A dozen papers by internationally known scholars explore questions largely unthinkable without Richard Watson's classic Downfall of Cartesianism: Descartes in Holland, Descartes and Simon Foucher, and issues raised by Descartes for philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, translation and toleration.
John Donne's song was hardly written in the tradition of political philosophy, but it has a good deal to say about the theme of luck, both good and bad, which I want to address. There is no doubt but that bad luck has bad consequences for the persons who suffer from it. If there were a costless way in which the consequences of bad luck could be spread across everyone in society at large, without increasing the risk of its occurrence, (...) then most of us would pronounce ourselves better off for the change. In this sense it can be said, for example, that there is a utilitarian grounding for a moral obligation to care and provide for those persons who suffer the fortunes of bad luck. For the sake of argument I do not wish to contest this particular starting point, although there are many who would. Instead, I want to ask the question of whether this moral obligation should be converted into a legal obligation, backed by public force. The dominant answer to that question today is yes. Even those who think that markets should determine decisions on production find that the state has a proper role to reduce the adverse consequences of bad luck. My cast of mind is more skeptical. In life, or, in this instance, politics, “come bad chance, and we do join to it our strength.” In general the effort to use coercion to counter the adverse effects of luck tends only to make matters worse. (shrink)
Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. Socially, the proposition may well be true. But in the world of ideas it is false: to the extent that two incompatible traditions use the same words or symbols to articulate different visions of legal or social organization, imitation begets confusion, not enlightenment. The effects of that confusion, moreover, are not confined to the world of ideas, but spill over into the world of politics and public affairs. Words are more (...) than tools of description: they work also as tools of persuasion and transformation. Let a term have a favorable connotation in one context, and its imitative use can mislead people into thinking that a major departure from established practice is merely the extension or updating of an old principle to deal with new circumstances. (shrink)
There is long-standing disagreement among systematists about how to divide biodiversity into species. Over twenty different species concepts are used to group organisms, according to criteria as diverse as morphological or molecular similarity, interbreeding and genealogical relationships. This, combined with the implications of evolutionary biology, raises the worry that either there is no single kind of species, or that species are not real. This book surveys the history of thinking about species from Aristotle to modern systematics in order to understand (...) the origin of the problem, and advocates a solution based on the idea of the division of conceptual labor, whereby species concepts function in different ways - theoretically and operationally. It also considers related topics such as individuality and the metaphysics of evolution, and how scientific terms get their meaning. This important addition to the current debate will be essential for philosophers and historians of science, and for biologists. (shrink)
I. What Vintage of Civil Rights? In this paper I wish to compare and contrast two separate conceptions of civil rights and to argue that the older, more libertarian conception of the subject is preferable to the more widely accepted version used in the modern civil rights movement. The first conception of civil rights focuses on the question of individual capacity. The antithesis of a person with civil rights is the slave. But even if individuals are declared free, they are (...) nonetheless denied their civil rights if they are unable to own property, to enter into contracts, to make wills, to give evidence, and to sue in courts. With all these civil rights claims, the target of the individual grievance is the state; it has denied large classes of individuals the formal capacities that it recognized and protected in others. The Civil War was fought largely over slavery. In its aftermath, civil rights claims protecting individual capacity received explicit, if imperfect, statutory and constitutional protection. The postbellum protections did not guarantee these rights in absolute fashion – that is, in a way that would not be susceptible to abridgment under any circumstances. Instead, civil rights were protected in what might be called a relative fashion: whatever rights of this sort were enjoyed by white citizens were to be enjoyed by the newly freed black citizens as well. (shrink)
A broad range of intellectual perspectives may be brought to bear on any important social institution. To this general rule, the institution of private property is no exception. The desirability of private property has been endlessly debated across the disciplines: philosophical, historical, economic, and legal. Yet there is very little consensus over its proper social role and limitations. Is it possible to find a unique solution to questions of property and private ownership, good for all resources and for all times? (...) The famous defense of private property that is found in chapter 5 of John Locke's Second Treatise of Government answers this question in the affirmative, for Locke writes as though all property was given to mankind in common, and then seeks to find the quickest and most expeditious way to convert all common property into private property. His implicit, but undefended, assumption is that common forms of property are both undesirable and unstable, while private forms of ownership are always just the opposite. Yet his preferred method for moving from a commons to a regime of private property—the unilateral decision to appropriate by each actor—is one that has been frequently condemned as a sop to unbridled egotism, even though it is subject to two constraints: the first against waste, and the second requiring the appropria-tor to leave “enough, and as good” for others. (shrink)
'Tis true governments cannot be supported without great charge, and it is fit everyone who enjoys a share of the protection should pay out of his estate his proportion for the maintenance of it. But still it must be with his own consent, i.e., the consent of the majority giving it either by themselves or their representatives chosen by them. For if any one shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the people, by his own authority, and (...) without such consent of the people, he thereby invades the fundamental law of property and subverts the end of government. For what property have I in that which another may by right take when he pleases to himself. (shrink)
