Physicalism is a program for building a unified system of knowledge about the world on the basis of the view that everything is a manifestation of the physical aspects of existence. Jeffrey Poland presents a systematic and comprehensive exploration of the philosophical foundations of this program. He investigates the core ideas, motivating values, and presuppositions of physicalism; the constraints upon an adequate formulation of physicalist doctrine; the epistemological and modal status, the scope, and the methodological roles of physicalist principles. (...) He reviews and evaluates major objections to the program, and considers its significance for philosophy, science, society, and individual persons. He also examines the relations between physicalism and other philosophical positions, such as realism, empiricism, and relativism, and suggests that physicalism is compatible with a tolerant pluralism in the philosophical, cultural, and personal domains. (shrink)
The manifest dissociation between our capacity to make moral judgments and our ability to provide justifications for them, a phenomenon labeled Moral Dumbfounding, has important implications for the theory and practice of moral psychology. I articulate and develop the Linguistic Analogy as a robust alternative to existing sentimentalist models of moral judgment inspired by this phenomenon. The Linguistic Analogy motivates a crucial distinction between moral acceptability and moral permissibility judgments, and thereby calls into question prevailing methods used in the study (...) of moral judgment. Indeed, the judgments that are the focus of most current empirical work in moral psychology are not proper targets of scientific study. (shrink)
Pornography has attracted a good deal of academic and political attention, primarily from feminists of various persuasions, moral philosophers, and legal scholars. Surprisingly less work has been forthcoming from film theorists, given how much pornography has been produced on video and DVD and is now available through live streaming video over the Internet. Indeed, it is not until 1989, with the publication of Linda Williams’ groundbreaking Hard Core, that pornography is distinguished, in terms of its content, intent, and governing conventions, (...) as a filmic genre of its own. Still, not all pornography exists as film, and so a full discussion of it must encompass its other manifestations (e.g., magazines, websites, comics, etc.). The central questions about pornography are these: (1) What is it? How is it to be defined? (2) What are its effects? (3) How, if at all, ought it to be regulated? While these questions are simple, providing answers to them, as we shall see, is complicated. There is plenty of disagreement about how to define pornography; research about pornography’s effects is not univocal; and this in turn leads to substantial debate about what can and may be done about pornography. It is to these matters that the bulk of this essay is addressed. To begin, however, we will take a brief snapshot of the emergence of pornographic film and of the pornography business as it exists today. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of the Machamer, Darden, and Craver (2000) mechanism approach to gaining an understanding of explanation in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that although the mechanism approach can capture many aspects of explanation in cognitive neuroscience, it cannot capture everything. In particular, it cannot completely capture all aspects of the content and significance of mental representations or the evaluative features constitutive of psychopathology.
We must admire the ambition of Prinz’s title question. But does he provide a convincing answer to it? Prinz’s own view of morality as “a byproduct – accidental or invented – of faculties that evolved for different purposes (1),” which appears to express a negative reply, does not receive much direct argument here. Rather, Prinz’s main aim is to try to show that the considerations he believes are typically presented by moral nativists are insufficient or inadequate to establish that morality (...) is innate. He discusses, individually, how much evidential weight the (alleged) existence of (1) universal moral norms, (2) universal moral domains, (3) fixed stages in moral development, and (4) precursors to morality among non-human animals lend to nativist claims, and, in addition, he argues that poverty-of-the-moral-stimulus arguments are as yet unconvincing. “[C]urrent evidence,” Prinz claims, “is consistent with the conclusion that children acquire moral competence through experience (22).” It is not my intention here to follow Prinz’s piecemeal criticisms of moral nativism. In their attacks on linguistic nativism (see, e.g., Cowie 1999) and now on moral nativism, empiricists typically deploy the.. (shrink)
A nativist moral psychology, modeled on the successes of theoretical linguistics, provides the best framework for explaining the acquisition of moral capacities and the diversity of moral judgment across the species. After a brief presentation of a poverty of the moral stimulus argument, this chapter sketches a view according to which a so-called Universal Moral Grammar provides a set of parameterizable principles whose specific values are set by the child's environment, resulting in the acquisition of a moral idiolect. The principles (...) and parameters approach predicts moral diversity, but does not entail moral relativism. (shrink)
This book is a foray into the thorny interpretive issue of what to make of Kant's so-called "Metaphysical Deduction" of the categories. As with many of the arguments in the first Critique, the claim of the Metaphysical Deduction is easier to make out than its argument. The claim is that by some or other reference to "general logic," one may obtain a "transcendental logic," i.e., a justification (or "deduction") of the categories (of the understanding) necessary to the (very) possibility of (...) experience. But how? By, Kant says, discerning, in general logic, a "clue" to transcendental logic. But what sort of clue? And then what clue exactly? We need a meta-clue to get a clue.Herein lies the very mixed reception the .. (shrink)
: When health care workers migrate from poor countries to rich countries, they are exercising an important human right and helping rich countries fulfill obligations of social justice. They are also, however, creating problems of social justice in the countries they leave. Solving these problems requires balancing social needs against individual rights and studying the relationship of social justice to international justice.
