Alan Millar's paper (2011) involves two parts, which I address in order, first taking up the issues concerning the goal of inquiry, and then the issues surrounding the appeal to reflective knowledge. I argue that the upshot of the considerations Millar raises count in favour of a more important role in value-driven epistemology for the notion of understanding and for the notion of epistemic justification, rather than for the notions of knowledge and reflective knowledge.
John Stuart Mill argued, in his Principles of Political Economy, that existing laws and customs of private property ought to be reformed to promote a far more egalitarian form of capitalism than hitherto observed anywhere. He went on to suggest that such an ideal capitalism might evolve spontaneously into a decentralized socialism involving a market system of competing worker co-operatives. That possibility of market socialism emerged only as the working classes gradually developed the intellectual and moral qualities required for worker (...) co-operatives to succeed against private firms. Workers would tend to reject the hierarchical wage relation as they developed the requisite personal qualities, he believed, and capitalists, facing escalating wages for skilled labour as a result of the diminishing supply of high-quality workers for hire, would tend to lend their capital to the worker co-operatives ‘at a diminishing rate of interest, and at last, perhaps, even to exchange their capital for terminable annuities. In this or some such mode’, he speculated, ‘the existing accumulations of capital might honestly, and by a kind of spontaneous process, become in the end the joint property of all who participate in their productive employment: a transformation which, thus effected, would be the nearest approach to social justice, and the most beneficial ordering of industrial affairs for the universal good, which it is possible at present to foresee.’. (shrink)
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
Arrhenius and Rabinowicz have argued that Millian qualitative superiorities are possible without assuming that any pleasure, or type of pleasure, is infinitely superior to another. But AR's analysis is fatally flawed in the context of ethical hedonism, where the assumption in question is necessary and sufficient for Millian qualitative superiorities. Marginalist analysis of the sort pressed by AR continues to have a valid role to play within any plausible version of hedonism, provided the fundamental incoherence that infects AR's use of (...) such analysis is removed. But what AR call ‘Millian superiorities’ are never genuine qualitative superiorities in Mill's sense. Mill scholars need to appreciate this point and recognize that the interpretation of qualitative superiorities as infinite superiorities is the only interpretation which is compatible with the text of Mill's Utilitarianism. The continuing failure to appreciate the possibility of infinite superiorities has precluded any adequate understanding of the extraordinary structure of Mill's pluralistic hedonistic utilitarianism. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy works within almost all fields of philosophy but is best known as the leading proponent of moral particularism. Particularism challenges “traditional” moral theories, such as Contractualism, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, in that it denies that moral thought and judgement relies upon, or is made possible by, a set of more or less well-defined, hierarchical principles. During the summer of 2006, the Philosophy Departments of Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Reading (England) began a series of exchanges to (...) take place every other year, alternating between the departments. Andreas Lind and Johan Brännmark arranged to meet Dancy during the first meeting in Lund to talk about questions regarding particularism, moral theory and the shape of the analytical tradition. The major part of the conversation is printed below. (shrink)
In a recent paper in this Journal, one of us argued against placing He above Be in Mendeleiev’s system of the elements. In it the goal was to dispute the notion that in Mendeleiev’s system of the elements the location of He should in fact lie above Be, which has a very similar electronic configuration, rather than above the noble gas column. That paper was based on rather old, Hartree–Fock limit studies on the strikingly limited non-additive contributions in the He3 (...) and He4 systems in contrast with the much larger non-additivity obtained for the Be3, Be4 and Be5 oligomers. In a recent benchmark multireference Averaged Quadratic Coupled Cluster results on Be2 and Be3 we showed that the delocalized non-additive contribution comprises 94 % of the binding energy of Be3. Here we use this and other pertinent information (drawn from the same paper) to conclude that He may not be associated with Be in Mendeleiev’s Table, despite their quite similar spectroscopic ground states. Furthermore, we use the new results to show that the large non-additivity implies that less than 2 % of the Be3 binding is located in each Be pair contained within the Be trimer. The rest of the interaction energy is necessarily delocalized over all three Be atoms. This might actually announce the bulk properties (i.e. “the electron gas”) that in solid-state physics explain the large electric and heat conduction for the solid Be metal. Thus, in the case of beryllium the metallic characteristics are already evident in Be3, a far cry from the monoatomic helium gas. (shrink)
