The context for these interviews was a seminar [Peter Gratton] conducted on speculative realism in the Spring 2010. There has been great interest in speculative realism and one reason Gratton surmise[s] is not just the arguments offered, though [Gratton doesn't] want to take away from them; each of these scholars are vivid writers and great pedagogues, many of whom are in constant contact with their readers via their weblogs. Thus these interviews provided an opportunity to forward student questions about their (...) respective works. Though each were conducted on different occasions, the interviews stand as a collected work, tying together the most classical questions about “realism” to ancillary movements about the non-human in politics, ecology, aesthetics, and video gaming—all to point to future movements in this philosophical area. (shrink)
This paper is a revised and extended version of a keynote contribution to a recent conference on Cognitive Informatics. It offers a brief summary of some of the core concerns of other contributions to the conference, highlighting the range of issues under discussion; and argues that many of the central concepts and preoccupations of cognitive informatics as understood by participants--and others in the general field of computation--rely on ill-founded realist assumptions, and what has been termed the functionalist view of representation. (...) Even if such ideas--albeit in a revised form -- can be defended, there must be a more extensive engagement with the literature and issues outside the confines of the computing and computational orthodoxy. (shrink)
The emotional traumas news photographers experience are not often discussed outside the newsroom. Here professional newspaper photographer Garry Bryant offers a personal testimonial on the effects his job has had on him, as well as on the public. The excitement and drama of shooting spot news at accidents and disasters have caused a certain dulling of the senses, but on the other hand have heightened Bryant's awareness of the importance of his work. A variety of Bryant's favorite (...) photos illustrate this article, capturing the range of the human condition. (shrink)
Since Kant, philosophy has been obsessed with epistemological questions pertaining to the relationship between mind and world and human access to objects. In The Democracy of Objects Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy. Drawing on the object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman, as well as the thought Roy Bhaskar, Gilles Deleuze, Niklas Luhman, Aristotle, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour and the developmental systems theorists, Bryant develops a realist (...) ontology that he calls “onticology”. This ontology argues that being is composed entirely of objects, properties, and relations such that subjects themselves are a variant of objects. By way of systems theory and cybernetics, Bryant argues that objects are dynamic systems that relate to the world under conditions of operational closure. In this way, he integrates the most vital discoveries of the anti-realists within a realist ontology that does justice to both the material and cultural. Onticology proposes a flat ontology where objects of all sorts and at different scales equally exist without being reducible to other objects and where there are no transcendent entities such as eternal essences outside of dynamic interactions among objects. This work will be of great interest to Continental philosophers, ecologists, cultural theorists, media theorists, and those following recent developments in the thought of speculative realists. (shrink)
From one end of his philosophical work to the other, Gilles Deleuze consistently described his position as a transcendental empiricism. But just what is transcendental about Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism? And how does his position fit with the traditional empiricism articulated by Hume? In Difference and Givenness , Levi Bryant addresses these long-neglected questions so critical to an understanding of Deleuze’s thinking. Through a close examination of Deleuze’s independent work--focusing especially on Difference and Repetition-- as well as his engagement with (...) thinkers such as Kant, Mai;mon, Bergson, and Simondon, Bryant sets out to unearth Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism and to show how it differs from transcendental idealism, absolute idealism, and traditional empiricism. What emerges from these efforts is a metaphysics that strives to articulate the conditions for real existence, capable of accounting for the individual itself without falling into conceptual or essentialist abstraction. In Bryant’s analysis, Deleuze’s metaphysics articulates an account of being as process or creative individuation based on difference, as well as a challenging critique--and explanation--of essentialist substance ontologies. A clear and powerful discussion of how Deleuze’s project relates to two of the most influential strains in the history of philosophy, this book will prove essential to anyone seeking to understand Deleuze’s thought and its specific contribution to metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
