This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
This paper examines the account of guidance control given in Fischer and Ravizza's book, Responsibility and Control, with the aim of revising it so as to make it a better account of what needs to be added to having alternatives open to yield a specification of the control condition for responsibility that will be acceptable to an adherent of the principle that one is responsible for something only if one could have avoided it.
No one has done more than John Martin Fischer and MarkRavizza to advance our understanding of the important dispute in the theory of responsibility between structuralists and historicists. This makes it all the more important to take the measure of Responsibility and Control, their most recent contribution to the historicist side of the discussion. In this paper I examine some novel features of their most recent version of responsiblity-historicism, especially their new notions of "moderate reasons-responsiveness" and "ownership-of-agency." (...) Fischer and Ravizza intend these new elements to solve two problems untouched by earlier versions of their theory: the "problem of strange preference patterns" and the "reasons-responsiveness problem of induction." I argue that they cannot solve these problems within the theoretical strictures they place upon themselves, namely a minimalist meta-ethics of value and practical reason, and attention only to certain formal features of preference-acquisition. I conclude that historicist compatibilists cannot hope to meet the challenge of structuralist compatibilism, from the one side, and of incompatibilism, from the other, unless they take on the full task of accounting for the difference between the child's acquisition of autonomous substantive preferences and values and her acquisition of heteronomous ones. (shrink)
We present a new English translation of L.E.J. Brouwer's paper ‘De onbetrouwbaarheid der logische principes’ of 1908, together with a philosophical and historical introduction. In this paper Brouwer for the first time objected to the idea that the Principle of the Excluded Middle is valid. We discuss the circumstances under which the manuscript was submitted and accepted, Brouwer's ideas on the principle of the excluded middle, its consistency and partial validity, and his argument against the possibility of absolutely undecidable propositions. (...) We note that principled objections to the general excluded middle similar to Brouwer's had been advanced in print by Jules Molk two years before. Finally, we discuss the influence on George Griss' negationless mathematics. (shrink)
This paper proposes a critical analysis of that interpretation of the Nāgārjunian doctrine of the two truths as summarized—by both Mark Siderits and Jay L. Garfield—in the formula: “the ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth”. This ‘semantic reading’ of Nāgārjuna’s theory, despite its importance as a criticism of the ‘metaphysical interpretations’, would in itself be defective and improbable. Indeed, firstly, semantic interpretation presents a formal defect: it fails to clearly and explicitly express that which it contains (...) logically; the previously mentioned formula must necessarily be completed by: “the conventional truth is that nothing is conventional truth”. Secondly, after having recognized what Siderits’ and Garfield’s analyses contain implicitly, other logical and philological defects in their position emerge: the existence of the ‘conventional’ would appear—despite the efforts of semantic interpreters to demonstrate quite the contrary—definitively inconceivable without the presupposition of something ‘real’; moreover, the number of verses in Nāgārjuna that are in opposition to the semantic interpretation (even if we grant semantic interpreters that these verses do not justify a metaphysical reconstruction of Nagarjuna’s doctrine) would seem too great and significant to be ignored. (shrink)
Some critics of Mill understand him to advocate the forced assimilation of people he regards as uncivilized, and to defend toleration and the principle of liberty only for civilized people of the West. Examination of Mill’s social and political writings and practice while serving the British East India Company shows, instead, that Mill is a ‘tolerant imperialist’: Mill defends interference in India to promote the protection of legal rights, respect and toleration for conflicting viewpoints, and a commercial society that can (...) cope with natural threats. He does not think the principle of liberty is waived for the uncivilized, or that the West should forcibly reshape them in its own monistic image. Mill’s tolerant imperialism reflects a tension between liberty and moral development that surfaces also when Mill thinks about the scope of government in civilized societies. (shrink)
