1. Many philosophers, including the later Wittgenstein, have concerned themselves with the question ‘What is philosophy?’ In this paper I shall say some things about the activity of philosophizing. What I shall say is not new or revealing; none the less, it might be worth saying what I do say. For philosophers, especially if they are professionally occupied with their subject, sometimes overlook some interesting, and some human, aspects of their profession.
While logical principles seem timeless, placeless, and eternal, their discovery is a story of personal accidents, political tragedies, and broad social change. If A, Then B begins with logic's emergence twenty-three centuries ago and tracks its expansion as a discipline ever since. -/- The book treats logic as more than a tale of individual abstraction; it sees logic as also being a result of politics, economics, technology, and geography, because all these factors helped to generate an audience for the discipline (...) from the start. The book thus relates developments in logical theory to the social history of different historical periods. -/- The book defends a number of controversial philosophical theses: (1) that rationally persuasive arguments must always proceed from premises that are initially more convincing than the conclusions to be proved (a position derived from Aristotle), (2) that intuitive logical judgments, though sometimes mistaken, can also count as certain knowledge, independent of the techniques used to construct formal logical systems, (3) that Wittgenstein was mistaken in thinking that philosophy was riddled with unintelligible language and that the real problems, instead, have been ambiguity and pretentious diction, and (4) that Nelson Goodman's argument to the effect that deductive logic can be "virtuously circular" is founded on a non sequitur. -/- . (shrink)
I shall discuss what I have chosen to call the phenomenon of ‘intellectual robotry’. Intellectual robotry is a disease which is manifested in various different ways by some intellectuals, though not by all. What do I mean by ‘intellectual robotry’? I mean, among other things, a habitual indulgence in clever words for their own sake, a fixation about the potency of arguments and a sort of involved commitment to certain fashionable ideologies. One of the main characteristics of intellectual robotry is (...) that the practitioner of it invariably loses sight of the person he is talking to, or allegedly talking to. He, the intellectual, is intent on pursuing his own momentum of metaphysical or ideological or political or whatever talk because he believes he has something rather important to say, but as he talks—you can almost see it in his or her eyes—he is no longer talking to a person. (shrink)
This provocative but persuasive book is essentially a radical attack upon the Humean conception of causality and the presentation and defense of a counter-theory, closer to everyday experience and pre-Humean traditional views. As formulated by empiricist philosophers, the Humean approach depends on two basic postulates. The philosophical analysis of any non-empirical concept must be a formal explication; any residue elements have to be accounted for in terms of their psychological origins. The world as experienced can be conceived adequately as a (...) logically independent system of things or flux of events, without the unwarranted assumption that individuals persist diachronically. As the grounds for undermining these assumptions, the authors develop a conception of causes as "powerful particulars," i.e., things which have both a nature and powers. So long as the nature remains unchanged the agent in question will continue to behave in this fashion with a natural necessity, stemming from the individual’s nature and specific powers. The opening chapter discusses the problem of conceptual and natural necessity—as distinct from logical necessity which alone is allowed by the Humean empiricists. Natural necessity is the mark of the relationship between real causes and their respective effects, whereas conceptual necessity characterizes the way our statements about such are themselves related. Later the irreducibility of natural necessity is emphasized and its differences from logical entailment spelled out. Chapter two takes up the subject of the "regularity theory and its allies." Characteristic of such are two claims: the empirical content of a causal-relationship statement is exhausted by the actual or hypothetical regularity between independent entities, and the necessity ordinarily attributed to causal production is an illusion, to be accounted for in various ways. Subsequent chapters are devoted to assaulting the pillars of the Humean notion either directly or indirectly through an illuminating and attractive account of their own theory of nature, causal powers, and natural necessity. The final chapter, entitled "Fields of Potential," indulges in speculation about the nature of ultimate entities on the basis of an extended generalization of the notion of the powerful individual, and concludes with a brief account of the historical antecedents of Faraday’s modern field theory and the metaphysical implications of a generalized field theory.—A.B.W. (shrink)
A bi-lingual edition of poems and a "free philosophical treatise" by a poet-logician who is now imprisoned somewhere in Russia. In this choppy and compressed treatise, written hours before he was arrested, the writer discusses some pseudo-problems of philosophy, argues against the principle of excluded middle, and states the real problem of philosophy as being the relationship between the subconscious and consciousness.--A. B. D.
