W. Norris Clarke's metaphysics of the universe as a journey rests on six major positions: the unrestricted dynamism of the mind, the primacy of the act of existence, the participation structure of reality, and the person, considered as both the starting point of philosophy and the source of the categories needed for a flexible contemporary metaphysics. Reflecting on his conscious life and the universe around him, the finite person mounts by a two-fold path to its Infinite source, who, though (...) immutable in His natural being, is mutable in the intentional being of His personal knowledge and love. The personal God is the efficient cause from whom the universe comes and the final cause to whom it returns.Less optimistic than Norris Clarke, John Caputo wonders about his metaphysics of the person. In a hermeneutical interpretation of the human face, the person through whom Being "sounds" discloses an ambiguous Being that both reveals and conceals itself. Far from grounding a casual ascent to God, hermeneutical phenomenology allows us no more than the right to interpret the world and its transcendent source through our own free decision.Although impressed by Norris Clarke's attempt to introduce mutability into God, Lewis Ford still finds Clarke's Thomistic God unacceptable. As a Whiteheadian, he proposes in place of Thomas' God, whose perfection consists in static unity, a God whose perfection consists in a never-ending process of unification. John Smith argues against the traditional dichotomy made between the ontological and cosmological arguments. Rather than opposed methods of proving God's existence, they should be taken as complementary journeys to the divine presence which discloses itself, although diversely, in the soul and in the world. There are parallels between Smith's historical study of two arguments and Clarke's two-fold path to God. Yet Smith is critical of Thomas' cosmological journey to God and does not share Clarke's confidence in its validity. Significant studies in their own right, the three essays as a group challenge Clarke's whole metaphysics of the universe as a journey. Meeting the challenge, Clarke clarifies and refines his own thought.An account of Clarke's philosophy by Gerald A. McCool, S.J. preceds this unified and stimulating philosophical discussion. (shrink)
Early geological investigations in the St David's area are described, particularly the work of Murchison. In a reconnaissance survey in 1835, he regarded a ridge of rocks at St David's as intrusive in unfossiliferous Cambrian; and the early Survey mapping was conducted on that assumption, leading to the publication of maps in 1845 and 1857. The latter represented the margins of the St David's ridge as ‘Altered Cambrian’. So the supposedly intrusive ‘syenite’ was regarded as younger, and (...) there was no Precambrian. These views were challenged by a local doctor, Henry Hicks, who developed an idea of the ex-Survey palaeontologist John Salter that the rocks of the ridge were stratified and had formed a Precambrian island, round which Cambrian sediments had been deposited. Hicks subsequently proposed subdivision of his Precambrian into ‘Dimetian’, ‘Pebidian’, and ‘Arvonian’, and he attempted correlations with rocks in Shropshire, North Wales, and even North America, seeking to develop the neo-Neptunist ideas of Sterry Hunt. The challenge to the Survey's work was countered in the 1880s by the Director General, Geikie, who showed that Hicks's idea of stratification in the Dimetian was mistaken. A heated controversy developed, several amateur geologists, supported by a group of Cambridge Sedgwickians, forming a coalition of ‘Archaeans’ against the Survey. Geikie was supported by Lloyd Morgan. Attention focused particularly on Ogof Lle-sugn Cave and St Non's Arch, with theory/controversy-ladenness of observations evident on both sides. Evidence from an eyewitness student record of a Geological Society meeting reveals the ‘sanit`ized’ nature of the official summary of the debate in QJGS. Field mapping early in the twentieth century by J. F. N. Green allowed a compromise consensus to be achieved, but Green's evidence for unconformity between the Cambrian and the Dimetian, obtained by excavation, can no longer be verified, and his consensual history of the area may need revision. Unconformity between the Cambrian and the Pebidian tuffs is not in doubt, however, and Precambrian at St David's is accepted. The study exhibits features of geological controversy and the British geological community in the nineteenth century. It also furnishes a further instance of the great influence of Murchison in nineteenth-century British geology and the side-effects of his controversy with Sedgwick. (shrink)
Notice is given of the discovery of two reports and an accompanying manuscript map by Andrew Ramsay, on the geology of the St David's area, Pembrokeshire. This adds to previously published information on early geological work in this important region: Ramsay's report throw some light on his attitude towards Murchison's ideas on Welsh stratigraphy. The map is the earliest known version of the Survey's St David's sheet.
