When it comes to understanding the genesis and development of Heidegger’s thought, it would be rather difficult to overestimate the importance of the “Aristotle-Introduction” of 1922, Heidegger’s “Phenomenological Interpretations with Respect to Aristotle.” This text is both a manifesto which describes the young Heidegger’s philosophical commitments, as well as a promissory note which outlines his projected future work. This Aristotle-Introduction not only enunciates Heidegger’s broad project of a philosophy which is both systematic and historical; it also indicates, in particular, why (...) a principal (or fundamental) ontology can be actualized only through a destruction of the history of ontology. This text anticipates several central themes of Being and Time (e.g., facticity, death, falling), and also foreshadows some of the issues which were to occupy the later Heidegger (e.g., “truth” as a heterogenous process of unconcealment). There is no doubt that much can – and will – be written on the meaning and implications of this important text. But instead of making my own, early contribution to such a secondary literature, I have decided to limit myself in this “Preface” to a few brief remarks concerning the historical background to Heidegger’s “Phenomenological Interpretations with Respect to Aristotle.”. (shrink)
According to Immanuel Kant’s well-known account of his own intellectual development, it was the skeptic David Hume who roused him from his dogmatic slumber. According to some popular accounts of post-Kantian philosophy, it was the soporific speculation of the idealists that quickly returned German philosophy to the Procrustean bed of unverifiable metaphysics, where it dogmatically slept for half of the nineteenth century. This popular picture of post-Kantian German philosophy receives some apparent support from the relevant evidence. After all, Kant had (...) allegedly demonstrated the illegitimacy of all metaphysical speculation that transcends the bounds of experience, and the writings of the German idealists - filled as they are with references to what is putatively “absolute” and “unconditioned” - seem to violate Kant’s strictures. In place of this popular conception, I seek to sketch out a rather difference picture of German idealism. The development of post-Kantian German idealism is best described, not as a turning away from skepticism, but rather as a radicalization of it. The radicalization of skepticism from Kant through Fichte to Hegel, however, does not lead away from systematic philosophy. The movement of thought from Kant to Hegel coincides with the gradual realization that skeptical thought is not external to systematic philosophy, but is in fact internal to, or even identical with it. This thesis concerning the progressive “radicalization” or “internalization” of skepticism in German idealism receives some prima facie support form the relevant writings of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. (shrink)
Hegel’s most abiding aspiration was to be a volkserzieher (an educator of the people) in the tradition of thinkers of Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), and Friedrich Schiller (159-1786). No doubt, he was also deeply interested in epistemology and metaphysics, but this interest stemmed at least in part from his belief (which Kant also shared) that human beings could become truly liberated to fulfill their vocations as human beings, only if they were also liberated from the illusions and (...) contradictions that plagued uncritical thinking about self, world, and God. Thus to appreciate Hegel’s work in epistemology and metaphysics, one must first appreciate how he (following Kant) sought to think beyond the “special metaphysics” of self, world, and God as developed by Descartes and other pre-critical philosophers. The aim of this chapter is to analyze aspects of Hegel’s critical appropriation and transformation of Kantian thought, shedding light not only on Hegel’s own understanding of his move beyond Kant, but also on the philosophical reasons that might justify such a move. (shrink)
Aquinas's account of law as an ordering of reason for the common good of a community depends on the mereology that covered his theory of parthood relations, including the relations of parts to parts and parts to wholes. Aquinas argued that 'all who are included in a community stand in relation to that community as parts to a whole', and 'every individual person is compared to the whole community as part to whole'. Aquinas held that the perfection of wholes through (...) the proper ordering of their parts does not entail the elimination of diversity, but in many cases requires diversity. Aquinas argued that there are two ways of ordering parts within a whole. Firstly, the parts are ordered with respect to one another, and secondly, the parts are ordered toward an end. The ordering of a whole's parts to one another is always for the sake of the ordering of the whole to its extrinsic end. Aquinas argued that the good toward which the law directs a community is called the 'common good' of that community. The common good or common end toward which members of a community are ordered can be the sort of end that the agents bring into existence through their own actions such as justice within a community, or the sort of end that can exist apart from the actions of the agents. (shrink)
