The primary focus here is romantic love, but it may be applied to other cases of love such as those within a family. The first issue is whether love is a non-rational occurrence leading to a state of affairs to which the normative constrains of reason do not apply. If one assumes that reasons are relevant to determining love, then the second issue is the manner in which love is and should be reasonable and governed by the indications of reason. (...) It is contended that our conception of love is inherently contradictory. Depending on circumstances, we want love to be both a non-rational occurrence beyond reason and something normative such that the indications of reasons are relevant to determining and assessing it. We alternate between the two treatments of love and in so doing love can function in our lives. The incoherence is accommodated by each treatment or view of love being one of as if. This allows us to live with love in a manner whereby we do not have to definitively commit to either alternative, so we have a dipolar as if concept of love. Sometimes we view love as if reasons were beside the point and at others we view love as if it were rightly subject to the indications of reason. (shrink)
Philosophy makes no progress. It fails to do so in the way science and mathematics make progress. By “no progress” is meant that there is no successive advance of a well-established body of knowledge—no views are definitively established or definitively refuted. Yet philosophers often talk and act as if the subject makes progress, and that its point and value lies in its doing so, while in fact they also approach the subject in ways that clearly contradict any claim to progress. (...) This article presents evidence for, and a theoretical explanation of, the view that philosophy makes no progress, concluding with an account of what philosophy is and what the point and value of it is. Philosophy should not be shy about being what it is, nor should it pretend to be what it is not. What it is should be reflected in philosophizing and the way it is taught. (shrink)
Philosophy and Philosophers is an important introduction to Western philosophy aimed at those who are unfamiliar with the nature of philosophy and its history. It is organized around the main schools of philosophical thought and ranges from ancient Greece, through the explosion of ideas in the seventeenth century, to the Enlightenment and the challenge of twentieth-century philosophy. In each chapter John Shand assesses the contribution of a single philosopher, paying particular attention to the key areas of the theory of knowledge, (...) the nature of reality, and the nature of philosophy itself. An extensive annotated bibliography serves as a helpful guide to works by and about the philosophers discussed. Accessible and clearly written, this survey of the ideas of the major thinkers of the western world will be invaluable as a reference source. (shrink)
The answer to the question of why there is Something rather than Nothing is that there has to be Something and that Nothing is impossible. There cannot not be Something so there cannot be Nothing. The paper justifies this conclusion, while also explaining why we might believe there may be Nothing. In the course of this, the so-called subtraction-argument is shown to be inadequate and question-begging.
Analogously the determinants of the value and meaning of an artwork are fundamentally the same as for an individual life. In both the value and meaning are determined by the parts, in their particularity and in their configuration, as well as, respectively, the subjective contribution of the person whose life it is and whomsoever observes the artwork. However, a person and his life are inextricably linked in a way an observer and an artwork are not. We should learn caution from (...) the fact that to tinker with the parts and configuration of an artwork will likely destroy its value and meaning and apply that to the lives of individuals, and fully respect the particularity and the subjectivity of evaluation involved. We should eschew all but the idea of universal prescriptions for the good-life for individuals, just as we would do so in the case of a good artwork. (shrink)
Arguing Well is a lucid introduction to the nature of good reasoning, how to test and construct successful arguments. It assumes no prior knowledge of logic or philosophy. The book includes an introduction to basic symbolic logic. Arguing Well introduces and explains: * The nature and importance of arguments * What to look for in deciding whether arguments succeed or fail * How to construct good arguments * How to make it more certain that we reason when we should The (...) book is ideal for any student embarking on academic study where presenting arguments are what matters most; in fact, for all people who want to understand the nature and importance of good reasoning and awaken their ability to argue well. (shrink)
This paper traces the connections between the assertion or denial of innate ideas, and the possibility of the soul being immortal, in the contrasting cases of Descartes and Locke. Descartes and Locke disagree about whether there are innate ideas and the nature of the soul, but they agree that the soul is immortal. The issue explored is which theory of the mind, Descartes's or Locke's, is in the best position to contend that we to survive death, and indeed exist immortally. (...) The argument is not as straightforwardly in Descartes's favor, as one might suppose. (shrink)
The following argument presents a refutation of the existence of God under a certain description, which, it will be maintained, is the only description that most traditional monotheists could accept. Therefore, either God, as defined by traditional monotheism, does not exist or something that might be called ‘God’ exists, but would not be acceptable to monotheism as truly being God. Either way, God does not exist. 1.
