This article explores universal normative bases that could help to shape a workable legal construct that would facilitate a global use of advance directives. Although I believe that advance directives are of universal character, my primary aim in approaching this issue is to remain realistic. I will make three claims. First, I will argue that the principles of autonomy, dignity and informed consent, embodied in the Oviedo Convention and the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, could arguably be regarded (...) as universal bases for the global use of advance directives. Second, I will demonstrate that, despite the apparent consensus of ethical authorities in support of their global use, it is unlikely, for the time being, that such consensus could lead to unqualified legal recognition of advance directives, because of different understandings of the nature of the international rules, meanings of autonomy and dignity which are context-specific and culture-specific, and existing imperfections that make advance directives either unworkable or hardly applicable in practice. The third claim suggests that the fact that the concept of the advance directive is not universally shared does not mean that it should not become so, but never as the only option in managing incompetent patients. A way to proceed is to prioritize work on developing higher standards in managing incompetent patients and on progressing towards the realization of universal human rights in the sphere of bioethics, by advocating a universal, legally binding international convention that would outlaw human rights violations in end-of-life decision-making. (shrink)
It is natural to oppose morality and self-interest; it is customary also to oppose morality to interests as such, an inclination encouraged by Kantian tradition. However, if “interest” is understood simply as what moves a person to do this rather than that, then – if persons ever actually are good and do what is right – there must be moral interests. Bradley, in posing the “Why should I be moral?” question, raises Kant-inspired objections to the possibility of moral interests qua (...) particular, conditional causes. The paper argues that these objections can be met if (a) one distinguishes between what makes something right and what makes something right happen, and (b) doing what is right is intrinsic to a person’s interests and not merely a means to ulterior ends. The requisite completeness of rational morality is shown to exclude pluralistic approaches. Given rational monism, people can find intrinsic advantage in morality’s justifiability, cooperativeness and communality. (shrink)
The Anselmian claim that God is that than which a greater cannot be thought in virtue of being ‘whatever it is better to be than not to be’ may be accused of incoherence or even unintelligibility. By proposing a non-relative but apparently meaningful analysis thereof, I attempt to defend it against such criticism. In particular, I argue that ‘whatever it is better to be than not to be’ can be plausibly interpreted so as to imply very many attributes traditionally predicated (...) of that than which a greater cannot be thought. Central to this line of reasoning is the assumption that whatever is an actual moral being is greater, simpliciter, than whatever is not an actual moral being. (shrink)
This paper revisits the “morality pays” approach to answering the “Why be moral?” question in business. First I argue that “morality pays” is weakest when it needs to be strongest, and thus inadequate to the task. Then I examine and reject a proposed virtue-ethics alternative, arguing that it either collapses into “morality pays” or else introduces a new problem. After sketching an account of moral reasons, I go on to argue that “morality pays” can be reframed, not so much as (...) an answer to “Why be moral,” but as a prescription for reforming corporate institutions. (shrink)
The children of today live in a time when the images of themselves and their childhood, their needs, interests, and skills, are discussed, researched, challenged, and changed. Childhood, education and educational settings for young children are to a great extent governed by temporality. In this paper, temporality and temporal notions in education are explored and discussed. We especially illuminate two different ways of thinking about children in education and care for younger children in the West— the predominant biased notions of (...) the child as becoming or being. The child as becoming, is manifested primarily in classical developmental psychology while the notion of the child as being, has been highlighted mainly by sociological researchers in their critique of developmental psychology. This latter notion is also visible in a totally different manner in the philosophy of Rousseau, emphasizing the free and natural child. In addition, we explore an alternative way of thinking about temporality and children. Drawing upon the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze, we argue for a rethinking of temporality beyond linear views on time and biased notions of children as ‘either or’. A movement towards a perspective which not only combines notions, but where the whole is more than merely the sum of the parts, is proposed. This leads to an ambiguous, intertwined and ongoing connection between the temporal notions of have been, being and becoming, described by a novel concept—a chiasmic be(com)ing. We suggest that this alternative may be a fruitful way to overcome binary approaches and expand the discussion of temporality, and temporal notions of children, in education. Such an alternative could function as a counterweight to the predominant notions of education and teachers’ work. It may also be seen as a significant foundation for an ethical education since it is built upon ongoing and intertwined relationships, which appreciate openness and unpredictability. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the view that a zygote is a human from the fission objection that is widely thought to be decisive against the view. I do so, drawing upon a recent discussion of this issue by John Burgess, by explaining in detail the metaphysical position the proponent of the view should adopt in order to rebut the objection.
