This paper considers the converse of the principle that ought implies can, namely, the principle that must implies ought. It argues that this principle is the central premiss for Mill's argument that happiness is desirable (worthy of desire), and it examines the sense of must that is relevant and the implications it has for Mill's moral philosophy.
Exemplification can be found in ontologies from the ancient world, such as those of Plato and Aristotle, and more recent ontologies, in particular those that take what exists to be determined by the empiricist’s Principle of Acquaintance. This study examines some of the ways in which exemplification takes different forms in these different ontologies. Exemplification has also been criticized as an ontological category. This paper examines a number of these criticisms, to see the extent to which they are viable.
Addis (1981) has criticized a proposal of ours (Wilson [1969b]) for analysing disposition predications in terns of the horseshoe of material implication, and has proposed a related but significantly different analysis. This paper restates the original proposal, and defends it against Addis's criticisms. It is further argued that his proposal will not do as a general account of disposition predications; that, however, if it is suitably qualified, then it does account for certain special sorts of disposition predication; but that so (...) understood, it can be seen to be but a special case of ours. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill proposed that all policy precepts, be they in the areas of morality or prudence or aesthetics, are all subordinate to the precepts of the Art of Life. The value which he assumes in defining the Art of Life is the Principle of Utility. This principle, being normative rather than fact, can admit of no proof based solely on deductive inference. Yet Mill proposed considerations that he believed capable of rationally persuading one to accept his principle as the (...) basic principle for the Art of Life. This paper aims to evaluate this argument. In particular, it tries to show that a crucial step, often thought to be a logical howler, is not to be so simply dismissed. It is shown that if one accepts certain theses from Mill's philosophy of science and of social science, concerning the composition of causes, then the crucial step is fully justified. It is also suggested that these theses of Mill's philosophy of science are mistaken. So Mill's proof of utility is, after all, unsound, but the reconstruction proposed shows it to be much more plausible and much more philosophically interesting than is often thought. (shrink)
The claim that scientific explanation is deductive has been attacked on both systematic and historical grounds. This paper briefly defends the claim against the systematic attack. Essential to this defence is a distinction between perfect and imperfect explanation. This distinction is then used to illuminate the differences and similarities between Aristotelian (anthropomorphic) explanations of certain facts and those of classical mechanics. In particular, it is argued that when one attempts to fit classical mechanics into the Aristotelian framework the latter becomes (...) structurally incoherent. It is suggested that this, together with the fact that classical mechanics embodied the first piece of perfect knowledge, accounts, in part at least, for the historical fact of the rapid demise of the Aristotelian patterns as the new science developed. On the basis of this discussion, the inadequacies of the attack on the deductive model on historical grounds by Toulmin come to be seen. (shrink)
Bergmann has proposed an ontology that contains an entity many find strange: particularity. And in fact, Bergmann, too, seems to find it strange. He proposes a phenomenological method in ontology, and holds, as he therefore should, that particularity is presented. Nonetheless, he also holds that it is ineffable, that its presence in a particular is an unsayable state of affairs, and that it is something which is not a thing and yet is also not nothing. Bergmann’s position has been long (...) developing, but especially in three recent essays. The aim of the present essay is to explore these views. We shall examine Bergmann’s method, and some criticisms of it by Rosenberg, in order to see whether we cannot get a better grasp of particularity. Specifically, we shall try to see whether it is not, after all, effable. It will turn out that this disagreement on the effability of particularity is really three disagreements: one concerning whether a particular can be thought apart from particularity, a second concerning the analysis of intentionality, and a third concerning whether, in the ontologically important sense of ‘different’, entities that are different are separable. (shrink)
It has been argued that Hume's account of testimony is seriously inadequate: an autonomous knower of the sort Hume defends cannot, through simple inductive methods, justify accepting another's testimony as true. This conclusion is no doubt correct. But Hume does not defend the idea of an autonomous knower, nor does he defend relying upon simple inductive methods. An examination of Hume's critique of Descartes’ method of doubt shows him as a defender of what might be called the responsible knower, and (...) reveals the sophistication of the inductive methods he wishes to defend. It is shown that Hume can and does use these methods to justify accepting the testimony of others. (shrink)
If one proposes to analyze dispositions by means of statements involving only the 'if-then' of material implication--that is, for example, to define 'x is soluble' by means of 'x is in water ⊃ x dissolves'--then one faces the problem first raised by Carnap, the match which is never put in water and which therefore turns out to be not only soluble but also both soluble and insoluble. I have elsewhere argued that if one refers to appropriate laws, then one can (...) provide an account of disposition predication that solves Carnap's problem while requiring no sense of 'if-then' other than that of material implication. Harre and Madden have argued that a variant of this proposal--one in which the relevant law is restricted to one that relates the disposition to internal structures--is more adequate. It is argued that the proposal of Harre and Madden is in fact not adequate. It leads to an implausible infinite regress of dispositions and ever finer internal structures, which Harre and Madden avoid only by introducing "Parmenidean individuals." The examples they give turn out to involve dispositions not grounded in internal structures, and so support our analysis; while the explicit description of such individuals by Harre and Madden involves the incoherent idea that two individuals can share all categorical properties while differing in their dispositions. The position of Harre and Madden thus turns out to be equivalent to ours or to be incoherent. (shrink)
In a crucial passage in the Treatise, Hume argues that all our sense impressions are dependent for their existence upon the state of our sense organs. Hume points out that this is not the same as an ontological dependence upon minds; and moreover the argument is clearly causal. Hume uses it to establish the system of the philosophers as opposed to the system of the vulgar. This paper argues that Hume’s case parallels that which, in this century, the critical realists (...) made against the new realists. Consequently, it is also argued, Hume is best construed, in this passage at least, as defending critical realism, rather than, as many critics contend, a version of subjectivistic scepticism. (shrink)
This paper argues that, contrary to most interpretations, e.g., those of Reid, Popkin and Passmore, Hume is not a sceptic with regard to reason. The argument of Treatise I, IV. i, of course, has a sceptical conclusion with regard to reason, and a somewhat similar point is made by Cleanthes in the Dialogues. This paper argues that the argument of Treatise I, IV. i is parallel to similar arguments in Bentham and Laplace. The latter are, as far as they go, (...) sound, and so is Hume’s. But the limitations of all mean that they cannot sustain a general argument against reason. Hume the historian is quite aware of these limitations. So is Hume the philosopher. A careful examination of the other references in the Treatise to the argument of I, IV. i reveals that Hume not only rejects but constructs a sound case against accepting the sceptical conclusion, arguing that reason can indeed show the sceptic’s argument to be unreasonable. A close reading of the Dialogues shows that Hume there also draws the same conclusion. The thrust of the paper is to go some way towards showing that it is a myth that Hume is a pyrrhonian sceptic. (shrink)