Eric Watkins and Marcus Willaschek provide a valuable service to people working on Kant’s epistemology and philosophy of mind by laying out a synoptic picture of Kant’s view of theoretical cognition. Their picture incorporates admirably clear accounts of the familiar building blocks of cognition—sensation, intuition, concept, and judgment—as well as some innovative interpretive theses of their own. Watkins and Willaschek’s basic claim is that, for Kant, theoretical cognition is “a mental state [or “representation”] that determines a given object (...) by attributing general features to it”. So Watkins and Willaschek view Kantian cognition fundamentally as a mental state of... (shrink)
This critical notice highlights the important contributions that Eric Watkins's writings have made to our understanding of theories about causation developed in eighteenth-century German philosophy and by Kant in particular. Watkins provides a convincing argument that central to Kant's theory of causation is the notion of a real ground or causal power that is non-Humean (since it doesn't reduce to regularities or counterfactual dependencies among events or states) and non-Leibnizean because it doesn't reduce to logical or conceptual relations. (...) However, we raise questions about Watkins's more specific claims that Kant completely rejects a model on which the first relatum of a phenomenal causal relation is an event and that he maintains that real grounds are metaphysically and not just epistemically indeterminate. -/- . (shrink)
What does it mean to say that a scientific theory is unified? Prominent attempts by John Watkins, Philip Kitcher, and Margaret Morrison to answer this question face serious difficulties, and many analysts of science remain pessimistic about the possibility of ever rendering precise or explaining what theoretical unity consists in. This paper gives grounds for optimism, offering a novel account of the concept of unification. This account is tested against a detailed study of the standard model in contemporary high-energy (...) physics, a theory for which a high degree of unity has repeatedly been claimed. (shrink)
Philosophers of science have long been concerned with these questions. In the 1980s, influential work by Clark Glymour, Michael Friedman, John Watkins, and Philip Kitcher articulated general accounts of theory unification that attempted to underwrite a connection between unification, truth, and understanding. According to the ‘unifiers,’ as we may call them, a theory is unified to the extent that it has a small theoretical structure relative to the domain of phenomena it covers, and there are general syntactic criteria that (...) allow one to determine how unified a theory is. The explanatory power of a theory, and the understanding of nature it gives us, is a direct consequence of this unity. As well, the more unified a theory is, the better confirmed it will be, and under some conditions a theory’s unity can justify realism about unobservable entities posited by it. In the 1990s disunity became the dominant theme, with books such as John Dupré’s The Disorder of Things and the Galison and Stump anthology arguing that it is a mistake to view science as a unified practice and that rather than an epistemic virtue, unification in science is a metaphysical vice. (shrink)
In this wide-ranging interview Andrew Sayer discusses how he became a realist and then the development of his work over the subsequent decades. He comments on his postdisciplinary approach, his early work on economy and its influences, how he came to write Method in Social Science and the transition in Realism and Social Science to normative critical social science and moral economy. The interview concludes with discussion of his three most recent books and the themes that connect them, not (...) least the ongoing problem of a ‘diabolical double crisis’ of capitalism: extreme inequality and climate change. (shrink)
_Utilitarianism_ is a classic work of ethical theory, arguably the most persuasive and comprehensible presentation of this widely inﬂuential position. Mill argues that it is pleasure and pain that ought to guide our decision-making&and not the pleasure and pain of any one person or group, but the summative experience of all who are affected by our actions. While he didn’t invent utilitarianism, Mill offered its clearest expression and strongest defense, and expanded the theory to account for the variety in quality (...) that we ﬁnd among speciﬁc pleasures and pains. Today, Mill’s version of the “Greatest Happiness Principle” is a standard premise in many moral arguments within the academy and in practical ethical and political deliberation. The complete text of the 1871 edition of _Utilitarianism_ is presented here, with footnote annotations added to clarify unfamiliar references and terminology for the student reader. A detailed introduction by the editor is divided into brief digestible parts discussing the context of the text and offering guidelines on how to read it accurately and critically. This edition has its origin in the acclaimed _Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought_ and adheres to the anthology’s format and high standard of accuracy and accessibility. (shrink)
