[Robert Stalnaker] Saul Kripke made a convincing case that there are necessary truths that are knowable only a posteriori as well as contingent truths that are knowable a priori. A number of philosophers have used a two-dimensional model semantic apparatus to represent and clarify the phenomena that Kripke pointed to. According to this analysis, statements have truth-conditions in two different ways depending on whether one considers a possible world 'as actual' or 'as counterfactual' in determining the truth-value of the (...) statement relative to that possible world. There are no necessary a posteriori or contingent a priori propositions: rather, contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori statements are statements that are necessary when evaluated one way, and contingent when evaluated the other way. This paper distinguishes two ways that the two-dimensional framework can be interpreted, and argues that one of them gives the better account of what it means to 'consider a world as actual', but that it provides no support for any notion of purely conceptual a priori truth. /// [Thomas Baldwin] Two-dimensional possible world semantic theory suggests that Kripke's examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori should be handled by interpreting names as implicitly indexical. Like Stalnaker, I reject this account of names and accept that Kripke's examples have to be accommodated within a metasemantic theory. But whereas Stalnaker maintains that a metasemantic approach undermines the conception of a priori truth, I argue that it offers the opportunity to develop a conception of the a priori aspect of stipulations, conceived as linguistic performances. The resulting position accommodates Kripke's examples in a way which is both intrinsically plausible and fits with Kripke's actual discussion of them. (shrink)
"The availability of a paperback version of Boyle's philosophical writings selected by M. A. Stewart will be a real service to teachers, students, and scholars with seventeenth-century interests. The editor has shown excellent judgment in bringing together many of the most important works and printing them, for the most part, in unabridged form. The texts have been edited responsibly with emphasis on readability.... Of special interest in connection with Locke and with the reception of Descarte's Corpuscularianism, to students of the (...) Scientific Revolution and of the history of mechanical philosophy, and to those interested in the relations among science, philosophy, and religion. In fact, given the imperfections in and unavailability of the eighteenth-century editions of Boyle’s works, this collection will benefit a wide variety of seventeenth-century scholars." --Gary Hatfield, University of Pennsylvania. (shrink)
What does Artificial Intelligence (AI) have to contribute to health care? And what should we be looking out for if we are worried about its risks? In this paper we offer a survey, and initial evaluation, of hopes and fears about the applications of artificial intelligence in medicine. AI clearly has enormous potential as a research tool, in genomics and public health especially, as well as a diagnostic aid. It’s also highly likely to impact on the organisational and business practices (...) of healthcare systems in ways that are perhaps under-appreciated. Enthusiasts for AI have held out the prospect that it will free physicians up to spend more time attending to what really matters to them and their patients. We will argue that this claim depends upon implausible assumptions about the institutional and economic imperatives operating in contemporary healthcare settings. We will also highlight important concerns about privacy, surveillance, and bias in big data, as well as the risks of over trust in machines, the challenges of transparency, the deskilling of healthcare practitioners, the way AI reframes healthcare, and the implications of AI for the distribution of power in healthcare institutions. We will suggest that two questions, in particular, are deserving of further attention from philosophers and bioethicists. What does care look like when one is dealing with data as much as people? And, what weight should we give to the advice of machines in our own deliberations about medical decisions? (shrink)
Hegel’s True Infinite is “well known” but there is little consensus concerning its meaning. The true infinite is introduced in Hegel’s deconstruction of traditional conceptions of quality, determinacy and reality as wholly positive and from which negation, limitation and determinacy are excluded. Everything is other than and unrelated to everything else. These assumptions yield the stubborn category of finitude as an absolute limit, and of God as abstract unknowable Beyond. But Hegel claims that every attempt to separate the infinite from (...) the finite makes the infinite itself finite—the spurious infinite, the “ought.” The true infinite is the negation/correction of the spurious infinite; it reinstates the relations suppressed by the understanding. The true infinite is an ontotheological conception of a social infinite: it is both absolute—in and for itself—and related—being for an other—to wit, an articulated, inclusive whole. It is not an acosmic pantheism like Spinoza’s that defrauds difference and finitude of their due. The true infinite presupposes as its corollary the idealit y of the finite. The latter articulates the ontological status of the finite as sublated in the true infinite, i.e. as a member both distinct from and related to the true infinite. The true infinite is the whole present in its members. The true infinite is neither traditional theism, nor atheism nor pantheism, nor a projection of finitude. It is best understood as panentheism. (shrink)
In this interview, Lani Roberts provides a philosophical justification for the study of diversity issues and highlights the pedagogical methods needed to prepare students to live and thrive in a diverse society. This article is a partial transcript of a recorded interview.
