While ordinary decision theory focuses on empirical uncertainty, real decision-makers also face normative uncertainty: uncertainty about value itself. From a purely formal perspective, normative uncertainty is comparable to (Harsanyian or Rawlsian) identity uncertainty in the 'original position', where one's future values are unknown. A comprehensive decision theory must address twofold uncertainty -- normative and empirical. We present a simple model of twofold uncertainty, and show that the most popular decision principle -- maximising expected value (`Expectationalism') -- has different formulations, namely (...) Ex-Ante Expectationalism, Ex-Post Expectationalism, and hybrid theories. These alternative theories recommend different decisions, reasoning modes, and attitudes to risk. But they converge under an interesting (necessary and sufficient) condition. (shrink)
Brian Leftow makes an important contribution to the longstanding debate among philosophers and theologians about the nature of God's eternity. The author develops a powerful and original defense of the notion that God is eternal in that he exists timelessly; that is, that though God exists, he does not exist at any time. Leftow defends the claim that a timeless God can be an object of human experience, and he attempts to delineate the extent of such a God's omniscience. (...) Finally, the author pays special attention to the relation between the claim that God is timeless and the claim that God is metaphysically simple. (shrink)
Listen to the interview with Brian Kemple... and learn to appreciate the diachronic trajectory of semiotics. *** Live interview with Brian Kemple, Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, to discuss the legacy and influence of John Deely, the thinker most responsible for developing semiotics into the 21st century. This interview, conducted by William Passarini and Tim Troutman, is part of the preliminary activities of the 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics: a Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth (...) Anniversary of His Passing, cooperatively organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, the International Center for Semiotics and Intercultural Dialogue, Moscow State Academic University for the Humanities and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project. Brian Kemple holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas, in Houston TX, where he wrote his dissertation under the inimitable John Deely. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. Philosophical interests and areas of study include: Thomas Aquinas, John Poinsot, Charles Peirce, Martin Heidegger, the history and importance of semiotics, scholasticism, phenomenology; as well as ancillary interests in the liberal arts, technology, and education as a moral habit. He has published two scholarly books— 'Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition' and 'The Intersections of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue', as well as a number of scholarly articles, popular articles, and his own 'Introduction to Philosophical Principles: Logic, Physics, and the Human Person' and the forthcoming 'Linguistic Signification: A Classical Course in Grammar and Composition'. In addition to being the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, he is the Executive Editor of 'Reality: a Journal for Philosophical Discourse'. *** Technical support was assured by Robert Junqueira and the cover image for the video was designed by Zahra Soltani. (shrink)
A textbook on modal logic, intended for readers already acquainted with the elements of formal logic, containing nearly 500 exercises. Brian F. Chellas provides a systematic introduction to the principal ideas and results in contemporary treatments of modality, including theorems on completeness and decidability. Illustrative chapters focus on deontic logic and conditionality. Modality is a rapidly expanding branch of logic, and familiarity with the subject is now regarded as a necessary part of every philosopher's technical equipment. Chellas here offers (...) an up-to-date and reliable guide essential for the student. (shrink)
Brian Skyrms constructs a theory of "dynamic deliberation" and uses it to investigate rational decision-making in cases of strategic interaction. This illuminating book will be of great interest to all those in many disciplines who use decision theory and game theory to study human behavior and thought. Skyrms begins by discussing the Bayesian theory of individual rational decision and the classical theory of games, which at first glance seem antithetical in the criteria used for determining action. In his effort (...) to show how methods for dealing with information feedback can be productively combined, the author skillfully leads us through the mazes of equilibrium selection, the Nash equilibria for normal and extensive forms, structural stability, causal decision theory, dynamic probability, the revision of beliefs, and, finally, good habits for decision. The author provides many clarifying illustrations and a handy appendix called "Deliberational Dynamics on Your Personal Computer." His powerful model has important implications for understanding the rational origins of convention and the social contract, the logic of nuclear deterrence, the theory of good habits, and the varied strategies of political and economic behavior. (shrink)
