The distinction between the space of reasons and the realm of law captures two familiar ways of making events intelligible, by reference to reasons or to natural laws, respectively. I describe a third way of making events intelligible, by explaining them in terms of an agent’s being motivated to do certain things. Explanations of this sort do not involve appealing to reasons for which the agent acts, nor to natural laws under which the event falls. To explain an event in (...) this way is to place it in the space of motivations. I outline the relation between the space of motivations and the space of reasons, and suggest that the space of motivations may serve as a common ground between the positions defended by McDowell and Dreyfus in their recent debate. (shrink)
A minimal truthmaker for a given proposition is the smallest portion of reality which makes this proposition true. Minimal truthmakers are frequently mentioned in the literature, but there has been no systematic account of what they are or of their importance. In this article we shall clarify the notion of a minimal truthmaker and argue that there is reason to think that at least some propositions have minimal truthmakers. We shall then argue that the notion can play a useful role (...) in truthmaker theory, by helping to explain the truth of certain propositions as precisely as possible. (shrink)
Recent work on metaphysical grounding has suggested that physicalism can be characterised in terms of the mental facts being grounded in physical facts. It is often assumed that the full grounds of a fact metaphysically necessitate that fact. Therefore, it seems that if the physical grounds the mental, then the physical facts metaphysically necessitate the mental facts. Stefan Leuenberger argues that such a version of physicalism would be vulnerable to counterexamples. I shall outline a characterisation of grounding which appeals to (...) a relation between grounding and the essences of properties instantiated in the grounded facts or in their grounds. If a grounded fact is such that its constituent property is essentially related to the properties instantiated in its grounds, or vice versa, then the grounded fact will be metaphysically necessitated by its full grounds. This characterisation of grounding not only avoids Leuenberger’s counterexamples, but has broader implications for characterising physicalism in terms of grounding. (shrink)
Ground, essence, and modality seem to have something to do with each other. Can we provide unified foundations for ground and essence, or should we treat each as primitives? Can modality be grounded in essence, or should essence be expressed in terms of modality? Does grounding entail necessitation? Are the notions of ground and essence univocal? This volume focuses on the links—or lack thereof—between these three notions, as well as the foundations of ground, essence, and modality more generally, bringing together (...) work on the metaphysics, epistemology, and logic of these three notions by some of the leading figures in the field as well as emerging young scholars. -/- The invited contributors to this volume presented their work at a conference on Ground, Essence, and Modality at the University of Helsinki in June 2016, funded by the Academy of Finland Project The Epistemology of Metaphysics: From Rationalism to Nominalism. This conference is just one of many recent high-profile events and publications on these themes (e.g., the edited volumes Correia and Schnieder 2012a; Sirkel and Tahko 2014; Jago 2016). -/- After providing a brief historical summary of the (re)emergence of modality, essence and ground as central notions in metaphysics (Sect. 1), we shall outline some of the main themes in recent work on these notions and on the links between them (Sect. 2). In Sect. 3 we briefly introduce the papers in this volume. (shrink)
Recent work on consciousness has distinguished between the qualitative character of an experience and its subjective character or subjectivity. It is often suggested that subjectivity is a characteristic inner awareness subjects enjoy of their own occurrent experiences. A number of thinkers have also suggested that not only is each subject aware of her own experiences, but that in having these experiences she is aware of them as her own. This is the subjectivity-mineness thesis: necessarily, an experience which is given to (...) its subject is given as the subject’s own experience. I shall argue against the subjectivity-mineness thesis. While I agree that experiences are characterised by inner awareness, it is questionable whether inner awareness entails an awareness of my experiences as mine. I shall offer an alternative account of inner awareness, the impersonal account. On this account the subject of the experience is not presented in the content of inner awareness, but the mode of inner awareness is such that necessarily, this awareness is an awareness of experiences which belong to this subject. This is what makes inner awareness a characteristically first-personal form of awareness. (shrink)
