This essay examines whether or not absurdity is intrinsic to human life. It takes Camus’ interpretation of ‘The Absurd’ as its conceptual starting point. It traces such thought back to Schopenhauer, whose work is then critically analysed. This analysis focuses primarily on happiness and meaning. This essay accepts some of Schopenhauer’s premises, but rejects his conclusions. Instead, it considers Nietzsche’s alternatives and the role of suffering in life. It posits that suffering may help people acquire meaning and escape absurdity. It (...) then analyses the role of compassion in absurdity, in reference to Nietzsche’s work and Buddhist teachings. Lastly, it examines absurdity in relation to death, rejecting the notion that death exacerbates absurdity. This paper understands absurdity to be a natural part of the human condition, as characterised by suffering, death and an absence of meaning. It concludes that although human life is absurd by nature, it need not remain so. (shrink)
I offer myself as a nature guide, exploring for values. Many before us have got lost and we must look the world over. The unexamined life is not worth living; life in an unexamined world is not worthy living either. We miss too much of value.
The scope of libertarian law is normally limited to the application of the non-aggression principle (NAP), nothing more and nothing less. However, judging when the NAP has been violated requires not only a conception of praxeological notions such as aggression, but also interpretive understanding of what synthetic events count as the relevant praxeological types. Interpretive understanding—or verstehen—can be extremely heterogeneous between agents. The particular verständnis taken by a judge has considerable moral and political implications. Since selecting a verständnis is pre-requisite (...) to applying the NAP, the NAP itself cannot tell us which one we ought morally to choose. Therefore the application of the NAP calls on moral and political considerations outside of the NAP itself. Since some of these are more consistent with an endorsement of the NAP than others, libertarianism is not a “thin” commitment to the NAP alone, but a “thick” commitment to the NAP and other supporting moral and political considerations. (shrink)
This paper looks at the phenomenon of ethical vagueness by asking the question, how ought one to reason about what to do when confronted with a case of ethical vagueness? I begin by arguing that we must confront this question, since ethical vagueness is inescapable. I then outline one attractive answer to the question: we ought to maximize expected moral value when confronted with ethical vagueness. This idea yields determinate results for what one rationally ought to do in cases of (...) ethical vagueness. But what it recommends is dependent on which substantive theory of vagueness is true; one can't draw conclusions about how to reason about vagueness in ethics in the absence of concrete assumptions about the nature of vagueness. (shrink)
Billy Idol was the name we gave Ruthie in the hospital in the days immediately after she was born. She had fluorescent white hair, and had she been born to different parents, they might have thought more of it. But both of Ruthie's parents had bleached blond hair as young children. So in the late summer and into the fall of 2006, we happily celebrated the arrival of our second child, little blond baby Ruthie "Billie Idol" Weiss.Like many second-time (...) parents, we doted less. We did not love less, but we were clearly less excited. We were much more exhausted. We also paid a little less attention. Around the time Ruthie turned one month old, Palmer started to tell me about things she had noticed that seemed off. By... (shrink)
Hillel Steiner argues that a necessary and sufficient condition for the compossibility of a set of rights is that those rights be extensionally differentiable. However, given that two or more actions can extensionally overlap without thereby being mutually unperformable, if such actions are specified in the relevant rights, then those rights will not be incompossible, notwithstanding their extensional overlap. The set of compossible sets of rights then is greater than the subset of extensionally differentiable rights, and extensional differentiability is a (...) sufficient but unnecessary condition of compossibility. (shrink)
This new study provides a refreshing look at the issue of exceptions and shows that much of the problem stems from a failure to recognize at least two kinds of exception-ridden law: ceteris paribus laws and ideal laws. Billy Wheeler offers the first book-length discussion of ideal laws. The key difference between these two kinds of laws concerns the nature of the conditions that need to be satisfied and their epistemological role in the law’s formulation and discovery. He presents (...) a Humean-inspired approach that draws heavily on concepts from the information and computing sciences. Specifically, Wheeler argues that laws are best seen as algorithms for compressing empirical data and that ideal laws are needed as 'lossy compressors' for complex data. Major figures in the metaphysics of science receive special attention such as Ronald Giere, Bas van Fraassen, Nancy Cartwright, David Lewis and Marc Lange. This book is essential reading for philosophers of science and will interest metaphysicians, epistemologists and others interested in applying concepts from computing to traditional philosophical problems. (shrink)
Allan Franklin has identified a number of strategies that scientists use to build confidence in experimental results. This paper shows that Franklin's strategies have direct analogues in the context of computer simulation and then suggests that one of his strategies—the so-called 'Sherlock Holmes' strategy—deserves a privileged place within the epistemologies of experiment and simulation. In particular, it is argued that while the successful application of even several of Franklin's other strategies (or their analogues in simulation) may not be sufficient (...) for justified belief in results, the successful application of a slightly elaborated version of the Sherlock Holmes strategy is sufficient. (shrink)
