This essay attempts to develop a psychologically informed semantics of perception reports, whose predictions match with the linguistic data. As suggested by the quotation from Miller and Johnson-Laird, we take a hallmark of perception to be its fallible nature; the resulting semantics thus necessarily differs from situation semantics. On the psychological side, our main inspiration is Marr's (1982) theory of vision, which can easily accomodate fallible perception. In Marr's theory, vision is a multi-layered process. The different layers have filters of (...) different gradation, which makes vision at each of them approximate. On the logical side, our task is therefore twofold • to formalise the layers and the ways in which they may refine each other, and • to develop logical means to let description vary with such degrees of refinement. The first task is formalised by means of an inverse systems of first order models, with reality appearing as its inverse limit. The second task is formalised by means of so-called conditional quantifiers, a new form of generalised quantification which can best be described as resource bounded quantification. We show that the logic provides for a semantics and pragmatics of direct perception reports. In particular, direct perception reports have a possibly nonveridical, approximative semantics, which becomes veridical only by virtue of our pragmatic expectation that what is perceived would continue to be the case, were we to perceive more accurately. It is a general feature of resource bounded logics that the underlying logics are weak, but that stronger principles can be obtained pragmatically, by strengthening the resource. For the logic of vision this feature is clarified by showing how changes in the resource capture different notions of partiality, and by studying how the perception verb interacts with connectives and quantifiers in different visual contexts. The inference Veridicality, which is now viewed rather as a nonmonotonic inference, is also studied in depth. We end with an attempt to buttress the proposed model by comparing it with suggestions put forward in Cognitive or Conceptual Semantics, in the literature on evidentials, and in Husserl's philosophy of perception. (shrink)
Does epistemic justification aim at truth? The vast majority of epistemologists instinctively answer 'Yes'; it's the textbook response. Joseph Cruz and John Pollock surprisingly say no. In 'The Chimerical Appeal of Epistemic Externalism' they argue that justification bears no interesting connection to truth; justification does not even aim at truth. 'Truth is not a very interesting part of our best understanding' of justification (C&P 2004, 137); it has no 'connection to the truth.' A 'truth-aimed ... epistemology is not (...) entitled to carry the day' (C&P 2004, 138, emphasis added).Pollock and Cruz's argument for this surprising conclusion is of general interest for it is 'out of step with a very common view on the .. (shrink)
Joshua Greene has argued that several lines of empirical research, including his own fMRI studies of brain activity during moral decision-making, comprise strong evidence against the legitimacy of deontology as a moral theory. This is because, Greene maintains, the empirical studies establish that “characteristically deontological” moral thinking is driven by prepotent emotional reactions which are not a sound basis for morality in the contemporary world, while “characteristically consequentialist” thinking is a more reliable moral guide because it is characterized by greater (...) cognitive command and control. In this essay, I argue that Greene does not succeed in drawing a strong statistical or causal connection between prepotent emotional reactions and deontological theory, and so does not undermine the legitimacy of deontological moral theories. The results that Greene relies on from neuroscience and social psychology do not establish his conclusion that consequentialism is superior to deontology. (shrink)
Some philosophers think that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons, or alternatively in responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. This paper considers various possible interpretations of ‘responding correctly to reasons’ and of ‘responding correctly to beliefs about reasons’, and concludes that rationality consists in neither, under any interpretation. It recognizes that, under some interpretations, rationality does entail responding correctly to beliefs about reasons. That is: necessarily, if you are rational you respond correctly to your beliefs about reasons.
According to the moving spotlight theory of time, the property of being present moves from earlier times to later times, like a spotlight shone on spacetime by God. In more detail, the theory has three components. First, it is a version of eternalism: all times, past present and future, exist. (Here I use “exist” in its tenseless sense.) Second, it is a version of the A-theory of time: there are nonrelative facts about which times are past, which time is present, (...) and which times are future. That is, it is not just that the year 1066 is past relative to 2007. The year 1066 is also past full-stop, not relative to any other time. (The A-theory is opposed to the B-theory of time, which says that facts about which times are past are relative to other times.) And third, on this view the passage of time is a real phenomenon. Which moment is present keeps changing. As I will sometimes put it, the NOW moves from the past toward the future.1 And this does not mean that relative to different times, different times are present. Even the B-theory can say that 1999 is present relative to 1999 but is not present relative to 2007. No, according to the moving spotlight theory, the claim that which moment is present keeps changing is supposed to be true, even from a perspective outside time. (shrink)
This paper explores the level of obligation called for by Milton Friedman’s classic essay “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits.” Several scholars have argued that Friedman asserts that businesses have no or minimal social duties beyond compliance with the law. This paper argues that this reading of Friedman does not give adequate weight to some claims that he makes and to their logical extensions. Throughout his article, Friedman emphasizes the values of freedom, respect for law, and (...) duty. The principle that a business professional should not infringe upon the liberty of other members of society can be used by business ethicists to ground a vigorous line of ethical analysis. Any practice, which has a negative externality that requires another party to take a significant loss without consent or compensation, can be seen as unethical. With Friedman’s framework, we can see how ethics can be seen as arising from the nature of business practice itself. Business involves an ethics in which we consider, work with, and respect strangers who are outside of traditional in-groups. (shrink)
According to the Constitution View of persons, a human person is wholly constituted by (but not identical to) a human organism. This view does justice both to our similarities to other animals and to our uniqueness. As a proponent of the Constitution View, I defend the thesis that the coming-into-existence of a human person is not simply a matter of the coming-into-existence of an organism, even if that organism ultimately comes to constitute a person. Marshalling some support from developmental (...) psychology, I give a broadly materialistic account of the coming-into-existence of a human person. I argue for the metaphysical superiority of the Constitution View to Biological Animalism, Thomistic Animalism, and other forms of Substance Dualism. I conclude by discussing the single implication of the Constitution View for thinking about abortion. Footnotesa Thanks to Gareth Matthews and Catherine E. Rudder for comments. I am also grateful to other contributors to this volume, especially Robert A. Wilson, Marya Schechtman, David Oderberg, Stephen Braude, and John Finnis. (shrink)
Science provides us with the methodological key to wisdom. This idea goes back to the 18th century French Enlightenment. Unfortunately, in developing the idea, the philosophes of the Enlightenment made three fundamental blunders: they failed to characterize the progress-achieving methods of science properly, they failed to generalize these methods properly, and they failed to develop social inquiry as social methodology having, as its basic task, to get progress-achieving methods, generalized from science, into social life so that humanity might make progress (...) towards an enlightened world. Instead, the philosophes developed social inquiry as social science. This botched version of the Enlightenment idea was further developed throughout the 19th century, and built into academia in the early 20th century with the creation of university departments of social science. As a result, academia today seeks knowledge but does not devote reason to the task of helping humanity make progress towards a better, wiser world. Our current and impending global crises are the outcome. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in universities throughout the world so that the blunders of the Enlightenment are corrected, and universities take up their proper task of helping humanity make progress towards a wiser world. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Twin-Earth externalism. The mistake that Twin Earth arguments rest on is the failure to appreciate the force of the following dilemma. Some features of things around us do matter for the purposes of conceptual classification, and others do not. The most plausible way to draw this distinction is to see whether a certain feature enters the cognitive perspective of the experiencing subject in relation to the kind in question or not. If it does, (...) we can trace conceptual differences to internal differences. If it doesn’t, we do not have a case of conceptual difference. Neither case supports Twin Earth externalism. (shrink)
How, and why, does Earth (the element) move to the centre of Aristotle's Universe? In this paper, I argue that we cannot understand why it does so by reference merely to the nature of Earth, or the attractive force of the Centre. Rather, we have to understand the role that Earth plays in the cosmic order. Thus, in Aristotle, the behaviour of the elements is explained as one explains the function of organisms in a living organism.
