There is an underlying assumption in the social sciences that consciousness and social life are ultimately classical physical/material phenomena. In this ground-breaking book, Alexander Wendt challenges this assumption by proposing that consciousness is, in fact, a macroscopic quantum mechanical phenomenon. In the first half of the book, Wendt justifies the insertion of quantum theory into social scientific debates, introduces social scientists to quantum theory and the philosophical controversy about its interpretation, and then defends the quantum consciousness hypothesis against the (...) orthodox, classical approach to the mind-body problem. In the second half, he develops the implications of this metaphysical perspective for the nature of language and the agent-structure problem in social ontology. Wendt's argument is a revolutionary development which raises fundamental questions about the nature of social life and the work of those who study it. (shrink)
For much of its history, philosophy was not merely a theoretical discipline but a way of life, an "art of living." This practical aspect of philosophy has been much less dominant in modernity than it was in ancient Greece and Rome, when philosophers of all stripes kept returning to Socrates as a model for living. The idea of philosophy as an art of living has survived in the works of such major modern authors as Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Each of (...) these writers has used philosophical discussion as a means of establishing what a person is and how a worthwhile life is to be lived. In this wide-ranging, brilliantly written account, Alexander Nehamas provides an incisive reevaluation of Socrates' place in the Western philosophical tradition and shows the importance of Socrates for Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Why does each of these philosophers—each fundamentally concerned with his own originality—return to Socrates as a model? The answer lies in the irony that characterizes the Socrates we know from the Platonic dialogues. Socratic irony creates a mask that prevents a view of what lies behind. How Socrates led the life he did, what enabled or inspired him, is never made evident. No tenets are proposed. Socrates remains a silent and ambiguous character, forcing readers to come to their own conclusions about the art of life. This, Nehamas shows, is what allowed Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault to return to Socrates as a model without thereby compelling them to imitate him. This highly readable, erudite study argues for the importance of the tradition within Western philosophy that is best described as "the art of living" and casts Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault as the three major modern representatives of this tradition. Full of original ideas and challenging associations, this work will offer new ways of thinking about the philosophers Nehamas discusses and about the discipline of philosophy itself. (shrink)
Alexander R. Pruss examines a large family of paradoxes to do with infinity - ranging from deterministic supertasks to infinite lotteries and decision theory. Having identified their common structure, Pruss considers at length how these paradoxes can be resolved by embracing causal finitism.
Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in philosophy of science, since the 1980s. However, philosophers (...) have recently begun to break with this causal tradition by shifting their focus to kinds of explanation that do not turn on causal information. The increasing recognition of the importance of such non-causal explanations in the sciences and elsewhere raises pressing questions for philosophers of explanation. What is the nature of non-causal explanations – and which theory best captures it? How do non-causal explanations relate to causal ones? How are non-causal explanations in the sciences related to those in mathematics and metaphysics? This volume of new essays explores answers to these and other questions at the heart of contemporary philosophy of explanation. The essays address these questions from a variety of perspectives, including general accounts of non-causal and causal explanations, as well as a wide range of detailed case studies of non-causal explanations from the sciences, mathematics and metaphysics. (shrink)
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.
Necessary Existence breaks ground on one of the deepest questions anyone ever asks: why is there anything? Pruss and Rasmussen present an original defence of the hypothesis that there is a necessarily existing being capable of providing an ultimate foundation for the existence of all things.
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)
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)
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)
Starting with Gottlob Frege's foundational theories of sense and reference, Miller provides a useful introduction to the formal logic used in all subsequent philosophy of language. He communicates a sense of active philosophical debate by confronting the views of the early theorists concerned with building systematic theories - such as Frege, Bertrand Russell, and the logical positivists - with the attacks mounted by sceptics - such as W.O. Quine, Saul Kripke, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This leads to important excursions into related (...) areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science that present the more recent attempts to save the notions of sense and meaning by philosophers such as Paul Grice, John Searle, Jerry Fodor, Colin McGinn, and Crispin Wright. Miller then returns to the systematic program by examining the formal theories of Donald Davidson, concluding with a chapter surveying the relevance of philosophy of language to the broader metaphysical debates between realists and anti-realists. Miller's clear, engaged, and coherently structured approach makes Philosophy of Language an ideal text for undergraduate courses. The guides to further reading provided in each chapter help the reader pursue interesting topics further and facilitate using the book in conjunction with primary sources. (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.
