Should particularists about ethics claim that moral principles are never true? Or should they rather claim that any finite set of principles will not be sufficient to capture ethics? This paper explores and defends the possibility of embracing the second of these claims whilst rejecting the first, a position termed principled particularism. The main argument that particularists present for their position - the argument that holds that any moral conclusion can be superceded by further considerations - is quite compatible with (...) principled particularism; indeed, it is compatible with the idea that every true moral conclusion can be shown to follow deductively from a finite set of premises. Whilst it is true that these premises must contain implicit ceteris paribus clauses, this does not render the arguments trivial. On the contrary, they can do important work in justifying moral conclusions. Finally the approach is briefly applied to the related field of jurisprudence. (shrink)
Empirical findings suggest that temptation causes agents not only to change their desires, but also to revise their beliefs, in ways that are not necessarily irrational. But if this is so, how can it be rational to maintain a resolution to resist? For in maintaining a resolution it appears that one will be acting against what one now believes to be best. This paper proposes a two-tier account according to which it can be rational neither to reconsider the question of (...) what one is going to do nor the question of what it is best to do; hence in the resolute agent the change in belief is not actual but merely potential. Various reasons are given for thinking that the resulting account is preferable to an alternative given by Bratman. (shrink)
Richard Holton provides a unified account of intention, choice, weakness of will, strength of will, temptation, addiction, and freedom of the will. Drawing on recent psychological research, he argues that, rather than being the pinnacle of rationality, the central components of the will are there to compensate for our inability to make or maintain sound judgments. Choice is understood as the capacity to form intentions even in the absence of judgments of what action is best. Weakness of will is (...) understood as the failure to maintain an intention, or more specifically, a resolution, in the face of temptation--where temptation typically involves a shift in judgment as to what is best, or in the case of addiction, a disconnection between what is judged best and what is desired. Strength of will is the corresponding ability to maintain a resolution, an ability that requires the employment of a particular faculty or skill. Finally, the experience of freedom of the will is traced to the experiences of forming intentions, and of maintaining resolutions, both of which require effortful activity from the agent. (shrink)
Can we decide to trust? Sometimes, yes. And when we do, we need not believe that our trust will be vindicated. This paper is motivated by the need to incorporate these facts into an account of trust. Trust involves reliance; and in addition it requires the taking of a reactive attitude to that reliance. I explain how the states involved here differ from belief. And I explore the limits of our ability to trust. I then turn to the idea of (...) trusting what others say. I suggest that we sometimes decide to trust people to be sincere and knowledgeable; and that having taken this attitude towards them, we come to believe what they say. I spell out some consequences that this has for an account of testimony, and for van Fraassen's decision theoretic principle of Reflection. (shrink)
This paper argues that a popular account of intentions can be extended to beliefs. Beliefs are stable all-out states that allow for planning and coordination in a way that is tractable for cognitively limited creatures like human beings. Scepticism is expressed that there is really anything like credences as standardly understood.
Philosophical orthodoxy identifies weakness of will with akrasia: the weak willed person is someone who intentionally acts against their better judgement. It is argued that this is a mistake. Weakness of will consists in a quite different failing, namely an over-ready revision of one's intentions. Building on the work of Bratman, an account of such over-ready revision is given. A number of examples are then adduced showing how weakness of will, so understood, differs from akrasia.
Is a belief that one will succeed necessary for an intention? It is argued that the question has traditionally been badly posed, framed as it is in terms of all-out belief. We need instead to ask about the relation between intention and partial belief. An account of partial belief that is more psychologically realistic than the standard credence account is developed. A notion of partial intention is then developed, standing to all-out intention much as partial belief stands to all-out belief. (...) Various coherence constraints on the notion are explored. It is concluded that the primary relations between intention and belief should be understood as normative and not essential. (shrink)
In this book Professor Holton continues his analysis of how modem science works and what its influences are on our world, with particular emphasis on the role of the thematic elements - those often unconscious presuppositions that guide scientific work to success or failure. The foundation of the book is provided by the author's research on the work of Albert Einstein, which is then contrasted with other styles of research in the advancement of science. The author deals directly with (...) the often unforeseen consequences of the progress of contemporary science, detailing its fruits as well as its burdens. The many questions examined in this work range over a broad spectrum of areas that command the attention of all readers with an interest in understanding the development of modem science. (shrink)
We do not report lies with that-clauses but with about-clauses: he lied about x. It is argued that this is because the content of a lie need not be the content of what is said, and about-clauses give us the requisite flexibility. Building on the work of Stephen Yablo, an attempt is made to give an account of lying about in terms of partial content and topic.
Most recent accounts of will-power have tried to explain it as reducible to the operation of beliefs and desires. In opposition to such accounts, this paper argues for a distinct faculty of will-power. Considerations from philosophy and from social psychology are used in support.
