Does Hume maintain a plausible position through his skepticisim which claims that there is no authority beyond taste for the evaluation of works of art? Why, or why not?
I'm not sure that Hume's position is sceptical, or that he is saying that there is no authority beyond taste, since the ideal critic possesses more than what we might see as mere taste, i.e. he has informed appreciation, and so can be looked upon as the person who determines standards of what is good. This doesn't support a view of beauty as objective, that is, as having a form which can be determined mathematically as it is thought to be by some to be today. But ideal critics exemplify a criterion for distinguishing good from bad art. This means that there is a standard by which we can be right or wrong in making a judgement that something is beautiful. I think Hume's position is very plausible.
But firstly, there is a very clear article by Jerrold Levinson, "Hume's Standard of Taste: the Real Problem" in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, summer 2002. Levinson argues that if the standard embodied in the nature of judgement, as discriminating and unprejudiced, etc is not indicatively connected to the body of works which we regard as masterpieces, we cannot claim that such works are really paradigms of artistic value, but only that they are judged to be so by ideal critics. Levinson holds that the test of time and a work's being of such a quality such as to provide a certain aesthetic response, is compatible with Hume's theory of the nature of the ideal critic and the idea of a standard and that this fleshes out his position. Hume allows that beautiful works are naturally fitted to please us, and the ideal critics, being people of experience, recognise the body of work which has passed of time.
Levinson's article is good. The test of time alone doesn't provide an idea of standards, and we do classify masterpieces, and we do make distinctions. The standards for judging embodied in ideal critics do not allow us to assert that there really are objects of beauty. It could be a matter of some things simply appealing to the more informed sort of person. What I don't agree with is that by becoming an ideal critic, your aesthetic experiences are more worthwhile than those of others where this is taken as a reason for everyone to aspire to appreciate works marked out as good by the ideal critic. This cannot avoid scepticism.
I think we can agree with Levinson's fleshing out of Hume's position which makes it much less sceptical, or at least less subjective, than it might seem to be. But what is really plausible in Hume is that he enables us to distinguish between mere taste, or sentiment of the non-critic, from the informed view. In admitting this distinction, which is a real one (in film theory which is insecure in the area of the canon, the canon or standard of judgement is a bit of an obsession and there are constant lists of the industry's best films vs the directors' best films vs the public's) there is the possibility of taking the informed appreciation of the critic as truly correct and not based on sentiment in any major way. Hume does expect "refined" sentiment in the critic, but this is compatible with being well-informed and unprejudiced so that he is expected clearly see what is good and being of refined sentiment might be taken to mean lacking in sentimentality with its connotations of being inappropriately emotionally swayed. This then, is another way in which Hume might be seen as having a plausible, non-sceptical position. The original Greek meaning to "aesthetic" was that it was the perceived as opposed to the conceived, or the sensible as opposed to the rational. It is that which is out there to be appreciated in a certain way and Hume can be taken as maintaining this meaning, his essay on taste being about the nature of a type of judgement, the informed judgement which sets the canon of the masterpiece.
So that is in support of Hume. Against him, you might claim his view of how works of excellence are established is partially elitist in terms of judgement, but the institution of art is so. Plausible again.
Okay this is a question not related to any philosophical study but I would like to know how to prevent it...Me and my buddy every once and awhile argue/ discuss about worldly issues and many other views, perception, interpretations, and situations...it always starts with opposing view points and logical examples...but in one instance we will be arguing about a specific subject and focusing on that specific subject...and all the sudden my buddy will switch focus on the focal subject and instead of granting I have validity in the matter will break it down to a lower level, say a molecular level or that everything is based on of faith...completely deriving from his original side to the argument and taking a new one and every time can cover himself by relating his original view point to, say faith.
Seems like a no-win situation to me...and I have to grant that he is right because if I don't I will be disagreeing with my own beliefs...it seems like to me he is doing this to just win the argument or argue for the sake of arguing.
Like this evening we got into a discussion about why people argue and I said that "people argue/ discuss things to come to one agreeable truth, to weigh the facts and use deductive reason to come up with a truth not an absolute but an understandable truth". Now from what I remember through my life no-one has ever argued differently but he says "one argues for the simple reason to be frustrated" and we discussed it for a few minutes longer throwing in our proofs and he said "because people believe things through faith and that someone will have one view point and leave with that view point happily and the other the same that it is the frustration that is the key point to arguing."
Now what I didn't understand is why would he argue if he knows he's keeping his view on a subject in the end, and he said to that "because arguing is fun"...seems ridiculous to me and I know he believes differently because he has stated it in the past that he believes the same as me but when confronted he just said it was wrong for someone to keep grudges or tabs on another person like I did and that he had changed his point of view...what am I supposed to do, not grant him that he can change? I can't do that so I granted it but I know he didn't mean it...my dilemma is really how do I stray from this loss of focal point and get him to stick to the subject...heck I know that I can't...more or less how do I stop something like that from happening...if he disagrees with me and that is usually how the arguments start, not the other way around, how do I stop the argument without letting him believe he has a more valid point...I can't just shut up after he disagrees with me and if I say something like "every one has there own interpretation" he keeps going by say "well it's not an interpretation it's just the way it is"...if I shut up then it looks like he smighted me, I look like the fool...heck maybe I might have to do that but I figure you people maybe have come across something like this.
He's a slick arguer I completely grant and this happens rarely other than that he is a great guy we mess completely most of the time except for those situations so just droppin' a friend over bad arguing is out of the question...I was just looking for that queen instead of the pawn to help me out...
if this sounds frustrating and confusing too understand you now know how I feel :)
A long question and a lot of frustration. I will give it a try.
Chris suggests one theory why people argue (to reach a synthesis). Buddy suggests a different theory (to be frustrated i.e. on the downside one has not converted the other, on the upside one retains one's own belief). Chris does not see the point of this and Buddy then offers a new explanation (arguing for fun). I think in this condensed form you will see yourself what is going on here (admittedly less easy to unravel in the heat of argument).