One of the principal lessons of The Concept of Law is that legal systems are not only comprised of rules, but founded on them as well. As Hart painstakingly showed, we cannot account for the way in which we talk and think about the law - that is, as an institution which persists over time despite turnover of officials, imposes duties and confers powers, enjoys supremacy over other kinds of practices, resolves doubts and disagreements about what is to be done (...) in a community and so on - without supposing that it is at bottom regulated by what he called the secondary rules of recognition, change and adjudication. Given this incontrovertible demonstration that every legal system must contain rules constituting its foundation, it might seem puzzling that many philosophers have contested Hart's view. In particular, they have objected to his claim that every legal system contains a rule of recognition. More surprisingly, these critiques span different jurisprudential schools. Positivists such as Joseph Raz, as well as natural lawyers such as Ronald Dworkin and John Finnis, have been among Hart's most vocal critics. In this essay, I would like to examine the opposition to the rule of recognition. What is objectionable about Hart's doctrine? Why deny that every legal system necessarily contains a rule setting out the criteria of legal validity? And are these objections convincing? Does the rule of recognition actually exist? This essay has five parts. In Part One, I try to state Hart's doctrine of the rule of recognition with some precision. As we will see, this task is not simple, insofar as Hart's position on this crucial topic is often frustratingly unclear. I also explore in this part whether the United States Constitution, or any of its provisions, can be considered the Hartian rule of recognition for the United States legal system. In Part Two, I attempt to detail the many roles that the rule of recognition plays within Hart's theory of law. In addition to the function that Hart explicitly assigned to it, namely, the resolution of normative uncertainty within a community, I argue that the rule of recognition, and the secondary rules more generally, also account for the law's dexterity, efficiency, normativity, continuity, persistence, supremacy, independence, identity, validity, content and existence. In Part Three, I examine three important challenges to Hart's doctrine of the rule of recognition. They are: 1) Hart's rule of recognition is under- and over-inclusive; 2) Hart cannot explain how social practices are capable of generating rules that confer powers and impose duties and hence cannot account for the normativity of law; 3) Hart cannot explain how disagreements about the criteria of legal validity that occur within actual legal systems, such as in American law, are possible. In Parts Four and Five, I address these various objections. I argue that although Hart's particular account of the rule of recognition is flawed and should be rejected, a related notion can be fashioned and should be substituted in its place. The idea, roughly, is to treat the rule of recognition as a shared plan which sets out the constitutional order of a legal system. As I try to show, understanding the rule of recognition in this new way allows the legal positivist to overcome the challenges lodged against Hart's version while still retaining the power of the original idea. (shrink)
This article addresses the following problems: What is a mechanism, how can it be discovered, and what is the role of the knowledge of mechanisms in scientific explanation and technological control? The proposed answers are these. A mechanism is one of the processes in a concrete system that makes it what it is for example, metabolism in cells, interneuronal connections in brains, work in factories and offices, research in laboratories, and litigation in courts of law. Because mechanisms are largely (...) or totally imperceptible, they must be conjectured. Once hypothesized they help explain, because a deep scientific explanation is an answer to a question of the form, "How does it work, that is, what makes it tickwhat are its mechanisms?" Thus, by contrast with the subsumption of particulars under a generalization, an explanation proper consists in unveiling some lawful mechanism, as when political stability is explained by either coercion, public opinion manipulation, or democratic participation. Finding mechanisms satisfies not only the yearning for understanding, but also the need for control. Key Words: explanation function mechanism process system systemism. (shrink)
Does synesthesia undermine representationalism? Gregg Rosenberg (2004) argues that it does. On his view, synesthesia illustrates how phenomenal properties can vary independently of representational properties. So, for example, he argues that sound/color synesthetic experiences show that visual experiences do not always represent spatial properties. I will argue that the representationalist can plausibly answer Rosenberg.
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear (...) on the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
In his recent book The Stream of Consciousness, Dainton provides what must surely count as one of the most comprehensive discussions of time-consciousness in analytical philosophy. In the course of doing so, he also challenges Husserl's classical account in a number of ways. In the following contribution, I will compare Dainton's and Husserl's respective accounts. Such a comparison will not only make it evident why an analysis of time-consciousness is so important, but will also provide a neat opportunity to appraise (...) the contemporary relevance of Husserl's analysis. How does it measure up against one of the more recent analytical accounts? (shrink)
Falsehood can preclude knowledge in many ways. A false proposition cannot be known. A false ground can prevent knowledge of a truth, or so we argue, but not every false ground deprives its subject of knowledge. A falsehood that is not a ground for belief can also prevent knowledge of a truth. This paper provides a systematic account of just when falsehood precludes knowledge, and hence when it does not. We present the paper as an approach to the Gettier (...) problem and arrive at a relatively simple theory with virtues linked to several issues at the heart of contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
Composition as Identity is the view that, in some sense, a whole is numerically identical with its parts. Compositional universalism is the view that, whenever there are some things, there is a whole composed of those things. Despite the claims of many philosophers, these views are logically independent. Here, I will show that composition as identity does not entail compositional universalism.
Following hints in the writings of Isaiah Berlin, some political theorists hold that the thesis of value pluralism is true and that this truth provides support for political liberalism of a sort that prescribes wide guarantees of individual liberty.1 There are many different goods, and they are incommensurable. Hence, people should be left free to live their own lives as they choose so long as they don’t harm others in certain ways. In a free society there is a strong presumption (...) in favor of letting individuals act as they choose without interference by others. William A. Galston has developed this argument with exemplary clarity.2 He is wrong. The idea that value incommensurability is a reason for toleration of diverse ways of life and protection of the individual’s freedom to choose among diverse ways of life is a mistake. In his paper for this volume, What Value Pluralism Means for Legal Constitutional Orders, Galston undertakes to resolve a further problem, namely, whether the presumption in favor of individual liberty that value pluralism establishes can be kept within bounds. In his words, “Within the pluralist framework, how is the basis for a viable political <span class='Hi'>community</span> to be secured?”3 On one construal of these words, Galston is seeking the solution to a non-problem. Value pluralism does not establish any normative presumption in favor of liberty, so the worry “does this presumption hold without limit” or, “are there good reasons that constrain it at some point”, is otiose. On another construal, Galston is addressing a different question: if most of the members of society came to believe that given value pluralism, they ought to be left free to live according to their own conception of values, then would a “decently ordered public life” be impossible to sustain?4 On the second construal, the issue being posed is a genuine empirical question, which philosophical arguments cannot answer. (shrink)
Critics of functionalism about the mind often rely on the intuition that collectivities cannot be conscious in motivating their positions. In this paper, we consider the merits of appealing to the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity. We demonstrate that collective mentality is not an affront to commonsense, and we report evidence that demonstrates that the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity is, to some extent, culturally specific rather (...) than universally held. This being the case, we argue that mere appeal to the intuitive implausibility of collective consciousness does not offer any genuine insight into the nature of mentality in general, nor the nature of consciousness in particular. (shrink)
Metaethical expressivists claim that we can explain what moral words like ‘wrong’ mean without having to know what they are about – but rather by saying what it is to think that something is wrong – namely, to disapprove of it. Given the close connection between expressivists’ theory of the meaning of moral words and our attitudes of approval and disapproval, expressivists have had a hard time shaking the intuitive charge that theirs is an objectionably subjectivist or mind-dependent view of (...) morality. Expressivism, critics have charged over and again, is committed to the view that what is wrong somehow depends on or at least correlates with the attitudes that we have toward it. Arguments to this effect are sometimes subtle, and sometimes rely on fancy machinery, but they all share a common flaw. They all fail to respect the fundamental idea of expressivism: that ‘stealing is wrong’ bears exactly the same relationship to disapproval of stealing as ‘grass is green’ bears to the belief that grass is green. In this paper I rehearse the motivations for the fundamental idea of expressivism and show how the arguments of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit , Russ Shafer-Landau , Jussi Suikkanen , and Christopher Peacocke  all fail on this same rock. In part 1 I’ll rehearse the motivation for expressivism – a motivation which directly explains why it does not have subjectivist consequences. Then in each of parts 2-5 I’ll illustrate how each of Jackson and Pettit’s, Peacocke’s, Shafer-Landau’s, and Suikkanen’s arguments work, respectively, and why each of them fails to respect the fundamental parity at the heart of expressivism. Though others have tried before me to explain why expressivism is not committed to any kind of subjectivism or mind-dependence – prominently including Blackburn , , Horgan and Timmons , and, in response to Pettit and Jackson, Dreier  and Smith and Stoljar , the explanation offered in this article is distinguished by its scope and generality.. (shrink)
This paper considers the meaning and use of the English particle man . It is shown that the particle does quite different things when it appears in sentence-initial and sentence-final position; the first use involves expression of an emotional attitude as well as, on a particular intonation, intensification; this use is analyzed using a semantics for degree predicates along with a separate dimension for the expressive aspect. Further restrictions on modification with the sentence-initial particle involving monotonicity and evidence are (...) introduced and analyzed. The sentence-final use can be viewed as strengthening the action performed by the sentence. A formal semantics is given by making use of dynamic techniques and, in a sense, dynamically simulating the modification of certain speech acts. Some empirical and theoretical extensions of the analyses are proposed and some consequences discussed. (shrink)
The last 15 years or so has seen the development of a fascinating new area of cognitive science: the cognitive science of religion (CSR). Scientists in this field aim to explain religious beliefs and various other religious human activities by appeal to basic cognitive structures that all humans possess. The CSR scientific theories raise an interesting philosophical question: do they somehow show that religious belief, more specifically belief in a god of some kind, is irrational? In this paper I investigate (...) this question and argue that CSR does not show that belief in god is irrational. (shrink)
How Does the Environment Affect the Person? Mark H. Bickhard invited chapter in Children's Development within Social Contexts: Metatheoretical, Theoretical and Methodological Issues, Erlbaum. edited by L. T. Winegar, J. Valsiner, in press.
