Needs, Values, Truth brings together of some of the most important and influential writings by a leading contemporary philosopher, drawn from twenty-five years of his work in the broad area of the philosophy of value. The author ranges between problems of ethics, meta-ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of logic and language, looking at questions relating to meaning, truth and objectivity in judgements of value. For this third edition he has added a new essay on incommensurability, in addition to making (...) minor revisions to the existing text. The volume will stand as a definitive summation of his work in this area. (shrink)
Ryle’s account of practical knowing is much controverted. The paper seeks to place present disputations in a larger context and draw attention to the connection between Ryle’s preoccupations and Aristotle’s account of practical reason, practical intelligence, and the way in which human beings enter into the way of being and acting that Aristotle denominates ethos . Considering matters in this framework, the author finds inconclusive the arguments that Stanley and Williamson offer for seeing knowing how to as a special case (...) of knowing that. The paper then explores certain implications of the author’s position for the philosophy of mind and the grammatical analysis of constructions involving ‘know how to’. It ends with a neo-Rylean remark about Aristotelian nous. (shrink)
The paper takes off from the problem of finding a proper content for the relation of identity as it holds or fails to hold among ordinary things or substances. The necessary conditions of identity are familiar, the sufficient conditions less so. The search is for conditions at once better usable than the Leibnizian Identity of Indiscernibles (independently suspect) and strong enough to underwrite all the formal properties of the relation.It is contended that the key to this problem rests at the (...) level of metaphysics and epistemology alike with a sortalist position. Sortalism is the position which insists that, if the question is whether a and b are the same, it has to be asked what are they? Any sufficiently specific answer to that question will bring with it a principle of activity or functioning and a mode of behaviour characteristic of some particular kind of thing by reference to which questions of persistence or non-persistence through change can be adjudicated.These contentions are illustrated by reference to familiar examples such as the human zygote, the Ship of Theseus and Shoemaker's Brown-Brownson. The first example is hostage for a mass of unproblematical cases. The problems presented by the second and third sort of examples arise chiefly (it is claimed) from an incompleteness in our conceptions of the relevant sort—the what the thing in question is. That incompleteness need not prevent us from knowing perfectly well which thing we are referring to. In the concluding section, sortalism is defended against various accusations of anthropocentrism.The paper touches on the interpretation of Heraclitus, Leibniz's theory of clear indistinct ideas, the difficulties of David Lewis's ‘perdurantist’ or stroboscopic view of persistence, four-dimensionalism, and the relation of personal identity both to experiential memory and to the particular bodily physiognomy of a subject. At some points—as in connection with the so-called Only a and b rule—the paper corrects, supplements or extends certain theses or formulations proposed in the author's Sameness and Substance Renewed (2001). (shrink)
The purpose is to stage a dialogue between a pre-liberal conception of justice, represented by Aristotle as revived with the help of ideas of Lucas, Jouvenel and G. A. Cohen, and a liberal conception, as founded in Kant and refurbished, renewed and worked out in A Theory of Justice by John Rawls. Among the questions at issue are the roles of habit, disposition and formation; the nature of the dependency between the justice of the citizen of a polity and the (...) justice of the constitutional arrangements of the polity; the superior prospects of a piecemeal, bottom-up approach to justice or of a top-down, contractual approach; the remedial/restorative conception of justice versus more than merely remedial/restorative conceptions; tolerance of contingency; the propensity of liberal regimes to replace by managerial procedures more and more of the arrangements that previously entrusted important matters to the practical judgement of individuals; the multiplicity and diversity of the neo-Aristotelian requisites for a good polity versus the rather simpler demands of liberalism, which relate mostly to legitimacy; the idea of equality proper to a just and good polity; the closed, open enough, or completely open character of such a polity. (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 there-with 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)
If the theory advanced below is correct, then what is the difference (I know she [Philippa Foot]] will ask) between the moral must/must not and the must/must not of etiquette or the clubhouse? Looking forward to the conclusion I shall reach, let me reply, roughly and readily, that the difference will reside not in anything formal but in the depth, spread, and felt authority of the attachments to which the moral must/must not appeals-and categorically appeals.
1. Hilary Putnam's conception of ethics is not best understood as a form of , but as a position consequent upon the pragmatist understanding of the relation between truth and rational acceptability secondnesswe invent moral words for morally relevant features of situations, which lead to further refinements of our moral notions a shared way of living a moral image of the worldmoral reality’.
