The profession of medicine has developed codes of ethical conduct for thousands of years. From the Hippocratic Oath of ancient Greece onward to modern times, a universal and central element of such codes has expressed the imperative that a physician shall “Do no harm.”.
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
Marcus argues that moral dilemmas are real, but that they are not the result of inconsistent moral principles. Moral principles are consistent just in case there is some world where all principles are 'obeyable.' They are inconsistent just in case there is no world where all are 'obeyable.' What this logical point is meant to show is that moral dilemmas do not make moral codes inconsistent. She also discusses guilt, and argues that guilt is still appropriate even in cases (...) of conflict, even when the agent thinks the right thing to do is clear. (shrink)
This book challenges the conventional wisdom that improving democratic politics requires keeping emotion out of it. Marcus advances the provocative claim that the tradition in democratic theory of treating emotion and reason as hostile opposites is misguided and leads contemporary theorists to misdiagnose the current state of American democracy. Instead of viewing the presence of emotion in politics as a failure of rationality and therefore as a failure of citizenship, Marcus argues, democratic theorists need to understand that emotions (...) are in fact a prerequisite for the exercise of reason and thus essential for rational democratic deliberation and political judgment. Attempts to purge emotion from public life not only are destined to fail, but ultimately would rob democracies of a key source of revitalization and change. Drawing on recent research in neuroscience, Marcus shows how emotion functions generally and what role it plays in politics. In contrast to the traditional view of emotion as a form of agitation associated with belief, neuroscience reveals it to be generated by brain systems that operate largely outside of awareness. Two of these systems, "disposition" and "surveillance," are especially important in enabling emotions to produce habits, which often serve a positive function in democratic societies. But anxiety, also a preconscious emotion, is crucial to democratic politics as well because it can inhibit or disable habits and thus clear a space for the conscious use of reason and deliberation. If we acknowledge how emotion facilitates reason and is "cooperatively entangled" with it, Marcus concludes, then we should recognize sentimental citizens as the only citizens really capable of exercising political judgment and of putting their decisions into action. (shrink)
Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch (...) on consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
The following is a transcript of a discussion about the question between Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, and James Conant. The discussion was part of a series of discussions on more or less philosophical subjects broadcast on Chicago Public Radio. This discussion is anchored by Gretchen Helfrich. Two listeners (Chris and Edwin) also took part.
Based on her earlier ground-breaking axiomatization of quantified modal logic, the papers collected here by the distinguished philosopher Ruth Barcan Marcus cover much ground in the development of her thought, spanning from 1961 to 1990. The first essay here introduces themes initially viewed as iconoclastic, such as the necessity of identity, the directly referential role of proper names as "tags", the Barcan Formula about the interplay of possibility and existence, and alternative interpretations of quantification. Marcus also addresses the (...) putative puzzles about substitutivity and about essentialism. The collection also includes influential essays on moral conflict, on belief and rationality, and on some historical figures. Many of her views have been incorporated into current theories, while others remain part of a continuing debate. (shrink)
Gerald Bruns’s “Stanley Cavell’s Shakespeare” is a consistently sympathetic and thoughtful response to Cavell’s difficult essays on Shakespeare.1 Nevertheless, while Bruns’s exposition of Cavell’s thought places it in a pertinently complex region of philosophical and literary concerns, it is hampered by its relative isolation from much of Cavell’s other work and from certain abiding conflicts within contemporary philosophy which inform that work. The resultant misunderstandings of Cavell’s thought are perhaps as inevitable as they are widespread—a function of the way in (...) which the modern American university carves up and compartmentalizes the world of humanistic learning—and are on the verge of becoming entrenched among commentators on his work. Much of Cavell’s work has been concerned to resist some of the costs of this process of compartmentalization or professionalization. The problems this resistance poses for the reception of the work are perhaps nowhere more pervasive than in the case of Cavell’s collection of essays on Shakespeare, Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare, in part because of Cavell’s sense of the figure of Shakespeare, of what this corpus of writing represents. In light of, and in appreciation of, Bruns’s serious and resourceful effort to get Cavell’s thought on these matters straight, it is worth trying to get it clearer. James Conant, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, is currently a fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows. His “Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and Nonsense” is included in Pursuits of Reason: Essays in Honor of Stanley Cavell. (shrink)
Laura Marcus is one of the leading literary critics of modernist literature and culture. Dreams of Modernity: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Cinema covers the period from around 1880 to 1930, when modernity as a form of social and cultural life fed into the beginnings of modernism as a cultural form. Railways, cinema, psychoanalysis and the literature of detection - and their impact on modern sensibility - are four of the chief subjects explored. Marcus also stresses the creativity of modernist women (...) writers, including H. D., Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf. The overriding themes of this work bear on the understanding of the early twentieth century as a transitional age, thus raising the question of how 'the moderns' understood the conditions of their own modernity. (shrink)
