Philosophy is often conceived in the Anglophone world today as a subject that focuses on questions in particular ‘‘core areas,’’ pre-eminently epistemology and metaphysics. This article argues that the contemporary conception is a new version of the scholastic ‘‘self-indulgence for the few’’ of which Dewey complained nearly a century ago. Philosophical questions evolve, and a first task for philosophers is to address issues that arise for their own times. The article suggests that a renewal of philosophy today should turn the (...) contemporary conception inside out, attending to and developing further the valuable work being done on the supposed ‘‘periphery’’ and attending to the ‘‘core areas’’ only insofar as is necessary to address genuinely significant questions. (shrink)
If someone abstains from meat-eating for reasons of taste or personal economics, no moral or philosophical question arises. But when a vegetarian attempts to persuade others that they, too, should adopt his diet, then what he says requires philosophical attention. While a vegetarian might argue in any number of ways, this essay will be concerned only with the argument for a vegetarian diet resting on a moral objection to the rearing and killing of animals for the human table. The vegetarian, (...) in this laense, does not merely require us to change or justify our eating habits, but to reconsider our attitudes and behaviour towards members of other species across a wide range of practices. (shrink)
Mountaineering is a dangerous activity. For many mountaineers, part of its very attraction is the risk, the thrill of danger. Yet mountaineers are often regarded as reckless or even irresponsible for risking their lives. In this paper, we offer a defence of risk-taking in mountaineering. Our discussion is organised around the fact that mountaineers and non-mountaineers often disagree about how risky mountaineering really is. We hope to cast some light on the nature of this disagreement – and to argue that (...) mountaineering may actually be worthwhile because of the risks it involves. Section 1 introduces the disagreement and, in doing so, separates out several different notions of risk. Sections 2–4 then consider some explanations of the disagreement, showing how a variety of phenomena can skew people's risk judgements. Section 5 then surveys some recent statistics, to see whether these illuminate how risky mountaineering is. In light of these considerations, however, we suggest that the disagreement is best framed not simply in terms of how risky mountaineering is but whether the risks it does involve are justified. The remainder of the paper, sections 6–9, argues that risk-taking in mountaineering often is justified – and, moreover, that mountaineering can itself be justified by and because of the risks it involves. (shrink)
Is rhetoric just a new and trendy way to épater les bourgeois? Unfortunately, I think that the newfound interest of some economists in rhetoric, and particularly Donald McCloskey in his new book and subsequent responses to critics, gives that impression. After economists have worked so hard for the past five decades to learn their sums, differential calculus, real analysis, and topology, it is a fair bet that one could easily hector them about their woeful ignorance of the conjugation of Latin (...) verbs or Aristotle's Six Elements of Tragedy. Moreover, it has certainly become an academic cliché that economists write as gracefully and felicitously as a hundred monkeys chained to broken typewriters. The fact that economists still trot out Keynes's prose in their defense is itself an index of the inarticulate desperation of an inarticulate profession. (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)
It has become fashionable to try to prove the impossibility of there being a God. Findlay's celebrated ontological disproof has in the past quarter century given rise to vigorous controversy. More recently James Rachels has offered a moral argument intended to show that there could not be a being worthy of worship. In this paper I shall examine the position Rachels is arguing for in some detail. I shall endeavor to show that his argument is unsound and, more interestingly, that (...) the genuine philosophical perplexity which motivates it can be dispelled without too much difficulty. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Robert A. Oakes argues that a doctrine central to, and partially constitutive of, classical theism implies a certain sort of pantheism. The doctrine in question is a modal form of the claim that God conserves in existence the world of contingent things; alternatively, it is the view that all contingently existing things are necessarily continuously dependent upon God for their existence. And the variety of pantheism at stake is a modal form of the thesis that all (...) contingent things are, in some sense, included within the being of God. (shrink)
This brief opening for a special issue of Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical on Philip Clayton’s thought and its connection with that of Michael Polany introduces Clayton’s essay and the responses by Martinez Hewlett, Gregory R. Peterson, Andy F. Sanders and Waler B. Gulick.
Jonathan Glover and I, while not in such deep disagreement about the ethics of killing as to make all communication impossible, still disagree enough to make sustained confrontation worthwhile. At minimum, such confrontation should make it clear what are the most fundamental issues at stake in ethical arguments about various kinds of killing.
