Many philosophers have declared that everything which exists is a particular. There is a weak interpretation of this doctrine which I believe to be a true proposition, and a strong one which I believe to be false.
Moral theories which, like those of Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas, give a central place to the virtues, tend to assume that as traits of character the virtues are mutually compatible so that it is possible for one and the same person to possess them all. This assumption—let us call it the compatibility thesis—does not deny the existence of painful moral dilemmas: it allows that the virtues may conflict in particular situations when considerations associated with different virtues favour incompatible courses of (...) action, but holds that these conflicts occur only at the level of individual actions. Thus while it may not always be possible to do both what would be just and what would be kind or to act both loyally and honestly, it is possible to be both a kind and a just person and to have both the virtue of loyalty and the virtue of honesty. (shrink)
The papers collected in this volume are the proceedings of the 1999 Royal Institute of Philosophy conference: the theme of the conference, the same as the title of this collection, Naturalism, Evolution and Mind. The essays collected here cover a wide array of disparate themes in philosophy, psychology, evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science. They range in subject matter from the mind/body problem and the nature of philosophical naturalism, to the naturalization of psychological norms to the naturalization of phenomenal (...) and intentional content, from the methodology cognitive ethology to issues in evolutionary psychology. They are united by the simple thought that the great promise of current naturalism in philosophy of mind resides in its potential to reveal mental phenomena as continuous with other phenomena of the natural world, particularly with other biological phenomena. (shrink)
It is now some years since Professor D. Daiches Raphael published his interesting book, The Paradox of Tragedy , which represented one of the first serious attempts made by a British philosopher to assess the significance of tragic drama for ethical, and indeed metaphysical theory. Since then we have had a variety of books touching on related topics: for instance, Dr George Steiner's Death of Tragedy and Mr Raymond Williams’ most recent, elusive and interesting essay, Modern Tragedy. To entitle an (...) essay Theology and Tragedy might be thought to invite needless trouble for oneself; to indulge to a dangerous degree the human intellectual obsession of supposing that ‘the meaning of a word is an object’. After all, if one confines one's regard to the Greeks, one has to recognise that between the treatments of their common theme of Electra , Sophocles and Euripides are in fact doing very different things. There is no gainsaying the significance for Euripides of the postponement of the murder of Clytemnestra till after that of Aegisthus, still less of his introduction into the play of the morally upright peasant, who has had the banished Electra in his keeping, and whose simple integrity contrasts both with the corruption of the court and the obsessive preoccupation with a dreadful, supposed duty of brother and sister. The element of propaganda is unmistakable; while in Sophocles’ Electra it is altogether absent, although Dr Victor Ehrenberg in his very interesting monograph on Sophocles and Pericles has argued strongly for an element of subtle political commentary in the treatment of Oedipus in the Oedipus Tyrannus , and of Pocreon in the Antigone. These remarks may serve to show that the title does not express a blind indifference to the multiple complexity of those works which we class together as tragedies. They are inherently complex, and various in emphasis; at best we can discern a family resemblance between them, and, in an essay like this, the author runs the risk not only of selecting examples tailor-made to his thesis, but also of imposing an appearance of similarity of conception where it is at least equally important to stress differences. (shrink)
In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...) rigorously this-worldly account of the most general features of reality, argued from a distinctive philosophical perspective, and it will appeal to a wide readership in analytical philosophy. (shrink)
It was in 1792 that Kant published the first Book of his most important single work on the philosophy of religion— Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. But it was his very interesting treatment of the biblical material in the second Book that involved the philosopher in his one serious conflict with official authority. Greene and Hudson give a good account of this conflict and its effect on the work as a whole in the introduction to their translation of (...) Religion in the Harper Torchbook Series. (shrink)
Truths are determined not by what we believe, but by the way the world is. Or so realists about truth believe. Philosophers call such theories correspondence theories of truth. Truthmaking theory, which now has many adherents among contemporary philosophers, is the most recent development of a realist theory of truth, and in this book D. M. Armstrong offers the first full-length study of this theory. He examines its applications to different sorts of truth, including contingent truths, modal truths, truths about (...) the past and the future, and mathematical truths. In a clear, even-handed and non-technical discussion he makes a compelling case for truthmaking and its importance in philosophy. His book marks a significant contribution to the debate and will be of interest to a wide range of readers working in analytical philosophy. (shrink)
Breaking new ground in the debate about the relation of mind and body, David Armstrong's classic text - first published in 1968 - remains the most compelling and comprehensive statement of the view that the mind is material or physical. In the preface to this new edition, the author reflects on the book's impact and considers it in the light of subsequent developments. He also provides a bibliography of all the key writings to have appeared in the materialist debate.
The purpose of this article should become plain during the reading of it, but perhaps some prior explanation is needed. Almost from the beginning of my study of the paṭiccasamuppāda I have had the notion that it could not have come into existence in the form the usual twelvefold formulation takes. For reasons which I try to make clear this twelvefold formulation is not a satisfactory statement of what it is supposed to explain, namely the reasons for each individual's continued (...) rebirths. I feel - and sadly I have to emphasize, before someone else does it for me, that in the final analysis I am relying more or less on intuition for my attitude towards the twelvefold formulation - that if one person alone had been responsible for the usually referred to formulation, and especially if that one person had been the Buddha, then those anomalies that now prevail would never have existed. (shrink)
In an article contributed to Mind in 1934, the young A. J. Ayer declared war on metaphysics, claiming that his destruction of the metaphysicians' arguments rested on the establishment of the sheerly non-sensical character of their statements. Their errors were syntactical; the combination of symbols in the sentences with which they expressed their propositions violated fundamental principles of significance.