From a philosophical/ psychological and rhetorical point of view both Chris and his buddy make some mistakes:
a) they use terms without defining them e.g. 'argument' I think if they had spent more time to compare what each understands by that term there would be room for agreement that there are lots of types of argument (e.g. dialectic argument [thesis and counterthesis result in synthesis], debate [argument with the intention to win others over to your position] etc.) The term 'reason' is used by Buddy in two different ways when he claims the 'reason' why people argue is 'to be frustrated' and then 'to have fun'. It is not totally clear what he means e.g. it could be fun to have your expectation of the outcome confirmed, or the process could be experienced as 'fun' while the outcome is also in a way 'frustrating'...
b) generalisations and arguing from a single case to the general: Both use generalisations, bad tactics since generalisations can be defeated by even one exception i.e. when Chris suggests that 'people' argue for such and such a reason his opponent basically only has to say 'I am a person, and I do not argue for that reason therefore your hypothesis is defeated.' Buddy however also uses generalisations. Both would be better off if they stated clearly what they really mean, and said: 'I argue because....'. Furthermore both generalise their own experience which is fallacious for the following reason: To argue from a single case to all cases is not necessarily valid i.e. it can happen to be true that both Socrates is mortal and all men are mortal, but 'Socrates is Greek and therefore all men are Greek' is obviously nonsense. Validity can be reached only the other way round from the general to the special case: All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.
c) most importantly they do not before the start discuss what their objectives in the discussion are and whether in the knowledge of the other's objectives they really want to have this discussion: Clearly in this dialogue Chris behaves according to his theory (he wants to reach a synthesis) and Buddy according to his (he wants to maintain his point of view and Chris to maintain his, he wants to have fun simply from the argument, but expects no results other than that). I think one can see that these two objectives were they clearly stated at the beginning would make it clear to Chris that his objective is incompatible with that of Buddy (Buddy would not agree to any synthesis) and the result for him must be frustration, whereas Buddy might be successful (he is determinated to maintain his opinion no matter what and does not make a real effort to convert Chris, so Chris will most likely also stick to his opinion, confirming Buddy's view of how arguments should work, and Buddy derives fun from this type of argument).
On a psychological level I would say that both are engaged in playing a 'game'. Psychological games are played by people to derive some benefit usually for the sake of the emotions involved, they thrive on the emotional response (even if negative) elicited from their 'partner'. The bad thing about this is that people playing this type of game do this instead of trying to get real emotions (love, friendship, appreciation etc) and that the emotions in the game are almost always negative (the strong frustration Chris is feeling). Also these 'games' are about control Buddy is clearly controlling the process he turns Chris' propositions into a 'game' or offers outrageous or paradoxical statements as bait... Basically I would suspect any repeatedly occurring pattern that is somehow frustrating for at least one party involved of being a 'game'... The formula here is: Buddy wants attention from Chris and this is the way of getting it. Chris should realise that Buddy is not in the least interested in the topics they discuss (or rather unless they stop playing games Buddy cannot engage in serious discussion). Chris should ask himself whether he is interested enough to assure Buddy of his friendship/ attention in other ways rather than re-inforcing this 'game' behaviour. Also he should have a critical look at himself is he really only interested in the topics they discuss or is he also into game-playing?
There are ways to stop such games but they normally result in the 'game' instigator turning very angry and also you must be very persistent, because he will not give up easily.
Here is how: Ask the person: Do you expect to convince me? If the answer is no why should you continue? It is clearly a game. Or ask: What would it take to convince you of my point of view? Under which circumstances would you consider changing your mind or adapting your position? If the answer is that they would not consider anything 'enough' do not continue, you would be playing their game. Ask also: What is your objective in the discussion/ argument with me? If the objective they name is not yours as well say so and stop the discussion.
Another way is also possible Socrates was very good at that (but also in this case the outcome is normally anger) ask questions, while not under any circumstances volunteering any information or interpretation of your own, just keep asking questions.
Chris (trying to end the argument): "Everyone has there own interpretation. Actually I happen to disagree with you but I can live with you having a different opinion."
Buddy: "Well it's not an interpretation it's just the way it is..."
Chris: "What do you mean by 'the way it is' do you mean it is true? That you know it is true?"
The next move is to ask for a definition of whatever term he used i.e. of 'truth' or 'knowledge' or 'reality' (do not allow him to use examples, he must be able to come up with a proper definition, otherwise how would he be able to know the truth of the proposition he asserted in the first place or know that he knows it or what it means to say 'the way something is'? Also do not allow use of 'sayings' or generalisations persist politely that you want to understand his own, personal view, that he should share his knowledge and enlighten you also etc.)
Whatever definition he comes up with scrutinize it i.e. ask for definition of the terms used if new terms are introduced, check whether it is possible to construct an example that leads to absurd consequences or circular reasoning, contradiction etc., then ask him to restate the definition etc.
Say the answer is 'knowledge is if the content of your proposition matches the state of how things in themselves are' but how do you know how things really are? Say if I say to you 'this is a table' how do you know it is true, that there is indeed a table?' By seeing it or touching it. But you could just as well be dreaming and having exactly the same experience? Or you are like Neo experiencing the Matrix and there is no table... etc. Result: You do not know what knowledge or truth is, therefore you cannot rationally assert the truth of your original proposition, it is a belief. say the answer is 'knowledge is justified true belief' what counts as justification? how do you know/ justify that in turn? etc. see above.
Obviously you have to think on your feet to keep your opponent to the subject... so far no one has ever succeeded to resolve these questions in a way that leaves no more questions...
Whereas this sounds like a 'counter-game' to reduce the other person to a state where they have to admit to a total lack of knowledge (or flee from the discussion), it can and ideally should be also a mutually beneficial philosophizing, namely in the way that Socrates did it: Importantly at the outset he admitted to the other person that he himself did not know the definition of the term in question, and also importantly he asked their agreement to jointly investigate the matter. Socrates thought that you cannot even begin to understand things before you do not realize that your beliefs are not knowledge i.e. you must give up the false security of prejudices and half-truths and realize that you do not have knowledge. If Buddy is able to admit that (and does not give up before) Chris and Buddy may yet have some less one-sided and much more interesting and rewarding discussions.