Ushenko's speculative vision opened on the problem of time and its relation to logic. Profoundly concerned about the theme of time--the theme that intrinsically defines romantic irrationalism--he yet endeavored to vindicate within the bounds of temporality the sovereignty of logic so essential to the continuance of classical philosophy. The dual preoccupation with time and logic urged him into the fields of symbolic logic and relativity physics. From the flux of unrepeatable events he disengaged the laws of logic and the propositions (...) of scientific discourse, while at the same time he sought to keep both orders of entity united without injury to either. He ventured into nature as disclosed by contemporary physics and selected the category of event to supplant substance. He undertook to expound a metaphysics of events, grappled with the problem of the unity not only of nature but of the singular events that make up nature, and fixed upon the overarching structure of the space-time of relativity physics to resolve the problem. But this did not suffice. The metaphysical vision at work in these early books glimpsed at moments a principle beyond time, beyond propositions, beyond events--the principle of power. Power and Events: An Essay on Dynamics in Philosophy focused on the principle of power, integrating the other themes in terms of it. As the mature work of a significant and original thinker, Power and Events posed the principle of power as the central idea for the future course of philosophical investigation. In pursuit of its implications Ushenko embarked upon the philosophy of art in his last book Dynamics of Art and in a consistent yet startling fashion advanced the thesis that the substance of art is in effect a dynamic equilibrium of powers. (shrink)
Andrew Collier is the boldest defender of objectivity - in science, knowledge, thought, action, politics, morality and religion. In this tribute and acknowledgement of the influence his work has had on a wide readership, his colleagues show that they have been stimulated by his thinking and offer challenging responses. This wide-ranging book covers key areas with which defenders of objectivity often have to engage. Sections are devoted to the following: 'objectivity of value', 'objectivity and everyday knowledge', 'objectivity in political (...) economy', 'objectivity and reflexivity', 'objectivity, postmodernism and feminism', 'objectivity and nature'. The diverse contributions range from social and political thought to philosophy, reflecting the central themes of Collier's work. (shrink)
Ushenko presented his philosophy of logic in vehement opposition to "the postulationist theory." In the endeavor to amputate logic from philosophy and absorb it within mathematics, the postulationists viewed logic as an isolated object-logic to be discussed in meta-logic and construed its symbolic formulas as a game played according to arbitrarily established rules. The objections Ushenko raised are no longer novel, but twenty years ago the entire controversy was new. Above all, he stressed the numerous difficulties entangling the meta-logic. He (...) scored the menace of an infinite regress of meta-logics, and insisted that the consequences of Gödel's work necessarily frustrate the initial great expectations of the postulationists. No purely formal system can be internally proved to be self-consistent and certainly no formal language can ever become as comprehensive as English, though the price of such comprehensiveness is the inevitable occurrence of contradictory sentences. Moreover, he argued that, despite the postulationists' pretense that rules like the principle of non-contradiction were mere conventions for playing the game of logic, these rules proved ubiquitous by trespassing from the object-logic and intruding into the ultimate reaches of the meta-logic. (shrink)
This book focuses on the unity, diversity, and centrality of the notion of law as it is employed in Kant's theoretical and practical philosophy. Eric Watkins argues that, by thinking through a number of issues in various historical, scientific, and philosophical contexts over several decades, Kant is able to develop a univocal concept of law that can nonetheless be applied to a wide range of particular cases, despite the diverse demands that these contexts give rise to. In addition, (...) class='Hi'>Watkins shows how Kant comes to view both the generic conception of law which he develops and its different particular instances as crucial components of his systematic philosophy as a whole. This volume's new and unified account of a major current running through Kant's work will be important for scholars interested in numerous aspects of his philosophy, from the theoretical and abstract to the practical and empirical. (shrink)
The Oxford Monographs On Criminal Law And Justice series aims to cover all aspects of criminal law and procedure including criminal evidence. the scope of the series is wide, encompassing both practical and theoretical works. Series Editor: Professor Andrew Ashworth, Vinerian Professor of English Law, All Souls College, Oxford. This volume is a thematic collection of essays on sentencing theory by leading writers. The essays fall into three groups. Part I considers the underlying justifications for the imposition of punishment (...) by the State, and examines the relationship between victims, offenders and the State. Part II addresses a number of areas of sentencing policy that have given rise to particular difficulty, such as the sentencing of drug offenders, the rationale for discounting sentences for multiple offenders, the existence of special sentencing for young offenders, and cases where the injury done to the victim is of a different magnitude from what might have been expected. Part III raises various questions about the unequal impact on offenders of different sentencing measures, and examines the extent to which sentences should be adjusted to take account of these different impacts and of broader social inequalities. This volume is dedicated to Professor Andrew von Hirsch, whose continuing work on sentencing theory provided the stimulus for the collection. (shrink)
