I argue that some important elements of the current cosmological model are 'conventionalist’ in the sense defined by Karl Popper. These elements include dark matter and dark energy; both are auxiliary hypotheses that were invoked in response to observations that falsified the standard model as it existed at the time. The use of conventionalist stratagems in response to unexpected observations implies that the field of cosmology is in a state of 'degenerating problemshift’ in the language of Imre Lakatos. I show (...) that the 'concordance’ argument, often put forward by cosmologists in support of the current paradigm, is weaker than the convergence arguments that were made in the past in support of the atomic theory of matter or the quantization of energy. (shrink)
Paul Feyerabend argued that theories can be faced with experimental anomalies whose refuting character can only be recognized by developing alternatives to the theory. The alternate theory must explain the experimental results without contrivance and it must also be supported by independent evidence. I show that the situation described by Feyerabend arises again and again in experiments or observations that test the postulates in the standard cosmological model relating to dark matter. The alternate theory is Milgrom’s modified dynamics. I discuss (...) three examples: the failure to detect dark-matter particles in laboratory experiments; the lack of evidence for dark-matter sub-haloes and the dwarf galaxies that are postulated to inhabit them; and the failure to confirm the predicted orbital decay of Milky Way satellite galaxies and other systems due to dynamical friction against the dark matter. In each case, Feyerabend’s criterion directs us to interpret the experimental or observational results as an indirect refutation of the standard cosmological model in favor of Milgrom’s theory. (shrink)
Openness and transparency are becoming hallmarks of responsible data practice in science and governance. Concerns about data falsification, erroneous analysis, and misleading presentation of research results have recently strengthened the call for new procedures that ensure public accountability for data-driven decisions. Though we generally count ourselves in favor of increased transparency in data practice, this Commentary highlights a caveat. We suggest that legislative efforts that invoke the language of data transparency can sometimes function as “Trojan Horses” through which other political (...) goals are pursued. Framing these maneuvers in the language of transparency can be strategic, because approaches that emphasize open access to data carry tremendous appeal, particularly in current political and technological contexts. We illustrate our argument through two examples of pro-transparency policy efforts, one historical and one current: industry-backed “sound science” initiatives in the 1990s, and contemporary legislative efforts to open environmental data to public inspection. Rules that exist mainly to impede science-based policy processes weaponize the concept of data transparency. The discussion illustrates that, much as Big Data itself requires critical assessment, the processes and principles that attend it—like transparency—also carry political valence, and, as such, warrant careful analysis. (shrink)
In this paper I examine and reply to a deflationary challenge brought against virtue ethics. The challenge comes from critics who are impressed by recent psychological evidence suggesting that much of what we take to be virtuous conduct is in fact elicited by narrowly specific social settings, as opposed to being the manifestation of robust individual character. In answer to the challenge, I suggest a conception of virtue that openly acknowledges the likelihood of its deep, ongoing dependence upon particular social (...) relationships and settings. I argue that holding this conception will indeed cause problems for some important strands of thought in virtue ethics, most notably in the tradition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. But an approach to virtue ethics modeled on David Hume's treatment of virtue and character in A Treatise of Human Nature promises to escape these problems. (shrink)
In a recent article Merritt has claimed that current observational data provide “severe tests” falsifying the standard cosmological model. Based on Popper’s idea of conventionalism, he concludes that the introduction of some essential components of the standard cosmological model—including dark matter and dark energy—are a consequence of conventionalist stratagems. In this article, I provide more recent discoveries and discussions showing that the standard cosmological model is not built on any conventionalist stratagem.
