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.
The buck-passing account of value involves a positive and a negative claim. The positive claim is that to be good is to have reasons for a pro-attitude. The negative claim is that goodness itself is not a reason for a pro-attitude. Unlike Scanlon, Parfit rejects the negative claim. He maintains that goodness is reason-providing, but that the reason provided is not an additional reason, additional, that is, to the reason provided by the good-making property. I consider various ways in (...) which this may be understood and reject all of them. So I conclude that buck-passers cannot reject the negative claim. (shrink)
This paper presents a new objection to the buck-passing account of value. I distinguish the buck-passing account of predicative value from the buck-passing account of attributive value. According to the latter, facts about attributive value reduce to facts about reasons and their weights. But since facts about reasons’ weights are themselves facts about attributive value, this account presupposes what it is supposed to explain. As part of this argument, I also argue against Mark Schroeder's recent account of (...) the weights of reasons, which purports to explain the weights of reasons in terms of further reasons without circularity. I then argue that if we abandon the buck-passing account of attributive value, it would be ad hoc and unjustifiable to continue to endorse the buck-passing account of predicative value. In short, there seems to be little hope for the buck-passing account in either form. The paper ends by sketching a novel alternative theory according to which reasons are analysed in terms of the attributive value of motives. I suggest that a normative reason to is something that would be a good motive for -ing. At least at first glance, this view has numerous merits and few problems. (shrink)
Defends the buck-passing account of value from the wrong kind of reason objection by arguing that in the cases proposed there are no reasons to value the intuitively worthless object, but there are practical reasons to bring it about that one values it. Also extends the account to other evaluative concepts.
In this article, I will defend the so-called buck-passing theory of value. According to this theory, claims about the value of an object refer to the reason-providing properties of the object. The concept of value can thus be analyzed in terms of reasons and the properties of objects that provide them for us. Reasons in this context are considerations that count in favour of certain attitudes. There are four other possibilities of how the connection between reasons and value might (...) be formulated. For example, we can claim that value is a property that provides us with reasons to choose an option that has this property. I argue that none of these four other options can ultimately be defended, and therefore the buck-passing account is the one we ought to accept as the correct one. The case for the buck-passing account becomes even stronger, when we examine the weak points of the most pressing criticism against this account thus far. (shrink)
This paper aims to cast doubt upon a certain way of analysing prudential value (or good for ), namely in the manner of a ‘buck-passing’ analysis. It begins by explaining why we should be interested in analyses of good for and the nature of buck-passing analyses generally (§I). It moves on to considering and rejecting two sets of buck-passing analyses. The first are analyses that are likely to be suggested by those attracted to the idea of analysing (...) good for in a buck-passing fashion (§II). The second are the buck-passing analyses of good for proposed by John Skorupski (§III), Henry Sidgwick (§IV), and Stephen Darwall (§V). Along the way the paper shows that Michael Smith’s and Peter Railton’s analyses of other concepts—analyses that could be (and have been) taken to be analyses of good for —are similarly unsuitable as analyses of it. The paper concludes by suggesting that the fact that none of the buck-passing accounts of good for considered here is satisfactory, coupled with an appreciation of the various problems that a buck-passing analysis of good for would have to avoid, suggests that we should be sceptical about the prospects of finding such an analysis and should look for one of a different type. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that the buck-passing analysis (BPA) of final value is not a plausible analysis of value and should be abandoned. While considering the influential wrong kind of reason problem and other more recent technical objections, this paper contends that there are broader reasons for giving up on buck-passing. It is argued that the BPA, even if it can respond to the various technical objections, is not an attractive analysis of final value. It is (...) not attractive for two reasons: the first being that the BPA lacks the features typical of successful conceptual analyses and the second being that it is unable to deliver on the advantages that its proponents claim for it. While not offering a knock-down technical refutation of the BPA, this paper aims to show that there is little reason to think that the BPA is correct, and that it should therefore be given up as an analysis of final value. (shrink)
