With a book as wide ranging and insightful as Barry's Justice as Impartiality, it is perhaps a little churlish to criticize it for paying insufficient attention to one's own particular interests. That said, in what follows I am going to do just that and claim that in an important sense Barry does not take utilitarianism seriously. Utilitarianism does receive some discussion in Barry's book, and in an important section which I will discuss he even appears to concede that utilitarianism provides (...) a rival though ultimately inadequate theory of justice. Nevertheless, utilitarianism is not considered a rival to ‘justice as impartiality’ in the way that ‘justice as mutual advantage’ and ‘justice as reciprocity’ are. One response, and perhaps the only adequate response, would be to construct a rival utilitarian theory. I cannot provide such a theory in this paper, and I certainly would be very cautious about claiming that I could provide such a theory elsewhere. What I want to suggest is that utilitarianism is a genuine third theory to contrast with ‘justice as mutual advantage’ and ‘justice as impartiality’ – ‘justice as reciprocity’ being merely a hybrid of ‘justice as mutual advantage’, at least as Barry presents it. I also want to argue that it poses a more significant challenge to a contractualist theory such as Barry's than his discussion of utilitarianism reveals. (shrink)
Between 1787, and the end of his life in 1832, Bentham turned his attention to the development and application of economic ideas and principles within the general structure of his legislative project. For seventeen years this interest was manifested through a number of books and pamphlets, most of which remained in manuscript form, that develop a distinctive approach to economic questions. Although Bentham was influenced by Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, he (...) neither adopted a Smithian vocabulary for addressing questions of economic principle and policy, nor did he accept many of the distinctive features of Smith's economic theory. One consequence of this was that Bentham played almost no part in the development of the emerging science of political economy in the early nineteenth century. The standard histories of economics all emphasize how little he contributed to the mainstream of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century debate by concentrating attention on his utilitarianism and the psychology of hedonism on which it is premised. Others have argued that the calculating nature of his theory of practical reason reduced the whole legislative project to a crude attempt to apply economics to all aspects of social and political life. Put at its simplest this argument amounts to the erroneous claim that Bentham's science of legislation is reducible to the science of political economy. A different but equally dangerous error would be to argue that because Bentham's conception of the science of legislation comprehends all the basic forms of social relationships, there can be no science of political economy as there is no autonomous sphere of activity governed by the principles of economics. This approach is no doubt attractive from an historical point of view given that the major premise of this argument is true, and that many of Bentham's ‘economic’ arguments are couched in terms of his theory of legislation. Yet it fails to account for the undoubted importance of political economy within Bentham's writings, not just on finance, economic policy, colonies and preventive police, but also in other aspects of his utilitarian public policy such as prison reform, pauper management, and even constitutional reform. All of these works reflect a conception of political economy in its broadest terms. However, this conception of political economy differs in many respects from that of Bentham's contemporaries, and for this reason Bentham's distinctive approach to problems of economics and political economy has largely been misunderstood. (shrink)
Traditionally Hume is seen as offering an ‘empiricist’ critique of ‘rationalism’. This view is often illustrated – or rejected – by comparing Hume's views with those of Descartes'. However the textual evidence shows that Hume's most sustained engagement with a canonical ‘rationalist’ is with Nicolas Malebranche. The author shows that the fundamental differences between the two on the self and causal power do indeed rest on a principled distinction between ‘rationalism’ and ‘empiricism’, and that there is some truth in the (...) traditional story. This, however, is very far from saying that Hume's general orientation is an attack on something called ‘rationalism’. (shrink)
In his paper ‘Has the Ontological Argument Been Refuted?’, 97–110) William F. Vallicella argues that my attempt to show that the Ontological Argument begs the question is unsuccessful. 1 I believe he is wrong about this, but before endeavouring to vindicate my position I must first make clear what precisely is the point at issue between us. The Ontological Argument is not a single argument, but a family of arguments. Newly devised formulations of the argument are frequently put forward by (...) philosophers in an effort to avoid difficulties that have been pointed out in previous versions. As a consequence there is no possibility of a conclusive proof that every form of the argument embodies the same fallacy. Nevertheless, one can, I believe, prove that all the standard versions of the argument embody a certain fallacy and that, given the nature of the argument, it is therefore unlikely that the argument can be formulated in such a way as to avoid this difficulty. What I tried to show in my paper is that the six best-known versions of the argument all beg the question and that they do so at the same point in the argument, namely when it is asserted that it is possible that an absolutely perfect being exists. It is difficult to see how an ontological argument could be formulated without including this claim as one of its premises, since the distinguishing badge of the argument is the inference from the possibility of an absolutely perfect being to its actuality. It must be unlikely then, if my criticism of these six versions is correct, that there is any way of formulating the argument that avoids this fallacy. (shrink)
Theism, according to David O'Connor, has in recent centuries been on trial for its life, the charge being that the existence of so much evil in the world is incompatible with belief in a benevolent creator. But this trial, he claims is incapable of producing a reasoned verdict.
