Most philosophers have given up George Berkeley’s proof for the existence of God as a lost cause, for in it, Berkeley seems to conclude more than he actually shows. I defend the proof by showing that its conclusion is not the thesis that an infinite and perfect God exists, but rather the much weaker thesis that a very powerful God exists and that this God’s agency is pervasive in nature. This interpretation, I argue, is consistent with the texts. It is (...) also an important component of Berkeley’s philosophical project, which consists of launching many small arguments against his philosophical and theological opponents. (shrink)
Portraits of patients served many clinical functions in eighteenth-century medic John Hunter's medical practice. As incarnations of medical skills and medical knowledge, they helped Hunter understand his patients’ problems. They could also bridge the physical absence of his patients, and so help him discuss cases at a distance with other members of the medical faculty. Moreover, portraits complemented text in his day-to-day practice; portraits were in no way an ancillary medium for Hunter, but rather a fundamental way (...) of working. Meanwhile, the role of Hunter's assistants as medically trained artists complicates typical historical models of patient–practitioner interactions, and affects how patients were objectified by modes of looking and by art. (shrink)
Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories secure rigidity for indexicals by positing special contexts and semantic mechanisms reserved only for indexicals. The result is a deep and unexplained chasm between expressions that depend on the extra-linguistic context and expressions that depend on the discourse context. Theories that treat indexicals as anaphoric, presuppositional expressions (e.g., Zeevat 1999; Roberts 2002; Hunter & Asher 2005; Maier 2006, 2009) have the potential to be more minimal and general than Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories—the mechanism of presupposition, unlike that (...) of Kaplanian character, is useful for the semantics of a great many expressions. Maier (2006, 2009), however, has argued that presuppositional theories of indexicals must be supplemented with a two-dimensional semantics in order to secure rigidity for indexicals. If this is right, then presuppositional theories of indexicals will suffer from the limitations of Kaplan's system. This article argues that Maier is not right on this point: presuppositions can completely replace Kaplanian characters. A presuppositional theory can secure rigidity for indexicals without positing two independent dimensions of meaning that can never interact; in particular, it can do so without positing that indexicals have a special kind of meaning that by its nature can never interact with the kind of meaning that Kaplan called ‘content’. The result is a more general, minimal and flexible theory that better handles the data on indexicals. (shrink)
In these essays, Hugh J. McCann develops a unified perspective on human action. Written over a period of twenty-five years, the essays provide a comprehensive survey of the major topics in contemporary action theory. In four sections, the book addresses the ontology of action ; the foundations of action ; intention, will, and freedom; and practical rationality. McCann works out a compromise between competing perspectives on the individuation of action ; explores the foundations of action and defends a volitional (...) theory; argues for a libertarian view of both the formation and the execution of intention; and considers the question of consistency in rational intentions, as well as the relationship between practical and theoretical reasoning. -/- Among the original features of McCann's work are his defense of both fine- and coarse-grained actions and his arguments for a noncausal theory of the relation between intention and action. He also suggests that intentions need not be consistent, either with each other or with beliefs about success. And he contends that intention formation is an intrinsically ratiocinative procedure, distinct from reasoning about what action would be best. (shrink)
Ineffability—that which cannot be explained in words—lies at the heart of the Christian mystical tradition. It has also been part of every discussion of religious experience since the early twentieth century. Despite this centrality, ineffability is a concept that has largely been ignored by philosophers of religion. In this book, Bennett-Hunter builds on the recent work of David E. Cooper, who argues that the meaning of life can only be understood in terms of an ineffable source on which life (...) depends, and engages with the work of continental philosophers, such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Karl Jaspers. This is the first book to explore the concept of ineffability within contemporary philosophy of religion and provides a starting point for further scholarly debate. It will be of interest to scholars of philosophy of religion, theology, existentialism and phenomenology. -/- 'Bennett Hunter’s book is a timely contribution to the growing theological and philosophical literature on mystery and ineffability. Written in a lucid and elegant style, the book makes a convincing case for the ineffability of religious experience and explores its relationship to a sense that our lives are answerable to such experience.' — David E. Cooper. -/- 'Philosophers have long concentrated on linguistic forms in a way that has isolated language from the rest of life, and this isolation has increasingly obscured for them the vast range of things that cannot be spoken. Bennett-Hunter is not the first philosopher to try and map this distracted field, but he is remarkable in the width and sympathy of his approach to the highly various thinkers whom he invokes to illuminate it.' — Mary Midgley. (shrink)
The following are not among the least puzzling remarks in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations : 572. Expectation is, grammatically, a state; like: being of an opinion, hoping for something, knowing something, being able to do something. But in order to understand the grammar of these states it is necessary to ask: ‘What counts as a criterion for anyone's being in such a state?’ 573.… What, in particular cases, do we regard as criteria for someone's being of such and such an opinion? (...) When do we say: he reached this opinion at that time? When he has altered his opinion? And so on. The picture which the answers to these questions give us shews what gets treated grammatically as a state here. (shrink)
It is a curious thing about the philosophy of mind, that it includes surprisingly little about minds. In an average anthology on the subject, or a book like Ryle's, one finds discussions of thinking, imagining, believing, willing, remembering, and so on, but not of minds. It seems to be assumed that investigating these topics is investigating minds; but whether that is true is not itself made a topic for investigation.
