The burden of this piece is to draw together into a coherent whole the somewhat diverse strands of Israel Scheffler's thought on the philosophy of religion. Extrapolating from personal discussions with Professor Scheffler, various of his books, articles, and other unpublished materials authored and kindly provided by him, I contend that he adumbrates a post-empiricist rendering of religious belief which masterfully avoids some philosophical problems, while unwittingly giving rise to others. Committed to the view that the methodology of science â (...) in one or other of its more acceptable guises â provides the most reliable measure of the content and structure of reality. Scheffler is bound conceptually to redefine Jewish belief in such a way that the traditional conflict between religion and science never emerges. Consistent with this end, he is concerned to divest traditional Judaism of its metaphysical garb, so that what remains are simply the matters of living to which religion ought properly on his view address itself. The Bible is thus reconceptualized as a piece of rich literature, of no real difference in logical kind to any other piece of rich literature, except that it defines uniquely, along with the Torah and other relevant Jewish literature, the history of the particular community whose perception of human values and meaningfulness forms the core of what it is to be Jewish. (shrink)
I propose to show that the use that has often been made of wittgenstein's work in the philosophy of religion is innocuous. the notion that the meaning of a word or a sentence is the use to which it is put has been exploited in such a way that it neither does justice to religious belief nor to wittgenstein's thought. i endeavour to show that the burden of the positivist programme was not to withold from religious language the accolade of (...) 'meaning'. it was to show that no piece of language could be both meaningful and true (or false) which did not satisfy the conditions of either the analytic or the synthetic category. i conclude that wittgenstein's work can provide an effective liberation from positivism if it can be shown that wittgenstein gives us sufficient reason to reject the analytic-synthetic distinction not only as an inadequate criterion of 'meaning', but as an inadequate criterion of 'truth' as well. (shrink)
The authors of this book show that the failure of public health arises, not from a failure of contemporary medicine, but from a failure of the philosophical assumptions upon which it rests. They suggest an alternative approach to health care that derives from a ecological and holistic philosophy of nature.
It seems certain that one day we will allow the genetic technology which will enhance our offspring. A highly effective new tool, called CRISPR, which allows for carving out genes, is already being used to edit the genomes of animals. In July 2017, the FDA legalized that germline drugs for therapeutic purposes could be sold in the market. It is a high time, now, that we need engage in discussions about the ethics of germline intervention. To contribute to the discussion (...) by showing our thought and to educate the public, we write this paper. (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.
Exploring Law's Empire is a collection of essays by leading legal theorists and philosophers who have been invited to develop, defend, or critique Ronald Dworkin's controversial and exciting jurisprudence. The volume explores Dworkin's critique of legal positivism, his theory of law as integrity, and his writings on constitutional jurisprudence. Each essay is a cutting-edge contribution to its field of inquiry, the highlights of which include an introduction by Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court, and a concluding (...) essay by Dworkin himself. This final chapter responds to the preceding essays and lays out Dworkin's own vision for the future of jurisprdence over the coming years. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to consider, in principle and at the most general level, a particular possible approach to educational policy‐making. This approach involves an education‐specific application of the notion of hypothetical markets first developed in Ronald Dworkin's book Sovereign Virtue: The theory and practice of equality . The paper distinguishes the concept of the market from the operation of any actual market, and from the operation of ‘market forces’ in any generalised sense. It continues by arguing (...) that hypothetical markets of the kind identified by Dworkin are not only distinct, in both their nature and purpose, from actual markets operating in education, but also—in the face of continuing widespread debate about the value, at particular times and places, of such actual markets—a potentially valuable theoretical tool for educational policy‐making. The paper then briefly considers a particular instance of such debate about actual markets in education. (shrink)
Advertising and Consumption: Advertising and Social Change by Ronald Berman, Beverley Hills and London: Sage, , 1981, pp 159, £11.95 and £5.50 The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981 pp 248, £1.75 Conspicuous Consumption by Roger S Mason, Farnbrough: Gower, 1981, pp x + 156, £9.50 Channels of Desire by Stuart Ewen and Elizabeth Ewen, New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1982, pp viii + 312, $7.95.
