“Responsibility After ‘Morality’: Strawson’s Naturalism and Williams’ Genealogy” -/- Although P.F. Strawson and Bernard Williams have both made highly significant and influential contributions on the subject of moral responsibility they never directly engaged with the views of each other. On one natural reading their views are directly opposed. Strawson seeks to discredit scepticism about moral responsibility by means of naturalistic observations and arguments. Williams, by contrast, employs genealogical methods to support sceptical conclusions about moral responsibility (and blame). This way of (...) reading their views depends, however, on the assumption that the concept of responsibility that Strawson aims to defend is the same as Williams aims to discredit. The conception of responsibility that Williams aims to discredit is one that is based around the assumptions and aspirations of “the morality system”. This paper argues that while there is a plausible way of interpreting Strawson’s naturalism that uncouples it from the assumptions of “the morality system”, there remain significant differences between Strawson and Williams. More specifically, even if Strawson’s understanding of moral responsibility abandons the (narrow) assumptions of “morality”, Strawson is still committed to “conservative” and “optimistic” conclusions about moral responsibility that cannot be sustained. [March 2022] -/- . (shrink)
Many women wrote philosophy in nineteenth-century Britain, and they wrote across the full range of philosophical topics. Yet these important women thinkers have been left out of the philosophical canon and many of them are barely known today. The aim of this book is to put them back on the map. It introduces twelve women philosophers - Mary Shepherd, Harriet Martineau, Ada Lovelace, George Eliot, Frances Power Cobbe, Helena Blavatsky, Julia Wedgwood, Victoria Welby, Arabella Buckley, Annie Besant, Vernon Lee, and (...) Constance Naden. Alison Stone looks at their views on naturalism, philosophy of mind, evolution, morality and religion, and progress in history. She shows how these women interacted and developed their philosophical views in conversation with one another, not only with their male contemporaries. The rich print and periodical culture of the period enabled these women to publish philosophy in forms accessible to a general readership, despite the restrictions women faced, such as having limited or no access to university education. Stone explains how these women became excluded from the history of philosophy because there was a cultural shift at the end of the nineteenth century towards specialised forms of philosophical writing, which depended on academic credentials that were still largely unavailable to women. (shrink)
This thesis is a sceptical investigation into the notion that the metaphorical wave-particle binary of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse is related to quantum physics. Indeed, the field of literature and science has employed conceptual similarities as the main means of connecting quantum concepts to novels, however, this has led to a host of scholarly difficulties, prompting the need for a re-examination of analogical linkages. Woolf is the model candidate for such a re-examination, given her historical and philosophical proximity with (...) the developments of quantum mechanics. To the Lighthouse, in particular, was written between 1925 and 1927: precisely when quantum physicists were attempting to resolve the wave-particle duality, leading to Niels Bohr's complementarity. This parallel has been noted by researchers as relevant to the novel, as it too displays a general binary that can be read as wave-particle-like, which the author also attempts to resolve along similar philosophical lines. Nevertheless, other than proximity and similarity, there are no reasons to affirm that the science is related to the novel; hence, it is an ideal case study to examine in order to ascertain the value of conceptual similarities in literature and science. To do so, To the Lighthouse's binary and its resolution are interpreted in a thesis-long close reading, in order to compare aspects of it firstly to Woolf's personal thought, and secondly to various non-quantum intellectual contexts that preceded and surrounded her. In doing so, it becomes clear not only that invoking quantum physics serves no clear purpose in better understanding the novel, but also that the notion of resolving wave- particle-like binaries was a widespread philosophical procedure at the turn of the century, decades before Bohr's concept. This negative conclusion interrogates what the scholarly value of interpreting similarities is, though a hypothetical solution can be found in conceptual metaphor theory. (shrink)
This book examines the way in which Robert Boyle seeks to accommodate his complex chemical philosophy within the framework of a mechanistic theory of matter. More specifically, the book proposes that Boyle regards chemical qualities as properties that emerged from the mechanistic structure of chymical atoms. Within Boyle’s chemical ontology, chymical atoms are structured concretions of particles that Boyle regards as chemically elementary entities, that is, as chemical wholes that resist experimental analysis. Although this interpretation of Boyle’s chemical philosophy has (...) already been suggested by other Boyle scholars, the present book provides a sustained philosophical argument to demonstrate that, for Boyle, chemical properties are dispositional, relational, emergent, and supervenient properties. This argument is strengthened by a detailed mereological analysis of Boylean chymical atoms that establishes the kind of theory of wholes and parts that is most consistent with an emergentist conception of chemical properties. The emergentist position that is being attributed to Boyle supports his view that chemical reactions resist direct explanation in terms of the mechanistic properties of fundamental particles, as well as his position regarding the scientific autonomy of chymistry from mechanics and physics. (shrink)
