Conscious experience presents a deep puzzle. On the one hand, a fairly robust materialism must be true in order to explain how it is that conscious events causally interact with non-conscious, physical events. On the other hand, we cannot explain how physical phenomena give rise to conscious experience. In this wide-ranging study, Joseph Levine explores both sides of the mind-body dilemma, presenting the first book-length treatment of his highly influential ideas on the "explanatory gap," the fact that we can't (...) explain the nature of phenomenal experience in terms of its physical realization. He presents a careful argument that there is such a gap, and, after providing intriguing analyses of virtually all existing theories of consciousness, shows that recent attempts to close it fall short of the mark. Levine concludes that in the foreseeable future consciousness will remain a mystery. (shrink)
This essay interprets the controversy over Richard Serra's monumental sculpture, Tilted Arc , which was designed for a public plaza in downtown Manhattan in 1979 and then torn down five years later after intense public outcry. Levine reads this controversy as characteristic of contemporary debates over the arts, which continue the tradition of the nineteenth century avant-garde, pitting art against a wider public, and insisting that art must deliberately resist mainstream tastes and values in favor of marginality and innovation. (...) This definition of art has posed a lasting dilemma for democratic societies: how, after all, should a democracy deal with art that represents an intentional rejection of the majority? The problem becomes even more intractable when it comes to avant-garde art commissioned for public spaces, where the art object can challenge public tastes and movements in a way that is inescapable for those who must live and work in the space. Disturbed by the imposition of a massive and incomprehensible art object in a public plaza, Serra's opponents argued that Tilted Arc frustrated a whole range of socially beneficial activities, labor and leisure alike. And they claimed that Serra's supporters were dangerously anti-democratic. But despite the avant-garde's challenge to majority tastes, this essay makes the case that it remains a democratic value to continue to sponsor avant-garde art in public spaces. (shrink)
In these learned essays, Joseph M. Levine shows how the idea and method of modern history first began to develop during the Renaissance, when a clear distinction between history and fiction was first proposed. The new claims for history were met by a new skepticism in a debate that still echoes today. Levine's first three essays discuss Thomas More's preoccupation with the distinction between history and fiction Erasmus's biblical criticism and the contribution of Renaissance philology to critical method (...) and the way in which Renaissance rhetoric, as in Thomas Elyot's Book of the Governor, continued to inhibit the autonomy of history. He then shows how these issues persisted into the eighteenth century, even as critical method developed. He concludes with a close description of the great controversy that culminated in Edward Gibbon's day over the authenticity of a biblical text that had been used for centuries to defend the Trinity but which turned out to be a forgery. Levine shows how by then all sides were ready to concede the autonomy of history. (shrink)
It is one thing to lament the financial pressures put on universities, quite another to face up to the poverty of resources for thinking about what universities should do when they purport to offer a liberal education. In Powers of the Mind, former University of Chicago dean Donald N. Levine enriches those resources by proposing fresh ways to think about liberal learning with ideas more suited to our times. He does so by defining basic values of modernity and then (...) considering curricular principles pertinent to them. The principles he favors are powers of the mind—disciplines understood as fields of study defined not by subject matter but by their embodiment of distinct intellectual capacities. To illustrate, Levine draws on his own lifetime of teaching and educational leadership, while providing a marvelous summary of exemplary educational thinkers at the University of Chicago who continue to inspire. Out of this vital tradition, Powers of the Mind constructs a paradigm for liberal arts today, inclusive of all perspectives and applicable to all settings in the modern world. (shrink)
Michael P. Levine, Tamas Pataki. the case of racism. If one understands racism to be rooted in some underlying psychological structure, then while what is ordinarily called racist behavior may well be indicative of such an underlying structure, ...
This book combines contemporary ethical theory, literary interpretation, and historical narrative to defend a view of the humanities as a source of moral guidance. Peter Levine argues that moral philosophers should interpret narratives and literary critics should adopt moral positions. His new analysis of Dante’s story of Paolo and Francesca sheds new light on the moral advantages and pitfalls of narratives versus ethical theories and principles.
