(ShoshanaSmith now goes by her married name, Shoshana Brassfield: http://philpapers.org/profile/37640) Descartes famously claims that everything we perceive clearly and distinctly is true. Although this rule is fundamental to Descartes’s theory of knowledge, readers from Gassendi and Leibniz onward have complained that unless Descartes can say explicitly what clear and distinct perception is, how we know when we have it, and why it cannot be wrong, then the rule is empty. I offer a detailed analysis of clear (...) and distinct perception, showing how Descartes answers these questions. Many doubts about the usefulness of the clarity and distinctness rule arise from the mistaken assumption that in clear and distinct perception, like sense perception, we must be able to establish a correspondence between perception and reality before we can have knowledge. I show that Descartes has a different metaphysical picture of clear and distinct perception. Clear and distinct perception is direct perception, typically of essences. On this view, by relying on the intellect instead of the senses, we can have direct perception not only of our own ideas, but also of a mind-independent reality. Because clear and distinct perception is direct perception, problems of correspondence do not arise. My account of clear and distinct perception also yields unique insight into other issues in Descartes, such as the Cartesian Circle and the doctrine of the free creation of the eternal truths. Completed at the University of California, 2005. Dissertation advisers: Janet Broughton, Hannah Ginsborg, Anthony A. Long. ProQuest UMI: 3187156. (shrink)
This is the first scholarly study of Atlas Shrugged, covering in detail the historical, literary, and philosophical aspects of Ayn Rand's magnum opus. Topics explored in depth include the history behind the novel's creation, publication, and reception; its nature as a romantic novel; and its presentation of a radical new philosophy.
Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living, offers an early form of the author's nascent philosophy—the philosophy Rand later called Objectivism. Robert Mayhew's collection of entirely new essays brings together pre-eminent scholars of Rand's writing. In part a history of We the Living, from its earliest drafts to the Italian film later based upon it, Mayhew's collection goes on to explore the enduring significance of Rand's first novel as a work both of philosophy and of literature.
Commentators commonly assume that Descartes regards it as a function of the passions to inform us or teach us which things are beneficial and which are harmful. As a result, they tend to infer that Descartes regards the passions as an appropriate guide to what is beneficial or harmful. In this paper I argue that this conception of the role of the passions in Descartes is mistaken. First, in spite of a number of texts appearing to show the contrary, I (...) argue that Descartes does not regard it as the role of the passions to inform us about what is beneficial or harmful. Second, although Descartes calls the passions good and useful, I argue that Descartes does not think we should allow ourselves to be guided by them. When we recognize that the function of the passions is largely motivational and not informative, we can more easily understand Descartes's practical advice in The Passions of the Soul that happiness requires us to guide our passions instead of letting our passions guide us. (shrink)
Although downloading music through unapproved channels is illegal, statistics indicate that it is widespread. The following study examines the attitudes and perceptions of college students that are potentially engaged in music downloading. The methodology includes a content analysis of the recommendations written to answer an ethical vignette. The vignette presented the case of a subject who faces the dilemma of whether or not to download music illegally. Analyses of the final reports indicate that there is a vast and inconsistent array (...) of actions and underlying feelings toward digital music downloading. The findings reveal inconsistencies between participants’ recommendations (what the subject should do) and their attitudes and opinions on the matter (what they would do in a similar situation). These inconsistencies support the notion that as technology evolves, it creates discrepancies between the way things are and the way the law expects them to be, leaving society in a muddle, trying to reconcile the two. What remains to be seen is whether the discrepancy in the case of music downloading becomes extreme enough that the law changes to accommodate an increasingly prevalent behavior, or whether new business models will emerge to bridge the gap between legality and reality. (shrink)
Descartes's approach to practical judgments about what is beneficial or harmful, or what to pursue or avoid, is almost exactly the opposite of his approach to theoretical judgments about the true nature of things. Instead of the cautious skepticism for which Descartes is known, throughout his ethical writings he recommends developing the habit of making firm judgments and resolutely carrying them out, no matter how doubtful and uncertain they may be. Descartes, strikingly, takes irresolution to be the source of remorse (...) and repentance, of vice, and of a weak soul. In order to explain its dangerousness, this essay offers an analysis of irresolution as a failure of the will to determine itself to follow a judgment in the face of ignorance or uncertainty. This analysis connects irresolution to weakness of will and explains why Descartes regards resolution as an essential component of virtue. (shrink)
When Adam Smith published his celebrated writings on economics and moral philosophy he famously referred to the operation of an invisible hand. Adam Smith's Political Philosophy makes visible the invisible hand by examining its significance in Smith's political philosophy and relating it to similar concepts used by other philosophers, revealing a distinctive approach to social theory that stresses the significance of the unintended consequences of human action. This book introduces greater conceptual clarity to the discussion of the (...) invisible hand and the related concept of unintended order in the work of Smith and in political theory more generally. By examining the application of spontaneous order ideas in the work of Smith, Hume, Hayek and Popper, Adam Smith's Political Philosophy traces similarities in approach and from these builds a conceptual, composite model of an invisible hand argument. While setting out a clear model of the idea of spontaneous order the book also builds the case for using the idea of spontaneous order as an explanatory social theory, with chapters on its application in the fields of science, moral philosophy, law and government. (shrink)
