In this paper, I motivate skepticism about the causal efficacy of moral properties in two ways. First, I highlight a tension that arises between two claims that moral realists may want to accept. The first claim is that physically indistinguishable things do not differ in any causally efficacious respect. The second claim is that physically indistinguishable things that differ in certain historical respects have different moral properties. The tension arises to the extent to which these different moral properties are supposed (...) to have different effects on people. I will introduce a class of cases in which this tension arises and suggest that the moral properties in these cases have no causal power. I will also question whether there are differences between the moral properties in these cases and moral properties in other cases that do not involve physically indistinguishable things that could make the latter moral properties causally efficacious. The second way that I motivate skepticism consists in pointing out a unique feature of cases in which moral properties are supposed both to supervene on historical properties and to be causally efficacious. These cases allow us to change moral properties with alleged effects while we hold constant the nonmoral candidates for causal contribution to those effects. This feature of these cases is unique because in most other cases the moral properties supervene on the physical properties in the nonmoral candidates, such that we cannot change the former while holding constant the latter. This way of changing moral properties provides empirical grounds for testing their causal efficacy. (shrink)
Many people argue that history makes a special difference to the subjects of biology and psychology, and that history does not make this special difference to other parts of the world. This paper will show that historical properties make no more or less of a difference to biology or psychology than to chemistry, physics, or other sciences. Although historical properties indeed make a certain kind of difference to biology and psychology, this paper will show that historical properties make the same (...) kind of difference to geology, sociology, astronomy, and other sciences. Similarly, many people argue that nonhistorical properties make a special difference to the nonbiological and the nonpsychological world. This paper will show that nonhistorical properties make the same difference to all things in the world when it comes to their causal behavior and that historical properties make the same difference to all things in the world when it comes to their distributions. Although history is special, it is special in the same way to all parts of the world. (shrink)
We show that every two-dimensional class of topological similarity, and hence every diagonal conjugacy class of pairs, is meager in the group of order preserving bijections of the rationale and in the group of automorphisms of the ordered rational Urysohn space.
Leonid Martynov and Boris Slutsky began to write during Stalin's reign and were aware of the contemporary official pressure to make literature more broadly accessible as well as of the highly experimental, and thus more difficult, poetry that had come into vogue during the years leading up to the Bolshevik revolution. Martynov's response was to create verse marked by ambiguity; he employs the graphic layout and internal rhyme to avoid predictability and easy interpretation, especially in a poem's opening lines. (...)Slutsky, in contrast, often lacks the sense of rhythmic order that usually emerges in Martynov's poems. He may disrupt the rhythm unexpectedly or vary it so frequently that no overarching pattern appears. Both, whether by unsettling the rhythm or complicating its perception, manage to recall the freer and more experimental artistic milieu of the early twentieth century. (shrink)
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)
This classic edition presents the correspondence of one of the great thinkers of the 18th century, and offers a rich picture of the man and his age. This first volume contains David Hume's letters from 1727 to 1765. Hume's correspondents include such famous public figures as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, James Boswell, and Benjamin Franklin.
In 'How Many Lives Has Schrödinger's Cat?' David Lewis argues that the Everettian no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is in a tangle when it comes to probabilities. This paper aims to show that the difficulties that Lewis raises are insubstantial. The Everettian metaphysics contains a coherent account of probability. Indeed it accounts for probability rather better than orthodox metaphysics does.