One of the defining characteristics of Kant’s “critical philosophy” is what has been called the “critique of immediacy” or the rejection of the “myth of the given.” According to the Kantian position, no object can count as an object for a human knower apart from the knower’s own activity or spontaneity. That is, no object can count as an object for a human knower on the basis of the object’s givenness alone. But this gives rise to a problem: how is (...) it possible to accept the Kantian critique of immediacy while also giving an epistemologically adequate account of the constrained or finite character of human knowing (i.e., an account that does not rely on some appeal to what is simply “given”)? This paper examines how this crucial question is addressed (with more or less success) in the “critical philosophies” of Kant, Lonergan, and Fichte. (shrink)
As I hope to show in this paper, Fichte’s rejection of traditional social contractarian accounts of human social relations is related to his rejection of the search for a criterion, or external standard, by which we might measure our knowledge in epistemology. More specifically, Fichte’s account of the impossibility of a normative social contract (as traditionally construed) is related to his account of the impossibility of our knowing things as they might be “in themselves,” separate from and independent of our (...) own activity in knowing them. Addressing the question of whether we finite human knowers can ever transcend the limits of our own consciousness, Fichte argues that Hume was not sufficiently critical: “…the Humean system holds open the possibility that we might someday be able to go beyond the boundary of the human mind, whereas the Critical system proves that such progress is absolutely impossible, and it shows that the thought of a thing possessing existence and specific properties in itself and apart from any faculty of representation is a piece of whimsy, a pipe dream, a nonthought.” In a very real sense, then, Fichte aims to “out-Hume” Hume on the question of whether we can ever know “things-in-themselves” or an external criterion for testing our knowledge. That is, Fichte goes beyond Hume and insists on the necessary – and not merely contingent – character of our ignorance of so-called things-in-themselves (i.e., things that supposedly exist antecedent to and independent of our consciousness of them). But unlike Hume, Fichte argues that radical skepticism regarding all possible knowledge of things-in-themselves does not undermine – but actually confirms and sustains – our belief in the emancipatory power of reason. (shrink)
On September 11, 2001, Americans were painfully reminded of a truth that for years had been easy to overlook, namely, that terrorism can affect every person in the world – regardless of location, nationality, political conviction, or occupation – and that, in principle, nobody is beyond terrorism’s reach. However, our renewed awareness of the ubiquity of the terrorist threat has been accompanied by wide disagreement and confusion about the moral status of terrorism and how terrorism ought to be confronted. Much (...) of the disagreement and confusion, I contend, is rooted in an inadequate understanding of just what it is that constitutes terrorism. In this paper, I offer the beginnings of a response to the challenge of terrorism by providing an account of what terrorism is and of some of the philosophical issues involved. My account is divided into two sections. In the first section I examine some of the difficulties involved in defining terrorism, and show that some of the most common “ordinary” understandings of terrorism are inadequate. In the second section I offer a working definition of terrorism that overcomes many of the difficulties outlined in the first section. I argue that terrorism consists in the use of “systematically unsystematic” violence (whether directed at combatants or noncombatants), and that the random or indiscriminate character of terroristic violence points us in the direction of seeing what is distinctively wrong with it. The fundamental problem is that terrorism is not committed to any rules of armed conflict or any principles that would facilitate the eventual containment or termination of the conflict. (shrink)
Kant’s “transcendental” or “critical” philosophy is an instance of what can be called the “critique of immediacy.” As part of his critical project, Kant argues that one cannot merely assume that there is a reestablished harmony between thought and being. Instead, one must effect a “return to the subject” and examine the forms of thought themselves, in order to determine the extent to which thought and being are commensurable. As a result of his “transcendental turn,” Kant concludes that what at (...) first appears as immediately given to thought is always already (at least partly) the result of some kind of activity or mediation on the part of the thought itself. Hegel approves of Kant’s critical orientation: Kant correctly demanded to know “how far the forms of thought were capable of leading to the knowledge of truth,” and correctly concluded that “the forms of thought must be made into an object of investigation.” However, for Hegel, the problem with Kant was that he aimed to examine the forms of thought as if they were necessarily separated from being itself. Thus the Kantian strategy, for Hegel, led to a twofold absurdly. (shrink)
The purpose of the present essay is to explicate the basic movement which the Understanding exercises upon itself at the end of the chapter on “Force and the Understanding” in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Unlike many other commentators on the Phenomenology, I hope to show how Hegel’s argumentation in this chapter applies not merely to the Newtonian paradigm (to which Hegel makes explicit reference), but to any paradigm which involves the objectivistic presuppositions of the Understanding.
