Members of the field of philosophy have, just as other people, political convictions or, as psychologists call them, ideologies. How are different ideologies distributed and perceived in the field? Using the familiar distinction between the political left and right, we surveyed an international sample of 794 subjects in philosophy. We found that survey participants clearly leaned left (75%), while right-leaning individuals (14%) and moderates (11%) were underrepresented. Moreover, and strikingly, across the political spectrum, from very left-leaning individuals and moderates to (...) very right-leaning individuals, participants reported experiencing ideological hostility in the field, occasionally even from those from their own side of the political spectrum. Finally, while about half of the subjects believed that discrimination against left- or right-leaning individuals in the field is not justified, a significant minority displayed an explicit willingness to discriminate against colleagues with the opposite ideology. Our findings are both surprising and important, because a commitment to tolerance and equality is widespread in philosophy, and there is reason to think that ideological similarity, hostility, and discrimination undermine reliable belief formation in many areas of the discipline. (shrink)
The nature of the information content of declarative sentences is a central topic in the philosophy of language. The natural view that a sentence like "John loves Mary" contains information in which two individuals occur as constituents is termed the naive theory, and is one that has been abandoned by most contemporary scholars. This theory was refuted originally by philosopher Gottlob Frege. His argument that the naive theory did not work is termed Frege's puzzle, and his rival account of information (...) content is termed the orthodox theory. In this detailed study, Nathan Salmon defends a version of the naive theory and presents a proposal for its extension that provides a better picture of information content than the orthodox theory gives. He argues that a great deal of what has generally been taken for granted in the philosophy of language over the past few decades is either mistaken or unsupported, and consequently, much current research is focused on the wrong set of questions. Salmon dissolves Frege's puzzle as it is usually formulated and demonstrates how it can be reconstructed and strengthened to yield a more powerful objection to the naive theory. He then defends the naive theory against the new Frege puzzle by presenting an idea that yields both a surprisingly rich and powerful extension of the naive theory and a better picture of information content than that of the original orthodox theory. Nathan Salmon is Professor of Philosophy, University of California at Santa Barbara. A Bradford Book. (shrink)
Nathan Salmon presents a selection of nineteen of his essays from the early 1980s to 2006, on a set of closely connected topics central to analytic philosophy. The book is divided into four thematic sections, on direct reference, apriority, belief, and the distinction between semantics and pragmatics.
Recent philosophical debates have moved beyond proclamations of the “death of philosophy” and the “death of the subject” to consider more positively how philosophy can be practiced and the human self can be conceptualized today. Inspired by the writings of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze, rapid changes related to globalization, and advances in evolutionary biology and neuroscience, these debates have generated a renewed focus on time as an active force of change and novelty. Rejecting simple linear models of time, these strands (...) of thought have provided creative alternatives to a traditional reliance on fixed boundaries and stable identities that has proven unable to grapple with the intense speeds and complexities of contemporary life. In this book, Nathan Widder contributes to these debates, but also goes significantly beyond them. Holding that current writings remain too focused on time’s movement, he examines more fundamentally time’s structure and its structural ungrounding, releasing time completely from its traditional subordination to movement and space. Doing this enables him to reformulate entirely the terms through which time and change are understood, leading to a radical alteration of our understandings of power, resistance, language, and the unconscious, and taking post-identity political philosophy and ethics in a new direction. Eighteen independent but interlinked reflections engage with ancient philosophy, mathematical theory, dialectics, psychoanalysis, archaeology, and genealogy. The book’s broad coverage and novel rereadings of key figures—including Aristotle, Bergson, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Deleuze—make this a unique rethinking of the nature of pluralism, multiplicity, and politics. (shrink)
Arguments are nowadays often presented as soundbites: as slogans, tweets, memes and even gifs. Arguments developed in detail often meet the response TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). This is unfortunate—especially when tackling the topic of abortion. Soundbites make many pro-life arguments seem stronger than they really are, while the complexities of pro-choice arguments can’t be readily reduced to soundbites.