The design of new constitutions is fraught with challenges on both issues of structural design and individual rights. As both a descriptive and normative matter it is exceedingly difficult to believe that one structural solution will fit all cases. The high variation in nation size, economic development, and ethnic division can easily tilt the balance for or against a Presidential or Parliamentary system, and even within these two broad classes the differences in constitutional structure are both large and hard to (...) measure. The only confident claim is that some system of separation of powers coupled with checks and balances is needed. Deciding which system, however, is far harder. In contrast, that same level of doubt does not arise in connection with the correct specification of individual right. Strong systems of negative rights on matters of liberty, property, religion, and speech are preferable across a wide range of social organizations. On the other hand, any effort to create systems of positive entitlements will fail because of the negative effects that they have on wealth creation and the inability to define or limit the scope of the relevant entitlements. (shrink)
This article defends the classical liberal view of human interactions that gives strong protection to associational freedom except in cases that involve the use of force or fraud or the exercise of monopoly power. That conception is at war with the modern antidiscrimination or human rights laws that operate in competitive markets in such vital areas as employment and housing, with respect to matters of race, sex, age, and increasingly, disability. The article further argues that using the “human rights” label (...) to boost the moral case for antidiscrimination laws gets matters exactly backwards, given that any program of forced association on one side of a status relationship is inconsistent with any universal norm governing all individuals regardless of role in all associative arrangements. The articled also discusses the tensions that arise under current Supreme Court law, which protects associational freedom arising out of expressive activities, but refuses to extend that protection to other forms of association, such as those involving persons with disabilities. The great vice of all these arrangements is that they cannot guarantee the stability of mandated win/lose relationships. The article further argues that a strong social consensus against discrimination is insufficient reason to coerce dissenters, given that holders of the dominant position can run their operations as they see fit even if others do otherwise. It closes with a short model human rights statute drafted in the classical liberal tradition that avoids the awkward line drawing and balancing that give rise to modern bureaucracies to enforce modern antidiscrimination laws. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to explore the relationship between the various forms of individual self-interest and the appropriate structures of government. I shall begin with the former, and by degrees extend the analysis to the latter. I do so in order to mount a defense of principles of limited government, private property, and individual liberty. The ordinary analysis of self-interest treats it as though it were not only a given but also a constant of human nature, and thus makes (...) few allowances for differences between persons. Yet common experience tells us that personality and behavior are as unique as fingerprints. The positive inquiry, therefore, is how we find what is constant about self-interest in a world of natural human diversity. The normative inquiry must take into account both the constant and variable features of human nature in order to determine what forms of social arrangements hold the greatest prospect of long-term social advantage. The gulf between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ must be overcome here, as it must be in all normative discourse. Yet we cannot make sensible judgments of what ought to be the case in the domain of rules unless we first have some idea of what is the case in the domain of behavior. The initial inquiry asks why self-interest is regarded as a constant of human behavior. The explanation derives more from the biological and less from the social. The powerful pressures of natural selection weed out any organisms for whom selfinterest is not the paramount consideration. (shrink)
A monumental work on the flow of time, from the universe's creation to "Now," by the best-selling author of Physics for Future Presidents. "Now" is a simple concept--you're reading this sentence now. Yet a real definition of "now" has eluded even the great Einstein. We know that time stretches and is affected by gravity and velocity. Yet, as eminent physicist Richard A. Muller points out, it is only today that we have all the physics at hand--relativity, entropy, entanglement, antimatter, (...) and the Big Bang--to explain the flow of time. With these building blocks in place, Muller reaches a startling conclusion: our expanding universe is continuously creating not only new space but also new time. The front edge of this new time is what we call "now," and this moment is truly unique--it is the only moment in which we can exercise our free will. Muller's thought-provoking vision is a powerful counter to established theories in science and philosophy, and his arguments will spark major debate about the most fundamental assumptions of our universe. (shrink)
Modern biological classification is based on the system developed by Linnaeus, and interpreted by Darwin as representing the tree of life. But despite its widespread acceptance, the evolutionary interpretation has some problems and limitations. This comprehensive book provides a single resource for understanding all the main philosophical issues and controversies about biological classification. It surveys the history of biological classification from Aristotle to contemporary phylogenetics and shows how modern biological classification has developed and changed over time. Readers will also be (...) able to see how biological classification is in part a consequence of human psychology, language development and culture. The book will be valuable for student readers and others interested in a range of topics in philosophy and biology. (shrink)
Making a significant contribution to the theory of democracy, this reference maintains that the advantage of democracy is not that it is the rule of the wise or the good, but that it enables stability and orderly succession in government and limits the tendency of rulers to empower themselves to the disadvantage of the public.
