In an oft-quoted passage from The Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham addresses the issue of our treatment of animals with the following words: ‘the question is not, Can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ The point is well taken, for surely if animals suffer, they are legitimate objects of our moral concern. It is curious therefore, given the current interest in the moral status of animals, that Bentham's question has been assumed to be merely (...) rhetorical. No-one has seriously examined the claim, central to arguments for animal liberation and animal rights, that animals actually feel pain. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is perhaps typical in this regard. His treatment of the issue covers a scant seven pages, after which he summarily announces that ‘there are no good reasons, scientific or philosophical, for denying that animals feel pain’. In this paper I shall suggest that the issue of animal pain is not so easily dispensed with, and that the evidence brought forward to demonstrate that animals feel pain is far from conclusive. (shrink)
Sport builds character. If this is true, why is there a consistent stream of news detailing the bad behavior of athletes? We are bombarded with accounts of elite athletes using banned performance-enhancing substances, putting individual glory ahead of the excellence of the team, engaging in disrespectful and even violent behavior towards opponents, and seeking victory above all else. We are also given a steady diet of more salacious stories that include various embarrassing, immoral, and illegal behaviors in the private lives (...) of elite athletes. Elite sport is not alone in this; youth sport has its own set of moral problems. Parents assault officials, undermine coaches, encourage a win-at-all costs mentality, and in many cases ruin sport for their children. (shrink)
This paper suffers from a disconcerting generality. I need an excuse for wandering from Wittgenstein's Tractatus to Picasso's drawing of a Weeping Woman, via the philosophy of science and the theory of sense data. The thesis of the paper is that I have such an excuse. These are all areas where the concept of representation either exists in its own right, or has been found to be illuminating by philosophers. An important question is whether it could be the same concept (...) in all these cases. I wish to claim that there is an illuminating common concept, even though to find it may require some fairly drastic modifications of some of the philosophical theses that are involved. (shrink)
Being morally responsible means being blameworthy and deserving of punishment if we do wrong and praiseworthy and deserving reward if we do right. In what follows I shall argue that in all likelihood we're not morally responsible. None of us. Ever.
The great Falsification Debate about the logical status of religious beliefs seems fairly quiescent at present. Most philosophers of religion have opted for one or the other of two opposite responses to the falsificationists' challenge.
The philosophy department in Edinburgh is in David Hume tower; the philosophy faculty at Cambridge is in Sidgwick Avenue. In one way, no competition. Everybody has heard of Hume, whereas even the anybody who's anybody may not have heard of Sidgwick. Yet in another way, Sidgwick wins this arcane contest. For if David Hume, contradicting the Humean theory of personal identity, were to return to Edinburgh, he would not recognize the tower. Whereas, if someone with more success in rearousing spirits (...) than Sidgwick himself had could now produce him, Sidgwick would know the avenue. For he planned it; he partially paid for it; and he pushed it past the local opposition. He was its creator. And creator not just of the avenue: if Sidgwick is not quite the only begetter, it was he more than anyone who was responsible for building the school of philosophy in Cambridge which is being celebrated in this series of articles. (shrink)
‘Metaphysics’, said Bradley, ‘is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.’ This idea that reasoning is both instinctive and feeble is reminiscent of Hume; except that reasons in Hume tend to serve as the solvent rather than the support of instinctive beliefs. Instinct leads us to play backgammon with other individuals whom we assume inhabit a world which exists independently of our own perception and which will (...) continue to exist tomorrow in a similar fashion to today. However, when instinct leads us also to reason about these beliefs they are all subject to sceptical attack. Their defence provides a challenge, a challenge which in thumbnail histories of the subject is met by Kant. He does this by use of a powerful new form of argument which he calls transcendental argument and which, in my opinion, provides not only reasons but also good reasons for the defence of some of our most central instinctive beliefs. The strategy involved in this kind of argument is to reflect on the necessary preconditions for comprehensible experience. In this way, some beliefs which are subject to sceptical attack, such as that there is a causal order between objects which exist independently of our experience of them, can be found to be the essential preconditions for having comprehensible experience at all. The reason for accepting them is, therefore, that they are the necessary preconditions of having any beliefs at all; and this provides a good, rather than a bad, reason for accepting these particular instinctive beliefs. (shrink)
