This book is a collection of secondary essays on America's most important philosophic thinkers—statesmen, judges, writers, educators, and activists—from the colonial period to the present. Each essay is a comprehensive introduction to the thought of a noted American on the fundamental meaning of the American regime.
Imperative sentences like Dance! do not seem to represent the world. Recent modal analyses challenge this idea, but its intuitive and historical appeal remain strong. This paper presents three new challenges for a non-representational analysis, showing that the obstacles facing it are even steeper than previously appreciated. I will argue that the only way for the non-representationalist to meet these three challenges is to adopt a dynamic semantics. Such a dynamic semantics is proposed here: imperatives introduce preferences between alternatives. This (...) characterization of meaning focuses on what function a sentence serves in discourse, rather than what that sentence refers to (e.g., a state of the world). By representing the meaning of imperatives, connectives and declaratives in a common dynamic format, the challenges posed for non-representationalism are met. (shrink)
A uniform theory of conditionals is one which compositionally captures the behavior of both indicative and subjunctive conditionals without positing ambiguities. This paper raises new problems for the closest thing to a uniform analysis in the literature (Stalnaker, Philosophia, 5, 269–286 (1975)) and develops a new theory which solves them. I also show that this new analysis provides an improved treatment of three phenomena (the import-export equivalence, reverse Sobel-sequences and disjunctive antecedents). While these results concern central issues in the study (...) of conditionals, broader themes in the philosophy of language and formal semantics are also engaged here. This new analysis exploits a dynamic conception of meaning where the meaning of a symbol is its potential to change an agent’s mental state (or the state of a conversation) rather than being the symbol’s content (e.g. the proposition it expresses). The analysis of conditionals is also built on the idea that the contrast between subjunctive and indicative conditionals parallels a contrast between revising and consistently extending some body of information. (shrink)
This paper proposes a semantics for free choice permission that explains both the non-classical behavior of modals and disjunction in sentences used to grant permission, and their classical behavior under negation. It also explains why permissions can expire when new information comes in and why free choice arises even when modals scope under disjunction. On the proposed approach, deontic modals update preference orderings, and connectives operate on these updates rather than propositions. The success of this approach stems from its capacity (...) to capture the difference between expressing the preferences that give rise to permissions and conveying propositions about those preferences. (shrink)
Desires often come to us unbidden and unwanted, and they can have a dramatic impact, sometimes changing the course of our lives. In On Desire, William B. Irvine takes us on a wide-ranging tour of our impulses, wants, and needs, showing us where these feelings come from and how we can try to rein them in. Irvine spices his account with engaging observations by both ancient and modern writers, philosophers, and religious leaders. Irvine also looks at what modern science (...) can tell us about desire--such as what happens in the brain when we desire something--and advances a new theory about how desire evolved. Irvine concludes that the best way to attain lasting happiness is not to change the world around us or our place in it, but to change ourselves. If we can convince ourselves to want what we already have, we can dramatically enhance our happiness. (shrink)
No existing conditional semantics captures the dual role of 'if' in embedded interrogatives — 'X wonders if p' — and conditionals. This paper presses the importance and extent of this challenge, linking it to cross-linguistic patterns and other phenomena involving conditionals. Among these other phenomena are conditionals with multiple 'if'-clauses in the antecedent — 'if p and if q, then r' — and relevance conditionals — 'if you are hungry, there is food in the cupboard'. Both phenomena are shown to (...) be problematic for existing analyses. Surprisingly, the decomposition of conditionals needed to capture the link with interrogatives provides a new analysis that captures all three phenomena. The model-theoretic semantics offered here relies on a dynamic conception of meaning and compositionality, a feature discussed throughout. (shrink)
How have the world's great thinkers, politicians, mathematicians, and religious figures reached their transformative moments of insight? Are there lessons to be learned from their experiences? William B. Irvine takes up these questions and others that relate to what he calls "aha moments," guiding us through the most striking examples of instantaneous intellectual breakthroughs that have shaped human civilization.
In this paper, I examine various popular notions concerning the ethics of investing. I first consider and reject the absolutist view that it is always wrong to invest in evil companies and the view that what makes investments in evil companies morally objectionable is the fact that by making such investments, investors are taking steps to benefit from the wrongdoing of others. I then defend the view that what makes certain investments morally objectionable is the fact that by making such (...) investments, investors enable others to do wrong. According to this view, when weighing the purchase of a certain company's stock, investors should ask themselves the following question: Would this sort of investment, if made by many people, enable others to do wrong? If the answer to this question is yes, and if an investor nevertheless makes the investment in question, he can justifiably be accused of moral wrongdoing. (shrink)
There is a big difference between saying Maya is singing, Is Maya singing? and Sing Maya! This paper examines and criticizes two attempts to rigorously explain this difference: Searle’s speech act theory and the truth-conditional reductionism advocated by Davidson and Lewis. On the speech act analysis, each utterance contains a marker which says what kind of speech act the utterance counts as performing. The truth-conditional reductionists try to reanalyze the non-declaratives as complex declarative forms. The former analysis fails to recognize (...) the indirect relationship between sentence type and utterance force. The latter analysis fails to recognize the distinctive and thoroughly compositional contribution that the imperative, interrogative and declarative mood make to sentences containing them. (shrink)
This article updates the author’s 1982 argument that lutetium and lawrencium, rather than lanthanum and actinium, should be assigned to the d-block as the heavier analogs of scandium and yttrium, whereas lanthanum and actinium should be considered as the first members of the f-block with irregular configurations. This update is embedded within a detailed analysis of Lavelle’s abortive 2008 attempt to discredit this suggestion.
