I argue that we should reject all traditional forms of act-consequentialism if moral rationalism is true. (Moral rationalism, as I define it, holds that if S is morally required to perform x, then S has decisive reason, all things considered, to perform x.) I argue that moral rationalism in conjunction with a certain conception of practical reasons (viz., the teleological conception of reasons) compels us to accept act-consequentialism. I give a presumptive argument in favor of moral (...) class='Hi'>rationalism. And I argue that act-consequentialism is best construed as a theory that ranks outcomes, not according to their impersonal value, but according to how much reason each agent has to desire that they obtain. (shrink)
According to rationalism regarding the psychology of moral judgment, people’s moral judgments are generally the result of a process of reasoning that relies on moral principles or rules. By contrast, intuitionist models of moral judgment hold that people generally come to have moral judgments about particular cases on the basis of gut-level, emotion-driven intuition, and do so without reliance on reasoning and hence without reliance on moral principles. In recent years the intuitionist model has been forcefully defended by Jonathan (...) Haidt. One important implication of Haidt’s model is that in giving reasons for their moral judgments people tend to confabulate – the reasons they give in attempting to explain their moral judgments are not really operative in producing those judgments. Moral reason-giving on Haidt’s view is generally a matter of post hoc confabulation. Against Haidt, we argue for a version of rationalism that we call ‘morphological rationalism.’ We label our version ‘morphological’ because according to it, the information contained in moral principles is embodied in the standing structure of a typical individual’s cognitive system, and this morphologically embodied information plays a causal role in the generation of particular moral judgments. The manner in which the principles play this role is via ‘proceduralization’ – such principles operate automatically. In contrast to Haidt’s intuitionism, then, our view does not imply that people’s moral reason-giving practices are matters of confabulation. In defense of our view, we appeal to what we call the ‘nonjarring’ character of the phenomenology of making moral judgments and of giving reasons for those judgments. (shrink)
In Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics, David Chalmers seeks to develop a version of 2-D semantics which can vindicate the rationalist claim that there are constitutive connections between meaning, possibility and a priority. Chalmers lays out different ways of filling in his preferred epistemic approach to 2-D semantics so as to avoid controversial philosophical assumptions. In these comments, however, I argue that there are some distinctively rationalist commitments in Chalmers's epistemic approach to 2-D semantics. I start by explaining why Chalmers's approach requires (...) a canonical language that affords subjects accurate a priori access to the space of possibility. I then argue that traditional worries about rationalism will simply re-emerge as worries about whether there can be a canonical vocabulary and how we could come to recognize one if there were. The moral is that Chalmers's 2-D semantic framework builds in substantive metaphysical and epistemological commitments which stand in need of further defense. (shrink)
This article explores Galen's analysis of and response to the Rationalist and Empiricist medical sects. It argues that his interest in their debate concerning the epistemology of medicine and anatomy was key to his advancement of an experimental methodology.
