It is widely held that there is an important distinction between the notion of consciousness as it is applied to creatures and, on the other hand, the notion of consciousness as it applies to mental states. McBride has recently argued in this journal that whilst there may be a grammatical distinction between state consciousness and creature consciousness, there is no parallel ontological distinction. It is argued here that whilst state consciousness and creature consciousness are indeed related, they are (...) distinct properties. Conscious creatures can have, at one time, both conscious and unconscious mental states. This raises the question of what distinguishes the conscious from unconscious mental states of a subject: a question about what state consciousness consists in. Whilst the state/creature distinction may not be of use in explaining every aspect of a subject's consciousness, it does provide a key part of the explanandum for theories of consciousness and mind. The state/creature consciousness distinction is a real one and should not be dropped from our psychological taxonomy. (shrink)
Apparently, relationships between God (if He exists) and His creatures would be very valuable. Appreciating this value raises the question of whether it can motivate a certain premise in John Schellenberg’s argument from divine hiddenness, a premise which claims, roughly, that if some capable, non-resistant subject fails to believe in God, then God does not exist. In this paper, I argue that the value of divine–creature relationships can justify this premise only if we have reason to believe that the (...) counterfactuals of freedom work out in certain ways. Unfortunately, we can’t acquire such a reason, at least not without relying on other successful arguments (if there are any) for the relevant premise of Schellenberg’s hiddenness argument. (shrink)
Intuitively it has seemed to many that our concepts "conscious state" and "conscious creature" are sharp rather than vague, that they can have no borderline cases. On the other hand, many who take conscious states to be identical to, or realized by, complex physical states are committed to the vagueness of those concepts. In the paper I argue that "conscious state" and "conscious creature" are sharp by presenting four necessary conditions for conceiving borderline cases in general, and showing (...) that some of those conditions cannot be met with "conscious state." I conclude that "conscious state" is sharp, and the conclusion is then extended to "conscious creature." The paper ends with a brief discussion of some implications. (shrink)
Â I appeal to Merkerâ€™s theory to motivate a hypothesis about the ontology of consciousness:Â creature consciousness is (at least partially) constitutive of phenomenal consciousness.Â Rather than elaborating theories of phenomenal consciousness couched solely in terms of state consciousness, as philosophers are fond of doing, a correct approach to phenomenal consciousness should begin with an account of creature consciousness.
The question of what is shared in joint action has been discussed mainly with reference to the notion of collective intentionality. The problem of how to account for intentional states that are shared between two or more jointly engaged creatures is particularly relevant for actions that involve distal intentions. Yet there is another important kind of joint action, which so far has received less interest, at least by philosophers. This kind of action can be described in terms of a shared (...) motor engagement of two or more creatures with their surroundings. In this paper, I address the question of what is shared in such motor engagements. I suggest that joint motor actions come off through sharing particular kinds of feelings. In order to flesh out what it means to share feelings, I introduce the notion of ‘cross-creature embodiment’—the idea that a certain type of embodied mental event is constitutively tied to the body state of another, perceptually present creature in broadly the same way in which it is tied to the experiencing creature’s own. I end by suggesting that this notion makes available a new, albeit tentative, interpretation of recent neuroscientific evidence. (shrink)
This essay examines the grammatical structure underlying the use of the word "conscious". Despite the existence of this grammatical structure, I reject the assumption that actual consciousness has a similar structure. Specifically, I reject the claim that consciousness consists of three subtypes: state consciousness, transitive consciousness, and creature consciousness. I offer an inductive argument and a deductive argument that no such psychological entities exist. The inductive argument: given the lack of evidence or arguments for the entities and given that (...) a tripartite consciousness structure evolved from a tripartite grammatical habit, it would be far too coincidental if the grammatical distinction mirrored a psychological distinction. The deductive argument (a reductio ad absurdum) shows that absurd conclusions follow from assuming the existence of three distinct psychological entities. Furthermore, the verbal habits that motivate the distinction are rendered more intelligible under a "Unitary Thesis", the idea that verbal distinctions involving use of the word "conscious" are unified in their reliance on a single ontological unit, that of conscious experience. (shrink)
Recent work in various branches of philosophy has reinvigorated debate over the psychology behind moral judgment. Using Marc Hauser's categorization of theories as “Kantian,” “Humean,” or “Rawlsian” to frame the discussion, I argue that the existing evidence weighs against the Kantian model and partly in favor of both the Humean and the Rawlsian models. Emotions do play a causal role in the formation of our moral judgments, as the Humean model claims, but there are also unconscious principles shaping our moral (...) judgments, as the Rawlsian model predicts. Thus, Hauser's tripartite division of possible models of moral psychology is inadequate. Drawing on research in cognitive neuroscience, clinical and behavioral psychology, and psychopathology, I sketch a new, developmental sentimentalist model of moral psychology. I call it a “Mencian” model, after the Confucian philosopher Mencius. On this model, moral judgments are caused by emotions, but because of the way emotions are mapped onto particular actions, moral judgments unconsciously reflect certain principled distinctions. (shrink)
boundaries. It is impossible to do good science without having an appreciation for the problems and concepts in the other levels of abstraction (at least in the direction from biology towards physics), but there are whole sets of tools, methods of analysis, theories and explanations within each discipline which do not cross those boundaries.
The conception of subjectivity that dominates the Western philosophical tradition, particularly during the Enlightenment, sets up a simple dichotomy: either the subject is ultimately autonomous or it is merely a causally determined thing. Fichte and Freud challenge this model by formulating theories of subjectivity thattranscend this opposition. Fichte conceives of the subject as based in absolute activity, but that activity is qualified by a check for which it is not ultimately responsible. Freud explains the behavior of the self in terms (...) of biological drives and social pressures, yet both forces are actively interpreted by the subject itself. The tensions that arise from these very different approaches show that both Fichte and Freud are trying to overcome this deeply imbedded dichotomy between freedom and determinism. Although some would respond to these tensions by trying to forge a Hegelian synthesis, such a resolution covers over the paradoxical nature of finite subjectivity. (shrink)
Vauvenargues is one of those authors we think we know without having read. Sidelined among the minor moralists, the texts he published are rarely considered rigorous and powerful. Hence we are endebted to Laurent Bove for having taken this thought seriously, and for having systematically brought into relief its most striking intellectual aspects. Vauvenargues himself asked his readers to “read slowly” (“lire doucement”)—a reading ethic that has finally been followed to the letter. Pascal also sought the right rhythm of reading, (...) but not without a certain anxiety over an exaggerated slowness: “when one reads too fast or too slowly, one understands nothing.” In a brief and dense work, Bjornstad Hall finds a rhythm in .. (shrink)
I propose a conceptual framework for emotions according to which they are best understood as the feedback mechanism a creature possesses in virtue of its function to learn. More specifically, emotions can be neatly modeled as a measure of harmony in a certain kind of constraint satisfaction problem. This measure can be used as error for weight adjustment (learning) in an unsupervised connectionist network.
