Venkataramanaiah, V. Introduction.--Narla, V. R. Russell and his rejection of religion.--Mehta, G. L. The sceptical crusader.--Dalvi, G. R. Russell, the man.--Venkatarao, V. The nuclear war and the future of man.--Innaiah, N. Bertrand Russell's philosophy.--Subbarayudu, P. Rationality vis-a-vis faith.--Nageswar Rao, B. Russell and nuclear warfare.--Rajagopala Rao, M. Rebel in Russell.--Shankar, G. N. J. The man who revolutionised modern thought.--Maharajasri. Russell, the social scientist in the four-dimensional universe.--The life of Bertrand Russell.--Acknowledgements.--A list of principal works (...) of Bertrand Russell.--Russell's conception of good society in a democratic socialist order.--Objects. (shrink)
In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of a compatibilist position--that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it overlooks the crucial role of moral sentiment in Hume's picture of human nature. Hume was concerned to describe the regular mechanisms which generate moral sentiments (...) such as responsibility, and Russell argues that his conception of free will must be interprted within this naturalistic framework. He goes on to discuss Hume's views about the nature and character of moral sentiment; the extent to which we have control over our moral character; and the justification of punishment. Throughout, Russell argues that the naturalistic avenue of interpretation of Hume's thought, far from draining it of its contemporary interest and significance, reveals it to be of great relevance to the ongoing contemporary debate. (shrink)
of (from British Columbia Philosophy Graduate Conference) This paper attempts to argue for an interpretation of Peter Strawson�s account of moral responsibility that successfully eliminates the threat of determinism. The goal is to capture the spirit of Strawson�s view and elucidate that spirit. I do this by emphasizing an aspect of Strawson�s account that others, like PaulRussell, may find insignificant, and then I demonstrate how this aspect is meant to quash the threat of determinism. Specifically, I claim (...) that Strawson wishes us to recognize that certain interpersonal relationships are explanatorily prior to the capacities necessary for morally responsible agency, and this explanatory relationship implies that (at least in our world) the capacities necessary for morally responsible agency could not include freedom from determinism. (shrink)
Although it is widely recognized that David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) belongs among the greatest works of philosophy, there is little agreement about the correct way to interpret his fundamental intentions. It is an established orthodoxy among almost all commentators that skepticism and naturalism are the two dominant themes in this work. The difficulty has been, however, that Hume's skeptical arguments and commitments appear to undermine and discredit his naturalistic ambition to contribute to "the science of man". (...) This schism appears to leave his entire project broken-backed. The solution to this riddle depends on challenging another, closely related, point of orthodoxy: namely, that before Hume published the Treatise he removed almost all material concerned with problems of religion. Russell argues, contrary to this view, that irreligious aims and objectives are fundamental to the Treatise and account for its underlying unity and coherence. It is Hume's basic anti-Christian aims and objectives that serve to shape and direct both his skeptical and naturalistic commitments. When Hume's arguments are viewed from this perspective we can solve, not only puzzles arising from his discussion of various specific issues, we can also explain the intimate and intricate connections that hold his entire project together. This "irreligious" interpretation provides a comprehensive fresh account of the nature of Hume's fundamental aims and ambitions in the Treatise. It also presents a radically different picture of the way in which HUme's project was rooted in the debates and controversies of his own time, placing the Treatise in an irreligious or anti-Chrisitan philosophical tradition that includes Hobbes, Spinoza and freethinking followers. Considered in these terms, Hume's Treatise constitutes the crowning achievement of the Radical Enlightenment. (shrink)
David Hume is widely recognized as providing the most influential statement of the “compatibilist” position in the free will debate — the view that freedom and moral responsibility can be reconciled with (causal) determinism. The arguments that Hume advances on this subject are found primarily in the sections titled “Of liberty and necessity”, as first presented in A Treatise of Human Nature (2.3.1-2) and, later, in a slightly amended form, in the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (sec. 8). Although there is (...) considerable overlap in content between these two statements of Hume's position, there are also some significant differences. This includes, for example, some substantial additions in the Enquiry discussion as it relates to problems of religion, such as predestination and divine foreknowledge. While these differences are certainly significant they should not be exaggerated. Hume's basic strategy and compatibilist commitments in both works remain the same in their essentials.. (shrink)
We are naturally social beings; and given with our natural commitment to social existence is a natural commitment to that whole web or structure of human personal and moral attitudes and feelings, and judgments of which I spoke. Our natural disposition to such attitudes and judgments is naturally secured against arguments suggesting they are in principle unwarranted or unjustified ….
