There is growing body of knowledge about how humans and animals perceive col- ours; we may safely say that both physiology and physics of colour perception are becoming less and less mysterious. Still it doesn't help to solve a philosophical puzzle: What do exactly mean expressions like “perceived red” or “perceived green”? What do perceived colours refer to in the world? There are three problem fields I am touching on in this paper: (i) semantics of colour names, (ii) ontological status (...) of colours, (iii) cognitive relevance of colours. I am trying to formulate onto- logical and epistemological assumptions for semantics of colour names. I am espe- cially focused on classical problem of objectivity of colours. While pursuing my task I am making some critical remarks about Wittgenstein's views on colours as formulated in “Tractatus” and modified in “Remarks on Colours”. I am using. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.<sup>1</sup> That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product (...) of decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
Pontius Pilate is one of the most enigmatic figures in Christian theology. The only non-Christian to be named in the Nicene Creed, he is presented as a cruel colonial overseer in secular accounts, as a conflicted judge convinced of Jesus's innocence in the Gospels, and as either a pious Christian or a virtual demon in later Christian writings. This book takes Pilate's role in the trial of Jesus as a starting point for investigating the function of legal judgment in Western (...) society and the ways that such judgment requires us to adjudicate the competing claims of the eternal and the historical. Coming just as Agamben is bringing his decades-long Homo Sacer project to an end, Pilate and Jesus sheds considerable light on what is at stake in that series as a whole. At the same time, it stands on its own, perhaps more than any of the author's recent works. It thus serves as a perfect starting place for readers who are curious about Agamben's approach but do not know where to begin. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons. That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop values and beliefs besides those that presently make up her motives, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. An agent wills freely, on this view, by beingultimately (...) responsible for how she is currently disposed to act. Kane needs, then, to show how an agent could be responsible for decisions that her deliberations did not guarantee. He must also explain how a decision for which there is no decisive reason could yet be rational, assuming that the responsibility engendering decisions forming the basis of a free will would be rational. I shall argue here that Kane has achieved neither of these goals. (shrink)
[Robert Stalnaker] Saul Kripke made a convincing case that there are necessary truths that are knowable only a posteriori as well as contingent truths that are knowable a priori. A number of philosophers have used a two-dimensional model semantic apparatus to represent and clarify the phenomena that Kripke pointed to. According to this analysis, statements have truth-conditions in two different ways depending on whether one considers a possible world 'as actual' or 'as counterfactual' in determining the truth-value of the (...) statement relative to that possible world. There are no necessary a posteriori or contingent a priori propositions: rather, contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori statements are statements that are necessary when evaluated one way, and contingent when evaluated the other way. This paper distinguishes two ways that the two-dimensional framework can be interpreted, and argues that one of them gives the better account of what it means to 'consider a world as actual', but that it provides no support for any notion of purely conceptual a priori truth. /// [Thomas Baldwin] Two-dimensional possible world semantic theory suggests that Kripke's examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori should be handled by interpreting names as implicitly indexical. Like Stalnaker, I reject this account of names and accept that Kripke's examples have to be accommodated within a metasemantic theory. But whereas Stalnaker maintains that a metasemantic approach undermines the conception of a priori truth, I argue that it offers the opportunity to develop a conception of the a priori aspect of stipulations, conceived as linguistic performances. The resulting position accommodates Kripke's examples in a way which is both intrinsically plausible and fits with Kripke's actual discussion of them. (shrink)
For most of the problems that economists consider, the assumption that agents are self-interested works well enough, generating predictions that are broadly consistent with observation. In some significant cases, however, we find economic behavior that seems to be inconsistent with self-interest. In particular, we find that some public goods and some charitable ventures are financed by the independent voluntary contributions of many thousands of individuals. In Britain, for example, the lifeboat service is entirely financed by voluntary contributions. In all rich (...) countries, charitable appeals raise large amounts of money for famine relief in the Third World. The willingness of individuals to contribute to such projects is an economic fact that requires an explanation. (shrink)
Neither the existence of God nor the nature of God is apparent or obvious. If God exists, why is it not entirely clear to everyone that this is so? How can theists explain God's hiddenness, and how plausible are their explanations? God, if God exists, is an omnipotent, morally good, omnipresent being, than whom none greater can be conceived. Surely it is well within the abilities of God to let God's existence and nature be known to us. Why isn't the (...) existence and nature of our Heavenly Father as apparent as, say, the existence of our various earthly fathers? (shrink)
