The Third Reich conceived of life as a struggle (Kampf) between competing forces. This view of life was based on a growing emphasis in German philosophy and culture upon voluntarism, or the power of the will as the ultimate metaphysical reality. For these Germans, God was dead. There was no transcendent or universal standard to provide life with direction, no grand design or rationality to explain the succession of events, only the groundless and endless struggle of forces competing to assert (...) their power and extend their dominion. These Germans found early inspiration for this idea in the writings of Gottfried Leibniz, who spoke of life as possessing its own autonomous power in each of its individual members or monads. They saw this concept develop and become the one metaphysical truth in the works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche with their emphasis upon the “will to live” and the “will to power.” The two philosophers exerted particular influence upon the Nazis, who saw them as early exponents of their ideology. This influence is important in understanding the fundamental mentality of the Nazis, even if the metaphysics of voluntarism contained other possible forms of interpretation beyond what the Nazis represented in word and deed. To understand the relationship between Nazism and voluntarism, the article develops the philosophical background from Leibniz to Nietzsche and relates this development to its Nazi expression in Adolf Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, Alfred Bäumler, and Martin Heidegger. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue for a particular informative and unified analysis of normative reasons. According to this analysis, a fact F is a reason to act in a certain way just in case it is evidence that one ought to act in that way. Similarly, F is a reason to believe a certain proposition just in case it is evidence for the truth of this proposition. Putting the relatively uncontroversial claim about reasons for belief to one side, we present (...) several arguments in favor of our analysis of reasons for action. We then turn to consider a series of objections to the analysis. We conclude that there are good reasons to accept the analysis and that the objections do not succeed. (shrink)
What kind of life best ensures human welfare? Since the ancient Greeks, this question has been as central to ethical philosophy as to ordinary reflection. But what exactly is welfare? This question has suffered from relative neglect. And, as Stephen Darwall shows, it has done so at a price. Presenting a provocative new "rational care theory of welfare," Darwall proves that a proper understanding of welfare fundamentally changes how we think about what is best for people.Most philosophers have assumed (...) that a person's welfare is what is good from her point of view, namely, what she has a distinctive reason to pursue. In the now standard terminology, welfare is assumed to have an "agent-relative normativity." Darwall by contrast argues that someone's good is what one should want for that person insofar as one cares for her. Welfare, in other words, is normative, but not peculiarly for the person whose welfare is at stake. In addition, Darwall makes the radical proposal that something's contributing to someone's welfare is the same thing as its being something one ought to want for her own sake, insofar as one cares. Darwall defends this theory with clarity, precision, and elegance, and with a subtle understanding of the place of sympathetic concern in the rich psychology of sympathy and empathy. His forceful arguments will change how we understand a concept central to ethics and our understanding of human bonds and human choices. (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)
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)
Over the past decade, both the doctrine and the practice of criminal law have come under intensely critical review by feminist scholars and reformers. The territory under reexamination by or because of feminists spans the problems of women as witnesses, defendants, and prisoners in the criminal justice system; it extends to the situation of women as potential victims and offenders in diverse offense circumstances. Crimes in which the defendant or victim is typically female are predictable subjects of feminist concern, but (...) attention has extended as well to the dynamics of women's experience in connection with such offenses as assault, shoplifting, drug offenses, and even armed robbery. Feminist criticism and reform efforts have focused for the most part at the level of specific rules or particular areas of practice. In this paper I want to comment on the structure of the feminist critique and to compare its underlying assumptions to those of criminal law as it has been traditionally understood and practiced. In at least some of its prominent versions, feminism entails orientations and commitments incompatible with those of the received criminal law tradition. To the extent that this is true, criminal law, constructed and expounded almost exclusively by males, can fairly be characterized as “sexist” or at least “gendered” in its core assumptions. Moving to normative ground, I suggest that if the descriptive claims of the feminist movement are true to any substantial extent, then criminal law – conceived in terms seemingly uncongenial to a large part of our population – would require thorough reexamination. (shrink)
