Metaphysically speaking, just what is trying? There appear to be two options: to place it on the side of the mind or on the side of the world. Volitionists, who think that to try is to engage in a mental act, perhaps identical to willing and perhaps not, take the mind-side option. The second, or world-side option identifies trying to do something with one of the more basic actions by which one tries to do that thing. The trying is then (...) said to be identical with the physical action. -/- After carefully stating the second, world-side view, I produce two arguments against it. The first relies on the fact that if a=b and b=c, then a=c, sometimes put colloquially as: if something is identical to two things, then the two things must be identical to one another. In the case of trying, one might try to do something by performing a plurality of simultaneous actions, a sure sign that the relation between the trying and the plurality of actions by which one tries must be some relation other than identity. -/- The second argument discusses two cases, recorded in William James’ The Principles of Psychology, of a patient who tries but who performs no action whatever. This is sometimes called ‘naked trying’. A recent attempt at denying that there can be such cases of naked trying is examined and dismissed. (shrink)
The article argues that the famous debate on natural and positive law between Lon Fuller and HLA Hart rests on a dispute about whether or not that something is a law provides on its own a prima facie reason for doing something.
This book introduces readers to the topic of explanation. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Carl Hempel are examined, and are used to argue against the view that explanation is merely a problem for the philosophy of science. Having established its importance for understanding knowledge in general, the book concludes with a bold and original explanation of explanation.
A comparison of disjunctive theories of action and perception. The development of a theory of action that warrants the name, a disjunctive theory. On this theory, there is an exclusive disjunction: either an action or an event (in one sense). It follows that in that sense basic actions do not have events intrinsic to them.
In virtue of what are later and an earlier group members of one and the numerically same tradition? Gallie was one of the few philosophers to have engaged with issues surrounding this question. My article is not a faithful exegesis of Gallie but develops a terminology in which to discuss issues surrounding the numerical identity of a tradition over time, based on some of his insights.
A careful elaboration and defence of holism in the philosophy of social science, with regard to both particulars and properties.The last chapter addresses the issue of the irreducibility of holistic explanation in social science.
What constitutes numerically one and the same tradition diachronically, at different times? This question is the focus of often violent dispute in societies. Is it capable of a rational resolution? Many accounts attempt that resolution with a diagnosis of ambiguity of the disputed concept-Islam, Marxism, or democracy for example. The diagnosis offered is in terms of vagueness, namely the vague criteria for sameness or similarity of central beliefs and practices.
What I shall do in this paper is to propose an analysis of ‘Agent P tries to A’ in terms of a subjunctive conditional, that avoids some of the problems that beset most alternative accounts of trying, which I call ‘referential views’. They are so-named because on these alternative accounts, ‘P tries to A’ entails that there is a trying to A by P, and therefore the expression ‘P’s trying to A’ can occur in the subject of a sentence and (...) be used to refer to a particular, namely an act or event of trying. A conditional account such as mine avoids having to answer questions about those alleged particulars, for example their location and their causal relation to physical actions, or alternatively their identity to physical actions. In brief, the analysis I propose eschews any need to quantify over any sort of trying particulars. I both clarify the proposal and deal with five possible objections to it: metaphysically impossible actions: cases of finking and reverse-cycle finking; the empirical emptiness of preventers and blockers; proximate intentions and trying; and alleged explanatory loss. (shrink)
David-Hillel Ruben mounts a defence of some unusual and original positions in the philosophy of action. Written from a point of view out of sympathy with the assumptions of much of contemporary philosophical action theory, his book draws its inspiration from philosophers as diverse as Aristotle, Berkeley, and Marx. Ruben 's work is located in the tradition of the metaphysics of action, and will attract much attention from his peers and from students in the field.
Is the thought that having a reason for action can also be the cause of the action for which it is the reason coherent? This is an attempt to say exactly what is involved in such a thought, with special reference to the case of con-reasons, reasons that count against the action the agent eventually choses.
Book synopsis: This collection of previously unpublished essays presents the newest developments in the thought of international scholars working on the explanation of action. The contributions focus on a wide range of interlocking issues relating to agency, deliberation, motivation, mental causation, teleology, interprative explanation and the ontology of actions and their reasons. Challenging numerous current orthodoxies, and offering positive suggestions from a variety of different perspectives, this book provides essential reading for anyone interested in the explanation of action.
