Hohfeldian normative system are normative systems that can be described by means of the analytical framework expounded by Hohfeld in his two famous papers on the fundamental legal conceptions. In this article I analyze some features of this particular kind of normative systems. Hohfeld’s original idea was to design a universal tool capable of describing, at the most basic level, the web of normative relationships between persons created by a system of rules. My claim is, instead, that if we take (...) Hohfeld’s framework literally as it is, Hohfeldian normative systems are few. This happens because, amongst other peculiarities, standard Hohfeldian normative systems are necessarily complete and unclosed. In the final part of the article I will show how we can have instead incomplete and closed Hohfeldian normative systems, extending in this way the descriptive range of Hohfeld’s framework. (shrink)
In his article “Directed Duties and Inalienable Rights,” Hillel Steiner advances an argument to show that there cannot be inalienable rights. This “impossibility theorem,” as well as providing an interesting result by itself, could break the theoretical deadlock in the debate between proponents of interest theory, on the one hand, and proponents of will theory, on the other. In this article, I comment on Steiner’s argument, and I try to show why it does not work. I then expound a paradoxical (...) outcome of the Hohfeldian analytical framework and examine how it might be amended to avoid this outcome. (shrink)
In this paper, I set myself what many people would consider an unfeasible task: finding a Kantian way to an environmental moral theory. The paper is divided in four parts. In the first part I show why looking at Kant’s moral theory in order to build an environmental theory is like trying to get blood out of a stone. I then show how it should be, instead, possible to build an environmental theory by bridging Kant’s account of aesthetic value with (...) love of nature. In the last two parts of the paper I deal with some possible criticisms and sketch the contours of the environmental stance born from Kant’s aesthetic treatment of nature. (shrink)
The idea that «natural» environments should be protected is a relatively recent one. This new attitude is reflected in the activities of preservation and restoration of natural environments, ecosystems, flora and wildlife that, when scientifically based, can be defined as conservation. In this paper, we would like to examine the framework of values behind these activities. More specifically, we would like to show that there is no single specific reason that can justify conservation in each of its manifestations It is (...) therefore necessary to adopt a complex framework of values, which must be composed carefully, since many of the canonical arguments used to justify conservation provide, when combined together, an incoherent or, at least, incomplete set of reasons. One way to avoid these inconsistencies or incompleteness is, in our view, to adopt, in conjunction with the classic economic and ecological arguments for conservation, a set of arguments appealing to the importance of nature for human flourishing. (shrink)
In this work I will evaluate the functions of rights within the moral discourse, and I will point out the benefits and the characteristics of a moral theory that takes rights seriously. In the first chapter I will sketch a definition of rights as a moral category that can be distinguished from categories such as the ones of juridical rights and natural rights. In the second chapter, I will propose a hohfeldian analysis of the normative syntax of rights, and I (...) will focus on the key problem of the relation between rights and duties. The issue I will deal with in the third chapter is the general function of specific rights. On this matter I will draw an hybrid solution between the orthodox proposals of the so-called interest and choice theories, and the more recent approaches provided by the past ten years literature. In the fourth and fifth chapters topics such as the conflict of rights, their violations and infringements will allow me to go deeper in the context and premises of the model of moral theory that I will take into account in the last section of this work. In the sixth chapter I will give an answer to the central questions of this research, and I will also provide a general model of abstract rights, by shading light on their original normative functions. I will use this model to investigate the possibility of justifying a moral theory on its ground, and I will compare this kind of theory with other theories structured upon different categories of normative objects – like duties and goals. (shrink)
One of the main reasons for justifying rights originates from the principle of the separateness of persons. However, it can been denied that persons are definite and “thick” entities, and, as such, that their supposed separateness expresses a fundamental normative principle. Should we then reconsider or abandon rights-talk? I will argue for the contrary, and claim that an extreme reductionist position towards persons is flawed. Moreover, I will claim that right-discourse can be anchored on grounds other than the principle of (...) separateness of persons, as principles of distributive justice and rights are still needed to build up what has been called “ morality in the narrow sense ”, which is, in turn, necessary for protecting “ morality in the broad sense” : that is, the individual pursuit of a good life. (shrink)
