According to the Argument from Disagreement (AD) widespread and persistent disagreement on ethical issues indicates that our moral opinions are not influenced by moral facts, either because there are no such facts or because there are such facts but they fail to influence our moral opinions. In an innovative paper, Gustafsson and Peterson (Synthese, published online 16 October, 2010) study the argument by means of computer simulation of opinion dynamics, relying on the well-known model of Hegselmann and Krause (J Artif (...) Soc Soc Simul 5(3):1–33, 2002; J Artif Soc Soc Simul 9(3):1–28, 2006). Their simulations indicate that if our moral opinions were influenced at least slightly by moral facts, we would quickly have reached consensus, even if our moral opinions were also affected by additional factors such as false authorities, external political shifts and random processes. Gustafsson and Peterson conclude that since no such consensus has been reached in real life, the simulation gives us increased reason to take seriously the AD. Our main claim in this paper is that these results are not as robust as Gustafsson and Peterson seem to think they are. If we run similar simulations in the alternative Laputa simulation environment developed by Angere and Olsson (Angere, Synthese, forthcoming and Olsson, Episteme 8(2):127–143, 2011) considerably less support for the AD is forthcoming. (shrink)
After addressing the question of whether Aron Gurwitsch (1901–1973) even had a theory of psychology, which is not obvious unless one collates the many dispersed remarks, a well-documented exposition of that theory is offered that clarifies the data, categories, field, methods, and topics of the versions of psychology he advocated.
Taking as its starting point recent claims that Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique de la Raison Dialectique was written as an attempt to overcome the historical relativism of Raymond Aron's Introduction à la philosophie de l'histoire , the present article traces this covert dialogue back to a fundamental disagreement between the two men over the interpretation of Wilhelm Dilthey's anti-positivist theory of Verstehen or 'understanding'. In so doing it counters a longstanding tendency to emphasise the convergence of Aron and Sartre's (...) philosophical interests prior to the break in their friendship occasioned by the onset of the Cold War, suggesting that the causes of their later, radical political divergence were pregnant within this earlier philosophical divergence. (shrink)
Aron Gurwitsch wants to introduce a theory of organization developed by Gestalt psychology into Husserlian phenomenology. The problem is to show how it is possible to introduce a theory developed within a positive science into philosophical phenomenology. His solution is to show that aspects of this theory already are or can be phenomenological through what he calls an incipient phenomenological reduction. Specifically, it is the dismissal of the constancy hypothesis in which he identifies the possibility moving from an explanatory (...) science to a descriptive one. If the temptation can be resisted of returning to an explanatory approach and description can be radicalized, Gurwitsch believes that this reduction can become phenomenological and even attain transcendental levels. This possibility of reduction makes it possible for scientists, especially psychologists, to have a firsthand understanding of phenomenology, perhaps to convince them of this approach and realize the continuity of philosophy and the sciences and the need to maintain cooperation via phenomenology. (shrink)
Paul Benacerraf's argument from multiple reductions consists of a general argument against realism about the natural numbers (the view that numbers are objects), and a limited argument against reductionism about them (the view that numbers are identical with prima facie distinct entities). There is a widely recognized and severe difficulty with the former argument, but no comparably recognized such difficulty with the latter. Even so, reductionism in mathematics continues to thrive. In this paper I develop a difficulty for Benacerraf's argument (...) against reductionism that is of comparable severity to the now widely recognized difficulty with his general argument against realism. Thanks to Kit Fine, Hartry Field, Jeff Sebo, Ted Sider, Stephen Schiffer, and anonymous referees at Philosophia Mathematica for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Thanks to Aron Edidin for many helpful discussions of the problems that inspired it. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitive science concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely amended from the work (...) of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
Attentional character is a way of thinking about what is relevant in a human life, what is meaningful and how it becomes so. This paper introduces the concept of attentional character through a redefinition of attentional capture as achievement. It looks freshly at the attentional capture debate in the current cognitive sciences literature through the lens of Aron Gurwitsch’s gestalt-phenomenology. Attentional character is defined as an initially limited capacity for attending in a given environment and is located within the (...) sphere of attention, primarily as an irrelevant centering in attending. (shrink)
Aron Gurwitsch made two main contributions to phenomenology. He showed how to import Gestalt theoretical ideas into Husserl’s framework of constitutive phenomenology. And he explored the light this move sheds on both the overall structure of experience and on particular kinds of experience, especially perceptual experiences and conscious shifts in attention. The primary focus of this paper is the overall structure of experience. I show how Gurwitsch’s Gestalt theoretically informed phenomenological investigations provide a basis for defending what I will (...) call Phenomenal Holism, the view that all the parts of a total phenomenal state metaphysically depend on it. To illustrate how the ideas developed along the way can be used in advancing work on the phenomenology of particular kinds of experience, I draw on them in defending Husserl’s view that we can be aware of abstract objects against a phenomenological objection. (shrink)
There is a considerable amount of research being done on attention by cognitive psychologists. I claim that in the process of measuring and mapping consciousness, these researchers have missed important phenomenological findings. After a synopsis and illustration of the nature of attention as described by Aron Gurwitsch, I critique the assumptions of current psychological research on this topic. Included is discussion of the metaphor of attention as a beam or spotlight, the concept of selective attention as the standard accomplishment, (...) and the cognitive bestowal of organization on otherwise unorganized data. It is concluded that cognitive psychologists and others working on attention can benefit from Gurwitsch's work, and that a credible account of attention is crucial to the success of any comprehensive statement on the nature of consciousness. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to suggest that a necessary condition of autonomy has not been sufficiently recognized in the literature: the capacity to critically reflect on one’s practical attitudes (desires, preferences, values, etc.) in the light of new experiences . It will be argued that most prominent accounts of autonomy—ahistorical as well as history-sensitive—have either altogether failed to recognize this condition or at least failed to give an explicit account of it.