Scientific Essentialism defends the view that the fundamental laws of nature depend on the essential properties of the things on which they are said to operate, and are therefore not independent of them. These laws are not imposed upon the world by God, the forces of nature or anything else, but rather are immanent in the world. Ellis argues that ours is a dynamic world consisting of more or less transient objects which are constantly interacting with each other, and whose (...) identities depend on their roles in these processes. Natural objects must behave as they do, because to do otherwise would be contrary to their natures. The laws of nature are, therefore, metaphysically necessary, and consequently, there are necessary connections between events. Brian Ellis calls for the rejection of the theory of Humean Supervenience and an implementation of a new kind of realism in philosophical analysis. (shrink)
Is linguistic meaning to be accounted for independently of the states of mind of language users, or can it only be explained in terms of them? If the latter, what account of the mental states in question avoids circularity? In this book Brian Loar offers a subtle and comprehensive theory that both preserves the natural priority of the mind in explanations of meaning, and gives an independent characterisation of its features. the nature of meaning and its relation to the (...) mind is probably the area of paramount concern among philosophers. The theory presented here, by its reach and substance and the thoroughness and sophistication of its development, makes a major contribution to the debate. (shrink)
Brian Hedden defends a radical view about the relationship between rationality, personal identity, and time. On the standard view, personal identity over time plays a central role in thinking about rationality, because there are rational norms for how a person's attitudes and actions at one time should fit with her attitudes and actions at other times. But these norms are problematic. They make what you rationally ought to believe or do depend on facts about your past that aren't part (...) of your current perspective on the world, and they make rationality depend on controversial, murky metaphysical facts about what binds different instantaneous snapshots into a single person extended in time. Hedden takes a different approach, treating the relationship between different time-slices of the same person as no different from the relationship between different people. On his account, the locus of rationality is the time-slice rather than the temporally extended agent. This impersonal, time-slice-centric approach to rationality yields a unified approach to the rationality of beliefs, preferences, and actions where what rationality demands of you is solely determined by your evidence, with no special weight given to your past beliefs or actions. (shrink)
Although the body has been the focus of much contemporary cultural theory, the models that are typically applied neglect the most salient characteristics of embodied existence—movement, affect, and sensation—in favor of concepts derived from linguistic theory. In _Parables for the Virtual_ Brian Massumi views the body and media such as television, film, and the Internet, as cultural formations that operate on multiple registers of sensation beyond the reach of the reading techniques founded on the standard rhetorical and semiotic models. (...) Renewing and assessing William James’s radical empiricism and Henri Bergson’s philosophy of perception through the filter of the post-war French philosophy of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, Massumi links a cultural logic of variation to questions of movement, affect, and sensation. If such concepts are as fundamental as signs and significations, he argues, then a new set of theoretical issues appear, and with them potential new paths for the wedding of scientific and cultural theory. Replacing the traditional opposition of literal and figural with new distinctions between stasis and motion and between actual and virtual, _Parables for the Virtual _tackles related theoretical issues by applying them to cultural mediums as diverse as architecture, body art, the digital art of Stelarc, and Ronald Reagan’s acting career. The result is an intriguing combination of cultural theory, science, and philosophy that asserts itself in a crystalline and multi-faceted argument. _Parables for the Virtual_ will interest students and scholars of continental and Anglo-American philosophy, cultural studies, cognitive science, electronic art, digital culture, and chaos theory, as well as those concerned with the “science wars” and the relation between the humanities and the sciences in general. (shrink)
