This essay critically examines Alfred R. Mele’s attempt to solve a problem for libertarianism that he calls the problem of present luck. Many have thought that the traditional libertarian belief in basically free acts (where the latter are any free A-ings that occur at times at which the past up to that time and the laws of nature are consistent with the agent’s not A-ing at that time) entail that the acts are due to luck at the time of the (...) act (present luck) rather than to the kind of agent control required for genuinely free, morally responsible action. While libertarians frequently have tried to rebut the claim that basically free acts are due to present luck, Mele argues for the daring thesis that they should embrace present luck rather than try to explain it away. His strategy is to argue that the assumption of present luck in the decisions of very young children (or “little agents”) does not preclude us from attributing to them a small amount of moral responsibility and that this makes it possible to conceive of moral development as a gradual process in which as the frequency of the indeterministically caused free actions increases, the agents take on greater and greater moral responsibility. In this paper I give several possible reconstructions of Mele’s argument and analyze in detail why none of them succeeds. (shrink)
Experiments with young infants provide evidence for early-developing capacities to represent physical objects and to reason about object motion. Early physical reasoning accords with 2 constraints at the center of mature physical conceptions: continuity and solidity. It fails to accord with 2 constraints that may be peripheral to mature conceptions: gravity and inertia. These experiments suggest that cognition develops concurrently with perception and action and that development leads to the enrichment of conceptions around an unchanging core. The experiments challenge claims (...) that cognition develops on a foundation of perceptual or motor experience, that initial conceptions are inappropriate to the world, and that initial conceptions are abandoned or radically.. (shrink)
Karen Barad develops a view she calls ‘posthumanism,’ or ‘agential realism,’ where the human is reconfigured away from the central place of explanation, interpretation, intelligibility, and objectivity to make room for the epistemic importance of other material agents. Barad is not alone in this kind of endeavor, but her posthumanism offers a unique epistemological position. Her aim is to take a performative rather than a representationalist approach to analyzing ‘socialnatural’ practices and challenge methodological assumptions that may go unnoticed in (...) some disciplinary fields. Yet for all the good of the challenge, Barad must support it with sound epistemological theorizing, theorizing that would apply to any methodology, whether that be sociological, historical, anthropological, or philosophical. Thus, where one might critique Barad on her assessments of sociological, historical, or anthropological incorporations of humans and the nonhuman, I critique Barad’s epistemology on its sense of objectivity and dismissal of the centrality of the human. I argue that Barad’s epistemology must retain a particular form of humanism, a humanism that stakes human subjectivity as the locus of rationality and objectivity, without which it creates intractable problems. To recuperate Barad’s challenge to contest assumptive distinctions while avoiding her epistemological problems, I offer some parting reflections. (shrink)
Karen Warren claims that there is a “logic of domination” at work in the oppressive conceptual frameworks informing both sexism and naturism. Although her account of the principle of domination as a connection between oppressions has been an influential one in ecofeminist theory, it has been challenged by recent criticism. Both Karen Green and John Andrews maintain that the principle of domination,as Warren articulates it, is ambiguous. The principle, according to Green, admits of two possible readings, each of (...) which she finds flawed. Similarly, Andrews claims that the principle is fundamentally inadequate because it cannot distinguish cases of oppressive domination from cases of nonoppressive domination. In this paper, I elucidate Warren’s views and defend her against these and other criticisms put forward by Green and Andrews. I show that Warren’s account of “the logic of domination” successfully illuminates important conceptual features of oppression. (shrink)
Karen-Sue Taussig: Ordinary Genomes: Science, Citizenship and Genetic Identities Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9150-8 Authors Sabina Leonelli, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342.
Feminist and post-colonial epistemologists, philosophers of science, and thinkers more generally may find themselves in a distinct form of difficult situation regarding their access to and authority over knowledge within the academic world. Because feminist and post-colonial approaches to knowledge require an acute awareness of relations of domination and the ways in which these pervade the social and epistemic world, it is often difficult to know how to proceed in making theory. These theorists are in particularly ripe positions to benefit (...) from what philosopher-physicist Karen Barad offers us. In this paper, I engage with parts of Karen Barad’s theory of agential realism, both critically and self-reflexively. I assert that allowing Barad’s theory to inform and structure our thinking and language makes knowers better able to meet certain requirements of epistemological responsibility, particularly with regard to the ways we make theory. Moreover, I attempt to assert this in a way that is mindful of how her theory speaks to and accounts for my doing so. (shrink)
The Exclusion Problem (EP) for mental causation suggests that there is a tension between the claim that the mental causes physical effects, and the claim that the mental does not overdetermine its physical effects. In response, Karen Bennett (2008, 2003) puts forward an extra necessary condition for overdetermination: if one candidate cause were to occur but the other were not to occur, the effect would still occur. She thus denies one of the assumptions of EP, the assumption that if (...) an effect has two sufficient causes, it is overdetermined. If sound, her argument does two things: it solves EP, and it shows how to use counterfactuals in order to make the notion of overdetermination precise. However, the argument is not sound. (shrink)