I argue that there is nothing about truth as such that prevents contradictions from being true. I argue this by considering the main standard accounts of truth, and showing that they are quite compatible with the existence of true contradictions. Indeed, in many cases, they are actually friendly to the idea.
It is often supposed that Confucianism is opposed to the idea of equality insofar as the key ideals to which it is committed, such as meritocracy and li , are incompatible with equality. Sympathetic commentators typically defend Confucianism by saying that (a) the Confucian person is not a free-standing individual but a social being embedded in a social structure with different and unequal roles, and (b) social inequality has to be traded in for other values. This paper argues that (...) in advocating meritocracy, Confucianism does not abandon the idea of equality. Indeed, invoking Aristotle's account of equality in the Nicomachean Ethics , it can be argued that the unequal distribution of rights and benefits reflects one aspect of equality, namely the vertical aspect, or the unequal treatment of unequals. (shrink)
Some forms of envy and resentment are centrally connected with a concern for justice and so should not be morally condemned but accepted. Envy and resentment enable us to discern and respond to injustices against ourselves and others. I argue that whereas envy and resentment as character traits or dispositions may be ethically deplorable, as episodic emotions they can be both moral responses to injustice and lead to action against injustice.
In this paper I show how the conserved quantity theory, or more generally the process theory of Wesley Salmon and myself, provides a sufficient condition in an analysis of causation. To do so I will show how it handles the problem of alleged 'misconnections'. I show what the conserved quantity theory says about such cases, and why intuitions are not to be taken as sacrosanct.
Epicurus notoriously argued that death at no time is a harm because before death there is no harm and after death there is no victim. The denial that death can be a harm to the one who dies has been challenged by various claims including (1) death is eternally bad for the victim (Feldman), (2) it is before death that it is bad for the victim (Feinberg and Pitcher), (3) death is bad for the victim but at no particular time (...) (Nagel), and (4) it is at the time of death that death is bad for the victim (Lamont). Nagel's account is more plausible and is consistent with the view that the temporal location of the harm of untimely death is best understood as the time when the decedent might otherwise have lived. (edited). (shrink)
Hilary Putnam and Nelson Goodman are two of the twentieth century's most persuasive critics of metaphysical realism, however they disagree about the consequences of rejecting metaphysical realism. Goodman defended a view he called irrealism in which minds literally make worlds, and Putnam has sought to find a middle path between metaphysical realism and irrealism. I argue that Putnam's middle path turns out to be very elusive and defend a dichotomy between metaphysical realism and irrealism.
In this paper I develop a version of universalism that is non-mereological. Broadly speaking, non-mereological universalism is the thesis that for any arbitrary set of objects and times, there is a persisting object which, at each of those times, will be constituted by those of the objects that exist at that time. I consider two general versions of non-mereological universalism, one which takes basic simples to be enduring objects, and the other which takes simples to be instantaneous objects. This (...) yields three versions of endurantism, of which I ultimately defend the version I call universalist endurantism. Universalist endurantism is the thesis that (i) for any arbitrary set S of instantaneous simples that exist at the same instant, there exists a fusion of the members of S, and (ii) for any arbitrary set S* of instantaneous fusions each of which exist at a different instant, there exists an enduring object O that is constituted by those fusions at those instants. Universalist endurantism is ‘non-mereological’ in that the relation that holds between instantaneous fusions and persisting objects is not the part/whole relation, but rather, is the relation of constitution, thus allowing that the persisting objects are three rather than four dimensional. I argue that universalist endurantism not only has the various benefits of mereological universalism in allowing vagueness to be explicated as semantic indeterminacy, but in addition allows the endurantist to hold that some properties are genuinely intrinsic and are exemplified simpliciter. (shrink)
Avicenna (d. 1037) bequeathed the Arabic philosophical tradition with an aporia : self-knowledge is conceived, at times, in terms of intellection, at other times, in terms of apperception. In his Book of Discussions and Book of Notes, Avicenna has lengthy discussions on apperception, defined as a direct ontological mode of knowledge. Heir to this tradition, Shihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī (d. 1191) moved away from the first conception of self-knowledge as intellection to adopt the second conception of an apperception of the (...) self as a direct, intuitive and "presential (hcombining dot belowudcombining dot belowūrī)" perception, and which he defended with four types of arguments. (shrink)
Is love essential to ethical life, or merely a supplement? In Kant's view, respect and love, as duties, are in tension with each other because love involves drawing closer and respect involves drawing away. By contrast, Irigaray says that love and respect do not conflict because love as passion must also involve distancing and we have a responsibility to love. I argue that love, understood as passion and based on respect, is essential to ethics.
