I describe and defend the view in a philosophy of mind that I call 'Normative Essentialism', according to which propositional attitudes have normative essences. Those normative essences are 'horizontal' rational requirements, by which I mean the requirement to have certain propositional attitudes given other propositional attitudes. Different propositional attitudes impose different horizontal rational requirements. I distinguish a stronger and a weaker version of this doctrine and argue for the weaker version. I explore the consequences for knowledge of mind, and I (...) then consider objections to the view from mental causation, from empirical psychology, and from animals and small children. (shrink)
I consider the metaphysical consequences of the view that propositional attitudes have essential normative properties. I argue that realism should take a weak rather than a strong form. I argue that expressivism cannot get off the ground. And I argue that eliminativism is self-refuting.
I argue against motivational internalism. First I recharacterise the issue over moral motivation. Second I describe the indifference argument against motivation internalism. Third I consider appeals to irrationality that are often made in the face of this argument, and I show that they are ineffective. Lastly, I draw the motivational externalist conclusion and reflect on the nature of the issue.
I argue that an evaluational conception of love collides with the way we value love. That way allows that love has causes, but not reasons, and it recognizes and celebrates a love that refuses to justify itself. Love has unjustified selectivity, due to its arbitrary causes. That imposes a non-tradability norm. A love for reasons, rational love or evaluational love would be propositional, and it therefore allows that the people we love are tradable commodities. A moralized conception of love is (...) no less committed to treating those we love as tradable commodities; it is just that they are tradable moral commodities. An evaluative criterion of adequacy, I suggest, encourages the opposite view ? a non-rational and non-evaluational concept of love. Such a love can set up partial obligations, which may even demand that one sacrifice one's life. Only a love that has causes but not reasons can have the kind of value that we think love has, and thus it would only be rational to pursue and foster such a love. (shrink)
“Motivational externalism” is the externalism until they see more of what view that moral judgements have no motisuch a theory would be like. The mere posvational efficacy in themselves, and that sibility of such a theory is not sufficiently when they motivate us, the source of motireassuring, even given strong arguments vation lies outside the moral judgement in against the opposite position. For there may a separate desire. Motivational externalism also be objections to externalism. contrasts with “motivational internalism,” Moral philosophers (...) have not spent much which is either the view that our moral effort spelling out the details of an exterjudgements are partly constituted by motinalist model of moral motivation. Those vation, or else that they would be if we who have endorsed externalism include were rational. The major problem for mo- Philippa Foot, Michael Stocker, David tivational internalism—in either guise—is Brink, Al Mele, Sigrún Svavarsdóttir, and that it flies in the face of common obsermyself (Foot 1972, Stocker 1979, Brink vation and first-personal experience of the 1989, 1997, Mele 1996, Svavarsdóttir fact that we can, without irrationality, be 1999, Zangwill 1999). But even these phiindifferent to morality. Philippa Foot piolosophers concentrated mostly on arguing neered this argument (Foot 1972). The pheagainst internalism or defending moral renomenon of indifference encourages alism rather than articulating the externalist motivational externalism. alternative. As a consequence, it is not clear This paper will not revisit this difficulty how the externalism that can be gleaned for internalism, but will travel in the opfrom these writings can be defended posite dialectical direction. The aim is to against various objections to externalism. expound and defend externalism, not to This paper is concerned to fashion an atargue against internalism. This paper will tractive version of externalism, and show address, and try to soothe away, the reluchow it evades objections. tance of many philosophers to embrace In section 1, a particular version of motimotivational externalism.. (shrink)
I foreground the principle of epistemic dependence. I isolate that relation and distinguish it from other relations and note what it does and does not entail. In particular, I distinguish between dependence and necessitation. This has many interesting consequences. On the negative side, many standard arguments in epistemology are subverted. More positively, once we are liberated from the necessary and sufficient conditions project, many fruitful paths for future epistemological investigation open up. I argue that that not being defeated does not (...) make for knowledge. And I argue for the multiple realization of epistemic properties in non-epistemic properties. (shrink)
What is the purpose of art? What drives us to make it? Why do we value it? Nick Zangwill argues that the function of art is to have certain aesthetic properties in virtue of its non-aesthetic properties, and this function arises because of the artist's insight into the nature of these dependence relations and her intention to bring them about.
