Christopher Peacocke’s A Study of Concepts is a dense and rewarding work. Each chapter raises many issues for discussion. I know three different people who are writing reviews of the volume. It testifies to the depth of Peacocke’s book that each reviewer is focusing on a quite different set of topics.
Ad hominem arguments are generally dismissed on the grounds that they are not attempts to engage in rational discourse, but are rather aimed at undermining argument by diverting attention from claims made to assessments of character of persons making claims. The manner of this dismissal however is based upon an unlikely paradigm of rationality: it is based upon the presumption that our intellectual capacities are not as limited as in fact they are, and do not vary as much as they (...) do between rational people. When we understand rationality in terms of intellectual virtues, however, which recognize these limitations and provide for the complexity of our thinking, ad hominem considerations can sometimes be relevant to assessing arguments. (shrink)
One of the most noteworthy features of David Gauthier's rational choice, contractarian theory of morality is its appeal to self-interested rationality. This appeal, however, will undoubtedly be the source of much controversy and criticism. For while self-interestedness is characteristic of much human behavior, it is not characteristic of all such behavior, much less of that which is most admirable. Yet contractarian ethics appears to assume that humans are entirely self-interested. It is not usually thought a virtue of a theory that (...) its assumptions are literally false. What may be said on behalf of the contractarian? (shrink)
With the goal of understanding how Christopher Southgate communicates his in-depth knowledge of both science and theology, we investigated the many roles he assumes as a teacher. We settled upon wide-ranging topics that all intertwine: (1) his roles as author and coordinating editor of a premier textbook on science and theology, now in its third edition; (2) his oral presentations worldwide, including plenaries, workshops, and short courses; and (3) the team teaching approach itself, which is often needed by others because (...) the knowledge of science and theology do not always reside in the same person. Southgate provides, whenever possible, teaching contexts that involve students in experiential learning, where they actively participate with other students.We conclude that Southgate’s ultimate goal is to teach students how to reconcile science and theology in their values and beliefs, so that they can take advantage of both forms of rational thinking in their own personal and professional lives. The co-authors consider several examples of models that have been successfully used by people in various fields to integrate science and religion. (shrink)
The Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism of Philippa Foot and Rosalind Hursthouse purports to establish a naturalistic criterion for the virtues. Specifically, by developing a parallel between the natural ends of nonhuman animals and the natural ends of human beings, they argue that character traits are justified as virtues by the extent to which they promote and do not inhibit natural ends such as self-preservation, reproduction, and the well-being of one’s social group. I argue that the approach of Foot and Hursthouse cannot (...) provide a basis for moral universalism, the widely-accepted idea that each human being has moral worth and thus deserves significant moral consideration. Foot and Hursthouse both depict a virtuous agent as implicitly acting in accord with moral universalism. However, with respect to charity, a virtue they both emphasize, their naturalistic criterion at best provides a warrant for a restricted form of charity that extends only to a limited number of persons. There is nothing in the natural ends of human beings, as Foot and Hursthouse understand these, that gives us a reason for having any concern for the well-being of human beings as such. (shrink)
In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in various spheres (...) of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
The sovereignty of the people, it is widely said, is the foundation of modern democracy. The truth of this claim depends on the plausibility of attributing sovereignty to “the people” in the first place, and I shall express skepticism about this possibility. I shall suggest as well that the notion of popular sovereignty is complex, and that appeals to the notion may be best understood as expressing several different ideas and ideals. This essay distinguishes many of these and suggests that (...) greater clarity at least would be obtained by focusing directly on these notions and ideals and eschewing that of sovereignty. My claim, however, will not merely be that the notion is multifaceted and complex. I shall argue as well that the doctrine that the people are, or ought to be, sovereign is misleading in potentially dangerous ways, and is conducive to a misunderstanding of the nature of politics, governance, and social order. It would be well to do without the doctrine, but it may be equally important to understand its errors. Our understandings and justifications of democracy, certainly, should dispense with popular sovereignty. (shrink)
I begin, as I shall end, with fictions. In a well-known tale, The Sandman , Hoffmann has a student, Nathaniel, fall in love with a beautiful doll, Olympia, whom he has spied upon as she sits at a window across the street from his lodgings. We are meant to suppose that Nathaniel mistakes an automaton for a human being . The mistake is the result of an elaborate but obscure deception on the part of the doll's designer, Professor Spalanzani. Nathaniel (...) is disabused quite by accident when he over-hears a quarrel between Spalanzani, who made Olympia's clockwork, and the sinister Coppelius, who contributed the eyes. (shrink)
