The current interest in bioregionalism, stimulated in part by Kirkpatrick Sale’s Dwellers in the Land, shows that people are looking for a form of political praxis which addresses the importance of region. In this paper, I argue that much of the bioregional literature written to date mystifies the concept of region, discounting the role of subjectivity and culture in shaping regional boundaries and veers toward asimplistic view of “nature knows best.” Bioregionalism can be rehabilitated, provided we treat it not as (...) a “revealed wisdom” for the reconstruction of human society, but as a sensibility and environmental ethic that can infuse our work even as we make use of the functional regionalisms that increasingly shape people’s consciousness. I conclude by citing Lewis Mumford’s concept of a region as capturing the dialectical interplay of natural and cultural elements. (shrink)
This study examined the performance of 41 patients with focal prefrontal cortical lesions and 38 healthy controls on a task-switching procedure. Three different conditions were evaluated: single tasks without switches and two switching tasks with the currently relevant task signalled either 1500 ms (Long Cue) or 200 ms (Short Cue) before the stimulus. Patients with Superior Medial lesions showed both a general slowing of reaction time (RT) and a signifi cantly increased switch cost as measured by RT. No other prefrontal (...) group showed this increased reaction time switch cost. Increased error rates in the switching conditions, on the other hand, were observed in patients with Inferior Medial lesions and, to a lesser extent, ones with Superior Medial lesions. Patients with left dorsolateral lesions (9/46v) showed slower learning of the task as indicated by a high error rate early on. Several different processes are involved in task-switching and these are selectively disrupted by lesions to specifi c areas of the frontal lobes. (shrink)
In his recent article, ‘Lottery puzzles and Jesus’ return’, Donald Smith says that Christians should accept a very robust scepticism about the future because a Christian ought to think that the probability of Jesus’ return happening at any future moment is inscrutable to her. But I think that Smith’s argument lacks the power rationally to persuade Christians who are antecedently uncommitted as to whether or not we can or do have any substantive knowledge about the future. Moreover, I think (...) that Christians who are so antecedently uncommitted have available objections they can reasonably press against Smith’s arguments. In the article, I attempt to bring out these objections. (shrink)
Given W.V. Quine’s and Donald Davidson’s extensive agreement about much of the philosophy of language and mind, and the obvious methodological parallels between Quine’s radical translation and Davidson’s radical interpretation, many—including Quine and Davidson—are puzzled by their occasional disagreements. I argue for the importance of attending to these disagreements, not just because doing so deepens our understanding of these influential thinkers, but because they are in fact the shadows thrown from two distinct conceptions of philosophical inquiry: Quine’s “naturalism” and (...) what I call Davidson’s “humanism.” The clash between Quine and Davidson thus provides valuable insight into the history of analytic naturalism and its malcontents. (shrink)
The work of Donald Davidson (1917-2003) transformed the study of meaning. Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on Davidson's work, present the definitive study of his widely admired and influential program of truth-theoretic semantics for natural languages, giving an exposition and critical examination of its foundations and applications.
ABSTRACT: Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentaries on Aristotle’s Organon are valuable sources for both Stoic and early Peripatetic logic, and have often been used as such – in particular for early Peripatetic hypothetical syllogistic and Stoic propositional logic. By contrast, this paper explores the role Alexander himself played in the development and transmission of those theories. There are three areas in particular where he seems to have made a difference: First, he drew a connection between certain passages from Aristotle’s (...) Topics and Prior Analytics and the Stoic indemonstrable arguments, and, based on this connection, appropriated at least four kinds of Stoic indemonstrables as Aristotelian. Second, he developed and made use of a specifically Peripatetic terminology in which to describe and discuss those arguments – which facilitated the integration of the indemonstrables into Peripatetic logic. Third, he made some progress towards a solution to the problem of what place and interpretation the Stoic third indemonstrables should be given in a Peripatetic and Platonist setting. Overall, the picture emerges that Alexander persistently (if not always consistently) presented passages from Aristotle’s logical œuvre in a light that makes it appear as if Aristotle was in the possession of a Peripatetic correlate to the Stoic theory of indemonstrables. (shrink)
Donald Davidson’s epistemology is predicated on, among other things, the rejection of Experiential Foundationalism, which he calls ‘unintelligible’. In this essay, I assess Davidson’s arguments for this conclusion. I conclude that each of them fails on the basis of reasons that foundationalists and antifoundationalists alike can, and should, accept.
