In an oft-quoted passage from The Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham addresses the issue of our treatment of animals with the following words: ‘the question is not, Can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ The point is well taken, for surely if animals suffer, they are legitimate objects of our moral concern. It is curious therefore, given the current interest in the moral status of animals, that Bentham's question has been assumed to be merely (...) rhetorical. No-one has seriously examined the claim, central to arguments for animal liberation and animal rights, that animals actually feel pain. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is perhaps typical in this regard. His treatment of the issue covers a scant seven pages, after which he summarily announces that ‘there are no good reasons, scientific or philosophical, for denying that animals feel pain’. In this paper I shall suggest that the issue of animal pain is not so easily dispensed with, and that the evidence brought forward to demonstrate that animals feel pain is far from conclusive. (shrink)
Written by eminent philosophers from Britain, Europe, America, and Australia, the essays of this collection are a tribute to Peter Winch, whose work is marked by his deep appreciation of the most fundamental aspect of Wittgenstein's legacy: that we cannot detach our concepts from their roots in human life. The voices in this volume unite in different tones of sympathy and criticism by discussing the theme of human conditioning: the human conditioning of what we can find intelligible, possible and (...) impossible, and the suspicion of an illusory transcendence. (shrink)
Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) [‘Abailard’ or ‘Abaelard’ or ‘Habalaarz’ and so on] was the pre-eminent philosopher and theologian of the twelfth century. The teacher of his generation, he was also famous as a poet and a musician. Prior to the recovery of Aristotle, he brought the native Latin tradition in philosophy to its highest pitch. His genius was evident in all he did. He is, arguably, the greatest logician of the Middle Ages and is equally famous (...) as the first great nominalist philosopher. He championed the use of reason in matters of faith (he was the first to use ‘theology’ in its modern sense), and his systematic treatment of religious doctrines are as remarkable for their philosophical penetration and subtlety as they are for their audacity. Abelard seemed larger than life to his contemporaries: his quick wit, sharp tongue, perfect memory, and boundless arrogance made him unbeatable in debate — he was said by supporter and detractor alike never to have lost an argument — and the force of his personality impressed itself vividly on all with whom he came into contact. His luckless affair with Héloïse made him a tragic figure of romance, and his conflict with Bernard of Clairvaux over reason and religion made him the hero of the Enlightenment. For all his colourful life, though, his philosophical achievements are the cornerstone of his fame. (shrink)
Peter Singer is probably the best-known and most controversial ethicist in the world today. He rigorously applies utilitarian moral theory to issues such as world poverty, the environment, abortion, euthanasia and, most famously, animal welfare. He has also written a book about his grandfather, David Oppenheim, who died in Theresienstadt concentration camp. He is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.
Histories of philosophy frequently depict the later eleventh century as the scene of a series of bouts between dialecticians and anti-dialecticians — Berengar vs. Lanfranc, Roscelin vs. Anselm — preliminaries to the twelfth century welterweight contest between Abelard and St. Bernard and — dare one say? — the thirteenth century heavy-weight championship between St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure.The bouts took place — no question about that — but whether the contestants can properly be characterized as dialecticians and anti-dialecticians is less (...) certain. Dialectics is logic, the third part of the trivium, and increasingly cultivated in the eleventh century; men like Berengar and Roscelin were plainly eager to apply the logical tools with which they had been equipped to the solution of intellectual problems. In particular they undertook the solution of certain central problems of theology — Berengar that of the Eucharist and Roscelin that of the Trinity — and it was this, we are told, that aroused the ire of the anti-dialecticians: if the aim of the dialecticians was to lay bare the mysteries of faith to the light of reason that of the anti-dialecticians was to protect those same mysteries from profanation. (shrink)