In 1929 Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger participated in a momentous debate in Davos, Switzerland, which is widely held to have marked an important division in twentieth-century European thought. Peter E. Gordon’s recent book, Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos, centers on this debate between these two philosophical adversaries. In his book Gordon examines the background of the debate, the issues that distinguished the respective positions of Cassirer and Heidegger, and the legacy of the debate for later decades. Throughout the work, (...) Gordon concisely portrays the source of disagreement between the two adversaries in terms of a difference between Cassirer’s philosophy of spontaneity and Heidegger’s philosophy of receptivity, or of “thrownness” , into a situation that finite human beings can never hope to master. Although it recognizes that this work provides an important contribution to our understanding of the Davos debate and to twentieth-century European thought, this review essay subjects Gordon’s manner of interpreting the distinction between Cassirer and Heidegger to critical scrutiny. Its purpose is to examine the possibility that important aspects of the debate, which do not conform to the grid imposed by Gordon’s interpretation, might have been set aside in the context of his analysis. (shrink)
This important collection of essays by Andrew Feenberg presents his critical theory of technology, an innovative approach to philosophy and sociology of technology based on a synthesis of ideas drawn from STS and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. The volume includes chapters on citizenship, modernity, and Heidegger and Marcuse.
This book examines the philosophies of nature of the early Greek thinkers and argues that a significant and thoroughgoing shift is required in our understanding of them. In contrast with the natural world of the earliest Greek literature, often the result of arbitrary divine causation, in the work of early Ionian philosophers we see the idea of a cosmos: ordered worlds where there is complete regularity. How was this order generated and maintained and what underpinned those regularities? What analogies or (...) models were used for the order of the cosmos? What did they think about causation and explanatory structure? How did they frame natural laws? Andrew Gregory draws on recent work on mechanistic philosophy and its history, on the historiography of the relation of science to art, religion and magic, and on the fragments and doxography of the early Greek thinkers to argue that there has been a tendency to overestimate the extent to which these early Greek philosophies of nature can be described as 'mechanistic'. We have underestimated how far they were committed to other modes of explanation and ontologies, and we have underestimated, underappreciated and indeed underexplored how plausible and good these philosophies would have been in context. (shrink)
In this essay I describe how contractarianism might approach interspecies welfare conflicts. I start by discussing a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. I argue that contractors can agree to norms that would acknowledge the “moral standing” of some animals. I then discuss how the norms emerging from contractarian agreement might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement is likely to express some partiality to humans in a way that discounts the welfare of (...) some or all animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve depending upon how the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (shrink)
For those open to the possibility that philosophical thought can improve life, David Hume's Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary have something to say. In the first comprehensive study of the Essays, Margaret Watkins engages closely with these neglected texts and shows how they provide important insights into Hume's perspective on the breadth and depth of human life, arguing that the Essays reveal his continued commitment to philosophy as a discipline that can promote both social and individual progress. Addressing topics (...) such as politics, war, slavery, the priesthood, the development of industry, aesthetics, emotional disorders, egoism, friendship, sexuality, gender relations, and the nature of philosophy itself, the volume examines Hume's purposes and aims against the backdrop of the eighteenth century society in which he lived. It will be of interest to scholars of modern thought in philosophy, politics, history, and economics. (shrink)
In his paper, ‘A critique of religious fictionalism’, Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, ‘Can an atheist believe in God?’. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
Watkins proposes a neo-Popperian solution to the pragmatic problem of induction. He asserts that evidence can be used non-inductively to prefer the principle that corroboration is more successful over all human history than that, say, counter-corroboration is more successful either over this same period or in the future. Watkins's argument for rejecting the first counter-corroborationist alternative is beside the point. However, as whatever is the best strategy over all human history is irrelevant to the pragmatic problem of induction (...) since we are not required to act in the past, and his argument for rejecting the second presupposes induction. (shrink)
Conceived as the sequel to Alan Badiou's Being and Event, Logics of Worlds stands as one of the most important texts in contemporary thought. As a complex theory of worlds, the text has, for the most part, been misunderstood. Yet, through William Watkin's diligent and critical close--reading, he guides the reader through the Badiouan text, whilst demonstrating how Logics of Worlds is the essential book for anyone interested in existence, meaning and the potential for radical change.
