Ideas of Roger Scruton, by Theme

[British, b.1944, Born High Wycombe; Royal Grammar School there. Birkbeck, London and University of Boston. Retired to write. Noted conservative controversialist.]

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / c. Philosophy as generalisation
Philosophy aims to provide a theory of everything
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 8. Humour
Since only men laugh, it seems to be an attribute of reason
Objects of amusement do not have to be real
The central object of amusement is the human
Amusement rests on superiority, or relief, or incongruity
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 3. Analysis of Preconditions
If p entails q, then p is sufficient for q, and q is necessary for p
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 1. Continental Philosophy
Two marxist ideas have dominated in France: base and superstructure, and ideology
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 6. Deconstruction
On the surface of deconstructive writing, technicalities float and then drift away
Deconstruction is the last spasm of romanticism, now become hopeless and destructive
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
Do aesthetic reasons count as reasons, if they are rejectable without contradiction?
2. Reason / E. Argument / 4. Open Question
We may define 'good' correctly, but then ask whether the application of the definition is good
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 1. Truth
A true proposition is consistent with every other true proposition
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 2. Defining Truth
Defining truth presupposes that there can be a true definition
3. Truth / E. Pragmatic Truth / 1. Pragmatic Truth
The pragmatist does not really have a theory of truth
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 2. History of Logic
Nowadays logic is seen as the science of extensions, not intensions
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / c. Counting procedure
Could you be intellectually acquainted with numbers, but unable to count objects?
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 10. Constructivism / b. Intuitionism
If maths contains unprovable truths, then maths cannot be reduced to a set of proofs
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 12. Denial of Properties
If possible worlds are needed to define properties, maybe we should abandon properties
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 11. Denial of Necessity
Hume assumes that necessity can only be de dicto, not de re
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / c. Possible but inconceivable
The conceivable can't be a test of the possible, if there are things which are possible but inconceivable
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Epistemology is about the justification of belief, not the definition of knowledge
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / b. Elements of beliefs
Having beliefs involves recognition, expectation and surprise
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / f. Animal beliefs
If an animal has beliefs, that implies not only that it can make mistakes, but that it can learn from them
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 4. The Cogito
In the Cogito argument consciousness develops into self-consciousness
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
Maybe our knowledge of truth and causation is synthetic a priori
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 1. Perception
Perception (which involves an assessment) is a higher state than sensation
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / c. Primary qualities
Touch only seems to reveal primary qualities
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / e. Primary/secondary critique
We only conceive of primary qualities as attached to secondary qualities
If primary and secondary qualities are distinct, what has the secondary qualities?
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
The representational theory says perceptual states are intentional states
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 2. Causal Justification
My belief that it will rain tomorrow can't be caused by its raining tomorrow
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
Logical positivism avoids scepticism, by closing the gap between evidence and conclusion
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 6. Relativism Critique
Why should you believe someone who says there are no truths?
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / d. Purpose of consciousness
There is consciousness whenever behaviour must be explained in terms of mental activity
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 2. Persons as Responsible
Our concept of a person is derived from Roman law
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 6. Determinism / a. Determinism
Every event having a cause, and every event being determined by its cause, are not the same
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 2. Interactionism
The very concept of a substance denies the possibility of mutual interaction and dependence
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 4. Behaviourism Critique
Conditioning may change behaviour without changing the mind
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 3. Emotions / c. Role of emotions
An emotion is a motive which is also a feeling
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 5. Rationality / a. Rationality
Only rational beings are attentive without motive or concern
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 5. Rationality / c. Animal rationality
Do we use reason to distinguish people from animals, or use that difference to define reason?
