ABSTRACT In this wide-ranging interview Professor Douglas V. Porpora discusses a number of issues. First, how he became a Critical Realist through his early work on the concept of structure. Second, drawing on his Reconstructing Sociology, his take on the current state of American sociology. This leads to discussion of the broader range of his work as part of Margaret Archer’s various Centre for Social Ontology projects, and on moral-macro reasoning and the concept of truth in political discourse.
First published in 1984, Cultural Analysis is a systematic examination of the theories of culture contained in the writings of four contemporary social theorists: Peter L. Berger, Mary Douglas, Michel Foucault, and Jürgen Habermas. This study of their work clarifies their contributions to the analysis of culture and shows the converging assumptions that the authors believe are laying the foundation for a new approach to the study of culture. The focus is specifically on culture, a concept that remains subject (...) to ambiguities of treatment, and concentrates on questions concerning the definition and content of culture, its construction, its relations with social conditions, and the manner in which it may be changing. The books demonstrates how these writers have made strides towards defining culture as an objective element of social interaction which can be subjected to critical investigation. (shrink)
Discussions of Karl Popper's falsificationist philosophy of science appear regularly in the recent literature on economic methodology. In this literature, there seem to be two fundamental points of agreement about Popper. First, most economists take Popper's falsificationist method of bold conjecture and severe test to be the correct characterization of scientific conduct in the physical sciences. Second, most economists admit that economic theory fails miserably when judged by these same falsificationist standards. As Latsis states, “the development of economic analysis would (...) look a dismal affair through falsificationist spectacles.”. (shrink)
During the Gulf war, CNN correspondent Peter Arnett distinguished himself with its courageous reporting in Iraq while under fire by the U.S.-led coalition which dropped more bombs on Iraq than were unleashed in World War II. Reporting live from Baghdad throughout the war, Arnett provided vivid daily accounts of life in Iraq during one of the most sustained air attacks in history. From his live telephone reporting of the early hours of the U.S. attack on Iraq in January 1991 through (...) his live satellite reports of the effects of the daily bombing of Iraq, Arnett distinguished himself through his attempts to cut through the lies and disinformation of both sides and to provide accurate reporting on the effects of the U.S.-led coalition assault against Iraq. (shrink)
If “perfectionism” in ethics refers to those normative theories that treat the fulfillment or realization of human nature as central to an account of both goodness and moral obligation, in what sense is “human flourishing” a perfectionist notion? How much of what we take “human flourishing” to signify is the result of our understanding of human nature? Is the content of this concept simply read off an examination of our nature? Is there no place for diversity and individuality? Is the (...) belief that the content of such a normative concept can be determined by an appeal to human nature merely the result of epistemological naiveté? What is the exact character of the connection between human flourishing and human nature? These questions are the ultimate concern of this essay, but to appreciate the answers that will be offered it is necessary to understand what is meant by “human flourishing.” “Human flourishing” is a relatively recent term in ethics. It seems to have developed in the last two decades because the traditional translation of the Greek term eudaimonia as “happiness” failed to communicate clearly that eudaimonia was an objective good, not merely a subjective good. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that Brad Hooker's rule-consequentialism implausibly implies that what earthlings are morally required to sacrifice for the sake of helping their less fortunate brethren depends on whether or not other people exist on some distant planet even when these others would be too far away for earthlings to affect.
The paper first introduces a cube of opposition that associates the traditional square of opposition with the dual square obtained by Piaget’s reciprocation. It is then pointed out that Blanché’s extension of the square-of-opposition structure into an conceptual hexagonal structure always relies on an abstract tripartition. Considering quadripartitions leads to organize the 16 binary connectives into a regular tetrahedron. Lastly, the cube of opposition, once interpreted in modal terms, is shown to account for a recent generalization of formal concept analysis, (...) where noticeable hexagons are also laid bare. This generalization of formal concept analysis is motivated by a parallel with bipolar possibility theory. The latter, albeit graded, is indeed based on four graded set functions that can be organized in a similar structure. (shrink)
Commonsense Consequentialism is a book about morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, Douglas W. Portmore defends a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons. Broadly construed, consequentialism is the view that an act's deontic status is determined by how its outcome ranks relative to those of the available alternatives on some evaluative ranking. Portmore argues that outcomes should (...) be ranked, not according to their impersonal value, but according to how much reason the relevant agent has to desire that each outcome obtains and that, when outcomes are ranked in this way, we arrive at a version of consequentialism that can better account for our commonsense moral intuitions than even many forms of deontology can. What's more, Portmore argues that we should accept this version of consequentialism, because we should accept both that an agent can be morally required to do only what she has most reason to do and that what she has most reason to do is to perform the act that would produce the outcome that she has most reason to want to obtain.Although the primary aim of the book is to defend a particular moral theory, Portmore defends this theory as part of a coherent whole concerning our commonsense views about the nature and substance of both morality and rationality. Thus, it will be of interest not only to those working on consequentialism and other areas of normative ethics, but also to those working in metaethics. Beyond offering an account of morality, Portmore offers accounts of practical reasons, practical rationality, and the objective/subjective obligation distinction. (shrink)
