In a recent issue of Utilitas Gerald Lang provided an appealing new solution to the WrongKind of Reason problem for the buck-passing account of value. In subsequent issues Jonas Olson and John Brunero have provided objections to Lang's solution. I argue that Brunero's objection is not a problem for Lang's solution, and that a revised version of Lang's solution avoids Olson's objections. I conclude that we can solve the WrongKind of Reason problem, and that (...) the wrongkind of reasons for pro-attitudes are reasons that would not still be reasons for pro-attitudes if it were not for the additional consequences of having those pro-attitudes. (shrink)
Mark Schroeder has recently offered a solution to the problem of distinguishing between the so-called "right" and "wrong" kinds of reasons for attitudes like belief and admiration. Schroeder tries out two different strategies for making his solution work: the alethic strategy and the background-facts strategy. In this paper I argue that neither of Schroeder's two strategies will do the trick. We are still left with the problem of distinguishing the right from the wrong kinds of reasons.
The ‘buck-passing’ account equates the value of an object with the existence of reasons to favour it. As we argued in an earlier paper, this analysis faces the ‘wrongkind of reasons’ problem: there may be reasons for pro-attitudes towards worthless objects, in particular if it is the pro-attitudes, rather than their objects, that are valuable. Jonas Olson has recently suggested how to resolve this difficulty: a reason to favour an object is of the right (...)kind only if its formulation does not involve any reference to the attitudes for which it provides a reason. We argue that despite its merits, Olson's solution is unsatisfactory. We go on to suggest that the buck-passing account might be acceptable even if the problem in question turns out to be insoluble. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against the stronger of the two views concerning the right and wrongkind of reasons for belief, i.e. the view that the only genuine normative reasons for belief are evidential. The project in this paper is primarily negative, but with an ultimately positive aim. That aim is to leave room for the possibility that there are genuine pragmatic reasons for belief. Work is required to make room for this view, because (...) evidentialism of a strict variety remains the default view in much of the debate concerning normative reasons for belief. Strict versions of evidentialism are inconsistent with the view that there are genuine pragmatic reasons for belief. (shrink)
According to T.M. Scanlon's buck-passing account of value, to be valuable is not to possess intrinsic value as a simple and unanalysable property, but rather to have other properties that provide reasons to take up an attitude in favour of their owner or against it. The 'wrongkind of reasons' objection to this view is that we may have reasons to respond for or against something without this having any bearing on its value. The challenge (...) is to explain why such reasons are of the wrongkind. This is what I set out to do, after illustrating the objection more thoroughly. (shrink)
Here I defend my solution to the wrong-kind-of-reason problem against Mark Schroeder’s criticisms. In doing so, I highlight an important difference between other accounts of reasons and my own. While others understand reasons as considerations that count in favor of attitudes, I understand reasons as considerations that bear (or are taken to bear) on questions. Thus, to relate reasons to attitudes, on my account, we must consider the relation between attitudes and questions. By considering (...) that relation, we not only solve the wrong-kind-of-reason problem, but we also bring into view rational agency—the use of reasons in thought. (shrink)
A good number of people currently thinking and writing about reasons identify a reason as a consideration that counts in favor of an action or attitude.1 I will argue that using this as our fundamental account of what a reason is generates a fairly deep and recalcitrant ambiguity; this account fails to distinguish between two quite different sets of considerations that count in favor of certain attitudes, only one of which are the “proper” or “appropriate” kind of reason (...) for them. This ambiguity has been the topic of recent discussion, under the head “the wrongkind of reasons problem.”2 I will suggest that confusion about “the wrongkind of reason” will be dispelled by changing our account of what a reason is. While I agree both that reasons are considerations and that certain.. (shrink)
