While the preponderance of recent literature on David Gauthier's Morals by Agreement has focused on his theory of bargaining,1 Joseph DeMarco calls into question the foundation of Gauthier's project.2 DeMarco argues that Gauthier's project depends on the incorporation of extra‐rational values, thereby undermining his attempt to derive morality from the non‐moral premises of rational choice. On DeMarco's account, there are at least three points where Gauthier depends on extra‐rational values. DeMarco finds the first two of these points problematic because he (...) misunderstands Gauthier's theory of rational choice. The third point is more serious; Gauthier does not offer an apparatus sufficient to respond to DeMarco's charge. To disarm DeMarco's third objection, I shall offer a justification of the rationality of autonomous preference formation. (shrink)
In his paper ‘Miracles: metaphysics, physics, and physicalism’, 1 Kirk McDermid appears to have two primary goals. The first is to demonstrate that my account of how God might produce a miracle without violating any laws of nature is radically flawed. The second is to suggest two alternative accounts, one suitable for a deterministic world, one suitable for an indeterministic world, which allow for the occurrence of a miracle without violation of the laws of nature, yet do not suffer from (...) the defects of what McDermid terms the ‘Larmerian’ model. I briefly describe my model, reply to McDermid's criticism of it, and evaluate his alternative accounts. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to clear up the long-standing veritable mountain of misinterpretation, perpetuated from critic to critic, concerning the admittedly problematic concept of self-authenticating religious experience. While it may well be the case, as many have argued, that a sort of ‘experience’ about which one could not be mistaken is simply a logically impossible state of affairs, this cannot be known to be the case so long as what is under attack is a bogus concept, obviously absurd, (...) having nothing whatsoever to do with the correct interpretation of ‘self-authentication’. Hence, my mission herein is essentially that of philosophical analysis or clarification of meaning. Only upon suitable clarification of this concept will we be in a position to consider the question of its possible application, i.e. whether or not there could be an instantiation of such experience. I might point out that my central concern is somewhat more explicatory than historical, though I believe that the account developed in this paper is essentially congenial with the intent of those who have been proponents of the view that there can be self-authenticating religious experience. Let us begin, then, by turning to some representative criticism of the concept in question. (shrink)
Contemporary commentators on Hume's essay, ‘Of miracles’ have increasingly tended to argue that Hume never intended to suggest that testimonial evidence must always be insufficient to justify belief in a miracle. This is in marked contrast to earlier commentators who interpreted Hume as intending to demonstrate that testimonial evidence is incapable in principle of ever establishing rational belief in a miracle. In this article I argue that this traditional interpretation is the correct one.
I am grateful to Philip Quinn for his thorough and penetrating critique of my paper on classical theism and pantheism. He has given me much to think about, and it would be philosophically remiss of me not to acknowledge that – in the light of his remarks – the argument which I employed in defence of the thesis that classical theism implies a version of pantheism might well benefit from some amendment. However, the purpose of this brief counter-rejoinder is to (...) establish that the nexus of my argument has emerged from his commentary in reasonably robust health, i.e., to demonstrate that if the argument of my former paper is to be rejected, it will take something more than Professor Quinn's critique to make that clear. Very concisely, then, my response is as follows: At a preliminary point, Professor Quinn claims that my argument ‘merits careful scrutiny’ because, if it succeeds, ‘something shockingly at variance with received views’ will have been established . I find this to be somewhat odd. For it seems clear that St Paul was a ‘classical theist’, indeed a very special one in so far as the shaping of Christian theism is concerned. And while his famous and oftcited dictum that God is the One in Whom ‘we live, move, and have our being’ may be such that it is permissible to construe it in ways which do not imply any version of pantheism, it clearly seems unjustified to maintain that pantheistic doctrines are ‘shockingly at variance’ with that most intriguing statement of St Paul's. (shrink)
In Anselm's Discovery , Professor Hartshorne makes the rather startling and counterintuitive claim that ‘…there is indeed no issue between theism and pantheism. We all exist in the divine being, as St Paul said.’ 1 Classical or orthodox theists, it seems eminently fair to say, can be expected to recoil from any such suggestion with more than a little indignation. First of all, it might well be objected that Hartshorne - as a ‘process theist’ - is not a classical theist, (...) and, consequently, while there may be no issue between pantheism and his brand of theism, such is simply not the case in so far as classical theism is concerned. According to the latter - in contradistinction, of course, to Hartshorne's ‘neoclassical theism’ - immutability is an ‘essential’ property of God; as such, it would be a conceptual error to ascribe any contingent states to God at all. Now as is well known by philosophers of religion, Hartshorne regards this immutability doctrine of classical theism as a serious ‘logical blunder’ , one which - in so far as it reflects the ‘Greek bias’ which has always identified perfection with the absolutely unchangeable - is profoundly distortive of the biblical concept of Deity. (shrink)
To the extent that Mircea Eliade is concerned with millenarianism he is concerned with it as only an instance of religious phenomena generally and is concerned with its meaning rather than its cause. Yet presupposed in the meaning he finds is a theory of its cause, and that theory is worth examining both because it elucidates Eliade's approach to religion as a whole and because as an explanation of millenarianism it is atypical and even unique.
