In the West, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel is a thinker of unusual prominence. In China, he's a phenomenon, greeted by vast crowds. China Daily reports that he has acquired a popularity "usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars." China Newsweek declared him the "most influential foreign figure" of the year. In Sandel the Chinese have found a guide through the ethical dilemmas created by the nation's swift embrace of a market economy--a guide whose communitarian ideas resonate with aspects of China's (...) own rich and ancient philosophical traditions. Chinese citizens often describe a sense that, in sprinting ahead, they have bounded past whatever barriers once held back the forces of corruption and moral disregard. The market economy has lifted millions from poverty but done little to define ultimate goals for individuals or the nation. Is the market all there is? In this context, Sandel's charismatic, interactive lecturing style, which roots moral philosophy in real-world scenarios, has found an audience struggling with questions of their responsibility to one another. Encountering China brings together leading experts in Confucian and Daoist thought to explore the connections and tensions revealed in this unlikely episode of Chinese engagement with the West. The result is a profound examination of diverse ideas about the self, justice, community, gender, and public good. With a foreword by Evan Osnos that considers Sandel's fame and the state of moral dialogue in China, the book will itself be a major contribution to the debates that Sandel sparks in East and West alike.--. (shrink)
Because of the difficulty posed by the contrast between the search for truth and truth itself, Michael Polanyi believes that we must alter the foundation of epistemology to include as essential to the very nature of mind, the kind of groping that constitutes the recognition of a problem. This collection of essays, assembled by Marjorie Grene, exemplifies the development of Polanyi's theory of knowledge which was first presented in Science, Faith, and Society and later systematized in Personal Knowledge. Polanyi (...) believes that the dilemma of the modern mind arises from the peculiar relation between the positivist claim for total objectivity in scientific knowledge and the unprecedented moral dynamism characterizing the social and political aspirations of the last century. The first part of Knowing and Being deals with this theme. Part two develops Polanyi's idea that centralization is incompatible with the life of science as well as his views on the role of tradition and authority in science. The essays on tacit knowing in Part Three proceed directly from his preoccupation with the nature of scientific discovery and reveal a pervasive substructure of all intelligent behavior. Polanyi believes that all knowing involves movement from internal clues to external evidence. Therefore, to explain the process of knowing, we must develop a theory of the nature of living things in general, including an account of that aspect of living things we call "mind." Part Four elaborates upon this theme. (shrink)
A liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life, but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends. It therefore must govern by principles of justice that do not presuppose any particular vision of the good life. But can any such principles be found? And if not, what are the consequences for justice as a moral and political ideal? These are the questions Michael Sandel takes up in this penetrating (...) critique of contemporary liberalism. Sandel locates modern liberalism in the tradition of Kant, and focuses on its most influential recent expression in the work of John Rawls. In the most important challenge yet to Rawls' theory of justice, Sandel traces the limits of liberalism to the conception of the person that underlies it, and argues for a deeper understanding of community than liberalism allows. (shrink)
"Rationalism in Politics, " first published in 1962, has established the late Michael Oakeshott as the leading conservative political theorist in modern Britain. This expanded collection of essays astutely points out the limits of "reason" in rationalist politics.Oakeshott criticizes ideological schemes to reform society according to supposedly "scientific" or rationalistic principles that ignore the wealth and variety of human experience. "Rationalism in politics," says Oakeshott, "involves a misconception with regard to the nature of human knowledge." History has shown that (...) it produces unexpected, often disastrous results. "Having cut himself off from the traditional knowledge of his society, and denied the value of any education more extensive than a training in a technique of analysis," the Rationalist succeeds only in undermining the institutions that hold civilized society together. In this regard, rationalism in politics is "a corruption of the mind."Timothy Fuller is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College at Colorado College. (shrink)
In this book Michael McKenna advances a new theory of moral responsibility, one that builds upon the work of P. F. Strawson. As McKenna demonstrates, moral responsibility can be explained on analogy with a conversation. The relation between a morally responsible agent and those who hold her morally responsible is similar to the relation between a speaker and her audience. A responsible agent's actions are bearers of meaning--agent meaning--just as a speaker's utterances are bearers of speaker meaning. Agent meaning (...) is a function of the moral quality of the will with which the agent acts. Those who hold an agent morally responsible for what she does do so by responding to her as if in a conversation. By responding with certain morally reactive attitudes, such as resentment or indignation, they thereby communicate their regard for the meaning taken to be revealed in that agent's actions. It is then open for the agent held responsible to respond to those holding her responsible by offering an apology, a justification, an excuse, or some other response, thereby extending the evolving conversational exchange.The conversational theory of moral responsibility that McKenna develops here accepts two features of Strawson's theory: that moral responsibility is essentially interpersonal--so that being responsible must be understood by reference to the nature of holding responsible--and that the moral emotions are central to holding responsible. While upholding these two aspects of Strawson's theory, McKenna's theory rejects a further Strawsonian thesis, which is that holding morally responsible is more fundamental or basic than being morally responsible. On the conversational theory, the conditions for holding responsible are dependent on the nature of the agent who is responsible. So holding responsible cannot be more basic than being responsible. Nevertheless, the nature of the agent who is morally responsible is to be understood in terms of sensitivity to those who would make moral demands of her, thereby holding her responsible. Being responsible is therefore also dependent on holding responsible. Thus, neither being nor holding morally responsible is more basic than the other. They are mutually dependent. (shrink)
In various areas of Anglo-American law, legal liability turns on causation. In torts and contracts, we are each liable only for those harms we have caused by the actions that breach our legal duties. Such doctrines explicitly make causation an element of liability. In criminal law, sometimes the causal element for liability is equally explicit, as when a statute makes punishable any act that has “ caused … abuse to the child….” More often, the causal element in criminal liability is (...) more implicit, as when criminal statutes prohibit killings, maimings, rapings, burnings, etc. Such causally complex action verbs are correctly applied only to defendants who have caused death, caused disfigurement, caused penetration, caused fire damage, etc. (shrink)
In the Trolley Case, as devised by Philippa Foot and modified by Judith Jarvis Thomson, a runaway trolley is headed down a main track and will hit and kill five unless you divert it onto a side track, where it will hit and kill one.
