In May 1933 the historian of chemistry Hélène Metzger addressed a letter to the renowned historian and philosopher of science Émile Meyerson, a cri de coeur against Meyerson's patronizing attitude toward her. This recently discovered letter is published and translated here because it is an exceptional human document reflecting the gender power structure of our discipline in interwar France. At the age of forty-three, and with five books to her credit, Metzger was still a junior scholar in the exclusively (...) male community of French historians and philosophers of science. We sketch the institutional setting of higher learning in France at the time, noting the limited openings it offered to would-be femmes savantes, and situate Metzger in this context. We also describe the philosophical differences between Metzger and Meyerson. Though Metzger never managed to obtain a post of her own, in her letter to Meyerson she forcefully lays claim, at least, to a mind of her own. (shrink)
In this article, I examine the historiographical ideas of the historian of chemistry Helene Metzger (1886-1944) against the background of the ideas of the members of the groups and institutions in which she worked, including Alexandre Koyre, Gaston Bachelard, Abel Rey, Henri Berr and Lucien Febrve. This article is on two interdependent levels: that of particular institutions and groups in which she worked (the Centre de Synthese, the International Committee for History of Science, the Institut d'Histoire des Sciences et Techniques (...) (Sorbonne) and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) and that of historiographical ideas. I individuate two particular theoretical aspirations pursued by the historians in Metzger's milieu: the ideal of total history and the study of the human mind. These two objectives were seen by Metzger and many others as implicating each other. Moreover, Metzger and other historians wanted to integrate the practice of commentary of texts in the realisations of those ideals. I argue, however, that these objectives proved very difficult to realise at the same time. One tradition which stemmed out of these discussions, exemplified by Bachelard, Canguilhem and Foucault, focused on the mind and knowledge, and renounced commentary of texts and total history as it was understood by the historians of the Centre de Synthese. The latter, however, did not really pursue the study of the mind. Moreover, historians like Metzger and Koyre who practised an attentive analysis of texts could not realise total history. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- PART I: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND INTRODUCTION * Introduction * PART II: ANALYSIS OF LITERARY TEXTS * Pygmalion as allegory for transformational adult learning: Ovid, Shaw and Hughes * Educating Rita and Oleanna * The Winter's Tale * PART III: BIOGRAPHICAL DATA * Interview with Joe * Interview with Jane * Interview with Sarah * SECTION IV: AUTO/BIOGRAPHICAL DATA * Interview with Lilian * Autobiographical Writing * Final thoughts.
A computer can come to understand natural language the same way Helen Keller did: by using “syntactic semantics”—a theory of how syntax can suffice for semantics, i.e., how semantics for natural language can be provided by means of computational symbol manipulation. This essay considers real-life approximations of Chinese Rooms, focusing on Helen Keller’s experiences growing up deaf and blind, locked in a sort of Chinese Room yet learning how to communicate with the outside world. Using the SNePS computational (...) knowledge-representation system, the essay analyzes Keller’s belief that learning that “everything has a name” was the key to her success, enabling her to “partition” her mental concepts into mental representations of: words, objects, and the naming relations between them. It next looks at Herbert Terrace’s theory of naming, which is akin to Keller’s, and which only humans are supposed to be capable of. The essay suggests that computers at least, and perhaps non-human primates, are also capable of this kind of naming. (shrink)
Ford’s <span class='Hi'>Helen</span> <span class='Hi'>Keller</span> Was Never in a Chinese Room claims that my argument in How <span class='Hi'>Helen</span> <span class='Hi'>Keller</span> Used Syntactic Semantics to Escape from a Chinese Room fails because Searle and I use the terms ‘syntax’ and ‘semantics’ differently, hence are at cross purposes. Ford has misunderstood me; this reply clarifies my theory.
