At the end of the essay “Silhouettes” in Either/Or , Kierkegaard writes, “only the person who has been bitten by snakes knows what one who has been bitten by snakes must suffer.” I interpret this as an allusion to Alcibiades' speech in Plato's Symposium. Kierkegaard invites the reader to compare Socrates to Don Giovanni, and Alcibiades to the seduced women. Socrates' philosophical method, in this light, is a deceptive seduction: just as Don Giovanni's seduction leads his conquests to unhappy love—what (...) Kierkegaard terms “reflective sorrow”—so the elenctic method leads Socrates' interlocutors to aporia, not to knowledge. I offer a critique of Socratic irony, a stance reflected in the theory of love Socrates presents in the Symposium, and suggest that philosophy should instead be modeled on Alcibiades' and the Silhouettes' approach to love. (shrink)
Although we find the idea of representation by similarities attractive as such, we have two main objections to the specific proposal of Edelman. First, he does not consider complexity issues in terms of storage and speed of recall for recognition. Related to this, the appearance of objects depends on far more factors than just shape, illumination, and pose. This requires an intermediate shape abstraction process that extracts category-specific shape properties from the mixed appearance of images.
An Internet persona known as "Erik" reviewed those aspects of my book No Free Lunch dealing with the Law of Conservation of Information and specificational resources. Erik's review is titled "On Dembski's Law of Conservation of Information" and is available at http://www.talkreason.org/articles/dembski_LCI.pdf. I respond to the review here.
Material kept in the National Library of Finland shows that from 1963 until 1969 Erik Stenius (1911–1990) worked on a book on antinomies , having been invited by the Dutch logician Evert Beth (1908–1964) to contribute a monograph to the North-Holland series Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics . The book was never published, but the manuscript has been found, and it is the purpose of this note to report on this finding.
In my response to Kevin Carnahan, I explain the concept of religion that I have been working with in my writings on the place of religious reasons in public political discourse. While acknowledging that religion is often privatized, my concern has been with religion as a way of life. It is religion so understood that raises the most serious issues concerning the role of religion in public discourse. In my response to Erik A. Anderson, I go beyond what I (...) have previously said about the role of religious reasons in public discourse. As an alternative to Rawlsian public reason, I argue that the essence of liberal democracy is that every citizen is to have equal political voice. I go on to consider what it is to exercise one’s equal political voice as a moral engagement. (shrink)
I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally responsible for the (...) good. I argue that the best theory of the meaning of life should clearly distinguish between subjective fulfillment and objective meaningfulness. The GCA respects the distinction. And it is superior to its leading rivals in the recent literature, most notably those of Erik Wielenberg and Susan Wolf. (shrink)
I argue that, contrary to the recent claims of physicists and philosophers of physics, general relativity requires no interpretation in any substantive sense of the term. I canvass the common reasons given in favor of the alleged need for an interpretation, including the difficulty in coming to grips with the physical significance of diffeomorphism invariance and of singular structure, and the problems faced in the search for a theory of quantum gravity. I find that none of them shows any defect (...) in our comprehension of general relativity as a physical theory. I conclude by comparing general relativity with quantum mechanics, a theory that manifestly does stand in need of an interpretation in an important sense. Although many aspects of the conceptual structure of general relativity remain poorly understood, it suffers no incoherence in its formulation as a physical theory that only an ‘interpretation’ could resolve. *Received November 2007; revised February 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 817 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e‐mail: email@example.com . When science starts to be interpretive it is more unscientific even than mysticism. (D. H. Lawrence, “Self‐Protection”). (shrink)
John Broome has argued that alleged cases of value incomparability are really examples of vagueness in the betterness relation. The main premiss of his argument is ‘the collapsing principle’. I argue that this principle is dubious, and that Broome's argument is therefore unconvincing. Correspondence:c1 Erik.Carlson@filosofi.uu.se.
