. The allegation that P-values overstate the evidence against the null hypothesis continues to be taken as gospel in discussions of significance tests. All such discussions, however, assume a notion of “evidence” that’s at odds with significance tests–generally Bayesian probabilities of the sort used in Jeffrey’s-Lindley disagreement (default or “I’m selecting from an urn of nulls” variety). …
Let’s suppose that it is possible for us to come to know by empathy what other people are thinking and feeling, where empathy is some kind of direct perception of what goes on in their minds that isn’t based on inference of any kind. Given that the thoughts of other people, in turn, may reveal further facts about them and the external world, empathy may be a way of coming to know non-psychological facts as well. This informational role of empathy is the main focus of Michael Slote’s ‘The Many Faces of Empathy’. Slote argues that empathy is a way of acquiring knowledge of the world and moral facts, and is essential to the transmission of knowledge by testimony.
My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most theories of agent causation are. Rather, I argue that the notion of agent causation introduced here best explains how it is that you are making your body move during an action, thereby providing a satisfactory solution to the problem of action.
Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) is typically, though quite wrongly,
considered a coarse social Darwinist. After all, Spencer, and not
Darwin, coined the infamous expression “survival of the
fittest”, leading G. E. Moore to conclude erroneously in
Principia Ethica (1903) that Spencer committed the
naturalistic fallacy. According to Moore, Spencer's practical
reasoning was deeply flawed insofar as he purportedly conflated mere
survivability (a natural property) with goodness itself (a non-natural
property). Roughly fifty years later, Richard Hofstadter devoted an entire
chapter of Social Darwinism in American Thought (1955) to
Spencer, arguing that Spencer's unfortunate vogue in late
nineteenth-century America inspired Andrew Carnegie and William Graham
Sumner's visions of unbridled and unrepentant capitalism.
Alexander was a Peripatetic philosopher and commentator, active in the
late second and early third century CE. He continued the tradition of
writing close commentaries on Aristotle’s work established in the
first century BCE by Andronicus of Rhodes, the editor of Aristotle’s
‘esoteric’ writings, which were designed for use in his
school only. This tradition reflected a gradual revival of interest in
Aristotle’s philosophy, beginning in the late second century BCE, and
helped to reestablish Aristotle as an active presence in philosophical
debates in later antiquity. Aristotle’s philosophy had fallen into
neglect and disarray in the second generation after his death and
remained in the shadow of the Stoics, Epicureans, and Academic
skeptics throughout the Hellenistic age.
Rampant moral relativism is widely decried as the leading source of the degeneracy of modern life. Though I proudly count myself a relativist, I rather doubt that relativism has anything like the cultural influence that its most ardent critics fearfully attribute to it. Much of what gets criticized under the rubric of relativism is often really no such thing. Relativists need not be hedonists, egoists, nihilists or even moral skeptics.
Two questions about singular or de re thought are seldom as sharply distinguished as they deserve to be. The first concerns singularity of form. The second concerns singularity of content. Though much has been written in recent years about singularity of content, less attention has been given to questions about singularity of form. This was not always so. The question why our thought and talk should take the form of thought and talk about objects at all once occupied center stage for philosophers as diverse as Kant, Frege, and Quine. Though the KantFregeQuine question has been largely absent from the stage in recent philosophy, if we are to see both what is right and what is wrong about certain prominent views about the nature of singular thought, it is time to shine the klieg lights once again on the formcontent distinction. The prominent views are the widely endorsed acquaintance condition on singular thought and the less widely endorsed but nonetheless tempting view that Robin Jeshion has recently called semantic instrumentalism. Semantic instrumentalism is the view that singular thoughts about an object can be had on the cognitive cheap merely by manipulating the apparatus of singular reference. Most theorists of singular thought endorse some more or less demanding acquaintance condition on singular thought. As such, they mostly reject semantic instrumentalism. Indeed, most theorists accept some acquaintance condition because they think that semantic instrumentalism could not possibly be true. But one thing that I shall try to show in this essay is that when semantic instrumentalism is restricted to its proper scope, it captures a deep, though only partial truth about the nature of singular thought. And I shall also argue that acquaintance has been oversold as a constraint on the possibility of the de re thinkability of objects. And the key to seeing this all is keeping proper track of the formcontent distinction for singular thought.
