“Being adept at philosophy doesn’t mean that you can’t be practical, doesn’t mean you can’t have hands-on experience of the world, doesn’t mean that you are in any way isolated and theoretical. If that were the case then we’d be very poor human beings.”.
Ethical objectivists hold that there is one and only one correct system of moral beliefs. From such a standpoint it follows that conflicting basic moral principles cannot both be true and that the only moral principles which are binding on rational human agents are those described by the single true morality. However sincerely they may be held, all other moral principles are incorrect. Objectivism is an influential tradition, covering most of the rationalist and naturalist standpoints which have dominated nineteenth and (...) twentieth century moral philosophy: there is widespread agreement amongst relativists themselves that objectivism is firmly rooted in common sense. (shrink)
In this paper we present a dynamic assignment language which extends the dynamic predicate logic of Groenendijk and Stokhof [1991: 39–100] with assignment and with generalized quantifiers. The use of this dynamic assignment language for natural language analysis, along the lines of o.c. and [Barwise, 1987: 1–29], is demonstrated by examples. We show that our representation language permits us to treat a wide variety of donkey sentences: conditionals with a donkey pronoun in their consequent and quantified sentences with donkey pronouns (...) anywhere in the scope of the quantifier. It is also demonstrated that our account does not suffer from the so-called proportion problem.Discussions about the correctness or incorrectness of proposals for dynamic interpretation of language have been hampered in the past by the difficulty of seeing through the ramifications of the dynamic semantic clauses (phrased in terms of input-output behaviour) in non-trivial cases. To remedy this, we supplement the dynamic semantics of our representation language with an axiom system in the style of Hoare. While the representation languages of barwise and Groenendijk and Stokhof were not axiomatized, the rules we propose form a deduction system for the dynamic assignment language which is proved correct and complete with respect to the semantics. (shrink)
It is my view that one essential difference between persons and other creatures is to be found in the structure of a person's will. Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, men may also want to have certain desires and motives. They are capable of wanting to be different, in their preferences and purposes, from what they are. Many animals appear to have the capacity for what I shall call "first-order desires" or "desires of the (...) first order," which are simply desires to do or not to do one thing or another. No animal other than man, however, appears to have the capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the formation of second-order desires. (shrink)
The Routledge Classic Edition of Daniels’ influential 2001 text _Vygotsky and Pedagogy_ explores the growing interest in Vygotsky and the pedagogic implications of the body of work that is developing under the influence of his theories. With a new preface from Harry Daniels this book explores the growing interest in Vygotsky and the pedagogic implications of the body of work that is developing under the influence of his theories. It provides an overview of the ways in which the original (...) writing has been extended and identifies areas for future development. The author considers how these developments are creating new and important possibilities for the practices of teaching and learning in school and beyond, and illustrates how Vygotskian theory can be applied in the classroom. The book is intended for students and academics in education and the social sciences and will be of interest to all those who wish to develop an analysis of pedagogic practice within and beyond the field of education. (shrink)
One of the most influential of contemporary philosophers, Harry Frankfurt has made major contributions to the philosophy of action, moral psychology, and the study of Descartes. This collection of essays complements an earlier collection published by Cambridge, The Importance of What We Care About. Some of the essays develop lines of thought found in the earlier volume. They deal in general with foundational metaphysical and epistemological issues concerning Descartes, moral philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. Some bear upon topics in political (...) philosophy and religion. (shrink)
Harry G. Frankfurt begins his inquiry by asking, “What is it about human beings that makes it possible for us to take ourselves seriously?” Based on The Tanner Lectures in Moral Philosophy, Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting It Right delves into this provocative and original question. The author maintains that taking ourselves seriously presupposes an inward-directed, reflexive oversight that enables us to focus our attention directly upon ourselves, and “[it] means that we are not prepared to accept ourselves just (...) as we come. We want our thoughts, our feelings, our choices, and our behavior to make sense. We are not satisfied to think that our ideas are formed haphazardly, or that our actions are driven by transient and opaque impulses or by mindless decisions. We need to direct ourselves—or at any rate to believe that we are directing ourselves—in thoughtful conformity to stable and appropriate norms. We want to get things right.” The essays delineate two features that have a critical role to play in this: our rationality, and our ability to