Ralph Wedgwood gives a general account of what it is for states of mind and processes of thought to count as rational. Whether you are thinking rationally depends purely on what is going on in your mind, but rational thinking is a means to the goal of getting things right in your thinking, by believing the truth or making good choices.
Hume's sceptical arguments regarding induction have not yet been successfully answered. However, I shall not in this paper discuss the important attempts to answer Hume since that would be too lengthy a task. On the supposition that Hume's sceptical arguments have not been met, the empirical world is a place where, as the popular metaphor goes, all the glue has been removed. For the Humean sceptic, the only empirical knowledge that we can have is given to us in immediate perception. (...) We have no reason to believe that the patterns of future events will in any way resemble patterns of events in the present or past. We have no reason to believe even that present events not observed resemble present events that are observed, or that knowledge of past and present can be any guide in making new discoveries about what took place in the past. What we have is an ideal setting for the calculation of a priori probabilities. We have a field of distinct events having no logical or evidential ties to one another. The attempt to justify induction that I wish to present is an appeal to a priori probability. (shrink)
This paper outlines a new approach to the task of giving an account of the meaning of moral statements: a sort of "conceptual role semantics", according to which the meaning of moral terms is given by their role in practical reasoning. This role is sufficient both to distinguish the meaning of any moral term from that of other terms, and to determine the property or relation (if any) that the term stands for. The paper ends by suggesting reasons for regarding (...) this "conceptual role semantics" approach as preferable to noncognitivism, the causal theory of reference, and noncircular conceptual analysis. (shrink)
Many philosophers working on the branches of philosophy that deal with the normative questions have adopted a " Reasons First" program. This paper criticizes the foundational assumptions of this program. In fact, there are many different concepts that can be expressed by the term 'reason' in English, none of which are any more fundamental than any others. Indeed, most of these concepts are not particularly fundamental in any interesting sense.
Every kind of ‘ought’ implies some kind of ‘can’ – but there are many kinds of ‘ought’ and even more kinds of ‘can’. In this essay, I shall focus on a particular kind of ‘ought’ – specifically, on what I shall call the “rational ‘ought’”. On every occasion of use, this kind of ‘ought’ is focused on the situation of a particular agent at a particular time; but this kind of ‘ought’ is concerned, not with how that agent acts at (...) that time, but with what beliefs or intentions the agent has at the time, or with the sort of reasoning by means of which the agent at that time forms or revises those beliefs or intentions. (shrink)
What is the connection between justification and the kind of consequence relations that are studied by logic? In this essay, I shall try to provide an answer, by proposing a general conception of the kind of inference that counts as justified or rational.
Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688) deserves recognition as one of the most important English seventeenth-century philosophers after Hobbes and Locke. In opposition to Hobbes, Cudworth proposes an innatist theory of knowledge which may be contrasted with the empirical position of his younger contemporary Locke, and in moral philosophy he anticipates the ethical rationalists of the eighteenth century. A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality is his most important work, and this volume makes it available, together with his shorter Treatise of Freewill, (...) in its first modern edition, with a historical introduction, a chronology of his life, and an essay on further reading. (shrink)
Let us take an example that Bernard Williams (1981: 102) made famous. Suppose that you want a gin and tonic, and you believe that the stuff in front of you is gin. In fact, however, the stuff is not gin but petrol. So if you drink the stuff (even mixed with tonic), it will be decidedly unpleasant, to say the least. Should you choose to drink the stuff or not?
Moral philosophy has long been preoccupied by a supposed dichotomy between the "good" and the "right". This dichotomy has been taken to define certain allegedly central issues for ethics. How are the good and the right related to each other? For example, is one of the two "prior" to the other? If so, is the good prior to the right, or is the right prior to the good?
