In 'How Many Lives Has Schrödinger's Cat?' David Lewis argues that the Everettian no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is in a tangle when it comes to probabilities. This paper aims to show that the difficulties that Lewis raises are insubstantial. The Everettian metaphysics contains a coherent account of probability. Indeed it accounts for probability rather better than orthodox metaphysics does.
Jon Elster reports that in 1940, and again in 1970, the U.S. draft lottery was challenged for falling short of the legally mandated ‘random selection’. On both occasions, the physical mixing of the lots appeared to be incomplete, since the birth dates were clustered in a way that would have been extremely unlikely if the lots were fully mixed. There appears to have been no suspicion on either occasion that the deficiency in the mixing was intended, known, or believed to (...) favor or disfavor any identifiable group. If the selection was non-random in the way charged, Elster asks, was it unfair? (shrink)
David and Mary Norton present the definitive scholarly edition of Hume's Treatise, one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. This set comprises the two volumes of texts and editorial material, which are also available for purchase separately. -/- David Hume (1711 - 1776) is one of the greatest of philosophers. Today he probably ranks highest of all British philosophers in terms of influence and philosophical standing. His philosophical work ranges across morals, the mind, metaphysics, epistemology, religion, and (...) aesthetics; he had broad interests not only in philosophy as it is now conceived but in history, politics, economics, religion, and the arts. He was a master of English prose. -/- The Clarendon Hume Edition will include all of his works except his History of England and minor historical writings. It is the only thorough critical edition, and will provide a far more extensive scholarly treatment than any previous editions. This edition (which has been in preparation since the 1970s) offers authoritative annotation, bibliographical information, and indexes, and draws upon the major advances in textual scholarship that have been made since the publication of earlier editions - advances both in the understanding of editorial principle and practice and in knowledge of the history of Hume's own texts. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that the normativity of conceptual judgement poses problems for naturalism. Thus John McDowell urges that 'The structure of the space of reasons stubbornly resists being appropriated within a naturalism that conceives nature as the realm of law' (1994, p 73). Similar sentiments have been expressed by many other writers, for example Robert Brandom (1994, p xiii) and Paul Boghossian (1989, p 548).
This essay explains the inescapability of moral demands. I deny that the individual has genuine reason to comply with these demands only if she has desires that would be served by doing so. Rather, the learning of moral reasons helps to shape and channel self- and other-interested motivations so as to facilitate and promote social cooperation. This shaping happens through the “embedding” of reasons in the intentional objects of motivational propensities. The dominance of the instrumental conception of reason, according to (...) which reasons must be based in desires of the individual, has made it harder to recognize that reasons shape desires. I attempt to undermine this dominance by arguing that the concept of a self that extends over time is constructed to meet the demands of social cooperation. Prudential reasons to act on behalf of the persisting self's desires are often taken to constitute the paradigm of reasons based on desires of the individual. But such reasons, along with the very concept of the persisting self, are constructed to promote human cooperation and to shape the individual's desires. (shrink)
Locke defined a person as ‘a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places” . To many who have been excited by the same thought as Locke, continuity of consciousness has seemed to be an integral part of what we mean by a person. The intuitive appeal of the idea that to secure the continuing identity of a person one experience must flow into the next (...) experience in some ‘stream of consciousoness” is evidenced by the number of attempts in the so-called constructionalist tradition to explain continuity of consciousness in terms of memory, and then build or reconstruct the idea of a person with these materials. The philosophical difficulty of the idea is plain from the failure of these attempts. Hindsight suggests this was as inevitable as the failure of the attempt to make bricks from straw alone—and as a failure just as uninteresting. Which is not to deny that the memory theorist might get from it a sense that some of the difficulties in his programme have arisen from his leaving flesh and bones, the stuff of persons, out of his construction. (shrink)
We have taken the “why be moral?” question so seriously for so long. It suggests that we lack faith in the rationality of morality. The relative infrequency with which we ask “why be prudent?” suggests that we have no corresponding lack of faith in the rationality of prudence. Indeed, we have so much faith in the rationality of prudence that to question it by asking “why be prudent?” sounds like a joke. Nevertheless, our reasons and motives to be prudent are (...) every bit as contingent as our reasons and motives to be moral–or so I argue in Sections II and III. A second theme of this essay is that conflict between morality and self-interest is contingent as well. The moral perspective, as characterized in Section IV, does not require a universal regard for others, whereas the kind of self-interested perspective characterized in Section III does not require a wholesale disregard for others. Both perspectives make room for a deep although not universal other-regard–or so I argue in Section V. (shrink)
