Philosophical counseling recommends to its clients the activity of philosophical dialogue. The process of thought in dialogue differs from private thought in the greater physical constraints placed upon dialogue. We as yet do not have an understanding of the embodied activity of philosophy sufficient to make viable the marketing of philosophical counseling as a service. The paper is a contribution to such an understanding. The paper considers the notion of a philosophical life and criticizes the possibility of a profession of (...) philosophical counseling. It ends with a tentative defense of philosophical counseling as a marketable service. (shrink)
This article argues against Jon Elster's contention that there is a fundamental incompatibility between, on the one hand, autonomy and rationality, and, on the other hand, adaptation to the conditions of one's existence in the sense that one's desires or preferences are adjusted to what it is possible to achieve. It is claimed that Elster's conclusions are premised on a defective conception of human faculties and powers, including a defective conception of human experience and rationality. Moreover, the claim is made (...) that these defects are also characteristic of "rational choice theory" more generally. (shrink)
This paper argues against Jon Elster's contention that there is a fundamentalincompatibility between, on one hand, autonomy and rationality and, on theother hand, adaptation to conditions of one's existence in the sense that one'sdesires or preferences are adjusted to what it is possible to achieve. While thefirst part of the paper more narrowly concentrated on Elster's discussion ofthese ideas, this second part goes on to a more general discussion of the conceptof rationality. On the basis of this discussion, it is (...) claimed that Elster's conclusionsconcerning autonomy and adaptation are premised on a defective conceptionof human experience and rationality. Moreover, the claim is made that thesedefects are also characteristic of "rational choice theory" more generally. (shrink)
This is a review essay about David Corfield and Jon Williamson's anthology Foundations of Bayesianism. Taken together, the fifteen essays assembled in the book assess the state of the art in Bayesianism. Such an assessment is timely, because decision theory and formal epistemology have become disciplines that are no longer taught on a routine basis in good philosophy departments. Thus we need to ask: Quo vadis, Bayesianism? The subjects of the articles include Bayesian group decision theory, approaches to the concept (...) of probability, Bayesian approaches in the philosophy of mathematics, reflections on the relationship between causation and probability, the Independence axiom, and a range of criticisms of Bayesianism, among other subjects. While critical of some of the arguments presented in the articles, this review recommends Corfield and Williamson's volume to anyone who is trying to stay abreast of Bayesian research. (shrink)
This article discusses fundamental problems in "rational choice theory," as outlined by Jon Elster. Elster's discussion of why institutions may not be said to act shows his fundamental presupposition that only "monolithic," unitary entities are capable of action. This is, for him, a reason why only individual human beings may be said to act. Furthermore, human beings may be said to act only insofar as they "maximize" (their "utility") on the basis of a unitary, complete, consistent "preference structure." All action (...) that is not maximization in this sense is for Elster not really human action, but rather instances of "pure causality." Elster distinguishes between the "real," intentional person, who "maximizes," and "purely causal forces" within the person. This article tries to show that this radical, sharp dichotomy between "intentionality," in this narrow sense, and "pure causality" is inadequate as a basis for understanding human action. This radical dichotomy is central to important arguments made by Elster more generally. (shrink)
Jon Fjeld wrote a paper that he begins by nicely outlining why various criticisms of Fred Sommers theory of types and categories fail. Fjeld puts forth a criticism that avoids the problems with these other criticisms. But, it is argued, his criticism also fails.
