The Consequence Argument has elicited various responses, ranging from acceptance as obviously right to rejection as obviously problematic in one way or another. Here we wish to focus on one specific response, according to which the Consequence Argument begs the question. This is a serious accusation that has not yet been adequately rebutted, and we aim to remedy that in what follows. We begin by giving a formulation of the Consequence Argument. We also offer some tentative proposals about the nature (...) of begging the question. Although the charge of begging the question is frequently made in philosophy, it is surprisingly difficult to pin down the precise nature of this dialectical infelicity (or family of such infelicities). Thus we offer some new proposals about the nature of begging the question with an eye to understanding what is going on in central cases in which the charge is legitimately made. We then defend the Consequence Argument against the charge that it begs the question, so construed. We contend that, whatever the other liabilities of the argument may be, it does not beg the question against the compatibilist. (shrink)
Traditional views about God and about deliberation seem to imply that we need a deliberation restriction on the concept of divine omniscience. I will argue, however, that this deliberation restriction is both irrelevant and unnecessary. It is irrelevant because there is no time at which God needs to deliberate; and it is unnecessary because even if God does deliberate, it’s possible for him to do so while knowing what the results of that deliberation will be. And because this possibility of (...) deliberating despite knowing the results holds for deliberation in general, my argument provides useful (and perhaps surprising) results not only for discussions of the divine attributes, but also for broader discussions of deliberation itself. (shrink)
This volume collects a set of papers that were presented at a conference on “Big Questions in Free Will,” held at the University of Saint Thomas in October of 2014. It is dedicated to its editor, who passed away shortly after completing the manuscript. I will briefly summarize each of the 11 chapters and then offer a few critical comments.
Causalists about explanation claim that to explain an event is to provide information about the causal history of that event. Some causalists also endorse a proportionality claim, namely that one explanation is better than another insofar as it provides a greater amount of causal information. In this chapter I consider various challenges to these causalist claims. There is a common and influential formulation of the causalist requirement – the ‘Causal Process Requirement’ – that does appear vulnerable to these anti-causalist challenges, (...) but I argue that they do not give us reason to reject causalism entirely. Instead, these challenges lead us to articulate the causalist requirement in an alternative way. This alternative articulation incorporates some of the important anti-causalist insights without abandoning the explanatory necessity of causal information. For example, proponents of the ‘equilibrium challenge’ argue that the best available explanations of the behaviour of certain dynamical systems do not appear to provide any causal information. I respond that, contrary to appearances, these equilibrium explanations are fundamentally causal, and I provide a formulation of the causalist thesis that is immune to the equilibrium challenge. I then show how this formulation is also immune to the ‘epistemic challenge’ – thus vindicating (a properly formulated version of) the causalist thesis. (shrink)
The Ockhamist claims that our ability to do otherwise is not endangered by God’s foreknowledge because facts about God’s past beliefs regarding future contingents are soft facts about the past—i.e., temporally relational facts that depend in some sense on what happens in the future. But if our freedom, given God’s foreknowledge, requires altering some fact about the past that is clearly a hard fact, then Ockhamism fails even if facts about God’s past beliefs are soft. Recent opponents of Ockhamism, including (...) David Widerker and Peter van Inwagen, have argued along precisely these lines. Their arguments, if successful, would undermine Ockhamism while avoiding the controversy over the alleged softness of facts about God’s past beliefs. But these arguments do not succeed. The past facts they rely on must be clear and uncontroversial examples of hard facts about the past, and these facts must be such that an ability to refrain from the relevant future action implies an ability to alter the relevant hard fact. We demonstrate the flaw in these arguments by showing how they rely on past facts that do not satisfy these criteria. The Ockhamist may have troubles, but this type of argument is not one of them. (shrink)
