Just public reasonNg, L. S. January 2013 (has links)
This dissertation looks at the linked issues of justification and public reason – under what conditions do political authorities count as legitimate, and what is the appropriate mode of reasoning together in the public sphere? The main contender in the field currently is Rawls’s political liberalism. His conception of justification gives a key role to the justifiability of political power to each citizen, based on shared (because mutually acceptable) reasons. This approach to justification affects how we reason in the public sphere – in discussing certain fundamental issues, Rawlsian public reason requires limiting our reasons to public ones (viz., those which others could reasonably endorse), and bracketing those based on disputed conceptions of the good. How we think about justification thus has concrete implications for how we live together in political society. Rawls’s political liberalism is commonly pitted against comprehensive liberalism. The disagreement tends to be cast as being about comprehensive liberals rejecting the need for justifiability. I argue that this is mistaken, and that Rawls shares more than we might think with the comprehensive liberal. Taking Raz as the modern champion of comprehensive liberalism, I show that both Rawls and Raz are deeply committed to justifiability, and trace the disagreement between the two to a metaphysical dispute about how to conceive of the project of justifying the implementation of political principles. In light of their shared commitment to justifiability, the question becomes whether justifiability requires shared reasons. I propose a heuristic reading of Rawls’s requirement of mutually acceptable reasons, which explains how Rawls’s and Raz’s views on justification can be brought together without needing to bracket the truth of the principles of justice. This proposed reconciliation leads to a mode of reasoning in the public sphere that does not require setting aside non-public reasons in order to proceed.
Singular thought and the nonexistentWalters, L. January 2012 (has links)
I argue that a straightforward account of empty names can be given which allows them to contribute to the expression of thoughts, as seems to be the case. But that we can offer such an account does not mean that we should, as it should be conceded on all sides that what is happening in the case of empty names is radically different from what is happening in the case of non-empty names. Moreover, in the case of non-conniving uses of empty names, the subject is under a misapprehension, and so could be under the misapprehension that they are expressing a thought. Nevertheless, if we want to hold on to the truth of some singular negative existential claims, which is recognized as a desiderata even by those hostile to the intelligibility of empty names, we are forced to recognize that empty names can contribute to the expression of thoughts. But once we make this admission we then open the door to empty names being used to express other thoughts too. But that we can give a coherent account of empty names and singular negative existentials does not mean that we should be irrealists wherever we think we see empty names and true singular negative existentials. And I argue that this is the case with fictional names. There are good reasons to be realists about fictional characters, even though there are good reasons to accept that fictional names sometimes fail to refer and that as a result claims such as Sherlock Holmes does not exist are true. The solution is to accept that fictional names are ambiguous having a non-referring use and referring use. Such a position is well-motivated and plausible, and allows the realist to capture the truth of singular negative existentials in a straightforward manner. Moreover, since there are no metaphysical problems with this realism, we should embrace it.
The foundation and nature of contemporary liberalismVolberg, Mats January 2015 (has links)
This thesis aims to define the foundation and nature of contemporary liberalism. Chapter 1 will provide an overview of different interpretations of what liberalism is, followed by a general definition of liberalism as a political doctrine with four distinct features: importance of liberty, centrality of persons, commitment to ethical pluralism, and suspicious attitude towards state power. Chapter 2 will propose that the foundation of liberalism thus conceived is an understanding of persons as free and equal. Persons being free means that there is no normative authority over persons in politics except the one which is properly justified; this is the justification thesis. Persons being equal means that there is no normative authority over persons in ethics. This implies a committed openness to pluralism, since there is no normative position from which to adjudicate. Chapters 3 and 4 will establish that we have good reasons to believe persons are free and equal - or at least that we have reason to treat them as such. In Chapter 5 I present the idea of perfectionism and distinguish perfectionist liberalisms from political liberalisms, as well as considering some ways in which one might make the case for perfectionist liberalism. Finally in Chapter 6 I bring the discussion to a close, first by looking at some objections to perfectionism found in the literature, and then demonstrating that if we take the idea of persons as free and equal as a foundation of liberalism, then we cannot be perfectionist, since these two notions are in conflict with one another. More specifically a perfectionist approach to liberalism cannot meet the justification thesis and cannot be open to ethical pluralism. The thesis provides a comprehensive view of liberalism and its foundation and thus helps to settle an important debate within contemporary liberalism between perfectionism and anti-perfectionism.