In this paper I propose a model of demonstrative thought. I distinguish token-demonstratives, that pick out individuals, from type-demonstratives, that pick out kinds, or properties, and provide a similar treatment for both. I argue that it follows from my model of demonstrative thought, as well as from independent considerations, that demonstration, as a mental act, operates directly on mental representations, not external objects. That is, though the relation between a demonstrative and the object or property demonstrated is semantically direct, the (...) mechanism by which a demonstrative acquires its referent involves mediation by a perceptual representation. Finally, I argue that so-called 'demonstrative concepts'—which I treat as type-demonstratives—cannot perform the various philosophical functions that have been assigned to them. (shrink)
Materialism, as traditionally conceived, has a contingent side and a necessary side. The necessity of materialism is reflected by the metaphysics of realization, while its contingency is a matter of accepting the possibility of Cartesian worlds, worlds in which our minds are roughly as Descartes describes them. In this paper we argue that the necessity and the contingency of materialism are in conflict. In particular, we claim that if mental properties are realized by physical properties in the actual world, Cartesian (...) worlds are impossible. (shrink)
to use David Chalmers's jargon) claim that though zombies are conceivable, they are not metaphysically possible. This article calls this position regarding the relation between metaphysical and epistemic modality "modal autonomism," as opposed to the "modal rationalism" endorsed by David Chalmers and Frank Jackson, who insist on a deep link between the two forms of modality. This article argues that the defense of modal rationalism presented in Chalmers and Jackson (2001) begs the question against the type-B materialist/modal autonomist. The argument (...) proceeds as follows. Modal rationalists claim that for all nonphenomenal macro properties, the appropriate supervenience conditional is both necessary and a priori. Hence, type-B materialists must engage in special pleading when they claim that the relevant supervenience conditional for phenomenal properties, expressing the supervenience of the phenomenal on the physical, is necessary but not a priori. However, what Chalmers and Jackson demonstrate, if anything, is that the conditional that includes all the microphysical plus the phenomenal in the antecedent, and nonphenomenal macro facts (such as facts about water and other natural kinds, among other things) in the consequent, is a priori. The question arises why, since facts about water and the like do not metaphysically supervene on the phenomenal facts, is it appropriate to include the phenomenal facts in the antecedent of the relevant supervenience conditional. This article argues for the following claims: First, that it's crucial to the general semantic framework Chalmers and Jackson defend that they do include the phenomenal facts in the supervenience conditional; without them, the conditional would not be a priori. Second, that the only way to argue from the a priori character of these conditionals to the applicability of modal rationalism to the nonphenomenal cases is to rely either on modal rationalism itself or on the denial of type-B materialism. Obviously, in the context of this argument, either way would beg the question. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Technorati What's this? (shrink)
In this paper I argue that color is a relational feature of the distal objects of perception, a way of appearing. I begin by outlining three constraints any theory of color should satisfy: (i) physicalism about the non-mental world, (ii) consistency with what is known from color science, and (iii) transparency about color experience. Traditional positions on the ontological status of color, such as physicalist reduction of color to spectral re?ectance, subjectivism, dispositional- ism, and primitivism, fail, I claim, to meet (...) all three constraints. By treating color as a relational property, a way of appearing, the three constraints can be met. However, serious problems for this view emerge when considering the relation between illusory color experiences (particularly hallucinations) and veridical color experiences. I do not propose a solution to these problems. (shrink)