Subtitled "Studies in Ethical Analysis," this collection of eleven essays, most of which have previously appeared in journals, deals with a number of problems central to modern ethical theory: the emotive interpretation of ethical language, persuasive definitions and their role in ethical reasoning, the cognitive versus emotive conceptions of ethics: many of these problems were first raised and examined by Stevenson in his earlier book Ethics and Language. Other essays are of a less retrospective nature: studies on Moore and Dewey, (...) naturalism and relativism in ethics, and a general discussion of the relations of linguistic analysis to philosophy as a whole. Stevenson is mainly concerned with analytical, as opposed to descriptive, ethics; and he completely avoids the topics of normative ethics except for a brief survey. The approach to ethics is therefore restricted, but there is enough here to interest the philosopher whose main area lies outside of ethics; although it presupposes no acquaintance with the author's previous work, some of the questions on emotivism and persuasive language are more motivated when seen in the context of that work.—P. J. M. (shrink)
In recent years, many philosophers of modern physics came to the conclusion that the problem of how objectivity is constituted (rather than merely given) can no longer be avoided, and therefore that a transcendental approach in the spirit of Kant is now philosophically relevant. The usual excuse for skipping this task is that the historical form given by Kant to transcendental epistemology has been challenged by Relativity and Quantum Physics. However, the true challenge is not to force modern physics into (...) a rigidly construed static version of Kant's philosophy, but to provide Kant's method with flexibility and generality. In this book, the top specialists of the field pin down the methodological core of transcendental epistemology that must be used in order to throw light on the foundations of modern physics. First, the basic tools Kant used for his transcendental reading of Newtonian Mechanics are examined, and then early transcendental approaches of Relativistic and Quantum Physics are revisited. Transcendental procedures are also applied to contemporary physics, and this renewed transcendental interpretation is finally compared with structural realism and constructive empiricism. The book will be of interest to scientists, historians and philosophers who are involved in the foundational problems of modern physics. (shrink)
This is the collection of essays presented to Bochenski on his 60th birthday, and it contains, as a mirror of Bochenski's own work, a broad spectrum of studies ranging from formal logic and history of logic, to the philosophy of logic and language, and to the methodology of explanation in Greek philosophy. Of the seventeen articles, these are some of the more important to the reviewer: "Betrachtungen zum Sequenzen Kalkül" by Paul Bernays, which is an extensive study of Gentzen-type formulations (...) of logic; "Remarks on Formal Deduction," H. B. Curry, a further discussion of sequenzen-logics; "Marginalia on Gentzen's Sequenzen Kalkül" by Hughes Leblanc; "Method and Logic in Presocratic Explanation," Jerry Stannard; "On the Logic of Preference and Choice," H. S. Houthakker, a suggestive presentation of decision and utility theory in logical form; "Leibniz's Law in Belief Contexts," Chisholm; "On Ontology and the Province of Logic," R. M. Martin; and "N. A. Vasilev and the Development of Many-valued Logics," G. L. Kline, an important addition to the history of logic. Other contributors are: Storrs McCall, Albert Menne, E. W. Beth, Benson Mates, Ivo Thomas, J. F. Staal, F. R. Barbò, A.-T. Tymieniecka, and N. M. Luyten. There is a bibliography of Bochenski's writings through 1962.—P. J. M. (shrink)