Phillip Johnson claims that Creationism is a better explanation of the existence and characteristics of biological species than is evolutionary theory. He argues that the only reason biologists do not recognize that Creationist's negative arguments against Darwinism have proven this is that they are wedded to a biased ideological philosophy —Naturalism — which dogmatically denies the possibility of an intervening creative god. However,Johnson fails to distinguish Ontological Naturalism from Methodological Naturalism. Science makes use of the latter and I show (...) how it is not dogmatic but follows from sound requirements for empirical evidential testing. Furthermore, Johnson has no serious alternative type of positive evidence to offer for Creationism, and purely negative argumentation, despite his attempt to legitimate it, will not suffice. (shrink)
As a philosopher rather than a historian, Phillip Ferreira tends naturally, in his article in this issue of The Pluralist, "On the Imperviousness of Persons," as in his first one on The Worldview of Personalism, to place the emphasis quite as much on the general philosophical issues as on the specific historical interpretation of Pringle-Pattison. But this emphasis was from the beginning invited by my own assessment of Pringle-Pattison. I will continue here to answer Ferreira to a considerable extent (...) in its terms, but, as a historian rather than a philosopher, I will try to use arguments which, based on my historical knowledge of them, I think would have been those of Pringle-Pattison and the other personal .. (shrink)
Genetic determinism is the idea that many significant human characteristics are rendered inevitable by the presence of certain genes. The psychologist Susan Oyama has famously compared arguing against genetic determinism to battling the undead. Oyama suggests that genetic determinism is inherent in the way we currently represent genes and what genes do. As long as genes are represented as containing information about how the organism will develop, they will continue to be regarded as determining causes no matter how much evidence (...) exists to the contrary. Philip Kitcher has strongly disputed Oyama’s diagnosis, arguing that the conventional ‘interactionist’ perspective on development is the correct framework for understanding the role of the genes in development. While acknowledging the legitimacy of many of Kitcher’s observations, I believe that Oyama’s view is substantially correct. In this paper I provide several lines of support for support the Oyama diagnosis. (shrink)
Sidgwickian Ethics provides a highly compelling treatment of the main meta-ethical and normative ethical doctrines found in Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. In this note, I dwell on three of its theses. In §I, I question Phillips’s account of Sidgwick’s moral epistemology. In §II, I argue in favour of a specific solution to the puzzle that he finds in this epistemology. In §III, I try to defend Sidgwick against the charge that his argument against dogmatic intuitionism is unfair to (...) its advocates. (shrink)
Do states have the right to prevent potential immigrants from crossing their borders, or should people have the freedom to migrate and settle wherever they wish? Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole develop and defend opposing answers to this timely and important question. Appealing to the right to freedom of association, Wellman contends that legitimate states have broad discretion to exclude potential immigrants, even those who desperately seek to enter. Against this, Cole argues that the commitment to the moral (...) equality of all human beings - which legitimate states can be expected to hold - means national borders must be open: equal respect requires equal access, both to territory and membership; and that the idea of open borders is less radical than it seems when we consider how many territorial and community boundaries have this open nature. In addition to engaging with each other's arguments, Wellman and Cole address a range of central questions and prominent positions on this topic. The authors therefore provide a critical overview of the major contributions to the ethics of migration, as well as developing original, provocative positions of their own. (shrink)
Many people believe in angels and evil spirits, and popular culture abounds in talk about encounters with such entities. Yet the question of the existence of such spirits is ignored in the academy. Even the Christian Church, which one might expect to show keen interest in transcendent realities, does not appear to be paying much attention. In this book Phillip Wiebe defends the plausibility of the traditional Christian claim that spirits are real. Wiebe examines descriptions of encounters with both (...) good and evil transcendent beings in biblical times and in later Christian history, along with recent accounts of similar experiences. He argues that invisible beings can be postulated to explain events just as unobservable objects are postulated in many scientific theories. Beyond supporting claims for the existence of lesser spirits such as demons and angels, this empirical approach yields important results for assessing common arguments surrounding the existence of God - a question that has become artificially separated from the question of spirits as such. Grounding his argument in a wide range of phenomena - from near death experiences to demonic possession - Wiebe offers a sophisticated case for belief in God on philosophical and epistemological grounds. (shrink)
