We respond to Stephen T. Davis’ criticism of our earlier essay, “Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis.” We argue that the Standard Model of physics is relevant and decisive in establishing the implausibility and low explanatory power of the Resurrection hypothesis. We also argue that the laws of physics have entailments regarding God and the supernatural and, against Alvin Plantinga, that these same laws lack the proviso “no agent supernaturally interferes.” Finally, we offer Bayesian arguments for the Legend hypothesis and against (...) the Resurrection hypothesis. (shrink)
Kalam cosmological arguments have recently been the subject of criticisms, at least inter alia, by physicists---Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking---and philosophers of science---Adolf Grunbaum. In a series of recent articles, William Craig has attempted to show that these criticisms are “superficial, iII-conceived, and based on misunderstanding.” I argue that, while some of the discussion of Davies and Hawking is not philosophically sophisticated, the points raised by Davies, Hawking and Grunbaum do suffice to undermine the dialectical efficacy of kalam cosmological arguments.
Though scholarship has explored Karin Costelloe-Stephen’s contributions to the history of psychoanalysis, as well as her relations to the Bloomsbury Group, her philosophical work has been almost completely ignored. This paper will examine her debate with Bertrand Russell over his criticism of Bergson. Costelloe-Stephen had employed the terminology of early analytic philosophy in presenting a number of arguments in defence of Bergson’s views. Costelloe-Stephen would object, among other things, to Russell’s use of an experiment which, as she (...) points out, was first conducted by Carl Stumpf. Russell appeals to Stumpf's experiment in his attempt to prove that sense data are terms in logical relations, a thesis presupposed by the project of logical analysis outlined in Our Knowledge of the External World. A reformulated version of Costelloe-Stephen's argument put forth by this paper shows that Russell's argument fails to provide adequate proof for his thesis. Further modifications of the argument can also address a reconstruction (based on contemporary reports) of Russell's reply to Costelloe-Stephen. In his reply, Russell would use, already in 1914, the term ‘analytic philosophy’ in contrasting his and Moore’s approach to a continental one, exemplified by Bergson and Costelloe-Stephen. (shrink)
Stephen Morse seems to have adopted a controversial position regarding the mindbody relationship: John Searle’s non-reductivism, which claims that conscious mental states are causal yet not reducible to their underlying brain states. Searle’s position has been roundly criticized, with some arguing the theory taken as a whole is incoherent. In this paper I review these criticisms and add my own, concluding that Searle’s position is indeed contradictory, both internally and with regard to Morse's other views. Thus I argue that (...) Morse ought to abandon Searle’s non-reductive theory. Instead, I claim Morse ought to adopt a non-eliminative reductive account that can more easily support his realism about folk psychological states, and the existence of causally effective mental states in a purely physical world. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism argues that the probability of our possessing reliable cognitive faculties, given the truth of evolution and naturalism, is low, and that this provides a defeater for naturalism, if the naturalist in question holds to the general truths of evolutionary biology. Stephen Law has recently objected to Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism by suggesting that there exist conceptual constraints governing the content a belief can have given its relationships to other things, including behaviour . (...) I show that Law’s objection fails, since it offers an auxiliary hypothesis to naturalism which is itself improbable. I consider multiple variants of the CC thesis, demonstrating that each is improbable, and that any weaker version with greater prior probability is compromised by a failure to render the relevant datum – the reliability of our cognitive faculties – probable. Thus, Law’s objection to Plantinga’s argument fails. (shrink)
