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)
By contributing a few hundred dollars to a charity like UNICEF, a prosperous person can ensure that fewer poor children die, and that more will live reasonably long, worthwhile lives. Even when knowing this, however, most people send nothing, and almost all of the rest send little. What is the moral status of this behavior? To such common cases of letting die, our untutored response is that, while it is not very good, neither is the conduct wrong. What is the (...) source of this lenient assessment? In this contentious new book, one of our leading philosophers argues that our intuitions about ethical cases are generated not by basic moral values, but by certain distracting psychological dispositions that all too often prevent us from reacting in accord with our commitments. Through a detailed look at how these tendencies operate, Unger shows that, on the good morality that we already accept, the fatally unhelpful behavior is monstrously wrong. By uncovering the eminently sensible ethics that we've already embraced fully, and by confronting us with empirical facts and with easily followed instructions for lessening serious suffering appropriately and effectively, Unger's book points the way to a compassionate new moral philosophy. (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)
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)
During the middle of the twentieth century, philosophers generally agreed that, by contrast with science, philosophy should offer no substantial thoughts about the general nature of concrete reality. Instead, philosophers offered conceptual truths. It is widely assumed that, since 1970, things have changed greatly.
Traditionally it has been thought that scientific controversies can always be resolved on the basis of empirical data. Recently, however, social constructionists have claimed that the outcome of scientific debates is strongly influenced by non-evidential factors such as the rhetorical prowess and professional clout of the participants. This volume of previously unpublished essays by well-known philosophers of science presents historical studies and philosophical analyses that undermine the plausibility of an extreme social constructionist perspective while also indicating the need for a (...) richer and more realistic account of scientific rationality. (shrink)
The current research applied a mid-level evolutionary theory that has been successfully employed across numerous animal species—life history theory—in an attempt to understand the Dark Triad personality trait cluster (narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism). In Study 1 (N = 246), a measure of life history strategy was correlated with psychopathy, but unexpectedly with neither Machiavellianism nor narcissism. Study 2 (N = 321) replicated this overall pattern of results using longer, traditional measures of the Dark Triad traits and alternative, future-discounting indicators of (...) life history strategy (a smaller-sooner, larger-later monetary dilemma and self-reported risk-taking behaviors). Additional findings suggested two sources of shared variance across the Dark Triad traits: confidence in predicting future outcomes and openness to short-term mating. (shrink)
Theories of Theories of Mind brings together contributions by a distinguished international team of philosophers, psychologists, and primatologists, who between them address such questions as: what is it to understand the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of other people? How does such an understanding develop in the normal child? Why, unusually, does it fail to develop? And is any such mentalistic understanding shared by members of other species? The volume's four parts together offer a state of the art survey of the (...) major topics in the theory-theory/simulationism debate within philosophy of mind, developmental psychology, the aetiology of autism and primatology. The volume will be of great interest to researchers and students in all areas interested in the 'theory of mind' debate. (shrink)
For some fifty years now, nearly all work in mainstream analytic philosophy has made no serious attempt to understand the _nature of_ _physical reality,_ even though most analytic philosophers take this to be all of reality, or nearly all. While we've worried much about the nature of our own experiences and thoughts and languages, we've worried little about the nature of the vast physical world that, as we ourselves believe, has them all as only a small part.
Emerging as a hot topic in the mid-twentieth century, causality is one of the most frequently discussed issues in contemporary philosophy. Causality has been a central concept in philosophy as well as in the sciences, especially the natural sciences, dating back to its beginning in Greek thought. David Hume famously claimed that causality is the cement of the universe. In general terms, it links eventualities, predicts the consequences of action, and is the cognitive basis for the acquisition and the use (...) of categories and concepts in the child. Indeed, how could one answer why-questions, around which early rational thought begins to revolve, without hitting on the relationships between reason and consequence, cause and effect, or without drawing these distinctions? But a comprehensive definition of causality has been notoriously hard to provide, and virtually every aspect of causation has been subject to much debate and analysis. _Thinking about Causes_ brings together top philosophers from the United States and Europe to focus on causality as a major force in philosophical and scientific thought. Topics addressed include: ancient Stoicism and moral philosophy; the case of sacramental causality; traditional causal concepts in Descartes; Kant on transcendental laws; the influence of J. S. Mill's politics on his concept of causation; plurality in causality; causality in modern physics; causality in economics; and the concept of free will. Taken together, the essays in this collection provide the best current thinking about causality, especially as it relates to the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Courts and commentators have struggled for years to identify rules to explain and justify certain widely-shared intuitions about impossibility attempts, and they have proposed rules variously based upon (1) what mistakes actors make, (2) what intentions actors possess, and (3) what conduct actors perform. None of the proposals fully succeeds, however, and none is able to explain the widely-shared intuition, which underlies Sandy Kadish's inventive