In his Phenomenology of Perception Merleau-Ponty maintains that our own existence cannot be understood by the methods of natural science; furthermore, because fundamental aspects of the world such as space and time are dependent on our existence, these too cannot be accounted for within natural science. So there cannot be a fully scientific account of the world at all. The key thesis Merleau-Ponty advances in support of this position is that perception is not, as he puts it, . He argues (...) that it has a fundamental intentionality which configures the perceived world as spatio-temporal in ways which are presupposed by natural science and which cannot therefore be explained by natural science. (shrink)
Russell famously propounded scepticism about memory in The Analysis of Mind (1921). As he there acknowledged, one way to counter this sceptical position is to hold that memory involves direct acquaintance with past, and this is in fact a thesis Russell had advanced in The Problems of Philosophy (1911). Indeed he had there used the case of memory to develop a sophisticated fallibilist, non-sceptical, epistemology. By 1921, however, Russell had rejected the early conception of memory as incompatible with the neutral (...) monism he now affirmed. In its place he argued that memory involves a distinctive type of belief whose content is given by imagery. Russell's language here is off-putting but without much distortion his later position can be interpreted as an early formulation of a functionalist theory of mind based on a causal theory of mental representation. Thus interpreted it provides the basis for a different response to Russell's sceptical thesis. (shrink)
Recognition plays a central role in international affairs and in moral and political theory. Hegel noted the connections between these two contexts, and this article explores Hegel's approach with reference to the work of two political philosophers (Honneth and Rawls) and debates in international law. The conclusion is that while recognition has a constitutive role in international affairs, it has a different role in moral and political theory: morality is the evaluative recognition of the significance of individual autonomy.
Current debates about sex selection start from a paradox: on the one hand, the 'liberal' argument in favour of sex selection is often thought to be sound; but on the other hand there is widespread public opposition to sex selection. So it is worth spending some time examining the arguments against sex selection. Four different types of argument are identified: (i) religious arguments; (ii) consequentialist arguments, mainly concerning disturbance to the sex ratio; (iii) arguments to the effect that sex selection (...) involves a failure to respect the autonomy of a child; (iv) arguments to the effect that the motivation for sex selection brings with it an instrumental attitude to children not compatible with a child's need for unconditional acceptance and love. In the end the conclusion is reached that none of these arguments provide decisive arguments against the liberal thesis that sex selection ought to be permitted, especially where 'family balancing' is envisaged. In the light of this conclusion the issue of fetal sexing followed by selective feticide as a method of sex selection C is discussed. It is argued that sex selection is not in general a good reason for abortion, but that this practice may become unstoppable. Copyright (C) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (shrink)
Eleven papers by distinguished British and American philosophers are brought together in this volume. -/- Five of the contributors engage in effect in a running debate about knowledge. How does knowledge relate to evidence? How reliable need one be to have knowledge? Once sceptical doubt has been introduced is there any untainted evidence to show that it is misplaced? Does verificationism succeed in showing that scepticism is untenable? Or is there a natural propensity for belief which explains why we are (...) not in fact sceptics? -/- The other six tackle questions about logic and its relation to language. Can one give a 'realist' account of logical truth without supposing that logic has a subject-matter? How do theories of descriptions fare when tested by their handling of functions? How can indirect speech report someone's use of words like 'this'? Does our language count for or against adopting second-order logic? -/- These papers, given in the British Academy Philosophical Lectures series, are all examples of recent philosophy at its best. (shrink)
Questions about knowledge, and about the relation between logic and language, are at the heart of philosophy. Eleven distinguished philosophers from Britain and America contribute papers on such questions. All the contributions are examples of recent philosophy at its best. The first half of the book constitutes a running debate about knowledge, evidence and doubt. The second half tackles questions about logic and its relation to language.
The Cambridge History of Philosophy 1870-1945 comprises over sixty specially commissioned essays by experts on the philosophy of this period, and is designed to be accessible to non-specialists. The first part of the book traces the history of philosophy from its remarkable flowering in the 1870s through to the early years of the twentieth century. After a brief discussion of the impact of the First World War, the second part of the book describes further developments in philosophy in the first (...) half of the twentieth century. The essays concentrate on developments across the range of philosophical topics, from logic and metaphysics to political philosophy and philosophy of religion. This volume will be of critical importance not only to teachers and students of philosophy but also to scholars in neighbouring disciplines such as the history of science, the history of ideas, theology and the social sciences. (shrink)
Engaging, accessible, and up-to-date, this work introduces the central debates of English language philosophy since 1945. It begins with a brief description of philosophical debate during the first half of the twentieth century, offering fascinating discussions of writings by Wittgenstein, Ryle, Austin, Quine, and Sellars. It then describes several ensuing philosophical debates that have shaped philosophical discussions since the 1960s, addressing the Davidson/Dummett debate on language; the Kripke/Lewis debate on possible worlds; the Popper/Kuhn debate on the justification in epistemology; the (...) debates on materialism, functionalism, and dual-aspect theories of mind; and recent work in moral psychology, metaethics, and normative ethics. It also includes a critical discussion of Rorty's metaphilosophical skepticism and pays extensive attention to writings of Strawson, Putnam, Evans, McDowell, Williams, Nagel, and many other contemporary philosophers. (shrink)
[Robert Stalnaker] Saul Kripke made a convincing case that there are necessary truths that are knowable only a posteriori as well as contingent truths that are knowable a priori. A number of philosophers have used a two-dimensional model semantic apparatus to represent and clarify the phenomena that Kripke pointed to. According to this analysis, statements have truth-conditions in two different ways depending on whether one considers a possible world 'as actual' or 'as counterfactual' in determining the truth-value of the statement (...) relative to that possible world. There are no necessary a posteriori or contingent a priori propositions: rather, contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori statements are statements that are necessary when evaluated one way, and contingent when evaluated the other way. This paper distinguishes two ways that the two-dimensional framework can be interpreted, and argues that one of them gives the better account of what it means to 'consider a world as actual', but that it provides no support for any notion of purely conceptual a priori truth. /// [Thomas Baldwin] Two-dimensional possible world semantic theory suggests that Kripke's examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori should be handled by interpreting names as implicitly indexical. Like Stalnaker, I reject this account of names and accept that Kripke's examples have to be accommodated within a metasemantic theory. But whereas Stalnaker maintains that a metasemantic approach undermines the conception of a priori truth, I argue that it offers the opportunity to develop a conception of the a priori aspect of stipulations, conceived as linguistic performances. The resulting position accommodates Kripke's examples in a way which is both intrinsically plausible and fits with Kripke's actual discussion of them. (shrink)
McTaggart's famous argument that the A-series is contradictory is vitiated by an unsatisfactory conceptualization of tenses which can be corrected by making explicit their relational structure. This leads into a much sharper formulation of his apparent contradiction, and defusing this apparent contradiction requires a careful distinction between tensed and tenseless descriptions of thoughts. As a result the ‘unreality’ of tense turns out to rest on the fact that tensed descriptions of temporal facts do not capture their identity. This ‘metaphysical’ priority (...) of tenseless over tensed descriptions of time is, however, counterbalanced by an ‘epistemological’ priority of tensed thoughts over tenseless thoughts: a conception of tense which requires a form of self-consciousness turns out to be an essential ingredient of rational thought. (shrink)