Archive for Martie 2008
Now here’s something for historians: for the first time in the human history, me and George agree 100% 🙂 So I have to subscribe to what George said here and here: it was a nice conference; Stefan deserves congratulations; I didn’t get much out of Strawson’s lecture, too; the best talks I attended were these two: Steinvör Thöll Àrnadóttir (UCL – University College London) -„Functionalism and Thinking Animals”; and Monica Jitareanu (Central European University) – „Phenomenal vs. Intentional – Ways of Conceiving Perceptual Experience and What It Means to Say It is Transparent” (I’ve heard that Lee Walters (UCL) gave another very good talk: „The Duality of Might and Would”).
In the last day of the conference, I commented Rebekah Humphreys’s (Cardiff) paper, „Contractarianism: On the Incoherence of the Exclusion of Non-Human Beings”
And at dinnner time, in both days, all philosophers (young and not-so-young) showed that they know how to have fun. Here are some pictures:
Above, from left to right: Hanoch Ben-Yami (CEU – Central European University), Tim Crane (UCL – University College London), Galen Strawson (CUNY – The City University of New York), and David Weberman (CEU).
Galen Strawson, Kati Farkas (CEU) and Tim Crane.
Can anyone do everything in the name of art? Alina is researching this problem. And I think it is a serious one. The „artist” Guillermo Vargas Habacuc starved a dog to death – that was his greatest artwork! Read the news in Romanian here, and in English here and here.
Now I cannot say that an artwork cannot be considered a real work of art unless it complies with general moral principles (generally speaking: unless the artist didn’t do immoral things in order to create the work, and unless the subject treated in an artwork is also morally treated). I cannot say this, and those who do claim such a thing make a great confusion between moral standards and aesthetical standards. You cannot say that an artwork is not aesthetically valuable just because it is morally unacceptable; conversely, you cannot say that an action is morally unacceptable just because it is aesthetically not valuable.
Does this mean that there is no relation between art and morals? Of course not. The artist, as everybody else, is constrained in his artistic and non-artistic actions by moral and legal norms. You are not allowed to make an artwork if, by doing it, you cause pain to a particular being.
Now unfortunatelly, this „artwork” I am talking about here is both immoral and aethetically not valuable. It is only ablut crime and stupidity. The crime of torturing a sentient being just for fun – and the great amount of stupidity of that so-called artist.
Saturday and Sunday (29 and 30 March 2008) it will take place the second Philosophy Graduate Conference at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. The programm is here. I will comment a talk on Sunday. In the same day, you can see and listen the keynote speaker, Galen Strawson. If you’re in town, do come!
His intention is to defend ethical intuitionism (according to which some of our ethical knowledge is non-inferential) against an objection put forth by Nicholas Sturgeon. The thesis is this: irrespective of whether intuitionism takes non-inferential ethical knowledge to be a posteriori or a priori, intuitionism isn’t committed (as Sturgeon claims) to the existence of non-inferential knowledge in areas outside ethics in which its existence would be implausible (such as the past, the future, or the unobservable). These are the good news – but there is also bad news: even if ethical intuitionism is not committed to an implausible epistemology outside ethics, its versions (a priori and a posteriori ethical intuitionism) might be committed to an implausible epistemology within ethics.
I. So here it is, first, the standard argument for ethical intuitionism (a very clear and elegant one, in my opinion):
(S1) If we have any ethical knowledge, then that knowledge is either (a) non-inferential, or (b) based by reasonable inference on partly ethical premises, or (c) based by reasonable inference on entirely non-ethical premises
(S2) The Autonomy of Ethics: There is no reasonable inference (deductive or non-deductive) to any ethical conclusion from entirely non-ethical premises
(S3) Therefore, if we have any ethical knowledge, then that knowledge is either (a) non-inferential or (b) based by reasonable inference on at least partly ethical premises
(S4) Foundationalism: If we have any knowledge (e.g. ethical knowledge) that is inferential, then all such knowledge is ultimately based by reasonable inference on some knowledge that is non-inferential
(S5) Therefore, if we have any ethical knowledge, some of it is non-inferential
(S6) Ethical Non-Skepticism: We have some ethical knowledge
(S7) Therefore, some of our ethical knowledge is non-inferential
Since the above standard argument is valid, any critic of ethical intuitionism must reject S2 or S4
Note: foundationalism + autonomy of ethics ® a choice between intuitionism and skepticism [note that the argument can be generalized to any other topic, it is not specific to ethics]
II. Let’s see now Nicholas Sturgeon’s objection. He says that, given a certain plausible general rationale for the autonomy of ethics, intuitionism implies an implausible epistemology outside ethics, because of its commitment to foundationalism.
