Schueler has argued, against the eliminativist, that human purposive action cannot be an illusion because the concept of purpose is not theoretical. He argues that the concept is known directly to be instantiated, through self-awareness; and that to maintain that the concept is theoretical involves an infinite regress. I show that Schueler’s argument fails because all our concepts are theoretical in the sense that we may be mistaken in applying them to our experience. As a consequence, it is conceivable (...) that direct introspection of an event as a purposive action may be mistaken. I indicate ways in which the eliminativist may be able to explain why our perception and introspection is afflicted with systematic error. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the traditional religious account of what can make a life meaningful, namely, the view that one's life acquires significance insofar as one fulfils a purpose God has assigned. Call this view ‘purpose theory’. In the literature, there are objections purporting to show that purpose theory entails the logical absurdities that God is not moral, omnipotent, or eternal. I show that there are versions of purpose theory which are not vulnerable to these (...) reductio arguments. However, I then contend that there is a problem facing purpose theory which no version can avoid. I argue that the best reason for holding a God-centred theory of life's meaning logically precludes the possibility of purpose theory being the correct version of it. More specifically, I argue that if a relationship with God is necessary for one's life to acquire meaning, this must be because God would have properties such as atemporality and simplicity, perfections which are incompatible with purposiveness. I conclude that religious thinkers have good reason to develop other theories of the way God could confer meaning on our lives. (shrink)
Elsewhere I have contended that if a God-centred account of meaning in life were true, it would not be because meaning comes from fulfilling God’s purpose for us. Specifically, I have argued that this ‘purpose theory’ of life’s meaning cannot be the correct God-based view since God would have to be atemporal, immutable, and simple for meaning to logically depend on His existence, and since such a being lacking extension could not be purposive. Jacob Affolter has developed a (...) fresh account of the kind of purpose that is necessary for meaning in life, has argued that a God without extension could ground it, and has also provided some tentative reason to believe that only such a God could do so. I respond in three ways: by questioning whether the sort of purpose Affolter thinks is necessary for meaning in fact is; by arguing that an extensionless God could not ground it; and by indicating the way that a purely physical world could. (shrink)
Philosophers of evolutionary biology favor the so-called etiological concept of function according to which the function of a trait is its evolutionary purpose, defined as the effect for which that trait was favored by natural selection. We term this the selected effect (SE) analysis of function. An alternative account of function was introduced by Robert Cummins in a non-evolutionary and non-purposive context. Cummins''s account has received attention but little support from philosophers of biology. This paper will show that a (...) similar non-purposive concept of function, which we term causal role (CR) function, is crucial to certain research programs in evolutionary biology, and that philosophical criticisms of Cummins''s concept are ineffective in this scientific context. Specifically, we demonstrate that CR functions are a vital and ineliminable part of research in comparative and functional anatomy, and that biological categories used by anatomists are not defined by the application of SE functional analysis. Causal role functions are non-historically defined, but may themselves be used in an historical analysis. Furthermore, we show that a philosophical insistence on the primary of SE functions places practicing biologists in an untenable position, as such functions can rarely be demonstrated (in contrast to CR functions). Biologists who study the form and function of organismal design recognize that it is virtually impossible to identify the past action of selection on any particular structure retrospectively, a requirement for recognizing SE functions. (shrink)
All univocal analyses of causation face counterexamples. An attractive response to this situation is to become a pluralist about causal relationships. "Causal pluralism" is itself, however, a pluralistic notion. In this article, I argue in favor of pluralism about concepts of cause in the social sciences. The article will show that evidence for, inference from, and the purpose of causal claims are very closely linked. Key Words: causation • pluralism • evidence • methodology.
Lloyd (2009) contends that climate models are confirmed by various instances of fit between their output and observational data. The present paper argues that what these instances of fit might confirm are not climate models themselves, but rather hypotheses about the adequacy of climate models for particular purposes. This required shift in thinking—from confirming climate models to confirming their adequacy-for-purpose—may sound trivial, but it is shown to complicate the evaluation of climate models considerably, both in principle and in practice.