‘I see well enough what poor Kant would be at’ said James Mill on first looking into the Kritik der reinen Vernunft. No one would wish to say that the reception of Kant in England has remained at this level: abundance of sound scholarship, innumerable Kant seminars and the swell of interest in transcendental argument which has developed since the Second World War all exist to prove the contrary. But in spite of all that, Mill's response still touches a chord (...) in English breasts. We are prone to think Kant a conjurer. If we are to accept, or even to work seriously with, any version of Kantianism it must be a demythologized, logically aseptic version. Strawson's Kant, for instance, is a Kant freed from the ‘strained analogy’ between the study of the conditions of sense, or intelligibility, and the study of the human cognitive system. And in moral philosophy too, the English Kantianism chiefly represented by the work of Professor R. M. Hare has scrupulously avoided those parts of Kant's ethics which have a suspiciously speculative flavour: the notion of an unqualified good, for example, or that of treating moral agents as Ends-in-Themselves; and more generally the whole notion, which permeates Kant's moral philosophy, that morality can only ultimately be understood in terms of a set of ideal relationships that entirely transcend all considerations of common-sense mutual accommodation or rational self-interest: transcend all such considerations so radically, in fact, as to point mutely towards the possibility of a life after death. (shrink)
ADDRESS ETHICS WITHOUT PROPOSITIONS. By WINSTON H. F. BARNES 1 SYMPOSIUM : ARE ALL PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS OF LANGUAGE I. By STUART HAMPSHIRE 31 II. By AUSTIN DUNAN JONES 49 III. By S. KORNER 63 SYMPOSIUM : THE EMOTIVE THEORY OF ETHICS. f. By RICHARD ROBINSON 79 II. ByH. J. PATON 107 III. ByR.C. CROSS 127 SYMPOSIUM : WHAT CAN LOGIC DO FOR PHILOSOPHY I. By K. K. POPPER 141 II. By WILLIAM KNEALE 155 III. By PROFESSOR A. J. (...) AYER 167 SYMPOSIUM : THINGS AND PERSONS. I. By PROFESSOR D. M. MACKINNON 179 II. By PROFESSOR H. A. HODGES 190 III. BY J. WISDOM 202. (shrink)
This book is the one to put into the hands of those who have been over-impressed by Austin 's critics....[Warnock's] brilliant editing puts everybody who is concerned with philosophical problems in his debt.
Many philosophers have assumed, without argument, that Wittgenstein influenced Austin. More often, however, this is vehemently denied, especially by those who knew Austin personally. We compile and assess the currently available evidence for Wittgenstein’s influence on Austin’s philosophy of language. Surprisingly, this has not been done before in any detail. On the basis of both textual and circumstantial evidence we show that Austin’s work demonstrates substantial engagement with Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. In particular, Austin’s 1940 paper, (...) ‘The Meaning of a Word’, should be construed as a direct response to and development of ideas he encountered in Wittgenstein’s Blue Book. Moreover, we argue that Austin’s mature speech-act theory in How to Do Things with Words was also significantly influenced by Wittgenstein. (shrink)
Is ruling out the possibility that one is dreaming a requirement for a knowledge claim? In “Philosophical Scepticism and Everyday Life” (1984), Barry Stroud defends that it is. In “Others Minds” (1970), John Austin says it is not. In his defense, Stroud appeals to a conception of objectivity deeply rooted in us and with which our concept of knowledge is intertwined. Austin appeals to a detailed account of our scientific and everyday practices of knowledge attribution. Stroud responds that (...) what Austin says about those practices is correct in relation to the appropriateness of making knowledge claims, but that the skeptic is interested in the truth of those claims. In this paper, we argue that Stroud’s defense of the alleged requirement smuggles in a commitment to a kind of internalism, which asserts that the perceptual justification available to us can be characterized independently of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. In our reading of Austin, especially of Sense & Sensibilia, he rejects that kind of internalism by an implicit commitment to what is called today a “disjunctive” view of perception. Austin says that objectivity is an aspect of knowledge, and his disjunctivism is part of an explanation of why the alleged requirement is not necessary for a knowledge claim. Since both Stroud and Austin are committed to the objectivity of knowledge, Stroud may ask which view of perceptual knowledge is correct, whether the internalist or the disjunctive. We argue that by paying closer attention to what Austin says about our practices of knowledge attribution, one can see more clearly that it is grounded not only on a conception of objectivity, but also on a conception of ourselves as information agents, a conception that is as deeply rooted as that of the objectivity of knowledge. This gives us moral and practical reasons to favor the disjunctive view of perception. (shrink)