According to epistemological internalism, the rationality of a belief supervenes purely on "internal facts" about the thinker's mind. But what are "internal facts"? Why does the rationality of a belief supervene on them? The standard answers are unacceptable. This paper proposes new answers. "Internal facts" are facts about the thinker's nonfactive mental states. The rationality of a belief supervenes on such internal facts because we need rules of belief revision that we can follow directly, not by means of following any (...) other rules, and the proximate explanation of any belief revision always consists of such internal facts. (shrink)
Ralph Wendell Burhoe was a leading figure in relating religion and science in the second half of the twentieth century. His autodidactic style and character as a public intellectual resulted in a vision that is comprehensive in its concern for the salvation of society. He does not fit easily into academic frameworks, even though he has been influential upon scholars who work in academia. This article discusses some conundrums posed by his work. There are also brief presentations of the (...) concerns that motivated Burhoe, his style of work, and the content of his vision. (shrink)
What exactly is reasoning? Like many other philosophers, I shall endorse a broadly causal conception of reasoning. Reasoning is a causal process, in which one mental event (say, one’s accepting the conclusion of a certain argument) is caused by an antecedent mental event (say, one’s considering the premises of the argument). Just like causal accounts of action and causal accounts of perception, causal accounts of reasoning have to confront a version of what has come to be known as the problem (...) of deviant causal chains. In this paper, I shall propose an account of the nature of reasoning, incorporating a solution to the specific version of the deviant causal chains problem that arises for accounts of reasoning. One striking feature of my solution is that it requires that certain normative facts are causally efficacious. It might be thought that this feature will make my account incompatible with any plausibly naturalistic approach to understanding the mind. I shall argue that this is not so: my account of the nature of reasoning is quite compatible with plausible versions of naturalism. (shrink)
The United States Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of the commercial use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will be discussed within the context of the existing USA regulatory framework. The purpose will be to illustrate the current lack of regulation and oversight of the DBS market, which has resulted in the violation of basic ethical norms. The discussion will focus on: 1) the lack of available evidence on procedural safety and efficacy, (...) 2) the numerous conflicts of interest held by research investigators, and 3) the ambiguity of both aforementioned categories due to an inherent lack of transparency in the research. It is argued that in order to address these issues, ethical analyses of DBS for psychiatric disorders must include the role of the industry forces that have become the primary impetus for this research. As such, DBS for OCD serves as an important case example in studies of neurotechnology and innovative surgery. (shrink)
"Dishonesty inspires more euphemisms than copulation or defecation. This helps desensitize us to its implications. In the post-truth era we don't just have truth and lies but a third category of ambiguous statements that are not exactly the truth but fall just short of a lie. Enhanced truth it might be called. Neo-truth . Soft truth . Faux truth . Truth lite ." Deception has become the modern way of life. Where once the boundary line between truth and lies was (...) clear and distinct, it is no longer so. In the post-truth era, deceiving others has become a challenge, a game, a habit. High-profile dissemblers compete for news coverage, from journalists like Jayson Blair and professors like Joseph Ellis to politicians (of all stripes), executives, and "creative" accountants. Research suggests that the average American tells multiple lies on a daily basis, often for no good reason. Not a finger-wagging scolding, The Post-Truth Era is a combination of Ralph Keyes's investigative journalism and solid science. The result is a spirited exploration of why we lie about practically everything and the consequences such casual dishonesty has on society. American society has become permeated from top to bottom by deception. Its consequences for the nature of public discourse, media, business, literature, academia, and politics are profound. With dry humor, passionate fervor, and deep understanding, Ralph Keyes takes us on a tour of a world where truth and honesty are no longer absolutes but mutable, fluid concepts. (shrink)
In this new book Moral Dimensions, T. M. Scanlon (2008) explores the ethical significance of the intentions and motives with which people act. According to Scanlon, these intentions and motives do not have any direct bearing on the permissibility of the act. Thus, Scanlon claims that the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) is mistaken. However, the way in which someone is motivated to act has a direct bearing on what Scanlon calls the act's "meaning". One particularly important kind of (...) "meaning" that an act can have consists in the ways in which it is appropriate for various people to blame the agent for the act. So the book ends with an extended analysis of blame and blameworthiness. (shrink)
