This article investigates the claim that some truths are fundamentally or really true — and that other truths are not. Such a distinction can help us reconcile radically minimal metaphysical views with the verities of common sense. I develop an understanding of the distinction whereby Fundamentality is not itself a metaphysical distinction, but rather a device that must be presupposed to express metaphysical distinctions. Drawing on recent work by Rayo on anti-Quinean theories of ontological commitments, I formulate a rigourous theory (...) of the notion. In the final sections, I show how this package dovetails with ' interpretationist' theories of meaning to give sober content to thought that some things — perhaps sets, or gerrymandered mereological sums — can be 'postulated into existence'. (shrink)
This paper examines two puzzles of indeterminacy. The first puzzle concerns the hypothesis that there is a unified phenomenon of indeterminacy. How are we to reconcile this with the apparent diversity of reactions that indeterminacy prompts? The second puzzle focuses narrowly on borderline cases of vague predicates. How are we to account for the lack of theoretical consensus about what the proper reaction to borderline cases is? I suggest (building on work by Maudlin) that the characteristic feature of indeterminacy is (...) alethic normative silence, and use this to explain both plurality and lack of consensus. (shrink)
In the literature on supervaluationism, a central source of concern has been the acceptability, or otherwise, of its alleged logical revisionism. I attack the presupposition of this debate: arguing that when properly construed, there is no sense in which supervaluational consequence is revisionary. I provide new considerations supporting the claim that the supervaluational consequence should be characterized in a ‘global’ way. But pace Williamson (1994) and Keefe (2000), I argue that supervaluationism does not give rise to counterexamples to familiar inference-patterns (...) such as reductio and conditional proof. (shrink)
We discuss arguments against the thesis that the world itself can be vague. The first section of the paper distinguishes dialectically effective from ineffective arguments against metaphysical vagueness. The second section constructs an argument against metaphysical vagueness that promises to be of the dialectically effective sort: an argument against objects with vague parts. Firstly, cases of vague parthood commit one to cases of vague identity. But we argue that Evans' famous argument against will not on its own enable one to (...) complete the reductio in the present context. We provide a metaphysical premise that would complete the reductio, but note that it seems deniable. We conclude by drawing general morals from our case study. (shrink)
This book demonstrates that law can be newly interrogated when examined through the lens of literature. Like its forerunner, Empty Justice, the book creates simple pathways which energise and illustrate the links between legal theory and legal science and doctrine, through the wider visions of history, literature and culture. This broadening approach is integral to understanding law in the context of wider debates and media in the community. The book provides a collection of essays, with additional commentary which reflects upon (...) very recent scholarship and debate on a range of ethico-legal topics; it also illustrates how conventional legal matters may be rendered lively and palatable, as an adjunct to approaching doctrine and cases 'cold' in the conventional textbook manner. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. (shrink)
This paper outlines Lewis’s favoured foundational account of linguistic representation, and outlines and briefly evaluates variations and modifications. Section 1 gives an opinionated exegesis of Lewis’ work on the foundations of reference—his interpretationism. I look at the way that the metaphysical distinction between natural and non-natural properties came to play a central role in his thinking about language. Lewis’s own deployment of this notion has implausible commitments, so in section 2 I consider variations and alternatives. Section 3 briefly considers a (...) buck-passing strategy involving fine-grained linguistic conventions. (shrink)
*This work has turned into a bigger project, and some of it is published in "Lewis on reference".* Some things, argues Lewis, are just better candidates to be referents than others. Even at the cost of attributing false beliefs, we interpret people as referring to the most interesting kinds in their vicinity. How should this be accounted for? In section 1, I look at Lewis’s interpretationism, and the reference magnetism it builds in (not just for ‘perfectly natural’ properties, but for (...) certain kinds of auxiliary apparatus). In section 2, I draw on (Field, 1975) to argue that what properties are reference magnetic may be an ultimately conventional matter—though in the Lewisian setting, there may be an objectively best conventional choice to make. But Lewis’s own account has implausible commitments, so in section 3 I consider variations and alternatives, all of which have problems. In section 4, I look in more detail at eligibility-based interpretationism that do not appeal to naturalness, arguing that there are credible metasemantic theories of this form. (shrink)