Originally published in 1984, this book broke new ground in assessing Freud as both an exemplary late-Victorian and as a pivotal figure in the creation of modern thought and culture. In his close reading of various of Freud’s theoretical and clinical texts, including two of the most famous case histories, Steven Marcus uncovers the steps in the development of Freud’s thought, the dynamics and contradictions and ‘the intellectual and emotional urgings, forces and conflicts that were at work… as the (...) first original insights and discoveries that constituted the inception of psychoanalysis as a theory, discipline of inquiry, and new kind of therapy, came suddenly, often unexpectedly and without being bidden, upon Freud’. Central to Professor Marcus’ inquiry is the relationship of Freud’s work to cultural change and to the very process of disclosure, formation and construction in the transition to modernity. Freud’s writings, and the psychoanalytic discipline of which they are the foundations, are placed in the context of their contribution to modern modes of thought, and of their influence on our notions of the centres of significance of each existence as a whole. Freud and the Culture of Psychoanalysis is a major contribution to our understanding of how ideas and theories become internalized into the intellectual framework of our lives and affect the way we think about the world. By moving backward and forward from pre-Freudian to post-Freudian thinkers, Professor Marcus takes us on a journey through cultural transition that is also an exploration of how the individual interacts with his own moment in history to forge new modes of consciousness. (shrink)
Wittgenstein gives voice to an aspiration that is central to his later philosophy, well before he becomes later Wittgenstein, when he writes in §4.112 of the Tractatus that philosophy is not a matter of putting forward a doctrine or a theory, but consists rather in the practice of an activity – an activity he goes on to characterize as one of elucidation or clarification – an activity which he says does not result in philosophische Sätze, in propositions of philosophy, but (...) rather in das Klarwerden von Sätzen, in our attaining clarity in our relation to the sentences of our language that we call upon to express our thoughts.1 To say that early Wittgenstein already aspired to such a conception of philosophy is not to gainsay that to aspire to practice philosophy in such a manner and to succeed in doing so are not the same thing. It is therefore not to deny that, by Wittgenstein’s later lights, the Tractatus is to be judged a work that is marked by forms of failure tied to its having failed fully to live up to such an aspiration. But if it is thus to be judged, then it is to some degree a failure even by Wittgenstein’s own earlier lights. This means that if one wants to understand the fundamental turn in Wittgenstein’s thinking as he moves from his earlier to his later philosophy, and why it is that he wanted the Tractatus to be published and read together with Philosophical Investigations, one needs to understand what sort of failure this is – and that requires coming to terms with the Tractatus’s own understanding of what sort of work it was trying to be. We think that readers of the Tractatus – be they admirers or detractors of Wittgenstein – have, on the whole, failed to do this. (shrink)
I argue that zombies are inconceivable. More precisely, I argue that the conceivability-intuition that is used to demonstrate their possibility has been misconstrued. Thought experiments alleged to feature zombies founder on the fact that, on the one hand, they _must_ involve first-person imagining, and yet, on the other hand, _cannot_. Philosophers who take themselves to have imagined zombies have unwittingly conflated imagining a creature who lacks consciousness with imagining a creature without also imagining the consciousness it may or may not (...) possess. (shrink)
If a woman in the audience at a presentation raises her hand, we would take this as evidence that she intends to ask a question. In normal circumstances, we would be right to say that she raises her hand because she intends to ask a question. We also expect that there could, in principle, be a causal explanation of her hand’s rising in purely physiological terms. Ordinarily, we take the existence and compatibility of both kinds of causes for granted. But (...) this can come to seem strange. When we imagine tracking the physiological process that culminates in her hand’s rising, it is hard to find a purchase for her intention. The physiological process seems not to need assistance from her intention in order to get where it’s going, chugging along as it does according to principles that appear to have very little in common with ordinary psychological ones. The presumed self-sufficiency of physiological processes can, in a similar fashion, appear to muscle psychological states quite generally out of the causal picture. (shrink)
Wittgenstein is usually taken to have held that the use of a term is not mentally constrained. That is utterly wrong. A use of language unconstrained by meaning is attributed by him to "meaning-blind" or "aspect-blind" creatures, not to us. We observe meaning when an aspect dawns on us; meaning is the impression (Eindruck) of a term as fitting something; hence, unlike pain, it cannot stand alone. That is a mentalistic theory of meaning: use is determined by images (Vorstellungen) that (...) play semantic roles in virtue of their aesthetic properties. Although a term may be arbitrarily interpreted, aesthetic reasons determine which interpretation be seen as right for it. (shrink)
Introduction -- Rational explanation of belief -- Rational explanation of action -- (Non-human) animals and their reasons -- Rational explanation and rational causation -- Events and states -- Physicalism.
