This dialogue discusses a proposal for the legalization of torture under specific circumstances and contrasts it with arguments for a total ban on torture. We consider three types of objection: first, that the difficulty of having adequate knowledge renders the stock “ticking bomb” scenario such a low-probability hypothetical as to present no realistic threat to a policy banning all torture; second, that empirically the information gleaned from torture is so unlikely to be reliable that it could not justify the moral (...) risk; and third, that sanctioning torture, even if only under the most extreme circumstances, would generate a ‘culture of torture,’ hence undermining fragile advances in international human rights rooted in unwavering commitment to human dignity. Compelling as these arguments appear, not all the conversants are wholly convinced by them; to this extent the dialogue ends aporetically. (shrink)
In a fictional conversation designed to appeal to both working teachers and social philosophers, three educators take up the question of whether critical thinking itself can, or should, be taught independently of an explicit consideration of issues related to social justice. One, a thoughtful but somewhat traditional Enlightenment rationalist, sees critical thinking as a neutral set of skills and dispositions, essentially unrelated to the conclusions of morality, problems of social organization, or the content of any particular academic discipline. A second (...) interlocutor, steeped in “critical” pedagogy of Paulo Freire, insists that the problem is the pose of neutrality itself. On this view, all honest and effective approaches to teaching must confront the hegemony of unjust relationships, institutions, and conceptual schemes. The third character attempts to resolve the tension between these two opposed camps. (shrink)
GREGORY R. JOHNSON and DAVID RASMUSSEN argue that Rand's defense of abortion on demand is inconsistent with her own fundamental metaphysical, epistemological, and moral principles, namely that everything that exists has a determinate identity, that the concept of man refers to all of man's characteristics, not just his essential characteristics, and that there is no gap between what an organism truly is and what it ought to be.
Gregory R. Johnson and David Rasmussen defend their critique of Ayn Rand's views on abortion, arguing that their critics miss its main points. Tibor Machan and Alexander Tabarrok actually depart from Rand's own position under the guise of defending it; they introduce a non-Randian distinction between being a human organism and being a moral person.
Theological incompatibility arguments suggest God's comprehensive foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will. Logical incompatibility arguments suggest a complete set of truths about the future is logically incompatible with human free will. Of the two, most think theological incompatibility is the more severe problem; but hardly anyone thinks either kind of argument presents a real threat to free will. I will argue, however, that sound theological and logical incompatibility arguments exist and that, in fact, logical incompatibly is the more severe (...) problem. A deep analysis of the arguments will reveal that, to avoid a fatalist conclusion, we must reject bivalence and adopt a specific kind of temporal ontology (presentism), which also forces the theist to embrace open theism. (shrink)
This paper is a response to a recent claim made by Norwegian philosopher Tarjei Larsen in the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology that Merleau-Ponty’s own theory of painting undermines the important distinction made in his thought between primordial perception and cultural construction because it requires that perception take different cultural and historical forms in order to account for perspectival painting. I try to show that this distinction is not so easily collapsed by arguing that Larsen has misconstrued Merleau-Ponty’s (...) account of painting as a phenomenological theory of painting and misinterpreted Merleau-Ponty’s concept of painterly style, and that therefore the conclusion that perception must be malleable is not warranted. What is at stake in this debate is whether Merleau-Ponty’s own account of painting threatens the basis for his phenomenological project as well as his attempt to accord substantial philosophical significance to painting. (shrink)
Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because God might have justifying reasons for allowing such evils (JuffREs) that are undetectable. However, skeptical theists are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it is undeniable that (...) the skeptical theist is wrong; SUEs lower the probability of God's existence. To establish this, I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each—after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of a SUE—the probability of God's existence drops. (shrink)
Abstract Is it plausible to claim (some) non?human animals have beliefs, on the (non?behaviourist) assumption that believing is or involves subjects? engaging in practical reasoning which takes account of meanings? Some answer Yes, on the ground that evolutionary continuities linking humans with other animals must include psychological ones. But (1) evolution does not operate?even primarily?by means of continuities. Thus species, no matter how closely related (in fact, sometimes even conspecifics) operate with very different adaptive ?tricks'; and it is plausible to (...) think these, rather than the physiological ?groundings? underlying them, are the best means of (analogies for) explaining beliefs. Also (2) it is reasonable to assimilate most cases ?down? to creatures (e.g. flies) that obviously lack beliefs rather than ?up? to others (chimpanzees) that apparently possess belief?like states (proto?beliefs), because observation shows the internal workings of such middle animals? ?beliefs? differ markedly from the corresponding things humans do. For example, ducks do not have beliefs about the numbers of objects, because although they estimate numerically, they do it in a way that is much more firmly connected to perceiving than would be the case either with counting or a counting?like process. (shrink)