To Be Human presents Krishnamurti's radical vision of life in a new way. At the heart of this extraordinary collection are passages from the great teacher's talks that amplify and clarify the nature of truth and those obstacles that often prevent us from seeing it. Most of these core teachings have not been available in print until now. Besides presenting the core of Krishnamurti's message, the book alerts the reader to his innovative use of language, the ways in which he (...) would use "old words with new interpretations," then gives practical examples, showing that we can clarify our understanding of life itself--and act on this new understanding. The splendid introduction by David Skitt discusses Krishnamurti's philosophy as a guide to knowledge and experience, the roles knowledge and experience should play in our lives, and the times when it is best to cast them aside and "look and act anew." The book's source notes will aid the inquisitive reader who wishes a deeper understanding of this great teacher's message. (shrink)
I take myself to be a physicalist. I hold that all facts, including such prima facie non-physical facts as mental and biological facts, metaphysically supervene on the physical facts. However, I do not have any views about the relationship between macroscopic and microscopic facts. I am neutral on such questions as whether big things are always made of small things. Recently I have become worried about this combination of views. This is because many other philosophers seem to think of physicalism (...) as some kind of commitment to the primacy of the microscopic. In their view, physicalism doesn’t just say that everything is physical. It also says that everything is microscopically determined. Here are some representative quotations. (shrink)
Many international business training programs present a viewpoint of cultural relativism that encourages business people to adapt to the host country's culture. This paper presents an argument that cultural relativism is not always appropriate for business ethics; rather, a code of conduct must be adapted which presents guidelines for core ethical business conduct across cultures. Both moral and economic evidence is provided to support the argument for a universal code of ethics. Also, four steps are presented that will help ensure (...) that company ethical standards are followed internationally. (shrink)
It is always awkward when someone asks me informally what I’m working on and I answer that I’m trying to figure out what gender is. For outside a rather narrow segment of the academic world, the term ‘gender’ has come to function as the polite way to talk about the sexes. And one thing people feel pretty confident about is their knowledge of the difference between males and females. Males are those human beings with a range of familiar primary and (...) secondary sex characteristics, most important being the penis; females are those with a different set, most important being the vagina or, perhaps, the uterus. Enough said. Against this background, it isn’t clear what could be the point of an inquiry, especially a philosophical inquiry, into “what gender is”. (shrink)
I distill three somewhat interrelated approaches to the ethical criticism of humor: (1) attitude-based theories, (2) merited-response theories, and (3) emotional responsibility theories. I direct the brunt of my effort at showing the limitations of the attitudinal endorsement theory by presenting new criticisms of Ronald de Sousa’s position. Then, I turn to assess the strengths of the other two approaches, showing that that their major formulations implicitly require the problematic attitudinal endorsement theory. I argue for an effects-mediated responsibility theory , (...) holding that the strongest ethical criticism that can be made of our sense of humor is that it might indicate some omission on our part. This omission could only be culpable in so far as a particular joke could do harm to oneself or others. In response to Ted Cohen’s doubts that such a mechanism of harm is forthcoming, I argue that the primary vehicle of the harmful effects of humor is laughter. (shrink)