During his first decade on the national political stage , Robert A. Taft contributed to a lively “Old Right” conservative critique of the New Deal’s efforts to achieve economic recovery, promote sustainable growth, and convert to a postwar peacetime economy. This paper examines the senator’s market rhetoric—the ideas on the market, entrepreneurship, and the role of the state that he employed in political arguments after 1935—to understand the foundation of his libertarian brand of conservatism. The following article argues that (...) Taft fused Gilded Age evolutionary naturalism with the Republican Party’s tradition of economic nationalism in order to refute Franklin Roosevelt’s statist liberalism. In particular, he asserted that extra-human natural laws governed the market; that, in the absence of federal interference, it operated flawlessly; that small-business entrepreneurs, not corporations or public enterprise, were the agents of progress; and that the federal government should facilitate, not hinder, entrepreneurial enterprise. (shrink)
This book is devoted to the work of Robert A. Dahl, who passed away in 2014. Dahl was one of the most important American political scientists and normative democratic theorists of the post-war era, and he was also an influential teacher who mentored some of the most significant academics of the next two generations of American political science. As an incredibly productive scholar he had a career that spanned more than half a century, his first book was published in (...) 1950 his last was in 2007 at the age of 92. As a political scientist, he was respected even by those who were critical of his works. This theoretical significance and profound influence is reflected in the collection of chapters in this volume, which reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the contemporary US political science scene. His co-author Bruce Stinebrickner documents the evolution of his and Dahl’s seminal text, _Modern Political Analysis_ and how it became the standard introduction to American political science for nearly fifty years. Katharine MacKinnon’s chapter is of significance for its insights upon Dahl and also represents a succinct statement of a feminist reading and critique of contemporary political science. Steven Lukes contributes a highly concise statement of the difference between one-dimensional and three-dimensional power. This work will be a standard reference work for any researchers or those interested in the work of Robert Dahl, among both established academics and students. This book was originally published as a special issue of the _Journal of Political Power_. (shrink)
“Breast cancer is all around us.” This is how Robert Aronowitz, a medical doctor, opens his timely Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society. We are all familiar with the truism that “one in eight American women” will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. The pink ribbon has come to symbolize both solidarity and hope. Mammograms and “Self-Breast Examination” have become part of women’s daily routine, if not a spectre haunting their daily lives. Yet the (...) evidence remains contested and the therapeutic promise, the fear and hope associated with this “obstinate” disease as problematic as ever. Unnatural History weaves all these different elements, artifactual and natural, emotional and rational, vital and morbid, in the socio-historical narrative of breast cancer in the American context. In that sense, this is an “unnatural” history, a history of how “fear” and “risk” have been reshaping a disease, which continues to be as elusive as it was two centuries ago. (shrink)
In a new and important book entitled TheManagedCareBluesandHowtoCureThem, a lifetime consumer advocate and a surgeon who witnessed the excesses and unaccountable errors of his colleagues under fee for service explain with deft hands the promise of managed care, its problems, and solutions to them. Walter Zelman and Robert Berenson show empathy for the consumer backlash, provider resentment, and the patients' rights movement that has spawned a thousand bills to prevent possibly unethical actions. Yet they believe these efforts to regulate (...) managed care are misdirected and will prevent it from realizing its potential. (shrink)