It is easy to overlook the fact that the kind of personalist criticism Brower, Wimsatt, and other New Critics were reacting against was a method of interpretation bequeathed by the nineteenth century which most of us would now regard as naïve, simplistic, and sometimes absurd. With the exception of a few poems such as Browning's dramatic monologues, which provided the speaker with an explicit identity as unmistakable as that of a character in a play—"I am poor brother Lippo, by your (...) leave! / You need not clap your torches to my face"—lyric and didactic poems of the first person were invariably treated as personal statements. The voice, emotions, attitudes, and state of mind of the speaker were those of the poet, and even the most symbolic details were often read as literal aspects of the poet's self or environment. Many critical studies and anthologies remain today on library shelves testifying to the persistence of these critical habits of the late 1940s and 1950s. On the assumption that Rochester's love poems describe his actual sexual experiences, Vivian de Sola Pinto was able to write a much longer biography of the poet than would have been possible if personalist criticism had not been in vogue.1 David Nichol Smith could assert that Dryden's Religio Laici "was wholly spontaneous"—the familiar Romantic criterion - and show the poet arguing out "his problems for the peace of his own mind."2 If it became unfashionable to speak in that manner of these and numerous other poems, it was because the New Critics, along with the Chicago critics, had shown convincingly that a lyric poem can be dramatic, the imitation of a fictitious speaker responding to an imagined situation, and that a didactic poem can deal with public issues instead of private agonies. · 1. See Vivian de Sola Pinto, Rochester: Portrait of a Restoration Poet .· 2. David Nichol Smith, John Dryden , p. 61. Phillip Harth is Merritt Y. Hughes Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is the author of Swift and Anglican Rationalism and Contexts of Dryden's Thought. (shrink)
In 'How Many Lives Has Schrödinger's Cat?' David Lewis argues that the Everettian no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is in a tangle when it comes to probabilities. This paper aims to show that the difficulties that Lewis raises are insubstantial. The Everettian metaphysics contains a coherent account of probability. Indeed it accounts for probability rather better than orthodox metaphysics does.
This classic edition presents the correspondence of one of the great thinkers of the 18th century, and offers a rich picture of the man and his age. This first volume contains David Hume's letters from 1727 to 1765. Hume's correspondents include such famous public figures as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, James Boswell, and Benjamin Franklin.
It is widely assumed that the normativity of conceptual judgement poses problems for naturalism. Thus John McDowell urges that 'The structure of the space of reasons stubbornly resists being appropriated within a naturalism that conceives nature as the realm of law' (1994, p 73). Similar sentiments have been expressed by many other writers, for example Robert Brandom (1994, p xiii) and Paul Boghossian (1989, p 548).
My project is to reconsider the Kantian conception of practical reason. Some Kantians think that practical reasoning must be more active than theoretical reasoning, on the putative grounds that such reasoning need not contend with what is there anyway, independently of its exercise. Behind that claim stands the thesis that practical reason is essentially efficacious. I accept the efficacy principle, but deny that it underwrites this inference about practical reason. My inquiry takes place against the background of recent Kantian metaethical (...) debate — each side of which, I argue, correctly points to issues that need to be jointly accommodated in the Kantian account of practical reason. The constructivist points to the essential efficacy of practical reason, while the realist claims that any genuinely cognitive exercise of practical reason owes allegiance to what is there anyway, independently of its exercise. I argue that a Kantian account of respect for persons (“recognition respect”) suggests how the two claims might be jointly accommodated. The result is an empirical moral realism that is itself neutral on the received Kantian metaethical debate. (shrink)
On May, 1996, two of the journalism profession's best known and most articulate speakers spent 90 minutes in what was billed as a Heavyweight Bout. The subject was public journalism; The audience, a Society of Professiona1 Journalists regional conference; the venue, Macon, Georgia.
David and Mary Norton present the definitive scholarly edition of Hume's Treatise, one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. This set comprises the two volumes of texts and editorial material, which are also available for purchase separately. -/- David Hume (1711 - 1776) is one of the greatest of philosophers. Today he probably ranks highest of all British philosophers in terms of influence and philosophical standing. His philosophical work ranges across morals, the mind, metaphysics, epistemology, religion, and (...) aesthetics; he had broad interests not only in philosophy as it is now conceived but in history, politics, economics, religion, and the arts. He was a master of English prose. -/- The Clarendon Hume Edition will include all of his works except his History of England and minor historical writings. It is the only thorough critical edition, and will provide a far more extensive scholarly treatment than any previous editions. This edition (which has been in preparation since the 1970s) offers authoritative annotation, bibliographical information, and indexes, and draws upon the major advances in textual scholarship that have been made since the publication of earlier editions - advances both in the understanding of editorial principle and practice and in knowledge of the history of Hume's own texts. (shrink)
