I’ve been told that in the good old days of the 1970s, when Quine’s desert landscapes were regarded as ideal real estate and David Lewis and John Rawls had not yet left a legion of inﬂuential students rewriting the terrain of metaphysics and ethics respectively, compatibilism was still compatibilism about free will. And, of course, incompatibilism was still incompatibilism about free will. That is, compatibilism was the view that free will was compatible with determinism. Incompatibilism was the (...) view that free will was incompatible with determinism.1 What philosophers argued about was whether free will was compatible with determinism. Mostly, this was an argument about how to understand claims that one could do otherwise. You needn’t have bothered to talk about moral responsibility, because it was just obvious that you couldn’t have moral responsibility without free will. The literature was a temple of clarity. Then, somehow, things began to go horribly wrong. To be sure, there had been some activity in the 1960s that would have struck some observers as ominous. Still, it was not until the 1980s that those initial warning signs gave way to real trouble. The meanings of terms twisted. (shrink)
What is the will? And what is its relation to human action? Throughout history, philosophers have been fascinated by the idea of "the will": the source of the drive that motivates human beings to act. However, there has never been a clear consensus as to what the will is and how it relates to human action. Some philosophers have taken the will to be based firmly in reason and rational choice, and some have seen it (...) as purely self-determined. Others have replaced the idea of the human will with a more general drive uniting humans and the rest of nature, living and non-living. This collection of nine specially commissioned papers traces the formulation and treatment of the problem of the will from ancient philosophy through the scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages, to modern philosophy and right up to contemporary theories. Philosophers discussed include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Hobbes, Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. (shrink)
This paper contends that philosophers should consult the work of intellectual historians, who write on the history of the social formation of philosophy in the U.S., in order to understand our past role in American society and our intellectual niche in the academy. By understanding the history of our field as a social and cultural phenomenon, and not as a set of ideas that transcend their human contexts, we will be in a better position to set a (...) future course for our discipline. (shrink)
Weakness of the Will gives an excellent historical survey of philosophers' puzzles about the possibility of deliberately taking the worse course. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, a selection of medieval philosophers, and more contemporary philosophers are explored to illustrate why and how they avoid discussing the problem.
This book sets out to examine the medieval understanding of Aristotle's famous discussion of "weakness of the will" (akrasia, incontinentia) in the seventh book of his Nicomachean Ethics. The medieval views are outlined primarily on the basis of the commentaries on Aristotle's "Ethics by Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Walter Burley, Gerald Odonis and John Buridan. An investigation of the earlier Augustinian discussion concerning reluctant actions (invitus facere) rounds out the study. The recent studies of weakness of the (...) class='Hi'>will have neglected the medieval philosophers. The present volume fills this gap in historical research and shows that especially the conceptual refinement of the fourteenth-century discussion makes contributions that are comparable to those of twentieth-century philosophers. (shrink)
Libertarian or incompatibilist conceptions of free will (according to which free will is incompatible with determinism) have been under withering attack in the modern era of Western philosophy as obscure and unintelligible and have been dismissed as outdated by many twentieth century philosophers and scientists because of their supposed lack of fit with modern images of human beings in the natural and human sciences. In a recent book (The Significance of Free Will), I attempt to reconcile incompatibilist (...) free will with new images of human beings emerging in the physical, biological, behavioral, cognitive, and neuro-sciences—avoiding the usual libertarian appeals to obscure or mysterious forms of agency or causation. In this paper, I extend that effort with special attention to the relation of libertarian free will to recent research on neural networks and cognition and to recent philosophical debates about freedom, control, rationality and responsibility. (shrink)
The debate between free will and its opposing doctrine, determinism, is one of the key issues in philosophy. Ilham Dilman brings together all the dimensions of the problem of free will with examples from literature, ethics and psychoanalysis, and draws out valuable insights from both sides of the freedom-determinism divide. The book provides a comprehensive introduction to this highly important question and examines the contributions made by sixteen of the most outstanding thinkers from the time of early Greece (...) to modern times: Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Freud, Sartre, Weil, Wittgenstein, Moore. (shrink)