It has been argued that the fundamental laws of physics do not face a ‘problem of provisos’ equivalent to that found in other scientiﬁc disciplines (Earman, Roberts and Smith 2002) and there is only the appearance of exceptions to physical laws if they are confused with differential equations of evolution type (Smith 2002). In this paper I argue that even if this is true, fundamental laws in physics still pose a major challenge to standard Humean approaches to lawhood, as they (...) are not in any obvious sense about regularities in behaviour. A Humean approach to physical laws with exceptions is possible, however, if we adopt a view of laws that takes them to be the algorithms in the algorithmic compressions of empirical data. When this is supplemented with a distinction between lossy and lossless compression, we can explain exceptions in terms of compression artefacts present in the application of the lossy laws. (shrink)
While Billy Budd's beauty has often been connected to his innocence and his moral goodness, the significance of the musical character of his beauty—what I will argue is the site of a struggle for political expression—has not been remarked upon by commentators of Melville's novella. It has, however, been deeply explored by Britten's opera. Music has often been situated at, or just beyond, the limits of communication; it has served as a medium of the ineffable, of unsaid and unsayable (...) truths (and lies), of an expressive power beyond language and reason. It is this expressive but communicatively problematic role that Billy embodies and that Billy Budd sets into political motion. In this essay, I would like to suggest that Billy's musical beauty can only be fully appreciated, and assumes full significance, when considered within the context of the various conceptions of beauty, and corresponding conceptions of authority, presented in the novella and in the opera. In particular, I will argue that Billy's beauty is a modern one that calls for the active participation of its audience. (shrink)
To what extent are the answers to theological questions knowable? And if the relevant answers are knowable, which sorts of inquirers are in a position to know them? In this chapter we shall not answer these questions directly but instead supply a range of tools that may help us make progress here. The tools consist of plausible structural constraints on knowledge. After articulating them, we shall go on to indicate some ways in which they interact with theological scepticism. In some (...) cases the structural constraints bear directly on whether one can know answers to theological questions. But the structural considerations are related to theological scepticism in other interesting ways as well; for instance we will also be using them to explore the significance of scepticism, by addressing questions such as ‘To what extent does it matter whether or not we can know the answer to theological questions?’. (shrink)
Quasi-realist Expressivists offer accounts of normative truth, normative facts, and normative properties which make their view apparently indistinguishable from Realist views on these subjects. This chapter explores the idea that there is still a substantial metaphysical difference between Realism and Quasi-realism, since they differ over the extent to which normative properties are metaphysically elite in David Lewis’s sense. Eliteness is an explanatory notion, and Realists need the explanatory features of eliteness to explain how different communities refer to the same property (...) with their word “ought.” While Quasi-realists can agree with Realists about which property “ought” refers to, the same resources they use to explain normative truth, reference, and facthood also explain why the referential facts are this way. Thus eliteness does not enter the explanatory picture for the Quasi-realist, and the metaphysics of obligation looks very different on the Realist and Quasi-realist views. (shrink)
It is often said that the best system account of laws needs supplementing with a theory of perfectly natural properties. The ‘strength’ and ‘simplicity’ of a system is language-relative and without a fixed vocabulary it is impossible to compare rival systems. Recently a number of philosophers have attempted to reformulate the BSA in an effort to avoid commitment to natural properties. I assess these proposals and argue that they are problematic as they stand. Nonetheless, I agree with their aim, and (...) show that if simplicity is interpreted as ‘compression’, algorithmic information theory provides a framework for system comparison without the need for natural properties.A menudo se dice que la explicación de las leyes del mejor sistema requiere ser completada con una teoría de las propiedades perfectamente naturales. La ‘fuerza’ y la ‘simplicidad’ de un sistema son relativas a un lenguaje y sin un vocabulario fijo es imposible comparar sistemas rivales. Recientemente, varios filósofos han intentado reformular la BSA en un esfuerzo por evitar el compromiso con las propiedades naturales. Aquí valoro estas propuestas y argumento que son problemáticas en su forma actual. Sin embargo, comparto su objetivo y muestro que si la simplicidad es interpretada como ‘compresion’, la teoría algoritmica de la información proporciona un marco para la comparación sin necesidad de apelar a propiedades naturales. (shrink)
James Dreier (Philos Perspect 18: 23-44, 2004) states what he calls the "Problem of Creeping Minimalism": that metaethical Expressivists can accept a series of claims about meaning, under which all of the sentences that Realists can accept are consistent with Expressivism. This would allow Expressivists to accept all of the Realist's sentences, and as Dreier points out, make it difficult to say what the difference between the two views is. That Expressivists can accept these claims about meaning has been suggested (...) by Simon Blackburn on behalf of his "quasirealist". I argue against the assumption that there is a way to interpret the Realist's sentences in a way that renders them consistent with Expressivism. (shrink)