Why are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) so successful in today’s world? How do they empower themselves? This insightful book provides important new perspectives on the strategic thinking of NGOs, the way they identify themselves, and how they behave. Raymond L. Bryant develops a novel theoretical perspective around the concept of moral capital and assesses that concept through in-depth case studies of NGOs in the Philippines. The book’s focus is on perceptions of NGOs as moral and altruistic and how such perceptions (...) can translate into social power. Bryant examines the ambiguous qualities of NGO strategizing, the ways in which the quest for moral capital is bedeviled by the need to compromise with political and economic elites, and the possibilities for NGOs to achieve political goals as moral leaders. (shrink)
The use of expressions like ‘concepts of consciousness’, ‘kinds of consciousness’, and ‘meanings of ‘consciousness’’ interchangeably is ubiquitous within the consciousness literature. It is argued that this practice can be made sense of in only two ways. The first involves interpreting ‘concepts of consciousness’ and ‘kinds of consciousness’ metalinguistically to mean concepts expressed by ‘consciousness’ and kinds expressed by ‘consciousness’; and the second involves certain literal, though semantically deviant, interpretations of those expressions. The trouble is that researchers typically use the (...) above expressions interchangeably without satisfying either way of doing so coherently. The result is much error and confusion, which is demonstrated in the works of philosophers currently writing on consciousness. (shrink)
Intuitively it has seemed to many that our concepts "conscious state" and "conscious creature" are sharp rather than vague, that they can have no borderline cases. On the other hand, many who take conscious states to be identical to, or realized by, complex physical states are committed to the vagueness of those concepts. In the paper I argue that "conscious state" and "conscious creature" are sharp by presenting four necessary conditions for conceiving borderline cases in general, and showing that some (...) of those conditions cannot be met with "conscious state." I conclude that "conscious state" is sharp, and the conclusion is then extended to "conscious creature." The paper ends with a brief discussion of some implications. (shrink)
An argument is offered for this conditional: If our current concept conscious state is sharp rather than vague, and also correct (at least in respect of its sharpness), then common versions of familiar metaphysical theories of consciousness are false--?namely versions of the identity theory, functionalism, and dualism that appeal to complex physical or functional properties in identification, realization, or correlation. Reasons are also given for taking seriously the claim that our current concept conscious state is sharp. The paper ends by (...) surveying the theoretical options left open by the concept's sharpness and the truth of the conditional argued for in the paper. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that ‘consciousness’ (and its cognates) is multiply ambiguous within the consciousness literature. Some alleged senses of the term are access consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, state consciousness, creature consciousness, introspective consciousness, self consciousness, to name a few. In the paper I argue for two points. First, there are few if any good reasons for thinking that such alleged senses are genuine: ‘consciousness’ is best viewed as univocal within the literature. The second point is that researchers would do best (...) to avoid the semantics of ‘consciousness’, since resorting to “semantic ascent” typically serves no clear purpose in the case of consciousness, and confuses matters more than anything else. (shrink)
Illusions are thought to make trouble for the intuition that perceptual experience is "open" to the world. Some have suggested, in response to the this trouble, that illusions differ from veridical experience in the degree to which their character is determined by their engagement with the world. An understanding of the psychology of perception reveals that this is not the case: veridical and falsidical perceptions engage the world in the same way and to the same extent. While some contemporary vision (...) scientists propose to draw the distinction between veridical experience and illusion in terms of the satisfaction or non-satisfaction of “hidden assumptions” deployed in the course of normal perceptual inference, I argue for a different approach. I contend that there are, in a sense, no illusions – illusions are as “open” as veridical experiences. Percepts lack the kinds of intentional content that would be needed for perceptual misrepresntation. My view gives a satisfying solution to a philosophical problem for disjunctivism about the good case/bad case distinction: with respect to illusions, every "bad case" of seeing an X can be equally well construed as a "good case" of seeing some Y (different from X). -/- . (shrink)
Two criticisms of Davidson's argument for monism are presented. The first is that there is no obvious way for the anomalism of the mental to do any work in his argument. Certain implicit premises, on the other hand, entail monism independently of the anomalism of the mental, but they are question-begging. The second criticism is that even if Davidson's argument is sound, the variety of monism that emerges is extremely weak at best. I show that by constructing ontologically ``hybrid'' events (...) that are consistent with the premises and assumptions of Davidson's argument, but entail ontological dualism. (shrink)