We commonly identify something seriously defective in a human life that is lived in ignorance of important but unpalatable truths. At the same time, some degree of misapprehension of reality may be necessary for individual health and success. Morally speaking, it is unclear just how insistent we should be about seeking the truth. Robert Sparrow has considered such issues in discussing the manufacture and marketing of robot ‘pets’, such as Sony’s doglike ‘AIBO’ toy and whatever more advanced devices may (...) supersede it. Though it is not his only concern, Sparrow particularly criticizes such robot pets for their illusory appearance of being living things. He fears that some individuals will subconsciously buy into the illusion, and come to sentimentalize interactions that fail to constitute genuine relationships. In replying to Sparrow, I emphasize that this would be continuous with much of the minor sentimentality that we already indulge in from day to day. Although a disposition to seek the truth is morally virtuous, the virtue concerned must allow for at least some categories of exceptions. Despite Sparrow’s concerns about robot pets (and robotics more generally), we should be lenient about familiar, relatively benign, kinds of self-indulgence in forming beliefs about reality. Sentimentality about robot pets seems to fall within these categories. Such limited self-indulgence can co-exist with ordinary honesty and commitment to truth. (shrink)
For the last several decades, philosophers have wrestled with the proper place of religion in liberal societies. Usually, the debates among these philosophers have started with the articulation of various conceptions of liberalism and then proceeded to locate religion in the context of these conceptions. In the process, however, too little attention has been paid to the way religion is conceived. Drawing on the work of Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, two scholars who are often read as holding opposing (...) views on these issues, I argue that, for the purposes of their argument about liberalism, both have implicitly accepted a concept of religion that has come under severe attack in recent work on the subject. Namely, they have accepted a concept of religion that identifies religion primarily with belief, ritual practice, and ecclesial institutions. Following recent scholarship, I suggest that religion is better conceived as a kind of culture. To conclude the essay, I gesture toward what the beginnings of a re-visioned debate about religion and liberal society might look like if one started from this revised conception of religion. (shrink)
Quest for a good society has a long pedigree in sociological thought and critical reflections. It vibrates with many themes of liberation, morality and justice in classical sociology as pioneered by thinkers such as Marx and Durkheim and themes of decent society and creative society in recent theoretical discourses. The present essay discusses this quest for a good society in contemporary social sciences with a detailed discussion of the work of Robert N. Bellah, the pre-eminent sociologist of our times. (...) It discusses Bellah’s quest for a good society in Japan and the US and in the process it discusses related themes such as dynamic harmony and dynamic sunyata. (shrink)
The mere exposure phenomenon (repeated exposure to a stimulus is sufficient to improve attitudes toward that stimulus) is one of the most inspiring phenomena associated with Robert Zajonc’s long and productive career in social psychology. In the first part of this article, Richard Moreland (who was trained by Zajonc in graduate school) describes his own work on exposure and learning, and on the relationships among familiarity, similarity, and attraction in person perception. In the second part, Sascha Topolinski (a recent (...) graduate who never met Zajonc, but found his ideas inspirational) describes his own work concerning embodiment and fluency in the mere exposure effect. Also, several avenues for future research on the mere exposure phenomenon are identified, further demonstrating its continuing relevance to the field. (shrink)
This is a good book. It is good because: (a) it outlines well the central arguments of the debate (that is, the arguments relating to what a miracle is, whether they are possible, whether we can have evidence of their occurrence, and what would follow from such evidence were we to have it); (b) it furthers the debate; and (c) it is a clearly written. If you are a philosopher religion whose research area is miracles, the book is a must-read. (...) If you are philosopher of religion whose research area is not miracles, then, as the book connects with core topics in this field, it will prove a valuable read. If you are merely a philosopher, there are far worse things you could be reading.Rather than provide a summary of each chapter of the book (Larmer provides such a summary on pages 3 and 4 of his introduction [which one can access freely online] and I cannot offer better), I will outline some of the book’s arguments. The type of arguments I focus on are not explicitly formulated by Larmer, t .. (shrink)
