(1997). Considering moral sensitivity in media ethics courses and research: An essay review by Robert F. Potter. Journal of Mass Media Ethics: Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 51-57. doi: 10.1207/s15327728jmme1201_4.
Philosophers of religion have taken the assumption for granted that the various religious traditions of the world have incompatible beliefs. In this paper, I will argue that this assumption is more problematic than has been generally recognized. To make this argument, I will discuss the implications of internal religious disagreement, an aspect of this issue that has been too often ignored in the contemporary debate. I will also briefly examine some implications of my argument for how one might respond to (...) the existence of religious diversity. (shrink)
What is the nature of mathematical knowledge? Is it anything like scientific knowledge or is it sui generis? How do we acquire it? Should we believe what mathematicians themselves tell us about it? Are mathematical concepts innate or acquired? Eight new essays offer answers to these and many other questions. Written by some of the world's leading philosophers of mathematics, psychologists, and mathematicians, Mathematical Knowledge gives a lively sense of the current state of debate in this fascinating field. Contents 1. (...) Mary Leng: Introduction 2. Michael Potter: What is the problem of mathematical knowledge? 3. Tim Gowers: Mathematics, memory, and mental arithmetic 4. Alan Baker: Is there a problem of induction for mathematics? 5. Marinella Cappelletti and Valeria Giardino: The cognitive basis of mathematical knowledge 6. Mary Leng: What's there to know? A fictionalist account of mathematical knowledge 7. Mark Colyvan: Mathematical recreation versus mathematical knowledge 8. Alexander Paseau: Scientific platonism 9. Crispin Wright: On quantifying into predicate position: Steps towards a (new)tralist position. (shrink)
Michael Potter presents a comprehensive new philosophical introduction to set theory. Anyone wishing to work on the logical foundations of mathematics must understand set theory, which lies at its heart. Potter offers a thorough account of cardinal and ordinal arithmetic, and the various axiom candidates. He discusses in detail the project of set-theoretic reduction, which aims to interpret the rest of mathematics in terms of set theory. The key question here is how to deal with the paradoxes that (...) bedevil set theory. Potter offers a strikingly simple version of the most widely accepted response to the paradoxes, which classifies sets by means of a hierarchy of levels. What makes the book unique is that it interweaves a careful presentation of the technical material with a penetrating philosophical critique. Potter does not merely expound the theory dogmatically but at every stage discusses in detail the reasons that can be offered for believing it to be true. Set Theory and its Philosophy is a key text for philosophy, mathematical logic, and computer science. (shrink)
How is reality really manufactured? The idea of social construction has become a commonplace part of much social research, yet precisely what is constructed, how it is constructed, and what constructionism means are often left unclear or taken for granted. In this major work, Jonathan Potter explores the central themes raised by these questions. Representing Reality explores the different traditions in constructivist thought--including sociology of scientific knowledge; conversation analysis and ethnomethodology; and semiotics, poststructuralism, and postmodernism--to provide a lucid introduction (...) to several key strands of work that have overturned the way we think about facts and descriptions. Potter illustrates his points throughout with varied and engaging examples taken from newspaper stories, relationship counseling sessions, accounts of paranormal events, social workers' assessments of violent parents, informal talk between program organizers, political arguments, and everyday conversations. Representing Reality offers the student and scholar in social psychology, rhetoric and discourse, and related fields a critical introduction to constructivism. (shrink)
Feminist perspectives have been increasingly influential on philosophy of science. Feminism and Philosophy of Science is designed to introduce the newcomer to the central themes, issues and arguments of this burgeoning area of study. Elizabeth Potter engages in a rigorous and well-organized study that takes in the views of key feminist theorists - Nelson, Wylie, Anderson, Longino and Harding - whose arguments exemplify contemporary feminist philosophy of science. The book is divided into six chapters looking at important themes: naturalized (...) feminist empiricism feminist value theory feminist conceptual empiricism standpoint epistemologies of science value-free science Arranged thematically, F eminism and Philosophy of Science looks at the spectrum of views that have arisen in the debate, and unpicks the arguments on key topics such as value-free science, values, objectivity, point of view and relativism. It assumes no previous knowledge of the subject, and is written in an accessible, student-friendly style. It will be an important read for students of philosophy, philosophy of science, gender studies and feminist studies. (shrink)
This is a critical examination of the astonishing progress made in the philosophical study of the properties of the natural numbers from the 1880s to the 1930s. Reassessing the brilliant innovations of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and others, which transformed philosophy as well as our understanding of mathematics, Michael Potter places arithmetic at the interface between experience, language, thought, and the world.
