How could the self be a substance? There are various ways in which it could be, some familiar from the history of philosophy. I shall be rejecting these more familiar substantivalist approaches, but also the non-substantival theories traditionally opposed to them. I believe that the self is indeed a substance—in fact, that it is a simple or noncomposite substance—and, perhaps more remarkably still, that selves are, in a sense, self-creating substances. Of course, if one thinks of the notion of substance (...) as an outmoded relic of prescientific metaphysics—as the notion of some kind of basic and perhaps ineffable stuff —then the suggestion that the self is a substance may appear derisory. Even what we ordinarily call ‘stuffs’—gold and water and butter and the like—are, it seems, more properly conceived of as aggregates of molecules or atoms, while the latter are not appropriately to be thought of as being ‘made’ of any kind of ‘stuff’ at all. But this only goes to show that we need to think in terms of a more sophisticated notion of substance—one which may ultimately be traced back to Aristotle's conception of a ‘primary substance’ in the Categories , and whose heir in modern times is W. E. Johnson's notion of the ‘continuant’. It is the notion, that is, of a concrete individual capable of persisting identically through qualitative change, a subject of alterable predicates that is not itself predicable of any further subject. (shrink)
Why does the problem of free will seem so intractable? I surmise that in large measure it does so because the free will debate, at least in its modern form, is conducted in terms of a mistaken approach to causality in general. At the heart of this approach is the assumption that all causation is fundamentally event causation. Of course, it is well-known that some philosophers of action want to invoke in addition an irreducible notion of agent causation, applicable only (...) in the sphere of intelligent agency. But such a view is generally dismissed as incompatible with the naturalism that has now become orthodoxy amongst mainstream analytical philosophers of mind. What I want to argue is that substances, not events, are the primary relata of causal relations and that agent causation should properly be conceived of as a species of substance causation. I shall try to show that by thus reconceiving the nature of causation and of agency, the problem of free will can be made more tractable. I shall also argue for a contention that may seem even less plausible at first sight, namely, that such a view of agency is perfectly compatible with a volitionist theory of action. (shrink)
Hume's famous discussion of miracles in the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is curious both on account of the arguments he does deploy and on account of the arguments he does not deploy, but might have been expected to. The first and second parts of this paper will be devoted to examining, respectively, these two objects of curiosity. The second part I regard as the more important, because I shall there try to show that the fact that Hume does not deploy (...) an argument that he might have been expected to deploy in fact reflects a weakness in the view of natural laws that has come to be associated with Hume's name. I shall argue, in fact, that it is a symptom of the defectiveness of the ‘Humean’ view of natural laws that on that view it is only too easy to rule out the possibility of a miracle ever occurring. In the third part of the paper, I shall show how another view of laws can overcome this problem. (shrink)
In a famous passage in her book, Intention , Professor G. E. M. Anscombe argues that we can only render intelligible the idea of someone wanting a thing if we know under what aspect the person sees the thing as desirable. The wanted thing must be characterized by the wanter as desirable in some respect. ‘[What] is required for our concept of “wanting”’, she says, ‘is that a man should see what he wants under the aspect of some good’ . (...) And furthermore, ‘the good conceived by the agent to characterize the thing must really be one of the many forms of good’ . Thus, while the object of desire need only be conceived as good by the wanter, and need not be really good, this can only be because the object does not have the desirable character the wanter believes it to have, not because the character supposed to be desirable is not really so. Desire cannot but be for one of the real forms of good. (shrink)
