This chapter describes the different strategies used by climate change “skeptics” and other denialists, outlining the links between new and “traditional” pseudosciences. It first discusses groups with ideologies or belief systems that they sincerely hold for religious or political reasons, ideologies that lead to denial of any reality that conflicts with their worldview. It then describes a second category of science deniers: people who recognize reality but, for political or economic reasons, do all they can to obscure that reality. The (...) most famous such example is the case of the tobacco companies, but the same considerations apply to energy companies cynically funding right-wing global warming denialists and many other examples. The chapter concludes by asking, whom can we trust on issues of science and pseudoscience? (shrink)
I was recently on an NPR program with skeptic Michael Shermer and paleontologist DonaldProthero to discuss intelligent design. As the discussion unfolded, it became clear that they were using the phrase "intelligent design" in a way quite different from how the emerging intelligent design community is using it.
Benefit/cost analysis is a technique for evaluating programs, procedures, and actions; it is not a moral theory. There is significant controversy over the moral justification of benefit/cost analysis. When a procedure for evaluating social policy is challenged on moral grounds, defenders frequently seek a justification by construing the procedure as the practical embodiment of a correct moral theory. This has the apparent advantage of avoiding difficult empirical questions concerning such matters as the consequences of using the procedure. So, for example, (...) defenders of benefit/cost analysis are frequently tempted to argue that this procedure just is the calculation of moral Tightness – perhaps that what it means for an action to be morally right is just for it to have the best benefit-to-cost ratio given the accounts of “benefit” and “cost” that BCA employs. They suggest, in defense of BCA, that they have found the moral calculus – Bentham's “unabashed arithmetic of morals.” To defend BCA in this manner is to commit oneself to one member of a family of moral theories and, also, to the view that if a procedure is the direct implementation of a correct moral theory, then it is a justified procedure. Neither of these commitments is desirable, and so the temptation to justify BCA by direct appeal to a B/C moral theory should be resisted; it constitutes an unwarranted short cut to moral foundations – in this case, an unsound foundation. Critics of BCA are quick to point out the flaws of B/C moral theories, and to conclude that these undermine the justification of BCA. But the failure to justify BCA by a direct appeal to B/C moral theory does not show that the technique is unjustified. There is hope for BCA, even if it does not lie with B/C moral theory. (shrink)
Like many people these days, I believe there is no general moral obligation to obey the law. I shall explain why there is no such moral obligation – and I shall clarify what I mean when I say there is no moral obligation to obey the law – as we proceed. But also like many people, I am unhappy with a position that would say there was no moral obligation to obey the law and then say no more about the (...) law's moral significance. In our thinking about law in a resonably just society, we have a strong inclination to invest law with a sort of moral halo. It does not feel right to suggest that law is a morally neutral social fact, nor to suggest that law is merely a useful social technique. In this essay, I shall try to account in part for law's moral halo. Because I share the widespread inclination to invest law with this halo, I shall not be interested in a merely historical account of how we come to see law with a halo – a pure “error theory” of law's halo, if you will. I want to justify the halo. On the other hand, the main way to justify the halo is to get clear just what law's moral significance is. It is unlikely that at the end of the process of clarification the halo will have exactly the shape or luminance that it had at the beginning. (shrink)
John Maynard Keynes, in a biographical essay that is as remarkable for the insight it provides into his own thinking as for what it says about its subject, described the trajectory of Malthus's intellectual career as follows: ‘from being a caterpillar of a moral scientist and chrysalis of an historian, he could at last spread the wings of his thought and survey the world as an economist’. Malthus himself had resisted this conclusion in the introduction to his Principles of Political (...) Economy — meant as a riposte to David Ricardo's way of proceeding — when he stated that ‘the science of political economy bears a nearer resemblance to the science of morals and politics than to that of mathematics’. For understandable reasons, however, some modern economists find Keynes's characterization more attractive, particularly when it also allows them to regret the fact that the free flight of the positive economist in Malthus was often impeded by historical and moral residues left over from earlier existences. By adopting this position they are able to discount awkward problems relating to the historical origins and professional identity of their discipline — those problems connected with Malthus's religious beliefs and theological standpoint that have to be confronted when his explicit claims as a Christian moral scientist are taken seriously. Lack of sympathy on the part of economists when faced with the moral and theological dimensions of Malthus's writings has a long history that goes back to Ricardo, who criticized his friend's confusion, as he saw it, of moral and economic considerations. James Mill, as always, was more outspoken in regretting the intellectual fetters that inevitably went with Malthus's clerical status. Some economic demographers, in modern times, have also criticized Malthus for intermingling ‘moralistic and scientific aims almost inextricably’, thereby imparting what they regard as an untestable or tautological air to his exposition of the population principle. (shrink)