Simon Blackburn has argued that science finds only dispositional properties. If true, this is surprising: we think of the world as containing categorical properties too. But Blackburn thinks that our difficulties go further than this: that the idea of a world containing just dispositional properties is not simply surprising, but incoherent. The problem is made clear, he argues, when we have a counterfactual analysis of dispositions, and then understand counterfactuals in terms of possible worlds.
This essay explores the connection between representation and explanation in the sciences. I suggest that scientific representation schemes be viewed as pragmatic tools for acquiring the sort of articulated awareness that is the hallmark of nontrivial knowledge. Crystal field theory in chemistry illustrates this perspective. Certain representations achieve the status of being paradigmatically explanatory, thereby shaping models of intelligibility. In turn, these explanatory preferences serve largely to define and differentiate disciplinary communities by implicitly endorsing particular epistemic aims and values. In (...) this way, the pragmatic nature of explanatory discourse effectively grants its intellectual utility. (shrink)
Choice is one of the central elements in the experience of free will, but it has not received a good account from either compatibilists or libertarians. This paper develops an account of choice based around three features: (i) choice is an action; (ii) choice is not determined by one's prior beliefs and desires; (iii) once the question of what to do has arisen, choice is typically both necessary and sufficient for moving to action. These features might appear to support a (...) libertarian account, but they do not. Instead it is argued that all three features can be accommodated within a compatibilist account, where choice is needed because of agents' inabilities to arrive at judgements about what is best. Choice differs though from random picking: in choosing, agents frequently (though not always) deploy abilities that enable them to make good choices. In such cases, judgements about what is best will frequently follow the choice. Finally choice is distinguished from agency, and, on the basis of the distinction, the claim that choice is an action is made good. (shrink)
At least since the middle of the twentieth century, philosophers have tended to identify weakness of will with akrasia—i.e. acting, or having a disposition to act, contrary to one‘s judgments about what is best for one to do. However, there has been some recent debate about whether this captures the ordinary notion of weakness of will. Richard Holton (1999, 2009) claims that it doesn’t, while Alfred Mele (2010) argues that, to a certain extent, it does. As Mele recognizes, the (...) question about an ordinary concept here is one apt for empirical investigation. We evaluate Mele’s studies and report some experiments of our own in order to investigate what in the world the ordinary concept of weakness of will is. We conclude that neither Mele nor Holton (previously) was quite right and offer a tentative proposal of our own: the ordinary notion is more like a prototype or cluster concept whose application is affected by a variety of factors. (shrink)
Most contemporary chemists consider quantum mechanics to be the foundational theory of their discipline, although few of the calculations that a strict reduction would seem to require have ever been produced. In this essay I discuss contemporary algebraic and diagrammatic representations of molecular systems derived from quantum mechanical models, specifically configuration interaction wavefunctions for ab initio calculations and molecular orbital energy diagrams. My aim is to suggest that recent dissatisfaction with reductive accounts of chemical theory may stem from both the (...) inability of standard accounts of reduction to incorporate the diverse forms of representation found in chemical practice and our philosophical predilection to analyze all connections between theories in terms of logical reduction. (shrink)
We aim to find a middle path between disease models of addiction, and those that treat addictive choices as choices like any other. We develop an account of the disease element by focussing on the idea that dopamine works primarily to lay down dispositional intrinsic desires. Addictive substances artifically boost the dopamine signal, and thereby lay down intrinsic desires for the substances that persist through withdrawal, and in the face of beliefs that they are worthless. The result is cravings that (...) are largely outside the control of the addict. But this does not mean that addicts are bound to act on such cravings, since they typically retain their faculty of self-control. The issue is one of difficulty not impossibility. Controlling an addictive craving is exceedingly demanding. (shrink)
The orthodox answer to my question is this: in a case of self-deception, the self acts to deceive itself. That is, the self is the author of its own deception. I want to explore an opposing idea here: that the self is rather the subject matter of the deception. That is, I want to explore the idea that self-deception is more concerned with the self’s deception about the self, than with the self’s deception by the self. The expression would thus (...) be semantically comparable to expressions like ‘self-knowledge’ (which involves knowledge about the self) rather than to expressions like ‘self-control’ (which involves control by the self).1 On this approach, what goes wrong, when we are self-deceived, is that we lack self-knowledge; or, more accurately, since one can lack knowledge without falling into error, what goes wrong is that we have false beliefs about ourselves. Not any kind of false belief about oneself; I am not self-deceived when I mistake my shoe size. Rather, self-deception requires false beliefs about the kind of subject matter that, were one to get it right, would constitute self-knowledge. It is an interesting fact about current English that, though we talk freely of self-knowledge, we have no common term to designate its absence. Seventeenth century writers talked of self-ignorance; but the term has fallen from use. I suggest that ‘self-deception’ is the nearest we have. (shrink)
