A World for Us aims to refute physical realism and establish in its place a form of idealism. Physical realism, in the sense in which John Foster understands it, takes the physical world to be something whose existence is both logically independent of the human mind and metaphysically fundamental. Foster identifies a number of problems for this realist view, but his main objection is that it does not accord the world the requisite empirical immanence. The form of idealism (...) that he tries to establish in its place rejects the realist view in both its aspects. It takes the world to be something whose existence is ultimately constituted by facts about human sensory experience, or by some richer complex of non-physical facts in which such experiential facts centrally feature. Foster calls this phenomenalistic idealism. He tries to establish a specific version of such phenomenalistic idealism, in which the experiential facts that centrally feature in the constitutive creation of the world are ones that concern the organization of human sensory experience. The basic idea of this version is that, in the context of certain other constitutively relevant factors, this sensory organization creates the physical world by disposing things to appear systematically world-wise at the human empirical viewpoint. Chief among these other relevant factors is the role of God as the one who is responsible for the sensory organization and ordains the system of appearance it yields. It is this that gives the idealistically created world its objectivity and allows it to qualify as a real world. (shrink)
John Foster addresses the question: what is it to perceive a physical object? He rejects the view that we perceive such objects directly, and argues for a new version of the traditional empiricist account, which locates the immediate objects of perception in the mind. But this account seems to imply that we do not perceive physical objects at all. Foster offers a surprising solution, which involves embracing an idealist view of the physical world.
John Foster presents a clear and powerful discussion of a range of topics relating to our understanding of the universe: induction, laws of nature, and the existence of God. He begins by developing a solution to the problem of induction - a solution whose key idea is that the regularities in the workings of nature that have held in our experience hitherto are to be explained by appeal to the controlling influence of laws, as forms of natural necessity. His (...) second line of argument focuses on the issue of what we should take such necessitational laws to be, and whether we can even make sense of them at all. Having considered and rejected various alternatives, Foster puts forward his own proposal: the obtaining of a law consists in the causal imposing of a regularity on the universe as a regularity. With this causal account of laws in place, he is now equipped to offer an argument for theism. His claim is that natural regularities call for explanation, and that, whatever explanatory role we may initially assign to laws, the only plausible ultimate explanation is in terms of the agency of God. Finally, he argues that, once we accept the existence of God, we need to think of him as creating the universe by a method which imposes regularities on it in the relevant law-yielding way. In this new perspective, the original nomological-explanatory solution to the problem of induction becomes a theological-explanatory solution. The Divine Lawmaker is bold and original in its approach, and rich in argument. The issues on which it focuses are among the most important in the whole epistemological and metaphysical spectrum. (shrink)
This discussion, featuring short comments by R. Melvin Keiser, Durwood Foster, Richard Gelwick and Donald Musser, grew out of articles in TAD 35:3 (2008-2009) on connections and disconnections between the thought of Polanyi and Tillich (featuring essays by Foster and Gelwick with a response from Musser). Keiser raises questions about perspectives articulated in the earlier articles and Foster, Gelwick and Musser respond here.
Harry Frankfurt characterizes love as “a disinterested concern for the existence of what is loved, and for what is good for it.” As such, he views romantic love as an inauthentic paradigm for love since such love desires reciprocation, sexual gratification and so on. I argue that Frankfurt’s conception of love is (a) too general—he does not distinguish between the type of love one has for one’s partner, one’s country, a moral ideal, etc., (b) it overemphasizes the role of bestowal (...) at the expense of the part played by appraisal and (c) it is insufficiently social. Certain forms of love, romantic love and friendship for instance, are defined largely in terms of reciprocation. For Frankfurt, reciprocation is somewhat of an accidental feature of love. This deficiency in Frankfurt’s conception of love can be traced to a problem in his conception of selfhood which I argue is insufficiently social in nature. (shrink)
The regularities in nature, simply by being regularities, call for explanation. There are only two ways in which we could, with any plausibility, try to explain them. One way would be to suppose that they are imposed on the world by God. The other would be to suppose that they reflect the presence of laws of nature, conceived of as forms of natural necessity. But the only way of making sense of the notion of a law of nature, thus conceived, (...) is by construing a law as the causing of the associated regularity, and the only remotely plausible account of such causing would be in terms of the agency of God. So, by whichever route, we are led to the conclusion that the regularities are brought about by God. So the presence of the regularities in nature provides us with a strong case for accepting the existence of God. (shrink)