The number of degrees of freedom in a system is the number of numerical parameters that need to be set to fully determine the system. Scientists have an epistemic preference for theories that posit systems with fewer degrees of freedom. …
Kant begins the First Section of the Groundwork with a statement that is one of the most memorable in all his writings: “There is nothing it is possible to think of anywhere in the world, or indeed anything at all outside it, that can be held to be good without limitation, excepting only a good will” (Ak 4:393). Due to the textual prominence of this claim, readers of the Groundwork have usually proceeded to read that work, and Kant’s other ethical works as well, on the assumption that the truth of that assertion, and therefore the conception of the good will, both occupy a fundamental place in Kantian ethics. The assumption, however, becomes increasingly hard to sustain as we gain more familiarity with Kant’s ethical writings and better understanding of his ethical theory. As for the concept of the good will, Kant does avow the intention of “developing” it (Ak 4:397), and he goes on to thematize concepts that he thinks of as related to the good will (the moral worth of an action, acting from duty). But he never provides an explicit account of what he takes a ‘good will’ to be.
Many different ideas have been given the name ‘relativism’, and the term has been used to pillory all sorts of views (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad ones). It is mere posturing to say that you are for or against “relativism” unless you say what you mean by the term. Here I want mainly to discuss (and to criticize) a view I have encountered among students in philosophy courses, who say things like this: "What anyone believes is true for that person. What you believe is true for you, what I believe is true for me." We can call the view expressed in such statements ‘relativism’ because it denies that there is any such thing as “absolute” truth, holds that all truth is relative to the person who believes it.
This is my first trip to South Africa. In fact, it is my first time on the continent of Africa, and even my first adventure south of the equator. I am honored to be speaking in South Africa, because I regard this nation as just about the only one whose history in the past half century might have the power to inspire us with hope. My own country, for instance, the United States, has long thought of itself (and even been thought of by others) as a defender of human rights and liberty. But during the past fifty years, it has become the world’s leading imperialist power. It now engages without hesitation in brutal wars of aggression. It regards its military power as exempting it from all international law and even from all recognized standards of human decency. At home as well as abroad, it turning into a sham all the conceptions of human rights, and all the ideals of democracy and freedom, to which it still has the arrogance to think of as its exclusive property.
Hegel spent most of his life as an educator. Between 1794 and 1800, he was a private tutor, first in Bern, Switzerland, and then in Frankfurt-am-Main. He then began a university career at the University of Jena, which in 1806 was interrupted by the Napoleonic conquest of Prussia, and did not resume for ten years. In the intervening years, he was director of a Gymnasium (or secondary school) in Nuremberg. In 1816, Hegel was appointed professor of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, then abruptly ascended to the chair in philosophy at the University of Berlin in 1818, where he remained until his sudden death from cholera in 1831.
By the year 1768, Kant claimed to be at work on a system of ethics, under the title “metaphysics of morals” (Ak 10:74). During the so-called ‘silent decade’ of the 1770s, when Kant was working on the Critique of Pure Reason, he promised repeatedly not only that he would soon finish that work but also that he would soon publish a “metaphysics of morals” (Ak 10:97, 132, 144). Yet it was not until four years after the first Critique that Kant finally wrote a work on ethics, and even then he merely laid the ground for a metaphysics of morals by identifying and establishing the supreme principle on which a system of duties would be based (G 4:392). Three years later, in the Critique of Practical Reason Kant once again dealt entirely with foundational questions in moral philosophy. Kantian ethics is primarily known, especially among English-speaking philosophers, through these two ethical works of the 1780s, neither of which contains anything like a ‘metaphysics of morals’.
