Oxford Studies vol. XIV contains five free-standing articles (on Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics), an exchange between Job van Eck and Christopher Rowe about a key passage in the Phaedo, and three lengthy review articles: Michael Wedin on David Bostock's Aristotle: Metaphysics Z and ; Gail Fine on R.J. Hankinson's The Sceptics ; and Anne Sheppard on John Dillon's Alcinous. Only the briefest sketch of the volume is possible.
This collection is a festschrift prepared for Williams on his retirement from the White’s Professorship of Moral Philosophy at Oxford. The topics covered include equality, consistency, comparison between science and ethics, integrity, moral reasons, the moral system, and moral knowledge. Most of the chapters combine exegetical and critical ambitions. With contributions by J. E. J. Altham, Jon Elster, Nicholas Jardine, Ross Harrison, Christopher Hookway, John McDowell, Martin Hollis, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, and Charles Taylor, and replies by Bernard Williams.
The general principle of epistemic closure stipulates that epistemic properties are transmissible through logical means. According to this principle, an epistemic operator, say ε, should satisfy any valid scheme of inference, such as: if ε(p entails q), then ε(p) entails ε(q). The principle of epistemic closure under known entailment (ECKE), a particular instance of epistemic closure, has received a good deal of attention since the last thirty years or so. ECKE states that: if one knows that p entails q, and (...) she knows that p, then she knows that q. It is widely accepted that ECKE constitutes an important piece of the skeptical argument, but the acceptance of an unrestricted version of ECKE is still a matter of debate. On the side of the defenders of ECKE, one finds Stine (1976), Brueckner (1985), Vogel (1990), and Feldman (1995). Others proposed a refutation or a limitation of the principle, like Dretske (1970), Nozick (1981), Hales (1995), Williams (1996), and Sosa (1999). As it turns out, the relevant alternatives view (RAV) elaborated by Dretske, which restricts the scope of ECKE, has been discussed extensively and acknowledged as one of the most important contributions. There is nonetheless a major unsolved difficulty pertaining to Dretske-RAV: the notion of relevant alternatives is defined in such a way that it is bounded by counterfactual possibilities. This ontological import leaves open the door to the skeptic. Some have tried to give more precision to this notion, like Stine (1976), who appealed to a Gricean approach to define relevant alternatives in conversational contexts. My proposal is in accordance with the gist of Dretske’s strategy, i.e. to restrict the validity of ECKE, and I claim that in order to escape the difficulties inherent to RAV one has to introduce a more robust notion, the notion of epistemic context. Epistemic contexts are a subclass of propositional contexts. In that perspective, the closure property is expressed in terms of a property of a relation between epistemic contexts. ECKE holds when and only when either the epistemic context of the premisses is the same as the epistemic context of the conclusion, or the epistemic context change between the premisses and the conclusion is permissible. Permissibility of epistemic context change is a function of consistency. By means of this epistemic context approach, I will show that: (1) epistemic contexts are defined by basic propositions (unchallenged justified beliefs), (2) ECKE holds only under very specific constraints, and (3) the skeptical argument involves a non-permissible change of epistemic context and, by the same token, cannot rely upon ECKE. (shrink)
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain (...) in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant. (shrink)
In this paper I address the current debate on ontic versus epistemic conceptualizations of mechanistic explanation in the mechanisms literature. Illari recently argued that good explanations are subject to both ontic and epistemic constraints: they must describe mechanisms in the world in such fashion that they provide understanding of their workings. Elaborating upon Illari’s ‘integration’ account, I argue that causal role function discovery of mechanisms and their components is an epistemic prerequisite for achieving these two aims. This analysis extends Illari’s (...) account in important ways, putting more pressure on ontic readings of mechanistic explanation and providing an answer to the question how ontic and epistemic constraints on mechanistic explanation are related. I argue these point in terms of cases on memory research drawn from neuroscience and research on extinct neurogenetic mechanisms from early nervous systems biology. (shrink)