Are persons substances or modes? Two currently dominant views may be characterized as giving the following rival answers to this question. According to the first view, persons are just biological substances. According to the second, persons are psychological modes of substances which, as far as human beings are concerned, happen to be biological substances, but which could in principle be non-biological. There is, however, also a third possible answer, and this is that persons are psychological substances. Such a view is (...) inevitably associated with the name of Descartes, and this helps to explain its current unpopularity, since substantial dualism of his sort is now widely rejected as ‘unscientific’. But one may, as I hope to show, espouse the view that persons are psychological substances without endorsing Cartesianism. This is because one may reject certain features of Descartes's conception of substance. Consequently, one may also espouse a version of substantial dualism which is distinctly non-Cartesian. One may hold that a person, being a psychological substance, is an entity distinct from the biological substance that is his or her body, and yet still be prepared to ascribe corporeal characteristics to this psychological substance. By this account, a human person is to be thought of neither as a non-corporeal mental substance, nor as the product of a mysterious ‘union’ between such a substance and a physical, biological substance. This is not to deny that the mind—body problem is a serious and difficult one, but it is to imply that there is a version of substantial dualism which does not involve regarding the ‘mind’ as a distinct substance in its own right. (shrink)
We present a new English translation of L.E.J. Brouwer's paper ‘De onbetrouwbaarheid der logische principes’ of 1908, together with a philosophical and historical introduction. In this paper Brouwer for the first time objected to the idea that the Principle of the Excluded Middle is valid. We discuss the circumstances under which the manuscript was submitted and accepted, Brouwer's ideas on the principle of the excluded middle, its consistency and partial validity, and his argument against the possibility of absolutely undecidable propositions. (...) We note that principled objections to the general excluded middle similar to Brouwer's had been advanced in print by Jules Molk two years before. Finally, we discuss the influence on George Griss' negationless mathematics. (shrink)
Non-Cartesian substance dualism maintains that persons or selves are distinct from their organic physical bodies and any parts of those bodies. It regards persons as ‘substances’ in their own right, but does not maintain that persons are necessarily separable from their bodies, in the sense of being capable of disembodied existence. In this paper, it is urged that NCSD is better equipped than either Cartesian dualism or standard forms of physicalism to explain the possibility of mental causation. A model of (...) mental causation adopting the NCSD perspective is proposed which, it is argued, is consistent with all that is currently known about the operations of the human central nervous system, including the brain. Physicalism, by contrast, seems ill-equipped to explain the distinctively intentional or teleological character of mental causation, because it effectively reduces all such causation to ‘blind’ physical causation at a neurological level. (shrink)
E. J. Lowe, a prominent figure in contemporary metaphysics, sets out and defends his theory of what there is. His four-category ontology is a metaphysical system which recognizes four fundamental categories of beings: substantial and non-substantial particulars and substantial and non-substantial universals. Lowe argues that this system has an explanatory power which is unrivalled by more parsimonious theories and that this counts decisively in its favour. He shows that it provides a powerful explanatory framework for a unified account of causation, (...) dispositions, natural laws, natural necessity and many other related matters, thus constituting a full metaphysical foundation for natural science. (shrink)
Ontological dependence is a relation—or, more accurately, a family of relations—between entities or beings. For there are various ways in which one being may be said to depend upon one or more other beings, in a sense of “depend” that is distinctly metaphysical in character and that may be contrasted, thus, with various causal senses of this word. More specifically, a being may be said to depend, in such a sense, upon one or more other beings for its existence or (...) for its identity. Some varieties of ontological dependence may be analyzed in modal terms—that is, in terms of distinctly metaphysical notions of possibility and necessity—while others seem to demand an analysis in terms of the notion of essence. The latter varieties of ontological dependence may accordingly be called species of essential dependence. Notions of ontological dependence are frequently called upon by metaphysicians in their proposed analyses of other metaphysically important notions, such as the notion of substance. (shrink)
As thinkers in the market for knowledge and agents aspiring to morally responsible action, we are inevitably subject to luck. This book presents a comprehensive new theory of luck in light of a critical appraisal of the literature's leading accounts, then brings this new theory to bear on issues in the theory of knowledge and philosophy of action.
Argues that there can be interaction without breaking physical laws: e.g. by basic psychic forces, or by varying physical constants, or especially by arranging fractal trees of physical causation leading to behavior.
