Kripke claims that certainkind terms, particularly natural kind terms,are, like names, rigid designators. However,kind terms are more complicated than names aseach is connected both to a principle ofinclusion and an extension. So, there is aquestion regarding what it is that rigidlydesignating kind terms rigidly designate. Inthis paper, I assume that there are rigidlydesignating kind terms and attempt to answerthe question as to what it is that they rigidlydesignate. I then use this analysis of rigidlydesignating kind terms to show how Kripke''sreasoning (...) regarding the necessity of `Hesperusis Phosphorus'' can be extended to statementsinvolving kind terms like `Water is H2O''and `Tigers are mammals''. (shrink)
While Hume has often been held to have been an agnostic or atheist, several contemporary scholars have argued that Hume was a theist. These interpretations depend chiefly on several passages in which Hume allegedly confesses to theism. In this paper, I argue against this position by giving a threshold characterization of theism and using it to show that Hume does not confess. His most important confession does not cross this threshold and the ones that do are often expressive rather than (...) assertive. I then argue that Hume is best interpreted as an atheist. Instead of interpreting Hume as a proto-logical positivist and arguing on the basis of Hume’s theories of meaning and method, I show that textually he appears to align himself with atheism, that his arguments in the Dialogues on Natural Religion support atheism, and that this position is most consistent with Hume’s naturalism. But, I hold that his atheism is soft and therefore distinct from that of his peers like Baron d’Holbach—while Hume really does reject theism, he neither embraces a dogmatically materialist position nor takes up a purely polemical stance towards theism. I conclude by suggesting several ways in which Hume’s atheistic philosophy of religion is relevant to contemporary discussions. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Poston and Dougherty's attempt to undermine the problem of divine hiddenness by using the notion of belief de re is problematic at best. They hold that individuals who appear to be unbelievers (because they are de dicto unbelievers) may actually be de re believers. I construct a set of conditions on ascribing belief de re to show that it is prima facie implausible to claim that seemingly inculpable and apparent unbelievers are really de re (...) believers. Thus, while it is indeed possible that a de dicto unbeliever is a de re believer, it is unlikely that this has sufficiently general application to actual individuals to alleviate the problem of divine hiddenness. (shrink)
Andrew Eshleman has argued that atheists can believe in God by being fully engaged members of religious communities and using religious discourse in a non-realist way. He calls this position 'fictionalism' because the atheist takes up religion as a useful fiction. In this paper I critique fictionalism along two lines: that it is problematic to successfully be a fictionalist and that fictionalism is unjustified. Reflection on fictionalism will point to some wider problems with religious anti-realism.
In this paper I argue that traditional theism, in its theory, history, and practice has implications for the philosophy of nature. Namely, nature should be designed around aesthetic or meaningful principles and nature should be engineered in order to fulfil a fairly well defined set of purposes. If theism is true, we should be able to study nature objectively as a teleological system. After all, the teleological structure of nature is more important to us as spiritual beings than its mechanisms. (...) Since a teleological philosophy of nature is no longer viable, traditional theism is untenable. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
Consequentialists typically think that the moral quality of one's conduct depends on the difference one makes. But consequentialists may also think that even if one is not making a difference, the moral quality of one's conduct can still be affected by whether one is participating in an endeavour that does make a difference. Derek Parfit discusses this issue – the moral significance of what I call ‘participation’ – in the chapter of Reasons and Persons that he devotes to what he (...) calls ‘moral mathematics’. In my paper, I expose an inconsistency in Parfit's discussion of moral mathematics by showing how it gives conflicting answers to the question of whether participation matters. I conclude by showing how an appreciation of Parfit's error sheds some light on consequentialist thought generally, and on the debate between act- and rule-consequentialists specifically. (shrink)
This article critically discusses of Ben Berger’s , making two main claims. First, I argue that his conceptual distinctions ought to be further developed in order to be able to distinguish between, on the one hand, politically legitimate moral ends (i.e., ones that are suitable objects of political engagement) and, on the other hand, other moral ends that ought to be pursued only through social engagement. To help with this task I consider the significance of the difference between what I (...) refer to as ethical reasoning and justice reasoning, and I sketch a fourfold distinction between types of justice. Second, I argue that Berger does not give adequate emphasis to the government side of the task of making political engagement more efficacious. In addition to his worthwhile recommendations for increasing the social capital of the many, we should also be concerned to determine how best to limit, or, better, remove, the now massive political influence of the financial capital of America’s wealthiest. (shrink)