Settling definitions is often seen as a central tool for clarifying concepts, and answering questions. Examples might be , or . A common way of answering such questions is by formulating necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing to be of a certain sort. It is this form of real definition that is of concern here.
Imagine a universe without human beings. Now imagine a universe devoid of any creatures like human beings, beings who could think about the universe and in so doing consider it as divided up into different kinds of things that could be objects of understanding. Now imagine – this is harder – your not being there, or anyone else, to imagine such a universe. Next think about setting about describing in physical laws such a universe in line with a completist physicalist (...) program: that all the facts about the world are physical facts. But where would one begin? Why would one begin? Remember there is no-one around to take more interest in any part of the universe than any other. This contrasts with what we do now. What we do now is take chunks of the universe – stars, planets, water, trees, air, particles – and demarcate the physical laws in such a way as to explain how these objects behave against a background of other objects and ultimately the universe as a whole. But what if we were not around? Why would we there be any reason to demarcate groups of physical laws in this or any other way? My suggestion is that there would be none. The grouping of the physical laws to form complex classes and layers of explanations is parasitic upon creatures having particular interests giving them a perspective upon the universe or world, which in turn derives from the kind of limited creatures they happen to be. But the perspective itself is not a physical fact about the universe. Rather it is a way of coming to form a system of facts about the universe. Further, not only might the perspective have been otherwise, there might be none at all. In which case the demarcation of physical laws, given meaning by their application to entities picked out as having a certain significance to us, would not get off the ground. At best there might be a random bunching of laws covering regions of the universe. But such random bunchings would have no meaning; they would be unintelligible; they wouldn't really be about anything. For laws to be about things you have to have limited creatures who differentiate between parts of the universe, and for whom different parts have a variable significance and value. Things stand out for them; they literally exist . Without such creatures, things we take for granted would, in the literal sense, not exist. It is the very limitedness of our perspective and capabilities, such that things are problems for us, and wherefore we literally or metaphorically bump into things, that brings objects into existence for us. Otherwise the universe would be utterly ‘flat’ and undifferentiated. A limitation of perspective is required for there to be objects of thought, and thus for thought itself. Thus, the intelligibility of the laws of physics is logically parasitic upon our having varying interests in different segments of the universe. (shrink)
It is often taken for granted that music, whatever else it is able to do, cannot articulate ideas. This paper aims to refute that formalist claim and present an anti-formalist one showing why thinking formalism true is based on a fallacy and involves a misunderstanding of ordinary language. By ‘idea’ is meant a view, and reflection on that view, which in the limiting case may be a worldview, a Weltanschauung. That in this sense ideas are articulated in music is to (...) say that they are, among other things, presented, conveyed and considered. This goes well beyond the usual anti-formalist claim that music may express emotions. The paper goes on to show how ideas may be articulated in music. This follows from properly understanding how it is that any idea may be articulated. Without music being able to include articulating ideas, the high artistic and cultural value we place upon music, as well as the way people actually talk about music, while being compatible with music having other features that we value, is inexplicable. In this sense the question is raised as to how it is possible to articulate ideas in music. (shrink)
Any attempt to describe a "best health service' must make political assumptions. For example, should it help everyone? Do different people have different entitlements to its support? Should its help be offered according to need, value for money or ability to benefit? These assumptions are not always clear to health service decision-makers immersed in clinical and economic technicalities, so HCA invited two philosophers --John Shand and David Seedhouse -- to engage in conversation about the political philosophy of health care.
