Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
The great contribution Marcus has made to several of intensely discussed topics in philosophy might not have been noticed fully without this collection of some of her most important articles that makes it evident that her achievement is not limited to inventing the famous Barcan formula.
The Philosophy Now series promises to combine rigorous analysis with authoritative expositions. Ruth Abbey’s book lives up to this demand by being a clear, reliable and more than up-to-date introduction to Charles Taylor ’s philosophy. Although it is an introductory book, the amount of footnotes and references ought to please those who want to study the original texts more closely. Abbey’s book is structured thematically: morality, selfhood, politics and epistemology get 50 pages each. The focus is on the internal (...) coherence of Taylor ’s work, not in its critique of or defence against other positions. The chapters are self-containing, but together they give a good total picture of Taylor ’s position. The concluding chapter is a highly interesting preview of Taylor ’s unpublished work-in-progress on secularity, which according to Abbey is comparable in magnitude to Sources of the Self. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan is one of the most interesting and influential philosophers alive. Her work is also hard to penetrate. In this review, I try to present and assess her work on the nature of language, which is collected in this anthology. I also criticize her analysis of “natural convention” as well as her discussion of illocutionary acts.
This article is a defence of the Fact-Value distinction against considerations brought up by Ruth Anna Putnam in three articles in Philosophy, especially her ‘Perceiving Facts and Values’ January 1998. I defend metaphysical realism about facts and anti-realism about values against Putnam' intermediate position about both and I relate the matter to the logic of imperatives. The motivations of scientists or historians to select fields of investigation are irrelevant to the objectivity of their hypotheses, and so is the goodness (...) or badness of the social consequences of their work though these may affect their motivations. (shrink)
Every body cell of an animal or human being contains the same complete set of genes. In theory any of these cells can be used to start a new embryo. The technique has been employed in the case of frogs. The nucleus is taken out of a body cell of a frog and implanted in an enucleated frog's egg. The resulting egg cell is stimulated to develop into a normal frog, and will be an exact copy of that frog which (...) provided the nucleus with all the genetic information. In normal sexual reproduction, two parents each contribute half their genes, but in the case of cloning, one parent passes on all his or her genes. (shrink)
In philosophy textbooks for undergraduates the cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict is often cited as a proponent of moral relativism, and her writings are not infrequently excerpted to illustrate the view that the individual’s moral values are culturally determined. Because Benedict established that significant differences can exist in the underlying cultural patterns of different societies, her work is commonly construed as providing evidence for the arbitrary and non-rational basis of morals. The author of the present essay argues that this popular (...) reading of Benedict is mistaken. He draws a distinction between two different forms of moral relativism—the objective and the subjective—and then contends that Benedict is widely viewed as a subjective relativist when in fact her relativism was of the objective variety. He shows that her position actually has much in common with the pragmatic meliorism of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. (shrink)
Although the Book of Ruth is in many respects a classic example of biblical Hebrew narrative, with its stripped-down style and the opaqueness of its character's inner lives and motivations, there are two examples of formal poetry in the book (1:16–17 and 1:20–21). Biblical poetry works with a very different set of literary conventions than narrative, and by taking note of those conventions, we can see the distinctive contributions made by these poems to the book as a whole.
One does not have to share William Connolly's vitalist affiliations in order to have serious reservations about Ruth Leys's essay and response.1 Simple phenomenological concerns will do to make one suspicious of her core claim:From my perspective, intentionality involves concept-possession; the term intentionality carries with it the idea that thoughts and feelings are directed to conceptually and cognitively appraised and meaningful objects in the world. The general aim of my paper is to propose that affective neuroscientists and the new (...) affect theorists are thus making a mistake when they suggest that emotion or affect can be defined in nonconceptual or nonintentional terms.2I worry about the difficulty of defining the boundaries of a notion like conceptual, especially since on the next page Leys claims an equivalence between cognition and signification. There seems at least a tendency toward tautology in equating “nonconceptual” with “nonintentional,” as if one could be used to define the other. But then signification enters the picture, although criteria for signification involve simple recognition and do not implicate the awareness of logical connectives that seem necessary for conceptual and cognitive appraisal. And the Wittgenstein in me worries even more why Leys thinks that intentionality should be confined to only one set of traits despite the fact that a great variety of language games depend on something like intentional awareness. (shrink)
Ruth Ginzberg has proposed a model for a gynocentric science that might constitute a paradigm as described by Kuhn. The author argues that Ginzberg's model lacks certain essential features of paradigms as described by Kuhn. The differences may stem from more fundamental disagreements between them, including the possibility that some essential features of Ginzberg's gynocentric science place it outside the intended scope of Kuhn's analysis.
