What is the appropriate division of power between public officials and private individuals? The straightforward answer to this question, it seems, is that an official should have a power if she employs it (morally) better compared to a private individual. However, Alon Harel argues that this answer is misguided, or at least partially, since there are some decisions—mainly concerning the employment of violence—that should be made and implemented only by public officials regardless of the (relative) moral quality of the (...) decision or action. In this comment I consider and criticize this argument. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine Heidegger’s critique of Hegel and to determine whether it is justified. Heidegger claims that Hegel tries to reduce everything to a single absolute entity, to the absolute knowing subject. The result is the identification of being and nothing, as Hegel formulates it at the beginning of his Logic. Hegel identifies being with nothing because being has no references, no predicates, no properties. Heidegger agrees with Hegel that being and nothing are the same, (...) but in completely different respects. They are the same because only entity actually exists, i.e. as an existent being. But Being itself does not exist, and should be conceived in an utterly different way from entity. And since Being cannot “be” it is a non-entity and therefore nothing. (shrink)
Based on a general thesis regarding the proper resolution of interpersonal conflicts, this paper suggests a normative framework for the distribution of scarce health resources. The proposed thesis includes two basic ideas. First, individual well-being is the fundamental value. Second, interpersonal conflicts affecting well-being should be resolved in light of several conceptions of fairness, reflecting the independent value of persons and the moral significance of responsibility of individuals for the existence of interpersonal conflicts. These ideas are elaborated in several principles (...) that are applied with respect to the distribution of scarce health resources. (shrink)
The paper considers a hierarchical theory that combines concern for two values: individual well-being – as a fundamental, first-order value – and (distributive) fairness – as a high-order value that its exclusive function is to complete the value of individual well-being by resolving internal clashes within it that occur in interpersonal conflicts. The argument for this unique conception of high-order fairness is that fairness is morally significant in itself only regarding what matters – individual well-being – and when it matters (...) – in interpersonal conflicts in which constitutive aspects of individual well-being clash. Consequently, the proposed theory is not exposed to claim that fairness comes at the expense of welfare. This theory is considered within a consequential framework, based on the standard version and, alternatively, on a novel interpretation of consequentialism. Thus, it refutes the claim that consequentialism does not take the distinction between persons seriously. (shrink)
Many think that equality is an intrinsic value. However, this view, especially when based on a consequential foundation, faces familiar objections related to the claim that equality is sometimes good for none and bad for some: most notably the levelling down objection. This article explores a unique (consequential) conception of equality, as part of a more general conception of fairness concerning the resolution of interpersonal conflicts, which is not exposed to these objections.
The article explores the Israeli Supreme Court main judgment regarding the legality of the use of special interrogation methods in order extract information concerning future acts of terror. The Judgment's main conclusion was that while there might be a justification for using exceptional interrogation measures in order to save lives, based on the concept of lesser evil as embedded in the criminal defense of necessity, the government is nevertheless not authorized to use such means in the absence of explicit legislation (...) to that effect. The article presents and evaluates the Judgment, particularly the relation between the substantive moral questions involved and the aspect of authorization. (shrink)
The essence of the moral luck question is whether the responsibility of persons is determined only in light of actions that are within their control or also in light of factors, such as the consequences of their actions, which are beyond their control. Most people seem to have contrasting intuitions regarding this question. On the one hand, there is a common intuition that the responsibility of persons should be judged only in light of what is within their control. On the (...) other hand, there is a strong intuition that the consequences of actions sometimes affect the responsibility of agents even when these consequences depend on factors that are beyond their control. A parallel dilemma is present in the law. Legal rules, particularly criminal law rules and tort rules, often differentiate between agents in light of factors that are beyond their control, and in this sense involve legal luck. Of course, factors beyond the control of persons, including the consequences of their actions, can be significant, with respect to the evaluation of the responsibility of persons for instrumental or epistemic reasons. The question is thus only with respect to the independent significance of factors beyond the control of agents, and particularly the consequences of actions, to the evaluation of the (extent of the) responsibility of agents. Benjamin Zipursky offers an interesting argument in order to support the intuition in favor of moral and legal luck, particularly with regard to consequences, especially the rule according to which the punishment of completed offences is more severe than the punishment of attempts and the rule that tort liability applies only to actions that have caused harm. The aim of this Comment is to evaluate this argument. I will try to consider to what extent Zipursky's explanation merely reiterates the familiar intuition that the normative evaluation of the conduct of persons should be influenced by consequential luck, and to what extent it provides new insights that might appeal also to those who are more forcefully drawn to the contrasting intuition that we should judge people only in light of factors that are within their control. I argue that while Zipursky's suggestions might appeal to those who already share the intuition in favor of (consequential) moral and legal luck, they would not convince those who have doubts regarding moral and legal luck. (shrink)