The view (held, e.g., by Davidson) that the having of beliefs and desires presupposes the having of reflective capacities is sometimes supported by appealing to the idea that the concept of belief is a concept of a mental state which involves a normative aspect: beliefs can be “successful” or “unsuccessful” from the perspective of their possessors, and sometimes discarded in light of their “failure.” This naturally invites the idea that believers must be capable of reflecting on their beliefs. Desires presuppose (...) reflectivity if only in virtue of their essential linkage with beliefs. This paper suggests a sense in which mental states—including those of non-reflective creatures—can have such a normative aspect. On this suggestion, the intelligible relations that obtain between cognitive states and conative states open the door for the possibility of normativity without reflectivity. Due to these relations, a creature's beliefs can be successful or unsuccessful from its own perspective even without its conceiving of them. (shrink)
I propose a conceptual framework for emotions according to which they are best understood as the feedback mechanism a creature possesses in virtue of its function to learn. More speciﬁcally, emotions can be neatly modeled as a measure of harmony in a certain kind of constraint satisfaction problem. This measure can be used as error for weight adjustment (learning) in an unsupervised connectionist network.
In developing theologies and spiritualities of ecology, Christians can learn from the Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock and from process theology. That “feeling for the organism” of which McClintock speaks can be understood within a process context as a distinctive mode of spirituality. The feeling is an intuitive and sympathetic apprehension of another creature in a way which mirrors God’s own way of perceiving. It involves feeling the other creature as a fellow subject with intrinsic value. A subjective capacity (...) of this sort is by no means sufficient for a spirituality of ecology, but by all means necessary. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it would be unprincipled to withhold mental predicates from our behavioural duplicates however unlike us they are "on the inside." My arguments are unusual insofar as they rely neither on an implicit commitment to logical behaviourism in any of its various forms nor to a verificationist theory of meaning. Nor do they depend upon prior metaphysical commitments or to philosophical "intuitions". Rather, in assembling reminders about how the application of our consciousness and propositional attitude (...) concepts are ordinarily defended, I argue on explanatory and moral grounds that they cannot be legitimately withheld from creatures who behave, and who would continue to behave, like us. I urge that we should therefore reject the invitation to revise the application of these concepts in the ways that would be required by recent proposals in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
: The suffering of creatures experienced throughout evolutionary history provides some conceptual difficulties for theists who maintain that God is an all-good loving creator who chose to employ the processes associated with evolution to bring about life on this planet. Some theists vexed by this and other problems posed by the interface between religion and science have turned to process theology which provides a picture of a God who is dependent upon creation and unable to unilaterally intervene in the affairs (...) of the world and avert suffering. In the present paper I seek to critique process theism, focusing on divine action and the aforementioned problem posed by evolutionary suffering. I show that the promise of a more compelling account of a loving God who suffers with creation advanced by the process theist is illusory. Rather, the process God is less dynamic than promised. And on such an account the freedom of both God and the world are significantly more circumscribed than one may find in other forms of theism. (shrink)
William Rowe and others argue that if this is a possible world than which there is a better, it follows that God does not exist. I now reject the key premise of Rowe's argument. I do so first within a Molinist framework. I then show that this framework is dispensable: really all one needs to block the better-world argument is the assumption that creatures have libertarian free will. I also foreclose what might seem a promising way around the ‘moral-luck’ counter (...) I develop, and contend that it is in a way impossible to get around. (shrink)
In their report for the Swiss government onthe notion of the dignity of creatures, PhilippBalzer, Klaus-Peter Rippe, and Peter Schaber analyzethe relationship between human dignity and the dignityof creatures, taking them as two categoricallydifferent concepts. Human dignity is defined as the``moral right not to be humiliated,'' whereas thedignity of creatures is taken to be ``the inherentvalue of nonhuman living beings.'' To my mind there isno need to draw a categorical distinction between thetwo concepts. Both notions could be brought togetherunder an (...) all-encompassing concept of the inherentvalue of living beings, humans and non-humans alike,a concept one could name ``the dignity of livingbeings.'' Indeed, this very notion underlies theposition taken in the report, although this is notmade explicit by the authors themselves.As the aim of the paper is only to clarify theconcepts used, I do not go beyond this ``internal''critique of their position, i.e., I don't assess howthe claims articulated via these concepts – theclaim that humans and/or creatures have an inherentvalue consisting in a supposed intrinsic good – areto be justified, although I myself would be ratherskeptical that this might be successfully done. (shrink)
Creatures of the world Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9539-z Authors Karola Stotz, Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
We present here a digital scenario to simulate the emergence of self-organized symbol-based communication among artificial creatures inhabiting a virtual world of predatory events. In order to design the environment and creatures, we seek theoretical and empirical constraints from C.S.Peirce Semiotics and an ethological case study of communication among animals. Our results show that the creatures, assuming the role of sign users and learners, behave collectively as a complex system, where self-organization of communicative interactions plays a major role in the (...) emergence of symbol-based communication. We also strive for a careful use of the theoretical concepts involved, including the concepts of symbol, communication, and emergence, and we use a multi-level model as a basis for the interpretation of inter-level relationships in the semiotic processes we are studying. (shrink)
What motivates behavior? What are the qualities of experience which make life worth living? Taking a new interdisciplinary approach, Morillo advances the theory that pleasure—interpreted as a distinct, separable, noncognitive quality of experience—is essential for all positive motivation and is the only intrinsic, nonmoral good in the lives of human beings and many other sentient creatures. Morillo supports her arguments with recent neuropsychological evidence concerning the role of reward centers in the brain and philosophical arguments for a naturalistic theory of (...) value and the good life. "Contingent Creatures" will interest philosophers, psychologists, and neurobiologists. (shrink)
This paper explores an internal relation between wrong-doing and the ability to think in moral terms, through Hobbes’ thought. I use his neglected retelling of our ‘original sin’ as a springboard, seeing how we then discover a need to vindicate our own projects in terms shared by others. We become normatively demanding creatures: greedy for normative vindication, eager to judge others amid the difficulties of our world. However there is, of course, no choice for us but to choose our (...) own principles of judgment, or at least some authority to provide these. Unconvinced by Hobbes’ remedies, I conclude with one implication for moral philosophy@ a need to look rather differently at agency and responsibility. (shrink)
Discursive accounts of the body have been prominent recently. While acknowledging the usefulness of these, the author, drawing upon specific philosophers of the body and a wide range of other theorists, focuses attention on the experiencing body which she refers to as 'creatural existence’. Thinking in terms of the creatural, she argues, can better situate human beings in their environment, thus emphasizing a kind of 'ecological notion of subjectivity’, in which place-based existence is understood anew. The educational implications of focusing (...) on what bodies 'do' and not so much in terms of how they are socially inscribed, presents them as practico-sensory totalities which should perhaps be seen as systems rather than an as mere organisms or entities. Such an articulation of creatural existence emphasizes animality, and in so doing reminds us of the centrality of the senses in all knowing and doing, including crucially, in relation to those practices which we have understood as 'work'. Multi-sensorial education is a major sub-theme of the book and the author argues persuasively for this by means of a critical analysis of the ocularcentrism that is characteristic of contemporary culture. (shrink)