The paper presents and discusses the so-called WrongKind of Reasons Problem (WKR problem) that arises for the fitting-attitudes analysis of value. This format of analysis is exemplified for example by Scanlon's buck-passing account, on which an object's value consists in the existence of reasons to favour the object- to respond to it in a positive way. The WKR problem can be put as follows: It appears that in some situations we might well have reasons (...) to have pro-attitudes toward objects that are not valuable. Or vice versa: we might have reasons not to have pro-attitudes toward some valuable objects. The paper goes through several attempts to solve (or dissolve) the WKR problem and argues that none of them is fully satisfactory. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that the buck-passing analysis (BPA) of final value is not a plausible analysis of value and should be abandoned. While considering the influential wrongkind of reason problem and other more recent technical objections, this paper contends that there are broader reasons for giving up on buck-passing. It is argued that the BPA, even if it can respond to the various technical objections, is not an attractive analysis of final value. It (...) is not attractive for two reasons: the first being that the BPA lacks the features typical of successful conceptual analyses and the second being that it is unable to deliver on the advantages that its proponents claim for it. While not offering a knock-down technical refutation of the BPA, this paper aims to show that there is little reason to think that the BPA is correct, and that it should therefore be given up as an analysis of final value. (shrink)
The ‘WrongKind of Reason’ problem for buck-passing theories (theories which hold that the normative is explanatorily or conceptually prior to the evaluative) is to explain why the existence of pragmatic or strategic reasons for some response to an object does not suffice to ground evaluative claims about that object. The only workable reply seems to be to deny that there are reasons of the ‘wrongkind’ for responses, and to argue that these are (...) really reasons for wanting, trying, or intending to have that response. In support of this, it is pointed out that awareness of pragmatic or strategic considerations, unlike awareness of reasons of the ‘right kind’, are never sufficient by themselves to produce the responses for which they are reasons. I argue that this phenomenon cannot be used as a criterion for distinguishing reasons-for-a-response from reasons-for-wanting-to-have-a-response. I subsequently investigate the possibility of basing this distinction on a claim that the responses in question (e.g. admiration or desire) are themselves inherently normative; I conclude that this approach is also unsuccessful. Hence, the ‘direct response’ phenomenon cannot be used to rule out the possibility of pragmatic or strategic reasons for responses; and the rejection of such reasons therefore cannot be used to circumvent the WrongKind of Reason Problem. (shrink)
According to fitting-attitudes accounts of value, the valuable is what there is sufficient reason to value. Such accounts face the famous wrongkind of reason problem. For example, if an evil demon threatens to kill you unless you value him, it may appear that you have sufficient reason to value the demon, although he is not valuable. One solution to this problem is to deny that the demon’s threat is a reason to value him. It is instead a (...) reason to want to value the demon, and to bring it about that you value him. However, many proponents of the wrongkind of reason problem find this solution unmotivated. This paper thus offers a new argument for this solution. The argument turns on the ‘transmission’ of reasons – the familiar fact that there is often reason for one action or attitude because there is reason for another. I observe that putative reasons of the wrongkind transmit in a very different way to other reasons. I then argue that this difference is best explained by the hypothesis that putative reasons of the wrongkind are not reasons for the attitude in question, but are instead reasons to want and bring about that attitude. (shrink)
The so-called WrongKind of Reason (WKR) problem for Scanlon's account of value has been much discussed recently. In a recent issue of Utilitas Gerald Lang provides a highly useful critique of extant proposed solutions to the WKR problem and suggests a novel solution of his own. In this note I offer a critique of Lang's solution and respond to some criticisms Lang directs at a Brentano-style approach suggested by Sven Danielsson and me.