This paper concerns the normative status of coherence of desires, in the context of moral rationalism. I argue that 'desiderative coherence' is not tied to rationality, but is rather of pragmatic, instrumental, and sometimes moral value. This means that desire-based views cannot rely on coherence to support non-agent-relative accounts of moral reasons. For example, on Michael Smith's neo-rationalist view, you have 'normative reason' to do whatever your maximally coherent and fully informed self would want you to do, whether you (...) want to do it or not. For these reasons to be non-agent-relative, coherence would have to be grounded in rationality, but I argue that it is not. I analyze, and reject, various strategies for establishing a coherence-rationality connection, considering in detail a purported analogy between desires and a priori beliefs, with particular attention to the case of mathematics. (shrink)
This paper deals with the rationalist assumptions behind researches of artificial intelligence (AI) on the basis of Hubert Dreyfus’s critique. Dreyfus is a leading American philosopher known for his rigorous critique on the underlying assumptions of the field of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence specialists, especially those whose view is commonly dubbed as “classical AI,” assume that creating a thinking machine like the human brain is not a too far away project because they believe that human intelligence works on the basis (...) of formalized rules of logic. In contradistinction to classical AI specialists, Dreyfus contends that it is impossible to create intelligent computer programs analogous to the human brain because the workings of human intelligence is entirely different from that of computing machines. For Dreyfus, the human mind functions intuitively and not formally. Following Dreyfus, this paper aims to pinpointing the major flaws classical AI suffers from. The author of this paper believes that pinpointing these flaws would inform inquiries on and about artificial intelligence. Over and beyond this, this paper contributes something indisputably original. It strongly argues that classical AI research programs have, though inadvertently, falsified an entire epistemological enterprise of the rationalists not in theory as philosophers do but in practice. When AI workers were trying hard in order to produce a machine that can think like human minds, they have in a way been testing—and testing it up to the last point—the rationalist assumption that the workings of the human mind depend on logical rules. Result: No computers actually function like the human mind. Reason: the human mind does not depend on the formal or logical rules ascribed to computers. Thus, symbolic AI research has falsified the rationalist assumption that ‘the human mind reaches certainty by functioning formally’ by virtue of its failure to create a thinking machine. (shrink)
Popper’s Critical Rationalism presents Popper’s views on science, knowledge, and inquiry, and examines the significance and tenability of these in light of recent developments in philosophy of science, philosophy of probability, and epistemology. It develops a fresh and novel philosophical position on science, which employs key insights from Popper while rejecting other elements of his philosophy. -/- Central theses include: -/- Crucial questions about scientific method arise at the level of the group, rather than that of the individual. -/- (...) Although criticism is vital for science, dogmatism is important too. -/- Belief in scientific theories is permissible even in the absence of evidence in their favour. -/- The aim of science is to eliminate false theories. -/- Critical rationalism can be understood as a form of virtue epistemology -/- Contents: -/- Ch.1 Comprehensive rationalism, critical rationalism, and pancritical rationalism -- Ch.2 Induction and corroboration -- Ch.3 Corroboration and the interpretation of probability -- Ch.4 Corroboration, tests, and predictivism -- Ch.5 Corroboration and Duhem's thesis -- Ch.6 The roles of criticism and dogmatism in science: a group level view -- Ch.7 The aim of science and its evolution -- Ch.8 Thoughts and findings. (shrink)
Mainstream philosophy of science has embraced an “empiricist” approach to scientific method. To be slightly more precise, I venture that most philosophers of science today would endorse the view that experience is the source of most scientific knowledge. The aim of this essay will be to challenge the consensus, by showing how we cannot and should not abandon all elements of the “rationalist” tradition, a tradition often identified with philosophers such as Descartes. There are several elements frequently identified with “rationalist” (...) science (Stump, 2005): questioning of sense experience, the attempt to rethink the “metaphysical” foundations of one’s science, using either thought experiment, or appealing to demonstrative arguments purporting to establish ‘necessary’ truths, often using either mathematics or geometry, and appeal to “virtues” not usually considered “strictly empirical,” such as simplicity. This essay explores the effective deployment of such considerations in the history and current practice of science. (shrink)
This book is a wide-ranging examination of rationalist thought in philosophy from ancient times to the present day. Written by a superbly qualified cast of philosophers. Critically analyses the concept of rationalism. Focuses principally on the golden age of rationalism in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Also covers ancient rationalism, nineteenth-century rationalism, and rationalist themes in recent thought. Organised chronologically. Various philosophical methods and viewpoints are represented.
