The Battle for the American Mind brings together religion, politics, economics, science, and literature to present a compelling history of the American people. In this brief and entertaining book, noted historian Carl J. Richard argues that there have been three worldviews that have dominated American thought—theism, humanism, and skepticism. By clearly explaining what Americans believed, exploring why they did so, and showing how that impacted the nation's development, Richard presents a unique portrait of the United States—past and present.
In this paper we give a positive answer to Julia Robinson's question whether the definability of + and · from S and ∣ that she proved in the case of positive integers is extendible to arbitrary integers (cf. [JR, p. 102]).
What is the good for human persons? If I am trying to lead the best possible life I could lead, not the morally best life, but the life that is best for me, what exactly am I seeking? This phrasing of the question I will be pursuing may sound tendentious, so some explanation is needed. What is good for one person, we ordinarily suppose, can conflict with what is good for other persons and with what is required by morality. A (...) prudent person seeks her own good efficiently; she selects the best available means to her good. If we call the value that a person seeks when she is being prudent “prudential value,” then an alternative rendering of the question to be addressed in this essay is “What is prudential value?” We can also say that an individual flourishes or has a life high in well-being when her life is high in prudential value. Of course, these common-sense appearances that the good for an individual, the good for other persons, and the requirements of morality often are in conflict might be deceiving. For all that I have said here, the correct theory of individual good might yield the result that sacrificing oneself for the sake of other people or for the sake of a morally worthy cause can never occur, because helping others and being moral always maximize one's own good. But this would be the surprising result of a theory, not something we should presuppose at the start of inquiry. When a friend has a baby and I express a conventional wish that the child have a good life, I mean a life that is good for the child, not a life that merely helps others or merely respects the constraints of morality. After all, a life that is altruistic and perfectly moral, we suppose, could be a life that is pure hell for the person who lives it—a succession of horrible headaches marked by no achievements or attainments of anything worthwhile and ending in agonizing death at a young age. So the question remains, what constitutes a life that is good for the person who is living it? (shrink)
One way to think about capitalism-versus-socialism is to examine the extent to which capitalist economic institutions are compatible with the fulfillment of socialist ideals. The late G. A. Cohen has urged that the two are strongly incompatible. He imagines how it would make sense for friends to organize a camping trip, distills the socialist moral principles that he sees fulfilled in the camping trip model, and observes that these principles conflict with a capitalist organization of the economy. He adds that (...) these principles are ethically attractive, so if it is feasible to organize the economy on the camping trip model, we ought to do so. This essay argues to the contrary that for all that has been said, capitalist economic arrangements might be in the set of institutional arrangements that overall would best fulfill the camping trip principles, and anyway, the principles themselves ought to be rejected, so the question whether or not a capitalist set-up might satisfy these principles should not interest us. The grounds for rejecting the camping trip principles support a form of welfarist consequentialism that denies that equality of distribution of any sort is per se ethically desirable and also denies that liberal freedoms to live as one chooses are per se morally desirable. Equality and freedom should rather be regarded as in the light of possible means to advancing good for people, fairly distributed. (shrink)
In their celebrated essay “The Right to Privacy,” legal scholars Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis identified as the generic privacy value “the right to be let alone.” This same phrase occurs in Justice Brandeis's dissent in Olmstead v. U.S.. This characterization of privacy has been found objectionable by philosophers acting as conceptual police. For example, moral philosopher William Parent asserts that one can wrongfully fail to let another person alone in all sorts of ways—such as assault—that intuitively do not qualify (...) as violations of privacy and thus cannot be violations of the right to privacy. (shrink)
Left-libertarianism is a version of Lockean libertarianism that combines the idea that each person is the full rightful owner of herself and the idea that each person should have the right to own a roughly equal amount of the world's resources. This essay argues against left-libertarianism. The specific target is an interesting form of left-libertarianism proposed by Michael Otsuka that is especially stringent in its equal world ownership claim. One criticism advanced is that there is more tension than Otsuka acknowledges (...) between private ownership of self and equal ownership of the world. This emerges once one notices that self-ownership should not be conceived merely in a thin, formal way but also as a thicker substantive insistence on wide individual freedom. A second criticism is that in other respects the formal idea of self-ownership that Otsuka and other left-libertarians embrace is an extreme doctrine that merits rejection. (shrink)