William Rapaport, in How Helen Keller used syntactic semantics to escape from a Chinese Room, (Rapaport 2006), argues that Helen Keller was in a sort of Chinese Room, and that her subsequent development of natural language fluency illustrates the flaws in Searle’s famous Chinese Room Argument and provides a method for developing computers that have genuine semantics (and intentionality). I contend that his argument fails. In setting the problem, Rapaport uses his own preferred definitions of semantics and syntax, but he (...) does not translate Searle’s Chinese Room argument into that idiom before attacking it. Once the Chinese Room is translated into Rapaport’s idiom (in a manner that preserves the distinction between meaningful representations and uninterpreted symbols), I demonstrate how Rapaport’s argument fails to defeat the CRA. This failure brings a crucial element of the Chinese Room Argument to the fore: the person in the Chinese Room is prevented from connecting the Chinese symbols to his/her own meaningful experiences and memories. This issue must be addressed before any victory over the CRA is announced. (shrink)
Plato, in his dialog Charmides, presents the question of how society can determine whether a person who claims superior expertise in a particular field of knowledge does, in fact, possess superior expertise. In the modern era, society tends to answer this question by funding institutions (universities) that award credentials to certain individuals, asserting that those individuals possess a particular expertise; and then other institutions (the journalistic media and government) are expected to defer to the credentials. When, however, the sequential reasoning (...) and theorizing and conclusion-stating of generation after generation of credential-bearing experts (i.e., scientists) leads to the assertion of the truth of statements that large segments of society find to be in conflict with the statements of persons who have earned credentials of expertise bestowed by an alternative institutional structure (i.e., religious teachers), representatives of the people are put to a choice. And when the conflicting statements present substantial implications for the moral and sexual behavior of people in the society, addressing the conflict brings into play not only the highest intellectual speculations and analyses, but also the most animal emotions and motivations. This paper, taking the form of a dialog, presents a scientist (Avram Codosia) named after an ancient Jewish patriarch and makes him a supplicant to a U.S. Senator (Helen Astartian) named after a pagan goddess. The stakes turn out to be not merely financial and intellectual, but personal and moral, involving the scientist's son (Isaac), an art student, and the senator's niece (Halia), a philosophy student. In a four-phase encounter, the paper hopes to offer some innovative observations on age-old issues and to stimulate productive new thinking on questions that too often seem to be debated by means of repetitions of the same old points. (shrink)
Nature's experiments in isolation—the wild boy of Aveyron, Genie, their name is hardly legion—are by their nature illusive. Helen Keller, blind and deaf from her 18th month and isolated from language until well into her sixth year, presents a unique case in that every stage in her development was carefully recorded and she herself, graduate of Radcliffe College and author of 14 books, gave several careful and insightful accounts of her linguistic development and her cognitive and sensory situation. Perhaps (...) because she is masked, and enshrined, in William Gibson's mythic and false Miracle worker , cognitive scientists have yet to come to terms with this richly enlightening, albeit anecdotal, resource. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a new line of response to Frankfurt’s challenge to the traditional association of moral responsibility with the ability to do otherwise. According to this response, Frankfurt’s counterexample strategy fails, not in light of the conditions for moral responsibility per se, but in view of the conditions for action. Specifically, it is claimed, a piece of behavior counts as an action only if it is within the agent’s power to avoid performing it. In so far as (...) Frankfurt’s challenge presupposes that actions can be unavoidable, this view of action seems to bring his challenge up short. Helen Steward and Maria Alvarez have independently proposed versions of this response. Here I argue that this response is unavailable to Frankfurt’s incompatibilist opponents. This becomes evident when we put this question to its proponents: “Are actions that originate deterministically ipso facto unavoidable?” If they answer “yes,” they encounter one horn of a dilemma. If they answer “no,” they encounter the other horn. Since no one has a clearer stake in meeting Frankfurt’s challenge than these theorists do, it is significant that the Steward-Alvarez response is unavailable to them. (shrink)