I'm writing an extended essay with the following title: "Deontological ethics is too rigid in it's emphasis on duties, utilitarian ethics is too keen to override basic human rights." Now I was wondering if you have any tips on writing this essay. I'm a little lost on the structure. I think I want to mention Kant for the deontological part. I'm not sure if I want to mention any other deontological philosophies because I am worried that I will exceed 4000 words. What philosophers should I mention for utilitarianism, or rather who was the most important philosopher? Hume, Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Singer, all of them? On the other hand I fear the essay will be unbalanced if I mention only one deontological philosopher yet mention 4 utilitarian philosophers.
I couldn't agree with you more. About exceeding 4000 words, I mean. You are proposing to write a dissertation here, at the least. Try this: write an introduction to this issue. Take a sentence from that, being careful to choose one that seems utterly trivial, use that for an essay topic, and write an introduction to that. Take a sentence from that, again one of the most trivial, and do the same. At that point, perhaps, you may have narrowed this down to the point where you might be able to get 4000 words to mean something... but you may have to iterate a few more times, given your topic above.
Steven Ravett Brown
Since it is an extended essay, I'm assuming that you chose the title yourself. Thus, you can alter the title to read "Kant's deontological ethics... ". Then the problem disappears, does it not?
As for the utilitarians, I would leave out Hume, who is not to my mind a utilitarian at all. His ethics are based on 'fellow feeling' rather than maximizing pleasure or anything else. You might stick to Mill and Singer Bentham is interesting historically, and because he grasped the nettle of saying all pleasures are equal (which Mill would not), but you might well not need to use him if you already have Mill and Singer. If you go for one, I would advise using Mill.
Are you planning to come down on one side or the other here, or are you planning to develop a third way that avoids both problems? If the latter, you might need to look at some other alternative ethical theories, such as Hume's, or Aristotle's though that might also blow out your essay over 4000 words.
I have to write a paper concerning Rene Descartes and his opinion on animals being machines and not feeling pain. I am arguing against this view but I don't know how to approach this assignment. I was wondering if there are philosophers who do not agree with Descartes on animals and their ability to feel pain? How can I argue this?
As a beginning,I would suggest Salvador to consult the following:
Albert Schweitzer, Civilization and Ethics London: Unwin Books, 1967
Stanley and Rosalind Godlovitch and John Harris (eds), Animal, Men and Morals: An Inquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-Humans London: Victor Gollancz, 1971
Dr Mark Bernstein, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio, On Moral Considerability: An Essay On Who Morally Matters Oxford University Press, 1998
Stephen R. L. Clark, The Moral Status of Animals Oxford: The Clarenton Press, 1977
I would also suggest to look at Stephen Clark's page: http://www.liv.ac.uk/~srlclark/stephen.html
I need to know more about people intimidating others for power, even though I know they are not happy people?
Only lawyers (7 men lawyers) and 2 computer (women) teachers do this to me and then retaliate when I go to higher authority.
I feel I have a sign on me saying "victimize me" and yes I am very defensive.
I Can handle others.
This is not strictly speaking a philosophical question, but I will have a stab at it. If it is a mobbing situation you should document all instances and ask your superior officer to put a stop to it and to document your complaint. Find out what the procedure in the place is e.g. when to involve the personnel department or staff committee etc. Check also information on mobbing and bullying on the Internet, ask a Union or even your doctor would be able to point you in the direction of some information (many people fall ill because of mobbing). If it is a small company get written documentation of your complaint or take a colleague whom you trust with you to witness that you have made the complaint and when. Continue to document all instances if it does not stop and go again to your superior. He is obliged to stop it, and because if he does nothing you can even sue the company he is sure to do something about it. (Be aware though that in such a case your own behaviour also comes under very close scrutiny.)
If however you have encountered this behaviour at different times and places i.e. if these people cannot have influenced each other then you must indeed consider whether you are part of the problem. How do you react to the behaviour that you find intimidating? Maybe you run directly to 'higher authority'? It is better if you ask the person for a private conversation, then briefly describe the incident in objective terms and say clearly what you felt when the person did this and ask them to stop this behaviour. If they agree OK, give them a chance. If it occurs again you should in private again remind them of their agreement to stop this, emphasize what negative feelings you have and outline what steps you will have to take if the behaviour does not stop i.e. that you will make a formal complaint to the superior.
Again you should keep a record for yourself about the behaviour and the discussions you had. However it probably is not helpful if you assign motives to the people (you suggest they do it for power) or make judgements (i.e. that they are not happy). It is conjecture because you can never know for sure what is happening in others' minds. It is counterproductive if you let them feel or know that you think this, they will feel insulted and may react badly because of this. Also it is totally irrelevant what you think why they do it you should stick to what is objectively observable the behaviour. When raising the point for the first time with the person in private you could ask them why they act like this. If you have colleagues or friends you trust and who know these others as well you could ask them for their honest opinion on how to resolve the situation, but beware of gossip and slander.
"Organic foods are BAD, Pesticides are GOOD." Refer to rainforest, biodiversity and Third World poverty.
I was given this as an essay, which I have to do for an assessment for my final grade at A-level.
I do not have a clue on how to start this. I have looked up The Green Revolution, but I am still confused.
Oh I like this one. You've got a really neato instructor. Ok, think about it. Why are there pesticides? Just so the chemical companies can make money? Nooo... then why? They... kill....? The pesticide issue is not a black and white issue, but a horribly messy one.
Steven Ravett Brown
I would start with those capitalized words, bad and good. What can make something bad (or good)? Is the quote saying that organic foods are bad in the same sense that (say) murder is bad that is, murder is in itself an immoral thing? Or is it saying that organic food is, of itself, pretty morally neutral, but taking into account the situation of the world your chance to mention rainforest, biodiversity and Third World poverty it is a bad thing because of the effects it has. There's a start.
