Within the class of indexicals, a distinction is often made between “pure” or “automatic” indexicals on one hand, and demonstratives or “discretionary” indexicals on the other. The idea is supposed to be that certain indexicals refer automatically and invariably to a particular feature of the utterance context: ‘I’ refers to the speaker, ‘now’ to the time of utterance, ‘here’ to the place of utterance, etc. Against this view, I present cases where reference shifts from the speaker, time, or place of (...) utterance to some other object, time, or place. I consider and reject the claim that these counterexamples to the automatic indexical theory all involve non-literal uses of indexicals and argue that they cannot be explained away on the grounds that they involve conversational implicature or pretense. (shrink)
In debates about the proper analysis of demonstrative expressions, ostensive gestures and speaker intentions are often seen as competing for primary importance in securing reference. Underlying some of these debates is the mistaken assumption that ostensive gestures always make the demonstrated object maximally salient to interlocutors. When we abandon this assumption and focus on an object’s mutually-recognized salience itself, rather than on how the object came to be salient, we can work towards a more promising analysis with a uniform treatment (...) of demonstrative reference whether or not there is an ostensive gesture, and whether reference is ordinary or deferred. (shrink)
Wilderness has always been a problematic concept, and now even some environmental philosophers question its value. Using Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York State, the views from its summit, and the wilderness areas that surround it as heuristic devices, I examine four historically important concepts of wilderness. Even the most recently developed of those concepts has its philosophical problems, especially its implicit dualism, which many environmental thinkers regard negatively. I join those who reject dualism, but I disagree (...) with the call to jettison the concept of wilderness. Instead, I argue that we need to develop an environmental philsophy that acknowledges both our differences from and our unity with wild nature. (shrink)
The tragic crash of Air New Zealand's flight TE-901 into Mt. Erebus in Antarctica provides a fascinating case for the exploration of the notion of corporate moral responsibility. A principle of accountability that has Aristotelian roots and is significantly different from the usual strict intentional action principles is examined and defined. That principle maintains that a person can be held morally accountable for previous non-intentional behavior that has harmful effects if the person does not take corrective measures to adjust his (...) ways of behavior so as not to produce repetitions. This principle is then applied to the Mt. Erebus disaster. (shrink)
This paper introduces the Eight Dimensional Methodology for Innovative Thinking (the Eight Dimensional Methodology), for innovative problem solving, as a unified approach to case analysis that builds on comprehensive problem solving knowledge from industry, business, marketing, math, science, engineering, technology, arts, and daily life. It is designed to stimulate innovation by quickly generating unique “out of the box” unexpected and high quality solutions. It gives new insights and thinking strategies to solve everyday problems faced in the workplace, by helping decision (...) makers to see otherwise obscure alternatives and solutions. Daniel Raviv, the engineer who developed the Eight Dimensional Methodology, and paper co-author, technology ethicist Rosalyn Berne, suggest that this tool can be especially useful in identifying solutions and alternatives for particular problems of engineering, and for the ethical challenges which arise with them. First, the Eight Dimensional Methodology helps to elucidate how what may appear to be a basic engineering problem also has ethical dimensions. In addition, it offers to the engineer a methodology for penetrating and seeing new dimensions of those problems. (shrink)
A number of popular arguments for dualism start from a premise about an epistemic gap between physical truths about truths about consciousness, and infer an ontological gap between physical processes and consciousness. Arguments of this sort include the conceivability argument, the knowledge argument, the explanatory-gap argument, and the property dualism argument. Such arguments are often resisted on the grounds that epistemic premises do not entail ontological conclusion. My view is that one can legitimately infer ontological conclusions from epistemic premises, if (...) one is very careful about how one reasons. To do so, the best way is to reason first from epistemic premises to modal conclusions (about necessity and possibility), and from there to ontological conclusions. Here, the crucial issue is the link between the epistemic and modal domains. How can one reason from theses about what is knowable or conceivable to theses about what is necessary or possible? To bridge the epistemic and modal domains, the framework of two-dimensional semantics can play a central role. I have used this framework in earlier work (Chalmers 1996) to mount an argument against materialism. Here, I want to revisit the argument, laying it out in a more explicit and careful form, and responding to a number of objections. In what follows I will concentrate mostly on the conceivability argument. I think that very similar considerations apply to the other arguments mentioned above, however. In the final section of the paper, I show how this analysis might yield a unified treatment of a number of anti-materialist arguments. (shrink)
This paper discusses the significance of non-causal dependence for truthmaker theory. After introducing truthmaker theory (section 1), I discuss a challenge to it levelled by Benjamin Schnieder. I argue that Schnieder’s challenge can be met once we acknowledge the existence of non-causal dependence and of explanations which rely on it (sections 2 to 5). I then mount my own argument against truthmaker theory, based on the notion of non-causal dependence (sections 6 and 7).
According to David Lewis, a realist about possible worlds must hold that actuality is relative: the worlds are ontologically all on a par; the actual and the merely possible differ, not absolutely, but in how they relate to us. Call this 'Lewisian realism'. The alternative, 'Leibnizian realism', holds that actuality is an absolute property that marks a distinction in ontological status. Lewis presents two arguments against Leibnizian realism. First, he argues that the Leibnizian realist cannot account for the contingency of (...) actuality. Second, he argues that the Leibnizian realist cannot explain why skepticism about one's own actuality is absurd. In this paper, I mount a defense of Leibnizian realism. (shrink)
Up until fairly recently it was philosophical orthodoxy – at least within analytic aesthetics broadly construed – to hold that the appreciation and evaluation of works as art and moral considerations pertaining to them are conceptually distinct. However, following on from the idea that artistic value is broader than aesthetic value, the last 15 years has seen an explosion of interest in exploring possible inter-relations between the appreciative and ethical character of works as art. Consideration of these issues has a (...) distinguished philosophical history but as the Compass survey article suggests ('Art, Morality and Ethics: On the (Im)Moral Character of Art Works and Inter-Relations to Artistic Value.' Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 129–43), it is only very recently that figures in the field have returned to it to develop more precisely what they take the relationships to be and why. Consensus is, unsurprisingly, lacking. The reinvigoration of the issues has led sophisticated formalists or autonomists to mount a more considered defence of the idea that aesthetic and literary values are indeed conceptually distinct from the justification or otherwise of the moral perspective or views endorsed in a work (Topic I). The challenges presented by such a defence are many but amongst them are appeals to critical practice (Lamarque and Olsen), scepticism about whether or not art really can give us bona fide knowledge (Stolnitz) and the recognition that truth often seems to be far removed from what it is we value in our appreciation of works (Lamarque). One way to motivate consideration of the relevance of a work's moral character to its artistic value concerns the phenomena of imaginative resistance. At least sometimes it would seem that, as Hume originally suggested, we either cannot or will not enter imaginatively into the perspective solicited by a work due to its morally problematic character (Topic II). In some cases, it would seem that as a matter of psychological fact, we cannot do so since it is impossible for us to imagine how it could be that a certain attitude or action is morally permissible or good (Walton). The question then is whether or not this is a function of morality in particular or constraints on imaginative possibility more generally and what else is involved. At other times, the phenomena seem to be driven by a moral reluctance to allow ourselves to enter into the dramatic perspective involved (Moran) or evaluation of the attitude expressed (Stokes). Nonetheless, it is far from obvious that this is so of all the attitudes or responses we judge to be morally problematic. After all, it looks like we can and indeed often do suspend or background particular cognitive and moral commitments in engaging with all sorts of works (Nichols and Weinberg). If the moral character of a work interacts with how we appreciate and evaluate them, then the pressing question is this: is there any systematic account of the relationship available to us? One way is to consider the relationship between our emotional responses to works and their moral character (Topic III). After all, art works often solicit various emotional responses from us to follow the work and make use of moral concepts in so doing (Carroll). Indeed, whether or not a work merits the sought for emotional responses often seems to be internally related to ethical considerations (Gaut). Yet, it is not obvious that we should apply our moral concepts or respond emotionally in our imaginative engagement with works as art as we should in real life (Kieran, Jacobson). A different route is via the thought that art can convey knowledge (Topic IV). There might be particular kinds of moral knowledge art distinctively suited to conveying (Nussbaum) or it may just be that art does so particularly effectively (Carroll, Gaut, Kieran). Either way where this can be tied to the artistic means and appreciation of a work it would seem that to cultivate moral understanding contributes to the value of a work and to betray misunderstanding is a defect. Without denying the relevance of the moral character of a work some authors have wanted to claim that sometimes the immoral aspect of a work can contribute to rather than lessen its artistic value (Topic V). One route is to claim that there is no systematic theoretical account of the relationship available and what the right thing to say is depends on the particular case involved (Jacobson). Another involves the claim that this is so when the defect connects up in an appropriate way to one of the values of art. Thus, it has been claimed, only where a work reveals something which adds to intelligibility, knowledge or understanding in virtue of its morally problematic aspect can this be so (Kieran). The latter position looks like it could in principle be held whilst nonetheless maintaining that the typical or standard relationship is as the moralists would have it. Yet perhaps allowing valence change for such reasons is less a mark of principled explanation and more a function of downright inconsistency or incoherence (Harold). The topics themselves and suggested readings given below follow the structure articulated above as further amplified in the Compass survey article. The design and structure given below can be easily compressed or expanded further. Author Recommends 1. Carroll, Noël. 'Art, Narrative and Moral Understanding.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 126–60. This article develops the idea that engaging with narrative art calls on moral concepts and emotions and can thereby clarify our moral understanding. 2. Carroll, Noël. Beyond Aesthetics: Philosophical Essays . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Part IV consists of six distinct essays on questions concerning the inter-relations between art and morality including the essay cited above and the author's articulation and defence of moderate moralism. 3. Gaut, Berys. 'The Ethical Criticism of Art.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 182–203. 4. Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. This monograph provides the most exhaustive treatment of the issues and defends the claim that, where relevant, whenever a work is morally flawed it is of lesser value as art and wherever it is morally virtuous the work's value as art is enhanced. Chapters 7 and 8 defend concern ethical knowledge and chapter 10 is a development of the article cited above concerning emotional responses. Chapter 3 also gives a useful conceptual map of the issues and options in the debate. 5. Jacobson, Daniel. 'In Praise of Immoral Art.' Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 155–99. A wide ranging and extended treatment of relevant issues which objects to generalising moral treatments of our responses to art works and defends the idea that particular works can be better because of rather than despite their moral defects. 6. Kieran, Matthew. 'Forbidden Knowledge: The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism.' Art and Morality . Ed. Sebastian Gardner and José Luis Bermúdez. London: Routledge, 2003. 56–73. A general argument for immoralism is elaborated by outlining when, where and why a work's morally problematic character can contribute to its artistic value for principled reasons (through enhancing moral understanding). 7. Kieran, Matthew. Revealing Art . London: Routledge, 2005. Chapter 4. This chapter argues against both aestheticism and straightforward moralism about art, elaborating a defence of immoralism in relation to visual art whilst ranging over issues from pornographic art to the nature and demands of different genres in art. 8. Lamarque, Peter. 'Cognitive Values in the Arts: Marking the Boundaries.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 127–39. This article concisely outlines and defends a sophisticated aestheticism that denies the importance of truth to artistic value. 9. Stolnitz, Jerome. 'On the Cognitive Triviality of Art.' British Journal of Aesthetics 32.3 (1992): 191–200. This article articulates and defends the claim that no knowledge of any interesting or significant kind can be afforded by works appreciated and evaluated as art. 10. Walton, Kendall. 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, I.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. 68 (1994): 27–51. This article builds on some comments from Hume to develop the idea that when engaging with fictions it seems impossible imaginatively to enter into radically deviant moral attitudes. Online Materials 'Aesthetics and Ethics: The State of the Art.' American Society of Aesthetics online (Jeffrey Dean): http://www.aesthetics-online.org/articles/index.php?articles_id=15 >. 'Art, Censorship and Morality' downloadable podcast of Nigel Warburton interviewing Matthew Kieran at Tate Britain (BBC/OU Open2.net as part of the Ethics Bites series): http://www.open2.net/ethicsbites/art-censorship-morality.html >. 'Art, Morality and Ethics: On the (Im)Moral Character of Art Works and Inter-Relations to Artistic Value.' Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 129–43 (Matthew Kieran): http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118557779/abstract >. 'Ethical Criticism of Art.' Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Ella Peek): http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/art-eth.htm >. 'Fascinating Fascism.' New York Review of Books Piece Discussing Leni Riefenstahl (Susan Sontag): http://www.nybooks.com/articles/9280 >. 'The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (1450s), Giovanni de Paolo' (Tom Lubbock): http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-1450s-giovanni-di-paolo-1684900.html >. Vladimir Nabokov and Lionel Trilling discuss Lolita (CBS): http://www.listal.com/video/3848698 >. Sample Syllabus Topic I Autonomism/Aestheticism • Anderson, James C. and Jeffrey T. Dean. 'Moderate Autonomism.' British Journal of Aesthetics 38.2 (1998): 150–66. • Beardsley, Monroe. Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism . New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958. Chapter 12. • Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgement.Trans. James Creed Meredith . Oxford: Oxford UP, 1952 . • Lamarque, Peter. 'Cognitive Values in the Arts: Marking the Boundaries.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, 127–39. • ——. 'Tragedy and Moral Value.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73.2 (1995): 239–49. • Lamarque, Peter and Stein Olsen. Truth, Fiction and Literature . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. Chapter 10. • Stolnitz, Jerome. 'On the Cognitive Triviality of Art.' British Journal of Aesthetics 32.3 (1992): 191–200. Topic II Imaginative Capacities, Intelligibility and Resistance • Moran, Richard. 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination.' Philosophical Review 103.1 (1994): 75–106. • Nichols, Shaun. 