The essay is framed by conflict between Christianity and Darwinian science over the history of the world and the nature of human personhood. Evolutionary science narrates a long prehuman geological and biological history filled with vast amounts, kinds, and distributions of apparently random brutal and pointless suffering. It also strongly suggests that the first modern humans were morally primitive. This science seems to discredit Christianity's common meta-narrative of the Fall, understood as a story of Paradise Lost. The author contends that (...) this Augustinian story and its character of Adam as endowed with superhuman gifts, and yet as so fragile as to fall, as claimed, is implausible, at any rate, even apart from science. He proposes that Christians consider adopting a Supralapsarian metaphysics of divine purpose supported by the intuitions of Irenaeus, who depicted the first human beings as comparable to innocent, but morally undeveloped children. In this approach the existence of evils is part of the divine plan to "defeat" them in and through the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection of Christ. Putting an "Irenaean Adam" in place of the "Augustinian" counterpart may not remove conflict with science completely, but at least reduces it, and leads to a Christian narrative that is more plausible, in the light of science. (shrink)
The empirical findings in Collins and Porras'' study of visionary companies, Built to Last, and the normative claims about the purpose of the business firm in Centesimus Annus are found to be complementary in understanding the purpose of the business firm. A summary of the methodology and findings of Built to Lastand a short overview of Catholic Social Teaching are provided. It is shown that Centesimus Annus'' claim that the purpose of the firm is broader than just (...) profit is consistent with Collins and Porras empirical finding that firms which set a broader objective tend to be more successful than those which pursue only the maximization of profits. It is noted however that a related finding in Collins and Porras, namely that the content of the firm''s objective is not as important as internalizing some objective beyond just profit maximization, can lead to ethical myopia. Two examples are provided of this: the Walt Disney Company and Philip Morris. Centesimus Annus offers a way to expose such myopia, by providing guidance as to what the purpose of the firm is, and therefore as to what kinds of objectives are appropriate to the firm. (shrink)
The concepts of (i) being, (ii) change, (iii) causation, (iv) action, and (v) purpose are concepts of decreasing generality, in this sense: (a) each can be understood only in terms of its predecessor on the list, and (b) while the first applies to everything, the others, in order, have an increasingly narrow scope. Much Western philosophy has amounted to an attempt to reduce one or more of these to those that precede them, and thus eliminate them as concepts necessary (...) for philosophical understanding, but all such attempts seem to have failed. Hume did not reduce (iii) to (ii), the numberless attempts to reduce (iv) to (iii) seem clearly to have failed, and, what very few seem as yet to have realized, the attempts to reduce (v) to (iv) are unpromising. Not only is agency necessary for understanding human behavior, it seems also necessary to understanding thought, and the same appears true of the concept of purpose. (shrink)
Many of the current debates in jurisprudence focus on articulating the boundaries of law. In this essay I challenge this approach on two separate grounds. I first argue that if such debates are to be about law, their purported subject, they ought to pay closer attention to the practice. When such attention is taken it turns out that most of the debates on the boundaries of law are probably indeterminate. I show this in particular with regard to the debate between (...) inclusive and exclusive positivists: I present several ways of understanding what this debate is about and argue that none of them is defensible. My second argument focuses more on the purpose of jurisprudential inquiry. I argue there that even if some jurisprudential debates have determinate answers, it does not follow that they deserve our attention, because not all true facts are worth knowing. After discussing and rejecting the claim that jurisprudence could be justified as knowledge for its own sake, I propose one possible justification for engaging in legal philosophy and outline its implications for the kind of issues that should be pursued. (shrink)
I argue that addiction is not a chronic, relapsing, neurobiological disease characterized by compulsive use of drugs or alcohol. Large-scale national survey data demonstrate that rates of substance dependence peak in adolescence and early adulthood and then decline steeply; addicts tend to “mature out” in their late twenties or early thirties. The exceptions are addicts who suffer from additional psychiatric disorders. I hypothesize that this difference in patterns of use and relapse between the general and psychiatric populations can be explained (...) by the purpose served by drugs and alcohol for patients. Drugs and alcohol alleviate the severe psychological distress typically experienced by patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders and associated problems. On this hypothesis, consumption is a chosen means to ends that are rational to desire: Use is not compulsive. The upshot of this explanation is that the orthodox view of addiction as a chronic, relapsing neurobiological disease is misguided. I delineate five folk psychological factors that together explain addiction as purposive action: strong and habitual desire; willpower; motivation; functional role; and decision and resolve. I conclude by drawing lessons for research and effective treatment. (shrink)
Whitehead and others have decried the ,,bifurcation of nature“, that is, the split between the world depicted by science, which lacks such phenomena as purpose, meaning, and value, and the world of human experience, which is largely constituted by those same phenomena. In order to guide our thinking about how this split might possibly be overcome, I propose three guiding principles, which I hope will be widely accepted: (1) The reality of the human world; (2) The cognitive excellence of (...) empirical science; and (3) The unification of knowledge. All three of these principles are eminently reasonable, and yet they appear to form an inconsistent triad. Naturalism, as the metaphysical worldview extrapolated from empirical science, is distinguished from empirical science as such. I propose that the only way to reconcile the three guiding principles is to reform naturalism in such a way as to recognize the objective reality of biological purpose. Such a reform in the foundations of biology might then provide us with a foundation for reconstructing our view of the human world. The argument in support of this proposed reform proceeds in two stages. First, as pars destruens, I show that naturalism as usually construed is anyway untenable, because the two chief theories by means of which biological purpose is supposed to be reduced to mechanism - the theory of natural selection