Striving to boldly redirect the philosophy of science, this book by renowned philosopher Philip Kitcher examines the heated debate surrounding the role of science in shaping our lives. Kitcher explores the sharp divide between those who believe that the pursuit of scientific knowledge is always valuable and necessary--the purists--and those who believe that it invariably serves the interests of people in positions of power. In a daring turn, he rejects both perspectives, working out a more realistic image of the (...) sciences--one that allows for the possibility of scientific truth, but nonetheless permits social consensus to determine which avenues to investigate. He then proposes a democratic and deliberative framework for responsible scientists to follow. Controversial, powerful, yet engaging, this volume will appeal to a wide range of readers. Kitcher's nuanced analysis and authorititative conclusion will interest countless scientists as well as all readers of science--scholars and laypersons alike. (shrink)
The following objection to the ‘ontological’ argument of St Anselm has a continuing importance. The argument begs the question by introducing into the first premise the name ‘God’. In order for something to be truly talked about, to have properties truly attributed to it—it has been said—it must exist; a statement containing a vacuous name must either be false, meaningless, or lacking in truth-value, if it is not a misleading formulation to be explained by paraphrase into other terms. In any (...) case the question of the divine existence is begged. (shrink)
The problem which motivates this paper bears on the relationship between Marxism and morality. It is not the well-established question of whether the Marxist's commitments undermine an attachment to ethical standards, but the more neglected query as to whether they allow the espousal of political ideals. The study and assessment of political ideals is pursued nowadays under the title of theory of justice, the aim of such theory being to provide a criterion for distinguishing just patterns of social organization from (...) unjust ones. The main rivals in the field represent justice respectively as legitimacy, welfare and fairness. Marxism does not put forward a distinctive conception of justice itself and the question is whether the Marxist is free to choose as he thinks fit among the candidates on offer. (shrink)
Suppose that a person P 1 dies some time during 1978. Many years later, the resurrection world, a perennial object of Christian concern, begins on the morning of the day of judgment. On its first morning there are in that world distinct persons, P 2 and P 3 , each of whom is related in remarkably intimate ways to P 1 . You are to imagine that each of them satisfies each of the criteria or conditions necessary for identity with (...) P 1 to some extent, that both of them satisfy these conditions to exactly the same extent, and that every other denizen of the resurrection world satisfies each of these conditions to a lesser extent than P 2 and P 3 do. Thus, for example, philosophers often claim that bodily continuity is a necessary condition for personal identity. If it is, you might assume that the body P 2 has on the morning of the day of judgment contains some of the same atoms the body of P1 1 contained when P 1 died, and that P 2 's body on that day contains exactly n atoms from P 1 's body at the time of death just in case P 3 's body on that day contains exactly n atoms from P 1 's body at the time of death. Or, again, some philosophers hold that connectedness of memory is necessary for personal identity. If so, you are to suppose that on the morning of the day of judgment P 3 seems to remember some of the events in the life of P 1 having happened to him, and that P 3 seems to remember a certain event in the life of P 1 having happened to him just in case P 2 seems to remember that very event in the life of P 1 having happened to him. You are to fill in the details by adding complete parity between P 2 and P 3 with respect to similarity of DNA molecules, character traits and whatever else you deem relevant to personal identity. And, finally, you are to complete the story by imagining that P 2 and P 3 live very different sorts of lives in the resurrection world. To heighten the poignancy of the story, you might imagine that P 2 enjoys forever after the beatitude promised to the blessed while P 3 suffers the everlasting torments reserved for the damned. (shrink)
The advance of science and human knowledge is impeded by misunderstandings of various statistics, insufficient reporting of findings, and the use of numerous standardized and non-standardized presentations of essentially identical information. Communication with journalists and the public is hindered by the failure to present statistics that are easy for non-scientists to interpret as well as by use of the word significant, which in scientific English does not carry the meaning of "important" or "large." This article promotes a new standard method (...) for reporting two-group and two-variable statistics that can enhance the presentation of relevant information, increase understanding of findings, and replace the current presentations of two-group ANOVA, t-tests, correlations, chi-squares, and z-tests of proportions. A brief call to highly restrict the publication of risk ratios, odds ratios, and relative increase in risk percentages is also made, since these statistics appear to provide no useful scientific information regarding the magnitude of findings. (shrink)