Over the last forty years, Donald Davidson has been one of the most influential, but least accessible voices in philosophy. There are several reasons why it is hard to come to grips with his work. First, his language is dense, even by the standards of analytic philosophy; while at the same time his thought is highly organic, so that it is difficult to make sense of one idea without an understanding of his whole program. Davidson never attempted to write (...) a book that would provide an easy entry into the interconnections between his many influential and controversial views. Nor did he attempt to record the evolution of his thought, keeping track of how reconsiderations on one point would affect the tenability of the others. It is perhaps a good thing too, for as the volume to be reviewed here makes clear, such a massive project would have left him with little time for his later contributions to philosophy. (shrink)
Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson (1917-2003). Davidson's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century.
According to Alexander of Aphrodisias, our potential intellect is a purely receptive capacity. Alexander also claims that, in order for us to actualise our intellectual potentiality, the intellect needs to abstract what is intelligible from enmattered perceptible objects. Now a problem emerges: How is it possible for a purely receptive capacity to perform such an abstraction? It will be argued that even though Alexander's reaction to this question causes some tension in his theory, the philosophical motivation for (...) it is a sound one. Rather than a calculation of actualities and potentialities, the doctrine of receptivity is supposed to explain how human beings come to grasp universal aspects of reality in an accurate manner. (shrink)
Group selection is increasingly being viewed as an important force in human evolution. This paper examines the views of R.D. Alexander, one of the most influential thinkers about human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, on the subject of group selection. Alexander's general conception of evolution is based on the gene-centered approach of G.C. Williams, but he has also emphasized a potential role for group selection in the evolution of individual genomes and in human evolution. Alexander's views are (...) internally inconsistent and underestimate the importance of group selection. Specific themes that Alexander has developed in his account of human evolution are important but are best understood within the framework of multilevel selection theory. From this perspective, Alexander's views on moral systems are not the radical departure from conventional views that he claims, but remain radical in another way more compatible with conventional views. (shrink)
A Companion to Donald Davidson presents newly commissioned essays by leading figures within contemporary philosophy. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive overview of Davidson’s work across its full range, and an assessment of his many contributions to philosophy.
ABSTRACT: English translation of the 2nd/3rd century Peripatetic Philosopher's Alexander of Aphrodisias commentary on Aristotle's non-modal syllogistic, i.e. on one of the most influential logical texts of all times. -/- Volume includes introduction on Alexander of Aphrodisias and the early commentators, translation with notes and comments, appendices with a new translation of Aristotle's text, a summary of Aristotle's non-modal syllogistic and textual notes.
Why an emergentist account of subjectivity? On the one hand, emergentism provides a new paradigm to rethink subjectivity beyond any dualism. At the same time, the issue of subjectivity puts a strain on emergentism itself, and pushes it beyond its limits. To show it, in the present paper I address a fundamental question: How can we describe subjectivity from an emergentist perspective? To answer, I will tackle Samuel Alexander’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s emergentist accounts of subjectivity. Alexander locates (...) subjectivity into a consistent emergentist framework, but his model of subjectivity remains grounded in the classical interpretation of subjectivity as mind. Whitehead gives a more innovative model of subjectivity, which implies a radical revision of its temporality and connection to the world, but this leads him beyond emergentism as a whole. (shrink)
Experimental radiobiology represented a long-standing priority for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), but organizational issues initially impeded the laboratory progress of this government-funded work: who would direct such interdisciplinary investigations and how? And should the AEC support basic research or only mission-oriented projects? Alexander Hollaender's vision for biology in the post-war world guided AEC initiatives at Oak Ridge, where he created and presided over the Division of Biology for nearly two decades (1947-1966). Hollaender's scheme, at once entrepreneurial and (...) system-oriented, made good use of the unique resources provided by the AEC and by Oak Ridge's national laboratory setting, while at the same time it restructured wartime research practices to better reflect biologists' own priorities. Because Hollaender offered many academic experimental biologists a way of envisioning military-related patronage as integral - rather than antithetical - to their professional identities, his work provides an important lens through which to examine the early post-war intellectual and institutional development of radiobiology. (shrink)
Problems of Rationality is divided into three parts. The first four essays defend the claim that judgments of value are objectively true. The next six expound what Davidson called "a unified theory of thought, meaning, and action". The last four discuss the problems that weakness of will and self-deception raise for Davidson's claim that ascription of intention and belief is possible only if we assume the agent's rationality. I shall discuss the three parts in sequence.