and the theory of cybernetic control - fail as reductive schemas because each theory tacitly presupposes purpose at a crucial point in its explanatory structure. Second, as pars construens, I discuss the possibility of using some concepts borrowed from nonlinear dynamics and condensed-matter physics as a way of directly representing biological purpose as a real, emergent phenomenon. Finally, I end with a brief reflection on the implications of the doctrine of ontological emergence for the principle of the unification of knowledge. German Whitehead und andere Autoren haben die ,,Verzweigung der Natur“, d. h. die Kluft zwischen der von den Naturwissenschaften beschriebenen Welt, die keine Phänomene der Art von Zielen, Bedeutung und Wert enthält, und der Welt der menschlichen Erfahrung, die weitgehend von eben diesen Phänomenen konstituiert ist, beklagt. Um unsere Überlegungen darüber, wie diese Kluft eventuell überwunden werden kann, zu leiten, schlage ich drei Leitprinzipien vor, von denen ich hoffe, daß sie weitgehend akzeptiert werden: (1) die Realität der menschlichen Welt; (2) die kognitive Exzellenz der empirischen Wissenschaft; und (3) die Vereinheitlichung der Erkenntnis. Alle drei Prinzipien scheinen in hohem Masse vernünftig, und dennoch scheinen sie eine inkonsistente Triade zu bilden. Der Naturalismus als die metaphysische Weltauffassung, die aus der empirischen Wissenschaft extrapoliert wird, sollte von der empirischen Wissenschaft als solcher unterschieden werden. Ich schlage vor, daß die einzige Art und Weise, die drei Leitprinzipien zu versöhnen, in einer Reform des Naturalismus besteht derart, daß die objektive Realität biologischer Zielsetzung anerkannt wird. Eine solche Reform in den Grundlagen der Biologie kann dann eine Grundlage bilden für eine Rekonstruktion unserer Auffassung der menschlichen Welt. Das Argument für die vorgeschlagene Reform geht nach zwei Stufen vor. Zuerst, als pars destruens, zeige ich, daß der Naturalismus in seiner üblichen Fassung sowieso unannehmbar ist, weil die zwei hauptsächlichen Theorien, durch welche biologische Zielsetzung angeblich auf einen Mechanismus reduziert werden kann - die Theorie der natürlichen Selektion und die Theorie der kybernetischen Kontrolle - keineswegs als reduktive Schemata taugen, weil jede Theorie stillschweigend Zielsetzung an einer entscheidenden Stelle ihre erklärenden Struktur voraussetzt. Zweitens, als pars construens, diskutiere ich die Möglichkeit, bestimmte Begriffe aus der nichtlinearen Dynamik und aus der Festkörperphysik einzusetzen, um biologische Zielsetzung als ein reales, emergentes Phänomen direkt zu repräsentieren. Ich schließe den Aufsatz mit einer kurzen Reflektion über die Konsequenzen der Lehre der ontologischen Emergenz für das Prinzip der Vereinheitlichung der Erkenntnis ab. (shrink)
My purpose is to examine two of the foundations of medical ethics: the principle of autonomy and the concept of the human. I also investigate the extent to which health technology makes autonomy and humanness possible. I begin by underlining Illich's point that the same health technology designed to promote health and autonomy also is pathogenic. I proceed to analyse the Kantian concept of autonomy, a concept which is closely associated with health and which continues to determine current ethical (...) thinking. In so doing, I uncover an unexpected ontological function of health technology, a function described in Heidegger's work on technology. Based on this discovery, I suggest that calls for Kantian autonomy may often be self-defeating or even sometimes harmful. I conclude by calling for continued ethical vigilance, but also for a questioning of the hitherto virtually unquestionable concepts of ethics and humanness which may themselves play a role in our era's greatest problems. (shrink)
The paper explores a case of partnership between a large pharmaceutical company and a national charity in the United Kingdom, a partnership from which the drug company sought improved public relations, and the charity money. Neither side was able to accept this reality. Managers of the partnership insisted that its only purpose was to improve the lifestyle of teenagers. They were supported by a literature on partnership that also tends to ignore the distinction between the task the partnership is (...) set and its fundamental purpose. While much is made of the benefits of partnership, there are likely to be costs, both private and social, associated with failure to admit the purpose of partnership. (shrink)
In his book Nonbelief & Evil, Theodore Drange argues that theists are likely to deploy the “unknown purpose defense” in the face of the existence of apparently gratuitous evils. That is, they will assert that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting apparently gratuitous evil, but that humans do not know those reasons. Drange argues that by deploying the unknown purpose defense, and by challenging atheologians to prove that God does not have such unknown morally sufficient reasons, theists (...) can achieve a stalemate with atheological challengers. I argue, however, that the epistemic burden of ascertaining whether God probably does or does not possess morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil falls asymmetrically on theists and atheists. Further, I argue that, given the failure of theodicies, the condition of nescience, the admission that we are in no position to assess whether God probably does or does not possess morally sufficient reasons for permitting ostensibly gratuitous evil, entails agnosticism about God’s existence. To escape agnosticism, theists will probably claim to have a warranted and properly basic belief in the existence and goodness of God. While I concede that theists may be doing their “epistemic best” in claiming such assurance, I argue that theists must concede that the existence of apparently gratuitous evil equally legitimizes nonbelief. (shrink)
This paper uses the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) statement of union values as its point of departure to explore the purpose and role of trade union values. Specifically, the paper questions whether the role of values is purely symbolic, serving as a guide to unions, or whether values have a broader role. Furthermore, the paper questions the scope of the ACTU statement, which is currently based on the public work of unions. In conducting this analysis, union values (...) are compared to the broader human values; moreover, the scope of the document is assessed against the historic activity and behaviour of unions as represented in extant union theory. Subsequently, the paper uses the emerging role of union values to critique the ACTU statement, concluding that while this statement makes a valuable contribution to union practice and debate, it can be extended to encompass other, more private areas of union activity. (shrink)
It is suggested that general-purpose cognitive modules are the proper endophenotypes on which evolution has operated, not special purpose belief modules. These general-purpose modules operate to extract adaptive cultural patterns. Belief in souls may be adaptive and based in evolved systems without requiring that a specific cognitive system has evolved to support just such beliefs.
