Van Fraassen and others have urged that judgements of explanations are relative to why-questions; explanations should be considered good in so far as they effectively answer why-questions. In this paper, I evaluate van Fraassen's theory with respect to mathematical explanation. I show that his theory cannot recognize any proofs as explanatory. I also present an example that contradicts the main thesis of the why-question approach—an explanation that appears explanatory despite its inability to answer the why-question that motivated it. This example (...) shows how explanatory judgements can be context-dependent without being why-question-relative. (shrink)
Philosophers have paid little attention to mathematical explanations . I present a variety of examples of mathematical explanation and examine two cases in detail. I argue that mathematical explanations have important implications for the philosophy of mathematics and of science. ;The first case study compares many proofs of Pick's theorem, a simple geometrical result. Though a simple proof surfaces to establish the result, some of the proofs explain the result better than others. The second case study comes from George Polya's (...) Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning. He gives a proof that, while entirely satisfactory in establishing its conclusion, is insufficiently explanatory. To provide a better explanation, he supplements the proof with additional exposition. ;These case studies illustrate at least two distinct explanatory virtues, and suggest there may be more. First, an explanatory improvement occurs when a sense of "arbitrariness" is reduced in the proofs. Proofs more explanatory in this way place greater restrictions on the steps that can be used to reach the conclusion. Second, explanatoriness is judged by directness of representation. More explanatory proofs allow one to ascribe geometric meaning to the terms of Pick's formula as they arise. ;I trace the lack of attention to mathematical explanations to an implicit assumption, justificationism, that only justificational aspects of mathematical reasoning are epistemically important. I propose an anti-justificationist epistemic position, the epistemic virtues view, which holds that justificational virtues, while important, are not the only ones of philosophical interest in mathematics. Indeed, explanatory benefits are rarely justificational. I show how the epistemic virtues view and the recognition of mathematical explanation can shed new light on philosophical debates. ;Mathematical explanations have consequences for philosophy of science as well. I show that mathematical explanations provide serious challenges to any theory, such as Bas van Fraassen's, that considers explanations to be fundamentally answers to why-questions. I urge a closer interaction between philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science; both will be needed for a fuller understanding of mathematical explanation. (shrink)
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)
This paper provides an overview on David Lewis's writings about persistence. I focus on two issues. First, what is the relationship between the doctrine of Humean Supervenience and the rejection of endurantism? Second, why did Lewis not adopt a stage theory of persistence, given that he advocated a counterpart theory of modality?
This chapter presents David Foster Wallace's opinion about the three positions regarding the good life—ironism, hedonism, and narrative theories. Ironism involves distancing oneself from everything one says or does, and putting on Wallace's so-called “mask of ennui.” Wallace said that the notion appeals to ironists because it insulates them from criticism. However, he reiterated that ironists can be criticized for failing to value anything. Hedonism states that a good life consists in pleasure. Wallace rejected such a notion, doubting that (...) pleasure could play a fundamental role in the good life. Lastly, narrative theories characterize the good life by fidelity to a unified narrative-a systematic story about one's life, composed of a set of ends or principles according to which one lives. Wallace believed that these theories turn people into spectators, rather than the participants in their own lives. (shrink)
David Bohm is one of the foremost scientific thinkers of today and one of the most distinguished scientists of his generation. His challenge to the conventional understanding of quantum theory has led scientists to reexamine what it is they are going and his ideas have been an inspiration across a wide range of disciplines. Quantum Implications is a collection of original contributions by many of the world' s leading scholars and is dedicated to David Bohm, his work and (...) the issues raised by his ideas. The contributors range across physics, philosophy, biology, art, psychology, and include some of the most distinguished scientists of the day. There is an excellent introduction by the editors, putting Bohm's work in context and setting right some of the misconceptions that have persisted about the work of David Bohm. (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)
David Miller, Professor of Politics at Oxford University, has long been one of the most important and interesting contributors to political theory and philosophy. He is well known for insisting on the mutual relevance of philosophical reflection and political practice, an approach well captured by the title of his recent book, Justice for Earthlings. In his most recent book, Strangers in our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration, Miller revises and extends the work he has been doing for several (...) years now on immigration. The result is a short yet rich defense of the right of states to control their own immigration policy. (shrink)
Data-driven historiography of philosophy looks to objective modeling tools for illumination of the propagation of influence. While the system of David Lewis, the most influential philosopher of our time, raises historiographic puzzles to stymie conventional analytic methods, it proves amenable to data-driven analysis. A striking result is that Lewis only becomes the metaphysician of current legend following the midpoint of his career: his initial project is to frame a descriptive science of mind and meaning; the transition to metaphysics is (...) a rhetorically breathtaking escape from this program's (inevitable) collapse. Understanding this process both aids a more focused debate whether it counts as progress, and also presents novel affordances for partisans on both sides to learn from Lewis's right and wrong steps. (shrink)
David Lewis's book 'On the Plurality of Worlds' mounts an extended defense of the thesis of modal realism, that the world we inhabit the entire cosmos of which we are a part is but one of a vast plurality of worlds, or cosmoi, all causally and spatiotemporally isolated from one another. The purpose of this article is to provide an accessible summary of the main positions and arguments in Lewis's book.