Compatibilists argue, famously, that it is a simple incompatibilist confusion to suppose that determinism implies fatalism. Incompatibilists argue, on the contrary, that determinism implies fatalism, and thus cannot be consistent with the necessary conditions of moral responsibility. Despite their differences, however, both parties are agreed on one important matter: the refutation of fatalism is essential to the success of the compatibilist strategy. In this paper I argue that compatibilism requires a richer conception of fatalistic concern; one that recognizes the _legitimacy_ (...) of (pessimistic) concerns about the origination of character and conduct. On this basis I argue that any plausible compatibilist position must concede that determinism has fatalistic implications of some significant and relevant kind, and thus must allow that agents may be legitimately held responsible in circumstances where they are subject to fate. The position generated by these compatibilist concessions to incompatibilism will be called 'compatibilist-fatalism'. (shrink)
PaulRussell (2006). Practical Reason and Motivational Scepticism. In Heiner F. Klemme Dieter Schönecker & Manfred Kuehn (eds.), “Practical Reason and Motivational Scepticism”, in Heiner F. Klemme, Manfred Kuehn, Dieter Schönecker, eds., Moralische Motivation. Kant und die Alternativen. Kant-Forschungen. Felix Meiner Verlag.score: 120.0
In her influential and challenging paper “Skepticism about Practical Reason” Christine Korsgaard sets out to refute an important strand of Humean scepticism as it concerns a Kantian understanding of practical reason.1 Korsgaard distinguishes two components of scepticism about practical reason. The first, which she refers to as content scepticism, argues that reason cannot of itself provide any “substantive guidance to choice and action” (SPR, 311). In its classical formulation, as stated by Hume, it is argued that reason cannot determine our (...) ends. Our ends are determined by our desires and reason is limited to the role of identifying the relevant means to these ends. The second component, which Korsgaard calls motivational scepticism, suggests doubt about the scope of reason as a motive. The claim here, as Korsgaard interprets Hume’s view on this matter, is that “all reasoning that has motivational influence must start from a passion, that being the only possible source of motivation” (SPR, 314).2 Korsgaard’s fundamental objective in “Skepticism about Practical Reason” is to show that motivational scepticism must always be based on content scepticism. In other words, according to Korsgaard, motivational scepticism has no independent force. In this paper I argue that Korsgaard’s attempt to discredit motivational scepticism is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Thomas Hobbes changed the face of moral philosophy in ways that still structure and resonate within the contemporary debate. It was Hobbes’s central aim, particularly as expressed in the Leviathan, to make moral philosophy genuinely ‘scientific’, where this term is understood as science had developed and evolved in the first half of the seventeenth century. Specifically, it was Hobbes’s aim to provide a thoroughly naturalistic description of human beings in terms of the basic categories and laws of matter and motion. (...) By analyzing the individual and society in these terms, Hobbes proposed to identify and describe a set of moral laws that are eternal and immutable, and can be known to all those who are capable of reason and science (L, 15.40). Even more ambitiously, it was Hobbes’s further hope that these ‘theorems of moral doctrine’ would be put into practical use by public authorities with a view to maintaining a peaceful, stable social order (L, 31.41). (shrink)
According to the central tenets of classical compatibilism, the only kind of control required for agents to be free and responsible is the ability to act according to the determination of their own desires and willings. Since this condition can be satisfied without denying the thesis of determinism, it is argued, we can dismiss the pessimistic worries of the incompatibilist as unfounded.1 While this view of things dominated compatibilism for many generations, by the end of the twentieth century it was (...) generally regarded as too crude and simple to serve as an adequate foundation for a plausible compatibilism. Recent compatibilist work on this subject has been shaped in large part by the related debate about whether or not moral responsibility requires that an agent “could have done otherwise” or had “alternative possibilities”. Among the most influential contributors to these debates have been Harry Frankfurt and Daniel Dennett. Both Frankfurt and Dennett have argued that we ought to sever the (assumed) link between alternate possibilities and the kind of control required for moral responsibility.2 Their work on this subject provides an important point of departure for the significant and valuable project that Fischer and Ravizza pursue in _Responsibility and Control_. (shrink)