In contemporary market societies, the laws do not place individuals under enforceable obligations to aid others. Perhaps the most striking exception to this broad generalization is the practice of conscription of able-bodied males into military service, particularly in time of war. Another notable exception is the legal enforcement in some contemporary societies of “Good Samaritan” obligations — obligations to provide temporary aid to victims of emergencies, such as car accident victims. The obligation applies to those who are in the immediate (...) vicinity of the emergency and who can supply aid of great value to the victim at small risk and tolerable cost to themselves. The fact that not all contemporary societies have enacted such Good Samaritan laws underscores the point that the general rule is that individuals are under no legal obligation to help others. According to some moral views, this legal situation approximately accords with the moral fact that persons who have not voluntarily incurred obligations to aid others should not be coerced into tendering such aid. Moreover, it is worth noting that these two prominent exceptions to the tendency of legal systems to eschew enforcement of positive obligations to aid others are plausibly in everyone's ex ante interest and not notably redistributive in intent. (shrink)
Are socialists best regarded as those who are most truly and consistently committed to democracy, under modern industrial conditions? Is the underlying issue that divides liberals from socialists the degree of their wholeheartedness in affirming the ideal of a democratic society? On the liberal side, Friedrich Hayek has remarked: “It is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible that a democracy governs with a total lack of liberalism. My personal preference is for (...) a liberal dictator and not for a democratic government lacking in liberalism.” No doubt many socialists would wish to quibble with Hayek's free-market oriented conception of liberalism. But I am wondering whether the conceptual map implicit in Hayek's remark is apt. Hayek appears to assume that there are two independent lines of division, one marking greater and lesser commitment to liberal values, the other marking greater and lesser commitment to democratic procedures. According to the conception of socialism as democracy that I wish to examine, a better picture of the political landscape would show one line of division with gradations indicating greater and lesser commitment to democracy. On this continuum, socialists are located at the extreme pro-democratic end, those who favor autocracy at the other end, and liberals somewhere in the middle. The analyst who finds this latter conceptual picture the more illuminating of the two will say that Hayek reveals his rejection of socialism by being less than wholehearted in his support of democracy. (shrink)
The work of Richard J. Bernstein has achieved a groundbreaking synthesis of the analytical and continental modes of thought. Countering the highly technical metaphysical and epistemological puzzles of analytic philosophy in the early 1960s, Bernstein offered a model of philosophy in a democratic society as the work of the engaged public intellectual. Working within the tradition of American pragmatism, he also changed that tradition by opening it to the international intellectual currents of phenomenology, deconstructionism, and critical theory. These essays (...) by leading philosophers and social thinkers pay tribute to Bernstein and reflect the themes that have engaged him throughout his career.Pragmatism, Critique, Judgment opens with a group of essays that examine the place of philosophy in a democratic society; included in this section are Richard Rorty's exploration of the legacy of American pragmatism and Jürgen Habermas's reconsideration of ethics in philosophy. The essays in the second section examine postpositivist social critique and include Jacques Derrida's consideration of the philosophical paradoxes of the death penalty. The third group of essays considers the theme of radical evil, and includes discussions of Bernstein's nuanced reading of Hannah Arendt. The book ends with a biographical essay based in part on a series of conversations with Bernstein himself. (shrink)
_Confines of Democracy_ is a collection of critical assessments and interpretations of Richard J. Bernstein’s extensive and illuminating work on pragmatism, epistemology, hermeneutics, and social and political theory, including Bernstein’s replies to the contributors.
Amartya Sen is a renowned economist who has also made important contributions to philosophical thinking about distributive justice. These contributions tend to take the form of criticism of inadequate positions and insistence on making distinctions that will promote clear thinking about the topic. Sen is not shy about making substantive normative claims, but thus far he has avoided commitment to a theory of justice, in the sense of a set of principles that specifies what facts are relevant for policy choice (...) and determines, given a full characterization of any situation in terms of these relevant facts, what ought to be done in that situation. Moreover, Sen has expressed skepticism about the existence of a fully adequate theory in this sense. According to Sen there is a plurality of moral considerations that bear on choice of action and policy and no particular reason to think that weights can be attached nonarbitrarily to each consideration to yield a theory. (shrink)
Over many decades, Richard Bernstein has interpreted contemporary philosophy’s three traditions, roughly distinguished as analytic, pragmatic, and Continental, emphasizing their mutual affinities. Despite this reference to the continent of Europe, it would be wrong to identify any of these traditions geographically or linguistically; even to call them ‘traditions’ is stretching a point. Pragmatism originated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but it has spread from there, transmogrifying in the process and claiming surprising allies, such as Heidegger; the label ‘pragmatist’ has even been (...) affixed to Hegel! That its day has come is the theme of this, Bernstein’s latest book. Its title is a play on Richard Rorty’s famous .. (shrink)
Dr. Davidson is a William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984.
In the spring of 1780 there appeared a short work by J. H. de Magellan, published in London but written in French, which contained the first table of specific heats to appear in print. Magellan attributed the table to Richard Kirwan, but in none of his published works does Kirwan refer to it, so that the circumstances of its compilation are obscure. Kirwan's correspondence, however, provides evidence both of his association with Magellan and of his long concern with theories (...) of heat. In a series of letters concerned principally with his forthcoming publication, written to James Watt at the beginning of 1780, Magellan attacked Joseph Black for his failure to publish his own work on heat. (shrink)