The Genealogy takes a historical form. But does the history play an essential role in Nietzsche's critique of modern morality? In this essay, I argue that the answer is yes. The Genealogy employs history in order to show that acceptance of modern morality was causally responsible for producing a dramatic change in our affects, drives, and perceptions. This change led agents to perceive actual increases in power as reductions in power, and actual decreases in power as increases in (...) power. Moreover, it led agents to experience negative emotions when engaging in activities that constitute greater manifestations of power, and positive emotions when engaging in activities that reduce power. For these reasons, modern morality strongly disposes agents to reduce their own power. Given Nietzsche’s argument that power has a privileged normative status, these facts entail that we have a reason to reject modern morality. (shrink)
Michelle Kosch examines the conceptions of free will and the foundations of ethics in the work of Kant, Schelling, and Kierkegaard. She seeks to understand the history of German idealism better by looking at it through the lens of these issues, and to understand Kierkegaard better by placing his thought in this context. Kosch argues for a new interpretation of Kierkegaard's theory of agency, that Schelling was a major influence and Kant a major target of criticism, and that (...) both the theory and the criticisms are highly relevant to contemporary debates. (shrink)
This book is about the influence of varying theological conceptions of contingency and necessity on two versions of the mechanical philosophy in the seventeenth century. Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) and Rene; Descartes (1596-1650) both believed that all natural phenomena could be explained in terms of matter and motion alone. They disagreed about the details of their mechanical accounts of the world, in particular about their theories of matter and their approaches to scientific method. This book traces their differences back to theological (...) presuppositions they inherited from the Middle Ages. Theological ideas were transformed into philosophical and scientific ideas which led to the emergence of different styles of science in the second half of the seventeenth century. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features (...) entailing important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
The present chapter is concerned with revisionism about free will. It begins by offering a new characterization of revisionist accounts and the way such accounts fit (or do not) in the familiar framework of compatibilism and incompatibilism. It then traces some of the recent history of the development of revisionist accounts, and concludes by remarking on some challenges for them.
Much of chapters 2 to 6 is in agreement with publications from the last twenty years (including those of the reviewer); so for example Frede’s points that neither Aristotle nor the Stoics had a notion of free-will; that in Epictetus (for the first time) the notions of freedom and will were combined; that an indeterminist notion of free-will occurs first in Alexander. The achievement of these chapters lies in the way Frede carefully joins them together and uses (...) them as a basis for some substantive criticism and rewriting of the history of free-will regarding late antique Pagan and Christian authors, in particular Plotinus, Origen and Augustine. (shrink)
To date, no satisfactory account of the connection between natural-scientific and historical explanation has been given, and philosophers seem to have largely given up on the problem. This paper is an attempt to resolve this old issue and to sort out and clarify some areas of historical explanation by developing and applying a method that will be called “pragmatic explication” involving the construction of definitions that are justified on pragmatic grounds. Explanations in general can be divided into “dynamic” and (...) “static” explanations, which are those that essentially require relations across time and those that do not, respectively. The problem of assimilating historical explanations concerns dynamic explanation, so a general analysis of dynamic explanation that captures both the structure of natural-scientific and historical explanation is offered. This is done in three stages: In the first stage, pragmatic explication is introduced and compared to other philosophical methods of explication. In the second stage pragmatic explication is used to tie together a series of definitions that are introduced in order to establish an account of explanation. This involves an investigation of the conditions that play the role in historiography that laws and statistical regularities play in the natural sciences. The essay argues that in the natural sciences, as well as in history, the model of explanation presented represents the aims and overarching structure of actual causal explanations offered in those disciplines. In the third stage the system arrived at in the preceding stage is filled in with conditions available to and relevant for historical inquiry. Further, the nature and treatment of causes in history and everyday life are explored and related to the system being proposed. This in turn makes room for a view connecting aspects of historical explanation and what we generally take to be causal relations. (shrink)
