I explore two accounts of properties within a dispositional essentialist (or causal powers) framework, the pure powers view and the powerful qualities view. I ﬁrst attempt to clarify precisely what the pure powers view is, and then raise objections to it. I then present the powerful qualities view and, in order to avoid a common misconception, oﬀer a restatement of it that I shall call the truthmaker view. I end by brieﬂy defending the truthmaker view against objections.
Possible worlds, concrete or abstract as you like, are irrelevant to the truthmakers for modality—or so I shall argue in this paper. First, I present the neo-Humean picture of modality, and explain why those who accept it deny a common sense view of modality. Second, I present what I take to be the most pressing objection to the neo-Humean account, one that, I argue, applies equally well to any theory that grounds modality in possible worlds. Third, I present an alternative, (...) properties-based theory of modality and explore several specific ways to flesh the general proposal out, including my favored version, the powers theory. And, fourth, I offer a powers semantics for counterfactuals that each version of the properties-based theory of modality can accept, mutatis mutandis. Together with a definition of possibility and necessity in terms of counterfactuals, the powers semantics of counterfactuals generates a semantics for modality that appeals to causal powers and not possible worlds. (shrink)
Are there key respects in which character and character defects are voluntary? Can agents with serious vices be rational agents? Jonathan Jacobs answers in the affirmative. Moral character is shaped through voluntary habits, including the ways we habituate ourselves, Jacobs believes. Just as individuals can voluntarily lead unhappy lives without making unhappiness an end, so can they degrade their ethical characters through voluntary action that does not have establishment of vice as its end. Choosing Character presents an account of ethical (...) disability, expanding the domain of responsibility and explicating the role of character in ethical cognition. Jacobs contends that agents become ethically disabled voluntarily when their habits impair their ability to properly appreciate ethical considerations. Such agents are rational, responsible individuals who are yet incapable of virtuous action. The view develops and modifies Aristotelian claims concerning the fixity of character. Jacobs' interpretation is developed in contrast to the overlooked work of Maimonides, who also used Aristotelian resources but argued for the possibility of character change. The notion of ethical disability has profound ramifications for ethics and for current debates about blame and punishment. (shrink)
We use concepts of causal powers and their relatives-dispositions, capacities, and abilities-to describe the world around us, both in everyday life and in scientific practice. This volume presents new work on the nature of causal powers, and their connections with other phenomena within metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.
We explain the thesis that human mental states are ontologically emergent aspects of a fundamentally biological organism. We then explore the consequences of this thesis for the identity of a human person over time. As these consequences are not obviously independent of one's general ontology of objects and their properties, we consider four such accounts: transcendent universals, kind-Aristotelianism, immanent universals, and tropes. We suggest there are reasons for emergentists to favor the latter two accounts. We then argue that within such (...) ontologies, emergentism about properties pushes one to the stronger claim that there are emergent individuals, though not individuals which are dual to person's bodies—substance emergentism, but not substance dualism. (shrink)
Freedom and moral responsibility have one foot in the practical realm of human affairs and the other in the esoteric realm of fundamental metaphysics—or so we believe. This has been denied, especially in the metaphysics-bashing era occupying the first two-thirds or so of the twentieth century, traces of which linger in the present day. But the reasons for this denial seem to us quite implausible. Certainly, the argument for the general bankruptcy of metaphysics has been soundly discredited. Arguments from Strawson (...) and others that our moral practices are too deeply embedded in human life to rest on anything as tenuous as a metaphysical doctrine far from the thoughts of ordinary people would seem to prove too much: we can easily imagine fantastic scenarios far from the thoughts of ordinary people—involving, say, alien manipulation or massive deception—that, if true, would clearly undermine claims to freedom and responsibility. For still other philosophers, the separation of the moral life from (some) metaphysical issues is prescriptive, not descriptive: it is a recommendation that we revise ordinary moral thought by severing its allegedly problematic links to metaphysics. (Some philosophers appear to hover undecided between such a prescriptive project and a Strawsonian descriptive claim.) We suspect that the prospects of retaining the binding force of ordinary moral thought, were such a reconceived moral practice widely embraced, are bleak. A transition to something closer to moral nihilism seems at least as likely. In any case, our interest here is in descriptive metaphysics, not revisionary. -/- To say as we do that freedom and moral responsibility have a partly metaphysical character is not to suggest that they can be had only if some highly specific version of a particular metaphysical framework is correct. Instead, we suggest in what follows, it is a broadly neo-Humean metaphysics that is not hospitable to freedom (for reasons distinctive to the metaphysics), while a broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is. But we also think (and it is the main aim of our paper to show) that different versions of the neo- Aristotelian metaphysics lead to rather different metaphysical accounts of free and responsible action. Specifically, we will argue that (1) the most satisfactory account of human freedom within the broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is agent-causal, but that (2) two different versions of the general metaphysics will lead to important differences in the agent-causal account of freedom. Adjust the details of your general metaphysics, and the details of your account of freedom are transformed in significant ways. Action theory cannot properly be pursued in isolation from general metaphysics. (shrink)
The author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities looks at business fraud and criminal enterprise, overextended government farm subsidies and zealous transit police, to show what happens when the moral systems of commerce collide with those of politics.
