We argue that there are three norms of critical discussion in stark relief in Republic I. The first we see in the exchange with Cephalus---that we interpret each other and contribute to discussions in a maximally argumentative fashion. The second we seein the exchange with Polemarchus---that in order to cooperate in dialectic, interlocutors must maintain a distance between themselves and the theses they espouse. This way they can subject the views to serious scrutiny without the risk of personal loss. Third, (...) and finally, from Socrates’ exchange with Thrasymachus, it is clear that uncooperative discussants must be handled in a fashion that reinforces the goals of dialectic. So Thrasymachus is refuted and silenced not just for the sake of correcting his definition of justice, but also for the sake of those listening. (shrink)
Maintaining adequate performance in dynamic and uncertain settings has been a perennial stumbling block for intelligent systems. Nevertheless, any system intended for real-world deployment must be able to accommodate unexpected change—that is, it must be perturbation tolerant. We have found that metacognitive monitoring and control—the ability of a system to self-monitor its own decision-making processes and ongoing performance, and to make targeted changes to its beliefs and action-determining components—can play an important role in helping intelligent systems cope with the perturbations (...) that are the inevitable result of real-world deployment. In this article we present the results of several experiments demonstrating the efficacy of metacognition in improving the perturbation tolerance of reinforcement learners, and discuss a general theory of metacognitive monitoring and control, in a form we call the metacognitive loop. (shrink)
We show that a linear specific heat at low temperatures for glass follows naturally from general considerations on the glassy state. From the same considerations we obtain the experimentally observed anomalous low-temperature thermal conductivity, and we predict an ultrasonic attenuation which increases at low temperatures. Possible relationships with the linear specific heat in magnetic impurity systems are pointed out. We suggest experimental study of the relaxation of thermal and other properties.
From the outset, critical social theory has sought to diagnose people’s participation in their own oppression, by revealing the roots of irrational and self-undermining choices in the complex interplay between human nature, social structures, and cultural beliefs. As part of this project, Ideologiekritik has aimed to expose faulty conceptions of this interplay, so that the objectively pathological character of what people are “freely” choosing could come more clearly into view. The challenge, however, has always been to find a way of (...) doing this without arrogantly assuming special access to what is good for people. And this danger of paternalism is one to which social theorists have all too often fallen prey. In this brief essay, I focus on contemporary instances of clearly self-defeating behavior in contexts of complex choices. I begin by discussing a recent attempt to diagnose and solve these failures of choices, namely the public policy recommendations of behavioral economist Richard Thaler and reform-minded legal theorist Cass Sunstein. Their influential “libertarian paternalist” approach is particularly interesting, both in what it includes (attention to the socially constructed nature of choice situations and the roots of the problems in human nature) and in what it leaves out (an understanding of the social construction of human nature and an adequate appreciation of the value of autonomy). After discussing it, I consider a broadly perfectionist alternative, to the effect that the problem lies in a failure to adequately appreciate the importance of developing autonomy. I then turn to sketching the outlines of a new approach, based on the concept of “autonomy gaps,” which approaches overly demanding policies in relational and action-theoretical terms. In the final section, I show how this provides the basis for an analysis both in terms of a critique of ideology and of social pathology. (shrink)
I investigate the consequences of Nietzsche's perspectivism for notions of truth and objectivity, and show how the metaphor of visual perspective motivates an epistemology that avoids self-referential difficulties. Perspectivism's claim that every view is only one view, applied to itself, is often supposed to preclude the perspectivist's ability to offer reasons for her epistemology. Nietzsche's arguments for perspectivism depend on “internal reasons”, which have force not only in their own perspective, but also within the standards of alternative perspectives. Internal reasons (...) allow a perspectivist argument against dogmatism without presupposing aperspectival criteria for theory choice. Nietzsche also offers “internal” conceptions of truth and objectivity which reduce them to a matter of meeting our epistemic standards. This view has pluralistic implications, which conflict with common sense, but it is nevertheless consistent and plausible. Nietzsche's position is similar to Putnam's recent internalism, and this is due to their common Kantian heritage. (shrink)
I defend Kant’s definition of analyticity in terms of concept “containment”, which has engendered widespread scepticism. Kant deployed a clear, technical notion of containment based on ideas standard within traditional logic, notably genus/species hierarchies formed via logical division. Kant’s analytic/synthetic distinction thereby undermines the logico-metaphysical system of Christian Wolff, showing that the Wolffian paradigm lacks the expressive power even to represent essential knowledge, including elementary mathematics, and so cannot provide an adequate system of philosophy. The results clarify the extent to (...) which analyticity sensu Kant can illuminate the problem of a priori knowledge generally. (shrink)
McLachlan and Swales dispute my arguments against commercial surrogatemotherhood. In reply, I argue that commercial surrogate contractsobjectionably commodify children because they regardparental rights over children not as trusts, to be allocated in the bestinterests of the child, but as like property rights, to be allocatedat the will o the parents. They also express disrespect for mothers, bycompromising their inalienable right to act in the best interest of theirchildren, when this interest calls for mothers to assert a custody rightin their children.