In this paper, I consider the objection, raised by Radu Bogdan, that a teleological theory of content is unable to ascribe content to a general-purpose, doxastic system. I begin by giving some attention to the notion of general-purpose representation, and suggest that this notion can best be understood as what I term "interest-independent" representation. I then outline Bogdan's objection in what I take to be its simplest form. I attempt to counter the objection by explaining how a teleologist (...) might ascribe content in a particular case - the case of a perceptual judgement whose content is learned. I reject the idea that the teleologist can appeal to the way in which the subject has used the judgement, or its constituent concepts, in the past, on the grounds that it is possible for the subject to produce judgements and concepts that never help her to satisfy any of her interests. Instead, my account depends on the idea that the process of learning is regulated by a mechanism whose function is to produce a harmony between the information carried by perceptual judgements and the way in which they are used in inference. (shrink)
After distinguishing two senses of 'analysis', the author claims that the purpose of Moore's analytical (meta-ethical) program in Principia Ethica was to serve as an indispensable tool for avoiding false judgments in substantial ethics and for establishing true ones. It is shown that Moore's analyses and assumptions are not normatively neutral in that, (1) he disagreed with other philosophers about the extension (as well as the intension) of moral terms, (2) he disagreed in extension with 'common-sense' morality. Finally, an (...) attempt is made to show that Moore's moral methodology, in which his analytical distinctions play the crucial part, is meant to be of practical value for everybody in their moral decisions. (shrink)
Kant’s analysis of the concept of natural purpose in the Critique of judgment captured several features of organisms that he argued warranted making them the objects of a special field of study, in need of a special regulative teleological principle. By showing that organisms have to be conceived as self-organizing wholes, epigenetically built according to the idea of a whole that we must presuppose, Kant accounted for three features of organisms conflated in the biological sciences of the period: adaptation, (...) functionality and conservation of forms..Kant’s unitary concept of natural purpose was subsequently split in two directions: first by Cuvier’s comparative anatomy, that would draw on the idea of adaptative functions as a regulative principle for understanding in reconstituting and classifying organisms; and then by Goethe’s and Geoffroy’s morphology, a science of the general transformations of living forms. However, such general transformations in nature, objects of an alleged ‘archaeology of nature’, were thought impossible by Kant in the §80 of the Critique of judgment. Goethe made this ‘adventure of reason’ possible by changing the sense of ‘explanation’: scientific explanation was shifted from the investigation of the mechanical processes of generation of individual organisms to the unveiling of some ideal transformations of types instantiated by those organisms. (shrink)
This paper approaches a theory relating authorship, meaning and purpose by semiformalized developments of two "presupposed theories": of purposeful behavior and of sign-reading. The theory of purposeful behavior is made to rest upon two undefined predicates. `Wt(a,p,q)' abbreviates the claim that at time t, person a works at bringing it about that p in order to bring it about that q. `Bt(a,p)' abbreviates the claim that at time t, person a brings it about that p. A number of definitions (...) and laws are based upon these two predicates. One practical utility of the symbolism is a constraint to symbolize differently a purpose, according as what is intended is a purposing or a thing purposed. The theory of sign-reading undertakes to assimilate sign-reading to inference. The theory proposes `Rt(a,p,q)' as a basic undefined predicate, abbreviating the claim that at time t, person a reads that p as a sign that q. The theory of deliberate sign-production, and more particularly of authorship, is approached by permitting the two above sets of symbols to supply arguments one for the other. Specifically, making a deliberate or a candid sign is defined as bringing about a state of affairs in order that an addressee will read the bringing about by the sign-maker of that state of affairs as a sign that such and so. The laws of the two first parts of the paper are then appealed to in order to show that when the sign-making is candid (defined in the paper), the such and so mentioned above must be a feigned or actual purpose of the author. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of what in this total signified purpose of the sign-making might be indentified by reference to the conventional sign-type (sentence) presented. Thus "meaning" of a sentence is thence viewed as an abstraction from the signified meaning (always a purpose) of the uttering. (shrink)
Designed to facilitate economic development, the corporate form now threatens human survival. This article presents an argument that organisations are yet to be ‘fit for purpose’ and that the corporate form needs to be re-designed to reach sustainability. It suggests that organisations need to recognise their agent status amongst a much wider and highly complex array of interconnected, dynamic economic, environmental and social systems. Human Factors theory is drawn on to propose that business systems could be made sustainable through (...) re-design. They could fit their environment more appropriately by improving: Efficiency, Adaptability and Social Cohesion. Leaders of organisations would also need to take a holistic approach to alter the organisation proactively to adapt to the systems within which it is embedded. