Ethics Doris, John. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics' Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character' Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution' Merritt, Maria. 'Aristotelian Virtue and the Interpersonal Aspect of Ethical Character.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 23–49. Week 11: Right Action – Problems Johnson, Robert. 'Virtue and Right' Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action' Week 12: Right Action – Virtue Ethics Solutions Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing' van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance' Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers' Week 13: Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles Pelligrino, Edmund. 'Professing Medicine, Virtue Based Ethics, and the Retrieval of Professionalism' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Swanton, Christine. 'Virtue Ethics, Role Ethics, and Business Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Sherman, Nancy. 'Virtue and a Warrier's Anger' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Week 14: Virtue Ethics and the Non-Human World Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Environmental Virtue Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Walker, Rebecca. 'The Good Life for Non-Human Animals: What Virtue Requires of Humans' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Focus Questions 1. What is the relationship between virtue and flourishing? Are the virtues necessary for flourishing? Sufficient? 2. Can virtue ethics provide an adequate account of right action? 3. On what concept of a character trait does virtue ethics rely, and does situationist psychology undermine it? 4. Is the project of ethical naturalism a plausible one? To what extent does the success of Aristotelian virtue ethics depend on it? 5. How does virtue ethics affect the way that applied ethics is done? (shrink)
In ‘Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline,’ Williams is mistaken in thinking that I accused him of thinking that that we can describe the world ‘as it is anyway’ without using concepts. Our real disagreement is over whether it makes sense to think that the concepts of physics do this. The central issue is this: the notion of ‘absoluteness’ is defined using at least one semantical notion (‘convergence’). If Williams' view is to work, I argue, at least one semantical (...) notion needs to be absolute. But Williams himself concedes that semantical notions cannot be reduced to physical ones, and the ‘absolute conception’ is supposed to be given in terms of primary qualities alone. (shrink)
In this essay I consider the argument that Bernard Williams advances in ‘The Makropolus Case’ for the meaninglessness of immortality. I also consider various counter-arguments. I suggest that the more clearly these counter-arguments are targeted at the spirit of Williams's argument, rather than at its letter, the less clearly they pose a threat to it. I then turn to Nietzsche, whose views about the eternal recurrence might appear to make him an opponent of Williams. I argue that, (...) properly interpreted, these views in fact make him an ally. (shrink)
Derrida has been perennially concerned with hands and touching. This interest finds its most concentrated form in On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. This text outlines a number of concerns Derrida has in that book which might be extrapolated as exemplary of Derrida's reading strategies in general. It concludes with a consideration of what is revealed about the Derrida-Nancy relationship in this book.
Continental philosophy over the past two decades has increasingly turned its attention to social and political matters. Two key figures involved in this move, Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben, have advanced a position centering on the idea of singular community . This article sets out the basic features of this idea and contrasts it with Habermas' theory of communicative or dialogical community . Habermas is open to the criticism that his theory of community is constructed according to an unduly (...) narrow construal of legitimate argumentation and democratic participation. The idea of community advanced by Nancy and Agamben, in contrast, appears to lack any credible criteria of community inclusion or identity. In conclusion, it is suggested that both theories of community fall short by neglecting the task of constructing and preserving actual sites of collective democratic action and resistance. (shrink)