This paper is a response to David Oderberg's discussion of the Tristram Shandy paradox. I defend the claim that the Tristram Shandy paradox does not support the claim that it is impossible that the past is infinite.
According to Richard Gelwick, one of the fundamental implications of Polanyi’s epistemology is that all intellectual disciplines are inherently heuristic. This article draws out the implications of a heuristic vision of theology latent in Polanyi’s thought by placing contemporary theologian David Brown’s dynamic understanding of tradition, imagination, and revelation in the context of a Polanyian-inspired vision of reality. Consequently, such a theology will follow the example of science, reimagining its task as one of discovery rather than mere reflection on (...) a timeless body of divine revelation. The ongoing development of a theological tradition thus involves the attempt to bring one’s understanding of the question of God to bear on the whole of the human experience. The pursuit of theology as a heuristic endeavor is a bold attempt to construct an integrated vision of nothing less than the entirety of all that is, without absolutizing one’s vision, and without giving up on the question of truth. (shrink)
John Clarke of Hull, one of the eighteenth century's staunchest proponents of psychological egoism, defended that theory in his Foundation of Morality in Theory and Practice. He did so mainly by opposing the objections to egoism in the first two editions of Francis Hutcheson's Inquiry into Virtue. But Clarke also produced a challenging, direct argument for egoism which, regrettably, has received virtually no scholarly attention. In this paper I give it some of the attention it merits. In addition (...) to reconstructing it and addressing interpretive issues about it, I show that it withstands a tempting objection. I also show that although Clarke's argument ultimately fails, to study it is instructive. It illuminates, for example, Hutcheson's likely intentions in a passage relevant to egoism. (shrink)
David Phillips’s Sidgwickian Ethics is a penetrating contribution to the scholarly and philosophical understanding of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. This note focuses on Phillips’s understanding of (aspects of) Sidgwick’s argument for utilitarianism and the moral epistemology to which he subscribes. In § I, I briefly outline the basic features of the argument that Sidgwick provides for utilitarianism, noting some disagreements with Phillips along the way. In § II, I raise some objections to Phillips’s account of the epistemology (...) underlying the argument. In § III, I reply to the claim that there is a puzzle at the heart of Sidgwick’s epistemology. In § IV, I respond to Phillips’s claim that Sidgwick is unfair in his argument against the (deontological) morality of common sense. (shrink)
This paper analyses the early history of David Bohm’s mechanics from the perspective of Ludwik Fleck’s thought-collectives and shows how the thought-style of the scientific community limits the possible modes of thinking and what new possibilities for the construction of a new theory arise if these limits are removed.
In this commentary I criticize David Rosenthal’s higher order thought theory of consciousness . This is one of the best articulated philosophical accounts of consciousness available. The theory is, roughly, that a mental state is conscious in virtue of there being another mental state, namely, a thought to the effect that one is in the first state. I argue that this account is open to the objection that it makes “HOT-zombies” possible, i.e., creatures that token higher order mental states, (...) but not the states that the higher order states are about. I discuss why none of the ways to accommodate this problem within HOT leads to viable positions. (shrink)
According to David Charles, in the Meno Socrates fleetingly distinguishes the signification from the essence question, but, in the end, he conflates them. Doing so, Charles thinks, both leads to Meno's paradox and prevents Socrates from answering it satisfactorily. I argue that Socrates doesn't conflate the two questions, and that his reply to Meno's paradox is more satisfactory than Charles allows.
