This is the home page of J.R. Lucas, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford.
- My letterhead is:
Mr J.R. Lucas,
Somerset, TA13 5HW England
- Telephone 01 460 240413
- Fax (use voice first, and ask for fax)
- Station Crewkerne
- OS grid reference ST 433188
- E-Mail john.lucas `at' merton.ox.ac.uk (I have deleted the simple mailto command, because spamsters are now searching the internet for the `at' sign, and thus obtaining further addresses for their objectionable messages.)
wprowadzenie w.j. polskim-kliknij TUTAJ
Questa pagina in lingua italiana contiene una breve presentazione degli altri contenuti del sito wuesto
My granddaughter, Antonia is my social secretary; Her E-mail address is:
but do not bother her needlessly, as she has exams.
Corrections NeededNegative feedback welcomed. It is only by knowing where I am wrong, that I can put things right. Positive feedback not sought. I think well of my efforts without benefit of friendly appreciation or favourable comment.
Corrections NotedSeptember 22nd, 2008. I have just spotted some bad typos (omitted negation symbols) in ch.2 of Reason and Reality p.32. If you have downloaded this chapter, please do so again from the corrected version.
October 2nd, 2008. I was dismayed to find yesterday that although I had entered many corrections to ch.2, my computer had managed to replace the corrected files with uncorrected ones. I think the current text is correct. But if you spot any errors, please E-mail me.
Old NewsSeptember 16th, 2006
I have put chapters of my book, Reason and Reality, on the web, as a series of pdf files. My reasons are partly prudential, partly ideological. Publishing hardback in the traditional manner is slow and tedious, and offers no opportunity of rectifying errors (and I make many typos, as well as more serious mistakes) until the print run is sold out. Plato said that books were a poor substitute for dialogue, and the internet allows for intellectual interchange in a way that was impossible with the old technology. And finally, hardback books are too expensive for most people to buy. I have always warmed to Hillaire Belloc's lines
When I am gone, let only this be said:
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read
I, too, would rather be read than be rich. You are welcome to download and print for your own use what I have put on the web, as outlined in my copyright notice below. It seems that enough people would want hardcopies to interest a publisher, namely Ria University Press. The hardback edition (ISBN 13: 978-1-934297-04-9) and the paperback edition (ISBN-10: 1934297046) have now been published in the USA at $44.44, and can be ordered through Amazon.com and bn.com and should be available from all Expresso Book Machines world wide. Blackwell's have an Expresso Book Machine in their Charing Cross Road branch, 100 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0JG.
Corrigendum p.270, l.21 should read ``The dual parentage of space endows it with different ambitions.''
If you cannot get a printed copy, then it is still available on the web: to read particular chapters, use this link to take you to the table of contents; and then to view a particular chapter, click on the chapter number. Or go to section VI below. I recommend 100% or 125% magnification. I haven't yet learnt how to do an index in TEX or pdf. In some chapters my computer complains she cannot find the right font, and suggests using Helvetica instead. If I click OK, she seems to be happy to go on.
Less Old News
I am having to put Old England up for sale, as I am too decrepit to drive it any more. Its Autobiography is at the end of the Less Academic section.
Each week on Sunday morning I receive an E-mail telling me what hits I have had during the previous week; which may make me suffer from the sin of pride, or, more usually, from depression, before I go to our village church. Recently there has been a sudden jump in the hits for my ``Tables''---79 last week. When I looked at it myself, I found that it was not one I had written against the Norrington Tables for Oxford in 1980, but a subsequent follow up article in the Oxford Magazine. I think the earlier one was better, and have now included Norrington Blues
I have now managed to convert TEX files including diagrams into PDF ones that can be read by Adobe Acrobat. I am producing replacement chapters for those in my The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics containing typographical errors. For details see
Corrigenda to The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics,
On November 6th, 2003, I stood in for Bishop Wilberforce at the British Academy, at 5.15pm, saying what he might have said now, with the benefit of 143 years hindsight, to a neo-Huxley (represented by Professor Janet Browne).
I have put a summary of the case for Bishop Wilberforce on the web, together with a semi-transcript of Professor Browne's and my contributions
An Engagement with Plato's Republic, by Basil Mitchell and me, has been published by Ashgate.
