Synthese 156 (3) (2007). Special issue ed. with Luc Bovens. With contributions by Max Albert, Branden Fitelson, Dennis Dieks, Igor Douven and Wouter Meijs, Alan Hájek, Colin Howson, James Joyce, and Patrick Suppes.
The galvanising purpose of Federation was the creation of the Commonwealth and the distribution of power between it and the former colonies, simultaneously elevated to Statehood. But beyond this simple fact, consensus about Australian federalism has traditionally been elusive and is, if anything, only increasingly so. While the contemporary political debate over federal reform proceeds from a shared sense that our existing arrangements have manifest shortcomings, there is far from unanimity as to which of its particular features are strengths, and (...) which are deficiencies. The structure of this paper is as follows. In Part II, the range of understandings as to the character of the federal relationship between Australian governments is canvassed. Consideration is given to the views of the Constitution’s Framers and commentators, but most centrally to members of the High Court since these have brought about great change in federal arrangements. The significance of the Court’s marked preference for adhering only to constitutional structure and its inability or unwillingness to develop ‘a federal jurisprudence’ is examined in two respects. First, the effect of the Court’s arid Engineers’ Case methodology has been to reject any suggestion that fidelity to a concept of ‘federal balance’ is consistent with both the contents and purpose of the Constitution and also the principles of divided government. Particular consideration is given to the limitations of a commitment to federalism in only a structural sense, as revealed by the judicial reasons of the majority and dissenting judges in the recent case of New South Wales v Commonwealth. Second, the tension between competing assumptions of the kind of federal system established by the Commonwealth Constitution has produced an unstable and uncertain environment for the development of cooperative schemes between the Commonwealth and States. In Part III we consider how an attempt to ‘constitutionalise’ the relationship between the tiers of government as one underpinned by cooperation and respect would impact on the Court’s approach. Drawing on foreign constitutions, and adapting these in light of Australia’s politico-legal conditions and history, we suggest how a commitment to cooperative federalism might best be shaped for possible inclusion in the Commonwealth Constitution. (shrink)
The sober amateur who takes the time to follow recent philosophical discussion will hardly resist the impression that much of it, in its dread of superstition and dogmatic reaction, has been oriented purposely toward skepticism: that a conclusion is admired in proportion as it is skeptical; that a jejune argument for skepticism will be admitted where a scrupulous defense of knowledge is derided or ignored; that an affirmative theory is a mere annoyance to be stamped down as quickly as possible (...) to a normal level of denial and defeat. It is an age which most admires the man who, as somebody has said, 'has a difficulty for every solution'. Whether or not this judgment is fair, however, it is safe to say, with Whitehead, that 'the theory of induction is the despair of philosophy - and yet all our activities are based upon it'. [A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York, 1925, p. 35] So prodigious a theoretical contretemps cannot remain a tempest in the professors' teapot. The news that no foundation is discoverable for the procedures of empirical intelligence, and still more the proclaimed discovery that there is no foundation, and still more the complacency which recommends that we reconcile ourselves to the lack, condemn the problem as a 'pseudoproblem', and proceed by irrational faith or pragmatic postulate, will slowly shatter civilized life and thought, to a degree which will make the modernist's loss of confidence in Christian supernaturalism, so often cited as the ultimate in spiritual cataclysms, seem a minor vicissitude. The demand that rational man adjust himself to a somewhat bleaker universe than he once hoped for is only one large and picturesque instance of the sort of re-orientation which inductive intelligence, in its very nature,continually imposes, and well within the proved capacities of human reason and good-will.. (shrink)
