This article argues that philosophy instructors in general, and critical thinking instructors in particular, profit from developing concise preparatory remarks for introductory classes. To this end, it argues for two simple, but effective, introductory descriptions of philosophy: talking about how we do what we do and why we do what we do, and critical thinking applied to writing. Of particular interest with respect to the second formulation is an introductory treatment of the concept of thinking, emphasizing critical thinking as a (...) synthetic as well as analytic activity. The article also includes a suggested application of its thesis, namely, “the index-card exercise,” in which students engage in philosophical writing from day one of an introductory course, and use the results to structure and write philosophical papers. (shrink)
Although widely recognized as founder and key figure in the current re-emergence of pragmatism, Charles Peirce is rarely brought into contemporary dialogue. In this book, Kory Sorrell shows that Peirce has much to offer contemporary debate and deepens the value of Peirce’s view of representation in light of feminist epistemology, philosophy of science, and cultural anthropology. Drawing also on William James and John Dewey, Sorrell identifies ways in which bias, authority, and purpose are ineluctable constituents of shared representation. (...) He nevertheless defends Peirce’s realistic account of representation, showing how the independently real world both constrains social representation and informs its content. Most importantly, Sorrell shows how members of a given community not only represent but transform a shared world—and how those practices of representation may, and should, be improved. (shrink)
In this article I present two arguments from Brian Hebblethwaite for the conclusion that multiple incarnations are impossible, as well as the analyses of those arguments provided by three other thinkers: Oliver Crisp, Peter Kevern, and Robin Le Poidevin. I argue that both of Hebblethwaite's arguments are unsound.
One of the most important problems of twentieth century analytic philosophy concern the place of the mind – and in particular, of consciousness and intentionality – in a physical universe. Brian Loar’s essays in the philosophy of mind in this volume include his major contributions in this area. His central concern was how to understand consciousness and intentionality from the subjective perspective, and especially, how to understand subjectivity in a physical universe. He was committed to the reality and reliability (...) of the subjective perspective; and he found that subjective phenomena like intentionality and consciousness are, in a certain sense, ineliminable and irreducible to objective ones. At the same time he believed that intentionality and consciousness are grounded in the physical. One of his great contributions was showing how to reconcile these two positions by being a conceptual and explanatory anti-reductionist about both consciousness and intentionality but a metaphysical reductionist nonetheless. He had a deep commitment to both physicalism and to the reality and significance of the subjective point of view. (shrink)
Essays on Wittgensteinian Themes Dedicated to Brian McGuinness Joachim Schulte, Göran Sundholm. PREFACE For thirty-five years the international community of philosophers have known Brian McGuinness as a major authority on the ...
Human beings are peculiar. In laboratory experiments, they often cooperate in one-shot prisoners’ dilemmas, they frequently offer 1/2 and reject low offers in the ultimatum game, and they often bid 1/2 in the game of divide-the-cake All these behaviors are puzzling from the point of view of game theory. The first two are irrational, if utility is measured in a certain way.1 The last isn’t positively irrational, but it is no more rational than other possible actions, since there are infinitely (...) many other Nash equilibria besides the one in which both players bid 1/2. At the same time, these behaviors seem to indicate that people are sometimes inclined to be cooperative, fair, and just. In his stimulating new book, Brian Skyrms sets himself the task of showing why these inclinations evolved, or how they might have evolved, under the pressure of natural selection. The goal is not to justify our ethical intuitions, but to explain why we have them.2.. (shrink)
Brian Z. Tamanaha has written extensively on realism in jurisprudence, but in his Realistic Theory of Law (2018), he uses "realism" in a commonplace way to ground a rough outline of legal history. While he refers to his method as genealogical, he does not acknowledge the complex tensions in the development of the philosophical use of that term from Nietzsche to Foucault, and the complex epistemological issues that separate them. While the book makes many interesting points, the methodological concerns (...) outweigh them in the overall assessment of the value of the work. (shrink)
As the author of Justice as Impartiality, I am not ashamed to admit that I was delighted by the liveliness of the discussion generated by it at the meeting on which this symposium is based. I am likewise grateful to the six authors for finding the book worthy of the careful attention that they have bestowed on it. Between them, the symposiasts take up many more points than I can cover in this response. I shall therefore focus on some themes (...) that cluster round the contractual device that I associate with the notion of justice as impartiality. Is it necessary? If it is not necessary is it nevertheless useful? Within an overall contractual framework is the form of contract that I propose uniquely justifiable? And does the form of contract that I defend generate the implications that I claim for it? (shrink)