The thought of Martin Heidegger has been influential in postmodernist discussions concerning the “death of the subject” and the “deconstruction” of the metaphysics of presence. In this paper, I shall examine Heidegger’s understanding of Dasein in terms of care and temporality, and his corresponding critique of the metaphysics of presence, especially as this critique applies to one’s understanding of the human knower. I shall then seek to determine whether Aquinas’s thought concerning the human knower falls prey to Heideggerian critique. My (...) purpose in elucidating the Heideggerian and Thomistic conceptions of the human discloser is to begin opening up some possible spaces for further dialogue between students of these two thinkers. (shrink)
In this Essay, I examine some apparent difficulties with what I call the "actualization criterion" connected to Rawls's notion of public reason, that is, the criterion for determining when Rawlsian public reason is concretely actualized by citizens in their deliberating and deciding about constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice. While these apparent difficulties have led some commentators to reject Rawlsian public reason altogether, I offer an interpretation that might allow Rawlsian public reason to escape the difficulties. My reading involves (...) the claim that Rawlsian public reason is to be understood essentially as an imperative or an ideal, and as not necessarily grounded in any stock of existing beliefs or opinions. I make this claim on the basis of the seemingly counterintuitive observation that it is possible for citizen-interlocutors to know that public reason has been violated without necessarily knowing who the violator is (and thus without being able to foreclose the possibility that the violator may even be oneself). This observation is based in turn on my analysis of the necessary reciprocity and self-referentiality built in to the very concept of public reason as such. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer an immanent critique of John Rawls’s theory of justice which seeks to show that Rawls’s understanding of his theory of justice as criteriological and contractarian is ultimately incompatible with his claim that the theory is grounded on the primacy of the practical. I agree with Michael Sandel’s observation that the Rawlsian theory of justice rests on substantive metaphysical and epistemological claims, in spite of Rawls’s assurances to the contrary. But while Sandel argues for even more (...) substantive metaphysical and epistemological commitments, I argue in the opposite direction. Following J. G. Fichte, I argue for a normative theory of society, not based on some particular notion of the good or on some contentious account of what all reasonable persons would agree to, but based only on the radical primacy of the practical, that is, based only on the seemingly empty premise that free beings - precisely because they are free - cannot be imagined in advance as all agreeing to any particular thing at all. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant's "critical philosophy" is rightly renowned for its criticism of the metaphysical pretensions of reason unaided by experience. It therefore seems ironic that, within a single generation, some of Kant's most important followers argued that the critical philosophy could be made fully critical only by recourse to the very metaphysical themes that Kant had apparently criticized. The story of the emergence of German Idealism (from its beginnings in Kant to its apparent consummation in Hegel) has never been fully told. (...) The story is full of tensions, contradictions, and reversals, all of which seemingly conspire to render a meaningful and unified account impossible. While defying any simple or simplistic explanation, the various and sometimes conflicting impulses that led to the emergence of German Idealism together constitute an intelligible and rich line of development. In this volume, an international group of leading scholars shows how the various aspirations at work in the emergence of German Idealism―moral, religious, aesthetic, political, and epistemological―can be understood as