The priority view has become very popular in moral philosophy, but there is a serious question about how it should be formalized. The most natural formalization leads to ex post prioritarianism, which results from adding expected utility theory to the main ideas of the priority view. But ex post prioritarianism entails a claim which is too implausible for it to be a serious competitor to utilitarianism. In fact, ex post prioritarianism was probably never a genuine alternative to utilitarianism in the (...) first place. By contrast, ex ante prioritarianism is defensible. But its motivation is very different from the usual rationales offered for the priority view. Given the untenability of ex post prioritarianism, it is more natural for most friends of the priority view to revert to utilitarianism. (shrink)
Moral realism and antirealist-expressivism are of course incompatible positions. They disagree fundamentally about the nature of moral states of mind, the existence of moral states of affairs and properties, and the nature and role of moral discourse. The central realist view is that a person who has or expresses a moral thought is thereby in, or thereby expresses, a cognitive state of mind; she has or expresses a belief that represents a moral state of affairs in a way that might (...) be accurate or inaccurate. The view of antirealist-expressivism is that such a person is in, or expresses, a conative state of mind, one that consists in a certain kind of attitude or motivational stance toward something, such as an action or a person. Realism holds that moral thoughts have truth conditions and that in some cases these truth conditions are satisfied so that our moral thoughts are true. Antirealist-expressivism holds, to a first approximation, that the distinctive moral content of a moral thought does not have truth conditions. (shrink)
I reconsider the relation between love and respect in Kantian ethics, taking as my guide Iris Murdoch's view of love as the fundamental moral attitude and a kind of attention to individuals. It is widely supposed that Kantian ethics disregards individuals, since we don't respect individuals but the universal quality of personhood they instantiate. We need not draw this conclusion if we recognise that Kant and Murdoch share a view about the centrality of love to virtue. We can then see (...) that respect in the virtuous person cannot be blind to the individual, as critics of Kantian ethics contend. My approach contrasts recent efforts to assimilate Kantian respect to Murdochian love, which overlook Murdoch's distinctive claims about the singularity of moral activity. This idea is not as un-Kantian as it seems, and it should inform any Kantian ethics that aims to address the charge about individuals. (shrink)
There can be no doubt that Kant thought we should be reflective: we ought to care to make up our own minds about how things are and what is worth doing. Philosophical objections to the Kantian reflective ideal have centred on concerns about the excessive control that the reflective person is supposed to exert over her own mental life, and Kantians who feel the force of these objections have recently drawn attention to Kant’s conception of moral virtue as it is (...) developed in his later work, chiefly the Metaphysics of Morals. Melissa Merritt’s book is a distinctive contribution to this recent turn to virtue in Kant scholarship. Merritt argues that we need a clearer, and textually more comprehensive, account of what reflection is, in order not only to understand Kant’s account of virtue, but also to appreciate how it effectively rebuts long-standing objections to the Kantian reflective ideal. (shrink)
Does morality override self-interest? Or does self-interest override morality? These questions become important in situations where there is conflict between the overall verdicts of morality and self-interest, situations where morality on balance requires an action that is contrary to our self-interest, or where considerations of self-interest on balance call for an action that is forbidden by morality. In situations of this kind, we want to know what we ought simpliciter to do. If one of these standpoints over-rides the other, then (...) there is a straightforward answer. We ought simpliciter to act on the verdict of the overriding standpoint. For purposes of this essay, I assume that there are possible cases in which the overall verdicts of morality and self-interest conflict. I will call cases of this kind “conflict cases.” The verdict of morality in a conflict case would be a proposition as to what we ought morally to do, or as to what we have the most moral reason to do; the verdict of self-interest would be a proposition as to what we ought to do in our self-interest, or as to what action is best supported by reasons or considerations of self-interest. These propositions are action-guiding or normative in a familiar sense. The conflict between morality and self-interest in conflict cases is there-fore a normative conflict; it is a conflict between the overall verdicts of different normative standpoints. I take it that the question of whether morality overrides self-interest is the question of whether the verdicts of morality are normatively more important than the verdicts of self-interest. In due course, I will explain the idea of normative importance as well as the ideas of a normative proposition and of a reason. (shrink)
David and Mary Norton present the definitive scholarly edition of Hume's Treatise, one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. This volume contains their account of how the Treatise was written and published; an explanation of how they established the text; an extensive set of annotations; and a detailed bibliography and index.