Quine's "gavagai": the explanations I've found have all been very simple, with a huge ending, that he was attempting to disprove the viability of metaphysics, what the hell is an explanation?
W.V.O. Quine's gavagai argument forms one of his two arguments for the thesis known as the 'indeterminacy of translation'.
The gavagai argument is the argument 'from below' as it concerns concrete cases, whereas his second argument is much more theoretical the argument 'from above' concerning the indeterminacy of any physical theory. Quine's basic thought is that if we suppose we were linguistic translators working to translate a tribe's language, we would be unable to come up with a single 'correct' translation from their language into ours. Suppose that the tribesmen say 'gavagai' whenever a rabbit runs past. It seems natural to suppose that the tribesmen mean what we mean by 'rabbit' when they say 'gavagai'. Quine's argument is that 'gavagai' is consistent with not only 'rabbit' but 'undetached rabbit part' 'temporal slice of rabbit' and many other alternatives. Furthermore, the translator could never know whether he was right to translate 'gavagai' with any single english phrase or word, because there would always be plausible alternatives that equally fitted the data. Moreover, all of the alternatives are equally viable as each other. Hence, for Quine, translation is always indeterminate.
Similarly, the argument from above, in brief, concerns the idea that for any phenonema two competing physical theories could explain the phenomena equally well and we can have no way of choosing between the two. Hence, physical theory is always underdetermined by the data because the same data is consistent with many different empircal theories. Now, as for this showing metaphysics to be impossible the basic idea is that if translation is indeterminate then so is meaning. Moreover, the indeterminacy must spread to pyschological states (beliefs desires, etc.) which are in part, identified by their linguistic content. If meaning is indeterminate, then anything that has semantics as an integral part will be indeterminate itself. Hence, most of what we consider metaphysics will be indeterminate which of course would show that metaphysics is impossible.
See Quine Word and Object 1960 and Wright 'Indeterminacy of Translation' in Blackwells Companion to Philosophy of Language eds. Hale and Wright. 1997
It is possible to trace all of one's ideas back to an earlier experience one had?
The question is: Is Hume, in your judgement, correct? If not, what would be an example of an idea that does not depend on an earlier experience? How, then, would this idea have arisen? If you agree with Hume, explain why.
Descartes for instance argued that the idea of a Perfect Being, an infinite, all-powerful God having all perfections is neither a fictitious idea produced by us nor is it an idea derived from experience, but it is implanted in us by God. His reason for this was basically that an imperfect being like a human cannot of himself give rise to an idea so perfect, and we have not experienced and cannot fully experience God in his perfection. Read the Meditations they make fascinating reading, are quite short, and available on the Internet. The problem with this is 'the idea of God' which could be attacked either as vague (then no external greater cause is required for the idea), or as the extrapolation of our own properties.
What comes first object or idea?
and Angela asked:
Our philosophy teacher asked us these questions, and I'm not so sure how to answer them. I hope you can help me.
1. What is real?
2. What comes first, idea or object?
3. What is the true source or nature of knowledge?
Well if your teacher is at all competent, they aren't meant to be answered. Think of them as Zen koans. The sound of one hand clapping, the question: "what is real". They're both cherry blossoms one contemplates as they fall into the pool, right? I mean, come on... "the true source or nature of knowledge"? Right, sure, we philosophers know all about that... in our wildest drug fantasies, maybe. I understand that as one recovers from nitrous oxide (laughing gas) intoxication one sometimes feels that one can answer those and similar questions, but the answers are lost upon waking. Oh well, good thing, too, otherwise there would be no jobs teaching philosophy, right?
Really, seriously, these are meant to stimulate you, not to be answered. Just have fun with them.
Steven Ravett Brown
According to solipsism how would I determine if another person has a mind or not?
[Continued from Answers 17]
Solipsism arises as a result of extreme skepticism (the origin of which is often traced to Descartes' Meditations, though other earlier philosophers had advanced similar ideas). The extreme skeptic sees no convincing reason to believe that anything external to themselves (their own mind) actually exists. Therefore, for a solipsist, there is no way to determine if another person has a mind or not, because this is merely a particular type of an inquiry which they have already ruled out in general terms.
I am extremely interested in the dispute over the honorary degree which Jacques Derrida received in 1992. I found it very difficult to gather information specifically on this topic. could you perhaps tell me the background of this dispute and where I could find articles written in that time about it! thank you very much in advance!
It was Cambridge. I just read that there is a letter to The Times dated 9 May 1992 in which nineteen philosophers signed a letter saying Derrida should not receive an honorary degree because his work offers "little more than semi-intelligible attacks upon the values of reason, truth and scholarship".
You can see an article on this at the following address, and now you know the university, you can do a better search for yourself.
Derrida received an honorary D. Litt. from Cambridge in 1992. As I understand it, his candidature originated in the English department, and was opposed by many members of the philosophy department. Their complaint against Derrida was broadly that levelled against the postmodernists in the more recent 'science wars': that he is deliberately obscure, in order to equivocate between the plausible (but very dull) and the fascinating (but highly implausible) such that the incautious reader may suppose him to be saying something plausible and fascinating, when it can only be one or the other. They argued that Derrida's success was due to such intellectual chicanery, and should not be rewarded.
Professor (now Emeritus) Hugh Mellor was one of Derrida's most outspoken critics among the Cambridge philosophers. He later explained his stand in an interview published in the Spring 1993 number of Cogito (reprinted in Key Philosophers in Conversation: the Cogito interviews, ed. Andrew Pyle, London: Routledge, 1999, pp. 101-113, and available on Mellor's website at http://www.dar.cam.ac.uk/~dhm11/Cogito.html).