'Just the Imagination: Why Imagining Doesn't Behave Like Believing'. Mind & Language 21.4 (2006): 459–74. • Stokes, Dustin. 'The Evaluative Character of Imaginative Resistance'. British Journal of Aesthetics 46.4 (2006): 387–405. • Tanner, Michael. 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, II'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 68 (1994): 51–66. • Walton, Kendall (1994). 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality, I'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 68 (1994): 27–51. • Weinberg, Jonathan. 'Configuring the Cognitive Imagination.' New Waves in Aesthetics . Eds. K. Stock and K. Thomson-Jones. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 203–23. Topic III Moralism and Emotions • Carroll, Noël. 'Moderate Moralism.' British Journal of Aesthetics 36.3 (1996): 223–37. • Carroll, Noël. 'Art, Narrative and Moral Understanding.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.126–60. • Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Chapter 10. • ——. 'The Ethical Criticism of Art.' Aesthetics and Ethics: Essay at the Intersection . Ed. Jerrold Levinson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 182–203. • Hume, David. 'Of the Standard of Taste.' Selected Essays . Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993 . 133–53. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Emotions, Art and Immorality.' Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Emotions . Ed. Peter Goldie. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. 681–703. • Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? . London: Penguin, 2004. Chapters 5 and 15. Topic IV Moralism and Knowledge • Aristotle. Poetics . Trans. M. Heath. London: Penguin, 1996 [367–322 BC]. • Carroll, Noël. 'The Wheel of Virtue: Art, Literature and Moral Knowledge.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 60.1 (2002): 3–26. • Gaut, Berys. Art, Emotion and Ethics . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Chapters 7 and 8. • Gaut, Berys. 'Art and Cognition.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 115–26. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Art, Imagination and the Cultivation of Morals.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54.4 (1996): 337–51. • Nussbaum, Martha. 'Finely Aware and Richly Responsible: Literature and the Moral Imagination.' Love's Knowledge . New York: Oxford UP, 1990. 148–68. • Plato. The Republic . Trans. D. Lee. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Book 10. Topic V Immoralist Contextualism • Harold, James. 'Immoralism and the Valence Constraint.' British Journal of Aesthetics 48.1 (2008): 45–64. • Jacobson, Daniel. 'In Praise of Immoral Art.' Philosophical Topics 25 (1997): 155–99. • ——. 'Ethical Criticism and the Vices of Moderation.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 342–55. • John, Eileen. 'Artistic Value and Moral Opportunism.' Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art . Ed. Matthew Kieran. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 331–41. • Kieran, Matthew. 'Forbidden Knowledge:The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism.' Art and Morality . Ed. Sebastian Gardner and José Luis Bermúdez. London: Routledge, 2003. 56–73. • Kieran, Matthew. Revealing Art . London: Routledge, 2005. Chapter 4. • Patridge, Stephanie. 'Moral Vices as Artistic Virtues: Eugene Onegin and Alice.' Philosophia 36.2 (2008): 181–93. Focus Questions 1. What is the strongest argument for the claim that the moral character of a work is not relevant to its artistic value? Does artistic or literary criticism tend to concern itself with the truth or morality of works? If so, in what ways? If not, why do you think this is? 2. What different explanations might there be for difficulty with or resistance to imaginatively entering into attitudes you take to be immoral? How might this relate to the way our imaginings work as contrasted with belief? How might different literary or artistic treatments of the same subject matter make a difference? 3. How do narrative works draw on our moral concepts and responses? Can we suspend our normal moral commitments or application of moral concepts in responding emotionally to art works? Should we respond emotionally to art works as we ought to respond to real world events we witness? Why? Why not? 4. How, if at all, do art works convey moral understanding? How, if at all, is this related to the kinds of moral knowledge art works can teach or reveal to us? When, where and why might this be tied to the artistic value of a work? How can we tell where a work enhances our moral understanding as opposed to misleading or distorting it? 5. What art works do you value overall as art which commend or endorse moral values and attitudes that you do not? Is appreciation of them always marred or lessened by the morally dubious aspect? If not, what explains the differences in evaluation? What, if anything, might you learn by engaging with works which endorse moral attitudes or apply moral concepts different from those you take to be justified? How, if at all, might this connect up with what makes them valuable as art? (shrink)
God, free will, and time: the free will offense part II Content Type Journal Article Category Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11153-011-9328-z Authors J. L. Schellenberg, Mount Saint Vincent University, 166 Bedford Highway, Halifax, NS B3M2J6, Canada Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047.
This essay argues that neutral paternalism (NP) is problematic for antiperfectionist liberal theories. Section 2 raises textual evidence that Rawlsian liberalism does not oppose and may even support NP. In section 3, I cast doubt on whether NP should have a place in political liberalism by defending a partially comprehensive conception of the good I call “moral capacity at each moment,” or MCEM, that is inconsistent with NP. I then explain why MCEM is a reasonable conception on Rawls's account of (...) reasonableness. In section 4, I handle concerns that showing NP fails the test of Rawlsian public justification is a nonstarter since NP does not threaten any of our basic liberties. I sketch an argument that, if this is so, the burden is on political liberalism to defend its particular account of basic liberties, since MCEM is reasonable on Rawlsian grounds. More precisely, MCEM is a conception that challenges the way Rawls characterizes basic liberties; that is, his list of basic liberties should be more inclusive by political liberalism's own structural commitments, including Rawls's “liberal principle of legitimacy.” On this revised account, political liberalism can mount a strong opposition to hard legal paternalism. (shrink)
This book attempts to place a realist view of ethics (the claim that there are facts of the matter in ethics as elsewhere) within a broader context. It starts with a discussion of why we should mind about the difference between right and wrong, asks what account we should give of our ability to learn from our moral experience, and looks in some detail at the different sorts of ways in which moral reasons can combine to show us what we (...) should do in the circumstances. The second half of the book uses these results to mount an attack on consequentialism in ethics, arguing that there are more sorts of reasons around than consequentialists can even dream of. (shrink)
The goal of this chapter is to mount a critique of the claim that cognitive content (that is, the kind of content possessed by our concepts and thoughts) makes a constitutive contribution to the phenomenal properties of our mental lives. We therefore defend the view that phenomenal consciousness is exclusively experiential (or nonconceptual) in character. The main focus of the chapter is on the alleged contribution that concepts make to the phenomenology of visual experience. For we take it that (...) if cognitive phenomenology is to be found anywhere, it should be found here. However, we begin with a discussion of the question of cognitive phenomenology more generally, and we close by sketching how our argument might be extended into the domain of non-perceptual thought. (shrink)
Sellars and McDowell, among others, attribute a prominent role to the Myth of the Given. In this paper, I suggest that they have in mind two different versions of the Myth of the Given and I argue that Kant is not the target of one version and, though explicitly under attack from the other, has resources sufficient to mount a satisfactory response. What is essential to this response is a proper understanding of (empirical) concepts as involving unifying functions that (...) can take sensations as input and deliver normative representations as outputs. By understanding concepts in this way, one need not, as the second version of the Myth of the Given maintains, take sensations to be both natural and normative. Instead, they can be understood as the natural effects of external objects on us, but natural effects that can nonetheless play a role in a normative process because the concepts that are responsible for the normativity of the results can require that such natural effects be present as inputs into the process. (shrink)
