Recent work in experimental philosophy has shown that people are more likely to attribute intentionality, knowledge, and other psychological properties to someone who causes a bad side effect than to someone who causes a good one. We argue that all of these asymmetries can be explained in terms of a single underlying asymmetry involving belief attribution because the belief that one’s action would result in a certain side effect is a necessary component of each of the psychological attitudes in question. (...) We argue further that this belief-attribution asymmetry is rational because it mirrors a belief-formation asymmetry, and that the belief-formation asymmetry is also rational because it is more useful to form some beliefs than others. (shrink)
Recent findings in experimental philosophy have revealed that people attribute intentionality, belief, desire, knowledge, and blame asymmetrically to side- effects depending on whether the agent who produces the side-effect violates or adheres to a norm. Although the original (and still common) test for this effect involved a chairman helping or harming the environment, hardly any of these findings have been applied to business ethics. We review what little exploration of the implications for business ethics has been done. Then, we present (...) new experimental results that expand the attribution asymmetry to virtue and vice. We also examine whether it matters to people that an effect was produced as a primary or side- effect, as well as how consumer habits might be affected by this phenomenon. These results lead to the conclusion that it appears to be in a businessperson’s self-interest to be virtuous. (shrink)
Questions about perception remain some of the most difficult and insoluble in both epistemology and the philosophy of mind. Perception provides a highly accessible introduction to the area, exploring the philosophical importance of those questions by re-examining the sense-datum theory, once the most popular theory of perception. Howard Robinson surveys the history of arguments for and against the sense-datum theory, from Descartes to Husserl. Robinson contends that the objections to the theory, particularly Wittgenstein's attack on privacy and those (...) of the physicalists, have been unsuccessful. He argues for returning to the theory in order to understand perception. In doing so, he seeks to overturn a consensus that has dominated the philosophy of perception for nearly half a century. (shrink)
William S. Robinson has for many years written insightfully about the mind-body problem. In Understanding Phenomenal Consciousness he focuses on sensory experience (eg, pain, afterimages) and perception qualities such as colors, sounds and odors to present a dualistic view of the mind, called Qualitative Event Realism, that goes against the dominant materialist views. This theory is relevant to the development of a science of consciousness which is now being pursued not only by philosophers but by researchers in psychology and (...) the brain sciences. This provocative book will interest students and professionals who work in the philosophy of mind and will also have cross-disciplinary appeal in cognitive psychology and the brain sciences. (shrink)
Although this appeared after the debate between Victor and Zelm, logically it is prior, for Robinson's critique of conventional marriage sets the stage for the other two to consider the anarchist alternatives. Actually, Robinson does offer a vague alternative, on which most anarchists could agree, sexual relationships based on consent rather than compulsion. However, he also argues that this ideal was not designed to break up marriages nor to increase promiscuity, for relationships already based on consent and friendship (...) could only be strengthened by removing the aspect of compulsion. In this sense, Robinson's critique of existing marriage strongly parallels the critique of economic monopoly, and his ideal seems to be "free competition" for love and companionship. (shrink)