Ronald Dworkin’s work on the topic of equality over the past twenty-five years or so has been enormously influential, generating a great deal of debate about equality both as a practical aim and as a theoretical ideal. The present article attempts to assess the importance of one particular aspect of this work. Dworkin claims that the acceptance of abstract egalitarian rights to equal concern and respect can be thought to provide a kind of plateau in political argument, accommodating as (...) it does a number of well-known ethical theories of social arrangement from utilitarianism to libertarianism. The article explores the moral foundations of these egalitarian rights and critically examines five specific reasons for supposing they matter in political debate. It is argued that though these reasons are perhaps less constructive than they might be reasonably expected to be, there is another more fundamental question we can ask about the scope of egalitarian rights the answer to which might ultimately help to explain their fundamental nature and importance. That question is: equality among whom? (shrink)
Ronald Preston defended the middle axiom approach to doing Christian social ethics developed by J. H. Oldham for the 1937 ‘Life and Work’ conference. Preston argued that middle axioms continue to offer the churches a relevant ecumenical method. Middle axions has since been subject to fundamental criticism by ethicists such as Duncan Forrester. It will be argued that a case study of the Church of Scotland's contribution to the devolution debate, as part of Scottish civil society, supports Preston's defence (...) of the middle axiom approach as a relevant form of political engagement in the new context of local-global politics. (shrink)
Ronald Giere and others aspire to 'naturalize science' by examining scientific activity as they would any other natural phenomenon — scientifically. Giere aims to fashion a theory of science that is naturalistic, realistic, and evolutionary, and to thus carve for himself a niche between foundationalist philosophies of science (positing abstract criteria of rationality) on the one hand, and relativist sociologies of science on the other. Giere's approach is appealing because it allows that science is a human endeavor pursued by (...) humans using human cognitive skills. The cognitive skills most salient to science, in Giere's view, are the ability to represent the world more or less accurately, and the ability to choose more or less accurately between available theories. These skills, Giere believes, have been endowed by evolution. We believe that Giere's account is inadequate because it gives short shrift to rationality. Giere places too much emphasis on natural modeling skills and on natural heuristics for judging the relative merits of these models, and too little emphasis on the systematic attempts to reflect on, find fault with, and modify, models that characterize so much of scientific activity. This aspect of science and other human endeavor — the creative, contemplative, reflective, in short the rational aspect of representation — is all but lacking in Giere's study. Thus, Giere's account of science, like other naturalist accounts, excludes precisely that which is most important, and which most needs to be explained, about science. (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)
I will focus on Dworkin’s use of idealisation in his “Prudent Insurance” Ideal for healthcare. Dworkin identifies problems with the circumstances under which people make their insurance decisions in the current United States healthcare system and he sees these as being the cause of strange resource allocation outcomes. He therefore imagines idealising away these prima facie unjust circumstances to develop a hypothetical market in which people are able to make better decisions (Section “Idealisation of Circumstance”). I will identify two further (...) idealisations that Dworkin relies on in his theory. The first is to idealise people to be perfectly prudent (Section “Idealisation of Prudence”), which I consider to be justifiable, but difficult to actually apply in practise. The second is to idealise people to be perfectly self-interested (Section “Idealisation to Self-interest”). I do not see this as a justifiable idealization since it ignores principles of altruism and citizenship, which would seem to be deeply relevant to a theory of justice. (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.’.
The European post-Marxist work Empire by Hardt and Negri points to the theological/metaphysical underpinnings of modernity and global capitalism in the medieval shift from Trinitarian orthodoxy to nominalism. Though Hardt and Negri reject religious or transcendental approaches to the social, their work shows remarkable resemblances with the ontological critique of modernity and economism mounted by John Milbank and Stephen Long among others. By contrast the considerable oeuvre of Ronald Preston on capitalism lacks a deep ontological critique. The return of (...) ontology to theological economics in recent contributions from Gorringe, Long, Milbank and Northcott marks a significant recovery of a more theological orthodoxy, but also a more thoroughgoing critique of economism whether in capitalist or socialist guise. It is moreover a critique which highlights the significance of the economic actions of churches and Christians. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
. 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)
The broad scope and coherence of Natural Beauty are among its major strengths. Moore's syncretic theory tries to integrate diverse and sometimes conflicting theoretical strands. Of special importance is his recognition that the natural world is a social institution embodying perceptions that are conditioned, experiences communicated through language, and social beliefs and conventions. These lead him to consider the natural world as actually artifactual, and he terms it the 'natureworld'. Among the consequences of this is the reciprocity of natural and (...) artistic beauty, one indication of the inclusiveness that runs through his theory. My central concern is whether Moore's syncretic theory can successfully combine disparate features of conflicting theories, such as cognitivism and non-cognitivism, and subjectivism and objectivism. Another concern is whether his syncretism can resolve problems such as the apparent inconsistencies raised by his discussion of framing. Here, alternatives that Moore had presumably settled reappear, as when objects, which had presumably been replaced by experiences, re-emerge in his discussion of framing. These comments identify such difficulties and ask whether the way out may be to reframe not natural beauty but the terms of the question. (shrink)
This article explores the role of disgust in Kant’s aesthetic philosophy, Derrida’s deconstruction of Kant’s third Critique in his article 'Economimesis,' and the figure of vomit in two films by David Lynch in order to argue for the ethical possibilities of not giving ground relative to one’s disgust—what I term an ethics of the worse than the worst.
These excellent volumes show both the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary and serious Dworkin scholarship . Mostly the articles are new, although Susan Hurley's paper in the Hershowitz volume was first published in 1990. As to be expected with work on Dworkin, the division between political and legal theory is not distinct because – as is well-known – he integrates moral problems of politics both into the choice of legal theory and legal argument itself. But, some issues may be separated (...) and since there are excellent essays on both equality of resources and the relevance of ‘intrinsic’ values, I have separated my discussion into the two heads of ‘legal theory’ and ‘political theory’. Work on his political theory is not as advanced as it is on his legal theory and so I have largely directed my attention to the latter. I conclude that the most profitable work with Dworkin's legal theory lies in exploring the idea of the ‘interpretive concept’ and its connection with moral ideals, and in assessing the moral weight of integrity, particularly against the ideals of justice and fairness. Almost all the essays on legal theory show awareness of difficulties concerning these two issues although no one takes on interpretivism directly . However, Stephen Perry and Dale Smith in the Hershowitz volume and Sanford Levinson in the Ripstein volume push the boundaries some way with integrity. (shrink)