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; a version formed by the (...) assimilation of to, labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation. Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation they oppose. (shrink)
In Beyond Art (2014), Dominic Lopes proposed a new theory of art, the buck passing theory. Rather than attempting to define art in terms of exhibited or genetic featured shared by all artworks, Lopes passes the buck to theories of individual arts. He proposes that we seek theories of music, painting, poetry, and other arts. Once we have these theories, we know everything there is to know about the theory of art. This essay presents two challenges to the (...) theory. First, this essay argues that Lopes is wrong in supposing that theories of arts were developed to deal with the ‘hard cases’ – developments such as Duchamp’s readymades and conceptual art. This is a problem since Lopes holds that the buck passing theory’s capacity to deal with the hard cases is one of its virtues. Second, this essay argues that the buck passing theory has no account of which activities are arts and no account of what makes some activity an art. (shrink)
This paper explores Nicholas of Cusa’s framing of the De pace fidei as a dialogue taking place incaelo rationis. On the one hand, this framing allows Nicholas of Cusa to argue that all religious rites presuppose the truth of a single, unified faith and so temporally manifest divine logos in a way accommodated to the historically unique conventions of different political communities. On the other hand, at the end of the De pace fidei, the interlocutors in the heavenly (...) dialogue are enjoined to return to earth and lead their countrymen in a gradual conversion to the acceptance of rites which would explicitly acknowledge the metaphysically presupposed transcendent unity of all true faiths. In light of these two aspects of the literary framing of the De pace fidei, the question that motivates this paper concerns the extent to which the understanding of history subtending Cusanus’ temporal political aims is consistent with the understanding of history grounded in his metaphysical presupposition that there is una religio in omni diversitate rituum. In addressing this question, I shall argue that the literary strategy of the De pace fidei sacrifices Nicholas of Cusa’s apologetic doctrinal aims insofar as the text creates an allegorical space in which the tension between its literal and figurative dimensions assigns to its readers the task of choosing their own orientations to the significance of history as a foundation for future action. (shrink)
T. M. Scanlon's buck-passing account of value (BPA) has been subjected to a barrage of criticisms. Recently, to be helpful to BPA, Roger Crisp has suggested that a number of these criticisms can be met if one makes some revisions to BPA. In this paper, I argue that if advocates of the buck-passing account accepted these revisions, they would effectively be giving up the buck-passing account as it is typically understood, that is, as an account concerned with (...) the conceptual priority of reasons or the right vis-à-vis value or the good. I conclude by addressing some of the broader implications of my arguments for the current debate about the buckpassing account of value. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss and try to remove some major stumbling blocks for a Moorean buck-passing account of reasons in terms of value (MBP): There is a pro tanto reason to favour X if and only if X is intrinsically good, or X is instrumentally good, or favouring X is intrinsically good, or favouring X is instrumentally good. I suggest that MBP can embrace and explain the buck-passing intuition behind the far more popular buck-passing account of (...) value, and has the means to avoid the wrong kind of reasons problem. Further, I counter the common suspicion that a Moorean account cannot make sense of deontological views such as Ross’s, and that it generally leaves no room for agent-relative reasons. In order to do this, I appeal to the idea that a Moorean account does not dictate the substantive view that values have to be maximized. In some cases, expressing them might be a better response. Finally I lay out and reply to a potentially devastating argument to the effect that a Moorean account makes oughts and reasons non-normative. I also criticize Scanlon’s attempt to favour his own buck-passing account via consideration of the open question argument. MBP thus emerges as a live option in the buck-passing debate. (shrink)