"Freedom of expression" is a complex notion that reflects various considerations and raises many questions related to their content and interaction. This paper is an abstract of a book that considers general aspects regarding the justification and the limits of freedom of expression and analyzes exiting law in light of this normative discussion. Particularly, it considers the way to determine the proper scope of freedom of expression; first-order and second-order considerations in favor and against freedom of expression, both in general (...) and regarding central specific kinds of expressions; and possible ways to normatively regulate the field of expressions - in particular to restrict expressions, primarily by law - and specifically the common view that subsequent punishment for an expression is generally preferable to prior restraint of an expression. (shrink)
According to a famous maxim, ignorance or mistake of law is no excuse. This maxim is supposed to represent both the standard and the proper rule of law. In fact, this maxim should be qualified in both respects: ignorance and mistake of law sometimes are, and (perhaps even more often) should be, excused. But this dual qualification only reinforces the fundamental and ubiquitous assumption which underlies the discussions of the subject, namely, that the only ground of exculpation relevant to ignorance (...) or mistake of law is excuse due to lack of (sufficient) culpability. The paper challenges this consensus. I argue that, according to the best conception of justification, ignorance and mistake, including ignorance and mistake of law, could be justified. Generally, ignorance and mistake are justified when based on a rational analysis of the information the agent has and should have. The conceptual possibility of justified ignorance or mistake is demonstrated mainly with respect to ignorance or mistake of law due to reliance on the guidance of public officials or private lawyers. (shrink)
The main aim of Jeff McMahan's manuscript on the morality of war is to answer the question: why and accordingly when is it justified or permissible to kill people in war? However, McMahan argues that the same principles apply to individual actions and to war. McMahan rejects all doctrines of collective responsibility and liability. His claim is that every individual is liable for what he has done and not for the actions of others - even if both are part of (...) the same collective. Accordingly, McMahan challenges the common view that it is much easier to justify killing in war compared to killing in other contexts. Therefore, the scope of his project exceeds the context of war and extends to interpersonal conflicts between individuals that do not qualify as war. Many of McMahan's main claims are appealing. Particularly, appealing is his rejection of the collectivist account of war. Indeed, it seems that the simple story according to which people are responsible solely for their actions - rather than (also) to the actions of others - should be held on until a different, more complex, account of collective responsibility is put forward and its plausibility is explained. Therefore, the article focuses on the general principles advocated by McMahan with regard to the resolution of all interpersonal conflicts: Whether these conflicts are small scale or large scale (that is, whether few or a many people are involved in the conflict), and within the latter category of conflicts involving many people, whether these conflicts qualify as war (according to some standard) or not. (shrink)
In several papers, I have argued for a theory of distributive justice and considered its implications. This theory includes a principle of responsibility that was endorsed by others within an account of defensive force (self-defense and defense of others). Whitley Kaufman criticizes this account which he refers to as the "distributive justice theory of self-defense" (DJ theory). In this paper, I respond to this criticism. I argue that Kaufman presents the theory inaccurately, that his standard of evaluation of the theory (...) is inadequate and that his claim that the theory should be rejected is unconvincing. (shrink)
One of the central normative questions regards a decision between conflicting moral values. A decision of this nature is often required in disciplines such as philosophy, economics and law. According to common terminology, a decision between conflicting values reflects a balance of values, considerations or interests. Several types of questions arise in this context. One category includes substantive questions: which values exist, which considerations should be derived from these values, what is the degree of importance of these considerations, and which (...) principles should be established for deciding between conflicting considerations? Another category includes institutional questions: which individual or body should decide normative questions, and should the normative nature of the decision be manifest or concealed? This paper is an abstract of a book that considers general aspects concerning these questions. (shrink)
The subject of this study is the justification for limiting negative expression directed at the government: its institutions and public officials, in order to preserve public faith in government. This paper is an abstract of a book that considers this question. The conclusion is that since the value of speech concerned with the performance of government is very high and the interest in protecting the status of government is limited and typically not substantial, there is generally no justification for legal (...) restrictions of this kind. (shrink)
The article explores the interaction of two, potentially clashing, considerations, each reflecting a different conception of fairness concerning the resolution of interpersonal conflicts. According to the Equal Chance Principle, the harm for each person should be minimized in a significant and (roughly) equal degree; when this is impossible, each person should be accorded the highest possible equal chance to avoid the harm. According to the Importance Principle, the danger to the person who would otherwise suffer the more serious harm should (...) be prevented. (shrink)
How should a democratic state fight terrorism? This is the question discussed by Michael Ignatieff in his latest book. Ignatieff explores several possible positions as a response to this question. The review considers the analysis of these positions.
