I am very much honoured to have been asked to make the closing speech at this Conference. Since this is the first time for over fifty years that a philosophical congress of this scope has been held in England, I hope that you will think it suitable for me to devote my lecture to the revival of the empiricist tradition in British philosophy during this century. I shall begin by examining the contribution of the Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore. Though (...) he first owed his fame to his book Principia Ethica regarded as a work of genius by the Cambridge Apostles and their associates in Bloomsbury, who did not venture to question Moore's mistaken view of ‘good’ as an unanalysable non-natural quality, his reputation now chiefly rests on his subsequent defence of common sense. (shrink)
Is a whole something more than the sum of its parts? Are there things composed of the same parts? If you divide an object into parts, and divide those parts into smaller parts, will this process ever come to an end? Can something lose parts or gain new ones without ceasing to be the thing it is? Does any multitude of things (including disparate things such as you, this book, and the tail of a cat) compose a whole of some (...) sort? Questions such as these have occupied us for at least as long as philosophy has existed. They define the field that has come to be known as mereology-the study of all relations of part to whole and of part to part within a whole-and have deep and far-reaching ramifications in metaphysics as well as in logic, the foundations of mathematics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science, and beyond. In Mereology, A. J. Cotnoir and Achille C. Varzi have compiled decades of advanced research into a comprehensive, up-to-date, and formally rigorous picture. The early chapters cover the more classical aspects of mereology; the rest of the book deals with variants and extensions. Whether you are an established professional philosopher, an interested student, or a newcomer, inside you will find all the tools you need to join this ever-evolving field of inquiry and theorize about all things mereological. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's book On Certainty which was first published in 1969, eighteen years after his death, is a collection of notes which he composed during the last eighteen months of his life. As his editors explain in their preface, these notes, which were written at four different periods, are all in the form of a first draft. They are more repetitive than they no doubt would have been if Wittgenstein had been able to revise them. Even so, they are characteristically succinct (...) and penetrating, and the argument which they develop is easier to follow than that of the general run of Wittgenstein's later work. (shrink)
There is a strong tendency in the scholarly and sub-scholarly literature on terrorism to treat it as something like an ideology. There is an equally strong tendency to treat it as always immoral. Both tendencies go hand in hand with a considerable degree of unclarity about the meaning of the term ‘terrorism’. I shall try to dispel this unclarity and I shall argue that the first tendency is the product of confusion and that once this is understood, we can see, (...) in the light of a more definite analysis of terrorism, that the second tendency raises issues of inconsistency, and even hypocrisy. Finally, I shall make some tentative suggestions about what categories of target may be morally legitimate objects of revolutionary violence, and I shall discuss some lines of objection to my overall approach. (shrink)
This work offers a new theory of what it means to be a legal person and suggests that it is best understood as a cluster property. The book explores the origins of legal personhood, the issues afflicting a traditional understanding of the concept, and the numerous debates surrounding the topic.
An original contribution to fundamental metaphysics. It offers a theory of possible individuals and possible worlds. It endeavors to show how its theory of possibility is adequate to various philosophical demands, such as those of modal logic. It employs its theory of possibility to clarify and resolve issues concerning such topics as disposition concepts and counterfactual conditionals. And it deals fruitfully with related metaphysical problems, such as essentialism, the doctrine of internal relations, and so on. The theory of possibility, spelled (...) out formally and with considerable detail, is a development of the approach to possibility suggested by Rescher in his earlier book, Conceptual Idealism. (shrink)
Our trust in the word of others is often dismissed as unworthy, because the illusory ideal of "autonomous knowledge" has prevailed in the debate about the nature of knowledge. Yet we are profoundly dependent on others for a vast amount of what any of us claim to know. Coady explores the nature of testimony in order to show how it might be justified as a source of knowledge, and uses the insights that he has developed to challenge certain widespread assumptions (...) in the areas of history, law, mathematics, and psychology. (shrink)
This article introduces a new formulation of the interest theory of rights. The focus is on ‘Bentham’s test’, which was devised by Matthew Kramer to limit the expansiveness of the interest theory. According to the test, a party holds a right correlative to a duty only if that party stands to undergo a development that is typically detrimental if the duty is breached. The article shows how the entire interest theory can be reformulated in terms of the test. The article (...) then focuses on a further strength of the interest theory, brought to the fore by the new formulation. In any Western legal system, the tortious maltreatment of a child or a mentally disabled individual results in a compensatory duty. The interest theory can account for such duties in a simple and elegant way. The will theory, on the other hand, struggles to explain such compensatory duties unless it abandons some of its main tenets. (shrink)
Peter Geach supports his case that the religion of Thomas Hobbes was both genuine and a version of Socinianism principally by comparing the theological and scriptural sections of Leviathan with the main doctrines of Socinianism and its latter-day developments in Unitarianism and Christadelphianism. He pays particular attention to comparisons with the Racovian Catechism, the theological writings of Joseph Priestley and the Christadelphian document Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts.
