The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences.
In any society influenced by a plurality of cultures, there will be widespread, systematic differences about at least some important values, including moral values. Many of these differences look like deep disagreements, difficult to resolve objectively if that is possible at all. One common response to the suspicion that these disagreements are unsettleable has always been moral relativism. In the flurry of sympathetic treatments of this doctrine in the last two decades, attention has understandably focused on the simpler case in (...) which one fairly self-contained and culturally homogeneous society confronts, at least in thought, the values of another; but most have taken relativism to have implications within a single pluralistic society as well. I am not among the sympathizers. That is partly because I am more optimistic than many about how many moral disagreements can be settled, but I shall say little about that here. For, even on the assumption that many disputes are unsettleable, I continue to find relativism a theoretically puzzling reaction to the problem of moral disagreement, and a troubling one in practice, especially when the practice involves regular interaction among those who disagree. This essay attempts to explain why. (shrink)
David Owen wants to understand what Hume means by reason, given its pivotal importance in the wide range of issues that Hume discusses in his philosophical works. In order to achieve that understanding, Owen places Hume in the historical context of writers such as Descartes and Locke, what was later referred to as the way of ideas. Owen objects to stating Humes views in terms of contemporary semantic frameworks. After a careful review of the many contexts in which Hume discusses (...) reason in book 1 of the Treatise, Owen concludes that Hume rejected the notion of reason as an independent faculty and offered instead an account of reason as based on the imagination. Owens scholarship is meticulous and his attempt to understand Humes historical context commendable. The difficulties are that he tells us nothing new and his context is much too narrow. Hume was neither a scholastic nor a contemporary professional responding only to the works of other professional philosophers on some technical point. At the very least, Humes discussion of causal reasoning was very much influenced by the transition from Aristotelian physics and its attendant conception of causality to Newtons physics and its attendant conception of causality. The details of Humes mechanistic account of belief are not mentioned. (shrink)
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
The familiar complaint that some ambitious proposal is infeasible naturally invites the following response: Once upon a time, the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women seemed infeasible, yet these things were actually achieved. Presumably, then, many of those things that seem infeasible in our own time may well be achieved too and, thus, turn out to have been perfectly feasible after all. The Appeal to History, as we call it, is a bad argument. It is not true that (...) if some desirable state of affairs was actually achieved, then it was feasible that it was achieved. “Actual” does not imply “feasible,” as we put it. Here is our objection. “Feasible” implies “not counterfactually fluky.” But “actual” does not imply “not counterfactually fluky.” So, “actual” does not imply “feasible.” While something like the Flukiness Objection is sometimes hinted at in the context of the related literature on abilities, it has not been developed in any detail, and both premises are inadequately motivated. We offer a novel articulation of the Flukiness Objection that is both more precise and better motivated. Our conclusions have important implications, not only for the admissible use of history in normative argument, but also by potentially circumscribing the normative claims that are applicable to us. (shrink)
In this paper I want to discuss David Hume's views about morals, politics and citizenship and the role of philosophers and philosophizing in modern civil society - what I shall call his theory of civic morality. This is a subject which has been neglected by philosophers, presumably because it is of limited philosophical interest. But it is of considerable interest to the historian who wants to understand Hume's development as a philosopher, to locate his thought within a specific, Scottish context (...) and to arrive at some understanding of his surprisingly close and cordial relations with the literary and social world of enlightened Edinburgh. These are large claims and I cannot hope to substantiate them fully in a short paper. My purpose is first, to show that, historically speaking, Hume's preoccupation with civic morality was of central rather than peripheral interest to him as a philosopher and that it helps to explain his otherwise rather puzzling decision to give up philosophizing systematically in the manner of Hobbes and Locke, in favour of polite essay-writing in the manner of Addison and Steele. My second purpose is to suggest that Hume's interest in civic morality, his neo-Addisonian mode of philosophizing about it and the nature of his understanding of politics, citizenship and philosophizing in a modern age was, unlike his thought about religion, responsive to and consonant with some of the most important ideological preoccupations of his Scottish contemporaries. It was, I suspect, a shared interest which helped to contain some of the anxieties Hume's notorious religious scepticism caused his contemporaries. Without it, he could not possibly have emerged as one of the leaders of Edinburgh's intellectual life in the age of the Scottish Enlightenment. (shrink)
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1987.
