How should goods be distributed in our society? Some say equally, others say according to what people are responsible for. Both ideas seem plausible but neither tell the whole story. The author examines what draws us to these two ideas and looks at recent attempts by egalitarian thinkers to bring them together in a single distributive ideal.
An Essay on the Relation Between Thought and Language Christopher Gauker. things possible? How, having once perceived the herds by the lake, does the agent remember this for later use? My answer is that one way he may do it is ...
This paper argues that while Heidegger showed the importance of architecture in altering people's modes of being to avoid global ecological destruction, the work of Christopher Alexander offered a far more practical orientation to deal with this problem.
An introduction to the March, 2005 symposium “The Political Theory of Organizations: A Retrospective Examination of Christopher McMahon’s Authority and Democracy” held in San Francisco as part of the Society for Business Ethics Group Meeting at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.
This article examines the philosophical teaching of a colorful Oxford alumnus and Roman Catholic convert, Christopher Davenport, also known as Franciscus à Sancta Clara or Francis Coventry. At the peak of Puritan power during the English Interregnum and after five of his Franciscan confrères had perished for their missionary work, our author tried boldly to claim modern cosmology and atomism as the unrecognized fruits of medieval Scotism. His hope was to revive English pride in the golden age of medieval (...) Oxford and to defend English Franciscans as more legitimately patriotic and scientifically progressive than Puritan millenarians. (shrink)
This paper is about Christopher Wren’s engravings for Thomas Willis’ The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves of 1664. It is a study in the intersection of medicine and art in 17th century Britain. Willis, an eminent English physician and anatomist, was a major figure in the development of modern neurology, and The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves was his most famous and influential book. Wren was Willis’ assistant and medical artist. I discuss the visual strategies employed by (...) Wren to present their research and frame it as genuine knowledge. (shrink)
The untimely passing of Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Newell, AM, came as a shock to many in the bioethics world. As well as an obituary, this article notes a number of important themes in his work, and provides a select bibliography. Christopher's major contribution to this field is that he was one of a handful of scholars who made disability not only an acceptable area of bioethics—indeed a vital, central, fertile area of enquiry. Crucially Christopher emphasised that (...) where we do ethics is actually in everyday life—while we mourn his passing, his rich work and example will continue to inspire bioethical inquiry. (shrink)
‘Greek Ethics’, an undergraduate class taught by the British moral philosopher N. J. H. Dent, introduced this reviewer to the ethical philosophy of ancient Greece. The class had a modest purview—a sequence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—but it proved no less effective, in retrospect, than more synoptic classes for having taken this apparently limited and (for its students and academic level) appropriate focus. This excellent Companion will now serve any such class extremely well, allowing students a broader exposure than that (...) traditional sequence, without sacrificing the class’s circumscribed focus. The eighteen chapters encompass some of what went before, and surprisingly much of what came after, those three central philosophers—including, for instance, a discussion of Plotinus and his successors, as well as a discussion of Horace. The book will therefore be useful in many different types of class on ethical philosophy in the ancient world. This Companion will be useful not only to students, but also to at least three further groups: specialists in ancient Greek philosophy (since some contributors advance significant new positions, e.g. R. Kamtekar on Plato’s ethical psychology and D. Charles on Aristotle’s ‘ergon argument’ as already implicitly invoking ‘to kalon’); scholars working in academic subjects adjacent to ancient Greek philosophy; and contemporary moral philosophers. (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)
Professor Christopher Stead was Ely Professor of Divinity from 1971 until his retirement in 1980 and one of the great contributors to the Oxford Patristic Conferences for many years. In this paper I reflect on his work in Patristics, and I attempt to understand how his interests diverged from the other major contributors in the same period, and how they were formed by his philosophical milieu and the spirit of the age. As a case study to illustrate and diagnose (...) his approach, I shall focus on a debate between Stead and Rowan Williams about the significance of the word idios in Arius's theology (in the course of which I also make some suggestions of my own about the issue). (shrink)
This translation and commentary by Christopher Shields renders Aristotle into English more accurately and precisely than the previous Clarendon translation. Shields does a good job of making Aristotle’s reasoning clear while still being faithful to Aristotle’s terminology, although there are serious issues with the choices he makes in rendering Aristotle's language about intellectual activities. The introduction serves as a very fine entry into Aristotle’s views on the soul and the commentary is an excellent resource for both novices and established (...) scholars. (shrink)