The theory of morality we can call full rule - consequentialism selects rules solely in terms of the goodness of their consequences and then claims that these rules determine which kinds of acts are morally wrong. George Berkeley was arguably the first rule -consequentialist. He wrote, “In framing the general laws of nature, it is granted we must be entirely guided by the public good of mankind, but not in the ordinary moral actions of our lives. … The rule is (...) framed with respect to the good of mankind; but our practice must be always shaped immediately by the rule.” Writers often classed as rule -consequentialists include Austin 1832; Harrod 1936; Toulmin 1950; Urmson 1953; Harrison 1953; Mabbott 1953; Singer 1955; 1961; and most prominently Brandt 1959; 1963; 1967; 1979; 1989; 1996; and Harsanyi 1977; 1982; 1993. See also Rawls 1955; Hospers 1972; Haslett 1987; 1994, ch. 1; 2000; Attfield 1987, 103-12; Barrow 1991, ch. 6; Johnson 1991; Riley 1998; 2000; Shaw 1999; and Hooker 2000. Whether J. S. Mill's ethics was rule -consequentialist is controversial. (shrink)
Peter Harrison's The Territories of Science and Religion throws down a serious challenge to advocates of dialogue as the primary means of engagement between science and religion. This article accepts the validity of this challenge and looks at four possible responses to it. The first—a return to the past—is rejected. The remaining three—exploring new epistemic frameworks for the encounter of science and religion, broadening out the engagement beyond the context of the physical sciences and Western culture, and looking at (...) ways in which scientific and theological practitioners may collaborate on practical problems—are all offered as potential ways in which science and religion may engage with one another, in ways which move beyond Harrison's critique. (shrink)
The argument from illusion/hallucination have been proposed many times as supporting the strong conclusion that we are always perceiving directly sense-data. In Sense & Sensibilia, Austin argues that this argument is based on a “mass of seductive (mainly verbal) fallacies”. In this paper, I argue that Austin's argumentative moves to deconstruct the argument from illusion is better understood if they are seen as due to his implicit commitment to some disjunctivist conception of perception. His considerations should be taken (...) as a depth discussion about how to conceive perception. If we conceive the perceptual capacity disjunctively, even the weaker conclusion that we sometimes perceive sense-data does not hold. In response to Austin, Ayer claimed that the strong conclusion of the argument from illusion could be sustained by the method of the possibility of error. I argue that this method alone does not sustain that conclusion and the controversy turns back to the conflict between different conceptions of perception. The argument from illusion is philosophically interesting by putting in evidence the problem of how the perceptual capacity should be articulated and conceived. Although matters of fact are relevant to this question, they alone do not decide it. (shrink)
In this paper I will try to defend a quasi-naturalistic interpretation of J.L. Austin’s work. I will rely on P. Kitcher’s 1992 paper “The Naturalists Return” to compile four general criteria by which a philosopher can be called a naturalist. Then I will turn to Austin’s work and examine whether he meets these criteria. I will try to claim that versions of such naturalistic elements can be found in his work.
The construction and analysis of arguments supposedly are a philosopher's main business, the demonstration of truth or refutation of falsehood his principal aim. In Sense and Sensibilia, J.L. Austin does something entirely different: He discusses the sense-datum doctrine of perception, with the aim not of refuting it but of 'dissolving' the 'philosophical worry' it induces in its champions. To this end, he 'exposes' their 'concealed motives', without addressing their stated reasons. The paper explains where and why this at first (...) sight outrageous aim and approach are perfectly sensible, how exactly Austin proceeds, and how his approach can be taken further. This shows Austin to be a pioneer of the currently much discussed notion of philosophy as therapy, reveals a subtle and unfamiliar use of linguistic analysis that is not open to the standard objections to ordinary language philosophy, and yields a novel and forceful treatment of the sense-datum doctrine. (shrink)
Firth argues that austin's criticisms of the argument from illusion do not destroy the argument. We can reformulate it in two ways so that it succeeds as a method of ostensibly defining terms denoting the sensory constituent of perceptual experience. One way maintains the act-Object distinction of the cartesian tradition and the other uses the language of "looks." (staff).
