Recent Responses

I've been reading Schopenhauer for the first time, and he claims to have developed metaphysics and ethics into one. Does anyone agree with this claim? I'm just a little perplexed, and I wonder if he really accomplished this.

Joseph G. Moore May 11, 2006 (changed May 11, 2006) Permalink It's a neat view: the world-in-itself is an undifferentiated "will" that we individuate through categories such as space, time, and causation which (following Kant) Schopenhauer thought that we bring to our experience of the world. These differentiated parts of the world-as-experienced include di... Read more

Music is often described as having something to do with emotion. But a song or a sonata can't literally feel happy or sad, so what is the connection to emotion?

Joseph G. Moore May 11, 2006 (changed May 11, 2006) Permalink You're right that a work of music can't literally feel sad. It's also true that we, the listeners, often (perhaps even typically) don't feel sad when we hear a sad piece of music. In fact, we might feel exhiliration or awe in the presence of a wonderful performance of a sad piece--a slow one in a... Read more

Is there anything morally problematic about health inequalities which correlate to inequalities in social-economic status? If so, what, if anything, should be done? How can our "modern ideals" (health care system - NHS) be applied to the teachings of Rawls and Nozick?

Oliver Leaman May 11, 2006 (changed May 11, 2006) Permalink If there are moral problems with inequalities in general, then they should apply to health issues also. If there are not such moral problems, then they need not. That is, if we allow inequalities to exist then we should not be surprised or even shocked that they exist in health care also, indeed we... Read more

Hello. Thank you for reading this. I'm in grave need of philosophical counsel please. I cannot 'get' the distinction between 'a priori' and 'a posteriori'. It seems to me that anything that is known must be, in some way, related to experience. I'm troubled by this thought experiment: If a baby was born with a terrible genetic condition which excluded all the human senses, what would the child 'know'? Without the 'experience' of the senses, what could the child ever know? Not even syllogism would be possible; without experience, language would not be available to the unfortunate child. And I imagine that this would be true of numbers too. Yours truly, Blunderov.

Richard Heck May 10, 2006 (changed May 10, 2006) Permalink Here's Frege's way of making this point: Now these distinctions between a prioir and a posteriori, synthetic and analytic, concern, as I see it, not the content of the judgement but the justification for making the judgement. ...When a proposition is called a posteriori or a priori in my sense, this... Read more

Hello. Thank you for reading this. I'm in grave need of philosophical counsel please. I cannot 'get' the distinction between 'a priori' and 'a posteriori'. It seems to me that anything that is known must be, in some way, related to experience. I'm troubled by this thought experiment: If a baby was born with a terrible genetic condition which excluded all the human senses, what would the child 'know'? Without the 'experience' of the senses, what could the child ever know? Not even syllogism would be possible; without experience, language would not be available to the unfortunate child. And I imagine that this would be true of numbers too. Yours truly, Blunderov.

Richard Heck May 10, 2006 (changed May 10, 2006) Permalink Here's Frege's way of making this point: Now these distinctions between a prioir and a posteriori, synthetic and analytic, concern, as I see it, not the content of the judgement but the justification for making the judgement. ...When a proposition is called a posteriori or a priori in my sense, this... Read more

As far as I know, it's not illegal in football (soccer) to kick the ball really hard at someone's face if they are in the way of goal. Throwing dummies and gamesmanship are also treated as acceptable. So how exactly does agreeing on rules of a game remove normal moral constraints? I know people wouldn't be happy if I started blasting a football at their faces, but would it be morally ok?

Gordon Marino August 5, 2010 (changed August 5, 2010) Permalink It's not illegal but practitioners of the game would certainly be judged to be immoral if it was done with the intention of hurting someone. It is true though that we can do things in sports that would be judged to be immoral in other contexts and on this point I agree with Douglas Burnham that... Read more

Hello. Thank you for reading this. I'm in grave need of philosophical counsel please. I cannot 'get' the distinction between 'a priori' and 'a posteriori'. It seems to me that anything that is known must be, in some way, related to experience. I'm troubled by this thought experiment: If a baby was born with a terrible genetic condition which excluded all the human senses, what would the child 'know'? Without the 'experience' of the senses, what could the child ever know? Not even syllogism would be possible; without experience, language would not be available to the unfortunate child. And I imagine that this would be true of numbers too. Yours truly, Blunderov.