Reviewed in: The Journal of the History of the Neural Sciences, 2011 (vol. 20, no. 2) Consciousness and Mental Life by Daniel N. Robinson This book is a refreshingly philosophical treatise on a topic that frequently falls victim to the predatory nature of the scientist's red herring. Not to detract from the merit of this pervasive red herring, but many volumes ostensibly about consciousness end up being little more than books on “mental life.” Expounding on the anatomical and cognitive (...) fascinations that lure so many into the various fields of the neurosciences, the discourses neglect to directly address “consciousness” itself in the process. By sticking to the realm of philosophy, Robinson successfully avoids this misrepresentation of the titular topic “consciousness.”...The author sets out to defend an elite selection of classical philosophers — including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Dewey, Russell, Wittgenstein — while also introducing more contemporary theories and examples. Robinson is honorably unbiased through most of this pursuit. He defends ideas that have earned their place in history while accomplishing exactly what he sets out to accomplish...When he does build an argument on questionable basic tenets, he is unequivocal: Whether one agrees with Robinson or not, readers at the very least will know whether they agree or disagree. Robinson is quite clear about where he stands, and his arguments allow the reader to further develop their own stance, regardless of whether the reader and Robinson are standing on separate planes. One of the attractive features of this book, and perhaps the strongest bolster to Robinson's defense lies in his provision of background and zeitgeist information in the early chapters. For example, in a chapter devoted to Descartes and his influence, the reader is briefly presented with Descartes’ education and the intellectual culture surrounding his work. Because the absence of such information has often been the cause of misunderstanding and neglect, this remembrance is a good scaffold for Robinson's points that follow. As to the style of the writing itself, it is nonpedantic and includes passages of great prose...I would frequently read a couple paragraphs, already have a question forming in my mind, and then be delighted, even awed, that the next few paragraphs addressed the question I was evolving...The book is not meant to be a comprehensive evaluation of all the philosophical viewpoints or musings on consciousness. It is a refreshing look at ideas that are no longer fresh for most readers...For the expert or well-versed person in theories of consciousness, Robinson's book is an asset...It requires concentration. But the effort will be duly rewarded... Christy M. Kelley Department of Neurological Sciences Rush University Medical Center, Chicago . (shrink)
Philosophy and Mystification is a work of philosophy in and of itself as much as it is a book about philosophy. Its reflections on the nature, methods and resources of philosophic enquiry are carefully grounded in the central problems that have dogged Western philosophy in the modern era: logical necessity, machine intelligence, the relation of science and religion, determinism, skepticism and the question of foundations and origins. Guy Robinson argues that a conception of philosophy was adopted in the (...) 17th century that required us to see the "world upside-down", creating abstract and mystified entities to explain the ordinary and concrete, requiring us to explain the social in terms of the individual, and the human and purposive in terms of the mechanical, and not only to see nature as a vast mechanism but science as a mechanical activity whose rules it was the business of the philosopher to discover. (shrink)
"An American psychologist, Daniel N. Robinson, traces the development of the insanity plea...[He offers] an assured historical survey." Roy Porter, The Times [UK] "Wild Beasts and Idle Humours is truly unique. It synthesizes material that I do not believe has ever been considered in this context, and links up the historical past with contemporaneous values and politics. Robinson effortlessly weaves religious history, literary history, medical history, and political history, and demonstrates how the insanity defense cannot be fully understood (...) without consideration of all these sources." Michael L. Perlin, New York Law School "Daniel N. Robinson has written a graceful history of insanity and the law stretching from Homer to Hinckley. He attempts no final theory as to how the law should cope with the insane; he seeks, rather, to use the shifting notions of when madness exculpates criminal activity to illuminate the core self-perceptions of the cultures developing ever-evolving resolutions of the problem...[T]he grandeur of the theme...commands attention and respect." --Neal Johnston, The Nation . (shrink)
Drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce, Robinson develops a ‘semiotic model’ of the Trinity and proposes a new theology of nature according to which the evolving cosmos may be understood as bearing ‘vestiges of the Trinity in ...