From outside Cambridge, the philosophy department's position was supported by a letter to The Times (of London), printed on Saturday 9th May 1992, from Barry Smith, the editor of The Monist and now a professor at SUNY Buffalo. He assembled an impressive list of co-signatories: Hans Albert (Mannheim), David Armstrong (Sydney), Ruth Barcan Marcus (Yale), Keith Campbell (Sydney), Richard Glauser (Neuchâtel), Rudolf Haller (Graz), Massimo Mugnai (Florence), Kevin Mulligan (Geneva), Lorenzo Peña (Madrid), Willard van Orman Quine (Harvard), Wolfgang Röd (Innsbruck), Karl Schuhmann (Utrecht), Daniel Schulthess (Neuchâtel), Peter Simons (Salzburg), René Thom (Burs-sur-Yvette), Dallas Willard (Los Angeles) and Jan Wolenski (Cracow). The full text of the letter is available at several locations online, including http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/elljwp/againstdsdegree.htm.
Eventually the decision was forced to a vote in the Cambridge University Senate, the first time this had happened since the government minister Lord Hailsham was put up for an honorary doctorate in 1963. Derrida's supporters won by 336 votes to 204.
Plenty of information about the dispute is available online: try "Derrida honorary" in your favorite search engine. It was also widely discussed in the popular and academic press; many articles from that period should now be archived online, but you may have to pay for access see what subscriptions your library has.
What do you think Plato's Allegory of the Cave has to do with Bin Laden and his followers and their guilt or innocence of terrorism in the United States. How can the two things relate?
I think they do not relate at all. Plato in the allegory of the Cave is concerned with the world of the 'forms' and their reflection in our world i.e. our life-time, where we cannot behold directly the ideal forms of the good, the beautiful etc. Whether certain parties are or are not responsible for certain events is a very different and much more simple question, hinging entirely on the availability of evidence and interpretation of that evidence.
The question is asking for an explanation of how two groups of people in this case the followers of Bin Laden, and the compatriots of those who died in the twin towers could view the very same events from such radically different perspectives.
A common thread in radical or revolutionary thinking is the conviction that one is in possession of the light of truth and that 'the others' who condemn you are still stumbling in darkness, deceived by shadows and illusions.
My question is, What is some background information on the contractual and traditional views of marriage? What are the two views? Differences? Similarities?
Take a look at the metaphors involving love and marriage in
Lakoff, G. (1990). Women, fire, and dangerous things. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Steven Ravett Brown
What would you answer if someone asked you to discuss Kant's arguments for grounding morality in reason and his formulations of the Categorical Imperative?
I would approach this question by looking carefully at the idea of reason. Kant seems to think that reason is universal and unchanging. This, I think, is wrong. The proliferation of logics we see at present seems to bear this out. Kant thinks that reason has nothing to do with inclinations, desires or emotions. That, too, I think is wrong. Kant says that every 'rational being' imposes the Categorical Imperative upon themselves through reason. Yet his arguments as to why it must be imposed is extremely complex and beyond the understanding of many so how could they have imposed the CI through reason?
To me, morality cannot be grounded in emotion alone, nor in the sort of austere and hyper-logical reason that Kant champions. Morality needs reason, but it needs a much richer conception of reason that includes an emotional aspect.
I asked a question about Davidson's scheme/ content distinction that has been posted but without any response yet, the question was a bit garbled, I have been thinking about it and have come up with a clarified version of it, would it be possible to post this one?
Analytic truth is true by meaning (as opposed to true by empirical data), Davidsonian schemes are structured by analytic truths, so my question is if meaning is a relation between a representation and an object in the world how are analytic truths true by meaning? Does it mean that if say item 1 in a formal scheme (e.g. a proposition) was replaced by item 2 and the truth value of the proposition was maintained then items 1 and 2 are true by meaning? I.e. that they both have the same reference? If so why does that kind of relation 'constitute' the empirical data?
First off, a disclaimer: I'm a bit unsure about your question. You seem to think that Davidson maintains the analytic/ synthetic distinction, which is at odds with what he says. Hence, what I intend to do in this response is clarify the arguments regarding conceptual schemes and empirical content found in such articles as 'On the very idea of a Conceptual Scheme' which I hope will help you understand whats a play. So here goes....
Davidson sets up the discussion by arguing that the notion of a 'conceptual scheme' cannot be given enough purchase with metaphors such a 'the system of categories which organize experience'. Davidson holds that if we are going to continue talking about conceptual scheme then we better be talking about languages. So, as the issue that is at stake is whether there could be alternative conceptual schemes, Davidson holds that what this boils down to is the possibility that there could be two languages which were necessarily not translatable. ('necessarily' is key here. Davidson is not talking about languages which cannot be translatable as a contingent matter eg. Etruscan, but rather the possibility that a language could be logically impossibile to translate, i.e not translatable in any possible world). With this characterisation of conceptual schemes as languages, Davidson takes it upon himself to establish the conclusion that any langauge that it is not possible to translate is not a language at all.
Now, the first port of call in his task is the Kantian distinction between 'concept' and 'content'. According to this distinction we have a fixed set of concepts with with we can describe any possible world. Davidson holds that this distinction directly entails the analytic/ synthetic distinction, i.e. those sentences true in virtue of the concepts involved and those true in virtue of how things are in the world. Davidson then cites philosophers of science such as Kuhn and Feyeraband as examples who have rejected both these dualisms. For them, on cannot make distinctions about meaning because 'meaning is contaminated by theory'. What this amounts to is the claim that the language of Newtonian physics and the language of relativity are incommensurable, i.e different, mutually exclusive conceptual schemes are involved. Davidson then argues that this is to embrace another duality between scheme and content, which for Davidson is going to amount to a duality of language and that to which language is applied.