Normative Externalism argues that it is not important that people live up to their own principles. What matters, in both ethics and epistemology, is that they live up to the correct principles: that they do the right thing, and that they believe rationally. This stance, that what matters are the correct principles, not one's own principles, has implications across ethics and epistemology. In ethics, it undermines the ideas that moral uncertainty should be treated just like factual uncertainty, that moral ignorance (...) frequently excuses moral wrongdoing, and that hypocrisy is a vice. In epistemology, it suggests we need new treatments of higher-order evidence, and of peer disagreement, and of circular reasoning, and the book suggests new approaches to each of these problems. Although the debates in ethics and in epistemology are often conducted separately, putting them in one place helps bring out their common themes. One common theme is that the view that one should live up to one's own principles looks less attractive when people have terrible principles, or when following their own principles would lead to riskier or more aggressive action than the correct principles. Another common theme is that asking people to live up to their principles leads to regresses. It can be hard to know what action or belief complies with one's principles. And now we can ask, in such a case should a person do what they think their principles require, or what their principles actually require? Both answers lead to problems, and the best way to avoid these problems is to simply say people should follow the correct principles. (shrink)
Brian Skyrms, author of the successful Evolution of the Social Contract has written a sequel. The book is a study of ideas of cooperation and collective action. The point of departure is a prototypical story found in Rousseau's A Discourse on Inequality. Rousseau contrasts the pay-off of hunting hare where the risk of non-cooperation is small but the reward is equally small, against the pay-off of hunting the stag where maximum cooperation is required but where the reward is so (...) much greater. Thus, rational agents are pulled in one direction by considerations of risk and in another by considerations of mutual benefit. Written with Skyrms's characteristic clarity and verve, this intriguing book will be eagerly sought out by students and professionals in philosophy, political science, economics, sociology and evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Espen Hammer’s exceptionally fine book explores modern temporality, its problems and prospects. Hammer claims that how people experience time is a cultural/historical phenomenon, and that there is a peculiarly modern way of experiencing time as a series of present moments each indefinitely leading to the next in an ordered way. Time as measured by the clock is the paradigmatic instance of this sense of time. In this perspective time is quantifiable and forward-looking, and the present is dominated by the future. (...) Hammer argues that this manner of experiencing time provides a way of living that brings with it not only the basis for great successes in technology, but also great costs—specifically, what he calls the problems of transience and of meaning. Hammer goes about his task by considering the ways some of the great modern philosophers have characterized present-day temporality and have responded to the problems he has identified. Specifically, he considers what Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Habermas, Bloch, and Adorno provide in response to our peculiarly modern predicaments. The book is remarkable for its clarity and perceptiveness, but in the process in crucial places it simplifies the matters at hand or fails to push its insights as far as it ought, and in the end promises more than it can deliver. In this it betrays a rationalist confidence in the power of reason that founders on what in many ways remains a mystery. (shrink)
Brian Leiter draws on empirical psychology to defend a set of radical ideas from Nietzsche: there is no objectively true morality, there is no free will, no one is ever morally responsible, and our conscious thoughts play almost no significant role in our actions. Nietzsche emerges as not just a great philosopher but a prescient psychologist.
All major western countries today contain groups that differ in their religious beliefs, customary practices or ideas about the right way in which to live. How should public policy respond to this diversity? In this important new work, Brian Barry challenges the currently orthodox answer and develops a powerful restatement of an egalitarian liberalism for the twenty-first century. Until recently it was assumed without much question that cultural diversity could best be accommodated by leaving cultural minorities free to associate (...) in pursuit of their distinctive ends within the limits imposed by a common framework of laws. This solution is rejected by an influential school of political theorists, among whom some of the best known are William Galston, Will Kymlicka, Bhikhu Parekh, Charles Taylor and Iris Marion Young. According to them, this 'difference-blind' conception of liberal equality fails to deliver either liberty or equal treatment. In its place, they propose that the state should 'recognize' group identities, by granting groups exemptions from certain laws, publicly 'affirming' their value, and by providing them with special privileges or subsidies. In Culture and Equality, Barry offers an incisive critique of these arguments and suggests that theorists of multiculturism tend to misdiagnose the problems of minority groups. Often, these are not rooted in culture, and multiculturalist policies may actually stand in the way of universalistic measures that would be genuinely beneficial. (shrink)
In the preface to his book God the Problem , Gordon Kaufman writes ‘Although the notion of God as agent seems presupposed by most contemporary theologians … Austin Farrer has been almost alone in trying to specify carefully and consistently just what this might be understood to mean.’.