Aron Gurwitsch's critique of Schutz's essay The Stranger is the starting point for this consideration of Schutz's relationship with phenomenology. This relationship is based on Schutz's emphasis on the value of the average as a phenomenological structure. In opposing sociology to philosophy, Gurwitsch takes this value as inferior in comparison with what he sees as cardinal issues of transcendental phenomenology. What Gurwitsch finds incompatible with phenomenological inquiry – the idea and practice of the natural attitude within the social sphere (...) – Schutz turns into the core of his philosophy. The phenomenology of the natural attitude is as essentially philosophical as any reflectively practiced human science. The problem of how everydayness is constituted requires a phenomenological insight that leads the explorer – through reconstructing the meaning in terms of the mundane – straight to the origin. (shrink)
After a brief, personal reflection on Aron Gurwitsch’s life and his many influences on my career, I devote this lecture to some of the central themes of a phenomenology of medicine. Its core is the clinical encounter, which displays a certain structure I term the asymmetry of power (physician) and vulnerability (patient, family)—a complex contextual imbalance characterized by multiple points of view, hence points for reflective entrance. These are then interpreted phenomenologically in terms of epoché and reduction (practical distantiation), (...) evidence, reflection, and other related themes. I conclude with a suggestion about “the fundamental method” of phenomenology, free fantasy variation. (shrink)
Recent work on the logical theory of confirmation has centered on accounts of the confirmation of hypotheses relative to auxiliary assumptions or background theory. Whether such relative confirmation actually increases the credibility of the (relatively) confirmed hypothesis will depend in various ways on the epistemic status of the auxiliaries involved. Most obviously, if the auxiliaries are not themselves credible, confirmation relative to them will not increase the credibility of the hypothesis thus confirmed. A complete theory of confirmation must thus combine (...) an account of relative confirmation with an account of the route from relative confirmation to real confirmation. Some recent criticisms of hypothetico-deductive and bootstrapping accounts of relative confirmation are undermined by failure to appreciate the limitations of relative confirmation. (shrink)
Phenomenology and philosophy of mind can be deﬁned either as disciplines or as historical traditions—they are both. As disciplines: phenomenology is the study of conscious experience as lived, as experienced from the ﬁrst-person point of view, while philosophy of mind is the study of mind—states of belief, perception, action, etc.—focusing especially on the mind–body problem, how mental activities are related to brain activities. As traditions or literatures: phenomenology features the writings of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Roman (...) Ingarden, Aron Gurwitsch, and many others, while philosophy of mind includes the writings of Gilbert Ryle, David Armstrong, Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor, Daniel Dennett, John Searle, Paul Churchland and Patricia Smith Churchland, and many others. Historically, philosophy of mind has been considered part of the wider tradition called analytic philosophy, while phenomenology has been considered part of the wider tradition called continental philosophy. But all that is changing as we write, and the present volume is designed to express the change. (shrink)
Glymour has developed an account of the confirmation of scientific hypotheses which he advocates as an alternative to the hypothetico-deductive and Bayesian accounts. This account is subject to a counter-example which may be accomodated by a slight modification. So modified it describes an important dimension of confirmation. If the modification of Glymour's account is slightly extended, both the resulting account and the hypothetico-deductive account may be seen as special cases of a Bayesian theory which is immune to Glymour's criticisms.
According to embodied cognition theory, our physical embodiment influences how we conceptualize entities, whether natural or supernatural. In serving central explanatory roles, supernatural entities (e.g., God) are represented implicitly as having unordinary properties that nevertheless do not violate our sensorimotor interactions with the physical world. We conjecture that other supernatural entities are similarly represented in explanatory contexts.
