Many philosophers believe that there is a fundamental distinction between knowing that something is the case and knowing how to do something. According to Gilbert Ryle, to whom the insight is credited, knowledge-how is an ability, which is in turn a complex of dispositions. Knowledge-that, on the other hand, is not an ability, or anything similar. Rather, knowledge-that is a relation between a thinker and a true proposition.
The use of vague language in law has important implications for legal theory. Legal philosophers have occasionally grappled with those implications, but they have not come to grips with the characteristic phenomenon of vagueness: the sorites paradox. I discuss the paradox, and claim that it poses problems for some legal theorists. I propose that a good account of vagueness will have three consequences for legal theory: Theories that deny that vagueness in formulations of the law leads to discretion in adjudication (...) cannot accommodate “higher-order” vagueness, A legal theory should accept that the law is partly indeterminate when it can be stated in vague language, However, the traditional formulation of the indeterminacy claim, that a vague statement is “neither true nor false” in a borderline case, is misconceived and should be abandoned. (shrink)
One of the fundamental components of the concept of economic rationality is that preference orderings are “complete,” i.e., that all alternative actions an economic agent can take are comparable. The idea that all actions can be ranked may be called the single utility assumption. The attractiveness of this assumption is considerable. It would be hard to fathom what choice among alternatives means if the available alternatives cannot be ranked by the chooser in some way. In addition, the efficiency criterion makes (...) sense only if one can infer that an individual's choice reflects the best, in expected welfare terms, among all choices that individual could have made. The possibility that a rearrangement of resources could make someone “better off” without making others “worse off” can be understood only if the post-rearrangement world is comparable with the pre-rearrange-ment world. (shrink)
Even to disagree, we need to understand each other. If I reject what you say without understanding you, we will only have the illusion of a disagreement. You will be asserting one thing and I will be denying another. Even to disagree, we need some agreement.
The book is primarily an essay on the epistemology of the sort of armchair knowledge that we can hope to achieve in philosophy. The possibility of such knowledge is not to be explained by reinterpreting philosophical questions as questions about words or concepts. Although there are philosophical questions about words and concepts, most philosophical questions are not about words or concepts: they are, just as they seem to be, about the things, many of them independent of us, to which the (...) words or concepts refer. Nor is our linguistic or conceptual competence the basis for our philosophical knowledge; such competence merely …. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson gives an original and provocative treatment of deep metaphysical questions about existence, contingency, and change, using the latest resources of quantified modal logic. Contrary to the widespread assumption that logic and metaphysics are disjoint, he argues that modal logic provides a structural core for metaphysics.
The traditional view of divine conservation holds that it is simply a continuation of the initial act of creation. In this essay, I defend the continuous-creation tradition against William Lane Craig's criticism that continuous creation fundamentally misconstrues the intuitive distinction between creation and conservation. According to Craig, creation is the unique causal activity of bringing new patient entities into existence, while conservation involves acting upon already existing patient entities to cause their continued existence. I defend continuous creation by challenging Craig's (...) intuitive distinction and by showing that the alternative account of creation and conservation he bases upon it is fraught with serious internal difficulties. (shrink)
An interview with Timothy Williamson on Modality and other matters. Williams is asked three main questions: the first about the difference between philosophical and non-philosophical knowledge, the second concerns the epistemology of modality, and the third is on the emerging metaphysical picture.
One standard criticism of the doctrine of continuous creation is that it entails the occasionalist position that God alone is a true cause and that the events we commonly identify as causes are merely the occasions upon which God brings about effects. I begin by clearly stating Malebranche's argument from continuous creation to occasionalism. Next, I examine two strategies for resisting Malebranche's argument ??? strong and weak concurrentism ??? and argue that weak concurrentism is the more promising strategy. Finally, I (...) argue that weak concurrentism requires a necessitarian approach to secondary causation. (shrink)
According to the Law of Non–Contradiction, no statement and its negation are jointly true. According to many critics, Christians cannot serve both the orthodox faith and the Law of Non–Contradiction: if they hold to the one they must despise the other. And according to an impressive number of these critics, Christians who cling to the traditional doctrine of the Trinity must despise the Law of Non–Contradiction. Augustine's statement of this doctrine poses the problem as poignantly as any.
