With the celebrated frontispiece to the New Science (1744) and through an immediate comparison of this image to the ancient moral fable inscribed in the Tablet of Cebes the Theban, Vico ingeniously employs a then well-known common topic and a conventional emblematic device to inaugurate his topics-based philosophy. A topical knowledge of the human cannot, for Vico, be seized by precept only; it must be undergone as an active and imaginative recovery of the topics through memory. In times of need, (...) topical memory is consequential for civil wisdom and historical consciousness. An aptitude for the practic of topics is manifest in the manmade figurations of fable and poetry and in the requisite and recollective resynthesis of them. By modeling, exemplifying, explaining, and soliciting this aptitude for topical knowledge, Vico provides a multifold teaching on the acquisition of civil wisdom. (shrink)
To understand H.L.A. Hart's general theory of law, it is helpful to distinguish between substantive and methodological legal positivism. Substantive legal positivism is the view that there is no necessary connection between morality and the content of law. Methodological legal positivism is the view that legal theory can and should offer a normatively neutral description of a particular social phenomenon, namely law. Methodological positivism holds, we might say, not that there is no necessary connection between morality and law, but rather (...) that there is no connection, necessary or otherwise, between morality and legal theory. The respective claims of substantive and methodological positivism are, at least on the surface, logically independent. Hobbes and Bentham employed normative methodologies to defend versions of substantive positivism, and in modern times Michael Moore has developed what can be regarded as a variant of methodological positivism to defend a theory of natural law. (shrink)
This essay deals with property rights in body parts that can be exchanged in a market. The inquiry arises in the following context. With some exceptions, the laws of many countries permit only the donation, not the sale, of body parts. Yet for some years there has existed a shortage of body parts for transplantation and other medical uses. It might then appear that if more sales were legally permitted, the supply of body parts would increase, because people would have (...) more incentive to sell than they currently have to donate. To allow sales is to recognize property rights in body parts. To allow sales, however, makes body parts into “commodities”—that is, things that can be bought and sold in a market. And some view it as morally objectionable to treat body parts as commodities. (shrink)
[Stephen Makin] Aristotle draws two sets of distinctions in Metaphysics 9.2, first between non-rational and rational capacities, and second between one way and two way capacities. He then argues for three claims: [A] if a capacity is rational, then it is a two way capacity [B] if a capacity is non-rational, then it is a one way capacity [C] a two way capacity is not indifferently related to the opposed outcomes to which it can give rise I provide explanations (...) of Aristotle's terminology, and of how [A]-[C] should be understood. I then offer a set of arguments which are intended to show that the Aristotelian claims are plausible. \\\ [Nicholas Denyer] In De Caelo 1: 11-12 Aristotle argued that whatever is and always will be true is necessarily true. His argument works, once we grant him the highly plausible principle that if something is true, then it can be false if and only if it can come to be false. For example, assume it true that the sun is and always will be hot. No proposition of this form can ever come to be false. Hence this proposition cannot be false. Hence it is necessarily true, and so too is anything that follows from it. In particular, it is necessarily true that the sun is hot. Moreover, if the sun not only is and always will be hot, but also always has been, then it follows by similar reasoning that the sun not only cannot now fail to be hot, but also never could have failed. Anything everlastingly true is therefore, in the strictest sense of the term, necessarily true. (shrink)
Perhaps the most salient feature of Rawls's theory of justice which at once attracts supporters and repels critics is its apparent egalitarian conclusion as to how economic goods are to be distributed. Indeed, many of Rawls's sympathizers may find this result intuitively appealing, and regard it as Rawls's enduring contribution to the topic of economic justice, despite technical deficiencies in Rawls's contractarian, decision-theoretic argument for it which occupy the bulk of the critical literature. Rawls himself, having proposed a “coherence” theory (...) of justification in metaethics, must regard the claim that his distributive criterion “is a strongly egalitarian conception” as independently a part of the overarching moral argument. The alleged egalitarian impact of Rawls's theory is crucial again in normative ethics where Rawls is thought to have developed a major counter-theory to utilitarianism, one of the most popular criticisms of which has been its alleged inadequacy in handling questions of distributive justice. Utilitarians can argue, however, as Brandt recently has, that the diminishing marginal utility of money, along with ignorance of income-welfare curves, would require a utility-maximizing distribution to be substantially egalitarian. The challenge is therefore for Rawls to show that his theory yields an ethically preferable degree of equality. (shrink)
Between the later views of Wittgenstein and those of connectionism 1 on the subject of the mastery of language there is an impressively large number of similarities. The task of establishing this claim is carried out in the second section of this paper.
