This new book, published in the United Kingdom under the first title above and in the United States and Canada under the second, consists in argument about what makes for right or wrong in general, and then argument about right or wrong with respect to Palestine, 9/11, the Iraq War, 7/7, and what is to come. Hence, with respect to the latter connected things, it also makes judgements as to shares of moral responsibility. Six of its 29 sections appear below. (...) The first two are 'Our Questions' and 'A Division of Labour, Philosophy's Part'. The next one is one of three in the book on judging right and wrong by democracy. The fourth is one of several in the book about understanding, judging, and inciting terrorism. The last two sections are about the Iraq War. To locate this thinking in the context of the book as a whole, which justifies Zionism but not neo-Zionism, have a look at the table of contents at the end. There is also a German translation of the first half of the book. Have a look too if you want at a review of the book by Tam Dalyell, lately M.P. for Linlithgow and Father of the House of Commons, and a review by Steve Poole, author of Unthink, and at Italian and Belgian interviews on the subject. There is also a video of a 40-minute television programme made from the book. (shrink)
(I) John Searle's conception of consciousness in the 'Mind the Gap' issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies remains short on content, no advance on either materialism or traditional dualism. Still, it is sufficiently contentful to be self-contradictory. And so his Biological Subjectivity on Two Levels, like materialism and dualism, needs replacing by a radically different conception of consciousness -- such as Consciousness as Existence. (II) From his idea that we can discover 'gaps', seeming absences of causal circumstances, in our (...) experience of deciding and acting, Searle is led to the positing of a self and to mysterious causing. (III) In fact philosophers of determinism and freedom over three centuries have concerned themselves with what are now termed 'gaps'. Searle's advance is a useful terminological one. Compatibilist philosophers of freedom, contrary to what is said, have not missed any point at all. A successor to both Compatibilism and Incompatibilism is needed. (IV) Searle's previous account of deciding and acting in Biological Subjectivity on Two Levels does indeed fail because of its epiphenomenalism. (V) The culmination of his paper, his preferred hypothesis now about deciding and acting, is that down-up causation is true of it but not left-right causation. Quantum Theory as often interpreted doesn't work down-up but does work left-right. The hypothesis is entirely in the tradition of the Incompatibilist and Libertarian philosophers of determinism and freedom, whom Searle has joined, but is factually incredible. (shrink)
Professor Mele uses the term `autonomy' where other philosophers have spoken of `freedom', `free will' and the like. His well-worked-out paper, which is individual in more than its usage, is not committed to either of the tired doctrines that determinism is inconsistent with autonomy and that it is consistent with it. He is agnostic about which choice to make. Some proponents of the first doctrine, those who believe determinism, draw the conclusion that there is no autonomy. Some proponents of the (...) second doctrine maintain also maintain that indeterminism would in fact deprive us of autonomy. Professor Mele, as he says, is confident that we are somehow autonomous. He develops two ideas of it, incompatibilist autonomy and compatibilist autonomy, but is convinced that more work is needed on all sides. His is not the kind of labour that I myself take to be needed, or anyway desirable. Is it is more respectful of the recent past of the problem than is now a good idea? Well, disrespect is sometimes a bad idea. But we agree that the problem of determinism and freedom, once announced by philosophical undertakers to be dead and buried, even undertakers not employed by either side, has outlived all its undertakers. (shrink)
The same two kinds of conditional connections in the world, each dependent on the situation, hold between each event in certain sets of events that we can call causal circumstances for the lighting. A causal circumstance cc) included the event that for some reason we pick out and call the cause -- the striking s).
This piece is reflection in preparation for lectures in the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Sussex, and Bath. It conveys the sequence and general content of an argument for a different answer to the question of what it is to be conscious. The piece is new, but not what is still to come, a completed articulation in a book. That will include second and no doubt third thoughts, not to mention more scholarship.