The concept of metaphor as primarily a vehicle for conveying ideas, even if unusual ones, seems to me as wrong as the parent idea that a metaphor has a special meaning. I agree with the view that metaphors cannot be paraphrased, but I think this is not because metaphors say something too novel for literal expression but because there is nothing there to paraphrase. Paraphrase, whether possible or not, inappropriate to what is said: we try, in paraphrase, to say it (...) another way. But if I am right, a metaphor doesn't say anything beyond its literal meaning . This is not, of course, to deny that a metaphor has a point, nor that that point can be brought out by using further words. . . . My disagreement is with the explanation of how metaphor works its wonders. To anticipate: I depend on the distinction between what words mean and what they are used to do. I think metaphor belongs exclusively to the domain of use. It is something brought off by the imaginative employment of words and sentences and depends entirely on the ordinary meanings of those words and hence on the ordinary meanings of the sentences they comprise. Donald Davidson is University Professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many important essays, including "Actions, Reasons and Causes," "Causal Relations," and "Truth and Meaning," coauthor of Decision-Making: An Experimental Approach, and coeditor of Words and Objections, Semantics of Natural Language, and The Logic of Grammar. (shrink)
David Hume is famous as a sceptical philosopher but the nature of his scepticism is difficult to pin down. Hume's True Scepticism provides the first sustained interpretation of Part 4 of Book 1 of Hume's Treatise: his deepest engagement with sceptical arguments, in which he notes that, while reason shows that we ought not to believe the verdicts of reason or the senses, we do so nonetheless. Donald C. Ainslie addresses Hume's theory of representation; his criticisms of Locke, Descartes, (...) and other predecessors; his account of the imagination; his understanding of perceptions and sensory belief; and his bundle theory of the mind and his later rejection of it. (shrink)
Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson. Davidson 's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson 's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth (...) century. (shrink)
The work of Donald Davidson (1917-2003) transformed the study of meaning. Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on Davidson's work, present the definitive study of his widely admired and influential program of truth-theoretic semantics for natural languages, giving an exposition and critical examination of its foundations and applications.
According to many commentators, Davidson’s earlier work on philosophy of action and truth-theoretic semantics is the basis for his reputation, and his later forays into broader metaphysical and epistemological issues, and eventually into what became known as the triangulation argument, are much less successful. This book by two of his former students aims to change that perception. In Part One, Verheggen begins by providing an explanation and defense of the triangulation argument, then explores its implications for questions concerning semantic normativity (...) and reductionism, the social character of language and thought, and skepticism about the external world. In Part Two, Myers considers what the argument can tell us about reasons for action, and whether it can overcome skeptical worries based on claims about the nature of motivation, the sources of normativity and the demands of morality. The book reveals Davidson’s later writings to be full of innovative and important ideas that deserve much more attention than they are currently receiving. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's work has been of seminal importance in the development of analytic philosophy and his views on the nature of language, mind and action remain the starting point for many of the central debates in the analytic tradition. His ideas, however, are complex, often technical, and interconnected in ways that can make them difficult to understand. This introduction to Davidson's philosophy examines the full range of his writings to provide a clear succinct overview of his ideas. This book (...) begins with an account of the assumptions and structure of Davidson's philosophy of language, introducing his compositionalism, extensionalism and commitment to a Tarski-style theory of truth as the model for theories of meaning. It goes on to show how that philosophical framework is to be applied and how it challenges the traditional picture. Marc Joseph examines Davidson's influential work on action theory and events and discusses the commonly made charge that his theory of action and mind leaves the mental as a mere 'epiphenomenon' of the physical. The final section explores Davidson's philosophy of mind, some of its consequences for traditional views of subjectivity and objectivity and, more generally, the relation between minded beings and the physical and mental world they occupy. (shrink)
Donald Davidson is unquestionably one of America's greatest living philosophers. His influence on Anglo-American philosophy over the last twenty years has been enormous, and his work is an unavoidable reference point in current debates in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. This book offers a systematic and accessible introduction to Davidson's work. Evnine begins by discussing Davidson's contribution to the philosophy of mind, including his views on action, events and causation. He then examines Davidson's work in (...) the philosophy of language. The link between meaning and truth, radical interpretation, and semantic holism are considered in detail. The final chapters deal with the metaphysical aspects of Davidson's work and seek to assess his philosophical project as a whole. (shrink)
