It is a pleasure for me to give this opening address to the Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference on ‘Explanation’ for two reasons. The first is that it is succeeded by exciting symposia and other papers concerned with various special aspects of the topic of explanation. The second is that the conference is being held in my old alma mater , the University of Glasgow, where I did my first degree. Especially due to C. A. Campbell and George Brown there (...) was in the Logic Department a big emphasis on absolute idealism, especially F. H. Bradley. My inclinations were to oppose this line of thought and to espouse the empiricism and realism of Russell, Broad and the like. Empiricism was represented in the department by D. R. Cousin, a modest man who published relatively little, but who was of quite extraordinary philosophical acumen and lucidity, and by Miss M. J. Levett, whose translation of Plato's Theaetetus formed an important part of the philosophy syllabus. (shrink)
Hume's doctrine of natural belief allows that certain beliefs are justifiably held by all men without regard to the quality of the evidence which may be produced in their favour. Examples are belief in an external world and belief in the veracity of our senses. According to R. J. Butler, Hume argues in the Dialogues that belief in God is of this sort. More recently John Hick has argued that for some people it is as natural to believe in God (...) as to believe in an external world. I shall first inquire what Hume understands by reasonable belief and by natural belief. I shall then use the results of this investigation to argue, against Butler, that belief in God is not a natural belief; and against Hick, more briefly, that his thesis is not viable in as far as it depends upon Hume's doctrine of natural belief. These discussions are important to the philosophy of religion since by means of natural beliefs it could be urged that belief in God is something justifiable without reference to reason or evidence: a position which would be of immense value to the theist. (shrink)
It is characteristic of realists to separate ontology from epistemology and of idealists to mix the two things up. By ‘idealists’ here I am mainly referring to the British neo-Hegelians but the charge of mixing up ontology and epistemology can be made against at least one ‘subjective idealist’, namely Bishop Berkeley, as his wellknown dictum ‘esse ispercipi’ testifies. The objective idealists rejected the correspondence theory of truth and on the whole accepted a coherence theory. The qualification is needed here because (...) H. H. Joachim, in The Nature of Truth, found the coherence theory unable to deal with the problem of error. (shrink)
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained (...) and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. This book should be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists. (shrink)
A great deal of modern Protestant theology looks very much like an attempt to conduct a salvage operation which is designed to make clear how it is possible to retain belief in Jesus Christ, and at the same time remain intellectually honest. For the same sceptical challenge which faces the secular historian also faces the theologian. If Christians are correct in arguing that the locus of God's revelation to man is in Jesus of Nazareth, then in order to know about (...) this supposed revelation, it is necessary to know about a period of time in the past; it is necessary to know the history of the man's life and actions. Theologians are therefore faced with the question: how, if at all, is it possible to bridge the logical gap between statements describing what Jesus of Nazareth said and did, and statements describing the evidence for what Jesus of Nazareth said and did. The solution found to this question by theologians tends to be determined by their conscious and unconscious philosophical presuppositions; just as it did in the examples discussed above of secular critical philosophies of history. (shrink)
It has frequently been lamented that while the human species has made immense progress in science it is nevertheless ethically backward. This ethical backwardness is all the more dangerous because the advanced state of scientific knowledge has made available a technology with which we are able to destroy ourselves—indeed a technology which may have got so much out of hand that we may not even have the capacity to prevent it from destroying us.
Dr Ian Ramsey has made considerable use of the word ‘disclosure’ in what he has to say about religion and in his attempts to give an account of the meaning of religious language. He sometimes speaks of ‘discernment’ or ‘insight’ but ‘disclosure’ is the word he normally favours. In what follows I shall ask: what a disclosure is, to what extent Dr Ramsey's use of the notion leads to confusions, and what questions have to be faced in order to resolve (...) these confusions. (shrink)
This book’s four main theses: -/- (1) Interpersonal liberty requires an explicit, pre-propertarian, purely factual, theory. -/- (2) Liberty is—and need only be—morally desirable in systematic practice, not in every logically possible case. In practice, there is no clash between the two main moral contenders: rights and consequences. -/- (3) Nothing can ever justify, support, or ground any theory of liberty or its applications, because it is logically impossible to transcend assumptions. Theories can only be explained, criticised, and defended within (...) conjectural frameworks. -/- (4) The state is inherently authoritarian and also negative-sum. It reduces welfare overall, with the losses compounding over time. Libertarian anarchic order is the positive-sum solution to illiberal political chaos. -/- J C Lester is a philosopher whose solution to the crucial philosophical problem of interpersonal liberty provides an explicit theory of liberty, explains how its application entails self-ownership and external property, and relates to all other interpersonal matters. (shrink)
This paper is partly to get rid of some irritation which I have felt at the quite common tendency of philosophers to elucidate ‘is red’ in terms of ‘looks red’. For a relatively recent example see, for example, Frank Jackson and Robert Pargetter, ‘An Objectivist′s Guide to Subjectivism about Colour’. However rather than try to make a long list of references, I would rather say ‘No names, no pack drill’. I have even been disturbed to find the use of the (...) words ‘looks red’ that I am opposing ascribed to me by Keith Campbell in his useful article ‘David Armstrong and Realism about Colour’. I am not saying that such talk is necessarily wrong. Talk of ‘looks red’ may be a way of harmlessly referring to the behavioural discriminations with respect to colour of a human percipient. Where it is dangerous, at least to those of us who wish to argue for a broadly physicalist account of the mind, is that it may have concealed overtones of reference to epiphenomenal and irreducibly psychic properties of experiences. Moreover even if it does not do so it may be fence sitting on this issue and liable to misinterpretation. (shrink)
