If I say “we are now living in England” or “grass is green in summer’ or ‘the cat is on the mat’ what I say will normally be true or false—the statements are true if they correctly report how things are, or correspond to the facts; and if they do not do these things, they are false. Such a statement will only fail to have a truth-value if its referring expressions fail to refer ; or if the statement lies on (...) the border between truth and falsity so that it is as true to say that the statement is true as to say that it is false. Are moral judgments normally true or false in the way in which the above statements are true or false? I will term the view that they are objectivism and the view that they are not subjectivism. The objectivist maintains that it is as much a fact about an action that it is right or wrong as that it causes pain or takes a long time to perform. The subjectivist maintains that saying than an action is right or wrong is not stating a fact about it but merely expressing approval of it or commending it or doing some such similar thing. I wish in this paper, first, to show that all arguments for subjectivism manifestly fail, and secondly to produce a strong argument for objectivism. But, to start with, some preliminaries. (shrink)
If there is room for a substantial conception of the will in contemporary theorizing about human agency, it is most likely to be found in the vicinity of the phenomenon of normativity. Rational agency is distinctively responsive to the agent's acknowledgment of reasons, in the basic sense of considerations that speak for and against the alternatives for action that are available. Furthermore, it is natural to suppose that this kind of responsiveness to reasons is possible only for creatures who possess (...) certain unusual volitional powers, beyond the bare susceptibility to beliefs and desires necessary for the kind of rudimentary agency of which the higher animals are arguably capable. (shrink)
On what grounds will the rational man become a Christian? It is often assumed by many, especially non-Christians, that he will become a Christian if and only if he judges that the evidence available to him shows that it is more likely than not that the Christian theological system is true, that, in mathematical terms, on the evidence available to him, the probability of its truth is greater than half. It is the purpose of this paper to investigate whether or (...) not this is a necessary and sufficient condition for the rational man to adopt Christianity. (shrink)
We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
This Companion provides a fresh and comprehensive account of this outstanding work, which remains among the most frequently read works of Greek philosophy, indeed of Classical antiquity in general. The sixteen essays, by authors who represent various academic disciplines, bring a spectrum of interpretive approaches to bear in order to aid the understanding of a wide-ranging audience, from first-time readers of the Republic who require guidance, to more experienced readers who wish to explore contemporary currents in the work’s interpretation. The (...) three initial chapters address aspects of the work as a whole. They are followed by essays that match closely the sequence in which topics are presented in the ten books of the Republic. Since the Republic returns frequently to the same topics by different routes, so do the authors of this volume, who provide the readers with divergent yet complementary perspectives by which to appreciate the Republic’s principal concerns. (shrink)
I propose to begin with some fairly unexciting and uncontroversial remarks about possibility-statements, and then in their light to examine two problems philosophers have raised about certain statements of this kind which might be made in Christian theology where it touches on the doctrine of the Incarnation.
Mr Olding's recent attack on my exposition of the argument from design gives me an opportunity to defend the central theses of my original article. My article pointed out that there were arguments from design of two types—those which take as their premisses regularities of copresence and those which take as their premisses regularities of succession. I sought to defend an argument of the second type. One merit of such an argument is that there is no doubt about the truth (...) of its premisses. Almost all objects in the world behave in a highly regular way describable by scientific laws. Further, any scientific explanation of such a regularity must invoke some more general regularity. The most general regularities of all are, as such, scientifically inexplicable. The question arises whether there is a possible explanation of another kind which can be provided for them, and whether their occurrence gives any or much support to that explanation. I urged that we do explain some phenomena by explanation of an entirely different kind from the scientific. We explain states of affairs by the action of agents who bring them about intentionally of their own choice. Regularities of succession, as well as other phenomena may be explained in this way. Explanation of this kind I will term intentional explanation. Intentional explanation of some phenomenon E consists in adducing an agent A who brought E about of his own choice and a further end G which, he believed, would be forwarded by the production of E. (shrink)
The ‘traditional’ view among philosophical theologians, that God is eternal not merely in the sense of being everlasting but in the sense of being outside time altogether, has come under sharp criticism in recent years, both from biblical theologians and from philosophers. It is against the latter form of attack, particularly as represented by the detailed criticisms of Professor Nelson Pike, that I wish to try and defend the notion of a divine timelessness.
