In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. "Nonsense," says the sensible Bernard Suits: "playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a (...) central part of the ideal of human existence, so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia. Originally published in 1978, The Grasshopper is now re-issued with a new introduction by Thomas Hurka and with additional material (much of it previously unpublished) by the author, in which he expands on the ideas put forward in The Grasshopper and answers some questions that have been raised by critics. (shrink)
The dissertation provides a critical comparison of the theories of John Rawls and Alasdair MacIntyre with particular attention to the question of identity. The theme of true persuasion as situated by the concepts of eros and logos in Plato's Phaedrus is developed and applied to two contemporary understandings of the person. I suggest explanations for the paradoxical way in which Rawls and MacIntyre tend to read their understandings of identity in terms of the understandings of citizenship. An idiom of Will (...) elaborated in each theorist's view of politics and rationality results in a conflation of person and citizen and the reduction of true persuasion to public philosophy. (shrink)
Conscious perception, like the sight of a coffee cup, seems to involve the brain identifying a stimulus. But conscious input activates more brain regions than are needed to identify coffee cups and faces. It spreads beyond sensory cortex to frontoparietal association areas, which do not serve stimulus identiﬁcation as such. What is the role of those regions? Parietal cortex support the ‘ﬁrst person perspective’ on the visual world, unconsciously framing the visual object stream. Some prefrontal areas select and interpret conscious (...) events for executive control. Such functions can be viewed as properties of the subject, rather than the object, of experience – the ‘observing self’ that appears to be needed to maintain the conscious state. (shrink)
Reid's response to hume has traditionally been taken as begging all of hume's questions. One can, However, Find in reid an argument against hume's phenomenalistic skepticism. Reid's appeal to common sense is an attempt to call attention to the fact that we experience objects as external to us, Not as bundles of impressions. Still, Our access to these objects does arise out of sensations, Which are mental contents. Extending berkeley's idea of the "language of nature" reid suggests that language and (...) signification present apt theoretical models for explaining perception. Using this model, One can provide an answer to the argument from illusion. (shrink)
Toward A Sociological Imagination builds on the ideas C. Wright Mills expressed in The Sociological Imagination for an approach to the scientific method broad enough to open up to the full range of knowledge within the sociology discipline. In this book, nine sociologists and one philosopher provide detailed tests of the utility of the approach within diverse substantive sociological areas.
This volume addresses a wide variety of moral concerns regarding slavery as an institutionalized social practice. By considering the slave's critical appropriation of the natural rights doctrine, the ambiguous implications of various notions of consent and liberty are examined. The authors assume that, although slavery is undoubtedly an evil social practice, its moral assessment stands in need of a more nuanced treatment. They address the question of what is wrong with slavery by critically examining, and in some cases endorsing, certain (...) principles derived from communitarianism, paternalism, utilitarianism, and jurisprudence. (shrink)
This volume provides a systematic overview and comprehensive assessment of Bernard Williams' contribution to moral philosophy, a field in which Williams was one of the most influential of contemporary philosophers. The seven essays, which were specially commissioned for this volume, examine his work on moral objectivity, the nature of practical reason, moral emotion, the critique of the 'morality system', Williams' assessment of the ethical thought of the ancient world, and his later adoption of Nietzsche's method of 'genealogy'. Collectively, the (...) essays not only engage with Williams' work, but also develop independent philosophical arguments in connection with those topics that have, over the last thirty years, particularly reflected Williams' influence. (shrink)
Historians of technology have provided important accounts of technological innovation, but they rarely employ concepts which permit a rigorous analysis ofinvention as a mental or cognitive process. This article seeks to address this theoretical lacuna by using concepts adapted from cognitive psychology to compare the mental processes of two telephone inventors, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Specifically, we suggest that invention may be seen as a process in which inventors combine ideas with objects, or what we call mental (...) models and mechanical representations. The strategies by which inventors generate and manipulate these mental models and mechanical representations are what we refer to as heuristics. Using these concepts to narrate the development of the telephone, this article shows how invention can be interpreted as being much more than simply a mysterious act of individual genius. (shrink)
This study is based on the self-reporting by circus artists’ concerning their injuries. We refer to the theoretical framework of emersiology and argue that circus artists may be able to soothe their distress and pain by learning through their body. We will draw further on the comparison between our therapeutic approach and the techniques of self-care introduced by Michel Foucault in his History of Sexuality.