Adaptive preferences are preferences formed in response to circumstances and opportunities – paradigmatically, they occur when we scale back our desires so they accord with what is probable or at least possible. While few commentators are willing to wholly reject the normative significance of such preferences, adaptive preferences have nevertheless attracted substantial criticism in recent political theory. The groundbreaking analysis of Jon Elster charged that such preferences are not autonomous, and several other commentators have since followed Elster’s lead. On a (...) second front, Capacity Theorists Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have objected that adaptive preferences lead people away from objective goods and constitute an impediment to progressive change in developing countries. In this paper I argue that the criticisms of Elster, Sen and Nussbaum fail on the one hand to take into account what may be positively said in favour of this type of preference formation, and fail on the other hand to distinguish between different types of psychological changes – with the result that many of the critiques offered have a narrower purview than is currently allowed. My analysis of adaptive preferences, even in their most ideal form, is however not entirely positive; I adduce reasons why we can be cautious about allowing adaptive preferences to play certain types of roles in political processes, even as we accept those very preferences as normative and autonomous for the agent holding them. [International scholars without access to the AJPAE are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org for a pdf copy of this article.]. (shrink)
Sour Grapes aims to subvert orthodox theories of rational choice through the study of forms of irrationality. Dr Elster begins with an analysis of the notation of rationality, to provide the background and terms for the subsequent discussions, which cover irrational behaviour, irrational desires and irrational belief. These essays continue and complement the arguments of Jon Elster's earlier book, Ulysses and the Sirens. That was published to wide acclaim, and Dr Elster shows the same versatility here in drawing on philosophy, (...) political and social theory, decision-theory, economics and psychology, as well as history and literature. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction Jon Miller; Part I. Textual Issues: 1. On the unity of the Nicomachean Ethics Michael Pakaluk; Part II. Happiness: 2. Living for the sake of an ultimate end Susan Sauve;; 3. Contemplation and Eudaimonia in the Nicomachean Ethics Norman O. Dahl; 4. Aristotle on Eudaimonia, Nous, and divinity A. A. Long; Part III. Psychology: 5. Aristotle, agents, and action Iakovos Vasilou; 6. Wicked and inappropriate passion Stephen Leighton; 7. Perfecting pleasures: the metaphysics of pleasure in (...) Nicomachean Ethics X Christopher Shields; 8. Aristotle's definition of non-rational pleasure and pain and desire Klaus Corcilius; 9. Non-rational desire and Aristotle's moral psychology Giles Pearson; Part IV. Virtues: 10. Beauty and morality in Aristotle T. H. Irwin; 11. Justice in the Nicomachean Ethics Book V Hallvard Fossheim. (shrink)
This is the first major study of Michel Foucault as a political thinker. Written in clear prose, Foucault and the Political explores the ramifications for political theory of the whole range of Foucault's writing, including materials only recently made available. Jon Simons argues that Foucault's work is animated by a tension between his presentation of modern life as "unbearably heavy" and his temptation to escape its limitations by aiming for "unbearable lightness." Through expositions of Foucault's ideas on power/knowledge, subjectification, governmentality, (...) political rationality and the aesthetics of existence, Simons demonstrates how Foucault resists both extremes. Foucault's thought entails an ethic of permanent resistance, best embodied in radical democracy. Simons relates Foucault's work both to contemporary political thinkers, such as Michael Walzer, Charles Taylor and Jurgen Habermas, as well as to scholars challenging conventional political categories, especially feminist and gay theorists such as Judith Butler. (shrink)
Jon Stewart's groundbreaking study is a major re-evaluation of the complex relations between the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Hegel. The standard view on the subject is that Kierkegaard defined himself as explicitly anti-Hegelian, indeed that he viewed Hegel's philosophy with disdain. Jon Stewart shows convincingly that Kierkegaard's criticism was not of Hegel but of a number of contemporary Danish Hegelians. Kierkegaard's own view of Hegel was in fact much more positive to the point where he was directly influenced by some (...) of Hegel's work. Any scholar working in the tradition of Continental philosophy will find this an insightful and provocative book with implications for the subsequent history of philosophy in the twentieth century. The book will also appeal to scholars in religious studies and the history of ideas. (shrink)
The essays in this volume consider the question of whether the self is a unity or whether it should be conceived without metaphor as divided - as a 'multiple self'. The issue is a central one for several disciplines. It bears directly on the account of rationality and the explanation of individual decision-making and behaviour. Is the hypothesis of a multiple self required to deal with the problems of self-deception and weakness of will; and can the conceptual tools developed in (...) the study of interpersonal conflict be applied to the analysis of intra-personal struggle? Most of the essays, by a number of leading philosophers, psychologists and economists, appear here for the first time. They bring out the interdisciplinary importance of the question, and will interest readers in all those areas. The volume will also usefully supplement The Foundations of Social Choice Theory, edited by Jon Elster and Aanund Hylland, which appears in the same series and is also concerned with the foundations of rationality. (shrink)
Generic versus single-case causality: the case of autopsy Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper in Philosophy of Science Pages 47-69 DOI 10.1007/s13194-010-0012-4 Authors Federica Russo, Philosophy–SECL, University of Kent, CT2 7NF Canterbury, UK Jon Williamson, Philosophy–SECL, University of Kent, CT2 7NF Canterbury, UK 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.
A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls, is widely regarded as the most important twentieth-century work of Anglo-American political philosophy. It transformed the field by offering a compelling alternative to the dominant utilitarian conception of social justice. The argument for this alternative is, however, complicated and often confusing. In this book Jon Mandle carefully reconstructs Rawls's argument, showing that the most common interpretations of it are often mistaken. For example, Rawls does not endorse welfare-state capitalism, and he is not a (...) 'luck egalitarian' as is widely believed. Mandle also explores the relationship between A Theory of Justice and the developments in Rawls's later work, Political Liberalism, as well as discussing some of the most influential criticisms in the secondary literature. His book will be an invaluable guide for anyone seeking to engage with this ground-breaking philosophical work. (shrink)