This paper explains and defends the idea that metaphysical necessity is the strongest kind of objective necessity. Plausible closure conditions on the family of objective modalities are shown to entail that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. Evidence is provided that some objective modalities are studied in the natural sciences. In particular, the modal assumptions implicit in physical applications of dynamical systems theory are made explicit by using such systems to define models of a modal temporal logic. Those assumptions (...) arguably include some necessitist principles. -/- Too often, philosophers have discussed ‘metaphysical’ modality — possibility, contingency, necessity — in isolation. Yet metaphysical modality is just a special case of a broad range of modalities, which we may call ‘objective’ by contrast with epistemic and doxastic modalities, and indeed deontic and teleological ones (compare the distinction between objective probabilities and epistemic or subjective probabilities). Thus metaphysical possibility, physical possibility and immediate practical possibility are all types of objective possibility. We should study the metaphysics and epistemology of metaphysical modality as part of a broader study of the metaphysics and epistemology of the objective modalities, on pain of radical misunderstanding. Since objective modalities are in general open to, and receive, natural scientific investigation, we should not treat the metaphysics and epistemology of metaphysical modality in isolation from the metaphysics and epistemology of the natural sciences. -/- In what follows, Section 1 gives a preliminary sketch of metaphysical modality and its place in the general category of objective modality. Section 2 reviews some familiar forms of scepticism about metaphysical modality in that light. Later sections explore a few of the many ways in which natural science deals with questions of objective modality, including questions of quantified modal logic. (shrink)
This paper aims to identify the constitutive rule of assertion, conceived by analogy with the rules of a game. That assertion has such rules is by no means obvious; perhaps it is more like a natural phenomenon than it seems. One way to find out is by supposing that it has such rules, in order to see where the hypothesis leads and what it explains. That will be done here. The hypothesis is not perfectly clear, of course, but we have (...) at least a crude conception of constitutive rules, which we may refine as we elaborate the hypothesis. Although no attempt will be made here to define ‘rule’, some remarks on constitutive rules will focus the discussion. (shrink)
The group of Dialectical Theology included some of the most well-known theologians of the 20th century – Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, Friedrich Gogarten, Eduard Thurneysen, Georg Merz und Emil Brunner. In the summer of 1922 they founded the journal Zwischen den Zeiten, which launched Dialectical Theology as the most influential avant-garde movement in Protestantism during the Weimar Republic. Due to internal strife and theological disagreements, the group began to lose strength in the early 1930s and eventually split up and ceased (...) publishing Zwischen den Zeiten in 1933. The individual members later became fierce critics of each other’s theological works. Gogarten and Barth became arch enemies during the so-called “church struggle”, and Bultmann and Barth became each other’s nemesis in the Federal Republic of Germany.In this article I examine the rise and fall of this movement. I argue that the concept “generation” was central to the early self-understanding and selfjustification of the group. It allowed the group to forge an alliance and oppose an antagonistic group of influential theologians. The claim to speak up for a young generation of theologians and pastors – in opposition to an older, liberal generation – became the rallying cry for Dialectical Theology. Further, I argue that conferences, not only the theological writings, played a central, constitutive role in establishing the group as a theological movement. It was at conferences that the members of Dialectical Theology could challenge the older generation and assert their own theological stance. Instead of merely concentrating on the published theological writings of each of the members, I thus argue that one must additionally focus on the applied concepts and the role of conferences to understand the history of Dialectical Theology. It is only when we include these additional contexts that we understand how Dialectical Theology was able to be launched and sustained as a theological movement despite the irreconcilable differences amongst the members. (shrink)
To desire something is a condition familiar to everyone. It is uncontroversial that desiring has something to do with motivation, something to do with pleasure, and something to do with reward. Call these "the three faces of desire." The standard philosophical theory at present holds that the motivational face of desire presents its unique essence--to desire a state of affairs is to be disposed to act so as to bring it about. A familiar but less standard account holds the hedonic (...) face of desire to reveal to true nature of desire. In this view, to desire something is to tend to pleasure if it seems that the desired state of affairs has been achieved, or displeasure if it seems otherwise, thus tying desire to feelings instead of actions. In Three Faces of Desire, Schroeder goes beyond actions and feelings to advance a novel and controversial theory of desire that puts the focus on desire's neglected face, reward. Informed by contemporary science as much as by the philosophical tradition, Three Faces of Desire discusses recent scientific discoveries that tell us much about the way that actions and feelings are produced in the brain. In particular, recent experiments reveal that a distinctive system is responsible for promoting action, on the one hand, and causing feelings of pleasure and displeasure, on the other. This system, the brain's reward system, is the causal origin of both action and feeling, and is the key to understanding the nature of desire. (shrink)