Aesthetic perception, attention and aesthetic psychologyBowden, Alan Mark Christopher January 2015 (has links)
What are the psychological foundations of aesthetic experience? Disagreements about how to answer this question underlie tensions between the experiences described by those in the developing field of everyday aesthetics and many art-centred accounts of aesthetic experience. I argue that neither has provided the psychological framework to support their arguments in favour of or against the extension of aesthetic experience into everyday life. Such a framework is required in order to reconcile the two fields. This thesis aims to develop an empirically informed aesthetic psychology which accommodates both everyday and paradigmatic aesthetic experience without compromising what is distinctive about each. In order to understand the oft-unacknowledged assumptions in everyday and mainstream accounts of aesthetic experience I distinguish between “broad” and “narrow” aesthetic psychology. I argue that each approach differs with respect to the necessity of attention for aesthetic experience. The narrow approach to aesthetic psychology underlies many contemporary accounts and places an “attention condition” on aesthetic experience; the broad approach underlies many accounts of everyday aesthetic experience and involves no such condition. I develop a broad psychological account of aesthetic perception as the perceptual representation of bound qualities and suggest that its minimal or “bare” form goes on in the absence of attention, whilst its “rich” form requires attention and supports characteristically appreciative activities of mind. Using contemporary empirical and philosophical work on attention and its relation to consciousness and cognition I argue that there is an attention condition on rich aesthetic perception (and aesthetic appreciation), but not on bare aesthetic perception: this establishes a broad aesthetic psychology. In this way I reconcile everyday and mainstream aesthetic experience by creating a continuum of aesthetic engagement which runs from the fleeting and unattended experiences of broad aesthetic psychology to the complex and appreciative experiences of narrow aesthetic psychology.
Reconciling internalism and externalism through useWorah, Pallavi January 2015 (has links)
This thesis stems from two related problems within the Internalism-Externalism debate. First is the problem of intentionality: how is it that we are able to reach out to the world through language. The answer I believe is through use. The second problem relates to the possibility of scientific enquiry: whether or not it is possible to scientifically study the object of externalist inquiry, the use of language for instance. The kind of theory I try to point towards, both incorporates how we are able to reach out to the world through language; i.e. explains use, and also aims to do so scientifically. I arrive at this through various steps, the first of which is an interpretation of Wittgenstein’s use of ‘grammar’ as both constitutive of a proposition and involving an element of use. Further through an analysis of Horwich, I attempt to see whether it is possible to systematize a use theory of meaning. I move on to externalist referential semantics, specifically to minimal semantics, as it appears to incorporate both internalist as well as externalist elements. For a theory that was able to scientifically explain content ascription, I then turn to Davidson. Davidson’s decision theoretic account of what he called triangulation presents itself as a candidate to better explain how we ascribe a particular content to a particular word or sentence. This framework, I contend is exemplified in Pietroski et al.’s “Meaning of ‘Most’” experiments. I argue that Horwich’s use-properties could form the test statements for Pietroski-like experiments, which would yield a possible way to relate the use of a sentence to meaning and truth. And this result is only achieved with the important assumption that we are situated in a world which we share with others much like ourselves.
The politics of rationality : a critiqueDe-Brito-Serra, Bruno Daniel January 2016 (has links)
In this thesis, I challenge the validity of a pervasive conception of political action and decision-making that grounds both on the so-called “public use of reason”. The latter, underpinned by a notion of “pure” reason inherited from the Enlightenment and largely sustained by liberal theory, not only promotes a reductionist view of human rationality, but also implicitly leads us to disregard a critical aspect in contemporary politics: the political role of the emotions. The opportunity to exploit the emotions in order to pervert the democratic process follows from that disregard. Reading it in light of Schmitt and Agamben’s ideas on the state of exception, I examine the pervasiveness of emotional dynamics in contemporary western politics, illuminating phenomena such as democratic propaganda, the ongoing “war on terror”, and the persistent threat of global economic collapse. I subsequently posit that the rationalistic hubris of the politics of (limited) rationality opens the door for irrational politics, ultimately enabling the creation of a permanent state of exception through the manipulation of misguided emotional inclinations. In order to address this problem, I argue for an abandonment of the sterile reason-emotion dichotomy implicitly preserved by the current debate on the cognitive status of emotions. Instead, I propose an expanded model of human rationality, which incorporates emotion into processes such as decision-making, motivation, and action – thus arriving at the notion of emotional rationality. This enables me to consider the commonly overlooked possibility to educate emotions, and advance a conception of emotional education that relates them with the Aristotelian notion of phronesis. I conclude by arguing that a heightened political awareness of emotions and a conscious effort to educate them are necessary steps towards avoiding the undesirable political fate entailed by our present situation.