In this short text, a distinguished philosopher turns his attention to one of the oldest and most fundamental philosophical problems of all: How it is that we are able to sort and classify different things as being of the same natural class? Professor Armstrong carefully sets out six major theories—ancient, modern, and contemporary—and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each. Recognizing that there are no final victories or defeats in metaphysics, Armstrong nonetheless defends a traditional account of universals as the (...) most satisfactory theory we have.This study is written for advanced students, but as Armstrong goes considerably beyond his earlier work on this topic, it will interest professional scholars as well. Carefully plotted and clearly written, Universals is both a paradigm of exposition and a case study on the value of careful analysis of fundamental issues in philosophy. (shrink)
The central insight of Darwin's Origin of Species is that evolution is an ecological phenomenon, arising from the activities of organisms in the 'struggle for life'. By contrast, the Modern Synthesis theory of evolution, which rose to prominence in the twentieth century, presents evolution as a fundamentally molecular phenomenon, occurring in populations of sub-organismal entities - genes. After nearly a century of success, the Modern Synthesis theory is now being challenged by empirical advances in the study of organismal development and (...) inheritance. In this important study, D. M. Walsh shows that the principal defect of the Modern Synthesis resides in its rejection of Darwin's organismal perspective, and argues for 'situated Darwinism': an alternative, organism-centred conception of evolution that prioritises organisms as adaptive agents. His book will be of interest to scholars and advanced students of evolutionary biology and the philosophy of biology. (shrink)
A wide-ranging study of the central concepts in epistemology - belief, truth and knowledge. Professor Armstrong offers a dispositional account of general beliefs and of knowledge of general propositions. Belief about particular matters of fact are described as structures in the mind of the believer which represent or 'map' reality, while general beliefs are dispositions to extend the 'map' or introduce casual relations between portions of the map according to general rules. 'Knowledge' denotes the reliability of such beliefs as representations (...) of reality. Within this framework Professor Armstrong offers a distinctive account of many of the main questions in general epistemology - the relations between beliefs and language, the notions of proposition, concept and idea, the analysis of truth, the varieties of knowledge, and the way in which beleifs and knowledge are supported by reasons. The book as a whole if offered as a contribution to a naturalistic account of man. (shrink)
Dispositions are essential to our understanding of the world. IDispositions: A Debate is an extended dialogue between three distinguished philosophers - D.M. Armstrong, C.B. Martin and U.T. Place - on the many problems associated with dispositions, which reveals their own distinctive accounts of the nature of dispositions. These are then linked to other issues such as the nature of mind, matter, universals, existence, laws of nature and causation.
This is a collection of twenty-five papers and reviews by the leading analytic philosopher of our time. It adds to the papers on metaphysics and epistemology to be found in his previous two-volume collection published by Oxford University Press. One previously unpublished paper—“Why Conditionalize?”—is included. Australasian philosophers may note with some pride that eleven of the pieces were first published in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Using 94 published empirical articles in academic journals as a data base, this paper provides a critical review of the methodology employed in the study of ethical beliefs and behavior of organizational members. The review revealed that full methodological detail was provided in less than one half of the articles. Further, the majority of empirical research articles expressed no concern for the reliability or validity of measures, were characterized by low response rates, used convenience samples, and did not offer a (...) theoretic framework, hypotheses, or a definition of ethics. Several recommendations, including a reviewer rating form addressing methodological decisions and inclusion of methodologists on the review panel, are offered to improve methodological rigor in published ethics research. (shrink)
According to historical theories of biological function, a trait's function is determined by natural selection in the past. I argue that, in addition to historical functions, ahistorical functions ought to be recognized. I propose a theory of biological function which accommodates both. The function of a trait is the way it contributes to fitness and fitness can only be determined relative to a selective regime. Therefore, the function of a trait can only be specified relative to a selective regime. Apart (...) from its desirable pluralism, only this view of relational function can support the function/accident and function/malfunction distinctions commonly thought to be part of the concept of function. Furthermore, only relational function correctly characterizes the explanatory consequences of function attributions in evolutionary biology. (shrink)
The most compelling extant accounts of explanation casts all explanations as causal. Yet there are sciences, theoretical population biology in particular, that explain their phenomena by appeal to statistical, non-causal properties of ensembles. I develop a generalised account of explanation. An explanation serves two functions: metaphysical and cognitive. The metaphysical function is discharged by identifying a counterfactually robust invariance relation between explanans event and explanandum. The cognitive function is discharged by providing an appropriate description of this relation. I offer examples (...) of explanations from portfolio theory and population genetics that meet this characterisation. In each case the invariance relation holds between a statistical property of an ensemble and a change in structure of the ensemble. In neither case, however, does the statistical property cause the outcome it explains. There are genuine statistical, non-causal scientific explanations. (shrink)
Argues that a set is the mereological whole of the singleton sets of its members (following Lewis's Parts of Classes), and that the singleton set of X is the state of affairs of X's having some unit-making property.