John Dewey points out in A Common Faith (1934) that what stands in the way of religious belief for many is the apparent commitment of Western religious traditions to supernatural phenomena and questionable historical claims. We are to accept claims that in any other context we would find laughable. Are we to believe that water can be turned into wine without the benefit of the fermentation process? Are we to swallow the claim that there is such a phenomenon as the (...) spontaneous conception of a child without the intervention of the traditional technique? Were we to confront these claims in any but a religious context, we would dismiss them as the workings of an overactive imagination or simple cover for an overactive sex life. But for the devout believer, there is no doubt even with a paucity of evidence. At the same time, the rise of science has forcibly suggested the idea that the natural world is self-contained and, if explainable, that explanation will come from within. There seems to be no room for the traditional God and, much as one might wish otherwise, nothing for him to do. Perhaps... (shrink)
Expressivism is the view that in making particular statements, a speaker is not stating a fact but expressing the speaker's state of mind. So moral expressivists hold that with what we would call ethical statements, we are not committing to ethical facts but are giving voice to our states of mind. This view is appealing to naturalists of certain stripes, since entities such as moral facts no longer have to be part of the semantics of moral language. However, the view (...) has costs, particularly in that it makes disagreement hard to distinguish from a mere clash of preference. Here, we argue that James's program for moral philosophy presented in "The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life" can accommodate the... (shrink)
In the light of this attention, it is surprising that we are unable to find a single writer who has noted an obvious contradiction between the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding on the subject of belief. In the Treatise Hume explicitly proposes a definition of belief. He says.
We offer a reading of Anselm's Ontological Argument inspired by Wittgenstein which focuses on the fact that the “argument” occurs in a prayer addressed to God, making it a strange argument since as a prayer it seems to presuppose its conclusion. We reconstruct the argument as expressive. Within the religious perspective, the issues are to be focused on the right object not to present an argument for the existence of God. While this sort of reading lets us understand much about (...) the argument, it also opens new avenues of criticism, one of which is the problem of worship. (shrink)
Epiphenomenalism consists of three claims: mental events are irreducibly distinct from physical events; each mental event is dependent both for its existence and for its properties on physical events; no mental event exerts any causal influence either on other mental events or on physical events. The first claim identifies epiphenomenalism as a dualistic theory, which is a source of both strength and weakness. The second and third claims taken together assert the complete dependence of the mental on the physical and (...) thus amount to commitment to the autonomy of physical operations. The mental, while conceded an ontologically irreducible status, is said to be causally impotent. The physical is identified as its indispensable causal ground. At the same time, whatever occurs within the human body is asserted to be fully explicable by reference to antecedent physical events and the laws that relate them. It is his commitment to the autonomy of the physical that allows the epiphenomenalist to welcome the findings of modern science. At the same time, this autonomy of the physical and the consequent potential adequacy of science to physical fact are not thought to compel surrender of a dualist ontology. (shrink)
"The aim... is to show what implications Wittgenstein's approach has in moral philosophy and in so doing to cast light on that subject-matter itself". While this carefully crafted and well-reasoned book develops ideas in an area that the later Wittgenstein did not discuss in a sustained way, Johnston also sheds light on several of Wittgenstein's remarks including the "Lecture on Ethics," passages from Culture and Value, and "Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough." The author is interested in Wittgenstein's thought in not (...) merely a scholarly way but because he thinks it offers the best account of the matters at hand. He tries to justify this assessment by criticizing a number of contemporary thinkers including Mackie, MacIntyre, Davidson, and Blackburn. (shrink)
This book presents an interestingly different approach to the interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Instead of an account focused on the text of the later writings, Suter has chosen to organize his book by reference to certain central philosophical problems and Wittgenstein's actual or constructed treatment of them. Thus, after an opening section dealing with Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy, we are treated to an extended examination of the mind/ body problem which not only develops Wittgenstein's own ideas but also shows (...) how Wittgenstein would deal with various forms of the identity theory, behaviorism, and classical dualism. This section is followed by several chapters that develop Wittgenstein's ideas--in less detail--in relation to Augustine's philosophy of time, the Dream Argument, Russell on proper names, and Kripke's infamous discussion of rule-following. Along the way, Suter makes a number of telling points against various other interpreters and, among other things, offers his own extended analysis of the notion of criteria. This approach, which is meant to let the reader see Wittgenstein's ideas at work, presents his views as engaged and philosophically current and for that reason is a very interesting introduction to Wittgenstein's later thought. (shrink)
Aristotle's distinction between the practical life and the contemplative life has been of central importance in fixing the sort of justification that is required for engineering activity. As practical it must be justified by its products, while intellect's activity claims intrinsic worth. Most philosophers of technology accept this model of justification. However, engineering is not essentially practical in the relevant sense. To claim that it is overlooks a distinction between "structuring ends" and "products" which when made allows engineering to lay (...) claim to the same sort of value as intellectual activity. The final conclusion is that both have intrinsic worth but that does not free either from the obligation to look to their consequences. (shrink)
The purpose of this book is to show how Wittgenstein's work, early and late, is relevant to aesthetics and to show how art provides "an experience not to be obtained by any other activity: it shows the meaning of life". The book is interesting because it relates the early and later Wittgenstein to a topic not typically treated by Wittgenstein scholars--art and the aesthetic--and because it tries to reinterpret some of the Tractatus in light of the Philosophical Investigations without losing (...) a kernel of truth in the early work. (shrink)
Thinking in the Ruins will enhance our understanding of the intellectual accomplishments of monumental thinkers Ludwig Wittgenstein and George Santayana, showing how each influenced subsequent American philosophers. The book also serves as a call to philosophers to look beyond traditional classifications to the substance of philosophical thought.