Dans le Philèbe de Platon, Socrate fait valoir que la vie bonne doit consister en la connaissance et le plaisir. Une partie de cette démonstration consiste en une analyse des parties de la connaissance où la connaissance peut être plus ou moins pure, plus ou moins mêlée d’éléments étrangers tels que la sensation ou l’expérience. Lorsqu’elle est pure, elle s’attache à la vérité, pure et simple. Car, nous devons l’admettre, la connaissance est vraie, quoiqu’elle puisse être d’autre par ailleurs. La (...) connaissance peut rendre les humains bons, c’est-à-dire leur permettre de bien faire, de manière fiable et souple, mais elle a son bien au-delà de l’existence humaine – elle n’est pas limitée à l’existence humaine. Nous suggérons ici que Platon détermine en fait la connaissance à partir de sa finalité – sa cause finale est utilisée pour déterminer sa cause formelle : ce que vise la connaissance nous dit ce qu’elle est. Au lieu de nous fournir une analyse selon l’aporie finale et insatisfaisante du Théétète (« l’opinion vraie accompagnée de raison »), la connaissance est ainsi dotée d’une justification fonctionnelle. Une partie de cette proposition est que la connaissance se doit d’être vraie ; c’est ce qui garantit sa stabilité : elle est à elle-même sa propre fin. Le bien de la connaissance, c’est la vérité. C’est ce qui lui permet de se comporter comme un guide pour l’âme. Les attributs additionnels de ce clan, qui est celui de la connaissance, découlent de la vérité et de leur relation à elle : exactitude, clarté et pureté. Car dans la mesure où ils sont purs et sans mélange avec des éléments étrangers tels que la pratique ou la sensation, ils ne s’intéressent qu’à des unités exactes, de choses qui sont ce qu’elles sont, de sorte que leur clarté n’est en rien troublée. C’est la dialectique qui recherche et établit cela. (shrink)
Because the first book of most professional philosophers is a revised dissertation, Watson presents a plan for writing that dissertation in such a way that its chapters will serve as publishable articles and the dissertation itself will ...
Posner characterizes the current preoccupation with moral and constitutional theory as an evasion of the real need of American law, which is for a greater understanding of the social, economic, and political facts out of which great legal controversies arise, and advocates a rebuilding of the law on the basis of systematic empirical inquiry.
The training and experience of such academic philosophers as Richard Rorty and Hilary Putnam do not equip them with the economic and other social‐scientific tools necessary to make useful contributions to political discussion. In the case of Rorty, this has resulted in his being unable to make effective ripostes to left‐wing critics of his defense of “bourgeois liberalism,” his uncritical endorsement of simplistic arguments for social reform, and his embrace of false prophecies of doom, such as those found in (...) Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty‐Four. Moreover, his disdain for “theory” has blinded him to the utility of mid‐level theories, such as those of economics, in dealing with concrete social problems. (shrink)
On liberty, by J. S. Mill.--Morals and the criminal law, by P. Devlin.--Immorality and treason, by H. L. A. Hart.--Lord Devlin and the enforcement of morals, by R. Dworkin.--Sins and crimes, by A. R. Louch.--Morals offenses and the model penal code, L. B. Schwartz.--Paternalism, by G. Dworkin.--Four cases involving the enforcement of morality: Shaw v. Director of Public Prosecutions; People v. Cohen; Repouille v. United States; Commonwealth v. Donoghue.--Bibliography (p. 149).