Economists have long treated technological phenomena as events transpiring inside a black box and, on the whole, have adhered rather strictly to a self-imposed ordinance not to inquire too seriously into what transpires inside that box. The purpose of Professor Rosenberg's work is to break open and examine the contents of the black box. In so doing, a number of important economic problems be powerfully illuminated. The author clearly shows how specific features of individual technologies have shaped a number of (...) variables of great concern to economists: the rate of productivity improvement, the nature of learning processes underlying technological change itself, the speed of technology transfer, and the effectiveness of government policies that are intended to influence technologies in particular ways. The separate chapters of this book reflect a primary concern with some of the distinctive aspects of industrial technologies in the twentieth century, such as the increasing reliance upon science, but also the considerable subtlety and complexity of the dialectic between science and technology. Other concerns include the rapid growth in the development of costs associated with new technologies as well as the difficulty of predicting the eventual performance characteristics of newly emerging technologies. (shrink)
Epistemic trespassers judge matters outside their field of expertise. Trespassing is ubiquitous in this age of interdisciplinary research and recognizing this will require us to be more intellectually modest.
Changing our minds isn't easy. Even when we recognize our views are disputed by intelligent and informed people, we rarely doubt our rightness. Why is this so? How can we become more open-minded, putting ourselves in a better position to tolerate conflict, advance collective inquiry, and learn from differing perspectives in a complex world? -/- Nathan Ballantyne defends the indispensable role of epistemology in tackling these issues. For early modern philosophers, the point of reflecting on inquiry was to understand (...) how our beliefs are often distorted by prejudice and self-interest, and to improve the foundations of human knowledge. Ballantyne seeks to recover and modernize this classical tradition by vigorously defending an interdisciplinary approach to epistemology, blending philosophical theorizing with insights from the social and cognitive sciences. -/- Many of us need tools to help us think more circumspectly about our controversial views. Ballantyne develops a method for distinguishing between our reasonable and unreasonable opinions, in light of evidence about bias, information overload, and rival experts. This method guides us to greater intellectual openness--in the spirit of skeptics from Socrates to Montaigne to Bertrand Russell--making us more inclined to admit that sometimes we don't have the right answers. With vibrant prose and fascinating examples from science and history, Ballantyne shows how epistemology can help us know our limits. (shrink)
Some people have supposed that utility is good in itself, non-in-strumentally good, as distinct from good because conducive to other good things. And in modern versions of this view, utility often means want-satisfaction, as distinct from pleasure or happiness. For your want that p to be satisfied, is it necessary that you know or believe that p, or sufficient merely that p is true? However that question is answered, there are problems with the view that want-satisfaction is a non-instrumental good. (...) What if you want something only because you have a false belief? What if the time at which you want that p is fifty or five hundred years before the time to which p itself refers? To meet these difficulties, qualifications have to be introduced, and much has been written about how exactly these qualifications are to be framed.1 There is however what may be a rather more serious objection to the view that want-satisfaction is a non-instrumental good, or rather to the combination of that view with the principle that it is sufficient for your want that p to be satisfied simply that p is true. The objection is that this combination forces you to give undue weight to the mere acquisition of desires when you come to make judgements about changes in the value of things. It forces you to say that for any true proposition p, which initially you do not want to be true, your mere acquisition of a desire that p will, other things being equal, make the world better. Non-instrumental value can be increased merely by multiplying desires, even though everything else remains the same. Surely, however, improving the world is not as easy as that. (shrink)