The notion of Dignity of Creatures has been voted into the Swiss Federal Constitution by a plebiscite. Philipp Balzer, Klaus-Peter Rippe, and Peter Schaber have given an expert opinion for the Swiss government to clarify the notion of Dignity of Creatures. According to them, by voting this notion into the Swiss constitution, the Swiss have chosen for a limited biocentric approach towards biotechnology. In such an approach genetic engineering of non-human beings is only allowed insofar that their own good is (...) not impaired. It is, however, not clear when the good of a non-human being is impaired. I defend the position that – even if we confine ourselves to animals – their good goes beyond their well being. (shrink)
An award-wining biologist takes us on the dramatic expeditions that unearthed the history of life on our planet. Just 150 years ago,most of our world was an unexplored wilderness.Our sense of how old it was? Vague and vastly off the mark. And our sense of our own species’ history? A set of fantastic myths and fairy tales. Fossils had been known for millennia, but they were seen as the bones of dragons and other imagined creatures. In the tradition of The (...) Microbe Hunters and Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Sean Carroll’s Remarkable Creatures celebrates the pioneers who replaced our fancies with the even more amazing true story of how our world evolved. Carroll recounts the most important discoveries in two centuries of national history — from Darwin’s trip around the world to CharlesWalcott’s discovery of pre-Cambrian life in the Grand Canyon; from Louis and Mary Leakey’s investigation of our deepest past in East Africa to the trailblazers in modern laboratories who have located a time clock in our DNA. Join him in a rousing voyage of discovery, from the epic journeys of pioneering naturalists to the breakthroughs making headlines today. (shrink)
According to Alvin Plantinga and his followers, there is a complete set of truths about what any possible person would freely do in anypossible situation. Richard Gale offers two arguments for saying that this doctrine entails that God exercises “freedom-canceling” control over his creatures. Gale’s first argument claims that Plantinga’s God controls our behavior by determining our psychological makeup. The second claims that God causes (in the “forensic” sense) all of our behavior. The present paper critically examines and rejects both (...) of these arguments. The second of Gale’s arguments blurs the distinction between causal laws and the conditionals of freedom, whereas the first fails to appreciate the force of the libertarian claim that our psychological makeup may “incline” us in a certain direction without determining our behavior. It also fails to acknowledge the way in which a libertarian like Plantinga might think we contribute to shaping our own characters. (shrink)
I insist that I was able to raise my hand, and I acknowledge that a law would have been broken had I done so, but I deny that I am therefore able to break a law. To uphold my instance of soft determinism, I need not claim any incredible powers. To uphold the compatibilism that I actually believe, I need not claim that such powers are even possible. My incompatibilist opponent is a creature of fiction, but he has his (...) prototypes in real life. He is modeled partly after Peter van Inwagen and partly on myself when I first worried about van Inwagen's argument against compatibilism. (shrink)
I argue that a variety of influential accounts of self-knowledge are flawed by the assumption that all immediate, authoritative knowledge of our own present mental states is of one basic kind. I claim, on the contrary, that a satisfactory account of self-knowledge must recognize at least two fundamentally different kinds of self-knowledge: an active kind through which we know our own judgments, and a passive kind through which we know our sensations. I show that the former kind of self-knowledge is (...) in an important sense fundamental, since it is intimately connected with the very capacity for rational reflection, and since it must be present in any creature that understands the first-person pronoun. Moreover, I suggest that these thoughts about self-knowledge have a Kantian provenance. (shrink)
Zombies are bodies without minds: creatures that are physically identical to actual human beings, but which have no conscious experience. Much of the consciousness literature focuses on considering how threatening philosophical reflection on such creatures is to physicalism. There is not much attention given to the converse possibility, the possibility of minds without bodies, that is, creatures who are conscious but whose nature is exhausted by their being conscious. We can call such a ‘purely conscious’ creature a ghost.
Introduction -- Phenomenal consciousness -- Phenomenal consciousness and self-representation -- The connection between phenomenal consciousness and creature consciousness -- Consciousness of things -- Real world puzzle cases -- Why consciousness cannot be physical and why it must be -- What is the thesis of physicalism? -- Why consciousness cannot be physical -- Why consciousness must be physical -- Physicalism and the appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Some terminological points -- Why physicalists appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Various accounts of (...) phenomenal concepts -- My own earlier view on phenomenal concepts -- Are there any phenomenal concepts? -- Phenomenal concepts and burgean intuitions -- Consequences for a priori physicalism -- The admissible contents of visual experience : the existential thesis -- The singular (when filled) thesis -- Kaplanianism -- The multiple contents thesis -- The existential thesis revisited -- Still more on existential contents -- Consciousness, seeing and knowing -- Knowing things and knowing facts -- Nonconceptual content -- Why the phenomenal character of an experience is not one of its nonrepresentational properties -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part I -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part II -- Phenomenal character and our knowledge of it -- Solving the puzzles -- Mary, Mary, how does your knowledge grow? -- The explanatory gap -- The hard problem -- The possibility of zombies -- Change blindness and the refrigerator light illusion -- A closer look at the change blindness hypotheses -- The no-seeum view -- Sperling and the refrigerator light -- Phenomenology and cognitive accessibility -- A further change blindness experiment -- Another brick in the wall -- Privileged access, phenomenal character, and externalism -- The threat to privileged access -- A Burgean thought experiment -- Social externalism for phenomenal character? -- A closer look at privileged access and incorrigibility -- How do I know that I am not a zombie? -- Phenomenal externalism. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that ‘consciousness’ (and its cognates) is multiply ambiguous within the consciousness literature. Some alleged senses of the term are access consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, state consciousness, creature consciousness, introspective consciousness, self consciousness, to name a few. In the paper I argue for two points. First, there are few if any good reasons for thinking that such alleged senses are genuine: ‘consciousness’ is best viewed as univocal within the literature. The second point is that researchers would do (...) best to avoid the semantics of ‘consciousness’, since resorting to “semantic ascent” typically serves no clear purpose in the case of consciousness, and confuses matters more than anything else. (shrink)
I argue that zombies are inconceivable. More precisely, I argue that the conceivability-intuition that is used to demonstrate their possibility has been misconstrued. Thought experiments alleged to feature zombies founder on the fact that, on the one hand, they _must_ involve first-person imagining, and yet, on the other hand, _cannot_. Philosophers who take themselves to have imagined zombies have unwittingly conflated imagining a creature who lacks consciousness with imagining a creature without also imagining the consciousness it may or (...) may not possess. (shrink)
Christine M. Korsgaard is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. She was educated at the University of Illinois and received a Ph.D. from Harvard. She has held positions at Yale, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago, and visiting positions at Berkeley and UCLA. She is a member of the American Philosophical Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has published extensively on Kant, and about moral (...) philosophy and its history, the theory of practical reason, the philosophy of action, and personal identity. Her two published books are The Sources of Normativity (1992) and Creating the King- dom of Ends (1996). (shrink)
