In twelve quite demanding chapters, outstanding scholars provide an overall view of the key issues of Scotus’s philosophical thought. To this a very concise introduction is added, concerning the life and works of John Duns (very good, especially the survey of works and the information on critical editions etc.). Throughout the book, I find the information clear and the difficult topics well explained. Moreover, the volume gives a quick entrance to the vast literature. Among the topics discussed are: ‘Metaphysics’ (...) (PeterKing), ‘Universals and Individuation’ (Timothy Noone), ‘Modal Theory’ (Calvin Normore), ‘Natural Theology’ (James Ross & Todd Bates), ‘Philosophy of Mind’ (Richard Cross), ‘Cognition’ (Robert Pasnau), ‘Moral Dispositions’ (Bonnie Kent). What strikes the eye is the absence of important theological subjects: Trinity, Christology, sin and grace, to name a few. Since the cover text promises that ‘the essays in this volume systematically survey the full range of Scotus’ thought’, this omission is remarkable. It stems, I guess, from the strict philosophical scope of the series of the Cambridge Companions, but such a limitation should have been recognised explicitly: this companion provides, in fact, an introduction to John Duns’s philosophy—i.e., philosophy in our modern sense. Of course, this separation of philosophical from theological thought is not from Scotus. Most of his innovative ‘philosophical’ ideas are developed in a profoundly theological context! (shrink)
Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) [‘Abailard’ or ‘Abaelard’ or ‘Habalaarz’ and so on] was the pre-eminent philosopher and theologian of the twelfth century. The teacher of his generation, he was also famous as a poet and a musician. Prior to the recovery of Aristotle, he brought the native Latin tradition in philosophy to its highest pitch. His genius was evident in all he did. He is, arguably, the greatest logician of the Middle Ages and is equally famous (...) as the first great nominalist philosopher. He championed the use of reason in matters of faith (he was the first to use ‘theology’ in its modern sense), and his systematic treatment of religious doctrines are as remarkable for their philosophical penetration and subtlety as they are for their audacity. Abelard seemed larger than life to his contemporaries: his quick wit, sharp tongue, perfect memory, and boundless arrogance made him unbeatable in debate — he was said by supporter and detractor alike never to have lost an argument — and the force of his personality impressed itself vividly on all with whom he came into contact. His luckless affair with Héloïse made him a tragic figure of romance, and his conflict with Bernard of Clairvaux over reason and religion made him the hero of the Enlightenment. For all his colourful life, though, his philosophical achievements are the cornerstone of his fame. (shrink)
In his commentary on Aristotle’s Peri hermeneias,1 Abelard distinguishes the form of an expression2 (oratio) from what it says, that is, its content. The content of an expression is its understanding (intellectus). This distinction is surely the most well-known and central idea in Abelard’s commentary. It provides him with the opportunity to distinguish statements (enuntiationes) from other kinds of expressions without implying a diference in their content, since the ability of a statement to signify something true or false (verum vel (...) falsum)3 cannot be found in its content. More precisely, Abelard distinguishes statements both from complete expressions (orationes perfectae) that are not statements but rather questions, requests, commands, etc. and from incomplete expressions, that is, mere word strings (orationes imperfectae), such as homo albus. These kinds of expressions, according to Abelard, do not differ in the understanding they present but in the way they present it. (shrink)
Political Freedom By George G. Brenkert Routledge, 1991. Pp. 278. ISBN 0?415?03372?1. £35 hbk. Wittgenstein: A Bibliographical Guide By Guido Frongia and Brian McGuinness Basil Blackwell, 1990. Pp. x + 438. ISBN 00631?13765?3. £60.00. Metaphysics By Peter van Inwagen Oxford University Press, 1993. Pp. xiii + 222. ISBN 0?19?8751400. £11.95 pbk. The Nature of Moral Thinking By Francis Snare Routledge, 1992. Pp. 187. ISBN 0?415?04709?9. £9.99 pbk. Filosofía analitica hoy: Encuentro de tradiciones Edited by Mercedes Torrevejano Servicio de Publications (...) Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 1991. Pp. 284. ISBN 84?7191?722?X. $15.5 pbk. The Puzzle of Experience By J.J. Valberg Clarendon Press, 1992. Pp. 227. ISBN 0?19?824291?3. £25. Religion and Philosophy Edited by Martin Warner Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement: 31 Cambridge University Press, 1992. Pp. vi + 155. ISBN 0?521?42951?X. £10.95 pbk. The Uses of Philosophy By Mary Warnock Blackwell, 1992. Pp. 256. ISBN 0?631?18038?9. £35.00 hbk. £11.95 pbk. The Disappearance of Time: Kurt Godel and the Idealistic Tradition in Philosophy By Palle Yourgrau Cambridge University Press, 1991. Pp. x + 182. ISBN 0?521?41012?6. £27.50. (shrink)
In the field of computability and algorithmicity, there have recently been two essays that are of great interest: Peter Slezak's "Descartes's Diagonal Deduction," and David Deutsch's "Quantum Theory, the Church-Turing Principle and the Universal Quantum Computer." In brief, the former shows that Descartes' Cogito argument is structurally similar to Godel's proof that there are statements true but cannot be proven within a formal system such as Principia Mathematica, while Deutsch provides strong arguments for believing that the universe can be (...) represented as a Turing machine. King contends that the conjoining of Slezak's analysis with Deutsch's provides a perspective from which it is possible to argue that a scientific theology can be taken a little more seriously at present than in the past. , , , , In the field of computability and algorithmicity, there have recently been two essays that are of great interest: Peter Slezak's "Descartes's Diagonal Deduction," and David Deutsch's "Quantum Theory, the Church-Turing Principle and the Universal Quantum Computer." In brief, the former shows that Descartes' Cogito argument is structurally similar to Godel's proof that there are statements true but cannot be proven within a formal system such as Principia Mathematica, while Deutsch provides strong arguments for believing that the universe can be represented as a Turing machine. King contends that the conjoining of Slezak's analysis with Deutsch's provides a perspective from which it is possible to argue that a scientific theology can be taken a little more seriously at present than in the past. (shrink)