One of the most influential and significant developments in the philosophy of language over the last thirty years has been the rise of externalist conceptions of content. This essay aims to explore the implications of a form of externalism, largely derived from the work of Donald Davidson, for thinking about history, and in so doing to suggest one way in which contemporary philosophy of language may engage with contemporary philosophy of history. Much of the discussion focuses on the (...) elaboration of the externalism that is at issue, along with the holistic approach to content with which it is connected. It will be argued that such holistic externalism is itself thoroughly in keeping with the very character of historical inquiry itself, and can be seen to provide an underpinning to certain contemporary developments in historical thinking. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, in at least two cases - his discussions of the temporal precedence o f polytheism over monotheism and of the origins of civil society - we see Hume consigning to historical development certain aspects of reason which, as a comparison with Locke will show, have sometimes been held to be uniform. In the first of these cases Hume has recourse to claims about the general historical development of human thought. In the second case, (...) the origin of the civil institution of justice and government is not linked directly to external circumstances and the principles of human nature, as it is in contractarian theories, but makes a detour through the historical acquisition of certain concepts. Because Hume's position does not conform in any simple sense to Dugald Stewart's 'incontrovertible logical maxim' that the capacities of the human mind have been the same in all ages, Stewart's account of the method of conjectural history is, in any simple sense, inadequate as a description of Hume's practice. (shrink)
In this paper, I show how the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions and method converge on their treatment of the historical subject. Thinkers from both traditions claim that subjectivity is shaped by a historical worldview. Each tradition provides an account of how these worldviews are shaped, and thus how essentially historical subjective experience is molded. I argue that both traditions, although offering helpful ways of understanding the way history shapes subjectivity, go too far in their epistemic claims for the superiority (...) of subjective over positivist or academic history I propose that although the phenomenological/ hermeneutic approach to historical subjectivity is valuable for understanding both history and human nature, it cannot and ought not replace academic or what I will call ‘critical’ history. By showing the importance of historicity, and the force of historical consciousness on our actions, philosophers of history in these traditions expose the epistemic and perhaps even ethical requirement to engage in a rigorous critical history, one that recognizes the importance of historical consciousness. Such critical history is necessary to move beyond the subjective horizon of history as experienced to understand how events shaped this historical horizon. (shrink)
One of the curious things about this challenging book is that its ostensible subject— the Saxon medical and political scientist Hermann Conring (1606–1681)— is not mentioned in the title. Constantin Fasolt argues that we cannot know what Conring really thought or meant in his writings, which means that his topic cannot be Conring as such and must instead be that which occludes our knowledge of him, the titular limits of history. Given that we do in fact learn a good (...) deal about Conring from Fasolt’s book, we can only hope that the decapitation of its subject will be rectified in a subsequent edition, or perhaps by the restorative work of librarians putting together subject headings. And yet Fasolt’s decision is understandable, for Conring is indeed a stalking-horse for a much bigger quarry: historiography and the historical consciousness. By “history” Fasolt understands a way of imposing intelligibility on the world, which is founded on the twin assumptions that the past is gone and unchangeable, and that the meaning of texts can be determined by placing them in their historical contexts (ix). In challenging this mode of intelligibility, Fasolt is not attempting to improve professiona history—it’s already as good as it can be—but to displace it. He regards his work as a declaration of “independence from historical consciousness” (32). At the same time, Fasolt insists that he is not simply jumping from historiography to philosophy, or attempting to preempt history with ontology (37-39). That has been tried by Nietzsche and Heidegger, who have been tainted by Nazism (Fasolt thinks unfairly). It has also been attempted by modern philosophers from Gadamer to Foucault and Charles Taylor who, in failing to address the “violence” that its mode of intelligibility does to the world, have not succeeded in outflanking history. Perhaps, Fasolt wonders, it is only the personal experience of those who have been subject to this violence—the experience of those who have been subject to historical examination—that can break the spell of history. Fasolt’s disclaimer notwithstanding, in the course of these remarks I shall argue that he is indeed jumping from history to philosophy, or attempting to outflank history by subjecting it to a particular metaphysical understanding. I shall do so in part by sketching the recent intellectual history of this move—a historical examination that I hope inflicts as little violence as possible on Fasolt’s argument. (shrink)