Touch pools are popular open-topped fish tanks often found in aquariums where visitors may interact with animals, by touching and sometimes even feeding them, for educational and recreational purposes. However, although animal interactions are becoming increasingly popular in recent years, the welfare impact on the animals and the educational effectiveness of such interactions is under debate. Awareness concerning the different, and sometimes controversial, aspects connected with such interactions has spread. The aim of this paper is to investigate the ethical issues (...) arising from the presence of touch pools in aquariums and facilities alike. In particular, possible sources of moral conflicts between five interested parties will be identified and discussed: biodiversity; aquariums; staff involved with touch pools; individual animals used in the touch pools; visitors interacting with animals in touch pools. In order to assess the framework of ethical demands from different parties, it will be used an analytical tool provided by a revised version of the Ethical Matrix. (shrink)
In this paper I would like to make a contribution to the debate on rights-talk and duties-talk relationship and priority by addressing the problem from a peculiar angle: that of moral conflicts and dilemma. My working hypothesis is that it should be possible to identify some basic and relevant normative features of rights-talk and duties-talk by observing how they modify the description of moral conflicts. I will try to show that both rights and duties posses original and irreducible normative features, (...) and that these latter can be employed in a general assessment of their pro and con. I will first show the conceptual relationship between rights and duties, analyzing in the process a deflationary argument for rights. Second, I will define the general features of moral conflict and dilemma. I will then analyze the different readings that can be given, taking rights or duties as standpoints, of two kinds of moral conflicts: «asymmetric» and «symmetric» conflicts. (shrink)
Although panpsychism has had a very long history, one that goes back to the very origin of western philosophy, its force has only recently been appreciated by analytic philosophers of mind. And even if many still reject the theory as utterly absurd, others have argued that it is the only genuine form of physicalism. This paper examines the case for panpsychism and argues that there are at least good prima facie reasons for taking it seriously. In a second step, the (...) paper discusses the main difficulty the theory has to face, the ‘composition problem’. This is the problem of explaining how the primitive experiences that are supposed to exist at the ultimate level of reality could give rise to the unified experience of a human being. What assumptions as to the nature of experience generate the composition problem? Is mental composition impossible in principle or do we simply lack at present any understanding of phenomenal parts and wholes? (shrink)
In this Festschrift honoring the work of Timothy L. S. Sprigge, Sprigge summarizes his philosophy (a synthesis of absolute idealism, panpsychism, and utilitarianism), defends his position against criticism raised by philosophers in the preceding chapters of this volume, and offers in an addendum a proof for the existence of the Absolute, namely, a final and all-embracing Consciousness akin in many ways to Spinoza’s God. This defense of his philosophy consists mainly of responses to various points of criticism raised about his (...) view of time, the relation between his metaphysics and ethics, panpsychism, the Absolute, and animal rights. (shrink)
Uma referênda à obra Kants Theorie der Erfahrung de Hermann Cohen feita na primeira redacção do Prefácio à obra Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels de Walter Benjamin faz com que o conceito coheniano de origem saia do sen isolamento, deixando ao mesmo tempo entrever os traços de um confronto mais rico e articulado entre Walter Benjamin e o pensador de Marburgo. A dimensão histórica que segundo Benjamin permanecia fora da exposição coheniana do conceito de origem, emerge aqui de forma saliente. Assim, (...) o facto de Cohen ter discutido nesse contexto a relação entre a priori metafísico e a priori transcendental sugere que a obra Kants Theorie der Erfahrung representa verdadeiramente um texto não secundário em ordem a demonstrar o significado da presença de Hermann Cohen no Prefácio de Walter Benjamin. Finalmente, o artigo pretende demonstrar de que modo a retomada por parte de Hermann Cohen da mesma problemática a propósito da definição do conceito de revelação permite ao mesmo tempo instituir um nexo com algumas considerações de Benjamin sobre a linguagem e a terminologia filosófica e até mesmo com aquilo que ele considera sera dimensão "esotérica" dopensamento de Kant. /// The standard interpretation of Benjamin's critique of Cohen is that his concept of origin had no historical dimension. However, a reference by Benjamin to Kant's Theory of Experience in the first draft of the Epistemo-Critical Prologue to The Origin of the German Tragic Drama seems to cast doubt on this interpretation. Moreover, the fact that Cohen had discussed the relation between metaphysical and transcendental a priori in the Introduction to Kant's Theory of Experience confirms its relevance in the said Prologue. Cohens revival of this problem in the context of his theory of revelation suggests that there is a connection with Benjamin's reflections on language and philosophical terminology, and even with what he calls the "esoterical" dimension of Kant's thought. (shrink)