Rare is the scholarship that does not somewhere refer to Hobbes's philosophy as a system, but nowhere does Hobbes refer to his philosophy by this term. Since Hobbes in most recognized for his moral and political philosophy, and since the interpretation of his moral and political concepts varies with the variety of views about the systematic relationship between his political and natural philosophy, the issue of system is the most crucial in Hobbes interpretation. ;The standard interpretation is that Hobbes's anthropology (...) is the direct logical result of his mechanistic materialism, that his thoroughly modern moral and political philosophy is the logical consequence of that anthropology. Taylor and Strauss for different reasons denied a systematic relationship between Hobbes's political and natural philosophy, thus ushering in almost fifty years of Hobbes research following their insights, as well as a new generation of scholars who sought to render Hobbes's philosophy systematic by finding in his works new principles of systematization. But as late as 1982, even Willms noted that a comprehensive book on system had not yet emerged. ;This dissertation attempts to show that Hobbes's political philosophy is demonstrative, as he intended it to be, only if it is based upon his natural philosophy. Chapter one traces the history of the system concept to the Seventeenth Century to find an historically accurate operational description of system against which to view Hobbes's philosophy. Chapter Two spells out the systematicity in Hobbes's philosophy and shows how the formal concept of system developed in Chapter One applies accurately to Hobbes's philosophy. Chapter Three confirms the view of Hobbes's system established in Chapter Two by showing that Hobbes's view of Aristotle depends upon his own view of philosophic system. Chapter Four argues that Hobbes did intend a system in which the political philosophy depends upon the natural and that, as a result, Hobbes's moral and political concepts, particularly natural right and natural law, are not "moral" in any traditionally recognized sense. (shrink)
Because little is known about the human trait of affiliation, we provide a novel neurobehavioral model of affiliative bonding. Discussion is organized around processes of reward and memory formation that occur during approach and consummatory phases of affiliation. Appetitive and consummatory reward processes are mediated independently by the activity of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA)–nucleus accumbens shell (NAS) pathway and the central corticolimbic projections of the u-opiate system of the medial basal arcuate nucleus, respectively, although these two projection (...) systems functionally interact across time. We next explicate the manner in which DA and glutamate interact in both the VTA and NAS to form incentive-encoded contextual memory ensembles that are predictive of reward derived from affiliative objects. Affiliative stimuli, in particular, are incorporated within contextual ensembles predictive of affiliative reward via: (a) the binding of affiliative stimuli in the rostral circuit of the medial extended amygdala and subsequent transmission to the NAS shell; (b) affiliative stimulus-induced opiate potentiation of DA processes in the VTA and NAS; and (c) permissive or facilitatory effects of gonadal steroids, oxytocin (in interaction with DA), and vasopressin on (i) sensory, perceptual, and attentional processing of affiliative stimuli and (ii) formation of social memories. Among these various processes, we propose that the capacity to experience affiliative reward via opiate functioning has a disproportionate weight in determining individual differences in affiliation. We delineate sources of these individual differences, and provide the first human data that support an association between opiate functioning and variation in trait affiliation. Key Words: affiliation corticolimbic-striatal networks; appetitive and consummatory reward; dopamine; oxytocin; personality; social bonds; social memory; u-opiates. (shrink)
This paper compares and contrasts relational quantum mechanics with a pragmatist view of quantum theory. I first explain important points of agreement. Then I point to two problems faced by RQM and sketch DP?s solutions to analogous problems. Since both RQM and DP have taken the Born rule to require relative facts I next say what these might be. My main objection to RQM as originally conceived is that its ontology of relative facts is incompatible with scientific objectivity and undercuts (...) the evidential base of quantum theory. In contrast DP?s relative facts have all the objectivity we need to accept quantum theory as scientific knowledge. But a very recent modification to RQM has successfully addressed my main objection,bringing the two views into even closer alignment. (shrink)
Transcript and English translation of La naissance de la paix -- Analysis of La naissance de la paix -- Did Descartes write La naissance de la paix? -- Descartes's doctrine of the will -- The power of the will -- Controlling bodily desires -- Willing the good -- The sources of willing -- Did Descartes read Corneille? -- Descartes's political philosophy -- Evidence and methods of construction -- The sovereign state -- Descartes's life and politics -- Discours de la methode (...) -- Constitution of a Swedish Academy -- Arts and sciences -- Les passions de l'âme. (shrink)
This unorthodox volume of related literary-philosophical essays is sure to ruffle a few feathers by making merry with the styles of philosophy fashionable today, and in each of the last four decades. Beginning with a strictly formalistic treatment of the relationship of perfection of form to truth of content in literature, Watson (author of the widely reviewed work, The Philosopher's Diet) comes full circle to a concluding essay in which the content of life is unraveled as a pig's meaningless "tale." (...) In between, the reader is taken on a Cook's Tour of hopping and skipping, meaning, seducing, dying, and dreaming in such alluring essays as "The Seducer and the Seduced," "Ape Dreams," and "A Pig's Tail." The chapters focus on one or more fundamental arguments so dear to philosophers of many stripes, but are written with an attention to style not found in conventional philosophy. Writing in a discipline for which a robust sense of humor applied to the pursuit of "serious" philosophy is apt to mean professional oblivion, Watson aims his wittiest salvos at the Dogmatic and Edifying Intent of popular philosophical objectives. He highlights the stylistic conceits and ambiguity that often turn quite ordinary statements into ponderous pendantics. Are these pieces parodies or not? Does Watson really hold the positions he sets forth, or is he making lighthearted fun? Yes! The Philosopher's Joke will amuse and delight, frustrate and annoy, but above all, it will make readers think. (shrink)