According to Stephen Finlay, ‘A ought to X’ means that X-ing is more conducive to contextually salient ends than relevant alternatives. This in turn is analysed in terms of probability. I show why this theory of ‘ought’ is hard to square with a theory of a reason’s weight which could explain why ‘A ought to X’ logically entails that the balance of reasons favours that A X-es. I develop two theories of weight to illustrate my point. I first look (...) at the prospects of a theory of weight based on expected utility theory. I then suggest a simpler theory. Although neither allows that ‘A ought to X’ logically entails that the balance of reasons favours that A X-es, this price may be accepted. For there remains a strong pragmatic relation between these claims. (shrink)
Stephen Davis has argued that the second ontological argument fails as a theistic proof because it ignores the logical possibility of what he calls an ontologically impossible being. By an “ontologically impossible being” he means a being that does not exist, logically-possibly exists, and would exist necessarily if it existed. In this brief essay, I argue, first, that even if an OIB is logically possible, its logical possibility is irrelevant to the OA at issue; and second, that an OIB (...) is in fact logically impossible, because the predicates which define it are inconsistent. The concept of an OIB may be coherent if necessity is understood as ontological self-sufficiency, but even so the OIB is irrelevant to the OA. (shrink)
Stephen Mulhall has distinguished himself as one of the most rigorous and constructive contemporary thinkers on European philosophy and its complicated relationship to Christian theology. A prominent locus of that relationship in his work is the Christian doctrine of original sin, and its criticism but also structural recapitulation in the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and others. This article begins with an overview of relevant themes and their development in Mulhall's writings. I then offer an account of the internal (...) tensions Mulhall identifies in Heidegger et al's ambivalent contestation of original sin, and of his own response. The centre of this response is a reconfiguration of the character of the divine, and of human participation in that divine, as radical self-abnegation. I conclude with an appreciative critique of Mulhall's proposal as insufficiently responsive to the eschatological framework within which original sin has its doctrinal and ontological place in Thomist thought. (shrink)
Stephen Hetherington é um dos mais proeminentes epistemólogos a defender que é possível ter conhecimento segundo as condições de crença verdadeira e justificada, apesar dos contraexemplos elaborados por Edmund Gettier. Ele fundamentou sua perspectiva no pressuposto de falibilidade do conhecimento e naquilo que ele chamou de "falácia de contrafactuais epistêmicos", segundo a qual não se deve assumir impossibilidade do conhecimento factual apenas em virtude da sua impossibilidade contrafactual - o que é reiterado por Anthony Booth. As críticas apresentadas por (...) Brent Madison, John Turri e Duncan Prtichard apontaram para a relevância das suas ideias, mas também para o fato de que Hetherington ignorou que há diferentes tipos de sorte que podem interferir no processo de aquisição de conhecimento. Palavras-chave: Falácia de contrafactuais epistêmicos. Falibilismo. Infalibilismo. Sorte epistêmica. Stephen Hetherington. (shrink)
We use Bayesian tools to assess Law’s skeptical argument against the historicity of Jesus. We clarify and endorse his sub-argument for the conclusion that there is good reason to be skeptical about the miracle claims of the New Testament. However, we dispute Law’s contamination principle that he claims entails that we should be skeptical about the existence of Jesus. There are problems with Law’s defense of his principle, and we show, more importantly, that it is not supported by Bayesian considerations. (...) Finally, we show that Law’s principle is false in the specific case of Jesus and thereby show, contrary to the main conclusion of Law’s argument, that biblical historians are entitled to remain confident that Jesus existed. (shrink)
Sandra Field, Jeffrey Flynn, Stephen Macedo, Longxi Zhang, and Martin Powers discussed Powers’ book China and England: The Preindustrial Struggle for Social Justice in Word and Image at the American Philosophical Association’s 2020 Eastern Division meeting in Philadelphia. The panel was sponsored by the APA’s “Committee on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies” and organized by Brian Bruya.
