Au-dela du probleme de l'obligation universelle dans le cadre des dilemmes moraux que pose la logique deontique, l'A. etudie la question de la conformite en tant que version formalisee du probleme de l'engagement en philosophie morale. Examinant les solutions pragmatiques des dilemmes inextricables, l'A. etablit une distinction entre les operateurs moraux et les guides de l'action au sein des dilemmes impliquant l'idee de devoir.
It is, I think, possible to generate a variation of McTaggart’s (Mind 17:457–474, 1908) paradox that infects all extant versions of presentism. This is not to say that presentism is doomed to failure. There may
be ways to modify presentism and I can’t anticipate all such modifications, here. For the purposes of the paper I’ll understand
‘presentism’ to be the view that for all x, x is present (cf. Crisp (2004: 18)). It seems only right that, at a conference devoted to McTaggart’s work on time, we continue to pursue new ways in which
his now infamous arguments remain relevant to us today.
KeywordsMcTaggart-Presentism-Philosophy of time
The topic of this essay is how non-realistic novels challenge our philosophical understanding of the moral significance of
literature. I consider just one case: Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I argue that standard philosophical views, based as they are on realistic models of literature, fail to capture the moral
significance of this work. I show that Catch-22 succeeds morally because of the ways it resists using standard realistic techniques, and suggest that philosophical discussion
of ethics and literature must be pluralistic if it is to include all morally salient literature, and not just novels in the
“Great Tradition” and their ilk.
The abductivist reply to skepticism is the view that commonsense explanations of the patterns and regularities that appear
in our sensory experiences should be rationally preferred to skeptical explanations of those same patterns and regularities
on the basis of explanatory considerations. In this article I critically examine Laurence BonJour’s rationalist version of
the abductivist position. After explaining why BonJour’s account is more defensible than other versions of the view, I argue
that the notion of probability he relies upon is deeply problematic, that he incorporates an implausible double-standard concerning
a priori and a posteriori justification, and that his view is vulnerable to skepticism about the a priori. I suggest that
some of these problems are due to idiosyncratic commitments BonJour makes and that abductivists would be better off without
them. I conclude with some suggestions about how to improve BonJour’s abductivist response to skepticism.
This paper argues for two related theses. The first is that mathematical abstraction can play an important role in shaping the way we think about and hence understand certain phenomena, an enterprise that extends well beyond simply representing those phenomena for the purpose of calculating/predicting their behaviour. The second is that much of our contemporary understanding and interpretation of natural selection has resulted from the way it has been described in the context of statistics and mathematics. I argue for these claims by tracing attempts to understand the basis of natural selection from its early formulation as a statistical theory to its later development by R.A. Fisher, one of the founders of modern population genetics. Not only did these developments put natural selection of a firm theoretical foundation but its mathematization changed the way it was understood as a biological process. Instead of simply clarifying its status, mathematical techniques were responsible for redefining or reconceptualising selection. As a corollary I show how a highly idealised mathematical law that seemingly fails to describe any concrete system can nevertheless contain a great deal of accurate information that can enhance our understanding far beyond simply predictive capabilities.
This paper provides a defence of the account of partial resemblances between properties according to which such resemblances
are due to partial identities of constituent properties. It is argued, first of all, that the account is not only required
by realists about universals à la Armstrong, but also useful (of course, in an appropriately re-formulated form) for those who prefer a nominalistic ontology
for material objects. For this reason, the paper only briefly considers the problem of how to conceive of the structural universals
first posited by Armstrong in order to explain partial resemblances, and focuses instead on criticisms that have been levelled
against the theory (by Pautz, Eddon, Denkel and Gibb) and that apply regardless of one’s preferred ontological framework.
The partial identity account is defended from these objections and, in doing so, a hitherto quite neglected connection—between
the debate about partial similarity as partial identity and that concerning ontological finitism versus infinitism—is looked
at in some detail.
KeywordsPartial identity–Partial similarity–Property–Structural–Conjunctive–Ontological finitism–Ontological infinitism
In this paper, I take up an argument advanced by Keith DeRose (Philosophical Review, 111:167–203, 2002) that suggests that the knowledge account of assertion provides the basis of an argument in favor of contextualism. I discuss
the knowledge account as the conjunction of two theses—a thesis claiming that knowledge is sufficient to license assertion
KA and one claiming that knowledge is necessary to license assertion AK. Adducing evidence from Stalnaker’s account of assertion,
from conversational practice, and from arguments often raised in favor of the knowledge account, I suggest that neither the
AK nor the KA theses are plausible. That is, I argue that the knowledge account of assertion to which DeRose appeals is in
fact not suitable as an account of assertion. Given that DeRose’s argument stands and falls with the knowledge account, I
claim that the argument therefore fails.