Previous research has identified user concerns about biometric authentication technology, but most of this research has been conducted in European contexts. There is a lack of research that has investigated attitudes towards biometric technology in other cultures. To address this issue, data from India, South Africa and the United Kingdom were collected and compared. Cross-cultural attitudinal differences were seen, with Indian respondents viewing biometrics most positively while respondents from the United Kingdom were the least likely to have a positive opinion (...) about biometrics. Multiple barriers to the acceptance of biometric technology were identified with data security and health and safety fears having the greatest overall impact on respondentsâ attitudes towards biometrics. The results of this investigation are discussed with reference to Hofstedeâs cultural dimensions and theories of technology acceptance. It is argued that contextual issues specific to each country provide a better explanation of the results than existing theories based on Hofstedeâs model. We conclude that cultural differences have an impact on the way biometric systems will be used and argue that these factors should be taken into account during the design and implementation of biometric systems. (shrink)
An inﬁnite number of elastically colliding balls is considered in a classical, and then in a relativistic setting. Energy and momentum are not necessarily conserved globally, even though each collision does separately conserve them. This result holds in particular when the total mass of all the balls is ﬁnite, and even when the spatial extent and temporal duration of the process are also ﬁnite. Further, the process is shown to be indeterministic: there is an arbitrary parameter in the general solution (...) that corresponds to the injection of an arbitrary amount of energy (classically), or energy-momentum (relativistically), into the system at the point of accumulation of the locations of the balls. Speciﬁc examples are given that illustrate these counter-intuitive results, including one in which all the balls move with the same velocity after every collision has taken place. (shrink)
The Empiricist or Lockean view says natural kinds do not exist objectively in nature but are practical categories reflecting use of words. The Modern, Ostensive view says they do exist, and one can refer to such a kind by ostention and recursion, assuming his designation of it is related causally to the kind itself. However, this leads to a problem: Kinds are abstract repeatables, and it seems impossible that abstractions could have causal force. In defence of the Modern view, I (...) suggest we can think of kinds as — or as like — ecological niches existing in nature, which are causally effective by virtue of the fact that they predictively determine (some) properties of the things that happen to occupy them. (shrink)
We consider the use ofevolving algebra methods of specifying grammars for natural languages. We are especially interested in distributed evolving algebras. We provide the motivation for doing this, and we give a reconstruction of some classic grammar formalisms in directly dynamic terms. Finally, we consider some technical questions arising from the use of direct dynamism in grammar formalisms.
An actual infinity of colliding balls can be in a configuration in which the laws of mechanics lead to logical inconsistency. It is argued that one should therefore limit the domain of these laws to a finite, or only a potentially infinite number of elements. With this restriction indeterminism, energy nonconservation and creatio ex nihilo no longer occur. A numerical analysis of finite systems of colliding balls is given, and the asymptotic behaviour that corresponds to the potentially infinite system is (...) inferred. (shrink)
The case recounts an incident of theft at a CEOs home during a company party. The rogue may well be an employee, and the CEO considers his options: should he let the matter pass and preserve the good will generated by the party, or should he stand on principle and engage the issue frontally? Three commentators provide perspective on an optimal response. They consider whether the CEOs true intent is to show appreciation or showcase opulence. In addition, the aberrant behavior (...) at this celebratory event suggests some measures that management might take in the workplace. (shrink)
We present a rendering of some common grammatical formalisms in terms of evolving algebras. Though our main concern in this paper is on constraint-based formalisms, we also discuss the more basic case of context-free grammars. Our aim throughout is to highlight the use of evolving algebras as a specification tool to obtain grammar formalisms.
As a new field, cognitivism began with the total rejection of the old, traditional views of language acquisition and of learning ─ individual and collective alike. Chomsky was one of the pioneers in this respect, yet he clouds issues by excessive claims for his originality and by not allowing the beginner in the art of the acquisition of language the use of learning by making hypotheses and testing them, though he acknowledges that researchers, himself included, do use this method. The (...) most important novelty of Chomsky's work is his idealization of the field by postulating the existence of the ideal speaker-hearer and his suggestion that the hidden structure of sentences is revealed by studying together all sentences that are logically equivalent to each other. This is progress, but his tests of equivalence are insufficient, as they all are within classical logic. This limitation rests on the greatest shortcoming of Chomsky's view, his idea that every sentence has one subject or subject-part, contrary to the claim of Frege and Russell that assertions involving relations (with two-place predicates) are structurally different from those involving properties (with one-place predicates). (See the Appendix below.). (shrink)