For Philippa Foot, the essence of morality consists in acting on the reasons on which, qua human being, one ought to act; and this ought is one of “natural normativity”—the same ought that also occurs in statements about what a plant or an animal, qua exhibiting a certain form of life, “ought” to be like in various respects, or how its organs “ought” to function. Of this conception Foot avails herself in order to refute the moral sceptic—an undertaking that raises (...) various critical questions, in particular: 1) Is it the naturally normative ought that also occurs in a practical judgement of the form “I ought to F”? If so, how are we to account for what Foot calls the “practicality” of such a judgement? If not, what kind of intelligible step could an agent take, in order to get from a theoretical statement of natural normativity to a practical judgement that ceteris paribus issues in action? 2) Can we understand the validity of every moral requirement in terms of natural normativity, i.e. of a teleological necessity of individuals’ acting well? 3) If we can, will this understanding rely on premises sufficiently certain to justify morality in a sense suggested by Foot’s anti-sceptical considerations?—I argue that “Natural Goodness” does not satisfactorily answer these questions, and conclude by sketching an account of practical moral knowledge that does not seem to provoke them. (shrink)
In the first part of chapter 2 of book II of the Physics Aristotle addresses the issue of the difference between mathematics and physics. In the course of his discussion he says some things about astronomy and the ‘ ‘ more physical branches of mathematics”. In this paper I discuss historical issues concerning the text, translation, and interpretation of the passage, focusing on two cruxes, the first reference to astronomy at 193b25–26 and the reference to the more physical branches at 194a7–8. In (...) section I, I criticize Ross’s interpretation of the passage and point out that his alteration of has no warrant in the Greek manuscripts. In the next three sections I treat three other interpretations, all of which depart from Ross's: in section II that of Simplicius, which I commend; in section III that of Thomas Aquinas, which is importantly influenced by a mistranslation of, and in section IV that of Ibn Rushd, which is based on an Arabic text corresponding to that printed by Ross. In the concluding section of the paper I describe the modern history of the Greek text of our passage and translations of it from the early twelfth century until the appearance of Ross's text in 1936. (shrink)
Formal axiology is based on the logical nature of meaning, namely intension, and on the structure of intension as a set of predicates. It applies set theory to this set of predicates. Set theory is a certain kind of mathematics that deals with subsets in general, and of finite and infinite sets in particular. Since mathematics is objective and a priori, formal axiology is an objective and a priori science; and a test based on it is an objective test based (...) on an objective standard.1. (shrink)
The title refers to Anselm's insight into the modal uniqueness of the divine existence and the proof based upon it in Proslogium III. Hartshorne continues his vigorous defense of "the Proof," his polemic against its critics, most of whom confuse it with the weaker one in Proslogium II, and his attempt to show that Anselm's discovery is ultimately viable only in the context of neo-classical theism. In the second half of the book a variety of responses to the (...) proof, from Gaunilo to several contemporaries, are examined and criticized. While this does not add substantially to the presentation and defense of the argument given in the first half, it does provide ample evidence of the way in which a host of philosophical questions are brought into sharp focus by reflecting on Anselm. Some of these, e.g., the theory of modalities, receive important attention which was lacking in The Logic of Perfection. The author's own position has not changed, though he now seems more impressed than previously by Barth's treatment of Anselm.—M. W. (shrink)
If stem cell-based therapies are developed, we will likely confront a difficult problem of justice: for biological reasons alone, the new therapies might benefit only a limited range of patients. In fact, they might benefit primarily white Americans, thereby exacerbating long-standing differences in health and health care.