The paper contains an argument against functionalist theories of consciousness. The argument exploits an intuition to the effect that parts of an individual's brain (or of whatever else might realize the individual's mental states, processes, etc.) that are not in use at a time t, can have no bearing on whether that individual is conscious at t. After presenting the argument, I defend it against two possible objections, and then distinguish it from two arguments to which it appears, on the (...) surface to be similar. (shrink)
That consciousness is composed of simple or basic elements that combine to form complex experiences is an idea with a long history. This idea is approached through an examination of our “picture” or conception of consciousness (CC). It is argued that CC commits us to a certain abstract notion of simple experiential events, or simples, and that traditional critiques of simple elements of experience do not threaten simples. To the extent that CC is taken to conform to how consciousness really (...) is, therefore, the concept of simples must be treated in kind. (shrink)
Can humans acquire knowledge of ultimate reality, even significant or comprehensive knowledge? I argue that for all we know we can, and that is so whether ultimate reality is divine or non-divine. My strategy involves arguing that we are ignorant, in the sense of lacking public or shared knowledge, about which possibilities, if any, obtain for humans to acquire knowledge of ultimate reality. This follows from a deep feature of our epistemic situation—that our current psychology strongly constrains what we can (...) conceive about the extent to which human intellectual and other psychological capacities might develop in the future. This mean that many possibilities for such development remain open to us epistemically, including the possibility that we might come to understand vastly more about ultimate reality than we currently do, even if ultimate reality is divine. I also argue that there is room to rationally hope that that is so. (shrink)
Fodor and Pylyshyn (1988) have argued that the cognitive architecture is not Connectionist. Their argument takes the following form: (1) the cognitive architecture is Classical; (2) Classicalism and Connectionism are incompatible; (3) therefore the cognitive architecture is not Connectionist. In this essay I argue that Fodor and Pylyshyn's defenses of (1) and (2) are inadequate. Their argument for (1), based on their claim that Classicalism best explains the systematicity of cognitive capacities, is an invalid instance of inference to the best (...) explanation. And their argument for (2) turns out to be question-begging. The upshot is that, while Fodor and Pylyshyn have presented Connectionists with the important empirical challenge of explaining systematicity, they have failed to provide sufficient reason for inferring that the cognitive architecture is Classical and not Connectionist. (shrink)
While "Consciousness Explained" has received an enormous amount of attention since its publication, there is still little agreement on what Dennett’s account of consciousness is. Most interpreters treat his view as an instance of one or another of the standard ontological positions (functionalism, behaviorism, eliminativism, instrumentalism). I believe a different metaphysical account underlies Dennett’s view, one that is important though ill-understood. In the paper I attempt to point in the direction of a proper characterization of that account through the use (...) of two illustrative examples. A ten-point story that applies to the examples is developed, and it is suggested that the story applies equally well to Dennett’s view of consciousness. (shrink)
Simulation constraints cannot help in explaining afterlife beliefs in general because belief in an afterlife is a precondition for running a simulation. Instead, an explanation may be found by examining more deeply our common-sense dualistic conception of the mind or soul.
I have argued elsewhere that our conception of phenomenal consciousness commits us to simple phenomenal experiences that in some sense constitute our complex experiences. In this paper I argue that the temporal boundaries of simple phenomenal experiences cannot be conceived as fuzzy or vague, but must be conceived as instantaneous or maximally sharp. The argument is based on an account of what is involved in conceiving fuzzy temporally boundaries for events generally. If the argument is right, and our conception of (...) phenomenal consciousness is assumed to reflect the facts about consciousness, then since the temporal boundaries of neurophysiological events can be conceived as fuzzy, considerable pressure can be applied to neurophysiological identity theories, as well as to dualist accounts that posit temporal correspondence with neurophysiological events. (shrink)
In spite of the enormous interdisciplinary interest in consciousness these days, sorely lacking are general methodologies in terms of which individual research efforts across disciplines can be seen as contributing to a common end. In the paper I outline such a methodology. The central idea is that empirically studying our conception of consciousness—what we have in mind when we think about consciousness—can lead to progress on consciousness itself. The paper clarifies and motivates that idea.