For individuals at all points on the political spectrum, and especially for those engaged in any form of expressive enterprise – from comic book illustrators, to film directors, to performance artists – censorship typically carries very negative connotations. Indeed, for many, censorship is the very antithesis of freedom and creativity. However, we can and should conceive of censorship more neutrally – simply as the imposition of constraints. On such a construal, censorship is not obviously always a Bad Thing. This point (...) is crucial for any effective argument against particular instances of censorship. For, if we simply define censorship as something always to be rejected, then we have merely asserted what potential censors deny, and we have provided no reasons to reject censorship. Moreover, a neutral construal of censorship better allows us to grasp that there are different agents of censorship, that censorship can and does have a range of targets and motivations, and that (apparently paradoxically) constraints of some kind may well be part of the very creative enterprise itself. Here I shall be concerned only with censorship as it has affected and continues to affect film. Obviously, there is much else to be said about the censorship of the press, art and literature (see “Further Reading” in this chapter and “Pornography”). (shrink)
Inspired by the success of generative linguistics and transformational grammar, proponents of the linguistic analogy (LA) in moral psychology hypothesize that careful attention to folk-moral judgments is likely to reveal a small set of implicit rules and structures responsible for the ubiquitous and apparently unbounded capacity for making moral judgments. As a theoretical hypothesis, LA thus requires a rich description of the computational structures that underlie mature moral judgments, an account of the acquisition and development of these structures, and an (...) analysis of those components of the moral system that are uniquely human and uniquely moral. In this paper we present the theoretical motivations for adopting LA in the study of moral cognition: (a) the distinction between competence and performance, (b) poverty of stimulus considerations, and (c) adopting the computational level as the proper level of analysis for the empirical study of moral judgment. With these motivations in hand, we review recent empirical findings that have been inspired by LA and which provide evidence for at least two predictions of LA: (a) the computational processes responsible for folk-moral judgment operate over structured representations of actions and events, as well as coding for features of agency and outcomes; and (b) folk-moral judgments are the output of a dedicated moral faculty and are largely immune to the effects of context. In addition, we highlight the complexity of the interfaces between the moral faculty and other cognitive systems external to it (e.g., number systems). We conclude by reviewing the potential utility of the theoretical and empirical tools of LA for future research in moral psychology. (shrink)
Depending on how one looks at it, we have been enjoying or suffering a significant empirical turn in moral psychology during this first decade of the 21st century. While philosophers have, from time to time, considered empirical matters with respect to morality, those who took an interest in actual (rather than ideal) moral agents were primarily concerned with whether particular moral theories were ‘too demanding’ for creatures like us (Flanagan, 1991; Williams, 1976; Wolf, 1982). Faithful adherence to Utilitarianism or Kantianism (...) would appear to be inconsistent with other things we value, like personal integrity and flourishing, which depend upon pursuing individually determined projects and ways of life in rather single-minded ways. Maximizing the good is a full-time job, and the impartiality recommended by Kantian theory can get in the way of showing special care for those we know and love. All this is standard philosophical fare. However, more recently, philosophers and psychologists have begun to treat moral psychology as a legitimate branch of cognitive science. They inquire into the evolution of morality (e.g., Joyce, 2007; Nichols 2004), debate the human uniqueness of moral capacities (e.g., deWaal, 2006; Hauser, 2006), investigate the causal etiology of moral judgments (e.g., Haidt & Greene, 2002; Hauser et al., 2006; Prinz, 2006), attempt to map the neuroanatomy of moral reasoning (e.g., Greene et al., 2001; Greene et al., 2004; Moll, et al., 2005), and consider what other affective and cognitive capacities are required by a creature who sees the world in moral terms. (See also Sinnott-Armstrong, 2007, 2008a, 2008b). 1 In this essay, I discuss two issues whose interdependence and central importance for empirically informed moral psychology have not been fully grasped, or so I believe. First is what I call the Explananda Challenge. Let us assume that the primary question for moral psychology is this: How is it possible for human beings to be moral creatures? Deceptively simple, this question obscures a number of rather more difficult ones.. (shrink)