A former leader of the Conservative Party in this century who held the job for the extraordinary period of 21 years is quoted in these pages saying that what he most feared was not praise or blame but having his own explanations explained. He wrote a book called A Defence of Philosophic Doubt and carried his scepticism into fields where politicians are normally inclined to be most assertive.
What follows here is the first chapter, 'Change and Reform', of a book that inquires into the distinctions and rationale of the political tradition of conservatism. The book, now much enlarged and revised, was originally Conservatism, published in 1989 as a contribution to an election. Now, in particular, each chapter ends with a sizeable section on what replaced the Labour Party in Britain, the New Labour Party. For good measure, the final section of the second chapter, partly on something known (...) as The Third Way, is added to the final section of the first chapter below. To the book's progress towards finding the rationale of the tradition of conservatism, as you will anticipate, is added progress towards deciding on the nature of New Labour. An actual analysis of the ideology and reality of the tradition of conservatism is of use in deciding whether New Labour is in it, and maybe a start towards answering the question of New Labour's place in history. The other chapters, after the first one on change and reform: Theory, Other Thinking, Incentives; Human Nature, Dealing With It; Freedoms; Government; Societies; Equalities; Desert, Conclusions. The book is published by the estimable Pluto Press . -------------------------. (shrink)
Causality is the relation between cause and effect, and causation either the causing of something or the relation between cause and effect. What follows here is an account of the fundamental relation or connection between an effect, say the windshield wipers starting to work in this car, and what precedes it. What precedes it, fundamentally, is a causal circumstance or causally sufficient condition. This includes a number of conditions, one of them usually called the cause of the effect, say flipping (...) the switch. (shrink)
Professor Cohen, 'Jerry' to very many, has been Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford. He has been both a worthy successor to Isaiah Berlin in the chair and also his own man. Born into a Jewish family in Montral, Cohen was educated at McGill University and then in Oxford under Berlin and Gilbert Ryle. He taught philosophy vigorously at University College London and became known as the first proponent of analytical Marxism. His resolute book illustrative (...) of that way of thinking is Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence . Cohen has not been imprisoned by it, as his subsequent writings make clear -- Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality and If You're An Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? The article below, which appeared in Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Political Philosophy , Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures (Cambridge University Press), has also been reprinted in Stephen Law (ed.), Israel, Palestine and Terror (Continuum). (shrink)
From a bird's-eye view, the central argument of A Theory of Determinism appears as follows: (A) The mind is the brain; every mental event (including every decision and every framing of intention) is intimately related to a neural event. (B) Probably all neural events are deterministically caused, so, thanks to the intimate relation, determinism is likely to be true of our decisions and actions. (C) Does this mean that there is no free will? Incompatibilists say yes, Compatibilists say no, and (...) Ted Honderich says they are both wrong. Both schools fail to recognize that we have no single conception of free will, but rather several, and the prospect of determinism appropriately evinces different "families of attitudes" depending on which conception of freedom one is attending to or embracing. Three different responses to these conceptions are available: dismay, intransigence and affirmation. Affirmation is ultimately recommended. (shrink)
From before the time of Thomas Hobbes in the 17th Century, right up to John Searle's impertinent piece in Journal of Consciousness Studies a few months ago, and a major conference in Idaho in April, philosophers of determinism and freedom have divided into Compatibilists and Incompatibilists. The first regiment says that determinism is logically compatible with freedom. The second says it is logically incompatible. They can do this. In a way it is easy-peasy. The first regiment achieves its end by (...) defining free decisions and actions as voluntary: owed to certain causes rather than others -- causes somehow internal to the agent rather than external or constraining causes. The second regiment satisfies itself by defining free decisions and actions as not only voluntary but also originated -- where an originated event, however mysterious, is definitely not a causally necessitated one. (shrink)
