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I have written a short paper on an issue that I have not come across before. In it I attempt to argue that light waves are an opaque barrier between the eye of the observer and the objective world. And, that light waves prevent direct knowledge of objects in the world. I would be grateful for criticism and responses. Bert

What kind of academic inquiry can best help humanity make progress towards as good a world as possible?  Why are philosophers apparently so uninterested in this question?  Is it because most believe the kind of academic inquiry we have today, devoted primarily to the pursuit of knoweldge and technological know-how, is the best that we can have, judged from the perspective of helping humanity make progress towards a better world?  Why are philosophers apparently so uninterested in arguments which seem to show decisively that inquiry restricted to the pursuit of knowledge is both profoundly irrational, and a menace?  The successful pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how, dissociated from a more fundamental concern to help humanity resolve conflicts and problems of living in increasingly cooperatively rational ways, is almost bound to lead to trouble.  Scientific knowledge and technological know-how enormously increase our power to act - for some of us at ... (read more)
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I am currently studying objections to modal realism for a section of something I'm writing, and am wondering if people can help me with questions about two related objections which seem important to me. My questions are: are there existing sources for these objections, and if so, what are they?

Reality as a whole could have been different

One objection I would like to find more sources for is the idea that reality as a whole (in the most unrestricted sense) could have been different. Lewis's modal realism leads to the conclusion that the whole system of worlds is the way it is necessarily, but intuitively reality as a whole could have been different, so this is a mark against the theory.

I have found one source for this objection - Williamson's 'Necessary Existents', where he says:

'Even if there are mutually disconnected spatiotemporal systems such as Lewis postulates, they are not the distinctive subject matter of modal discourse. They are simply more of what there is, about which we ... (read more)
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If you have any questions or comments on "The Zygote Argument is Invalid", I would enjoy discussing them on this thread!

I would like to know where I can find arguments in favor of the assertion: that there are no first causes, and that there are no things that do not change. Maybe some work of Dr McZed, or if you want to contribute some ideas in favour or against the mentioned assertion, it would be great.  
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I was often  thinking about the thread title question while I worked on the ontology of artworks such as a piece of drama or music. Some philosophers show a positive response to the type view of artworks according to which an artwork is a type and its performances are the tokens. (By the word of "type", here I mean an entity that can have its example(s) like universal.)

What about fictional characters then?

I, at first thought, tended to support the particular view of characters. 

Yet the type view may be a more plausible position for some reasons.
One of them can be understood easily when you look at the case that many actors have ever played the role of Hamlet in their own ways. It may be natural that their performances are considered as tokens of the Hamlet-type. 

Besides, trademark protection for fictional characters like Disney's may imply the idea that they are types.  They seem to think the characters have their tokens, and then to prevent a third party from producing some token ... (read more)
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Hi Jack,

Nice paper!. However, if I may, I wasn't convinced by your response to objection five. The objection, I take it, is that the intuitions you are marshaling about incoherence derive from a non-moral standpoint, that is, they are intuitions that arise when one is doing metaethics and not when one is actually moralizing.  And it seems undeniable that Moore paradoxical sentences are straightforwardly bizarre when uttered by persons in the context of actual moralizing (just imagine actually having the relevant conversation). At the outset of your paper, you correctly note that expressivism is a theory about actual moralizing, so it seems like this is one objection to which you should be very sensitive.  You respond:

This is not really a rejection of C3, but a rejection of C1, since it admits that it is not always the case that affective or conative attitudes are expressed by moral assertions. If non-cognitive mental states are only sometimes expressed by moral assertions, then the clai ... (read more)

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I am interested in further arguments pro  and in objections contra my distinction between world and culture.

Sincerely Erwin Sonderegger

All comments are welcome!
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Here's the place to be critical!  Anything that can help me develop this argument is much appreciated.  This is something I develop a bit in my dissertation and the hope is to develop it more here and eventually have something worthy of publication.
Latest replies:
  • Jim Stone, 2013-06-23 : Here are some comments. Thanks for t 1. It will help your reader to say early on what nonreductive physicalism is, and w... (read more)
  • John Altmann, 2013-06-24 : I just wanted to say first and foremost before I go any further that I am not a Professor of Philosophy nor have I ever... (read more)
  • Andrew Russo, 2013-06-24 : First of all, thanks for taking the time to read my paper and provide me with comments.  This is what I hoped would... (read more)
  • Andrew Russo, 2013-06-24 : Thank you for reading my paper and commenting on it.  Whatever comments you give, whether or not they are from some... (read more)
  • Jim Stone, 2013-06-24 : Thanks for answering. The dialectic between us is for me now a little complicated. I follow this protocol in commenting... (read more)
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Hi Professor Demetriou,

I've just read the draft of your paper, and I really enjoyed it, especially the bits where you complicate the somewhat simplistic just-so cultural-evolutionary story provided by Ross and Nisbett.  One rarely sees such deep engagement with actual anthropological data in moral-philosophical papers about disagreement, and I think your reflections here are a valuable contribution to this literature.