The thirty-three essays in <I>Relativism: A Contemporary Anthology</I> grapple with one of the most intriguing, enduring, and far-reaching philosophical problems of our age. Relativism comes in many varieties. It is often defined as the belief that truth, goodness, or beauty is relative to some context or reference frame, and that no absolute standards can adjudicate between competing reference frames. Michael Krausz's anthology captures the significance and range of relativistic doctrines, rehearsing their virtues and vices and reflecting on a spectrum of (...) attitudes. Invoking diverse philosophical orientations, these doctrines concern conceptions of relativism in relation to facts and conceptual schemes, realism and objectivity, universalism and foundationalism, solidarity and rationality, pluralism and moral relativism, and feminism and poststructuralism. Featuring nine original essays, the volume also includes many classic articles, making it a standard resource for students, scholars, and researchers. <B>Table of Contents:</B> Foreword by Alan Ryan Preface Introduction Michael Krausz <B>Part I. Orienting Relativism</B> 1. Mapping Relativisms Michael Krausz 2. A Brief History of Relativism Maria Baghramian <B>Part II. Relativism, Truth, and Knowledge</B> 3. Subjective, Objective, and Conceptual Relativisms Maurice Mandelbaum 4. “Just the Facts, Ma’am!” Nelson Goodman 5. Relativism in Philosophy of Science Nancy Cartwright 6. The Truth About Relativism Joseph Margolis 7. Making Sense of Relative Truth John MacFarlane 8. On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme Donald Davidson 9. Truth and Convention: On Davidson’s Refutation of Conceptual Relativism Hilary Putnam 10. Conceptual Schemes Simon Blackburn 11. Relativizing the Facts Paul A. Boghossian 12. Targets of Anti-Relativist Arguments Harvey Siegel 13. Realism and Relativism Akeel Bilgrami <B>Part III. Moral Relativism, Objectivity, and Reasons</B> 14. Moral Relativism Defended Gilbert Harman 15. The Truth in Relativism Bernard Williams 16. Pluralism and Ambivalence David B. Wong 17. The Relativity of Fact and the Objectivity of Value Catherine Z. Elgin 18. Senses of Moral Relativity David Wiggins 19. Ethical Relativism and the Problem of Incoherence David Lyons 20. Understanding Alien Morals Gopal Sreenivasan 21. Value: Realism and Objectivity Thomas Nagel 22. Intuitionism, Realism, Relativism, and Rhubarb Crispin Wright 23. Moral Relativism and Moral Realism Russ Schafer-Landau <B>Part IV. Relativism, Culture, and Understanding</B> 24. Anti Anti-Relativism Clifford Geertz 25. Solidarity or Objectivity? Richard Rorty 26. Relativism, Power, and Philosophy Alasdair MacIntyre 27. Internal Criticism and Indian Rationalist Traditions Martha C. Nussbaum and Amartya Sen 28. Phenomenological Rationality and the Overcoming of Relativism Jitendra N. Mohanty 29. Understanding and Ethnocentricity Charles Taylor 30. Relativism and Cross-Cultural Understanding Kwame Anthony Appiah 31. Relativism, Persons, and Practices Amélie Oksenberg Rorty 32. One What? Relativism and Poststructuralism David Couzens Hoy 33. Must a Feminist Be a Relativist After All? Lorraine Code List of Contributors Index. (shrink)
An important shift occurs in Martin Heidegger’s thinking one year after the publication of Being and Time , in the Appendix to the Metaphysical Foundations of Logic . The shift is from his project of fundamental ontology—which provides an existential analysis of human existence on an ontological level—to metontology . Metontology is a neologism that refers to the ontic sphere of human experience and to the regional ontologies that were excluded from Being and Time. It is within metontology, Heidegger states, (...) that “the question of ethics may be raised for the first time.” This paper makes explicit both Heidegger’s argument for metontology , and the relation between metontology and ethics. In examining what he means by “the art of existing,” the paper argues that there is an ethical dimension to Heidegger’s thinking that corresponds to a moderate form of moral particularism. In order to justify this position, a comparative analysis is made between Heidegger, Aristotle, and Bernard Williams. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is one of the most influential figures in recent ethical theory, where he has set a considerable part of the current agenda. In this collection, a distinguished international team of philosophers who have been stimulated by Williams' work give new responses to it. The topics covered include equality, consistency, comparisons between science and ethics, integrity, moral reasons, the moral system, and moral knowledge. Williams himself then provides a substantial reply, which in turn shows both the (...) current directions of his own thought and also his present view of his earlier work (such as that on utilitarianism). (shrink)