The priority monist holds that the cosmos is the only fundamental object, of which every other concrete object is a dependent part. One major argument against monism goes back to Russell, who claimed that pluralism is favoured by common sense. However, Jonathan Schaffer turns this argument on its head and uses it to defend priority monism. He suggests that common sense holds that the cosmos is a whole, of which ordinary physical objects are arbitrary portions, and that arbitrary portions depend (...) for their existence on the existence of the whole. In this paper, we challenge Schaffer’s claim that the parts of the cosmos are all arbitrary portions. We suggest that there is a way of carving up the universe such that at least some of its parts are not arbitrary. We offer two arguments in support of this claim. First, we shall outline semantic reasons in its favour: in order to accept that empirical judgements are made true or false by the way the world is, one must accept that the cosmos includes parts whose existence is not arbitrary. Second, we offer an ontological argument: in order for macro-physical phenomena to exist, there must be some micro-physical order which they depend upon, and this order must itself be non-arbitrary. We conclude that Schaffer’s common sense argument for monism cannot be made to work. (shrink)
Merleau-Ponty’s notion of being motivated or solicited to act has recently been the focus of extensive investigation, yet work on this topic has tended to take the general notion of being motivated for granted. In this paper, I shall outline an account of what it is to be motivated. In particular, I shall focus on the relation between the affective character of states of being motivated and their intentional content, i.e. how things appear to the agent. Drawing on Husserl’s discussion (...) of perceptual awareness, I suggest that the intentional content of states of being motivated has a horizonal structure, in which both affective and perceptual features are implied. In states of being motivated, the agent becomes aware of certain possibilities for action, towards which they feel drawn. This structure is what Merleau-Ponty refers to as the “intentional arc” (1962, 136). (shrink)
There has been much recent discussion of whether Husserlian phenomenology might be relevant to the explanatory gap—the problem of explaining how conscious experience arises from nonexperiential events or processes. However, some phenomenologists have argued that the explanatory gap is a confused problem, because it starts by assuming a false distinction between the subjective and the objective. Rather than trying to solve this problem, they claim that phenomenology should dissolve it by undermining the distinction upon which it is based. I shall (...) argue that adopting a phenomenological approach does not provide reason to think that the explanatory gap is not a genuine problem. In assessing the assumptions underlying the gap, we must distinguish between objectivity understood as a stance we can take toward the world and objectivity as the world's having a structure independent of any experience. The explanatory gap can be understood as the problem of finding a place for consciousness in this objective structure. This does not force us to take an objective stance or reduce the methods of phenomenology to those of the natural sciences. (shrink)
Abstract John McDowell has claimed that the rational link between perceptions and empirical judgements allows us to perceive objects as belonging to a wider reality, one which extends beyond the objects perceived. In this way, we can be said to have a perceptual awareness of the world. I argue that McDowell's account of this perceptual awareness does not succeed. His account as it stands does not have the resources to explain how our perceptions can present objects as belonging to a (...) wider reality, regardless of the judgements we make about that reality. I suggest that we can give a better account of this perceptual awareness of the world by appealing to transcendental phenomenology. A phenomenological study of perceptual experiences describes how they are structured by a sense of the perceived objects as belonging to a world containing other objects of possible perception. I shall outline this sense we have of the world, and argue that it allows us to perceive objects as belonging to a wider reality. Transcendental phenomenology can thus help to explain our perceptual awareness of the world. (shrink)
One of the most widely-discussed arguments against physcialism appeals to the conceivability of zombies, being which are physically or functionally identical to humans but which have no conscious experiences. Philip Goff : 119–139, 2010; Consci Cognit 21: 742–746, 2012a; in Sprevak M, Kallestrup J New waves in philosophy of mind. Palgrave, 2014) has recently presented a number of different anti-physicalist arguments appealing to the conceivability of ghosts, entities whose nature is exhausted by their being conscious. If ghosts are conceivable, this (...) would rule out a priori physicalism. If the conceivability of ghosts entails that they are metaphysically possible, then this forms the basis for arguments against a posteriori physicalism. Drawing on work on conceivability by Peter Kung :620–663, 2010, Noûs 50: 90–120, 2016) and my own discussion of arguments which appeal to the conceivability of zombies Consciousness and the ontology of properties. Routledge, New York, 2019), I shall argue that ghosts are conceivable, but that what allows us to conceive of them undermines the belief that conceivability is a reliable guide to possibility. While this does not undermine Goff’s argument against a priori phyiscalism, it suggests that a posteriori physicalists need not be haunted by ghosts. (shrink)