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.<sup>1</sup> That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product (...) of decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
Since the publication of Edmund Gettier's challenge to the traditional epistemological doctrine of knowledge as justified true belief, Roberts and Wood claim that epistemologists lapsed into despondency and are currently open to novel approaches. One such approach is virtue epistemology, which can be divided into virtues as proper functions or epistemic character traits. The authors propose a notion of regulative epistemology, as opposed to a strict analytic epistemology, based on intellectual virtues that function not as rules or even as skills (...) but as habits of the heart. To that end, they divide the task of clarifying and expounding their notion in the book's two parts.In the first part, Roberts and Wood examine various components that constitute their notion of regulative epistemology. The first are the epistemic goods or goals that drive the epistemic process. What is needed, claim Roberts and Wood, is an enriched notion of these goods rather than the restricted notion of justified true belief. Epistemic agents are more than calculating devices in that …. (shrink)
Robert Brandom's latest book, the product of his John Locke lectures in Oxford in 2006, is a return to the philosophy of language and is easily read as a continuation and development of the views defended in Making it Explicit. The text of the lectures is presented much as they were delivered, but it contains an ‘Afterword’ of more than 30 pages which responds to questions raised when he gave the lectures, and also when they were subsequently delivered in (...) Prague the following year. The published text also contains relatively technical appendices to two of the lectures.The individual lectures engage with some important and difficult issues, often ones that were explored in detail in the earlier book. However, these discussions are located within a broader meta-philosophical context, and it says something about the abstract and difficult character of these views that they provide the main subject matter of the Afterword. This framework affects how we should understand the relations between this book and Making It Explicit too. Although most of the detailed discussions happily belong within the general project of the earlier book, they are offered as illustrations of a framework that is independent of this project. Indeed, Brandom suggests that defenders of the semantic views of David Lewis, for example, could embrace his main message as well as those who favour Brandom's own form of pragmatism.Neo-pragmatist philosophers such as Brandom's teacher, Richard Rorty, often present themselves as rejecting the analytic tradition in philosophy. When Brandom describes the ‘pragmatist challenge’ to the ‘classical project of analysis’, he appeals to the criticisms found in the work of Wittgenstein and Sellars that are often appealed to by the critics of the analytic tradition. The message of the new book is that the views he has built on this …. (shrink)
The traditional problem of evil is set forth, by no means for the first time, in Part X of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion in these familiar words: ‘Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?’ This formulation of the problem of evil obviously suggests an argument to the effect that the existence of evil in (...) the world demonstrates that God does not exist. The purpose of this paper is to examine this argument, with a view to showing that while it is not a conclusive argument, it is much stronger than some apologists for traditional theism allow. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons. That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop values and beliefs besides those that presently make up her motives, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. An agent wills freely, on this view, by beingultimately (...) responsible for how she is currently disposed to act. Kane needs, then, to show how an agent could be responsible for decisions that her deliberations did not guarantee. He must also explain how a decision for which there is no decisive reason could yet be rational, assuming that the responsibility engendering decisions forming the basis of a free will would be rational. I shall argue here that Kane has achieved neither of these goals. (shrink)
When modern economists use the notions of sympathy or empathy, they often claim that their ideas have their roots in Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, while sometimes complaining that Smith fails to distinguish clearly enough between the two concepts. Recently, Philippe Fontaine has described various forms of sympathy and empathy, and has explored their respective roles in Smith's work. My objective in this paper is to argue that Smith's analysis of how people's sentiments impinge on one another involves a (...) concept of fellow-feeling that is distinct from both sympathy and empathy. Unlike sympathy and empathy, fellow-feeling does not fit into the ontological framework of rational choice theory – which may explain why it tends to be overlooked by modern readers of Smith. (shrink)
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
For most of the problems that economists consider, the assumption that agents are self-interested works well enough, generating predictions that are broadly consistent with observation. In some significant cases, however, we find economic behavior that seems to be inconsistent with self-interest. In particular, we find that some public goods and some charitable ventures are financed by the independent voluntary contributions of many thousands of individuals. In Britain, for example, the lifeboat service is entirely financed by voluntary contributions. In all rich (...) countries, charitable appeals raise large amounts of money for famine relief in the Third World. The willingness of individuals to contribute to such projects is an economic fact that requires an explanation. (shrink)
This volume is a continuation of Robert Greystones on the Freedom of the Will: Selections from His Commentary on the Sentences. From this, five of the most relevant questions were selected for editing and translation in this timely volume. This edition should prompt not just a footnote to, but a re-writing of the history of philosophy.
The deflationary aim of this book, which occupies Part I, is to show that a widely held view has little to be said for it. The constructive aim, pursued in Part II, is to make plausible a measure-theoretic account of propositional attitudes. The discussion is throughout instructive, illuminating and sensitive to the many intricacies surrounding attitude ascriptions and how they can carry information about a subject's psychology. There is close engagement with cognitive science. The book should be read by anyone (...) seriously engaged with issues about propositional attitudes.According to the widely held view, which Matthews calls the Received View, the attitude of Φing that p is a matter of standing in a computational/functional relation to an explicit Representation that expresses the proposition that p, and thinking is ‘an inferential computational process defined over one or more of these Representations that eventuates in the production of either another Representation or a behavior’. The representations are understood to be sentences in a language of thought and thus to have a compositional syntax and semantics. The theory that Matthews aims to make plausible has it that ascriptions of propositional attitudes in the form ‘X Φs that p’, ascribe a state to a person by relating that person to an abstract object that is the representative of the state in roughly the way that numbers on a scale are the measure-theoretic representations of certain physical magnitudes. We are to think of the role of ‘Jones believes that interest rates will fall’ by analogy with that of ‘Jones weighs 150lbs’. The latter depends on there being arithmetical relations defined over numbers that enable its particular assignment of a number to Jones's weight to represent physical properties that Jones has in virtue …. (shrink)