The word "truth" retains, in common use, traces of origins that link it to trust, troth, and truce, connoting ideas of fidelity, loyalty, and authenticity. The word has become, in contemporary philosophy, encased in a web of technicalities, but we know that a true image is a faithful portrait; a true friend a loyal one. In a novel or a poem, too, we have a feel for what is emotionally true, though we are not concerned with the actuality of events (...) and characters depicted. To have emotions is to care about certain things: we can wonder whether those things are really worth caring about. We can wonder whether our passions reflect who we are, and whether they constitute fitting responses to the vicissitudes of life. So there are two aspects to emotional truth: how well an emotion reflects the threats and promises of the world, and how well it reflects our own individual nature. That is the starting point of this book, which looks first at the analogies and disanalogies between strict propositional truth and a looser, "generic" sense of truth. As applied to emotions, generic truth is closer to those original meanings: as in a portrait's fidelity or friend's loyalty. Taken in this sense, the notion of emotional truth opens up large vistas on areas of life essential to our existence as social beings, and to our concerns with beauty, morality, love, death, sex, knowledge, desire, coherence, and happiness. Each of those topics illustrates some facet of the dominant theme of the book: the crucial but often ambivalent role of our emotions in grounding and yet also sometimes undermining our values. Emotions act, in holistic perspective, as ultimate arbiters of values where different and independently justified standards of value compete. (shrink)
Professor Narveson's comments about my papers on equality are both penetrating and comprehensive. I cannot hope to discuss all the issues he raises in any detail. But there is a special problem: his main question is about what I have not said. He asks how I might defend equality of resources other than simply by describing a version of it, and of course this question will require some extended discussion. But he is right to say that this is his most (...) important question, and I should hate to lose the opportunity of encouraging discussion of it. So I shall begin with some general remarks about the defence of the idea of equality and then take up, in a very hasty and summary way, the other problems he discusses or raises. Please allow me, however, this apology and caution. I know that what I shall say about the defense of equality is at many points dogmatic and at others unmindful of very natural objections and replies. I want to answer Narveson only by showing in a rough and general way how far I think a defense of equality is possible, what kind of defense this can be, and what form it should take. (shrink)
Very often moral disagreements can be resolved by appealing to factual considerations because in these cases the parties to the dispute agree as to which factual considerations are relevant. They agree, that is, with respect to their basic moral standards. Hence, when their disagreement about the non-moral facts is resolved, so is their moral disagreement. But sometimes moral disagreement persists in spite of agreement on factual considerations. When this happens, and when neither party is guilty of illogical thinking, we have (...) a case of moral deadlock. (shrink)
It has long been recognized that Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling is a cryptogram. Encoded within a series of reflections and commentaries on Genesis 22 is a deeper message directed at a reader or readers presumably capable of deciphering the hidden meaning. That this is true is suggested by the book's epigraph: ‘What Tarquinius Superbus said in the garden by means of the poppies, the son understood but the messenger did not.’.
