Throughout Anselm’s writings one can trace what seems to be a paradoxical inconsistency in his treatment of reason (ratio), understanding (intelligere) andthought (cogitare). The Monologion begins by proposing that even an unbeliever can convince himself of truths about God, “simply by reason alone,” while in theProslogion Anselm claims, to the contrary, “I believe so that I may understand.” Much of this confusion can be resolved by clarifying Anselm’s distinctions betweenreason, understanding and thought. Thought follows reason, but reason can surpass understanding; (...) one need not understand a conclusion reached through reason. Ultimately, one must understand what God is—‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannotbe-thought’—in order to prove through reason that one cannot think of God as non-existent, but the deeper understanding that God exists must come, not from reason, but through God’s illumination of one’s soul. (shrink)
Abstract There are at least eight good reasons practicing historians should concern themselves with counterfactual claims. Furthermore, four of these reasons do not even require that we are able to tell which historical counterfactuals are true and which are false. This paper defends the claim that these reasons to be concerned with counterfactuals are good ones, and discusses how each can contribute to the practice of history. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9817-z Authors Daniel Nolan, School of (...) Philosophy, Australian National University, 0200 Canberra, Australia Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Curry's paradox for "if.. then.." concerns the paradoxical features of sentences of the form "If this very sentence is true, then 2+2=5". Standard inference principles lead us to the conclusion that such conditionals have true consequents: so, for example, 2+2=5 after all. There has been a lot of technical work done on formal options for blocking Curry paradoxes while only compromising a little on the various central principles of logic and meaning that are under threat. -/- Once we have a (...) sense of the technical options, though, a philosophical choice remains. When dealing with puzzles in the logic of conditionals, a natural place to turn is independently motivated semantic theories of the behaviour of "if... then...". This paper argues that the closest-worlds approach outlined in Nolan 1997 offers a philosophically satisfying reason to deny conditional proof and so block the paradoxical Curry reasoning, and can give the verdict that standard Curry conditionals are false, along with related "contraction conditionals". (shrink)
How does human language contribute to the cognitive edge humans have over other species? This question eludes most current theories of language and knowledge. Incorporating research results in psychology and cutting a path through a broad range of philosophical debates, Nolan develops a strikingly original account of language acquisition which holds important implications for standard theories of language and the philosophical foundations of cognitive science.
Nolan, Ann MC In the past fifty years there has been a stream of commentary on the documents of Vatican II. Have we not had so much commentary, so much interpretation, that further commentary is unnecessary? Fifty years on, one might ponder how to interpret the sixteen documents for the church of our times, indeed to wonder whether they continue to have any relevance at all. Faced with this thought, we could turn to one scholar whose works span almost (...) the whole of this fifty-year period, yet whose thought in relation to the documents has not remained static: the renaissance historian John O'Malley SJ. (shrink)
Nolan reviews three works describing the influence of ethics on modern international relations, namely Code of Peace: Ethics and Security in the World of the Warlord States ; The Age of Rights ; and Morality and American Foreign Policy: The Role of Ethics in International Affairs.
Nolan, Malachy J When Japanese forces invaded New Guinea during the Second World War, there was a large missionary presence in the territory that had been built up in the preceding fifty years. The territory was previously a German possession but had been administered as a trust territory of Australia under a League of Nations mandate after the First World War. Geographically, it consisted of the northern part of the eastern half of the New Guinea mainland; the large islands (...) of New Britain and New Ireland, which lay to the north-east; and the Bougainville portion of the Solomon Islands, further to the east. There were missionaries from both Protestant and Catholic Churches and, because of history, many of these were of German background. (shrink)
In this paper, I motivate the view that quantitative parsimony is a theoretical virtue: that is, we should be concerned not only to minimize the number of kinds of entities postulated by our theories (i. e. maximize qualitative parsimony), but we should also minimize the number of entities postulated which fall under those kinds. In order to motivate this view, I consider two cases from the history of science: the postulation of the neutrino and the proposal of Avogadro's hypothesis. I (...) also consider two issues concerning how a principle of quantitative parsimony should be framed. (shrink)
In this paper we introduce a distinct metaethical position, fictionalism about morality. We clarify and defend the position, showing that it is a way to save the 'moral phenomena' while agreeing that there is no genuine objective prescriptivity to be described by moral terms. In particular, we distinguish moral fictionalism from moral quasi-realism, and we show that fictionalism possesses the virtues of quasi-realism about morality, but avoids its vices.