both consummating and overcoming Kant's critical philosophy. The volume also includes a chronology of the major works in the development of German Idealism, as well as a new translation of the seminal and still-controversial essay, "The Earliest System Programme of German Idealism.". (shrink)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) is considered a philosopher of the Tradition, both in the sense that his work is rooted in the political, artistic, religious, and philosophical traditions of European culture and in the sense that he takes up the notion of tradition as an object of philosophical investigation. This collection examines Hegel's philosophy as it bears on the meaning and relevance of tradition - historical, legal, aesthetic, religious, and philosophical. The thirteen original essays draw upon and celebrate the (...) work of H.S. Harris, who is considered by many to be the most influential interpreter of Hegel in the English-speaking world. -/- The collection as a whole examines Hegel's rich and nuanced relation to his own traditions, including his creative reworking of the legacies of Greece, Rome, Christianity, the Middle Ages, early modernity, and his immediate predecessors. It also shows how Hegel's thought has direct relevance for us today as we seek to understand ourselves in relation to our inherited traditions. The volume concludes with an afterword by H.S. Harris and a comprehensive bibliography of Harris's published works. -/- This important anthology represents the first rigorous and systematic effort to apply Harris's seminal and innovative style of Hegel scholarship to a wide variety of philosophical and historical issues. It functions both as a study of Hegel's philosophy and as a commentary on Harris's vast contribution to Hegel scholarship. (shrink)
First, this article considers some similarities between Adorno and Heidegger concerning the role of art in the modern world. Next, the article outlines some crucial differences; for example, Adorno regards all thought (including that which gives rise to art) as intrinsically dominative, while Heidegger holds that even dominative, objectifying thought presupposes a kind of thought that is not dominative or objectifying. An articulation of these differences helps to illuminate the ways in which the ideas of both Adorno and Heidegger are (...) limited (though in different ways). Finally, the article suggests that these limitations are overcome in the thought of Hegel. (shrink)
One important element in Lonergan’s philosophical work is the attempt to demonstrate the essential continuity between Aristotle’s thought and the explanatory viewpoint of modern science. Among other things, this attempt is meant to serve a two-fold purpose: first of all, to defend both Aristotle’s intellectualist metaphysics and the explanatory aspirations of modern science over against the caricatured representations of each which grew out of the Renaissance debate between the Aristotelians and the proponents of modern science; and secondly, to demonstrate the (...) intrinsic limitations of modern scientific humanism in much the same way that Aquinas tried to demonstrate the essential incompleteness of Aristotle’s non-Christian world view. Now Gadamer would not deny that there is an essential continuity in thought from Aristotle to modern science; in fact, he explicitly affirms such a continuity. And like Lonergan, Gadamer insists that modern science must play a legitimate, though restricted, role within contemporary culture. Given these and other important similarities between Gadamer and Lonergan, it may be difficult to see just where the grounds for possible disagreement lie. As a result, Gadamer’s reservations concerning Lonergan’s philosophical project may appear to be somewhat puzzling. In what follows, I shall try to shed light on some of the reasons for Gadamer’s reservations. (shrink)
By way of engagement with the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Heidegger, Lonergan, and neo-Thomism more broadly, Michael Baur and Gadamer discuss historicity, the Enlightenment and scientism, the epistemic implications of hylomorphism, and the nature of human finitude and death.