hypothetical regarding Mr. Law and Mr. Fact, that some attempts based upon mistakes of law are (...) just as blameworthy as attempts based upon mistakes of fact. I propose an alternative rule that, I believe, not only explains where and why people possess widely-shared intuitions regarding impossibility attempts (including regarding Mr. Law and Mr. Fact), but also explains where and why people have conflicting intuitions. I argue that widely-shared intuitions of blameworthiness and non-blameworthiness regarding impossibility attempts are a function, respectively, of whether informed citizens of the jurisdiction that enacted the statutory offense that the defendant allegedly attempted to commit widely believe or disbelieve that he would have been a threat to interests that the statute seeks to protect - a determination, in turn, that is a function of whether they widely believe or disbelieve that he would have committed the offense under counterfactual circumstances that they fear could have obtained. (shrink)
Violence in schools is a pervasive, highly emotive and, above all, global problem. Bullying and its negative social consequences are of perennial concern, while the media regularly highlights incidences of violent assault - and even murder - occurring within schools. This unique and fascinating text offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of how European nations are tackling this serious issue. _Violence in Schools: The Response in Europe_, brings together contributions from all EU member states and two associated states. Each chapter (...) begins by clearly outlining the nature of the school violence situation in that country. It then goes on to describe those social policy initiatives and methods of intervention being used to address violence in schools and evaluates the effectiveness of these different strategies. Commentaries from Australia, Israel and the USA and an overview of the book's main themes by eminent psychologist Peter K. Smith complete a truly international and authoritative look at this important - and frequently controversial - subject. This book constitutes an invaluable resource for educational administrators, policymakers and researchers concerned with investigating, and ultimately addressing, the social and psychological causes, manifestations and effects of school violence. (shrink)
In this study, we replicated what is known about the relative importance of dealbreakers and dealmakers in romantic and sexual relationships and extended it to an examination of self-reports of mate value, self-esteem, and loneliness. In two experiments we manipulated the information people were told about potential partners and asked them about their intentions to have sex again with or go on a second date with opposite sex targets. People were less interested in partners after learning dealbreakers, effects which operated (...) more strongly in the long-term than short-term context, but similarly in men and women. People who reported less self-esteem or more loneliness were more receptive to people with dealbreakers. People who thought they had more mate value, more self-esteem, or less loneliness were more receptive to dealmakers. Results are discussed using sociometer, prospect, and sexual strategies theories. (shrink)
In _The Metaphysics of Media_, award-winning media critic Peter K. Fallon tackles the complicated question of how a succession of dominant forms of media have supported—and even to some extent created—different conceptions of reality. To do so, he starts with the basics: a critical discussion of the very idea of objective reality and the various postmodern responses that have tended to dominate recent philosophical approaches to the subject. From there, he embarks on a survey of the evolution of communication (...) through four major eras: orality; literacy; print; and electricity. Within each era, Fallon argues, the dominant form of media supported particular ways of understanding the world, from the ascendance of reason that followed the development of alphabets to the obliteration of space and time that we associate with electronic communications. Fallon concludes with a hard look at the mass ignorance that prevails today despite the sea of information with which contemporary life is surrounded. A stirring, philosophically rich investigation, _The Metaphysics of Media_ offers not only a clear picture of where our society has been but also a road map to a more engaged, informed, and fully human future. (shrink)
The idea that sociology has the status of a strict science—that is, that sociology, like mathematics, has at its disposal a well-founded, deductive system of propositions—is nowadays rejected even more by its pragmatic advocates than by its skeptical practitioners; it is refuted both by the arbitrary manipulation of sociology’s internally constitutive, theoretical interconnections at the hands of practical interests and technocratic utility, and by the resultant increasing relativization of its findings. However, as we shall see, the arbitrariness of the treatment (...) of sociology does not correspond with any arbitrariness in its object. On the contrary, with all empirical relativity a structural constancy persists in the agency constructing, comparing, and evaluating the experience of the everyday world, as well as scientific experience. This was precisely Kant’s discovery, that the conditions making possible our primary experience of objects must be, at the same time, the constitutive structure of the objects themselves, and also the framework for the scientifically systematic treatment of them, because otherwise there could be no knowledge in the sense of the structural identification of object, experience, and reflection. This Kantian principle guarantees, then, that sociology is indeed possible as a strict science; that is, it is completely possible as an integral, deductive aspect of theory, as long as we reconstruct, by means of axioms and postulates, the constitution of the object of theory out of the structure of our direct interpersonal experience. In this vein, Rene König, a pioneer in modern German social science, states. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that about 7,000 languages are spoken across the world today and at least half may no longer be spoken by the end of this century. This state-of-the-art Handbook examines the reasons behind this dramatic loss of linguistic diversity, why it matters, and what can be done to document and support endangered languages. The volume is relevant not only to researchers in language endangerment, language shift and language death, but to anyone interested in the languages and cultures (...) of the world. It is accessible both to specialists and non-specialists: researchers will find cutting-edge contributions from acknowledged experts in their fields, while students, activists and other interested readers will find a wealth of readable yet thorough and up-to-date information. (shrink)
