Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophy Vol. 81, No. 1, January 2006

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophy Vol. 81, No. 1, January 2006

Article excerpt


This article presents an analysis of the doctrine of the sanctity of life and a defense of that doctrine against some trends in current "bioethics," particularly as exemplified in Jeff McMahan's book The Ethics of Killing.

'The Table, Which We See': An Irresolvable Ambiguity, JAMES SOMERVILLE

The argument presented on behalf of "the slightest philosophy" by Hume, that "The table, which we see, seems to diminish, as we remove farther from it: But the real table, which exists independent of us, suffers no alteration," in contrasting the seen with the real table, requires the first relative clause to be defining; but the possibility of identifying tables independently of being seen requires the clause to be nondefining. John P. Wright's objection to Reid's rejoinder is rebutted. A similarly worded argument in Alciphron avoids confusion since Berkeley denies that things like tables can be said in any unqualified sense to be seen.

The Secular Reception of Religious Music, DAVID PUGMIRE

Sacred music expresses and evokes emotional attitudes of distinctive kinds. Even people who are irreligious in their beliefs can find themselves moved by it in these ways. It has been suggested that for an unbeliever to cherish the experience of sacred music may actually constitute a form of sentimentality. This paper considers just what the appeal of this sort of music is, to believers as well as to unbelievers. There are nonreligious musical works that have similar emotional content. Everyday life prevents many important emotions from being experienced as consummately as they could be. Art can allow this to happen, can be a vehicle for emotion of the last instance. Indeed, a religious belief system is in part a similar vehicle. In art, where there is no gesture at belief, the risk of sentimentality is, if anything, less.

Time Reconsidered, DENIS CORISH

Following observations of Aristotle, Kant, Newton, Leibniz, and Einstein (on space), we can devise a means of showing how the ontology of time supports the precedes-succeeds logic, which the temporal series shares with those of space and number, and how the past-present-future account is consistent with that. By a relativist, not absolutist, account, time turns out to be the existence and nonexistence of exactly the same thing in exactly the same respect. Both A and not-A can be the case, but not at the same time. On the relativist view, their both being the case constitutes time. This turns out to be, in the most general sense, a causal theory of time. …

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