Rationalism, my target, says that in order to have perceptual knowledge, such as that your hand is making a fist, you must “antecedently” (or “independently”) know that skeptical scenarios don’t obtain, such as the skeptical scenario that you are in the Matrix. I motivate the specific form of Rationalism shared by, among others, White (Philos Stud 131:525–557, 2006) and Wright (Proc Aristot Soc Suppl Vol 78:167–212, 2004), which credits us with warrant to believe (or “accept”, in Wright’s terms) (...) that our senses are reliably veridical, where that warrant is one we enjoy by default, that is, without relying on any evidence or engaging in any positive argument. The problem with this form of Rationalism is that, even if you have default knowledge that your senses are reliable, this is not adequate to rule out every kind of skeptical scenario. The problem is created by one-off skeptical scenarios, scenarios that involve a highly reliable perceiver who, by a pure fluke, has a one-off, non-veridical experience. I claim you cannot infer that your present perceptual experience is veridical just on the basis of knowledge of your general reliability. More generally, if you infer that the present F is G, just on the basis of your knowledge that most Fs are Gs, this is what I call statistical inference, and, as I argue, statistical inference by itself does not generate knowledge. I defend this view of statistical inference against objections, including the objection that radical skepticism about our ordinary inductive knowledge will follow unless statistical inference generates knowledge. (shrink)
Popper's critical rationalism is widely accepted under scientists and philosophers of science as a proper method for the reconstruction of scientific theories. On occasion of the application of the Popperian ideas for the reconstruction of chemistry by Akeroyd the flaws of the critical rationalist approach are criticised and a methodical alternative is proposed, involving the operational definition of scientific terms.
Though classical and twentieth-century versions of empiricism and rationalism fail in their aims, as does the Kantian attempt at a compromise between those views, there are residues of those views that play important roles in the scientific enterprise. Those residue, and their scientific roles, are examined in this paper.
Shestov's work can be summed up under six headings. Three are sharp contrasts, three are paradoxes. (1) First there is the contrast between Shestov the person, who was moderate, competent, and calm, and Shestov the thinker, who was extreme, incandescent, and impassioned. (2) Then there is the contrast between his critique of reason, his acceptance of irrationalism, and the means by which he attacks the former and defends the latter: namely, careful rational argument. Sometimes he argues like a lawyer (after (...) all, he had a law degree from Moscow University). (3) Shestov speaks repeatedly of the "horrors and atrocities of human existence." But his examples are always drawn from history or literature, never from his own life, although we know that he experienced much horror. (4) Nietzsche is the thinker whom he invokes most frequently, and most warmly. Yet, paradoxically, Shestov completely ignores most of Nietzsche's central themes. (5) Shestov's skeptical doubts are mostly directed at rationalism; he is not skeptical about the existence or benevolence of God. Yet he is explicitly skeptical about divine omniscience and implicitly skeptical about divine omnipotence in a metaphysical sense, though not in its ethical application. (6) Shestov has a deep faith that God can undo all the horrors of life, putting an end to all suffering. At the same time he knows that this will not, and cannot, happen, since the very idea of undoing the past, erasing its horrors, is conceptually incoherent. (shrink)
Chinese people attach importance to intuition and imagery in ways of thinking that are quite sensible, but the result, i.e. the thoughts that are popularized in virtue of political power, are rather rational. These rational thoughts, which were influenced by Buddhism and continually became introspective, had been growing more irrational factors. Up to the middle and late Ming Dynasty, when the economy was developed, they merged with the growing emphasis on daily needs of food and clothes and the envisagement to (...) the utilitarian circumstances, and finally broke through the threshold of rationalism. Under the attack of Geng Dingxiang, Li Zhi who emphasized these thoughts was forced beyond his previous boundaries and led a whole variation in how he viewed a series of issues including values, humanity, ethics and aesthetics. This indicated a historical change from rationalism to irrationalism in Chinese humanism and aesthetics thoughts. (shrink)
Oedipus the tyrant and the limits of political rationalism -- Blind faith and enlightened statesmanship in Oedipus at colonus -- The pious heroism of Antigone -- Conclusion: Nietzsche, Plato, and Aristotle on philosophy and tragedy.
