My topic lies on conceptual terrain that is quite familiar to philosophers. For others, a bit of background may be in order. In light of what has filtered down from quantum mechanics, few philosophers today believe that the universe is causally deterministic. That is, to use Peter van Inwagen's succinct definition of “determinism,” few philosophers believe that “there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.” Even so, partly for obvious historical reasons, philosophers continue to argue about whether free (...) will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism. Compatibilists argue for compatibility, and incompatibilists argue against it. Some incompatibilists maintain that free will and moral responsibility are illusions. But most are libertarians, libertarianism being the conjunction of incompatibilism and the thesis that at least some human beings are possessed of free will and moral responsibility. (shrink)
Edited by a leading exponent of the school, this book offers--in the words of the movement's founders--logical positivism's revolutionary theories on meaning and metaphysics, the nature of logic and mathematics, the foundations of knowledge ...
Values and the scope of scientific inquiry, by M. Farber.--The phenomenology of epistemic claims: and its bearing on the essence of philosophy, by R. M. Zaner.--Problems of the Life-World, by A. Gurwitsch.--The Life-World and the particular sub-worlds, by W. Marx.--On the boundaries of the social world, by T. Luckmann.--Alfred Schutz on social reality and social science, by M. Natanson.--Homo oeconomicus and his class mates, by F. Machlup.--Toward a science of political economics, by A. Lowe.--Some notes on reality-orientation in contemporary (...) societies, by A. Brodersen.--The eclipse of reality, by E. Voegelin.--Alienation in Marx's Political economy and philosophy, by P. Merlan.--The problem of multiple realities: Alfred Schutz and Robert Musil, by P. L. Berger.--Phenomenology, history, myth, by F. Kersten.--The role of music in Leonardo's Paragone, by E. Winternitz.--Alfred Schutz bibliography (p. -306). (shrink)
This article claims that Averroes wrote his Middle Commentary on the De anima after he composed both his Short and Long commentaries. A close comparison of the two texts proves that he had the Long commentary before him when composing the Middle. This has implications both for the development of Averroes' doctrine of the intellect, and for understanding Averroes' style of composing commentaries. On se propose d'établir dans cet article qu'Averroès a rédigé son Moyen commentaire sur le De Anima après (...) son Épitomé et son Grand commentaire. Une comparaison minutieuse des deux textes montre qu'il avait sous les yeux son Grand commentaire lorsqu'il composait son Moyen commentaire. Ceci est de grande conséquence tant pour notre appréciation du développement de la doctrine de l'intellect chez Averroès que pour notre compréhension du mode de composition de ses commentaires. (shrink)
We shall formulate an analysis of the ordinary notion of intentional action that clarifies a commonsense distinction between intentional and nonintentional action. Our analysis will build on some typically neglected considerations about relations between lucky action and intentional action. It will highlight the often- overlooked role of evidential considerations in intentional action, thus identifying the key role of certain epistemological considerations in action theory. We shall also explain why some vagueness is indispensable in a characterization of intentional action as ordinarily (...) understood. (shrink)
In this book, his major work, Alfred Schutz attempts to provide a sound philosophical basis for the sociological theories of Max Weber. Using a Husserlian phenomenology, Schutz provides a complete and original analysis of human action and its "intended meaning.".
This article’s guiding question is about bullet biting: When should compatibilists about moral responsibility bite the bullet in responding to stories used in arguments for incompatibilism about moral responsibility? Featured stories are vignettes in which agents’ systems of values are radically reversed by means of brainwashing and the story behind the zygote argument. The malady known as “intuition deficit disorder” is also discussed.