You have a body, but you are a soul or self. Without your body, you could still exist. Your body could be and perhaps is outlasted by the immaterial substance which is your soul or self. Thus the substance dualist. Most substance dualists are Cartesians. The self, they suppose, is essentially conscious: it cannot exist unless it thinks or wills or has experiences. In this paper I sketch out a different form of substance dualism. I suggest that it is not (...) consciousness but another immaterial feature which is essential to the self, a feature in one way analogous to a non-dispositional taste. Each self has moreover a different feature of this general kind. If this is right then simple and straightforward answers are available to some questions which prove troublesome to the Cartesian, consciousness-requiring type of substance dualist. I mean the questions, How can the self exist in dreamless sleep?, What distinguishes two simultaneously existing selves, and What makes a self the same self as a self which exists at some other time? (shrink)
I argue for two principles by combining which we can construct a sound cosmological argument. The first is that for any true proposition p's if ‘there is an explanation for p's truth’ is consistent then there is an explanation for p's truth. The second is a modified version of the principle that for any class, if there is an explanation for the non-emptiness of that class, then there is at least one non-member of that class which causes it not to (...) be empty. (shrink)
This study proposes a model that explains the ethical behavior of automobile salespeople in terms of their ethical perception, legal perception, method of compensation (commission-based or salary-based), age, and education. The model is estimated by using five scenarios that involve ethical issues commonly found in the automobile industry and responses from 184 automobile salespeople in a mid-Atlantic metropolitan area. The findings suggest that ethical perception is the most important determinant of ethical behavior. Also, method of compensation is a major determinant (...) in four of five scenarios, and legal perception in two out of five scenarios. However, age and education are not significantly related to ethical behavior. A discussion of the results, limitations, and implications is presented for managers. (shrink)
Salmon's book is considered by some to be a classic in the philosophy of language movement known variously as the New Theory of Reference or the Direct Reference Theory, as well as in the metaphysics of essentialism that is related to this philosophy of language.
Although a number of articles have addressed ethical perceptions and behaviors, few studies have examined ethics across cultures. This research focuses on measuring the job satisfaction, customer orientation, ethics, and ethical training of automotive salespersons in the U.S. and Taiwan. The relationships of these variables to salesperson performance were also investigated. Ethics training was found to be negatively related to perceived levels of ethicalness and performance. High performance U.S. salespeople reported high ethical behavior, while the opposite was true in Taiwan. (...) Customer orientation in both countries was influenced by ethics training. Managers should evaluate current ethics training programs to insure correct ethical behavior is taught and rewarded. (shrink)
The end of the eighteenth century was a transformational period for the Muslim communities in the Russian Empire and their relationship with the tsarist state. One of the major figures to emerge out of this context was the reformer Abu Nasr Qursawi. A controversial religious scholar, he put forward a sweeping reform of the Islamic scholarly tradition that was influential among these communities into the twentieth century. Nathan Spannaus presents the first detailed analysis of Qursawi's reformism, both in its (...) contours and broad historical setting, addressing issues of modernity, secularity, tradition, and intellectual history. (shrink)
My title is meant to suggest a continuation of the sort of philosophical investigation into the nature of language and modality undertaken in Rudolf Carnap’s Meaning and Necessity and Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. My topic belongs in a class with meaning and naming. It is demonstratives—that is, expressions like ‘that darn cat’ or the pronoun ‘he’ used deictically. A few philosophers deserve particular credit for advancing our understanding of demonstratives and other indexical words. Though Naming and Necessity is concerned (...) with proper names, not demonstratives, it opened wide a window that had remained mostly shut in Meaning and Necessity but that, thanks largely to Kripke, shall forevermore remain unbarred. Understanding of demonstrative semantics grew by a quantum leap in David Kaplan’s remarkable work, especially in his masterpiece “Demonstratives” together with its companion “Afterthoughts.” In contrast to the direct-reference propensities of these two contemporary figures, Gottlob Frege, with his uncompromisingly thoroughgoing intensionalism, shed important light on the workings of demonstratives in “Der Gedanke”—more specifically, in a few brief but insightful remarks from a single paragraph concerning tense and temporal indexicality. (shrink)