Phillip Cary argues that Augustine invented or created the concept of self as an inner space--as space into which one can enter and in which one can find God. This concept of inwardness, says Cary, has worked its way deeply into the intellectual heritage of the West and many Western individuals have experienced themselves as inner selves. After surveying the idea of inwardness in Augustine's predecessors, Cary offers a re-examination of Augustine's own writings, making the controversial point that in (...) his early writings Augustine appears to hold that the human soul is quite literally divine. Cary goes on to contend that the crucial Book 7 of the Confessions is not a historical report of Augustine's "conversion" experience, but rather an explanation of his intellectual development over time. (shrink)
It is widely held that the logical problem of evil, which alleges an inconsistency between the existence of evil and that of an omnipotent and morally perfect God, has been solved. D. Z. Phillips thinks this is a mistake. In The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God, he argues that, within the generally assumed framework, “neither the proposition ’God is omnipotent’ nor the proposition ‘God is perfectly good’ can get off the ground.” Thus, the problem of evil leads (...) to the problem of God. Phillips goes on to provide an alternative response to the problem of evil, expounded by means of his Wittgensteinian analyses of various concepts drawn from the Christian tradition. I argue that his criticisms of the traditional conception of God either fail outright or are at best inconclusive. I also point out that the religious concepts analyzed by Phillips are not and cannot be the same concepts as those employed in the Christian tradition from which they are supposedly drawn. For the concepts as traditionally employed presuppose the actual existence and activity of precisely the sort of being that, according to Phillips, “God cannot be.”. (shrink)
In this response to D. Z. Phillips's critique of my interpretation of Wittgenstein's view of magic and ritual, I counter Phillips's claim that I have misrepresented the Wittgensteinian view of ritual, consider the instrumentalist dimension of the Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, offer some objections to Phillips's expressivist view that a ritual ‘says itself’, and detect obscurantism in his approach to the study of religion.
I would like to thank the editors of Philosophy East and West for courteously asking me if I would like to respond to Matthew Dasti and Stephen Phillips' very thoughtful remarks about the review I wrote of Phillips' translation and commentary on the pratyakṣa chapter of Gaṅgeśa's Tattvacintāmaṇi, prepared in collaboration with N. S. Ramanuja Tatacharya (Phillips and Tatacharya 2004). Let me begin by reaffirming what I said at the beginning of my review, that the book is "a monumental and (...) momentous achievement, one whose importance cannot be understated." I have indeed enormous admiration for the magnitude of their achievement and respect for the contribution they have made through this translation to the field of .. (shrink)
D. Z. Phillips is widely assumed to have held that Christian immortality has no reality outside of language. The author challenges that assumption, demonstrating that Phillips wished to show that contemporary analytic philosophy distorts the reality that immortality has for believers. While most philosophical accounts of Christian immortality depend upon terms that have little religious significance, Phillips offered accounts that stress the centrality of that significance. The author gives an account of the sort of philosophical attention that Phillips gave to (...) Christian immortality and demonstrates Phillips’ lament for both the lack of this sort of attention in contemporary philosophy as well as the loss of certain ways of living that exemplify a belief in eternal life with God. (shrink)
In this essay dedicated to the memory of D. Z. Phillips, I propose to do two things. In the first part I present his position on the grammar of God and the language game in some detail, discussing the confusion of "subliming" the logic of our language, the contextual genesis of sense and meaning, the idea of a world view, language game, logic, and grammar internal to each context, the constitution of the religious context, and the grammar of God proper (...) to that context. In the second part I present my appreciative critical reflection by arguing that the conception of context and language game must be made more dialectical, that the grammar of God needs more systematic metaphysical analysis, and that a greater sense of the radical transcendence of God over a language game is necessary in order to avoid reductionism always inherent in any contextual approach. (shrink)
This paper responds to John Haldane's recent criticisms of D. Z. Phillips' treatment of the Christian belief in eternal life. I argue that Haldane's attempt to show that Phillips only partially elucidates, and hence misrepresents, this belief is unsuccessful, the biblical and theological passages cited by Haldane being amenable to elucidation in terms of which Phillips would have approved. Haldane makes three points to support his main claim, and I argue that none of these has significant force against Phillips' position (...) unless we presuppose the truth of some realist account of meaning, which Phillips would, of course, reject. (shrink)
This paper critically discusses D. Z. Phillips’ use of literary works as a resource for philosophical reflection on religion. Beginning by noting Phillips’ suggestion, made in relation to Waiting for Godot , that the possibilities of meaning that we see in a literary work can reveal something of our own religious sensibility, I then proceed to show what we learn about Phillips from his readings of certain works by Larkin, Tennyson, and Wharton. Through exploring alternative possible readings, I argue that, (...) although Phillips’ discussions are of considerable philosophical interest, they undermine his claim to be deploying a purely contemplative hermeneutical method. (shrink)
