In this paper I argue that the basic form of good luck that Aristotle identifies in his Eudemian Ethics 8.2 is the divine good luck, which is not also natural good luck, as is commonly assumed by interpreters. The property of being lucky is neither a primitive nor a natural property, nor such that it is based on some natural property, but a property bestowed by god. Hence, the only satisfactory explanation of good luck must be theological. Furthermore, I argue (...) that Aristotle’s account is neutral in regard to character, intellectual, and physical dispositions of those who are subject to good luck. (shrink)
In this paper I take a closer look at Sextus Empiricus’ arguments in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism I.25-30 and try to make sense of his account of Skepticism as a goal-directed philosophy. I argue that Sextus fails to mount a convincing case for the view that tranquility, rather than suspension of judgment, is the ultimate goal of his inquiries.
Aristotle's notion of experience plays an important role in his epistemology as the link between perception and memory on the one side, and higher cognitive capacities on the other side. However, Aristotle does not say much about it, and what he does say seems inconsistent. Notably, some passages suggest that it is a non-rational capacity, others that it is a rational capacity and that it provides the principles of science. This paper presents a unitary account of experience. It explains how (...) experience grows from perception and memory into a rational capacity, and in what way it provides the principles. (shrink)
Sextus Empiricus portrays the Pyrrhonian sceptics in two radically different ways. On the one hand, he describes them as inquirers or examiners, and insists that what distinguishes them from all the other philosophical schools is their persistent engagement in inquiry. On the other hand, he insists that the main feature of Pyrrhonian attitude is suspension of judgement about everything. Many have argued that a consistent account of Sextan scepticism as both investigative and suspensive is not possible. The main obstacle to (...) characterizing Pyrrhonism as both investigative and suspensive is the fact that it seems that the mature sceptics, after they have suspended judgement and thus reached tranquillity, have no motivation for further inquiry. Any inquiry they seem to be interested in after they have suspended judgement is the refutation of beliefs needed for maintaining tranquillity. I try to show that the mature sceptics' removal of distress does not ipso facto mean removal of the desire for knowledge. This is because distress is not just a matter of unsatisfied desire, but of belief that one of the opposed appearances must be true, or, more generally, of belief that the truth is the only worthwhile epistemic goal. Having abandoned this belief, the sceptics can still engage in philosophical inquiries. This is because Sextus does not assume that philosophy is the search for truth: it is so only for the dogmatists. In a more general sense, applicable to the sceptics as well, philosophy is just an inquiry into certain things, and for the sceptics, its epistemic goal is still open. (shrink)
This paper is an analysis of Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics 7.3." Aristotle's discussion in this chapter is motivated by the Socratic doctrine, elaborated in Plato's "Protagoras," according to which it is impossible to know what is good and act against this knowledge. Aristotle wants to rebut this doctrine and show that there is a sense of "know" such that this is possible. I argue that this is all that he wants to do in EN 7.3, and that his discussion is not (...) meant to provide an explanation of akrasia, as is usually supposed by commentators. Since the akratic knows that the action she is performing is not good for her, and actions are particulars, the akratic's knowledge is about a particular. I argue that Aristotle's discussion in EN 7.3 adds strength to the idea that knowledge of a particular is explainable only in terms of knowledge of a universal. More determinately, knowledge of a particular is explainable in terms of the actualization or use of knowledge of a universal, and such an actualization is in turn explainable by means of the syllogistic form. Thus, I argue that syllogisms in 7.3 (esp. at 1146 35-1147 10) are not "practical syllogisms", but that their function is epistemological: they are meant to reveal the structure and content of the akratic's knowledge, not to explain her actions. (shrink)
Abstract: In this paper I discuss Sextus Empiricus' response to the dogmatists' objection that the skeptics cannot inquire into philosophical theories and at the same time suspend judgment about everything. I argue that his strategy consists in putting the burden of proof on the dogmatists: it is they, and not the skeptics, who must justify the claim to be able to inquire into the nature of things. Sextus' arguments purport to show that if we consider the dogmatists' inquiry, we should (...) conclude either that it is impossible or that it does not supply the skeptics with satisfactory starting-points for further inquiry. (shrink)