Historically, laws and policies to criminalize drug use or possession were rooted in explicit racism, and they continue to wreak havoc on certain racialized communities. We are a group of bioethicists, drug experts, legal scholars, criminal justice researchers, sociologists, psychologists, and other allied professionals who have come together in support of a policy proposal that is evidence-based and ethically recommended. We call for the immediate decriminalization of all so-called recreational drugs and, ultimately, for their timely and appropriate legal regulation. We (...) also call for criminal convictions for nonviolent offenses pertaining to the use or possession of small quantities of such drugs to be expunged, and for those currently serving time for these offenses to be released. In effect, we call for an end to the “war on drugs.”. (shrink)
We live in a world of crowds and corporations, artworks and artifacts, legislatures and languages, money and markets. These are all social objects — they are made, at least in part, by people and by communities. But what exactly are these things? How are they made, and what is the role of people in making them? In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein rewrites our understanding of the nature of the social world and the foundations of the social sciences. Epstein (...) explains and challenges the three prevailing traditions about how the social world is made. One tradition takes the social world to be built out of people, much as traffic is built out of cars. A second tradition also takes people to be the building blocks of the social world, but focuses on thoughts and attitudes we have toward one another. And a third tradition takes the social world to be a collective projection onto the physical world. Epstein shows that these share critical flaws. Most fundamentally, all three traditions overestimate the role of people in building the social world: they are overly anthropocentric. Epstein starts from scratch, bringing the resources of contemporary metaphysics to bear. In the place of traditional theories, he introduces a model based on a new distinction between the grounds and the anchors of social facts. Epstein illustrates the model with a study of the nature of law, and shows how to interpret the prevailing traditions about the social world. Then he turns to social groups, and to what it means for a group to take an action or have an intention. Contrary to the overwhelming consensus, these often depend on more than the actions and intentions of group members. (shrink)
The rule of law is the most important political ideal today, yet there is much confusion about what it means and how it works. This 2004 book explores the history, politics, and theory surrounding the rule of law ideal, beginning with classical Greek and Roman ideas, elaborating on medieval contributions to the rule of law, and articulating the role played by the rule of law in liberal theory and liberal political systems. The author outlines the concerns of Western conservatives about (...) the decline of the rule of law and suggests reasons why the radical Left have promoted this decline. Two basic theoretical streams of the rule of law are then presented, with an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of each. The book examines the rule of law on a global level, and concludes by answering the question of whether the rule of law is a universal human good. (shrink)
In ‘The ethics of belief and Christian faith as commitment to assumptions’, Rik Peels attacks the views that I advanced in ‘Christianity and the ethics of belief’. Here, I rebut his criticisms of the claim that it is wrong to believe without sufficient evidence, of the contention that Christians are committed to that claim, and of the notion of that faith is not belief but commitment to assumptions in the hope of salvation. My original conclusions still stand.
Almost every country today contains adherents of different religions and different secular conceptions of the good life. Is there any alternative to a power struggle among them, leading most probably to either civil war or repression? The argument of this book is that justice as impartiality offers a solution. According to the theory of justice as impartiality, principles of justice are those principles that provide a reasonable basis for the unforced assent of those subject to them. The object of this (...) book is to set the theory out, explain its rationale, and respond to a variety of criticism that have been made of it. As the second volume of his work-in-progress, A Treatise on Social Justice, this work lies at the heart of a thriving academic debate which the author has played a key role in shaping. (shrink)
Color coded terror alerts, invasion, drone war, rampant surveillance: all manifestations of the type of new power Brian Massumi theorizes in _Ontopower_. Through an in-depth examination of the War on Terror and the culture of crisis, Massumi identifies the emergence of preemption, which he characterizes as the operative logic of our time. Security threats, regardless of the existence of credible intelligence, are now felt into reality. Whereas nations once waited for a clear and present danger to emerge before using (...) force, a threat's felt reality now demands launching a preemptive strike. Power refocuses on what _may_ emerge, as that potential presents itself to feeling. This affective logic of potential washes back from the war front to become the dominant mode of power on the home front as well. This is ontopower—the mode of power embodying the logic of preemption across the full spectrum of force, from the “hard” to the "soft". With _Ontopower_, Massumi provides an original theory of power that explains not only current practices of war but the culture of insecurity permeating our contemporary neoliberal condition. (shrink)
