_In_ The Sources of Normativity_, Christine M. Korsgaard argues that unconditional obligation can be accounted for in terms of practical identity. My argument in this paper is that practical identity cannot play this foundational role. More specifically, I interpret Korsgaard's argument as beginning with something analogous to Kant's fact of reason, viz. with the fact that our minds are reflective. I then try to show that her determination of this fact is inadequate and that this causes the argument concerning practical (...) identity to fail. Finally, I argue that a conception of the fact of reason more in line with what I take to be Kant's own is necessary to account for unconditional obligation._. (shrink)
One of the dominant themes structuring the trajectory of Jean-François Lyotard's philosophical work is his concern to think the event in a way that renders it intelligible, but that also respects the alterity and the uncanniness that are essential to it. In this paper I defend Lyotard's earlier understanding of the event, articulated most thoroughly in Discours, figure, from the criticisms of the later Lyotard, articulated most thoroughly in The Differend. More specifically, I attempt to demonstrate that the event, as (...) disruption of the stable system of signification, is given immediately with the signification that it disrupts. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides a compelling account of alterity in The Prose of the World. I begin by tracing this account of alterity back to its roots in Phenomenology of Perception. I then show how the dynamic of expression articulated in The Prose of the World overcomes the limitations of the account given in the earlier work. After addressing an objection to the effect that the account given in The Prose of the World fails for (...) the same reason as the one given in Phenomenology of Perception, I argue that the key to Merleau-Ponty’s more successful account of alterity is provided by the phenomenon of orientation. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the conception of evil and the prescriptions for its mitigation that Michel Serres has articulated in his recent works. My explication of Serres’s argument centers on the claim, advanced in many different texts, that practices of exclusion, motivated by what he calls “the terrifying concupiscence of belonging,” are the primary sources of evil in the world. After explicating Serres’s argument, I examine three important objections, concluding that Serres overestimates somewhat the role of exclusion in perpetuating (...) evil and that his prescriptions for mitigating evil are excessively optimistic. (shrink)
In The Troubadour of Knowledge, Michel Serres demonstrates, by means of an extended discussion of learning, that our capacity to adopt a position presupposes a kind of disorienting exposure to a dimension of pure possibility that both subtends and destabilizes that position. In this paper I trace out the implications of this insight for our understanding of obligation, especially as it is articulated in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Specifically, I argue that obligation is given along with a dimension (...) of moral possibility, and not, as Kant thought, as an unmediated fact of reason. (shrink)
According to Immanuel Kant, moral experience is made possible by respect, an absolutely unique feeling in which the sensible and the intelligible are given immediately together. This paper argues that Kant's moral philosophy underemphasizes the role of this sensibility at the heart of moral experience and that a more rigorous conception of respect, grounded in Michel Serres's concepts of the parasite, the excluded/included third, and noise would yield a moral philosophy more consistent with Kant's own basic insights.
This is a review of From Discourse to Logic: Introduction to Model-theoretic Semantics of Natural Language, Formal Logic and Discourse Representation Theory, by Hans Kamp and Uwe Reyle, published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 1993.
In this book Uwe Steinhoff describes and explains the basic tenets of just war theory and gives a precise, succinct and highly critical account of its present status and of the most important and controversial current debates surrounding it. Rejecting certain in effect medieval assumptions of traditional just war theory and advancing a liberal outlook, Steinhoff argues that every single individual is a legitimate authority and has under certain circumstances the right to declare war on others or the state. He (...) also argues that the just cause cannot be established independently of the other criteria of jus ad bellum (the justification of entering a war), except for right intention, which he interprets more leniently than the tradition does. Turning to jus in bello (which governs the conduct of a war) he criticizes the Doctrine of Double Effect and concludes that insofar as wars kill innocents, and be it as "collateral damage", they cannot be just but at best justified as the lesser evil. Steinhoff gives particular attention to the question why soldiers, allegedly, are legitimate targets and civilians not. Discussing four approaches to the explanation of the difference he argues that the four principles underlying them all need to be taken into account and outlines how their weighing can proceed if applied to concrete cases. The resulting approach does not square the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate targets with the distinction between soldiers and civilians, which has extremely important consequences for the conduct of war. Finally, Steinhoff analyses the concept of terrorism and argues that some forms of "terrorism" are actually not terrorism at all and that even terrorism proper can under certain circumstances be justified. (shrink)
Commentators on Uwe Reinhardt's Tanner Lecture. The Tanner Lectures are a collection of educational and scientific discussions relating to human values. Conducted by leaders in their fields, the lectures are presented at prestigious educational facilities around the world.
