One new tradition that has emerged from early research on autonomous robots is embodied cognitive science. This paper describes the relationship between embodied cognitive science and a related tradition, synthetic psychology. It is argued that while both are synthetic, embodied cognitive science is antirepresentational while synthetic psychology still appeals to representations. It is further argued that modern connectionism offers a medium for conducting synthetic psychology, provided that researchers analyze the internal representations that their networks develop. The paper then provides a (...) detailed example of the synthetic approach by showing how the construction (and subsequent analysis) of a connectionist network can be used to contribute to a theory of how humans solve Piaget's classic balance scale task. (shrink)
In three experiments we tested hypotheses derived from the goal specificity literature using a real-world physics task. In the balance-scale paradigm participants predict the state of the apparatus based on a configuration of weights at various distances from the fulcrum. Non-specific goals (NSG) have been shown to encourage hypothesis testing, which facilitates rule discovery, whereas specific goals (SG) do not. We showed that this goal specificity effect depends on task difficulty. The NSG strategy led to rule induction among some participants. (...) Among non-discoverers, SG participants were faster and more accurate on difficult problems than NSG participants. The use of misleading exemplars (scale configurations that obscured the rule governing outcomes) led to fixation on inappropriate hypotheses for NSG but not SG participants. When more diagnostic learning exemplars were used, NSG non-discoverers still performed worse than SG participants on difficult problems. SG participants also outperformed NSG participants on a post-test of difficult problems. These findings qualify the generality of goal specificity effects. (shrink)
How do we know right from wrong? Do we even have moral knowledge? Moral epistemology studies these and related questions about our understanding of virtue and vice. It is one of philosophy’s perennial problems, reaching back to Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Hume and Kant, and has recently been the subject of intense debate as a result of findings in developmental and social psychology. Throughout the book Zimmerman argues that our belief in moral knowledge can survive sceptical challenges. He also (...) draws on a rich range of examples from Plato’s Meno and Dickens’ David Copperfield to Bernard Madoff and Saddam Hussein. (shrink)
I attempt to rebut Dean Zimmerman's novel argument (2010), which he presents in support of substance dualism, for the conclusion that, in spite of its popularity, the combination of property dualism with substance materialism represents a precarious position in the philosophy of mind. I take issue with Zimmerman's contention that the vagueness of 'garden variety' material objects such as brains or bodies makes them unsuitable candidates for the possession of phenomenal properties. I also argue that the 'speculative materialism' (...) that is available to a substance materialist property dualist who abandons the identification of persons with such garden variety objects is significantly more attractive than Zimmerman allows. Although I do not attempt to refute its substance dualist rival, I conclude that the combination of property dualism with substance materialism can withstand Zimmerman's objections. (shrink)
This extensively revised and expanded edition of van Inwagen and Zimmerman’s popular collection of readings in metaphysics now features twenty-two additional selections, new sections on existence and reality, and an updated editorial commentary. Collects classic and contemporary readings in metaphysics Answers some of the most puzzling questions about our world and our place in it Covers an unparalleled range of topics Now includes a new section on existence and reality, expanded discussions on many classic issues, and an updated editorial (...) commentary. (shrink)
Every choice we make is set against a background of massive ignorance about our past, our future, our circumstances, and ourselves. Philosophers are divided on the moral significance of such ignorance. Some say that it has a direct impact on how we ought to behave - the question of what our moral obligations are; others deny this, claiming that it only affects how we ought to be judged in light of the behaviour in which we choose to engage - the (...) question of what responsibility we bear for our choices. Michael Zimmerman claims that our ignorance has an important bearing on both questions, and offers an account of moral obligation and moral responsibility that is sharply at odds with the prevailing wisdom. His book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
Property dualism is enjoying a slight resurgence in popularity, these days; substance dualism, not so much. But it is not as easy as one might think to be a property dualist and a substance materialist. The reasons for being a property dualist support the idea that some phenomenal properties (or qualia) are as fundamental as the most basic physical properties; but what material objects could be the bearers of the qualia? If even some qualia require an adverbial construal (if they (...) are modifications of the thing that is conscious because of them, not properties of something else to which the subject of consciousness is related), then the property dualist can be driven to speculative forms of materialism none of which, at this point, looks more likely to be true than the more modest versions of emergent dualism defended by contemporary substance dualists. (shrink)
Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the Old gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, we argue that (...) Johnston’s attack on traditional forms of monotheism has less force than his criticism of the “undergraduate atheists” (e.g., Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins); and that his candidate for Highest One is not the greatest possible being, and could not play the role Johnston casts for it. -/- . (shrink)