Pluralism and the 'problem of reality' in the later philosophy of Paul FeyerabendKidd, Ian James January 2010 (has links)
Feyerabend’s later philosophy was a sustained defence of cultural and epistemic diversity. After Against Method (1975) Feyerabend argued that his rejection of methodological monism challenged the presumed unity and superiority of scientific knowledge and practices. His later philosophy was therefore dedicated to a reassessment of the merits of a wide range of ‘non-scientific’ traditions present throughout non-Western indigenous cultures. Feyerabend drew upon the resources of anthropology and environmental and development studies to argue that the cognitive and practical merits of a variety of indigenous medical, environmental, and classificatory systems had been denied or disregarded. The consequence of these reassessments was epistemic pluralism. Western scientific and cultural practices represent many but by no means all of these and attempts to assert their cross-cultural value have resulted in enormous environmental, social, and intellectual destruction. Feyerabend here drew upon John Stuart Mill’s claim that both human wellbeing and the growth of knowledge are best served by a diversity of forms of life and modes of inquiry. Such diversity is threatened by the cognitive and cultural authority of the Western sciences and Feyerabend therefore insisted that moral and political concerns are an essential component of the philosophy of science. Throughout the thesis I argue that the later Feyerabend anticipated many subsequent themes in the philosophy of science, such as pluralism, values in science, and political and postcolonial philosophies of science. The irreducibly pluralistic character of the sciences arises from the diverse values and concerns of human beings, on the one hand, and the complexity of the natural world, on the other, and this claim is developed at length in Feyerabend’s final book Conquest of Abundance (1999). Feyerabend’s work served to unify these contemporary philosophical and political concerns and also to demonstrate their continuity with the older ‘post-positivist’ philosophies of science. I conclude that the later Feyerabend presented an optimistic and humane vision of global cultural and epistemic diversity and of the role of the Western sciences in the modern world, rather than lapsing into the ‘anti-science’ polemics and ‘cultural relativism’ with which his work has come to be associated.
Embodiment and grammatical structure : an approach to the relation of experience, assertion and truthMalt, Alexander James January 2014 (has links)
In this thesis I address a concern in both existential phenomenology and embodied cognition, namely, the question of how ‘higher’ cognitive abilities such as language and judgements of truth relate to embodied experience. I suggest that although our words are grounded in experience, what makes this grounding and our higher abilities possible is grammatical structure. The opening chapter contrasts the ‘situated’ approach of embodied cognition and existential phenomenology with Cartesian methodological solipsism. The latter produces a series of dualisms, including that of language and meaning, whereas the former dissolves such dualisms. The second chapter adapts Merleau-Ponty’s arguments against the perceptual constancy hypothesis in order to undermine the dualism of grammar and meaning. This raises the question of what grammar is, which is addressed in the third chapter. I acknowledge the force of Chomsky’s observation that language is structure dependent and briefly introduce a minimal grammatical operation which might be the ‘spark which lit the intellectual forest fire’ (Clark: 2001, 151). Grammatical relations are argued to make possible the grounding of our symbols in chapters 4 and 5, which attempt to ground the categories of determiner and aspect in spatial deixis and embodied motor processes respectively. Chapter 6 ties the previous three together, arguing that we may understand a given lexeme as an object or as an event by subsuming it within a determiner phrase or aspectualising it respectively. I suggest that such modification of a word’s meaning is possible because determiners and aspect schematise, i.e. determine the temporal structure, of the lexeme. Chapter 7 uses this account to take up Heidegger’s claim that the relation between being and truth be cast in terms of temporality (2006, H349), though falls short of providing a complete account of the ‘origin of truth’. Chapter 8 concludes and notes further avenues of research.
