This article reconsiders Sartre's seminal 1945 talk, “Existentialism is a Humanism,” and the stakes of the humanism debate in France by looking at the immediate political context that has been overlooked in previous discussions of the text. It analyses the political discussion of the term “humanism” during the French national elections of 1945 and the rumbling debate over Sartre's philosophy that culminated in his presentation to the Club Maintenant, just one week after France went to the polls. A consideration of (...) this context helps explain both the rise, and later the decline, of existentialism in France, when, in the changing political climate, humanism lost its centrality, setting the stage for new antihumanist criticisms of Sartre's work. (shrink)
In Morals By Agreement, David Gauthier concludes that under certain conditions it is rational for an agent to be disposed to choose in accordance with a fair cooperative scheme rather than to choose the course of action that maximizes his utility. This is only one of a number of important claims advanced in that book. In particular, he also propounds a distinctive view concerning what counts as a fair cooperative arrangement. The thesis concerning the rationality of adopting a cooperative disposition (...) is, however, logically independent of his substantive view of a fair cooperative scheme and is itself central to the project as a whole. Gauthier's concern is to establish that certain moral principles are those that fully rational, self-interested persons would agree to take as regulative of their dealings with one another – that a contractarian approach, in this sense, can provide an adequate basis for a theory of morality. (shrink)
The eminent biologist reflects on his own response to nature and the aesthetic aspects of his exploration of natural systems in an intensely personal essay that examines the essential links between mankind and the rest of the living world.
Butler refused to be satisfied with just one leading principle, or rational basis for human action, but in the end settled for three: self-love, to provide for our ‘own private good’; benevolence, to consider ‘the good of our fellow creatures’ ; and conscience, ‘to preside and govern’ over our lives as a whole . By so doing he hoped to ensure a completeness to our ethical scheme, so that nothing would be omitted from our moral deliberations. Yet by so doing (...) he also exposed himself to severe criticism. For any such appeal to a plurality of principles, as Green remarked, is ‘repugnant both to the philosophic craving for unity, and to that ideal of “singleness of heart” which we have been accustomed to associate with the highest virtue’. More specifically, by appealing to a plurality of principles Butler faced the charges of circularity, where the principles come to define and defend each other; inconsistency, where the principles ‘take turns’ at being primary and hence render each other superfluous; and incompleteness, where the ‘primary principle’ is itself undefined or undefended. As the tale has been told Butler stands accused of all three of these errors. (shrink)
Since neither of these two inordinately long responses deals seriously with what I said in “An Ideology of Difference” , both the Boyarins and Griffin are made even more absurd by actual events occurring as they wrote. The Israeli army has by now been in direct and brutal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for twenty-one years; the intifadah, surely the most impressive and disciplined anticolonial insurrection in this century, is now in its eleventh month. The daily killings (...) of unarmed Palestinians by armed Israelis, soldiers and settlers, numbers several hundred; yesterday two more Palestinians were killed, the day before four were killed. The beatings, expulsions, wholesale collective punishments, the closure of schools and universities, as well as the imprisonment of dozens of thousands in places like Ansar III, a concentration camp, continue. A V sign flashed by a young Palestinian carries with six months in jail; a Palestinian flag can get you up to ten years; you risk burial alive by zealous Israel Defense Forces soldiers; if you are a member of a popular committee you are liable to arrest, and all professional, syndical, or community associations are now illegal. Any Palestinian can be put in jail without charge or trial for up to six months, renewable, for any offense, which needn’t be revealed to him or her. For non-Jews, approximately 1.5 million people on the West Bank and Gaza, there are thus no rights whatever. On the other hand, Jews are protected by Israeli law on the Occupied Territories. In such a state of apartheid—so named by most honest Israelis—the intifadah continues, as does the ideology of difference vainly attempting to repress and willfully misinterpret its significance. Edward W. Said is Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His most recent contribution to Critical Inquiry is “Representing the Colonized: Anthropology’s Interlocutors”. (shrink)
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
This paper is a response to Kathleen Stock’s book Material Girls, by way of imitation. I have attempted to write a faux chapter in the book’s style, identifying four moments in overcoming the low-high culture divide in responses to the arts.