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name “taking tense seriously”; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A-theories (or what are sometimes called “tensed theories of time”). Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A-theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: (...) growing-block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A-theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an “eternalist” version of the A-theory collapses into merely “taking tense seriously” — a thesis that does not imply the A-theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A-theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
The ‘friends of temporal parts’ and their opponents disagree about how things persist through time. The former, who hold what is sometimes called a ‘4D’ theory of persistence, typically claim that all objects that last for any period of time are spread out through time in the same way that spatially extended objects are spread out through space — a different part for each region that the object fills. David Lewis calls this manner of persisting ‘perdurance’. The opposing, ‘3D’ theory (...) has it that at least some objects do not persist in this manner; they ‘endure’ through time by ‘being wholly present at more than one time’.1 A related dispute pits ‘presentists’ against ‘non-presentists’. Presentists hold that the only things that really exist are those that exist now, at the present moment; and nonpresentists believe in something like a ‘block-universe’ in which non-simultaneous objects and events nevertheless co-exist (in a tenseless or non-temporal sense). Of late, the relations between these four positions have come under considerable scrutiny.2 As Ned Markosian has pointed out, it would be surprising if commitment to a perdurance or endurance theory of persistence automatically foreclosed one’s options in the presentism—non-presentism debate. But, says Markosian, that is just what the standard formulations of the perdurance and endurance theories imply.3 David Lewis has set the terms of the debate; in his usage, someone who thinks that all persisting objects endure would be said to hold the following. (shrink)
In defending his interest-relative account of knowledge in Knowledge and Practical Interests (2005), Jason Stanley relies heavily on intuitions about several bank cases. We experimentally test the empirical claims that Stanley seems to make concerning our common-sense intuitions about these bank cases. Additionally, we test the empirical claims that Jonathan Schaffer seems to make in his critique of Stanley. We argue that our data impugn what both Stanley and Schaffer claim our intuitions about such cases are. To account for these (...) results, one must develop a better conception of the connection between a subject's interests and her body of knowledge than those offered by Stanley and Schaffer. (shrink)
McTaggart gave the name “A-series” to “that series of positions which runs from the far past through the near past to the present, and then from the present through the near future to the far future, or conversely”; and the name “B-series” to “[t]he series of positions which runs from earlier to later, or conversely”.1 McTaggart’s rather bland labels have stuck, and been put to further use. The “determinations” (his word), or properties, being past, being present, and being future are (...) generally called the “A-properties”. The relations of being earlier than, being later than, and being simultaneous with, are the “B-relations”. These days, philosophers are said to hold an “A-theory of time” or a “B-theory of time”, depending upon their attitudes to these properties and relations. Some philosophers suppose that there are objective distinctions between what is present and what is past and what is future. In order to tell the full truth about time, they think, one must advert to the A-properties. Naturally enough, such philosophers are called “A-theorists”. Although A-theorists disagree about many details, they agree that the present is distinguished from past and future in a deep and important way. Exactly how to describe this difference is a vexed question, and some philosophers have argued that would-be A-theorists inevitably fail to stake out a coherent position.2 I shall not attempt a full-scale defense of the coherence of the A-. (shrink)
My comments have two parts. I begin by laying out the argument that seems to me to be at the core of Olson’s thinking about human persons; and I suggest a problem with his reasons for accepting one of its premises. The premise is warranted by its platitudinous or commonsensical status; but Olson’s arguments lead him to conclusions that undermine the family of platitudes to which it belongs. Then I’ll raise a question about how Olson should construe the vagueness that (...) would seem to infect the boundaries of human animals. (shrink)
Many theists reject the notion that God’s eternity consists in his timelessness — i.e., in his lacking temporal extension and failing to possess properties at any times. Some of these “divine temporalists” hold that, for philosophical reasons, it is impossible to accept both the timelessness of God and the view that God knows what happens at different times and brings about events in time. 1 Many reject divine timelessness as a dubious import from Platonism with no biblical or theological warrant.2 (...) And some question the very intelligibility of the doctrine. (shrink)
Recent philosophical discussions of self-knowledge have focused on basic cases: our knowledge of our own thoughts, beliefs, sensations, experiences, preferences, and intentions. Empiricists argue that we acquire this sort of self-knowledge through inner perception; rationalists assign basic self-knowledge an even more secure source in reason and conceptual understanding. I try to split the difference. Although our knowledge of our own beliefs and thoughts is conceptually insured, our knowledge of our experiences is relevantly like our perceptual knowledge of the external world.