Rationalism, Platonism and God comprises three main papers on Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, with extensive responses. It provides a significant contribution to the exploration of the common ground of the great early-modern Rationalist theories, and an examination of the ways in which the mainstream Platonic tradition permeates these theories. -/- John Cottingham identifies characteristically Platonic themes in Descartes's cosmology and metaphysics, finding them associated with two distinct, even opposed attitudes to nature and the human condition, one ancient and 'contemplative', (...) the other modern and 'controlling'. He finds the same tension in Descartes's moral theory, and believes that it remains unresolved in present-day ethics. -/- Was Spinoza a Neoplatonist theist, critical Cartesian, or naturalistic materialist? Michael Ayers argues that he was all of these. Analysis of his system reveals how Spinoza employed Neoplatonist monism against Descartes's Platonist pluralism. Yet the terminology - like the physics - is Cartesian. And within this Platonic-Cartesian shell Spinoza developed a rigorously naturalistic metaphysics and even, Ayers claims, an effectually empiricist epistemology. -/- Robert Merrihew Adams focuses on the Rationalists' arguments for the Platonist, anti-Empiricist principle of 'the priority of the perfect', i.e. the principle that finite attributes are to be understood through corresponding perfections of God, rather than the reverse. He finds the given arguments unsatisfactory but stimulating, and offers a development of one of Leibniz's for consideration. -/- These papers receive informed and constructive criticism and development at the hands of, respectively, Douglas Hedley, Sarah Hutton and Maria Rosa Antognazza. (shrink)
This paper constitutes one extended argument, which touches on various topics of Critical Rationalism as it was initiated by Karl Popper and further developed (although into different directions) in his aftermath. The result of the argument will be that critical rationalism either offers no solution to the problem of induction at all , or that it amounts, in the last resort, to a kind of Critical Rationalist Inductivism as it were, a version of what I call Good Old (...) Induction. One may think of David Miller as a contemporary representative of what I consider as the ‘no solution’ version of critical rationalism, while Alan Musgrave stands for the version of ‘critical rationalist induction’. Popper’s own writings admit of either interpretation. (shrink)
We all know that ships are safest in the harbor; but alas, that is not what ships are built for. They are destined to leave the harbor and to confront the challenges that are waiting beyond the harbor mole. A similar challenge confronts the practice of research. Research at work cannot play it safe and stay in whatever theoretical and methodological harbors in which it may have found shelter in the past. Still less can it examine and maintain its foundations (...) in the dry dock. Research is more like a ship that must be repaired on the open sea. Yet foundationalist ideas persist in the practice of research. Counter to what is often assumed, today’s dominating model for research--the fallibilist model of critical rationalism--has not really overcome the empirical foundationalism of earlier, positivist research practices. This paper analyses two major foundationalist traps that are currently in the upswing and work against reflective research practice. (shrink)
Several scholars have criticized the histories of early modern philosophy based on the dichotomy of empiricism and rationalism. They view them as overestimating the importance of epistemological issues for early modern philosophers (epistemological bias), portraying Kant's Critical philosophy as a superior alternative to empiricism and rationalism (Kantian bias), and forcing most or all early modern thinkers prior to Kant into the empiricist or rationalist camps (classificatory bias). Kant is often said to be the source of the three biases. (...) Against this criticism, this paper argues that Kant did not have the three biases. However, he promoted a way of writing histories of philosophy from which those biases would naturally flow. (shrink)
An increasing number of biologists are expressing discontent with the prevailing theory of neo-Darwinism. In particular, the tendency of neo-Darwinians to adopt genetic determinism and atomistic notions of both genes and organisms is seen as grossly unfair to the body of developmental theory. One faction of dissenteers, the Process Structuralists, take their inspiration from the rational morphologists who preceded Darwin. These neo-rationalists argue that a mature biology must possess universal laws and that these generative laws should be sought within organismal (...) development. Such a rational biology will only be possible once the neo-Darwinian paradigm, with its reliance on inherently stochastic processes, is overthrown.To facilitate this revolution, process structuralism launches a broad attack on the theoritical adequacy of its opponent. It is charged that neo-Darwinism is untestable and therefore its hypotheses are nothing more than adaptive stories. Further, the lamentable tendencies toward genetic determinism and atomism by modern biologists is seen as the inescapable consequences of adopting the neo-Darwinian outlook. (shrink)