In 1970 Amartya Sen exposed an apparent antinomy that has come to be known as the Paradox of the Paretian Libertarian. Sen introduced his paradox by establishing a simple but startling theorem. Roughly put, what he proved was that if a mechanism for selecting social choice functions satisfies two standard adequacy conditions, there are possible situations in which it will violate either the very weak libertarian precept that every individual has at least some rights or the seemingly innocuous Paretian principle (...) that an option should be judged unacceptable if there is an available alternative that everyone prefers to it. Many economists and philosophers have proposed solutions to Sen's problem, but there is no general consensus on what solution is correct. In the present paper I argue that Sen's original theorem fails to establish the existence of any conflict between libertarianism and Paretianism. Furthermore, I contend that Sen has misinterpreted certain other theorems which he has used to defend the existence of a paradoxical conflict between these two doctrines. In general, I try to show that whenever Sen posits a Paretian-libertarian conflict to explain an apparently troubling result in social choice theory, the difficulty can be better dealt with either by claiming that the theorem in question imposes overly strong background constraints on the form of social choice functions or by claiming that it relies on an unacceptable construal of individual rights. (shrink)
: In this essay, Solis contemplates how queercrip—both homosexual and disabled—readings of four editions of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" might be used to destabilize "normative" sexual identities. His goal is to argue against secrecy and for disclosure; thus, a main question guides the analysis: How might we (for example, parents, teachers, counselors) use picture books to reevaluate human sexuality in all its varied manifestations to avoid condemning to the closet all those who do not approximate a prescribed (...) "norm"? (shrink)
In this essay, Solis contemplates how queercrip-both homosexual and disabled-readings of four editions of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" might be used to destabilize "normative" sexual identities. His goal is to argue against secrecy and for disclosure; thus, a main question guides the analysis: How might we use picture books to reevaluate human sexuality in all its varied manifestations to avoid condemning to the closet all those who do not approximate a prescribed "norm"?
The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called “free market environmentalism”, is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described FME advocates adopt a utilitarian, welfare-maximization approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic, human-induced climate change is likely (...) to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights. Viewed globally, the actions of some countries—primarily industrialized nations—are likely to increase environmental harms suffered by other countries—less developed nations that have not made any significant contribution to climate change. It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealthier world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses. Yet such claims, even if demonstrated, would not address the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations. As a consequence, this paper calls for a rethinking of FME approaches to climate change policy. (shrink)
In my Practical Reality I argued that the reasons for which we act are not to be conceived of as psychological states of ourselves, but as real states of the world. The main reason for saying this was that only thus can we make sense of the idea that it is possible to act for a good reason. The good reasons we have for doing this action rather than that one consist mainly of features of the situations in which we (...) find ourselves; they do not consist in our believing certain things about those situations. For instance, the reason for my helping that person is that she is in trouble and I am the only person around. It is not that I believe both that she is in trouble and that I am the only person around. Give that the reason to help is that she is in trouble etc., it must be possible for my reason for helping to be just that, if it is indeed possible for one to act for a good reason. In fact, this sort of thing must be the normal arrangement. The reasons why we act, therefore, that is, our reasons for doing what we do, are not standardly to be conceived as states of ourselves, but as features of our situations. (shrink)
This paper examines folk theories of algorithmic recommendations on Spotify in order to make visible the cultural specificities of data assemblages in the global South. The study was conducted in Costa Rica and draws on triangulated data from 30 interviews, 4 focus groups with 22 users, and the study of “rich pictures” made by individuals to graphically represent their understanding of algorithmic recommendations. We found two main folk theories: one that personifies Spotify and another one that envisions it as a (...) system full of resources. Whereas the first theory emphasizes local conceptions of social relations to make sense of algorithms, the second one stresses the role of algorithms in providing a global experience of music and technology. We analyze why people espouse either one of these theories and how these theories provide users with resources to enact different modalities of power and resistance in relation to recommendation algorithms. We argue that folk theories thus offer a productive way to broaden understanding of what agency means in relation to algorithms. (shrink)