Descartes has often been called the 'father of modern philosophy'. His attempts to find foundations for knowledge, and to reconcile the existence of the soul with the emerging science of his time, are among the most influential and widely studied in the history of philosophy. This is a classic and challenging introduction to Descartes by one of the most distinguished modern philosophers. Bernard Williams not only analyzes Descartes' project of founding knowledge on certainty, but uncovers the philosophical motives for his (...) search. With acute insight, he demonstrates how Descartes' _Meditations _are not merely a description but the very enactment of philosophical thought and discovery. Williams covers all of the key areas of Descartes' thought, including God, the will, the possibility of knowledge, and the mind and its place in nature. He also makes profound contributions to the theory of knowledge, metaphysics and philosophy generally. With a new foreword by John Cottingham. (shrink)
In his introduction to this collection, John representative. McDermott presents James's thinking in all its manifestations, stressing the importance of radical empiricism and placing into perspective the doctrines of pragmatism and the will to believe. The critical periods of James's life are highlighted to illuminate the development of his philosophical and psychological thought. The anthology features representive selections from The Principles of Psychology, The Will to Believe , and The Variety of Religious Experience in addition to the complete Essays in (...) Radical Empiricism and A Pluralistic Universe . The original 1907 edition of Pragmatism is included, as well as classic selections from all of James's other major works. Of particular significance for James scholarship is the supplemented version of Ralph Barton Perry's Annotated Bibliography of the Writings of William James , with additions bringing it up to 1976. (shrink)
Beliefs are freely attributed to God nowadays in Anglo–American philosophical theology. This practice undoubtedly reflects the twentieth–century popularity of the view that knowledge consists of true justified belief . The connection is frequently made explicit. If knowledge is true justified belief then whatever God knows He believes. It would seem that much recent talk of divine beliefs stems from Nelson Pike's widely discussed article, ‘Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action’. In this essay Pike develops a version of the classic argument for (...) the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and free will in terms of divine forebelief. He introduces this shift by premising that ‘ A knows X ’ entails ‘A believes X ’. As a result of all this, philosophers have increasingly been using the concept of belief in defining ‘omniscience’. (shrink)
v. 1. William and Henry, 1861-1884 -- v. 2. William and Henry, 1885-1896 -- v. 3. William and Henry, 1897-1910 -- v. 4. 1856-1877 -- v. 5. 1878-1884 -- v. 6. 1885-1889 -- v. 7. 1890-1894 -- v. 8. 1895-June 1899 -- v. 9. July 1899-1901 -- v. 10. 1902-March 1905 -- v. 11. April 1905-March 1908 -- v. 12. April 1908-August 1910.
In the recent literature on explanation in biology, increasing attention is being paid to the connection between design explanation and mechanistic explanation, viz. the role of design principles and heuristics for mechanism discovery and mechanistic explanation. In this paper we extend the connection between design explanation and mechanism discovery by prizing apart two different types of design explanation and by elaborating novel heuristics that one specific type offers for mechanism discovery across species. We illustrate our claims in terms of two (...) lines of biological research on the biological advantages of organismal traits, one on the eye-size of giant squid, the other on foraging habits of specific bat species. We argue that this research illustrates useful heuristics for mechanism discovery across species, viz. reasoning strategies to infer likely mechanisms for a certain biological role based on assessments of the environmental conditions in which the role is performed efficiently and less or in-efficiently. We bring out the novel features of our analysis in terms of a comparison with mechanistic approaches to mechanism discovery, amongst which graph-theoretical ones, and by comparing the different types of design explanation and the discovery heuristics they support. (shrink)
That law is coercive is something we all more or less take for granted. It is an assumption so rooted in our ways of thinking that it is taken as a given of social reality, an uncontroversial datum. Because it is so regarded, it is infrequently stated, and when it is, it is stated without any hint of possible complications or qualifications. I will call this the “prereflective view,” and I want to examine it with the care it deserves.