On the traditional view, moral distress arises only in cases where an individual believes she knows the morally right thing to do but fails to perform that action due to various constraints. We seek to motivate a broader understanding of moral distress. We begin by presenting six types of distress that fall outside the bounds of the traditional definition and explaining why they should be recognized as forms of moral distress. We then propose and defend a new and more expansive (...) definition of moral distress and examine how it can enable the development of a taxonomy of moral distress. (shrink)
[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)
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)
The peculiar features of the climate change problem pose substantial obstacles to our ability to make the hard choices necessary to address it. Climate change involves the convergence of a set of global, intergenerational and theoretical problems. This convergence justifies calling it a 'perfect moral storm'. One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions surrounding climate change could be answered, we might still find it difficult to act. For the storm makes us extremely vulnerable (...) to moral corruption. (shrink)
In this significantly expanded new edition of his acclaimed exploration of the four Alien movies, Stephen Mulhall adds several new chapters on Steven Spielberg’s Mission: Impossible trilogy and Minority Report . The first part of the book discusses the four Alien movies. Mulhall argues that the sexual significance of the aliens themselves, and of Ripley’s resistance to them, takes us deep into the question of what it is to be human. At the heart of the book is a highly (...) original and controversial argument that films themselves can philosophize. Mulhall then applies his interpretative model to another sequence of contemporary Hollywood movies: the Mission: Impossible series. A brand new chapter is devoted to each of the three films in the series, and to other films by the relevant directors that cast light on their individual contribution to it. In this discussion, the nature of television becomes as central a concern as the nature of cinema; and the shift in generic focus from science fiction to thriller also makes room for a detailed reading of Spielberg’s Minority Report . On Film, Second Edition is essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, film theory and cultural studies, and in the way philosophy can enrich our understanding of cinema. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Pierluigi Barrotta argues that Mises ‘ended up by defending an epistemological tenet very far from Kant's’, concluding that ‘Mises's apriorism cannot be vindicated through Kant's epistemology’. In contrast, I shall argue that certain of Mises's arguments can be reconstructed in Kantian terms, and thus the distance between Mises and Kant is not as extreme as Barrotta's argument may appear to suggest. Specifically, I shall argue that Mises, like Kant, seeks to establish the a priori nature of (...) the category of causality. To this extent at least, Mises's apriorism can be vindicated through Kant's epistemology. (shrink)
Stephen Cole Kleene was one of the greatest logicians of the twentieth century and this book is the influential textbook he wrote to teach the subject to the next generation. It was first published in 1952, some twenty years after the publication of Godel's paper on the incompleteness of arithmetic, which marked, if not the beginning of modern logic. The 1930s was a time of creativity and ferment in the subject, when the notion of computable moved from the realm (...) of philosophical speculation to the realm of science. This was accomplished by the work of Kurt Gode1, Alan Turing, and Alonzo Church, who gave three apparently different precise definitions of computable. When they all turned out to be equivalent, there was a collective realization that this was indeed the right notion. Kleene played a key role in this process. One could say that he was there at the beginning of modern logic. He showed the equivalence of lambda calculus with Turing machines and with Godel's recursion equations, and developed the modern machinery of partial recursive functions. This textbook played an invaluable part in educating the logicians of the present. It played an important role in their own logical education.". (shrink)
Stephen Mumford puts forward a new theory of dispositions, showing how central their role is in metaphysics and philosophy of science. Much of our understanding of the physical and psychological world is expressed in terms of dispositional properties--from the solubility of sugar to the belief that zebras have stripes. Mumford discusses what it means to say that something has a property of this kind, and how dispositions can possibly be real things in the world. His clear, straightforward, realist account (...) reveals them to be less mysterious than they seem, and shows that an understanding of dispositions is essential to an understanding of properties, causation, and scientific laws. (shrink)