More than thirty-five years after its first release in 1971, Don McLean’s “American Pie” still resonates deeply with music listeners and consumers of popular culture. In a 2001 public poll sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America, McLean’s eight-and-a-half-minute masterpiece was ranked number 5 among the 365 “most memorable” songs of the twentieth century. In 2002, the song was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1997, Garth brooks performed “American Pie” (...) at a concert in Central Park, and in 2000, pop icon Madonna performed her own version of “American Pie” on the soundtrack of her movie The Next Best Thing. In 1999, American Pie became the title of a popular – and irreverently comical – coming-of-age movie starring Jason Biggs (the movie American Pie was followed by American Pie 2 in 2001, American Wedding in 2003, and American Pie Present – Band Camp in 2005). Like the movie to which it lent its name, the song “American Pie” presents a coming-of-age narrative; and, also like the movie, the song appealed strongly and immediately to its contemporary audience. Three months after its release in November of 1971, the song reached the number one slot on the charts in January of 1972, and it remained in the Top 40 for a total of seventeen weeks (longer than any other single during the year of 1972). Unlike the movie, however, the song “American Pie” is highly nuanced and sophisticated, containing multiple allusions and layers of meaning which challenge and heighten our understanding of rock ’n’ roll music and the possibility of self-reflection and self-critique in popular culture. (shrink)
In spite of their lack of interest in traditional philosophy and their explicit disavowals about the deeper meaning of their songs, there are also good reasons to approach and interpret the Beatles and their work from a philosophical point of view. In his Playboy interview from September of 1980, John praised Paul for the philosophical significance of the song, “The End,” which appeared on the Abbey Road album: “That’s Paul again. . . . he had a line in it – (...) “The love you take is equal to the love you make’ – which is a very cosmic, philosophical line. Which again proves that if [Paul] wants to, he can think” (Beatlesongs, p. 929). And in a similar vein, Paul revealed in an interview that Beatles songs are meant to be interpreted from different perspectives and on different levels: “You put your own meaning at your own level to our songs, and that’s what’s great about them” (Beatlesongs, p. 143). Of course, there are many things that are “great” about Beatles songs; but one of the great things – certainly for those who want to be thoughtful and reflective about popular culture – is that they can be interpreted philosophically and thus appreciated in light of philosophical ideas and theories. One such theory is what might be called “idealistic monism.”. (shrink)
With his contribution on "The Natural Law in the American Tradition," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain has begun the indispensable task of laying the groundwork for sound jurisprudential reasoning in the natural law tradition. It is on the basis of this groundwork that we can begin to appreciate what natural law reasoning might mean, and what it does not mean, for contemporary American legal thinking. More specifically, it is on the basis of this groundwork that one can begin to articulate what might (...) be called a "third way" of jurisprudential reasoning. This "third way" would steer clear of two opposed and equally problematic jurisprudential views; that is, it would steer clear of what we might call "standard legal positivism" (on the one hand), and (on the other hand) what Judge O'Scannlain calls the "aggressive" natural law jurisprudence of some contemporary theorists. (shrink)
This chapter argues that it is possible to identify, in the coming to be of knowledge, the three elements that Aristotle says are involved in any kind of coming to be whatsoever (viz., matter, form, and the generated composite object). Specifically, it is argued that in this schema the passive intellect (pathetikos nous) corresponds to the matter, the active intellect (poetikos nous) corresponds to the form, and the composite object corresponds to the mind as actually knowing.
One of the best-known members of the United Nations Commission which drafted the 1948 "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Jacques Maritain, famously held that the "natural rights" or "human rights" possessed by every human being are grounded and justified by reference to the natural law.' In many quarters today, the notion of the natural law, and arguments for a set of natural rights grounded in the natural law, have come under fierce attack. One common line of attack is illustrated by (...) the arguments of some utilitarians, for whom "natural law thinking" is mistaken insofar as it implies that there is an absolute moral prohibition against violating any human being's "natural rights." Even if there is such a thing as "natural rights," these utilitarians argue, such rights - including even the natural "right to life" - are necessarily relational, and thus have meaning only within the context of a larger social whole. As a result, the argument goes, the supposed "natural rights" possessed by individual human beings are never inviolable or unconditional, but instead always negotiable and subject to being "traded away" for the sake of greater social utility. Consider just one alleged counter-example to the notion that there are inviolable or unconditional "natural rights": it is well-known that approximately 36,000 people in the United States die every year as a result of influenza infections or influenza-related complications.' There is