It is not a standard commentary. Rather, it is a deliberately anachronistic attempt to make Plato accessible to the modern reader, and to engage him in dialogue with modern problems. Publisher's Blurb It was published on September 5th. It should have come out much earlier, but most unfortunately there was a muddle over the book-jacket, which was to be an adaptation of Raphael's School of Athens showing Plato talking with his pupils, some of them altered to be in modern dress and using a word-processor. Owing to a breakdown in communication an uncorrected proof was used, with Plato more or less eclipsed by `Basil Mitchell' and `J.R. Lucas'. This was not the message we wish to convey. A new book-jacket has been printed, both for the hard-back and for the paper-back editions. If you buy the paper-back, make sure you have the correct outside, with us deferentially down in the right hand corner, taking our place among Plato's pupils, not lording it over them. To encourage you to read further, I have made available on this site as pdf files: the contents, introduction, envoi and an analysis of the text , together with chapters 1, 3 and our most provocative chapter, 10, Sex, Self and Power
(They can be read by Adobe Acrobat---I recommend 150% magnification).The book can be ordered from Ashgate:
Bookpoint Ltd, 130 Milton Park, Abingdon, Berks, OX 14 4SB, UK
Tel. +44 (0) 1 235 827730
Fax +44 (0) 1 235 400454
Ashgate Publishing, 2252 Ridge Road, Brookfield, VT, 05036-9404, USA,
Tel. (+1) 802 276-3162
Fax (+1) 802 276-3837
Ashgate Publishing, 240 MacPherson Road, #08-01 Pines Industrial Building, Singapore 348574
Tel. (+65) 7415166
Fax (+65) 7429356
Ashgate Publishing, 3/303 Barrenjoey Road, Newport NSW 2107, Australia
Tel. +61 (0)2 9999 2777
Fax +61 (0)2 9999 3688
Hardback (ISBN 0 7546 3365 9) œ40.00 Paperback (ISBN 0 7546 3366 7) œ15.99 (Postage œ3.50)
When ordering make sure to ask for the revised book-jacket.
CopyrightI am in accord with Creative Commons licences, and articulate the following specific rules for my work. Except for the Darwin lecture on Time and Religion, you are welcome to download a single copy of anything on this site for your own personal use, and to make further copies for teaching purposes that are not profit-making. If you want to include an article of mine in an anthology, you should ask my permission, which will be granted on the following terms:
- . TWO copies to be given me (one for me, one for Merton Library).
- . A royalty on each copy sold, calculated thus:
(recommended retail price divided by 10) times (number of pages of my contribution divided by total number of pages).
[For short runs---under 1,000---I am prepared to waive the payment as being negligible. But a few of my articles have been much reprinted, and I think it is only fair that I should have some share in the proceeds.]
One hundred and ninety nine entries at present:
I Gödelian Papers
- . ``Minds, Machines and Gödel''
- . ``Satan Stultified: A Rejoinder To Paul Benacerraf''
- ``Human and Machine Logic: a Rejoinder'', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 19, 1968, pp.155-156.
- ``Lucas Against Mechanism: A Rejoinder'', Philosophy, pp.149-151.
- ``This Gödel is Killing Me: a Rejoinder'', Philosophia, 6, no.1, March 1976, pp.145-148.
- Review of Judson Webb, Mechanism, Mentalism and Metamathematics, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 33, 1982, pp.441-444.
- . Criticisms and discussions of the Gödelian argument, based on a list which I distributed at the Turing Conference in Brighton some years ago, with some further additions. In the Proceedings, Machines and Thought, ed. Peter Millican and Andy Clark, Oxford, 1996, Robin Gandy gives a much earlier reference: Emil L. Post, `Absolutely Unsolvable Problems and Relatively Undecidable Propositions---Account of an Anticipation', in Martin Davis, (ed.), The Undecidable (New York: Raven Press, 1965), pp.340-435, esp. pp.417-24. Chalmers gives a more up-to-date list in his bibliography---which used to be http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~philos/papers/chalmers.biblio.4.html but has now moved to Arizona: click here for pursuing his references I am grateful to various correspondents who have helped me to up-date the list given here, and welcome further items.
- ````Minds, Machines and Gödel: A Retrospect'', in P.J.R.Millican and A.Clark, eds., Machines and Thought: The Legacy of Alan Turing, Oxford, 1996, pp.103-124.