This work is a collection of the philosophical correspondences of English women thinkers of the late seventeenth century. It includes letters to and from some of the most famous philosophers of the age, including Locke and Leibniz. Their letters range over a wide variety of philosophical subjects, from religion and ethics to knowledge and metaphysics. The introductory essays and annotations to this work make these women's ideas accessible and comprehensible to modern readers. Taken as a whole, the collection significantly enhances (...) our appreciation of women's involvement in the shaping and development of philosophy from 1650 to 1700. (shrink)
When Bernard Williams died in June 2003, the obituary in The Times said that “he will be remembered as the most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time”. It goes on to make clear that Williams was far from the dry, awkward, detached academic philosopher of caricature. -/- Born in Essex in 1929, Williams had an extraordinary and, in some respects, glamorous life. He not only enjoyed a stellar academic career – holding a series of distinguished posts (...) at Oxford, UCL, Cambridge and Berkeley – but was also a public figure in British political and cultural life. He played, for example, a leading role in several high profile government committees and reports, and served for almost two decades on the board of the English National Opera. He had, moreover, an easy confidence and charm, a lucidity of expression, and a sharp and, at times, acerbic wit (which could alarm both friends and foes alike). -/- Although these achievements and qualities are impressive, what he will be remembered for chiefly is his significant contribution to philosophy, which spanned a wide spectrum of topics. It is in the field of ethics, in particular, that his contributions are of the most lasting importance. And yet there is a real sense in which he remains a rather enigmatic figure – and the interpretation of his work continues to be a matter of considerable debate.... (shrink)
Sarah Hutton presents a rich historical study of one of the most fertile periods in philosophy. It was in the seventeenth century that Britain first produced philosophers of international stature. Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke, and many other thinkers are shown in their intellectual, social, political, and religious context.
Provides an advanced overview of the issues that are informing research on the subject of British philosophy in the seventeenth century, while at the same time offering new directions for research to take. It covers the whole of the seventeenth century, ranging from Francis Bacon to John Locke and Isaac Newton. The book contains five parts: the introductory Part I examines the state of the discipline and the nature of its practitioners as the century unfolded; Part II discusses the leading (...) natural philosophers and the philosophy of nature, including Bacon, Boyle, and Newton; Part III covers knowledge and the human faculty of the understanding; Part IV explores the leading topics in British moral philosophy from the period; and Part V concerns political philosophy. In addition to dealing with canonical authors and celebrated texts, such as Thomas Hobbes and his Leviathan, it discusses many less-well-known figures and debates from the period whose importance is only now being appreciated. (shrink)
In _Regimens of the Mind_, Sorana Corneanu proposes a new approach to the epistemological and methodological doctrines of the leading experimental philosophers of seventeenth-century England, an approach that considers their often overlooked moral, psychological, and theological elements. Corneanu focuses on the views about the pursuit of knowledge in the writings of Robert Boyle and John Locke, as well as in those of several of their influences, including Francis Bacon and the early Royal Society virtuosi. She argues that their experimental programs (...) of inquiry fulfill the role of regimens for curing, ordering, and educating the mind toward an ethical purpose, an idea she tracks back to the ancient tradition of _cultura animi_. Corneanu traces this idea through its early modern revival and illustrates how it organizes the experimental philosophers’ reflections on the discipline of judgment, the study of nature, and the study of Scripture. _ _ _ _ It is through this lens, the author suggests, that the core features of the early modern English experimental philosophy—including its defense of experience, its epistemic modesty, its communal nature, and its pursuit of “objectivity”—are best understood. (shrink)
Francis Bacon and the art of direction -- An art of tempering the mind -- The distempered mind and the tree of knowledge -- A comprehensive culture of the mind -- The end of knowledge -- The study of nature as regimen -- Cultura and medicina animi: an early modern tradition -- The physician of the soul -- Sources -- Genres -- Utility: practical versus speculative knowledge -- Self-love and the fallen/uncultured mind -- The office of reason -- Passions, errors, (...) and assent -- The discipline, the virtues, and habituation -- Virtuoso discipline -- The cure of the mind and Solomon's house -- Passions, errors, and method -- Idols and diseases of the mind -- Epistemic modesty -- The way of inquiry -- A 'union of eyes and hands': the community and objectivity revisited -- Robert Boyle: experience as paideia -- The limits and the 'perfection' of reason -- The weak mind and the virtues of a free inquiry -- Reason and experience -- The Christian philosopher -- John Locke and the education of the mind -- Limits of reason, useful knowledge, and the duty to search for truth -- A natural history of the distempered mind -- The regulation of assent: a perfecting exercise -- The discourse with a friend -- Studying nature -- Lived physics -- The appropriateness of disproportion -- Experience, history, and speculation -- Affective cognition -- Studying 'God's contrivances' -- The study of theology and the growth of the mind -- Worlds and angels -- Reading scripture -- Conclusion. (shrink)