What is the relation between moral and natural properties? And how do we conceive of this relation? By ‘moral’ properties I will mean properties such as being evil, just or virtuous or having duties or rights; and by ‘natural’ properties I will mean properties such as psychological, sociological and physical properties.1 Suppose we judge that Queen Isabella of Spain was evil in 1492, or at least that many of her actions in 1492 were evil. Then we do not think that (...) she had various natural properties in 1492 such as being a torturer, a bigot and desiring other’s pain and by an astounding coincidence she or her actions also had the moral property of evil. Rather, we think that she or her.. (shrink)
I argue that Hanslick was right to think that music should not be understood in terms of emotion. In particular, it is not essential to music to possess emotions, arouse emotions, express emotions, or represent emotions. All such theories are misguided.
Abstract: This article addresses a number of difficulties and complications in the standard formulations of motivational internalism, and considers what besires might be in the light of those difficulties and complications. Two notions of besire are then distinguished, before considering how different kinds of motivational internalism and different conceptions of besire fare against the significant argument that we may be indifferent to the demands of morality without irrationality.
I explore the Because Constraint—the idea that moral facts depend on natural facts and that moral judgements ought to respect the dependence of moral facts on natural facts. I consider several issues concerning its clarification and importance.
I defend moderate formalism about the aesthetics of nature. I argue that anti-formalists cannot account for the incongruousness of much natural beauty. This shows that some natural beauty is not kind-dependent. I then tackle several anti-formalist arguments that can be found in the writings of Ronald Hepburn, Allen Carlson, and Malcolm Budd.
Aesthetic Formalism has fallen on hard times. At best it receives unsympathetic discussion and swift rejection. At worst it is the object of abuse and derision. But I think that there is something to be said for it. In this paper, I shall try to find and secure the truth in formalism. I shall not try to defend formalism against all of the objections to it.1 Instead I shall articulate a moderate formalist view that draws on aesthetic0nonaesthetic determination and Kant’s (...) distinction between free and dependent beauty. I shall examine four central art forms—painting, sculpture, lit-. (shrink)
I defend extreme formalism about the aesthetics of inorganic nature. I outline the general issue over aesthetic formalism as it manifests itself in the visual arts. The main issue is over whether we need to know about the history of artworks in order to appreciate them aesthetically. I then turn to nature and concede that with organic nature we need to know a thing's biological kinds if we are fully to appreciate it. However, with in organic nature I deny that (...) we need to know the deeper nature of the things we experience. What is important, I argue, are the appearances of those things not their real natures. I consider the beauty of clouds, which depends on an illusion of solidity, and I argue that scientific knowledge does not reveal beauty that is not available to the ignoramous. There is only the beauty of appearances, and it does not matter whether those appearances are accurate or illusory. (shrink)
That knowledge does not depend on truth is a consequence of a basic principle concerning dependence applied to the case of knowledge: that A depends on C, and that B depends on C, do not mean that A depends on B. This is a standard causal scenario, where two things with a common cause are not themselves causally dependent. Similarly, knowledge that p depends in part on some combination of the belief that p, the fact that p and the proposition (...) that p, and perhaps other facts or even objects. Truth depends on a proper sub-class of the elements on which knowledge depends. It does not follow that knowledge depends on truth, and the idea that it does is implausible. (shrink)
In sum, the non-cognitivist account of motivation is far from unproblematic. The non-cognitivist has trouble telling us what moral attitudes are in a way that is consistent with the phenomenon of variable motivation. Given that the cognitivist has an easy explanation of variable motivation, it seems that cognitivism is preferable to non-cognitivism on the score of motivation, which is a reversal of the way the issue is usually perceived.