Taking into account significant developments in the metaphysical thinking of E. J. Lowe over the past 20 years, _More Kinds of Being:A Further Study of Individuation, Identity, and the Logic of Sortal Terms_ presents a thorough reworking and expansion of the 1989 edition of _Kinds of Being_ Brings many of the original ideas and arguments put forth in _Kinds of Being_ thoroughly up to date in light of new developments Features a thorough reworking and expansion of the earlier work, rather (...) than just a new edition Reflects the author's conversion to what he calls 'the four-category ontology,' a metaphysical system that takes its inspiration from Aristotle Provides a unified discussion of individuation and identity that should prove to be essential reading for philosophers working in metaphysics. (shrink)
A self or person does not appear to be identifiable with his or her organic body, nor with any part of it, such as the brain; and yet selves seem to be agents, capable of bringing about physical events as causal consequences of certain of their conscious mental states. How is this possible in a universe in which, it appears, every physical event has a sufficient cause which is wholly physical? The answer is that this is possible if a certain (...) kind of naturalistic dualism is true, according to which the conscious mental states of selves, although not identifiable with physical states of their brains, are emergent effects of prior physical causes. Moreover, mental causation on this model promises to explain certain aspects of physical behaviour which may appear arbitrary and coincidental from a purely physical point of view. (shrink)
Peter Graham argues against the prima facie plausible thesis that one can be directly blameworthy only for one’s conduct—that is, only for one’s actions or omissions to act. Because this thesis serves as a premise in a challenging recent argument for the revisionist conclusion that we’re at most rarely directly blameworthy for anything, Graham’s argument holds out a promise of contributing to a defense of a wide range of commonsense ascriptions of blameworthiness. After reconstructing Graham’s argument for the possibility of (...) direct blameworthiness for non-conduct, I develop the following objection to it: in light of a clear counterexample, one of Graham’s two premises must be weakened, which in turn requires that Graham’s other premise be strengthened; unfortunately, the resulting strengthened premise is implausible on balance. (shrink)
The relations between reason, motivation and value present problems which, though ancient, remain intractable. If values are objective and rational how can they move us and if they are dependent on our contingent desires how can they be rational? E. J. Bond makes a bold attack on this dilemma. The widespread view among philosophers today is that judgements contain an irreducible element of personal commitment. To this Professor Bond proposes an account of values as objective and value judgements as true (...) or false, employing a distinction between grounding and motivating reasons to establish their connection with action. He defines and tests his position against a number of recent theories, providing in the process forceful criticism of Williams, Wiggins, Foot, Narveson and Nagel, among others. A distinctive contribution to the subject, it will stimulate interest and worthwhile debate among philosophers, while also serving as an introduction to this vital topic. (shrink)
In this innovative study of the relationship between persons and their bodies, E. J. Lowe demonstrates the inadequacy of physicalism, even in its mildest, non-reductionist guises, as a basis for a scientifically and philosophically acceptable account of human beings as subjects of experience, thought and action. He defends a substantival theory of the self as an enduring and irreducible entity - a theory which is unashamedly committed to a distinctly non-Cartesian dualism of self and body. Taking up the physicalist challenge (...) to any robust form of psychophysical interactionism, he shows how an attribution of independent causal powers to the mental states of human subjects is perfectly consistent with a thoroughly naturalistic world view. He concludes his study by examining in detail the role which conscious mental states play in the human subject's exercise of its most central capacities for perception, action, thought and self-knowledge. (shrink)
This is the first full-length translation of a work by the influential medieval logician Walter Burley. As such, it is an important addition to our knowledge of medieval logic, and will undoubtedly spur further research.