This paper notes and discusses some key arguments in Part One of The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God by D. Z. Phillips. With an eye on some texts of Thomas Aquinas, I reject Phillips's view that belief in divine omnipotence leads to absurd claims concerning God, but I defend his rejection of anthropomorphism when it comes to talk of God, and, with qualifications, I defend and elaborate on his suggestion that God is not a moral agent. I (...) also commend his critique of certain well-known theodicies (e.g. that provided by Richard Swinburne), although I challenge his appeal to what he calls “the grammar of God.”. (shrink)
As an illustration of what Phillips called the "heterogeneity of sense," this essay concentrates on differences in what is meant by a "reason for belief." Sometimes saying that a belief is reasonable simply commends the belief's unquestioned acceptance as a part of what we understand as a sensible outlook. Here the standard picture of justifying truth claims on evidential grounds breaks down; and it also breaks down in cases of fundamental moral and religious disagreement, where the basic beliefs that we (...) hold affect our conception of what counts as a reliable ground of judgment. Phillips accepts the resultant variations in our conceptions of rational judgment as a part of logic, just as Wittgenstein did. All objective means of determining the truth or falsity of an assertion presume some underlying conceptual agreement about what counts as good judgment. This means that the possibility of objective justification is limited. But no pernicious relativism results from this view, for as Wittgenstein said, "After reason comes persuasion." There is, moreover, a non-objective criterion of sorts in the moral and religious requirement that one be able to live with one's commitments. In such cases, good judgment is still possible, but it differs markedly from the standard model of making rational inferences. (shrink)
Section I argues that theistic religions incorporate metaphysical systems and that these systems are explanatory. Section II defends these claims against D. Z. Phillips''s objections to the epistemic realism and correspondence theory of truth which they imply. I conclude by raising questions about the status of Phillips''s own project.
This article addresses some issues concerning the relation between religious beliefs and the fruits of those beliefs, where ‘fruits’ implies certain relevant forms of behaviour and affective attitudes. My primary aim is to elucidate the dispute between D. Z. Phillips and theological realists, emphasizing the extent to which this dispute is symptomatic of a deeper disagreement over how words acquire their meanings. In the course of doing so, I highlight an important difference between two alternative realist claims, exemplified by Trigg (...) and Hick respectively, and draw attention to an infelicity in Phillips’ way of presenting his case. (shrink)
Mikel Burley challenges that my essay, "Philosophy, Death and Immortality," in which I discussed the views of Dewi Phillips, fails to establish the case for a realist treatment of claims about the resurrection of Jesus and the general resurrection of human beings. I respond to these criticisms by again distinguishing between the analysis of the sense of religious claims and the determination of whether they purport to make reference beyond human language and practices. I consider particular texts drawn from Christian (...) scripture and argue that they are best understood in realist terms. I conclude by pointing out that a Wittgensteinean about meaning need not be a linguistic idealist. (shrink)
This paper explores D. Z. Phillips' contemplative conception of the method and task of philosophy. I will start by describing two conceptions of philosophy which are rejected by Phillips and which, in his view, collide with contemplative philosophy. These have been called ‘philosophy as a guide of life’ and ‘the underlabourer conception of philosophy’. After that I will give an account of Phillips' Rheesian conception of the fundamental themes of philosophy: the nature of reality and the possibility of discourse. In (...) the last part of my paper I will deal with the alleged difference between the contemplative and the therapeutical conception of philosophy. (shrink)
Religious beliefs have often been taken either as absolutely foundational to all others or as ultimately founded on something else. This essay starts with an endorsement of the contemporary critique of foundationalism but sets its task as to search for the foundation(s) of religious belief after foundationalism. In its third and main part, it argues for a Wittgensteinian reflective equilibrium (within a belief system, between believing and acting and among people with different ways of believing and acting) as such a (...) foundation. In this reflective equilibrium, religious beliefs are no more and no less foundational to, or founded by, other beliefs and practices. To appreciate this perspective better, I argue, in the first part, that Kai Neilsen's charge of Wittgenstein as a fideist is not accurate, and, in the second part, that D. Z. Phillips's fideistic contentions are unWittgensteinian. (shrink)
David Lewis's book 'On the Plurality of Worlds' mounts an extended defense of the thesis of modal realism, that the world we inhabit the entire cosmos of which we are a part is but one of a vast plurality of worlds, or cosmoi, all causally and spatiotemporally isolated from one another. The purpose of this article is to provide an accessible summary of the main positions and arguments in Lewis's book.