Tyler Burge has argued that a necessary condition for individual's having many of the thoughts he has is that he bear certain relations to other language users. Burge's conclusion is based on a thought experiment in which an individual's social relations are imagined, counterfactually, to differ from how they are actually. The result is that it seems, counterfactually, the individual cannot be attributed many of the thoughts he can be actually. In the article, an alternative interpretation of Burge's thought experiment (...) is offered on which the intuitions Burge evokes can be accepted while his conclusion about the social character of thought is denied. The alternative interpretation given, it is then argued that it is preferable to Burge's. (shrink)
Papineau’s argument in "Thinking About Consciousness" for the vagueness or indeterminacy of phenomenal concepts is discussed. Several problems with his argument are brought out, and it is concluded that his argument fails to establish his desired conclusion.
: Feminism is an antiauthoritarian movement that has sought to unmask many traditional "authorities" as ungrounded. Given this, it might seem as if feminists are required to abandon the concept of authority altogether. But, we argue, the exercise of authority enables us to coordinate our efforts to achieve larger social goods and, hence, should be preserved. Instead, what is needed and what we provide for here is a way to distinguish legitimate authority from objectionable authoritarianism.
Block explains the conflation of phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness by appeal to the ambiguity of the term “consciousness.” However, the nature of ambiguity is not at all clear, and the thesis that “consciousness” is ambiguous between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness is far from obvious. Moreover, the conflation can be explained without supposing that the term is ambiguous. Block's argument can thus be strengthened by avoiding controversial issues in the semantics of “consciousness.”.
The article presents a critique of John Searle's attack on computationalist theories of mind in his recent book, The Rediscovery of the Mind. Searle is guilty of caricaturing his opponents, and of ignoring their arguments. Moreover, his own positive theory of mind, which he claims "takes account of" subjectivity, turns out to offer no discernible advantages over the views he rejects.
Introduction Atheism is a minority position in today’s world. At least in the parts of the globe accessible to pollsters, most people believe in God. The rate of theism has little to do with the level of scientific or technological development of the society in question. Consider, for example, the United States, where, despite the country’s constitutional commitment to the “separation of church and state,” most institutions of daily life are infused with theism.1 U.S. coins carry the proclamation “In (...) God We Trust,” sessions of the U.S. Congress are opened with a prayer offered by the official congressional chaplain, and national and civic leaders routinely invoke the name of God in campaign and policy speeches. (shrink)
Upon first consideration, the desire of an individual to amputate a seemingly healthy limb is a foreign, perhaps unsettling, concept. It is, however, a reality faced by those who suffer from body integrity identity disorder (BIID). In seeking treatment, these individuals request surgery that challenges both the statutory provisions that sanction surgical operations and the limits of consent as a defence in New Zealand. In doing so, questions as to the influence of public policy and the extent of personal autonomy (...) become important. Beyond legal issues, BIID confronts dominant conceptions of bodily integrity, medical treatment, and ethical obligations. This paper seeks to identify the relevant public policy concerns raised by BIID in New Zealand and the limits of autonomy, before moving on to consider how BIID sufferers may legally seek the treatment they require and how a doctor might be protected from criminal proceedings for assault for performing this treatment. It will be argued that it is possible to legally consent to the amputation of a healthy limb as medical treatment and that public perception should not be allowed to take precedence over this right. (shrink)
Carruthers has proposed a novel and quite interesting hypothesis for the role of language in conceptual integration, but his treatment does not acknowledge work in cognitive science on metaphor and analogy that reveals how diverse knowledge structures are integrated. We claim that this body of research provides clear evidence that cross-domain conceptual connections cannot be driven by syntactic processes alone.