The book is an “introductory” reconstruction of Davidson on interpretation —a claim to be taken with a grain of salt. Writing introductory books has become an idol of the tribe. This is a concise book and reflects much study. It has many virtues along with some flaws. Ramberg assembles themes and puzzles from Davidson into a more or less coherent viewpoint. A special virtue is the innovative treatment of incommensurability and of the relation of Davidson’s work to hermeneutic themes. The (...) weakness comes in a certain unevenness. While generally convincing and well written, the book has low points which may leave the reader confused or unconvinced. Davidson is the hero in this book, and our hero is sometimes over idealized. (shrink)
Tracing the background of Davidson’s work in the positivists’ philosophical emigration of the 30’s and in Quine, Evnine’s “Introduction” offers a “map of the terrain to be covered” which stresses the “rationalistic” character of Davidson’s views on holism and rationality. Thus, “his main philosophical concerns ... language, the mental and action...are the ingredients of a philosophical anthropology.” In spite of Quinean roots, the view is that “Davidson has now wholly removed himself, philosophically speaking, from the empiricist tradition.” The result: a (...) “rationalism,...a genuine, non-empiricist philosophical vision.” Though appealing to those of a “rationalist” leaning, this theme seems to generalize Davidson’s criticisms of Quine’s behaviorism as a lapse from empiricism. Often, it arises from interpretive gloss just where the tough-minded reader seeks quotation. (shrink)
This volume contains the Arabic translations of a lost treatise by Alexander of Aphrodisias (c. AD 200) "On the Principles of the Universe" with English translation, introduction and commentary. It also includes an Arabic and Syriac glossary. The introduction and commentary deal in detail with the manuscripts, the translators and the exegetical tendencies of the text, as well as with its reception in Arabic philosophy. The main theme of the work is the motion of the heavenly bodies and their (...) influence on the physical world. (shrink)
Summary The publication in 1906 of Alexander Smith's Introduction to general inorganic chemistry inaugurated a decisive change in chemical pedagogy in the US, the effects of which are still evident. The nature and extent of Smith's innovations are described through a comparison of his text to its source material and contemporaries. His authoritative command of and whole-hearted commitment to the intellectual framework of Ionist physical chemistry set his text apart from its American competitors, while his efforts to make the (...) tools of physical chemistry immediately useful to his readers distinguished it from its most immediate source material, Wilhelm Ostwald's Grundlinien der anorganischen Chemie. Smith's curricular innovations in chemistry were a practical expression of his radically restrictive view of the social role of collegiate education, which he conceived as solely of use for its ability to prepare students for professional life. During the fifteen years prior to the publication of his groundbreaking textbook, Smith underwent two critical, formative experiences. First, he retreated intellectually from the structural organic chemistry in which he was trained, ultimately adopting a professional identity as a physical inorganic chemist. His involvement in the controversy regarding the structure of 1,3-diketones reveals much about his reasons for eventually abandoning organic chemistry. Second, he served the National Education Association as chairman of the Sub-committee on College Entrance Requirements in Chemistry, in the process making a close study of the ends and methods of secondary and collegiate education. These experiences made him unique among proponents of physical chemistry in the US, and help account for the unique nature of his contributions to the development of the chemical professions. (shrink)
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
“Ex nihilo nihil fit,” goes the classic adage: nothing comes from nothing. Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Nothing happens in vain, but everything for a reason and under necessitation,” claimed Leucippus. Saint Thomas insisted in the..