Medical analogies are commonly invoked in both Indian Buddhist dharma and Hellenistic philosophy. In the Pāli Canon, nirvana is depicted as a form of health, and the Buddha is portrayed as a doctor who helps us attain it. Much later in the tradition, Śāntideva described the Buddha’s teaching as ‘the sole medicine for the ailments of the world, the mine of all success and happiness.’ Cicero expressed the view of many Hellenistic philosophers when he said that philosophy is ‘a medical (...) science for the mind.’ He thought we should ‘hand ourselves over to philosophy, and let ourselves be healed.’ ‘For as long as these ills [of the mind] remain,’ he wrote, ‘we cannot attain to happiness.’ There are many different forms of medical analogy in these two traditions, but the most general form may be stated as follows: just as medicine cures bodily diseases and brings about physical health, so Buddhist dharma or Hellenistic philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health—where psychological health is understood as the highest form of happiness or well-being. Insofar as Buddhist dharma involves philosophy, as it does, both renditions of the analogy may be said to declare that philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health. This feature of the analogy—philosophy as analogous to medical treatment—has attracted considerable attention. (shrink)
Philosophers from Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein to the recent realists and antirealists have sought to answer the question, What are concepts? This book provides a detailed, systematic, and accessible introduction to an original philosophical theory of concepts that Christopher Peacocke has developed in recent years to explain facts about the nature of thought, including its systematic character, its relations to truth and reference, and its normative dimension. Particular concepts are also treated within the general framework: perceptual concepts, logical concepts, and (...) the concept of belief are discussed in detail. The general theory is further applied in answering the question of how the ontology of concepts can be of use in classifying mental states, and in discussing the proper relation between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts. Finally, the theory of concepts is used to motivate a nonverificationist theory of the limits of intelligible thought. Peacocke treats content as broad rather than narrow, and his account is nonreductive and non-Quinean. Yet Peacocke also argues for an interactive relationship between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, and he plots many connections with work in cognitive psychology. (shrink)
Plongé au cœur des nanos, Christophe Vieu souligne la diversité des secteurs touchés par l’approche nano. À l’idée d’une convergence des secteurs scientifiques, il oppose l’image d’une espèce invasive. Il se sent de ce fait investi d’une responsabilité de l’ensemble des technosciences.
Christopher G. Timpson provides the first full-length philosophical treatment of quantum information theory and the questions it raises for our understanding of the quantum world. He argues for an ontologically deflationary account of the nature of quantum information, which is grounded in a revisionary analysis of the concepts of information.
I shall start by considering the apparently paradoxical doctrines that Wittgenstein put forward about knowledge: they show how the concept of knowledge is, as he says, ‘specialized’. This is not, as I shall show, a very important issue in itself, but it leads on to other points, of more interest: how it comes about, for example, that ‘not all corrections of our beliefs are on the same level’. I shall then discuss the idea that we inherit a certain picture of (...) the world that forms the background of our experiments and researches. This idea, which is not of course unique to Wittgenstein, is, however, developed with many fresh insights. I end with some discussion of Wittgenstein's reported views on religious belief, which should not, in my opinion, be regarded as part of his contribution to philosophy, the interest of them being, perhaps, more biographical than philosophical. (shrink)
We live in a morally flawed world. Our lives are complicated by what other people do, and by the harms that flow from our social, economic and political institutions. Our relations as individuals to these collective harms constitute the domain of complicity. This book examines the relationship between collective responsibility and individual guilt. It presents a rigorous philosophical account of the nature of our relations to the social groups in which we participate, and uses that account in a discussion of (...) contemporary moral theory. Christopher Kutz shows that the two prevailing theories of moral philosophy, Kantianism and consequentialism, both have difficulties resolving problems of complicity. He then argues for a richer theory of accountability in which any real understanding of collective action not only allows but demands individual responsibility. (shrink)
Christopher Peacocke presents a new theory of subjects of consciousness, together with a theory of the nature of first person representation. He identifies three sorts of self-consciousness--perspectival, reflective, and interpersonal--and argues that they are key to explaining features of our knowledge, social relations, and emotional lives.