- . the text of Turn Over the Page a talk I gave on 25/5/96 at a BSPS conference in Oxford
- . the text of A (n Over) Simplified Exposition of Gödel's Theorem a talk I gave on 14/10/97 in King's College, London
- . The Implications of Gödel's Theorem the text of a talk I gave in Manchester in November 1996
- . The Implications of Gödel's Theorem the text of a talk I gave to the Sigma Club in London on February 26, 1998
- . A handout for the talk on Implications of Gödel's Theorem that I gave to the Sigma Club in London on February 26, 1998
- ``Commentary on Turing's ``Computing Machinery and Intelligence'', Forthcoming in The Turing Test Sourcebook to be published by Kluwer in 2005.
- ``A response to a paper by Professor Feferman, forthcoming in a volume edited by Richard Swinburne.
- An E-mail from Dr Jeffrey Ketland
- An E-mail from Mr Michael Harris
Note: Most critics concentrate their fire on ``Minds, Machines and Gödel'', without looking at the fuller statement in The Freedom of the Will, which includes the rebuttals first published in ``Satan Stultified''. In recent years it has been out of print. But under a new intitative by OUP, it is now available again. Single copies are printed on a one-off basis. I commend it to those who think there are holes in my original ``Minds, Machines and Gödel''
A full discussion of the issues raised is now available Etica e Politica, 2003.
A helpful discussion by P.Madden, aimed at an undergraduate readership at Warwick University, with recommendations for further reading, was available The Lucas Debate and Related Issues, but I have not been able track it on the new web-site of Wsarwick University. If you succeed, let me know.
- . a bibliography of my published academic work
- . ``Reality and Time: Reply to Contributors'', in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 11, Number 1, March 1997
- . ``The Lesbian Rule'', first published in, Philosophy, 1955, XXX, no. 114, July, 1955, pp.195-213
- ``Not `therefore' but `but',
Philosophical Quarterly, 16, no. 65, October, 1966.
- ``True'', Philosophy, XLIV, no.169, July 1969, pp.175-186.
- . ``Ethical Intuitionism II'', Philosophy, XLVI, No.175, January 1971, pp.1-11.
- . Butler's Philosophy of Religion Vindicated, Durham, 1978.
- . ``Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter'', The Historical Journal, 22, 2 (1979), pp. 313-330
- ``The Nature of Law'', Philosophica, 23, 1979 (i), pp.37-50.
- The Restoration of Man: A Lecture given in Durham on Thursday October 22nd, 1992, to mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man
- ``A View of One's Own'', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 349, 1994.
- ``Reflections on the Atonement'': ch.12 in A.G.Padgett, ed., Reason and the Christian Religion, Oxford, 1994, pp. 265-276.
- ``A Mind of One's Own'', Philosophy, 68, 1993, pp.457-471.
- ``The Lay-out of Arguments'', in W.Krawietz, N.MacCormick, G.H.von Wright, eds., Prescriptive Formality and Normative Rationality in Modern Legal Systems, Berlin, 1994, 285-295
- ``On the Nature of Things'', Presidential Address to British Society for the Philosophy of Science, 1993
- ``The Unity of Science without Reductionism'', Acta Analytica, 15, 1996, pp.89-95.
- . Intimations of Reality the text of a talk I gave in Cambridge in June 1997
- . Transcendental Tense II A draft of my reply to Professor Mellor's Transcendental Tense I at the joint meeting of the Aristotelian Society in July 1998.
- . Polychromatic Derivation of the Lorentz Transformations A revison of old lecture notes, which I think might be useful for others giving lectures on the philosophy of physics.
- . An extract of the letters from Polychromatic Derivation of the Lorentz Transformations, which might be suitable for making transparencies
- . An extract of Derivation of the Lorentz Transformations, which might be suitable for making transparencies
- . A version the Lorentz Transformations, which might be suitable for making transparencies
- . The Ontological Argument a talk given at Centre for Philosophical Studies at King's College, London, on March 4th, 1998
- . Handout for a talk given at Centre for Philosophical Studies at King's College, London, on March 4th, 1998
- . Charles Dodgson a talk given at St Mary's, Guildford, on May 17th, 1998
- . A Century of Time A contribution to the British Academy's Centennial volume, The Arguments of Time, ed. Jeremy Butterfield, Oxford, 1999.
