This introduction to a collection of papers on normativity provides a framework modelled on the division in ethics to approach normative issues. It suggests that is is useful to divide questions about normativity into five groups: normative ontology, normative semantics, normative epistemology, normative psychology, and substantial normative theory.
An explanation is given of why it is in the nature of inquiry into whether or not p that its aim is fully achieved only if one comes to know that p or to know that not-p and, further, comes to know how one knows, either way. In the absence of the latter one is in no position to take the inquiry to be successfully completed or to vouch for the truth of the matter in hand. An upshot is that (...) although knowledge matters because truth matters this should not be understood to mean that knowledge matters because true belief matters. (shrink)
[Alan Weir] This paper addresses the problem of how to account for objective content-for the distinction between how we actually apply terms and the conditions in which we ought to apply them-from within a naturalistic framework. Though behaviourist or dispositionalist approaches are generally held to be unsuccessful in naturalising objective content or 'normativity', I attempt to restore the credibility of such approaches by sketching a behaviouristic programme for explicating objective content. /// [Alexander Miller] Paul Boghossian (1989, 1990) has argued, (...) on grounds concerning the holistic nature of belief fixation, that there are principled reasons for thinking that 'optimal conditions' versions of reductive dispositionalism about content cannot hope to satisfy a condition of extensional accuracy. I discern three separable strands of argument in Boghossian's work-the circularity objection, the open-endedness objection, and the certification objection-and argue that each of these objections fails. My conclusion is that for all that Boghossian has shown, 'optimal conditions' versions of reductive dispositionalism have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
As a preliminary to the justification of equal opportunity, we require a few words on the concept. An opportunity is a chance to attain some goal or obtain some benefit. More precisely, it is the lack of some obstacle or obstacles to the attainment of some goal or benefit. Opportunities are equal in some specified or understood sense when persons face roughly the same obstacles or obstacles of roughly the same difficulty of some specified or understood sort. In different contexts (...) we might have different sorts of benefits or obstacles in mind. But in the current social context, and in the context of this discussion, we refer to educational and occupational opportunities, chances to attain the benefits of higher education and of socially and economically desirable positions, benefits assumed to be desired by many or most individuals, other things being equal. And we generally divide obstacles into two broad classes: those imposed by the social system or by other persons in the society, for example, the hardships of life in the lower economic classes or barriers from prejudices based on race, sex, or ethnic background; and those imposed by natural disabilities, for example, low intelligence or lack of talents. The initial question is whether a moral society is obligated to create equality in opportunities in the senses just defined. I shall assume here initially that there is some such obligation on the part of society or the state, although I shall specify its nature and limits more precisely below. With the exception of certain libertarians, almost everyone, liberal and conservative alike, agrees in this assumption. (shrink)
Economic approaches to both social evaluation and decision-making are typically Paretian or utilitarian in nature and so display commitments to both welfarism and consequentialism. The contrast between the economic approach and any rights-based social philosophy has spawned a large literature that may be divided into two branches. The first is concerned with the compatibility of rights and utilitarianism seen as independent moral forces. This branch of the literature may be characterized as an example of the broader debate between the teleological (...) and deontological approaches. The second is concerned with the possibility that substantial rights may be grounded in utilitarianism with the moral force of rights being derived from more basic commitments to welfarism and consequentialism. This branch of the literature may be characterized as an exploration of the flexibility of the teleological approach, and, in particular, its ability to give rise to views more normally associated with the deontological approach. This essay is concerned with the second branch of the literature. (shrink)
Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch on (...) consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
In this essay I wish to defend the intuition that God transcends time, of which he is the Creator. To do this, I will develop a new understanding of the term ‘timeless eternity’ as it applies to God. This assumes the inadequacy of the traditional notion of divine eternity, as it is found in Boethius, Anselm and Aquinas. Very briefly, the reasons for this inadequacy are as follows. God sustains the universe, which means in part that he is responsible for (...) the fundamental ontological status of things. Because the universe is an everchanging reality, things do change in their fundamental ontological status at different times – a change we must ascribe to God, and cannot ascribe to the objects themselves, since this has to do with their very existence. God himself, therefore, does different things at different times. This implies change in God. Whenever a change occurs, a duration occurs. Therefore, God is in time. But I do not think it is proper to say that God is in our time. God transcends time, and he is the Creator of our space-time. It is theologically more proper to say that we are in God's time, and I will adopt this language here. (shrink)
A substantial body of literature has been produced in the twentieth century by religious and philosophical writers on the ethics of belief. Discussion of this topic has generally focused on the processes leading up to belief within the individual, so that it would not be inaccurate to say that for most of these writers ‘the ethics of belief’ means ‘the ethics of coming–to–believe’. There has been little attention among these writers, however, to the moral questions which surround the production or (...) inducement of beliefs in others, to the ethics of persuasion . An extension of the ethics of belief to cover moral issues which arise in connection with persuasion seems reasonable; the ethics of belief, widely construed, might be said to encompass questions about both the production of beliefs within oneself and the inducement of beliefs in others. (shrink)
In this book, Alan Wertheimer seeks to identify when a transaction or relationship can be properly regarded as exploitative--and not oppressive, manipulative, or morally deficient in some other way--and explores the moral weight of taking ...