Two major themes in the literature on indicative conditionals are (1) that the content of indicative conditionals typically depends on what is known;1 (2) that conditionals are intimately related to conditional probabilities.2 In possible world semantics for counterfactual conditionals, a standard assumption is that conditionals whose antecedents are metaphysically impossible are vacuously true.3 This aspect has recently been brought to the fore, and defended by Tim Williamson, who uses it in to characterize alethic necessity by exploiting such equivalences as: A⇔¬A (...) A. One might wish to postulate an analogous connection for indicative conditionals, with indicatives whose antecedents are (in some relevant sense) epistemically impossible being vacuously true: and indeed, the modal account of indicative conditionals of Brian Weatherson has exactly this feature.4 This allows one to characterize an epistemic modal by the equivalence A⇔¬A→A. For simplicity, in what follows we write A as KA and think of it as expressing that subject S knows that A.5 The connection to probability has received much attention. Stalnaker (1970) suggested, as a way of articulating the ‘Ramsey Test’, the following very general schema for indicative conditionals relative to some probability function P: P(A→B) = P(B|A) 1For example, Nolan (2003); Weatherson (2001); Gillies (2007). 2For example Stalnaker (1970); McGee (1989); Adams (1975). 3Lewis (1973). See Nolan (1997) for criticism. 4‘epistemically possible’ here means incompatible with what is known (where ‘what is known’ is to be cashed out in some relevant sense). 5This idea was suggested to me in conversation by John Hawthorne. I do not know of it being explored in print. The plausibility of this characterization will depend on the exact sense of ‘epistemically possible’ in play—if it is compatibility with what a single subject knows, then can be read ‘the relevant subject knows that p’. If it is more delicately formulated, we might be able to read as the epistemic modal ‘must’.. (shrink)
This paper outlines Lewis’s favoured foundational account of linguistic representation, and outlines and briefly evaluates variations and modifications. Section 1 gives an opinionated exegesis of Lewis’ work on the foundations of reference—his interpretationism. I look at the way that the metaphysical distinction between natural and non-natural properties came to play a central role in his thinking about language. Lewis’s own deployment of this notion has implausible commitments, so in section 2 I consider variations and alternatives. Section 3 briefly considers a (...) buck-passing strategy involving fine-grained linguistic conventions. (shrink)
Addressing such questions is a central challenge in explicating the cognitive role of indeterminacy. But there is little consensus in the literature about even such mundane questions as: what attitude to p is appropriate, when one knows that p is indeterminate'? This paper explores two answers, both built on a 'supervaluational' treatment of indeterminacy. The first is drawn out from David Lewis's discussion of Parfit on what matters in survival, and is a view where the indeterminacy of the identity relation (...) between Alpha and Omega scales the concern Alpha should feel. The second is developed on the model of imprecise credence treatments of indeterminacy, and generates some interesting and suprisingly successful predictions about the forced march sorites. (shrink)
Some things are left open by a work of fiction. What colour were the hero’s eyes? How many hairs are on her head? Did the hero get shot in the final scene, or did the jailor complete his journey to redemption and shoot into the air? Are the ghosts that appear real, or a delusion? Where fictions are open or incomplete in this way, we can ask what attitudes it’s appropriate (or permissible) to take to the propositions in question, in (...) engaging with the fiction. In Mimesis as Make-Believe (henceforth, MMB), Walton argues that just as truth norms belief, truth-in-fiction norms imagination. Granting that what is true-in-the-fiction should be imagined, and what is false-in-the-fiction is not to be imagined, there remains the question of what to say within the Waltonian framework about things that are neither true- nor false-in-the-fiction---the loci of incompleteness. (shrink)
What is social entrepreneurship? In, particular, what’s so social about it? Understanding what social entrepreneurship is enables researchers to study the phenomenon and policy-makers to design measures to encourage it. However, such an understanding is lacking partly because there is no universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship as yet. In this paper, we suggest a definition of social entrepreneurship that intuitively accords with what is generally accepted as entrepreneurship and that captures the way in which entrepreneurship may be altruistic. Based on (...) this we provide a taxonomy of social entrepreneurship and identify a number of real cases from Asia illustrating the different forms it could take. (shrink)
In this case (5) yields the result that A and D are I-related, but neither is I-related to B or C – the original person has two beginnings of existence. To get round this we need to add to (5)’s right-hand side the condition that there is no pair of distinct, simultaneously occurring person-stages u and v such that u is R-related to x and y and v is R-related to x and no pair of distinct, simultaneously occurring personstages u (...) and v such that u is R-related to x and y and v is R-related to y. In fact this condition can replace (iic) on the RHS of (5). (shrink)