American discourse in business ethics is steeped in the traditional ethical theories of Western philosophies, specifically the Greek classics, Kant, and the British Utilitarians. These theories may be largely uninterpretable or unacceptable to non-Western populations owing to different traditions, religious beliefs, or cultural histories. As economic boundaries collapse and markets become more global in scope, traditional Western ethical thought may lead to clashes among Western organizations and companies from differing cultural settings. Such clashes could lead to alienation of foreign customers, (...) firms and governments and resultant competitive disadvantage, or to an abandonment of ethical considerations altogether in the struggle to compete internationally. This paper puts forward two general alternatives to Western ethical philosophies as useful frameworks for the analysis of international ethical dilemmas. The first alternative uses new organizational economics, while the second emphasizes role relationships and organizational citizenship. (shrink)
Biodiversity and genetic resources have become the focal point of major national and international biological and political debates regarding control, ownership, access, and erosion of critical resources. While these issues are key to environmental sustainability and food security, biodiversity and genetic resources must be seen in the broader context of their inextricable relationship to cultural diversity and to humans' view of nature. Nature is assumed to be constituted socially through a wide variety of human processes described collectively as culture. Three (...) significant cultural factors, technology, science, and capitalism, are largely responsible for the secularization and homogenization of food and agriculture and the remaking of nature. These processes and forces may simultaneously and unwittingly create the problems of declines in biodiversity, cultural diversity, and food equity. Indeed, it may well be that the only way to conserve cultural biodiversity in the field is to conserve cultural diversity among peoples. This reunification of biodiversity and cultural diversity and food and agriculture will require new paradigms and institutional mechanisms that allow us to show our care for each other through our reverence for nature. (shrink)
The momentum of advances in biology is evident in the history of patents on life forms. As we proceed forward with greater understanding and technological control of developmental biology there will be many new and challenging dilemmas related to patenting of human parts and partial trajectories of human development. These dilemmas are already evident in the current conflict over the moral status of the early human embryo. In this essay, recent evidence from embryological studies is considered and the unbroken continuity (...) of organismal development initiated at fertilization is asserted as clear and reasonable grounds for moral standing. Within this frame of analysis, it is proposed that through a technique of Altered Nuclear Transfer, non-organismal entities might be created from which embryonic stem cells could be morally procured. Criteria for patenting of such non-organismal entities are considered. (shrink)
Abstract As there are food gluttons, so there are energy gluttons. One difference is that energy gluttons are typically oblivious to how much energy they consume and the source of that energy. Their energy gluttony is a side effect of insatiable desire for material goods, which themselves are often associated with social status. Nonetheless, steps taken to deal with energy gluttony parallel those taken with food gluttony. Typically these fall into three categories: educational, political, and technological. I will examine a (...) fourth, however, best characterized as philosophical. I will show how, by following the advice of the ancient Stoics and training ourselves to care less what others think of us, we can help overcome our desire for social status, resulting in a reduction in our desire for material things and a significant reduction in our personal energy bill. The pessimistic conclusion, however, is that most people are probably unwilling to undergo the self-analysis and self-transformation that this philosophical approach requires. (shrink)
Increasing pragmatic and ethical concerns have been raised about the inadequacies of conventional approaches to agricultural research and extension worldwide and the lack of integrated efforts among researchers, extension educators, and users. This paper examines three models of these relationships: the diffusion or supply model; the induced innovation or demand model; and the synthesis triangular or supply/demand model. The triangular model builds and improves upon the previous models by focusing on the role of clients or users in the broadest sense (...) in creating a demand for science and extension education, as well as on the role of scientists and extension educators in creating a supply. The triangular model views the relationship as an interactive partnership in which research and extension education are conducted in response to client needs and demands expressed through negotiation, persuasion, and coercion involving all partners. To implement this model will require significant organizational and managerial changes as well as reorientation in the values and attitudes of researchers, extension educators, clients, and their organizations. The remainder of the paper presents a brief discussion of suggested strategies at the individual, institutional, regional, national, and international levels for enhancing this partnership in order to more effectively meet the future needs of our food system. (shrink)
Utterances of natural language sentences can be used to communicate not just contents, but also forces. This paper examines this topic from a cross-linguistic perspective on sentential mood. Recent work in this area focuses on conversational dynamics: the three sentence types can be associated with distinctive kinds of conversational effects called sentential forces, modeled as three kinds of updates to the discourse context. This paper has two main goals. First, it provides two arguments, on empirical and methodological grounds, for treating (...) sentential force as part of a compositional dynamic semantics, rather than a dynamic pragmatics. Second, it formulates a minimal dynamic semantic analysis that covers the data at the heart of these arguments, incorporating existing analyses of the three major moods, evidentials and conjunction. A further aim of the paper is to sharpen the distinction between sentential force and utterance force, and discuss its implications. (shrink)