There is a strong tendency in the scholarly and sub-scholarly literature on terrorism to treat it as something like an ideology. There is an equally strong tendency to treat it as always immoral. Both tendencies go hand in hand with a considerable degree of unclarity about the meaning of the term ‘terrorism’. I shall try to dispel this unclarity and I shall argue that the first tendency is the product of confusion and that once this is understood, we can see, (...) in the light of a more definite analysis of terrorism, that the second tendency raises issues of inconsistency, and even hypocrisy. Finally, I shall make some tentative suggestions about what categories of target may be morally legitimate objects of revolutionary violence, and I shall discuss some lines of objection to my overall approach. (shrink)
Our trust in the word of others is often dismissed as unworthy, because the illusory ideal of "autonomous knowledge" has prevailed in the debate about the nature of knowledge. Yet we are profoundly dependent on others for a vast amount of what any of us claim to know. Coady explores the nature of testimony in order to show how it might be justified as a source of knowledge, and uses the insights that he has developed to challenge certain widespread assumptions (...) in the areas of history, law, mathematics, and psychology. (shrink)
Although there are many different philosophical hares that could be started by the use of the term ‘historical fact’ I am interested in pursuing one that is related to the historian's attitude to testimony. By way of preliminary, however, I should say something about my use of the word ‘fact’. A contrast that sets off my use best is probably that between fact and theory. This distinction is at once methodological and epistemological in that it concerns the structure of inquiry (...) as well as the structure of secure belief. As far as inquiry is concerned it is plausible to suppose that an investigation begins with a problem or a puzzle, the delineation of which requires certain data in the form of propositions that are known to be true, or are taken for granted or commonly agreed upon as sufficiently secure to provide a grounding for the inquiry. It is to cover such data that I am using the word ‘fact’ and hence it will not refer to just any true proposition. Theories however stand as the outcome of inquiry and involve generality and inference and classification in a way that facts do not. It is interesting that the term ‘datum’ came into use in English at the same time that the word ‘fact’, which had meant ‘a deed or action’, acquired the sort of meaning that interests me here. (shrink)
Hume's doctrine of natural belief allows that certain beliefs are justifiably held by all men without regard to the quality of the evidence which may be produced in their favour. Examples are belief in an external world and belief in the veracity of our senses. According to R. J. Butler, Hume argues in the Dialogues that belief in God is of this sort. More recently John Hick has argued that for some people it is as natural to believe in God (...) as to believe in an external world. I shall first inquire what Hume understands by reasonable belief and by natural belief. I shall then use the results of this investigation to argue, against Butler, that belief in God is not a natural belief; and against Hick, more briefly, that his thesis is not viable in as far as it depends upon Hume's doctrine of natural belief. These discussions are important to the philosophy of religion since by means of natural beliefs it could be urged that belief in God is something justifiable without reference to reason or evidence: a position which would be of immense value to the theist. (shrink)
Dr Ian Ramsey has made considerable use of the word ‘disclosure’ in what he has to say about religion and in his attempts to give an account of the meaning of religious language. He sometimes speaks of ‘discernment’ or ‘insight’ but ‘disclosure’ is the word he normally favours. In what follows I shall ask: what a disclosure is, to what extent Dr Ramsey's use of the notion leads to confusions, and what questions have to be faced in order to resolve (...) these confusions. (shrink)
This book presents a clear and critical view of the orthodox logical empiricist tradition, pointing the way to significant developments for the understanding of science both as research and as culture.
Peter Geach supports his case that the religion of Thomas Hobbes was both genuine and a version of Socinianism principally by comparing the theological and scriptural sections of Leviathan with the main doctrines of Socinianism and its latter-day developments in Unitarianism and Christadelphianism. He pays particular attention to comparisons with the Racovian Catechism, the theological writings of Joseph Priestley and the Christadelphian document Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts.
The ‘beautiful axiom’ to which Dickens refers is a central feature of Thomas Hobbes' thinking but its precise role in his moral philosophy remains unclear. I shall here attempt both to dispel the unclarity and to evaluate the adequacy of the position that emerges. Given the high level of contemporary interest in Hobbes' thought, both within and beyond philosophical circles, this is an enterprise of considerable importance. None the less, my interest is not merely interpretative, since the assessment of Hobbes' (...) attitude to ‘the beautiful axiom’ raises important and difficult questions about what might be termed the preconditions of morality. (shrink)
In an article in Philosophy R. G. Swinburne set out to argue that none of Hume's formal objections to the design argument ‘have any validity against a carefully articulated version of the argument’ . This, he maintained, is largely because Hume's criticisms ‘are bad criticisms of the argument in any form’ . The ensuing controversy between Swinburne and Olding 1 has focused upon the acceptable/unacceptable aspects of the dualism presupposed in Swinburne's defence of the design argument; upon whether any simplification (...) is achieved by reducing scientific explanation to agent explanation; and upon the problems which arise from taking a man's acting upon his body as the analogy for understanding a disembodied agent acting upon matter. In this article I shall refer to the Swinburne-Olding controversy when appropriate but my main concern is to return to Swinburne's original article and argue, seriatim , that Hume's individual criticisms of the design argument are for the most part a great deal more powerful than Swinburne allowed. I shall contend that cumulatively they destroy the design argument as any sort of rational foundation for theistic belief. But first I shall indicate briefly the character of the argument together with one or two of the distinctions and refinements in terms of which it has been found helpful to carry on the discussion in recent years. (shrink)
Da Costa and French explore the consequences of adopting a 'pragmatic' notion of truth in the philosophy of science. Their framework sheds new light on issues to do with belief, theory acceptance, and the realism-antirealism debate, as well as the nature of scientific models and their heuristic development.