When we ask whether “values” are “objective”, what are we asking about? What is at stake? The agendas of different questioners are varied, and the issues are seldom entirely clear or explicit. When issues about the ‘objectivity of values’ are raised by people with certain kinds of political motives, one typical aim is simply the short term legitimation or de-legitimation of certain kinds of rhetoric in certain limited argumentative or political contexts. Sometimes the assertion that there are ‘objective’ values (or even ‘Objective Truth’) is merely a crude rhetorical device used on behalf of dogmatic and intolerant individuals who see themselves as courageous defenders of The Right, and view anyone who questions what they believe in as enemies of What is Right. But this superficial ploy works, when it works at all, only by focusing attention on self-answering meta-questions (about whether there is anything Right at all, and whether one should try to be on its side), thus distracting attention from the real issues, which are whether what they believe really is true, whether they have any good reasons for believing it, and whether any truth at all could possibly warrant the dogmatic and intolerant spirit in which they act in the name of what they believe.
In the Preface to his best known work on moral philosophy, Kant states his purpose very clearly and succinctly: “The present groundwork is, however, nothing more than the search for and establishment of the supreme principle of morality, which already constitutes an enterprise whole in its aim and to be separated from every other moral investigation” (Groundwork 4:392). This paper will deal with the outcome of the first part of this task, namely, Kant’s attempt to formulate the supreme principle of morality, which is the intended outcome of the search. It will consider this formulation in light of Kant’s conception of the historical antecedents of his attempt.
If you ask a philosophy professor this question, there are several things you might hope to be told by way of an answer. You might want to hear how the professor thinks the subject of philosophy fits into an academic curriculum. You might want to watch the professor try to justify the place of philosophy, or of departments of philosophy, within a university. If you ask more than one professor, you might like to see different philosophers, representing different standpoints or specialties within the field, attempting to give an account of the field as a whole. You probably want to listen to them trying to vindicate their own philosophical positions or argue for the centrality (or at least the indispensability) of their own subfield.
Kant was among the first to break decisively with the eudaimonistic tradition of classical ethics by declaring that the moral principle is entirely distinct and divergent from the principle of happiness (G 4:393, KpV 5:21-27). I am going to argue that what is at issue in Kant’s rejection of eudaimonism is not fundamentally any question of ethical value or the priority among values. On the contrary, on these matters Kant shares the views which led classical ethical theory from Socrates onward to embrace eudaimonism. Instead, where Kant breaks with classical ethics is in the conception of human nature. Kant’s conception of human nature so altered the application of moral principles that it forced a change in the way happiness was conceived, leading to a reversal of what had earlier been thought about the relation of the principle morality to the pursuit of happiness.
One of the principal aims of Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, especially of the Doctrine of Virtue, is to present a taxonomy of our duties as human beings. The basic division of duties is between juridical duties and ethical duties, which determines the division of the Metaphysics of Morals into the Doctrine of Right and the Doctrine of Virtue. Juridical duties are duties that may be coercively enforced from outside the agent, as by the civil or criminal laws, or other social pressures. Ethical duties must not be externally enforced (to do so violates the right of the person coerced). Instead, the subject herself, through her own reason and the feelings and motives arising a priori from her rational capacities -- the feelings of respect, conscience, moral feeling and love of other human beings, must constrain herself to follow them (MS 6:399-404). Among ethical duties, the fundamental division is between duties to oneself and duties to others.
Religion and subjectivity. In Part Four of Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant states his more or less official definition of ‘religion’: “Religion is (subjectively considered) the recognition of all our duties as divine commands” (Ak 6:153; cf. 6:443). To be religious, for Kant, is to view all one’s duties as commands issued to one by God. Kant’s wording of this definition, apparently restricting the definition to religion “subjectively considered”, might suggest that there could be another, “objective” way of considering religion, and this “objective religion” might have a different definition.
