It is fashionable now-a-days to regard Aristotle’s logic as being the skeleton in the closet of Aristotelian philosophy. As Miss Anscombe has acidly remarked, “Aristotle himself … misconceived the importance of the categorical syllogism, supposing that the theory of it gave him the key to the nature of scientific knowledge. He expresses this view in what I find his worst book: Book I of the Posterior Analytics.”.
One ventures to suggest that in reading this book, any reader—particularly if the reader is something of an Aristotelian—will experience just such excitement and tension as he or she doubtless would have felt in witnessing Jacob wrestling with the angel! For the author does, indeed, wrestle with Aristotle—not, to be sure, with a view to throwing him for a fall, but rather with a view to bringing out the incredible strength and resourcefulness of Aristotle’s ethics.
“Modern ethics,” so-called, has only in the most recent years come under some very sharp and telling, not to say even devastating, criticism. And what is it that one should understand by this term, “modern ethics”? Well, it is a term used largely by very recent critics to designate that whole tradition in ethics, in part utilitarian and in part Kantian in character, that has quite dominated the study of ethics, at least in Anglo-American philosophy, for upwards of three-quarters of (...) a century and more now. (shrink)
‘Apologetics’ is hardly a word to be used without apology in the present dispensation. And to speak of anything like a neglected avenue or opportunity in religious apologetics might almost seem as if one were speaking of an opportunity in just such an enterprise as no self-respecting philosopher would nowadays wish even to be associated with. For all of their avoidance of the term, however, the thing designated by the term is something with which not a few philosophers of recent (...) years have been not above dabbling in, albeit usually under other names and other labels. After all, religious language has now come to be recognized as not just a legitimate, but even a fashionable object of philosophic attention. And a concern with religious language has often brought with it a concern with religious attitudes, religious behaviour, religious argumentation — yes, even to the point of occasionally becoming a concern with the very religious realities themselves that religious language, religious attitudes, religious behaviour, and religious argument are presumably all about. True, religious realities in this sense are to today's garden of philosophy pretty much what the tree of knowledge once was to the garden of Eden. In fact, one even suspects that there could be a serpent about somewhere, for cases have been reported of an occasional philosopher Adam or philosopher Eve having yielded to temptation: a consideration of God-talk has been known to lead to cautious admissions that such talk might be cognitively meaningful; a consideration of God-experiences to the admission that such experiences under certain circumstances could be veridical; or, even more rarely, a consideration of proofs for God's existence to the gingerly admission that at least some of these proofs might just possibly be valid. Needless to say, though, such a yielding to temptation on the part of some few contemporary philosophers, while it may not have led to any manifest sewing together of fig-leaves, has certainly brought with it the danger, if not always the reality, of a supercilious expulsion from the glorious Eden of contemporary professional philosophy. (shrink)
When the very possibility of a Christian philosophy was raised in the celebrated Bréhier-Gilson debate over half-a-century ago, there could have been no mistaking the issue in the debate. On the one hand, it was asked how any philosopher could properly think of himself as a Christian philosopher, if his philosophy were to be regarded as warranted simply on his faith as a Christian. For that presumably meant that one’s philosophy was seriously compromised by its appeal to something clearly extra-philosophical—viz. (...) to divine revelation. On the other hand, and no less embarrassing, was the complementary question: How could one very well claim to be a Christian philosopher without seeming thereby seriously to compromise one’s Christian faith by falling back on philosophy as something necessary to support and justify the faith that was within one? Surely, if one’s Christianity should turn out to be something ever in need of reinforcement from philosophy, that could only mean that one’s faith as a Christian was really no genuine faith at all. (shrink)
Can right reason, Properly understood, Provide a justification for our moral duties? modern deontological or kantian type ethical theories generally argue that moral duties are duties to perform certain actions "without" reference to any end to be achieved. But rational action, I.E., Action dictated by practical reason cannot be other than purposive action, I.E., Action directed toward some end to be achieved. As such, Deontology must fail in its attempt to answer the question, Why be moral at all. Turning to (...) teleological theories, The author distinguishes so-Called hedonistic theories, Those in which an end is good merely because it is desired from natural law theories, Those in which the end is desired because it is subjectively good. Because hedonistic teleological theories involve no more than purely prudential considerations of one's own interests, Judgments as to what ought to be done can only be rationally justified in terms of an objective end. (shrink)
