The lottery paradox can be solved if epistemic justification is assumed to be a species of permissibility. Given this assumption, the starting point of the paradox can be formulated as the claim that, for each lottery ticket, I am permitted to believe that it will lose. This claim is ambiguous between two readings, depending on the scope of ‘permitted’. On one reading, the claim is false; on another, it is true, but, owing to the general failure of permissibility to agglomerate, (...) does not generate the paradox. The solution generalizes to formulations of the paradox in terms of rational acceptability and doxastic rationality. (shrink)
This paper argues that the exclusion problem for mental causation can be solved by a variant of non-reductive physicalism that takes the mental not merely to supervene on, but to be grounded in, the physical. A grounding relation between events can be used to establish a principle that links the causal relations of grounded events to those of grounding events. Given this principle, mental events and their physical grounds either do not count as overdetermining physical effects, or they do so (...) in a way that is not objectionable. (shrink)
We investigate whether standard counterfactual analyses of causation imply that the outcomes of space-like separated measurements on entangled particles are causally related. Although it has sometimes been claimed that standard CACs imply such a causal relation, we argue that a careful examination of David Lewis’s influential counterfactual semantics casts doubt on this. We discuss ways in which Lewis’s semantics and standard CACs might be extended to the case of space-like correlations.
We argue that a semantics for counterfactual conditionals in terms of comparative overall similarity faces a formal limitation due to Arrow’s impossibility theorem from social choice theory. According to Lewis’s account, the truth-conditions for counterfactual conditionals are given in terms of the comparative overall similarity between possible worlds, which is in turn determined by various aspects of similarity between possible worlds. We argue that a function from aspects of similarity to overall similarity should satisfy certain plausible constraints while Arrow’s impossibility (...) theorem rules out that such a function satisfies all the constraints simultaneously. We argue that a way out of this impasse is to represent aspectual similarity in terms of ranking functions instead of representing it in a purely ordinal fashion. Further, we argue against the claim that the determination of overall similarity by aspects of similarity faces a difficulty in addition to the Arrovian limitation, namely the incommensurability of different aspects of similarity. The phenomena that have been cited as evidence for such incommensurability are best explained by ordinary vagueness. (shrink)
The paper argues that dualism can explain mental causation and solve the exclusion problem. If dualism is combined with the assumption that the psychophysical laws have a special status, it follows that some physical events counterfactually depend on, and are therefore caused by, mental events. Proponents of this account of mental causation can solve the exclusion problem in either of two ways: they can deny that it follows that the physical effect of a mental event is overdetermined by its mental (...) and physical causes, or they can accept that the physical effect is overdetermined but claim that this is unproblematic because the case is sufficiently dissimilar to prototypical cases of overdetermination. (shrink)
The paper argues that mental causation can be explained from the sufficiency of counterfactual dependence for causation together with relatively weak assumptions about the metaphysics of mind. If a physical event counterfactually depends on an earlier physical event, it also counterfactually depends on, and hence is caused by, a mental event that correlates with (or supervenes on) this earlier physical event, provided that this correlation (or supervenience) is sufficiently modally robust. This account of mental causation is consistent with the overdetermination (...) of physical events by mental events and other physical events, but does not entail it. (shrink)
Clayton Littlejohn claims that the permissibility solution to the lottery paradox requires an implausible principle in order to explain why epistemic permissions don't agglomerate. This paper argues that an uncontentious principle suffices to explain this. It also discusses another objection of Littlejohn's, according to which we’re not permitted to believe lottery propositions because we know that we’re not in a position to know them.
According to the permissibility solution to the lottery paradox, the paradox can be solved if we conceive of epistemic justification as a species of permissibility. Clayton Littlejohn has objected that the permissibility solution draws on a sufficient condition for permissible belief that has implausible consequences and that the solution conflicts with our lack of knowledge that a given lottery ticket will lose. The paper defends the permissibility solution against Littlejohn's objections.