However, I have a question about the "pluralism" that is on offer, which is "a view urging the moral correctness of  multiple and mutually irreducible comprehensive ethical  outlooks , each suited to  its own dimension  of social life ."  A familiar worry emerges here, which is that you are covertly drawing on a kind of monism which serves to make each of the competing moral systems appear attractive.  The trouble begins with the word "suited": what does it mean to say that a moral outlook is "suited" t ... (read more)
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I am delighted that someone of Kitcher's ability has tackled the meta-ethical implications of understanding morality as an evolutionary adaptation. Further, Christine Clavien has advanced that good cause by providing an inspiringly insightful and clear review of important implications of his work. 

However, the science of the matter actually supports a much stronger hypothesis than Kitcher's "morality evolved to overcome altruism failures".That stronger hypothesis may have different meta-ethical implications.

Relevant criteria for scientific truth regarding morality as an evolutionary adaptation Include explanatory power for descriptive facts and puzzles, no contradiction with known facts, simplicity, and integration with the rest of science. By these criteria, a superior hypothesis can be stated as "morality overcomes a universal cooperation-exploitation dilemma by motivating or advocating altruistic cooperation strategies". That is, morality is composed of assemblies of biolog ... (read more)

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Excellent paper first and foremost Mr. MacLeod! As I was reading your thoughts on plurality and the nature of the individual conscious, it made me think of the ideal of Solipsism. For those who don't know, Solipsism is defined as: The view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist. Would you say that your case for a plurality of consciousness "immediately present." defeats the ideal of a Solipsistic Philosophy? 
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I couldn't find Tim's email so am instead posting here a link to my critical discussion of his paper (which may also be of interest to other readers):
Moral Judgments, 2Dism, and Attitudinal Commitments.


Recently I started reading Ronald Giere's Scientific perspectivism but it turned out to be a demanding task: I became bogged in Chapter 2 and havent been able to go much farther. In a philosophy book one expects down to earth examples to bring some clarity about but here, rather the obverse, they turn out to be the problem.

Chapter 2 is entirely devoted to Color vision, which is presented in the first sentence (p.17) as "the best exemplar I know for the kind of perspectivism that characterizes modern science." And on the next page (18) we are told: "The fact that hues have a circular rather than linear structure means that there is no simple linear relationship between wavelength and color".

As I get it "circular structure" means that we percieve colors in a limited range and anything beyond is black.But should we say that  a sound dissolving in low frequency rumble is at the same time an inaudible piercing screech? Our field of vision is also limited, so  it might be ... (read more)
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There is a curious statement made by Philonous to Hylas in George Berkeley's Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous in the third dialogue.

Here is what Philonous says: "The question between the materialists and me is not, whether things have a real existence out of the mind of this or that person, but whether they have an absolute existence, distinct from being perceived by God, and exterior to all minds."

I think we can modify this quote a little to say: The question between a materialist and an idealist is not, whether things have a real existence out of the mind of this or that human being, but whether have an existence outside of a mind.

The quote itself grants that there is a world exterior to the human mind that is either perceiving it, and this over looks the problem of an external world. However, why do we hold that there is a world that exists independent of a nonhuman mind?

Why should we believe that there is a world that exists independent of a mind instead of the world t ... (read more)
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I have not yet read the full version of Joseph's book, but I can tell this ties directly into my own theoretical perspectives involving assessment, learning, behavior, and consciousness. To me, as laid out in my Education PhD dissertation at Colorado State University (2005), the core essence of being (reality) is individual and collective consciousness interacting and interconnecting with consciousness at every level of existence (seen and unseen) as an ongoing here and now creative process." Thus, primary learning is intuitive and secondary learning is rational-objective.

Rational objective, is by my definition, fixtional thinking that allows one to "fix" or position relations "as if" they were separate and disconnected in a cause and effect relationship and in which they must of necessity substantiate existence "as if" it were true. It entails a sort of machine mentality of parts, in which the parts equals the whole and the whole is what the parts c ... (read more)

We have many framing devices in the arts, and one thing that is consistent in their use is a metacognitive process which they seem to stimulate. We see the contents of a picture, and while we are occupied with processing these details we might come across another picture inside it, or we might see an artist painting a picture (as we do in Velazquez's Las Meninas); or there might be a mirror in the depicted space, all of these framing devices allow us to step out of our current thought process, and become aware of it, or self aware of our viewing. How fair is it to say that visual experience can be ordered in the form of HOTs as framing devices in the visual field, or that HOTs can be visualised in this way? 
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In "On Denoting" (1905), Russell presents a theory of denotation which relies on the notion of a variable.  Russell says very little about variables in this paper.  He says only that they are "fundamental," and that they are "essentially and wholly undetermined" constituents of propositional functions.  I think I understand the role of this notion in Russell's theory, and why Russell says what he does about it,  He appeals to non-denoting elements in propositions in order to avoid having to interpret "a=b" as "a=a."  By using variables, he can claim that no elements in a propositional function serve the role of the denoting phrase.  For example, in the fully explicit presentation of "Scott is the author of Waverley," we do not find anything for which we could substitute the phrase "the author of Waverley."  The meaning of the denoting phrase is only found when we interpret the proposition as a whole, and cannot be found in any of its parts. 

My problem is, I don't know what it means to say ... (read more)
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