: Simone de Beauvoir offers an important contribution to discourse on universal human rights. Her descriptive ontology of persons as free, interdependent, and sit-uated in a world that offers resistance brings the discussion of human rights to a new level that also converges with some African perspectives. I claim that Beauvoir is able to defend universal human rights and, moreover, justify moral action against human rights abuses by showing the existential priority of ontological freedom.
Introduction -- Socratic inspirations -- The importance of Descartes -- The human condition -- Relations with others and authentic existence -- Being for and against others -- The weight of Immanuel Kant -- Sartre's lasting legacy.
There has been much discussion concerning whether or not some of Sartre's views on morality may be understood as endorsing Kant's views. Perhaps the most controversial issue has been whether in various places in his corpus Sartre invokes Kant's “universalizability principle.” Indeed, Sartre's frequent use of Kantian language, including the idea of universalizability and “kingdom of ends,” strongly suggests that there is some appreciable convergence between his views and those of Kant. While it is true that Sartre borrows Kant's language (...) and expressions, he does not, I argue, use them in the same sense as Kant does. (shrink)
If mysticism, as Coventry Patmore defines it, is 'the science of ultimates,' in what way would mysticism explain the possibility of a profound relationship between ultimate reality as infinite and proximate reality as finite (Patmore 1895 , p. 39)? This paper attempts to address that question through the lens of Evelyn Underhillâ€™s philosophy of mysticism. The paper fundamentally works at framing two of Hegelâ€™s triadic patterns of dialectic against the being-becoming binary as engaged by Underhill. This application helps unveil (...) the relation of transcendence with immanence, a relation that is crucial for a structuring of the infinite-finite mystical intimacy. (shrink)
In this paper, I undertake an exploration of the similarities I find between the epistemological projects of John Dewey and Evelyn Fox Keller. These similarities, I suggest, warrant considering Dewey and Keller to share membership in an epistemological tradition, a tradition I label the "Coresponsible Option." In my examination, I focus on Dewey's and Keller's ontological assertion that we live in a world that is an inextricable mixture of certainty and chance, and on their resultant conception of inquiry as (...) a communal relationship. (shrink)
One of the seminal constructs in 20th-century biosemiotics is G. Evelyn Hutchinson's 'niche'. This notion opened up and unpacked cartesian space and time to recognize self-organizing roles in open, dynamical systems - in n-dimensional hyperspace. Perhaps equally valuable to biosemiotics is Hutchinson's inclusive approach to inquiry and his willingness to venture into abductive territory, which have reaped rewards for a range of disciplines beyond biology, from art to anthropology. Hutchinson assumed the fertility of inquiry flowing from open, far-from-equilibrium systems (...) to be characterized by 'fabricational noise', followingSeilacher, or 'order out of chaos', following Prigogine. Serendipitous 'noise' can self-organize into information at other levels, as does the 'noise' of Hutchinson's contributions themselves. (shrink)
Plato on Knowledge and Forms brings together a set of connected essays by Gail Fine, in her main area of research since the late 1970s: Plato's metaphysics and epistemology. She discusses central issues in Plato's metaphysics and epistemology, issues concerning the nature and extent of knowledge, and its relation to perception, sensibles, and forms; and issues concerning the nature of forms, such as whether they are universals or particulars, separate or immanent, and whether they are causes. A specially written (...) introduction draws together the themes of the volume, which will reward the attention of anyone interested in Plato or in ancient metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
The Peri ide^on (On Ideas) is the only work in which Aristotle systematically sets out and criticizes arguments for the existence of Platonic forms. Gail Fine presents the first full-length treatment in English of this important but neglected work. She asks how, and how well, Aristotle understands Plato's theory of forms, and why and with what justification he favors an alternative metaphysical scheme. She examines the significance of the Peri ide^on for some central questions about Plato's theory of forms--whether, (...) for example, there are forms corresponding to every property or only to some, and if only to some, then to which ones; whether forms are universals, particulars or both; and whether they are meanings, properties or both. Fine also provides a general discussion of Plato's theory of forms, and of our evidence about the Peri ide^on and its date, scope, and aims. While she pays careful attention to the details of the text, she also relates it to contemporary philosophical concerns. The book will be valuable for anyone interested in metaphysics ancient or modern. (shrink)
Scientists have shown that the practice of factory farming is an increasingly urgent danger to human health, the environment, and nonhuman animal welfare. For all these reasons, moral agents must consider alternatives. Vegetarian food production, humane food animal farming, and in-vitro meat production are all explored from a variety of ethical perspectives, especially utilitarian and rights-based viewpoints, all in the light of current U.S. and European initiatives in the public and private sectors. It is concluded that vegetarianism and potentially in-vitro (...) meat production are the best-justified options. (shrink)
