There are doubtless many with personal experience of suffering, or of comforting others in distress, who would agree with Milton thus far that philosophic argument is powerless to satisfy those who in their anguish ask the question ‘Why did it happen to me?’ Yet to think so is to underestimate both the necessity and the power of reason: clarity of mind and the disposition to argue are commonly enhanced rather than diminished by suffering; and if reason is an essential part (...) of man's nature, it should serve him, if anywhere, in the trials of life. We have every justification, therefore, despite common opinion, for seeking a rational answer to the question proposed. It must, however, be admitted at the outset that there is no direct answer to the question which can both withstand critical scrutiny and bring genuine comfort to the afflicted, an answer, that is, which accepts the question as it stands with its attendant presuppositions; but there is an indirect answer, which, precisely by rejecting one or more of these presuppositions and restating the question, can indeed satisfy these two requirements. Before such an answer can be outlined, however, the question in its traditional form must be examined and the traditional answers to it critically reviewed. (shrink)
Amongst Kant's lesser known early writings is a short treatise with the curious title Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Explained by Dreams of Metaphysics , in which, with considerable acumen and brilliance, and not a little irony, Kant exposes the empty pretensions of his contemporary, the Swedish visionary and Biblical exegete, Emanuel Swedenborg, to have access to a spirit world, denied other mortals. Despite his efforts, it must be feared, however, that Kant did not, alas, succeed in laying the spirit of (...) Swedenborg himself to rest once and for all, for there has arisen in our own day, and within philosophy itself, a movement of thought, if such it can be called, which, like that of Swedenborg, is founded upon an unbridled and unhealthy exercise of the imagination, and apparently believes that philosophical problems can be discussed and resolved by the elaboration of fantastical, and at times repulsive, examples; if we require a name for this contemporary pretence at philosophy, we could take as our model the Italian word for science fiction, fantascienza , and call it ‘fantaphilosophy’: it is my aim to show that this fantaphilosophy is a phantom philosophy. (shrink)
In thirteen specially written essays, leading philosophers explore Kantian themes in moral and political philosophy that are prominent in the work of Thomas E. Hill, Jr., such as respect and self-respect, practical reason, conscience, and duty. In conclusion Hill offers an overview of his work and responses to the preceding essays.
The notion of “conception” plays a central role in Thomas Reid’s theory of perceptual knowledge, although “conception” might be studied for itself as a source of knowledge. In this study, we attempt to expose systematically the several contexts where Reid deals with the source of knowledge and the kind of mental operation called “conception”. The purpose is to understand a specific aspect of the deliverances of “conception” in Reid’s theory of perception, namely, a direct relationship, not mediated by ideas, (...) between knowing subject and external world. To understand the operation of conceiving, which is intrinsic to and constitutive of perception, is an efficient way to comprehend the nature and content of perceptual knowledge. At this step, reflections on the relationship between mind and external world, that is, mind and material world, have to be made. (shrink)
As denominadas filosofias do _hen kai pan_tiveram um papel determinante no pensamento alemão do século XVIII e XIX, em boa parte devido ao tratamento que lhes foi dado por F. H. Jacobi em _Sobre a doutrina de Espinosa em cartas ao senhor Moses Mendelssohn _. Espinosa e Giordano Bruno são os grandes representantes desse modo de pensar, e suas filosofias inauguram uma nova articulação entre causa e razão, mundo e Deus. Jacobi identifica em ambos o modelo da máxima coerência intelectual (...) que uma filosofia pode alcançar, um monismo imanente cuja consistência lógica não pode ser combatida no interior do sistema com as armas da metafísica pura. Por outro lado, é no princípio indeterminado, comum a essas doutrinas, que Jacobi verá a confirmação de uma danosa tendência da história da filosofia que culmina no idealismo de Fichte e na filosofia do jovem Schelling, isto é, na união entre natureza naturada e naturante no eu. (shrink)
O objetivo desse artigo é mostrar de que modo um problema no domínio da teoria contemporânea do direito suscita questões que podem encontrar esclarecimentos na filosofia de Thomas Hobbes. Para tanto, será primeiramente analisada uma decisão da Suprema Corte norte-americana que retoma um debate constitucional aberto há já quase vinte anos e que versa sobre os direitos civis1. Nesse contexto, a noção de República em Hobbes será apresentada enquanto fornecendo uma teoria sobre a interpretação jurídica que permite apanhar o (...) bom lado nesse debate. (shrink)
Affirmative action programs remain controversial, I suspect, partly because the familiar arguments for and against them start from significantly different moral perspectives. Thus I want to step back for a while from the details of debate about particular programs and give attention to the moral viewpoints presupposed in different types of argument. My aim, more specifically, is to compare the “messages” expressed when affirmative action is defended from different moral perspectives. Exclusively forward-looking arguments, I suggest, tend to express the wrong (...) message, but this is also true of exclusively backward-looking arguments. However, a moral outlook that focuses on cross-temporal narrative values suggests a more appropriate account of what affirmative action should try to express. Assessment of the message, admittedly, is only one aspect of a complex issue, but it is a relatively neglected one. My discussion takes for granted some common-sense ideas about the communicative function of action, and so I begin with these. Actions, as the saying goes, often speak louder than words. There are times, too, when only actions can effectively communicate the message we want to convey and times when giving a message is a central part of the purpose of action. What our actions say to others depends largely, though not entirely, upon our avowed reasons for acting; and this is a matter for reflective decision, not something we discover later by looking back at what we did and its effects. The decision is important because “the same act” can have very different consequences, depending upon how we choose to justify it. (shrink)