Deeper than Reason takes the insights of modern psychological and neuroscientific research on the emotions and brings them to bear on questions about our emotional involvement with the arts. Robinson begins by laying out a theory of emotion, one that is supported by the best evidence from current empirical work on emotions, and then in the light of this theory examines some of the ways in which the emotions function in the arts. Written in a clear and engaging style, (...) her book will make fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in the emotions and how they work, as well as anyone engaged with the arts and aesthetics, especially with questions about emotional expression in the arts, emotional experience of art forms, and, more generally, artistic interpretation. -/- Part One develops a theory of emotions as processes, having at their core non-cognitive 'instinctive' appraisals, 'deeper than reason', which automatically induce physiological changes and action tendencies, and which then give way to cognitive monitoring of the situation. Part Two examines the role of the emotions in understanding literature, especially the great realistic novels of the nineteenth century. Robinson argues that such works need to be experienced emotionally if they are to be properly understood. A detailed reading of Edith Wharton's novel The Reef demonstrates how a great novel can educate us emotionally by first evoking instinctive emotional responses and then getting us to cognitively monitor and reflect upon them. Part Three puts forward a new Romantic theory of emotional expression in the arts. Part Four deals with music, both the emotional expression of emotion in music, whether vocal or instrumental, and the arousal of emotion by music. The way music arouses emotion lends indirect support to the theory of emotion outlined in Part One. -/- While grounded in the science of emotion, Deeper than Reason demonstrates the continuing importance of the arts and humanities to our lives. (shrink)
Epiphenomenalism is the view that mental events are caused by physical events in the brain, but have no effects upon any physical events. Behavior is caused by muscles that contract upon receiving neural impulses, and neural impulses are generated by input from other neurons or from sense organs. On the epiphenomenalist view, mental events play no causal role in this process. Huxley (1874), who held the view, compared mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work of (...) a locomotive. James (1879), who rejected the view, characterized epiphenomenalists' mental events as not affecting the brain activity that produces them "any more than a shadow reacts upon the steps of the traveller whom it accompanies". (shrink)
I claim that there are four major strands of argument for externalism and set out to discuss three of them. The four are: (A) That referential thoughts are object-dependent. This I do not discuss. (B) That the semantics of natural kind terms is externalist. (C) That all semantic content, even of descriptive terms, stems from the causal relations of representations to the things or properties they designate in the external world. (D) That, because meaning is a social product and no (...) individual can capture the whole social practice that defines a concept, what the speaker means always outruns what he can know.I briefiy discuss (C) and (D) and conclude that they cannot be correct, because, if they were, the content of every thought would permanently transcend the refiective grasp of all thinkers. Then I discuss (B) and conclude that, though Putnam shows something interesting about natural kind terms -- namely that a real verbal definition requires science -- this has none of the consequences for philosophy of mind that it is normally supposed to have. (shrink)
This paper begins with a summary of an argument for epiphenomenalism and a review of the author's previous work on the self-stultification objection to that view. The heart of the paper considers an objection to this previous work and provides a new response to it. Questions for this new response are considered and a view is developed in which knowledge of our own mentality is seen to differ from our knowledge of external things.
. An attempt is made to identify a concept of ‘downward causation’ that will fit the claims of some recent writers and apply to interesting cases in biology and cognitive theory, but not to trivial cases. After noting some difficulties in achieving this task, it is proposed that in interesting cases commonly used to illustrate ‘downward causation’, (a) regularities hold between multiply realizable properties and (b) the explanation of the parallel regularity at the level of the realizing properties is non-trivial. (...) It is argued that the relation between a realizable property and the property that realizes its effect in a particular case is not usefully regarded as a species of causation and that use of the concept of downward causation deflects our attention from our central explanatory tasks. (shrink)
