This volume of original essays addresses a range of issues concerning the responsibility individuals have for their actions and for their characters. Among the central questions considered are: what scope is there for regarding a person as responsible for his character given genetic and environmental factors; does an account of responsiblity provide a legitimate basis for the retributive emotions; are we ever justified in feeling guilty for occurrences over which we have no control; does responsibility for the consequences of our (...) acts require that they were intended or simply expected; and how have a number of influential previous philosophers, including Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza, approached these questions? (shrink)
Beneath metaphysical problems there often lies a conflict between what we want to be true and what we believe to be true. Nathan provides a general account of the resolution of this conflict as a philosophical objective, showing that there are ways of thinking it through systematically with a view to resolving or alleviating it. The author also studies in detail a set of interrelated conflicts about the freedom and the reality of the will. He shows how difficult it is (...) to find a freedom either of decision or of action which is both an object of reflective desire and an object of rational belief. He also examines conflicts about volition as such, contending that the veridicality of volitional experience is no less easy to doubt than the veridicality of our experience of colors. In this context, arguments emerge for a voluntarist theory of the self. Nathan's important book will be essential reading for all philosophers interested in free will, volition, the self, and the methodology of metaphysics. (shrink)
Why does agency--the capacity to make choices and to act in the world--matter to us? Why is it meaningful that our intentions have effects in the world, that they reflect our sense of identity, that they embody what we value? What kinds of motivations are available for political agency and judgment in an age that lacks the enthusiasm associated with the great emancipatory movements for civil rights and gender equality? What are the conditions for the possibility of being an effective (...) agent when the meaning of democracy has become less transparent? David Kyuman Kim addresses these crucial questions by uncovering the political, moral, philosophical, and religious dimensions of human agency. Kim treats agency as a form of religious experience that reflects implicit and explicit notions of the good. Of particular concern are the moral, political, and religious motivations that underpin an understanding of agency as meaningful action. Through a critical engagement with the work of theorists such as Judith Butler, Charles Taylor, and Stanley Cavell, Kim argues that late modern and postmodern agency is found most effectively at work in what he calls "projects of regenerating agency" or critical and strategic responses to loss. Agency as melancholic freedom begins and endures, Kim maintains, through the moral and psychic losses associated with a broad range of experiences, including the moral identities shaped by secularized modernity and the multifold forms of alienation experienced by those who suffer the indignities of racial, gender, class, and sexuality discrimination and oppression. Kim calls for renewing the sense of urgency in our political and moral engagements by seeing agency as a vocation, where the aspiration for self-transformation and the human need for hope are fundamental concerns. (shrink)
In this book, Hodgson presents a clear and compelling case against today's orthodox mechanistic view of the brain-mind, and in favor of the view that "the mind matters." In the course of the argument he ranges over such topics as consciousness, informal reasoning, computers, evolution, and quantum indeterminancy and non-locality. Although written from a philosophical viewpoint, the book has important implications for the sciences concerned with the brain-mind problem. At the same time, it is largely non-technical, and thus accessible to (...) the non-specialist reader. (shrink)
This book argues that the traditional emphasis on the accuracy of a given theory of human agency has systematically obscured the normative dimension in these theories and that recognizing this normative dimension allows us to see that a ...