Local miracle compatibilists claim that we are sometimes able to do otherwise than we actually do, even if causal determinism obtains. When we can do otherwise, it will often be true that if we were to do otherwise, then an actual law of nature would not have been a law of nature. Nevertheless, it is a compatibilist principle that we cannot do anything that would be or cause an event that violates the laws of nature. Carl Ginet challenges this nomological (...) principle, arguing that it is not always capable of explaining our inability to do otherwise. In response to this challenge, I point out that this principle is part of a defense against the charge that local miracle compatibilists are committed to outlandish claims. Thus it is not surprising that the principle, by itself, will often fail to explain our inability to do otherwise. I then suggest that in many situations in which we are unable to do otherwise, this can be explained by the compatibilist’s analysis of ability, or his criteria for the truth of ability claims. Thus, the failure of his nomological principle to explain the falsity of certain ability claims is no strike against local miracle compatibilism. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to capture the essence of Nelson Pike’s contribution to the philosophy of religion. My summary of his insights will revolve around three general topics: omniscience (and in particular its relation to human freedom), omnipotence (and in particular its relation to the existence of human suffering), and mysticism (with a focus on the question of whether and in what sense mystic visions can be sources of knowledge). Although the details vary in interesting ways, his work on (...) these topics largely consists of recognizing an important challenge to the viability of the relevant doctrine or framework, sharpening that challenge by presenting it in a more forceful way, and then offering and assessing potential responses. Pike’s writings are characterized by exemplary rigor and relentless clarity, and together they constitute a rich (and under-appreciated) source of insight. (shrink)
In my dissertation I offer what I take to be a novel and compelling response to the consequence argument: the argument that if causal determinism is true, then the past history of the world and the laws of nature together determine everything that will happen in the future&mdashincluding my actions and in fact every action ever done by anyone. I begin by noting and emphasizing a parallel between the consequence argument and the skeptical argument, which leads us to ask whether (...) a response to the latter can be modified and applied to the former. In preparation for that undertaking, we examine two influential responses to the consequence argument—backtracking compatibilism and local miracle compatibilism—both of which claim that if we were to do otherwise (and if determinism is true), then a certain counterfactual conditional would be true. Although I don't fully endorse either of these responses, I do explain how they point us in the right direction.I then turn to the skeptical argument, and in particular the contextualist response to the skeptical argument. Although I don't fully endorse contextualism either, I do emphasize a virtue of the view, namely that it explains how the skeptical argument can seem so compelling even though, in ordinary circumstances, its conclusion strikes us as wildly implausible. Finally, I offer my response to the consequence argument. I begin by adopting and extending a philosophical methodology labeled “southern fundamentalism.” The first move in my response is to argue that we should endorse an “austere” conception of acting freely according to which it does not require being able to do otherwise than we actually do, as an extension of the actual past (consistent with the laws of nature). I then provide a contextualist explanation of how we can be led (astray) by the consequence argument into thinking that this condition is required for acting freely when in fact it is not. Thus I hope to have provided not only a new and compelling response to the consequence argument, but also a foray into some woefully under-explored territory: the intersection of agency theory and epistemology. (shrink)
It is widely believed that Hume often wrote carelessly and contradicted himself, and that no unified, sound philosophy emerges from his writings. Don Garrett demonstrates that such criticisms of Hume are without basis. Offering fresh and trenchant solutions to longstanding problems in Hume studies, Garrett's penetrating analysis also makes clear the continuing relevance of Hume's philosophy.
Beginning with an overview of Hume's life and work, Don Garrett introduces in clear and accessible style the central aspects of Hume's thought. These include Hume's lifelong exploration of the human mind; his theories of inductive inference and causation; skepticism and personal identity; moral and political philosophy; aesthetics; and philosophy of religion. The final chapter considers the influence and legacy of Hume's thought today. Throughout, Garrett draws on and explains many of Hume's central works, including his Treatise of (...) Human Nature , Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding , and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion . Hume is essential reading not only for students of philosophy, but anyone in the humanities and social sciences and beyond seeking an introduction to Hume's thought. (shrink)
_Personal Identity and Self-Consciousness_ is about persons and personal identity. What are we? And why does personal identity matter? Brian Garrett, using jargon-free language, addresses questions in the metaphysics of personal identity, questions in value theory, and discusses questions about the first person singular. Brian Garrett makes an important contribution to the philosophy of personal identity and mind, and to epistemology.
