I shall venture to affirm, as a general proposition which admits of no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance, attained by reasonings a priori, but arises entirely from experience, when we find that any particular objects are constantly conjoined with each other.
Ted Honderich's ‘Causes and If p, even if x, still q ’ contains many good points I shall not discuss. My discussion is restricted to some of the points Honderich makes about causal priority in the final two sections of his paper. He considers several proposals, new and old, for accounting for causal priority before he presents a tentativeproposal of his own. He thinks that some of these proposals, besides having difficulties peculiar to themselves, share the deficiency of lacking the (...) proper character. When we look for the difference between causal circumstances and causes, on the one hand, and their effects, on the other, he says, We are not pursuing any difference between these things. We arepursuing a difference of a certain character. What we are after has to do with what we say: that causes and causal circumstances make their effects happen , and not the other way on, and that causes and causal circumstances explain their effects , and not the other way on. (shrink)
Issue Title: Moral Luck, Social Networking Sites, and Trust on the Web I argue that the problem of 'moral luck' is an unjustly neglected topic within Computer Ethics. This is unfortunate given that the very nature of computer technology, its 'logical malleability', leads to ever greater levels of complexity, unreliability and uncertainty. The ever widening contexts of application in turn lead to greater scope for the operation of chance and the phenomenon of moral luck. Moral luck bears down most heavily (...) on notions of professional responsibility, the identification and attribution of responsibility. It is immunity from luck that conventionally marks out moral value from other kinds of values such as instrumental, technical, and use value. The paper describes the nature of moral luck and its erosion of the scope of responsibility and agency. Moral luck poses a challenge to the kinds of theoretical approaches often deployed in Computer Ethics when analyzing moral questions arising from the design and implementation of information and communication technologies. The paper considers the impact on consequentialism; virtue ethics; and duty ethics. In addressing cases of moral luck within Computer Ethics, I argue that it is important to recognise the ways in which different types of moral systems are vulnerable, or resistant, to moral luck. Different resolutions are possible depending on the moral framework adopted. Equally, resolution of cases will depend on fundamental moral assumptions. The problem of moral luck in Computer Ethics should prompt us to new ways of looking at risk, accountability and responsibility.[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]. (shrink)
This article answers John Biro's "Knowability, Believability, and Begging the Question: a Reply to Sanford" in "Metaphilosophy" 15 (1984). Biro and I agree that of two argument instances with the same form and content, one but not the other can beg the question, depending on other factors. These factors include actual beliefs, or so I maintain (against Biro) with the help of some analysed examples. Brief selections from Archbishop Whatley and J S Mill suggest that they also regard reference (...) to actual beliefs as essential to explaining begging the question. (shrink)
Although Aranyosi's claim that McTaggart's "set of parts" is a set rather than a fusion is correct, his attempt to restate McTaggart's conception needs revision. Aranyosi argues that "the fusion of cats is identical with the fusion of all cat-parts, 'regardless of whether all cat-parts are parts of cats or not.'" Fusions have unique decompositions into what David Lewis calls "nice parts." Cats are nice parts of cat fusions, as are maximal spatio-temporally connected parts. Part of Aranyosi's argument fails (...) when it deals with cats; part of it fails when it deals with maximal spatio-temporally connected parts. He does not identify one kind of nice part that allows his whole argument to go through. (shrink)
Locke thought it was a necessary truth that no two material bodies could be in the same place at the same time. Leibniz wasn't so sure. This paper sides with Leibniz. I examine the arguments of David Wiggins in defense of Locke on this point (Philosophical Review, January 1968). Wiggins’ arguments are ineffective.