Serious philosophical reflection on the nature of experiment began in earnest in the seventeenth century. This paper expounds the most influential philosophy of experiment in seventeenth-century England, the Bacon-Boyle-Hooke view of experiment. It is argued that this can only be understood in the context of the new experimental philosophy practised according to the Baconian theory of natural history. The distinctive typology of experiments of this view is discussed, as well as its account of the relation between experiment and theory. This (...) leads into an assessment of other recent discussions of early modern experiment, namely, those of David Gooding, Thomas Kuhn, J.E. Tiles and Peter Dear. (shrink)
This book is a comprehensive development and defense of one of the guiding assumptions of evolutionary psychology: that the human mind is composed of a large number of semi-independent modules. The Architecture of the Mind has three main goals. One is to argue for massive mental modularity. Another is to answer a 'How possibly?' challenge to any such approach. The first part of the book lays out the positive case supporting massive modularity. It also outlines how the thesis should best (...) be developed, and articulates the notion of 'module' that is in question. Then the second part of the book takes up the challenge of explaining how the sorts of flexibility and creativity that are distinctive of the human mind could possibly be grounded in the operations of a massive number of modules.Peter Carruthers's third aim is to show how the various components of the mind are likely to be linked and interact with one another - indeed, this is crucial to demonstrating how the human mind, together with its familiar capacities, can be underpinned by a massively modular set of mechanisms. He outlines and defends the basic framework of a perception / belief / desire / planning / motor-control architecture, as well as detailing the likely components and their modes of connectivity. Many specific claims about the place within this architecture of natural language, of a mind-reading system, and others are explained and motivated. A number of novel proposals are made in the course of these discussions, one of which is that creative human thought depends upon a prior kind of creativity of action.Written with unusual clarity and directness, and surveying an extensive range of research in cognitive science, this book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the nature and organization of the mind. (shrink)
Define ‘het’ as a predicate that truly applies to itself if and only if it does not truly apply to itself and which also truly applies to any predicate that does not truly apply to its own name. We know that the attempted definition of ‘hes’ is a failure, and so a fortiori is that of ‘het’. Similarly, there is no Qussell class which contains itself as a member if and only if it does not contain itself as a member, (...) so a fortiori there is no Russell Class which contains itself as a member if and only if it does not contain itself as a member and which also contains all and only non-self-membered classes (such as the class of dogs). The second conjunct in both the definition of ‘het’ and of the Russell class cannot revive a definition doomed to failure. Likewise, the ‘definition’ of n as ‘n > 1 iff n < 1’ fails, and the attempted definition of m as ‘m > 1 iff m < 1 and m is prime’ is hopeless too; its final clause buys it no respectability. (shrink)
The doyen of living English philosophers, by these reflections, took hold of and changed the outlook of a good many other philosophers, if not quite enough. He did so, essentially, by assuming that talk of freedom and responsibility is talk not of facts or truths, in a certain sense, but of our attitudes. His more explicit concern was to look again at the question of whether determinism and freedom are consistent with one another -- by shifting attention to certain personal (...) rather than moral attitudes, first of all gratitude and resentment. In the end, he arrived at a kind of Compatibilist or, as he says, Optimist conclusion. That is no doubt a recommendation but not the largest recommendation of this splendidly rich piece of philosophy. (shrink)
You don't say much about who you are teaching, or what subject you teach, but you do seem to see a need to justify what you are doing. Perhaps you're teaching underprivileged children, opening their minds to possibilities that might otherwise never have occurred to them. Or maybe you're teaching the children of affluent families and opening their eyes to the big moral issues they will face in life — like global poverty, and climate change. If you're doing something like (...) this, then stick with it. Giving money isn't the only way to make a difference. (shrink)
The concept of mechanism is analyzed in terms of entities and activities, organized such that they are productive of regular changes. Examples show how mechanisms work in neurobiology and molecular biology. Thinking in terms of mechanisms provides a new framework for addressing many traditional philosophical issues: causality, laws, explanation, reduction, and scientific change.
Scientific reasoning is—and ought to be—conducted in accordance with the axioms of probability. This Bayesian view—so called because of the central role it accords to a theorem first proved by Thomas Bayes in the late eighteenth ...