Hume’s views on free will have been enormously influential and are widely regarded as representing “the best-known classical statement of what is now known as compatibilism”.1 There are a number of valuable studies that consider his contribution on this subject from a contemporary, critical perspective, but this will not be my particular concern in this paper.2 My primary interest, consistent with the specific aims and objectives of this volume, is to explain the way that Hume’s arguments in T, 2.3.1-2 relate (...) to his fundamental intentions in the Treatise as a whole. Contrary to what is generally supposed, I will show that Hume’s arguments in these two sections are significantly concerned with problems of religion. More specifically, Hume’s necessitarian commitments, I argue, contain features that are systematically irreligious in character. These features of Hume’s views on this subject are indicative of his deeper and wider irreligious intentions throughout the Treatise. (shrink)
Such is the effect of the good or bad consequences of actions upon the sentiments both of the person who performs them, and of others; and thus, Fortune, which governs the world, has some influence where we should be least willing to allow her any, and directs in some measure the sentiments of mankind, with regard to the character and conduct both of themselves and others.
“This constant habit of surveying ourselves, as it were, in reflection, keeps alive all the sentiments of right and wrong, and begets, in noble natures, a certain reverence for themselves as well as others, which is the surest guardian of every virtue.”.
The discussion in this paper begins with some observations regarding a number of structural similarities between art and morality as it involves human agency. On the basis of these observations we may ask whether or not incompatibilist worries about free will are relevant to both art and morality. One approach is to claim that libertarian free will is essential to our evaluations of merit and desert in both spheres. An alternative approach, is to claim that free will is required only (...) in the sphere of morality—and that to this extent the art/morality analogy breaks down. I argue that both these incompatibilist approaches encounter significant problems and difficulties—and that incompatibilist have paid insufficient attention to these issues. However, although the analogy between art and morality may be welcomed by compatibilists, it does not pave the way for an easy or facile optimism on this subject. On the contrary, while the art/morality analogy may lend support to compatibilism it also serves to show that some worries of incompatibilism relating to the role of luck in human life cannot be easily set aside, which denies compatibilism any basis for complacent optimism on this subject. (shrink)
Recent work in contemporary compatibilist theory displays considerable sophistication and subtlety when compared with the earlier theories of classical compatibilism. Two distinct lines of thought have proved especially influential and illuminating. The first developed around the general hypothesis that moral sentiments or reactive attitudes are fundamental for understanding the nature and conditions of moral responsibility. The other important development is found in recent compatibilist accounts of rational self-control or reason responsiveness. Strictly speaking, these two lines of thought have developed independent (...) of each other. However, in the past decade or so they have been fused together in several prominent statements of compatibilist theory. I will refer to theories that combine these two elements in this way as RS (Reason- Sentiment) theories. RS theories face a number of familiar difficulties that relate to each of their two components. Beyond this, they also face a distinct set of problems concerning how these two main components relate or should be integrated. My concerns in this paper focus primarily on this set of problems. According to one version of RS compatibilism, the role of moral sentiments is limited to explaining what is required for holding an agent responsible. In contrast with this, the role of reason responsiveness is to explain what moral capacities are required for an agent to be responsible, one who is a legitimate or fair target of our moral sentiments. More specifically, according to this view, moral sense is not required for rational selfcontrol or reason responsiveness. There is, therefore, no requirement that the responsible agent has some capacity to feel moral sentiment. Contrary to this view, I argue that a responsible agent must be capable of holding herself and others responsible. Failing this, an agent’s powers of rational self-control will be both limited and impaired. In so far as holding responsible requires moral sense, it follows that being responsible also requires moral sense.. (shrink)