18. Thought / C. Content / 2. Ideas
Cartesian 'ideas' confuse concepts and propositions
19. Language / F. Communication / 4. Private Language
Wittgenstein makes it impossible to build foundations from something that is totally private
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 1. Aesthetics
Aesthetics has risen and fallen with Romanticism
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 2. Aesthetic Attitude
Aesthetic experience informs the world with the values of the observer
Art gives us imaginary worlds which we can view impartially
The pleasure taken in beauty also aims at understanding and valuing
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 3. Taste
Literary meaning emerges in comparisons, and tradition shows which comparisons are relevant
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
Maybe 'beauty' is too loaded, and we should talk of fittingness or harmony
Beauty shows us what we should want in order to achieve human fulfilment
Beauty is rationally founded, inviting meaning, comparison and self-reflection
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 5. Natural Beauty
Natural beauty reassures us that the world is where we belong
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 4. Art as Expression
Reference without predication is the characteristic of expression
Romantics say music expresses ideas, or the Will, or intuitions, or feelings
Croce says art makes inarticulate intuitions conscious; rival views say the audience is the main concern
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 5. Art as Language
If music refers to love, it contains no predication, so it is expression, not language
In literature, word replacement changes literary meaning
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 8. The Arts / a. Music
Music is not representational, since thoughts about a subject are never essential to it
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 1. Artistic Intentions
Without intentions we can't perceive sculpture, but that is not the whole story
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 3. Artistic Representation
In aesthetic interest, even what is true is treated as though it were not
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 4. Emotion in Art
Expressing melancholy is a good thing, but arousing it is a bad thing
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 5. Objectivism in Art
We can be objective about conventions, but love of art is needed to understand its traditions
22. Metaethics / A. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
All moral life depends ultimately on piety, which is our recognition of our own dependence
22. Metaethics / B. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Ultimate value
Beauty (unlike truth and goodness) is questionable as an ultimate value
22. Metaethics / C. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
Consequentialism emphasises value rather than obligation in morality
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 1. Contractarianism
Kant's Moral Law is the rules rational beings would accept when trying to live by agreement
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 5. Free Rider
Any social theory of morality has the problem of the 'free rider', who only pretends to join in
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
The modern virtues are courage, prudence, wisdom, temperance, justice, charity and loyalty
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
Only just people will drop their own self-interests when faced with an impartial verdict
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
Sympathy can undermine the moral order just as much as crime does
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Altruism is either emotional (where your interests are mine) or moral (where they are reasons for me)
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
Membership is the greatest source of obligation
That which can only be done by a callous person, ought not to be done
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
As soon as we drop self-interest and judge impartially, we find ourselves agreeing about conflicts
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
The categorical imperative is not just individual, but can be used for negotiations between strangers
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is wrong precisely because it can't distinguish animals from people
Utilitarianism says we can't blame Stalin yet, but such a theory is a sick joke
Morality is not a sort of calculation, it is what sets the limits to when calculation is appropriate
Utilitarianism merely guides us (by means of sympathy) when the moral law is silent
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 3. Natural Values / c. Natural rights
Allegiance is prior to the recognition of individual rights
The idea of a right seems fairly basic; justice may be the disposition to accord rights to people
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 2. State Legitimacy / c. Social contract
The benefits of social freedom outweigh the loneliness, doubt and alienation it brings
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 3. Conservatism
Allegiance is fundamental to the conservative view of society
So-called 'liberation' is the enemy of freedom, destroying the very structures that are needed
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / f. Against democracy
Democrats are committed to a belief and to its opposite, if the majority prefer the latter
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / a. Liberalism basics
Liberals focus on universal human freedom, natural rights, and tolerance [PG]
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 1. Basis of Rights
A right is a power which is enforced in the name of justice
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 2. The Law / d. Legal positivism
For positivists law is a matter of form, for naturalists it is a matter of content
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 3. Abortion
The issue of abortion seems insoluble, because there is nothing with which to compare it
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 5. Sexual Morality
Prostitution is wrong because it hardens the soul, since soul and body are one
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 6. Animal Rights
We can easily remove the risk of suffering from an animal's life, but we shouldn't do it
We favour our own animals over foreign ones because we see them as fellow citizens
Brutal animal sports are banned because they harm the personality of the watcher
Many of the stranger forms of life (e.g. worms) interest us only as a species, not as individuals
An animal has individuality if it is nameable, and advanced animals can respond to their name
I may avoid stepping on a spider or flower, but fellow-feeling makes me protect a rabbit
Many breeds of animals have needs which our own ancestors planted in them
Lucky animals are eaten by large predators, the less lucky starve, and worst is death by small predators
Sheep and cattle live comfortable lives, and die an enviably easy death
Letting your dog kill wild rats, and keeping rats for your dog to kill, are very different
Introducing a natural means of controlling animal population may not be very compassionate
Concern for one animal may harm the species, if the individual is part of a bigger problem
Animals are outside the community of rights, but we still have duties towards them
Animals command our sympathy and moral concern initially because of their intentionality
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation
'Cause' used to just mean any valid explanation
27. Natural Reality / C. Space / 4. Substantival Space
Measuring space requires no movement while I do it
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
'Existence' is not a predicate of 'man', but of the concept of man, saying it has at least one instance