Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.<sup>1</sup> That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product (...) of decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons. That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop values and beliefs besides those that presently make up her motives, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. An agent wills freely, on this view, by beingultimately (...) responsible for how she is currently disposed to act. Kane needs, then, to show how an agent could be responsible for decisions that her deliberations did not guarantee. He must also explain how a decision for which there is no decisive reason could yet be rational, assuming that the responsibility engendering decisions forming the basis of a free will would be rational. I shall argue here that Kane has achieved neither of these goals. (shrink)
[Robert Stalnaker] Saul Kripke made a convincing case that there are necessary truths that are knowable only a posteriori as well as contingent truths that are knowable a priori. A number of philosophers have used a two-dimensional model semantic apparatus to represent and clarify the phenomena that Kripke pointed to. According to this analysis, statements have truth-conditions in two different ways depending on whether one considers a possible world 'as actual' or 'as counterfactual' in determining the truth-value of the (...) statement relative to that possible world. There are no necessary a posteriori or contingent a priori propositions: rather, contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori statements are statements that are necessary when evaluated one way, and contingent when evaluated the other way. This paper distinguishes two ways that the two-dimensional framework can be interpreted, and argues that one of them gives the better account of what it means to 'consider a world as actual', but that it provides no support for any notion of purely conceptual a priori truth. /// [Thomas Baldwin] Two-dimensional possible world semantic theory suggests that Kripke's examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori should be handled by interpreting names as implicitly indexical. Like Stalnaker, I reject this account of names and accept that Kripke's examples have to be accommodated within a metasemantic theory. But whereas Stalnaker maintains that a metasemantic approach undermines the conception of a priori truth, I argue that it offers the opportunity to develop a conception of the a priori aspect of stipulations, conceived as linguistic performances. The resulting position accommodates Kripke's examples in a way which is both intrinsically plausible and fits with Kripke's actual discussion of them. (shrink)
Robert Owen was one of the most extraordinary Englishmen who ever lived and a great man. In a way his history is the history of the establishment of modern industrial Britain, reflected in the mind and activities of a very intelligent, capable and responsible industrialist, alive to the best social thought of his time. The organisation of industrial labour, factory legislation, education, trade unionism, co-operation, rationalism: he was passionately and ably engaged in all of them. His community at New (...) Lanark was the nearest thing to an industrial heaven in the Britain of dark satanic mills; he tried to found a rational co-operative community in the USA. In everything he contemplated, he saw education as a key. This selection of his writings on education illustrates his rationalist concept of the formation of character and its implications for education and society; also his growing utopian concern with social reorganisation; and third, his impact on social movements. Silver's introduction shows Owen's relationship to particular educational traditions and activities and his long-term influence on attitudes to education. (shrink)
Neither the existence of God nor the nature of God is apparent or obvious. If God exists, why is it not entirely clear to everyone that this is so? How can theists explain God's hiddenness, and how plausible are their explanations? God, if God exists, is an omnipotent, morally good, omnipresent being, than whom none greater can be conceived. Surely it is well within the abilities of God to let God's existence and nature be known to us. Why isn't the (...) existence and nature of our Heavenly Father as apparent as, say, the existence of our various earthly fathers? (shrink)
Winner of the 1975 National Book Award, this brilliant and widely acclaimed book is a powerful philosophical challenge to the most widely held political and social positions of our age--liberal, socialist, and conservative.
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
For most of the problems that economists consider, the assumption that agents are self-interested works well enough, generating predictions that are broadly consistent with observation. In some significant cases, however, we find economic behavior that seems to be inconsistent with self-interest. In particular, we find that some public goods and some charitable ventures are financed by the independent voluntary contributions of many thousands of individuals. In Britain, for example, the lifeboat service is entirely financed by voluntary contributions. In all rich (...) countries, charitable appeals raise large amounts of money for famine relief in the Third World. The willingness of individuals to contribute to such projects is an economic fact that requires an explanation. (shrink)
The contemporary explosion of information makes intellectual responsibility more needed than ever. The uncritical tend to believe too much that is unsubstantiated; the overcritical tend to believe too little that is true. A central problem for this paper is to formulate standards to guide an intellectually rigorous search for a mean between excessive credulity and indiscriminate skepticism. A related problem is to distinguish intellectual responsibility for what we believe from moral responsibility for what we do. A third problem is how (...) to square intellectual responsibility in retaining our views with the realization that peers we respect disagree with us. Much of the paper is directed to articulating principles for dealing with such disagreements. (shrink)
A standard objection to act utilitarian theories is that they are not helpful in deciding what it is morally permissible for us to do when we actually have to make a choice between alternatives. That is, such theories are worthless as decision procedures. A standard reply to this objection is that act utilitarian theories can be evaluated solely as theories about right-making characteristics and, when so evaluated, their inadequacy as decision procedures is irrelevant. Even if somewhat unappealing, this is an (...) effective reply to the standard objection. (shrink)
Robert Kane provides a critical overview of debates about free will of the past half century, relating this recent inquiry to the broader history of the free will issue and to vital currents of twentieth century thought. Kane also defends a traditional libertarian or incompatibilist view of free will, employing arguments that are both new to philosophy and that respond to contemporary developments in physics and biology, neuro science, and the cognitive and behavioral sciences.