- . The Philosophical Background to Eucharistic Theology ch.1 of Thinking about the Eucharist, London, 1972
- . `` The Soul'' ch.5 of Faith and Logic, ed. B. G. Mitchell , Allen and Unwin, London, 1957, pp.132-148., London, 1972
- . `` ``Historian Malgré Moi'''' ch.10 in L.Pompa and W.H.Dray, Substance and Form in History, Edinburgh, 1981, pp.133-144.
- . `` Against Equality''
- . `` Equality in Education''
- . `` Against Equality Again''
- . `` Because You are a Woman''
- . `` Vive la Différence''
- . `` The Alternative Sex''
- ``Plato's Philosophy of Sex'', in E.M.Craik, ed., Owls to Athens, Oxford, 1990, pp. 223-231.
- . `` The Philosophy of the Reasonable Man''
- ``Philosophy and Philosophy Of'', Proceedings of the British Academy, 1986, pp.248-267.
- ``The Responsibilities of a Businessman'', , in Business Ethics, ed. C.Cowton and R. Crisp, Oxford, 1998, pp.59-77.
- . `` Time and Religion'', a lecture delivered in Darwin College, Cambridge, in March, 2000, and published by Cambridge University Press, in Time, ed. K.Ridderbos, 2002
- . `` ACE: Assess Cost of Error'' published in The Risk of Freedom Briefing, Issue no.5 October 2000
- . `` Towards a Theory of Taxation '' published in Social Philosophy and Policy, Volume 2 Issue 1, Autumn 1984, pp.161-173.
- ``The Language of Liberty'' , in Maurice Cranston and Peter Mair, eds., Language and Politics, Brussels, 1982, ISBN 2-8027/0294/7 Bruylant, D/1982/0023/7, pp.199-212.
- `` ``The Worm and the Juggernaut: Justice and the Public Interest'', '' Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 6, no.2, pp.51-59.
- . ``Moralists and Gamesmen'', Philosophy, XXXIV, No.128, January, 1959, pp.1-11.
- . ``On Not Worshipping Facts published in The Philosophical Quarterly, 8, 1958, pp.144-156.
- ``Euclides Omni Naevo Vindicatus'', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, XX, 1969, pp.1-11.
- ``From Euler to Euclid'', The Way the Academy's Research Programme should have gone.
- ``The Phenomenon of Law'', ch.4, in P.M.S.Hacker and J.Raz, eds., Law, Morality and Society, Oxford, 1977, pp.85-98.
- . `` The Concept of Justice'' A paper was read to the Societas Ethica at Noordwijk aan Zee, Holland, in 1977, and subsequently published in their Proceedings. It was my first exposition of the ideas I subseqently developed in my book On Justice
- ``Reason Restored'', ch.5 in W.J.Abraham and S.W.Holtzer, The Rationality of Religious Belief: Essays in Honour of Basil Mitchell , Oxford, 1987, pp.71-84.
- ``Methodological Individualism'', A section I had written for my Principles of Politics, but decided not to use. I recently dug it out for an American friend. I publish it here, in case it is of use to anyone else.
- The University Sermon on the Sin of Pride, Preached in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, at 10.15am on Sunday 26 November 1978.,
- Jesus Barabbas: The Question Pilate Actually Asked
- A shorter version of the above ``Jesus Barabbas: The Question Pilate Actually Asked'' omitting Greek text and some argument.
- ``A Plea for the Moral Sciences'' A piece which I found myself writing recently (when I should have been doing something else), and which I might work up for publication at a later date, but meanwhile expose to your comments and criticism.
- ``Time and Reality'' A Talk given to the PPE Society in Oxford on February 11th, 2009
- ``From Euler to Euclid'' An Exercise in Counter-factual History I found myself forced to write in early 2010.
- ``Questions Asked'', (Chapter 1 of An Engagement with Plato's Republic, Ashgate, 2003, is a pdf file, and can be read by Adobe Acrobat (I recommend 150% magnification).
- ``The Return of the Self'', (Chapter 3 of An Engagement with Plato's Republic, Ashgate, 2003, is a pdf file, and can be read by Adobe Acrobat (I recommend 150% magnification).
- ``Sex, Self and Power'', (Chapter 10 of An Engagement with Plato's Republic, Ashgate, 2003, is a pdf file, and can be read by Adobe Acrobat (I recommend 150% magnification).