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)
In his absorbing book Art as Performance, David Davies argues that artworks should be identified, not with artistic products such as paintings or novels, but instead with the artistic actions or processes that produced such items. Such a view had an earlier incarnation in Currie’s widely criticized “action type hypothesis”, but Davies argues that it is instead action tokens rather than types with which artworks should be identified. This rich and complex work repays the closest study in spite of (...) some basic objections to be raised concerning Davies’s central concept of an action token. (shrink)
Many authors writing about global justice seem to take national responsibility more or less for granted. Most of them, however, offer very little argument for their position. One of the few exceptions is David Miller. He offers two models of collective responsibility: the like-minded group model and the cooperative practice model. While some authors have criticized whether these two models are applicable to nations, as Miller intends, my criticism is more radical: I argue that these two models fail as (...) accounts of collective responsibility as such. This result should not surprise us (liberals): there simply is no such thing as collective responsibility (in a strict sense), there is only individual responsibility. Thus individuals are not automatically responsible for the actions of their groups, nations or states, not even if they do not actively dissociate themselves from those actions. (shrink)
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)
In his seminal _Philosophy of David Hume_, Norman Kemp Smith called for a study of Hume "in all his manifold activities: as philosopher, as political theorist, as economist, as historian, and as man of letters," indicating that "Hume's philosophy, as the attitude of mind that found for itself these various forms of expression, will then have been presented, adequately and in due perspective, for the first time." Claudia Schmidt seeks to address this long-standing need in Hume scholarship. Against the (...) charges that Hume holds no consistent philosophical position, offers no constructive account of rationality, and sees no positive relation between philosophy and other areas of inquiry, Schmidt argues for the overall coherence of Hume's thought as a study of "reason in history." She develops this interpretation by tracing Hume's constructive account of human cognition and its historical dimension as a unifying theme across the full range of his writings. Hume, she shows, provides a positive account of the ways in which our concepts, beliefs, emotions, and standards of judgment in different areas of inquiry are shaped by experience, both in the personal history of the individual and in the life of a community. This book is valuable at many levels: for students, as an introduction to Hume's writings and issues in their interpretation; for Hume specialists, as a unified and intriguing interpretation of his thought; for philosophers generally, as a synthesis of recent developments in Hume scholarship; and for scholars in other disciplines, as a guide to Hume's contributions to their own fields. (shrink)
Everyday Examples. An Introduction to Philosophy. presents the student with a somewhat unorthodox approach to the grand themes of philosophy. David Cunning has chosen an alternate route into many of the standard questions put to those in an introduction to philosophy course, both organizationally and content-wise. It will be quickly evident to the instructor that this approach has both its advantages and disadvantages.
Reality and Humean Supervenience confronts the reader with central aspects in the philosophy of David Lewis, whose work in ontology, metaphysics, logic, probability, philosophy of mind, and language articulates a unique and systematic foundation for modern physicalism.
