David Hoy’s book is a readable and generally clear introduction to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and to the contemporary debate surrounding Gadamer’s contribution to the theory of interpretation. Hoy begins with a chapter on a work familiar to American readers and antithetical to Gadamer—E. D. Hirsch’s Validity in Interpretation. Hirsch is shown to be in some respects a follower of the hermeneutics of Schliermacher and Dilthey in that his defense of authorial intention approximates the "empathy" of nineteenth-century hermeneutics. Hoy (...) makes a careful analysis of the problems involved in Hirsch’s distinction between "meaning"—"the meaning of [an author’s] utterance is the meaning he wills to convey" —and significance—the relation between meaning and some other, extra-textual, element or system. Hoy properly questions the view of language inherent in Hirsch’s contention that verbal meaning is entirely determined by an individual will. He notes that Hirsch neglects meaning determined by the semantics of units of text larger than the sentence. Hoy also argues persuasively that Hirsch’s claim to base his meaning/significance distinction in Frege’s opposition between Sinn and Bedeutung constitutes a misreading of Frege, and shows an ambiguity in Hirsch’s conception of the author, sometimes presented as an historical being with a will and intention and at others as the equivalent of the persona or dramatic speaker of the New Critics. (shrink)
Traditional theists are, with few exceptions, global semantic realists about the interpretation of external world statement. Realism of this kind is treated by many as a shibboleth of traditional Christianity, a sine qua non of theological orthodoxy. Yet, this love affair between theists and semantic realism is a poor match. I suggest that everyone (theist or no) has compelling evidence drawn from everyday linguistic practice to reject a realist interpretation of most external world statements. But theists have further reason to (...) forswear this view, because those who insist on global semantic realism open themselves to the charge of hubris of a theologically inappropriate kind. If the arguments in this paper are sound, then neither God nor any of us have reason to apply a realist interpretation to all or even most statements about the external world. (shrink)
How do we acquire knowledge through a sensory input from our environment? In The Enigma of Perception, D.L.C. Maclachlan revives the traditional causal representative theory of perception which dominated philosophical thinking for hundreds of years by revealing the important element of truth the theory contained. The traditional theory was not a complete explanation of perception, because it presupposed a causal system including both the physical objects and the subjective experiences. The pattern of inference from sensations to external objects, which lies (...) at its heart, is nevertheless legitimate, because the assumptions on which it depends are generally recognized as true. The emerging enigma is how to explain this original knowledge of the world on which the traditional theory depends. The key idea is that sense experience is constructed as a response to sensory input - an act whose purpose is to represent a reality beyond the cognitive subject. The Enigma of Perception develops original ideas to explain this process in detail, with help from numerous philosophers from John Locke to David Chalmers. (shrink)
In this thesis I shall summarize and critically examine the central features of the theories of values of four contemporary moral philosophers: A.J. Ayer, C.L. Stevenson, R.M. Hare, and P.H. Nowell - Smith. I shall first look back, however, to the theory of moral philosophy of the most influential 'forefather' of this group, David Hume. Hume's theory stands as a challenge to moral philosophers who would assume that moral judgments are primarily, in some sense, acts of 'reason'. Although our four (...) contemporaries follow Hume in this, his challenge, in the form I shall indicate shortly, will provide the main theme for this thesis. (shrink)
This small anthology contains thirteen essays by eleven authors on the question: What are the defining characteristics of morality? What makes a judgment, an attitude, or an argument a moral one? The selection of articles is excellent. Ethicians included are: C. H. Whitely, A. MacIntyre, W. K. Frankena, C. C. W. Taylor, Neil Cooper, P. F. Strawson, T. L. S. Sprigge, P. Foot, K. Baier, G. E. M. Anscombe, D. F. Gauthier. An obvious objection to the pursuit of a definition (...) would be to suggest, as Whitely does, that there are no defining traits for all uses of "moral" or "morality": one can hope only to find family resemblances in the uses of the words. Others insist that there is a more precise and consistent use of these notions in ordinary language, though there may be different senses of the word moral, each with sufficiently clear defining traits. In a useful introduction that provides a unifying background for the essays, the editors suggest that six chief candidates appear for the role of the leading characteristic of morality: moral rules and principles can be defined by reference to their capacity for universality, their prescriptivity, their overriding force, the importance they have, the forms of sanctions appealed to, or by reference to their content. The authors in their essays do not, of course, define morality simply in terms of any one of these features; but they do stress or deny the importance of each of these features. Students will find this a helpful work, and there is a good bibliography.--R. D. L. (shrink)
This introduction to moral philosophy treats a wide range of theoretical questions and a number of contemporary moral problems. The first chapter discusses the noncognitivism of many analytic ethicians [[sic]], and insists on the possibility of providing correct and interpersonally valid answers to a number of disputed moral issues. Chapter two treats basic issues concerning freedom and moral responsibility; and the third chapter discusses the difficulties raised by the naturalistic fallacy argument. Chapters four and five distinguish the author's "reflective naturalism" (...) from other moral positions. While there is some appeal to Dewey and others in the American naturalist tradition, the author is a naturalist more in the realistic tradition of Thomism. There is some lack of clarity in the exposition of his own basic position because of a desire to associate too closely the naturalism of Thomas with that of Dewey. The practical issues treated are those of sexual morality, of economic life, and political life. These questions are treated intelligently, and enter into lively debate with some leading opponents of a sophisticated and liberal Christian ethical position. But the arguments do not succeed so clearly in presenting themselves as decisively valid answers flowing out of the basic principles of his fundamental position. The final chapter is a critique of the closed, anti-theistic elements of Dewey's naturalism, and an appeal for a naturalism open to theistic influence.--R. D. L. (shrink)
This book is a detailed and challenging brief for the view that Paul Tillich was fundamentally an atheist seeking to convert fellow Christians to the humanistic faith to which he himself was converted in his days as a university student. The "God above God" is simply humanity; and an ultimate concern which is not demonic must be one that is "transparent to humanity," that really amounts to a devotedness to all of humanity. The author does not write this from the (...) viewpoint of a theist protesting Tillich's views, but from that of an atheist rather dubious about the advantages of his method. While the strategic use of ambiguity and obscure symbols is said to have enabled Tillich to work within Christianity for the subversion of belief in any God above man and nature, his work seems oddly to have provided less penetrating readers with motives for retaining their supernatural beliefs. The author is an economist and political scientist, not a philosopher or theologian. Still he has studied Tillich and his sources carefully, and in his study he gives a good survey of the literature about Tillich. In this survey he underlines the interesting point that most orthodox theists find Tillich a believer, but immensely obscure; while most atheistic interpreters find it very clear that Tillich is an atheist. The author does not have an especially subtle understanding of the classical expression of theism. For example, he finds "the crucial question" to be: Does being itself have mental attributes resembling those of a person? But his weaknesses here do not totally invalidate the work: Wheat assigns a very large defensive task to theistic interpreters of Tillich.--R. D. L. (shrink)
For two hundred years, interpreting Kant has been regarded as a truly formidable task. But is the problem philosophical or philological? The answer which constitutes the raison d’être of this volume is that it is both. The introduction refers to “the need for the integration of philology and philosophy into philosophical semantics” and states that “This is also what makes the present undertaking distinctive”.