In his major philosophical opus, Kevod Elohim , written in Hebrew, Joseph ben Shem Tov investigates the summum bonum of man, which consists in the similarity to God's perfection called the "Glory of God" insofar as it can be realized by human nature. Opinions are divided, however, as to the nature of this greatest good. Some Jewish scholars claim that man's final purpose is in the observance of the 613 commandments of the Torah. According to the philosophers, the proofs of (...) Aristotle show irrefutably that man's highest happiness is in the grasping of cognition through reason. Other Jewish scholars assert that the mysteries of the Torah can be explored through philosophy and therefore the Torah and the sciences fulfill in principle the same purpose. This position, however, is objectionable to some believers on the ground that it denies the divine character of religion. On the other hand, to deny the proofs of Aristotle would be to coerce the findings of reason. If religion is the supreme good, it cannot contradict reason. Since the truth cannot be in conflict with the truth, Joseph's task is to compare, for the first time, the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle with the Torah to determine to what extent they agree or conflict. His method is to assemble all statements of Aristotle and his commentators on this subject and to submit them to critical analysis. Joseph's motivation is to justify the pursuit of Greek science, especially in view of his father Shem Tov ibn Shem Tov's virulent repudiation of philosophy, and to guide the perplexed of his generation who could not reconcile Greek wisdom with their faith. Joseph finds that the speculative eudemonia of Aristotle accords with the Torah. In an innovative interpretation of the Ethics, he reveals that Aristotle believed in individual providence over those who perfected their intellect and over those who practiced the ethical virtues. Joseph also identifies the study of Torah with the activity of speculation similar to the activity of the Separate Intellects. He finds no basis, however, in Aristotle's writings for the immortality of reason. Since the religious imperative grants immortality, it is infinitely greater than the eudemonia of reason. Thus, from a position of rapprochement between science and faith, Joseph considers them under the aspect of eternity and emerges with a complete denial of any ultimate resemblance between the two spheres. (shrink)
Mill's most famous departure from Bentham is his distinction between higher and lower pleasures. This article argues that quality and quantity are independent and irreducible properties of pleasures that may be traded off against each other – as in the case of quality and quantity of wine. I argue that Mill is not committed to thinking that there are two distinct kinds of pleasure, or that ‘higher pleasures’ lexically dominate lower ones, and that the distinction is compatible with hedonism. I (...) show how this interpretation not only makes sense of Mill but allows him to respond to famous problems, such as Crisp's Haydn and the oyster and Nozick's experience machine. (shrink)
Rabbinic tradition, as given in the Palestinian and Babylonian versions of the Talmud, transmits an account of Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah only to depreciate him for the “pariah” that he was during his lifetime. For one who accepts rabbinic authority, there can be no moral ambiguity about the character of the man, his beliefs, or his aspirations.1 The twelfth-century philosopher and rabbi Moses Maimonides spared no criticism of Elisha. Maimonides wrote The Guide for the Perplexed with the object of enlightening (...) “a religious man who has been trained to believe in the truth of our holy Law, who conscientiously fulfills his moral and religious duties, and at the same time has been successful in his philosophical studies .. (shrink)
Mauro Zonta's long awaited work Il Commento medio di Averroè alla Metafisica di Aristotele nella tradizione ebraica is really three books in one: a historical and philological account of the two medieval Hebrew translations of Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics and editions of both translations. The Arabic of Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics is not extant apart from a few fragments (see vol. 1, pp. 13-5). Nor is there a direct Latin translation of the Arabic—indeed, Zonta states that (...) there is no evidence of reliable citations of the work by any Latin authors (vol. 1, p. 18). Zonta's book, then, presents the only way of accessing Averroes' monumental work in its .. (shrink)
In this review I argue that while Berger makes out a good argument that the language of civic engagement covers too much (and hence too little) and that education plays a vital role in developing civic-minded sensibilities, I am less sanguine that the strategies for the reform of our “attention deficit democracy” will achieve the desired effect in a political society dominated by the corrupting influence of corporations who actively seek to undermine just such sensibilities as anathema to their objectives. (...) As corporate objectives become more and more wedded to the state, so too reform becomes less and less likely to be successful. An excellent example of this is the power wielded by the current incarnation of the fossil fuel empire and it’s influence over law-making concerning hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania. While I applaud Berger’s objectives, I am no longer convinced that pragmatism and not a more revolutionary approach can fulfill Berger’s—and my own—democratic ideals. (shrink)
In his paper ‘Theism and the philosophy of nature’, Ben Cordry argues that theism's conception of nature has been falsified. In this response, I argue that the universe in many ways conforms to theistic expectations, and that there is no presumption that a divinely ordered world will take the form that Cordry proposes. (Published Online July 10 2006).
In this review I argue that while Berger makes out a good argument that the language of civic engagement covers too much and that education plays a vital role in developing civic-minded sensibilities, I am less sanguine that the strategies for the reform of our “attention deficit democracy” will achieve the desired effect in a political society dominated by the corrupting influence of corporations who actively seek to undermine just such sensibilities as anathema to their objectives. As corporate objectives become (...) more and more wedded to the state, so too reform becomes less and less likely to be successful. An excellent example of this is the power wielded by the current incarnation of the fossil fuel empire and it’s influence over law-making concerning hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania. While I applaud Berger’s objectives, I am no longer convinced that pragmatism and not a more revolutionary approach can fulfill Berger’s—and my own—democratic ideals. (shrink)