This entry concerns dualism in the philosophy of mind. The term ‘dualism’ has a variety of uses in the history of thought. In general, the idea is that, for some particular domain, there are two fundamental kinds or categories of things or principles. In theology, for example a ‘dualist’ is someone who believes that Good and Evil — or God and the Devil — are independent and more or less equal forces in the world. Dualism contrasts with monism, which is (...) the theory that there is only one fundamental kind, category of thing or principle; and, rather less commonly, with pluralism, which is the view that there are many kinds or categories. In the philosophy of mind, dualism is the theory that the mental and the physical — or mind and body or mind and brain — are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. Because common sense tells us that there are physical bodies, and because there is intellectual pressure towards producing a unified view of the world, one could say that materialist monism is the ‘default option’. Discussion about dualism, therefore, tends to start from the assumption of the reality of the physical world, and then to consider arguments for why the mind cannot be treated as simply part of that world. (shrink)
Silent thinking is often accompanied by subvocal sayings to ourselves, imagery, emotional feelings, and non-sensory experiences such as familiarity, rightness, and confidence that we can go on in certain ways. Phenomenological materials of these kinds, along with our dispositions to give explanations or draw inferences, provide resources that are sufficient to account for our knowledge of what we think, desire, and so on. We do not need to suppose that there is a distinctive, non-imagistic 'what it is like' to think (...) that p, and a different non-imagistic 'what it is like' to think that q. Nor need we suppose that there is a proprietary 'what it is like' to have one propositional attitude type rather than another. (shrink)
Gilbert Harman (1990) seeks to defend psychophysical functionalism by articulating a representationalist view of the qualities of experience. The negative side of the present paper argues that the resources of this representationalist view are insufficient to ground the evident distinction between perception and (mere) thought. This failure makes the view unable to support the uses to which Harman wishes to put it. Several rescuing moves by other representationalists are considered, but none is found successful. Part of the difficulty in Harman's (...) (...) work is that he does not adequately specify the view he rejects. The positive aim of the present paper is to provide a robust intrinsic quality account of experience that offers advantages in comparison with Harman's view, and that plainly does not fall to any of the arguments he advances. (shrink)
Competitive negotiators frequently use tactics which others view as "unethical", in that these tactics either violate standards of truth telling or violate the perceived rules of negotiation. This paper sought to determine how business students viewed a number of marginally ethical negotiating tactics, and to determine the underlying factor structure of these tactics. The factor analysis of these tactics revealed five clear factors which were highly similar across the two samples, and which parallel (to a moderate degree) categories of tactics (...) proposed by earlier theory. Data from one sample also permitted comparisons of the appropriateness of certain tactics across gender, nationality, ethnic origin and perception of one's negotiating style. (shrink)
Frank Jackson has abandoned his famous knowledge argument, and has explained why in a brief "Postscript on Qualia" (1998). This explanation consists of a direct argument, and an attempt to explain away the intuition that lies at the heart of the knowledge argument. The direct argument is clarified and found to be subtly question-begging. The attempt to explain away the key intuition is reviewed and found to be inadequate. False memory traces, which Jackson mentions at the beginning of the direct (...) argument, are discussed and found not to materially affect the force of the knowledge argument. (shrink)
Nicholas Nathan tries to resist the current version of the causal argument for sense-data in two ways. First he suggests that, on what he considers to be the correct reconstruction of the argument, it equivocates on the sense of proximate cause. Second, he defends a form of disjunctivism, by claiming that there might be an extra mechanism involved in producing veridical hallucination that is not present in perception. I argue that Nathan’s reconstruction of the argument is not the appropriate one, (...) and that, properly interpreted, the argument does not equivocate on proximate cause. Furthermore, I claim that his postulation of a modified mechanism for hallucinations is implausibly ad hoc. (shrink)
The liking of a sensation, e.g., a taste, is a conscious occurrent but does not consist in having the liked sensation accompanied by a "pleasure sensation" - for there is no such sensation. Several alternative accounts of liking, including Aydede's "feeling episode" theory and Schroeder's representationalist theory are considered. The proposal that liking a sensation is having the non-sensory experience of liking directed upon it is explained and defended. The pleasure provided by thoughts, conversations, walks, etc., is analyzed and brought (...) into relation to the account of liking one's sensations. (shrink)
