We typically assume that the standard for what is beautiful lies in the eye of the beholder. Yet this is not the case when we consider morality; what we deem morally good is not usually a matter of opinion. Such thoughts push us toward being realists about moral properties, but a cogent theory of moral realism has long been an elusive philosophical goal. Paul Bloomfield here offers a rigorous defense of moral realism, developing an ontology for morality that models (...) the property of being morally good on the property of being physically healthy. The model is assembled systematically; it first presents the metaphysics of healthiness and goodness, then explains our epistemic access to properties such as these, adds a complementary analysis of the semantics and syntax of moral discourse, and finishes with a discussion of how we become motivated to act morally. Bloomfield closely attends to the traditional challenges facing moral realism, and the discussion nimbly ranges from modern medical theory to ancient theories of virtue, and from animal navigation to the nature of normativity. Maintaining a highly readable style throughout, Moral Reality yields one of the most compelling theories of moral realism to date and will appeal to philosophers working on issues in metaphysics or moral philosophy. (shrink)
The two dogmas at issue are the Humean dogma that “‘is’ statements do not imply ‘ought’ statements” and the Kantian dogma that “‘ought’ statements imply ‘can’” statements. The extant literature concludes these logically contradict each other. On the contrary, it is argued here that while there is no derivable formal contradiction, the juxtaposition of the dogmas manifests a philosophical disagreement over how to understand the logic of prescriptions. This disagreement bears on how to understand current metaethical debate between (...) realists and non-realists about morality in a way not heretofore investigated. The conclusion is that realists have the resources to account for both dogmas, while non-realists, if they strictly adhere to the “is”/“ought” gap, cannot give an adequate account of why “ought” implies “can”. (shrink)
Ethics position theory (EPT) maintains that individuals’ personal moral philosophies influence their judgments, actions, and emotions in ethically intense situations. The theory, when describing these moral viewpoints, stresses two dimensions: idealism (concern for benign outcomes) and relativism (skepticism with regards to inviolate moral principles). Variations in idealism and relativism across countries were examined via a meta-analysis of studies that assessed these two aspects of moral thought using the ethics position questionnaire (EPQ; Forsyth, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39 , (...) 175–184, 1980). This review identified 139 samples drawn from 29 different countries, for a total sample of 30,230 respondents, and concluded that (a) levels of idealism and relativism vary across regions of the world in predictable ways; (b) an exceptionist ethic is more common in Western countries, subjectivism and situationism in Eastern countries, and absolutism and situationism in Middle Eastern countries; and (c) a nation’s ethics position predicted that country’s location on previously documented cultural dimensions, such as individualism and avoidance of uncertainty (Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values , 1980). Limitations in these methods and concerns about the validity of these cross-cultural conclusions are noted, as are suggestions for further research using the EPQ. (shrink)
A central problem in moral theory is how it is to be defended against those who think that there is no harm in being immoral, and that immorality can be in one's self-interest, assuming the perpetrator is not caught and punished. The argument presented here defends the idea that being immoral prevents one from having self-respect. If it makes sense to think that one cannot be happy without self-respect, then the conclusion follows that one cannot be both immoral and happy. (...) Immorality is harmful because its self-disrespecting nature keeps immoralists from being happy. This is the harm of immorality. (shrink)
Kitcher and Aspray distinguish a mainstream tradition in the philosophy of mathematics concerned with foundationalist epistemology, and a ‘maverick’ or naturalistic tradition, originating with Lakatos. My claim is that if the consequences of Lakatos's contribution are fully worked out, no less than a radical reconceptualization of the philosophy of mathematics is necessitated, including history, methodology and a fallibilist epistemology as central to the field. In the paper an interpretation of Lakatos's philosophy of mathematics is offered, followed by some critical discussion, (...) and an extension to a social constructivist position (which might well have been unacceptable to Lakatos). (shrink)
Many experiments with infants suggest that they possess quantitative abilities, and many experimentalists believe that these abilities set the stage for later mathematics: natural numbers and arithmetic. However, the connection between these early and later skills is far from obvious. We evaluate two possible routes to mathematics and argue that neither is sufficient: (1) We first sketch what we think is the most likely model for infant abilities in this domain, and we examine proposals for extrapolating the natural number concept (...) from these beginnings. Proposals for arriving at natural number by (empirical) induction presuppose the mathematical concepts they seek to explain. Moreover, standard experimental tests for children's understanding of number terms do not necessarily tap these concepts. (2) True concepts of number do appear, however, when children are able to understand generalizations over all numbers; for example, the principle of additive commutativity (a+b=b+a). Theories of how children learn such principles usually rely on a process of mapping from physical object groupings. But both experimental results and theoretical considerations imply that direct mapping is insufficient for acquiring these principles. We suggest instead that children may arrive at natural numbers and arithmetic in a more top-down way, by constructing mathematical schemas. (shrink)