Intelligent design creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator’s interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties. Despite these difficulties and despite ID’s defeat in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), ID creationists’ continuing efforts to promote the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms threaten both science education and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. I examine the (...) ID movement’s failure to provide either a methodology or a functional epistemology to support their supernaturalism, a deficiency that consequently leaves them without epistemic support for their creationist claims. My examination focuses primarily on ID supporter Francis Beckwith, whose published defenses of teaching ID, as well as his other relevant publications concerning education, law, and public policy, have been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. Beckwith’s work exhibits the epistemological deficiencies of the supernaturally grounded views of his ID associates and of supernaturalists in general. I preface my examination of Beckwith’s arguments with (1) philosopher of science Susan Haack’s clarification of the established naturalistic methodology and epistemology of science and (2) discussions of the views of Beckwith’s ID associates Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. Finally, I critique the religious exclusionism that Beckwith shares with his ID associates and the implications of his exclusionism for public policy. (shrink)
According to David Lewis, a realist about possible worlds must hold that actuality is relative: the worlds are ontologically all on a par; the actual and the merely possible differ, not absolutely, but in how they relate to us. Call this 'Lewisian realism'. The alternative, 'Leibnizian realism', holds that actuality is an absolute property that marks a distinction in ontological status. Lewis presents two arguments against Leibnizian realism. First, he argues that the Leibnizian realist cannot account for the contingency of (...) actuality. Second, he argues that the Leibnizian realist cannot explain why skepticism about one's own actuality is absurd. In this paper, I mount a defense of Leibnizian realism. (shrink)
Business ethics is a topic receiving much attention in the literature. However, the term ‘business ethics’ is not adequately defined. Typical definitions refer to the rightness or wrongness of behavior, but not everyone agrees on what is morally right or wrong, good or bad, ethical or unethical. To complicate the problem, nearly all available definitions exist at highly abstract levels. This article focuses on contemporary definitions of business ethics by business writers and professionals and on possible areas of agreement among (...) the available definitions. Then a definition is synthesized that is broad enough to cover the field of management in a sense as full as most managers might conceive of it. (shrink)
It follows from Humean principles of plenitude, I argue, that island universes are possible: physical reality might have 'absolutely isolated' parts. This makes trouble for Lewis's modal realism; but the realist has a way out. First, accept absolute actuality, which is defensible, I argue, on independent grounds. Second, revise the standard analysis of modality: modal operators are 'plural', not 'individual', quantifiers over possible worlds. This solves the problem of island universes and confers three additional benefits: an 'unqualified' principle of compossibility (...) can be accepted; the possibility of nothing can be accommodated; and the identity of indiscernible worlds can be decisively refuted. (shrink)
The most commonly heard proposals for reducing possible worlds to language succumb to a simple cardinality argument: it can be shown that there are more possible worlds than there are linguistic entities provided by the proposal. In this paper, I show how the standard proposals can be generalized in a natural way so as to make better use of the resources available to them, and thereby circumvent the cardinality argument. Once it is seen just what the limitations are on these (...) more general proposals, it can be clearly seen where the real difficulty lies with any attempt to reduce possible worlds to language. Roughly, the difficulty is this: no actual language could have the descriptive resources needed to represent all the ways things might have been. I conclude by arguing that this same difficulty spells doom for any nominalist or conceptualist proposal for reducing possible worlds. (shrink)
