The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the eminent scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition with a substantial introduction by Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross. Ross's book is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and Stratton-Lake provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's great (...) work today. (shrink)
This paper compares two alternative explanations of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge (i.e., the claim that whether an agent knows that p can depend on pragmatic factors). After reviewing the evidence for such pragmatic encroachment, we ask how it is best explained, assuming it obtains. Several authors have recently argued that the best explanation is provided by a particular account of belief, which we call pragmatic credal reductivism. On this view, what it is for an agent to believe a proposition is (...) for her credence in this proposition to be above a certain threshold, a threshold that varies depending on pragmatic factors. We show that while this account of belief can provide an elegant explanation of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge, it is not alone in doing so, for an alternative account of belief, which we call the reasoning disposition account, can do so as well. And the latter account, we argue, is far more plausible than pragmatic credal reductivism, since it accords far better with a number of claims about belief that are very hard to deny. (shrink)
This book argues that the only kind of metaphysics that can contribute to objective knowledge is one based specifically on contemporary science as it really is, and not on philosophers' a priori intuitions, common sense, or simplifications of science. In addition to showing how recent metaphysics has drifted away from connection with all other serious scholarly inquiry as a result of not heeding this restriction, this book demonstrates how to build a metaphysics compatible with current fundamental physics, which, when combined (...) with metaphysics of the special sciences, can be used to unify physics with the other sciences without reducing these sciences to physics itself. Taking science metaphysically seriously, this book argues, means that metaphysicians must abandon the picture of the world as composed of self-subsistent individual objects, and the paradigm of causation as the collision of such objects. The text assesses the role of information theory and complex systems theory in attempts to explain the relationship between the special sciences and physics, treading a middle road between the grand synthesis of thermodynamics and information, and eliminativism about information. The consequences of the books' metaphysical theory for central issues in the philosophy of science are explored, including the implications for the realism versus empiricism debate, the role of causation in scientific explanations, the nature of causation and laws, the status of abstract and virtual objects, and the objective reality of natural kinds. (shrink)
Recently, the practice of deciding legal cases on purely statistical evidence has been widely criticised. Many feel uncomfortable with finding someone guilty on the basis of bare probabilities, even though the chance of error might be stupendously small. This is an important issue: with the rise of DNA profiling, courts are increasingly faced with purely statistical evidence. A prominent line of argument—endorsed by Blome-Tillmann 2017; Smith 2018; and Littlejohn 2018—rejects the use of such evidence by appealing to epistemic norms that (...) apply to individual inquirers. My aim in this paper is to rehabilitate purely statistical evidence by arguing that, given the broader aims of legal systems, there are scenarios in which relying on such evidence is appropriate. Along the way I explain why popular arguments appealing to individual epistemic norms to reject legal reliance on bare statistics are unconvincing, by showing that courts and individuals face different epistemic predicaments (in short, individuals can hedge when confronted with statistical evidence, whilst legal tribunals cannot). I also correct some misconceptions about legal practice that have found their way into the recent literature. (shrink)
In this paper, we present the results of the construction and validation of a new psychometric tool for measuring beliefs about free will and related concepts: The Free Will Inventory (FWI). In its final form, FWI is a 29-item instrument with two parts. Part 1 consists of three 5-item subscales designed to measure strength of belief in free will, determinism, and dualism. Part 2 consists of a series of fourteen statements designed to further explore the complex network of people’s associated (...) beliefs and attitudes about free will, determinism, choice, the soul, predictability, responsibility, and punishment. Having presented the construction and validation of FWI, we discuss several ways that it could be used in future research, highlight some as yet unanswered questions that are ripe for interdisciplinary investigation, and encourage researchers to join us in our efforts to answer these questions. (shrink)
In this study, Don Ross explores the relationship of economics to other branches of behavioral science, asking, in the course of his analysis, under what interpretation economics is a sound empirical science. The book explores the relationships between economic theory and the theoretical foundations of related disciplines that are relevant to the day-to-day work of economics -- the cognitive and behavioral sciences. It asks whether the increasingly sophisticated techniques of microeconomic analysis have revealed any deep empirical regularities -- whether technical (...) improvement represents improvement in any other sense. Casting Daniel Dennett and Kenneth Binmore as its intellectual heroes, the book proposes a comprehensive model of economic theory that, Ross argues, does not supplant, but recovers the core neoclassical insights, and counters the caricaturish conception of neoclassicism so derided by advocates of behavioral or evolutionary economics. Because he approaches his topic from the viewpoint of the philosophy of science, Ross devotes one chapter to the philosophical theory and terminology on which his argument depends and another to related philosophical issues. Two chapters provide the theoretical background in economics, one covering developments in neoclassical microeconomics and the other treating behavioral and experimental economics and evolutionary game theory. The three chapters at the heart of the argument then apply theses from the philosophy of cognitive science to foundational problems for economic theory. In these chapters, economists will find a genuinely new way of thinking about the implications of cognitive science for economics, and cognitive scientists will find in economic behavior, a new testing site for the explanations of cognitive science. (shrink)