This book is concerned with the role of economic philosophy ("ideas") in the processes of belief-formation and social change. Its aim is to further our understanding of the behavior of the individual economic agent by bringing to light and examining the function of non-rational dispositions and motivations ("passions") in the determination of the agent's beliefs and goals. Drawing on the work of David Hume and Adam Smith, the book spells out the particular ways in which the passions come to affect (...) our ordinary understanding and conduct in practical affairs and the intergenerational and interpersonal transmission of ideas through language. Concern with these problems, it is argued, lies at the heart of an important tradition in the British moral philosophy. This emphasis on the non-rational nature of our belief-fixation mechanisms has important implications: it helps to clarify and qualify the misleading claims often made by utilitarian, Marxist, Keynesian, and neo-liberal economic philosophers, all of whom stress the overriding power of ideas to shape conduct, policy, and institutions. (shrink)
This book explores the way in which the fear of enemies shapes political groups at their founding and helps to preserve them by consolidating them in times of crisis. It develops a theory of “negative association” that examines the dynamics captured by the maxim “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and then traces its role in the history of political thought, demonstrating that the fear of external threats is an essential element of the formation and preservation of political (...) groups and that its absence renders political association unsustainable. (shrink)
This book, the third in a series on the life course, has significance in today's world of research, professional practice, and public policy because it symbolizes the gradual reemergence of power in the social sciences. Focusing on "self-directedness and efficacy" over the life course, this text addresses the following issues: * the causes of change * how changes affect the individual, the family system, social groups, and society at large * how various disciplines--anthropology, sociology, psychology, epidemiology--approach this field of study, (...) with consideration given to common themes and differences Finally, an effort is made to develop a multidisciplinary perspective unique to the study of self-directedness and efficacy. (shrink)
This interpretive introduction provides unique insight into Plato's Republic. Stressing Plato's desire to stimulate philosophical thinking in his readers, Julia Annas here demonstrates the coherence of his main moral argument on the nature of justice, and expounds related concepts of education, human motivation, knowledge and understanding. In a clear systematic fashion, this book shows that modern moral philosophy still has much to learn from Plato's attempt to move the focus from questions of what acts the just person ought to perform (...) to the more profound questions of what sort of person the just person ought to be. (shrink)
In this important new book Nagel, one of the most distinguished philosophers writing in English today, presents a sustained defence of reason against the attacks of subjectivism. He offers systematic rebuttals of relativistic claims with respect to language, logic, science, and ethics.
People act for reasons. That is how we understand ourselves. But what is it to act for a reason? This is what Fred Schueler investigates. He rejects the dominant view that the beliefs and desires that constitute our reasons for acting simply cause us to act as we do, and argues instead for a view centred on practical deliberation--our ability to evaluate the reasons we accept. Schueler's account of 'reasons explanations' emphasizes the relation between reasons and purposes, and the fact (...) that the reasons for an action are not always good reasons. (shrink)
This book advocates a radical shift of concern in philosophical, historical, and sociological studies of the sciences, and explores the consequences of such a shift. The historically-oriented first part of the work deals with the ways in which ranges of questions become real and cease to be real for communities of inquirers. The more philosophically-oriented second part of the work introduces the notion of absolute reality of questions, and addresses doubt about the claims of the sciences to have accumulated absolutely (...) real questions. It is argued that recent studies in the sociology and social history of the science pose strong challenges to the sciences by revealing how appeals to authority, vested interests, and rhetorical and aesthetic sensibilities play substantial roles in the practices of the sciences. The final chapter defends the pragmatic stance of the work, and of its companion, The Fortunes of Inquiry, and draws morals about the roles of criticism and reflection in the philosophy of science and in the sciences themselves. (shrink)
The debate between free will and its opposing doctrine, determinism, is one of the key issues in philosophy. Ilham Dilman brings together all the dimensions of the problem of free will with examples from literature, ethics and psychoanalysis, and draws out valuable insights from both sides of the freedom-determinism divide. The book provides a comprehensive introduction to this highly important question and examines the contributions made by sixteen of the most outstanding thinkers from the time of early Greece to modern (...) times: Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Freud, Sartre, Weil, Wittgenstein, Moore. (shrink)