In Meno 80d5-e5, we find two sets of objections concerning the possibility of inquiry in the absence of knowledge: the so-called Meno's paradox and the eristic arguments. This essay first shows that the eristic argument is not simply a restatement of Meno's paradox, but instead an objection of a completely different kind: Meno's paradox concerns not inquiry as such, but rather Socrates' inquiry into virtue as is pursued in the first part of the Meno, whereas the eristic argument indicates a (...) manner in which Meno's paradox can be generalized. This implies that they cannot be resolved by the same argument. It is then argued that the theory of recollection, as presented in Socrates' experiment with the slave, cannot resolve Meno's paradox, its target being only the eristic argument. Only the hypothetical method of inquiry is the effective answer to Meno's paradox. Finally, this essay contends that, contrary to what the text might suggest, Socrates, by introducing the hypothetical method, does not abandon his principle that knowing what something is precedes knowing what something is like. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a close reading of Aristotle’s argument in the Nicomachean Ethics 3.5.1114a31–b25 and try to show that despite considerable interpretive difficulties, some clear structure can nevertheless be discerned. While Aristotle’s main concern in this passage is to refute the so-called asymmetry thesis – the thesis that virtue is voluntary, but vice is not – there is much more in it than just a dialectical encounter. Aristotle wants to respond to a more general objection, which has as (...) its target the voluntariness of both virtue and vice, and which is provoked by some of his ideas in EN 3.4 and 3.5. Further, I will try to show why Aristotle thinks that we are only co-causes of our dispositions. In my opinion, his reasons have nothing to do with compatibilist or incompatibilist considerations as they are commonly understood in modern philosophy. In particular, he does not want to argue that nature is aitios of our dispositions just as ourselves are. Rather, we are co-causes of our dispositions because we are causal origins of actions without which a certain good, which is the final cause of our actions and of our dispositions, cannot be achieved. Finally, I will try to show that Aristotle’s discussion implies that there is no more to the responsibility for dispositions than there is to the responsibility for actions. (shrink)
The article tries to show that Aristotle's refutation of causal determinism in Metaph. 6.3 is grounded mainly on two assumptions: a. that there must be a first member of any causal chain, and b. that the origin and the outcome of the chain have to be of equal status.
According to the objection of inactivity, the skeptics cannot live their skepticism, since any attempt to apply it to everyday life would result in total inactivity, while any action they would perform qua skeptics would be a sign that they abandoned their skepticism. In this paper I discuss the ancient Pyrrhonists’ response to the objection as is presented in the writings of Sextus Empiricus. Sextus argues that the Pyrrhonists are immune to the apraxia objection because it is based on the (...) misunderstanding of their position, that is, on the wrong assumption that they live in accordance with philosophical logos. To live in accordance with philosophical logos includes two things. First, it includes the idea that one should apply one’s philosophical tenets, concepts and recommendations to ordinary human life and use it as a practical guide. However, the only item that survives skeptical philosophy, appearance, is not used in this way: its role as criterion of action is different. Second, it includes the idea that ordinary human life can be, and should be, described in philosophical terms. However, the skeptics refuse to describe their actions in philosophical terms. More specifically, they refuse to describe their actions in terms of beliefs: from the Pyrrhonists’ point of view, the question “Do you have beliefs?” is misplaced, since any answer to it, affirmative or negative, is as credible as any other, since it is about something non-evident. (shrink)