According to republican theory, we are free persons to the extent that we are protected and secured in the same fundamental choices, on the same public basis, as one another. But there is no public protection or security without a coercive state. Does this mean that any freedom we enjoy is a superficial good that presupposes a deeper, political form of subjection? Philip Pettit addresses this crucial question in On the People's Terms. He argues that state coercion will not (...) involve individual subjection or domination insofar as we enjoy an equally shared form of control over those in power. This claim may seem utopian but it is supported by a realistic model of the institutions that might establish such democratic control. Beginning with a fresh articulation of republican ideas, Pettit develops a highly original account of the rationale of democracy, breathing new life into democratic theory. (shrink)
Freedom, in Philip Pettit's provocative analysis, "requires more than just being left alone." In Just Freedom, a succint articulation of the republican philosophy for which he is renowned, Pettit builds a theory of universal freedom as nondenomination. Seen through this lens, even societies that consider themselves free may find their political arrangements lacking. Do those arrangements protect people's liberties equally? Are they subject to the equally shared control of those they protect? Do they allow the different peoples of the (...) world to live in equal freedom? With elegant, user-friendly tests of freedom---the eyeball test, the tough luck test, and the straight talk test---Pettit addresses these questions, laying out essential yardsticks for policymakers and concerned ciitzens alike. An invitation to join in a program that would better articulate and realize justice in our social, democratic, and international lives. Just Freedom offers readers an essential starting place for the world's thorniest problems. (shrink)
Philip Pettit offers a new insight into moral psychology. He shows that attachments such as love, and certain virtues such as honesty, require their characteristic behaviours not only as things actually are, but also in cases where things are different from how they actually are. He explores the implications of this idea for key moral issues.
Philip Quinn, John A. O’Brien Professor at the University of Notre Dame from 1985 until his death in 2004, was well known for his work in the philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and core areas of analytic philosophy. Although the breadth of his interests was so great that it would be virtually impossible to identify any subset of them as representative, the contributors to this volume provide an excellent introduction to, and advance the discussion of, some of the questions (...) of central importance to Quinn in the last years of his working life. Paul J. Weithman argues in his introduction that Quinn’s interest and analyses in many areas grew out of a distinctive and underlying sensibility that we might call “liberal faith.” It included belief in the value of a liberal education and in rigorous intellectual inquiry, the acceptance of enduring religious, cultural, and political pluralism, along with a keen awareness of problems posed by pluralism, and a deeply held but non-utopian faith in liberal democratic politics. These provocative essays, at the cutting edge of epistemology, the philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, and political philosophy, explore the tenets of liberal faith and invite continuing engagement with the philosophical issues. “Philip Quinn was admired enormously throughout the world of professional philosophy.... His reputation for rigor, his tireless service to the profession, and his essentially ‘non-dogmatic,’ but philosophically sophisticated faith is widely admired... The essays in this volume are first-rate contemporary philosophy along with an excellent introduction to Quinn’s work.” —_Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf College_ "The papers that form _Liberal Faith_ give insightful treatments of three types of questions: first, how can we conscientiously believe something when there are many people we admire who do not believe it, and what is the underlying relation here between justification and rationality; second, what does it mean to desire union with God, and can Christians properly believe in the possibility of eternal self-annihilation; third, how should liberal democracy accommodate the religious convictions of its members, whether some comprehensive doctrine such as a religion is required to justify a commitment to human equality, and whether there is an absolute moral prohibition on the state use of torture. The volume has an unusually good introduction putting the papers into dialog with each other and with the work of Philip Quinn. The papers are cohesive because the central themes of Philip Quinn's work hold together into a picture of how Christianity and Liberal Democracy fit together." —_John Hare, Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale Divinity School _ “This is a collection of high quality essays dealing with various topics related to Philip Quinn’s work. The book makes an original contribution by virtue of its individual papers, each of which is new. These essays will be of interest to scholars and students who followed Quinn’s work, especially in philosophy of religion and political philosophy.“ —_John Greco, The Leonard and Elizabeth Eslick Chair in Philosophy, Saint Louis University _. (shrink)
Despite the bad reputation of the legal profession, law remains king in America. A highly diverse society relies on the laws to maintain a working sense of the dignity and inviability of each individual. And a persistent element in contemporary debates is the fear that naturalistic theories of the human person will erode our belief that we have a dignity greater than that of other natural objects. Thus the endurance of the creation vs. evolution debate is due less to the (...) arguments of creationists, or to the continued influence of the book of Genesis, than to the reading of the evidence provided by Phillip E. Johnson of the University of California, Berkeley, Law School. (shrink)