The essay aims to disclose British sociologist Ruth Levitas’s proposal regarding the thorny issue of the lack of consensus about the definition of the concept of utopia, a issue which, in the Levitas’s view, results in a widespread terminological confusion and in the omnipresent risk of arbitrary selection of the material. After an accurate analysis of the main theoretical and epistemological approaches on the topic, Levitas suggests an inclusive definition which would allow to cross the boundaries imposed by «restrictive» (...) characterizations, for the purpose of creating a higher degree of agreement with regards to what may be included within the concept of "utopia". Too «limitative» definitions would instead lead to misleading conclusions about the destiny and the function of the utopian genre, among which the widespread belief that utopia is in decline or, even worse, definitively disappeared. Finally, Levitas suggests a «sociology of utopia» through an analysis of the correlations between the two form of knowledge, correlations which, in her view, has been repressed for decades. (shrink)
The essay presents the outlines of the conceptual framework which Ruth G. Millikan has developed in order to establish a comprehensive theory of functions. Although it is widely acknowledged that this theory is full of insights, criticism has been raised in recent times. Her theory of proper functions is especially under fire since it is said not to be able to account for those functional ascriptions that are in use in biology, and to suffer from a conceptual congenital defect (...) which prevents us from ascribing to a wide range of biological phenomena those functions that we intuitively ascribe to them. In discussing these reproaches it is shown that none of them is justified. (shrink)
Recent statistics in South Africa shows that women mostly experience poverty as compared to their male counterparts. In the context of the experience of poverty by women, several Old Testament scholars have convincingly explored the theme of poverty in the Hebrew Bible. In her contextual rereading of the Naomi-Ruth Story, Madipoane Masenya links the issue of poverty to the theme of land. Also, from the historical-critical and partly, the contextual approach to ancient texts, Esias E. Meyer argues that Leviticus (...) 25:8-55 holds liberating possibilities for women who are invisible in such a text. Based on the argument made by the preceding scholars, firstly, this article argues that in the context from which the texts of Ruth 4 and Leviticus 25:8-55 emerged, some women were both landless and poor. Secondly, it is argued in this article that the context of these texts carries a striking resemblance to the situation of women in modern South Africa, as many women do not own productive land and are poor. Thirdly, this article poses the question: What implications do the ideologies of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and the hermeneutical approach of Fernando F. Segovia to ancient texts bear on the reading of Ruth 4 and Leviticus 25:8-55 in South Africa? (shrink)
Ruth Macklin's new book, AgainstRelativism, says in its subtitle that it intends to address cultural diversity and the search for ethical universals in medicine. This it does very well. Every chapter includes some discussion of cultural relativism, cultural anthropology, or postmodernism, and her analyses are acute and scathing. Macklin is unabashed in her defense of the principles of medical ethics, and she gives a strong argument that principles are essential elements of any ethical system that is to successfully survive (...) the skeptical doubts of relativism. (shrink)
In this short study, the Scroll of Ruth, and especially Ruth's undisclosed motives for following her mother-in-law, are read alongside the situation of foreign, female migrant workers in contemporary Israel—and vice versa. This allows a bi-directional reading that supplies a possible context both for the biblical text and for the evaluation of today's issues.
When thinking about the intersection of care and Christian bioethics, it is helpful to follow closely the account of Ruth, who turned away from security and walked alongside her grieving mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Remembering Ruth may help one to heed Professor Kaveny?s summoning of Christians to remember ?the Order of Widows? and the church?s historic calling to bring ?the almanahinto its center rather than pushing her to its margins.? Disabled, elderly and terminally ill people often seem, at least (...) implicitly, expendable. By hearing the scriptural account of Jesus? steadfast great-grandmother, readers may recall another way. One may read Ruth?s care for Naomi as a performative, prophetic act of faith. Ruth?s faithful resolve, when set next to Orpah?s prudent way, challenges the notion that a bioethic of care is innately feminine, and may further call women and men corporately to participate in a kind of care that is strenuous work. My thanks to Cathleen Kaveny for allowing me to play off the title of her insightful essay. Thanks also to Willie James Jennings, whose 1998 baccalaureate sermon on Ruth inspired and much informed this essay. I wish also to thank Ellen Davis, who taught me to read Hebrew, and to read Ruth. (shrink)
This essay introduces and discusses four musical works that extensively treat Ruth and Naomi's relationship: two late nineteenth-century oratorios, and two twentieth-century operas. Both music and librettos are treated as midrash—a creative retelling through both altered text and in the language of music.