In recent decades, a view of identity I call Sortalism has gained popularity. According to this view, if a is identical to b, then there is some sortal S such that a is the same S as b. Sortalism has typically been discussed with respect to the identity of objects. I argue that the motivations for Sortalism about object-identity apply equally well to event-identity. But Sortalism about event-identity poses a serious threat to the view that mental events are token identical (...) to physical events: A particular mental event m is identical with a particular physical event p only if there is a sortal S such that m and p are both Ss. If there is no such sortal, the doctrine of token-identity is not true. I argue here that we have no good reason for thinking that there is any such sortal. (shrink)
Abstract: It is generally accepted that the most serious threat to the possibility of mental causation is posed by the causal self-sufficiency of physical causal processes. I argue, however, that this feature of the world, which I articulate in principle I call Completeness, in fact poses no genuine threat to mental causation. Some find Completeness threatening to mental causation because they confuse it with a stronger principle, which I call Closure. Others do not simply conflate Completeness and Closure, but (...) hold that Completeness, together with certain plausible assumptions, _entails_ Closure. I refute the most fully worked-out version of such an argument. Finally, some find Completeness all by itself threatening to mental causation. I argue that one will only find Completeness threatening if one operates with a philosophically distorted conception of mental causation. I thereby defend what I call naïve realism about mental causation. (shrink)
There has been much written in recent years about whether a pair of subjects could have visual experiences that represented the colors of objects in their environment in precisely the same way, despite differing significantly in what it was like to undergo them, differing that is, in their qualitative character. The possibility of spectrum inversion has been so much debated1 in large part because of the threat that it would pose to the more general doctrine of Intentionalism, according to which (...) the representational content of an experience fixes what it. (shrink)
The access problem for mathematics arises from the supposition that the referents of mathematical terms inhabit a realm separate from us. Quine’s approach in the philosophy of mathematics dissolves the access problem, though his solution sometimes goes unrecognized, even by those who rely on his framework. This paper highlights both Quine’s position and its neglect. I argue that Michael Resnik’s structuralist, for example, has no access problem for the so-called mathematical objects he posits, despite recent criticism, since he relies on (...) an indispensability argument. Still, Resnik’s structuralist does not provide an account of our access to traditional mathematical objects, and this may be seen as a problem. (shrink)
Alternative readings of quantification are considered. The absence of an unequivocal translation into ordinary speech is noted. Some examples are cited which, in the opinion of the author, are a result of equivocal readings of quantification, or unnecessarily restrictive readings which obscure its primary function.
Although regular polysemy [e.g. producer for product (John read Dickens) or container for contents (John drank the bottle)] has been extensively studied, there has been little work on why certain polysemy patterns are more acceptable than others. We take an empirical approach to the question, in particular evaluating an account based on rules against a gradient account of polysemy that is based on various radical pragmatic theories (Fauconnier 1985; Nunberg 1995). Under the gradient approach, possible senses become more acceptable as (...) they become more closely related to a word’s default meaning, and the apparent regularity of polysemy is an artefact of having many similarly structured concepts. Using methods for measuring conceptual structure drawn from cognitive psychology, Study 1 demonstrates that a variety of metrics along which possible senses can be related to a default meaning, including conceptual centrality, cue validity and similarity, are surprisingly poor predictors of whether shifts to those senses are acceptable. Instead, sense acceptability was better explained by rule-based approaches to polysemy (e.g. Copestake & Briscoe 1995). Study 2 replicated this finding using novel word meanings in which the relatedness of possible senses was varied. However, while individual word senses were better predicted by polysemy rules than conceptual metrics, our data suggested that rules (like producer for product) had themselves arisen to mark senses that, aggregated over many similar words, were particularly closely related. (shrink)