In teaching jurisprudence, I typically distinguish between two different families of theories of adjudication—theories of how judges do or should decide cases. “Formalist” theories claim that the law is “rationally” determinate, that is, the class of legitimate legal reasons available for a judge to offer in support of his or her decision justifies one and only one outcome either in all cases or in some significant and contested range of cases ; and adjudication is thus “autonomous” from other kinds of (...) reasoning, that is, the judge can reach the required decision without recourse to nonlegal normative considerations of morality or political philosophy. I also note that “formalism” is sometimes associated with the idea that judicial decision-making involves nothing more than mechanical deduction on the model of the syllogism—Beccaria, for example, expresses such a view. I call the latter “Vulgar Formalism” to emphasize that it is not a view to which anyone today cares to subscribe. (shrink)
William Hasker replies to my arguments against Social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
In "Some Criticism of the Contextual Approach, and a Few Proposals" in Biological Theory, Brian McLoone discusses some of the points about the contextual approach that I made in a recent paper. Besides offering a reply to McLoone’s comments on my paper, in this article I show why McLoone’s discussion of the two main frameworks for thinking about group selection—the contextual and the Price approach—is partly misguided. In particular, I show that one of McLoone’s main arguments against the contextual (...) approach is missing the target and that one of his (and Elliott Sober’s) arguments in defense of the Price approach is flawed. Criticizing these arguments will help me present an entirely different picture than McLoone’s of the current status of multilevel selection theory. More precisely, I argue that the idea that we are dealing with "multilevel selection" in the type of multigroup cases in which the focal units are the individuals (and their traits) has recently come under threat. Finally, I discuss the ways in which this idea might be salvaged by appealing either to the contextual or to the Price approach. (shrink)
In a series of powerful and challenging articles emerging since the mid-1990s, Brian Leiter has argued that certain theoretical strains in contemporary legal philosophy are ‘epistemologically bankrupt’, in virtue of their reliance on misguided argumentative devices: analysing concepts, such as the concepts of law and of authority; and doing so by appealing to intuitions regarding the correct way to understand the concepts in question. In response to this state of affairs, Leiter advocates that jurisprudence ought to attempt to catch-up (...) with ‘naturalistic’ developments which have influenced the direction of other branches of philosophy – such as epistemology, philosophy of mind, and moral philosophy – in the last few decades. This article offers a critical analysis of some of Leiter’s proposals for what Jurisprudence should become, in light of his views on the relevance of naturalism for this discipline. (shrink)
In "the semantics of singular terms," brian loar described and criticized a "causal" theory of reference and offered a new "description" theory. It is argued that the particular causal theory described is not to be found in the papers by donnellan and kripke cited as evidence for it, And is a straw man. Further "prima facie", Loar's new description theory fails to meet kripke's noncircularity condition. Should loar attempt to meet it, His theory is likely to run foul of (...) kripke's usual "arguments from ignorance and error" against description theories. (shrink)
The plot of Brian Friel's Molly Sweeney oscillates around the theme of perception, blindness and eye-sight recovery. Although visually impaired, the eponymous character is a self-reliant and independent person who is very active, both professionally and socially. What serves as the source of tragedy in the play is the male desire to compensate for Molly's physical disability perceived as a sign of deficiency and oddity that needs to be normalized. Prompted by her husband, Molly decides to undergo a surgery (...) which gives her a chance to regain sight and, thus, become a part of the world of the visually abled. Yet, subsequent to the operation, Molly cannot adapt herself to the new reality and develops a medical condition called blindsight, which leads to her final alienation and confusion. Focusing predominantly on the main character of the play, this paper examines the ways in which Molly Sweeney experiences the surrounding world and seeks satisfaction and self-fulfilment through physical activities, such as swimming or dancing, which she vividly describes in her monologues. It explores the double nature of Molly who, despite her self-sufficiency, capacity for rebellion and a sense of autonomy, seems prone to male manipulation exercised at first by her father, later by her husband Frank and doctor Rice. Her expression of independence becomes particularly conspicuous in the scene of a party organized the night before her surgery when she performs a wild and frantic hornpipe, which serves as a form of momentary upheaval and a visualization of the outburst of extreme emotions. Although the dance is not presented onstage, it has a crucial function in the play, for it serves as its powerful climax, after which Molly experiences gradual deterioration. Interpreted in the context of the history of Irish dance, the mad hornpipe appears replete with meanings and allusions. Traditionally associated with human sexuality and the female element, dance was often treated by the Irish clergy with a great deal of distrust as a source of evil and moral corruption. Consequently, like in the case of the frenzied reel in another famous Frielian play, Dancing at Lughnasa, the limitless and unrestricted performance in the climactic scene of Molly Sweeney may be seen as a tool of subversion and female opposition to the Irish patriarchal order. It is a unique moment in which the protagonist seizes male power and gains full, though very temporary, control over her life. (shrink)