This article is another unapologetic contribution to the gentle art of rational choice bashing. The debate over rational choice theory (RCT) may appear to have tired out; yet RCT is as dominant in political sciences as ever. The reason is that critics typically take aim at the symptoms of RCTs failings, rather than their root cause: RCTs very ambition of being the science of choice. In this article I argue that RCT fails twice, first as a science of choice and (...) then as a science of choice. Both failures suggest that political sciences need an epistemologic (re)conversion away from the Platonic ideal of a deductive and universal science of choice toward a more inductive and pluralist paradigm. While advocates of RCT rightly insist that you cant beat something with nothing, I take their advice, with a grain of salt: in order for alternatives to appear, the frame of references needs to be modified. I draw a few perspectives for the political sciences. (shrink)
Helen Beebee has recently argued that David Lewis’s account of compatibilism, so-called local miracle compatibilism (LMC), allows for the possibility that agents in deterministic worlds have the ability to break or cause the breaking of a law of nature. Because Lewis’s LMC allows for this consequence, Beebee claims that LMC is untenable and subsequently that Lewis’s criticism of van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument for incompatibilism is substantially weakened. I review Beebee’s argument against Lewis’s thesis and argue that Beebee has not (...) refuted LMC and concomitantly has not demonstrated that Lewis’s criticism of the Consequence Argument fails. (shrink)
The Blood of Others begins at the bedside of a mortally wounded Résistance fighter named Hélène Bertrand. We encounter her from the point of view of Jean Blomart, her friend and lover, who recounts the story of their relationship : their first meeting, unhappy romance, bitter breakup, and eventual reunion as fellow fighters for the liberation of occupied France. The novel invites the reader to interpret Hélène and Jean’s story as one of positive ethical development. On this progressive (...) reading, although both characters are initially mired in bad faith and ethical irresponsibility, they ultimately transform themselves into ethically exemplary figures. Through their participation in violent political resistance against the occupation, they recognize their responsibility to humanity and actualize that responsibility in the form of positive political engagement. I will argue, on the contrary, that Jean and Hélène exhibit a unique form of bad faith that Beauvoir identifies in The Ethics of Ambiguity, a dangerous form of bad faith, distinct from the Sartrean conception, that promotes the indiscriminate use of violence for political ends. (shrink)
: A central claim of Longino's contextual empiricism is that scientific inquiry, even when "properly conducted", lacks the capacity to screen out the influence of contextual values on its results. I'll show first that Longino's attack against the epistemic integrity of science suffers from fatal empirical weaknesses. Second I'll explain why Longino's practical proposition for suppressing biases in science, drawn from her contextual empiricism, is too demanding and, therefore, unable to serve its purpose. Finally, drawing on Bourdieu's sociological analysis of (...) scientific communities, I'll sketch an alternative view of scientific practice reconciling a thoroughly social view of science (such as Longino's) with a defense of its epistemic integrity. (shrink)
A highly original work in history and theory, this survey considers major themes including identity, class and sexual difference, weaves them into debates on the nature and point of history, and arrives at new ways of doing history that – very unusually – consider non-Western history and feminist approaches. Using wide range of historical and cultural contexts, the study draws extensively on feminist scholarship, both feminist history and postcolonial feminism.