Think of the last thing someone did to you to seriously harm or offend you. And now imagine, so far as you can, becoming fully aware of the fact that his or her action was the causally inevitable result of a plan set into motion before he or she was ever even born, a plan that had no chance of failing. Should you continue to regard him or her as being morally responsible—blameworthy, in this case—for what he or she did? (...) Many have thought that, intuitively, you should not. Recently, Alfred Mele has employed this line of thought to mount what many have taken to be a powerful argument for incompatibilism: the “Zygote Argument”. However, in interesting new papers, John Martin Fischer and Stephen Kearns have each independently argued that the Zygote Argument fails. As I see it, the criticisms of Fischer and Kearns reveal some important questions about how the argument is meant to be—or how it would best be—understood. Once we make a slight (but important) modification to the argument, however, I think we will be able to see that the criticisms of Fischer and Kearns do not detract from its substantial force. (shrink)
The Credit Theory of Knowledge (CTK)—as expressed by such figures as John Greco, Wayne Riggs, and Ernest Sosa—holds that knowing that p implies deserving epistemic credit for truly believing that p . Opponents have presented three sorts of counterexamples to CTK: S might know that p without deserving credit in cases of (1) innate knowledge (Lackey, Kvanvig); (2) testimonial knowledge (Lackey); or (3) perceptual knowledge (Pritchard). The arguments of Lackey, Kvanvig and Pritchard, however, are effective only in so far as (...) one is willing to accept a set of controversial background assumptions (for instance, that innate knowledge exists or that doxastic voluntarism is wrong). In this paper I mount a fourth argument against CTK, that doesn’t rest on any such controversial premise, and therefore should convince a much wider audience. In particular, I show that in cases of extended cognition (very broadly conceived), the most salient feature explaining S ’s believing the truth regarding p may well be external to S , that is, it might be a feature of S ’s (non-human, artifactual) environment. If so, the cognitive achievement of knowing that p is not (or only marginally) creditable to S , and hence, CTK is false. (shrink)
The Law of Non-Contradiction - that no contradiction can be true - has been a seemingly unassailable dogma since the work of Aristotle, in Book G of the Metaphysics. It is an assumption challenged from a variety of angles in this collection of original papers. Twenty-three of the world's leading experts investigate the 'law', considering arguments for and against it and discussing methodological issues that arise whenever we question the legitimacy of logical principles. The result is a balanced inquiry into (...) a venerable principle of logic, one that raises questions at the very centre of logic itself. The aim of this volume is to present a comprehensive debate about the Law of Non-Contradiction, from discussions as to how the law is to be understood, to reasons for accepting or re-thinking the law, and to issues that raise challenges to the law, such as the Liar Paradox, and a 'dialetheic' resolution of that paradox. The editors contribute an introduction which surveys the issues and serves to frame the debate, and a useful bibliography offering a guide to further reading. This volume will be of interest to anyone working on philosophical logic, and to anyone who has ever wondered about the status of logical laws and about how one might proceed to mount arguments for or against them. (shrink)
In What’s Wrong With Microphysicalism?, Andreas H üttemann argues against the ontological priority of the microphysical, in favour of a ‘pluralism’ that accepts physical systems of all scales as interdependent equals. This is thoughtful and original work, deploying an understanding of the relevant physics to mount a serious challenge to the dominant microphysicalist view.
Introduction: This paper has two, interrelated aims. The first is to clarify Sartre's theory of intersubjectivity. Sartre's discussion of the Other has a puzzling way of going in and out of focus, seeming at one moment to provide a remarkably original solution to the problem of other minds and at the next to wholly miss the point of the skeptical challenge. The nature of his argument is equally uncertain: at some points it looks like an attempt to mount a (...) transcendental argument, a kind of Refutation of Idealism regarding the existence of others, at others, to be a defence of direct realism; yet again, it can seem to propose a dissolution of the problem closely analogous to Wittgenstein. I will argue (Section 1) that none of these provides quite the right model for understanding Sartre, which requires one to take seriously his method of resolving epistemological issues into matters of ontology. I argue further (Section 2) that Sartre's theory becomes fully coherent only if we make explicit its implicit presupposition of a conception of intersubjectivity articulated by Fichte. My second aim is to pursue the connection opened up of Sartre with German idealism. To the extent that commentators attempt to relate Sartre systematically to German idealism, it is almost always Hegel who provides the other term of comparison.1 What I try to show (Section 3) is that the usual comparison of Sartre with Hegel, which is largely negative, is distracting, and that Sartre's closer philosophical [End Page 325] relations are to Fichte and Schelling.2 This supplies, I argue, an important correction to the tendency of anglophone discussion of Sartre to isolate his claims from historical considerations, or to restrict Sartre's historical frame of reference to Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger: Sartre's philosophy, I suggest, is viewed fruitfully in the context of philosophical debates pursued in early German idealism. Sartre's ethics, I argue (Section 4), provide supporting evidence for this view. I propose tentatively in conclusion (Section 5) a corresponding view of existential phenomenology as a whole. (shrink)
According to the mental continuity claim (MCC), human mental faculties are physical and beneficial to human survival, so they must have evolved gradually from ancestral forms and we should expect to see their precursors across species. Materialism of mind coupled with Darwin’s evolutionary theory leads directly to such claims and even today arguments for animal mental properties are often presented with the MCC as a premise. However, the MCC has been often challenged among contemporary scholars. It is usually argued that (...) only humans use language and that language as such has no precursors in the animal kingdom. Moreover, language is quite often understood as a necessary tool for having representations and forming beliefs. As a consequence, by lacking language animals could not have developed representational systems or beliefs. In response to these worries, we aim to mount a limited defense of the MCC as an empirical hypothesis. First, we will provide a short historical overview of the origins of the MCC and examine some of the motives behind traditional arguments for and against it. Second, we will focus on one particular question, namely whether language as such is necessary for having beliefs. Our goal is to show that there is little reason to think language is necessary for belief. In doing so, we will challenge a view of belief that is widely accepted by those working in animal cognition, namely representational belief, and we will argue that if belief is non-representational, then different research questions and methods are required. We will conclude with an argument that to study the evolution of belief across species, it is essential to begin the study of subjects in their social and ecological environment rather than in contexts that are not ecologically valid along the social and ecological dimensions. Thus, rather than serving as a premise in an argument 3 in favor of animal minds, the MCC can only be defended by empirical investigation, but importantly, empirical investigation of the right sort.. (shrink)
Sven Bernecker develops a theory of propositional memory that is at odds with the received epistemic theory of memory. On Bernecker’s account the belief that is remembered must be true, but it need not constitute knowledge, nor even have been true at the time it was acquired. I examine his reasons for thinking the epistemic theory of memory is false and mount a defense of the epistemic theory.
