According to dispositionalism about modality, a proposition <p> is possible just in case something has, or some things have, a power or disposition for its truth; and <p> is necessary just in case nothing has a power for its falsity. But are there enough powers to go around? In Yates (2015) I argued that in the case of mathematical truths such as <2+2=4>, nothing has the power to bring about their falsity or their truth, which means they come out (...) both necessary and not possible. Combining this with axiom (T), it is easy to derive a contradiction. I suggested that dispositionalists ought to retreat a little and say that <p> is possible just in case either p, or there is a power to bring it about that p, grounding the possibility of mathematical propositions in their truth rather than in powers. Vetter’s (2015) has the resources to provide a response to my argument, and in her (2018) she explicitly addresses it by arguing for a plenitude of powers, based on the idea that dispositions come in degrees, with necessary properties a limiting case of dispositionality. On this view there is a power for <2+2=4>, without there being a power to bring about its truth. In this paper I argue that Vetter’s case for plenitude does not work. However, I suggest, if we are prepared to accept metaphysical causation, a case can be made that there is indeed a power for <2+2=4>. (shrink)
Placing Bruno—both advanced philosopher and magician burned at the stake—in the Hermetic tradition, Yates's acclaimed study gives an overview not only of Renaissance humanism but of its interplay—and conflict—with magic and occult practices. "Among those who have explored the intellectual world of the sixteenth century no one in England can rival Miss Yates. Wherever she looks, she illuminates. Now she has looked on Bruno. This brilliant book takes time to digest, but it is an intellectual adventure to read (...) it. Historians of ideas, of religion, and of science will study it. Some of them, after reading it, will have to think again.... For Miss Yates has put Bruno, for the first time, in his tradition, and has shown what that tradition was."—Hugh Trevor-Roper, _New Statesman_ "A decisive contribution to the understanding of Giordano Bruno, this book will probably remove a great number of misrepresentations that still plague the tormented figure of the Nolan prophet."—Giorgio de Santillana, _American Historical Review_ "Yates's book is an important addition to our knowledge of Giordano Bruno. But it is even more important, I think, as a step toward understanding the unity of the sixteenth century."—J. Bronowski, _New York Review of Books_. (shrink)
Drew M. Dalton: Longing for the other: Levinas and metaphysical desire Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11007-012-9216-y Authors Christopher Yates, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
Yates reviews Janicaud’s critique in its first iteration, then observes what the emphases of its later form indicate about the kind of phenomenology he propounds. The paper highlights the contours of Janicuad's rigorous “minimalism,” his qualified “atheism,” and the peculiar manner in which his self-described pursuit of phenomenological “possibilities” is propelled by his rejection of theological possibilities. The author questions the selective appropriation of Husserl in Janicaud’s adherence to phenomenality and neutrality by underlining ambiguities within Husserl’s early focus on (...) intuition and the now famous bracketing of “transcendence” and/or “God” set forth in. (shrink)
Frances Yates, leading Renaissance scholar of her time, revolutionised the study of art, science and ideas. She was a pioneer in her emphasis on visual culture, Fellow of the British Academy, and a remarkable twentieth century philosopher. This set provides immediate access to the work of this very important late twentieth century philosopher.