In the January 6, 1991, issue of the Washington Post Magazine, reporter Walt Harrington wrote a profile of Bryan Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson is a 31-year-old working-class African-American from Delaware who graduated from Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. Like the typical graduate of Harvard Law School, Mr. Stevenson had the opportunity to join the worlds of six-figure corporate law or high-visibility politics. Rather than follow his colleagues, however, Mr. Stevenson works seven-day, eighty-hour weeks as director of the (...) Alabama Capital Representation Center. He appeals death sentences, handling twenty-four death-row cases himself, supervises five other lawyers who cover about thirty cases, and raises federal government and foundation funding. He does this living a Spartan existence on a salary of $24,000, refusing even the $50,000 directorship salary offered to him. (shrink)
This work presents a historically informed, systematic exposition of the Christology of the first seven Ecumenical Councils of undivided Christendom, from the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 AD. Assuming the truth of Conciliar Christology for the sake of argument, Timothy Pawl considers whether there are good philosophical arguments that show a contradiction or incoherence in that doctrine. He presents the definitions of important terms in the debate and a helpful (...) metaphysics for understanding the incarnation. -/- In Defense of Conciliar Christology discusses three types of philosophical objections to Conciliar Christology. Firstly, it highlights the fundamental philosophical problem facing Christology: how can one thing be both God and man, when anything deserving to be called "God" must have certain attributes, and yet it seems that nothing that can aptly be called "man" can have those same attributes? It then considers the argument that if the Second Person of the Holy Trinity were immutable or atemporal, as Conciliar Christology requires, then that Person could not become anything, and thus could not become man. Finally, Pawl addresses the objection that if there is a single Christ then there is a single nature or will in Christ. However, if that conditional is true, then Conciliar Christology is false, since it affirms the antecedent of the conditional to be true, but denies the truth of the consequent. Pawl defends Conciliar Christology against these charges, arguing that all three philosophical objections fail to show Conciliar Christology inconsistent or incoherent. (shrink)
Having set global warming in irreversible motion, we are facing the possibility of ecological catastrophe. But the environmental emergency is also a crisis for our philosophical habits of thought, confronting us with a problem that seems to defy not only our control but also our understanding. Global warming is perhaps the most dramatic example of what Timothy Morton calls “hyperobjects”—entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first (...) place. In this book, Morton explains what hyperobjects are and their impact on how we think, how we coexist with one another and with nonhumans, and how we experience our politics, ethics, and art. Moving fluidly between philosophy, science, literature, visual and conceptual art, and popular culture, the book argues that hyperobjects show that the end of the world has already occurred in the sense that concepts such as world, nature, and even environment are no longer a meaningful horizon against which human events take place. Instead of inhabiting a world, we find ourselves inside a number of hyperobjects, such as climate, nuclear weapons, evolution, or relativity. Such objects put unbearable strains on our normal ways of reasoning. Insisting that we have to reinvent how we think to even begin to comprehend the world we now live in, _Hyperobjects_ takes the first steps, outlining a genuinely postmodern ecological approach to thought and action. (shrink)
The claim that a miracle is a violation of a law of nature has sometimes been used as part of an a priori argument against the possibility of miracle, on the grounds that a violation is conceptually impossible. I criticize these accounts but also suggest that alternative accounts, when phrased in terms of laws of nature, fail to provide adequate conceptual space for miracles. It is not clear what a ???violation??? of a law of nature might be, but this is (...) not relevant to the question of miracles. In practice, accounts of miracle tend to be phrased in terms of God's act not in terms of laws of nature. Finally, I suggest that the a priori argument reflects an intellectual commitment that is widely held, though wrongly built into the argument itself. (shrink)
This paper discusses the nature and the status of inference to the best explanation. We outline the foundational role given IBE by its defenders and the arguments of critics who deny it any place at all ; argue that, on the two main conceptions of explanation, IBE cannot be a foundational inference rule ; sketch an account of IBE that makes it contextual and dependent on substantive empirical assumptions, much as simplicity seems to be ; show how that account avoids (...) the critics ' complaints and leaves IBE an important role ; and sketch how our account can clarify debates over IBE in arguments for scientific realism. (shrink)
