In any society influenced by a plurality of cultures, there will be widespread, systematic differences about at least some important values, including moral values. Many of these differences look like deep disagreements, difficult to resolve objectively if that is possible at all. One common response to the suspicion that these disagreements are unsettleable has always been moral relativism. In the flurry of sympathetic treatments of this doctrine in the last two decades, attention has understandably focused on the simpler case in (...) which one fairly self-contained and culturally homogeneous society confronts, at least in thought, the values of another; but most have taken relativism to have implications within a single pluralistic society as well. I am not among the sympathizers. That is partly because I am more optimistic than many about how many moral disagreements can be settled, but I shall say little about that here. For, even on the assumption that many disputes are unsettleable, I continue to find relativism a theoretically puzzling reaction to the problem of moral disagreement, and a troubling one in practice, especially when the practice involves regular interaction among those who disagree. This essay attempts to explain why. (shrink)
High profile breaches of data security in government and other organizations are becoming an increasing concern amongst members of the public. Academic researchers have rarely discussed data security issues as they affect research, and this is especially the case for qualitative social researchers, who are sometimes disinclined to technical solutions. This paper describes 14 guidelines developed to help qualitative researchers improve the security of their digitally-created and stored data. We developed these procedures after the theft of a laptop computer containing (...) highly sensitive data from the home of a fieldworker. This paper introduces the ‘principle of proliferation’: digitally-created and stored files tend to proliferate during the course of a research project by virtue of fact that they can and are copied and shared as research progresses from data collection through to analysis and archive. Our guidelines were designed as concrete strategies that researchers embarking on a project can employ, particularly researchers working in teams, to accommodate this proliferation and reduce it where possible. (shrink)
The thesis that all learning has the character of enquiry is advanced and its implications are explored. R. G. Collingwood's account of ‘the logical priority of the question’ is explained and Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutical justification and development, particularly the rejection of the re-enactment thesis, is discussed. Educators are encouraged to consider the following implications of the character of the question implied in all learning: (i) that it is a question that is constituted in the event rather than prepared or given (...) in advance, and that this leads to a necessary tension between learning and the curriculum or scheme, (ii) that it is a question that concerns some subject matter or issue that is at stake for both the student and the object of study, which draws our attention to the ‘intentionality’ of learning, and (iii) that it is a question that operates on the level of being—students are ‘called into question’, and thus transformed, by the object of study. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to perceptual qualities of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. The internal phenomenological structure of colours is considered here in some detail, and a comparison is (...) drawn with sounds and their synthesis. This paper examines the type of explanation that is needed, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is argued to be of only marginal relevance. (shrink)
Why would God make us ask for some good He might supply, and why would it be right for God to withhold that good unless and until we asked for it? We explain why present defences of petitionary prayer are insufficient, but argue that a world in which God makes us ask for some goods and then supplies them in response to our petitions adds value to the world that would not be available in worlds in which God simply supplied (...) such goods without our asking for them. This added value, we argue, is what we call ‘partnership with God’. (shrink)
http://www.cla.umn.edu/jhopkins/ Taken together, twenty-four of these works constitute Nicholas of Cusa’s complete philosophical and theological treatises. They must be supplemented by studying his richly conceptual sermons, along with his ecclesiological and exegetical writings such as De Concordantia Catholica and Coniectura de Ultimis Diebus. His mathematical writings are also of interest, even though they are not of lasting importance, as Gottfried Leibniz rightly recognized.
Why should I be just? What have I to gain if I am decent, honest, moral, upright, fair and truthful? Other people benefit if I am just, but do I? And doesn't it seem clear that sometimes the benefit that other people receive from my being just is a benefit received at my expense? Perhaps then I have no adequate reason to be just. Perhaps if I have any sense I will not bother.