In a recent paper S. McCall adds another link to a chain of attempts to enlist Gödel’s incompleteness result as an argument for the thesis that human reasoning cannot be construed as being carried out by a computer.1 McCall’s paper is undermined by a technical oversight. My concern however is not with the technical point. The argument from Gödel’s result to the no-computer thesis can be made without following McCall’s route; it is then straighter and more forceful. Yet the argument (...) fails in an interesting and revealing way. And it leaves a remainder: if some computer does in fact simulate all our mathematical reasoning, then, in principle, we cannot fully grasp how it works. Gödel’s result also points out a certain essential limitation of self-reflection. The resulting picture parallels, not accidentally, Davidson’s view of psychology, as a science that in principle must remain “imprecise”, not fully spelt out. What is intended here by “fully grasp”, and how all this is related to self-reflection, will become clear at the end of this comment. (shrink)
Abstract: “Consciousness” seems to be a polysemic, ambiguous, term. Because of this, theorists have sought to distinguish the different kinds of phenomena that “consciousness” denotes, leading to a proliferation of terms for different kinds of consciousness. However, some philosophers—univocalists about consciousness—argue that “consciousness” is not polysemic or ambiguous. By drawing upon the history of philosophy and psychology, and some resources from semantic theory, univocalism about consciousness is shown to be implausible. This finding is important, for if we accept the univocalist (...) account then we are less likely to subject our thought and talk about the mind to the kind of critical analysis that it needs. The exploration of the semantics of “consciousness” offered here, by way of contrast, clarifies and fine-tunes our thought and talk about consciousness and conscious mentality and explains why “consciousness” means what it does, and why it means a number of different, but related, things. (shrink)
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by difficulties in social interaction (APA, 2000). Successful social interaction relies, in part, on determining the thoughts and feelings of others, an ability commonly attributed to our faculty of folk or common-sense psychology. Because the symptoms of autism should be present by around the second birthday, it follows that the study of autism should tell us something about the early emerging mechanisms necessary for the development of an intact faculty of folk psychology. Our aims (...) in this chapter are threefold; (1) to examine the literature on "socialunderstanding" mechanisms in autism, particularly those assumed to develop in the first years of life; (2) to examine the related literature on typically developing infants and toddlers, and (3) to examine the theoretical approaches that attempt to characterize the early stages and development of this impressive skill. In doing so, we hope to help resolve some of the disagreements and sticking points that riddle the topic. In particular we will attempt to shift the focus from whether children have this or that specific mental-state concept (which they use to predict behavior of others) to a more developmentally friendly approach centered around the notion of reasons, recognizing that they may well exist before they are represented, and hence before they can be appreciated, or expressed. The peer commentary in Behavioral and Brain Sciences following Premack and Woodruff (1978) - "Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind'" - not only introduced the "falsebelief' task (Dennett, 1978; Wimmer & Perner, 1983), but addressed a host of issues surrounding the characterization of second-order intentional systems, systems that may (or must) be interpreted as having beliefs about beliefs (or desires or intentions .... (shrink)
Non-moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one's action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one's beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on (...) which many agents who act wrongly are blameworthy despite believing they are acting morally permissibly, and despite not having mismanaged their moral beliefs.1. (shrink)
Quine claims that holism (i.e., the Quine-Duhem thesis) prevents us from defining synonymy and analyticity (section 2). In Word and Object, he dismisses a notion of synonymy which works well even if holism is true. The notion goes back to a proposal from Grice and Strawson and runs thus: R and S are synonymous iff for all sentences T we have that the logical conjunction of R and T is stimulus-synonymous to that of S and T. Whereas Grice and Strawson (...) did not attempt to defend this definition, I try to show that it indeed gives us a satisfactory account of synonymy. Contrary to Quine, the notion is tighter than stimulus-synonymy – particularly when applied to sentences with less than critical semantic mass (section 3). Now according to Quine, analyticity could be defined in terms of synonymy, if synonymy were to make sense: A sentence is analytic iff synonymous to self-conditionals. This leads us to the following notion of analyticity: S is analytic iff, for all sentences T, the logical conjunction of S and T is stimulus-synonymous to T; an analytic sentence does not change the semantic mass of any theory to which it may be conjoined (section 4). This notion is tighter than Quine's stimulus-analyticity; unlike stimulus-analyticity, it does not apply to those sentences from the very center of our theories which can be assented to come what may, even though they are not synthetic in the intuitive sense (section 5). Conclusion: We can have well-defined notions of synonymy and analyticity even if we embrace Quine's holism, naturalism, behaviorism, and radical translation. Quine's meaning skepticism is to be repudiated on Quinean grounds. (shrink)
In seeking to answer the question "How does that which is other become evil?" the author provides a discussion of four entwined aspects of the issue at stake: (1) difficulty in achieving clarity on the grammar of evil; (2) genocide as a striking illustration of otherness becoming evil; (3) the challenge of postnationalism as a resource for dealing with otherness in the socio-political arena; and (4) the ethico-religious dimension as it relates to the wider problem of evil.