This paper is a reaction to the book “Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom”, whose central concern is the philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell. I distinguish and discuss three concerns in Maxwell’s philosophy. The first is his critique of standard empiricism (SE) in the philosophy of science, the second his defense of aim-oriented rationality (AOR), and the third his philosophy of mind. I point at some problematic aspects of Maxwell’s rebuttal of SE and of his philosophy of mind and argue (...) in favor of AOR. (shrink)
Richard Falckenberg (1851-1920) in his book Grundzüge der Philosophie des Nicolaus Cusanus mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Lehre vom Erkennen was among the first historians of philosophy to support the argument that Nicholas of Cusa was a modern philosopher because his innovative theory of knowledge. The Falckenberg's celebrity shall be reduced because he was later obscured by the most famous historians of philosophy as Ernst Cassirer and Joachim Ritter. In our paper we want to come back to the Falckenberg's book (...) and recover his main arguments about the proximity of Cusanus with the philosophies of Leibniz, Fichte and the positivists. (shrink)
In “’But It Would Be Wrong,’” Stephen Darwall advances a mixed view regarding “deontic buck-passing.” He holds that a wrong action’s “wrong-making features” are our reasons for reactive attitudes like blame; with respect to these reasons, the action’s wrongness “passes the buck” to these features. Yet the action’s being wrong is itself an additional reason for the agent not to do the action, Darwall contends, a “second-personal” moral reason. So with respect to reasons for action, the buck (...) doesn’t get passed. But once we remember that compunction is one of the moral reactive attitudes, we can see that Darwall’s rationale for treating these two sorts of reasons differently is insufficient. While giving up on deontic buck-passing altogether would require significant revisions to his second-personal account of morality, Darwall can easily adopt a thoroughgoing buck-passing, since a wrong action’s wrong-making features can be second-personal reasons not to do it. (shrink)
For the last several decades, philosophers have wrestled with the proper place of religion in liberal societies. Usually, the debates among these philosophers have started with the articulation of various conceptions of liberalism and then proceeded to locate religion in the context of these conceptions. In the process, however, too little attention has been paid to the way religion is conceived. Drawing on the work of Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, two scholars who are often read as holding opposing (...) views on these issues, I argue that, for the purposes of their argument about liberalism, both have implicitly accepted a concept of religion that has come under severe attack in recent work on the subject. Namely, they have accepted a concept of religion that identifies religion primarily with belief, ritual practice, and ecclesial institutions. Following recent scholarship, I suggest that religion is better conceived as a kind of culture. To conclude the essay, I gesture toward what the beginnings of a re-visioned debate about religion and liberal society might look like if one started from this revised conception of religion. (shrink)
In response to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Nicholas of Cusa wrote De pace fidei defending a commitment to religious tolerance on the basis of the notion that all diverse rites are but manifestations of one true religion. Drawing on a discussion of why Nicholas of Cusa is unable to square the two objectives of arguing for pluralistic tolerance and explaining the contents of the one true faith, we outline why theological pluralism is compromised by its own (...) meta-exclusivism. (shrink)
It has been thought that the prospects for non-naturalism about normativity may be significantly advanced if non-naturalists take the relation of being a reason as the basic normative entity, and so if, inter alia, they endorse a buck-passing account of value. This is thought to yield theoretical benefits regarding (i) the open question argument, (ii) the defence against the charge of queerness, and (iii) demands of parsimony. In the paper I contest these claims. Non- naturalists need not focus on (...) reasons, and so need not, as non-naturalists, endorse a buck-passing account of value. They can choose to hold evaluative notions to be the basic ones, or to have a (reasoned) plurality of basic normative concepts and properties. The debate with the naturalist in those three respects is not going to be significantly influenced by such preliminary conceptual decisions. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 55, Issue 1-3, pp 152 - 169 Previously, the author tried to show that some arguments in one of the two versions of Nicholas of Autrecourt’s _Quaestio de intensione visionis_ are taken almost verbatim from the anonymous _Tractatus de sex inconvenientibus_. This paper concentrates on the arguments themselves in order to consider two main issues: the ‘translatability’ of limit decision problems, manifest in Autrecourt’s juxtaposition of questions _de maximo et minimo, de primo et ultimo instanti_, and (...) the intension and remission of forms; the importance of Parisian discussions of limit decision problems prior to the adoption of the new analytical languages developed at Oxford. Thus, the paper is divided in two sections, the first concerning some arguments of Autrecourt’s question, the second focusing on the link between one of Autrecourt’s arguments and the medieval tradition of commentaries on Aristotle’s _De caelo_, in which it is possible to find some antecedents of the analytical approach that later Parisian scholars would apply to these problems. (shrink)