In Consciousness Explained, Dennett elaborates and defends a materialist?functionalist account of the human mind, and of consciousness in particular. This defence depends crucially on his prior rejection of dualism. Dennett rejects this dualist alternative on three grounds: first, that its version of mind?to?body causation is in conflict with what we know, or have good reason to believe, from the findings of physical science; second, that the very notion of dualistic psychophysical causation is incoherent; and third, that dualism puts the mind (...) beyond the reach of scientific investigation. In each case, his reasoning is unconvincing, and indeed leaves the dualist entirely unscathed. In contrast, without an adequate basis for his rejection of dualism, Dennett himself is left with a theory which is vulnerable to a number of familiar objections. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that a recovery of the cognitive role of the experiencing subject is the common theme uniting Theodor Adorno's philosophy and Marcel Proust's literary project. This shared commitment is evidenced by the importance given by both thinkers to the expressive dimension of language in relation to its social function as a vehicle for communication. Furthermore, I argue that Adorno and Proust conceive of language's expressive dimension as the expression of suffering. However, whereas, for Proust, this means (...) the private suffering of the artist transforming itself into a work of art, for Adorno it means suffering that is rooted in sociohistorical conditions. It is this thesis, I suggest, that enables Adorno to employ the recovery of the experiencing subject as a form of social criticism. (shrink)
I argue that the reflections on language in Adorno and Heidegger have their common root in a modernist problematic that dissected experience into ordinary experience, and transfiguring experiences that are beyond the capacity for expression of our language. I argue that Adorno’s solution to this problem is the more resolutely “modernist” one, in that Adorno is more rigorous about preserving the distinction between what can be said, and what strives for expression in language. After outlining the definitive statement of this (...) problematic in Nietzsche’s early epistemological writings, I outline Heidegger’s solution and subsequently Adorno’s critique of Heidegger. Finally, I argue that situating Adorno within the modernist problem of language and expression is crucial for making sense of his philosophy as a form of critical theory. (shrink)
For a stable visual world, the colours of objects should appear the same under different lights. This property of colour constancy has been assumed to be fundamental to vision, and many experimental attempts have been made to quantify it. I contend here, however, that the usual methods of measurement are either too coarse or concentrate not on colour constancy itself, but on other, complementary aspects of scene perception. Whether colour constancy exists other than in nominal terms remains unclear.
This article reviews the use of implantable radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags in humans, focusing on the VeriChip (VeriChip Corporation, Delray Beach, FL) and the associated VeriMed patient identification system. In addition, various nonmedical applications for implanted RFID tags in humans have been proposed. The technology offers important health and nonhealth benefits, but raises ethical concerns, including privacy and the potential for coercive implantation of RFID tags in individuals. A national discussion is needed to identify the limits of acceptable use of (...) implantable RFID tags in humans before their use becomes widespread and it becomes too late to prevent misuse of this useful but ethically problematic technology. (shrink)
There are three potential problems with using virtue theory to develop an environmental ethic. First, Aristotelian virtue theory is ratiocentric. Later philosophers have objected that Aristotle’s preference for reason creates a distorted picture of the human good. Overvaluing reason might well bias virtue theory against the value of non-rational beings. Second, virtue theory is egocentric. Hence, it is suited to developing a conception of the good life, but it is not suited to considering obligations to others. Third, virtue theory is (...) notoriously bad at providing rules and procedures for resolving ethical questions about particular circumstances. But environmentalists need procedures for determining which of several conflicting values is most important. Virtue theory is not action guiding. I respond to each of these problems. I show that virtue theory is uniquely suited to answering ethical questions about nonhuman animals and the environment. (shrink)
This paper presents the philosophies of J.-F. Lyotard and J. Habermas as motivated by the common goal of conceiving a credible theory of social justice whilst avoiding the aporias of the philosophy of subjectivity. It is argued that each constructs a conception of social justice through conceiving domination within the philosophical framework furnished by the linguistic turn. This argument will involve an examination of the divergent readings given by these thinkers of the relation between injustice and language use. Lyotard's critique (...) of Habermas's philosophy is then examined. It is maintained that Lyotard's notion of aesthetic presentation sheds light on an important deficiency in Habermas's attempt to conceive justice in terms of the emancipatory potential of communicative speech. Lyotard's theory of justice is then defended against the charge that it constitutes a renouncement of normative critique. However, the defence of Lyotard is tentative, since, it is argued, the commitment to the paradigm of Kantian aesthetics poses problems for Lyotard's critique of the subjective foundationalist project. Key Words: Habermas á justice language Lyotard universalism. (shrink)
This paper investigates the implications of Pierre Bourdieus recent reformulation of his social theory as a critique of scholarly reason. This reformulation is said to point towards a definition of social theory as a sociologically informed version of the Kantian concept of critique. It is argued that, by this means, Bourdieu is able to extend and develop the critique of intellectualism in the philosophies of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty and, furthermore, to ground this critique by showing how the intellectualist error arises (...) from a failure to reflect on the social conditions of possibility of reason. The three forms of the critique of scholarly reason (pertaining to the theoretical, the moral-practical and the aesthetic forms of reason) are then briefly presented. In the final section, the critique of scholarly reason is shown to provide the basis for a convincing response to critiques of Bourdieus work from critical theorists drawing on Habermass conception of discursive rationality. In particular, it is argued that critical theorists influenced by Habermas typically confuse practical reflexivity with intellectual reflection - the standpoint of scholarly reason. Finally, it is shown that Bourdieus own account of the unity of theory and practice is nonetheless deficient, and must be supplanted with an account centred on the idea of existential clarification. Key Words: Bourdieu critical theory Habermas intellectualism reflexivity. (shrink)