As is well known, Aristotelian natural philosophy, and many other systems of natural philosophy since, have relied heavily on teleology and teleological causation. Somehow, the purpose or end of an obj ect can be used to predict and explain what that object does: once you know that the end of an acorn is to become an oak, and a few things about what sorts of circumstances are conducive to the attainment of this end, you can predict a lot about the (...) sprouting of the acorn and the subsequent behaviour of the piece of vegetation that results. Once you know that a rock seeks to move towards the centre of the Earth, you gain some insight into why it falls when released, and why it deforms the carpet or foot that it lands on. Once you know that the rabbit seeks to preserve itself, you can predict it will run from the fox. And so on. There are at least three features of Aristotle’s teleology, and more generally of an Aristotelian frame of mind about teleology, that may induce suspicion. One is that an end can serve as a "cause": as well as the sort of causation we all recognize, efficient causation, there are other forms, one of which is teleological causation. However, this can look less odd if we think of causes as things that figure in "because" answers to "why" questions. Whether or not self-preservation, or the rabbit’s continued existence, or something similar, causes the rabbit to run, the reply "because it seeks to continue in existence" certainly makes sense as an answer, or part of an answer, to a question about why it ran from the fox. (At present we are only. (shrink)
Questions about necessity (or what has to be, or what cannot be otherwise) and possibility (or what can be, or what could be otherwise) are questions about modality. Fictionalism is an approach to theoretical matters in a given area which treats the claims in that area as being in some sense analogous to fictional claims: claims we do not literally accept at face value, but which we nevertheless think serve some useful function. However, despite its name, “Modal Fictionalism” in its (...) usual manifestations is not primarily fictionalism about claims of necessity and possibility, but rather a fictionalist approach to claims about possible worlds. (For instance, modal fictionalism is not normally fictionalist about the claim that “it is possible that there be a species of tail-less kangaroo”, but rather about the claim that “there is a possible world in which there is a species of tail-less kangaroo”.) The practice of taking possible worlds to be merely convenient fictions, or of treating talk about possible worlds as being useful without being literally correct, is quite common in philosophical circles. It is only recently, however, that philosophers have seriously examined the implications of taking possible worlds to be merely fictional objects, like Sherlock Holmes or a frictionless surface. (shrink)
One very popular kind of semantics for subjunctive conditionals is aclosest-worlds account along the lines of theories given by David Lewisand Robert Stalnaker. If we could give the same sort of semantics forindicative conditionals, we would have a more unified account of themeaning of ``if ... then ...'' statements, one with manyadvantages for explaining the behaviour of conditional sentences. Such atreatment of indicative conditionals, however, has faced a battery ofobjections. This paper outlines a closest-worlds account of indicativeconditionals that does better (...) than some of its cousins in explaining thebehaviour of such conditionals. The paper then discusses objectionsoffered by Dorothy Edgington and Frank Jackson to closest-worldsaccounts of indicative conditionals, and shows that these objections canbe met by the account outlined. (shrink)
There’s an argument around from so-called “linguistic theories of vagueness”, plus some relatively uncontroversial considerations, to powerful metaphysical conclusions. David Lewis employs this argument to support the mereological principle of unrestricted composition, and Theodore Sider employs a similar argument not just for unrestricted composition but also for the doctrine of temporal parts. This sort of argument could be generalised, to produce a lot of other less palatable metaphysical conclusions. However, arguments to Lewis’s and Sider’s conclusions on the basis of considerations (...) about vagueness are uncompelling, even if we accept the crucial premises about vagueness. And a good thing too, since the generalised form of the argument would prove far too much. (shrink)
It is no longer a revelation that companies have some responsibility to uphold human rights. However, delineating the boundaries of the relationship between business and human rights is more vexed. What is it that we are asking corporations to assume responsibility for and how far does that responsibility extend? This article focuses on the extent to which economic, social and cultural rights fall within a corporation's sphere of responsibility. It then analyses how corporations may be held accountable for violations of (...) such rights. Specifically, the article considers the use of soft law as a protective mechanism; it also details how victims of harmful corporate behaviour are using litigation (pursuant to ATCA and common law domestic causes of action) to seek redress and recognition of the harms they have directly or indirectly experienced. The article concludes with an analysis of Professor Ruggie's (the United Nations Special Representative on the issue of transnational corporations and human rights) 2008 and 2009 Reports in which it is suggested that a respect-based framework must be interpreted as imposing proactive requirements on companies to prevent the infringement of human rights. Future efforts must also be directed towards the recognition of a specialised complementary corporate responsibility to protect human rights. (shrink)