Abstract: This essay explores the relation between feminist epistemology and the problem of philosophical skepticism. Even though feminist epistemology has not typically focused on skepticism as a problem, I argue that a feminist contextualist epistemology may solve many of the difficulties facing recent contextualist responses to skepticism. Philosophical skepticism appears to succeed in casting doubt on the very possibility of knowledge by shifting our attention to abnormal contexts. I argue that this shift in context constitutes an attempt to exercise unearned (...) social and epistemic power and that it should be resisted on epistemic and pragmatic grounds. I conclude that skepticism is a problem that feminists can and should take up as they address the social aspects of traditional epistemological problems. (shrink)
Two decades of critique have sensitized historians and philosophers of science to the inadequacies of conventional dichotomies between theory and practice, thereby prompting the search for new ways of writing about science that are less beholden than the old ways to the epistemological mores of theoretical physics, and more faithful to the actual practices not only of physics but of all the natural sciences. The need for alternative descriptions seems particularly urgent if one is to understand the place of theory (...) (and, in parallel, the role of modeling) in contemporary molecular biology, a science where, until now, no division between theory and experiment has obtained, and where distinctions between representing and intervening, and more generally, between basic and applied science, are daily becoming more blurred. Indeed, the very division between theory and experiment threatens to slight the extensive and sophisticated theoretical analyses (and even modeling) on which experimental work in contemporary molecular biology so often depends. My aim in this paper is to find a way of talking about theoretical practices in biology that is directly rooted in the mix of conceptual and material work that biologists do. As an example of such theoretical practices, I choose for the focus of my analysis the development of a model for gene regulation out of the experimental work of Eric Davidson and his colleagues at Cal Tech. (shrink)
At the end of Republic 5, Plato distinguishes epistêmê from doxa, knowledge from belief. In Posterior Analytics 1.33, Aristotle provides his own distinction between epistêmê and doxa. I explore his way of distinguishing them and compare it with Plato's.
The naïve see causal connections everywhere. Consider the fact that Evelyn Marie Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice. The naïve find it irresistible to think that this cannot be a coincidence. Maybe the lottery was rigged or perhaps some uncanny higher power placed its hand upon her brow. Sophisticates respond with an indulgent smile and ask the naïve to view Adams’ double win within a larger perspective. Given all the lotteries there have been, it isn’t at all surprising (...) that someone would win one of them twice. No need to invent conspiracy theories or invoke the paranormal – the double win was a mere coincidence. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that we humans are justified in exploiting animals because we are higher beings:persons who have highly complex, autonomous lives as moral agents. However, there are many marginal humans who are not and never will be persons. Those who think it is permissible to exploit animal nonpersons but wrong to do the same to human nonpersons must show that there is a morally relevant difference between the two groups. Speciesists, who believe that membership in a species whose (...) normal adults are persons is sufficient for a right to life, attempt to do just this. As the failure of the best arguments which can be marshalled on their behalf indicates, they are unable to justify their view. I conclude that, although there is a morally relevant difference between human nonpersons and most animal nonpersons, this difference is not an indication of superior moral status. We would do better to abandon speciesism and the assumption thatpersonhood is morally paramount for a view which implies that both human and nonhuman nonpersons are morally considerable and have a right to life. (shrink)
In most of the Socratic dialogues, Socrates professes to inquire into some virtue. At the same time, he professes not to know what the virtue in question is. How, then, can he inquire into it? Doesn't he need some knowledge to guide his inquiry? Socrates' disclaimer of knowledge seems to preclude Socratic inquiry. This difficulty must confront any reader of the Socratic dialogues; but one searches them in vain for any explicit statement of the problem or for any explicit solution (...) to it. The Meno, by contrast, both raises it explicitly and proposes a solution. (shrink)
