The relationship between alethic modality and indeterminacy is yet to be clarified. A modal argument—an argument that appeals to alethic modality—against vague objects given by Joseph Moore offers a potential clarification of the relationship; it is proposed that there are cases for which the following holds: if it is indeterminate whether A = B then it is possible that it is determinate that A = B. However, the argument faces three problems. The problems remove the argument’s threat against vague objects (...) and prompt a fuller scrutiny of Moore’s proposed relationship between alethic modality and indeterminacy. Such a scrutiny offers valuable lessons concerning the justification for claims of indeterminate identity, appeals to identity principles in contexts involving both alethic modality and indeterminacy, and how to identify the form of Gareth Evans’s argument against vague objects in other arguments. (shrink)
It is often claimed that a clinical investigator may ethically participate (e.g., enroll patients) in a trial only if she is in equipoise (if she has no way to ground a preference for one arm of the study). But this is a serious problem, for as data accumulate, it can be expected that there will be a discernible trend favoring one of the treatments prior to the point where we achieve the trial's objective. In this paper, I critically evaluate Benjamin (...) Freedman's 'clinical equipoise' solution to this dilemma. I argue that Freedman actually puts forth at least two distinct contrasts - one in terms of community vs. individual equipoise, and another concerning clinical vs. theoretical equipoise - and that neither of them resolves the dilemma. I then make a proposal for a more adequate account of how to think about the circumstances under which entering subjects in trials would be justified - a 'sliding-scale equipoise' that arises out of a discussion of patients' values. (shrink)
In this work, Wiseman sets out to examine the role of the novus homo in the Roman Senate. Rather than attempt to deal with the earlier period of the Republic, an era for which we have little evidence of most senatorial Romans--let alone new men. Wiseman takes as his starting point the passage of the lex Gabinia in 139 BC. 1 This law imposed a secret ballot, meaning magisterial candidates were no longer bound so tightly to the patronage of the (...) nobilitas , and easing the way for those ambitious and talented enough to forge their own way into the senate. (shrink)
Sober argues that the units of selection problem in evolutionary biology is to be understood and solved by applying the general analysis of what it means for C to cause E in a population. The account he utilizes is the unanimity account, according to which C causes E in a population when C raises the probability of E in each causal context. I argue that he does not succeed here, both because the unanimity account is not well grounded in the (...) general case, and because there are important differences between cases of population causation which do involve selection and those which do not. (shrink)
The paper provides close commentary on an important but generally neglected passage in _Prior Analytics B.21 where, in the course of solving a logical puzzle concerning our knowledge of universal statements, Aristotle offers his only explicit treatment of the Platonic doctrine of 'recollection'. I show how Aristotle defends his solution to the "Paradox of Knowing Universals", as we might call it, and why he introduces recollection into his discussion of the puzzle. The reading I develop undermines the traditional view of (...) the passage and lends fresh insight into Aristotle's conception of Plato's particular version of innatism. (edited). (shrink)
Some philosophers argue that we are justified in rejecting skepticism because it is explanatorily inferior to more commonsense hypotheses about the world. Focusing on the work of Jonathan Vogel, I show that this “abductivist” or “inference to the best explanation” response rests on an impoverished explanatory framework which ignores the explanatory gap between an object's having certain properties and its appearing to have those properties. Once this gap is appreciated, I argue, the abductivist strategy is defeated.
