Although most scholars now seem to agree that Herodotus was to some extent a didactic historian writing for the instruction of his readers, the systematic nature of his didacticism has perhaps not been fully appreciated. The Histories' concluding episodes reveal at least two didactic programs or strategies: first, the reader is to be trained in the application of Herodotean thinking to events subsequent to the period covered by the narrative; second, the reader is to be warned of the moral and (...) intellectual dangers posed by the “wonders” that have played so conspicuous a role in Herodotus' work. The existence of these programs helps to explain several features of the last chapters of the Histories, including the prominent position given to the peculiar story of Xerxes and Masistes. (shrink)
The conflict between Jupiter and Juno in the Aeneid is commonly read as a battle between the forces of order and chaos. The present article argues that this schematization, though morally and aesthetically satisfying, fails to account for most of the data. Virgil's Jupiter is in fact concerned solely with power and adulation, despite persistent attempts by readers——and characters in the poem——to see him as benign. By systematically discussing every appearance of Jupiter in the poem, the article seeks to correct (...) the distorted or incomplete views of the god that arise from selective examination. The first section looks at Jupiter's own speeches to illustrate his motivations. The second section demonstrates how these motivations, though frequently misconstrued by the human characters, are confirmed by the glimpses of Jupiter focalized through the omniscient narrator. The third discusses the implications of this portrait of Jupiter for Virgil's vision of Rome and of human happiness. (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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
Fallacies and Argument Appraisal presents an introduction to the nature, identification, and causes of fallacious reasoning, along with key questions for evaluation. Drawing from the latest work on fallacies as well as some of the standard ideas that have remained relevant since Aristotle, Christopher Tindale investigates central cases of major fallacies in order to understand what has gone wrong and how this has occurred. Dispensing with the approach that simply assigns labels and brief descriptions of fallacies, Tindale provides fuller (...) treatments that recognize the dialectical and rhetorical contexts in which fallacies arise. This volume analyzes major fallacies through accessible, everyday examples. Critical questions are developed for each fallacy to help the student identify them and provide considered evaluations. (shrink)
Judea Pearl has been at the forefront of research in the burgeoning field of causal modeling, and Causality is the culmination of his work over the last dozen or so years. For philosophers of science with a serious interest in causal modeling, Causality is simply mandatory reading. Chapter 2, in particular, addresses many of the issues familiar from works such as Causation, Prediction and Search by Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour, and Richard Scheines. But philosophers with a more general interest in (...) causation will also profit from reading Pearl’s book, especially the material in chapters 7, 9, and 10, which is self-contained and less technical than other parts of the book. The present review is aimed primarily at readers of the second type. (shrink)
Can we understand what makes someone the same person without understanding what it is to be a person? Prereflectively we might not think so, but philosophers often accord these questions separate treatments, with personal-identity theorists claiming the first question and free-will theorists the second. Yet much of what is of interest to a person—the possibility of survival over time, compensation for past hardships, concern for future projects, or moral responsibility—is not obviously intelligible from the perspective of either question alone. Marya (...) Schechtman encourages us to adopt a more unified perspective. (shrink)
Quantum Information Theory and the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics is a conceptual analysis of one of the most prominent and exciting new areas of physics, providing the first full-length philosophical treatment of quantum information theory and the questions it raises for our understanding of the quantum world. -/- Beginning from a careful, revisionary, analysis of the concepts of information in the everyday and classical information-theory settings, Christopher G. Timpson argues for an ontologically deflationary account of the nature of quantum (...) information. Against what many have supposed, quantum information can be clearly defined (it is not a primitive or vague notion) but it is not part of the material contents of the world. Timpson's account sheds light on the nature of nonlocality and information flow in the presence of entanglement and, in particular, dissolves puzzles surrounding the remarkable process of quantum teleportation. In addition it permits a clear view of what the ontological and methodological lessons provided by quantum information theory are; lessons which bear on the gripping question of what role a concept like information has to play in fundamental physics. Topics discussed include the slogan 'Information is Physical', the prospects for an informational immaterialism (the view that information rather than matter might fundamentally constitute the world), and the status of the Church-Turing hypothesis in light of quantum computation. -/- With a clear grasp of the concept of information in hand, Timpson turns his attention to the pressing question of whether advances in quantum information theory pave the way for the resolution of the traditional conceptual problems of quantum mechanics: the deep problems which loom over measurement, nonlocality and the general nature of quantum ontology. He marks out a number of common pitfalls to be avoided before analysing in detail some concrete proposals, including the radical quantum Bayesian programme of Caves, Fuchs, and Schack. One central moral which is drawn is that, for all the interest that the quantum information-inspired approaches hold, no cheap resolutions to the traditional problems of quantum mechanics are to be had. (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)
Christopher Woodard presents a new and rich version of utilitarianism, the idea that ethics is ultimately about what makes people's lives go better. He launches a state-of-the-art defence of the theory, often seen as excessively simple, and shows that it can account for much of the complexity and nuance of everyday ethical thought.