In a detailed and spirited critique, Professor James M. Humber has found my defence of the ontological argument unconvincing. Humber's case rests upon his claim that my ‘error’ is due to my ‘having accepted an incorrect definition of “physically necessary being” … ’. Now I do indeed claim that God must be conceived as a factuall necessary being, i.e. as eternally independent. I take the notion of God's aseity or eternal independence to be relatively straightforward and uncontroversial; it is accepted (...) as an essential component of the concept God by many philosophers who also insist that there is no acceptable form of demonstrative theism. Thus, it is widely held that ‘God is a factually necessary being’ does not imply ‘God is a logically necessary being’; that God is eternally independent does not imply that he exists in all possible worlds. But it is precisely this view that I have argued is incorrect. While I concur that there is an intelligible concept of God as factually necessary, I deny that the existence of such a being is logically contingent, a mere matter of empirical fact. Indeed, a rigorous inspection of the concept of an eternally independent being reveals that whether that concept is instantiated, i.e. whether there exists a being exemplifying that concept, is knowable a priori . My claim is in fact stronger than this. I argue that the existence of an eternal, independent, omniscient and omnipotent being is demonstrable by conceptual analysis. It is Humber's contention that my alleged demonstration of God's existence crumbles upon the discovery of the unacceptability of my definition of ‘factually necessary being’. Let us see. (shrink)
This essay develops a liberal account of the mens rea requirement of criminal liability and identifies the fault level required by that account. By “a liberal account” is meant one that interprets the meaning of mens rea in a way that reconciles liability to coercion with the individual's inviolability. The article argues that the wrongdoer's choice to interfere or to risk interfering with another agent's capacity to act on his own ends is the level of fault required to make punishment (...) implicitly self-imposed by the recipient and thus distinguishable from the wrongdoer's violence. Such a choice is one to which a denial of rights of agency may be logically imputed, a denial by which the wrongdoer implicitly authorizes his own coercibility. This version of subjectivism is, I argue, invulnerable against criticisms leveled against other versions. While staking out defensible subjectivist ground, the article criticizes the character, choice, and opportunity theories of mens rea proposed by Fletcher, Moore, and Hart, and elaborates the interpretations of exculpatory conditions flowing from the subjectivist thesis. Finally, it addresses arguments advanced by Ripstein, Duff, and Horder for eliminating the requirement of a conscious choice to do that which amounts to a denial of rights. (shrink)
A major voice in late twentieth-century philosophy, Alan Donagan is distinguished for his theories on the history of philosophy and the nature of morality. The Philosophical Papers of Alan Donagan, volumes 1 and 2, collect 28 of Donagan's most important and best-known essays on historical understanding and ethics from 1957 to 1991. Volume 2 addresses issues in the philosophy of action and moral theory. With papers on Kant, von Wright, Sellars, and Chisholm, this volume also covers a range (...) of questions in applied ethics--from the morality of Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to ethical questions in medicine and law. (shrink)
Alan Millar examines our understanding of why people think and act as they do. His key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework which we use to understand each other. Millar offers illuminating discussions of reasons for belief and reasons for action, the explanation of beliefs and actions in terms of the subject's reasons, the idea that simulation has a key role in understanding people, and the limits of explanation in terms of propositional (...) attitudes. (shrink)
We are all concerned by the environmental threats facing us today. Environmental issues are a major area of concern for policy makers, industrialists and public groups of many different kinds. While science seems central to our understanding of such threats, the statements of scientists are increasingly open to challenge in this area. Meanwhile, citizens may find themselves labelled as "ignorant" in environmental matters. In Citizen Science Alan Irwin provides a much needed route through the fraught relationship between science, the (...) public and the environmental threat. (shrink)
'Working Memory, Thought, and Action' is the magnum opus of one of the most influential cognitive psychologists of the past 50 years. This new volume on the model he created discusses the developments that have occurred within the model in the past twenty years, and places it within a broader context.