The relationship between John Locke and Isaac Newton, his co-founder of, in the apt phrase of one recent writer, ‘the Moderate Enlightenment’ of the eighteenth century, has many dimensions. There is their friendship, which began only after each had written his major work, and which had its stormy interlude. There is the difficult question of their mutual impact. In what ways did each draw intellectually on the other? That there was some debt of each to the other is almost certain, (...) but its exact extent is problematic. Questions may be asked over a whole range of intellectual issues, but not always answered. Thus their theology, which was in many respects close, and which forms the bulk of their surviving correspondence, may yet reveal mutual influence. There is the question of their political views, where both were firmly Whig. But it is upon their philosophy, and certain aspects of their philosophy in particular, that this paper will concentrate. My main theme is the nature of their empiricism, and my main contention is that between them they produced a powerful and comprehensive philosophy. (shrink)
Although there are many different philosophical hares that could be started by the use of the term ‘historical fact’ I am interested in pursuing one that is related to the historian's attitude to testimony. By way of preliminary, however, I should say something about my use of the word ‘fact’. A contrast that sets off my use best is probably that between fact and theory. This distinction is at once methodological and epistemological in that it concerns the structure of inquiry (...) as well as the structure of secure belief. As far as inquiry is concerned it is plausible to suppose that an investigation begins with a problem or a puzzle, the delineation of which requires certain data in the form of propositions that are known to be true, or are taken for granted or commonly agreed upon as sufficiently secure to provide a grounding for the inquiry. It is to cover such data that I am using the word ‘fact’ and hence it will not refer to just any true proposition. Theories however stand as the outcome of inquiry and involve generality and inference and classification in a way that facts do not. It is interesting that the term ‘datum’ came into use in English at the same time that the word ‘fact’, which had meant ‘a deed or action’, acquired the sort of meaning that interests me here. (shrink)
A. J. Ayer, who died in 1989, was acknowledged as one of Britain's most distinguished philosophers. In this memorial collection of essays leading Western philosophers reflect on Ayer's place in the history of philosophy and explore aspects of his thought and teaching. The volume also includes a posthumous essay by Ayer himself: 'A defence of empiricism'. These essays are undoubtedly a fitting tribute to a major figure, but the collection is not simply retrospective; rather it looks forward to present and (...) future developments in philosophical thought that Ayer's work has stimulated. (shrink)
The ‘beautiful axiom’ to which Dickens refers is a central feature of Thomas Hobbes' thinking but its precise role in his moral philosophy remains unclear. I shall here attempt both to dispel the unclarity and to evaluate the adequacy of the position that emerges. Given the high level of contemporary interest in Hobbes' thought, both within and beyond philosophical circles, this is an enterprise of considerable importance. None the less, my interest is not merely interpretative, since the assessment of Hobbes' (...) attitude to ‘the beautiful axiom’ raises important and difficult questions about what might be termed the preconditions of morality. (shrink)
It is often argued that the existence of qualia -- private mental objects -- shows that physicalism is false. In this paper, I argue that to think in terms of qualia is a misleading way to develop what is in itself a valid intuition about the inability of physicalism to do justice to our conscious experience. I consider arguments by Dennett and Wittgenstein which indicate what is wrong with the notion of qualia, but which by so doing, help us to (...) locate the real problem for physicalism. This is not that there may be mental as well as physical objects of which we are aware, but that the very notion of awareness is itself resistant to physicalist treatment. In the concluding sections, I draw on Wittgenstein's positive account of sensations, to suggest a way in which the apparent chasm separating objective and subjective viewpoints might be bridged in a non-reductive fashion. (shrink)
Fowlie portrays Claudel as a versatile spirit, synthesizing his interests in politics and art in his religious concern. Especially interesting are the remarks on Claudel's theories of art, in which the religious poet particularly functions as the interpreter of a deeper imaginative self. Fowlie's criticism of the poems and plays throws welcome light on works whose meaning is not easily made luminous.--A. J. S.
A. J. Ayer was one of the foremost analytical philosophers of the twentieth century, and was known as a brilliant and engaging speaker. In essays based on his influential Dewey Lectures, Ayer addresses some of the most critical and controversial questions in epistemology and the philosophy of science, examining the nature of inductive reasoning and grappling with the issues that most concerned him as a philosopher. This edition contains revised and expanded versions of the lectures and two additional essays. Ayer (...) begins by considering Hume's formulation of the problem of induction and then explores the inferences on which we base our beliefs in factual matters. In other essays, he defines the three kinds of probability that inform inductive reasoning and examines the various criteria for verifiability and falsifiability. In his extensive introduction, Graham Macdonald discusses the arguments in _Probability and Evidence_, how they relate to Ayer's other works, and their influence in contemporary philosophy. He also provides a brief biographical sketch of Ayer, and includes a bibliography of works about and in response to _Probability and Evidence_. (shrink)