Chris Dragos has recently presented two objections to criticisms I've published against Peter van Inwagen's No-Minimum argument. He also suggests that the best way to criticize the No-Minimum argument is via the concept of divine satisficing. In this article I argue that both of Dragos's objections fail, and I question whether satisficing is relevant to the viability of the No-Minimum argument.
All knowledge 'begins with experience,' but it does not therefore 'arise' from experience.The classical American pragmatists are usually considered to be either empiricists or heirs to the empiricist tradition in philosophy. This is unsurprising given the nature of the pragmatist philosophical program as a late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century reaction against transcendental idealism. Pragmatists sought to ground their inquiry resolutely in experience sans speculative metaphysics. However, the pragmatists were also stridently opposed to certain doctrines and epistemological tendencies in British empiricism that (...) they regarded as either implicitly idealist, or as laying a groundwork that stood as the .. (shrink)
Although thick ethical concepts have been neglected in Murdochian scholarship, this article argues that they were central to the thought of Iris Murdoch. In the first section, the article provides a sustained account of thick ethical concepts in Murdoch's philosophy, demonstrating how these concepts align with and illuminate familiar aspects of her philosophical essays. The first section also explores the ways in which Murdoch's alternative account of moral concepts was at the heart of her overall attack on the noncognitivism of (...) her day. In the second section, the article provides a reading of The Black Prince and considers the ways that thick ethical concepts offer new insight into Murdoch's literary activity. It concludes by suggesting that studying Murdoch's philosophy and literature in light of thick ethical concepts reveals a deep unity between her two intellectual projects. (shrink)
It is widely thought that God must love each and every human to the same depth and degree. This proposition plays a prominent role in influential versionsof the problem of evil, and in theistic attempts to answer the problem of evil. A common reason cited in support of the idea of God’s loving equally every human is that a perfect being would possess every great-making property and loving equally every human would be a great-making property. It is the argument of (...) this essay, however, that a perfect being cannot in principle equally love every human. This argument is erected upon an unnoticed principle of perfect being theology: for all properties F, if F is a deficiency when had by a human, then F cannot be great-making when had by God. (shrink)
This research examines how two dimensions of moral intensity involved in a corporation’s external crisis response—magnitude of effectiveness and interpersonal proximity—influence observer perceptions of and behavioral intentions toward the corporation. Across three studies, effectiveness decreased negative perceptions and increased pro-organizational intentions via ethical judgment of the response. Moreover, the two dimensions interacted such that a response high in proximity but low in effectiveness led to more negative perceptions and to less pro-organizational intentions. This interaction was particularly pronounced if the corporation (...) portrayed itself as communal-oriented. The interaction was mediated by individuals’ ethical judgment, which was a function of the corporation’s perceived benevolent concern. We termed the interaction the Strategic Samaritan, for it was when the corporation tried to appear like a Good Samaritan, displaying proximity with victims but not accompanying it with effective help, that it was seen as acting with less benevolent concern. (shrink)
Is the no-minimum claim true? I have argued that it is not. Andrew Cullison contends that my argument fails, since human sentience is variable; while Michael Schrynemakers has contended that the failure is my neglect of vagueness. Both, I argue, are wrong.
In this paper I argue that narratives concerning Periclean Athens have mistakenly imposed modern conceptions of enlightenment onto the Greek world,and have therefore been blinded to crucial aspects of Socrates’s practice of moral reason giving. In contrast to the Kantian conception of enlightenment, which puts forth an image of the ideally enlightened person as an autonomous reasoner, one who refuses to be guided by another and who has the courage to throw off the chains of tradition and “think for oneself,” (...) I argue that Socrates provides us with a much different picture of the enlightened individual. Socrates’s practice of moral reasoning does not take the form of autonomous rationality that is antithetical to tradition, but rather his practice recognizes the rightful authority of tradition and custom in moral reason giving. Thus, rather than characterizing Socrates through a Kantian enlightenment reading, this paper argues that we should study Socrates through the lens of the sensus communis, a humanist concept articulated well by Giambattista Vico and Hans Georg-Gadamer. (shrink)
‘William L. Rowe on Philosophy of Religion’ edited by Nick Trakakis, collects 30 papers of William Rowe's important work in the philosophy of religion. I review this collection, and offer an objection of one of Rowe's arguments.