The dispositional account of colour has recently come under fire from a number of different directions (reflecting the various
alternative options mentioned at the beginning). I believe that in the above I have dealt with the principal objections raised
against this account by those who reject it. I cannot pretend to have established that the account is true; but if I am right
about the failure of the objections I have discussed, and the difficulites of alternative accounts of colour, then dispositionalism
appears to remain the most promising account of colour available.
Focusing on Nicholas Maxwell’s thesis that “science, properly understood, provides us the methodological key to the salvation
of humanity”, the article discusses Maxwell’s aim oriented empiricism and his conception of Wisdom Inquiry as advocated in Maxwell’s (2009b, pp.1–56) essay entitled “How Can Life of Value Best Flourish in the Real World?” (in Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell 2009, edited by Leemon McHenry) and in Maxwell (2004 & 2009a).
KeywordsRationality of science-Metaphysical assumptions-Aim and methodology of science-Popper, Maxwell and aim oriented empiricism-Aim-oriented rationality, Wisdom inquiry-Global challenges before humanity-The role of values
The first part of this essay is basically historical. It introduces the explanation–understanding divide, focusing in particular
on the general–unique distinction. The second part is more philosophical and it presents two different claims on action. In
the first place, I will try to say what it means to understand an action. Secondly, we will focus on the explanation of action
as it is seen in some explanatory sciences. I will try to argue that in some cases these sciences commit what I call an “external
In recent years, many incompatibilists have come to reject the traditional association of moral responsibility with alternative
possibilities. Kevin Timpe argues that one such incompatibilist, Eleonore Stump, ultimately fails in her bid to sever this
link. While she may have succeeded in dissociating responsibility from the freedom to perform a different action, he argues,
she ends up reinforcing a related link, between responsibility and the freedom to act under a different mode. In this paper,
I argue that Timpe’s response to Stump exploits concessions she need not have made. The upshot is that, contrary to what Timpe
maintains, there is no reason to doubt that Stump's brand of incompatibilism is a genuine alternative to the traditional variety.
Although John Rawls is a persistent critic of intuitionism where intuitionism is taken to be the thesis that there is a plurality of first principles in morality and that there is no rationally defensible way of establishing priorities among these principles, the suspicion persists that Rawls’ own theory of justice is closer to intuitionism than Rawls recognizes. Even if Rawls has succeeded in lexically ordering the two principles of justice so that liberty is prior to equality, except in situations where the very survival of society is at stake, Rawls’ success is seriously qualified if it is confined to the choice of principles for the design of social institutions and does not extend to the choice of principles for actions by individuals. Here Rawls’ indictment of intuitionism as ‘but half a conception’ of justice (TJ, 41) appears to haunt his own conception of justice, especially since Rawls himself acknowledges that principles for individual actions are ‘an essential part of any theory of justice’ (ibid., 108).
Some philosophers have argued that refraining from performing an action consists in actively keeping oneself from performing that action or preventing one’s performing it. Since activities must be held to be positive actions, this implies that negative actions are a species of positive actions which is to say that all actions are positive actions.
I defend the following claims:
Positive actions necessarily include activity or effort, negative actions may require activity or effort, but never include the activity or effort which may be required.
Unless it is, or was, at some time in P’s power to Q, P does not refrain from Q-ing.
Negative actions are actions, they are causings of negative facts.
Psychological Altruism (PA) is the view that everyone, ultimately, acts altruistically all the time. I defend PA by showing
strong prima facie support, and show how a reinterpretive strategy against supposed counterexamples is successful. I go on
to show how PA can be argued for in ways which exactly mirror the arguments for an opposing view, Psychological Egoism. This
shows that the case for PA is at least as plausible as PE. Since the case for PA is not plausible, neither is that for PE.
Grounded in what Alan Wertheimer terms the “nonworseness claim,” it is thought by some philosophers that what will be referred
to herein as “better-than-permissible acts”—acts that, if undertaken, would make another or others better off than they would
be were an alternative but morally permissible act to be undertaken—are necessarily morally permissible. What, other than a bout of irrationality, it may be thought, would
lead one to hold that an act (such as outsourcing production to a “sweatshop” in a developing country) that produces more
benefits for others than an act that is itself morally permissible (such as not doing business in the developing country at
all) with respect to those same others, is not morally permissible? In this article, I argue that each of the two groups of
philosophers that are most likely to accept the nonworseness claim—consequentialists and non-consequentialists—have reason
to reject it, and thereby also have reason to reject the belief that better-than-permissible acts are necessarily morally
KeywordsBetter-than-permissible acts–Ethical theory–Nonworseness claim–Political philosophy