According to probabilistic theories of reasoning in psychology, people's degree of belief in an indicative conditional `if A, then B' is given by the conditional probability, P(B|A). The role of language pragmatics is relatively unexplored in the new probabilistic paradigm. We investigated how consequent relevance a ects participants' degrees of belief in conditionals about a randomly chosen card. The set of events referred to by the consequent was either a strict superset or a strict subset of the set of events (...) referred to by the antecedent. We manipulated whether the superset was expressed using a disjunction or a hypernym. We also manipulated the source of the dependency, whether in long-term memory or in the stimulus. For subset-consequent conditionals, patterns of responses were mostly conditional probability followed by conjunction. For superset-consequent conditionals, conditional probability responses were most common for hypernym dependencies and least common for disjunction dependencies, which were replaced with responses indicating inferred consequent irrelevance. Conditional probability responses were also more common for knowledge-based than stimulus-based dependencies. We suggest. (shrink)
We investigated how people interpret conditionals and how stable their interpretation is over a long series of trials. Participants were shown the colored patterns on each side of a six-sided die, and were asked how sure they were that a conditional holds of the side landing upwards when the die is randomly thrown. Participants were presented with 71 trials consisting of all combinations of binary dimensions of shape (e.g., circles and squares) and color (e.g., blue and red) painted onto the (...) sides of each die. In two experiments (N1 = 66, N2 = 65), the conditional event was the dominant interpretation, followed by conjunction, and material conditional responses were negligible. In both experiments, the percentage of participants giving a conditional event response increased from around 40% at the beginning of the task to nearly 80% at the end, with most participants shifting from a conjunction interpretation. The shift was moderated by the order of shape and color in each conditional’s antecedent and consequent: participants were more likely to shift if the antecedent referred to a color. In Experiment 2 we collected response times: conditional event interpretations took longer to process than conjunction interpretations (mean diﬀerence 500 ms). We discuss implications of our results for mental models theory and probabilistic theories of reasoning. (shrink)
Solmsen presents an interesting discussion of Aristotle's physical theory. He considers each topic, such as genesis, time, the infinite, in terms of Aristotle's similarities and differences with Pre-Socratic and Platonic thought. His results are piece-meal because "Aristotle himself does not investigate each topic of his physical system with his mind focused on a final synthesis of all major conclusions."--J. A. B.
A textbook intended largely for beginning students in ethics. In a very interesting concluding chapter, Prof. Garnett presents and justifies his own view of the meaning of ethical terms and of the nature of moral principles. One section of the book is as unusual as it is valuable: it contains collections of opinions on such practical problems as marriage and the family, right of property, and war.--J. A. B.
ABSTRACTTo build a process model of the understanding of conditionals we extract a common core of three semantics of if-then sentences: the conditional event interpretation in the coherencebased probability logic, the discourse processingtheory of Hans Kamp, and the game-theoretical approach of Jaakko Hintikka. The empirical part reports three experiments in which each participant assessed the probability of 52 if-then sentencesin a truth table task. Each experiment included a second task: An n-back task relating the interpretation of conditionals to working memory, (...) a Bayesian bookbag and poker chip task relating the interpretation of conditionals to probability updating, and a probabilistic modus ponens task relating the interpretation of conditionals to a classical inference task. Data analysis shows that the way in which the conditionals are interpreted correlates with each of the supplementary tasks. The results are discussed within the process model proposed in the introduction. (shrink)
Adopting a noncognitivist metaethics, Smart presents hedonistic-act utilitarianism as a position which appeals to benevolent and sympathetic men. He renounces any attempt to prove the position, but he does try to show that it is not open to the usual objections. There are some interesting comments on the concept of happiness and a brief attempt to show a way in which game theory can be used in a utilitarian position.--J. B. S.