little doubt that hundreds, and probably even thousands, of human lives would be saved every year if local governments were to pass laws requiring flu vaccinations for all members of at-risk populations (e.g., the very young and the very elderly). It would seem that there would be broad support for mandated flu vaccinations- no matter what the expense - if human lives would be saved and if the natural "right to life" is inviolable or unconditional.' And yet no such life-saving laws exist, apparently because citizens and legislators believe that the social costs and inconveniences would be too great. According to the utilitarian position, this demonstrates - contrary to what Ronald Dworkin and others say about rights' - that rights do not trump utility, but in fact are quite regularly and reasonably trumped by utility. In light of such contemporary understandings and policies, can natural law thinking about natural rights be made credible? In what follows, I shall argue that utilitarian thinkers are correct to hold that rights are intrinsically relational; but they are wrong to conclude that the relational character of rights entails that "natural rights" are not inviolable or not unconditional. (shrink)
Decalogue Five tells the story of Waldemar Rekowski (Jan Tesarz), a jaded taxi driver, Piotr Balicki (Krzysztof Globisz), an idealistic, newly-licensed attorney, and Jacek Lazar (Mirosław Baka), a young and troubled drifter, whose lives intersect with one another as a result of fate, or contingent circumstance, or some combination of both. With brutal detail and detachment, the ﬁlm depicts Jacek’s seemingly aimless wanderings through Warsaw, his senseless killing of Waldemar, his interactions with Piotr (his court-appointed attorney), and his eventual execution (...) after a failed defense in court. Like other ﬁlms within the Decalogue series, Five illustrates what happens when human beings are forced to confront ethical dilemmas (and thus are forced to confront themselves as responsible moral decision makers) in a world that seems to offer little in the way of moral direction, meaning, purpose, and community with others. Discussing the overarching aim of the Decalogue series as a whole, Krzysztof Kies´lowski refers to the sense of alienation, aimlessness, and loneliness that often describes the human condition. (shrink)
The so-called problem of arguing “from what is to what ought to be” was popularized by G.E. Moore in Principia Ethica (1903), and has received much attention from modern philosophers. I would like to argue that this apparent problem rests on a false dichotomy between our knowing and our doing.
The Hegelian and the Thomistic accounts of self-knowledge are solidly Aristotelian in their origins and motivations. In their conclusions and consequences, however, the two accounts exhibit significant differences. Hegel argues that genuine self-knowledge is necessarily social and historical, while Aquinas says nothing about history or society in his account of self-knowledge. The aim of this paper is not to decide the issue concerning historicity in favor of either Hegel or Aquinas. The aim here is rather to address a prior question: (...) what are the systematic and philosophical reasons for the difference between the two thinkers? In order to articulate this difference between the two, we might begin by considering an underlying similarity: their common Aristotelian background. (shrink)
Understood in its widest sense, the term “hermeneutics” can be taken to refer to the theory and/or practice of any interpretation aimed at uncovering the meaning of any expression, regardless of whether such expression was produced by a human or non-human source. Understood in a narrower sense, the term “hermeneutics” can be taken to refer to a particular stream of thought regarding the theory and/or practice of interpretation, developed mainly by German-speaking theorists from the late eighteenth through to the late (...) twentieth century. “Hermeneutics” in its broadest sense dates at least as far back as the ancient Greeks and is linked etymologically to the ancient Greeks’ mythological deity Hermes, who was said to deliver and interpret messages from the gods to mortals. “Hermeneutics” in its narrower sense emerged in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, initially for the purpose of addressing problems in the interpretation of classical and biblical tests and then later for the purpose of articulating a more “universalized” theory of interpretation of general. This chapter traces the development of hermeneutics in its narrow sense through the work of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002), and then concludes with some observations about what Hegel’s own hermeneutical thought might mean against the backdrop of this development. (shrink)
As Richard Bernstein has suggested, there is a very rich and interesting story to be told about how the classical pragmatists (Dewey, Peirce, and James) understood G. W. R Hegel, made use of Hegel, and ultimately distanced themselves from Hegel. That story cannot be told here. Indeed, the story is so rich and complicated that even its beginnings cannot be told here. But what can be provided, perhaps, is a limited, though hopefully illuminating, perspective on a few salient aspects of (...) the relationship between the classical pragmatists and Hegel. While the following reflections offer no definitive answers about this relationship, they might at least suggest some fruitful lines of enquiry for future discussion. (shrink)
This paper offers a brief account of Finnis' Natural Law Legal Theory (NLLT), primarily as it is presented in Natural Law and Natural Rights, and then defends Finnis' NLLT against the recent legal positivist criticism made by Matthew H. Kramer.