The general assumption that underlines Richard Posner’s argument in his book Not a Suicide Pact is that decisions concerning rights and security in the context of modern terrorism should be made by balancing competing interests. This assumption is obviously correct if one refers to the most rudimentary sense of balancing, namely, the idea that normative decisions should be made in light of the importance of the relevant values and considerations. However, Posner advocates a more specific conception of balancing, both substantively (...) and institutionally. Substantiality, he argues for balancing based on a consequential moral theory that rejects the ideas of deontological rights and particularly absolute or very weighty deontological rights. More specifically, it seems that Posner assumes a utilitarian theory that also rejects intrinsic concern for distributive justice. Institutionally, Posner argues that this method of reasoning should be adopted by judges when interpreting the constitution. These substantive and institutional background assumptions are of course controversial, but I do not dispute them in this Article. My critique concerns Posner’s conclusions based on these assumptions. Posner’s main claim is that given the magnitude of the danger of modern terrorism, even a small probability that an act of terror may occur justifies extreme anti-terror measures. While the general idea that even a slight risk of very serious harm justifies significant cost is plausible, I doubt Posner’s assumptions regarding the cost of various means of preventing these dangers, his claim that judicial review in this context should be very limited, and his suggestion of an absolute formal prohibition that is not strictly enforced in the context of measures such as interrogational torture. (shrink)
Justificatory defenses apply to actions that are generally wrong and illegalâmainly since they harm peopleâwhen they are (exceptionally) justifiedâusually since they prevent (more serious) harm to others. A strict conception of justification limits justificatory defenses to actions that reflect all pertinent principles in the optimal manner. A more relaxed conception of justification applies (also) to actions that do not reflect all pertinent principles optimally due to (unjustified) mistake but are not too far from this optimum. In the paper, I consider (...) whether justificatory defenses should reflect the strict conception of justification or a more relaxed conception of justification. This question is important since often the relevant actions are not strictly justified, while the alternative of an excuse is frequently irrelevant or does not provide an appropriate solution. Reflection on this question raises the following dilemma: On the one hand, the strict interpretation seems too harsh, especially with regard to legal (particularly criminal) liability. On the other hand, it is difficult to explain the basis for a more relaxed conception of justification. I conclude, first, that justificationâand accordingly wrongfulnessâis a matter of degree and that the strictly justified action is merely the peak of a continuum, and, second, that a practical (negative) reaction is in place only with regard to actions whose wrongness is above a minimal threshold. (shrink)
There is a controversy as to the moral status of an action in the face of uncertainty concerning a non-moral fact that is morally significant (according to an applicable moral standard): According to the objective conception, the right action is determined in light of the truth, namely the actual state of affairs (regarding the pertinent fact), whereas according to the subjective conception, the right action depends on the epistemic state of the agent, namely her (justified) belief (concerning the pertinent fact). (...) A similar debate concerns the law, with respect to uncertainty regarding a legally significant fact. In this paper, I argue that moral and legal normative concepts are ambiguous and include two aspects: The ideal aspect, which is concerned with the constitutive feature of the normative standard, and the pragmatic aspect, which determines the correct action under uncertainty . With regard to each aspect, a different conception is appropriate: The objective conception should govern the ideal aspect and the subjective conception the pragmatic aspect. And the relevant aspect (and therefore the appropriate conception) depends on the question under consideration regarding the pertinent normative standard: what is its constitutive feature or whether an action is right (according to the applicable normative standard) in the face of uncertainty. (shrink)
In this comment I consider Jack Balkin’s general argument for his method of constitutional interpretation – the question of why interpret (the United States Constitution) in this way (as presented in his book Living Originalism). I contrast this question with the way in which the conclusion of this argument should be implemented with regard to specific clauses – the question of how to interpret (the United States Constitution). While the former question is concerned with the general form of the argument, (...) the latter is concerned with a substantiation of one premise in the argument. (shrink)
Discrimination is a central moral and legal concept. However, it is also a contested one. Particularly, accounts of the wrongness of discrimination often rely on controversial and particular assumptions. In this paper, I argue that a theory of discrimination that relies on premises that are general (rather than unique to the concept of discrimination) and widely accepted provides a plausible (exhaustive) account of the concept of wrongful discrimination. According to the combined theory, wrongful discrimination consists of allocating a benefit that (...) is not supported by a morally significant fact (a valid reason), or in a way that involves distributive injustice, or both. (shrink)
I am greatly honored that these four distinguished moral and legal theorists, who have all made substantial and important contributions to our understanding of the problems with which I am concerned in my book, have been willing to engage themselves so constructively with my arguments. The published book will be signiﬁcantly better, or less bad, as a result of my having had to address their challenges. I ﬁnd myself in substantial agreement with much of what each commentator has to say (...) and concede that on some points they have proven me wrong. But I am obstinate by nature, and perhaps a little obtuse, and thus am prepared to resist some of their suggestions, however sensible they may seem. (shrink)
A recent paper suggested that if Galilean covariance was extended to signals and interactions, the resulting theory would contain such anomalies as would have impelled physicists towards special relativity even without empirical prompts. I analyze this claim. Some so-called anomalies turn out to be errors. Others have classical analogs, which suggests that classical physicists would not have viewed them as anomalous. Still others, finally, remain intact in special relativity, so that they serve as no impetus towards this theory. I conclude (...) that Galilean covariance is insufficient to derive special relativity. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant's moral thesis is that reason alone must identify moral laws. Examining various interpretations of his ethics, this essay shows that the thesis fails. G. W. F. Hegel criticizes Kant's Formula of Universal Law as an empty formalism. Although Christine Korsgaard's Logical and Practical Contradiction Interpretations, Barbara Herman's contradiction in conception and contradiction in will tests, and Kenneth Westphal's paired use of Kant's universalization test all refute what Allen Wood calls a stronger form of the formalism charge, they are (...) not free from a weaker form of it. Some philosophers try to avoid both forms of the formalism charge in the following ways: First, some underline the roles of Kant's other formulas. Second, some interpret the Formula of Universal Law teleologically. Third, some claim that a maxim must be something all those potentially affected by it can rationally accept. Fourth, Robert Louden introduces the empirical to evaluate a maxim. All those attempts introduce heteronomy into Kant's ethics. Besides, on the third response, from the fact that all those potentially affected accept a maxim, it does not follow that it is morally right. It is impossible to avoid the formalism charge without making his ethics heteronomous. Thus, Kant's ethics is either empty or heteronomous. Either way it fails to identify moral laws by reason alone. (shrink)