Readers of Spinoza's philosophy have often been daunted, and sometimes been enchanted, by the geometrical method which he employs in his philosophical masterpiece the Ethics. In Meaning in Spinoza's Method Aaron Garrett examines this method and suggests that its purpose, in Spinoza's view, was not just to present claims and propositions but also in some sense to change the readers and allow them to look at themselves and the world in a different way. His discussion draws not only on (...) Spinoza's works but also on those of the philosophers who influenced Spinoza most strongly, including Hobbes, Descartes, Maimonides and Gersonides. This controversial book will be of interest to historians of philosophy and to anyone interested in the relation between form and content in philosophical works. (shrink)
Garrett assesses the morality of leaders' political choices. Does the nature of leadership force us to tolerate or even accept marginally moral acts? Do acts considered unethical in one's private life become ethical when performed by a public servant for the good of the public?
The publication of 'Animal Rights and Souls in the 18th Century' will be welcomed by everyone interested in the development of the modern animal liberation movement, as well as by those who simply want to savour the work of enlightenment thinkers pushing back the boundaries of both science and ethics. At last these long out-of-print texts are again available to be read and enjoyed - and what texts they are! Gems like Bougeant's witty reductio of the Christian view of animals (...) are included together with path-breaking works of ethics such as Primatt's A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals . There are works I have never seen before, including the remarkable Cry of Nature by the Scottish revolutionary Jacobin, John Oswald. In this set, everyone will find something novel, delightful and truly enlightening. - Peter Singer The discussion of animal rights and the moral status of animals, so prevalent in the late twentieth century, has its roots in the mid to late eighteenth century. Some of the themes we consider of recent invention - the legal standing of animals, the ethical status of vegetarians, cruelty towards animals, ultimately resulting in cruelty to humans - are of long standing. But in the eighteenth-century literature they are interconnected with theological issues surrounding animal souls, the birth of the life sciences, the great chain of being and other peculiarly eighteenth-century problems. This collection explores the exciting early discussions of moral theories concerning animals, placing them within their historical and social context. It reveals that issues such as vivisection, animal souls and vegetarianism were very much live philosophical subjects 200 years ago. The six volumes reprinted here includes complete works and edited extracts from such key eighteenth-century thinkers as Oswald, Primatt, Smellie, Monboddo and Jenyns. Many of the materials are extremely rare and never previously reprinted. The collection, edited with a new introduction and bio-bibliography by Aaron V. Garrett provides valuable original source material to supplement contemporary discussions of animal rights. --18th-century material on the theme of animal rights and practical ethics --an important supplement to contemporary animal rights discussions --provides a broader account of early discussions of the 'science of human nature' through animals --widens our understanding of 18th-century ethics through an important area of practical ethics --includes many scarce texts, most of which have never been reprinted before. (shrink)
Nowadays references to the afterlife-angels strumming harps, demons brandishing pitchforks, God enthroned on heavenly clouds-are more often encountered in New Yorker cartoons than in serious Christian theological reflection. Speculation about death and its sequel seems to embarrass many theologians; however, as Greg Garrett shows in Entertaining Judgment, popular culture in the U.S. has found rich ground for creative expression in the search for answers to the question: What lies in store for us after we die?The lyrics of Madonna, Los (...) Lonely Boys, and Sean Combs; the plotlines of TV's Lost, South Park, and The Walking Dead; the implied theology in films such as The Dark Knight, Ghost, and Field of Dreams; the heavenly half-light of Thomas Kinkade's popular paintings; the ghosts, shades, and after-life way-stations in Harry Potter; and the characters, situations, and locations in the Hunger Games saga all speak to our hopes and fears about what comes next. In a rich survey of literature and popular media, Garrett compares cultural accounts of death and the afterlife with those found in scripture. Denizens of the imagined afterlife, whether in heaven, hell, on earth, or in purgatory, speak to what awaits us, at once shaping and reflecting our deeply held-if often somewhat nebulous-beliefs. They show us what rewards and punishments we might expect, offer us divine assistance, and even diabolically attack us. Ultimately, we are drawn to these stories of heaven, hell, and purgatory--and to stories about death and the undead--not only because they entertain us, but because they help us to create meaning and to learn about ourselves, our world, and, perhaps, the next world. Garrett's deft analysis sheds new light on what popular culture can tell us about the startlingly sharp divide between what modern people profess to believe and what they truly hope and expect to find after death--and how they use those stories to help them understand this life. (shrink)