Neither novel should be read as predictions, the accuracy of which can be used to judge them. Rather, both attempt to portray what humanity could conceivably become. The authenticity of this conceivability is a necessary condition of the power of both works to raise central philosophical questions about the human condition. What is ethically wrong with control? How far can Man go in recreating himself? In what sense are these worlds anti-utopian? Are they really possible worlds? How credible are they (...) as political systems? In what ways do the different systems depict the end of humanity? What logical and moral objections could be made against their fictional apologists? (shrink)
Placebo-trials on HIV-infected pregnant women in developing countries like Thailand and Uganda have provoked recent controversy. Such experiments aim to find a treatment that will cut the rate of vertical transmission more efficiently than existing treatments like zidovudine. This scenario is first stated as generally as possible, before three ethical principles found in the Belmont Report, itself a sharpening of the Helsinki Declaration, are stated. These three principles are the Principle of Utility, the Principle of Autonomy and the Principle of (...) Justice. These are taken as voices of moral imperative. But although each has intuitive appeal, it can be shown that there are possible scenarios in which they give conflicting prescriptions. To achieve consistency, one must be subordinate to the others. The voice of utility is taken as subordinate to those of justice and autonomy and it is shown that given plausible assumptions about the level of poverty and education in the developing country targeted, the experiment is ruled morally wrong in the name of both justice and autonomy. Moreover, it is argued that no justification can be found for the inclusion of a placebo group, when strictly defined. By contrast, a ‘no- treatment’ control arm might be justified, but only when the demands of autonomy are satisfied, demands that are more stringent than they might appear. A utilitarian defence of the experiment is examined, namely that the would-be participants are in a no-loss situation, and it is shown that this defence is seriously flawed. Finally, it is concluded that there is no justification for amending the Declaration of Helsinki. (shrink)
In this journal, Hamid Vahid argues against three families of explanation of Mooreparadoxicality. The ﬁrst is the Wittgensteinian approach; I assert that p just in case I assert that I believe that p. So making a Moore-paradoxical assertion involves contradictory assertions. The second is the epistemic approach, one committed to: if I am justiﬁed in believing that p then I am justiﬁed in believing that I believe that p. So it is impossible to have a justiﬁed omissive Mooreparadoxical belief. The (...) third is the conscious belief approach, being committed to: if I consciously believe that p then I believe that I believe that p. So if I have a conscious omissive Moore-paradoxical belief, then I have contradictory second-order beliefs. In their place, Vahid argues for the defective- interpretation approach, broadly that charity requires us to discount the utterer of a Mooreparadoxical sentence as a speaker. I agree that the Wittgensteinian approach is unsatisfactory. But so is the defective-interpretation approach. However, there is a satisfactory version of each of the epistemic and conscious-belief approaches. (shrink)
Conc 2: Charitable reconstructions are available. Conc 3: But these lead to worrying results. (POM) Conc 4: Further weakening prevents it from playing the “survival is intrinsic” role in fission arguments.
such light matter as you fancy, or the work of light or chance persons; and Cratylus is right in thinking that things have names by nature, and that not every man is an artificer of names, but he only who looks to the name which each thing by nature.
I explore the thesis that the future is open, in the sense that future contingents are neither true nor false. The paper is divided into three sections. In the first, I survey how the thesis arises on a variety of contemporary views on the metaphysics of time. In the second, I explore the consequences for rational belief of the ‘Aristotelian’ view that indeterminacy is characterized by truth-value gaps. In the third, I outline one line of defence for the Aristotelian against (...) the puzzles this induces: treating opinion about future contingents as a matter of fictional belief rather than simple belief. (shrink)
In some sense, survival seems to be an intrinsic matter. Whether or not you survive some event seems to depend on what goes on with you yourself —what happens in the environment shouldn’t make a difference. Likewise, being a person at a time seems intrinsic.
