The Life Worth Living in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy
David Machek
Cambridge University Press, 2023

The account of the best life for humans – i.e. a happy or flourishing life – and what it might consist of was the central theme of ancient ethics. But what does it take to have a life that, if not happy, is at least worth living, compared with being dead or never having come into life? This question was also much discussed in antiquity, and David Machek's book reconstructs, for the first time, philosophical engagements with the question from Socrates to Plotinus. Machek's comprehensive book explores ancient views on a life worth living against a background of the pessimistic outlook on the human condition which was adopted by the Greek poets, and also shows the continuities and contrasts between the ancient perspective and modern philosophical debates about biomedical ethics and the ethics of procreation. His rich study of this relatively neglected theme offers a fresh and compelling narrative of ancient ethics.


Portrait von Nietzsche

Nietzsche’s Conceptual Ethics
Matthieu Queloz
Inquiry, 2023

If ethical reflection on which concepts to use has an avatar, it must be Nietzsche, who took more seriously than most the question of what concepts one should live by. Yet Nietzsche engages in two seemingly disparate modes of concept evaluation: one looks to concepts’ effects, the other to what concepts express. I offer an account of the expressive character of concepts which unifies these two modes. His fundamental concern, I argue, is with the effects concepts are likely to have going forward, but this concern motivates his preoccupation with what concepts express in a specific sense: he works back from a concept via the need it fills to the conditions that engender that need and thereby render the concept pointful. For a concept to be pointful is for it to serve the concerns of its users through its effects. But even when it is not pointful, a concept expresses the presuppositions of its pointfulness, which we can work back to by asking who would have need of such a concept. What emerges is a powerful approach to conceptual ethics that looks beyond the formal virtues and vices of concepts at the presuppositions we buy into by using them.


Buchcover Weshalb auf die Wissenschaft hören?

Vertrauen in die Wissenschaften – was ist das und welche Grundlage hat es?
Claus Beisbart
Springer, 2022

Das Hören auf die Wissenschaften hängt vom Vertrauen in diese ab. Aber was ist Vertrauen in die Wissenschaften und inwieweit ist es begründet? Auf diese Fragen antwortet der vorliegende Beitrag mit einer Begriffsexplikation. Ihr zufolge bedeutet Vertrauen in die Wissenschaften zunächst einmal, damit zu rechnen, dass das, was von den Wissenschaften als Resultat ausgegeben wird, Wissen bildet oder wenigstens sehr oft stimmt. Es gibt gute Gründe, tatsächlich damit zu rechnen, denn das Wissenschaftssystem enthält Mechanismen, die in der Regel dazu führen, dass wissenschaftliche Resultate besonders gut begründet sind. Aber das Wissenschaftssystem ist keine Maschine, in die wir vertrauen könnten wie in einen Computer. Vielmehr hängt die Gesamtheit der wissenschaftlichen Resultate auch von nichtwissenschaftlichen Werten ab. Daher umfasst Vertrauen in die Wissenschaft auch das Rechnen damit, dass Entscheidungen, die von solchen Werten abhängen, angemessen getroffen werden. Das hat wichtige Konsequenzen dafür, wie Misstrauen in die Wissenschaften entstehen kann.


Überforderungseinwände in der Ethik
Lukas Naegeli
De Gruyter, 2022

Überforderungseinwände werden in der ethischen Diskussion darüber vorgebracht, welche moralischen Auffassungen plausibel sind. Manchen Moraltheorien wird entgegengehalten, dass sie zu anspruchsvoll sind, um als plausible Auffassungen gelten zu können. Da diese Theorien Forderungen implizieren, deren Ausmass darüber hinausgeht, was vernünftigerweise von Akteuren erwartet werden kann, sollten sie gemäss den Anhängern von Überforderungseinwänden zurückgewiesen werden.“
Gibt es überzeugende Überforderungseinwände gegen anspruchsvolle moralische Auffassungen? In diesem Buch werden Überforderungseinwände präzise charakterisiert, systematisch eingeordnet und argumentativ verteidigt. Unter Berücksichtigung der wichtigsten philosophischen Beiträge zum Thema wird gezeigt, weshalb gewisse Moraltheorien und -prinzipien dafür kritisiert werden können, dass sie zu viel von einzelnen Personen verlangen.


Cover der Zeitschrift Oriens Extremus

Is Taiyi 太一 the sun in the Taiyi sheng shui 太一生水?
Francesca Puglia, 2020-2021
Oriens Extremus 58. pp. 303-340

The present study addresses the meaning of the compound Taiyi 太一in the fourth century BCE Chu bamboo manuscript Taiyi sheng shui太一生水. More specifically, it focuses on showing that, in the text at hand, Taiyi is possibly employed as an alternative name for the sun. This claim is supported by an analysis of the concrete vocabulary employed in the text to describe Taiyi as moving (hiding in water, proceeding with the seasons, and completing a cycle), as a mother and as the warp of the ten thousand things, and by highlighting its fundamental role in the cosmological process that brings the year to completion. The suggested correspondence between Taiyi and the sun is further corroborated by a comparison of Taiyi's role in the Taiyi sheng shui manuscript with pre-imperial and early imperial texts that provide both astronomical and mythological accounts on the sun, including other Chu sources. The understanding of Taiyi as a name for the sun is not only consistent with pre-imperial and early imperial literary accounts, but also allows a reading of the manuscript as a coherent whole in which the sun runs its path through the sky, providing men with a model to follow in managing human affairs.


Cover der Zeitschrift Almagest

Can Cosmologists Really Measure the Age of the Universe?
Claus Beisbart (2022)
Almagest 2022 13:2, 112-139

In the last few years, cosmologists have come up with what seem to be high precision measurements of the age of the Universe. According to recent results by the Planck collaboration, for instance, the Universe is 13.797 ± 0.023 billion years old. But is this indeed a genuine measurement? Can cosmologists really measure and know how old the Universe is? The aim of this paper is to answer these questions. To this end, I first provide some background in the history of cosmology and in physics to explain the methods that scientists follow to determine the age of the Universe. As it turns out, cosmologists obtain a value for this age by tracing the consequences from the cosmological model that best fits the available data. I then discuss this method from a philosophical perspective by addressing potential worries about the success of the method. My conclusion is that cosmologists can only be said to measure the age of the Universe if this is taken with more than one grain of salt. The reason for the qualification is not that the notion of measurement is inappropriate for what cosmologists try; rather, the problem is that they do not have a grip on the whole Universe due to a principled limitation to take observations.

Gesplitterte Glasscheibe vor schwarzem Hintergrund

Potentialism and S5
Jonas Werner
Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 2023

Modal potentialism as proposed by Barbara Vetter (2015) is the view that every possibility is grounded in something having a potentiality. Drawing from work by Jessica Leech (2017), Samuel Kimpton-Nye (2021) argues that potentialists can have an S5 modal logic. I present a novel argument to the conclusion that the most straightforward way of spelling out modal potentialism cannot validate an S5 modal logic. Then I will propose a slightly tweaked version of modal potentialism that can validate an S5 modal logic and still does justice to the core claim of potentialism.


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