Yoder rearranges the theological landscape -- North American Mennonite experience -- Amsterdam 1952 -- American church and society in the postwar era -- Mennonite mentors at Goshen College -- European experience and the debate about war -- A European assignment -- Relating to European Mennonite churches -- Confronting the moral question of war -- The world council of churches debate -- Doctoral studies with Barth and Cullman -- The theology of Karl Barth -- Oscar Cullmann and biblical studies -- Other (...) European conversations -- Disseration on the Swiss anabaptists -- Historical anabaptist research -- The core of anabaptist beliefs -- Constructing an anabaptist theology -- Understanding the "politics of Jesus " -- Characterizing theologies -- Yoder's theological language -- Yoder's constructive theology -- A lived praxis -- The "politics of Jesus " as social practice -- The challenge of just peacebuilding -- Basic principles of the "politics of Jesus ' -- A conversation with Catholic peace traditions -- Just peacebuilding collaboration -- The social praxis of the Christian community -- A religious peacebuilding program. (shrink)
Property dualism is enjoying a slight resurgence in popularity, these days; substance dualism, not so much. But it is not as easy as one might think to be a property dualist and a substance materialist. The reasons for being a property dualist support the idea that some phenomenal properties (or qualia) are as fundamental as the most basic physical properties; but what material objects could be the bearers of the qualia? If even some qualia require an adverbial construal (if they (...) are modifications of the thing that is conscious because of them, not properties of something else to which the subject of consciousness is related), then the property dualist can be driven to speculative forms of materialism none of which, at this point, looks more likely to be true than the more modest versions of emergent dualism defended by contemporary substance dualists. (shrink)
For quite some time, critics have attacked religious language on the grounds that theologians employed metaphors that were irreducible. By irreducible, they meant metaphors that could not be paraphrased in literal language. And any such language that could not be reduced to words that can be taken in a literal sense, would be devoid of cognitive meaning or truth value. Since theologians claimed that statements like ‘God is love’ cannot be reduced to a literal sense without robbing the concept of (...) God of its transcendent status, sceptics replied that such failures merely indicated the meaninglessness of religious language. Or, if apologists did assert that ‘God is love’ can be paraphrased by statements describing the love of one man for another, the sceptic claimed that such a move reduced religious language to anthropological language where terms like ‘God’ were superfluous. Critics argued that metaphors of religion posed the following dilemma: either religious metaphors could not be reduced to literal paraphrases and were, therefore, meaningless; or, religious metaphors could be reduced to literal paraphrases, but the method by which they were reduced eliminated the necessity for theological terminology. (shrink)
The idea that immoral behaviour can sometimes be admirable, and that moral behaviour can sometimes be less than admirable, has led several of its supporters to infer that moral considerations are not always overriding, contrary to what has been traditionally maintained. In this paper I shall challenge this inference. My purpose in doing so is to expose and acknowledge something that has been inadequately appreciated, namely, the moral aspect of nonmoral goods and evils. I hope thereby to show that, even (...) if immorality can be admirable, this poses no threat to morality. (shrink)
The prefrontal cortex has long been suspected to play an important role in cognitive control, in the ability to orchestrate thought and action in accordance with internal goals. Its neural basis, however, has remained a mystery. Here, we propose that cognitive control stems from the active maintenance of patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex that represent goals and the means to achieve them. They provide bias signals to other brain structures whose net effect is to guide the flow of (...) activity along neural pathways that establish the proper mappings between inputs, internal states, and outputs needed to perform a given task. We review neurophysiological, neurobiological, neuroimaging, and computational studies that support this theory and discuss its implications as well as further issues to be addressed. (shrink)
Every choice we make is set against a background of massive ignorance about our past, our future, our circumstances, and ourselves. Philosophers are divided on the moral significance of such ignorance. Some say that it has a direct impact on how we ought to behave - the question of what our moral obligations are; others deny this, claiming that it only affects how we ought to be judged in light of the behaviour in which we choose to engage - the (...) question of what responsibility we bear for our choices. Michael Zimmerman claims that our ignorance has an important bearing on both questions, and offers an account of moral obligation and moral responsibility that is sharply at odds with the prevailing wisdom. His book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to advance a new understanding of gender as a routine accomplishment embedded in everyday interaction. To do so entails a critical assessment of existing perspectives on sex and gender and the introduction of important distinctions among sex, sex category, and gender. We argue that recognition of the analytical independence of these concepts is essential for understanding the interactional work involved in being a gendered person in society. The thrust of our remarks is toward theoretical (...) reconceptualization, but we consider fruitful directions for empirical research that are indicated by our formulation. (shrink)
Michael J. Zimmerman explores whether and how our ignorance about ourselves and our circumstances affects what our moral obligations and moral rights are. He rejects objective and subjective views of the nature of moral obligation, and presents a new case for a 'prospective' view.
