Conceivability and Possibility by Tamar Szabo Gendler, John Hawthorne

By Tamar Szabo Gendler, John Hawthorne

The means to symbolize issues to ourselves as attainable performs a vital function either in daily pondering and in philosophical reasoning; this quantity deals much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, probability, and the family among them.

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Moreover, differences between the objects of capacities ground the distinctions between capacities. Obviously, then, the vegetative, sensory, and rational capacities all have different proper objects. The vegetative capacities have as their proper object the body that exercises those capacities. ities for nutrition and growth are directed only toward that skunk's body, not toward the neighboring squirrel. " They act on and are directed only toward the substance that possesses them. In contrast, sensory capacities are directed toward anything that can be sensed-namely, physical objects in general.

Our rational capacities (which, ag3;in, involve both our intellective and our volitional capacities) have as their proper object being itself-and so they are properly aimed at God. Directing our intellects and wills toward other things, such as memorizing the periodic table, is certainly possible, but our rational capacities will be completely and perfectly actualized only when they are directed at their proper object. It is certainly appropriate for us to use our intellective and volitional capacities to acquire a better understanding of Einstein's theory of relativity, but 60 Aquinas's Ethics knowledge of that theory alone cannot perfectly actualize our rational capacities.

If David lacks locomotive powers he falls short of genuine human flourishing, but this defect does not make him morally blameworthy any 66 Aquinas's Ethics i Ii! ' ~ more than a blunt knife's failing to cut well makes that knife morally blameworthy. If David fails to exercise his capacities for moral actions in the right. way, on the other hand- if he ignores the stop sign in from of him and runs into another car, for instance-then he is blameworthy. Simply put, we need to actualize all of our capacities to reach our ultimate end, but the question of moral responsibility only enters the picture in the cases that involve actualizing the capacities we have control over, most particularly, intellect and wilL Intellect and will, as we saw, direct and command the other capacities; human beings generally can control how and even whether to actualize many of their capacities.

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