Objectivity in historical perspective Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 11-39 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9597-2 Authors Peter Dear, Department of History, Cornell University, 435 McGraw Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA Ian Hacking, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, 170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5R 2M8, Canada Matthew L. Jones, Department of History, Columbia University, 514 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027, USA Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, (...) Germany Peter Galison, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, Science Center 371, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 1. (shrink)
Alan C. LoveDarwinian calisthenicsAn athlete engages in calisthenics as part of basic training and as a preliminary to more advanced or intense activity. Whether it is stretching, lunges, crunches, or push-ups, routine calisthenics provide a baseline of strength and flexibility that prevent a variety of injuries that might otherwise be incurred. Peter Bowler has spent 40 years doing Darwinian calisthenics, researching and writing on the development of evolutionary ideas with special attention to Darwin and subsequent filiations among scientists exploring (...) evolution . Therefore, we would expect that when Bowler engages in a counterfactual history—imagining a world without Darwin—he is able to avoid historical injury and generate novel insights. My assessment is that the results are mixed. Before we can see why, it is necessary to walk briskly through the main contours of his argument.Bowler begins with an apologia for a counterfactual appr .. (shrink)
This paper praises and criticizes Peter-Paul Verbeek's What Things Do . The four things that Verbeek does well are: remind us of the importance of technological things; bring Karl Jaspers into the conversation on technology; explain how technology "co-shapes" experience by reading Bruno Latour's actor-network theory in light of Don Ihde's post-phenomenology; develop a material aesthetics of design. The three things that Verbeek does not do well are: analyze the material conditions in which things are produced; criticize the social-political (...) design and use context of things; and appreciate how liberal moral-political theory contributes to our evaluation of technology. (shrink)
In these challenging pages, Unger argues for the extreme skeptical view that, not only can nothing ever be known, but no one can ever have any reason at all for anything. A consequence of this is that we cannot ever have any emotions about anything: no one can ever be happy or sad about anything. Finally, in this reduction to absurdity of virtually all our supposed thought, he argues that no one can ever believe, or even say, that anything is (...) the case. (shrink)
Peter Vickers examines 'inconsistent theories' in the history of science--theories which, though contradictory, are held to be extremely useful. He argues that these 'theories' are actually significantly different entities, and warns that the traditional goal of philosophy to make substantial, general claims about how science works is misguided.
Technology permeates nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Cars enable us to travel long distances, mobile phones help us to communicate, and medical devices make it possible to detect and cure diseases. But these aids to existence are not simply neutral instruments: they give shape to what we do and how we experience the world. And because technology plays such an active role in shaping our daily actions and decisions, it is crucial, Peter-Paul Verbeek argues, that we consider (...) the moral dimension of technology. _Moralizing Technology_ offers exactly that: an in-depth study of the ethical dilemmas and moral issues surrounding the interaction of humans and technology. Drawing from Heidegger and Foucault, as well as from philosophers of technology such as Don Ihde and Bruno Latour, Peter-Paul Verbeek locates morality not just in the human users of technology but in the interaction between us and our machines. Verbeek cites concrete examples, including some from his own life, and compellingly argues for the morality of _things_. Rich and multifaceted, and sure to be controversial, _Moralizing Technology_ will force us all to consider the virtue of new inventions and to rethink the rightness of the products we use every day. (shrink)
The concept of human nature usually enters discussions of the nature and implications of the social sciences in connection with one or another form of ‘relativism’. Confronted with the enormous and apparently conflicting variety of phenomena of human life at different places and times, we are inclined to ask whether there is not something which holds these phenomena together and unifies them. Stated thus baldly this question is no doubt so vague as to approach meaninglessness; it will have to be (...) posed in different forms — and probably answered differently – according to the particular phenomena of human life which we happen to have in mind. In this lecture I shall concentrate my attention on some questions about the relevance of sociological investigations to our understanding of ethics and about the treatment of ethics in such investigations. I shall be particularly interested in the way in which the concept of human nature enters into such discussions; and I shall devote a good deal of attention to Professor Alasdair Maclntyre's recent Short History of Ethics. It is a large merit of this book that it explicitly and invigoratingly relates the manner of its historical exposition to a distinctive philosophico-sociological standpoint concerning the nature of morality. I call this a ‘merit’ and want to stand by that characterisation even though I think that there are important confusions enshrined in Maclntyre's approach. A large part of the task which I want to set myself in this lecture is to make clear the nature and importance of these confusions. (shrink)
