_ Source: _Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 83 - 107 This paper examines Hobbes’s criticisms of Robert Boyle’s air-pump experiments in light of Hobbes’s account in _De Corpore_ and _De Homine_ of the relationship of natural philosophy to geometry. I argue that Hobbes’s criticisms rely upon his understanding of what counts as “true physics.” Instead of seeing Hobbes as defending natural philosophy as “a causal enterprise … [that] as such, secured total and irrevocable assent,” 1 I argue that, in (...) his disagreement with Boyle, Hobbes relied upon his understanding of natural philosophy as a mixed mathematical science. In a mixed mathematical science one can mix facts from experience with causal principles borrowed from geometry. Hobbes’s harsh criticisms of Boyle’s philosophy, especially in the _Dialogus Physicus, sive De natura aeris_, should thus be understood as Hobbes advancing his view of the proper relationship of natural philosophy to geometry in terms of mixing principles from geometry with facts from experience. Understood in this light, Hobbes need not be taken to reject or diminish the importance of experiment/experience; nor should Hobbes’s criticisms in _Dialogus Physicus_ be understood as rejecting experimenting as ignoble and not befitting a philosopher. Instead, Hobbes’s viewpoint is that experiment/experience must be understood within its proper place – it establishes the ‘that’ for a mixed mathematical science explanation. (shrink)
Renowned scholar RobertAdams explores the relation between religion and ethics through a comprehensive philosophical account of a theistically-based framework for ethics. Adams' framework begins with the good rather than the right, and with excellence rather than usefulness. He argues that loving the excellent, of which adoring God is a clear example, is the most fundamental aspect of a life well lived. Developing his original and detailed theory, Adams contends that devotion, the sacred, grace, martyrdom, worship, (...) vocation, faith, and other concepts drawn from religious ethics have been sorely overlooked in moral philosophy and can enrich the texture of ethical thought. (shrink)
Robert Merrihew Adams has been a leader in renewing philosophical respect for the idea that moral obligation may be founded on the commands of God. This collection of Adams' essays, two of which are previously unpublished, draws from his extensive writings on philosophical theology that discuss metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical issues surrounding the concept of God--whether God exists or not, what God is or would be like, and how we ought to relate ourselves to such a being. (...)Adams studies the relation between religion and ethics, delving into an analysis of moral arguments for theistic belief. In several essays, he applies contemporary studies in the metaphysics of individuality, possibility and necessity, and counterfactual conditionals to issues surrounding the existence of God and problems of evil. (shrink)
This is a fully revised edition of one of the most successful volumes in the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series. Incorporating extensive updates to the editorial apparatus, including the introduction, suggestions for further reading, and footnotes, this third edition of More's Utopia has been comprehensively re-worked to take into account scholarship published since the second edition in 2002. The vivid and engaging translation of the work itself by Robert M. Adams includes all the ancillary (...) materials by More's fellow humanists that, added to the book at his own request, collectively constitute the first and best interpretive guide to Utopia. Unlike other teaching editions of Utopia, this edition keeps interpretive commentary - whether editorial annotations or the many pungent marginal glosses that are an especially attractive part of the humanist ancillary materials - on the page they illuminate instead of relegating them to endnotes, and provides students with a uniquely full and accessible experience of More's perennially fascinating masterpiece. (shrink)
RobertAdams gives a comprehensive philosophical account of a theistically-based framework for ethics. He draws on over twenty years of his published work to create this overarching framework, which is based upon the idea of a transcendent, infinite good, which is God, and its relation to the many finite examples of good in our experience. In giving this account, Adams explores ways in which a variety of philosophically unfashionable religious concepts can enrich the texture of ethical thought.