Alexander James Dallas' An Exposition of the Causes and Character of the War was written as part of an effort by the then US government to explain and justify its declaration of war in 1812. However publication coincided with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War. The Exposition is especially interesting for the insight it provides into the self-constraint of American foreign policy and of the conduct of a war. The focus is on the foreign (...) policy of the early republic and the related philosophy of law and war. A central idea is that international law should chiefly benefit those remaining at peace. -/- Dallas was a Philadelphian who settled there in 1783, the year of the Peace of Paris which ended the War of Independence, arriving from Jamaica after a British education. He wrote much on law, becoming the first recorder of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He later served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and federal district attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, appointed by President Jefferson. He was appointed Secretary of Treasury by President Madison. -/- In this edition the original text is presented with annotations to help identify persons and events of interest. The editor has also added an Introduction, a Bibliography, a short Chronology of Dallas' life and the events of the War, and an analytical Index. As such this annotated edition presents a key primary source in a manner helpful to research for students of the early Republic. (shrink)
When Alexander Nehamas’s path-breaking, elegantly conceived and executed book, Nietzsche: Life as Literature, first appeared in 1985, the reception of Nietzsche in the Anglo-American philosophical community was still in its initial, hesitant stages, even after the relative success of Walter Kauffmann’s much earlier, 1950 book, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ, and its postwar “decontamination” of Nietzsche after his appropriation by the Nazis.1 Arthur Danto’s 1964 book, Nietzsche as Philosopher, was also an important if somewhat isolated event, and there finally began (...) to appear in the seventies less well known but high quality secondary literature, like John Wilcox’s 1974 book, Truth and Value in Nietzsche, and Tracy Strong’s 1975 book on Nietzsche and politics, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration. And when the Routledge “Arguments of the Philosophers” series brought out Richard Schacht’s lengthy 1983 book Nietzsche, the idea that Nietzsche, whatever else he was doing in his books, was making philosophical claims and devising ways to defend them, was becoming more firmly established. Many of the most successful aspects of Nehamas’s interpretation (essentially Part One of the book) spoke to what was still the early resistance to any philosophical attention to Nietzsche: the facile insistence that his “persepectivism” was a self-refuting relativism, that his attack on truth and the value of.. (shrink)
Samuel Alexander was one of the foremost philosophical figures of his day and has been argued by John Passmore to be one of ‘fathers’ of Australian philosophy as well as a novel kind of physicalist. Yet Alexander is now relatively neglected, his role in the genesis of Australian philosophy if far from widely accepted and the standard interpretation takes him to be an anti-physicalist. In this paper, I carefully examine these issues and show that Alexander has been (...) badly, although understandably, misjudged by most of his contemporary critics and interpreters. Most importantly, I show that Alexander offers an ingenious, and highly original, version of physicalism at the heart of which is a strikingly different view of the nature of the microphysical properties and associated view of emergent properties. My final conclusion will be that Passmore is correct in his claims both that Alexander is significant as one of the grandfather’s of Australian philosophy and that he provides a novel physicalist position. I will also suggest that Alexander’s emergentism is important for addressing the so-called ‘problem of mental causation’ presently dogging contemporary non-reductive physicalists. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's theory of mind is widely regarded as a normative theory. This is a something of a confusion. Once a distinction has been made between the categorisation scheme of a norm and the norm's force-maker, it becomes clear that a Davidsonian theory of mind is not a normative theory after all. Making clear the distinction, applying it to Davidson's theory of mind, and showing its significance are the main purposes of this paper. In the concluding paragraphs, a sketch (...) is given of how a truly normative Davidsonian theory of mind might be formulated. (shrink)
Donald Davidson is unquestionably one of America's greatest living philosophers. His influence on Anglo-American philosophy over the last twenty years has been enormous, and his work is an unavoidable reference point in current debates in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. This book offers a systematic and accessible introduction to Davidson's work. Evnine begins by discussing Davidson's contribution to the philosophy of mind, including his views on action, events and causation. He then examines Davidson's work in (...) the philosophy of language. The link between meaning and truth, radical interpretation, and semantic holism are considered in detail. The final chapters deal with the metaphysical aspects of Davidson's work and seek to assess his philosophical project as a whole. (shrink)