Many people assume that the claims of scientists are objective truths. But historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science have long argued that scientific claims reflect the particular historical, cultural, and social context in which those claims were made. The nature of scientific knowledge is not absolute because it is influenced by the practice and perspective of human agents. Scientific Perspectivism argues that the acts of observing and theorizing are both perspectival, and this nature makes scientific knowledge contingent, as Thomas Kuhn (...) theorized forty years ago. Using the example of color vision in humans to illustrate how his theory of “perspectivism” works, Ronald N. Giere argues that colors do not actually exist in objects; rather, color is the result of an interaction between aspects of the world and the human visual system. Giere extends this argument into a general interpretation of human perception and, more controversially, to scientific observation, conjecturing that the output of scientific instruments is perspectival. Furthermore, complex scientific principles—such as Maxwell’s equations describing the behavior of both the electric and magnetic fields—make no claims about the world, but models based on those principles can be used to make claims about specific aspects of the world. Offering a solution to the most contentious debate in the philosophy of science over the past thirty years, Scientific Perspectivism will be of interest to anyone involved in the study of science. (shrink)
Debate over the nature of science has recently moved from the halls of academia into the public sphere, where it has taken shape as the "science wars." At issue is the question of whether scientific knowledge is objective and universal or socially mediated, whether scientific truths are independent of human values and beliefs. Ronald Giere is a philosopher of science who has been at the forefront of this debate from its inception, and Science without Laws offers a much-needed mediating (...) perspective on an increasingly volatile line of inquiry. Giere does not question the major findings of modern science: for example, that the universe is expanding or that inheritance is carried by DNA molecules with a double helical structure. But like many critics of modern science, he rejects the widespread notion of science--deriving ultimately from the Enlightenment--as a uniquely rational activity leading to the discovery of universal truths underlying all natural phenomena. In these highly readable essays, Giere argues that it is better to understand scientists as merely constructing more or less abstract models of limited aspects of the world. Such an understanding makes possible a resolution of the issues at stake in the science wars. The critics of science are seen to be correct in rejecting the Enlightenment idea of science, and its defenders are seen to be correct in insisting that science does produce genuine knowledge of the natural world. Giere is utterly persuasive in arguing that to criticize the Enlightenment ideal is not to criticize science itself, and that to defend science one need not defend the Enlightenment ideal. Science without Laws thus stakes out a middle ground in these debates by showing us how science can be better conceived in other ways. (shrink)
In 1993, Professor of Jurisprudence, Ronald Dworkin of Oxford University and Professor of Law at New York University, delivered the Georgetown Law Center’s thirteenth Annual Philip A. Hart Memorial Lecture: "Life’s Dominion: An Argument About Abortion and Euthanasia." Dworkin is Professor of Philosophy and Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law at New York University. He received B.A. degrees from both Harvard College and Oxford University, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Learned Hand. He was (...) associated with a law firm in New York (Sullivan and Cromwell) and was a professor of law at Yale University Law School from 1962-1969. He has been Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford and Fellow of University College since 1969. He has a joint appointment at Oxford and at NYU where he is a professor both in the Law School and the Philosophy Department. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Dworkin is the author of many articles in philosophical and legal journals as well as articles on legal and political topics in the New York Review of Books. He has written Taking Rights Seriously (1977), A Matter of Principle (1985), Law’s Empire (1986), Philosophical Issues in Senile Dementia (1987), A Bill of Rights for Britain (1990), Life’s Dominion (1993), and Freedom’s Law (1996). (shrink)
In some recent theological writing, imagination is presented as a power of the mind with crucial importance for religion, but one whose role has often suffered neglect. Its fuller acknowledgment has become a live issue today. ‘Theologians’, wrote Professor J. P. Mackey, ‘have recently taken to symbol and metaphor, poetry and story, with an enthusiasm which contrasts very strikingly with their all-but-recent avoidance of such matters’ . As well as relevant writings by Eliade and Ricoeur, there have been treatments of (...) religious imagination by Professor John Mclntyre in his Faith, Theology and Imagination and in J. P. Mackey's composite volume entitled Religious Imagination. (shrink)
I shall mean by ‘cosmic imagination’, first, the mental appropriating of objects, events, processes or patterns perceived in nature-atlarge , so as to apply them in articulating our own scheme of values , and in our quest for self-understanding. I shall apply the phrase also to the synthesising activity of the mind in our appraising of items in wider nature itself or as a whole – whether we believe nature to have no value save what we choose to confer or (...) project on it, or take it to have a value that sets limits on our appropriation, benign or exploitative. (shrink)
Aristotle's De Anima is the first systematic philosophical account of the soul, which serves to explain the functioning of all mortal living things. In his commentary, Ronald Polansky argues that the work is far more structured and systematic than previously supposed. He contends that Aristotle seeks a comprehensive understanding of the soul and its faculties. By closely tracing the unfolding of the many-layered argumentation and the way Aristotle fits his inquiry meticulously within his scheme of the sciences, Polansky answers (...) questions relating to the general definition of soul and the treatment of each of the soul's principal capacities: nutrition, sense perception, phantasia, intellect, and locomotion. The commentary sheds light on every section of the De Anima and the work as a unit. It offers a challenge to earlier and current interpretations of the relevance and meaning of Aristotle's highly influential treatise. (shrink)
From "Materialism and Revolution" through _Hope Now_, Jean-Paul Sartre was deeply engaged with questions about the meaning and justifiability of violence. In the first comprehensive treatment of Sartre’s views on the subject, Ronald Santoni begins by tracing the full trajectory of Sartre’s evolving thought on violence and shows how the "curious ambiguity" of freedom affirming itself against freedom in his earliest writings about violence developed into his "curiously ambivalent" position through his later writings.
