_Postures of the Mind _was first published in 1985. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. Annette Baier develops, in these essays, a posture in philosophy of mind and in ethics that grows out of her reading of Hume and the later Wittgenstein, and that challenges several Kantian or analytic articles of faith. She questions the assumption that intellect has authority over all (...) human feelings and traditions; that to recognize order we must recognize universal laws—descriptive or prescriptive; that the essential mental activity is representing; and that mental acts can be analyzed into discrete basic elements, combined according to statable rules of synthesis. In the first group of essays—"Varieties of Mental Postures"—Baier evaluates the positions taken by philosophers ranging from Descartes to Dennett and Davidson. Among her topics are remembering, intending, realizing, caring, representing, changing one's mind, justifying one's actions and feelings, and having conflicting reasons for them. The second group of essays—"Varieties of Moral Postures" - explores the sort of morality we get when all of these capacities become reflective and self-corrective. Some deal with particular moral issues—our treatment of animals, our policies regarding risk to human life, our contractual obligations; others, with more general questions on the role of moral philosophers and the place of moral theory. These essays respond to the theories of Hobbes, Kant, Rawls, and MacIntyre, but Baier's most positive reaction is to David Hume; _Postures of the Mind _ affirms and cultivates his version of a moral reflection that employs feeling and tradition as well as reason. (shrink)
Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons is a long, difficult and fascinating book, inside which three shorter, clearer and better books are struggling to get out. The third of these shorter but better books deals with the problem of Future Generations, and that is the book I want to discuss. In it Parfit tries, but fails, to find a theory—Theory X, he calls it—which will deal with various problems and issues which he develops, and in particular the issue which I will (...) call the Parfit Population Problem, the problem of how many people there ought to be. In this paper I offer not so much a theory as a suggestion as to what the solution might be. (shrink)
A reply to hyslop and jackson, American philosophical quarterly, April 1972: I argue that the argument form analogy begs the question, Much as does the inductive justification of induction, Of which it is a version.
Abstract After some preliminary doubts about Kohlberg's method of assessing moral reasoning, his ?stage?structural? theory is criticized under six heads. (1) The claim that the stages constitute structural wholes, representing unified and differentiated patterns of thought: it is argued that the available evidence, and Kohlberg's own methodology, unambiguously implies a developmental continuum, not discrete stage structures. (2) Invariance, which, after counter?evidence led to a revision in the theory, has yet to be demonstrated. (3) Cultural Universality: it is argued that, because (...) of an ambiguity in the notion of a universal principle, Kohlberg's arguments against cultural relativism tend, if anything, to support it. (4) Logical Necessity: it is argued that Kohlberg shows at most that the sequence forms a hierarchy, from which neither its logical nor even its psychological necessity follows. (5) Increasing Cognitive Adequacy, with the associated claim that it is cognitive conflict which produces movement from one stage to another: it is argued that the empirical evidence conflicts with the theoretical claims, and that the theoretical arguments establish, at most, an increase in moral understanding, which could well increase, rather than decrease, cognitive conflict. (6) Increasing Moral Adequacy: this claim is as yet unjustified in any of its three possible interpretations. Finally it is suggested that Kohlbergian theory is in danger of becoming, in Lakatos's terms, a degenerating research programme. (shrink)
R m hare's discussion, In "freedom and reason," fails to distinguish several senses of universalizability. The universalizability in question is not, As hare thinks, That which applies to any judgement with 'descriptive meaning,' and although moral judgements may presuppose principles, These principles need not be universal, Nor 'u-Type,' nor such that they apply to everyone, Nor such that they could be applied to anyone, Nor such that they do except individuals qua individuals--All of which are different. The most that hare (...) shows is that if we make exceptions we must have reasons for making them, Which places no restriction on what these reasons may be. (shrink)
Only a fool would attempt to discuss the morality of strikes in twenty-five pages or less, and even he will fail. For one thing he can be sure in advance that whatever conclusions he might come to will be ridiculed as outrageous, prejudiced or self-serving by one party or the other. There is, in particular, the accusation that the attempt to discuss in moral terms what is essentially a political issue, is itself an exercise in bourgeois politics disguised as morals, (...) their morals but not ours. But there is also, and more worrying to my mind, the sheer complexity of the issues. This complexity is, however, simply unmanageable in the space available, and I have gone instead for the simple story, in the hope that the essentials will stand out that much more clearly. Whether I have got the right essentials, whether the elegance of the picture compensates for its lack of realism, is something that will have to emerge. (shrink)