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he (...) argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
Abstract In this article, which is the first of two to examine the ideas of R. S. Peters on moral education, consideration is given to his justificatory arguments found in Ethics and Education. Here he employs presupposition arguments to show to what anyone engaging in moral discourse is committed. The result is a group of procedural principles which are recommended to be employed in moral education. This article is an attempt to examine the presupposition arguments Peters employs, to comment on (...) the procedural principles he believes are presupposed, and to consider the strength of the presupposition argument. My conclusion is that Peters's arguments fail to establish the conclusion he arrives at, and that any gains from the form of argument he uses are hollow. (shrink)
This essay is a review of Ronald Dworkin's recent essay on equality of resources. Many of the ideas discussed by Dworkin have also been examined by economists with, I believe, considerable insight. Unfortunately, economists tend to write for economists, not for philosophers, and their insights are seldom communicated properly to noneconomists. Of course, the same criticism can be levied on philosophers! But perhaps legal theorists are less subject to this criticism. One of the great contributions of Dworkin is that he (...) is very readable; and the quality of his exposition makes these ideas accessible to a wide audience of philosophers, lawyers, and social scientists in general. (shrink)
Markets, it is sometimes said, are hard on discrimination. An employer who finds himself refusing to hire qualified blacks and women will, in the long run, lose out to those who are willing to draw from a broader labor pool. Employer discrimination amounts to a self-destructive “taste” – self-destructive because employers who indulge that taste add to the costs of doing business. Added costs can only hurt. To put it simply, bigots are weak competitors. The market will drive them out. (...) On this account, the persistence of employment discrimination on the basis of race and sex presents something of a puzzle. And if markets are an ally of equality and a foe of employment discrimination, perhaps discrimination persists because of something other than markets. Perhaps labor unions are to blame; perhaps the real culprit is the extensive federal regulation of the employment market, including minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws and unemployment compensation. If competitive markets drive out discrimination, the problem for current federal policy lies not in the absence of aggressive anti-discrimination law, but instead in the absence of truly competitive markets. If this account is correct, the prescription for the future of anti-discrimination law is to seek ways to free up employers from the wide range of governmental disabilities – including, in fact, anti-discrimination law itself. The argument seems to be bolstered by the fact that some groups subject to past and present prejudice – most notably, Jews and Asian-Americans – have made substantial progress in employment at least in part because of the operation of competitive markets. (shrink)
… the supreme end, the happiness of all mankind. The law concerning punishment is a Categorical Imperative; and woe to him who rummages around in the winding paths of a theory of happiness, looking for some advantage to be gained by releasing the criminal from punishment or by reducing the amount of it.