One increasingly popular technique in philosophy might be called the "platitudes analysis": a set of widely accepted claims about a given subject matter are collected, adjustments are made to the body of claims, and this is taken to specify a “role” for the phenomenon in question. (Perhaps the best-known example is analytic functionalism about mental states, where platitudes about belief, desire, intention etc. are together taken to give us a "role" for states to fill if they are to count as (...) mental states.) We then look to our best theory of the world to see where this role is satisfied, if at all. Unfortunately, the platitudes analysis, so characterised, does not seem to help when we are doing fundamental metaphysics—when we want to know what, at base, our world is like (and not merely where things like e.g. the mental would be found in an already-specified ontology). Nevertheless, I will argue that the platitudes analysis, properly understood, does have the materials to help us answer questions in fundamental metaphysics as well. I will explore three different ways it can do so. (shrink)
It is almost universally believed that some infinite regresses are vicious, and also almost universally believed that some are benign. In this paper I argue that regresses can be vicious for several different sorts of reasons. Furthermore, I claim that some intuitively vicious regresses do not suffer from any of the particular aetiologies that guarantee viciousness to regresses, but are nevertheless so on the basis of considerations of parsimony. The difference between some apparently benign and some apparently vicious regresses, then, (...) turns out to be a matter of a more general assessment of costs and benefits, making viciousness of regresses in some cases less of a local matter than is usually thought. (shrink)
We discuss explanation of an earlier event by a later event, and argue that prima facie cases of backwards event explanation are ubiquitous. Some examples: (1) I am tidying my flat because my brother is coming to visit tomorrow. (2) The scarlet pimpernels are closing because it is about to rain. (3) The volcano is smoking because it is going to erupt soon. We then look at various ways people might attempt to explain away these prima facie cases by arguing (...) that in each case the 'real' explanation is something else. We argue that none of the explaining-away strategies are successful, and so any plausible account of explanation should either make room for backwards explanation, or have a good story to tell about why it doesn't have to. (shrink)
This paper discusses the principle of recombination for possible worlds. It argues that arguments against unrestricted recombination offered by Forrest and Armstrong and by David Lewis fail, but a related argument is a challenge, and recommends that we accept an unrestricted principle of recombination and the conclusion that possible worlds form a proper class.
When invited to consider the methodology of contemporary metaphysics, quite a number of procedures spring to mind as part of the metaphysician's toolkit. These include: eliciting and relying on intuitions; solving location problems and using “conceptual analysis”; inference to the best theory, both on internal metaphysical grounds and drawing from the theoretical reaches of the sciences; working on topics clearly close to, or even overlapping, those of other areas of inquiry using techniques of those other areas; achieving coherence with other (...) theories developed with other aims; and employing deductive reasoning to yield surprising conclusions. Many of these techniques are associated with significant and growing literatures about their scope, epistemic justification, suitability to different metaphysical problems, and so on. (shrink)
The question of what truths are necessary in the broadest possible sense is a difficult one to answer, as is the question of what the limits are to what is possible. (Most people would see these two questions as different sides of the same coin, of course, since many think the question of what is possible is just the question of what is not necessarily ruled out). We have three general sorts of strategies for determining whether something is necessary (or (...) possible). We can identify it in a class that we were previously sure was a class of things that are necessary – we might show it is a theorem of a logical system that we have confidence in, or that the sentence appears to be true simply in virtue of the meanings of the words, or that it is a true statement involving names or about natural kinds of the “necessary a posteriori” sort discussed by Kripke and Putnam, and there are perhaps other classes of claims which we are prepared to accept are necessary if true.1 Likewise, we might establish the possibility of something occurring by reference to a class of well-established or uncontroversial possibilities: e.g. we are inclined to think that it is possible (in the broadest sense) for an event to occur in the future if one of the same kind has occurred in the past. (shrink)
A pressing problem for many non-realist1 theories concerning various specific subject matters is the challenge of making sense of our ordinary propositional attitude claims related to the subject in question. Famously in the case of ethics, to take one example, we have in ordinary language prima facie ascriptions of beliefs and desires involving moral properties and relationships. In the case, for instance, of “Jason believes that Kylie is virtuous”, we appear to have a belief which takes Kylie to be a (...) certain way. If Jason desires that Kylie acts as she ought, he appears to have a desire which has as its content that Kylie perform actions of a certain sort (i.e. the actions that she ought to perform). However, for non-cognitivists in ethics who reject the idea that sentences such as “Kylie is virtuous” or “Kylie acts as she ought” are in the business of making truth-apt claims, or representing that certain moral features are possessed by objects or events, or even, in extreme cases, that such claims express propositions at all, the semantic analysis of the example propositional attitude claims made about Jason will have to be non-standard. (This is merely an application of the well-known “Frege-Geach problem” (see Geach 1965) to the case of embedding moral vocabulary in propositional-attitude ascriptions.). (shrink)