Abstract This paper argues that in modern (agro)biotechnology, (un)naturalness as an argument contributed to a stalemate in public debate about innovative technologies. Naturalness in this is often placed opposite to human disruption. It also often serves as a label that shapes moral acceptance or rejection of agricultural innovative technologies. The cause of this lies in the use of nature as a closed, static reference to naturalness, while in fact “nature” is an open and dynamic concept with many different meanings. We (...) propose an approach for a dynamic framework that permits an integrative use of naturalness in debate, by connecting three sorts of meaning that return regularly in the arguments brought forward in debate; cultural, technological, and ecological. We present these as aspects of nature that are always present in the argument of naturalness. The approach proposes a dynamic relation between these aspects, formed by gradients of naturalness, which in turn are related to ethical concerns. In this way we come to an overview that makes it possible to give individual arguments a relative place and that does justice to the temporality of the concept of nature and the underlying ethical concerns stakeholders have in respect to innovation in agriculture. Content Type Journal Article Category Articles Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9359-6 Authors P. F. Van Haperen, Wageningen University and Research Centre, META, Hollandseweg 1, 6707 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands B. Gremmen, Wageningen University and Research Centre, META, Hollandseweg 1, 6707 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands J. Jacobs, Wageningen University and Research Centre, META, Hollandseweg 1, 6707 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863. (shrink)
This paper argues that in modern (agro)biotechnology, (un)naturalness as an argument contributed to a stalemate in public debate about innovative technologies. Naturalness in this is often placed opposite to human disruption. It also often serves as a label that shapes moral acceptance or rejection of agricultural innovative technologies. The cause of this lies in the use of nature as a closed, static reference to naturalness, while in fact “nature” is an open and dynamic concept with many different meanings. We propose (...) an approach for a dynamic framework that permits an integrative use of naturalness in debate, by connecting three sorts of meaning that return regularly in the arguments brought forward in debate; cultural, technological, and ecological. We present these as aspects of nature that are always present in the argument of naturalness. The approach proposes a dynamic relation between these aspects, formed by gradients of naturalness, which in turn are related to ethical concerns. In this way we come to an overview that makes it possible to give individual arguments a relative place and that does justice to the temporality of the concept of nature and the underlying ethical concerns stakeholders have in respect to innovation in agriculture. (shrink)
We present an original emergent individuals view of human persons, on which persons are substantial biological unities that exemplify metaphysically emergent mental states. We argue that this view allows for a coherent model of identity-preserving resurrection from the dead consistent with orthodox Christian doctrine, one that improves upon alternatives accounts recently proposed by a number of authors. Our model is a variant of the “falling elevator” model advanced by Dean Zimmerman that, unlike Zimmerman’s, does not require a closest continuer account (...) of personal identity. We end by raising some remaining theological concerns. (shrink)
D. M. Armstrong famously claims that deterministic laws of nature are contingent relations between universals and that his account can also be straightforwardly extended to irreducibly probabilistic laws of nature. For the most part, philosophers have neglected to scrutinize Armstrong’s account of probabilistic laws. This is surprising precisely because his own claims about probabilistic laws make it unclear just what he takes them to be. We offer three interpretations of what Armstrong-style probabilistic laws are, and argue that all three interpretations (...) are incompatible either with some feature of Armstrong’s broader metaphysics or with essential features of his account of laws (or both). (shrink)