In recent years there has been a great deal of discussion about the prospects of developing a ‘naturalized epistemology’, though different authors tend to interpret this label in quite different ways. One goal of this paper is to sketch three projects that might lay claim to the ‘naturalized epistemology’ label, and to argue that they are not all equally attractive. Indeed, I'll maintain that the first of the three—the one I'll attribute to Quine—is simply incoherent. There is no way we (...) could get what we want from an epistemological theory by pursuing the project Quine proposes. The second project on my list is a naturalized version of reliabilism. This project is not fatally flawed in the way that Quine's is. However, it's my contention that the sort of theory this project would yield is much less interesting than might at first be thought. (shrink)
The social and environmental problems that we face at this tail end of twentieth-century progress require us to identify some cause, some spirit that transcends the petty limits of our time and place. It is easy to believe that there is no crisis. We have been told too often that the oceans will soon die, the air be poisonous, our energy reserves run dry; that the world will grow warmer, coastlands be flooded and the climate change; that plague, famine and (...) war will be the necessary checks on population growth. But here we are: sufficiently healthy and well-fed, connoisseurs of far-off catastrophe and horror movies, confident that something will turn up or that the prophecies of doom were only dreams. We are the descendants, after all, of creatures who did not despair, who hoped against hope that there would still be life tomorrow. We no more believe in the world's end than we believe that soldiers could break down the door and drag us off to torture and to death: we don't believe that they could even when we know that, somewhere altogether elsewhere, they did. Even if we can force ourselves to remember other ages, other lands or other classes, we are content enough. (shrink)
I consider reasons for questioning ‘the laws of logic’, and suggest that these laws do not accord with everyday reality. Either they are rhetorical tools rather than absolute truths, or else Plato and his successors were right to think that they identify a reality distinct from the ordinary world of experience, and also from the ultimate source of reality.
In the mid-1980s, Dario Donatelli participated in a laboratory study of the effects of around 800 h of practice on digit-span and increased his digit-span from 8 to 104 digits. This study assessed changes in the structure of his memory skill after around 30 years of essentially no practice on the digit-span task. On the first day of testing, his estimated span was only 10 digits, but over the following 3 days of testing it increased to 19 digits. Further (...) analyses of his recall performance and verbal reports identified which mechanisms of the original memory skill he could retrieve or reacquire over the 3 days of practice. We discuss theoretical implications for the retention of skilled memory performance, the effects of age-related changes in memory on it, and for the future study of the effects of disuse on exceptional performance and complex skill. (shrink)
When we speak of philosophy and therapy, or of philosophy as therapy, the usual intent is to suggest that ‘philosophizing’ is or should be a way to clarify the mind or purify the soul. While there may be little point in arguing with psychoses or deeply-embedded neuroses our more ordinary misjudgements, biases and obsessions may be alleviated, at least, by trying to ‘see things clearly and to see them whole’, by carefully identifying premises and seeing what they – rationally – (...) support, and by seeking to eliminate the residual influence of premises that we have long since, rationally, dismissed. I don't intend to argue with this account – though of course it may be as well to remember that ‘philosophizing’ may have more dangerous effects. It is not obvious that philosophical argument will always help us ‘see things straight’, and the Athenian democracy was not altogether wrong to think that some of Socrates' followers or pupils learnt quite the wrong things from him. (shrink)
Although liberals too often forget it, the health of the liberal publicorder depends on our ability to constitute not only political institutions and limits on power, but appropriate patterns of social lifeand citizen character. Liberal character traits and political virtuesdo not, after all, come about “naturally” or by the deliverance of an “invisible hand.” Even Adam Smith did not think that, as we will see below. Harry Eckstein gets closer to themark by suggesting that “stable governments…are the productof 'accidental' conjunctions (...) of conditions which do sometimes, but rarely, occur in actual societies.”. (shrink)