Backwards induction is an intriguing form of argument. It is used in a number of different contexts. One of these is the surprise exam paradox. Another is game theory. But its use is problematic, at least sometimes. The purpose of this paper is to determine what, exactly, backwards induction is, and hence to evaluate it. Let us start by rehearsing informally some of its problematic applications.
Suppose that there are good or morally defensible reasons for not responding truthfully to a question or request for information. Is a lie or a deception better as a means to avoid telling the truth? There are many situations in public and private life in which the answer to this question would serve as a useful moral guide, for instance, clinical situations involving dying patients, educational situations involving young children and personal situations involving close friends. Intuitively, we feel that there (...) is a moral asymmetry in favor of deceiving over lying. However, doubts have been cast on such intuition. The aim of this paper is to bolster this intuition. It will be argued that the claim of moral asymmetry in favor of deception can be supported on a consideration of the different degrees of expectation involved in communicative ethics. Two other objections to the claim of asymmetry will also be considered. (shrink)
Two central strands in Arendt's thought are the reflection on the evil of Auschwitz and the rethinking in terms of politics of Heidegger's critique of metaphysics. Given Heidegger's taciturnity regarding Auschwitz and Arendt's own taciturnity regarding the philosophical implications of Heidegger's political engagement in 1933, to set out how these strands interrelate is to examine the coherence of Arendt's thought and its potential for a critique of Heidegger. By refusing to countenance a theological conception of the evil of Auschwitz, Arendt (...) consolidates the break with theology that Heidegger attempts through his analysis of the essential finitude of Dasein. In the light of Arendt's account of evil, it is possible to see the theological vestiges in Heidegger's ontology. Heidegger's resumption of the question concerning the categorical interconnections of the ways of Being entails an abandonment of finitude: he accommodates and tacitly justifies that which can have no human justification. (shrink)
I defend the view that many biological categories are defined by homology against a series of arguments designed to show that all biological categories are defined, at least in part, by selected function. I show that categories of homology are `abnormality inclusive'—something often alleged to be unique to selected function categories. I show that classifications by selected function are logically dependent on classifications by homology, but not vice-versa. Finally, I reject the view that biologists must use considerations of selected function (...) to abstract away from variation and pathology to form a canonical description of a class of biological systems. (shrink)
Several attempts have been made recently to apply Darwinian evolutionary theory to the study of culture change and social history. The essential elements in such a theory are that variations occur in population, and that a process of selective retention operates during their replication and transmission. Location of such variable units in the semantic structure of cognition provides the individual psychological basis for an evolutionary theory of history. Selection operates on both the level of cognition and on its phenotypic expression (...) in action in relation to individual preferred sources of psychological satisfaction. Social power comprises the principal selective forces within the unintended consequences of action and through the struggle of individuals and groups in pursuit of opposing interests. The implication for historiography are methodological in that evolutionary theory of history sharpens the focus of explanatory situational analysis, and interpretive in that it provides a paradigmatic metanarrative for the understanding of historical change. (shrink)
When Brentano introduces the notion of immanent objectivity or the intentional inexistence of objects in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, he cites Scholastic theories of intentionality and suggests that his own view is continuous with medieval and ancient theories of objective being. Very few philosophers of the middle ages used the terminology of esse objectivuum and those that did, such as Peter Aureol, do not appear to be among the primary Scholastic sources for Brentano’s theory of immanence. To a modern (...) ear moreover talk of things existing in the mind objectively is confusing. But the contrast which is important for understanding Brentano’s theory of intentionality is not that between objectivity and subjectivity as commonly understood nowadays, as if having something objectively in mind excluded its being a subjective phenomenon, but something like Descartes’s opposition between that which objectively exists and that which formally exists. Hence for Descartes, whose characterization of immanent objectivity Brentano often cited approvingly in his lectures, any two thoughts, for example, a thought about God and a thought about a horse, will have exactly the same formal reality but may differ enormously in their degree of objective being. (shrink)