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
Robert Owen was one of the most extraordinary Englishmen who ever lived and a great man. In a way his history is the history of the establishment of modern industrial Britain, reflected in the mind and activities of a very intelligent, capable and responsible industrialist, alive to the best social thought of his time. The organisation of industrial labour, factory legislation, education, trade unionism, co-operation, rationalism: he was passionately and ably engaged in all of them. His community at New (...) Lanark was the nearest thing to an industrial heaven in the Britain of dark satanic mills; he tried to found a rational co-operative community in the USA. In everything he contemplated, he saw education as a key. This selection of his writings on education illustrates his rationalist concept of the formation of character and its implications for education and society; also his growing utopian concern with social reorganisation; and third, his impact on social movements. Silver's introduction shows Owen's relationship to particular educational traditions and activities and his long-term influence on attitudes to education. (shrink)
The contemporary explosion of information makes intellectual responsibility more needed than ever. The uncritical tend to believe too much that is unsubstantiated; the overcritical tend to believe too little that is true. A central problem for this paper is to formulate standards to guide an intellectually rigorous search for a mean between excessive credulity and indiscriminate skepticism. A related problem is to distinguish intellectual responsibility for what we believe from moral responsibility for what we do. A third problem is how (...) to square intellectual responsibility in retaining our views with the realization that peers we respect disagree with us. Much of the paper is directed to articulating principles for dealing with such disagreements. (shrink)
A standard objection to act utilitarian theories is that they are not helpful in deciding what it is morally permissible for us to do when we actually have to make a choice between alternatives. That is, such theories are worthless as decision procedures. A standard reply to this objection is that act utilitarian theories can be evaluated solely as theories about right-making characteristics and, when so evaluated, their inadequacy as decision procedures is irrelevant. Even if somewhat unappealing, this is an (...) effective reply to the standard objection. (shrink)
A significant feature of John Stuart Mill's moral theory is the introduction of qualitative differences as relevant to the comparative value of pleasures. Despite its significance, Mill presents his doctrine of qualities of pleasures in only a few paragraphs in the second chapter of Utilitarianism, where he begins the brief discussion by saying: utilitarian writers in general have placed the superiority of mental over bodily pleasures chiefly … in their circumstantial advantages rather than in their intrinsic nature.… [B]ut they might (...) have taken the … higher ground with entire consistency. It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone. (shrink)
Formal axiology is based on the logical nature of meaning, namely intension, and on the structure of intension as a set of predicates. It applies set theory to this set of predicates. Set theory is a certain kind of mathematics that deals with subsets in general, and of finite and infinite sets in particular. Since mathematics is objective and a priori, formal axiology is an objective and a priori science; and a test based on it is an objective test based (...) on an objective standard.1. (shrink)
Robert Kane provides a critical overview of debates about free will of the past half century, relating this recent inquiry to the broader history of the free will issue and to vital currents of twentieth century thought. Kane also defends a traditional libertarian or incompatibilist view of free will, employing arguments that are both new to philosophy and that respond to contemporary developments in physics and biology, neuro science, and the cognitive and behavioral sciences.
In his paper ‘Miracles: metaphysics, physics, and physicalism’, 1 Kirk McDermid appears to have two primary goals. The first is to demonstrate that my account of how God might produce a miracle without violating any laws of nature is radically flawed. The second is to suggest two alternative accounts, one suitable for a deterministic world, one suitable for an indeterministic world, which allow for the occurrence of a miracle without violation of the laws of nature, yet do not suffer from (...) the defects of what McDermid terms the ‘Larmerian’ model. I briefly describe my model, reply to McDermid's criticism of it, and evaluate his alternative accounts. (shrink)
The situationist challenge to global character traits claims that on the basis of findings in social psychology, we should only accept at most the existence of local or context-sensitive traits. In this article I explore a neglected area of J. S. Mill's work to outline an account of context-sensitive traits. This account of traits, coupled with a sophisticated consequentialist ethical framework, suggests an interesting view on which persons govern the circumstances of their actions in order to best promote overall well-being.
Maximizing want-satisfaction per se is a relatively unattractive aspiration, for it seems to assume that wants are somehow disembodied entities with independent moral claims all of their own. Actually, of course, they are possessed by particular people. What preference-utilitarians should be concerned with is how people's lives go—the fulfilment of their projects and the satisfaction of their desires. In an old-fashioned way of talking, it is happy people rather than happiness per se that utilitarians should be striving to produce.