Both an introduction to Nietzsche’s moral philosophy, and a sustained commentary on his most famous work, On the Genealogy of Morality, this book has become the most widely used and debated secondary source on these topics over the past dozen years. Many of Nietzsche’s most famous ideas - the "slave revolt" in morals, the attack on free will, perspectivism, "will to power" and the "ascetic ideal" - are clearly analyzed and explained. The first edition established the centrality of naturalism to (...) Nietzsche’s philosophy, generating a substantial scholarly literature to which Leiter responds in an important new Postscript. In addition, Leiter has revised and refreshed the book throughout, taking into account new scholarly literature, and revising or clarifying his treatment of such topics as the objectivity of value, epiphenomenalism and consciousness, and the possibility of "autonomous" agency. (shrink)
William Hasker replies to my arguments against Social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
In teaching jurisprudence, I typically distinguish between two different families of theories of adjudication—theories of how judges do or should decide cases. “Formalist” theories claim that the law is “rationally” determinate, that is, the class of legitimate legal reasons available for a judge to offer in support of his or her decision justifies one and only one outcome either in all cases or in some significant and contested range of cases ; and adjudication is thus “autonomous” from other kinds of (...) reasoning, that is, the judge can reach the required decision without recourse to nonlegal normative considerations of morality or political philosophy. I also note that “formalism” is sometimes associated with the idea that judicial decision-making involves nothing more than mechanical deduction on the model of the syllogism—Beccaria, for example, expresses such a view. I call the latter “Vulgar Formalism” to emphasize that it is not a view to which anyone today cares to subscribe. (shrink)
Among politicians and policy-makers it is almost universally assumed that more transparency in government is better. Until now, philosophers have almost completely ignored the topic of transparency, and when it is discussed there seems to be an assumption that increased transparency is a good thing, which results in no serious attempt to justify it. In this book Brian Kogelmann shows that the standard narrative is false and that many arguments in defence of transparency are weak. He offers a comprehensive (...) philosophical analysis of transparency in government, examining both abstract normative defences of transparency, and transparency's role in the theory of institutional design. His book shows that even when the arguments in favour of transparency are compelling, the costs associated with it are just as forceful as the original arguments themselves, and that strong arguments can be made in defence of more opaque institutions. (shrink)
For many years essentialism was considered beyond the pale in philosophy, a relic of discredited Aristotelianism. This is no longer so. Kripke and Putnam have made belief in essential natures respectable once more. Harré and Madden have argued against Hume's theory of causation and developed an alternative theory based on the assumption that there are genuine causal powers in nature. Dretske, Tooley, Armstrong, Swoyer, and Carroll have all developed strong alternatives to Hume's theory of the laws of nature. And Shoemaker (...) has developed a thoroughly non-Humean theory of properties. The "new essentialism" has evolved from these beginnings and can now reasonably claim to be a metaphysic for a modern scientific understanding of the world - one that challenges the conception of the world as comprising passive entities whose interactions are to be explained by appeal to contingent laws of nature externally imposed. (shrink)
Where does philosophy, the oldest academic subject, stand at the beginning of the new millennium? This remarkable volume brings together leading figures from most major branches of the discipline to offer answers. What remains of the "linguistic turn" in twentieth-century philosophy? How should moral philosophy respond to and incorporate developments in empirical psychology? Where might Continental and Anglophone feminist theory profitably interact? How has our understanding of ancient philosophy been affected by the emergence of analytic philosophy? Where does the mind-body (...) problem stand today? What role must value judgments play in science? Do Marx, Nietzsche, or Freud matter in the 21st century? These and many other questions at the cutting edge of the discipline are addressed by distinguished philosophers from Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States. They aim not only to stimulate philosophical debate, but to introduce those in cognate disciplines--biology, classics, economics, history, law, linguistics, literary studies, mathematics, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, among others--to what is happening in contemporary philosophy. In a substantial introduction, the editor gives an overview of the state of philosophy today and helps orient non-philosophers. List of Contributors Julia Annas: Ancient Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century Don Garrett: Philosophy and History in the History of Modern Philosophy Brian Leiter: The Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Recovering Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud Timothy Williamson: Past the Linguistic Turn? Jaegwon Kim: The Mind-Body Problem at Century's Turn David J. Chalmers: The Representational Character of Experience Alvin I. Goldman: The Need for Social Epistemology Philip Kitcher: The Ends of the Sciences Nancy Cartwright: From Causation to Explanation and Back Thomas Hurka: Normative Ethics: Back to the Future Peter Railton: Toward an Ethics that Inhabits the World Rae Langton: Projection and Objectification Philip Pettit: Existentialism, Quietism, and the Role of Philosophy. (shrink)