Ebbs’s aim is to “come to terms with and move beyond currently entrenched ways of looking at central topics in the philosophy of language and mind”. The entrenched perspectives are Metaphysical Realism, the view that “we can make ‘objective’ assertions only if we can ‘grasp’ metaphysically independent ‘truth conditions”’, and Scientific Naturalism, “Quine’s view that ‘it is within science itself that reality is to be identified and described”’. Ebbs intends to replace these with what he calls the “Participant Perspective,” from (...) which alone, he says, a satisfactory understanding of our linguistic behavior can be had. His work constitutes, I think, a stimulating and highly original contribution to the field. (shrink)
With this work J. B. Schneewind has provided the most comprehensive history of modern moral philosophy available in English. Beginning with the moral theology of the Reformation and ending with Kant, Schneewind’s book offers a panorama of moral philosophy that includes the early modern natural lawyers and their metaphysical critics, the British sentimentalists and their rationalist opponents, and a whole series of eighteenth-century attempts to develop a secular moral philosophy grounded in autonomous human reason and will. Despite its broader multinational (...) scope and its focus on ethics rather than epistemology, Schneewind’s book seems destined to replace Beck’s Early German Philosophy: Kant and his Predecessors, as culminating and summating the work of the next generation of scholars working within the historiographical canons of American Kantianism. (shrink)
Hugh H. Benson explores Plato's answer to Clitophon's challenge, the question of how one can acquire the knowledge Socrates argues is essential to human flourishing-knowledge we all seem to lack. Plato suggests two methods by which this knowledge may be gained: the first is learning from those who already have the knowledge one seeks, and the second is discovering the knowledge one seeks on one's own. The book begins with a brief look at some of the Socratic dialogues where (...) Plato appears to recommend the former approach while simultaneously indicating various difficulties in pursuing it. The remainder of the book focuses on Plato's recommendation in some of his most important and central dialogues-the Meno, Phaedo, and Republic-for carrying out the second approach: de novo inquiry. The book turns first to the famous paradox concerning the possibility of such an inquiry and explores Plato's apparent solution. Having defended the possibility of de novo inquiry as a response to Clitophon's challenge, Plato explains the method or procedure by which such inquiry is to be carried out. The book defends the controversial thesis that the method of hypothesis, as described and practiced in the Meno, Phaedo, and Republic, is, when practiced correctly, Plato's recommended method of acquiring on one's own the essential knowledge we lack. The method of hypothesis when practiced correctly is, then, Platonic dialectic, and this is Plato's response to Clitophon's challenge. (shrink)
Exploring the role of values in scientific inquiry, Hugh Lacey examines the nature and meaning of values, and looks at challenges to the view, posed by postmodernists, feminists, radical ecologists, Third-World advocates and religious fundamentalists, that science is value free. He also focuses on discussions of 'development', especially in Third World countries. This paperback edition includes a new preface.
