SORITES, ISSN 1135-1349
Issue #09. April 1998. Pp. 3-5.
Abstracts of the Papers
Copyright (C) by SORITES and the authors

Abstracts of the Papers

Intention and Foresight in the British Law of Murder

William Irwin

Establishing the mens rea for murder is often a difficult task, which has been made more difficult in British Law by confusions regarding the nature of intention and foresight. While is is correct to claim that foresight is not the same as intention, it is incorrect to maintain that intention is a necessary constituent of the mental element in murder. In response to these confusions, the paper argues for the reinstatement of felony murder or, in lieu of this, for the adoption of ordinary language in the law of murder.

Factual Phenomenalism: A Supervenience Theory

John Bolender

Broadly speaking, phenomenalism is the position that physical facts depend upon sensory facts. Many have thought it to imply that physical statements are translatable into sensory statements. Not surprisingly, the impossibility of such translations led many to abandon phenomenalism in favor of materialism. But this was rash, for if phenomenalism is reformulated as the claim that physical facts supervene upon sensory facts, then translatability is no longer required. Given materialism's failure to account for subjective experience, there has been a revival of property dualism. But property dualism implies indirect realism with its threat of scepticism. Given difficulties with materialism and dualism, philosophers should reconsider phenomenalism.

Seeing Aspects, Seeing Value

Joe Fearn

This paper is a defense of moral realism. It claims that Hume's projectivism and abuse of resultance has led us to gross distortions of non-cognitivist ethics. The analogy of moral properties with secondary properties is noted, before offering a stronger theory of moral realism. This theory recognises moral properties as constituting part of the manifest image, in a way that is satisfactory both ontologically (about what kind of entities moral properties are) and epistemologically (about the grounds to prove their presence.) This involves a rejection of austere, scientific reductionism. This model of moral realism relies on an analogy of moral properties as aspects. Aspect-seeing and moral value perception are argued to be linked, in a discussion of Wittgenstein's account of noticing aspects. Aspect blindness can best explain moral blindness, and bring out the connection with human possession and use of concepts. Moral value perception is a case of coming to see things in a certain light; as seeing human behaviour as HUMAN behaviour. Finally, I go on to argue that seeing is not just a matter of light waves of a certain frequency hitting our retina from an object that we passively see, but is a complex phenomena that can accommodate moral vision.

Frankfurt, Failure, and Finding Fault

V. Alan White

Harry Frankfurt's famous examples of overdetermined moral agents who are nevertheless responsible for their actions and omissions have long been hailed as proofs that the ability and/or opportunity to do otherwise (Principle of Alternative Possibilities -- PAP) is not a necessary condition for moral responsibility. In this paper I use recent clarifications of some of these examples by Frankfurt himself to show that their force relies in part on tacit ceteris paribus assumptions concealing a reliance on PAP that concerns matters of fairness in assessing moral responsibility.

Partially Resolving the Tension between Omniscience and Free Will: A Mathematical Argument

Joseph S. Fulda

Moral theology is given force by punishment and reward, which is, in turn, comprehensible only in the presence of free will. Yet free will has been bedevilled with philosophical difficulties, not least among them the tension between omniscience and autonomy. The paper, building on a theory of temptation and sin published in Mind, gives a partial resolution to that tension using a mathematical argument.