Previous critics have argued that Robert McCauley defines religion and science selectively and arbitrarily, cutting them to fit his model in Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not. McCauley has responded that final definitions are “overrated” and that artificial distinctions can serve an important role in naturalistic investigation. I agree with this position but argue that a genealogy of the category of religion is crucial to the methodology that McCauley describes. Since the inherent ambiguity of religion will undermine (...) any essential claims about its cognitive naturalness, I invite McCauley to consider how his research might investigate scientific and religious cognition in new terms. (shrink)
In the second half of the seventeenth century, philosophy teaching in the Scottish universities gradually moved from scholasticism to Cartesianism. Robert Forbes, regent at Marischal College and King's College, Aberdeen, was a strenuous opponent of Descartes. The analysis of the philosophy of Forbes and of his teacher Patrick Gordon sheds light on the relationship between Scottish Reformed scholasticism and the reception of Descartes in Scotland.
In their respective commentaries to my article “Postphenomenology and the Politics of Sustainable Technology” both Robert Scharff and Michel Puech take issue with my postphenomenological inroad into the politics of technology. In a first step I try to accommodate the suggestions and objections raised by Scharff by making my account of the political more explicit. Consequently, I argue how an antagonistic relational conceptualisation of the political allows me to address head on Puech’s plea to leave politics behind and move (...) towards an ethically informed, post-political approach to sustainability. “But perhaps the question philosophy is confronted with—through the question of the political—might be whether not all reasoning, including a purely theoretical reasoning, can truly only be a political reasoning, resulting in an inevitable, indeed necessary circular structure” (Boehm 2002; author’s translation). In a footnote to my original article ‘Postphenomenology and the Politics of Sustainable Technology’, I wrote that “for the purpose of this paper, it suffices to say that I use the adjective ‘political’ to indicate all aspects of human and non-human agency that are related to ‘shaping the good life’ (Goeminne 2011a).” With hindsight, brought about by the commentaries of Scharff (2011) and Puech (2011), I now see that I could not have been more optimistic. Or should I say naïve? Indeed, although coming from different angles and resulting in very different suggestions, both commentaries precisely target my postphenomenological inroad into the ‘politics’ of technology. In challenging my grounding of the politics of technology in a postphenomenological perspective, Scharff in particular invites me to make my notion of the political more explicit. In what follows, I will therefore first elaborate my take on the political dimension of technology in dialogue with Scharff’s comments and suggestions. Armed with this deepened concept of the political, I will then address Puech’s plea to leave politics behind and move towards an ethically informed, post-political approach to sustainability. Evidently, within the limits of this piece, I can only indicate the broader direction my conceptualisation of the political takes. It suffices perhaps to say that, partly induced by the commentaries of Scharff and Puech, the question of the political has meanwhile taken a much more prominent place in my research as can be seen from a few recent publications [e.g. Goeminne (2012) and Goeminne (forthcoming)]. In saying this, I am also expressing my indebtedness to the commentators for nudging me in this political direction. (shrink)
One of Ludwik Fleck’s ideas about the development of scientific knowledge is that—once a system of interpretation is in place—the process that follows can be characterised as one of inertia: any new evidence comes under a strong pressure to be incorporated into the established frame. This can result in what Fleck called a harmony of illusions when contradictory evidence becomes almost invisible or is incorporated into the established frame only by huge efforts.The paper analyses early explanations of the tuberculin reaction (...) as a case study of Fleck’s argument. For Robert Koch, who had presented tuberculin in 1890, the compound was supposed to be a diagnostic tool and a cure for tuberculosis. His conception of its effect was rather peculiar, but strictly in line with ideas on the pathogenesis of infectious diseases he had