Christopher Yates explores how two of Walker Percy’s seminal texts call us to practice self-examination in a way that seeks to overcome deceptive clarities in our lives. It is misguided, he argues, to read the texts as ventures in surrealist exploration or pietistic moralizing. Instead, LG and LC are one project that centers on the predicament of human finitude by way of three phenomena: the dialogical unfolding of subjectivity and truth, the ethical summons of alterity, and the conversion of (...) human inauthenticity to reflective dwelling. Yates makes his case by reading Percy’s works through the lens of philosophers Mikhail Bakhtin, Emmanuel Levinas, and Martin Heidegger. This approach fills a gap in Percy scholarship by explaining and securing the interrogative arc between Gentleman and Cosmos, and appreciating how Percy’s works enliven phenomenological accounts of human identity and knowledge. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists argue that physical properties have their causal roles essentially. This is typically taken to mean that physical properties are identical to dispositions. I argue that this is untenable, and that we must instead say that properties bestow dispositions. I explore what it is for a property to have such a role essentially. Dispositional essentialists argue for their view by citing certain epistemological and metaphysical implications, and I appeal to these implications to place desiderata on the concept of essence (...) involved. I argue that the traditional modal theory of essence meets these desiderata, but that the resulting theory wrongly implies that certain dispositions essential to mass are essential to charge, thereby offering a new argument against modal theories of essence. I argue that dispositional essentialism requires a primitive notion of essence, and develop a primitivist theory based on Kit Fine's views. I show that the primitivist theory has all the virtues of the modal alternative, and none of the vices. I develop a novel way of thinking about the relationship between properties, laws and dispositions, and argue that it has distinct advantages over standard dispositional essentialist formulations. (shrink)
The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causal argument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist accounts of properties are better (...) equipped to sustain the distinction than dispositional essentialist accounts. Finally, I argue that the additional evidence needed for strong completeness renders the causal argument otiose for any properties amenable to scientific reduction. (shrink)
Given their physical realization, what causal work is left for functional properties to do? Humean solutions to the exclusion problem (e.g. overdetermination and difference-making) typically appeal to counterfactual and/or nomic relations between functional property-instances and behavioural effects, tacitly assuming that such relations suffice for causal work. Clarification of the notion of causal work, I argue, shows not only that such solutions don't work, but also reveals a novel solution to the exclusion problem based on the relations between dispositional properties at (...) different levels of mechanism, which involves three central claims: (i) the causal work of properties consists in grounding dispositions, (ii) functional properties are dispositions, and (iii) the dispositions of mechanisms are grounded in the dispositions of their components. Treating functional mental properties as dispositions of components in psychological mechanisms, I argue that such properties do the causal work of grounding agent-level dispositions. These dispositions, while ultimately grounded in the physical realizers of mental properties, are indirectly so grounded, through a hierarchy of grounding relations that extends upwards, of necessity, through the mental domain. (shrink)
The Clinical Ethics Credentialing Project (CECP) was intiated in 2007 in response to the lack of uniform standards for both the training of clinical ethics consultants, and for evaluating their work as consultants. CECP participants, all practicing clinical ethics consultants, met monthly to apply a standard evaluation instrument, the “QI tool”, to their consultation notes. This paper describes, from a qualitative perspective, how participants grappled with applying standards to their work. Although the process was marked by resistance and disagreement, it (...) was also noteworthy for the sustained engagement by participants over the year of the project, and a high level of acceptance by its conclusion. (shrink)
In recent essays, Jürgen Habermas endorses an account of political liberalism much like John Rawls'. Like Rawls, he argues that laws and public policies should be justified only in neutral terms, i.e. in terms of reasons that people holding conflicting world-views could accept. Habermas also, much like Rawls, distinguishes reasonable religious citizens, whose views should be included in public discourse, from unreasonable citizens in his expectation that religious citizens self-modernize. But in sharing these Rawlsian features, Habermas is vulnerable to some (...) of the same objections posed to Rawls. In this article I assess Habermas' ability to overcome two objections frequently posed to Rawls: (1) that religious citizens are unfairly expected to split their identities in public discourse, and (2) that the burdens of citizenship are asymmetrically distributed. I conclude that while he may be able to overcome the second, the first remains a problem for him. (shrink)
The paper covers a range of topics of recent interest in relation to response-depdendence: its characterisation in terms of 'basic equations', its application to areas such as ethics, colour theory and philosophy of mind, and the 'missing explanation' argument.