This paper argues in favor of the epistemic properties of inclusiveness in the context of democratic deliberative assemblies and derives the implications of this argument in terms of the epistemically superior mode of selection of representatives. The paper makes the general case that, all other things being equal and under some reasonable assumptions, more is smarter. When applied to deliberative assemblies of representatives, where there is an upper limit to the number of people that can be included in the group, (...) the argument translates into a defense of a specific selection mode of participants: random selection. (shrink)
What can one expect to unfold when they choose to do a face-to-face study of children on the farm and their use of space in rural southwestern Ontario? The process of getting the research off the ground from an ethics point of view was one where it was anything but normative, and to a large extent, a grueling process. This article situates the researcher’s dilemma and lays out the unfolding of the research process with reference to the Tri-Council Policy Statement (...) on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans and the major components found to trouble a research ethics board on a university campus. Last, academic freedom and the rights of researchers are considered in the context of undertaking the proposed research agenda. (shrink)
Abstract This article furnishes a philosophical background for the current debate about responsibility and culpability for war crimes by referring to ideas from three important just war thinkers: Augustine, Francisco de Vitoria, and Michael Walzer. It combines lessons from these three thinkers with perspectives on current problems in the ethics of war, distinguishes between legal culpability, moral culpability, and moral responsibility, and stresses that even lower-ranking soldiers must in many cases assume moral responsibility for their acts, even though they are (...) part of a military hierarchy and act under orders. The questions addressed in this article are arguably among the hardest and most muddled in military ethics and deserve close philosophical analysis and scrutiny. (shrink)
NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) refers to an oppositional attitude from local residents against some risk generating facility that they have been chosen to host either by government or industry. The attitude is claimed to be characteristic of someone who is positive to a facility but who wants someone else to be its host. Since siting cannot be provided if everyone has this attitude, society ends up in a worse situation. The attitude is claimed to be egoistic and irrational. Here (...) it is argued that the NIMBY critique rests on questionable assumptions about the rightness of weighing total benefit against total cost. This weighing-principle will sometimes have to yield so that the rights of individuals can be acknowledged. (shrink)
CSR has become an important element in the business strategy of a growing number of companies worldwide. A large number of initiatives have been developed that aim to support companies in developing, implementing, and communicating about CSR. The Global Compact (GC), initiated by the United Nations, stands out. Since its launch in 2000, it has grown to about 2900 companies and 3800 members in total. The GC combines several mechanisms to support CSR strategies: normative principles, networks for learning and co-operation, (...) and communication and transparency about CSR activities. However, up to now only a few empirical evaluations of the contribution of the GC to CSR strategies have been conducted that however have not differentiated between different types of companies (regarding type of industry or regarding the maturity of CSR). This paper aims to partly fill this knowledge gap by a case study examination of three frontrunner companies in the telecommunications industry. The results show that the GC is only one of the many initiatives that these companies employ in shaping, implementing, and reporting about their CSR strategies, and that its role is at most modest. There are two important reasons. One is that many of the CSR issues that these companies deal with are industry specific and are hence addressed in specific networks. The second reason is that the GC principles are perceived as minimum requirements that do not provide many incentives to the three case study companies to perform better. A differentiation of norms for GC members is expected to enhance the contribution of the GC to CSR strategy employment, not only for frontrunner companies but as well for other categories of companies. (shrink)
One of the fundamental questions raised by Ruchkin, Grafman, Cameron, and Berndt's (Ruchkin et al.'s) interpretation of no distinct specialized neural networks for short-term storage buffers and long-term memory systems, is that of the link between perception and memory processes. In this framework, we take the opportunity in this commentary to discuss a specific working memory task involving percept formation, temporary retention, auditory imagery, and the attention-based maintenance of information, that is, the verbal transformation effect.
