Telephone: 0191 334 6550
Email: philosophical.writings@dur.ac.uk

Spring 2006

No. 31, Spring 2006
Smile
Papers
Smile
EVIL AND POSSIBLE WORLDS, Stephen Grant – Richmond Upon Thames College.
This article is an attack on Plantinga’s free will defence. The central claim is that Plantinga’s defence is effective against Mackie’s famous version of the logical problem of evil, but vulnerable to a slightly modified version. Specifically, it is claimed that Plantinga does not provide an adequate defence of the quantity of evil in the world. This is argued in light of the fact that Plantinga accepts the compatibility of there being causal laws which restrict human freedom to some degree, but still allow ‘significant freedom’. If one accepts the possibility that some causal laws may contribute to character formation, such as some persons being caused to be more sympathetic than others, and that more sympathetic persons are both morally better and free, then God could have arranged the causal laws such that all of us are caused to be as sympathetic as the most sympathetic free agents. That he has failed to do this indicates a moral failure on his part, and that he therefore lacks omnipotence, omniscience or moral perfection, each of which number among his necessary attributes.
Smile
A RENEWED OBJECTION OF UNIVERSALISABILITY, Christopher Cowley – University of East Anglia.
In 1965 Peter Winch published ‘The Universalisability of Moral Judgements’. I feel that the argument in this paper has never been successfully refuted, and that it remains relevant to many contemporary debates in moral philosophy. Winch argued against the widespread assumption that a moral judgement, if true, ought to be universalisable for all people in relevantly similar situations. He considers the example of Captain Vere in Melville’s ‘Billy Budd': Vere managed to condemn a man he considered innocent, while Winch concludes that in the same situation he could not have done it. Many contemporary moral realists would demand that at least one of them was incorrect, probably because of misperceiving the situation (or misperceiving the reasons generated by the situation). Instead, says Winch, there is a sense in which one action legitimately ‘struck’ Vere, but not Winch, as correct, and that this is the end of the ‘dispute’ between them. However, this requires a robust defence against counter-charges of relativism. Part of the problem with Winch’s article, I argue, is his ambiguous use of the concept of ‘moral rightness’, but I remedy this, and defend Winch against two further sympathetic criticisms.
Smile
ARISTOTLE, AQUINAS, AND THE CONVERTIBILITY OF TRUTH AND BEING, Gerol C. Petruzella – State University of New York at Buffalo.
Aquinas diverges from Aristotle, in considering the truth relation, in his doctrine of the complete convertibility of truth and being. I first sketch an outline of Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s respective accounts of truth, examining the various thing(s) each holds to be the referent(s) of being true. I next identify two accounts of truth in Aristotle upon which Aquinas relies. I then trace how Aquinas arrives at a complete extensional identity between being and truth, a consequence absent from Aristotle. This consequence, however, results from a theological, not a philosophical, commitment. There can be, for Aquinas, no extensional difference between being and being true since it is impossible for the universe to exist without at least one Being capable of the mental act of adequation. Thus Aquinas’s doctrine of convertibility cannot properly be understood as a philosophical extension of Aristotelian theory.
Smile
POPPER ON THE LOGICAL POSSIBILITY OF UNIVERSAL LAWS, G. Contessa.
In the appendices to his Logic of Scientific Discovery, Karl Popper presents a number of arguments in favour of the thesis that the logical probability of any universal law in an infinite universe must be zero. According to Popper, from this it follows that any attempt to apply a Bayesian approach to the confirmation of scientific laws is a non-starter—if the prior probability of any hypothesis h is zero (p(h) = 0), it follows from Bayes Theorem that p(h| e) = 0 for any possible e. In this essay, I will discuss what I deem to be Popper’s main argument in support of this thesis. I shall argue that the general validity of two of the three assumptions on which the argument is based can be challenged.
Smile
IN DEFENCE OF POPPER ON THE LOGICAL POSSIBILITY OF UNIVERSAL LAWS: A REPLY TO CONTESSA, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom – Universities of Bristol and Edinburgh.
This paper is a critique of Contessa’s (in the same issue). First, I show that Popper in The Logic of Scientific Discovery argues against the view that the logical probability of a hypothesis is identical to its degree of confirmation (or corroboration), rather than against Bayesianism. Second, I explain that his argument to this effect does not depend on the assumption that ‘the universe is infinite’. Third, and finally, I refine Popper’s case by developing an argument which requires only that some universal laws have a logical probability of zero relative to any finite evidence, and providing an example concerning Newtonian mechanics.
Smile
Reviews
Smile
Elizabeth Hannon – Darwinian Conservatism.
M. D. Eddy – The 1702 Chair of Chemistry at Cambridge.
Gerald K. Harrison – Deontic Morality and Control.
Daniel Gallagher – Values of Beauty: Historical Essays in Aesthetics.
Phillip Meadows – The Problem of Perception .
Smile

Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Department

The Department of Philosophy is the home of the Philosophical Writings Journal.

Eidos - Postgraduate Philosophy Society

Contact Us

The Editor, Philosophical Writings
Department of Philosophy
Durham University
50 Old Elvet
Durham
DH1 3HN
Phone: 0191 334 6550
Fax: 0191 334 6551
Website: http://www.dur.ac.uk/philosophical.writings.index.html
Email: philosophical.writings@dur.ac.uk

Durham University

The Palatine Centre
Durham University
Stockton Road
Durham
DH1 3LE