Linked by Donagan's commitment to the central importance of history for philosophy and his interest in problems of historical understanding, these essays represent the remarkable scope of Donagan's thought.
With papers on Kant, von Wright, Sellars, and Chisholm, this volume also covers a range of questions in applied ethics—from the morality of Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to ethical questions in medicine ...
"When John Dewey died in 1952, he was memorialized as America's most famous philosopher, revered by liberal educators and deplored by conservatives, but universally acknowledged as his country's intellectual voice. Many things conspired to give Dewey an extraordinary intellectual eminence: He was immensely long-lived and immensely prolific; he died in his ninety-third year, and his intellectual productivity hardly slackened until his eighties." "Professor Alan Ryan offers new insights into Dewey's many achievements, his character, and the era in which his (...) scholarship had a remarkable impact. He investigates the question of what an American audience wanted from a public philosopher - from an intellectual figure whose credentials came from his academic standing as a philosopher, but whose audience was much wider than an academic one." "Ryan argues that Dewey's "religious" outlook illuminates his politics much more vividly than it does the politics of religion as ordinarily conceived. He examines how Dewey fit into the American radical tradition, how he was and was not like his transatlantic contemporaries, why he could for so long practice a form of philosophical inquiry that became unfashionable in England after 1914 at the latest."--BOOK JACKET. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the history of analytic philosophy in general and of logical positivism in particular. It provides the first detailed and comprehensive study of Rudolf Carnap, one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century philosophy. The focus of the book is Carnap's first major work: Der logische Aufbau der Welt. It reveals tensions within the context of German epistemology and philosophy of science in the early twentieth century. Alan Richardson argues that Carnap's move to (...) philosophy of science in the 1930s was largely an attempt to dissolve the tension in his early epistemology. This book fills a significant gap in the literature on the history of twentieth-century philosophy. It will be of particular importance to historians of analytic philosophy, philosophers of science, and historians of science. (shrink)
Introduction: Natural necessity, being, and becoming -- Accentuate the negative -- Diffracting dialectic -- Opening totality -- Constellating ethics -- Metacritique I : philosophy's primordial failing -- Metacritique II : dialectic and difference -- Conclusion: Natural necessity and the grounds of justice : natural necessity as material meshwork.
Alan Miller offers a focused account of perceptual knowledge, the knowledge that we gain by means of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. He explains perceptual knowledge in terms of general recognitional abilities, then situates that account within a broader perspective on epistemology and philosophical method more generally.
Alan Turing’s pioneering work on computability, and his ideas on morphological computing support Andrew Hodges’ view of Turing as a natural philosopher. Turing’s natural philosophy differs importantly from Galileo’s view that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics (The Assayer, 1623). Computing is more than a language used to describe nature as computation produces real time physical behaviors. This article presents the framework of Natural info-computationalism as a contemporary natural philosophy that builds on the legacy (...) of Turing’s computationalism. The use of info-computational conceptualizations, models and tools makes possible for the first time in history modeling of complex self-organizing adaptive systems, including basic characteristics and functions of living systems, intelligence, and cognition. (shrink)