In a recent article in Utilitas, Gerald Lang suggests a solution to the so-called (WKR problem) for the buck-passing account of value. In two separate replies to Lang, Jonas Olson and John Brunero, respectively, point out serious problems with Lang's suggestion, and at least Olson concludes that the solution Lang opts for is of the wrongkind for solving the WKR problem. I argue that while both Olson and Brunero have indeed identified considerable flaws in Lang's suggestion for (...) a solution to the WKR problem, they have not provided sufficient grounds for dismissing the kind of solution that Lang proposes. I show how a version of this kind of solution can be formulated so as to avoid both Olson's and Brunero's objections. I also raise some worries concerning an alternative solution to the WKR problem suggested by Sven Danielsson and Jonas Olson. (shrink)
Fitting Attitudes accounts of value analogize or equate being good with being desirable, on the premise that ‘desirable’ means not, ‘able to be desired’, as Mill has been accused of mistakenly assuming, but ‘ought to be desired’, or something similar. The appeal of this idea is visible in the critical reaction to Mill, which generally goes along with his equation of ‘good’ with ‘desirable’ and only balks at the second step, and it crosses broad boundaries in terms of philosophers’ other (...) commitments. For example, Fitting Attitudes accounts play a central role both in T.M. Scanlon’s  case against teleology, and in Michael Smith , [unpublished] and Doug Portmore’s  cases for it. And of course they have a long and distinguished history. (shrink)
Recent discussion of Scanlon's account of value, which analyses the value of X in terms of agents' reasons for having certain pro-attitudes or contra-attitudes towards X, has generated the problem (WKR problem): this is the problem, for the buck-passing view, of being able to acknowledge that there may be good reasons for attributing final value to X that have nothing to do with the final value that X actually possesses. I briefly review some of the existing solutions offered (...) to the WKR problem, including those by Philip Stratton-Lake and Jonas Olson, and offer a new, better one, which accommodates all the relevant cases presented in the literature. (shrink)
This paper presents the results of training an artificial neural network (ANN) to classify moral situations. The ANN produces a similarity space in the process of solving its classification problem. The state space is subjected to analysis that suggests that holistic approaches to interpreting its functioning are problematic. The idea of a contributory or pro tanto standard, as discussed in debates between moral particularists and generalists, is used to understand the structure of the similarity space generated by the ANN. A (...) spectrum of possibilities for reasons, from atomistic to holistic, is discussed. Reasons are understood as increasing in nonlocality as they move away from atomism. It is argued that contributory standards could be used to understand forms of nonlocality that need not go all the way to holism. It is also argued that contributory standards may help us to understand the kind of similarity at work in analogical reasoning and argument in ethics. Some objections to using state space approaches to similarity are dealt with, as are objections to using empirical and computational work in philosophy. (shrink)
According to ‘Fitting Attitude’ (FA) analyses of value, for an object to be valuable is for that object to have properties—other than its being valuable—that make it a fitting object of certain responses. In short, if an object is positively valuable it is fitting to favour it; if an object is negatively valuable it is fitting to disfavour it. There are several variants of FA analyses. Some hold that for an object to be valuable is for it to be such (...) that it ought to be favoured; others hold that value is analyzable in terms of reasons or requirements to favour. All these variants of the FA analysis are subject to a partiality challenge : there are circumstances in which some agents have reasons to favour or disfavour some object—due to the personal relations in which they stand to the object—without this having any bearing on the value of the object. A. C. Ewing was one of the first philosophers to draw attention to the partiality challenge for FA analyses. In this paper I explain the challenge and consider Ewing's responses, one of which is preferable to the other, but none of which is entirely satisfactory. I go on to develop an alternative Brentano-inspired response that Ewing could have offered and that may well be preferable to the responses Ewing actually did offer. (shrink)
While other philosophers have pointed out that Libet’s experiment is compatible with compatibilist free will and also with some kinds of libertarian free will, this article ar- gues that it is even compatible with strong libertarian free will, i.e. a person’s ability to initiate causal processes. It is widely believed that Libet’s experiment has shown that all our actions have preceding unconscious causes. This article argues that Libet’s claim that the actions he invest- igated are voluntary is false. They are (...) urges, and there- fore the experiment shows at most that our urges have preceding unconscious causes, which is what also strong libertarianism leads us to expect. Further, Libet’s correct observation that we can veto urges undermines his claim that our actions are initiated unconsciously and supports the thesis that we have strong libertarian free will. (shrink)
Roger Crisp has inspired two important criticisms of Scanlon's buck-passing account of value. I defend buck-passing from the wrongkind of reasons criticism, and the reasons and the good objection. I support Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen's dual role of reasons in refuting the wrongkind of reasons criticism, even where its authors claim it fails. Crisp's reasons and the good objection contends that the property of goodness is buck-passing in virtue of its (...) formality. I argue that Crisp conflates general and formal properties, and that Scanlon is ambiguous about whether the formal property of a reason can stop the buck. Drawing from Wallace, I respond to Crisp's reasons and the good objection by developing an augmented buck-passing account of reasons and value, where the buck is passed consistently from the formal properties of both to the substantive properties of considerations and evaluative attitudes. I end by describing two unresolved problems for buck-passers. (shrink)
