When libertarian political philosophy attracted wide public notice in the 1970s, a common view was that the distinctive individual rights advocated in libertarian theory required grounding in a theory of ethics. Recently, this view has come under challenge. It has been argued that resort to such grounding in ethical theory is unneeded. An appeal to common sense intuitions suffices to justify libertarianism. First, a brief account of libertarianism will be presented. Then, some examples of the older, pro-grounding position will be (...) discussed. Then, the principal defense of the newer view, Michael Huemer’s The Problem of Political Authority, will be examined. This discussion constitutes the substance of the present paper. The principal contention of the present article will be that the argument to libertarianism from intuitions does not succeed. In conclusion, it will be suggested that a return to the earlier, grounding view is indicated for philosophers who wish to defend libertarianism. (shrink)
The last two decades have seen Marxism's academic renascence. In fields as diverse as law, literary criticism, history, and philosophy, Marxism once again captivates no small number of scholars. In part, this reassessment is driven by the efforts of a group of philosophers and economists to reconstruct Marx from the ground up on a more rigorous basis. The work of these "Analytical Marxists" -- who include G.A. Cohen, Jon Elster, and John Roemer -- is given a sustained examination and critique (...) in David Gordon's Resurrecting Marx. The charge of the Analytical Marxists that capitalism is inherently exploitative and unjust is the primary subject of Gordon's book. Gordon takes issue with that contention; he argues that the Analytical Marxists' withering criticism of classical Marxism is essentially correct, but that they fail to replace it with a superior theoretical edifice. Gordon also analyzes the Analytical Marxists' reformulation of the Marxian notion of exploitation, the implications of their rejection of the labor theory of value, their differences over what rights people have, and their arguments for the compatibility of markets with socialism. (shrink)
Raw (pragmatic) and potential (theoretical) power is seen as the key to press freedom in various global settings. Because the locus of power determines the locus of freedom, the authors suggest a model to understand where the raw and potential power resides within a matrix consisting of the State, the Media Elite, the Journalists, or the People. Numerous questions concerning accountability and ethics are raised concerning the practical application of a model that purports to overcome cultural biases inherent in traditional (...) theories of press and society. (shrink)
Robert M. Adams has written a fairly short book, but into it he has packed a lifetime of rigorous analytic thought, and, what is rarer, deep insight into the nature of things. The book expands and recasts Gifford Lectures that Adams delivered in 1999, as well as other lectures and papers, and though it addresses difficult issues, Adams's clear style, retaining the informality of lectures, considerably eases the task of the reader; and the book is not without an occasional touch (...) of humour, e.g. ‘As metaphysicians we may wish to assign a certain oomph to one side or the other in such lawgoverned relations; but it is not clear that the concept of oomph is at home in fundamental physics’ (p. 12).I cannot cover all the many and various topics in the book, but I shall endeavour in what follows to present a central thread of argument in it, the distinction between what is and what is in itself (the centrality of which is indicated by its presence in the book's title) and to show how this distinction leads to the theistic and idealist metaphysics to which the author is inclined. (shrink)
Is a Marxist society liable to be an oppressive one? To ask this question is immediately to pose two others: what is meant by Marxism; and what counts as an oppressive society? To take these questions in reverse order, by an oppressive society I shall mean one in which, other things being equal, people do not possess basic civil liberties. Examples of basic civil liberties include, but are not limited to, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and, (...) if the society has a political system, the freedom to participate in that system. An example of what I mean by basic civil liberties is the system of basic liberties discussed by Rawls; the United States Bill of Rights is another example. (shrink)
It is a central claim of the New Atheists that evolutionary theory disproves theism and demonstrates the truth of metaphysical naturalism. This book examines this claim and explores the implications of evolutionary theory for metaphysics.