Twentieth century philosophers introduced the distinction between “objective rightness” and “subjective rightness” to achieve two primary goals. The first goal is to reduce the paradoxical tension between our judgments of what is best for an agent to do in light of the actual circumstances in which she acts and what is wisest for her to do in light of her mistaken or uncertain beliefs about her circumstances. The second goal is to provide moral guidance to an agent who may be (...) uncertain about the circumstances in which she acts, and hence is unable to use her standard moral principle directly in deciding what to do. This paper distinguishes two important senses of “moral guidance”; proposes criteria of adequacy for accounts of subjective rightness; canvasses existing definitions for “subjective rightness”; finds them all deficient; and proposes a new and more successful account. It argues that each comprehensive moral theory must include multiple principles of subjective rightness to address the epistemic situations of the full range of moral decision-makers, and shows that accounts of subjective rightness formulated in terms of what it would reasonable for the agent to believe cannot provide that guidance. (shrink)
We force a property of cardinals first proved relatively consistent by Sargsyan, that of being supercompact but not equation image-supercompact, starting from a model of set theory which does not satisfy equation image and that contains supercompact cardinals.
Recently two distinct forms of rule-utilitarianism have been introduced that differ on how to measure the consequences of rules. Brad Hooker advocates fixed-rate rule-utilitarianism, while Michael Ridge advocates variable-rate rule-utilitarianism. I argue that both of these are inferior to a new proposal, optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism. According to optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism, an ideal code is the code whose optimum acceptance level is no lower than that of any alternative code. I then argue that all three forms of rule-utilitarianism fall prey to two fatal (...) problems that leave us without any viable form of rule-utilitarianism. (shrink)
This paper explores the Eichmann trial in its dimension as a living, powerful event, whose impact is defined and measured by the fact that it is "not the same for all." I examine this legal event from two perspectives: Hannah Arendt's and my own. I pledge my reading against Arendt's, in espousing the State's vision of the trial, but in interpreting the legal meaning of this vision us one that exceeds its own deliberateness and distinct from the State's ideology. I (...) use Nietzsche's terms to contrast "critical history" with "monumental history." Whereas the official State vision of the trial is, I propose, precisely one of "monumental history, " Arendt's vision offers a substitutive "critical history." I analyze, one against the other, what I call the monumental legal vision of the Eichmann trial and the critical vision offered by Arendt. Exploring thus the monumental versus the critical as two opposed but non-exclusive and, in fact, profoundly complementary perspectives, I examine, side by side, the Eichmann trials' monumental focus on the victims and Arendt's critical objections to this focus: her objections, I show, are based in a jurisprudential conservatism coexisting with a historiographical radicalism. The Eichmann trial, in my view, is on the contrary and diametrically, historiographically conservative, but jurisprudentially revolutionary. I argue that Arendt failed to see the way in which the trial in effect did not simply repeat the victim's story, but historically created it for the first time. I submit, in other words, that the Eichmann trial legally created a radically original and new event: not a rehearsal of a given story, but a groundbreaking narrative event that is itself historically and legally unprecedented. Examining the trial's transformation of victims into prosecution witnesses, I analyze the victim-oriented focus of the trial as s legal process of translation of private traumas into public ones and as a public scene of the recovery of language and legal subjecthood by victims who were formerly defined by the oppressor's language and who were, therefore, not just injured, but essentially robbed of a language in which to articulate their injury and name their victimization. I argue that the Eichmann trial expanded the space available for moral deliberation in creating a new legal language: the trial was the victim's trial only insofar as it was now the victims who, against all odds, were precisely writing their own history. To enable such a writing, the Eichmann trial had to enact not simply memory, but memory as change. It had to dramatize upon its legal stage before the audience nothing less than a conceptual revolution in the victim. And this, in fact, is what the trial did This historically unprecedented revolution in the victim that was operated in and by the Eichmann trial is, I suggest, the trial's major contribution not only to Jews, but to history, to law, to culture - to humanity at large. I further argue that as a singular legal event, the Eichmann trial calls for a rethinking - and sets in motion a transvaluation - of the structures and the values of conventional criminal law. I submit that the quintessence of the Eichmann trial is the acquisition of semantic authority by victims. It was the newly acquired semantic and historical authority of this revolutionary story that, for the first time, created what we know today as the Holocaust: a theme of international discussion and world conversation designating the experience of the victims and referring to the crime against the Jewish people independently from the political and military story of the Second World War. (shrink)
The primary goal of Peter Ludlow's Semantics, Tense, and Time is to illustrate how one can study metaphysical issues from a linguistic/semantic perspective by addressing the debate between tenseless theorists and tensed theorists. Ludlow's book is noteworthy in part because of the novelty of its approach to this debate and in part because it addresses and endeavors to solve the metaphysical problems of temporal solipsism that other temporal solipsists have not addressed.