Hume’s famous and influential contributions to the philosophy of religion pursue two broad themes that have deep links with his general sceptical and naturalistic commitments throughout his philosophy as a whole.1 The first is his sceptical critique of the philosophical arguments and doctrines of various (Christian) theological systems. The second is his naturalistic account of the origins and roots of religion in human nature. Taken together, these two themes serve to advance Hume’s “Lucretian mission”, which was to discredit and dislodge (...) the role of religion in human life. In this paper I consider the criticism that Hume’s entire Lucretian mission is fundamentally misguided and misconceived as judged in terms of his own claims and hypotheses concerning religion. More specifically, it may be argued that if Hume is right about the foundations of religion in human nature and the human predicament, then his Lucretian mission is neither wise nor achievable. His project is, in other words, both theoretically self-refuting and practically self-defeating. Drawing from Hume’s writings on this subject, I will suggest a set of replies and responses to these criticisms. (shrink)
: In this paper I argue that Hume's famous discussion of probability and induction, as originally presented in the Treatise, is significantly motivated by irreligious objectives. A particular target of Hume's arguments is Joseph Butler's Analogy of Religion. In the Analogy Butler intends to persuade his readers of both the credibility and practical importance of the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments. The argument that he advances relies on probable reasoning and proceeds on the assumption that our (...) past experience in this life serves as a reliable and effective guide for our expectations concerning a future state. In the relevant sections of the Treatise Hume aims to discredit this religious argument and the practical objectives associated with it. (shrink)
There are many questions in philosophy to which no satisfactory answer has yet been given. But the question of the nature of the gods is the darkest and most difficult of all…. So various and so contradictory are the opinions of the most learned men on this matter as to persuade one of the truth of the saying that philosophy is the child of ignorance… — Cicero, The Nature of the Gods..
"However that all objections may be taken off with more advantage and clearness, I beg leave to lay down the following principle... It is impossible the effect should be perfecter than its cause... [D]enying this principle leads to downright Atheism...".
Alcuni commentatori della filosofia di Smith hanno osservato che la relazione tra la sua teoria morale e le sue credenze teologiche è “estremamente difficile da districare”1 . Una ragione ovvia di questo sta nel fatto che in nessuna delle opere di Smith troviamo una qualche discussione dettagliata di questioni teologiche sia di natura metafisica che morale. Non è perciò possibile usare altri scritti di Smith come strumento per chiarire le sue concezioni nella Theory of Moral Sentiments 2a proposito della relazione (...) tra etica e religione 3. Al di là di questo, i dati biografici sulla vita di Smith e i suoi atteggiamenti e pratiche religiose non risolvono tale questione in un senso o nell’altro. Le evidenze disponibili, come generalmente presentate , suggeriscono che sebbene Smith non era completamente ortodosso secondo i criteri dei contemporanei , non ha manifestato però orientamenti e impegni che fossero evidentemente o significativamente irreligiosi. (shrink)
In the early eighteenth century context there was an intimate connection between problems concerning the existence of the material <span class='Hi'>world</span> and problems of natural religion. Two issues are of particular importance for understanding Hume’s irreligious intentions in the Treatise. First, if we are unable to establish that we know that the material <span class='Hi'>world</span> exists, then all arguments for the existence of God that presuppose knowledge of the material <span class='Hi'>world</span> (i.e. its beauty, order, design, etc.) are placed in (...) doubt. Second, if we are naturally disposed to believe in the existence of body, but this belief is false, then it seems to follow that God must be a deceiver -- or does not exist. Hume’s arguments in 1.4.2, I maintain, are finely crafted to present both these (irreligious) challenges to the orthodox view. (shrink)
When we thus despair of finding any force upon earth which can check the triumph of injustice, we naturally appeal to heaven, and hope, that the great Author of our nature will himself execute hereafter, what all the principles which he has given us for the direction of our conduct, prompt us to attempt even here … And thus we are led to the belief of a future state, not only by the weaknesses, by the hopes and fears of human (...) nature, but by the noblest and best principles which belong to it, by the love of virtue, and by the abhorrence of vice and injustice. (shrink)
The Preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms claims "Canada is grounded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God." (Call it the "God-clause".) This claim is hopelessly confused and it has no place in our constitution. This is true, moreover, whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Pantheist, an atheist, or someone who has never given one moment's thought to "the supremacy of God" -- much less "recognized" it.