Naive mereology studies ordinary, common-sense beliefs about part and whole. Some of the speculations in this article on naive mereology do not bear directly on Peter van Inwagen's "Material Beings". The other topics, (1) and (2), both do. (1) Here is an example of Peter Unger's "Problem of the Many". How can a table be a collection of atoms when many collections of atoms have equally strong claims to be that table? Van Inwagen invokes fuzzy sets to solve this problem. (...) I claim that an alternative treatment of vagueness, supervaluations over many-value valuations, provides a better solution. (2) The Special Composition Question asks how parts compose a whole. One who rejects van Inwagen's answer in terms of constituting a life need not provide some alternative answer. Even if all answers to the Special Question fail, there are a multitude of less general composition questions that are not so difficult. (shrink)
I criticize and emend J L Mackie's account of causal priority by replacing ‘fixity’ in its central clause by 'x is a causal condition of y, but y is not a causal condition of x'. This replacement works only if 'is a causal condition of' is not a symmetric relation. Even apart from our desire to account for causal priority, it is desirable to have an account of nonsymmetric conditionship. Truth, for example, is a condition of knowledge, but knowledge is (...) not a condition of truth. My definitions of 'sufficient condition for' and 'necessary condition for' do not imply that p is a sufficient condition of q if and only if q is a necessary condition of p. (shrink)
A primary purpose of argument is to increase the degree of reasonable confidence that one has in the truth of the conclusion. A question begging argument fails this purpose because it violates what W. E. Johnson called an epistemic condition of inference. Although an argument of the sort characterized by Robert Hoffman in his response (Analysis 32.2, Dec 71) to Richard Robinson (Analysis 31.4, March 71) begs the question in all circumstances, we usually understand the charge that an argument is (...) question begging with reference to the beliefs of the person, or the sort of person, to whom the argument is directed. (shrink)
Two fusions can be in the same place at the same time. So long as a house made of Tinkertoys is intact, the fusion of all its Tinkertoys parts coincides with the fusion of it walls and its roof. If none of the Tinkertoys is destroyed, their fusion persists through the complete disassembly of the house. (So the house is not a fusion of its Tinkertoy parts.) The fusion of the walls and roof does not persist through the complete disassembly (...) because the walls and the roof themselves do not persist. (So the walls and the roof are also not fusions of their Tinkertoy parts.). (shrink)
Everything red is colored, and all squares are polygons. A square is distinguished from other polygons by being four-sided, equilateral, and equiangular. What distinguishes red things from other colored things? This has been understood as a conceptual rather than scientific question. Theories of wavelengths and reflectance and sensory processing are not considered. Given just our ordinary understanding of color, it seems that what differentiates red from other colors is only redness itself. The Cambridge logician W. E. Johnson introduced the terms (...) determinate and determinable to apply to examples such as red and colored. Chapter XI, of Johnson's Logic, Part I (1921), “The Determinate and the Determinable,” is the main text for discussion of this distinction. (shrink)
If two statements are contraries if and only if they cannot both be true, but can both be false, then some corresponding A and E categorical statements are not contraries, even on the presupposition that something exists which satisfies the subject term. For some such statements are necessarily true and thus cannot be false. There is a similar problem with subcontraries.
Myles Brand and Marshall Swain advocate the principle that if A is the set of conditions individually necessary and jointly sufficient for the occurrence of B, then if C is a set of conditions individually necessary for the occurrence of B, every member of C is a member of A. I agree with John Barker and Risto Hilpinen who each argue that this principle is not true for causal necessity and sufficiency, but I disagree with their claim that it is (...) true for logical necessity and sufficiency. The original appeal of the principle may be due to confusing two kinds of totality: to say that when every member of set A obtains, then every condition necessary for E obtains is not to say that every condition necessary for E is a member of A. All the authors mentioned believe that causal necessity precludes logical necessity. I deny this on the basis of an example from kinematics. Hume has not refuted definitions of causation in terms of logically necessary and sufficient conditions, nor have Brand and Swain. (shrink)