The topic of personal identity has prompted some of the liveliest and most interesting debates in recent philosophy. In a fascinating new contribution to the discussion, Peter Unger presents a psychologically aimed, but physically based, account of our identity over time. While supporting the account, he explains why many influential contemporary philosophers have underrated the importance of physical continuity to our survival, casting a new light on the work of Lewis, Nagel, Nozick, Parfit, Perry, Shoemaker, and others. Deriving from (...) his discussion of our identity itself, Unger produces a novel but commonsensical theory of the relations between identity and some of our deepest concerns. In a conservative but flexible spirit, he explores the implications of his theory for questions of value and of the good life. (shrink)
The problems dealt with in The Idea of a Social Science are philosophical. It is an attempt to place the social science, considered as a single group, on the intellectual map, with special attention to the relations of the discipline to philosophy on the one hand and the natural sciences on the other. The author holds that the relation between the social sciences and philosophy is commonly misunderstood because of certain fashionable misconceptions about the nature of philosophy, and because of (...) an incorrect assessment of the significance of some of Wittgenstein's contributions. He discusses the influence of the natural sciences on our conception of the social sciences and examines some of the most influential ideas of J.S. Mill, Pareto and Max Weber. (shrink)
This bold and original work of philosophy presents an exciting new picture of concrete reality. Peter Unger provocatively breaks with what he terms the conservatism of present-day philosophy, and returns to central themes from Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Russell. Wiping the slate clean, Unger works, from the ground up, to formulate a new metaphysic capable of accommodating our distinctly human perspective. He proposes a world with inherently powerful particulars of two basic sorts: one mental but not physical, the (...) other physical but not mental. Whether of one sort or the other, each individual possesses powers for determining his or her own course, as well as powers for interaction with other individuals. It is only a purely mental particular--an immaterial soul, like yourself--that is ever fit for real choosing, or for conscious experiencing. Rigorously reasoning that the only satisfactory metaphysic is one that situates the physical alongside the non-physical, Unger carefully explains the genesis of, and continual interaction of, the two sides of our deeply dualistic world. Written in an accessible and entertaining style, while advancing philosophical scholarship, All the Power in the World takes readers on a philosophical journey into the nature of reality. In this riveting intellectual adventure, Unger reveals the need for an entirely novel approach to the nature of physical reality--and shows how this approach can lead to wholly unexpected possibilities, including disembodied human existence for billions of years. All the Power in the World returns philosophy to its most ambitious roots in its fearless attempt to answer profoundly difficult human questions about ourselves and our world. (shrink)
To the realists.—You sober people who feel well armed against passion and fantasies and would like to turn your emptiness into a matter of pride and ornament: you call yourselves realists and hint that the world really is the way it appears to you. As if reality stood unveiled before you only, and you yourselves were perhaps the best part of it … But in your unveiled state are not even you still very passionate and dark creatures compared to fish, (...) and still far too similar to an artist in love? And what is ‘reality’ for an artist in love? You are still burdened with those estimates of things that have their origin in the passions and loves of former centuries. Your sobriety still contains a secret and inextinguishable drunkenness. Your love of ‘reality’, for example-—oh, that is a primeval ‘love’ … Subtract the phantasm and every human contribution from it, my sober friends! If you can! If you can forget your descent, your past, your training—all of your humanity and animality. (shrink)
In this short but meaty book, Peter Unger questions the objective answers that have been given to central problems in philosophy. As Unger hypothesizes, many of these problems are unanswerable, including the problems of knowledge and scepticism, the problems of free will, and problems of causation and explanation. In each case, he argues, we arrive at one answer only relative to an assumption about the meaning of key terms, terms like "know" and like "cause," even while we arrive at (...) an opposite answer relative to quite different assumptions, but equally arbitrary assumptions, about what the key terms mean. (shrink)