The philosophy of John Macmurray is only now receiving the attention it deserves. It is in the contemporary climate of dissatisfaction with individualism that Macmurray's emphasis on the relations of persons has come to the fore. Moreover, Macmurray's recognition of the central importance of acknowledging human embodiment is being favourably received by a wide range of fields, which includes philosophers, theologians and psychologists.Macmurray's overriding concern is to present an adequate account of the person and of personal relationships. Nevertheless, he is (...) an eclectic writer, whose work addresses concerns in education, science and art, which all stem from his understanding of human agency. In addition, this leads Macmurray into a discussion of the ethics of personal and political relations and a critique of otherworldly religion. Hence, Macmurray's philosophy is informed by fairly unconventional religious beliefs. (shrink)
Investigating key issues in English philosophical, political, and religious thought in the second half of the seventeenth century, this book presents a set of new and intriguing essays on the topics. Particular emphasis is given to the interaction between philosophy and religion among leading political thinkers of the period; connections between philosophical debate on personhood, certainty, and the foundations of faith; and new conceptions of biblical exegesis.
The following article examines the comparison between the human mind and a Commonwealth proposed by Hume in section 1.4.6 of the Treatise of Human Nature. As the members of a given social society do not link their respective interests by causality relations, such a comparison is not to be understood as an illustration of causality relations between perceptions. We would like to prove that such comparison asserts that our belief in personal identity is stemming from the invention of an artificial (...) reality; showing that only the invention of a rule of stability of possession can legitimate the possession of all objects – may they be goods or perceptions – and sets a criterion enabling to differentiate my perceptions from those of my fellows. (shrink)
This book is a major work in the history of ethics, and provides the first study of early modern British philosophy in several decades. Professor Darwall discerns two distinct traditions feeding into the moral philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the one hand, there is the empirical, naturalist tradition, comprising Hobbes, Locke, Cumberland, Hutcheson, and Hume, which argues that obligation is the practical force that empirical discoveries acquire in the process of deliberation. On the other hand, there is (...) a group including Cudworth, Shaftesbury, Butler, and in some moments Locke, which views obligation as inconceivable without autonomy and which seeks to develop a theory of the will as self-determining. (shrink)
Henry Sidgwick sought to interpret F.H. Bradley’s ethics, as presented in Ethical Studies, in fundamentally Aristotelian terms. Sidgwick “found it ‘natural’ to think of self-realization as the ‘realization or development into act of the potentialities constituting the definite formed character of an individual’.” In this paper, I want to demonstrate that, rather than giving the work of Bradley an Aristotelian interpretation, as Sidgwick sought to do, one should focus on studying the Hegelian influences on and the historicist aspects of Ethical (...) Studies. Bradley’s account of the self to be realized is far from approaching Aristotle’s account. First of all, Bradley never speaks in terms of actual and potential character, and he certainly would not accept Sidgwick’s claim that the potentialities constitute the definite formed character of an individual. There is nothing Aristotelian in Bradley’s talk of history and evolution, nor in his holistic doctrine of ethical relativism. (shrink)
Sir George Porter is one of the country's leading scientists. In 1967 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on the chemistry of molecular synthesis caused by light. He is currently President of both the Royal Society and is immediate Past President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Summary Historians of science in Britain lack a firm institutional base. They are to be found scattered around in various departments in universities, polytechnics and museums. Their history over the last thirty-five years can be seen as a series of flirtations with those in more-established disciplines. Beginning with scientists, they then turned to philosophers, moving on to historians and then to sociologists: from each of these affairs something was learned, and the current interest determined which aspects of the history of (...) science were seen as most interesting. At first it was settling who really discovered what; then an interest in concepts, methods and case-studies; then understanding the broader historical context of science; and after that seeing science in its social context, with special emphasis on institutions and professionalization. Where we shall go next is unclear: these vagaries may be no more than examples of intellectual fashion, but we may hope that they represent a zig-zag route towards deeper understanding. (shrink)