This paper presents and evaluates two advanced courses organised in Oxford as part of the European project Nanobio-RAISE and suggests using their format to encourage multidisciplinary engagement between nanoscientists and nanoethicists. Several nanoethicists have recently identified the need for ‘better’ ethics of emerging technologies, arguing that ethical reflection should become part and parcel of the research and development (R&D) process itself. Such new forms of ethical deliberation, it is argued, transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and require the active engagement and involvement (...) of both nanoethicists and nanoscientists with the broader issues surrounding technological developments. Whereas significant research efforts into multi- and interdisciplinary collaborations during R&D processes are now emerging, opportunities for encouraging multidisciplinary engagement through education have remained relatively underexplored. This paper argues that educational programmes could be a natural extension of ongoing collaborative research efforts ‘in the lab’ and analyses how the Nanobio-RAISE courses could be used as a model for course development. In addition to exploring how the elements that were conducive to multidisciplinary engagement in this course could be preserved in future courses, this paper suggests shifting the emphasis from public communication towards ethical deliberation. Further course work could thus build capacity among both nanoscientists and nanoethicists for doing ‘better’ nanoethics. (shrink)
Though foreign—and perhaps shocking—to many in the west, the doctrine of theosis is central in the theology and practice of Eastern Orthodoxy. Theosis is “the ultimate goal of human existence”1 and indeed is “a way of summing up the purpose of creation”:2 That God will unite himself to all of creation with humanity at the focal point. What are human persons, that they might be united to God? That is the question I explore in this paper. In particular, I explore (...) an account of human nature inspired by an Eastern Orthodox conception of theosis. In section 1, I present a theological vision of theosis in the Eastern Church. In section 2, I oﬀer an interpretation of what it might mean for human nature to become deformed by the fall and transformed by the Incarnation. Then, in section 3, I present an (admittedly speculative) account of human nature, based on a robustly metaphysical reading of an Orthodox conception of theosis. On that account—to overly simplify things, and postponing important qualiﬁcations—we might say that a human being is the union of soul and body with God. Finally, given that account of human nature, I oﬀer in section 3 some brief reﬂections on the prospects of a scientiﬁc anthropology. (shrink)
In what follows I will discuss ambiguities related to focus and stress in German sentences. Some of these ambiguities will be typical instances of what is now widely called ‘focus projection’, a term which was introduced by T. HÖhle in his seminal paper of I982. Focus projection arises in phrases with specific ‘normal’ stress patterns and consists in the possibility of assigning to such phrases several focus–background structures (FBS), differing from each other in the size of the constituent in focus. (...) For example, in example (1). (shrink)
Causal powers, say, an electron’s power to repel other electrons, are had in virtue of having properties. Electrons repel other electrons because they are negatively charged. One’s views about causal powers are shaped by—and shape—one’s views concerning properties, causation, laws of nature and modality. It is no surprise, then, that views about the nature of causal powers are generally embedded into larger, more systematic, metaphysical pictures of the world. This dissertation is an exploration of three systematic metaphysics, Neo-Humeanism, Nomicism and (...) Neo-Aristotelianism. I raise problems for the first two and defend the third. A defense of a systematic metaphysics, I take it, involves appealing to pre-theoretical commitments or intuitions, and theoretical issues such as simplicity or explanatory power. While I think that Neo-Aristotelianism is the most intuitive of the available general metaphysical pictures of the world, these kinds of intuitions do not settle the matter. The most widely held of the alternative pictures, Neo-Humeanism, is accepted in great part because of its theoretical power. In contrast, a systematic Neo-Aristotelian metaphysic is, at best, nascent. The way forward for the Neo-Aristotelian, therefore, is a contribution to an ongoing research program, generating Neo-Aristotelian views of modality, causation and laws of nature from the Neo-Aristotelian understanding of causal powers. The central argument of this dissertation is that such views are defensible, and so the Neo-Aristotelian metaphysic ought to be accepted. (shrink)