Nicholas Wolterstorff discusses the ethics of belief which Locke developed in Book IV of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, where Locke finally argued his overarching aim: how we ought to govern our belief, especially on matters of religion and morality. Wolterstorff shows that this concern was instigated by the collapse, in Locke's day, of a once-unified moral and religious tradition in Europe into warring factions. His was thus a culturally and socially engaged epistemology. This view of Locke invites a (...) new interpretation of the origins of modern philosophy. He maintained that instead of following tradition we ought to let 'reason be our guide.' Accordingly, after discussing Hume's powerful attack on Locke's recommended practice, Wolterstorff argues for Locke's originality and emphasizes his contribution to the 'modernity' of post-sixteenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
Logic is essential to correct reasoning and also has important theoretical applications in philosophy, computer science, linguistics, and mathematics. This book provides an exceptionally clear introduction to classical logic, with a unique approach that emphasizes both the hows and whys of logic. Here Nicholas Smith thoroughly covers the formal tools and techniques of logic while also imparting a deeper understanding of their underlying rationales and broader philosophical significance. In addition, this is the only introduction to logic available today that (...) presents all the major forms of proof--trees, natural deduction in all its major variants, axiomatic proofs, and sequent calculus. The book also features numerous exercises, with solutions available on an accompanying website. -/- Logic is the ideal textbook for undergraduates and graduate students seeking a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the subject. -/- Provides an essential introduction to classical logic Emphasizes the how and why of logic Covers both formal and philosophical issues Presents all the major forms of proof--from trees to sequent calculus Features numerous exercises, with solutions available online The ideal textbook for undergraduates and graduate students . (shrink)
This volume presents influential work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion, alongside nine new essays on the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority.
Perfected science is but an idealization that provides a useful contrast to highlight the limited character of what we do and can attain. This lies at the core of various debates in the philosophy of science and Rescher’s discussion focuses on the question: how far could science go in principle—what are the theoretical limits on science? He concentrates on what science can discover, not what it should discover. He explores in detail the existence of limits or limitations on scientific inquiry, (...) especially those that, in principle, preclude the full realization of the aims of science, as opposed to those that relate to economic obstacles to scientific progress. Rescher also places his argument within the politics of the day, where "strident calls of ideological extremes surround us," ranging from the exaggeration that "science can do anything"—to the antiscientism that views science as a costly diversion we would be well advised to abandon. Rescher offers a middle path between these two extremes and provides an appreciation of the actual powers and limitations of science, not only to philosophers of science but also to a larger, less specialized audience. (shrink)
Not only does this book reflect the clarity and acuity of thought that characterize Wolterstorff's work, it also reflects the humane sensibilities of someone who has thought and felt deeply about these matters for a long time.