I argue for the following four theses: (1) The Dread Thesis: human beings should fear having false religious beliefs concerning some religious doctrines; (2) The Radical Uncertainty Thesis: we, namely most human beings in our culture at our time, are in a situation where we have to commit ourselves on the truth or falsity of some propositions of ultimate importance; (3) The Radical Choice Thesis: considerations of expected loss or gain do not always provide guidance as to how to commit (...) ourselves on matters of religious doctrine that are both radically uncertain and of ultimate importance; (4) The Scandal Thesis: radical choice on matters of ultimate importance is neither good nor inevitable, but due to the collective failure of philosophers of religion. Then I consider some inadequate responses: playing the faith card; contra-Pascalian decision theory; spiritual chauvinism; that faith presupposes uncertainty; the older pachyderm; irony, subjectivity, relativism and non-cognitivism; tainted truth; and muddling through. Finally I submit that the way forward is quite simply to become better philosophers. (shrink)
Subjects appear to take only evidential considerations to provide reason or justification for believing. That is to say that subjects do not take practical considerations—the kind of considerations which might speak in favour of or justify an action or decision—to speak in favour of or justify believing. This is puzzling; after all, practical considerations often seem far more important than matters of truth and falsity. In this paper, I suggest that one cannot explain this, as many have tried, merely (...) by appeal to the idea that belief aims only at the truth. I appeal instead to the idea that the aim of belief is to provide only practical reasons which might form the basis on which to act and to make decisions, an aim which is in turn dictated by the aim of action. This, I argue, explains why subjects take only evidential considerations to favour of or justify believing. Surprisingly, then, it turns out that it is practical reason itself which demands that there be no practical reasons for belief. (shrink)
Philosophers have come to distinguish between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of reasons for belief, intention, and other attitudes. Several theories about the nature of this distinction have been offered, by far the most prevalent of which is the idea that it is, at bottom, the distinction between what are known as ‘object-given’ and ‘state-given’ reasons. This paper argues that the object-given/state-given theory vastly overgeneralizes on a small set of data points, and in particular that any adequate account (...) of the distinction between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of reason must allow state-given reasons to be of the right kind. The paper has three main goals, corresponding to its three main parts. In part 1 I set up the problem by introducing the right-kind/wrong-kind distinction, the object-given/state-given distinction, and the object-given/state-given theory, according to which the former distinction simply amounts to the latter. Part 2 presents the main argument of the paper: I argue against the object-given/state-given theory by showing that all of the earmarks of the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kinds of reason apply to reasons not to intend and not to believe, but that these cases can’t be captured by the object-given/state-given theory. Finally, in part 3 I use these arguments to motivate and explore a more general hypothesis about the rightkind/wrong-kind distinction, and explore some of the consequences of rejecting the object-given/stategiven theory. (shrink)
Stephen Finlay analyses ‘ought’ in terms of probability. According to him, normative ‘ought's are statements about the likelihood that an act will realize some (contextually supplied) end. I raise a problem for this theory. It concerns the relation between ‘ought’ and the balance of reasons. ‘A ought to Φ’ seems to entail that the balance of reasons favours that A Φ-es, and vice versa. Given Finlay's semantics for ‘ought’, it also makes sense to think of reasons and (...) their weight in terms of probability. In this paper, I develop such a theory of weight. It turns out, however, that it cannot explain the entailments. This leaves Finlay with a challenge: to explain these entailments in some other way consistent with his theory, or to show why the appearances deceive and there are no such entailments. (shrink)
Argumentation involves offering and/or exchanging reasons – either reasons for adopting various attitudes towards specific propositional contents or else reasons for acting in various ways. This paper develops the idea that the force of reasons is through and through a normative force because what good reasons accomplish is precisely to give one a certain sort of entitlement to do what they are reasons for. The paper attempts to shed light on what it is to (...) have a reason, how the sort of entitlement arising from reasons differs from other species of entitlement and how the norms by which such entitlement is assessed obtain their status as norms. (shrink)
Is the wrongness of an action a reason not to perform it? Of course it is, you may answer. That an action is wrong both explains and justifies not doing it. Yet, there are doubts. Thinking that wrongness is a reason is confused, so an argument by Jonathan Dancy. There can’t be such a reason if ‘ϕ-ing is wrong’ is verdictive, and an all things considered judgment about what (not) to do in a certain situation. Such judgments are (...) based on all the relevant reasons for and against ϕ-ing. If that ϕ-ing is wrong, while being an all things considered verdict, would itself be a reason, it would upset the balance of reasons: it would be a further reason which has not yet been considered in reaching the verdict. Hence, the judgment wasn’t ‘all things considered' after all. I show that the argument against wrongness being a reason is unsuccessful, because its main assumption is false. Is main assumption is that a consideration which necessarily does not affect the balance of reasons is not a reason. I also argue that there can be no deontic buck-passing account. (shrink)
Is the thought that having a reason for action can also be the cause of the action for which it is the reason coherent? This is an attempt to say exactly what is involved in such a thought, with special reference to the case of con-reasons, reasons that count against the action the agent eventually choses.
