Ben Berger seeks to provide a number of “modest proposals” intended to prevent widespread and radical political disengagement among citizens. This is the most adverse manifestation of citizens’ invariable “attention deficit,” or their incapacity to maintain the focus and energy necessary to remain deeply and perpetually politically engaged. While attention deficit cannot be overcome, its worst effects can be kept enduringly in check, Berger argues. This is a necessary condition for the maintenance of a functional democracy. Yet I argue that (...) democracy in America, which is Berger’s particular focus, has not endured and for reasons that relate only indirectly to attention deficit. While certain of his prescriptions are worthy of endorsement, how to implement them must be put into a context that more accurately reflects the current character of the political landscape. (shrink)
Many proponents of deliberative democracy expect reasonable citizens to engage in rational argumentation. However, this expectation runs up against findings by behavioral economists and social psychologists revealing the extent to which normal cognitive functions are influenced by bounded rationality. Individuals regularly utilize an array of biases in the process of making decisions, which inhibits our argumentative capacities by adversely affecting our ability and willingness to be self-critical and to give due consideration to others’ interests. Although these biases cannot be overcome, (...) I draw on scientifically corroborated insights offered by Adam Smith to show that they can be kept in check if certain affective and cognitive capacities are cultivated. Smith provides a compelling account of how to foster sympathetic, impartial, and projective role-taking in the process of interacting with others, which can greatly enhance our capacity and willingness to critically assess our own interests and fairly consider those of others. (shrink)
Stephen Carter argues that biblical literalism is predicated on an epistemological position drastically different than that maintained by mainstream scientists inasmuch as it operates on the basis of a “hermeneutic of inerrancy” with respect to the ideas laid out in the Bible. By relying on considerations offered by Charles Taylor and recent sociological studies, I contend that Carter’s thesis is incorrect. The divide between proponents and opponents of biblical literalism is ethical rather than epistemological. Beyond the philosophical implications of my (...) contention, this displays that deliberative engagement between these parties—which depends on shared epistemological norms—is possible in principle. (shrink)
Cross-situational learning is a mechanism for learning the meaning of words across multiple exposures, despite exposure-by-exposure uncertainty as to the word's true meaning. We present experimental evidence showing that humans learn words effectively using cross-situational learning, even at high levels of referential uncertainty. Both overall success rates and the time taken to learn words are affected by the degree of referential uncertainty, with greater referential uncertainty leading to less reliable, slower learning. Words are also learned less successfully and more slowly (...) if they are presented interleaved with occurrences of other words, although this effect is relatively weak. We present additional analyses of participants’ trial-by-trial behavior showing that participants make use of various cross-situational learning strategies, depending on the difficulty of the word-learning task. When referential uncertainty is low, participants generally apply a rigorous eliminative approach to cross-situational learning. When referential uncertainty is high, or exposures to different words are interleaved, participants apply a frequentist approximation to this eliminative approach. We further suggest that these two ways of exploiting cross-situational information reside on a continuum of learning strategies, underpinned by a single simple associative learning mechanism. (shrink)
We agree that language adapts to the brain, but we note that language also has to adapt to brain-external constraints, such as those arising from properties of the cultural transmission medium. The hypothesis that Christiansen & Chater (C&C) raise in the target article not only has profound consequences for our understanding of language, but also for our understanding of the biological evolution of the language faculty.