When you are making up your mind, deciding what to do, you have the idea that you are free in what you are doing. It is hard to shake. You are going to do the one thing, but you can certainly do the other. That is what you think. Rational deliberators, as they can be called, have an inescapable sense of freedom. Dana Nelkin, in the following clear-headed paper, asks if this sense of freedom establishes that determinism is not true. (...) Read on for her answer. She also has things to say about another understanding of the claim that we know we are free when we are making up our minds. Whether or not you agree, you will learn things. Prof. Nelkin is at the University of California at San Diego. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to give a brief survey the implications of the theories of modern physics for the doctrine of determinism. The survey will reveal a curious feature of determinism: in some respects it is fragile, requiring a number of enabling assumptions to give it a fighting chance; but in other respects it is quite robust and very difficult to kill. The survey will also aim to show that, apart from its own intrinsic interest, determinism is an (...) excellent device for probing the foundations of classical, relativistic, and quantum physics. (shrink)
This enviable piece of philosophy has been as successful as any other in the past three decades of the determinism and freedom debate. It has given rise to a continuing controversy. At its centre is what seems to be a refutation of what seems to be the cast-iron principle that in order for someone to be morally responsible for an action, it must be possible that he or she could have done otherwise. The principle has been assumed by philosophers persuaded (...) that determinism is incompatible with freedom and also by philosophers persuaded that determinism is compatible with freedom. However, Frankfurt's article has mainly been read as lending support to the Compatibilist idea. (shrink)
This is a new discussion in the philosophy of terrorism of (1) the morality of Humanity, (2) Palestine and Israel, (3) right and wrong, liberalism, free riders, narratives, (4) definitions of terrorism, (5) objections to definitions not mentioning innocents, (6) the question of who the innocents are, (7) intentional action, (8) objections having to do with definitions, (9) inquiry, prejudice, pure inquiry, and advocacy, and (10) other innocents. The discussion was prompted by a forthcoming paper by Tamar Meisels of Tel (...) Aviv University 'Can Terrorism Ever Be Justified?', which paper and the final reply to it by Ted Honderich will appear in a book edited by Stuart Gottlieb, Debating Terrorism and Counter Terrorism (CQ Press, 2009). Tamar Meisels' book, The Trouble With Terror , has lately been published by Cambridge University Press. She also has a paper in the collection Israel, Palestine and Terror (Continuum) edited by Stephen Law and containing various replies to Honderich. Another Meisels paper to which you can turn, The Trouble With Terror: The Apologetics of Terrorism -- A Refutatio n. There is also a Honderich reply to other objections , in this case by the German philosopher Georg Meggle. (shrink)
The debate in the Oxford Union on 29 January 2010 was on the motion "This House believes that in politics, money talks loudest". Ted Honderich's speech in support of the motion was followed by those of Stuart Wheeler, known for his contribution of £5,000,000 to the Conservative Party, and of Hugo Rifkind, a columnist for The Times and The Spectator . The motion was opposed by Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, Lord Oakeshott the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, and (...) Dr. Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. In the vote at the end, the motion was carried. The debate took place the evening of the day when Tony Blair appeared to defend himself in the Chilcott inquiry into the Iraq war. (shrink)
Revisionism in the theory of moral responsibility is, roughly, the idea that some aspect of our responsibility practices, attitudes, or concept is in need of revision. In this paper, I argue that (1) in spite of being an increasingly prevalent thread in discussions of moral responsibility, revisionism is poorly understood, (2) the limited critical discussion there has been of it does not reflect the complexities and nuances of revisionist theories, and (3) at least one species of revisionismmoderate revisionism- has some (...) advantages over conventional compatibilist and incompatibilist theories. If I am right, one result is that the outcome of prominent debates about the compatibility (or not) of determinism and our commonsense thinking about moral responsibility may be less crucial than they seem. (shrink)
