We argue that ritual is not a by-product as Boyer & Lienard (B&L) claim, but rather an evolved adaptation for social communication that facilitates non-agonistic social interactions among non-kin. We review the neurophysiological effects of ritual and propose neural structures and networks beyond the cortical-striato-pallidal-thalamic circuit (CSPT) likely to be implicated in ritual. The adaptationist approach to ritual offers a more parsimonious model for understanding these effects as well as the findings B&L present. (Published Online February 8 2007).
We argue that religious ritual's ability to facilitate communication and the pervasiveness of its basic characteristics across societies, as well as its precedence in other social species, suggests that religious behavior is more than a mere by-product. Religious constructs constitute associationally conditioned mnemonics that trigger neuroendocrine responses which motivate religious behaviors. The adaptive value of these constructs resides in their utility as memorable and emotionally evocative primes.
Juslin & Vll (J&V) advance our understanding of the proximate mechanisms underlying emotional responses to music, but fail to integrate their findings into a comprehensive evolutionary model that addresses the adaptive functions of these responses. Here we offer such a model by examining the ontogenetic relationship between music, ritual, and symbolic abstraction and their role in facilitating social coordination and cooperation.
This paper considers religion in relation to four recurrent traits: belief systems incorporating supernatural agents and counterintuitive concepts, communal ritual, separation of the sacred and the profane, and adolescence as a preferred developmental period for religious transmission. These co-occurring traits are viewed as an adaptive complex that offers clues to the evolution of religion from its nonhuman ritual roots. We consider the critical element differentiating religious from non-human ritual to be the conditioned association of emotion and abstract symbols. We propose (...) neurophysiological mechanisms underlying such associations and argue that the brain plasticity of human adolescence constitutes an “experience expectant” developmental period for ritual conditioning of sacred symbols. We suggest that such symbols evolved to solve an ecological problem by extending communication and coordination of social relations across time and space. (shrink)
In this essay, I analyze Steven Burik’s recent comparisons of Heidegger, Derrida, and Daoism to explore two problems in comparative thought. The first concerns metaphysics: Is metaphysics a bad thing—or even an avoidable thing? The second concerns language: Is there any danger in focusing on language—in losing the forest of philosophy for the trees of the language in which it is conducted? These questions orbit a more basic one: What is the goal of comparative philosophy? In part one, I sketch (...) Burik’s views on the nature and goals of comparative thought and his arguments for the usefulness of Heidegger, Derrida, and Daoism for pursuing these goals. In part two, I address three problems stemming from the book. (shrink)
The research reported in this paper set out to investigate ethics in the initial stages of construction projects. Briefing is the first real contact stage between the commissioner (client/employer) of a project — at this stage a potential project — and those involved in project realization — the designers and, subsequently, the constructors. It is well known that early decisions are of greatest impact and so, the importance of the initial contacts, communications and consequent decisions are paramount. Different project participants (...) are known to pursue individual objectives to varying degrees as well as possessing different perspectives and perceptions and operating/behaving in different ways. Hence, determination of the appropriate form, content etc. of a project is, inevitably, a matter of exercising value judgements and compromises and so, involves ethical considerations. A case study of a project through the briefing stage is reported and analysed, from initial contacts to scheme approval. It is apparent that a number of ethical concerns are manifest through the various actions of the major participants. (shrink)
Recently Geoffrey Miller has suggested that humor evolved through sexual selection as a signal of "creativity," which in turn implies youthfulness, intelligence, and adaptive unpredictability. Drawing upon available empirical studies, I argue that the evidence for a link between humor and creativity is weak and ambiguous. I also find only tenuous support for Miller’s assumption that the attractiveness of the "sense of humor" is to be found in the wittiness of its possessor, since those who use the phrase often seem (...) to associate it with the affects of relatively mirthless "bonding" laughter. Humor, I conclude, may have evolved as an instrument for achieving broad social adhesiveness and for facilitating the individual’s maneuverability within the group, but that it evolved through sexual selection has yet to be convincingly demonstrated. (shrink)