In every philosopher’s career, there comes a time to look back on accomplishments, assess achievements, evaluate one’s place in a canon that dates to an era when Ancient Greeks still roamed the Earth. Perhaps many of you have wondered when I’d finally get around to doing this. Sadly, this is not the night for that splendid occasion. Do not pretend to hide your disappointment. Also, do not hesitate to point fingers. Believe me when I tell you that I would take (...) great delight in reporting to you my accomplishments, achievements, and place in the canon. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who knows me well, or, at any rate, has spent a few minutes in conversation with me, or, maybe, has simply observed me in conversation with someone else. They’ll tell you that I am uniquely suited to fete myself, and take obvious pleasure spreading the good word to others. Alas, I have been enlisted to concentrate my philosophical powers on a topic less interesting than myself. My focus? A woman named Ruth Millikan. For philosophers, mention of the Book of Ruth directs thoughts not to the Old Testament, but to LTOBC. This is a shame, because Ruth’s Old Testament book is quite short, as books go, and tells a heartwarming story of redemption and devotion – virtues that receive hardly any mention in LTOBC. Now that I think about it, Ruth’s later books and articles mark a significant departure from the plot line in that first Book of Ruth’s. Gone are references to Bethlehem and Moab, and in their place lurk hoverflies and push me pull yous, but more on these matters in a moment. I want first to turn my finely tuned and oft picked philosophical nose to LTOBC – unquestionably Professor Millikan’s magnum opus . Here’s a little known fact. Originally, LTOBC had a different title, requiring a different acronym. If she hadn’t taken her editor’s advice, we’d be speaking of BLTOBC, which stood for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato on Blueberry Cobbler. There’s something down home and grannyish about this title, and Ruth deserves credit for trying to entice readers with the promise of good old fashioned, feather plucked, farm food, but, as her editor was quick to note, bacon, lettuce, and tomato have no more place on blueberry cobbler than they do on cherry cobbler, and so BLTOBC might as well be BLTOCC, and with no reason to prefer one title to the other, best just to forget about the bacon.. (shrink)
Introducing The Rational Imagination, Ruth Byrne tells us that rational thought has turned out to be “more imaginative than cognitive scientists...supposed,” and—more to the point here—that “[I]maginative thought is more rational than scientists imagined” . It would be unwise to take this mini-manifesto too seriously. The claim to which Byrne actually gives sustained attention is less philosophically sexy and more solidly empirical. This book is primarily concerned with experimental evidence in support of the thesis that the particular counterfactual conjectures (...) people entertain—‘If Mary had asked Peter to pick the peppers, he would have picked the peppers’—are governed by the same small set of psychological principles that influence inferential reasoning about them—‘Peter didn’t pick the peppers? Well, then, it stands to reason that Mary didn’t ask him to’ . Byrne conjectures that this same small set of principles might also help in understanding how people creatively generate new members of a category , interpret novel phrases like ‘cactus fish’ , and solve insight problems . By contrast, Byrne’s discussion of criteria for the rationality of counterfactual thought comes close to the end of the book and is notably modest and tentative. Perhaps counterfactual thought counts as rational if it is capable of producing the “best” judgments; perhaps the best counterfactual judgments are those that strike us as most plausible; perhaps plausibility is a hallmark of rationality because it is grounded in recognition of “fault lines in reality” . On the other hand, perhaps not. Counterfactual thoughts that paralyze people with regret are often compellingly plausible. Despite their plausibility, Byrne characterizes such “dysfunctional” counterfactuals as “irrational.” Perhaps this can be harmonized by the competence/performance distinction; perhaps a canny reader would be better advised to settle for the psychology. (shrink)
: This essay is a collection of my experiences of and reflections on being pregnant and choosing to place the child for open adoption. The piece was started late in the term of my pregnancy and completed about a week before the birth.