Davidson is sceptical of this. He argues that the example is bad because the two languages might be logically translatable even if we can't do it. Secondly, the Kuhn/ Feyeraband position does not give us any inkling of how to tell whether a new conceptual scheme has arisen. Furthermore, like Quine before him, Davidson rejects the analytic/ synthetic distinction. (There are many reasons for this the revisability of any purported analytic truth and the implication that sentences can be ascribed contents on a sentence by sentence basis wheras Davidson holds that we must attribute contents holistically (i.e as a whole set of sentences, beliefs, propositional attitudes etc.) The scheme/ content dualism of the Kuhn/ Feyeraband position could be given more purchase by saying that content is the experience/ fact/ world which needs organising and the scheme is the language which does the organising. This, Davidson holds, is the key duality of the thesis that there can be languages that it is not possible to translate. Thus, 'conceptual relativism' becomes the thesis that:
'L is a language if it stands in a relation R to experience' (where R is a fitting, organising, prediction relation)
Now, it is sentences that fit reality and predict. However, following Quine it is generally taken that languages fit reality as a whole, not as a single sentences and that it is experience that gives us the evidence to accept sentences as true. But, what it is to fit reality is what it is to be true. Remember that Davidson accepts a 'Tarskian' theory of truth, where the extension of truth in english is the set of all T-sentences. (An example of a T-sentence: 'Snow is white' is true if and only if snow is white.) Davidson is getting at the idea that the two proposed languages which are not intertranslatable are both largely true. Now, the key point is that Davidson holds, with Tarki, that translation is a key element in a theory of truth, for the theory of truth needs a translation from object-language to meta-language. Recall the the theory of meaning is going to take the from of T-sentences such as, 'Snow is white' is true if and only if snow is white. For a langauge to be capable of truth is for it to be translatable. For example, a theory of meaning for German in English is going to yield the T-sentence, ''Schnee ist weiss' is true if and only if snow is white. Hence, translatability is a condition of being a language, which would show a non translatable language is not really a language at all. Q.E.D.
What I've tried to do is run through the argument of Davidson's key article on Scheme and Content. It is important to note that key elements recur in Davidson's work a truth conditional account of meaning, the relationship between a theory of truth and a theory of meaning, radical interpretation and holism. It is useful to think about these issues in relation to anything he writes, as it does all fit together even if it's hard to see.
The main teachings of the Judeo-Christian religion is guilty of the fallacy appeal to fear. Whether I am a Christian or not, as a philosopher I would have to abolish all arguments and ideas based around the teachings of a Judeo-Christian nature. Is this true?
One important thing for a philosopher is to be as accurate as possible, and to give a fair rendering of all positions, especially those which one does not agree with or intends to oppose/ attack. (Having said that I am still trying hard myself to reach this goal...) When asked 'Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets' (Matthew 22, 38-40). So it is not true that the main teachings of the Judeo-Christian religion are guilty of the fallacy appeal to fear. Furthermore I think you misunderstand the consequence of fallacies if you can show an argument to be fallacious it means no more and no less than the fact that this argument is useless as proof for the conclusion it is supposed to support. So if and only if the other arguments depend on the fallacious one could they be discarded with it (and you'd have to show this dependency first)... basically depending on which question you want to work on as a philosopher you have to consider the current discussion and existing positions (and even historical ones). Basically the dividing feature between religion and philosophy is that in a discussion on philosophy you can argue only from reason and evidence available and accepted by all i.e. not from authority, scripture or personal mystical experience, revelations etc.
1. Can we disprove the existence of infinity by making some impossible conclusions based only on infinity as supposition?
a. Imagine two continuous lines from of infinite length, one is continuous and the other is dotted, which one possesses more points?
b. Imagine a cube with sides of infinite length, expanding outwards, can time indicate this change? no? how can there exist a change not needing time to indicate it?
2. If god is above time, and there can be no action without change, (i.e. time) then how can god create, think, give orders, hate, love, etc etc?
3. Which is more possible, time having existed infinitely in the past (which I doubt to exist) or a time that was created (and if created then it can have no cause because a cause needs time before the time and this is impossible). Please include the "singularity" of the big-bang as explanation.
1. Infinity does not exist, any more than a finite number, as such, exists. Numbers are ideas we have. Do ideas exist? Well, there are several positions on that one.... So you cannot prove or disprove, I claim, the "existence" of infinity, in the sense of objective existence.
a) they have the same number of points. See the reference below.
b) there cannot be change without time.
2. Good question. Since I'm not a theist, I'm not troubled by it.
3. Does time exist? See Kant on this.
Ok, look. You need, at the minimum, before you even start to think about this stuff, to read: Georg Cantor Contributions to the founding of the theory of transfinite numbers. Dover Publications publishes it, and you can probably find it in other editions. He explains very clearly about the various orders of transfinite numbers ("infinities"). I'll start you off: the number of integers is aleph-null. The number of all real numbers (which includes surds) is aleph-one, which is a higher order of infinity. The number of positive integers is aleph-null, which is also the number of all integers, and indeed all rational numbers. The number of points on a line is aleph-one. If you remove all integers from the line, the number of points is still aleph-one. The number of functions is aleph-two. And on and on.
Steven Ravett Brown
What time of day is a person most creative?
This sounds to me like it isn't a philosophical question at all. We might need to do some philosophizing to ascertain just what we mean by creative, and what signs we are going to use to measure someone's level of creativity at a given time, but then we would need to do an empirical study to find the answer. That would be psychology. I don't know of any such studies, so I can't answer the question.
You obviously have a subjective feeling about the time of day you are most creative. However, by asking the question you show that you recognize that the subjective feeling, on a particular occasion, about how creative you are being need not necessarily correspond to objective reality. So how does one tell? What would an objective test for creativity be like? Good question.
I need help with my essay topic. The question is.
"The problem of other minds is a pseudo-problem. Discuss"
Dale also asked:
What happens when a person dies?
This might be too late, but you could look at a book called The Philosophy of Mind by V.C. Chappel to see why the problem gets a hold. Basically, it is problematic because our concept of knowledge requires that we have evidence or warrant for belief, and this isn't possible when it comes to other minds. We can't logically argue for the existence of other minds. You might then consider the work of Wittgenstein (On Certainty) who suggests that logic and knowledge are not always the right model. For sure, these are the wrong model for approaching the question of other minds. Rather it is that we cannot doubt that others have a mind, and since we are certain that others do have a mind, the question might be considered "pseudo". We do not know what happens when a person dies because they are in not in a position to tell us. Some claim to have died and had experiences and then been resuscitated, but it questionable whether they actually died if the concept of death means the end of consciousness.