Modernity is not only the culmination of the “oblivion of being,” for it also provides, in the form of transcendental thinking, a way to recover the original relation of thought to being. Heidegger develops this account through several lecture courses from 1935–1937, especially the 1935–1936 lecture course on Kant, and the account receives a kind of completion in the 1936–1938 manuscript, Contributions to Philosophy. Kant limits the dominance of rationalistic prejudices by reconnecting thought to the givenness of being. He thereby (...) shows the way to overcome the West’s rationalistic oblivion of being. By returning to Kant and repeating him more fundamentally we prepare ourselves for Heidegger’s non-rationalistic thinking of being. This paper, then, reconsiders Heidegger’s relation to modern philosophy, demonstrating on the basis of his own texts that he appropriates modern philosophy but in a non-rationalistic way. Transcendental philosophy plays an essential though ambiguous transitional role in his thinking. (shrink)
Enquiries into the possible nature and scope of innate knowledge never proceed in an empirical vaccuum. Instead, such conjectures are informed by a theory (perhaps only tacitly endorsed) concerning probable representational form. Classical approaches to the nativism debate often assume a quasi-linguistic form of knowledge representation and deliniate a space of options (concerning the nature and extent of innate knowledge) accordingly. Recent connectionist theorizing posits a different kind of represenational form, and thus determines a different picture of the space of (...) possible nativisms. (shrink)
A major virtue of the Pragma-Dialectical theory of argumentation is its commitment to reasonableness and rationality as central criteria of argumentative quality. However, the account of these key notions offered by the originators of this theory, Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, seems to us problematic in several respects. In what follows we criticize that account and suggest an alternative, offered elsewhere, that seems to us to be both independently preferable and more in keeping with the epistemic approach to arguments (...) and argumentation we favor. (shrink)
It is commonly held that our intuitive judgements about imaginary problem cases are justified a priori, if and when they are justified at all. In this paper I defend this view — ‘rationalism’ — against a recent objection by Timothy Williamson. I argue that his objection fails on multiple grounds, but the reasons why it fails are instructive. Williamson argues from a claim about the semantics of intuitive judgements, to a claim about their psychological underpinnings, to the denial of (...)rationalism. I argue that the psychological claim — that a capacity for mental simulation explains our intuitive judgements — does not, even if true, provide reasons to reject rationalism. (More generally, a simulation hypothesis, about any category of judgements, is very limited in its epistemological implications: it is pitched at a level of explanation that is insensitive to central epistemic distinctions.) I also argue that Williamson’s semantic claim — that intuitive judgements are judgements of counterfactuals — is mistaken; rather, I propose, they are a certain kind of metaphysical possibility judgement. Several other competing proposals are also examined and criticized. (shrink)
The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism.
Over the last 20 years, a number of central figures in moral philosophy have defended some version of moral rationalism, the idea that morality is based on reason or rationality (e.g., Gewirth 1978, Darwall 1983, Nagel 1970, 1986, Korsgaard 1986, Singer 1995; Smith 1994, 1997). According to rationalism, morality is based on reason or rationality rather than the emotions or cultural idiosyncrasies, and this has seemed to many to be the best way of securing a kind of objectivism (...) about moral claims. Consider the following representative statements. (shrink)
One of the most significant disputes in early modern philosophy was between the moral rationalists and the moral sentimentalists. The moral rationalists — such as Ralph Cudworth, Samuel Clarke and John Balguy — held that morality originated in reason alone. The moral sentimentalists — such as Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson and David Hume — held that morality originated at least partly in sentiment. In addition to arguments, the rationalists and sentimentalists developed rich analogies. The (...) most significant analogy the rationalists developed was between morality and mathematics. The most significant analogy the sentimentalists developed was between morality and beauty. These two analogies illustrate well the main ideas, underlying insights, and accounts of moral phenomenology the two positions have to offer. An examination of the two analogies will thus serve as a useful introduction to the debate between moral rationalism and moral sentimentalism as a whole. (shrink)
We have looked at worries about expressivism and other forms of noncognitivism. The externalist solution may also seem to be a solution of last resort, because it may seem to deny the platitude that moral judgments are motivationally efficacious. For this reason, we might look seriously at rationalist theories of moral motivation, because they promise to represent moral judgments as intrinsically motivational without giving up cognitivism.