Hume’s thesis that reason alone does not motivate is taken as the ground for this theory: Reason produces beliefs only, and beliefs are mere representations of fact, which, without passions for the objects the beliefs concern, cannot move anyone at all. Discussions of the Humean theory of motivation usually begin with the motivating passions in place without asking about their genesis. This emphasis, I think, overlooks a good deal of what Hume’s thesis concerning the motivational impotence of reason is about: (...) It concerns the incapacity of reason to generate the motivating passions in the first place, and not just the ineffectiveness of beliefs, without passions, to produce action. [...] In this paper, I will offer an interpretation of Hume's theory of motive formation and show how it provides crucial support for a famous claim in his argument against the moral rationalists[...]. As it turns out, reason does play a necessary role in motive formation even for Hume, but the answer why it is not sufficient is a telling difference between a rationalist moral psychology and Hume's. (shrink)
The concept of kaivalya (literally, 'aloneness') is of crucial importance to the systems of classical Indian philosophy known as Sākhya and Yoga. Indeed, kaivalya is the supreme soteriological goal to which these systems are directed. Various statements concerning this final goal appear in the classical texts - namely, the Sākhyakārikā and Yogastra - and yet there is no consensus within modern scholarship about how the concept is to be interpreted. More specifically, there appears to be a great deal of confusion (...) over the implications of kaivalya for the existence of the empirical world. In this article I discuss the principal difficulties encountered by existing interpretations of kaivalya, and propose that these difficulties result from an unwarranted assumption that Sākhya and Yoga take a realist view with regard to the empirical world. I further propose that these difficulties can, in large part, be overcome when the assumption of realism is set aside. (shrink)
Should society intervene to prevent the risky behavior of precocious teenagers even if it would be impermissible to intervene with adults who engage in the same risky behavior? The problem is well illustrated by the legal case of the 13-year-old Dutch girl Laura Dekker, who set out in 2009 to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone, succeeding in January 2012. In this paper we use her case as a point of entry for discussing the fundamental (...) question of how to demarcate childhood from adulthood. After summarizing the case, we identify a ‘demarcation dilemma’ that frames much of the public and expert debate. On the one hand, it seems morally imperative ‘to treat like alike’, which means that both children and adults should be allowed to undertake all actions for which they have the relevant competences. On the other hand, requiring proportional treatment of children and adults seems to neglect the special nature of childhood as a distinct stage in life that ends at a specific age. We introduce the notion of a ‘regime of childhood’ to deal with this problem. This regime includes several dimensions, including the limited liability for children, the supervisory responsibilities of parents, the role of age-based thresholds, and the overarching purpose of childhood as a context for developing autonomy. We argue that, all things considered, there are good reasons not to shift to a regime that offers individual children the option of qualifying for adulthood on the basis of age-neutral criteria. (shrink)
While no one seems to believe that business schools or their faculties bear entire responsibility for the ethical decision-making processes of their students, these same institutions do have some burden of accountability for educating students surrounding these skills. To that end, the standards promulgated by the Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business (AACSB), their global accrediting body, require that students learn ethics as part of a business degree. However, since the AACSB does not require the inclusion of a specific (...) course to achieve this objective, it may be satisfied by establishing a stand-alone course in ethical decision-making, by integrating ethical decision-making into the existing curricula, by some combination of the two strategies, or through some alternative mechanism. Notwithstanding the choice of delivery process, though, the institution must ensure that it is able to demonstrate the students’ achievement of learning with regard to ethics, a bar that was raised, or arguably simply modified, in 2003. With learning objectives designed precisely to measure the student delta based on content, process and engagement in a particular class, those programs that have opted for stand-alone ethics courses may be (though not necessarily are) more prepared to respond to assessment-related inquiries regarding their programs or satisfaction of the standards. The relevance of the AACSB standards modification to the current efforts at ethics integration in business programs is instead a re-examination of how to create a program of integration that is designed to ensure the most effective learning results possible, while responding to the challenges presented by the integrated approach. The purpose of this article is to explore some of those challenges that may be somewhat universal to business school programs implementing the integrated approach, and to share one large university’s response to those challenges, along with lessons learned. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that character alone grounds desert. I begin by arguing that desert is grounded by a person’s character, action, or both. In the second section, I defend the claim that character grounds desert. My argument rests on intuitions that other things being equal, it would be intrinsically better for virtuous persons to flourish and vicious persons suffer than vice versa. In the third section, I argue that actions do not ground desert. I give three arguments in (...) support of this claim. First, there is little intuitive support for this supposed ground and to the extent that there is support, it is undermined when we consider what causes character and acts to diverge. Second, this type of desert doesn’t fit with a unifying account of the different aspects of intrinsic value. Third, the most plausible version of act-based desert leaves it unclear why acts should ground desert. (shrink)
Certainty: a contemporary question -- Beginnings: questions and debates in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries -- Abba Father: the certainty of salvation -- The spiritual man judges all things: the certainty of exegetical authority -- Are you alone wise?: the Catholic response -- Experientia: the great age of the Spirit -- Unmasking the angel of light: the discernment of the spirits -- Men should be what they seem: appearances and reality.