Prominent in the canonical texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the claim that God speaks. Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that contemporary speech-action theory, when appropriately expanded, offers us a fascinating way of interpreting this claim and showing its intelligibility. He develops an innovative theory of double-hermeneutics - along the way opposing the current near-consensus led by Ricoeur and Derrida that there is something wrong-headed about interpreting a text to find out what its author said. Wolterstorff argues that (...) at least some of us are entitled to believe that God has spoken. Philosophers have never before, in any sustained fashion, reflected on these matters, mainly because they have mistakenly treated speech as revelation. (shrink)
In order to make progress towards a better world we need to learn how to do it. And for that we need institutions of learning rationally designed and devoted to helping us solve our global problems, make progress towards a better world. It is just this that we lack at present. Our universities pursue knowledge. They are neither designed nor devoted to helping humanity learn how to tackle global problems — problems of living — in more intelligent, humane and effective (...) ways. That, this book argues, is the key disaster of our times, the crisis behind all the others: our failure to have developed our institutions of learning so that they are rationally organized to help us solve our problems of living — above all, our global problems. Having universities devoted almost exclusively to the pursuit of knowledge is a recipe for disaster. Scientific knowledge and technological know-how have unquestionably brought great benefits to humanity. But they have also made possible — even caused — our current global crises, above all the impending crisis of global warming. In this lucid and provocative book, Nicholas Maxwell argues convincingly that we need urgently to bring about a revolution in universities round the world so that their basic aim becomes wisdom, and not just knowledge. (shrink)
The increasingly lively controversy over scientific realism has become one of the principal themes of recent philosophy. 1 In watching this controversy unfold in the rather technical way currently in vogue, it has seemed to me that it would be useful to view these contemporary disputes against the background of such older epistemological issues as fallibilism, scepticism, relativism, and the traditional realism/idealism debate. This, then, is the object of the present book, which will recon sider the newer concerns about scientific (...) realism in the context of these older philosophical themes. Historically, realism concerns itself with the real existence of things that do not "meet the eye" - with suprasensible entities that lie beyond the reach of human perception. In medieval times, discussions about realism focused upon universals. Recognizing that there are physical objects such as cats and triangular objects and red tomatoes, the medievels debated whether such "abstract objects" as cathood and triangularity and redness also exist by way of having a reality indepen dent of the concretely real things that exhibit them. Three fundamen tally different positions were defended: Nominalism.a have no independent existence as such: they only "exist" in and through the objects that exhibit them. Only particulars exist. Abstract "objects" are existents in name only, mere thought fictions by whose means we address concrete particular things. Realism. Abstracta have an independent existence as such. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to perceptual qualities of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. The internal phenomenological structure of colours is considered here in some detail, and a comparison is (...) drawn with sounds and their synthesis. This paper examines the type of explanation that is needed, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is argued to be of only marginal relevance. (shrink)
Modern industrialized populations lack the strong positive correlations between wealth and reproductive success that characterize most traditional societies. While modernization has brought about substantial increases in personal wealth, fertility in many developed countries has plummeted to the lowest levels in recorded human history. These phenomena contradict evolutionary and economic models of the family that assume increasing wealth reduces resource competition between offspring, favoring high fertility norms. Here, we review the hypothesis that cultural modernization may in fact establish unusually intense reproductive (...) trade-offs in wealthy relative to impoverished strata, favoring low fertility. We test this premise with British longitudinal data (the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), exploring maternal self-perceptions of economic hardship in relation to increasing family size and actual socioeconomic status. Low-income and low-education-level mothers perceived the greatest economic costs associated with raising two versus one offspring. However, for all further increases to family size, reproduction appears most expensive for relatively wealthy and well-educated mothers. We discuss our results and review current literature on the long-term consequences of resource dilution in modern families. (shrink)
http://www.cla.umn.edu/jhopkins/ Taken together, twenty-four of these works constitute Nicholas of Cusa’s complete philosophical and theological treatises. They must be supplemented by studying his richly conceptual sermons, along with his ecclesiological and exegetical writings such as De Concordantia Catholica and Coniectura de Ultimis Diebus. His mathematical writings are also of interest, even though they are not of lasting importance, as Gottfried Leibniz rightly recognized.