A rational defense of the criminal law must provide a comprehensive theory of culpability. A comprehensive theory of culpability must resolve several difficult issues; in this article I will focus on only one. The general problem arises from the lack of a systematic account of relative culpability. An account of relative culpability would identify and defend a set of considerations to assess whether, why, under what circumstances, and to what extent persons who perform a criminal act with a given culpable (...) state are more or less blameworthy than persons who perform that act with a different culpable state. (shrink)
These essays engage Jin Y. Park’s recent translation of the work of Kim Iryŏp, a Buddhist nun and public intellectual in early twentieth-century Korea. Park’s translation of Iryŏp’s Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun was the subject of two book panels at recent conferences: the first a plenary session at the annual meeting of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy and the second at the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association on a group program session sponsored by the (...) International Society for Buddhist Philosophy. This exchange also includes a response from Park. (shrink)
In this essay, I consider whether the alleged demise of metaphysical realism does actually provide a better way for defending the cognitive status of ethical judgments. I argue that the rejection of a realist ontology and epistemology does not help to establish the claim that ethical knowledge is possible. More specifically, I argue that Hilary Putnam's argument does not succeed in making a case for ethical knowledge. In fact, his account of the procedures by which our valuations are warranted—the criteria (...) of idealized inquiry—ultimately begs the question in a number of crucial ways. Moreover, it prejudices the moral and political discussion in certain ideological respects. Finally, though Putnam has apparently modified to some extent his approach to the issue of realism in recent years, I will point out that these modifications are not fundamental and do not help to advance the case for ethical knowledge. I note also that Martha C. Nussbaum's appeal to Putnam’s argument actually works against her attempt to make a case for an Aristotelian conception of human flourishing. Ultimately, I conclude that metaphysical realism is vital for ethical knowledge. (shrink)
I. Beyond Utilitarianism In the summer of 1982, I published an article called “Missiles and Morals,” in which I argued on utilitarian grounds that nuclear deterrence in its present form is not morally justifiable. The argument of “Missiles and Morals” compared the most likely sort of nuclear war to develop under nuclear deterrence with the most likely sort of nuclear war to develop under American unilateral nuclear disaramament. For a variety of reasons, I claimed diat the number of casualties in (...) a two-sided nuclear war developing under DET would be at least fifteen times greater than the number of casualties in a one-sided nuclear attack developing under UND. If one assumes that human lives lost or saved is the principal criterion by which nuclear weapons policies should be measured, it follows that DET is morally superior to UND on utilitarian grounds only if the chance of a two-sided nuclear war under DET is more than fifteen times less dian the chance of a one-sided nuclear attack under UND. Since I did not believe that the chance of nuclear war under deterrence is fifteen times less than the chance of nuclear war under unilateral nuclear disarmament, I inferred diat utilitaranism failed to justify DET. Indeed, on utilitarian grounds, DET stood condemned. (shrink)
"The enterprise initiative is probably the most significant political and cultural influence to have affected Western and Eastern Europe in the last decade. In this book, academics from a range of disciplines debate Mary Douglas's distinctive Grid Group cultural theory and examine how it allows us to analyse the complex relation between the culture of enterprise and its institutions. Mary Douglas, Britain's leading cultural anthropologist, contributes several chapters."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights (...) Reserved. (shrink)
The problem of evil has traditionally been formulated as a claim about the incompatibility of the statements ‘God exists’ and ‘There occur instances of suffering’. Hume, for example, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , part x, claims that the statements ‘God exists’ and ‘There occur instances of suffering’ are incompatible. In his esssy ‘Hume on Evil’, Nelson Pike argues that it has not been shown that the statements ‘God exists’ and ‘There occur instances of suffering’ are incompatible because it (...) has not been shown that God could not have a morally sufficient reason for permitting suffering he could prevent. 1 Moreover, according to Pike, the theist who is convinced that God must have a morally sufficient reason for permitting suffering he can prevent will claim that the statements ‘God exists’ and ‘There occur instances of suffering’ are not incompatible. He will claim this even though he cannot specify the morally sufficient reason why God permits suffering he can prevent. The theist will thus maintain that God exists even given the occurrence of suffering in the world. 2 Robert Richman, in his essay ‘The Argument from Evil’, argues that Pike is too generous to the theist. According to Richman, only if the theist can specify the morally sufficient reason why God permits suffering he can prevent will the theist be rationally justified in maintaining that God exists in the face of suffering in the world. Richman supports his position by reformulating the argument from evil in terms of what he calls ‘the logic of our moral judgmentsr’. 3 Richman thinks that his formulation of the argument from evil is successful against the theist who cannot specify the morally sufficient reason why God permits evil he can prevent. In this paper, I shall argue that Richman's argument is not successful against the typical theist, i.e. the person who accepts the existence of God on the basis of faith or a priori arguments. 4. (shrink)
Old philosophical problems never die, but they can be reinterpreted. In this paper, I offer a reinterpretation of the problem of reconciling divine omniscience and human free will. Classical discussions of this problem concentrate on the nature of God and the concept of free will. The present discussion will focus attention on the concept of knowledge, drawing on developments in epistemology that resulted from the posing of a certain problem by Edmund Gettier in 1963.