- ``Schematic Analysis of the Republic'', (An Appendix to An Engagement with Plato's Republic, Ashgate, 2003, may be of use to those set to read the Republic during the summer. It is a pdf file, and can be read by Adobe Acrobat.
- How a tutorial with a pupil, F.P.E. Marsland, led to my writing the following:
- ISONOMIA.pdf (It is a pdf file, which can be read by an Acrobat Reader. I recommend 150% magnification).
- Corrigenda to The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics,
- A Polychromatic Proof of Desargues' Theorem---An Appendix to Chapter 2 of The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics, This is not in the least original, but it might be of use to someone needing to teach it: the use of different colours makes it easier to visualise the different planes involved.
- A Polychromatic Discussion of Desargues' Theorem in 2-dimensional Projective Geometry---A Second Appendix to Chapter 2 of The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics,
- Waismann at Oxford''. A talk delivered at the Waisman Conference in Vienna, on October 2nd, 2010; printed in the Oxford Magazine, No.395, Fifth Week, Michaelmas Term, 2010, pp.20-21.
- A draft paper I wrote in the 1970s as possible contribution to the Festscrift for H.L.A.Hart, now published at the request of a correspondent.
- A synopsis of the arguments against there being any place for moral arguments in economics, and the counters to them.
- How BP (British Petroleum) is pushing the world towards nuclear war.
- A brief response to a discussion on Free Will on the radio.
- A paper from Theology, 1975, on the marriage bond, which I was recently asked for.
- A paper I had attached as an appendix to Economics as a Moral Science, but better separate.
- A draft paper looking at the gospels with a critical eye, but disagreeing with much of NT scholarship. Criticism welcome. (It well may be that I have overlooked some cogent argument put forward by an NT expert.)
- A draft paper looking at the gospels with a critical eye, but disagreeing with much of NT scholarship. Criticism welcome. (It well may be that I have overlooked some cogent argument put forward by an NT expert.)
- A translation of the Lord's Prayer, trying to express what the words Jesus used actually mean. Negative criticisms and positive improvements welcome.
- A translation of the Lord's Prayer, as a schoolboy might say it. Negative criticisms and positive improvements welcome.
- Satan, Beelzebub and Mammon. Did Jesus believe in a personal Devil?
- Sin? Darwin in the Garden of Eden
- In Defence of Pontius Pilate A talk given in South Petherton on April 14, 2014.
- In Defence of Pontius Pilate A talk given in South Petherton on April 14, 2014. This is a pdf file, and can be read by Adobe Acrobat.
- A draft paper looking at the words used in the Eucharist as the earliest Christian text. Criticism welcome.
- A draft paper stimulated by an article "Open Theism" in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/o-theism/), to which my attention was drawn by Charles Tandy, Ph.D.(www.DoctorTandy.com); it is open to criticism now. I may publish a possibly different version of it in October.
- A talk I gave at Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial St, London E1 6LS as a contribution to a debate on Inequality on December 4th, 2014
- A letter sent to the Daily Telegraph. It was published on Tuesday, December 16th, except for the final sentence.
- Letter to Alice Portal, a great-neice of my wife, who is wondering what courses to take at an Italian University. In due course I shall construct a pdf file, with proper symbols. Meanwhile I should be grateful for criticisms of my failure to make the sense clear, using only plain text.
- My answers on being asked why time seems to go faster as we get older
- My attempt to provide a satisfactory foundation for topology. Please be critical, and let me know if you find flaws in it.
III Less Academic
Nos. 1, 2, 3 are to do with the Franks Commission; they have become relevant again, as Oxford is now having another commission, the North Commission.
- . The evidence I submitted to the Franks Commission in 1964.
- . My viva on the evidence I submitted to the Franks Commission in 1964.
- . An article I wrote for Oxford on the Franks Commission.
- . The evidence I submitted to the Royal Commission on Reform of the House of Lords in March 1999.
- . A summary of the evidence I submitted to the Royal Commission on Reform of the House of Lords which I delivered at a public hearing in Exeter on May 26th, 1999.
- . An exchange with Professor Vicki Bruce on whether the British Academy should proclaim itself as a Learned Society.
- . The Autobiography of PH8691 (Old England).