In this paper we introduce a paradigm of experiment which, we believe, is of interest both in psychology and philosophy. There the subject wears an HMD (head-mount display), and a camera is set up at the upper corner of the room, in which the subject is. As a result, the subject observes his own body through the HMD. We will mainly focus on the philosophical relevance of this experiment, especially to the thesis of so-called 'immunity to error through misidentification (...) relative to the first-person pronoun'. We will argue that one experiment conducted in this setting, which we call the bodily illusion experiment, provides a counterexample to that thesis. (shrink)
Prominent evolutionary psychologists have argued that our innate psychological endowment consists of numerous domainspecific cognitive resources, rather than a few domaingeneral ones. In the light of some conceptual clarification, we examine the central inprinciple arguments that evolutionary psychologists mount against domaingeneral cognition. We conclude (a) that the fundamental logic of Darwinism, as advanced within evolutionary psychology, does not entail that the innate mind consists exclusively, or even massively, of domainspecific features, and (b) that a mixed innate cognitive economy of (...) domainspecific and domaingeneral resources remains a genuine conceptual possibility. However, an examination of evolutionary psychology's 'grain problem' reveals that there is no way of establishing a principled and robust distinction between domainspecific and domaingeneral features. Nevertheless, we show that evolutionary psychologists can and do live with this grain problem without their whole enterprise being undermined. (shrink)
Welfare is at least occasionally a temporal phenomenon: welfare benefits befall me at certain times. But this fact seems to present a problem for a desire-satisfaction view. Assume that I desire, at 10am, January 12th, 2010, to climb Mount Everest sometime during 2012. Also assume, however, that during 2011, my desires undergo a shift: I no longer desire to climb Mount Everest during 2012. In fact, I develop an aversion to so doing. Imagine, however, that despite my aversion, (...) I am forced to climb Mount Everest. Does climbing Mount Everest benefit me? If so, when? A natural answer seems to be that if in fact it does benefit me, it benefits me at no particular time, and hence the desire-satisfaction view cannot accommodate the phenomenon of temporal welfare. In this paper, I argue, first, that a desire-satisfaction view can accommodate the phenomenon of temporal welfare only by accepting what I call the “time-of-desire” view: that p benefits x at t only if x desires p at t . Second, I argue that this view can be defended from important objections. (shrink)
Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? To see what’s at stake, consider Mount Rushmore. The evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design is direct—eyewitnesses saw the sculptor Gutzon Borglum spend the better part of his life designing and building this structure. But what if there were no direct evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design? What if humans (...) went extinct and aliens, visiting the earth, discovered Mount Rushmore in substantially the same condition as it is now? (shrink)
The philosophy of religion as a distinct discipline is an innovation of the last two hundred years, but its central topics--the existence and nature of the divine, humankind's relation to it, the nature of religion and its place in human life--have been with us since the inception of philosophy. Philosophers have long critically examined the truth of (and rational justification for) religious claims, and have explored such philosophically interesting phenomena as faith, religious experience and the distinctive features of religious discourse. (...) The second half of the twentieth-century has been an especially fruitful period, with philosophers using new developments in logic and epistemology to mount both sophisticated defenses of, and attacks on, religious claims. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion contains newly commissioned chapters by 21 prominent experts who cover the field in a comprehensive but accessible manner. Each chapter is expository, critical, and representative of a distinctive viewpoint. The Handbook is divided into two sections. The first, "Problems," covers the most frequently discussed topics, among them arguments for God's existence, the problem of evil, and religious epistemology. The second is called "Approaches" and contains four essays assessing the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of practicing philosophy of religion. The Handbook offers contributors of high stature who present substantive and in-depth treatment of the most central topics. It is a must-have reference for anyone with an interest in philosophy and religion. (shrink)
Based on some of Kent Bach's work and Mount (2008), I point out certain shortcomings of parameter-based semantic two-dimensionalism for the modeling of indexicals and suggest to model context dependence on the basis of the assumptions of indidivual speakers, their rich background knowledge, and defeasible reasoning in a broadly-conceived Stalnakerian framework.
The paper examines the way in which Salomon Maimon (1753-1800) combines Humean skepticism and Leibnizian rationalism to mount an innovative challenge to Kant. Maimon’s position can be described as an “apostate rationalism,” which holds that reason makes unavoidable demands on us that are nonetheless not satisfied in experience. An appreciation of Maimon’s arguments also sheds new and interesting light on the surprising role that this apostate rationalism plays as a component of Hume’s skeptical naturalism.