love. Frankfurt incisively explores the roles of reason and of love in our active lives, and considers the relation between these two motivating forces of our actions. The argument is that the authority of practical reason is less fundamental than the authority of love. Love, as the author defines it, is a volitional matter, that is, it consists in what we are actually committed to caring about. Frankfurt adds that “The object of love can be almost anything—a life, a quality of experience, a person, a group, a moral ideal, a nonmoral ideal, a tradition, whatever.” However, these objects and ideals are difficult to comprehend and often in conflict with each other. Moral principles play an important supporting role in this process as they help us develop and elucidate a vision that inspires our love. The first section of the book consists of the two lectures, which are entitled “Taking Ourselves Seriously” and “Getting It Right.” The second section consists of comments in response by Christine M. Korsgaard, Michael E. Bratman, and Meir Dan-Cohen. The book includes a preface by Debra Satz. (shrink)
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions (...) it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory." Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all. Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are. (shrink)
What is education for? Should it produce workers or educate future citizens? Is there a place for faith schools - and should patriotism be taught? In this compelling and controversial book, Harry Brighouse takes on all these urgent questions and more. He argues that children share four fundamental interests: the ability to make their own judgements about what values to adopt; acquiring the skills that will enable them to become economically self-sufficient as adults; being exposed to a range of (...) activities and experiences that will enable them to flourish in their personal lives; and developing a sense of justice. He criticises sharply those who place the interests of the economy before those of children, and assesses the arguments for and against the controversial issues of faith schools and the teaching of patriotism. Clearly argued but provocative, On Education draws on recent examples from Britain and North America as well as famous thinkers on education such as Aristotle and John Locke. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the present state of education and its future. (shrink)
'Mass terms', words like water, rice and traffic, have proved very difficult to accommodate in any theory of meaning since, unlike count nouns such as house or dog, they cannot be viewed as part of a logical set and differ in their grammatical properties. In this study, motivated by the need to design a computer program for understanding natural language utterances incorporating mass terms, Harry Bunt provides a thorough analysis of the problem and offers an original and detailed solution. (...) An extension of classical set theory, Ensemble Theory, is defined, and this provides the conceptual basis of a framework for the analysis of natural language meaning which Dr Bunt calls Two-level model-theoretic semantics. The validity of the framework is convincingly demonstrated by the formal analysis of a fragment of English including sentences with quantified and modified mass terms. Separate chapters of the book are devoted to an axiomatic definition of Ensemble Theory and a detailed discussion of its status as a mathematical formalism. (shrink)
A chemostratigraphic study of a 300 m long core recovered from the southeastern central Ordos depocenter reveals thick intervals of fine-grained, organic-rich lacustrine strata, interpreted to represent deepwater deposition under meromictic conditions during lake highstand phases, interspersed with thick intervals of arkosic sandstones, reflective of fluvio-deltaic deposition during lake lowstand phases. Along with elevated concentrations of %Al, traditionally a proxy for clay content, maximum total-organic-carbon values in the deepwater lacustrine facies reach 8%, with average values of approximately 3%. The fine-grained, (...) organic-rich facies is also characterized by elevated S and As concentrations, both proxies for pyrite, an indicator of more stagnant, reducing conditions in the hypolimnion during lake highstand phases. Enrichment factors for redox-sensitive trace elements are not significantly elevated throughout the TOC-rich intervals, but they are punctuated in thinner intervals. Punctuated enrichments in RSTEs reflect episodes of enhanced suboxia/anoxia in the hypolimnion during lake highstand phases resulting from sustained meromixis. Although dramatic shifts between fluvio-deltaic and deepwater lacustrine deposition are recorded in the Yanchang strata, no evidence indicates that the lacustrine system ever built up a significant salt concentration, suggesting that an outlet was maintained throughout much of the depositional history. A chemofacies framework for the Yanchang Formation is developed based on hierarchical cluster analysis and ranking of major element chemostratigraphic results. The outcome of chemofacies analysis is similar to the lithofacies analysis, subdividing the stratigraphic record of calcite-cemented sandstone/siltstone lithologies and silty to finer grained mudstone lithologies based on changes in elemental concentrations that equate to shifts in the relative abundance of mineral contents. (shrink)
Some of the barriers to the realisation of equality reflect the value of respecting prerogatives people have to favour themselves. Even G.A. Cohen, whose egalitarianism is especially pervasive and demanding, says that.