This paper compares and contrasts three groups that conducted biological research at Yale University during overlapping periods between 1910 and 1970. Yale University proved important as a site for this research. The leaders of these groups were Ross Granville Harrison, Grace E. Pickford, and G. Evelyn Hutchinson, and their members included both graduate students and more experienced scientists. All produced innovative research, including the opening of new subfields in embryology, endocrinology and ecology respectively, over a long period of time. (...)Harrison's is shown to have been a classic research school; Pickford's and Hutchinson's were not. Pickford's group was successful in spite of her lack of departmental or institutional position or power. Hutchinson and his graduate and post-graduate students were extremely productive but in diverse areas of ecology. His group did not have one focused area of research or use one set of research tools. The paper concludes that new models for research groups are needed, especially for those, like Hutchinson's, that included much field research. (shrink)
A principal challenge for a deflationary theory is to explain the value of truth: why we aim for true beliefs, abhor dishonesty, and so on. The problem arises because deflationism sees truth as a mere logical property and the truth predicate as serving primarily as a device of generalization. Paul Horwich, attempts to show how deflationism can account for the value of truth. Drawing on the work of J. L. Austin, I argue that his account, which focuses on belief, (...) cannot adequately accommodate the complex role that truth plays in the norms governing assertion and similar speech acts. (shrink)
J. L. Austin was one of the more influential British philosophers of his time, due to his rigorous thought, extraordinary personality, and innovative philosophical method. According to John Searle, he was both passionately loved and hated by his contemporaries. Like Socrates, he seemed to destroy all philosophical orthodoxy without presenting an alternative, equally comforting, orthodoxy. -/- Austin is best known for two major contributions to contemporary philosophy: first, his ‘linguistic phenomenology’, a peculiar method of philosophical analysis of the (...) concepts and ways of expression of everyday language; and second, speech act theory, the idea that every use of language carries a performative dimension (in the well-known slogan, “to say something is to do something”). Speech act theory has had consequences and import in research fields as diverse as philosophy of language, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, linguistics, artificial intelligence and feminist philosophy. -/- This article describes Austin’s linguistic method and his speech act theory, and it describes the original contributions he made to epistemology and philosophy of action. It closes by focusing on two main developments of speech act theory─the dispute between conventionalism and intentionalism, and the debate on free speech, pornography, and censorship. (shrink)
Some of Austin's general statements about the doctrines of sense-datum philosophy are reviewed. It is concluded that Austin thought that in these doctrines "directly see" is given a new but inadequately explained and defined use. Were this so, the philosophical use of "directly see" would lack a definite sense and this would correspondingly affect the doctrines. They would lack definite truth-value. Against this, it is argued that the philosopher's use of "directly see" does not support Austin's general (...) thesis that the sense-datum doctrines lack truth-value. (shrink)
‘After it, the philosophy of perception cannot be discussed in ways it usually was discussed before.’ This is said about Sense and Sensibilia by Mr Bernard Williams in an article, ‘J. L. Austin's philosophy’, published in the Oxford Magazine of 6 December 1962. It is not quite clear what Mr Williams means by the remark. It might be understood as an endorsement of Austin's insistence that philosophers have lapsed into crudity and error through their neglect of distinctions marked (...) by the rich variety of linguistic expressions in ordinary use. But Mr Williams himself in his article makes some effective criticisms of Austin's opinion that ordinary language is a reservoir of philosophically significant distinctions, and points out also that Austin's own practice in these lectures did not exhibit any close connection between his survey of the variety of the uses of such words as ‘look’, ‘seem’, ‘appear’, and his criticism of theories of perception. (shrink)
The paper shows that Bernard Harrison and Julius Kovesi are complementary thinkers, interested in similar questions, and arriving at closely comparable answers. It summarizes the theory of concepts and meaning that they shared and the way they have used this theory to make sense of morality.