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to re-emphasise that the purpose of formal systems is to provide something to map into and to stem the tide of unjustified formal systems. I start by arguing that expressiveness alone is not a sufficient justification for a new formal system but that it must be justified on pragmatic grounds. I then deal with a possible objection as might be raised by a pure mathematician and after that to the objection that theory can (...) be later used by more specific models. I go on to compare two different methods of developing new formal systems: by a priori principles and intuitions; and by post hoc generalisation from data and examples. I briefly describe the phenomena of “social embedding” and use it to explain the social processes that underpin “normal” and “revolutionary” science. This suggests social grounds for the popularity of normal science. I characterise the “foundational” and “empirical” approaches to the use of formal systems and situate these with respect to “normal” and “revolutionary” modes of science. I suggest that successful sciences (in the sense of developing relevant mappings to formal systems) bare either more tolerant of revolutionary ideas or this tolerance is part of the reason they are successful. I finish by enumerating a number of ‘tell-tale’ signs that a paper is presenting an unjustified formal system. (shrink)
In this paper we attempt to formulate logical foundations for a theory of actions or performance. Human beings act in various ways, and their actions are intimately interrelated with their use of language. But precisely how actions and the use of language are interrelated is not very clear. One of the reasons is perhaps that we have no precise vocabulary in terms of which such interrelations may be handled. There is need for developing a systematic theory in which different kinds (...) of actions may be discussed, contrasted, and compared. Then the various interrelations between actions and linguistic usage may perhaps be discussed rather more carefully and thoroughly than heretofore. Although much important preliminary work has been done in the analysis of actions, no one it seems has attempted to develop a strict logical theory for such analysis. A few tentative and programmatic steps were taken in the author's Toward a Systematic Pragmatics. Let us attempt here to improve those and take a few more. Any first attempts of this kind are of course fraught with difficulties. There inevitably will be some oversimplification or some overelaboration here or there. Ultimately of course we are interested in interrelating performance with various notions from syntax, semantics, and quantitative pragmatics. But this is not easy and only a few tentative suggestions toward such a development can be given here. In section 1 the distinction between action-kinds and action-events is drawn, and the character of the primitive or primitives needed for the theory of performance is discussed. In section 2 some further notions are then defined. Certain Rules of Performance are suggested in section 3. In section 4 there is discussion of the somewhat tenuous notion of acceptance as a basis for action. In section 5 the fundamental notions required for Parsons and Shils' theory of social action is discussed briefly. In section 6 we attempt to define the two basic notions required in Leonard's recent papers concerning authorship and purpose. Finally, in section 7, the theory of performance is interrelated with von Wright's deontic logic, in which such notions as permission and obligation are considered. (shrink)
Starting from Summa Theologiae 1.2.3.obj.2, I consider some aspects of the term propositum as it occurs in his works. The objection divides “everything thatappears in the world” into what is natural and what is a proposito, and argues that each of these can be accounted for by causes other than God. I suggest that what is a proposito be called “the purposed,” and I try to clarify Aquinas’s understanding of purpose in relation to other notions in his writings, in (...) particular nature, fortune, and above all deliberation or “counsel,” which is the prelude to choice. After some reflection on the theme of “deliberated will” and on the contrast between deliberating and being deliberate, I return to Aquinas’s reply to the objection I began with, then conclude with reference to a recent discussion of the difference between ends and purposes. (shrink)
In God, Chance and Purpose, David Bartholomew uses probability theory to show how Divine Providence can be active in a world governed by chance and necessity. At the micro-level of Nature God uses a statistical formula to control the outcome of seemingly random events; at the macro-level God influences but does not control the outcome of events. From a Whiteheadian perspective “the common element of form” of a society could be seen as the equivalent of Bartholomew’s statistical formula but (...) generated in each case from the bottom-up rather than imposed from the top-down. Yet Bartholomew’s insistence that statistical formulas only work with large groups of entities suggests that more attention should be given by Whiteheadians to the workings of Divine Providence onsocieties as opposed to individual actual entities. (shrink)
No one lives in a cocoon. Instead, the world constantly invades our lives. In response, we give purpose to these invasions. The image, here, is that of a pearl. What is the purpose of a pearl? The pearl is the oyster’s gift to a grain of sand that gets inside the oyster and disturbs it. Of all the gifts we can give, the greatest is the gift of purpose. It is the pearl of great price. All other (...) gifts are ornaments and baubles. A quite different view of purpose is common. According to this view, the invasions of life come with purposes already attached, and our job is to discover those purposes and reconcile ourselves to them. The image, here, is that of a coin. The coin is an instrument for exchange, and its purpose is predefined. Confronted with a coin, we can be ignorant of its purpose or we can consent to it. But, strictly speaking, we cannot rebel against its purpose: in the very act of rebellion, we tacitly consent to it. The problem with this second view is not that it is wrong but that it is incomplete. Where it applies, it presupposes the first view, because even things like coins do not have their purpose intrinsically but as a gift (in this case, from the national treasury). But, more significantly, very little in life has a predefined purpose. To be sure, most things in life occur against a backdrop of purposes. But just as a house composed of bricks is itself not a brick, so an event that occurs against a backdrop of purposes need not itself have a purpose. For instance, a business that goes bankrupt resides in a socioeconomic context chock-full of purposes (the underlying monetary instruments, trading conventions, and contractual understandings are all purpose-driven). But the merchant whose business goes bankrupt cares little about what purposes apply to business life in general. Nor is the 1 merchant’s ultimate concern with the precise reasons why the business went bankrupt. Even if a compelling, rational explanation can be given for why the business failed (mismanagement, unforeseen new technologies, sabotage, etc.), this doesn’t answer the deeper, existential questions of meaning and purpose that invariably arise when things don’t go our way.. (shrink)