Thomas Scanlon influentially argues that, in the provision of reasons to act or believe, goodness and value ‘pass the buck’ to other properties. This paper first extends his arguments: if Scanlon shows that goodness and value pass the buck, then relevantly analogous arguments show that, contrary to Scanlon, duty and wrongness too pass this same buck. The paper then reverses Scanlon’s buck-passing arguments: if they show that goodness and value pass the reason-providing buck, then reasons (...) themselves also pass the buck for providing goodness, value, duty, and wrongness. What to make of all this? The paper argues for scepticism about the significance of Scanlon’s buck-passing arguments for ethics. (shrink)
The article discusses in detail Nicholas Rescher’s book Scientific Progess: A Philosophical Essay on the Economics of Research in Natural Science (1978). Rescher discusses the possibilities of further progress for science. According to Rescher there are no limits by principles to scientific progress. Among the positions which postulate an end of scientific progress there are some which see the reason in the finiteness of nature, others in the finitude of our intellectual resources. According to Rescher science arises from the (...) interaction between nature and our intellectual instruments, and the combinatory of these interactions in infinite. On the other hand, there is an economic limit to scientific progress, due to the growth of the marginal costs of the scientific enterprise: the costs grow exponentially, that is to say that the yields grow only logarithmically compared to the investments. (shrink)
La traduction latine des Dialoghi della historia du philosophe néo-platonicien Francesco Patrizi da Cherso est publiée à Bâle en 1570. L’étude de la circulation de ce texte et des choix de traduction permet de mieux comprendre la réception des artes historicae italiennes dans le Nord de l’Europe et les fluctuations ou limites du latin face à la montée en puissance de l’italien vernaculaire comme langue philosophique.
According to T. M. Scanlon's 'buck-passing' analysis of value, x is good means that x has properties that provide reasons to take up positive attitudes vis-à-vis x. Some authors have claimed that this idea can be traced back to Franz Brentano, who said in 1889 that the judgement that x is good is the judgement that a positive attitude to x is correct ('richtig'). The most discussed problem in the recent literature on buckpassing is known as the 'wrong kind (...) of reason' problem (the WKR problem): it seems quite possible that there is sometimes reason to favour an object although that object is not good and possibly very evil. The problem is to delineate exactly what distinguishes reasons of the right kind from reasons of the wrong kind. In this paper we offer a Brentano-style solution. We also note that one version of the WKR problem was put forward by G. E. Moore in his review of the English translation of Brentano's Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis. Before getting to how our Brentano-style approach might offer a way out for Brentano and the buck-passers, we briefly consider and reject an interesting attempt to solve the WKR problem recently proposed by John Skorupski. (shrink)
According to T.M. Scanlon's buck-passing account of value, to be valuable is not to possess intrinsic value as a simple and unanalysable property, but rather to have other properties that provide reasons to take up an attitude in favour of their owner or against it. The 'wrong kind of reasons' objection to this view is that we may have reasons to respond for or against something without this having any bearing on its value. The challenge is to explain why (...) such reasons are of the wrong kind. This is what I set out to do, after illustrating the objection more thoroughly. (shrink)
The ‘buck-passing’ account equates the value of an object with the existence of reasons to favour it. As we argued in an earlier paper, this analysis faces the ‘wrong kind of reasons’ problem: there may be reasons for pro-attitudes towards worthless objects, in particular if it is the pro-attitudes, rather than their objects, that are valuable. Jonas Olson has recently suggested how to resolve this difficulty: a reason to favour an object is of the right kind only if its (...) formulation does not involve any reference to the attitudes for which it provides a reason. We argue that despite its merits, Olson's solution is unsatisfactory. We go on to suggest that the buck-passing account might be acceptable even if the problem in question turns out to be insoluble. (shrink)