The ethical theory underlying much of our treatment of animals in agriculture and research is the moral agency view. It is assumed that only moral agents, or persons, are worthy of maximal moral significance, and that farm and laboratory animals are not moral agents. However, this view also excludes human non-persons from the moral community. Utilitarianism, which bids us maximize the amount of good (utility) in the world, is an alternative ethical theory. Although it has many merits, including impartiality and (...) the extension of moral concern to all sentient beings, it also appears to have many morally unacceptable implications. In particular, it appears to sanction the killing of innocents when utility would be maximized, including cases in which we would deliberately kill and replace a being, as we typically do to animals on farms and in laboratories. I consider a number of ingenious recent attempts by utilitarians to defeat the killing and replaceability arguments, including the attempt to make a place for genuine moral rights within a utilitarian framework. I conclude that utilitarians cannot escape the killing and replaceability objections. Those who reject the restrictive moral agency view and find they cannot accept utilitarianism's unsavory implications must look to a different ethical theory to guide their treatment of humans and non-humans. (shrink)
The vegan ideal is entailed by arguments for ethical veganism based on traditional moral theory (rights and/or utilitarianism) extended to animals. The most ideal lifestyle would abjure the use of animals or their products for food since animals suffer and have rights not to be killed. The ideal is discriminatory because the arguments presuppose a male physiological norm that gives a privileged position to adult, middle-class males living in industrialized countries. Women, children, the aged, and others have substantially different nutritional (...) requirements and would bear a greater burden on vegetarian and vegan diets with respect to health and economic risks, than do these males. The poor and many persons in Third World nations live in circumstances that make the obligatory adoption of such diets, where they are not already a matter of sheer necessity, even more risky.Traditional moral theorists (such as Evelyn Pluhar and Gary Varner whose essays appear in this issue) argue that those who are at risk would beexcused from a duty to attain the virtue associated with ethical vegan lifestyles. The routine excuse of nearly everyone in the world besides adult, middle-class males in industrialized countries suggests bias in the perspective from which traditional arguments for animal rights and (utilitarian) animal welfare are formulated. (shrink)
Professor Hugh Lehman has recently argued that the rights view, according to which nonhuman animals have a prima facie right to life, is compatible with the killing of animals in many circumstances, including killing for food, research, or product-testing purposes. His principle argument is an appeal to life-boat cases, in which certain lives should be sacrificed rather than others because the latter would allegedly be made worse-off by death than the former. I argue that this reasoning would apply to so-called (...) inferior humans just as much as to animals, and that this appeal is unsuccessful in any case. I distinguish two versions of the rights view: the equal and the unequal rights views. Although the unequal rights view, unlike the equal rights view, would sanction the killing of animals (and some humans) for food under severely restricted circumstances, neither rights view sanctions the raising of animals for their meat. Moreover, neither rights view would sanction the killing of animals for research or product-testing purposes. I conclude with a brief discussion of the merits of phasing out the meat production industry. (shrink)
I recently took issue with Kathryn George's contention that vegetarianism cannot be a moral obligation for most human beings, even assuming that Tom Regan's stringent thesis about the equal inherent value of humans and many sentient nonhumans is correct. I argued that both Regan and George are incorrect in claiming that his view would permit moral agents to kill and eat innocent, non-threatening rights holders. An unequal rights view, by contrast, would permit such actions if a moral agent's health or (...) life is at stake. I then argued that current nutritional research does not support Professor George's claim that some wealthy adult males (and many fewer wealthy women) are the only persons whose health does not require the consumption of nonhuman animals and their products. In her 1992 response to my critique, George did not address my moral argumentation. She concentrated her entire paper on a wholesale rejection of my discussion of nutrition. Although she now takes a somewhat more moderate position on who can safely contemplate strict vegetarianism, she still believes that most people are not in a position to follow such a diet. In my counter-reply, I argue that her rejection is based upon numerous distortions, omissions, and false charges of fallacy. She even devotes a substantial section of her paper to criticizing me for saying the opposite of what I actually wrote. As I did in my earlier paper, I cite current research, including George's own preferred source on the topic of vegetarianism, to support my view. I conclude that Professor George has still not shown that for most human beings it is dangerous to follow a diet that omits nonhuman animals and their products. Moral agents who take the rights of humansand nonhumans seriously will find vegetarianism well worth considering. (shrink)