developed much earlier. After tuberculin was released in late 1890, whether Koch’s conception was convincing depended on the place that a given observer had in the medical world in late-nineteenth-century Germany. Inside Koch’s group, the status of the tuberculin reaction remained stable and tuberculin retained its value as a diagnostic and curative tool. On the other hand, observers from outside that thought collective, and in particular from clinical medicine, soon pointed to flaws in its conception. These critics developed a rather different picture of tuberculin as a mysterious and dangerous drug. No reconciliation followed and what we find instead in German medicine around the year 1900 is the presence of rather contradictory concepts and practices surrounding Koch’s wonder cure. (shrink)
Abstract In Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Robert Stern argues that Hegel has a social command view of obligation. On this view, there is an element of social command or social sanction that must be added to a judgment of the good in order to bring about an obligation. I argue to the contrary that Hegel's conception of conscience, and thus the individual's role in obligation, is more central to his account than the social dimension. While agreeing with (...) Stern that Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit does preserve a role for obligation, and that the social plays an important part in that account, I argue that there is no extra social component that converts the morally good into obligation. Rather, Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit as the ?living good? means that judgments of the moral facts are simultaneously judgments of obligation. (shrink)
In A Third Window Robert Ulanowicz exposes the explanatory weaknesses of both classical and statistical methods in scientific inquiry. His book, however, does much more than that. While being completely grounded in empirical science, it also outlines a worldview, or a metaphysics, that renders intelligible the fact of chance and emergent novelty. Ulanowicz establishes his position by comparing his third window onto nature with two others conventional scientific approaches. The purpose of this essay is to point out the value (...) of Ulanowicz’s approach for improving the quality of conversation between science and theology. (shrink)
This paper documents an important development in Robert Boyle's natural-philosophical method – his use from the 1660s onwards of ‘heads’ and ‘inquiries’ as a means of organizing his data, setting himself an agenda when studying a subject and soliciting information from others. Boyle acknowledged that he derived this approach from Francis Bacon, but he had not previously used it in his work, and the reason why it came to the fore when it did is not apparent from his printed (...) and manuscript corpus. It is necessary to look beyond Boyle to his milieu for the cause, in this case to the influence on him of the Royal Society. Whereas the Royal Society in its early years is often seen as putting into practice a programme pioneered by Boyle, this crucial methodological change on his part seems rather to have been stimulated by the society's early concern for systematic data-collecting. In this connection, it is here shown that a key text, Boyle's influential ‘General Heads for a Natural History of a Country, Great or small’, published in Philosophical Transactions in 1666, represents more of a shared initiative between him and the society than has hitherto been appreciated. (shrink)
The present essay takes up matters discussed by Robert Pasnau in his response to our previous criticism of his account of Aquinas's view of when a foetus acquires a human soul. We are mainly concerned with metaphysical and biological issues and argue that the kind of organization required for ensoulment is that sufficient for the full development of a human being, and that this is present from conception. We contend that in his criticisms of our account Pasnau fails clearly (...) to distinguish first, between a passive potentiality and an active capacity; second, between having a power intrinsically and being an instrumental agent of that which has it intrinsically; third, between per accidens and per se causal series; and fourth, between sense cognition and conceptual thought. We conclude that philosophy and embryology support the position that human beings exist from the point of conception. (shrink)
This essay is a brief response to Durwood Foster and Richard Gelwick’s essays analyzing the 1963 encounter of Paul Tillich and Michael Polanyi and to Robert Russell’s assessment of the importantce of Polanyi’s ideas for recent theology and science discussions.