Sturgeon’s naturalistic “rationale” for the autonomy of ethics is this: our thought about the natural world is populated by areas that are autonomous with respect to the evidence we bring to bear on them [because assessment of evidence for theoretical conclusions are theory-dependent (the same explanation works for the autonomy of many areas of thought about the natural world]. Now the problem is that the naturalistic rationale for the autonomy of ethics comes with a high epistemological cost: it commits us to the autonomy of our thought about the past, the future and the unobservable; so the intuitionist must accept that we have non-inferential knowledge in these topics too. As a consequence, if ethical intuitionists accept the autonomy of ethics, then combining it with foundationalism commits them to an implausible overall epistemology. But to give up foundationalism is to give up ethical intuitionism.
III. Now take the following definitions:
a) a posteriori ethical intuitionism = the claim that if we have any non-inferential a posteriori knowledge, presumably some of it we have by perception.
b) a priori ethical intuitionism = the claim that some of our ethical knowledge must be non-inferential a priori knowledge.
Pekka Väyrynen shows that neither of the above versions of ethical intuitionism is committed to an implausible epistemology outside ethics. But they might be committed to an implausible epistemology within ethics. The arguments go like this:
a) in order to respond to the objection according to which all knowledge is inferential, a posteriori ethical intuitionism should hold that at least some experiences that correctly represent an ethical property as being instantiated are perceptions of that ethical property as being instantiated. Bu the problem is that establishing that we can perceive ethical properties as being instantiated is difficult. Still, if we could perceive ethical properties as being instantiated, then some ethical knowledge is non-inferential. If we can perceive ethical properties as being instantiated, it doesn’t follow that in the similar way perception gives us non-inferential knowledge about topics like the past, the future, or the unobservable. So the question remains whether the reply commits a posteriori intuitionism to an implausible epistemology within ethics. This depends crucially on whether we can perceive ethical properties as being instantiated.
b) a priori ethical intuitionism holds that a self-evident proposition is a truth any adequate understanding of which is such that (a) one has justification for believing the proposition in virtue of having that understanding of it and (b) if one believes the proposition on the basis of that understanding, then one knows it. Further, we can have non-inferential ethical knowledge on the basis of adequate understanding of certain propositions, without any further positive appeal to experience, even if experience, background beliefs, or inferences are capable of defeating our justification to believe those propositions. The only problem is whether there are self-evident ethical truths. If there are self-evident ethical truths, then one can accept both foundationalism and the autonomy of ethics without committing oneself to self-evident truths that could give us non-inferential knowledge in other areas. So the idea is that we need a reliable test for determining whether a proposition is self-evident. A priori intuitionists have yet to explain how an ethical proposition can be such that: a) an adequate understanding of it makes one to know that it is true but b) facts about its meaning or how that meaning is fixed don’t alone explain why its truth is knowable solely on the basis of an adequate understanding of it. So long as the existence of such synthetic self-evident ethical truths remain in doubt, our support for a priori intuitionism should be merely conditional.
I’ve made another page, which is called „The Wanderer”: here you can see pictures with me and others in all the places of this big world I’ve been to. Just look in the sidebar. Enjoy!
Iaca alta pomana: Mitrea propune un proiect de lege conform caruia fiecare profesor va primi anual 150 euro sa isi cumpere haine. Hai sa vedem, na concurs: care ati aflat o veste mai umilitoare si o pomana mai imbecila? Cititi aici.
Vezi, George, ce fain e sa fii prof? Nu-mi iei si mie un maieu de la un second? Da’ vezi sa fie cu gauri ca la Right Said Fred… Hai, te rog….