This “open letter” to Christopher Boorse is a response to his influential naturalist analysis of disease from the perspective of linguistic-analytic value theory. The key linguistic-analytic point against Boorse is that, although defining disease value free, he continue to use the term with clear evaluative connotations. A descriptivist analysis of disease would allow value-free definition consistently with value-laden use: but descriptivism fails when applied to mental disorder because it depends on shared values whereas the values relevant to mental disorders (...) are highly diverse. A part-function analysis, similarly, although initially persuasive for physical disorders, fails with the psychotic mental disorders because these, characteristically, involve disturbances of the rationality of the person as a whole. The difficulties encountered in applying naturalism to mental disorders point, linguistic-analytically, to the possibility that there is, after all, an evaluative element of meaning, deeply hidden but still logically operative, in the concept of disease. (shrink)
In this review of Christopher Winch's new book, Education, Autonomy and Critical Thinking (2006), I discuss its main theses, supporting some and criticising others. In particular, I take issue with several of Winch's claims and arguments concerning critical thinking and rationality, and deplore his reliance on what I suggest are problematic strains of the later Wittgenstein. But these criticisms are not such as to upend Winch's powerful critique of antiperfectionism and 'strong autonomy' or his defence of 'weak autonomy'. His (...) account of autonomy as an educational aim is important and in several respects compelling. (shrink)
In his recent book, Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus, Christopher Brown has argued that the metaphysics of St. Thomas is preferable to contemporary analyticviews because it can solve the “problem of material constitution” (PMC) without requiring us to relinquish any of the common-sense beliefs that generate that problem. In this critical study, I show that in the case of both substances and aggregates, Brown’s Aquinas endorses views that are extremely implausible. Consequently, even if it is granted that the (...) solutions to the PMC fall right out of his views, it is still not clear that this gives us reason to prefer his ontology to its competitors. I also consider Brown’s take on the status of the human being after death. (shrink)
Paul Grice warned that ‘the nature of conventional implicature needs to be examined before any free use of it, for explanatory purposes, can be indulged in’ (1978/1989: 46). Christopher Potts heeds this warning, brilliantly and boldly. Starting with a definition drawn from Grice’s few brief remarks on the subject, he distinguishes conventional implicature from other phenomena with which it might be confused, identifies a variety of common but little-studied kinds of expressions that give rise to it, and develops a (...) formal, multidimensional semantic framework for systematically capturing its distinctive character. The book is a virtuosic blend of astute descriptive observations and technically sophisticated formulations. Fortunately for the technically unsophisticated reader, the descriptive observations can be appreciated on their own. (shrink)
Christopher Bennett has argued that state support of conjugal relationships can be founded on the unique contribution such relationships make to the autonomy of their participants by providing them with various forms of recognition and support unavailable elsewhere. I argue that, in part because a long history of interaction between two people who need each other’s validation tends to produce less meaningful responses over time, long-term conjugal relationships are unlikely to provide autonomy-enhancing support to their participants. To the extent (...) that intimate relationships can provide a unique form of reciprocal support, Bennett fails to show that couples have an advantage over multiple-partner arrangements in doing so. (shrink)
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)
I have argued that substance ontology cannot be used to determine the moral status of embryos. Patrick Lee, Christopher Tollefsen, and Robert George wrote a Reply to those arguments in this Journal. In that Reply, Lee, Tollefsen, and George defended and clarified their position that their substance ontology arguments prove that the zygote and the adult into which it develops are the same entity that share the same essence. Here, I show the following: Even using the substance ontology framework (...) to which Lee, Tollefsen, and George subscribe, we cannot know when in development substance changes cease. Substance ontology cannot therefore be used to assign moral status to embryos. The Lee, Tollefsen, and George substance ontology framework should not be applied to the study of development or to biological discourse in general, because this framework depends on premises that do not apply. (shrink)
Christopher Johnson has put forward in this journal the view that ad hominem reasoning may be more generally reasonable than is allowed by writers such as myself, basing his view on virtue epistemology. I review his account, as well as the standard account, of ad hominem reasoning, and show how the standard account would handle the cases he sketches in defense of his own view. I then give four criticisms of his view generally: the problems of virtue conflict, vagueness, (...) conflation of speech acts, and self-defeating counsel. I then discuss four reasons why the standard account is superior: it better fits legal reality, the account of other fallacies, psychological science, and political reality. (shrink)
A relatively detailed review (~ 4000 words) of Christopher Mole's (2010) book "Attention is Cognitive Unison". I suggest that Mole makes a good case against many types of reductivist accounts of attention, using the right kind of methodology. Yet, I argue that his adverbialist theory is not the best articulation of the crucial anti-reductivist insight. The distinction between adverbial and process-first phenomena he draws remains unclear, anti-reductivist process theories can escapte his arguments, and finally I provide an argument for (...) why no personal level adverbialism can provide a complete and unified theory of attention. Despite my disagreements, I have learned a lot from engaging with Mole's book. It's a central contribution to the new philosophical literature on attention. (shrink)