Kathryn Paxton George has recently argued that vegetarianism cannot be a moral obligation for most human beings, even if Tom Regan is correct in arguing that humans and certain nonhuman animals are equally inherently valuable. She holds that Regan's liberty principle permits humans to kill and eat innocent others who have a right to life, provided that doing so prevents humans from being made worse off. George maintains that obstaining from meat and dairy products would in fact make most humans (...) worse off. I argue that Regan's liberty principle either contradicts his equal rights view or does not permit the slaughter of another for food. I show that a different view recognizing the moral rights of nonhumans but according them less value than normal adult humans, the unequal rights view, would permit such action if human survival or health depended upon it. However, it would also permit the slaughter of innocent humans in the same circumstances. Finally, I argue that current nutritional research does not support George's contention that most humans would suffer if they ceased eating other animals and their products. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbooks series is a major new initiative in academic publishing. Each volume offers an authoritative and state-of-the-art survey of current thinking and research in a particular area. Specially commissioned essays from leading international figures in the discipline give critical examinations of the progress and direction of debates. Oxford Handbooks provide scholars and graduate students with compelling new perspectives upon a wide range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences. Plato is the best known, and continues to be (...) the most widely studied, of all the ancient Greek philosophers. The twenty-one newly commissioned articles in the Oxford Handbook of Plato provide in-depth and up-to-date discussions of a variety of topics and dialogues. The result is a useful state-of-the-art reference to the man many consider the most important philosophical thinker in history. Each article is an original contribution from a leading scholar, and they all serve several functions at once: they survey the lay of the land; express and develop the authors' own views; and situate those views within a range of alternatives. This Handbook contains chapters on metaphysics, epistemology, love, language, ethics, politics, art and education. Individual chapters are are devoted to each of the following dialogues: the Republic, Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Timaeus, and Philebus. There are also chapters on Plato and the dialogue form; on Plato in his time and place; on the history of the Platonic corpus; on Aristotle's criticism of Plato, and on Plato and Platonism. (shrink)
This project continues our interdisciplinary research into computational and cognitive aspects of narrative comprehension. Our ultimate goal is the development of a computational theory of how humans understand narrative texts. The theory will be informed by joint research from the viewpoints of linguistics, cognitive psychology, the study of language acquisition, literary theory, geography, philosophy, and artiﬁcial intelligence. The linguists, literary theorists, and geographers in our group are developing theories of narrative language and spatial understanding that are being tested by the (...) cognitive psychologists and language researchers in our group, and a computational model of a reader of narrative text is being developed by the AI researchers, based in part on these theories and results and in part on research on knowledge representation and reasoning. This proposal describes the knowledge-representation and natural-language-processing issues involved in the computational implementation of the theory; discusses a contrast between communicative and narrative uses of language and of the relation of the narrative text to the story world it describes; investigates linguistic, literary, and hermeneutic dimensions of our research; presents a computational investigation of subjective sentences and reference in narrative; studies children’s acquisition of the ability to take third-person perspective in their own storytelling; describes the psychological validation of various linguistic devices; and examines how readers develop an understanding of the geographical space of a story. This report is a longer version of a project description submitted to NSF. This document, produced in May 2007, is a L ATEX version of Technical Report 89-07 (Buffalo: SUNY Buffalo Department of Computer Science, August 1989), with slightly.. (shrink)
As a contribution towards clearing the ground for a new phenomenological evaluation of the essence of science, in this paper I present a critique of Heidegger''s argument in Being and Time for the priority of Zuhandenheit to Vorhandenheit. I argue that Heidegger''s notion of presence-at-hand is incoherent, conflating Husserl and Descartes, and that this general analysis has serious phenomenological flaws. Contrary to Heidegger, I maintain that there is a form of exploratory, theoretical activity including causal inquiry which is prior to (...) the type of practical activity entailed by readiness-to-hand. Consideration of this exploratory activity points us in the direction of an alternate conception of the genesis and essence of theory. (shrink)
The paper applies insights from Axel Honneth's recent book, The Struggle for Recognition , to the South African situation. Honneth argues that most movements for justice are motivated by individuals' and groups' felt need for recognition. In the larger debate over the relative importance of recognition compared with distribution, a debate framed by Taylor and Fraser, Honneth is presented as the best of both worlds. His tripartite schema of recognition on the levels of love, rights and solidarity, explains how (...) concerns for equality and difference are two separate needs, even though both must be satisfied. Past and ongoing struggles in South Africa can be understood as struggles for recognition. The African Renaissance itself, to be successful, must address economic and recognition issues simultaneously. Key Words: African Renaissance recognition social movements. (shrink)