Some argue, following Bertrand Russell, that because general truths are not entailed by particular truths, general facts must be posited to exist in addition to particular facts. I argue on the contrary that because general truths (globally) supervene on particular truths, general facts are not needed in addition to particular facts; indeed, if one accepts the Humean denial of necessary connections between distinct existents, one can further conclude that there are no general facts. When entailment and supervenience do not coincide (...) it is only failure of supervenience, not failure of entailment, that carries ontological import. (shrink)
This paper has a threefold purpose: to question the adequacy of two familiar proposals for explaining the permissibility of harming others in self-defense, to suggest an alternative explanation, and to answer some objections to this latter explanation. By and large, discussions of the proposals whose adequacy I will question focus on what they imply about the permissibility of self-defense in controversial cases. I will argue here that the proposals themselves contain large and significant theoretical gaps. Accordingly, examining their implications for (...) controversial cases is premature, since they don’t adequately explain permissible self-defense in even the clearest cases—that is, those in which people defend themselves against “culpable attackers”. (shrink)
The article explicates a notion of prudence according to which an agent acts prudently if he acts so as to satisfy not only his present preferences, but his past and future preferences as well. A simplified decision-theoretic framework is developed within which three analyses of prudence are presented and compared. That analysis is defended which can best handle cases in which an agent's present act will affect his future preferences.
If realism about possible worlds is to succeed in eliminating primitive modality, it must provide an 'analysis' of possible world: nonmodal criteria for demarcating one world from another. This David Lewis has done. Lewis holds, roughly, that worlds are maximal unified regions of logical space. So far, so good. But what Lewis means by 'unification' is too narrow, I think, in two different ways. First, for Lewis, all worlds are (almost) 'globally' unified: at any world, (almost) every part is directly (...) linked to (almost) every other part. I hold instead that some worlds are 'locally' unified: at some worlds, parts are directly linked only to "neighboring" parts. Second, for Lewis, each world is (analogically) 'spatio-temporally' unified; every world is 'spatio-temporally' isolated from every other. I hold instead: a world may be unified by nonspatio-temporal relations; every world is 'absolutely' isolated from every other. If I am right, Lewis's conception of logical space is impoverished: perfectly respectable worlds are missing. (shrink)
Time travelers and battles between people and machines provoke old philosophical questions: Can the past really be changed? How do we differentiate ourselves from machines? Can machines have an inner life? Brown (philosophy & critical thinking, LaGuardia Community Coll.) and Decker (philosophy, Eastern Washington Univ.; coeditor, Star Wars and Philosophy ) collect 19 essays by primarily young academics who pursue these questions with entertaining verve and philosophical skill. The Terminator story is about something well intentioned—a defense project—going wrong, but none (...) of the essays here presses this issue to a clear conclusion (readers whose interest is aroused would do well to read Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen's Moral Machines , concerned with actual machines and ones that might soon exist). Among the book's bright spots are contributions from Harry Chotiner and Jennifer Culver that show us something about how the movies work and explore the feminist issues posed by placing Sarah Connor at the center of the story. One essayist, Phillip Seng, addresses the philosophical trouble at the heart of the tale: telling good from evil in politics is hard. This book will earn a place in libraries by presenting serious issues in a way that attracts readers.—Leslie Armour, Dominican Univ. Coll., Ottawa, Ont. (shrink)
Terrorism, torture, and the problems of evil -- Diabolical evil, searching for Satan -- Philosophies of evil -- Communities of fear -- The enemy within -- Bad seeds -- The character of evil -- Facing the Holocaust -- Twenty-first-century mythologies.