This article is concerned with the shape of the story of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century moral philosophy as told by J. B. Schneewind in The Invention of Autonomy. After discussion of alternative possible shapes for such a story, the focus falls on the question to what extent, in Schneewind's account, strands of empiricist voluntarism and rationalist intellectualism are interwoven in Kant. This in turn leads to consideration of different types of voluntarism and their roles in early modern ethical theory. Correspondence:c1 (...) class='Hi'>email@example.com. (shrink)
This paper argues that, contrary to the claims of Alan Chalmers, Boyle understood his experimental work to be intimately related to his mechanical philosophy. Its central claim is that the mechanical philosophy has a heuristic structure that motivates and gives direction to Boyle's experimental programme. Boyle was able to delimit the scope of possible explanations of any phenomenon by positing both that all qualities are ultimately reducible to a select group of mechanical qualities and that all explanations of natural phenomena (...) are to be in terms of the operations of machines and are to appeal only to qualities that are already familiar. This is illustrated by his investigations into the Torricellian experiment. Boyle's explanation of the elevation of the mercurial cylinder by appeal to the spring of the air was an intermediate mechanical explanation. Boyle was convinced that the spring of the air was ultimately reducible to the mechanical qualities. This in turn had implications for his research into the cause of respiration. In a move that was both parsimonious and consistent with the broad requirements of the mechanical philosophy, Boyle was able to solve the problem of the cause of the inflow of air into the lungs by appeal to his research in pneumatics. This application of a mechanical explanation in pneumatics to physiology is just what one would expect if the mechanical philosophy was as universal as Boyle claimed it to be. Therefore, far from Boyle's experiments having a life of their own, they were clearly directed by and understood in terms of the mechanical philosophy. (shrink)
Versions of this paper have been read to philosophical colloquia at Occidental College and California State University, Fullerton. I am indebted to participants in those discussions, to students in many of my classes, and particularly to Marilyn McCord Adams, Van Harvey, Thomas Kselman, William Laserow, and James Muyskens, for helpful comment on the ideas which are contained in this paper (or which would have been, had it not been for their criticisms).
In “Beat the (Backward) Clock,” we argued that John Williams and Neil Sinhababu’s Backward Clock Case fails to be a counterexample to Robert Nozick’s or Fred Dretske’s Theories of Knowledge. Williams’ reply to our paper, “There’s Nothing to Beat a Backward Clock: A Rejoinder to Adams, Barker and Clarke,” is a further attempt to defend their counterexample against a range of objections. In this paper, we argue that, despite the number and length of footnotes, Williams is still wrong.
Fundamental problems of environmental sustainability, including climate change and fisheries management, require collective action on a scale that transcends the political and cultural boundaries of the nation-state. Rational, self-interested neoclassical economic theories of human behavior predict tragedy in the absence of third party enforcement of agreements and practical difficulties that prevent privatization. Evolutionary biology offers a theory of cooperation, but more often than not in a context of discrimination against other groups. That is, in-group boundaries are necessarily defined by those (...) excluded as members of out-groups. However, in some settings human’s exhibit behavior that is inconsistent with both rational economic and group driven cooperation of evolutionary biological theory. This paper reports the results of a non-cooperative game-theoretic exercise that models a tragedy of the commons problem in which groups of players may advance their own positions only at the expense of other groups. Students enrolled from multiple universities and assigned to different multi-university identity groups participated in experiments that repeatedly resulted in cooperative outcomes despite intergroup conflicts and expressions of group identity. We offer three possible explanations: students were cooperative because they were in an academic setting; students may have viewed their instructors as the out-group; or the emergence of a small number of influential, ethical leaders is sufficient to ensure cooperation amongst the larger groups. From our data and analysis, we draw out lessons that may help to inform approaches for institutional design and policy negotiations, particularly in climate change management. (shrink)
RobertAdams’s Finite and Infinite Goods is one of the most important and innovative contributions to theistic ethics in recent memory. This article identifies two major flaws at the heart of Adams’s theory: his notion of intrinsic value and his claim that ‘excellence’ or finite goodness is constituted by resemblance to God. I first elucidate Adams’s complex, frequently misunderstood claims concerning intrinsic value and Godlikeness. I then contend that Adams’s notion of intrinsic value cannot explain (...) what it could mean for countless finite goods to be intrinsically valuable. Next, I articulate a criticism of his Godlikeness thesis altogether unlike those he has previously addressed: I show that, on Adams’s own account of Godlikeness, a diverse myriad of excellences could not possibly count as resembling God. His theory thus fails to account for a whole world of finite goods. I defend my two criticisms against objections and briefly sketch a more Aristotelian and Christian way forward. (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)
This essay reviews Robert Merrihew Adams’ approaches to the philosophy of Leibniz, both his general methodological approaches, and some of the main themes of his work. It attempts to assess his contribution both to the study of Leibniz and to the history of philosophy more generally.