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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Susanne Bobzien
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Diodorus Cronus
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
René Descartes
Richard Double
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Fred Dretske
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouillée
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Carl Ginet
H.Paul Grice
Nicholas St. John Green
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Christine Korsgaard
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Paul E. Meehl
Alfred Mele
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Karl Popper
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is a moral philosopher who is skeptical of moral systems that claim there exist uniquely best (most moral, most rational) decisions in all moral situations. He argues that there are many real moral dilemmas, in which there are inherent conflicts between different moral rules.

Sinnott-Armstrong is therefore skeptical of all moral systems, though he remains agnostic as to relativistic claims for moral nihilism. Philosophers have been resistant to the idea of real and unresolvable moral dilemmas, though the literature is full of them, from the Greek tragedies to Shakespeare and modern novels and drama full of psychological and moral conflicts.

Though many philosophers continue to deny common sense on many subjects, like the existence of free will, the reality of time, and the possibility of knowledge, several philosophers now advance the case for real and unresolvable moral paradoxes.

Some of them may have gone too far, using the existence of moral dilemmas and the existence of multiple conflicting "rights" as arguments against realism, objectivism, and rationalism in morality.

In his introduction to the 1988 book Moral Dilemmas, Sinnott-Armstrong explains "What Moral Dilemmas Are:"

Both classical and contemporary literature are filled with descriptions of situations that are supposed to be moral dilemmas or unresolvable conflicts between strong moral requirements. The best known examples are Greek tragedies, such as those about Antigone and Agamemnon, and Shakespearian tragedies, but many recent novels, such as Sophie's Choice, also hinge on moral dilemmas. These stories are so common and so realistic that they seem to show that moral dilemmas can occur.

This impression is also supported by everyday experience. Almost everyone has faced some situation where each of two incompatible alternatives is favoured by some strong moral requirement, but there seems to be no objective way to resolve the conflict. Such situations seem to be common not only for those who determine which people will die, such as doctors and military personnel, but also for anyone with divergent commitments — for example, to friends, family and country. All of this makes it a matter of common sense that moral dilemmas are possible and even actual.

Nonetheless, philosophers often deny common sense. Philosophers have denied that time is real, that anyone can know anything, that anyone has free will, that minds are distinct from bodies, and much else that seems to be common sense. They claim to have strong arguments that common sense is not always as reliable as it seems.

Similarly, most traditional moral philosophers deny that unresolvable moral dilemmas can ever really occur. They realize that they are denying common sense, so they give a variety of arguments against moral dilemmas. They assume that the purpose of a moral theory is to give a procedure for deciding what to do in every moral situation, so the best moral theory must show either that moral requirements never really conflict or that such conflicts are always resolvable by finding the one right action. This view is shared by most utilitarians and many of their rival deontologists, such as Aquinas and Kant. And this tradition is still alive today. Of course, philosophers do not all agree about the possibility of moral dilemmas (or anything else). Even though traditional philosophers deny the possibility of moral dilemmas, other philosophers have recently rejected the philosophical tradition and argued that moral dilemmas are actual or at least possible. Sartre was one of the first to be so bold. Several deontic logicians later reached similar conclusions by very different methods.

These philosophers not only defend common sense but also claim that the possibility of moral dilemmas is important for several reasons. First, moral dilemmas force us to rethink the traditional view of the nature and purpose of moral theory and thus of the standards for deciding among moral theories. Traditional moral philosophers often assume that a moral theory must provide a complete moral decision procedure, but such completeness cannot be attained if moral dilemmas cannot be resolved. The recognition of moral dilemmas can thus prevent unrealistic expectations that distort moral theories and lead some to reject the whole project of ethics. Some defenders of moral dilemmas also claim that the possibility of moral dilemmas refutes realism, objectivism, absolutism or rationalism in morality. Other moral philosophers have responded that moral dilemmas not only do not refute moral realism but actually support it. If either claim is correct, the possibility of moral dilemmas might solve one of the oldest and most important debates in moral philosophy.

The possibility of moral dilemmas also provides a new way to think about concrete moral problems. When a moral philosopher asks questions such as whether a preferential treatment programme is morally permitted, it is often assumed that there are only two alternatives. Either the preferential treatment programme is required, because the rights of those who benefit override the rights of those who are excluded; or the programme is not permitted, because the rights of those who are excluded override the rights of those who benefit. The recognition of moral dilemmas provides another alternative: neither right overrides the other, so the conflict is unresolvable. There is still much to be said about what can and should be done and felt in such situations, but this discussion cannot even begin until the possibility of moral dilemmas is admitted.

These philosophical implications and others make it important to determine whether moral dilemmas are possible. But moral dilemmas also have an intrinsic interest of their own. If moral dilemmas are as common as it seems, each of us will probably face some moral dilemma in his or her own personal life. We can deal with these situations better when they arise if we understand their nature and implications in advance. All of this makes it worthwhile to make the considerable effort that is needed to understand these complex situations.
(Moral Dilemmas, 1988, pp.1-3)

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