Michael J. Zimmerman offers a conceptual analysis of the moral ‘ought’ that focuses on moral decision-making under uncertainty. His central case, originally presented by Frank Jackson, concerns a doctor who must choose among three treatments for a minor ailment. Her evidence suggests that drug B will partially cure her patient, that one of either drug A or C would cure him completely, but that the other drug would kill him. Accepting the intuition that the doctor ought to choose drug (...) B, Zimmerman argues that moral obligation consists in performing the action that is ‘prospectively best,’ that is ‘that which, from the moral point of view, it is most reasonable for the agent to choose’ given the evidence available to her at the time.Zimmerman defends his Prospective View of moral obligation against two main competitors in the long, first chapter of the book. According to the Objective View, a person ought to choose what is, in fact, the best option. The doctor ought to give her patient whichever drug will actually cure him. The fact that the doctor cannot know whether this is drug …. (shrink)
Aaron Zimmerman presents a new pragmatist account of belief, in terms of information poised to guide our more attentive, controlled actions. And he explores the consequences of this account for our understanding of the relation between psychology and philosophy, the mind and brain, the nature of delusion, faith, pretence, racism, and more.
Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value. The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.” Extrinsic value is value that is not intrinsic.
Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition. Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve the problem of (...) the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge. Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists. (shrink)
"Writing in a lively and refreshingly clear American English, Zimmerman provides an uncompromisingly honest and judicious account... of Heidegger’s views on technology and his involvement with National Socialism.... One of the most important books on Heidegger in recent years." —John D. Caputo "... superb... " —Thomas Sheehan, The New York Review of Books "... thorough and complex... " —Choice "... excellent guide to Heidegger as eco-philosopher." —Radical Philosophy "... engrossing, rich in substance... makes clear Heidegger's importance for the issue (...) of technology, ethics, and politics." —Religious Studies Review The relation between Martin Heidegger’s understanding of technology and his affiliation with and conception of National Socialism is the leading idea of this fascinating and revealing book. Zimmerman shows that the key to the relation between Heidegger’s philosophy and his politics was his concern with the nature of working and production. (shrink)
The principal aim of this book is to develop and defend an analysis of the concept of moral obligation. The analysis is neutral regarding competing substantive theories of obligation, whether consequentialist or deontological in character. What it seeks to do is generate solutions to a range of philosophical problems concerning obligation and its application. Amongst these problems are deontic paradoxes, the supersession of obligation, conditional obligation, prima facie obligation, actualism and possibilism, dilemmas, supererogation, and cooperation. By virtue of its normative (...) neutrality, the analysis provides a theoretical framework within which competing theories of obligation can be developed and assessed. This study is a major contribution to metaethics that will be of particular interest to all philosophers concerned with normative ethical theory. (shrink)
At the heart of ethics reside the concepts of good and bad; they are at work when we assess whether a person is virtuous or vicious, an act right or wrong, a decision defensible or indefensible, a goal desirable or undesirable. But there are many varieties of goodness and badness. At their core lie intrinsic goodness and badness, the sort of value that something has for its own sake. It is in virtue of intrinsic value that other types of value (...) may be understood, and hence that we can begin to come to terms with questions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and so on. This book investigates the nature of intrinsic value: just what it is for something to be valuable for its own sake, just what sort of thing can have such value, just how such a value is to be computed. In the final chapter, the fruits of this investigation are applied to a discussion of pleasure, pain, and displeasure and also of moral virtue and vice, in order to determine just what value lies within these phenomena. (shrink)
This superbly crafted account of the notion of moral responsibility and of its relations to freedom, control, ignorance, negligence, attempts, omissions, compulsion, mental disorders, virtues and vices, desert, and punishment fills that gap. The treatment of character and luck is particularly sophisticated and well-argued.