There has been a recent surge of evolutionary explanations of art. In this article I evaluate one currently influential example, Brian Boyd’s recent book On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. The book offers a stimulating collection of findings, ideas, and hypotheses borrowed from a wide range of research disciplines, brought together under the umbrella of evolution. However, in so doing Boyd lumps together issues that need to be separated, most importantly, organic and cultural evolution. In addition, (...) he fails to consider alternative explanations to art as adaptation such as exaptation and constraint. Moreover, the neurobiological literature suggests current evidence of biological adaptation for most of the arts is weak at best. Given these considerations, I conclude by proposing to regard the arts instead as culturally evolved practices building on pre-existing biological traits. (shrink)
Brian Trainor argues that the current hostility of political theorists towards the idea of the common good is in part due to the influence of Isaiah Berlin's concept of `value pluralism', or the incommensurability of basic human values. I agree with Trainor's opposition to the `agonistic' interpretation of pluralism, associated with thinkers like Chantal Mouffe. However, it is not the case that the only alternative to the pluralism— agonism thesis is the monist defence of a thick common good advocated (...) by Trainor. Between these extremes there is a middle way that accepts the deep plurality of values in Berlin's sense, but recognizes a case for a thin conception of the common good — that is, a liberal political framework. (shrink)
In ‘The ethics of belief and Christian faith as commitment to assumptions’, Rik Peels attacks the views that I advanced in ‘Christianity and the ethics of belief’. Here, I rebut his criticisms of the claim that it is wrong to believe without sufficient evidence, of the contention that Christians are committed to that claim, and of the notion of that faith is not belief but commitment to assumptions in the hope of salvation. My original conclusions still stand.
In his recent article, ‘A Gift to Theology? Jean-Luc Marion's ‘Saturated Phenomena’ in Christological Perspective’, Brian Robinette has critiqued Marion's phenomenology for confining theology to a one-sided approach to Christology, one that stresses only the passive, mystical reception of Christ. To correct this imbalance, Robinette brings Marion into dialogue with those more active Christologies or ‘prophetical-ethical’ liberation theologies of Gustavo Gutierrez, Johann Baptist Metz and others that stress a life-praxis focused on confronting evil and suffering. In this essay I (...) am arguing that Robinette has not fully developed the ‘logic’ of Marion's phenomenology of the ‘call and the gifted’, in which both a passive and an active element are operative. I explore more fully that very dynamic phenomenological process of the call-and-the-gifted as developed in Marion's work Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness. Once viewed in Christological perspective, and especially in light of Christ's death and resurrection, Marion's phenomenology entails an ethical trope consistent with the mission of Christ as rendered in Scriptural revelation, and thus the gap between Marion's work and the prophetical-ethical theologies of Gutierrez and Baptist Metz becomes narrowed. (shrink)
In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein proposes a bold new systematic strategy for developing social ontology. He explores the history and current state of the art and provides pointed critiques of leading theories in the field. His framework, incompassing frames that provide principles for grounding social facts, is developed in some detail across a variety of social practices and applied to revealing real world as well as hyporthetical examples. If Epstein's account holds, it should provide new directions and standards (...) of inquiry in both social sciecne and social philiosophy. (shrink)
Brian Loar argues that we can account for the conceptual independence of coextensive terms purely psychologically, by appealing to conceptual rather than semantic differences between concepts, and that this leaves room for assuming that phenomenal and physical concepts can be coextensive on a posteriori grounds despite the fact that both sorts of concepts refer directly . I argue that Loar does not remove the mystery of the coextensiveness of those concepts because he does not offer any explanation of why (...) they should be coextensive. Secondly, I argue that even if we grant that phenomenal and physical concepts can be coextensive on a posteriori grounds, we are committed to holding that there are two different and essential modes of presentation of phenomenal properties, the physical and the phenomenal, and that this precludes us from seeing phenomenal properties as essentially physical in an unrelativized sense. (shrink)
Brian Leiter and Peter Kail have delivered thoughtful critiques of my book, Nietzsche’s Naturalism: Philosophy and the Life Sciences in the Nineteenth Century.1 It is a great pleasure to respond to these critiques, since they raise some crucial issues with regard to Nietzsche’s understanding of naturalism and normativity. On the one hand, there are many areas of agreement: Nietzsche’s philosophical project is best understood along the lines of naturalism; developments in the nineteenth-century life sciences, broadly speaking, play a crucial (...) role in the formation of Nietzsche’s naturalism; and Nietzsche’s relationship to both Darwin and Darwin’s neo-Kantian interpreters is more complex than generally assumed. On the... (shrink)
I am grateful to Alan Madry and Joel Richeimer for their intelligent and stimulating critique of my article “Heidegger and the Theory of Adjudication.” It is the most interesting commentary I have seen on the paper, and I have learned much from it. It may facilitate discussion, and advance debate, to state with some clarity where exactly we agree and disagree. I leave to the footnotes discussion of certain minor points where Madry and Richeimer are guilty of some critical overreaching.