A recent French reform has revised the legal definition of the corporation. In essence, the law stipulates that the corporation must be run with due regard to the social and environmental impacts of its activity. It also introduces the notion of raison d’être and affords the possibility for any corporation to assign social or environmental purposes to itself, defined in its by-laws. This reform is similar to recent reforms in the UK and the US, but is based on an original (...) and distinctive theoretical argument. The aim of our article is to analyze the fundamental tenets of this reform and their implications for the theory of the corporation. It shows that the new law is based on a new positive definition of the enterprise as not only an economic organization or a productive entity, but more fundamentally a space for innovative collective action. We argue that this view of the enterprise challenges our conceptualization of the corporation in two important ways. First, it shows that the traditional theories overlook the activities of the enterprise and their related impacts, and that the corporation is not necessarily the appropriate legal vehicle for the innovative enterprise. Second, it suggests that the stipulation of the enterprise’s purpose or raison d’être in the corporate by-laws can provide new promising legal foundations for corporate responsibility. (shrink)
Modern analytic philosophy of religion has become increasingly interested in the dogmatic substances of Christian theology. I argue that the doctrine of the Trinity provides an instance of the importance of dogmatic formulation for an appreciation of the philosophical aspect of the Christian concept of God. The starting point of mydiscussion is the recent defence of pantheism by Michael Levine, and his discussion of Neoplatonist and German Idealist models of deity. Both metaphysical theism and the alleged Neoplatonic metaphysical genealogy of (...) pantheism are considered with particular reference to St Augustine's account of creation in the Confessions . Just as it is impossible to distinguish the purely philosophical from the purely dogmatic concept of God, one cannot give an adequate modern account of theism without a rigorous and sensitive treatment of the historical models. The issue of pantheism shows how a misunderstanding of the meaning of concept of ‘unity’ can distort our view of theism as a model of deity. (shrink)
Common sense realism, by E. G. Bewkes.--Theology and religious experience, by V. Ferm.--A reasoned faith, by G. F. Thomas.--Can religion become empirical? By J. S. Bixler.--Value theory and theology, by H. R. Niebuhr.--The truth in myths, by R. Niebuhr.--Is subjectivism in value theory compatible with realism and meliorism? By C. Krusé.--The semi-detached knower: a note on radical empiricism, by R. L. Calhoun.--The new scientific and metaphysical basis for epistemological theory, by F. S. C. Northrop.--A psychological approach to reality, by H. (...) Hartshorne.--A definition of religious liberalism, by D. S. Robinson. (shrink)
Recently several philosophers have claimed that miracles cannot occur or that belief in them involves a misunderstanding of the scientific enterprise. In this paper I will argue that these claims, particularly the latter, are mistaken. By examining the characteristics of the believer's conception of the miraculous I will be able to show how he can meet these sceptical challenges. In particular, I will argue that the believer can hold that certain particular events are the result of intervention by divine agency (...) and are thus not to be explained scientifically but nevertheless can grant the scientist autonomy to investigate all types of events. While I urge that belief in the miraculous does not rest on a confusion I do not argue whether or not this belief is rational or justified. (shrink)
Properties and objects are everywhere, but remain a philosophical mystery. Douglas Ehring argues that the idea of tropes--properties and relations understood as particulars--provides the best foundation for a metaphysical account of properties and objects. He develops and defends a new theory of trope nominalism.
What is truth? What role does truth play in the connections between language and the world? What is the relationship between truth and being? Douglas Edwards tackles these questions and develops a distinctive metaphysical worldview. He argues that in some domains language responds to the world, whereas in others language generates the world.
A growing interest in and concern about the adequacy and fairness of modern peer-review practices in publication and funding are apparent across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Although questions about reliability, accountability, reviewer bias, and competence have been raised, there has been very little direct research on these variables.
This essay asks whether what is good for someone is distinct from her self-perfection, and whether it makes sense to understand either her good or her self-perfection in terms of the other. The essay adopts a traditional naturalistic understanding of perfection. It argues, however, that the conception of human nature that underlies the perfectionist view must be more individualistic than it is often taken to be. It goes on to distinguish individuative from generic features of human nature; because the account (...) includes both types of characteristics, the concluding vision of human nature, and hence human perfection, is deeply individualized. What is good for an individual is linked to the exercise of her nature rather than to desires individuals simply happen to have. (shrink)
In this timely study, Dawes defends the methodological naturalism of the sciences. Though religions offer what appear to be explanations of various facts about the world, the scientist, as scientist, will not take such proposed explanations seriously. Even if no natural explanation were available, she will assume that one exists. Is this merely a sign of atheistic prejudice, as some critics suggest? Or are there good reasons to exclude from science explanations that invoke a supernatural agent? On the one hand, (...) Dawes concedes the bare possibility that talk of divine action could constitute a potential explanation of some state of affairs, while noting that the conditions under which this would be true are unlikely ever to be fulfilled. On the other hand, he argues that a proposed explanation of this kind would rate poorly, when measured against our usual standards of explanatory virtue. (shrink)