Liberty is what libertarians advocate. Both because of the inherent value of human liberty and because of the increasing wealth and welfare it brings to all. They see the aggressive coercion of the state as the main enemy of liberty. The solution is to roll back the state until there is little or no state left. Libertarianism has been rapidly growing since the 1970s. But it is still not commonly understood or even given a proper hearing. However, you will increasingly (...) come across it. Often it will be through state enthusiasts disingenuously claiming to be libertarians . At other times it will be through state enthusiasts attacking libertarianism as an extremist ideology. And very occasionally it will be real libertarians explaining and defending their views. J C Lester is a libertarian philosopher who has been writing about why liberty is preferable to politics for many years. This book contains many of his shorter writings on the subject. These range from the populist to the philosophical. Together they function as a miscellaneous introduction to libertarianism. The various different topics and approaches should give the reader a good cross-reference grasp of the subject. (shrink)
A good argument is one whose conclusions follow from its premises; its conclusions are consequences of its premises. But in what sense do conclusions follow from premises? What is it for a conclusion to be a consequence of premises? Those questions, in many respects, are at the heart of logic (as a philosophical discipline). Consider the following argument: 1. If we charge high fees for university, only the rich will enroll. We charge high fees for university. Therefore, only the rich (...) will enroll. There are many different things one can say about this argument, but many agree that if we do not equivocate (if the terms mean the same thing in the premises and the conclusion) then the argument is valid, that is, the conclusion follows deductively from the premises. This does not mean that the conclusion is true. Perhaps the premises are not true. However, if the premises are true, then the conclusion is also true, as a matter of logic. This entry is about the relation between premises and conclusions in valid arguments. (shrink)
In an article in Philosophy R. G. Swinburne set out to argue that none of Hume's formal objections to the design argument ‘have any validity against a carefully articulated version of the argument’ . This, he maintained, is largely because Hume's criticisms ‘are bad criticisms of the argument in any form’ . The ensuing controversy between Swinburne and Olding 1 has focused upon the acceptable/unacceptable aspects of the dualism presupposed in Swinburne's defence of the design argument; upon whether any simplification (...) is achieved by reducing scientific explanation to agent explanation; and upon the problems which arise from taking a man's acting upon his body as the analogy for understanding a disembodied agent acting upon matter. In this article I shall refer to the Swinburne-Olding controversy when appropriate but my main concern is to return to Swinburne's original article and argue, seriatim , that Hume's individual criticisms of the design argument are for the most part a great deal more powerful than Swinburne allowed. I shall contend that cumulatively they destroy the design argument as any sort of rational foundation for theistic belief. But first I shall indicate briefly the character of the argument together with one or two of the distinctions and refinements in terms of which it has been found helpful to carry on the discussion in recent years. (shrink)
This chapter first surveys general issues in the epistemic internalism / externalism debate: what is the distinction, what motivates it, and what arguments can be given on both sides. -/- The second part of the chapter will examine the internalism / externalism debate as regards to the specific case of the epistemology of memory belief.
The Liar paradox raises foundational questions about logic, language, and truth (and semantic notions in general). A simple Liar sentence like 'This sentence is false' appears to be both true and false if it is either true or false. For if the sentence is true, then what it says is the case; but what it says is that it is false, hence it must be false. On the other hand, if the statement is false, then it is true, since it (...) says (only) that it is false. -/- How, then, should we classify Liar sentences? Are they true or false? A natural suggestion would be that Liars are neither true nor false; that is, they fall into a category beyond truth and falsity. This solution might resolve the initial problem, but it beckons the Liar's revenge. A sentence that says of itself only that it is false or beyond truth and falsity will, in effect, bring back the initial problem. The Liar's revenge is a witness to the hydra-like nature of Liars: in dealing with one Liar you often bring about another. -/- JC Beall presents fourteen new essays and an extensive introduction, which examine the nature of the Liar paradox and its resistance to any attempt to solve it. Written by some of the world's leading experts in the field, the papers in this volume will be an important resource for those working in truth studies, philosophical logic, and philosophy of language, as well as those with an interest in formal semantics and metaphysics. (shrink)
Provides a critical and analytical history of ancient Greek theories on the nature of pleasure, and of its value and rolein human lfie, from the ealriest times down to the period of Epicurus and the early Stoics.
In the late nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth thematic resemblances to the Roman elegists in Paulus Silentiarius were explained as the result of the poets' reliance on a common Hellenistic source – usually this was identified as the so-called ‘subjective Alexandrian love elegy’ – and this represented a departure from the views of earlier scholars such as Hertzberg and Postgate, who had maintained that Paulus knew and imitated the elegists. In recent years the pendulum has swung (...) back , and the prevailing opinion seems to be that the Roman elegists were known to Paulus. This is the view of, for instance, Giovanni Viansino in his edition of Paulus, of Elmar Schulz-Vanheyden in his important work on Propertius' relationship to Greek epigram, and of Hermann Beckby in his edition of the Greek Anthology. Recently, too, Gordon Williams has put forward a very strong case for earlier epigrammatists like Antipater and Crinagoras imitating the Augustan poets. (shrink)
Originally published in 1963, The Concept of the Positron forms a detailed analysis of quantum theory. Whilst it is not as well known as Professor Hanson's previous book, Patterns of Discovery, the text has many interesting aspects. In many ways it goes further than Hanson's earlier work in approaching the problems of theory competition and the rationality of science, topics that have since become central to the philosophy of science. It is also notable for a rigorous and forthright defence of (...) the Copenhagen Interpretation. Taken together, the ideas presented in this book constitute a first-rate achievement in the history and philosophy of science. This paperback reissue comes with a new preface from Matthew Lund, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Rowan University. (shrink)