Recent experimental studies indicate that epistemically irrelevant factors can skew our intuitions, and that some degree of scepticism about appealing to intuition in philosophy is warranted. In response, some have claimed that philosophers are experts in such a way as to vindicate their reliance on intuitions—this has become known as the ‘expertise defence’. This paper explores the viability of the expertise defence, and suggests that it can be partially vindicated. Arguing that extant discussion is problematically imprecise, we will finesse the (...) notion of ‘philosophical expertise’ in order to better reflect the complex reality of the different practices involved in philosophical inquiry. On this basis, we offer a new version of the expertise defence that allows for distinct types of philosophical expertise. The upshot of our approach is that wholesale vindications or rejections of the expertise defence are shown to be unwarranted; we must instead turn to local, piecemeal investigations of philosophical expertise. Lastly, in the spirit of taking our own advice, we exemplify how recent developments from experimental philosophy lend themselves to this approach, and can empirically support one instance of a successful expertise defence. (shrink)
The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the great scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition with a substantial introduction by Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross. Ross's book is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and Stratton-Lake provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's great (...) work today. (shrink)
It is argued that reliance on the testimony of others cannot be viewed as reliance on a kind of evidence. Speech being essentially voluntary, the speaker cannot see his own choice of words as evidence of their truth, and so cannot honestly offer them to others as such. Rather, in taking responsibility for the truth of what he says, the speaker offers a guarantee or assurance of its truth, and in believing him the hearer accepts this assurance. I argue that, (...) contrary to appearances, this account is compatible with the hearer acquiring knowledge, and in fact throws interesting light on the idea of knowledge. -/- . (shrink)
In the last two decades few topics in philosophy of science have received as much attention as mechanistic explanation. A significant motivation for these accounts is that scientists frequently use the term “mechanism” in their explanations of biological phenomena. While scientists appeal to a variety of causal concepts in their explanations, many philosophers argue or assume that all of these concepts are well understood with the single notion of mechanism. This reveals a significant problem with mainstream mechanistic accounts– although philosophers (...) use the term “mechanism” interchangeably with other causal concepts, this is not something that scientists always do. This paper analyses two causal concepts in biology–the notions of “mechanism” and “pathway”–and how they figure in biological explanation. I argue that these concepts have unique features, that they are associated with distinct strategies of causal investigation, and that they figure in importantly different types of explanation. (shrink)
Human cooperation is highly unusual. We live in large groups composed mostly of non-relatives. Evolutionists have proposed a number of explanations for this pattern, including cultural group selection and extensions of more general processes such as reciprocity, kin selection, and multi-level selection acting on genes. Evolutionary processes are consilient; they affect several different empirical domains, such as patterns of behavior and the proximal drivers of that behavior. In this target article, we sketch the evidence from five domains that bear on (...) the explanatory adequacy of cultural group selection and competing hypotheses to explain human cooperation. Does cultural transmission constitute an inheritance system that can evolve in a Darwinian fashion? Are the norms that underpin institutions among the cultural traits so transmitted? Do we observe sufficient variation at the level of groups of considerable size for group selection to be a plausible process? Do human groups compete, and do success and failure in competition depend upon cultural variation? Do we observe adaptations for cooperation in humans that most plausibly arose by cultural group selection? If the answer to one of these questions is “no,” then we must look to other hypotheses. We present evidence, including quantitative evidence, that the answer to all of the questions is “yes” and argue that we must take the cultural group selection hypothesis seriously. If culturally transmitted systems of rules that limit individual deviance organize cooperation in human societies, then it is not clear that any extant alternative to cultural group selection can be a complete explanation. (shrink)
Despite playing an important role in epistemology, philosophy of science, and more recently in moral philosophy and aesthetics, the nature of understanding is still much contested. One attractive framework attempts to reduce understanding to other familiar epistemic states. This paper explores and develops a methodology for testing such reductionist theories before offering a counterexample to a recently defended variant on which understanding reduces to what an agent knows.