Many libertarians ground their theory of justice in a non-aggression principle. The NAP is often the basis for the libertarian condemnation of state action – that it is necessarily aggressive and therefore unjust. This approach is often criticised insofar as it defines aggression, in part, as the violation of legitimate property rights, and is therefore parasitical upon a prior – and unjustified – theory of property. While it is true that libertarians who defend the NAP sometimes fail to give a (...) satisfactory account of its relationship to libertarian property rights, such an account is in fact available. A commitment to property rights and to non-aggression can both be grounded in a commitment to non-interference. Such a principle, then, brings together the NAP and the theory of property it is parasitical upon, thus saving the unity and austerity of the overall approach. (shrink)
This article intervenes into contemporary scholarship on affect by bringing different affect theories into the same analytical frame. Analysing commercial surrogacy in India through three different conceptualizations of affect found in the work of Michael Hardt, Sara Ahmed and Brian Massumi reveals how affect emerges as a malleable state in the practice of, as a circulatory force in the debates around, and as an ephemeral intensity in the spontaneous resistance to surrogacy. Based on this analysis, I suggest that integrating different (...) theories of affect enables more holistic examinations of corporeal regulation by opening our understanding to the multiple lives of affect that operate on the level of political economy, cultural signification and material intensity simultaneously. (shrink)
For three decades Jeremy Holmes has been a leading figure in psychodynamic psychiatry in the UK and across the world. He has played a central role in promoting the ideas of John Bowlby and in developing the clinical applications - psychiatric and psychotherapeutic - of Attachment Theory in working with adults. Drawing on both psychoanalytic and attachment ideas, Holmes has been able to encompass a truly biopsychosocialperspective. As a psychotherapist Holmes brings together psychodynamic, systemic and cognitive models, (...) alert to vital differences, but also keenly sensitive to overlaps and parallels. This volume of selected papers brings together the astonishing range of Holmes' interests and contributions. The various sections in the book cover: An extended interview - covering Holmes' career and philosophy as a psychodynamic psychiatrist 'Juvenilia' - sibling relationships, the psychology of nuclear weapons, and the psychodynamics of surgical intervention. Psychodynamic psychiatry: Integrative and Attachment-Informed A psychotherapy section inwhich he develops his model of psychotherapeutic change 'Heroes' - biographical pieces about the major influences including, John Bowlby, Michael Balint, David Malan, Jonathan Pedder and Charles Rycroft. 'Ephemera' - brief pieces covering such topics as frequency of psychodynamic sessions and fees. Attachments: Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis - The Selected Works of Jeremy Holmeswill be essential and illuminating reading for practitioners and students of psychiatry and psychotherapy in all its guises. (shrink)
It is often said that the best system account of laws needs supplementing with a theory of perfectly natural properties. The ‘strength’ and ‘simplicity’ of a system is language-relative and without a fixed vocabulary it is impossible to compare rival systems. Recently a number of philosophers have attempted to reformulate the BSA in an effort to avoid commitment to natural properties. I assess these proposals and argue that they are problematic as they stand. Nonetheless, I agree with their aim, and (...) show that if simplicity is interpreted as ‘compression’, algorithmic information theory provides a framework for system comparison without the need for natural properties. (shrink)
This paper is about avoiding commitment to an ontology of possible worlds with two primitives: a hyperintensional connective like ‘in virtue of’, and primitive quantification into predicate position. I argue that these tools (which some believe can be independently motivated) render dispensable the ontology of possible worlds needed by traditional anaylses of modality. They also shed new light on the notion of truth-at-a-world.
Anti-realism is often claimed to be preferable to realism on epistemological grounds: while realists have difficulty explaining how we can ever know claims if we are realists about it, anti-realism faces no analogous problem. This paper focuses on anti-realism about normativity to investigate this alleged advantage to anti-realism in detail. I set up a framework in which a version of anti-realism explains a type of modal reliability that appears to be epistemologically promising, and plausibly explains the appearance of an epistemological (...) advantage to realism. But, I argue, this appearance is illusory, and on closer investigation the anti-realist view does not succeed in explaining the presence of familiar epistemological properties for normative belief like knowledge or the absence of defeat. My conclusion on the basis of this framework is that there is a tension in the anti-realist view between the urge to idealize the conditions in which normative beliefs ground normative facts, and a robust kind of reliability that normative belief can have if the anti-realist resists these idealizations. (shrink)
The question of when we have justification for overriding ordinary, everyday decisions of persons with dementia is considered. It is argued that no single criterion for competent decision-making is able to distinguish reliably between decisions we can legitimately override and decisions we cannot legitimately override.