Television medical dramas frequently depict the practice of medicine and bioethical issues in a strikingly realistic but sometimes inaccurate fashion. Because these shows depict medicine so vividly and are so relevant to the career interests of medical and nursing students, they may affect these students' beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions regarding the practice of medicine and bioethical issues. We conducted a web-based survey of medical and nursing students to determine the medical drama viewing habits and impressions of bioethical issues depicted in (...) them. More than 80% of medical and nursing students watch television medical dramas. Students with more clinical experience tended to have impressions that were more negative than those of students without clinical experience. Furthermore, viewing of television medical dramas is a social event and many students discuss the bioethical issues they observe with friends and family. Television medical dramas may stimulate students to think about and discuss bioethical issues. (shrink)
In the Fifth Meditation, Descartes makes a remarkable claim about the ontological status of geometrical figures. He asserts that an object such as a triangle has a 'true and immutable nature' that does not depend on the mind, yet has being even if there are no triangles existing in the world. This statement has led many commentators to assume that Descartes is a Platonist regarding essences and in the philosophy of mathematics. One problem with this seemingly natural reading is that (...) it contradicts the conceptualist account of universals that one finds in the Principles of Philosophy and elsewhere. In this paper, I offer a novel interpretation of the notion of a true and immutable nature which reconciles the Fifth Meditation with the conceptualism of Descartes' other work. Specifically, I argue that Descartes takes natures to be innate ideas considered in terms of their so-called 'objective being'. (shrink)
Stalnaker's 1975 motivates an account of the truth conditions of indicative conditionals that seems in tension with the truth-conditions he offers. This paper discusses how best to resolve this tension.
In Jenkins’s groundbreaking analysis of flirtation (Jenkins 2006), she suggests that an act is an act of flirtation if, and only if, the following two conditions are satisfied: “First, the flirter should act with the intention to raise flirter/flirtee romance and/or sex to salience, in a knowing yet playful way. Second, he or she should believe that the flirtee can respond is in some significant way”. Jenkins also draws the useful distinction between flirtation proper and “flirtatious behaviour”: there is behaviour (...) that typically raises romance or sex to salience in a knowing but playful way, but it can occur without flirting. In Jenkins’s example, a woman touching her ear while chatting to a man in Italy, who has no knowledge that in Italy that can be a sexual come-on, may be behaving flirtatiously without flirting. On the other hand, there can be flirting that does not count as flirtatious behaviour. There can be one-off jokes or private codes that intentionally and playfully raise sex or romance to salience, but through behaviour that seems entirely innocuous (or perhaps just strange) to anyone besides the flirter and flirtee. (shrink)
Bob Hale in Hale 1995b posed a dilemma for modal fictionalism (more specifically, Rosen's version of modal fictionalism). A modal fictionalist who maintains the version outlined in Rosen 1990 believes that the fiction of possible worlds (PW, to use Rosen and Hale's abbreviation) is not literally true. The question arises, however, about its modal status. Is it necessarily false, or contingently false? In either case, Hale argues, the modal fictionalist is in trouble. Should the modal fictionalist claim that the story (...) of possible worlds is necessarily false, then the modal fictionalist cannot gloss their "according to the fiction of possible worlds ... ." prefix as "were the fiction of possible worlds true, then ... would be true". This is because, according to Hale, conditional claims with antecedents which are necessarily false are automatically true, so it follows that if the fiction of possible worlds is taken to be necessarily false, all conditionals of the form "were the fiction of possible worlds true then ..." are true, and not merely the ones that the modal fictionalist wishes to endorse. If the modal fiction is to be useful, not everything should be true according to it: examples of claims that had better not be true according to it include the claim that 2+2=7, or the claim that there are no possible worlds. On the other hand, if the fiction of possible worlds (PW) is only contingently false, Hale claims this also lands the Rosen's fictionalism in unacceptable trouble, though it is not so clear why (see below). Let me discuss these horns in turn. (shrink)
To what extent do true predications correspond to truthmakers in virtue of which those predications are true? One sort of predicate which is often thought to not be susceptible to an ontological treatment is a predicate for instantiation, or some corresponding predication (trope-similarity or set-membership, for example). This paper discusses this question, and argues that an "ontological" approach is possible here too: where this ontological approach goes beyond merely finding a truthmaker for claims about instantiation. Along the way a version (...) of the problem of the regress of instantiation is posed and solved. (shrink)
the virtues which are desirable for scientific theories to possess. In this paper I discuss the several species of theoretical virtues called 'fertility', and argue in each case that the desirability of 'fertility' can be explicated in terms of other, more fundamental theoretical virtues.