In this quite modestly ambitious essay, I'll generally just assume that, for the most part, our "scientifically informed" commonsense view of the world is true. Just as it is with such unthinking things as planets, plates and, I suppose, plants, too, so it also is with all earthly thinking beings, from people to pigs and pigeons; each occupies a region of space, however large or small, in which all are spatially related to each other. Or, at least, so it is (...) with the bodies of these beings. And, even as each of these ordinary entities extends through some space, so, also, each endures through some time. In line with that, each ordinary entity is at least very largely, and is perhaps entirely, an enduring physical entity (which allows that many might have certain properties that aren't purely physical properties.) Further, each ordinary enduring entity is a physically complex entity: Not only is each composed of parts, but many of these parts, whether or not absolutely all of them, are themselves enduring physical entities, and many of them also are such physically complex continuing entities. When an ordinary entity undergoes a significant change, then, at least generally, this change will involve changes concerning that entity's constituting physical parts, whether it be a rearrangement of (some of) these parts, or a loss of parts, or a gain of parts, or whatever. Often, the entity will still exist even after the change occurs. As we may well suppose, this happens when, from two strokes of an ax, an ordinary log loses just a chip of wood. As we may then say, such a change conforms with the log's "persistence conditions." Somewhat less often, such an ordinary entity undergoes a change that means an end to it: When a bomb's explosion makes our log become just so many widely scattered motes of dust, the log will no longer exist. Such a momentous change doesn't conform with the log's persistence conditions. (shrink)
These range from merely good reads to really outstanding books; but rather than trying to rate each one, or (what would be more to the point) explain my ratings, I've merely listed them without any particular indication of rank. Horror novels are included here for want of anyplace better to put them. Titles are added as they occur to me.
I regarded my Lord Christ as a man of surpassing wisdom whom no one else could equal. . . . I did recognize in Christ a complete human being -- not merely a human body, or a soul with a body but no mind -- but I thought that this human being was to be preferred to others, not as the Person of Truth, but because of some great excellence of his human nature and his more complete participation in wisdom. (...) . . . I must admit that it was only some time later that I learned how Catholic truth is distinguished from Photinian falsity: the Word was made.. (shrink)
When I was first invited to present a paper at the conference out of which this volume grew, I knew immediately what I wanted to talk about. Anselm, who had been my constant companion for the previous three years or so, has a peculiar fascination with the art of painting. It is a favorite source of analogies for him, some of them illuminating but others noticeably strained. His most famous use of painting as an analogy, in the widely anthologized and (...) overstudied passage that contains his so-called ontological argument, is so grossly misleading and inept for Anselm’s purposes that one can account for its presence only by assuming that Anselm 1 just had to get something about painting in there somehow. Being a philosopher, and therefore ill-equipped to deal with anything concrete, I had not said anything in print about this strange preoccupation. But then the conference came along, and with it a mandate to talk about sacred objects. And that mandate offered me this chance to chew over Anselm’s painting fetish a bit and figure out why these objects – these in particular – are his favorite metaphors, put to service for a variety of theological and philosophical purposes. (shrink)
(This is a slightly fuller version of the paper than appeared in Anglican Theological Review.) So Moses having giving us an intimation of God, and the three Persons altogether in that Bara Elohim, before, gives us first notice of this Person, the Holy Ghost, in particular, because he applies to us the Mercies of the Father, and the Merits of the Son, and moves upon the face of the waters, and actuates, and fecundates our soules, and generates that knowledge, and (...) that comfort, which we have in the knowledge of God. – John Donne, Sermon preached at St Paul’s upon Whitsunday, 1629 Introduction: The place of the Holy Spirit in Anselm’s work.. (shrink)
John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) was one of the most important and influential philosophertheologians of the High Middle Ages. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. This essay first lays out what is known about Scotus's life and the dating of his works. It then offers an overview (...) of some of his key positions in four main areas of philosophy: natural theology, metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, and ethics and moral psychology. (shrink)
Â‘First. That on October 23, in the city of New York, your relator was arrested by divers persons claiming to be acting by authority of the government of the United States, and was by said persons conveyed to the United States immigration station at Ellis island, in the harbor of New York, and is now there imprisoned by the commissioner of immigration of the port of New York.
Abstnn Eye movements were monitored while subjects performed parallel and serial sarah tasks. In Experiment la, subjects searched for an “O' among "X"s (parallel condition) and for a 'T" among "L"s (serial condition). In the parallel condition of Eqcriment lb, “q)" was the target and “O"s were distractors; in the serial condition, time..