Building on the work of anthropologists, historians, sociologists, literary critics, and feminist philosophers of science, the essays in Women Out of Place: the Gender of Agency and Race of Nationality investigate the linkages between agency and race for what they reveal about constructions of masculinity and femininity and patterns of domesticity among groups seeking to resist varied forms of political and economic domination through a subnational ideology of racial and cultural redemption. Does agency have a gender? Does nationality have a (...) race? Does the race of nationality predetermine the gender of agency? This volume asks these questions of a variety of nationalist ideologies, some at the same point in history, others as precursors of or predecessors to an initial nationalist formation. Contributors are: Richard G. Fox, Eva Haseby-Darvas, Paulette Pierce, Deborah Rubin, Louisa Schein, Carol A. Smith, Jacqueline True. (shrink)
In this major contribution to the theory of rational choice the author sets out the foundations of rational choice, and then sketches a dynamic choice framework in which principles of ordering and independence follow from a number of apparently plausible conditions. However there is potential conflict among these conditions, and when they are weakened to avoid it, the usual foundations of rational choice no longer prevail. The thrust of the argument is to suggest that the theory of rational choice is (...) less determinate than many suppose. (shrink)
The editors, working with a team of 325 renowned authorities in the field of ethics, have revised, expanded, and updated this classic encyclopedia. Along with the addition of 150 new entries, all of the original articles have been newly peer-reviewed and revised, bibliographies have been updated throughout, and the overall design of the work has been enhanced for easier access to cross-references and other reference features. New entries include * Aristotelian Ethics * Avicenna * Bad Faith * Beneficence * Categorical (...) and Hypothetical Imperatives * Cheating * Civil Liberty * Conventions * Dirty hands * Evolution * Fiduciary Relationships * Gay ethics * Genetic Engineering * Holocaust * Journalism * Killing/Letting Die * Moral Imagination * Narrative Ethics * Political correctness * Population Ethics * Public and 0rivate Morality * Racism, concepts of * and many more. (shrink)
Suppose that we want to frame a conception of reasons that isn't relativized to the inclinations of particular agents. That is, we want to identify particular things that count as reasons for acting simpliciter and not merely as reasons for some agents rather than others, depending on their inclinations. One way to frame such a conception is to name some features that an action can have and to say that they count as reasons for someone whether or not he is (...) inclined to care about them. The problem with the resulting conception, as we have seen, is that it entails the normative judgment that one ought to be inclined to care about the specified features, on pain of irrationality, and this normative judgment requires justification. The advantage of internalism is that it avoids these normative commitments. It says that things count as reasons for someone only if he is inclined to care about them, and so it leaves the normative question of whether to care about them entirely open. Yet if we try to leave this question open, by defining things as reasons only for those inclined to care about them, we'll end up with a definition that's relativized to the inclinations of particular agents—won't we? Not necessarily. For suppose that all reasons for acting are features of a single kind, whose influence depends on a single inclination. And suppose that the inclination on which the influence of reasons depends is, not an inclination that distinguishes some agents from others, but rather an inclination that distinguishes agents from nonagents. In that case, to say that these features count as reasons only for those who are inclined to care about them will be to say that they count as reasons only for agents—which will be to say no less than that they are reasons for acting, period, since applying only to agents is already part of the concept of reasons for acting. The restriction on the application of reasons will drop away from our definition, since it restricts their application, not to some proper subset of agents, but rather to the set of all agents, which is simply the universe of application for reasons to act. (shrink)
All social theorists and philosophers who seek to explain human action have a 'model of man', a metaphysical view of human nature. Some make man a plastic creature of nature and nurture, some present him as the autonomous creator of his social world, some offer a compromise. Each view needs its own theory of scientific knowledge calling for philosophic appraisal and the compromise sets harder puzzles than either. Passive accounts of man, for example, have a robust notion of causal explanation (...) but cannot either find or dispense with a self to apply them to. Active accounts rightly stress an autonomous self, but lack a proper concept of explanation. Martin Hollis takes these tensions and contrasts from the thought of sociologists, economists, and psychologists. He then develops a model of his own - one which seeks to connect personal and social identity through an ambitious theory of rational action and a priori knowledge, proposing a sense in which men can act freely and still be a subject for scientific explanation. (shrink)