This book revives the study of conventional implicatures in natural language semantics. H. Paul Grice first defined the concept. Since then his definition has seen much use and many redefinitions, but it has never enjoyed a stable place in linguistic theory. Christopher Potts returns to the original and uses it as a key into two presently under-studied areas of natural language: supplements and expressives. The account of both depends on a theory in which sentence meanings can be multidimensional. The theory (...) is logically and intuitively compositional, and it minimally extends a familiar kind of intensional logic, thereby providing an adaptable, highly useful tool for semantic analysis. The result is a linguistic theory that is accessible not only to linguists of all stripes, but also philosophers of language, logicians, and computer scientists who have linguistic applications in mind. (shrink)
Mathematics plays a central role in much of contemporary science, but philosophers have struggled to understand what this role is or how significant it might be for mathematics and science. In this book Christopher Pincock tackles this perennial question in a new way by asking how mathematics contributes to the success of our best scientific representations. In the first part of the book this question is posed and sharpened using a proposal for how we can determine the content of a (...) scientific representation. Several different sorts of contributions from mathematics are then articulated. Pincock argues that each contribution can be understood as broadly epistemic, so that what mathematics ultimately contributes to science is best connected with our scientific knowledge. In the second part of the book, Pincock critically evaluates alternative approaches to the role of mathematics in science. These include the potential benefits for scientific discovery and scientific explanation. A major focus of this part of the book is the indispensability argument for mathematical platonism. Using the results of part one, Pincock argues that this argument can at best support a weak form of realism about the truth-value of the statements of mathematics. The book concludes with a chapter on pure mathematics and the remaining options for making sense of its interpretation and epistemology. Thoroughly grounded in case studies drawn from scientific practice, this book aims to bring together current debates in both the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of science and to demonstrate the philosophical importance of applications of mathematics. (shrink)
Being Known is a response to a philosophical challenge which arises for every area of thought: to reconcile a plausible account of what is involved in the truth of statements in a given area with a credible account of how we can know those statements. Christopher Peacocke presents a framework for addressing the challenge, a framework which links both the theory of knowledge and the theory of truth with the theory of concept-possession.
