We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
If I say “we are now living in England” or “grass is green in summer’ or ‘the cat is on the mat’ what I say will normally be true or false—the statements are true if they correctly report how things are, or correspond to the facts; and if they do not do these things, they are false. Such a statement will only fail to have a truth-value if its referring expressions fail to refer ; or if the statement lies on (...) the border between truth and falsity so that it is as true to say that the statement is true as to say that it is false. Are moral judgments normally true or false in the way in which the above statements are true or false? I will term the view that they are objectivism and the view that they are not subjectivism. The objectivist maintains that it is as much a fact about an action that it is right or wrong as that it causes pain or takes a long time to perform. The subjectivist maintains that saying than an action is right or wrong is not stating a fact about it but merely expressing approval of it or commending it or doing some such similar thing. I wish in this paper, first, to show that all arguments for subjectivism manifestly fail, and secondly to produce a strong argument for objectivism. But, to start with, some preliminaries. (shrink)
In late January of 1987, the State Treasurer of Pennsylvania, R. Budd Dwyer, shot himself to death in front of a dozen reporters and camera crews during a news conference in his office. Much was subsequently made in the popular press, and within the profession, about the difficult ethical decision television journalists were faced with in determining how much of the very graphic suicide tape to air. A review of the literature in this area suggests, however, that journalists have established (...) a set of relatively detailed conventions for dealing with events involving graphic depictions of death. Analysis of the Dwyer tape and interviews conducted with Pennsylvania television news directors show that eighteen of the twenty stations in the state that carry news used basically the same type and amount of footage in their evening newscasts. One decided to use no tape. One showed the moment of death. When the story broke around noon, two additional stations showed the moment of suicide, but they revised their story for the evening program. In addition, the wide majority of news directors interviewed said they had little difficulty in deciding how to edit the tape. The processing of the Dwyer story suggests that any ethical dilemmas faced by journalists during decision making were put aside for later consideration. The material was edited quickly and according to similar patterns, or conventions, around the state. The study suggests greater attention be given to the definition and interaction of personal professional values, in the ethical sense, and norms of news processing, in the sociological sense. (shrink)
If there is room for a substantial conception of the will in contemporary theorizing about human agency, it is most likely to be found in the vicinity of the phenomenon of normativity. Rational agency is distinctively responsive to the agent's acknowledgment of reasons, in the basic sense of considerations that speak for and against the alternatives for action that are available. Furthermore, it is natural to suppose that this kind of responsiveness to reasons is possible only for creatures who possess (...) certain unusual volitional powers, beyond the bare susceptibility to beliefs and desires necessary for the kind of rudimentary agency of which the higher animals are arguably capable. (shrink)
Abstract In this article, which is the first of two to examine the ideas of R. S. Peters on moral education, consideration is given to his justificatory arguments found in Ethics and Education. Here he employs presupposition arguments to show to what anyone engaging in moral discourse is committed. The result is a group of procedural principles which are recommended to be employed in moral education. This article is an attempt to examine the presupposition arguments Peters employs, to comment on (...) the procedural principles he believes are presupposed, and to consider the strength of the presupposition argument. My conclusion is that Peters's arguments fail to establish the conclusion he arrives at, and that any gains from the form of argument he uses are hollow. (shrink)
… the supreme end, the happiness of all mankind. The law concerning punishment is a Categorical Imperative; and woe to him who rummages around in the winding paths of a theory of happiness, looking for some advantage to be gained by releasing the criminal from punishment or by reducing the amount of it.
In this article we show that it is possible to completely classify the degrees of r.e. bases of r.e. vector spaces in terms of weak truth table degrees. The ideas extend to classify the degrees of complements and splittings. Several ramifications of the classification are discussed, together with an analysis of the structure of the degrees of pairs of r.e. summands of r.e. spaces.
On what grounds will the rational man become a Christian? It is often assumed by many, especially non-Christians, that he will become a Christian if and only if he judges that the evidence available to him shows that it is more likely than not that the Christian theological system is true, that, in mathematical terms, on the evidence available to him, the probability of its truth is greater than half. It is the purpose of this paper to investigate whether or (...) not this is a necessary and sufficient condition for the rational man to adopt Christianity. (shrink)
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having achieved my life's ambition, to find a way of answering moral questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded on the mountain top by the graves of all (...) those other philosophers, great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had achieved it. And I have come to see, reflecting on my dream, that, ever since, the hard-working philosophical worms have been nibbling away at their systems and showing that the achievement was an illusion. True, their skeletons, indigestible to worms, remained, and were surprisingly similar to one another. But I was led to think again about what one can, and what one cannot, achieve in this direction. (shrink)
It is commonly supposed that the philosophy of education is not a reputable area of concern for a philosopher. I have never heard a coherent, sustained and successful case made for this view. Only vague remarks about ‘autonomy’ and narrowly protectionist views of philosophy are ventured. So I shall not discuss the matter further. I shall simply be content to side with Plato, Aristotle, Comenius, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill and Dewey, who thought that educational issues fell within the province of (...) philosophy. Kant was so concerned with education that he interrupted his work on the Critique of Pure Reason in order to support Basedow's experimental school, the Philanthropin, and the educational reforms which it intended to institute. Kant says ‘… the greatest and most difficult problem to which man can devote himself is the problem of education.’ But if those who hold that the philosophy of education is unimportant, or even disreputable, have come to that view after examining a good deal of what is currently being said in this field, then their adverse reaction is not hard to understand, because a good deal of contemporary work here is clearly inadequate. I hope to show that the contemporary perspective is too narrow, and to advocate a return to a more traditional view of the philosophy of education in the hope that the subject may once again be given the importance which was formerly attributed to it. (shrink)
We present an account of processing capacity in the ACT-R theory. At the symbolic level, the number of chunks in the current goal provides a measure of relational complexity. At the subsymbolic level, limits on spreading activation, measured by the attentional parameter W, provide a theory of processing capacity, which has been applied to performance, learning, and individual differences data.
