In the paper I offer a brief sketch of one of the sources of utilitarianism. Our biological ancestry is a matter of fact that is not altered by the way we describe ourselves. With philosophical theories it is otherwise. Utilitarianism can be described in ways that make it look as if it is as old as moral philosophy – as J. S. Mill thought it was. For my historical purposes, it is more useful to have an account that brings out (...) what is specific about Benthamism and its descendants. Let us try to make do with the following. First, utilitarianism asserts that the fundamental requirement of morality is that we are to maximize good, for everyone and not just for the agent. This basic principle presupposes that it makes sense to think of aggregating goods to make a total, and of comparing amounts of good thus aggregated. Second, the good to be brought about is located in feelings of pleasure, and the evil to be avoided in feelings of pain. These feelings have inherent value or disvalue regardless of how they are caused to exist and regardless of their own consequences. Third, all moral principles can be derived from the requirement that good be maximized. The principles involved in evaluating agents as well as in giving moral direction to action are nothing but applications of the basic principle. (shrink)
The ‘modern’ natural law philosophers of the seventeenth century believed that conflict was an unavoidable concomitant of human intercourse, rooted in our nature. They understood the normative laws of nature as serving the purpose of setting the limits within which conflict is compatible with lasting social cooperation, thus showing, in effect, how warfare can be turned into competition. The natural lawyers were interested primarily in legal and political problems, not in ethics. But in order to provide reasoned approaches to immediate (...) practical issues, they had to move to a level of abstract theorizing at which philosophical claims about morality were unavoidable. Natural law theory with its understanding of the central underlying problem of human sociability dominated seventeenth-century practical philosophy, and the solutions its various proponents offered generated many of the central concerns of what we know as moral philosophy. (shrink)
What is the function of moral principles within the body of moral knowledge? And what must be the nature of moral principles in order for them to carry out this function? A specific set of answers to these questions is widely accepted among moral philosophers – so widely accepted as almost to constitute a sort of orthodoxy. The answers embody a view of the place of principles within the body of morality which crosses the lines between cognitivism and non-cognitivism. Though (...) I have put the question in cognitivist terms and shall discuss it in those terms, I think a similar question and a more or less parallel discussion could be given in non-cognitivist terms. Perhaps the time-honoured debate between the two positions can be suspended, at least temporarily, while we examine, not the nature of morality, but its structure. (shrink)
Reasoning under uncertainty, that is, making judgements with only partial knowledge, is a major theme in artificial intelligence. Professor Paris provides here an introduction to the mathematical foundations of the subject. It is suited for readers with some knowledge of undergraduate mathematics but is otherwise self-contained, collecting together the key results on the subject, and formalising within a unified framework the main contemporary approaches and assumptions. The author has concentrated on giving clear mathematical formulations, analyses, justifications and consequences of the (...) main theories about uncertain reasoning, so the book can serve as a textbook for beginners or as a starting point for further basic research into the subject. It will be welcomed by graduate students and research workers in logic, philosophy, and computer science as a textbook for beginners, a starting point for further basic research into the subject, and not least, an account of how mathematics and artificial intelligence can complement and enrich each other. (shrink)
Kantian autonomy is often thought to be independent of time and place, but J. B. Schneewind in his landmark study, The Invention of Autonomy, has shown that there is much to be learned by setting Kant's moral philosophy in the context of the history of modern moral philosophy. The distinguished authors in the collection continue Schneewind's project by relating Kant's work to the historical context of his predecessors and to the empirical context of human agency. This will be a valuable (...) resource for professionals and advanced students in philosophy, the history of ideas, and the history of political thought. (shrink)
Henry Sedgewick's The Methods of Ethics challenges comparison, as no other work in moral philosophy, with Aristotle's Ethics in the depth of its understanding of practical rationality, and in its architectural coherence it rivals the work of Kant. In this historical, rather than critical study, Professor Schneewind shows how Sidgewick's arguments and conclusions represent rational developments of the work of Sidgewick's predecessors, and brings out the nature and structure of the reasoning underlying his position.
