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)
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)
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.
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.
It is generally believed that the uncertainty relation Δq Δp≥1/2ħ, where Δq and Δp are standard deviations, is the precise mathematical expression of the uncertainty principle for position and momentum in quantum mechanics. We show that actually it is not possible to derive from this relation two central claims of the uncertainty principle, namely, the impossibility of an arbitrarily sharp specification of both position and momentum (as in the single-slit diffraction experiment), and the impossibility of the determination of the path (...) of a particle in an interference experiment (such as the double-slit experiment).The failure of the uncertainty relation to produce these results is not a question of the interpretation of the formalism; it is a mathematical fact which follows from general considerations about the widths of wave functions.To express the uncertainty principle, one must distinguish two aspects of the spread of a wave function: its extent and its fine structure. We define the overall widthW Ψ and the mean peak width wψ of a general wave function ψ and show that the productW Ψ w φ is bounded from below if φ is the Fourier transform of ψ. It is shown that this relation expresses the uncertainty principle as it is used in the single- and double-slit experiments. (shrink)
This article examines the characteristics of a new form of visibility which has become a pervasive feature of the modern world and which is linked to the development of communication media. With the development of the media, the visibility of individuals, actions and events is severed from the sharing of a common locale: one no longer has to be present in the same spatial-temporal setting in order to see the other or to witness an action or event. The rise of (...) this new form of mediated visibility has transformed the relations between visibility and power. Thanks to mediated visibility, political rulers are able to appear before their subjects in ways and on a scale that never existed previously. Skilful politicians exploit this to their advantage; with the help of their PR consultants and communications advisers, they seek to create and sustain a basis of support by managing their visibility in the mediated arena of modern politics. But mediated visibility is a double-edged sword: it also creates new risks for political leaders, who find themselves exposed to new kinds of dangers. Hence the visibility created by the media becomes the source of a new and distinctive kind of fragility. However much political leaders try to manage their visibility, they cannot completely control it: mediated visibility can slip out of their grasp and can, on occasion, work against them. (shrink)
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)
In this era of increased polarization of opinion and contentious disagreement, CRITICAL REASONING presents a cooperative approach to critical thinking and formation of beliefs. CRITICAL REASONING emphasizes the importance of developing and applying analytical skills in real life contexts. This book is unique in providing multiple, diverse examples of everyday arguments, both textual and visual, including hard to find long argument passages from real-life sources. The book provides clear, step-by-step procedures to help you decide for yourself what to believe--to be (...) a consumer of information in our contemporary "world of experts.". (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.
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)
During the past decade some of the most provocative and controversial disputes concerning the philosophy and history of science have centered about the work of Thomas Kuhn and Sir Karl Popper. One, therefore, looks with anticipation to this volume which is based on a symposium held in July, 1965 where Kuhn, Popper and several of Popper's former students met for an intellectual confrontation. But the result is depressing. The volume is an editorial mess. Two of the main scheduled speakers never (...) appeared at the symposium, although papers by them are published here. Some of the remarks published here seem to be those spoken on the day the symposium was held while others, like Kuhn's answer to his critics, were written four years after the symposium. The result is a confusing and distracting editorial unevenness. While Kuhn's fair-minded opening paper raises some of the most important issues to be confronted, one quickly senses that the Popperians are not really very much interested in discussing Kuhn's work but rather in pushing their own pet theses. Kuhn puts this rather generously when he labels it an example of "talking-through-each-other." Most of the Popperians seem to be obsessed with Kuhn's understanding of normal science and neglect the much more interesting questions concerning his views on scientific revolutions, the sense in which science does and does not make progress, the criteria involved in adjudicating among competing theories. It is almost with relief that one reads Margaret Masterman's remark that it is a "crashingly obvious fact" that there is normal science. Ironically, Masterman's article which is basically sympathetic to Kuhn's work is the most illuminating and the most critical. More successfully than any of other contributors she shows the ambiguities involved in Kuhn's idea of a paradigm. One's wishes that the Popperians would take a good hard look at themselves and what they are doing as it is so disastrously illustrated here. Although ostensibly dedicated to serious critical rationalism, they seem more eager to score points than to understand what they are criticizing. Although they supposedly abhor clubiness, they are rapidly forming themselves into a scholastic circle where the object seems to be to show how brilliant or how stupid some other student of Popper is. Although they scorn the quest for origins, they are almost compulsive in attempting to show that anything worthwhile was previously said by Sir Karl. This book illustrates the faults of the Popperians at their worst and few of their virtues. There is much heat and wit, but little light.--R. J. B. (shrink)
Despite the enormous and growing interest in Marx and the availability of Marx's writing in paperback, it is scandalous how little care has been taken in producing careful texts and English translations of Marx's work. O'Malley's edition is an outstanding exception. It is carefully and intelligently edited. The result makes available an extremely interesting text of Marx. A number of scholars have already argued that in this early critique, one can discover some of the earliest formulations of distinctive Marxian themes. (...) Now the reader can judge for himself, for this is the first full English translation of Marx's Critique. But this Critique is not only extremely important for understanding Marx's intellectual development, it also helps to make Hegel's Philosophy of Right come alive. Marx's fundamental ambivalence toward Hegel is evidenced here. It is clear that Marx is still very much under Hegel's influence and we can see how deeply Hegel is shaping Marx's thought, but there is also a toughness and incisiveness in Marx's criticism of Hegel. O'Malley has provided a very extensive introduction which not only provides the necessary background for understanding this text but also explores the role of this work in the totality of Marx's development. Altogether this edition shows a care and judiciousness which is exceptional. It eminently serves the purpose of making an important text accessible.--R. J. B. (shrink)
A new translation which is eminently readable and extremely accurate. Much of the awkwardness and unnecessary obscurity of the Ogden translation has been eliminated. The comprehensive index which combines both English and German expressions is designed to meet the special problems involved in understanding the Tractatus. Unfortunately Russell's introduction to the 1922 edition is reproduced without any indication of the controversy concerning Russell's interpretation, or subsequent interpretations of the Tractatus.--R. J. B.
In the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals Kant presented a method for discovering what morality requires us to do in any situation and claimed that it is a method everyone can use. The method consists in testing one's maxim against the requirement stated in the formulations of the categorical imperative. There has been endless discussion of the adequacy of Kant's method in giving moral guidance, but there has been little effort to situate Kant's view of ethical method in its (...) historical context. In this paper I try to do so. I take the label "method of ethics" from the work of Henry Sidgwick. A method of ethics, he says, is any rational procedure by which we determine what it is right for an individual to do or what an individual ought to do. Since the moralists I want to consider do not all think of morality as rational, I shall broaden the notion by saying that a method is any systematic or regular procedure, rational or not, by which we determine what morality requires... (shrink)
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)
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.