I continue my argument that Millian qualitative superiorities are infinite superiorities: one pleasant feeling, or type of pleasant feeling, is qualitatively superior to another in Mill's sense if and only if even a bit of the superior is more pleasant than any finite quantity of the inferior, however large. This gives rise to a hierarchy of higher and lower pleasures such that a reasonable hedonist always refuses to sacrifice a higher for a lower irrespective of the finite amounts of each. (...) Some indication of why this absolute refusal may be reasonable is provided in the course of outlining the content of the Millian hierarchy. It emerges that Mill's hedonistic utilitarianism has an extraordinary structure because it gives absolute priority over competing considerations to a code of justice that distributes equal rights and correlative duties for all. His utilitarianism also recognizes that certain aesthetic and spiritual pleasures may be qualitatively superior even to the pleasant feeling of security associated with the moral sentiment of justice. Thus, for instance, a noble individual may reasonably choose to waive his own rights so as to perform beautiful supererogatory actions that provide great benefits for others at the sacrifice of the right-holder's own vital interests. (shrink)
Epistemology has for a long time focused on the concept of knowledge and tried to answer questions such as whether knowledge is possible and how much of it there is. Often missing from this inquiry, however, is a discussion on the value of knowledge. In The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding Jonathan Kvanvig argues that epistemology properly conceived cannot ignore the question of the value of knowledge. He also questions one of the most fundamental assumptions in (...) epistemology, namely that knowledge is always more valuable than the value of its subparts. Taking Platos' Meno as a starting point of his discussion, Kvanvig tackles the different arguments about the value of knowledge and comes to the conclusion that knowledge is less valuable than generally assumed. Clearly written and well argued, this 2003 book will appeal to students and professionals in epistemology. (shrink)
Every religion offers both hope and fear. They offer hope in virtue of the benefits promised to adherents, and fear in virtue of costs incurred by adversaries. In traditional Christianity, the costs incurred are expressed in terms of the doctrine of hell, according to which each person consigned to hell receives the same infinite punishment. This strong view of hell involves four distinct theses. First, it maintains that those in hell exist forever in that state (the Existence Thesis) and that (...) at least some human persons will end up in hell (the Anti-Universalism Thesis). Once in hell, there is no possibility of escape (the No Escape Thesis), and the justification of and purpose for hell is to mete out punishment to those whose earthly lives and character deserve it (the Retribution Thesis). (shrink)
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
Few stage plays have much to do with analytic philosophy: Tom Stoppard has written two of them— Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Jumpers . The contrast between these, especially in how they involve philosophy, could hardly be greater. Rosencrantz does not parade its philosophical content; but the philosophy is there all the same, and it is solid, serious and functional. In contrast with this, the philosophy which is flaunted throughout Jumpers is thin and uninteresting, and it serves the play (...) only in a decorative and marginal way. Its main effect has been to induce timidity in reviewers who could not see the relevance to the play of the large stretches of academic philosophy which it contains. Since the relevance doesn't exist, the timidity was misplaced, and so the kid gloves need not have been used. Without doubting that I would have enjoyed the work as performed on the London stage, aided by the talent of Michael Hordern and the charm of Diana Rigg, I don't doubt either that Jumpers is a poor effort which doesn't deserve its current success. I shan't argue for that, however. I want only to explain why Jumpers is not a significantly philosophical play, before turning to the more important and congenial task of showing that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is one. (shrink)
Consider a circle and a pair of its semicircles. Which is prior, the whole or its parts? Are the semicircles dependent abstractions from their whole, or is the circle a derivative construction from its parts? Now in place of the circle consider the entire cosmos (the ultimate concrete whole), and in place of the pair of semicircles consider the myriad particles (the ultimate concrete parts). Which if either is ultimately prior, the one ultimate whole or its many ultimate parts?