The Eighteenth century is one of the most important periods in the history of Western philosophy, witnessing philosophical, scientific, and social and political change on a vast scale. In spite of this, there are few single volume overviews of the philosophy of the period as a whole. _The Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy _is an authoritative survey and assessment of this momentous period, covering major thinkers, topics and movements in Eighteenth century philosophy. Beginning with a substantial introduction by Aaron (...)Garrett, the thirty-five specially commissioned chapters by an outstanding team of international contributors are organised into seven clear parts: Context and Movements Metaphysics and Understanding Mind, Soul, and Perception Morals and Aesthetics Politics and Society Philosophy in relation to the Arts and Sciences Major Figures. Major topics and themes are explored and discussed, ranging from materialism, free will and personal identity; to the emotions, the social contract, aesthetics, and the sciences, including mathematics and biology. The final section examines in more detail three figures central to the period: Hume, Rousseau and Kant. As such _The Routledge Companion to Eighteenth Century Philosophy_ is essential reading for all students of the period, both in philosophy and related disciplines such as politics, literature, history and religious studies. (shrink)
Why is there something rather than nothing? Does God exist? Does time flow? What are we? Do we have free will? What is truth? Metaphysics is concerned with ourselves and reality, and the most fundamental questions regarding existence. This clear and accessible introduction covers the central topics in metaphysics in a concise but comprehensive way. Brian Garrett discusses the crucial concepts in a highly readable manner, easing the reader in with a look at some important philosophical problems. He addresses (...) key areas of metaphysics: God Existence Modality Universals and particulars Facts Paradoxes of material constitution Causation Time Free will Personal identity Truth. This second edition has been thoroughly revised. Most chapters include substantial amounts of new material, and there are additional chapters on Existence, Modality, Facts and Paradoxes of Material Constitution. _What is this thing called Metaphysics?_ contains many helpful student-friendly features. Each chapter concludes with a useful summary of the main ideas discussed, a glossary of important terms, study questions, annotated further reading, and a guide to web resources. Text boxes provide bite-sized summaries of key concepts and major philosophers, and clear and interesting examples are used throughout. (shrink)
Bioethicists invoke a duty to rescue in a wide range of cases. Indeed, arguably, there exists an entire medical paradigm whereby vast numbers of medical encounters are treated as rescue cases. The intuitive power of the rescue paradigm is considerable, but much of this power stems from the problematic way that rescue cases are conceptualized—namely, as random, unanticipated, unavoidable, interpersonal events for which context is irrelevant and beneficence is the paramount value. In this article, I critique the basic assumptions of (...) the rescue paradigm, reframe the ethical landscape in which rescue obligations are understood, and defend the necessity and value of a wider social and institutional view. Along the way, I move back and forth between ethical theory and a concrete case where the duty to rescue has been problematically applied: the purported duty to regularly return incidental findings and individual research results in genomic and genetic research. (shrink)
Is Hume a naturalist? Does he regard all or nearly all beliefs and actions as rationally unjustified? In order to settle these questions, it is necessary to examine their key terms and to understand the character-especially the normative character-of Hume's philosophical project. This paper argues that Hume is a naturalist-and, in particular, both a moral and an epistemic naturalist-in quite robust ways; and that Hume can properly regard many actions and beliefs as "rationally justified" in several different senses of that (...) term. (shrink)
Despite his well-known criticisms of popular religion, Hume refers in seemingly complimentary terms to ‘true religion’; in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, his character Philo goes so far as to express ‘veneration for’ it. This paper addresses three questions. First, did Hume himself really approve of something that he called ‘true religion’? Second, what did he mean by calling it ‘true’? Third, what did he take it to be? By appeal to some of his key doctrines about causation and probability, and (...) to some key features of the characters and content of the Dialogues, I argue, contrary to important recent interpretations by Immerwahr and Falkenstein, that Hume's ‘true religion’ is a doctrine, enunciated by Philo, that he regarded as true in an epistemic sense. (shrink)