Scott Williams’s Latin Social model of the Trinity holds that the trinitarian persons have between them a single set of divine mental powers and a single set of divine mental acts. He claims, nevertheless, that on his view the persons are able to use indexical pronouns such as “I.” This claim is examined and is found to be mistaken.
Recently, the work of philosopher-psychologist William James has undergone something of a renaissance. In this contribution to the trend, William Gavin argues that James's plea for the "reinstatement of the vague" to its proper place in our experience should be regarded as a seminal metaphor for his thought in general. The concept of vagueness applies to areas of human experience not captured by facts that can be scientifically determined nor by ideas that can be formulated in words. In (...) areas as seemingly diverse as psychology, religion, language, and metaphysics, James continually highlights the importance of the ambiguous, the contextual, the pluralistic, or the uncertain over the foundational. Indeed, observes the author, only in a vague unfinished world can the human self, fragile as it is, have the possibility of making a difference or exercising the will to believe. Taking James's plea seriously, Gavin traces the idea of the vague beyond the philosopher's own texts. In "conversations" with other philosophers--including Peirce, Marx, Dewey, and, to a lesser extent, Rorty and Derrida--the author shows that a version of James's position is central to their thought. Finally, Gavin looks for the pragmatic upshot of James's plea, reaffirming the importance of the vague in two concrete areas: the doctor-patient relationship in medicine and the creation and experiencing of modern art. In conclusion, Gavin argues that James's work is itself vague, in a positive sense, and that as such it functions as a "spur" to the reader. (shrink)
In The City of God , XI, 10, St Augustine claims that the divine nature is simple because ‘it is what it has’ . We may take this as a slogan for the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity , a doctrine which finds its way into orthodox medieval Christian theological speculation. Like the doctrine of God's timeless eternality, the DDS has seemed obvious and pious to many, and incoherent, misguided, and repugnant to others. Unlike the doctrine of God's timeless eternality, the (...) DDS has received very little critical attention. The DDS did not originate with Augustine, but I am not primarily concerned with its pedigree. Nor am I concerned to ask how the doctrine interacts with trinitarian speculation. I will have my hands full as it is. In Section I of this paper I shall provide a rough characterization of the DDS, indicate its complexity, and focus on a particular aspect of the doctrine which will exercise us in the remainder of the paper, namely, the thesis that the divine attributes are all identical with each other and with God. In section n I shall discuss Alvin Plantinga's recent objections to Aquinas' version of the DDS. I shall then offer a more detailed presentation of what I take to be Aquinas' version , and recast it in terms of a theory of attributes which is significantly different from Plantinga's . Although the recasting of the doctrine will enable me to rebut Plantinga's objections , it by no means solves all the problems of the DDS. In section vi I shall discuss the chief lingering problem facing a defender of the DDS. (shrink)
One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
During the past few decades a growing interest in what is often called the ‘Kyoto School’ of philosophy has evidenced itself here and there in the West, especially in discussions of comparative religious thought and in the pages of journals which are sensitive, in the post-colonial world, to the value of giving attention to contemporary thought that originates outside the Anglo-American and continental contexts. What has made the so-called Kyoto School especially interesting is the fact that those thinkers identified with (...) it obviously possess a wide acquaintance with Western thought but also have a programme of clarifying points at which they, as Japanese philosophers, find Western philosophy either in sum or in its parts inadequate or objectionable. Moreover, inasmuch as the philosophers of the Kyoto School have deliberately reached back into the Mahayana Buddhist component in Japanese civilization in order to find terms, perspectives, and even foundations for their own analyses and constructions, Western students of comparative religion and comparative thought have in the study of this school a unique aperture for observing how a group of thinkers, while sharing modernity and its problems with us, reates both of these to a religious tradition which is in many ways strikingly different from that of the West. (shrink)