Russell’s critique of substance monism is an ideal starting point from which to understand some main concepts in Spinoza’s difficult metaphysics. This paper provides an in-depth examination of Spinoza’s proof that only one substance exists. On this basis, it rejects Russell’s interpretation of Spinoza’s theory of reality as founded upon the logical doctrine that all propositions consist of a predicate and a subject. An alternative interpretation is offered: Spinoza’s substance is not a bearer of properties, as Russell implied, but an (...) eternally active, self-actualizing creative power. Eventually, Spinoza the Monist and Russell the Pluralist are at one in holding that process and activity rather than enduring things are the most fundamental realities. (shrink)
This paper provides an interpretation and evaluation of Spinoza's highly original version of the ontological proof in terms of the concept of substance instead of the concept of perfection in the first book of his Ethics. Taking the lead from Kant's critique of ontological arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason, the paper explores the underlying ontological and epistemological presuppositions of Spinoza's proof. The main topics of consideration are the nature of Spinoza's definitions, the way he conceives of the relation (...) between a substance and its essence, and his conception of existence. Once clarity is shed upon these fundamental issues, it becomes possible to address the proof in its own terms. It is then easy to see that Kant's objections miss their target and that the same is true of those advanced by another of the ontological argument's most famous critics, Bertrand Russell. Finally, several interpretations of Spinoza's proof are proposed and critically evaluated; on all of them, the argument turns out to be either invalid or question-begging. (shrink)
Cohen′s critical remarks on natural-law theories argue that the identification between unwritten law and written Torah, which he suggests in his opus postumum, cannot mean that written Torah should be understood as a dogmatic code of natural law. This identification has to be understood on the basis of the constitutive relation of the written Torah to the oral one and has implications in view of a theory of reason: following the analogy of written Torah, the a priori of reason turns (...) out to be like a code, whose canonical authority is always presupposed although it is rewritten like a palimpsest at every new application. (shrink)
We discuss the possible nature and role of non-physical entanglement, and the classical vs. non-classical interface, in models of human decision-making. We also introduce an experimental setting designed after the double-slit experiment in physics, and discuss how it could be used to discriminate between classical and non-classical interference effects in human decisions.
According to the editors of this book, “The history of philosophy as taught today is a highly selective activity. In its determination to tell a particular story, it passes over in silence large swathes of otherwise interesting philosophical work”. This claim would have been worthy of serious consideration had it been made a few decades ago—that is to say, at a time when analytic philosophy was a clearly recognizable philosophical movement. The “particular story” according to which the works of the (...) British idealists were allegedly sacrificed would then have been easily identified as the story of how the young Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore showed the absurdity involved in holding that... (shrink)
Whitehead and Dewey called for a deep reform of philosophy. Although they respected one another, Dewey can be read as criticizing Whitehead for hisadherence to a traditional, and unfortunately conservative, way of conceiving of the discipline. This article provides an in-depth reconstruction as well as a qualified defense of Dewey’s charge.
Whitehead's system may be interpreted as a majestic attempt at recasting Leibniz's theory of monads in terms of sounder ontological categories. After a brief introductory section on the sources of Whitehead's knowledge of Leibniz's philosophy, the paper explains why Whitehead turned to Leibniz for metaphysical inspiration. Attention then shifts to Whitehead's understanding of the problems involved with Leibniz's theory of monads and his alternative explanation of monadic causation. Whitehead's endeavour to install windows in Leibniz's monads may not be entirely convincing, (...) but there are philosophical gems scattered here and there in his analyses – true moments of insight that repay close examination. (shrink)
This book introduces the reader to Whitehead’s complex and often misunderstood metaphysics by showing that it deals with questions about the nature of causation originally raised by the philosophy of Leibniz. Whitehead’s philosophy is an attempt at rehabilitating Leibniz’s theory of monads by recasting it in terms of novel ontological categories.