Kaplan and Craver claim that all explanations in neuroscience appeal to mechanisms. They extend this view to the use of mathematical models in neuroscience and propose a constraint such models must meet in order to be explanatory. I analyze a mathematical model used to provide explanations in dynamical systems neuroscience and indicate how this explanation cannot be accommodated by the mechanist framework. I argue that this explanation is well characterized by Batterman’s account of minimal model explanations and that it demonstrates (...) how relationships between explanatory models in neuroscience and the systems they represent is more complex than has been appreciated. (shrink)
Oxford Scholarly Classics brings together a number of great academic works from the archives of Oxford University Press. Reissued in a uniform series design, they will enable libraries, scholars, and students to gain fresh access to some of the finest scholarship of the last century.
Ross, Alf Loar, Brian, Editor.Directives and Norms. New York: Humanities Press, . ix, 188 pp. Reprint available April 2009 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN-13: 978-1-58477-961-2. ISBN-10: 1-58477-961-6. Cloth with dust jacket. $65.00 * Reprint of the first American edition. One of the most interesting jurists of the post-World War II era, Ross [1899-1979] was a legal and moral philosopher, scholar of international law and the leading representative of Scandinavian Legal Realism. This book and On Law and Justice (1958) are (...) his principal works. In Directives and Norms Ross asks whether imperatives (or, to use his term, 'directives') are subject to logic in the same way as indicatives. He shows the difference between indicative and directive discourse and explains the concepts 'directive' and 'norm' as they function in the social sciences, especially in the study of law. A contemporary essay in the Modern Law Review (32:544), though critical of this work, was still impressed by its "clear and convincing account" of these processes. (shrink)
One of the perennial challenges of ethical theory has been to provide an answer to a number of views that appear to undermine the importance of ethical questions. We may refer to such views collectively as “deflationary ethical theories.” These include theories, such as nihilism, according to which no action is better than any other, as well as relativistic theories according to which no ethical theory is better than any other. In this article I present a new response to such (...) deflationary ethical views. Drawing a distinction between acceptance and rejection, on the one hand, and belief and disbelief, on the other, I argue that we have strong reason to reject these theories, even if we do not have reason to disbelieve them. In Section I, I clarify the question of what ethical theory we should accept, and I argue for the central importance of this question. In Section II, I discuss what I call “absolutely deflationary” ethical theories. These are theories according to which it matters not at all what we do or not at all what ethical theory we accept. I argue that it is generally rational to reject any theory of this kind. In Section III, I discuss what I call “relatively deflationary” ethical theories. These are theories according to which it matters little what we do or what ethical theory we accept. I argue that we have strong pro tanto reason to reject theories of this kind. And then, in Sections IV and V, I reply to some common objections to my arguments. Throughout, I will be arguing not that deflationary ethical theories are false but only that we should reject them from the practical point of view as a basis for guiding our actions. (shrink)
The existing literature treats of several investigations with a certain bearing on the question which is roughly indicated by the title “Imperatives and Logic.” Some of those investigations, however, are entirely outside the scope of the present work.Mally sets himself the task of developing a “Logik des Willens” constituting a parallel to the usual logic, the “Logik des Denkens". In order to emphasize its independence, the author also calls this “Logik des Willens” “Deontik”, and he conceives it as being based (...) on the “Wesensgesetze” of will in the same way as the usual logic is conceived as being based on the “Wesensgesetze” of thought. The author develops a formalistic deductive system on the basis of 5 axioms of demands, including the axiom that there is at least one fact which is unconditionally demanded, and through a lengthy series of theorems he arrives at the sentence that what is unconditionally demanded is identical with what is actually the case: “was sein soll, ist Tatsache”. Similarly, the author develops a system of axioms for “right” volition, including the axiom that right volition is non-contradictory. (shrink)