In this paper I shall be principally concerned with three points arising from Professor Austin's British Academy Lecture on ‘Ifs and Cans’. 1 These points only concern that use of ‘can’ where it is used in the general sense of ‘to be able’ and applied to human beings in respect of actual or possible actions. 2 To some extent, of course, the basic problem is simply what sense of ‘can’ it is which is involved when we talk of possible but (...) not actual human actions, i.e. when we say that a person could do or could have done what he does not or did not do. (shrink)
Abstract Kohlberg's developmental theory of moral reasoning postulates a supremely adequate form of moral thinking to which all other stages are tending, labelled Stage Six. Kohlberg identifies this with a principle of justice, though without adequately justifying the elimination of other autonomous universal principles. The claim that this principle provides consistent, reversible and universalizable moral judgements is criticized: by itself a purely formal principle of justice can provide no particular moral judgements at all; for that we need independent values, such (...) as the value of life which Kohlberg appeals to, but does not justify, in his discussions of the Heinz dilemma. More generally there is no reason to expect that any form of moral reasoning will be supremely adequate in Kohlberg's sense, providing a solution to all moral problems and dilemmas. The principle of justice is merely one among the many specifically moral principles which Kohlberg locats at Stage Five, albeit the one which he personally happens to favour. Perhaps the most striking feature of Lawrence Kohlberg's many accounts of his cognitive?developmental theory of moral reasoning is the crucial importance which he attaches to the form of reasoning labelled Stage Six, when it is a stage of development that only a tiny minority of individuals actually attain. Indeed it appears that even that number has had to be revised downward in the light of changes to the theory and scoring system, until it begins to seem that only a handful of saints and heroes, such as Socrates or Martin Luther King, remain. In fact so slender is the empirical evidence for a separate form of Stage Six reasoning that the official scoring manual (Kohlberg et al., 1977) prefers to ignore it altogether. Clearly, then, the case for Stage Six must be almost wholly theoretical, not to say philosophical, as the supremely adequate form of moral thinking to which all other stages are tending. And by the same token it may seem that criticisms of Kohlberg's claims for Stage Six will leave the rest of the theory untouched. But that, I think, is to underestimate the significance of Stage Six. It is the apogee of his system, providing both a focus and a rationale for the stage?development that allegedly leads to it; it is as crucial to the theory as Kohlberg's own writings make it. Without Stage Six the cognitive?developmental account stands in need of radical re?thinking, to put it no higher. (shrink)
Are there circumstances in which we would be justified in taking one person's life for the sake of others? I am not here concerned with cases of self-defence, or what we might call ‘other-defence’, where one person has to be killed to prevent him taking the lives of others. Nor am I concerned with cases of self-sacrifice, or suicide more generally, or euthanasia; nor with capital punishment, or killing in warfare; nor even, for reasons we shall explore, with abortion. I (...) am concerned with those cases where several people have an equal claim or right to life, the same claim or right which we typically accord to all human beings, but where not all can survive. In short we are faced with a choice, as to who shall live and who shall die. (shrink)
This ‘philosophical biography’ gives an account of Godwin’s life and thought, and by setting his thoughts in the context of his life, brings the two into juxtaposition. It relates Godwin’s views on politics and morality, education and religion, freedom and society, to the events of his life, notably the revolution in France and its impact on radicalism and reaction in Britain and the parliamentary reforms of 1832.
Action is to be distinguished from (mere) bodily movement not by reference to an agent's intentions, or his conscious control of his movements (Sect. I), but by reference to the agent as cause of those movements, though this needs to be understood in a way which destroys the alleged distinction between agent-causation and event-causation (Sect. II). It also raises the question of the relation between an agent and his neurophysiology (Sect. III), and eventually the question of the compatibility of purposive (...) and mechanistic accounts of human behaviour (Sect. IV). For the two to be compatible it is necessary that, e.g., intentions and brain states be not merely co-existent but also causal equivalents, in a way which allows for the mechanical explanation of teleological states — or vice versa. (shrink)