Beauty is an important part of our lives. Ugliness too. It is no surprise then that philosophers since antiquity have been interested in our experiences of and judgments about beauty and ugliness. They have tried to understand the nature of these experiences and judgments, and they have also wanted to know whether these experiences and judgments were legitimate. Both these projects took a sharpened form in the twentieth century, when this part of our lives came under a sustained attack in (...) both European and American intellectual circles. Much of the discourse about beauty since the Eighteenth century had deployed a notion of the ‘aesthetic’, and so that notion in particular came in for criticism. This disdain for the aesthetic may have roots in a broader cultural Puritanism, which fears the connection between the aesthetic and pleasure. Even to suggest, in the recent climate, that an artwork might be good because it is pleasurable, as opposed to cognitively, morally or politically beneficial, is to court derision. The twentieth century has not been kind to the notions of beauty or the aesthetic. Nevertheless, some thinkers — philosophers, as well as others in the study of particular arts — have persisted in thinking about beauty and the aesthetic in a traditional way. In the first part of this essay, I look at the particular rich account of judgments of beauty given to us by Immanuel Kant. The notion of a ‘judgment of taste’ is central to Kant's account and also to virtually everyone working in traditional aesthetics; so I begin by examining Kant's characterisation of the judgment of taste. In the second part, I look at the issues that twentieth century thinkers have raised. I end by drawing on Kant's accout of the judgement of taste to consider whether the notion of the aesthetic is viable. (shrink)
Most of the debate for and against aesthetic formalism in the twentieth century has been little more than a sequence of assertions, on both sides. But there is one discussion that stands out for its argumentative subtlety and depth, and that is Kendall Walton’s paper ‘Categories of Art’.1 In what follows I shall defend a certain version of formalism against the antiformalist arguments which Walton deploys. I want to show that while Walton’s arguments do indeed create insurmountable diﬃculties for an (...) extreme version of formalism, he has not shown that a moderate version is problematic or inadequate. (I have no space to address anti-formalist arguments other than Walton’s.2) I shall defend moderate formalism rather than put forward positive considerations in its favour, although some of its attractions will become apparent as a side-eﬀect. I pursue the positive case for moderate formalism elsewhere.3 I. FORMAL PROPERTIES AND FORMALISMS I.1. Walton begins his paper by raising an issue about whether those who make aesthetic judgements should only be concerned with what can be directly perceived in works of art. The issue of formalism has often been described in these terms. But Walton rightly distances himself from setting up a debate in that way. He moves on to take as his target the view that ‘Circumstances connected with a work’s origin ... have no essential bearing on an assessment of its aesthetic nature’ (p. 334). (shrink)
Music is elusive. describing it is problematic. In particular its aesthetic properties cannot be captured in literal description. Beyond very simple terms, they cannot be literally described. In this sense, the aesthetic description of music is essentially nonliteral. An adequate aesthetic description of music must have resort to metaphor or other nonliteral devices. I maintain that this is because of the nature of the aesthetic properties being described. I defend this view against an apparently simple objection put by Malcolm Budd. (...) dealing with this objection will take us into some surprising terrain. We are led to consider issues concerning privacy and the language for describing sensations. In the light of these considerations, I develop the essentially nonliteralist thesis and explore some of its consequences. (shrink)
Many recent aestheticians have criticized the notion of disinterest. The aestheticians in question take the notion to have a vaguely Kantian pedigree. And in attacking this notion, they think of themselves as attempting to remove a cornerstone of Kant’s aesthetics. This procedure is hardly likely to be effective if what they attack bears little resemblance to Kant’s original notion. In this brief note, I want to show how far these anti-Kantian aestheticians have missed their mark.