The standard view about counterfactuals is that a counterfactual (A > C) is true if and only if the A-worlds most similar to the actual world @ are C-worlds. I argue that the worlds conception of counterfactuals is wrong. I assume that counterfactuals have non-trivial truth-values under physical determinism. I show that the possible-worlds approach cannot explain many embeddings of the form (P > (Q > R)), which intuitively are perfectly assertable, and which must be true if the contingent falsity (...) of (Q > R) is to be explained. If (P > (Q > R)) has a backtracking reading then the contingent facts that (Q > R) needs to be true in the closest P-worlds are absent. If (P > (Q > R)) has a forwardtracking reading, then the laws required by (Q > R) to be true in the closest P-worlds will be absent, because they are violated in those worlds. Solutions like lossy laws or denial of embedding won't work. The only approach to counterfactuals that explains the embedding is a pragmatic metalinguistic approach in which the whole idea that counterfactuals are about a modal reality, be it abstract or concrete, is given up. (shrink)
The project that Dan Lloyd has undertaken is admirable and audacious. He has tried to boil down the substrate of information-processing that underlies conscious experience to some very simple elements, in order to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon. Some people will suspect that by considering a model as simple as a connectionist network, Dan has thrown away everything that is interesting about consciousness. Perhaps there is something to that complaint, but I will take a different tack. It seems (...) to me that if we apply his own reasoning, we can see that Dan has not taken things far _enough_. When we have boiled things down to a system as simple as a connectionist network, it seems faint-hearted to stop there, and perhaps a little arbitrary as well. So I will take things further, and ask what seems to be the really interesting question in the vicinity: what is it like to be a thermostat? (shrink)
Normativity involves two kinds of relation. On the one hand, there is the relation of being a reason for. This is a relation between a fact and an attitude. On the other hand, there are relations specified by requirements of rationality. These are relations among a person's attitudes, viewed in abstraction from the reasons for them. I ask how the normativity of rationality—the sense in which we ‘ought’ to comply with requirements of rationality—is related to the normativity of reasons—the sense (...) in which we ‘ought’ to have the attitudes what we have conclusive reason to have. The normativity of rationality is not straightforwardly that of reasons, I argue; there are no reasons to comply with rational requirements in general. First, this would lead to ‘bootstrapping’, because, contrary to the claims of John Broome, not all rational requirements have ‘wide scope’. Second, it is unclear what such reasons to be rational might be. Finally, we typically do not, and in many cases could not, treat rational requirements as reasons. Instead, I suggest, rationality is only apparently normative, and the normativity that it appears to have is that of reasons. According to this ‘Transparency Account’, rational requirements govern our responses to our beliefs about reasons. The normative ‘pressure’ that we feel, when rational requirements apply to us, derives from these beliefs: from the reasons that, as it seems to us, we have. (shrink)
THE aim of this paper is to refute Hume's contention that there cannot be logically necessary connections between successive events. I intend to establish, in other words, not 'Logically necessary connections do exist between successive events', but instead the rather more modest proposition: 'It may be, it is possible, as far as we can ever know for certain, that logically necessary connections do exist between successive events.' Towards the end of the paper I shall say something about the implications of (...) rejecting Hume's contention. (shrink)
Claims that pornography cannot be art typically depend on controversial claims about essential value differences (moral, aesthetic) between pornography and art. In this paper, I offer a value-neutral exclusionary claim, showing pornography to be descriptively at odds with art. I then show how my view is an improvement on similar claims made by Jerrold Levinson. Finally I draw parallels between art and pornography and art and advertising as well as show that my view is consistent with our typical usage of (...) the term “pornographic art.”. (shrink)
