When we reflect on music and theology, we find that questions about God and religious practice are also questions about deep human emotions: awe, wonder, fear, grief, sorrow, confusion, joy, hope, gratitude, and ecstatic praise. Music can sound the language of the heart before God and neighbor, into mystery and suffering.
Michael Dummett begins The Logical Basis of Metaphysics by noting that most of the work done in analytic philosophy seems disconcertingly remote from any concern with the “deep questions of great import for an understanding of the world” that the non-professional expects it to answer. In part, he says, this is because modern analytic philosophy is founded upon a more penetrating analysis of the general structure of our thoughts than was available to past ages, namely, the apparatus of modern logic, (...) beginning with Frege’s Begriffsschrift in 1879. Analytic philosophers take for granted the principles of semantic analysis embodied in the notation of modern logic. Even if they do not make use of a technical vocabulary, having taken these principles for granted is itself often enough to render their approach opaque to the layperson. Appearances aside, he claims, analytic philosophy is still concerned with the “deep questions.” And, to his credit, Dummett keeps an eye focused on some of the central questions of philosophy, those concerning metaphysical realism, throughout the book. (shrink)
The path of those who would approach the study of Bentham's writings on Evidence has been considerably smoothed by the recent publication of William Twining's work on the evidence theories of Bentham and Wigmore. The material on evidence is now being tackled by the Bentham Project. It presents no easy task. The central core, The Rationale of Judicial Evidence, edited and published by John Stuart Mill in 1827, exists only in the printed version, the MSS from which Mill worked having (...) disappeared. But a substantial body of related material which survives has yet to be thoroughly investigated, though William Twining has made a gallant start. A new edition of the work hitherto known as ‘An Introductory View of the Rationale of Evidence’, first printed in full in the Bowring edition of the Works of Jeremy Bentham is in preparation. The first fruits of this endeavour is that the title of that work as it should appear in due course in the new Collected Works will be Introduction to the Rationale of Evidence: An Introductory View for the Use of Lawyers as well as Non-lawyers, the title in fact given to the work by Bentham. It is intended that what follows should similarly be of use to non-lawyers as well as lawyers. (shrink)
In Word and Object Professor Quine formulated his Principle of Indeterminacy of Translation as follows: Manuals for translating one language into another can be set up in divergent ways, all compatible with the totality of speech dispositions, yet incompatible with one another. In countless places they will diverge in giving, as their respective translations of a sentence of the one language, sentences of the other language which stand to each other in no plausible sort of equivalence however loose. The firmer (...) the direct links of a sentence with non-verbal stimulation, of course, the less drastically its translations can diverge from one another from manual to manual. (shrink)
There is a common view in medical ethics that the patient's right to be informed entails, as well, a correlative right not to be informed, i.e., to waive one's right to information. This paper argues, from a consideration of the concept of autonomy as the foundation for rights, that there can be no such ‘right’ to refuse relevant information, and that the claims for such a right are inconsistent with both deontological and utilitarian ethics. Further, the right to be informed (...) is shown to be a mandatory right (though not a welfare right); persons are thus seen to have both a right and a duty to be informed. Finally, the consequences of this view are addressed: since the way in which we conceptualize our problems tends to determine the actions we take to resolve them, it is important properly to conceptualize patients' requests not to be informed. There may be many reasons for acting in accord with such a request, but it is a mistake to conceptualize one's act as ‘respecting a right possessed by persons’. Keywords: medical ethics, informed consent, autonomy, information-waivers, rights, obligations CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Causal theories of content, a popular family of approaches to defining the content of mental states, commonly run afoul of two related and serious problems that prevent them from providing an adequate theory of mental content—the misrepresentation problem and the disjunction problem. In this paper, I present a causal theory of content, built on information theoretic tools, that solves these problems and provides a viable model of mental content. This is the greatest surprise reduction theory of content, which identifies the (...) content of a signal as the event the surprisal of which is most reduced by that signal. Conceptually, this amounts to the claim that the content of a signal is the event the probability of which has increased by the largest proportion, or the event that the signal makes the most less surprising to us. I develop the greatest surprise reduction theory of content in four stages. First, I introduce the general project of causal theories of content, and the challenges presented to this project by the misrepresentation and disjunction problems. Next, I review two recent and prominent causal theories of content and demonstrate the serious challenges faced by these approaches, both clarifying the need for a solution to the misrepresentation and disjunction problems and providing a conceptual background for the greatest surprise reduction theory. Then, I develop the greatest surprise reduction theory of content, demonstrate its ability to resolve the misrepresentation and disjunction problems, and explore some additional applications it may have. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of a particularly difficult challenge that remains to be addressed—the partition problem—and sketch a path to a potential solution. (shrink)
This book proposes a theory of reference--answering the question of whether Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures refer to the same God--within a semantic framework acceptable to atheists and fideists.
Alisdair MacIntyre argues that the virtues necessary for good work are everywhere and always embodied by particular communities of practice. As a general surgeon, MacIntyre’s work has deeply influenced my own understanding of the practice of good surgery. The task of this essay is to describe how the guild of surgeons functions as a more-or-less coherent tradition of moral enquiry, embodying and transmitting the virtues necessary for the practice of good surgery. Beginning with an example of surgeons engaged in a (...) process of moral discernment, I describe how the practice of surgery depends on the cultivation of a certain kind of practical wisdom (phronesis) that effectively orders the techniques of surgery toward particular notions of human flourishing within the limits of what is possible with the particular body on which the surgeon operates. I then argue that one reason why surgeons train in an apprenticeship model of "residency" is to cultivate not only the technical skill but also the practical wisdom to perform good surgery. I conclude by noting that the surgical profession is enduring necessary, but unprecedented, changes in the way it practices and transmits its art; and without deliberate and sustained attention to the character formation of surgeons, the profession runs the risk of creating excellent technicians who are nonetheless ill-equipped to practice wise and good surgery. (shrink)
Bernard Williams charges that the moral psychology built into R. M. Hare’s utilitarianism is incoherent in virtue of demanding a bifurcated kind of moral thinking that is possible only for agents who fail to reflect properly on their own practical decision making. I mount a qualified defence of Hare’s view by drawing on the account of the ‘reactive attitudes’ found in P. F. Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’. Against Williams, I argue that the ‘resilience’ of the reactive attitudes ensures that our (...) taking an instrumental view of our dispositions to experience guilt and compunction, as Hare calls for us to do while engaged in ‘critical’ moral thinking, will not prevent us from experiencing these feelings as people ordinarily do while we are thinking ‘intuitively’. I also consider the implications of my argument for consequentialism more generally and (briefly) Kantianism. (shrink)