This book develops an alternative approach to sentence- and word-meaning, which I dub the speech-act theoretic approach, or STA. Instead of employing the syntactic and semantic forms of modern logic–principally, quantification theory–to construct semantic theories, STA employs speech-act structures. The structures it employs are those postulated by a novel theory of speech-acts. STA develops a compositional semantics in which surface grammar is integrated with semantic interpretation in a way not allowed by standard quantification-based theories. It provides a pragmatic theory of (...) truth, a treatment of logically complex discourse as expressive cognitive states, and a background metaphysics in which the world is a totality of logically simple states of affairs. The book also puts forward an account of how intentional states provide the simple, representational foundation for a superstructure of speech-act structures–a system of thoughts–that far outruns the expressive power of the intentional foundation. In short, it provides an account of cognitive foundations of a language and a naturalistic reduction of semantics through an expressive theory of semantic norms. (shrink)
Edmund Gettier's 1963 verdict about what knowledge is not has become an item of philosophical orthodoxy, accepted by philosophers as a genuine epistemological result. It assures us that - contrary to what Plato and later philosophers have thought - knowledge is not merely a true belief well supported by epistemic justification. But that orthodoxy has generated the Gettier problem - epistemology's continuing struggle to understand how to accommodate Gettier's apparent result within an improved conception of knowledge. In this book, (...) class='Hi'>Stephen Hetherington argues that none of epistemology's standard attempts to solve that problem have succeeded: he shows how subtle yet fundamental mistakes - regarding explication, methodology, properties, modality, and fallibility - have permeated those responses to Gettier's challenge. His fresh and original book outlines a new way of solving the problem, and an improved grasp of Gettier's challenge and its significance is the result. In a sense, Plato can now embrace Gettier. (shrink)
Between the later views of Wittgenstein and those of connectionism 1 on the subject of the mastery of language there is an impressively large number of similarities. The task of establishing this claim is carried out in the second section of this paper.
A critical study of two recent books in climate ethics by Dale Jamieson (Reason in a Dark Time, Oxford 2014), and Darrel Moellendorf (The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change, Cambridge 2014).
Although liberals too often forget it, the health of the liberal publicorder depends on our ability to constitute not only political institutions and limits on power, but appropriate patterns of social lifeand citizen character. Liberal character traits and political virtuesdo not, after all, come about “naturally” or by the deliverance of an “invisible hand.” Even Adam Smith did not think that, as we will see below. Harry Eckstein gets closer to themark by suggesting that “stable governments…are the productof 'accidental' conjunctions (...) of conditions which do sometimes, but rarely, occur in actual societies.”. (shrink)
Joseph LaPorte in an article on `Kind and Rigidity'(Philosophical Studies, Volume 97) resurrects an oldsolution to the problem of how to understand the rigidityof kind terms and other general terms. Despite LaPorte'sarguments to the contrary, his solution trivializes thenotion of rigidity when applied to general terms. Hisarguments do lead to an important insight however. Thenotions of rigidity and non-rigidity do not usefullyapply at all to kind or other general terms. Extendingthe notion of rigidity from singular terms such as propernames to (...) general terms such as natural kind terms is amistake. (shrink)
A central theme throughout the impressive series of philosophical books and articles Stephen Toulmin has published since 1948 is the way in which assertions and opinions concerning all sorts of topics, brought up in everyday life or in academic research, can be rationally justified. Is there one universal system of norms, by which all sorts of arguments in all sorts of fields must be judged, or must each sort of argument be judged according to its own norms? In The (...) Uses of Argument Toulmin sets out his views on these questions for the first time. In spite of initial criticisms from logicians and fellow philosophers, The Uses of Argument has been an enduring source of inspiration and discussion to students of argumentation from all kinds of disciplinary background for more than forty years. (shrink)