Barry Dainton has developed a sophisticated version of the bundle theory of the subject of experiences. I shall focus on three claims Dainton makes: the identity-conditions of subjects can be specified in terms of capacities to produce experiences; the identity-conditions of token capacities are not determined by their subjects; and a subject is nothing over and above a bundle of such capacities. I shall argue that Dainton’s key notion of co-consciousness, a primitive relation of experienced togetherness, presupposes a subject common (...) to each of the experiences which are experienced together. Therefore, co-consciousness cannot be used to state the identity-conditions of subjects in a non-circular manner. I shall also argue that none of the different options Dainton offers for specifying the identity-conditions of token experiential capacities independently of their subjects are successful. I shall then outline a way in which this can be done, but argue that it undermines the claim that a subject is nothing over and above a bundle of such capacities. (shrink)
"Why should we care about having true beliefs? And why do demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread despite consequences for the people who hold them? Philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false belief. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it irrelevant to many (...) people whether they believe true things or not? In an age riven by "fake news," "alternative facts," and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, the authors argue that social factors, not individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the persistence of false belief and that we must know how those social forces work in order to fight misinformation effectively."–Publisher’s description. (shrink)
Two centuries after they were published, Kant's ethical writings are as much admired and imitated as they have ever been, yet serious and long-standing accusations of internal incoherence remain unresolved. Onora O'Neill traces the alleged incoherences to attempt to assimilate Kant's ethical writings to modern conceptions of rationality, action and rights. When the temptation to assimilate is resisted, a strikingly different and more cohesive account of reason and morality emerges. Kant offers a `constructivist' vindication of reason and a moral vision (...) in which obligations are prior to rights and in which justice and virtue are linked. O'Neill begins by reconsidering Kant's conceptions of philosophical method, reason, freedom, automony and action. She then moves on to the more familiar terrain of interpretation of the Categorical Imperative, while in the last section she emphasises differences between Kant's ethics and recent 'Kantian' ethics, including the work of John Rawls and other contemporary liberal political philosophers. This reassessment will add significantly to the understanding of Kantian practical philosophy. (shrink)
In almost every human society some people get more and others get less. Why is inequity the rule in human societies? Philosopher Cailin O'Connor reveals how cultural evolution works on social categories such as race and gender to generate unfairness.
Theories of spatial cognition are derived from many sources. Psychologists are concerned with determining the features of the mind which, in combination with external inputs, produce our spatialized experience. A review of philosophical and other approaches has convinced us that the brain must come equipped to impose a three-dimensional Euclidean framework on experience – our analysis suggests that object re-identification may require such a framework. We identify this absolute, nonegocentric, spatial framework with a specific neural system centered in the hippocampus.A (...) consideration of the kinds of behaviours in which such a spatial mapping system would be important is followed by an analysis of the anatomy and physiology of this system, with special emphasis on the place-coded neurons recorded in the hippocampus of freely moving rats. A tentative physiological model for the hippocampal cognitive map is proposed. A review of lesion studies, in tasks as diverse as discrimination learning, avoidance, and extinction, shows that the cognitive map notion can adequately explain much of the data.The model is extended to humans by the assumption that spatial maps are built in one hemisphere, semantic maps in the other. The latter provide a semantic deep structure within which discourse comprehension and production can be achieved. Evidence from the study of amnesic patients, briefly reviewed, is consistent with this extension. (shrink)
Nearly every theory of perception just focuses on one sense at a time; but most of the time we perceive using multiple senses. Casey O'Callaghan offers a revisionist multisensory philosophy of perception: he explores how our senses work together and influence each other, leading to surprising perceptual illusions and novel forms of experience.