Various causal factors have been offered to explain the motives behind the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacs on 9/11 and at various other times and places throughout the world. Quite often the reasons or purposes are said to include political, economic, religious and ethnic factors. Often historical factors, such as colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as nationalism, poverty, class divisions and modernization, are included. But some scholars and political figures, quite inconsistently at times, assert that there is no discernable purpose or (...) purposes in these attacks. It is argued, for example, that the sheer magnitude of the death and carnage in the 9/11 attacks suggests no rational purpose in the minds of the perpetrators. The implication is that the Al-Qaeda attacks are allegedly purely irrational. In contrast, I argue that there are flaws and inconsistencies with this No Purpose Theory, and that oil, moreover, shouldn’t be omitted (as it often is) from any plausible broad explanation of the complex mix of causal factors. Needless to say, to suggest that Al-Qaeda had reasons is not to suggest that the reasons were necessarily good or morally justifiable. Then again, among these reasons it is necessary to sort out the goals from the violent tactics so as to discover why, in particular, many Arabs and Muslims sympathize with some of the goals.This whole issue is important because, among other things, if the No Purpose Theory is assumed to be accurate, it would, at least for the problem at hand, eliminate from serious consideration in one fell swoop literally all of the other possible factors (political, religious, economic, etc.). This would be so in spite of the initial reasonableness of the notion that many of these factors have at least some weight or other. But if, contrary to what the No Purpose Theory says, items such as oil are shown to be actually causally important, and are consequently on the table for more extended and open discussion, then there at least would be a better opportunity for more successfully tackling these problems and ameliorating the risk of future terrorist attacks. At least so I will argue. (shrink)
In human beings, choice and action require a cause of a different kind to link them. Otherwise a vicious regress breaks out. This is cause in the sense of end or purpose. It stands between choice and action, making a reciprocative causal triad. Yet apart from our projects, this triad obtains in nature too, and for the same reason. In reproduction, as in choice and action, means are activities that are directed to the replication of pre-existing patterns as ends. (...) Further, when agents are taken not as active but as capable of certain activities, the latter are not means as in reproduction but themselves ends. In this sense, it can be said that persons have a natural end as persons, a thesis for which two arguments are proposed. (shrink)
This paper discusses Alan Gewirth’s claim that the agent of a voluntary action necessarily values his purpose. It holds that not only is Gewirth wrong in making the claim but that his mistake is of serious importance for his moral theory. The criticism proceeds through an examination of the five arguments advanced by Gewirth, explicitly and implicitly, in support of the proposition that any agent necessarily esteems his goal. A key point in the criticism is that an agent of (...) voluntary action might have his goal capriciously and for that reason might not appreciate the goal. The paper concludes by specifying how Gewirth’s inadequate defense of his claim undercuts certain principles of his moral theory, including the Principle of Generic Consistency. (shrink)
This article responds to a commentary by Christian Schubert on our 'Evolvability and Progress in Evolutionary Economics'. Our response elaborates the key disagreement between Schubert and us, namely, our views about the purpose of an account of progress in evolutionary economics.
There is at present a widespread unease about the direction in which our technology is taking us, apparently against our will. Promising advances seem to carry with them unforeseen negative consequences, including damage to the environment and the reduction of work to the trivial mechanical repetition of actions which have no human meaning. However, attempts to design a better, human-centered technology--one that complements rather than rejects human skills--are all too often frustrated by the prevailing belief that "man is a machine," (...) and one, moreover, that compares badly in terms of performance and durability. This contentious and stimulating book offers a new approach, one that refutes four centuries of science based on strictly causal explanations. It shows that man and nature can be viewed as "machines with a purpose," and that the "purpose" can be the advancement of technology to the benefit and not the detriment of the human race and its environment. This fascinating work is accessible to a wide range of readers, scientists and nonspecialists alike. It will interest anyone concerned about the impact of technology and the way it is shaping our world. (shrink)
Purpose in American philosophy.--Radical empiricism.--Three types and two dogmas of empiricism.--William James as philosophical psychologist.--Charles S. Peirce: community and reality.--The contemporary significance of Royce's theory of the self.--The course of American philosophy.--The philosophy of religion in America.