OBJECTIVES: To study the resources available and resources needed for ethics teaching to medical students in UK medical schools as required by the new GMC core curriculum. DESIGN: A structured questionnaire was piloted and then circulated to deans of medical schools. SETTING: All UK medical schools. RESULTS: Eighteen out of 28 schools completed the questionnaire, the remainder either indicating that their arrangements were "under review" (4) or not responding (6). Among those responding: 1) library resources, including video and information technology (...) were found to be fairly well developed; 2) many schools had a good supply of handouts and sample cases for teaching; 3) most had a written syllabus, and 4) two-thirds examined in the subject. However, many schools indicated that there was an urgent need for: 1) full-time teachers (most ethics teaching is still by part-time and voluntary staff); funding for books and journals, and 3) additional teaching materials (including further case vignettes, handouts and sample exam questions). CONCLUSIONS: There has been a considerable overall improvement in resources for medical ethics teaching since the time of the last national survey (The Pond Report). However, provision varies widely from medical school to medical school. The particular needs identified were for full-time teachers, library resources and teaching materials. Wider use of existing organisations concerned with medical ethics could help to meet these needs. (shrink)
This paper has a threefold purpose: first, to criticize the customary application of Hohfeld’s theory of rights to Hobbes’s juridical/political theory that reduces all Hobbesian rights to Hohfeldian privileges; second, to defend the appropriateness of a proper application of a Hohfeldian analysis of rights to Hobbes’s theory by responding to criticisms offered by Eleanor Curran; and, lastly, to reveal the value a Hohfeldian analysis offers in clarifying a Hobbesian right that has been generally misunderstood in the literature. I argue that (...) a Hohfeldian analysis helps make sense of the complex juridical relationships between the sovereign, the perpetrator of crime, and the victim of crime involved in Hobbes’s treatment of the sovereign’s right to punish. (shrink)
Based primarily on his 1981-1982 course, The Hermeneutics of the Subject , I contend that Michel Foucault’s robust treatment of ancient models for self-salvation answers his systematic problem of a lost spiritual art of living primarily through a sustained dichotomy between the Hellenistic-Roman and Christian models of conversion. In this way his intended recovery of an aesthetic-ascetic spiritual “resistance” is accomplished through a methodology of resistance. He relies on an accelerating arrangement of polarities between the aim and practice of immanent (...) self-return and what he takes to be the coercive discourses of transcendent self-renunciation. Though such historiography may raise questions for some readers, my aim is simply to show how, for Foucault, the dichotomizing is necessary for grounding his own understanding of the art of ”conversion.”. (shrink)
This note criticizes the political consequences Feyerabend draws from his ?epistemological anarchism?. Democratic relativism holds that since no traditions are ?true?, all must be given equal status in a free society. A basic protective structure is required, though, to keep the various institutions from overwhelming one another. I argue that Feyerabend provides no assurance that the protective structure would not be taken over by particular institutions; parallel problems exist for education. Hence Feyerabend's proposal is unworkable in principle. Furthermore it is (...) undesirable since members of traditions would not wish to have their beliefs regarded as ?one set among many?. The pluralism Feyerabend wants already exists naturally in nontotalitarian societies; hence the institutionalization of pluralism is unnecessary and would do more harm than good. (shrink)
Various facets of the MBI are discussed, and how it can be used in connection with experimental philosophy, experimental psychology and neuroscience. Brief historical references are given. The large implications of the MBI with regards to McTaggart's paradox and the resolution of the difficulties with quantum mechanics is mentioned. Later sections deal with the mereological fallacy, multiple universes, teletransportation, mind cloning and mind splitting. Dreamwork is chosen as a prime example of the use of the MBI and recent work by (...) Tononi and Baars is referred to. (shrink)
C. Fred Alford contends that the manner in which I objected to Feyerabend's democratic relativism is vulnerable to Feyerabend's rhetorical strategy, and that a better strategy would be to show that Feyerabend fails to demonstrate that democratic relativism is desirable. I reply in defense of the ?plausibility? issue on the grounds that Feyerabend's theory lends itself to uses (and abuses) beyond Utopian critique (in Alford's sense). I argue that it is the fact that critics ? myself included ? have assumed (...) the burden of demonstrating the impossibility of Feyerabend's political theory that has led to the stalemate Alford describes, and that we may retain the ?plausibility? question while avoiding the stalemate by placing the burden of argument on Feyerabend to show that his theory is plausible. (shrink)
McTaggart's ideas on the unreality of time as expressed in "The Nature of Existence" have retained great interest for many years for scholars, academics and other philosophers. In this essay, there is a brief discussion which mentions some of the high points of this philosophical interest, and goes on to apply his ideas to modern physics and neuroscience. It does not discuss McTaggart's C and D series, but does emphasise how the use of derived versions of both his A and (...) B series can be of great virtue in discussing both the abstract physics of time, and the present and future importance of McTaggart's ideas to the subject of time. Indeed an experiment using human volunteers and dynamic systems modelling which was carried out is described, which illustrates this fact. The Many Bubble Interpretation, which also derives from McTaggart's ideas, is discussed and various examples of its use and effectiveness are referred to. The Schrodinger Cat paradox is essentially resolved in principle, the quantum Zeno effect interpretable, Kwiat's recent result referred to, and the newly discovered reverse Stickgold effect described. (shrink)