This collection of thirteen essays, when viewed together, offers a unique perspective on the history of American philosophy. It illuminates for the first time in book form, how thirteen major American philosophical thinkers viewed a problem of special interest in the American philosophical tradition: the relationship between experience and reflection. Written by well-known authorities on the figure about which he or she writes, the essays are arranged chronologically to highlight the changes and developments in thought from Puritanism to Pragmatism to (...) Process Philosophy. While Doctrine and Experience will be of particular interest to specialists in American Philosophy, there is also much to offer anyone interested in the intellectual and cultural history of the United States. In order of appearance, the essays are: "Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening" by John E. Smith "Heart and Head: The Mind of Thomas Jefferson" by Andrew J. Reck"Emerson and the American Future" by Robert C. Pollock"Chauncey Wright and the Pragmatists" by Edward Madden"Charles S. Peirce: Action Through Thought – The Ethics of Experience" by Vincent G. Potter"Life Is in the Transitions’: Radical Empiricism and Contemporary Concerns" by John J. McDermott"John Dewey and the Metaphysics of American Democracy" by Ralph W. Sleeper"Individualization and Unification in Sartre and Dewey" by Thelma Z. Levine"Josiah Royce: Anticipator of European Existentialism and Phenomenology" by Jacqueline Ann K. Kegley"The Transcendence of Materialism and Idealism in American Thought" by John Lachs"C. I. Lewis and the Pragmatic Tradition in American Philosophy" by Sandra Rosenthal"The Social Philosophy of George Herbert Mead" by David Miller"Existence as Transaction: A Whiteheadian Study of Causality" by Elizabeth Kraus. (shrink)
A companion volume to On Understanding Understanding, this second edition incorporates corrections to the previous text and includes new readings. The works collected in this volume are mainly from the British Empiricists. The breadth of the selection is not so diverse that the pieces cannot be readily understood by a newcomer to Epistemology, they have a logical progression of development (from Locke to Berkeley to Hume), and all of the philosophers whose work is represented have had great influence on contemporary (...) Anglo-American philosophy. In the Introduction, Potter sets the selections in their historical context and urges the readers to form their own viewpoint in terms of the period’s contribution to the advancement of culture, politics, and society. He gives a concise summary of the Enlightenment period, demonstrating how and why Rationalism and Empiricism came about, and challenges the reader not to simply note the points of disparity between the two schools, but to notice the similarities of their common assumptions – both substantive and methodological. Readings in Epistemology, Second Edition is an excellent classroom tool. A biographical note on the philosopher, and list of suggested books for further study, heads each of the readings. Study Questions which stimulate discussion, are at the end of each piece. (shrink)
In recent years, Charles Sanders Peirce has emerged, in the eyes of philosophers both in America and abroad, as one of America’s major philosophical thinkers. His work has forced us back to philosophical reflection about those basic issues that inevitably confront us as human beings, especially in an age of science. Peirce’s concern for experience, for what is actually encountered, means that his philosophy, even in its most technical aspects, forms a reflective commentary on actual life and on the world (...) in which it is lived. In Charles S. Peirce: On Norms and Ideals, Potter argues that Peirce’s doctrine of the normative sciences is essential to his pragmatism. No part of Peirce’s philosophy is bolder than his attempt to establish esthetics, ethics, and logic as the three normative sciences and to argue for the priority of esthetics among the trio. Logic, Potter cites, is normative because it governs thought and aims at truth; ethics is normative because it analyzes the ends to which thought should be directed; esthetics is normative and fundamental because it considers what it means to be an end of something good in itself. This study shows that pierce took seriously the trinity of normative sciences and demonstrates that these categories apply both to the conduct of man and to the workings of the cosmos. Professor Potter combines sympathetic and informed exposition with straightforward criticism and he deals in a sensible manner with the gaps and inconsistencies in Peirce’s thought. His study shows that Peirce was above all a cosmological and ontological thinker, one who combined science both as a method and as result with a conception of reasonable actions to form a comprehensive theory of reality. Peirce’s pragmatism, although it has to do with "action and the achievement of results, is not a glorification of action but rather a theory of the dynamic nature of things in which the "ideal" dimension of reality – laws, nature of things, tendencies, and ends – has genuine power for directing the cosmic order, including man, toward reasonable goals. (shrink)