: A central component of Bernard Williams' political realism is the articulation of a standard of legitimacy from within politics itself: LEG. This standard is presented as basic, inherent in all political orders and the best way to underwrite fundamental liberal principles particular to the modern state, including basic human rights. It does not require, according to Williams, a wider set of liberal values. In the following, I show that where Williams restricts LEG to generating only minimal (...) political protections, seeking to isolate his account of political legitimacy from a range of liberal principles, this is neither internal to, nor necessarily demanded by, the specifically political account of LEG. Instead, the limitation depends upon his wider ethical thought. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the role played by the 'categorical imperative' in the thought of Jean-Luc Nancy. I argue that, while this is a theme of major importance in Nancy's work, its overall significance is not immediately evident: on the surface, Nancy appears to be affirming the abstract exigency of the imperative while at the same time depriving it of any possible concrete force. I maintain, however, that a close reading of this theme in terms of (...) other crucial themes in Nancy's writing (namely: 'interruption' and the Heideggerian notion of 'Being-with' [Mitsein, être-avec]) reveals that Nancy's imperative does have concrete implications; indeed, it demands that we rethink the relation between responsibility and the concrete as such. Key Words: communication • community • Jacques Derrida • Martin Heidegger • imperative • Jean-Luc Nancy • responsibility. (shrink)
Michael Williams believes that scepticism about the externalworld seems compelling only because the considerations that underpin it are thoughtto be ``mere platitudes'''' about e.g., the nature and source of human knowledge, and hence,that if it shown through a ``theoretical diagnosis'''' that it does not rest upon suchplatitudes, but contentious theoretical considerations that we are no means bound toaccept, we can simply dismiss the absurd sceptical conclusion. Williams argues thatscepticism does presuppose two extremely contentious doctrines, however, he (...) admits thatif these doctrines are themselves motivated by ``platitudes'''' then scepticism follows. Iaddress Williams''s arguments for thinking scepticism must presuppose these doctrines,and argue that he overlooks a way that they can be seen as motivated by mere platitudes.Thus, I conclude that William''s novel rejection of scepticism fails. (shrink)
Nativists about syntactic processing have argued that linguisticprocessing, understood as the implementation of a rule-basedcomputational architecture, is spared in Williams syndrome, (WMS)subjects – and hence that it provides evidence for a geneticallyspecified language module. This argument is bolstered by treatingSpecific Language Impairments (SLI) and WMS as a developmental doubledissociation which identifies a syntax module. Neuroconstructivists haveargued that the cognitive deficits of a developmental disorder cannot beadequately distinguished using the standard gross behavioural tests ofneuropsychology and that the linguistic abilities of (...) the WMS subject canbe equally well explained by a constructivist strategy of neurallearning in the individual, with linguisitic functions implemented in anassociationist architecture. The neuroconstructivist interpretation ofWMS undermines the hypothesis of a double dissociation between SLI andWMS, leaving unresolved the question of nativism about syntax. Theapparent linguistic virtuosity of WMS subjects is an artefact ofenhanced phonological processing, a fact which is easier to demonstratevia the associationist computational model embraced byneuroconstructivism. (shrink)
Nancy Cartwright devotes half of her new book, Hunting Causes and Using Them, to critcizing "Bayes Net Methods"--as she calls them--and what she takes to be their assumptions. All of her critical claims are false or at best fractionally true. This paper reviews the literature she addresses but appears not to have met.