In this brief history, philosopher Nicholas White reviews 2,500 years of philosophical thought about happiness. Addresses key questions such as: What is happiness? Should happiness play such a dominant role in our lives? How can we deal with conflicts between the various things that make us happy? Considers the ways in which major thinkers from antiquity to the modern day have treated happiness: from Plato’s notion of the harmony of the soul, through to Nietzsche’s championing of conflict over harmony. (...) Relates questions about happiness to ethics and to practical philosophy. (shrink)
As environmental concerns rightly take a greater role in the critical reevaluation of the American philosophical tradition, it behooves us to return again to the often slippery notion of “nature” to ask if it can be redeemed as not merely the canvas on which human endeavor is depicted but an active element of the diverse and distinct philosophical perspectives that make the tradition. Indeed, there is a great need to depict the potentially subversive ways that human and nature can be (...) understood as radically connatural, in intimate ecological and constructive relations that make nature not just the instrument for the exertion for human wants and desires but also thoroughly and... (shrink)
THE aim of this paper is to refute Hume's contention that there cannot be logically necessary connections between successive events. I intend to establish, in other words, not 'Logically necessary connections do exist between successive events', but instead the rather more modest proposition: 'It may be, it is possible, as far as we can ever know for certain, that logically necessary connections do exist between successive events.' Towards the end of the paper I shall say something about the implications of (...) rejecting Hume's contention. (shrink)
It is commonly accepted by Kant scholars that Kant held that all necessary truths are a priori, and all a priori knowledge is knowledge of necessary truths. Against the prevailing interpretation, I argue that Kant was agnostic as to whether necessity and a priority are co-extensive. I focus on three kinds of modality Kant implicitly distinguishes: formal possibility and necessity, empirical possibility and necessity, and noumenal possibility and necessity. Formal possibility is compatibility with the forms of experience; empirical possibility is (...) compatibility with the causal powers of empirical objects; noumenal possibility is compatibility with the causal powers of things in themselves. Because we cannot know the causal powers of things in themselves, we cannot know what is noumenally necessary and what is noumenally contingent. Consequently, we cannot know whether noumenal necessity is co-extensive with a priority. Therefore, for all we know, some a priori propositions are noumenally contingent, and some a posteriori propositions are noumenally necessary. Thus, contrary to the received interpretation, Kant distinguishes epistemological from metaphysical modality. (shrink)
This is the first book-length philosophical study of Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology and Freud’s theory of the unconscious. The book investigates the possibility for Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology to clarify Freud’s concept of the unconscious with a focus on the theory of repression as its centre. Repression is the unconscious activity of pushing something away from consciousness, while making sure that it remains active as something foreign within us. How this is possible is the main problem addressed in the work. Unlike previous (...) literature (including Ricœur, Merleau-Ponty and Derrida) this book makes full use of the resources of genetic phenomenology and passivity in the attempt to clarify the Freudian unconscious. The central argument developed is that the structure of the lebendige Gegenwart as the core of Husserl’s theory of passivity consists of preliminary forms of bodily kinaesthesia, feelings and drives in a constantly ongoing process where repression occurs as a necessary part of all constitution. The clarification of Freudian repression thus takes place by showing how it presupposes a broad conception of consciousness such as that presented by Husserl’s genetic phenomenology. By arguing that “repression” is central to any philosophical account of subjectivity, this book takes on the most distinct challenge to philosophy posed by Freud. (shrink)
Nicholas Rescher examines a number of controversial social issues using the intellectual tools of the philosopher, in an attempt to clarify some of the complexities of modern society, technology, and economics. He elucidates his thoughts on topics such as: whether technological progress leads to greater happiness; environmental problems; endangered species, costly scientific research on the frontiers of knowledge, medical/moral issues on the preservation of life; and crime and justice, among others.
Expanding on his 1976 study of the bearing of Christian faith on the practice of scholarship, Wolterstorff has added a substantial new section on the role of faith in the decisions scholars make about their choice of subject matter.
For four decades it has been argued that we need to adopt a new conception of science called aim-oriented empiricism. This has far-reaching implications and repercussions for science, the philosophy of science, academic inquiry in general, conception of rationality, and how we go about attempting to make progress towards as good a world as possible. Despite these far-reaching repercussions, aim-oriented empiricism has so far received scant attention from philosophers of science. Here, sixteen objections to the validity of the argument for (...) aim-oriented empiricism are subjected to critical scrutiny. (shrink)