We propose that the generalizations of linguistic theory serve to ascribe beliefs to humans. Ordinary speakers would explicitly (and sincerely) deny having these rather esoteric beliefs about language--e.g., the belief that an anaphor must be bound in its governing category. Such ascriptions can also seem problematic in light of certain theoretical considerations having to do with concept possession, revisability, and so on. Nonetheless, we argue that ordinary speakers believe the propositions expressed by certain sentences of linguistic theory, and that linguistics (...) can therefore teach us something about belief as well as language. Rather than insisting that ordinary speakers lack the linguistic beliefs in question, philosophers should try to show how these empirically motivated belief ascriptions can be correct. We argue that Stalnaker's (1984) "pragmatic" account--according to which beliefs are dispositions, and propositions are sets of possible worlds--does just this. Moreover, our construal of explanation in linguistics motivates (and helps provide) responses to two difficulties for the pragmatic account of belief: the phenomenon of opacity, and the so-called problem of deduction. (shrink)
In the sixth Logical Investigation, Husserl thematizes the surplus (Überschuß) of the perceptual intention whereby the intending goes beyond the partial givenness of a perceptual object to the object as a whole. This surplus is an apperceptive surplus that transcends the purely perceptual substance (Gehalt) or sensed content (empfundene Inhalt) available to a perceiver at any one time. This surplus can be described on the one hand as a synthetic link to future, possible, active experience; to intend an object is (...) to intend it as it would appear if we were to have an exhaustively synthetic explication of it. This perceptual apperceptive surplus is, on the other hand, distinguished from the surplus that categorial form represents over the perceptual sense data. In this paper I show how the apperceptive surplus can also be understood as a synthetic link to past experience that is passively operative in any present perception. The synthetic link to both past and possible experience is a link to non-actual perceptions. Links to non-actual experience are despite their non-actuality nevertheless genuinely intentional in that they enter into the sense of any actively constituted object understood as a unity of sense. Key to this interpretation is an explanation of how Husserl appropriated the key concepts of attention and apperception from psychologists of his day, such as Stumpf and Wundt. (shrink)
There is an interesting sense in which philosophical reflection in the transcendental tradition is thought to be unnatural. Kant claims that metaphysical speculation is as natural as breathing and that transcendental critique is necessary to prevent reason from lapsing into a natural dialectic of dogmatism and skepticism. Husserl argues that the critique of theoretical reason is grounded upon a transcending of the natural attitude in which we are at first unjustifiably and naïvely directed toward objects as separate from consciousness. A (...) perfectly sensible question arises: Why do we need to effect a change in our natural cognitive orientation to both ourselves and the world in order to know each respectively? Why does a sort of dialectical self-deception come so naturally to us, and why is an effort so great as to seem unnatural necessary for philosophical self-knowledge? The aim of this paper is threefold: first, to argue that seemingly compulsory philosophical assumptions are inevitably generated from within reason itself and thus remain resistant to a complete therapy; second, to show how Kant diagnoses reason’s dialectical tendencies as inevitable and ever-recurring without transcendental vigilance; finally, to argue that the early Husserl’s appropriation of a transcendental epistemology is influenced decisively by Kant’s transcendental reflection in order to combat the reigning naturalism of his day. My overall claim is that by thematizing the natural dialectic of reason best articulated in the first Critique, we can disclose the Kantian way in which Husserl conceives of the natural temptation to naturalize consciousness. We first turn, however, to an influential contemporary account of a decidedly non-transcendental philosophy, what has come to be known as “therapeutic Wittgensteinianism.”. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore one way to bring bioethics and environmental ethics closer together. I focus on a question at the interface of health, sustainability, and justice: How well does a society promote health with the use of no more than a just share of environmental capacity? To address this question, I propose and discuss a mode of assessment that combines a measurement of population health, an estimate of environmental sustainability, and an assumption about what constitutes a fair or (...) just share. This mode of assessment provides an estimate of the just and sustainable life expectancy of a population. It could be used to monitor how well a particular society promotes health within just environmental limits. It could also serve as a source of information that stakeholders use when they deliberate about programs, policies, and technologies. The purpose of this work is to focus attention on an ethical task: the need to fashion institutions and forms of life that promote health in ways that recognize the claims of sustainability and justice. (shrink)