David and Mary Norton present the definitive scholarly edition of Hume's Treatise, one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. This set comprises the two volumes of texts and editorial material, which are also available for purchase separately. -/- David Hume (1711 - 1776) is one of the greatest of philosophers. Today he probably ranks highest of all British philosophers in terms of influence and philosophical standing. His philosophical work ranges across morals, the mind, metaphysics, epistemology, religion, and (...) aesthetics; he had broad interests not only in philosophy as it is now conceived but in history, politics, economics, religion, and the arts. He was a master of English prose. -/- The Clarendon Hume Edition will include all of his works except his History of England and minor historical writings. It is the only thorough critical edition, and will provide a far more extensive scholarly treatment than any previous editions. This edition (which has been in preparation since the 1970s) offers authoritative annotation, bibliographical information, and indexes, and draws upon the major advances in textual scholarship that have been made since the publication of earlier editions - advances both in the understanding of editorial principle and practice and in knowledge of the history of Hume's own texts. (shrink)
This essay explains the inescapability of moral demands. I deny that the individual has genuine reason to comply with these demands only if she has desires that would be served by doing so. Rather, the learning of moral reasons helps to shape and channel self- and other-interested motivations so as to facilitate and promote social cooperation. This shaping happens through the “embedding” of reasons in the intentional objects of motivational propensities. The dominance of the instrumental conception of reason, according to (...) which reasons must be based in desires of the individual, has made it harder to recognize that reasons shape desires. I attempt to undermine this dominance by arguing that the concept of a self that extends over time is constructed to meet the demands of social cooperation. Prudential reasons to act on behalf of the persisting self's desires are often taken to constitute the paradigm of reasons based on desires of the individual. But such reasons, along with the very concept of the persisting self, are constructed to promote human cooperation and to shape the individual's desires. (shrink)
Locke defined a person as ‘a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places” . To many who have been excited by the same thought as Locke, continuity of consciousness has seemed to be an integral part of what we mean by a person. The intuitive appeal of the idea that to secure the continuing identity of a person one experience must flow into the next (...) experience in some ‘stream of consciousoness” is evidenced by the number of attempts in the so-called constructionalist tradition to explain continuity of consciousness in terms of memory, and then build or reconstruct the idea of a person with these materials. The philosophical difficulty of the idea is plain from the failure of these attempts. Hindsight suggests this was as inevitable as the failure of the attempt to make bricks from straw alone—and as a failure just as uninteresting. Which is not to deny that the memory theorist might get from it a sense that some of the difficulties in his programme have arisen from his leaving flesh and bones, the stuff of persons, out of his construction. (shrink)
The great variousness and plurality of goodness has given comfort to general scepticism about values and a multitude of metaethical attitudes or predilections. But is this variousness and plurality really the hotch-potch it has appeared? The paper recapitulates and expands von Wright's typology of the varieties of goodness and looks to explain the order or system that underlies the phenomena by developing and extending a conjecture of Aristotle's, the so-called ‘focal hypothesis’, and combining therewith a suggestion of von Wright's, to (...) the effect that the central case of something good is the faring well of a being. By means of focal hypothesis, one may account fairly well for medical, technical, instrumental, beneficial and utilitarian goodness. Other varieties such as hedonic and ethical goodness complicate the picture, as also do all cases where it seems that an antecedent kind of goodness impinges upon a being. These complications mirror in part the finding that the human scale of values is not a scale exclusively of human values. (shrink)
Oxford Philosophical Texts Series Editor: John Cottingham The Oxford Philosophical Texts series consists of authoritative teaching editions of canonical texts in the history of philosophy from the ancient world down to modern times. Each volume provides a clear, well laid out text together with a comprehensive introduction by a leading specialist, giving the student detailed critical guidance on the intellectual context of the work and the structure and philosophical importance of the main arguments. Endnotes are supplied which provide further commentary (...) on the arguments and explain unfamiliar references and terminology, and a full bibliography and index are also included. The series aims to build up a definitive corpus of key texts in the Western philosophical tradition, which will form a reliable and enduring resource for students and teachers alike. David Hume's aim in writing An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding was to introduce his philosophy to a European culture in which many educated people read original works of philosophy. He gives an elegant and accessible presentation of strikingly original and challenging views about the limited powers of human understanding, the attractions of scepticism, the compatibility of free will and determinism, and weaknesses in the foundations of religion. Hume's philosophy was highly controversial in the eighteenth century and remains so today. The text printed in this edition is that of the Clarendon critical edition of Hume's works. A substantial introduction by the editor explains the intellectual background to the work and surveys its main themes. The volume also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that the normativity of conceptual judgement poses problems for naturalism. Thus John McDowell urges that 'The structure of the space of reasons stubbornly resists being appropriated within a naturalism that conceives nature as the realm of law' (1994, p 73). Similar sentiments have been expressed by many other writers, for example Robert Brandom (1994, p xiii) and Paul Boghossian (1989, p 548).