You Are Here is a dazzling exploration of the universe and our relationship to it, as seen through the lens of today's most cutting-edge scientific thinking. Christopher Potter brilliantly parses the meaning of what we call the universe. He tells the story of how something evolved from nothing and how something became everything. What does a material description of everything and nothing look like? What is it that science does when it describes a reality that is made out of (...) something? In between nothing and everything is where we live. Here, for the first time in a single span, is the life of the universe, from quarks to galaxy superclusters and from slime to Homo sapiens. The universe was once a moment of perfect symmetry and is now 13.7 billion years of history. Clouds of gas were woven into whatever complexity we find in the universe today: the hierarchies of stars or the brains of mammals. Potter writes entertainingly about the history and philosophy of science, and he shows that science advances by continually removing humankind from a position of primacy in the universe, but the universe responds by placing us back there again. With wisdom and wonder, Potter traverses the cosmos from its conception to its eventual end—while exploring everything in between. (shrink)
Could God have created a better universe? Well, the fundamental scientific laws and parameters of the universe have to be within a certain miniscule range, for a life-sustaining universe to develop: the universe must be ‘Fine Tuned’. Therefore the ‘embryonic universe’ that came into existence with the ‘big bang’ had to be either exactly as it was or within a certain tiny range, for there to develop a life-sustaining universe. If it is better that there exist a life-sustaining universe than (...) not, then it was better that the embryonic universe was one of this small set of very similar embryonic universes than that it was not. Furthermore, there are no firm grounds for claiming that of this small set of very similar embryonic universes, there is one which would have developed into a universe better than ours. Therefore there are no firm grounds for claiming that God could have created a better universe than ours. (shrink)
Feminists have a number of distinct interests in, and perspectives on, science. The tools of science have been a crucial resource for understanding the nature, impact, and prospects for changing gender-based forms of oppression; in this spirit, feminists actively draw on, and contribute to, the research programs of a wide range of sciences. At the same time, feminists have identified the sciences as a source as well as a locus of gender inequalities: the institutions of science have a long tradition (...) of excluding women as practitioners; feminist critics of science find that women and gender (or, more broadly, issues of concern to women and sex/gender minorities) are routinely marginalized as subjects of scientific inquiry, or are treated in ways that reproduce gender-normative stereotypes; and, closing the circle, scientific authority has frequently served to rationalize the kinds of social roles and institutions that feminists call into question. -/- Feminist perspectives on science therefore reflect a broad spectrum of epistemic attitudes toward and appraisals of science. Some urge the reform of gender inequities in the institutions of science and call for attention to neglected questions with the aim of improving the sciences in their own terms; they do not challenge the standards and practices of the sciences they engage. Others pursue jointly critical and constructive programs of research that, to varying degrees, aim at transforming the methodologies, substantive content, framework assumptions, and epistemic ideals that animate the sciences. The content of these perspectives, and the degree to which they generate transformative critique, depends not only on the types of philosophical and political commitments that inform them but also on the nature of the sciences and subject domains on which they bear. Feminist perspectives have had greatest impact on sciences that deal with inherently gendered subjects—the social and human sciences—and, secondarily, on sciences that study subjects characterized in gendered terms, metaphorically or by analogy (projectively gendered subjects), chiefly the biological and life sciences. Feminist perspectives are relevant to sciences that deal with non-gendered subject matters, but perspectives vary substantially in content and in critical import depending on the sciences and the particular research programs they engage. (shrink)
We will consider alternative ways that Kant’s philosophical views on ethics generally and on punishment more particularly could be brought into harmony with the present near consensus of opposition to the death penalty. We will make use of the notion of the contemporary consensus about certain issues, particularly equality of the sexes and the death penalty, found in widespread agreement, though not unanimity. Of course, it is always possible that some consensuses are wrong, or misguided, or mistaken. We should not (...) put too much philosophical weight on the notion of a consensus here. If there is a consensus for the equality of women as citizens, and against the death penalty, this will simply suggest to us that we will want to reconsider Kant’s views on such topics. In both instances mentioned, his views lie outside the current consensus. We will consider how to revise Kant’s views to bring them into accord with these current consensuses, within a theory that is