Adam Smith’s ‘natural price’ has long been interpreted as a ‘normal price’ or ‘centre of gravitation price’ based on the famous gravitation metaphor of the Wealth of Nations I.vii, natural in the sense that it is the price that would … More ›.
This essay re-examines Adam Smith’s encounter with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Against the grain of present scholarship it contends that when Smith read and reviewed Rousseau’s Second Discourse, he neither registered it as a particularly important challenge, nor was especially influenced by, or subsequently preoccupied with responding to, Rousseau. The case for this is made by examining the British context of Smith’s own intervention in his 1759 Theory of Moral Sentiments, where a proper appreciation of the roles of David (...) Hume and Bernard Mandeville in the formation of Smith’s thought pushes Rousseau firmly into the background. Realising this, however, forces us to re-consider our evaluations of Rousseau’s and Smith’s very different political visions. Given that questions of individual recognition, economic inequality, and political stability remain at the heart of today’s social challenges, the implications of this are not just historical but of direct contemporary import. (shrink)
Why would God make us ask for some good He might supply, and why would it be right for God to withhold that good unless and until we asked for it? We explain why present defences of petitionary prayer are insufficient, but argue that a world in which God makes us ask for some goods and then supplies them in response to our petitions adds value to the world that would not be available in worlds in which God simply supplied (...) such goods without our asking for them. This added value, we argue, is what we call ‘partnership with God’. (shrink)
The conventional view of Hobbes’s commonwealth is that it was inspired by contemporary theories of tyranny. This article explores the idea that a paradigm for Hobbes’s state could in fact be found in early modern readings of Aristotle on democracy, as found in Book Three of the Politics. It argues that by the late sixteenth century, these meditations on the democratic body politic had developed claims about unity, mythology, and personation that would become central to Hobbes’s own theory of the (...) commonwealth. Tracing the history of commentary on the relevant passages in Aristotle reveals new perspectives not only on the political theories of both Aristotle and Hobbes but also introduces modern readers to the richness of early modern commentaries on classical political texts. The article ends with some thoughts on why attention to traditions of commentary might be valuable for political theorists today. (shrink)
This essay contends that the debate between subjectivism and objectivism in ethics is better understood as a dispute among three alternatives: subjectivism, objectivism, and intrinsicism. Ayn Rand has identified intrinsicism – the belief that certain things are good “in, by, and of” themselves – as the doctrine that is actually operative in many defenses of moral objectivity. What intrinsicism fails to appreciate, however, is the significant role of the subject, the person to whom and for whom anything can be valuable. (...) Objective value, in Rand's view, is relational. Its existence depends on contributions of both external reality and human consciousness. Values are not reducible to psychological states, as in subjectivism, but nor are they independent of them, as in intrinsicism. Objectivity in ethics is attained neither through revelation of the intrinsic property of goodness nor through the subject's creation of goodness, but through a rational procedure of evaluation that is governed by the method of objectivity. This essay is in three parts, explaining Rand's view of exactly what intrinsicism is; elaborating on her view of the nature of moral objectivity; and highlighting certain features that make plain the differences between an intrinsicist and an objectivist account of value. (shrink)
Over-time variability characterizes not only individual-level emotions, but also group-level emotions, those that occur when people identify with social groups and appraise events in terms of their implications for those groups. We discuss theory and research regarding the role of emotions in intergroup contexts, focusing on their dynamic nature. We then describe new insights into the causes and consequences of emotional dynamics that flow from conceptualizing emotions as based in group membership, and conclude with research recommendations.
An assessment is made of Rudolf Otto's criticisms of Friedrich Schleiermacher's claim that religious feeling is to be interpreted as essentially involving a feeling of absolute dependence. Otto's criticisms are divided into two kinds. The first suggest that a feeling a dependence, even an absolute one, is the wrong sort of feeling to locate at the heart of religious consciousness. It is argued that this criticism is based on misinterpretations of Schleiermacher's view, which is in fact much closer to Otto's (...) than the latter appreciated. The second kind of criticism suggests that the feeling of absolute dependence cannot play the foundational role assigned to it by Schleiermacher, since it is itself a secondary response. It is argued not only that Otto provides no justification for this criticism, but that Otto's own position is incoherent unless Schleiermacher's view is accepted. (shrink)
James Lenman is critical of my claim that moral requirements are requirements of reason. I argue that his criticisms miss their target. More importantly, I argue that the anti-rationalism that informs Lenman's criticisms is itself implausible.