Since the late eighties, a sequel of annual workshops on logic and analytic philosophy has been held on the Island of Poel near Wismar, close to both Gottlob Frege’s grave and to his house in Bad Kleinen. The meeting last year, however, was held in Graal-Müritz and was devoted to Ontologic. It was organised by Jerzy Perzanowski, Uwe Scheffler and Max Urchs. The present number of Logic and Logical Philosophy is not exactly the proceedings of the 94’ conference. On one (...) hand, not all the papers presented at the workshop (see next page for the programme) are included in this volume, while others were changed considerably. On the other hand, colleagues who were to come but had to cancel for some reason were invited to submit their material, too. (shrink)
Can torture be morally justified? I shall criticise arguments that have been adduced against torture and demonstrate that torture can be justified more easily than most philosophers dealing with the question are prepared to admit. It can be justified not only in ticking nuclear bomb cases but also in less spectacular ticking bomb cases and even in the socalled Dirty Harry cases. There is no morally relevant difference between self-defensive killing. of a culpable aggressor and torturing someone who is culpable (...) of a deadly threat that can be averted only by torturing him. Nevertheless, I shall argue that torture should not be institutionalised, for example by torture warrants. (shrink)
Although physicalism has been the dominant position in recent work in the philosophy of mind, this dominance has not prevented a small but growing number of philosophers from arguing that physicalism is untenable for several reasons: both ontologically and epistemologically it cannot reduce mentality to the realm of the physical, and its attempts to reduce subjectivity to objectivity have thoroughly failed. The contributors to After Physicalism provide powerful alternatives to the physicalist account of the human mind from a dualistic point (...) of view and argue that the reductive and naturalistic paradigm in philosophy has lost its force. -/- The essays in this collection all firmly engage in a priori metaphysics. Those by Uwe Meixner, E. J. Lowe, John Foster, Alvin Plantinga, and Richard Swinburne are concerned with ways to establish the truth of dualism. Essays by William Hasker, A. D. Smith, and Howard Robinson deal with the relation between physicalism and dualism. Benedikt Paul Göcke argues that the “I” is not a particular and Stephen Priest that “I have to understand myself not as a thing but as no-thing-ness.” In the final essay, Thomas Schärtl argues that there are limits to dualism as indicated by the concept of resurrection. By including two classical essays by Plantinga and Swinburne, the volume conveniently brings together some of the best and the newest thinking in making the philosophical case for dualism. (shrink)
In the first part, the paper describes in detail the classical conception of intentionality which was expounded in its most sophisticated form by Edmund Husserl. This conception is today largely eclipsed in the philosophy of mind by the functionalist and by the representationalist account of intentionality, the former adopted by Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers, the latter by John Searle and Fred Dretske. The very considerable differences between the classical and the modern conceptions are pointed out, and it is argued (...) that the classical conception is more satisfactory than the two modern ones, not only regarding phenomenal adequacy, but also on the grounds of epistemological considerations. In the second part, the paper argues that classical intentionality is not naturalizable, that is, physicalizable. Since classical intentionality exists (in the experiences that display it), the non-naturalizability of classical intentionality implies psychophysical dualism. (shrink)
Joanna Mary Firth and Jonathan Quong argue that both an instrumental account of liability to defensive harm, according to which an aggressor can only be liable to defensive harms that are necessary to avert the threat he poses, and a purely noninstrumental account which completely jettisons the necessity condition, lead to very counterintuitive implications. To remedy this situation, they offer a “pluralist” account and base it on a distinction between “agency rights” and a “humanitarian right.” I argue, first, that this (...) distinction is spurious; second, that the conclusions they draw from this distinction do not cohere with its premises; third, that even if one granted the distinction, Firth’s and Quong’s implicit premise that you can forfeit your agency rights but not your “humanitarian right” is unwarranted; fourth, that their attempt to mitigate the counterintuitive implications of their own account in the Rape case relies on mistaken ad-hoc assumptions; fifth, that even if they were successful in somewhat mitigating said counterintuitive implications, they would still not be able to entirely avoid them; and sixth, that even in the unlikely case that none of these previous five critical points are correct, Firth and Quong still fail to establish that aggressors can be liable to unnecessary defensive harm since they fail to establish that unnecessary harm can ever be defensive in the first place. (shrink)
Thomas Pogge claims “that, by shaping and enforcing the social conditions that foreseeably and avoidably cause the monumental suffering of global poverty, we are harming the global poor – or, to put it more descriptively, we are active participants in the largest, though not the gravest, crime against humanity ever committed.” In other words, he claims that by upholding certain international arrangements we are violating our strong negative duties not to harm, and not just some (perhaps much weaker) positive duties (...) to help. I shall argue that even if Pogge were correct in claiming that certain rich states or at least the rich states collectively violate certain negative duties towards the poor and harm the poor, he is far too hasty in concluding that “we,” the citizens of those states, are thus harming the global poor or violating our negative duties towards them. In fact, his conclusion can be shown to be wrong not least of all in the light of some of his own assumptions about collective responsibility, the enforceability of human rights, and terrorism. In addition, I will also argue that his view that we share responsibility for the acts of our political “representatives,” who allegedly act “on our behalf,” is unwarranted. (shrink)
According to the dominant position in the just war tradition from Augustine to Anscombe and beyond, there is no “moral equality of combatants.” That is, on the traditional view the combatants participating in a justified war may kill their enemy combatants participating in an unjustified war— but not vice versa (barring certain qualifications). I shall argue here, however, that in the large number of wars (and in practically all modern wars) where the combatants on the justified side violate the rights (...) of innocent people (“collateral damage”), these combatants are in fact liable to attack by the combatants on the unjustified side. I will support this view with a rights-based account of liability to attack and then defend it against a number of objections raised in particular by Jeff McMahan. The result is that the thesis of the moral equality of combatants holds good for a large range of armed conflicts while the opposing thesis is of very limited practical relevance. (shrink)
With the emergence of modern physics a conflict became apparent between the Principle of Sufficient Cause and the Principle of Physical Causal Closure. Though these principles are not logically incompatible, they could no longer be considered to be both true; one of them had to be false. The present paper makes use of this seldom noticed conflict to argue on the basis of considerations of comparative rationality for the truth of causal statements that have at least some degree of philosophico-theological (...) relevance and can be taken to indicate ( not prove) the existence of God. The paper’s comparatively modest aim is to establish belief in the existence of God as a rational metaphysical option, not as a rational obligation. In its final section, enriched causal considerations lead to an indication ( not proof) of God as that which guarantees the unified continuance of the physical world. (shrink)