1915 ist Ernst Troeltsch nach Berlin gezogen, wo er Professor für Philosophie wurde. Sein Wechsel aus der Heidelberger Theologischen Fakultät in die Philosophische Fakultät der Berliner Universität und sein zunehmendes Interesse am Historismus hat ihn nicht daran gehindert, theologische Studien fortzuführen. Ein Ergebnis dieser Studien war eine noch in Heidelberg geschriebene detaillierte Untersuchung über Augustins Theologie und im besonderen über De Civitate Dei. Troeltsch hat diese Studie unternommen, um zum einen eine Lücke in seinen Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen (...) zu füllen und zum anderen wegen seinem zunehmenden Interesse an Augustins Philosophie. Das Ergebnis dieser Untersuchung ist Troeltschs Buch Augustin, die christliche Antike und das Mittelalter. Dieses Buch ist aus vielen Gründen ein bemerkenswertes Werk, unter anderem, weil es eine objektive und eine prägnante Untersuchung über Ethik und Naturgesetz darstellt. Troeltschs Buch über Augustin ist sehr wichtig zu untersuchen, aber genauso wichtig ist der Prozess, der ihn dazu geführt, es zu schreiben. Dabei handelt es sich um mehrere Rezensionen, die Troeltsch über Bücher zu Augustins Theologie, Ethik und politischer Philosophie geschrieben hat. Indem wir Troeltschs Rezensionen und sein Buch Augustin studieren, lernen wir nicht nur, was in seiner Sicht besonders wertvoll sei in den Schriften des großen Kirchenvaters, sondern wir lernen auch Troeltschs eigenes Denken zu Ethik, Geschichte und sogar Politik besser kennen.By 1915 Ernst Troeltsch had moved to Berlin where he became professor of philosophy. His move from the Faculty of Theology to philosophy and his increasing concern with historicism did not hinder him from continuing with his theological studies. One of the results of these studies was his detailed investigation of Augustine’s theology and he focused specifically on de Civitate Dei. Troeltsch undertook this study partially to rectify an omission in his Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen and partially because of his increasing interest in Augustine’s philosophy. The result of this study was Troeltsch’s book Augustin, die christliche Antike und das Mittelalter. This is a remarkable work for many reasons, including that it was an objective and appreciative investigations on ethics and natural law – and it was written by a prominent Protestant theologian. However, this book has been mostly neglected which is unfortunate. Troeltsch’s book on Augustine is well-worth exploring but so is the process which led him to write it. That entails consulting the numerous reviews that Troeltsch wrote about a number of books devoted to certain aspects of Augustine’s theology, ethics, and political philosophy. By studying Troeltsch’s book reviews and his Augustin, we not only learn what Troeltsch regarded as so valuable in the writings of this particular Church Father, but we also learn about Troeltsch’s own thinking about ethics, history, and even politics. (shrink)
This essay examines Albert Camus's considerable debt to Antonin Artaud. Camus was not only a dramatist, but he also employed dramaturgical techniques in his more famous fiction and essays. In this regard, Artaud's ideas on social reconstitution through aesthetic terror were crucial to the development of many of Camus's most famous works, written both in Algeria and in France before and after World War II. This article considers the ways in which aesthetic–political techniques adapted from Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty were (...) employed to challenge fascism in Algeria and France, by simultaneously summoning Algerian settler myths of exile, destitution and regeneration. Camus's considerable sophistication in the use of these techniques, and the colonial context in which they were initially applied, have often been missed by scholars and critics who have sought to unproblematically situate his works within debates about the Cold War and more recently the “War against Terror”. (shrink)
In this book, Christopher Evan Franklin develops and defends a novel version of event-causal libertarianism. This view is a combination of libertarianism--the view that humans sometimes act freely and that those actions are the causal upshots of nondeterministic processes--and agency reductionism--the view that the causal role of the agent in exercises of free will is exhausted by the causal role of mental states and events (e.g., desires and beliefs) involving the agent. Franklin boldly counteracts a dominant theory that has similar (...) aims, put forth by well-known philosopher Robert Kane. -/- Many philosophers contend that event-causal libertarians have no advantage over compatibilists when it comes to securing a distinctively valuable kind of freedom and responsibility. To Franklin, this position is mistaken. Assuming agency reductionism is true, event-causal libertarians need only adopt the most plausible compatibilist theory and add indeterminism at the proper juncture in the genesis of human action. The result is minimal event-causal libertarianism: a model of free will with the metaphysical simplicity of compatibilism and the intuitive power of libertarianism. And yet a worry remains: toward the end of the book, Franklin reconsiders his assumption of agency reductionism, arguing that this picture faces a hitherto unsolved problem. This problem, however, has nothing to do with indeterminism or determinism, or even libertarianism or compatibilism, but with how to understand the nature of the self and its role in the genesis of action. Crucially, if this problem proves unsolvable, then not only is event-causal libertarianism untenable, so also is event-causal compatibilism. (shrink)
