Assuming S5, the main controversial premise in modal ontological arguments is the possibility premise, such as that possibly a maximally great being exists. I shall offer a new way of arguing that the possibility premise is probably true.
Some of the greatest writers on moral philosophy have claimed that their theories about morality do not run counter to the moral views of ordinary men, but on the contrary are an elucidation of such views, or provide them with a sound philosophical underpinning. Aristotle, for example, made it quite clear that he could not take seriously a moral view that was at odds with the heritage of moral wisdom deeply imbedded in his society. His doctrine of the mean was (...) based on a philosophical consideration of such wisdom. And Immanuel Kant thought that his moral philosophy articulated the moral views of ordinary men. (shrink)
In this paper we develop an analysis of dispositions by means of causal Bayes nets. In particular, we analyze dispositions as cause-effect structures that increase the probability of the manifestation when the stimulus is brought about by intervention in certain circumstances. We then highlight several advantages of our analysis and how it can handle problems arising for classical analyses of dispositions such as masks, mimickers, and finks.
This paper discusses two passages from Alexander of Aphrodisias’s commentary on Aristotle’s Topics that are transmitted in Ps-Jābir’s Kitāb al-Nukhab. It argues that the Arabic translation of Alexander’s commentary may have been made from a fuller version than what came down to us in Greek. Especially since the author of the Jābir-corpus form a tradition different from the school of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq and authors associated to the ‘Baghdad school’, whose earliest figure is Abū Bishr Mattā b. Yūnus, (...) the Arabic fragments of Alexander’s commentary preserved in the Kitāb al-Nukhab promise to shed more light on the early reception of the Topics and the different contexts in which Aristotelian dialectic was studied in the Islamic world. (shrink)
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
Some, notably Peter van Inwagen, in order to avoid problems with free will and omniscience, replace the condition that an omniscient being knows all true propositions with a version of the apparently weaker condition that an omniscient being knows all knowable true propositions. I shall show that the apparently weaker condition, when conjoined with uncontroversial claims and the logical closure of an omniscient being's knowledge, still yields the claim that an omniscient being knows all true propositions.
Social and behavioral scientists — that is, students of human nature — nowadays hardly ever use the term ‘human nature’. This reticence reflects both a becoming modesty about the aims of their disciplines and a healthy skepticism about whether there is any one thing really worthy of the label ‘human nature’. For some feature of humankind to be identified as accounting for our ‘nature’, it would have to reflect some property both distinctive of our species and systematically influential enough to (...) explain some very important aspect of our behavior. Compare: molecular structure gives the essence or the nature of water just because it explains most of its salient properties. Few students of the human sciences currently hold that there is just one or a small number of such features that can explain our actions and/or our institutions. And even among those who do, there is reluctance to label their theories as claims about ‘human nature’. Among anthropologists and sociologists, the label seems too universal and indiscriminant to be useful. The idea that there is a single underlying character that might explain similarities threatens the differences among people and cultures that these social scientists seek to uncover. Even economists, who have explicitly attempted to parlay rational choice theory into an account of all human behavior, do not claim that the maximization of transitive preferences is ‘human nature’. I think part of the reason that social scientists are reluctant to use ‘human nature’ is that the term has traditionally labeled a theory with normative implications as well as descriptive ones. (shrink)
The free-will defence holds that the value of significant free will is so great that God is justified in creating significantly free creatures even if there is a risk or certainty that these creatures will sin. A difficulty for the FWD, developed carefully by Quentin Smith, is that God is unable to do evil, and yet surely lacks no genuinely valuable kind of freedom. Smith argues that the kind of freedom that God has can be had by creatures, without a (...) risk of creatures doing evil. I shall show that Smith's argument fails – the case of God is disanalogous to the case of creatures precisely because creatures are creatures. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to show that a certain law of nature, namely that common salt (sodium chloride) dissolves in water, is metaphysically necessary. The importance of this result is that it conﬂicts with a widely shared intuition that the laws of nature (most if not all) are contingent. There have been debates over whether some laws, such as Newton’s second law, might be deﬁnitional of their key terms and hence necessary. But the law that salt dissolves in water (...) is not that kind of law. The law statement ‘salt dissolves in water’ is clearly synthetic. It appears a classic case of a contingent law. We like to believe that there are possible worlds in which the laws of nature are different and in which salt does not dissolve in water. (shrink)
Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby have argued that pornography might create a climate whereby a woman’s ability to refuse sex is literally silenced or removed. Their central argument is that a failure of ‘uptake’ of the woman’s intention means that the illocutionary speech act of refusal has not taken place. In this paper, I challenge the claims from the Austinian philosophy of language which feature in this argument. I argue that uptake is not in general required for illocution, nor is (...) it required for refusal in particular. I conclude with remarks on the relationship between illocutionary and perlocutionary speech-acts. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider two different attempts to make an end run around the experimentalist challenge to the armchair use of intuitions: one due to Max Deutsch and Herman Cappelen, contending that philosophers do not appeal to intuitions, but rather to arguments, in canonical philosophical texts; the other due to Joshua Knobe, arguing that intuitions are so stable that there is in fact no empirical basis for the experimentalist challenge in the first place. We show that a closer attention (...) to philosophical practices reveal, in turn, that we cannot make sense of these philosophical texts as arguments all the way down; and that our methods are so sensitive to error that even a modest amount of instability is enough to raise deep methodological concerns. (shrink)