This book introduces readers to the many arguments and controversies concerning abortion. While it argues for ethical and legal positions on the issues, it focuses on how to think about the issues, not just what to think about them. It is an ideal resource to improve your understanding of what people think, why they think that and whether their (and your) arguments are good or bad, and why. It's ideal for classroom use, discussion groups, organizational learning, and personal reading. -/- (...) From the Preface -/- To many people, abortion is an issue for which discussions and debates are frustrating and fruitless: it seems like no progress will ever be made towards any understanding, much less resolution or even compromise. -/- Judgments like these, however, are premature because some basic techniques from critical thinking, such as carefully defining words and testing definitions, stating the full structure of arguments so each step of the reasoning can be examined, and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different explanations can help us make progress towards these goals. -/- When emotions run high, we sometimes need to step back and use a passion for calm, cool, critical thinking. This helps us better understand the positions and arguments of people who see things differently from us, as well as our own positions and arguments. And we can use critical thinking skills help to try to figure out which positions are best, in terms of being supported by good arguments: after all, we might have much to learn from other people, sometimes that our own views should change, for the better. -/- Here we use basic critical thinking skills to argue that abortion is typically not morally wrong. We begin with less morally-controversial claims: adults, children and babies are wrong to kill and wrong to kill, fundamentally, because they, we, are conscious, aware and have feelings. We argue that since early fetuses entirely lack these characteristics, they are not inherently wrong to kill and so most abortions are not morally wrong, since most abortions are done early in pregnancy, before consciousness and feeling develop in the fetus. -/- Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body—which she has the right to—and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body. This further justifies abortion, at least, until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal: it is an injustice to criminalizing actions that are not wrong. -/- In the course of arguing for these claims, we: 1. discuss how to best define abortion; 2. dismiss many common “question-begging” arguments that merely assume their conclusions, instead of giving genuine reasons for them; 3. refute some often-heard “everyday arguments” about abortion, on all sides; explain why the most influential philosophical arguments against abortion are unsuccessful; 4. provide some positive arguments that at least early abortions are not wrong; 5. briefly discuss the ethics and legality of later abortions, and more. -/- This essay is not a “how to win an argument” piece or a tract or any kind of apologetics. It is not designed to help anyone “win” debates: everybody “wins” on this issue when we calmly and respectfully engage arguments with care, charity, honesty and humility. This book is merely a reasoned, systematic introduction to the issues that we hope models these skills and virtues. Its discussion should not be taken as absolute “proof” of anything: much more needs to be understood and carefully discussed—always. (shrink)
A central claim of Deleuze's reading of Bergson is that Bergson's distinction between space as an extensive multiplicity and duration as an intensive multiplicity is inspired by the distinction between discrete and continuous manifolds found in Bernhard Riemann's 1854 thesis on the foundations of geometry. Yet there is no evidence from Bergson that Riemann influences his division, and the distinction between the discrete and continuous is hardly a Riemannian invention. Claiming Riemann's influence, however, allows Deleuze to argue that quantity, in (...) the form of ‘virtual number’, still pertains to continuous multiplicities. This not only supports Deleuze's attempt to redeem Bergson's argument against Einstein in Duration and Simultaneity, but also allows Deleuze to position Bergson against Hegelian dialectics. The use of Riemann is thereby an important element of the incorporation of Bergson into Deleuze's larger early project of developing an anti-Hegelian philosophy of difference. This article first reviews the role of discrete and continuous multiplicities or manifolds in Riemann's Habilitationsschrift, and how Riemann uses them to establish the foundations of an intrinsic geometry. It then outlines how Deleuze reinterprets Riemann's thesis to make it a credible resource for Deleuze's Bergsonism. Finally, it explores the limits of this move, and how Deleuze's later move away from Bergson turns on the rejection of an assumption of Riemann's thesis, that of ‘flatness in smallest parts’, which Deleuze challenges with the idea, taken from Riemann's contemporary, Richard Dedekind, of the irrational cut. (shrink)