In the never-ending debate about the scope and limits of science, the hottest argument now centres on the scientific study of man himself. Can there be a science of man at all, in any comprehensive sense? Or is the idea in some way ultimately self-defeating, like that of pulling oneself up by one's own shoelaces? My purpose in this paper is not to venture a direct answer to this ticklish question, but rather to highlight one or two desirable characteristics of (...) a science which I think must inevitably be lacking in any attempt to turn the scientific spotlight upon ourselves. Whether we call the attainable residue by the name of ‘science’ is less important than that we see clearly what not to expect of it. (shrink)
Donald Davidson has prepared a new edition of his classic 1980 collection of Essays on Actions and Events, including two additional essays. In this seminal investigation of the nature of human action, Davidson argues for an ontology which includes events along with persons and other objects. Certain events are identified and explained as actions when they are viewed as caused and rationalized by reasons; these same events, when described in physical, biological, or physiological terms, may be explained by appeal (...) to natural laws. The mental and the physical thus constitute irreducibly discrete ways of explaining and understanding events and their causal relations. -/- Among the topics discussed are: freedom to act; weakness of the will; the logical form of talk about actions, intentions, and causality; the logic of practical reasoning; Hume's theory of the indirect passions; and the nature and limits of decision theory. The introduction, cross-references, and appendices emphasize the relations between the essays and explain how Davidson's views have developed. -/- . (shrink)
Winner of the 2014 Edward Goodwin Ballard Award for an Outstanding Book in Phenomenology, awarded by the Center for Advance Research in Phenomenology. -/- Merleau-Ponty and the Paradoxes of Expression offers a comprehensive reading of the philosophical work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, a central figure in 20th-century continental philosophy. -/- By establishing that the paradoxical logic of expression is Merleau-Ponty's fundamental philosophical gesture, this book ties together his diverse work on perception, language, aesthetics, politics and history in order to establish the (...) ontological position he was developing at the time of his sudden death in 1961. Donald A. Landes explores the paradoxical logic of expression as it appears in both Merleau-Ponty’s explicit reflections on expression and his non-explicit uses of this logic in his philosophical reflection on other topics, and thus establishes a continuity and a trajectory of his thought that allows for his work to be placed into conversation with contemporary developments in continental philosophy. The book offers the reader a key to understanding Merleau-Ponty's subtle methodology and highlights the urgency and relevance of his research into the ontological significance of expression for today's work in art and cultural theory. (shrink)
Donald Davidson presents a new edition of the 1984 volume which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation has been a central point of reference and a focus of controversy in the subject ever since, and its influence has extended into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. The central question which these essays address is what it is for words to mean what they do. This new edition features an additional essay, previously (...) uncollected. (shrink)
This bold and brilliant book asks the ultimate question of the life sciences: How did the human mind acquire its incomparable power? In seeking the answer, Merlin Donald traces the evolution of human culture and cognition from primitive apes to the era of artificial intelligence, and presents an original theory of how the human mind evolved from its presymbolic form. In the emergence of modern human culture, Donald proposes, there were three radical transitions. During the first, our bipedal (...) but still apelike ancestors acquired "mimetic" skill—the ability to represent knowledge through voluntary motor acts—which made Homo erectus successful for over a million years. The second transition—to "mythic" culture —coincided with the development of spoken language. Speech allowed the large-brained Homo sapiens to evolve a complex preliterate culture that survives in many parts of the world today. In the third transition, when humans constructed elaborate symbolic systems ranging from cuneiforms, hieroglyphics, and ideograms to alphabetic languages and mathematics, human biological memory became an inadequate vehicle for storing and processing our collective knowledge. The modern mind is thus a hybrid structure built from vestiges of earlier biological stages as well as new external symbolic memory devices that have radically altered its organization. According to Donald, we are symbol-using creatures, more complex than any that went before us, and we may have not yet witnessed the final modular arrangement of the human mind. (shrink)