New concepts may prove necessary to profit from the avalanche of sequence data on the genome, transcriptome, proteome and interactome and to relate this information to cell physiology. Here, we focus on the concept of large activity-based structures, or hyperstructures, in which a variety of types of molecules are brought together to perform a function. We review the evidence for the existence of hyperstructures responsible for the initiation of DNA replication, the sequestration of newly replicated origins of replication, cell division (...) and for metabolism. The processes responsible for hyperstructure formation include changes in enzyme affinities due to metabolite-induction, lipid-protein affinities, elevated local concentrations of proteins and their binding sites on DNA and RNA, and transertion. Experimental techniques exist that can be used to study hyperstructures and we review some of the ones less familiar to biologists. Finally, we speculate on how a variety of in silico approaches involving cellular automata and multi-agent systems could be combined to develop new concepts in the form of an Integrated cell (I-cell) which would undergo selection for growth and survival in a world of artificial microbiology. (shrink)
Brecht's relationship to Marxism is extremely important and highly complex. From the 1920s until his death in 1956, Brecht identified himself as a Marxist; when he returned to Germany after World War II, he chose the German Democratic Republic (GDR), where his actress wife Helene Weigel and he formed their own theater troupe, the famed Berliner Ensemble, and were eventually given a state theater to run. Yet Brecht's relationship to orthodox Marxist officials and doctrine was often conflictual, and his own (...) work and life were highly idiosyncratic. Of a strongly anti-bourgeois disposition from his youth, the young Brecht was also initially repelled by Bolshevism. He experienced the German revolution of 1918 with some ambivalence and dedicated himself to literary and not political activity during the turbulent early years of the Weimar republic. He recorded in his Diaries, for example, a negative response to a talk he heard on 1920 on the Soviet Union in which he was repelled by the concept of socialist order he heard discussed. He indicated a negative impression of Bolshevism and conclude his entry by noting that he rather have a new car than socialism! (shrink)
This article shows that the relationship between Simone de Beauvoir's novel, Le Sang des autres (The Blood of Others), first published in 1945, and her essay, Pour une morale de l'ambiguïté (The Ethics of Ambiguity), first published in 1947, illustrates her point in "Littérature et métaphysique" that an abstract philosophical theory is grounded in immediate metaphysical experience. An original ethical position emerges from Hélène Bertrand's lived experience in the novel, which anticipates feminist issues addressed in The Second Sex more (...) directly than does Beauvoir's essay. (shrink)
Ecopolitics is a study of environmental awareness--or non-awareness--in contemporary French theory. Arguing that it is now impossible not to think in an ecological way, Verena Andermatt Conley traces the roots of today's concern for the environment back to the intellectual climate of the late '50s and '60s. Major thinkers of 1968, the author argues, changed the way we think the world; this owes much to an ecological awareness that remains at the heart of issues concerning cultural theory in general. The (...) book points to critiques of ecology in the work of Luc Ferry and Jean Baudrillard before turning to more complicated ecological awareness primarily in French thought. The author considers key texts by influential figures such as Michael Serres, Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Michel de Certeau, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray. (shrink)
In classical India, Jain philosophers developed a theory of viewpoints ( naya-vāda ) according to which any statement is always performed within and dependent upon a given epistemic perspective or viewpoint. The Jainas furnished this epistemology with an (epistemic) theory of disputation that takes into account the viewpoint in which the main thesis has been stated. The main aim of our paper is to delve into the Jain notion of viewpoint-contextualisation and to develop the elements of a suitable logical system (...) that should offer a reconstruction of the Jainas’ epistemic theory of disputation. A crucial step of our project is to approach the Jain theory of disputation with the help of a theory of meaning for logical constants based on argumentative practices called dialogical logic . Since in the dialogical framework the meaning of the logical constants is given by the norms or rules for their use in a debate, it provides a meaning theory closer to the Jain context-sensitive disputation theory than the main-stream formal model-theoretic semantics. (shrink)
Certain features of Stage NREM sleep – for example, rhythmic voltage oscillation in thalamic neurons – are physiologically inhospitable to “REM sleep processes.” In Stage 2, the sleep spindle and its refractory period must limit the incursion of “covert REM,” and thus the extent of REM-like cognition. If these hyperpolarization-dependent events also inform Stage NREM cognition, does a “1-gen” model suffice to account for REM-NREM differences? [Nielsen].
This commentary implicates the neostriatum in the production of the EEG sleep spindle and in the processing of motor procedural learning in sleep. Whether the sleep spindle may implement not only the consolidation-based enhancement of procedural learning, but also its initial consolidation, is considered; as is the fit between (1) corticostriatal anatomy and physiology, and (2) the physical properties of the sleep spindle.