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1. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Steven Jay Gold Towards a Marxist Theory of the State
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Though Karl Marx never developed a systematic theory of the state, he did have much to say about state action. In recent times philosophers have made attempts to capture essential elements of Marx’s political theory in order to reconstruct a general understanding of his ideas about state action that is consistent with his theory of history. It has been my purpose in this paper to layout and synthesize recent developments in this area with ideas developed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of what Marx meant. The debate of nearly two decades past, between instrumentalists and structuralists, is developed here in the context of more recent theories of “abdication” and “class balance” to generate four basic principles of state action consistent with Marx’s statements about the state.
2. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14 > Issue: Supplement
Mark Anderson, William O’Meara Selective Conscientious Objection
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The purpose of this paper is to consider the following three problems:(1) Whether selective conscientious objection is morally reasonable in general; and if so,(2) Whether selective conscientious objection should be recognized as a constitutional right by judicial interpretation; or(3) Whether selective conscientious objection should become part of any new draft law that would be passed by Congress.
3. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14 > Issue: Supplement
Salim Kemal Medieval Arabic Poetics: Poetic Syllogism and Community in Avicenna’s Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics
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The paper concerns the Commentary on Aristotle's Poetics written by Avicenna (Ibn Sina : 930-1037AD). The paper is divided into two parts, the first of which examines Avicenna's account of poetic imagination and the use he makes of this concept in justifying a 'poetic syllogism' that accounts for aesthetic validity. The second part develops this account of the poetic syllogism to show that the completeness of the syllogistic requires us to consider the kind of commurlty and moral validity sustained by poetic validity. To explain the first claim - for poetic syllogisms - the paper examines Avicenna's writings on logic and parts of his commentaries on the Prior and Posterior Analytics, linking these to issues in his commentary on the Poetics. To explain the relation of poetry to community, the paper develops issues from the commentary on the Poetics, especially Avicenna's use of the concept of 'themes'.
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4. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Joan McGregor Bargaining Advantages and Coercion in the Market
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Does the “free market” foster more freedom for individuals generally and less coercion? Libertarians and other market advocates argue that the unfettered market maximizes freedom and hence has less coercion than any feasible alternative. Welfare liberals, Socialist, and Marxists, in different ways, argue against the claim that the unrestricted market maximizes freedom generally. Both supporters and critics agree that coercion undermines freedom and that that is what is ultimately prima facie wrong with it. Further, they agree that the extent to which an economic system includes coercion provides a serious strike against it. The problem is that there is little consensus on the necessary conditions for coercion. In this paper I will be concerned with the nature of coercive relationships in the market. Market interactions have a particular character and occur within a specific institutional framework. Other accounts of coercion have failed to capture the unique character of coercion in the market because they have failed to take into account certain nontrivial facts about the market which are essential to the analysis of coercive market relations.
5. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
David M. Adams In Defense of the Autonomy of Rights
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Several philosophers, including most prominently Theodore Benditt, have recently urged that the discourse of rights, widely thought to be a central, if not foundational feature of moral and political thought, is in reality a mere “redundant” appendage---a discourse that holds no distinctive place in moral or legal reasoning owing to the fact that it is thoroughly derivative because collapsible into other forms of moral or legal language. In this paper I attempt to (1) flesh out this “Redundancy” Thesis (RT) and (2) identify and criticize at least two general arguments that might be thought to give rise to it: the claims that rights reduce (respectively) to duties (the Correlativity Thesis) or to permissions (the Permissibility Thesis). I try to show how and why these arguments fail and why they do not therefore support RT.
6. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Joel Feinberg Responsibility Tout Court
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One who is responsible tout court may be contrasted either with irresponsible persons or with non-responsible (incompetent) persons. Calling one responsible may be either merely describing, or it may be ascribing certain excellences of character. Praising a person for being generally responsible may indicate his/her willingness to take on new liability when s/he has a duty or responsibility to do so, or it may point to virtues which make for effective use of discretion, or it may be certification of moral trustworthiness. Common to all the states opposed to responsibility is a kind of unfitness for prospective or retrospective judgments of liability. Responsibility for . . . provides the contextual background for responsibilities tout court and also for the unity underlying their various ambiguities.One who is generally responsible in the “on balance” sense is responsible in all senses of the word. S/he is (all told) neither non-responsible, nor irresponsible, nor unresponsible and is a safe bet for assignments of prospective liability in virtue of good judgment, self-reliance, and trustworthiness. To describe him or her is to portray an ideal---not the only ideal that philosophical moralists have prescribed for human conduct and character---but an ideal peculiarly adapted to the needs of the modern world.
7. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Joel Feinberg Responsibility for the Future
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Prospective ascription of responsibility is hypothetical, commonly noting or setting conditions for critical judgment or liability if some event occurs or fails to occur, thus determining vulnerability to retrospective judgments. Prospective liabilities can be classified by source, by type or degree (if any) of accompanying control, and by structure or stages.But not all prospective responsibility can be understood in terms of liability. Actual or de facto control over X and/or responsibility for Y (persons, animals, inanimate things, etc.), though they may involve prospective liabilities, may not be responsibilities to any person in particular. Such responsibilities may be called responsibilities in rem and distinguished from those assignable to persons (responsibilities in personam).Though prospective responsibility judgments often provide the most important grounds for retrospective judgments, if the concern is with the meaning of responsibility judgments, retrospective responsibility judgments are more basic. For, while we can understand retrospective judgments even though we know nothing of prospective ones, the opposite is not true
8. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Steven Jay Gold Non-Voluntary Compliance
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It is often assumed that one cannot be forced to accept an offer as one can always reject it and be no worse off than one would have been had the offer not been made; offers involve benefits rather than the pains associated with threats. The confusion arises from the fact that we often also assume that in all cases where Q is forced to choose to do what P wants him to do, P coerces Q. I have argued that coercion is only one “mode of non-voluntary compliance”. By distinguishing the different ways one can be forced to comply with another’s wishes, I have attempted to sketch out the various ways that non-voluntary compliance can operate with offers as well as threats.
9. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
William L. Langenfus A Problem for Harman’s Moral Relativism
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Gilbert Harman’s defense of moral relativism is distinctive because it is grounded upon a fundamental theory of moral obligation, and not merely upon certain well-known anthropological facts (e.g., cultural diversity). Harman’s theory of moral obligation is a particular form of “internalism”-roughly, that to have a moral obligation, one must have some adequate motivation (either dispositional or occurrent) to observe such constraints on action. It is argued, in the present piece, that Harman’s version of internalism fails to account for the sense of using common moral judgments for the purposes of moral education (there is, in other words, a relativism that exists between those with more complex moralities and those who are just learning moral ideas). But this use of moral judgments seems to be crucial in moral education. Since this is so, this difficulty poses an important anomaly to Harman’s relativistic moral theory.
10. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Charles Sayward Do Moral Explanations Matter?
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In a recent paper Nicholas Sturgeon claims moral explanations constitute one area of disagreement between moral realists and noncognitivists. The correctness of such explanation is consistent with moral realism but not with noncognitivism. Does this difference characterize other anti-realist views? I argue that it does not. Moral relativism is a distinct anti-realist view. And the correctness of moral explanations is consistent with moral relativism.
11. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
C. L. Sheng “Marginal Consequences” and Utilitarianism
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The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of marginal consequences of a group moral action. The situations in which a group action is taken are studied and classified. The assumption that the agents of a group action are similarly (or symmetrically) situated is clearly specified and emphasized. Then a probabilistic approach is used to determine the marginal consequences of a group action. It is shown that the refutation of utilitarian generalization by Bart Gruzalski is unjustified because of his misinterpretation of marginal consequences. Finally the delicate situations of maximizing and minimizing conditions are analyzed. It is concluded that if the probability of participation p is not known, then the contributory consequences approach is the only approach that can be used. If the probability of participation p is known or can be estimated, then the use of the marginal consequences approach seems to be justified and preferable.
12. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Peter Fuss James Madison and the Classical Republican Tradition
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The thesis pursued here is that Madison, in articulating the principles of political philosophy underlying his defense of the proposed constitution in his contributions to the Federalist Papers of 1787-8, can best be understood as at once invoking, enriching, and on several key points all but abandoning the “classical republican” or “civic humanist” tradition. I analyze the ambivalent character of Madison’s response to Plato and Aristotle, Machiavelli and Rousseau with respect to the quality and complexity of the body politic, the principle of representation, the containment of factionalism, and the nature of political legitimation and renewal.
13. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
John L. Treloar The Polemical Employment of Pure Reason and Kantian Ethics
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From the earliest days of philosophy, polemic has functioned as a common means of philosophical argumentation. Kant spends some time in the Critique of Pure Reason analyzing the place of polemic in rational argumentation. Even though it does not provide a legitimate approach to philosophical argument as employed by the dogmatists, Kant’s concern for the teaching of the young allows him to raise some issues concerning the ethics of philosophical argumentation also.
14. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Adrian M.S. Piper Hume on Rational Final Ends
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Historically, the view, prevalent in contemporary economics and decision theory as well as philosophy, that rational action consists simply in satisfying one’s desires, whatever they may be, as efficiently as possible, is to be found first in Book II of Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature. This view has counterintuitive and self-refuting implications, in that it recognizes as rational behavior that may reveal a clear degree of irresponsibility or psychological instability. Accordingly, many Hume scholars have tried to show recently that this view was not Hume’s; and that, on the contrary, Hume did supply an account of rational final ends--in his discussion of the calm passions, the “steady and general view” that corrects the biases and contingencies of an individual’s desires and perceptions, and elsewhere. But a detailed reconstruction of Hume’s views on these matters that assembles all the relevant texts does not support this thesis. Instead, it undermines it. Hence the counterintuitive and self-refuting implications of Hume’s view of rational action must be allowed to stand.
15. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Sheldon Wein Humean Minds and Moral Theory
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Grant that Hume is a contractarian. Justice then arises from more basic features of humans and their circumstances. Among these more basic features from which justice arises Hume includes (in addition to self-interest narrowly construed) the widely held passions of benevolence and sympathy. But it is mysterious why he included them in his contractarian theory for the derivation of justice does not need them, and may even be weaker with them included. This paper suggests that Hume’s philosophy of mind, in particular his account of the imagination, forced him to include benevolence and sympathy along with self-interest as the passions on which justice is based.
16. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Douglas Chismar Hume’s Confusion About Sympathy
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David Hume argues that the prevalence of human sympathizing justifies our attributing to humans a certain degree of benevolence. This move from sympathy to having a concern for others has been challenged by recent critics. A more fine-grained look at Hume’s concept of sympathy may reveal the reasons why he thought that experiencing sympathy implied having a benevolent attitude. Two arguments from the Treatise are analyzed and found wanting. It is suggested that Hume’s confusion may derive from ambiguities surrounding the term “sympathy” and a lack of attention given to the intentional aspects of sympathizing.
17. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Fred Wilson Was Hume a Subjectivist?
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In a crucial passage in the Treatise, Hume argues that all our sense impressions are dependent for their existence upon the state of our sense organs. Hume points out that this is not the same as an ontological dependence upon minds; and moreover the argument is clearly causal. Hume uses it to establish the system of the philosophers as opposed to the system of the vulgar. This paper argues that Hume’s case parallels that which, in this century, the critical realists made against the new realists. Consequently, it is also argued, Hume is best construed, in this passage at least, as defending critical realism, rather than, as many critics contend, a version of subjectivistic scepticism.
18. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Sara F. García-Gómez God and Descartes’ Principle of Clear and Distinct Knowledge
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In the present study of Descartes’ epistemological investigations, I have tried to show that his renowned principle of clarity and distinctness is not, in fact, one but two axioms. Most interpreters and critics have taken the two formulations of such a principle here considered as successive moments of it. At best, this position is insufficient, for each “version” of the principle of clarity and distinctness guarantees different kinds of cognitive content. Moreover, while the validity of one “version” is not dependent on the thesis of God’s veracity, no such thing can be asserted of the validity of the other. These two formulations of the principle of clarity and distinctness are: 1. Whatever is clearly and distinctly perceived is true; 2. whatever we perceive clearly and distinctly as belonging to the nature of something can indeed be predicated of the thing in question. The fust formula corresponds to what I have characterized as “presentative” knowledge; the second one expresses the guarantee of “representative” knowledge. This distinction is all-important for solving the question of whether Descartes’ proofs of God’s existence and veracity---both the a priori and the a posteriori proofs that we find in the Cartesian corpus-are circular. On the basis of such a distinction, it is possible to argue that at least the ontological argument---and possibly as well the proof “par les effets”---is not at all dependent on the principle of clarity and distinctness, which in turn draws its ultimate validity from God’s faithfulness. In other words, as suggested above, only the second “version” needs to be guaranteed by God’s veracity. On the other hand, the first “version” has no normative value, for it merely describes what is the case whenever a clear and distinct cognition occurs. An example of this is our knowledge of God as the most perfect being.
19. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Harold Zellner Spinoza’s Temporal Argument for Actualism
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In three places Spinoza presents an argument from (a) determinism and (b) God’s “eternity” to (c) “actualism”, i.e., the doctrine that this is (in some sense) the only possible world. That he does so shows that he distinguishes (a) from (c), which he has been thought to conflate. On one reading of ‘eternal’, he is claiming that an infinite past entails no other world was a “real” possibility. As might be expected, the argument is a failure, but it may help explain why Spinoza holds that there are no contingencies.
20. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Brent A. Singer Sein und Zeit Revisited
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In this paper I present the basic outlines of a nonstandard interpretation of Sein und Zeit. The merit of this interpretation is that it brings out and develops some of the radical possibilities contained in this rich text, possibilities which, I believe, have yet to be given their due. On the basis of this interpretation it is clear not only how Heidegger’s ontology departs from its Cartesian and Kantian predecessors, but also how his ontology puts the traditional mind/body problem, and the problem of the external world, onto radically new grounds. However, unlike standard interpretations of Sein und Zeit, I argue that these new grounds neither resolve, nor dissolve, these problems, and that Heidegger’s discussion of the so-called “scandal of philosophy” is misleading at best.