Recent defenders of the cognitive significance of religious language have had to face opponents from two directions; from those who demand that religious language be capable of some form of empirical verification and from those who demand that for religious language to be meaningful it must be capable of being understood in ordinary language. Apologists who have taken the first challenge seriously have strained to show that religious statements can be verified by ‘religious experience’, or by an ‘odd discernment’ or (...) by an ‘eschatological verification’. Each of these responses raises further problems for the defender of religion, but in general they all are subject to their failure to provide an adequate criterion or standard by which they could be inter-subjectively tested. Facing in the other direction, theological apologists have attempted to justify religious expressions by showing that they could be subsumed under special categories of ordinary language; namely those of ‘convictional language’ and ‘performative language’. Although these defenders have shown that religious language has an ‘ordinary usage’, they have not shown that the cognitive elements of this usage can be reduced to the ‘use of ordinary language’. (shrink)
In _The Immorality of Punishment_ Michael Zimmerman argues forcefully that not only our current practice but indeed any practice of legal punishment is deeply morally repugnant, no matter how vile the behaviour that is its target. Despite the fact that it may be difficult to imagine a state functioning at all, let alone well, without having recourse to punishing those who break its laws, Zimmerman makes a timely and compelling case for the view that we must seek and (...) put into practice alternative means of preventing crime and promoting social stability. (shrink)
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name ‘taking tense seriously’; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A‐theories. Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A‐theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: growing‐block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, (...) to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A‐theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an ‘eternalist’ version of the A‐theory collapses into merely ‘taking tense seriously’– a thesis that does not imply the A‐theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A‐theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
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Innovative practice occurs when a clinician provides something new, untested, or nonstandard to a patient in the course of clinical care, rather than as part of a research study. Commentators have noted that patients engaged in innovative practice are at significant risk of suffering harm, exploitation, or autonomy violations. By creating a pathway for harmful or nonbeneficial interventions to spread within medical practice without being subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation, innovative practice poses similar risks to the wider community of patients (...) and society as a whole. Given these concerns, how should we control and oversee innovative practice, and in particular, how should we coordinate innovative practice and clinical research? In this article, I argue that an ethical approach to overseeing innovative practice must encourage the early transition to rigorous clinical research without delaying or deferring the development of beneficial innovations or violating the autonomy rights of clinicians and their patients. (shrink)
The following argument is addressed: (1) a person is morally responsible for an event's occurring only if that event's occurring was not a matter of luck; (2) no event is such that its occurring is not a matter of luck; therefore, (3) no event is such that someone is morally responsible for its occurring. Two notions of control are distinguished: restricted and complete. (2) is shown false on the first interpretation, (1) on the second. The discussion involves a distinction between (...) resultant and situational luck, And it is argued that, Even when luck's role in life, And the unfairness that stems from it, Is acknowledged, Moral responsibility remains possible. (shrink)
How do we know right from wrong? Do we even have moral knowledge? Moral epistemology studies these and related questions about our understanding of virtue and vice. It is one of philosophy’s perennial problems, reaching back to Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Hume and Kant, and has recently been the subject of intense debate as a result of findings in developmental and social psychology. Throughout the book Zimmerman argues that our belief in moral knowledge can survive sceptical challenges. He also (...) draws on a rich range of examples from Plato’s Meno and Dickens’ David Copperfield to Bernard Madoff and Saddam Hussein. (shrink)
Let us say that an extended object is “composed wholly of simples” just in case it is an aggregate of absolutely unextended parts spread throughout an extended region—that is, just in case there is a set S such that: every member is a point-sized part of the object, and for every x, x is part of the object if and only if it has a part in common with some member of S. Could a truly extended substance be composed entirely (...) of unextended parts? Reflection upon the fact that it must be at least possible for extended objects to touch one another suggests that the answer to this question is: No. (shrink)
This is an introduction to metaphysics for students and non-philosophers. (Philosophers: it's supposed to be the kind of book you can give to your friends and family, when they ask what you do for a living.) Contents: personal identity, fatalism, time, God, why not nothing?, free will, constitution, universals, necessity and possibility, what is metaphysics? (There is a second edition, which adds chapters on meta-metaphysics and the metaphysics of ethics.).