The Neo-Moorean Deduction (I have a hand, so I am not a brain-in-a-vat) and the Zebra Deduction (the creature is a zebra, so isn’t a cleverly disguised mule) are notorious. Crispin Wright, Martin Davies, Fred Dretske, and Brian McLaughlin, among others, argue that these deductions are instances of transmission failure. That is, they argue that these deductions cannot transmit justification to their conclusions. I contend, however, that the notoriety of these deductions is undeserved. My strategy is to clarify, attack, (...) defend, and apply. I clarify what transmission and transmission failure really are, thereby exposing two questionable but quotidian assumptions. I attack existing views of transmission failure, especially those of Crispin Wright. I defend a permissive view of transmission failure, one which holds that deductions of a certain kind fail to transmit only because of premise circularity. Finally, I apply this account to the Neo-Moorean and Zebra Deductions and show that, given my permissive view, these deductions transmit in an intuitively acceptable way—at least if either a certain type of circularity is benign or a certain view of perceptual justification is false. (shrink)
A venerable philosophical tradition holds that we rational creatures are distinguished by our capacity for a special sort of mental agency or self-determination: we can “make up” our minds about whether to accept a given proposition. But what sort of activity is this? Many contemporary philosophers accept a Process Theory of this activity, according to which a rational subject exercises her capacity for doxastic self-determination only on certain discrete occasions, when she goes through a process of consciously deliberating about whether (...) P and concludes by “making a judgment”, thereby bringing about a change in what she believes. I argue that this conception of our control over our beliefs implies an unacceptable picture of the agency we exercise in judging, and of the relation of such agency to the condition of belief itself. I suggest that the beliefs of a rational creature are themselves “acts of reason”, which reflect the capacity for doxastic self-determination in their very nature, not merely in certain facts about how they can originate. (shrink)
"According to informational semantics, if it's necessary that a creature can't distinguish Xs from Ys, it follows that the creature can't have a concept that applies to Xs but not Ys." (Jerry Fodor, The Elm and the Expert, p.32).
Bayesian conceptions of evidence have been invoked in recent arguments regarding the existence of God, the hypothesis of multiple physical universes, and the Doomsday Argument. Philosophers writing on these topics often claim that, given a Bayesian account of evidence, our existence or something entailed by our existence (perhaps in conjunction with some background knowledge or assumption) may serve as evidence for each of us. In this paper, I argue that this widespread view is mistaken. The mere fact of one's existence (...) qua conscious creature cannot serve as evidence on the standard Bayesian conception of evidence because knowledge of one's existence is a necessary part of the background knowledge relative to which all epistemic probabilities are defined. It follows that some formulations of the fine-tuning argument (for theism or a multiverse), the argument from consciousness (for theism) and a rejoinder to the Doomsday argument are mistaken. (shrink)
David Robb (2008). Zombies From Below. In Simone Gozzano Francesco Orilia (ed.), Tropes, Universals, and the Philosophy of Mind: Essays at the Boundary of Ontology and Philosophical Psychology. Ontos Verlag.score: 3.0
A zombie is a creature just like a conscious being in certain respects, but wholly lacking in consciousness. In this paper, I look at zombies from the perspective of basic ontology (“from below”), taking as my starting point a trope ontology I have defended elsewhere. The consequences of this ontology for zombies are mixed. Viewed from below, one sort of zombie—the exact dispositional zombie—is impossible. A similar argument can be wielded against another sort—the exact physical zombie—but here supplementary principles (...) are needed to get to the impossibility result. Finally, at least two sorts of zombie—the behavioural and functional zombies—escape these arguments from below. (shrink)
This paper defends “moral individualism” against various arguments that have been intended to show that membership in the human species or participation in our distinctively human form of life is a sufficient basis for a moral status higher than that of any animal. Among the arguments criticized are the “nature-of-the-kind argument,” which claims that it is the nature of all human beings to have certain higher psychological capacities, even if, contingently, some human beings lack them, and various versions of the (...) idea that there is a special form of life that all human beings share but of which no animal can be a full participant. The paper concludes that none of these arguments succeeds in demonstrating that there are moral reasons to permit animals to be treated less well than members of our own species whose psychological capacities and potential are no higher than those of the animals. (shrink)
It may even be held that [the intellect] is the true self of each, inasmuch as it is the dominant and better part; and therefore it would be a strange thing if a man should choose to live not his own life but the life of some other than himself. Moreover . . . that which is best and most pleasant for each creature is that which is proper to the nature of each; accordingly the life of the intellect (...) is the best and the pleasantest life for man, inasmuch as the intellect more than anything else is man. (shrink)
It is becoming increasingly difficult for those who engage in ethical analysis to ignore evolution and neuroscience. The kind of creature that we are and that we have evolved to be matters when determining how we ought to live. There is still a need to aim for a reflective equilibrium that includes reflection over not straightforwardly empirical issues. It would, for example, be inaccurate to say that "good" just means "highly evolved." But it does turn out to be the (...) case that many questions pivotal to ethical theorizing are straightforwardly empirical. And, to a large extent, ethics can be treated as a kind of applied science, one that aims to encourage personal and social flourishing. Of course just what counts as "flourishing" is a matter that will also require a healthy dose of reflective equilibrium. Be that as it may, the best philosophers of the 21st century do what the best philosophers of previous centuries did: they draw upon the resources available to them during the era in which they work. In this era that includes evolutionary biology and neuroscience. (shrink)
A set of eight mini-discourses. 1. The conceivability of the physical world's running in the opposite temporal direction. 2. Augustine's reason for thinking this is not conceivable for the world of the mind. 3. Trying to imagine being a creature that lives atemporally. 4. Memory's need for causal input. 5. Acting in the knowledge that how one acts is strictly determined. 6. The Newcomb problem. 7. The idea that all voluntary action is intended to be remedial. 8. Haunted by (...) the strangeness of the idea of the past qua past. (shrink)
Could there be a cognitive zombie – that is, a creature with the capacity for cognition, but no capacity for consciousness? Searle argues that there cannot be a cognitive zombie because there cannot be an intentional zombie: on this view, there is a connection between consciousness and cognition that is derived from a more fundamental connection between consciousness and intentionality. However, I argue that there are good empirical reasons for rejecting the proposed connection between consciousness and intentionality. Instead, I (...) argue that there is a connection between consciousness and cognition that is derived from a more fundamental connection between consciousness and rationality. On this view, there cannot be a cognitive zombie because there cannot be a rational zombie. (shrink)