David Owen wants to understand what Hume means by reason, given its pivotal importance in the wide range of issues that Hume discusses in his philosophical works. In order to achieve that understanding, Owen places Hume in the historical context of writers such as Descartes and Locke, what was later referred to as the way of ideas. Owen objects to stating Humes views in terms of contemporary semantic frameworks. After a careful review of the many contexts in which Hume discusses (...) reason in book 1 of the Treatise, Owen concludes that Hume rejected the notion of reason as an independent faculty and offered instead an account of reason as based on the imagination. Owens scholarship is meticulous and his attempt to understand Humes historical context commendable. The difficulties are that he tells us nothing new and his context is much too narrow. Hume was neither a scholastic nor a contemporary professional responding only to the works of other professional philosophers on some technical point. At the very least, Humes discussion of causal reasoning was very much influenced by the transition from Aristotelian physics and its attendant conception of causality to Newtons physics and its attendant conception of causality. The details of Humes mechanistic account of belief are not mentioned. (shrink)
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
The two great philosophical figures at the culminating point of the Enlightenment are Thomas Reid in Scotland and Immanuel Kant in Germany. Reid was by far the most influential across Europe and the United States well into the nineteenth century. Since that time his fame and influence have been eclipsed by his German contemporary. This important book by one of today's leading philosophers of knowledge and religion will do much to reestablish the significance of Reid for philosophy today. Nicholas (...) Wolterstorff has produced the first systematic account of Reid's epistemology. Relating Reid's philosophy to present-day epistemological discussions the author demonstrates how they are at once remarkably timely, relevant, and provocative. No other book both uncovers the deep pattern of Reid's thought and relates it to contemporary philosophical debate. This book should be read by historians of philosophy as well as all philosophers concerned with epistemology and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
This book is a tour-de-force on how human consciousness may have evolved. From the "phantom pain" experienced by people who have lost their limbs to the uncanny faculty of "blindsight," Humphrey argues that raw sensations are central to all conscious states and that consciousness must have evolved, just like all other mental faculties, over time from our ancestorsodily responses to pain and pleasure. '.
Nicholas Wolterstorff discusses the ethics of belief which Locke developed in Book IV of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, where Locke finally argued his overarching aim: how we ought to govern our belief, especially on matters of religion and morality. Wolterstorff shows that this concern was instigated by the collapse, in Locke's day, of a once-unified moral and religious tradition in Europe into warring factions. His was thus a culturally and socially engaged epistemology. This view of Locke invites a (...) new interpretation of the origins of modern philosophy. He maintained that instead of following tradition we ought to let 'reason be our guide.' Accordingly, after discussing Hume's powerful attack on Locke's recommended practice, Wolterstorff argues for Locke's originality and emphasizes his contribution to the 'modernity' of post-sixteenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
From vice to virtue: Curiosity and work in early modern England Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9624-3 Authors Larissa Aldridge, http://independent.academia.edu/LarissaAldridge Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Each year a national day of commemoration of the war dead is celebrated on 11th November in the United Kingdom. Despite public controversy about the nature and purpose of remembrance, there has been no significant discussion of the role schools should play in this event. In this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, with the government planning to send groups from every secondary school in Britain to tour the battlefields of the western front over the next (...) four years, the question of how war should be remembered in schools is more pressing than ever. In this bold and rigorous pamphlet, David Aldridge takes a hard look at the reasons usually advanced for involving children and young people in commemorating the war dead, and finds many of them wanting. He critically examines the high profile in schools of charities, like the Royal British Legion, with vested interests in certain kinds of commemoration. And he argues forcefully for a justification of remembrance in schools that requires a major rethink of established rituals and practices. This is a compelling treatment of a topic high on the agenda of teachers and education policy-makers and will be an invaluable resource for anyone involved in planning centenary commemorative events for children and young people. (shrink)
Not only does this book reflect the clarity and acuity of thought that characterize Wolterstorff's work, it also reflects the humane sensibilities of someone who has thought and felt deeply about these matters for a long time.