IV Mostly articles I have contributed to the Oxford Magazine, which people have asked to have available.
- . An Academy for Non-academics
- . Exploiting the Young
- . Norrington Blues
- . A Plea for Incompetence
- . The M.A.
- . "The Polity of Academe"---A Reply to Dean Roscow
- . ``Statement V'', in The Oxford Magazine,
Eighth Week, Trinity Term, 1992, pp.5-6.
- . Size and Shapelessness
- . SXOLH
- . Tables
- . Too Much Teaching
- . Recovering the Vacs
- . Access
- . Strategy for Survival
- . Jowett v. Pattison
- . Judge Not . . . .
- . Endowment and Morality
- . Olympian Alliances
- . ``A Don's Defence'', in Oxford, November 1999.
- . ``An Earlier Year'', in The Oxford Magazine, Noughth Week, Michaelmas Term, 1996, p.4.
- . ``Dead Wood'', in The Oxford Magazine, Fourth Week, Michaelmas Term, 1995, p.5.
- . ``In Defence of Teaching'', in The Oxford Magazine, Trinity Term, 1996, p.5.
- . ``Publish and Perish'', in The Oxford Magazine, Eighth Week, Hilary Term, 1996, p.11.
- . ``Relocation'', in The Oxford Magazine, Eighth Week, Trinity Term, 1996, pp.5-6.
- . ``Gownlessness'', in Oxford , 1986.
- . ``Theses'', in The Oxford Magazine, 1990.
- . ``. . . et dona ferentes'', A Critical Review of The Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, in The Oxford Magazine, 1994.
- . ``Not a Green Light'', in The Oxford Magazine, Hilary Term, 2005.
- . ``My Harem'', in The Oxford Magazine, Trinity Term, 2007.
- . ``Flagships'', in The Oxford Magazine, Michaelmas Term, 2007.
- . ``Confessions of a Hexist'', in The Oxford Magazine, Michaelmas Term, 2007.
- . ``Haecceity in my Harem'', in The Oxford Magazine, Trinity Term, 2008.
- . ``The Open Society and '', in The Oxford Magazine, Trinity Term, 2008.
- . ``If I were very Rich'', in The Oxford Magazine, Trinity Term, 2008.
- . A Letter to Mr Hayes about the Proposal to move the South Petherton Surgery .
- . ``Metricated Charity'', in The Oxford Magazine, Eighth Week, Hilary Term, 2009.
- . Confessions of an Inadequate Examiner, in The Oxford Magazine, Eighth Week, Hilary Term, 2011.
- . If I were very Rich: II, in The Oxford Magazine, Noughth Week, Trinity Term, 2011.
- . ``Tolerance'', reprinted on the web by Free Faith: Tolerance for People of Faith.
- . ``Tolerance'', in Estonian in Postimees
If there is some other article of mine you would like to have available on this site, send me an E-mail at the address given above.
- The Black Cap based on an incident, which I believe took place some forty years ago
- Overheard in the Dementia Ward
A Memoir of Professor R.M. Hare, FBA, published in The Balliol College Annual Record 2002, pp.30-32.
A Memoir of T.F.G.R. Braun, Fellow of Merton
An Address Delivered in Merton Chapel on January 31st, 2009 at the Memorial Service for T.F.G.R. Braun
A Memoir of Basil Mitchell
Memoral Service for Basil Mitchell
VII Reason and Reality
- . Title Page
- . Contents
- . Chapter 1 Falliblity and Reality
- . Chapter 2 The Development of Normative Reason
- . Chapter 3 A Critique of Critical Reasoning
- . Chapter 4 Cause and Explanation
- . Chapter 5 Projection and Probability
- . Chapter 6 The Tree in the Lonely Quad
- . Chapter 7 Existence and Universals
- . Chapter 8 Appearance and Unreality
- . Chapter 9 The Search for the Ultimate
- . Chapter 10 Points of View
- . Chapter 11 Quantum Mechanics
- . Chapter 12 Time
- . Chapter 13 Reductionism
- . Chapter 14 Persons
- . Chapter 15 Inconclusions
At the end of each chapter there are places to click on which will take you to the next chapter, to the contents, or to this (the Home) page. In the Contents clicking on a chapter number will take you to that chapter.
VIII Ethical EconomicsCan a businessman be moral? What are the values implicit in a business deal? Is there such a thing as economic justice?
