We shall argue that there is adequate moral justification for capital punishment with linkage, that is, with linkage to keeping non-murderers from dying. We present the argument with two aims in mind. The first is to question the conventional wisdom, seldom challenged even by proponents of capital punishment, that being an abolitionist is closely connected to having a civilized respect for human life. This conventional wisdom, we hope to show, is somewhat off the mark. To this end we exhibit structural (...) similarities between so-called lifeboat dilemmas and the public's relationship to a murderer. In a lifeboat dilemma one must choose between saving this life or that, since the lifeboat will not hold both persons. Now if this life were an innocent's and that one a murderer's, a choice to save the latter would not be met with accusations of callousness towards human life. We hope to project everyone's intuitions about this case onto the more baffling case of a society's relationship to the murderers and dying innocents in its midst. (shrink)
This note attempts first to broaden the investigation of ties expressed by ?my? and ?mine?, which was initiated in ?The Concept of ?Mine?; ? (Inquiry, Vol. 7, No. 3). Socially accepted types of use ties (active and passive), worth ties and other sorts are distinguished from the previously noted ties of ownership, agency, etc. These further distinctions of ties, it is argued, also deserve the attention of philosophers and conceptually oriented social scientists. The analysis of ?mine? is then applied to (...) the much disputed concept of ?imagining?: some major clusters of divergent facts and phenomena called human imaginings are mapped and related to ?mine? (shrink)
AT LEAST ONE MODEL OF THE RATIONAL RELIGIOUS BELIEVER EXISTS: PRIMARY COMMITMENT TO DISCOVERING TRUTH AND ACTING RIGHTLY; COMMITMENT TO A RELIGION FLOWING FROM THOSE PRIMARY ONES; SOME DEGREE OF TENTATIVENESS ABOUT FAITH; SEARCHING FOR PROBABILITY, MORE THAN CERTAINTY; FAITH CONSTITUTING A PARTLY MORAL WAGER AIMED AT MAXIMIZING EXPECTED UTILITIES OF CERTAIN KINDS; A TOLERANT WISDOM ABOUT COMMITMENTS (AND ORDERINGS) PARTLY PLEASING TO SUCH SECULAR THINKERS AS MILL, QUINE AND POPPER, ALSO AQUINAS, BARTLEY AND WILLIAM JAMES; PRIMARY LOVE FOR GOD (...) AS THE SUPREME JUSTIFIER OF HUMAN JUSTIFIER OF HUMAN HISTORY--GOD’S POWER BEING TREATED AS SECONDARY TO HIS GOODNESS. (TOPICS INCLUDE: MIRACLES, IS AND OUGHT, PROBABILITY, WAGERS, PROOFS, TIME, WAR). (shrink)
CHARLES BABBAGE, OUTSTANDING 19TH CENTURY FIGURE ON THEORY OF COMPUTING, URGES ON PROTO-GOODMANIAN AND NEO-MAIMONIDEAN GROUNDS THAT HUME IS QUITE WRONG ABOUT THE PROBABILITY OF MIRACLES’ OCCURRING. AQUINAS’ CLASSIFICATIONS OF MIRACLES INDICATE THAT NOT SINGLE PROBABILITY JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS RIGHT. BABBAGE’S WORK ON COMPUTING STILL CIRCULATES, BUT HIS NINTH BRIDGEWATER TREATISE (ON MIRACLES) HAS LONG DESERVED REPUBLICATION.
Debate continues to rage among philosophers of religion over Anthony Flew's famous little paper ‘Theology and Falsification’ and the responses it provoked, most notably R. M. Hare's response that religious claims are in no way like scientific hypotheses. For now, twenty years later, we still find many theists taking a similar tack to Hare's. A particularly interesting example is J. F. Miller in Religious Studies, 1969, who replies to Flew that propositions like ‘God loves mankind’ cannot be subject to falsifiability (...) conditions because they are used as claims expressing ‘religious first-order principles of the Judaeo-Christian Weltanschauung and as such are not amenable to falsification’ (p. 50). Miller seems to put his faith in some kind of great gulf fixed between what he would consider decently falsifiable scientific hypotheses and what he takes to be unfalsifiable first-order principles both of theology and of contemporary science. In what follows we will try to sketch a more rational strategy for modern believers of a liberal empiricist type, for those whose interest in appealing and deferring to experience includes but is not restricted to so-called ‘sense experience’. This will involve accepting analogies between theological statements and so-called hypotheses, insofar as the latter are propositions held and put forward in a somewhat tentative spirit with a view to explaining what we experience. (shrink)
It is increasingly fashionable to attack McTaggart's arguments about the Unreality of Time with a minimum of attention to what he was trying to establish. Those who have only read his one still famous paper ‘The Unreality of Time’ [III] are too likely to assume from professional philosophers' current counter-arguments that the man was a sceptic with only a single idea in his head, rather than an ingenious, constructive metaphysician. Since so much formal and informal analysis has been directed against (...) so few of McTaggart's comments on Time, and mainly against his destructive claim that the vulgar concept of Time requires as explicans an incoherent ‘A-series’ of becomings with ever-shifted pasts, presents and futures, perhaps it is time to encourage some redirection of analytical assessment to what he was arguing for. I say this not only for historical reasons, though I shall draw historical comparisons, but because rationally assessing what McTaggart really denies about Time may require some serious interest in what he so interestingly asserts about our experience of what we call ‘Time’. Trousers, pace Austin, normally have one wearer but two legs. If McTaggart's negative points deserve such a plethora of analysis, then the positive view needs attention or the analysis is ill-aimed. (shrink)