Some things, argues Lewis, are just better candidates to be referents than others. Even at the cost of attributing false beliefs, we interpret people as referring to the most interesting kinds in their vicinity. How should this be accounted for? In section 1, I look at Lewis’s interpretationism, and the reference magnetism it builds in (not just for ‘perfectly natural’ properties, but for certain kinds of auxiliary apparatus). In section 2, I draw on (Field, 1975) to argue that what properties (...) are reference magnetic may be an ultimately conventional matter—though in the Lewisian setting, there may be an objectively best conventional choice to make. But Lewis’s own account has implausible commitments, so in section 3 I consider variations and alternatives, all of which have problems. In section 4, I look in more detail at eligibility-based interpretationism that do not appeal to naturalness, arguing that there are credible metasemantic theories of this form. (shrink)
Taking away grains from a heap of rice, at what point is there no longer a heap? It seems small changes – removing a single grain – can’t make a difference to whether or not something is a heap; but big changes obviously do. How can this be, since big changes are nothing but small changes chained together?
I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious ‘Ramsey Test’. Even in a weak form, this makes counterfactuals subject to the very argument that Lewis used to persuade the majority of the philosophical community that indicative conditionals were in hot water. I outline two reactions: to indicativize the debate on counterfactuals; or to counterfactualize the debate on indicatives.
Chancy counterfactuals are a headache. Dylan Dodd (2009) presents an interesting argument against a certain general strategy for accounting for them, instances of which are found in the appendices to Lewis (1979) and in Williams (2008). I will argue (i) that Dodd’s understates the counterintuitiveness of the conclusions he can reach; (ii) that the counterintuitiveness can be thought of as an instance of more general oddities arising when we treat vagueness and indeterminacy in a classical setting; and (iii) the underlying (...) source of discontent which animates Dodd’s complains is to be found in a certain general constraint one might impose on conditionals—what I’ll call the counterfactual Ramsey bound. Unfortunately, the counterfactual Ramsey bound is just as problematic as its famous indicative cousin. The moral is that there’s no comfortable resting place in this area; for violations of the counterfactual Ramsey bound are going to lead to prima facie surprising results. (shrink)
Bryne & H´ajek (1997) argue that Lewis’s (1988; 1996) objections to identifying desire with belief do not go through if our notion of desire is ‘causalized’ (characterized by causal, rather than evidential, decision theory). I argue that versions of the argument go through on certain assumptions about the formulation of decision theory. There is one version of causal decision theory where the original arguments cannot be formulated—the ‘imaging’ formulation that Joyce (1999) advocates. But I argue this formulation is independently objectionable. (...) If we want to maintain the desire as belief thesis, there’s no shortcut through causalization. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In Williams (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries of the (...) core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination defines a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
There are advantages to thrift over honest toil. If we can make do without numbers we avoid challenging questions over the metaphysics and epistemology of such entities; and we have a good idea, I think, of what a nominalistic metaphysics should look like. But minimizing ontology brings its own problems; for it seems to lead to error theory— saying that large swathes of common-sense and best science are false. Should recherche philosophical arguments really convince us to give all this up? (...) Such Moorean considerations are explicitly part of the motivation for the recent resurgence of structured metaphysics, which allow a minimal (perhaps nominalistic) fundamental ontology, while avoiding error-theory by adopting a permissive stance towards ontology that can be argued to be grounded in the fundamental. This paper evaluates the Moorean arguments, identifying key epistemological assumptions. On the assumption that Moorean arguments can be used to rule out error-theory, I examine deflationary ‘representationalist’ rivals to the structured metaphysics reaction. Quinean paraphrase, fictionalist claims about syntax and semantics are considered and criticized. In the final section, a ‘direct’ deflationary strategy is outlined and the theoretical obligations that it faces are articulated. The position advocated may have us talking a lot like a friend of structured metaphysics—but with a very different conception of what we’re up to. (shrink)
Revising semantics and logic has consequences for the theory of mind. Standard formal treatments of rational belief and desire make classical assumptions. If we are to challenge the presuppositions, we indicate what is kind of theory is going to take their place. Consider probability theory interpreted as an account of ideal partial belief. But if some propositions are neither true nor false, or are half true, or whatever—then it’s far from clear that our degrees of belief in it and its (...) negation should sum to 1, as classical probability theory requires (?, cf.). There are extant proposals in the literature for generalizing (categorical) probability theory to a non-classical setting, and we will use these below. But subjective probabilities themselves stand in functional relations to other mental states, and we need to trace the knock-on consequences of revisionism for this interrelationship (arguably, degrees of belief only count as kinds of belief in virtue of standing in these functional relationships). (shrink)
When should we believe a indicative conditional, and how much confidence in it should we have? Here’s one proposal: one supposes actual the antecedent; and sees under that supposition what credence attaches to the consequent. Thus we suppose that Oswald did not shot Kennedy; and note that under this assumption, Kennedy was assassinated by someone other than Oswald. Thus we are highly confident in the indicative: if Oswald did not kill Kennedy, someone else did.