Donald Davidson notoriously rejected ‘metaphorical meaning’ and denied the existence of linguistic mechanisms by which metaphorical significance is conveyed. He contended that the meanings metaphorical sentences have are just their literal meanings, though metaphorical utterances may brute-causally have important cognitive effects. Contrastingly, John Searle offers a Gricean account of metaphor as an elaborated kind of implicature, and defends metaphorical meaning as speaker-meaning. Each of those positions is subject to very telling objections from the other's point of view. This paper proposes (...) a synthesis that combines the respective virtues of Davidson's and Searle's accounts and avoids all the objections to each. (shrink)
Here are some things that are widely believed about free will and determinism. Free will is prima facie incompatible with determinism. The incompatibility is logical or at least conceptual or a priori. A compatibilist needs to explain how free will can co-exist with determinism, paradigmatically by offering an analysis of ‘free’ action that is demonstrably compatible with determinism. Free will is not impugned by quantum in determinism, at least not in the same decisive way that it is impugned by determinism. (...) To reconcile free will with quantum indeterminism takes work, but the work comes under the heading of metaphysical business-as-usual; to reconcile free will with determinism requires a conceptual breakthrough. And listen to Laura Waddell Ekstrom on the burden of proof. (shrink)
In his article, ‘Gratuitous evil and divine providence’, Alan Rhoda claims to have produced an uncontroversial theological premise for the evidential argument from evil. I argue that his premise is by no means uncontroversial among theists, and I doubt that any premise can be found that is both uncontroversial and useful for the argument from evil.
Patricia Williams made a number of claims concerning the methods and practise of cladistic analysis and classification. Her argument rests upon the distinction of two kinds of hierarchy: a divisional hierarchy depicting evolutionary descent and the Linnean hierarchy describing taxonomic groups in a classification. Williams goes on to outline five problems with cladistics that lead her to the conclusion that systematists should eliminate cladism as a school of biological taxonomy and to replace it either with something that is philosophically coherent (...) or to replace it with pure methodology, untainted by theory (Williams 1992, 151). Williams makes a number of points which she feels collectively add up to insurmountable problems for cladistics. We examine Williams' views concerning the two hierarchies and consider what cladists currently understand about the status of ancestors. We will demonstrate that Williams has seriously misunderstood many modern commentators on this subject and all of her five persistent problems are derivable from this misunderstanding. Some persons believe and argue, on grounds approaching faith it seems to me, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of evolution. Others have found to their surprise, and sometimes dismay, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of systematics. Nelson (1989, 67). (shrink)
Analysis of the adequacy of engineering design methods, as well as analysis of the utility of concepts of function often invoked in these methods, is a neglected topic in both philosophy of technology and in engineering proper. In this paper, I present an approach—dubbed an explanationist perspective—for assessing the adequacy of function-based design methods. Engineering design is often intertwined with explanation, for instance, in reverse engineering and subsequent redesign, knowledge base-assisted designing, and diagnostic reasoning. I argue that the presented approach (...) is useful for validating function-based design methods with respect to their explanatory elements and that it supports assessment of the explanatory and design utility of “function”, and the different conceptualizations thereof, as used in such engineering design methods. I deploy two key desiderata from the explanation literature to assess the viability of function-based design methods: explanatorily relevant difference-making factors and counterfactual understanding defined in terms of what-if-things-had-been-different questions. I explicate the approach and its merits in terms of two case studies drawn from the engineering functional modeling literature: reverse engineering and redesign and malfunction analysis. I close the paper by discussing ramifications of the presented approach for the philosophy of design and the philosophy of explanation. (shrink)
This essay focuses on what I shall call “cosmopolitan altruism”—the motivationally effective desire to assist needy or endangered strangers. Section I describes recent research that confirms the existence of this phenomenon. Section II places it within interlocking sets of moral typologies that distinguish among forms of altruism along dimensions of scope, interests risked, motivational source, and baseline of moral judgment. Section III explores some of the relationships between altruism—a concept rooted in modern moral philosophy and Christianity—and the understanding of virtue (...) and friendship characteristic of Aristotelian ethical analysis. Finally, Section IV argues that cosmopolitan altruism does not represent moral progress simpliciter over other, less inclusive views, and that the widening of moral sympathy to encompass endangered strangers entails significant moral costs. (shrink)