An analysis of persistenceCatelan, Stefano January 2014 (has links)
‘Something persists iff it exists at more than one time’ asserts Lewis. How things persist takes two forms: ‘something perdures iff it persists by having different temporal parts, or stages, at different times’ whereas ‘it endures iff it persists by being wholly present at more than one time. Lewis’ words show insight although some of their import has been overlooked. The debate has been articulated mainly around the interplay between theories of time and persistence, oblivious of the evidence that Lewis’ definitions embed philosophically ubiquitous and crucial notions like existence (and identity) which deserves to be investigated. In addition, the inquiry has often moved from time to persistence: e.g. teasing out the features that a specific view of time had which yielded a specific theory of persistence, whereas as it has recently been urged the relationship between views of time and persistence might be more relaxed: any theory of time could fit with any theory of persistence. This thesis is an exploration of persistence, time, and existence (and to a lesser extent identity) to make sense of whether and how the first could affect the others. The investigation is restricted to material objects (though little depends upon this), and to how and why the intuitions and common sense considerations in the background of perdurance, the theory of persistence I sympathise with, motivate a specific theory of time, i.e. eternalism; and finally how both afford a specific notion of existence, to wit a view of existence a là Quine, according to which existence is delimited by true uses of the existential quantifier. Thus, the direction of investigation will be from persistence, via time, to existence. The reason for this is that change is an undeniable datum of experience for which we have robust intuitions and common sense considerations, whilst time, although pervasive, is so in an elusive way which is hard to pin down. The thesis is divided into three parts which mirror the three main topics spelt out above. In the first part, a case of a persisting object will be used to show that our common sense thinking and intuitions harbour a predicament: it appears plausible to believe that there is a fact of the matter whether an object is or is not one and the same although we may not be able pin down the reason why. This will be clarified without supposing these intuitions and common sense considerations to be inviolable. The focus will be on two main contenders, perdurance and endurance, and what discriminates between them: the notion of temporal parts. Their centrality makes it decisive to understand what temporal parts are and what they do. It will be argued that whilst the debate has reached a stalemate in attempting to define temporal parts, the notion rests upon a robust basis of intuitions and common sense considerations which draw upon our ordinary understanding of parts in space, and this is sufficient to give a working grasp of them as well as the potential for a definition which stands scrutiny. It has also been argued that temporal parts are decisive in solving some puzzling situations; therefore I will examine one of these, the long-standing problem of change, and show that there is a sense in which it might not be a genuine metaphysical problem. Leibniz’s Law is a law of logic and it is best formulated accordingly; whereas the way it is used to generate the problem of change is metaphysically loaded. The problem of change as a metaphysical problem is thus deflated but, it will be argued, there are better, more intuitive, ways of motivating perdurance. The intelligibility and possibility of temporal parts, and hence perdurantism, has been shown to rely on the thought that reality is four-dimensional, so that in addition to the three spatial dimensions in which reality uncontentiously extends, there is a fourth, time, along which similarly reality extends. In the second part I shall consider if what philosophers have said about this stands scrutiny. Philosophers have argued that space and time share some decisive features (the similarity thesis); it might be hoped that investigating what they have said will clarify whether and how time could be so considered. I will argue that such an investigation will leave the space/time analogy wanting, and therefore I shall endeavour to venture a tentative picture of time which could accommodate the similarity thesis as well as a view of time as extended. I will then take a brief look into the current debate in the philosophy of time and tease out what the different theories of time are really about, their basic assumptions which are supposed to make manifest how each view sees time and what they try to defend as basic features of it. I will make clear why perdurance’s four-dimensional view of reality is most appealing if combined with an eternalist view of time according to which every time co-exists; both four-dimensionalism and eternalism sharing the assumption that time is a dimension through which things extend. In the third part, I unveil the nexus between perdurance, eternalism, and the notion of existence. I argue that perdurance’s basic assumption that reality is four-dimensional which is shared by eternalism, motivates a view of existence a là Quine, since it guarantees an existentially closed domain of existents, which is what perdurance and eternalism imply. The overall conclusion is that once unpacked, perdurance, eternalism, and a view of existence a là Quine fit together in a way in which each one motivates the others. Each has intuitions and assumptions that it tries to preserve and defend; intuitions and assumptions which might not be preserved if the theories are combined differently.
The proof of emptiness : Bhāviveka's Jewel in the HandFong, Lai Yan January 2015 (has links)
This study seeks to examine the Svātantrika-Madhyamaka proof of emptiness in Bhāviveka’s Jewel in the Hand (*Karatalaratna, KR). The proof comprises two inferences, the first of which is to the ultimate emptiness of conditioned things and the other to the ultimate unreality of unconditioned things. However, emptiness and logical reasoning are seemingly mutually-exclusive, in that emptiness is non-conceptual and ineffable while logical reasoning is conceptual and verbal. How can Bhāviveka prove emptiness by logical reasoning? The thesis addresses this theoretical tension in two parts: Part I – an introduction to the proof, and Part II – a commentary with the translation of the objections raised by the opponents and Bhāviveka’s responses related to the first inference. Chapter 1 in Part I explains the formation of the two inferences. Chapter 2 clarifies Bhāviveka’s notions of the two truths in relation to the proof. The theoretical tension is solvable as the ultimate emptiness is understood as the expressible (paryāya) ultimate truth, which is conceptual. The proof is further considered as the true (tathya) conventional truth, through which the realisation of the inexpressible (aparyāya) ultimate truth is facilitated. Chapter 3 examines the two inferences in terms of inferences for others. Although they are considered the summary of the conclusions of all individual inferences regarding the ultimate emptiness of different things, they are unestablished as standalone inferences because their reasons (hetu) are fallacious. Thus, they fail to prove the expressible ultimate truth. Chapter 4 suggests that the proof might be defensible referring to later developments in Buddhist logic. Part II analyses the objections to Bhāviveka’s first inference and his notion of self-emptiness and Bhāviveka’s defences, based on the translation of the relevant part in KR. These objections are refuted by logical reasoning, although not obviously with satisfactory results.
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