A semantics of vagueness should reject the principle that every statement has a truth-value yet retain the classical tautologies. A many-value, non-truth-functional semantics and a semantics of super-valuations each have this result. According to the super-valuation approach, 'if a man with n hairs on his head is bald, then a man with n plus one hairs on his head is also bald' is false because it comes out false no matter how the vague predicate 'is bald' is appropriately made precise. (...) But why should a sentence in which components actually remain imprecise be regarded as actually false just because it would be false if its components were precise? On one of the alternative treatments of quantification allowed by the many-value approach, the sentence in question is assigned an intermediate value closer to 'false' than to 'true'. Despite the elegance of the super-valuation approach, there are reasons to prefer the many-value approach. (shrink)
Hume's arguments for the contention that causal necessity precludes logical necessity depend on the questionable principle that a cause must precede its effect. Hobbes' definition of entire cause, although it fails to account for causal priority, is not refuted by Hume. The objections of Myles Brand and Marshall Swain (Philosophical Studies, 1976) to my counterexample against Hume (Philosophical Studies, 1975) are ineffective. Their other objections to my criticisms of their argument against defining causation in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions (...) (Synthese, 1970) are also mostly ineffective. (shrink)
The primary objects of hearing are sounds: everything we hear we hear by hearing a sound. (This claim differs from Berkeley’s that we hear only sounds and from Aristotle’s that we only hear sounds.) Colored regions are primary objects of sight, and pressure resistant regions are primary objects of perception by touch. By definition, the primary objects of perception are physical. The properties of the primary objects of perception are exactly the properties sense-datum theories attribute to sense-data. Indirect Realism holds (...) that awareness of sense-data (or something similar) mediates our perception of primary objects. Direct Realism denies this. The question when the perception of a primary object, such as parts of the surfaces of a hat and coat, is thereby the perception of a non-primary object, such as a person, is independent of the disagreement between Direct and Indirect Realism. (shrink)
Roderick Chisholm provides, in different places, two formulations of Brentano's thesis about the relation between the psychological and the intentional: (1) all and only psychological sentences are intentional; (2) no psychological intentional sentence is equivalent to a nonintentional sentence. Chisholm also presents several definitions of intentionality. Some of these allow that a sentence is intentional while its negation is nonintentional, which ruins the prospects of defending the more plausible and interesting thesis (2). A generalization of the notion of logical independence (...) to any number of mutually independent sentences permits a revision of Chisholm's criteria of intentionality that ensures that a sentence is intentional on a criterion exactly when its negation is as well. (shrink)
To accommodate vague statements and predicates, I propose an infinite-valued, non-truth-functional interpretation of logic on which the tautologies are exactly the tautologies of classical two-valued logic. iI introduce a determinacy operator, analogous to the necessity operator in alethic modal logic, to allow the definition of first-order and higher-order borderline cases. On the interpretation proposed for determinacy, every statement corresponding to a theorem of modal system T is a logical truth, and I conjecture that every logical truth on the interpretation corresponds (...) to a theorem of T. the interpretation is extended to predicate logic. A borderline case of a predicate 'F’ is neither determinately F nor determinately not-F. Traditional sorites arguments are seen to fall apart early in their gradual stepwise passage from truth to falsity. (shrink)
The revival of virtue ethics is largely inspired by Aristotle, but few---especially Christians---follow him in seeing virtue supremely exemplified in the “magnanimous” man. However, Aristotle raises a matter of importance: the character traits and type of psychological stance exemplified in those who aspire to acts of extraordinary excellence. I explore the accounts of magnanimity found in both Aristotle and Aquinas, defending the intelligibility and acceptability of some central elements of a broadly Aristotelian conception of magnanimity. Aquinas, I argue, provides insight (...) into how Christian ethics may appropriate central elements of a broadly Aristotelian conception of extraordinary virtue. (shrink)