In their recent book Every Thing Must Go Ladyman and Ross (Ladyman et al. 2007) claim: (1) Physics is analytically complete since it is the only science that cannot be left incomplete (cf. Ladyman et al. 2007, 283). (2) There might not be an ontologically fundamental level (cf. Ladyman et al. 2007, 178). (3) We should not admit anything into our ontology unless it has explanatory and predictive utility (cf. Ladyman et al. 2007, 179). In this discussion note I aim (...) to show that the ontological commitment in (3) implies that the completeness of no science can be achieved where no fundamental level exists. Therefore, if claim (1) requires a science to actually be complete in order to be considered as physics, (1), and if Ladyman and Ross’s “tentative metaphysical hypothesis […] that there is no fundamental level” (178) is true, (2), then there simply is no physics. Ladyman and Ross can, however, avoid this unwanted result if they merely require physics to ever strive for completeness rather than to already be complete. (shrink)
1.1 Bilateral damage to the thalamus abolishes waking consciousness. The critical site of this damage is believed to be a relatively small cluster of neurons, about the size of a pencil eraser on either side of the brain's midline, called the Intra-Laminar Nuclei (ILN) because they are located inside the white layers (laminae) that divide the two thalami into their major groupings of nuclei. The fact that bilateral damage to the ILNs abolishes consciousness is very unusual. There is no other (...) site in the brain that has this property, except the reticular formation in the brain stem. In contrast, huge chunks of cortex can be damaged without abolishing the STATE of consciousness. (Cortical damage does change the CONTENTS of consciousness, of course). (shrink)
Hájek has recently presented the following paradox. You are certain that a cable guy will visit you tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. but you have no further information about when. And you agree to a bet on whether he will come in the morning interval (8, 12] or in the afternoon interval (12, 4). At first, you have no reason to prefer one possibility rather than the other. But you soon realise that there will definitely be a future (...) time at which you will (rationally) assign higher probability to an afternoon arrival than a morning one, due to time elapsing. You are also sure there may not be a future time at which you will (rationally) assign a higher probability to a morning arrival than an afternoon one. It would therefore appear that you ought to bet on an afternoon arrival. The paradox is based on the apparent incompatibility of the principle of expected utility and principles of diachronic rationality which are prima facie plausible. Hájek concludes that the latter are false, but doesn't provide a clear diagnosis as to why. We endeavour to further our understanding of the paradox by providing such a diagnosis. (shrink)
In On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that we need to make a significant reassessment of the relationship between some central positions in moral philosophy, because, contrary to received opinion, Kantians, contractualists and consequentialists are all 'climbing the same mountain on different sides'. In Parfit's view Kant's own attempt to outline an account of moral obligation fails, but when it is modified in ways entirely congenial to his thinking, a defensible Kantian contractualism can be produced, which survives the objections which (...) are fatal for Kant's own theory. This form of contractualism would then lead rational agents to choose consequentialist moral principles. I argue that Parfit significantly misrepresents Kant's project in moral philosophy, and that no genuinely Kantian moral theory could issue in a form of consequentialism. (shrink)
According to a captivating picture, epistemic justification is essentially a matter of epistemic or evidential likelihood. While certain problems for this view are well known, it is motivated by a very natural thought – if justification can fall short of epistemic certainty, then what else could it possibly be? In this paper I shall develop an alternative way of thinking about epistemic justification. On this conception, the difference between justification and likelihood turns out to be akin to the more widely (...) recognised difference between ceteris paribus laws and brute statistical generalisations. I go on to discuss, in light of this suggestion, issues such as classical and lottery-driven scepticism as well as the lottery and preface paradoxes. (shrink)
One of the striking, even amusing, spectacles to be enjoyed at the many workshops and conferences on consciousness these days is the breathtaking overconfidence with which laypeople hold forth about the nature of consciousness Btheir own in particular, but everybody =s by extrapolation. Everybody =s an expert on consciousness, it seems, and it doesn =t take any knowledge of experimental findings to secure the home truths these people enunciate with such conviction.