My question is about memory.
I find it almost impossible to remember unusual words and also how to spell them. Sometimes within minutes the word has gone and also no matter how many times I need to use it I cannot recall it. An example is that I go regularly to a private library and I need to write down the name of the person who first introduced me to the library when I borrow a book. I can never remember the name and if I do I get stuck on the spelling. On the other hand I can remember every word of a song that I may last have hear 40 years ago and I only have to hear just a couple of notes of a complicated classical piece of music to be able to hum the complete piece.
Well I have the same problem, but not as severely. And I have the same thing with music also. It seems to be genetic. There are multiple areas in the brain which store various types and modalities of memory, and memories of names, new words, and symbols, seem to be in one (or several closely related). As I say, I have this same problem to a lesser extent, and it's made academia pretty difficult, since academic work is very verbally oriented... on the other hand, you can compensate for a bad memory by learning how to think. Also, there are many tricks for remembering... just go to a library and look them up. In the end, however, I'm afraid that you'll just have to put up with it. But I can tell you that if you do a great deal of verbal work, i.e., reading, writing, and really focus on verbal thinking, it helps enormously.
Steven Ravett Brown
Here some questions I am grappling with:
1) Unfalsifiability (aka non-refutability) is an unfalsifiable argument fallacious? I feel such arguments are unfair in philosophy and somewhat pointless, but would like to know if they have to be allowed anyway? (In science of course they are not allowed see e.g. Popper on pseudosciences and the requirement for testability.)
2) The sceptic argues against knowledge based on sense perception that 1. We are sometimes mistaken in our beliefs based on sense perception. 2. If we are sometimes mistaken in this way then we can never exclude the logical possibility of being mistaken in a particular moment or even at all times with regard to perceptual beliefs. 3. Conclusion: We cannot claim to have knowledge based on sense perception. I think that one could argue against this by pointing out that the sceptic in premise one claims to have knowledge (that we have made mistakes) and in the conclusion that knowledge is impossible, which is a contradiction, therefore the argument fails. Am I correct? A friend pointed out that the sceptic does not have to know in premise 1 what is true or false, just that there are mistakes, but I would ask: how does the sceptic know that? How can he even distinguish the two? Is it not ultimately by referring to perceptual evidence, the same type of evidence the argument seeks to discredit?
3) Are there things Descartes does not doubt in his Meditations? If so, does this endanger his project?
1) Non-refutability: I'm not sure what is really so bad about a non-refutable argument. If someone offers you a deductively valid, argument with true premises the conclusion will be non-refutable. This just is the point of deductive argument. What you probably mean to criticise, given your second question, is the use of premises like:
(a) Possibly, my experiences are all the result of an evil demon's malicious games, and there is no way to distinguish that situation from that in which my experiences are caused by the external objects they seem to be caused by.
This particular premise has been heavily criticised by the logical positivists, namely Ayer. Ayer argued that in order to have meaning a proposition must be either analytic (true in virtue of the meaning of the terms used) or empirically verifiable. (a), of course, is neither. Ayer concludes that global sceptical arguments against the existence of the external world fail. These types of views on meaning, if they succeeded, would provide a powerful argument against Cartesian scepticism. Unfortunately verificationist criteria of meaning suffer from numerous problems and have generally been abandoned. For example, what is the epistemological status of the verification principle:
(b) A proposition is meaningful if and only if it is either analytic or empirically verifiable.
Well, (b) certainly isn't empirically verifiable (what would count as evidence for or against it?), so the logical positivist must be claiming that it is analytic. Unfortunately this isn't a very convincing line to take. As one philosopher put it (A. Plantinga, my paraphrase): the verificationist is free to define terms however he likes. It doesn't mean that anyone else is compelled to follow his usage. In fact, many of the propositions that normal people and many philosophers find meaningful are classified as meaningless by (b) (e.g., "God made that flower", "Murder is wrong").
Given that there is no non-arbitrary way to rule out "non-refutable" propositions like (a) as meaningless I think that you will have to accept them as part of the legitimate philosophical tools that the sceptic can work with. (If (a) is not ruled out as meaningless or as a conceptual error of some kind, then it is not merely true, but is necessarily true making it legitimate for use in philosophical argumentation.)
2) The argument from error: The argument you site here is an example of a local sceptical argument. It tries to establish the conclusion that sense perception cannot result in knowledge, not that knowledge in general is impossible. The complaint you raise is that the sceptic improperly claims knowledge of:
(c) We are sometimes mistaken in our beliefs based on sense perception
because the conclusion of his argument undermines his evidence for it. This is a very complex issue; a full explanation would require far too much space to give. However, I think that your friend is roughly correct: the sceptic need not claim an epistemological status for (c). He can simply use the premise as it is not disputed by the participants in the debate. Consider the following: Suppose that the sceptic is claiming to know (c) on the basis of perceptual evidence. What would follow. Well, either he knows that (c) or does not. If he does know that (c) and if the argument is valid and the second premise true then the conclusion follows. (This option seems paradoxical but many of the contexts in which the argument arises explain the paradox away. For instance, the ancient sceptics were concerned with ethical issues, and Ayer was concerned to motivate the introduction of sense data as a logical entity.) If he does not know that (c) then it is difficult to see what sorts of things might be knowable on the basis of perceptual evidence. In short, I don't think that the sceptic needs to justify a premise like (c) in every case. It is enough that it be accepted for the sake of argument.
3) Descartes: In the Meditations Descartes find that he is unable to doubt his own existence. Because doubting is an activity that can only be carried out by a thinking thing it is impossible for the evil demon (or his naturalistic counterpart the evil doctor ready to feed experience directly into brains in vats) to deceive him concerning his own existence. This is the foundation of Descartes' positive project concerning knowledge and does not endanger that project at all.