In his book The Myth of Evil , Phillip Cole claims that the concept of evil divides normal people from inhuman, demonic and monstrous wrongdoers. Such monsters are found in fiction, Cole maintains, but not in reality. Thus, even if the concept of evil has the requisite form to be explanatorily useful, it will be of no explanatory use in the real world. My aims in this paper are to assess Cole’s arguments for the claim that there are no (...) actual evil persons, and, in so doing, to develop a clearer framework in which to think about evil personhood. While Cole is right to claim that there are no actual evil monsters or supernatural demons, he underestimates the extent to which ascriptions of demonic monstrosity are figurative rather than literal. Hence, a lack of actual monsters does not imply a lack of actual evil persons. More plausibly, Cole suggests that the concept of evil implies an unrealistically dualistic worldview, with purely evil people on one side and ordinary people on the other. Since no one is purely bad, Cole claims, the concept of evil fails to refer to actual persons. Cole is wrong to think that the use of extreme moral concepts is incompatible with fine-grained moral evaluations across a broad spectrum between the extremes. Nor is Cole sufficiently careful in unpacking the various ways in which a person might be considered purely bad. I will argue that some actual persons are extremely bad, that it is very likely that some actual persons are fixedly bad, and that quite possibly no actual persons are thoroughly bad or innately bad. It is plausible that a person is evil only if he is extremely and fixedly bad, but Cole is wrong to suppose that a person is evil only if he is thoroughly and innately bad. Thus, even if we accept Cole’s claim that no actual person is thoroughly or innately bad, it still seems very likely that some actual persons are evil, and hence that evil can be an explanatorily useful concept. (shrink)
Indigenous peoples have for millennia observed and lived in deference to the same universe as scientists who meticulously record and measure information, but their deep knowledge of the natural world remains unacknowledged by the greater society. This article relates some of that knowledge to physics concepts, particularly relativity and quantum theory, as an initial step toward conveying certain realities of the American Indian world into a Western scientific context such that their meaning is not lost. Modern physics has not only (...) revealed a cosmic order that is vastly different from the classical realm but one that also closely corresponds to the conceptual world of the American Indian. The author emphasizes the work and concepts articulated by Einstein and Bohm because of the evidence they provide for the latter's notion of the cosmos as an "unbroken whole," which is also a prominent concept among tribal peoples. In view of how American Indian traditions carry human experiences beyond the physical into the spiritual realm, emphasizing practical survival skills and intuition rather than measurement, the author believes that the places where tribal and Western systems of knowledge meet can become important gateways to realms that are currently unfamiliar to the Western world. (shrink)
Abstract: In this paper I consider recent attempts to establish that the geometry of visual experience is a spherical geometry. These attempts, offered by Gideon Yaffe, James van Cleve and Gordon Belot, follow Thomas Reid in arguing for an equivalency of a geometry of ‘visibles’ and spherical geometry. I argue that although the proposed equivalency is successfully established by the strongest form of the argument, this does not warrant any conclusion about the geometry of visual experience. I argue, firstly, that (...) the resistance of this contemporary argument to empirical considerations counts against its plausibility. Moreover, I argue that the contemporary approach provides no compelling reason for supposing that the geometry offered as the geometry of ‘visibles’ is the correct geometrical description of visual experience. (shrink)
I am a realist of a metaphysical stripe. I believe in an immense realm of "modal" and "abstract" entities, of entities that are neither part of, nor stand in any causal relation to, the actual, concrete world. For starters: I believe in possible worlds and individuals; in propositions, properties, and relations (both abundantly and sparsely conceived); in mathematical objects and structures; and in sets (or classes) of whatever I believe in. Call these sorts of entity, and the reality they comprise, (...) metaphysical. In contrast, call the actual, concrete entities, and the reality they comprise, physical. Physical and metaphysical reality together comprise all that there is. In this paper, it is not my aim to defend realism about any particular metaphysical sort of entity. Rather, I ask quite generally whether and how any brand of realism about metaphysical sorts of entity could be justified? (shrink)
Just what is full-blooded platonism?’ Greg Restall outlines several objections to Mark Balaguer's theory of full-blooded platonism. I reply to these objections by explicating the semantic framework for the reference of mathematical terms that full-blooded platonism requires. Expanding upon these replies, I then explain how the full-blooded platonist, in light of the explicated semantic framework, should treat mathematical terms and statements in order to avoid certain pitfalls. I want to thank Mark Balaguer, Phillip Bricker, and Greg Restall for helpful (...) comments on earlier drafts of this paper. (shrink)