For many years, biology was largely descriptive (natural history), but with its emergence as a scientific discipline in its own right, a reductionist approach began, which has failed to be matched by adequate understanding of function of cells, organisms and species as whole entities. Every effort was made to explain biological phenomena in physico-chemical terms.It is argued that there is and always has been a clear distinction between life sciences and physical sciences, explicit in the use of the word biology. (...) If this distinction is real, it implies that biological phenomena can never be entirely satisfactorily explained in terms of extant physicochemical laws. One notable manifestation of this is that living organisms appear to -- actually do -- behave in purposeful ways, and the inanimate universe does not. While this fundamental difference continues to be suppressed, the purposiveness (or teleology) which pervades biology remains anathema to almost all scientists (including most biologists) even to the present day. We argue here that it can, however, become a perfectly tenable position when the Theory of Natural Selection is accepted as the main foundation, the essential tenet, of biology that distinguishes it from the realm of physical sciences. In accepting this position, it remains quite legitimate to expect that in many but not all circumstances, extant physical laws (and presumably others still to be discovered) are in no way breached by biological systems, which cannot be otherwise since all organisms are composed of physical material. (shrink)
: T. L. Short's Peirce's Theory of Signs offers a strong interpretation of semeiotic, advocating a developmental and naturalistic position. This commentary examines some of the main features of Short's approach, raising a number of critical questions concerning the growth of Peirce's thought and the problem of anthropomorphism. First, two possible weaknesses in Short's account of the development of semeiotic, connected to the treatment of the "New List of Categories" and the role of the index, are noted. Next, the menace (...) of anthropomorphism is placed in the context of Peirce's startling affirmation of this point of view. Finally, the article draws attention to Short's bold claim that Peirce's theory of signs needs to be modified in order to accommodate a plurality of final interpretants in view of varying purposes. (shrink)
This essay develops a theory of natural signs in order to show how evolutionary theory breathes new life into teleology. An argument to the contrary presented by Richard Taylor is refuted. The essay defends the view that the concept of negative feedback explicates purposiveness and that symbiotic evolution explains the occurrence of naturally adapted feedback systems. But evolution itself is not a teleological process, nor is it a negative feedback system. There is an exploration of the nature of the dissatisfaction (...) we feel with an evolutionary account of purposiveness from which the fortuitous cannot be eliminated. (shrink)
Nietzsche subjects traditional philosophical causality to a skeptical critique. With the moderns, he rejects form as superficial. Against the moderns, he findsphysical laws and their ground in a free consciousness equally superficial, and he thinks that the principle of utility is ultimately life denying. However, Nietzscheis not a skeptic, and he has his own doctrine of causality centered on the noble power of the philosopher. The philosopher has the ability to impose new purposes, and this power is the culmination of (...) nature and history. The philosopher believes himself to be a kind of exemplar cause, the consummation of the whole. His is not an instrumental good but one sought for its own sake. (shrink)
T. L. Short's Peirce's Theory of Signs offers a strong interpretation of semeiotic, advocating a developmental and naturalistic position. This commentary examines some of the main features of Short's approach, raising a number of critical questions concerning the growth of Peirce's thought and the problem of anthropomorphism. First, two possible weaknesses in Short's account of the development of semeiotic, connected to the treatment of the "New List of Categories" and the role of the index, are noted. Next, the menace of (...) anthropomorphism is placed in the context of Peirce's startling affirmation of this point of view. Finally, the article draws attention to Short's bold claim that Peirce's theory of signs needs to be modified in order to accommodate a plurality of final interpretants in view of varying purposes. (shrink)
This paper examines Hume’s four essays on happiness: the “Epicurean,” the “Stoic,” the “Platonist,” and the “Sceptic.” I argue, first, that careful attention to how these essays are written shows that they do not simply argue for one position over others. They also elicit affective and imaginative responses in order to modify the reader’s outlook and to improve the reader’s understanding in service to moral ends. The analysis offers an improved reading of the essays and highlights the intimate connections between (...) the purposes of philosophical writing and its manner of presentation. Secondly, I contend that appreciating how Hume’s essays on happiness work on the reader demonstrates the insufficiency of Hume’s categories of “anatomist” and “painter.”. (shrink)
James Van Cleve has argued that Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the categories shows, at most, that we must apply the categories to experience. And this falls short of Kant’s aim, which is to show that they must so apply. In this discussion I argue that once we have noted the differences between the first and second editions of the Deduction, this objection is less telling. But Van Cleve’s objection can help illuminate the structure of the B Deduction, and it suggests (...) an interesting reason why the rewriting might have been thought necessary. (shrink)
The claim that knowledge is a kind of success from ability has great theoretical power: it explains the nature of epistemic normativity, why knowledge is incompatible with luck, and why knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. This paper addresses objections to the view by wedding it with two additional ideas: that intellectual abilities display a certain structure, and that the concept of knowledge functions to flag good information, and good sources of information, for use in practical reasoning.
This article seeks to clarify Joseph Raz’s contention that the task of the legal theorist is to explain the nature of law, rather than the concept of law. For Raz, to explain the nature of law is to explain the necessary properties that constitute it, those which if absent law would cease to be what it is. The first issue arises regarding his ambiguous usage of the expression “necessary property”. Concurrently Raz affirms that the legal theorist has the following tasks: (...) (a) explain the essential properties of that which the concept of law refers to, which exists independently from any concept of law; (b) explain the essential properties of law given our concept of law. After trying to dissolve the ambiguity of Raz’s argument, I conclude that based on his methodological commitments the only possible task for a legal philosopher would be conceptual analysis, understood as the task of explaining our concept of law. (shrink)
I would like to begin by talking about General Education in America. General Education plays a very particular and interesting role in American Higher Education. A typical undergraduate at one of our colleges or universities is expected to satisfy a range of requirements in his or her major area of study (mathematics, economics, philosophy, etc.); and they will also take a range of electives – courses that are not required for graduation but in which the student might want to explore (...) a developing interest. In addition to both of these, however, most undergraduate institutions (though not all) require that students satisfy a range of general education requirements as well. These are the requirements that must be satisfied for the student to count – in the opinion of the institution – as generally educated. They are the requirements, in other words, that every student must fulfill regardless of their areas of interest or specialty in order to be prepared to enter the broader world and to aspire to live a good life in it. (shrink)
Frank Snare had a puzzle. He construed Hume as a non-cognitivist, indeed, as the non-cognitivist, the fount and origin of contemporary non-cognitivism. Taking Hume to be a non-cognitivist, Snare devoted a great deal of time and effort to the Motivation Argument, or as he called it, the Influence Argument, which he took to be the chief weapon in Hume.