Starting from the early decades of the twentieth century, evolutionary biology began to acquire mathematical overtones. This took place via the development of a set of models in which the Darwinian picture of evolution was shown to be consistent with the laws of heredity discovered by Mendel. The models, which came to be elaborated over the years, define a field of study known as population genetics. Population genetics is generally looked upon as an essential component of modern evolutionary theory. This (...) article deals with a famous dispute between J. B. S. Haldane, one of the founders of population genetics, and Ernst Mayr, a major contributor to the way we understand evolution. The philosophical undercurrents of the dispute remain relevant today. Mayr and Haldane agreed that genetics provided a broad explanatory framework for explaining how evolution took place but differed over the relevance of the mathematical models that sought to underpin that framework. The dispute began with a fundamental issue raised by Mayr in 1959: in terms of understanding evolution, did population genetics contribute anything beyond the obvious? Haldane's response came just before his death in 1964. It contained a spirited defense, not just of population genetics, but also of the motivations that lie behind mathematical modelling in biology. While the difference of opinion persisted and was not glossed over, the two continued to maintain cordial personal relations. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Chrysippus is a reconstruction of the philosophy of an eminent Stoic philosopher, based upon the fragmentary remains of his voluminous writings. Chrysippus of Cilicia, who lived in a period that covers roughly the last three-quarters of the third century B.C., studied philosophy in Athens and upon Cleanthes’ death became the third head of the Stoa, one of the four great schools of philosophy of the Hellenistic period. Chrysippus wrote a number of treatises in each of the major (...) departments of philosophy, logic, physics, and ethics. Much of his fame derived from his acuteness as a logician, but his importance for Stoic philosophy generally was acknowledged in antiquity in the saying, “Had there been no Chrysippus, there would be no Stoa.” Previous accounts of Chrysippus’ philosophy, including Émile Bréhier’s study, the only work in this century which had sought to deal with Chrysippus’ philosophy alone, blurred the distinctive contributions of Chrysippus to Stoic philosophy and failed to bring to light the peculiar features in his thought. The vagueness in these accounts resulted in large measure from the assumption that if an ancient author ascribed a doctrine to “the Stoics” or “Stoicism”, one could infer that the doctrine belonged to Chrysippus. Professor Gould works from the more circumspect methodological principle that unless an ancient author explicitly ascribes a doctrine to Chrysippus, his testimony cannot be used in reconstructing Chrysippus’ philosophy. Working with those of the fragments in Hans von Arnim’s collection, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, which are explicitly Chrysippean in the sense suggested, Mr. Gould has worked out an account of Chrysippus’ views in the fields of logic, natural philosophy, and ethics. In order that Chrysippus’ thought might be viewed in context Mr. Gould provides a background picture by describing the third century milieu in which the Stoic philosopher worked. This follows an account of Chrysippus’ life and reputation in antiquity and a description of modern assessments of Chrysippus’ position in the Stoa. In his account of Chrysippus’ philosophy Mr. Gould frequently introduces comparisons and contrasts with Plato and Aristotle to help emphasize the continuity between Hellenic and early Hellenistic philosophy. Finally, in a concluding chapter, the author shows that the dominant themes in Chrysippus’ philosophy, while not exhibiting a thoroughly well-knit system, nevertheless are woven together into a remarkably comprehensive whole, which must have been extraordinarily impressive in antiquity. (shrink)
This article shows a clear sense in which general relativity allows for a type of ‘machine’ that can bring about a spacetime structure suitable for the implementation of ‘supertasks’. 1Introduction2Preliminaries3Malament–Hogarth Spacetimes4Machines5Malament–Hogarth Machines6Conclusion.
This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
We give an account of some relationships between the principles of Constant and Atom Exchangeability and various generalizations of the Principle of Instantial Relevance within the framework of Inductive Logic. In particular we demonstrate some surprising and somewhat counterintuitive dependencies of these relationships on ostensibly unimportant parameters, such as the number of predicates in the overlying language.
This anthology contains excerpts from some thirty-two important seventeenth- and eighteenth-century moral philosophers. Including a substantial introduction and extensive bibliographies, the anthology facilitates the study and teaching of early modern moral philosophy in its crucial formative period. As well as well-known thinkers such as Hobbes, Hume, and Kant, there are excerpts from a wide range of philosophers never previously assembled in one text, such as Grotius, Pufendorf, Nicole, Clarke, Leibniz, Malebranche, Holbach and Paley. Originally issued as a two-volume edition in (...) 1990, the anthology is now re-issued with a new foreword by Professor Schneewind, as a one-volume anthology to serve as a companion to his highly successful history of modern ethics, The Invention of Autonomy. The anthology provides many of the sources discussed in The Invention of Autonomy and taken together the two volumes will be an invaluable resource for the teaching of the history of modern moral philosophy. (shrink)
We examine the closure conditions of the probabilistic consequence relation of Hawthorne and Makinson, specifically the outstanding question of completeness in terms of Horn rules, of their proposed (finite) set of rules O. We show that on the contrary no such finite set of Horn rules exists, though we are able to specify an infinite set which is complete.