In this discussion of Colin McGinn's book, 'Logical Properties', I comment first on the chapter "Existence", then on the chapter "Modality." With respect to existence, I argue that McGinn's view that existence is a property that some objects have and other objects lack requires the property of existence to be fundamentally unlike ordinary qualitative properties. Moreover, it opens up a challenging skeptical problem: how do I know that I exist? With respect to modality, I argue that McGinn's argument that quantificational (...) analyses of modality in terms of possible worlds are inevitably circular does not apply to modal theorists who hold that the notion of an impossible world is incoherent. (shrink)
Moral philosophy in all its contemporary forms, whether consequentialist, formalist, contractarian, utilitarian, or virtue ethicist, presumes the possibility of formulating principles of conduct that apply universally to all human beings. Standard exceptions are infants and young children, persons who are clinically insane, and persons with reduced mental capacity. These exceptions are recognized by all modern systems of morality and law. The inability to distinguish right from wrong, due to immature age, mental disorganization, or insufficient intelligence is grounds to exempt any (...) given person from moral responsibility and moral agency.Human beings not bound by such conditions are distinguished by their capacity .. (shrink)
In an article previously published in this journal, Phillip Montague critically surveys and rejects a handful of contemporary attempts to explain why state punishment is morally justified. Among those targeted is one of my defences of the censure theory of punishment, according to which state punishment is justified because the political community has a duty to express disapproval of those guilty of injustice. My defence of censure theory supposes, per argumentum, that there is always some defeasible moral reason for (...) the state to proportionately punish the guilty, and then demonstrates that censure theory best entails and explains this intuition. Montague does not question the intuition, but instead argues that three rival theories of punishment, including his societal-defence view, account for it to no worse a degree than my censure theory. In this article I defend my initial argument, noting resources for its defence that Montague does not appreciate and that, I maintain, provide those who believe that there is always pro tanto injustice in the state failing to proportionately punish the guilty reason to adopt censure theory over all competitors, including Montagueâs societal-defence theory. (shrink)
This is a critical and exegetical introduction to the work and thought of Hannah Arendt, one of the most powerful and important political thinkers of the twentieth century. The book traces the connections in Arendt's work between public life and political thinking and the ways in which each informs the other. In conclusion, the author suggests why Arendt provides a unique way of rendering the political visible and relevant to people in an everyday setting.
Modal sentences of the form "every F might be G" and "some F must be G" have a threefold ambiguity. in addition to the familiar readings "de dicto" and "de re", there is a third reading on which they are examples of the "plural de re": they attribute a modal property to the F's plurally in a way that cannot in general be reduced to an attribution of modal properties to the individual F's. The plural "de re" readings of modal (...) sentences cannot be captured within standard quantified modal logic. I consider various strategies for extending standard quantified modal logic so as to provide analyses of the readings in question. I argue that the ambiguity in question is associated with the scope of the general term 'F'; and that plural quantifiers can be introduced for purposes of representing the scope of a general term. Moreover, plural quantifiers provide the only fully adequate solution that keeps within the framework of quantified modal logic. (shrink)
Hans Joas has called the German reception of pragmatism “a history of misunderstandings.” This is certainly true of the Frankfurt School’s reception of John Dewey’s work. Even as early as Lukács’ History and Class Consciousness, which exercised such an influence on the western Marxism of the Frankfurt School, pragmatism is taken as a willful abandonment of reason’s highest purpose. Pragmatism is equated with relativism and is only able to conceive of freedom within the gaps of a reified society (1971: 194– (...) 195). Adorno, seemingly the most receptive to Dewey’s thought, believed pragmatism to be the a priori exclusion of metaphysics (1973: 373). Marcuse, the subject of this introduction, reviewed Dewey’s Theory of .. (shrink)
What is the relation between past and present, and what role does historical research, writing and thinking play in regards to that relation? Does it, for instance, primarily record the features of objective breaks and continuities between past and future (as A. Danto has it) or does it rather institute those breaks and continuities (as C. Fasolt has recently argued)? Here I stress that historical understanding is a basic dimension of understanding in general, including understanding of the relation of past (...) and future. Historical research, writing and thinking promise indefinite expansion and qualification of that understanding. In contrast to Danto and with Fasolt, I hold that the possibilities of qualification cannot be definitively foreclosed; against Fasolt I urge an epistemological optimism about the consequences of that admission. (shrink)
Which mathematical structures are possible, that is, instantiated by the concrete inhabitants of some possible world? Are there worlds with four-dimensional space? With infinite-dimensional space? Whence comes our knowledge of the possibility of structures? In this paper, I develop and defend a principle of plenitude according to which any mathematically natural generalization of possible structure is itself possible. I motivate the principle pragmatically by way of the role that logical possibility plays in our inquiry into the world.