Zombies, as conceived by philosophers these days, are supposed to be creatures that are physically indistinguishable from normal people that nevertheless completely lack phenomenal consciousness. The kind of zombie I want to focus on is one that is molecule- by-molecule identical to a healthy, normal, adult human being living in a world physically like ours — indeed this might be our own actual world. To make things more concrete, pick any such person that you actually know. Let this be John. (...) John is not a zombie. Now consider an exact, perfect, physical replica of John, call him Zhon. Note that because John and Zhon are physically alike, they are also behaviorally and functionally alike. So if you were to encounter Zhon, you could not distinguish him from John. Under the imagined circumstances so far, you would normally expect Zhon to be conscious as well. But let’s stipulate that Zhon has no conscious experiences whatsoever — he’s never had them, nor will he ever have them. So Zhon, according to this stipulation, doesn’t know — indeed cannot know — what it is like to have conscious experiences of any kind. There is nothing it is like to be Zhon. Zhon lacks conscious phenomenology altogether. If Zhon were to be a metaphysically possible creature, he would be a zombie.1 So this is the notion of zombie I would like to focus on. According to many philosophers, Zhon is a possible creature, and that is because Zhon is a conceivable creature. This gives us the argument from zombies against physicalism. Physicalism is the doctrine that says: all that exist is physical through and through, including conscious minds and their conscious experiences. The zombie argument, as we might call it, is a species of conceivability arguments: 1. If Zhon is conceivable, then Zhon is possible. 2. Zhon is conceivable. 3. Hence, Zhon is possible. Now since the choice of Zhon was arbitrary, we can, of course, generalize the argument to all zombies like Zhon — that is, to zombies that are physically indistinguishable, in relevant respects, to healthy, normal, adult human beings.. (shrink)
In this article I distinguish the notion of there being something it is like to be a certain kind of creature from that of there being something it is like to have a certain kind of experience. Work on consciousness has typically dealt with the latter while employing the language of the former. I propose several ways of analyzing what it is like to be a certain kind of creature and find problems with them all. The upshot is (...) that even if there is something it is like to have certain kinds of experience, it does not follow that there is anything it is like to be a certain kind of creature. Skepticism about the existence of something that it is like to be an F is recommended. (shrink)
Moral psychologists have recently turned their attention to a phenomenon they call 'moral dumbfounding'. Moral dumbfounding occurs when someone confidently pronounces a moral judgment, then finds that he or she has little or nothing to say in defense of it. This paper addresses recent attempts by Jonathan Haidt and Marc Hauser to make sense of moral dumbfounding in terms of their respective theories of moral judgment; Haidt in terms of a 'social intuitionist' model of moral judgment, and Hauser in terms (...) of his 'Rawlsian creature' model of moral judgment. I show that Haidt and Hauser assume that moral dumbfounding is to be explained in terms of features of a.) moral judgment that are b.) construed in terms of the intrinsic features of individuals. By contrast, I hypothesize that moral dumbfounding is to be explained in terms of moral reasoning, more specifically in terms of the social dynamics of such reasoning. Finally, I argue that this hypothesis points towards an externalistic account of both moral reasoning and moral judgment. (shrink)
I examine the familiar criterial view of personhood, according to which the possession of personal properties such as self-consciousness, emotionality, sentience, and so forth is necessary and sufficient for the status of a person. I argue that this view confuses criteria for personhood with parts of an ideal of personhood. In normal cases, we have already identified a creature as a person before we start looking for it to manifest the personal properties, indeed this pre-identification is part of what (...) makes it possible for us to see and interpret the creature as a person in the first place. This pre-identification is typically based on biological features. Except in some interesting special or science-fiction cases, some of which I discuss, it is human animals that we identify as persons. (shrink)
This paper begins by reflecting on the concept of habit and discussing its significance in various philosophical and non-philosophical contexts – for this helps to clarify the connections between habit and selfhood. I then attempt to sketch an account of the self as ”nothing but habit,“ and to address the questions this raises about how such a self must be constituted. Finally, I focus on the issue of freedom, or liberation, and consider the possibility of moving beyond habit. I emphasize (...) the body since it is through the body that the un-doing of habit must take place. Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty are distinguished from the many philosophers who have recognized the importance of habit by their more radical claim that we not only have habits, but are habits – and for this reason I draw on their work in the first two sections of this paper. (shrink)
Most animals have mental states of one sort or another, but few species share our capacity for self-awareness. We are aware of our own mental states via introspection, and we are aware of the mental states of our fellow human beings on the basis of what they do and say. This chapter is not concerned with these traditional forms of mind-reading—forms whose origins predate the beginnings of recorded history—but with the prospects of a rather different and significantly more recent form (...) of ‘mind-reading’: the capacity to ascribe mental states to a creature on the basis of information derived from neuroimaging. (shrink)
Mind, it is increasingly fashionable to assert, is an intrinsically embodied and environmentally embedded phenomenon. But there is a potential tension between two strands of thought prominent in this recent literature. One of those strands depicts the body as special, and the fine details of a creature’s embodiment as a major constraint on the nature of its mind: a kind of new-wave body-centrism. The other depicts the body as just one element in a kind of equal-partners dance between brain, (...) body and world, with the nature of the mind fixed by the overall balance thus achieved: a kind of extended functionalism (now with an even broader canvas for multiple realizability than ever before). The present paper displays the tension, scouts the space of possible responses, and ends by attempting to specify what the body actually needs to be, given its complex role in these recent debates. (shrink)
A mechanism for planning ahead would appear to be essential to any creature with more than insect level intelligence. In this paper it is shown how planning, using full means-ends analysis, can be had while avoiding the so called symbol grounding problem. The key role of knowledge representation in intelligence has been acknowledged since at least the enlightenment, but the advent of the computer has made it possible to explore the limits of alternate schemes, and to explore the nature (...) of our everyday understanding of the world around us. In particular, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics has forced a close examination, by people other than philosophers, of what it means to say for instance that "snow is white." One interpretation of the "new AI" is that it is questioning the need for representation altogether. Brooks and others have shown how a range of intelligent behaviors can be had without representation, and this paper goes one step further showing how intending to do things can be achieved without symbolic representation. The paper gives a concrete example of a mechanism in terms of robots that play soccer. It describes a belief, desire and intention (BDI) architecture that plans in terms of activities. The result is a situated agent that plans to do things with no more ontological commitment than the reactive systems Brooks described in his seminal paper, "Intelligence without Representation.". (shrink)
The topic of this article is the dependency or, maybe, the interdependency of rationality and self-knowledge. Here two questions may be distinguished, viz. (1) whether being rational is a necessary condition for a creature to have self-knowledge, and (2) whether having self-knowledge is a necessary condition for a creature to be rational. After a brief explication of what I mean by self-knowledge, I deal with the first question. There I defend the Davidsonian position, according to which rationality is, (...) indeed, a necessary condition for self-knowledge. In addition, I distinguish two aspects of rationality which I call basic and local rationality. After that I concentrate on the second question for the remaining larger part of this article. Here I proceed in two stages: first I examine whether self-knowledge is necessary for basic rationality, and then whether it is necessary for local rationality. (shrink)
One phenomenon pertains roughly to being awake. A person or other creature is conscious when it's awake and mentally responsive to sensory input; otherwise it's unconscious. This kind of consciousness figures most often in everyday discourse.