Prominent in the canonical texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the claim that God speaks. Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that contemporary speech-action theory, when appropriately expanded, offers us a fascinating way of interpreting this claim and showing its intelligibility. He develops an innovative theory of double-hermeneutics - along the way opposing the current near-consensus led by Ricoeur and Derrida that there is something wrong-headed about interpreting a text to find out what its author said. Wolterstorff argues that (...) at least some of us are entitled to believe that God has spoken. Philosophers have never before, in any sustained fashion, reflected on these matters, mainly because they have mistakenly treated speech as revelation. (shrink)
This paper is an essay in counterfactual epistemology. What if experience have high-level contents, to the effect that something is a lemon or that someone is sad? I survey the consequences for epistemology of such a scenario, and conclude that many of the striking consequences could be reached even if our experiences don't have high-level contents.
How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences.
Human beings engage works of the arts in many different ways: they sing songs while working, they kiss icons, they create and dedicate memorials. Yet almost all philosophers of art of the modern period have ignored this variety and focused entirely on just one mode of engagement, namely, disinterested attention. Nicholas Wolterstorff asks why this might be, and proposes that almost all philosophers have accepted the grand narrative concerning art in the modern world. It is generally agreed that in (...) the early modern period, members of the middle class in Western Europe increasingly engaged works of the arts as objects of disinterested attention. The grand narrative claims that this change represented the arts coming into their own, and that works of art, so engaged, are socially other and transcendent. Wolterstorff rejects this claim, and offers an alternative framework for thinking about the arts. Central to his alternative framework are the idea of the arts as social practices and the idea of works of the arts as having different meaning in different practices. (shrink)
Nicholas Jardine offers here an edition and the first translation into English of Johannes Kepler's A Defence of Tycho against Ursus. He accompanies this with essays on the provenance of the treatise - the circumstances which provoked Kepler to write it, an analysis of its strategy, style and historical sources and of the contents of Ursus' Treatise on Astronomical Hypotheses to which Kepler was replying. Dr Jardine also provides three extended interpretive essays on the intrinsic interest and historical significance (...) of the work. (shrink)
Michael Smith’s moral problem is not about whether to betray one’s friends or one’s country. It is a metaethical problem about how to combine three tempting theses that look mutually inconsistent: moral cognitivism, appraiser internalism about moral judgments and motivation, and a “Humean” account of motivation. In Smith’s formulation, these become: 1. Moral judgements of the form, ‘It is right that I φ’ express a subject’s belief about an objective matter of fact, a fact about what it is right for (...) her to do. 2. [Necessarily] if someone judges that it is right that she φs, then, ceteris paribus, she is motivated to φ. 3. An agent is motivated to act in a certain way just in case she has an appropriate desire and a means-end belief, where belief and desire are, in Hume’s terms, distinct existences. As he notes, many metaethical positions can be classified by the way they seek to escape this apparent inconsistency: noncognitivists deny 1 to preserve 2 and 3, some ethical naturalists deny 2 to save 1 and 3, and some internalist cognitivists deny 3 and keep 1 and 2. Smith devotes a chapter to each of these responses and then defends his own view, which retains all three claims in a position advertised as not only consistent but realist, internalist, and, in a broad sense, naturalist. (shrink)
The success of a piece of behaviour is often explained by its being caused by a true representation (similarly, failure falsity). In some simple organisms, success is just survival and reproduction. Scientists explain why a piece of behaviour helped the organism to survive and reproduce by adverting to the behaviour’s having been caused by a true representation. That usage should, if possible, be vindicated by an adequate naturalistic theory of content. Teleosemantics cannot do so, when it is applied to simple (...) representing systems (Godfrey-Smith 1996). Here it is argued that the teleosemantic approach to content should therefore be modified, not abandoned, at least for simple representing systems. The new ‘infotel-semantics’ adds an input condition to the output condition offered by teleosemantics, recognising that it is constitutive of content in a simple representing system that the tokening of a representation should correlate probabilistically with the obtaining of its specific evolutionary success condition. (shrink)