A "machine" is any causal physical system, hence we are machines, hence machines can be conscious. The question is: which kinds of machines can be conscious? Chances are that robots that can pass the Turing Test -- completely indistinguishable from us in their behavioral capacities -- can be conscious (i.e. feel), but we can never be sure (because of the "other-minds" problem). And we can never know HOW they have minds, because of the "mind/body" problem. We can only know how (...) they pass the Turing Test, but not how, why or whether that makes them feel. (shrink)
An important advance in normativity research over the last decade is an increased understanding of the distinction, and difference, between normativity and rationality. Normativity concerns or picks out a broad set of concepts that have in common that they are, put loosely, guiding. For example, consider two commonly used normative concepts: that of a normative reason and that of ought. To have a normative reason to perform some action is for there to be something that counts in favour of performing (...) that action. Likewise with ought, when there is sufficient evidence for something, one ought to believe it (at least under normal circumstances). Not all guidance need be directed towards a specific state or a specific action. Subject to the requirements of normativity, too, are relations. It is commonly believed, for example, that we ought not to hold contradictory beliefs.1 At least some of the requirements that concern relations amongst an agent’s mental states are, or seem, distinctive. Agents who fail to satisfy these requirements are considered, at least to some degree, irrational. On many current views, being irrational is distinct in some way from not being how one ought to be; rationality is a concept distinct from normativity. Much of the literature on this topic over the last decade stems from attempts to capture the characteristic features of the requirements of rationality. Two influential views in particular did much to set the agenda. The first of these two was put forward John Broome.2 His view, the particulars of which I shall discuss in more detail below, is that the requirements of rationality could be expressed using a normative relation, which he calls a ‘normative requirement’. Normative requirements are conditionals governed by an all-thingsconsidered ought. In the case of rationality, the conditional is made up entirely of mental states.. (shrink)
College students implicitly judge interracial sex and gay sex to be morally wrong Some moral intuitions arise from psychological processes that are not fully accessible to consciousness. For instance, most people disapprove of consensual adult incest between siblings, but are unable to articulate why—they just feel that it is wrong (Haidt, 2001). More generally, there is evidence for at least two sources of moral judgment: explicit conscious reasoning and tacit intuitions, which are motivated by emotional responses (Greene et al., 2001) (...) and learned associations (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). (shrink)
Professional philosophers are members of bioethical committees and regulatory bodies in areas of interest to bioethicists. This suggests they possess moral expertise even if they do not exercise it directly and without constraint. Moral expertise is defined, and four arguments given in support of scepticism about their possession of such expertise are considered and rejected: the existence of extreme disagreement between moral philosophers about moral matters; the lack of a means clearly to identify moral experts; that expertise cannot be claimed (...) in that which lacks objectivity; and that ordinary people do not follow the advice of moral experts.I offer a better reason for scepticism grounded in the relation between moral philosophy and common-sense morality: namely that modern moral philosophy views even a developed moral theory as ultimately anchored in common-sense morality, that set of basic moral precepts which ordinary individuals have command of and use to regulate their own lives.Even if moral philosophers do nevertheless have a limited moral expertise, in that they alone can fully develop a set of moral judgments, I sketch reasons – grounded in the values of autonomy and of democracy – why moral philosophers should not wish non-philosophers to defer to their putative expertise. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker argues that time without change is possible, but begs the question by assuming an, in effect, Newtonian absolute time, that 'flows equably' in a region in which there is no change and in one in which there is. An equally possible, relativist, assumption, consistent, it seems, with relativity theory, is that where nothing changes there is no time flow, though there may be elsewhere, where there is change. Such an assumption would require some revision of uncritical common thought (...) about time. Aristotle argues that there is no time without change but that time is not change. His arguments for the latter can be faulted both internally and again in terms of the same relativist assumption. From the Physics we can derive, though Aristotle himself did not, an argument that time is to change as geometrical space is to body: the thing itself in abstraction. (shrink)
The paper deals with the possibility of a theory of the nature of law as such, a theory which will be necessarily true of all law. It explores the relations between explanations of concepts and of the things they are concepts of, the possibility that the law has essential properties, and the possibility that the law changes its nature over time, and that what is law at a given place and time depends on the culture and concepts of that place (...) and time. It also considers the possibility of understanding the institutions, such as the law, of cultures whose concepts are alien to us. The position advocated offers a reconciliation of ways in which a theory of the nature of law is parochial with its claim to be universal. (shrink)
Negative causation occurs when an absence serves as cause, effect, or causal intermediary. Negative causation is genuine causation, or so I shall argue. It involves no physical connection between cause and effect. Thus causes need not be physically connected to their effects.
I discuss Husserl’s account of intersubjectivity in the fifth Cartesian Meditation. I focus on the problem of perceived similarity. I argue that recent work in developmental psychology and neuroscience, concerning intermodal representation and the mirror neuron system, fails to constitute a naturalistic solution to the problem. This can be seen via a comparison between the Husserlian project on the one hand and Molyneux’s Question on the other.