One tradition of solving the surprise exam paradox, started by Robert Binkley and continued by Doris Olin, Roy Sorensen and Jelle Gerbrandy, construes surpriseepistemically and relies upon the oddity of propositions akin to G. E. Moore’s paradoxical ‘p and I don’t believe that p.’ Here I argue for an analysis that evolves from Olin’s. My analysis is different from hers or indeed any of those in the tradition because it explicitly recognizes that there are two distinct reductios at work in (...) the student’s paradoxical argument against the teacher. The weak reductio is easy to fault. Its invalidity determines the structure of the strong reductio, so-calledbecause it is more difficult to refute, but ultimately unsound because of reasons associated with Moore-paradoxicality. Previous commentators have not always appreciated this difference, with the result that the strong reductio is not addressed, or the response to the weak reductio is superfl uous. This is one reason why other analyses in the tradition are vulnerable to objections to which mine is not. (shrink)
Why care about being logical? Why criticize people for inconsistency? Must we simply take the normative significance of logic as brute, or can we explain it in terms of goals on which we have an independent grip: the merits of true (or knowledgeable) belief, for example? This paper explores Jim Joyce’s argument for probabilism in this light---arguing that it provides a plausible route for explaining the value of consistency.
– Common to most realist accounts of powers is the claim that they are intrinsic properties. Most arguments presented in defence of the intrinsicality thesis have as their targets reductive treatments of powers that conceive of powers as relations between the object described as possessing the power and either some previous manifestation event or the laws of nature. However, even if these arguments are successful, they fail to establish that powers are intrinsic properties; at best they demonstrate the irreducibility of (...) powers. In order to take the further step to intrinsicality, these arguments need to be supplemented by an argument to the effect that powers are not relations that hold between pairs or sets of objects. This paper aims to supply that missing argument. (shrink)
– The conjunction of three plausible theses about the nature of causal powers (that they are intrinsic, that their effects are produced mutually, and that their effects are necessary) leads to a problem concerning the ability of causal powers to work together. After presenting the problem and the three theses in question, I argue that despite giving rise to the problem, none of the three theses is such that it should be abandoned. Instead, I argue that an account of causal (...) powers best avoids the problem by bringing in some additional metaphysical machinery which can be appended to the account. Some suggestions are made concerning what that appended machinery ought to be. (shrink)
The thought that diseases form natural kinds tends not to sit well with the essentialist treatment of natural kinds. The essentialist’s candidates for the essences of diseases—etiological properties—rarely satisfy the essentialist’s requirement that they be necessary and sufficient for membership within the kind. Consequently philosophers of medicine have tended to back away from treating diseases as natural kinds. However, this retreat was too hasty: there are good reasons for thinking that diseases form natural kinds. The problem lies with the essentialist (...) treatment of natural kinds, and not with treating disease as forming natural kinds. A similar revolution has taken place within the species debate, where the notion of natural kind has been ‘taken back’ from the essentialist. Borrowing the revised treatment of natural kinds from the philosophers of species and modifying it slightly, I offer a proposed treatment of disease kinds in terms of homeostatic property clusters. (shrink)
