Cohen employs in his book Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defense in light of its recent republication. In recent years, Roy Bhaskar has provided a convincing critique of the empiricist philosophy of social science that Cohen employs, and this article tries to provide an assessment of his method from a Bhaskarian perspective. It begins with an exposition of functional explanation, followed by the Bhaskarian critique by demonstrating that functionalism is unworkable because it is dependent on an empiricist (...) account of causation. Key Words: functional explanation empiricist philosophy causation. (shrink)
El artículo ofrece una interpretación de la controversial y aparentemente inaceptable caracterización de la poesía desarrollada por Platón en la República. Los objetivos principales de la discusión son: aclarar las motivaciones de dicha caracterización, desentrañar los múltiples y discontinuos argumentos que la componen, y evaluar críticamente sus aciertos y sus límites. Se concluye que no todas las posturas que adopta Platón frente a la poesía son insostenibles, y que cuando sí lo son las razones para ello resultan particularmente esclarecedoras. The (...) article offers an interpretation of the controversial and apparently unacceptable characterization of poetry developed in Plato's Republic. The main objectives of the discussion are: to clarify the motivations for such characterization, to disentangle the various and discontinuous arguments that compose it, and to critically evaluate its limitations and the extent of its defensibility. It is concluded that not all the positions adopted by Plato with respect to poetry are unsustainable, and that when they are, this is due to reasons which result particularly revealing. (shrink)
In a paper in this journal, Neil Levy challenges Nicholas Agar’s argument for the irrationality of mind-uploading. Mind-uploading is a futuristic process that involves scanning brains and recording relevant information which is then transferred into a computer. Its advocates suppose that mind-uploading transfers both human minds and identities from biological brains into computers. According to Agar’s original argument, mind-uploading is prudentially irrational. Success relies on the soundness of the program of Strong AI—the view that it may someday be (...) possible to build a computer that is capable of thought. Strong AI may in fact be false, an eventuality with dire consequences for mind-uploading. Levy argues that Agar’s argument relies on mistakes about the probability of failed mind-uploading and underestimates what is to be gained from successfully mind-uploading. This paper clarifies Agar’s original claims about the likelihood of mind-uploading failure and offers further defense of a pessimistic evaluation of success. (shrink)
Five years ago, an article co-written by two of us (Joly and Simard) presented an emerging trend to disclose certain individual genetic results to research participants. Since then, both technologies and research practices have evolved significantly. Given this rapid evolution, our goal is to provide updated and thorough guidance on this issue. Our paper begins by identifying the ethical principles that support the return of results: justice, beneficence, and respect for persons. Then, it presents the results of an analysis (...) of international norms on the return of results, covering both general and individual research results. It reveals existing divergence and consensus on these topics within the international community. With the goal of promoting greater harmonization, we conclude by proposing a flexible framework for the return of individual research results. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker has claimed that functionalism, a theory\nabout mental states, implies a certain theory about the\nidentity over time of persons, the entities that have\nmental states. He also claims that persons can survive a\n"Brain-State-Transfer" procedure. My examination of these\nclaims includes description and analysis of imaginary\ncases, but--notably--not appeals to our "intuitions"\nconcerning them. It turns out that Shoemaker's basic\ninsight is correct. But there is no implication that it is\nnecessary. (edited).
Critics of human cloning allege that the results of the process are likely to suffer from compromised identities making it near impossible for them to live worthwhile lives. This paper uses the account of the metaphysics of personal identity offered by Derek Parfit to investigate and support the claim of identity-compromise. The cloned person may, under certain circumstances, be seen as surviving, to some degree, in the clone. However, I argue that rather than warranting concern, the potential for survival by (...) cloning ought to help protect against the misuse of the technology. (shrink)
Amarnath Amarasingham, ed., Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010. xv + 253 pp. ISBN 978-9-0041-8557-9, hardback £81.00/€139.00/$190.00. Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines (religious studies, sociology of religion, sociology of science, philosophy and theology) in order to critically engage with so-called ‘new atheism’. The study is a collection of essays that not so much gives primacy to discrediting the limited scholarship of new atheist (...) literature (although there is plenty of powerful critique to be found in its pages) but demonstrates where we can place new atheism in relation to generally more informed and intellectually rigorous debates about religion and atheism. This review essay examines their powerful arguments and briefly introduces possible Bhaskarian, Hegelian and Darwinian-Marxian contributions to the case against new atheism. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to account for the value of species in terms of the value of individual organisms that make them up. Many authors have pointed to an apparent conflict between a species preservationist ethic and moral theories that place value on individuals. I argue for an account of the worth of individual organisms grounded in the representational goals of those organisms. I claim thatthis account leads to an acceptably extensive species preservationist ethic.
This paper intends to deal with Condillacian Linguistics. Although the Condillacian philosophy of mind and analysis of language were the most important in the late eighteenth century, none of them is mentioned in Chomsky's work (1966, Cartesian Linguistics). It would be useful for the history of Western thought if Chomsky's monumental error were generally recognized and if Condillacian Linguistics were at last to find the place it rightly deserves. The main thesis of Condillac's linguistic ideas (language is the first step (...) in the analysis of thought) is briefly presented with reference to its context and consequences. (shrink)
This paper presents arguments for two claims. First, post-persons, beings with a moral status superior to that of mere persons, are possible. Second, it would be bad to create such beings. Actions that risk bringing them into existence should be avoided. According to Allen Buchanan, it is possible to enhance moral status up to the level of personhood. But attempts to improve status beyond that fail for want of a target - there is no category of moral status superior to (...) that of personhood. Buchanan presents personhood as a threshold. He allows that persons may succeed in enhancing their cognitive and physical powers but insists that they cannot enhance their moral status. I argue that it is an implication of accounts that make a cognitive capacity, or collection of such capacities, constitutive of moral status, that those who do not satisfy the criteria for a given status find these criteria impossible to adequately describe. This obstacle notwithstanding, I offer an inductive argument for the existence of moral statuses superior to personhood, moral statuses that are necessarily beyond human expressive powers. The second part of this paper presents an argument that it is wrong to risk producing beings with moral status higher than persons. We should look upon moral status enhancement as creating especially morally needy beings. We are subject to no obligation to create them in the first place. We avoid creating their needs by avoiding creating them. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to quickly sketch a teleological approach to the problem of isolating the impact of genes on phenotypic characters. I begin by arguing that it is a mistake to think that there will be only one analysis of genetic input suitable for all theoretical interests. My principle focus is Richard Dawkins' argument for genic selectionism. I argue that a teleological analysis of genetic input is what Dawkins requires to establish the right kind of mapping of (...) gene onto phenotype. This comes at a certain cost, however. Accepting the analysis will threaten Dawkins' claims about the teleogogical priority of gene over phenotype. (shrink)
Le laboratoire alchimique, qui passe volontiers pour le lieu privilégié de l’élaboration de la chimie ancienne, symbolisait à la fois le caractère privé, si ce n’est secret, de cette science et la nécessaire articulation de ses théories avec une pratique qui lui donnait son sens : il ne s’agissait pas seulement de trouver la pierre philosophale, mais aussi de fabriquer des médicaments et des substances chimiques répondant aux demandes sociales. Lieu privé, réservé à des disciples choisis, il ..