In the advertising discourse of human genetic database projects, of genetic ancestry tracing companies, and in popular books on anthropological genetics, what I refer to as the anthropological gene and genome appear as documents of human history, by far surpassing the written record and oral history in scope and accuracy as archives of our past. How did macromolecules become "documents of human evolutionary history"? Historically, molecular anthropology, a term introduced by Emile Zuckerkandl in 1962 to characterize the (...) study of primate phylogeny and human evolution on the molecular level, asserted its claim to the privilege of interpretation regarding hominoid, hominid, and human phylogeny and evolution vis-à-vis other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology, physical anthropology, and paleoanthropology. This process will be discussed on the basis of three key conferences on primate classification and evolution that brought together exponents of the respective fields and that were held in approximately ten-years intervals between the early 1960s and the 1980s. I show how the anthropological gene and genome gained their status as the most fundamental, clean, and direct records of historical information, and how the prioritizing of these epistemic objects was part of a complex involving the objectivity of numbers, logic, and mathematics, the objectivity of machines and instruments, and the objectivity seen to reside in the epistemic objects themselves. (shrink)
Slogan nazi et stalinien dans les années 1930, le triomphe de la volonté, heureusement débarrassé de son hypothèque totalitaire, est devenu le programme implicite d'une époque qui, ne voulant plus rien recevoir des dieux ou de la ...
Accessible to students with no background in the subject, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will provides an extensive and up-to-date overview of all the latest views on this central problem of philosophy. Opening with a concise introduction to the history of the problem of free will--and its place in the history of philosophy--the book then turns to contemporary debates and theories about free will, determinism, and related subjects like moral responsibility, coercion, compulsion, autonomy, agency, rationality, (...) freedom, and more. Classical compatibilist and new compatibilist theories of free will are considered along with the latest incompatibilist or libertarian theories and the most recent skeptical challenges to free will. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation of free will to moral responsibility and ethics; to modern science; and to religious questions about predestination, divine foreknowledge, and human freedom. Numerous down-to-earth examples and challenging thought experiments enliven the text. The book is an ideal addition to introduction to philosophy, metaphysics, and free will courses. (shrink)
History, Philosophy and Science Teaching argues that science teaching and science teacher education can be improved if teachers know something of the history and philosophy of science and if these topics are included in the science curriculum. The history and philosophy of science have important roles in many of the theoretical issues that science educators need to address: the goals of science education; what constitutes an appropriate science curriculum for all students; how science should be taught in (...) traditional cultures; what integrated science is; how scientific literacy can be promoted; and the conflict which can occur between science curriculum and deep-seated religious or cultural values and knowledge. In part, answers to these questions hinge on views about the nature of science, views that are best informed by historical and philosophical study. Outlining the history of liberal, or contextual, approaches to the teaching of science, Michael Matthews elaborates contemporary curriculum developments that explicitly address questions about the nature and the history of science. He provides examples of classroom teaching and develops useful arguments on constructivism, multicultural science education and teacher education. The book will appeal to school and university science teachers, educators of science teachers, and historians and philosophers of science. (shrink)
Feminist work in the history of philosophy has come of age as an innovative field in the history of philosophy. This volume marks that accomplishment with original essays by leading feminist scholars who ask basic questions: What is distinctive of feminist work in the history of philosophy? Is there a method that is distinctive of feminist historical work? How can women philosophers be meaningfully included in the history of the discipline? Who counts as a philosopher? This (...) collection is a unique collaboration among philosophers from North America and the Nordic Countries, including papers written from both analytic and continental philosophical perspectives and discussing both ancient and modern philosophers. Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy will be of interest to historians of philosophy, feminist theorists, women's studies faculty and students, and humanists interested in canon formation and transformation. (shrink)
This thought-provoking classic investigates how the Renaissance spirit fundamentally questioned and undermined medieval thought. Of value to students of literature, political theory, history of religious and Reformation thought, and the history of science.