still, in as significant a sense as possible, Kantian. Since the use of the idea of a consensus is a sort of short-cut, there will not be much direct discussion of arguments for or against the equality of women as citizens, or for or against the advisability of using the death penalty. Yet the discussions of these issues will illuminate certain facts about the structure of Kant’s moral and political theories, and about how the basic principles within those theories relate to particular moral applications or topics. If we can still end up with a thoroughly Kantian view on the death penalty, that also will tell us something about the relation of Kantian ethical and legal principles to the death penalty as that issue is discussed today. Opposition to the death penalty in present day circumstances is not at variance with the basic principles of Kantian ethical, political, and legal theory, including his retributivism in the justification of punishment. Indeed, there is a way of revising Kant’s views to bring them into harmony with abolition. (shrink)
The article reviews recent developments in England in the law of necessity as a defence to crime and calls for its further extension. It argues that the defence of necessity presents the criminal law with difficult questions of competing values and the ordering of harms. English law has taken a nuanced position on the respective roles of the courts and the legislature in the ordering of harms, although the development of the law has been pragmatic rather than coherently theorised. The (...) law has granted necessity some scope as an exculpatory principle in the law of general defences, but it has also respected the primacy of the legislature as the legitimate arbiter of many of the competitions of value that necessity throws up. The recognition of necessity has not been in the form of a single unified defence of that name. Rather it has taken the form of a number of defences, based on a principle of necessity, but with different nomenclature and different rationales. This approach to necessity is defended as right in terms of principle and policy. Any further development of necessity as a general defence should be restricted to two contexts, namely those of emergencies, and of conflicts of duty, where a danger of death or serious injury is present. (shrink)
Feminist science scholars need models of science that allow feminist accounts, not only of the inception and reception of scientific theories, but of their content as well. I argue that a "Network Model," properly modified, makes clear theoretically how race, sex and class considerations can influence the content of scientific theories. The adoption of the "corpuscular philosophy" by Robert Boyle and other Puritan scientists during the English Civil War offers us a good case on which to test such a model. (...) According to these men, the minute corpuscles constituting the physical world are dead, not alive; passive, not active. I argue that they chose the principle that matter is passive in part because its contrary, the principle that matter is alive and self-moving, had a radical social meaning and use to the women and men working for progressive change in mid-seventeenth century England. (shrink)
Crispin Wright and Bob Hale have defended the strategy of defining the natural numbers contextually against the objection which led Frege himself to reject it, namely the so-called ‘Julius Caesar problem’. To do this they have formulated principles (called sortal inclusion principles) designed to ensure that numbers are distinct from any objects, such as persons, a proper grasp of which could not be afforded by the contextual definition. We discuss whether either Hale or Wright has provided independent motivation for a (...) defensible version of the sortal inclusion principle and whether they have succeeded in showing that numbers are just what the contextual definition says they are. (shrink)
This is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the history of understanding of the human mind or soul and its relationship to the body, through the course of more than two thousand years. Thirteen specially commissioned chapters, each written by a recognized expert, discuss such figures as the doctors Hippocrates and Galen, the theologians St Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas, and philosophers from Plato to Leibniz.
In the sociopolitical domain, psychiatry runs the risk of excusing immoral behavior by claiming it is ‘disordered’ and, conversely, of assigning moral blame to what are more properly considered illnesses (O’Malley 2004; Wiseman 1961). This debate is often played out in terms of the relationship between psychotic states and crimes such as murder. Examples include debates about whether Andrea Yates should have been executed for filicide. A similar controversy would have likely emerged had Seung-Hui Cho lived after committing mass murder (...) at Virginia Tech University. A longstanding problem in psychiatry, questions of whether certain people are mad or bad continue to haunt the field. In 1994, Susan Smith of .. (shrink)
del's appeal to mathematical intuition to ground our grasp of the axioms of set theory, is notorious. I extract from his writings an account of this form of intuition which distinguishes it from the metaphorical platonism of which Gödel is sometimes accused and brings out the similarities between Gödel's views and Dummett's.