It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) presents a plausible theory of the meaning of life: One's life is meaningful to the extent that it promotes the good. Although this theory is credible, the movie suggests a problematic refinement in the Pottersville sequence. George's waking nightmare asks us to compare the actual world with a world where he did not exist. It tells us that we are only responsible for the good that would not exist had we not existed. I argue (...) that this is a bad test. It fails when there are redundant causes. (shrink)
It is tempting to think that, if a person's beliefs are coherent, they are also likely to be true. This truth conduciveness claim is the cornerstone of the popular coherence theory of knowledge and justification. Erik Olsson's new book is the most extensive and detailed study of coherence and probable truth to date. Setting new standards of precision and clarity, Olsson argues that the value of coherence has been widely overestimated. Provocative and readable, Against Coherence will make stimulating reading (...) for epistemologists and anyone with a serious interest in truth. (shrink)
Abstract Our growing demand for meat and dairy food products is unsustainable. It is hard to imagine that this global issue can be solved solely by more efficient technologies. Lowering our meat consumption seems inescapable. Yet, the question is whether modern consumers can be considered as reliable allies to achieve this shift in meat consumption pattern. Is there not a yawning gap between our responsible intentions as citizens and our hedonic desires as consumers? We will argue that consumers can and (...) should be considered as partners that must be involved in realizing new ways of protein consumption that contribute to a more sustainable world. In particular the large food consumer group of flexitarians offer promising opportunities for transforming our meat consumption patterns. We propose a pragmatic approach that explicitly goes beyond the standard suggestion of persuasion strategies and suggests different routes of change, coined sustainability by stealth, moderate involvement, and cultural change respectively. The recognition of more routes of change to a more plant-based diet implies that the ethical debate on meat should not only associate consumer change with rational persuasion strategies and food citizens that instantiate “strong” sustainable consumption. Such a focus narrows the debate on sustainable protein consumption and easily results in disappointment about consumers’ participation. A more wide-ranging concept of ethical consumption can leave the negative verdict behind that consumers are mainly an obstacle for sustainability and lead to a more optimistic view on modern consumers as allies and agents of change. Content Type Journal Article Category Articles Pages 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9345-z Authors Erik de Bakker, LEI Wageningen UR (Agricultural Economics Research Institute), P.O. Box 29703, 2505 LS The Hague, The Netherlands Hans Dagevos, LEI Wageningen UR (Agricultural Economics Research Institute), P.O. Box 29703, 2505 LS The Hague, The Netherlands Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863. (shrink)
Perspectives on global warming Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 1-29 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9639-9 Authors Steven Yearley, ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ UK David Mercer, Science and Technology Studies Program, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia Andy Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia Naomi Oreskes, Department of History, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0104, USA Erik Conway, (...) Caltech, 1200 East California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
[Wilfrid Hodges] During the last forty or so years it has become popular to offer explanations of logical notions in terms of games. There is no doubt that many people find games helpful for understanding various logical phenomena. But we ask whether anything is really 'explained' by these accounts, and we analyse Paul Lorenzen's dialogue foundations for constructive logic as an example. The conclusion is that the value of games lies in their ability to provide helpful metaphors and representations, rather (...) than in any true conceptual analysis. In fact some of the standard explanations of logical notions in terms of competitive games simply don't work. /// [Erik C. W. Krabbe] In an attempt to redeem the Lorenzen-type dialogues from their detractors, it is perhaps best first to provide a survey of the various benefits these dialogues have been supposed to yield. This will be done in Section I. It will not be possible, within the confines of this paper, to scrutinize them all, but in Section II we shall delve deeper into the capacity of this type of dialogue to yield a model for the immanent criticism of philosophical positions. Section III will extend the concept of a dialogue in such a way as to conform better with our intuitive conceptions of what a rational discussion of a position should contain. This will be followed up by a concept of 'winning a dialogue' that takes position midway between the old conception of 'winning one play' and that of the full-fledged presentation of a winning strategy (a proof). Concepts of 'rational discussion' are thus shown to be, plausibly, more fundamental than those of proof. In Section IV, I shall discuss the specific problems about dialogical foundations put forward by Wilfrid Hodges. (shrink)
Since constitutional arrangements are what make politics work, they are a central concern of political theory._This book, now completely updated, is the first comprehensive exploration of the political theory of constitutions. Jan-Erik Lane begins by examining the origins and history of constitutionalism and answers key questions such as: What is a constitution? Why are there constitutions? From where does constitutionalism originate? How is the constitutional state related to democracy and justice? Constitutions play a major role in domestic and international (...) politics in the early 21st century and an updated version of this classic textbook will introduce students to a number of different areas -- theoretical, empirical, and moral -- which will aid their understanding of this important topic. (shrink)
