In his new book, "The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe," Robert J. Richards argues that Charles Darwin's true evolutionary roots lie in the German Romantic biology that flourished around the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is argued that Richards is quite wrong in this claim and that Darwin's roots are in the British society within which he was born, educated, and lived.
One important point that has emerged from recent work on the history and philosophy of experiment is that technology plays an integral role in experiment, and therefore in science. Technology determines what experimenters can measure and how well it can be measured. The importance of technology, along with several new questions that its use raises, has been made quite clear in the papers presented in this session.
In this book, Christopher Evan Franklin develops and defends a novel version of event-causal libertarianism. This view is a combination of libertarianism--the view that humans sometimes act freely and that those actions are the causal upshots of nondeterministic processes--and agency reductionism--the view that the causal role of the agent in exercises of free will is exhausted by the causal role of mental states and events (e.g., desires and beliefs) involving the agent. Franklin boldly counteracts a dominant theory that (...) has similar aims, put forth by well-known philosopher Robert Kane. -/- Many philosophers contend that event-causal libertarians have no advantage over compatibilists when it comes to securing a distinctively valuable kind of freedom and responsibility. To Franklin, this position is mistaken. Assuming agency reductionism is true, event-causal libertarians need only adopt the most plausible compatibilist theory and add indeterminism at the proper juncture in the genesis of human action. The result is minimal event-causal libertarianism: a model of free will with the metaphysical simplicity of compatibilism and the intuitive power of libertarianism. And yet a worry remains: toward the end of the book, Franklin reconsiders his assumption of agency reductionism, arguing that this picture faces a hitherto unsolved problem. This problem, however, has nothing to do with indeterminism or determinism, or even libertarianism or compatibilism, but with how to understand the nature of the self and its role in the genesis of action. Crucially, if this problem proves unsolvable, then not only is event-causal libertarianism untenable, so also is event-causal compatibilism. (shrink)
Questions on "animal rights" in a cross-national survey conducted in 1993 provide an opportunity to compare the applicability to this issue of two theories of the socio-political changes summed up in "postmodernity": Inglehart's thesis of "postmaterialist values" and Franklin's synthesis of theories of late modernity. Although Inglehart seems not to have addressed human-nonhuman animal relations, it is reasonable to apply his theory of changing values under conditions of "existential security" to "animal rights." Inglehart's postmaterialism thesis argues that new values (...) emerged within specific groups because of the achievement of material security. Although emphasizing human needs, they shift the agenda toward a series of lifestyle choices that favor extending lifestyle choices, rights, and environmental considerations. Franklin's account of nonhuman animals and modern cultures stresses a generalized "ontological insecurity." Under postmodern conditions, changes to core aspects of social and cultural life are both fragile and fugitive. As neighborhood, community,family,and friendship relations lose their normative and enduring qualities, companion animals increasingly are drawn in to those formerly exclusive human emotional spaces.With a method used by Inglehart and a focus in countries where his postmaterialist effects should be most evident, this study derives and tests different expectations from the theories, then tests them against data from a survey supporting Inglehart's theory. His theory is not well supported. We conclude that its own anthropocentrism limits it and that the allowance for hybrids of nature-culture in Franklin's account offers more promise for a social theory of animal rights in changing times. (shrink)
A collection of articles on the the principles of social justice from an Australian Catholic perspective. Contents: Forward (Archbishop Philip Wilson), Introduction (James Franklin), The right to life (James Franklin), The right to serve and worship God in public and private (John Sharpe), The right to religious formation (Richard Rymarz), The right to personal liberty under just law (Michael Casey), The right to equal protection of just law regardless of sex, nationality, colour or creed (Sam Gregg), The (...) right to freedom of expression (Damian Grace), The right to choose and freely maintain a state of life, married or single, lay or religious (Marita Winters), The right to education (Anthony Cleary), The right to petition government for the redress of grievances (Paul Russell), The right to a nationality (Andrew Hamilton), The right to have access to the means of livelihood, by migration when necessary (Brenda Hubber), The right of association and peaceful assembly (Michael Hogan), The right to work and choose one's occupation (Ian Blandthorn), The right to personal ownership, use and disposal of property subject to the right of others (Brian Coman), The right to a living wage (Garrick Small), The right to collective bargaining (Keith Harvey), The right to associate by industries and professions to obtain economic justice (Henrik Jurisevic), The right to assistance from society, if necessary from the State, in distress of persons and family (Catherine Althaus), Afterword (James Franklin). (shrink)
