If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists. We examined three types of courteous and discourteous behavior at American Philosophical Association conferences: talking audibly while the speaker is talking (versus remaining silent), allowing the door to slam shut while entering or exiting mid-session (versus attempting to close the door quietly), and leaving behind clutter at the end of a session (versus leaving one's seat tidy). (...) By these three measures, audiences in ethics sessions did not appear to behave any more courteously than did audiences in non-ethics sessions. However, audiences in environmental ethics sessions did appear to leave behind less trash. (shrink)
Rolls defines emotion as innate reward and punishment. This could not explain our results showing that people learn faster in a negative mood. We argue that what people know about their world affects their emotional state. Negative emotion signals a failure to predict negative reward and hence prompts learning to resolve the ignorance. Thus what you don't know affects how you feel.
This is a book about the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859-1941) which shows how relevant Bergson is to much contemporary philosophy. The book takes as its point of departure Bergson's insistence on precision in philosophy. It then discusses a variety of topics including laughter, the nature of time as experienced, how intelligence and language should be construed as a pragmatic product of evolution, and the antinomies of reason represented by magic and religion. This is not just another exposition of Bergson's (...) work. It offers an account of why Bergson commanded such a massive reading public in his own day and why he deserves to be read now. Written in a terse and clear style, this book will prove appealing to teachers and students of philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, religious studies and literature. (shrink)
The recent death of Peter McHugh becomes an occasion for the remembrance and recollection of the distinctive form of reflexive or analytic social inquiry, which framed his work and that of his longtime friend and collaborator, Alan Blum. Following dual appointments at York University, Toronto, Canada in 1972, Blum and McHugh’s partnership formed the basis for a community of scholars and students throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. A brief review of McHugh and Blum’s works shows theoretical roots in (...) social constructivism and a deep appreciation of the linguistic turn, which in turn lead to the development of a form of social analysis that meets the stringent requirements of a reflexive sociology by repudiating any claim to a privileged exemption of theoretical speech (practice) from the hermeneutical circle of speech and language. Blum and McHugh are shown to embrace and not to evade the hermeneutical circle by a form of social inquiry that subverts the inherent possibilities available within speech and social convention to make available an encounter with the (moral) authority or form of life for that self-same speech. With each example of everyday life or conventional usage, McHugh (and Blum) move from theorizing which formulates the complexity of a particular instance of social interaction through its rules, to the question of the form of life that make that particular instance of the rules possible. It is the pursuit of transparency between speech and its roots in language that informed and continues to inform the distinctive style of social theory fostered at York-Toronto under the orchestration of McHugh and Blum. (shrink)
The theory presented in my book, Natural Beauty , is syncretic in that it denies the exclusivity of any one model of aesthetic appreciation of natural objects and instead insists: (1) that there is a tight, reciprocating connection between talents of perception that we develop in relation to arts and to natural objects; and (2) that the appreciation of natural beauty is intimately connected to the appreciation of other social values, including ethical values. In this paper, I respond to criticisms (...) of my syncretic approach—chiefly that it fails to reconcile objective and subjective elements in aesthetic judgment, that it fails to marshal its many modes of judgment into rational consistency, and that it fails to take proper stock of the role of scientific knowledge in these judgments—offered by Arnold Berleant, Stephanie Ross, and Glenn Parsons. (shrink)
This article examines shifts in the legal, medical, and common-sense logics governing the designation of sex on birth certificates issued by the City of New York between 1965 and 2006. In the initial iteration, the stabilization of legal sex categories was organized around the notion of "fraud"; in the most recent iteration, "permanence" became the measure of authenticity. We frame these legal constructions of sex with theories about the "natural attitude" toward gender.