Counterfactual reasoning research typically demonstrates contrast effects—nearly winning evokes frustration, whereas nearly losing evokes exhilaration. The present work, however, describes conditions under which assimilative responses (i.e., when judgements are pulled towards a comparison standard) also occur. Participants solved analogies and learned that they had either nearly attained a target score or nearly failed to attain it. Participants in the no trajectory condition received this feedback in the absence of any prior feedback, whereas those in the trajectory condition received feedback after (...) having received prior feedback conforming to either an ascending or descending pattern. Participants then provided perceptions of their verbal intelligence. Assimilation effects were observed in the trajectory conditions but attenuated in the no trajectory conditions. Discussion focuses on the role of feedback dynamics in determining responses to close-call counterfactuals. (shrink)
A recent paper by David Levy focuses on “utility enhancing consumption constraints.” Levy concludes by noting that his analysis stays within standard utility maximizing theory, in contrast to my analysis of rule-governed behavior which allows imperfect decisions that don't always maximize utility. I wish to show how our two theories can be integrated, thereby representing complementary, rather than conflicting, explanations. In the process, I argue that imperfect decisions are an essential factor in the stability of any rule that constrains freedom (...) of choice. I also briefly discuss certain intrinsic problems with achieving “self-stabilizing” rules applied to moral teachings. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the role of rational belief change theory in the philosophical understanding of experimental error. Today, philosophers seek insight about error in the investigation of specific experiments, rather than in general theories. Nevertheless, rational belief change theory adds to our understanding of just such cases: R. A. Fisher’s criticism of Mendel’s experiments being a case in point. After an historical introduction, the main part of this paper investigates Fisher’s paper from the point of view of rational (...) belief change theory: what changes of belief about Mendel’s experiment does Fisher go through and with what justification. It leads to surprising insights about what Fisher had done right and wrong, and, more generally, about the limits of statistical methods in detecting error. (shrink)
In the last twenty years, beginning with a seminal paper by Dagfinn Follesdal published in 1969,1 analytic philosophy has shown a renewed and increasing interest in Husserl's phenomenology. 2 In Husserl and Inten- tionality, David Woodruff Smith and Ronald Mclntyre give an important contribution to this line of research. The book is written in the analytic tradition, and represents in part an attempt at making phenomenology palatable to those who look suspiciously at 'continental philosophy'. Thus it provides a double (...) service: it introduces phenomenology to an analytic public, and it shows to those raised in the opposite tradition what kind of reception their tradition has overseas. (shrink)
Ronald Preston wrote little of feminism, and feminism appears to have ignored Preston. There is much, however, in Preston's work which feminists would have found sympathetic, as well as some areas for acute disagreement. This article discusses what Preston did write about feminism, and goes on to examine areas of common approach: the hermeneutic of suspicion, social ethics, and a priori commitments. It also, briefly, discusses areas of disagreement: common consensus, universalism, and eschatological realism. It ends with the question (...) of why Preston did not engage more fully with the radical changes in the position of women which occurred during his lifetime. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to examine and challenge the assumption that the theological legacy of Archbishop William Temple is best continued in the work of Ronald Preston. Preston's concerns in the areas of social ethics and ecumenical relations, as well as his championing of middle axioms, demonstrate his indebtedness to Temple's influence. However, a closer examination of the doctrinal foundations of Preston's social and ecumenical thought did not display a deep understanding of Temple's thought. This is most (...) noticeable in the area of ecclesiology. If Preston had not dismissed Temple's earlier works in favour of the 1942 Christianity and Social Order, he might have avoided developing a theory of the church whose being does not support the tasks Preston requires it to do. (shrink)
Liberalism is a wonderful theory, but its adherents have a difficult time explaining why. In his Tanner Lecture entitled Foundations of Liberal Equality , Ronald Dworkin proposes to defend liberalism in a new way. Dworkin is not content to view liberalism as a political compromise in which people set aside their personal convictions in the interest of social peace. Instead, he undertakes to make liberal political theory “continuous” with personal ethics, by describing an ethical position that endorses liberalism as (...) a matter of conviction. (shrink)
My objective is to extend Ronald Green’s account of postmodernism by asking how postmodern ethicists should interview business people. I note the use of the interview method in current business ethics research. I then present Jeffrey Stout’s criticism of Robert Bellah’s interview techniques used in Habits of the Heart, which prompts questions about what constitutes a postmodern interview. In conclusion I seek clarification about whether and in what sense Ron Green intends to be a “foundationalist postmodern business ethicist.”.