The great variousness and plurality of goodness has given comfort to general scepticism about values and a multitude of metaethical attitudes or predilections. But is this variousness and plurality really the hotch-potch it has appeared? The paper recapitulates and expands von Wright's typology of the varieties of goodness and looks to explain the order or system that underlies the phenomena by developing and extending a conjecture of Aristotle's, the so-called ‘focal hypothesis’, and combining therewith a suggestion of von Wright's, to (...) the effect that the central case of something good is the faring well of a being. By means of focal hypothesis, one may account fairly well for medical, technical, instrumental, beneficial and utilitarian goodness. Other varieties such as hedonic and ethical goodness complicate the picture, as also do all cases where it seems that an antecedent kind of goodness impinges upon a being. These complications mirror in part the finding that the human scale of values is not a scale exclusively of human values. (shrink)
Moral realism and antirealist-expressivism are of course incompatible positions. They disagree fundamentally about the nature of moral states of mind, the existence of moral states of affairs and properties, and the nature and role of moral discourse. The central realist view is that a person who has or expresses a moral thought is thereby in, or thereby expresses, a cognitive state of mind; she has or expresses a belief that represents a moral state of affairs in a way that might (...) be accurate or inaccurate. The view of antirealist-expressivism is that such a person is in, or expresses, a conative state of mind, one that consists in a certain kind of attitude or motivational stance toward something, such as an action or a person. Realism holds that moral thoughts have truth conditions and that in some cases these truth conditions are satisfied so that our moral thoughts are true. Antirealist-expressivism holds, to a first approximation, that the distinctive moral content of a moral thought does not have truth conditions. (shrink)
Does morality override self-interest? Or does self-interest override morality? These questions become important in situations where there is conflict between the overall verdicts of morality and self-interest, situations where morality on balance requires an action that is contrary to our self-interest, or where considerations of self-interest on balance call for an action that is forbidden by morality. In situations of this kind, we want to know what we ought simpliciter to do. If one of these standpoints over-rides the other, then (...) there is a straightforward answer. We ought simpliciter to act on the verdict of the overriding standpoint. For purposes of this essay, I assume that there are possible cases in which the overall verdicts of morality and self-interest conflict. I will call cases of this kind “conflict cases.” The verdict of morality in a conflict case would be a proposition as to what we ought morally to do, or as to what we have the most moral reason to do; the verdict of self-interest would be a proposition as to what we ought to do in our self-interest, or as to what action is best supported by reasons or considerations of self-interest. These propositions are action-guiding or normative in a familiar sense. The conflict between morality and self-interest in conflict cases is there-fore a normative conflict; it is a conflict between the overall verdicts of different normative standpoints. I take it that the question of whether morality overrides self-interest is the question of whether the verdicts of morality are normatively more important than the verdicts of self-interest. In due course, I will explain the idea of normative importance as well as the ideas of a normative proposition and of a reason. (shrink)
David Wallace argues that we should take quantum theory seriously as an account of what the world is like--which means accepting the idea that the universe is constantly branching into new universes. He presents an accessible but rigorous account of the 'Everett interpretation', the best way to make coherent sense of quantum physics.
The priority view has become very popular in moral philosophy, but there is a serious question about how it should be formalized. The most natural formalization leads to ex post prioritarianism, which results from adding expected utility theory to the main ideas of the priority view. But ex post prioritarianism entails a claim which is too implausible for it to be a serious competitor to utilitarianism. In fact, ex post prioritarianism was probably never a genuine alternative to utilitarianism in the (...) first place. By contrast, ex ante prioritarianism is defensible. But its motivation is very different from the usual rationales offered for the priority view. Given the untenability of ex post prioritarianism, it is more natural for most friends of the priority view to revert to utilitarianism. (shrink)
Scott Arnold's recent paper, “Marx and Market Socialism,” advances a provocative thesis: market socialists are advocating an economic system that has a strong, internally generated tendency to revert to capitalism. They are, in short, “capitalist roaders”.