There are many people in the world who want to be Somebody. Let us describe someone as Somebody who comes to believe that, in one or more respects, he or she is a special or significant person and who succeeds, through whatever means, in acquiring some sort of reputation and some sort of fame. People want to become Somebody because they believe that unless they succeed in that respect they will turn out to be a mere mediocrity, or worse still, (...) to be thought of as a mere mediocrity. People want to leave some sort of mark in this world before they die. They do not want their passage through this world to be utterly ineffectual. This, I think, is the seed from which the ideal of being Somebody emerges. (shrink)
Objective To determine the attitudes of Egyptian patients regarding their participation in research and with the collection, storage and future use of blood samples for research purposes. Design Cross-sectional survey. Study population Adult Egyptian patients (n=600) at rural and urban hospitals and clinics. Results Less than half of the study population (44.3%) felt that informed consent forms should provide research participants the option to have their blood samples stored for future research. Of these participants, 39.9% thought that consent forms should (...) include the option that future research be restricted to the illness being studied. A slight majority (66.2%) would donate their samples for future genetic research. Respondents were more favourable towards having their blood samples exported to other Arab countries (62.0%) compared with countries in Europe (41.8%, p<0.001) and to the USA (37.2%, p<0.001). Conclusions This study shows that many individuals do not favour the donation of a blood sample for future research. Of those who do approve of such future research, many favour a consent model that includes an option restricting the future research to the illness being studied. Also, many Egyptians were hesitant to have their blood samples donated for genetic research or exported out of the Arab region to the USA and European countries. Further qualitative research should be performed to determine the underlying reasons for many of our results. (shrink)
Background: Legislation on physician-assisted suicide is being considered in a number of states since the passage of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act in 1994. Opinion assessment surveys have historically assessed particular subsets of physicians.Objective: To determine variables predictive of physicians’ opinions on PAS in a rural state, Vermont, USA.Design: Cross-sectional mailing survey.Participants: 1052 physicians licensed by the state of Vermont.Results: Of the respondents, 38.2% believed PAS should be legalised, 16.0% believed it should be prohibited and 26.0% believed it should (...) not be legislated. 15.7% were undecided. Males were more likely than females to favour legalisation . Physicians who did not care for patients through the end of life were significantly more likely to favour legalisation of PAS than physicians who do care for patients with terminal illness . 30% of the respondents had experienced a request for assistance with suicide.Conclusions: Vermont physicians’ opinions on the legalisation of PAS is sharply polarised. Patient autonomy was a factor strongly associated with opinions in favour of legalisation, whereas the sanctity of the doctor–patient relationship was strongly associated with opinions in favour of not legislating PAS. Those in favour of making PAS illegal overwhelmingly cited moral and ethical beliefs as factors in their opinion. Although opinions on legalisation appear to be based on firmly held beliefs, approximately half of Vermont physicians who responded to the survey agree that there is a need for more education in palliative care and pain management. (shrink)
In September of 1965 G. H. von Wright discovered in Vienna a hitherto unknown notebook written in pencil by Wittgenstein. The first part contains an early, but essentially complete version of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Since it contains the dedication to David H. Pinsent who died May 8, 1918, von Wright dates its composition just before the final composition of the Tractatus in the summer of 1918. This is confirmed by the remaining portion of the manuscript which contains additions and further (...) elucidations to the Prototractatus plus a Preface, all of which are found, virtually unchanged, in the final version of the Tractatus. This edition contains a quite readable facsimile of the entire manuscript, an edition of the text of the Prototractatus that indicates its differences from the final text and a translation en regard by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness. A lengthy introduction by von Wright on the publication history of the Tractatus and a concluding set of Tables indicating parallel passages between the Tractatus and Prototractatus as well as those portions of each work which have nothing corresponding in the other, complete the volume. In view of the fact that Wittgenstein on his last visit to Vienna before his death ordered that the several notebooks which still existed from the time of germination of the Tractatus be destroyed, one might ask just what contribution this expensive edition of the Prototractatus may be expected to make to our understanding of Wittgenstein's thought. Unlike the 1914-1916 Notebooks, which by