I argue that there are non-trivial objective chances (that is, objective chances other than 0 and 1) even in deterministic worlds. The argument is straightforward. I observe that there are probabilistic special scientific laws even in deterministic worlds. These laws project non-trivial probabilities for the events that they concern. And these probabilities play the chance role and so should be regarded as chances as opposed, for example, to epistemic probabilities or credences. The supposition of non-trivial deterministic chances might seem to (...) land us in contradiction. The fundamental laws of deterministic worlds project trivial probabilities for the very same events that are assigned non-trivial probabilities by the special scientific laws. I argue that any appearance of tension is dissolved by recognition of the level-relativity of chances. There is therefore no obstacle to accepting non-trivial chance-role-playing deterministic probabilities as genuine chances. (shrink)
The starting point in the development of probabilistic analyses of token causation has usually been the naïve intuition that, in some relevant sense, a cause raises the probability of its effect. But there are well-known examples both of non-probability-raising causation and of probability-raising non-causation. Sophisticated extant probabilistic analyses treat many such cases correctly, but only at the cost of excluding the possibilities of direct non-probability-raising causation, failures of causal transitivity, action-at-a-distance, prevention, and causation by absence and omission. I show that (...) an examination of the structure of these problem cases suggests a different treatment, one which avoids the costs of extant probabilistic analyses. (shrink)
An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical causation. (...) She takes this to imply that causation is not fundamentally a matter of difference-making. In this paper, I defend the difference-making approach against Ney’s argument. I also offer some positive reasons for thinking, pace Ney, that causation is fundamentally a matter of difference-making. (shrink)
Poststructuralists have tried to deconstruct the subject, that is, demonstrate that it is constituted by the system of cultural and linguistic relations in which it is found. The result is that just at the moment when self-actualization seems for the first time to be politically possible for many hitherto marginalized subjects, they, and subjects more generally, appear to have been denatured – reduced to the cultural systems which are the condition of their possibility and consequently deprived of the freedom which (...) is clearly necessary for any form of self-actualization. This paper, while acknowledging that subjects are indeed culturally and linguistically constituted, argues on the basis of a holistic, emergent property hypothesis that structure or form can generate content that nevertheless transcends the structure or form that constitutes it. On this view the subject is irreducibly transcendent to the system of relations from within which it arises, and the deconstructed subject thus remains capable of free choice and self-actualization. (shrink)
I argue that meaning or significanceper se, along with the capacity to be conscious thereof, and the values, motives and aspirations, etc. central to the constitution of our intrinsic personal identities, arise, as indeed do our extrinsic social identities, and our very self-consciousness as such, from socio-cultural structures and relations to others. However, so far from our identities and behavior therefore being determined, I argue that the capacity for critical reflection and evaluation emerge from these same structural relations, the more (...) complex and quintessentially human aspects of our behavior being explained not in terms of responses to stimuli but as choices reflecting our evaluation of meaningful or significant alternatives. Finally I provide theoretical grounds for accepting the existence of other subjects and give a holistic, as opposed to a dialectical, account of the way individuals may challenge and change the very socio-cultural ways of relating to and interacting with others so central to constituting their capacities and identities. (shrink)
Though almost forty years have elapsed since its first publication, it is a testament to the philosophical acumen of its author that 'The Matter of Chance' contains much that is of continued interest to the philosopher of science. Mellor advances a sophisticated propensity theory of chance, arguing that this theory makes better sense than its rivals (in particular subjectivist, frequentist, logical and classical theories) of ‘what professional usage shows to be thought true of chance’ (p. xi) – in particular ‘that (...) chance is objective, empirical and not relational, and that it applies to the single case’ (ibid.). The book is short and dense, with the serious philosophical content delivered thick and fast. There is little by way of road-mapping or summarising to assist the reader: the introduction is hardly expansive and the concluding paragraph positively perfunctory. The result is that the book is often difficult going, and the reader is made to work hard to ensure correct understanding of the views expressed. On the other hand, the author’s avoidance of unnecessary use of formalism and jargon ensures that the book is still reasonably accessible. In the following, I shall first summarise the key features of Mellor’s propensity theory, and then offer a few critical remarks. (shrink)
Hermeneutic, phenomenological, genealogical and postmodern critiques of science may be conceived as a radicalization of those contemporary analyses of science which take their point of departure from the fundamental principle of complementarity and recognize that science can never be a mirror of nature; that there are no neutral observers; that all experiments are theory-laden; that there are no simple facts. These perspectives sensitize us to the historical, political, social, and cultural dimensions of science. They force us to revisit the epistemological (...) claims of science and insist that we ask whether and to what extent the idea of scientific privilege can be sustained. (shrink)
This paper argues that even the most extensively refined comparative cost/benefit analysis must be supplemented by other factors, irreducible to it, if we are to develop an adequate framework to guide policy decisions affecting technological design and innovation.