Ethical Economics, by M.R. Griffiths and J.R. Lucas was published on January 8th, 1997, by Macmillans.
It examines the fundamental principles of economic activity in order to enable people to answer these questions, and think through the problems they face, and to reach their own decisions. It argues that business relations are sustainable only against a background of the parties having some values in common, and in consequence there is a point of entry for ethical considerations in economics: but there are significant divergences of interest between the parties to a business transaction, and therefore the morality of business life is less personal and more external than it is in families and close-knit communities.
It was reviewed by Samuel Brittain in The Financial Times, June 5th, 1997.
By February, 2007, it was almost unavailable, though Amazon can sell copies at $95 plus $9.95 packing and posting. By the end of 2008 it had earned a place in my ``I Told You So'' column. I hope to have made most of it available by clicking on on the link: Ethical Economics,
IX Economics as a Moral Science
I have been trying to understand economics. I have struggled with Keynes General Theory and his Money, and found his criticisms of the then orthodoxy persuasive, but his own arguments full of holes: `employment'' sometimes meant employment of resources generally, sometimes of human beings only; `demand' seemed to be a quantity that could be simply summed into an overall total. The monetarist criticisms of Keyneseanism seemed telling, but the monetarists' own prescriptions depended on money's being a definite quantity that could be reliably measured, which was evidently not the case. I found myself much closer to Hayek, but took issue with him on two counts. He underestimated the likelihood and danger of market failure. Although markets allow a great deal of self-organization to occur, and can register information from distant and diverse sources, it encourages, as Keynes noted, lemming-like behaviour, which can lead to disastrous outcomes. Markets are an invaluable corrective to state control, but need themselves to be regulated on occasion.
Hayek also has too rigid a concept of law and the rule of law. He recognises the need for some curb on individual activities, to restrain violence and to enforce contracts, but does not give weight to the social and moral context in which law operates. Law is one, but not the only, constraint on individual action. Social and moral norms are also important. Law by itself is not enough---it would not do its job if judges and juries were not honest, and striving to do their duty to seek justice and to reach true verdicts. Social and moral norms operate over a much wider area than the law, and are pervasive influences on economic conduct. Often it is only when these fail, that the law steps in. The successive increases of legal controls on economic activity---laws about weights and measure, take-over codes, cooling-off periods and insider trading----each represented further legal enforcement of what was already recognised as good practice. Moreover, once we recognise the importance and influence of social and moral norms, we can, unlike Hayek, feel comfortable with people having discretion. Hayek fear that officials will use discretion to tyrannize the citizen. This can happen, but need not. If citizens and officials alike are guided by ocial and moral norms as well as legal precepts, officials will use their discretion responsibly, and citizens will not always seek their own interest to the utmost extent the law allows. Keynes was right to insit that economics is a moral science. To understand it properly, we need to see it in its context. This means adopting a radically different viewpoint from that taken up by most economists. It is this difference of perspective, rather than any particular conclusions, that I want to share with my readers. If we see monetary transactions as a particular sort of social cooperation, we can compare and contrast economic activity with other social activities, and see why maximising is an irrational policy. If we see money as encapsulated choice, the logic of choice shows both the difference between choices still open and choices already made, which, together with the fact that if we have choices we can choose to defer them, that is we can choose to chose at a later time, reveals that the key concept in economics is liquidity. Liquidity, not quantity of money, explains the occurrence of booms and slumps, and explains why government intervention usually makes things worse. Further analysis of the present situation suggests that holding down interest rates is a mistake, and that quantitative easing cannot be a cure. Continual inflation is as great an evil as deflation, if not a greater one. It promotes industrial strife, makes long-term planing ineffective, and turns the provision of pensions into a political issue that sets one generation against another. We also see that growth and full employment are separate issues. We can aim to provide, at a cost, meaningful employment for all willing workers, but cannot do so by seeking ever greater growth. Growth should not be the Holy Grail of macro-economic policy. Macro-economic policy can occasionally help, and often damage, micro-economic activity, and economists need to remember that it is micro-economic activity, with all its peculiarities that drives the economy as a whole. In that context growth is sometimes a good thing, but not always. It is good for children to grow, but in later life to have a growth is very bad news.
