How far should our realism extend? For many years philosophers of mathematics and philosophers of ethics have worked independently to address the question of how best to understand the entities apparently referred to by mathematical and ethical talk. But the similarities between their endeavours are not often emphasised. This book provides that emphasis. In particular, it focuses on two types of argumentative strategies that have been deployed in both areas. The first—debunking arguments—aims to put pressure on realism by emphasising the (...) seeming redundancy of mathematical or moral entities when it comes to explaining our judgements. In the moral realm this challenge has been made by Gilbert Harman and Sharon Street; in the mathematical realm it is known as the 'Benacerraf-Field' problem. The second strategy—indispensability arguments—aims to provide support for realism by emphasising the seeming intellectual indispensability of mathematical or moral entities, for example when constructing good explanatory theories. This strategy is associated with Quine and Putnam in mathematics and with Nicholas Sturgeon and David Enoch in ethics. Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics addresses these issues through an explicitly comparative methodology which we call the 'companions in illumination' approach. By considering how argumentative strategies in the philosophy of mathematics might apply to the philosophy of ethics, and vice versa, the papers collected here break new ground in both areas. For good measure, two further companions for illumination are also broached: the philosophy of chance and the philosophy of religion. Collectively, these comparisons light up new questions, arguments, and problems of interest to scholars interested in realism in any area. (shrink)
Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle is a collection of essays composed by students and friends of Thomas L. Pangle to honor his seminal work and outstanding guidance in the study of political philosophy. These essays examine both Socrates' and modern political philosophers' attempts to answer the question of the right life for human beings, as those attempts are introduced and elaborated in the work of thinkers from Homer and Thucydides to Nietzsche and Charles Taylor.
Moral philosophers are, among other things, in the business of constructing moral theories. And moral theories are, among other things, supposed to explain moral phenomena. Consequently, one’s views about the nature of moral explanation will influence the kinds of moral theories one is willing to countenance. Many moral philosophers are (explicitly or implicitly) committed to a deductive model of explanation. As I see it, this commitment lies at the heart of the current debate between moral particularists and moral generalists. In (...) this paper I argue that we have good reasons to give up this commitment. In fact, I show that an examination of the literature on scientific explanation reveals that we are used to, and comfortable with, non-deductive explanations in almost all areas of inquiry. As a result, I argue that we have reason to believe that moral explanations need not be grounded in exceptionless moral principles. (shrink)
In this essay I offer a new particularist reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. I argue that the interpretation I present not only helps us to resolve some puzzles about Aristotle’s goals and methods, but it also gives rise to a novel account of morality—an account that is both interesting and plausible in its own right. The goal of this paper is, in part, exegetical—that is, to figure out how to best understand the text of the Nicomachean Ethics. But this paper (...) also aims to contribute to the current exciting and controversial debate over particularism. By taking the first steps towards a comprehensive particularist reading of Aristotle’s Ethics I hope to demonstrate that some of the mistrust of particularism is misplaces and that what is, perhaps, the most influential moral theory in the history of philosophy is, arguably, a particularist moral theory. (shrink)
What makes some acts morally right and others morally wrong? Traditionally, philosophers have thought that in order to answer this question we must find and formulate exceptionless moral principles—principles that capture all and only morally right actions. Utilitarianism and Kantianism are paradigmatic examples of such attempts. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in a novel approach—Particularism—although its precise content is still a matter of controversy. In this paper I develop and motivate a new formulation of particularism (...) as a research program and I show that my formulation is not vulnerable to the most common objections to particularism. Moreover, I argue that the particularist research program shows enough promise to warrant further exploration. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the viability of a particularist explanation of moral knowledge. First, I consider two arguments by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge that purport to show that a generalist, principle-based explanation of practical wisdom—understood as the ability to acquire moral knowledge in a wide range of situations—is superior to a particularist, non-principle-based account. I contend that both arguments are unsuccessful. Then, I propose a particularist-friendly explanation of knowledge of particular moral facts. I argue that when we are (...) careful to keep separate the various explanatory tasks at hand we can see that a particularist-friendly explanation of the fact that Jane knows that A is morally right might not be so difficult to come by. Moreover, I suggest that a particularist approach to explaining knowledge of particular moral facts may go some way towards discharging the challenge of moral scepticism. (shrink)
The paper identifies a distinctive feature of friendship. Friendship, it is argued, is a relationship between two people in which each participant values the other and successfully communicates this fact to the other. This feature of friendship, it is claimed, explains why friendship plays a key role in human happiness, why it is praised by philosophers, poets, and novelists, and why we all seek friends. Although the characterization of friendship proposed here differs from other views in the literature, it is (...) shown that it accommodates key insights of other writers on the topic. Thus, in accordance with the Aristotelian strategy the paper employs, it is shown that the account on offer preserves the received opinions on friendship. (shrink)
Monists, pluralists, and particularists disagree about the structure of the best explanation of the rightness (wrongness) of actions. In this paper I argue that the availability of good moral advice gives us reason to prefer particularist theories and pluralist theories to monist theories. First, I identify two distinct roles of moral theorizing—explaining the rightness (wrongness) of actions, and providing moral advice—and I explain how these two roles are related. Next, I explain what monists, pluralists, and particularists disagree about. Finally, I (...) argue that particularists and pluralists are better situated than monists to explain why it is a good idea to think before we act, and that this gives us reason to favor particularism and pluralism over monism. (shrink)
What are the consequences, for human moral practice, of an evolutionary understanding of that practice? By ‘moral practice’ we mean the way in which human beings think, talk and debate in moral terms. We suggest that the proper upshot of such considerations is moderate support for anti-realism in ethics.