This chapter serves as an introduction to the edited collection of the same name, which includes chapters that explore digital well-being from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including philosophy, psychology, economics, health care, and education. The purpose of this introductory chapter is to provide a short primer on the different disciplinary approaches to the study of well-being. To supplement this primer, we also invited key experts from several disciplines—philosophy, psychology, public policy, and health care—to share their thoughts on what they (...) believe are the most important open questions and ethical issues for the multi-disciplinary study of digital well-being. We also introduce and discuss several themes that we believe will be fundamental to the ongoing study of digital well-being: digital gratitude, automated interventions, and sustainable co-well-being. (shrink)
At least since Locke, philosophers and psychologists have usually held that concepts arise out of sensory perceptions, thoughts are built from concepts, and language enables speakers to convey their thoughts to hearers. Christopher Gauker holds that this tradition is mistaken about both concepts and language. The mind cannot abstract the building blocks of thoughts from perceptual representations. More generally, we have no account of the origin of concepts that grants them the requisite independence from language. Gauker's alternative is to show (...) that much of cognition consists in thinking by means of mental imagery, without the help of concepts, and that language is a tool by which interlocutors coordinate their actions in pursuit of shared goals. Imagistic cognition supports the acquisition and use of this tool, and when the use of this tool is internalized, it becomes the very medium of conceptual thought. (shrink)
Do states have the right to prevent potential immigrants from crossing their borders, or should people have the freedom to migrate and settle wherever they wish? Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole develop and defend opposing answers to this timely and important question.
This article presents the first thematic review of the literature on the ethical issues concerning digital well-being. The term ‘digital well-being’ is used to refer to the impact of digital technologies on what it means to live a life that is good for a human being. The review explores the existing literature on the ethics of digital well-being, with the goal of mapping the current debate and identifying open questions for future research. The review identifies major issues related to several (...) key social domains: healthcare, education, governance and social development, and media and entertainment. It also highlights three broader themes: positive computing, personalised human–computer interaction, and autonomy and self-determination. The review argues that three themes will be central to ongoing discussions and research by showing how they can be used to identify open questions related to the ethics of digital well-being. (shrink)
In this excellent introduction, Christopher Shields introduces and assesses the whole of Aristotle’s philosophy, showing how his powerful conception of human nature shaped much of his thinking on the nature of the soul and the mind, ethics, politics and the arts. Beginning with a brief biography, Christopher Shields carefully explains the fundamental elements of Aristotle’s thought: his explanatory framework, his philosophical methodology and his four-causal explanatory scheme. Subsequently he discusses Aristotle’s metaphysics and the theory of categories and logical theory and (...) his conception of the human being and soul and body. In the last part, he concentrates on Aristotle’s value theory as applied to ethics and politics, and assesses his approach to happiness, virtues and the best life for human beings. He concludes with an appraisal of Aristotelianism today. (shrink)
With his insightful and wide-ranging theory of recognition, Axel Honneth has decisively reshaped the Frankfurt School tradition of critical social theory. Combining insights from philosophy, sociology, psychology, history, political economy, and cultural critique, Honneth’s work proposes nothing less than an account of the moral infrastructure of human sociality and its relation to the perils and promise of contemporary social life. This book provides an accessible overview of Honneth’s main contributions across a variety of fields, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of (...) his thought. Christopher Zurn clearly explains Honneth’s multi-faceted theory of recognition and its relation to diverse topics: individual identity, morality, activist movements, progress, social pathologies, capitalism, justice, freedom, and critique. In so doing, he places Honneth’s theory in a broad intellectual context, encompassing classic social theorists such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Dewey, Adorno and Habermas, as well as contemporary trends in social theory and political philosophy. Treating the full range of Honneth’s corpus, including his major new work on social freedom and democratic ethical life, this book is the most up-to-date guide available. _Axel Honneth_ will be invaluable to students and scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, as well as anyone seeking a clear guide to the work of one of the most influential theorists writing today. (shrink)