This investigation applies a social cognition framework to examine moral awareness in business situations. Using a vignette-based instrument, the investigation compares the recall, recognition, and ascription of importance to moral-versus strategy-related issues in business managers (n = 86) and academic professors (n = 61). Results demonstrate that managers recall strategy-related issues more than moral-related issues and recognize and ascribe importance to moral-related issues less than academics. It also finds an inverse relationship between socialization in the business context and moral awareness. (...) Future directions for moral awareness research and the practical implications for these findings are discussed. (shrink)
There is quite a bit of disagreement in cognitive science regarding the role that consciousness and control play in explanations of how people do what they do. The purpose of the present paper is to do the following: (1) examine the theoretical choice points that have lead theorists to conflicting positions, (2) examine the philosophical and empirical problems different theories encounter as they address the issue of conscious agency, and (3) provide an integrative framework (Wild Systems Theory) that addresses these (...) problems and potentially naturalizes conscious agency. It does so by grounding conscious and control in the notion of self-sustaining energy-transformation systems (i.e., living systems), versus computational or self- organizing systems, as is the case in information processing theory and dynamical systems theory, respectively. Given its assertion that content (and consciousness) emerges in self-sustaining systems, Wild Systems Theory may also provide a sound theoretical basis for a science of consciousness in general. (shrink)
The concept of contextual emergence has been introduced as a speci?c kind of emergence in which some, but not all of the conditions for a higher-level phenomenon exist at a lower level. Further conditions exist in contingent contexts that provide stability conditions at the lower level, which in turn accord the emergence of novelty at the higher level. The purpose of the present paper is to propose that (proto-) consciousness is a contextually emergent property of self-sustaining systems. The core assumption (...) is that living organisms constitute self-sustaining embodiments of the contingent contexts that accord their emergence. We propose that the emergence of such systems constitutes the emergence of content-bearing systems because the lower-level processes of such systems give rise to and sustain the macro-level whole (i.e., body) in which they are nested, while the emergent macro-level whole constitutes the context in which the lower- level processes can be for something (i.e., be functional). Such embodied functionality is necessarily and naturally about the contexts that it has embodied. It is this notion of self- sustaining embodied aboutness that we propose to represent a type of content capable of evolving into consciousness. (shrink)
The evidential argument from evil seeks to show that suffering is strong evidence against theism. The core idea of the evidential argument is that we know of innocent beings suffering for no apparent good reason. Perhaps the most common criticism of the evidential argument comes from the camp of skeptical theism, whose lot includes William Alston, Alvin Plantinga, and Stephen Wykstra. According to skeptical theism the limits of human knowledge concerning the realm of goods, evils, and the connections between values, (...) undermines the judgment that what appears as pointless evil really is pointless. For all we know the suffering of an innocent being, though appearing pointless, in fact leads to a greater good. In this paper I argue that no one who accepts the doctrines of skeptical theism has a principled way of avoiding moral skepticism. (shrink)
Is it reasonable to believe in God even in the absence of strong evidence that God exists? Pragmatic arguments for theism are designed to support belief even if one lacks evidence that theism is more likely than not. Jeff Jordan proposes that there is a sound version of the most well-known argument of this kind, Pascal's Wager, and explores the issues involved - in epistemology, the ethics of belief, decision theory, and theology.
Grush makes extensive use of von Holst and Mittelstaedt's (1950) efference copy hypothesis. Although his embellishment of the model is admirably more sophisticated than that of its progenitors, I argue that it still suffers from the same conceptual limitations as entailed in its original formulation.
The present paper analyzes the regularities referred to via the concept 'self.' This is important, for cognitive science traditionally models the self as a cognitive mediator between perceptual inputs and behavioral outputs. This leads to the assertion that the self causes action. Recent findings in social psychology indicate this is not the case and, as a consequence, certain cognitive scientists model the self as being epiphenomenal. In contrast, the present paper proposes an alternative approach (i.e., the event-control approach) that is (...) based on recently discovered regularities between perception and action. Specifically, these regularities indicate that perception and action planning utilize common neural resources. This leads to a coupling of perception, planning, and action in which the first two constitute aspects of a single system (i.e., the distal-event system) that is able to pre-specify and detect distal events. This distal-event system is then coupled with action (i.e., effector-control systems) in a constraining, as opposed to 'causal' manner. This model has implications for how we conceptualize the manner in which one infers the intentions of another, anticipates the intentions of another, and possibly even experiences another. In conclusion, it is argued that it may be possible to map the concept 'self' onto the regularities referred to in the event-control model, not in order to reify 'the self' as a causal mechanism, but to demonstrate its status as a useful concept that refers to regularities that are part of the natural order. (shrink)
Cognitive psychologists tend to treat intentionality as a control variable during experiments, yet ignore it when generating mechanistic descriptions of performance. Wynn's work brings this conflict into striking relief and, when considered in relation to recent neurophysiological findings, makes it clear that intentionality can be regarded mechanistically if one defines it as the planning of distal effects.