Freedom is important. Modern liberal societies are built around it. Citizens fight for their fundamental freedoms — rights to speech, thought, religious expression, education, work and so on — and governments are evaluated relative to their success in securing these freedoms. …
A great deal of the criticism directed at John Locke’s theory of abstract ideas, including George Berkeley’s famous critique (PHK, Intro §§7–21), assumes that a Lockean abstract idea is a special kind of idea which by its very nature either represents many diverse particulars or represents separately things that cannot exist in separation (see Intro §10). I will call this the intrinsic theory of abstraction, since it holds that abstract ideas differ intrinsically from concrete (i.e., non-abstract) ideas. The claim that Locke held the intrinsic theory has been challenged by scholars such as Kenneth Winkler and Michael Ayers who regard it as uncharitable to Locke in light of the obvious problems faced by this theory of abstraction. Winkler and Ayers argue that Locke instead followed Antoine Arnauld in holding that to have an abstract idea is to attend selectively to some portion of the content of a particular idea. On this view, to have an abstract idea is not to have a special kind of idea but to have an ordinary idea in a special way. I will call this the extrinsic theory of abstraction, since it holds that ideas are not intrinsically abstract but rather are abstract in virtue of the manner in which they are had (perceived).
The talk gives a formal analysis of public lies, and explains how public lying is related to public announcement.
Suppose that we have a minor parking infraction that, in justice, deserves about a $40 fine. Let’s suppose the infraction is so clear when it occurs that there cannot be reasonable appeal. The local authorities used to levy a $40 fine each time they saw a violation, but to reduce administrative costs, they raised the fine to $200, but each time the parking enforcement officer sees a violation he tosses a twenty-sided die, and only levies the fine if the die shows a one. …
Constructive empiricism is the version of scientific anti-realism
promulgated by Bas van Fraassen in his famous book The Scientific
Image (1980). Van Fraassen defines the view as follows:
Science aims to give us theories which are empirically adequate; and
acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically
adequate. (1980, 12)
With his doctrine of constructive empiricism, van Fraassen is widely
credited with rehabilitating scientific anti-realism. There has been a
contentious debate within the philosophy of science community over
whether constructive empiricism is true or false.
[Editor's Note: The following new entry by Helen De Cruz replaces the
on this topic by the previous author.] The relationship between religion and science is the subject of
continued debate in philosophy and theology. To what extent are
religion and science compatible? Are religious beliefs sometimes
conducive to science, or do they inevitably pose obstacles to
scientific inquiry? The interdisciplinary field of “science and
religion”, also called “theology and science”, aims
to answer these and other questions. It studies historical and
contemporary interactions between these fields, and provides
philosophical analyses of how they interrelate.
Suppose that I have Alister, who is an identical twin of Bob, registered in my class. One day, Alister is not feeling well, but knowing about Baylor's absence policy, he asks Bob to attend in his place, and while he's there to tell me, quite correctly, that the term paper that Alister is working on is almost finished. …
One often talks of the “uniformity of nature” in the context of the problem of induction: the striking and prima facie puzzling fact that the laws of nature that hold in our local contexts also hold in non-local contexts. …
Recently there has been a lot of discussion of the value of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) as a measure of implicit bias — discussion generated largely by a new paper by Calvin Lai, Patrick Forscher and their colleagues that presents the results of a meta-analysis of studies conducted using the IAT, plus a provocative article in New York magazine by Jesse Singal that discusses that paper and the methodological controversy it’s a part of. …
Recently, James Hawthorne, Jürgen Landes, Christian Wallmann, and Jon Williamson published a paper in the British Journal of Philosophy of Science in which they claim that the Principal Principle entails the Principle of Indifference -- indeed, the paper is called 'The Principal Principle implies the Principle of Indifference'. …
Truthlikeness in historiography would allow us to be optimistic fallible realists about historiography – to hold that historical knowledge is about the past, true albeit fallible, and can increase over time. In this paper, three desiderata for a concept of truthlikeness in historiography will be outlined. One of the main challenges for truthlikeness is historiographic skepticism which holds that historiography is indistinguishable from fiction and cannot therefore furnish us with true knowledge about the past. Such skepticism rests on the postmodern challenge, which will be criticized on the grounds that it rests on an implausible theory of meaning. It will be shown that Peirce’s semeiotic and pragmatist theory of truth, interpreted dialogically or game-theoretically, provides a suitable framework within which to pursue the project of defining a concept of truthlikeness for historiography. Finally, directions for possible future research into truthlikeness in historiography, including ways of defining a measure of truthlikeness, will be considered.