This paper argues that it is possible to knowingly believe something while judging that one ought not to believe it and (so) viewing the belief as manifesting a sort of failure. I offer examples showing that such ‘alienated belief’ has several potential sources. I contrast alienated belief with self-deception, incontinent (or akratic) belief and half-belief. I argue that the possibility of alienated belief is compatible with the so-called ‘transparency’ of first-person reflection on belief, and that the descriptive and expressive difficulties (...) it involves stem from well-understood sources. I conclude by speculating that endorsed belief is in important respects like intentional action. Reflection on the possibility of alienated belief may thus help us to see one respect in which an agent can be responsible for her attitudes. (shrink)
While the early Platonic dialogues have often been explored and appreciated for their ethical content, this is the first book devoted solely to the epistemology of Plato's early dialogues. Author Hugh H. Benson argues that the characteristic features of these dialogues- -Socrates' method of questions and answers, his fascination with definition, his professions of ignorance, and his thesis that virtue is knowledge- -are decidedly epistemological. In this thoughtful study, Benson uncovers the model of knowledge that underlies these distinctively Socratic (...) views. What emerges is unfamiliar, yet closer to a contemporary conception of scientific understanding than ordinary knowledge. (shrink)
There is a well-entrenched schism on the frequency, intensity, and evolutionary significance of warfare among hunter-gatherers compared with large-scale societies. To simplify, Rousseauians argue that warfare among prehistoric and contemporary hunter-gatherers was nearly absent and, if present, was a late cultural invention. In contrast, so-called Hobbesians argue that violence was relatively common but variable among hunter-gatherers. To defend their views, Rousseauians resort to a variety of tactics to diminish the apparent frequency and intensity of hunter-gatherer warfare. (...) These tactics include redefining war, censoring ethnographic accounts of warfare in comparative analyses, misconstruing archaeological evidence, and claiming that outside contact inflates the intensity of warfare among hunter-gatherers. These tactics are subject to critical analysis and are mostly found to be wanting. Furthermore, Hobbesians with empirical data have already established that the frequency and intensity of hunter-gatherer warfare is greater compared with large-scale societies even though horticultural societies engage in warfare more intensively than hunter-gatherers. In the end I argue that although war is a primitive trait we may share with chimpanzees and/or our last common ancestor, the ability of hunter-gatherer bands to live peaceably with their neighbors, even though war may occur, is a derived trait that fundamentally distinguishes us socially and politically from chimpanzee societies. It is a point often lost in these debates. (shrink)
Although history is the pre-eminent part of the gallant sciences, philosophers advise against it from fear that it might completely destroy the kingdom of darkness—that is, scholastic philosophy—which previously has been wrongly held to be a necessary instrument of theology.
Presently, there is a movement in the UK research governance framework towards what is referred to as proportional ethical review. Proportional ethical review is the notion that the level of ethical review and scrutiny given to a research project ought to reflect the level of ethical risk represented by that project. Relatively innocuous research should receive relatively minimal review and relatively risky research should receive intense scrutiny. Although conceptually attractive, the notion of proportional review depends on the possibility of effectively (...) identifying the risks and ethical issues posed by an application with some process other than a full review by a properly constituted research ethics committee. In this paper, it is argued that this cannot be achieved and that the only appropriate means of identifying risks and ethical issues is consideration by a full committee. This implies that the suggested changes to the National Health Service research ethics system presently being consulted on should be strenuously resisted. (shrink)
_Brute Science_ investigates whether biomedical research using animals is, in fact, scientifically justified. Hugh LaFollette and Niall Shanks examine the issues in scientific terms using the models that scientists themselves use. They argue that we need to reassess our use of animals and, indeed, rethink the standard positions in the debate.
This paper argues that today’s dominant understanding of secularization — as an epochal transition from a society based on religious belief to one based on autonomous human reason — first appeared in philosophical histories at the beginning of the nineteenth century and was then anachronistically applied to early modern Europe. Apart from the earlier and persisting canon-law use of the term to refer to a species of exclaustration, prior to 1800 the standard lexicographical meaning of secularization was determined by its (...) use in public law and diplomacy to name the civil conversion of ecclesiastical property and jurisdiction. Prior to the same point the most important use of the adjective secular was in political jurisprudence as a synonym for temporal, civil, and political, to name a religious-political settlement from which rival theologies had been excluded as the condition of its negotiation. But this usage was domain-specific, was quite compatible with religious devotion, and had nothing to do with the putatively secular character of the spheres of philosophy or the natural sciences, thence “society”. Far from seeing a shift from religious belief to autonomous rationality, early modernity in fact witnessed a significant intensification of religious belief and practice under the impact of rival confessional movements. It also emerges that the nineteenth century was characterised not by the supersession of confessional religions — or their conversion into rational religion or moral philosophy — but by their remarkable persistence and adaptation to new circumstances. In light of this, the paper argues that the variant philosophical-historical conceptions of secularization — as the epochal supersession of religious belief by human rationality — should not be understood as theories of a putative process but as “combat concepts”. These were internal to an array of rival cultural-political factions that first emerged in early nineteenth-century Protestant Germany and that continue to do battle today. (shrink)
A striking cross-linguistic generalisation about the semantics of determiners is that they never express non-conservative relations. To account for this one might hypothesise that the mechanisms underlying human language acquisition are unsuited to non-conservative determiner meanings. We present experimental evidence that 4- and 5-year-olds fail to learn a novel non-conservative determiner but succeed in learning a comparable conservative determiner, consistent with the learnability hypothesis.