This paper defends my claim in earlier work that certain non-causal conditions are sufficient for the truth of some reasons explanations of actions, against the critique of this claim given by Randolph Clarke in his book, Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.
One of the most important disputes in the foundations of ethics concerns the source of practical reasons. On the desire-based view, only one’s desires provide one with reasons to act. On the value-based view, reasons are instead provided by the objective evaluative facts, and never by our desires. Similarly, there are desire-based and non-desired-based theories about two other issues: pleasure and welfare. It has been argued, and is natural to think, that holding a desire-based theory about either (...) pleasure or welfare commits one to recognizing that desires do provide reasons for action – i.e., commits one to abandoning the value-based theory of reasons. The purpose of this paper is to show that this is not so. All of the following can be true: pleasure and welfare provide reasons; pleasure and welfare are to be understood in terms of desire; desires never provide reasons, in the relevant way. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that perception is a source of reasons (SR). There is a weak sense in which this claim is trivially true: even if one characterizes perception in purely causal terms, perceptual beliefs originate from the mind's interaction with the world. When philosophers argue for (SR), however, they have a stronger view in mind: they claim that perception provides pre- or non-doxastic reasons for belief. In this article I examine some ways of developing this view and (...) criticize them. I exploit these results to formulate a series of constraints that a satisfactory account of the epistemic role of perception should fulfil. I also make a positive suggestion: coherentists are right when they claim that only beliefs can be reasons for other beliefs. Nevertheless, I depart from traditional coherentism, for I do not buy its conception of perception as bare sensation, nor explicate the justificatory status of beliefs in terms of coherence. My point is rather that, when one invokes experience to justify a belief, the justifying state must have structural features of beliefs. (shrink)
What ought to be the aims of science? How can science best serve humanity? What would an ideal science be like, a science that is sensitively and humanely responsive to the needs, problems and aspirations of people? How ought the institutional enterprise of science to be related to the rest of society? What ought to be the relationship between science and art, thought and feeling, reason and desire, mind and heart? Should the social sciences model themselves on the natural sciences: (...) or ought they to take a different form if they are to serve the interests of humanity objectively, sensitively and rigorously? Might it be possible to get into human life, into art, education, politics, industry, international affairs, and other domains of human activity, the same kind of progressive success that is found so strikingly, on the intellectual level, within science? These are some of the questions tackled by What’s Wrong With Science? But the book is no abstruse treatise on the philosophy of science. Most of it takes the form of a passionate debate between a Scientist and a Philosopher, a debate that is by turns humorous, ironical, bitter, dramatically explosive. Even as the argument explores the relationship between thought and feeling, reason and desire, the two main protagonists find it necessary to examine their own feelings and motivations. The book is a delight to read and can be understood by anyone. The book should have a wide appeal. It will be of interest to any scientist concerned about the intellectual and moral integrity of modern science – whether working in a physical, biological or social science. It will be of interest to educationalists, science teachers, students, 6th form pupils, historians, sociologists and philosophers of science, and indeed to anyone concerned about the place and role of science and technology in the modern world. First published in 1976, the book is even more relevant today than it was 33 years ago. This second edition has a new introduction in which the author explains how the book both exploits and develops Karl Popper’s philosophy. (shrink)
Understanding human beings and their distinctive rational and volitional capacities is one of the central tasks of philosophy. The task requires a clear account of such things as reasons, desires, emotions and motives, and of how they combine to produce and explain human behaviour. In Kinds of Reasons, Maria Alvarez offers a fresh and incisive treatment of these issues, focusing in particular on reasons as they feature in contexts of agency. Her account builds on some important recent (...) work in the area; but she takes her main inspiration from the tradition that receives its seminal contemporary expression in the writings of G.E.M. Anscombe, a tradition that runs counter to the broadly Humean orthodoxy that has dominated the theory of action for the past forty years. Alvarez's conclusions are therefore likely to be controversial; and her bold and painstaking arguments will be found provocative by participants on every side of the debates with which she engages. Clear and directly written, Kinds of Reasons aims to stake out a distinctive position within one of the most hotly contested areas of contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Can we give a uniform account of reasons in the three spheres of action, belief, and sentiment? Are reasons in these three spheres genuinely distinct, or are they in some way reducible to less than three? What kind of knowledge do we have of reasons – and what is it that we know? Some basic problems in philosophy depend on our answers to these questions.