It is still said, maybe believed in Texas and Alaska, that in the American democracy the people are approximately equal and they are free in choosing and influencing those who govern them and deal with the rest of the world. In fact American democracy is hierarchic democracy. The American people, of course, like any other, is for general purposes rightly thought about in terms of classes somehow understood -- as Americans themselves have lately been saying. The fundamental classes surely are (...) neither equal nor free in choosing and influencing their government. They are instead a hierarchy, ranked from top to bottom. (shrink)
The doyen of living English philosophers, by these reflections, took hold of and changed the outlook of a good many other philosophers, if not quite enough. He did so, essentially, by assuming that talk of freedom and responsibility is talk not of facts or truths, in a certain sense, but of our attitudes. His more explicit concern was to look again at the question of whether determinism and freedom are consistent with one another -- by shifting attention to certain personal (...) rather than moral attitudes, first of all gratitude and resentment. In the end, he arrived at a kind of Compatibilist or, as he says, Optimist conclusion. That is no doubt a recommendation but not the largest recommendation of this splendidly rich piece of philosophy. (shrink)
The problem first of clarifying and then of answering the questions how far human thoughts and actions are subject to causality and whether this is consistent with their being free is one to which many different approaches have been made throughout the history of philosophy. I doubt if any of them has been the product of such intense research as Professor Honderich has devoted to the construction, the defence and the evaluation of his theory of determinism. Agreement among philosophers, especially (...) on fundamental questions, is difficult to reach, and I shall be arguing against Honderich's theory at many crucial points. Nevertheless, I think that his readiness to accept even the most startling implications of his views, the patience he displays in examining alternatives to them, his assiduity in setting out and trying to meet a wide range of objections, are all highly creditable to him. (shrink)
In 2003 my book After the Terror in its German translation was condemned as anti semitic by a professor of education at Frankfurt University, Micha Brumlik, also the director of an institute for the study of the Holocaust. The next day the famous German philosopher Jurgen Habermas wrote in the same liberal newspaper, The Frankfurter Rundschau , that the book was not anti semitic. However, he wrote so condescendingly as to distance himself from something charged with anti semitism -- and (...) also as to make it incomprehensible why he himself had secured its translation by the distinguished publishing house, Suhrkamp. (shrink)
The following is a criticism designed to apply to most libertarian free will theorists. I argue that most libertarians hold three beliefs that jointly show them to be unsympathetic or hard-hearted to persons whom they hold morally responsible: that persons are morally responsible only because they make libertarian choices, that we should hold persons responsible, and that we lack epistemic justification for thinking persons make such choices. Softhearted persons who held these three beliefs would espouse hard determinism, which exonerates all (...) persons of moral responsibility, or, at least, would not espouse libertarianism. I do not address the view held by some libertarians that we do have epistemic justification for thinking that persons make libertarian choices, a minority position that I believe cannot be sustained. (shrink)
These reflections on the British coalition government's policies, presented as only a response to the economic situation and in particular the rise in the national debt, also appear on the website of Britain's New Statesman and on the American website CounterPunch. At the end of the New Statesman version, there are 90 or so comments on it. Some, those at the top of the list, may be a revelation to you if you have not kept up with the phenomenon of (...) blogging. They illustrate the fact that the web is not only the greatest encyclopedia in history. (shrink)
What is it to have a moral right to get or to keep something? The answer comes from what is different -- having a legal right. To have a legal right to something is to have the support of the law of the land, positive law, good or bad, in getting or keeping the thing.