Many philosophic arguments concerned with infinite series depend on the mutual inconsistency of statements of the following five forms: (1) something exists which has R to something; (2) R is asymmetric; (3) R is transitive; (4) for any x which has R to something, there is something which has R to x; (5) only finitely many things are related by R. Such arguments are suspect if the two-place relation R in question involves any conceptual vagueness or inexactness. Traditional sorites arguments (...) show that a statement of form (4) can fail to be true even though it has no clear counter-example. Conceptual vagueness allows a finite series not to have any definite first member. I consider the speculative possibilities that there have been only finitely many non-overlapping hours although there has been no first hour and that space and time are only finitely divisible even though there are no smallest spatial or temporal intervals. (shrink)
According to John A Barker, whether an argument begs the question is purely a matter of logical form. According to me, it is also a matter of epistemic conditions; some arguments which beg the question in some contexts need not beg the question in every context. I point out difficulties in Barker's treatment and defend my own views against some of his criticisms. In the concluding section, "Alleged difficulties with disjunctive syllogism," I defend the validity of disjunctive syllogism against the (...) views of Alan Ross Anderson and Nuel D Belnap, Jr., ask pointed questions about the notion of intensional disjunction, and suggest how my treatment of begging the question can be extended to deal with the so-called paradoxes of strict implication. (shrink)
Unger claims that we can block sorites arguments for the conclusion that there are no ordinary things only by invoking some kind of miracle, but no such miracle is needed if we reject the principle that every statement has a truth value. Wheeler's argument for the nonexistence of ordinary things depends on the assumptions that if ordinary things exist, they comprise real kinds, and that if ordinary predicates really apply to things, the predicates refer to real properties. If we accept (...) Wheeler's criteria for the reality of kinds and properties, we have no good reason to accept these assumptions. (shrink)
The following statement (A) is usually abbreviated with symbols: (A) There are items X and Y, each is F, X is not identical to Y, and everything F is identical to X or is identical to Y. (A) is neither necessary nor sufficient for the existence of exactly two distinct things that are F. Some things are neither identical nor distinct. The difference between distinctness and nonidentity makes a difference in asking questions about counting, constitution, and persistence.
Naive mereology studies ordinary conceptions of part and whole. Parts, unlike portions, have objective boundaries and many things, such as dances and sermons have temporal parts. In order to deal with Mark Heller's claim that temporal parts "are ontologically no more or less basic than the wholes that they compose," we retell the story of Laplace's Genius, here named "Swifty." Although Swifty processes lots of information very quickly, his conceptual repertoire need not extend beyond fundamental physics. So we attempt to (...) follow Swifty's progress in the acquisition of ordinary concepts such as 'table'. (Puzzles of precision and intrusion appear along the way.) Swifty has to understand what tables are before understanding what temporal portions of tables are. This is one reason for regarding tables as ontologically prior to table portions. intrusion appear along the way.). (shrink)
In "Causes and "If P, Even If X, still Q," Philosophy 57 (July 1982), Ted Honderich cites my "The Direction of Causation and the Direction of Conditionship," journal of Philosophy 73 (April 22, 1976) as an example of an account of causal priority that lacks the proper character. After emending Honderich's description of the proper character, I argue that my attempt to account for one-way causation in terms of one-way causal conditionship does not totally lack it. Rather than emphasize the (...) singularity of an effect, as Honderich does, I emphasize the multiplicity of independent factors in a causal circumstance. (shrink)
Examples of sensory illusion show the failure of the attempt of traditional sense-datum theory to account for something's phenomenally appearing to be F by postulating the existence of a sense-datum that is actually F. the Muller-Lyer Illusion cannot be explained by postulating two sensibly presented lines that actually have the lengths the physical lines appear to have. Illusions due to color contrast cannot be explained by postulating sense-data that actually have the colors the physical samples appear to have.