The paper provides an explanation of our knowledge of metaphysical modality, or modal knowledge, from our ability to evaluate counterfactual conditionals. The latter ability lends itself to an evolutionary explanation since it enables us to learn from mistakes. Different logical principles linking counterfactuals to metaphysical modality can be employed to extend this explanation to the epistemology of modality. While the epistemological use of some of these principles is either philosophically implausible or empirically inadequate, the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘For (...) all q, if q were the case, p would be the case’ is a suitable starting-point for an explanation of modal knowledge. (shrink)
The paper argues that the theory of Implicit Definition cannot give an account of knowledge of logical principles. According to this theory, the meanings of certain expressions are determined such that they make certain principles containing them true; this is supposed to explain our knowledge of the principles as derived from our knowledge of what the expressions mean. The paper argues that this explanation succeeds only if Implicit Definition can account for our understanding of the logical constants, and that fully (...) understanding a logical constant in turn requires the ability to apply it correctly in particular cases. It is shown, however, that Implicit Definition cannot account for this ability, even if it draws on introduction rules for the logical constants. In particular, Implicit Definition cannot account for our ability to apply negation in particular cases. Owing to constraints relating to the unique characterisation of logical constants, invoking the notion of rejection does not remedy the situation. Given its failure to explain knowledge of logic, the prospects of Implicit Definition to explain other kinds of a priori knowledge are even worse. (shrink)
This paper defends the permissibility solution to the lottery paradox against an objection by Anna-Maria Asunta Eder. Eder argues that the permissibility solution should also be applicable to the preface paradox, but conflicts with a plausible principle about epistemic permissions when so applied. This paper replies by first criticizing Eder’s considerations in defense of her principle; in particular, it argues that the plausibility of her principle is to a large extent parasitic on the spurious plausibility of the principle of factual (...) detachment. The paper then presents a direct argument against Eder’s principle, which shows that her principle conflicts with a Pareto-style condition on permissible belief. (shrink)
The chapter defends an evolutionary explanation of modal knowledge from knowledge of counterfactual conditionals. Knowledge of counterfactuals is evolutionarily useful, as it enables us to learn from mistakes. Given the standard semantics for counterfactuals, there are several equivalences between modal claims and claims involving counterfactuals that can be used to explain modal knowledge. Timothy Williamson has suggested an explanation of modal knowledge that draws on the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘If p were false, a contradiction would be the case’. (...) He postulates a cognitive process that draws on this equivalence and that is supposed to underlie our modal judgements. The existence of this cognitive process would, however, have consequences that conflict with results from empirical psychology. The chapter argues that the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘For all q, if q were true then p would be true’ should instead be used to explain knowledge of necessity. This explanation requires giving an account of how we know truths of the form ‘For all q, if q were true then p would be true’. In order to provide such an account, the chapter draws on a different suggestion by Williamson about knowledge of generalizations. According to this suggestion, we come to know truths of the form ‘All Fs are G’ by imagining a generic F and judging that it is G. Applied to our case, the suggestion would be that we come to know that p is counterfactually implied by all propositions (and hence that p is necessary) by entertaining a generic proposition and judging that it counterfactually implies p. It would even suffice to entertain a generic possible proposition and judge that it counterfactually implies p, for it can be shown that the claim ‘For all possible q, if q were true then p would be true’ is equivalent to the original claim ‘For all q, if q were true then p would be true’ and hence is equivalent to ‘Necessarily p’. It might seem that, from an evolutionary perspective, probabilistic reasoning is just as useful as reasoning involving counterfactuals. The chapter argues, however, that this would not undermine the envisaged explanation of modal knowledge. The chapter concludes by suggesting avenues of empirical research that might shed light on the cognitive processes that actually underlie our evaluations of modal claims and on the relation between these processes and those involved in counterfactual reasoning. The results of such empirical research would be highly relevant epistemologically, since they will ultimately determine which (if any) equivalence between modal claims and claims involving counterfactuals should be used to explain our modal knowledge. (shrink)