Mathematicians and physical scientists depend heavily on the formal symbolism of mathematics in order to express and develop their theories. For this and other reasons the last hundred years has seen a growing interest in the nature of formal language and the way it expresses meaning; particularly the objective, shared aspect of meaning as opposed to subjective, personal aspects. This dichotomy suggests the question: do the objective philosophical theories of meaning offer concepts which can be applied in psychological theories of (...) meaning? In recent years cognitive scientists such as Chomsky , Fodor  and MacNamara  have used philosophical approaches to the meaning of formal language expressions as the basis for their psychological theories. Following this lead it seems appropriate to review some of the main treatments of meaning with a view to their transferability. (shrink)
Miller's reply to Nelson misses the point because it does not attend to the difference between identifying the truth conditions for a proposition and explaining why those conditions are the ones in which the proposition is true.
For many, the very idea of an artificialintelligence has always been ethicallytroublesome. The putative ability of machinesto mimic human intelligence appears to callinto question the stability of taken forgranted boundaries between subject/object,identity/similarity, free will/determinism,reality/simulation, etc. The artificiallyintelligent object thus appears to threaten thehuman subject with displacement and redundancy.This article takes as its starting point AlanTuring''s famous ''imitation game,'' (the socalled ''Turing Test''), here treated as aparable of the encounter between human originaland machine copy – the born and the made. Thecultural (...) resonances of the recent on-lineperformance of a ''Turing Test'' for computergenerated art are then explored. Arttraditionally taken to stand for all that isconsidered quintessentially human – andtherefore resistant to mechanisation –represents in this sense a kind of ''criticalcase'' in the advance of machine intelligence.The article focuses on the moral status of thebody, human agency, and social knowledge in theongoing (re-)constructions of copy, original,and of the difference between them. (shrink)
Traditional theories of how children learn the positive integers start from infants' abilities in detecting the quantity of physical objects. Our target article examined this view and found no plausible accounts of such development. Most of our commentators appear to agree that no adequate developmental theory is presently available, but they attempt to hold onto a role for early enumeration. Although some defend the traditional theories, others introduce new basic quantitative abilities, new methods of transformation, or new types of end (...) states. A survey of these proposals, however, shows that they do not succeed in bridging the gap to knowledge of the integers. We suggest that a better theory depends on starting with primitives that are inherently structural and mathematical. (shrink)
We explored the relationship between qualities of victims in hypothetical scenarios and the appearance of framing effects. In past studies, participantsâ feelings about the victims have been demonstrated to affect whether framing effects appear, but this relationship has not been directly examined. In the present study, we examined the relationship between caring about the people at risk, the perceived interdependence of the people at risk, and frame. Scenarios were presented that differed in the degree to which participants could be expected (...) to care about the group and the extent to which the group could be construed as interdependent. A framing effect was found only for the scenario describing the victims as the participantsâ friends who did not know each other (high caring/low interdependence), and this went in the opposite direction from typical framing effects. Finally, perceived interdependence and caring affected choice both within and across scenarios, with more risky choices made by participants with high interdependence ratings and high caring ratings. (shrink)
The similarity of documents in a large database of published Fractals articles was examined for redundancy. Three different text matching techniques were used on published Abstracts to identify redundancy candidates, and predictions were verified by reading full text versions of the redundancy candidate articles. A small fraction of the total articles in the database was judged to be redundant. This was viewed as a lower limit, because it excluded cases where the concepts remained the same, but the text was altered (...) substantially. Far more pervasive than redundant publications were publications that did not violate the letter of redundancy but rather violated the spirit of redundancy. There appeared to be widespread publication maximization strategies. Studies that resulted in one comprehensive paper decades ago now result in multiple papers that focus on one major problem, but are differentiated by parameter ranges, or other stratifying variables. This ‘paper inflation’ is due in large part to the increasing use of metrics (publications, patents, citations, etc) to evaluate research performance, and the researchers’ motivation to maximize the metrics. (shrink)
Leading Harvard philosophy professor William Ernest Hocking (1873-1966), author of 17 books and in his day second only to John Dewey in the breadth of his thinking, is now largely forgotten, and his once-influential writings are out of print. This volume, which combines a rich selection of Hocking’s work with incisive essays by distinguished scholars, seeks to recover Hocking’s valuable contributions to philosophical thought.