The author expounds critically Roderick Chisholm's theory of modal mereology and undertakes to redeploy and reconcile this with the Lesniewski-Tarski theory of part-whole, modally augmented. An argument is presented for the principle that what belongs to an aggregate as a part belongs essentially to it. This principle is argued not to imply that every part of an ordinary substance is essentially part of it (such substances not being aggregates), and to give no particular support to Roderick Chisholm's postulation of entia (...) successiva in substitution for ships, trees, and houses as ordinary conceived. Entia successiva are not good candidates for identification with these. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson offers a proof of the counterintuitive claim that, if an object exists, then it exists necessarily. David Wiggins argues that this result reveals the philosophical disadvantage of a first level (or ‘ticking over’) view of the very ‘exists’ and the advantage of the second level account offered by Frege and Russell. The author seeks to show how, using an idea of G. Evans but without the use of the resources of ‘free logic’, all occurrences of ‘exist’, including its (...) occurrence in true, negative existential, singular statements, can be accommodated to the Frege–Russell view and accorded the intuitively required modal status. (shrink)
1. There is a tendency nowadays for linguists, philosophers and other theorists of language, to dismiss the notion of an object like the English language or the Polish language as simply mythological or mythopoeic—as of no interest to any serious science of language. Some theorists even appear to deny that there are such things as languages . ‘This notion [of a public language] is unknown to empirical inquiry and raises what seem to be irresolvable problems’, Chomsky said in a lecture (...) he gave recently in London. (shrink)
The paper seeks to interpret and then to criticize Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus paragraph 6.4 to 7, connecting this so-called mystical section with the “Lecture on Ethics” given in Cambridge in 1929, the Notebooks, and a passage in the Big Typescript. Interpretive and critical efforts focus on the claims: that if having intrinsic value, good or evil, is nothing zufällig, then its basis is nothing in the world; that value can only enter through the willing subject; that “how things are in (...) the world is a matter of indifference for what is higher”. Concerning, it is proposed that the zufällig is here that which simply or merely happens. The argument for rests on Wittgenstein's misconception of the categorical. It is remarked that and result in a philosophy of life that is unliveable. Witness the travails of Wittgenstein's own life and his struggle to “get over a particular fact”. Finally will even undermine, which is in any case fatally ambiguous. In conclusion, it is suggested that both the stresses and strains that are induced within the Tractatus itself by its circumscription of the sayable and the difficulties of can be overcome within Wittgenstein's later philosophy, but in ways already prefigured in the doctrine of “showing” as that appears in both Tractatus and “Lecture on Ethics”. (shrink)
I. The development of the earth has not progressed in the way that Leibniz so hopefully envisaged three hundred years ago. Late twentieth century disillusion demonstrated by citation. II-IV. In making sense of that disillusion it is a good beginning to abstain from speculative extravagance and simply to bring the human scale of values to bear; then to inquire how far the destruction of that which we prize has been gratuitous or economically subsidized. The human scale of values is not (...) a scale of exclusively human values. It gives no licence to the instrumentalist attitude. V. The swallow or the lapwing in Cambridgeshire as a value recognized by the human scale of values, but misrepresented by many forms of economic analysis. The off-colour presuppositions of the question 'Can we afford to save the swallow in Cambridgeshire?' Will the natural framework be preserved for meaningful life, or will human beings face an aeon of inanition? VI. Every departure from policies of 'sustainability' to be justified by dire need. Incommensurability in the theory of practical reason, and in possible forms of politics. John Stuart Mill on a world with 'nothing left to the spontaneous activity of Nature'. VII. 'Nature' explicated by the use of three contrasts proposed by Hume. VIII. Respect for Nature? Roman religio and its secular-cum-precautionary counterpart. In risk analysis, are there moral asymmetries between assurable satisfaction of vital needs and probable provision of future benefits? Analogous asymmetries with respect to the reasonableness of the reliance on Nature under normal conditions and under radically altered conditions. (shrink)
This article first recounts the history of the truth‐conditional conception of meaning from Frege to the present day, emphasizing both points that are neglected in receidev accounts of this history and points of permanent philosophical interest. It then concludes with a review of certain current objections to the truth‐conditional conception and seeks to answer the difficulties pressed by Stephen Schiffer in Remnants of Meaning, offering certain fresh considerations upon the question what it is for two speech action to representent the (...) saying of the same thing. (shrink)
1. I begin with a citation from Our Final Century . Its author is Sir Martin Rees, the current President of the Royal Society. A race of scientifically advanced extra-terrestrials watching our solar system could confidently [have predicted] that Earth would face doom in another 6 billion years, when the sun in its death throes swells up into a ‘red giant’ and vaporizes everything remaining on our planet's surface. But could they have predicted this unprecedented spasm [visible already] less than (...) half way through Earth's life – these million human-induced alterations occupying, overall, less than a millionth of our planet's elapsed lifetime and seemingly occurring with runaway speed? …. It may not be absurd hyperbole – indeed, it may not be an overstatement – to assert that the most crucial location in space and time could be here and now. I think that the odds are no better than 50-50 that our present civilization on Earth will survive to the end of the present century without a serious setback…. Our choices and actions could ensure the perpetual future of life… or, in contrast, through malign intent or through misadventure, misdirected technology could jeopardize life's potential, foreclosing its human and post-human future. (shrink)