Morality is so steeped in the quotidian details of praise and blame, of do’s and don’t’s, and of questions about the justifiability of certain practices it is no wonder that philosophers and psychologists have devoted relatively little effort to investigating what makes moral life possible in the first place. In making this claim, I neither ignore Kant and his intellectual descendants, nor the large literature in developmental moral psychology from Piaget on. My charge has to do with this fact: (...) morality is an ineliminable feature of human life and human beings are biological creatures. Hence, what wants explaining is how a biological creature – a creature with an evolved mind/brain – can be a normative creature of a particular kind – a creature that cannot help but engage in moral appraisal and evaluation. It does no good to try to wring such an explanation from the ‘very concept’ of agency (whatever that might be), as some philosophers attempt to do. Such a strategy merely delays the inevitable: how is it that biological creatures are agents? And while we can understand the practical value of charting the trajectory of babbling infants to toddlers to adolescents to adults, absent an account of the foundations of the capacities whose emergence constitutes this trajectory, we will still not have addressed the central question. Sociobiology and evolutionary ethics fare no better. The apparent puzzle of cooperation amidst competition can and has been addressed via the notions of kin selection and reciprocal altruism. But these accounts are motivated by and hence pitched at the level of overt behavior. However, being a moral creature, in the sense that makes such entities apt subjects for deep intellectual investigation, has very little to do with whether they behave well (sometimes? often? on average? ever?) and everything to do with being capable of a certain kind of cognition.. (shrink)
Some cases of implicit knowledge involve representations of (implicitly) known propositions, but this is not the only important type of implicit knowledge. Chomskian linguistics suggests another model of how humans can know more than is accessible to consciousness. Innate capacities to focus on a small range of possibilities, thereby ignoring many others, need not be grounded by inner representations of any possibilities ignored. This model may apply to many domains where human cognition “fills a gap” between stimuli and judgment.
Critical analyses of the audit profession have become more common in recent years. Many of these analyses focus on the entire audit profession in developing their criticisms and concerns. In this paper, the scope of analysis is narrowed to examine in depth the auditing profession's use of the concepts of reasonable assurance and materiality in audit performance and audit communications. Reasonable assurance and materiality are the terms that auditors use to describe the scope of their responsibility to the public. Similarly, (...) reasonable assurance and materiality are the key determinants of audit effort. An overview of official guidance, practitioner reports, and academic research reveals that these two key concepts are not well specified nor are they consistently applied in audit practice. These findings are evaluated from two competing perspectives on professions – the traditional, functionalist perspective and the critical theorists' perspective. Evaluation from the latter perspective leads to a conclusion that the profession's use of these key terms to guide practice and communication leaves the profession open to charges of mystification and unjustified paternalism. (shrink)
The potential health risks of vegan diets specifically for women and children are discussed. Women and children are at higher risk of malnutrition from consumption of unsupplemented vegan diets than are adult males. Those who are very young, pregnant, lactating, elderly, or who suffer from poverty, disease or other environmentally induced disadvantages are at special risk. The size of these risks is difficult to quantify from existing studies. Fortunately the risk of dietary deficiency disease can be avoided and the potential (...) health benefits of vegan diets can be realized when diets for these groups are planned in line with theRecommended Dietary Allowances so that nutrient intakes reach or exceed recommended levels, and access to preventive and curative health services is assured. (shrink)
In this article I articulate how phenomenology can and should appropriate the theme of Platonic cognitive erôs. Erôs has two principal meanings: sexual passion and the desire for the whole that characterizes the philosophical life; in its cognitive sense, it implies dissatisfaction with partial truth and aiming at the givenness of the whole. The kind of lived-experience in which the being-true of the world is presented to and affectively allures the knower is a phenomenological analogue to what in Plato is (...) the contemplative communion with the Good. Cognitive desire is always motivated by the consciousness of the lack of knowledge and the recalcitranceon the part of the world to be fully revealed. Husserlian phenomenology confirms the fact that erotic perception is always beckoned by the world and its states of affairs from the outside, as opposed to physiologically reduced Cartesian wonder and internally motivated striving on the part of Kantian reason. (shrink)