Continental philosophy has entered a new period of ferment. The long deconstructionist era was followed with a period dominated by Deleuze, which has in turn evolved into a new situation still difficult to define. However, one common thread running through the new brand of continental positions is a renewed attention to materialist and realist options in philosophy. Among the leaders of the established generation, this new focus takes numerous forms. It might be hard to find many shared positions in the (...) writings of Badiou, DeLanda, Laruelle, Latour, Stengers, and Žižek, but what is missing from their positions is an obsession with the critique of written texts. All of them elaborate a positive ontology, despite the incompatibility of their results. Meanwhile, the new generation of continental thinkers is pushing these trends still further, as seen in currents ranging from transcendental materialism to the London-based speculative realism movement to new revivals of Derrida. As indicated by the title The Speculative Turn, the new currents of continental philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself. This anthology assembles authors, of several generations and numerous nationalities, who will be at the centre of debate in continental philosophy for decades to come. (shrink)
Specification of an appropriate relationship, or division of labor, between sociology and philosophy, remains a sensitive issue. Anthony Giddens offers a distinctive variant in his concern, in structuration theory, to develop an ontology of the social without participating in epistemological debate and without articulating and justifying a normative theory (whether a philosophical anthropology or a political philosophy). Both omissions impair the wider reception of structuration theory. The second is the more serious, however, insofar as the postempiricist community of inquirers may (...) make a virtue of the ethical and political factors that inform social science, but it does not yet have any settled means of assessing different, and contesting, values; even if it did, it could not invent Giddens's position for him. There are signs that Giddens now recognizes the need to formulate and justify models of the good society and of the actualized self. (shrink)
An argument is offered against three naturalistic theories of intentional content: causal-covariation theories, teleological theories, and certain versions of conceptual role semantics. The strategy involves focusing on a normative problem regarding the practice of associating content expressions (e.g., that-clauses) with internal entities (states, symbol structures, etc.). The problem can be expressed thus: Which content expressions are the right ones to associate with internal entities? I argue, first, that an empirical solution to this problem—what I call the Normative Problem—will follow naturally (...) from a descriptive-explanatory account of the practice of associating content expressions with internal entities; and second, that the empirical solution will be accepted and adopted within cognitive science. Naturalistic theories of content also entail solutions to the Normative Problem, and such theories are shown to be false by showing that their solutions to the Normative Problem are inconsistent with the empirical solution coming out of cognitive science. (shrink)
I understand feminist epistemology to be epistemology put at the service of feminist politics. That is, a feminist epistemology is dedicated to answering the many questions about knowledge that arise in the course of feminist efforts to understand and transform patriarchal structures, questions such as: Why have so many intellectual traditions denigrated the cognitive capacities of women? Are there gender differences in epistemic capacities or strategies, and what would be the implications for epistemology if there were? I argue here that (...) such questions situate feminist epistemology much more in mainstream epistemological discussion than probably most feminists would admit, finding that, at least for issues in these areas, the naturalistic approach to the study of knowledge advocated by W. V. Quine has been extremely useful. (shrink)
So-called grand or paradigmatic theoriesstructural functionalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, rational-choice theoryprovide their proponents with a conceptual vocabulary and syntax that allows for the classification and configuring of wide ranges of phenomena. Advocates for any particular "analytical grammar" are accordingly prone to conflating the internal coherence of their paradigmits integrated complex of definitions, axioms, and inferenceswith a corresponding capacity for representational verisimilitude. The distinction between Theory-as-heuristic and Theory-as-imposition is of course difficult to negotiate in practice, given that empirical observation and measurement are (...) not entirely "theory neutral" or independent of prior analytical conceptualization. Nonetheless, the scientific cogency of any theory is ultimately evaluated by the substantive realism of its foundational assumptions and categorical designations; that is, the accuracy with which it identifies and tracks the determinant properties and processes of the phenomena to be explicated. The paradigm of sociocultural evolutionismdespite extensive revamping by contemporary proponentsdoes not carry warrant in this regard, as its recourse to an analytical grammar fashioned and derived from another discipline raises doubts about its empirical veridicality. This article revisits the contentious issue of remodeling social phenomena in accordance with biological categories and offers both a theoretical and a substantive critique of the "selectionist" paradigm. The transdisciplinary program of historical social science is affirmed by way of counterpoint. Key Words: sociocultural evolutionism historical social science explanatory logic mimesis warfare ancient Greece early Christianity. (shrink)