some happy accident escaped the destruct order, the Prototractatus does not seem to differ in any significant substantive way from the final printed version. This is to be expected if von Wright's dating of the work is correct. Hence, while the historian of literature may be delighted with the present text, the student of philosophy may find it disappointing. What does make the present volume of value, however, is von Wright's historical introduction with its reproduction of many of Wittgenstein's letters to various prospective publishers. Of especial interest in this connection is Wittgenstein's illuminating comment to Ludwig von Ficker of Innsbruck, editor of Der Brenner, that "the book's point is an ethical one. I once meant to include in the preface a sentence which is not in fact there now but which... will perhaps be a key to the work for you. What I meant to write, then, was this: My work consists of two parts; the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one. My book draws limits to the sphere of the ethical from the inside as it were, and I am convinced that this is the ONLY rigorous way of drawing those limits. I believe that where many others today are just gassing, I have managed in my book to put everything firmly into place by being silent about it. And for that reason, unless I am very much mistaken, the book will say a great deal that you yourself want to say. Only perhaps you won't see that it is said in the book." This would seem to confirm Anscombe's interpretation of Tractatus 6.52 rather than Ayer's and that of the Vienna Circle.--A. B. W. (shrink)
Some say that presentism precludes time travel into the past since it implies that the past does not exist, but this is a bad argument. Presentism says that only currently existing entities exist, and that the only properties and relations those entities instantiate are those that they currently instantiate. This does in a sense imply that the past does not exist. But if that precluded time travel into the past, it would also preclude the one-second-per-second “time travel” into the future (...) that is ordinary persistence, for presentism accords the future the same ontological status as the past. Instead of quantifying over past and future objects and events, presentists speak a tensed language, regimented with primitive sentential tense operators. For a presentist, a persisting person is one who did exist, and who will exist. Regimented, these claims become: it was the case that she exists, and it will be the case that she exists. The presentist may then apply the same strategy to time travel proper. Suppose Katy travels back to the time of the dinosaurs. The presentist can say that it was the case two hundred million years ago that Katy exists. This claim, which consists of a present-tense statement “Katy exists” embedded within the past tense operator it was the case two hundred million years ago that, is exactly the sort of statement about time that a presentist is free to accept. This has all been made clear by Simon Keller and Michael Nelson ( ). In addition to rebutting the bad argument against the consistency of presentism and time travel, Keller and Nelson argue positively in favor of consistency by showing how to translate David Lewis’s ( ) account of time travel into the presentist’s tensed language. The appearance of con ict between presentism and time travel, they argue, is due only to the fact that most defenders of time travel (for example Lewis) have tended to phrase their defenses in nonpresentist terms. As much as I applaud their rebuttal of the bad argument, I wish to sound a note of caution.. (shrink)
The physician charter on medical professionalism creates standards of ethical behaviour for physicians and has been endorsed by professional organisations worldwide. It is based on the cardinal principles of the primacy of patient welfare, patient autonomy, and social welfare. There has been little discussion in the bioethics community of the doctrine of the charter and none from a Jewish ethical perspective. In this essay the authors discuss the obligations of the charter from a Jewish ethical viewpoint and call on other (...) cultures to develop their own unique perspectives on this important document. (shrink)
The Groningen protocol allows for the euthanasia of severely ill newborns with a hopeless prognosis and unbearable suffering. We understand the impetus for such a protocol but have moral and ethical concerns with it. Advocates for euthanasia in adults have relied on the concept of human autonomy, which is lacking in the case of infants. In addition, biases can potentially influence the decision making of both parents and physicians. It is also very difficult to weigh the element of quality of (...) life on the will to live. We feel an important line has been crossed if the international medical community consents to the active euthanasia of severely ill infants and are concerned about the extension of the policy to other at risk groups. (shrink)
Large scale DNA-mutation screening in patients with hereditary retinal diseases greatly enhances our knowledge about retinal function and diseases. Scientists, clinicians, patients, and families involved with retinal disorders may directly benefit from these developments. However, certain aspects of this expanding knowledge, such as the correlation between genotype and phenotype, may be much more complicated than we expect at present.