To enhance the plausibility of naturalistic moral realism, David Copp develops an argument from epistemic defeaters aiming to show that strongly a priori synthetic moral truths do not exist. In making a case for the non-naturalistic position, I locate Copp’s account within the wider literature on peer disagreement; I identify key points of divergence between Copp’s doctrine and conciliatorist doctrines; I introduce the notion of ‘minimal moral competence’; I contend that some plausible benchmarks for minimal moral competence are grounded (...) in substantive moral considerations; and I discuss two forms of spinelessness that Copp’s moral naturalism could result in. (shrink)
David Lewis claims that his theory of modality successfully reduces modal items to nonmodal items. This essay will clarify this claim and argue that it is true. This is largely an exercise within ‘Ludovician Polycosmology’: I hope to show that a certain intuitive resistance to the reduction and a set of related objections misunderstand the nature of the Ludovician project. But these results are of broad interest since they show that would-be reductionists have more formidable argumentative resources than is (...) often thought. Lewis’s reduction depends on a set of methodological commitments each of which is fairly plausible or at least currently popular, and none of which is particular to modality. The choice of which of these commitments to reject I leave to the discerning antireductionist. The essay proceeds as follows: §1 discusses reduction generally and one or two relevant puzzles; §2 discusses Lewis’s reduction in particular; the longest section, §3 replies to four objections. (shrink)
In his most recent book, National Responsibility and Global Justice, David Miller presents an account of human rights grounded on the idea of basic human needs. Miller argues that his account can overcome what he regards as a central problem for human rights theory: the need to provide a ‘non-sectarian’ justification for human rights, one that does not rely on reasons that people from non-liberal societies should find objectionable. The list of human rights that Miller’s account generates is, however, (...) minimal when compared to those found in human rights documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. This article argues that contrary to what Miller claims, his account is ‘sectarian’, since it relies on reasons that some non-liberals should find objectionable given their divergent values. It goes on to question whether ‘sectarianism’, as Miller defines it, is, in any case, a problem for human rights theory. The article concludes that Miller provides us with no reason to abandon commitment to a more extensive list of human rights. (shrink)
This article argues that there is a great divide between semantics and metaphysics. Much of what is called metaphysics today is still stuck in the linguistic turn. This is illustrated by showing how Fraser MacBride misunderstands David Armstrong's theory of modality.
David Friedman posed a number of libertarian philosophical problems (Friedman 1989). This essay criticizes Walter Block’s Rothbardian responses (Block 2011) and compares them with J C Lester’s critical-rationalist, libertarian-theory responses (Lester  2012). The main issues are as follows. 1. Critical rationalism and how it applies to libertarianism. 2.1. How libertarianism is not inherently about law and is inherently about morals. 2.2. How liberty relates to property and can be maximized: carbon dioxide and radio waves. 2.3. Applying the theory (...) to flashlights. 2.4. Applying the theory to the probability of imposed risks. 2.5. “Homesteading” or initial acquisition. 2.6 What is “essential” for a “true libertarian.” 2.7. Crime and punishment. 2.8. Extent of punishment. 2.9. The libertarian response to a madman with a gun. 2.10. How contradictions in rights are possible. 2.11. The draft. 3.1. Utilitarian libertarianism and “nose counting”. 3.2. How interpersonal comparisons of utility are possible and utility monsters are not a threat. 3.3. Why it is not utilitarian in practice to kill an innocent prisoner to prevent a riot. 3.4. Why David Friedman should not be forced to give up one of his eyes. 3.5. How utilitarians can be libertarians. Conclusion: a proper theory of liberty combined with critical rationalism offers superior solutions to Friedman’s problems. Appendix: replies to two commentators. (shrink)
The most important theories in fundamental physics, quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, posit objective probabilities or chances. As important as chance is there is little agreement about what it is. The usual “interpretations of probability” give very different accounts of chance and there is disagreement concerning which, if any, is capable of accounting for its role in physics. David Lewis has contributed enormously to improving this situation. In his classic paper “A Subjectivist's Guide to Objective Chance” he described a (...) framework for representing single case objective chances, showed how they are connected to subjective credences, and sketched a novel account what they are within his Humean account of scientific laws. Here I will describe these contributions and add a little to them. (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.