The possibility of justified true belief without knowledge is normally motivated by informally classified examples. This paper shows that it can also be motivated more formally, by a natural class of epistemic models in which both knowledge and justified belief are represented. The models involve a distinction between appearance and reality. Gettier cases arise because the agent's ignorance increases as the gap between appearance and reality widens. The models also exhibit an epistemic asymmetry between good and bad cases that sceptics (...) seem to ignore or deny. (shrink)
Assertions are praised as true, informative, relevant, sincere, warranted, well-phrased, or polite. They are criticized as false, uninformative, irrelevant, insincere, unwarranted, ill-phrased, or rude. Sometimes they deserve such praise or criticism. If any respect in which performances of an act can deserve praise or criticism is a norm for that act, then the speech act of assertion has many norms. So has almost any act; jumps can deserve praise as long or brave, criticism as short or cowardly. But it is (...) natural to suppose that some norms are more intimately connected to the nature of asserting than any norm is to the nature of jumping. One might suppose, for example, that someone who knowingly asserts a falsehood has thereby broken a rule of assertion, much as if he had broken a rule of a game; he has cheated. On this view, the speech act, like a game and unlike the act of jumping, is constituted by rules. Thus, not all norms for assertion are on a par. Norms such as relevance, good phrasing, and politeness are just applications of more general cognitive or social norms to the specific act of assertion. Perhaps the norm of informativeness results from a more complex interaction between a general norm of cooperativeness and the nature of assertion as a source of information. But on this view, not all norms for assertion derive from more general norms; otherwise nothing would differentiate it from other speech acts. (shrink)
What is belief? "Beliefs aim at truth" is the commonly accepted starting point for philosophers who want to give an adequate account of this fundamental state of mind, but it raises as many questions as it answers. For example, in what sense can beliefs be said to have an aim of their own? If belief aims at truth, does it mean that reasons to believe must also be based on truth? Must beliefs be formed on the basis of evidence alone? (...) Is truth the constitutive norm of belief? Does aiming at truth bring in a normative dimension to the nature of belief? How can the aim of truth guide the formation of our beliefs? In what ways do partial beliefs aim at truth? Is truth the aim of epistemic justification? Last but not least, is it knowledge rather than truth which is the fundamental aim of belief? In recent years, pursuing these questions has proved extremely fertile for our understanding of a wide range of current issues in philosophy of mind and action, epistemology, and meta-ethics. The Aim of Belief is the first book to be devoted to this fast-growing topic. It brings together eleven newly commissioned essays by leading authors on the aim of belief. Contributors: Jonathan Adler, Krister Bykvist, Timothy Chan, Pascal Engel, Kathrin Glüer, Anandi Hattiangadi, Michael Hicks, Paul Horwich, David Papineau, Andrew Reisner, Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen, Ralph Wedgwood, Åsa Wikforss, Daniel Whiting. (shrink)
Some arguments for moral vegetarianism proceed by appealing to widely held beliefs about the immorality of causing unjustified pain. Combined with the claim that meat is not needed for our nourishment and that killing animals for this reason causes them unjustified pain, they yield the conclusion that eating meat is immoral. However, what counts as a good enough reason for causing pain will depend largely on what we think about the moral status of animals. Implicit in these arguments is the (...) claim that sentience is sufficient for having moral status. These arguments, however, fail to specify the conceptual connection between the two. I argue in this paper that sentience is not sufficient for moral status. Thus, although animals experience pain as it is physically bad, their experience of it is not in itself morally bad. They are harmed in feeling pain, but this harm is not of a moral kind. This distinction parallels the more familiar distinction between moral and non-moral goods. When considered, this significantly mitigates the force of sentience-based arguments for moral vegetarianism. Since animals lack moral status, it is not wrong to eat meat, even if this is not essential to nutrition. (shrink)
Critics of persuasive advertising argue that it undermines the autonomy of consumers by manipulating their desires in morally problematic ways. My aim is this paper is to refine that argument by employing a conception of autonomy that is not at odds with certain forms of manipulation. I argue that the charge of manipulation is not sufficient for condemning persuasive advertising. On my view, manipulation of an agent’s desires through advertising is justifiable in cases where the agent accepts the process through (...) which the desires were developed. I show how the standard manipulation objection proves too much as it would also condemn cases of that kind. I argue that this distinction is especially important when we consider the implications of “new media.” In addition to increasing vulnerability to manipulation, new media have considerable impacts on well-being. By siding with the traditional autonomy argument, we would be compelled to take an implausible stand against all forms of manipulation through advertising, but I suggest that only a proper subset of those cases are morally problematic. This conclusion opens up a space for persuasive advertising that is permissible while nevertheless condemning cases that violate consumers’ autonomy. (shrink)