What features will something have if it counts as an explanation? And will something count as an explanation if it has those features? In the second half of the 20th century, philosophers of science set for themselves the task of answering such questions, just as a priori conceptual analysis was generally falling out of favor. And as it did, most philosophers of science just moved on to more manageable questions about the varieties of explanation and discipline-specific scientific explanation. Often, such (...) shifts are sound strategies for problem-solving. But leaving fallow certain basic conceptual issues can also result in foundational debates. (shrink)
By the time of his death in 2003, Bernard Williams was one of the greatest philosophers of his generation. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy is not only widely acknowledged to be his most important book, but also hailed a contemporary classic of moral philosophy. Presenting a sustained critique of moral theory from Kant onwards, Williams reorients ethical theory towards ‘truth, truthfulness and the meaning of an individual life’. He explores and reflects upon the most difficult problems in contemporary philosophy (...) and identifies new ideas about central issues such as relativism, objectivity and the possibility of ethical knowledge. This edition also includes a new commentary on the text by A.W.Moore and a foreword by Jonathan Lear. (shrink)
This essay explores the ways in which a broadly pluralist outlook can help illuminate longstanding issues of constitutional theory and practice. It begins with a common-sense understanding of pluralism as the diversity of observed practices within a general category. It turns out that many assumptions Americans and others often make about constitutional essentials are valid only locally but not generically. The essay then turns to pluralism in a more technical and philosophical sense—specifically, the account of value pluralism adumbrated by Isaiah (...) Berlin and developed by his followers. Section 3 sketches this version of pluralism, and section 4 brings it to bear on a range of familiar constitutional issues. In the process, a distinction emerges between, on the one hand, areas of variation among constitutions and, on the other, some general truths about political life that define core constitutional functions. The essay concludes with some brief reflections on the normative thrust of pluralist constitutional theory—in particular, a presumption in favor of the maximum accommodation of individual and group differences consistent with the maintenance of constitutional unity and civic order. (shrink)
This new edition of William James’s 1909 classic, A Pluralistic Universe reproduces the original text, only modernizing the spelling. The books has been annotated throughout to clarify James’s points of reference and discussion. There is a new, fuller index, a brief chronology of James’s life, and a new bibliography—chiefly based on James’s own references. The editor, H.G. Callaway, has included a new Introduction which elucidates the legacy of Jamesian pluralism to survey some related questions of contemporary American society. -/- (...) A Pluralistic Universe was the last major book James published during his life time. It is a substantial philosophical work, devoted to a thorough-going criticism of Hegelian monism and Absolutism—and the exploration of philosophical and social-theological alternatives. Our world of some one hundred years on is much the better for James’s contributions; and understanding James’s pluralism deeply contributes even now to America’s self-understanding. At present, we are more certain that American is, and is best, a pluralistic society, than we are of what particular forms our pluralism should take. Keeping an eye out for social interpretations of Jamesian pluralism, this new philosophical reading casts light on our twenty-first century alternatives by reference to prior American experience and developments. -/- . (shrink)
Dale Tuggy argues that his divine-deception argument against Social Trinitarianism remains unscathed, in spite of my recent objections. I maintain that his argument is question-begging and exegetically weak, and does not succeed in refuting Social Trinitarianism.
This article builds on the tradition of attitudinal measures of religiosity established by Leslie Francis and colleagues with the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity by introducing a new measure to assess the attitudinal disposition of Pagans. A battery of items was completed by 75 members of a Pagan Summer Camp. These items were reduced to produce a 21-item scale that measured aspects of Paganism concerned with: the God/Goddess, worshipping, prayer, and coven. The scale recorded an alpha coefficient of 0.93. (...) Construct validity of the Williams Scale of Attitude toward Paganism was demonstrated by the clear association with measures of participation in private rituals. (shrink)
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