In this response I argue that Jones’ minimalist realism is, also, a minimalist constructionism. And that the silent sphere ofevidence that Jones’ uses to ground his realism, may not be able to supply even a minimalist, strictly negative ground for epistemic endeavors.
At a minimum, a fiduciary is one who is entrusted to act for the benefit of others. But as the essays in this volume indicate, fiduciary relationships can be conceived or argued to be thicker and/or more robust. In addition to a relation of trust and action on behalf of another, fiduciary relationships are often thought to include some or all of the following additions: asymmetries of power, knowledge, skill or ability; discretion or reasonable judgment on the part of the (...) fiduciary; loyalty of the fiduciary to the interests of the trustor, or potential beneficiary; and the ethical obligation to act in good faith, with due care, or with professional or special knowledge in advancing the interests of the trustor. Due to the vulnerability of dependents, their trust in fiduciaries, and ethical obligations of trustees to act beneficently, fiduciary relationships lie at the heart of much ethical reflection, discourse and argumentation. This is especially so for professional fields in which fiduciaries have special knowledge and skill, and consequently special powers. Yet, apart from the specialized sub-disciplines of business ethics, legal ethics and medical ethics, fiduciary roles and relationships have not received much scrutiny and discussion in philosophy. In our view, this deficiency is best remedied by treating fiduciary ethics as a more general sub-field within ethics and deserving of attention in its own right. (shrink)
Introduction, by G. Holton.--Three eighteenth-century social philosophers: scientific influences on their thought, by H. Guerlac.--Science and the human comedy: Voltaire, by H. Brown.--The seventeenth-century legacy: our mirror of being, by G. de Santillana.--Contemporary science and the contemporary world view, by P. Frank.--The growth of science and the structure of culture, by R. Oppenheimer.--The Freudian conception of man and the continuity of nature, by J. S. Bruner.--Quo vadis, by P. W. Bridgman.--Prospects for a new synthesis: science and the humanities as (...) complementary activities, by C. Morris.--A humanist looks at science, by H. M. Jones. (shrink)
In this memorial essay on Sir Frank Kermode (1919–2010), the author focuses on his own exchange of views with Kermode during the 1970s. In Kermode's book The Sense of an Ending (1966), he had criticized Frank's essay “Spatial Form in Modern Literature” (1945) as part of a larger critique of what the Romantic-Symbolist tradition of English poetry had become in the twentieth century. Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and other late Symbolists had turned artists into advocates of an irrational wisdom (...) superior to reason and common sense, thus isolating—so Kermode argued—the world of art from that of ordinary human concerns. Rejecting their view of art, he turned instead to a pre-Romantic tradition (including Spenser and Milton) that the Symbolists had rejected. Among modern writers, Kermode turned to Wallace Stevens, who became his foil for Yeats, Eliot, and Pound, as well as the most important influence on his own later thinking. Joseph Frank, in this essay, recalls the combination of acerbic intelligence, social concern, gentility, and finally friendship that characterized his debate over these questions with Kermode. Frank recalls as an indication of his respect and admiration for Kermode that he wrote, in 1977, that, even if his own theory of spatial form were to be shown worthless, it would still have value in having provided some of the stimulus for Kermode to write The Sense of an Ending. (shrink)
The Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World maintains a commitment to pluralism in philosophical discourse by encouraging original, unconventional research with regard to contemporary concerns. Among our members, few have championed this commitment more steadfastly than the late Joe FrankJones III who passed away in January 2015 while planning our annual meeting. Joe had spent a number of years advocating for and developing a graduate-level Bioethics Certificate at Radford University, his home institution. The certificate came to (...) life in 2014, after which Joe and Christian Matheis proposed to co-host the next SPCW meeting on what would become this issue’s prototypical namesake: “America the Bioethical: Vitality, Trauma, and Questions of Bioethics in the 21st Century.” Following Joe’s death, both Christian and Charles W. Harvey carried on planning the conference with Joe’s vision as a guide. (shrink)
This essay argues that essentialism and epistemological foundationalism can be separated, and that a “humble” realism-foundationalism can be described which explains common cultural practices like counseling. A necessary constructionist component survives in this still legitimately ‘realist’ position, but it is shown not to lead to any crippling skepticism or relativism, as does pure constructionism.