Some commentators have criticized bioethics as failing to engage religion both as a matter of theory and practice. Bioethics should work toward understanding the influence of religion as it represents people's beliefs and practices, but bioethics should nevertheless observe limits in regard to religion as it does its normative work. Irreligious skepticism toward religious views about health, healthcare practices and institutions, and responses to biomedical innovations can yield important benefits to the field. Irreligious skepticism makes it possible to raise questions (...) that otherwise go unasked and to protect against the overreach of religion. In this sense, bioethics needs a vigorous irreligious outlook every bit as much as it needs descriptive understandings of religion. (shrink)
Philosophical and scientific investigations of the proprietary aspects of self—mineness or mental ownership—often presuppose that searching for unique constituents is a productive strategy. But there seem not to be any unique constituents. Here, it is argued that the “self-specificity” paradigm, which emphasizes subjective perspective, fails. Previously, it was argued that mode of access also fails to explain mineness. Fortunately, these failures, when leavened by other findings (those that exhibit varieties and vagaries of mineness), intimate an approach better suited to searching (...) for an explanation. Having an alternative in hand, one that shows promise of achieving explanatory adequacy, provides an additional reason to suspend the search for unique constituents. In short, a negative and a positive thesis are developed: we should cease looking for unique constituents and should seek to explain mineness in accord with the model developed here. This model rejects attempts to explain the phenomenon in terms of either a narrative or a minimal sense of self; it seeks to explain at a “molecular” level, one that appeals to multiple, interacting dimensions. The molecular-level model allows for the possibility that subjective perspective is distinct from a stark perspective (one that does not imply mineness). It proposes that the confounding of tacit expectations plays an important role in explaining mental ownership and its complement, disownership. But the confounding of tacit expectations is not sufficient. Because we are able to be aware of the existence of mental states that do not belong to self, we require a mechanism for determining degree of self-relatedness. One such mechanism is proposed here, and it is shown how this mechanism can be integrated into a general model of mental ownership. In the spirit of suggesting how this model might be able to help resolve outstanding problems, the question as to whether inserted thoughts belong to the patient who reports them is also considered. (shrink)
To desire is to be in a particular state of mind. It is a state of mind familiar to everyone who has ever wanted to drink water or desired to know what has happened to an old friend, but its familiarity does not make it easy to give a theory of desire. Controversy immediately breaks out when asking whether wanting water and desiring knowledge are, at bottom, the same state of mind as others that seem somewhat similar: wishing never to (...) have been born, preferring mangoes to peaches, craving gin, having world conquest as one's goal, having a purpose in sneaking out to the shed, or being inclined to provoke just for the sake of provocation. These varied states of mind have all been grouped together under the heading of ‘pro attitudes’, but whether the pro attitudes are fundamentally one mental state or many is disputed. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker, developing an idea of Wittgenstein’s, argues that we are immune to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun. Although we might be liable to error when “I” (or its cognates) is used as an object, we are immune to error when “I” is used as a subject (as when one says, “I have a toothache”). Shoemaker claims that the relationship between “I” as-subject and the mental states of which it is introspectively aware is tautological: when, say, we (...) judge that “I feel pain,” we are tautologically aware that feels pain is instantiated and that it is instantiated in oneself. Moreover, he contends that this relationship holds not just for bodily sensations, but also for the sense of agency and for visual perception. But we deny that this relationship is tautological; instead, we treat Shoemaker’s principle (IEM) as a hypothesis. We then proceed to show that certain pathological states and experimentally-induced illusions can be adduced to show that IEM describes not a necessary relationship but a contingent relationship, one that sometimes fails to obtain. That we are not immune to error in the way Shoemaker describes has grave consequences for many aspects of his ideas concerning the first-person perspective. In the course of arguing that these empirical phenomena count against IEM, we also show that not only can the content of conscious experience be misrepresented, so too can the subject: that is, not only can the what of conscious experience be misrepresented, so too can the who. (shrink)