My topic lies on conceptual terrain that is quite familiar to philosophers. For others, a bit of background may be in order. In light of what has filtered down from quantum mechanics, few philosophers today believe that the universe is causally deterministic. That is, to use Peter van Inwagen's succinct definition of “determinism,” few philosophers believe that “there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.” Even so, partly for obvious historical reasons, philosophers continue to argue about whether free (...) will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism. Compatibilists argue for compatibility, and incompatibilists argue against it. Some incompatibilists maintain that free will and moral responsibility are illusions. But most are libertarians, libertarianism being the conjunction of incompatibilism and the thesis that at least some human beings are possessed of free will and moral responsibility. (shrink)
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he (...) argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
In the 11th chapter of the second book of Samuel, we read how King David saw Bathsheba in the evening: ‘v.2. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.’.
This Companion provides a fresh and comprehensive account of this outstanding work, which remains among the most frequently read works of Greek philosophy, indeed of Classical antiquity in general. The sixteen essays, by authors who represent various academic disciplines, bring a spectrum of interpretive approaches to bear in order to aid the understanding of a wide-ranging audience, from first-time readers of the Republic who require guidance, to more experienced readers who wish to explore contemporary currents in the work’s interpretation. The (...) three initial chapters address aspects of the work as a whole. They are followed by essays that match closely the sequence in which topics are presented in the ten books of the Republic. Since the Republic returns frequently to the same topics by different routes, so do the authors of this volume, who provide the readers with divergent yet complementary perspectives by which to appreciate the Republic’s principal concerns. (shrink)
l. There is an antinomy in Hare's thought between Ought-Implies-Can and No-Indicatives-from-Imperatives. It cannot be resolved by drawing a distinction between implication and entailment. 2. Luther resolved this antinomy in the l6th century, but to understand his solution, we need to understand his problem. He thought the necessity of Divine foreknowledge removed contingency from human acts, thus making it impossible for sinners to do otherwise than sin. 3. Erasmus objected (on behalf of Free Will) that this violates Ought-Implies-Can which he (...) supported with Hare-style ordinary language arguments. 4. Luther a) pointed out the antinomy and b) resolved it by undermining the prescriptivist arguments for Ought-Implies-Can. 5. We can reinforce Luther's argument with an example due to David Lewis. 6. Whatever its merits as a moral principle, Ought-Implies-Can is not a logical truth and should not be included in deontic logics. Most deontic logics, and maybe the discipline itself, should therefore be abandoned. 7. Could it be that Ought-Conversationally-Implies-Can? Yes - in some contexts. But a) even if these contexts are central to the evolution of Ought, the implication is not built into the semantics of the word; b) nor is the parallel implication built into the semantics of orders; and c) in some cases Ought conversationally implies Can, only because Ought-Implies-Can is a background moral belief. d) Points a) and b) suggest a criticism of prescriptivism - that Oughts do not entail imperatives but that the relation is one of conversational implicature. 8. If Ought-Implies-Can is treated as a moral principle, Erasmus' argument for Free Will can be revived (given his Christian assumptions). But it does not 'prove' Pelagianism as Luther supposed. A semi-Pelagian alternative is available. (shrink)
I propose to begin with some fairly unexciting and uncontroversial remarks about possibility-statements, and then in their light to examine two problems philosophers have raised about certain statements of this kind which might be made in Christian theology where it touches on the doctrine of the Incarnation.