In a recent study of astrophysical “fine-tunings” (or “coincidences”), Robert Klee critically assesses the support that such astrophysical evidence might be thought to lend to the design argument (i.e., the argument that our universe has been designed by some deity). Klee argues that a proper assessment indicates that the universe is not as “fine-tuned” as advertised by proponents of the design arguments. We argue (i) that Klee’s assessment of the data is, to a certain extent, problematic; and (ii) even (...) if Klee’s assessment of the data is correct, it provides a necessary but not a sufficient response to the design argument. However, an adequate skeptical rejoinder to the design argument can be made by appealing to the anthropic principle. (shrink)
In a recent article, Robert Lockie brings about a critical examination of three Frankfurtstyle cases designed by David Widerker and Derk Pereboom. His conclusion is that these cases do not refute either the Principle of Alternative Possibilities or some cognate leeway principle for moral responsibility. Though I take the conclusion to be true, I contend that Lockie's arguments do not succeed in showing it. I concentrate on Pereboom's Tax Evasion 2. After presenting Pereboom's example and analyzing its structure, I (...) distinguish two strategies of Lockie's to defend PAP against it, which I call "No True Alternative Decision" and "No Responsibility", respectively. According to NTAD, Pereboom's example fails because the agent has alternatives to his decision. I hold that this strategy is faulty because the alternatives that Lockie points to are arguably not robust enough to save PAP. According to NR, the example fails because the agent is not blameworthy for his decision. After defending the intuitiveness of the agent's blameworthiness, I present Lockie's arguments against this blameworthiness and suggest that they might beg the question against Frankfurt theorists. I examine Lockie's main response to this question-begging objection and hold that it does not clearly succeed in meeting it. Moreover, I hold that this response faces other important problems. Additional responses appear to be unsatisfactory as well. Hence, Lockie's defense of the agent's blamelessness lacks justification. The general conclusion is that Lockie does not succeed in defusing Pereboom's Tax Evasion 2 as a counterexample to PAP. (shrink)
The recent, premature death of art critic Robert Hughes registered significant celebrity attention, but little for the extent and depth of his intellectual achievement. Hughes called himself a writer, or else a journalist. He had at least two especial qualifications, in this capacity. He had an Eye, but he also had a Voice. He was a brilliant, if sometimes prolix, writer and presenter. He was a performer, and his work should be seen as performance. This essay, offered as a (...) promissory note, seeks to place Robert Hughes in terms of style and substance but also in terms of centre and periphery, in terms of the cultural traffic between them. It touches on three aspects of his reception. First, on the obituaries, which sought largely to reclaim his body as Australian, even after 50 years of absence. Second, on The Fatal Shore and its reception, itself indicative of the difficulty in neatly placing Hughes in terms of nationalist conceptions. Third, it discusses leading critical interpretations, asking for more, please, and promising to help contribute to the appreciation of Hughes as Tory radical stylist and contrarian. (shrink)
When "Finite and Infinite Goods" was published in 1999, it took its place as one of the few major statements of a broadly Augustinian ethical philosophy of the past century. By "broadly Augustinian" I refer to the disposition to combine a Platonic emphasis on a transcendent source of value with a traditionally theistic emphasis on the value-creating capacities of absolute will. In the form that this disposition takes with Robert Merrihew Adams, it is the resemblance between divine and a (...) finite excellence that makes the finite excellence objectively of value, and it is the correspondence of an obligation to a divine command that makes the obligation objectively obligatory. I look closely at the complexity of this ethical division of labor--between the good and the right--mainly as it appears in the context of "Finite and Infinite Goods", but also with attention to the broader corpus of Adams's writings, particularly his work on Leibniz and the essays of his that have been gathered together in "The Virtue of Faith". I argue that there is a creative tension in his work between his desire to secure an objective basis for ethics and his affirmation of the value of grace, a love that is not proportioned to the excellence of its object. This tension, I further argue, ought to be resolved in the direction of grace. (shrink)
Ours is a discipline in which agreement is often a form of discourtesy, and so I must thank Christopher Janaway and Robert Pippin for doing me the courtesy of disagreeing with several issues in my book, most of which I will not be able to discuss here. Both are kind and generous friends, which is why they both begin by saying some very nice things about Nietzsche: Life as Literature.1 Or are they? Yes, they are, but that is not (...) to say they do so simply because they are kind and generous. Mindful of Pippin’s understanding of Hegel on the importance of a social and cultural context for meaningful human action, I would say that their attitude is channeled through the almost ironclad social practice—or convention—that .. (shrink)