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Perhaps the most fundamental question of epistemology asks on what grounds our knowledge of the world ultimately rests. The traditional Cartesian answer is that it rests on indubitable facts arrived at through rational insight or introspection. Coherentists reject this answer, claiming instead that knowledge arises from relations of coherence or mutual support: if our beliefs cohere, we can be sure that they are mostly true. The first part of this Element introduces the reader to the main ideas and problems of coherentism. The next part describes the 'probabilistic turn', leading up to recent demonstrations that coherence fails to be conducive to truth. The final part reassesses the current debate about the proper definition of coherence from the standpoint of Rudolf Carnap's methodology of explication. The upshot is a tentative and qualified defence of one of the early coherence measures.
Arguing against emergent and even dominant tendencies of recent political thought that emphasize the so-called primacy of affect, Peter Steinberger challenges political theorists to take account of important themes in philosophy on the topic of human rationality. He engages with major proponents of post-Kantian thought, analytic and continental alike, to show how political judgment and political action, properly understood, are deeply and definitively grounded in considerations of human reason. Focusing especially on influential arguments in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of action, he seeks to rediscover and reanimate the close connection between systematic philosophical speculation on the one hand and the theory and practice of politics on the other. The result is a neo-rationalist conception of judgment and action that promises to offer a substantial and compelling account of political enterprise as it plays out in the real world of public affairs.
In this chapter, I examine a different controversy in command responsibility: the mental element. Scholars and jurists have raised powerful, principled objections to the modified fault standards in command responsibility, such as the ‘should have known’ standard in the ICC Statute. They are absolutely right to raise such questions, because a negligence standard in a mode of accessory liability seems to chafe against our normal analytical and normative constructs. However, I advance, in three steps, a culpability-based justification for command responsibility. I argue that the intuition of justice underlying the doctrine is sound.
I argue that the ‘should have known’ standard in the ICC Statute, rather than being shunned, should be embraced. I argue that the ‘should have known’ standard actually maps better onto personal culpability than the rival formulations developed by the Tribunals.
This chapter gives an example of the two-way conversation and illumination in the encounter between criminal law theory and ICL. This is an instance where ICL, by highlighting special contexts and problems, can lead us to reconsider some of our initial reactions and conclusions. Command responsibility delineates a set of circumstances where our normal reflexes about the lesser culpability of criminal negligence may be unsound.
There are good reasons to endorse scientific realism and good reasons to endorse common-sense realism. However, it has sometimes been suggested that there is a tension between the two which makes it difficult to endorse both. Can the common-sense picture of the world be reconciled with the strikingly different picture presented to us by our best confirmed theories of science? This chapter critically examines proposals for doing so, and it offers a new one, which is essentially this. It is a psychological fact that we have certain common-sense beliefs. In the framework of reductive physicalism, all beliefs, including the common-sense ones, are nothing but brain states and processes. Being scientifically realist about these brain states and accepting the reductive-physicalist view of the mind, we can account for the psychological fact that we have certain common-sense beliefs with certain contents, without committing to the idea that the contents of these common-sense beliefs have to be true of the world. In this coherentist approach we are not required to relinquish our common-sense beliefs, since although they are false according to science, this very same science shows that holding those beliefs is fully rational.
I defend a version of what Sharon Street called “Humean constructivism.” I'll first sketch out why I think that contextual constructivism provides us with a more plausible understanding of the ontological status of values than both Kantian constructivism and moral realism. In addition to its recognition of the role of evolutionary pressures in the emergence of human morality, contextual constructivism must now clarify the role of historical intersubjectivity in the subsequent development of morality. I will then claim that adding a coherentist module to Humean constructivism provides a satisfactory answer to those who fear that contextual metaethical theories can only be non-cognitivist. Finally, I will sketch out why I think that the notion of a mind-independent “space of moral reasons” is largely compatible with Humean constructivism.
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