Taking metaphysics in its aristotelian sense to mean the investigation of being qua being, The author contends that its "matrix" (its place of origin, Field of operations, And continuing and ultimate point of reference) is everyday life, Characterized by its practical or existential inescapability. He then examines the charge that the truths of metaphysics illegitimately claim to be both necessary and factual, And argues in response that the objection rests upon a confusion of the character of one's intentional instrument (the (...) sentence or proposition) with that of the object intended. (staff). (shrink)
TODAY it would seem to be rather generally assumed that Kant had posed a problem for any future metaphysics which no future metaphysics has either been able to solve, or perhaps even tried very hard to solve. And it would further seem to be the consensus that Kant's famous challenge to metaphysics really turned on what, in the broad sense of the term, might be called a set of simple logical considerations, viz. that any judgment, and hence any metaphysical judgment, (...) must needs be either analytic or synthetic; that if metaphysical judgments be analytic, then, in modern parlance, they cannot be truths about the world; and that if they be synthetic, they cannot very well be empirical truths, since they would then be lacking in those very properties of necessity and universality which Kant felt had to characterize metaphysical truths, if such there be. Accordingly, on the Kantian analysis there is no logical slot left for metaphysical judgments save that of the synthetic a priori. And into this slot, for the well-known Kantian reasons, metaphysical judgments cannot seem to be fitted. (shrink)
Non-Congnitivism relies for its defense upon g e moore's open question argument for a naturalistic fallacy. But this argument is invalid as applied to real definitions, Which are not analytic truths. G e moore's own conclusions about goodness are definitions in this sense. A definition of the good is possible. A valid one will allow for the non-Cognitivist's points that goodness reflects some pro-Attitude, That goodness is supervenient, And that goodness cannot be equated with the properties of a thing. An (...) aristotelian, Naturalist definition in terms of a thing's natural perfections or potentialities meets these criteria while also making goodness knowable and objective. (staff). (shrink)
It is with these words that Alan Gewirth opened his 1972 Lindley Lecture at the University of Kansas. And he immediately followed up his opening words with a more or less blanket indictment of almost the entire group of contemporary writers on meta-ethics, who, he would aver, while claiming to be "rationalists" in the matter of the rational justification of moral principles, and while making much of how far they have distanced themselves from the old-line emotivists in this very regard, (...) have nevertheless just not brought it off, so far as their own provision for any such rational justification is concerned. Thus while the emotivists had tended to hold that such reasons as a person might give in support of moral principles could not really function as reasons, but only as causes that might impel or compel acceptance of such principles, the latter-day "rationalists," as Gewirth calls them, insist that good reasons are always in order and logically relevant, so far as any moral or even evaluative judgment is concerned. Indeed, merely to call a thing good, or to judge an action right or wrong, already implies that such a judgment is put forward as one that is universalizable and for which good reasons can be given. Unfortunately, however,—Gewirth goes on to insist—reasons and justifications of this sort turn out, even on the admission of the rationalists themselves, to be valid only on the prior assumption of what might be called "the moral point of view.". (shrink)
The author wishes to discover a way in which the philosophy of w v quine can be described relative to its place in the history of metaphysics. In order to facilitate such a classification, The author distinguishes between the aristotelian notion of metaphysics, As the study of being qua being or ultimate reality, And kant's transcendental approach in which it is admitted that only appearances can ever be described and that things can never be known as they are in themselves. (...) It is the author's contention that quine's metaphysics can most appropriately be understood as following in the tradition of kant's transcendentalism. The argument for this claim is based on quine's repeated assertion that the methods and procedures of metaphysics are continuous with those of the natural sciences. The logic of discovery in the sciences, However, Quine would consider to be not so much inductive as hypothetico-Deductive; and since hypotheses would appear to be neither verifiable nor falsifiable in any strict sense, The only alternative is to consider that such hypotheses are subject only to a transcendental justification. (edited). (shrink)