One of five short texts in the publisher's "Foundations of Logic Series." Fisk presents a sentential calculus and extensions to uniform and full first-order quantification in terms of natural-deduction principles. The principles laid down are continually justified by reference to our instinctive use of language. In keeping with this approach, Fisk is concerned to base the system on an intensional implication relation which will avoid the familiar paradoxes. Unfortunately, his system S can be proved equivalent to the classical two-valued calculus. (...) This unanticipated result proceeds from principle S7, " p → q ∴ →." However, if S7 is dropped, the philosophical claims made for S hold good. By virtue of short but incisive discussions of controversial philosophical issues, e.g., existence and subjunctive conditionals, this book is a contribution as well as an introduction to philosophical thinking.—J. B. B. (shrink)
The main purpose of this volume is the admirable one of preparing a series of volumes on the global history of philosophy. While the effort falls far short of what we might have hoped for, it must be judged as a good beginning in this area. The volume begins with a listing of introductory works dealing with the philosophies of major cultures: India, China, Japan, Islam, Russia and Latin America. The difficulties of launching into a study of world philosophy become (...) apparent at this point; the bibliographical categories are a mixture of geographical areas and religio-cultural traditions which overlap land-boundaries. The authors now depart from the geographical-cultural schema by organizing the material along a mixture of historical and topical structures--all taken from the western context. The list of historical segments include: Classical Period, Pan-Hellenistic-Bactrian Period, Early "Medieval" Period, The Great Summas, Late "Medieval" Period, "Renaissance" Period, Transition to the Modern Period, and Modern Period. The book concludes with a section dedicated to works concerning the Scientific Revolution and the Philosophy of International Law. In a pocket on the back cover the reader will find two large fold-outs which present "A Synchronological Chart to the Global History of Philosophy."--J. B. L. (shrink)
A collection of essays by members of the department of philosophy in the Hebrew University, on a variety of topics. Jacob Fleishmann's careful analysis of "Hegel's Theory of the Will," is perhaps the outstanding contribution. The volume also includes a valuable study by Rotenstreich on Collingwood's philosophy of history.--J. A. B.
An extraordinarily stimulating work, in which Prof. Conger presents his "hypothesis of epitomization." According to this theory the natural world is divided into three basic realms which are ordered in a number of complex ways. Logical and mathematical entities form realms also, and are epitomized by a "chronogeometric" realm which provides a relational system that constitutes the "milieu" of the natural world.--J. A. B.
A quasi-genetic account of language, intended to be based on an analysis of the science of psychological language and of theories in psychology. Scientific terms are defined in terms of invariant usage. "Protocol statements" are taken as the bulwark of this science. Their definition of psychology: "the study of animal movements and human speech." --J. A. B.
Five interesting essays on problems associated with "teaching values" in colleges, by educators in various fields. The discussions arise from an awareness of a crisis of values in our time, and are intended to formulate explicitly the responsibility of higher education in respect of this crisis. The question as to whether virtue should be taught is discussed and affirmatively answered; the remainder of the volume is concerned with presenting findings as to whether virtue can be taught, and if so, how (...) it can be taught. The genuinely Socratic question, i.e., what is virtue?, is perhaps understandably avoided, but its avoidance must render these other discussions highly tentative.--J. A. B. (shrink)
"This book presents a theory of the nature of things," and counsel in respect of the practical objectives of men. The former marks no advance over the Milesian Pre-Socratics; the latter lacks even the merit of being grounded in a "hard-headed" materialism. --J. A. B.
An attempt to set forth a single principle, i.e., truth, as a standard of value in terms of which all problems may be dealt with. The book provides an excellent negative illustration of the value of a thorough grasp of traditional philosophy. --J. A. B.
The purpose of this pamphlet is to formulate the problems of, and to stimulate thought and discussion on, the concept of the public interest. The authors present a number of common and current theories on the nature of public interest, its relation to earlier, similar ideas, and its significance as a part of political theory.--J. A. B.
For Miss Sewell our apprehension of the world is basically through myth. Art, language, and even mathematics, rightly understood, are kinds of myth. This book centers upon those poets and biologists who share common goals by virtue of their use of the primary form of myth, i.e., "world-language." The major part of this book deals in these terms with such thinkers as Bacon, Linnaeus, and Rilke.--J. A. B.
A re-evaluation of the function of the proofs of God's existence in Thomistic metaphysics. O'Brien's purpose is to "remove the debris of historical and individual deviations on the question of God's existence and rediscover the metaphysical approach indicated by St. Thomas himself."--J. A. B.
This book contains ten excellent essays on symbolism, its nature and function in art, society, religion, science, and psychoanalysis. Six of the essays were originally in 1958 in a special issue of "Daedalus"; of the remainder there is a selection from Whitehead's Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect, and three original contributions of value, of which Erich Kahler's essay on "The Nature of Symbolism" is outstanding.--J. A. B.
According to Thalheimer the proper method of metaphysics is first to define clearly "existence" or "reality," and then to test all the things one can think of against this definition. One can thus come to a decision as to whether or not these things exist. It is in this sense that his metaphysics is "existential." "In the tradition of the Seventeenth Century system builders," this work develops a thesis stated in the author's published doctoral dissertation of 1920. --J. A. B.