Philosophers have had difficulty in explaining the difference between disjunctive and non-disjunctive predicates. Purely syntactical criteria are ineffective, and mention of resemblance begs the question. I draw the distinction by reference to relations between borderline cases. The crucial point about the disjoint predicate 'red or green', for example, is that no borderline case of 'red' is a borderline case of 'green'. Other varieties of disjunctive predicates are: inclusively disjunctive (such as 'red or hard'), disconnected (such as 'grue' on the usual (...) definitions), and skew (such as 'grue' on an emended definition). 'Green' is not a disjunctive predicate. Nelson Goodman's new riddle of induction elicits yet another response. (shrink)
Fred Dretske holds that if one knows something, one need not eliminate every alternative to it but only the relevant alternatives. Besides defending this view in "The Pragmatic Dimension of Knowledge" ("Phil. Stud.", 40, 363-378, n 81), he makes some tentative suggestions about determining when an alternative is relevant. I discuss these suggestions and conclude that there are problems yet to be solved. I do not conclude that there are insoluble problems or that Dretske's approach is on the wrong track. (...) It is, I believe, on the right track. (shrink)
The central text of this article is Thomas Reid’s response to Berkeley’s argument for distinguishing tangible from visual shape. Reid is right to hold that shape words do not have different visual and tangible meanings. We might also perceive shape, moreover, with senses other than touch and sight. As Reid also suggests, the visual perception of shape does not require perception of hue or brightness. Contrary to treatments of the Molyneux problem by H. P. Grice and Judith Jarvis Thomson, I (...) argue that breakdowns of a certain kind between tangible and visible shape are conceivable. (shrink)
Anastylosis is the reconstruction of a monument using the original fragments and filling in the missing parts with an easily distinguishable modern material. This long review of "The Fragmentation of Reason; Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation" (MIT, 1990) by Stephen P Stich reconstructs, while preserving their original shapes, the conceptions of reason, truth, and rationality that Stich attempts to shatter. The review agrees with Stich's Chapter 3 which is itself highly critical of some philosophical views about evolution (...) and rationality, and it disagrees with each of the other five chapters. Fanciful stories about food accompany and illustrate some of these disagreements. (shrink)
In "Time to Stop" (Analysis, 29,2, December 1968) Vernon Pratt argues that on a relativistic view of time the universe could not become static. He does not distinguish "it might be true at some time later than t that such-and-such is not the case" from "it might not be true that such-and-such is the case at some time later than t," and this distinction undermines his argument.
I revise J L Mackie's first account of casual direction by replacing his notion of "fixity" by a newly defined notion of "sufficing" that is designed to accommodate indeterminism. Keeping Mackie's distinction between casual order and casual direction, I then consider another revision that replaces "fixity" with "one-way conditionship". In response to the charge that all such accounts of casual priority beg the question by making an unjustified appeal to temporal priority, i maintain that one-way conditionship explains rather that assumes (...) objective temporal dependence as well as objective casual dependence. (shrink)
The cardinality of incompatible possibilities whose actuality requires at least N seconds exceeds the cardinality of disjoint intervals at least N seconds long. Therefore, not all logical possibilities can be actual in the long run, even if the long run is infinite.
Hume, in "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", holds (1) that all causal reasoning is based on experience and (2) that causal reasoning is based on nothing but experience. (1) does not imply (2), and Hume's good reasons for (1) are not good reasons for (2). This essay accepts (1) and argues against (2). A priori reasoning plays a role in causal inference. Familiar examples from Hume and from classroom examples of sudden disappearances and radical changes do not show otherwise. A (...) priori causal reasoning is closely related to understanding causal mechanisms. One uncovers the intelligibility of a causal process by understanding its mechanism. (shrink)
Wittgenstein remarks in the "Tractatus" that the eye is not in the visual field. I question the claim of Michael Dummett and P T Geach that reflection on this remark helps one conceive of an observer perceiving objects in space without having any location in that space. The literal meaning of "point of view" is illustrated by the visual field. Reflection on the fact that the point of view is not itself normally an object of sight is no help in (...) conceiving perception from no point of view. (shrink)
I defend my attempt to explain causal priority by means of one-way causal conditionship by answering an argument by J. A. Cover about Charles'' law. Then I attempt to say what makes a philosophical analysis a counterfactual analysis, so I can understand Cover''s claim that my account is at its base a counterfactual one. Finally I examine Cover''s discussion of my contention that necessary for in the circumstances is nontransitive.
Morton White proposes two patterns of expansion for sentences of the form "Possible (x is Q)" in "On What Could Have Happened" (Philosophical Review, 1968). His attempts in "Ands and Cans" (Mind, 1974) and in "Positive Freedom, Negative Freedom, and Possibility" (Journal of Philosophy, 1973) to simplify these two patterns and his argument for abandoning the first pattern are mistaken. Although I question a number of White's claims, my purpose is to improve his treatment of possibility rather than to refute (...) it. Our understanding of what constitutes "the same circumstances" largely determines whether a given condition is appropriately mentioned in a first-pattern expansion. This point helps support the form of compatibilism White advocates. (shrink)