A review of Ernest Sosa’s book Apt Belief and Reflective Knowledge. While I think Sosa is quite right that knowledge lies on a spectrum, and that its higher but not its lower reaches require of knowers, when challenged, a strong degree of explanatory coherence (ability to understand and discursively defend the basis of their beliefs), I also point out problems with certain aspects of his account.
This paper offers and analysis of Ernest Sosa's Virtue Perspectivism. Although Sosa has been credited with fathering the influential contemporary movement known as Virtue Epistemology, I argue that Sosa imprudently abandons the reliabilist-based insights of Virtue Epistemology in favor of a reflection-based, "perspectival"' view. Sosa's mixed allegiance to reliabilist-based and reflection-based views of knowledge, in fact, leads to an unwelcome tension in his thought which can be relieved by recognizing that his reflection-based view is in fact an account of (...) the cognitive state of understanding, rather than an account of knowledge. Sosa makes matters difficult for himself because he expects too much, as it were, from the concept of knowledge, and in the process burdens his view with elements of reflection it does not require. To solve the problem, I suggest that Sosa needs to develop a two-tiered epistemology which recognizes that knowledge, on the one hand, and understanding, on the other, both have necessary and sufficient conditions unique to themselves. (shrink)
It is well known that Ernest Gellner made substantial use of his knowledge of the social sciences in philosophy. Here I discuss how he used it on the basis of a few examples taken from Gellner’s philosophical output. It is argued that he made a number of highly original “translations”, orre-interpretations, of philosophical theories and problems using his knowledge of the social sciences. While this method is endorsed, it is also argued that some of Gellner’s translations crossed the line (...) between the original and the idiosyncratic. (shrink)
In this paper, I analyze the significance of Ernest Nagel's introduction of the notion of model in his reconstruction of scientific theories. Nagel's account is generally considered as a version of the "received view" of theories, whose main advocate is Carnap. However, I will show that Nagel's considerations on models imply a renunciation to the logical empiricists' project of the formalization of scientific theories. I will argue that Nagel implicitly acknowledges that, in order to study the content of theories, (...) one cannot abstract away from the agents' understanding of theories, and from the reasoning processes they perform when using them. (shrink)
Ernest Gellner was a unique scholar whose work covered areas as diverse as social anthropology, analytical philosophy, the sociology of the Islamic world, nationalism, psychoanalysis, East European transformations and kinship structures. Despite this diversity, there is an exceptional degree of unity and coherence in Gellner's work with his distinctly modernist, rationalist and liberal world-view evident in everything he wrote. His central problematic remains constant: understanding how the modern world came into being and to what extent it is unique relative (...) to all other social forms. Ten years after his death, this book brings together leading social theorists to evaluate the significance of Gellner's legacy and to re-examine his central concerns. It corrects many misunderstandings and critically engages with Gellner's legacy to provide a cutting edge contribution to understanding our contemporary post-9/11, global, late modern, social condition. (shrink)
The definition of 'Englishness' has become the subject of considerable debate, and in this important contribution tto Ideas in Context Julia Stapleton looks at the work of one of the most wide-ranging and influential theorists of the English nation, Ernest Barker. The first holder of the Chair of Political Science at Cambridge, Barker wrote prolifically on the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, and his writings are notable for fusing three of the dominant strands of late-nineteenth and (...) early-twentieth century political thought, Whiggism, Idealism and Pluralism. Infused with a strong cultural sense of nationhood, Barker's writings influenced a broad non-academic audience, and their subsequent neglect graphically demonstrates the fate of a certain vision of Liberal England in the generation after World War One. With, however, the erosion of a particular sense of Englishness, Barker's ideas have begun to assume renewed resonance. (shrink)
(2006). American Educational Studies Association, 2005 George Kneller Lecture: Second Generation Memory and the Phenomenological Structure of Intergenerational Remembrance in Ernest Gaines's Fictional Life-World. Educational Studies: Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 226-245.