On the now dominant Quinean view, metaphysics is about what there is. Metaphysics so conceived is concerned with such questions as whether properties exist, whether meanings exist, and whether numbers exist. I will argue for the revival of a more traditional Aristotelian view, on which metaphysics is about what grounds what. Metaphysics so revived does not bother asking whether properties, meanings, and numbers exist (of course they do!) The question is whether or not they are fundamental.
The law tends to think that there is no difficulty about identifying humans. When someone is born, her name is entered into a statutory register. She is ‘X’ in the eyes of the law. At some point, ‘X’ will die and her name will be recorded in another register. If anyone suggested that the second X was not the same as the first, the suggestion would be met with bewilderment. During X's lifetime, the civil law assumed that the X who (...) entered into a contract was the same person who breached it. The criminal law assumed that X, at the age of 80, was liable for criminal offences ‘she’ committed at the age of 18. This accords with the way we talk. ‘She's not herself today’, we say; or ‘When he killed his wife he wasn't in his right mind’. The intuition has high authority: ‘To thine own self be true’, urged Polonius.1 It sounds as if we believe in souls—immutable, core essences that constitute our real selves. Medicine conspires in the belief. If you become mentally ill, a psychiatrist will seek to get you back to your right mind. The Mental Capacity Act 1985 states that when a patient loses capacity the only lawful interventions will be interventions which are in that patient's best interests,2 and that in determining what those interests are the decision-maker must have …. (shrink)
How is reality really manufactured? The idea of social construction has become a commonplace part of much social research, yet precisely what is constructed, how it is constructed, and what constructionism means are often left unclear or taken for granted. In this major work, Jonathan Potter explores the central themes raised by these questions. Representing Reality explores the different traditions in constructivist thought--including sociology of scientific knowledge; conversation analysis and ethnomethodology; and semiotics, poststructuralism, and postmodernism--to provide a lucid introduction (...) to several key strands of work that have overturned the way we think about facts and descriptions. Potter illustrates his points throughout with varied and engaging examples taken from newspaper stories, relationship counseling sessions, accounts of paranormal events, social workers' assessments of violent parents, informal talk between program organizers, political arguments, and everyday conversations. Representing Reality offers the student and scholar in social psychology, rhetoric and discourse, and related fields a critical introduction to constructivism. (shrink)
In this paper we propose to argue for two claims. The first is that a sizeable group of epistemological projects – a group which includes much of what has been done in epistemology in the analytic tradition – would be seriously undermined if one or more of a cluster of empirical hypotheses about epistemic intuitions turns out to be true. The basis for this claim will be set out in Section 2. The second claim is that, while the jury is (...) still out, there is now a substantial body of evidence suggesting that some of those empirical hypotheses are true. Much of this evidence derives from an ongoing series of experimental studies of epistemic intuitions that we have been conducting. A preliminary report on these studies will be presented in Section 3. In light of these studies, we think it is incumbent on those who pursue the epistemological projects in question to either explain why the truth of the hypotheses does not undermine their projects, or to say why, in light of the evidence we will present, they nonetheless assume that the hypotheses are false. In Section 4, which is devoted to Objections and Replies, we’ll consider some of the ways in which defenders of the projects we are criticizing might reply to our challenge. Our goal, in all of this, is not to offer a conclusive argument demonstrating that the epistemological projects we will be criticizing are untenable. Rather, our aim is to shift the burden of argument. (shrink)
Liberalism without Perfection offers an introduction to the debate between liberal perfectionism and political liberalism. This book is a new account and defence of Rawlsian political liberalism, one of the most discussed, but widely misunderstood and criticized theories in contemporary political theory.