Richard Heck May 10, 2006 (changed May 10, 2006) Permalink Here's Frege's way of making this point: Now these distinctions between a prioir and a posteriori, synthetic and analytic, concern, as I see it, not the content of the judgement but the justification for making the judgement. ...When a proposition is called a posteriori or a priori in my sense, this... Read more

Is it morally justifiable to give minors the right to consent to treatment, but not the right to refuse treatment?

Peter Lipton May 8, 2006 (changed May 8, 2006) Permalink How can there be a right to consent without a right to refuse? The problem here is conceptual, not moral. Log in to post comments

Natural language statements have quantifiers such as, “most”, “many”, “few”, and “only”. How could ordinary first-order predicate logic with identity (hereafter, FOPL) treat statements containing these vague quantifiers? It seems that FOPL, with only the existential and universal quantifiers at its disposal, is insufficient. I read somewhere that ‘restricted quantification’ notation can ameliorate such problems. Is this true, or are there difficulties with the restricted quantification treatment of vague quantifiers? What are some of the inference rules for restricted quantification notation? For example, in FOPL you have the existential instantiation and universal instantiation inference rules. Are there analogue inference rules for the quantifiers, "many", “most” and “few”? Can you recommend any books or articles that outline, critique or defend restricted quantification? I also read that there are issues with FOPL regarding symbolizing adverbs and events from natural language. Is this true or just a superficial problem? Another complaint about FOPL, (especially Russell’s treatment of statements in the form of “The so and so...”), is that, often there are no obvious correspondences between the grammatical structure of the natural language and its logical notation counterpart. For example, in the English statement, “All men are mortal” to the logical notation, (x)(Mx->Rx), there seems to be no obvious correspondence to the connective ‘->’ from anything in its natural language grammatical structure. In other words, the logical notation seems too contrived. What is the common response to this complaint if any? These seem to be grave problems for the applicability and effectiveness of FOPL to natural language arguments. (I am not referring to the “limits” of FOPL where extensions such as modal, tense, or second-order logic might accommodate the richer parts of natural language, but rather to the apparent inability of any logic(s) dealing with these problems.) Note: Much of these concerns I have come from an article I read by Kent Bach in “A Companion to Philosophical Logic” by Blackwell Publishing. Thanks Kindly for your reply, J Jones

Richard Heck May 7, 2006 (changed May 7, 2006) Permalink One further point. Toward the end, you write: These seem to be grave problems for theapplicability and effectiveness of FOPL to natural language arguments.(I am not referring to the “limits” of FOPL where extensions such asmodal, tense, or second-order logic might accommodate the richer partsof natur... Read more

I'm a student with the Open University in the UK, recently due to industrial action my tutors are no longer marking our essays with scores, they now only put comments on them. Personally I prefer this. I find myself feeling motivated to higher levels, and without the scores I cannot gauge what my average is, meaning that each essay is important to me. Initially this was because I didn't want to receive a bad comment, hence a bad score, but now it's because I am so much more absorbed in my subject. But other students don't feel the same, they feel as if it's their right to know their scores, after all, what is a degree if it isn't one massive score. I've decided that those of us who are enjoying the way things currently are, without scores are at University for the pursuit of knowledge. While those who do not like it are at University in pursuit of a degree. Two very different things. My question is, with this in mind, Do you agree that Universities would become better learning establishments, temples of knowledge even, if the current score system were to be abolished and replaced with a discussion and comment system? I also believe that the way Universities work have their roots firmly entangled in capitalist-democratic society and our Universities have been designed to promote the current way of doing things (life) in this society.

Peter Lipton May 7, 2006 (changed May 7, 2006) Permalink Grading at least some of students' work is probably unavoidable, but comments are essential. I've become fond of the British system of separating teaching from assessment. At Cambridge University, where I work, this means that the weekly philosophy essay that undergraduates write for their supervisi... Read more

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