As the new director of the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World, I have no deep sense of departure from Philosophy in the Contemporary World. I am simply losing a task that has at times been, in all honesty, difficult and onerous. As with childbirth, I am told, however, memory of the pain gives way to memory of the glory. And it is to the birth of children I would compare each successive issue of the journal since 1997. The (...) journal is healthy, increasing in subscriptions, and looking ahead to being administered and published by the Philosophy Documentation Center. It is a source of pride for the society's members, who indeed form a multitude of parents. Jim Sauer is an able new shepherd, and will take the journal to heights I could not. In ways I feel like I can be more supportive of the journal, and its editor, now that I am not doing the work myself. I am strongly committed to that support. (shrink)
This paper revisits William James's 1906 speech, "The Moral Equivalent of War," to look at the relationship of religion, particularly Christianity, to war and violence. Beginning with an anthropological update concerning "biological or sociological necessity," which confirms James's anti-mystical view of war, this paper then offers a case that monotheism, including Christianity, has an extremely ambiguous relationship with war and violence. There is evidence both that doing away with monotheism would have little effect on the prevalence of war and that (...) monotheism supports war in post-neolithic cultures. Finally, it seems the contribution James makes cannot be seen until the distinction between religion and philosophy is put aside. Only then can we see his suggestion that the proper role of intellectual leaders is to offer persons with politico-military power informed advice concerning actions that will result in fewer actual wars. (shrink)
This essay confronts police corruption historically and conceptually, isolating noble cause corruption as a neglected yet powerful motivator of corrupt police behavior. Noble cause corruption is defined in some detail and several specific suggestions are made regarding police training programs to address the issue.
This essay summarizes Ralph D. Ellis’ view of contemporary psychological theory in order to isolate his contribution to our understanding of tragedy and its role in inspiring human beings. Then it shows that Ellis’ attempt to connect inspiration with ethics and/or moral development fails. It is the connection that fails. Ellis’ description of the human condition remains instructive.
A growing literature testifies to the persistence of place as an incorrigible aspect of human experience, identity, and morality. Place is a common ground for thought and action, a community of experienced particulars that avoids solipsism and universalism. It draws us into the philosophy of the ordinary, into familiarity as a form of knowledge, into the wisdom of proximity. Each of these essays offers a philosophy of place, and reminds us that such philosophies ultimately decide how we make, use, and (...) understand places, whether as accidents, instruments, or fields of care. (shrink)
The present study seeks to lay out the most basic elements of the ontology of classical Aš‘arite theology. In several cases this requires a careful examination of the traditional and the formal lexicography of certain key expressions. The topics primarily treated are: how they understood “Being/ existence” and “being/existent” and essential natures; the systematic exploitation of the equivocities of certain expressions within a general context in which other than words there are no universals proves to be elegant as well as (...) insightful; the basic categories of primary entities: independant beings and nonindependant beings, created and uncreated, the equivocity of “being/existent” as predicated of contingent entities on the one hand and of God and His attributes on the other, and certain problems that arise because of the rigid application of the system's underlying analytic principles. Nous essayons ici de presenter les éléments fondamentaux de l'ontologie de l'aš‘arisme classique. Pour quelques expressions, il a fallu examiner la lexicographie et ordinaire et technique pour bien comprendre leur emploi et leur signification. Les sujets examinés sont: le sens de “Etre/existence” et de “être/existant” et le concept de réalité essentielle; l'emploi nuancé des équivocités de quelques expressions dans un contexte où les seuls universaux sont des mots, emploi qui se révèle philosophiquement élégant; les catégories fondamentales des êtres: êtres indépendants et êtres non-indépendants, soit créés soit incréés, l'équivocité de “être/existant” dit des êtres contingents d'une part, de Dieu et ses attributs d'autre part, et enfin quelques difficultiés qui résultent de l'application rigide des principes analytiques du système. (shrink)
