The moral psychology of sympathy is the linchpin of the sentimentalist moral theories of both David Hume and Adam Smith. In this paper, I attempt to diagnose the critical differences between Hume's and Smith's respective accounts of sympathy in order to argue that Smithian sympathy is more properly suited to serve as a basis for impartial moral evaluations and judgments than is Humean sympathy. By way of arguing this claim, I take up the problem of overcoming sympathetic partiality in the (...) construction of a moral point of view, acknowledged by both writers, as my primary platform. My contention is that Humean sympathy is too mechanistic to actually deliver an impartial adjudicatory perspective, and that Smithian sympathy, with its evaluative, imaginative components, succeeds where Hume's account falls short. The paper is comprised of six sections: (i) introductory remarks, (ii) a discussion of Humean sympathy, (iii) a discussion of Smithian sympathy and its distinctness, (iv) a critical analysis of Hume's attempt to correct for sympathetic partiality in the construction of the judicial spectator's general point of view, (v) a critical discussion of sympathetic partiality in Smithian sympathy & (vi) a critical analysis of Smith's construction of the impartial spectator perspective as a moral point of view. (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)
Author comments Rick Grush’s statements about emulation and embodied approach to representation. He proposes his modification of Grush’s definition of emulation, criticizing notion of “standing in for”. He defends of notion of representation. He claims that radical embodied theories are not applicable to all cognition.
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 email@example.com for a pdf copy of this article.]. (shrink)