Many problems of inequality in developing countries resist treatment by formal egalitarian policies. To deal with these problems, we must shift from a distributive to a relational conception of equality, founded on opposition to social hierarchy. Yet the production of many goods requires the coordination of wills by means of commands. In these cases, egalitarians must seek to tame rather than abolish hierarchy. I argue that bureaucracy offers important constraints on command hierarchies that help promote the equality of workers in (...) bureaucratic organizations. Bureaucracy thus constitutes a vital if limited egalitarian tool applicable to developing and developed countries alike. (shrink)
I look at a recent argument offered in defense of a doctrine which I will call generalized scientific essentialism. This is the doctrine according to which, not only are some facts about substance composition metaphysically necessary, but, in addition, some facts about substance behavior are metaphysically necessary. More specifically, so goes the argument, not only is water necessarily composed of H2O and salt is necessarily composed of NaCl, but, in addition, salt necessarily dissolves in water. If this argument is sound, (...) and if the statement that necessarily salt dissolves in water is a statement of a law of nature, then one conclusion of the argument is that there is at least one metaphysically necessary law of nature. My paper examines the extent to which this kind of argument could be generalized to provide a case for a full-blown scientific essentialism: the doctrine according to which all of the laws of nature are necessary. Or, in terms of dispositions, it is the doctrine according to which natural kinds have all of their powers, capacities and propensities as a matter of necessity. (shrink)
Epicurus emphatically asserts the veracity of perception, including visual perception, yet most of the literature on Epicurus’ atomistic theory of vision pays scant attention to what Epicurus believed transpires outside the body that leads to it. The treatments by DeWitt, Everson, Hicks, and Rist are all very brief; Glidden focuses primarily on the processes occurring inside the perceiver; and while the discussions by Asmis and Bailey are more detailed, they hardly more than note in passing that the process is problematic.1 (...) In this paper I will critically examine Epicurus’ theory of vision, in particular his theory of the events occurring between perceived objects and the eye. I will argue that while certain common objections to Epicurus’ theory may be answerable, it nevertheless suffers from serious problems. These problems, in turn, occur on two levels. On the mechanical level, it demands that dissimilar atomic complexes behave in strikingly similar ways. And on the theoretical level, there is tension created by the need for the intermediary between objects and the observer to be both like objects and unlike them. (shrink)
Th is paper investigates the epistemic powers of democratic institutions through an assessment of three epistemic models of democracy: the Condorcet Jury Th eorem, the Diversity Trumps Ability Th eorem, and Dewey's experimentalist model. Dewey's model is superior to the others in its ability to model the epistemic functions of three constitutive features of democracy: the epistemic diversity of participants, the interaction of voting with discussion, and feedback mechanisms such as periodic elections and protests. It views democracy as an institution (...) for pooling widely distributed information about problems and policies of public interest by engaging the participation of epistemically diverse knowers. Democratic norms of free discourse, dissent, feedback, and accountability function to ensure collective, experimentallybased learning from the diverse experiences of diff erent knowers. I illustrate these points with a case study of community forestry groups in South Asia, whose epistemic powers have been hobbled by their suppression of women's participation. (shrink)
Unjustifiable assumptions about sex and gender roles, the untamable potency of maleness, and gynophobic notions about women's bodies inform and influence a broad range of policy-making institutions in this society. In December 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit continued this ignoble cultural pastime when they decided Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections. In this decision, the Everson Court accepted the Michigan Department of Correction's claim that “the very manhood” of male prison guards both threatens the safety (...) of female inmates and violates the women's “special sense of privacy in their genitals” and declared that sex-specific employment policies for prison guards is not impermissibly discriminatory. I believe that the Court's decision relies on unacceptable (and offensive) stereotypes about sex, gender and sexuality and it significantly undermines Title VII's power to end discriminatory employment practices. (shrink)
This paper presents a feminist intervention into debates concerning the relation between human subjects and a divine ideal. I turn to what Irigarayan feminists challenge as a masculine conception of âthe Godâs eye viewâ of reality. This ideal functions not only in philosophy of religion, but in ethics, politics, epistemology and philosophy of science: it is given various names from âthe competent judgeâ to the âthe ideal observerâ (IO) whose view is either from nowhere or everywhere. The question is whether, (...) as Taliaferro contends, my own philosophical argument inevitably appeals to the impartiality and omni-attributes of the IO. This paper was delivered during the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God. (shrink)