Defining "terrorism" as the intentional targeting of non-combatant civilians, the paper argues that, other things being equal, it is not possible to effectively distinguish morally between "terrorism" and use of military power against combatant targets which might reasonably be expected to produce some guesstimable quantity of "collateral" or non-combatant civilian casualties; that it is upon the expected likely consequences of actions rather than upon the intentions underlying them, that actors should be morally judged. Furthermore I argue that other attempts to (...) rationalize the use of conventional military force, as retaliatory for prior "terrorist" actions, or as preemptive, also often largely fail either on historical grounds ("terrorists" often see their actions as responses to previously unjustified killing or letting die of the non-combatant civilian population they see themselves as representing) or pragmatic grounds (as the unintentional killing of non-combatant civilians often increases the sense of righteous indignation which helps recruit further "terrorists"). (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
The great contribution Marcus has made to several of intensely discussed topics in philosophy might not have been noticed fully without this collection of some of her most important articles that makes it evident that her achievement is not limited to inventing the famous Barcan formula.
This article is a defence of the Fact-Value distinction against considerations brought up by Ruth Anna Putnam in three articles in Philosophy, especially her ‘Perceiving Facts and Values’ January 1998. I defend metaphysical realism about facts and anti-realism about values against Putnam' intermediate position about both and I relate the matter to the logic of imperatives. The motivations of scientists or historians to select fields of investigation are irrelevant to the objectivity of their hypotheses, and so is the goodness (...) or badness of the social consequences of their work though these may affect their motivations. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan is one of the most interesting and influential philosophers alive. Her work is also hard to penetrate. In this review, I try to present and assess her work on the nature of language, which is collected in this anthology. I also criticize her analysis of “natural convention” as well as her discussion of illocutionary acts.
In philosophy textbooks for undergraduates the cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict is often cited as a proponent of moral relativism, and her writings are not infrequently excerpted to illustrate the view that the individual’s moral values are culturally determined. Because Benedict established that significant differences can exist in the underlying cultural patterns of different societies, her work is commonly construed as providing evidence for the arbitrary and non-rational basis of morals. The author of the present essay argues that this popular (...) reading of Benedict is mistaken. He draws a distinction between two different forms of moral relativism—the objective and the subjective—and then contends that Benedict is widely viewed as a subjective relativist when in fact her relativism was of the objective variety. He shows that her position actually has much in common with the pragmatic meliorism of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. (shrink)
In every philosopher’s career, there comes a time to look back on accomplishments, assess achievements, evaluate one’s place in a canon that dates to an era when Ancient Greeks still roamed the Earth. Perhaps many of you have wondered when I’d finally get around to doing this. Sadly, this is not the night for that splendid occasion. Do not pretend to hide your disappointment. Also, do not hesitate to point fingers. Believe me when I tell you that I would take (...) great delight in reporting to you my accomplishments, achievements, and place in the canon. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who knows me well, or, at any rate, has spent a few minutes in conversation with me, or, maybe, has simply observed me in conversation with someone else. They’ll tell you that I am uniquely suited to fete myself, and take obvious pleasure spreading the good word to others. Alas, I have been enlisted to concentrate my philosophical powers on a topic less interesting than myself. My focus? A woman named Ruth Millikan. For philosophers, mention of the Book of Ruth directs thoughts not to the Old Testament, but to LTOBC. This is a shame, because Ruth’s Old Testament book is quite short, as books go, and tells a heartwarming story of redemption and devotion – virtues that receive hardly any mention in LTOBC. Now that I think about it, Ruth’s later books and articles mark a significant departure from the plot line in that first Book of Ruth’s. Gone are references to Bethlehem and Moab, and in their place lurk hoverflies and push me pull yous, but more on these matters in a moment. I want first to turn my finely tuned and oft picked philosophical nose