This is a reply to objections by the distinguished German philosopher Georg Meggle to Honderich's moral defence of Palestinian terrorism. It has to do with (1) the Principle of Humanity, (2) Zionism, Neo Zionism, a Palestinian moral right to terrorism within historic Palestine, (3) Just War theory and the Principle of Humanity, (4) terrorism in general defined as causing fear, (5) terrorism in general defined as the killing of innocents, (6) objections to the Palestinian moral right, (7) the case of (...) Palestine and the Principle of Humanity, (8) anti semitism, Meggle, Jurgen Habermas, and the publisher Abraham Melzer. There is also another reply to objections , in this case by Tamara Meisels, of Tel Aviv University. (shrink)
This paper by Prof. Daniel Statman, moral philosopher at the University of Haifa in Israel and author of the books Moral Dilemmas and Religion and Morality , offers a philosophical defense for such targeted killings or assassinations as those by Israel of Palestinians. The paper argues that if one accepts the moral legitimacy of the large-scale killing of combatants in conventional (what may come to be called 'old-fashioned') wars, one cannot object -- on moral grounds -- to the targeted killing (...) of terrorists in what are called wars against terror. If one rejects this legitimacy, one must object to all killing in war, targeted and non-targeted alike, and thus not support the view, which is criticized here, that targeted killings are particularly disturbing from a moral point of view. (shrink)
What is the point of asking yourself what to do and then thinking hard about it if all the thinking is settled in advance? What is the point of trying to figure out how to run your life if determinism governs your every reflection? Do we not have to suppose that determinism is false if we are to take our own deliberations seriously? The question has long been taken to bedevil the doctrine of determinism. It has been supposed that determinists (...) can have no good answer to it. Well, Professor Kapitan is one good philosopher who thinks otherwise. He takes things forward. His piece will repay your close attention. (shrink)
The fundamental question to which liberalism, conservatism and other such things give answers or should give answers, and arguments for the answers, is sometimes called the question of justice. It is the question not of what laws there are, but of what laws there ought to be, how societies ought to be. Better, it is the question of who ought to have what. An answer needs first to decide on a prior question. Of what ought who to have what shares (...) or amounts? My answers are given in this paper. The first, to the prior question, has to do with our great desires, and the wretchedness or other distress of having them unfulfilled. Other answers have to do with bad answers to the main question, and then the right one. Morality has a majesty. Despite ourselves, and yet to ourselves, it stands over the rest of our existence, in particular over our self-interest in its various forms. To my mind it is the Principle of Humanity above all that has that majesty. There is a little more about it in another another piece What Equality Comes to -- The Principle of Humanity and in effect in what comes before it, What Equality is Not . There is rather more, of a different kind, in a later book Humanity, Terrorism and Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7... .published in the U.S. under the title Right and Wrong, and Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7.. . (shrink)
John Stuart Mill famously argued in his essay On Liberty that every opinion should be allowed free expression. The opinion, whose nature cannot now be known for certain, may be true. Or it may be false. Or it may be true in part and false in part. If it is true, there is reason for its being heard. If it is false, there is also reason for hearing it -- its being heard and examined will result in a fuller understanding (...) and greater effect of the contrary true opinion. If it is partly true and partly false, there are both reasons for its being heard. (shrink)
Since the rise of the theory of determinism, philosophers have argued and declared that we are diminished by it. Bishop Bramhall against Thomas Hobbes in the 17th Century, Kant against Hume in the 18th, F. H. Bradley against John Stuart Mill in the 19th, Robert Kane and Robert Nozick against such as me in the 20th Century. There must be something in this relentless tradition. It cannot, it seems to me, be the falsehood of determinism. Is it, so to speak, (...) a larger fact than either determinism or free will? Is it consciousness? The new paper below, a draft to be thought more about for the 2nd edition of Kane's summative Oxford Handbook of Free Will, comes to that conclusion by way of a look at the principal parts of the problem of determinism, one being what is called probabilistic causation. (shrink)
Recent events in the Middle East once again focused attention on the Israel/Palestine issue. In the following article, adapted from his recent book, Ted Honderich controversially defends the Palestinians' moral right to engage in terrorism.