And if Atheism should be supposed to become universal in this nation… farewell all ties of friendship and principles of honor; all love for our country and loyalty to our prince; nay, farewell all government and society itself, all professions and arts, and conveniences of life, all that is laudable or valuable in the world.
Bundle theory takes objects to be bundles of properties. Some bundle theorists take objects to be bundles of instantiated universals, and some take objects to be bundles of tropes. Tropes are instances of properties: some take instantiated universals to be tropes, while others deny the existence of universals and take tropes to be ontologically fundamental. Historically, the bundling relation has been taken to be a primitive relation, not analyzable in terms of or ontologically reducible to some other relation, and has (...) been variously characterized as, e.g., “compresence,” “concurrence,” or “consubstantiation.” Bertrand Russell (1940) defends compresence of universals, and Hector-Neri Castañeda (1974) defends consubstantiation of universals. John Bacon (1995) defends concurrent tropes and Keith Campbell (1990) defends compresent tropes. Jonathan Schaffer (2001) bucks this trend, endorsing compresence understood as co-location in spacetime, but this brings with it undesireable consequences such as the impossibility of distinguishing between objects (such as electrons or other microentities) with the same location. Mereological bundle theory improves upon traditional bundle theory by taking the primitive relation of bundling to be the more familiar relation of fusing or composing, such that objects are fusions of properties or fusions of property instances. Hence, mereological bundle theorists endorse a property mereology: a mereology where properties or property instances can be parts of objects. An advantage of the approach derives from the fact that standard mereologies take composition to be primitive or define it using a different primitive mereological notion (such as primitive parthood). Thus, taking the basic primitive of bundle theory to be composition can reduce the need for.. (shrink)
Recently Terrance McConnell has attempted to show that not only does psychological egoism lend no support to ethical egoism but is even incompatible with it. 1 McConneU's attempt has been vitiated by Paul Simpson's critique of the version of psychological egoism that McConnell offered) In this discussion I will consider McConnell's and Simpson's arguments and then offer a version of psychological egoism that avoids Simpson's objections. After showing that one version of ethical egoism is incompatible with that version of (...) psychological egoism, I will consider other versions of ethical egoism in an attempt to find the best version of that moral doctrine. It will turn out that even the best version of ethical egoism is incompatible with the version of psychological egoism that avoids Simpson's criticisms. However, another version of psychological egoism will be offered that is compatible with all versions of ethical egoism and that is also not open to Simpson's objections. An argument will be offered, and then criticized, that seems to lend support to ethical egoism and that rests, in part, on this other version of psychological egoism. (shrink)
Here are two ways space might be (not the only two): (1) Space is “pointy”. Every finite region has infinitely many infinitesimal, indivisible parts, called points. Points are zero-dimensional atoms of space. In addition to points, there are other kinds of “thin” boundary regions, like surfaces of spheres. Some regions include their boundaries—the closed regions—others exclude them—the open regions—and others include some bits of boundary and exclude others. Moreover, space includes unextended regions whose size is zero. (2) Space is “gunky”.1 (...) Every region contains still smaller regions—there are no spatial atoms. Every region is “thick”—there are no boundary regions. Every region is extended. Pointy theories of space and space-time—such as Euclidean space or Minkowski space—are the kind that figure in modern physics. A rival tradition, most famously associated in the last century with A. N. Whitehead, instead embraces gunk.2 On the Whiteheadian view, points, curves and surfaces are not parts of space, but rather abstractions from the true regions. Three different motivations push philosophers toward gunky space. The first is that the physical space (or space-time) of our universe might be gunky. We posit spatial reasons to explain what goes on with physical objects; thus the main reason.. (shrink)