A common objection to the very idea of conceptual engineering is the topic continuity problem: whenever one tries to “reengineer” a concept, one only shifts attention away from one concept to another. Put diﬀerently, there is no such thing as conceptual revision: there’s only conceptual replacement. Here, I show that topic continuity is compatible with conceptual replacement. Whether the topic is preserved in an act of conceptual replacement simply depends on what is being replaced (a conceptual tool or a conceptual (...) role) and what the topic under discussion is. Thus, the topic continuity problem only arises from a failure to specify these two things. (shrink)
This volume contains the Arabic translations of a lost treatise by Alexander of Aphrodisias (c. AD 200) "On the Principles of the Universe" with English translation, introduction and commentary. It also includes an Arabic and Syriac glossary. The introduction and commentary deal in detail with the manuscripts, the translators and the exegetical tendencies of the text, as well as with its reception in Arabic philosophy. The main theme of the work is the motion of the heavenly bodies and their (...) influence on the physical world. (shrink)
This paper re-contextualises Popper within a Kantian tradition by examining his interaction with the Vienna Circle. The complexity of Popper's relationship to the Vienna Circle is often a point of confusion as some view him as a member of the Vienna Circle while others minimise his association with this group. This paper argues that Popper was not a member of the Vienna Circle or a positivist but shared many neo-Kantian philosophical tendencies with the members of the Circle as well as (...) many of their philosophical problems and interests. By better understanding the influence of the Circle's members upon Popper, we not only remove the myths surrounding Popper's positivism, but also place the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle within its proper philosophical context. This paper further argues that it was Popper's friend during his formative philosophical years in Vienna, Julius Kraft who was responsible for the way in which Popper approached Kant. Through Kraft, Popper was introduced to the thought of Leonard Nelson and Jakob Fries as well as a tradition of critical rationalism which Popper would continue both in his methodological orientation as well as through his late German Enlightenment intellectual values. (shrink)
Die Untersuchung analysiert deswegen nach einem einleitenden Vorschlag zur Bestimmung des Verhältnisses von Logik und Metaphysik im Anschluss an Leibniz Baumgartens Erkenntnistheorie in ihrer charakteristischen Komplementarität von Ästhetik und Logik, die das gesamte Feld aller möglichen Gewissheit, d. h. des Bewusstseins der Wahrheit der verschiedensten Erkenntnisse, abdecken. Darüber hinaus erörtert sie auch deren mögliche Gegenstände, nämlich die Beschaffenheit der Dinge, wie sie das Wissen Gottes als eine ideale Metaphysik enthielte. Auf der Grundlage einer Ontologie teilweise unbestimmer aktualer Existenz kommt Baumgarten (...) zu einer kosmologischen Theorie monadischer Bewegtheit aller körperlichen Dinge. Sie führt zu einer Psychologie des Erkennens und Handelns, aus der ein indeterministischer Begriff menschlicher Willensfreiheit folgt, die auch von Gottes Allwissen nicht beschränkt wird. (shrink)
I present a new kind of A-theory. On this proposal, time’s passing is a metaphysically fundamental aspect of reality. I take this to mean that there are fundamental facts like: four hours passed from 8am today until noon. This A-theory also posits fundamental facts about the state of the universe at a given time, and about cross-temporal relationships. The proposed metaphysical package attractively articulates our pre-relativistic conception of time. I defend the proposal from a number of orthodox objections: fundamental facts (...) need not be aspects of current reality (§2); our package can and should posit fundamental cross-temporal relationships (§3); it resolves the difficulty of choosing between ‘presentist’ and ‘eternalist’ A-theories (§4); it evades the so-called ‘problem of temporary intrinsics’ (§5). (shrink)
Is a government required or permitted to redistribute the gains and losses that differences in biological endowments generate? In particular, does the fact that individuals possess different biological endowments lead to unfair advantages within a market economy? These are questions on which some people are apt to have strong intuitions and ready arguments. Egalitarians may say yes and argue that as unearned, undeserved advantages and disadvantages, biological endowments are never fair, and that the market simply exacerbates these inequities. Libertarians may (...) say no, holding that the possession of such endowments deprives no one of an entitlement and that any system but a market would deprive agents of the rights to their endowments. Biological endowments may well lead to advantages or disadvantages on their view, but not to unfair ones. I do not have strong intuitions about answers to these questions, in part because I believe that they are questions of great difficulty. To begin, alternative answers rest on substantial assumptions in moral philosophy that seem insufficiently grounded. Moreover, the questions involve several problematical assumptions about the nature of biological endowments. Finally, I find the questions to be academic, in the pejorative sense of this term. For aside from a number of highly debilitating endowments, the overall moral significance of differences between people seems so small, so I interdependent and so hard to measure, that these differences really will 1 not enter into practical redistributive calculations, even if it is theoretically i permissible that they do so. Before turning to a detailed discussion of biological endowments and their moral significance, I sketch my doubts about the fundamental moral theories that dictate either the impermissibility or the obligation to compensate for different biological endowments. (shrink)
In the Museum of Science and Technology in San Jose, California, there is a display dedicated to advances in biotechnology. Most prominent in the display is a double helix of telephone books stacked in two staggered spirals from the floor to the ceiling twenty-five feet above. The books are said to represent the current state of our knowledge of the eukaryotic genome: the primary sequences of DNA polynucleotides for the gene products which have been discovered so far in the twenty (...) years since cloning and sequencing the genome became possible. (shrink)
“Ex nihilo nihil fit,” goes the classic adage: nothing comes from nothing. Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Nothing happens in vain, but everything for a reason and under necessitation,” claimed Leucippus. Saint Thomas insisted in the.