In _What Animals Teach Us about Politics_, Brian Massumi takes up the question of "the animal." By treating the human as animal, he develops a concept of an animal politics. His is not a human politics of the animal, but an integrally animal politics, freed from connotations of the "primitive" state of nature and the accompanying presuppositions about instinct permeating modern thought. Massumi integrates notions marginalized by the dominant currents in evolutionary biology, animal behavior, and philosophy—notions such as play, (...) sympathy, and creativity—into the concept of nature. As he does so, his inquiry necessarily expands, encompassing not only animal behavior but also animal thought and its distance from, or proximity to, those capacities over which human animals claim a monopoly: language and reflexive consciousness. For Massumi, humans and animals exist on a continuum. Understanding that continuum, while accounting for difference, requires a new logic of "mutual inclusion." Massumi finds the conceptual resources for this logic in the work of thinkers including Gregory Bateson, Henri Bergson, Gilbert Simondon, and Raymond Ruyer. This concise book intervenes in Deleuze studies, posthumanism, and animal studies, as well as areas of study as wide-ranging as affect theory, aesthetics, embodied cognition, political theory, process philosophy, the theory of play, and the thought of Alfred North Whitehead. (shrink)
Preface. I. BASICS OF LOGIC. Introduction. The Structure of Simple Statements. The Structure of Complex Statements. Simple and Complex Properties. Validity. 2. PROBABILITY AND INDUCTIVE LOGIC. Introduction. Arguments. Logic. Inductive versus Deductive Logic. Epistemic Probability. Probability and the Problems of Inductive Logic. 3. THE TRADITIONAL PROBLEM OF INDUCTION. Introduction. Hume’s Argument. The Inductive Justification of Induction. The Pragmatic Justification of Induction. Summary. IV. THE GOODMAN PARADOX AND THE NEW RIDDLE OF INDUCTION. Introduction. Regularities and Projection. The Goodman Paradox. The Goodman (...) Paradox, Regularity, and the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature. Summary. 5. MILL’S METHODS OF EXPERIMENTAL INQUIRY AND THE NATURE OF CAUSALITY. Introduction. Causality and Necessary and Sufficient Conditions. Mill’s Methods. The Direct Method of Agreement. The Inverse Method of Agreement. The Method of Difference. The Combined Methods. The Application of Mill’s Methods. Sufficient Conditions and Functional Relationships. Lawlike and Accidental Conditions. 6. THE PROBABILITY CALCULUS. Introduction. Probability, Arguments, Statements, and Properties. Disjunction and Negation Rules. Conjunction Rules and Conditional Probability. Expected Value of a Gamble. Bayes’ Theorem. Probability and Causality. 7. KINDS OF PROBABILITY. Introduction. Rational Degree of Belief. Utility. Ramsey. Relative Frequency. Chance. 8. PROBABILITY AND SCIENTIFIC INDUCTIVE LOGIC. Introduction. Hypothesis and Deduction. Quantity and Variety of Evidence. Total Evidence. Convergence to the Truth. ANSWERS TO SELECTED EXERCISES. INDEX. (shrink)
In "The Philosophy of Nature," Brian Ellis provides a clear and forthright general summation of, and introduction to, the new essentialist position. Although the theory that the laws of nature are immanent in things, rather than imposed on them from without, is an ancient one, much recent work has been done to revive interest in essentialism and "The Philosophy of Nature" is a distinctive contribution to this lively current debate. Brian Ellis exposes the philosophical and scientific credentials of (...) the prevailing Humean metaphysic as less than compelling and makes the case for new essentialism as an alternative metaphysical perspective in lucid and unambiguous terms. This book develops this alternative metaphysic and considers the consequences for philosophy, and for some other areas of investigation, of working with such a metaphysic. Ellis argues that these consequences are profound and that a new essentialism provides a comprehensive new philosophy of nature for a modern scientific understanding of the world. (shrink)
As the author of Justice as Impartiality, I am not ashamed to admit that I was delighted by the liveliness of the discussion generated by it at the meeting on which this symposium is based. I am likewise grateful to the six authors for finding the book worthy of the careful attention that they have bestowed on it. Between them, the symposiasts take up many more points than I can cover in this response. I shall therefore focus on some themes (...) that cluster round the contractual device that I associate with the notion of justice as impartiality. Is it necessary? If it is not necessary is it nevertheless useful? Within an overall contractual framework is the form of contract that I propose uniquely justifiable? And does the form of contract that I defend generate the implications that I claim for it? (shrink)