Recognized in his day as a man of letters equaling Rousseau and Voltaire in France and rivaling Samuel Johnson, David Hume passed from favor in the Victorian age--his work, it seemed, did not pursue Truth but rather indulged in popularization. Although Hume is once more considered as one of the greatest British philosophers, scholars now tend to focus on his thought rather than his writing. To round out our understanding of Hume, M. A. Box in this book charts the (...) interrelated development of Hume's literary ambitions, theories of style, and compositional practice from his Treatise in 1739 through the Enquiries. In so doing, Box makes the case for Hume's career-long concern with the presentational modes of reaching an audience for his philosophical writings. Hume reacted to the popular failure of his masterpiece, A Treatise of Human Nature, Box suggests, by self-consciously exploring strategies in his subsequent works for agreeably bringing his readership to participate in the act of philosophizing. Combining a sensitive grasp of the ways Restoration period and eighteenth-century writers conceived the relations between rhetoric and philosophy with sound readings of particular texts, Box shows how Hume's literary concerns went beyond matters of style to involve persona, structure, and doctrine. While this book helps explain long-standing ambiguities surrounding Hume, especially by pointing out the tension between his created persona and his own voice, it also serves as an excellent introduction to his philosophy. (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)
Norman Kemp Smith's The Philosophy of David Hume continues to be unsurpassed in its comprehensive coverage of the ideas and issues of Hume's Treatise. Now, after years of waiting, this currently out-of-print and highly sought-after classic is being re-issued. This ground-breaking book has long been regarded as a classic study by scholars in the field, yet a new introduction by Don Garrett places the book in its contemporary context, showing Humes's continuing importance in the field.
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)
_ Source: _Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 117 - 134 This essay attends to both the critical and poetic work of David Pollard. In so doing, it not only engages the works themselves, but also allows the contours of such an engagement to manifest themselves, both with regards to the works at hand and more broadly. What does reading and thinking with Pollard give us to experience about reading and thinking as such?
In a remarkable and utterly original work of philosophical history, Richard Allen revivifies David Hartley's Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749). Though it includes a detailed and richly annotated chronology, this is not a straight intellectual biography, attentive as it might be to the intricacies of Hartley's Cambridge contacts, or the mundane rituals of his medical practice, or the internal development of the doctrine of association of ideas. Instead Allen brings Hartley's book, a psychological (...) epic with a mystical finale, sympathetically to life in a generous and ambitious historical gesture of mutual recognition. Late 20th-century readers "are in a better position to understand Hartley's work" than were earlier sympathizers like Joseph Priestley and John Stuart Mill; and in turn, Allen argues that "Hartley has something to say to us" about just how rich and strange a full mechanistic psychology might be. (shrink)
Quasi al termine della seconda guerra mondiale, alcuni ufficiali tedeschi diedero l’ordine di abbattere le storiche torri di San Gimignano; tutto pareva ormai deciso, quando un gruppo di civili riuscì con successo a ritardare l’esecuzione fino all’arrivo delle truppe alleate. Grazie a quei civili, le torri di San Gimignano sono ancora ben visibili a tutti, meta ogni anno di numerosi turisti; ma che cosa dire della possibilità che oggi esistessero soltanto le loro macerie? Esse rientrano in quella classe di cose (...) che chiamerò oggetti possibili, ovvero sono oggetti che avrebbero potuto esistere, ma per un qualche motivo non sono esistiti. Proprio di essi parlerò nelle prossime pagine, cercando di capire quale sia il loro statuto ontologico e in quale modo possiamo parlarne usando le espressioni del nostro linguaggio.1 Come vedremo, ci sono varie teorie che spiegano cos’è un oggetto possibile, tra loro anche molto diverse. Compito di ciascuna è quello di motivare e, se necessario, rendere plausibile una scelta filosofica. Quindi, ogni teoria degli oggetti possibili, attribuirà loro un preciso statuto ontologico e provvederà una semantica delle espressioni del linguaggio naturale sulla possibilità. Nelle poche pagine che seguono però, non scenderò nei dettagli di tutte le teorie della possibilità; piuttosto, ne considererò una particolarmente controversa e singolare: quella sostenuta da David K. Lewis. (shrink)
These four volumes bring together for the first time some of the most important research on the philosophy of David Hume (1711-1776). Included topics are: Volume 1--Epistemology, Reason, Induction, Scepticism; Volume 2--Space and Time, Ontology, Causality, Personal Identity and the Self, Naturalism, Mental Activity; Volume 3--Ethics, Is/Ought, Reason and the Passions; Volume 4--Religion, Miracles, Politics, Economics, Justice as well as some miscellaneous topics. The papers have been selected for their clarity, their high quality, their originality and their lasting significance. (...) Each volume includes an extensive selected bibliography listing materials according to the topics covered in the particular volume. (shrink)