The text in which the original JRE editors announced the mission of their newly launched scholarly journal is susceptible to different readings. While Ronald Green has interpreted it as an intention to "effect" a "movement from Christian ethics to religious ethics," the author expresses doubt that any such general framework of "religious ethics" can be discerned in or imposed on distinctive religious traditions. He suggests that the problem of "parochialism and Western bias" is best addressed not through the imperialism (...) of the generic but through sustained attention to the distinctive and particular in all its variations. (shrink)
This dissertation proposes a new reading and appraisal of an important theory of distributive justice, Ronald Dworkin's "Equality of Resources" . ER is traditional in holding that choices made by rational, ignorant and purely self-interested beings are relevant to distributive justice. ER is novel both in its use of such choices and in incorporating the idea that one's success is largely one's own responsibility into liberal egalitarianism. ;I argue that the tax-and-redistribution scheme Dworkin proposes to make actual distributions just (...) is flawed because he misconceives the role of choice. He errs in thinking that the conditions for person X to receive compensation depend on the choices of such beings, although he is right, I argue, insofar as the relevant choices include X's hypothetical choices. Dworkin errs in that ER implies that whether X meets these conditions can depend on X's irrational choices, although he is right that whether X meets these conditions can depend on some of X's actual choices. ER becomes flawed, I argue, when Dworkin derives a tax-and-redistribution scheme designed to achieve distributive justice in reality from the auction he proposes for making hypothetical distributions just. ;I then consider whether ER withstands stock objections and how plausible it is relative to rival Theories. Dworkin argues that ER, but not Rawls' Theory, meets the following condition for a Theory to be plausible: the distributions a Theory deems just must be sensitive to choices. I argue that Dworkin's argument is no longer plausible once we realize to which choice sensitivity principle he is himself committed. However, I argue, Seana Shiffrin's objection to ER fails because she misunderstands the role of choice in ER, although she is right insofar as there is a related, though superficial, objection. I also argue that ER is inconsistent and show how to resolve this inconsistency without leaving ER vulnerable to attack by G. A. Cohen's rival Theory. I trace ER's inconsistency and the failure of Dworkin's argument against Rawls' Theory to Dworkin's method of justification. (shrink)
Ronald Dworkin’s posthumous book Religion Without God searches for the possibility of atheistic religiosity. Rather than clarifying the situation, this book does more to confuse it, and succeeds in undermining his expressed humanitarian goals.
In the second of his three prefaces to On Authority and Revelation , Kierkegaard writes: ‘“My reader”, may I simply beg you to read this book, for it is important for my main effort, wherefore I am minded to recommend it’ The question I will put to myself to begin my reflections on the book is: why should Kierkegaard recommend it so strongly? What is Kierkegaard doing in this book? One notices in his recommendation that it is addressed to his (...) reader who, presumably, is not simply the reader of this book but the reader of his other books as well. The Concluding UnscientUc Postscript was being published about the same time , and so the reader may well have been familiar with most of Kierkegaard's main philosophical works. The recommendation then is set in this context. The book is, on the face of it, so unlike the other works, concerned with certain odd claims to a revelation by a Danish pastor named Adler. Much of the book discusses the details of a deposition of Adler given to the local bishop and some details of later defences which Adler gave of his revelation in several works and sermons. It appears to be a local squabble of no general interest and certainly not the sort of thing that had occupied Kierkegaard's philosophical attention to this point. The book, then, stands in need of a recommendation to Kierkegaard's reader who is not otherwise prepared for this genre. But the recommendation does not say, ‘Try this, though quite different, you may like it.’ It says rather that the reader should read it, and later he adds read it carefully, because it is ‘important for my main effort’. So the book is to be seen as of a piece with the other main works of Kierkegaard. This is what I should like to understand in the following discussion: how is this book important for Kierkegaard's main effort? (shrink)
It is true that we draw nearer the key significance of Fear and Trembling if we supplement the now too standard readings of the text as an exploration of the moral force of divine commands, but to do that we need not resort to reading the work exclusively as a treatment of justification by faith. Kierkegaard presents Abraham as an exemplar whose faith is informed by, but not constricted by, the ethical and whose example has, and is meant to have, (...) normative force. (shrink)
. Michael Polanyi’s distinction between the indicative meaning of scientific statements and the symbolic and metaphorical meaning of art and religion, presented in Meaning, is based on an abstraction from concrete experience and betrays an inadequate understanding of religious discourse, particularly the discourse of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. In fact, Polanyi’s vision in Personal Knowledge, which analyses the priority of personal action to all achievements of explication, seems either to be denied or forgotton by the positions taken in Meaning. Hence, the (...) argument here is that Meaning is a deviation from Personal Knowledge and a step away from the resources necessary to grasp adequately the logic of religious discourse. (shrink)
Careful examination of the facts of record shows that the JRE has been as successful as its competitors in expanding the cultural range and scope of inquiry in religious ethics. Yet it should be noted that the debate between cultural particularists and philosophical ethicists, a debate that has shaped the actual practices of the field of comparative religious studies, has not been vigorously pursued in these pages. Likewise, the JRE has not yet realized its potential to foster collaborative work among (...) scholars working in different religious traditions, to encourage attention to neglected topics, or to enlarge, through fuller attention to diverse religious traditions, the range of ethical and metaethical interests that dominate inquiry in religious ethics. (shrink)
In this paper, in response to Nicolson’s claim that South African liberation theology is non‐realist – or at least is non‐realist in its language – I suggest that Albert Nolan’s important book God in South Africa is not based on such an “exotic” philosophical basis but is a reflection using the populist Marxism of the anti‐apartheid struggle of the 1980s. The clue here is Nolan’s use of the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis, an integral part of ANC and Communist (...) Party discourse since the 1960s. Nolan himself has described his work as “historical materialist” in its philosophical language. Such a position seems far removed from non‐realism, although they certainly sound similar in Nolan’s God‐language.I then examine non‐realist theologian Don Cupitt’s model of “militant religious humanism” and conclude that a non‐realist liberation or political theology along these lines suffers too much from a sense of relativism or absurdity for it to be of use to those who use liberation theology. From this I try to suggest how a non‐realist liberation theology might be developed. In the end, however, I conclude that though such a theology could be constructed, it would probably not be effective: liberation theology requires a real God who really sides with the poor. (shrink)