Why worry about Wittgenstein’s Tractatus? Did not Wittgenstein himself come to think it was largely a mistaken work? Is not Wittgenstein’s important work his later work? And does not his later work consist in a rejection of his earlier views? So does not the interest of the Tractatus mostly lie in its capacity to furnish a particularly vivid exemplar of the sort of philosophy that the mature Wittgenstein was most concerned to reject? So is it not true that the only (...) real reason to worry about the Tractatus is to become clear about what sort of thing it was that the later Wittgenstein was most against in philosophy? Is the interest of the book therefore not largely exhausted by its capacity to show us what the later Wittgenstein did not think? Much of the secondary literature on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, either implicitly or explicitly, answers these questions largely in the affirmative. The aim of this paper is to suggest that the manner in which it has done so has done much to obstruct the possibility of an understanding of Wittgenstein’s philosophy – both early and late. The aim is not to suggest that these questions should be answered instead in the negative, but rather to furnish a prolegomenon to the possibility of a proper understanding of what – and how much – ought to be affirmed in answering them in the affirmative. As the present volume makes evident, there is currently a debate underway about how to read (and how not to read) Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. This paper will not attempt a direct contribution to that debate,2 it will attempt instead to bring out some of what might be at stake in that debate. It is natural to think that all that ought to be at stake is a fairly parochial question concerning the proper interpretation of Wittgenstein’s work during a single, relatively early phase of his philosophical development. Thus it is natural to conclude that, whatever differences may divide the parties to this debate concerning how to read the Tractatus, nonetheless, au fond these interpreters of Wittgenstein may be in broad agreement about how to read most of the rest of Wittgenstein’s work – or, at least, whatever their disagreements may be about the early work, they are ones that can be independently adjudicated, without substantial cost to anyone’s prior.... (shrink)
This paper comes in three parts. In the first part, I explore the question of the relation between the philosophies of the early and the later Wittgenstein as they are standardly distinguished, with the aim of raising some questions about whether that standard distinction might not obstruct our view of certain significant aspects of the development of Wittgenstein’s thought. In the second part, drawing on the work of Marie McGinn and Warren Goldfarb, I distinguish two senses in which these two (...) commentators have been moved to call upon the expression ‘piecemeal’ in their respective attempts to characterize an important feature of Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical method. In the third part, I draw upon this distinction to help bring into focus a significant shift in Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical method which occurs fully within the so-called “later” period—a shift which has in no small part remained invisible due to the manner in which the opposition between an early and a later Wittgenstein has hitherto been conceived. (shrink)
Rogers & McClelland's (R&M's) précis represents an important effort to address key issues in concepts and categorization, but few of the simulations deliver what is promised. We argue that the models are seriously underconstrained, importantly incomplete, and psychologically implausible; more broadly, R&M dwell too heavily on the apparent successes without comparable concern for limitations already noted in the literature.
The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. After the abandonment of typeidentity theories, however, this thesis has typically been framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical state tokens thus rest on a mistake.
The document before you is by a member of a fanatical sect of heretical Ludwig scholars. Through a twist of fate it has fallen into my hands. I hesitate to make it public, since its circulation may do more harm than good. What speaks against publication is that it has the power to corrupt young minds. I do not take a light view of the dangers it poses in this regard. What speaks in favor of publication is the fact that (...) these people must be stopped. Through their pamphlets and brochures they continue to attract more converts everyday. The importance of this document lies in the fact that it brings to light some of the more esoteric doctrines of the sect, revealing the vulnerable theological underbelly of their creed. It also speaks of quar- relling within the inﬁdel camp. There are even suggestions that the author fears that he himself may be excommunicated by an up-and-coming generation of zealots. He pleads here for a mild interpretation of their creed. (Oblivious to the stench of his own blasphemies, he even imagines entering into dialogue with mainstream Ludwig scholars!) My main aim in making this text generally available is that more learned men than I may make a study of it. A sound theological thrashing of the author’s own (according to him, mild!) version of the creed is devoutly to be wished. But my fondest hope is that, in the hands of one of our ﬁner Ludwig scholars, it might become a weapon that can be turned against the inﬁdel camp. I have a Trojan horse maneuver in mind here. A cunningly crafted pseudonymous publication, addressing some of the niceties of their more peculiar doctrines, under the pretence of attempting to heal the looming schism in their sect, ought to be able to bust it wide open. One particularly confusing feature of the document is that the author occasionally adopts a heavily ironical tone, actually going so far as to refer to himself as an inﬁdel, etc., though without apparently the least appreciation of the fact that the heavier he allows his irony to become, the closer he comes ﬁnally to speaking the truth.. (shrink)