David Enoch develops, argues for, and defends a strongly realist and objectivist view of ethics and normativity more broadly. This view--according to which there are perfectly objective, universal, moral and other normative truths that are not in any way reducible to other, natural truths--is familiar, but this book is the first in-detail development of the positive motivations for the view into reasonably precise arguments. And when the book turns to defend Robust Realism against traditional objections, it mobilizes the original (...) positive arguments for the view to help with fending off the objections. (shrink)
David Wallace argues that we should take quantum theory seriously as an account of what the world is like--which means accepting the idea that the universe is constantly branching into new universes. He presents an accessible but rigorous account of the 'Everett interpretation', the best way to make coherent sense of quantum physics.
The book is an extended study of the problem of consciousness. After setting up the problem, I argue that reductive explanation of consciousness is impossible , and that if one takes consciousness seriously, one has to go beyond a strict materialist framework. In the second half of the book, I move toward a positive theory of consciousness with fundamental laws linking the physical and the experiential in a systematic way. Finally, I use the ideas and arguments developed earlier to defend (...) a form of strong artificial intelligence and to analyze some problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
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)
Does morality override self-interest? Or does self-interest override morality? These questions become important in situations where there is conflict between the overall verdicts of morality and self-interest, situations where morality on balance requires an action that is contrary to our self-interest, or where considerations of self-interest on balance call for an action that is forbidden by morality. In situations of this kind, we want to know what we ought simpliciter to do. If one of these standpoints over-rides the other, then (...) there is a straightforward answer. We ought simpliciter to act on the verdict of the overriding standpoint. For purposes of this essay, I assume that there are possible cases in which the overall verdicts of morality and self-interest conflict. I will call cases of this kind “conflict cases.” The verdict of morality in a conflict case would be a proposition as to what we ought morally to do, or as to what we have the most moral reason to do; the verdict of self-interest would be a proposition as to what we ought to do in our self-interest, or as to what action is best supported by reasons or considerations of self-interest. These propositions are action-guiding or normative in a familiar sense. The conflict between morality and self-interest in conflict cases is there-fore a normative conflict; it is a conflict between the overall verdicts of different normative standpoints. I take it that the question of whether morality overrides self-interest is the question of whether the verdicts of morality are normatively more important than the verdicts of self-interest. In due course, I will explain the idea of normative importance as well as the ideas of a normative proposition and of a reason. (shrink)
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)
David B. Wong proposes that there can be a plurality of true moralities, moralities that exist across different traditions and cultures, all of which address facets of the same problem: how we are to live well together. Wong examines a wide array of positions and texts within the Western canon as well as in Chinese philosophy, and draws on philosophy, psychology, evolutionary theory, history, and literature, to make a case for the importance of pluralism in moral life, and to (...) establish the virtues of acceptance and accommodation. Wong's point is that there is no single value or principle or ordering of values and principles that offers a uniquely true path for human living, but variations according to different contexts that carry within them a common core of human values. We should thus be modest about our own morality, learn from other approaches, and accommodate different practices in our pluralistic society. (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)
In this book, which thoroughly revises and greatly expands his classic work Sameness and Substance, David Wiggins retrieves and refurbishes in the light of twentieth-century logic and logical theory certain conceptions of identity, of substance and of persistence through change that philosophy inherits from its past. In this new version, he vindicates the absoluteness, necessity, determinateness and all or nothing character of identity against rival conceptions. He defends a form of essentialism that he calls individuative essentialism, and then a (...) form of realism that he calls conceptualist realism. In a final chapter he advocates a human being-based conception of the identity and individuation of persons, arguing that any satisfactory account of personal memory must make reference to the life of the rememberer himself. This important book will appeal to a wide range of readers in metaphysics, philosophical logic, and analytic philosophy. (shrink)