Instances of many supervenient properties have physical effects. In particular, instances of mental properties have physical effects if non-reductive physicalism is true. This follows by a straightforward argument that assumes a counterfactual criterion for causation. The paper presents that argument and discusses several issues that arise from it. In particular, the paper addresses the worry that the argument shows too many supervenient property-instances to have physical effects. The argument is also compared to a similar argument that has been suggested by (...) Lei Zhong and is shown to be superior to the latter. (shrink)
The future similarity objection against David Lewis’s theory of counterfactuals re-emerges once the space-time of possible worlds is adequately represented. Given such a representation, it can be shown that a number of counterfactuals that seem clearly true, such as Kit Fine’s example ‘If Nixon had pressed the button, there would have been a nuclear holocaust’, come out false, even if determinism is assumed. Lewis’s similarity criteria can be modified in different ways to avoid the problem, but some of the modifications (...) have problems of their own. (shrink)
Mental causation is the causation of physical effects by mental causes. The paradigm case of mental causation is the causation of someone’s bodily movement by a mental state or event of hers. The belief that mental causation exists is deeply rooted in common sense. It seems uncontroversial to say, for instance, that a sudden pain caused Jones to wince, or that Smith’s thirst caused him to have a drink. Nevertheless, explaining how the mind can have physical effects has proven a (...) challenge for philosophers of mind. For physical effects already have physical causes, which threatens the claim that they also have mental causes. The problem is most pressing for positions according to which the mind is not itself physical. However, recent decades have also seen a debate over whether the view that the mind is physical can adequately explain mental causation. (shrink)
On the day before Christmas, 1170, Robert de Broc, member of a family of royal servants that had taken up King Henry II's fierce opposition to Thomas Becket, seized a horse bringing goods to the archbishop and cut off its tail. The next day, Archbishop Thomas noted this incident after his Christmas sermon when renewing his excommunication of Robert and several others, and he discussed it again four days later in his initial meeting with the men who would (...) shortly murder him. The excision of the horse's tail appears in five of the biographies of the martyr and subsequently in the national chronicles of Roger of Howden and Ralph of Diceto. Why did a minor act of cruelty inflicted on a horse seem so noteworthy to contemporaries? The sources recording it resound with the rich Latin vocabulary of shame: “dedecus, contemptus, ignominia, dehonestatio, opprobrium.” Robert's highly symbolic act, part of a pattern of harassment by the Brocs, was designed not just to threaten Becket but also to humiliate him. (shrink)
In the first systematic study of the philosophy of Thomas Nagel, Alan Thomas discusses Nagel's contrast between the "subjective" and the "objective" points of view throughout the various areas of his wide ranging philosophy. Nagel's original and distinctive contrast between the subjective view and our aspiration to a "view from nowhere" within metaphysics structures the chapters of the book. A "new Humean" in epistemology, Nagel takes philosophical scepticism to be both irrefutable and yet to indicate a profound truth (...) about our capacity for self-transcendence. The contrast between subjective and objective views is then considered in the case of the mind, where consciousness proves to be the central aspect of mind that contemporary theorising fails to acknowledge adequately. The second half of the book analyses Nagel's work on moral and political philosophy where he has been most deeply influential. Topics covered include the contrast between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons and values, Nagel's distinctive version of a hybrid ethical theory, his discussion of life's meaningfulness and finally his sceptical arguments about whether a liberal society can reconcile the conflicting moral demands of self and other. (shrink)