First published in 2005, A Theory of Secession: The Case for Political Self-Determination offers an unapologetic defense of the right to secede. Christopher Heath Wellman argues that any group has a moral right to secede as long as its political divorce will leave it and the remainder state in a position to perform the requisite political functions. He explains that there is nothing contradictory about valuing legitimate states, while permitting their division. Once political states are recognized as valuable because (...) of the functions that they are uniquely suited to perform, it becomes apparent that the territorial boundaries of existing states might permissably be redrawn as long as neither the process, nor the result of this reconfiguration, interrupts the production of the crucial political benefits. Thus, if one values self-determination, then one has good reason to conclude that people have a right to determine their political boundaries. (shrink)
In a recent Bioethics editorial, Udo Schuklenk argues against allowing Canadian doctors to conscientiously object to any new euthanasia procedures approved by Parliament. In this he follows Julian Savulescu's 2006 BMJ paper which argued for the removal of the conscientious objection clause in the 1967 UK Abortion Act. Both authors advance powerful arguments based on the need for uniformity of service and on analogies with reprehensible kinds of personal exemption. In this article I want to defend the practice of conscientious (...) objection in publicly-funded healthcare systems, at least in the area of abortion and end-of-life care, without entering either of the substantive moral debates about the permissibility of either. My main claim is that Schuklenk and Savulescu have misunderstood the special nature of medicine, and have misunderstood the motivations of the conscientious objectors. However, I acknowledge Schuklenk's point about differential access to lawful services in remote rural areas, and I argue that the health service should expend more to protect conscientious objection while ensuring universal access. (shrink)
Originally published in 1972, Should Trees Have Standing? was a rallying point for the then burgeoning environmental movement, launching a worldwide debate on the basic nature of legal rights that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, in the 35th anniversary edition of this remarkably influential book, Christopher D. Stone updates his original thesis and explores the impact his ideas have had on the courts, the academy, and society as a whole. At the heart of the book is an eminently (...) sensible, legally sound, and compelling argument that the environment should be granted legal rights. For the new edition, Stone explores a variety of recent cases and current events--and related topics such as climate change and protecting the oceans--providing a thoughtful survey of the past and an insightful glimpse at the future of the environmental movement. This enduring work continues to serve as the definitive statement as to why trees, oceans, animals, and the environment as a whole should be bestowed with legal rights, so that the voiceless elements in nature are protected for future generations. (shrink)
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)
The central question in political philosophy is whether political states have the right to coerce their constituents and whether citizens have a moral duty to obey the commands of their state. In this 2005 book, Christopher Heath Wellman and A. John Simmons defend opposing answers to this question. Wellman bases his argument on samaritan obligations to perform easy rescues, arguing that each of us has a moral duty to obey the law as his or her fair share of the (...) communal samaritan chore of rescuing our compatriots from the perils of the state of nature. Simmons counters that this, and all other attempts to explain our duty to obey the law, fail. He defends a position of philosophical anarchism, the view that no existing state is legitimate and that there is no strong moral presumption in favor of obedience to, or compliance with, any existing state. (shrink)
Christopher Winch launches a vigorous Wittgensteinian attack on both the "romantic" Rousseauian and the "scientific" cognitivist traditions in learning theory. These two schools, he argues, are more closely related than is commonly realized.
I argue that the best interpretation of the general theory of relativity has need of a causal entity, and causal structure that is not reducible to light cone structure. I suggest that this causal interpretation of GTR helps defeat a key premise in one of the most popular arguments for causal reductionism, viz., the argument from physics.
This paper argues that we should replace the common classification of theories of welfare into the categories of hedonism, desire theories, and objective list theories. The tripartite classification is objectionable because it is unduly narrow and it is confusing: it excludes theories of welfare that are worthy of discussion, and it obscures important distinctions. In its place, the paper proposes two independent classifications corresponding to a distinction emphasised by Roger Crisp: a four-category classification of enumerative theories (about which items constitute (...) welfare), and a four-category classification of explanatory theories (about why these items constitute welfare). (shrink)