Each of the following claims has been defended in the scientific literature on free will and consciousness: your brain routinely decides what you will do before you become conscious of its decision; there is only a 100 millisecond window of opportunity for free will, and all it can do is veto conscious decisions, intentions, or urges; intentions never play a role in producing corresponding actions; and free will is an illusion. In Effective Intentions Alfred Mele shows that the evidence (...) offered to support these claims is sorely deficient. He also shows that there is strong empirical support for the thesis that some conscious decisions and intentions have a genuine place in causal explanations of corresponding actions. In short, there is weighty evidence of the existence of effective conscious intentions or the power of conscious will. Mele examines the accuracy of subjects' reports about when they first became aware of decisions or intentions in laboratory settings and develops some implications of warranted skepticism about the accuracy of these reports. In addition, he explores such questions as whether we must be conscious of all of our intentions and why scientists disagree about this. Mele's final chapter closes with a discussion of imaginary scientific findings that would warrant bold claims about free will and consciousness of the sort he examines in this book. (shrink)
In Manipulated Agents, Alfred R. Mele examines the role one's history plays in whether or not one is morally responsible for one's actions. Mele develops a "history-sensitive" theory of moral responsibility through reflection on a wide range of thought experiments which feature agents who have been manipulated or designed in ways that directly affect their actions.
Autonomous Agents addresses the related topics of self-control and individual autonomy. "Self-control" is defined as the opposite of akrasia-weakness of will. The study of self-control seeks to understand the concept of its own terms, followed by an examination of its bearing on one's actions, beliefs, emotions, and personal values. It goes on to consider how a proper understanding of self-control and its manifestations can shed light on personal autonomy and autonomous behaviour. Perspicuous, objective, and incisive throughout, Alfred Mele makes (...) a convincing case for the value of individual autonomy. (shrink)
The great three-volume Principia Mathematica is deservedly the most famous work ever written on the foundations of mathematics. Its aim is to deduce all the fundamental propositions of logic and mathematics from a small number of logical premisses and primitive ideas, and so to prove that mathematics is a development of logic. This abridged text of Volume I contains the material that is most relevant to an introductory study of logic and the philosophy of mathematics (more advanced students will wish (...) to refer to the complete edition). It contains the whole of the preliminary sections (which present the authors' justification of the philosophical standpoint adopted at the outset of their work); the whole of Part 1 (in which the logical properties of propositions, propositional functions, classes and relations are established); section 6 of Part 2 (dealing with unit classes and couples); and Appendices A and B (which give further developments of the argument on the theory of deduction and truth functions). (shrink)
This article explores the significance of agents’ histories for directly free actions and actions for which agents are directly morally responsible. Candidates for relevant compatibilist historical constraints discussed by Michael McKenna and Alfred Mele are assessed, as is the bearing of manipulation on free action and moral responsibility.
Compatibilists about determinism and moral responsibility disagree with one another about the bearing of agents’ histories on whether or not they are morally responsible for some of their actions. Some stories about manipulated agents prompt such disagreements. In this article, I call attention to some of the main features of my own “history-sensitive” compatibilist proposal about moral responsibility, and I argue that arguments advanced by Michael McKenna and Manuel Vargas leave that proposal unscathed.
Herbert Davidson's critique of my thesis regarding the relation between Averroes' Middle and Long commentaries on De anima contrasts my reading and translation of Middle Commentary passages with his own. I leave it to the informed reader to judge whether one translation is more “neutral” than the other, excluding the specific denotation which I give to sharh, which is the point at issue.
To what extent should an analysis of an agent’s being morally responsible for an action that he performed—especially a compatibilist analysis of this—be sensitive to the agent’s history? In this article, I give the issue a clearer focus than it tends to have in the literature, I lay some groundwork for an attempt to answer the question, and I motivate a partial but detailed answer.
Although much human action serves as proof that irrational behaviour is remarkably common, certain forms of irrationalityDSmost incontinent action and self-deceptionDSpose such difficult problems that philosophers have rejected them as logically or psychologically impossible. Here, Alfred Mele shows that incontinent action and self-deception are indeed possible.