For centuries it has been a mainstay of European and American moral thought that keeping promises—and the allied activity of upholding contracts—is one of the most important requirements of morality. On some historically powerful views the obligation to uphold promises or contracts not only regulates private relationships, but also provides the moral foundation for our duty to support and obey legitimate governments. Some theorists believe that the concept of keeping promises has gradually moved to center stage in European moral thought. (...) They see this movement as part of an historical shift from a moral conception in which an individual’s duties are mainly externally imposed and unalterable, to a conception in which duties are largely chosen by the individual. (shrink)
Writing in the foreword to Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and speaking of his upbringing in Chicago between the wars Saul Bellow attests that …as a Midwesterner, the son of immigrant parents, I recognized at an early stage that I was called upon to decide for myself to what extent my Jewish origins, my surroundings [‘the accidental circumstances of Chicago’], my schooling, were to be allowed to determine the course of my life. I did not intend to (...) be wholly dependent upon history and culture. Full dependency must mean that I was done for. The commonest teaching of the civilized world in our time can be stated simply: ‘Tell me where you come from and I'll tell you what you are’. (shrink)
The responses to this discovery, in the press and elsewhere, seem to focus on the act of passing judgment, a judgment that reopens with some urgency the question of the ethical implications of de Man’s work and, by extension, of the whole school of critical approach known as “deconstruction.”The discourse of moral judgment takes as its target three distinct domains of apparent ethical misconduct:1. the collaborationist political activities themselves;2. de Man’s apparent erasure of their memory—his radical “forgetting” of his early (...) past;3. the silence that de Man chose to keep about his past: the absence of public confession and public declaration of remorse.The question of ethics thus seems to be linked to the separate questions of the nature of political activities, of the nature of memory, and of the nature of silence. It is judged unethical, of course, to engage in acts that lent support to Germany’s wartime position; but it is also judged unethical to forget; and unethical, furthermore, to keep silent in relation to the war and to the Holocaust. The silence is interpreted as a deliberate concealment, a suppression of accountability that can only mean a denial of responsibility on de Man’s part. Shoshana Felman, the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Yale University, is the author of The Literary Speech Act: Don Juan with Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages , Writing and Madness: Literature/Philosophy/Psychoanalysis , and Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture: Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight . She is also the editor of Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading—Otherwise . She is currently working on a book entitled Testimony in History, Literature and Psychoanalysis. (shrink)
We investigated family members’ lived experience of Parkinson’s disease aiming to investigate opportunities for well-being. A lifeworld-led approach to healthcare was adopted. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore in-depth interviews with people living with PD and their partners. The analysis generated four themes: It’s more than just an illness revealed the existential challenge of diagnosis; Like a bird with a broken wing emphasizing the need to adapt to increasing immobility through embodied agency; Being together with PD exploring the kinship (...) within couples and belonging experienced through support groups; and Carpe diem! illuminated the significance of time and fractured future orientation created by diagnosis. Findings were interpreted using an existential-phenomenological theory of well-being. We highlighted how partners shared the impact of PD in their own ontological challenges. Further research with different types of families and in different situations is required to identify services required to facilitate the process of learning to live with PD. Care and support for the family unit needs to provide emotional support to manage threats to identity and agency alongside problem-solving for bodily changes. Adopting a lifeworld-led healthcare approach would increase opportunities for well-being within the PD illness journey. (shrink)
An interpretation of the work of Schleiermacher and Otto recently offered by Andrew Dole, according to which these two thinkers differed over the extent to which religion can be explained naturalistically, and over the sense in which the supernatural can be admitted, is examined and refuted. It is argued that there is no difference between the two thinkers on this issue. It is shown that Schleiermacher's claim that a supernatural event is at the same time a natural event does not (...) invite, but rather forecloses the possibility of, a naturalistic explanation of the event. It is further demonstrated that Otto, like Schleiermacher, denied the existence of supernatural events interpreted as events that infringe the laws of nature. (shrink)
The main goal of Michael Tooley’s groundbreaking book is to establish a position intermediate between the tenseless theory of time and the standard tensed theory of time. Tooley argues for a novel version of the tensed theory of time, namely, that the future is unreal and the present and past real, and yet that reality consists only of tenseless facts. The question that naturally arises for the reader concerns an apparent paradox: how could the tensed theory of time be true (...) if reality consists only of tenseless facts? (shrink)