Tento článok pojednáva o Watkinsovom útoku na Popperovu teóriu vedy . Watkins tvrdí, že Popperova teória pravdeblízkosti zavádza do PTV justifikacionistické a induktivistické prvky. Cieľom článku je ukázať nepravdivosť Watkinsovej obžaloby. V PTV niet žiadneho dobrého dôvodu pre žiadnu domnienku. Podobne, neexistuje tu ani žiadny „induktívny spôsob“ získavania domnienok.
In An Essay upon Civil Government, Andrew Michael Ramsay mounted a sustained attack upon the development throughout English history of popular government. According to Ramsay, popular involvement in sovereignty had led to the decline of society and the revolutions of the seventeenth century. In his own time, Parliament had become a despotic instrument of government, riven with faction and driven by a multiplicity of laws that manifested a widespread corruption in the state. Ramsay's solution to this degeneracy was the (...) extirpation of Parliament, and its substitution with a monarchy moderated by an aristocratic senate. Ramsay's adoption of certain “Country” elements, including a return to the first principles of the constitution, claimed to reflect the principles of contemporary French aristocratic theory which called for the reform of government through the nobility. In his desire to exclude popular government, and reverse the decline of the state, however, Ramsay utilised the theory with which Bossuet had defended Louis XIV's absolute France. Intriguingly, traces of the natural law system which fortified Ramsay's theory can be found in Viscount Bolingbroke's subsequent attack on Walpole's Whig ministry and the corruption of the state. (shrink)
By what steps, historically, did morality emerge? Our remote ancestors evolved into social animals. Sociality requires, among other things, restraints on disruptive sexual, hostile, aggressive, vengeful, and acquisitive behavior. Since we are innately social and not social by convention, we can assume the biological evolution of the emotional equipment – numerous predispositions to want, fear, feel anxious or secure – required for social living, just as we can assume cultural evolution of various means to control antisocial behavior and reinforce the (...) prosocial kind. Small clans consisting, say, of several extended families whose members cooperated in hunting, gathering, defense, and child-rearing could not exist without a combination of innate and social restraints on individual behavior. I shall argue for a naturalistic theory of morality, by which I do not mean the definitional claims G.E. Moore sought to refute, but a broader and more complex theory that maintains that a sufficient understanding of human nature, history, and culture can fully explain morality; that nothing is left hanging. A theory that coherently brings together the needed biological, psychological, and cultural facts I shall call a philosophical anthropology; it is a theory that: 1) takes the good for humans – both an ultimate good and other important goods – to depend on human nature; 2) argues that a rudimentary but improving scientific and philosophical theory of human nature now exists, and thus denies that people are “essenceless”; 3) takes this theory to be evolutionary and historical, making the question “How did morality originate?” pivotal for ethical theory, but leaves open the empirical question of the relative importance of biological and cultural evolution; and 4) takes the origin of the moral ideas to be explainable in terms of human nature and history. (shrink)
Leibniz and Kant were heirs of a biblical theistic tradition which viewed miraculous activity in the world as both possible and actual. But both were also deep explanatory rationalists about the natural world: more committed than your average philosophical theologian to its thoroughgoing intelligibility. These dual sympathies—supernaturalist religion and empirical rationalism—generate a powerful tension across both philosophers’ systems, one that is most palpable in their accounts of empirical miracles—that is, events in nature that violate one or more of the natural (...) laws. The primary goal of this chapter is to exhibit their respective efforts to resolve this tension, and to show how Kant’s noumenal ignorance doctrine allows him to set aside some key difficulties that Leibniz’s model leaves unresolved. The chapter concludes with the unorthodox suggestion that both systems leave conceptual space for the idea that finite free beings, rather than just God, can produce empirical miracles. (shrink)