ThomasKroedel argues that the lottery paradox can be solved by identifying epistemic justification with epistemic permissibility rather than epistemic obligation. According to his permissibility solution, we are permitted to believe of each lottery ticket that it will lose, but since permissions do not agglomerate, it does not follow that we are permitted to have all of these beliefs together, and therefore it also does not follow that we are permitted to believe that all tickets will lose. I (...) present two objections to this solution. First, even if justification itself amounts to no more than epistemic permissibility, the lottery paradox recurs at the level of doxastic obligations unless one adopts an extremely permissive view about suspension of belief that is in tension with our practice of doxastic criticism. Second, even if there are no obligations to believe lottery propositions, the permissibility solution fails because epistemic permissions typically agglomerate, and the lottery case provides no exception to this rule. (shrink)
In recent work, ThomasKroedel has proposed a novel solution to the lottery paradox. As he sees it, we are permitted/justified in believing some lottery propositions, but we are not permitted/justified in believing them all. I criticize this proposal on two fronts. First, I think that if we had the right to add some lottery beliefs to our belief set, we would not have any decisive reason to stop adding more. Suggestions to the contrary run into the wrong (...) kind of reason problem. Reflection on the preface paradox suggests as much. Second, while I agree with Kroedel that permissions do not agglomerate, I do not think that this fact can help us solve the lottery paradox. First, I do not think we have any good reason to think that we’re permitted to believe any lottery propositions. Second, I do not see any good reason to think that epistemic permissions do not agglomerate. (shrink)
ThomasKroedel argues that we can solve a version of the lottery paradox if we identify justified beliefs with permissible beliefs. Since permissions do not agglomerate, we might grant that someone could justifiably believe any ticket in a large and fair lottery is a loser without being permitted to believe that all the tickets will lose. I shall argue that Kroedel’s solution fails. While permissions do not agglomerate, we would have too many permissions if we characterized justified (...) belief as sufficiently probable belief. If we reject the idea that justified beliefs can be characterized as sufficiently probably beliefs, Kroedel’s solution is otiose because the paradox can be dissolved at the outset. (shrink)
ThomasKroedel has recently proposed an interesting Pareto-style condition on permissible belief. Despite the condition’s initial plausibility, this paper aims at providing a counterexample to it. The example is based on the view that a proper condition on permissible belief should not give permission to believe a proposition that undermines one’s belief system or whose epistemic standing decreases in the light of one’s de facto beliefs.
Is it necessary for all Christians – including Christians who are metaphysicians with demonstrative knowledge of God’s existence – to hold by faith that God exists? I shall approach this apparently straightforward question by investigating two opposing lines of interpretation of Thomas Aquinas’s own response to this question. I shall begin with two texts from Thomas that motivate two incompatible theses concerning Thomas’s doctrine of the harmony of faith and reason with respect to the existence of God. (...) Next, I shall clarify the salient points of disagreement between these two interpretations of faith and reason in Thomas Aquinas before examining dialectically a number of arguments in favor and against the respective theses of these two interpretations. In the final section I shall argue that the results of our dialectical inquiry reveal that the initial disagreement between the two positions is not irresolvable. Accordingly, I shall conclude by proposing two revised versions of the initial theses that emphasize the compatibility of these two interpretations of Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of the harmony of faith and reason. (shrink)
The great medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas was Dominican regent master in theology at the University of Paris, where he presided over a series of questions - academic debates - on ethical topics. This volume offers translations of disputed questions on the nature of virtues in general, the fundamental or 'cardinal' virtues of practical wisdom, justice, courage, and temperateness, the divinely bestowed virtues of hope and charity, and the practical question of how, when and why one should rebuke a 'brother' (...) for wrongdoing. The introduction explains how Aquinas's theory of virtue fits into his ethics as a whole, and it illuminates Aquinas's views by explaining the institutional and intellectual context in which these disputed questions were debated. (shrink)
Thomas M. Osborne Jr. ... Vivarium 32 (1994): 62–71. te Velde, Rude A. “Natura in se ipsa recurva est: Duns Scotus and Aquinas on the Relationship between Nature and Will.” In John Duns Scotus: ... “William of Ockham's Theological Ethics .