*This work is no longer under development* Two major themes in the literature on indicative conditionals are that the content of indicative conditionals typically depends on what is known;1 that conditionals are intimately related to conditional probabilities.2 In possible world semantics for counterfactual conditionals, a standard assumption is that conditionals whose antecedents are metaphysically impossible are vacuously true.3 This aspect has recently been brought to the fore, and defended by Tim Williamson, who uses it in to characterize alethic necessity by (...) exploiting such equivalences as: A⇔¬A A. One might wish to postulate an analogous connection for indicative conditionals, with indicatives whose antecedents are epistemically impossible being vacuously true: and indeed, the modal account of indicative conditionals of Brian Weatherson has exactly this feature.4 This allows one to characterize an epistemic modal by the equivalence A⇔¬A→A. For simplicity, in what follows we write A as KA and think of it as expressing that subject S knows that A.5 The connection to probability has received much attention. Stalnaker suggested, as a way of articulating the ‘Ramsey Test’, the following very general schema for indicative conditionals relative to some probability function P: P = P 1For example, Nolan ; Weatherson ; Gillies. 2For example Stalnaker ; McGee ; Adams. 3Lewis. See Nolan for criticism. 4‘epistemically possible’ here means incompatible with what is known. 5This idea was suggested to me in conversation by John Hawthorne. I do not know of it being explored in print. The plausibility of this characterization will depend on the exact sense of ‘epistemically possible’ in play—if it is compatibility with what a single subject knows, then can be read ‘the relevant subject knows that p’. If it is more delicately formulated, we might be able to read as the epistemic modal ‘must’. (shrink)
Taking away grains from a heap of rice, at what point is there no longer a heap? It seems small changes – removing a single grain – can’t make a difference to whether or not something is a heap; but big changes obviously do. How can this be, since big changes are nothing but small changes chained together?
Objectives - To explore the wvay ethical principles develop during a medical education course for three groups of medical students - in their first year, at the beginning of their penultimate (fifth) year and towards the end of their final (sixth) year. Design - Survey questionnaire administered to medical students in their first, fifth and final (sixth) year. Setting - A large medical school in Queensland, Australia. Survey sample - Approximately half the students in each of three years (first, fifth (...) and sixth) provided data on a voluntary basis, a total of 385 students. Results - At the point of entry, minor differences were found between medical students and first year law and psychology students. More striking were differences between male and female medical students, suggesting early socialization had a substantial impact here. Conclusions - Results indicate that substantial changes in attitude have developed by the beginning of fifth year with little change thereafter. Gender difference persisted. Some difference in ethical attitudes were found when groups of different ethnic backgrounds were compared. The impact of a move to a graduate medical course, which gives high priority to ethics within a professional development domain, can now be evaluated. (shrink)
Two rotational bands have been identified and characterized in the proton-magic N = Z + 1 nucleus Ni-57. These bands complete the systematics of well-and superdeformed rotational bands in the light nickel isotopes starting from doubly magic Ni-56 to Ni-60. High-spin states in Ni-57 have been produced in the fusion-evaporation reaction Si-28(S-32, 2p1n)Ni-57 and studied with the gamma-ray detection array GAMMASPHERE operated in conjunction with detectors for evaporated light charged particles and neutrons. The features of the rotational bands in Ni-57 (...) are compared to those of neighbouring isotopes and interpreted by means of configuration-dependent cranked Nilsson-Strutinsky calculations. The two observed high-spin bands are considered signature partners and assigned to configurations with one 1g(9/2) proton and one 1g(9/2) neutron, resulting in an unambiguous understanding of the energetically favoured signature alpha = -1/2 band but a somewhat less satisfactory description of the signature alpha = +1/2 band. (shrink)
High-spin states in the odd-odd N = Z nucleus Co-54 have been investigated by the fusion-evaporation reaction Si-28(S-32,1 alpha 1p1n)Co-54. Gamma-ray information gathered with the Ge detector array Gammasphere was correlated with evaporated particles detected in the charged particle detector system Microball and a 1 pi neutron detector array. A significantly extended excitation scheme of Co-54 is presented, which includes a candidate for the isospin T = 1, 6(+) state of the 1f(7/2)(-2) multiplet. The results are compared to large-scale shell-model (...) calculations in the fp shell. Effective interactions with and without isospin-breaking terms have been used to probe isospin symmetry and isospin mixing. A quest for deformed high-spin rotational cascades proved negative. This feature is discussed by means of cranking calculations. (shrink)
A substantial body of evidence suggests that autobiographical recollection and simulation of future happenings activate a shared neural network. Many of the neural regions implicated in this network are affected in patients with bipolar disorder , showing altered metabolic functioning and/or structural volume abnormalities. Studies of autobiographical recall in BD reveal overgeneralization, where autobiographical memory comprises primarily factual or repeated information as opposed to details specific in time and in place and definitive of re-experiencing. To date, no study has examined (...) whether these deficits extend to future event simulation. We examined the ability of patients with BD and controls to imagine positive, negative and neutral future events using a modified version of the Autobiographical Interview that allowed for separation of episodic and non-episodic details. Patients were selectively impaired in imagining future positive, negative, and neutral episodic details; simulation of non-episodic details was equivalent across groups. (shrink)
How do thought and language manage to be 'about' aspects of the world? J. Robert G. Williams investigates how representation arises out of a fundamentally non-representational world, showing the explanatory relations between the representational properties of language, of thought, and of perception and intention.