Over the past decade, there has been an extensive debate about whether researchers have an obligation to disclose genetic research findings, including primary and secondary findings. There appears to be an emerging (but disputed) view that researchers have some obligation to disclose some genetic findings to some research participants. The contours of this obligation, however, remain unclear. -/- As this paper will explore, much of this confusion is definitional or conceptual in nature. The extent of a researcher’s obligation to return (...) secondary and other research findings is often limited by reference to terms and concepts like “incidental,” “analytic validity,” “clinical validity,” “clinical relevance,” “clinical utility,” “clinical significance,” “actionability,” and “desirability.” These terms are used in different ways by different writers to describe obligations in different sorts of cases. -/- Underneath this definitional confusion is a general notion, supported by much of the literature, that findings only need to be disclosed when they surpass certain presumably objective or measureable thresholds, such as medical importance or scientific reproducibility. The problem is that there is significant variability in the way that these terms and concepts are used in the literature and, as such, in defining the scope of an obligation to return findings that surpasses the relevant thresholds. -/- The goal of this paper is to analyze the definitional muddle underlying the debate about returning genetic research findings, with the hope of answering a few questions. First, what is the range of definitions being used in this debate? Based on an extensive literature review, Part 1 will lay out a range of articulated definitions for each relevant term, with the goal of categorizing them into a handful of distinct types. Part 2 explains the definitional redundancy and confusion in the current literature, and, drawing from the terminological patterns identified in Part 1, outlines more cohesive building blocks to inform the development of future disclosure frameworks.Our minimum goal in articulating these conceptual building blocks is to promote clearer articulations of, and distinctions between, future disclosure frameworks. More ambitiously, we suggest which definitions and conceptualizations we consider most appropriate to use in future disclosure frameworks. Here, we seek to balance benefits to participants through the disclosure of important information with the minimization of undue burdens on individual researchers and the research enterprise more generally. -/- Our analysis builds upon the central philosophical distinction between concepts and conceptions. The basic idea is that the “concept” of X refers to the general (and relatively uncontroversial) structure/shape of X, while various “conceptions” of X are more particular, filled out, and controversial elaborations of the concept. In other words, “concepts” of X will be formal representations of X, while “conceptions” of X will be substantive interpretations of the key elements and relationships operating within that formal framework. (Implicit in this distinction is an important point about the nature of disagreement – namely, that in order for two or more parties to “disagree” about X as opposed to simply talk past one another, there must be at least enough shared agreement about X to know that the parties are referring to the same thing. A concept of X provides this point of common agreement, while competing conceptions of X mark the areas where disagreement arises.) In this paper, we will employ this distinction in a fundamental way to clarify exactly where the primary disagreements arise in the debate over disclosing genetic research findings. -/- We propose that, underlying all the seeming confusion and disagreement, there are three central and widely agreed upon concepts at work in this debate—validity, value, and volition. The first two concepts concern the nature of the information itself. An obligation to disclose only exists when findings are valid and have value but there are competing conceptions of how to determine or define validity and valuableness. The third concept—volition—pertains not to the information but rather to the person to whom it will be disclosed. Does that person want or not want the information, and what is the best way of determining this? Here, too, competing conceptions arise. Our key point, though, is that almost all of the ethical disagreement arises because of competing conceptions of these three concepts. Understanding and appreciating this key point can help to refocus the substantive debate by providing some common ground to start from in determining how best to interpret these shared concepts. This refocusing can, ideally, produce more productive debate and facilitate some progress in resolving it. (shrink)
In this discussion, I claim that the debate over ‘the bias towards the present’ turns on an axiological question. Is the value of a present experience greater than its value when past? I argue not and hold that our bias towards the present, understood as a pure time preference, is irrational.