By the early 1970s, and continuing through 2001, David Lewis and Saul Kripke had taken over W.V.O. Quine’s leadership in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic in the English-speaking world. Quine, in turn, had inherited his position in the early 1950s from Rudolf Carnap, who had been the leading logical positivist -- first in Europe, and, after 1935, in America. A renegade positivist himself, Quine eschewed apriority, necessity, and analyticity, while (for a time) adopting a holistic version (...) of verificationism. Like Carnap, he placed philosophical logic and the philosophy of science at the center of philosophy. (shrink)
Taking a schizoanalytic approach to audio-visual images, this article explores some of the radical potentia for deterritorialisation found within David Fincher's Fight Club (1999). The film's potential for deterritorialisation is initially located in an exploration of the film's form and content, which appear designed to interrogate and transcend a series of false binaries between mind and body, inside and outside, male and female. Paying attention to the construction of photorealistic digital spaces and composited images, we examine the actual (and (...) possible) ways viewers relate to the film, both during and after screenings. Recognising the film as an affective force performing within our world, we also investigate some of the real-world effects the film catalysed. Finally, we propose that schizoanalysis, when applied to a Hollywood film, suggests that Deleuze underestimated the deterritorialising potential of contemporary, special effects-driven cinema. If schizoanalysis has thus been reterritorialised by mainstream products, we argue that new, ‘post-Deleuzian’ lines of flight are required to disrupt this ‘de-re-territorialisation’. (shrink)
Two recent monographs re-examine the central elements of the just war tradition and its contemporary applications. David Rodin’s War and Self-Defense analyzes, and rejects, the common doctrine that just war is an instance of national self-defense, in parallel with the right of individuals to protect themselves against violent attack. This derivation fails, and it cannot justify resort to war. In contrast, Oliver O’Donovan’s The Just War Revisited dismisses the notion that there are rules for just war and calls instead (...) for careful and deliberate practical reasoning in particular contexts. Indeed, there can be no just wars, only specific acts that pass the tests of theological, historical, and practical scrutiny. (shrink)
What gets integrated in integrative scientific practices has been a topic of much discussion. Traditional views focus on theories and explanations, with ideas of reduction and unification dominating the conversation. More recent ideas focus on disciplines, fields, or specialties; models, mechanisms, or methods; phenomena, problems. How integration works looks different on each of these views since the objects of integration are ontologically and epistemically various: statements, boundary conditions, practices, protocols, methods, variables, parameters, domains, laboratories, and questions all have their own (...) structures, functions and logics. I focus on one particular kind of scientific practice, integration of “approaches” in the context of a research system operating on a special kind of “platform.” Rather than trace a network of interactions among people, practices, and theoretical entities to be integrated, in this essay I focus on the work of a single investigator, David Wake. I describe Wake’s practice of integrative evolutionary biology and how his integration of approaches among biological specialties worked in tandem with his development of the salamanders as a model taxon, which he used as a platform to solve, re-work and update problems that would not have been solved so well by non-integrative approaches. The larger goal of the project to which this paper contributes is a counter-narrative to the story of 20th century life sciences as the rise and march of the model organisms and decline of natural history. (shrink)
This book presents vigorous and wide-ranging arguments in defense of an Aristotelian metaphysical scheme along fairly orthodox Thomistic lines. The central claim is that the items that populate the world have real essences – natures that mind-independently define what each such item is. This Aristotelian essentialism, Oderberg begins by telling us, is a different doctrine from what has recently been called ‘essentialism’, and a more powerful one . For recent essentialism has treated a thing's essence as merely all those properties (...) that the thing takes with it across all possible worlds – and here modality gets presupposed in order to explain essentialness, when the order should be reversed.We can observe essences, Oderberg holds, even though the observation is indirect, and even though knowing what to make of our observations requires applying metaphysical knowledge. Positivism-inspired worries that there is something unfactual about modal claims, and hence about essences, are unfounded . Claims about essences do have factual content, but not because they merely express our concepts or our grammar, and not because they simply report empirical findings . True reports of the essences of objects articulate a metaphysical insight from Aristotle: an object's essence is a compound of its substantial form and its prime matter . Its form actuates potentialities of its matter . The laws of nature derive from essences, and hence are necessary rather than contingent . Artifacts are ‘accidental unities’ of individual substances and …. (shrink)