In recent years, a renascent form of pragmatism has developed which argues that a satisfactory pragmatic position must integrate into itself the concepts of truth and objectivity. This New Pragmatism, as Cheryl Misak calls it, is directed primarily against Rorty's neo-pragmatic dismissal of these concepts. For Rorty, the goal of our epistemic practices should not be to achieve an objective view, one that tries to represent things as they are 'in themselves,' but rather to attain a view of things that (...) can gain as much inter-subjective agreement as possible. In Rorty's language, we need to replace the aim of objectivity with that of solidarity. While the New Pragmatists agree with Rorty's 'humanist' and .. (shrink)
In this paper, I attempt to demonstrate the structure of Sellars' critical direct realism in the philosophy of perception. This position is original because it attempts to balance two claims that many have thought to be incompatible: (1) that perceptual knowledge is direct, i.e., not inferential, and (2) that perceptual knowledge is irreducibly conceptual. Even though perceptual episodes are not the result of inferences, they must still stand within the space of reasons if they are to be counted not only (...) as knowledge, but also as thoughts directed at the world. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate how Sellars elaborates and defends this position. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Brandom's two-ply theory of action. For Brandom, action is the result of an agent acknowledging a practical commitment and then causally responding to that commitment by acting. Action is social because the content of the commitment upon which one acts is socially conferred in the game of giving and asking for reasons. On my proposal, instead of seeing action as the coupling of a rational capacity to acknowledge commitments and a non-rational capacity to reliably (...) respond to these commitments, we should see action as the coupling, or potential coupling, of a capacity to reason practically and a capacity to act on habits and bodily skills. In putting forward this alternative model of action, I aim to replace Brandom's rationalist brand of Pragmatism with a more classical kind, one that will let us see action as social not only at the level of reasons but also at the level of bodily habits and skills. (shrink)
In keeping with other recent efforts, Fodor's CONCEPTS focuses on the metaphysics of conceptual content, bracketing such epistemological questions as, "How can we know the contents of our concepts?" Fodor's metaphysical account of concepts, called "informational atomism," stipulates that the contents of a subject's concepts are fixed by the nomological lockings between the subject and the world. After sketching Fodor's "what else?" argument in support of this view, we offer a number of related criticisms. All point to the same conclusion: (...) Fodor is ultimately not merely bracketing the epistemology of conceptual content; his theory makes answers to the epistemological questions impossible. (shrink)
In his recent book, "The Metaphysicians of Meaning" (2000), Gideon Makin argues that in the so-called "Gray's Elegy" argument (the GEA) in "On Denoting", Russell provides decisive arguments against not only his own theory of denoting concepts but also Frege's theory of sense. I argue that by failing to recognize fundamental differences between the two theories, Makin fails to recognize that the GEA has less force against Frege's theory than against Russell's own earlier theory. While I agree with many aspects (...) of Makin's interpretation of the GEA, I differ with him regarding some significant details and present an interpretation according to which the GEA emerges as simpler, stronger, and more integrated. (shrink)
The Analytic Freud is an important and stimulating corrective to this overlooked but highly significant area. Moving away from the longstanding debate over the scientific status of Freudian theory, The Analytic Freud discusses the implications of Freud for philosophy in four clear sections: Philosophy of Mind Ethics Sexuality Civilization The essays discuss both the problems Freudian theory poses for contemporary philosophy and what philosophy can ask of Freudian theory. An international team of contributors explore the tensions and dialogue (...) between psychoanalysis and philosophical theories on emotion, will, self-deception, sexuality, love, humor, morality and social interaction, demonstrating how productive and mutually enhancing the relationship between philosophy and Freudian theory can be. Essential reading for all who are interested in philosophy and psychoanalysis, The Analytic Freud presents and enriching and timely discussion of Freud and contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Books reviewed in this essay:Fred d'Agostino, Naturalizing Epistemology: Thomas Kuhn and the Essential Tension (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)Edwin H.