Most approaches to animal ethics ground the moral standing of nonhumans in some appeal to their capacities for intelligent autonomy or mental sentience. _Corporal Compassion _emphasizes the phenomenal and somatic commonality of living beings; a philosophy of body that seeks to displace any notion of anthropomorphic empathy in viewing the moral experiences of nonhuman living beings. Ralph R. Acampora employs phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism and deconstruction to connect and contest analytic treatments of animal rights and liberation theory. In doing so, (...) he focuses on issues of being and value, and posits a felt nexus of bodily being, termed symphysis, to devise an interspecies ethos. Acampora uses this broad-based bioethic to engage in dialogue with other strains of environmental ethics and ecophilosophy. _Corporal Compassion_ examines the practical applications of the somatic ethos in contexts such as laboratory experimentation and zoological exhibition, and challenges practitioners to go beyond recent reforms and look to a future beyond exploitation or total noninterference--a posthumanist culture that advocates caring in a participatory approach. (shrink)
Treating such issues as animal sex, species politics, environmental justice, lesbian space and "gay" ghettos, AIDS literatures, and queer nationalities, this lively collection asks important questions at the intersections of sexuality and environmental studies. Contributors from a wide range of disciplines present a focused engagement with the critical, philosophical, and political dimensions of sex and nature. These discussions are particularly relevant to current debates in many disciplines, including environmental studies, queer theory, critical race theory, philosophy, literary criticism, and politics. As (...) a whole, Queer Ecologies stands as a powerful corrective to views that equate "natural" with "straight" while "queer" is held to be against nature. (shrink)
This paper offers an argument in favour of the conclusion that it is seriously unjust to exclude same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage. The argument is based on an interpretation of what the institution of marriage essentially is, and of its essential rationale; the crucial claim is that although marriage is a legal institution, it is also a social institution, involving a "social meaning" -- a body of common knowledge and expectations about marriage that is generally shared throughout (...) society. (shrink)
This essay defends a version of the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) – the doctrine that there is normally a stronger reason against an act that has a bad state of affairs as one of its intended effects than against an otherwise similar act that has that bad state of affairs as an unintended effect. First, a precise account of this version of the DDE is given. Secondly, some suggestions are made about why we should believe the DDE, and about (...) why it is true. Finally, a solution is developed to the so-called ‘closeness problem’ that any version of the DDE must face. (shrink)
While many 20th-century fads in philosophy and theology have come and gone, McInerny's faith in Aristotelian-Thomism was boldly prophetic. His defenses of natural theology and law helped to create dialogue between theists and non-theists, and to provide a philosophical basis for Catholic theology.
This work is Emerson's set of essays published in 1860 just before the start of the Civil War: 'Fate,' 'Power,' 'Wealth,' 'Culture,' 'Behavior,' 'Worship,' 'Considerations by the Way,' 'Beauty,' 'Illusions.'.
What reasons for action do we have? What explains why we have these reasons? This paper articulates some of the basic structural features of a theory that would provide answers to these questions. According to this theory, reasons for action are all grounded in intrinsic values, but in a way that makes room for a thoroughly non-consequentialist view of the way in which intrinsic values generate reasons for aaction.
Slurs denigrate individuals qua members of certain groups, such as race or sexual orientation. Most theorists hold that each slur has a neutral counterpart, i.e., a term that references the slur's target group without denigrating them. According to a widely accepted view, which I call ‘Neutral Counterpart Theory’, the truth-conditional content of a slur is identical to the truth-conditional content of its neutral counterpart. My aim is to challenge this view. I argue that the view fails with respect to slurs (...) that encode truth-conditional content which does more than merely classify someone as a member of the target group, as well as slurs that denigrate by virtue of their iconicity. (shrink)
This is an important book historically, documenting the long friendship and correspondence of Emerson and Carlyle. It should be noted that there is a more up-to-date edition, done in the 20th century (edited by Joseph Slater, Columbia U.P. 1964). Many of the common themes and interests of the two thinkers are indicated in the correspondence, and often enough, one can also see evidence of the differences and how they approached them.
This paper explores the problems that are raised by a certain traditional sceptical paradox. The conclusion will be that the most challenging problem raised by this paradox does not primarily concern the justification of beliefs; it concerns the justification of belief-forming practices. This conclusion is supported by showing that if we can solve the sceptical problem for belief-forming practices, then it will be a relatively straightforward matter to solve the problem that concerns the justification of beliefs.