ABSTRACTA thriving project in contemporary epistemology concerns identifying and explicating the epistemic virtues. Although there is little sustained argument for this claim, a number of prominent sources suggest that curiosity is an epistemic virtue. In this paper, I provide an account of the virtue of curiosity. After arguing that virtuous curiosity must be appropriately discerning, timely and exacting, I then situate my account in relation to two broader questions for virtue responsibilists: What sort of motivations are required for epistemic virtue? (...) And do epistemic virtues need to be reliable? I will sketch an account on which curiosity is only virtuous when rooted in a non-instrumental appreciation of epistemic goods, before arguing that curiosity can exhibit intellectual virtue irrespective of whether one is reliable in satisfying it. (shrink)
Recent years have seen fresh impetus brought to debates about the proper role of statistical evidence in the law. Recent work largely centres on a set of puzzles known as the ‘proof paradox’. While these puzzles may initially seem academic, they have important ramifications for the law: raising key conceptual questions about legal proof, and practical questions about DNA evidence. This article introduces the proof paradox, why we should care about it, and new work attempting to resolve it.
This richly annotated, scrupulously accurate, and consistent translation of Aristotle's _De Anima_ fits seamlessly with other volumes in the series. Sequentially numbered endnotes provide the information most needed at each juncture, while a detailed Index of Terms indicates places where focused discussion of key notions occurs. An illuminating general Introduction describes the book that lies ahead, explaining what sort of work it is and what sorts of evidence it relies on.
How is what an agent ought to do related to what an agent ought to prefer that she does? More precisely, suppose we know what an agent’s preference ordering ought to be over the prospects of performing the various courses of action open to her. Can we infer from this information how she ought to act, and if so, how can we infer it? One view (which, for convenience, I will call ‘actualism’) is that an agent ought to just (...) in case she ought to prefer the prospect of her -ing to the prospect of her not -ing. Another view (which, for convenience, I will call ‘possibilism’) is that an agent ought to just in case she ought to prefer the prospect of some maximally specific option that involves her -ing to the prospect of any maximally specific option that does not involve her -ing (with the quantifiers appropriately restricted). After making some preliminary clarifications in part 1, I will discuss actualism and possibilism in parts 2 and 3, respectively. I will argue, in part 2, that actualism is very far from the truth. And I will argue, in part 3, that while the standard version of possibilism faces significant problems, there are much better versions of possibilism that avoid the objections to the standard view. Ultimately, however, I will argue that even the best forms of possibilism are not acceptable. Then, in part 4, I will propose what I take to be the best view, one that is neither strictly possibilist nor actualist, and that avoids the shortcomings of both these views. (shrink)
Recent work takes both philosophical and scientific progress to consist in acquiring factive epistemic states such as knowledge. However, much of this work leaves unclear what entity is the subject of these epistemic states. Furthermore, by focusing only on states like knowledge, we overlook progress in intermediate cases between ignorance and knowledge—for example, many now celebrated theories were initially so controversial that they were not known. -/- This paper develops an improved framework for thinking about intellectual progress. Firstly, I argue (...) that we should think of progress relative to the epistemic position of an intellectual community rather than individual inquirers. Secondly, I show how focusing on the extended process of inquiry (rather than the mere presence or absence of states like knowledge) provides a better evaluation of different types of progress. This includes progress through formulating worthwhile questions, acquiring new evidence, and increasing credence on the right answers to these questions. I close by considering the ramifications for philosophical progress, suggesting that my account supports rejecting the most negative views while allowing us to articulate different varieties of optimism and pessimism. (shrink)