Using testosterone alone as a measure of dominance presents problems, especially when dominance is loosely defined to include a range of behaviors that may arise from multiple causes. Testosterone should be examined in relation to other hormonal and neurotransmitter factors, such as serotonin. Various hypotheses about the relationship between high and low levels of testosterone with serotonin and with impulse control are suggested for future study.
How did the concept of language come to dominate modern intellectual history? In Language Alone , Geoffrey Galt Harpham provides at once the most comprehensive survey and most telling critique of the pervasive role of language in modern thought. He shows how thinkers in such diverse fields as philosophy, psychoanalysis, anthropology, and literary theory have made progress by referring their most difficult theoretical problems to what they presumed were the facts of language. Through a provocative reassessment of major thinkers on (...) the idea of language-Saussure, Wittgenstein, Derrida, Rorty, and Chomsky, among them-and detailed accounts of the discourses of ethics and ideology in particular, Harpham demonstrates a remarkable consensus among intellectuals of the past century and beyond that philosophical and other problems can best be understood as linguistic problems. And furthermore, that a science of language can therefore illuminate them. Conspicuously absent from this consensus, he shows, is any consideration of contemporary linguistics, or any awareness of the growing agreement among linguists that the nature of language as such cannot be known. Ultimately, Harpham argues, the thought of language has dominated modern intellectual history because of its singular capacity to serve as a proxy for a host of concerns, questions, and anxieties-our place in the order of things, our rights and obligations, our nature or essence-that resist a strictly rational formulation. Language Alone will interest literary critics, philosophers, and anyone with an interest in the uses of language in contemporary thought. (shrink)
Isolation in the back-country: George Chamier, G.B. Lancaster, Katherine Mansfield, John Mulgan, and Graham Billing -- Outsiders and misfits in fragmented social milieux: William Satchell, Vincent Pyke, John A. Lee, Robin Hyde, Frank Sargeson, and others -- The lonely and the alone in the fiction of Janet Frame -- Maurice Gee and postmodern isolation -- Women, isolation, and history: Fiona Kidman, Noel Hilliard, and Patricia Grace -- Cultural deracination and isolation: Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme, and Alan Duff.
Tied to the apron strings of the church -- Researcher, teacher, philosopher -- Philosophical discourse -- Interpretation, objectivity and nonsense -- Unitary experience and philosophical life -- Philosophical discourse as spiritual exercise -- Philosophy as life and as a quest for wisdom -- From Socrates to Foucault : a long tradition -- Inacceptable? -- The present alone is our happiness.
Includes an overview of data on the representation of women authors in seven journals in philosophy (Ethics, Journal of Philosophy, Mind, Nous, Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophy and Public Affairs). See also: http://web.mit.edu/sgrp following the link “Materials concerning women and minorities in philosophy” for more materials on this topic.
