JohnMackie's stimulating book is a complete and clear treatise on moral theory. His writings on normative ethics-the moral principles he recommends-offer a fresh approach on a much neglected subject, and the work as a whole is undoubtedly a major contribution to modern philosophy.The author deals first with the status of ethics, arguing that there are not objective values, that morality cannot be discovered but must be made. He examines next the content of ethics, seeing morality as a (...) functional device, basically the same at all times but changing significantly in response to changes in the human condition. He sketches a practical moral system, criticizing but also borrowing from both utilitarian and absolutist views. Thirdly, the frontiers of ethics, areas of contact with psychology, metaphysics, theology, law and politcs, are explored.Throughout, his aim is to discuss a wide range of questions that are both philosophical and practical, working within a distinctive version of subjectivism-an "error" theory of the apparent objectivity of values. JohnMackie has drawn on the contributions of such classic thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant and Sidgwick, and on more recent discussions, to produce a thought-provoking account that will inspire both the general reader and the student of philosophy. (shrink)
This collection of JohnMackie's papers on topics in epistemology, some of which have not previously been published, deal with such issues as: incorrigible empirical statements; rationalism and empiricism; the philosophy of John Anderson; self-refutation; Plato's theory of idea; ideological explanation; problems of intentionality; Popper's third world;; mind, brain, and causation; Newcomb's Paradox and the direction of causation; induction; causation in concept, knowledge, and reality; absolutism; Locke and representative perception; and anti-realisms.
David Hume's greatness depends in large part on how his writings hint at beautiful and coherent theories which are recognizably Humean despite their divergences from the untidy originals. Now, perhaps the clearest vision of a contradiction–free Platonic Form of Hume was had by J. L. Mackie; he described it in such masterpieces as The Cement of the Universe, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, and The Miracle of Theism. How successful is this last in its attack on theism? I shall (...) discuss Mackie's case against theism of a Platonic or Neoplatonic type which replaces ‘God as a person or mind or spirit’ by a more abstract Creative Force or Principle. Mackie sees in it a ‘a formidable rival’ to any theism treating of a divine being; ‘if you demand an ultimate explanation, then this may well be a better one’ . But, his chapter thirteen contends, it fares badly in competition with an atheistic, naturalistic approach. (shrink)
David Hume's greatness depends in large part on how his writings hint at beautiful and coherent theories which are recognizably Humean despite their divergences from the untidy originals. Now, perhaps the clearest vision of a contradiction–free Platonic Form of Hume was had by J. L. Mackie; he described it in such masterpieces as The Cement of the Universe, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, and The Miracle of Theism. How successful is this last in its attack on theism? I shall (...) discuss Mackie's case against theism of a Platonic or Neoplatonic type which replaces ‘God as a person or mind or spirit’ by a more abstract Creative Force or Principle. Mackie sees in it a ‘a formidable rival’ to any theism treating of a divine being; ‘if you demand an ultimate explanation, then this may well be a better one’. But, his chapter thirteen contends, it fares badly in competition with an atheistic, naturalistic approach. (shrink)
Our world seems fine tuned in life-permitting ways. If the cosmos contains many universes, only the appropriately tuned ones can be seen by living beings. An alternative is that God acted as Fine Tuner. We might account for God in terms of an eternally powerful ethical requirement that God exists, rejecting J. L. Mackie's judgment that absolute ethical requirements are incredibly queer. Mackie viewed such requirements as logically possible, so if they were absent then this would seem a (...) matter of synthetic necessity. Again, if they existed then their creative effectiveness would, Mackie thought, be logically possible. Their actual ineffectiveness would thus involve a further synthetic necessity. Theists could maintain that the synthetic necessities were instead ones making ethical requirements real and creatively powerful. Yet why, then, would there exist anything but divine knowledge of everything worth knowing? A spinozistic answer is that such knowledge is all that exists. (shrink)
One of the first books to address what has come to be known as the philosophy of cosmology, Universes asks, "Why does the universe exist?", arguing that the universe is "fine tuned for producing life." For example, if the universe's early expansion speed had been smaller by one part in a million, then it would have recollapsed rapidly; with an equivalently tiny speed increase, no galaxies would have formed. Either way, this universe would have been lifeless.