Frege begins his discussion of factives in ‘On Sense and Reference’ with an example of a purported contrafactive, that is, a verb that entails, or presupposes, the falsity of the complement sentence. But the verb he cites, ‘wähnen’, is now obsolete, and native speakers are sceptical about whether it really was a contrafactive. Despite the profusion of factive verbs, there are no clear examples of contrafactive propositional attitude verbs in English, French or German. This paper attempts to give an explanation (...) of this, and to use this to shed light on the behaviour of factives more generally. The suggestion is that factive propositional attitude verbs take facts, not propositions, as the referents of their complement sentences; and that as there are no contra-facts, there can be no contra-factives. This claim is also used to help explain Timothy Williamson's observation that there is no stative propositional attitude factive that requires only belief. Various conclusions are drawn within a broadly ‘knowledge first’ approach. (shrink)
In a recent paper Savas Tsohatzidis has provided a number of putative counterexamples to the well-attested Kartunnen-Vendler (K-V) thesis that the use of 'tell' with a wh-complement requires that the speaker spoke truthfully. His counterexamples are sentences like: (1) Old John told us who he saw in the fog, but it turned out that he was mistaken. I argue that such examples do not serve to refute the K-V thesis. Rather, they are examples of a more general phenomenon that I (...) label participant projection, which is manifested in sentences like: (2) He gave her a ring studded with diamonds, but they turned out to be glass. Just as the acceptability of (2) does not show that some diamonds are glass, so the acceptability of (1) does not disprove the K-V thesis. (shrink)
In responding to the challenge that we cannot know that animals feel pain, Peter Singer says: We can never directly experience the pain of another being, whether that being is human or not. When I see my daughter fall and scrape her knee, I know that she feels pain because of the way she behaves—she cries, she tells me her knee hurts, she rubs the sore spot, and so on. I know that I myself behave in a somewhat similar—if more (...) inhibited—way when I feel pain, and so I accept that my daughter feels something like what I feel when I scrape my knee. The basis of my belief that animals can feel pain is similar...1 . Singer here suggests that the epistemological problem facing animal ethics is really the more general problem of other minds: the Cartesian problem of how to escape solipsism, how to cross the bridge from my own thoughts and feelings to the thoughts and feelings of any other being. The suggestion is that no-one can seriously be in the thrall of this sceptical problem. The method for building the bridge to other minds is familiar to us all: we use it every day in our ascriptions of thoughts and feelings to people near and dear, and to those far away. And we use it every day in our ascriptions of thoughts and feelings to animals. (shrink)
Most recent discussion of the provocation defence has focused on the objective test, and little attention has been paid to the subjective test. However, the subjective test provides a substantial constraint: the killing must result from a provocation that undermines the defendant's self-control. The idea of loss of self-control has been developed in both the philosophical and psychological literatures. Understanding the subjective test in the light of the conception developed there makes for a far more coherent interpretation of the provocation (...) defence. It also makes clear just how radical various proposals for reform of the defence would be. (shrink)
The question is asked whether one can consistently both be a minimalist about truth, and hold that some meaningful assertoric sentences fail to be either true or false. It is shown that one can, but the issues are delicate, and the price is high: one must either refrain from saying that the sentences lack truth values, or else one must invoke a novel non-contraposing three-valued conditional. Finally it is shown that this does not help in reconciling minimalism with emotivism, where (...) this latter is understood as involving the view that ethical sentences are neither true nor false. (shrink)
Some recent studies have suggested that belief in determinism tends to undermine moral motivation: subjects who are given determinist texts to read become more likely to cheat or engage in vindictive behaviour. One possible explanation is that people are natural incompatibilists, so that convincing them of determinism undermines their belief that they are morally responsible. I suggest a different explanation, and in doing so try to shed some light on the phenomenology of free will. I contend that one aspect of (...) the phenomenology is our impression that maintaining a resolution requires effort—an impression well supported by a range of psychological data. Determinism can easily be interpreted as showing that such effort will be futile: in effect determinism is conflated with fatalism, in a way that is reminiscent of the Lazy argument used against the Stoics. If this interpretation is right, it explains how belief in determinism undermines moral motivation without needing to attribute sophisticated incompatibilist beliefs to subjects; it works by undermining subjects' self-efficacy. It also provides indirect support for the contention that this is one of the sources of the phenomenology of free will. (shrink)
There are two parts to Lewis's account of the de se. First there is the idea that the objects of de se thought (and, by extension of de dicto thought too) are properties, not propositions. This is the idea that is center-stage in Lewis's discussion. Second there is the idea that the relation that thinkers bear to these properties is that of self-ascription. It is crucial to LewisÕs account that this is understood as a fundamental, unanalyzable, notion: self-ascription of a (...) property is not ascription of a property to the self, on a par with ascription to someone else. This has been overlooked in much recent discussion, especially when Lewis's account is understood in terms of centered worlds. When it is back in focus it brings problems. An almost Cartesian starting point is required; and first-person plural ascriptions, and those with first person pronouns other than in subject position, become unmanageably complex. (shrink)
Conceptualizing cosmopolitanism : a reappraisal -- A historical sociology of cosmopolitanism -- Cosmopolitanism and social theory -- Cosmopolitanism : social and cultural research -- Cosmopolitanism : legal and political research -- Cosmopolitanism in Ireland.