In this collection of essays Onora O'Neill explores and argues for an account of justice that is fundamentally cosmopolitan rather than civic, yet takes serious account of institutions and boundaries, and of human diversity and vulnerability. Starting from conceptions that are central to any account of justice - those of reason, action, judgement, coercion, obligations and rights - she discusses whether and how culturally or politically specific concepts and views, which limit the claims and scope of justice, can be avoided. (...) She then examines the demands and scope of just institutions, arguing that there are good reasons for taking the claims of distant strangers seriously, but that doing so points not to a world without boundaries but to one of porous boundaries and dispersed power. Bounds of Justice will be of interest to a wide range of readers in philosophy, politics and international relations. (shrink)
Economics as a science of human behavior has been grounded in a remarkably parsimonious postulate: that of the self-interested, isolated individual who chooses freely and rationally between alternative courses of action after computing their prospective costs and benefits. In recent decades, a group of economists has shown considerable industry and ingenuity in applying this way of interpreting the social world to a series of ostensibly noneconomic phenomena, from crime to the family, and from collective action to democracy. The “economic” or (...) “rational-actor” approach has yielded some important insights, but its onward sweep has also revealed some of its intrinsic weaknesses. As a result, it has become possible to mount a critique which, ironically, can be carried all the way back to the heartland of the would-be conquering discipline. That the economic approach presents us with too simpleminded an account of even such fundamental economic processes as consumption and production is the basic thesis of the present paper. (shrink)
Philosophical theories of emotions, and to an extent some theories of scientific psychology, represent attempts to capture the essence of emotions basically as they are conceived in common sense psychology. Although there are problems, the success of explanations of our behavior in terms of believes, desires and emotions creates a presumption that, at some level of abstraction, they reflect important elements in our psychological nature. It is incumbent on a theory of emotions to provide an account of two salient facts (...) about emotions as conceived in common sense psychology. As intentional states, emotions have representational and rational properties: emotions represent states of affairs; and they are rationally related to other mental representations, figure in rational explanations of behavior, and are open to rational assessment. Emotions also have a close relationship to a range of non-intentional phenomena: in typical cases, emotions involve physiological changes, usually associated with the activation of the autonomic nervous system, which are proprioceptively experienced; and they often involve behavioral tendencies, as well. (shrink)
Microbes and microbiology are seldom encountered in philosophical accounts of the life sciences. Although microbiology is a well-established science and microbes the basis of life on this planet, neither the organisms nor the science have been seen as philosophically significant. This book will change that. It fills a major gap in the philosophy of biology by examining central philosophical issues in microbiology. Topics are drawn from evolutionary microbiology, microbial ecology, and microbial classification. These discussions are aimed at philosophers and scientists (...) who wish to gain insight into the basic philosophical issues of microbiology. (shrink)
Revealing flaws in both 'green' and market-based approaches to environmental policy, O'Neill develops an Aristotolian account of well-being. He examines the implications for wider issues involving markets, civil society an.
Many philosophers of language have held that a truth-conditional semantic account can explain the data motivating the distinction between referential and attributive uses of definite descriptions, but I believe this is a mistake. I argue that these data also motivate what I call “dual-aspect” uses as a distinct but closely related type. After establishing that an account of the distinction must also explain dual-aspect uses, I argue that the truth-conditional Semantic Model of the distinction cannot. Thus, the Semantic Model cannot (...) explain the data for which it is developed and so fails as an account of the referential/attributive distinction. (shrink)
We say we can no longer trust our public services, institutions or the people who run them. The professionals we have to rely on - politicians, doctors, scientists, businessmen and many others - are treated with suspicion. Their word is doubted, their motives questioned. Whether real or perceived, this crisis of trust has a debilitating impact on society and democracy. Can trust be restored by making people and institutions more accountable? Or do complex systems of accountability and control themselves damage (...) trust? Onora O'Neill challenges current approaches, investigates sources of deception in our society and re-examines questions of press freedom. 2002's Reith Lectures present a philosopher's view of trust and deception, and ask whether and how trust can be restored in a modern democracy. (shrink)