[Robert Stalnaker] Saul Kripke made a convincing case that there are necessary truths that are knowable only a posteriori as well as contingent truths that are knowable a priori. A number of philosophers have used a two-dimensional model semantic apparatus to represent and clarify the phenomena that Kripke pointed to. According to this analysis, statements have truth-conditions in two different ways depending on whether one considers a possible world 'as actual' or 'as counterfactual' in determining the truth-value of the (...) statement relative to that possible world. There are no necessary a posteriori or contingent a priori propositions: rather, contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori statements are statements that are necessary when evaluated one way, and contingent when evaluated the other way. This paper distinguishes two ways that the two-dimensional framework can be interpreted, and argues that one of them gives the better account of what it means to 'consider a world as actual', but that it provides no support for any notion of purely conceptual a priori truth. /// [Thomas Baldwin] Two-dimensional possible world semantic theory suggests that Kripke's examples of the necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori should be handled by interpreting names as implicitly indexical. Like Stalnaker, I reject this account of names and accept that Kripke's examples have to be accommodated within a metasemantic theory. But whereas Stalnaker maintains that a metasemantic approach undermines the conception of a priori truth, I argue that it offers the opportunity to develop a conception of the a priori aspect of stipulations, conceived as linguistic performances. The resulting position accommodates Kripke's examples in a way which is both intrinsically plausible and fits with Kripke's actual discussion of them. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons. That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop values and beliefs besides those that presently make up her motives, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. An agent wills freely, on this view, by beingultimately (...) responsible for how she is currently disposed to act. Kane needs, then, to show how an agent could be responsible for decisions that her deliberations did not guarantee. He must also explain how a decision for which there is no decisive reason could yet be rational, assuming that the responsibility engendering decisions forming the basis of a free will would be rational. I shall argue here that Kane has achieved neither of these goals. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.<sup>1</sup> That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product (...) of decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
Donald Coxeter died in 2003, at a ripe old age of 96. Though I had regularly seen him at mathematics talks in Toronto for over twenty years, I never felt rushed to seek him out. It seemed he would go on forever. His death left me regretting my missed opportunity and Siobhan Robert's excellent book makes me regret it even more. Like any good biography of an intellectual, King of Infinite Space contains personal details and mathematical achievements in some (...) detail. Thus, we learn of the traumatic effects on Coxeter of his parents' divorce, his search for a spouse, his vegetarianism, and his progressive politics. We also learn a fair bit about the kaleidoscopes he made while in Cambridge during his student days in order to study the symmetry properties of polyhedra. These involved mirrors that Coxeter had specially constructed for this purpose. Along the way we are treated to interesting tidbits, such as G.H. Hardy's detestation of mirrors . There are brief accounts of the brilliant notation Coxeter invented, known as Coxeter diagrams, and of course, the now famous Coxeter groups. Short appendices fill in a bit more detail. It is all very well done and thoroughly engrossing.Wittgenstein befriended Coxeter, who was part of the very small group to whom …. (shrink)
For most of the problems that economists consider, the assumption that agents are self-interested works well enough, generating predictions that are broadly consistent with observation. In some significant cases, however, we find economic behavior that seems to be inconsistent with self-interest. In particular, we find that some public goods and some charitable ventures are financed by the independent voluntary contributions of many thousands of individuals. In Britain, for example, the lifeboat service is entirely financed by voluntary contributions. In all rich (...) countries, charitable appeals raise large amounts of money for famine relief in the Third World. The willingness of individuals to contribute to such projects is an economic fact that requires an explanation. (shrink)
This volume is a continuation of Robert Greystones on the Freedom of the Will: Selections from His Commentary on the Sentences. From this, five of the most relevant questions were selected for editing and translation in this timely volume. This edition should prompt not just a footnote to, but a re-writing of the history of philosophy.
Kelly Aguirre, Phil Henderson, Cressida J. Heyes, Alana Lentin, and Corey Snelgrove engage with different aspects of Robert Nichols’ Theft is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory. Henderson focuses on possible spaces for maneuver, agency, contradiction, or failure in subject formation available to individuals and communities interpellated through diremptive processes. Heyes homes in on the ritual of antiwill called “consent” that systematically conceals the operation of power. Aguirre foregrounds tensions in projects of critical theory scholarship that aim for dialogue and (...) solidarity with Indigenous decolonial struggles. Lentin draws attention to the role of race in undergirding the logic of Anglo-settler colonial domination that operates through dispossession, while Snelgrove emphasizes the link between alienation, capital, and colonialism. In his reply to his interlocutors, Nichols clarifies aspects of his “recursive logics” of dispossession, a dispossession or theft through which the right to property is generated. (shrink)
Robert Owen was one of the most extraordinary Englishmen who ever lived and a great man. In a way his history is the history of the establishment of modern industrial Britain, reflected in the mind and activities of a very intelligent, capable and responsible industrialist, alive to the best social thought of his time. The organisation of industrial labour, factory legislation, education, trade unionism, co-operation, rationalism: he was passionately and ably engaged in all of them. His community at New (...) Lanark was the nearest thing to an industrial heaven in the Britain of dark satanic mills; he tried to found a rational co-operative community in the USA. In everything he contemplated, he saw education as a key. This selection of his writings on education illustrates his rationalist concept of the formation of character and its implications for education and society; also his growing utopian concern with social reorganisation; and third, his impact on social movements. Silver's introduction shows Owen's relationship to particular educational traditions and activities and his long-term influence on attitudes to education. (shrink)
Neither the existence of God nor the nature of God is apparent or obvious. If God exists, why is it not entirely clear to everyone that this is so? How can theists explain God's hiddenness, and how plausible are their explanations? God, if God exists, is an omnipotent, morally good, omnipresent being, than whom none greater can be conceived. Surely it is well within the abilities of God to let God's existence and nature be known to us. Why isn't the (...) existence and nature of our Heavenly Father as apparent as, say, the existence of our various earthly fathers? (shrink)
The claim that rationality is ‘limited, falsified and unhelpful’ for explaining norms is false, for it does not apply to rationality as conceptualized by rational choice theory. Rationality as conceptualized by rational choice theory is not limited: it can be used to develop explanations of any observed human behavior. Rationality as conceptualized by rational choice theory has not been falsified: indeed, it is not falsifiable. Rationality as conceptualized by rational choice theory is not unhelpful for explaining norms: it is often (...) used to develop explanations of observed norms, including norms that seem most puzzling. Rationality as conceptualized by rational choice theory provides a universal framework for developing explanations of human behavior. (shrink)
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
A standard objection to act utilitarian theories is that they are not helpful in deciding what it is morally permissible for us to do when we actually have to make a choice between alternatives. That is, such theories are worthless as decision procedures. A standard reply to this objection is that act utilitarian theories can be evaluated solely as theories about right-making characteristics and, when so evaluated, their inadequacy as decision procedures is irrelevant. Even if somewhat unappealing, this is an (...) effective reply to the standard objection. (shrink)