Why did Levinas choose Isaiah 45:7 ("I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all that") as a superscription of his essay on evil? This article explores the role of evil in Levinas's religious ethics. The author discusses the structure of evil as revealed phenomenologically and juxtaposes it to the structure of subjectivity found in the writings of Levinas. The idea of the "ethical anthropic principle," modeled upon the cosmic anthropic principle, is then used to link evil to (...) the responsibility of the subject. The link is subsequently extended to God. This is proposed as one way of understanding the meaning of Isaiah 45:7. (shrink)
This paper describes one complete and one ongoing empirical study in which philosophical analyses of the concept of the gene were operationalized and tested against questionnaire data obtained from working biologists to determine whether and when biologists conceive genes in the ways suggested. These studies throw light on how different gene concepts contribute to biological research. Their aim is not to arrive at one or more correct 'definitions' of the gene, but rather to map out the variation in the gene (...) concept and to explore its causes and its effects. (shrink)
Hume’s "Of Miracles" concludes with the claim that prophecies, too, are miracles, and as such are susceptible to the same arguments which apply to miracles. However, both Hume and his commentators have overlooked the distinctive features of prophecy. Hume’s chief objection to miracles--that one is never justified in crediting second-hand testimony to miraculous events--does not necessarily apply to the argument from fulfilled prophecies as it was understood in the eighteenth century. Neither was prophecy necessarily thought to entail any breach of (...) the laws of nature. Consideration of Hume’s argument in its historical context shows that it fails to counter the argument from prophecies and was known to have failed. (shrink)
Although history is the pre-eminent part of the gallant sciences, philosophers advise against it from fear that it might completely destroy the kingdom of darkness—that is, scholastic philosophy—which previously has been wrongly held to be a necessary instrument of theology.
Do you see now why it feels so good to be a critical mind? Why critique, this most ambiguous pharmakon, has become such a potent euphoric drug? You are always right! When naïve believers are clinging forcefully to their objects... you can turn all of those attachments into so many fetishes and humiliate all the believers by showing that it is nothing but their own projection, that you, yes you alone, can see. But as soon as naïve believers are thus (...) inflated by some belief in their own importance, in their own projective capacity, you strike them by a second uppercut and humiliate them again, this time by showing that, whatever they think, their behavior is entirely determined by the action of powerful causalities coming from objective reality they don't see, but that you, yes you, the never sleeping critic, alone can see. Isn't this fabulous? Isn't it really worth going to graduate school to study critique? (shrink)
It is commonly supposed that people of Asia, particularly the ethnic Chinese, subscribe to values which are not conducive to economic progress. The gap between the capitalist West and Asia is often attributed to the 'cultural' factor. Behind such perception is the supposition that capitalism is wholly a product of the West, alien to Asia and cannot be successfully embraced without doing violence to its cultural traditions. Against this position, I argue that classical capitalism is perfectly compatible with the key (...) elements of Chinese philosophy. Whether or not there is anything in the suggestion of some historians that Quesnay borrowed from Confucianism, I argue that his economic doctrine could have developed from the fundamentals of Chinese philosophy. If I am right, the economic gap between the West and Asia has to be explained in terms other than the 'cultural' factor, such as, perhaps, colonialism and post-colonialist ideologies. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas’s work on the ethical responsibility of the face-to-face relation offers an illuminating context or clearing within which we might better appreciate the work of Simone Weil. Levinas’s subjectivity of the hostage, the one who is responsible for the other before being responsible for the self, provides us with a way of re-encountering the categories of gravity and grace invoked in Weil’s original account. In this paper I explore the terrain between these thinkers by raising the question of (...) eating as, in part, an ethical act. Weil’s conception of grace refers to the state of decreation in which the utter humility of the self moves toward a kind of disintegration and weightlessness. This weightlessness, which Weil contrasts to the gravity of terrestrial weight, might be thought of in terms of the subject’s fundamental responsibility for the other, especially in terms of the injunction “Thou shalt neither kill nor take the food of thy neighbour.” Taking the place of the other, taking the food from the mouth of the other, is the ethical dilemma facing the subject as hostage and an elaboration of this situation may provide us with steps toward a radical questioning of anorexia as—at least inpart—an ethical rather than purely medical condition. (shrink)
RÉSUMÉ: L'énigme de Hume au sujet de la connaissance de soi repose sur l'idée qu'il n'y a pour l'esprit que deux modes d'accès épistémique à soi-même: le contact direct ou non inférentiel avec le soi, d'une part, et la connaissance indirecte, à base d'inférence, d'autre part. Hume rejette le premier de ces modes en partant de ceci que nous n'avons dans l'introspection qu'une connaissance des expériences et jamais de la substance mentale, et il rejette le second comme incapable de contrer (...) le scepticisme, sa conclusion étant que ce nous appelons un soi n'est rien d'autre que l'amas des expériences que nous rencontrons. Il y a, cependant, en plus de ces deux modes d'accès, une troisième possibilité, que Hume ne semble jamais prendre en considération, mais qui était caractéristique de l'approche de Thomas d'Aquin à la connaissance de soi, comme de celle de Descartes. Pour ces auteurs, le mode d'accès que l'esprit a à lui même est une connaissance indirecte non inférentielle. Le présent article propose ainsi de repenser la façon dont ces philosophes ont conçu la connaissance qu'un individu a de lui-même. En particulier, l'un des aspects de la doctrine de Thomas d'Aquin qui est souvent négligé concerne le rôle que joue dans la connaissance du soi individuel la prise de conscience de l'implication de la volonté dans la pensée. (shrink)
Much has been written on Levinas's ethics. However, there is a problem with his ethical theory that has received little attention in the literature, the problem of moral motivation. Nuyen argues that given what Levinas says about the empirical conditions in which metaphysical responsibility is played out, he stills owes an account of the normative force of such an ethics.
Government refusals to apologise for past wrongful practices such as slavery or the removal of indigenous children from their parents seem evidently unjust. It is surprising, then, that some ethical considerations appear to support such stances. Jacques Derrida's account of forgiveness as entirely independent of apology appears to preclude the need for official apologies. I contend that governments are obligated to apologize for past injustices because they are responsible for them and that official apologies should not involve a corresponding expectation (...) for forgiveness. My argument is that an apology and forgiveness are asymmetrical because an apology is based on respect, a perfect duty, and can be a public act, whereas forgiveness is based on love, is an imperfect duty, and is a personal undertaking. It follows from this asymmetry that an apology is a prerequisite for reconciliation, but forgiveness is discretionary. Refusals to apologize tend to impede the reconciliation process and make the possibility of forgiveness remote. The concept of reconciliation has also been criticized on the grounds that reconciliation implies a former harmony that should be restored and fault on both sides. However, I argue it should be understood as a willingness to work together without a presumption of having overcome the past. (shrink)
Suppose that one of us were to think as if he was suddenly created and complete but with his view obscured so that he could not see outside. And suppose that he had been so created as if he were moved in the air or the void in such a way that he was not touched by the thickness of the air that he would be able to sense it and as if his limbs were separated so that they did (...) not touch either him or each other. Thence he should see if he would affirm being of his essence. He will not hesitate to affirm himself to exist. He will not however affirm things exterior to his members nor the hidden things of his interiors nor his soul nor his brain nor anything else extrinsic. He will affirm himself to exist though he will not affirm the length or the width or the thickness of himself. If however in that period of time it is possible for him to imagine a hand or another member, that would not be imagined to be part of him nor necessary to his essence. (shrink)