When people speak of ‘the law of the jungle’, they usually mean unions restrained and ruthless competition, with everyone out solely for his own advantage. But the phrase was coined by Rudyard Kipling, in The Second Jungle Book , and he meant something very different. His law of the jungle is a law that wolves in a pack are supposed to obey. His poem says that ‘the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is (...) the Pack’, and it states the basic principles of social co-operation. Its provisions are a judicious mixture of individualism and collectivism, prescribing graduated and qualified rights for fathers of families, mothers with cubs, and young wolves, which constitute an elementary system of welfare services. Of course, Kipling meant his poem to give moral instruction to human children, but he probably thought it was at least roughly correct as a description of the social behaviour of wolves and other wild animals. Was he right, or is the natural world the scene of unrestrained competition, of an individualistic struggle for existence? (shrink)
The cosmos exists just because of the ethical need for it We, and all the intricate structures of our universe, exist as thoughts in a divine mind that knows everything worth knowing. There could also be infinitely many other universes in this mind....It may be hard to believe that the universe is as Leslie says it is--but it is also hard to resist his compelling ideas and arguments.
I survey JohnLeslie's Platonic thesis that if something sufficiently good possibly exists, then it could be ethically required that it actually exists—along with the pantheistic world‐picture to which this thesis leads.
Due to his laborious efforts, there are two strands of contemporary philosophical literature with which JohnLeslie is closely identified. The first concerns cosmic fine-tuning, the design argument, and the anthropic principle ; the second, the so-called ‘Doomsday Argument ’ to the effect that we have good grounds for expecting the human race soon to perish. In this book – just released in paperback – Leslie concentrates on ideas he first began pursuing over thirty years ago, most (...) notably in Value and Existence. According to Leslie, the best explanation (an explanation he thinks is only a bit more likely than not to be true) for the existence and nature of the world is that it is good that there exists a world with that nature. Indeed, every good world – every world worth thinking about – exists, insofar as some infinite divine mind has a complete complex of eternal thoughts that are that world. Leslie thinks that his pantheistic explanation has better resources than theism does for addressing a variety of problems for religious belief, including the problem of evil, the nature of immortality, and divine passibility. Furthermore, it is more in tune with two ideas that feature in contemporary physics: the holism of quantum mechanics and the fourdimensionalism that Einstein thought the theory of relativity suggested about the nature of time. (shrink)
Might we be parts of a divine mind? Could anything like an afterlife make sense? Starting with a Platonic answer to why the world exists, _Immortality Defended_ suggests we could well be immortal in all of three separate ways. Tackles the fundamental questions posed by our very existence, among them, "why does the cosmos exist?", "is there a divine mind or God?", and "in what sense might we have afterlives?" Defends a belief in immortality, without the need for a religious (...) affiliation or rejection of modern science Explores the ideas of "Einsteinian immortality", the divine afterlife, and the theory of an infinite and divine mind Draws from the work of a wide-range of philosophers, from ancient Greece to the present day, and incorporates up-to-date scientific findings Written in a thought-provoking and engaging manner, accessible to anyone intrigued by the wonder of our being. (shrink)
During the past decade the foundation has been laid for a major change in the payment and fund transfer system in American society. As technological advances are achieved, their application could eventually mean that the payments system will be based on digital impulses rather than on cash or paper checks. Preauthorization techniques, automated banking, and point of sale devices are already part of rapidly expanding new technology---electronic fund transfer systems.
Studies causation both as a concept and as it is 'in the objects.' Offers new accounts of the logic of singular causal statements, the form of causal regularities, the detection of causal relationships, the asymmetry of cause and effect, and necessary connection, and it relates causation to functional and statistical laws and to teleology.
This essay is a critical discussion of the meta-ethical book "Ethics. Inventing Right and Wrong" by J.L.Mackie published in Harmondsworth, 1977. It is based on the German translation "Ethik. Auf der Suche nach dem Richtigen und Falschen, Stuttgart: Reclam 1983. The essay had been published in the German philosophical journal LOGOS (N.F. 3, 1996) and is written in German. There had been no abstract.
Are we in imminent danger of extinction? Yes, we probably are, argues JohnLeslie in his chilling account of the dangers facing the human race as we approach the second millenium. The End of the World is a sobering assessment of the many disasters that scientists have predicted and speculated on as leading to apocalypse. In the first comprehensive survey, potential catastrophes - ranging from deadly diseases to high-energy physics experiments - are explored to help us understand the (...) risks. One of the greatest threats facing humankind, however, is the insurmountable fact that we are a relatively young species, a risk which is at the heart of the 'Doomsday Argument'. This argument, if correct, makes the dangers we face more serious than we could have ever imagined. This more than anything makes the arrogance and ignorance of politicians, and indeed philosophers, so disturbing as they continue to ignore the manifest dangers facing future generations. (shrink)
This collection of JohnMackie's papers on personal identity and topics in moral and political philosophy, some of which have not previously been published, deal with such issues as: multiple personality; the transcendental "I"; responsibility and language; aesthetic judgements; Sidgwick's pessimism; act-utiliarianism; right-based moral theories; cooperation, competition, and moral philosophy; universalization; rights, utility, and external costs; norms and dilemmas; Parfit's population paradox; and the combination of partially-ordered preferences.