A collection of 14 essays honoring the life and work of Oxford philosopher Wiggins touching on topics from ancient philosophy to ethics, metaphysics and the theory of meaning. The contributing scholars debate many of the seminal issues of Wiggins' work, including the determinancy of distinctness, relative identity, naturalism in ethics, logic and truth in moral judgments, and the practical wisdom of Aristotle. The collection uniquely features replies by Wiggins to each of the papers. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, (...) OR. (shrink)
Consequentialism is often criticized for failing to accommodate impersonal constraints and personal options. A common consequentialist response is to acknowledge the anticonsequentialist intuitions but to argue either that the consequentialist can, after all, accommodate the allegedly recalcitrant intuitions or that, where accommodation is impossible, the recalcitrant intuition can be dismissed for want of an adequate philosophical rationale. Whereas these consequentialist responses have some plausibility, associational duties represent a somewhat different challenge to consequentialism, inasmuch as they embody neither impersonal constraints nor (...) personal options, but rather personal constraints. Our intuitions about associational duties resist capture within the intellectual net of consequentialism, and such duties do admit of a philosophical rationale at least as plausible as anything the consequentialist has to offer. (shrink)
Abstract: My aim is to reconstruct Kant's argument for the principle of the synthetic unity of apperception. I reconstruct Kant's argument in stages, first showing why thinking should be conceived as an activity of synthesis (as opposed to attention), and then showing why the unity or coherence of a subject's representations should depend upon an a priori synthesis. The guiding thread of my account is Kant's conception of enlightenment: as I suggest, the philosophy of mind advanced in the Deduction belongs (...) to an enlightenment epistemology. Kant's conception of enlightenment turns on the requirement that a subject be able to recognize herself as the source of her cognitions. The argument for the apperception principle is reconstructed under the guidance of this conception of the ideal of enlightenment. (shrink)
Jon Elster reports that in 1940, and again in 1970, the U.S. draft lottery was challenged for falling short of the legally mandated ‘random selection’. On both occasions, the physical mixing of the lots appeared to be incomplete, since the birth dates were clustered in a way that would have been extremely unlikely if the lots were fully mixed. There appears to have been no suspicion on either occasion that the deficiency in the mixing was intended, known, or believed to (...) favor or disfavor any identifiable group. If the selection was non-random in the way charged, Elster asks, was it unfair? (shrink)
David and Mary Norton present the definitive scholarly edition of Hume's Treatise, one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. This second volume contains their historical account of how the Treatise was written and published; an explanation of how they have established the text; an extensive set of annotations which illuminate Hume's texts; and a comprehensive bibliography and index.
The question I shall attempt to address in what follows is an essentially historical one, namely: Why did analytic philosophy emerge first in Cambridge, in the hands of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, and as a direct consequence of their revolutionary rejection of the philosophical tenets that form the basis of British Idealism? And the answer that I shall try to defend is: it didn't. That is to say, the ‘analytic’ doctrines and methods which Moore and Russell embraced in (...) the very last years of the nineteenth century were not revolutionary, did not emerge first in Cambridge, were the creation of neither Russell nor Moore and cannot be explained by appeal to facts concerning British Idealism. The adoption of the doctrines and methods which characterised the earliest manifestations of British analytic philosophy are to be explained neither by reference to anything specifically British, nor by appeal to anything unproblematically philosophical. Or so I shall argue. (shrink)
Criticized as a nostalgic anachronism by those who oppose her version of political theory and lauded as symbol of direct democratic participation by those who favor it, the Athenian polis features prominently in Hannah Arendt's account of politics. This essay traces the origin and development of Arendt's conception of the polis as a space of appearance from the early 1950s onward. It makes particular use of the Denktagebuch, Arendt's intellectual diary, in order to shed new light on the historicity of (...) one of her central concepts. The article contends that both critics and partisans of Arendt's use of the polis have made the same mistake: they have presumed that the polis represents a space of face-to-face immediacy. In fact, Arendt compared the polis to a series of analogues, many of which are not centered on direct exchanges between political actors and spectators. As a result, Arendt's early work on the polis turns out to anticipate many of the concerns of her later work on judgment, and her theory of the polis becomes a theory of topics. (shrink)
