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)
A collection of thirteen essays drawn from the three volumes of Gadamer’s Kleine Schriften, all written after the publication of his Wahrheit und Methode, and generally elaborating its arguments or background. The editor, David E. Linge, who did most of the translations, supplies a long introduction and an index.
Originally published in 1937 on the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Isaac ben Judah Abravanel, this book contains six essays on his teaching and thought by a number of scholars. The authors explain key points such as the Iberian background to Abravanel's work, his differences with other philosophers of his age, and the influence of his son, Leone Ebreo, on the Renaissance. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in Abravanel's life (...) and teaching or in Medieval Jewish philosophy. (shrink)
J. B. Schneewind's "The Invention of Autonomy" has been hailed as a major interpretation of modern moral thought. Schneewind's narrative, however, elides several serious interpretive issues, particularly in the transition from late medieval to early modern thought. This results in potentially distorted accounts of Thomas Aquinas, Hugo Grotius, and G. W. Leibniz. Since these thinkers play a crucial role in Schneewind's argument, uncertainty over their work calls into question at least some of Schneewind's larger agenda for the history of ethics.
This volume contains four versions of the lecture notes taken by Kant's students of his university courses in ethics given regularly over a period of some thirty years. The notes are very complete and expound not only Kant's views on ethics but many of his opinions on life and human nature. Much of this material has never before been translated into English. As with other volumes in the series, there are copious linguistic and explanatory notes and a glossary of key (...) terms. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
Kantian philosophy of space, time and gravity is significantly affected in three ways by particle physics. First, particle physics deflects Schlick’s General Relativity-based critique of synthetic a priori knowledge. Schlick argued that since geometry was not synthetic a priori, nothing was—a key step toward logical empiricism. Particle physics suggests a Kant-friendlier theory of space-time and gravity presumably approximating General Relativity arbitrarily well, massive spin-2 gravity, while retaining a flat space-time geometry that is indirectly observable at large distances. The theory’s roots (...) include Seeliger and Neumann in the 1890s and Einstein in 1917 as well as 1920s–1930s physics. Such theories have seen renewed scientific attention since 2000 and especially since 2010 due to breakthroughs addressing early 1970s technical difficulties. Second, particle physics casts additional doubt on Friedman’s constitutive a priori role for the principle of equivalence. Massive spin-2 gravity presumably should have nearly the same empirical content as General Relativity while differing radically on foundational issues. Empirical content even in General Relativity resides in partial differential equations, not in an additional principle identifying gravity and inertia. Third, Kant’s apparent claim that Newton’s results could be known a priori is undermined by an alternate gravitational equation. The modified theory has a smaller symmetry group than does Newton’s. What Kant wanted from Newton’s gravity is impossible due its large symmetry group, but is closer to achievable given the alternative theory. (shrink)
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.
Pure Inductive Logic is the study of rational probability treated as a branch of mathematical logic. This monograph, the first devoted to this approach, brings together the key results from the past seventy years, plus the main contributions of the authors and their collaborators over the last decade, to present a comprehensive account of the discipline within a single unified context.
We investigate the relative probabilistic support afforded by the combination of two analogies based on possibly different, structural similarity (as opposed to e.g. shared predicates) within the context of Pure Inductive Logic and under the assumption of Language Invariance. We show that whilst repeated analogies grounded on the same structural similarity only strengthen the probabilistic support this need not be the case when combining analogies based on different structural similarities. That is, two analogies may provide less support than each would (...) individually. (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.