Many of us read Peter Singer ’ s work on our obligations to those in desperate need with our students. Famously, Singer argues that we have a moral obligation to give a significant portion of our assets to famine relief. If my own experience is not atypical, it is quite common for students, upon grasping the implications of Singer ’ s argument, to ask whether Singer gives to famine relief. In response it might be tempting to remind students of the (...) ad hominem fallacy of attacking the person advancing an argument rather than the argument itself. In this paper I argue that the “ ad hominem reply ” to students ’ request for information about Singer is misguided. First I show that biographical facts about the person advancing an argument can constitute indirect evidence for the soundness / unsoundness of the argument. Second, I argue that such facts are relevant because they may reveal that one can discard the argument without thereby incurring moral responsibility for failing to act on its conclusion even if the argument is sound. (shrink)
This article is an analysis of the theological-philosophical revolution that Leibowitz's thought represents in the philosophy of religion in general and in Jewish philosophy in particular. This revolution relies on a positivist viewpoint, which denies any possibility of making statements about God. In his approach, statements about God are interpreted as statements denoting the relationship between the individual and God. Conventional religious beliefs -- such as the belief in the creation or in revelation -- become meaningless. Leibowitz therefore (...) suggests a new interpretation, both of theoretical religious beliefs and of the normative system -- the Halakha. The belief in revelation is construed as a human judgment, which endows the halakhic system with divine validity. Halakha does not draw its meaning from its divine source but from its inner religious meaning, which Leibowitz sees in worship. (shrink)
This classic edition presents the correspondence of one of the great thinkers of the 18th century, and offers a rich picture of the man and his age. This first volume contains David Hume's letters from 1727 to 1765. Hume's correspondents include such famous public figures as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, James Boswell, and Benjamin Franklin.
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.
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)
Are moral properties intellectually indispensable, and, if so, what consequences does this have for our understanding of their nature, and of our talk and knowledge of them? Are mathematical objects intellectually indispensable, and, if so, what consequences does this have for our understanding of their nature, and of our talk and knowledge of them? What similarities are there, if any, in the answers to the first two questions? Can comparison of the two cases shed light on which answers are most (...) plausible in either case? This chapter – the introduction to the volume Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics – elucidates these questions and sketches their history. (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 explicates and assesses Yeshayahu Leibowitz's axiology, and its relation to the value he claims halakhic practice instantiates: service of God. It argues that, while Leibowitz often affirms a relativist “polytheism of values,” he sometimes implies that the religious value is the “most valuable value.” However, this is not due to its material content, because serving God is objectively best; rather it is because, consonant with his negative theology, it most fully instantiates the formal properties of a (...) value. The essay concludes by assessing the tenability of Leibowitz's metaethics as well as the argument for positing this contentless value as an intention and reason for halakhic practice. (shrink)
Most "art and science" books focus on the science of perspective or the psychology of perception. Hidden Harmony does not. Instead, the book addresses the surprising common ground between physics and art from a novel and personal perspective. Viewing the two disciplines as creative processes, J. R. Leibowitz supplements existing and original research with illustrations to demonstrate that physics and art share guiding aesthetics and compositional demands and to show how each speaks meaningfully to the other. Leibowitz widens (...) our experience and understanding of both domains by exploring how concepts such as balance and re-balance, coherence and unity, and symmetry and "broken" symmetry affect and are affected by artistic vision and scientific principle. He reveals shared themes and understandings in each field and adroitly illustrates the parallels between the dabs of color and layers of images in a work of art and the particles of matter and packets of energy that compose the observable, physical world. Featuring examples of art images and complementary examples of physics concepts, this contemplative work helps us see art and physics as artists and physicists do. (shrink)