Three of the most venerable objections to anthropomorphic conceptions of the divine are traceable to Xenophanes and his critique of the early Greek gods. Though suitably revised, these ancient criticisms have persisted over the centuries, plaguing various religious communities, particularly those of classical Christian commitment. Xenophanes complained that anthropomorphism leads to unseemly characterizations, noting that both over the ages, the list of unseemly characteristics has expanded somewhat.
Why do people expend resources to vote in large-number situations where the probability of their affecting the outcome is close to zero? In a recent article, Geoffrey Brennan and Loren Lomasky argue provocatively that Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments not only predicts such behavior, but further predicts that people “frequently” vote for outcomes that cost them more than they would individually be willing to pay. In other words, in the relevant environment, they claim that individuals will systematically express (...) false preferences for costly outcomes they “really” do not want. I submit that a fair reading of TMS in fact provides no basis for their view; if anything, TMS suggests the opposite. (shrink)
This article is about decision making by juries in capital cases. A jury is a collection of individuals who may possess differing views about factors relevant to the task before them, but who must, nonetheless, arrive collectively at a decision. As such, the members of the jury face a classic social choice problem. We investigate how this problem is likely to be resolved under various institutional regimes, differentiated by the set of individuals who are allowed to participate and the decision (...) rule controlling their activities. As in our previous paper analyzing decision making by juries, we focus here on an aspect of the process that has been neglected in judicial opinions and academic scholarship: namely to what extent, and how, persistent disagreement among jurors can and will be resolved. (shrink)
v. 1. Freedom of the will -- v. 2. Religious affections -- v. 3. Original sin -- v. 4. The Great Awakening -- v. 5. Apocalyptic writings -- v. 6. Scientific and philosophical writings -- v. 7. The life of David Brainerd -- v. 8. Ethical writings -- v. 9. A history of the work of redemption -- v. 10. Sermons and discourses, 1720-1723 -- v. 13. The "miscellanies" (entry nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500) -- v. 15. Notes on Scripture -- (...) v. 17. Sermons and discourses, 1730-1733 -- v. 18. The "miscellanies" (entry nos. 501-832) -- v. 19. Sermons and discourses, 1734-1738 -- v. 20. The miscellanies -- v. 22. Sermons and discourses, 1739-1742 -- v. 24. The "blank Bible" (2 v.). (shrink)
John Nye feels that one of my two brief specific references to his work “leaves the impression that my work downplays the problems of individual differences in taste or social institutions by dismissing them out of hand”. Let me assure him that he is unduly alarmed, since virtually all readers will read into the passage that he quotes only what I intended and, indeed, what Nye himself intended - that if he or anyone else had found evidence that firm size (...) mattered for productivity, this would be taken as evidence of inefficiency. This is especially clear because in the previous paragraph I took note of Nye's own review of the extensive literature that argues that “less productive and, therefore, ‘inefficient’ family firms led to French ‘backwardness’ in production”. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson objects that we do not have any reason to regard reflective equilibrium as a philosophical method, whether good or bad. In this paper, I propose a less demanding account of when a method is being described.
In this paper, I present a problem for regarding the reflective equilibrium and original position methods as consistent. I do not prove that there is an inconsistency, but there is a puzzle of how the two methods can be made consistent.
I. Two topics given prominence in the early sections of Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding are those of thought and belief. Of each Hume asks two questions. One, which we might call the constitutive question: what exactly is it to have a thought, or to hold a belief?—and another, which we may call the genetic question: how do we come by our thoughts, or our capacity to think them, and how do we come to believe that certain of these thoughts (...) are true? In this lecture I shall be considering the detail of Hume's answers to these questions; but first I want to say a little about why they should have loomed large for him at all. (shrink)