The traditional approach to the abortion debate revolves around numerous issues, such as whether the fetus is a person, whether the fetus has rights, and more. Don Marquis suggests that this traditional approach leads to a standoff and that the abortion debate “requires a different strategy.” Hence his “future of value” strategy, which is summarized as follows: (1) A normal fetus has a future of value. (2) Depriving a normal fetus of a future of value imposes a misfortune on it. (...) (3) Imposing a misfortune on a normal fetus is prima facie wrong. (4) Therefore, depriving a normal fetus of a future of value is prima facie wrong. (5) Killing a normal fetus deprives it of a future of value. (6) Therefore, killing a normal fetus is prima facie wrong. In this paper, I argue that Marquis’s strategy is not different since it involves the concept of person—a concept deeply rooted in the traditional approach. Specifically, I argue that futures are valuable insofar as they are not only dominated by goods of consciousness, but are experienced by psychologically continuous persons. Moreover, I argue that his strategy is not sound since premise (1) is false. Specifically, I argue that a normal fetus, at least during the first trimester, is not a person. Thus, during that stage of development it is not capable of experiencing its future as a psychologically continuous person and, hence, it does not have a future of value. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish interpretations of the question ``How fast does time pass?’’ that are important for the debate over the reality of objective becoming from interpretations that are not. Then I discuss how one theory that incorporates objective becoming—the moving spotlight theory of time—answers this question. It turns out that there are several ways to formulate the moving spotlight theory of time. One formulation says that time passes but it makes no sense to ask how fast; another (...) formulation says that time passes at one second per supersecond; and a third says that time passes at one second per second. I defend the intelligibility of this final version of the theory. (shrink)
The relations between rationality and optimization have been widely discussed in the wake of Herbert Simon's work, with the common conclusion that the rationality concept does not imply the optimization principle. The paper is partly concerned with adding evidence for this view, but its main, more challenging objective is to question the converse implication from optimization to rationality, which is accepted even by bounded rationality theorists. We discuss three topics in succession: (1) rationally defensible cyclical choices, (2) the revealed (...) preference theory of optimization, and (3) the infinite regress of optimization. We conclude that (1) and (2) provide evidence only for the weak thesis that rationality does not imply optimization. But (3) is seen to deliver a significant argument for the strong thesis that optimization does not imply rationality. (shrink)
Studies of normal individuals reveal an asymmetry in the folk concept of intentional action: an action is more likely to be thought of as intentional when it is morally bad than when it is morally good. One interpretation of these results comes from the hypothesis that emotion plays a critical mediating role in the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status. According to this hypothesis, the negative emotional response triggered by a morally bad action drives the attribution (...) of intent to the actor, or the judgment that the actor acted intentionally. We test this hypothesis by presenting cases of morally bad and morally good action to seven individuals with deficits in emotional processing resulting from damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC). If normal emotional processing is necessary for the observed asymmetry, then individuals with VMPC lesions should show no asymmetry. Our results provide no support for this hypothesis: like normal individuals, those with VMPC lesions showed the same asymmetry, tending to judge that an action was intentional when it was morally bad but not when it was morally good. Based on this finding, we suggest that normal emotional processing is not responsible for the observed asymmetry of intentional attributions and thus does not mediate the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status. (shrink)
Fundamental to Quine’s philosophy of logic is the thesis that substitutional quantification does not express existence. This paper considers the content of this claim and the reasons for thinking it is true.
forthcoming in reisner and steglich-peterson, eds., Reasons for Belief If I believe, for no good reason, that P and I infer (correctly) from this that Q, I don’t think we want to say that I ‘have’ P as evidence for Q. Only things that I believe (or could believe) rationally, or perhaps, with justification, count as part of the evidence that I have. It seems to me that this is a good reason to include an epistemic acceptability constraint on evidence (...) possessed…1 It is a truism that adopting an unjustified belief does not put you in a better evidential position with respect to believing its consequences. This truism has led many philosophers to assume that there must, at a minimum, be a justification condition (and perhaps even a knowledge condition) on what it takes to count as having evidence. This is the best (or only) possible explanation of the truism, these philosophers have believed. This paper explores an alternative explanation for the truism. According to the alternative explanation that I will offer, unjustified beliefs do not put you in a better evidential position with respect to believing their consequences because any evidence you have in virtue of having an unjustified belief is guaranteed to be defeated. Since the lack of justification for a belief guarantees its defeat, I will suggest, we don't need to postulate a special justification condition (much less a knowledge condition) on what it takes to count as having evidence. Why is this important? It is important because the assumption that there must be a justification condition (or perhaps a knowledge condition) on what it takes to count as having evidence places a high bar on what it takes to have evidence - such a high bar that it is difficult to see how this bar could be met in the case of basic, perceptually justified beliefs. As a result, the high bar set by this condition plays a fundamental role, I will claim, in central features of a core dialectic from the epistemology of basic perceptual belief which plays a central role in the debates between internalism and externalism, foundationalism and coherentism, and rationalism and empiricism.. (shrink)
In “What Puzzling Pierre Does not Believe”, Lewis (, 412‐4) argues that the sentences (1) Pierre believes that London is pretty and (2) Pierre believes that London is not pretty both truly describe Kripke’s well‐known situation involving puzzling Pierre (). Lewis also argues that this situation is not one according to which Pierre believes either the proposition (actually) expressed by (3) London is pretty or the proposition (actually) expressed by (4) London is not pretty. These claims, Lewis suggests, provide (...) a starting point from which a correct resolution of Kripke’s puzzles about belief () can be developed. At the end of his paper (, p. 414‐7), Lewis considers and replies to a number of potential objections to his position. According to one of these, Lewis’s contentions regarding (1)‐(4) cannot all be true because ‘believes that’ and ‘believes the proposition that’ are synonymous. Although the objection Lewis considers is unsound and his response to it correct, a minor variant of that objection provides significant reason to be skeptical of his contentions. This variant, moreover, is not persuasively addressed by anything either Lewis or any other well‐known defender of this sort of view (such as Stalnaker ) has had to say on the matter. All of this is relevant, moreover, not 2 only when it comes to assessing Lewis’s contentions regarding (1)‐ (4), but also when it comes to drawing lessons from certain standard objections to the view that the propositional objects of belief and assertion are sets of metaphysically possible worlds. (shrink)
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues that 'ought' does not entail 'can', but instead conversationally implicates it. I argue that Sinnott-Armstrong is actually committed to a hybrid view about the relation between 'ought' and 'can'. I then give a tensed formulation of the view that 'ought' entails 'can' that deals with Sinnott-Armstrong's argument and that is more unified than Sinnott-Armstrong's view.
Abstract In this paper, I ask why Aristotle thinks that ethical virtue (rather than mere self-control) is required for practical wisdom. I argue that a satisfactory answer will need to explain why being prone to bad appetites implies a failing of the rational part of the soul. I go on to claim that the self-controlled person does suffer from such a rational failing: a failure to take a specifically rational kind of pleasure in fine action. However, this still leaves (...) a problem: could there not be someone who (unlike the self-controlled person) took the right kind of pleasure in fine action, but who failed to be virtuous on account of bad appetites? If so, would such a person be practically wise but not virtuous? I end with some suggestions about how Aristotle might answer this. (shrink)
The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way is an expose of certain theoretical problems in cognitive science, and in particular, problems that concern the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). The problems that Fodor worries plague CTM divide into two kinds, and both purport to show that the success of cognitive science will likely be limited to the modules. The first sort of problem concerns what Fodor has called “global properties”; features that a mental sentence has which depend on how the (...) sentence interacts with a larger plan (i.e., set of sentences), rather than the type identity of the sentence alone. The second problem concerns what many have called, “The Relevance Problem”: the problem of whether and how humans determine what is relevant in a computational manner. However, I argue that the problem that Fodor believes global properties pose for CTM is a non-problem, and that further, while the relevance problem is a serious research issue, it does not justify the grim view that cognitive science, and CTM in particular, will likely fail to explain cognition. (shrink)
Much philosophy of logic is shaped, explicitly or implicitly, by the thought that logic is distinctively formal and abstracts from material content. The distinction between formal and material does not appear to coincide with the more familiar contrasts between a priori and empirical, necessary and contingent, analytic and synthetic—indeed, it is often invoked to explain these. Nor, it turns out, can it be explained by appeal to schematic inference patterns, syntactic rules, or grammar. What does it mean, then, (...) to say that logic is distinctively formal? (shrink)
In this article I argue that there is a sense in which logic is empirical, and hence open to influence from science. One of the roles of logic is the modelling and extending of natural language reasoning. It does so by providing a formal system which succeeds in modelling the structure of a paradigmatic set of our natural language inferences and which then permits us to extend this structure to novel cases with relative ease. In choosing the best system (...) of those that succeed in this, we seek certain virtues of such structures such as simplicity and naturalness (which will be explained). (shrink)