Computationalist theories of mind require brain symbols, that is, neural events that represent kinds or instances of kinds. Standard models of computation require multiple inscriptions of symbols with the same representational content. The satisfaction of two conditions makes it easy to see how this requirement is met in computers, but we have no reason to think that these conditions are satisfied in the brain. Thus, if we wish to give computationalist explanations of human cognition, without committing ourselvesa priori to a (...) strong and unsupported claim in neuroscience, we must first either explain how we can provide multiple brain symbols with the same content, or explain how we can abandon standard models of computation. It is argued that both of these alternatives require us to explain the execution of complex tasks that have a cognition-like structure. Circularity or regress are thus threatened, unless noncomputationalist principles can provide the required explanations. But in the latter case, we do not know that noncomputationalist principles might not bear most of the weight of explaining cognition. Four possible types of computationalist theory are discussed; none appears to provide a promising solution to the problem. Thus, despite known difficulties in noncomputationalist investigations, we have every reason to pursue the search for noncomputationalist principles in cognitive theory. (shrink)
Daniel Dennett (1991) has advanced a mild realism in which beliefs are described as patterns “discernible in agents' (observable) behavior” (p. 30). I clarify the conflict between this otherwise attractive theory and the strong realist view that beliefs are internal states that cause actions. Support for strong realism is sometimes derived from the assumption that the everyday psychology of the folk is committed to it. My main thesis here is that we have sufficient reason neither for strong realism nor for (...) the supporting assumption about the commitments of folk psychology. Several generally implicit arguments in support of the latter assumption are considered. Explicit arguments for it by Ramsey et al. (1990) and Wellman (1990) are examined and judged unsuccessful. An explicit argument for strong realism by Cummins (in conversation) is also found inadequate. Consideration of this latter argument helps to explain why we cannot be satisfied with Dennett's own very brief discussion of causation by beliefs. (shrink)
In a series of works, Peter Carruthers has argued for the denial of the title proposition. Here, I defend that proposition by offering direct support drawn from relevant sciences and by undercutting Carruthers argument. In doing the latter, I distinguish an intrinsic theory of consciousness from Carruthers relational theory of consciousness. This relational theory has two readings, one of which makes essential appeal to evolutionary theory. I argue that neither reading offers a successful view.
This commentary begins by explaining how Mangan's important work leads to a question about the relation between non-sensory experiences and perception. Reflection on affect then suggests an addition to Mangan's view that may be helpful on this and perhaps some other questions. Finally, it is argued that acceptance of non-sensory experiences is fully compatible with epiphenomenalism.
This paper examines one nascent entrepreneurial endeavour intended by Canada's Stem Cell Network to catalyze the commercialization of stem cell research: the creation of a company called "Aggregate Therapeutics". We argue that this initiative, in its current configuration, is likely to result in a breach of public trust owing to three inter-related concerns: conflicts of interest; corporate influence on the university research agenda; and the failure to provide some form of direct return for the public's substantial tax dollar investment. These (...) concerns are common to many efforts to commercialize academic science but are rendered particularly acute in this case given the therapeutic promise of stem cell research and the considerable number of resources related to stem cell research in Canada, which Aggregate Therapeutics is expected to pool. We do, however, believe that the company can be altered to guard against a violation of the public's trust, and so we present concrete modifications to its structure, which we contend should be given immediate consideration. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars has proposed a materialist account of sensation which relies in part on the postulation of special kinds of individuals. This postulational strategy appears to be analogous to the one that introduces such entities as electrons. After setting out Sellars' account, I focus on his application of the postulational strategy. I argue that this application requires the discovery of new effects for familiar properties; that this kind of discovery is disanalogous to what postulation usually does; and that this kind (...) of discovery cannot really be arrived at by postulation. I conclude that Sellars has not provided a successful, materialist account of sensation. (shrink)
Physicalism has, over the past twenty years, become almost an orthodoxy, especially in the philosophy of mind. Many philosophers, however, feel uneasy about this development, and this volume is intended as a collective response to it. Together these papers, written by philosophers from Britain, the United States, and Australasia, show that physicalism faces enormous problems in every area in which it is discussed. The contributors not only investigate the well-known difficulties that physicalism has in accommodating sensory consciousness, but also bring (...) out its inadequacies in dealing with thought, intentionality, abstract objects, (such as numbers), and principles of both theoretical and practical reason; even its ability to cope with the physical world itself is called into question. Both strong "reductionist" versions and weaker "supervenience" theories are discussed and found to face different but equally formidable obstacles. Contributors include George Bealer, Peter Forrest, John Foster, Grant Gillett, Bob Hale, Michael Lockwood, George Myro, Nicholas Nathan, David Smith, Steven Wagner, Ralph Walker, and Richard Warner. (shrink)