1) I think that it is not so much arguments that are unfalsifiable. Rather, it is theories which allow their defenders to explain away apparently contrary empirical evidence. Nor am I sure that Popper's falsifiability is quite up to the task of cleanly separating science and pseudoscience as he claimed. Scientists also are prone to defending their theories against apparent empirical falsification, rather than abandoning the theory. Instead, they fiddle with the auxiliary hypotheses that surround it (see Imre Lakatos' work).
Since (many) philosophical positions do not rely on empirical evidence, I'm not sure of the relevance of this to (much) philosophical argument.
) Your reasoning looks pretty good to me.
3) Have a look at this short extract from what Friedrich Nietzsche says in Beyond Good and Evil section 16 (it is probably worth looking this up and reading some more):
There are still harmless self-observers who believe that there are "immediate certainties"; for example, "I think,"...
When I analyze the process that is expressed in the sentence, "I think," I find a whole series of daring assertions that would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to prove; for example, that it is I who think, that there must necessarily be something that thinks, that thinking is an activity and operation on the part of a being who is thought of as a cause, that there is an "ego," and, finally, that it is already determined what is to be designated by thinking that I know what thinking is....
In Popper's world and in Wittgenstein's there can be no such thing as "non-scientific" answers for any serious philosopher. If science is about sound answers to meaningful questions then the difference between "scientific" and "unscientific" realms of knowledge follows from a misunderstanding or mis-use of the concept of "knowledge". How does Mozart "know" that a special note is proper at a special place in the sonata? That is not a "how is it?" but a "how should it be?" question, asking not for knowledge in the "scientific" sense and then of course the whole concept of falsifiability is not applicable. But if you are doing theology or hermeneutics or political sociology or economics etc., then you are asking for factual and theoretical knowledge which answers to the question "is it thus and so or is it not?" Then an unfalsifiable argument generally is fallacious. Of course you can hit the nail by dumb luck, but that;s not a serious method.
The typical problem with most unfalsifiable arguments is that they either (mis)take plausibility for truth, or that they are so all-embracing that they become "true but useless" or "ultra-stable" in the sense of Popper. Most "best-sellers" in the non-fiction sector of the bookshops draw their readers by selling one plausible argument as "the truth" while in a serious textbook the argument is only one of a dozen likewise plausible arguments stated in some footnotes. And often the contrary to a plausible argument is a likewise plausible argument and not an unlikely or false one.
So the question is: What do you want to gain with an unfalsifiable argument? You change the quest for truth for the quest for assuredness or happiness. You cling to some answer that doesn't fit to the problem in question but that fits YOU. It is you that wants to be a true believer free from doubts. You are tailoring a truth that fits your requirements. That is what it comes to.
There's a dilemma here: "Real" safety can only be gained by "real" knowledge. That was the guiding idea of the philosophical and scientific quest since the pre-socratic philosophers. That was the argument of astronomy against astrology and of chemistry against alchemy: Replace idle speculation by sound knowledge.
But to make sense of the world we live in we always need some idea of "what it's all about". So we start with hypotheses and guesses. "Why is the world here and we in it? Somebody must have created this. Lets call this creator God!" Or, if there are events in our life that seem to be in a strange way patterned and strewn with meaningful hints we may call that "karma" or "providence" etc. That sort of argument is "ad hoc" and "preliminary", but at least it is "understandable". There seem to be not too many people around at any time that can stand a sceptic's world of "ignoramus, ignorabimus" ("we dont know, we never will know"). That's quite a heroic attitude. There is a mental "horror vacui": What we don't know we fill with hypotheses of all sorts to make sense of the world we live in and of our actions in this world. We need a house to live in, we don;t like to sleep in the woods under stars and storms like animals.
And this explains why people often resist replacing hypotheses dear to them by "mere factual knowledge" or by "doubts". If you make them abandon all unproven assumptions then you tear their house apieces and drive them to the woods. We all live on some assumptions every day even the sceptic when drinking and eating.
But that points to another question: There can be good and not so good assumptions, well built and not so well built houses, misleading and smart guesses. This is quite another distinction to be made. Maybe the Platonic concept of "Idea" is false and unjustified but it has guided human minds to the heavens. Maybe the christian gospel is false and unjustified but it has driven the mind of Western Man all over the world and into the modern state. Neither the Platonic concept of "Idea" nor the christian gospel are "falsifiable" in the Popperian sense but then they are no mere stupidities either. But most un-falsifiable ideas like those of Hitler and Stalin are.
I'm in high school and we got an assignment which involves asking a philosopher a question. My team and I are not very good at these type of things. We're studying at Prepa Tec in Monterrey N.l., in Mexico.
Well, I'm gonna ask you two questions. The first one was made by a friend of mine: "Are we living life as it is, or are we blinded by others feelings and not living it?"
And here's mine: Basically, the knowledge of something means that you have had that certain experience or seen it with your own eyes, so everything we learn is not knowledge, or is it?
As for your friend's question... take a look at the 'early' novels of Colin Wilson. He was very concerned with this question. Try Adrift in Soho, or The World of Violence, or Necessary Doubt for a start.
One classical formulation is that knowledge is verified or justified true belief, but that has some problems. For a brief overview, look up 'Gettier' in the XRefer Oxford Companion to Philosophy search engine (PhiloSophos knowledge base) As far as what we learn being knowledge... I'm sure you'll have no problems thinking of things you learned that were not true, right? To put it another way, we can ask whether we can have false knowledge, but that seems a little strange, doesn't it?
Steven Ravett Brown
What is the meaning of life? What is man to the universe?
And what does, "To be, or not to be" mean?
Life in general means, in its primary use, organic existence. You can find a meaning, or sense of purpose, within this existence, though this will differ between persons. Some people are unable to see any purpose at all, but this would be to be in a depressive state, since there is always purpose to be found. Man exists as small speck in the universe, and it is amazing that he feels himself to be so important."To be or not to be" is a question raised by Hamlet, a Shakespearean character: "to be", with all the suffering that entails, or to die (just so long as death is an endless sleep without nightmares). According to the notes in my copy, the whole speech epitomizes the sense of disillusion and futility which was common at the time.