This article describes some of the main arguments for the existence of other minds, and intersubjectivity more generally, that depend upon a transcendental justification. This means that our focus will be largely on ‘continental’ philosophy, not only because of the abiding interest in this tradition in thematising intersubjectivity, but also because transcendental reasoning is close to ubiquitous in continental philosophy. Neither point holds for analytic philosophy. As such, this essay will introduce some of the important contributions of Edmund Husserl, Martin (...) Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Karl-Otto Apel, all of whom use transcendental reasoning as a key part of their analyses of intersubjectivity, and we also consider the work of Peter Strawson who does likewise in the analytic tradition. (shrink)
Some of the most interesting recent work in philosophy of language and metaphysics is focused on questions about propositions, the abstract, truth-bearing contents of sentences and beliefs. The aim of this guide is to give instructors and students a road map for some significant work on propositions since the mid-1990s. This work falls roughly into two areas: challenges to the existence of propositions and theories about the nature and structure of propositions. The former includes both a widely discussed puzzle about (...) propositional designators as well as direct and indirect arguments against the existence of propositions. The latter is dominated by what is currently the central debate about the metaphysics of propositions, i.e. whether they are structured, composite entities or unstructured ontological simples. This issue has eclipsed older debates about whether propositions can be identified with sets of possible worlds or other kinds of sentence intensions. Author Recommends 1. Soames, Scott. 'Direct Reference, Propositional Attitudes, and Semantic Content.' Philosophical Topics 15 (1987): 47–87. Reprinted in Propositions and Attitudes . Eds. N. Salmon and S. Soames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 197–239. Essential groundwork for more recent work on propositions. Soames gives a careful and exacting presentation of the case against identifying propositions with sets of possible worlds or other truth-supporting circumstances. Also contains a detailed statement of the Russellian conception of propositions on which propositions are ordered sets of objects, properties and relations. 2. King, Jeffrey. 'Designating Propositions.' The Philosophical Review 111 (2002): 341–71. Sometimes substituting a definite description for a corresponding 'that'-clause can lead to bizarre changes in truth-conditions: compare 'Bill fears that Hillary will be president' with 'Bill fears the proposition that Hillary will be president'. This puzzle about propositional designators threatens the relational analysis of propositional attitude reports, the view that 'believes' expresses a relation to the proposition designated by its 'that'-clause, and thereby poses an indirect threat to the existence of propositions. King's solution posits an ambiguity in verbs like 'fear' that embed both 'that'-clauses and definite descriptions. 3. Jubien, Michael. 'Propositions and the Objects of Thought.' Philosophical Studies 104 (2001): 47–62. A direct attack on the existence of propositions. Jubien deploys an analogue of the problem that Paul Benacerraf raised for set-theoretical reductions of numbers against metaphysical reductions of propositions. Just as numbers can be reduced to sets in many different ways, any reduction of propositions brings with it equally good variants, thus making any such reduction arbitrary and unmotivated. The only alternative is to treat propositions as abstract metaphysical primitives. As Jubien argues, however, abstract primitive entities are incapable of doing what propositions must do, i.e. represent objects and states of affairs on their own, without the input of thinking subjects. The upshot is the propositions cannot be reduced and they cannot be primitive, and so they must not exist. 