-C. Hung, Beyond Kuhn: Scientific Explanation, Theory Structure, Incommensurability and Physical Necessity (Hants: Ashgate, 2006)Hanne Andersen, Peter Barker, and Xiang Chen, The Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)Forty-eight years after the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, fourteen since the death of its author, Thomas S. Kuhn, and ten since the publication of the posthumous Road Since Structure (...) (2000), the Kuhn cottage industry continues to produce. In preparing this essay review I .. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Shaun Nichols (2002) presents a theory that offers an explanation of the cognitive processes underlying moral judgment. His Affect-Backed Norms theory claims that (i) a set of normative rules coupled with (ii) an affective mechanism elicits a certain response pattern (which we will refer to as the “moral norm response pattern”) when subjects respond to transgressions of those norms. That response pattern differs from the way subjects respond to violations of norms that lack the affective backing (...) (here referred to as the “conventional norm response pattern”). In response, Daniel Kelly and colleagues (2007) present data that, the authors claim, undermine Nichols’ Affect-Backed Norms theory by showing that there are novel cases in which (i) and (ii) are in place, yet subjects respond in the way typical of the conventional response pattern. In Section I of this paper we summarize the challenge to the Affect-Backed Norms theory from the novel cases introduced by Kelly et al. We then show how the challenge is potentially flawed because no verification was provided that subjects were experiencing affect when reading the cases, nor was level of affect controlled for. In Section II, we describe the study we conducted to determine what level of affect was induced when subjects read the novel cases. In Section III, we present our findings, namely that subjects respond to the novel cases with different levels of affect, which tracks their judgments of the severity of the transgressions in the cases. In Section IV, we discuss the results and show that the Affect-Backed Norms theory can explain subjects’ responses to the novel cases given this new 2 information about affective response. In Section V, we conclude with a thought about how these findings inform the traditional moral/conventional distinction. (shrink)
HUME THOUGHT THAT WE CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED IN BELIEVING AN EVENT E TO HAVE OCCURRED GIVEN E’S CHARACTERIZATION OF A VIOLATION OF A LAW OF NATURE. HE CLAIMS THAT HE IS USING AN ARGUMENT SIMILAR TO JOHN TILLOTSON’S AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION. A COMPARISON OF HUME’S ARGUMENT WITH TILLOTSON’S CAN HELP IN ANSWERING THE QUESTION OF WHETHER ONE CAN BE JUSTIFIED IN BELIEVING IN A MIRACLE. THE EVIDENTIAL VALUE OF BOTH TESTIMONY FOR, AND FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE OF, AN ALLEGED MIRACLE IS CONSIDERED. I (...) EXAMINE THE ARGUMENT AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION HUME PRESENTS AS TILLOTSON’S AND THEN CONSIDER HOW HUME’S ARGUMENT MAY BE "OF A LIKE NATURE" TO THE ARGUMENT HE ATTRIBUTES TO TILLOTSON. TILLOTSON’S ACTUAL ARGUMENT IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE HUME PRESENTS IN HIS NAME. (shrink)
This paper discusses the debate between atomists and molecularists regarding the nature of mental content. A molecularist believes that some, but not all, of a mental symbol's inferential connections to other mental symbols, are at least partly constitutive of that symbol's intentional content. An atomist believes that none of the symbol's inferential connections play such a constitutive role. The paper is divided into two principal parts. First, attempts by Michael Devitt and Georges Rey to defend molecularism against traditional Quinean arguments (...) are evaluated. The conclusion is that their attempts fall short of providing an adequate defense. Second, the prospects for an atomistic theory are investigated, building on the various remarks of Fodor and LePore in their book. Holism: A Shopper's Guide. It is argued that the prospects are better than at first they appear. (shrink)
‘Epistemics: an enterprise linking traditional epistemology, first with cognitive science and, second, with social scientific and humanistic disciplines that explore the interpersonal and cultural processes impinging on knowledge and belief’ (Epistemology and Cognition, p. vii).