This paper considers the suggestion, central to McFee's (2004) moral laboratory argument, that sport is intrinsically valuable. McFee's position is outlined and critiqued and various interpretations of intrinsic value found in the philosophical literature are considered. In addition, Morgan's (2007) claim that sport is an appropriate final end is considered and partially accepted. The paper draws a number of terminological distinctions and concludes that sport does not have intrinsic value as traditionally conceived, but that this is of little consequence (...) with regard to the role of sport as a moral laboratory. (shrink)
In this paper I examine a strategy which aims to bypass the technicalities of the indispensability debate and to offer a direct route to nominalism. The starting-point for this alternative nominalist strategy is the claim that--according to the platonist picture--the existence of mathematical objects makes no difference to the concrete, physical world. My principal goal is to show that the 'Makes No Difference' (MND) Argument does not succeed in undermining platonism. The basic reason why not is that the makes-no-difference (...) claim which the argument is based on is problematic. Arguments both for and against this claim can be found in the literature; I examine three such arguments, uncovering flaws in each one. In the second half of the paper, I take a more direct approach and present an analysis of the counterfactual which underpins the makes-no-difference claim. What this analysis reveals is that indispensability considerations are in fact crucial to the proper evaluation of the MND Argument, contrary to the claims of its supporters. (shrink)
That knowledge does not depend on truth is a consequence of a basic principle concerning dependence applied to the case of knowledge: that A depends on C, and that B depends on C, do not mean that A depends on B. This is a standard causal scenario, where two things with a common cause are not themselves causally dependent. Similarly, knowledge that p depends in part on some combination of the belief that p, the fact that p and the (...) proposition that p, and perhaps other facts or even objects. Truth depends on a proper sub-class of the elements on which knowledge depends. It does not follow that knowledge depends on truth, and the idea that it does is implausible. (shrink)
This paper focuses on two key issues in Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs . It argues that Wolterstorff's theistic grounding of inherent rights is not successful. It also argues that Wolterstorff does not provide adequate criteria for determining what exactly these natural inherent rights are or criteria that can help us to evaluate competing and contradictory claims about these rights. However, most of Wolterstorff's book is not concerned with the theistic grounding of inherent rights. Instead, it is devoted (...) to a detailed and rigorous articulation of the meaning and defense of a theory of justice as consisting of inherent rights and with showing why this theory of justice is superior to the alternative right order theories that Wolterstorff criticizes. The paper concludes that these accomplishments are not diminished even if Wolterstorff has failed to provide us with a satisfactory theistic grounding of his theory. (shrink)
Does conscious reflection lead to good decision-making? Whereas engaging in reflection is traditionally thought to be the best way to make wise choices, recent psychological evidence undermines the role of reflection in lay and expert judgement. The literature suggests that thinking about reasons does not improve the choices people make, and that experts do not engage in reflection, but base their judgements on intuition, often shaped by extensive previous experience. Can we square the traditional accounts of wisdom with (...) the results of these empirical studies? Should we even attempt to? I shall defend the view that philosophy and cognitive sciences genuinely interact in tackling questions such as whether reflection leads to making wise choices. (shrink)
Not long ago, I received an email from a man who had been trying to get his seven-year-old son interested in science, and teach him a little bit about the workings of the brain. He had been showing his son one of those diagrams of a brain with various regions labeled as "speech center," vision center," and the like (something similar to this, I suppose), when the little boy suddenly asked, "Daddy, which part of the brain does imagination come (...) from?". It was not on the diagram, and the father, although he studied human biology at college, realized he did not know the answer. As we do these days, he got on the internet to try to find out. It was not as easy as he might have expected. "Imagination" is certainly a word that is found on a lot of web pages, and there are plenty that seem to be devoted to celebrating or promoting it, but very few of them seem to have anything at all to say about what it is, how it works, or where in the brain it might be implemented. Eventually, he found his way to this site. Even here, however, he could find no straightforward answer to his son's apparently straightforward question. (The truth is, the question is not nearly as straightforward as it appears.) He thought I might be a good a person to ask, however, and sent me an email. What follows is a lightly revised version of the reply I sent. It is not written in terms that a seven-year-old could understand (I am not clever enough to do that), but neither is it pitched at the professional, academic level of most of the material on this site. I would like to think that it answers the question (inasmuch as it can be answered in the current state of scientific knowledge) in a way that a layperson should be able to understand, and that they might then be able to explain to a curious and intelligent child. If you want to know the detailed reasons, and see the citations to the scientific literature, that justify the claims made here, you can find them in the other articles on this site.. (shrink)
Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis (SMH) is a prominent neuroscientific hypothesis about the mechanisms implementing decision-making. This paper argues that, since its inception, the SMH has not been clearly formulated. It is possible to identify at least two different hypotheses, which make different predictions: SMH-G, which claims that somatic states generally implement preferences and are needed to make a decision; and SMH-S, which specifically claims that somatic states assist decision-making by anticipating the long-term outcomes of available options. This paper also argues (...) that neither hypothesis is adequately supported empirically; the task originally proposed to test SMH is not a good test for SMH-S, and its results do not support SMH-G either. In addition, it is not clear how SMH-G could be empirically invalidated, given its general formulation. Suggestions are made that could help provide evidence for SMH-S, and make SMH-G more specific. 1 Introduction 2 Two Hypotheses: Somatic Markers as Embodied Preferences, and as a Source of Farsightedness 3 Lack of Evidence for Somatic Farsightedness 4 Does Making Decisions Require Somatic Markers, and can it be Shown in the Laboratory? 5 Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In his paper "A Confutation of Convergent Realism", Larry Laudan offered one of the most powerful criticisms of scientific realism. I defend here that although Laudan's criticism is right, this does not refute the realist position. The thesis that Laudan confutes is a much stronger thesis than realist needs to maintain. As I will exemplify with Salmon's statistical-relevance model, a less strict notion of explanation would allow us to claim that (approximate) truth is the best explanation for such success, (...) even if it is accepted that there can be cases of unsuccessful (approximately) true theories and cases of successful false theories. (shrink)
Philosophers of action tend to take for granted the concept of basic actions – actions that are done at will, or directly – as opposed to others that are performed in other ways. This concept does foundational work in action theory; many theorists, especially causalists, take part of their task to be showing that normal, complex actions necessarily stem from basic ones somehow. The case for the concept of basic actions is driven by a family of observations and a (...) cluster of closely related anti-infinite regress arguments. I review this case in the work of Arthur Danto, Donald Davidson, and Jennifer Hornsby – three of the most important developers of the concept – and find it lacking. I conclude by sketching the possibility of non-foundationalist action theory. (shrink)
In this paper I am concerned with two questions: What is sexist humor? and what is wrong with it? To answer the first question, I briefly develop a theory of humor and then characterize sexist humor as humor in which sexist beliefs (attitudes/norms) are presupposed and are necessary to the fun. Concerning the second question, I criticize a common sort of argument that is supposed to explain why sexist humor is offensive: although the argument explains why sexist humor feels offensive, (...) it does not place responsibility for the offense in the humorist or audience that enjoys sexist humor. I develop an alternate account of the offense in sexist humor that places responsibility for offense in precisely those quarters. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to show, by considering a number of sources, including Wittgenstein, Sartre, Thomas Nagel and Spinoza, but also adding something crucial of my own, that it is impossible to construe the subject of experience as an object among other objects in the world. My own added argument is the following. The subject of experience cannot move in time along with material events and processes or it could not be aware of the passage of time, hence neither (...) of change nor of motion. The subject cannot therefore be identified with any neural process, function, or location since whatever goes on in the CNS is necessarily objective and part of the temporal flux. However this does not imply any form of dualism for experiences exist only for the subject whose experiences they are and hence they have no objective reality. (shrink)
In 1997, David Armstrong argued that the world is a world of states of affairs. In his latest book, Truth and Truthmakers, he remains strongly committed to the existence of states of affairs, despite now advocating an ontology in which they are not needed, 'as an ontological extra'. States of affairs remain needed, Armstrong says, 'to act as truthmakers for predicative truths'. In this paper, I attempt to shed light on what Armstrong might mean by this claim. While there is (...) a straightforward sense in which states of affairs are not needed in Armstrong's amended ontology, I suggest that Armstrong might be charitably interpreted in a manner that justifies his claim. However, in clarifying the manner in which states of affairs remain needed in Armstrong's ontology, it becomes unclear whether they are needed in any 'deep' sense, or rather are merely parochial to his ontology. I examine Armstrong's rejection of Resemblance Nominalism on the grounds that it does not provide adequate 'minimal' truthmakers. I then argue that he has significant additional work to do in explaining this concept before his rejection of Resemblance Nominalism can be justified, and thus before the need for states of affairs can be asserted generally, rather than just within particular ontologies, such as Armstrong's amended one. (shrink)
Does quantum mechanics clash with the equivalence principle—and does it matter? Content Type Journal Article Pages 133-145 DOI 10.1007/s13194-010-0009-z Authors Elias Okon, Philosophy Department, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA, 92093, USA Craig Callender, Philosophy Department, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA, 92093, USA Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 1.