I argue that Diego Alvarez and Thomas de Lemos through their participation in the De auxiliis controversy developed and defended Cajetan’s view of the causation of sin in such a way that they were able to defend the predetermination of the material aspect of sin while at the same time assimilating important aspects from his critics. It is important to recognize that Lemos and his associates hold both that the premotion of sin’s material aspect is not necessarily connected with (...) the Catholic faith and that it is knowable by natural reason. Even though they argued that other Molinist theses should be condemned as heretical, they held that this rejection of the Dominican thesis concerning sin is simply wrong but not heretical. First, I consider Cajetan’s position. Second, I consider the reception of this position by Medina, Zumel, and Báñez. Third, I show that Alvarez and Lemos make distinctions that allow them to incorporate the insights of both Cajetan and his critics. (shrink)
Several of Thomas Aquinas's proofs for the existence of God rely on the claim that causal series cannot proceed in infinitum. I argue that Aquinas has good reason to hold this claim given his conception of causation. Because he holds that effects are ontologically dependent on their causes, he holds that the relevant causal series are wholly derivative: the later members of such series serve as causes only insofar as they have been caused by and are effects of the (...) earlier members. Because the intermediate causes in such series possess causal powers only by deriving them from all the preceding causes, they need a first and non-derivative cause to serve as the source of their causal powers. (shrink)
Thomas Kuhn transformed the philosophy of science. His seminal 1962 work "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" introduced the term 'paradigm shift' into the vernacular and remains a fundamental text in the study of the history and philosophy of science. This introduction to Kuhn's ideas covers the breadth of his philosophical work, situating "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" within Kuhn's wider thought and drawing attention to the development of his ideas over time. Kuhn's work is assessed within the context of (...) other philosophies of science notably logical empiricism and recent developments in naturalized epistemology. The author argues that Kuhn's thinking betrays a residual commitment to many theses characteristic of the empiricists he set out to challenge. Kuhn's influence on the history and philosophy of science is assessed and where the field may be heading in the wake of Kuhn's ideas is explored. (shrink)
In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Thomas Mann and Georg Lukács both sought to come to terms with the multifaceted role of philosophy in the catastrophe of fascism. The figure of Nietzsche is examined in Mann’s Nietzsches Philosophie im Lichte unserer Erfahrung and Lukács’ Die Zerstörung der Vernunft. It is generally recognised that Mann’s lecture helped to shape the post-war Nietzsche reception in the West as much as Lukács’ treatise did in the East. In contrast, I (...) argue that Mann’s and Lukács’s contributions have more in common than is generally acknowledged and, given Mann’s esteem in the field of Nietzsche studies, that these similarities call into question the general repudiation of Lukács’ Nietzsche-Bild. After sketching the phenomenon of partisanship in the reception of Nietzsche through the lens of Kant’s notion of a ‘Kampfplatz’, some of the key topoi of Lukács’ work are identified, highlighting the aforementioned similarities in content and methodology as well as the contrasts with Western academic approaches. (shrink)
Thomas Reid’s epistemological ambitions are decisively at the center of his work. However, if we take such ambitions to be the whole story, we are apt to overlook the theory of mind that Reid develops and deploys against the theory of ideas. Reid’s philosophy of mind is sophisticated and strikingly contemporary, and has, until recently, been lost in the shadow of his other philosophical accomplishments. Here I survey some aspects of Reid’s theory of mind that I find most interesting. (...) I examine whether Reid is a mysterian about the mind, whether Reid has a direct realist theory of perception, and whether Reid has a higher-order, or “inner-sense,” view of consciousness. Along the way I will mention portions of the secondary literature that examine these aspects and point out whether and to what degree I part ways with the interpretations present in the literature. (shrink)
Recently, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has challenged the claim of many in the scientific establishment that nature gives no empirical signs of having been deliberately designed. In particular, ID arguments in biology dispute the notion that neo-Darwinian evolution is the only viable scientific explanation of the origin of biological novelty, arguing that there are telltale signs of the activity of intelligence which can be recognized and studied empirically. In recent years, a number of Catholic philosophers, theologians, and scientists have (...) expressed opposition to ID. Some of these critics claim that there is a conflict between the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and that of the ID movement, and even an affinity between Aquinas’s ideas and theistic Darwinism. We consider six such criticisms and find each wanting. (shrink)