Age discrimination, particularly in the context of performance evaluation decisions, has been a source of major concern and litigation for organizations in the past, and indications are that this area will pose serious challenges in the future. The present study attempted to delve more deeply into the process by which manifest age discrimination operates in the performance evaluation process. A conceptualization was proposed and tested which suggested that age-related influences on performance ratings operate through interpersonal distance and political influence of (...) subordinates. Results demonstrated some support for this conceptualization. (shrink)
Academic discussion of pornography is generally restricted to issues arising from the depiction of adults. I argue that child-pornography is a more complex matter, and that generally accepted moral judgements concerning pornography in general have to be revised when children are involved. I look at the question of harm to the children involved, the consumers, and society in general, at the question of blame, and at the possibility of a morally acceptable form of child-pornography. My approach involves an objectivist meta-ethics (...) and a utilitarian view of practical ethics, and I bring out the advantages of these theories to the consideration of moral issues such as this one. (shrink)
One answer: Because medieval philosophy is just the continuation of ancient philosophy by other means—the Latin language and the Catholic Church— and, as Wallace Matson pointed out some time ago, the mind-body problem isn’t ancient.
Aristotle was the first thinker to devise a logical system. He drew upon the emphasis on universal definition found in Socrates, the use of reductio ad absurdum in Zeno of Elea, claims about propositional structure and negation in Parmenides and Plato, and the body of argumentative techniques found in legal reasoning and geometrical proof. Yet the theory presented in Aristotle’s five treatises known as the Organon—the Categories, the De interpretatione, the Prior Analytics, the Posterior Analytics, and the Sophistical Refutations—goes far (...) beyond any of these. (shrink)
Socrates, for example, has an essence that includes more than his human nature, which is his specific essence; he has an essence proper to himself alone, an essence that cannot be had by anyone else. Although Socrates does have singular (individualized) forms, his singular essence is not a form—there is no form Socrateity for the singular essence parallelling the form humanity for the specific essence. Instead, Socrates has his singular essence in consequence of being an individual, that is, in consequence (...) of having an ‘individual differentia’. Scotus further rejects the distinction between identity and individuality, maintaining that what it is for Socrates to be Socrates is the same as what it is for him to be an individual. Socrates, in the end, is his singular essence. (shrink)
Our aim in this paper is to raise a question about the relationship between theories of responsibility, on the one hand, and a commitment to conscious attitudes, on the other. Our question has rarely been raised previously. Among those who believe in the reality of human freedom, compatibilists have traditionally devoted their energies to providing an account that can avoid any commitment to the falsity of determinism while successfully accommodating a range of intuitive examples. Libertarians, in contrast, have aimed to (...) show that either physical indeterminacy or a certain kind of agent causation can find a place in the world for what they take to be genuine freedom. Few have considered whether moral responsibility requires a commitment to conscious attitudes.2 Our question derives from a confluence of two sources. First, there is reason to think that conscious attitudes matter to theories of responsibility, either directly, as a result of the latter’s commitments, or indirectly, by virtue of the assumptions that they make about certain intuitive examples. Second, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that there aren’t any conscious mental states possessing the sorts of causal roles required of propositional attitudes. Since theorists of responsibility should in general be concerned to make their views compatible with plausible claims about the natural world, the implications of this data should be carefully considered. Our aim is therefore to motivate and begin exploring answers to the following conditional question: If it should turn out that there are no conscious attitudes, then what would be the implications of this fact (if any) for theories of responsibility? We propose that theorists who aren’t skeptics about moral responsibility should examine their accounts, asking whether their theories (or the examples that motivate them) could survive the discovery that there are no conscious judgments, decisions, or evaluations. Since we take it that moral theorizing in general should operate with the weakest possible empirical assumptions about the natural world, such theorists should consider whether their accounts could be motivated in such a way as to be free of any commitment to the existence of conscious attitudes.. (shrink)
possible, your investigation is unlikely ever to get off the ground), there’s no such excuse for philosophers. The philosopher should be unrestricted by fashions in thought, including the unquestioning acceptance of whatever scientific theories are currently dominant. The fact is, however, that in this field and in the philosophy of mind, many.