'Principles Of Mental Imagery' offers a broad, balanced, and up-to-date introduction to the major findings of this research and identifies five general principles that can account for most of them. It considers the development of experimental techniques that have solved many of the challenging methodological problems inherent in imagery research and includes recent experimental findings not covered in other imagery books..
Politics in America are polarized and trivialized, perhaps as never before. In Congress, the media, and academic debate, opponents from right and left, the Red and the Blue, struggle against one another as if politics were contact sports played to the shouts of cheerleaders. The result, Ronald Dworkin writes, is a deeply depressing political culture, as ill equipped for the perennial challenge of achieving social justice as for the emerging threats of terrorism. Can the hope for change be realized? (...) Dworkin, one the world's leading legal and political philosophers, identifies and defends core principles of personal and political morality that all citizens can share. He shows that recognizing such shared principles can make substantial political argument possible and help replace contempt with mutual respect. Only then can the full promise of democracy be realized in America and elsewhere. Dworkin lays out two core principles that citizens should share: first, that each human life is intrinsically and equally valuable and, second, that each person has an inalienable personal responsibility for identifying and realizing value in his or her own life. He then shows what fidelity to these principles would mean for human rights, the place of religion in public life, economic justice, and the character and value of democracy. Dworkin argues that liberal conclusions flow most naturally from these principles. Properly understood, they collide with the ambitions of religious conservatives, contemporary American tax and social policy, and much of the War on Terror. But his more basic aim is to convince Americans of all political stripes--as well as citizens of other nations with similar cultures--that they can and must defend their own convictions through their own interpretations of these shared values. (shrink)
The university has lost its way. The world needs the university more than ever but for new reasons. If we are to clarify its new role in the world, we need to find a new vocabulary and a new sense of purpose. The university is faced with supercomplexity, in which our very frames of understanding, action and self-identity are all continually challenged. In such a world, the university has explicitly to take on a dual role: firstly, of compounding supercomplexity, so (...) making the world ever more challenging; and secondly, of enabling us to live effectively in this chaotic world. Internally, too, the university has to become a new kind of organization, adept at fulfilling this dual role. The university has to live by the uncertainty principle: it has to generate uncertainty, to help us live with uncertainty, and even to revel in our uncertainty. Ronald Barnett offers nothing less than a fundamental reworking of the way in which we understand the modern university. Realizing the University is essential reading for all those concerned about the future of higher education. (shrink)
"The Constitution is America's moral sail, and we must hold to the courage of the conviction that fills it, a conviction that we can all be equal citizens of a moral republic. That is a noble faith, and only optimism can redeem it." So writes Ronald Dworkin in the introduction to this characteristically robust and provocative new book in which Dworkin argues the fidelity to the constitution and to law demands that judges make contemporary judgements backed on political morality, (...) and why it encourages, or ought to encourage, an open display of the true grounds of judgement. The book discusses almost all of the great constitutional issues of the last two decades including abortion, affirmative action, pornography, race, homosexuality, euthanasia and free-speech and in doing so consistently offers a liberal view of the American Constitution. Dworkin's "moral reading" proposes that we all, judges, lawyers, citizens - interpret and apply the abstract language of the Constitution on the understanding that they invoke moral principles about political decency and justice. The "moral reading" therefore brings political morality into the heart of constitutional law. The various chapters of this book were first published seperately; now drawn together they bear all the hallmarks of Dworkin's legal and philosophical sophistication, his acute understanding of political process and his understanding of history. principles. (shrink)
This paper has a twofold structure: both parts concern philosophy's understanding of its data—in the area of aesthetics. The first part considers aesthetics as philosophy of art: the second part considers aesthetics as concerned also with the appreciation of nature.