Mele's ultimate purpose in this book is to help readers think more clearly about free will. He identifies and makes vivid the most important conceptual obstacles to justified belief in the existence of free will and meets them head on. Mele clarifies the central issues in the philosophical debate about free will and moral responsibility, criticizes various influential contemporary theories about free will, and develops two overlapping conceptions of free will--one for readers who are convinced that free will is incompatible (...) with determinism (incompatibilists), and the other for readers who are convinced of the opposite (compatibilists). Luck poses problems for all believers in free will, and Mele offers novel solutions to those problems--one for incompatibilist believers in free will and the other for compatibilists. An early chapter of this empirically well-informed book clearly explains influential neuroscientific studies of free will and debunks some extravagant interpretations of the data. Other featured topics include abilities and alternative possibilities, control and decision-making, the bearing of manipulation on free will, and the development of human infants into free agents. Mele's theory offers an original perspective on an important problem and will garner the attention of anyone interested in the debate on free will. (shrink)
Self-deception raises complex questions about the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. In this book, Alfred Mele addresses four of the most critical of these questions: What is it to deceive oneself? How do we deceive ourselves? Why do we deceive ourselves? Is self-deception really possible? -/- Drawing on cutting-edge empirical research on everyday reasoning and biases, Mele takes issue with commonplace attempts to equate the processes of self-deception with those of stereotypical interpersonal deception. Such (...) attempts, he demonstrates, are fundamentally misguided, particularly in the assumption that self-deception is intentional. In their place, Mele proposes a compelling, empirically informed account of the motivational causes of biased beliefs. At the heart of this theory is an appreciation of how emotion and motivation may, without our knowing it, bias our assessment of evidence for beliefs. Highlighting motivation and emotion, Mele develops a pair of approaches for explaining the two forms of self-deception: the "straight" form, in which we believe what we want to be true, and the "twisted" form, in which we believe what we wish to be false. -/- Underlying Mele's work is an abiding interest in understanding and explaining the behavior of real human beings. The result is a comprehensive, elegant, empirically grounded theory of everyday self-deception that should engage philosophers and social scientists alike. (shrink)
The Structures of the Life-World is the final focus of twenty-seven years of Alfred Schutz's labor, encompassing the fruits of his work between 1932 and his death in 1959. This book represents Schutz's seminal attempt to achieve a comprehensive grasp of the nature of social reality. Here he integrates his theory of relevance with his analysis of social structures. Thomas Luckmann, a former student of Schutz's, completed the manuscript for publication after Schutz's untimely death.
'...In these pages I consider Reason in its relation to these contrasted aspects of history. Reason is the self-discipline of the originative element in history. Apart from the operations of Reason, this element is anarchic.' -From the Summary.
Alfred Gell puts forward a new anthropological theory of visual art, seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency, and he explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions--European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian. Art and (...) Agency was completed just before Alfred Gell's death at the age of 51 in January 1997. It embodies the intellectual bravura, lively wit, vigour, and erudition for which he was admired, and will stand as an enduring testament to one of the most gifted anthropologists of his generation. (shrink)
In his graceful philosophical account, Alfred I. Tauber shows why Thoreau still seems so relevant today—more relevant in many respects than he seemed to his contemporaries. Although Thoreau has been skillfully and thoroughly examined as a writer, naturalist, mystic, historian, social thinker, Transcendentalist, and lifelong student, we may find in Tauber's portrait of Thoreau the moralist a characterization that binds all these aspects of his career together. Thoreau was caught at a critical turn in the history of science, between (...) the ebb of Romanticism and the rising tide of positivism. He responded to the challenges posed by the new ideal of objectivity not by rejecting the scientific worldview, but by humanizing it for himself. Tauber portrays Thoreau as a man whose moral vision guided his life's work. Each of Thoreau's projects reflected a self-proclaimed "metaphysical ethics," an articulated program of self-discovery and self-knowing. By writing, by combining precision with poetry in his naturalist pursuits and simplicity with mystical fervor in his daily activity, Thoreau sought to live a life of virtue—one he would characterize as marked by deliberate choice. This unique vision of human agency and responsibility will still seem fresh and contemporary to readers at the start of the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Tackling some central problems in the philosophy of action, Mele constructs an explanatory model for intentional behavior, locating the place and significance of such mental phenomena as beliefs, desires, reason, and intentions in the etiology of intentional action. Part One comprises a comprehensive examination of the standard treatments of the relations between desires, beliefs, and actions. In Part Two, Mele goes on to develop a subtle and well-defended view that the motivational role of intentions is of a different sort from (...) that of beliefs and desires. Mele, also offers a provocative explanation of how we come to have intentions and elaborates on his earlier work concerning akratic failures of will. (shrink)
The mathematical background and content of Greek philosophy, by F. S. C. Northrop.--The one and the many in Plato, by R. Demos.--An introduction to the De modis significandi of Thomas of Erfurt, by S. Buchanan.--Truth by convention, by W. V. Quine.--Logical positivism and speculative philosophy, by H. S. Leonard.--The nature and status of time and passage, by P. Weiss.--Causality, by S. Kerby--iller.--The compound individual, by C. Hartshorne.--The good, by O. H. Lee.