This paper examines the responses to advanced and transformative technologies in military literature, attenuates the conclusions of earlier work suggesting that there is an “ignorance of transhumanism” in the military, and updates the current layout of transhuman concerns in military thought. The military is not ignorant of transhuman issues and implications, though there was evidence for this in the past; militaries and non-state actors increasingly use disruptive technologies with what we may call transhuman provenance.
In 'General Propositions and Causality' Ramsey rejects his earlier view that universal generalizations are infinite conjunctions, arguing that they are not genuine propositions at all. We argue that his new position is unstable. The issues about infinity that lead Ramsey to the new view are essentially those underlying Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations. If they show that generalizations are not genuine propositions, they show that there are no genuine propositions. The connection raises interesting historical questions about the direction of influence between Ramsey (...) and Wittgenstein, the origin of the rule-following argument, and the influence of writers such as Brouwer. (shrink)
The physicist–philosopher Philipp Frank’s work and influence, especially during his last three decades, when he found a refuge and a position in America, deserve more discussion than has been the case so far. In what follows, I hope I may call him Philipp – having been first a graduate student in one of his courses at Harvard University, then his teaching assistant sharing his offices, then for many years his colleague and friend in the same Physics Department, and finally, doing (...) research on his archival holdings kept at Harvard. I also should not hide my large personal debt to him, for without his recommendation in the 1950s to the Albert Einstein Estate, I would not have received its warm welcome and its permission, as the first one to do historical research in the treasure trove of unpublished letters and manuscripts, thus starting me on a major part of my career in the history of science. (shrink)
Since the 1960s. thematic analysis has been introduced as a new tool for understanding the success or the failure of individual scientific research projects, particularly in their early stages. Specific examples are given, as well as indications of the prevalence of themata in areas beyond the natural sciences.
Lewis never saw philosophy of language as foundational in the way that many have. One of the most distinctive features of his work is the robust confidence that questions in metaphysics or mind can be addressed head on, and not through the lens of language.
When faced with a rule that they take to be true, and a recalcitrant example, people are apt to say: “The exception proves the rule”. When pressed on what they mean by this though, things are often less than clear. A common response is to dredge up some once-heard etymology: ‘proves’ here, it is often said, means ‘tests’. But this response—its frequent appearance even in some reference works notwithstanding1—makes no sense of the way in which the expression is used. To (...) insist that the exception proves the rule is to insist that whilst this is an exception, the rule still stands; and furthermore, that, rather than undermining the rule, the exception serves to confirm it. This second claim may seem paradoxical, but it should not, once it is realized that what does the confirming is not the exception itself, but rather the fact that we judge it to be an exception; and that what is confirmed is not the rule itself, but rather the fact that we judge it to be a rule. To treat something as an exception is not to treat it as a counterexample that refutes the existence of the rule. Rather it is to treat it as special, and so to concede the rule from which it is excepted. The point comes clearly in the original (probably 17th Century) Latin form: Exceptio probat (figit2) regulam in casibus non exceptis. Exception (i.e. the act of excepting) proves (establishes) the rule in the cases not excepted. Clearly this form of reasoning cannot apply when the rule that we are considering has the form of a simple universal generalization. Here there can be no exceptions, only counterexamples. So what we need, and what will be developed.. (shrink)
This essay addresses issues concerningexplanation by exploring how explanatorystructures function within contemporarychemistry. Three examples are discussed:explanations of the behavior of gases using theideal gas law, explanations of trends inchemical properties using the periodic table,and explanations of molecular geometry usingdiagrammatic orbital schemes. In each case,the general explanatory structure, rather thanparticular explanations, occupies center stagein the analysis. It is argued that thisquasi-empirical investigation may be morefruitful than previous analyses that attempt toisolate the essential features of individualexplanations. There are two reasons for thisconclusion, (...) each discussed in some detail. First, the traditional analyses rely on highlyprecarious reasoning. Second, empiricallygrounded investigations provide a more naturalconnection to the core aim of analyses ofexplanation, namely to provide a rationale forthe widely expressed preference for explanatorytheories in science. (shrink)