Our century has witnessed violence on an unprecedented scale, in wars that have torn deep into the fabric of national and international life. And as we can see in the recent strife in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda, and the ongoing struggle to control nuclear weaponry, ancient enmities continue to threaten the lives of masses of human beings. As never before, the question is urgent and practical: How can nations--or ethnic groups, or races--after long, bitter struggles, learn to live side by (...) side in peace? In An Ethic for Enemies, Donald W. Shriver, Jr., President Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary, argues that the solution lies in our capacity to forgive. Taking forgiveness out of its traditional exclusive association with personal religion and morality, Shriver urges us to recognize its importance in the secular political arena. The heart of the book examines three powerful and moving cases from recent American history--our postwar dealings with Germany, with Japan, and our continuing domestic problem with race relations--cases in which acts of forgiveness have had important political consequences. Shriver traces how postwar Germany, in its struggle to break with its political past, progressed from denial of a Nazi past, to a formal acknowledgement of the crimes of Nazi Germany, to providing material compensation for survivors of the Holocaust. He also examines the efforts of Japan and the United States, over time and across boundaries of race and culture, to forgive the wrongs committed by both peoples during the Pacific War. And finally he offers a fascinating discussion of the role of forgiveness in the American civil rights movement. He shows, for instance, that even Malcolm X recognized the need to move from contempt for the integrationist ideal to a more conciliatory, repentant stance toward Civil Rights leaders. Malcolm came to see that only through forgiveness could the separate voices of the African-American movement work together to achieve their goals. If mutual forgiveness was a radical thought in 1964, Shriver reminds us that it has yet to be realized in 1994. "We are a long way from ceasing to hold the sins of the ancestors against their living children," he writes. Yet in this poignant volume, we discover how, by forgiving, enemies can progress and have progressed toward peace. A timely antidote to today's political conflicts, An Ethic for Enemies challenges to us to confront the hatreds that cripple society and threaten to destroy the global village. (shrink)
Donald Trump has been a godsend for those of us who teach critical thinking. For he is a fount of manipulative rhetoric, glaring fallacies, conspiracy theories, fake news, and bullshit. In this paper I draw on my own recent teaching experience in order to discuss both the usefulness and the limits of using Trump examples in teaching critical thinking. In Section One I give the framework of the course; in Section Two I indicate Trump’s relevance to many important concepts (...) in the course; and in Section Three I argue that critical thinking instructors should restrain themselves from overreliance on Trump-examples. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's theory of mind is widely regarded as a normative theory. This is a something of a confusion. Once a distinction has been made between the categorisation scheme of a norm and the norm's force-maker, it becomes clear that a Davidsonian theory of mind is not a normative theory after all. Making clear the distinction, applying it to Davidson's theory of mind, and showing its significance are the main purposes of this paper. In the concluding paragraphs, a sketch (...) is given of how a truly normative Davidsonian theory of mind might be formulated. (shrink)
J. E. Malpas discusses and develops the ideas of Donald Davidson, influential in contemporary thinking on the nature of understanding and meaning, and of truth and knowledge. He provides an account of Davidson's holistic and hermeneutical conception of linguistic interpretation, and, more generally, of the mind. Outlining its Quinean origins and the elements basic to Davidson's Radical Interpretation, J. E. Malpas' book goes on to elaborate this holism and to examine the indeterminacy of interpretation and the principle of charity. (...) The metaphysical and epistemological consequences of Davidson's approach are considered, particularly in relation to scepticism and relativism, the realist/anti-realist debate, and the problem of truth. Parallels are drawn between the Davidsonian emphasis on the centrality of the notion of truth and Heidegger's notion of truth as aletheia, as the book looks to structuralist, hermeneutical and phenomenological sources to illuminate Davidson's position. (shrink)
Since the 1950s, Donald T. Campbell has been one of the most influential contributors to the methodology of the social sciences. A distinguished psychologist, he has published scores of widely cited journal articles, and two awards, in social psychology and in public policy, have been named in his honor. This book is the first to collect his most significant papers, and it demonstrates the breadth and originality of his work.
The methodological implications of the motives that underlie the study of religion and, more particularly, the academic study of religion have not, I think, received the attention they deserve. They are of the utmost importance, however, for the differences of motivation between the study of religion legitimated by the modern university and the scholarly study of religion that antedates it, sponsor radically different, if not mutually exclusive, approaches to its study. In asking why the study of religion is undertaken as (...) an academic exercise – which is, after all, a comparatively recent development – I shall be attempting to delineate, to some extent, the relation of motive to method in what has come to be called Religious Studies. In clarifying that relation I hope also to show that Religious Studies – that is, the academic study of religion – must be a vocation in very much the same sense that Max Weber speaks of science as a vocation and, therefore, that such study must take as merely preliminary a ‘religious studies’ that is concerned only to ‘understand’ rather than to explain the phenomenon of Religion. (shrink)
In this book, Kathrin Gl¨uer carefully outlines Donald Davidson's principal claims and arguments, and discusses them in some detail, providing a concise, systematic introduction to all the main elements of Davidson's philosophy.