In the past thirty years, two fundamental issues have emerged in the philosophy of science. One concerns the appropriate attitude we should take towards scientific theories--whether we should regard them as true or merely empirically adequate, for example. The other concerns the nature of scientific theories and models and how these might best be represented. In this ambitious book, da Costa and French bring these two issues together by arguing that theories and models should be regarded as partially rather than (...) wholly true. They adopt a framework that sheds new light on issues to do with belief, theory acceptance, and the realism-antirealism debate. The new machinery of "partial structures" that they develop offers a new perspective from which to view the nature of scientific models and their heuristic development. Their conclusions will be of wide interest to philosophers and historians of science. (shrink)
Would the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life conflict in any way with Christian belief? We identify six areas of potential conflict. If there be no conflict in any of these areas—and we argue ultimately there is not—we are confident in declaring that there is no conflict, period. This conclusion underwrites the integrity of theological explorations into the existence of ETI, which has become a topic of increasing interest among theologians in recent years.
To mathematicians, mathematics is a happy game, to scientists a mere tool and to philosophers a Platonic mystery - or so the caricature runs. The caricature reflects the alleged 'cultural gap' between the disciplines a gap for which there too often has been, sadly, sound historical evidence. In many minds the lack of communication between philosophy and the exact disciplines is especially prominent. Yet in the past there was no separation - exact knowledge, covering both scientists and mathemati cians, was (...) known as natural philosophy and the business of providing a critical view of the nature of reality and an accurate mathematical de scription of it constituted a single task from the glorious tradition begun by the early Greek philosophers even up until Newton's day (but I am thinking of Descartes and Leibniz I). The lack of communication between these professional groups has been particularly unfortunate, for the past half century has seen the most ex citing developments in mathematical physics since Newton. These devel opments hinged on the introduction of vast new reaches of mathematics into physics (non-Euclidean geometries, covariant formulations, non commutative algebras, functional analysis and so on) and conversely have challenged mathematicians to develop the appropriate mathematical fields. Equally, these developments have posed profound philosophical problems to do with the rejection of traditional conceptions concerning the nature of physical reality and physical theorising. (shrink)
Political violence in the form of wars, insurgencies, terrorism and violent rebellion constitutes a major human challenge. C. A. J. Coady brings a philosophical and ethical perspective as he places the problems of war and political violence in the frame of reflective ethics. In this book, Coady re-examines a range of urgent problems pertinent to political violence against the background of a contemporary approach to just war thinking. The problems examined include: the right to make war and conduct war, terrorism, (...) revolution, humanitarianism, mercenary warriors, the ideal of peace and the right way to end war. Coady attempts to vindicate the contemporary relevance of the just war tradition to current problems without applying the tradition in a merely mechanical or uncritical fashion. (shrink)
Although the concept of psychopathy retains its currency in British psychiatry, apparently being meaningful as well as useful to practitioners (1), it is often taken to refer to a purely legal category with social control functions rather than a medical diagnosis with treatment implications. I wish, in this brief article, to suggest that it is essentially, and most usefully, an ethical category which stands outside the diagnostic framework of present-day psychiatry.
In this response to Jonny Anomaly’s ‘Is Obesity a Public Health Problem?’ I argue, contra the author that public health actually increases individuals’ abilities to choose actions that further their health goals, specifically in the case of obesity. The intractability of obesity as an individual medical problem combined with the health benefits of modest (5–10 per cent of body weight) weight loss suggest that public health measures helping people make small changes in eating habits improve population health. I argue that (...) such measures are available to public health via behavioral economic research and policy proposals from libertarian paternalists. I respond to author’s claim that obesity does not constitute a public health problem because: (i) it is not an epidemic and (ii) obesity reduction is not a public good. I argue that epidemic status is not required for classification as a public health problem, but that obesity does have the status of an epidemic. I also point out flaws in author’s reasoning about obesity, public health and social costs. I conclude by suggesting that public health, in partnership with stakeholders and other areas of government, is poised to help create conditions for modest weight loss and increased population health overall. (shrink)
I argue that beliefs about what appears possible are justified in much the same way as beliefs about what appears actual. I do so by chisholming, and then modalizing, the epistemic principle associated with phenomenal conservatism. The principle is tested against a number of examples, and it gives the intuitively correct results. I conclude by considering how it can be used to defend two controversial modal arguments, a Cartesian argument for dualism and an ontological argument for the existence of God.