In this philosophy classic, which was first published in 1951, E. R. Dodds takes on the traditional view of Greek culture as a triumph of rationalism. Using the analytical tools of modern anthropology and psychology, Dodds asks, "Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from 'primitive' modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?" Praised by reviewers as "an event in modern Greek scholarship" and "a book which it would (...) be difficult to over-praise," _The Greeks and the Irrational _was Volume 25 of the Sather Classical Lectures series. (shrink)
Logic ought to guide our thinking. It is better, more rational, more intelligent to think logically than to think illogically. Illogical thought leads to bad judgment and error. In any case, if logic had no role to play as a guide to thought, why should we bother with it? The somewhat naïve opinions of the previous paragraph are subject to attack from many sides. It may be objected that an activity does not count as thinking at all unless it is (...) at least minimally logical, so logic is constitutive of thought rather than a guide to it. Or it may be objected that whereas logic describes a system of timeless relations between propositions, thinking is a dynamic process involving revisions, and so could not use a merely static guide. Or again the objection may be that there is no such thing as logic, only a whole variety of different logics, not all of which could possibly be good guides. (shrink)
Claims about ‘the meaning of life’ have tended to be made and discussed in conjunction with bold metaphysical and theological affirmations. For life to have meaning, there must be a comprehensive divine plan to give it meaning, or there must be an intelligible cosmic process with a ‘telos’ that a man needs to know if his life is to be meaningfully orientated. Or, it is thought to be a condition of the meaningfulness of life, that values should be ultimately ‘conserved’ (...) in some way, that no evil should be unredeemable and irrational. And it may be claimed that if death were to end our experience, meaninglessness would triumph. (shrink)
An alleged moral right to informational privacy assumes that we should have control over information about ourselves. What is the philosophical justification for this control? I think that one prevalent answer to this question—an answer that has to do with the justification of negative rights generally—will not do.
This essay deals with property rights in body parts that can be exchanged in a market. The inquiry arises in the following context. With some exceptions, the laws of many countries permit only the donation, not the sale, of body parts. Yet for some years there has existed a shortage of body parts for transplantation and other medical uses. It might then appear that if more sales were legally permitted, the supply of body parts would increase, because people would have (...) more incentive to sell than they currently have to donate. To allow sales is to recognize property rights in body parts. To allow sales, however, makes body parts into “commodities”—that is, things that can be bought and sold in a market. And some view it as morally objectionable to treat body parts as commodities. (shrink)
This volume is a collection of original essays by eminent philosophers written for R. B. Braithwaite's eightieth birthday to celebrate his work and teaching. In one way or another, all the essays reflect his central concern with the impact of science on our beliefs about the world and the responses appropriate to that. Together they testify to the signal importance of his contributions in areas of philosophy bearing on this concern: the philosophy of science, especially of the statistical sciences, theories (...) of belief and of probability, decision theory and games theory. This book, which includes a full bibliography of Professor Braithwaite's work, will interest advanced students and professionals in the fields of philosophy and psychology. (shrink)
There are numerous ‘solutions’ to the problem of evil, from which theists can and do freely take their pick. It is fairly clear that any attempt at a solution must involve a scaling-down of one or more of the assertions out of whose initial conflict the problem arises – either by a downward revision of what we mean by omnipotence, or omniscience, or benevolence, or by minimizing the amount or condensing the varieties of evil actually to be found in the (...) universe. And indeed, in one or more of these different ways, the charge of logical inconsistency can no doubt always be vouchsafed at least a formal answer. Unfortunately, the mere ironing-out of formal inconsistencies does not of itself go very far towards providing a solution to this central problem of theism which will be morally, religiously, and intellectually convincing and acceptable as well as logically impeccable. Everything depends on how the inconsistencies are ironed out. For every attempt at a solution of the problem of evil has to be made at a price, in keeping with the scale and type of conceptual or ethical readjustments which it requires of us. And if the solutions which are generally offered seldom seem to carry much conviction, this is because the price they require us to pay nearly always seems far too high. A ‘solution’ to the problem of evil that is to count as a genuine solution must not require us to make any conceptual or ethical readjustments which it would not on independent grounds be entirely reasonable to make. A ‘solution’ that was finally to count as the solution of the problem of evil would presumably need to be that particular one which required us to make only those conceptual and ethical readjustments which were on independent grounds the ones that it was the most reasonable to make. What follows is offered as a solution, in the above sense, of the problem of evil. However, I shall not here attempt to argue that it is the solution. (shrink)
Mr Olding's recent attack on my exposition of the argument from design gives me an opportunity to defend the central theses of my original article. My article pointed out that there were arguments from design of two types—those which take as their premisses regularities of copresence and those which take as their premisses regularities of succession. I sought to defend an argument of the second type. One merit of such an argument is that there is no doubt about the truth (...) of its premisses. Almost all objects in the world behave in a highly regular way describable by scientific laws. Further, any scientific explanation of such a regularity must invoke some more general regularity. The most general regularities of all are, as such, scientifically inexplicable. The question arises whether there is a possible explanation of another kind which can be provided for them, and whether their occurrence gives any or much support to that explanation. I urged that we do explain some phenomena by explanation of an entirely different kind from the scientific. We explain states of affairs by the action of agents who bring them about intentionally of their own choice. Regularities of succession, as well as other phenomena may be explained in this way. Explanation of this kind I will term intentional explanation. Intentional explanation of some phenomenon E consists in adducing an agent A who brought E about of his own choice and a further end G which, he believed, would be forwarded by the production of E. (shrink)