Democracy has been justified as the political system whose citizens are sovereign, which is to say most free or most equal in their political experience, participation or consent, and most likely to be benefited by economic freedoms. Most importantly, democracy is recommended as that form of government which gets things more right than any other form of government. But this traditional view, and also more recent qualifications of this view, is simply inadequate, refuted and rendered nonsensical by very real electoral, (...) wealth, income and power inequalities in democratic societies. Nevertheless, it is this kind of hierarchic democracy, like those of the United States and the United Kingdom, whose systems of government are exactly not true to the idea that two heads are better than one and more heads better than two, which reaches to judgements about Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7 and about all that is to come after those things. (shrink)
How do our thoughts, feelings, choices and actions come about? In what follows here, the two kinds of traditional and still orthodox explanations are considered. The fundamental proposition of a defined and developed theory of determinism is laid out and compared with various ideas of free will or origination. This is Ch. 3 of Ted Honderich's large work A Theory of Determinism: The Mind, Neuroscience and Life-Hopes -- which is also Ch. 3 of the paperback Mind and Brain . In (...) a nutshell, the determinist line of thought is that events of consciousness go together with brain events to make up psychoneural pairs, which pairs are effects of certain causal sequences. This is different from supposed explanations of mental events considered earlier, including the common view that there is something called interaction between mind and brain. The determinist line of thought is fundamentally different from those explanations of our existence considered after it -- indeterminism, free will, origination. The determinist explanation derives from and depends on a preceding partial account of the relation of mind and brain, Mind Brain Connection. Also an earlier account of causal and lawlike connection in general, Causality or Causation, the Fundamental Fact Plainly Explained. For details of the books and other writings referred to, go to References. The sections of the inquiry below are as follows. (shrink)
The connection between a mind and a brain is fundamental to the Philosophy of Mind, partly because it is often taken to include the the problem of the nature of a mind -- or, more particularly, the nature of consciousness. What follows here is an inquiry into this connection. It surveys the traditional and still orthodox answers. It is Ch. 2 of Ted Honderich's large work A Theory of Determinism: The Mind, Neuroscience and Life- Hopes -- which chapter is also (...) Ch. 2 of the paperback Mind and Brain. (shrink)
If you want a philosophically diligent exposition of a theory, something that has got through review by conventional peers, go elsewhere (Honderich, 2004). If you want an understanding made more immediate by brevity and informality, read on. The theory is a Radical Externalism about the nature of consciousness. If it is not a complete departure from the cranialism of most of the philosophy and science of consciousness, it is a fundamental departure.
_What Thomas Hobbes has to say of the nature of causation itself in_ _Entire Causes_ _and Their Only Possible Effects_ _is carried further in the first of the two excerpts here_ _-- although not at its start. His second subject in this imperfectly sequential piece of_ _writing is determinism itself -- a deterministic philosophy of mind. In the mind, as_ _elsewhere, each event has a 'necessary cause' -- a cause that necessitates the event._ _His third subject in the first excerpt (...) is freedom, this being voluntariness, and its_ _relation to the determinism. He gives a statement of what is now known as_ _Compatibilism -- roughly the doctrine that determinism and freedom properly_ _understood do not conflict with but are consistent with one another. We can be_ _entirely subject to determinism or 'necessity' and also be perfectly free. Certainly a_ _distinction between freedom as 'the absence of opposition', which can co-exist with_ _determinism, and some other kind of freedom, had been made before Hobbes. But it_ _will take a better historian than me to say if he was anticipated by someone else who_ _said that the particular freedom consistent with determinism is all that we can_ _properly mean by the term 'freedom'. Certainly he got in ahead of lovely_. (shrink)
This is a draft of a paper for a book Philosophy of Action: 5 Questions edited by Jesus Aguilar and Andrei Buckareff and to be published by Automatic Press / VIP. The book contains accounts by various philosophers, including leading theorists, of their engagement with problems of action and agency, and in particular determinism and freedom. The contributors also offer thoughts as to what attracted them to the subject, what their conclusions have been, what the benefit of the subject can (...) be to other subjects, what has been neglected in it, where work and inquiry should now be concentrated, and the prospects for progress. (shrink)