This is an important new book about human motivation, about the reasons people have for their actions. What is distinctively new about it is its focus on how people see or understand their situations, options, and prospects. By taking account of people's understandings (along with their beliefs and desires), Professor Schick is able to expand the current theory of decision and action. The author provides a perspective on the topic by outlining its history. He defends his new theory against criticism, (...) considers its formal structure, and shows at length how it resolves many currently debated problems: the problems of conflict and weakness of will, Allais' problem, Kahneman and Tversky's problems, Newcomb's problem, and others. The book will be of special interest to philosophers, psychologists, and economists. (shrink)
The traditional disputants in the free will discussion--the libertarian, soft determinist, and hard determinist--agree that free will is a coherent concept, while disagreeing on how the concept might be satisfied and whether it can, in fact, be satisfied. In this innovative analysis, Richard Double offers a bold new argument, rejecting all of the traditional theories and proposing that the concept of free will cannot be satisfied, no matter what the nature of reality. Arguing that there is unavoidable conflict within our (...) understanding of moral responsibility and free choice, Double seeks to prove that when we ascribe responsibility, blame, or freedom, we merely express attitudes, rather than state anything capable of truth or falsity. Free will, he concludes, is essentially an incoherent notion. (shrink)
David-Hillel Ruben mounts a defence of some unusual and original positions in the philosophy of action. Written from a point of view out of sympathy with the assumptions of much of contemporary philosophical action theory, his book draws its inspiration from philosophers as diverse as Aristotle, Berkeley, and Marx. Ruben 's work is located in the tradition of the metaphysics of action, and will attract much attention from his peers and from students in the field.
This book is about how we make choices. It is a compelling analysis of the nature of free will, drawing together evidence from chemistry, literature, politics, history and beyond. Psychiatrist Chris Nunn elegantly explores the revolutions in medicine, genetics, bioethics and neuroscience spurred by Julien de la Mettrie's 300-year-old tract Man the Machine . Nunn concludes that a mechanistic view of the human brain, though once fruitful, is now moribund. He proposes a powerful alternative: that stories, recorded in our memories (...) throughout life, are the mediators of free choice. Nunn demonstrates how this original approach could reconcile the latest brain-imaging results and our seemingly contradictory intuition about decision making and responsibility. (shrink)
This book casts new light on the traditional disagreement between those who hold that we cannot be morally responsible for our actions if they are causally determined, and those who deny this. Klein suggests that reflection on the relation between justice and deprivation offers a way out of this perplexity.
Although much human action serves as proof that irrational behavior is remarkably common, certain forms of irrationality--most notably, incontinent action and self-deception--pose such difficult theoretical problems that philosophers have rejected them as logically or psychologically impossible. Here, Mele shows that, and how, incontinent action and self-deception are indeed possible. Drawing upon recent experimental work in the psychology of action and inference, he advances naturalized explanations of akratic action and self-deception while resolving the paradoxes around which the philosophical literature revolves. In (...) addition, he defends an account of self-control, argues that "strict" akratic action is an insurmountable obstacle for traditional belief-desire models of action-explanation, and explains how a considerably modified model accommodates action of this sort. (shrink)
Manifest Activity presents and critically examines the model of human power, the will, our capacities for purposeful conduct, and the place of our agency in the natural world of one of the most important and traditionally under-appreciated philosophers of the 18th century: Thomas Reid. For Reid, contrary to the view of many of his predecessors, it is simply manifest that we are active with respect to our behaviours; it is manifest, he thinks, that our actions are not merely remote products (...) of forces that lie outside of our control. Reid holds, instead, that actions are all and only those events that spring from active power and he produces insightful and imaginative arguments for the claim that only a creature with a mind is capable of having active power. He believes that only human beings, and creatures 'above us', are capable of directing events towards ends, of endowing them with purpose or direction, the distinctive feature of action. However, he also holds that all events, and not merely human actions, are products of active power, power possessed either by human beings or by God. This collection of theses leads Reid to the view that human behaviour and the progress of nature are both essentially teleological. Patterns in nature are the products of laws of which God is the author; patterns in human conduct are the products of character and the laws that individuals set for themselves. Manifest Activity examines Reid's arguments for this view and the view's implications for the nature of character, motivation and the special kind of causation involved in the production of human behavior. (shrink)