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)
Originally published in 1963. In an introductory chapter the author argues that philosophy ought to be more than the art of clarifying thought and that it should concern itself with outlining a scientifically plausible world view. Early chapters deal with phenomenalism and the reality of theoretical entities, and with the relation between the physical and biological sciences. Free will, issues of time and space and man’s place in nature are covered in later chapters.
In this article I try to refute the so-called "libertarian" theory of free will, and to examine how our conclusion ought to modify our common attitudes of praise and blame. In attacking the libertarian view, I shall try to show that it cannot be consistently stated. That is, my dscussion will be an "analytic-philosophic" one. I shall neglect what I think is in practice an equally powerful method of attack on the libertarian: a challenge to state his theory in such (...) a way that it will fit in the modern biology and psychology, which are becoming increasingly physicalistic. (shrink)
It has been said that physicalism is an empty doctrine, Because if new forces are needed to explain biological or psychological phenomena they will have to be incorporated into physics. In reply it is argued that we can tie physicalism to present day physics. There may be revolutionary changes in physics but these are likely to affect only the field of elementary particles and cosmology. Our understanding of such things as the nervous system or of protein molecules is unlikely to (...) be affected. (shrink)
The paper begins by considering David Armstrong's beautiful paper 'The Headless Woman Illusion and the Defence of Materialism', which conjectures how we get the illusion that there are non-physical qualia. There are discussions of other metaphysical illusions, that there is a passage of time, that we have libertarian free will, and that consciousness is ineffable (which last also relates to Armstrong), and of their possible explanations. Moral: avoid appeal to so called intuition or phenomenology.
In this volume, the sixth in Blackwell's Great Debates in Philosophy series, Smart and Haldane discuss the case for and against religious belief. The debate is unusual in beginning with the negative side. After a short jointly authored introduction, there is a fairly extended presentation of the atheist position by Smart. Haldane then offers an equally extended defense of theism. The authors respond to one another in the same order, and the book concludes with a brief co-authored treatment of antirealism, (...) which both reject. The discussion is broad-ranging, in part reflecting the size of the topic. It addresses the existence of God and the problem of evil, along with related issues having to do with God's nature and his involvement with the world: necessary being, eternity versus sempiternity, the relation between divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the possibility of miracles. But there is also discussion of subjects having to do with revealed religion, such as the reliability of scripture, and the roles of faith and reason in the life of the believer. The fact that the book commences with the case for atheism also contributes to its scope, since without a specific version of theism on which to focus, Smart has to aim broadly. The result is that topics that might otherwise have been ignored—moral arguments, and Pascal's wager, to cite two—are at least broached, though not pursued. (shrink)
REMARKS ON EVOLUTION AND TIME-SCALES, Graham Cairns-Smith; HODGSON'S BLACK BOX, Thomas Clark; DO HODGSON'S PROPOSITIONS UNIQUELY CHARACTERIZE FREE WILL?, Ravi Gomatam; WHAT SHOULD WE RETAIN FROM A PLAIN PERSON'S CONCEPT OF FREE WILL?, Gilberto Gomes; ISOLATING DISPARATE CHALLENGES TO HODGSON'S ACCOUNT OF FREE WILL, Liberty Jaswal; FREE AGENCY AND LAWS OF NATURE, Robert Kane; SCIENCE VERSUS REALIZATION OF VALUE, NOT DETERMINISM VERSUS CHOICE, Nicholas Maxwell; COMMENTS ON HODGSON, J.J.C. Smart; THE VIEW FROM WITHIN, Sean Spence; COMMENTARY ON HODGSON, Henry Stapp.
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)