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)
Review text: "Ronald W. Langacker is universally acclaimed as one of the founding fathers of the cognitive linguistics movement. His pioneering efforts towards developing a meaning-oriented, usage-based theory of grammar have given cognitive linguistics many of its key concepts, and his theory of Cognitive Grammar is not only one of the cornerstones of cognitive linguistics, it is also a magnificent achievement in its own right." Dirk Geeraerts, January 2009.
This article discusses relations among the multiple levels of analysis present in macro-sociological explanation—i.e., relations of individual, structural, and institutional processes. It also criticizes the doctrinal insistence upon single-level individualistic explanation found in some prominent contemporary sociological theory. For illustrative material the article returns to intellectual uses of Weber's "Protestant Ethic thesis," showing how an artificial version has been employed as a kind of proof text for the alleged scientific necessity of individualist explanation. Our alternative exposition renders the discussion of (...) Protestantism and capitalism in an explicitly multilevel way, distinguishing possible individual-level, social-organizational, and institutional linkages. The causal processes involved are distinct ones, with the more structural and institutional forms neither captured nor attainable by individual-level thinking. We argue more generally that "methodological individualisms" confuse issues of explanation with issues about microfoundations. This persistent intellectual conflation may be rooted in the broader folk models of liberal individualism. (shrink)
Collective rituals have long puzzled anthropologists, yet little is known about how rituals affect participants. Our study investigated the effects of nine naturally occurring rituals on prosociality. We operationalized prosociality as (1) attitudes about fellow ritual participants and (2) decisions in a public goods game. The nine rituals varied in levels of synchrony and levels of sacred attribution. We found that rituals with synchronous body movements were more likely to enhance prosocial attitudes. We also found that rituals judged to be (...) sacred were associated with the largest contributions in the public goods game. Path analysis favored a model in which sacred values mediate the effects of synchronous movements on prosocial behaviors. Our analysis offers the first quantitative evidence for the long-standing anthropological conjecture that rituals orchestrate body motions and sacred values to support prosociality. Our analysis, moreover, adds precision to this old conjecture with evidence of a specific mechanism: ritual synchrony increases perceptions of oneness with others, which increases sacred values to intensify prosocial behaviors. (shrink)
From the very outset of his literary and intellectual career Rousseau saw himself as an uncompromising critic of contemporary society. As he has vividly related in his personal writings, the famous moment of ‘illumination’ when he was on the way to visit his friend Diderot imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes not only gave him a vision of ‘another universe’ but transformed him into ‘another man’. An overwhelming ‘enthusiasm for truth, freedom and virtue’ made him henceforth reject the corrupt values (...) of the society he saw around him; ‘to be free and virtuous and above fortune and opinion’ seemed a greater and nobler attitude than servile acquiescence in the ‘maxims of his age’. (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)
We read the roots of contemporary ecofeminism through the lens of feminist pragmatism. After indicating the general relation between ecofeminism and feminist pragmatism, we provide a detailed analysis of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s saga Herland and With Her in Ourland to document the strong connection between these two traditions. Gilman’s congruencies with ecofeminism make clear that she was a forerunner and perhaps a foundation for contemporary ecofeminism. However, further analyses are needed to reveal the full import of this link between ecofeminism (...) and “ecofeminist pragmatism,” as well as bridge the gap between ecofeminist pragmatism and ecopragmatism, including environmental pragmatism. (shrink)