This paper compares Sartre's and Nancy's experience of the plurality of beings. After briefly discussing why Heidegger cannot provide such an experience, it analyzes the relation between the in-itself and for-itself in Sartre and between bodies and sense in Nancy in order to ask how this experience can be nauseating for Sartre, but meaningful for Nancy. First, it shows that the articulation of Being into beings is only a coat of veneer for Sartre while for Nancy (...) Being is necessarily plural. Then, it contrasts Nausea as an experience without language with Nancy's thinking of the excription of sense in the thing. (shrink)
Using the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy as an anchoring point, Jacques Derrida in this book conducts a profound review of the philosophy of the sense of touch, from Plato and Aristotle to Jean-Luc Nancy, whose ground-breaking book Corpus he discusses in detail. Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Didier Franck, Martin Heidegger, Francoise Dastur, and Jean-Louis Chre;tien are discussed, as are Rene; Descartes, Diderot, Maine de Biran, Fe;lix Ravaisson, Immanuel Kant, Sigmund Freud, and others. The scope of Derrida’s (...) deliberations makes this book a virtual encyclopedia of the philosophy of touch (and the body). Derrida gives special consideration to the thinking of touch in Christianity and, in discussing Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay “Deconstruction of Christianity,” devotes a section of the book to the sense of touch in the Gospels. Another section concentrates on “the flesh,” as treated by Merleau-Ponty and others in his wake. Derrida’s critique of intuitionism, notably in the phenomenological tradition, is one of the guiding threads of the book. On Touching includes a wealth of notes that provide an extremely useful bibliographical resource. Personal and detached all at once, this book, one of the first published in English translation after Jacques Derrida’s death, serves as a useful and poignant retrospective on the work of the philosopher. A tribute by Jean-Luc Nancy, written a day after Jacques Derrida’s death, is an added feature. (shrink)
Over the last two decades the work of Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben has attracted widespread attention both within philosophy and more broadly across the human sciences. Central to the thinking of Nancy and Agamben is a shared theory of community that offers a model of resistance to oppressive power through radical passivity. This article argues that this model inherits the inadequacies of Martin Heidegger’s attempts to conceptualize society and history. More specifically, Heidegger’s understanding of collective history in (...) terms of ‘destiny’ implicitly regulates the figure of community proposed by Nancy and Agamben. This alignment with the Heideggerian notion of destiny means that these later thinkers fail to offer a credible model of resistance in terms of concretely determined means of productive counter-practices. As a consequence the usefulness of the thinking of Nancy and Agamben as a conceptual framework for emancipatory politics is at best extremely limited. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the claim that any physical theory will have an extremely limited domain of application because 1) we have to use distinct theories to model different situations in the world and 2) no theory has enough textbook models to handle anything beyond a highly simplified situation. Against the first claim, I show that many examples used to bolster it are actually instances of application of the very same classical theory rather than disjoint theories. Thus, there is (...) a hidden unity to the world of classical physics that is usually overlooked (by, for example, Nancy Cartwright who argues for the claims above). Against the second claim, I show that the practice of classical physics involves an enormous (infinite) number of models the use of which cannot be written off as merely ad hoc. Thus, although classical physics cannot, of course, model every situation in nature, it has a much larger domain than some would have us believe. (shrink)
The author examines Williams' appraisal of Collingwood both in his eponymous essay on Collingwood, in the posthumously published Sense of the Past (2006), and elsewhere in his work. The similarities and differences between their philosophies are explored: in particular, with regard to the relationship between philosophy and history and the relationship between the study of history and our present-day moral attitudes. It is argued that, despite Williams usually being classified as an analytic philosopher and Collingwood being classified as (...) an idealist, there is substantial common ground between them. Williams was aware of this and made clear his sympathy for Collingwood; but, nonetheless, the relationship between Williams and Collingwood has not previously been explored in any detail. After establishing the common ground between these philosophers, and the areas of disagreement, the author suggests that both may have something to gain from the other. (shrink)
: Nancy J. Hirschmann presents a feminist, social constructionist account of women's freedom. Friedman's discussion of Hirschmann's account deals with (1) some conceptual problems facing a thoroughgoing social constructionism; (2) three ways to modify social constructionism to avoid those problems; and (3) an assessment of Hirschmann's version of social constructionism in light of the previous discussion.