[Stephen Makin] Aristotle draws two sets of distinctions in Metaphysics 9.2, first between non-rational and rational capacities, and second between one way and two way capacities. He then argues for three claims: [A] if a capacity is rational, then it is a two way capacity [B] if a capacity is non-rational, then it is a one way capacity [C] a two way capacity is not indifferently related to the opposed outcomes to which it can give rise I provide explanations (...) of Aristotle's terminology, and of how [A]-[C] should be understood. I then offer a set of arguments which are intended to show that the Aristotelian claims are plausible. \\\ [Nicholas Denyer] In De Caelo 1: 11-12 Aristotle argued that whatever is and always will be true is necessarily true. His argument works, once we grant him the highly plausible principle that if something is true, then it can be false if and only if it can come to be false. For example, assume it true that the sun is and always will be hot. No proposition of this form can ever come to be false. Hence this proposition cannot be false. Hence it is necessarily true, and so too is anything that follows from it. In particular, it is necessarily true that the sun is hot. Moreover, if the sun not only is and always will be hot, but also always has been, then it follows by similar reasoning that the sun not only cannot now fail to be hot, but also never could have failed. Anything everlastingly true is therefore, in the strictest sense of the term, necessarily true. (shrink)
Stephen Houlgate is one of the leading Hegel scholars of the English-speaking world. In this interview he explains how he became a “Hegelian” while studying in Cambridge, and he offers a fundamental profile of his account of Hegel. The interview addresses the following questions: Why does Houlgate consider Hegel’s philosophy to be the “consummate critical philosophy”? What are the main barriers to a proper access to Hegel’s thought? Why is logic as dialectical logic still indispensable for philosophical thought? And (...) finally, what can both analytical and “continental” philosophers learn from Hegel? (shrink)
The fundamental question of political reparation is: why should a state provide redress for an injustice? The predominant answer justifies redress in terms of debts—the perpetration of an injustice creates a debt, and a state is required to make redress for the same reasons that it is required to repay its debts . Other approaches justify redress on the grounds that it will facilitate the achievement of some broader political goal, like the fair distribution of social resources or political reconciliation.In (...) Transitional Justice in Established Democracies, Stephen Winter provides a novel answer to this fundamental question in terms of political legitimacy. On Winter’s “legitimating account,” the state’s perpetuation of certain injustices compromises its political legitimacy. Redress is a required for a (liberal, democratic) state to bolster its legitimacy and to live up to its political commitments.Winter’s book makes a number of contributions to thinking about redress and transitional .. (shrink)
Is there a contradiction in Stephen Colbert’s attitudes towards race? How can he consistently claim to be colorblind and yet hold a national search for a new "black friend"? I argue that Stephen is trying to claim rights and shirk responsibilities on matters of race relations in America, and that his famous notion of "truthiness" is an extension of this attitude to other areas of social and political discourse.
In this essay I will attempt to explain the significance of Stephen Bantu Biko's life. This I will do in terms of his intellectual contribution to the liberation of black people from the radically unjust apartheid society in South Africa. Firstly, I will discuss his contribution to liberate blacks psychologically from the political system of apartheid, pointing out how he broke through the normative and pragmatic acceptance of the situation in the radically unjust apartheid society. He experienced black people (...) as being defeated people, and he wanted to direct their attention to the fact that the cause of their unjust situation was other human beings and thus they could change it. Secondly, I point out how he gave black people a new self-understanding and self worth. One way of doing this was by means of community projects which fostered self-reliance. For Biko it was important that black people should act autonomously, and not let other people make decisions on their behalf. They also had to re-evaluate their cultural heritage to discover the positive aspects thereof. Lastly, I focus on his views on his ideal for a future just South Africa and show how important he regarded dialogue as a political tool. (shrink)