Ethnomethodology is in trouble, its conceptual apparatus prone to indifference or misunderstanding both from "conventional" sociologists and from its own practitioners. This article describes some of these loci of confusion and suggests that they have a common root in the relationship between ethnomethodology and conventional sociology. Ethnomethodologists' desire to find a principled theoretical framework for dealing with this relationship is shown to be the common basis for subsequent confusion, and some of the corollaries of their putative solution(s) are elaborated with (...) regard to their philosophical and programmatic implications. Key Words: ethnomethodology social constructionism situated action social structures. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was unquestionably one of the most important philosophers of all time. He trained as a mathematician, and his work in philosophy started as an attempt to provide an explanation of the truths of arithmetic, but in the course of this attempt he not only founded modern logic but also had to address fundamental questions in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Frege is generally seen (along with Russell and Wittgenstein) as one of the fathers of the (...) analytic method, which dominated philosophy in English-speaking countries for most of the twentieth century. His work is studied today not just for its historical importance but also because many of his ideas are still seen as relevant to current debates in the philosophies of logic, language, mathematics and the mind. The Cambridge Companion to Frege provides a route into this lively area of research. (shrink)
I argue against the assumption that the influence of non-cognitive values must lead to bad science, opening the way for the thesis that non-cognitive values are compatible with good science. This, in turn, allows us to answer feminist questions, principally, How do gender politics influence science? without (1) having to reject the question a priori because theories of science assume that political values cannot influence good scientific work and (2) having made a case for the influence of gender politics upon (...) a particular bit of scientific work, being put into the ludicrous position of saying that it is bad science after all, even though the relevant community of scientists say it is good. Nevertheless, moral and political neutrality is held to be a norm of good science and a tacit metaphilosophical norm governing good philosophy of science, viz., a good philosophy of science reveals and analyzes the morally and politically neutral production of good science. This metaphilosophical norm insures that the philosophy of science (1) is blind to the influence of non-cognitive values on good science if and when these are present and so (2) acquiesces in the moral or political arrangements supported by the science in question. (shrink)
We are thankful for the opportunity to reflect more on the difficult problem of the relationship between moral evaluations and the construct of personality disorders in response to the commentaries by Mike Martin and Louis Charland. We begin by emphasizing to readers that this important problem is complicated by the different perspectives of the various disciplines involved, especially, philosophy, psychiatry, and psychology. Incredulity, anger, and dismay are among the reactions we encountered in discussions of these issues, especially with some mental (...) health professionals. Strong reactions on either side of a disciplinary divide occasionally present barriers to a dispassionate discussion of the topic. .. (shrink)
This article combines the disciplines of textual/linguistic analysis, anthropology, and perceptual psychology to examine selected ancient Jewish mystical texts that claim to describe the praxis for ascents into heaven and encounters with angelic spirits in order to reconstruct the psychosocial context of these literary works. Specifically, the article examines Hekhalot or "Divine Palaces" texts that deal with hydromancy, giving attention to their mythic–symbolic assumptions, their described preparatory and triggering rituals, and their accounts of the ASC (altered states of consciousness) visions (...) resulting from these rituals that are experienced by the practitioners. The article suggests that these accounts correlate with ASC practices identified in the literature and additionally suggests that although the mystical texts are written to resemble biblical accounts of revelatory experiences, the texts under consideration are more than works of fabulous imagination; they are literary artifacts of an actual ecstatic ASC praxis among the Jews of Late Antiquity. (shrink)
This paper examines the principle of creation ex nihilo as formulated by St. Augustine and contrasts it with the common-sense principle that “something cannot come from nothing.” It is argued that these two principles, if suitably interpreted, are logically consistent and a creation scenario is described in which their compatibility is demonstrated.
The aim of the present research was to develop a difficulty model for logical reasoning problems involving complex ordered arrays used in the Graduate Record Examination. The approach used involved breaking down the problems into their basic cognitive elements such as the complexity of the rules used, the number of mental models required to represent the problem, and question type. Weightings for these different elements were derived from two experimental studies and from the reasoning literature. Based on these weights, difficulty (...) models were developed which were then tested against new data. The models had excellent predictive validity and showed the relative influence of rule based factors and factors relating to the number of underlying models. Different difficulty models were needed for different question types, suggesting that people used a variety of approaches and, at a wider level, that both mental models and mental rules may be used in reasoning. (shrink)