John Martin Fischer and MarkRavizza have constructed a theory of moral responsibility according to which agents are responsible only if they take responsibility in a particular way. Crucial to taking responsibility is coming to adopt a certain set of beliefs about oneself, such as the belief that one is a legitimate target of attitudes like gratitude and resentment, praise and blame. Moreover, agents must come to adopt this belief in a way that is ‘appropriately based’ upon their (...) evidence, if they are to be genuinely responsible for what they do. In this paper I argue that agents need not meet these conditions in order to be morally responsible. I offer a case in which the agent thinks of himself as responsible, appears to be responsible, but fails to take responsibility in Fischer and Ravizza’s sense. I then argue that Fischer and Ravizza’s account of responsibility for consequences is in conﬂict with their contention that individuals who reject the justiﬁability of responsibility ascriptions fail, thereby, to be morally responsible agents. (shrink)
The manipulation argument poses a significant challenge for any adequate compatibilist theory of agency. The argument maintains that there is no relevant difference between actions or pro-attitudes that are induced by nefarious neurosurgeons, God, or (and this is the important point) natural causes. Therefore, if manipulation is thought to undermine moral responsibility, then so also ought causal determinism. In this paper, I will attempt to bolster the plausibility of John Martin Fischer and MarkRavizza’s semicompatibilist theory of moral (...) responsibility by demonstrating how their account provides a distinctive line of response to three important types of manipulation. (shrink)
Recent neuropsychological data indicating that an absence of dreaming follows lesions of frontal subcortical white matter have been interpreted by Solms as supportive of Freud's wish-fulfillment, disguise-censorship dream theory. The purpose of this commentary is to call attention to Solms's commitment to Freud and to challenge and contrast his specific arguments with the simpler and more complete tenets of the activation-synthesis hypothesis. [Hobson et al.; Nielsen; Solms].
In Heidegger’s Being and Time certain concepts are discussed which are central to the ontological constitution of Dasein. This paper demonstrates the interesting manner in which some of these concepts can be used in a reading of T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. A comparative analysis is performed, explicating the relevant Heideggerian terms and then relating them to Eliot’s poem. In this way strong parallels are revealed between the two men’s respective thoughts and distinct modernist sensibilities. Prufrock, (...) the protagonist of the poem, and the world he inhabits illustrate poetically concepts such as authenticity, inauthenticity, the ‘they’, idle talk and angst, which Heidegger develops in Being and Time. (shrink)
Drawing upon Nel Noddings’ contention that, if children are to be happy in schools, their teachers should also be happy, this paper tries to explore a way in which the obviously intimate but seemingly conflicting connections between students’ and teachers’ happiness can be understood from the viewpoint of Stanley Cavell’s reading of J. S. Mill. Mill’s conceptions of desire and pleasure are examined as a means of liberating the above connection from existing prioritization: that is, teachers’ or students’ happiness comes (...) first. The pursuit of happiness for both teachers and students is discussed, in the hopes of illuminating alternative images of teacher education. (shrink)
At last someone has called a spade a spade. To think God is literally a personal being is idolatry. And when you are dead you live on not in any otherworldly place but in the goodness you offer to the world. Sadly—and I really mean this as a condemnation of theologians—this plain-speaking, spade-calling truth teller professionally identifies as a philosopher and is not recognized as a theologian. A sizeable minority of theologians agrees with this brash thinker on God and life (...) after death, of course; not all theologians are supernaturalists. But the widespread commitment among theologians to support ecclesiastical institutions and to nurture the faith of religious believers prevents most professional theologians .. (shrink)
Arising from four conferences held in Europe and the United States, this volume contains eighteen essays written mostly by Roman Catholics with the exception of select contributions from Jewish, Protestant, and Orthodox perspectives. Most essays pay particular attention to the distribution of scarce medical resources in terms of intensive care units (ICUs) which use some 38% of all medical expenditures in the U.S. each year, one percent of the GNP. The essays often make reference to one another and a wide (...) variety of Catholic perspectives are represented. The essays offer a good reflection of the contemporary state of Catholic moral thought with its strengths and diversity and are nicely framed by the ‘outside voices’ of the non-Catholics represented. Philosophers will find some essays almost exclusively theological. (shrink)