author. University Professor in the School of Law, Columbia University. (From July 2006, Professor of Law, New York University.) Earlier versions of this Essay were presented at the Colloquium in Legal and Social Philosophy at University College London, at a law faculty workshop at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at a constitutional law conference at Harvard Law School. I am particularly grateful to Ronald Dworkin, Ruth Gavison, and Seana Shiffrin for their formal comments on those occasions and also to (...) James Allan, Aharon Barak, Richard Bellamy, Aileen Cavanagh, Arthur Chaskalson, Michael Dorf, Richard Fallon, Charles Fried, Andrew Geddis, Stephen Guest, Ian Haney-Lopez, Alon Harel, David Heyd, Sam Issacharoff, Elena Kagan, Kenneth Keith, Michael Klarman, John Manning, Andrei Marmor, Frank Michelman, Henry Monaghan, Véronique Munoz-Dardé, John Morley, Matthew Palmer, Richard Pildes, Joseph Raz, Carol Sanger, David Wiggins, and Jo Wolff for their suggestions and criticisms. Hundreds of others have argued with me about this issue over the years: This Essay is dedicated to all of them, collegially and with thanks. (shrink)
Abstract: According to deflationism, grasp of the concept of truth consists in nothing more than a disposition to accept a priori (non-paradoxical) instances of the schema:(DS) It is true that p if and only if p.According to contextualism, the same expression with the same meaning might, on different occasions of use, express different propositions bearing different truth-conditions (where this does not result from indexicality and the like). On this view, what is expressed in an utterance depends in a non-negligible way (...) on the circumstances. Charles Travis claims that contextualism shows that ‘deflationism is a mistake’, that truth is a more substantive notion than deflationism allows. In this paper, I examine Travis's arguments in support of this ‘inflationary’ claim and argue that they are unsuccessful. (shrink)
"Henry Corbin's works are the best guide to the visionary tradition.... Corbin, like Scholem and Jonas, is remembered as a scholar of genius. He was uniquely equipped not only to recover Iranian Sufism for the West, but also to defend the principal Western traditions of esoteric spirituality."--From the introduction by Harold Bloom Ibn 'Arabi (1165-1240) was one of the great mystics of all time. Through the richness of his personal experience and the constructive power of his intellect, he made a (...) unique contribution to Shi'ite Sufism. In this book, which features a powerful new preface by Harold Bloom, Henry Corbin brings us to the very core of this movement with a penetrating analysis of Ibn 'Arabi's life and doctrines. Corbin begins with a kind of spiritual topography of the twelfth century, emphasizing the differences between exoteric and esoteric forms of Islam. He also relates Islamic mysticism to mystical thought in the West. The remainder of the book is devoted to two complementary essays: on "Sympathy and Theosophy" and "Creative Imagination and Creative Prayer." A section of notes and appendices includes original translations of numerous Su fi treatises. Harold Bloom's preface links Sufi mysticism with Shakespeare's visionary dramas and high tragedies, such as The Tempest and Hamlet . These works, he writes, intermix the empirical world with a transcendent element. Bloom shows us that this Shakespearean cosmos is analogous to Corbin's "Imaginal Realm" of the Sufis, the place of soul or souls. (shrink)
(2) There is signiﬁcant cultural variation in the way people reason, categorize, and react to various aspects of the world. A proper understanding of such variation has implications for theories about human nature – and cognitive architecture – and its malleability. In turn, these theories have implications for theories about the status and generalisability of psychological explanations (see Nisbett 2003), for theories about the extent to which social engineering and social reform is possible (see Singer 2000), etc.
Key words: Boyd, cognition, cultural evolution, culture, Richerson. Abstract: We argue that there is a continuum of cases without any demarcation between more individual and more cultural information, and that therefore “culture” should be viewed as a property that human mental representations and practices exhibit to a varying degree rather than as a type or a subclass of these representations and practices (or of “information”). We discuss the relative role of preservative and constructive processes in transmission. We suggest a revision (...) of Richerson and Boyd’s classification of the forces of cultural evolution. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that the primary issue in Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy, Part II, articles 1-40, is the problem of individuating bodies. We demonstrate that Descartes departs from the traditional quest for a principle of individuation, moving to a different strategy with the more modest aim of constructing bodies adequate to the needs of his cosmology. In doing this he meets with a series of difficulties, and this is precisely the challenge that Newton took up. We show that (...) Descartes’ questions and his strategy influenced not only Newton’s account of physical bodies, but also the structure of his mechanics. (shrink)
Nelson Goodman argued that the pictorial relation is reducible to reference. After explaining why previous attempts to refute this thesis of reduction have failed, I argue that in order to show that the thesis is indeed wrong we must find an aspect of pictures that is incompatible with it. I proceed to argue that there is indeed such an element to pictures. Ordinarily, a picture depicts its subject as having aesthetic properties. I show that the depiction of these properties requires (...) the picture’s engagement of our aesthetic judgement. Yet if according to the thesis of reduction a picture refers to these aesthetic properties, they must be inaccessible to aesthetic judgement, because reference is based on arbitrary correlation rules. Since pictures do engage our aesthetic judgement, we must conclude that the pictorial relation is irreducible to reference. (shrink)