U ovom se radu pokušava pokazati da postoji određena vrsta relativizma koja je spojiva sa skepticizmom Seksta Empirika. Tvrdi se da se u PH I.217–219 Protagora ne shvaća kao aletički ili epistemički relativist, nego kao relativist u minimalnom smislu riječi, te da takvo stajalište nije protivno pironizmu kako ga Sekst karakterizira u PH I. Potom se pokazuje da nam prihvaćanje toga aspekta pironizma može pomoći da objasnimo neke inače problematične relativističke zaključke što ih nalazimo u Sekstovim spisima, naročito u M (...) XI.In this paper an attempt is made to show that there is a kind of relativism that can be seen as compatible with Sextus Empiricus’ scepticism. It is argued that in PH I.217–219, Protagoras is not treated as alethic or epistemic relativist, but as a relativist in a minimal sense of the word, and that such a position is not at odds with Sextus’ characterisation of Pyrrhonism in PH I. It is then shown that recognising this aspect of Pyrrhonism can help us explain the otherwise problematic relativistic conclusions in Sextus’ works, esp. in M XI. (shrink)
We argue that two types of context are central to grounding the semantics for the mass/count distinction. We combine and develop the accounts of Rothstein and Landman, which emphasize overlap at a context. We also adopt some parts of Chierchia’s account which uses precisifying contexts. We unite these strands in a two-dimensional semantics that covers a wide range of the puzzling variation data in mass/count lexicalization. Most importantly, it predicts where we should expect to find such variation for some classes (...) of nouns but not for others, and also explains why. (shrink)
Contemporary theories of institutions as clusters of stable solutions to recurrent coordination problems can illuminate and explain some unresolved difficulties and problems adhering to institutional definitions of art initiated by George Dickie and Arthur Danto. Their account of what confers upon objects their institutional character does not fit well with current work on institutions and social ontology. The claim that “the artworld” confers the status of “art” onto objects remains utterly mysterious. The “artworld” is a generic notion that designates a (...) sphere of human activity that involves practices that create goals that have led to the emergence of formal and informal institutions. But those institutions, rather than magically “creating” objects subjected to esthetic appreciation, merely solve familiar and ubiquitous coordination problems created by artistic activity in ways other institutions in other areas solve similar and/or analogous coordination problems. (shrink)
In this paper we examine interactions of the reciprocal with distributive and collective operators, which are encoded by prefixes on verbs expressing the reciprocal relation: namely, the Czech distributive po and the collectivizing na-. The theoretical import of this study is two-fold. First, it contributes to our knowledge of how word-internal operators interact with phrasal syntax/semantics. Second, the prefixes po and na generate (a range of) readings of reciprocal sentences for which the Strongest Meaning Hypothesis (SMH) proposed by Dalrymple et (...) al. (1998) does not make the right predictions. The distributive prefix po prefers the Strong Reciprocity reading, although the SMH predicts that a weakening should take place, while with the prefix na we find cases where weaker reciprocal readings are preferable to the stronger ones predicted by the SMH. This behavior of po and na is, we propose, due to the way in which they modulate two factors that are crucial in the interpretation of reciprocal sentences: (i) the relevant subpluralities in the group denoted by the reciprocal's antecedent, and (ii) the strength of reciprocal relations. We provide a detailed analysis of the semantics of the prefixes po and na and their contribution to the meaning of reciprocal sentences within the general framework of event semantics with lattice structures. (shrink)
In his early text, The Limits of State Action, Wilhelm von Humboldt raises the Kantian question of the permissibility and legitimate extent of political and juridical coercion, as his contribution to a debate amongst Kantians launched by the publication in 1785 of Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. In arguing for a minimal state, concerned exclusively with internal and external security of its members but not at all with their felicity, Humboldt inflects Kantian political thought in the direction of (...) a liberal laissez-faire state, in marked contrast to the strong interventionism that his fellow-Kantian Fichte derived from similar Kantian grounds. The article argues that the underlying conception of the individual retained by Humboldt has markedly Leibnizian traits, namely the notion of freedom as the spontaneous unfolding of a highly personal, monadic developmental trajectory toward perfection, which ought not to be impeded or homogenized by unnecessary state intervention. Humboldt thus represents not only a ‘rightist’ libertarian reading of Kant, but a particular appropriation of significant Leibnizian themes. His combination of these sources is compared with that of other contemporary theorists like Hufeland and Fichte. (shrink)