: As clinicians, researchers, bioethicists, and members of society, we face a number of moral dilemmas concerning randomized clinical trials. How we manage the starting and stopping of such trials—how we conceptualize what evidence is sufficient for these decisions—has implications for both our obligations to trial participants and for the nature and security of the resultant medical knowledge. One view of how this is to be done, "clinical equipoise," recently has been given an extended defense by Paul Miller and Charles (...) Weijer in their article "Rehabilitating Equipoise." The present paper critiques this position and Miller and Weijer's defense of it. I argue that their attempted rehabilitation fails. Their analysis suffers from a number of confusions, as well as a failure to make crucial distinctions, adequately to clarify key concepts, or to think through exactly what needs to be established to justify their claim. We are left with little reason to uphold the clinical equipoise criterion. (shrink)
In this article, I review and expand upon arguments showing that Freedman's so-called "clinical equipoise" criterion cannot serve as an appropriate guide and justification for the moral legitimacy of carrying out randomized clinical trials. At the same time, I try to explain why this approach has been given so much credence despite compelling arguments against it, including the fact that Freedman's original discussion framed the issues in a misleading way, making certain things invisible: Clinical equipoise is conflated with community equipoise, (...) and several versions of each are also conflated. But a misleading impression is given that, rather than distinct criteria being arbitrarily conflated, a puzzle is solved and a number of features unified. Various issues are pushed under the rug, hiding flaws of the "clinical equipoise" approach and thus deceiving us into thinking that we have a solution when we do not. Particularly significant is the ignoring of the crucial distinction between the individual patient decision and the policy decision. (shrink)
The paper provides close commentary on an important but generally neglected passage in "Prior Analytics" B.21 where, in the course of solving a logical puzzle concerning our knowledge of universal statements, Aristotle offers his only explicit treatment of the Platonic doctrine of Recollection. I show how Aristotle defends his solution to the "Paradox of Knowing Universals", as we might call it, and why he introduces Recollection into his discussion of the puzzle. The reading I develop undermines the traditional view of (...) the passage and lends fresh insight into Aristotle's conception of Plato's particular version of innatism; more specifically, when understood as I recommend, the passage strongly suggests that, on Aristotle's view, Plato's theory of Recollection is specifically designed to explain our apprehension of universal truths. The reading I propose also enables us to see how the allegedly non-standard use of the technical term ἐπαγω³ή in B.21 can be understood in a perfectly straightforward fashion to refer to an inductive inference from singular statements to the universal truth they exemplify. Owing to this last point in particular, the paper carries serious consequences for our understanding of the purported doublet in the problematic opening chapter to the "Posterior Analytics" where Aristotle offers his only explicit attempt to solve Meno's Paradox. (shrink)
The central dilemma concerning randomized clinical trials (RCTs) arises out of some simple facts about causal methodology (RCTs are the best way to generate the reliable causal knowledge necessary for optimally-informed action) and a prima facie plausible principle concerning how physicians should treat their patients (always do what it is most reasonable to believe will be best for the patient). A number of arguments related to this in the literature are considered. Attempts to avoid the dilemma fail. Appeals to informed (...) consent and mechanisms for minimizing the resulting harm are important for policy, but informed consent is problematic and mechanisms for minimization of harm do not address the dilemma. Appeals to some sort of contract model of justification are promising and illuminating. Keywords: randomized clinical trials, ethics CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
An MBA course has recently been introduced in the Department of Business Studies at the University of Zimbabwe. Applications for the course are numerous, so selection can be very rigorous. Thus the students admitted to the course comprise many of the country's most promising junior managers. As an assignment for a course on business ethics, the students were asked to discuss an ethical problem they had met in the course of business. An analysis of the problems discussed is quite revealing. (...) Besides several miscellaneous issues, the problems discussed focussed on sexual harrassment, nepotism, political pressure and particularly public corruption. The emphasis on public corruption is probably explicable in terms of the particular individuals admitted to the MBA course; it should not be explained by claiming that Zimbabwe is just one more corrupt third world country. Most surprising is the total absence of any problems relating to issues of race or to trading with South Africa, which might have been considered the major ethical issues in Zimbabwe business life. The lack of problems relating to these two issues is more difficult to explain. (shrink)
Delivered only months before his death, the Gifford Lectures allowed Donald MacKay to clarify and to emphasize his views on many important issues. MacKay stressed the primacy of personal experience and the differences between persons, brains, and machines. These positions are reviewed here, as are some of the reasons why MacKay may remain relatively unknown among American psychologists, philosophers, and neuroscientists.