The ‘friends of temporal parts’ and their opponents disagree about how things persist through time. The former, who hold what is sometimes called a ‘4D’ theory of persistence, typically claim that all objects that last for any period of time are spread out through time in the same way that spatially extended objects are spread out through space — a different part for each region that the object fills. David Lewis calls this manner of persisting ‘perdurance’. The opposing, ‘3D’ theory (...) has it that at least some objects do not persist in this manner; they ‘endure’ through time by ‘being wholly present at more than one time’.1 A related dispute pits ‘presentists’ against ‘non-presentists’. Presentists hold that the only things that really exist are those that exist now, at the present moment; and nonpresentists believe in something like a ‘block-universe’ in which non-simultaneous objects and events nevertheless co-exist (in a tenseless or non-temporal sense). Of late, the relations between these four positions have come under considerable scrutiny.2 As Ned Markosian has pointed out, it would be surprising if commitment to a perdurance or endurance theory of persistence automatically foreclosed one’s options in the presentism—non-presentism debate. But, says Markosian, that is just what the standard formulations of the perdurance and endurance theories imply.3 David Lewis has set the terms of the debate; in his usage, someone who thinks that all persisting objects endure would be said to hold the following. (shrink)
The paper explores the promise of ethical codes as a means to control unethical behavior in business. After a review of arguments for ethical codes from outside the business system, the paper outlines the arguments for codes from inside the business system at the level of the industry, firm and individual executive.The paper then discusses the problems of code design — the dilemma between specific practices and general precepts — and offers a model for a thoroughgoing code. This is followed (...) by a discussion of the problems of promulgation and code enforcement. (shrink)
Neo-Cartesian approaches to belief place greater evidential weight on a subject's introspective judgments than do neo-behaviorist accounts. As a result, the two views differ on whether our absent-minded and weak-willed actions are guided by belief. I argue that simulationist accounts of the concept of belief are committed to neo-Cartesianism, and, though the conceptual and empirical issues that arise are inextricably intertwined, I discuss experimental results that should point theory-theorists in that direction as well. Belief is even less closely connected to (...) behaviour than most contemporary functionalists allow. (shrink)
Physical boundaries and the earliest topologists. Topology has a relatively short history; but its 19th century roots are embedded in philosophical problems about the nature of extended substances and their boundaries which go back to Zeno and Aristotle. Although it seems that there have always been philosophers interested in these matters, questions about the boundaries of three-dimensional objects were closest to center stage during the later medieval and modern periods. Are the boundaries of an object actually existing, less-than-three-dimensional parts of (...) the object—that is, are solids bounded by two-dimensional surfaces, surfaces by one-dimensional “edges” or “physical lines”, edges by dimensionless “simples”? If not, how does a perfectly spherical object manage to touch a perfectly flat object—what part of the sphere is in immediate contact with the plane, if the sphere has no unextended parts? But if such parts be admitted, are we not then saddled with “actual infinities” of simples, lines, and surfaces spread throughout each continuous object—the boundaries of all the object’s internal parts? Does it help to say that these internal boundaries exist only “potentially”? (shrink)
Many philosophers hold that whether an act is overall morally obligatory is an ‘objective’ matter, many that it is a ‘subjective’ matter, and some that it is both. The idea that it is or can be both may seem to promise a helpful answer to the question ‘What ought I to do when I do not know what I ought to do?’ In this article, three broad views are distinguished regarding what it is that obligation essentially concerns: the maximization of (...) actual value, the maximization of expected value, and the perceived maximization of actual value. The first and third views are rejected; the second view is then refined and defended. The unfortunate upshot is that there may be no very helpful answer to the question just mentioned. As to the question posed in the title of the article, the answer unsurprisingly depends on what ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ are taken to mean. (Published Online November 24 2006). (shrink)
Many philosophers endorse the idea that there can be no moral responsibility without a moral community and thus hold that such responsibility is essentially interpersonal. In this paper, various interpretations of this idea are distinguished, and it is argued that no interpretation of it captures a significant truth. The popular view that moral responsibility consists in answerability is discussed and dismissed. The even more popular view that such responsibility consists in susceptibility to the reactive attitudes is also discussed, and it (...) is argued that this view at best supports only an etiolated interpretation of the idea that moral responsibility is essentially interpersonal. (shrink)
It is not easy to be a materialist and yet believe that there is a way for human beings to survive death. Peter van Inwagen identifies the central obstacle the materialist faces: Namely, the need to posit appropriate “immanent-causal” connections between my body as it is at death and some living body elsewhere or elsewhen. I offer a proposal, consistent with van Inwagen’s own materialist metaphysics, for making materialism compatible with the possibility of survival.