Recent decades have seen a resurgence of contractarian thinking about the nature and origins of the state. Scholars in this tradition ask what constraints rational, self-interested actors might deliberately impose upon themselves. In response, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, and other early contractarians answered that laws of property were an attractive alternative to “the war of all against all.” More recently, James Buchanan, Russell Hardin, Mancur Olson, Gordon Tullock, and others have used contractarian principles to justify laws that solve a variety of (...) Prisoner's Dilemmas and other collective-action problems. And in the distributional realm, John Rawls and others have applied contractarian analysis to investigate how material wealth ought to be allocated among people. (shrink)
Our intention here is to present the essential character of classical, sunnī kalām within a strictly formal perspective and to set out its basic aspects. It was conceived by the mutakallimīn as a rational, conceptual, and critical science and, although kalām differed in a number of basic concepts and constructs and in its analytic system, the topical organisation of the major compendia parallels that of metaphysics as understood in the contemporary Aristotelian tradition. The debates between kalām and falsafa need to (...) be examined within this context. Kalām, however, is theological in the strict sense of the term and it is as such that its problematic and its procedures are primarily to be understood. Thus seen, the object of kalām is to rationalise the cognitive content presented to Believers in the symbolic language of the koranic revelation. It has, then, four principal tasks, sc, to conceptualise, to order, to explain, and where possible to justify the primary doctrines of the community whose belief is held to be normative. Within this framework the differences that characterise the major schools as such and the various tendencies of individual masters within each school may readily be brought to light. On se propose ici de présenter, d'un point de vue strictement formel, la nature du kālam classique sunnite et d'identifier ses caractéristiques principales. II avait été conçu par les mutakallimin comme une science rationelle, conceptuelle et critique. L'organisation des matières dans ses traités reprend celle de la métaphysique dans la tradition aristotélicienne de l'époque, bien que le kalām s'en distingue par plusieurs de ses structures et concepts fondamentaux, ainsi que par son système analytique. C'est dans ce contexte qu'il faut considérer les debats qui s'instaurèrent entre kalām et falsafa. Le kalām, cependant, est d'ordre strictement théologique et c'est principalement dans ce cadre qu'il faut comprendre sa problématique et ses procédures. Le kalām a pour fonction de rationaliser le contenu cognitif offert aux croyants dans le langage symbolique de la révélation coranique. Il en résulte quatre tâches principales; il s'agit de conceptualiser, ordonner, expliquer et, dans le mesure du possible, justifier les doctrines principales reconnues par la communauté faisant référence en matière de croyance. Dans ce cadre, il sera possible de mettre en lumière les différences entre les principales écoles, ainsi que les tendances qui distinguent certains de leurs grands maîtres respectifs. (shrink)
In the following reply to Joe FrankJones, Ill's "Analysis, Phenomenology and the Travails of Ontology," I argue that skepticism about method plays an important critical role in philosophical thinking. I further suggest that it may be time for philosophy to rehabilitate metaphysics rather than simply ceding it to the natural sciences.
This interview with Joseph Frank — best known as the author of a five-volume biography of Dostoevsky (published 1976 – 2002) and of Spatial Form in Modern Literature (1945) — was conducted in 2012 at Stanford and is published here, shortly after his death at age ninety-four, as a memorial to him. The conversation highlights Frank's representation of Dostoevsky as a critic and a satirist of the nihilist intelligentsia of nineteenth-century Russia — a portrayal that runs counter to (...) the understanding and use of his writings and his characters by Marxists, Nietzscheans, Freudians, Surrealists, crisis theologians, and Existentialists. Frank tells the story of how his friendship in the 1950s with Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, led to Frank's teaching himself Russian in order to read Notes from Underground and write an article on the novella that changed the face of Dostoevsky scholarship. The conversation also provides hints as to how — as director of the Christian Gauss Seminars at Princeton and as a contributor to debates about Spatial Form in Critical Inquiry — he negotiated the intellectual trends and distractions of Grand Theory, which came to dominate literary criticism in the 1970s and confirmed Frank in his counterfocus on the importance of historical context, not only in criticism but also in literary creation. Above all, the interview shows how a scholar can overcome institutional pressures and the temptations of careerism by shrugging them off and concentrating attention on scholarship alone. (shrink)