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For all his insistence that the mind has no parts, Descartes often describes inner mental conflicts, sometimes his own: ambivalence, fixation to childhood prejudice, are for him fixtures of human life. “Sigmund Descartes?” examines this aspect of his thought.
Traditionally Hume is seen as offering an ‘empiricist’ critique of ‘rationalism’. This view is often illustrated – or rejected – by comparing Hume's views with those of Descartes'. However the textual evidence shows that Hume's most sustained engagement with a canonical ‘rationalist’ is with Nicolas Malebranche. The author shows that the fundamental differences (among the many similarities) between the two on the self and causal power do indeed rest on a principled distinction between ‘rationalism’ and ‘empiricism’, and that there is some truth in the traditional story. This, however, is very far from saying that Hume's general orientation is an attack on something called ‘rationalism’.
Kant is clear that the concept of the ‘highest good’ involves both a demand, that we follow the moral law, as well as a promise, that happiness will be the outcome of being moral. The latter element of the highest good has troubled commentators, who tend to find it metaphysically extravagant, involving, as it does, belief in God and an afterlife. Furthermore, it seems to threaten the moral purity that Kant demands: that we obey the moral law for its own sake, not out of interest in the consequences. Those commentators brave enough to tackle the issue look to the concept of the highest good either to add content to the moral law (Silber), or to provide rational motivation, in a way that does not violate moral purity (Beiser and Wood). I argue that such interpretations, although they may be plausible reconstructions, are unable to account for certain conceptual and textual problems. By placing Kant's thought against the background of medieval theology, I argue that the hope for the summum bonum is irreducibly important for Kant, even where its function is not that of providing the content or motivational force of the moral law. Kant is not only concerned with the shape of our duties and motivations, but the shape of the universe within which these emerge.
Dispositions depend on “categorical” facts definitionally and pedagogically. Must they always depend on them also ontologically for “grounding”? Does there really have to be an ultimate “bottom level” of matter, and must it be “categorical”? The concepts microphysics supplies, however, are dispositional in meaning. What predicates aren't? Besides “shaping” and “locating” predicates, predicates expressing degrees of similarity and dissimilarity are nondispositional enough in meaning: but the predication of all these features of things depends upon other features for these to bound and to relate to one another comparatively. Faced with the uncomfortable alternative of “dispositions all the way down” Simon Blackburn proposes antirealism. Possibly, though, predicates' dispositionality or categoricality can be relative to a given level of the organization of matter.
Lotteries have long been used to resolve competing claims, yet their recent implementation to allocate school places in Brighton and Hove, England led to considerable public outcry. This article argues that, given appropriate selection is impossible when parties have equal claims, a lottery is preferable to an auction because it excludes unjust influences. Three forms of contractualism are discussed and the fairness of lotteries is traced to the fact that they give each person an equal chance, as a surrogate for their equal claim to the good. It is argued that this can be a reason to favour an artificially-constructed lottery to a ‘natural’ lottery where there is suspicion that the latter may be biased.
This paper examines the relative voluntariness of three types of virtue: ‘epistemic’ virtues like open-mindedness; ‘motivational’ virtues like courage, and more robustly ‘moral’ virtues like justice. A somewhat novel conception of the voluntariness of belief is offered in terms of the limited, but quite real, voluntariness of certain epistemic virtues.
David Pugmire has argued that secularists can genuinely appreciate religious music because of our imaginative powers combined with the ‘Platonic’ nature of the emotions expressed in such music. I argue that Pugmire is wrong on both counts. Religious music is ‘Platonic’ not because it is subject to levels of imagination but because it has a definite object which makes imaginative readings inferior. Moreover, since religious music does have a clear object taken by the believer as real, a gap exists that cannot be bridged by the imagination of the secularist, even imagination of the emotional ‘last instance’.