What can Dungeons & Dragons teach us about the being of beings? This article argues that Dungeons & Dragons introduces us to a world composed of objects or entities, where the being of objects is defined not by their qualities, but rather by their powers, capacities or affects. Drawing on the thought of Spinoza, Deleuze and Molnar, objects are seen to be defined by what they can do or their capacities to act, such that qualities are effects of these acts. (...) Dungeons & Dragons is particularly suited to showing us this insofar as it focuses on the action of entities. (shrink)
A dictionary definition of Bioethics is, 'the ethics, or moral principles and rules of conduct, of medical and biological research'. This book is an introductory text of just biological and not medical bioethics. It covers the ethics of experimentation, including genetic manipulation, in plants and animals; ethics and biodiversity, ethics and the environment. There is increasing interest in bioethics - both in academia and by the media and the general public. Awareness of bioethics is incorporated into Biological / Environmental Science (...) courses, plus the first dedicated modular courses on bioethics are starting up. Includes case studies Has questions for students Chapters include environmental, animal, agricultural and reproductive ethics as well as a wide range of issues regarding genetic manipulation. (shrink)
A parallel exists between the threefold parallelism of Agassiz and Haeckel and the three valid methods of polarity determination in phylogenetic systematics. The structural gradation among taxa within a linear hierarchy, ontogenetic recapitulation, and geological succession of the threefold parallelism resemble outgroup comparison, the ontogenetic method, and the paleontological method, respectively, which are methods of polarity determination in phylogenetic systematics. The parallel involves expected congruence among similar components of the distribution of character states among organisms. The threefold parallelism is a (...) manifestation of a world view based on linear hierarchies, whereas polarity determination is part of the methodology of phylogenetic systematics which assumes that organisms are grouped into a nested hierarchy. The threefold parallelism facilitated the ranking of previously established taxa into linear hierarchies consisting mostly of paraphyletic groups. In contrast, methods of polarity determination identify apomorphies that determine and diagnose monophyletic taxa (clades) in the nested genealogical hierarchy. Taxa in linear hierarchies are defined by sets of character states, whereas clades are defined by common ancestry. Although the threefold parallelism was ostensibly abandoned with the rejection of Haeckel''s biogenetic law, some of its components continue to facilitate the progressive scenarios that are common in evolutionary thought. Although a general view of progression in organismal history may be invalid, the progressive or directional sequence of character state changes that results in the characterization of a particular clade has considerable heuristic value. Agassiz''s ostensibly nested hierarchy and other pre-Darwinian classifications do not provide support for the view that the natural system can be discovered without recourse to the principle of common descent. (shrink)
Quarrels between philosophers are never entirely disconnected from larger quarrels. There was a hidden agenda behind the split between old-fashioned “humanistic” philosophy (of the Dewey-Whitehead sort) and the positivists, and a similar agenda lies behind the current split between devotees of “analytic” and “Continental” philosophy. The heavy breathing on both sides about the immorality and stupidity of the opposition signals passions which academic power struggles cannot fully explain. Neil Gross’s monograph study on the American philosopher Richard Rorty (1931–2007) is a (...) multi-layered tapestral offering that deftly weaves together informative strands of cultural history with the binding threads of .. (shrink)
Abstract Stephen Schiffer, in his recent book, Remnants of Meaning, argues against the possibility of any compositional theory of meaning for natural language. Because the argument depends on the premise that there is no possible naturalistic reduction of the intentional to the physical, Schiffer's attack on theories of meaning is of central importance for theorists of mind. I respond to Schiffer's argument by showing that there is at least one reductive account of the mental that he has neglected to consider?the (...) computationalist account known as the Representational Theory of Mind. Not only is this view immune from the criticisms Schiffer mounts against other reductivist theories, but it solves problems that arise on Schiffer's own non?reductive account of the relation between the intentional and the physical. (shrink)
I analyze and criticize Naomi Scheman's argument for the claim that psychological individualism-the thesis that psychological states are entities or particulars over which psychological theories may quantify-has no legitimate philosophical backing and is instead an element of patriarchal ideology. I conclude that Scheman's argument is flawed and that her thesis is false. Psychological individualism is perfectly compatible with and may even be required by feminist political theory.