Metaphysics-—the enquiry into the constitution of reality-seems like the very crown of philosophy. What could be more exciting, more important, and more substantive than the pursuit of such a discipline? The majority of philosophers have been content to assume that metaphysics is a viable enterprise; they have held various metaphysical views and engaged in metaphysical arguments. But there has always been a small but persistent maverick minority of philosophers who have cast aspersions on the whole undertaking. Metaphysics, they tell us, (...) cannot be what it seems. There is something desperately wrong at the heart of the discipline. The jewel is a fake; it is in fact worthless glass. Philosophers make a lot of noise about metaphysics, but perhaps there are really no genuine metaphysical issues—only a lot of bogus hot air. Perhaps metaphysics is a meaningless tale told by idiot philosophers—full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. These pessimistic philosophers may have been few, but they rank among their numbers no less than Wittgenstein, the positivists, and perhaps Kant. So the attitude is to be taken seriously. (shrink)
I defend the view that morality depends on God against the Euthyphro dilemma by arguing that the reasons that God has for determining the moral-natural dependencies might be personal reasons that have non-moral content. I deflect the 'arbitrary whim' worry, but I concede that the account cannot extend to the goodness of God and His will. However, human moral-natural dependencies can be explained by God's will. So a slightly restricted version of divine commandment theory is defensible.
I argue against the analytic moral functionalist view propounded by Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit. I focus on the ‘input’ clauses of our alleged ‘folk moral theory’. I argue that the examples they give of such input clauses cannot plausibly be interpreted as analytic truths. They are in fact substantive moral claims about the moral ‘domain’. It is a substantive claim that all human beings have equal moral standing. There are those who have rejected this, such as Herman Göring. He (...) was loyal to a sub-class of humankind, but he suffered no conceptual confusion. Claims about what is morally relevant are substantive claims that cannot be known on purely conceptual grounds. (shrink)
I defend logical realism. I begin by motivating the realist approach by underlining the difficulties for its main rival: inferentialism. I then focus on AND and OR, and delineate a realist view of these two logical constants. The realist view is developed in terms of Alexander’s Principleshowing that AND and OR have distinctive determining roles. After that, I say what logic is not. We should not take logic to be essentially about the mind, or language, or exclusively about an abstract (...) realm, or about reasoning, truth, truth-tables, truth-functions, topic-neutrality or form. Lastly, I turn to consider NEGATION and argue that we cannot escape negative facts, and facts conjoining and disjoining negative facts with positive facts. I then give NEGATION a distinctive role, one that contrasts with AND and OR. I reflect on the notion of logic in the coda. (shrink)
We describe music in terms of emotion. How should we understand this? Some say that emotion descriptions should be understood literally. Let us call those views “literalist.” By contrast “nonliteralists” deny this and say that such descriptions are typically metaphorical.1 This issue about the linguistic description of music is connected with a central issue about the na- ture of music. That issue is whether there is any essential connection between music and emotion. According to what we can call “emotion theories,” (...) it is essential to music to be somehow related to real emotion. Prominent examples of such theories are these: it is the main function of all or most music to express emotions, to arouse emotions, or to represent emotions. 2 In my view, such theories have little plausibility, and they face a battery of powerful objections. In particular, these theories are objectionable on the grounds that essential features of emotion preclude such essential relations between music and emotion. 3 Yet to argue against various specific emotion theories of music, of which there is a large variety, does not address the reasons that draw people to emotion theories. I think that there are two main reasons. The first is that the most obvious explanation of why we describe music in emotion terms is that emotions, or relations to emotions, are part of what music is. The second reason is introspective, or phenomenological—that much music moves us when we listen to it, so it seems that music generates emotions in us, which we project onto the music when we describe it in emotion terms. In this article, my negative purpose is to dissolve these two reasons. My positive purpose is to argue for a particular nonliteralist view of linguistic descriptions of music in terms of emotion, a.. (shrink)
Response-dependent theories of morality are currently popular. I suspect that this is because they combine ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ elements in an appealing way. Such theories seem to do justice to the idea that morality is out there to be known, at the same time as connecting moral judgements with our affective and motivational states. However, I shall argue that all response-dependent theories of morality are irretrievably ﬂawed.