In this brilliantly conceived volume, William Talbott takes aim at the ‘Proof Paradigm’, composed of five erroneous principles, which as he sees it has dominated Western epistemology since the ancient Greeks, and proposes to replace it with a superior alternative, one that involves on his part daring speculation about the metaphysical necessity of the principles of proper reasoning. One may at first glance be inclined to dismiss Talbott's project: Who now adheres to the Proof Paradigm, which, among other things, holds (...) that knowledge is based on infallibly known premises and what is deduced from them? Does the book merely echo ‘battles long ago’? Talbott would reply that although strict adherence to the Proof Paradigm has gone by the boards, the efforts to replace it remain in the grip of some of its principles. Moreover, recognition of the Proof Paradigm's failure has led many people to embrace scepticism and relativism, a fact Talbott deems of deep concern. These challenges to knowledge lead to and exacerbate unfortunate trends in our society, in particular prejudiced thinking, the nature of which he explains with both care and passion in Chapter 7. Talbott discusses a vast number of issues in the book, and in what follows, I shall be able to comment on only a few of these. (shrink)
Philosophy in the 19th century experienced a ‘turn from idealism,’ when idealist philosophies were largely abandoned for materialist ones. Scientific naturalism is now considered by many analytic philosophers to be the new orthodoxy, largely in part due to the success of the scientific method. The New Atheists, such as Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, claim it is Darwin in particular who deserves much of the credit for repudiating the traditional Mind-first world view. Some, like Alvin Plantinga and Michael Behe, maintain (...) the opposite, that evolution casts doubt on naturalism and supports theism. This dissertation seeks to determine just what exactly the logical implications of evolutionary theory are. Is evolution incompatible with theism? Does the acceptance of evolution necessarily entail naturalism and preclude theism? Is it possible, as naturalism maintains, that everything can be reduced to physical processes, or are there too many recalcitrant phenomena that defy reduction? Answering these involves a detailed analysis of the concepts, ‘evolution,’ ‘naturalism,’ and ‘theism.’ Just what exactly does accepting evolutionary theory entail? How is it different from Darwinism? Is evolution guided or unguided? What is naturalism? There are many different types of metaphysical naturalists: eliminative materialists, physicalists, and emergent property dualists. What is the relationship between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism? Theism affirms a creator God who sustains all being, who is transcendent and yet immanent. So if theism posits a God who is active in the world, does this mean that scientific investigation may at times have to admit supernatural explanations when natural ones fail? My general conclusion is a type of mitigated skepticism – that given evolution, neither naturalism nor theism logically follows. As to whether evolution is guided or unguided, the only correct position is ‘undetermined.’ In this instance metaphysical positions may fill in the gaps in knowledge by projection, but cannot fulfill the necessary and sufficient conditions required for knowledge. Metaphysical naturalism and theism are worldviews that an individual adopts as the most overall coherent explanation of the wide variety of experiences, intuitions, and reflections on their life. Whether evolution offers evidence for one and against the other is often based upon one’s prior metaphysical assumptions, since all facts are theory laden. The underdetermination of theory allows for multiple theories to cover the same phenomena, with each offering an epistemically adequate explanation. However, numerous recalcitrant anomalies which defy scientific explanation and reduction present problems for the strict naturalist. While neither naturalism nor theism can be determined to be objectively true, one can offer reasons for choosing one or the other on the basis of overall coherence. (shrink)
David Basinger, in ‘Middle Knowledge and Classical Christian Thought’, has claimed that whether the concept of God's middle knowledgeis coherent ‘cannot be dismissed lightly or ignored by those interested in classical Christian thought. For what is at stake is the very coherence of Christian theism itself’.
In their book, Equal Is Unfair, Watkins and Brook argue that equality of income and wealth is not needed in order to engage in the creative work required for human flourishing. One can live a successful life even though others have more resources and opportunities. It is contended here that this argument is convincing, but contrary to Watkins and Brook, it does not suffice to rule out all justifications for redistribution.
In The Perfectionist Turn, Den Uyl and Rasmussen argue for an ethics of responsibility and oppose the prevailing ethics of respect. Political philosophy must be “tethered” ontologically, and arguments such as Moore’s open question argument that would, if correct, show that tethering is not possible do not succeed.