This paper uses a cultural ecology of development approach to critique existing models of development. The critique identifies existing models as running counter to ecological and biological imperatives, placing an over-emphasis on growth as the solution to development, and resulting in considerable cultural wastage. An argument is made that many of the attempts to construct an alternative development paradigm can be grouped within the cultural ecology of development approach. Ten precepts that will enhance the long-term survivability of the earth are (...) proposed. The final portion of the paper looks at how compatible current trends in thinking about development are with these ten precepts and assesses the prospects for adoption of these precepts in an alternative development paradigm. (shrink)
While—like all artistic forms—it allows for deviation from this standard rule, rap is heavily reliant on building blocks of sixteen bars and a refrain. In addition, rhyme plays a prominent role in structuring rap, which is why the form is also colloquially referred to as “rhyming.” In view of this, Billy Woods’s record Today, I Wrote Nothing was a considerable departure from the existing rap norm. On the record, Woods stylistically adapted a collection of works by Russian absurdist writer (...) Daniil Kharms, which was also called Today, I Wrote Nothing. Kharms was known for writing short prose without any formal structure. Most of his stories deal with absurd situations and slapstick humour. The structure of the fragmented fiction is adapted into rap on Woods’s record. The long rap verses are replaced by short songs without any specific narrative. The record maintains the non-structure of Kharms’s writing, as well as its absurdity, but it abandons any semblance of traditional rap. The second important stylistic and structural choice made in Woods’s record was the integration of aspects of Flannery O’Connor’s writing, particularly its humour and darkness. The article will focus on how Billy Woods integrates intertextuality into his lyrics to give the songs additional layers of meaning. (shrink)
Herman Melville’s Billy Budd presents a classic example of a legal official legally required to enforce a law he believes or knows to be unjust. Although there has been considerable discussion of a citizen’s moral duty to obey unjust laws, there has been little consideration of a legalofficial’s duty to enforce unjust laws.In this paper I take the central moral dilemma of the novel -- a legal official’s moral duty to enforce a valid law of a legal system vs. (...) his moral duty not to do or to contribute to injustice -- and discuss various moral considerations that would bear on this dilemma. By doing this I hope to contribute both to the moral issues involved as weIl as, to some extent, the literary criticism with regard to Billy Budd. (shrink)
Environmental Ethics is a systematic account of values carried by the natural world, coupled with an inquiry into duties toward animals, plants, species, and ecosystems. A comprehensive philosophy of nature is illustrated by and integrated with numerous actual examples of ethical decisions made in encounters with fauna and flora, endangered species, and threatened ecosystems. The ethics developed is informed throughout by ecological science and evolutionary biology, with attention to the logic of moving from what is in nature to what ought (...) to be. The ethical theory is applied in detail to social, public, and business policy. Written in an engaging style, using diagrams and figures as well as numerous case studies, Environmental Ethics prods the reader into concrete application and invites reader participation in the ethical discussions. The ethics concludes by exploring the historical experiences of personal residence in a surrounding environment. Here is an adventure into what it means to live as responsible human beings in the community of life on Earth. In the series Ethics and Action, edited by Tom Regan. (shrink)
A biography of the famous revivalist, readable and scholarly, though occasionally rather diffuse. Its claim to see Sunday's work "in terms of a critical reorientation in the ideological structure of American life" is not fully realized; the book tends to waver between biography and sociology without satisfying the requirements of either.--A. R.
En este trabajo abordamos la noción de naturaleza que el materialismo posthumano pone en juego y que supone una reflexión sobre la relación del arte con el mundo, la materialidad y la emancipación. Retomando el planteo de Adorno, según el cual el materialismo se muestra como la tensión insuperable entre el “desnudamiento” relativo de las potencias de los materiales y la articulación en constelaciones nuevas que aquel posibilita, analizamos críticamente la tarea que implica para el arte: servir de voz a (...) la naturaleza oprimida y dañada. A través de los recorridos de Foucault, Latour y Schwarzböck sobre estos temas, y haciendo intervenir al pensamiento ecológico, señalamos un camino a explorar en el cual la estética filosófica se halla ante nuevos desafíos. (shrink)
Some Christian theorists define love in terms of benevolence, or benevolence plus some minor addition. Here I rely on a thought experiment involving a fully benevolent human, dubbed “Benevolent Billy,” to show that benevolence accounts of this kind are insufficient as a distinctly Christian account of love. This is because those who exemplify ideal Christian love for another must be intrinsically motivated to form or maintain caring, reciprocal relationships with those loved ; yet there is nothing about Billy’s (...) perfect benevolence that so motivates. (shrink)