4. Hanks, Peter. 'How Wittgenstein Defeated Russell's Multiple Relation Theory of Judgment.' Synthese 154 (2007): 121–46. Scepticism about propositions has recently led some philosophers, Jubien included, to resuscitate Russell's multiple relation theory of judgment, the idea that judgment is a many-place relation to objects, properties and relations. This paper explains why Russell himself abandoned that theory, and why the theory is still refuted by an objection due to Wittgenstein. 5. Hofweber, Thomas. 'Inexpressible Properties and Propositions.' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics . 2 vols. Ed. D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 155–206. An indirect attack on the existence of propositions. Hofweber argues that sentences like 'Bill believes something that Hillary asserted' do not commit us to the existence of propositions. His view is that propositional quantification is an instance of what he calls 'internal' or 'inferential role' quantification, a kind of quantification that carries no ontological implications. 6. Schiffer, Stephen. The Things We Mean . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. esp. chs 1–2. Schiffer defends his theory of pleonastic propositions, on which propositions are unstructured, have no parts, and are very finely grained. 7. Bealer, George. 'Propositions.' Mind 107 (1998): 1–32. Bealer defends his algebraic theory of propositions, which, like Schiffer's pleonastic account, treats propositions as unstructured metaphysical simples. 8. King, Jeffrey. The Nature of and Structure of Content . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. The best developed current theory of the structure in structured propositions. King identifies propositions with certain kinds of facts in which objects, properties and relations are bound together by amalgams of syntactic and semantic relations. 9. Hanks, Peter. 'Recent Work on Propositions.' Philosophy Compass 4 (2009): 1–18. A survey of work on propositions since the mid-1990s that complements this teaching and learning guide. Contains responses to Jubien's and Hofweber's arguments against propositions and critical discussions of Schiffer's pleonastic propositions and King's theory of propositional structure. Online Resources 1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/ Propositions (Matthew McGrath) 2. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions-structured/ Structured Propositions (Jeffrey King) 3. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions-singular/ Singular Propositions (Greg Fitch) Sample Partial Syllabus The following partial syllabus can be used as a unit on recent work on propositions in graduate level courses in philosophy of language or metaphysics. Week 1: A Substitution Puzzle About Propositional Designators King, Jeffrey. 'Designating Propositions'. Moltmann, Friederike. 'Propositional Attitudes Without Propositions.' Synthese 135 (2003): 77–118. Week 2: The Benacerraf Problem and Propositional Representation Benacerraf, Paul. 'What Numbers Could Not Be.' Philosophical Review 74 (1965): 47–73. Jubien, Michael. 'Propositions and the Objects of Thought.' Week 3: Propositional Quantification Hofweber, Thomas. 'Inexpressible Properties and Propositions'. Hofweber, Thomas. 'A Puzzle about Ontology.' Noûs 39 (2005): 256–83. Week 4: Schiffer on Pleonastic Propositions Schiffer, Stephen. 'Language-Created Language-Independent Entities.' Philosophical Topics 24 (1996): 149–67. Schiffer, Stephen. The Things We Mean , chs 1–2. Week 5: King on Structured Propositions King, Jeffrey. 'Structured Propositions and Complex Predicates.' Noûs , 29 (1995): 516–35. King, Jeffrey. The Nature and Structure of Content , chs 1–3. Focus Questions 1. Why does identifying propositions with sentence intensions, e.g. sets of possible worlds, 'require the attitudes to have a particular sort of closure under logical consequence, which they clearly don't have' (Mark Richard)? 2. How does the difference between (a) and (b) pose a threat to the existence of propositions? (a) Bill fears that Hillary will be president. (b) Bill fears the proposition that Hillary will be president. 3. What is the Benacerraf problem for metaphysical reductions of propositions? 4. Why must a proposition represent 'on its own cuff' (Michael Jubien)? Why is this a problem for the view that propositions are primitive abstract entities? 5. What does it mean to say that propositions are structured ? Give two different accounts of what propositional structure might be. (shrink)