Many arguments have been advanced for the view that "Why be moral?" is a pseudo-question. In this paper I address one of the most widely known and influential of them, one that comes from John Hospers and J. C. <span class='Hi'>Thornton</span>. I do so partly because, strangely, an important phase of that argument has escaped close attention. It warrants such attention because, firstly, not only is it important to the argument in which it appears, it is important in wider respects. (...) For instance, if it is sound it has weighty consequences even if the argument in which it figures fails. Secondly, it is not sound; it succumbs to a simple objection. (shrink)
David Chalmers argues that consciousness -- authentic, first-person, conscious consciousness -- cannot be reduced to brain events or to any physical event, and that efforts to find a workable mind-body identity theory are, therefore, doomed in principle. But for Chalmers and non-reductionist in general consciousness consists exclusively, or at least paradigmatically, of phenomenal or qualia-consciousness. This results in a seriously inadequate understanding both of consciousness and of the “hard problem.” I describe other, higher-order cognitional events which must be conscious if (...) the “hard problem” is to be solved -- in any sense of ‘solve’ which would make us any the wiser about it -- but whose consciousness is quite different from the qualia and phenomena usually inventoried. Events of this kind are both part of the hard problem and the means by which we will solve it, if we ever do. -/- . (shrink)
Can physicalism (or materialism) be non-reductive? I provide an opinionated survey of the debate on this question. I suggest that attempts to formulate non-reductive physicalism by appeal to claims of event identity, supervenience, or realization have produced doctrines that fail either to be physicalist or to be non-reductive. Then I treat in more detail a recent attempt to formulate non-reductive physicalism by Derk Pereboom, but argue that it fares no better.
It is shown that quantum mechanics cannot be formulated as a stochastic theory involving a probability distribution function of position and momentum. This is done by showing that the most general distribution function which yields the proper quantum mechanical marginal distributions cannot consistently be used to predict the expectations of observables if phase space integration is used. Implications relating to the possibility of establishing a "hidden" variable theory of quantum mechanics are discussed.
Alvin Goldman’s contributions to contemporary epistemology are impressive—few epistemologists have provided others so many occasions for reflecting on the fundamental character of their discipline and its concepts. His work has informed the way epistemological questions have changed (and remained consistent) over the last two decades. We (the authors of this paper) can perhaps best suggest our indebtedness by noting that there is probably no paper on epistemology that either of us individually or jointly have produced that does not in its (...) notes and references bear clear testimony to the influence of Professor Goldman’s arguments. The present paper is no exception (and this would be a particularly inapt place to break with our tradition of indebtedness). Professor Goldman has produced a series of discussions that we find particularly important for coming to terms with the venerable idea that there may be truths that can be known a priori (Goldman 1992a, 1992b, 1999). We do not altogether follow his lead, while he draws on the idea that a priori justification has something to do with innateness or processess, we prefer to accentuate the idea that a priori justification turns on a conceptually grounded truths and access via acquired conceptual competence (at least in many significant philosophical cases). Still, in developing our understanding we have been aided by much that Professor Goldman says regarding concepts, conceptual competence, and related psychological processes. The influences should become progressively clear, particularly in the later sections of this paper. What would it take for there to be a priori knowledge or justification? We can begin by reflecting on a widely agreed on answer to this question—one that purports to identify something that would at least be adequate for a priori justification. The answer will then serve as one anchor for the present investigation, a bit of shared ground on which empiricists and rationalists can, and typically do, agree.. (shrink)
This paper consists of four parts. Part 1 is an introduction. Part 2 evaluates arguments for the claim that there are no strict empirical laws in biology. I argue that there are two types of arguments for this claim and they are as follows: (1) Biological properties are multiply realized and they require complex processes. For this reason, it is almost impossible to formulate strict empirical laws in biology. (2) Generalizations in biology hold contingently but laws go beyond describing contingencies, (...) so there cannot be strict laws in biology. I argue that both types of arguments fail. Part 3 considers some examples of biological laws in recent biological research and argues that they exemplify strict laws in biology. Part 4 considers the objection that the examples in part 3 may be strict laws but they are not distinctively biological laws. I argue that given a plausible account of what distinctively biological means, such laws are distinctively biological. (shrink)