stance, Scotus adopts Anselm’s notion of a ‘(pure) perfection’ and elevates it to a fundamental principle of his metaphysics. Again, he distills Anselm’s Ontological Argument into something like its original Monologion components, and then treats each component part of the argument with a rigor and attention to detail far beyond anything Anselm suggested. In the case of Anselm’s so-called ‘two-wills’ theory, however, Scotus’s revisions are so extensive that they amount to a rejection of Anselm’s account, even though Scotus retains some (...) of Anselm’s terminology. I’ll begin by looking at Anselm’s initial presentation of the two-wills theory in his De casu diaboli (§1), and his later refinements of that account in his De concordia (§2). I’ll then look at Scotus’s deployment, revision, and rejection of Anselm’s theory in his three discussions of angelic sin: Lect. 2 d. 6 q. 2 (§3), Ord. 2 d. 6 q. 2 (§4), and Rep. 2 d. 6 q. 2 (§5). This will be followed by a brief look at whether Scotus’s theory of the self-regulating will is an adequate replacement for Anselm’s account (§6). (shrink)
In the ﬁrst volume of Capital, Marx introduces a labor theory of value. The theory is supposed to form the basis of his “laying bare” the “inner workings” of capitalism. The theory rests on two claims, and at the outset Marx uses it to explain four features of capitalist production. Yet by the end of the ﬁnal volume of Capital, he abandons both claims and oﬀers alternative accounts of all four features of capitalism. We hold that Marx’s introduction of the (...) labor theory of value is not the presentation of an alternative economic theory, but serves to introduce his analysis of the class structure of capitalism. (shrink)
Augustine and Anselm form a common tradition in mediæval thought about angelic sin, a tradition rooted in patristic thought and centred on their attempts to give a philosophically coherent account of moral choice. Augustine concentrates on the reasons and causes of angelic sin, especially in reference to free will; Anselm adopts Augustine’s analysis and extends it to issues about the rationality of sinful choice. Each takes Lucifer’s primal sin to be the paradigm case. Lucifer, undistracted by bodily desires and unencumbered (...) by history, committed the first moral misdeed in an entirely good universe newly created by an entirely good God. The challenge is to give a philosophical account that permits us to understand how the best and brightest of all angels nevertheless made a sinful choice in such uniformly positive circumstances. (shrink)
No single theory of the emotions dominates the whole of the Middle Ages. Instead, there are several competing accounts, and differences of opinion — sometimes quite dramatic — within each account. Yet there is consensus on the scope and nature of a theory of the emotions, as well as on its place in affective psychology generally. For most medieval thinkers, emotions are at once cognitively penetrable and somatic, which is to say that emotions are influenced by and vary with changes (...) in thought and belief, and that they are also bound up, perhaps essentially, with their physiological manifestations. This ‘mixed’ conception of emotions was broad enough to anchor medieval disagreements over details, yet rich enough to distinguish it from other parts of psychology and medicine. In particular, two kinds of phenomena, thought to be purely physiological, were not considered emotions even on this broad conception. First, what we now classify as drives or urges, for instance hunger and sexual arousal, were thought in the Middle Ages to be at best ‘pre-emotions’ fpropayyioney): mere biological motivations for action, not having any intrinsic cognitive object. Second, moods were likewise thought to be non-objectual somatic states, completely explicable as an imbalance of the bodily humours. Depression fmelancholia), for example, is the pathological condition of having an excess of black bile. Medieval theories of emotions, therefore, concentrate on paradigm cases that fall under the broad conception: delight, anger, distress, fear, and the like. The enterprise of constructing an adequate philosophical theory of the emotions in the Middle Ages had its counterpart in a large body of practical know-how. The medical literature on the emotions, for instance, was extensive, covering such subjects as the causal role of emotions in disease and recovery, the nerves as connecting the brain to the organs involved in the physiological manifestations of the emotions, and the effect of diet and nutrition on emotional responses.. (shrink)