This paper has four parts. First, I attempt to pinpoint how and why Merleau-Ponty was driven to go beyond Husserlian phenomenology, and did so for what are, largely, Hegelian reasons. Second, I trace the parallels between Hegel’s “metaphysics of Spirit” and Merleau-Ponty’s “ontology of the Flesh,” stressing the thinkers’ consensus about the nature of philosophical method. Third, I identify Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms of Hegel’s approach, and assay his claim that Hegel’s system actually constitutes a lapse into a pre-critical, pre-Kantian, naïve metaphysics. (...) Fourth and finally, I examine how Merleau-Ponty’s critique of Hegel is tied to his investigation into the evolution of the concept of nature through the history of Western philosophy. My basic intention is to determine whether and to what extent Merleau-Ponty evades the very charges he levies against Hegel, and my basic claim is that he does. I conclude by suggesting some parallels between Merleau-Ponty’s later thought and the account of nature in Whitehead’s process philosophy that might tell us where to seek help for developing his later, enigmatic ideas once precedents in Continental thought have been exhausted. (shrink)
With the stages completion of the office buildings at the Government Office Precincts, staff have been relocating themselves from the previous office complex in Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya and tend to let themselves as full time Putrajaya residents. Thus, with the careful planning of having sufficient housing units to cater the influx Government staff, Precinct 9 is among the few pioneer sections of Putrajaya’s new Malaysia Federal Government Administrative Center to reside such an important administrators of the nations. Specially designed (...) high rise apartment and link houses been formulated to cater the need of the Government staff with the millennium concept of garden city’s ‘live-work’ environment. The completion of the terrace double storey garden houses with the nation’s first fenceless housing concept create a unique identity to this new millennium planned community. The study will just simply to study the impact of the designed houses that can be as a model where we think that the initiative of the Malaysian Federal Government in creating the new concept of borderless housing with such a high class accommodation just to cater their Government servants. (shrink)
Is unethical conduct necessarily irrational? Answering this question requires giving an account of practical reason, of practical good, and of the source or point of wrongdoing. By the time most contemporary philosophers have done the first two, they have lost sight of the third, chalking up bad action to rashness, weakness of will, or ignorance. In this book, Candace Vogler does all three, taking as her guides scholars who contemplated why some people perform evil deeds. In doing so, she (...) sets out to at once engage and redirect contemporary debates about ethics, practical reason, and normativity. -/- Staged as a limited defense of a standard view of practical reason (an ancestor of contemporary instrumentalist views), Vogler's essay develops Aquinas's remark about three ways an action might be desirable into an exhaustive system for categorizing reasons for acting. Drawing on Elizabeth Anscombe's pioneering work on intention, Vogler argues that one sort (means/end or calculative reasons for acting) sets the terms for all sound work on practical rationality. -/- She takes up Aquinas's work on evil throughout, arguing that he provides us with a systematic theory of immorality that takes seriously the goods at issue in wrongdoing and the reasons for unethical conduct. Vogler argues that, shorn of its theological context, this theory leaves us with no systematic, uncontroversial way of arguing that wrongdoing is necessarily contrary to reason. (shrink)
Arthur W. H. Adkins's writings have sparked debates among a wide range of scholars over the nature of ancient Greek ethics and its relevance to modern times. Demonstrating the breadth of his influence, the essays in this volume reveal how leading classicists, philosophers, legal theorists, and scholars of religion have incorporated Adkins's thought into their own diverse research. The timely subjects addressed by the contributors include the relation between literature and moral understanding, moral and nonmoral values, and the contemporary meaning (...) of ancient Greek ethics. The volume also includes an essay from the late Adkins himself illustrating his methodology in an analysis of the "Speech of Lysias" in Plato's Phaedrus . The Greeks and Us will interest all those concerned with how ancient moral values do or do not differ from our own. Contributors include Arthur W. H. Adkins, Stephanie Nelson, Martha C. Nussbaum, Paul Schollmeier, James Boyd White, Bernard Williams, and Lee Yearley. Commentaries by Wendy Doniger, Charles M. Gray, David Grene, Robert B. Louden, Richard Posner, and Candace Vogler. (shrink)
This article contributes to the development of a professional responsibility theory of public relations ethics. Toward that end, we examine the roles of a public relations practitioner as a professional, an institutional advocate, and the public conscience of institutions served. In the article, we review previously suggested theories of public relations ethics and propose a new theory based on the public relations professional's dual obligations to serve client organizations and the public interest.
In this paper, I defend a local account of character traits that posits traits like close-friend-honesty and good-mood-compassion. John Doris also defends local character traits, but his local character traits are indistinguishable from mere behavioral dispositions, they are not necessary for the purpose which allegedly justifies them, and their justification is only contingent, depending upon the prevailing empirical situation. The account of local traits I defend posits local traits that are traits of character rather than behavioral dispositions, local traits that (...) are necessary to satisfy one of their central purposes, and local traits whose justification is dependent upon theoretical rather than empirical considerations. (shrink)