: The transplantation of adult human neural stem cells into prenatal non-humans offers an avenue for studying human neural cell development without direct use of human embryos. However, such experiments raise significant ethical concerns about mixing human and nonhuman materials in ways that could result in the development of human-nonhuman chimeras. This paper examines four arguments against such research, the moral taboo, species integrity, "unnaturalness," and human dignity arguments, and finds the last plausible. It argues that the transfer of human (...) brain or retinal stem cells to nonhuman embryos would not result in the development of human-nonhuman chimeras that denigrate human dignity, provided such stem cells are dissociated. The article provides guidelines that set ethical boundaries for conducting such research that are consonant with the requirements of human dignity. (shrink)
In this paper, I critique two conceptions of mechanisms, namely those put forth by Stuart Glennan (Erkenntnis 44:49–71, 1996; Philosophy of Science 69:S342–S353, 2002) and Machamer et al. (Philosophy of Science 67:1–25, 2000). Glennan’s conception, I argue, cannot account for mechanisms involving negative causation because of its interactionist posture. MDC’s view encounters the same problem due to its reificatory conception of activities—this conception, I argue, entails an onerous commitment to ontological dualism. In the place of Glennan and MDC, I propose (...) a “modified conception” of mechanisms, which (a) obviates the problem of negative causation by reinterpreting MDC’s activities according to a “descriptivist” account, and (b) avoids MDC’s problem by postulating a monistic ontology of entities. Thus, by solving these problems, my modified conception offers a cogent, more adequate alternative to Glennan’s and MDC’s conceptions of mechanisms. (shrink)
Presumed long-since dead by Nietzsche, God has made a remarkable comeback in the recent work of Derrida and Levinas who have made people think about theology and what it has to offer in light of the nihilism of postmodern thinking. Post-Secular Philosophy explores the relationship between theology, the major thinkers of the philosophical tradition, and the broader debates about God within modern philosophy and the role of God in postmodern thought. Beginning with Descartes, Kant and Hegel and ending with Derrida, (...) Levinas and Baudrillard, this book provides a thorough discussion of the philosophical and cultural importance of theology within postmodernism. Fifteen chapters consider each of these philosophers in turn: Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Freud, Wittgenstein, Lacan, Levinas, Derrida, Marion, Kristeva, Irigaray and Baudrillard. (shrink)
Dewey’s book is the first systematic attempt at a pragmatistic logic (since the work of Peirce). Because of the ambiguity of the concept of pragmatism, the author rejects the concept in general. But, if one interprets pragmatism correctly, then this book is ‘through and through Pragmatistic’. What he understands as ‘correct’ will become clear in the following account. The book takes its subject matter far beyond the traditional works on logic. It is a material logic first in the sense that (...) the matter of logic (the ‘objects’, that with which logical thought has to do) is thoroughly included in the cycle of investigation, and logical ‘forms’ are discussed only in their constitutional connection with this .. (shrink)
This essay offers a critical introduction to the intellectual issues involved in the Kitzmiller case relating to intelligent design, and to Steve Fuller’s involvement in it. It offers a brief appraisal of the intelligent design movement stemming from the work of Phillip E. Johnson, and of Steve Fuller’s case for intelligent design in a rather different sense.