Neo-Cartesian approaches to belief place greater evidential weight on a subject's introspective judgments than do neo-behaviorist accounts. As a result, the two views differ on whether our absent-minded and weak-willed actions are guided by belief. I argue that simulationist accounts of the concept of belief are committed to neo-Cartesianism, and, though the conceptual and empirical issues that arise are inextricably intertwined, I discuss experimental results that should point theory-theorists in that direction as well. Belief is even less closely connected to (...) behaviour than most contemporary functionalists allow. (shrink)
Recent years have brought relativistic accounts of knowledge, first-person belief, and future contingents to prominence. I discuss these views, distinguish non-trivial from trivial forms of relativism, and then argue against relativism in all of its substantive varieties.
Many philosophers hold that whether an act is overall morally obligatory is an ‘objective’ matter, many that it is a ‘subjective’ matter, and some that it is both. The idea that it is or can be both may seem to promise a helpful answer to the question ‘What ought I to do when I do not know what I ought to do?’ In this article, three broad views are distinguished regarding what it is that obligation essentially concerns: the maximization of (...) actual value, the maximization of expected value, and the perceived maximization of actual value. The first and third views are rejected; the second view is then refined and defended. The unfortunate upshot is that there may be no very helpful answer to the question just mentioned. As to the question posed in the title of the article, the answer unsurprisingly depends on what ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ are taken to mean. (Published Online November 24 2006). (shrink)
The principal aim of this book is to develop and defend an analysis of the concept of moral obligation. The analysis is neutral regarding competing substantive theories of obligation, whether consequentialist or deontological in character. What it seeks to do is generate new solutions to a range of philosophical problems concerning obligation and its application. Amongst these problems are deontic paradoxes, the supersession of obligation, conditional obligation, prima facie obligation, actualism and possibilism, dilemmas, supererogation, and cooperation. By virtue of its (...) normative neutrality, the analysis provides a theoretical framework within which competing theories of obligation can be developed and assessed. This study is a major contribution to metaethics that will be of particular interest to all philosophers concerned with normative ethical theory. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics offers the most authoritative and compelling guide to this diverse and fertile field of philosophy. Twenty-four of the world's most distinguished specialists provide brand-new essays about 'what there is': what kinds of things there are, and what relations hold among entities falling under various categories. They give the latest word on such topics as identity, modality, time, causation, persons and minds, freedom, and vagueness. The Handbook's unrivaled breadth and depth make it the definitive reference work (...) for students and academics across the philosophical spectrum. (shrink)
Hume's claim that reason is a slave to the passions involves both a causal thesis: reason cannot cause action without the aid of the passions, and an evaluative thesis: it is improper to evaluate our actions in terms of their reasonableness. On my reading, Hume motivates his causal thesis by arguing that accurate representation is the function of reason, where a faculty of this kind cannot produce action on its own. (The interpretation helps vindicate Hume of the common charge that (...) he "begs the question" against his opponents.) But Hume's causal thesis does not entail his evaluative thesis, and his commitment to the latter is incredibly thin. According to Hume's positive theory, our evaluative judgments originate in reason integrated with sympathy or humanity. And, I argue, the resulting view depicts us as having substantive, non-instrumental reasons to fulfill our obligations to both prudence and morality. (shrink)
The nature of persons is a perennial topic of debate in philosophy, currently enjoying something of a revival. In this volume for the first time metaphysical debates about the nature of human persons are brought together with related debates in philosophy of religion and theology. Fifteen specially written essays explore idealist, dualist, and materialist views of persons, discuss specifically Christian conceptions of the value of embodiment, and address four central topics in philosophical theology: incarnation, resurrection, original sin, and the trinity.