Reasons can play a variety of roles in a variety of contexts. For instance, reasons can motivate and guide us in our actions (and omissions), in the sense that we often act in the light of reasons. And reasons can be grounds for beliefs, desires and emotions and can be used to evaluate, and sometimes to justify, all these. In addition, reasons are used in explanations: both in explanations of human actions, beliefs, desires, emotions, etc., (...) and in explanations of a wide range of phenomena involving all sorts of animate and inanimate substances. This diversity has encouraged the thought that the term 'reason' is ambiguous or has different senses in different contexts. Moreover, this view often goes hand in hand with the claim that reasons of these different kinds belong to different ontological categories: to facts (or something similar) in the case of normative/justifying reasons, and to mental states in the case of motivating/explanatory reasons. In this paper I shall explore some of the main roles that reasons play and, on that basis, I shall offer a classification of kinds of reasons. As will become clear, my classification of reasons is at odds with much of the literature in several respects: first, because of my views about how we should understand the claim that reasons are classified into different kinds; second, because of the kinds into which I think reasons should be classified; and, finally, because of the consequences I think this view has for the ontology of reasons. (shrink)
I reject three theories of practical reason according to which a rational agent's ultimate reasons for acting must be unchanging: that one is rationally obliged in each choice (1) to be prudent--to advance all the desires one foresees ever having (the self-interest theory), rather than just those one has at the time of choice, or (2) to cause states of affairs that are good by some timeless, impersonal measure (Thomas Nagel), or (3) to obey permanent, universalizable deontic principles (Kant). (...) Whether a rational agent's reasons consist in her desires, in the goodness of certain states, or in deontic principles, her reasons now can ask her to take different, conflicting things as reasons later; and contradiction results of rationally obliging her not to take the new things for reasons. (shrink)
In this article, I will defend the so-called buck-passing theory of value. According to this theory, claims about the value of an object refer to the reason-providing properties of the object. The concept of value can thus be analyzed in terms of reasons and the properties of objects that provide them for us. Reasons in this context are considerations that count in favour of certain attitudes. There are four other possibilities of how the connection between reasons and (...) value might be formulated. For example, we can claim that value is a property that provides us with reasons to choose an option that has this property. I argue that none of these four other options can ultimately be defended, and therefore the buck-passing account is the one we ought to accept as the correct one. The case for the buck-passing account becomes even stronger, when we examine the weak points of the most pressing criticism against this account thus far. (shrink)
Epistemology of testimony’s map has been charted by identifying the basic controversy between reductionism and non-reductions. John McDowell’s article “Knowledge by Hearsay” (1993/1998) has been taken as a clear example of non-reductionism. This is, however, only partially right. It is correct that, as a non-reductionist, he defends the justifying role that the default position plays in testimonial knowledge. But, his insistence on situating the default position inside the space of reasons suggests that default position should be understood as a (...)kind of reasoning, and that only then evidential reasons can be applied in concrete justifying procedures. This is a very different understanding of the default position from that of classical non-reductionists such as Coady (1992) and Burge (1993, 1997). If McDowell’s epistemology of testimony can be understood in this way, as this paper aims to establish, it should be considered as an attempt tosupersede the reductionist and non-reductionist dichotomy, an attempt that brings a series of reconsiderations of a satisfactory epistemology of testimony. (shrink)
The paper has two aims. The first is to propose a general framework for organizing some central questions about normative practical reasons in a way that separates importantly distinct issues that are often run together. Setting out this framework provides a snapshot of the leading types of view about practical reasons as well as a deeper understanding of what are widely regarded to be some of their most serious difficulties. The second is to use the proposed framework to (...) uncover and diagnose what I believe is a structural problem that plagues the debate about practical reasons. A common move in the debate involves a proponent of one type of view offering what she and others proposing that type consider to be a devastating criticism of an opposing type of view, only to find that her criticism is shrugged off by her opponents as easy to answer, misguided, or having little significance for their view. This isn’t due to conceptual blindness or mere slavish devotion to a theory but something fundamental about the argumentative structure of a debate over genuinely shared issues. Hence, the debate about practical reasons suffers from argumentative gridlock. The proposed framework helps us to see why this is so, and what we might do to move beyond it. (shrink)