Benjamin Libet and also Libet and collaborators claim to advance a single hypothesis, with important consequences, about the time of a conscious experience in relation to the time when there occurs a certain physical condition in the brain. This condition is spoken of as
_adequacy_ for the experience, or, as we can as well say, _neural adequacy_ .5 This finding has been taken to throw doubt on theories that take neural and mental events to be in necessary (...) or lawlike connection, and also certain identity theories of mind and brain, as well as determinist theories. (shrink)
Offering clear and reliable guidance to the ideas of philosophers from antiquity to the present day and to the major philosophical systems around the globe, he Oxford Companion to Philosophy is the definitive philosophical reference work for readers at all levels. For ten years the original volume has served as a stimulating introduction for general readers and as an indispensable guide for students and scholars. A distinguished international assembly of 249 philosophers contributed almost 2,000 entries, and many of these have (...) now been considerably revised and updated in this major new edition; to these are added over 300 brand-new pieces on a fascinating range of current topics such as animal consciousness, cloning, corporate responsibility, the family, globalization, terrorism . Here is, indeed, a world of thought, with entries on idealism and empiricism, epicureanism and stoicism, passion and emotion, deism and pantheism. The contributors represent a veritable who's who of modern philosophy, including such eminent figures as Isaiah Berlin, Sissela Bok, Ronald Dworkin, John Searle, Michael Walzer, and W. V. Quine. We meet the great thinkers--from Aristotle and Plato, to Augustine and Aquinas, to Descartes and Kant, to Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, right up to contemporary thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida, Luce Iragaray, and Noam Chomsky. There are short entries on key concepts such as personal identity and the mind-body problem, major doctrines from utilitarianism to Marxism, schools of thought such as the Heidelberg School or the Vienna Circle, and contentious public issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and welfare. In addition, the book offers short explanations of philosophical terms (qualia, supervenience, iff), puzzles (the Achilles paradox, the prisoner's dilemma), and curiosities (the philosopher's stone, slime). Almost every entry is accompanied by suggestions for further reading, and the book includes both a chronological chart of the history of philosophy and a gallery of portraits of eighty eminent philosophers. An indispensable guide and a constant source of stimulation and enlightenment, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy will appeal to everyone interested in abstract thought, the eternal questions, and the foundations of human understanding. (shrink)
A determinism of decisions and actions, despite our experience of deciding and acting and also an interpretation of Quantum Theory, is a reasonable assumption. The doctrines of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism are both false, and demonstrably so. Whole structures of culture and social life refute them, and establish the alternative of Attitudinism. The real problem of determinism has seemed to be that of accomodating ourselves to the frustration of certain attitudes, at bottom certain desires. This project of Affirmation can run up (...) against a conviction owed to reflecting on your own past life. The conviction is that an attitude akin to one tied to indeterminism, a way of holding yourself morally responsible, has some basis despite the truth of determinism. We need to look for radical ideas here, as radical as Consciousness as Existence with the problem of perceptual consciousness. Could that doctrine help with determinism and freedom? Could a problem about causation and explanation do so? (shrink)
Consider three answers to the question of what it actually is for you to be aware of the room you are in. (1) It is for the room in a way to exist. (2) It is for there to be only physical activity in your head, however additionally described. (3) It is for there to be non-spatial facts somehow in your head. The first theory, unlike the other two, satisfies five criteria for an adequate account of consciousness itself. The criteria (...) have to do with the seeming nature of this consciousness, and with subjectivity, reality including non-abstractness, mind-body causation, and the differences between perceptual, reflective and affective consciousness. The theory of consciousness as existence is not open to the objection having to do with a deluded brain in a vat. The theory, as any theory of consciousness needs to, explains its own degree of failure in characterizing consciousness. It releases neuroscience and cognitive science from nervousness about consciousness, and leaves all of consciousness a subject for science. The theory is a reconstruction of our conception of consciousness. It may be that we should carry forward several theories of consciousness. But they will have to be compared in terms of truth to the five criteria for an adequate theory. (shrink)