This paper discusses two passages from Alexander of Aphrodisias’s commentary on Aristotle’s Topics that are transmitted in Ps-Jābir’s Kitāb al-Nukhab. It argues that the Arabic translation of Alexander’s commentary may have been made from a fuller version than what came down to us in Greek. Especially since the author of the Jābir-corpus form a tradition different from the school of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq and authors associated to the ‘Baghdad school’, whose earliest figure is Abū Bishr Mattā b. Yūnus, (...) the Arabic fragments of Alexander’s commentary preserved in the Kitāb al-Nukhab promise to shed more light on the early reception of the Topics and the different contexts in which Aristotelian dialectic was studied in the Islamic world. (shrink)
Some of the greatest writers on moral philosophy have claimed that their theories about morality do not run counter to the moral views of ordinary men, but on the contrary are an elucidation of such views, or provide them with a sound philosophical underpinning. Aristotle, for example, made it quite clear that he could not take seriously a moral view that was at odds with the heritage of moral wisdom deeply imbedded in his society. His doctrine of the mean was (...) based on a philosophical consideration of such wisdom. And Immanuel Kant thought that his moral philosophy articulated the moral views of ordinary men. (shrink)
Assuming S5, the main controversial premise in modal ontological arguments is the possibility premise, such as that possibly a maximally great being exists. I shall offer a new way of arguing that the possibility premise is probably true.
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
Social and behavioral scientists — that is, students of human nature — nowadays hardly ever use the term ‘human nature’. This reticence reflects both a becoming modesty about the aims of their disciplines and a healthy skepticism about whether there is any one thing really worthy of the label ‘human nature’. For some feature of humankind to be identified as accounting for our ‘nature’, it would have to reflect some property both distinctive of our species and systematically influential enough to (...) explain some very important aspect of our behavior. Compare: molecular structure gives the essence or the nature of water just because it explains most of its salient properties. Few students of the human sciences currently hold that there is just one or a small number of such features that can explain our actions and/or our institutions. And even among those who do, there is reluctance to label their theories as claims about ‘human nature’. Among anthropologists and sociologists, the label seems too universal and indiscriminant to be useful. The idea that there is a single underlying character that might explain similarities threatens the differences among people and cultures that these social scientists seek to uncover. Even economists, who have explicitly attempted to parlay rational choice theory into an account of all human behavior, do not claim that the maximization of transitive preferences is ‘human nature’. I think part of the reason that social scientists are reluctant to use ‘human nature’ is that the term has traditionally labeled a theory with normative implications as well as descriptive ones. (shrink)
In ‘Finkish Dispositions’1 David Lewis proposes an analysis of dispositions which improves on the simple conditional analysis. In this paper I show that Lewis’ analysis still fails. I also argue that repairs are of no avail, and suggest why this is so.
Some, notably Peter van Inwagen, in order to avoid problems with free will and omniscience, replace the condition that an omniscient being knows all true propositions with a version of the apparently weaker condition that an omniscient being knows all knowable true propositions. I shall show that the apparently weaker condition, when conjoined with uncontroversial claims and the logical closure of an omniscient being's knowledge, still yields the claim that an omniscient being knows all true propositions.
The free-will defence holds that the value of significant free will is so great that God is justified in creating significantly free creatures even if there is a risk or certainty that these creatures will sin. A difficulty for the FWD, developed carefully by Quentin Smith, is that God is unable to do evil, and yet surely lacks no genuinely valuable kind of freedom. Smith argues that the kind of freedom that God has can be had by creatures, without a (...) risk of creatures doing evil. I shall show that Smith's argument fails – the case of God is disanalogous to the case of creatures precisely because creatures are creatures. (shrink)
In four closely interwoven studies, Jeffrey Alexander identifies the central dilemma that provokes contemporary social theory and proposes a new way to resolve it. The dream of reason that marked the previous fin de siècle foundered in the face of the cataclysms of the twentieth century, when war, revolution, and totalitarianism came to be seen as themselves products of reason. In response there emerged the profound skepticism about rationality that has so starkly defined the present fin de siècle. From (...) Wittgenstein through Rorty and postmodernism, relativism rejects the very possibility of universal standards, while for both positivism and neo-Marxists like Bourdieu, reductionism claims that ideas simply reflect their social base. In a readable and spirited argument, Alexander develops the alternative of a "neo-modernist" position that defends reason from within a culturally centered perspective while remaining committed to the goal of explaining, not merely interpreting, contemporary social life. On the basis of a sweeping reinterpretation of postwar society and its intellectuals, he suggests that both antimodernist radicalism and postmodernist resignation are now in decline; a more democratic, less ethnocentric and more historically contingent universalizing social theory may thus emerge. Developing in his first two studies a historical approach to the problem of "absent reason," Alexander moves via a critique of Richard Rorty to construct his case for "present reason." Finally, focusing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, he provokes the most sustained critical reflection yet on this influential thinker. Fin de Siecle Social Theory is a tonic intervention in contemporary debates, showing how social and cultural theory can properly take the measure of the extraordinary times in which we live. (shrink)