The concept of a proposition is important in several areas of philosophy and central to the philosophy of language. This collection of readings investigates many different philosophical issues concerning the nature of propositions and the ways they have been regarded through the years. Reflecting both the history of the topic and the range of contemporary views, the book includes articles from Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, the Russell-Frege Correspondence, Alonzo Church, David Kaplan, John Perry, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, Mark Richard, Scott (...) Soames, and Nathan Salmon. (shrink)
Two theses are central to recent work on the epistemology of disagreement: Conciliationism:?In a revealed peer disagreement over P, each thinker should give at least some weight to her peer's attitude. Uniqueness:?For any given proposition and total body of evidence, the evidence fully justifies exactly one level of confidence in the proposition. 1This paper is the product of full and equal collaboration between its authors. Does Conciliationism commit one to Uniqueness? Thomas Kelly 2010 has argued that it does. After some (...) scene-setting (?1), in ?2 we explain and criticize Kelly's argument, thereby defeating his larger argument that Conciliationism deserves no dialectical special treatment. But we argue further that Conciliationists are committed to a disjunction, one of whose disjuncts is Uniqueness, that amounts to an ?extremely strong and unobvious position? (??3?4). If we are correct, theorists should not treat Conciliationism as a default position in debates about the epistemic significance of disagreement. (shrink)
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U has not (...) been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White . Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen  and Thomas Kelly . Moreover, if Kelly  is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers. (shrink)
This paper is a contribution to our understanding of the technical concept of given in Greek mathematical texts. By working through mathematical arguments by Menaechmus, Euclid, Apollonius, Heron and Ptolemy, I elucidate the meaning of given in various mathematical practices. I next show how the concept of given is related to the terms discussed by Marinus in his philosophical discussion of Euclid’s Data. I will argue that what is given does not simply exist, but can be unproblematically assumed or produced (...) through some effective procedure. Arguments by givens are shown to be general claims about constructibility and computability. The claim that an object is given is related to our concept of an assignment—what is given is available in some uniquely determined, or determinable, way for future mathematical work. (shrink)
The Counterfactual Comparative Account of Harm says that an event is overall harmful for someone if and only if it makes her worse off than she otherwise would have been. I defend this account from two common objections.
Nathan Carlin revisits the role of religion in bioethics, an increasingly secular enterprise, and argues that pastoral theologians can enrich moral imagination in bioethics by cultivating an aesthetic sensibility that is theologically-informed, psychologically-sophisticated, therapeutically-oriented, and experientially-grounded. To achieve these ends, Carlin employs Paul Tillich's method of correlation by positioning four principles of bioethics with four images of pastoral care.
ABSTRACT: Most of what we believe comes to us from the word of others, but we do not always believe what we are told. We often reject thinkers' reports by attributing biases to them. We may call this debunking. In this essay, I consider how debunking might work and then examine whether, and how often, it can help to preserve rational belief in the face of disagreement.
Intellectual humility is commonly thought to be a mindset, disposition, or personality trait that guides our reactions to evidence as we seek to pursue the truth and avoid error. Over the last decade, psychologists, philosophers, and other researchers have begun to explore intellectual humility, using analytical and empirical tools to understand its nature, implications, and value. This review describes central questions explored by researchers and highlights opportunities for multidisciplinary investigation.