This paper suggests a kind of naturalism that, while based in the natural sciences, can address questions of value and meaning, including the compatibility of religion and naturalism. Certainly any of its details may be wrong, and other theories may be more deeply or more comprehensively true. Nevertheless I think it is likely approximately true, and its direction should be capable of incorporation into successor theories (should any successors be interested). It is built to respond to three problems. (...) First, its approach to general metaphysics avoids a number of criticisms of the genre, problems with conceiving the Whole, views from nowhere, and other methodological issues philosophers worry about. Second, its .. (shrink)
This book offers a causal-explanatory account of knowledge as true belief caused by the worldly state of affairs that explains its existence. It also defends a contextual account of epistemic reasons, arguing that both foundationalism and coherentism cannot provide a satisfactory account of such reasons. Skeptical arguments are answered against a historical background from Plato to the present day.
Alvin Plantinga declared in 1983 that Classical Foundationalism had collapsed. He was convinced that he had found an utterly damaging argument against CF: CF is self-referentially incoherent. Already Alston (1985) and Quinn (1985 and 1993) and recently DePoe (2007) have denied that Plantinga’s argument is successful. There are three objections against his argument:i) He has to show that there is no argument for CF; ii) there may be an inductive argument for CF; iii) there are other good arguments for CF, (...) presented e.g. by Richard Fumerton. In this paper I will argue that i) is wrong and that Quinn’s inductive argument (ii) fails. Plantinga has shown that the “old” type of CF is self-refuting. Plantinga’s argument is not successful if aimed against a contemporary Fumerton-style CF because this type of CF differs in at least one relevant aspect from the kind of CF Plantinga was struggling with. (shrink)
What ought to be the aims of science? How can science best serve humanity? What would an ideal science be like, a science that is sensitively and humanely responsive to the needs, problems and aspirations of people? How ought the institutional enterprise of science to be related to the rest of society? What ought to be the relationship between science and art, thought and feeling, reason and desire, mind and heart? Should the social sciences model themselves on the natural sciences: (...) or ought they to take a different form if they are to serve the interests of humanity objectively, sensitively and rigorously? Might it be possible to get into human life, into art, education, politics, industry, international affairs, and other domains of human activity, the same kind of progressive success that is found so strikingly, on the intellectual level, within science? These are some of the questions tackled by What’s Wrong With Science? But the book is no abstruse treatise on the philosophy of science. Most of it takes the form of a passionate debate between a Scientist and a Philosopher, a debate that is by turns humorous, ironical, bitter, dramatically explosive. Even as the argument explores the relationship between thought and feeling, reason and desire, the two main protagonists find it necessary to examine their own feelings and motivations. (shrink)
An incidental extension of the central domain of argumentation theory with non-classical ways of constructing arguments seems to automatically raise a question that is otherwise rarely posed, namely whether or not it is useful to consider the sex of the arguer. This question is usually posed with regard to argumentation by women in particular. Do women rely more, or differently than men do on non-canonical modes of reasoning stemming from the realm of the emotional, physical and intuitive, instead of the (...) logical? One may simply refer this question to folk-linguistics. One may also take the question seriously, given the findings on women's linguistic behaviour, and for various other reasons that will be explained below.Section 1 sums up the most frequently quoted differences in language use between women and men. This is followed by a non-exhaustive, interdisciplinary review of studies on male/female differences in verbal and written argumentation.Section 2 discusses the role of language and texts in generating and maintaining ideas on gender. These gender messages not only influence the actual argumentation behaviour of women and men, but also the way such behaviour is valued.Section 3 subsequently shows that our ideas on rationality are gendered, and therefore also our ideas on the proper central domain of argumentation theory.Section 4 briefly reflects on why this kind of wrong question about the reasoning of women should sometimes be addressed seriously anyway. (shrink)