Maimonides uses Aristotelian philosophical idiom to articulate his moral philosophy, but there are fundamental differences between his and Aristotle’s conceptions of moral psychology and the nature of the moral agent. The Maimonidean conception of volition and its role in repentance and ethical self-correction are quite un-Aristotelian. The relation between this capacity to alter one’s character and the accessibility of ethical requirements given in the Law is explored. This relation helps explain why for Maimonides practical wisdom is not recognized as a (...) virtue, and why ethical perfection is achievable even by those long-established in ethically unsound dispositions. The power of will to “restore the soul” when character is disordered is a significant departure from Aristotelian philosophical anthropology. (shrink)
This is a unique, groundbreaking study in the history of philosophy, combining leading men and women philosophers across 2600 years of Western philosophy, covering key foundational topics, including epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Introductory essays, primary source readings, and commentaries comprise each chapter to offer a rich and accessible introduction to and evaluation of these vital philosophical contributions. A helpful appendix canvasses an extraordinary number of women philosophers throughout history for further discovery and study.
The history of the Frankfurt School cannot be fully told without examining the relationships of Critical Theorists to their Jewish family backgrounds. Jewish matters had significant effects on key figures in the Frankfurt School, including Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Erich Fromm, Leo Lowenthal and Herbert Marcuse. At some points, their Jewish family backgrounds clarify their life paths; at others, these backgrounds help to explain why the leaders of the School stressed the significance of antisemitism. In the post-Second World War (...) era, the differing relationships of Critical Theorists to their Jewish origins illuminate their distinctive stances toward Israel. This book investigates how the Jewish backgrounds of major Critical Theorists, and the ways in which they related to their origins, impacted upon their work, the history of the Frankfurt School, and differences that emerged among them over time. (shrink)
Transition to a sustainable energy regime is one of the key global societal challenges for the coming decades. Many technological innovations are in the pipeline, but an uncritical appraisal of anything and everything called green innovation lacks methods for testing both the necessity and the sufficiency of these developments. We propose to develop a philosophy of energy to fill this lacuna. Its task is to explore and clarify the space in which the so-called energy transition is taking place. This article (...) sketches the fundaments of such a philosophy and suggests how it might be built upon the work of twentieth century critics of the functioning of energy in society, including Mumford, Bataille, and Heidegger; but not without empirical analysis of contemporary energy systems. Via the example of flux and potentiality - two apparently opposing conceptions of energy - we propose that a philosophy of energy allows for a broader perspective on specific problems in energy transition, and illuminates implicit and problematic assumptions behind these problems. (shrink)
This book begins with a critique of moral relativism and proceeds to develop a realist account of practical wisdom. The central claims are that there are objective moral facts and that knowledge of these facts can be action-guiding. The justification for these claims involves explaining the role of imagination in moral judgment and action and also showing how a realist approach to morality enables us to better account for immorality, revealing it to involve ignorance, error or falsification. The book concludes (...) with an analysis of how the character of social relations is crucial to the formation of self-conceptions and the development of moral knowledge and moral imagination. (shrink)
A study of fundamental issues in metaethics and in moral psychology, surveying important approaches with an emphasis on the disputed status of moral value and the roles of cognition and sensibility. Coverage of the issues includes discussion of significant thinkers from antiquity to the present.
For 170 years, Harriet Taylor Mill has been presented as a footnote in John Stuart Mill’s life. This volume gives her a separate voice. Readers may assess for themselves the importance and influence of her ideas on "women’s" issues such as marriage and divorce, education, domestic violence, and suffrage. And they will note the overlap of her ideas on ethics, religion, arts, and socialism, written in the 1830s, with her more famous husband’s works, published 25 years later.