The current ethical structure for collaborative international health research stems largely from developed countries' standards of proper ethical practices. The result is that ethical committees in developing countries are required to adhere to standards that might impose practices that conflict with local culture and unintended interpretations of ethics, treatments, and research. This paper presents a case example of a joint international research project that successfully established inclusive ethical review processes as well as other groundwork and components necessary for the (...) conduct of human behavior research and research capacity building in the host country. (shrink)
Whereas Phenomenology of Perception concludes with a puzzling turn to “heroism,” this article examines the short essay “Man, the Hero” as a source of insight into Merleau-Ponty’s thought in the early postwar period. In this essay, Merleau-Ponty presented a conception of heroism through which he expressed the attitude toward post-Hegelian philosophy of history that underwrote his efforts to reform Marxism along existential lines. Analyzing this conception of heroism by unpacking the implicit contrasts with Kojève, Aron, Caillois, and Bataille, I (...) show that its philosophical rationale was to supply experiential evidence attesting to the latent presence of human universality. It is a mythic device intended to animate the faith necessary for Marxist politics by showing that universal sociality is possible, and that the historically transformative praxis needed to realize it does not imply sacrifice. This sheds considerable light on Merleau-Ponty’s early postwar political thought. But inasmuch as the latter cannot be severed from his broader philosophical concerns, the prospect is raised that his entire phenomenological project in the early postwar period rested on a myth. Not necessarily a bad myth, but a myth nonetheless. (shrink)
Sartre was strongly attracted by what he had heard about German phenomenology. Raymond Aron was spending a year at the French Institute in Berlin and studying Husserl simultaneously with preparing a historical thesis. When he came to Paris he spoke of Husserl to Sartre. We spent an evening together at the Bec de Gaz in the Rue Montparnasse. We ordered the speciality of the house, apricot cocktails; Aron said, pointing to his glass: "You see, my dear fellow, if (...) you are a phenomenologist, you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!" Sartre turned pale with emotion at this. Here was just the thing he had been longing to achieve for years-to describe objects just as he saw and touched them, and extract philosophy from the process. (Simone de Beauvoir, The Prime of Life, p. 112). (shrink)
In the experimental psychology of attention, the phenomenon of attentional context has been underappreciated, while focal attention has taken center stage. Similar problems of context are found in certain realist arguments in .the philosophy of science. Through the lens of Aron Gurwitsch's phenomenology of attention, this paper discusses and evaluates the ways in which context is or is not brought into focus in experimental psychology and the philosophy of science. It concludes that recent developments in both realms show promise. (...) Also some ways are indicated in which phenomenology, experimental psychology, and philosophy of science can benefit from each other. (shrink)
The struggles that Alfred Schutz, Aron Gurwitsch, Harold Garfinkel, and other social phenomenologists and ethnomethodologists have had with Edmund Husserl’s progenitive but inconsistent notion of intersubjectivity are summarized and assessed. In particular, an account of Schutz’s objections to intersubjective constitution is presented. The commonly pervading elements and major differences within this lineage of inquiry – a four generation-long lineage of teacher and student that commences with Husserl, runs through Schutz and Gurwitsch, then Garfinkel, and then the present author and (...) his colleagues – are discussed, under the advisory (as suggested by Maurice Natanson) that what Husserl sought was more important than what he found. (shrink)
Performing surgery in the developing world presents unique challenges and dilemmas for the visiting physician from an industrialized country. Language barriers, widespread, profound pathology, and lack of adequate facilities are obvious hurdles. A more subtle problem, though every bit as significant, is that the principles and procedures we routinely utilize at home to uphold ethical standards of care and to aid us in decision-making are often poorly applicable in the developing world. Acknowledging that cultural factors play a primary role in (...) every aspect of their interaction with patients, physicians must scrutinize and even modify the tools they employ when attempting to deliver ethical care in foreign .. (shrink)
Phenomenology and experimental psychology have been largely interested in the same thing when it comes to attention. By building on the work of Aron Gurwitsch, especially his ideas of attention and restructuration, this paper attempts to articulate common ground in psychology and phenomenology of attention through discussion of a new way to think about multistability in some phenomena. What psychology views as an attentionality-intentionality phenomenon, phenomenology views as an intentionality-attentionality phenomenon. The proposal is that an awareness of this restructuring (...) of attentionality and intentionality can benefit both approaches to attention. After reviewing Husserl’s position on attentionality and intentionality, this paper examines multistable phenomena, redefines the attentional transformation called restructuring, discusses disciplinary perspectives on attention and gives an example using common ground. (shrink)