A systematic overview of modern metaphysics, A Survey of Metaphysics covers all of the most important topics in the field. It adopts the fairly traditional conception of metaphysics as a subject that deals with the deepest questions that can be raised concerning the fundamental structure of reality as a whole. The book is divided into six main sections that address the following themes: identity and change, necessity and essence, causation, agency and events, space and time, and universals and particulars. It (...) focuses on contemporary views and issues throughout, rather than on the history of metaphysics. (shrink)
There is currently intense interest in the question of the source of our presumed knowledge of truths concerning what is, or is not, metaphysically possible or necessary. Some philosophers locate this source in our capacities to conceive or imagine various actual or non-actual states of affairs, but this approach is open to certain familiar and seemingly powerful objections. A different and ostensibly more promising approach has been developed by Timothy Williamson, according to which our capacity for modal knowledge is just (...) an extension, or by-product, of our general capacity to acquire knowledge of true counterfactual conditionals — a capacity that we deploy ubiquitously in everyday life. Williamson’s account crucially involves a thesis to the effect that modal truths can be explained in terms of counterfactual truths. In this paper, I query Williamson’s account on a number of points, including this thesis. My positive proposal, which owes a debt to the work of Kit Fine on modality and essence, appeals instead to our capacity to grasp essences, understood in a neo-Aristotelian fashion, according to which essences are expressed by ‘real definitions’. (shrink)
After recognizing that technologies are socially constructed, questions arise concerning how technologies should be constructed, by what processes, and granting how much influence to whom. Because partisanship, uncertainty, and disagreement are inevitable in trying to answer these questions, reconstructivist scholarship should embrace the desirability of thoughtful partisanship, should focus on strategies for coping intelligently with uncertainties, and should make central the study of social processes for coping with disagreement regarding technoscience and its utilization. That often will entail siding with have-nots, (...) meaning that reconstructivist scholars often will be opposing the behaviors of government, business, and technoscientific elites. Because reconstructivists normally will be outnumbered, we need to devote more systematic professional attention to setting our collective agenda concerning what is most worth researching. (shrink)
Causal closure arguments against interactionist dualism are currently popular amongst physicalists. Such an argument appeals to some principles of the causal closure of the physical, together with certain other premises, to conclude that at least some mental events are identical with physical events. However, it is crucial to the success of any such argument that the physical causal closure principle to which it appeals is neither too strong nor too weak by certain standards. In this paper, it is argued that (...) various forms of naturalistic dualism, of an emergentist character, are consistent with the strongest physical causal closure principles that can plausibly be advocated. (shrink)
In this paper, it is argued that metaphysics, conceived as an inquiry into the ultimate nature of mind-independent reality, is a rationally indispensable intellectual discipline, with the a priori science of formal ontology at its heart. It is maintained that formal ontology, properly understood, is not a mere exercise in conceptual analysis, because its primary objective is a normative one, being nothing less than the attempt to grasp adequately the essences of things, both actual and possible, with a view to (...) understanding as far as we can the fundamental structure of reality as a whole. Accordingly, it is urged, the deliverances of formal ontology have a modal and epistemic status akin to those of other a priori sciences, such as mathematics and logic, rather than constituting rivals to the claims of the empirical sciences, such as physics. (shrink)
Lemmon argues that dilemmas occur between classes of 'oughts;' duties, obligations, and moral principles. He claims that there are not conflicts within each class, presumably because he is a utilitarian, and thinks that moral principles will always be univocal.
Although for the last 50 years, ethicists dealing with human experimentation have focused primarily on the need to protect individual research subjects and vulnerable groups, biomedical research, especially in genetics, now requires the establishment of standards for the protection of communities. We have developed such a strategy, based on five steps. (i) Identification of community characteristics relevant to the biomedical research setting, (ii) delineation of a typology of different types of communities using these characteristics, (iii) determination of the range of (...) possible community protections, (iv) creation of connections between particular protections and one or more community characteristics necessary for its implementation, and (v) synthesis of community characteristics and possible protections to define protections appropriate for each type of community. Depending on the particular community, consent and consultation, consultation alone, or no added protections may be required for research. (shrink)