Recent research in the cognitive science of religion suggests that humans intuitively believe that others survive death. In response to this finding, three cognitive theories have been offered to explain this: the simulation constraint theory (Bering, 2002); the imaginative obstacle theory (Nichols, 2007); and terror management theory (Pyszczynski, Rothschild, & Abdollahi, 2008). First, I provide a critical analysis of each of these theories. Second, I argue that these theories, while perhaps explaining why one would believe in his own personal immortality, (...) leave an explanatory gap in that they do not explain why one would intuitively attribute survival of death to others. To fill in the gap, I offer a cognitive theory based on offline social reasoning and social embodiment which provides for the belief in an eternal social realm in which the deceased survive?the afterlife. (shrink)
Contemporary versions of Bell’s argument against local hidden variable (LHV) theories are based on the Clauser Horne Shimony and Holt (CHSH) inequality, and various attempts to generalize it. The amount of violation of these inequalities cannot exceed the bound set by the Grothendieck constants. However, if we go back to the original derivation by Bell, and use the perfect anticorrelation embodied in the singlet spin state, we can go beyond these bounds. In this paper we derive two-particle Bell inequalities for (...) traceless two-outcome observables, whose violation in the singlet spin state go beyond the Grothendieck constant both for the two and three dimensional cases. Moreover, creating a higher dimensional analog of perfect correlations, and applying a recent result of Alon and his associates (Invent. Math. 163 499 (2006)) we prove that there are two-particle Bell inequalities for traceless two-outcome observables whose violation increases to in…nity as the dimension and number of measurements grow. Technically these result are possible because perfect correlations (or anti-correlations) allow us to transport the indices of the inequality from the edges of a bipartite graph to those of the complete graph. Finally, it is shown how to apply these results to mixed Werner states, provided that the noise does not exceed 20%. (shrink)
For a biological anthropologist interested in the prehistory of religion, J. Wentzel van Huyssteen's book is welcome and resonant. Van Huyssteen's central thesis is that humans' capacity for spirituality emerges from a transformation of cognition and emotions that takes place in the symbolic realm, within Homo sapiens and apart from biology. To his thesis I bring to bear three areas of response: the abundant cognitive and emotional capacities of living apes and extinct hominids; the role of symbolic ritual in the (...) evolutionary history of Homo sapiens; and the closely intertwined nature of biology and culture in the workings of evolutionary change. (shrink)
What is it for a picture to be more realistic, or more depictive, than another? Without committing to any thesis as to what depiction consists in, I show that degrees of depictiveness are grounded in a certain relation between two basic kinds of differences between pictures: configurational differences and content differences. A picture is thus more depictive just in case it is seen as having fewer nondepictive features, whereas a nondepictive feature is individuated through the susceptibility of the picture's configuration (...) to change without entailing any change in the picture's content. (shrink)
All existing impossibility theorems on judgment aggregation require individual and collective judgment sets to be consistent and complete (in some recent results with completeness relaxed to deductive closure), arguably a demanding rationality requirement. They do not carry over to aggregation functions mapping pro…les of (merely) consistent individual judgment sets to (merely) consistent collective ones. We prove that, whenever the agenda of propositions under consideration exhibits mild interconnections, any such aggregation function that is "neutral" between the acceptance and rejection of each (...) proposition is dictatorial. We relate this theorem to the literature. (shrink)
Our essay examines Levinas's ideas of time and their relation to his ethical discourse. We read 'his' texts deconstructively and show how the notions of time and of the ethical are closely inter connected. We argue that Levinas deconstructs the concept of time, as it is traditionally developed by Western philosophy, and that this concept is part and parcel of and cannot be detached from his philo sophical venture. By following two major shibboleths, jouissance and language, we trace the deconstructive (...) effort of Levinas to dismantle Western philosophy's traditional conceptualization of time. Our dis cussion points not to the failure of Levinas's toil but rather to the aporetic structure of his itinerary and to the ethical significance of this aporia. Key Words: aporia deconstruction eternal instant recurrence time. (shrink)
In an era in which certain arenas of scientific research have become increasingly controversial, this article critically evaluates what it means to “believe in science.” Many scientists today seem to claim a sovereign right to no political interference under the rubric of freedom. This article questions such a notion, and explores the dominance of science and the silencing of moral voices by undertaking two brief investigations—the first into National Socialist Germany, which insisted that it was defined by “applied biology,” and (...) the second into the world of contemporary American biomedicine. When all ethical barriers are eradicated, it seems that a will to power takes over—manifested in Nazi Germany’s vaunted scientific autonomy. In light of these sobering historical examples, this article reminds the reader that members of the public, including physicians, rightly deliberate about how to conscientiously order their lives together, and that part of that instrinsically political deliberation is to set limits to the ways medical science is applied and what scientists may do in pursuit of their goals. (shrink)
Bering's analysis is inadequate because it fails to consider past and present adult soul beliefs and the psychological functions they serve. We suggest that a valid folk psychology of souls must consider features of adult soul beliefs, the unique problem engendered by awareness of death, and terror management findings, in addition to cognitive inclinations toward dualistic and teleological thinking.