In this interview Prof. Brian Leftow answers questions concerning the causes of the emergence of Analytic Philosophical Theology within the analytic tradition; the advantages of maintaining the traditional picture of perfect being theology with regards to divine attributes; his conception about the origin of necessary truths; the problem of evil; and the importance for universities of investing in research on philosophical theology.
The Philosophical Challenge from China, edited by Brian Bruya, undoubtedly occupies an important place in the discourse about what practices and authorities are relevant to Philosophy as an academic discipline. Its confident reorientation of philosophical relevance in the context of Anglophone academics will hopefully speak meaningfully to any remaining skeptics of the usefulness of Chinese philosophy. The intended audience of this effort, however, is shrinking, or, more accurately, those willing to be convinced are increasingly few, and what remains is (...) simply and haplessly the staunch traditionalists of the so-called Western paradigm. This evokes the thought that anthologies that strive to show relevance... (shrink)
Brian Barry's Culture and Equality is probably the most powerful liberal egalitarian critique of multiculturalism addressing the pathologies of recognizing difference of ethnicity, religion, race, and culture. In this essay, I examine Barry's approach to the law, which underpins his theory of egalitarianism to determine whether it is enough — as Barry thinks it is — to insist on either applying the same law for everyone so that exemptions are foreclosed in general, or repealing the law since the case (...) for its existence is not justified. I find that Barry's effort is inadequate. Because the conditions for exemptions are not specified, exemptions are merely defensible, not just. Using the headscarf controversy in France to illustrate why Barry's approach backfires, I argue how enforcing the same law for all leads to undermining the very politics of redistribution that Barry champions. (shrink)
I take as my text propostion 4.0312 of the Tractatus : The possibility of propositions is based on the principle that objects have signs as their representatives. My fundamental idea is that the ‘logical constants’ are not representatives; that there can be no representatives of the logic of facts. Practically the same words occur in Wittgenstein's Notebook for 25 December 1914, where Miss Anscombe translates them: The possibility of the proposition is, of course, founded on the principle of signs as (...) going proxy for objects. Thus in the proposition something has something else as its proxy. But there is also the common cement. My fundamental thought is that the logical constants are not proxies. That the logic of the fact cannot have anything as its proxy. (shrink)
In the preface to his book God the Problem , Gordon Kaufman writes ‘Although the notion of God as agent seems presupposed by most contemporary theologians … Austin Farrer has been almost alone in trying to specify carefully and consistently just what this might be understood to mean.’.
Espen Hammer’s exceptionally fine book explores modern temporality, its problems and prospects. Hammer claims that how people experience time is a cultural/historical phenomenon, and that there is a peculiarly modern way of experiencing time as a series of present moments each indefinitely leading to the next in an ordered way. Time as measured by the clock is the paradigmatic instance of this sense of time. In this perspective time is quantifiable and forward-looking, and the present is dominated by the future. (...) Hammer argues that this manner of experiencing time provides a way of living that brings with it not only the basis for great successes in technology, but also great costs—specifically, what he calls the problems of transience and of meaning. Hammer goes about his task by considering the ways some of the great modern philosophers have characterized present-day temporality and have responded to the problems he has identified. Specifically, he considers what Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Habermas, Bloch, and Adorno provide in response to our peculiarly modern predicaments. The book is remarkable for its clarity and perceptiveness, but in the process in crucial places it simplifies the matters at hand or fails to push its insights as far as it ought, and in the end promises more than it can deliver. In this it betrays a rationalist confidence in the power of reason that founders on what in many ways remains a mystery. (shrink)
Patrick O'Brian, the Aubrey-Maturin Series of twenty novels (Norton, 1970-1999). My appreciation written for WIRED magazine: "I re-read this extraordinary series of novels because of the depth of portrayal of the major and minor characters, but also because they teach me so much about what science and technology were like two centuries ago. O'Brian shows you the world-that-was through the eyes of a Tory naval captain (Jack Aubrey), at sea since the age of 12, working his way up (...) to admiral, dealing with the height of 18th-century technology (sailing ships and celestial navigation). I identify more strongly with his liberally-educated, physician-scientist friend (Stephen Maturin), who went to medical school in Paris during the French Revolution. You see natural history turning into a biological science, bleeding-and-purging medicine starting to learn some physiology -- and, because Maturin is also an intelligence agent for the Admiralty, you see statecraft at work during the Napoleonic Wars. These books strongly remind you about what scientific ignorance and social conventions can do to your mindset, and how the future will likely judge us as well." -- William H. Calvin You can get them all at once, so you can: The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Series (20 volumes). Depending on amazon.com's current discount, this works out to US$15-20 each (and in hardcover). (shrink)