In the introduction to his Philosophical Papers 1&2 Charles Taylor assures us that his work, while encompassing a range of issues, follows a single, tightly knit agenda. He claims that the central questions concern "philosophical anthropology". Taylor's work on these questions has been presented piecemeal, in the form of articles and papers, and the student has had to imagine what a systematic monograph by Taylor on philosophical anthropology would look like. Neither Hegel, Sources of the Self, Ethics of Authenticity, Catholic (...) Modernity nor Varieties of Religion Today, nor Taylor's forthcoming books on secularization and modern social imaginaries are such treatises on the ontology of the human being. Nicholas H. Smith's monograph Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity (Polity, 2002) puts forward a clear and well-argued assessment of Taylor's entire project, with details on his intellectual biography and political engagement. For the purposes of thinking through Taylor's work so far, this book is probably the best one around. It is divided into eight chapters: "Linguistic Philosophy and Phenomenology", "Science, Action and the Mind", "The Romantic Legacy", "The Self and the Good", "Interpretation and the Social Sciences", "Individual and Community", "Politics and Social Criticism", and "Modernity, Art and Religion". The chapters are thematically ordered, but the order of presentation follows roughly the temporal order of Taylor's career. In this review article, I will begin with what Smith identifies as Taylor's organizing idea, and then focus on Smith's presentation of Taylor's transcendental argumentation concerning 'human constants'. As exemplars, I will discuss two of the.. (shrink)
This paper explores the so-called buck-passing accounts of value. These views attempt to use normative notions, such as reasons and ought to explain evaluative notions, such as goodness and value . Thus, according to Scanlon's well-known view, the property of being good is the formal, higher-order property of having some more basic properties that provide reasons to have certain kind of valuing attitudes towards the objects. I begin by tracing some of the long history of such accounts. I then (...) describe the arguments which are typically used to motivate these views. The rest of this article investigates how some of the central details of the buck-passing accounts should be specified, and what kind of problems these views face. (shrink)
The buck-passing account of values offers an explanation of the close relation of values and reasons for action: of why it is that the question whether something that is of value provides reasons is not ”open.” Being of value simply is, its defenders claim, a property that something has in virtue of its having other reason-providing properties. The generic idea of buck-passing is that the property of being good or being of value does not provide reasons. It is (...) other properties that do. There are, however, at least three versions of the account which differ in their understanding of those “other properties.” The first two versions both assume that non-normative properties provide reasons, the difference being that the second allows that normative properties also provide reasons. Both run into difficulties, which I explain, in trying to defend the claim that non-normative properties provide reasons for action. The third version of the buck-passing account which explains being of value in terms of more specific evaluative properties that are reason-providing remains unpersuasive as well. Once we understand the relation between general and specific properties as a difference in degree, there is no space for a reduction of the one kind of properties to the other. In section II I sketch an alternative account of the relation between reasons and values, which is based on a thesis that I call the Conceptual Link and the claim that values are not just co-extensive with reasons, but explain them. (shrink)
Buck-passers about value accept two theses about value, a negative thesis and a positive. The negative thesis is that the fact that something is valuable is not itself a reason to promote or appreciate it. The positive thesis is that the fact that something is valuable consists in the fact that there are other reasons to promote or appreciate it. Buck-passers suppose that the negative thesis follows from the positive one, and sometimes insist on it as if it (...) is the central part of their view. But as I'll explain here, what we say about the negative thesis is orthogonal to what we say about the positive one. (shrink)
The article explores the limits of buck-passing analysis in evaluating value or goodness. It talks about the inability of back-passers to account for two important types of value or goodness, which include excellence and means. The use of delimiting strategy in buck-passing analysis in order to be in possession of goodness is discussed.