G. E. Moore's ‘A Defence of Common Sense’ has generated the kind of interest and contrariety which often accompany what is new, provocative, and even important in philosophy. Moore himself reportedly agreed with Wittgenstein's estimate that this was his best article, while C. D. Broad has lamented its very great but largely unfortunate influence. Although the essay inspired Wittgenstein to explore the basis of Moore's claim to know many propositions of common sense to be true, A. J. Ayer judges its (...) enduring value to lie in provoking a more sophisticated conception of the very type of metaphysics which disputes any such unqualified claim of certainty. (shrink)
In late January of 1987, the State Treasurer of Pennsylvania, R. Budd Dwyer, shot himself to death in front of a dozen reporters and camera crews during a news conference in his office. Much was subsequently made in the popular press, and within the profession, about the difficult ethical decision television journalists were faced with in determining how much of the very graphic suicide tape to air. A review of the literature in this area suggests, however, that journalists have established (...) a set of relatively detailed conventions for dealing with events involving graphic depictions of death. Analysis of the Dwyer tape and interviews conducted with Pennsylvania television news directors show that eighteen of the twenty stations in the state that carry news used basically the same type and amount of footage in their evening newscasts. One decided to use no tape. One showed the moment of death. When the story broke around noon, two additional stations showed the moment of suicide, but they revised their story for the evening program. In addition, the wide majority of news directors interviewed said they had little difficulty in deciding how to edit the tape. The processing of the Dwyer story suggests that any ethical dilemmas faced by journalists during decision making were put aside for later consideration. The material was edited quickly and according to similar patterns, or conventions, around the state. The study suggests greater attention be given to the definition and interaction of personal professional values, in the ethical sense, and norms of news processing, in the sociological sense. (shrink)
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having achieved my life's ambition, to find a way of answering moral questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded on the mountain top by the graves of all (...) those other philosophers, great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had achieved it. And I have come to see, reflecting on my dream, that, ever since, the hard-working philosophical worms have been nibbling away at their systems and showing that the achievement was an illusion. True, their skeletons, indigestible to worms, remained, and were surprisingly similar to one another. But I was led to think again about what one can, and what one cannot, achieve in this direction. (shrink)
In this paper I ask whether in Aristotle's metaphysical system the form of a non-living sensible substance, such as the form of this house, is or is not universal. I argue that his position as it stands is self-contradictory, and then try to give some account of the pressures that led to this central contradiction in Aristotle's metaphysical thought.
My argument will be that our understanding of human beings, which is what I take the Christian doctrine of man to be concerned with, will benefit considerably from an examination of two different but related clusters of human attitudes which can be found respectively under the headings ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’. There are many pitfalls in the way of such an enterprise, and occasionally some prejudices to be overcome. For example L. E. Loemker in the relevant articles in the Encyclopedia of (...) Philosophy concludes a fairly lengthy discussion with the rather terminal judgement. (shrink)
E.R. Dodds’ 1959 edition of Plato’s Gorgias is a conventional treatment of this dialogue, aimed at audiences interested in close study of the text. Dodds himself regretted this outcome. He felt he had lost sight of an earlier goal, formulated at a time of political turmoil on the eve of WorldWar II, of using the Gorgias to bring out ‘both the resemblance and the difference between Plato’s situation and that of the intellectual today’. The present paper attempts to reconstruct that (...) goal, as it survives residually in his edition, surfaces in his The Greeks and the Irrational, and appears in some writings from the 1930s, particularly in unpublished lectures. Dodds did frequently juxtapose ancient and modern conceptions of the intellectual, and in a way that cast Plato in a positive light, as someone politically engaged and self-critical, and acutely sensitive, as Dodds himself was, to the political implications of social psychology. (shrink)
Arguments move from premises to conclusions. The premises state things taken temporally for granted; if the argument works, the premises provide grounds for affirming the conclusion. A valid deductive argument is one in which the premises necessitate, that is, entail, the conclusion. What I shall call a ‘correct’ inductive argument is one in which the premises in some degree probabilify the conclusion, but do not necessitate it. More precisely, in what I shall call a correct P -inductive argument the premises (...) make the conclusion probable ; in what I shall call a correct C -inductive argument, the premises add to the probability of the conclusion . Arguments only show their conclusions to be true if they start from true premises; arguments of the above types which work and do start from such premises I will call sound arguments. Arguments are only of use to show to an individual that the conclusion is true if he already knows the premises to be true. Most of what I shall have to say today concerns arguments with respect to which there is no doubt that the premises are true. (shrink)
In the last ten years or so there has been some lively discussion of the questions of immortality and resurrection. Within the Christian tradition there has been debate at theological and exegetical level over the relative merits of belief in the immortality of the soul, and belief in the resurrection of the dead as an account of life after death. Further to this, however, there has been the suggestion that there may be good philosophical reasons for preferring the latter to (...) the former. It is just this contention which I propose to discuss. (shrink)