This volume contains the Arabic translations of a lost treatise by Alexander of Aphrodisias (c. AD 200) "On the Principles of the Universe" with English translation, introduction and commentary. It also includes an Arabic and Syriac glossary. The introduction and commentary deal in detail with the manuscripts, the translators and the exegetical tendencies of the text, as well as with its reception in Arabic philosophy. The main theme of the work is the motion of the heavenly bodies and their (...) influence on the physical world. (shrink)
Die Untersuchung analysiert deswegen nach einem einleitenden Vorschlag zur Bestimmung des Verhältnisses von Logik und Metaphysik im Anschluss an Leibniz Baumgartens Erkenntnistheorie in ihrer charakteristischen Komplementarität von Ästhetik und Logik, die das gesamte Feld aller möglichen Gewissheit, d. h. des Bewusstseins der Wahrheit der verschiedensten Erkenntnisse, abdecken. Darüber hinaus erörtert sie auch deren mögliche Gegenstände, nämlich die Beschaffenheit der Dinge, wie sie das Wissen Gottes als eine ideale Metaphysik enthielte. Auf der Grundlage einer Ontologie teilweise unbestimmer aktualer Existenz kommt Baumgarten (...) zu einer kosmologischen Theorie monadischer Bewegtheit aller körperlichen Dinge. Sie führt zu einer Psychologie des Erkennens und Handelns, aus der ein indeterministischer Begriff menschlicher Willensfreiheit folgt, die auch von Gottes Allwissen nicht beschränkt wird. (shrink)
Can there be grounding without necessitation? Can a fact obtain wholly in virtue of metaphysically more fundamental facts, even though there are possible worlds at which the latter facts obtain but not the former? It is an orthodoxy in recent literature about the nature of grounding, and in first-order philosophical disputes about what grounds what, that the answer is no. I will argue that the correct answer is yes. I present two novel arguments against grounding necessitarianism, and show that grounding (...) contingentism is fully compatible with the various explanatory roles that grounding is widely thought to play. (shrink)
Is a government required or permitted to redistribute the gains and losses that differences in biological endowments generate? In particular, does the fact that individuals possess different biological endowments lead to unfair advantages within a market economy? These are questions on which some people are apt to have strong intuitions and ready arguments. Egalitarians may say yes and argue that as unearned, undeserved advantages and disadvantages, biological endowments are never fair, and that the market simply exacerbates these inequities. Libertarians may (...) say no, holding that the possession of such endowments deprives no one of an entitlement and that any system but a market would deprive agents of the rights to their endowments. Biological endowments may well lead to advantages or disadvantages on their view, but not to unfair ones. I do not have strong intuitions about answers to these questions, in part because I believe that they are questions of great difficulty. To begin, alternative answers rest on substantial assumptions in moral philosophy that seem insufficiently grounded. Moreover, the questions involve several problematical assumptions about the nature of biological endowments. Finally, I find the questions to be academic, in the pejorative sense of this term. For aside from a number of highly debilitating endowments, the overall moral significance of differences between people seems so small, so I interdependent and so hard to measure, that these differences really will 1 not enter into practical redistributive calculations, even if it is theoretically i permissible that they do so. Before turning to a detailed discussion of biological endowments and their moral significance, I sketch my doubts about the fundamental moral theories that dictate either the impermissibility or the obligation to compensate for different biological endowments. (shrink)
In the Museum of Science and Technology in San Jose, California, there is a display dedicated to advances in biotechnology. Most prominent in the display is a double helix of telephone books stacked in two staggered spirals from the floor to the ceiling twenty-five feet above. The books are said to represent the current state of our knowledge of the eukaryotic genome: the primary sequences of DNA polynucleotides for the gene products which have been discovered so far in the twenty (...) years since cloning and sequencing the genome became possible. (shrink)
“Ex nihilo nihil fit,” goes the classic adage: nothing comes from nothing. Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Nothing happens in vain, but everything for a reason and under necessitation,” claimed Leucippus. Saint Thomas insisted in the.
This book presents some of the most recent trends and developments in Presocratic scholarship. A wide range of topics are covered - from the metaphysical to the moral to the methodological - as well as a broad a range of authors: from recognized figures such as Heraclitus and Parmenides to Sophistic thinkers whose place has traditionally been marginalized, such as Gorgias and the author of the Dissoi Logoi. Several of the pieces are concerned with the later reception and influence of (...) the Presocratics on ancient philosophy, an area of study important both for the light it sheds on our evidence for Presocratic thought and for understanding the philosophical power of their ideas. Drawing together contributions from distinguished authorities and internationally acclaimed scholars of ancient philosophy, this book offers new challenges to traditional interpretations in some areas of Presocratic philosophy and finds new support for traditional interpretations in other areas. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that divine creation of human beings is compatible with evolutionary theory, except perhaps in regard of the human soul, and that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory provides an explanation of speciation and of complex features of organisms that undercuts Paley-style teleological arguments, whether or not the evolutionary mechanisms are truly random or deterministic. I will argue that a plausible understanding of the doctrine of creation of human beings is either logically or rationally incompatible with full evolutionary theory, even (...) if one does not take souls into account. Consequently, a theist needs to move to a weaker version either of the creation doctrine or of evolutionary theory, or both. (shrink)
A recombinationist like the earlier Armstrong (1989) claims that logically possible worlds are recombinations of items found in the actual world, with some items reduplicated if need be and others deleted. An immediate consequence of this is that if an..