Locke's Education for Liberty presents an analysis of the crucial but often underestimated place of education and the family within Lockean liberalism. Nathan Tarcov shows that Locke's neglected work Some Thoughts Concerning Education compares with Plato's Republic and Rousseau's Emile as a treatise on education embodying a comprehensive vision of moral and social life. Locke believed that the family can be the agency, not the enemy, of individual liberty and equality. Tarcov's superb reevaluation reveals to the modern reader a (...) breadth and unity heretofore unrecognized in Locke's thought. (shrink)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a claim of metaphysical modality, in possession of good alethic standing, must be in want of an essentialist foundation. Or at least so say the advocates of the reductive-essence-first view, according to which all modality is to be reductively defined in terms of essence. Here, I contest this bit of current wisdom. In particular, I offer two puzzles—one concerning the essences of non-compossible, complementary entities, and a second involving entities whose essences are modally (...) ‘loaded’—that together strongly call into question the possibility of reducing modality to essence. (shrink)
These essays engage Jin Y. Park’s recent translation of the work of Kim Iryŏp, a Buddhist nun and public intellectual in early twentieth-century Korea. Park’s translation of Iryŏp’s Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun was the subject of two book panels at recent conferences: the first a plenary session at the annual meeting of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy and the second at the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association on a group program session sponsored by the (...) International Society for Buddhist Philosophy. This exchange also includes a response from Park. (shrink)
In this article, we discuss the continued circulation and use of retracted science as a complex problem: Multiple stakeholders throughout the publishing ecosystem hold competing perceptions of this problem and its possible solutions. We describe how we used a participatory design process model to co-develop recommendations for addressing this problem with stakeholders in the Alfred P. Sloan-funded project, Reducing the Inadvertent Spread of Retracted Science (RISRS). After introducing the four core RISRS recommendations, we discuss how the issue of retraction-related stigma (...) gives rise to recommendation #4, Educate stakeholders about retraction and pre- and post-publication stewardship of the scholarly record. This recommendation is important for training publishing professionals and realizing this recommendation will require further collaborative design work across scholarly communications. We highlight ongoing stakeholder work which is now re-starting the design cycle. We conclude with a discussion of ongoing activities facilitating uptake and refinement of RISRS research and the implementation agenda. (shrink)
Christian apologists argue that the testimony of the miracles of Jesus provide evidence for Christianity. Hume tries to undermine this argument by pointing out that miracles are said to occur in other religious traditions and so miracles do not give us reason to believe in Christianity over the alternatives. Thus, competing miracles act as an undercutting defeater for the argument from miracles for Christianity. Yet, before Hume, Locke responds to this kind of objection, and in this paper I explain and (...) defend his response. In short, Locke argues that God will ensure that there is more evidence for Christianity (if true) and this greater evidence is an undercutting defeater for Hume’s competing miracles defeater (i.e., it is a defeater-defeater). If so, then, as Locke argues, competing miracles do not weaken the evidence from miracles for Christianity. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that punishment is intentionally harmful and that this makes it especially hard to morally justify. Explanations for the latter intuition often say questionable things about the moral significance of the intent to harm. I argue that there’s a better way to explain this intuition.
Rather infamously, Kit Fine provided a series of counter‐examples which purport to show that attempts to understand essence in terms of metaphysical necessity are ‘fundamentally misguided’. Here, my aim is to put forward a new version of modalism that is, I argue, immune to Fine's counter‐examples. The core of this new modalist account is a sparseness restriction, such that an object's essential properties are those sparse properties it has in every world in which it exists. After first motivating this sparseness (...) restriction, I proceed to show how the resulting sparse modalism circumvents Fine's original counter‐examples. After dismissing a potential problem concerning the membership relation, I conclude that, as at least one form of modalism is viable, the project of understanding essence in terms of metaphysical necessity is not so fundamentally misguided after all. (shrink)
According to “debunking arguments,” our moral beliefs are explained by evolutionary and cultural processes that do not track objective, mind-independent moral truth. Therefore (the debunkers say) we ought to be skeptics about moral realism. Huemer counters that “moral progress”—the cross-cultural convergence on liberalism—cannot be explained by debunking arguments. According to him, the best explanation for this phenomenon is that people have come to recognize the objective correctness of liberalism. Although Huemer may be the first philosopher to make this explicit empirical (...) argument for moral realism, the idea that societies will eventually converge on the same moral beliefs is a notable theme in realist thinking. Antirealists, on the other hand, often point to seemingly intractable cross-cultural moral disagreement as evidence against realism (the “argument from disagreement”). This paper argues that the trend toward liberalism is susceptible to a debunking explanation, being driven by two related non-truth-tracking processes. First, large numbers of people gravitate to liberal values for reasons of self-interest. Second, as societies become more prosperous and advanced, they become more effective at suppressing violence, and they create conditions where people are more likely to empathize with others, which encourages liberalism. The latter process is not truth tracking (or so this paper argues) because empathy-based moral beliefs are themselves susceptible to an evolutionary debunking argument. Cross-cultural convergence on liberalism per se does not support either realism or antirealism. (shrink)
