The full range of Bentham's engagement with Blackstone's view of law is beyond the scope of a single article. Yet it is important to recognize at the outset, even in a more restricted enquiry into the matter, that the engagement, begun when Bentham, not quite sixteen years of age, started to attend Blackstone's Oxford lectures, was indeed a lifelong affair. Whatever Bentham had in mind when, at the age of eighty, in 1828, he began to write a work entitled ‘A (...) familar view of Blackstone: or say Blackstone familiarized’, the manuscripts at least suffice to prove that ‘Our Author’ was still in the forefront of his mind at that octogenarian but still indefatigably active stage of his career. Every aspect of Bentham's multifarious intellectual activity over the intervening decades had been touched in some measure by his response to Blackstone's ideas. It still seems true to say what was said a dozen years ago: It would be an exaggeration to say that Bentham elaborated his own conception of law by way of a constant and conscious dialectic with the views of Blackstone. But it would be an exaggeration for which the evidence would afford some excuse. (shrink)
In the Summa Theologiae ‘simplicity’ is treated as pre–eminent among the terms which may properly be used to describe the divine nature. The Question in which Thomas demonstrates that God must be ‘totally and in every way simple’ immediately follows the five proofs of God's existence, preceding the treatment of His other perfections, and being frequently used as the basis for proving them. Then in Question 13 ‘univocal predication' is held to be ‘impossible between God and creatures’ so that at (...) best ‘some things are said of God and creatures analogically’ because of the necessity of using ‘various and multiplied conceptions’ derived from our knowledge of created beings to refer to what in God is simple for ‘the perfections flowing from God to creatures… pre–exist in God unitedly and simply, whereas in creatures they are received divided and multiplied’ . In line with this, in the De Potentia Dei the treatment of analogical predication is integrated into that of ‘the Simplicity of the Divine Essence’ . Moreover, it lies at the root of Thomas's rejection of any possibility of a Trinitarian natural theology such as, for instance, St Anselm or Richard of St Victor had attempted to develop, on the grounds that ‘it is impossible to attain to the knowledge of the Trinity by natural reason’ since ‘we can know what belongs to the unity of the essence, but not what belongs to the distinction of the persons’ . Even modern minds sympathetic to Thomas have clearly found it difficult to understand his concern for the divine simplicity: in his Aquinas Lecture Plantinga speaks for many in stating that it is ‘a mysterious doctrine’ which is ‘exceedingly hard to grasp or construe’ and ‘it is difficult to see why anyone should be inclined to accept it’. Not surprisingly, therefore, some of the most widely read twentieth–century commentators on Aquinas have paid little attention to it. Increased interest has recently been shown in it, but a number of discussions pay insufficient attention to the historical context out of which Thomas's interest in the doctrine emerged, and consequently tend to misconstrue its nature. (shrink)
My object in this paper is to suggest a few reflections on some themes in Bentham's work which others as well as I have noted, without perhaps developing them as fully as might with advantage be done. There will be nothing like full development in the limited compass of what is said here, but what is said may at least indicate possible directions for further exploration. The greater part of the paper will be concerned with the notion of natural authority; (...) but I want to begin by taking a broader, though no doubt rather superficial, view of the role in Bentham's thinking of the concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘the natural’. (shrink)
By the death, last summer, of Jack Robson, the world of utilitarian studies and a wider world of scholarship on both sides of the Atlantic lost one of their most distinguished figures. It would not be appropriate here, even if it were possible now, to attempt a full and measured assessment of his work. Writing only a few months after the news of his death, while the sense of loss is still so sharp for all his many friends, two things (...) are possible. Something can and should be said to acknowledge and celebrate Robson's achievement as a scholar; and to this can be added some personal recollections of one whose human qualities were as outstanding as his scholarship. (shrink)
The object of this article is to examine, with the work of Jeremy Bentham as the principal example, one strand in the complex pattern of European social theory during the second half of the eighteenth century. This was of course the period not only of the American and French revolutions, but of the culmination of the movements of thought constituting what we know as the Enlightenment. Like all great historical episodes, the Enlightenment was both the fulfilment of long-established processes and (...) the inauguration of new processes of which the fulfilment lay in the future. Thus the seminal ideas of seventeenth-century rationalism realized and perhaps exhausted their potentialities in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The ideas with which this article is concerned, however—conveniently grouped and labelled as the ideas of utilitarianism—only began to achieve systematic development in these later decades of the eighteenth century. Within that period—during the first half and more of Bentham's long life—attempts to apply those ideas to the solution of social problems met largely with failure and frustration. Yet unrealized potentialities remained, the realization of which was reserved for a time when the world of the philosophes no longer existed. The movements for social and political reform which have played so large a part in modern history since the French Revolution may be judged in widely differing ways; but whatever the verdict, these movements surely cannot be understood without due consideration of that part of their origins which lies in eighteenth-century utilitarianism. (shrink)
For half a century, Ernest Fortin's scholarship has charmed and educated theologians and philosophers with its intellectual search for the best way to live. Written by friends, colleagues, and students of Fortin, this book pays tribute to a remarkable thinker in a series of essays that bear eloquent testimony to Fortin's influence and his legacy. A formidable commentator on Catholic philosophical and political thought, Ernest Fortin inspired others with his restless inquiries beyond the boundaries of conventional scholarship. With essays on (...) subjects ranging across philosophy, political science, literature, and theology Gladly to Learn and Gladly to Teach reflects the astonishing depth and breadth of Fortin's contribution to contemporary thought. (shrink)
This collection of essays, offered in honor of the distinguished career of prominent political philosophy professor Clifford Orwin, brings together internationally renowned scholars to provide a wide context and discuss various aspects of the virtue of “humanity” through the history of political philosophy.