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
Freud justified his extensive theorizing about dreams by the observation that they were “the royal road” to something much more general: namely, our unconscious mental life. The current preoccupation with the theory of excuse in criminal law scholarship can be given a similar justification, for the excuses are the royal road to theories of responsibility generally. The thought is that if we understand why we excuse in certain situations but not others, we will have also gained a much more general (...) insight into the nature of responsibility itself. Nowhere has this thought been more evident than in the century-old focus of criminal law theoreticians on the excuse of insanity, a focus that could not be justified by the importance of the excuse itself. In this paper I wish to isolate two theories of excuse, each of which instantiates its own distinctive theory of responsibility. One is what I shall call the choice theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because at the moment of such action's performance, one did not have sufficient capacity or opportunity to make the choice to do otherwise. Such a choice theory of excuse instantiates a more general theory of responsibility, according to which we are responsible for wrongs we freely choose to do, and not responsible for wrongs we lacked the freedom to avoid doing. The second I shall call the character theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because such action is not determined by those enduring attributes of ourselves we call our characters. (shrink)
Michael J. Loux here presents a fresh reading of two of the most important books of the Metaphysics, Books Z and H, in which Aristotle presents his mature theory of primary substances. Focusing on the interplay of Aristotle's early and late views, Loux maintans that the later concept of ousia should be understood in terms of a theory of predication that carries interesting implications for contemporary metaphysics. Loux argues that in his first attempt in identifying ousiai in the Categories, (...) Aristotle encountered a set of ontological problems which he wrestled with again in Metaphysics Z and H. In the Categories, where the primary realities are basic subjects of predication construed in essentialist terms as things falling under natural kinds, familiar particulars are the primary ousiai. In subsequent works, Aristotle holds that since familiar particulars come into being and pass away, they must be composites of matter and form; and in Metaphysics Z and H, he explores the implications of this insight for the search for ousia. Maintaining that the substantial forms of familiar particulars are the primary ousiai, the later Aristotle interprets forms as predicable universals rather than as particulars, each uniquely possessed by a single object. (shrink)
This article challenges conventional readings of Michel Foucault by examining his fascination with neoliberalism in the late 1970s. Foucault did not critique neoliberalism during this period; rather, he strategically endorsed it. The necessary cause for this approval lies in the broader rehabilitation of economic liberalism in France during the 1970s. The sufficient cause lies in Foucault's own intellectual development: drawing on his long-standing critique of the state as a model for conceptualizing power, Foucault concluded, during the 1970s, that economic liberalism, (...) rather than “discipline,” was modernity's paradigmatic power form. Moreover, this article seeks to clarify the relationship between Foucault's philosophical antihumanism and his assessment of liberalism. Rather than arguing that Foucault's antihumanism precluded a positive appraisal of liberalism, or that the apparent reorientation of his politics in a more liberal direction in the late 1970s entailed a partial retreat from antihumanism, this article contends that Foucault's brief, strategic, and contingent endorsement of liberalism was possible precisely because he saw no incompatibility between antihumanism and liberalism—but only liberalism of the economic variety. Economic liberalism alone, and not its political iteration, was compatible with the philosophical antihumanism that is the hallmark of Foucault's thought. (shrink)
In this enlightening exploration of our nearest primate relatives, Michael Tomasello and Josep Call address the current state of our knowledge about the cognitive skills of non-human primates and integrate empirical findings from the beginning of the century to the present.