Consequentialism is often criticized for failing to accommodate impersonal constraints and personal options. A common consequentialist response is to acknowledge the anticonsequentialist intuitions but to argue either that the consequentialist can, after all, accommodate the allegedly recalcitrant intuitions or that, where accommodation is impossible, the recalcitrant intuition can be dismissed for want of an adequate philosophical rationale. Whereas these consequentialist responses have some plausibility, associational duties represent a somewhat different challenge to consequentialism, inasmuch as they embody neither impersonal constraints nor (...) personal options, but rather personal constraints. Our intuitions about associational duties resist capture within the intellectual net of consequentialism, and such duties do admit of a philosophical rationale at least as plausible as anything the consequentialist has to offer. (shrink)
Consciousness and Mind presents David Rosenthal's influential work on the nature of consciousness. Central to that work is Rosenthal's higher-order-thought theory of consciousness, according to which a sensation, thought, or other mental state is conscious if one has a higher-order thought that one is in that state. The first four essays develop various aspects of that theory. The next three essays present Rosenthal's homomorphism theory of mental qualities and qualitative consciousness, and show how that theory fits with and helps (...) sustain the HOT theory. A crucial feature of homomorphism theory is that it individuates and taxonomizes mental qualities independently of the way we're conscious of them, and indeed independently of our being conscious of them at all. So the theory accommodates the qualitative character not only of conscious sensations and perceptions, but also of those which fall outside our stream of consciousness. Rosenthal argues that, because this account of mental qualities makes no appeal to consciousness, it enables us to dispel such traditional quandaries as the alleged conceivability of undetectable quality inversion, and to disarm various apparent obstacles to explaining qualitative consciousness and understanding its nature. Six further essays build on the HOT theory to explain various important features of consciousness, among them the complex connections that hold in humans between consciousness and speech, the self-interpretative aspect of consciousness, and the compelling sense we have that consciousness is unified. Two of the essays, one an extended treatment of homomorphism theory, appear here for the first time. There is also a substantive introduction, which draws out the connections between the essays and highlights their implications. (shrink)
The question I shall attempt to address in what follows is an essentially historical one, namely: Why did analytic philosophy emerge first in Cambridge, in the hands of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, and as a direct consequence of their revolutionary rejection of the philosophical tenets that form the basis of British Idealism? And the answer that I shall try to defend is: it didn't. That is to say, the ‘analytic’ doctrines and methods which Moore and Russell embraced in (...) the very last years of the nineteenth century were not revolutionary, did not emerge first in Cambridge, were the creation of neither Russell nor Moore and cannot be explained by appeal to facts concerning British Idealism. The adoption of the doctrines and methods which characterised the earliest manifestations of British analytic philosophy are to be explained neither by reference to anything specifically British, nor by appeal to anything unproblematically philosophical. Or so I shall argue. (shrink)
David Shoemaker presents a new pluralistic theory of responsibility, based on the idea of quality of will. His approach is motivated by our ambivalence to real-life cases of marginal agency, such as those caused by clinical depression, dementia, scrupulosity, psychopathy, autism, intellectual disability, and poor formative circumstances. Our ambivalent responses suggest that such agents are responsible in some ways but not others. Shoemaker develops a theory to account for our ambivalence, via close examination of several categories of pancultural emotional (...) responsibility responses and their appropriateness conditions. The result is three distinct types of responsibility, each with its own set of required capacities: attributability, answerability, and accountability. Attributability is about the having and expressing of various traits of character, and it is the target of a range of aretaic sentiments and emotional practices organized around disdain and admiration. Answerability is about one’s capacity to govern one’s actions and attitudes by one’s evaluative judgments about the worth of various practical reasons, and it is the target of a range of sentiments and emotional practices organized around regret and pride. Accountability is about one’s ability to regard others, both evaluatively and emotionally, and it is the target of a range of sentiments and emotional practices organized around anger and gratitude. In Part One of the book, this tripartite theory is developed and defended. In Part Two of the book, the tripartite theory’s predictions about specific marginal cases are tested, once certain empirical details about the nature of those agents have been filled in and discussed. (shrink)
Are explanations in the social sciences fundamentally different from explanations in the natural sciences? Many philosophers think that they are, and I call such philosophers ‘difference theorists’. Many difference theorists locate that difference in the alleged fact that only in the natural sciences does explanation essentially include laws.