In contrast to many of his contemporaries, A. J. Ayer was an analytic philosopher who had sustained throughout his career some interest in developments in the work of his ‘continental’ peers. Ayer, who spoke French, held friendships with some important Parisian intellectuals, such as Camus, Bataille, Wahl and Merleau-Ponty. This paper examines the circumstances of a meeting between Ayer, Merleau-Ponty, Wahl, Ambrosino and Bataille, which took place in 1951 at some Parisian bar. The question under discussion during this meeting was (...) whether the sun existed before humans did, over which the various philosophers disagreed. This disagreement is tangled with a variety of issues, such as Ayer’s critique of Heidegger and Sartre (inherited from Carnap), Ayer’s response to Merleau-Ponty’s critique of empiricism, and Bataille’s response to Sartre’s critique of his notion of ‘unknowing’, which uncannily resembles Ayer’s critique of Sartre. Amidst this tangle one finds Bataille’s statement that an ‘abyss’ separates English from French and German philosophy, the first recorded announcement of the analytic-continental divide in the twentieth century. References H. B. Acton. Philosophy in France. Philosophy, 22(82):161-166, 1947. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031819100025365 A. J. Ayer & T. Honderich. An Interview with A. J. Ayer. In A. P. Griffiths, editor, A.J. Ayer Memorial Essays, pages 209-226. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991. A. J. Ayer. Language, Truth and Logic. London, Gollancz, 1936. A. J. Ayer. Novelist-Philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. Horizon, 12(67):12–26, & 12(68):101-110, 1945. A. J. Ayer. Novelist-Philosopher, Albert Camus. Horizon, 13(75):155-168, 1946a. A. J. Ayer. Secret Session. Polemic, 2:60-63, 1946b. A. J. Ayer. Some Aspects of Existentialism. In F. Watts, editor, H. B. Acton. Philosophy in France. Philosophy, 22(82):161-166, 1947. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031819100025365 A. J. Ayer & T. 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In recent years Russell´s view that there are singular propositions, namely propositions that contain the individuals they are about, has gained followers. As a response to a number of puzzles about attitude ascriptions several Russellians (as I will call those who accept the view that proper names and indexicals only contribute their referents to the propositions expressed by the sentences in which they occur), including David Kaplan and Nathan Salmon, have drawn a distinction between what proposition is believed and (...) how it is believed.1 While it is generally agreed upon among Russellians that this distinction needs to be drawn there is considerable disagreement as to what exactly the distinction amounts to and what role the what and the how should play. The most plausible option seems to be to not assign a semantic value to the cognitive role played by the name or indexical in the sentence assented to. But recently Mark Richard2 has attempted to make the cognitive role affect truth values by building it into the truth conditions of belief reports.3 I will argue that Richard’s attempt fails to satisfy our pretheoretical intuitions about the sharing of beliefs. Furthermore, and more surprisingly, I will argue that Richard’s theory makes it virtually impossible for us to judge whether or not most belief reports are true or false, since doing so would involve what I call RAM probing, which would require viewing elements that are essentially private. (shrink)
Against Russell’s skeptical conjecture, that the world and its entire population came into existence five minutes ago, it is argued that any one of the following is logically incompatible with the conjunction of the other two: ostensible memories of certain events, records of such events, and the non-occurrence of these same events. This conclusion is reached through a critical examination of (1) the arguments advanced by Norman Malcolm in trying to show that Russell’s “hypothesis” does not express a (...) logical possibility, and (2) the counterarguments by which James W. Cornman tries to show that it does. (shrink)