A significant feature of John Stuart Mill's moral theory is the introduction of qualitative differences as relevant to the comparative value of pleasures. Despite its significance, Mill presents his doctrine of qualities of pleasures in only a few paragraphs in the second chapter of Utilitarianism, where he begins the brief discussion by saying: utilitarian writers in general have placed the superiority of mental over bodily pleasures chiefly … in their circumstantial advantages rather than in their intrinsic nature.… [B]ut they might (...) have taken the … higher ground with entire consistency. It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize the fact, that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone. (shrink)
The situationist challenge to global character traits claims that on the basis of findings in social psychology, we should only accept at most the existence of local or context-sensitive traits. In this article I explore a neglected area of J. S. Mill's work to outline an account of context-sensitive traits. This account of traits, coupled with a sophisticated consequentialist ethical framework, suggests an interesting view on which persons govern the circumstances of their actions in order to best promote overall well-being.
Robert Stalnaker explores the contexts in which speech takes place, the ways we represent them, and the roles they play in explaining the interpretation and dynamics of speech. His central thesis is the autonomy of pragmatics: the independence of theory about structure and function of discourse from theory about mechanisms serving those functions.
Formal axiology is based on the logical nature of meaning, namely intension, and on the structure of intension as a set of predicates. It applies set theory to this set of predicates. Set theory is a certain kind of mathematics that deals with subsets in general, and of finite and infinite sets in particular. Since mathematics is objective and a priori, formal axiology is an objective and a priori science; and a test based on it is an objective test based (...) on an objective standard.1. (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)
A companion volume to In the Realm of Organization, this book explores in detail the intricate relationships that exist between technology, representation and organization from a diversity of perspectives, relocating the study of organization in wider social theory.
Maximizing want-satisfaction per se is a relatively unattractive aspiration, for it seems to assume that wants are somehow disembodied entities with independent moral claims all of their own. Actually, of course, they are possessed by particular people. What preference-utilitarians should be concerned with is how people's lives go—the fulfilment of their projects and the satisfaction of their desires. In an old-fashioned way of talking, it is happy people rather than happiness per se that utilitarians should be striving to produce.
This Article is a short response to Anders Tolland's "Iterated Non-Refutation: Robert Lockie on Relativism", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 14, no. 2, 245-254, 2006. Tolland's article was itself a response to Lockie, R (2003) "Relativism and Reflexivity", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 11, no. 3, 319-339.
I have been arguing, for almost thirty years now, that emotions have been unduly neglected in philosophy. Back in the seventies, it was an argument that attracted little sympathy. I have also been arguing that emotions are a ripe for philosophical analysis, a view that, as evidenced by the Manchester 2001 conference and a large number of excellent publications, has now become mainstream. My own analysis of emotion, first published in 1973, challenged the sharp divide between emotions and rationality, insisted (...) that we reject the established notion that the emotions are involuntary, and argued, in a brief slogan, that ‘emotions are judgments.’ Since then, although the specific term ‘judgment’ has come under considerable fire and my voluntarist thesis continues to attract incredulousness the general approach I took to emotions has been widely accepted in both philosophy and the social sciences. When Paul Griffiths took on what he misleadingly characterized as ‘propositional attitude’ theories of emotion as the enemy of all that was true and scientifically worthy, I knew that we had made it. Such ferocious abuse is surely a sign that we had shifted, in Kuhnian terms, from being revolutionary to becoming the ‘normal’ paradigm. The current counter-revolution of affect programmes and neuro-reductionism says a lot about who we are and how far we have come. (shrink)
Robert Rupert argues against the view that human cognitive processes comprise elements beyond the boundary of the organism, developing a systems-based conception in place of this extended view. He also argues for a conciliatory understanding of the relation between the computational approach to cognition and the embedded and embodied views.
In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick contrasts entitlement theories of justice and “traditional” theories such as Rawls', utilitarianism or egalitarianism, and advocates the former against the latter. What exactly is an entitlement theory of justice? Nozick's book offers two distinct characterizations. On the one hand, he explicitly describes “the general outlines of the entitlement theory” as maintaining “that the holdings of a person are just if he is entitled to them by the principles of justice in acquisition and (...) transfer, or by the principle of rectification of injustice ”. On the other hand, his famous “Wilt Chamberlain” argument against alternative theories is first said to apply to “non-entitlement conceptions”, and later to any “end-state principle or distributional patterned principle of justice” — which amounts to an implicit characterization of an entitlement conception as a conception of justice which is neither end-state nor patterned. (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)
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)
Patriarcha -- The freeholder's grand inquest touching the king and his parliament -- Observations upon Aristotle's politiques touching forms of government -- Directions for obedience to government in dangerous or doubtful times -- Observations concerning the originall of government -- The anarchy of a limited or mixed monarchy -- The necessity of the absolute power of all kings.
European portraits of the great Asian states, China, India, and Persia, remained remarkably constant from the establishment of the Chinese silk trade in the first century B.C. until the religious and mercantile expeditions to the Orient prominent in the late Middle Ages. For more than a millenium, the Eastern empires had been classified by Europeans as stable despotisms – stationary societies governed by custom and tradition and devoid of economic, political, or cultural dynamism. Only during the Enlightenment did the proper (...) interpretation of the merits of ‘Oriental despotism’ become a matter of controversy. To some Enlightenment figures, the paternalistic despotisms of Asia appeared to be superior to the nations of Europe ethically and in the quality of their political, legal, and educational institutions. Many social philosophers of the period agreed that the example afforded by Asia could contribute much to the rejuvenation of European society they hoped to effect. (shrink)