In his discussion of pleasure, Aristotle assumes the thesis that a perfect activity always and necessarily yields pleasure. The occurrence of pleasure is even presented as a sign that the activity is perfect. But this assumption seems to be too easy. It is possible that we do feel pleasure in activities which are not perfectly performed, and on the other hand, it is not certain at all that I will enjoy a perfect activity. Pleasure falls into the category of what (...) J. Elster has called 'states that are essentially by-products'. Up to a point, Aristotle acknowledges this, but he does not follow this analysis to its final consequences. If one agrees, as Aristotle does, that there is a difference between the perfect activity and pleasure, it should be possible that an activity is perfect without yielding pleasure, or that pleasure will accompany even an activity which is not perfect. (shrink)
Questions about the function(s) of consciousness have long been central to discussions of consciousness in philosophy and psychology. Intuitively, consciousness has an important role to play in the control of many everyday behaviors. However, this view has recently come under attack. In particular, it is becoming increasingly common for scientists and philosophers to argue that a significant body of data emerging from cognitive science shows that conscious states are not involved in the control of behavior. According to these theorists, nonconscious (...) states control most everyday behaviors. Andy Clark () does an admirable job of summarizing and defending the most important data thought to support this view. In this paper, I argue that the evidence available does not in fact threaten the view that conscious states play an important and intimate role in the control of much everyday behavior. I thereby defend a philosophically intuitive view about the functions of conscious states in action. (shrink)
One objection to enhancement technologies is that they might lead us to live inauthentic lives. Memory modification technologies (MMTs) raise this worry in a particularly acute manner. In this paper I describe four scenarios where the use of MMTs might be said to lead to an inauthentic life. I then undertake to justify that judgment. I review the main existing accounts of authenticity, and present my own version of what I call a “true self” account (intended as a complement, rather (...) than a substitute, to existing accounts). I briefly describe current and prospective MMTs, distinguishing between memory enhancement and memory editing . Moving then to an assessment of the initial scenarios in the light of the accounts previously described, I argue that memory enhancement does not, by its very nature, raise serious concerns about authenticity. The main threat to authenticity posed by MMTs comes, I suggest, from memory editing. Rejecting as inadequate the worries about identity raised by the President’s Council on Bioethics in Beyond Therapy , I argue instead that memory editing can cause us to live an inauthentic life in two main ways: first, by threatening its truthfulness, and secondly, by interfering with our disposition to respond in certain ways to some past events, when we have reasons to respond in such ways. This consideration allows us to justify the charge of inauthenticity in cases where existing accounts fail. It also gives us a significant moral reason not to use MMTs in ways that would lead to such an outcome. (shrink)
The extended mind hypothesis (EMH) is the claim that the mind can and does extend beyond the human body. Adams and Aizawa (A&A) contend that arguments for EMH commit a ‘coupling constitution fallacy’. We deny that the master argument for EMH commits such a fallacy. But we think that there is an important question lurking behind A&A's allegation: under what conditions is cognition spread across a tightly coupled system? Building on some suggestions from Haugeland, we contend that the system (...) must exhibit a distinctive sort of semantic activity, semantic activity that the system as a whole takes responsibility for. (shrink)
In a 2010 article Turri puts forward some powerful considerations which suggest that Williamson's view of knowledge as the most general factive mental state is false. Turri claims that this view is false since it is false that if S sees that p, then S knows that p. Turri argues that there are cases in which (A) S sees that p but (B) S does not know that p. In response I offer linguistic evidence to suppose that in propositional (...) contexts “see” does not have the sort of meaning (a purely perceptual meaning) which would sustain Turri's claims about the cases he offers (specifically, the (A) verdicts). (shrink)
Recent empirical research seems to show that emotions play a substantial role in moral judgment. Perhaps the most important line of support for this claim focuses on disgust. A number of philosophers and scientists argue that there is adequate evidence showing that disgust significantly influences various moral judgments. And this has been used to support or undermine a range of philosophical theories, such as sentimentalism and deontology. I argue that the existing evidence does not support such arguments. At best (...) it suggests something rather different: that moral judgment can have a minor emotive function, in addition to a substantially descriptive one. (shrink)
Winner of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain Student Essay Competition 20091The competition question ‘What Does It Mean To Be An Educated Person?’ is associated with a powerful and influential line of thought in the philosophy of R. S. Peters. It is a question that needs always to be asked again. I respond by asking what it means, now, to be an educated person—that is, how the value of being an educated person is currently understood, and, further, (...) how it might be understood differently. The starting point of this paper then is not exactly the question of how we should best conceive of education, or of the educated person, in terms, for example, of initiation or of moral development. Instead I am concerned with who the supposedly educated person is today, according to the particular discourses and practices to which we are subject. I begin, then, by outlining the notion of the entrepreneurial self from the perspective of governmentality, with particular reference to questions of economy and the way in which the economic imperative is present in current policy. I then reconsider the idea of the educated person with reference to notions of economy and visibility as these relate to ideas of education and the self in Plato's The Republic. Discussion of readings of The Republic and of other texts of Plato by Stanley Cavell and Michel Foucault indicates how prevailing constructions of knowledge, practice, and subjectivity might be resisted. The question of what it means to be an educated person is thereby released from a particular mode of accounting for the self. (shrink)
The aim of this article is twofold. First, it is argued that while the principle of ‘ought implies can’ is certainly plausible in some form, it is tempting to misconstrue it, and that this has happened in the way it has been taken up in some of the current literature. Second, Kant's understanding of the principle is considered. Here it is argued that these problematic conceptions put the principle to work in a way that Kant does not, so that (...) there is an important divergence here which can easily be overlooked. (shrink)
On two standard views of vagueness, vagueness as to whether Harry is bald entails that nobody knows whether Harry is bald—either because vagueness is a type of missing truth, and so there is nothing to know, or because vagueness is a type of ignorance, and so even though there is a truth of the matter, nobody can know what that truth is. Vagueness as to whether Harry is bald does entail that nobody clearly knows that Harry is bald and (...) that nobody clearly knows that Harry is not bald. But it does not entail that nobody knows that Harry is bald or that nobody knows that Harry is not bald. Hence, the two standard views of vagueness aremistaken. (shrink)
We consider a seemingly popular justification (we call it the Re-flexivity Defense) for the third derivability condition of the Hilbert-Bernays-Löb generalization of Godel's Second Incompleteness Theorem (G2). We argue that (i) in certain settings (rouglily, those where the representing theory of an arithmetization is allowed to be a proper subtheory of the represented theory), use of the Reflexivity Defense to justify the tliird condition induces a fourth condition, and that (ii) the justification of this fourth condition faces serious obstacles. We (...) conclude that, in the types of settings mentioned, the Reflexivity Defense does not justify the usual ‘reading’ of G2—namely, that the consistency of the represented theory is not provable in the representing theory. (shrink)
Should the hard questions of philosophy matter to ordinary people? In this down-to-earth, nonhistorical guide, Thomas Nagel, the distinguished author of Mortal Questions and The View From Nowhere, brings philosophical problems to life, revealing in vivid, accessible prose why they have continued to fascinate and baffle thinkers across the centuries. Arguing that the best way to learn about philosophy is to tackle its problems head-on, Nagel turns to some of the most important questions we can ask about ourselves. Do we (...) really have free will? Why should we be moral? What is the relation between our minds and our brains? Is there life after death? How should we feel about death? In a universe so vast, billions of light years across, can anything we do with our lives really matter? And does it matter if it doesn't matter? These are perennial questions we ask about the human condition, and Nagel probes them, and others like them, thoughtfully, clearly, and with humor. He states his own opinions freely but with refreshing modesty, always leaving it open to readers to entertain other solutions, encouraging them to think for themselves. Nagel is eminently qualified to introduce the uninitiated to the world of philosophical inquiry. Singled out by the Chicago Literary Review as "one of the sharpest analytic philosophers in America today," he has been praised in the New York Times Book Review for writing "sensitively and elegantly" and in the Times Literary Supplement for his ability, rare among philosophers, to combine "profundity with clarity and simplicity of expression." Never rarefied, What Does It All Mean? opens our eyes to a side of the world we rarely consider, demonstrating that philosophy is no empty study but an indispensable key to understanding our lives. It challenges us to think hard and clearly, to ask questions, to try out ideas and raise possible objections to them--in short, to become philosophers ourselves. (shrink)