Donald MacKay's description of the embodiment of an efficacious conscious mind is reviewed as a version of non-reductive physicalism. Particular focus is given to MacKay's analysis of the emergence of consciousness in the capacity for self-evaluation which results from informational feedback regarding the results of action. Unique to MacKay's posthumously published Gifford Lectures is his analysis of agents in dialog as a particular form of an environmental feedback loop. His analysis of dialog is reviewed and expanded to encompass (...) concepts of a First and Second Order Theory of Mind. Finally, MacKay's view of the status of the soul is considered, and the particular role of dialogue as critical to the instantiation of soul is suggested. (shrink)
Stanley Hauerwas's Gifford Lectures are, at least in part, an interpretation of the Giffords that came before him. As a contribution to intellectual and theological history, however, I wish Hauerwas had given witness to Santayana's Hermes the hermeneut, along with the considerable, indeed considerate, witness he does give to his own Christian faith. Hauerwas seems to dislike Reinhold Niebuhr and, by my account, misreads William James. Thus I have to conclude that "With the Grain of the Universe" does not (...) measure up to his own more capacious and incisive works. (shrink)
After completing his monumental work, The Principles of Psychology, William James turned his attention to serious consideration of such important religious and philosophical questions as the nature and existence of God, immortality of the soul, and free will and determinism. His interest in these questions found expression in various works, including The Varieties of Religious Experience, his classic study of spirituality. Based on the prestigious Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion he gave at the University of Edinburgh in 1901 and (...) 1902, the book--studded with richly concrete examples--documents and discusses various religious states of consciousness and covers such topics as the meaning of the term "divine," the reality of the unseen, the religion of healthy-mindedness, the sick soul, the divided self and the process of its unification, conversion, saintliness, and mysticism. One of the author's most popular works, The Varieties of Religious Experience remains one of the great books on the subject, especially noteworthy for the evidence it gives for religious experience as a unique phenomenon. This Dover edition will be the least expensive one in print. Unabridged republication of the second edition of The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, originally published by Longmans, Green and Co., New York, 1902. Index. (shrink)
Recently, Fred Gifford attempted to explicate the meaning of the term genetic as applied to phenotypic traits. He takes as his primary goal the explication of how the term is used and tries to avoid conclusions about how it should be used. He proposes two independent criteria (DF and PI) which together capture much of what biologists mean when they describe traits as genetic. Although Gifford's approach is extremely insightful in many ways, I argue that his analysis is (...) not sufficiently critical concerning the adequacy of common usage.In particular, while DF is a perfectly legitimate and useful measure of heritability in populations, it is not necessarily a genetic one and should not be labeled as such. PI on the other hand, although very intuitive, depends on an extremely problematic distinction between causes and mere conditions (e.g., genes and epigenetic factors). Both criteria will be highly relative and both, via what I term the new problem of genetics, will inspire contradictory analyses based on the same data. (shrink)
: The authors respond to objections Fred Gifford has raised against their paper "Rehabilitating Equipoise." They situate this exchange in the wider context of recent debate over equipoise, highlighting substantial points of agreement between themselves and Gifford. The authors offer a brief restatement of "Rehabilitating Equipoise" in which they amplify some of its core arguments. They then assess Gifford's objections. Finding each to be unfounded, they argue that there is no justification for "pulling the plug" on clinical (...) equipoise. (shrink)
Infinite in All Directions is a popularized science at its best. In Dyson's view, science and religion are two windows through which we can look out at the world around us. The book is a revised version of a series of the Gifford Lectures under the title "In Praise of Diversity" given at Aberdeen, Scotland. They allowed Dyson the license to express everything in the universe, which he divided into two parts in polished prose: focusing on the diversity of (...) the natural world as the first, and the diversity of human reactions as the second half. Chapter 1 is a brief explanation of Dyson's attitudes toward religion and science. Chapter 2 is a one-hour tour of the universe that emphasizes the diversity of viewpoints from which the universe can be encountered as well as the diversity of objects which it contains. Chapter 3 is concerned with the history of science and describes two contrasting styles in science: one welcoming diversity and the other deploring it. He uses the cities of Manchester and Athens as symbols of these two ways of approaching science. Chapter 4, concerned with the origin of life, describes the ideas of six illustrious scientists who have struggled to understand the nature of life from various points of view. Chapter 5 continues the discussion of the nature and evolution of life. The question of why life characteristically tends toward extremes of diversity remains central in all attempts to understand life's place in the universe. Chapter 6 is an exercise in eschatology, trying to define possible futures for life and for the universe, from here to infinity. In this chapter, Dyson crosses the border between science and science fiction and he frames his speculations in a slightly theological context. (shrink)