At first glance there seem to be many similarities between Thomas S. Kuhn’s and Ludwik Fleck’s accounts of the development of scientific knowledge. Notably, both pay attention to the role played by the scientific community in the development of scientific knowledge. But putting first impressions aside, one can criticise some philosophers for being too hasty in their attempt to find supposed similarities in the works of the two men. Having acknowledged that Fleck anticipated some of Kuhn’s later theses, there (...) seems to be a temptation in more recent research to equate both theories in important respects. Because of this approach, one has to deal with the problem of comparing the most notable technical terms of both philosophers, namely ‘‘thought style’’ and ‘‘paradigm’’. This paper aims at a more thorough comparison between Ludwik Fleck’s concept of thought style and Thomas Kuhn’s concept of paradigm. Although some philosophers suggest that these two concepts are essentially equal in content, a closer examination reveals that this is not the case. This thesis of inequality will be defended in detail, also taking into account some of the alleged similarities which may be responsible for losing sight of the differences between these theories. (shrink)
Cultural diversity is an inescapable reality and a concern in many businesses where it can often raise ethical questions and dilemmas. This paper aims to offer suggestions to certain problems facing managers in dealing with cultural diversity through the inspiration of Thomas Aquinas. Although he may be perceived as a voice from the distant past, we can still find in his writings helpful and original ideas and criteria. He welcomes cultural differences as a part of the perfection of the (...) universe. His systemic approach leads one to place the problem in its proper context, and to reflect on it from the perspective of virtue ethics, with a central role for practical wisdom and giving primacy to neighborly love and natural moral law. Rather than a set of rigid standards with no consideration of diversity Aquinas focuses on the common human ground, which allows for the indispensable dialogue between different positions. When dealing with practical questions, the problem is one of finding the right balance between general principle and cultural specifics, tolerance, and dialogue, always guided by practical wisdom. In this way, Aquinas’ approach is neither rigid ethical universalism with no consideration for diversity nor moral relativism with no place for any transcultural and absolute morals. (shrink)
This article seeks to justify the claim that Thomas Aquinas proposed a concept of natural law which is immune to the argument against the recognition of an objective grounding of the good formulated by a well-known representative of the liberal tradition, Isaiah Berlin, in his famous essay “Two Concepts of Freedom.” I argue that Aquinas’s concept of freedom takes into account the very same values and goals that Berlin set out to defend when he composed his critique of natural (...) law. In particular, the article suggests that Aquinas recognizes freedom as a greater perfection of man than rationality, and that this freedom is realized, among other things, through the co-construction of the good that gives a goal and a shape to human action and to the whole of a person’s life. I argue that the co-construction of such a good involves the co-construction of natural law in the strict sense of the term. Indeed, the content of natural law can be understood as a set of goods which are goals that inform human action. From a human perspective, natural law is not a pre-existing recipe which has merely to be “read.” Defining the concrete content of natural law is an ongoing process. The process of defining natural law’s content takes humanly knowable, objective elements into account, and so draws on knowledge. Yet free choice also plays an important part in this process. When speaking of the process of defining the content of natural law, therefore, and in determining what here-and-now is to be done, it is reasonable to describe man as a creator of the natural law, or as a legislator, just as the members of a parliament are the creators of civil law — bearing in mind that only a just law is truly law and therefore the creation of both civil and natural law reaches only as far is the scope of just actions directed by these laws. From the perspective of human action, we may speak of each person’s free choice to establish a given good as the end of a specific act, and in so doing to declare that action proper under natural law in the strict sense of the term (which differs from the rules of natural law). An appreciation of what is particular and individual (particulare et individuum), and an appreciation of free choice that goes hand-in-hand with this, is deeply embedded in Thomas’s system of thought. Particularity and individuality has its basis in an especially excellent way of human existence. (shrink)