Pascal is best known among philosophers for his wager in support of Christian belief. Since Ian Hacking’s classic article on the wager, three versions of the wager have been recognized within the concise paragraphs of the Pensées. In what follows I argue that there is a fourth to be found there, a version that in many respects anticipates the argument of William James in his 1896 essay “The Will to Believe.” This fourth wager argument, I contend, differs from the better-known (...) three in that it has as a premise the proposition that theistic belief is more rewarding than non-belief in this life, whether God exists or not. As we will see, this proposition provides a way of circumventing the many-gods objection. From the four wagers found in Pascal’s Pensées, I argue, one can salvage the resources for a version of the wager, Pascalian in nature, even if not in origin, immune to the many-gods objection. A brief comment on the apologetic role Pascal intended for the wagers played is our first task at hand. (shrink)
Hommel et al. propose that action planning and perception utilize common resources. This implies perception should have intention-relative content. Data supporting this implication are presented. These findings challenge the notion of perception as “seeing.” An alternative is suggested (i.e., perception as distal control) that may provide a means of integrating representational and ecological approaches to the study of organism-environment coordination.
The first part of this paper exposits William Rowe's latest version of the evidential argument from evil. Integral to this new version is what we can call the 'level-playing field' requirement, which regulates probability values. It is the argument of the second part of this paper that either the two premises of the new version are regulated by the level-playing-field requirement or they're not. If they are both regulated, then no one would be in position to rationally accept one (...) of those premises; if they're not both regulated, then the theist would have good reason to reject the one that is. Either way, Rowe's latest version of the evidential argument fails. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar reveal that adherence to the radical neuron doctrine cannot be maintained via appeals to scientific principles. Using arguments from (1) naturalism and materialism, (2) unification, and (3) exemplars, it is shown that the “mind-is-brain” materialism explicit in the trivial version of the neuron doctrine ultimately suffers the same theoretical fate. Cognitive science, if it is to adopt an ontology at all, would be better served by a metaphysically neutral ontology such as double-aspect theory or neutral monism.
Pascal's wager attempts to provide a prudential reason in support of the rationality of believing that God exists. The wager employs the idea that the utility of theistic belief, if true, is infinite, and in this way, the expected utility of theism swamps that of any of its rivals. Not surprisingly the wager generates more than a good share of philosophical criticism. In this essay I examine two recent objections levelled against the wager and I argue that each fails. Following (...) this, I argue that a transfinite version of the wager -- one using the idea of an infinite utility -- is incompatible with standard axiomatic constructions of decision-theory and, as a consequence, the Pascalian would be well-advised to give up the idea of an infinite utility and employ only a finite version of the wager. The consequences of limiting the wager to finite utilities are also explored. (shrink)
Ballard et al. model eye position as a deictic pointer for spatial perception. Evidence from research on gaze control indicates, however, that shifts in actual eye position are neither necessary nor sufficient to produce shifts in spatial perception. Deictic context is instead provided by the interaction between two deictic pointers; one representing actual eye position, and the other, intended eye position.
The array seen when saccading across a point light source blinking in the dark is displaced in the direction of the saccade. This displacement reflects an abrupt shift of spatiotopic coordinates that precedes the actual eye movement. The extraretinal signal mediating this discrete shift appears to be an oculomotor reference signal, specifying intended eye orientation, that changes discretely before saccades.
This collection of essays is dedicated to William Rowe, with great affection, respect, and admiration. The philosophy of religion, once considered a deviation from an otherwise analytically rigorous discipline, has flourished over the past two decades. This collection of new essays by twelve distinguished philosophers of religion explores three broad themes: religious attitudes of faith, belief, acceptance, and love; human and divine freedom; and the rationality of religious belief. Contributors include: William Alston, Robert Audi, Jan Cover, Martin Curd, Peter van (...) Inwagen, Norman Kretzmann, George Nakhnikian, John Hawthorne, Philip Quinn, James Ross, Eleonore Stump, and William Wainwright. (shrink)