I am putting my thoughts, as I draft them, on the web. The key sections are in Chapter 3, Section 3.2, The Logic of Choice, in which I go ino Modal Logic in orde to articulate exaclu how money functions as encpsulated choice, and Chapter 4, Section 4.6 (Liquidity). Critics should direct their fire at these two sections. The first three chapters set economics and the concept of money in the right context.
Chapter One: Economics as a Moral Science argues that economics should be seen as a moral science (in the Cambridge sense), not as an autonomous discipline.
Chapter Two: Cooperation applies the theory of games to prove that Rational Expectation Theory is irrational, and that rationality requires us to take into account other persons' points of views.
Chapter Three: Money argues that the function of money is to enable cooperation to take place when the cooperators'' surplus is unevenly distributed; money is encapsulated choice, and has in consequence a complicated modal logic.
The next three chapters are more controversial. Much of traditional economics has been based on premises that are not true.
Chapter Four: The Moneyed Society reflects on the fact that in a modern society money is deposited in a bank rather than kept under a mattress. The quantity of money available is therefore extensible in many different ways, Liquidity becomes the key concept. But the large range of macro-economics notwithstanding, it is micro-economics that wears the trousers.
Chapter Five: Boom and Bust considers the business cycle, which is exacerbated by the positive feedback inherent in the concept of money. Standard Keynesean remedies are not likely to work, and often the watchword for government, as for doctors, is noli nocere, do no harm..do no harm. The current remedies of continual inflation and low interest rates are perverse.
Chapter Six: Employment argues that full employment is not an economic desideratum, but may be a social and political one. The best balance between economic activity and other forms of social and individual activity is a social choice, which is open to wide-ranging social debate.
Chapter Seven: Law, Legislation and Taxation argues that in democracies, as in other regimes, the government does not have an unfetterd right to enact whatever laws it likes, but is limited by some fundamental constitutional principles arising from the nature of civil society. Taxation likewise should be subject to considerations of fiscal, or contributive, justice, which need to be, and so far have not, been discussed publicly.
Themes and Conclusions with two final sections: ``What Should We Do?'' and ``What Can I Do?''
There is an appendix:
The Snob Theory of Financial Rectitude which explains the present crisis as an after effect of the Big Bang.
A continuous text of Economics as a Moral Science is available here
April 4th, 2011 I have put on the web ``Against'' a three-page synopsis of the arguments against there being any place for moral arguments in economics, and the counters to them.
If you think I am wrong, please tell me.
April 20th, 2013 I have put on the web ``Austerity--my Foot'' a tirade against the present view that most people in Great Britain are badly off.
X The Conceptual Foundations of Mathematics, Revised
The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics was published by Routledge on Friday, October 15th, 1999.
It is dedicated to
all my colleagues
I have had many colleagues, and have been greatly helped by them, some of them unknown to me. I dedicated an earlier work, Space, Time and Causality to Eric James and all my teachers, and wrote to those I could and told them so. I dedicated Responsibility to all my pupils, and put their names on the book-jacket. I have listed in colour the names of those in Merton with whom I have shared pupils, those I have given lectures and seminars with, and those with whom I have worked on other projects in Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds, Edinburgh, the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, and elsewhere. But there are many others whose names could well appear here, to whom also the book is dedicated with grateful thanks.
Corrigenda to The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics, There were an embarrassing number of typos in the published edition. These are listed in Corrigenda to The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics, together with pdf files of the corrected chapters. But I have been worrying away at some of the loose ends I had not tied up properly, and have now written three chapters that are markedly different from the published version.
I need to give a better account of infinity, and re-do the final chapters, but I have other pressing concerns, so publish these chapters on their own.
I am grateful to someone from Greece who telephoned me on the morning of January 20th, 2005, to tell me of another misprint in The Conceptual Roots of Mathematics. He gave me his E-mail address, but it bounced, as his to me had earlier. Will he please accept this as my thanks for his correction, and my apology for not having got back to him within half an hour, as I said I would. If he writes to me by snail-mail, I shall gratefully and apologetically respond.
I had an E-mail from a schoolgirl in Australia, asking for details about myself. An abridged version of her letter and my response gives some information about me. More recently I had another one from California, which I give in me2.
More recently still, my son found an entry in an on-line encyclopaedia: me3
This page was devised on May 31st, 1996, and most recently revised on January 25th, 2016