Many people are inclined to think that consequences of actions, or perhaps reasonably expected consequences of those actions, have moral weight. Firing off shotguns in crowded areas is typically wrong, at least in part, because of the people who get maimed and killed. Committed consequentialists think that consequences (either actual consequences, or expected consequences, or intended consequences, or reasonably expected consequences, or maybe some other different shade) are all that matters, morally speaking. Lying and stealing are wrong, when they are (...) wrong, only because of the consequences they have – these may include direct consequences, such as the loss of property by another, or another’s hurt at being deceived, but also indirect consequences, such as setting a bad example or cultivating a disposition to lie or steal too easily that risks manifesting when the direct harm would be more serious. Consequentialists do not have to agree on much else – they may not agree what the morally relevant consequences are (Bentham thought they were a matter of pleasure and avoidance of pain, others may define a conception of human welfare, or preference satisfaction, or something else), they may disagree over whether there is one sort of consequence or many sorts that are relevant, and they can disagree about how the consequences matter. A maximiser thinks that as much as possible of the relevant consequences is morally important, others may think that beyond some point, consequences are indifferent, others may think that the average distribution of consequences across agents is what matters, or largely what matters, and so on.1.. (shrink)
This paper builds on the system of David Lewis’s “Parts of Classes” to provide a foundation for mathematics that arguably requires not only no distinctively mathematical ideological commitments (in the sense of Quine), but also no distinctively mathematical ontological commitments. Provided only that there are enough individual atoms, the devices of plural quantification and mereology can be employed to simulate quantification over classes, while at the same time allowing all of the atoms (and most of their fusions with which we (...) are concerned) to be individuals (that is, urelements of classes). The final section of the paper canvasses some reasons to be committed to the required ontology for other than mathematical reasons. (shrink)
forthcoming in American Philosophical Quarterly. We argue that it would seem to be a mistake to blame Liar-like paradox on certain features of the object language, since the effect can be created with very minimal object languages that contain none of the usual suspects (truth-like predicates, reference to their own truth-bearers, negation, etc.).
The question of the function of modal judgement is an interesting philosophical issue, and John Divers's paper (this volume) has persuaded me that it has not received the attention it deserves. I think it is an important and interesting question even apart from any more ambitious claims that are made about its role in settling other issues about modality. Even if we became convinced that the story about function put no constraints whatsoever, epistemologically or metaphysically, on a theory of modality, (...) it would still remain an interesting question about one of the pervasive and perhaps fundamental things we do in our cognitive lives. (shrink)
The work which the Loeb Classical Library classifies as book 3 of the Oikonomika attributed to Aristotle is a curious piece. It has come down to us only via medieval translations into Latin. (I will be quoting the Loeb text and translation except where noted.) It is not certain that it is by Aristotle: and it is not certain whether it is even a part of the work attributed to Aristotle in ancient times. For want of a better name, let (...) me refer to its author, whoever that was, as “Aristotle”, and let me refer to this piece as book three of Ta Oikonomika – but with the caveats that it may not have been by the Stagirite, and its ancient source may not have even been one typically attributed to Aristole, although it was so attributed at some stage. (shrink)
John Paley has rightly observed that, while spirituality is widely discussed in the nursing literature, the discussions are uncritical and unproblematic. In an effort 'to reconfigure the spirituality-in-nursing debate, and to position it where it belongs: in the literature on health psychology and social psychology, and not in a disciplinary cul-de-sac labelled "unfathomable mystery" ', Paley has proposed an alternative, reductionist approach to spirituality. In this paper, I identify two critiques developed by Paley: one political, the other 'logical'. Paley's political (...) critique claims the concept of 'spirituality' has been appropriated by nursing theorists as part of an attempt to accrue professional power and jurisdiction over occupational territory. I suggest that Paley's analysis masks his own exclusivist, secularizing jurisdictional claim made at the expense of spirituality. Paley's so-called 'logical' critique is motivated by an intention to 'determine what the "spirituality" terrain looks like from the naturalistic point of view'. However, noting a number of inconsistencies, I challenge his 'logical move' as a naïve attack on a straw man. In place of Paley's reductionism, I propose my own alternative alternative and argue (after Foucault) that 'spirituality' is a discourse, a non-reductionist attempt, in a post-religious society, to speak about the human condition open to the unknown. I conclude with a definition and a description of empirically congruent spirituality. (shrink)