In his paper, "Free Choice, Incommensurable Goods and the Self-Refutation of Determinism,"' Joseph Boyle seeks to show how the argument for the self-refutation of determinism - first articulated over twenty-five years ago - is an argument whose force depends on (first) a proper understanding of just what free choice is, and (secondly) a proper understanding of how free choice is a principle of moral responsibility. According to Boyle, a person can make a genuinely free choice only if he is presented (...) with alternative options that are incommensurable in their goodness or desirability. If the goodness or desirability of alternative options could be commensurated, or compared in accordance with some common standard, then it would be possible in principle for a person to determine which of the two options offered more, and which offered less, of the same sort of good represented by the two options. But if this sort of commensuration or comparison were possible, according to Boyle, then there would really be no need to choose. Rather, the only task that would have to be performed in order to determine the person's selection among alternative options would be the task clarifying or calculating which of the alternative options offered most fully what it is that makes both options desirable in the first place. Once the clarification or calculation is done, there would be no need-and in fact, no possibility--of really choosing: the calculation alone would settle which option is the best option, and thus which option is to be selected. Now if genuinely free choice requires that the choosing person be presented with options that are incommensurable in goodness or desirability, then it also seems to be the case that genuine choice-and the moral responsibility that goes along with it-requires that the person be presented with alternative possibilities from which to choose. And yet some compatibilist thinkers have held that moral responsibility does not really require the presence of alternative possibilities. In particular, Harry G. Frankfurt has sought to show (by means of counter-example) that a person can be a moral agent and morally responsible, even if the person did not, in fact, have any alternative possibilities available to him (that is, even if the person could not have done otherwise). Frankfurt's counter-example offers a direct challenge to the sort of incompatibilism that Boyle seeks to defend; and so Boyle is quite right to address Frankfurt head-on. For if Frankfurt is right, then it is erroneous to hold "the principle of alternative possibilities" (the principle that a person can be morally responsible for what he has done, only if he had alternative possibilities, or only if he could have done otherwise). But if it is erroneous to hold the principle of alternative possibilities, then it also seems erroneous to hold the more robust position that Boyle wishes to defend: namely, the position that moral responsibility requires not only alternative possibilities, but also alternative possibilities representing options that are incommensurable in their goodness. (shrink)
American in rem, or civil, forfeiture laws seem to implicate constitutional concerns insofar as such laws may authorize the government to confiscate privately owned property, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the owner. Historically, the justification of in rem forfeiture law has rested on the legal fiction that “[t]he thing is . . . primarily considered as the offender, or rather the offense is attached primarily to the thing.” Last Term, in Bennis v. Michigan, the Supreme Court upheld the (...) constitutionality of a public nuisance statute that authorized the government to abate a car-owner’s property interest, even though there had been no showing of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the owner herself. Referring to this country’s “longstanding practice” of in rem forfeiture proceedings, the Court held that abatement under the Michigan statute neither offended due process nor violated the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against takings without just compensation. By basing its decision on precedent, the Court prudently resisted the temptation to legislate from the bench. The Court also reached the right result in denying relief to Mrs. Bennis. Unfortunately, the Court’s appeal to past practice did not adequately address the constitutional concerns raised by the case. If the Court had said more about the traditional purpose and limits of in rem forfeitures, it could have addressed these concerns, while still avoiding the dangers of judicial activism. (shrink)
The thought of G. W. F. Hegel (1770 -1831) has had a deep and lasting influence on a wide range of philosophical, political, religious, aesthetic, cultural and scientific movements. But, despite the far-reaching importance of Hegel's thought, there is often a great deal of confusion about what he actually said or believed. G. W. F. Hegel: Key Concepts provides an accessible introduction to both Hegel's thought and Hegel-inspired philosophy in general, demonstrating how his concepts were understood, adopted and critically transformed (...) by later thinkers. The first section of the book covers the principal philosophical themes in Hegel's system: epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethical theory, political philosophy, philosophy of nature, philosophy of art, philosophy of religion, philosophy of history and theory of the history of philosophy. The second section covers the main post-Hegelian movements in philosophy: Marxism, existentialism, pragmatism, analytic philosophy, hermeneutics and French poststructuralism. The breadth and depth of G. W. F. Hegel: Key Concepts makes it an invaluable introduction for philosophical beginners and a useful reference source for more advanced scholars and researchers. (shrink)
In this clearly written, highly readable book, Klein offers an extended critique of "feminist philosophy," or the position which holds that "traditional science, philosophy of science, and epistemology ought to be abandoned and that feminist science, philosophy of science, and epistemology ought to be put in its place".