This paper outlines an interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s remark in the _Big Typescript_ in which he compares the philosopher bewitched by the workings of language to “the suffering of an ascetic”. The interpretation takes as its starting point Friedrich Nietzsche’s terse account of the philosopher, the history of philosophy, and his diagnosis of ascetic self-misunderstanding, from the Third Essay, “What do ascetic ideals mean?”, in _On the Genealogy of Morality_. In its assumption of an affinity between Wittgenstein’s remark and Nietzsche’s (...) descriptions, and in its analysis, this paper introduces a “method of voice borrowing” to approach the question: “Wittgenstein and Nietzsche?” The juxtaposition of Wittgenstein’s conception of the philosopher’s linguistic self-misunderstanding with Nietzsche’s notion of the ascetic self-misunderstanding leads finally to the question of what is gained by introducing this method, and hence by reading Wittgenstein’s remark on the suffering of an ascetic with the help of Nietzsche’s voice. (shrink)
In everyday life people frequently recognize that a person at a time may be more or less strongly motivated to carry out an intentional action and that “trying harder” frequently affects the successful completion of an intentional action. In “Rational Choice and Action Omnipotence,” John Pollock provides an original account of rational choice in which “trying to do an action” is a basic factor. This paper argues that Pollock’s “expected-utility optimality prescription” is deficient because it lacks a parameter for intensity (...) of trying. The paper also indicates specific ways in which this deficiency could be corrected. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s remarks on Frazer’s The Golden Bough were first edited and published in 1967 by Rush Rhees as Wittgenstein’s Bemerkungen über Frazers ‘The Golden Bough’. However, there is another edition, called Ludwig Wittgenstein: Remarks on Frazer’s Anthropology, edited and translated by Kenneth Laine Ketner and James Leroy Eigsti. In this paper I outline at least part of the history of this edition. At the same time, I shall describe some of the characteristic features of the Ketner and Eigsti edition. This (...) presentation takes as its point of departure the correspondence contained in the box “Wittgenstein 143” at the von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives, consisting of twelve letters that passed between Ketner and Eigsti, G.E.M. Anscombe, Rhees, and G.H. von Wright in 1972 and 1973. The presentation will also indirectly throw light on a number of issues concerning the editorial principles applied in publishing Wittgenstein’s remarks. (shrink)
This essay attempts to implement epistemic logic through a non-classical inference relation. Given that relation, an account of '(the individual) a knows that A' is constructed as an unfamiliar non-normal modal logic. One advantage to this approach is a new analysis of the skeptical argument.
The various aesthetic phenomena found repeatedly in the scientific enterprise stem from the role of God as artist. If the Creator is an artist, how and why natural scientists study the divine art work can be understood using theological aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The aesthetic phenomena considered here are as follows. First, science reveals beauty and the sublime in natural phenomena. Second, science discovers beauty and the sublime in the theories that are developed to explain natural phenomena. Third, (...) the search for beauty often guides scientists in their work. Fourth, where beauty is perceived, feelings of the sublime often also follow upon further contemplation. This linkage of beauty in science with truth and the sublime runs counter to most aesthetic theory since Kant. Scholarship in theological aesthetics has recently argued that the modern and postmodern elevation of the sublime over beauty is merely a preference that reveals a bias against transcendence—against God. If doing and understanding science can show this sundering of the sublime from the beautiful to be in error, science also gives evidence of transcendence. (shrink)
The standard semantics for sentential modal logics uses a truth condition for necessity which first appeared in the early 1950s. in this paper the status of that condition is investigated and a more general condition is proposed. in addition to meeting certain natural adequacy criteria, the more general condition allows one to capture logics like s1 and s0.9 in a way which brings together the work of segerberg and cresswell.
In this essay, we discuss how Descartes arrives at his mature view of material causation. Descartes position changes over time in some very radical ways. The last section spells out his final position as to how causation works in the world of material objects. When considering Descartes causal theories, it is useful to distinguish between vertical and horizontal causation. The vertical perspective addresses Gods relation to creation. God is essential being, and every being other than God depends upon God in (...) order to exist and to continue in existence.Thus, from the vertical perspective, the act of creating and fact of coming into existence are co-extensive notions. This metaphysical/theological framework is the basis of Descartes commitment to three interrelated notions: that genuine causes and effects occur simultaneously; that causing is appropriately the case only when the cause is acting; and the view that God is the efficient, total, and continuous cause of everything that exists and every action that occurs. So from the vertical perspective, things are nothing without Gods continuous creation, and there is a problem in articulating how they are said to have independent being and causal efficacy. It is in terms of these commitments that Descartes views on horizontal, or material, causation must be approached. We will make apparent the radical extent to which his account of intra-worldly causation abandons his earlier and more traditional views about material causation. To this end we discuss Descartes journey to his mature position by emphasizing the growing epistemic limitations of his philosophy, which culminate in what we call his epistemic stance. (shrink)