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).
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
In 1929, doubtless to the discomfort of his logical positivist host Moritz Schlick, Wittgenstein remarked, ‘To be sure, I can understand what Heidegger means by Being and Angst ’ . I return to what Heidegger meant and Wittgenstein could understand later. I begin with that remark because it has had an instructive career. When the passage which it prefaced was first published in 1965, the editors left it out—presumably to protect a hero of ‘analytic’ philosophy from being compromised by an (...) expression of sympathy for the arch-fiend of ‘continental’ philosophy. It was as if a diary of Churchill's had been discovered containing admiring references to Hitler. This was the period, after all, when Heidegger was, as Michael Dummett recalls, a ‘joke’ among Oxford philosophers, the paradigm of the sort of metaphysical nonsense Wittgenstein had dedicated himself to exposing. (shrink)
Propositions are the referents of the ‘that’-clauses that appear in the direct object positions of typical ascriptions of assertion, belief, and other binary cognitive relations. In that sense, propositions are the objects of those cognitive relations. Propositions are also the semantic contents (meanings, in one sense ) of declarative sentences, with respect to contexts. They are what sentences semantically express, with respect to contexts. Propositions also bear truth-values. The truth-value of a sentence, in a context, is the truth-value of the (...) proposition that it semantically expresses, in that context. This much is common ground among many (but not all) philosophers. I accept other claims about propositions that are more controversial. Propositions (I hold) are Russellian: they are structured entities whose constituents include individuals, properties, and relations. The contribution of a proper name to the proposition that a sentence semantically expresses (in a context) is the referent of that name. Thus, the semantic content of ‘Bill Clinton’ is Bill Clinton himself, and the semantic content of ‘Bill Clinton smokes’ is a proposition whose constituents are Bill Clinton and the property of smoking (ignoring tense, as I shall do from here on). Such 1 singular propositions are among the objects of belief, assertion, and other cognitive relations. This combination of a Millian view about proper names with a Russellian theory of propositions might appropriately be called ‘Millian Russellianism’, or ‘MR’ for short. David Chalmers, in his stimulating paper “Probability and Propositions,” defines a closely related view, Referentialism, as follows (see also the penultimate paragraph of his introduction). Referentialist views say that insofar as beliefs are about individuals (such as Nietzche), the objects of these belief are determined by those individuals. On one such view, the objects of belief are Russellian propositions composed from the individuals and properties that one’s belief is about.. (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)
The principle that One cannot deliberate over what one already knows is going to happen, when suitably qualified, has seemed to many philosophers to be about as secure a truth as one is likely to find in this life.Fortunately, poses little restriction on human deliberation, since the conditions which would trigger its prohibition seldom arise for us: our knowledge of the future is intermittent at best, and those things of which we do have advance knowledge are not the sorts of (...) things over which we would deliberate in any case. But matters appear to stand otherwise with an all-knowing agent such as God is traditionally conceived to be; for what an omniprescient deity ‘already knows is going to happen’ is everything that is going to happen; and if He cannot deliberate over such things, there is nothing over which He can deliberate. (shrink)
Criticized as a nostalgic anachronism by those who oppose her version of political theory and lauded as symbol of direct democratic participation by those who favor it, the Athenian polis features prominently in Hannah Arendt's account of politics. This essay traces the origin and development of Arendt's conception of the polis as a space of appearance from the early 1950s onward. It makes particular use of the Denktagebuch, Arendt's intellectual diary, in order to shed new light on the historicity of (...) one of her central concepts. The article contends that both critics and partisans of Arendt's use of the polis have made the same mistake: they have presumed that the polis represents a space of face-to-face immediacy. In fact, Arendt compared the polis to a series of analogues, many of which are not centered on direct exchanges between political actors and spectators. As a result, Arendt's early work on the polis turns out to anticipate many of the concerns of her later work on judgment, and her theory of the polis becomes a theory of topics. (shrink)
What role, if any, should our moral intuitions play in moral epistemology? We make, or are prepared to make, moral judgments about a variety of actual and hypothetical situations. Some of these moral judgments are more informed, reflective, and stable than others ; some we make more confidently than others; and some, though not all, are judgments about which there is substantial consensus. What bearing do our moral judgments have on philosophical ethics and the search for first principles in ethics? (...) Should these judgments constrain, or be constrained by, philosophical theorizing about morality? On the one hand, we might expect first principles to conform to our moral intuitions or at least to our considered moral judgments. After all, we begin the reflection that may lead to first principles from particular moral convictions. And some of our moral intuitions are more fixed and compelling than any putative first principle. If so, we might expect common moral beliefs to have an important evidential role in the construction and assessment of first principles. On the other hand, common moral beliefs often rest on poor information, reflect bias, or are otherwise mistaken. We often appeal to moral principles to justify our particular moral convictions or to resolve our disagreements. Insofar as this is true, we may expect first principles to provide a foundation on the basis of which to test common moral beliefs and, where necessary, form new moral convictions. (shrink)
It is common to regard love, friendship, and other associational ties to others as an important part of a happy or flourishing life. This would be easy enough to understand if we focused on friendships based on pleasure, or associations, such as business partnerships, predicated on mutual advantage. For then we could understand in a straightforward way how these interpersonal relationships would be valuable for someone involved in such relationships just insofar as they caused her pleasure or causally promoted her (...) own independent interests. But many who regard love, friendship, and other associational ties as an important part of a happy or flourishing life suppose that in many sorts of associations—especially intimate associations—the proper attitude among associates is concern for the other for the other's own sake, not just for the pleasure or benefits one can extract from one's associates. It is fairly clear how having friends of this sort is beneficial. What is less clear is how being a friend of this sort might contribute to one's own happiness or well-being. Even if we can explain this, it looks as if the contribution that friendship makes to one's happiness could not be the reason one has to care for friends, for that would seem to make one's concern for others instrumental, not a concern for the other for her own sake. (shrink)