Logic is essential to correct reasoning and also has important theoretical applications in philosophy, computer science, linguistics, and mathematics. This book provides an exceptionally clear introduction to classical logic, with a unique approach that emphasizes both the hows and whys of logic. Here Nicholas Smith thoroughly covers the formal tools and techniques of logic while also imparting a deeper understanding of their underlying rationales and broader philosophical significance. In addition, this is the only introduction to logic available today that (...) presents all the major forms of proof--trees, natural deduction in all its major variants, axiomatic proofs, and sequent calculus. The book also features numerous exercises, with solutions available on an accompanying website. -/- Logic is the ideal textbook for undergraduates and graduate students seeking a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the subject. -/- Provides an essential introduction to classical logic Emphasizes the how and why of logic Covers both formal and philosophical issues Presents all the major forms of proof--from trees to sequent calculus Features numerous exercises, with solutions available online The ideal textbook for undergraduates and graduate students . (shrink)
Ethical naturalism holds that ethical facts about such matters as good and bad, right and wrong, are part of a purely natural world — the world studied by the sciences. It is supported by the apparent reasonableness of many moral explanations. It has been thought to face an epistemological challenge because of the existence of an “is-ought gap”; it also faces metaphysical objections from philosophers who hold that ethical facts would have to be supernatural or “nonnatural,” sometimes on the grounds (...) that ethical thought has a practical role that no thought about purely natural facts could have. Its defenders have argued resourcefully against these challenges. (shrink)
Resumen: Este artículo presenta una revisión detallada de la deconstrucción de la subjetividad estética moderna ensayada por Jacques Derrida en su confrontación con la célebre e influyente Kritik der Urteilskraft de Kant y, a la vez, sitúa esta empresa en el contexto mayor del corpus derridiano por medio de la explicitación de la vasta red conceptual que la sostiene. En último término, lo que aquí se explora -siguiendo siempre a Derrida- es una comprensión de la experiencia estética como sustracción, como (...) fractura del campo subjetivo por efecto de la introducción de una presencia irreductible.: This article presents a detailed account of the aesthetic subject’s deconstruction as developed by Jacques Derrida in his confrontation with Kant’s famous and influential Critique of judgment. At the same time, it places this enterprise in the context of Derrida’s corpus by making explicit the vast conceptual network that lies behind it. In the last analysis, what is here explored - following Derrida’s lead - is an understanding of aesthetical experience as subtraction, as a breach into the subjective field through the introduction of an irreducible non-presence. (shrink)
Expressivists, such as Blackburn, analyse sentences such as 'S thinks that it ought to be the case that p' as S hoorays that p'. A problem is that the former sentence can be negated in three different ways, but the latter in only two. The distinction between refusing to accept a moral judgement and accepting its negation therefore cannot be accounted for. This is shown to undermine Blackburn's solution to the Frege-Geach problem.
In this provocative book, philosopher Nicholas Agar defends the idea that parents should be allowed to enhance their children’s characteristics. Gets away from fears of a Huxleyan ‘Brave New World’ or a return to the fascist eugenics of the past Written from a philosophically and scientifically informed point of view Considers real contemporary cases of parents choosing what kind of child to have Uses ‘moral images’ as a way to get readers with no background in philosophy to think about (...) moral dilemmas Provides an authoritative account of the science involved, making the book suitable for readers with no knowledge of genetics Creates a moral framework for assessing all new technologies. (shrink)
What is possible and why? What is the difference between the merely possible and the actual? In Kants Modal Metaphysics Nicholas Stang examines Kants lifelong engagement with these questions and their role in his philosophical development. This is the first book to trace Kants theory of possibility all theway from the so-called pre-Critical writings of the 1750s and 1760s to the Critical system of philosophy inaugurated by the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Stang argues that the key to (...) understanding both the change and the continuity between Kants pre-Critical and Critical theory of possibility is his transformation of the ontological question about possibility-what is it for a being to be possible?-into a question in transcendental philosophy-what is it to represent an object as possible? (shrink)
Based mainly on unpublished papers this is the first detailed study of the early, neo-Hegelian period of Bertrand Russell's career. It covers his philosophical education at Cambridge, his conversion to neo-Hegelianism, his ambitious plans for a neo-Hegelian dialectic of the sciences and the problems which ultimately led him to reject it.