Some have argued that the vagueness exhibited by geographic names and descriptions such as ''Albuquerque,'' ''the Outback,'' or ''Mount Everest'' is ultimately ontological: these terms are vague because they refer to vague objects , objects with fuzzy boundaries. I take the opposite stand and hold the view that geographic vagueness is exclusively semantic, or conceptual at large. There is no such thing as a vague mountain. Rather, there are many things where we conceive a mountain to be, each with (...) its precise boundary, and when we say ''Everest'' we are just being vague as to which thing we are referring to. This paper defends this view against some plausible objections. (shrink)
Using ideas from evolution and postformal stages of hierarchical complexity, a hypothetical scenario, premised on genetic engineering advances, portrays the development of a new humanoid species, Superions. How would Superions impact and treat current humans? If the Superion scenario came to pass, it would be the ultimate genocidal terrorism of eliminating an entire species, Homo Sapiens. We speculate about defenses Homo Sapiens might mount. The tasks to relate two species (systems) constitutes a postformal, Metasystematic task. Developing a system of (...) discourse to prevent destruction requires postformal Paradigmatic-stage tasks. Implications are twofold: species survival and sufficient evolution to survive. (shrink)
This paper interprets the British legislative process that initiated the first comprehensive national regulation of embryo research and fertility services and examines subsequent efforts to restrain the assisted reproduction industry. After describing and evaluating British regulatory measures, I consider successive failures to control the assisted reproduction industry in the US. I discuss disparities between UK and US regulatory initiatives and their bearing on regulation in other countries. Then I turn to the political and social structures in which the assisted reproduction (...) industry is embedded. I argue that regulatory bodies are seldom neutral arbiters. They tend to respond most readily to special interests and neglect strategies that could more effectively meet the health needs of the people they represent. Neither national nor international bodies have aggressively pursued policies to harness the industry, reduce infertility rates, or meet the needs of people whose fertility is threatened by substandard healthcare and environmental neglect. In conclusion, I consider recent initiatives by activist groups to mount an alternative response to the industry's current practices and build a transnational reproductive justice movement. (shrink)
In his book A Charge to Keep, George W. Bush writes of his decision to "recommit my heart to Jesus Christ." He traces it to a walk along the beach in Maine with the Christian evangelist Billy Graham. Conversing with Graham, Bush was "humbled to learn that God had sent His Son to die for a sinner like me." After his decision to recommit himself to Jesus, Bush tells us, he began to read the Bible regularly and joined a Bible (...) study group. Later, when Bush describes a visit to Israel that he and his wife, Laura, made in 1998, we get a further insight into his view of the Gospels as history. George and Laura went, he tells us, to the Sea of Galilee and "stood atop the hill where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount." It was, he adds, "an overwhelming feeling to stand in the spot where the most famous speech in the history of the world was delivered, the spot where Jesus outlined the character and conduct of a believer and gave his disciples and the world the beatitudes, the golden rule, and the Lord's Prayer." Bush concludes his account of his visit to Israel by saying he knows that faith changes lives, because "faith changed mine." This faith is something that enables him to build his life on "a foundation that will not shift.". (shrink)
Abstract In this essay I show that while Levinas himself was clearly reluctant to extend to nonhuman animals the same kind of moral consideration he gave to humans, his ethics of alterity is one of the best equipped to mount a strong challenge to the traditional view of animals as beings of limited, if any, moral status. I argue that the logic of Levinas's own arguments concerning the otherness of the Other militates against interpreting ethics exclusively in terms of (...) human interests and values, and, furthermore, that Levinas's phenomenology of the face applies to all beings that can suffer and are capable of expressing that suffering to me. Insofar as an animal has a face in Levinas's sense through which it is able to express its suffering to me, then there is no moral justification for refusing to extend to it moral consideration. 1. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider how a Kierkegaardian could respond critically to the question of strong theological universalism, i.e., the belief that all individuals must eventually be reconciled to God and experience everlasting happiness. A Kierkegaardian would likely reject what Thomas Talbott has called “conservative theism,” but has the resources to mount a sustained attack on the view that all individuals must experience everlasting happiness. Some have seen that Kierkegaard has some potential in this regard, but a full Kierkegaardian (...) response to strong theological universalism has yet to be given. In this paper, I give such an account. (shrink)
Part one: the search for cosmic consciousness -- R.M. Bucke and the future of humanity -- William James and the anesthetic revelation -- Henri Bergson and the Elan Vital -- The superman -- A.R. Orage and the new age -- Ouspensky's fourth dimension -- Part two: esoteric evolution -- The bishop and the bulldog -- Enter the madame -- Dr. Steiner, I presume? -- From Goethean science to the wisdom of the human being -- Cosmic evolution -- Hypnagogia -- Part (...) three: the archaeology of consciousness -- The invisible mind -- Cracking the egg -- Lost worlds -- Noncerebral consciousness -- The split -- Part four: participatory epistemology -- The shock of metaphor -- The participating mind -- The tapestry of nature -- Thinking about thinking -- The black hole of consciousness -- Other times and places -- Faculty X -- Part five: the presence of origin -- The ascent of Mount Ventoux -- Structures of consciousness -- The mental-rational structure -- The integral structure -- Last words: playing for time. (shrink)
By revisiting Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, I mount a Hegelian defense of same-sex marriage rights. I first argue that Hegel’s account of theIdea of freedom articulates both the necessity of popular shifts in the determinations of the institutions of right, as well as the duty to struggle to progressively actualize freedom through them. I then contend that Hegel, by grounding marriage in free consent, clears the path for expanding this ethical institution to include all monogamous couples. Lastly, I close (...) by sketching the specifically Hegelian reasons we ought to actively struggle to expand the institution of marriage. (shrink)
This article examines Hilary Putnam's work in the philosophy of mathematics and - more specifically - his arguments against mathematical realism or objectivism. These include a wide range of considerations, from Gödel's incompleteness-theorem and the limits of axiomatic set-theory as formalised in the Löwenheim-Skolem proof to Wittgenstein's sceptical thoughts about rule-following (along with Saul Kripke's ‘scepticalsolution’), Michael Dummett's anti-realist philosophy of mathematics, and certain problems – as Putnam sees them – with the conceptual foundations of Peano arithmetic. He also adopts (...) a thought-experimental approach – a variant of Descartes' dream scenario – in order to establish the in-principle possibility that we might be deceived by the apparent self-evidence of basic arithmetical truths or that it might be ‘rational’ to doubt them under some conceivable (even if imaginary) set of circumstances. Thus Putnam assumes that mathematical realism involves a self-contradictory ‘Platonist’ idea of our somehow having quasi-perceptual epistemic ‘contact’ with truths that in their very nature transcend the utmost reach of human cognitive grasp. On this account, quite simply, ‘nothing works’ in philosophy of mathematics since wecan either cling to that unworkable notion of objective (recognition-transcendent) truth or abandon mathematical realism in favour of a verificationist approach that restricts the range of admissible statements to those for which we happen to possess some means of proof or ascertainment. My essay puts the case, conversely, that these hyperbolic doubts are not forced upon us but result from a false understanding of mathematical realism – a curious mixture of idealist and empiricist themes – which effectively skews the debate toward a preordained sceptical conclusion. I then go on to mount a defence of mathematical realism with reference to recent work in this field and also to indicate some problems – as I seethem – with Putnam's thought-experimental approach as well ashis use of anti-realist arguments from Dummett, Kripke, Wittgenstein, and others. (shrink)
Ex-Jew, eternal Jew: early representations of the Jewish Spinoza -- Refining Spinoza: Moses Mendelssohn's response to the Amsterdam heretic -- The first modern Jew: Berthold Auerbach's Spinoza and the beginnings of an image -- A rebel against the past, a revealer of secrets: Salomon Rubin and the east European Maskilic Spinoza -- From the heights of Mount Scopus: Yosef Klausner and the Zionist rehabilitation of Spinoza -- Farewell, Spinoza: I. B. Singer and the tragicomedy of the Jewish Spinozist.