Relying on a range of now-familiar thought-experiments, it has seemed to many philosophers that phenomenal consciousness is beyond the scope of reductive explanation. (Phenomenal consciousness is a form of state-consciousness, which contrasts with creature-consciousness, or perceptual-consciousness. The different forms of state-consciousness include various kinds of access-consciousness, both first-order and higher-order--see Rosenthal, 1986; Block, 1995; Lycan, 1996; Carruthers, 2000. Phenomenal consciousness is the property that mental states have when it is like something to possess them, or when they have subjectively-accessible (...) feels; or as some would say, when they have qualia (see fn.1 below).) Others have thought that we can undermine the credibility of those thought-experiments by allowing that we possess purely recognitional concepts for the properties of our conscious mental states. This paper is concerned to explain, and then to meet, the challenge of showing how purely recognitional concepts are possible if there are no such things as qualia--in the strong sense of intrinsic (non-relational, non-intentional) properties of experience. It argues that an appeal to higher-order experiences is necessary to meet this challenge, and then deploys a novel form of higher-order thought theory to explain how such experiences are generated. (shrink)
Contemporary arguments for forms of psycho-physical dualism standardly depart from phenomenal aspects of consciousness ('what it is like' to have some particular conscious experience). Conceptual aspects of conscious experience, as opposed to phenomenal or visual/perceptual ones, are often taken to be within the scope of functionalist, reductionist, or physicalist theories. I argue that the particular conceptual structure of human consciousness makes this asymmetry unmotivated. The argument for a form of dualism defended here proceeds from the empirical premise that (...) conceptual structure in a linguistic creature like us is a combinatorial and compositional system that implicates a distinction between simple and complex, or 'atomic' and 'molecular' concepts. The argument is that conceptual atoms, qua atoms, are irreducible to anything else. If so, and if the atoms are essentially semantic, a form of dualism follows: though positively inviting naturalistic inquiry into the semantic and mental aspects of nature, it requires that we look at the mental as a primitive domain of nature. Schematically, then, the argument is as follows: (1) Human consciousness/thought is conceptually structured. (2) The human conceptual system is a 'particulate' system at a syntactic and semantic level of representation (the notion of a 'particulate' system is developed in Section 2). (3) This implies the existence of conceptual 'particles', concepts that have no further semantic decomposition ('atoms'). (4) A conceptual atom cannot be explained in terms of anything that does not involve its own intrinsic properties (Section 3). (5) Physicalism as normally conceived is inconsistent with (3) and (4) (Section 4). (shrink)
Leibniz was a divine concurrentist. That is to say, when it came to the question of how God’s causal power relates to the natural causal activity of creatures, Leibniz held that both God and the creature are directly involved in the occurrence of these effects.
In this paper, we present a conditional argument for the moral permissibility of some kinds of infanticide. The argument is based on a certain view of consciousness and the claim that there is an intimate connection between consciousness and infanticide. In bare outline, the argument is this: it is impermissible to intentionally kill a creature only if the creature is conscious; it is reasonable to believe that there is some time at which human infants are conscious; therefore, it (...) is reasonable to believe that it is permissible to intentionally kill some human infants. (shrink)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Eliminative materialism, as William Lycan (this volume) tells us, is materialism plus the claim that no creature has ever had a belief, desire, intention, hope, wish, or other â€œfolk-psychologicalâ€ state. Some contemporary philosophers claim that eliminative materialism is very likely true. They sketch certain potential scenarios, for the way theory might develop in cognitive science and neuroscience, that they claim are fairly likely; and they maintain that if such (...) scenarios turned out to be the truth about humans, then eliminative materialism would be true. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Broadly speaking, there are two ways to reply to such arguments, for those who maintain that eliminative materialism is false (or that the likelihood of its being true is very low). One way is to argue that the scenarios the eliminativists envision are themselves extremely unlikelyâ€”that we can be very confident, given what we now know (including nontendentious scientific knowledge), that those scenarios will not come to pass. The other is to argue that even if they did come to pass, this would not undermine common-sense psychology anyway. People would still have beliefs, etc. The two strategies are not incompatible; one could pursue them both. But the second strategy attacks eliminativism at a more fundamental level. And if it can be successfully carried out, then the dialectical state of play will be strikingly secure for folk psychology. For, then it will turn out that folk psychology simply is not hostage to the kinds of potential empirical-theoretical developments that the eliminativists envision. It doesnâ€™t matter, as far as the integrity of folk psychology is concerned, whether or not such scenarios are likely to come to pass. Eliminativist arguments inevitably rely, often only implicitly, on certain assumptions about what it takes for a creature to have beliefs, desires, and other folk-psychological statesâ€”assumptions about some alleged necessary condition(s) for being a true believer (to adapt this colorful usage from Dennett 1987).. (shrink)
We explicate representational content by addressing how representations that ex- plain intelligent behavior might be acquired through processes of Darwinian evo- lution. We present the results of computer simulations of evolved neural network controllers and discuss the similarity of the simulations to real-world examples of neural network control of animal behavior. We argue that focusing on the simplest cases of evolved intelligent behavior, in both simulated and real organisms, reveals that evolved representations must carry information about the creature’s environ- (...) ments and further can do so only if their neural states are appropriately isomor- phic to environmental states. Further, these informational and isomorphism rela- tions are what are tracked by content attributions in folk-psychological and cognitive scientific explanations of these intelligent behaviors. (shrink)
Marcia Cavell draws on philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the sciences of the mind in a fascinating and original investigation of human subjectivity. A "subject" is a creature, we may say, who recognizes herself as an "I," taking in the world from a subjective perspective; an agent, doing things for reasons, sometimes self-reflective, and able to assume responsibility for herself and some of her actions. If this is an ideal, how does a person become a subject, and what might stand in (...) the way? One of Marcia Cavell's guiding premises is that philosophical investigation into the specifically human way of being in the world cannot separate itself from investigations of a more empirical sort. Cavell brings together for the first time reflections in philosophy, findings in neuroscience, studies in infant development, psychoanalytic theory, and clinical vignettes from her own psychoanalytic practice. (shrink)
In a short piece written most likely in the 1690s and given the title by Loemker of “On Wisdom,” Leibniz says the following: “...we see that happiness, pleasure, love, perfection, being, power, freedom, harmony, order, and beauty are all tied to each other, a truth which is rightly perceived by few.”1 Why is this? That is, why or how are these concepts tied to each other? And, why have so few understood this relation? Historians of philosophy are familiar with the (...) fact that both Spinoza and Leibniz place strong emphasis on the notion of power in giving their accounts of the human passions. But, while many scholars have explicated the relation between power and the passions (especially in Spinoza’s philosophy), there has been considerably less attention given to the nature of perfection and its relation to both power and the passions.2 Consider the following passages from Spinoza and Leibniz in which these two thinkers seem to bring together the issue of perfection and passion. In Ethics IIIp11s, Spinoza says the following: We see, then, that the Mind can undergo great changes, and pass now to a greater, now to a lesser perfection. These passions, indeed, explain to us the affects of Joy and Sadness. By Joy, therefore, I shall understand in what follows that passion by which the Mind passes to a greater perfection. And by Sadness, that passion by which it passes to a lesser perfection. The affect of Joy which is related to the Mind and Body at once I call Pleasure or Cheerfulness, and that of Sadness, Pain or Melancholy.3 And, in the Monadology §49, Leibniz says this: “The creature is said to act externally insofar as it is perfect, and to be acted upon [patir] by another, insofar as it is imperfect.”4 In other words, for Spinoza, the primitive passions of joy and sadness are cases in which a being’s perfection is increasing or decreasing, while, for Leibniz, any passion, it would.. (shrink)
Scholars have usually given Darwin’s theory a neo-Darwinian interpretation. A more careful examination of the language of Darwin’s notebooks and the language of the Origin of Species indicates that he reconstructed nature with a definite purpose: the final goal of man as a moral creature. In the aftermath of the Origin, Darwin, however, became more circumspect.