In recent years scholars have begun to question the usefulness of the category of ''religion'' to describe a distinctive form of human experience and behavior. In his last book, The Ideology of Religious Studies (OUP 2000), Timothy Fitzgerald argued that ''religion'' was not a private area of human existence that could be separated from the public realm and that the study of religion as such was thus impossibility. In this new book he examines a wide range of English-language texts (...) to show how religion became transformed from a very specific category indigenous to Christian culture into a universalist claim about human nature and society. These claims, he shows, are implied by and frequently explicit in theories and methods of comparative religion. But they are also tacitly reproduced throughout the humanities in the relatively indiscriminate use of ''religion'' as an a priori valid cross-cultural analytical concept, for example in historiography, sociology, and social anthropology. Fitzgerald seeks to link the argument about religion to the parallel formation of the ''non-religious'' and such dichotomies as church-state, sacred-profane, ecclesiastical-civil, spiritual-temporal, supernatural-natural, and irrational-rational. Part of his argument is that the category ''religion'' has a different logic compared to the category ''sacred,'' but the two have been consistently confused by major writers, including Durkheim and Eliade. Fitzgerald contends that ''religion'' imagined as a private belief in the supernatural was a necessary conceptual space for the simultaneous imagining of ''secular'' practices and institutions such as politics, economics, and the Nation State. The invention of ''religion'' as a universal type of experience, practice, and institution was partly the result of sacralizing new concepts of exchange, ownership, and labor practices, applying ''scientific'' rationality to human behavior, administering the colonies and classifying native institutions. In contrast, shows Fitzgerald, the sacred-profane dichotomy has a different logic of use. (shrink)
Critics of industrial animal agriculture have argued that its practices are cruel, inhumane, or otherwise degrading to animals. These arguments sometimes form the basis of a larger case for the complete abolition of animal agriculture, while others argue for more modest welfare-based reforms that allow for certain types of industrial farming. This paper defends industrial farming against the charge of cruelty. As upsetting as certain practices may seem, I argue that they need not be construed as cruel or inhumane. Any (...) link between industrial farming and cruelty or inhumanity is contingent on certain cultural, behavioral, and psychological facts that are person-dependent. For many people working in animal agriculture, these facts do not obtain. To be sure, industrial animal agriculture has real moral hazards that must be carefully avoided, but all that this shows is that working with animals is not for everyone. (shrink)
Subjectivity theories of consciousness take self-reference, somehow construed, as essential to having conscious experience. These theories differ with respect to how many levels they posit and to whether self-reference is conscious or not. But all treat self-referencing as a process that transpires at the personal level, rather than at the subpersonal level, the level of mechanism. -/- Working with conceptual resources afforded by pre-existing theories of consciousness that take self-reference to be essential, several attempts have been made to explain seemingly (...) anomalous cases, especially instances of alien experience. These experiences are distinctive precisely because self-referencing is explicitly denied by the only person able to report them: those who experience them deny that certain actions, mental states, or body parts belong to self. The relevant actions, mental states, or body parts are sometimes attributed to someone or something other than self, and sometimes they are just described as not belonging to self. But all are referred away from self. -/- The cases under discussion here include somatoparaphrenia, schizophrenia, depersonalization, anarchic hand syndrome, and utilization behavior; the theories employed, Higher-Order Thought, Wide Intrinsicality, and Self-Representational. Below I argue that each of these attempts at explaining or explaining away the anomalies fails. Along the way, since each of these theories seeks at least compatibility with science, I sketch experimental approaches that could be used to adduce support for my position, or indeed for the positions of theorists with whom I disagree. -/- In a concluding section I first identify two presuppositions shared by all of the theorists considered here, and argue that both are either erroneous or misleading. Second, I call attention to divergent paths adopted when attempting to explain alienation experiences: some theorists choose to add a mental ingredient, while others prefer to subtract one. I argue that alienation from experience, action, or body parts could result from either addition or subtraction, and that the two can be incorporated within a comprehensive explanatory framework. Finally, I suggest that this comprehensive framework would require self-referencing of a sort, but self-referencing that occurs solely on the level of mechanism, or the subpersonal level. In adumbrating some features of this “subpersonal self,” I suggest that there might be one respect in which it is prior to conscious experience. (shrink)