I describe a case involving two countries at war, Benevolentia and Malevoran. Malevoran is an unjust aggressor, which does not follow the requirements of the prevailing morality of warfare. The leadership and army of Benevolentia closely follow those requirements, and as a direct result Benevolentia loses. I claim that this is a reductio of the prevailing morality of warfare: in the victory of Malevoran over Benevolentia morality has lost. I draw some tentative conclusions concerning the morality of warfare, and (...) urge that we need to gain a richer understanding of what it means for morality to win, see this as a distinct and important moral consideration, and think afresh how morality can triumph much more often. (shrink)
Hodgkin and Huxley’s 1952 model of the action potential is an apparent dream case of covering-law explanation. The model appeals to general laws of physics and chemistry (specifically, Ohm’s law and the Nernst equation), and the laws, coupled with details about antecedent and background conditions, entail many of the significant properties of the action potential. However, Hodgkin and Huxley insist that their model falls short of an explanation. This historical fact suggests either that there is more to explaining the action (...) potential than subsuming it under a general laws or that Hodgkin and Huxley were wrong about the explanatory import of their model. In this paper, I defend Hodgkin and Huxley’s view that their model alone does not explain the action potential (contra Weber 2005). I argue further that neuroscientists lacked crucial explanatory details about the action potential until they could describe the molecular and ionic mechanisms by virtue of which their model holds (see Bogen 2005). Mathematical generalizations are important epistemic tools for assessing mechanistic explanations, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient for adequate explanations, even at the lowest levels of organization where biological phenomena are integrated with physics and chemistry. (shrink)
Determining whether the law of excluded middle requires bivalence depends upon whether we are talking about sentences or propositions. If we are talking about sentences, neither side has a decisive case. If we are talking of propositions, there is a strong argument on the side of those who say the excluded middle does require bivalence. I argue that all challenges to this argument can be met.
In his recent article ‘Consciousness and Reduction’, Ausonio Marras argues that functional reduction must appeal to bridge laws and thus does not represent a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. In response, I first argue that even if functional reduction must use bridge laws, it still represents a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. Further, I argue that Marras does not succeed in showing that functional reduction must use bridge laws. Introduction Nagelian Reduction, Functional Reduction, and Bridge Laws Marras on (...) Functional Reduction The Logical Space of ‘Bridge Law’ Views of Reduction [RP] as an Account of Realization Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
: Debates about commodification in bioethics frequently appeal to Kant's famous second formulation of the categorical imperative, the formula requiring us to treat the rational (human) being as "an end in itself" and "never as a means only." In the course of her own treatment of commodification, Margaret Jane Radin observes that Kant's application of this formula "does not generate noncontroversial particular consequences." This is so, I argue, because Kant offers three different--and largely incompatible--interpretations of the formula. One focuses (...) on the obligation to preserve rational willing; the second stresses respect for human (physical) dignity and integrity; the third views respect for others as "ends in themselves" as primarily involving a willingness to govern one's conduct by a procedure of impartial co-legislation. Only the third of these interpretations, I conclude, offers a reasonable and coherent approach to moral judgment about the limits of commodification. (shrink)
According to Antonia Barkes version of contextualism, epistemic contextualism, a context is defined by a method and its associated assumptions. The subject has to make the assumption that the method is adequate or reliable and that good working conditions hold in order to arrive at knowledge by employing the method. I will criticize Barkes claim that epistemic contextualism can provide a more satisfactory explanation or motivation for context shifts than conversational contextualism (in particular, David Lewiss contextualism). Two more points of (...) criticizm will be presented, which are meant to show that epistemic contextualism presupposes epistemic internalism, and that (epistemic) contextualism leads to an implausible view about which parameters the special achievement that is constitutive of knowledge depends on. I suggest that, contra (epistemic) contextualism, knowledge is a more robust phenomenon that does not depend on whether anyone calls into question any assumptions or raises skeptical doubts in conversation or in his or her mind (as, for example, Fred Dretskes account says). I indicate how this can be reconciled with the phenomenon that knowledge attributions are somewhat unstable and seemingly context-dependent. (shrink)
This article accomplishes two closely connected things. First, it refutes an influential view about the relationship between perception and knowledge. In particular, it demonstrates that perceiving does not entail knowing. Second, it leverages that refutation to demonstrate that knowledge is not the most general factive propositional attitude.
Following Aristotle (who himself was following Parmenides), philosophers have appealed to the distributional reflexes of expressions in determining their semantic status, and ultimately, the nature of the extra-linguistic world. This methodology has been practiced throughout the history of philosophy; it was clarified and made popular by the likes of Zeno Vendler and J.L. Austin, and is realized today in the toolbox of linguistically minded philosophers. Studying the syntax of natural language was fueled by the belief that there is a conceptually (...) tight connection between the syntax of our language and its semantics, and the belief that there is a similarly tight connection between the semantics of our language and metaphysical facts about the world. We are less confident than our colleagues about the relation syntax has to semantics and metaphysics. In particular, we do not believe that the current status of theoretical syntax (or semantics or metaphysics) provides much support for either of the above two beliefs. We will illustrate our view with a case study regarding the status of complex demonstratives. We will show that a recent and particularly subtle syntactically based argument for the semantic/metaphysical status of complex demonstratives does not in fact show what semantic category complex demonstratives are in. Since the devil always lies in the details, we cannot extract a general method for undermining any argument that is similar in spirit. However, our case study will act as a cautionary note against any theory that attempts to derive important philosophical consequences from the shapes of sentences. (shrink)
Moral cognitivism, internalism about moral judgements, and Humeanism about motivating reasons all possess attractions.Yet they cannot all be true.This is the so-called moral problem. Dancy offers an interesting particularist response to the moral problem. However, we argue that this response, first, provides an inadequate basis for the distinction between motivating states and states necessary for motivation although not themselves motivators; second, draws no support from considerations about weakness of the will; and third, involves an implausible account of desire.We conclude that (...) particularism ú whatever other attractions it may have ú does not solve the moral problem. (shrink)
Are we perhaps in the "matrix", or anyway, victims of perfect and permanent computer simulation? No. The most convincing—and shortest—version of Putnam's argument against the possibility of our eternal envattment is due to Crispin Wright (1994). It avoids most of the misunderstandings that have been elicited by Putnam's original presentation of the argument in "Reason, Truth and History" (1981). But it is still open to the charge of question-begging. True enough, the premisses of the argument (disquotation and externalism) can be (...) formulated and defended without presupposing external objects whose existence appears doubtful in the light of the very skeptical scenario which Putnam wants to repudiate. However, the argument is only valid if we add an extra premiss as to the existence of some external objects. In order to avoid circularity, we should run the argument with external objects which must exist even if we are brains in a vat, e.g. with computers rather than with trees. As long as the skeptic is engaged in a discussion of the brain-in-a-vat scenario, she should neither deny the existence of computers nor the existence of causal relations; for if she does, she is in fact denying that we are brains in a vat. (shrink)
I argue that intentional psychology does not stand in need of vindication by a lower-level implementation theory from cognitive science, in particular the representational theory of mind (RTM), as most famously Jerry Fodor has argued. The stance of the paper is novel in that I claim this holds even if one, in line with Fodor, views intentional psychology as an empirical theory, and its theoretical posits as as real as those of other sciences. I consider four metaphysical arguments for (...) the idea that intentional psychological states, such as beliefs, must be seen as requiring in-the-head mental representations for us to be able to understand their characteristic causal powers and argue that none of them validly generate their desired conclusions. I go on to argue that RTM, or some computational version thereof, is not motivated by appeal to the nature of cognitive science research either. I conclude that intentional psychology, though an empirical theory, is autonomous from details of lower level mechanism in a way that renders RTM unwarranted. (shrink)
Klaus Ruthenberg and Jaap van Brakel (eds): Stuff. The nature of chemical substances Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 183-186 DOI 10.1007/s10698-009-9077-6 Authors Martín Labarca, CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes Buenos Aires Argentina Olimpia Lombardi, CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires Argentina Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 3.