Michael Dummett has long argued that Frege is committed to recognizing a distinction between two sorts of analysis of propositional contents: 'analysis', which reveals the entities that one must grasp in order to apprehend a given propositional content; and 'decomposition', which is used in recognizing the validity of certain inferences. Whereas any propositional content admits of a unique ultimate 'analysis' into simple constituents, it also admits of distinct 'decompositions', no one of which is ultimately privileged over the others. I argue (...) that although Russell accepts this distinction between analysis and decomposition, Frege does not. In particular, I consider claims which Dummett makes regarding how 'analysis' and 'decomposition' are related to two different models Frege at least suggests in discussing the composition of thoughts, the part/whole model and the function/argument model; and I argue that in each case, while Russell accepts views which Dummett attributes to Frege, Frege does not. (shrink)
Recently philosophers have appealed to the notion of a “demonstrative concept” to solve various puzzles. McDowell employs it to support his view that perceptual experience is conceptual, and Loar and others use it to provide an account of phenomenal concepts. The idea is that some concepts acquire their contents through demonstrations. I argue that there is no legitimate notion of demonstrative concept that can do this job.
In his book Truth and Justification Habermas replaces his long-held discourse-theoretic conception of truth with what he calls a pragmatic theory of truth. Instead of taking truth to originate in the communicative interactions between subjects, this new theory ties truth to the action contexts of the lifeworld, contexts where the existence of the world is ratified in practice. This, Habermas argues, overcomes the relativism and contextualism endemic to the linguistic turn. This article has two goals: (1) to chart in detail (...) how Habermas’ new theory of truth overcomes relativism and contextualism; and (2) to argue for the thesis that Habermas’ specific way of meeting this objective is flawed insofar as he resists relativism and contextualism by yoking truth to a concept of objectivity that is not consistent with the larger pragmatic transformation of his thought. (shrink)
Those who claim the concept of enlightenment (nibānna) has not evolved must rest their claim on a strong distinction between changing and variant interpretations of the concept on the one hand, and what the term really means or refers to on the other. This paper examines whether all evolution of the concept of enlightenment is best seen as interpretive variation rather than as embodying real notional change - a change in the reference of the term. It is implausible to suppose (...) that the enlightenment has not evolved, and also implausible to suppose that the notion of enlightenment is the same across various sects of Buddhism. Zen enlightenment is not the same as Theravada enlightenment. Two points of controversy about nibnna are discussed and Christian attitudes toward scripture are compared with those in Buddhism. (shrink)
The authors argue that the 'war on terror' marks the ultimate convergence of war with politics, and the virtual collapse of any meaningful distinction between them. Not only does it signify the breakdown of international relations norms but also the militarization of internal life and political discourse. They explore the 'genealogy' of this situation firstly through the notion of the 'state of exception'—in which sovereign violence becomes indistinct from the law that is supposed to curtail it—and secondly through Foucault's idea (...) that politics is essentially a form of warfare. They suggest that these two ways of approaching the question of violence can only be understood through a racist dimension, which forms the hidden underside of the 'war on terrorism'. In other words, our contemporary situation is characterized by the mobilization not only of fundamentalist and conservative ideologies, but, increasingly, racial antagonisms and prejudices directed towards the Muslim other. (shrink)
Penelope Maddy’s original solution to the dilemma posed by Benacerraf in his (1973) ‘Mathematical Truth’ was to reconcile mathematical empiricism with mathematical realism by arguing that we can perceive realistically construed sets. Though her hypothesis has attracted considerable critical attention, much of it, in my view, misses the point. In this paper I vigorously defend Maddy’s (1990) account against published criticisms, not because I think it is true, but because these criticisms have functioned to obscure a more fundamental issue that (...) is well worth addressing: in general – and not only in the mathematical domain – empiricism and realism simply cannot be reconciled by means of an account of perception anything like Maddy’s. But because Maddy’s account of perception is so plausible, this conclusion raises the specter of the broader incompatibility of realism and empiricism, which contemporary philosophers are frequently at pains to forget. (shrink)
Nineteenth and twentieth century philosophies of science have consistently failed to identify any rational basis for the compelling character of scientific analogies. This failure is particularly worrisome in light of the fact that the development and diffusion of certain scientific analogies, e.g. Darwin’s analogy between domestic breeds and naturally occurring species, constitute paradigm cases of good science. It is argued that the interactivist model, through the notion of a partition epistemology, provides a way to understand the persuasive character of compelling (...) scientific analogies without consigning them to an irrational or arational context of discovery. (shrink)