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)
Classical real-valued probabilities come at a philosophical cost: in many infinite situations, they assign the same probability value—namely, zero—to cases that are impossible as well as to cases that are possible. There are three non-classical approaches to probability that can avoid this drawback: full conditional probabilities, qualitative probabilities and hyperreal probabilities. These approaches have been criticized for failing to preserve intuitive symmetries that can be preserved by the classical probability framework, but there has not been a systematic study of the (...) conditions under which these symmetries can and cannot be preserved. This paper fills that gap by giving complete characterizations under which symmetries understood in a certain “strong” way can be preserved by these non-classical probabilities, as well as by offering some results to make it plausible that the strong notion of symmetry here is the right one. Philosophical implications are briefly discussed, but the main purpose of the paper is to offer technical results to help make further philosophical discussion more sophisticated. (shrink)
We explore the prospects of a monist account of explanation for both non-causal explanations in science and pure mathematics. Our starting point is the counterfactual theory of explanation for explanations in science, as advocated in the recent literature on explanation. We argue that, despite the obvious differences between mathematical and scientific explanation, the CTE can be extended to cover both non-causal explanations in science and mathematical explanations. In particular, a successful application of the CTE to mathematical explanations requires us to (...) rely on counterpossibles. We conclude that the CTE is a promising candidate for a monist account of explanation in both science and mathematics. (shrink)
The willful ignorance doctrine says defendants should sometimes be treated as if they know what they don't. This book provides a careful defense of this method of imputing mental states. Though the doctrine is only partly justified and requires reform, it also demonstrates that the criminal law needs more legal fictions of this kind. The resulting theory of when and why the criminal law can pretend we know what we don't has far-reaching implications for legal practice and reveals a pressing (...) need for change. (shrink)
Originally the constitution was expected to express and channel popular sovereignty. It was the work of freedom, springing from and facilitating collective self-determination. After the Second World War this perspective changed: the modern constitution owes its authority not only to collective authorship, it also must commit itself credibly to human rights. Thus people recede into the background, and the national constitution becomes embedded into one or other system of 'peer review' among nations.This is what Alexander Somek argues is the (...) creation of the cosmopolitan constitution. Reconstructing what he considers to be the three stages in the development of constitutionalism, he argues that the cosmopolitan constitution is not a blueprint for the constitution beyond the nation state, let alone a constitution of the international community; rather, it stands for constitutional law reaching out beyond its national bounds. This cosmopolitan constitution has two faces: the first, political, face reflects the changed circumstances of constitutional authority. It conceives itself as constrained by international human rights protection, firmly committed to combating discrimination on the grounds of nationality, and to embracing strategies for managing its interaction with other sites of authority, such as the United Nations. The second, administrative, face of the cosmopolitan constitution reveals the demise of political authority, which has been traditionally vested in representative bodies. Political processes yield to various, and often informal, strategies of policy co-ordination so long as there are no reasons to fear that the elementary civil rights might be severely interfered with. It represents constitutional authority for an administered world. (shrink)
What is honor? Has its meaning changed since ancient times? Is it an outmoded notion? Does it still have the power to direct our behavior? In this provocative book Alexander Welsh considers the history and meaning of honor and dismisses the idea that we live in a post-honor culture. He notes that we have words other than _honor_, such as _respect_, _self-respect_, and personal _identity_, that show we do indeed care deeply about honor. Honor, he argues, is a continuing (...) process of respect that motivates or constrains members of a peer group. Honor’s dictates function as moral imperatives. Surprisingly, little systematic study of the history of honor in Western culture has been attempted. Offering a welcome remedy, Welsh provides a genealogy of approaches to the subject, mining some of the most influential texts of the Western tradition. He rereads with fascinating results the works of Aristotle, Cicero, Shakespeare, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Kant, Adam Smith, and others. With a sharp focus on the intersection of honor and ethics in both literature and philosophy, Welsh invites new and constructive debate on a topic of vital interest. (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)
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)
I explain why Ross Cameron's definition of ultimate ontological basis is incorrect, and propose a different definition in terms of ontological dependence, as well as a definition of reality's fundamental layer. These new definitions cover the conceptual possibility that self-dependent entities exist. They also apply to different conceptions of the relation of ontological dependence.
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)
“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.
A recombinationist like the earlier Armstrong (1989) claims that logically possible worlds are recombinations of items found in the actual world, with some items reduplicated if need be and others deleted. An immediate consequence of this is that if an..