The point of departure in this work is a defense against that view which would hold Hegel to be a glorifier of the Prussian state, a reactionary, and an enemy of freedom. Hegel, as the work illustrates, recognized that the French Revolution only annihilated what was already in itself destroyed; and he saluted it with "rapture" as the coming of a "new dawn" in the preface of the Encyclopaedia. He continued to celebrate its anniversary even while at the same time (...) and with no less intensity holding before himself an awareness of the dangers and horrors which it occasioned. In fact, Ritter submits that one might well understand the idea of freedom brandished by the Revolution to be the fundamental element of Hegel’s entire philosophy. Hegel disengages the notion of freedom from all previous connections which, over the centuries, have distorted it, and recovers the classic definition of Aristotle : "free is the man who is for himself and not for another." Political order must guarantee this possibility. The problem posited by the Revolution is: how? Hegel, the supposed "reactionary," in all his writings, both public and private, was consistently opposed, and occasionally with passion, to any political restoration. Yet one should also take notice of Hegel’s extreme and profound antipathy for the associations of students and demagogical movements, which he saw had no rapport with the real political and historical events of the time. Both the romantic liberal and the romantic conservative united in "hatred against the law." They were concerned not with freedom as such, but with political activity which pretended to be in its service, spewing platitudes which would renounce all searching knowledge and make truth an affair of the heart, the soul, or enthusiasm. Hegel alone, with perhaps the exception of Goethe, perceived the profound danger of anarchy revealed in these movements, a danger menacing to all, when one elevates pure subjectivity and sentiment to the rank of norm for political structures. The Revolution was accompanied by the dissolution of all the representations, concepts, and norms of the previous world as if they had been the fabric of dreams. In the face of this event, along with that of the constant danger of anarchy, philosophy must furnish the ideas which can determine that which can be conserved and that which can no longer survive. For both the advocates of restoration and the revolutionaries the Revolution was understood to be the end of previous history, the severing of man from his past: one wanted merely to recover it, the other to bury it. This scission, together with the real power which it has exerted on man and his conscience, is the fundamental structure of the new age. The remainder of the current study pursues the development of this scission, revealing the inner contradiction of the poles when taken alone: the scission itself to be the unity of historic existence in the form of subjectivity and objectivity; and the scission to find its objective expression in modern civil society. There is an on-going enrichment in the notion of freedom until it finds its fulfillment in the modern State, which assures freedom by providing the structures through which it can exist. Most of what should be said is said, although Ritter’s presentation occasionally harbors some confusion, a common and probably inescapable fate when one cuts in on the dialectic to forage for an isolated topic. Still, the book achieves its goal with admirable success, and is certainly a valuable tract on Hegel vis-à-vis the notion of political freedom. The main work is a translation from the German original; it is followed by an address which develops the material in the Philosophy of Right, § 34-81; and the book concludes with a rather amazing fifty-page bibliography citing the influence exercised by Hegel’s political theory throughout the nineteenth century.—R. J. G. (shrink)
This book is a collection of essays, and is an exercise in literary criticism. Most of the entries couple a philosopher with a literary artist, and the majority of these have an emphasis on the philosophical partner which one frequently fails to find in this sort of study. While few of the critics are capable of sustaining their subtle distinctions, a task properly required of a philosopher, it is nonetheless true that few philosophers can likewise do this. The ability to (...) systematically sustain these distinctions is what characterizes those first-order thinkers whom the body of philosophers and critics alike study. Granting this, the fact still remains that first-rate criticism is vastly more palatable intellectual fodder than is less than first-rate philosophizing. Studies such as the current one bring philosophy back into reality; the relation of a philosopher’s thought to his period, in all of the latter’s diversity, gives to that thought a realistic character that more transparently informs the creations of the fine arts than it does the original products of thought. And if thought is to avoid the sterility which so antagonized both a Sterne and a Hegel, and to become genuinely meaningful, this larger context will be forever indispensable.—R. J. G. (shrink)