The contrast typically made between utilitarianism and virtue theory is overdrawn. Utilitarianism is a universal emulator: it implies that we should lie, cheat, steal, even appropriate Aristotle, when that is what brings about the best outcomes. In some cases and in some worlds it is best for us to focus as precisely as possible on individual acts. In other cases and worlds it is best for us to be concerned with character traits. Global environmental change leads to concerns about character (...) because the best results will be produced by generally uncoupling my behavior from that of others. Thus, in this case and in this world, utilitarians should be virtue theorists. (shrink)
When there is truth, there must be some thing (or things) to account for that truth: some thing(s) that couldn’t exist and the true proposition fail to be true. That is the truthmaker principle. True propositions are made true by entities in the mind-independently existing external world. The truthmaker principle seems attractive to many metaphysicians, but many have wanted to weaken it and accept not that every true proposition has a truthmaker but only that some important class of propositions require (...) truthmakers.1 Let us, following Armstrong, call the claim that all true propositions, without exception, have a truthmaker, Truthmaker Maximalism. Why might one be tempted to the spirit of truthmaker theory but reject Truthmaker Maximalism? Well, you might deny that necessary truths need truthmakers, for one, and insist that only contingent truths have truthmakers. But I think it’s fair to say that the most common motivation for rejecting maximalism concerns negative truths. The thought that negative truths are exempt from the demand for truthmakers could be justified in one of two ways: there is the claim that we don’t need truthmakers for negative truths, and there is the claim that we can’t have.. (shrink)
As is well known, Aristotelian natural philosophy, and many other systems of natural philosophy since, have relied heavily on teleology and teleological causation. Somehow, the purpose or end of an obj ect can be used to predict and explain what that object does: once you know that the end of an acorn is to become an oak, and a few things about what sorts of circumstances are conducive to the attainment of this end, you can predict a lot about the (...) sprouting of the acorn and the subsequent behaviour of the piece of vegetation that results. Once you know that a rock seeks to move towards the centre of the Earth, you gain some insight into why it falls when released, and why it deforms the carpet or foot that it lands on. Once you know that the rabbit seeks to preserve itself, you can predict it will run from the fox. And so on. There are at least three features of Aristotle’s teleology, and more generally of an Aristotelian frame of mind about teleology, that may induce suspicion. One is that an end can serve as a "cause": as well as the sort of causation we all recognize, efficient causation, there are other forms, one of which is teleological causation. However, this can look less odd if we think of causes as things that figure in "because" answers to "why" questions. Whether or not self-preservation, or the rabbit’s continued existence, or something similar, causes the rabbit to run, the reply "because it seeks to continue in existence" certainly makes sense as an answer, or part of an answer, to a question about why it ran from the fox. (At present we are only. (shrink)
In this article I distinguish the notion of there being something it is like to be a certain kind of creature from that of there being something it is like to have a certain kind of experience. Work on consciousness has typically dealt with the latter while employing the language of the former. I propose several ways of analyzing what it is like to be a certain kind of creature and find problems with them all. The upshot is that even (...) if there is something it is like to have certain kinds of experience, it does not follow that there is anything it is like to be a certain kind of creature. Skepticism about the existence of something that it is like to be an F is recommended. (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)
Against the ideal of value-free science I argue that science is not––and cannot be––value-free and that relevant values are both cognitive and moral. I develop an argument by indicating various aspects of the value-ladenness of science. The recognition of the value-ladenness of science requires rethinking our understanding of the rationality and responsibility of science. Its rationality cannot be seen as merely instrumental––as it was seen by the ideal of value-free science––for this would result in limiting the autonomy of science and (...) reducing scientists to “minds to hire”. The scientific rationality must be seen as practical rationality which takes into account the full horizon of values. The scientific responsibility must also be broaden in scope and type. On this basis I draw three practical conclusions concerning the organization of research and training of young scientists, appealing to Plato’s claim that those most capable of healing are also those most capable of harming. (shrink)