Despite being one of the major figures in late medieval thought and being the subject of numerous studies, certain topics concerning the Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa remain in need of further investigation. One of these is an aspect of his theory of cognition: his account of sense perception. It is our aim in this study to systematically look at his scattered remarks on the topic and make a number of suggestions as to the nature of his thought on how (...) we come to know external things. It is not our purpose to offer a comprehensive account of his theory of cognition. Our focus in this article is on his account of perception and the specific claim that Nicholas develops a model whereby reason operates together with the senses in perceptual experience. Despite being tentative our claim is grounded on suggestions found in the scholarship on Cusanus; but these suggestions remain quite vague and in need of exploration. In this article, we closely examine the textual evidence and develop our claim based o... (shrink)
I first distinguish between different forms of the buck-passing account of value and clarify my target in other respects on buck-passers' behalf. I then raise a number of problems for the different forms of the buck-passing view that I have distinguished.
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)
Roger Crisp has inspired two important criticisms of Scanlon's buck-passing account of value. I defend buck-passing from the wrong kind of reasons criticism, and the reasons and the good objection. I support Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen's dual role of reasons in refuting the wrong kind of reasons criticism, even where its authors claim it fails. Crisp's reasons and the good objection contends that the property of goodness is buck-passing in virtue of its formality. I argue that Crisp conflates (...) general and formal properties, and that Scanlon is ambiguous about whether the formal property of a reason can stop the buck. Drawing from Wallace, I respond to Crisp's reasons and the good objection by developing an augmented buck-passing account of reasons and value, where the buck is passed consistently from the formal properties of both to the substantive properties of considerations and evaluative attitudes. I end by describing two unresolved problems for buck-passers. (shrink)
Nicholas Maxwell's provocative and highly-original philosophy of science urges a revolution in academic inquiry affecting all branches of learning, so that the single-minded pursuit of knowledge is replaced with the aim of helping people realize what is of value in life and make progress toward a more civilized world. This volume of essays from an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars engages Maxwell in critical evaluation and celebrates his contribution to philosophy spanning forty years. Several of the contributors, like Maxwell, (...) took their inspiration from Sir Karl Popper’s philosophy of science and were connected to the department he created at the London School of Economics. In the introductory chapter, Maxwell provides an overview of his thought and then defends his views against objections in a concluding essay. -/- . (shrink)
Scanlon suggests a buck-passing account of goodness. To say that something is good is not to give a reason to, say, favour it; rather it is to say that there are such reasons. When it comes to wrongness, however, Scanlon rejects a buck-passing account: to say that j ing is wrong is, on his view, to give a sufficient moral reason not to j. Philip Stratton-Lake 2003 argues that Scanlon can evade a redundancy objection against his (Scanlon’s) view (...) of wrongness by adopting a buck-passing account of wrongness. We argue that this manoeuvre does not succeed. Scanlon’s notion of wrongness rests on the idea of a reasonably rejectable principle. As Stratton-Lake points out, Scanlon offers two accounts, one in terms of permission, the other in terms of proscription. The permission account is tricky to formulate. Scanlon’s account (quoted in Stratton-Lake 2003: 71) might suggest any of the following four formulations (where the principles in question are principles ‘governing how one may act’ (Scanlon.. (shrink)
In 1991, Darwin College Cambridge was given a substantial bequest to fund a research post in parapsychology. The event became something of a cause célebre. Various Cambridge University academics objected to accepting this money: the professor of philosophy, D.H. Mellor, said on BBC radio that funding such a position would be like funding a research post to determine whether the earth is round. Other members of Darwin College were (understandably, perhaps) reluctant to turn down any offer of money for research. (...) In the end the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of the sceptics: Nicholas Humphrey, psychologist and broadcaster, was given the post to research into the reasons why people believe in parapsychology. The present book is one result. (shrink)
Nicholas Humphrey thinks that consciousness is a kind of illusion. He claims that when we have conscious sensory experiences, it seems to us that we are aware of certain “phenomenal” properties like colours, smells, sounds, when in reality there are no such things. In fact, there cannot be any such things, since phenomenal properties are impossible. Something in our brains causes us to have experiences which represent “extraordinary otherworldly properties”. The whole of conscious experience seems to us like something (...) “magical”; hence the subtitle of the book. (shrink)
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)