Neutral monism is a position in metaphysics defended by Mach, James, and Russell in the early twentieth century. It holds that minds and physical objects are essentially two different orderings of the same underlying neutral elements of nature. This paper sets out some of the central concepts, theses and the historical background of ideas that inform this doctrine of elements. The discussion begins with the classic neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell in the first part of the paper, then (...) considers recent neo-Russellian versions in the second half. The chances for a revival of neutral monism are probably slight; its key ideas and starting points lie far from those in contemporary philosophy of mind. A better route might be through the philosophy of science and a deeper understanding of causation. (shrink)
I examine the central atheistic argument of Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion (“Dawkins’s Gambit”) and illustrate its failure. I further show that Dawkins’s Gambit is a fragment of a more comprehensive critique of theism found in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Among the failings of Dawkins’s Gambit is that it is directed against a version of the God Hypothesis that few traditional monotheists hold. Hume’s critique is more challenging in that it targets versions of the God Hypothesis that (...) are central to traditional monotheism. Theists and atheists should put away The God Delusion and pick up Hume’s Dialogues. (shrink)
In her recent, provocative essay “What Is the Point of Equality?”, Elizabeth Anderson argues against a common ideal of egalitarian justice that she calls “luck egalitarianism” and in favor of an approach she calls “democratic equality.”1 According to the luck egalitarian, the aim of justice as equality is to eliminate so far as is possible the impact on people’s lives of bad luck that falls on them through no fault or choice of their own. In the ideal luck egalitarian society, (...) there are no inequalities in people’s life prospects except those that arise through processes of voluntary choice or faulty conduct, for which the agents involved can reasonably be held responsible. Anderson asserts that the adherents of luck egalitarianism, which can be elaborated in many different ways, include John Roemer, Erik Rakowski, Thomas Nagel, Ronald Dworkin, Gerald Cohen, Richard Arneson, and (with a qualification) Philippe Van Parijs.2 In contrast, according to the democratic equality conception, justice as equality requires an end to oppressive social relationships. In the ideal society of democratic equality, the social conditions of everyone’s freedom are secured, each stands to every other in a relationship of fundamental equality, including equal respect, and all have real freedom to participate in democratic self-government. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunkers of morality hold this thesis: If S’s moral belief that P can be given an evolutionary explanation, then S’s moral belief that P is not knowledge. In this paper, I debunk a variety of arguments for this thesis. I first sketch a possible evolutionary explanation for some human moral beliefs. Next, I explain how, given a reliabilist approach to warrant, my account implies that humans possess moral knowledge. Finally, I examine the debunking arguments of Michael Ruse, Sharon Street, (...) and Richard Joyce. I draw on the account of moral knowledge sketched earlier to illustrate how these arguments fail. -/- . (shrink)
This paper proposes a form of Russellian enhanced physicalism which complements standard physicalism by retaining all of the structure of physics while making room for sensory phenomenology. Features of enhanced physicalism include: attention to the concrete instantiations of physical properties; articulation of a posteriori physicalism; articulation of macro-causation among large and complex shaped configurations of neurons, instantiated by sensations; and strong denials of a priori physicalism, panpsychism, and epiphenomenalism.
Many believe that objective morality requires a theistic foundation. I maintain that there are sui generis objective ethical facts that do not reduce to natural or supernatural facts. On my view, objective morality does not require an external foundation of any kind. After explaining my view, I defend it against a variety of objections posed by William Wainwright, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland.
Within philosophy there is not yet an integrative account of unreflective skillful action. As a starting point, contributions would be required from philosophers from both the analytic and continental traditions. Starting from the McDowell-Dreyfus debate, shared Aristotelian-Wittgensteinian common ground is identified. McDowell and Dreyfus agree about the importance of embodied skills, situation-specific discernment and responsiveness to relevant affordances. This sheds light on the embodied and situated nature of adequate unreflective action and provides a starting point for the development of an (...) account that does justice to insights from both philosophical traditions. (shrink)
In everyday life we often act adequately, yet without deliberation. For instance, we immediately obtain and maintain an appropriate distance from others in an elevator. The notion of normativity implied here is a very basic one, namely distinguishing adequate from inadequate, correct from incorrect, or better from worse in the context of a particular situation. In the ﬁrst part of this paper I investigate such ‘situated normativity’ by focusing on unreﬂective expert action. More particularly, I use Wittgenstein’s examples of craftsmen (...) (tailors and architects) absorbed in action to introduce situated normativity. Situated normativity can be understood as the normative aspect of embodied cognition in unreﬂective skillful action. I develop Wittgenstein’s insight that a peculiar type of aﬀective behaviour, ‘directed discontent’, is essential for getting things right without reﬂection. Directed discontent is a reaction of appreciation in action and is introduced as a paradigmatic expression of situated normativity. In the second part I discuss Wittgenstein’s ideas on the normativity of what he calls ‘blind’ rule-following and the ‘bedrock’ of immediate action. What matters for understanding the normativity of (even ‘blind’) rule-following, is not that one has the capacity for linguistic articulation or reﬂection but that one is reliably participating in a communal custom. In the third part I further investigate the complex relationships between unreﬂective skillful action, perception, emotion, and normativity. Part of this entails an account of the link between normativity at the level of the expert’s socio-cultural practice and the individual’s situated and lived normativity. (shrink)