Joan Weiner has recently claimed that Frege neither uses, nor has any need to use, a truth-predicate in his justification of the logical laws. She argues that because of the assimilation of sentences to proper names in his system, Frege does not need to make use of the Quinean device of semantic ascent in order to formulate the logical laws, and that the predicate ‘is the True’, which is used in Frege's justification, is not to be considered as a (...) truth-predicate, because it does not apply to true sentences or true thoughts. The present paper aims to show that Frege needs to use, and does use, a truth-predicate in this context. It is argued, first, that Frege needs to use a truthpredicate in order to show that the truth of the logical laws is evident from the senses of the sentences by means of which they are formulated, and second, that the predicate that he actually uses, ‘is the True’, must be considered as a truth-predicate in the relevant sense, because it can be used and is actually used by Frege to explain the truth-conditions of thoughts. To defend this interpretation, it is discussed whether the explanatory use of ‘is the True’ in Frege's system is compatible with his deflationary analysis of ‘true’. The paper's conclusion is that there is indeed a conflict here; but, from Frege's point of view, this conflict is due merely to the logical imperfection of natural language and does not affect the proper system but only its propaedeutic. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
There has been some theoretical and empirical debate that the positive relationship between corporate social performance (CSP) and firm financial performance (FFP) is spurious and in fact caused by a third factor, namely large firm size. This study examines this question by integrating three meta-analyses of more than two decades of research on (1) CSP and FFP, (2) firm size and CSP, and (3) firm size and FFP into one path-analytic model. The present study does not confirm size as (...) a third factor which would confound the relationship between CSP and FFP. That is, even if firm size is controlled for across studies (comprising, on average, over 15 000 observations), CSP and FFP remain positively correlated, showing a "true-score" corrected path coefficient p of 0.37. (shrink)
The paper is an application of the principle of just deserts (that is, retribution) to the setting of statutory penalties. The conclusion is that there should be no separate penalty for rape but that rape should be punished under the ordinary battery statutes. The argument has four parts. First, there is a description of the place of rape in a typical statutory scheme. Second, there is a consideration of possible justifications for giving rape the status it has in such a (...) typical scheme. All justifications appear to fail for one reason or another. Third, rape is analyzed as battery and the analysis is justified. This analysis includes an explanation of why it would be unjust to punish rape more severely than ordinary batteries. Last, there is a catalogue of some practical advantages to treating rape as battery (for example, simplifying proof of the crime). The paper takes the principle of just deserts (in the form I have elsewhere defended it) for granted, but does add substantially to the understanding of how to apply it. (shrink)
``What Does a Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) Legallyentail?''''Much of the bioethics literature focuses on the morality ofPAS but ignores the legal implications of the conclusions thereby wrought. Specifically, what does a legal right toPAS entail both on the part of the physician and the patient? Iargue that we must begin by distinguishing a right to PAS qua``external'''' to a particular physician-patient relationship from a right to PAS qua ``internal'''' to a particular physician-patientrelationship. The former constitutes a negative (...) claim right inrem that prohibits outside interference with the exercise of aright to PAS while the latter can provide the patient witha positive claim right in personam to obligatory assistancefrom his physician. Importantly, I argue that the creation of sucha patient right, however, originates with the physician who may exercise an unqualified right of first refusal prior to promisingto help her patient commit suicide. In doing so, I hope to establishthat explicit physician promises of assistance in dying shouldbecome legally binding. As such, current PAS law in both theNetherlands and Oregon is in need of substantive modification. (shrink)
But the sort of context sensitivity exhibited in such sentences does not compromise the claim that meaning determines truth conditions, since recourse to context here is directed and restricted by conventional meaning alone. Anyone who understands sentence (2) knows that its utterances are true just in case whatever object is demonstrated in the context of utterance is nice; and he also knows that any utterance of (2) says of, or expresses about, whichever object is demonstrated that it’s nice. (Similarly, (...) anyone who understands (3) knows that any utterance of it is true just in case whoever utters it has eaten. And every utterance says of, or expresses about, the speaker that he or she has eaten.) In sum, according to the thesis that meaning determines truth conditions, (indicative) sentences divide into two classes – those with truth conditions tout.. (shrink)
Allhoff, Fritz, Patrick Lin, and Daniel Moore. 2010. What is nanotechnology and why does it matter? From science to ethics Content Type Journal Article Pages 209-211 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9289-z Authors Jennifer Kuzma, University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 301 19th Ave So, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 2.
In order to overcome the unhealthy perspective of body-mind dualism and become capable of holding the “higher” and healthier perspective of body and mind as will to power, Nietzsche stresses that one must engage in a process of cultivation of the body. Such a practice of self-cultivation involves leaving behind incorporated illusory and life-denying perspectives and incorporating more “truthful” and affirmative perspectives on life. In this article, Nietzsche’s views on the body and its cultivation will be further explored and compared (...) with Japanese Buddhist thought on body, mind, and cultivation. In Japanese thought, the notion of shinjin-ichinyō (oneness of body and mind) was developed in order to overcome a dualistic approach to body and mind. The unity of body and mind plays an essential part in the philosophies of both Kūkai and Dōgen. Whereas in early Indian Buddhism, self-cultivation took place primarily through the mind (citta), in Japanese Buddhist practice the body, not the mind, is the primary locus as exemplified in Dōgen’s somatic practice of zazen. Although from the everyday perspective, body and mind are experienced as two separate things, a higher perspective is possible in which body-mind is experienced as a continually changing configuration of dharmas that doesn’t contain any “I.” Such a higher perspective is called “samadhic awareness” by Dōgen, in which “body and mind are cast off” (shinjin totsuraku). For both Nietzsche and Dōgen, their “philosophy am Leitfaden des Leibes” does not aim at discovering “truths” by means of introspection and thinking, but at increasing the body’s capacity for the incorporation of new and liberating perspectives. (shrink)
Even if all of the content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, there is a considerable difference between the view that consciousness does independent processing and the view that it does not. If all processing is done by the brain, then conscious experience is unnecessary and irrelevant to behavior. If consciousness performs a function, then its association with particular aspects of brain processing reflect its functional use in determining behavior. However, if consciousness does perform a (...) function, it cannot be described entirely by known physical laws. Rather, even if the content of conscious experience follows physical encoding in the brain, consciousness must then be governed in part by a principle which is different from any known physical principle. (shrink)
There has been a great deal of discussion, in this journal and others, about obstacles hindering the evolution of the philosophy of medicine. Such discussions presuppose that there is widespread agreement about what it is that constitutes the philosophy of medicine.Despite the fact that there is, and has been for decades, a great deal of literature, teaching and professional activity carried out explicitly in the name of the philosophy of medicine, this is not enough to establish that consensus exists as (...) to the definition of the field. And even if consensus can be obtained as to what constitutes the philosophy of medicine, this does not mean that it exists as a field. (shrink)
The point of departure for this panel is a somewhat controversial paper that I published in the American Mathematical Monthly under the title “Does mathematics need new axioms?” . The paper itself was based on a lecture that I gave in 1997 to a joint session of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America, and it was thus written for a general mathematical audience. Basically, it was intended as an assessment of Gödel’s program for new axioms (...) that he had advanced most prominently in his 1947 paper for the Monthly, entitled “What is Cantor’s continuum problem?” . My paper aimed to be an assessment of that program in the light of research in mathematical logic in the intervening years, beginning in the 1960s, but especially in more recent years. (shrink)