O presente texto busca na epistemologia de Thomas Kuhn aportes teóricos sobre a forma como a Ciência progride, os quais sugerem uma aproximação com aspectos históricos de uma Ciência, por definição, não determinista. Foram discutidos os conceitos de paradigma, incomensurabilidade, Ciência normal, anomalias e crises, revolução científica e Ciência extraordinária, com base na obra A Estrutura das Revoluções Científicas, em literatura correlata e fontes secundárias. As consequências desse encadeamento teórico levam, à luz da epistemologia de Kuhn, a fundamentos que (...) permitem uma discussão sobre o caráter temporal, condicional, suscetível, incerto – e, portanto, não determinista – do conhecimento científico. Palavras-chave: Thomas Kuhn. Progresso científico. Determinismo. Epistemologia. (shrink)
Ancient moral philosophers, especially Aristotle and his followers, typically shared the assumption that ethics is primarily concerned with how to achieve the final end for human beings, a life of “happiness” or “human flourishing.” This final end was not a subjective condition, such as contentment or the satisfaction of our preferences, but a life that could be objectively determined to be appropriate to our nature as human beings. Character traits were treated as moral virtues because they contributed well toward this (...) ideal life, either as means to it or as constitutive aspects of it. Traits that tended to prevent a “happy” life were considered vices, even if they contributed to a life that was pleasant and what a person most wanted. The idea of “happiness” was central, then, in philosophical efforts to specify what we ought to do, what sort of persons we should try to become, and what sort of life a wise person would hope for. (shrink)
Epistemology, as I understand it, is a branch of philosophy especially concerned with general questions about how we can know various things or at least justify our beliefs about them. It questions what counts as evidence and what are reasonable sources of doubt. Traditionally, episte-mology focuses on pervasive and apparently basic assumptions covering a wide range of claims to knowledge or justified belief rather than very specific, practical puzzles. For example, traditional epistemologists ask “How do we know there are material (...) objects?” and not “How do you know which are the female beetles?” Similarly, moral epistemology, as I understand it, is concerned with general questions about how we can know or justify our beliefs about moral matters. Its focus, again, is on quite general, pervasive, and apparently basic assumptions about what counts as evidence, what are reasonable sources of doubt, and what are the appropriate procedures for justifying particular moral claims. (shrink)
This essay first distinguishes different questions regarding moral objectivity and relativism and then sketches a broadly Kantian position on two of these questions. First, how, if at all, can we derive, justify, or support specific moral principles and judgments from more basic moral standards and values? Second, how, if at all, can the basic standards such as my broadly Kantian perspective, be defended? Regarding the first question, the broadly Kantian position is that from ideas in Kant's later formulations of the (...) Categorical Imperative, especially human dignity and rational autonomous law-making, we can develop an appropriate moral perspective for identifying and supporting more specific principles. Both the deliberative perspective and the derivative principles can be viewed as “constructed,” but in different senses. In response to the second question, the essay examines two of Kant's strategies for defending his basic perspective and the important background of his arguments against previous moral theories. (shrink)
It is one of the distinctive claims of Neurath, though not of the Vienna Circle generally, that the Vienna Circle's philosophy was not really German philosophy at all. The relation is, if Neurath is to be trusted, anything but straight-forward. To understand it, not only must some effort be expended on specifying Neurath's claim, but also on delineating the different party-lines within the Vienna Circle.
What, if anything, are we morally required to do on behalf of others besides respecting their rights? And why is such regard for others a reasonable moral requirement? These two questions have long been major concerns of ethical theory, but the answers that philosophers give tend to vary with their beliefs about human nature. More specifically, their answers typically depend on the position they take on a third-question: To what extent, if any, is it possible for us to act altruistically?
Philosophers have debated for millennia about whether moral requirements are always rational to follow. The background for these debates is often what I shall call “the self-interest model.” The guiding assumption here is that the basic demand of reason, to each person, is that one must, above all, advance one's self-interest. Alternatively, debate may be framed by a related, but significantly different, assumption: the idea that the basic rational requirement is to develop and pursue a set of personal ends in (...) an informed, efficient, and coherent way, whether one's choice of ends is based on self-interested desires or not. For brevity I refer to this as “the coherence-and-efficiency model.” Advocates of both models tend to think that, while it is sufficiently clear in principle what the rational thing to do is, what remains in doubt is whether it is always rational to be moral. They typically assume that morality is concerned, entirely or primarily, with our relations to others, especially with obligations that appear to require some sacrifice or compromise with the pursuit of self-interest. (shrink)
O presente artigo busca confrontar as noções de natureza humana tal como desenvolvidas por Hugo Grotius, em sua obra O direito da guerra e da paz, e por Thomas Hobbes, nos escritos Do cidadão e Leviatã. Com tanto, trata-se de contrapor o pensamento dos referidos autores, identificando entre eles distinções e semelhanças. As análises realizadas neste trabalho justificam-se dada a centralidade dos teóricos abordados no âmbito da filosofia política, bem como do jusnaturalismo. Assim, espera-se oferecer um recorte das discussões (...) empreendidas em meados do século XVII, caras ao pensamento filosófico moderno. Para isto, as análises de cada autor serão expostas separadamente ao longo do artigo, para serem, então, articuladas, a título de conclusão. (shrink)