cause other than the very individual itself, and thus there is no ‘metaphysical’ problem of individuation at all—individuality, unlike generality, is primitive and needs no explanation. He supports this view in two ways. First, he argues that there are no nonindividual entities, whether existing in their own right or as metaphysical constituents either of things or in things, and hence that no real principle or cause of individuality (other than the individual itself) is required. Second, he oﬀers a ‘semantic’ interpretation (...) of what appear to be metaphysical diﬃculties about individuality by recasting the issues in the formal mode, as issues within semantics, such as how a referring expression can pick out a single individual. Yet although there is no ‘metaphysical’ problem of individuation, Buridan discusses two associated problems at some length: the identity of individuals over time and the discernibility of individuals. (shrink)
phers] to be a demonstration of the fact that the human species (and in every case the species of all generable and corruptible individuals) began to exist at a time when previously it had not existed at all, a question is raised: whether, following the Philosopher’s method, the human species (and in every case any given species of generable and corruptible [individuals]) began to exist at a time when previously it had not existed at all.
In one corner Socrates; in the other, on the mat, his cat Felix. Socrates, of course, thinks (correctly) that Felix the Cat is on the mat. But there’s the rub. For Socrates to think that Felix is on the mat, he has to be able to think about Felix, that is, he has to have some sort of cognitive grasp of an individual — and not just any individual, but Felix himself. How is that possible? What is going on when (...) we think about things? (shrink)
That it is: According to the Commentator, Met. 7 com. 11 ([Iuntina 8 fol. 76r]): The deﬁnition is the same as the substance of the thing. Hence it is in some way outside the soul, and consequently all its parts are in some way outside the soul. But the deﬁnition is composed of universals. Hence [the universal is outside the soul].
I frequently have trouble with words that other people use with what seems to be blithe understanding (friends tell me that the problem is that I think too much about words, but I find that not thinking doesn't really seem to help). In the case of `tolerance', though, I have no trouble at all - it's a wishy-washy weasel, a mealy-mouthed mink of a word. I suppose I don't want to claim that it has no decent place in the language (...) at all. I'm not particularly worried, for example, about our tolerating bad dramatic or musical performances by friends, close relatives, or children, nor about our tolerating the short tempers of those under great stress, and so on. What concerns me is the notion of tolerance that is so often to be found floating in the nebulous rhetoric of morality, both public and private. (shrink)
Some years ago I reviewed a collection of papers called African Philosophy: The Essential Readings , edited by Serequeberhan. My last comment in that review was the expression of the hope for collections of papers that would give an insight into what's going on in African philosophy, rather than into the debate over the existence and nature of African philosophy. My concern is echoed by the last line of a letter printed in the present volume of readings: "Hitherto most of (...) us have been talking about African philosophy, instead of doing African philosophy." (p.xlii) So when I received this book for review, I naturally hoped that it was what I'd been waiting for. I'm afraid that it isn't. (shrink)
Augustine and Anselm, Abelard was not concerned to explore the theological dimension of the mental Word. Instead, Abelard crafted a ‘language of thought’ to provide the semantics for ordinary languages, based on the idea that thoughts (intellectus) have linguistic character. His is the most sophisticated account of Mental Language until the efforts of Burleigh, Ockham, Buridan, and others at the start of the fourteenth century. Yet unlike these later versions, Abelard’s theory of Mental Language has not received the attention it (...) deserves.1 Most commentators have touched on only three aspects of Abelard’s theory of Mental Language, and that typically as an adjunct to his discussion of the problem of universals: the mechanics of acquiring understandings, the nature of mental content, and the production of one understanding from another (e. g. by abstraction).2 Important as these are for Abelard’s philosophy of mind, they are only a small part of the story for his account of Mental Language. Here I shall concentrate instead on Abelard’s insight that thoughts have linguistic character. To clarify this insight we first have to describe Abelard’s semantic framework (§1), connecting language and thought. According to Abelard, Mental Language generally obeys a principle of compositionality, so that the meaning of a whole is a function of the meaning of its parts — an idea that Abelard applies to words and expressions3 by describing the psychological realities underlying the semantics (§2). Once.. (shrink)
The Doctrine of Original Sin seems to require that human nature has literally undergone a change from its prelapsarian to its postlapsarian condition.It is not clear that this claim makes sense. How can human nature, the feature(s) in virtue of which human beings are what they are, change in time? (Think of the parallel claim about √2.) I consider three medieval attempts to resolve this problem: (1) Augustine’s two theories about shared human nature; (2) Anselm’s proposal that original sin is (...) an individual deficiency; (3) the “biological” proposal suggested by Odo of Cambrai and developed by Pseudo-Joscelin. (shrink)