Kant’s “moral proof” for the existence of God has been the subject of much criticism, even among his most sympathetic commentators. According to the critics, the primary problem is that the notion of the “highest good,” on which the moral proof depends, introduces an element of contingency and heteronomy into Kant’s otherwise strict, autonomy-based moral thinking. In this paper, I shall argue that Kant’s moral proof is not only more defensible than commentators have typically acknowledged, but also has some very (...) interesting implications (e.g. the moral proof is “circular” and thus implicitly self-validating). My account shall proceed in five stages: 1. Preliminary Discussion of the Moral Proof 2. the Argument of the Moral Proof 3. Critics of the Moral Proof 4. Defense of the Moral Proof 5. Implications of the Moral Proof: Circularity and Self-referentiality.” . (shrink)
This book is an extended reflection on a basic but far-reaching claim: "There are no 'bare' particulars". Because "individuals are necessarily individuals of a kind," Lowe argues, "realism with regard to particulars or individuals... implies realism with regard to sorts or kinds". A "sortal" concept is "a concept of a distinct sort or kind of individuals". Lowe's purpose in this book is to examine the meaning and implications of sortal concepts, and to challenge relativist conceptions of identity and reductivist strategies (...) in metaphysics. (shrink)
Twentieth-century Canadian philosopher Bernard J. F. Lonergan and nineteenth-century German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel regarded themselves as Aristotelian thinkers. As Aristotelians, both affirmed that human knowing is essentially a matter of knowing by identity: in the act of knowing, the knower and the known are formally identical. In spite of their common Aristotelian background and their common commitment to the idea that human knowing is knowing by identity, Lonergan and Hegel also differed on a number of crucial points. This (...) essay discusses some key similarities and differences between Lonergan and Hegel on the issue knowing, in the hope that such a discussion might uncover a few possible avenues for further philosophical dialogue about these two important thinkers. (shrink)
In the modern period, the most original and influential theories about law and politics were developed in connection with a set of far-reaching, interrelated questions about the definition of law, the purpose of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the existence of natural law and natural rights. In this entry I summarize the contributions of Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu; William Blackstone; Jeremy Bentham; and Immanuel Kant as exemplars of the history of modern (...) thought on law and politics. (shrink)
Marx’s theory of historical materialism seeks to explain human history and development on the basis of the material conditions underlying all human existence. For Marx, the most important of all human activities is the activity of production by means of labor. With his focus on production through labor, Marx argues that it is possible to provide a materialistic explanation of how human beings not only transform the world (by applying the “forces of production” to it) but also transform themselves in (...) transforming the world (by entering into “relations of production” with one another). For Marx, the productive labor of human beings – and the resulting interplay between the forces and relations of production – function together as the engine which drives all historical change and development. By understanding how the productive activities of human beings give rise to the division of labor and class conflict, it becomes possible, according to Marx, to understand how different historical epochs succeed one another, and how the trajectory of human history points towards a communist society within which the division of labor and class conflict will be abolished. (shrink)