I defend extreme formalism about inorganic nature against arguments put forward by Glenn Parsons. I begin by laying out the general issue over aesthetic formalism, and I describe the position of extreme formalism about inorganic nature. I then reconsider -Ronald Hepburn's beach/seabed example. Next I discuss the notions of function in play in our thinking about inorganic nature. And lastly I consider Parsons's flooding river example. I conclude that extreme formalism about inorganic nature is safe from Parsons's arguments.
I argue that people do not and cannot have religious experiences that are perceptual experiences with theological content and that provide some justification for the belief in God. I discuss William Alston's resourceful defence of this idea. My strategy is to say that religious perception would either have to be by means of one of the ordinary five senses or else by means of some special sixth religious sense. In either case insoluble epistemological problems arise. The problem is with perceiving (...) God as God, which we need to do if reasons to believe in God are to be generated. To do so, we would have to perceive the instantiation of His essential properties – being all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. But perceiving the instantiation of these properties of God, even by some special sixth religious sense, is impossible. Hence, God cannot be perceived either by the ordinary five senses or by a sixth religious sense. Religious perceptual experiences are a myth. (Published Online February 17 2004). (shrink)
Must mental properties figure in psychological causal laws if they are causally efficacious? And do those psychological causal laws give the essence of mental properties? Contrary to the prevailing consensus, I argue that, on the usual conception of laws that is in play in these debates, there are in fact lawless causally efficacious properties both in and out of the philosophy of mind. I argue that this makes a great difference to the philosophical relevance of empirical psychology. I begin by (...) making the case that revolutions and hurricanes are lawless phenomena, before arguing for a similar thesis about creativity, love, courage, dreams, daydreams, and musings. Furthermore, the empirical research on thesc phenomena suggests that the philosophical issues may be independent of what empirical psychology can tell us. (shrink)
I exist. That is something I know. Most philosophers think that Descartes was right that each of us knows that we exist. Furthermore most philosophers agree with Descartes that there is something special about how we know it. Agreement ends there. There is little agreement about exactly what is special about this knowledge. I shall present an account that is in some respects Cartesian in spirit, although I shall not pursue interpretive questions very far. On this account, I know that (...) I exist a priori; and I shall advance an explanation of how this a priori knowledge is possible and actual. I then consider the question of whether the belief that I exist is justified and, if so, how. I argue that the situation is different in important ways from the knowledge that I exist. (shrink)
Philosophers have often wanted to state a principled way of demarcating empirical from non-empirical thought. This was a major concern of the Vienna Circle. In my view, this is an important intellectual project. Although it is not so common now to address the issue directly, it hovers in the background of many discussions. Non-empirical thought comes in different kinds. Perhaps some is a priori. Common candidates are mathematical, logical, modal and moral thought. Some non-empirical thought might be non-cognitive. Common candidates (...) are moral, aesthetic and religious thought. Or some non-empirical thought might be pseudo-empirical. Common candidates are astrological, theistic, Marxist or psychoanalytic thought; such thought masquerades as empirical, but in fact is not. These are all ways that thought can fail to be empirical. Here I shall focus for the most part on the case of morality, where there has been a lively debate about the empirical status of moral thought. I shall probe the prospects for a demarcation principle that can be used to decide whether or not moral thought is empirical. Some philosophers have recently presented what seems like a compelling case for thinking that moral thought is empirical, and so engaging with their arguments will raise the issue of what the empirical/nonempirical distinction amounts to, and also the issue of how to tell which forms of thought are empirical and which are not. (shrink)
In his paper "Supervenience Revisisted", Simon Blackburn redeployed his novel modal argument against moral realism as an argument against Donald Davidson's position of 'anomalous monism' in the philosophy of mind (Blackburn 1985).' I shall assess this redeployment. In the first part of this paper, I shall lay out Blackburn's argument. In the second and longer part I shall examine Davidson's denial of psychophysical laws in the light of this argument.