I analyze a number of the quantum no-signalling proofs (Ghirardi et al. 1980, Bussey 1982, Jordan 1983, Shimony 1985, Redhead 1987, Eberhard and Ross 1989, Sherer and Busch 1993). These purport to show that the EPR correlations cannot be exploited for transmitting signals, i.e., are not causal. First, I show that these proofs can be mathematically unified; they are disguised versions of a single theorem. Second, I argue that these proofs are circular. The essential theorem relies upon the tensor product (...) representation for combined systems, which has no physical basis in the von Neumann axioms. Historically, the construction of this representation scheme by von Neumann and Weyl built no-signalling assumptions into the quantum theory. Signalling between the wings of the EPR-Bell experiments is unlikely but is not ruled out empirically by the class of proofs considered. (shrink)
Pragmatist environmental philosophers have (erroneously) assumed that environmental ethics has made little impact on environmental policy because environmental ethics has been absorbed with arcane theoretical controversies, mostly centred on the question of intrinsic value in nature. Positions on this question generate the allegedly divisive categories of anthropocentrism/nonanthropocentrism, shallow/deep ecology, and individualism/holism. The locus classicus for the objectivist concept of intrinsic value is traceable to Kant, and modifications of the Kantian form of ethical theory terminate in biocentrism. A subjectivist approach to (...) the affirmation of intrinsic value in nature has also been explored. Because of the academic debate about intrinsic value in nature, the concept of intrinsic value in nature has begun to penetrate and reshape the discourse of environmental activists and environmental agency personnel. In environmental ethics, the concept of intrinsic value in nature functions similarly to way the concept of human rights functions in social ethics. Human rights has had enormous pragmatic efficacy in social ethics and policy. The prospective adoption of the Earth Charter by the General Assembly of the United Nations may have an impact on governmental environmental policy and performance similar to the impact on governmental social policy and behaviour of the adoption by the same body in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Belatedly, but at last, the most strident Pragmatist critics of the concept of intrinsic value in nature now acknowledge its pragmatic power and promise. (shrink)
Part I of this two-part paper provided a broad overview of clinical and experimental findings bearing on the neural correlates of conscious processes. It was argued that several neurocognitive models related to: orienting to the outer world, dream sleep, and the integration of sensory-motor representations, converge upon a core ‘conscious system’, dubbed the extended reticular-thalamic activating system . The functions of the ERTAS, which shares extensive projections with the cerebral cortex, are mostly ‘implicit’, in contrast to the explicit representation of (...) conscious content within the neocortex. Part II expands this ERTAS model to encompass: the generation of coherent patterns of EEG activation, the integration of distributed cortical processes into a stream of unified percepts , and selective attention, as well as links between the ERTAS and systems providing the neural substrates for episodic memory and volition. (shrink)
This study investigates specific behavioral perceptual differences of ethics between practitioners and students enrolled in sales classes. Respondents were asked to indicate their beliefs to issues related to ethics in sales. A highly significant difference was found between mean responses of students and sales personnel. Managers indicated a greater concern for ethical behavior and less attention to sales than did the students. Students indicated a strong desire for success regardless of ethical constraints violated.
A splendid edition. Schneewind's illuminating introduction succinctly situates the _Enquiry_ in its historical context, clarifying its relationship to Calvinism, to Newtonian science, and to earlier moral philosophers, and providing a persuasive account of Hume's ethical naturalism. --Martha C. Nussbaum, Brown University.
First published in 1962, this book provides a systematic account of the development of Plato’s theory of knowledge. Beginning with a consideration of the Socratic and other influences which determined the form in which the problem of knowledge first presented itself to Plato, the author then works through the dialogues from the Meno to the Laws and examines in detail Plato’s progressive attempts to solve the problem.
We discuss some recent work by Tim Maudlin concerning Black Hole Information Loss. We argue, contra Maudlin, that there is a paradox, in the straightforward sense that there are propositions that appear true, but which are incompatible with one another. We discuss the significance of the paradox and Maudlin's response to it.