John Heil’s From an Ontological Point of View (Heil 2003) is a tremendous philosophical work. The neo-Lockean ontology the reader finds within its 267 pages is a sensible and refreshing alternative to the neo-Humean ontologies which presently occupy the vast majority of the metaphysical literature. What Heil offers is a much needed change in perspective. Nor are the strengths of the book limited to Heil’s willingness to approach central metaphysical problems in largely untried and unpopular way; the book is very (...) clear in its presentation, accessible to wide readership, and tightly argued throughout. Heil’s efforts in this book are to be applauded, and the result is one that warrants serious consideration by all those interested in serious metaphysics. But the interest should not end there: the lessons of Heil’s book are ones that almost all philosophers ought to take seriously. Despite the criticism that follows, my overall position should not be taken as anything short of a whole-hearted endorsement of Heil’s book. Nonetheless, when philosophy is one’s trade, there is always going to be something to disagree about, however much one is amenable to a view. (shrink)
This article attempts to clarify some of the central questions and distinctions that provide the necessary backdrop for thinking in a sophisticated way about security in Africa. Drawing on the developing Critical Security Studies literature it suggests that an understanding of security based on people, justice and change offers the surest route to a stable future. It then sketches preliminary answers to some fundamental questions, namely: whose security should be prioritized? How have security dynamics in Africa been influenced by the (...) wider processes driving world politics? What clusters of threats are the most salient? Where do such threats have the most pernicious effects? Which actors are best placed to alleviate those threats? And what sort of institutions should be built to assist in that process? The role of outsiders concerned with promoting security on the continent should be to try to ensure that as many Africans as possible are able to voice their opinions on these crucial issues. (shrink)
If one believes that vagueness is an exclusively representational phenomenon, one faces the problem of the many. In the vicinity of Kilimanjaro, there are many many ‘mountain candidates’ all, apparently, with more-or-less equal claim to be mountains. David Lewis has defended a radical claim: that all the billions of mountain candidates are mountains. This paper argues that the supervaluationist about vagueness should adopt Lewis’ proposal, on pain of losing their best explanation of the seductiveness of the sorites.
Most views of personal identity allow that sometimes, facts of personal identity can be borderline or indeterminate. Bernard Williams argued that regarding questions of one’s own survival as borderline “had no comprehensible representation” in one’s emotions and expectations. Whether this is the case, I will argue, depends crucially on what account of indeterminacy is presupposed.
’m not really sure what they were after when they asked me to talk to you about Augustine and the Platonists. Maybe they wanted me to talk about some specific Platonists, and the elements of Augustine’s views that he adopts or adapts. And no doubt I should at least mention a couple of names. There’s Plato himself, of course (428-348 BC). The thing is, it’s pretty clear that Augustine had never read Plato directly, whether in Greek (which Augustine couldn’t actually (...) handle very well) or in Latin translation. The best he could do was to read what other people said about what Scotus said. Then there were two followers of Plato whose work Augustine did read in Latin translation: Plotinus (204-270) and his student Porphyry (233-305). He probably read them in the translation of Marius Victorinus, who is discussed in Book 8 of the Confessions. There’s a lot of debate, though, about exactly what he read and exactly how it influenced him. I have a somewhat non-standard view about this. I call it the “Who cares what Augustine read?” view. My view is that even though Augustine read Plotinus and Porphyry rather than Plato, his version of Platonism is actually much closer to Plato himself than it is to Plotinus and Porphyry. So knowing the details of Plotinus and Porphyry doesn’t really matter much for understanding Augustine, because Augustine’s kind of Platonism doesn’t really depend on those details. In spirit, it’s much closer to the real Plato, because it adopts the overall outlook of Plato without a lot of the additions and complications of later Platonists. And that’s why I’m going to start with a story. I’m going to use this story to get across what I think is the essence of this Platonic outlook. Then I’ll show you how various Platonists put the insights that this story encapsulates to work in three different aspects of philosophy. After I’ve laid all that out, I’ll talk about how Augustine transforms this Platonic picture in the light of his Christian faith.. (shrink)