Does 'Person P tried to A' entail that there is some particular, whether a mental act or a brain state or whatever, that is a trying? Most discussions of trying assume that this entailment holds. There is no good reason for holding that this is a valid inference. In particular, I examine one 'Davidsonian' argument that might be used to justify the validity of such an inference and argue that the argument is not sound. See: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/IxsuPqt7rvdzqMxpFiTv/full.
The aim of this series is to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editor of each volume contributes an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading. This volume presents a selection of the most important (...) recent writings on the nature of explanation. It covers a broad range of topics from the philosophy of science to the central philosophical terrain of the theory of knowledge. The distinguished contributors include Peter Achinstein, Wesley C. Salmon, Carl G. Hempel, Philip Kitcher, Bas C. van Fraassen, Jaegwon Kim, B. Brody, Timothy McCarthy, Peter Railton, David Lewis, Peter Lipton, James Woodward, and Robert J. Matthews. (shrink)
What might it mean to say that there is such a thing as a hermeneutic circle in the social sciences? A consideration of some remarks by Charles Taylor and others and an interpretive reconstruction, and assessment, of the idea of such a circle.
I defend the view, hardly original with me, that there is no evidence, deductive or non-deductive, for any of our causal beliefs, that does not already assume that there are some causal connections, and hence that there is no way in which experience on its own, or with causalität-free principles, can support the structure of out causal knowledge. The deductive case is perhaps obvious. In the case of non-deductive arguments, I consider how experience of constant conjunctions, together with the employment (...) of an inference to the best explanation, might lead to a causal conclusion. But I argue that such an inference would need as a premiss that the causal explanation of the constant conjunction is the best explanation of that evidence, and ‘best’ in this context requires the thought that the causal hypothesis best fits with our existing causal beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper, I intend to introduce what I think is a novel proposal in the metaphysics of action: one-particularism. In order to do so, I must first explain two ideas: a concept in the semantics of English that many philosophers of action take to be of great importance in action theory, causative alternation; and the idea of an intrinsic event. By attempting to understand the role that intrinsic events are meant to play in action theory, I then introduce my (...) proposal. Getting clear on what is an intrinsic event is a key, I think, to producing a viable theory of action, or, to be more precise, part of such a general theory, since it is limited to actions whose descriptions employ gerunds or perfect nominals formed from ergative verbs. I conclude by replying to two arguments that would be advanced against my proposal, both found in Alvin Goldman’s A Theory of Action. (shrink)
Book synopsis: This is the first volume of a two-volume introduction to and guide through philosophy. It is intended to orientate, assist, and stimulate the reader at every stage in the study of the subject. Eleven extended essays have been specially commissioned from leading philosophers; each surveys a major area of the subject and offers an accessible but sophisticated account of the main debates. An extended introduction maps out the philosophical terrain and explains how the different subjects relate to each (...) other. The first part of the book deals with the foundations of philosophical enquiry: epistemology; philosophical logic; methodology; metaphysics; and the philosophy of mind. The second part offers four historical chapters, two on ancient and two on modern philosophy, introducing great thinkers from the past, explaining and discussing their ideas, and showing the value of studying them today. The third part comprises two chapters devoted to questions of value, in ethics and aesthetics. Full annotated bibliographies are provided at the ends of chapters to serve as guides to further reading. This is real philosophy, not simplified philosophy; it will be accessible for the beginner but equally valuable for the third-year student. Deep and challenging questions are not shirked; the reader will be given a sense of involvement in the practice of philosophy today. (shrink)
Lewis' counterfactual account of deterministic causation has no way in which to represent causal sufficiency. In the case in which the cause and effect actually occur, the conditional, c box-arrow e is trivially true, equivalent to the material conditional. Yet in deterministic causation, one needs a notion of causal sufficiency that is stronger than that.
To what extend can genuinely mereological considerations apply to talk of wholes and parts in discussions of the relationship between individual persons and the social groups, etc. to which they belong?
In an explanation, what does the explaining and what gets explained? What are the relata of the explanation relation? Candidates include: people, events, facts, sentences, statements, and propositions.
How to draw the distinction between activity and passivity? Whatever that might be, the causal theory of action cannot give the right answer, as it offers an essentially passive account of human action.