Lewisian reference magnetism about linguistic content determination [Lewis 1983 has been defended in recent work by Weatherson  and Sider , among others. Two advantages claimed for the view are its capacity to make sense of systematic error in speakers' use of their words, and its capacity to distinguish between verbal and substantive disagreements. Our understanding of both error and disagreement is linked to the role of usage and first order intuitions in semantics and in linguistic theory more generally. I (...) argue, partially on the basis of these more general considerations, that reference magnetism delivers implausible results. Specifically, I argue that the proponent of reference magnetism maintains her analysis of genuinely systematic error at the cost of an empirically unjustifiable error theory regarding ordinary usage. In response, I describe an alternative view of content determination?MUMPS, or Meaning is Use Minus Pragmatics?which is not committed to such error theories. Despite this advantage, MUMPS has high prima facie costs. On such a view, there is a great deal of variation in linguistic meaning across speakers and times. As a result, a large number of seemingly mistaken claims are analysed as expressing true propositions. Correspondingly, a large number of seemingly substantive disagreements are analysed as terminological. However, I argue that these consequences are not as costly as they seem. Despite appearances, MUMPS is consistent with objective, metaphysically realist adjudication of disagreements, even in cases where meanings are not shared and where both parties to a dispute speak truly. MUMPS thus allows for a more nuanced understanding of linguistic usage, change, and variation, without imposing a commitment to any form of metaphysical anti-realism. (shrink)
A theory of evidential probability is developed from two assumptions:(1) the evidential probability of a proposition is its probability conditional on the total evidence;(2) one's total evidence is one's total knowledge. Evidential probability is distinguished from both subjective and objective probability. Loss as well as gain of evidence is permitted. Evidential probability is embedded within epistemic logic by means of possible worlds semantics for modal logic; this allows a natural theory of higher-order probability to be developed. In particular, it is (...) emphasized that it is sometimes uncertain which propositions are part of one's total evidence; some surprising implications of this fact are drawn out. (shrink)
Early practitioners of the social studies of science turned their attention away from questions of institutionalisation, which had tended to emphasize macrolevel explanations, and attended instead to microstudies of laboratory practice. The author is interested in re-investigating certain aspects of institution formation, notably the formation of scientific, medical, and engineering disciplines. He emphasises the manner in which science as cultural practice is imbricated with other forms of social, political, and even aesthetic practices. The author considers the following topics: the organic (...) physics of 1847; the innovative research program of Carl Ludwig as a model for institutionalising science-based medicine, optics, painting, and ideology in Germany, 1845-95; the Haber-Bosch synthesis of ammonia; and the introduction of nuclear magnetic resonance instrumentation into the practice of organic chemistry. (shrink)
First published Sat Apr 5, 2003; most recent substantive revision Wed Aug 22, 2018. -/- Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) was the most influential British philosopher in the generation between Locke and Berkeley. His philosophical interests were mostly in metaphysics, theology, and ethics.
Systematicity theory—developed and articulated by Paul Hoyningen-Huene—and scientific realism constitute separate encompassing and empirical accounts of the nature of science. Standard scientific realism asserts the axiological thesis that science seeks truth and the epistemological thesis that we can justifiably believe our successful theories at least approximate that aim. By contrast, questions pertaining to truth are left “outside” systematicity theory’s “intended scope” ; the scientific realism debate is “simply not” its “focus”. However, given the continued centrality of that debate in the (...) general philosophy of science literature, and given that scientific realists also endeavor to provide an encompassing empirical account of science, I suggest that these two contemporary accounts have much to offer one another. Overlap for launching a discussion of their relations can be found in Nicholas Rescher’s work. Following through on a hint from Rescher, I embrace a non-epistemic, purely axiological scientific realism—what I have called, Socratic scientific realism. And, bracketing the realist’s epistemological thesis, I put forward the axiological tenet of scientific realism as a needed supplement to systematicity theory. There are two broad components to doing this. First, I seek to make clear that axiological realism and systematicity theory accord with one another. Toward that end, after addressing Hoyningen-Huene’s concerns about axiological analysis, I articulate a refined axiological realist meta-hypothesis: it is, in short, that the end toward which scientific inquiry is directed is an increase in a specific subclass of true claims. I then identify a key feature of scientific inquiry, not generally flagged explicitly, that I take to stand as shared terrain for the two empirical meta-hypotheses. And I argue that this feature can be informatively accounted for by my axiological meta-hypothesis. The second broad component goes beyond mere compatibility between the two positions: I argue that, in want of a systematic account of science, we are prompted to find an end toward which scientific inquiry is directed that is deeper than what systematicity theory offers. Specifically, I argue that my refined axiological realist meta-hypothesis is required to both explain and justify key dimensions of systematicity in science. To the quick question, what is it that the scientific enterprise is systematically doing? My quick answer is that it is systematically seeking to increase a particular subclass of true claims. (shrink)