Hume is a naturalist in many different respects and about many different topics; this paper argues that he is also a naturalist about intentionality and representation. It does so in the course of answering four questions about his theory of mental representation: (1) Which perceptions represent? (2) What can perceptions represent? (3) Why do perceptions represent at all? (4) Howdo perceptions represent what they do? It appears that, for Hume, all perceptions except passions can represent; and they can represent bodies, (...) minds, and persons, with their various qualities. In addition, ideas can represent impressions and other ideas. However, he explicitly rejects the view that ideas are inherently representational, and he implicitly adopts a view according to which things (whether mental or non-mental) represent in virtue of playing, through the production of mental effects and dispositions, a significant part of the causal and/or functional role of what they represent. It is in virtue of their particular functional roles that qualitatively identical ideas are capable of representing particulars or general kinds; substances or modes; relations; past, present, or future; and individuals or compounds. (shrink)
Benedict de Spinoza has been one of the most inspiring and influential philosophers of the modern era, yet also one of the most difficult and most frequently misunderstood. Spinoza sought to unify mind and body, science and religion, and to derive an ethics of reason, virtue, and freedom 'in geometrical order' from a monistic metaphysics. Of all the philosophical systems of the seventeenth century it is his that speaks most deeply to the twentieth century. The essays in this volume provide (...) a clear and systematic exegesis of Spinoza's thought informed by the most recent scholarship. They cover his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, psychology, ethics, political theory, theology, and scriptural interpretation, as well as his life and influence on later thinkers. (shrink)
In most children’s hospitals, there are very few ethics consultations, even though there are many ethically complex cases. We hypothesize that the reason for this may be that hospitals develop different mechanisms to address ethical issues and that many of these mechanisms are closer in spirit to the goals of the pioneers of clinical ethics than is the mechanism of a formal ethics consultation. To show how this is true, we first review the history of collaboration between philosophers and physicians (...) about clinical dilemmas. Then, as a case-study, we describe the different venues that have developed at one children’s hospital to address ethical issues. At our hospital, there are nine different venues in which ethical issues are regularly and explicitly addressed. They are ethics committee meetings, Nursing Ethics Forum, ethics Brown Bag workshops, PICU ethics rounds, Grand Rounds, NICU Comprehensive Care Rounds, Palliative Care Team case conferences, multidisciplinary consults in Fetal Health Center, and ethics consultations. In our hospital, ethics consults account for only a tiny percentage of ethics discussions. We suspect that most hospitals have multiple and varied venues for ethics discussions. We hope this case study will stimulate research in other hospitals analyzing the various ways in which ethicists and ethics committees can build an ethical environment in hospitals. Such research might suggest that ethicists need to develop a different set of “core competencies” than the ones that are needed to do ethics consultations. Instead, they should focus on their skills in creating multiple “moral spaces” in which regular and ongoing discussion of ethical issues would take place. A successful ethicist would empower everyone in the hospital to speak up about the values that they believe are central to respectful, collaborative practice and patient care. Such a role is closer to what the first hospital philosophers set out to do than in the role of the typical hospital ethics consultant today. (shrink)
When corporations are accused of unethical behaviour by external actors, executives from those organizations are usually compelled to offer communicative responses to defend their corporate image. To demonstrate the effect that corporate executives'' communicative responses have on third parties'' perception of corporate image, we present the Corporate Communicative Response Model in this paper. Of the five potential communicative responses contained in this model (no response, denial, excuse, justification, and concession), results from our empirical test demonstrate that a concession is the (...) most effective and robust communicative option. (shrink)