A central theme throughout the impressive series of philosophical books and articles Stephen Toulmin has published since 1948 is the way in which assertions and opinions concerning all sorts of topics, brought up in everyday life or in academic research, can be rationally justified. Is there one universal system of norms, by which all sorts of arguments in all sorts of fields must be judged, or must each sort of argument be judged according to its own norms? In The (...) Uses of Argument Toulmin sets out his views on these questions for the first time. In spite of initial criticisms from logicians and fellow philosophers, The Uses of Argument has been an enduring source of inspiration and discussion to students of argumentation from all kinds of disciplinary background for more than forty years. (shrink)
My aim in what follows is to sketch with a broad brush fundamental changes involving the concept of obligation in British ethics of the early modern period, as it developed in the direction of the view that obligatory force is a species of motivational force – an idea that deeply informs present thought. I shall also suggest, although I can hardly demonstrate it conclusively here, that one important source for this view was a doctrine which we associate with Kant, and (...) which it may seem surprising to find in British ethics, especially of the early modern period, viz., that rational agents are obligated by motives available through a form of practical thinking necessary for rational autonomy. (shrink)
Philosophers of earlier ages have usually spent time in considering thenature of marital, and in general familial, duty. Paley devotes an entire book to those ‘relative duties which result from the constitution of the sexes’,1 a book notable on the one hand for its humanity and on the other for Paley‘s strange refusal to acknowledge that the evils for which he condemns any breach of pure monogamy are in large part the result of the fact that such breaches are generally (...) condemned. In a society where an unmarried mother is ruined no decent male should put a woman in such danger: but why precisely should social feeling be so severe? Marriage, the monogamist would say, must be defended at all costs, for it is a centrally important institution of our society. Political community was, in the past, understood as emerging from or imposed upon families, or similar associations. The struggle to establish the state was a struggle against families, clans and clubs; the state, once established, rested upon the social institutions to which it gave legal backing. (shrink)
ara La Mettrie, o estudo da natureza inicia-se no homem cuja estrutura deve ser considerada em comparação com a dos animais, estando todos submetidos às mesmas leis e sujeitos à destruição. Ao adotar o ponto de vista médico, La Mettrie aproxima a filosofia da medicina. A partir dessa aproximação, o presente trabalho tem por objetivo abordar como se dá a vinculação entre medicina e filosofia, enfatizando o entrelaçamento entre os pontos de vista médico, filosófico e moral. To La Mettrie, the (...) study of nature begins in the man whose structure should be considered in comparison with that of animals, all being subjected to the same laws, and subject to destruction. By adopting the medical point of view, La Mettrie brings close philosophy and medicine. Following this approach, this paper aims to address how the close connection between philosophy and medicine is possible, by emphasizing the entanglement between medical, philosophical and moral points of views. (shrink)
The article explores aspects of the notion of forms of life in the Wittgensteinian tradition especially following Iris Murdoch’s lead. On the one hand, the notion signals the hardness and inexhaustible character of reality, as the background needed in order to make sense of our lives in various ways. On the other, the hardness of reality is the object of a moral work of apprehension and deepening to the point at which its distinctive character dissolves into the family of connections (...) we have gained for ourselves. The two movements of thought are connected and necessary. (shrink)
Je vais évoquer ici la pertinence des concepts d’éthique au moyen de quelques réflexions sur le concept d’être humain. C’est là une notion cruciale parce que nous comprenons ce que signifie s’engager dans certaines activités dans la mesure où elles sont perçues comme humaines. La pensée morale est l’une de ces activités ; et par « moralité »..