This article is a critical review of David Boonin's book, A Defense of Abortion (Cambridge University Press, 2002), a significant contribution to the literature on this subject and arguably the most important monograph on abortion published in the past twenty years. Boonin's defense of abortion consists almost exclusively of sophisticated critiques of a wide variety of pro-life arguments, including ones that are rarely defended by pro-life advocates. This article offers a brief presentation of the book's contents with extended assessments (...) of those arguments of Boonin's that are his unique contributions to the abortion debate and with which the author disagrees: (1) Boonin's critique of the conception criterion and his defense of organized cortical brain activity as the acquired property that imparts to the fetus a right to life: (2) Boonin's defense of J. J. Thomson's violinist argument and his distinction between responsibility for existence and responsibility for neediness and its application to pregnancy. (shrink)
- Peter Railton1 Railton's remark is accurate; contemporary philosophers almost invariably suppose that morality is more vulnerable than empirical science to scepticism. Yet David Hume apparently embraces an inversion of this twentieth century orthodoxy.2 In book I of the Treatise, he claims that the understanding, when it reflects upon itself, "entirely subverts itself" (T 1. 4.7.7; SBN 267) while, in contrast, in book III he claims that our moral faculty, when reflecting upon itself, acquires "new force" (T 184.108.40.206; SBN (...) 619). Such passages suggest Hume's view is that morality's claims on us are justified, whereas the understanding's claims are not -- that scepticism about empirical science, but not morality, is irresistible. However, this interpretation does not accurately reflect Hume's position. Indeed, any interpretation which has Hume concluding that the understanding's claims on us are not justified faces an obvious worry - it makes nonsense of the rest of his naturalistic project, including, but not limited to, his description and justification of our moral faculty. For in defending his account of our moral faculty and, perhaps more clearly, in arguing against those who believe in miracles, Hume inescapably presupposes that the understanding's claims on us are in some sense justified. In light of Hume's meticulous and enthusiastic pursuit of his larger naturalistic project, one might even be tempted to conclude that Hume never really thought his sceptical arguments were sound. It would, however, be a mistake to submit to this temptation -- to do so would be to ignore the last part of book I of the Treatise, in which Hume evidently does find such arguments to be sound. Hume is undeniably impressed by scepticism about the. (shrink)
Neil Sinhababu and I presented Backward Clock, an original counterexample to Robert Nozick’s truth-tracking analysis of propositional knowledge. Fred Adams, John Barker and Murray Clarke argue that Backward Clock is no such counterexample. Their argument fails to nullify Backward Clock which also shows that other tracking analyses, such as Dretske’s and one that Adams et al. may well have in mind, are inadequate.
This article critically appraises David Bloor’s recent attempts to refute criticisms levelled at the Strong Programme’s social constructionist approach to scientific knowledge. Bloor has tried to argue, contrary to some critics, that the Strong Programme is not idealist in character, and it does not involve a challenge to the credibility of scientific knowledge. I argue that Bloor’s attempt to deflect the charge of idealism, which calls on the self-referential theory of social institutions, is partially successful. However, I suggest that (...) although the Strong Programme should not be accused of ‘strong idealism’, it is still vulnerable to the criticism that it entails a form of ‘weak idealism’. The article moves on to argue that, contrary to Bloor, constructionist approaches do challenge the credibility of the scientific knowledge that they analyse. I conclude the article by arguing that sociological analyses of scientific knowledge can be conducted without the weak idealism and the credibility-challenging assumptions of the Strong Programme approach.Keywords: Strong Programme; David Bloor; Social constructionism; Idealism; Self-reference; Scientific credibility. (shrink)
According to David Lewis's extreme modal realism, every waythat a world could be is a way that some concretely existingphysical world really is. But if the worlds are physicalentities, then there should be a set of all worlds, whereasI show that in fact the collection of all possible worlds is nota set. The latter conclusion remains true even outside of theLewisian framework.
David Chalmers and Frank Jackson have promoted a strong program of conceptual analysis, which accords a significant philosophical role to the a priori analysis of concepts. They found this methodological program on an account of concepts using two-dimensional semantics. This paper argues that Chalmers and Jackson’s account of concepts, and the related approach by David Braddon-Mitchell, is inadequate for natural kind concepts as found in biology. Two-dimensional semantics is metaphysically faulty as an account of the nature of concepts (...) and concept possession. It is also methodologically flawed as a guideline for how to study scientific concepts. Proponents of two-dimensional semantics are criticized for not taking seriously semantic variation between persons and for failing to adequately account for the rationality of semantic change. I suggest a more pragmatic approach to natural kind term meaning, arguing that the epistemic goal pursued by a term’s use is an additional semantic property. (shrink)