Recent work on the nature of luck widely endorses the thesis that an event is good or bad luck for an individual only if it is significant for that individual. In this paper, I explore this thesis, showing that it raises questions about interests, well-being, and the philosophical uses of luck. In Sect. 1, I examine several accounts of significance, due to Pritchard (2005), Coffman (2007), and Rescher (1995). Then in Sect. 2 I consider what some theorists want to ‘do’ (...) with luck, taking important examples from epistemology (explaining Gettier-style examples) and political philosophy (offering a rationale for the just distribution of resources in society), while suggesting implications for significance. Drawing together lessons from Sects. 1 and 2, I develop a new account of significance in Sect. 3 before concluding with reflections on the debate in Sect. 4. (shrink)
One problem facing those who attempt to reconcile divine foreknowledge with human freedom is to explain how a temporal God can have knowledge of the future, if the future does not exist. In her recent book, The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge , Linda Zagzebski attempts to provide an explanation by making use of a fourdimensional model in which the past, present and future exist. In this note I argue that the model Zagzebski offers to support the coplausibility of divine (...) foreknowledge and human freedom is inconsistent with the A-theory of time she propounds. (shrink)
A key question has been underexplored in the literature on conscientious objection: if a physician is required to perform ‘medical activities,’ what is a medical activity? This paper explores the question by employing a teleological evaluation of medicine and examining the analogy of military conscripts, commonly cited in the conscientious objection debate. It argues that physicians (and other healthcare professionals) can only be expected to perform and support medical acts – acts directed towards their patients’ health. That is, physicians cannot (...) be forced to provide or support services that are not medical in nature, even if such activities support other socially desirable pursuits. This does not necessarily mean that medical professionals cannot or should not provide non-medical services, but only that they are under no obligation to provide them. (shrink)
In a very short time, it is likely that we will identify many of the genetic variants underlying individual differences in intelligence. We should be prepared for the possibility that these variants are not distributed identically among all geographic populations, and that this explains some of the phenotypic differences in measured intelligence among groups. However, some philosophers and scientists believe that we should refrain from conducting research that might demonstrate the (partly) genetic origin of group differences in IQ. Many scholars (...) view academic interest in this topic as inherently morally suspect or even racist. The majority of philosophers and social scientists take it for granted that all population differences in intelligence are due to environmental factors. The present paper argues that the widespread practice of ignoring or rejecting research on intelligence differences can have unintended negative consequences. Social policies predicated on environmentalist theories of group differences may fail to achieve their aims. Large swaths of academic work in both the humanities and social sciences assume the truth of environmentalism and are vulnerable to being undermined. We have failed to work through the moral implications of group differences to prepare for the possibility that they will be shown to exist. (shrink)
David Lewis and Peter van Inwagen have claimed that there are no “knockdown” arguments in philosophy. Their claim appears to be at odds with common philosophical practice: philosophers often write as though their conclusions are established or proven and that the considerations offered for these conclusions are decisive. In this paper, I examine some questions raised by Lewis’s and van Inwagen’s contention. What are knockdown arguments? Are there any in philosophy? If not, why not? These questions concern the nature of (...) the philosophical enterprise and our answers have implications for the limits on the attitudes of informed, rational thinkers. (shrink)
Some prominent scientists and philosophers have stated openly that moral and political considerations should influence whether we accept or promulgate scientific theories. This widespread view has significantly influenced the development, and public perception, of intelligence research. Theories related to group differences in intelligence are often rejected a priori on explicitly moral grounds. Thus the idea, frequently expressed by commentators on science, that science is “self-correcting”—that hypotheses are simply abandoned when they are undermined by empirical evidence—may not be correct in all (...) contexts. In this paper, documentation spanning from the early 1970s to the present is collected, which reveals the influence of scientists’ moral and political commitments on the study of intelligence. It is suggested that misrepresenting findings in science to achieve desirable social goals will ultimately harm both science and society. (shrink)