What place does motivation have in the lives of intelligent agents? Mele's answer is sensitive to the concerns of philosophers of mind and moral philosophers and informed by empirical work. He offers a distinctive, comprehensive, attractive view of human agency. This book stands boldly at the intersection of philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, and metaphysics.
There are intentional actions and unintentional actions. Do we ever perform actions that are neither intentional nor unintentional? Some philosophers have answered "yes" (Mele 1992; Mele and Moser 1994; Mele and Sverdlik 1996; Lowe 1978; Wasserman, forthcoming). That is, they have claimed that there is a middle ground between intentional and unintentional human actions.1 Motivation for this claim is generated by attention to a variety of issues, including two that are of special interest to experimental philosophers of action: the status (...) of side-effect actions, and the status of actions that are instances of luckily succeeding in doing something one is trying to do. This article explores the idea that there is a middle ground between intentional and unintentional human actions, paying special attention to the two issues just identified. The exploration is partly theoretical and partly empirical. Section 2 reports the results of two new studies designed to yield evidence about whether and to what extent nonspecialists recognize this middle ground. (shrink)
Acknowledging the power of the id-drives, Freud held on to the authority of reason as the ego’s best tool to control instinctual desire. He thereby placed analytic reason at the foundation of his own ambivalent social theory, which, on the one hand, held utopian promise based upon psychoanalytic insight, and, on the other hand, despaired of reason’s capacity to control the self-destructive elements of the psyche. Moving beyond the recourse of sublimation, post-Freudians attacked reason’s hegemony in quelling disruptive psycho-dynamics and, (...) focusing upon the social domain, they sought strategies to counter the oppressive (repressive) social restrictions and conformist impositions impeding individual freedom that result from thwarted desire. Postmodern celebration of desire at the expense of reason and sublimation leaves the Enlightenment prospects altogether and moves psychoanalysis into a new terrain, where the very notion of rationality and an autonomous ego upon which much of Freudianism rests has been deconstructed. Thus the debate that begins with Freud’s social theories reflects the deeper divisions, which arose with postmodern ethics and discarded Cartesian–Kantian notions of personal identity. Here we consider the moral framework in which Freudian social theory sits and a contrasting understanding of agency that confronts his modernist conception. In that debate, we discern the larger humanist confrontation with postmodernity. Yet, all who engaged Freud shared some version of his utopian ethos, albeit radically restructuring the theory upon which social reform might occur. (shrink)
Alfred North Whitehead was a prominent English mathematician and philosopher who co-authored the highly influential Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell. Originally published in 1919, and first republished in 1925 as this Second Edition, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge ranks among Whitehead's most important works; forming a perspective on scientific observation that incorporated a complex view of experience, rather than prioritising the position of 'pure' sense data. Alongside companion volumes The Concept of Nature and The Principle of (...) Relativity, it created a framework for Whitehead's later metaphysical speculations. This is an important book that will be of value to anyone with an interest in the relationship between science and philosophy. (shrink)
Following the thematic divisions of the first three volumes of Alfred Schutz's Collected Papers into The Problem of Social Reality, Studies in Social Theory and Phenomenological Philosophy, this fourth volume contains drafts of unfinished writings, drafts of published writings, translations of essays previously published in German, and some largely unpublished correspondence. The drafts of published writings contain important material omitted from the published versions, and the unfinished writings offer important insights into Schutz's otherwise unpublished ideas about economic and political (...) theory as well as the theory of law and the state. In addition, a large group contains Schutz's reflections on problems in phenomenological philosophy, including music, which both supplement and add new dimensions to his published thought. All together, the writings in this volume cover Schutz's last 15 years in Europe as well as manuscripts written after his arrival in the USA in 1939. Audience: Students and scholars of phenomenology, social theory and the human sciences in general. (shrink)
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