This article identifies a common intellectual project of the disciplines that constitute the Humanities. It does not define the humanities but characterizes some of the main features of the distinctive and essential kind of learning uniquely attainable by their study. The humanities enable us to attain an understanding of normativity in the broadest sense; humanistic study leads to a textured, penetrating comprehension of diverse valuative matters and concerns. Moreover, study in the humanities enables us to recognize and appreciate valuative realism (...) . This is the view that valuative matters are appropriate objects of comprehension and that values are not simply projected in an expressivist or subjectivist manner. Valuative realism does not depend upon, and should not be assimilated into, knowledge that emulates the methods of the sciences. Humane studies develop a genuine understanding of diverse kinds of significance and educate people in the concepts and discourse to articulate it. (shrink)
The main claim in this paper is that because organisms have teleological constitutions, the reduction of biology to physical science is not possible. It is argued that the teleology of organisms is intrinsic and not merely projected onto them. Many organic phenomena are end-oriented and reference to ends is necessary for explaining them. Accounts in terms of functions or goals are appropriate to organic parts and processes. siis is because ends as systemic requirements for survival and health have explanatory significance (...) with respect to the processes that contribute to and constitute them. Reductionism cannot accommodate this sort of higher-level to lower-level explanation and so cannot account for why lower-level phenomena are as they are. Reductionism, it is claimed, is ultimately descriptive and not explanatory because it cannot regard teleological requirements as themselves basic. In seeking to explain them away it forfeits explanatory power. (shrink)
A study of the ways Maimonides and Aquinas both borrow from Aristotle and depart from him, in regard to the issue of forgiveness. The paper explicates moral-psychological issues and normative issues, connecting them to the perfectionism of the philosophical anthropology shared by the three thinkers. The theistic commitments of Maimonides and Aquinas ground important departures from Aristotle regarding the possibility of moral change and regarding moral relations between persons.
A detailed study of the moral philosophy of medieval Jewish thinkers Saadia Gaon, Bahya ibn Pakuda, and Moses Maimonides. Jon Jacobs emphasizes their distinctive contributions, emphasises the shared rational emphasis of their approach to Torah, and draws out resonances with contemporary moral philosophy.
Most present-day scholarship on the carceral state, and practically all of the papers and discussion at this conference, involve analysis of the massive increase in prison population over the last 25 years. What has not yet been systematically explored, and what is meant to be the focus of this final panel, is how to decarcerate. This is practically virgin territory. Scholars and activists have hardly begun to create a conversation, much less a literature, on the politics and policy of decarceration. (...) My experience is that most people begin to think about decarceration as a problem in political persuasion. But that begs the questions: who needs persuading and of what? Even passing attention to the issue suggests that there are many possible paths to decarceration; each of them implicates policy choices and triggers its own political debate. (shrink)
The question, "Why has Harriet Taylor Mill appeared in the history of philosophy as she has?" has several answers. The answers intertwine the personality and politics of Harriet, the sexism of those who wrote of her (which was a reflection of the overall status of women during the period the commentator wrote), misunderstandings of the means and meaning of her collaboration with John Stuart Mill, and the disturbing challenge of her questioning.
In this paper, my central aim is to defend the Powers Theory of causation, according to which causation is the exercise of a power (or manifestation of a disposition). I will do so by, first, presenting a recent version of the Powers Theory, that of Mumford (Forthcoming). Second, I will raise an objection to Mumford’s account. Third, I will offer a revised version that avoids the objection. And, fourth, I will end by briefly comparing the proposed Powers Theory with the (...) Neo-Humean, counterfactual theory. (shrink)
An explication of the Maimonidean view that tradition--even when anchored in revelation---can be a mode of access to rationally justified moral requirements. The discussion focuses on the mutually reinforcing roles of enlarging understanding on the one hand, and engagement in practice on the other. Deepened understanding of the 'reasons for the commandments' can motivate commitment to practice, which in turn can aid in deepening understanding.