Creatures that have different physical realizations than human beings may or may not be conscious. Ned Block’s ‘harder problem of consciousness’ is that naturalistic phenomenal realists have no conception of a rational ground for belief that they have or have not discovered consciousness in such a creature. Drawing on the notion of inference to the best explanation, it appears the arguments to these conclusions beg the question and ignore that explanation may be a guide to discovery. Thus, best explanation (...) can both validate an interpretation of the evidence and lead to the discovery of consciousness. (shrink)
In the nineteenth century, astronomers thought that a planet between Mercury and the Sun was causing perturbations in the orbit of Mercury, and they introduced ‘Vulcan’ as a name for such a planet. But they were wrong: there was, and is, no intra-Mercurial planet. Still, these astronomers went around saying things like (2) Vulcan is a planet between Mercury and the Sun. Some philosophers think that, when nineteenth-century astronomers were theorizing about an intra-Mercurial planet, they created a hypothetical planet.
This paper defends a dynamic model of the way in which perception is integrated with action, a model I refer to as ‘the navigational account’. According to this account, employing vision and other forms of distance perception, a creature acquires information about its surroundings via the senses, information that enables it to select and navigate routes through its environment, so as to attain objects that satisfy its needs. This form of perceptually guided activity should be distinguished from other kinds (...) of semi-automatic responses to visual stimuli that do not necessarily involve conscious experiences. It essentially involves inner states, which involve both the awareness of phenomenal qualities, and also a representational component. The navigational account is compared here with the enactive approach to perception, which opposes the view that perceptual experiences are inner states. This paper argues that a full account of perception raises a number of different questions. One central explanatory project concerns questions about the kinds of processes that currently enable a creature to identify and respond appropriately to distant objects: the answer, it is argued, lies in acknowledging the role of conscious inner representations in guiding navigational behaviour through complex environments. The fact that perception and action are interdependent does not conflict with the claim that inner representational states comprise an essential stage in visual processing. (shrink)
Problems of Rationality is the eagerly awaited fourth volume of Donald Davidson's philosophical writings. From the 1960s until his death in August 2003 Davidson was perhaps the most influential figure in English-language philosophy, and his work has had a profound effect upon the discipline. His unified theory of the interpretation of thought, meaning, and action holds that rationality is a necessary condition for both mind and interpretation. Davidson here develops this theory to illuminate value judgements and how we understand them; (...) to investigate what the conditions are for attributing mental states to an object or creature; and to grapple with the problems presented by thoughts and actions which seem to be irrational. Anyone working on knowledge, mind, and language will find these essays essential reading. (shrink)
Conservative thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama have produced a battery of objections to the transhumanist project of fundamentally enhancing human capacities. This article examines one of these objections, namely that by allowing some to greatly extend their capacities, we will undermine the fundamental moral equality of human beings. I argue that this objection is groundless: once we understand the basis for human equality, it is clear that anyone who now has sufficient capacities to count as a person from the moral (...) point of view will continue to count as one even if others are fundamentally enhanced; and it is mistaken to think that a creature which had even far greater capacities than an unenhanced human being should count as more than an equal from the moral point of view. (shrink)
Prompted by the thesis that an organism’s umwelt possesses not just a descriptive dimension, but a normative one as well, some have sought to annex semiotics with ethics. Yet the pronouncements made in this vein have consisted mainly in rehearsing accepted moral intuitions, and have failed to concretely further our knowledge of why or how a creature comes to order objects in its environment in accordance with axiological charges of value or disvalue. For want of a more explicit account, (...) theorists writing on the topic have relied almost exclusively on semiotic insights about perception originally designed as part of a sophisticated refutation of idealism. The end result, which has been a form of direct givenness, has thus been far from convincing. In an effort to bring substance to the right-headed suggestion that values are rooted in the biological and conform to species-specific requirements, we present a novel conception that strives to make explicit the elemental structure underlying umwelt normativity. Building and expanding on the seminal work of Ayn Rand in metaethics, we describe values as an intertwined lattice which takes a creature’s own embodied life as its ultimate standard; and endeavour to show how, from this, all subsequent valuations can in principle be determined. (shrink)
Explanation does not exist in a metaphysical vacuum. Conceptions of the structure of a phenomenon play an important role in guiding attempts to explain it, and erroneous conceptions of a phenomenon may direct investigation in misleading directions. I believe that there is a case to be made for thinking that much work on the neural underpinnings of consciousness—what is often called the neural correlates of consciousness—is driven by an erroneous conception of the structure of consciousness. The aim of this paper (...) is lay bare some connections between the explanation of consciousness and the structure of consciousness, and to argue for a conception of the structure of consciousness that is more adequate than that which currently drives much research into the neural correlates of consciousness. (shrink)
The psychofunctionalist claim that psychological terms can be defined through the use of an experimental theory has been criticized on the grounds that it is "chauvinistic": that it denies mentality to any creature of which the selected theory is false. I analyze the "argument from science fiction" that is thought to establish this conclusion, and show that its plausibility rests on a scope ambiguity in formulations of functional definitions. One formulation is indeed chauvinistic, but an alternative rendering is not, (...) and is perfectly consistent with ascribing mentality to creatures of which the selected psychological theory is false. This alternative interpretation of psychofunctionalism is set out in detail, defended from several objections, and finally tied to the semantics of ordinary language psychological terms. (shrink)