In 1929, doubtless to the discomfort of his logical positivist host Moritz Schlick, Wittgenstein remarked, ‘To be sure, I can understand what Heidegger means by Being and Angst ’ . I return to what Heidegger meant and Wittgenstein could understand later. I begin with that remark because it has had an instructive career. When the passage which it prefaced was first published in 1965, the editors left it out—presumably to protect a hero of ‘analytic’ philosophy from being compromised by an (...) expression of sympathy for the arch-fiend of ‘continental’ philosophy. It was as if a diary of Churchill's had been discovered containing admiring references to Hitler. This was the period, after all, when Heidegger was, as Michael Dummett recalls, a ‘joke’ among Oxford philosophers, the paradigm of the sort of metaphysical nonsense Wittgenstein had dedicated himself to exposing. (shrink)
[David Charles] Aristotle, it appears, sometimes identifies well-being with one activity, sometimes with several, including ethical virtue. I argue that this appearance is misleading. In the Nicomachean Ethics, intellectual contemplation is the central case of human well-being, but is not identical with it. Ethically virtuous activity is included in human well-being because it is an analogue of intellectual contemplation. This structure allows Aristotle to hold that while ethically virtuous activity is valuable in its own right, the best life available (...) for humans is centred around, but not wholly constituted by, intellectual contemplation. /// [Dominic Scott] In Nicomachean Ethics X 7-8, Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of eudaimonia, primary and secondary. The first corresponds to contemplation, the second to activity in accordance with moral virtue and practical reason. My task in this paper is to elucidate this distinction. Like Charles, I interpret it as one between paradigm and derivative cases; unlike him, I explain it in terms of similarity, not analogy. Furthermore, once the underlying nature of the distinction is understood, we can reconcile the claim that paradigm eudaimonia consists just in contemplation with a passage in the first book requiring eudaimonia to involve all intrinsic goods. (shrink)
It is common to regard love, friendship, and other associational ties to others as an important part of a happy or flourishing life. This would be easy enough to understand if we focused on friendships based on pleasure, or associations, such as business partnerships, predicated on mutual advantage. For then we could understand in a straightforward way how these interpersonal relationships would be valuable for someone involved in such relationships just insofar as they caused her pleasure or causally promoted her (...) own independent interests. But many who regard love, friendship, and other associational ties as an important part of a happy or flourishing life suppose that in many sorts of associations—especially intimate associations—the proper attitude among associates is concern for the other for the other's own sake, not just for the pleasure or benefits one can extract from one's associates. It is fairly clear how having friends of this sort is beneficial. What is less clear is how being a friend of this sort might contribute to one's own happiness or well-being. Even if we can explain this, it looks as if the contribution that friendship makes to one's happiness could not be the reason one has to care for friends, for that would seem to make one's concern for others instrumental, not a concern for the other for her own sake. (shrink)
Propositions are the referents of the ‘that’-clauses that appear in the direct object positions of typical ascriptions of assertion, belief, and other binary cognitive relations. In that sense, propositions are the objects of those cognitive relations. Propositions are also the semantic contents (meanings, in one sense ) of declarative sentences, with respect to contexts. They are what sentences semantically express, with respect to contexts. Propositions also bear truth-values. The truth-value of a sentence, in a context, is the truth-value of the (...) proposition that it semantically expresses, in that context. This much is common ground among many (but not all) philosophers. I accept other claims about propositions that are more controversial. Propositions (I hold) are Russellian: they are structured entities whose constituents include individuals, properties, and relations. The contribution of a proper name to the proposition that a sentence semantically expresses (in a context) is the referent of that name. Thus, the semantic content of ‘Bill Clinton’ is Bill Clinton himself, and the semantic content of ‘Bill Clinton smokes’ is a proposition whose constituents are Bill Clinton and the property of smoking (ignoring tense, as I shall do from here on). Such 1 singular propositions are among the objects of belief, assertion, and other cognitive relations. This combination of a Millian view about proper names with a Russellian theory of propositions might appropriately be called ‘Millian Russellianism’, or ‘MR’ for short. David Chalmers, in his stimulating paper “Probability and Propositions,” defines a closely related view, Referentialism, as follows (see also the penultimate paragraph of his introduction). Referentialist views say that insofar as beliefs are about individuals (such as Nietzche), the objects of these belief are determined by those individuals. On one such view, the objects of belief are Russellian propositions composed from the individuals and properties that one’s belief is about.. (shrink)
A stellar group of philosophers offer new works on themes from the great philosophy of Wittgenstein, honoring one of his most eminent interpreters David Pears. This collection covers both the early and the later work of Wittgenstein, relating it to current debates in philosophy. Topics discussed include solipsism, ostension, rules, necessity, privacy, and consciousness.