We think of a boundary whenever we think of an entity demarcated from its surroundings. There is a boundary (a surface) demarcating the interior of a sphere from its exterior; there is a boundary (a border) separating Maryland and Pennsylvania. Sometimes the exact location of a boundary is unclear or otherwise controversial (as when you try to trace out the margins of Mount Everest, or even the boundary of your own body). Sometimes the boundary lies skew to any physical (...) discontinuity or qualitative differentiation (as with the border of Wyoming, or the boundary between the upper and lower halves of a homogeneous sphere). But whether sharp or blurry, natural or artificial, for every object there appears to be a boundary that marks it off from the rest of the world. Events, too, have boundaries — at least temporal boundaries. Our lives are bounded by our births and by our deaths; the soccer game began at 3pm sharp and ended with the referee's final whistle at 4:45pm. And it is sometimes suggested that abstract entities, such as concepts or sets, have boundaries of their own. Whether all this boundary talk is coherent, however, and whether it reflects the structure of the world or the organizing activity of our intellect, are matters of deep philosophical controversy. (shrink)
This paper explores some connections between competing conceptions of scientific laws on the one hand, and a problem in the foundations of statistical mechanics on the other. I examine two proposals for understanding the time asymmetry of thermodynamic phenomenal: David Albert's recent proposal and a proposal that I outline based on Hans Reichenbach's “branch systems”. I sketch an argument against the former, and mount a defense of the latter by showing how to accommodate statistical mechanics to recent developments in (...) the philosophy of scientific laws. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to further our understanding of the “GM is unnatural” view, and of the critical response to it. While many people have been reported to hold the view that GM is unnatural, many policy-makers and their advisors have suggested that the view must be ignored or rejected, and that there are scientific reasons for doing so. Three “typical” examples of ways in which the “GM is unnatural” view has been treated by UK policy-makers and their (...) advisors are explored. These are the Government’s position (DEFRA Report), the account of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and the position of Nigel Halford, a scientist with an advisory role to the Government. I show that their accounts fail to mount a convincing critique. Then, I draw on an empirical research project held during 2003–2004 at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north east of England. Scientists met with non-scientists in a range of facilitated one-to-one conversations (“exchanges”) on various environmental issues, one of which was on GM. Our findings show that some scientists who rejected the “GM is unnatural” view struggled to do so consistently. Their struggle is interpreted in terms of a conflict between a so-called “scientific” worldview, and a different worldview that underlies the concerns of those who held the “GM is unnatural” view. This worldview is explored further by an examination of their concerns. What distinguishes this worldview from the “scientific” worldview is that the instrumentalization of the nonhuman world is questioned to a larger extent. I conclude that, because the underlying concerns of those who held the “GM is unnatural” view were not with GM as such, yet with a worldview that was considered to be problematic, and of which many GM applications were held to be expressions, policy-makers and their advisors should reflect on the critical worldview of those who claim that GM is unnatural if they want to engage seriously with their concerns. (shrink)
The existence of free will has been both an enduring presumption of Western culture and a subject for debate across disciplines for millennia. However, little empirical evidence exists to support the almost unquestioned assumption that, in general, Westerners endorse the existence of free will. The few studies that measure belief in free will have methodological problems that likely resulted in underestimating the true extent of belief. Recently, Rakos et al. (Behavior and Social Issues 17:20–39, 2008 ) found a stronger endorsement (...) of free will when demand characteristics were eliminated. The current study builds on this work by sampling incarcerated adolescents and adults, whose freedom to act is externally constrained. Belief in free will as well as attitudes toward punishment, self-esteem, and locus of control were measured. The results indicate that free will is strongly endorsed in Western society even when freedom to act is severely restricted. However, incarcerated adolescents endorsed free will to a slightly lesser extent than their nonincarcerated counterparts from Rakos et al. (Behavior and Social Issues 17:20–39, 2008 ), while incarcerated and nonincarcerated adults offered equally strong endorsements. The comparable endorsement by adults is consistent with the hypothesis that the belief in agency is an evolutionary adaptation. The small decrease found for incarcerated adolescents may reflect the interaction between developmental factors and the expression of an evolutionary adaptation. Additionally, incarcerated adolescents and adults associated beliefs in free will with viewing punishment as a means of deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution. Incarcerated adults, but not incarcerated adolescents, associated beliefs in free will with greater self-esteem and with an external locus of control. Finally, though both incarcerated adults and adolescents endorsed free will strongly, the former manifested the belief by emphasizing free agentic choice whereas the latter focused on the personal responsibility that is interwoven with free choice. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of evolutionary, cultural, and developmental factors. (shrink)
This essay examines the symbolic significance of blood in the twentieth century and its role in determining the composition of a national community along racial lines. By drawing parallels between Nazi notions of blood and racial purity and historically contemporaneous U.S. policies regarding blood and blood products, Polsky reveals a disturbing proximity in discourse and policy. While the Nazis attempted to locate Jewish racial essence and inferiority in blood and instituted eugenic measures and laws forbidding racial admixture, similar policies existed (...) in the U.S. based on the so-called one drop rule that systematically discriminated against African Americans. (shrink)
Standardly, one says that vagueness arises whenever a concept or linguistic expression admits of borderline cases of application. A predicate such as ‘bald’, for example, is vague because there can be situations in which it is indeterminate whether or not it applies to (a name of) a certain object. Some people are clearly bald (Picasso), some are clearly not bald (the count of Montecristo), and some are borderline cases—our concept of baldness and our linguistic practices do not specify any exact (...) number of hairs that marks the boundary between the bald and the non-bald. Similarly, a singular term such as ‘Mount Everest’ is vague because there is no determinate way of tracing the geographical limits of its referent. Some rocks are clearly part of Everest and some are clearly not, but some rocks enjoy a borderline status. (shrink)
Invariantism about ‘might’ says that ‘might’ semantically expresses the same modal property in every context. This paper presents and defends a version of invariantism. According to it, ‘might’ semantically expresses the same weak modal property in every context. However, speakers who utter sentences containing ‘might’ typically assert propositions concerning stronger types of modality, including epistemic modality. This theory can explain the phenomena that motivate contextualist theories of epistemic uses of ‘might’, and can be defended from objections of the sort that (...) relativists mount against contextualist theories. (shrink)