La obra del filósofo estadounidense David H. Finkelstein, Expression and the Inner, publicada originariamente en 2003 por Harvard University Press (2ª ed. 2008) puede ahora leerse en la versión española de Lino San Juan, editada por la ovetense KRK Ediciones con el título: La expresión y lo interno. Finkelstein propone en La expresión y lo interno un análisis expresivista del autoconocimiento. Podría parecer cuando menos sorprendente y aún más admirable que con tan sólo dos capítulos (“Detectivismo y constitutivismo” y (...) “Expresión”) y un Epílogo (“Deliberación y transparencia”), Finkelstein haya conseguido presentar en esta obra un planteamiento calificado por muchos como una auténtica renovación de la discusión analítica en torno al tema del autoconocimiento, o sea, acerca del problema de qué clase de autoridad quepa atribuir a las expresiones sobre nuestros propios estados de ánimo y/o nuestros estados mentales sin más. (shrink)
There are good moral reasons to support euthanasia, and these reasons are fundamentally of a utilitarian root. There are few moral reasons to oppose euthanasia in its strict sense, and they are clearly outweighed by the reasons argumented from a utilitarian perspective. Such teleological and consequentialist good reasons were originally advanced by David Hume in his brief and brilliant essay "Of Suicide" (1757), the true source for current Bioethics. Hume's arguments have been expanded in scope by some contemporary utilitarians, (...) especially by Peter Singer. Both the classical arguments of Hume as the most current by Singer (and by some other utilitarian thinkers) are evaluated here, holding, in conclusion, that, regardless of specific criticisms, and of some important discrepancies between the different kinds of utilitarianists, however, the utilitarian ethical position is a strong and solid support for the defense of the "good voluntary death" as an individual right (in fact, a legitimate interest that demands legal protection) with a dominant force over other rights or interests, both individual or collective. (shrink)
This article is an exploration of David Hume's philosophy of custom and habit as a way of living with skepticism. For Hume, man is a habit-forming animal, and all politics and history take place within a history of custom and habit. This is not a bad thing: life without custom and habit would be a nightmare. Hume draws on the "new science" of thinkers such as Locke, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hutcheson, and Butler to foreground the importance of custom and habit. (...) His own contribution is a detailed exploration of philosophical psychology that brings out the role of habits of action such as politeness and manners and habits of thinking such as opinion and reasoning. Finally, life in accordance with customs and habits is not inherently conservative or quietist: there are endogenous and exogenous sources of change and progress in custom and habits. (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.
This paper offers a critique of David Gauthier’s contractarian moral theory. I point out morally counter-intuitive implications of Gauthier’s theory – for example, with respect to societies with slavery or concerning the protection of animals – as well as theoretically unattractive features, such as the overly optimistic assumption of translucent agents. However, contractarian moral theories can be improved by correcting the theoretically unattractive features. Moreover, though some morally counter-intuitive implications cannot be avoided, whether we should accept these implications ultimately (...) depends on whether an instrumentalist account of practical reason is defensible and how morality relates to practical reason. Thus, contractarian moral theories cannot be refuted as easily as one might think at first. (shrink)
Matthew D. Eddy and David Knight’s new edition of William Paley’s Natural Theology deserves to become the standard scholarly edition of what is a historically, theologically, and philosophically important work, despite a certain neglect of philosophical issues on the part of the editors.
Dans l’essai qu’elle consacre au roman de Dickens David Copperfield, Martha Nussbaum affirme que si ce roman montre qu’une union de l’amour et de la moralité est possible, le narrateur y parvient à travers l’écriture du roman et grâce à l’amour « romantique et érotique » qu’il éprouve pour le personage de Steerforth. Je montre au contraire que la forme de moralité que l’amour permet d’atteindre caractérise aussi, dans ce roman, d’autres types d’amour, non-érotiques, notamment l’amour parental, l’amour filial (...) et l’amour chrétien. Je montre également qu’Agnès Wickfield n’est pas dans ce roman le personnage kantien ou le spectateur impartial qu’y voit Nussbaum, de sorte qu’Agnès exprimerait « une position éthique qui diffère de celle qui anime la narration dans son ensemble ». Je montre au contraire qu’à travers l’amour sans jugement qu’elle porte à son père, Agnès illustre précisément, tout comme d’autres personnages qui s’y trouvent, la position éthique générale de ce roman. (shrink)
Mossner's Life of David Hume remains the standard biography of this great thinker and writer. First published in 1954, and updated in 1980, it is now reissued in paperback in response to increased interest in Hume. E. C. Mossner was Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. 'Mossner's work is a quite remarkable scholarly achievement; it will be an indispensable tool for Hume scholars and a treasure-trove of information for all students of the intellectual and (...) literary history of the eighteenth century' Richard H. Popkin in the Philological Quarterly. (shrink)