I thank Christopher Framarin for his response and would like to address three points he raises in this brief rejoinder.Framarin's book is a self-standing analysis of the central argument of the Gītā, and the reader should take my comments about his papers as additional material in support of the book. In drawing attention to them, my aim was to stress Framarin's long engagement with the subject.Although Framarin's book deals quite extensively with other texts from the Indian tradition, the Gītā (...) is central to the analysis. In fact, Framarin explicitly turns to the other texts "[a]s a means to answering the second question," namely whether the claim that action entails desire is widely held in the Indian tradition. .. (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)
In his contribution, “Critical Investments: AIDS, Christopher Reeve, and Queer/Disability Studies,” Robert McRuer calls for the recognition of the points of convergence between AIDS theory, queer theory, and disability theory. McRuer points out ways in which minority identity groups such as people with AIDS, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, and those with so-called disabilities, whose status has been described by others as “impaired,” have resisted this judgment by calling its ideological underpinnings into question. He contends that a critical alliance between (...) AIDS theory, queer theory, and disability theory will ultimately help us to realize the full range of different kinds of bodies and corporeal experiences, while also combating the application of normativizing judgments. (shrink)
The shift from a traditional indigenous female agriculture to a new male agriculture in Iroquois culture was facilitated by the teachings of the early 19th century Seneca prophet and chief, Handsome Lake. This shift resulted in the disempowerment of women and occurred during a period of crises for the Iroquois; it was heavily influenced by exogenous pressures that, mediated by Handsome Lake's Code, led not only to a change of sex roles in agriculture but also to a shift (...) in family structure toward the patriarchal family and to a change of ideology toward a patriarchal monotheism. Previously, Iroquois life and ideology had stressed a complementarity or balance of powers between the sexes. Handsome Lake's Code also retained certain aspects of the older Iroquois lifestyle and ideology. The crises undergone by the Iroquois might have been met differently, without the disempowerment of women, had it not been for exogenous influences. (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)
Christopher Meckstroth’s book The Struggle for Democracy poses and attempts to solve a central problem of democratic theory: what he calls the ‘paradox of authorization’, whereby the very activity of spelling out the political content of democracy is said to potentially contradict its object, since the democratic theorist may end up substituting himself or herself for ‘the people’ in deciding what this form government amounts to in practice. In order to avoid this problem, Meckstroth suggests that the political content (...) of democracy ought to be extrapolated out of concrete political struggles, by submitting competing claims to represent the people’s will to a rational scrutiny that tests them for internal coherence. While pointing out the intrinsic interest and originality of this approach, the review also advances some reservations concerning the posited criterion’s capacity to perform all the work Meckstroth assigns it. In the end, the proposed solution to the ‘paradox of authorization’ may fall prey to... (shrink)
Ours is a discipline in which agreement is often a form of discourtesy, and so I must thank Christopher Janaway and Robert Pippin for doing me the courtesy of disagreeing with several issues in my book, most of which I will not be able to discuss here. Both are kind and generous friends, which is why they both begin by saying some very nice things about Nietzsche: Life as Literature.1 Or are they? Yes, they are, but that is not (...) to say they do so simply because they are kind and generous. Mindful of Pippin’s understanding of Hegel on the importance of a social and cultural context for meaningful human action, I would say that their attitude is channeled through the almost ironclad social practice—or convention—that .. (shrink)
In this book, Christopher Peacocke proposes a general theory about what it is for a thinker to be entitled to form a given belief. This theory is distinctively rationalist: that is, it gives a large role to the a priori, while insisting that the propositions or contents that can be known a priori are not in any way “true in virtue of meaning” (and without in any other way denigrating these propositions as “trivial”, or as propositions that “tell us (...) nothing about the world”, or the like). Peacocke then applies this theory to several classical problems in epistemology — to the problem of how our sensory experiences can entitle us to form beliefs about the external world, to the problem of induction, and to the problem of what entitles us to form moral beliefs. (shrink)
This article is a response to some of Philip Stratton-Lake’s criticisms of an earlier paper of mine in this journal, on the so-called ‘buck-passing’ account of goodness. Some elucidation is offered of the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem and of T. M. Scanlon’s view, and the question is raised of the role of goodness in the view outlined by Stratton-Lake.
The question of the relation of my work to that of Martin Luther King Jr. cannot be resolved with the theoretical tools Christopher Beem brings to the task. Stanley Fish has written that "those who detach King's words from the history that produced them erase the fact of that history from the slate, and they do so, paradoxically, in order to prevent that history from being truly and deeply altered." The vice of liberalism is not selfishness so much as (...) a forgetfulness that spreads like a blight from the habit of abstraction. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered his people, his savior, and his church, and he called the rest of us to share those memories. Therein lay his strength. (shrink)