This paper explores analyzing criminal responsibility from the Humean position that blame is for character traits. If untoward acts indicate undesirable character traits, then the agent is blameworthy; if they do not, then the actor is not blameworthy — he has an excuse. A distinctive feature of this approach is that that voluntariness of acts is irrelevant to determining blameworthiness.This analysis is then applied to a variety of issues in criminal law. Mens supports inferences to character traits, and the Humean (...) approach provides a reason for rejeting strict criminal liability. The Humean approach also helps resolve a number of issues about attempts, such as punishment for impossible attempts and the defense of abandonment. It also supports the broad outlines of the defense of mistake and provides a third alternative in the Wooton-Hart debate over punishment and treatment. (shrink)
B. F. Skinner's claim that "operant behavior is essentially the field of purpose" is systematically explored. It is argued that Charles Taylor's illuminating analysis of the explanatory significance of common-sense goal-ascriptions (1) lends some (fairly restricted) support to Skinner's claim, (2) considerably clarifies the conceptual significance of differences between operant and respondent behavior and conditioning, and (3) undercuts influential assertions (e.g., Taylor's) that research programs for behavioristic psychology share a "mechanistic" orientation. A strategy is suggested for assessing the plausibility (...) of Skinner's broader claims about the adequacy of the operant behaviorist program for the analysis of purposive behavior. (shrink)
This paper introduces and evaluates two contemporary approaches of neo-logicism. Our aim is to highlight the diﬀerences between these two neo-logicist programmes and clarify what each projects attempts to achieve. To this end, we ﬁrst introduce the programme of the Scottish school – as defended by Bob Hale and Crispin Wright1 which we believe to be a..
The enactive approach to cognitive science involves frequent references to “action” without making clear what is intended by the term. In particular, though autopoiesis is seen as a foundation for teleology in the enactive literature, no definition or account is offered of goals which can encompass not just descriptions of biological maintenance, but the range of social and cultural activities in which human beings continually engage. The present paper draws primarily on the work of Juarrero (Dynamics in action. Cambridge, MA: (...) MIT Press, 1999) and Donald (Origins of the modern mind. London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1991) in an attempt to offer the broad outlines of an account of goals and goal-directedness which is consistent with the enactive approach and which explicates several forms of goal-directedness exhibited by human beings. Four stages of cognitive evolution described by Donald are examined for characteristic mechanisms of adaptivity and goal-directedness. Implications for an enactive theory of meaning are discussed. (shrink)
This is the first full book-length study in forty years of David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding-which, contrary to its author's expressed wishes, long lived in the shadow of its predecessor A Treatise of Human Nature. Stephen Buckle presents the Enquiry in a fresh light, aiming to raise it to its rightful position in the history of philosophy. He argues that the Enquiry is not, as so often assumed, a mere collection of watered-down extracts from the earlier work. It is, (...) rather, a coherent work with a unified argument; and, when this argument is grasped as a whole, the Enquiry shows itself to be the best introduction to the features of its author's general philosophy. (shrink)
I begin this commentary with an expanded typology of theories that endorse an internal morality of medicine. I then subject these theories to a philosophical critique. I argue that the more robust claims for an internal morality fail to establish a stand-alone method for bioethics because they ignore crucial non-medical values, violate norms of justice and fail to establish the normativity of medical values. I then argue that weaker versions of internalism avoid such problems, but at the cost of failing (...) to provide a clear sense in which their moral norms are internal or can ground a comprehensive approach to moral problems. Finally, I explore various functions that an internal morality might serve, concluding with the observation that, while there may be a core of good sense to the notion of an internal morality of medicine, our expectations for it must be drastically lowered. (shrink)
Thomas Henry Huxley recalled that after he had read Darwin’s Origin of Species, he had exclaimed to himself: “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!” (Huxley,1900, 1: 183). It is a famous but puzzling remark. In his contribution to Francis Darwin’s Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Huxley rehearsed the history of his engagement with the idea of transmutation of species. He mentioned the views of Robert Grant, an advocate of Lamarck, and Robert Chambers, who anonymously published Vestiges (...) of the Natural History of Creation (1844), which advanced a crude idea of transmutation. He also recounted his rejection of Agassiz’s belief that species were progressively replaced by the divine hand. He neglected altogether his friend Herbert Spencer’s early Lamarckian ideas about species development, which were also part of the long history of his encounters with the theory of descent. None of these sources moved him to adopt any version of the transmutation hypothesis. (shrink)
The most important Jewish source for Hermann Cohen's rational theology of Judaism is Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed . Indeed, the Guide is of such importance that Cohen bases his entire idealistic interpretation of the Jewish religion on it. In particular, Cohen derives his discussion of the continued authority of Mosaic law from the Guide . What follows focuses on Cohen's discussion of the “Law” in his Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism , and attempts to fill (...) a gap in recent Cohen research by dealing with questions of halakhah and the interpretation of rabbinical sources. Cohen's original reading of, inter alia, Guide III.31-32 led him to formulate a theory wherein Mosaic law—and by extension Judaism—guarantees the highest end of human morality. In identifying God with this end, Cohen eventually finds the ultimate criterion for the decision of how much of traditional Jewish law must still be observed in the need for the preservation of the purest monotheism—another central point in Maimonides' philosophy. (shrink)