Stephen Finlay’s Confusion of Tongues is a bold and sophisticated book. The overarching goal is metaphysical: to reductively analyze normative facts, properties, and relations in terms of non-normative facts, properties, and relations. But the method is linguistic: to first provide a reductive analysis of the corresponding bits of normative language, with a particular focus on ‘good’, ‘ought’, and ‘reason’. The gap between language and reality is then bridged by taking linguistic analysis as a guide to conceptual analysis, and conceptual (...) analysis as a guide to metaphysical analysis. In this review, I consider three challenges to Finlay’s project that deserve more attention than they receive in the book. The first concerns Finlay’s claim to have provided a *reductive* theory of normative language, the second concerns his claim to have provided a *unified* theory of normative language, and the third concerns his claim to have provided a *correct* theory of normative language. (shrink)
This essay reviews one of the most recent books in a trend of new publications proffering evolutionary theorising about aesthetics and the arts—themes within an increasing literature on aspects of human life and human nature in terms of evolutionary theory. Stephen Davies’ The Artful Species links some of our aesthetic sensibilities with our evolved human nature and critically surveys the interdisciplinary debate regarding the evolutionary status of the arts. Davies’ engaging and accessible writing succeeds in demonstrating the maturity and (...) scope of the field and his critique is timely and unparalleled. A laudable effort, however it may have benefited from espousing a co-evolutionary model more explicitly. Moreover there may be reason to question the usefulness of the standard set of distinctions (‘adaptation’, ‘spandrel’, ‘technology’) that Davies appeals to. (shrink)
In this paper, I critically examine Stephen Turner's critique of practice theory in light of recent neurophysiological discoveries regarding the “mirror neuron system” in the pre-frontal mo-tor cortex of humans and other primates. I argue that two of Turner's strongest objections against the sociological version of the practice-theoretical account, the problem of transmission and the problem of sameness, are substantially undermined when examined from the perspective of re-cently systematized accounts of embodied learning and intersubjective action understanding in-spired by these (...) developments. In addition, I show that the practice-theoretical framework out-lined by Pierre Bourdieu in the Logic of Practice and other works is, in contrast to Turner's por-trayal of a confused hodgepodge of logical errors and empirical impossibilities, largely consistent with the latest neurophysiological evidence and as such fundamentally foreshadowed more recent understandings of the neurocognitive foundations of the perception, understanding and structure of the motor schemes productive of action in the world. Also in line with these newer neurosci-entific developments, the practice-theoretical focus on the body as the central matrix generative of tacit understandings and analogical operations responsible for “higher order” systems of classi-fication emerges as the key to solving some of the thorniest problems in the theory of action: eliminating to need to resort to unwarranted “collective object” explanations for the origins of shared presuppositional frameworks. (shrink)
In Meanings and Other Things fourteen leading philosophers explore central themes in the writings of Stephen Schiffer, a leading figure in philosophy since the 1970s. Topics range from theories of meaning to moral cognitivism, the nature of paradox, and the problem of vagueness. Schiffer's responses set out his current thinking.
There seems to be widespread agreement that there are two modal values: necessity and possibility. X is necessary if it is not possible that not-X; and Y is possible if it is not necessary that not-Y. In their path-breaking book, Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford defend the radical idea that there is a third modal value, weaker than necessity and stronger than possibility. This third value is dubbed 'dispositional modality' (DM) or 'tendency' and is taken to be an (...) irreducible and sui generis worldly modality: "the modality that's everywhere" (5). The source of DM is the causal powers of particulars; hence, DM is constitutively involved in causation: "a cause tends or disposes towards its effect, and can sometimes succeed in producing it" (9). Accordingly, DM is involved in all causal processes, from fundamental physics to the social and moral realm. This "deeply tendential view" (11) of the metaphysics of nature is advanced as distinct from both extant neo-Aristotelian and Humean views. Its key feature is that there is neither pure contingency nor necessitation in nature. (shrink)
This essay deals with property rights in body parts that can be exchanged in a market. The inquiry arises in the following context. With some exceptions, the laws of many countries permit only the donation, not the sale, of body parts. Yet for some years there has existed a shortage of body parts for transplantation and other medical uses. It might then appear that if more sales were legally permitted, the supply of body parts would increase, because people would have (...) more incentive to sell than they currently have to donate. To allow sales is to recognize property rights in body parts. To allow sales, however, makes body parts into “commodities”—that is, things that can be bought and sold in a market. And some view it as morally objectionable to treat body parts as commodities. (shrink)