An argument that takes issue with the contemporary epistemological consensus that justification is distinct from knowledge, proposing instead that justified belief simply is knowledge, and arguing in detail that a belief is justified when ...
I came to epistemology through an interest in the concept of rationality, and especially through the attacks on the rationality of religious believers. My thoughts at the time focused on the disappointing quality of the arguments for and against religious belief, and I recall being astonished at the time that philosophers capable of such penetrating insight in other areas had nothing that seemed either penetrating or original. The defenders sounded too much like mere apologists for the faith, and the attackers (...) arid and dull, with both sides often exuding a scent of intellectual dishonesty. (shrink)
Morality exercises a deep and questionable influence on the way we live our lives. The influence is deep both because moral injunctions are embedded in our psyches long before we can reflect on their status and because even after we become reflective agents, the question of how we should live our lives among others is intimately bound up with the more general question of how we should live our lives: our stance toward morality and our conception of our lives as (...) having significance are of a piece. The influence is questionable because morality pretends to a level of objectivity that it may not possess. Moral injunctions are meant to be binding on us in some way that is independent of the desires or preferences we may happen to have. When one asserts that a certain action is morally worthy or shameful one is, prime facie, doing more than merely expressing approval or disapproval or trying to get others to act as instruments of one's own will. If moral assertions were shown, at bottom, to be merely such exhortations, then they would be shown to wear a disguise. Morality would be revealed as pretending to an objectivity it does not have, and such a revelation could not but have a profound impact on our lives. It is doubtful that such a revelation could be kept locked up inside our studies. (shrink)
‘‘Thus I believe that there is no part of matter which is not—I do not say divisible—but actually divided; and consequently the least particle ought to be considered as a world full of an infinity of different creatures.’’ (Leibniz, letter to Foucher).
Causation is widely assumed to be a binary relation: c causes e. I will argue that causation is a quaternary, contrastive relation: c rather than C* causes e rather than E*, where C* and E* are nonempty sets of contrast events. Or at least, I will argue that treating causation as contrastive helps resolve some paradoxes.
I argue that the one and only truthmaker is the world. This view can be seen as arisingfrom (i) the view that truthmaking is a relation of grounding holding between true propositions and fundamental entities, together with (ii) the view that the world is the one and only fundamental entity. I argue that this view provides an elegant and economical account of the truthmakers, while solving the problem of negative existentials, in a way that proves ontologically revealing.
Recent experimental philosophy arguments have raised trouble for philosophers' reliance on armchair intuitions. One popular line of response has been the expertise defense: philosophers are highly-trained experts, whereas the subjects in the experimental philosophy studies have generally been ordinary undergraduates, and so there's no reason to think philosophers will make the same mistakes. But this deploys a substantive empirical claim, that philosophers' training indeed inculcates sufficient protection from such mistakes. We canvass the psychological literature on expertise, which indicates that people (...) are not generally very good at reckoning who will develop expertise under what circumstances. We consider three promising hypotheses concerning what philosophical expertise might consist in: (i) better conceptual schemata; (ii) mastery of entrenched theories; and (iii) general practical know-how with the entertaining of hypotheticals. On inspection, none seem to provide us with good reason to endorse this key empirical premise of the expertise defense. (shrink)
Suppose that Ann says, “Keith knows that the bank will be open tomorrow.” Her audience may well agree. Her knowledge ascription may seem true. But now suppose that Ben—in a different context—also says “Keith knows that the bank will be open tomorrow.” His audience may well disagree. His knowledge ascription may seem false. Indeed, a number of philosophers have claimed that people’s intuitions about knowledge ascriptions are context sensitive, in the sense that the very same knowledge ascription can seem true (...) in one conversational context but false in another. This purported fact about people’s intuitions serves as one of the main pieces of evidence for epistemic contextualism. (shrink)