An conversation with Harry Frankfurt about his views on love, free will, and responsibility, as well as his general approach to philosophy. (Note: a revised version appears in Alex Voorhoeve, Conversations on Ethics, OUP 2009).
In his ecological approach to perception, James Gibson introduced the concept of affordance to refer to the perceived meaning of environmental objects and events. this paper examines the relational and causal character of affordances, as well as the grounds for extending affordances beyond environmental features with transcultural meaning to include those features with culturally-specific meaning. such an extension is seen as warranted once affordances are grounded in an intentional analysis of perception. toward this end, aspects of merleau-ponty's treatment of perception (...) are explored. finally, a resolution of the apparent tension between the relational and perceiver-independent nature of affordances is presented. (shrink)
Darwin’s theory predicts that linguistic behavior gradually evolved out of animal forms of communication. However, this prediction is confronted by the conceptual problem that there is an essential difference between signaling and linguistic behavior: using words is a normative practice. It is argued that we can resolve this problem if we note that language evolution is the outcome of an evolutionary transition, and observe that the use of words evolves during ontogenesis out of babbling. It is discussed that language evolved (...) as the result of an expansion of the vocalizing powers of our ancestors. This involved an increase in the volitional control of our speech apparatus, but also the evolution of socially guided learning. It resulted in unique human abilities, namely doing things with words and later reasoning and giving reasons. (shrink)
If someone commits the mereological fallacy, then he ascribes psychological predicates to parts of an animal that apply only to the (behaving) animal as a whole. This incoherence is not strictly speaking a fallacy, i.e. an invalid argument, since it is not an argument but an illicit predication. However, it leads to invalid inferences and arguments, and so can loosely be called a fallacy. However, discussions of this particular illicit predication, the mereological fallacy, show that it is often misunderstood. Many (...) misunderstandings concern the use of this illicit predication in the course of discussions of understanding the mind/body problem. Our aim here is to provide an accessible overview through discussing common misconceptions of the fallacy. We also discuss how conceptual investigations of the relation between living organisms and their parts fit within the framework of modern evolutionary theory, i.e. inclusive fitness theory. (shrink)
Philosophers have shown that the Aristotelian conception of mind and body is capable of resolving the problems confronting dualism. In this paper the resolution of the mind–body problem is extended with a scientific solution by integrating the Aristotelian framework with evolutionary theory. It is discussed how the theories of Fisher and Hamilton enable us to construct and solve hypotheses about how the mind evolved out of matter. These hypotheses are illustrated by two examples: the evolutionary transition from cells to multicellular (...) organisms, and the evolutionary transition from babbling to doing things with words and later reasoning and giving reasons. The first transitions resulted in the sensitive psyche of the other animals, the second in the rational psyche of humans. It is discussed how exploratory behaviour of lower-level entities facilitated these evolutionary transitions. (shrink)
Some theorists argue that rather than advocating a principle of educational equality as a component of a theory of justice in education, egalitarians should adopt a principle of educational adequacy. This paper looks at two recent attempts to show that adequacy, not equality, constitutes justice in education. It responds to the criticisms of equality by claiming that they are either unsuccessful or merely show that other values are also important, not that equality is not important. It also argues that a (...) principle of educational adequacy cannot be all there is to justice in education. (shrink)