to LTOBC – unquestionably Professor Millikan’s magnum opus . Here’s a little known fact. Originally, LTOBC had a different title, requiring a different acronym. If she hadn’t taken her editor’s advice, we’d be speaking of BLTOBC, which stood for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato on Blueberry Cobbler. There’s something down home and grannyish about this title, and Ruth deserves credit for trying to entice readers with the promise of good old fashioned, feather plucked, farm food, but, as her editor was quick to note, bacon, lettuce, and tomato have no more place on blueberry cobbler than they do on cherry cobbler, and so BLTOBC might as well be BLTOCC, and with no reason to prefer one title to the other, best just to forget about the bacon.. (shrink)
Ruth Ginzberg has proposed a model for a gynocentric science that might constitute a paradigm as described by Kuhn. The author argues that Ginzberg's model lacks certain essential features of paradigms as described by Kuhn. The differences may stem from more fundamental disagreements between them, including the possibility that some essential features of Ginzberg's gynocentric science place it outside the intended scope of Kuhn's analysis.
Fictional truth is commonly analyzed in terms of the speech acts or propositional attitudes of a teller. In this paper, I investigate Lewisâs counterfactual analysis in terms of felicitous narrator assertion, Currieâs analysis in terms of fictional author belief, and Byrneâs analysis in terms of ideal author invitations to make-believeâand find them all lacking. I propose instead an analysis in terms of the revelations of an infelicitous narrator.
Abstract: The paper provides a general account of value relations. It takes its departure in a special type of value relation, parity, which according to Ruth Chang is a form of evaluative comparability that differs from the three standard forms of comparability: betterness, worseness and equal goodness. Recently, Joshua Gert has suggested that the notion of parity can be accounted for if value comparisons are interpreted as normative assessments of preference. While Gert's basic idea is attractive, the way he (...) develops it is flawed: His modeling of values by intervals of permissible preference strengths is inadequate. Instead, I provide an alternative modeling in terms of intersections of rationally permissible preference orderings. This yields a general taxonomy of all binary value relations. The paper concludes with some implications of this approach for rational choice. (shrink)
The paper begins with an objection to the Desire-Based Reasons Model. The argument from reason-based desires holds that since desires are based on reasons (first premise), which they transmit but to which they cannot add (second premise), they cannot themselves provide reasons for action. In the paper I investigate an attack that has recently been launched against the first premise of this argument by Ruth Chang. Chang invokes a counterexample: affective desires. The aim of the paper is to see (...) if there is a way to accommodate the counterexample to the first premise. I investigate three strategies. I first deal with the idea that the motivation for the premise may be the thesis that an action is intentional if and only if it is done under the guise of perceived reasons. This offers us a way of defending the premise: by showing that actions prompted by affective desires are not intentional. I, however, argue that this strategy is unworkable. This brings me to the second strategy. Here I consider the idea that the premise does not require a conscious normative thought on the part of the agent; in fact, it may not require any such thought, conscious or unconscious. I claim that this strategy too is a failure. Finally, the third approach builds normative judgment in the desire. This is the approach that I think works; in particular, recent work by Jennifer Hawkins may help us accommodate affective desires. The challenge of affective desires, I conclude, can be tackled. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan’s teleological theory of mental content is complex and often misunderstood. This paper motivates and clarifies some of the complexities of the theory, and shows that paying careful attention to its details yields answers to a number of common objections to teleological theories, in particular, the problem of novel mental states, the problem of functionally false beliefs, and problems about indeterminacy or multiplicity of function.
Millikan contrasts her substance-based view of concepts with “descriptionism” according to which description determines what falls under a concept. Focusing on her discussion of the role of language in the acquisition of concepts, I argue that descriptions cannot be separated from perception in the ways Millikan's view requires.
: This essay is a collection of my experiences of and reflections on being pregnant and choosing to place the child for open adoption. The piece was started late in the term of my pregnancy and completed about a week before the birth.