Would you want to be operated on by a surgeon trained at a medical school that did not evaluate its students? Would you want to fly in a plane designed by people convinced that the laws of physics are socially constructed? Would you want to be tried by a legal system indifferent to the distinction between fact and fiction? These questions may seem absurd, but there are theories being seriously advanced by radical multiculturalists that force us to ask such questions. (...) These scholars assert that such concepts as truth and merit are inextricably racist and sexist, that reason and objectivity are merely sophisticated masks for ideological bias, and that reality itself is nothing more than socially constructed mechanism for preserving the power of the ruling elite. In Beyond All Reason, liberal legal scholars Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry mount the first systematic critique of radical multiculturalism as a form of legal scholarship. Beginning with an incisive overview of the origins and basic tenets of radical multiculturalism, the authors critically examine the work of Derrick Bell, Catherine MacKinnon, Patricia Williams, and Richard Delgado, and explore the alarming implications of their theories. Farber and Sherry push these theories to their logical conclusions and show that radical multiculturalism is destructive of the very goals it wishes to affirm. If, for example, the concept of advancement based on merit is fraudulent, as the multiculturalists claim, the disproportionate success of Jews and Asians in our culture becomes difficult to explain without opening the door to age-old anti-Semitic and racist stereotypes. If historical and scientific truths are entirely relative social constructs, then Holocaust denial becomes merely a matter of perspective, and Creationism has as much "validity" as evolution. The authors go on to show that rather than promoting more dialogue, the radical multiculturalist preferences for legal storytelling and identity politics over reasoned argument produces an insular set of positions that resist open debate. Indeed, radical multiculturalists cannot critically examine each others' ideas without incurring vehement accusations of racism and sexism, much less engage in fruitful discussion with a mainstream that does not share their assumptions. Here again, Farber and Sherry show that the end result of such thinking is not freedom but a kind of totalitarianism where dissent cannot be tolerated and only the naked will to power remains to settle differences. Sharply written and brilliantly argued, this book is itself a model of the kind of clarity, civility, and dispassionate critical thinking which the authors seek to preserve from the attacks of the radical multiculturalists. With far-reaching implications for such issues as government control of hate speech and pornography, affirmative action, legal reform, and the fate of all minorities, Beyond All Reason is a provocative contribution to one of the most important controversies of our time. (shrink)
Of the major modernist poets, T.S. Eliot received the most extended academic training in philosophy, yet it is Wallace Stevens whose work has been most scrutinized from a philosophical perspective. Attempting to highlight those salient features which facilitate or advance philosophical thought, I question whether there is a significant development (between his first volume of poetry, Harmonium , and his final volume, The Rock ), of Stevens’ philosophical voice. Continuing with an analysis of the most recent and influential attempts to (...) read Stevens’ poetry philosophically (Simon Critchley’s Things Merely Are , Stanley Cavell’s “Reflections on Wallace Stevens at Mount Holyoke”  and Gregory Brazeal’s “Wallace Stevens’ Philosophical Evasions” ), I argue that these readings raise interesting questions not only about philosophical poetry but about philosophical form as it is traditionally perceived. (shrink)
In light of recent writing on politics and violence within contemporary continental philosophy, this text revisits Derrida's frequently articulated philosophical opposition to the death penalty. This essay expresses dismay at a certain theoretical discourse today that finds within itself the resources to mount a defence from within the humanities of political violence and by extension an overt justification of the death penalty. Slavoj Žižek's essay on Robespierre is unpicked as one such representative text. It is contrasted to Derrida's scrupulous (...) reading of Kant as an advocate of the death penalty. This essay seeks to name and question a new Maoist, thanato-theological current in contemporary theoretical writing and should be considered as an opening salvo in a sustained future challenge to such thought. (shrink)
Spinoza uses the interpretation of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden to mount a biblical defense of the life devoted to intellectual pursuits. In his philosophic rereading of the biblical story, Spinoza follows the lead of Maimonides in the Guide to the Perplexed Part I, chapter 2. Both philosophers invoked the biblical text to lend authority to the view that moral consciousness, in contrast with the intellectual, marks a decline in the human condition. This paper explores Spinoza’s dependence (...) on the Maimonidean interpretation and also shows where Spinoza parts company with it, giving his own philosophical twist to the tale. (shrink)
The debate concerning the role of intuitions in philosophy has been characterized by a fundamental disagreement between two main camps. The first, the autonomists, hold that, due to the use in philosophical investigation of appeals to intuition, most of the central questions of philosophy can in principle be answered by philosophical investigation and argument without relying on the sciences. The second, the naturalists, deny the possibility of a priori knowledge and are skeptical of the role of intuition in providing evidence (...) in philosophical inquiry. In spite of the seemingly stark and deep disagreement between the autonomist and the naturalist, in this paper I will attempt to suggest that there is a way to mount a partial defense of intuition-based philosophical practice on naturalist grounds. As will be seen, doing so will require a number of concessions that will satisfy few autonomists while simultaneously disappointing those naturalists who might have thought that all notions of the a priori had been successfully laid to rest. However, I will argue that the account proposed here will preserve those features of traditional philosophical practice that matter most and better explain the history of successes and failures of that practice, thus answering the worries of the autonomist, and that the rejection of the No A Priori Thesis attendant with the account presented here is indeed demanded by the current theories of our best scientific understanding of the mind, thus pacifying the rabid naturalistic critic of any version of apriorism. (shrink)
According to a received doctrine, espoused, by Karl Popper and Harry Collins, and taken for granted by many others, poorly replicated evidence should be epistemically defective and incapable of persuading scientists to accept the views it is used to argue for. But John Hughlings Jackson used poorly replicated clinical and post-mortem evidence to mount rationally compelling and influential arguments for a highly progressive theory of the organization of the brain and its functions. This paper sets out a number of (...) Jackson's arguments from his evidence and argues that they constitute a counter example against the received doctrine. (shrink)
In this paper I take a closer look at Sextus Empiricus’ arguments in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism I.25-30 and try to make sense of his account of Skepticism as a goal-directed philosophy. I argue that Sextus fails to mount a convincing case for the view that tranquility, rather than suspension of judgment, is the ultimate goal of his inquiries.
After the publication of my book and various articles about comparative religious ethics, obstacles in the field's further development seemed to mount as swiftly as practical issues seemed to trumpet the need for global ethics more loudly. Driven by impatience, I wondered if I were fiddling in unending discussion while the planet burned. As others persevered and evolved productively in addressing developmental issues in the field directly, I began to work through the lens of a less direct, but complementary, (...) perspective: ideologies and critical thought. The following essay seeks to connect my parallel approach to ongoing obstacles and solutions within the prolific development of comparative religious ethics, especially its urgent pursuit of common moral grounds sufficient to support peaceful coexistence and living. (shrink)
The ethics of Wolfhart Pannenberg has a nomological dimension at its center. Based on the history of the natural law tradition, Pannenberg maintains the possibility of the natural law theory on the following five grounds. -/- The theological ground is his understanding of the Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Pauline interpretation of the law. For its historical ground, Pannenberg articulates the natural law theories of Patristic theology and the theologies of Troeltsch and Brunner. The ontological ground (...) is the order of the world, which God established in the process of history. The anthropological ground is the mutuality of human society. The latter two dimensions are related to the epistemological ground, which is based on the hermeneutics of universal history. -/- Pannenberg attempts to combine the law, the gospel, and love in relation to the Kingdom of God. Thus, Pannenberg’s Kingdom ethics is nomological as well as eschatological. (shrink)
In The Revenge of Gaia, James Lovelock provides a memorable description of what the future might hold for us in a world severely blighted by climate change. In this scenario the human population has been pushed to the high Northern latitudes: Meanwhile in the hot arid world survivors gather for the journey to the new Arctic centres of civilization; I see them in the desert as the dawn breaks and the sun throws its piercing gaze across the horizon at the (...) camp. The cool fresh night air lingers for a while and then, like smoke, dissipates as the heat takes charge. Their camel wakes, blinks and slowly rises on her haunches. The few remaining members of the tribe mount. She belches, and sets off on the long .. (shrink)