While life has been increasing in length an increasing proportion of that life is in a state of poor health and decrepitude. Indeed, an increasing proportion of life is in that poor state because of its increased length. Medicine always fails to catch up, and increasingly so in providing a life of good health overall set by the end point of inevitable death. This requires a change in attitude from the zealous concentration on medical interventions whose chief aim is to (...) increase the length of life, and a move to being able to consider more readily refusing some medical treatments, along with a more resigned attitude to our death, which must come anyway.Export citation. (shrink)
Whether John Shand is discussing the slow separation of philosophy and theology in Augustine, Aquinas and Ockham, the rise of rationalism, British empiricism, German idealism, or the new approaches opened up by Russell, Sartre, and Wittgenstein, he combines succinct but insightful exposition with crisp critical comment. This new edition will continue to provide students with a valuable work of initial reference.
There can be no such thing as the meaningful life, but only a meaningful life for a particular life as it is lived. Thus, there are meaningful lives, which are lives that make sense and are sufficiently aligned, these two characteristics being honed successively by the limits of a particular contingent form of life, a particular individual of that form of life, and a particular time in the life of that individual. Only the form of a meaningful life may be (...) given, which is sense and alignment, whereas its content may only be determined by the individual whose life it is. (shrink)
Traditionally formulated, the problem of free will cannot be solved. We may nevertheless be justifiably confident that we have free will. The traditional formulation makes a solution impossible by juxtaposing contradictory objective and subjective accounts of whether there is free will, between which accounts there is no third way to choose. However, the objective stance inherently denies the conditions under which free will is possible, namely that there are subjects, and is thus question-begging. It gives us no good reason for (...) our not having free will without our also accepting that there are no subjects. As subjects we may not deny that there are subjects, and that as subjects we have good reason, through our experience of free will, to hold that we have free will. The problem of free will is a footnote to how there may be subjects. In order to understand what free will is we need to look at how it is experienced, that is, at the phenomenology of free will. (shrink)
The new possibility opened up by recent technology of ever-present, unbroken and potentially instant communication has had a fundamental effect on human relations, presenting us with modes of communication unprecedented in human history. Although there are some good effects, one of the bad effects is the potential for degradation in human relations in respect of the capacity for, and habit of, empathy, understanding and thoughtfulness between individuals, and an undermining of the expectation of reasonable anticipation in relation to others and (...) the consequent relief from the responsibility of having such anticipation. Many technological developments have changed human life. But one that so strongly determines communication, when communication is such a central part of what it means to be a person and to have relations with others, is bound to have far profounder effects than most other technological changes. The significance of new modes of communication is set against the fact that it is very recent and utterly unprecedented in human history, and is not something that could have been taken account of as part of the adaptations of human evolution. (shrink)
This paper is not about truth but about consistency. Pointing to inconsistency would be a dry worthless exercise were there not people who are inconsistent in the specific way described and for whom such inconsistency matters. There are those who tell us that life has no value and is pointless, that it is ‘absurd’, and yet that it matters how we live our lives; in particular that we ought to square up to the truth that life has no value and (...) is pointless. Philosophy and art, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have often seen this view in the ascendant when they get onto the issue of ‘the meaning of life’. (shrink)
The paper explores a subclass of ethical judgements that are disturbing in that the strength of moral abhorrence generally associated with such judgements is not remotely matched by any rational moral arguments supporting them, and yet we nevertheless appear to think we have no intellectual obligation to change the said ethical judgments so as to accord with the degree of justification. This may stand as a warning that we should be guarded in holding our ethical beliefs since we may not (...) be as rational as we like to think we are. (shrink)
Comprising 20 free-standing chapters written by specialists in their respective fields, _Central Issues of Philosophy_ provides novice readers with the ideal accessible introduction to all of philosophy's core issues. An accessible introduction to the central issues of philosophy Organized around key philosophical issues - ranging from truth, knowledge and reality to free will, ethics and the existence of God Provides beginning students with the information and skills to delve deeper into philosophical fields of study Each chapter is written by an (...) experienced teacher. (shrink)