This paper is a response to Professor Nancy Hudson’s paper “Divine Immanence: Nicholas of Cusa’s Understanding of Theophany and the Retrieval of a ‘New’ Model of God,” (Nancy Hudson, “Divine Immanence: Nicholas of Cusa’s Understanding of Theophany and the Retrieval of a ‘New’ Model of God,” Journal of Theological Studies 56.2 (October 2005): 450–470). The global ecological crisis has spawned intensive reflection about living in right relationship with the earth. Western Christian thought has received special scrutiny since modern (...) alienation from nature has been traced to Christian theology. Undiscovered within the mystical theology of Nicholas of Cusa lies an ecologically promising vision of nature. The concept of divine immanence presented by this medieval thinker provides a rich spirituality that is inclusive, rather than exclusive, of the natural world. It is also far more intimate than contemporary stewardship theology. Cusanus interprets theophany as divine self-expression. A series of striking metaphors, including God’s enfolding and unfolding, God as ‘Not-other’, and Christ as the contracted maximum, reveals a holistic spirituality. Nicholas of Cusa’s concept of divine immanence infuses the world with immeasurable value and gives rise to a Christian theology that can address the current ecological crisis. This paper was delivered during the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God in response to a presentation of Nancy Hudson’s “Divine Immanence.”. (shrink)
I am grateful that someone whose work I greatly admire could be the philosopher to so eloquently and succinctly cut to the heart of the problem that I posed in the previous issue of Deleuze Studies. James Williams' critical reply leaves me, prima facie, confronted by a stark alternative: either I have misunderstood Deleuze, or I have illustrated problems and lacunae in Deleuze. I will suggest, however, that this is a false alternative, and that Williams' and my divergent (...) accounts of The Logic of Sense – and even Deleuze's oeuvre as a whole – is better understood as a situation of ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’, and hence that my interpretation of Deleuze isn't wrong, but necessarily iconoclastic. (shrink)
For the purposes of analytical clarity it is possible to distinguish two ways in which Nancy's ontology of sense appeals to art. First, he uses 'art' as a metaphorical operator to give features to his ontology (such as surprise and wonder); second, the practice of the contemporary arts instruct the terms of his ontological project because, in his view, this practice catches up with the fragmentation of existence and thus informs ontology about the structure of existence today. These two (...) different roles—in which 'art' is both a general category able to stage the features of sense in general and a particularly striking example of the alteration sense undergoes in our times—make available for Nancy different perspectives on the question of sense. On the one hand, the general category of 'art' allows Nancy to construct a characterology of sense around terms such as surprise and novelty; on the other, the appeal to the fractal practice of the 'contemporary arts' supports the project of giving an account of sense.This paper analyses the effects on Nancy's conception of sense of these different appeals to 'art' and the practice of 'the contemporary arts.' Are the locales from which these different perspectives on sense take shape compatible? In what ways do they inflect each other or, alternatively, undermine the perspectives of the other on the question of sense? Finally, what do these two strands tell us about what Nancy expects of 'art' and what would happen to his ontology of sense without the different appeals he makes to it? (shrink)
Recently, Clifford Williams has attempted to argue for the plausibility of a Christian form of physicalism. To make his case, Williams appropriates certain claims by John Locke regarding the possibility of thinking matter to argue for what Williams calls the parity theses: (1) God can make matter and nonmatter either to think or not to think. Given God's omnipotence, the justification for (1) is: (2) there is no contradiction in asserting either that matter or nonmatter thinks or (...) that they do not think. If we expand thinking to include other morally and religiously relevant operations of the mind, then we get: (3) God can make either a purely material being or a nonmaterial entity to have moral and religious characteristics. From this, Williams infers that: (4) there is an equal amount of mystery in thinking matter as there is in non-thinking matter. In response to Williams, I argue that his main arguments for the parity theses fail and his Lockean style argument must be judged a failure. To show this I, first, state Williams' Lockean parity argument and, second, criticize the three arguments he offers for its most important premise. (shrink)
This text begins by considering the phrase ‘digital haptology’ as suggested by the closing pages of Derrida's Le Toucher. It suggests that this moment in telecommunications presents a model of ‘tele-haptology’. The text goes on to consider Jean-Luc Nancy's ‘Noli me tangere’ as a response to Le Toucher. In particular it is concerned with Nancy's hypothesis on Modern literature and art as having an essential link to the gospel parables. Through a reading of Nancy's text and the (...) gospels, this hypothesis is placed in doubt. Notably, the argument is made that once again Nancy's discourse on touching leads him to make a too hasty fore-closure of otherness within his intended deconstruction of reading and his account of Mary Magdalene. In response to Nancy's formulation of literature as parable, an alternative consideration of literature as tele-haptology is proposed. (shrink)