A modern form of narrative, comic books are used to communicate, discuss, and critique issues in business ethics and social issues in management. A description of comic books as a legitimate medium is followed by a discussion of the pedagogical uses of comic books and assessment techniques. The strengths of the pedagogy include crossing cultural barriers, understanding the complexity of individual decision-making and organizational influences, and the universality of dilemmas and values. We provide an initial source for educators on the (...) topics, comic books, plotlines, and other commentary for consideration of use in the classroom from high school to graduate business ethics and social issues in management courses. (shrink)
The paper builds an argument about empathy, kinesthesia, choreography, and power as they were constituted in early eighteenth century France. It examines the conditions under which one body could claim to know what another body was feeling, using two sets of documents – philosophical examinations of perception and kinesthesia by Condillac and notations of dances published by Feuillet. Reading these documents intertextually, I postulate a kind of corporeal episteme that grounds how the body is constructed. And I endeavor to (...) situate this body within the colonial and expansionist politics of its historical moment. (shrink)
My paper argues that Jürgen Habermas’s transformation of critical social theory seriously weakens the potential of the concept of instrumental reason as a tool of social critique. I defend the central role of the concept of instrumental reason in both i) the critique of social injustice, and ii) the diagnosis of pathologies of meaning stemming from cultural modernization. However, I argue that the root of these problems cannot come into view from within the Habermasian paradigm. Contra Habermas, I argue that (...) the problem of a ‘loss of freedom’ is better characterized as a process of integration through power; the problem of a ‘loss of meaning’ must also be reconceived as a problem of moral disintegration. My claim is that a proper understanding of these processes requires an engagement with the understanding of instrumental reason in earlier critical theory as primarily a distortion of the relation of language and experience. This necessitates rethinking the task of critical social theory along the lines of the concept of Selbstbesinnung (self-awareness) rather than according to Habermas’s Kantianized version of self-reflection. (shrink)
The social exchange theory of reasoning, which is championed by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, falls under the general rubric evolutionary psychology and asserts that human reasoning is governed by content-dependent, domain-specific, evolutionarily-derived algorithms. According to Cosmides and Tooby, the presumptive existence of what they call cheater-detection algorithms disconfirms the claim that we reason via general-purpose mechanisms or via inductively acquired principles. We contend that the Cosmides/Tooby arguments in favor of domain-specific algorithms or evolutionarily-derived mechanisms fail and that the notion (...) of a social exchange rule, which is central to their theory, is not correctly characterized. As a consequence, whether or not their conclusion is true cannot be established on the basis of the arguments they have presented. (shrink)
This commentary provides a critique of Tsuda's target article, focusing on the hippocampus and episodic long-term memory. More specifically, the relevance of Cantor coding and chaotic itinerancy for long-term memory functioning is considered, given what we know about the involvement of the hippocampus in the mediation of long-term episodic memory (based on empirical neuroimaging studies and investigations of brain-damaged amnesic patients).
This commentary seeks to place Farah's (1994) arguments in the historical context of ideas about mind-brain relationships. It further seeks to draw a conceptual parallel between the issues considered by Farah in her target article and questions which have concerned neuroscientists since the nineteenth century regarding the functional organization of the brain. Specific reference is made to the relationship between use of the concept of in cognitive neuropsychology and use of the concept of in neuroscience.
Strategies for protecting historically disadvantaged groups have been extensively debated in the context of genetic variation research, making this a useful starting point in examining the protection of social groups from harm resulting from biomedical research. We analyze research practices developed in response to concerns about the involvement of indigenous communities in studies of genetic variation and consider their potential application in other contexts. We highlight several conceptual ambiguities and practical challenges associated with the protection of group interests and argue (...) that protectionist strategies developed in the context of genetic research will not be easily adapted to other types of research in which social groups are placed at risk. We suggest that it is this set of conceptual and practical issues that philosophers, ethicists, and others should focus on in their efforts to protect identifiable social groups from harm resulting from biomedical research. (shrink)
Arbib, Érdi, and Szentágothai's book seeks to present a multidisciplinary, multistrategied approach to the study of the mind-brain, encompassing structural, functional, and dynamic perspectives. However, the articulated framework is somewhat underspecified at the cognitive level. The representational level of analysis will need to be fleshed out if the explanatory potential of Arbib et al.'s framework is to be fulfilled.
In this target article, Walker seeks to clarify the current state of knowledge regarding sleep and memory. Walker's review represents an impressively heuristic attempt to synthesize the relevant literature. In this commentary, we question the focus on procedural memory and the use of the term “consolidation,” and we consider the extent to which empirically testable predictions can be derived from Walker's model.