Doubts about the origin of Bentham's formula, ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’, were resolved by Robert Shackleton thirty years ago. Uncertainty has persisted on at least two points. (1) Why did the phrase largely disappear from Bentham's writing for three or four decades after its appearance in 1776? (2) Is it correct to argue (with David Lyons in 1973) that Bentham's principle is to be differentially interpreted as having sometimes a ‘parochial’ and sometimes a ‘universalist’ bearing? These (...) issues are reopened here with particular reference to textual evidence overlooked in earlier discussions and contextual evidence on the development of Bentham's radicalism in the last two decades of his life. In conclusion some broader issues are raised concerning the character of Bentham's understanding of ‘happiness’ itself. (shrink)
The main title of Robert J. Russell's Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science catches the substance of the essays; the subtitle his methodological vision. The mutualis modest as far as the influence from theology on science goes; in no way is Russell curtailing the pursuit of science. Driven by intellectual honesty, he holds that in the end religious convictions will have to stand the test of compatibility with scientific knowledge. And as a (...) Christian he believes core beliefs of Christianity, reformulated as needed, will be able to stand this test. The essays address the origin and contingency of our universe in relation to belief in creation, and his proposal for noninterventionist objective divine action. For him a stumbling block is natural evil; the evolutionary intelligibility of evil falls short of what would be desirable theologically. As steps toward an adequate eschatology Russell seeks to develop a more complex understanding of temporality, and proposes to understand the resurrection of Jesus as the First Instantiation of a New Law of the New Creation. This area is more in tension with current science, but that could be expected when one moves from creation to redemption. Within his self-imposed boundaries, these essays are well informed and well argued, and together they provide a sincere and sustained research program. (shrink)
This article examines the arguments used by Robert Watts, a contemporary of John Stuart Mill, in his criticism of Mill's Utilitarianism. The pamphlet in which Watts expresses his views is a scarce and neglected work. Pioneering studies by J.C. Rees and J.B. Schneewind emphasize the importance of Mill's early critics for historians of nineteenth-century ethics and politial thought. Rees, however, confines his study to the responses to Mill's On Liberty. Schneewind's work is more comprehensive and does mention Watts, but (...) without examining in detail the actual arguments that Watts uses. Further, while Watts criticizes Mill's ethical views from a theological standpoint the arguments he uses are philosophical in character. Watts should not be thought of as a major philosophical critic of Mill, but his relative neglect leaves a gap in the study of the reception of Mill's thought which this article is intended to fill. (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.
Modern bioethics is clearly dominated by deontologists who believe that we have some way of identifying morally correct and incorrect acts or rules besides taking account of their consequences. Robert M. Veatch is one of the most outspoken of those numerous modern medical ethicists who agree in rejecting all forms of teleological, utilitarian, or consequentialist ethical theories. This paper examines his critique of utilitarianism and shows that the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill is either not touched at all by (...) his critique or can be defended against it. This article argues that the dominant deontological majority is mistaken and that a utilitarian theory of moral action very much like Mill’s is precisely what is needed by modern medical ethics and by those medical practitioners who are resolved to practice medicine in a reasonable and morally acceptable manner. (shrink)
A translation based on the Latin text of the Leonine edition. The Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate constitutes Aquinas's most extended treatment of any single topic. Volume I discusses the nature of truth and divine and angelic intellects. Volume II deals with truth and human intellect. Volume III investigates the operation of the will.
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)