In a series of essays, Miss Rand expounds her "Objectivist Ethics." Man will discover, if he is sufficiently rational, those goals and values which are peculiar to him alone, i.e., those which will enable him to survive, and which require complex thought processes. The result of this search is that the moral man is he who achieves his maximum happiness; relationships, whether economic or emotional, are to be based on trade, and no interests conflict if they are viewed in a (...) properly wide context. The essays are quite readable, although not so arresting as Miss Rand's novels; however, the ethics collapses when it is applied to a populous society whose environment is either agriculturally poor or highly mechanized. Given these conditions, if a man views his interest from the limited standpoint of Objectivism, there is a necessary conflict of interests.—J. M. B. (shrink)
An attempt to develop a method for the social sciences based upon a "field theory" of "logico-functional integration of elements" as opposed to older thoroughly monistic or pluralistic approaches. Professor Lins' emphasis upon the unity of the sciences, and his insistence that they use similar methods for the solution of similar problems, produce a rather artificial dialectic in his treatment of the social sciences, and allow him to draw rather trivial conclusions. --J. A. B.
A series of lectures, directed to philosophical laymen, tracing the effects of secular philosophy on religious doctrines. Relevant reflections by Spinoza, Kant, Hume, Nietzsche, James and Santayana are briefly and sensitively discussed.--J. A. B.
The subtitle of this essay can be misleading; the author devotes only one preliminary chapter and a brief part of another chapter to discussing issues of scientific language and method. The book is primarily an essay in the philosophy of mind. Rosenblueth is a well-known neurophysiologist who has considerable background in the philosophy of science. His purpose is to articulate a general philosophical position that is consistent with the results of science as well as with the attitudes and activities of (...) experimental scientists; and to develop from this basis an answer to the question of how mind and brain are related. He spends four chapters summarizing the biological and neurophysiological research that shows the nature of the correlation between mental and neurophysiological events. He concludes from this that our knowledge of the material world is limited to those structures that can be coded by the afferent fibers. He then articulates four unprovable "postulates" which scientists must assume. One of these is a probabilistic statement of causal determinism. This postulate is the basis for his rejecting the idea that the mind can causally influence the brain through volitions. Moreover, he argues for the converse statement as well; the brain cannot cause conscious events since the latter are mental and not material. But this denial of causal interaction does not lead Rosenblueth to conclude that mind/body dualism must be rejected. He considers and rejects the monist views of Feigl, Russell and Eddington, and thus comes up with a dualist view that denies causal interaction. Although the scientific material cited by Rosenblueth is up to date, he does not consider the current philosophical discussions on the mind/body problem.--J. M. B. (shrink)
A sensitive and intelligent inquiry into the nature of mysticism, with special emphasis upon the question as to whether mystical experience is subjective only, or can reasonably be said to refer to an objective reality. There are also careful and valuable discussions of the relation of mysticism to religion and ethics, and of its implications for logic, language, and a theory of immortality.--J. A. B.
A book of very great scope. Abbo briefly presents the doctrines of every significant Western political thinker, along with a liberal amount of historical, biographical and bibliographical material. His discussions take the form of a clear, balanced, but not especially penetrating exposition, followed by critical remarks. The book is directed to an audience of Catholic layman and students; the exposition can be of little use to the specialist, and his critical remarks will often fail to satisfy a non-Catholic reader.--J. A. (...) B. (shrink)
Kantian autonomy is often thought to be independent of time and place, but J. B. Schneewind in his landmark study, The Invention of Autonomy, has shown that there is much to be learned by setting Kant's moral philosophy in the context of the history of modern moral philosophy. The distinguished authors in the collection continue Schneewind's project by relating Kant's work to the historical context of his predecessors and to the empirical context of human agency. This will be a valuable (...) resource for professionals and advanced students in philosophy, the history of ideas, and the history of political thought. (shrink)
This review essay assesses the significance of J. B. Schneewind's "The Invention of Autonomy" for the history of moral thought in general and for religious ethics in particular. The essay offers an overview of Schneewind's complex argument before critically discussing his four central themes: the primacy of Immanuel Kant, the fundamentality of conflict, the insufficiency of virtue, and community with God. Whereas Schneewind argues that an impasse between modern natural law and perfectionist ethics revealed irresolvable tensions within Christian ethics and (...) thus encouraged the emergence of secular moral thought, this author suggests that these tensions were specific to a voluntarist strand of Christian moral thought from which even antivoluntarists of the modern period were unable to break free. (shrink)
J. B. Schneewind's "The Invention of Autonomy" has been hailed as a major interpretation of modern moral thought. Schneewind's narrative, however, elides several serious interpretive issues, particularly in the transition from late medieval to early modern thought. This results in potentially distorted accounts of Thomas Aquinas, Hugo Grotius, and G. W. Leibniz. Since these thinkers play a crucial role in Schneewind's argument, uncertainty over their work calls into question at least some of Schneewind's larger agenda for the history of ethics.