The validity of the double effect doctrine is examined in euthanasia and abortion. In these two situations killing is a method of treatment. It is argued that the doctrine cannot apply to the care of the dying. Firstly, doctors are obliged to harm patients in order to do good to them. Secondly, patients should make their own value judgments about being mutilated or killed. Thirdly, there is little intuitive moral difference between direct and indirect killing. Nor can the doctrine apply (...) to abortion. Doctors kill fetuses as a means of treating the mother. They also kill them as an inevitable side effect of other treatment. Drawing a moral distinction between the direct and the indirect killing gives counterintuitive results. It is suggested that pragmatic rules, not ethics, govern practices around euthanasia and cause it to be more restricted than abortion. (shrink)
Planned home birth has been considered by some to be consistent with professional responsibility in patient care. This article critically assesses the ethical and scientific justification for this view and shows it to be unjustified. We critically assess recent statements by professional associations of obstetricians, one that sanctions and one that endorses planned home birth. We base our critical appraisal on the professional responsibility model of obstetric ethics, which is based on the ethical concept of medicine from the Scottish and (...) English Enlightenments of the 18th century. Our critical assessment supports the following conclusions. Because of its significantly increased, preventable perinatal risks, planned home birth in the United States is not clinically or ethically benign. Attending planned home birth, no matter one’s training or experience, is not acting in a professional capacity, because this role preventably results in clinically unnecessary and therefore clinically unacceptable perinatal risk. It is therefore not consistent with the ethical concept of medicine as a profession for any attendant to planned home birth to represent himself or herself as a “professional.” Obstetric healthcare associations should neither sanction nor endorse planned home birth. Instead, these associations should recommend against planned home birth. Obstetric healthcare professionals should respond to expressions of interest in planned home birth by pregnant women by informing them that it incurs significantly increased, preventable perinatal risks, by recommending strongly against planned home birth, and by recommending strongly for planned hospital birth. Obstetric healthcare professionals should routinely provide excellent obstetric care to all women transferred to the hospital from a planned home birth. The professional responsibility model of obstetric ethics requires obstetricians to address and remedy legitimate dissatisfaction with some hospital settings and address patients’ concerns about excessive interventions. Creating a sustained culture of comprehensive safety, which cannot be achieved in planned home birth, informed by compassionate and respectful treatment of pregnant women, should be a primary focus of professional obstetric responsibility. (shrink)
Inasmuch as a good many of the Australian philosophers one would like to see included are not represented, and some of the contributors are no longer teaching in Australia, the title of this volume is somewhat misleading. It contains an introduction by Alan Donagan and the following original essays: J. Passmore, "Russell and Bradley"; L. Goddard, "The Existence of Universals"; B. Ellis, "An Epistemological Concept of Truth"; P. Herbst, "Fact, Form, and Intentionality"; M. Deutscher, "A Causal Account of Inferring"; D. (...) M. Armstrong, "Colour-Realism and the Argument from Microscopes"; K. Campbell, "Colours"; C. B. Martin, "People"; M. C. Bradley, "Two Arguments Against the Identity Thesis"; D. H. Monro, "Mill's Third Howler"; G. Schlesinger, "The Passage of Time." Though the essays are original and admirable, there does not seem to be anything distinctively Australian, rather than American or British, about their contents. Perhaps the most enlightening fact about them is that neither the Andersonian tradition of Sydney nor the Wittgensteinian tradition of Melbourne which dominated the Australian philosophical scene in the early 1950's is pre-eminent any longer, or even in evidence.--A. B. M. (shrink)
This paper assesses branching spacetime theories in light of metaphysical considerations concerning time. I present the A, B, and C series in terms of the temporal structure they impose on sets of events, and raise problems for two elements of extant branching spacetime theories—McCall’s ‘branch attrition’, and the ‘no backward branching’ feature of Belnap’s ‘branching space-time’—in terms of their respective A- and B-theoretic nature. I argue that McCall’s presentation of branch attrition can only be coherently formulated on a model with (...) at least two temporal dimensions, and that this results in severing the link between branch attrition and the ﬂow of time. I argue that ‘no backward branching’ prohibits Belnap’s theory from capturing the modal content of indeterministic physical theories, and results in it ascribing to the world a time-asymmetric modal structure that lacks physical justiﬁcation. (shrink)
Since its origins as a distinct philosophical discipline during the first quarter of the present century, philosophy of science has been largely a matter of logical analysis. Only in relatively recent times have the historically minded philosophers attacked the logical empiricist account of the scientific enterprise. Among the pioneers of this revolution, however, Kuhn, along with Popper and Feyerabend, have also challenged the idea that a linear growth in scientific knowledge is either possible or desirable. Though partial to the historical (...) approach, Wallace will not accept this negativistic thesis. On the other hand, his conviction that most scientists are realists at heart makes him reject the positivistic account of science proposed by Duhem, Mach and the Vienna Circle. Science, he claims, aims at discovering the truth about the world. It is not content simply to describe how things are, but wants to know why. Now it is in their search for causes that scientists reveal their realistic convictions. And it is because science throughout its long history has made causal explanations the paradigm of scientific knowledge that its growth is not the haphazard or irrational sort of thing that Kuhn envisions. In this first of a proposed two-volume work, Wallace traces the origins of this paradigm to Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. Part I, ‘Medieval Science', sketches the influence of this work on medieval scientists at the universities of Oxford, Paris and Padua from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Part II, entitled ‘Early Classical Science', shows how the earlier paradigm continues to influence such men as Gilbert, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey and Newton. Both historians and philosophers can profit from this original and controversial study. Even those who would not accept the author’s thesis that "the reconstruction of contemporary philosophy of science necessitates a return to some of the values of medieval and early classical science" will be grateful for the great amount of factual information and wealth of primary source material the book provides. We look forward to the publication of the companion volume on "Classical and Contemporary Science."—A. B. W. (shrink)