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.
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.
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.
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).
[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.
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.
The classification of the sciences is one of the most discussed and analysed aspects of Peirce’s corpus of work. I propose that Peirce’s attempt at systematising the sciences is characterised by a distinctive historicity, which I construe in two complementary senses. First, I investigate Peirce’s classification as part of a broader nineteenth-century move toward classifying the sciences, a move that was at the same time motivated by social and epistemological goals. I claim that this re-contextualisation adds an entirely new layer to the otherwise distinctively internalist readings of Peirce’s classification. I then look at how Peirce’s scheme, especially in the form it displayed in the early 1890s, relates to his own historical writings, particularly his history of science. Looking at Peirce as a historical actor in his own right through the lens of his classification, I claim, is indispensable to understand the contemporary relevance of his contributions to the history and historiography of the sciences.
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) is known today as the first American philosopher, and as the ‘founder of pragmatism.’ Indeed, Peirce was both and much more. In a partial list of roles he played during his life, Peirce graduated as a chemist, published as an astronomer, worked in geodesy, wrote as a philosopher, and defined himself as a logician. While he gained only a partial, late recognition in his time, today the broadness of his interests is reflected by the diversity of the people that refer to him, either for scholarly study or for inspiration. The 21 essays constituting Su Peirce provide an overview of Italy’s scholarship on Peirce’s philosophical, semiotic and historical thought.
The contributions presented in this symposium explore, from different perspectives, the relationship between pragmatism and history, that is, the empirical study of the human past. These connections run deep, and may be assessed on several counts. First of all, many pragmatist philosophers have devoted a great deal of attention to investigating the nature of historical knowledge and its relevance to philosophy. Classical pragmatists such as Peirce, Dewey and Mead laid a strong emphasis on processuality and evolution as fundamental philosophical categories. At the same time, they rejected intuitionist or a-priorist conceptions of knowledge, advocating instead a continuity between philosophy and empirical inquiry. This approach was also sustained by their general skepticism towards overly closed systems, and by a keen interest in individuality and the unexpected consequences of experience. In this sense, it is not an accident of their intellectual biographies that they also painstakingly reflected on the methodology of historiography, and dedicated themselves in first person to concrete historical studies (in particular, of science).
Although not known as a philosopher of history, George Herbert Mead wrote and taught seriously about the nature of the past and about historical investigation throughout his career. The paper identifies the major documentary sources and interpretive literature with which to reconstruct Mead’s radically social and dynamic conceptualization of history and extends beyond the existing literature to develop striking implications of Mead’s approach in response to possible criticisms and challenges. By connecting Mead’s writings on history with his broader social theory of action, democracy, and consciousness, the paper shows how Mead provides a novel grounding of our understandings of history in ongoing social processes and suggests that better historical knowledge may be related to participatory, inclusive social practices. As a result, historians have a responsibility to social reconstruction and society’s self-reflection, in Mead’s view. Because of the novel ways in which Mead’s approach explores the relationship between history and social progress he warrants renewed attention and scrutiny from researchers and theorists of history.
A common view is that Charles Peirce influenced Josiah Royce. This paper demonstrates that Josiah Royce influenced Charles Peirce. A chronology is presented, followed with a brief description of a change in Peirce’s thinking from studying the writings of Royce.
I present the history of philosophy, and history more generally, as a context of ideas, with respect to which philosophers and historians share concerns about the meaning of the texts they both use, and where for some there is a principled contrast between seeing meaning in quasi-mathematical terms (“a philosophical stance”) or in terms of context (“a historical stance”). I introduce this imagined (but not imaginary) world of ideas as temporally extended. Returning to my early research into the epistemic problems of historiography, I present my view that foundational was meaningful language in a shared world, and I display some difficulties found in handling the “wholeness” of historical accounts. I came to realise that it was epistemic opposition between historical accounts that mattered. I concluded that analytical philosophy was wrong to assume that individual sentences were freestanding meaningful units that could be juxtaposed with others at whim, and that an understanding of the rational grounds for determining relevance was needed. In order to make sense of this I used Quine’s conception of the “web of belief,” and noted that a historical account could be treated as a “unit of empirical significance” in his terms. I observe that, although the epistemic problems of history arose for me before I considered his pragmatic position, nevertheless attention to those problems required me to adopt the Quine-based form of pragmatism I describe. I came to realise that I had wrongly adopted a synchronic view of the Quinean web, thereby adopting a “philosophical stance.” Rather, the web should be conceived in diachronic terms as a rolling web, so forming history itself. It is wrong to think that language started in atomistic terms so that, following Aristotle, it first consisted of simple concepts forming sentences of brief and narrow subject-predicate form. Instead, early communications took the form of oral traditions usually in narrative form. Meaningful wholes such as historical accounts are conceptually prior to atomistic sentences and need to be seen in extended temporal terms, so that an Aristotelian subject-predicate metaphysics is implausible. Quine’s pragmatism framed and facilitated my historical stance despite the unashamed philosophical stance that he adopted.
In this paper I shall examine how the pragmatists regarded the context of a single self in time (the problem of personal development over the life course) and the context of a single self in social space (the problem not only of surrounding individuals but also of surrounding and fundamentally different groups). After a quick glance at the ontologies of the earlier pragmatists, I discuss the problems of individual development and social difference as they emerged society-wide during and after the first pragmatist generation. Having specified these problems, I can set the second pragmatist generation in the context they provide. The paper concludes with a discussion of the centrality of accounts of development and difference in a processualized social ontology.
In this introduction I closely read Marquand’s arguments in “On Scientific Method in the Study of Art” both in relation to their sources and in relation to Marquand’s own subsequent scholarship. My thesis is that Charles Sanders Peirce’s writing is the most conspicuous and important inspiration for the essay; however I also contend that Marquand’s handwritten corrections to the surviving manuscript of the text reveal a struggle with Peirce’s ideas that can – especially in light of Marquand’s later writing – be read to expose an ambivalent or potentially even critical attitude toward central aspects of Peirce’s thought. I conclude by noting that Marquand’s intellectual relationship with Peirce speaks to both the past, present, and future of art historical scholarship.
In this paper, the authors address the perceived recent trend of funding and publishing bodies that seem to have taken a regard of qualitative research as a subordinate to, or even a subset of, quantitative research. In this reflection, they pull on insights that Hans-Georg Gadamer offered around the history of the natural and human science bifurcation, ending with a plea that qualitative research needs to be received, appraised, judged, and promoted by different lenses and criteria of value.
Guest post by Susan Schneider
If AI outsmarts us, I hope its conscious. It might help with the horrifying control problem – the problem of how to control superintelligent AI (SAI), given that SAI would be vastly smarter than us and could rewrite its own code. …
A cash transfer recipient in Kenya, in front of the house he built with the money, in 2014. Photo: GiveDirectly. The New Statesman journalist Stephen Bush recently predicted that, having achieved their life-long dream of taking Britain out of the EU, the right-wing press’s next target will be DfiD and Britain’s commitment to foreign aid. …