There are certain logical abilities that any rational creature must have. I call this thesis the Universality of Logic (UL). Something like UL is presupposed in Quinean and Davidsonian uses of the Principle of Charity. Their arguments for the Principle of Charity might be thought of as top−down arguments, establishing UL on the basis of very general considerations about meaning and belief. In this paper, I intend to argue for UL constructively, from the bottom up, as it were, by (...) showing just why and how rationality demands certain specific logical abilities. I shall begin by looking at two sources of opposition to UL, in order to locate it better in the current philosophical landscape and underline the interest and importance of the thesis. Next, I shall deal with important methodological issues surrounding my arguments for UL. This will involve addressing such questions as: what is a rational creature?; and, what are logical abilities? As a result, we will be led to a certain weakening of UL. Then, I shall argue for the weakened version of UL constructively, by demonstrating the universality of certain particular logical abilities. Finally, I shall examine some of the consequences of UL for other areas of philosophy. (shrink)
Philosophical debates about the mental life of non-human animals provide an especially vivid illustration of how radically philosophers‘ intuitions concerning other minds can diverge. Do animals have mental states? Of what sort? Do any of the beasts have minds that overlap with ours? Is there any significant continuity between their minds and ours? Davidson is well known for arguing that, for conceptual reasons, at least when it comes to beliefs and other propositional attitudes, non-human animals differ from us in having (...) none. For example, he has argued that having beliefs requires having the concept of belief, which in turn requires language (Davidson (2001a), (2001b)). He has also argued that possession of any propositional attitude presupposes possession of belief, and that attributing any propositional attitude to a creature requires crediting them with the concepts that figure in the specification of the attitude‘s content (Davidson (2001a), (2001b) (2004)). Davidson‘s arguments are tantalizing, but also puzzling, and far from explicit; and they have been subjected to sharp scrutiny and powerful objections from a number of authors in recent years. (shrink)
Abstract On Schellenberg’s formulation of the problem of divine hiddenness, a loving God would ensure that anyone capable of having a relationship with Him, and not resisting it, would be granted sufficient evidence to make belief in God rationally indubitable. And He would do this by granting a powerful religious experience to every person at the moment he or she reaches the age of reason. Here I lay out a new reason why God might delay revelation of himself, justifiably allowing (...) for some nonresistant nonbelief. Content Type Journal Article Category Article Pages 1-11 DOI 10.1007/s11153-012-9338-5 Authors Travis Dumsday, Department of Religious Studies, Livingstone College, 701 West Monroe St., Salisbury, NC 28144, USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047. (shrink)
Consider what the brain-state theorist has to do to make good his claims. He has to specify a physical–chemical state such that any organism (not just a mammal) is in pain if and only if (a) it possesses a brain of suitable physical–chemical structure; and (b) its brain is in that physical–chemical state. This means that the physical–chemical state in question must be a possible state of a mammalian brain, a reptilian brain, a mollusc’s brain (octopuses are mollusca, and certainly (...) feel pain), etc. At the same time, it must not be a possible (physically possible) state of the brain of any physically possible creature that cannot feel pain. Even if such a state can be found, it must be nomologically certain that it will also be a state of the brain of any extraterrestrial life that may be found that will be capable of feeling pain before we can even entertain the supposition that it may be pain. It is not altogether impossible that such a state will be found... . But this is certainly an ambitious hypothesis. (Putnam 1967/1975, p. 436) The belief that mental states are multiply realized is now nearly universal among philosophers, as is the belief that this fact decisively refutes the identity theory. I argue that the empirical support for multiple realization does not justify the confidence that has been placed in it. In order for multiple realization of mental states to be an objection to the identity theory, the neurological differences among pains, for example, must be such as to guarantee that they are of distinct neurological kinds. But the phenomena traditionally cited do not provide evidence of that sort of variation. In particular, examples of neural plasticity do not provide such evidence. (shrink)
John Cottingham explores central areas of Descartes's rich and wide-ranging philosophical system, including his accounts of thought and language, of freedom and action, of our relationship to the animal domain, and of human morality and the conduct of life. He also examines ways in which his philosophy has been misunderstood. The Cartesian mind-body dualism that is so often attacked is only a part of Descartes's account of what it is to be a thinking, sentient, human creature, and the way (...) he makes the division between the mental and the physical is considerably more subtle, and philosophically more appealing, than is generally assumed. Although Descartes is often considered to be one of the heralds of our modern secular worldview, the 'new' philosophy which he launched retains many links with the ideas of his predecessors, not least in the all-pervasive role it assigns to God (something that is ignored or downplayed by many modern readers); and the character of the Cartesian outlook is multifaceted, sometimes anticipating Enlightenment ideas of human autonomy and independent scientific inquiry, but also sometimes harmonizing with more traditional notions of human nature as created to find fulfilment in harmony with its creator. (shrink)
Depending on how one looks at it, we have been enjoying or suffering a significant empirical turn in moral psychology during this first decade of the 21st century. While philosophers have, from time to time, considered empirical matters with respect to morality, those who took an interest in actual (rather than ideal) moral agents were primarily concerned with whether particular moral theories were ‘too demanding’ for creatures like us (Flanagan, 1991; Williams, 1976; Wolf, 1982). Faithful adherence to Utilitarianism or Kantianism (...) would appear to be inconsistent with other things we value, like personal integrity and flourishing, which depend upon pursuing individually determined projects and ways of life in rather single-minded ways. Maximizing the good is a full-time job, and the impartiality recommended by Kantian theory can get in the way of showing special care for those we know and love. All this is standard philosophical fare. However, more recently, philosophers and psychologists have begun to treat moral psychology as a legitimate branch of cognitive science. They inquire into the evolution of morality (e.g., Joyce, 2007; Nichols 2004), debate the human uniqueness of moral capacities (e.g., deWaal, 2006; Hauser, 2006), investigate the causal etiology of moral judgments (e.g., Haidt & Greene, 2002; Hauser et al., 2006; Prinz, 2006), attempt to map the neuroanatomy of moral reasoning (e.g., Greene et al., 2001; Greene et al., 2004; Moll, et al., 2005), and consider what other affective and cognitive capacities are required by a creature who sees the world in moral terms. (See also Sinnott-Armstrong, 2007, 2008a, 2008b). 1 In this essay, I discuss two issues whose interdependence and central importance for empirically informed moral psychology have not been fully grasped, or so I believe. First is what I call the Explananda Challenge. Let us assume that the primary question for moral psychology is this: How is it possible for human beings to be moral creatures? Deceptively simple, this question obscures a number of rather more difficult ones.. (shrink)