At the end of the 19th century, Josiah Royce participated in what has come to be called the great debate (Royce, 1897; Armour, 2005).1 The great debate concerned issues in metaphysical theology, and, since metaphysics was primarily idealistic, it dealt considerably with the relations between the divine Self and lesser selves. After the great debate, Royce developed his idealism in his Gifford Lectures (1898-1900). These were published as The World and the Individual. At the end of the first volume, (...) Royce added a Supplementary Essay. The Essay, continuing themes from the great debate, developed an intriguing mathematical model of the relations between the divine Self and lesser selves. The second volume went on to .. (shrink)
Wentzel van Huyssteen's Gifford Lectures, published as Alone in the World? Human Uniqueness in Science and Theology, accomplish critical and constructive thinking about interdisciplinary reflection on science and religion and about the meaning of human uniqueness. One approach to discussion of van Huyssteen's text entails consideration of three issues: the contextual character of research on humans and animals, the difficult problem of defining uniqueness, and the important consequences of exploring human uniqueness. Evolutionary biology and primatology contribute specific scientific insights.
The vast amount of suffering in the world is often held as a particularly powerful reason to deny that God exists. Now, one of the world's most distinguished philosophers of religion presents his own position on the problem of evil. Highly accessible and sensitively argued, Peter van Inwagen's book argues that such reasoning does not hold: his conclusion is not that God exists, but that suffering cannot be shown to prove that He does not.
In this book, Michael Arbib, a researcher in artificial intelligence and brain theory, joins forces with Mary Hesse, a philosopher of science, to present an integrated account of how humans "construct" reality through interaction with the social and physical world around them. The book is a major expansion of the Gifford Lectures delivered by the authors at the University of Edinburgh in the autumn of 1983. The authors reconcile a theory of the individual's construction of reality as a network (...) of schemas "in the head" with an account of the social construction of language, science, ideology, and religion to provide an integrated schema-theoretic view of human knowledge. The authors still find scope for lively debate, particularly in their discussion of free will and of the reality of God. The book integrates an accessible exposition of background information with a cumulative marshalling of evidence to address fundamental questions concerning human action in the world and the nature of ultimate reality. (shrink)
During the last few years two major volumes have been published, both greatly revised versions of earlier Gifford Lectures: Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age ( 2007 ) and Raimon Panikkar’s The Rhythm of Being ( 2010 ). The two volumes are similar in some respects and very dissimilar in others. Both thinkers complain about the glaring blemishes of the modern, especially the contemporary age; both deplore above all a certain deficit of religiosity. The two authors differ, however, both in (...) the details of their diagnosis and in their proposed remedies. Taylor views the modern age—styled as “secular age”—as marked by a slide into secular agnosticism, into “exclusive humanism”, and above all into an “immanent frame” excluding theistic “transcendence”. Although sharing the concern about “loss of meaning”, Panikkar does not find its source in the abandonment of (mono)theistic transcendence; on the contrary, both radical transcendence and agnostic immanence are responsible for the deficit of genuine faith. For him, recovery of faith requires an acknowledgment of our being in the world, as part of the “rhythm of being” happening in a holistic or “cosmotheandric” mode. In classical Indian terminology, while Taylor’s emphasis on the transcendence-immanence tension reflects ultimately a dualistic perspective (dvaita), Panikkar’s holistic notion of the rhythm of being captures the core of Advaita Vendanta. (shrink)