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Many writers accept the following thesis about responsibility: (R) For one to be responsible for something is for one to be such that it is fitting that one be the object of some reactive attitude with respect to that thing. This thesis bears a striking resemblance to a thesis about value that is also accepted by many writers: (V) For something to be good (or neutral, or bad) is for it to be such that it is fitting that it be (...) the object of some pro-attitude (or indifference, or some contra-attitude). V has been the subject of intense debate in recent years, in part because of its incorporation into what has come to be called the “buck-passing” account of value. In particular, V is open to three challenges: that it is not necessarily the case that whatever is good is the fitting object of a pro-attitude; that it is not necessarily the case that whatever is the fitting object of a pro-attitude is good; and that, even if there is a strict equivalence between what is good and what is the fitting object of a pro-attitude, still the former is not to be analyzed in terms of the latter. The resemblance between V and R has not been previously commented on, but, once it is recognized, it is clear that R is open to challenges that resemble those to which V is vulnerable. This paper explores both the challenges to V and the parallel challenges to R and discusses responses that may be given to these challenges. The interrelation between V and R is then examined, and a general lesson is drawn concerning how to adjudicate disputes about the nature of moral responsibility. (shrink)
The ancient question of what a good life consists in is currently the focus of intense debate. There are two aspects to this debate: the first concerns how the concept of a good life is to be understood; the second concerns what kinds of life fall within the extension of this concept. In this paper, I will attend only to the first, conceptual aspect and not to the second, substantive aspect. More precisely, I will address the preliminary, underlying question of (...) how to understand what it is in general for something to be good for someone, from which an understanding of the more particular concept of a good life may be derived. (shrink)
Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value. The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.” Extrinsic value is value that is not intrinsic.
T. M. Scanlon has revived a venerable tradition according to which something's being good consists in its being such that there is a reason to respond positively towards it. He has presented novel arguments for this thesis. In this article, I first develop some refinements of the thesis with a view to focusing on intrinsic value in particular, then discuss the relation between the thesis and consequentialism, then critically examine Scanlon's arguments for the thesis, and finally turn to the question (...) whether we should reject the thesis on the grounds that, when there is a reason to respond positively towards something, this is so because the thing in question is good. Two appendices follow. In the first, I discuss whether it is good to do right. In the second, I discuss whether an act's being wrong provides a reason not to do it. (shrink)
This paper considers three general views about the nature of moral obligation and three particular answers (with which these views are typically associated) concerning the following question: if on Monday you lend me a book that I promise to return to you by Friday, what precisely is my obligation to you and what constitutes its fulfillment? The example is borrowed from W.D. Ross, who in The Right and the Good proposed what he called the Objective View of obligation, from (...) which he inferred what is here called the First Answer to the question. In Foundations of Ethics Ross repudiated the Objective View in favor of the Subjective View, from which he inferred a Second Answer. In this paper each of the Objective and Subjective Views and the First and Second Answers are rejected in favor of the Prospective View and a Third Answer. The implications of the Prospective View for another question closely related to the original question are then investigated: what precisely is your right regarding my returning the book and what constitutes its satisfaction? (shrink)
Ordinary moral thinking about morality and rationality is inconsistent. To arrive at a view of morality that is as faithful to common thought as consistency will allow we must admit that it is not always irrational to knowingly act against the weight of reasons.
The following argument is addressed: (1) a person is morally responsible for an event's occurring only if that event's occurring was not a matter of luck; (2) no event is such that its occurring is not a matter of luck; therefore, (3) no event is such that someone is morally responsible for its occurring. Two notions of control are distinguished: restricted and complete. (2) is shown false on the first interpretation, (1) on the second. The discussion involves a distinction between (...) resultant and situational luck, And it is argued that, Even when luck's role in life, And the unfairness that stems from it, Is acknowledged, Moral responsibility remains possible. (shrink)
‘Molinism’, in contemporary usage, is the name for a theory about the workings of divine providence. Its defenders include some of the most prominent contemporary Protestant and Catholic philosophical theologians.¹ Molinism is often said to be the only way to steer a middle..