A natural view is that linguistic understanding is a source of justification or evidence: that beliefs about the meaning of a text or speech act are prima facie justified when based on states of understanding. Neglect of this view is largely due to the widely held assumption that understanding a text or speech act consists in knowledge or belief. It is argued that this assumption rests, in part, on confusing occurrent states of understanding and dispositions to understand. It is then (...) argued that occurrent states of understanding are not states of belief of knowledge since a subject may fail to believe that a text or speech act means what she understands it to mean if she doubts the reliability or truth- fulness of that understanding. States of understanding, it is maintained, belong in the same epistemic category as states of perception and memory. (shrink)
Do you see now why it feels so good to be a critical mind? Why critique, this most ambiguous pharmakon, has become such a potent euphoric drug? You are always right! When naïve believers are clinging forcefully to their objects... you can turn all of those attachments into so many fetishes and humiliate all the believers by showing that it is nothing but their own projection, that you, yes you alone, can see. But as soon as naïve believers are thus (...) inflated by some belief in their own importance, in their own projective capacity, you strike them by a second uppercut and humiliate them again, this time by showing that, whatever they think, their behavior is entirely determined by the action of powerful causalities coming from objective reality they don't see, but that you, yes you, the never sleeping critic, alone can see. Isn't this fabulous? Isn't it really worth going to graduate school to study critique? (shrink)
Since Dilthey’s template study of 1890, the Prussian state’s attempt to censor Kant’s religious writings has typically been seen as the work of a reactionary politics bent on imposing religious orthodoxy as a bulwark against the spread of Aufklärung. This paper offers a revisionist interpretation, arguing that the attempted censoring was a by-product of a set of a longstanding Religionspolitik designed to achieve religious toleration through a system of regulated public confessions. Reaffirmed in the Religious Edict (1788) and the Censorship (...) Edict (1788), Prussian policy required acceptance of a plurality of public confessions whose stability was preserved through the restriction of public proselytising and the acceptance of private religious freedom. In breaking with this religious settlement, through their public advocacy of a true ‘religion of reason’, the religious rationalists of the theological Aufklärung breached the embargo on public proselytising, leading eventually to government’s attempt to censor Kant’s own ‘pure religion of reason’. (shrink)
Widescopism, as I call it, holds that names are synonymous with descriptions that are required to take wide scope over modal adverbs. Scott Soames has recently argued that Widescopism is false. He identifies an argument that is valid but which, he claims, a defender of Widescopism must say has true premises and a false conclusion. I argue, first, that a defender of Widescopism need not in fact say that the target arguments conclusion is false. Soames argument that she must confuses, (...) I claim, modal adverbs and modal predicates. I then argue that even if she did reject the conclusion, she could nonetheless hold that the target arguments first premise is ambiguous as between a true reading, on which the argument is invalid, and a false reading, on which the argument is valid. I conclude that Soames argument against Widescopism fails. (shrink)
The following is a reflection on the possibility of teaching by example, and especially as the idea of teaching by example is developed in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. My thesis is that Rousseau created a literary version of himself in his writings as an embodiment of his philosophy, rather in the same way and with the same purpose that Plato created a version of Socrates. This figure of Rousseau—a sort of philosophical portrait of the man of nature—is represented as (...) an example for us to follow. This would appear to have been dangerous and destabilizing work, given the mental distress that it caused Rousseau in striving to live up to his fictional self. Rousseau's own ideas on the nature of teaching by example are presented in a discussion of the section in ‘Emile’ which Rousseau takes from an incident in his own life—the story of his meeting with a young Savoyard priest who befriended him and influenced him through the power of his example. (shrink)