In the early 1950s Grant McConnell, Jr., called for a political adjudication of our environmental and political visions. He pointed out the arbitrary nature of Gifford Pinchot's noble-sounding formula (“The greatest good for the greatest number over the longest time”), noting that such a determination depended on whom you asked. No technocrat can determine the greatest good on the basis of some secret expertise or privileged knowledge. We need to resolve our disparate visions of the uses of nature and (...) human beings politically, without recourse to privileged knowledge.But does such a political adjudication imply the unimpeded domination of the will of the majority? Not necessarily, because there is no overall majority for a total “bundle” of policies and programs — these must be horse-traded and haggled over on the basis of shifting coalitions. Yet, can it not be argued that even so, some very deeply held values of minorities will be trounced and trampled? It would be dishonest not to admit to such a danger. What we must do is try to define and develop a workable conception of baseline human rights that will be inviolable by the will of temporary majorities, and this itself is a tenuous political process which we have only just embarked on in recent times.The danger of Valentin Rasputins, Vernadskii cultists, and Deep Ecologists everywhere is that they are arguing from privileged knowledge. “We know what is really best for you, what will cure you,” they assert. They alone know the distinction between natural harmony and disorder, social health and corruption, pollution and purity, alienation and unity. They do not recognize the social construction of their ethical beliefs and political visions; they absolutize their individual truths. They may be right, but what if they are not...?It is therefore all the more important for those of us who wish to preserve a maximum of biotic and human diversity for our-selves and for future humans (and nonhumans) to be explicit about the moral and political agendas we embrace. The soundest way for us to prevail is to persuade our neighbors on this planet that our visions have something of value for them, too. We must keep in mind the fact that in a world where there exists more than one fanaticism, peaceful coexistence is in principle impossible.And if fanaticisms, including ecological ones, are the products of the fear or the fact of material, cultural, or spiritual dispossession, then we must work harder to make a world in which each of us and our interests are treated with equal respect. We cannot get there through the tainted means of absolutizing individual truths.Aldo Leopold, in his testament Sand County Almanac, as much as called for a new myth, for us to “think like a mountain.”57 He called for a new myth because he believed that humans were dangerous (to ourselves, first of all, and to the planet), and that inculcating a myth was the only way to effect a deep behavioral change on a massive enough scale to save the situation.58 It is my belief that myths are often more dangerous than the situations they seek to remedy. We need to cultivate a taste of de-mythologizing, of making our lives more self-aware. We need to become aware of our needs and our value preferences and to take responsibility for them as individual preferences. Then we will be in a good position indeed to respect and compromise with the preferences of our neighbors all around this planet, just as we would have them respect and compromise with ours. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402064 00005 *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402064 00006 *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402064 00007. (shrink)
Throughout his career, William James defended personal consciousness. In his Principles of Psychology (1890), he declared that psychology is the scientific study of states of consciousness as such and that he intended to presume from the outset that the thinker was the thought. But while writing it, he had been investigating a dynamic psychology of the subconscious, which found a major place in his Gifford Lectures, published as The Varieties of Religious Experience in 1902. This was the clearest statement (...) James was able to make before he died with regard to his developing tripartite metaphysics of pragmatism, pluralism and radical empiricism, which essentially asked ‘Is a science of consciousness actually possible?’ James’s lineage in this regard, was inherited from an intuitive psychology of character formation that had been cast within a context of spiritual self-realization by the Swedenborgians and Transcendentalists of New England. Chief among these was his father, Henry James, Sr, and his godfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, James was forced to square these ideas with the more rigorous scientific dictates of his day, which have endured to the present. As such, his ideas remain alive and vibrant, particularly among those arguing for the fusion of phenomenology, embodiment and cognitive neuroscience in the renewed search for a science of consciousness. (shrink)
Hauerwas's refusal to translate the argument displayed in "With the Grain of the Universe" (his recent Gifford Lectures) into language that "anyone" can understand is itself part of the argument. Consequently, readers will not understand what Hauerwas is up to until they have attained fluency in the peculiar language that has epitomized three decades of Hauerwas's scholarship. Such fluency is not easily gained. Nevertheless, in this review essay, I situate Hauerwas's baffling language against the backdrop of his corpus to (...) show at least this much: "With the Grain of the Universe" transforms natural theology into "witness." In the end, my essay may demonstrate what many have feared, that Hauerwas is, in fact, a Christian apologist-though of a very ancient sort. (shrink)