Michael Ryan (d. 1840) remains one of the most mysterious figures in the history of medical ethics, despite the fact that he was the only British physician during the middle years of the 19th century to write about ethics in a systematic way. Michael Ryan’s Writings on Medical Ethics offers both an annotated reprint of his key ethical writings, and an extensive introductory essay that fills in many previously unknown details of Ryan’s life, analyzes the significance of his (...) ethical works, and places him within the historical trajectory of the field of medical ethics. (shrink)
The Aims of the Book -/- 1. To improve your skill in analyzing and evaluating arguments and presentations of the kind you find in everyday discourse (news media, discussions, advertisements), textbooks, and lectures. 2. To improve your skill in presenting arguments, reports and instructions clearly and persuasively. 3. To improve your critical instincts, that is, your immediate judgments of your attitudes toward the communications and behavior of others and yourself, so that you consistently approach them with the standards of reason (...) and the attitude of reasonableness. 4. To improve your knowledge about the facts and arguments relevant to a large number of important contemporary issues in politics, education, ethics, and several practical fields. -/- These are practical aims but not narrow practical aims: the third one, in particular, is very far-reaching and requires a whole shift of values for most of us. So this is intended to be a powerful, as well as practical, book using practical, everyday examples of the kind that a citizen, especially a citizen-student, runs into all the time. -/- The text starts with a short discussion of reasoning itself, then explores the details of this approach, and then gets down to practical procedures for improving one's reasoning skills. The discussions and examples always begin at a rather elementary level, but they get into harder material fairly quickly. If you are, or are hoping to be, a teacher or a lawyer, a scientist or an executive, what you learn here will be professional skills for you—vital professional skills. But for any citizen, they are also essential skills. (shrink)
The two dominant theories of consciousness argue it appeared in living beings either suddenly, or gradually. Both theories face problems. The solution is the realization that a foundational consciousness was always here, yet varying conscious states were not, and appeared gradually. Michael Tye explores this idea and the key questions it raises.
Miranda Fricker appeals to the idea of moral-epistemic disappointment in order to show how our practices of moral appraisal can be sensitive to cultural and historical contingency. In particular, she thinks that moral-epistemic disappointment allows us to avoid the extremes of crude moralism and a relativism of distance. In my response I want to investigate what disappointment is, and whether it can constitute a form of focused moral appraisal in the way that Fricker imagines. I will argue that Fricker is (...) unable to appeal to disappointment as standardly understood, but that there is a more plausible way of understanding the notion that she can employ. There are, nevertheless, significant worries about the capacity of disappointment in this sense to function as a form of moral appraisal. I will argue, finally, that even if Fricker can address these worries, her position might end up closer to moralism than she would like. (shrink)
In this insightful study of the common origins of analytic and continental philosophy, Friedman looks at how social and political events intertwined and influenced philosophy during the early twentieth century, ultimately giving rise to the two very different schools of thought. He shows how these two approaches, now practiced largely in isolation from one another, were once opposing tendencies within a common discussion. Already polarized by their philosophical disagreements, these approaches were further split apart by the rise of Naziism and (...) the resulting emigration of all influential German-speaking philosophers except for Heidegger. Although the book gives a general overview of the philosophical issues of the period, the author pays special attention to the relationships among three key twentieth-century philosophers: Rudolf Carnap, Ernst Cassirer, and Martin Heidegger. (shrink)
The book is drawn from the Tarner lectures, delivered in Cambridge in 1993. It is concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, and how this is revealed by modern physical theories such as relativity and quantum theory. The objectivity and rationality of science are defended against the views of relativists and social constructionists. It is claimed that modern physics gives us a tentative and fallible, but nevertheless rational, approach to the nature of physical reality. The role of subjectivity in science (...) is examined in the fields of relativity theory, statistical mechanics and quantum theory, and recent claims of an essential role for human consciousness in physics is rejected. Prospects for a 'Theory of Everything' are considered, and the related question of how to assess scientific progress is carefully examined. (shrink)
A critique of contemporary critical theory that traces transformative shifts in the discipline during the twentieth century and argues for a reformulation of critical theory in order to ensure the legacy of its political project.
Michael Dummett's three John Dewey Lectures--"The Concept of Truth," "Statements About the Past," and "The Metaphysics of Time"--were delivered at Columbia University in the spring of 2002. Revised and expanded, the lectures are presented here along with two new essays by Dummett, "Truth: Deniers and Defenders" and "The Indispensability of the Concept of Truth." In _Truth and the Past,_ Dummett clarifies his current positions on the metaphysical issue of realism and the philosophy of language. He is best known as (...) a proponent of antirealism, which loosely characterizes truth as what we are capable of knowing. The events of the past and statements about them are critical tests of an antirealist position. These essays continue and significantly contribute to Dummett's work. (shrink)