In Part III of his Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics Wittgenstein deals with what he calls the surveyability of proofs. By this he means that mathematical proofs can be reproduced with certainty and in the manner in which we reproduce pictures. There are remarkable similarities between Wittgenstein's view of proofs and Hilbert's, but Wittgenstein, unlike Hilbert, uses his view mainly in critical intent. He tries to undermine foundational systems in mathematics, like logicist or set theoretic ones, by stressing the (...) unsurveyability of the proof-patterns occurring in them. Wittgenstein presents two main arguments against foundational endeavours of this sort. First, he shows that there are problems with the criteria of identity for the unsurveyable proof-patterns, and second, he points out that by making these patterns surveyable, we rely on concepts and procedures which go beyond the foundational frameworks. When we take these concepts and procedures seriously, mathematics does not appear as a uniform system, but as a mixture of different techniques. (shrink)
Cognitivism about practical reason is the view that intentions involve beliefs, and that the rational requirements on intentions can be explained in terms of the rational requirements on the beliefs that figure in intentions. In particular, cognitivists about practical reason have sought to provide cognitive explanations of two basic requirements of practical rationality: a consistency requirement, according to which it is rationally impermissible to have intentions that are jointly inconsistent with one’s beliefs, and a means-end coherence requirement, according to which, (...) to a first approximation, it is rationally impermissible to intend an end while failing to intend what one regards as a necessary means to this end. In order for the cognitivist to explain these requirements, she must arrive at an account of the beliefs that figure in intentions, on the basis of which she can show that any agent who violates these requirements of pratical rationality must have beliefs that violate the requirements of theoretical rationality. Providing such an account, however, turns out to be no easy task. (shrink)
My subject is what I will call the “Myth of Formal Coherence.” In its normative telling, the Myth is that there are “requirements of formal coherence as such,” which demand just that our beliefs and intentions be formally coherent.1 Some examples are.
When it comes to name-calling, structural realists have heard pretty much all of it. Among the many insults, they have been called ‘empiricist anti-realists’ but also ‘traditional scientific realists’. Obviously the collapse accusations that motivate these two insults cannot both be true at the same time. The aim of this paper is to defend the epistemic variety of structural realism against the accusation of collapse to traditional scientific realism. In so doing, I turn the tables on traditional scientific realists by (...) presenting them with a dilemma. They can either opt for a construal of their view that permits epistemic access to non-structural features of unobservables but then face the daunting task of substantiating a claim that seems to have little hope of being true or they can drop the requirement of epistemic access to non-structural features but then face a collapse to epistemic structural realism. There is thus only one well supported way to be a realist. No wonder then that many traditional scientific realists have over the years expressed views that are strikingly similar to epistemic structural realism. It is high time to let these epistemic structural realists out of the closet. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that, in contrast to prioritarianism, egalitarianism is exposed to the levelling down objection, i.e., the objection that it is absurd that a change which consists merely in the betteroff losing some of their well-being should be in one way for the better. In reply, this paper contends that (1) there is a plausible form of egalitarianism which is equivalent to another form of prioritarianism than the Parfitian one, a relational rather than an absolute form of prioritarianism, (...) and that (2), although this relational or egalitarian form of prioritarianism is hit by the levelling down objection, the Parfitian form is also hit by it, or worse objections, if it is fully worked out. (shrink)
This paper discusses the predicament of Oscar Pistorius. He is a Paralympic gold medallist who wishes to participate in the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Following a brief introductory section, the paper discusses the arguments that could be, and have been, deployed against his participation in the Olympics, should he make the qualifying time for his chosen event (400m). The next section discusses a more hypothetical argument based upon a specific understanding of the fair opportunity rule. According to this, there (...) may be a case for allowing Pistorius to compete even if he should fail to make the official qualifying time. The final part of the paper reviews the situation at the time of writing and offers some assessment of the strategy of the IAAF in responding to it. It is argued below that the proper focus for assessment of Pistorius's eligibility to compete should not be on whether his blades lead to his having an unfair advantage over his competitors, but instead should focus on whether what he does counts as running. (shrink)