Few of Stephen Jay Gould’s accomplishments in evolutionary biology have received more attention than his hierarchical theory of evolution, which postulates a causal discontinuity between micro- and macroevolutionary events. But Gould’s hierarchical theory was his second attempt to supply a theoretical framework for macroevolutionary studies—and one he did not inaugurate until the mid-1970s. In this paper, I examine Gould’s first attempt: a proposed fusion of theoretical morphology, multivariate biometry and the experimental study of adaptation in fossils. This early “macroevolutionary (...) synthesis” was predicated on the notion that parallelism and convergence dominate the history of higher taxa, and moreover, that they can be explained in terms of adaptation leading to mechanical improvement. In this paper, I explore the origins and contents of Gould’s first macroevolutionary synthesis, as well as the reasons for its downfall. In addition, I consider how various developments during the mid-1970s led Gould to identify hierarchy and constraint as the leading themes of macroevolutionary studies—and adaptation as a macroevolutionary red herring. (shrink)
This is a response to Stephen Maitzen’s paper. ‘Moral Conclusions from Nonmoral Premises’. Maitzen thinks that No-Ought-From-Is is false. He does not dispute the formal proofs of Schurz and myself, but he thinks they are beside the point. For what the proponents of No-Ought-From-Is need to show is not that you cannot get SUBSTANTIVELY moral conclusions from FORMALLY non-moral premises but that you cannot get SUBSTANTIVELY moral conclusions from SUBSTANTIVELY non-moral premises. And he believes that he can derive substantively (...) moral conclusions from FORMALLY moral but SUBSTANTIVELY nonmoral premises. However his argument relies on what I call ‘taxonomic essentialism’, the thesis that sentences do not change their semantic characters from context to context or from world to world. In particular, they do not change their META-ETHICAL status from context to context or world to world. If a sentence is non-moral at one world it is non-moral at all the rest. This thesis leads to contradictions (with some propositions as both moral and non-moral) and even if (as is perhaps possible) these contradictions can be avoided, it leads to further consequences that are palpably absurd. Thus It may be possible to derive substantively moral conclusions from premises that are not substantively moral, but if it is, Maitzen has failed to prove the point. (shrink)
In this article, I address the various objections raised by Simone Chambers, Stephen White and Lea Ypi concerning my version of a critical theory of politics. I explain the basic assumptions that inform my account of a critique of relations of justification, its particular method and aims.
During the 1970s, a "revolution" in American paleobiology took place. It came about in part because a group of mostly young, ambitious paleontologists adapted many of the quantitative methodologies and techniques developed in fields including biology and ecology over the previous several decades to their own discipline. Stephen Jay Gould, who was then just beginning his career, joined others in articulating a singular vision for transforming paleontology from an isolated and often ignored science to a "nomothetic discipline" that could (...) sit at evolution's "high table." Over the course of a single decade, between 1970 and 1980, this transformation had in large part been accomplished. Among those most centrally involved in this process were Gould, Thomas Schopf, David Raup, and Gould's graduate student Jack Sepkoski, all of whom made major contributions in theoretical and quantitative analysis of the fossil record and evolutionary history. Recognizing that an ideological agenda was not enough, Gould and others developed and promoted new outlets, technologies, and pedagogical strategies to nurture their new discipline. This paper describes this process of transformation, and presents Sepkoski's education and participation as exemplary of the "new model paleontologist", which Gould hoped to produce. (shrink)
To understand H.L.A. Hart's general theory of law, it is helpful to distinguish between substantive and methodological legal positivism. Substantive legal positivism is the view that there is no necessary connection between morality and the content of law. Methodological legal positivism is the view that legal theory can and should offer a normatively neutral description of a particular social phenomenon, namely law. Methodological positivism holds, we might say, not that there is no necessary connection between morality and law, but rather (...) that there is no connection, necessary or otherwise, between morality and legal theory. The respective claims of substantive and methodological positivism are, at least on the surface, logically independent. Hobbes and Bentham employed normative methodologies to defend versions of substantive positivism, and in modern times Michael Moore has developed what can be regarded as a variant of methodological positivism to defend a theory of natural law. (shrink)