Mox de generibus et speciebus illud quidem siue subsistant siue in solis nudis purisque intellectibus posita sint siue ipsa subsistentia sint corporalia an incorporalia, et utrum separata an in sensibilibus et circa ea constantia, dicere recusabo. As regards genera and species, for the present I shall refuse to say whether they subsist or are postulated in understandings that are alone and bare and pure; or whether, if they subsist, they are corporeal or incorporeal; and whether they are separated from sensibles (...) or are postulated in sensibles and things going along with them. Abelard acknowledges the tradition but wants no part of it. (shrink)
He began his negative case by attacking platonist theories, that is, theories identifying the universal as a separated form really distinct from the individuals it characterizes.3 His next target was so-called moderate realist theories, which identify the universal as a form that is really distinct but not separate from the individuals it characterizes.4 Finally, he turns to Scotist theories, which identify the universal as a form that is only formally distinct from the individuals it characterizes, neither really distinct nor separable (...) from them.5 Buridan’s discussion therefore follows a pattern similar to that found in William of Ockham, where the arguments against.. (shrink)
I was born in Boston, Lincolnshire (actually in Wyberton West Hospital, which no longer exists), educated (if that's the word) first at St Mary's Primary School (run by nuns at the time, which probably explains a lot about my later career if you're a Freudian, which I'm not. Its new incarnation is here), then at Boston Grammar School . At the latter I successfully navigated 'O'-levels, but nearly half-way through my 'A'-levels I developed a number of extra-curricular interests which distracted (...) me from my studies. More importantly, I began to think rather more broadly than some of my teachers (and especially my appalling headmaster) cared for. This led to an almost total cessation of interest in my 'A'-levels. It did, however, involve a number of stage rôles at Blackfriars Theatre and elsewhere, and a good deal of time spent in the theatre bar. (shrink)
In his 1988 review of On the Plurality of Worlds (Lycan ), William Lycan argued that what he called Lewis's 'mad-dog modal realism' (also 'rape-and-loot modal realism' and 'nuclear-holocaust modal realism' - I suspect that some reference to the supposed extremity of Lewis's position is intended) rested upon an unanalysed modal notion. Lycan accepted that actualists all seemed to be stuck with such unanalysed notions (adding that his own was the notion of compatibility as applied to pairs of properties), but (...) argued that Lewis's notion of worlds was also a modal primitive: 'World' for him has to mean 'possible world', since the very flesh-and-bloodiness [which relieves him of the sort of abstraction indulged in by actualists] prevents him from admitting impossibilia. (Lycan , p.46) Lycan's main concerns in this review go back to his earlier paper 'The Trouble with Possible Worlds' (Lycan ), and are taken up again in his PAS paper: The ruling out of impossible worlds is a serious liability [...] For semantics needs impossible worlds. Though standard modal logics may trade just in possible states of affairs, the semantics of conditionals must deal with inconsistent beliefs. (Lycan , p.224) He goes on to claim that the actualist has no problem with impossible worlds. An impossible world is just - e.g. - a set of propositions (one of which happens to be inconsistent). (loc.cit.) Whatever the truth of this in principle, most actualists have either explicitly or implicitly excluded possible worlds from their theories.* It is true, nevertheless, that Lewis has a clear problem with the very idea of worlds at which logically incompatible propositions are true. Lycan attempts to exploit this as follows. (shrink)
Novelists and other producers of fiction can make many mistakes (including becoming novelists and other producers of fiction), but there are three kinds of mistake that stem from the writer's ignorance. First, there's the purely external mistake, which occurs in the..
Invoking three desiderata (empirical adequacy, conceptual precision, and sensitivity to social positioning), this paper argues that poverty is best understood as the deprivation of certain human capabilities. It defends this way of conceiving of poverty against standard alternatives: lack of income, lack of resources, inequality, and social exclusion.
each associate, and be means of which each unites himself to all, obeying only himself and still remaining as free as before. [The Solution]: Each of us puts in common his person and his entire power under the supreme direction of the general will (la..