This article takes up Peter Winch’s remarks concerning ‘the “fragility” of the conditions under which ethical conceptions can be active in social life’. It explores Winch’s discussion of political concepts and his account of the nature of politics. There are two related themes: a concern with the nature of political concepts; and a recognition (a reminder?) of the way in which disagreement belongs to our idea of politics.
Stuart Hampshire's political thought is an important but often overlooked contribution to contemporary debates concerning the nature and permanence of plural and conflicting values. In its combination of a pessimistic view of the limits of politics with a deep respect for pluralism and disagreement Hampshire's thought can be regarded as a significant version of 'the Liberalism of fear'. This is grounded in a belief that the inherited innocence of moral and political thinking has been undermined by our experience of the (...) horrors of the twentieth century. Hampshire's response is to propose a minimal form of proceduralism that contrasts with Rawls's political liberalism. Hampshire offers a criticism of the moralism that characterizes much modern political philosophy without advocating a stark realism. (shrink)
Political theory has been described as an `enterprise of discovery' that carries within it the danger of utopianism. This article explores one aspect of that danger: the question of the paradoxical or circular nature of much political thinking. This seems to be both a necessary and an impossible feature of such theorizing. Political theory itself seems to require an idea of utopia that is, by definition, impossible to achieve.
In an oft-quoted passage from The Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham addresses the issue of our treatment of animals with the following words: ‘the question is not, Can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ The point is well taken, for surely if animals suffer, they are legitimate objects of our moral concern. It is curious therefore, given the current interest in the moral status of animals, that Bentham's question has been assumed to be merely (...) rhetorical. No-one has seriously examined the claim, central to arguments for animal liberation and animal rights, that animals actually feel pain. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is perhaps typical in this regard. His treatment of the issue covers a scant seven pages, after which he summarily announces that ‘there are no good reasons, scientific or philosophical, for denying that animals feel pain’. In this paper I shall suggest that the issue of animal pain is not so easily dispensed with, and that the evidence brought forward to demonstrate that animals feel pain is far from conclusive. (shrink)
Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) [‘Abailard’ or ‘Abaelard’ or ‘Habalaarz’ and so on] was the pre-eminent philosopher and theologian of the twelfth century. The teacher of his generation, he was also famous as a poet and a musician. Prior to the recovery of Aristotle, he brought the native Latin tradition in philosophy to its highest pitch. His genius was evident in all he did. He is, arguably, the greatest logician of the Middle Ages and is equally famous (...) as the first great nominalist philosopher. He championed the use of reason in matters of faith (he was the first to use ‘theology’ in its modern sense), and his systematic treatment of religious doctrines are as remarkable for their philosophical penetration and subtlety as they are for their audacity. Abelard seemed larger than life to his contemporaries: his quick wit, sharp tongue, perfect memory, and boundless arrogance made him unbeatable in debate — he was said by supporter and detractor alike never to have lost an argument — and the force of his personality impressed itself vividly on all with whom he came into contact. His luckless affair with Héloïse made him a tragic figure of romance, and his conflict with Bernard of Clairvaux over reason and religion made him the hero of the Enlightenment. For all his colourful life, though, his philosophical achievements are the cornerstone of his fame. (shrink)
Histories of philosophy frequently depict the later eleventh century as the scene of a series of bouts between dialecticians and anti-dialecticians — Berengar vs. Lanfranc, Roscelin vs. Anselm — preliminaries to the twelfth century welterweight contest between Abelard and St. Bernard and — dare one say? — the thirteenth century heavy-weight championship between St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure.The bouts took place — no question about that — but whether the contestants can properly be characterized as dialecticians and anti-dialecticians is less (...) certain. Dialectics is logic, the third part of the trivium, and increasingly cultivated in the eleventh century; men like Berengar and Roscelin were plainly eager to apply the logical tools with which they had been equipped to the solution of intellectual problems. In particular they undertook the solution of certain central problems of theology — Berengar that of the Eucharist and Roscelin that of the Trinity — and it was this, we are told, that aroused the ire of the anti-dialecticians: if the aim of the dialecticians was to lay bare the mysteries of faith to the light of reason that of the anti-dialecticians was to protect those same mysteries from profanation. (shrink)
Peter Singer is probably the best-known and most controversial ethicist in the world today. He rigorously applies utilitarian moral theory to issues such as world poverty, the environment, abortion, euthanasia and, most famously, animal welfare. He has also written a book about his grandfather, David Oppenheim, who died in Theresienstadt concentration camp. He is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.
Objectivity in historical perspective Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 11-39 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9597-2 Authors Peter Dear, Department of History, Cornell University, 435 McGraw Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA Ian Hacking, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, 170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5R 2M8, Canada Matthew L. Jones, Department of History, Columbia University, 514 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027, USA Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, (...) Germany Peter Galison, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, Science Center 371, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 1. (shrink)
Alan C. LoveDarwinian calisthenicsAn athlete engages in calisthenics as part of basic training and as a preliminary to more advanced or intense activity. Whether it is stretching, lunges, crunches, or push-ups, routine calisthenics provide a baseline of strength and flexibility that prevent a variety of injuries that might otherwise be incurred. Peter Bowler has spent 40 years doing Darwinian calisthenics, researching and writing on the development of evolutionary ideas with special attention to Darwin and subsequent filiations among scientists exploring (...) evolution . Therefore, we would expect that when Bowler engages in a counterfactual history—imagining a world without Darwin—he is able to avoid historical injury and generate novel insights. My assessment is that the results are mixed. Before we can see why, it is necessary to walk briskly through the main contours of his argument.Bowler begins with an apologia for a counterfactual appr .. (shrink)
The doyen of living English philosophers, by these reflections, took hold of and changed the outlook of a good many other philosophers, if not quite enough. He did so, essentially, by assuming that talk of freedom and responsibility is talk not of facts or truths, in a certain sense, but of our attitudes. His more explicit concern was to look again at the question of whether determinism and freedom are consistent with one another -- by shifting attention to certain personal (...) rather than moral attitudes, first of all gratitude and resentment. In the end, he arrived at a kind of Compatibilist or, as he says, Optimist conclusion. That is no doubt a recommendation but not the largest recommendation of this splendidly rich piece of philosophy. (shrink)
You don't say much about who you are teaching, or what subject you teach, but you do seem to see a need to justify what you are doing. Perhaps you're teaching underprivileged children, opening their minds to possibilities that might otherwise never have occurred to them. Or maybe you're teaching the children of affluent families and opening their eyes to the big moral issues they will face in life — like global poverty, and climate change. If you're doing something like (...) this, then stick with it. Giving money isn't the only way to make a difference. (shrink)
Written by eminent philosophers from Britain, Europe, America, and Australia, the essays of this collection are a tribute to Peter Winch, whose work is marked by his deep appreciation of the most fundamental aspect of Wittgenstein's legacy: that we cannot detach our concepts from their roots in human life. The voices in this volume unite in different tones of sympathy and criticism by discussing the theme of human conditioning: the human conditioning of what we can find intelligible, possible and (...) impossible, and the suspicion of an illusory transcendence. (shrink)
Although the relationship of part to whole is one of the most fundamental there is, this is the first full-length study of this key concept. Showing that mereology, or the formal theory of part and whole, is essential to ontology, Simons surveys and critiques previous theories--especially the standard extensional view--and proposes a new account that encompasses both temporal and modal considerations. Simons's revised theory not only allows him to offer fresh solutions to long-standing problems, but also has far-reaching consequences for (...) our understanding of a host of classical philosophical concepts. (shrink)