Libertarianism has, seemingly, always been in disrepute among philosophers. While throughout history philosophers have offered different reasons for their dissatisfaction with libertarianism, one worry is recurring: namely a worry about luck. To many, it seems that if our choices and actions are undetermined, then we cannot control them in a way that allows for freedom and responsibility. My fundamental aim in this paper is to place libertarians on a more promising track for formulating a defensible libertarian theory. I begin by (...) arguing that Robert Kane's influential formulation of libertarianism actually generates an acute worry about luck, showing specifically that Kane's recipe for solving the problem of luck and his attendant conception of the location and role of indeterminism derived from it are deeply problematic. I then offer a reformulation of libertarianism ? particularly a new conception of the location and role of indeterminism ? that is capable of avoiding the problems that beset Kane's theory and that, I argue, places libertarians on a more promising track for formulating a defensible theory. (shrink)
Strangers to Nature brings together many of the leading scholars who are working to redefine and expand the discourse on animal ethics. This volume will engage both scholars and lay-people by revealing the breadth of theorizing about the human/non-human animal relationship that is currently taking place.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better if we were immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Life, Death, and Meaning brings together key readings, primarily by English-speaking philosophers, on such 'big questions.'.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better to be immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Since Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions first appeared, David Benatar's distinctive anthology designed to introduce students to the key existential questions of philosophy has won a devoted following among users in a variety of upper-level and even introductory courses.
Michael Hunter, The Boyle Papers: Understanding the Manuscripts of Robert Boyle. With contributions by Edward B. Davis, Harriet Knight, Charles Littleton and Lawrence M. Principe. Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007. Pp. xiii + 674. US$139.95/£70.00 HB. -/- The publication by Michael Hunter of this revised edition of the catalogue of the Boyle Papers contributes admirably to the renaissance in Boyle studies which has taken place over the past decade and a half. Robert Boyle (1627–91), arguably (...) the most influential British scientist of the late seventeenth century, was a pioneering experimenter, profound thinker, and figure-head of the new science in its early years of development. This volume brings together the materials necessary for understanding the Boyle archive, one of the most important archives from this period, which has been at the Royal Society since 1769. (shrink)
Simon Blackburn has not shied away from the use of vivid imagery in developing, over a long and prolific career, a large-scale philosophical vision. Here one might think, for instance, of ‘Practical Tortoise Raising’ or ‘Ramsey's Ladder’ or ‘Frege's Abyss’. Blackburn develops a ‘quasi-realist’ account of many of our philosophical and everyday commitments, both theoretical (e.g., modality and causation) and practical (e.g., moral judgement and normative reasons). Quasi-realism aims to provide a naturalistic treatment of its targeted phenomena while earning the (...) right to deploy all of the ‘trappings’ of realism—i.e., while eschewing any idea that our normal thought and talk about such phenomena are pervasively in error. The quasi-realist project is that of explaining how (as Huw Price puts it here) ‘the folk come to “talk the realist talk” without committing ourselves—us theorists, as it were—to “walking the metaphysical walk”’ (p. 136). Quasi-realism, too, can speak of truth, facts, properties, belief, knowledge, and so on. The imagery in this collection also abounds, though, in capturing a different view of quasi-realism: No fewer than three of the contributors picture Blackburn as wanting to have his cake and eat it too (Louise Antony asking, in addition, ‘Who doesn't? It's cake’ [p. 19]). (shrink)