The Royal Society's landmark report on geoengineering is predicated on a particular account of the context and rationale for intentional manipulation of the climate system, and this ethical framework probably explains many of the Society's conclusions. Critical reflection on the report's values is useful for understanding disagreements within and about geoengineering policy, and also for identifying questions for early ethical analysis. Topics discussed include the moral hazard argument, governance, the ethical status of geoengineering under different rationales, the implications of understanding (...) geoengineering as a consequence of wider moral failure, and ethical resistance to invasive interventions in environmental systems. (shrink)
Philosophical Perspectives on Art presents a series of essays devoted to two of the most fundamental topics in the philosophy of art: the distinctive character of artworks and what is involved in understanding them as art. In Part I, Stephen Davies considers a wide range of questions about the nature and definition of art. Can art be defined, and if so, which definitions are the most plausible? Do we make and consume art because there are evolutionary advantages to doing (...) so? Has art completed the mission that guided its earlier historical development, and if so, what is to become of it now? Should architecture be classified as an art form? -/- Part II turns to the interpretation and appreciation of art. What is the target and purpose of the critic's interpretation? Is interpretation primarily directed at uncovering artists' intended meanings? Can apparently contradictory interpretations of a given piece both be true? Are interpretative evaluations entailed by descriptions of a work's aesthetic and artistic characteristics? In addition to providing fresh answers to these and other central questions in aesthetics, Davies considers the nature and content of metaphor, and the relation between the expressive qualities of a work of art and the emotions of its creator. (shrink)
Stephen Schiffer presents a groundbreaking account of meaning and belief, and shows how it can illuminate a range of crucial problems regarding language, mind, knowledge, and ontology. He introduces the new doctrine of 'pleonastic propositions' to explain what the things we mean and believe are. He discusses the relation between semantic and psychological facts, on the one hand, and physical facts, on the other; vagueness and indeterminacy; moral truth; conditionals; and the role of propositional content in information acquisition and (...) explanation. This radical new treatment of meaning will command the attention of everyone who works on fundamental questions about language, and will attract much interest from other areas of philosophy. (shrink)
Can normative words like "good," "ought," and "reason" be defined in non-normative terms? Stephen Finlay argues that they can, advancing a new theory of the meaning of this language and providing pragmatic explanations of the specially problematic features of its moral and deliberative uses which comprise the puzzles of metaethics.
The social and environmental problems that we face at this tail end of twentieth-century progress require us to identify some cause, some spirit that transcends the petty limits of our time and place. It is easy to believe that there is no crisis. We have been told too often that the oceans will soon die, the air be poisonous, our energy reserves run dry; that the world will grow warmer, coastlands be flooded and the climate change; that plague, famine and (...) war will be the necessary checks on population growth. But here we are: sufficiently healthy and well-fed, connoisseurs of far-off catastrophe and horror movies, confident that something will turn up or that the prophecies of doom were only dreams. We are the descendants, after all, of creatures who did not despair, who hoped against hope that there would still be life tomorrow. We no more believe in the world's end than we believe that soldiers could break down the door and drag us off to torture and to death: we don't believe that they could even when we know that, somewhere altogether elsewhere, they did. Even if we can force ourselves to remember other ages, other lands or other classes, we are content enough. (shrink)
We may usefully distinguish between one’s having fallible knowledge and having a fallibilist stance on some of one’s knowledge. A fallibilist stance could include a concessive knowledge-attribution. But it might also include a questioning knowledge-attribution. Attending to the idea of a QKA leads to a distinction between what we may call closed knowledge that p and open knowledge that p. All of this moves us beyond Elgin’s classic tale of the epistemic capacities of Holmes and of Watson, and towards a (...) way of resolving Kripke’s puzzle about dogmatism and knowing. (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)
It is commonly held that no one can be morally responsible for a necessary truth. In this paper, I will provide various examples that cast doubt on this idea. I also show that one popular argument for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism (van Inwagen’s Direct Argument) fails given my examples.
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