The state regulates the way in which social power is exercised. It sometimes permits, enables, constrains, forbids how we may touch others, make offers, draw up contracts, use, alter, possess and destroy things that matter to people, manipulate, induce weakness of the will, coerce, engage in physical force, persuade, selectively divulge information, lie, enchant, coax, convince, … In each of these cases, we (sometimes unintentionally) get others to act in ways that serve our interests. Which such exercises of power should (...) the state forbid? Which should it permit? An intuitively appealing way to answer this question is, with Ripstein and Kant, to point to the role of freedom: exercises of social power can be legitimately prohibited when (and only when) they restrict people's freedom. But this raises a further question: How do we identify when such exercises of power make people unfree in the relevant sense? Ripstein, in defending Kant, draws a crucial distinction between actions that subject others’ wills to our choices (and which it would therefore be presumptively legitimate for the state to forbid) and actions that merely affect the contexts in which others act (and which it would therefore be presumptively illegitimate for the state to forbid). I query that distinction, and argue that the idea of independence cannot bear, on its own, the weight it is expected to bear within the Kantian framework. (shrink)
One important lesson of Roberts' target article may be potentially obscured for some by the title's reference to “self-experimentation.” At the core of this work, the key investigative resource is sustained and systematic observation, not experimentation, and it is deployed in a fashion not necessarily restricted to self-examination. There is an important reminder here of a strategically important, but neglected, relationship between observation and experiment.
Client participation in elderly care organizations requires shifting traditional power relations and establishing communicative action that involves the lifeworlds of clients and professionals alike. This article describes a particular form of client participation in which one client was part of a team of professionals in a residential care home. Their joint remit was to plan the implementation of a new personal care file for residents. We describe the interactions within this team through an ethnodrama, based on participant observations and the (...) embodied presence of the researcher (first author). The narratives and voices of all team members are dramatized in this ethnodrama. Throughout the project the team members experienced confusion relating to the confrontation between lifeworld and system, as experienced by the client and professionals in the team. We analyze these tensions by making use of a Habermasian theoretical framework. We conclude that forms for collective client participation in residential care homes should be developed based on communicative action between clients and professionals, with room for emotional engagement. (shrink)
This paper argues that the primary task of legal theory should be to pursue the responsiveness of a legal system to the moral life of a community. However, the pursuit of such an aim cannot appeal merely or even dominantly to the short-term motivational structures of individuals - as is dominantly the case in contemporary legal theory. What is required, instead, is appeal to long-term learning structures. This paper introduces the notion of long-term learning structures by reference to the work (...) of John Dewey. It supplements Dewey's account by reference to two further principles of moral education: first, developing the recognition of vulnerability, and second, fostering respect for difference. Having provided an account of moral education, the paper goes on to consider its relationship to the pursuit of a socially just legal system. The paper does so primarily by reference to the work of Philip Selznick and Roger Cotterrell, calling in essence for the revival of pedagogically-informed communitarian jurisprudence. (shrink)
The following commentaries are responses to the rough drafts of six lectures — the Hourani Lectures—that I delivered at the University of Buffalo in November of 2006. This draft manuscript is being extensively revised and expanded for publication by Oxford University Press as a book called The Morality and Law of War. Even though in January 2007 the book was still both unpolished and incomplete, David Enoch at that time generously organized a workshop at the Law School of the Hebrew (...) University of Jerusalem to discuss its ideas and arguments. George Fletcher chaired the meeting and Re’em Segev, Yuval Shany, and Noam Zohar all presented superb commentaries. The following papers have all grown out of that memorable occasion. (shrink)
In recent years a number of writers have maintained that law can usefully be illuminated by game theory. Some believe that game theory can provide guidance in formulating rules for dealing with speciﬁc problems. Others advance the philosophically ambitious contention that we can gain a better understanding and/or appreciation of law by seeing it in terms of game-theoretic ideas. My purpose in this article is to examine some claims of the latter sort, and in particular to ask how distant law (...) can be from the assumptions of game theory and still be informed by it. Models are not expected to ﬁt precisely what they model, but at some point the deviation is too great and there is a failure to illuminate. (shrink)
How selfish are human beings, really? It's a perennially fascinating question. In ancient Athens, if Plato is to be believed, Socrates debated it with Glaucon, who maintained that if only we could get away with it, we would all rob and kill to achieve our own ends. Socrates argued that only ignorance of the real nature of justice could lead a person to do that.
Christian solitude -- Bounded solitude in Augustine's Confessions -- The humanist tradition : Petrarch, Montaigne, and Gibbon -- Rousseau's myth of solitude in reveries of the solitary walker -- Thoreau at Walden : soliloquizing and talking to all the universe at the same time -- Twentieth-century varieties of solitary experience -- Thomas Merton and solitude : the door to solitude opens only from the inside -- Solitude, writing, and fathers in Paul Auster's The invention of solitude -- Conclusion: The value (...) of solitude. (shrink)
Pulvermüller traces the differences in brain activity associated with function and content words. The model considers words displayed primarily in isolation. Research on letter detection suggests that what distinguishes function from content words are their roles in text. Hence a model that fails to consider context effects on the processing of words provides an insufficient accounting of word representation in the brain.
The hypothesis that perceptual mechanisms could have more representational and logical power than usually assumed is interesting and provocative, especially with regard to brain evolution. However, the importance of embodiment and grounding is exaggerated, and the implication that there is no highly abstract representation at all, and that human-like knowledge cannot be learned or represented without human bodies, is very doubtful. A machine-learning model, Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) that closely mimics human word and passage meaning relations is offered as a (...) counterexample. (shrink)