In Squaring the Circle in Descartes’ Meditations, Stephen Wagner aims to show that Descartes’ project in the Meditations is best understood as a ‘strong validation of reason’ i.e., as proving in a non-circular way that human reason is a reliable, truth-conducive faculty. For such an enterprise to qualify as a ‘strong’ validation, Wagner contends, skeptical doubt must be given its strongest force. The most stringent doubt available in the Meditations is the deceiving God. To rule out the possibility that (...) an omnipotent God created humans so that their best functioning cognitive faculties provide misleading information about what the world is like, Descartes must prove that a non-deceiving God exists. Furthermore, only a non-circular proof will count as a ‘validation.’ Wagner spells out the requirements of non-circularity as involving a proof for God’s existence that is not deductive, does not simply achieve a clear and distinct perception of God’s existence, and proceeds on the basis of perceptions that remain true even when the reasons underlying them are not attended to any longer by the meditator. (shrink)
Stephen Morse has long proclaimed there to be a “fundamental psycho-legal error” that is regularly made by legal and social/psychological/medical science academics alike. This is the error of thinking that causation of human choice by factors themselves outside the chooser’s control excuses that chooser from moral responsibility. In this paper, I examine Morse’s self-labelled “internalist” defense of his thesis that this is indeed an error, and finds such internalist defense incomplete; needed is the kind of externalist defense of Morse’s (...) thesis that can only be provided by a worked-out compatibilist moral philosophy. The body of the paper outlines the kinds of compatibilisms that are plausible, contrasting them with two less plausible attempts to salvage responsibility in the face of an advancing neuroscientific determinism. These two less plausible rescue attempts, libertarianism and fictionalism, each seek to salvage responsibility even while not disavowing the FPLE. (shrink)
Perhaps the most salient feature of Rawls's theory of justice which at once attracts supporters and repels critics is its apparent egalitarian conclusion as to how economic goods are to be distributed. Indeed, many of Rawls's sympathizers may find this result intuitively appealing, and regard it as Rawls's enduring contribution to the topic of economic justice, despite technical deficiencies in Rawls's contractarian, decision-theoretic argument for it which occupy the bulk of the critical literature. Rawls himself, having proposed a “coherence” theory (...) of justification in metaethics, must regard the claim that his distributive criterion “is a strongly egalitarian conception” as independently a part of the overarching moral argument. The alleged egalitarian impact of Rawls's theory is crucial again in normative ethics where Rawls is thought to have developed a major counter-theory to utilitarianism, one of the most popular criticisms of which has been its alleged inadequacy in handling questions of distributive justice. Utilitarians can argue, however, as Brandt recently has, that the diminishing marginal utility of money, along with ignorance of income-welfare curves, would require a utility-maximizing distribution to be substantially egalitarian. The challenge is therefore for Rawls to show that his theory yields an ethically preferable degree of equality. (shrink)
Theories of economic justice are characteristically based on abstract ethical concerns often unrelated to practical distributive results. Two decades ago, Rawls's theory of justice began as a reaction against the alleged ‘sacrifices’ condoned by utilitarian theory. One variant of this objection is that utilitarianism permits gross inequalities, severe deprivations of individual liberty, or even the enslavement of society's least well-off individuals. There are, however, more subtle forms of the objection. In Rawls, it is often waged without any claim that utilitarianism (...) does in fact imply such gross deprivations in actual realworld circumstances. A second variant hinges, rather, on the milder claim that utilitarianism could condone such deprivations or sacrifices in some possible world—the objection being that utilitarianism improperly makes justice contingent, or uncertain, in this way. A third, still more abstract, variant would be that utilitarianism is flawed—not because of any practical distributive result, actual or hypothetical, but in theory —due to the way it treats individuals' interests, or the ‘concept of persons’ it presupposes. (shrink)