I explore what BernardWilliams means by regarding one’s action ‘purely externally, as one might regard anyone else’s action’, and how it links to regret and agent-regret. I suggest some ways that we might understand the external view: as a failure to recognize what one has done, in terms of Williams’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic luck, and as akin to Thomas Nagel’s distinction between an internal and external view. I argue that none of these captures what Williams was getting (...) at because they do not allow one to take a view on one’s action. I offer two alternative accounts. One turns around what we identify with, the other concerns what we care about. Both accounts capture how I might regret, rather than agent-regret, my own action. I demonstrate that these accounts can explain the relationship between an insurance payout and the external view, and they can explain the agent-relativity of agent-regret. (shrink)
In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. “Nonsense,” said the sensible Bernard Suits: “playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop's Grasshopper, a “shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology,” Suits not only (...) argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, and so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia. This new edition of _The Grasshopper_ includes illustrations from Frank Newfeld created for the book’s original publication, as well as an introduction by Thomas Hurka and a new appendix on the meaning of ‘play.’. (shrink)
Thomas Hobbes was the first great English political philosopher. His work excited intense controversy among his contemporaries and continues to do so in our own time. In this masterly introduction to his work, Bernard Gert provides the first account of Hobbes’s political and moral philosophy that makes it clear why he is regarded as one of the best philosophers of all time in both of these fields. In a succinct and engaging analysis the book illustrates that the commonly (...) accepted view of Hobbes as holding psychological egoism is not only incompatible with his account of human nature but is also incompatible with the moral and political theories that he puts forward. It also explains why Hobbes’s contemporaries did not accept his explicit claim to be providing a natural law account of morality. Gert shows that for Hobbes, civil society is established by a free-gift of their right of nature by the citizens; it does not involve a mutual contract between citizens and sovereign. As injustice involves breaking a contract, the sovereign cannot be unjust; however, the sovereign can be guilty of ingratitude, which is immoral. This distinction between injustice and immorality is part of a sophisticated and nuanced political theory that is in stark contrast to the reading often incorrectly attributed to Hobbes that “might makes right”. It illustrates how Hobbes’s goal of avoiding civil war provides the key to understanding his moral and political philosophy. _Hobbes: Prince of Peace_ is likely to become the classic introduction to the work of Thomas Hobbes and will be a valuable resource for scholars and students seeking to understand the importance and relevance of his work today. (shrink)
Seventeen years before Kant published The Critique of Pure Reason, there appeared another work designed to undercut Hume’s skepticism and the principles upon which that skepticism was based—Thomas Reid’s Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense. In this ambitious work, Reid hoped to show, against Hume, that there need be no quarrel between common sense and philosophical inquiry. “Philosophy,” proclaimed Reid, “has no other roots but the principles of Common Sense; it grows out of them, (...) and draws its nourishment from them.” Reid’s self-imposed task was thus two-fold—to expose the errors in philosophical method which had inexorably culminated in Hume’s phenomenalistic atomism, and correlatively to provide a more adequate metaphysical scheme which could avoid the pitfalls of skepticism while doing justice to our ordinary beliefs about the world. (shrink)
A discussion of egoism and altruism as related both to ethical theory and moral psychology. Williams considers and rejects various arguments for and against the existence of egoistic motives and the rationality of someone motivated by self-interest. He ultimately attempts to give a more Humean defense of altruism, as opposed to the more Kantian defenses found in Thomas Nagel, for example.
1. Bosanquet, who relished paradox, does not disappoint us about history. The late nineteenth century was a golden age of historical inquiry. Historians — Ernst Curtius, J.G. Droysen, Theodor Mommsen in Germany, William Stubbs, E.A. Freeman and F.W. Maitland in England, Jules Michelet and others in France — were establishing history as a credible and esteemed academic discipline. This increasing respectability of the practice of history was matched by a sophisticated theorisation of history, a theorisation which took two directions. On (...) the one hand were Marx’s brilliant and bewitching historical projections. On the other the logic and methodology of history as an autonomously valid form of knowledge and inquiry were being elaborated. This last was largely a process in which the hermeneutic inquiries of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Droysen and Wilhelm von Humboldt came to fruition in the work of such writers as Philip August Boeckh, Wilhelm Dilthey and — not to forget The Presuppositions of Critical History — our own F.H. Bradley. (shrink)