Assume for the sake of argument that doing philosophy is intrinsically valuable, where ‘doing philosophy’ refers to the practice of forging arguments for and against the truth of theses in the domains of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, etc. The practice of the history of philosophy is devoted instead to discovering arguments for and against the truth of ‘authorial’ propositions, i.e. propositions that state the belief of some historical figure about a philosophical proposition. I explore arguments to think that doing (...) class='Hi'>history of philosophy is valuable, specifically, valuable in such a way that its value does not reduce to the value of doing philosophy. Most such arguments proffered by historians of philosophy fail egregiously, as I show. I then offer a proposal about what makes doing history of philosophy uniquely valuable, but it is one that many historians will not find agreeable. (shrink)
Every day we seem to make and act upon all kinds of free choices: some trivial, others so consequential that they change the course of one's life, or even the course of history. But are these choices really free, or are we compelled to act the way we do by factors beyond our control? Is the feeling that we could have made different decisions just an illusion? And if our choices are not free, is it legitimate to hold people (...) morally responsible for their actions? Pink looks at the fundamental philosophical question of free will, Engaging in discussion of the claim: 'If our actions are causally determined by events beyond our control, that means that we can never act freely, and so can never be held responsible for our actions. (shrink)
The essays in this volume offer an approach to the history of moral and political philosophy that takes its inspiration from John Rawls. All the contributors are philosophers who have studied with Rawls and they offer this collection in his honor. The distinctive feature of this approach is to address substantive normative questions in moral and political philosophy through an analysis of the texts and theories of major figures in the history of the subject: Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, (...) Kant, and Marx. By reconstructing the core of these theories in a way that is informed by contemporary theoretical concerns, the contributors show how the history of the subject is a resource for understanding present and perennial problems in moral and political philosophy. This outstanding collection will be of particular interest to historians of moral and political philosophy, historians of ideas, and political scientists. (shrink)
Greek, Indian and Arabic Logic marks the initial appearance of the multi-volume Handbook of the History of Logic. Additional volumes will be published when ready, rather than in strict chronological order. Soon to appear are The Rise of Modern Logic: From Leibniz to Frege. Also in preparation are Logic From Russell to Gödel, The Emergence of Classical Logic, Logic and the Modalities in the Twentieth Century, and The Many-Valued and Non-Monotonic Turn in Logic. Further volumes will follow, (...) including Mediaeval and Renaissance Logic and Logic: A History of its Central. In designing the Handbook of the History of Logic, the Editors have taken the view that the history of logic holds more than an antiquarian interest, and that a knowledge of logic's rich and sophisticated development is, in various respects, relevant to the research programmes of the present day. Ancient logic is no exception. The present volume attests to the distant origins of some of modern logic's most important features, such as can be found in the claim by the authors of the chapter on Aristotle's early logic that, from its infancy, the theory of the syllogism is an example of an intuitionistic, non-monotonic, relevantly paraconsistent logic. Similarly, in addition to its comparative earliness, what is striking about the best of the Megarian and Stoic traditions is their sophistication and originality. Logic is an indispensably important pivot of the Western intellectual tradition. But, as the chapters on Indian and Arabic logic make clear, logic's parentage extends more widely than any direct line from the Greek city states. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that for centuries logic has been an unfetteredly international enterprise, whose research programmes reach to every corner of the learned world. Like its companion volumes, Greek, Indian and Arabic Logic is the result of a design that gives to its distinguished authors as much space as would be needed to produce highly authoritative chapters, rich in detail and interpretative reach. The aim of the Editors is to have placed before the relevant intellectual communities a research tool of indispensable value. Together with the other volumes, Greek, Indian and Arabic Logic, will be essential reading for everyone with a curiosity about logic's long development, especially researchers, graduate and senior undergraduate students in logic in all its forms, argumentation theory, AI and computer science, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, linguistics, forensics, philosophy and the history of philosophy, and the history of ideas. (shrink)