This article explores how neutralisation can explain people's lack of commitment to buying Fair Trade (FT) products, even when they identify FT as an ethical concern. It examines the theoretical tenets of neutralisation theory and critically assesses its applicability to the purchase of FT products. Exploratory research provides illustrative examples of neutralisation techniques being used in the FT consumer context. A conceptual framework and research propositions delineate the role of neutralisation in explaining the attitude-behaviour discrepancies evident in relation to consumers' (...) FT purchase behaviour, providing direction for further research that will generate new knowledge of consumers' FT purchase behaviour and other aspects of ethical consumer behaviour. (shrink)
: The processes associated with globalization have reinforced and even increased prevailing conditions of inequality among human beings with respect to their political, economic, cultural, and social opportunities. Yet—or perhaps precisely because of this trend—there has been, within political philosophy, an observable tendency to question whether equality in fact should be treated a as central value within a theory of justice. In response, I examine a number of nonegalitarian positions to try to show that the concept of equality cannot be (...) dispensed with in any adequate consideration of justice. (shrink)
: My contribution intends to show that the traditional philosophical concept of work (Marx, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marcuse, Arendt, Habermas, and the rest) leaves out a crucial dimension. Work is reduced, for example, to the interaction with nature, the problem of recognition, or economic self-preservation. But work also establishes an ethical relation having to do with the needs of others and to the common good—a view of work that should be of particular interest for feminist and gender philosophy. This dimension makes (...) visible, as socially necessary work, the so-called reproductive sphere pertaining to giving birth and raising children, but it also generalizes the aspect of care, which plays a significant role in traditional woman's work. The ethical relation to the other is a characteristic feature of human work and in this sense, the possibility of working is a part of a good life. (shrink)
Research into child language reveals that it takes a long time for children to learn the correct mapping of colour words. Steels & Belpaeme's (S&B's) guessing game, however, models fast learning of words. We discuss computational studies based on cross-situational learning, which yield results that are more consistent with the empirical child language data than those obtained by S&B.
One of the most significant cultural achievements of Late Antiquity lies in the domains of philosophy and religion, more particularly in the establishment and development of Neoplatonism as one of the chief vehicles of thought and subsequent channel for the transmission of ancient philosophy to the medieval and renaissance worlds. Important, too, is the emergence of a distinctive Christian philosophy and theology based on a foundation of Greek pagan thought. This book provides an introduction to the main ideas of Neoplatonism (...) and some of the ways in which they influenced Christian thinkers. (shrink)
In recent writings, both John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas address how to ensure that all reasonable citizens have the capacity to live a good life when there exist in modern society a wide variety of competing conceptions thereof. Yet, according to James Bohman, both thinkers in fact fail to resolve this “dilemma of the good.” He offers a deliberative conception of democracy intended to make up for their shortcomings. I argue, however, that Bohman’s conception covertly relies upon moderately perfectionist values (...) that cause him to fall prey to what Bert van den Brink calls the “tragic predicament” of liberalism: he cannot articulate howa resolution to the dilemma of the good can (seem to) be achieved without defending ideals that let some doctrines of the good life appear more worthy of state promotion than others. But far from undermining Bohman’s conception, explicit acknowledgement of his moderate perfectionism can, ironically, serve to strengthen it. (shrink)
I here argue against the viability of Peter Ludlow’s modified version of Paul Boghossian’s argument for the incompatibility of semantic externalism and authoritative self-knowledge. Ludlow contends that slow switching is not merely actual but is, moreover, prevalent; it can occur whenever we shift between localized linguistic communities. It is therefore quite possible, he maintains, that we undergo unwitting shifts in our mental content on a regular basis. However, there is good reason to accept as plausible that despite their prevalence we (...) are in fact able to readily adapt to such switches, as well as to the shifts in mental content that accompany them. The prevalence of slow switching between linguistic communities does not then necessarily entail incompatibility after all. (shrink)
Applying ideas drawn from contemporary critical theory, this book historicizes psychoanalysis through a new and significant theorization of the Gothic. The central premise is that the nineteenth-century Gothic produced a radical critique of accounts of sublimity and Freudian psychoanalysis. This book makes a major contribution to an understanding of both the nineteenth century and the Gothic discourse which challenged the dominant ideas of that period. Writers explored include Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Bram Stoker.
This essay reports on phenomenological research conducted with people who describe having been harassed, having been accused of harassment, and/or having mediated or adjudicated harassment disputes. The authors review recent legal conceptions of sexual harassment and articulate a methodology for analyzing individual narrative accounts. The analysis of six selected interviews (three alleged harassers and three declared harassees) depicts how, through discourse with others, persons in ambiguous cases of harassment come to perceive themselves as harassers or harasseesgradually, how intention is inferred (...) from conductcontingently, and how perceptions and expressions are often reified as certainties in the effort to secure some sense of justiceinstitutionally. (shrink)